By the Sayadaw of Saddhammaransi Meditation Centre
Mayangone Township, Yangon,
(The first of the nine causes which sharpen the controlling faculties of confidence, effort, mindfulness, concentration and knowledge.)
To-day's Dhamma talk will be about the benefits of practising Insight Meditation, the difficulty of getting an opportunity to practise it and about one of the nine causes which sharpen the controlling faculties (Indriya).
In the early stage of meditating, the benefits of Vipassana will not be very evident; but in the middle and later stages the benefits of Vipassana Meditation will manifest themselves. As concentration develops to a moderate extent, the benefits of a clear and calm mind, of a strong and determined mind, of freedom from illness and pain can be attained. The benefit of sharpened wisdom can also be acquired. From the stage where one is freed from the rounds of rebirth in the unhappy life of lower existences (Apaya), the stage which one should want and wish for, insight into the exceptional and noble laws of Dhamma will be achieved.
When stating that Vipassana Meditation makes the mind clear and calm, we should find out why the mind is not clear and calm. Greed and desire, hatred and anger, ignorance and delusion are the causes which defile the mind; but when Vipassana Meditation is practised, there will be freedom from greed, anger and delusion in every instant of contemplating and noting.
As it is not possible to desire anything while contemplating and noting, there will be freedom from greed; there will also be freedom from anger for it is inconceivable that anger could arise while practising Vipassana Meditation. There will be freedom from delusion, for it is inconceivable that you should be distracted and confused while practising Vipassana Meditation. Thus, the mind will be clear and calm because it is free from greed, anger and delusion. If peace of mind is what you wish to acquire, you must practise meditation; it will not be very evident in the beginning, but later, a clear and calm state of mind will become noticeably perceptible.
When stating that the mind becomes strong and firm, we should find out why the mind is weak; greed is the cause. When persons with an avaricious nature find a sense object of desire, their craving is so great that the minds waver; they lose control of themselves. When persons with strong feelings of anger find a sense object of anger, they become angry and lose control of themselves; they waver. We may say that their minds are weak.
To strengthen such weak minds Vipassana Meditation should be practised. While meditating, with every observation and noting, greed and anger which cause the mind to waver, will disappear. Even when they find sense objects of desire, their minds will no longer be perturbed and agitated or waver because of these sense objects; they will no longer crave for them. When they find sense objects of anger, their anger will no longer be so aroused; their minds will be stronger and firmer.
It is Vipassana Meditation that strengthens the mind. Is it good to have a weak mind? No, it is not. It is only a weak mind that is roused by a sense object, causing extreme greed and anger. If you wish for a firm and strong mind, you must practise Vipassana Meditation.
It is possible to become free from illness and pain by meditating. When you reach the stage of knowledge of arising and passing away (Udayabbaya nana) you will clearly perceive that common illnesses and pains disappear. The present congregation and yogis may already know this. Yogis who observe well and note properly during meditation and that they do not wish to take medicines when common ills and pains occur. They find that the curative effects of medicines are slow. Yogis have often reported that by observing and noting, common ills such as neck pains, headaches and constricting pains are quickly cured.
Yogis whose observations and notings have gained intensity and consequently have attained the knowledge of arising and passing away (Udayabbaya nana) find that without taking medication, their illnesses are cured by just observing and noting. Usually, common ailments such as headache or muscle cramps which yogis initially had, would often be cured when they reached the stage of Udayabbaya nana.
Persons with serious and chronic illnesses which could not be cured by physicians nor by the best medicines have been cured by striving in their meditation and attaining Sankharupekkha nana. Insight arising from Equanimity.
It is very evident that diseases which are at an early stage are cured when yogis persevere in their meditation and attain Sankharupekkha nana, Insight arising from equanimity. Yogis who have been cured of diseases which physicians and the most effective medicines could not cure, develop complete faith in the Dhamma. Their unshakable faith and belief are of great advantage to the Sasana, the teaching of the Buddha. Thus it is clear that the benefit of illnesses being cured can be attained.
However, meditating without special effort will not bring about a cure. Persons suffering from serious illnesses must meditate with great perseverance until Sankharupekkha nana is attained. If they do so, the illnesses are invariably cured.
Wisdom becomes keen (sharp). This is very evident in persons who have advanced moderately in the stages of knowledge or insight. Yogis who, before practising meditation, could not understand advanced Buddhist literature when reading them, have discovered that after they attain Sankharupekkha nana and leave the meditation centre, they can read, understand and appreciate advanced Buddhist literature and read them to completion. Thus the benefit of sharpened wisdom is evident.
Students who practise Vipassana Meditation and reach the advanced stages of knowledge or insight, also find that when being taught their lessons in class, they learn exceptionally well and often pass their examinations with distinctions. That is why nowadays, some students practise Vipassana Meditation when they can find time. The benefits are great indeed; with whatever objectives meditation is practised, practising it will be very beneficial. Thus, the benefits of sharpened wisdom for students are quite evident. But these are ordinary benefits.
The real, fundamental benefit of practising Vipassana Meditation will be clearly realized after progressing through the stages of knowledge and attaining Sotapatti Magga nana, knowledge of entering the stream of the Path. All old evil deeds committed by yogis because of their wickedness in countless and numberless existences, which could send them to Hell, will be annihilated when they attain Sotapatti Magga nana. Sotapatti Magga nana will annihilate them.
If there be any old evil deeds committed by yogis because of ignorance and foolishness when young, in this existence, which could send them to Hell, all will be annihilated. Sotapatti Magga nana will annihilate them. They will never have a chance to cause rebirth in the lower existences of Samsara Sotapatti Magga nana annihilates them forever.
These yogis need no longer fear the rounds of rebirth, Samsara, for they have gained Vipassana nana, the ability of attaining insight, having attained Sotapatti nana. When they die, they will have no doubts as to whether they might go to Hell or he reborn as animals. They will be assured of never falling into those existences.
When they die, they will no longer have doubts as to whether they might be reborn in the existences of Petas; they will not get to those existences. When they die, they will have no doubts as to whether they might get to the extremely ugly and dreadful existence of Asuras. They will know that no longer will they get to such existences and they will be able to face the rounds of rebirth ,without fear. Sotapatti Magga nana also annihilates coarse greed, anger and delusion. Therefore, the five precepts are fully observed and well kept; consequently, the yogis cannot get to the woeful states of lower existences.
Members of the present congregation and all persons who are not noble beings, i.e. ordinary worldlings (puthujjana) also have to observe the five precepts so that they may be well kept. But this observance is different from that of Sotapanna stream winners. Persons who are not noble beings i.e. ordinary worldlings, must take special care to safeguard the observance of the five precepts.
When persons who are not noble beings have an opportunity to kill another, they must reflect as follows: it is not right for a person such as I who is old, to kill another; it is not right for a person such as I who is of noble lineage, to kill another; it is not right for a person such as I who ever since I was young has behaved with pure morality, to kill another, etc., and thus develop Hiri ottappa, Shame and fear, to safeguard their Sila (morality). Also, when they have an opportunity to steal another person's property, they must reflect in a similar manner.i.e. It is not right for a person such as I who is old, to steal another person's property; it is not right for a person such as I who is of noble lineage, to steal another person's property; it is not right for a person such as I who ever since I was young has behaved with pure morality, to steal another person's property etc. and thereby develop Hiri Ottappa. Only by doing so is Sila safeguarded.
Also, when they have an opportunity to harm the children and wives of others, they must reflect in a similar manner. i.e. It is not right for a person such as I who is old, to harm the children and wives of others; it is not right for a person such as I who is of noble lineage to harm the children and wives of others; it is not right for a person such as I who ever since I was young has behaved with pure morality, to harm the children and wives of others etc. and thereby develop Hiri Ottappa. Only by doing so is Sila safeguarded.
They must also reflect in this manner when they have an opportunity to lie or to take intoxicants. Only by doing so is Sila protected. Persons who are not noble beings need much reflection to safeguard their Sila. Only by reflecting is Sila safeguarded.
Persons who have become Sotapanna, stream- winners, do not need to reflect specially in order to safeguard the Five Precepts; they will be automatically observed and safeguarded. Thoughts of wanting to kill another, to steal another's property, to harm the children and wives of others, to lie and to take intoxicants can no longer occur. They will automatically abstain from evil thoughts and deeds and therefore it will not be difficult for them to safeguard the five Precepts. Consequently, they will never fall into the lower existences. In the rounds of rebirth, persons who become stream winners will always be reborn in more exalted existences than in this life. They will always attain existences where they will have nobler minds, greater wealth and riches, a more exalted lineage, more beautiful and comely appearances than in this life.
Persons who are common worldlings also are trying to make their lives better. Everyone is trying to improve their status in life. Some even risk their lives in striving for more wealth.
However, persons who have become Sotapanna by practising Insight Meditation need no longer strive like common worldlings for a better life because Dhamma uplifts their lives and automatically, they will always reach existences which will be better and nobler than in this life, where they will have nobler minds and natures, where they will be of nobler and better lineage, where they will have more wealth and riches and where they will be more beautiful and comely.
Noble beings such as Sotapannas will never be reborn in existences which are lower than in this life. They will always attain existences which are better. This is the benefit of practising Vipassana Meditation. Should they forget to practise Vipassana in the rounds of rebirth, they will forget for only seven existences after which they will be specially remorseful of their forgetfulness and by practising Insight Meditation again will become Arahats (persons who have attained the last and highest stage of the Path.) Impurities and defilements will no longer exist and they will attain Nibbana - the best and noblest benefit of practising Insight Meditation.
When we say that persons who are Sotapanna, stream-winners, will be happy in blissful existences, nevertheless, they will very rarely derive happiness from the sensual pleasures of the world. Very rarely will they derive pleasure from pleasing sights, pleasant sounds, pleasant smells, pleasant tastes and pleasant touch; from nice houses and cars; from a happy family life - all worldly pleasures based on the five sense impressions.
Rather, they will derive their happiness from dana, generosity; doing acts of giving, finding the wherewithal to do the giving. They will derive their happiness from sila, morality. They will be happy from the observance of morality and from fasting and observing the 8 precepts. They will derive their happiness from Samatha, concentration. If it is a time when the practice of Samatha is prevalent, they will practise Samatha and be happy, absorbed in the Samatha Jhanas (wilful concentration on an object.)
They will be happy with Veyyavacca, attending to the needs of ceremonies and activities concerning the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and to the needs of elders. They will be happy attending to the needs at meditation centres, monasteries and pagodas and may thus forget to practise Insight meditation, Vipassana. But for how many existences can they forget? For seven existences only. In their Seventh existence they will be especially remorseful and by practising meditation will become Arahats, free from impurities and defilements and attain Nibbana.
Being happy only with their dana, generosity, Sila, morality and samatha, concentration, can they fall into Apaya, the woeful states of existence? No, they cannot. This deliverance from falling into the woeful states of existence is the benefit of practising Vipassana, Insight Meditation.
I shall continue my discourse by talking about the difficulty of getting an opportunity to practise Insight Meditation. It is only in our existence as human beings that Vipassana can be practised. We shall never get an opportunity to do so in Apaya, the four woeful states of existence-hell, animals, Petas (those absolutely devoid of happiness ) and asuras (another class of unhappy beings similar to the petas). The strength to practise Vipassana will be lacking; the desire to practise it will also be lacking. The very fact that these existences are the lower states of existence, overwhelmed by troubles and loathsome sights, sounds and sensations, makes it impossible to practise Insight Meditation. The strength to practise it will not exist.
When we get to the realm of the devas, we shall not get an opportunity to practise Vipassana because we shall be overwhelmed by pleasant and delightful sights, sounds and sensations and by happiness and joy. As you, the members of the congregation have already heard, it does not take a troublesome period of 9 to 10 months in a mother's womb to be reborn as a deva in the heavenly realms. Like an object falling suddenly from the skies, arrival in the respective abodes will be spontaneous because it is an Apparitional existence, Upappatibhava.
A male deva will appear spontaneously as a 20 year old in full regalia, a female deva will appear spontaneously as a 16 year old in full regalia. They will have comfortable existences. Also, during the period of their existence, they will not have to undergo the troublesome extremes of a very hot or a very cold climate as in the realm of human beings; the climate will always be equable. Food and clothing will be obtained automatically just by inclining their minds towards what they desire.
Should they wish to go to some other place, they will be able to do so easily just by inclining their minds towards those places. Should they wish to hear and to see sounds and sights many miles away, they will be able to do so with the ears and eyes of devas just by inclining their minds towards those sounds and sights. Their lives will be very complete.
They will not see anything loathsome, unpleasant or distressing; they will see no one who is old, sick or dead. There will be no devas who, because of old age, have to get about with the help of a staff. There will be no one with a bent back, no one who is hard of hearing or white haired.
There will be no devas who have to be hospitalised because of sickness; no corpses to be buried because of death. When they die, just as the sparks from a fire are extinguished, they will disappear. Therefore, the loathsomeness of death will not be seen.
In such a happy existence, they will be overwhelmed with desirable objects and sensations; they will not see undesirable things like old age, sickness and death and consequently will not know regret or remorse. Their time will be spent in pleasurable activities. Therefore, it will not be possible to practise meditation during their existence in the realm of the devas. It is only during existence in this, our present human abode that Vipassana can be practised. But if we were to ask whether it would be possible to practise Vipassana in every existence in the human abode, the answer is, no. We shall find that in most existences it is not possible to practise Vipassana.
It is possible for members of the Dhamma audience to practise Vipassana only because you are now in the human existence and human beings, only because you are now alive and well, only because now is the time when the laws of morality, when Satipatthana, Mindfulness Development and Vipassana, Insight Meditation are flourishing and the Teachings of the Buddha are to be found. Is it easy to get the opportunity to practise Vipassana? No, it is not; it is extremely difficult.
During an existence in the 4 woeful states also, it will not be possible to practise Insight Meditation. Nor will it be possible to practise it in the realm of the devas. It is only during life in the human existence that Vipassana can be practised. But it will not be possible in every human existence; in most existences it will not be possible.
At the present time, members of the Dhamma audience have the opportunity to practise meditation because the special moral virtues ( paramis ) acquired in past existence have had a chance to benefit you in this existence.
You are able to practise meditation because right now, you are human beings; because you are alive; because you are living at a time when you can listen to sermons on the laws of morality which are well known; because it is a time when you can find the teachings of the Buddha. Is it not difficult to get an opportunity to practise meditation? It is, indeed, extremely difficult.
Should we not be glad to have the opportunity to practise meditation; an opportunity which it is so hard to get? Yes, we should, because we do it gladly. While we have the opportunity and the time, we should practise meditation to the full extent of our physical and mental strength as instructed by the Lord Buddha.
Members of the Dhamma audience practise Insight Meditation because of the wish to attain Nibbana which is free from all suffering. But meditation is not to be practised lightly. The resultant benefit of practising meditation is deliverance from all suffering; deliverance not only for a while, but forever, which is Nibbana. That is why you cannot meditate lightly; you must do so respectfully.
Since you practise meditation because you wish to attain the noble state of Nibbana and deliverance from all suffering, you cannot attain your wish by practising meditation lightly or by practising with just a little of your ability; you must do so to the utmost of your physical and mental strength.
There are some worldly matters which can be accomplished without using your physical and mental strength to the full extent; with no special effort. Is it so in practising meditation ? It cannot be so. The Lord Buddha said that persons who wish to attain Nibbana and deliverance from all suffering must practise meditation to the utmost limits of their physical and mental strength. Therefore, must we not try our utmost in practising meditation? We must.
The happiness that we want, the happiness of Nibbana, is no ordinary happiness. It is everlasting; a happiness which will forever free us from all suffering. Therefore, the Lord Buddha said that persons who want such happiness will not get it if they do not practise Meditation to the utmost limits of their physical and mental strength. That is why we must practise meditation without thought for, our bodies and our lives.
Maxim: Consider not Body and Life; to them you must be cruel.
I have given a reasonably complete discourse about the benefit of practising Vipassana and about the difficulty of getting an opportunity to practise it. Now, I will continue by talking about the first cause which sharpens the controlling faculties (Indriya).
Persons who practise meditation can gain insight and can progress in their meditation only when their controlling faculties are sharpened. Therefore, the nine causes which sharpen the controlling faculties must be followed and practised; it is because of these nine causes that the controlling faculties are sharpened. Commentators state that persons who wish to progress in their meditation by sharpening their controlling faculties must follow the nine causes. in order that Dhamma audiences and future generations may know about it easily, our benefactor the most Reverend Mahasi Sayadaw has arranged a mnemonic verse which you are to repeat after me.
Verse: To sharpen the Indriya 5, There are causes 9.
There are 5 controlling faculties and 9 causes which sharpen them. While meditating, the controlling faculties are present in every noting, and when they become equally keen, persons who have not gained insight will do so. Those who have already gained insight will make further progress and those who are worthy of gaining extraordinary and noble insight will do so. Therefore, you must strive to sharpen the five controlling faculties evenly.
The controlling faculties are
Strong Confidence or faith Strong effort Strong mindfulness Strong concentration Strong wisdom. Which exist in that order. Confidence is the basis.
Saddha has been translated into Myanmar by learned Sayadaws of Myanmar as belief which makes the mind bright and clear; i.e. belief in the Buddha, in the Dhamma and in the Sangha, in Kamma and in its effects ( The law of cause and effect ). These five beliefs constitute Saddha, confidence.
What makes our minds bright and clear? Taking refuge in the Buddha because of our belief in him makes our minds bright and clear. The Buddha in whom we take refuge possesses Arahatta Magga nana, Knowledge of the last and highest stage of the Path which annihilates all defilements such as (lobha) greed, (dosa) anger and ( moha) delusion.
Do the Dhamma andience not believe that the Buddha's personality is free of greed, anger and delusion? You do believe. That belief is called Saddha, confidence. The Lord Buddha also possesses Omniscience, Infinite Knowledge, knowing all that is to be known. His knowledge of the world and of all phenomena was acquired by his own intuitive wisdom.
Do the Dhamma audience believe in the Omniscience of the Buddha; in his absolute knowledge of the world and of the truth? You do. That belief is Saddha, confidence. Thus, your belief in the Buddha's knowledge of the last and highest stage of the Path, arahatta magga nana and in his Omniscience, will amount to belief in all of his nine qualities as well.
Also, it will amount to belief in his immeasurable and infinite qualities. Because of your belief your minds will be bright and clear. Do your minds not become bright and clear when you offer flowers, water and light to the Buddha while taking refuge in him? They do. Why? Because of your belief.
Because of your belief in the Dhamma you take refuge in it and when reading Buddhist texts or reciting prayers, when meditating, your minds become bright and clear. Why is it so? Because you believe.
The clearness of your minds will be particularly evident when you meditate and attain the higher stages of knowledge or Insight.
It will not be evident when you begin meditating nor when you attain Namarupa pariccheda, knowledge of the reality of mind and matter, when you can distinguish between mind and matter, for you will have to be controlling your wandering mind; you will also have to becontrolling your body from swaying or moving, keeping it upright and erect. Thus, since you will have to be controlling your mind and body, the clearness of your mind will not be evident yet.
At the stage of Paccaya pariggaha nana, Knowledge of causes and effects, the mind has to be controlled to prevent it from wandering; the body has to be controlled to prevent it from making any movement and to keep it erect. Therefore, the clearness of the mind will not be evident yet. At the third stage of Sammasana nana, Insight into the three Characteristics of existence, not only will the mind be clouded but there will be depression and unhappiness as well and it will become more evident that the mind is not clear yet.
Old Dhamma audiences and old yogis will have often heard that Sammasana nana is not a good stage of Insight. When you attain Insight into the three characteristics of existence, you will have aches, pains, tingling sensations, dizziness, itching, nausea and swaying of the body and you will encounter suffering. Therefore, not only will your mind be unclear, but it will also be disturbed. You will be short - tempered and unhappy; you will become depressed and you will not want to practise meditation.
You may want to leave the meditation centre and go home. When this happens, the meditation teachers must give you words of encouragement by saying that these things happen at this stage, but that on attaining the higher stage of Udayabbaya nana, Insight into the rising and passing away of all phenomena, you will gain a special happiness commensurate with the wretchedness of this stage and so forth. It is for the Yogi only that this stage is wretched. According to the stages of knowledge and of insight, it is considered to be good. When Yogis tell me about their clouded minds, they are wont to say, " Although Your Reverence says it is good, I, your humble pupil, am almost dying," and so forth.
Later, by meditating reverently, earnestly and continuously Udayabbaya nana, Insight into the rising and passing away of phenomena is attained. Then, body and mind become light and fine; body and mind become healthy; because body and mind have been observed it will seem as if the noting mind is noting the sense object automatically; happiness and the joy of Insight meditation will arise. Then, the clearness of the mind will be very evident.
When the yogi who has attained Udayabbaya nana, Insight into the rising and passing away of phenomena goes to a secluded monastery and meditates on the nature of body and mind which become and pass away, the joy and happiness of Insight meditation will arise. The Lord Buddha stated that this joy and happiness cannot be enjoyed even by devas, let alone ordinary humans ( who have not attained Insight).
It is because of meditating with faith and diligence that the mind becomes clear. Thus, it is evident that the mind becomes clear when you read and recite the teachings of the Buddha, when you take refuge in the Buddha and when you meditate with faith. It is owing to faith that clearness of the mind occurs.
It is evident that the mind becomes clear when, because of faith, you take refuge in the Sangha. The present day sangha in whom you now take refuge are the successors of the Ariya Sangha, the Noble Ordained disciples of the Buddha's time. You have faith in their good qualities; you believe that they are Sangha who practise virtue and honesty, who observe the practices that lead to Nibbana, who act for the good of mankind and because of your faith, when you take refuge in the sangha, your mind becomes clear.
When you take refuge in the Sangha, when you offer them alms, your mind is clear because of your faith. If you did not believe in them, it would be otherwise. If a person whom you cannot trust comes to your house or to your office, your mind becomes disturbed, you wonder what trouble he may cause you and your mind is not clear.
Also, because of your belief in Kamma, your mind will be clear when you perform wholesome deeds. Kamma is invisible and intangible but inherent in Kamma is the potentiality of producing its due effect till you reach Nibbana. Do the Dhamma audience not believe this ? You do believe. That belief is Saddha.
Kamma, Volitional activity, is a mental phenomenon. The robes, alms, monasteries, medicines and monetary donations which are to be used in the act of giving are material phenomena which can be seen and handled. Therefore, they may be destroyed by water, fire, rulers, thieves and evil inheritors (i.e. evil offspring).
When these material phenomena have been donated, the volition or will (cetana), will remain with the donor. This Kamma will not be a material phenomenon; it becomes a mental phenomenon.
Although it is a mental phenomenon which cannot be seen or handled, do the Dhamma audience not believe that this Kamma remains with you ? You do believe. That belief is Saddha.
Because you believe that the Kamma of your wholesome deeds will remain as a personal possession till you attain Nibbana, if it has not benefited you yet, will your minds not become clear when you do wholesome deeds? They will. Why? Because of your belief.
Also, when you reflect on the effects of your wholesome deeds your mind becomes clear. Because you believe that you will enjoy the benefits of your wholesome deeds either in this existence or in future existences till you attain Nibbana, will your minds not become clear? They will, because of your belief. That belief, faith or confidence (Saddha), is the basis for sharpening the controlling faculties.
When practising Vipassana meditation, confidence is the best basis. If confidence (Saddha) is strong, effort (Viriya) will become strong. When practising insight meditation, confidence in the Dhamma is of prime importance.
Do the Dhamma audience believe that present Insight attained in meditation by complete noting will close the doors to the lower states of existence and enable you to experience Nibbana? You do. Your belief that the doors to the lower states of existence can be closed, that Nibbana can be experienced when noting of rising, falling, sitting, touching, lifting, stepping forward, placing the foot down, bending, stretching, holding, taking etc. has been fully practised is Saddha.
This confidence in the Dhamma is of prime importance If, because of your confidence, you believe that the doors to the lower existences can be closed, that Nibbana can be experienced, effort (Viriya) will become stronger. Will you not be able to practise meditation without rest and sleep because you believe? You will; because of your belief.
But if you practise meditation without truly believing, with doubts, simply because others are doing so, won't your effort be weak? It will be weak. However, the present Dhamma audience do not practise with doubts. While noting rising, falling, etc. you have great confidence that the doors to the woeful states of existence can be closed, that Nibbana can be experienced. Accordingly, the effort with which you practise meditation continuously, without rest, will be strong. As effort ( Viriya) which enables you to practise meditation continuously and diligently becomes strong, so will Mindfulness (Sati).
When Mindfulness ( Sati) becomes strong, all sensations which arise can be closely noted and accordingly, concentration (Samadhi) will develop.
When all sensations which arise are closely noted, the beginning and end of all sensations are established by the noting mind; Momentary Concentration (Khanika, Samadhi ) develops and concentration becomes strong. As concentration (Samadhi) becomes strong, wisdom ( Panna) develops.
Only when concentration develops will insight develop. That is what yogis must heed. You must develop concentration when you begin meditation. If a yogi wishes to gain insight speedily without developing concentration, the realization of insight will be delayed. If the yogi notes "this is material phenomenon, this is mental phenomenon" when concentration has not yet developed, will the realization of insight be speedy or will it be slow? It will be slow. You must pay special heed to that.
When practising meditation, you must develop concentration at the beginning. When concentration has been developed, insight will develop of its own accord. That is why at the beginning, the development of concentration must be of prime importance. According as confidence becomes strong, Effort becomes strong, according as Effort becomes strong, Mindfulness becomes strong; according as Mindfulness becomes strong, concentration becomes strong; according as concentration becomes strong, Wisdom will develop. When Wisdom is complete, Knowledge and Insight to Which the Dhamma audience should aspire i.e. Knowledge from the stage when the doors to the woeful states of existence are closed to exceptional and noble Insight, will be attained.
The discourse on the five controlling faculties is now reasonably complete.
Next, I will talk about the first of the nine causes which sharpen the controlling faculties.
Briefly, it can be stated that the Dhamma audience is a continuum of material and mental phenomena which arise and quickly pass away. Commentators have stated that one of the causes which sharpen the controlling, faculties is the inclining of your mind, while practising meditation, towards the passing away of phenomena.
To remember this first cause easily, our Benefactor the Most Reverend Mahasi Sayadaw has arranged this verse. Please recite after me.
Verse: Every arising of matter and mind,
Every passing away;
We must surely note.
It means that you must practise meditation by inclining your mind towards the arising and rapid passing away of material and mental phenomena in the continuum of your being.
When we say that in practising meditation the mind must be inclined towards the passing away of phenomena, it does not mean that you should note 'passing away'. 'passing away without actually experiencing it. If you do so, it will delay the realization of Insight. You must note in the usual way-rising, falling, sitting, touching, lifting, stepping forward, placing down, etc.
But while noting, your mind must be inclined towards the passing away of phenomena. When you note 'rising', as soon as you have noted it, it has passed away. When you note 'falling', it will be a new noting. When you note 'rising' again, it will be a new noting. In this way, you must incline your towards the arising and passing away of phenomena.
By inclining your mind frequently in this way towards the arising and passing away of phenomena, concentration will increase. By paying constant and particular attention to inclining your mind frequently towards the arising and passing away of phenomena, concentration will gradually strengthen and you will gain Insight into the dissolution of phenomena.
In reality, Insight into the dissolution of phenomena can be gained only when you attain Bhanga nana, Insight into passing away. But by frequently inclining the mind towards 'passing away', the five controlling faculties will become even and sharpened, and before reaching the stage of Bhanga nana, you may gain insight. Some yogis gain insight within about 10 days of beginning their meditation; but when they do, Insight is not very clear.
Some yogis have reported that when noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, the rising movement ends and disappears without flowing into the falling movement, the falling movement also ends and disappears without flowing into the rising movement - there is a small break between each rising and falling. They asked me whether these breaks were really there and I had to reply, "Why do you ask? Haven't you experienced it yourself?"
When concentration becomes moderately strong, there is no longer any continuity between rising and falling. You will feel that there is a break between them. The rising movement will not flow into the falling movement and the falling movement will not flow into the rising movement. You will see the breaks between them.
The yogi will realize that the movement of rising will be cut off at the end of the rising without being followed immediately by the movement of falling; that the movement of falling will be cut off at the end of falling without being followed immediately by the movement of rising. But because Insight has not developed fully, that realization will be faint.
Similarly, yogis find that when you note while walking-lifting the foot, stepping forward, placing the foot down-the action of lifting does not flow into the action of stepping forward; it is left behind like a shadow. The action of stepping forward also does not flow into the action of placing the foot down; it is left behind like a shadow. The action of placing the foot down too does not flow into the action of, lifting the foot.
They report that all these movements are left behind like shadows. Yes, they have perceived the dissolution of things. However, they will not be able to perceive it always; it will be possible only when the 5 controlling faculties are balanced. At times when yogis cannot perceive it, noting should be continued as usual.
Because the dissolution of things cannot always be perceived and when perceived is not evident; yogis begin to doubt. But yogis must not doubt. They must incline their minds to the fact that they have perceived, to a moderate extent, the dissolution of things and that- in future they will be able to perceive it distinctly.
Because concentration ( Samadhi ) will mature, strengthen and become keen, when the stage of Bhanga nana, Insight into passing away, is reached by proceeding step by step with noting, yogis perceive, as if with their eyes, the dissolution of things. When you note 'rising', you will perceive the movement of rising passing away instantaneously. When you note 'falling', the instantaneous passing away of the movement of falling will be perceived.
When you reach the stage of Bhanga nana, Insight into passing away, it will be a strong insight. Forms will no longer be evident- the abdomen, the body will no longer be evident; only movements and concepts will be evident.
Yogis will perceive very evidently, as if with their eyes, that when noting 'rising', the distending and pushing of the abdomen pass away instantaneously and when noting 'falling', the falling movements of the abdomen pass away instantaneously.
Similarly, when noting the lifting, stepping forward and placing down of the foot, yogis perceive as if with their eyes, the successive movements in lifting, in stepping forward and in placing down the foot. Then, by progressing step by step with noting and developing concentration till it becomes strong and keen, yogis perceive that not only do sense objects pass away instantaneously, but also that it is followed by the instantaneous passing away of the noting mind.
When noting 'rising' (of the abdomen), the instantaneous passing away of the movement of rising followed by the instantaneous passing away of the noting mind is perceived. Also, when noting 'falling', the instantaneous passing away of the movement of falling followed by the instantaneous passing away of the noting mind is perceived.
Will you then not know that the sense objects, the material phenomena of rising and falling, as well as the mental phenomenon of the noting mind are impermanent? You will. In Pali, impermanence is called Anicca? Since childhood, you have heard of Anicca from your parents and teachers. Now where have you found it? Within your bodies. You have perceived the real, the true Anicca.
You have found it by meditating with your minds inclined to the passing away of matter and mind. Had you not done so, you would not have perceived the dissolution of things for a considerable time; you would be merely noting well. Some yogis are unable to perceive Anicca because they do not incline their minds towards the passing away of matter and mind, That is why commentators have stated that when you meditate, you must incline your mind to the passing away of phenomena.
Commentators- are those who were in a position to know most about the wishes of the Lord Buddha; their explanatory statements are, mainly from his Pali teachings. Therefore, they should be followed and practised as they are on a par with the teachings of the Buddha.
When noting the lifting, stepping forward and placing down of the foot, the dissolution of matter and mind will be perceived. When noting the lifting of the foot, in addition to perceiving the instantaneous passing away of the movement of lifting, the passing away of the noting mind will also be perceived. When noting 'stepping forward', in addition to perceiving the instantaneous passing away of the movement of stepping forward, the passing away of the noting mind will also be perceived. Also when noting, the placing down of the foot, in addition to the instantaneous passing away of the movement of placing down the foot, the passing away of the noting mind will be perceived as well.
By perceiving the impermanence of things, do you not realize that the material phenomena of lifting, stepping forward and placing the foot down, as well as the noting mind, are impermanent? You do. The Pali word for impermanence is Anicca. So rapid is the dissolution of phenomena that it appears to oppress you and causes suffering which is called Dukkha in Pali.
How can we protect ourselves from the suffering caused by the oppression of the rapid dissolution of things? We cannot protect ourselves in any way. It is in the nature of things to pass away and Oppress you; you can have no authority or control over it - in Pali it is called Anatta. Where have you found Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta that you have heard about since childhood? Within your own bodies. Where will you arrive at when you attain complete insight into Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. You will reach Nibbana for which you have prayed every time when doing good deeds.
The principle aim is to attain Nibbana. If other people should ask you how to meditate in order to attain Nibbana, you must tell them to meditate with their minds inclined towards the passing away of things, for Impermanence (Anicca) can usually be perceived by doing so. If not, it will take a considerable lime to perceive Anicca, Impermanence. Only when you meditate with your mind inclined to the passing away of things will you perceive the dissolution of the objects of consciousness as well as of the noting mind and thereby realize true Anicca (impermanence), true Dukkha (suffering) and true Anatta (the absence of a permanent ego).
When you meditate with your mind inclined towards the dissolution of things and perceive one of the true manifestations of Impermanence, you will also see the true manifestations of suffering and the absence of a permanent ego. On this matter, our Benefactor the Most Reverend Mahasi Sayadaw has written a maxim as derived from the Pali Texts for the Dhamma audience and future generations to remember easily. Please recite:
Maxim: Among the true manifestations perceive but one;
The rest will also be perceived.
When Buddhists talk about impermanence, suffering and the absence of a permanent ego, some people with other religious beliefs say it is a ; pessimistic doctrine. For those who can only look to wordly matters, this is true; but for those who can look to supramundane matters, it is not true.
Buddhism is optimistic because it is only by perceiving impermanence, suffering and the absence of a permanent ego that the true happiness of Nibbana can be attained.
Thus, because you have listened to this discourse on the benefit of practising Insight meditation, the difficulty of getting an opportunity to practise it and on the first of the nine causes which sharpen the controlling faculties, may you be able to practise accordingly and thereby attain the happiness of Nibbana to which you should aspire, speedily and without difficulty.
Sadhu.......... Sadhu.......... Sadhu.
Translated by Daw Than Than Yi, B. Com., B.Sc. Econ. (London)