Papa and Punna
By Sujin Boriharnwanaket
 Papa is a reality that is not good.  Punna is a reality that is good.  The dhamma is a very intricate thing because it arises and falls away rapidly.  For example the citta and cetasika arise and fall away simultaneously, sometimes kusala, sometimes akusala and sometimes alternately, sometimes we cannot tell whether that instant was kusala or akusala.  Therefore, we must rely on rather conscientious study in order to be able to tell which instants are papa or akusala.  Is the instant of citta lobha, dosa or moha, or other kinds of akusala citta that we have heard of such as issa, or macchariya, which are all characteristics of dhamma that are akusala?  If it were kusala it would be the opposite: dhamma that is good, or the instant that good cetasika arise together through the path of the citta (or the physical or verbal expression which are paths of kusala and akusala since we do not have only citta but also rupa).  If there were only the citta that are kusala or akusala would others be concerned?  (No.)  However, because we also have rupa, when the akusala citta arise they have paths, through the body and speech, that are not good, which arise from the akusala, troubling others.  In reality, when akusala arises, it troubles us first: those with akusala are not comfortable at all.

When there is lobha, however, we think it is good.  It is attachment and desire for something.  When we get it, we are very glad, pleased and happy; we think that that instant is good.  Therefore, good to our mind and good in the dhamma is different.  Good, for us, is the happy feeling.  In reality, it is akusala because at that moment there is still attachment.  It is not enough to have a little attachment; that is not gratifying enough; there must be more, of the somanassa level.  No matter what we do, we desire somanassa vedana, not simply upekkha vedana.  One could really see that if one did not study the dhamma we would misunderstand it.  For example when we are happy doing samadhi, we think that that is already kusala, without realizing that at that instant there is already lobha, and also moha: there is ignorance and attachment.

Study of the dhamma will make us understand more clearly that that instant of kusala must be exempt from lobha, dosa and moha, and at which instants that occurs.  Our citta is difficult to know.  When there is physical or verbal expression we might know, but we must be straightforward otherwise we might be fooled or misunderstand.  When we see a poor person and wish to help them, is the instant of thinking that kusala or akusala?  Just to think is kusala, but not a deed accomplished, since there has not been action (if not everyone would have a wealth of kusala), it is pubba-cetana, the thought that arises before the action.  It is still uncertain whether the action would occur or not.  Therefore kusala is composed of the time preceding the action, called pubba-cetana; the period during the act when the citta is kusala; and after the deed when the citta is pure and bright from having helped others to be easier or happier.  We are happy for them for having escaped dukkha.  Therefore there are three periods of kusala: preceding, during and succeeding the action.  This is about the path of kusala, namely punna-kiriya comprising three in summary: dana, sila and bhavana; for the bhikkhu, sila, samadhi and panna.  Punna depends on the citta; it is a good dhamma.  Papa depends on the citta; it is a bad dhamma, for example lobha, dosa and moha.  Was there more kusala or akusala today?  The straightforward person will find essential facts in the Dhamma.

[From discussion in Cambodia at Angkor Hotel, Seamreap, December 8, 2000]
January 19, 2001