Reply To: Post on “Saṅkhāra – An Introduction”


Yes. Your analysis is correct. 

It can be analyzed in different ways too. Also, any analysis can go to deeper and deeper levels. That is why the Buddha said Paticca Samuppada is deeper than the deepest ocean. The deeper one goes, the more refined the picture that emerges.

For example, “lobha gati” can be divided into many different aspects. Some may have “lobha gati” for food (tastes), smells, sights, sex, etc. 

  • Such “lobha gati” may not “come to the surface” if the arammana is not strong enough and may stay hidden as “anusaya.” Thus, even if a small bribe may not be tempting, a larger one could. 
  • One removes strong defiled gati arising from “ditthi anusaya” at the Sotapanna stage. That is enough to “not be tempted” to engage in apayagami deeds.

As I said previously, real Vipassana is to contemplate such things. That is when the “unfruitful/dangerous nature” of this world of 31 realms (anicca, dukkha, anatta) sinks into the mind, and various layers of gati/anusaya start melting away. It cannot be done by sheer willpower! Of course, it helps a lot to stay away from sensory pleasures as much as possible. It would be impossible to avoid being a drug addict if one keeps associating with drug addicts, for example.

  • Eventually, no gati/anusaya will be left at the Arahant stage. Thus, at the moment of death, an Arahant will not grasp “upadana“) any sensory input that is coming to the mind as a kamma vipaka.
  • Many arammana can be mind-pleasing. But they all have undesired and un-envisioned consequences. But similar to a fish that cannot see the dangers hidden in bait, average humans cannot see the suffering hidden in sensory pleasures.
  • Only by understanding the Four Noble Truths/Paticca Samuppada/Tilakkhana will one start seeing the “suffering hidden in sensual pleasures.”

P.S. LDF’s second comment on my statement: “This is what I was trying to say in bahiya suttā thread. It is due to adding san to sensory experience, “feeling/perception of me/mine” arises. San is there due to vipallāsa.”

Bahiya Sutta points out a different aspect. It explains how one becomes aware of a given sensory input. This specifically relates to Sakkaya Ditthi.

  • It is not that “a person” sees a tree. When one looks at a tree, one does not capture the “whole picture of a tree” in one step (which would be the case if there is a “person seeing a tree” and may even be hearing a sound also at the same time. 
  • Seeing, hearing, etc., are just mechanical processes. A citta vithi can grasp only one part of that tree. Within a second, the eye takes many such pictures (just like a video camera taking multiple static pictures in a second). Then the mind puts it all together to get a “full picture” of the tree. But since it happens so fast, it gives the illusion that one sees a tree in “one shot.”

Let me copy and paste the following section from my comment on April 5, 2023, at 11:32 am above:

  • The working of the mind is a mechanical process. It just responds to external stimuli (sensory inputs) mechanically. The response is according to the gati one has at that time. This is why the Buddha said that there is no “me” (un unchanging soul/atman type entity seeing, hearing at the same time, and responding to those sensory inputs.
  • The running of citta vithi, once attached to a stimulus, would have gone in that direction if we did not have brains with a fully-developed neocortex. (Note: Animals, even those with small brains, do not have such a break. They just continue with the initial response. See “Triune Brain: How the Mind Rewires the Brain via Meditation/Habits.” I may need to revise this post; even though I made some revisions recently, I don’t think I read through it carefully. )
  • The brain takes about a hundredth of a second to process the input, which pauses the uncontrolled progression of citta vithi and, thus, uncontrolled actions. It gives us the time to be mindful and stop pursuing sensory input.
  • Again, posts like “Seeing Is a Series of ‘Snapshots,” “Brain – Interface between Mind and Body,” and those in the “Essential Abhidhamma – The Basics” section explain various aspects related to this issue.  
– Here, “mattan” means “a brief moment/event.” Seeing a tree takes many such events. That is confirmed by modern science too. The eyes makes “saccadic eye movements” to capture different parts of an object. Google/Bing “saccadic eye movements” and read the articles and videos. 
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