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Home Teachings Non-Self The Teaching of Non-Self - True Dhamma

The Teaching of Non-Self - True Dhamma

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Article Index
The Teaching of Non-Self
Introduction
Material Body
Belief in Creation
Attachment to Self
Vipassana Meditation
Feelings
Perception
Volitional Activities
Consciousness
True Dhamma
What Five Aggregates Are Like
Summary of Processes
All Pages

True Dhamma

1. Sabba papassa akaranam -- To abstain from all evil deeds

Physical misdeeds such as killing, stealing, and maltreating should be avoided. Vocal evils of lying, slandering, and using offensive language should also be avoided. Thinking of evil thoughts should also be abandoned. Evil thoughts could be got rid of only by engaging in the practice of concentration and Vipassana meditation. 'Avoidance of all evil deeds, physical, vocal, and mental, constitutes the First Teaching of the Buddha.'

2. Kusalassa upasampada -- To develop all forms of meritorious deeds such as giving alms, keeping precepts and practicing meditation.

With regard to keeping of precepts, it may be fulfilled to a certain extent by avoidance of evil deeds in pursuance of the first teaching. But one does not become establish in Ariyamagga sila, precepts pertaining to the Noble Path, by mere practice of abstinence. It can be accomplished only through practice of Vipassana meditation till the path is attained or practice of concentration meditation and absorption concentration. Some people talk disparagingly of concentration meditation.

The Blessed One himself had however recommended cultivation of the concentration meditation too. When jhanic concentration is achieved, that concentration can be used as an ideal basis for Vipassana meditation. Alternatively, if jhanic stage is not attainable, access concentration may be tried for and this concentration, when attained, may be used as a basis for Vipassana meditation. If even access concentration is not attainable, one has to work for the momentary concentration of the Vipassana meditation. Once it is attained, the Vipassana insights will become developed in their own sequence till the Noble Path is accomplished.

In Buddha's dispensation, the most essential tasks is to acquire wholesome merits of Vipassana concentration and Vipassana insight because the Noble Path and Fruition are unattainable without Vipassana meditation. Thus in order to become equipped with the merits of the Noble Path and Fruition, the good deeds of Vipassana meditation must be developed. We cannot afford to ignore any form of meritorious deeds because the second teaching of the Buddha enjoins fulfillment of all the three types of good deeds. We are hearing about 'new teachings' which go against these first and second teachings of the Buddhas. The propagandists of such 'new teachings' said, 'the unwholesome defilement (akusala kilesa) do not exist permanently. Consequently, no effort is needed to dispel them, and no effort is needed either to perform good deeds of keeping precepts, practicing concentration, and insight meditation. All these efforts are futile and produce suffering only.

It must be definitely understood that all these new teachings are diametrically opposed to the true teaching of the Buddha.

3. Sacitta pariyadapanam -- To keep one's own mind pure

Through practice of Vipassana, the Path must be developed. With the Path developed thus and the Fruition attained, the mind is completely free of defilements and hence absolutely pure. According to the Commentary, the degree of purity to be attained is no less than that of an Arahat. This exposition by the Commentary is in full agreement with the teaching of the Buddha enshrined in the Pali texts. Nevertheless, those who are causing harm and injury to the dispensation by discouraging the practice of keeping precepts, developing concentration, and Vipassana meditation, say that they are futile efforts that will land in suffering only. "Keep the mind rested, and don't engaged in any activity. Place it in a blank spot in one's person where no unwholesome activities are developing. In this way the mind will remain pure." This is a teaching which is entirely devoid of reason, foundation, and support. To discourage the practice of sila, samadhi, and bhāvanā is to despoil the Buddha's dispensation. It is an impossibility to keep one's mind pure without the practice of concentration and insight meditation.

Consciousness is in the nature of insubstantiality, uncontrollable, and unmanageable. To assert that mind can be kept as one wish without the help of meditation is to refute the Anattalakkhana Sutta which states that it is not possible to say of consciousness, 'Let consciousness be thus (all wholesome); let it not be thus (all unwholesome).' This is something to be pondered well upon. The last sentence in this concise statement of the teaching says:

'Etam Buddhana sasanam.' "These three namely, avoidance of evils, promotion of all that is good, keeping the mind pure, are the teachings of all the Buddhas."

The Buddhist Dispensation thus constitutes concisely the three factors as stated above. For the Dispensation to endure and to prosper, all evil deeds must be avoided as far as possible by oneself. Others should be taught as far as possible to avoid evil deeds. One must perform as far as possible meritorious deeds and teach others to do the same. If someone is found teaching the non-Dhamma, 'Don't avoid evil deeds; don't do good deeds,' one must do the utmost to prevent him from teaching such wrong views. One should purify one's mind by practising meditation and exhort others to do likewise. It is thus for the purpose of safeguarding the Dispensation and promoting its prosperity that we have to point out the wrong teaching and explain how they have deviated from the right one.

Consciousness is named according to whatever condition through which it arises. On account of the eye and the visible objects there arise a consciousness that is called eye-consciousness, on account of the ear and sounds there arise a consciousness that is called ear-consciousness, on account of the nose and odours there arise a consciousness that is called nose-consciousness, on account of the tongue and taste there arise a consciousness that is called tongue-consciousness, on account of the body and tactile objects there arise a consciousness that is called tactile (body) consciousness, and on account of the mind and mind objects there arise a consciousness that is called mental consciousness.

For example, a fire may burn on account of wood, and it is called wood fire. When it is burnt on account of bamboo splinter, grass, cow dung paddy husk, and refuse, then it is called splinter fire, grass fire, cow dung fire, etc., respectively. In a same manner, consciousness is named according to how it is conditioned.

The distinction is more pronounced in the case of hearing than in seeing. Similarly, in smelling and tasting, each consciousness is noted separately and distinctly. The most distinct note-taking is involved in the phenomenon of touching and the distinction of each consciousness is the most pronounced here. When feeling a pain, careful noting of 'pain, pain,' enables one to see distinctly each consciousness of pain one by one as it arises. Similarly, mind-consciousness of thought and ideas can be noted as each consciousness arises separately. If any thought or idea intrudes while noting rising and falling of the abdomen, these should be noted off as they arise.

Usually the intruding thought or idea comes to cessation as soon as its arising is noted off by the meditator, but if thoughts persist in arising conditioned by the same mental objects, they should be observed with their making of appearance turn by turn in sequence. When the thought moves over to another mental object, the arising of separate consciousness is very distinctly observable. When meditator can perceive the arising of each distinct consciousness with each separate noting, he comes to realize personally the impermanent nature of consciousness, its nature of suffering because of constant arising and vanishing, and its insubstantial nature because it is happening according to its conditions; it is uncontrollable and unmanageable.

It is the most important to gain such personal realization in Buddhism. We have explained fully how the five aggregates, namely, material body, feeling, perception, volitional activities, and consciousness are not self. We will recapitulate with mnemonics on the four kinds of self-clinging and how consciousness is not self.



 

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Quotes

" Him I call a brahmana, who is free from anger, who practises austerity, who is virtuous and free from craving, who is controlled in his senses and for whom this body (i.e., existence) is the very last. "

The Dhammapada


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