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Venerable Sayadaw Ashin U Thittila

III. Talks involving Samadhi in particular


The Eightfold Path which the Buddha preached in his first sermon is known as the Middle Path because it is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Optimism tends to over-estimate the conditions of life, whereas pessimism tends to under-estimate them. To plunge on the one hand into the sensual excesses and pleasures of the ordinary worldly life is mean, degrading and useless. On the other hand. extravagant asceticism is also evil and useless. Self-indulgence tends to retard one's spiritual progress and self-mortification to weaken one's intellect. The Path is a Middle Way between the pairs of opposites. and the doctrine of the 'Way' may only be grasped by an understanding of the correlation and interdependence of the two. Progress is an alternating change of weight or emphasis between the two. Yet, just as a fencer's weight seems ever poised between his feet resting upon either foot only for so long as is needed to swing back the emphasis, so on the path the traveller rests at neither extreme but strives for balance on a line between, from which all opposites are equally in view. All extremes beget their opposites, and both are alike unprofitable.

For all people, the Middle Way of a good life lived in the world is in every way best and safest. The Buddha said: 'These two extremes are not to be practised by one who has gone forth to the higher life as a Bhikkhu (who renounces the world). What are the two? That conjoined with passion. low. vulgar, common, ignoble. And that conjoined with self-torture, painful, ignoble and useless.' Avoiding the two extremes. the Buddha had gained the knowledge of the Middle Path which gives sight and knowledge and tends to calm, to insight, enlightenment.

Now, what is the Middle Path which gives sight? It is the Eightfold Path, namely: right understanding. right thought, right speech. right action, right livelihood, right effort, right attention and right concentration. Of these the first two form a starting point for the journey of life. Then follow three having to do with outward conditions and then three having to do with inward conditions. The immediate goal is to attain control of the mind; with this control all individual desire can be, and will be rooted out and ended. The ultimate goal is the ending of all dissatisfaction and suffering through the attainment of perfect enlightenment. perfect wisdom.

The first step along the Path toward the goal is Right Understanding. This involves an understanding of the Four Noble Truths, namely the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the ceasing of suffering and the truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering. What now is suffering or pain? Birth is painful, old age is painful, sickness is painful, death is painful, sorrow, lamentation, dejection and despair are painful. To be separated from pleasant things is painful, to be in contact with unpleasant things is painful and not getting what one wishes is painful. Life is full of sorrow unless man knows how to live it. On the physical plane, birth, old age and death cannot be avoided, but there is another sense in which life is often sorrow, but a kind of sorrow that can be entirely avoided. The man who lives the ordinary life of the world often finds himself in trouble of various kinds. It would not be true to say that he is always in sorrow, but he is often in anxiety, and he is always liable at any moment to fall into great sorrow or anxiety. The reason for this is that he is full of worldly desires of various kinds, not at all necessarily wicked, but desires for worldly things and because of these desires he is tied down and confined. He is constantly striving to attain something which he has not, and when he has attained it he is anxious lest he should lose it, this is true not only of money but of position, power and social advancement.

There are other objects of desire~ for example, a man or a woman desires affection from someone who cannot give it to him or to her. From such a desire as that comes often a great deal of sadness, jealousy and much ill-feeling. You will say that such a desire is natural; undoubtedly it is, and affection which is returned is a great source of happiness. Yet if it cannot be returned, a man or a woman should have the strength to accept the situation and not allow sorrow to be caused by the unsatisfied desire. When we say that a thing is natural, we mean that it is what we might expect from the average man. But the student of Buddhism must try to rise above the level of the average man, otherwise how can he help that man? We must rise above that level in order that we may be able to stretch down a helping hand.

The Second Noble Truth is the cause of suffering. We have seen that the cause of suffering is always desire to possess and desire to preserve things possessed. The Buddha says that man's sense of possession is his greatest enemy, for the desire for accumulation steals from him his reason and intelligence. To be attached to a thing is to be sad at the loss of it. To despise or hate a thing is to be unhappy at the approach of it. Selfish desire for a worldly material object results in sacrificing spiritual treasure to secure the desired object which is probably of little value. Therefore, selfish desire destroys the sense of value, for selfish desire places worldly possessions above wisdom, and personalities above principles.

Some people express sorrow when they find old age coming upon them, when they find they are not so strong as they used to be. It is wise for them to realize that their bodies have done good work, and if they can no longer do the same amount as before, they should do gently and peacefully what they can, but not worry themselves over the change. Presently they will have new bodies, and the way to ensure a good one is to make such good use as they can of the old one, but in any case to be serene, calm and unruffled. The only way to do that is to let all selfish desire cease, and to turn the thought outward, helping others as far as one's capabilities go.

Now the Third Noble Truth, ceasing of suffering. We have already seen how sorrow ceases and how calm is to be attained: it is by always keeping our thought on the highest things. We may live in this world quite happily if we are not attached to it by foolish desire. We are in it, but we 'must not be of it. at least not to such an extent as to let it cause worry, trouble and sorrow. Undoubtedly our duty is to help others in their sorrows and troubles. but in order to do that effectively we must have none of our own selfish desires. If we take this life with philosophy we shall find that for us sorrow almost entirely ceases. There may be some who think such an attitude unattainable. It is not so. We can reach it, and we ought to do so, because only when we have attained it can we really and effectively help our brother man.


The cessation of craving or selfish desire means the removal of all the hindrances, for all the others group themselves about this one root-factor; the result is called Nibbana. The Pali term Nibbana is formed of Ni and Vana. Ni is a negative particle and Vana means craving or selfish desire. Nibbana. therefore, literally means absence of craving. It may also be defined as extinction of lust, hatred and ignorance.

Now the predominance of this negative explanation of the Buddhist goal, Nibbana, resulted in the mistaken notion that at is 'Nothingness' or 'Annihilation'. Nevertheless we do find in the Pitakas such positive definitions of Nibbana as 'Highest Refuge' (Parayana), 'Safety' (Tana), 'Unique' (Kevala). 'Absolute Purity' (Visuddhi). 'Supramundane' (Lokuttara), 'Security' (Khema), 'Emancipation' (Mutti), 'Peace' (Santi), and so on.

The Sanskrit root 'Va' means to 'blow' and the prefix 'nir' is used to denote 'off' or 'out', being parallel to the Latin 'ex'. Hence Nibbana, in its Sanskrit form, means the 'blowing out'. What is blown out is understood to be the flame of personal desire. Nibbana is therefore not negative because it is the blowing out of the passive part of man, of his wishing tendencies. It is freedom, but freedom not from circumstances, but from the bonds with which we have bound ourselves to those conditions. The man who is strong enough to say, 'Whatever comes I accept as best' becomes free, because he now lives in the process of the spiritual evolution of himself, not in the pleasure of personality, and he can make use of all things for the purpose of that evolution.

Freedom does not mean that one can do everything that one can imagine, that one can defeat a lion with a slap of the hand. It contains no such aggressive conceptions when properly under stood. Some people may say that freedom of the will would mean that they could do anything they wish, but they forget that those very wishes restrict their freedom. Freedom means that one can not be made a slave to any one or anything. A free man is able to use freely any one or anything as a useful thing. Nothing. however, can use this man as its slave, because he is free from personal desire, and free from resentment, anger, pride, fear, and impatience which arise through selfish desire. Such binding emotions are blown out like so many candles. That man is free on earth. He has reached Nibbana in this world.

The Fourth Noble Truth is the Way leading to the end of suffering. It is the Middle Way, the Eightfold Path. So, the best way which leads to the end of all sorrow is the Middle Path.

Now let us proceed to the discussion of the other steps of the path. The second step is Right Thought. We should think about right things and not about wrong things. We can have at the back our minds always high and beautiful thoughts. Right thought must never have the slightest touch of evil in it; there are some people who would not deliberately think of anything impure or horrible, and yet they will cherish thoughts which are on the brink of that not definitely evil, but certainly a little doubtful. Wherever there is anything which seems in the least suspicious or unkind, it must be shut out. We must be quite sure that our thoughts are only kind and good.

There is another meaning of right thought, and that is correct thought. So often we think untruly or wrongly of persons just because of prejudice or ignorance. We get an idea that a certain person is a bad person. and therefore that all he does must be evil. We attribute motives to him which are often absolutely without foundation, and in doing so we are thinking untruly of him, and therefore our thought is not right thought. We are looking at one side of the person and we ignore the other side.

By fixing our attention on the evil in the man instead of the good, we strengthen and encourage that evil, whereas by right thought we might give just the same encouragement to the good side of that man's nature.

The third step is Right Speech. and here again we should speak always of good things. It is not our business to speak of the evil deeds of others. In most cases the stories about other people which reach us are not true, and so if we repeat them our words will also be untrue. Even if the story is true, it is still wrong to repeat it. In a family if a husband or a wife or a son or a brother did something wrong. we should certainly feel that it would be wrong to advertise the misdeed of one whom we loved to many people who would not otherwise hear of it. We should speak with regard to others as we should wish them to speak with regard to us. Some people allow themselves to fall into exaggeration and inaccuracy, and they make little things into enormous stories; surely that is not right speech. They also have the idea that when one meets a friend one must keep talking all the time, or the friend will be hurt. With the idea of seeming smart, they keep up a stream of constant half- joking or sneering talk. They must always be showing everything in a ridiculous or amusing aspect. Certainly all that comes under the heading of idle words. if we must talk, at least we might say something useful and helpful. Speech must be kindly, direct and forceful, and not silly.

The fourth step is Right Action. We see at once how these three steps necessarily follow one from another. If We think always of good things. we shall certainly not speak of evil things; if our thought and speech are good, then the action which follows will also be good. Action must be prompt and yet well-considered, and it must be unselfish. We should do what we can to help others. We do not live by ourselves. We live amongst others, so that whatever we think or say or do will necessarily affect a great many people. We should remember that our thought, our speech and our action are not merely qualities, but powers we possess to use. All are meant to be used for service, and to use them otherwise is to fail in our duty.

The fifth step is Right Livelihood, and that is a matter which may touch quite a large number of us. The right livelihood is that which causes no harm to any living thing. That affects such trades as those of a butcher or fisherman; but it reaches much further than that. We should not obtain our livelihood by harming any being, and therefore we can see that the selling of alcohol is not a right means of livelihood, because the seller is living on the harm he does to other people. The idea goes yet further. Take the case of a merchant who in the course of his trade is dishonest. That is not a right means of livelihood, because his trading is not fair and he is cheating the people. When you trust a doctor or a lawyer you expect to be treated fairly. In the same way the customer comes to the trader, and therefore the latter should be as honest with his customer as the lawyer or the doctor is with his client or his patient. You have a right to make a reasonable profit in the course of your bargain, but you must also look to your duty.

The sixth step is Right Endeavour, and it is a very important one. We must not be content to be negatively good. What is desired of us is not mere abstinence from evil, but the positive doing of good. When the Buddha made a short statement in a single verse, he began by saying 'Cease to do evil', but the next line runs: team to do good'. Every person has a certain amount of strength, not only physical, but mental, and can do a certain amount of work. Every person has also a certain amount of influence among his friends and relations. That influence means power, and we are responsible for making good use of that power. All about us are children, relations, employees, and over all of these we have a certain amount of influence, at least by example. We must be careful of what we do and what we say, because others will copy us.

The seventh step is Right Attention. Vigilant attention leads us to see correctly and to attain a point of view from which we see beyond the pairs of opposites. He who does not practise attention is the plaything of the multiple influences with which he comes into contact; he is like a drifting cork which is at the mercy of the waves. He unconsciously submits to the action of his physical and psychologic environment.

We should be conscious of our movements and acts, both physical and mental. Nothing of what goes on in us should escape unnoticed. We should be conscious of the feelings which arise in us and recognize them. When the power of attention is enhanced, and one has reached the point where one misses none of the phenomena which arise in oneself, one proceeds to investigate them and to search for their causes. He will be aware of his anger when he is angry, and find the cause of it, and foresee the result of it. In this way he will check all his feelings, envy, sensuality, anxiety, etc. If he performs a charitable deed, he also should question himself as to the motives which he obeyed. The result of this kind of question will often be a powerful influence to minimize selfish moral values.

The practice of perfect attention is a means of learning to know oneself. to know the world in which one lives, consequently to acquire right understanding. Another practice under this heading is the exercise of memory: for example, at the end of each day one recalls the actions which one has performed, the feelings which one has experienced, the thoughts which one has entertained. The examination is conducted backwards, that is to say, beginning with the last thought one has and working back until the first moments after waking. The aim of this exercise is simply to teach us to allow none of the things which our senses have perceived, or the ideas which have passed through our minds, to become obliterated. This practice of memory, when fully developed, will result in attaining the knowledge of remembering former births.

The eighth step is Right Concentration. It is the right concentration of thought upon a single object. Meditation is to be practised only after concentration in concentration we start with simple objects, and in meditation we carry the clear conception of that simple object to the higher mental and intellectual levels. To make it clear, imagine someone pouring water from above into a jar. if there are many holes round the bottom and sides of the jar, the water will run out, but if the holes are all filled in, the water will rise. Most of us are like the jar full of holes, ready to leak, so that we cannot concentrate our thoughts. Meditation is like the pouring of water, concentration is like the filling of the holes. Concentration makes our consciousness steady without leakage and meditation fills it with clear vision and wisdom. By meditation on a chosen object, you will observe that object clearly and understand the function of it in conjunction with other things. By meditation, therefore, we enlarge our knowledge and wisdom.

When your meditation is fully developed it opens up ways of intuition and many supernormal powers which some people call occult powers. These powers may be obtained even before one reaches the state of Nibbana. In a way it is true that they are occult powers because they are hidden from those who have not developed their minds in this way. On the other hand these powers are not occult because they are not hidden from those who have sincerely and strenuously practised right meditation, they just form an extension of the powers used in ordinary life. By the powers developed you can see things which you cannot see otherwise, because your consciousness, thoughts, are so pure, like a polished mirror which reflects everything that appears in front of it. If the surface of a mirror is not clear you can see nothing in it. In the same way, without meditation your consciousness and thoughts may be mixed up with selfish desire, hatred and delusion, but when they are purified and developed by means of meditation. you will see things as they truly are and your wisdom will shine forth.


Metta is the world's supreme need today, greater, indeed, than ever before. As you know, in the world now there is sufficient material and money and, as you see, we have very advanced intellects, very clever and brilliant authors, philosophers, psychologists, scientists and also religious people, ministers of law, morality, religion and so on. In spite of all these brilliant people, there is no real peace and happiness in the world. it shows that there is something lacking.

That is Metta. a Pali word which has been translated into English as 'Love'. When you use the word 'love' you have different ideas in the interpretation of this word and you may mean many other things, because it is a word that has been loosely used and in some cases misused or abused. Therefore when you talk about love, people may have a different concept. So we use the Pali word 'Metta' to mean Loving-kindness - not the ordinary, sensual, emotional, sentimental kind of love. As you know, the word 'Love' has been defined in many ways in the English language, according to the ideas in the minds of different people professing different religions.

For instance, a recently published booklet entitled 'Love' has been given to me for my perusal and I would like to comment on it. I am not going to discuss any particular point in this book. I just want to show you how different from Metta a definition of 'Love' can be. The author of this book is a highly respected teacher of a certain theist faith. According to his definition of Metta, and he uses our Pali word. 'Love is God. Love emanates itself in any of the creations of God. Man is foremost'.

I would like to read a little about 'Love' towards animals from this book.

'Man requires vigour, strength or procreation to serve God ...to protect him and others and to control the world successfully. In order to be strong and powerful man must eat nutritious food and for this reason God has instructed Man to kill and to eat ...bullocks, camels. He is not permitted to kill wild animals . . otherwise he would himself become wild in course of time. By reason of the flesh of domestic animals being eaten by man, the goodness of these animals mingles with men's souls and thus (sic) indirectly obtain Heaven. This amounts to a good turn done to them by men - an act of compassion shown by men to them. This is not cruelty in life'.

With due respect to the author I have read this passage out to you just for comparison. He equates Metta with 'Love', with his, to us, rather peculiar logic and way of looking at things.

What is the Buddhist idea of Metta? Metta has been translated by modern translators into English as 'generous mindedness, loving-kindness, sending out thoughts of love towards others', but in the words of the Buddha, Metta has a far wider significance - a much more extensive implication than this. It means a great deal more than loving-kindness, harmlessness (Ahimsa), sympathy. I would like to mention a point here. According to the Christian Bible 'Goodwill' is supposed to be very good. You remember the message of goodwill given by the angels when the child Christ was born. The angels, they say, gave a message of goodwill to the world, 'Peace on earth to men of goodwill, etc.'. When you examine this message you realize that the angels gave peace on earth only to men of goodwill and not to all the people. That is the message. In Buddhism, Metta has been emphasized. It is much deeper than goodwill. Also harmlessness is a very, very good, grand principle but it is a negative aspect. This loving-kindness, according to the Buddha's Teaching, has two aspects. One is negative, that is adosa (amity) as explained in the Abhidhamma: it is an explanation of Metta but it is negative, meaning 'absence of hatred and hostility'. Though absence of hatred is a grand thing, it is not good enough unless its active aspect is emphasized - that is loving-kindness. Not to do evil is very good but it is only a negative aspect - to do good is the positive aspect. So also Metta has its positive aspect.

What is love? Love is also defined in the Oxford Dictionary. According to it, love means 'warm affection, attachment, affectionate devotion etc.'. These are the synonymous terms for love. They all refer to sentimental, worldly love. Therefore, Metta has no full English equivalent because this Metta is much more than ordinary affection - warm affection. The Pali word Metta means literally - 'friendliness', also love without a desire to possess but with a desire to help, to sacrifice self-interest for the welfare and well-being of humanity. This love is without any selection or exclusion. If you select a few good friends and exclude unpleasant persons, then you have not got a good grasp of this Metta. Love is not merely brotherly feeling but a principle for us to practise. It is not merely benevolent thought but performing charitable deeds, active ministry for the good of one and all. A subject - not to be talked about but to be - to put it in your being - to suffuse it within ourselves. It is, then, a dynamic suffusing of every living being, excluding none whatsoever, with dynamic. creative thoughts of loving-kindness. If the thoughts are intense enough, right actions follow automatically.

People talk about ideas to counteract other ideologies. We Buddhists do not need any new ideologies, we have enough in the teachings of the Buddha. Out of the four Brahma Vihara - this Metta - which is one of them, is good enough to create anything noble, anything grand to make peace and happiness at home, in society and in the world.

Metta - pure loving-kindness - embraces all beings everywhere, either on earth or in the skies or Heaven. It also embraces all beings high or low, without measure because the poor people, lowly people, evil people, ignorant people are most in need of it. Because in them it has died out for lack of warmth or friendliness - this Metta becomes with them like a weak stream running in a desert. This Metta includes loving. unloving good and bad people.

You may ask. 'Should we love foolish people - fools?' It is a common question asked in foreign countries, Should we love snakes?' European ladies also asked 'Should we love mice?' European ladies do not like mice. But we should not hate a person just as a doctor does not hate a patient but his duty is to quell to get rid of the disease the patient is suffering from, to take out anything that is wrong in that person, or we may say the disease that is afflicting the person. Therefore, it should include all beings without measure.

This Metta is entirely different from sensual lust which has passed as 'love' in the world today, which has also been admired and talked about as emotional love. This Metta is much higher - in fact it is the highest form of love. It is much higher than sentimental, sensual love.

In its outward appearance sentimental love seems to be very sweet but it is like fire - indeed far worse than fire. Once it is born it grows rapidly, flowers at one moment and then it scorches and burns the possessor in another moment leaving ugly wounds and scars. That is why in Burmese we say 'Achitkyi, amyetkyi'. The more sentimental love you have, the more hate you have and the more suffering you have; because it is like fire which burns very easily. But Metta has a cooling effect like the soft touch of a gentle hand - soft but firm - without changing its sympathy. So it only creates a calm, pleasant atmosphere.

Sorrow for loved ones is not a sign of this love - Metta. Love is strength, because it is pure and gives strength. It is not weakness.

I would like to recite, not Pali but a translation of a passage from the Metta Sutta - a very valuable Sutta. You hear Sayadaws( Sayadaw: Burmese for Mahatheras. A Thera is a fully ordained Bhikkhu of 10 years' standing. A Mahathera is a fully ordained Bhikkhu of 20 years' standing ) recite this Sutta in Pali on almost every occasion.

This passage gives an example of what love is. This is not a perfect example, but for want of a better example the Buddha has chosen the love of a mother. He says in the Metta Sutta: 'Just as a mother, even at the risk of her life loves and protects her child - the only child - so let a man cultivate this Universal Love - towards the whole universe; below, above, around, unstinted, unmixed with any feeling of opposing interest. Let him remain steadfastly in this state of mind, all the while from the time he awakes, whether he be standing, walking. sitting or lying down. This state of heart is the best in the world'.

This is the model held up by the Buddha to the world. This is the ideal of what man should be to man. This is the appeal to every heart. It is a service for all in the form of a mother's love. Does a mother merely radiate her love in the bringing up of her child? Can any one express this deathless love of a mother for her child that she has within her heart? If you consider a mother's love for her child you will find that it is boundless. Therefore it is called 'Appamana' in Pali. It has no limit.

The love of a mother who has only one child is the example chosen by the Buddha. Imagine a mother's love; when a child is hungry she is watching carefully to feed it before it asks her for it. When the child is in danger, she will risk her own life. Thus in every way she helps her child. Therefore the Buddha asks us to love all beings as a mother loves her only child. If we can do it even up to a certain extent, I think the world will be a different place - happier and more peaceful.

Though we talk much about love and repeat the formula 'Sabbe satta avera hontu. avyapajjha hontu etc.' (May all sentient beings be free from danger; may they be free from oppression. etc.) without this love how can it be effective? This passage is not merely to be recited. The Buddha does not ask us to learn any of his teachings for recitation only. They are in the nature of prescriptions. The doctor may diagnose, find the cause of your disease and will give you a prescription according to his findings. Will the disease be cured by merely reciting the formula backwards and forwards? You may have a recipe how to cook food, how to cook curry. You may recite it backwards and forwards but you will not have the result. So recitation is nothing practical. Theory is good but is not good enough, because it is not the end of a thing, it is only the beginning of it. So recitation of the Metta Sutta is good but the Buddha did not mean it to be merely recited. He exhorted us to follow his instructions in it so that we might realize Metta, the best state of heart in the world. Therefore my advice is, do not be satisfied with the mere recitation of the Sutta but strive to know its meaning with a view to practising it and 'to become it' - to make it suffuse your being. That is the point. Meditation does not mean merely to think about it, but to practise it in our daily life.

I would like you to do a very short meditation on Love. So as to make you familiar with meditation, I would like to show you a practical method which you can practise wherever you go.

Now, coming to the message of Love. We are asked to be loving towards all beings as a mother loves her only child. Therefore, Metta must go hand in hand with helpfulness, with willingness and a spirit of sacrifice for the welfare of other beings.

In the Digha Nikaya, it is said by the Buddha that almost every virtue such as unselfishness, loving sympathy and loving-kindness is included in this Metta. If you have real Metta you can be almost everything; you can radiate a noble, grand peace. It is this Metta that attempts to break away all barriers which separate beings one from the other.

Some people may doubt as to whether Love can be a basis of policy for settlement. Many people look upon this Love - Metta - as a feminine virtue. They say it is a soft feminine virtue. But true Love is a masculine dynamic power which breaks all the barriers and builds. Who has built the most lasting empires? Is it Alexander, Caesar or the Buddha? We often talk about the Roman Empire, French Empire, Russian Empire. Where are those empires now? Those empires lasted temporarily because they were based on hatred, pride and conceit. They were not based on love. Any policy used, which is not based on love, cannot last very long.

In this connection. I would like to use a simile. Life is like a big wheel in perpetual motion. This great wheel has numberless small wheels in it each of which has its own pattern. The great wheel and the smaller wheels - the great Universe and the individuals are so linked together that we depend one on another for service, for happiness, for development. Therefore, our duty is to bring out the goodness in each one of us - which is in harmony with the pattern of the world. For all the wheels to revolve in harmony. the highest good in each one of us should be produced. For instance, in a car, to make it in running order - to use it - every part should be in order. If we are going to create a happy family. happy house, everybody in the house, at least the majority, must be in good order. If we are to create a good harmony in ourselves, the majority must be in good order so that it will be in harmony with happiness and peace. It can be done here and now by the performance of daily, hourly duties with love, courtesy and honesty.

The ideal placed by the Buddha before us is mutual service - men being in need of each other - to help each other, bear each other's burdens. We have three types of work as mentioned in the Nikaya - three modes of conduct for the Buddhist, In Pali we call it 'Buddhattha Cariya, Natattha Cariya, Lokattha Cariya' (striving for Buddhahood, working for the benefit of one's relatives and friends, and working for the benefit of the whole world). Similarly, each one of us has three modes of conduct - 'Atta-Cariya' is striving for self-development so that one may attain happiness, self-culture and self-realization. The second mode of conduct - 'Natattha Cariya' is working for the benefit of one's relatives and friends. The third mode for us to follow is 'Lokattha Cariya' to work for the benefit of the whole world without making any distinction as regards caste, colour or creed. The Buddha has asked us to practise these three types of conduct. Buddhism being a method of development - self-development, is an education of the heart. Therefore our task is to practise these principles laid down by the Buddha, to refine our own nature, to elevate ourselves on the scale of beings.

Modem education, as you know, is mainly education in the means to make money, how to arrange things and control them. Buddhism is an education of the heart. Therefore, if religion is taken only as an intellectual faith in the mind, it has no force. If religion is not followed by practice, we cannot produce any' result. In the Dhammapada the Buddha said: 'A beautiful word or thought which is not accompanied by corresponding acts is like a bright flower which bears no fruit. It would not produce any effect'.( Dhammapada - Pupphavaggo. verse 51) Therefore, it is action, and not speculation; it is practice, not theory that matters. According to the Dhammapada, 'Will' if it is not followed by corresponding action, does not count. Therefore, practice of the noble principles is the essence of Buddhism.

In this connection I also want to say that this Metta - Universal Love - is generally taken to exist in connection with other people, but in reality love for self comes first. It is not a selfish love, but love for self- pure love - comes first. When we meditate on love, we meditate on love of self first. (Aham avero homi . . . etc.) (May I be free from harm). By having pure love, Metta, as we defined it, for self; selfish tendencies, hatred, anger will be diminished. Therefore, unless we ourselves possess Metta within, we cannot share, we cannot radiate, we cannot send this Metta to others. Supposing you have no money how can you send even a few small coins? So meditation on love is to be started within ourselves. You may say that we love ourselves, If you can say that you love yourselves, can you harm yourselves by having angry thoughts within yourselves? If you love a person will you do harm to him? No. To love the self means to be free from selfishness, hatred anger, etc. Therefore, to clear ourselves from these undesirable feelings we must love ourselves. According to Buddhism self-love comes first. Buddhism always is a method of dealing with ourselves. Therefore, it is self-help. By helping ourselves we can help others effectively. We talk about externals, meaning by this the duty to help others; but as pointed out by the Buddha, if a person cannot help himself well, he cannot help others well. ('One should first establish oneself an what is proper; then only he should advise another; such a wise man will not be reproached'. - Dhammapada. Verse158.) Also in the Dhammapada, (Dhammapada 42) it is said no enemy can harm one so much as one's own thoughts of craving - thoughts of hatred, thoughts of jealousy and so on. If one cannot find happiness in himself, he cannot find happiness anywhere else. It is also said that people who cannot control themselves cannot find happiness. In social service, the so-called social workers are not happy in the performance of their duties unless they are calm themselves. If they are not calm in themselves, they cannot produce calm in others. We must, therefore be properly trained not only' in outside organization but in our inner culture. In the case of many so-called social workers, the real thing they are doing is telling others what to do like dictators. And they say that, 'We do our best but others are not willing to accept our help'. Everybody is in need of help if the help is properly given in the way they like to be assisted but not in the ways others want to help them. So a true social worker should be a person who has true love for himself first filled with a love which is nothing but pure, unselfish love. Then he can confer a double blessing; that is, he, having pure, true love, enjoys himself while helping others, at the same time making others happy.

You remember the Jataka stories where the Bodhisatta, the Buddha-to-be, is always trying to strengthen himself by helping others - so that other people will be happy, so that he will be stronger to give greater help.

Again, if a person cannot be right with himself, he cannot be right with others. He should be like an engineer who first perfects himself in his trade and then only produces perfect work because he has perfected his training first. A doctor without the required qualifications may try to help patients but he may do harm instead. Therefore, a leader of any kind, social, political, religious, if he has no mental culture. may be leading his followers in a wrong direction.

We are so used to seeing external raining that we forget inner training, the training of ourselves. We like to train other people and forget to train ourselves. We tend to take it for granted that we are always right and others are in the wrong. It seems to be a characteristic of people that they blame others; even when they are late, they blame others - because of wife, because of friends or somebody else, etc. I do not mean to say that we should blame only ourselves. There is a saying of Confucius - a very wise, useful saying: 'An uncultured person blames others, a semi-cultured person blames himself, and a fully cultured person blames neither'. The problem is, 'What is wrong and not who is wrong'. According to the Buddhist method, training oneself comes first. Individual perfection must be first, so that the organic whole may be perfect. The state of the outer world is a reflection of our inner selves.

To conclude I would like to ask you to meditate a few minutes on love, so that our thoughts, actions and words may be filled with love. From trained minds, come right thoughts, right actions and right words.

In true meditation, first you fill yourself with love mentally, 'May I be well and happy'. After a while you extend it to all others, saying mentally, 'May all beings of the Universe be well and happy'. Mean it and feel it. Also try to see that the world is filled with your love, with a great desire that they may be happy, a desire such as a mother has for her only child.

If you send out these thoughts of Metta before you go to sleep. I am positive that you will have extraordinarily peaceful sleep. If you can maintain these thoughts of Metta, you will have a serene, peaceful, successful life and you will be loved because you are loving. The world is like a great mirror and if you look at the mirror with a smiling face you will see your own smiling beautiful face. If you look at it with a long face, as the English say, you will invariably see your own ugly face. There is also an expression in the form of greeting. 'Well friend, how does the world treat you?' The usual answer is, 'Well. I am all right'. Your answer should be. 'Well, the world treats me as I treat the world'.

If you treat the world properly, kindly, the world will treat you kindly. We should not expect other persons to treat us kindly first, but we should start by ourselves treating them kindly.


Compassion is the English translation of the Pali word 'karuna', which may be further expanded as: that which moves a good man's heart at the sight of suffering of other people. Its main characteristic is the desire to remove suffering from people; its chief function being the overcoming or discarding of cruelty. It is not just a feeling, but a principle, going beyond mere wishing by the actual doing of kind and helpful actions. True compassion goes hand in hand with helpfulness and willingness to sacrifice self-interest in order to promote the welfare and happiness of mankind. It should be realized and remembered that its indirect enemy is grief, grief and sorrow not being compassion in the real sense of the word since they are morally weak states, whereas true compassion is morally strong and gives strength. By cultivating the principle of compassion in ourselves we overcome cruelty, in the course of which we cultivate wisdom, and perfect wisdom is the crown of compassion.

The four sublime states (brahma-vihara) are: pure love (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha), and these four principles constitute the moral and spiritual foundation of man, being at the same time real sources of peace and happiness. How as ordinary worldings do we acquire them? If we say it is impossible, that means we are unwilling to try, and we do no better than those who deafen their ears to avoid hearing the cry of the distressed because they are absorbed in their own little selfish griefs and joys. Bound up in these they cannot feel compassion, and although there are those who can find it possible, for many people the acquiring of such a quality does not seem to be possible.

Compassion is generally taken to exist in connection with other people, but really, true and pure love or compassion for onself should come first in order to diminish our own cruel tendencies. In meditation, therefore, we first meditate on compassion for ourselves for the purpose of achieving this aim; moreover, it is impossible to radiate thoughts of love and compassion unless we ourselves have properly developed these qualities. If one can say that one loves oneself and is compassionate towards oneself, one should, by meditation, help oneself to entertain always pure and beautiful thoughts so that any words or deeds, as a result of which they may become manifest, are also pure and beautiful. Can we. I wonder, really say we love ourselves and are compassionate towards ourselves in a true sense? If so, we should never do harm to ourselves by allowing thoughts, words and deeds of craving, anger and delusion to arise, for by such action we should definitely be harming ourselves. In the form of self-help, therefore, pure love and compassion in the true sense should be for oneself first. The Buddhist method is always to deal with oneself first, for by so doing we are helping ourselves to be in a position to understand and help others more effectively. Should we ourselves have selfish, angry thoughts and misunderstanding. we not only harm ourselves but other people at the same time. Very often it seems to some people that by talking and dealing with external matters it is easier to help others rather than to help oneself, but if one is incapable of helping oneself efficiently one is certainly not capable of helping others efficiently. 'One who profits himself will profit others'; and it should constantly be remembered that no enemy can harm one so much as one's own evil thoughts and craving, these are our inner enemies who follow us day and night, and from whom we must try to keep away. If a person cannot find happiness within himself, he will not be able-to find it anywhere.

People who cannot control themselves cannot find happiness by performing services for others, because since they themselves are no calm they cannot create a calm atmosphere. Those same people in performing social services may be telling others what to do, but they still find unhappiness in themselves and so tend to blame other people, saying,' We do our best, but others are not willing to accept our services', and so on. Such people are not really fit to render these services. A person with true compassion based on understanding, confers a double blessing; he helps others with a true, pure motive, and because of his own calmness he feels happiness within himself as well as happiness in helping others. It takes great effort to cultivate pure compassion for oneself, but to tell others what to do needs only words. It will be observed in the Jataka stories that a Bodhisatta always tries to strengthen and help himself, and so improve his work for the welfare of humanity.

Again, we cannot be right with the world if we are not right with ourselves. The engineer perfects himself in his training, and as a consequence produces perfect, reliable work because he has first perfected himself in his training. A doctor with merely good intentions but no qualifications may try to help, but in actual fact he may really do harm; and a leader of any kind, social, political or religious, may well lead his followers in the wrong direction instead of the right if he has no mental or moral culture.

Meditation is mental training, and from a trained mind spring right thoughts. words and deeds. We are so used to seeing external training that we forget the inner training of ourselves. Why is it that we do not think of self-development? Buddhist teaching reveals how self-development may be achieved, showing that the individual must be perfect in order that the organic whole may be perfect, the inner world coming first, since the outer world is only a manifestation of the inner world. So often we tend to blame others, thinking that it is we who are right, without even bothering to examine ourselves.

Thus compassion for oneself is first, and we can achieve it by clear thinking and by self-discipline; but to attain to it we must also try to understand and find out the right way to bring up both ourselves and our children. Clear thinking can be superficial unless we practise it from childhood. In the case of compassion, for instance, which includes absolutely all beings including animals, it is difficult to imagine how we can expect to introduce humane education when parents give their children nursery rhymes such as Three Blind Mice and The House that Jack Built. These bring dreadful thoughts to children's minds, completely defeating the object of trying to introduce right thinking and self-discipline.

In the Teaching of the Buddha. as already emphasized, compassion for oneself comes first; so, self-pity, being sorry for oneself, will do harm because such thoughts are of a selfish nature, and will be followed by misunderstanding and anger. Some people, though, are proud to speak of my anger', but anger can never be righteous or justified, because it harms the producer as well as others.

When a person has eventually cultivated the principle of compassion in himself he is in a position to extend it, and he should develop it until it covers the whole of society. the whole country and the whole world, without distinction whatsoever with regard to class, colour or creed. If in so doing he should demand acknowledgment of any kind, this is not true compassion.

It is a good thing to meditate, because training of the mind is the starting point, but I should be happy if the students who attend these classes would also give a thought to compassion. People who come to study classes and lectures should consider what is taught to them and make up their minds to practise accordingly. they should not take themselves too much for granted and forget what they have been taught.

First, then, meditate on compassion for yourself, until your heart and mind are full of it and become it, then enlarge that compassion until it embraces all beings throughout the whole universe.


Lecture to the High Court Buddhist Association, Rangoon


Part One

The title of our talk this afternoon is 'The Way to Nibbana the way to the highest happiness'.

To sum up all the teachings of the Buddha. we have a stanza:

To refrain from all evil
To do what is good.
To purify the mind
This is the teaching of (all) Buddhas.

(Dhammapada 183; - Khuddakanikaya Dhammapadatthakatha. 14 Buddhavagga. 4-Anandatherapanha vatthu; Verse 183.)

It is a very short stanza; yet it covers all the teachings of the Buddha. It embodies three stages on the Highway to the Highest Happiness Nibbana. I think most of you know that stanza in Pali and therefore I need not repeat it. There are three stages of developing ourselves towards this Highest Happiness. The order of development of ourselves in accordance with the Noble Eightfold Path (Attha Magganga-Majjhima Patipada) is classified into three groups, namely. Sila (Morality), Samadhi (Concentration) and Panna (Wisdom). The first two steps of the Noble Eightfold Path, Right Understanding. i.e. understanding of the nature of self, and the nature of the universe, and Right Thought are grouped under Panna Wisdom; the next three, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood are grouped under Sila. Morality. Right Effort. Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are grouped under Samadhi (Concentration).

You may ask, as it has frequently been asked - Why three stages - why not one stage only as a basis? The reason is, we have three stages of defilements - Kilesas, (impurities) such as Lobha, Dosa and Moha, etc. Each of the 10 Kilesas (defilements) has three stages. For instance, greed or anger has three stages. The first stage, the root, is called in Pali, Anusaya. At this stage the defilements such as craving, anger, etc. are lying latent in each of us. They do not become manifest up to the level of thoughts. feelings and emotions, yet they lie latent in each of us. We can prove it. The fact that we can be made excited and angry shows that we have certain tendencies like anger, hatred - though for ordinary purposes we may be called 'good' people. We are good only when other people are good; otherwise we can be made angry and emotional. This proves that we have certain tendencies.

If one's actions are according to the law of Morality, then that is Right Action. When your action not only is harmless but also helpful - of great service to you as well as to others, then you can say your action is right. There are many things which we think to be good but they are only good to us, good only from our own standpoint.

In order to do right your mind must be free from selfishness, ill-will, hatred, jealousy. etc. When your mind is pure you can see and know things as they really are. Take for instance the case of a pot which is filled with water. It is filled in three stages - the bottom, the middle and the topmost parts. Anusaya is the first or the root stage where the evil tendencies are lying latent. The fact that you can provoke a person into anger clearly shows that there is anger, or the root of anger, lying latent within him. This first stage is very quiet - so quiet that we seem to be sacrosant.

Even at the second stage - Pariyutthana. we are still in the realm of thoughts. feelings. The English saying 'Silence is Golden' is not always right. We may say that mere silence is sometimes far more dangerous than a big noise.

Then in the final stage we become fierce, dreadful. uncontroll able both in words as well as in actions. (Vitikkama). That is the top part of our defilements. So Anusava. Pariyutthana and Vitikkama - these are the three stages of defilements.

Buddhism teaches a method of how to control, how to overcome these evil tendencies lying latent in us. To exercise this control we need three stages of training towards development - Sila, Samadhi, and Panna - Morality. Concentration, Insight.

First comes Sila. Morality, the observance of precepts. The observance of precepts would enable one to overcome only the last stage - the outward, visible stage of defilements and not the other two stages. It is like cutting a tree by the branches at the top. Morality can control only your words and actions, not your mind. It can only make us good ladies and gentlemen in the worldly' wise sense and not make us righteous people - don't you say' some times, when you are in the process of observing the Eight Precepts, 'When I am out of this observance, you will know what I am'? It is necessary for us to have three stages and the first is Morality to dispel the outward or visible stage of defilements that is in us.

But as there remain two stages undispelled by morality, the defilements that we have got rid of will grow up again, and that very soon. Therefore, we need the second stage of training - Samadhi (Concentration or meditation) in order to enable us to dispel the second stage of defilements left undispelled by the practice of Samadhi - Morality. Concentration is mind-control and mental culture. It is like cutting a tree by the trunk, but as there remains the first or root stage undispelled the defilements will rise up again. But Concentration can clear away' the defilements for a considerable time so that they will not rise again so soon. Clearing away of defilements by Morality - Sila is called Tadanga Pahana in Pali (temporary suppression of defilements). Just like the temporary cutting away of the topmost branches of a tree. Putting away of defilements by means of Samadhi (concentration) is called Vikkhambhana Pahana. Concentration represents a more power ful and a higher mental culture, so it is far more effective than Sila.

Coming to the third stage of development. Panna (Wisdom):

By means of developing one's insight, Wisdom, one is able to dispel the first stage - the Anusaya stage. It is like cutting a tree by the root so that it will never grow again. If defilements are cut by means of Wisdom, such defilements will never rise again. This is called Samuccheda Panna.

As these three stages are interdependent and interrelated. Sila, Samadhi and Panna should be practised at the same time and not separately. Only to put them in order in the Dhamma we put down three stages separately, but in practice we must practise them simultaneously. While trying to practise Concentration it is easier for you to live rightly' and understand things rightly. In the same way, practice of right understanding or insight enables one to live rightly and concentrate rightly. This applies not only during periods of meditation but in one's daily life as well.

We should be rational beings. We should react to surroundings. circumstances and events of daily life reasonably and not instinc tively or emotionally.

What we need in this world is to be rational - to try to exercise our reasoning powers - but it is rather bad for the world that in most cases human beings judge according to their emotions or instincts.

The standard of mental development is very low because the method of public education is wrong, the method of upbringing of the children is also wrong. I can prove how wrong it is. Even the nursery rhymes taught to the infants portray stories full of cruelty and killings without an atom of love in them. Again, a group of moralists in the West went round the educational institutions in order to test the psychology of the children studying there. A child was asked to make a sentence comprising the words 'Mother', 'Baby' and 'Cat'. The child answered, 'The cat scratches the baby and the baby cries. Mummy gets angry and beats the cat'. The same question was asked in every school in the whole province and there was only one child who gave the following answer and was given a prize as it contained some love and affection that should exist between the different beings on earth. 'The cat plays with the baby. Mummy is so pleased with the cat that she gives some milk to the cat to drink'.

I myself witnessed a woman who bought a cane from a seller and gave it to her little boy to play with. The boy instead beat her with it. Many parents do not train their children to be good, tame and docile, but encourage them to be cruel, quarrelsome and aggressive by giving them toy revolvers, toy swords and air rifles. So the method of training children in the present, scientific world is very wrong. In cinemas most of the pictures shown are all wrong - they encourage shooting and the telling of lies.

What then is the Buddha's method? First. morality. These rules of morality are firstly explained in the Panca-sila: Not to kill, not to steal, not to have sexual misconduct, not to tell lies and not to take any intoxicating liquors and drugs. In Burma most people think that all is well if you observe these five precepts only negatively. To merely abstain from killing is not good enough; so we should emphasize the positive aspect of the principle of non-killing - to have compassion on all beings including animals.

In the Discourse on Metta we said Adosa is the negative aspect of it. but having Adosa is not all. In the practice of Metta you have pity, compassion and loving-kindness towards all beings in the whole universe. So also in the case of practising the Five Precepts. Non-killing is understood by many as not taking life, but this term 'not to kill' is broad enough to include all kind and loving acts.

The second precept - taking what is not given to you freely. The standard of mental development in the present world - even of adults- seems to be much lower than an intelligent child of twelve. It seems that modern man, because of his physical body, cannot be styled as an animal, but by actions many people nowadays behave worse than animals. The positive aspect of this second precept of Panca-sila is not only to refrain from stealing but to offer material help. Then we do not need to have a big police force or courts to try criminal cases or a Bureau of Special Investigation.

Then comes 'sexual misconduct'.

Then the next precept 'Musavada - to abstain from telling lies is very difficult to observe. Not to tell lies is the negative aspect. The positive aspect is not only to tell the truth but to use such words as are soothing, kindly and comforting to the people who hear them. As for telling lies, if the majority of our race do not tell lies, even these law courts might not be necessary.

As for the last of the five precepts - not to take intoxicating liquors and drugs - this has almost become an everyday habit taken at every meal in civilized society. Really, no drinking of any liquor is necessary to keep one healthy mentally, morally and spiritually. Once in England my audience argued that since I have not taken any liquor in my life, since I am complete teetotaller, I cannot know the benefits derived from drinking. Drinking makes you lose control of your mind at least temporarily, and those who drink to excess can be said to become quite mad. Taking liquor is against the law of nature and also the precept laid down by the Buddha. Drink causes distraction, dullness of mind. When done to excess you can become a stark lunatic. According to Buddhism, drink is the cause of all misery, all troubles. By taking drinks you become emotional and it is easy for any drunkard to tell lies or to commit murder, etc.

To conclude, I would like to ask the audience and the Sayadaws as well as the Upasakas and Upasikas to emphasize the positive aspects of these five precepts, the Panca-sila. I would like to mention also that the Buddha's way of life is a system of cultivating ourselves - our higher consciousness. It is a way of a good, righteous and happy life. The Buddha says that when a good act is performed several times there is a definite tendency to repeat this act. So in time it becomes a habit. Men are creatures of habit. By habit they become slaves of drink, slaves of gambling, slaves of lust and scores of other vices. Also I would like to quote a Japanese proverb, 'Man takes drink first, then the drink takes a drink and finally drink takes the man'.

Any physical action, if repeated for sometime becomes a habit. In the same way, any thought which is allowed to rise up again and again gives rise to a definite tendency to reproduce that type of thought and therefore becomes a habit. The Buddha's method is to use the reproductive power of the mind as well as the body for the development of ourselves. By cultivating good habits of mind and body we develop ourselves fully. It is called Parami in Pali. meaning fulfilment. In other words, to make counter habits whenever you have a tendency to be angry, and then you can develop mental states of loving-kindness and compassion so that these mental states will be repeated again and again. And in the end they will become habits so much so that you will never entertain thoughts of hatred, anger, jealousy and the like. These evil tendencies will disappear before the tendencies of loving- kindness, even as the darkness of the night fades away before the dawn of the rising sun. This is the method given by the Buddha. It is a practical system of changing and developing our inner selves.

Part Two

It is a continuation of our discussion on the three stages of mental development. They are: Sila (conduct), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom). We dealt with the first stage at the last lecture. This time I am going to deal briefly with concentration (Samadhi) which is meditation and also wisdom. These are rather serious, because when we come to practise concentration we usually find that it is a dull process. Meditation is not to be talked about, but to do, to practise. You are not willing to do things normally. To talk about things is very easy. To organize things is very easy. Some people think it needs a genius to organize; but to do is far more difficult even than to organize.

This afternoon I am going to read from the book that I have written on the subject of concentration and how to go about meditation.


The spiritual man, having been equipped with morality and mastery of the senses, is inclined to develop higher and more lasting happiness (i.e. than worldly happiness) by concentration (samadhi) control and culture of the mind, the second stage on the path to Nibbana.

Concentration is mental culture without which we cannot attain Wisdom. By concentration we can acquire happiness - a happiness which is much higher than ordinary worldly happiness. Worldly happiness is dependent. It needs the support and co-operation of a partner. Higher mental happiness does not require any external help or any partner. This happiness can be attained through Jhanas. Jhana (Skr. dhyana) is derived from the root Jhe, to think closely of an object or to burn adverse things, nivarana, hindrances to spiritual progress. Jhana has been translated as trance, absorption or ecstacy, but it is a special ultramundane experience.

In Burma we do not talk about jhana. We talk very much about Vipassana. Samatha (meditation: calm) or jhana, is not thought much of in Burma because the Burmans think that it is not the highest but only the second stage to Nibbana. That is one reason. Another reason is that those who are interested in Vipassana meditation think that it is a short cut to Nibbana. In some cases, it is thought that it is a matter of days or a few weeks' practice for one to attain Nibbana. They like to go to Nibbana straightaway without waiting for a long time. They' have three day courses, seven day courses for it. To attain jhana you have to prove it by performing a miracle - walk on water, sit on water, raise the dead. But to attain Nibbana in the stage of Sotapanna needs no proof. That is still another reason why people are interested in Vipassana.

he Buddha himself was highly qualified in the jhanas. I would like to say something about these jhanas. Some people suggest that if we are going to spread Buddhism effectively throughout the world, we must do something different from what we have done now. By Jhana you are able to fly up in the sky. You can appear and disappear in the air. So, some people say that Buddhism can be spread far quicker than otherwise if we can prove Buddhism through the Jhanas. Any way, these Jhanas are a part of the Buddha's teaching. Jhana means to think, to concentrate on the object to overcome Hindrances. Jhana also means to burn the adverse things, nivarana, Hindrances to spiritual progress. From this same derivative we have 'Jhar-pa-na' in the case of death, decay (funeral). Jhana has been translated as trance, absorption or ecstacy, but it is a kind of spiritual experience, ultra-mundane experience.

The spiritual man selects one of the forty objects enumerated in the Visuddhi-magga. The object which he selects should appeal most to his temperament. such as emotion, anger and so on. Those forty objects are divided into six groups, according to the types of temperament of the people. So if you are going to practise concentration, meditation, for the attainment of Jhana you will have to choose one of the objects suitable for your temperament.

The method is fully explained in the Visuddhi-magga. This object is called Parikammanimitta, preliminary object. He concentrates on this object for some time, may be some days. weeks, months, some years, until he is able to visualize the object without any difficulty. When he is able to visualize the object without looking at it. he is to continue concentration on this visualized object, Uggahanimita, until he develops it into a conceptualized object, Patibhaganimitta. At this stage the experienced spiritual man is said to be in possession of proximate concentration, Upacara-samadhi, and to have overcome temporarily the five Hindrances (nivarana), namely, sensual desire, hatred, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubts.

To illustrate what we have said. If you are going to take our Pathavi-kasina (device of earth) as your object, you get hold of a circle made of clay which is called Kasina. In English it is translated as a hypnotic circle which is not very correct. So you get a circle of clay about one span and four fingers. You can make it as smooth as possible and paint it with the colour of the dawn. This circle is placed before you about two and a half cubits away. Some people do this practice even in the West at present. In India it was done long ago and therefore it is very common. The people in the West try to practise it just to see if it works. By this practice some have acquired a very strong power of concentration. So you prepare that circle, place it in front of you at a convenient distance so that you can look at it at your ease. While looking at it you must keep your head, neck, and back erect. The purpose is to keep your mind with the circle. Ordinarily, without concentration you do not know where your mind is. Any way you try to concentrate on it, on this physical object, Parikammanimitta. As explained in the book, it may take day after day, month after month, year after year, until you are able to visualize it without the physical object.

The Buddha advised us not to take anything too seriously. You must not strain your mental faculty. You must consider yourself as if you are at play, enjoying it with a cheerful mind just as some young people enjoy witnessing a cinema show. At the same time the Buddha advised us not to keep our minds in a very light spirit. You do it for the sake of helping other people, to add your happiness to the happiness of others. Taken in this spirit, even the sweeping of the floor can become interesting. So also in meditation you must think of it as if you are at play so that it becomes interesting, because it is a good thing to do, a necessary thing to do. Unless we clear our minds like this we can never practise the first stages of the Dhamma, let alone attain Nibbana, the highest goal in Buddhism.

So you concentrate on this physical object until you can visualize it without the object. This visualization in Pa!i is called Uggahani mitta. It is the exact replica of the object seen. When you come to this stage you do not require the physical object. Then continue your concentration on the visualized object. The difference between the first object and the second object is the first being physical and the other mental. But it is exactly the, same object. You carry on concentrating until this object becomes bright, shining like a star. The difference between the second and the third stages is that in the second you see the object with certain defects, but in the third stage there is no defect whatsoever. It is like a shining star. It is called Patibhaganimitta, conceptualized object. At this stage the experienced spiritual man is said to be in possession of promixate concentration, Upacara-samadhi and to have overcome temporarily the five Hindrances (nivarana); namely, sensual desires, hatred, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubts.

His concentration gradually becomes so enhanced that he is about to attain jhana. At this stage he is said to be in possession of Appana Samadhi. He eventually attains the five stages of jhana step by step, and it is when he reaches the fifth stage of jhana that he can easily develop the five supernormal powers (Abhinna - Celestial Eye (Dibbacakkhu), Celestial Ear (Dibbasota), reminiscence of past births (Pubbenivasanussati-Nana), reading thoughts of others (Paracitta-vijanana) and various physic powers (iddhi vidha). By these powers you can see things which the naked eye is not capable of seeing - no matter how far the objects are, there is no barrier which can prevent you from seeing them. You can see through mountains, you can see long, long distances without any obstructions in between. Even today there are Yogis in India who possess these supernormal powers, for this Jhana practice is not necessarily confined to Buddhism, Hindus also practise it. In Buddhism the practice of Jhana is a great help toward the attainment of Nibbana. Those who have reached such high a level of experience as jhanas have their minds highly refined and it is easier for them to attain the lokuttara stages of development, yet they are not entirely free from all evil tendencies - the reason is that concentration, as has been stated above, can overcome only the second stage of defilements temporarily. As there remains the first stage untouched, undispelled, the passions which have been inhibited by concentration would arise again.

The five supernormal powers (Abhinna) are sometimes called occult, or hidden, or secret power in English. In Buddhism they cannot be called occult powers because these powers are for every one to possess, if they practise hard enough.

Morality makes a man gentle in his words and deeds, concentration controls the mind, makes him calm, serene and steady. Wisdom or Insight (Panna), the third and final stage, enables him to overcome all the defilements completely. As a tree which is destroyed by the root will never grow, even so the defilements which are annihilated by Wisdom (Panna) will never rise again.

The spiritual man who has reached the third stage of the path to Nibbana tries to understand the real nature of his self and that of the things of the world in general. With his highly purified mind he begins to realize that there is no ego-principle or persistent identity of a self' in either internal or external phenomena. He perceives that both mind and matter which constitute his personality are in a state of constant flux, and that all conditioned things are impermanent (Anicca), subject to suffering (Dukkha), and void of self-existence (Anatta). To him then comes the knowledge that every form of worldly pleasure is only a prelude to pain, and that everything that is in a state of flux cannot be the source of real, permanent happiness.

The aspirant then concentrates on the three characteristics of existence, namely, transiency (Anicca), suffering (Dukkha). and being void of ego or self-existence (Anatta). Having neither attachment nor aversion for any worldly things, he intensely keeps on developing insight into both internal and external phenomena until he eliminates three fetters, namely. Self-illusion (Sakkaya ditthi), Doubts (Vicikiccha) and Clinging to vain rites and rituals (Silabbata paramasa). It is only when he destroys completely these three fetters that he realizes Nibbana, his ultimate goal for the first time in his existence. At this stage he is called a Sotapanna. one who has entered the stream, the Path that leads to Nibbana. The Buddha has described this stage as follows:

  • More than any earthly power,
  • More than all the joys of heaven:
  • More than rule over all the world.
  • Is the entrance to the Stream.(Dhammapada, Verse 178)

Symbolically one who has reached the first Aryan stage is said to have entered the stream, because just as the water of a river never comes backwards towards its source, but flows steadily and inevitably towards the ocean, so, rapidly and with certainty, the aspirant will attain his final enlightenment. As, however, he has not eradicated the remaining seven fetters, he may be reborn seven times at the most.

When the aspirant develops deeper insight and weakens two more fetters, namely, Sensual Craving (Kamaraga) and Ill-will (Patigha), he becomes a Sakadagami, Once-Returner. He is so called because he is reborn in the world of desires (Kamaloka) only once if he does not obtain final release in this present life,

The third stage is that of Anagami, Non-returner, who completely discards the above two fetters. He will not be reborn in this world or any of the realms of sense-pleasure, but he, if he does not attain his final enlightenment in this life, will be at death reborn in one of the higher, suitable planes, and from thence pass into Nibbana.

The fourth stage is that of Arahat, perfected saint, who completely annihilates the remaining five fetters, namely, Craving for existence in the world of form (Rupa-raga), Craving for existence in the immaterial world (Arupa-raga), Pride and Conceit (Mana), Restlessness (Uddhacca) and Ignorance (Avijja). He then realizes that rebirth is exhausted, the holy life is fulfilled and what was to be done has been done. This is the highest, holiest peace. The Arahat stands on heights more than celestial realizing the unutterable bliss of Nibbana.


In the fourth week after attaining enlightenment the Buddha began to contemplate and review the Dhamma he had realized near the Bodhi tree. When he began to review the Abhidhamma Pitaka it was not until he delved into the depths of the most subtle and abstruse Dhamma in the Maha Patthana which deals with the twenty-four causal relationships which invariably occur in any phenomenon, event or thing, that he experienced real rapture. The psychological pleasure and feelings of happiness were so great that due to the resulting pureness and brilliant condition of the blood flowing through his healthy and pure heart, accompanied by compassion and wisdom, six coloured rays emanated from the body of the Buddha.

How did this almost incredible phenomenon take place? When the mind is pure and the heart warm and soft with love and compassion, and consciousness is accompanied by wisdom, the material qualities of the blood are strong. sparkling and brilliant. and the colour of the skin is changed. Man is a combination of mind and matter, which are interdependent and interrelated, therefore when the mental qualities are fine and brilliant the material qualities are also fine and bright.

The outward form so fascinates modern man that he puts all his faith in it and imagines that it can provide the answer to all questions. Buddhism teaches us to realize the need for a deeper knowledge of our inner mental forces, that there is an inner factor which can cause disease or which can be employed in the cure of ill-health. Happiness is a mental state; the ultimate source of all happiness or misery is the individual mind. Individual happiness is essential for the happiness of society, and the happiness of society means the happiness of the nation; happiness of nations, in turn, leads to the happiness of the world.

According to the scriptures the Buddha also possessed unlimited miraculous powers, super-normal powers. but he did not use them unnecessarily and he even asked his disciples who attained such powers not to use them. You may ask if the Buddha performed any miracle. Yes, he did, the great miracle called the Twin Miracle. The reason for this was to dispel the wrong views of heretics and to prove that he possessed the attributes of a Buddha.

What is the Twin Miracle? It is the miracle of water and fire. He caused a stream of water to issue from the upper part of his body, and flames of fire from the lower part; then suddenly the reverse process took place. Then he caused fire to issue from his right eye and a stream of water from his left eye. and so on from his nostrils, ears, to right and left, in front and behind. The same wonder, too, produced streams of fire succeeded by streams of water which did not mingle. From each of his hairs the same wonderful display feasted the eyes of the assembled people; the six glories, as it were, gushed from every part of his body' and made it appear resplendent beyond description. At intervals the Buddha preached to the crowd, who rejoiced and sang praises to him; according to their dispositions he expounded the various points of the Law. Those who heard him and saw the wonderful works he performed acquired great merit and became his followers, both bhikkhus and laymen showed greater zeal and faith to follow the Eightfold Path and attain Nibbana.

The Buddha then, out of compassion for the devas and brahmas, went to the Tavatimsa Devaloka where he preached the Abhidhamma for a full three months to his deceased mother, who was reborn as Santusita Deva. and to the other devas and brahmas there assembled, hoping to make them realize the four ultimate things for which a knowledge of Abhidhamma is absolutely necessary. because it deals with the highest and ultimate sense of things springing into being as facts as distinct from mere names.


What is happiness? Happiness is a mental state which can be attained through the culture of the mind, and is therefore different in origin to physica sources such as wealth, name, fame, socia position and popularity which are merely temporary sources of happiness. Whatever we do, we do essentially for happiness, though you may perhaps say this is for money, that is for power, but actually whatever we do is really for happiness. Even in religion what we do is done for happiness. Whatever we do, then, we do essentially for happiness, but do we attain it? No. Why? Because we look for happiness in the wrong places.

People think they can find happiness in money, so they try their best to be wealthy, but when they are wealthy are they happy? If wealth is a source of happiness, then wealthy people would be happier than poor people, but we find in many cases that the ordinary people who are not very well-to-do are happier than the rich. We have heard even of some millionaires who have tried to commit suicide. They would never think of committing suicide if wealth were the main source of happiness. so it is evident that wea]th is not really a source of happiness. Then power, name or fame may be a temporary source of happiness, but when people lose their name or fame or power they are in a state of anxiety. worry. It shows that name, fame or power is not the main source of happiness either, because it can also be a source of worry and is subject to impermanence. Some people think that a partner, a good congenial partner, may be a source of happiness, and it may be so to some extent, but not to the fullest extent. Some people think that children might be a source of happiness, but when they are separated for some reason or other, as sooner or later they will be, they feel unhappy. Some people think horse racing and dog racing might be a source of happiness, so they bet, but even when they are winners they are happy only for a short while. Then there are those who hope to find happiness in drinks, and for a short while they' are happy, but eventually they become as unhappy as ever. The outside sources are not the real sources of happiness, the main thing is the mind: but only the mind which is controlled and cultured is the real source of happiness.

Now, how to obtain happiness. How do we define happiness?

Happiness is a state, a mental state, which is agreeable to one's nature or which appeals to one's nature, satisfies One's nature, and it can be applied to such levels as: material, or materialistic; emotional; intellectua]; spiritual.

To make it clear, take a delicious lunch or dinner. Should the occasion arise for you to have a delightful lunch or dinner, if you were a person proud of your physical attainments you would have happiness of a material, physical nature; you would enjoy your food for physical culture, for physical health. and have happiness of a material nature from the food. If you should happen to eat something which you had been longing for, you would have happiness of an emotional nature, you would say, 'I like it, because it is very good and very nice'; you would appreciate the lunch or dinner because it was nice, you would attain happiness from it, through it, and so your happiness would be of an emotional nature, you would not care whether it was for strength or health but merely for taste. If you were intellectual, concerned with reasoning, and happened to be on a diet, you might have happiness of an intellectual nature and say. 'This food is very good because it is suitable for my health'; you would judge the food from an intellectual aspect. If you were of a spiritual nature you would still find happiness through the dinner or lunch, but you would say, 'This food is good because it is pure, it is good for moral principles; good, since its effect is helpful to me for meditation'. So your happiness in this case would be different, your judgment, also, different from others. The selfsame food or lunch will be appreciated. and happiness attained, according to the nature of the people. The highest happiness one can attain is a state, a mental state, which is agreeable and satisfactory to all levels, but such a state is not always possible to be achieved. If we cannot have the highest happiness which is satisfactory to all levels, then the next one is harmony with the higher levels, which gives greater happiness than harmony with the lower levels.

We judge, react and take things according to our nature, therefore it is necessary for each one of us to know what type of person we are. We act and react to outside stimuli according to our nature; that is. we see everything through coloured glasses of our own, therefore if a person is supposed to be broad-minded and unprejudiced he can be so only to the extent of his particular nature. Unless we are spiritually advanced none of us can be broad-minded and unprejudiced to any great degree because we see and judge things with our own coloured glasses which we have made for ourselves, not anybody else's which he has made for himself. How, then, can we know which type of person we are? It is only by a personal study of our own reaction to outside stimuli. outside objects, by watching and taking notice of our reaction that we can know or put ourselves under one of the categories.

Now, first, the material or physical level. A person at this level, being materialistic, will be interested in material gain; his main consideration and concentration is concerned with material acquisition, and material, physical comfort is of importance to him. These materialistic persons are very practica] and would like everything, even religion or philosophy, to be materially 'practical'. and nothing more. Anything requiring thought and concentration wil] not attract them, they will not be interested in any religion or philosophy, their interest will be in physical comfort and ideas which give them material gains. So there is no wonder why many people are not interested in any religion, because religion, as you know, does not directly give anybody material or physical wealth. How many do you think there are in the world who have lost interest in religion? To most people material gain is so very important. When we say we are busy. we are busy about gain. money; what for? For physical p]easure, happiness, comfort, dress, food, home, any physica] convenience; so we can realize that most of us are rather materialistic.

Next is the emotional level. People who are on this level are very sensitive, and are mainly concerned with likes and dislikes, pleasant and unpleasant feelings, sensations. They judge things according to their emotions, no matter whether their judgment is right or wrong. These emotional people are interested in devotional religions which suit their emotions, they find any religion which has no ceremony very dull.

The third level is intellectual. Those who are of this level are mainly concerned with reasoning, studying things intellectually. They find happiness in literature and science, etc.. gaining happiness through intellectual pursuits, but being mentally active they are not so active physically. They know many things through their readings or learnings, but in practice they are not active.

The fourth is the spiritual or moral level. Those who are on this level are concerned with service and sympathetic understanding; they emphasize the importance of justice or fair dealing: they' are realistic. So you see, each person acts or reacts to things, criticizes, feels and judges according to his own particular nature, according to his own particular level. Knowing how and why we differ in thinking. feeling, judging and on our outlook in life, we are able to make ample allowances for other types to act according to their nature, thereby cultivating a sense of tolerance, patience towards others.

When we are less advanced spiritually it is the material and emotional pleasure and happiness that appeals to us most. Unfortunately some of us never try to get out of this rut: even in this lower stage some are very proud of it, they do not wish to get out of it. thinking they' attain happiness when they feel that they have pleasure of the world. They will not like Nibbana which sounds dull to them. Why? Because they are less advanced in spiritual evolution. When they progress in spirituality, studies in literature, science and philosophy can appeal to them. Some people cannot appreciate even reading and learning, they think it is a waste of time and that reading will not do any good. Most Western people are very practical. very busy and very active physically. On one occasion a clergyman of the Church of England asked me something about Nibbana. 'I could not tell you about Nibbana in a few words and in so short a time', I replied. He said he was always busy, so I asked him, 'If you are busy, how much time could you give me?' He said. 'I have no time, just tell me in two or three words'. I said, Nibbana is a state which is free from suffering, old age, death, sickness, and the state of the highest happiness which is free from all troubles, worries or hardships'. He said. 'Do you mean to say that if you reach Nibbana you have nothing to do?' I said, 'Yes'. 'Then I would not like it. because I should always like to do something', he replied. Another man said that he could not appreciate poetry or science, both of which seem to give people some peculiar pleasure. He said that he had been to the National Gallery where the most beautiful pictures are shown. but he thought that viewers there were fools, for if they wanted to see the actual beauty, why should they see those imitations. Poetry, he thought. was to spoil the language, for there was no proper order of words. To him literature was nothing. So you see. there are many stages of development. When we grow older we realize that moral or spiritual happiness is the genuine highest happiness because it is real and lasting. According to his practical nature a man acts and reacts, and thereby he makes himself either happy or miserable.

This growth, this progress from lower level to higher level can be attained, it is not really very difficult. Nibbana itself can be attained in this life, but if it is as difficult as most of us think, why do we have six qualities of Dhamma? The Buddha himself repeated these six qualities of Dhamma many times, one of which is sanditthika. i.e., immediate effect. If that is true, why' should we not attain happiness of a true nature? Nibbana can be attained at any time, akalika, there is no tomorrow, no next month, you can attain it according to your own effort and understanding. Some people have asked me whether there is a purpose of life, to which I say, 'Yes, there is'. The purpose of life is growth, progress from ignorance to enlightenment and from unhappiness to happiness. The Buddha himself said many times that the purpose was for his enlightenment. One of the Greek philosophers said that he came to this world only for one purpose, that was to perfect himself. So this growth, this progress, is possible here and now. As we can develop our own muscles by' constant exercise, so our mind can be developed; we can surely come towards perfection spiritually through the attainment of happiness and realization of Nibbana, intellectually through the attainment of knowledge. emotionally through the control and good use of our emotions, and physically through exercise and also through control of the body, thereby attaining perfect health.

At every level there is action which has a past that leads up to it as well as a future proceeding from it. An action is the manifestation of the mind, and a desire for anything stimulates the mind. At every level there is action and reaction, i.e., cause and effect, so it is our reactions to outside stimuli that we have to control. This action and reaction works at all levels, at the physical level of movement, emotional level of feelings, intellectual level of thinking and the spiritual level of realization. At each level there is a good side and a bad side, good aspect and bad aspect. A person, for example, demonstrating the bad side of his materialistic nature can do harm physically which will produce pain, he uses his material strength. material weapons. On the good side at a material level he can do good actions physically. So everybody should do physical action for service, for thereby he can grow from this level to the higher level.

Whatever you do mentally and emotionally is not perfect until you do it physically. There is a story. Once upon a time there was a washing stone. I should say that a washing stone is not usually understood by Westerners, an English lady in the audience once asked me, 'What is a washing stone?', she had never heard of such a thing. I explained that a washing stone is a flat stone used in the East for washing dirty clothes on, the clothes being soaped and beaten on the stone. Well, at one time, outside a village, there was just such a stone being used by local villagers when one day a geologist came and saw that the stone contained many pieces of precious stones. He thought that the villagers were very ignorant, using such a valuable stone for washing only, so he persuaded all the people including the head of the village to exchange the stone for a new and better one. They all agreed, and he gave them a broader and more beautiful stone and took the old one away. All the villagers were delighted and thankful, and he was more thankful to them for the stone out of which he could get the valuable precious stones.

The Buddha advised us all to be like the geologist and not the ignorant villagers. We should use our bodies not only for pleasure but for service, so that whether we have sought it or not we shall have a perfect figure, perfect health. The Bodhisatta acted everywhere he went for service mentally and physically, even in his last life as the Buddha. You remember the story of a sick monk who fell in his own filth? There was nobody to help him. The Buddha without hesitation took the dirty, filthy clothes of the monk and washed them himself, there being nothing in the world below his dignity.

Since everything in the world is subject to impermanence there can be no true and lasting happiness in the material things of this world. This would be a most pessimistic outlook were it not for the fact that there is a way out, a real happiness beyond the material, which changes it to a realistic and optimistic outlook.

Culture is the answer; culture not necessarily of the body but of the mind, and further, of the higher moral nature, to achieve Nibbana.


The foundations of Buddhism are the four great truths, the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering and the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

What is the Noble Truth of Suffering? Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering, association with the disliked is suffering, separation from the liked is suffering, not to get what one wishes is suffering.

What is the Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering? It is craving, the craving which seeks delight, now here, now there; the craving for sensual pleasures (kamatanha) and for existence (bhavatanha).

What is the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the cessation of desire, the total destruction of this very craving, the deliverance from it.

What is the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering? It is the Noble Eightfold Path which consists of right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Whether Buddhas arise or not these four truths exist in the universe, Buddhas only reveal these truths which lie hidden in the dark abyss of lime. Scientifically interpreted the Dhamma may simply be called the law of cause and effect, and this law embraces the entire body of the teachings of the Buddhas. Craving is the cause of sorrow; sorrow is the effect of craving. Adherence to the middle path is the cause of Nibbana; Nibbana is the effect of adherence to the middle path.

There is no denying the fact that there is suffering in this world. What we call happiness or pleasure in the world, is merely gratification of some desire, but no sooner is the desired thing gained than it begins to be scorned. Worldly bliss is only a prelude to pain: sorrow is, therefore, inseparable from existence and cannot be evaded, and suffering will exist as long as there is craving. Suffering can only be annihilated by treading the Noble Eightfold Path and attaining the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

These four truths can be verified by experience, hence the Buddha Dhamma is founded on the bedrock of facts which can be tested and verified. Buddhism is, therefore, rational and opposed to speculative systems; it appeals more to the intellect than to the emotions, and is concerned more with the character of the devotees than with their number.

On one occasion Upali, a follower of Nigantha, approached the Buddha and was so pleased with his teaching of the Dhamma that he immediately expressed his desire to become a follower of the Buddha: but the Buddha cautioned him, saying, 'O householder, make a thorough investigation first, it is advisable for a distinguished man like you to make a thorough investigation'. Upali was overjoyed at this unexpected remark of the Buddha. and said. 'O Lord, if I had been a follower of another religion they would take me from street to street in a procession, proclaiming that such and such a millionaire had renounced his former religion and embraced their's; but, O Lord, you advise me to investigate further, so I am much more pleased with this remark of your's. For the second time he repeated the formula, 'I seek refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha'.

Buddhism is saturated with the spirit of free enquiry and complete tolerance. The Buddha extended this tolerance to men, women and all living beings. and it was the Buddha who first abolished slavery and strongly protested against the caste system which was firmly rooted in India. According to the word of the Buddha it is not by mere birth that one becomes either an outcast or a Brahmin, but by one's actions. Neither one's caste nor one's colour prevents one from becoming a Buddhist, or from entering the Order; fishermen, scavengers, courtesans, together with warriors and Brahmins, were freely admitted to the Order and enjoyed its privileges equally. Upali, the barber, for instance, was appointed chief in matters concerning the Vinaya discipline: andSunita, the scavenger, was admitted by the Buddha himself to the Order and thus enabled to attain saintship. Angulimala, the robber and criminal, was converted to a compassionate saint: the fierce Alavaka sought refuge in the Buddha and became a sotapanna: the courtesan, Ambapali, entered the Order and attained arahatship. Such instances can easily be multiplied from the Tipitaka to show that Buddhism is wide open to all, irrespective of caste, colour or rank.

It was also the Buddha who put a stop to the sacrifice of poor beasts, and exhorted his followers to extend their loving-kindness to all living beings, even the tiniest creature. A genuine Buddhist will exercise this loving-kindness towards every living being and identify himself with all, making no distinction whatsoever with regard to caste, colour or sex.


According to the Abhidhamma philosophy there are two kinds of realities, relative and ultimate. Relative reality is conventional truth in which things are dealt with in an ordinary sense, whilst ultimate reality is abstract truth which exists as the irreducible, immutable, fundamental qualities of phenomena. Of the two, relative reality is expressed in ordinary conventional terms such as 'cups exist', 'plates exist', and so on. This expression is true, but only in the ordinary conventional sense: in an ultimate sense no cups or plates actually exist, only the essential elements which comprise their manifestation. These essential elements which exist in an ultimate sense are fourfold:

1. The element of extension, which is the fundamental principle of matter. It is this element which enables objects to occupy space, and the qualities of hardness and softness of all material objects are due to this element. It can be found in earth, water, fire and air, but it preponde rates in earth and is therefore called the element of earth, or, in modern terms, the element of extension.

2. The element of cohesion. This element preponderates in water, although it is also present in the three other fundamental principles of earth, fire and air. It coheres the scattered atoms of matter and forms into mass, bulk or lump.

3. The element of heat. This element matures all objects of matter, and although it preponderates in fire and is therefore called the element of heat (fire), it includes cold since heat and cold are two phases of this element.

4. The element of motion, which is the power of supporting or resisting. All movement and vibrations are due to this element.

These four elements are inseparable and interrelated, and all forms of matter are primarily composed of them. Every material object is a combination of these elements in one proportion or another, but as soon as the same matter is changed into different forms, the composite things are held to be mere conceptions presented to the mind by the particular appearance, shape or form. Take a piece of clay for example. It may be called a cup, plate, pot, jar and so on, according to the several shapes it assumes in succession, but these objects can be analyzed and reduced to fundamental elements which alone exist in an ultimate sense. The term cup, plate, and so on, are mere conceptions which have no separate essential substance other than the elements. Although these four elements exist in an ultimate sense they are subject to the law of change, but their distinctive characteristics are identical in whatever shape they are found, whether as a cup, plate, pot, jar and so on.

Relative reality includes such ideas as land, mountain and the like, being derived from some mode of physical changes in nature. House, train, boat, etc.. derive from various presentations of materials. Man, woman, etc., derive from the fivefold set of aggregates. Locality (i.e., the location of east, west. etc.. in relation to the sun), time, etc., derive from the revolutions of the moon and so forth.

Although all such distinctions as have just been mentioned do not exist in an ultimate sense, they do exist in the sense of relative reality. Buddhism is therefore not nominalism, because it does not say that things such as land, mountain. etc.. are mere names and nothing else: neither is it conceptualism, because it does not say that they exist only in the mind and nowhere else. It is realism, though, because it teaches that the four basic essentials do actually exist as fundamental material qualities.

The categories of ultimate reality are four: consciousness. mental properties (mental concomitants), matter and Nibbana. Absolutely all things, mundane and supramundane, are included under these headings. Of the four, Nibbana. the supramundane, is the only absolute reality, and is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. The other three are called realities in as much as they exist within and around us as irreducible, immutable and abstract things.

So-called man is composed of mind and matter. The latter is of twenty-eight types of which the first four, as mentioned earlier, are the fundamental elements upon which the remaining twenty-four are depedent for their arising. Six of the twenty four are:

1) The eye-basis, which is the sensorium within the eyeball where consciousness of sight is generated.

2) The ear-basis, which is the sensorium within the organ of the ear where consciousness of sound is generated.

3) The nose-basis, which is the sensorium within the nose organ where consciousness of smell is generated.

4) The tongue-basis, which is the sensorium on the sufface of the tongue where consciousness of taste is generated.

5) The body-basis, which is the sensorium pervading the whole body from head to foot, where consciousness of touch is generated.

6) The heart-basis, which is a kind of very fine, subtle matter within the organ of the heart where mind consciousness is mainly generated.

Of these six bases the first five are also called sense-doors. through which man receives information about the outside world. The sixth one is called the mind-door, through which man receives information about the inner world, the world of the mind, the mental world.

Through the eye-door man receives information about colours, appearances. forms and shapes that come within reach: through the ear-door he receives various kinds of sound: through the nose-door, different kinds of odours: through the tongue-door all the different kinds of taste, such as sweet, sour, and so on; through the body-door he receives various feelings, the sensing of physical contacts of various kinds. So man receives information about the outer world through the five sense-doors, and he also receives through the mind-door information about the inner world, the mental world, the vast world of thoughts and ideas. In this inner world the attention is constantly being called from many directions at once.

Although there are six doors through which information about the inner and outer world is received, the receiver is the same, the mind of man. This invisible but powefful mind of man, which can be diverted either to heaven or hell according to his desires, is compared with a spider running about in a web of ideas. This spider finds himself surrounded with various alluring baits, so it is this spider that we have to control in order that it may always run in the direction which we have chosen, and thus improve the ability to see things as they truly' are and reach the final state of perfection.


According to Buddhism the aggregates of feeling, perception, mental propenies (concomitants) and consciousness, these four form the mind, and matter forms the body; man is, therefore, a combination of mind and matter.

The mind of man is compared with the current of a river, the Buddhist idea of conscious existence. To most people who might stand on the bank of a river, they will think that the river is all the same from beginning to end: due to the flow, though, not a particle of water which may be seen at any given point remains the same as it was a moment ago. And in just the same way as the beginning and end of a river receive the special names of source and mouth, even though they are composed of the same material as the body of the river itself, so also the source and mouth of the river of conscious existence are respectively termed birth and death, even though composed of the same water of conscious existence. This continuing process goes on without end until the causes which bring it about are removed.

In order to understand the working of the mind it is necessary to acquire some idea of the process of consciousness according to Abbidhamma. Abbidhamma teaching explains the process of consciousness in detail, and records in an analytical way how the subject, consciousness, receives objects from without and within. When, for instance, a person is in a state of profound sleep his mind is said to be vacant, or in other words in a state of bhavanga, the passive state when our minds do not respond to objects. This flow of bhavanga is interrupted when objects enter the mind, it vibrates and passes away. At the arising and passing away of the next conscious state the passive flow is checked, arrested. Then a state of consciousness that adverts towards the object arises and passes away. Following immediately', if the object is visual, visual consciousness arises and passes away, knowing but yet no more about the object. This sense operation is succeeded by a moment of reception of the object so seen. Next comes the investigating faculty, or momentary examination of the object so received. After this comes the stage of representative cognition termed the determining consciousness, on which depends the subsequent psychologically important stage, that of active consciousness. It is important because it is at this stage that one does either good or bad action, kamma.

The process of cognition about the outside world takes place through the five sense doors, eye, ear, nose, tongue and touch, and is therefore called the course of cognition through the five doors. There is also a sixth door called the mind door, through which we cognize ideas as in memory or imagination, when the object is not presented but represented. The process of this cognition is called the course of cognition through the mind door.

The former of these two, the process of cognition through the five sense doors, may be roughly explained by the simile of a man sleeping under a mango tree. A man, lost in deep sleep, is lying at the foot of a mango tree, when a fruit falls and rolls to his side. He is suddenly aroused from his slumber, wakes up and tries to find out what has disturbed him. He sees the mango fruit nearby, picks it up, smells and examines it. Having ascertained that it is quite ripe and good he eats it.

Here (1), the deep sleep, is compared with the passive state of mind when it is running its own course, undisturbed by any kind of impression. (2), being aroused from his slumber, is like the disturbance of bhavanga. (3), waking up. is like bhavanga being arrested. (4), trying to find out what has disturbed him, is like that hazy state of mind when the subject feebly tries to make out whether the stimulus came through the eye, or ear, nose, tongue or touch. This is called adverting, turning towards impressions at the five sense doors. (5), seeing the fruit, is like the arising of the particular sense involved, in this case eye consciousness. It is the pure and simple function of seeing. free from any reflection over the object. (6), picking up the fruit, is like the mind receiving stimulation from an independent object existing in the outside world. This is called receiving consciousness. (7), smelling and examining the mango fruit, is like the mind reflecting on the object, and trying to understand it in the light of previous experience. This is called investigating consciousness. (8), ascertaining that the mango is quite ripe and good, is like the mind giving the object a definite place in its field of knowledge. This is called determining consciousness. (9), eating the mango, is like the mind tending to adjust the object according to its own suitability. This is the most active state of consciousness in which the subject is fully conscious of itself, and determines its own attitude towards the object. This is called 'active consciousness'.

In the course of cognition through the mind door, the object of cognition is not a stimulus from the outside world but an image arising from within, which presents itself with an already ascertained character. Here, the same function of mind is called consciousness turning towards impressions at the mind door'.

So one sees that the process of thinking can be divided into distinct functions, each thought moment being distinguishable from its previous and succeeding thought moments by the kind of function it performs. And as already said, it is the active conscious moment that is all important. since it is at this point that we determine our future by whether the quality of our action, mental, verbal or physical, is accompanied by greed, hatred and ignorance, or by generosity, goodwill and insight. The more we practise the latter, the weaker the former will become, until the time when they become so weak it is possible to cut them off altogether.

Only by learning about the nature of our mental make-up can we sift the dross from the gold, and thus, with practice and patience, achieve that purity of mind defined by the Buddha for the attaining of release from all suffering in any form.


That which we call man is composed of mind and matter, nama and rupa. In essence, mind (nama) is a stream of consciousness which can be expressed by the word 'thought', but thought is not of itself a physiological function, it is a kind of mental energy something rather like light or electricity except that the latter are of the material realm. Thoughts and the radiation of currents of thoughts are mental elements of the mental world which correspond to the four material elements of the physical world. We are essentially the manifestation of our thought forces, and these forces, the currents of our thoughts, although subject to change are never lost.

If the forces of our thoughts are sufficiently strong to overcome the gravitational sphere of the plane of sense desire (kamavacara bhumi), they become by their degree of perfection finer and higher energies of thought, and if they are developed even further they become the finest and highest energies of thought. It is with these finest and highest energies of thought that we are able to attain to the state of Nibbana, the end of suffering, sorrow and dissatisfaction. The currents of thoughts which are not capable of overcoming the gravitational sphere of the plane of sense desire must remain within that sphere of desire, within the circulation of all things; but those currents of thought are never lost, they will form a new, next life, and the process will continue, manifesting as the consciousness of an individual called a being - a man or a woman. In this way the process of life and death goes on continuously and endlessly until and unless it is checked by the developing of one's own thoughts.

According to Buddhist philosophy there are three classes of thought, namely, consciousness of the plane of sense desire, higher grades of consciousness and supramundane consciousness, Of these three, consciousness of the plane of sense desire - worldly desires - is mainly of two types, good and bad. That which is accompanied by the three good roots of unselfishness, goodwill and insight, is called good, and any word or deed done with this good thought is called good kamma, or good action, such as kindness, helpfulness, etc. These actions produce good effects such as having a philanthropic nature (alobha), a compassionate and loving nature (adosa), and a sharp, intelligent nature of clear understanding (amoha).

The types of consciousness, thoughts, that are accompanied by the three bad roots of greed, hatred (illwill), and ignorance, are called bad. Any deed done or word uttered with bad thoughts is called bad kamma, bad action, things such as killing, stealing, lying, etc. This produces bad effects such as short life, miserly nature (lobha), irritable and quarrelsome nature (dosa) and dull or deluded nature (moha).

Thus in the world of desires there are two main types of thought, good and bad; and, accordingly. two main types of beings, good and bad. However, by purifying his thoughts, purging them of the three bad roots of greed, hatred and ignorance, a bad person can be changed into a good one by developing his lower nature into a higher one, thereby acquiring the three good roots of unselfish ness, goodwill and insight. A good person can develop himself still further into an even better and higher type.

There are three stages of development, namely, morality (sila), concentration (samadhi) and wisdom (panna). According to the order of development the Noble Eightfold Path is classified into three groups thus: the first two, Right View and Right Thought, come in the category of wisdom (panna). The next three, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood, come within the category of morality (sila); and the last three, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, come in the category of concentration (samadhi).

Why are there three stages of development? It is because there are three stages of defilements. In the first stage the defilements merely lie latent in each one of us, not in any way becoming manifest in words or deeds. In the second stage, when awakened or disturbed by any object, pleasant or unpleasant, they rise from the latent state up to the level of thoughts, emotions and feelings. In the third stage they become so fierce and ungovernable that they produce evil actions in words and deeds. In order, therefore, to dispel the three stages of defilements, the three stages of development are necessary.

Of the three the development of morality is able only to temporarily put away or inhibit the third stage of the defilements, leaving the first and second stage unchanged; and since this third stage is only able to be inhibited by morality, and would therefore sooner or later arise again, it is called the temporary putting away (tadangapahana).

The development of concentration is able to put away or inhibit the second stage, but not the first. The defilements would still arise again, but in this case not so soon because concentration represents higher mental culture and is more powerful than morality. The putting away or inhibiting by concentration is therefore called putting away to a distance (vikkhambhanapahana).

Only the development of wisdom, insight, is able to dispel entirely the first stage of the defilements that are unaffected by morality or concentration. The stage of the defilements eradicated through insight will never arise again, it is like cutting a tree by the root; therefore the putting away by insight is called the permanent cutting away (samucchedapahana).

As the three stages are interdependent and interrelated, all of them should be practised together and at the same time. For example, when living a right life, a moral life, it is easier to have right concentration and right view. In the same way that practice of right concentration helps one to live a right life and to have right view, so right view enables one to live rightly and to concentrate rightly; but to try and live a right life without right concentration, which is mind control, also without right view, means that the result cannot be effective. You may think a thing is good at one moment, and may not think it is so at another; at one moment you may be happy concerning it, and at another sorry, because you lack right view. Right concentration cannot be attained without living a right life and having right view, and it is not possible to have right view without right living and right concentration.


There are three stages to concentration: concentration, meditation and contemplation. These ideas are rather mixed in translation, some translators of the Eightfold Path using contemplation, others concentration, and others again meditation. On the surface they seem to have the same meaning, but they are different stages.

Now, concentration means the narrowing of the field of your attention, or focusing your thoughts. If we do not concentrate our thoughts they are scattered and diffused. We are thinking all the time we are awake, whatever we are doing; these thoughts of our's are floating, spreading, diffusing, without any purpose, so they get us nowhere. But they can be concentrated on one object, if we will. Everybody can do this. It sounds rather serious, but you are doing it most of the time; while you write you are concentrating, while you are eating you are concentrating. Some people make a habit of reading during meals, and try to read and eat at the same time, but in this way they spoil both things; they cannot enjoy food, neither can they read properly. So you should concentrate on one thing at a time.

We concentrate, then, in order to make ourselves normal beings. There are two kinds of lunatics. There is the kind that have no control over their thoughts, their movements, their emotions; while they eat they may dance and sing, or do something else quite contrary to what they are supposed to be doing. They are neither of use to themselves nor to others. But we, too, are a kind of lesser lunatic because most of us cannot properly control our thoughts. If we try we can, but we do not try consistently. For instance, at a meeting people are to listen to a lecture, but if they do not concentrate on it they will be thinking of something else. They may be thinking of their own troubles at work or at home, or of work to be done, or a trader may be thinking of his goods. If we read with concentration we can finish a book in a short time, but if we do not concentrate we may hold a book open in our hand without remembering anything of what we read. This is why it is necessary for everyone to learn to concentrate. When you really feel a job is of importance and must be done, then you should concentrate on it. You can do nothing properly without concentration.

By concentration on a chosen object you obtain a clear picture of the object, and the vividness of the picture is the result of concentration. In concentration you focus your thoughts on a particular spot as though you were using a torch. While you concentrate there are many disturbances; even while you are trying to concentrate on one thing, you may find yourself troubled by what somebody said or did, or by what is likely to happen tomorrow. Sometimes they are small disturbances, sometimes very big ones. Your thoughts will then be so occupied by your worries that you can do nothing, and then you will say you cannot concentrate. But these disturbing thoughts can be cast away, you can rid yourself of the intruding thoughts which have nothing to do with the object of your concentration. The best way to do it is quite simple. What do you say if someone wants to see you while you are busy? You say, 'I am too busy'. When you hear anyone speaking against you, if you do not mind this, you say, 'I take no notice of it'; but if you allow yourself to think of what they say about you, anger and irritation will arise. In concentration you can use the same method. The disturbing thoughts can be cast aside merely by using the ordinary formula, 1 am too busy'. When one of the intruders comes to disturb you, to catch your mental eye, say, 'I am too busy'. Just ignore them and continue concentrating on the object you have chosen. Do not fight, that will only encourage the intruder. For instance, if you take notice of what people say or how they look at you, it will encourage them. If you take no notice, that person feels shy. Even a dog can sense this, and if you do not take notice when a dog barks at you he will go away. In the same way, if a thought intrudes on your concentration, take no notice and it will disappear.

You can concentrate on any object. Then you will have the ability, a habit of mind, to keep on one object until you have brought to bear on it all your possible thoughts in connection with it. Start by concentrating on simple objects; later on the ability to concentrate can be applied to any object, however difficult and abstract. People who can study very quickly are those who can concentrate.


The difference between thinking and meditating is, that, in thinking generally you have no definite object or purpose, while in meditation you think exclusively of a definite object chosen by your will. By thinking without purpose your thoughts may lead you to dangers and troubles, but by meditating on a chosen object you will gain benefit. By meditation you enlarge your intellect and develop your power of knowing or seeing things as they truly are.

Meditation is to be practised only after concentration. Some people try to jump straight to meditation, but if they do so they fail to obtain a clear picture of the object or the clearness of consciousness which concentration gives. Concentration is mere focusing of our thoughts on the object, but in meditation we keep that clear mental picture of the object. Not only that, but we expand and develop the field of it, and also develop our knowledge, expand the field of our knowledge of it. That is why meditation without concentration is a failure. In concentration we start with simple objects, but in meditation we carry the clear conception of that simple object to the higher mental levels. To make it clear, imagine someone pouring water from above into a tall jar. If there are many holes round the bottom and sides of the jar, the water will run out, but if the holes are all filled in, the water will rise. Most of us are like the jar full of holes, ready to leak, so that we cannot concentrate. Meditation is like the pouring of the water, filling our consciousness with wisdom and clear vision. Concentration is filling the holes, making the consciousness steady without leakage. By meditation we shall observe clearly the object chosen and shall understand the function of the object in conjunction with other things. In this way we develop our wisdom and knowledge.

We see now the difference between thinking and meditation. In thinking, as we have said, we have either no specific object or too many objects, but in meditation we think of a definite object, and that is why meditation is a real constructive practice of thinking. We develop by meditation our power of seeing the object as it is, otherwise we may see only the appearance of the object without knowing anything of its nature. That is why meditation is very necessary, it purifies the thoughts, otherwise they are mixed with many things, especially with ignorance. We cannot see anything properly when we are hypnotized by ignorance. By meditation we see the object as it really is; our thoughts become pure and we develop wisdom.


Contemplation is not very different from concentration, but although it is concentration, one's attention is fixed and steady; contemplation is the fully developed stage of concentration. Contemplation opens up ways of intuition and of many powers which people call occult, and we can gain these powers even before we attain the state of Nibbana. In a way it is true that they are occult powers because they are hidden from people who have not developed themselves in this way, but these powers are not hidden from those who seriously practise concentration and meditation, they just form an extension of the powers used by everybody in ordinary life. For instance, it may sound spiritualistic, but is not: by the power developed you can see and hear certain things more than you usually do, because your consciousness, your thoughts, are of the purity of a polished mirror. When the surface of a mirror is not clear you can see nothing in it. Without meditation your consciousness, your thoughts, are dull, but when they are purified, not mixed with evil tendencies, you can see and hear certain things which cannot be discerned by the ordinary physical sense organs.

Then the object - what can you choose? Choose your own object according to your own individual character. If you choose the right object it will be easier for you to increase your intellect and also your higher thoughts. If the object you have chosen is suited to your character it will be very interesting to you, and when something interests you, you do not leave it. When pictures appeal to you, you go several times to see them, and you will go anywhere where there is something of sufficient interest to you. How, then, can we choose the proper object? We must understand our own nature, that is the most important thing. It is very trying to attempt to concentrate on an unsuitable object, and you can achieve nothing by so doing. You realize you have weak points, but also strong ones; meditation on the right object will strengthen you where you are weak, and also weaken you where you are strong in the wrong things. For instance, if you have evil tendencies and habits, by meditation on the right objects they will disappear gradually, and good tendencies and habits will be formed. So you must know what you really are. I think in most cases people do not know their real tendencies and what their real nature is.

Even when we know that what we do is wrong, we often go to other people merely from habit or to obtain confirmation of our own wishful thoughts. But if we are sincerely trying to meditate we must know ourselves as we really are. You can sometimes judge your own character by your habitual thoughts and acts. When you do certain things again and again, that is a sign of your character. Character can be developed or changed by meditation on the right object.

There are different kinds of characters and each person has his own. How can we tell which is our true character? There are cases where people do such diverse things that they cannot judge the dominant character. In Buddhism there is a classification in which characters are divided into six classes, and every body's chief character is one of them. They are: (1) lustful, greedy, emotional. (2) angry, impatient, easily annoyed, irritable, quick-tempered. (3) dull-witted, ignorant, very dull and unintelligent. (4) credulous, ready to believe everything people say. (5) intelligent. (6) speculative.

You can identify your own character and judge the most dominant in you. Once you know what it is you can choose the object for meditation that will help you. If you are a very quick-tempered person, the object must be one that will help you to be patient. To make you patient you should choose something opposite, such as goodwill or peace, or love (metta). Now to meditate on love you must know something about it, what it is and why it is good to meditate on it. To purify your thoughts you must be free from hatred, then you will see things as they really are, and by so doing you will see the disadvantages of hatred and impatience and also realize the advantages of love. Having now some idea of love we can meditate on it as follows: first for oneself, as one cannot radiate thoughts of love unless one possesses them. Begin by repeating mentally the short formula, 'May I be well and happy'. Hold these thoughts for a few minutes and think that the whole of your nature is filled with love and that there is no place for any other thought at all. Continue until you feel that you are filled with love, and that you become nothing but love. Then send out thoughts of love towards all beings throughout the universe by repeating mentally, 'May all beings be well and happy'. Hold these thoughts for a few minutes and think that the whole universe is filled with love and that there is no place for any other idea at all. Continue until you feel that there is nothing but love pouring forth for all beings. When this meditation has been practised long enough, success will be obtained. A certain mental tranquillity, an unusual sense of contentment, a hitherto unknown happiness and an astonishingly clear consciousness will be obtained. These mental states may be experienced by anyone who succeeds in radiating thoughts of love towards all beings without measure.

Later on, higher stages of development may be obtained by this meditation.


From training by way of meditation on in-and-out breathing the four jhanas are produced. When jhanas are developed, the mind of the aspirant is considerably purified although he is not wholly free from passions, for by concentration the evil tendencies are only temporarily inhibited, they may rise to the surface at quite unexpected moments. Discipline, or morality, regulates word and deed; concentration controls the mind, and insight enables him to annihilate completely the passions not inhibited by the other two. Therefore the attainments of the jhanas, in which one has tasted the high happiness of a Brahma God, though super-normal, is still only mundane. For the attainment of the supramundane by the insight method, the aspirant turns his keen, very pure jhana mind to penetrate the nature of things as they really are, by means of meditation on the three fundamental characteristics of mind and matter, namely, transience, suffering and non-self (anicca, dukkha and anatta).

The method to do this is:

1. Examination

The aspirant examines his own object of meditation, i.e., the in-and-out breathings which are dependent on the body, and the factors of jhana. On examination he finds as follows:

The body is merely the manifestation of the four elements and their derived qualities, i.e., (1) THE ELEMENT OF EXTENSION. Without it objects cannot occupy space. The qualities of hardness and softness are two phases of this element. (2) THE ELEMENT OF COHESION, which coheres the scattered atoms of matter and gives the idea of body. (3) THE ELEMENT OF HEAT (AND COLD). Preservation and decay are due to this element, the vitalizing energy. (4) THE ELEMENT OF MOTION. Movements are caused by this element. Motion is regarded as a vibratory force.

These four are the fundamental units of matter, and are invariably combined with the four derivatives, namely, colour, odour, taste and nutritive essence. The four elements and the four derivatives are inseparable and interrelated; thus, according to Buddhism, matter consists of forces and qualities which are in a state of constant flux.

The factors of jhana are the dominant mental concomitants of a mind which has attained to that state. Mind, which is the most important part of man, is a complex compound of fleeting mental states, namely, feeling, perception, mental concomitants and consciousness. All states arising in consciousness are non-material. These states constantly change, not remaining for two consecutive moments the same. We worldlings, veiled by the net of illusion, mistake this apparent continuity as being something eternal, an unchanging soul, an atta (atman) the supposed doer and receptacle of all actions.

If one were to say that by soul or self is meant the process of this psycho-physical phenomenon that is constantly becoming and passing away, then there would be no objection to the term. The Buddha himself uses the term atta, but only to indicate the collection of the khandhas, or aggregates. Buddhism does not totally deny the existence of a personality in an empirical sense, but it does show that it does not exist in an ultimate sense. The Buddhist philosophical term for an individual is santati, i.e., a flux or continuity. It includes both the mental and physical elements. The kammic force of each individual binds these elements together. This uninterrupted flux or continuity of bonded psycho physical phenomena, which is conditioned by kamma, and not limited only to the present life but has its source in the past and its continuation in the future, is the Buddhist substitute for the permanent ego of other religions.

2. Seek out the Cause of Personality

All things, personality included, spring from and are conditioned by a cause or causes. The existence of a 'self' is due to:

  • Ignorance in the past. From ignorance desire is born.
  • Craving for phenomenal existence.
  • Attachment to life, persons and things.
  • Kamma (action); the physical, verbal and mental action in the past.
  • Food absorbed in this life.

Personality is the result of these five causes. Just as the past activities have conditioned the present, so the present will condition the future. Seeing thus the causes and their effects, he transcends all doubts with regard to past, present and future.

3. Meditation

The aspirant then understands that all conditioned things are transient, subject to suffering and devoid of any immortal soul. To develop this understanding (insight) he keeps on meditating upon one of the three characteristics, having chosen the most suitable. Impermanence is a suitable subject for everyone. Suffering is too depressing for certain natures to meditate on. If it is impermanence he keeps on saying mentally: All things are impermanent. Everything around us is impermanent. Everything within us (thoughts, feelings, etc.) is impermanent. He continues until there is no attraction or aversion for any conditioned state or object. any worldly object. Reaching this point of mental culture he intently keeps on developing insight in that particular direction until that glorious day comes to him when, to his indescribable joy, he realizes Nibbana, his ultimate goal, for the very first time.

Thereafter, gone forever are false views, doubts and beliefs in rites and ceremonies. He is no more a worldling but an ariya. He is absolved from states of woe and misery, for he is destined to enlightenment. As said in Dhammapada 13, Loka Vagga, v. 179, 'Greater than emperorship, than god-state, is the fruit of this first step of sainthood!' For just now something, never in this life even imagined as possible, has been actually experienced.

It may be mentioned that jhanas and supernormal powers would undoubtedly be a valuable asset to the possessor, but they are not essential for the attainment of arahantship. There are those, sukkha-vipassaka, who without the aid of jhanas attain to arahantship straight away by merely cultivating insight.

4. Meditation on the Body

Mindfulness as to the body is one of the basic meditations practised even by young boys and girls in Buddhist countries, because body is all they know. This meditation Proceeds by reasoning from the known to the unknown. It is to train one to observe attentively the inner workings of the body and the mind as well as the external phenomena of the universe.

By means of this meditation we may verify one of the three characteristics, at least impermanence, which characterizes all forms of existence. As soon as this has been understood one begins to be detached from the illusions of the senses or conditioned things. The unstable, the impermanent, that which is eternally becoming, perpetually changing is regarded as unable to ensure any lasting peace and happiness.

Meditation on the body should teach us to understand that our personalities, composed of the five khandhas. are always changing, and that the so-called ego, which is only the sum total of these associated components, cannot be permanent. Such a conclusion is discouraging to the ego-centric, the selfish man, but will not trouble anyone who has understood the law of cause and effect which he has practised, since he knows that deliverance from the limitations of personality is to be found upon attaining the transcendental state of Nibbana.

5. Meditation on the Body by way of the Postures

Surely children and the rest, when going, are conscious of their going. They know it, but such knowledge does not shed the notion of a being, nor uproot the perception of self, and it is not the subject of meditation or the culture of the arousing of mindfulness. But the knowledge of a practising yogi sheds the notion of a being, and causes the uprooting of the perception of self; it is both subject of meditation and the culture of the arousing of mindfulness.

6. Examination

Who goes? It is not a being or person that goes. Whose is the going? It is neither the going of a being nor of a person. Owing to what is the going? By reason of mind-activity and the spread of the element of motion (vibration). Therefore he understands as follows:

The thought. 'I shall go', arises. That produces motion (vibration). Motion produces (bodily) intimation. Going is the carrying forward of the entire body through mind-activity and the spreading of the element of motion. The same is the method in standing, and so forth. The thought, 'I am standing' . . . 'Lying down. (the stretching horizontally of the whole body through)'. .

He knows this and thinks in this way. 'People say a person goes, a person stands; but in an ultimate sense there is no person (being) whatsoever going or standing'. Just as people say, 'A cart goes, a cart stands', but in an ultimate sense nothing whatsoever called a cart goes or stands; when a horse has been yoked and a driver is driving, it is just conventional to say. 'A cart goes, a cart stands'. In the same way the body is like the cart, because it is lacking motive force in itself. Like the horse is the mind-born motion; like the driver is the mind. So, when the thought, 'I go' or 'I stand' has arisen, the element of motion causing the production of physical intimation arises. Through mind-activity and the spread of the element of motion, going and the rest proceed. Then it is bare convention to say. 'A being goes, a being stands, I go, I stand'.

Just as for a butcher the cow percept does not disappear as long as he does not divide the cow, part by part, but only after having cleft it; following which meat-percept arises. And sitting at the junction of four cross-roads selling the pieces laid out in front of him he does not think, 'I am selling cow', but 'I am selling meat', so also for the yogi - the person or being percept does not disappear until he reflects upon the four bodily postures by way of element, and consciousness is fixed by way of element.

Like the butcher is the yogi. Like cow percept is person or being percept. Like the junction of four roads crossing on a highway are the four bodily postures. Like sitting with the divided pieces laid out in front is reflection by way of element.


This summary will enable the disciple to compare the various stages of development cited, with his own personal experiences. He may then decide for himself what stage he has reached in regard to maturity of insight.

The disciple who takes up the course of training in the Satipatthana Vipassana will have to pass through different stages of:

A. Sevenfold purity (visuddhi), and
B. Seventeenfold knowledge of insight (vipassana nana).

The different stages of sevenfold purity (visuddhi) are listed as 'A', the seventeenfold knowledge of insight (vipassana nana) listed as 'B'.

A.1 Purity of character (sila visuddhi). This is gained by strict observance of the rules and discipline laid down for the observance of the lay disciples and monks respectively.

A.2 Purity of mind (citta visuddhi). This is gained when one's attention or contemplation is fixed on the object of meditation without any wavering.

B.1 Knowledge of the twofold division of mind and matter (nama-rupa pariccheda nana). While practising meditation (contemplation) it becomes clear that there are only two processes, mental and physical, and thus the first degree of knowledge is gained.

A.3 Purity of view (ditthi visuddhi). As soon as the disciple clearly understands that various actions of the physical body are one thing, and that the knowing of these actions is another, also that there is no other entity besides these two chief things, he has attained purity of views.

B.2 Knowledge of cause and effect (paccaya pariggaha nana). While practising meditation the preceding causes and the effects that follow them are noticed. Thus the second degree of knowledge is gained.

A.4 Purity by the removal of doubts (kankhavitarana visuddhi). As the preceding causes and the effects that follow them are clearly noticed in the course of meditation, the disciple is satisfied that these two factors alone existed in the past, and they alone will exist also in the future. Thus he perceives clearly, and therefore attains the stage of purity by the removal of doubts.

B.3 Knowledge of impermanence, suffering and no soul (sammasana nana). While practising meditation it is noticed that objects successively come up and disappear. Thus he understands the real nature of anicca, dukkha and anatta. He therefore gains the third degree of know ledge.

B.4 (i) Knowledge of arising and subsiding (udayabbaya nana), initial stage. When the disciple is well advanced in the exercise of his meditation he can meditate on the required objects without much effort. At this stage he generally beholds a supernormal light (obhasa), feels a thrill of zest (piti), calmness (passadhi). determination (adhimokkha), great energy (paggaha), happiness (sukha), deep insight (nana), intensity of mindfulness (upatthana), equanimity (upekkha), and a mild desire for this state (nikanti). He can also easily notice how each object of meditation arises and how it passes away. Thus he gains the initial stage of the fourth degree of knowledge.

A.5 Purity by discriminating between what is the right path and what is not (maggamaggananadassana visuddhi). At this stage a wise discrimination arises thus: merely pondering over the fact of beholding a supernormal light and feeling other peculiar states, being thus satisfied with oneself, is not the true achievement, one must proceed with the practice of meditation without stopping. Having taken this decision he attains the purity of discriminating between what is the right path and what is not.

B.4 (ii) Knowledge of arising and subsiding (udayabba a nana), final stage. While proceeding with his meditation without pondering, the disciple can clearly observe the beginning and end of every object of meditation. Thus he gains the final stage of the fourth degree of knowledge.

A.6 Purity of following the right path (patipadananadassana visuddhi). From the final stage of the fourth degree of knowledge (udayabbayanana). up to knowledge of conformity, the thirteenth degree of knowledge (anuloma nana), the disciple clearly understands the right method of practice.

B.5 Knowledge of falling, or disappearing (bhanga nana). On proceeding with the meditation the disciple clearly realizes the fact that the object and the awareness always disappear. Thus he gains the fifth degree of knowledge.

B.6 Knowledge of the fear of existence (bhaya nana). On proceeding with the meditation the disciple realizing the fact that objects and states always disappear and are therefore of a destructible nature, feels alarmed and frightened at the actual state of things. Thus he gains the sixth degree of knowledge.

B.7 Knowledge of disgust and dread (adinava nana). On proceeding with the meditation the disciple on realizing the fact that objects and states always disappear, and are therefore of a destructible nature, feels disgust or dread at the actual state of things. Thus he gains the seventh degree of knowledge.

B.8 Knowledge of weariness (nibbida nana). On proceeding with the meditation the disciple on realizing the fact that objects and states always disappear and are therefore of a destructible nature, feels weary of the actual state of things. Thus he gains the eighth degree of knowledge.

B.9 Knowledge of the longing to escape (muncitukamyata nana). On proceeding with the meditation the disciple realizing the fact that states disappear, and the consequent misery due to this destructible nature, longs for escape. Thus he gains the ninth degree of knowledge.

B.10 Knowledge of special effort (patisankha nana). On realizing the full facts the disciple makes a special effort and proceeds with meditation in order to achieve escape. Thus he gains the tenth degree of knowledge.

B.11 Knowledge of detachment from conditioned existence (sankharupekkha nana). The disciple is now in a state of equanimity and proceeds with his meditation automatically. Thus he gains the eleventh degree of knowledge.

Six qualities of the knowledge of detachment from conditioned existence (sankharupekkha nana )

1. There is absence of fear and pleasure.
2. There is complete indifference to either happiness or misery.
3. The meditation is usually carried on automatically and without any effort.
4. The state of equanimity in meditation lasts a long time.
5. As meditation becomes longer, it becomes finer.
6. The meditation is fixed and steady, and the mind does not wander to any other objects.

B.12 Knowledge of emergence - from woeful states and conditioned things - leading to the Path (vutthanagamini nana). From this state of steady meditation the progress distinctly quickens, and the disciple has a clear knowledge of where he is going. Thus he gains the twelfth degree of knowledge.

B.13 Knowledge of conformity (anuloma nana). In these mundane states of mind, the last stage of knowledge is the knowledge of conformity. Thus the disciple gains the thirteenth degree of knowledge.

B.14 Knowledge of the overcoming of worldly ties (gotrabhunana). The entering into the Path (ariyamagga), on severing connection at the last stage of mundane knowledge, is knowledge of the overcoming of worldly ties, and marks a special progress to the supramundane state. The disciple thus gains the fourteenth degree of knowledge.

This is the transitional stage between the mundane and the supramundane.


B.15 Knowledge of the Path, the state which dispels defilements, and knowledge of the Fruit of the Path (magga phala nana) is the realization of the cessation of all conditioned things. Thus the disciple gains the fifteenth degree of dual knowledge, knowledge of the Path and knowledge of the Fruit.

A.7 Purity of knowledge of the Path and Fruit (nanadassana visuddhi), the dual knowledge which accomplishes purity of insight by the discernment of Nibbana; clear under standing of the four Noble Truths.

B.16 Knowledge of retrospect (paccavekkhana nana). The disciple then reflects on the whole process of meditation, how he has reached this stage and how he can return. Thus he gains the sixteenth degree of knowledge, that of retrospect.

B.17 Repetition of knowledge of the Fruit (phalasamapatti). The disciple again proceeds with his meditation. When he gathers sufficient strength in concentration he again reaches the same state of knowledge of the Fruit. By this procedure the disciple can regain repeatedly the state of knowledge of the Fruit.


In the Dhammadasa Sutta the Buddha mentions four chief characteristic qualities of a stream winner. They are called mirrors, or looking-glasses, and anybody who by virtue of matured insight possesses these qualities can rest assured that he has attained the first Path of Sotapanna.

These qualities are:

1. He possesses unshakable faith in the Buddha, because he now understands the most exalted qualities of the Buddha.

2. He possesses unshakable faith in the Dhamma, because by working earnestly he, in his own person. realizes the supreme truth and, wisely penetrating, beholds it face to face.

4. He possesses unshakable faith in the Sangha, because he now knows their excellent qualities.

4. He naturally observes the five precepts, panca sila, which is the most cherished moral code of the noble Order.

Thus he is free from false view (ditthi), he does not hold the view that the aggregates of mental and physical processes are man, woman, person or creature, etc.

He is free from doubts (vicikiccha), he possesses an unshakable confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha.

He is free from belief in rites, rituals and ceremonies (silabbata paramasa), he realizes that no other method than that of cultivating the Noble Eightfold Path, and attaining an inner realization of the four Noble Truths, will bring eternal peace.

He is also free from envy (issa), and from meanness (macchariya). The Buddha said, 'Greater than emperorship, than god-state. is the fruit of this first step of sainthood'. But now, something. never in this life even imagined as possible, has been actually experienced.


At the moment of attainment of Nibbana there are three different modes of apprehension:

1. Lakkhana

The characteristic mark of Nibbana; meaning, there is cessation, the cutting off of the ever-flowing stream of nama-rupa, the mental and physical processes (santi lakkhanarn).

2. Rasa

The inherent functional property of Nibbana, meaning. there is freedom from the mundane course of change, deterioration and decay. (Accutorasarn=eternal, changeless).

3. Paccupatthana

The resultant appearance of Nibbana; meaning there is neither sign, symptom nor form. (Animitta paccupatthanam).


1. The coming into existence and the passing away of all sankharas is suffering (dukkha).

2. The craving for the sankharas, because they are considered good, is the cause of suffering (dukkha samudaya).

3. The ceasing of the ever-flowing stream of the mental and physical process (nama-rupa) is Nibbana (dukkha nirodha)

4. The personal intuitive apprehension of nirodha (cessation) is the Eightfold Path (atthangika magga), (dukkha nirodha gamini patipada)


Question: How are these four Noble Truths perceived at one and the same time?

Answer: In the winning of the personal intuitive apprehension of Nibbana (third Truth), the discernment of suffering (first Truth) is achieved, together with the expulsion of its cause, craving. (second Truth); and all three Truths are accomplished only by developing the requisite maturity of insight (treading the Noble Eightfold Path - fourth Truth). in this way are the four Truths perceived at one and the same time.

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updated: 01-08-2002