«1 UNRAVELLING THE MYSTERIES OF MIND AND BODY THROUGH ABHIDHAMMA BY Sayalay Susila PUBLISHED BY INWARD PATH PUBLISHER House of Inward Journey 35 ...»
UNRAVELLING THE MYSTERIES OF
MIND AND BODY
BY Sayalay Susila
INWARD PATH PUBLISHER
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Abhidhamma appears dull, complicated, difficult to understand, irrelevant to most, in daily life and meditation practices. Therefore it is largely ignored. I intend to make Abhidha mma easier and accessible to all, by using simple, direct language to explain the profound Abhidhamma concepts, while keeping the essence of Dhamma. In this way, I have extracted the essence of Abhidhamma and relate the importance of it to one's daily life and meditation practice, putting them into context that is easily understood. It is my sincere wish that this book reaches and benefits more people, assisting them to acknowledge and receive the immense value and usefulness of Abhidhamma in the path leading to happiness, both mundane and supramundane.
I hope the effect of this dhamma will enable you to understand the subtle workings of your mind, so that it will inspire you with the spiritual urgency to “avoid evil, do good and purify your mind”, which is the core teachings of the Buddha.
The practical aspects of Abhidhamma set out in this book, are attributable to the Most Respectable Venerable U ¾ciööa, Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw, from his many years experience of teaching samatha and vipassanŒ meditations based on Abhidhamma. I shall also be sharing with you, many of the actual insights experienced by meditators at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery.
I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness and utmost gratitude to my master, T Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw, who had untiringly he taught me Abhidhamma and meditation. He encouraged this project with innumerable helpful suggestions and he rejoiced with me in its completion. My appreciation to him is beyond what words can adequately express, as he has patiently and unfailingly guided me in the dhamma, during my long years of association with him.
Acknowledgement is gratefully made to the helpful contributions to this book, by the following works mentioned in the Bibliography, in particular, 'A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma' by Bhikkhu Bodhi and the works of Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw.
I would like to thank profusely Maureen Bodenbach, without whose help this book would not have materialised. She accompanied me on the teaching trips for the entire four months in Canada and America, taking good care of my physical well-being, assisting me with the English language, doing the typing and taking great pains to draw the diagrams and charts. My special thanks to Tilaka De Zoysa and her group, for so kindly provided for most of my needs.
When I left America, the first draft of the book was completed. I thank Venerable U KuöadhŒna for helping with the correct fonts. I would also like to acknowledge the following people who had graciously given their effort and time to help me with this book: Eddie Barin, Casey Goh, Teo Su Chen, Ng Wai Chong, Joey Chang, Dorothy Soo, and Kim Lim. Finally, my special appreciation to Laurene Lam, whose contribution make s this final version possible.
I solely take the total responsibility for any inaccuracy in words or content in this book with regards to the dhamma. I dedicate all merits accrued from this book to my teachers, parents, relatives, friends, readers and all who had contributed to this work in one way or another.
May these merits be shared with all sentient beings.
May all beings be well and happy.
May all beings be able to practice the three-fold training of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom, appropriately and successfully.
Foreword “Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and see. For one who knows what, for one who sees what, does the destruction of the taints come about? The destruction of the taints comes about for one who knows and sees: ‘This is the Noble Truth of Suffering’;
2. for one who knows and sees: ‘This is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Sufferin g’;
3. for one who knows and sees: ‘This is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering’;
4. for one who knows and sees ‘This is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering’.
“It is for one who knows thus, for one who sees thus, that the destruction of the taints comes about.” “Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘this is The Noble Truth of Suffering. An exertion should be made to understand: ‘this is The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering’. An exertion should be made to understand: ‘this is The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. An exertion should be made to understand: ‘this is The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering.’” This is the “Asavakkhaya Sutta” (“the destruction of the Taints”) of the Saccasa§yutta. In this sutta the Buddha taught that without having realized The Four Noble Truths, the destruction of the taints is impossible; but having realized The Four Noble Truths, the destruction of the taints is possible.
If a meditator wants to realize the destruction of the taints or to become a noble one (Ariya), he must first realize The Four Noble Truths. Among these four, The Noble Truth of Suffering (Dukkhasacca) and The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering (Samudayasacca) are the objects of insight knowledge (VipassanŒ ).
First of all, a meditator should try to realize The Noble Truth of suffering. What is The Noble Truth of Suffering? In the “Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta” (“The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of the Dhamma”), the Buddha explains in brief that, the five aggregates of clinging are suffering. And in the “Mahàsa tipaññhàna
Sutta”, the ‘Great Sutta on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness’, He explains:
“And what bhikkhus, in brief, are the five aggrega tes of clinging? They are as
1) the materiality aggregate of clinging;
2) the feeling aggregate of clinging;
3) the perception aggregate of clinging;
4) the mental formations aggregate of clinging;
5) the consciousness aggregate of clinging.” In this book, the author compiles information from the PŒli texts to help the reader understand these five aggregates which are equivalent to consciousness, mental factors and matter, and thus lay a foundation for a basic understanding of Abhidhamma. The Abhidhamma’s, function, on the other hand, is to provide a unified and detailed picture, or “map,” of the five aggregates from the perspective of ultimate mentality and ultimate materiality. Without such a map to guide one’s progress, one may easily fall prey to the numerous pitfalls of wrong view and never arrive at a correct understanding of The First Noble Truth.
Before one can realize NibbŒna, The Third Noble Truth, one needs to know and see not only The First Noble Truth, but also The Second Noble Truth - The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering. In the Titthàyatana Sutta of the
Aïguttara NikŒya, the Buddha explains The Second Noble Truth as follows:
“And what, bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering?
• with ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be];
• with volitional formations as condition, consciousness;
• with consciousness as condition, mentality-materiality;
• with mentality-materiality as condition, the six sense-bases;
• with the six sense-bases as condition, contact;
• with contact as condition, feeling;
• with feeling as condition, craving;
• with craving as condition, clinging;
• with clinging as condition, becoming;
• with becoming as condition, birth;
• with birth as condition, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, grief and despair come to be.
This is the origin of the whole mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering.” When one's vipassanŒ insight knowledge matures through The Fourth Noble Truth, the Noble Eightfold Path, one knows and sees the unconditioned element (Asaïkhata-dhŒtu) NibbŒna. Thus, one realizes The Third Noble Truth. There are four levels of Path knowledge, which destroy the taints, or defilements, stage by stage. At each stage, the meditator’s understanding of The Four Noble Truths grows clearer and clearer, gradually dispelling the clouds of ignorance that have shrouded the mind in darkness for so many lifetimes.
The author presents The Four Noble Truths in the Abhidhamma's perspective, which is the most profound way to explain the Dhamma, with practical examples from various angles, in great clarity that can be easily understood by the average person. It also enables one to make sense of the Buddha's teachings from another perspective. It is empowering and enlightening as it relates, links, and provide the rationale to one's life experiences, meditation practice experiences, and the intellectual understanding of the dhamma, regardless of whichever traditions and creed one is from.
I highly recommend this book to those who wish to gain a comprehensive understanding of Abhidhamma and its benefits, not only in the practice of meditation, in the direction of one's life, but also in one's daily activities. The reader will find this book transforming since the author had clearly explained which types of activities are wholesome and which types are unwholesome.
Furthermore, she gave the rationale and the consequences of committing them.
For a Buddhist to understand which activities are wholesome (kusala), and which activities are unwholesome (akusala) is very important. Only endowed with this understanding, will one be able to accumulate wholesome dhammas for one's own benefits as well as others, and avoid accumulating unwholesome ones.
Among the wholesome dhammas described in this book, the threefold training of morality (s²la), concentration (samàdhi), and wisdom (paññŒ) is most vital.
Without this threefold training, there is no Path. And without the Path, there can be no Path Knowledge. Without Path Knowledge, there can be no Cessation of Suffering, so one cannot possibly liberate oneself from the cycle of sa§sàric existence. Therefore this threefold training, in fact, is the one most essential dhamma for the attainment of Nibbàna.
May all living beings find the opportunity to undertake this threefold training, and may they experience the timeless peace and happiness of Nibbàna.
Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw Pa-Auk Tawya Monastery
UNRAVELLING THE MYSTERY OF MIND AND BODYThrough the Abhidhamma Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa Homage to Him, the Exalted, the Worthy, the Fully Enlightened One Ch.1)Introduction
How true is it? Only when we understand how the mind works, will we be truly convinced. Mind is something so close to us, and yet so far from our understanding. Mind is the culprit behind all of our unwholesome bodily actions and speech, and it is also the director of our good behaviour that soothes everyone’s heart.
The study of Abhidhamma helps us to understand how the mind works, which is the essential factor for us to lead a happy and blameless life. In Abhidhamma, the ultimate reality of mind-and-matter, which makes up this socalled being, is minutely defined into the process of its momentary arising and passing away, dependent on causes and conditions. Thus, the study of Abhidhamma also helps to shed the illusion of ‘I’ or of a permanent self. Most of the problems in life spring from the ignorance and craving of ‘I’ or the selfcentredness of ‘I’. However, when one understands that there is no ‘I’ in the ultimate sense, through practical meditation experience based on Abhidhamma, one will be able to let go of the intense clinging to it.
The Abhidhamma Pi aka, one of the three collections (tipi aka), is an exposition of ultimate realities in detail. Abhidhamma is a combination of two words: Abhi and Dhamma. Abhi means higher, special, or sublime. Dhamma means Ultimate Realities or Teachings. Hence, Abhidhamma is that which exceeds and is distinguished from the Dhamma. Why? It is because all Dhammas are fully classif ied and explained by the Buddha in Abhidhamma, but is only partially expounded in Suttas. It is the precious teaching of Buddha’s unimpeded omniscient knowledge (sabbaññuta-ñaöa), acquired through a long period of four incalculable aeons (asaökheyya) and a hundred thousand aeons (kappas). The Theravada tradition regards the Abhidhamma, as the most perfect expression of the true nature of existence that had been apprehended by the penetrative mind of a Fully Enlightened One.
Abhidhamma expound the Higher Teachings that deals only with Ultimate Realities, or Truths. According to the Abhidhamma philosophy, there