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June 9, 2020 at 11:31 am in reply to: Post On What Are Kilesa (Mental Impurities)? – Connection to Cetasika #30908
Thank you for your reply, Lal. I am glad to know your explanation.
firewnsFebruary 16, 2020 at 6:35 am in reply to: Angulimala Sutta: Truth, Protection and Wuhan Coronavirus #26961
The protective speech seems to come with the structure: Brother(s)/Sister(s), since I (encountered a certain event), I do not recall intentionally (committing a certain unwholesome deed). Through this truth, may there be wellbeing for you.
I have tried to adhere to this structure, and to be as careful as I can in recalling past events and stating facts truthfully so I really hope it works. If you do decide to do something similar, thank you for being a kind and compassionate person.
As compassion (karuna) is a sobhana cetasika, according to Abhidhamma, it will invariably be associated with the universal sobhana cetasikas, some of which should at least bring happiness to one in body as well as mind. Do try it if you are inclined to.
When one cultivates a compassionate gati, then through the condition of repetition, kusala asankhaarika (unprompted) citta should arise more often in one’s daily thoughts. As these spontaneous thoughts have more merit and kammic power than kusala cittas that are prompted, one will be accumulating stronger wholesome kamma. This is my understanding. A positive cycle should then repeat continuously unless something drastic happens to change one’s gati.
I just read in a wisdomlib.org article about six pairs of universal sobhana cetasikas: passaddhi, lahuta, muduta, kammannata, pagunnata, ujukata depending on whether they pertain to kaya or citta. Here kaya does not seem to refer to the material body but seems to refer to the body of psychic factors, in other words cetasikas like vedana, sanna and sankhara, while citta refers to consciousness.
Some of these universal sobhana cetasikas help to cultivate meditations on brahmaviharas as well as to develop insight, for example, kaya-kammannata (wieldiness of cetasikas) and citta-kammannata (wieldiness of citta).
In fact, the universal sobhana cetasikas seem to suppress the five hindrances and some samyojanas (fetters) such as mana (conceit).
Thus I would think that cultivating these universal sobhana cetasikas through performing meritorious deeds indeed help set the stage for further development of concentration and insight.
Some people feel lonely because they are searching for meaning in their lives and are not content with the answers that they find, such as ‘contributing to society’, ‘attaining success in their careers’, ‘becoming parents’, ‘finding love in a significant other’ and so on.
The fact is that most aspects of our careers and relationships have kusala (or punna) and (unfortunately) akusala cittas as their underlying basis. Punna and akusala cittas (I think) cannot function without their corresponding cetasikas. Sobhana and akusala cetasikas are (I think) abhisankhara with kammic consequences and can bring about future rebirths, as long as they are still conditioned by ignorance of ultimate reality.
Hence careers and relationships have anicca (cannot be maintained to one’s satisfaction in the long run) and dukkha (stress and unease) as their reality, and they are anatta (cannot be relied on for refuge and a safe haven). Sabbe sankhara anicca, sabbe sankhara dukkha, sabbe dhamma anatta.
It is no wonder that these people continue to feel lonely, for they have not found something which could satisfactorily be taken as a refuge yet!
However, careers and relationships are not entirely without merit as long as we use them to cultivate karuna, metta, mudita and perhaps upekkha (the four immeasurables), as well as dana and sila in our dealings with others. Just keep in mind their anicca, dukkha and anatta nature.
To ease loneliness, it is useful to think of ourselves as well as other people as essentially having no immutable, permanent ego or substance. We are basically instances of cittas, cetasikas and rupas that arise and pass away, to condition the next set of rupas, cittas and cetasikas to arise without a pause in between for incalculable aeons. There is loneliness, but no one who experiences loneliness.
Contemplate and meditate that what we think of ourselves are neither self nor non-self. There is nothing fixed and permanent in ourselves, not just in our bodies (we get sick, aged and die), but even in our minds (our cittas and attached cetasikas arise and fall away in extremely rapid succession). Because of that, we can find no self. However, there is a stream of continuity binding together and conditioning all these linked sequences of cittas, cetasikas and rupas so that there is kamma and vipaka. Because of that, it is equally wrong to think that there is non-self.
When we gain wisdom as a result of these meditations, we may see some of our yearnings for deeper connections fade away.
However, even before that, it may be a good idea to listen to desanas from Ariyas, so as to help one to attain the Sotapanna stage if one is so inclined.
Sometimes, our loneliness may serve a deeper and more positive purpose. It may be a sign of an inner prompting to proceed on our life journey to fulfill certain paramitas, aspirations, determinations or debt obligations. Couples very much in love with each other; close friends and relatives, or even close parents and children who cannot bear to separate from each other at death may make the aspiration to continue their close relationships in future lives. Of course, in order to obtain these same close relationships in future lives, they may have to perform sufficiently meritorious acts to bring about suitable conditions.
For example, Yasodhara was the wife of the Buddha in our current Buddha sasana. When the Dipankara Buddha was around, Prince Siddharta was born as an ascetic by the name of Sumedha. After the Bodhisatta Sumedha had finally completed the eight requirements to receive the definite proclamation of Buddhahood from Dipankara Buddha, Yasodhara (who was born as a noble lady named Sumitra) aspired to be his consort and helpmate and to support him actively in his quest for Buddhahood.This strong aspiration and the meritorious deeds she performed over a long period of time resulted in her being the Bodhisattva’s consort and supporter throughout many births.
As well, when the Venerable Upali asked the Buddha for permission to go to dwell in the forest in seclusion, the Buddha refused, for if Upali went into the forest he would learn only meditation, while, if he remained amongst men, he would have knowledge both of meditation and of the word of the Dhamma. If Venerable Upali had indeed gone to dwell in the forest, he would have been unable to fulfill his aspiration made during the time of Padumuttara Buddha to hear praise from the future Buddha Gotama for being chief of the Vinayadharas. Neither would he have been able to expound the Vinaya during the first Buddhist Council for the benefit of many. This example is stated not because Venerable Upali felt lonely (I do not think he was lonely), but because sometimes we need to form closer connections with the people around us in our journey towards Nibbana or our ultimate goal and aspirations, or simply to benefit others such as in the case of Venerable Sariputta who continued to care for his fellow bhikkhus even after attaining Arahanthood.
You may also find it useful to keep a journal to record your innermost thoughts about your loneliness in order to gain a better understanding of it. When are the times that you feel most lonely? What kind of friends or relationships do you wish to form? What can cause loneliness to surface in you? What causes your loneliness to strengthen or lessen? Are there any other useful questions about your loneliness you could think about?
Your loneliness may be a sign that you need to form closer relationships with other people in order to fulfill your aspirations and determinations from past lives (although not necessarily). Perhaps you could be a volunteer in your community to form closer connections with the people around you.
Being born human during a Buddha Sasana is a great advantage in our journey to attain Nibbana, if we wisely make use of it. If you feel that it would be beneficial for you to attain Nibbana, do actively seek to deepen your connections with others. When you feel ready, you may also want to connect with your family members again. There may be hurt and fear, but do not do anything that will further hurt yourself or your family members if possible. I deeply wish you happiness in all your dealings in future.
Hope this helps!
I would like to add the following comments.
1) If, you find that your past regrets still surface from time to time despite trying not to dwell on them, then perhaps you may do something to feel better.
Sometimes we inadvertently say or do hurtful things to others, and putting in efforts to make amends is appropriate. If possible, you may try to apologize to those whom you may have hurt. Tell them that you regret hurting them and wish that they would be well and put the past behind them. Then, after making proper amends, resolve that it would be your turn to put the past behind you. I hope, in this way, those past regrets would not return to haunt you. It would be psychologically helpful too, not to relive those past regrets.
2) If there is anything you do not understand about Buddhadhamma, feel free to post your queries here or to ask other knowledgeable and helpful Buddhists for their help in understanding. All of this should eventually help you very much.
Hope this helps! :)
1) Regret about things done or said before should be the kukkucca cetasika, which is a dvesha (Pali: dosa)-related cetasika. I think, like Akvan, that there is also some measure of moha or delusion involved. Therefore it is not wise to let regret predominate in your thoughts. Instead resolve to do better and be a better version of yourself next time.
By replacing akusala cetasikas with sobhana cetasikas such as samma vaca (right speech), samma kammanta (right action), adosa (non-hatred), karuna (compassion) and mudita (sympathetic joy), you will, by using the conditions of repetition and association, gradually change your gathi for the better.
Cetasikas set forth the conditions to bring about other cetasikas to come about and appear. For example, whenever we focus on cultivating a sobhana cetasika such as samma vaca or samma kammanta, we are invariably also cultivating the 19 universal sobhana cetasikas such as alobha (non-greed), adosa, saddha (faith) and sati (mindfulness) among others. The 19 universal sobhana cetasikas always arise in association with other sobhana cetasikas. This comes about while also suppressing the akusala cetasikas in that instant.
Through the condition of repetition, each javana citta will strengthen the next javana citta in a citta vitthi. Therefore you will be reinforcing good gathi the more you practise and cultivate sobhana cetasikas.
2) I think one does have to be intelligent enough to understand the concepts that one has read. However, intelligence by itself is neither sufficient nor absolutely necessary to understand Buddhadhamma. I agree with Akvan that panna (or pragna) is needed in order to attain the Arahant stage.
Although you may forget the concepts after a while and get confused, please continue to study Buddhadhamma. It is highly useful, maybe even critical, for you to develop the four bases of mental power (satara iddhipada).
Through continued vimansa (investigation/reasoning) of Buddhadhamma, you will gradually get closer to the goal. In the event that you do not attain Nibbana in this very life, you may become a highly intelligent person in future lives to aid you in your cultivation, due to the law of kamma (for you had spent your current life investigating Dhamma).
Hope this helps! :)June 27, 2019 at 12:30 pm in reply to: What to do about malevolent devas constantly bothering you #23738
Do you hear these ‘voices’ when you are taking clonazepam or when you are not taking medications? It could be that those medications are not working as well as intended in your case, or you could have developed tolerance to those medications, requiring higher and higher dosages in order for them to work, or you could have developed these conditions as withdrawal symptoms for not taking the medications as prescribed.
Furthermore, the long-term use of neuroleptics (which are medications primarily used to manage psychosis, principally in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) may result in tardive dyskinesia, symptoms of which might include involuntary movements of the tongue.
Thus it is important to realize that there could be neurological causes for what you are experiencing, and to do your best to manage these biological causes to the best of your ability so that their symptoms do not intrude upon your perceptions of reality.
If other beings are causing your experiences, then you may want to radiate metta and karuna to them. But before you do that, please radiate metta and karuna to yourself too, in case these experiences are due to namarupa manifesting due to harmful vinnana (or your inner subconscious wreaking havoc on your perceptions). Afterwards, please make sure that you are calm first, like what Tobias suggests, and then address them with respect.
After all, in the Dhammapada, The Buddha did comment along the lines of ‘hatred can never be quelled by hatred; it can only be quelled by love’. In addition, when Devadatta tried to harm the Buddha by setting an elephant on Him, the Buddha was able to tame the elephant by radiating metta towards it. In yet another sutta, I think, a bhikkhu was bitten by a snake, and the Buddha commented that if the bhikkhu had more metta, the snake would not have bitten him.
In case any beings bothering you are actually pretas, the Janussonin Sutta: To Janussonin (AN 10.177) could help.
In the sutta, the Buddha said that any dana dedicated to dead relatives can only be partaken if the dead relatives were reborn as pretas, and not devas, humans, animals or hell-beings. You might ask the being if he or she is a dead relative reborn as a preta and whether he or she would like you to dedicate any merits or gifts to them. I hope this does not scare you, but it is something you can consider if it is helpful.
Lastly please do continue to perform meritorious acts such as dana, pattidana, rejoicing in the merits of others, sila, bhavana, reverence to worthy ones, service such as cleaning holy places, monasteries and stupas, hearing the Dhamma, teaching the Dhamma, and correcting any wrong views you may have.
I really hope this helps! May you and all beings be happy, peaceful and healthy, and overcome dukkha!
Perhaps I am going too far ahead, talking about Nibbana to someone who probably seems not to have fully accepted Buddhism yet.
Yet I believe that there will always be beings who need to be reassured that the ultimate goal of Buddhism is an acceptable and beneficial one, and not something frightening or harmful or even negative, before they will start to practise with full-hearted enthusiasm.
Therefore, I have tried my best to help Siebe and similar others in light of this consideration. Thus I see what I am posting as necessary, and hope that others can benefit from it.
Parinibbana is a state where the five khandhas cease to exist. If rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana cease to exist, what kind of happiness is sensed, felt, perceived, thought of or otherwise experienced?
Yet Parinibbana is a blissful state, far more blissful than any state that can be sensed, felt, perceived, thought of or otherwise experienced by the five khandhas.
To me, I think The Buddha would fully agree that bliss and sukha could refer merely to the permanent cessation of dukkha, without any pleasant vedana, piti or other ecstatic or happy sensation associated with it. Therefore it is not necessary for any Self to experience it.
In the Pañcakanga Sutta SN 36.19, The Buddha stated that a bhikkhu going totally beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. This is a pleasure that is finer than what is experienced by someone meditating in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.
If I am correct, the state of cessation of perception and feeling is only achieved by Arahants who attain Nibbana by cultivating the highest jhana.
The Buddha also stated that ‘…when He describes what’s included in happiness, he’s not just referring to pleasant feeling. The Realized One describes pleasure as included in happiness wherever it’s found, and in whatever context.’ Hence even when vedana and sanna cease, it is possible to experience sukha.
Nibbana Sutta: Unbinding AN 9.34 also states how extinguishment of defilements and afflictions is bliss.
Therefore, by simply having no dukkha in it, Nibbana is sukha, and this sukha surpasses any sukha that can be experienced in this world, even that of sense pleasures or the highest, most sublime jhanic bliss. Furthermore, this will be permanent.
We can compare Nibbana to sleep, although Nibbana is much, much more blissful than sleep. When a being is severely fatigued, sleepy and in need of rest, possibly the greatest happiness it can achieve is not from sensual pleasures, or even from jhanic absorption and bliss, but from a deep, restful, much needed sleep.
We are like the severely tired, and sleep-deprived beings on this sansaric journey, yet we have become obsessed with sense pleasures that further add to our burden and sleepiness, or we become obsessed with becoming this or that or, being averse to this or that.
All these add to our sleepiness, but we fear to sleep, because we are afraid to give up our obsessions with sense pleasures, or desires to become this or that, or not to become this or that. We are also afraid that we will never wake up from our sleep to again experience all those burdens that we mistakenly think of as happiness.
Yet, when we sleep, our minds are still not fully at rest. There is sankhara associated with breathing and the beating of our hearts and so on. However, in Nibbana, there is no sankhara and it is truly peaceful and happy indeed.
I hope this helps. I got the idea of comparing sleep to Nibbana from Lal, and have found it very helpful and beneficial. Thank you very much for teaching the Dhamma to me and all other beings, Lal!
In my above reply, I sincerely hope that you would benefit from what I wrote. At no time did I mean to make you feel bad. So I hope you will not see what I wrote in a negative light.
May you attain peace soon!
Look back upon your past life experiences and your current day-to-day life. Also examine the lives of people around you. Do you agree with The Buddha that there is dukkha in life? The world is burning with passion, hatred and delusion, isn’t it?
If you agree that there is dukkha, next examine Buddha’s teachings with an open mind. The ultimate aim of Buddha’s teachings is to stop the rebirth process and hence to end dukkha.
The Buddha has many noble and unsurpassed qualities. One of these qualities is that He has foremost knowledge of the nature of this world of 31 realms. Thus when He says that this world has the dukkha characteristic in it, it certainly bears listening to.
He has also seen how beings are reborn according to their kamma, and has immensely great power to go back many aeons in time to review the past lives of beings. He has profoundly deep historical knowledge, way more than any historians could ever hope to amass.
He has ultimate compassion and always acts with the interest and welfare of beings in mind.
He utters no falsehood and has stated that what the unenlightened world sees as happiness, He sees it as unsatisfactoriness or suffering, and what the unenlightened world sees as suffering, He sees it as happiness.
He has stated that His teachings are about dukkha and the cessation of dukkha, and has urged beings to practise so that they may put an end to rebirth and sansaric suffering or unsatisfactoriness.
He has also stated that His Dhamma is profound and hard to understand. That is no wonder too, seeing how much of the rest of the world finds it hard to accept.
If you think that there is any way to end dukkha while not ending rebirth, that would be at odds with The Buddha’s teachings. If you practise with these conflicting desires in mind, do you find it beneficial and helpful in the long run over years? Do you think agitation, disillusionment, and stress would likely decrease?
I, too, found it shocking at first, when I wondered if there would really be no way to exist permanently in Nibbana. But I realized that with that mindset, one could never really be free and happy even in much of a mundane sense in this current life. So I have practised letting go, and the results are really liberating, even if only in a mundane way.
I feel so much, much more carefree and at peace, not having to worry about whether I will cease to exist if I ever reach Parinibbana (of course attaining Parinibbana requires an immense amount of effort over many lifetimes).
You, too, would be doing yourself a world of good, if you stop being so concerned about whether or not you will continue to exist after achieving the ultimate goal of Buddhism.
After all, it is much, much better to live a lifetime of peace than a lifetime of half-heartedly resisting Buddhism and not experiencing the peace you could have as a result of fully accepting Buddhism, all because you became obsessed with what happens after Parinibbana.
I hope this helps.May 14, 2019 at 10:13 am in reply to: Five Niyamas-Does Every Unfortunate Event Always Have Kamma As A Root Cause? #23111
Thank you very much, Siebe and Lal for putting in effort in your replies and insights! They are very helpful to me.
Please see SN 22.36 again.
“If you have an underlying tendency for form, you’re measured against that, and you’re defined by what you’re measured against. If you have an underlying tendency for feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, you’re measured against that, and you’re defined by what you’re measured against.”
I think the sutta is saying that if we cling onto rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana, then we can be defined by those pancakkhandha. Hence we could take ourselves to be a stream of ever changing physical and mental processes.
But there is a caveat though. The sentence ‘We could take ourselves to be a stream of ever changing physical and mental processes.’ sets us up for a language trap, in that it conditions us to think of there being a personal agent, or an inherent self in the term ‘we’.
Can you try to explain these streams of ever-changing physical and mental processes without subtly fitting in the idea of a personal agent or inherent self in our everyday language? It would be hard, if not impossible, right?
Hence, while we are an ever-changing stream of physical and mental processes, there is no personal agent or inherent self involved in ‘we’. As such, there really is no one to experience Nibbana in the ultimate sense. Anyone trying to argue otherwise that there must be someone who experiences Nibbana is setting himself or herself up for ‘subjectification’ or ‘objectification’ of PS processes. It is a thicket of mistaken views that sets us up for being bound in sansara, as some sutta footnotes would state.
‘If you have no underlying tendency for form, you’re not measured against that, and you’re not defined by what you’re not measured against. If you have no underlying tendency for feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, you’re not measured against that, and you’re not defined by what you’re not measured against.’
Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas and Arahants are different from us. They cannot be defined by the pancakkhandas, as they have ceased clinging to them. They are immeasurable like the drops of water in an ocean or probably more. Therefore, to even think of them as having a definable Self that ‘exists or does not exist, or both exists and does not exists, or neither exists or does not exist’ is not valid.
After all, what exists? What does not exist? What both exists and does not exist? What neither exists nor does not exist? These questions all become invalid and meaningless in the ultimate sense. Of course until their Parinibbana, Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas and Arahants are still functioning. However, it is best to avoid thinking about the nature of their identities, lest we become embroiled in misconceptions and wrong views.
Can you see that you are equating ‘we’ with Nibbana deep down?
In Nibbana, there is no longer any ‘we’, in the sense of clinging to an identity view. Of course, arahants and Buddhas still talk about themselves, but they no longer think of themselves as having any true selves. It is the clinging to self-identity that prevents us from attaining Nibbana. A living being would have to give up any conception of ‘itself’ in order to attain Nibbana, and to cease dukkha, unsatisfactoriness and suffering.
You are falling into language traps, which condition us to think of ourselves as being a definite agent and being. Yet ultimate reality is nothing like that.
Even the question ‘How is this possible when anything about us would be unstable?’ assumes a stable self that needs to be saved, and after saving, still retains the characteristics of a self or being.
But in reality, we are just a collection of physical and mental processes conditioned by avijja and tanha, blinded by self-identification, and desperately and unknowingly trying to keep the cycle going on and on forever, despite a nagging feeling that there is dukkha in it, and that we would suffer unhappiness, disappointment, pain and disillusionment, yet thinking that there is no other way but to continue on, grasping against all odds at mundane, worldly happiness that can never be permanent.
You also wrote: We will never be able to make a refuge of ourselves, if, in deepest sense, we would only be unstable mental and phyiscal processes. I do not understand why this is not clear.
‘We’ cannot make a refuge of ourselves, if by ‘we’ you mean dukkha and sansara. Nibbana is the only ultimate refuge, but The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha serve as good temporary refuges for us before we attain Nibbana.
Siebe wrote: This stable element is ever present and all pervasive. Also now. It cannot be not present.
Siebe, you have made a common error in trying to define what Nibbana is. Nibbana is realized after the removal of causes for existence in sansara. With the structure of our language, it is more appropriate to think of it in negative terms (what it is not), rather than in positive terms (what it is).
Nibbana is spaceless and timeless, unconditioned by space and time. Therefore it is invalid to think of it as being ever present. To be ever present, it must be present in space all the time. Likewise, we cannot think of Nibbana as being all-pervasive. It is simply not possible to define Nibbana by space and time.
Time is indeed conditioned. When we experience the present, it almost immediately passes into the past. Therefore, it changes.
Furthermore, according to Einstein’s theory of special relativity (if Lal agrees with the theory), two people can experience time very differently if they are travelling at vastly different speeds from each other. Time slows down more and more the closer we approach the speed of light. In fact, when a massless particle travels at the speed of light, time will stop for that particle. Lal, am I right to say so or is there something you disagree with?
In addition, beings in different realms also experience time differently. What may be one day in a deva realm might be years in the human realm.
Siebe also wrote: But even in this life the nature of an arahant or Buddha cannot be explained/designated anymore in terms of khandha’s. Even while others think the rupa (body) they see, is the Buddha, this is not ultimately true.
That is certainly true. Although Buddha is still functioning after attaining enlightenment and before Parinibbana, He cannot be defined in terms of the khandhas anymore because He has stopped clinging to them. This is supported by SN 22.36.
However, those who still cling to the khandhas, can still be defined in terms of the khandhas, although there is certainly no immutable, unchanging, permanent ‘self’.
Next, I would like to give my views on sakkaya ditthi. In my opinion, the identification with self consists of two parts — ‘objectification’ (due to the samyojana ‘sakkaya ditthi’) and ‘subjectification’ (due to the more subtle samyojana ‘mana’).
Those who have not attained the sotapanna stage may tend to think: ‘I am rupa’; ‘I am vedana’; ‘I am sanna’; ‘I am ‘sankhara’, or ‘I am vinnana’. They still identify themselves with the pancupadanakkhandha, thinking ‘rupa is mine’; ‘vedana is mine’, and so on.
Upon attaining the sotapanna stage and eradicating sakkaya ditthi, however, the being no longer identifies with the pancupandanakkhandha. However, a subtle ‘I am’ conceit still exists. This must be mana. It is only eradicated at the arahant stage. Support for this view of mine may be found in the Khemaka Sutta (SN 22.89).
I hope this helps. Please let me know if there is anything you disagree with.
Thank you very much for your post, Lal. It is helpful.