The Cooling Down Process (Nibbana) – How Root Causes are Removed

1. One’s material world exists because of the six roots causes: lobha, dosa, moha, alobha, adosa, amoha. Even though we may have bouts of happiness, we suffer much more than imaginable in the rebirth process because of these six causes.

  • If there are six root causes, why did the Buddha say, “ragakkhayo Nibbanan, dosakkhayo Nibbanan, Mohakkhayo Nibbanan”? i.e., why are there only three causes to be removed to attain Nibbana? (By the way, lobha is a stronger form of raga, thus ragakkhaya means removing lobha).
  • In fact, one needs to cultivate alobha, adosa, amoha in order to remove lobha, dosa, moha.
  • As lobha, dosa, moha are removed gradually, the wisdom (panna) gained in that process automatically reduces alobha, adosa, amoha as needed. An Arahant has removed all six; alobha, adosa, amoha must be cultivated all the way up to the Arahant stage.

2. Lobha is the extreme of greed.(“lo” + “bha” where “lo” is for the lokaya or world and “bha” is for “bihiveema” (arise or establish) is the main reason how the material world is created and sustained with greed.

  • Because of  lobha, kamachanda (one of the five hindrances) arises.  It is said that “one loses one’s mind” when one acts with kamachanda (kämachanda = “käma” + “ichcha” +”anda” where “ichcha” is liking and “anda” is becomes blind; thus kamachanda means blinded by attachment to sense pleasures).
  • When one blinded by kamachanda and when obstacles arise in the way, one develops dosa or dvesa (“dvi”+”vésa” or second manifestation of greed; see,

    Pali Glossary” for the pronunciation key), i.e., hate for whatever gets in one’s way.

  • And one has lobha because one cannot see the truth about this world, i.e., because one has moha: Moha comes from “muva” + “” or literally “closed mouth”. Here what is meant is that if there is a vessel and if its mouth or opening is closed, then one cannot see what is inside. Thus when one has moha, one is ignorant about the true nature of this world, and thus acts blindly and foolishly, just based on the outward appearances.

3. One who has not heard about the Buddha’s world view is likely to act with moha and thus in turn has both lobha and dosa.

  • However, many people do not have strong versions of lobha, dosa, moha because they may have been exposed to Buddha Dhamma in recent previous lives and thus may be carrying over such habits (gathi) compatible with alobha, adosa, amoha. In fact, ANYONE is likely to have been exposed to Buddha Dhamma somewhere, sometime in the deep past; but the more time lag there is, one is likely to lose those qualities.
  • In any case, it is clear that if and when one has kamachanda, one gets blinded by the urge to get possession of whatever the sense object in question at the time. We all have had instances of kamachanda taking over; anyone can possibly remember instances where “the ability to reason out” got lost, at least for a brief time. It is good to contemplate on such a past situation and verify this fact.

4. Long-lasting hateful situations (dosa) arise because of kamachanda. Again one can go back and remember such situations. This is why dosa (or dvesa) is called the second manifestation of greed. At the extreme, dosa brings out the second of the five hindrances, vyapada. This word comes from “vaya”+”pada”, where “vaya” means decline and “pada” means walk towards; thus vyapada means one is on a (morally) declining path.

  • When one gets extremely angry, one again loses control and this could be even worse than kamachanda; it is possible for one to kill another human being in a moment of rage. And when one habitually gets angry, one could be in a state of vyapada for longer times, and that could become “normal” state of affairs if one is not stopped, i.e., become a “gathi“. We can see people get into the “vyapada mode” during (political) debates on television, or during arguments.
  • All five hindrances arise because of not seeing the futility of craving or hating. This “getting attached to this world” via greed and hate is called tanha; see, “Tanha – How We Attach Via Greed, Hate, and Ignorance

5. Avijja (ignorance) and tanha feed off each other, but it is avijja that one needs to tackle first. This is because unless one’s mind sees the dangers hidden behind tanha, it is not possible to reduce tanha.

  • When one starts learning Dhamma one begins to understand the nature of the wider world of 31 realms where beings move around birth to birth, how beings suffer mostly in the lowest four realms, that all actions have consequences, and why it does not make sense in the long run to act immorally to satisfy one’s immediate urges (the concept of anicca); see, “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Wrong Interpretations“, and follow-up posts.
  • When one truly understands anicca, one’s avijja starts to reduce first from the strong moha stage which contributes to vicikicca (acting without mindfulness); this in turn reduces greed and hate.
  • Most people make the mistake of trying to get rid of greed and hate (via breath meditation), and that is NOT POSSIBLE; one needs to engage in the correct version of “anapana” meditation; see, “Anäpänasati Bhävanä (Introduction)“.
  • As long as one has a wrong world view and does not see the danger in having thoughts of excess greed and hate, it is not possible to FORCIBLY get rid of greed and hate; see, “Difference Between Giving Up Valuables and Losing Interest in Worthless”.
  • This is why Samma Ditthi or the correct world view comes first in the Noble Eightfold Path.
  • When one does the breath meditation, what one is doing is to forcibly SUPPRESS kamachanda and vyapada, and other hindrances.

6. When one attains the Sotapanna stage, one’s lobha is reduced to the kama raga level and one’s dosa reduced to the patigha level PERMANENTLY; The fifth hindrance of vicikicca is removed, and the other two hindrances reduced. Patigha is a lower strength of vyapada: “pati” + “gha” means bonding via friction or dislike; thus patigha is included in tanha.

  • One can see now why a Sotapanna is incapable of doing extremely immoral acts that can result in a birth in the four lowest realms (apayas); one has removed vicikicca hindrance permanently, and one always acts with mindfulness. This higher level of Samma Ditthi or the correct world view is deeply ingrained in his/her mind, and even in a future birth that will not change. But one is still capable of acting with greed and hate to a certain extent.

7. When one attains the next level of Nibbana, the Sakadagami level, one permanently REDUCES kama raga and patigha.Because of this advancement, one will never be reborn in a realm where the physical body can be subjected to ailments, diseases, and old age, i.e., one will be reborn above the human realm, which is the fifth realm.

8. At the Anagami stage kama raga and patigha are permanently REMOVED. Thus by the Anagami stage, one has completely removed any form of dosa, the second root cause; one does not get angry or hateful under any circumstance, and the dosa cetasika is permanently removed. Since kama raga is also removed now one has no desire to be born in any realm in the kama loka, including the deva worlds.

  • Thus an Anagami has only rupa raga and arupa raga. This is mainly due to the desire of an Anagami to listen (and read) and contemplate on Dhamma concepts; there is no desire left for sense pleasures. Thus the lobha cetasika is reduced to a very low level.
  • As for the moha cetasika, only a low strength remains as avijja.

9. Thus out of the ten sanyojana or sanyoga (“san” + “yoga” or bound via “san”), sathkaya ditthi, vicikicca, silabbata paramasa (all due to strong avijja) are removed at the Sotapanna stage.

  • This is an important point: One just needs to comprehend the true nature of this world via understanding anicca, dukkha, anatta in order to become a Sotapanna.
  • Just with this understanding, one removes kamachanda , vyapada, and vicikicca. This is why a Sotapanna is said to be “one with the vision” or “dassanena sampanno“.
  • Once the Buddha took a bit of soil on his fingernail and told the bhikkhus, “if all the soil in this Earth can be compared to the defilements one needs to get rid of, a Sotapanna has left in him/her only an amount compared to this bit of soil on my fingernail”.
  • This may sound astounding to some. But it is critical to understand that most heinous immoral acts are done because of one not having Samma Ditthi at least to a significant level.
  • Of the remaining sanyojana (sanyoga), kama raga and patigha are reduced at the Sakadagami stage, and at the Anagami stage they are removed. The rest of the sanyoga (rupa raga, arupa raga, mana, uddacca, and avijja) are removed at the Arahant stage.

10. In the kama loka, we experience a form of olarika sukha (or primitive form of coarse sensations), where sense faculties and corresponding sense objects are dense. As attachment to pleasures from “dense matter” decreases, rebirth in the “denser worlds” is progressively eliminated (one exception is the peta realm where the bodies are fine, but that is done to impart an enhanced mental suffering).

  • At the Sotapanna stage one is permanently released from the coarse forms of suffering in the lowest four realms. After the Sakadagami stage, rebirths do not occur even in the human realm where the relatively dense bodies still are subjected to physical pains and diseases. An Anagami is born only in the suddhavasa rupa loka, where there are only fine bodies with vision, hearing, and mind only. An Arahant will never be reborn anywhere in the 31 realms which have “some connection to matter”; see, “What Are Rupa? (Relation to Nibbana)“.
  • Thus at the passing away of an Arahant, the mind is released from any attachment to the material world consisting of the 31 realms; no more suffering from physical pains, mental pains, or death. One has attained the state of amaraneeya (no death).

11. Another way to analyze the steps to Nibbana is to look at how the 12 akusala citta are removed stage by stage; see, “Akusala Citta – How a Sotapanna Avoids Apayagami Citta“.

12. Therefore, the four stages of Nibbana can be characterized via different ways, in terms of hindrances, sanyoga (or samyojana), “density of matter”, akusala citta, and many other ways. They are all inter-consistent.

13. Even before the Sotapanna stage one can start feeling the niramisa sukha; see, “Three Kinds of Happiness – What is Niramisa Sukha?“, and “Niramisa Sukha“.

  •  Niramisa sukha can increase considerably if one can get to the Ariya jhanas.
  • It is not necessary to attain Ariya jhanas to become a Sotapanna, but Ariya jhanas can be attained only if one is already a Sotapanna ; see, “How does one know whether the Sotapanna Stage is Reached? (this became clear to me only recently and I have verified it in a desana from the Thero).
  • Thus, If one can get to Ariya jhanas one can confirm the attainment of the Sotapanna stage. And it is possible to distinguish Ariya jhanas from Anariya jhanas easily since Ariya jhanas are immune to external influences or even forced defiled thoughts; see, “Ariya Jhanas via Cultivation of Saptha Bojjanga“.
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