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Abhidhamma In Daily Life

by Ashin Janakabhivamsa

Alternate format: abhidhamma_in_daily_life.pdf (185pp./865KB), abhidhamma_in_daily_life.odt (205KB)

O Lord Buddha ever since He was a Bodhisattva until the very end fulfilled the paramis even at the cost of his life for the welfare and happiness of devas and men.

On reflection thus do I resolve: let me and my life also be sacrificed for the sake of the Buddhasasana. Relentlessly shall I strive to do good!

Ashin Janakabhivamsa
Generously shared as Dhamma-Gift by This Gift is for free contribution and not for sale or any other kind of trade and exchange for honour and gain. Edition: January 2014

About The Author:

Ashin Janakabhivamsa

The boy who was to grow up to become a celebrated teacher of Pali Canon and founder of the famous Mahagandharama monastery of Amarapura Division, was born on Tuesday of fourteenth waning day of Tabodwe 1261, M.E. (27th February 1990) of U Zaw Ti and Daw Ohn Hline in Thayine village, Wetlet township, Shwebo district, Sagaing Division.

In 1266, when he was five years old, he was sent to the local monastery and was initiated for the first time in accordance with traditional custom into the Order of the Sangha as a novice, samanera. Nine years later in 1275 when he was initiated for the second time into the Order, it was to spend his lifetime as a disciple of the Buddha in his Dispendation.

At the age of eighteen n 1279 M.E. (1918) while he was still a samanera, he passed the Government examination at higher level Pathamagyi, which consisted of examination in the Grammar, the Vinaya, the Abhidhamma and the Digha Nikāya.

When he came of age he was ordained a full-fledged Buddhist monk with the title of U Janaka on the full-moon day of Tabaung 1280 M.E. (1919). He had the distinction of being ordained thrice in his life, the second time on the full moon day of Nayon 1281 M.E. (1920) and the third on the full moon day of Tabaung 1281 M.E. (1920).

His preceptor saw to it that he studied under the best teachers in the two most prominent centers of Pariyatti learning in Myanmar namely, Mandalay and Pakhokku. The advanced courses in the Pali Canon, the commentaries, sub-commentaries, exegeses, and expositions were thoroughly learned from the most distinguished teachers of these centers where he was afforded the opportunity of acting as a probationary teacher himself under their guidance.

Thus to pass the Government Pathamagyaw examination in 1287, standing first, and to gain outright success in the specially difficult Sakyasiha - teacher course examination in 1289 for the title of Pariyatti Sasanahita Dhammacariya were for him just matters of routine.

By that time had already started launching his whole time job by writing books which were to be useful guides and manuals for the thousands of students who later gathered round him till he passed away. He also wrote many small manuals for lay Buddhists who have no opportunity to study the Teaching of the Buddha directly from Pali Canon.

It was at the time when the rumblings of the world war II began to reach the shores of Myanmar and the Japanese forces began to appear at the eastern border that the Venerable Janabhivamsa who had already become a noted teacher and writer began to settle down in his own monastery at Amarapura about 12 miles south east of Mandalay. It was an old monastery called Mahagandarama, which belonged to his mentor the First Maha Gandharama Sayadaw. There were only three dilapidated buildings with five inmates including himself when he decided to settle down there and bring it up to be a prosperous monastic educational institution.

That he had succeeded in his endeavor even beyond his expectation was evidenced by the fact that when he passed away in 1977, there were over 500 Bhikkhu disciples under his charge as residential students of Tipitaka, strictly following the Vinaya Disciplinary Code as laid down by the Buddha, and 97 monastic dwellings donated by devotees. He had managed to provide residential accommodation for all his Bhikkhu students and early morning meal for all of them. The midday meal was collected by the students by going on alms-round. He was the first recipient of the title of Aggamahapandita, The Superior Learned One bestowed by the first President of Independent Myanmar.

For full thirty-five years between 1942 and 1977, he was intensely and incessantly active in the cause of purification and propagation of Sasana, conducting courses of instruction in Pitaka Pali writing textbooks and sub-commentaries and many religion handbooks for lay people.

At the time of the Sixth Buddhist Council which was begun in May 1954, he was busily engaged in various committees: as an advisor, Chattha Sanggiti Ovada Cariya Sangha Niyama; as Performer of various duties at the Sixth Council, Chattha Sangiti Bharanittharaka; as an editor of Pali texts Chattha Sangiti Palipativisodhaka; and a Reader of Texts which have reached the final stage of Redaction, Osanasodheyya pattapathaka.

Through all these years while he was actively engaged in teaching, in administration of his fast growing monastery with attendant supervision of constructions and provision of accommodation and meals for increasing number of students and attending to duties incumbent upon being appointed a member of many committees of the Sixth Council, he never failed to continue writing books and managing publication.

He wrote in all 74 books made up of 11 books on grammar, 14 books on Vinaya scripture, 14 books on Abhidhamma Texts, 8 books on Suttanta Pitaka Text and 24 books on miscellaneous subjects dealing with all aspects of Buddhist Teaching and Sasana; he managed to publish 50 of them before he passed away.

He started writing books from the time he became a Thera of ten years standing at the age of thirty (1930) and continued to do so till 5 days before his death on 27th December 1977. He had great desire to help the Bhikkhu students of Pali Canon master easily the teachings of the Buddha including their expositions in the commentaries and sub-commentaries. He also had in mind to give as much Buddhist education to the lay disciples who are incapable of devoting entirely to study of scriptures, by writing popular books such as this one, for example: Abhidhamma in Daily Life. The Last Ten Months of the Buddha was another book written for the benefit of layman. It was strange coincidence that as the Revered Sayadaw was coming to and end of his discourse on the Maha Parinibbāna Sutta, Maha Vagga of Digha Nikāya and its Commentary in December, 1977 - eleven months away from his demise he started writing The Last Ten Months of the Buddha.

It was also during these eleven months that he compiled an autobiography “Tabhava Samsara” dealing with all aspects of his life, touching on his struggles, pains, hostilities, jealousies, triumphs and above all on his mettā, karuna, cetana for all beings with the greatest kindness for Myanmar people. He managed to complete his autobiography up to 13 days before he expired, the last gap being filled and completed by his devoted disciple Bhadantta Candobhasa.

The Illustrious author, the Venerable Bhaddanta Janakabhivamsa passed away after a short illness, at the age of 78 on the 2nd waning of Nattaw M.E., 27th December 1977, a great loss for all Myanmar and the Buddha Sasana.


It was a day in January 1996 that U Kyi Nyut, President of Theravada Buddhist Organization, Myanmar, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs (Retired) came to see me on behalf of U Sein Lwin, Ex-President of Myanmar.

They had worked together in their respective capacities in the previous governments of Myanmar in the cause of purification and propagation of Theravada Buddhism.

U Sein Lwin was greatly interested in the works of the late Venerable Bhadantha Janakabhivamsa of Amarapura, especially treatises meant for lay devotees. He was particularly eager to have the work entitled “Abhidhamma in Daily Life” to be translated into English. He fully believed that an English translation of the book would facilitate wide circulation of the good advices given by the noble author for the welfare and happiness of mankind. U Sein Lwin was assured of financial and other help needed for the translation and publication of the translated book by his good Dhamma friend U Chu Sein of 290/E U Wisara Road, Yangon, who already had donated a JivitaDana hospital for Buddhist monks in Mandalay and who was also a devoted dayaka (a lay supporter) of the Venerable author of “Abhidhamma in Daily Life.”

The two of them, after envisaging the translation project, approached the five Nayaka Sayadaws who form the Board of Trustee of the late Sayadaw's works and are in charge of the Maha Gandharama Monastery of Amarapura. Upon informing the Board of Trustees Theras of their intention, they were told of a previous proposal by a lecturer of Yangon University while the author was still alive. The author did not approve of the proposal at that time, as he felt doubtful whether the translation could be faithful to the substance and mood of what he would like to convey.

The Trustees Theras however did not object to the present project and gave them full permission for translation provided it would reproduce the great Sayadaw's expositions as well as the style, the language and the tone in which they are rendered.

The project appeared to have been started about 5 years ago, 1992, the original translation being undertaken by Kaba Aya U Chit Tin and U Han Htay, retired officials of the Department of Religious Affairs. U Kyi Nyunt showed me the bulky bundle of translation manuscript and made the request to me on behalf of U Sein Lwin and U Chu Shein to edit the translation and give necessary assistance for its publication.

U Kyi Nyunt was well acquainted with my literary commitments and preoccupations. Since 1989, I have been engaged in translating into English six volumes in eight books of the Great Chronicle of Buddhas in Myanmar, which is based on the Pali Text, Buddhavamsa and written by the Most Venerable Mingun Sayasaw Bhaddanta Vicittasarabhivamsa. I am also working as a guest professor at the State Pariyatti Sasana University, Kaba Aye, Yangon.

In spite of his understanding of my position, U Kyi Nyunt pressed on me the task of editing the manuscript, writing the biography of the author and the necessary foreword, saying that he wanted to give the assurance to the Trustees Sayadaws and U Sein Lwin that the translated book represents a faithful rendering of the author's work in English.

I had but to accept his entreaties with the proviso that I would have an assistant of mine go through the translation manuscript first before I would do the review with him as a final editorial supervision. The young assistant was the late U Khin Maung Kyi, a graduate of the Military Academy with a Master degree in English Literature and also with a Master degree in Journalism from Chicago. I was coaching him to succeed me as a translator of Myanmar treatises on Buddhism authored by illustrious Myanmar Theras.

But alas! An unfortunate fatal car accident on a journey back from Pyin Oo Lwin to Yangon dashed all our hopes and plans for future literary works together.

U Khin Maung Kyi left behind him a complete draft of the corrected translation manuscript, which he has gone through with some meticulous care but over which we had had no opportunity to discuss, deliberate and decide together. I had no alternative but to eke out my scarce free moments to go over the whole translation again by myself.

Although the initial translation and editing of this work had been undertaken by respective writers, as stated above, the final redaction had been carried out entirely by myself. I, alone am responsible for any shortcomings that may be found in the final published work.

The burden of bringing this book out had been thrust into my hands by my good Dhamma friend, U Kyi Nyunt, but I am pleased to say that I had looked upon it and undertaken it as a labor of love, devotion and merit. After all the Most Venerable Sayadaw was not stranger to me.

In my last years at the High School in Sagaing, I kept hearing about this up-coming Sayadaw I Janakabhivamsi of Maha Gandharama Monastery of Amarapura, which was just across the river from our Tagaung Ward in Sagaing. He had been bringing our student handbooks on Pali Grammar and numerous sub-commentaries on Patika Texts for guidance and assistance to novices and Bhikkhus who were studying the Tipitaka in various monasteries all over Myanmar, preparing themselves for examinations held annually by the State and many religious organizations.

The first books specially written for lay devotees appeared in 1293 M.E. (1932) when he was at the age 32 and had been in the Order for 13 years. It was Ratana Gonyi. The Attributes of Three Jewels, which deals with incomparable virtues of the Buddha, his Teaching the Dhamma and his disciples, the Sangha. It has gone through twelve editions; I still have the copy of the first edition given to me as a gift by a nun who was supported by my parents. And I still remember all the words she said, “Read this book, Ko Lay, carefully all the time to become a devoted Buddhist.”

Rataba Gongyi is the first of the three most popular books written by the Sayadaw, especially for the lay disciples whom he so ardently desired to understand the attributes of the Buddha, the essence of his Teaching and to put into daily practice the exhortations of the Master.

The second book, “Ko Kyint Abhidhamma - Abhidhamma in Daily Life” was first published in 1294 M.E. (1933) and has gone through thirteen editions by January 1995. Of the three Pitakas, consisting of Vinaya, Suttanta and Abhidhamma, the last Pitaka, Abhidhamma, is the most abstruse, the most difficult one dealings as it does with the absolutes, the ultimate truths. Its subject matter requires deep, careful study guided by competent teachers and belongs to the sphere of learning of Bhikkhus and nuns, who have devoted their lives to pursue the Pariyatti Studies.

Nevertheless, as it forms the core of the Buddha's teaching, it is essential that every devoted follower of the Teacher should have a basic understanding of the Abhidhamma and should be able to make use of the essential exhortation in all their dealings in daily life. Out of great compassion for the lay devotees, the Sayadaw had employed portions of his precious time in preparing an Abhidhamma treatise in Myanmar intermixed with Suttanta teachings in easy, understandable language, ready for practical application to daily life.

The third important book meant for the Bhikkhus as well as the laity is “Anagat Thathanaye - The Future of Sasana,” which was published in 1310 M.E. (1948), when he had been become a senior Thera and gained mature experience as the head of a big institution turning out future leaders of Buddhist religion. Intensely patriotic, fill of novel ideas for developing Myanmar into a modern state, he finished writing this book on the eve of declaration of Independence of Myanmar. He had outlined therein how Myanmar could achieve progress and prosperity through practical applications of Buddha's teaching and how Sasana could be maintained, purified and propagated through many new reformations ha had proposed.

I had the good fortune of becoming quite close to Sayadaw when I founded the University of Mandalay, the first one established in Independent Myanmar. Inspired by the same motives and same ideas of bringing up Myanmar to the modern era through education and through following basic principles of Buddhism, from 1947 till 1963 when I retired from the University service, I made many a trip to the Sayadaw's Monastery to discuss with him on many educational and spiritual reforms which should be brought about in Myanmar and Myanmar society.

Hence when U Kyi Nyunt brought to me this task of bringing out the revered Sayadaw's book into English, it was not altogether a fresh assignment for me, but rather an activating of one of the many projects I used to discuss with the late author whom I most respectfully revered and honor.

“Abhidhamma in Daily Life” has been acclaimed as the best introduction to Buddha's Noble Teaching, especially as a useful guide to the knowledge of Abhidhamma. The Venerable Sayadaw had written in a clear effective style for the benefit of lay readers as well as for serious scholars. This English version, I hope, will provide basic Buddhism, not only for academic knowledge but also to help one to become a good person in a daily life.

I have kept close to the original as far as possible in the matter of substance, the style of presentation and use of simple language. I venture to hope that my task may prove useful to all who are wishing to follow the Path of Righteousness in their daily life.

May the noble wishes of the revered author, namely Supreme Peace and Happiness for all be accomplished throughout the world.

U Ko Lay
Guest Professor,
State Pariyatti Sasana University
Kaba-Aye, Yangon,
The full-moon day of Tagu, 1359 ME
22nd April 1997


Paja sabba sussayantu
Vutthahantu sumangalam
Dusentu duggatim gamim
Purentu sabbparamim \\

May all beings residing in their respective dwellings sleep soundly and dream pleasure dreams! Being blessed in glory, may they wake early in the morning with auspiciousness! May they be able to abstain from evil deeds, which lead to the four woeful abodes. May they be able to fulfill the thirty perfections incessantly and attain spiritual maturity stage by stage!

Taking into consideration the situation of the present day, we will find that the (Bharamacariya) moral virtues, namely, loving-kindness (mettā), compassion (karuna) and sympathetic joy (Mudita) appear to have ceased to flourish, to have dried up in the human mind. The fire (element) generated by beings through such cessation of virtues incinerates even the virtuous, who thus find living a good moral life difficult.

What is meant by the Fire Element?

The fire (element) is the burgeoning of (lobha) greed, (dosa) hatred, (mana) conceit, (issa) envy and (macchariya) jealousy, leaving neither sympathy nor compassion for one another. That fire element cause drying up pf virtuous elements not only in the present but also in the coming existences in (samsara) the round of rebirths. Therefore people should endeavor this very life to the best of their ability to extinguish the fire element and seek to reside steeped in the cool elements of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, which are also the four sublime stages of living.

What is Samsara?

The world of beings is not to be mistaken as samsara. The continuous coming into existence of (citta) and (cetasika) mind and mental factors together with (rupa) matter in succession is called samsara in the ultimate sense [sam = in succession; sara = appearing.]

What are Human, Deva and Brahma?

Citta and cetasika are collectively called the mind (nama) element. The successive coming into existence of this nama and material (rupa) element in combination is nominally called human, Deva and Brahma or person, being, he, she, woman, etc. In the ultimate sense, there are no humans, Devas or Brahmas, or other beings apart from nama and rupa.

Why do Nama and Rupa Come into Existence?

Nama and rupa do not come into successive existence without cause. They arise because of perceptions of external objects experienced at the present and the deeds (kamma) done in the past existences preserved in one's continuum. Hence, note that the two root causes of nama and rupa are external perceptions and past deeds.

Important Causes

Of the two causes, the external perceptions experienced are not so important, because they only serve as images that bring about various internal mind (consciousness). The important thing is to harness one's internal mind when perceiving various external objects, good or bad.

“If the internal mind is always good, all the nama and rupa of future existences will also be good.” Even through one has passed away from one existence, good nama and rupa will appear again, as good humans, good Devas and good Brahmas. If their internal minds are wicked, beings will be reborn in (niraya) hell of become (peta) ghosts, of animals with ugly minds and bodies.

Proper Attitude (Yoniso) Will Produce a Good Mind

Only when there is yoniso, the mind will be good. Judicious consideration of whatever you come across is called yoniso manasikara. Nowadays people tend to abbreviate yoniso manasikara into yosino. Due to proper attitude, unwholesome mind will not appear; only wholesome mind will arise. Wrongful consideration will not foster a good mind even under favorable circumstances for its arising. Correct mental attitude is therefore, the most important for all beings to acquire a good mind.

Rightful and wrongful attitude or thinking arise from (1) reading good books or not, and (2) learning from the wise or not. Those who read good books and those who learn from the wise will amass useful knowledge. Consequently they will make resolutions to better their minds and to develop rightful mode of thinking on perceiving various external sense objects.

Those who neither read good books nor learn from the wise not amass useful knowledge and will not be able to better their mind or to cultivate good thoughts.

Therefore, a new treatise entitled “Abhidhamma in Daily Life” is written for the welfare of people, with a view to assist them in acquiring good conduct.

The author's aim can be summarized as follows:

  • 1. For the reader to develop rightful attitude regarding the objects and senses perceived, to be always broad-minded, to live the way of (Brahmacariya) noble living, and to conduct a harmonious life.
  • 2. For the reader to be always in good mind, to develop an unwavering attitude towards life and to be able to live in grace whether they be wealthy and happy being successful and prosperous, or whether they are poor and unhappy meeting with failure and calamity.
  • 3. For the reader to be able to fulfill the perfections (parami) such as Dana (charity), sīla (morality) etc. in this existence so that they may be reborn in happy abodes in the existences to come till the attainment of supreme bliss of Nibbāna.

? Maxim:

Just as you look at your image in the mirror daily and tidy yourself, you should read this treatise and reflect on yourself everyday.

Ashin Janakabhivamsa
Nayaka Sayadaw of Mahagandharama Monastery
Amarapura, Mandalay Division.

Chapter One

Parāmaṭṭha: The Ultimates And Citta (Mind)

The Four Ultimates (Parāmaṭṭha)

Parāmaṭṭha is a Pāḷi term, which means truth in the highest sense. The ultimate are those which are immutable, [Parama + attha = immutable + intrinsic nature]. The four ultimates (paramattha) are mind or consciousness (citta), mental factors (cetasika), matter (rūpa) and the only absolute reality (Nibbāna).

How They Are Immutable

The mental factors (cetasikas) include lobha which is greed and dosa which is hatred, lobha never changes its intrinsic nature of greed whether it appears in the mind continuum of the wise, the virtuous, the wicked or the dogs. Dosa also never changes its nature of hatred or ill will in whosoever beings. It should be noted that other ultimates also maintain their intrinsic natures in the same way.

The ultimates are free from bias or partially, and they always manifest by themselves on their own nature. The intrinsic nature of things should be earnestly digested and understood as explained here, so as to know the mental states of other people as well as one's own.


i) The real essence, being constant, steadfast and unchangeable is called an ultimate (paramattha)

ii) There are four kinds of ultimates, namely mind (consciousness), mental factors, matter and Nibbāna.

Citta (Mind Or Consciousness)

That Which is Conscious of An Objects is Mind

We are conscious of objects all the time. This nature of awareness of objects is called mind or consciousness. Here awareness does not mean comprehension by knowledge or wisdom. It means ability to take in objects through sense organs.

Six objects of senses, six forms of consciousness:

  • i. All forms of sight (ruparammana)
  • ii All forms of sound (saddarammana)
  • iii. All forms of smell (gandharammana)
  • iv. All forms of taste (rasarammana)
  • v. All forms of touch (photthabbarammana)
  • vi. All other perceptible senses (dhammarammana)

On seeing a visible object, consciousness of sight appears. On hearing a sound, consciousness of smell appears. On sampling a scent, consciousness of smell appears. On feeling a touch, consciousness of touch appears. On perceiving those five objects of senses and all other perceptible senses, consciousness of mind appears. Thus, the capability of taking in an object concerned is called mind or consciousness (citta).

The Nature of Mind

“Mind can travel afar, it wanders alone. It has no material form and it generally originates in the cardiac cavity (hadaya),” according to the Dhammapada Pali. It will be explained in detail as expounded therein.

a. Mind can travel afar

The mind does not move physically away like a man walking. But as it can take in an object at a distance far away from where you are, it seems as if it has gone there. For example; while you are in Mandalay and think of something or someone in Yangon, your mind does not actually travel to Yangon, but registers its awareness of Yangon while still in Mandalay. As it can perceive an object at distance, it is said, “Mind can travel afar.”

b. Mind wanders alone

Consciousness appears and vanishes very swiftly. More than one lakh crore of units of consciousness can appear and vanish within one snap of fingers. The appearance and vanishing are so swift that two or three units of consciousness seem to be able to perceive two or three objects at the same time. As a matter of fact, two or three units of consciousness do not appear at the same time. They appear one after another in very quick succession. After one unit of consciousness has perceived an object, another one takes in another object in quick succession.

While sitting on a scented bed, eating and watching singers, and dancers, we notice that there are five senses objects present, namely, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The mind does not take in these five objects all at the same time. Only after perceiving the object, which we prefer most, we perceive other objects one after another. Thus, two or three or many units of consciousness do not appear at the same time. Consciousness appears one at a time, so it is said, “Mind wanders solitary.”

Moreover, by the word 'wander', it does not mean going about; it can take in an object at a far away location. In perceiving a sense object a single unit of consciousness is not enough for full comprehension. A good number of units of consciousness are required to appear after another in succession. As many billions of such units can appear and vanish within one snap of fingers we think we perceive a form as soon as we see it; we know a sound as soon as we hear it; or an aroma as soon as we smell it or we fell a touch as soon as we come into contact with it.

c. Mind has no material form

The mind has no form or shape. So, we cannot say that it is white or black or fat or thin. It is only the perceptibility, the capability of cognizing an object.

d. As if dwelling in the cave

Consciousness of seeing originates in the eyes; consciousness of hearing originates in the ears; consciousness of smelling originates in the nose; consciousness of taste originates in the tongue; consciousness of touch originates in the body organs. Though some forms of consciousness originate thus in the eye, ear, nose, etc., most forms consciousness originate in the cardiac cavity. Therefore it is said, figuratively, “as if dwelling in the cave”.

In brief, it should be noted that mind (consciousness) has no form; it can perceive a sense object; it has the nature of cognizing an object. While in the process of cognition it does not go out of its dwelling even for a hair's breadth, but it can perceive objects far away. Two or three units of consciousness do not appear simultaneously. Each unit appears only one after another in succession.


The mind can take in sense object; it travels afar; Wanders alone; has not physical form; Dwells in the cardiac cavity.

How Good and Bad Minds Mingle with Each Other

As consciousness appears and vanishes very quickly, the good and bad or the wholesome and unwholesome units of consciousness mingle even in a short time of five minutes. Getting up early in the morning, you pay homage to the Buddha and acquire a good mind. At that time when you hear someone calling you to go shopping, you develop greed. As someone comes and says something detrimental, you tend to get angry.

Even when you are involved in greed while doing some trading, if you happen to think of giving charity; that is a wholesome thought of saddha (belief in beneficial effects of charity). When you are angry with someone or something, you happen to remember your teacher's advice or admonition and good mindfulness appears again.

While the husband and wife are chatting with lust in mind, they become angry because of some misunderstanding. When one of them makes an apology and proposes reconciliation, the mind becomes tender and lustful again. As consciousness changes very quickly, you should carefully differentiate between good and bad units of consciousness whenever they appear and try to cultivate many units of wholesome consciousness.

As Matter (Forms) are Different, Minds are Different

Just as the form or shape of a man is different from that of another, so the mind of one person is also unlike that of another. Just as a heavy, clumsy body is quite different from an animated, sprightly, so an obtuse stolid mind is quite different from a vivacious, sparkling one. There are beautiful and lovely persons who outdo others in beauty and charm. In the cases of ugliness also, there are ugly persons who are as base as peta (ghosts) or demons. Concerning different kinds of good and sharp minds, there are minds of varying grades from the ordinary to the unique. Likewise concerning different kinds of bad and evil minds, there are varying degrees of wickedness and abject stupidity. Just as there are differing degrees of gracefulness in physique with those winning the laurels of beauty and charm at the top, there are different classes of unsightliness, with peta and demons at the bottom step of ugliness. Similarly, there are different grades of wholesome group of minds ranging from the ordinary to the most noble spirits with the sharpest of intellects, and different levels of unwholesome category of mind stretching from the wicked, evil, repulsive types to the most heinous with abject stupidity.

Mind Can Be Tamed

If someone born and brought up in the country emulates the vogue and way of living of the urbanites, trains oneself physically and mentally, one's rupa (physical appearance) will also change and becomes fashionable and stylist within one or two years beyond recognition by their old acquaintance. Thus if physical forms which are slow to change can be made to improve, why shouldn't it be possible to tame their minds which will soon be able to monitor and suppress unwholesome elements in their unruly mind and develop its wholesome nature to the point of gaining one's own esteem.

Why The Mind Should Be Reformed

There are many reasons why we should reform our minds. We ourselves know best the weakness and foibles of our minds. Even though some wicked people attain high status in worldly affairs, if they can even mean or base in moral character, they will be reborn in lower abodes in their next existences. For this reason they should reform their minds and become noble.

The wicked will lose self-respect. Their brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, Bhikkhu (monks) to whom they make offerings and their intimates will not love, revere and respect them. Lest they should thus be looked down upon by their intimates, they should reform their minds and become pure, honest and noble.

Moreover, people cannot believe that the wicked will be honest and sincere even they give away in Dana (charity), observe sīla (precepts) and practice bhāvanā (meditation). Because of their wickedness their kamma will not bring wholesome benefits. Thus out of fear of getting unwholesome consequences they should reform their minds and become pure, honest and noble.

Moreover, the wicked will be wicked not only in the present existence, but their evil nature will continue to prevail successively in great many future existences. Because their entire physical and mental continuum have been suffused with wicked minds, it is impossible for them to attain sufficiency of accumulated virtues. Therefore for fear of not becoming mature in Perfections (Parami), they should discipline their wicked minds immediately. These are the reasons why people should reform their minds.

How King Milinda Disciplined His Mind

Having asked the Venerable Nagasena some questions, King Milinda thought of asking more questions that would be very important for sasana (the Teaching of the Buddha). However, he waited for seven days and disciplined his mind concentration. This is quite a good example for the virtuous to follow.

How he prepared himself. He rose early in the morning, took a bath, attired himself in a dyed yellow dress and put on a headdress concealing his hair to resemble a shaven head. In other words, he attired himself like a Bhikkhu though he was not one and observed meticulously the following Eight Precepts for seven whole days:

  • i. I will not perform regal duties for seven days.
  • ii. I will restrain myself from raga (greed).
  • iii. I will restrain myself from dosa (hatred).
  • iv. I will restrain myself from moha (delusion).
  • v. I will be humble and modest in dealing with my subjects and courtiers and restrain myself from conceit.
  • v. I will carefully restrain my words and actions.
  • vi. I will restrain my sense organs i.e. eyes, ears, etc., to be free from unwholesome thoughts when seeing, hearing and experiencing sense-objects.
  • viii. I will radiate loving-kindness to all living beings.

He observed these Eight Precepts for seven days, and on the eighth day he rose in the morning, and in a cheerful, cool and calm attitude he asked the Venerable Nagasena questions on the profound Dhamma.

A Good Example

Following the example of King Milinda, good people should often practice restraining their minds even if it is for one or two days for just one morning so that evil thoughts that habitually arise shall not appear. By repeating practice of restraining their minds, evil thoughts will get diminished and they will become noble and virtuous with development of faith and knowledge. Evil thoughts that occur will not appear for many days.

The mind guides the world.
The mind leads the world.
All beings have to submit to the will of the mind.


Just as you prepare yourself properly before posing for a photograph so as to gets a good one. Just so you should control your series of thoughts daily as a preparation for your journey to the royal city of peace Nibbāna.

Chapter Two

Cetasikas (Mental Factors) And Akusala Cetasikas (Unwholesome Mental Factors)

Cetasikas (Mental Factors Of Concomitants)

Cetasikas Determine the Mind

In the chapter on citta (mind), the concepts of good and evil mind have already been explained. But as the only function of the mind is to know the objects, it cannot by itself make good or evil. It arises together with different mental factors cetasikas; it becomes good or evil accordingly under the influence of good or evil mental factors. Mental factors associated with the mind induce it to become good or evil.

For example: Even though water is in itself colorless it becomes red, yellow, blue or black dye. In like manner the mind behaves. Therefore, you should next pursue the study of mental factors so that you may understand good and evil minds.


Mind can only know objects; it by itself cannot determine good and evil. It is on account of the different cetasikas (mental factors) that the mind becomes good or evil.

Akusala Cetasikas (Unwholesome Mental Factors)

1. Moha (Delusion)

The Kinds Of Moha

Not knowing (delusion) is moha, it is of two kinds, namely, anusaya moha and pariyutthana moha. The term anusaya means inherent tendency or lying latent. The term pariyutthana means rising up. Therefore delusion, which always accompanies the mind of beings, is called anusaya moha, the latent delusion. The delusion that occasionally arises together with the mind is called pariyutthana moha, the rising-up delusion.

a. Anusaya Moha

Just as there is poison in a tree that bears poisonous fruits; just so in the mind-continuum of beings, there is an element (dhatu), which keeps hidden the Dhamma that ought to be known. That element is called anusaya moha, the latent delusion. Because of the concealing action of anusaya moha, worldlings (puthujjana) are unable to realize penetratingly the three characteristics of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and non-self (anattā), neither do they grasp the Four Noble Truths nor the Law of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada), in a comprehensive manner.

Worldlings cannot identify the latent delusion with their limited knowledge. Nowadays, even though people claim to know about anicca, dukkha, anattā, etc. through book learning, their knowledge is superficial; it is not clear, penetrative realization. Even when one becomes a stream-winner (Sotāpanna), once-returner (Sakadagami) or non-returner (Anagami), anusaya moha only becomes thinner and thinner. Only when one attains Arahatship, the anusaya moha dhatu, the latent delusion is completely eliminated. Therefore, even at the moment of performing good deeds or wholesome actions before becoming an Arahat, anusaya moha, is present; it is only lying latent and quiet.

b. Pariyutthana Moha

When moha arises together with the mind it is said that the bad mind, the unwholesome one; has appeared. Because of the concealing nature of this pariyutthana moha, evil consequences, which one may suffer in future, are not understood. And the evil of unwholesome actions of the present are also not understood. Therefore, even the learned and virtuous cannot see the evils of moha and will commit wrong deeds when moha arises. This moha in the domain of evils is the most wicked. In this world all wickedness and stupidity originate from moha; moha is the taproot of all evil.

The Wise Overwhelmed by Delusion

The Bodhisattva, Haritaca by name, having renounced the world, abandoning his immense wealth of eight crores of money became a hermit and attained the great supernatural power (jhana-abhinna). Then, as the rains were heavy in the Himalayas, he came to Baranasi and stayed in the King's garden. The King of Baranasi was his old friend who was fulfilling perfections parami to become the Venerable ānanda. Therefore, as soon as he saw the hermit, he revered him so much that he asked him to stay in the royal garden and supported him with four requisites; he himself used to offer the hermit morning meals at the palace.

Once, a rebellion broke out in the country, the King himself had to go out to quell it. Before setting out with his army, he requested the queen again and again not to forget to look after the hermit. The queen did as told. One early morning, she took a bath with scented water and put on fine cloths and lay down on the couch awaiting for the hermit.

The Bodhisattva came through space with his supernormal power (abhinna), and arrived at the palace window. Hearing the flutter of the hermit's robe, the queen hastily rose from her cough and her dress fell off her. Seeing the naked queen, the anusaya moha which lay dormant in his mind-continuum, rose to the stage of pariyutthana moha, and filled with lust, he took the queen's hand and committed immoral transgression like a monster ogre.


We should consider the stupidity arising through moha in this story seriously. If such moha did not appear in him, he would not have committed such as evil deed even with the King's consent. But at the time, being overwhelmed by the darkness of delusion, he was unable to see evils of deed in the present and in future existences through out samsara, and consequently committed that improper transgression. The jhana-abhinna, which he acquired through practice for all his life, was unable to dispel the darkness of moha; instead, being overwhelmed by moha the jhana-abhinna powers themselves vanished from him.

But the hermit, being already quite matured in the perfection parami, learnt a bitter lesson and greatly repented his deed on the return of the King. He endeavored again and again his jhana-abhinna and contemplating, “I have done wrong because of dwelling in close proximity with the people,” return to the Himalayas.

Not Knowing is Not Always Moha

As moha is explained as not knowing, some people think that not knowing a subject which one has not studied, not knowing places where one has not been to, not remembering names which one has not been acquainted with, are also moha. Such kind of not knowing, is merely lack of knowledge; it is not real moha at all; hence it is not unwholesome mental factor; it is merely the absence of recognition, perceptions (sañña) not having perceived it before. Even Arahats have such kind of not-knowing, let alone ordinary common worldling.

Even the Venerable Shariputra, who is second only to the Buddha in wisdom, taught meditation practice inappropriate to a young Bhikkhu. Thinking that the young Bhikkhu was at the lustful age, he prescribed asubha kammatthana, meditation on unpleasant objects (e.g. decaying corpses), which did not go with his pupil's disposition. Even though the pupil meditated for four months, he could not get the slightest nimitta, sign of concentration.

Then he was taken to the Buddha who created and gave him a lotus blossom suitable to his disposition, and he was delighted. And when the Buddha showed him the lotus flower withering, he felt samvega, a religious sense of urgency. The Buddha the have the discourse designed to make him realize the characteristics of anicca, dukkha, anattā and he became an Arahant. Herein note the infinite knowledge of the Buddha; also note that there are things not known to the Venerable Shariputra who was already free from delusion.

Thus, even the Venerable Shariputra did not know things beyond his ken. Thus not knowing things, which have not been taught, and those which belong to the domain of the sages is not moha. It is merely the frailty of their knowledge or learning. For example, take the case of a man who cannot see a far away object in broad daylight. It is not due to a barrier concealing the object from eyesight; it is because of the weakness of his eyesight.

Gross and Fine Moha

The moha, which cannot discern between what is unwholesome or vice and what is wholesome or virtue is rather gross. The moha, which prevents realization of anicca, dukkha, anattā nature of mind and matter, the Four Noble Truth, and the Law of Dependent Origination, is comparatively fine moha. The mind, which is accompanied by moha, is called “delusive mind, foolish mind” and one who is over-powered by delusion is called variously “the fool, the nincompoop, the dumb, the dull, the wild, the stupid the useless.”

“This world is in utter darkness. Only few people in this world can perceive extraordinary. Just as only a few birds can escape from the net, people can be reborn in the abode of Devas after death are very few in number.” Dhammapada V.174

2. Ahirika (Lack Of Moral Shame)

Lack of moral shame is called ahirika. All immoral unwholesome deeds are like feces. Shameless (ahirika) is like a village swine. Feces is very disgusting; being soiled with it, is embarrassing in the presence of people. But the swine feces is fine food. It is not disgusting and so there in no need to be embarrassed when soiled with it. Swine’s surely enjoy rolling about in feces and partaking of it.

In the same way, wrong deeds (duccarita) such as taking life, etc. are detestable deeds of the virtuous. Even when such deeds are committed unwittingly, it will be regarded shamefully by the virtuous. But ahirika is not having detestation to do wrong deeds and not feeling ashamed of the wrong act. As a matter of fact, the shameless among themselves regard wrong deeds as something to take pride in.

When moha arises, it leads to ahirika; so even the wise do wrong shamelessly when deluded. Therefore, those who are acclaimed to be wise should judge with their own experienced the truth of what is said.


In the misbehavior of the hermit Haritaca (see previous section on moha) shameless is very prominent. The hermit was a holy man of the first grade virtue who had already attained abhinna (the higher knowledge). When the hermit did was shameful act of lust committed in the presence of the attendants of the queen in the upper chamber of the palace. Such a mean and degrading act was committed because of utter delusion (moha) and shameless (ahirika).

Every Unwholesome Deed is Shameful

Not only dishonorable acts like that of the hermit but also acts of hatred such as abusing others, fuming and shouting, using coarse vulgar language, being puffed up with vain conceit, looking down upon others with foolish pride, decrying others in an indirect, allusive manner our of malicious envy, issa, etc. are also disgusting and shameful. Therefore we should bear in mind that all unwholesome deed are shameful. The mind, which arises together with this ahirika, is called 'a shameless mind', and the doer if evils is called 'a shameless man'.

3. Anottappa (Lack Of Moral Dread)

Lack of moral dread is having no fear, no dread (anottappa). In other words anottappa means devoid of moral dread. Evil deeds are like an open flame. Anottappa is like the moths. In fact the open flame is to be very much dreaded. However, moths do not think the open fire as dreadful and recklessly fly into it. Just so, evil deeds cause a variety of sufferings; so they are indeed to be dreaded. But moha, conceals those reluctant sufferings; and anottappa does not see them as dreadful. Those factors prompt the doing of evil deeds boldly. With regard to evil deeds, the following dangers are impending.

  • a. Attanuvada bhaya is the danger of having blame, despise oneself, losing self-respect and having no self-esteem. Such a person will be oppressed by the thought, “Though many people think I am a virtuous gentleman, I know myself; I am not a virtuous man as they think so. I am wicked man who does evil deeds thievishly.” (atta = oneself + anuvada = blame)
  • b. Paranuvada bhaya is the danger of being blamed, being despised by others in this way, “You are a wicked one, doing unwholesome, evil deeds.” (para = by others + anuvada = blame)
  • c. Danda bhaya is the danger of sufferings and punishments such as being killed by others for having committed murder; being beaten by the owner for having stolen his property; being killed for committing adultery; being imprisoned for vicious criminal acts.
  • d. Duggati bhaya is the danger of suffering from great remorse over one's evil deeds only on one's deathbed and the prospect of being reborn in the four woeful abodes in the next existence.

Through artfulness; guile and cunning, one may be able to avoid the first three dangers brought about by his evil deeds, but one will not be able to avoid the danger of falling into the four planes of misery in the next existences. Hence evil deeds are very dreadful indeed. However, when anottappa steps in, even the wise who normally dread evil acts are inclined to commit fearful deeds without shame or dread.


Herein, the case of the Bodhisattva (the hermit Haritaca) should be reviewed. There are so many dreadful things in the story. Needless to say, the hermit suffered from the danger of blaming himself and losing self-respect (attanuvada-bhaya). As the bad news, “the King's teacher, the hermit had done wrong with the queen,” spread over the whole town during the absence of the King, he suffered from the danger of being blamed by others (paranuvada bhaya).

If the King, the would-be ānanda, were not a virtuous man fulfilling parami perfections, he would have not cared for the hermit's life as much as a blade of grass for his transgressions. It was on account of the King's virtue that he narrowly escaped from being sentenced to death. As anottappa came in, the hermit dared to commit such as immoral act without fear of capital punishment. The mind, which arises together with this recklessness, is called anottappa citta.

Just as the village swine does not abhor feces, the shameless man is not ashamed of his evils. Just as the moth does not fear the open flame, the man void of ottappa (dread of sin) does not fear evil deeds. (From Vibhavani Tika)

4. Uddhacca (Distraction Or Wavering)

Uddhacca means distraction. It may also be called the unsettled state of mind. Just as minute particle of ash fly about when a stone is thrown into a heap of ash, the mind which cannot rest quickly on an object but flits about from object to object is said to be distracted. The mind arising together with uddhacca is called the distracted mind. When one is overpowered by distraction, one will become a drifter, a floater, a loafer, an aimless person.

Nanda Thera's Inability to Concentrate

When Nanda, the young prince was about to marry Janapada Kalyani, Buddha took him to the monastery and ordained him a Bhikkhu. He was so distracted that he could not concentrate on the Dhamma, his mind wandering back often to Princess Janapada Kalyani. In this story, Prince Nanda's state of mind, which is unable to concentrate on Dhamma, is a good example of uddhacca.

The Feeble Power of Uddhacca

Uddhacca, is the inability to concentrate on any object steadfastly. Being distracted, one's mind wanders from this object to that object. Although, uddhacca is akusala (unwholesome) nature, because it does no evil deeds effectively, it has no power to throw one into the four woeful worlds (papayas) as greed, hatred and delusion do.

5. Lobha (Greed)

Lobha is greed, i.e., craving for sensual pleasure. But wanting to attain Nibbāna, wanting to get Dhamma, wanting to be learned, wanting wealth for giving charity to the poor, are not lobha. They are called desire (chanda), which will be dealt with later.

Other Terms for Greed

Lobha is also termed pema or tanha or raga or samudaya. The term pema is used for the love exchanged between sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives or members of the family, relatives, etc. therefore, pema means sincere love. This kind of sincere love is also called samyojana, which means binding. Samyojana binds one person to another as a rope does. It makes one inseparable from the other.

The five senses, namely, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are sensuous objects; desired and cherished by people, they are called kamaguna [kama = desirable + guna = cords].

Like hunger and thirst, intense desire for these desirable objects that surpass ordinary wish is called tanha. One who hankers after another of the opposite sex is labeled 'mad with lust'. Tanha means craving or hunger. Of the five sensuous objects, bodily touch (sexual union) is the most longed for, when it is called lust (raga). Raga also means clinging or attachment for something. Just as color fastening on dyed cloth, raga is lobha, which cling to a person. [These are not literal meanings; they are classified according to common usage.]

In the classification of the Four Noble Truth, lobha is termed samudaya. It means the cause of suffering-to-be. All beings who cannot do away with lobha have to wander round and round in the cycle of rebirths accompanied by suffering.

The suffering, immense or petty, being undergone bow by all beings, originates in this tanha, lobha or samudaya. Therefore the more intense the greed, the more severe the suffering, and vie versa. If there is no greed, there is no suffering at all. The mind, which arises with lobha, is called the greedy mind, craving mind, lustful mind, or bonded mind. Persons with such minds are called the greedy, the craving, the lustful or the fettered.

Greed Does Not Get Diminished

If greed, which is called craving or lust, is not controlled by Dhamma, and allowed to go on by itself, it will never get diminished. As the protruding horn of a calf grows longer and longer as it grows older, the greed of a man, which accompanies him since the embryonic stage, increase with age. The aged who cannot control are blamed with the words, “The hair-knot drops with size; foolishness grows with age.”

Drinking Salty Water

Since birth children begin to love their parents, relatives and friends, etc. As they grow old they develop fondness and affection for playmates and friends. As they are being led by basic instinct, they become thirstier and thirstier for love as they had drunk salty water. Then they drink it again and again and become more and more thirsty. Being thirsty for sensuous objects, they indulge in it as they are unable to see the impending sufferings; they swirl about merrily in the sea of love.

“Love! Love! The more they love, the more they are in-satiated, just as they cannot quench their thirst by drinking salty water. Love, pema, tanha turns a blind eye to one's defects; expecting happiness through love, one nurtures love. This is the way of love, the nature of love. ” An Ancient Poem

How Lobha leads to the Four Woeful Abodes

Just as the smallest particle of a stone sinks in water, even petty greed can lead to the four woeful worlds if not supported by wholesome deeds. Therefore, there are many people who have become petas (miserable ghosts) because of attachment to one's spouse, sons, daughters or wealth while on the deathbed. At the time of Lord Buddha, a Bhikkhu became a lice after his death because of attachment to his new robe. It is said that he was emancipated from lice-hood only after seven days.

Lobha will Not lead to the Four Woeful Worlds if Supported by Wholesome Deeds

Even though there is attachment pema, tanha, for each other people will not be thrown to the lower woeful worlds if they get the support of wholesome deeds. For example, a stone sinks in water, but will float if carried on a boat. Therefore, in Jataka stories, there are instances of those who are not yet free from tanha, pema; becoming close partners to fulfill perfections (parami) together.

Point to Ponder

Having established a harmonious relationship, husband and wife do not want to part with each other; they want to fulfill perfections (parami) together and attain Nibbāna. A good lady, Sumitta by name, made a wish to be always together with the Bodhisattva Sumedha, Maha Kassapa-to-be and Buddha-to-be did the same. They fulfilled their parami together for many aeons. Are these instances of wish (chanda, which will be dealt with hereafter) or of tanha, pema? It needs to be pondered upon.


Indeed, the persons in the stories are good virtuous people. The wish to associate with the virtuous is kusala chanda (wholesome willful) desire. They are also persons of morality who are practicing parami. In the Pali Canon, mention is made thus, “The wish of the virtuous is always fulfilled. Through chanda everything is accomplished.” Therefore, even though they may have had tanha pema, which bind them together, because of their strong chanda (wholesome wish) the Bodhisattva etc. became partners in fulfilling parami together as determined by the wholesome deeds they had performed.

“Bhikkhus, the wish of the virtuous is so pure that it will be fulfilled.” Anguttara Nikāya

Nakulapita and Nakulamata

At the time of the Buddha there lived a wealthy man, Nakulapita and his wife, Nakulamata. They had been together for many existences. They had become Sotāpanna Ariya (stream-winners) since they first pay homage to the Buddha. This couple had been the parents, or elder uncle and aunt of the Bodhisattva in many previous existences. They were very fond of the Buddha like their own son and were granted privilege of asking any question. Once the wealthy man said, “Venerable Sir, I took Nakulamata as my wife since my youth, since then I hadn't even thought of infidelity, let alone actually being so. I had always wanted to be in the presence of Nakulamata in the present life and I always want to be so through out the samsara.”

On hearing the words of Nakulapita, his wife also said frankly, “Venerable Sir, I came with him to his house since my youth. Since then I hadn't thought of anyone. I had always wanted to be with him in the present life; and I always to be with him through out the samsara.”

The Buddha said, “If man and wife, who are leading a harmonious life, wish to be together in the next existences, they should have the same faith (saddha), the same morality (sīla), the same liberality (caga) and the same level of knowledge (paññā).”

“As the husband has pure morality, just so she should have. If one of them wishes to give charity, the other must comply. If she donates, he encouraged her. If he donates, she should be delighted. Their wisdom and knowledge must be the same too.

For further clarification, the passage from Pancavudha pyo is translated as follows:

“In the human abode, if husband and wife are in harmony and willing to be together; if they have the same liberality, morality, faith and confidence, they will be together in samsara like glorious Devas and Devis who are together in the heavenly abodes all along the cycle of rebirths.”


The love between husband and wife, who had already become Sotāpanna (stream-winner) should be considered first. As they love each other sincerely enough, they did not think of being unfaithful. As their minds were so pure they hold each other in high esteem and did not want to be separated from each other. They always wanted to be together in samsara. Although such a wish to be together is chanda, desire founded on lobha (greed), tanha pema lobha of these virtuous noble people would bind them to each other, and all their meritorious actions would lead them to a good destination.


In some cases, tanha lobha is called maya. Therefore, the nature of maya will be explained herein. Maya is like a magician, a conjurer. Just as the magician picks up a stone and makes the audience believe it to be gold nugget; just so maya does conceal one's faults. It means one who exercises maya pretends to be flawless though he is not.

Woman's Maya

Once there was a professor and his pupil. The pupil's wife used to do wrong with another man. On the day of doing wrong she waited upon her husband more tenderly than ever. But, on the day of doing no wrong, she used to treat him as a slave. The pupil was unable to understand the peculiar mood of his wife. He was confused and related his experience to his professor. The professor had to expound to him the nature of women.


In the story, as she wanted to conceal her faults on the day of adultery, she pretended to be very affectionate to her husband. The artfulness, craftiness, is maya. In some cases it is also called Tankhanuppatti nana, instant wit. (Tankhana = at that moment; uppatti Nana = knowledge appears). It is not real knowledge, but only spurious knowledge or simple cleverness. Real knowledge is concerned with only good matter.

A Crafty Wife

A housewife used to do wrong thing with her manservant. Once her husband saw her kissing the servant. As she noticed that she had been seen, she went to the husband and said, “Darling, this lad is dishonest. He had eaten your share of cookies. When I asked him, he denied. So I sniffed his mouth, and go the smell of cookies. We should not let him stay in our house.”


In the story, the act of kissing the servant was a grave offence. The clever sudden thought of deceiving her misdeed is none other than maya. Not only woman but also men have such maya (trickeries or pretences).

The Hermit's Maya

Once there lives at a village a hermit revered by a layman donor. For fear of robbers, the layman donor hid one hundred pieces of gold in a hole near the hermit's monastery and said, “Venerable Sir, please take care of it.” The hermit said, “Devotee, it is not proper to ask a hermit to do so.”

Then a thought occurred to the hermit, “One hundred pieces of gold will be sufficient for me to live in comfort,” and he dug up the gold and hid it in another place close to a chosen footpath. On the next day, after having his breakfast, the hermit said, “My donor, I have been living here for so long that I must move to another place.” The donor requested him again and again ot to do so, but his pleadings were all in vain. All he could do was to see the hermit off at the village gate.

After traveling some distance, the hermit returned and said, “Devotee donor! A blade of thatch from your roof is entangled in my hair. It is improper for a hermit to take things which are not given to him.” The simple donor thought him to be so virtuous that he revered him even more.

However, at that moment, a very wise guest putting up at his house said, “have you ever asked the hermit to keep anything under his care? If so, please go and see.” When he did so he could not find the gold, so together with the guest, they pursued the hermit and caught him red handed.


In the story, the hermit returned a blade of thatch to the devotee, in order to hide his theft; this wily act amounts to maya. Thus, as deceit, stratagems (pariyaya, maya) can be employed even by some hermits or samanas; there is much trickery and cheating amongst the laity these days. Few people can be trusted; to associate with honest people is possible only as a result of wholesome deeds done in previous lives.

Varieties of Maya

Apart from stories about the concealment of one's faults, there are many other tricks such as show indignation by trampling rudely to pretend innocence; concealing one's guilt by way of treating the accuser or by way of flatteries etc.

Cunning people as such are commonly found in dwelling, houses, etc. where many people reside together. If during the night someone has discarded filth, night-soil at an unsuitable place, he will pretend to have done nothing in the morning. If he releases foul wind, he will produce a similar sound by rubbing the leather rug so as to mislead others i.e. (he will make others think it to be the sound of the leather rug). Thus, there are many kinds of maya. So the old folks used to say, “One thousand stratagems pariyaya, a hundred thousand artifices maya, an infinite number of tricks. Grains from nine mats of sand and leaves from nine cutch trees are needed to reckon the number of tricks called maya, pariyaya.


Along with maya, satheyya should also be understood. When one pretends to have certain qualities and make other think highly of him, such kind of lobha is called satheyya. Maya conceals one's faults and pretends to be faultless, whereas satheyya pretends to have non-existence qualities. Both of them are trickeries or deceptions.

Monk's Satheyya

Pretending to be virtuous though not; pretending to have good practice though having none; pretending to be learned though not; such pretences are called satheyya. So long as his pretensions are not discovered by clever lay donors, the pretentious satheyya monk may feel safe. Even when they see through the deceptions, they would opine, “That is not our concern, whether he deceives or not.” The monk continues to enjoy the fruits of his satheyya.

Satheyya in the Laity

Satheyya means pretending to be virtuous though not; pretending to have mental concentration though having none; pretending to have ability though not; pretending to be a graduate (B.A., M.A., etc) though not; pretending to be rich though not, etc. - these are the satheyya in the laity.

Evils of Satheyya

Maya and satheyya are more wicked than lobha (common greed). The following will clarify this fact. Monks, who have no morality, concentration and wisdom, pretending to have them, will boast to be like the virtuous who have real morality, concentration and wisdom. As a result of such pretensions, they will suffer in samsara. The laymen, who happen to take refuge in such monks, will not gain knowledge; offertories given to them will not be of much merit to the donors. There are also cunning people, who pretend to have morality and concentration; many girls come to grief on account of them. Due to the indecent livelihood and the misdeeds of the so-called gentlemen, many people in towns and villages come to lead immoral lives.

Not only the so-called leaders, who pretend to possess good leadership ability though having none, squander the lives and property of their followers but also bring about loss of sovereignty and finally the country itself. Some girls put their trust in the men who pretend to be rich and prestigious when they happen to marry such men their marriage would in no way be blessed and auspicious but end in disaster.

Moreover, if one or both parties conceal their faults with maya and pretend with satheyya to be wealthy, they will be exposed soon after marriage. Then can they love their cheating spouse (or their relatives)? Will they be happy if they live together without sincere love? To be a happily married couple, not only carnal desire but also true, sincere love is essential.

A marriage between Buddhists is not meant for the present life only. If they live in harmony, together they will go to the temple and monastery, make offerings and do good deeds; they are then likely to enjoy the resultant benefits in the cycle of rebirths. If marriages are tainted by maya and satheyya, the couple will do good deeds unwillingly, and consequently be unable to enjoy benefits not only in this life but also in samsara. Therefore people should be free from maya and satheyya if they ever intend to live a married life together.

Thus, as maya and satheyya deceive one or many people or even the whole country (as in the case of sectarian leaders who pretend to be Buddhas) or the whole world, they should be categorized as very wicked. However, people who regard themselves to be virtuous and have fulfilled perfections (parami) should take care that dishonest and wicked states of mind do not appear in them and in the people who are related to them; and they should all strive to be pure, intelligent, active, righteous and noble-minded personages.

6. Ditthi (Wrong View)

Wrong view or wrong understanding is called ditthi. It may also mean wrong belief. Ditthi sees or understands wrongly what is absent to be present, what is present to be absent, what is right to be wrong and is wrong to be right; it also dogmatically takes one's wrong view to be right and other's right to be wrong. Believing in the almighty creator of the world and beings when there is none; believing that the attā (soul) is in the body of beings when there is not; these wrong belief are ditthi which believes what is absent to be present. Falsely believing that neither good nor bad deeds will bring forth results later on, when they do so in reality; falsely believing that there is no result of kamma when beings do enjoy or suffer the results of kamma in many ways; falsely believing that there is no Nibbāna, even though there is Nibbāna, the cessation of mind, matter and suffering; falsely believing that there are no next existences even though there is an endless cycle of rebirths before the attainment of Nibbāna. Such wrong beliefs are ditthi, which believes what is present to be absent.

The following beliefs are ditthi, which sees what is false to be true - killing beings for sacrificial offering is a meritorious deed; bathing when it is very cold; heating one's body amidst four fires at noon when it is very hot; behaving like cows and dogs are good practices for purification of defilement; washing away unwholesome deed in the River Ganges at a suitable time is also good practice.

Believing that charity, morality and mental development (Dana, sīla, bhāvanā) do not lead to the realization of Nibbāna is ditthi, which takes what is true to be false.

In this way, wrong view (ditthi) is of many kinds. The mind, which is soiled with ditthi, is called ditthicitta, and one who adheres to wrong view is called miccha ditthi, a heretic (With regard to the remaining mental factors, please note how minds and persons are named in accord with the accompanying of cetasikas.)

7. Mana (Conceit)

Haughtiness is called mana (conceit). Those who possess mana tend to be haughty and mean, turning their nose up at others. When they excel others on status, wealth, knowledge, health, etc. they think highly of themselves and look down upon others. When they are equal to others in status, wealth, etc., they reason thus; “Others are not different from us; we, too, have such things” and will be puffed up with pride nevertheless. When their position, wealth, knowledge, health, etc. are lower than others, they reason thus; “We needn't heed their higher position, wealth, etc. We eat only what we have; we get only what we work for. Why should we kowtow to others;” though interior to others they will still be conceited.

Common Forms of Conceit, and How to Dispel Them

a. Jatimana

Being conceit of birth or caste is called jatimana. Nowadays there are still fairly good people known by birth. However, their birth is not reason enough to be conceited, to boast about, to think others as being despicable, as inferior or low caste. Even though one is born of a noble family or of royal blood, if one is kind, polite and gentle to the poor, one will be loved and respected all the more. Some could argue “Familiarity breeds contempt”; true, some rude persons may show disrespect to you. If so, it is their own fault and they will encounter unpleasant consequences. Thus you should be considerate and be careful not to be conceited of your birth.

b. Dhana Mana

The conceit of the rich is called dhana mana. Nowadays, there are many people possessing some wealth who seldom associate with the poor. They may think of themselves to be immensely rich or wealth as the Myanmar saying. “Having never seen a river, one thinks a creek to be the great river.” But, if they are broadminded and kind towards the poor, won't they be honored more than ever? Won't they even get help from them when danger?” The smiling face and the gentle speech of the rich can be the most effective elixir for the poor.

Therefore, wealth, which has been acquired for this existence because of charity done in the previous lives, should not be the basis of mana, which could lead one to lower strata of life in future existence. The wealthy should strive to be of dignified manner to win the trust of the people and to render assistance to them. The immense wealth in this life faces many dangers. Even if there are no dangers, it is good only for the present existence.

“The wealth of the King, dwelling in a golden palace, complete with regalia, surrounded by ministers and courtiers, is like a bubble appearing for a moment in the surface of the ocean.” The Minister Anantasuriya

c. Paññā Mana

The conceit of the educated is called paññā mana. Knowledge is an asset meant to teach people what is proper and what is not and how to be civilized in cultural and social relations. However, it is a great shame to be a conceited because of one's education and academic qualifications. Education is something learnt from others and not an extraordinary achievement. Anyone can acquire formal education given the chance to learn from a good teacher.

When we come across illiterates and very dull persons, we should not be conceited and proud and look down upon them, we should instead be kind to them and teach them what you can. Once there was a learned venerable abbot who was famous in both worldly knowledge and Dhamma scriptures, because he had taught others with great patience in his past existences. Hence, we should make use of our education to the benefit of ourselves in samsara.

Two Paths of the Acquisition of Learning

Since vocational training is meant for livelihood, it needs no further explanation. However, for Bhikkhus who are studying the Pali canon, there are two paths to follow.

a. The Lower Path

Learning Pali scriptures with greed, hatred and conceit in mind - learning with the hope: “When I become learned, I shall be famous; my donors will increase in numbers; I shall get good alms-food, robes, and monasteries; I shall excel above others; I needn't care for anybody and I can do as I wish, etc.”

Having finished his education, he follows the set path of acquiring gains and fame and of flaunting his learning with conceit. Such learning of Pali scriptures to purse gains and to boast is evil and will lead one to the woeful abodes. This is indeed the lower path. “One lad better passed the time snoozing rather than learn with wicked intention,” said the scriptures.

b. Higher Path

A Bhikkhu learns Pali scriptures with the hope, “If I have digested the Pali scriptures, I shall truly understand the Dhamma and I shall teach others, I shall always look at the mirror of the Pitaka literature and correct, purify, straighten my mind and become noble. “He learns not to pursue gains and impress donors; instead he tries to learn as he nobly aspires to. His way of learning will lead to the higher abodes. This is indeed the higher path.

Some Bhikkhus learn the scriptures with the intention to pass prescribed examinations, to gain academic fame. But they will change their mean objectives and become noble minded when they actually become learned, Just as water in a half-filled jar laps about but is stable when it is full to the brim; just so when they get adequate learning, they will follow the higher path. May all young learners get the higher path and become learned and noble.

Conceit of physical beauty. The conceit of physical beauty is also called the conceit or personal appearance. Because of being free from hatred (dosa) in the previous existence, offering flowers, cleaning the pagoda and monastery precincts, etc. one becomes famous for beauty in the present existence. One may well take pride in such pleasant appearance.

However, on reflecting one' past, recalling how one had been free from hatred and had been virtuous donors of water, flowers, etc., one should not feel conceited in this life. One should try to cultivate good thought and be gentle and virtuous.


The virtuous, who had attained Nibbāna could have taken pride in themselves and their conceit could have risen sky-high if they had wished to. Some had been of royal blood. In the realm of wisdom, a Bodhisattva, the wise Mahosatha was world-famous. Among women, there were the virtuous and beautiful such as Uppalavanna, Khemma, Yashodhara who were of high birth, of great wealth and knowledge and also of great beauty and charm.

Such men and women were not conceited for their wisdom, caste, virtue or beauty. On the other hand, people of inferior status are conceited for their caste, knowledge, petty wealth and common beauty as in the Myanmar saying, “In a grove of scrubs the castor-oil plant reigns - it is indeed a great shame.”

One who is conceited, one with vain pride, one who is haughty, will be hated by others and having lived in vain, will be reborn in the lower woeful abodes in successive existences. Hence you should uproot your conceit and be as humble as a snake whose fangs are detached; as the bulls whose horns are broken; as the doorman stepped on with dirty feet; so that you may soar higher in status in future existences.

8. Dosa (Hatred)

Anger or violence of mind is called dosa (hatred). Dosa is not only violent but it also soils the mind, it is not only wild and rule; but also depressive resulting in inferiority complex and living in fear; they all belong to the category of dosa or hatred (ill-will).

Both fear and violence are varieties of dosa; the angry, violent person is also easily frightened. Be aware of such persons. (Violence is called ascending hatred, whereas fear is called descending hatred).

The Story of A Lass

In India, there once was a young lady who suffered from the consequences of hatred. The story is related her not only to clarify the concept of dosa but also to remind the parents who used to force their sons and daughters into marriage without the consent of the partner, without love between bridge and bridegroom.

A young lad and a young lady in this story were not acquainted with each other before. There were betrothed and married by daughter of a good family, did her chores dutifully, the young lad neither appreciated her services nor love her sincerely. She began to be disappointed because he did not care for her in spite of her amiable attending him. She was unhappy and was often lost in despair. Her husband, having no love left for his wife, when seeing her cheerless behavior hated her more and more and became violent. Although she was unsatisfied with her husband's behavior, there was no choice for her but to carry on with her household duties.

However, she being not a lifeless stone, but a living beings with a sentiment, often attempted suicide. Although she suffered much from disappointment, unpleasantness, unhappiness and fear, she bore the suffering till she got two children. But at last she could not bear the burden anymore and wrote a letter to her husband away on business which run thus, “Darling, though you had become my husband by order of my parents, I really loved you and tried to win your love. But it was all in vain. I was accused of cheating and concealing my faults; and I was so disappointment that I often tried to resort to suicide, but it was a failure because of my children. Anyhow, it is of no use to live any more. After writing the letter, I will take my life and my children's by eating poisoned food.”

Having read this letter, the husband reflected over her goodwill, returned home quickly, only to find three dead bodies. He also shot himself in remorse. (In this story, hatred is prominent). When one happens to fall into such a situation, one should try to be broad-minded and treat one's wife kindly.


In conjunction with dosa (hatred), makkha, pasala, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa, which are common to lay life, should also be studied. Of them, makkha means ingratitude or being blind to the good turns of others; it is a kind of dosa. There are many good deeds done by others to a person since his childhood such as the good deeds of his parents, teachers, good friends, etc. If he does not regard the good deeds as so and does not thank them and is ungrateful to them saying, “No good deed have they done to me. I need not be grateful to them,” and becomes blind to them, this is makkha.

Some people are not only blind to the benevolence of their benefactors, but also do wrong to them. They are called mitta dubbhi (the wicked who have done wrong to their friends). Gratitude is similar to a debt, a deferred payment. Although you cannot yet return benevolence to them, you should regard your benefactor as benefactors. When you get a chance to repay the gratitude you should do so with all your heart.


If you take shelter under s tree, don't break its boughs and branches. Those who break its boughs and branches are the wicked ones.

The Grateful Son

In a certain town there once was a lad who worked hard as a common laborer and looked after his widowed mother. His mother was immoral and was having affairs secretly. His friends who knew about the mother pity for the lad disclosed the affair to him. However, he said, “Let my mother be happy; what ever she does, I shall attend to her.” (Good sons and daughter are as rare as good parents)


In this story, the immorality of his mother is her burden. The work of attending to her is the duty of the son. In attending to such a single mother, the sons and daughter need not regard themselves as looking after her as a mother, instead, they should bear in mind that they are repaying their old debts of gratitude to a great benefactor. Therefore, every good man or woman who wishes to gain benefit in the present and next existences throughout samsara should try to repay the gratitude to great benefactors. The Bodhisattva, when he was an elephant, used to repay the gratitude of his mother elephant. (A white elephant looking after his blind elephant was captured by the King. He refused to take food in protest, told the King about his mother and was released).

Palasa (Ill-will)

Palasa is a kind of dosa (ill-will), which competes with superiors. A person cannot tolerate who are superior to him in morality, concentration, knowledge, wealth, beauty or civility, so he competes with them saying, “What's the difference, between him and me!” This he says in spite of knowing that they are better than him. But if he is sincerely mistaken that he has such qualities in him and competes with others, it cannot be called palasa.

Soka (Sorrow)

Soka means sorrow, domanassa veDana (mental factor of suffering) which will be discussed later on the state of being unhappy on coming across unpleasant incidents, is called soka (sorrow). Wherever sorrows, appears, hatred will also accompany it. Therefore sorrow should also be understood in conjunction with hatred. Sorrow arises frequently in the hearts of people nowadays. Sorrow arises due to the death of relatives, due to loss of wealth, due to mishaps of their friend - all such sorrow is called soka.

A Kind of Domanassa (Mental Suffering)

There is also a kind of mental suffering (domanassa) which is mistaken to be sorrow. One is at times anxious about health of dear ones; anxious about loved ones not returning in due time after a journey; anxious about one's offspring in many ways. Such anxiety is not sorrow. Anxiety encoded in the thought, “they will be in trouble when I pass away,” is not sorrow; it is merely domanassa.

Can You Benefit from Sorrow or Anxiety?

The above-mentioned sorrow or anxieties are really uncomfortable states of mind; they endanger the mind, creating heartfelt sorrow and intense anxieties. They are painful forces and influences; one in no way gains anything from these. In reality they burn the heart and harm the mind without yielding a single benefit. Therefore, a wise person will avoid great anxiety or sorrow with steadfast mindfulness (sati) and prepare beforehand to meet adverse situations. For example, parents who are anxious of the health of their children should take caution in nutrition, mode of transport, etc, in daily life. If unavoidable illness occurs, the only reasonable action is to call in a doctor, not to be unnecessarily anxious.

If there is impending danger along a particular journey, parents should stop their children from going on that journey. If they have to travel to such a places, precautions measures should be taken for them beforehand. Parents should place a reliable person in charge of their children to protect them. Even after taking such safety measures for them, should the children meet danger or even death, for not following the guidance of parents; no sorrow should be shown; they deserve no sorrow or remorse at all. If parent still feel sorrow for the loss of their children despite adequate precaution, they are very foolish indeed. Indeed in this age many youngsters do not follow the discipline and guidance of their elders and most of them encounter great danger and harm. So is it reasonable and proper to feel sorrow at these situations? Teachers and parents should ponder over these facts.

Parideva (Weeping or Lamentation)

Weeping or lamentation is called parideva. But at the root of these lamentations lies dosa and domanassa (mental pain). Most people feel sorrow and grief when they see the coming of the fall in status, fame, power, wealth, etc. They also feel downhearted, which is soka, a form of domanassa, they weep aloud which is called fire of parideva (lamentation). Actually it is the extreme grief, which is called parideva, not the sound of weeping.

Can One Benefit from Weeping?

Like anxiety, weeping also is useless, without any benefit at all. As it is natural to cry over the sudden loss of relatives and loved ones, one should not blame them. Even the Venerable ānanda wept aloud when the Buddha passed into Nibbāna. But today quite a number of people are seen to weep aloud and show extreme distress to attract pity of others. When one hears melancholic crying and grief, one also becomes sorrowful and all happiness fades.

So, seeing the impact of grief and loud crying on others one should not do so. Loud weeping, in fact, displays one's lack of self-control. Therefore even if people lament being overcome by grief, they should exercise self-control and try to wipe out the tears quickly. And people can conquer lament by taking the examples of noble persons who can restrain their intense grief and severe loses. And people can get consolation by means of wise remorse (samvega), with a sense of weariness in the sufferings one is faced with.

How the Bodhisattva Consoled Himself

In one of their previous existences, the Bodhisattva and his spouse (the Yashodhara-to-be), after renouncing their immense wealth, become hermits and dwelled in a forest. The hermitess was very adorable, and her cheerful appearance won respect and admiration from all who saw her.

After sometime in the forest, she became weak and ill because she had to eat raw fruits and alms-food instead of the tasty dishes she used to relish as a laywoman. She suffered from dysentery and was feeling very weak. The Bodhisattva helped her along till they came to the city gate. She was gently made to take rest in the roadside shed while the Bodhisattva went into the city for alms-food. She died before hermit returned from the alms-round. When the townspeople saw the corpse in the roadside shed; they all lamented at her sudden demise though they were no relatives of hers. They then prepared to perform funeral rites.

At that time, the Bodhisattva hermit returned from alms-round and saw the great and sudden loss. Instead of showing intense grief and weeping aloud, he just sat hear his wife's corpse and ate his morning meal. He was calm and composed while other shed tears and wailed. After his meal he preached them a suitable discourse to extinguish the fire of parideva burning fiercely in them.

Mallika, Wife of the Great General

Another interesting story is about General Bandhula and his wife Mallika. This couple, during the reign of King Kosala, had sixteen twin (thirty-two) sons. These sons, together with their followers, used to come to the palace for royal audience.

Seeing the numerous followers, some minister got envious and told the Kind made-up stories. They falsely informed the King that Bandhula and his sons would one day conspire against the King, who lacking due intelligence and wisdom, believed in the slanders. So he ordered his men to trick Bandhula and sons into a house and burn them alive. The King's men killed them all by setting the house ablaze.

The next day, when Mallika was about to offer alms to the Venerable Shariputra and his follower (Bhikkhus) the bad news arrived. Mallika stayed composed and showed no sign of grief. Instead the loss was really great, but she did not suffer from lament at all and carried on with her meritorious deed.


Of the above two instances, in the case of the Bodhisattva hermit, there is no wonder for his stoicism because he has been fulfilling progressive parami (perfections of virtues) in his every existence. He already had ample moral maturity to control himself. But in the case of Mallika, people should emulate her noble ways. She was the weaker sex, and yet controlled herself by the good thoughts of the meritorious deeds at hand. In our lives we have to face hundreds of problems although we could not live a hundred years. Therefore every one should try to subdue pain and sorrow, grief and lamentation by all means. For example, when in the face of great sorrow, one should reason like this, “How complete is my fulfillment of parami perfections?” A sorrowful experience should be taken as a test of one's parami virtue.

Dukkha and Domanassa

Physical suffering is called dukkha and mental suffering domanassa. Everyone feels the impact of earning a living, and other hardships related to it. These impacts cause physical suffering or weariness. In this world people moan “Oh! Dukkha! Dukkha!” Whenever they suffer from physical pain. But it is possible escape mental suffering whilst experience physical suffering. For example, during the countless lives while accumulating parami perfections, the Bodhisattva had experienced physical pain. He had to suffer physical suffering as Mahosatha and Vessantara. But he had a determination to deliver all kinds of creatures from samsara. With great compassion and his resolution to achieve enlightenment, he has been free from mental suffering.

These mental suffering such as anxieties, depressions, disappointments and despair pertain to the mind and they are collectively termed domanassa. This is a kind of illness that inflicts the mind. Someone will react like this, “Oh, don't talk about this fellow, I don't wan to hear! It gives me much pain.” Such suffering commonly referred to as mental pain may or may not be accompanied by physical suffering. In this world there are many persons who, although affluent and prosperous, abandoning in material wealth, are suffering from mental pain called domanassa. This shows the truth of suffering as taught in the Dhammacakka Sutta, which declares, “Yam piccham na labhati -suffering due to not getting what one wants as well as not wanting what one gets.” Actually this mental suffering is more intense, more severe than physical pain. Thus even a person living a luxurious life cannot endure mental suffering. He would leave his big luxurious house, and all his property, and move to a small hut to live happily with the ones he loves. He can endure physical poverty but not the pain of mental suffering that is, separation from his loved one.

Indeed, there are many ways to overcome sorrow, depression, anxiety or disappointment in life and keep oneself in a happy state. But we can be sure that these ways of adapting oneself to changing circumstances are not easy to follow for the not so wise. In a nutshell, people should be farsighted and plan ahead for the future. And one must be diligent and industrious in carrying out one's plans. Yet, if there be failures and disappointments despite your efforts, you should not be despaired. These are due to the effects of bad kamma. (Try again with more vigor for, should one really strive hard, one can become even a Fully Enlightened One). It is important that one should maintain one's integrity and remain calm and composed in the face of the ups and downs of life, known as Lokadhamma, which are eight in number:

  • i. Labha (material gain)
  • ii. Alabha (material loss)
  • iii. Yasa (having followers)
  • iv. Ayasa (not having followers)
  • v. Ninda (being blamed)
  • vi. Pasamsa (being praised)
  • vii. Sukha (happiness)
  • viii. Dukkha (suffering)

These are four good and four bad circumstances in life. When you encounter the four good conditions, you must not be elated and proud. When you encounter the other four you must not be distressed. If you feel either elated or distressed, you are getting perturbed you are being tossed about in the sea or worldly storms. Those who are emotionally unstable and easily moved from a state of elation to one of depression are the victims of domanassa. Those who want to get mental peace in the ups and downs of life must have a steadfast mind.

Labha and Alabha

Everyone should honestly earn a living and work for material gain by lawful means. In doing so, one may accumulate wealth, which should not be the cause to be elated or boastful. In the other hand some people, while earning a livelihood, encounter material loss, and get poorer and poorer. In such a case one must not cry over it; instead one must remain composed and calm. It must be understood that even a King may have to give up his scepter and crown, bringing the country into servitude. Therefore, one should built up fortitude to remain calm and composed under the stress of vicissitude of life.

Yasa and Ayasa

Teachers, leaders and great men ought to have a retinue of followers. As a fence to a building it encloses, followers usually protect their leaders and render service to them. In turn, leaders should reward their followers; and they should be treated with due respect. Leaders must have the good will to enhance the life of the followers. Even servants and menials should be treated like co-workers and friends. As a result they will give full protection and good service. If, in spite of one's goodwill, one has few or no followers, there is no need to be worried. On the other hand, when one is surrounded by many followers one should not be conceited and haughty.

Fame is an asset not only in this life but also in the future lives. Great and noble tasks can be accomplished only by persons of great fame and quality. A saying goes, “Gunavante passanti Jana - people revere persons with rank and status.” Everyone should cultivate wisdom, intelligence and perseverance to attain great fame. One should not be conceited for one's fame; nor should be depressed for not being famous.

Ninda and Pasamsa

Envious and jealous persons and faultfinders are in abundance everywhere. In this life, therefore, it is difficult to be praised and very easy to be blamed. Nevertheless one should try to live righteously by means of mindfulness. No one is immune from blame. Even the bull created by King of Devas (Sakka) was blamed for the softness of the dung. So there is a saying, “Hate sees only faults; loves sees only praise, fondness leads trust. “In this life ill will prolific and faultfinders are abound.

But those who blame others should ask themselves, “Are we free from faults? Are we flawless? No one is flawless like the Bodhisattva Mahosadha, King Vessantara, Venerable Kassapa, Venerable Shariputra or Venerable ānanda. In the case of women they are far from faultless like Amara, Kinnari, Maddi and Sambula, the four exemplary.

In a village, a young boy told his father that a neighbor falters in speech. He stuttered, “Oh father! Our neighbor…ah…as, has…has…fal…ter…ing…spe…ach. He was probably oblivious of the fact he himself had the same defect.

Some faultfinders cover up their own faults and conceal their shortcomings. They are hypocrites who do steal but pretend to be innocent, like a wily cat.

Sometimes, due to envy and jealousy, people blame others but usually they emulate their ways. Gossips slander a young girl when a young man frequently visits her but these gossips actually want the young man to visit them.

Such are the ways of the world. It is only natural to come across the eight vicissitudes mentioned. A victim of slander may not be as blameworthy as critics make out to be. Sometimes a trivial fault may be exaggerated. So it is the best to appraise one's fault by oneself in the light or moral fear (ottapa) and moral shame (hiri).

Those who are afraid of ghosts dare not go into the dark; when they do, they might see a tree-stump and yell, “Ghost! Ghost!” Since their mind entertains the fear of ghosts constantly, they imagine that ghosts are chasing them.

Some people are too much preoccupied with the possible onset of blame so much so that fear plays a dominant part in their lives. In the Samyutta Pali, the Buddha said, “One who is too overcome by fear is like a deer that startles and takes flight at the slightest sound. They are timid, the fainthearted, the irresolute. People too overcome by fear have nothing to gain. They only encourage critics and faultfinders. The timid make easy prey for faultfinders.

On the other hand, criticisms, comments and condemnations are in a way signs of fame; nobody cares to talk of little-known persons. People take notice of only the prominent. For example, the tallest tree is the most subject to the impact of strong winds. As you soar higher and higher in society, you are more and more liable to face the eight lokadhamma, vicissitudes. Therefore you should be indifferent to them bearing in mind that such things are signs of your fame and success.

Just ask yourself, “How steadfast am I? Only then you will be able to withstand unjust condemnations and false comments with equanimity. And you must try to live a faultless life.

Just as you ought to be indifferent to blame, you should also be unmoved in the face of praise. You should not be elated by praise. You must be aware that benefits are the fruits of good works or good deeds. Continue to nurture loving-kindness (mettā); and share merits thus, “May others receive recognition like me! May they enjoy praises like me!”

Summing up, among the eight worldly circumstances, four are desirable and other undesirable. Since time immemorial all sentient beings had done good and bad deeds in countless past lives and so they all will have good and bad effects, or ups and downs, in this life. Situations desirable and undesirable are periodic phases of life. Unflinchingly, try to withstand the ups and downs and sail across the ocean of samsara through storms and winds towards the peaceful shore of Nibbāna where all sufferings cease to exist.

For example captains of ocean going vessels cannot always expect calm and smooth seas in their voyages. They are bound to encounter rough seas, turbulent winds and storms, or rolling waves that may even endanger their ships. Under such circumstances, skilful captains use their intelligence and industry to steer their ships, through perilous seas and storms to drop anchor at a safe heaven.

Katatta nanakammanam
Itthanitthepi agate
Yoniso tittham sandhaya
Tareyya naviko yatha

Due to deeds of good and bad kamma, in past existences we encounter situations both desirable and undesirable. Come what may, we must be like the captain of a ship, with confidence, zeal and skill, we must face storms and gales and overcome difficulties and dangers. We must be unmoved by the eight worldly conditions to steer straight to drop anchor at the port of Nibbāna.


It is natural for everyone to face the eight worldly conditions. We should try to practice mental concentration and nurture a stoical mind.

Upayasa (Intense Anger)

When one comes across mental losses, death of loved ones, downfalls or failures, these arises intense anger (upayasa). It means extreme wrath. Ordinary anger leads to violence or even killing, while upayasa gives you superlative anxiety and ire. The flame of anxiety and fury in the heart will boil the blood circulating in the body. So a person with intense anger will get lapses or fits, or even lose consciousness.

On the demise of a loved one, a person weeps aloud. This is parideva. When parideva intensifies, he can no longer wail; he will get fits and fall unconscious. But upayasa is even more intense than parideva. Anxiety (soka) is like hot oil in a frying pan. Parideva is like he boiling over the heated oil. Upayasa is like complete burning and evaporation of the remaining oil.

Upayasa affects persons who have weak minds and those who depend too much on each other. The weaker sex is more prone to suffer from upayasa. Feminine mind and physique are not as strong as the masculine and are more often inclined to depend on others due to inadequate wisdom and knowledge concerning strengthening of mind. They easily suffer from soka and parideva, which overwhelms their subtle physique, and develop into the state of upayasa. This in turn causes one to faint.

Even males, when they are physically weak cannot withstand excessive anxieties. Therefore one needs nutritious food to be physically strong and to bravely face the sufferings arising from upayasa. Everyone should first extinguish soka and parideva quickly. Only then they will not pass on to upayasa (Methods to extinguish soka and parideva have been mentioned earlier.)

9. Issa (Envy)

When one hears or meets an individual superior to one in beauty, wealth, education, or morality one often feels envious. This unwholesome thought is envy (issa). There are many who do not appreciate good things of others. They would comment, “All birds are as beautiful as owls” and “Such rabbits are abound.” These condemnations grow out of issa. Some in their envious state of mind, say, “Similar toddy shells can be found under every toddy palms.”

There are proverbs, which say, “Envy arises when someone excels you. Having similar objectives breeds hostility.” Envy mostly exists in workers who feel inferior to co-workers. Especially persons of same rank or status are affected by envy. For example a fish-paste monger does not usually feel or show envy to a jeweler. But among fish-paste sellers and among jewelers, being subject to competition, there are many who feel or show envy towards one another. So also among Bhikkhu envy can arise. Even preachers and abbots are not immune to slander and envy.

By felling envious and by fabricating slander, one only ruins oneself because the wise condemn him as worthless person. And the envious shall fall into woeful abodes in samsara, whereas the envied will not be affected at all. Since issa is an akusala, unwholesome mental factor, everyone should abhor and eliminate it.

Hogs and the Emerald Cave

Once upon a time, a big lion has his den in an emerald cave in the Himalayas. Near this cave lived a herd of dogs, and they live in constant fear of the fierce lion. They blamed the emerald glow of the cave for their woe. So they first rolled about in the muddy lake and rubbed the emerald cave with mud. However, the emerald cave grew more and more radiant and shiny. Likewise, those who slander, envy and belittle others, actually get opposite consequences. Only they themselves will suffer from hardship while the other is propelled further into prosperity.

Attukkamsana and Paravambhana

Attukkamsana means praising one's own self either in speech or writing. (atta = self + ukkamsana = praise). Paravambhana means belittling or downgrading others (para = others + vambhana = down-grading, belittling = denunciation).

In the case of attukkamsana people will feel mana (vainly proud) and lobha (naively pleased) of their status. In the case of paravambhana, issa (envy) and dosa (hatred) will burgeon.


Some people proclaim their abilities in a boastful manner. They would say they are learned and well-versed, that they are wealthy that their relatives hold high positions, that they are academically highly qualified, that they excel other, etc. They might also say that although now they are in low positions, once they were a cream of society. Even some monks say that they are powerful, dignified, have wealth donors, pass many religious examinations, preach and teach well, can create gold and silver by alchemy, etc. Thus many persons are fond of making ostentatious statements whether true or false; the ignorant may perhaps be taken in by such pretensions whilst the wise will surely not. In both speech and writing, one should abstain from atthukkamsana with mindfulness (sati).

Timely Proclamation

However, there are opportune occasions when you should proclaim your ability and virtue, with a view to gain due respect for the work you are occupied with, for your words and your ideas. Otherwise, people may look down upon you for not grasping the true situation. This is not conceit (mana), but a timely plan that befits the occasion.


Some people heaps blames on other when they write criticisms or comments in print-media due to lack of sati. This is malicious practice because someone is unjustly hurt through it. On the other hand if it is essential to criticize, you should do so and give right information to others. When it is mandatory to expose evil people, blame and criticism are of course necessary. Bad people deserve blame and the public should be told the truth to avoid misunderstanding. But you should blame and criticize cautiously, with supporting proofs and reliable evidences when you pit yourself against a personage, highly regarded by people.

Once a devotee who has donated the monastery, and his wife used to hold the abbot in very high esteem. One day the devotee, by chance, saw the abbot himself frying eggs for the evening meal. So he told his wife about the abbot's singular behavior. But as his wife had great faith in the abbot, she did not believe his words. She thought her husband had lost his mind. She told her neighbors so and jeered at her husband. So her husband had to remain in silence. At bedtime he repeated the news ad still his wife would not believe him. So he had to take back his words lest his wife would again proclaim him mad. A true, factual may get bad response from others because of inappropriate time; circumstance, place, etc. Therefore it is important that you launch your blame according to time and circumstance, accompanied by supporting evidence. But it is also important to tell unpleasant truths about really evil persons to your close friends and relatives whether they believe you or not when a timely warning is necessary and blame is justified.

10. Macchariya (Selfishness, Envy)

Selfishness or envy, unwholesome mental factor is called macchariya. Nowadays some persons are reluctant to give alms or charity to others. This is mistaken to be macchariya. But actually macchariya means wishing other persons to get nothing. They are jealous of others. They do not want to see others acquiring wealth. Stinginess is just attachment to money and property, and merely lobha (greed). In the case of macchariya, it means a jealous outlook, not wanting others having promotion, money, fame, beauty, etc. In the Pitaka, mention is made of five categories of macchariya:

  • a. Avasa Macchariya is macchariya concerning house, dwelling, monasteries, schools, beds, etc. In the case of monks, some do not want visiting monks to reside in the monasteries they came to possess. But preventing bad monks entering their places does not amount to macchariya. The acts of selfishly preventing others from getting something is macchariya. Those monks who have avasa macchariya will be reborn in their very abode as peta (hungry ghosts) or reborn in Niriya (hell).
  • b. Kula Macchariya is jealousy as regards donors and relatives, etc. Some monks do not want to let their regular donors to support other monks except himself. But to prevent evil monks making acquaintance with one's friends and relatives is not kula macchariya, because evil monks can contaminate their faith and morals. Kula macchariya, jealousy burns the viscera when one sees one's relative in the company of other people causing internal hemorrhage and diarrhea. Or such a person will be in impecunious circumstances in the next existence.
  • c. Labha Macchariya based on material gain. There are people who do not want anyone to prosper except themselves. Such ill will is labha macchariya. But to prevent bad monks from getting requisites, which they will put to bad use, and to wish good monks to receive them is not labha macchariya. Those who have labha macchariya will be reborn in filthy hell and will have to eat filth.
  • d. Vanna Macchariya based on beauty and fame. This form of jealousy does not want others to be more beautiful or more famous than oneself. Such a person becomes an ugly person in forthcoming existences in samsara. He also will be denied of fame.
  • e. Dhamma Macchariya is macchariya based on learning, education, or knowledge. Thus a person will not impart knowledge or information to others is guilt of Dhamma macchariya. Such people fear that others may excel them in learning and refuse to answer questions. They do not teach others willingly. But to deny teaching malicious person who will misuse knowledge does not amount to Dhamma macchariya because such persons will ruin the Buddha's Teaching. He who feels Dhamma macchariya will be reborn a dumb person or an idiot. When he dies he will be penalized in the hell of burning ash.

Points To Be Considered

Regarding the five categories of macchariya, considerations should be made; who will be most exposed to these evils attitudes. Most probably monks and nuns who depend on alms for their sustenance are most liable to accommodate these evil traits. In the case of lay people too, they do not wish others to acquire better house, or land, to be more wealthy, beautiful, to excel them in power, status, knowledge, wisdom, and so forth. Such jealousy is called macchariya. But the sufferer of macchariya is the jealous person and not the victim. Such persons expose themselves as possessing a foul mind. When they die they are reborn as peta (hungry ghosts). Therefore everyone should totally and completely annihilate macchariya so as not to fall into woeful abodes.

11. Kukkucca (Remorse)

When a bad deed has been done, it is usually followed by remorse (kukkucca). Remorse occurs as a result of bad deeds. It is repentance over wrong things done and right things neglected. So there are two kinds of remorse.

Repentance of Four Rich Youths

There is a well-known phrase 'Du-Sa-Na-So' which are the four words uttered by each of the four rich lads. They were very rich young men, yet they did not perform any meritorious deeds; they did only akusala (bad or unwholesome deeds). For example they transgressed others, committed adultery and engaged in sexual misconduct. As a consequence when they died they fell into Lohakumbi Niraya (hell of molten metal) for sixty thousand years. As they floated upwards in the molten metal for a short moment, they tried to speak of their repentance, for their wrong deeds. Each one could only utter one word because of their great pain. 'Du', 'Sa', 'Na', 'So' respectively.

What they wanted to say was, “In my past life I was born of a rich family. But I did not follow the way of merits. Instead, I had engaged in sexual misconduct.”

They felt intense remorse for their evil deeds. But one man could utter only 'Du' and sank to the bottom of the infernal cauldron.

They other wished to say, “Evil consequences seem to be endless. I had done evil deeds, as a human being”. But he could not complete his sentence. He uttered only one word 'Sa', the third 'Na' and the last 'So'. After committing crimes or doing unwholesome deeds many people experience regret and remorse. The evil consequences of bad deeds do not wait to materialize in the future existence as in the case of the four rich lads. In the present life too they will be gnawed away by thought of evil deeds. They will feel as if their bodies are burning and perspire profusely.

Don't Leave Room for Remorse

Regrets over past wrong deeds will not expel your worries. Regret or remorse will not deliver you from consequences. Such repentance will only serve to develop kukkuca, another form of unwholesome mental faculty. The correct way to overcome remorse is to avoid evil deeds again, to make a firm resolution to refrain from akusala (evil action). If the evil deeds are not too serious, you will escape their evil results by virtue of your restraint, as taught by the Buddha in the Mahavagga Samyutta.

Strive Hard While There Is Ample Time

Everyone has to acquire education, wealth and merit according to ability and skill. For such acquisition opportunities and time are available only when one is young. If he has squandered away good opportunities and time he will come to wreak and ruin. There is a saying. “Strike while the iron is hot.” The country folk say, “Sow the seeds when there is rain.” “If the rainy season is gone you cannot plough the fields and sow seeds and you will fail to harvest the grains.

Even if you realize too late that you have not done meritorious deeds, you should not lament for it. It is never too late to mend. Belated mindfulness is better than total neglect.

There is the story of an executioner who carried out death penalties during the time of the Buddha. He served the King in this way until to an extremely old age when resigned from his office. The venerable Shariputra happened to meet him on the day he was going to die and preached the Noble Dhamma. But the old man could not concentrate on the Dhamma because he was full of remorse for his past deeds of execution.

Knowing the true situation, the Venerable Shariputra asked, “Did you execute the condemned criminals on your own will or by orders of the Kind?” He replied to carry out the commands of the King. I did not kill them on my own will.” Then the Venerable Shariputra said, “So do you think you are guilty of these killings? Do you think you are responsible for their deaths?” Herein the old man began to think that he seemed to be free from guilt and his mind became calm again. While listening to the Dhamma, he reached the stage of Cula-sotāpanna (a junior stream-winner) and he was born in the Deva loka celestial plane after his death.

(According to the Dhamma, actually, both he and the King were guilty of these executions even if he was carrying out the orders of the King. But the Venerable Shariputra, in order to calm him and create a clear mind, to attend to his teaching used a good strategy to ask questions that seemed to make him innocent.)


The old executioner, admittedly, he had taken many lives. But the Venerable Shariputra had asked helpful questions to extinguish remorse (kukkucca). When remorse disappeared the old man concentrated his mind on the true Dhamma attentively and was reborn in Deva loka, the abode of celestial beings. Taking lessons from this story, people should forget past evils, put out their anxieties, and try not to repeat past mistake but to perform good deeds as soon as possible.

12 And 13 Thina (Sloth) And Middha (Torpor)

Thina means sluggishness of mind and body, and Middha means torpor or dullness of mind and body. These two mental factors arise together. They deprive one of zeal and vitality, including laziness as can be seen in a person about to fall asleep or in one dozing off while listening to a sermon.

But not every sleepiness is thina-middha. Sometimes, due to overwork and bodily weariness, one becomes sleepy. Even the Arahat may feel sleepy, just as a plant wilts and shrivels under the burning heat of the sun.

Only when citta and cetasika, become sluggish, inert, torpid, they are described as thina and middha. Nowadays, those who are lazy and unwilling to work are said to be under the influence of thina-middha.

14. Vicikiccha (Doubt, Skepticism)

Vicikichha is associated with doubt or skepticism on the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. Vicikiccha is neither total disbelief nor complete acceptance. In fact, vicikiccha is wavering between belief and disbelief. Examples of skeptical doubts are:

  • a. Is there the Omniscient Buddha?
  • b. Can one attain Nibbāna if one follows the Eightfold Path?
  • c. Is he a Bhikkhu of good conduct? (In spite of seeing a Bhikkhu of good conduct).
  • d. Can we get any benefits from observing wholesome moral precepts?
  • e. Do we have past existences? Or are we created by an Eternal God?
  • f. Are there future lives? Is death termination of everything?
  • g. Can one's moral and immoral deeds influence the forthcoming series of khanda? (Disbelief in kamma)
  • h. Can one enjoy the consequences of good deeds? (Disbelief in the results of kamma)
  • i. Is it true that due to avijja (ignorance) there arises sankhārā (action of the mind or volition)? (Disbelief in Paticcasamuppada, the Law of Dependent Origination).

Therefore skepticism of the Buddha, the Dhamma and Sangha constitute vicikiccha.

Doubts, which are Not Vicikiccha

Doubts in the meaning of words and sentences; or doubts as to which route to follow on a journey, etc. do not constitute vicikiccha. Even Arahats sometimes have doubts in the meaning of Vinaya Rules, whether such an act is in accordance with the Vinaya or not. In this case it is not vicikiccha.

When skepticism or doubts arise they should be dispelled by asking the learned. Only when there can be complete faith and reverence in the Three Jewels.


This chapter has dealt with the akusala cetasika (unwholesome mental factors) that contaminate the mind. The akusala cetasikas are present in the stream of consciousness of everyone. We often hear or see the evil power of greed, hatred, pride, etc. The whole world, due to akusala mental factors, is full of turmoil and atrocities. We even come across such evils ourselves.

By virtue of my effort to clarify the nature of bad cetasika that soil the mind, may I be able to lessen the forces of unwholesome mental factors in my own self. May my associates and acquaintances irrespective of age or status, be able to cultivate good minds! May readers of this book nurture good minds, good attitudes and good thoughts!

Due to my exposition of unwholesome mental factors, I hope many people will change their minds (attitudes) from bad to good. May I be able to get rid of all unwholesome mental factors the evils, the impurities in forthcoming existences! May my acquaintances be able to cultivate good minds and realize Nibbāna in the shortest possible time!

[Here Ends The Chapter On Akusala Cetasikas,
The Unwholesome Mental Factors]

Chapter Three

Kusala Cetasikas (Wholesome Mental Factors)

In this chapter kusala cetasikas (wholesome mental factors) will be dealt with. The following mental factors are responsible for arising of wholesome consciousness:

These fourteen good mental factors protect one from evil and enhances the mind to be pure and wholesome.

1. Saddha (Faith)

If you believe what is logical you will develop saddha (faith). It has two characteristics, belief and clarity of mind.

  • a. Belief

Wrong belief rejects the truth of kamma and its results, the truth of existence of the past and the future lives; the Omniscience of the Buddha, a human personage, who knows all these truths, his teachings, the Dhamma and his disciples, the Sangha. Such rejections are total disbelief which is different from vicikiccha, the sceptical doubt with partial aaceptance. Here faith (saddha) means belief in kamma and its result. Saddha is also called “Saddhadhimokkha” (decision based on full faith in things if real nature) it is also a wholesome mental factor (kusala cetasika).

  • b. Clarity of Mind

The second characteristics of saddha is clarity of mind. While giving alms or observing precepts, or meditating, one's mind becomes filled with faith and clear. It's just as a ruby of the Universal Monarch, when put in a muddy water, will cause the impurities and sediments to sink and make the water to become crystal clear, so also saddha will eliminate all doubts, scepticism, and other mental defilements and purity the mind. Such is the sceptical doubt with partial acceptance.

Even children and some pet animal, even though they cannot understand the first characteristics of saddha, will perform good deeds in emulation of their elders and teachers. So they will pay homage to the Ti Ratana (Three Jewels), offer alms, and do service to others. While doing such good deeds they enjoy the fruits of the second characteristics, clarity of mind. Even unbelievers sometimes do acts of generosity such as donations to social services, like hospitals, orphanage, homes for the aged, etc. and enjoy clarity of mind.


Please study about true saddha in detail in the chapter on Carita (mature or Habitual conduct) where saddhacarita is further explained.

False Faith

True faith consists of purity of mind and belief in the truth of Dhamma. But there is also false belief in the world. For example some unscrupulous person may proclaim that a Buddha statue or a pagoda is emanating radiance in order to lure people to give donations. People who are made to believe in bogus scared relics, heretics who believe in their erroneous doctrines, etc. do not have true faith. They are just misled due to their ignorance, stupidity, naivety or simplicity, and this is to be categorised as moha (delusion), which is an akusala cetaiksa (unwholesome mental factor)

People who have faith in good orators, or in monks and hermits with elegant appearance and pleasant voices who can dispense good magic, charms, or medicines, are not true believers. This is moha based on lust and intimacy. Such false faiths are classified in the Pali texts as muddhappasana (deluded devotion).


Today, the world is abound with liars and swindlers. In some religions new and singular doctrines are affluent; in Buddhism also some impersonators invent novel doctrines, new modes of meditation and mystic medicine to trick ignorant devotees and naïve persons. When people give alms and money to such liars, such cheats, their acts stem from lust and delusion, not genuine faith. Because wise persons do not care to go against these tricksters, they become more and more popular day by day.

“Yo balavatiya saddhaya samannagato avisaDanano, so muddhappasanno hoti na avecca pasanno; tathahi avatthusemim pasidati, seyyathapi titthiya” Ekanipata Anguttara Tika

Nowadays, women often take the leading role in matter relating to charity and religious rituals, without pondering whether this be appropriate or not. One must not believe blindly. Careful reasoning should precede faith and devotion. So everyone should endeavor to better their knowledge in religious affairs, including female devotees.

Confusion between Faith and Love

Today even virtuous persons confuse faith with love or affection. Many devotee will revere Dhamma teachers with pleasant voice and personalities who give good instructions. If they respect and honor them only for their good ethical conduct, it is saddha (faith). But if they become attached to such teachers like their own relatives it is mixture of faith and love.

In Gotama Buddha's time, disciples such as Venerable Vakkali and Minister Channa not only revered the Buddha but also loved him personally. So although faith was present in their hearts, there also was samyojana (attachment) which is unwholesome.

Some people accept doctrines and instructions through personal attachment; such attachments sometimes can promote knowledge and wisdom and enhance fulfillment of parami perfections. If wholesome mental factors are cultivated on account of personal attachments, then it is beneficial.

In the Patthana Pali it is said, “Akusalo dhamma kusalassa dhammassa upanissaya paccayena paccayo - unwholesome mental factors can support the formation of wholesome mental factors.”

So even small unwholesome mental attachments can lead to good states of mind. In this view, teachers and preachers should teach the Dhamma with sincerity and goodwill to promote such developments. And disciples and devotees, on their part, should properly practise what is taught, so as to get beneficial results.

2. Sati (Mindfulness)

Recollection, remembering or heedfulness, are definitive terms for mindfulness which is known as sati in Pali. There are various forms of sati. For example, one recalls the meritorious deeds performed in the past; one listens attentively so that one can remember the Dhamma discourses. While meditating, one concentrates deeply not to lose the object of meditation. Such is the nature of sati.

Sometimes you look forward to meritorious deeds to be done tomorrow or in the future. You take care to observe morality (Sīla) and do not breach any precepts. You are mindful to restrain the arising or greed, pride and ignorance. You recall the counsels of your teachers. Only such forms of mindfulness concerning wholesome matters are collectively called sati (mindfulness). Such true mindfulness is also called appamada - without remissness, watchfulness, vigilance. Therefore when a bhikkhu administers Sīla precepts to lay devotees, he always reminds thus at the end of giving precepts, “Appamadena sampadetha - be ye without remissness in doing meritorious deeds.”

The Tathāgata taught thus, “Sati khvaham bhikkhave sabbatthikam vadami - O Bhikkhus, mindfulness is essential in every act.” Though there may be instances of being over faithful, there can never be over-mindfulness. When the Buddha was about to enter PariNibbāna, his last words summed up the very essence of his teachings (Dhamma), that is, “Appamadena sampadetha - be always vigilant and watchful in every act.”

Mere Remembrance is Not Sati!

When a person remembers his relatives, when lovers yearns for one another, when friends remember to keep appointments, when one recalls some precious moments, etc. all such remembrances have the nature of attachment (tanha). When one remembers to take revenge for injuries done to one, when one keeps in mind atrocious plans; when one pays heed to possible dangers that may befall en route to a destination; such cases reveal hatred (dosa) as the base. Any form of the aforesaid mental factors being accompanied by attachment or hatred, cannot be classified as true mindfulness (sati).

The above are the examples of sanna (memorizing, minding) or vitakka (purposeful thinking); they are not to be mistaken for sati. The natures of sanna and vitakka will be explained in the chapters to come.

3. Hiri (Shame) And 4. Ottapa (Fear)

To feel ashamed to do evil is hiri; dread or fear to do evil is ottappa. Hiri is evident in those who value their honour and dignity. Ottappa is evident in those who respect their parents, teachers, friends and relatives.

Further clarification is as follows:

When one reasons, “I belong to a good family. So, I should not indulge in unwholesome deeds, nor earn my living as a fisherman or as a hunter.” Thus he feels ashamed to resort to indecent livelihood and maintain the honor of his family, or clan.

The educated will reason thus, “We are learned persons; we should feel ashamed of unwholesome acts of doing bad deeds. We must refrain from killing, stealing, etc.”

The aged will reason thus, “We are old, and ought to be mature and wise. If we commit evil we will come into shameful situations.”

These three instances show the dominance of hiri, a wholesome mental factor, in those who value their honor and dignity.

Those who are considerate of others will reason, “If I do evil, my parents, friends, relatives, and teachers will be blamed because of me. Therefore I will not do any evil. I will avoid misdeeds.” This is a fine example of ottappa. So a person acquires hiri and ottappa by means of sympathetic considerations for others and by holding the honor and dignity of his close acquaintances. But if you have no sympathetic consideration for your family, teachers, etc., you lack both hiri and ottappa and you will do many evil deeds in your life.

Hiri and ottappa protect you from immoralities putting restraints on son from misconduct with mother as well as on brother from committing sin with sister. They are regarded, therefore as two great guardians of the world (Lokapala Dhamma) protecting you from immoralities. So they are pure and wholesome ideals, known as Sukka Dhamma. These two Dhamma keep human beings in moral discipline and moral restraint that distinguish them from animals.

Without hiri and ottappa, mankind will sink into evil depths and be reduced to the state of animals. Today many people are void of moral shame and dread so that they dress, eat and behave indecently. If this moral decay continues to proliferate, the world will soon end in complete ruin. For mankind will turn into animals.

False Hiri and Ottappa

Although moral shame and moral fear are wholesome mental factors (kusala cetasika) there are also false ones. Shame or fear to do evil deeds, abstinence from evil actions (ducarita) are due to true hiri and true ottappa. Shama and dread to keep Sabbath, to visit pagodas and monasteries (to go to church), to listen to Dhamma talks, to speak in public, to do manual (not ashamed of being unemployed and starving) labor, or boy meeting girls, etc., are false hiri and ottappa. In fact they are pretensions and vain pride. According to Abhidhamma they all are collectively taken as a form of tanha.

Four Cases Where Shame Should be Disregard

In texts mention is made of four cases where one should discard shame:

  • i. In trade and commerce
  • ii. In learning under a competent teacher
  • iii. In partaking of food
  • iv. In making love

These cases are mentioned to emphasize the point that one should be hold doing something of benefit. No commitments are made on whether they are moral or immoral.

Other instances of hiri and ottappa are fear of courts and judges, reluctance to visits the lavatory while traveling, fear of dogs, fear of ghosts, fear on unknown places, fear of opposite sex, fear of elders and parents, fear of speaking in the presence of elders, etc. These are not genuine fear or shame. Indeed they are mere lack of nerve or confidence, a collection of akusala (unwholesome) states propelled by domanassa.

The Middle Way

The above explanation will clarify the fact that only genuine shame and fear are to be cultivated. There should neither be shame nor fear doing deeds not unwholesome. But this does not mean one must be reckless and bold in every case. Recklessness leads to disrespect for elders, anger, hatred and conceit. While moral courage and fearlessness are to be praised, recklessness and disrespect are to be blamed.

Fruitless boldness, disrespect and vain courage are undesirable; one should be bold and fearless only in doing good deeds. Excess of shame and fear are equally undesirable. There is a middle path for all to follow. One is not to be fearless in circumstances that they should have fear; and one should not be feared and become fearless of what should be feared.”

5. Alobha (Non-Greed)

Not wanting is alobha. It is non-attachment to things, and is the opposite of greed, or wanting something, lobha and alobha are just like fire and water. Whereas lobha wants things, alobha does not want anything at all because its nature is non-greed, generosity, charity. In daily life too we may notice the contrasting behavior of a greedy man and a content man.

A Greedy Bhikkhu

A greed monk (Bhikkhu) is always after alms and offertories. Therefore he preaches persuasive sermons for the sake of getting offertories. When he got some, he is very much attached to them and does not think of giving them away in charity. He even becomes conceited and thinks highly of his gains. But he does not know that he is degrading himself by having to be nice and polite to potential donors.

A Greedy Man

A greedy man is not much different from a greedy monk. He seeks wealth by hook or by crook because his mind is overcome by greed. He is not satisfied with whatever he has gained. Being greedy, he is always after amassing more and more wealth. He would say, “This is mine, this is mine. I own this and I own that. This is my property.” When he dies, he will be reborn in the realm of miserable ghost (peta). His greed will push him down to Apaya, the woeful planes. Such are the evils of greed.

A Greedless Bhikkhu

A greedless Bhikkhu will have no attachments to material gain. When he gets offertories he will not feel proud as he well understands that alms and offertories come from the goodwill of donors and well wishers. Let alone a Bhikkhu who is the disciple of the Buddha, even a lay person will be ashamed of clinging to alms and offertories. A virtuous person is never greedy; instead he is generous and charitable. Likewise, a greedless Bhikkhu places no importance in material wealth.

A Greedless Man

Among the lay people a greedless one earns his living by fair and just means only. He practices right livelihood. He avoids sensual pleasures as much as possible. He has pity for the poor and is generous to them. In alms-giving he in never hesitant. Such goodwill is called muttacagi in Pali which means giving charities freely and without reluctance. Such virtuous persons can even renounce crown, wealth and power and become a religious recluse with a contended mind dwelling in a sylvan hut.

Therefore you will see the differences between the greedy and greedless like two men running back to back in opposite directions. Those who believe themselves to be Bodhisattas or righteous persons with paramis should first analyze their minds thus, “Am I greedy or greedless?” If they are greedy they should reform their minds right in the present existence. If one can assess oneself as greedless they should still do more good deeds because they now have an excellent foundation. So all persons should cultivate sati (mindfulness) in order to become greedless generous people.

6. Adosa (Non-Greed, Loving-Kindness,Forgiving Or Harmlessness)

Adosa means non-hatred or non -anger. It is contradictory to rudeness, harm, revenge, aggression and hatred. It is the direct apposite of anger or hatred as represented by a gecko vis-à-vis snake. Dosa incites rudeness whereas adosa promotes politeness. Adosa makes one good-natured and patient; hence the facial expression of angry person is disdainful whereas that of the genteel is pleasant and smiling, clean, bright and beautiful like the face of the silvery moon. Adosa conquers through forgiveness and is represented by polite words and pleasant speech. The nature of adosa is full of benefits. In fact adosa is synonymous with mettā (loving-kindness), which is welcome everywhere in the world. [The nature of mettā will be dealt with soon].

The bodhisattva was a son of King Brahmadatta of Baranasi. When the chief queen died, the King promotes a young, beautiful queen to the title. Crown Prince Mahapaduma, the Bodhisattva, took responsibility of the capital city when the king marched out to suppress a rebellion. When his father the king was about to arrive at the palace the Crown Prince had an audience with the young chief queen for the purpose of announcing the monarch's return. At this time she was alone and she, out of lust, tried to seduce the prince three times. But the Bodhisattva by refusing to give in to her enticement embarrassed the queen and made her very furious. So she, in revenge, fabricated an accusation that the Crown Prince Mahapadua tried to molest her. The king believe her false accusation.

In fact, the Queen employed all her pariyaya and maya to bring Paduma to ruin.

The thoughtless King immediately sentenced his son to death. Since the prince was popular with the people, he feared that they would take him away. So the King himself led the procession of executioners to the top of the mountain from where he pushed down his son. However, due to the power of mettā of the prince, he was rescued by the guardian spirit of the mountain.

Comments on the Jataka

In the first part of the Jataka when the young chief Queen met Prince Pamuda, she was overcome by tanha (lust). But the Prince cultivated alobha, the opposite of greed and lust. Later on, the young chief Queen, in order to cover up her wickedness, made up stories against the prince. This was the application of maya combined with musavada (falsehood). Then the Kind was overwhelmed by anger from the time he heard the fabricated story of molestation till the time he sentenced his own son to death. The character of Prince Paduma reveals the characteristics of alobha, non-greed, non-grudge, patience and loving-kindness. In this Jataka, the prince was Bodhisattva, the young chief queen was Cincamana-to-be, and the King was Devadatta-to-be.

Action and Reaction

After he was pushed down from the top of the mountains, the prince was conveyed by the serpent king to his kingdom, where he stayed for a year. The he returned to the human world where he lived the life of a recluse. After some years, a hunter saw him and reported the matte to the King. The King, his father came to him and asked him to return to the palace, but Prince Paduma refused and remained a hermit. The King now learnt the truth and flung down his young chief Queen from the top of the mountain. She suffered greatly for her evil deeds before she died.

7. Amoha Or Paññā (Wisdom)

Amoha means intelligence, knowledge, wisdom. This metal factor enables one to dispel the darkness of ignorance and delusion which conceals the truth. Moha (delusion) and amoha (knowledge) are two extreme opposites.

The Wisdom (Paññā)

Wisdom is of two categories, real and unreal. The wisdom is knowing and understanding the action (kamma) and results thereof vipaka; knowing and understanding the scriptures and the Dhamma; knowledge of insight (Vipassana Nana); knowledge of the Path (Magga Nana); knowledge of Fruition (Phala Nana), and the Buddha's Omniscience. All these forms of faultless knowledge are called wisdom (paññā).

False Wisdom

Some so-called “clever” persons are well versed in oration, persuasion, lying, swindling and pretensions. Such kinds of cleverness are not true wisdom. They are fake knowledge of vancana paññā (false wisdom), meaning knowledge of deceiving others. Some people excel in martial arts or in making and using sophisticated weapons. Such knowledge belongs to the class of mental factors called vitakka. It is an akusala, unwholesome mental factor.

It should be noted, however, that false wisdom cannot be found in the stupid, the dull and the low IQ persons; it can be found only in highly intelligent or educated person. The law of Patthana (Conditional Relations) say that true knowledge can give support false understanding; that is real wisdom may help the formation of false wisdom, by means of Pakatupanissaya Paccaya. Accordingly intelligent persons may follow the right path and attain the highest positions in doing kusala (moral deeds); but they may also excel in doing evil and cause harm and malice to the greatest extent possible.

Inherent Wisdom and Acquired Wisdom

Real wisdom may be divided into (1) Jati paññā and (2) Pavatti paññā. Those who are born with alobha, adosa and amoha are called tihetuka puggala (three-rooted persons). Since their birth they are blessed with three good-roots. So their amoha (wisdom or non-delusion) starts with their birth. Therefore they learn and understand quickly and are able to think profoundly even at a young age. Such wisdom is jati paññā.

Pavatti paññā means the intelligence and wisdom acquired at a later age through training and learning. They ask questions, attend lecturers and try their best to accumulate knowledge. This acquired wisdom at a later time is called pavatti paññā. He who lacks of jati paññā can develop pavatti paññā by learning diligently under a competent teacher. Those who are endowed with jati paññā at birth and amass pavatti paññā later will crown their lives with all-round success.

How to Cultivate Jati Paññā

Wisdom gained at birth only brings worldly success and benefits but also produces good results in vipassana (Insight meditations) or Dhamma practice. Only persons with jati paññā can win Bodhi-Enlightenment, Magga and Phala Nanas. Therefore, a person should cultivate jati paññā right now for future existences. To do so, one must first cultivate a strong will to acquire intelligence and knowledge. After getting this noble inspiration you must read good books, and discuss with learned teachers and wise sages. Seek advice from them. Such effort will augment ample pavatti paññā and make you a rational and comprehensive person and sow the seeds of wisdom for future lives in samsara. However, you must not rest content with your present achievements.

In order to gain knowledge and wisdom you must be habitually meat and clean in dress and manner. Whenever you perform Dana (almsgiving), or other meritorious deeds, you must make a noble wish and say, “May I gain intelligence and wisdom due to these deeds.” When you offer alms to the Bhikkhus you must propagate goodwill thus; “May the Bhikkhus teach and learn the noble Dhamma everyday and be crowned with wisdom.” If possible you should build and establish monasteries for monks learning the Dhamma and revere able teachers who would promote the teaching of the Buddha.

You should, if possible, give aid to schools, colleges and such institutions, with a view to support the education of the country. You must always be willing to impart what you have learnt. Propelled by such efforts, you will be a wise sage while you roam about in samsara (the cycle of rebirths). These are a few guidelines on how to be blessed with jati paññā in the existences to come.

The Differences Between Saddha (Faith) and Paññā (Wisdom)

Faith here means devotion to almsgiving, or doing service with a view to be reborn in luxurious abodes. Such a devotion seldom contains and inspiring thought for the advancement of one's country, race and religion. Paññā (wisdom) develops good deeds with serious thought for one's country, race and religion and does not put in the fore the welfare of one's own future existences knowledge full well that good deeds will produce good results. Thus wisdom and faith are fundamentally different.

One's own country of Myanmar can be viewed through the eye of faith or though the eye of wisdom or both. If either faith or wisdom goes to the extreme, one's view and judgment will be biased. It is imperative that one must have a balanced attitude that synthesizes wisdom and faith to the best results. There is a saying, “Faith leads to tanha (lust), while wisdom ends in Maya (deception).”


In this book I have not attempted to elaborate on the balanced approach because a separate treatise will be needed to cover this topic.

An Exhortation

O citizens, Whether knowledge is real or unreal, the importance lies in the nature of one's mind. Just as the heart is vital for living organisms, a good attitude is always a paramount importance here and hereafter. Wisdom determines the prosperity of the present as well as the future existences. Only the wise can understand fully the benefits of Dana (charity), Sīla (morality) and other parami perfections (virtue). Only through wisdom can one fulfill the virtuous perfections.

In worldly affairs, happiness of family life solely depends upon the wisdom of the man and wife. In family management and prosperity also wisdom leads to diligence and hence to desired goals. In public congregations only the wise will be held in high esteem. Those who are unwise and uneducated will not rise to top place in society even if they are immensely wealthy.

Knowledge is the dominant force in the modern world. The rich accumulate wealth because of the know-how of the intellectuals and technologists with whom they work in collaboration. From the smallest conflict to global wars, victory is always on the side of the intelligent, the technically advanced. In the Catudhamma Jataka the Bodhisattva monkey emerged victorious over a huge crocodile in its own territory, the river, by means of a clever tactic. (Although this tactic cannot be said as true wisdom, it proved that wisdom can bring forth victory in worldly affairs; this is the moral of this Jataka).

In the Mahosatha Jataka the Bodhisattva’s country was attacked by a mighty army led by King Culani and his Minister Kevatta. By means of his intelligence and tact, Mahosatha repelled the mighty foes that finally fled in disarray.

In the past, Myanmar was left well behind in science and technology. So she fell to the imperialists who finally occupied Myanmar for over 100 years. Myanmar, being rich in natural resources, had been a fat target of many aliens some of whom today making good use of their superior technology to exploit our wealth of oil, minerals and forests.

Even up to present time some foreign merchants and traders, through perseverance and diligence, are doing well in Myanmar. We are the victims of foreign aggressions because we cannot respond to the pressing demands of time. We lack industry and vigilance. In fact we are still slumbering like a “wandering ascetic, whom is still snoring under a banyan tree with his basket beside him.”

O Citizens! A nation with a inferior technology and know-how will spiral down in status in the family of nations. Patriotic teachers and educators should guide people on the right path. Students should seek knowledge earnestly. The virtuous wealthy and the Bhikkhus should contribute to the betterment of education and intelligence. Only with such endeavors on a national scale will we be able to nurture a new breed of intellectuals and intelligentsia; and only then will we be successful in this life and become inherent wise sages in the lives to come.

8. Mettā (Loving-Kindness)

There is particular mental factor (cetasika) such as mettā. The adosa cetasika when it is meant to connote wishing others welfare, peace and progress, is known as mettā. Therefore mettā is the sincere will to help others, to see other prosper and to radiate loving-kindness to others.

False Mettā

There is also a form of mettā, which exists among relatives, lovers, husbands and wives. Such mettā also constitute wish and deeds of helpfulness to each other. They are said to be 'in love' with one another. They also used the word mettā for this type of attachment. But it is actually lust or attachment termed gehasitapema - love for the household already treated under 'lobha'. This is not true and sincere mettā, loving-kindness.

Once a layman approached his reverend Bhikkhu and asked him the proper way to practice mettā bhāvanā. The Bhikkhu said, “Start radiating mettā on the one you love best”. So, as he loved his wife best, he started mettā meditation on her that night just outside her room. After some time he became so overcome with love that he rushed to her room. As the door was bolted shut he bump his head at the door and received bruises. This kind of love is called gehasitapema.

A Cow's Love for Her Calf

One cannot say such forms of pema never develop into true mettā; even a cow's love for her calf can bring about arising of kusala citta (wholesome consciousness). Once upon a time, while a cow was breast-feeding her young calf with true mettā, a hunter threw a spear at her. But, due to her immense mettā for her calf, the spear became flaccid like a palm leaf and caused her no harm at all. This is the evidence that love between relatives; friends, husband and wife, parents and children can be developed into true mettā.

The Mettā Of Queen Samavati

In the ancient kingdom of Kosambi, King Utena had three queens, namely Samavati, Magandi and Vasuladattadevi. While Samavati was devoted to the Ti Ratana (Three Gems) and Magandi, since her maiden days bore a grudge against the Buddha. She used to find fault on Samavati, who always practiced mettā bhāvanā. King Utena rotated his visits to the three chambers of his queen respectively; and he was very dexterous with the harp.

One day, when the turn to visit Samavati's room came, Magandi put a poisonous snake which she got from her uncle, into the cavity of the King's harp and placed many garlands so as to stop the snake from coming out. Then she told the King not to go to Samavati's chamber as she had horrid nightmare to be interpreted as bad omen. But the King, heedless of her warning, went to his beloved's chamber. Magandi followed him as if she was concerned about the King's safety.

When the King reclined on Samavati's couch after dinner, she secretly removed the garlands to let the snake out of the cavity. The snake being full of fury made a hissing sound and approached the King. Magandi pretended to be shocked, scolded Samavati and her attendants and blamed the King for not listening to her warning.

King Utena, being ignorant of Magandi's sinister plot, got very angry and picked up his bow and arrow to shoot the innocent Queen and her attendants.

At that moment, Samavati told her attendants no to feel hatred or anger, against the King and Magandi but only to propagate mettā, as they have always been doing (loving-kindness) to them. She said expect mettā there was no savior in sight at such a time. She urged all to emanate mettā thoughts to both the King and Magandi as much as possible, and dispel all thoughts of grudge, anger and revenge.

So the attendants well tamed under the guidance of Queen Samavati, cultivated loving-kindness to King Utena and Magandi. The angry King could not conquer his anger and released an arrow. Due to the power of mettā, the arrow turned back towards him. At once the King recovered his senses and kneeling in front of Samavati, begged for forgiveness. He now realized his own thoughtlessness.

Moral of the Jataka

Queen Magandi was envious and jealous of Queen Samavati who was more beautiful and popular. She was infested with issa and dosa. She plotted evil schemes with maya. King Utena, on seeing the snake, was overcome with dosa. When the arrow boomeranged, he experienced great fear under the influence of dosa domanassa. Queen Samavati and her attendants being basically good-natured propagated mettā even towards their enemies.

In this age, those who want to live a highly virtuous life should emulate the attitude and behavior of Queen Samavati. In the face of envy, jealousy and ill will one should improve one's mind and extinguish the desire to avenge on others. Given the opportunity to do service to others, do so even to those who have malicious to you. Make good use of the priceless weapon known as mettā. Mettā is water; dosa is fire. The more the water, the easier it is to flight the flames. Therefore, one ought to try to diminish one's anger and foster loving-kindness.

9. Karuna (Pitta, Compassion)

Karuna means great pity for the less fortunate beings. Karuna incites the will to save unfortunate sentient beings, and to alleviate the sufferings of others. When one sees a person in misery, there arises the wish to kelp them. If he cannot do so, he will be uneasy and concerned. This is not true karuna. It is only domanassa (mental suffering) based on pity, which mostly occurs in the hearts of good people. Therefore, although it is a domanassa, this akusala, is not a great evil. This is in fact a natural to good, compassionate people.

Unreal Karuna

Sometimes a man will feel pity for his relatives and friends who are in trouble and wish to save them. Actually, this mental factor is soka (sorrow) and not true pity. Real karuna give rise to pity and compassion whilst the unreal gives rise to worry anxiety.

The Mentality of the Virtuous

All good-natured persons will fell karuna (pity) for the less fortunate ones when they actually see them. However, they will radiate mettā (loving-kindness) only on their friends, relatives and kith and kin. But the true virtuous persons who are fulfilling the ten perfections and those holy persons already accomplished in oaramis particularly the Bodhisattva, have great compassion for all sentient beings feeling greatly concerned for the danger of apaya and ill consequences of their evil deeds falling on them, just as parents feel pity for their poor, suffering children. They can extend their mettā on all sentient beings without discrimination. They can be compared to parents who love their children equally, even the naughty ones.

Mettā and karuna had acquired firm roots in mental and physical continuum of the Bodhisattva in every existence while fulfilling paramis and they became fully matured at the time of Supreme Enlightenment. By virtue of this Gotama Buddha looked upon Mara with unshaken mettā to conquer him when Mara imposed great interference and hindrance on him on the eve of Buddhahood. The Buddha did this by emanating mettā incessantly with supreme forgiveness to Mara who was bent on destroying him. In the same way the Buddha conquered Devadatta who plotted to kill him.

In the present day, those who strive to be virtuous and noble should emulate the good examples of Bodhisattvas. They should reject the concept: “I will be good only to be good.” Instead they should replace it with the attitude: “Although they are bad, I will return only good to them. Whether they are good or bad, I must do them good.” And they should bear in mind to bestow sincere mettā and karuna on everyone.

10. Mudita (Sympathetic Joy)

The feeling of sympathetic joy at the success, welfare and prosperity of others is called Mudita. In life, evil-minded people experience envy, jealousy, greed, etc. when someone gains popularity, promotion, wealthy, education, status, position, etc. but noble-minded people, when seeing or hearing of such events, feel glad; they applaud the success of other people with sincerity. They reason life this: “Oh, they gain wealth, power and success and popularity because they have sown the seeds of kusala-kamma, good and noble actions in the past, and now they are reaping their due harvest.” This is true Mudita.

False Mudita

False Mudita means excessive joy and gladness at the well-being of one's own relatives and friends. This gladness resembles Mudita but actually it is a false one. Such extreme joy even to the point of tears is known as piti somanassa, which is associated with tanha and lobha. But all such gladness and joy must not be taken as false, because there can be genuine Mudita too.

11. Upekkha (Equminity)

Upekkha is equanimity or even-mindedness on all beings (In Abhidhamma texts, upekkha is referred to as tatramajjhattata cetasaka.

Upekkha is unlike loving-kindness for there is no love involved; it is unlike sympathetic joy for there is no gladness; it is unlike anger, for there is no hatred or malice. It dwells on the fact that kamma brings about good or bad consequences accordingly. The these of upekkha is kamma Saka - One's own action are one's assets.

But today we often use this word upekkha concerning naughty children or pupils. That means, people remain indifferent to the welfare of their children or pupils whether they behave well or not. It amounts to sheer neglect of duties. In the case of upekkha, the persons concerned are taken into consideration with an unbiased mind free from extremes of love and hate. Upekkha can occur in the mind of ordinary people. But jhana upekkha can be attained only after the mastery of the three fore runners namely mettā, karuna and Mudita.

The Four Divine States of Mind (The Four Brahavihara)

Mettā (loving-kindness), karuna (pity), Mudita (sympathetic joy), upekkha (equanimity) are collectively called the Four Brahmavihara, the four states of minds. [Brahma = divine and vihara = living].

Therefore in the noble practice of Brahmavihara, one has to anchor his mind and action on one of the four divine states. Living such a life is not arid with the heat of hatred, envy and jealousy. It is a life steeped in and imbued with the four Brahmavihara.

In Myanmar such noble states of mind are collectively classified as brahmaco (saturated and filled with divine thoughts). But some say the word brahmaco is derived from the Pali word Brahmacariya.

Developing Mettā

Keep your mind incessantly occupied with mettā and you will really develop mettā for all. In other words mettā must be developed so that your mind becomes enriched with loving-kindness.

Transmitting Mettā

When you radiate mettā directed to someone while concentrating your thoughts on that person and wishing: “May so and so be prosperous,” your mettā will communicate with the person on the receiving end. It happens as if your mettā has reached that person's mind. Therefore when you transmit mettā directly to someone, people today say you “send mettā to someone.”

The Common Mode Of Sending Mettā

Recite (in Pali), “Sabbe satta avera hontu, Abyapajja hontu, Anigha hontu, Sukhi attanam pariharantu.” This means:

  • a. May all beings be free from danger.
  • b. May all beings be free from domanassa (mental suffering) and have peace of mind.
  • c. May all beings be free from physical sufferings and be well.
  • d. May all beings be prosperous and maintain themselves to live a long life.

Effective Sending Of Mettā

Only when you earnestly wish the well-being of someone or some beings can we say that mettā has been radiated properly. If you just say, “Avera hontu” by rote learning with a wandering mind and without concentration, then you are not sending mettā as you intend to do. It is better therefore to recite in one's own vernacular rather than in Pali so that you really comprehend what you are uttering. You should mention a person by name when you send mettā;

For example: “May my mother be free from dangers and difficulties; may she attain mental and physical happiness; may she be in good health and may she live long.” You should say these words with great enthusiasm and sincerity. The same holds true for your father, teacher, etc. In the case of mettā for all living beings also you replace 'my mother' with 'all living beings.'

In short, you can just recite: “May my mother be free from danger and may she be well.” “May my father be…” “May my teacher be…” The only essential point is to have keen interest and enthusiasm for their welfare, peace and progress.

How to Send Karuna

Karuna cetasika means loving compassion for all beings suffering from misery. The essence is the sincere wish to deliver them from their present and future woes. Therefore in propagating karuna people recite in Pali: “Dukkha muccantu” which means, “May one overcome prevailing woes”. Real karuna is the profound wish for others to be free from sufferings and come to prosperity. Wishing “May so and so die quickly” so as to bring his suffering to a quick end is not true karuna. It amounts to byapada ducarita (unwholesome mind tainted with worry).

How to Send Mudita

Mudita is sympathetic joy (altruistic joy) at the success, prosperity and achievements of others. It is the sincere wish to let others continue enjoying their wealth, position, progress, happiness, fame and so on. To send Mudita, one should recite wittingly: “Yathaladdha sampattiyo mavigacchantu” which means, “May they continue to possess success, happiness they have achieved” and radiate sympathetic joy when you witness the well-being of a person. A mere recitation of Pali words does not constitute real Mudita.

How to Send Upekkha

Upekkha is equanimity, which is viewing rightly and having no partiality. To send upekkha is to reflect, “one's only asset is kamma whether good or bad; it determines the consequences, pleasant or miserable.”

The main concept is that even if you sincerely wish someone to be rich, his past and present kamma is the real deciding factor; similarly even if you feel sincere pity for a person, only his kamma will save him from his troubles. Irrespective of your sympathetic joy and equanimity, his own fate is sculptured by his kamma. Hence kamma Saka are not your worry.


These Four Divine States of mind, the four Brahmaviharas have different projections. Mettā projects loving-kindness and affection on all living beings. Karuna projects pity and compassion on beings suffering from misery. Mudita will take successful beings as its objects and project sympathetic joy. Upekkha views all beings as subjects to kamma, and projects equanimity on them.

Therefore it should be noted that one couldn’t project four Brahmacariya at the same time onto all beings onto a single person. When you wish to radiate mettā thought-waves, you ought to recite the four lines: “Avera hontu pariharantu…” or either Myanmar version with great concentration of mind.

Similarly you can project karuna onto suffering beings in Pali or in Myanmar. Merely uttering Pali verses without understanding is meaning or with no sincere wish will not be effective. Perfunctory rituals are common among Buddhists nowadays. Therefore pious and faithful are duty bound to put more emphasis on setting good examples for the new generation to emulate.

12, 13 And 14 The Three Abstinences (Samma Vaca, Samma Kammanta, Samma Ajiva)

When one is studying the three-virati cetasikas, one should possess the knowledge of ten ducaritas (evil conducts).

This book will make no elaboration on these. The ten evil conducts must be categorized into two groups; i.e. those concerned with one's profession and those, which are not. For instances, killing in order to rob, to assassinate or to earn one's living as a hunter or as a fisherman, and such like, are evil deeds which are concerned with earning a livelihood, micchajiva. Taking life due to anger or hatred is ducarita not related to profession! Likewise all other evil deeds can be divided into two classes.

In the case of false witness or advocating for unjust cause in court, earning an income by telling tales and fables as a narrator etc. are unwholesome deeds related to livelihood. False speech, verbal rudeness, making up false statements, etc. are vaciducarita not related to profession.

Virati (Abstinence)

Abstinence from kayaducarita (evil conducts) and vaciducarita (evil speech) is called varita (abstinence). If you refrain from telling falsehoods related to profession even though you have the change to lie, it is samma vaca virati (abstinence for the sake of good speech). But if the abstinence is concerned with your profession or livelihood, it is samma ajiva virati (abstinence for the sake of right livelihood).

The avoidance of killing even if you get the chance is samma kammanta virati if not related to livelihood. But if this avoidance is concerned with livelihood it becomes samma ajiva virati.

Other Good Deeds Not Belonging to the Class of Virati

In life there are also other good deeds, which are not of the nature of the three abstinences mentioned above. They are kusala (good actions) not associated with these virati cetasikas. Such deeds as saying good words, reciting Pali formula for observance of precepts such as “Panatipata veramani sikha padam samādhi yami” etc. are known as samma vaca (good speech). They form wholesome cetanas. Almsgiving, paying homage to Buddha, listening to the Dhamma, etc. are samma kammanta (good deeds). Such good speech and good deeds originate from wholesome cetana. Traditional occupations such as trade and commerce are samma ajiva (good livelihood). But in all these cases, as there is no virati cetasikas involved; they are said to be just kusala cetasikas.

Virati in Three Actions

There are three practical aspects of each of the three virati mentioned above. They are samaDana virati, sampatta virati and samuccheda virati. The first, samaDana virati is abstinence by means of observing sīla (precepts). If you get a chance to kill a cow but you observe panatipata (refraining from killing) precept, and you spare the cow then you gain samadan virati merit.

Once there was a layman, who after taking precepts from a Bhikkhu, went to the fields to search for his list cow. While he was ascending a hillock, a big python entwined his leg.

As he was about to kill the snake with his sword, he remembered he had taken sīla (precepts) from his teacher so he did not harm the snake. Due to the power of sīla, the snake let him free and went away. Abstinence at the time of taking precepts or after doing so amounts to samadana virati. [Samadana = observance of precepts; virati = abstinence]

Incidental abstinence is classified as sampatta virati. For example, in ancient Ceylon (Sri Lanka), a lay devotee named Cakkana was tending to his sick mother whose physician recommended rabbit's meat as a cure. So the layman went in search of a rabbit. He caught a small one in a paddy field and was about to kill when he suddenly felt pity for the timid animal and set it free. Back home he told his sick mother the incident then made a solemn vow, “Since my coming of age, I had never taken the life of any living being with a will to do so.” Due to his noble, solemn truth his mother recovered from her ailment. In this incident, the layman had not observed any sīla beforehand. But at the time he caught the rabbit, instant compassion made him refrain from killing. This is a case of sampatta virati. [Sampatta = incidental; virati = abstinence]

When a person attains supra-mundane Magga citta he becomes totally free from kelisa (and abstain from all evil deeds). Such abstinence is classified as samucchedha virati, complete riddance of all evil [samucchedha = complete; virati = abstinence]

In this way, each basic virati cetasika is further divided into three sub-classes.


Here end the chapter on kusala cetasikas, good or wholesome mental factors which influence our mind. Akusala cetasikas, bad or unwholesome mental factors which contaminate our minds had been covered in Chapter Two. Now you should consider deeply which type of cetasikas, good or evil, occurs most in our minds.

We have known that good mental factors (cetasikas) have their counterparts such as unreal faith, unreal mindfulness, unreal shame, unreal fear and so on. But in the case of unwholesome mental factors you will notice that there are no good counterparts at all. Therefore you can now realize the evil outnumbers the good, and our mind are mostly influenced by unwholesome mental factors. Even when good, wholesome mental factors occur they are tainted with evil version.

Now you know that unwholesome thoughts, unwholesome mental factors and evil deeds are the cause of long duration of samsara (the cycle of births and deaths). As a human being endowed with intelligence and wisdom, if you continue to allow evil of misdeeds outnumber good deeds you will not achieve Nibbāna, the supreme bliss, no matter how often you pray for it.

I would therefore exhort everyone to become a member of the community of really good noble persons, with self-respect rather than that of hypocrites pretending to be good persons.

As for me, I wish to be able to nurture a noble, flawless and pure mind in all future existences; and to be free from pariyaya, maya and satheyya. May my associates, friends and acquaintances walk on this path of righteousness and become truly virtuous personages.

[Here Ends The Chapter On Kusala Cetasikas
Which Have Good Influence On The Mind]

Chapter Four

Cetasikas Associated With Both Good And Bad Cittas (Mind)

1. Phassa

Phassa cetasika is touch, contact between mind and its object. Here it means not physical contact, such as touching by hand or body or collision between two objects but the contact between mind and arammana (object) although mind is an immaterial state. It functions here as the aspect of touching on an object. So phassa is defined as touching, contacting or linking. In some cases such mental functions are as prominent and perceptible as physical contact.

Let us elaborate; when a recuperating man sees a boy eating a lemon, he will salivate profusely. A timid person when he sees two man brawl trembles with fear. When an adolescent girl hears the voice of a boy of the same age group, she feels a peculiar flutter in her heart. The same applies vice versa. These instances prove that mental functions as aspects of touch, contact, etc. can occur and produce such reactions. This form of contact called phassa is very common in the world. Phassa is concerned with wholesome and unwholesome objects and it is associated with good mind and bad. The mind becomes wither moral or immoral, good or bad, as the case may be. Thus phassa is the common cetasika for both good and the bad minds, just as adding salt makes both good and bad dishes salty. Other cetasikas, such as veDana, which will be dealt with later, are also common to both good and evil minds.

Phassa cetasika is also present in vipaka cittas and kiriya cittas which are neither good nor bad.

2. Vedana (Feeling)

The next cetasikas is vedana, which means feeling or sensation. We already know that there are six sense objects such as ruparammana (sight), saddarammana (sound), etc. which give rise to feelings. These six external sense-objects can be subdivided into three classes:

  • i. Ittharammana (the pleasant)
  • ii. Anittharammana (the unpleasant)
  • iii. Mijjhattarammana (the neutral)

Sense objects that are desirable and that appeal to people are termed ittharammana (pleasant sensations). Beautiful appearance, sweet sound, enticing smell, relishing taste, sensual touch, good names, excellent buildings are all ittharammana.

What most people regard as undesirable as bad, ugly, distasteful or unattractive feelings or sensations are classified as anittharammana. Ugly appearance, horrid sound, oppressive smell, insipid taste, unwelcome touch, bad names and squalid buildings are all anttharammana. There also are neutral external objects, which are neither good nor bad. An appearance which is neither beautiful nor ugly, for instance, is mijjhattarammana.

Vedana is of five kinds namely:

  • i. Sukha (pleasure)
  • ii. Dukkha (suffering)
  • iii. Somanassa (mental well-being)
  • iv. Domanassa (mental suffering)
  • v. Upekkha (equanimity)

When one enjoys the agreeable sensations of ittharammana one feels sukha vedana (pleasant feeling). This feeling causes somanassa vedana (gladness of mind). The feeling of somanassa vedana becomes prominent while enjoying sensual pleasures such as ruparammana, saddharammana, and so on. Somanassa vedana also becomes prominent on seeing objects of devotional reverence such as the Buddha and the Dhamma, etc.

Coming across wretched objects causes dukkha vedana (physical suffering) or domanassa vedana (mental pain). The various characteristics of dukkha vedana in association with dosa cetasika, namely soka (sorrow), parideva (anguish), dukkha (suffering), domanassa (mental pain) and upayasa (anxiety) have already been mentioned in precious chapters. Physical pleasure and suffering arising from bodily contact are termed sukha and dukkha, respectively. Pleasure and suffering of mind in connection with eye, ear, nose, tongue and consciousness are termed somanassa and domanassa, respectively.

Majjhattarammana consists of very subtle neutral feelings. This is known as upekkha vedana. This type of feeling is difficult to discern yet it is very prevalent and common in daily life. We came across such feeling even while standing, sitting, walking, seeing or hearing. Even then one does not know upekkha vedana which is neither good nor bad arising. It is very subtle indeed.

All vedana can associate with kusala arammana (wholesome objects) as well as akusala arammana (unwholesome objects). The enjoyment of sensual pleasure as well as the bliss arising from appreciation of the Dhamma are therefore categorised as veDana.

3. Sañña (Memorizing, Recognition)

Sañña cetasika means memorizing, recognizing, or noting. Even unintelligent and dull persons have sañña because they can memorize some names and ideas. When children are told, “This is your father, this is your mother”, they store in their memory, “Papa” and “Mama”; when children see an aircraft they note with sañña cetasika that is an aircraft; those are wings, this is the fuselage, etc. When they visit a strange town they readily note landscapes, buildings and scenes. So, for everybody sañña functions in diverse ways.

Sañña affords two advantages - when a child comes to know a person as his father; he becomes to know him as his father at that time. At a later time too he remembers that person as his father. So sañña serves two purposes.

Sañña is different from paññā which recognizes only what is good. But sañña memorizes both good and bad, right and wrong. Due to false notions one will make mistake a tree-stump for a ghost at night. This is wrong recognition. People who believe the wrong to be right, the immoral to be moral are misled by ditthi cetasika as well as sañña cetasika. Such false faiths and wrong views are very difficult to correct or to reform when their sañña is very strong.

The Wide Range of Sañña

Sañña sometimes take false doctrines to be the ones so they cause endless sufferings in samsara. It is not only ditthi (wrong view) and tanha (lust) but also sañña (perception, recognition) that causes sufferings. For example, human beings find feces disgusting. Yet for maggots and worms feces is good food. Another example is the vulture which relishes on decaying dead bodies.

Only Buddhas and Arahants see the actual, truthful nature of all phenomena. Only such puggalas realize that all sensual pleasures are loathsome, and disgusting. The Buddha declares, “All sensual pleasure as vile and base, being the concern of common folk, indulged in by ordinary common worldlings, not pursued by noble one, not tending to one's own interest. The Noble Ones positively denounced all forms of sensual pleasures.

Yet many people do not follow the teachings of the Buddha. Most people are hotly pursuing various versions of sensual pleasures. Due to the misconception of the sañña, they are prolonging their suffering in samsara.

Sañña Mistaken As Sati

Recalling one's virtuous deeds is due to sati (mindfulness), as well as to sañña. But true mindfulness occurs only in the realm of kusala (good deeds). However, there are also false sañña and unreal sati too. Remembering one's first love for many years is akusala (unwholesome); it is not real sati. It is just the function of sañña in the disguise of sati. Please refer back to the function of false sati as mentioned in the relevant chapter.

4. Cetana (Volition, Goodwill)

The function of cetana cetasika is not instil volition (will) in the cittas (mind) and mental factors (cetasikas) that arise together with it.

A detailed explanation is as follows: When mind or consciousness takes on some kind of arammana (sense-object), it is phassa cetasika which makes contact with the arammana. This is followed by vedana which feels the sensation and sañña which recognizes it. Other mental factors such as ekagga, jivitindriya and manasikara which will be explained later, perform their respective functions and occur simultaneously with consciousness. When the mind takes on a certain arammana, it is also associated with good wholesome factors such as saddha and sati, or with unwholesome factors such as lobha and dosa.

Cetasikas always accompany citta to perform their respective functions, and each cetasika never lags behind citta, nor fails to perform their functions. All cetasikas and cittas arise and pass away simultaneously; they are always in unison and in pairs. The instigating force which prompts the mind and the mental factors to be always together on the objects is none other than cetana (volition).

Further explanations: All cetasikas which arise and disappear simultaneously, and the mind itself may be taken collectively as a group. In this group citta is the president, while cetana cetasika is the secretary. As the secretary if an association is usually very busy working hard for the good of the group, so also is cetana cetasika.

It, being the secretary of the group, has twice the amount the responsibilities as that of others. It is the busiest factor in the mind. It has to do its own work as well as of others, and may be compared to the commander of an army in the battlefield.

Therefore if your goodwill, if your cetana, your inner urge is feeble, all other remaining cittas and cetasikas will also be likewise; if your will is forceful and eager, all other cetasikas will follow suit. At the same time your physique also becomes alert and active. Then both mind and body become full of vigor. Therefore, cetana is the prime maker of your destiny. This cetana decides your fate and makes you what you are.

Cetana is Kamma

The Buddha says that cetana is kamma; volition is ethical action whether good or bad in daily life, cetana; volition is the chief. Let us assume a man was brutally attack and killed by a mob. In this atrocious deed, the blows of the most attackers were ineffective; only one member of the mob, prompted by a strong will, cruelly gave blow after blow which resulted in the victim's death. So only this man will be the culprit of the murder. Like wise a number of combinations of citta-cetasika function together in both kusala kamma (good actions) such as making of offering (Dana) or observance of precept (Sīla) and akusala kamma (bad actions) such as killing (panatipata). In such activities it is the strong cetana (will) which is the most potent and post responsible and which determines your destiny and appropriate results here or hereafter.

Cetana (volition) is the strongest force in the world, prompting or encouraging all kinds of kamma (actions) and their effects. Cetana is the true motive force of all kamma actions; hence the saying, “Cetana is the maker, the true culprit of kamma actions.”

Therefore the Buddha explicitly taught, “Cetanaham Bhikkhave kammam vadami - O Bhikkhus! I declare that cetana (will) to be kamma (action).” So a strong will makes a robust kamma, moral or immoral. If your will is feeble your action is also week.

5. Ekaggata (One-Pointed-ness Of Mind)

One pointed-ness of mind is classified as ekaggata. It is also called samādhi (concentration). So with the help of ekaggata, the mind can take any object for a long time repetitively. Just as the flame of a candle lit in still air remains steady and un-flickering so also it is ekaggata that makes the mind calmly concentrate on an object for a long time steadily.

In kamatthana meditations, when the mind can be fixed on one object constantly for along time it is known as “the attainment of samādhi” - the arising of a good concentration. When someone achieves some degree of samādhi he attains calmness, and steadiness in thought, word and deed. He become upright, free of erratic behavior, in social dealings also. However, ekaggata can be to engrossed in, obsessed with one particular arammana (sense object) only.

6. Jivitindriya (Vital Force)

All cittas and cetasikas are collectively classified as name. The life force or life principle of name is called jivitindriya. All cittas and cetasikas can function actively because of this life force or principle. If this jivitindriya is absent, mind cannot function at all. In short it is jivitindriya that prompts cittas and cetasika to continue arising according to kamma. There is also a living part called rupa jivitindriya in the material element. The vital force of mind and matter therefore termed nama jivitindriya and rupa jivintindriya respectively. These two in combination forms the “life” of a being. Apart from this two, there is no such thing as eternal soul, or ego. There is no attā (self) at all.

7. Manasikara (Attention)

Giving attention is classified as manasikara, its function is to call something to mind which is here called 'heart'. But it does not mean the actual bringing of outside sense-objects into the mind or heart. It is only because of the attentive power of manasikara that one or the other arammana is constantly present in the mind. So figuratively speaking it is said manasikara brings something to mind.

Seven Mental Factors Accompanying Each Arising of Mind

These seven types of cetasikas ranging from phassa to manasikara are always present in all types of consciousness. Other factors, such as saddha (faith), sati (mindfulness), lobha (greed), dosa (hatred), etc., appear with respect to appropriate objects in addition to the seven mental factors. Vedana cetasika is predominant while memorizing something. When you do a good deed or a bad deed cetana is predominant. When you concentrate on something ekaggata (samādhi) is predominant. The remaining three: cetasikas, phassa, and manasikara are never too prominent.

8. Vitakka (Thinking Or Initial Application Of The Mind On The Object)

Vitakka is thinking or planning. The three evil vitakkas are:

  • i. Kama vitakka (thinking about sensual pleasures)
  • ii. Byapada vitakka (thinking about hatred)
  • iii. Vihimsa vitakka (thinking about harming or ill-treating others)

The three good vitakkas are:

  • i. Nekkhamma vitakka (thinking about renunciation)
  • ii. Abyapada vitakka (thinking about loving-kindness)
  • iii. Avihimsa vitakka (thinking about compassion)

Kamma vitakka and Nekkhamma vitakka

When thinking is related to getting and enjoyment of sensual pleasure such as physical beauty, sweet sound, etc.; or when thinking about getting material wealth and how to get them, you have kamma vitakka, associated with lobha (greed). But if your thoughts are concerned with renunciation, to becomes a recluse or a Bhikkhu, to give charity, to observe the Uposatha precepts, to meditate, etc; they belong to nekkhamma vitakka because you are planning to escape from the clutch of greed.

Byapada vitakka and Abyapada vitakka

Byapada means ill will to destroy others, or to kill others. Thoughts based on dosa are called byapada vitakka. The direct opposite of ill will is loving kindness (mettā). Thoughts of wishing them well and planning to help them constitute abyapaa vitakka.

Vihimsa vitakka and Avihimsa vitakka

Vihimsa means ill will (dosa) to persecute, to do harm or to torture others. Motivated by dosa, when one thinks of or plans to persecute or kill or cause harm by any means, it is called vihimsa vitakka. On the other hand avihimsa means karuna (compassion or pity) which is the opposite of dosa. Thinking of delivering others from suffering is avihimsa vitakka. One can clearly see that vihimsa is akusala and avihimsa is kusala. Therefore we all should suppress the three immoral vittakas and promote the three moral ones.

9. Vicara (Sustained Application Of The Mind On The Object)

This mental factor occurs only after vitakka and it means sustained concentration. Functionally it is incessant thinking about an object. Vitakka can not stay fixed for long on an object but vicara captures the object brought by vitakka; it sustains the application of the mind on the object for a long time.

10. Adhimokkha Cetasika (Determination)

The cetasika which decides to do something is called adhimokkha. Deciding to do or not to do a deed or deciding between good and bad is the role of adhimokkha. This cetasika decides whether to do good deeds such as Dana (giving charity), observing Sīla (the Five or Eight Precepts etc.) or to do bad deed such as killing. Believing in fraud or falsehood perpetrated by someone is not the function of saddha cetasika; it is adhimokkha which decides wrongly to believe in such lies.

11. Viriya (Effort)

Viriya means effort or endeavor. An industrious person exerts effort decisively and boldly to realize his aims. Persons who lack viriya (effort) are the lazy, the timid; they have excuses in store. One who shuns work or is afraid to take responsibility and one who gives lame excuses such as being too early, too late, too cold, too hot, too hungry, too full, etc. to dodge work, are said to be the victims of thina (sloth) and middha (torpor). These two akusala cetasikas are the very opposite of viriya.

A man of viriya never falters, even in the face of hardships, difficulties and problems, He is not hesitant to sacrifice even his life to realize his aim. For example, as Bodhisattva, Prince Janaka, when his ship wrecked, jumped overboard boldly to safety and swam with great perseverance, to be saved by a good Devi. His shipmates all died while crying in fear and praying to their traditional deities. They were devoured by fishes and sharks by Prince Janaka swam unflinchingly for seven days with effort and observed uposatha precepts all the while. This is viriya endeavor and boldness in face of difficulties.

Health Care

The benefit of viriya is evident in everyday life. Regular walking, jogging, proper eating habit, personal hygiene, nutrition and medication are good habits, which call for viriya. Only the persevering and not the lazy can practice health discipline regularly to their own benefit.

Earning a Living

In the field of trade and commerce, those with viriya will in every way outdo those without. The lazy will always lag behind in every aspect. See for example the viriya of foreign merchants and traders in Myanmar. They rise early in the morning, tidy their shops, dress smartly and open their shops punctually. In contrast, most Myanmar traders are still in bed at that time. They lazily get out of bed with sullen faces. It is no wonder that they often fail in business. How can lazy people really prosper.

The Viriya of Myanmar Women

It is found that Myanmar women take leading roles in the business field. Shopkeepers are mostly females; in bazaars and shops Myanmar women play the active part. They can even support their children and unemployed male members of the family with their earnings. But for them Myanmar would be even more retarded in economy. It is due to the viriya of women that Myanmar could hold such a position in the world. We can surely say that if both men and women put in their efforts in equal scale, Myanmar would be more prosperous than ever.

Viriya in Education

Sadly enough, Myanmar males are as indolent in education as they are in business. In the examination results we find that less males come out with flying colors than females. In higher education, data reveals a relatively low percentage of success among males. Such poor performance in the academic field is mostly due to sloth and laziness among males students. Although parents and brothers and sisters support them to the best of their capability, they live extravagantly and do not study with vigilance and effort to repay their kindness; lack of viriya is the main cause.

Although they enter colleges and universities about the age of twenty, they are found to have achieved little. In history, we may recall that King Tabin-shwe-thi, King Bayintnaung and Prince Minyekyawswa, were already at the zenith of their careers at much younger age; hence they are now enshrined in the hearts of the people. If so why is that today's young men are not the diligent and brave youths that they should have been? They should nurture courage and viriya and become heroes like their forefathers.

The academic level among the Sangha is an unsatisfactory among the lay people. In the past, monastic education produced scholar-monks, learned writers and competent Dhamma teachers, from amongst the Sangha. These learned and wise Bhikkhus had always taken the role of teachers of the people. Some of them became advisers to the royalty. As of today, only if educational reforms are made in keeping with the times, the Sangha will be able t o resume the prestigious role as teachers of the laity. At present no such attempts are made and so the high status of the Sangha has plunged drastically; monasteries cannot even recruit new students or helpers. Consequently, the sasana itself is bound to decline year by year. The causes of such decline needs no elaboration here.

To sum up, the short-coming we are facing in economic, social, health and educational fields are mainly due to lack of viriya.

It is needless to say that the Buddha attained Omniscience Sabbannuta Nana and became the Enlightened One due to his unique viriya. Even after attaining Buddhahood, Gotama Buddha diligently taught his Dhamma for forty five years in a row. He always taught all sentient beings that to know the truth comes first and to practice along the true path comes second; both need viriya. He said, “Vayametheva puriso - true men are always industrious; Na nibbindeyya pandito - the wise are never indolent.”

Let Us Reform Ourselves

Today, many so-called Buddhist in Myanmar are inclined to ignore the noble teaching of Buddha on the benefits of viriya (perseverance). On the other hand believers of the other faiths are doing their work with great effort and reaping rich harvests to enjoy high standard of living. In fact they are following the advice and admonition of the Buddha as regards as viriya. Therefore they become men of great wealth and influence in conformity with the teaching of the Buddha. We Buddhist just look back to our glories and fail to achieve anything substantial; we take pride in our past achievements in history. We must also work diligently to become a developed nation. It is now high time to change out attitudes towards life and become industrious and diligent. Remember the words of Buddha: “viriyavato kim nama kammamno sijjhati - to a person with viriya, nothing is impossible.”

Although we have stressed the significance of viriya, we should remind our readers that we mean only “effort with intelligence' and not 'vain, useless effort”.

12. Piti (Joyful Satisfaction)

Piti is the feeling of joy or satisfaction. It is not the actual experience of pleasure. It is just the mental factor of satisfaction, comparable to a thirsty man's state of mind when he hears or sees the availability of water. On seeing water he experiences piti. On actually drinking water he experiences sukha veDana (pleasure). Such is the nature of piti.

Piti can be experienced even to the extent of causing the flesh to creep in meeting and talking with the affectionate one, on listening to music or one hearing Dhamma discourses. Once upon a time there was a pregnant woman who was left in the house when all members of her family went to a pagoda festival. She felt a forceful urge to pay homage to the pagoda situated at the top of the hill. So she clasped her hands and concentrated her mind on the virtues of the Buddha. While doing so, a very powerful piti overwhelmed her and her body floated in space to finally arrive at the pagoda platform.

Piti can also arise in the time of doing meritorious deeds, e.g. making offerings of blood, etc. In some case piti can be so vigorous as to become somanassa associated with tanha. In such cases one's countenance beams and one's body become agile and nimble. It goes without saying that those with adequate viriya are assured of reaching their goals one day. Then they may review their achievement and experience piti, enjoying the bliss of success.

We might recall that the Omniscient Buddha attained Enlightenment after conquering all kelisa while sitting on the throne of victory under the Bodhi tree. He was so enthralled with piti that he stood looking at his victory seat for seven days without even winking an eye. Those who are engrossed in satipatthana (meditation) also experience piti which encourages them to continue their practise for long periods of time. Such are the noble piti of virtuous and the zealous Ones endowed with viriya.

13. Chanda (Wish)

Sincere wish is a mental factor called chanda, it is unlike lobha because there is neither craving nor attainment involved. It is merely a wish to do or to acquire which occurs prominently in all living beings. When an infant has a desire to go to his mother, he will gesture with outstretched arms. The wish to travel, to see, to eat, to touch, to know, to understand, all fall into the category of chanda.

When one wishes to realize Nibbāna, to become a great disciple, a chief disciple, a Buddha, a King, a rich man, a Deva, a Brahma, a Bhikkhu, or hermit, to give charity, to observe precepts, to do good deeds, etc. all such wishes belong to the realm of chanda. Of course, there are feeble and vigorous degrees of chanda. Because of he Bodhisattva's wish was very strong, he exerted diligent effort in fulfilling parami perfections and finally attained Enlightenment and became the Tathāgata.

Those without an earnest wish to soar to great heights will not endeavor with due viriya. In order to instigate an eager wish, we must first think of the beneficial outcomes of a certain endeavor. Only when there is the incentive then there will be the propelling force that incites your effort. This first step of chanda is also called asa. Then we begin to realize that a desire cannot be fulfilled by merely wishing or praying. This finally leads to diligent effort which actually bears fruits.

Let us suppose you wish to travel to Yangon from Mandalay. This wish alone will take you to no where. You must be able to pay the fare for the journey. So you must acquire some money. Getting some money is effort (viriya). If you wish to realize Nibbāna, or to achieve Arahatship or to attain Enlightenment, you must diligently fulfill the required perfections with zeal and vigor to the necessary extent.

Those at the zenith of society today, whether they be lay or clergy are not celestial beings endowed with power and ability, who have descended from heaven. There are people who try to have their chanda (fulfilled) through viriya (diligent effort). It is a rare chance to be born a human being. So if you have no wish for betterment of yourself, and remain indolent, indifferent, inefficient, you will not be much better from an animal. With wilful chanda you can find the key to prosperity in this life and also find the right path to Nibbāna. It is imperative that you must cultivate both good asa and chanda everyday so as to reap the highest rewards.

“Chandavato kim nama kammam na sijjhati - with earnest desire everything is possible.” “Asa phalavati sukha - a sincere wish followed b zealous effort can bring good results and happiness.”


Here ends the account of thirteen cetasikas which are like salt that can be put into dishes tasty or insipid, These cetasikas associate with kusala cittas as well as akusala cittas. May all readers of this book cultivate chanda and viriya and earnest cetana to the highest degree on the kusala path. May I spend my time always performing wholesome deeds with samma chanda and viriya in every future existence. May all my acquaintances be endowed with cetana (goodwill) samma chanda (moral desire) and viriya (diligent effort) at all times.

Cetasikas can associate with either good or bad cittas as the case may be. Cetasikas influence the mind. So let no person live in laziness, in forgetfulness. Instigate yourself by strong will till you attain Nibbāna. Every good cetasika can be developed in your mind if you foster kusala chanda.

[Here Ends The Chapter On Cetasikas
Which Can Associate With Both Good And Bad Cittas]

Chapter Five

Carita (Nature, CharacterOr Habitual Conduct)

In The Previous four chapters we have explained the nature of cittas and cetasika. These two are concerned not only with good or bad thoughts in our present lives, but also with traits and predisposition accumulated in the past existences. Those who had accumulated good traits are blessed with good mentalities in this present life. And it is difficult to tame the bad minds of those had amassed bad traits in the past lives.

It is true that we can harness our bad predisposition by associating with the wise but when are parted from the wise and have our own way, we usually give in to the bad habits accumulated from the countless past existences. We lose our morality when not in the company of the virtuous just as molten lac hardens when deprived of heat. Even if you enclose the tail of a dog in a cylinder softening it with oil for twenty years, with a view to straighten it, you will find efforts in vain once the cylinder is removed. The tail will curved as it was.

Habits strongly and rigidly conform to one's characteristics. For example, even if you feed a dog well he will surely nibble on an old worn out shoe once he gets hold of one. Or at the least he will sniff at the shoe. Likewise a person with bad habits will be mean and base in words and deeds. Even when the noble, the wise help him to a high status he will occasionally expose his bad carita (characteristics or traits). He cannot get rid of his rooted habits. Therefore it is important to examine one's own carita and of others associated with one. What kind of carita or vasana do you have?

Carita (Nature, Character Or Habitual Conduct)

Carita is a predominant nature in one's behavioral pattern.

Carita is of six types:

  • 1. Raga carita (the greedy or passionate nature)
  • 2. Dosa carita (the angry nature)
  • 3. Moha carita (the deluded nature)
  • 4. Saddha carita (the faithful nature)
  • 5. Buddhi carita (the intelligent nature)
  • 6. Vitakka carita (the ruminating or pondering nature)

The first three are bad tendencies and the later three are good. A person can have one or a mixture of two or three caritas.

How to Judge A Person's Carita

One can generally identify a person's carita by watching attentively his gestures and movements, his style of living, the food he likes and his behavioral pattern. Person with raga carita and those with saddha carita display common carita and those with buddhi carita. And persons with moha carita and those with vitakka carita are similar in nature.

Person with Raga Carita and Saddha Carita

Both persons are usually gentle and polite. They are generally clean, neat and tidy. They prefer sweet, aromatic and tender food. Yet there are vast differences between these two characters. The one with raga carita, the lustful one has attachment to five sensual pleasures. He is wily, cunning, proud and greedy. On the contrary, the one with saddha carita, is more truthful and honest. He is generous in nature, and hence is liberal in charity. He is more or less pious, reveres the Three Jewels and enjoying listening to Dhamma discourses.


Both raga carita and saddha carita person are civilized and are fond of luxury. But the former is greedy, stingy, lustful and cunning while the latter is liberal, generous, devoted and pious.

Person with Dosa Carita and Buddhi

Both types are crude and unbecoming in department. They are usually slipshod and untidy. Both types live lour, salty, bitter or pungent food. They cannot understand sights and sounds. They always react with abusive words, hatred, violence, and wrath. So the dosa dominant person and the buddhi dominant person have common characteristics which become their second nature. (until such tiles as when they begin to reform).

Yet they differ vastly in many respects. The dosa carita person always shows grudge, revenge, envy, jealousy, slander, pride and stubbornness. The buddhi carita person is the opposite pole of the dosa domaint. He is free from grudge, jealousy and is amenable to good advice. He does everything with mindfulness and wisdom. He is quite aware of the coming existences and so is fond of doing good deeds for fulfillment of paramis.


A dosa dominant person is crude in manner, untidy and undisciplined, loves pungent food and reacts violently to ugly visual forms, and unpleasant sounds. A buddhi dominant person is free from the evils of the dosa carita. He is ready to learn from the wise and is generally mindful. He is farsighted and fond of virtuous deeds.

Person with Moha Carita and Vitakka Carita

A moha based person is associated with ignorance, delusion and forgetfulness. He is usually perplexed and confused. He cannot distinguished between right and wrong, good and bad. He is incapable of making his own judgments, so follows the opinion of others in denouncing or praising some one. Since he is devoid of sati and paññā (wisdom) he waste his time by being lazy, indolent and skeptic. He is the victim of sloth and torpor.

Like moha carita, the vitakka carita person also lives in the way of uncertainty and skepticism. He is indolent and incapable of doing moral deeds. He flocks with those of the same feather. He indulges in useless babbles, speculations and imaginations, so he becomes a useless person, squandering his time in vain.


A moha dominant person is generally idle, confused and deluded. He cannot differentiate vice from virtue and right from wrong. He lacks of power of judgment and is void of sati and paññā. As for vitakka person he is incapable of doing moral deeds being very lazy. He talks away his precious times and does nothing substantial.

The Origin of Carita

Carita distinguished one person from another, people differ in outlook, attitude, habit and tendency. Why? In the previous existences if his deeds were mostly influenced by greed, then kamma and vipaka cause him to be raga dominant. If dosa was significant in his deeds in the past lives his tendency in the present existence would be one of dosa carita. If ignorance accompanied his kamma in the past lives, now the result will be a moha dominant person. If a person loved wisdom in the past and did meritorious deeds pertaining to paññā, he will now be reborn as a buddhi carita person.

In the same fashion, deeds accompanied by saddha and vitaka will correspondingly result in saddha carita and vitakka carita. Thus we can now see that past deeds are the root cause of present carita. We ought, therefore, to perform meritorious deeds accompanied by saddha and paññā so as to acquire good caritas in the next existences.

Vasana (Tendency Continues Life After Life)

Predisposition plays a role in a person's life, past or present. Tendency to proliferate bad habits in promoted by kelisa (mental defilement). Vasana based on morality or good deeds is classified as samma chanda (wholesome wish). This vasana is inherent in the mind-continuum of all beings. Thus in your past kamma actions if you have cultivated greed along with them, your vasana will now be greedy in nature. If you do not reform this bad tendency in this existence, raga carita vasana will continue to dominate you in your future births as well. Dosa, moha, and vitakka characters also, will continue to dominate likewise. If you are endowed with paññā carita now and if you cultivate wisdom continually, this tendency will produce its own result here and hereafter. You will be reborn a person with paññā in forthcoming existences.

If you had resolved for the attainment of Buddhahood, you can, be virtue of your paññā carita vasana, achieve this supreme goal with paññā predominant, paññā dhika. If you had resolved to become a chief disciple, you may become one like the Venerable Shariputra, second only to the Buddha in wisdom through wisdom based good deeds in the series of past existences. Therefore it is of paramount importance that we abstain from duccarita in this life, to develop a virtuous noble carita in our next life.

Those who have raga carita, should as an antidote, mediate on unpleasant deplorable sense-objects such as decaying corpses. Then only tendency to lust will gradually fade away and disappear totally. As for dosa carita persons they should now practice mettā bhāvanā (loving-kindness meditation) constantly; mettā is the cool element which can extinguish the flame of hatred. Moha carita persons should approach the wise and learned and clarify their delusions. And they should practice Anapana (inhalation-exhalation) meditation disappear in due course. Those who already possess good traits such as saddha and paññā should try to develop these virtues further and further with appreciation and satisfaction.

I will now conclude my discussion on carita. May all acquire good caritas through my presentation. May my associates expel bad traits and nurture good ones from this existence and hereafter. May all priceless paññā carita dwell in my mind-continuum forever and ever. And may saddha carita enable me to devote only in the righteous.

[Here Ends The Chapter On Carita]

Chapter Six

Ten Domains Of Meritorious Actions

At This Stage of your learning, you should understand the Ten Evil Conducts (duccarita) also known as unwholesome course of actions (akusala kammapatha) and Ten Moral Conducts (sucaritha), mentioned in Ratana Gonyi of mine or in various others treatises!

Ten Domains Of Meritorious Actions (Ten Punna Kiriyavatthu)

Punna means that which purifies the mind, which in fact means good deeds. Kiriya means that which ought to be done. Vatthu means that which produces prosperity and welfare. These ten moral deeds give you the highest blessing called Mangala (the Auspicious).

The Ten Punna Kiriya Vatthu are:

1. Dana (Charity)

Dana means giving charity. There are two types of Dana, namely

  • i. Cetana Dana
  • ii. Vatthu Dana

Offerings of goods, robes, monasteries, etc are classified as vatthu (material) Dana, while the goodwill in these charitable acts is called cetana (volition). It is this cetana that produces beneficial results here and in the next existences, not the material things that are offered. This mental attitude which is projected onto the offertories determines the good results in future existences. If the offertories are good and noble, so also in the cetana.

A Further explanation: If, during an offering of alms-food to the Sangha, a donor has as his object of awareness the food he offers and the Sangha he is offering to; then a continuous stream of cetana (volition) occurs incessantly in his mind-continuum.

That cetana arises and disappears in very rapid succession, but does not disappears totally. The forces created by the cetanas just lie dormant to produce corresponding results later. (How the forces of kamma remain dormant in the mind-body-continuum will be explained in a section on kamma).

Taking into consideration that more than one trillion units of consciousness can occur and disappear within the snap of fingers, one might imagine the magnitude of cetana that occurred during an almsgiving rite which lasts, three hours.

Offertories and Recipient Promote Keen Cetana

Although offertories such as alms-food and recipients of offertories cannot follow the donor to the next life and bring benevolent, they certainly help to promote a keen cetena in the donors. For example offering specially prepared alms-food to the Sangha incites a vigorous cetana whilst offering ordinary alms food incites a somewhat feeble cetana. Again, charity given to worthy recipients incite a strong cetana whereas charity given to nominal recipient incite a frail cetana. In this way, offertories donated and the persons receiving the charity help promote a keen cetana in the mind of the donors.

The Quantity of Offertories

The respective efforts exerted to offer different amounts of offer different amounts of offertories may differ accordingly. For the zealous efforts in procuring a large quantity of offertories there will arise a strong cetana. Procuring only a small quantity of offertories will naturally call for less efforts and the corresponding cetana will be relatively less. In preparing for a large amount of offertories the pubba cetana (prior volition) will accordingly be immense, and vice versa. Therefore Dana of large and small quantity differ in effects because of the duration of cetana in each case.

If the Dana be grand and lavish so also is the cetana. During the time of Dana, the munca cetana (the prevailing volition) will also be in proportion to the Dana. After the Dana had been made, apara cetana (the post-charity cetana) will also be of equal scale whenever you think of this Dana again and again. Such states of mind are of common occurance.

Lavish Dana but Meager Cetana

Some donors offer alms-food, building, clothes, ritually or perfunctorily. If so, even though may be lavish and grand, their cetana is no match to it - they do not feel appreciate joy because the good deed was done with little volition. Therefore quantity or quality alone cannot determine the generosity of a donor. When King Dutthagamani Abaya was on his death-bed, he did not feel much joy in his merit of building the great Maha Cedi Pagoda, instead he felt great joy in recalling his small merit of offering one meal to a monk in the forest. Due to this great cetana he was reborn in the celestial abode of Tusita Devas. Therefore keep in mind that cetana only will determine your destiny, not the quantity or value of gifts you have offered. Cetana is more important than the lavishness of your charity.

Charity is Analogous to Sowing Seeds

Recipients are the fields
Donors are the farmers,
Offertories are the seeds sown
Benefits are the fruits \\

In the Peta Vathu Pali text it is said, “The recipient of the charity is like the land; the donor the farmer, the offertories the seeds sown. The benefits accrued later through out samsara are the fruits that are borne from the plants.

Let us elaborate:

  • a. In agriculture, the type of soil whether good or bad, determines the yield. Similarly, the integrity and nobility of the recipient determine the nature of beneficial results.
  • b. Just as vitality of the seeds sown determined the growth and productivity of the plants; the purity of offerings, gifts, whether they are procured through right livelihood or not, and the quantity, determine the nature of beneficial results.
  • c. Just as farmers will reap harvest in conformity with their skill in farming and efforts, so also donors will enjoy results depending on their level of intelligence, appreciative joy and their sincere effort in giving Dana.
  • d. Farmers have to prepare to till and plough their fields properly, before sowing the seeds to ensure a good yield. Likewise donors must have pubba cetana (pre-charity goodwill) before giving Dana. Result will depend on the intensity of their pubba cetana.
  • e. Farmers need to weed and water their fields; only then the plants will flourish. In the same way donors need to recall their charity and feel satisfaction for the meritorious deed. This apara cetana (post-charity volition) of the donor determined the nature of beneficial results.
  • f. If farmer, through folly, destroy their sprouts and seedlings they cannot enjoy the product of their labor. Similarly if donors feel that they shouldn't have done the almsgiving and regret for it afterwards, then they fail to enjoy good results due to their feeble apara cetana.
  • g. Even though the land and seeds are all in good condition, the sowing should be done in the right season, the right time so as to get a healthy crop. In the same way one should give alms to the needy, at the suitable time and place. Such charity brings about the best results.

There are such valuable lessons and guidance regarding Dana in the Peta Vatthu Pali text. Therefore in giving charity, the correct choice of recipient, the appropriateness of the time and place are very important. The Dana must be done with a blissful mind and cheerful volition. Moreover, one should not do Dana with a view to getting worldly wealth because such a wish is associated with greed and craving. Your cetana should be as pure as possible.

The Recipient Also Determines the Result

In the Peta Vatthu Pali Text it is mentioned that recipients of Dana are like fields where the seeds are sown. Farmlands, in general, are of three grades; the very fertile, the mediocre and the poor. Likewise, recipients are also of different grades. Just as farms free of weeds and grass are highly productive, so also if recipients are void of greed, hatred and ignorance, the donors enjoy benefits all the more. Just as farms will yield a plentiful harvest when they are rich in manure and fertilizers, so also good results will be accrued by donors when the recipients are persons of virtue and wisdom.

The Function of Dana

One is responsible for one's deeds. Let us suppose that a person is suffering from poverty due to his own kamma; giving assistance to this poor person amounts to Dana. Bhikkhus are not poor persons in a real sense, but they need four requisites for their sustenance; hence they are needy persons. Therefore offering alms and requisites to Bhikkhus also amounts to Dana.

Some Bhikkhus or abbots receive plenty of offertories and are will sustained. Yet if you offer them what they still need, this also is helping the needy. Even if you offer them things which they so not need, this also means helping the needy, because the recipients usually give away the offerings to other needy Bhikkhus and laity. Whether you help a few, or countless persons, Dana is noble, Dana is virtuous. Those who really understand the benefits of Dana will always find that Dana is a rightful deed.

Sanghika Dana (Charity Meant for the Order of the Sangha)

The Pali word Sanghika Dana means offering alms and other requisites to the Order of the Sangha. Suppose you donate one kyat to an association; all members rich or poor, are entitled to that one kyat. Similarly if a bowl of alms-food or a set of robes is offered to the Sangha, then all members of the order are entitled to those offertories. You need not go around the world to give alms to the Order of the Sangha. An offer to any member of the Sangha in general will automatically amount to Sanghika Dana. All members are entitled to such offertories. They can share it between them.

How to Projects One's Goodwill

In offering Sanghika Dana, a donor's mind must be directed to the Order of the Sangha in general. Even though you utter, “Sanghassa demi - I offer it to the Order of the Sangha”, if you have in mind a particular monk or a particular monastery, your charity cannot be Sanghika Dana. Offering alms food to any monk on daily alms-round, or to certain monk designated by the Order can be classified as true Sanghika Dana, when only the donor's mind is truly directed to the whole of Sangha.

Mental Attitude While Offering Alms-Food

The virtuous devotee, endowed with great faith in the Buddha wishing to promote long endurance of his teaching and emergence of succession of good, dutiful Sangha who would maintain the prosperity and purity of sasana, should support the Sangha organization by offering regular alms-food to its members. But when the alms-food has been prepared ready for offering, the devotee must remove any attachment as, “This is my Sayadaw; this is the monks I have helped ordained.” Instead, he must incline his mind to the whole Sangha while making the offering uttering at the same time, “I offer this to the Sangha, Sanghassa demi.” When the Dana performance is made daily in such a manner, the offering becomes a true Sanghika Dana.

The Invited Meal Can Become A Sanghika Dana

Going to a nearby monastery, the invitation must be offered to the responsible head-monk. “Reverend Sir, I wish to make an offering of alms-food at my house tomorrow at 6 am. Be kind enough to arrange to send one or two or three monks to partake of the meal. (One should not mention including yourself or the head-monk in making the invitation.)”

And, while making preparation for the tomorrow's offering of meals, one's mind should be directed to the whole Sangha, not to any particular monk of a particular monastery, and repeating often “Sanghassa demi.”

When the monk arrives the next morning for meal one must not feel let-down or disappointed if the recipient monks happens to be one of lower rank or junior status. One should remind one self, “The offering is not made to him in particular, it is meant for the whole Sangha” and make the meal offering with genuine respect and due devotion.

If the monk who comes to receive the offering should be the head monk himself, the devotees should not feel exultant either, he should remind himself that the offering is being made not just to the head monk only, but to the whole Sangha of which he is a member. Thus, when one can incline towards whole Sangha, the offering make to a monk appointed by the Sangha can be counted as Sanghika Dana, offering made to the whole Sangha.

A Donor's Goodwill

Once upon a time an immoral monk who was disliked by most devotees and donors are assigned by the Sangha. But a donor was not despaired, having his mind directed upon the Order of Sangha he respectfully offered food and other requisites to this bad monk. He treated this immoral monk as if he was Buddha himself, washing the feet of the monk as he arrived, seating him on a well scented seat under a canopy. Since his mind was directed onto the whole community, his charity qualifies as sublime Sanghika Dana, although the recipient is bad Bhikkhu.

Let us go further. Noticing the reverence he got from this donor, as mentioned above, the bad Bhikkhu considered to have found himself a devoted donor. The same evening the bad Bhikkhu wanted to do some repairs to his monastery; so he came to his donor to borrow a hoe. This time, the donor treated him with disrespect. He nudged the hoe with his foot and said rudely, “There!”

His neighbor asked him about the two different treatments he accorded to the monk. He replied that in the morning his reverence was directed to the Order of the Sangha and not to any monk in particular. For his rude behavior in the evening, he said, “The bad monk, as an individual, deserved no homage or respect.” The lesson is that when offering is made you should project your mind onto the whole Sangha Order so as to be able to count it as a Sanghika Dana.

How Good Results Differ According to Dana

Even if you offer alms to one, or two or more Bhikkhus, if you select them in personal terms the Dana becomes punggalika Dana (charity meant for individuals.) If you do so, even though you offer alms to a thousand Bhikkhus, you are only doing puggalika Dana. Except Dana specially offered to Buddha and Paccekabuddhas, Sanghika Dana excels all other forms of Dana. When we talk of Sanghika Dana, the Arahats are also included. In the case of punggalika Dana, Arahats may or may not be included. So we can safely deduce that Sanghika Dana amounts to offerings alms to the holiest Bhikkhus whereas punggalika Dana needs careful selection of the recipients Bhikkhu. It is quite logical to conclude that Sanghika Dana is much more powerful and much more beneficial than punggalika Dana.

Offerings of the Buddha

During the time of Gotama Buddha devotees were privileged to offer alms to the Buddha in person. But today the Buddha is no more with us in person. So we have to learn from the texts how to offer alms in devotion to the Buddha.

First you must prepare alms-food enough for one Bhikkhu and place in front of a statue of Buddha. If there happens to be no statue nearby, you can create a mental image of the Buddha and offer alms and reverence to that image. Then you must dedicate your cetana to the Buddha in person.

After such offering, the alms food may be given to a devotee who does voluntary service in keeping the pagoda precinct clean and tidy, whether he is lay person or Bhikkhu. A voluntary worker who keeps uposatha Sīla (Eight Precepts) can eat the alms-food before doing any service if the noon is drawing near.

At the time of great ceremonious charity if one wishes to offer alms-food to the Sangha led by the Buddha, the same procedure should be adopted to make offering of alms-food to the Buddha.

In offering robes in devotion to the Buddha the same attitude should be maintained. Monks who give voluntary services to pagodas are entitles to attire themselves in such robes. Care should be taken that offering flowers, incense or joss sticks, bouquets and water at the pagoda should not become a mess in front of statues and images. Your Dana must be given with tidiness, you will get good results in this life and hereafter. Your future existences will also be clean and flawless.

How to Pay Homage from a Distance

Usually, most devotees pay homage and offer alms to the Buddha images in their own household because they cannot afford the time to visit pagodas and monasteries everyday. There have been arguments on whether this is a deed of merit or not. Since we have already learnt that the deciding factor is the cetana, we can be sure that great benefits will be realized. If your volition is projected onto the Buddha, it is decidedly kusala cetana, so there is no reason not to gain any merit.

On hundred and eighteen aeons, kappa (worlds) ago, the Atthadassi Buddha attained Enlightenment. One day a layman saw the Buddha and his Arahat disciples traveling through the air by supernormal power, he offered flowers and scents from a distance. Due to his single good deed he was never reborn in the four woeful states for thousand of years and became an Arahat in the time of our Gotama Buddha. He was then known as Desapujaka Thera.

Three types of Cetana

All forms of charity for three types of cetana namely

a. Pubba Cetana

The good volition which occurs while procuring and preparing for charity is pubba cetana. Your cetana must be free from vain pride or selfishness such as, “I am the builder of this pagoda, I am the donor of this monastery; I am the donor of offertories” etc. While you are preparing for the charity you and members of your family must not indulge in quarrels and disagreements. You must not be hesitant in carrying on with the good deed once you have already decided. When you feel delighted and cheerful during our preparations throughout, you may then rest assured pure and sincere pubbha cetana will prevail.

b. Munca Cetana

Munca means renunciation, or detachment. Therefore, in the act of giving charity you must renounce the offertories from your possession completely. In offering alms-food to a bhikkhu your thought should be “I renounce this alms-food from my possession” and then physically offer alms to the recipient. This is munca cetana (prevailing volition). While performing kusala (good) deeds, no akusala (bad) minds such as greed, pride, anger, or attachment to the recipient, etc. should interfere. You should not crave for future benefits. Just freely let go the offertory generously.

c. Apara Cetana

The third cetana, which occurs at the completion of the deed of the merit, is the bliss of accomplishment you enjoy for having done a virtuous act. You feel joyous for your accomplishment of the deed, recall it often and wish to repeat it soon. This is the burgeoning of your apara cetana (post-charity volition).

However at a later time apara cetana can be contaminated if you feel dissatisfied at the loss of the property donated or if you feel disappointed with the abbot for whom you have donated a monastery. Then you might ponder, “May be I should not have given that charity.” If so, not only your apara cetana is spoiled but also you develop an evil attitude of dissatisfaction (akusala dosa).

A Warning

Building monasteries, constructing pagodas, etc. are Dana of great magnitude. There is also Dana of less magnitude when you offer alms or garments or when you give food, water, etc; to the needy. In giving charity of a great magnitude, you are liable to encounter interference from within yourself as well as from malicious elements.

Therefore if you plan to perform Dana of great magnitude you should not only plan for yourself but also seek good advice from friends and learned teachers. Only then you will get worthy recipients for your Dana. Choice of recipient is not so important in doing Dana of small magnitude; even feeding animals has its own merit. The crucial factor in doing Dana is to have the right attitude. Try to perform Sanghika Dana whenever possible. Never be attached to the offertories you intend to donate. Let your mind be filled with complete renunciation of the material things that you have set aside for charity. This attitude is called mutta cagi (mutta means detachment, renunciation and cagi means one with generous habit). So all donors should bear in mind not to be attached to the recipient; not to be attached to the offertories; not to pray or long for worldly luxury in the abode of humans and Devas; only to have the noble desire to attain the supreme bliss of Nibbāna. This will make you the ideal donor.

The Classification of Good Deeds (Kusala)

In the chapter on cetasika (mental factors) we have come across alobha (non-attachment), adosa (non-hatred) and amoha (non-delusion). These are called the three roots of hetuka (fundamentals). Like the roots of a tree which support the whole organism to be vigorous, these hetuka (roots) cause growth and development of the corresponding cittas and cetasikas.

Therefore kusala citta (good minds) can also be classified into two types:

a. Dvihetuka kusala citta

When a person fosters a good mind with aloba (non-greed) and adosa (non-hatred) his meritorious mind belongs to Dvihetuka kusala citta. Samma ditthi (right belief) is the acceptance of the cause and effect of kamma. This wisdom, which is included in the ten moral deeds, is also called Kammasakata Nana.

When an infant or even a wild tribe gives away something in charity, he feels a certain joy for having done so. But this joy is not accompanied by Kammasakata Nana, so there is no amoha in his kusala citta. There only are present two roots - aloba and adosa. Hence such citta is termed dvihetuka kusala citta.

Today, many Buddhists perform charities and alms-giving customarily without the proper knowledge about kamma and its effect. Such generosity is dvihetuka kusala citta. Even the learned do good deeds perfunctorily, so their kusala falls into the same category. In a nutshell, all good deeds done without insight-wisdom are classified as dvihetuka kusala.

b. Tihetuka kusala citta

A good mind associated with three roots alobha, adosa and amoha is called Tihetuka kusala citta. All good deeds done with the accompaniment of Kammasakata Nana (understanding of kamma and its result) fall into this category. Today many educated devotees do good deed for the sake of Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha as well as for their parents and elders with good attitude. Since their minds are associated with clear comprehension of resulting benefits in samsara, their deeds become Tehetuka kusala. If charity is done with vipassana thought, “These material things are really material groups, rupa, kalapa, associated with anicca, dukkha and anattā characteristics” it is needless to say that such mentality is decidedly Tihetuka kusala citta at tis best. It is therefore imperative that elders and parents should teach their young about kamma and its result, as well as the basic understanding of anicca, dukkha and anattā before doing meritorious deeds and before sharing the merits gained.

Superior and Inferior Kusala

In Pali, ukkattha means the superior while omaka is inferior. With both dvihetuka and tihetuka citta, if they are preceded and succeeded at the moment of arising of pubba cetana or while apara cetana is arising respectively by kusala cittas, the deed is classified as ukkattha kusala (superior good deed). If they are preceded or succeeded by akusala cittas, the deed is classified as omaka kusala (inferior good deed).

When we say preceded or succeeded by good or bad minds, we men only the attitudes directly related to the good deed done. If kusala and akusala ciita are not connected with the good deed done, we cannot say there is accompaniment of their kusala or akusala.

Let us suppose a devotee just before he gives a great Dana is furious with a debtor and sues him. This is, of course dosa akusala. But if his wrath does not affect him with respect to giving charity and he feels delighted after meritorious deed, his dosa akusala arising from his wrath does not adversely affect the quality of his Dana kusala.

Summing up, we have thus, tihetuka ukkattha means good deed done with both pubba cetana and apara cetana. If one of these cetana is missing ir becomes tihetuka omaka kusala. If both cetana are absent, the deed belongs all the more to the tihetuka amoka type. Similarly dvihetuka ukkattha and dvihetuka omaka should be understood. In the classification of sīla (moral precept) too, the categories of pubba, munca and apara cetana; those of dvihetuka and tihetuka; of ukkattha and omaka can be applied similarly.


i. A meritorious deed accompanied by insight of kamma and its effect is tihetuka kusala.

ii. If such insight is absent it becomes dvihetuka kusala.

iii. If a good deed is preceded and succeeded by kusala citta, it is ukkattha kusala.

iv. If kusala citta arises before and after a good deed, it is omaka kusala.

Another Method of Classification

Dana may be classified into three levels:

  • i. Hina Dana (inferior)
  • ii. Majjhima Dana (medium)
  • iii. Panita Dana (superior)

This classification is based on the offertories donated. If the offertories are inferior to what you consume, it is hina Dana (inferior charity). If you donate things that are of equal quality to what you use, it is majjhima Dana (mediocre charity). Of you give away offertories better than what you consume, it is panita Dana (supreme charity). Hina Dana is also known as dasa Dana that given to a slave, majjhima Dana is sahaya Dana that given to friends and associates; and panita as sami Dana, that given to one's superior.

Feeble desire, effort and volition make hina Dana; mediocre desire, effort and volition make majjhima Dana; vigorous will, industry and volition make panita Dana.

Charity done with the hope of getting praise such as donor of monasteries or pagodas or popularity is hina Dana. Charity performed with speculations of benefits in future existences throughout samsara is majjhima Dana. Charity given without consideration for future benefits but with sincere goodwill in conformity with the custom of the virtuous and the wise is panita Dana.


Good deeds done without any hope for benefit is far nobler than those done with some hope for future rewards. Selfless, altruistic goodwill for the welfare of others belongs only to the noblest personages such as Bodhisattvas.

Charity given with the hope of acquiring worldly luxury is hina Dana, charity given with the intention of escaping from samsara is majjhima (medium). Great charities of Bodhisattvas who give them as fulfillment of Dana parami in the hope of helping sentient beings to free themselves from samsara are listed as panita Dana. Such are varying degree of goods deeds dependent upon one's mental attitudes. (In other moralities such as Sīla etc. also similar varying degrees of good deeds can be found).

The Benefits of Dana

The benefits of Dana need no elaboration. The good of feeding a small animal just once brings about (a) long life, (b) beauty, ⓒ prosperity, (d) strength and (e) wisdom for the next one hundred existences. When reborn in human or Deva world, due to his Dana in this life, he outshines other beings.

In the time of Kassapa Buddha there were two monks who were good friends. One of them was a generous donor while the other was not. Since they both observed Sīla (precepts), they were reborn as humans and Devas up to the time of Gotama Buddha. In each and every existence, the generous always excelled the other in status. In the final existence they were both reborn as humans in the court of King Kosala. The generous donor became a prince, and the other, the son of a minister. While the prince slept in a golden cradle under a regal white umbrella, the other slept in a wooden cradle. Although they both attained Nibbāna ultimately the benefits they enjoyed in each existences were quite different.

Does Dana Prolong Samsara?

Some heave the wrong belief that Dana prolongs samara (the cycle of rebirths). In the story of two friends, we have seen that the one who gave charity was not late in attaining Nibbāna. Therefore it is illogical to assert that Dana prolongs samasara. In fact, the impurity of the mind of the donor is responsible for the round of rebirths. One's lustful greed to enjoy luxuries of humans and Devas for the Dana given causes one to linger in the cycle of samsara.

Some erroneously say that Buddha himself has to struggle longer in samsara because he cherishes Dana in every existences. This is absolutely untrue. Due to Dana parami (perfection of charity) an infinite number of Buddhas have attained Supreme Enlightenment while we are still swimming along the stream of deaths and rebirths. Can we attribute this to our Danas which far exceed those of the Buddhas? The Bodhisattva Vessantara who gave charity in an unprecedented magnitude attained Buddhahood after only two existences. Therefore it is quite obvious that Dana is not the cause of long sufferings in samsara.

We have now seen that Dana does not lengthen samsara. It is only our consciousness soiled with tanha (lust) that plays a great influence upon us and prolongs the samara. All Bodhisattvas strive only for Sabbannuta Nana (Omniscient Wisdom) and they have to wander around in samsara until all essential paramis requisite for it are fulfilled. They have to accumulate the wisdom deserving of a Buddha. An apt analogy would be a mango fruit. It will not ripen until and unless it is mature.

Two Types of kusala (Wholesome Deeds)

A good deed not with the hope of escape from samsara but to enjoy the luxuries of humans and Devas is known as Vatta nissita kusala. A good deed done with a view of attaining Nibbāna is known as Vivatta nissita kusala. Even wholesome deeds such as Dana, Sīla, etc, if of the Vatta nissita type, will lengthen one's suffering in samsara. On the other hand, all forms of Vivatta nissita kusala will propel you to escape from samsara and assist you to attain your noble desire which is Nibbāna.

How Dana Assists the Fulfillment of Perfection

Generous donors are usually endowed with wealth in their future lives so that they can lead an easy life. The wealth - who had done Vivatta nissita kusala in the past life - can observe Sīla (precepts) and keep uposatha Sīla (Sabbath). The poor and needy, having to struggle for a living cannot observe precepts. In pursuing education too, the rich have the facilities. Let alone costly schools, even in monastic schools where education is free of charge, children of the rich outnumber the poor. And the children of the wealth naturally receive more attention.

A wealthy person can easily practice the virtue of patience when he faces insolence or insult because he can ignore them with his own will power and self-esteem. But a poor person, if he is insulted, is obsessed by the complex that poverty invites injustice or insult and so he reacts vigorously. Since a rich person generally enjoys respect from various sectors he usually shows loving-kindness and compassion to them. A poor man is usually deprived of love and respect from others so he fosters anger or vain pride instead of loving-kindness and compassion. Therefore Dana (charity) helps the fulfillment of other parami perfections such as khanti (patience) and mettā (loving-kindness).

In this world it is difficult for the poor to keep promises. Here too, Dana helps one to be honest and to keep promises. Without Dana, it is very difficult to fulfill parami perfections. That is why each and every Bodhisattva first fulfilled the perfection of Dana parami. Dana comes first in the ten Perfections. Our Buddha Gotama fulfilled the required paramis starting with Dana. As the recluse Sumedha he fulfilled the Dana parami first. And King Vessantara, the last life as Bodhisattva, fulfilled Dana parami as the final stage of all perfections.

Those Who Can Do Without Dana

There is a class of people who do not need to perform deeds of charity. They are the great yogis who strive earnestly to escape from samsara in the present existence. They are occupied full time in samatha and vipassana work. If they spend their time in the performance of Dana, it will only be a waster of time and effort. Dana is not necessary for them as they are fully intent on gaining liberation very soon, they must zealously practice meditation day and night. Once a Bhikkhu from Madalay who was always eager to perform Dana came to practice meditation under the guidance of Maha Gandhron Sayadaw who was our Preceptor. One morning the Sayadaw saw the Bhikkhu gathering flowers to offer the Buddha. The Sayadaw admonished the Bhikkhu saying, 'While undertaking meditation practices, be intent only on your practice, you may offer flowers later on.”

The Maha Gandharon Sayadaw, himself was engaged day and night in the practice of meditation being fully resolved to liberate himself from samsara in this very existence. Whether he achieved his noble aim and not, I am not in a position to know. The Maha Gandharan Sayadaw spent all his time meditation alone in his cave. Yet he did not forget to give Dana; once he came out from the cave he gave away the offertories in his possession to other Bhikkhus. Dana is unnecessary for a person engaged full-time in meditation. Of course charitable deeds can be done when there is time to spare. Dana is for those living the ordinary life of lay persons, as they can afford the time to do so.

The Joy of Giving Dana

Giving Dana (charity) is indeed joyful. The generous and the charitable always feel compassion for the poor and needy. This is followed by mettā (loving-kindness) towards all creatures. Then you cultivate Mudita (sympathetic joy) to those who are already wealthy and prosperous. So your face beams like the full moon and appearance suggests tranquility and auspices.

Recipients of charity, in return, will reciprocate loving-kindness and wish for happiness. They will also nurture Mudita (sympathetic joy) for the donor. Thus we can say that Dana is the main cause of flourishing of the Four Brahma Vihara Cittas (the Four Sublime States of Mind. In this way a sublime, profound Dana paves they way for cultivation of upekkha.

The Generous are the Wealthy

Really wealthy persons who are free from the worry of livelihood are few in numbers. The poor, destitute and needy are comparatively numerous. The poor are bound to be those who had no credit of Dana in their previous existences. And the wealthy are definitely generous donors in their past lives. Should these rich people be contented in being prosperous in this existence? Surely not. For their wealthy and possession cannot follow them in their next life. They will no more be wealthy once they pass away. Therefore the wealthy ought to leave certain portion of their property to their heirs and give away the remaining in charity to the needy. Only then they will be prosperous in the next lives up to the attainment of Nibbāna. The golden rule in that: “Generous donor in previous life is the wealthy in this life; generous donor in this life is the wealthy in the existence to come.”

Wealthy is but temporary possession; wealthy is for just once existence, one life. We should not regard our wealth as 'ours'. It should be 'ours', for the welfare of the needy.

We should not hesitate to give away our wealth to those who really need it.

A Rich Person is like A River, etc

A virtuous rich person can be compared to a river, a tree or rain, as mentioned in the Loka Niti. Although a river contains a large amount of water, it does not drink a drop. A river serves only for the good of others. People come to the river to wash, to bathe or to drink. Likewise trees do not consume the fruits they bear. Fruits are borne for other people. Rain falls not only into lakes and wells but also onto barren plains and desserts.

Similar righteous rich people accumulate wealth, not just for their own use but also to help needy. They spend their wealth of the poor. Like rain which falls into lakes and barren plains alike, they help look after not only the prestigious (abbots) Sayadaw but also the poor.

As has been shown Dana (generosity) enhances the Four Sublime States (Four Brahama Vihara), Dana causes a person to have a cheerful beaming countenance. The generous are blessed with kusala in this existence. We all should never neglect the virtue of Dana, which is so powerful as to expedite sentient beings to Nibbāna.

A virtuous life means the regular observance of moral precepts (Five Precepts, Eight Precepts, etc.) earning right livelihood (samma ajiva), bathing and wearing clean clothes emanating mettā, karuna and Mudita and giving charity generously and willingly to all without distinction. Such a way of life brings satisfaction and happiness. One should then develop a wholesome desire to attain Nibbāna which is the complete cessation of all sufferings. There is no reason why you should linger in samsara. Dana will propel you to realize Nibbāna in the shortest time.

We Cannot Do Without Dana

One must not assume that what is said covers all the benefits of Dana. To enumerate all the benefits of Dana would indeed require a separate treatise in itself. If a person discards Dana according to the belief of some malicious quarters, sociable relations would cease and mettā (loving-kindness) will disappear. The rich will no more be charitable to the destitute. They will cultivate an attitude of disregarded and say, “Oh. Let them die. Who cares?” Humanity without Dana will in fact be very much uncivilized. And of course, incivility of mind eventually leads to savagery in physical action.

The Bodhisattva attained Self-Enlightenment and became the Tathāgata after renouncing wealth, power and glory of the crown only with the help and support of numerous donors offering him alms-food, etc. He was then able to preach his Noble Dhamma and establish the Holy Order of the Sangha to propagate his sasana with the support of wealthy devotees like Anathapindika Visakha, King Bimbisara, etc. If there had been no such generous donors there never would have been the Buddha, but also countless previous Buddhas would not have attained Omniscience if the world were void of Dana. I would thus like to make an ardent wish, ” Let there be no persons who denounce and ignore the benevolent deed of Dana, now and forever.”

It is not feasible to list completely the benefits you get by generosity, by giving charity. Had there been no Dana, there also would be no Buddhas to show us the way to Nibbāna. Bear in mind that the cream of the society, the luxurious celestial beings, all of them are attributable to their charity; the poor and the destitute are those without generosity. Should you earnestly wish to escape from samsara, resort to Dana.

2. Sīla (Morality)

It is generally stated, “Morality is more virtuous than generosity.” One might be easily convinced, yet there is a deep significance underlying the statement. To comprehend this requires serious reasoning. In this world, to protect and safeguard others from woe and suffering is a noble deed. To enhance the welfare and prosperity of others is also another noble deed. Dana helps others to be prosperous. Sīla (Morality) protects others from woe and suffering.


Sīla here means observance of Panca Sīla (Five Precepts) and conforming to Ajivathamaka Sīla (Right Livelihood). Observance of Eight Precepts and Ten Precepts will be dealt with separately under a different light.

Abstinence from Killing (Panatipata Virati)

As for Sīla its function is protecting other living beings from suffering. The first of the Five Precepts is to refrain from killing all living beings. Let us imagine the dire consequences of breaching the first precept. Take into consideration the woe that befalls the victim. Imagine the number of marine animals, cattle, poultry, etc that would be killed through non-observance of the first precept of Sīla. Also try to visualize rampant homicide that would eventually lead to war, spreading bloodshed globally. It is a glaring fact that the first precept should not be transgressed because this would cause catastrophe to one and every inhabitant of this earth.

By observing the precept of non-killing, you save the lives of one, two, three and other countless beings. Sīla ensures the safety of all beings and augments the flourishing of mettā, karuna and Mudita towards all living beings. Thus the world will become an auspicious abode where all sentient beings lives happily thereafter.


Now that you have been the benevolence of Dana and of the first precept, you will be convinced that Sīla is more virtuous than Dana. We can compare the magnitude of joy felt by a recipient of gifts and that of a man pardoned from death. The latter will surely be thousands of times far more jubilant than the former. In the same way, the joy of condemned man who was pardoned from capital punishment is vastly different. The former can in no way compare with the latter.

Abstinence from Theft (Adinnadana Virati)

People experience intense distress when their belongings are stolen or robbed. On a large scale the ruling monarch and the royal family together with the citizens of a country feel very much distressed when their land is invaded and conquered by others. The conquered country become poorer and poorer because they cannot use to a full extent the natural resources of their own land. So robbing or stealing causes affliction and misery to the victims. If people refrain from stealing, this would be riddance of such distress from this world. Therefore adinnadana virati (abstinence from stealing) is a Sīla (morality) which frees all human beings from suffering and woe and creates physical as well as mental peace.

Abstinence from Sexual Misconduct (Kamesu Miccha Cara Virati)

Ordinary worldlings (puthujjana) are usually very fond of sensual pleasures (kamaguna) especially the pleasure of touch and bodily pleasure. No sensible person would share, let alone give away his source of sensual pleasure i.e. his spouse. Every man is very much attached to his better half, and is never hesitant to defend her fiercely. He might be able to tolerate loss of material property to a certain extent, but no the least misdemeanor on his wife. Therefore to abstain from sexual misconduct (adultery) means abstaining from causing pain and suffering to other people. Abstinence from adultery or sexual transgression will thus bring peace and calm to everyone living in this world.

Abstinence from Lying (Musavada Virati)

Those who have the experience of being cheated, swindled or told lies will suffer from some form of wrath, though somewhat subtle. The adverse effects of being cheated are obvious. Some liars are so well versed in their trade that they can even cheat the whole country. Today, there are many sectarian leaders who propagate their faith professing it to be the absolute truth. Therefore millions of people are led astray from lying therefore amounts to protecting people from suffering.


Even in Buddhism there happen to be some bogus preachers who indulge in propagating false beliefs; and the uneducated, sadly enough, have great faith in such persons and hold them in high esteem, this is food for thought.

Abstinence from Taking Intoxicants (Surapana Virati)

One who consumes some form of intoxicant will of course suffer from ill effects in his next existences. But if he just drinks by himself and causes no harm to others it is somewhat tolerable. Yet most drinkers drink alcoholic beverages and when they are drunk, they are no more hesitant to breach the other precepts. They are willing to quarrel, to kill, to steal ot to tell lies. Just as a ringleader will not commit any criminal offences himself, but make his gangsters do the evil deeds, alcohol or intoxicants cause addicts to commit atrocities without restraints. They would no longer be reluctant to commit murder, rape, arson, theft, etc. Becoming a chronic alcoholic means following the path of abandonment and causing suffering to one's immediate family. Later this alcoholic causes misery to everybody in his community. Those who abstain from intoxicants will be free the world from such misery and distress.

After understanding the benefits of observing the Five Precepts, we can carry on to study in a similar manner the blessings of samma ajiva (right livelihood). We have found out so far that the observance of Five Precepts will save the world from misery and anxiety. Now we will fully realize that Sīla (morality) is better than Dana (generosity). In this view each and every one should be mindful to observe the Five Precepts. May all readers be able to observe the Five Precepts and propagate mettā (loving-kindness) and karuna (compassion) to all sentient beings.

Uposatha Sīla (keeping Sabbath)

By keeping Uposatha Sīla (the Eight Precepts) on Sabbath days you also observe Brahmacariya (non-indulgence in sex), vikala bajana (refrain from having food after midday etc. in addition to the basic Five Precepts. The additional three prefects are meant to purify one's mind; the basic five prevent others from suffering. Such observance of Eight Precepts is known as Ariya Uposatha Sīla [Read in detail about uposatha Sīla in Ratana Gonyi].

Those who observe Ariya Uposatha Sīla should continue to meditate on the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha or on the virtues of your own Dana and Sīla. Consequently they will find that there is less and less lobha, dosa, moha mana and other akusala (defilements) arising from them. Their minds become purer and nobler day by day. Observance of the Eight Precepts supplemented with bhāvanā (meditation) is much meritorious than observance of ordinary Sīla (Five Precepts).

3. Bhāvanā (Meditation)

Bhāvanā means development or cultivation of mind. It is a form of mano kamma (work of the mind) which purifies your mind. When you earnestly wish for the welfare of all beings and emanate loving-kindness on them, it is practice of mettā bhāvanā. First you cultivate mettā in your mind and then try it so that your whole self becomes suffused with mettā.

When mettā flourish in your mind, you feel compassion for helpless and poor beings. Consequently you emanate compassionate thoughts to the destitute. This is called karuna bhāvanā. You now develop a strong urge to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and miserable. Since there flourish both loving-kindness and compassion in your heart you begin to feel Mudita (sympathetic joy) towards the rich. You feel genuine, altruistic joy for them. This is Mudita bhāvanā. The three types of bhāvanā can be developed by everyone with a virtuous mind even in everyday life.

Buddhanussati Kammatthana

With regards to Buddhanussati Kammatthana (Recollection of Buddha's Virtues) you need to profoundly concentrate on the three attributes:

  • a. Buddha's meritorious deed and perfections in his past existences, which serves as the cause of Enlightenment.
  • b. The result of Buddha's past merit.
  • c. The infinite benevolence the Buddha brings all sentient beings.

a. The Cause

The cause means the fulfillment of perfections in countless past lives. He performed meritorious deeds and practiced parami perfections with the greatest vigor. His noble deeds throughout the cycle of samsara are not for himself, but for the deliverance of all living beings from the suffering in the samsara. Let us, for example, recall the performance of Dana parami of King Vessantara, the Bodhisattva.

Most people give charity for becoming famous as a great donor. They even feel they are benefactors of the recipients who should be grateful to them and show their gratitude if possible. They hope for rebirth in luxurious abodes. They wish for attainment of Nibbāna only perfunctorily. As for King Vessantara, he asked his mother when he was only days old to give him something to donate by presenting his open alms to his mother. As an infant he had no selfish purpose at all. He only has an ardent desire to give charity in conformity with his vasana.

Accordingly he gave away his jewelry and costumes to his friends. When be became king he had many charity pandals built and gave feast daily. His daily donations amounted to hundreds of thousands of money. He enjoyed the bliss of watching people being well fed and well-clothed. He too, he had no selfish desire for fame or good-rebirth. His only purpose was to help others. He believed that the duty of the rich was to look after the poor. His desire to save the destitute was really intense.

He gave away Paccaya, the Royal White Elephant, causing tumultuous protests from the citizens. But Vessantara was heedless of everything else but his wish to attain Omniscience, Sabbannuta Nana. One might argue that this aim is for his personal gain. But attainment of Omniscience meant more arduous work for him as he would have to travel thousands of miles under various conditions to teach his Dhamma. So to achieve Sabbannuta Nana is to serve the suffering humanity not to achieve his personal gain.

In his final stage of fulfilling parami as King Vessantara, he gave away his son, daughter, and his queen. This is ample evidence of his selflessness and goodwill for all beings. Let us elaborate. Having a worthy wife and worthy children is the zenith of pleasures in the luxurious abodes of human and Devas. Without a wife and children even the Universal Monarch will not find happiness at all. But the Bodhisattva King Vessantara renounced the treasures of the heart, his beloved children and wife, and gave them away. This unparalleled charity was surely not for fame or wealth, but for the sake of Omniscience by which he could free living beings from suffering.

With such noble and selfless aim, the Bodhisattva sacrificed his own life for the sake of Sīla and khanti throughout many world cycles. He had also saved the lives of others at the cost of his own to fulfill the various paramis. These noble actions and perfections achieved in his past lives are the causes and conditions to become a Buddha in this world.

b. The Results

With such noble deeds and perfections achieved, the results, by their own nature, are sure to be good and noble. Thus in the present existence, as a Buddha, he possessed the most elegant and graceful appearance, the highest wisdom, the greatest power, and the deepest Insight. One should dwell on these attributes of the Buddha the result of his past meritorious deeds in detail when one meditates Buddhanussati kammatthana.

c. Benefits Enjoyed by Sentient Beings

The noble deed done and perfections fulfilled by the Buddha brought him unique results and finally propelled him to attain Sabbannuta Nana. When he became the Tathāgata , he did not rest content on his supreme achievement. For forty five years he preached the Noble Dhamma to all classes of people for their welfare and benefit. Even when he was about to enter Maha parinibbāna he admonished his disciple thus, “Handa dani bhikkhave amantayami vo vaya Dhamma sankhārā, appamadena sampadetha - Behold now, Bhikkhu, I exhort you. All conditioned and compounded things have the nature of decay and disintegration. Strive with earnestness and mindfulness”.

His teachings showed the way to escape from suffering and achieve the termination of samsara vatta. Thus one should meditate with profound devotion on the three good attributes in Buddha's life namely; the good cause, the great results, the benefits accruing for sentient beings. Then you will find that you developed complete faith in the Buddha; and you seek refuge in him. “Buddho me saranam annam natthi - There is no other for me apart from the Buddha.” Consequently your devotion and faith with full comprehension in the Buddha will fructify and flourish in your mind-continuum. This is a brief explanation on Buddhanussati bhāvanā. Development of mettā or Buddhanussati etc. in your mind-continuum is in general called bhāvanā. You can start either with mettā bhāvanā or Buddhanusssati bahavana as you think fit. As for more serious and continuous practice of bhāvanā, fuller details may be obtained from various texts such as Visuddhi Magga.

4. Apacayana (Paying Respect)

Apacayana means paying respects to those who excel you in age, morality, integrity, wisdom, virtue, etc. Paying respects to elderly persons such as your father, mother, uncle, aunt; offering your seat and making way for those worthy of respect; bowing your head and showing humility, clasping your palms in homage to Bhikkhus, doffing your hat, saluting according to custom, etc. are all signs of respect. However, if you show respect unwillingly to a powerful person out of fear or with some selfish aim, this cannot be called apacayana, because it is pretentious in nature. It only amounts to maya (trickery).


Food for thought - bowing or curtseying is generally accepted as signs of reverence. In Myanmar some people put down whatever load they are carrying and prostate on the roads when they meet Bhikkhus. Some kneel down in the sidewalk or on the platform of a railway station to pay respects to monks and elderly persons. These actions if done with true sincerity, are not to be blamed. But in these days when people have to rush about in busy places, just a bow or a few humble words will suffice the need of apayacana. Kneeling down and prostrating in worshiping on meeting a Bhikkhu on the roads in a Bhikkhu on the roads or in busy crowded places in the presence of alien people are not really necessary.

5. Veyavacca (Service)

Helping or giving service in the good deeds of other people is known as veyavacca. We should offer our services willingly so that the donors may feel at ease, free from worries and the charity b e successfully accomplished. We should also help the sick, the infirm and the old. We should offer assistance to people carrying heavy loads; to help remove the heavy burdens of our parents and elders. Thus, all forms of voluntary service given to others (provided the deeds are not evil) are listed as veyavacca kusala.

If you have goodwill and true cetana in giving voluntary service benefits may be greater than those of the actual donor. For instance, in Buddha's time there was a governor named Payasi, who was a heretic but became a believer of the Dhamma due to the teachings of Venerable Kumara Kassapa. This Payasi performed charity and alms-giving regularly. But he did not do the good deed himself. Instead he delegated Uttara a young lad to offer alms-food to Bhikkhus. Although Uttara was acting on behalf of the governor, he put all his heart and soul in the alms giving. When both the governor and the servant died, the former was reborn in Catumaharajika - the lowest of the six celestial abodes; the latter was reborn in Tavatimsa, which is higher than Catumaharajika.

6. Patti-Dana (Sharing Of Merit)

Sharing the benefits of your good deeds to others is known as patti-Dana (patti = what you have gained; Dana = sharing your merit). A donor will no doubt enjoy the benefits of his Dana. The desire to share with others the merit gained is indeed magnanimous. We all, after doing a good deed, should proclaim, “All those who an hear me, come and share my merits. May you all gain as much merits as I do”, and share the benevolence gained. This is patti-Dana, which in itself is a separate good deed.


Some donors, just verbally say, “Come and share my merits” but have no sincere wish to do so. Such perfunctory sharing does not quality as patti-Dana.

Once upon a time a donor invited many people to his son's novitiation and gave a lavish feast. Contributions (from invitees) did not cover the expenses of the feast so he was left in debt. After the ceremony, came the time to share merits. At that time he was mentally calculating how much he would owe. Somebody besides him reminded him to share merits. Oppressed by the thought of a heavy debt, he uttered, “I am dead broke”, very loudly instead of saying, “Come and share my merits.”

Sharing Merit Does Not Lessen Your Due

When you have done a wholesome deed and share the merit gained you might reason that you benefits will lessen. We must remember that merits are gained in accord with your cetana. When we give charity with a true goodwill, we have already done a good deed, and for that we have already gained due merits. So when we share the merits we gained to others you gain additional benefits for your magnanimity. There is no reason your merits should be lessened.

The sharing of merits is like kindling oil lamps with a lighted lamp. The first oil lamp is of course lighted by striking match. But this first lamp can be used to kindle many other lamps; the luminosity of the first lamp will in no way be diminished regardless of how many lamps are kindled. The combined brightness of all lamps will be many times more radiant. Sharing merits gained from Sīla kusala and bhāvanā kusala also patti-Dana.

7. Pattanumodana (Rejoicing At Patti-Dana)

Rejoicing when a donor shares his merits is known as pattanumodana. When someone shares the merits gained, you ought to appreciate it and proclaim, “Sadhu!” (well done) thrice. Feeling glad for the good done by others is laudable. It has the nature of mudita (sympathetic joy). But to achieve genuine pattanumoda merit is somewhat difficult. A customary and unwitting proclamation of “Well done” without sincere rejoicing is not pattunumoda but mere formality. And sometimes one may not really feel glad of meritorious deeds of other's. Instead he may even cultivate envy and jealousy which amounts to bias.

The Instant Benefit of Pattanumoda

People usually give charity and alms in dedication to family members who have passed away. If the deceased who are reborn in woeful abodes received the sharing of merit from their next of life with sympathetic joy, they will then instantly released from their woes. According to the Texts if the sharing of merit is after making donation of alms-food, the departed one will be instantly appeased from hunger by saying, “Sadhu!”, if the donation is garments and robes, the deceased will become well-clothed upon saying, “Sadhu!”. It is utmost importance that in giving alms in dedication to the deceased, the recipient should be worthy of alms. Once upon a time, the bereaved members invited a dussīla Bhikkhu (immoral monk) and offered alms in dedication to the departed. When merits were shared, the deceased who was a peta by then, did not receive his due. So he yelled to his relatives, “The evil monk is robbing my share of merits.” So the relatives had to repeat the charity to a virtuous monk. Only then the peta received his share and was free from miserable existence. (See commentary on Dakkhina Vibhanga Sutta Uparipannada, Majjhima Nikāya Atthakatha).

The above incident gives us a lesson. When we dedicate our charity to a departed friend or relatives we must first get rid of our anguish and grief. Then only we should offer food, robes, umbrella, slippers, monasteries, etc. to the monks. By offering alms, the peta gets food. By offering robes, the petas gets clothes to wear. By offering monastery, the peta gets a dwelling place. For almsgiving, we ought to invite a good monk; or should perform Sanghika Dana meant for the entire Order of Sangha. Prior to this Dana, we should invite the deceased to be present at the liberation. (They will come if they can). Then we should loudly and distinctly call the deceased by name and share the merits gained.

Today's Ritual

Most people today, after their bereavement, do not care to choose good Bhikkhus. Neither do they get of their anguish and sorrow. They offer alms and even cash to the monks at the cemetery as a routine duty, just to escape blame and get praise from others. And then they share the merits gained without thinking deeply of the benefits of the deceased. It is far better to offer alms at home with a mind free from grief than to do so at the cemetery while being afflicted with lament and sorrow. But good deeds done and alms given at the cemetery will also produce merits if performed without lamentation. (may refer to Future of sasana for further exposition on this matter.)

Who Gets the Merit Shared?

The deceased who have who have become peta (hungry ghosts) can receive the benefits form patti-Dana (sharing of merit) only when they are present in the vicinity. If they are reborn as humans, as animals or as petas in the remote jungles, they cannot receive the share of merits. However, other dead relatives who are now petas in the vicinity, can rejoice in these benedictions and can be reborn in other good planes of existence. Therefore sharing of merits to the deceased is a meritorious deed and should be kept in practice.

8. Dhammasavana (Listening To The Dhamma)

Dhammasavana means listening to the Dhamma of the Enlightened One. The fivse benefits of dhammasavana are (a) getting fresh knowledge; (b) understanding known facts more clearly; ⓒ resolving of skepticism and doubt (d) acquiring right belief and (e) enhancing your wisdom and faith.

False Method of Listening to Dhamma

Listening to the Dhamma with a view to getting the five benefits is true dhammasavana. Some attend Dhamma discourses because they are friendly with the preacher; some for the jokes and humorous anecdotes; some for the fear of accusation as being too lazy; some to access the ability of the preacher. One can get no benefit from listening to the Dhamma with such ignoble intentions. Once a China man was crossing a river in a rowboat when the boatman warned him that the boat leaked a bit. The China man thought that this meant the water from inside the boat leaked and oozed into the river. So there were no cause worry. In a while, he noticed the seat of his pants becoming wet. He was alarmed and exclaimed, “This boat does not leak; it only lets in water!” The true aim of listening to the Dhamma is to let our evil thoughts to ooze out. We should be very careful lest we let in more evil into our consciousness.

The Benefits of Reading

Today, there are many books which can give us wisdom and knowledge. In Myanmar, being a Buddhist country, hundreds of Buddhist treatises appear in bookstands. By reading these books you get the same benefit as listening to the Dhamma. Therefore reading such books is far more advantageous than listening to contemporary discourses. Even if you cannot read, you can ask someone to read aloud for you. This amounts to listening to the Dhamma.


I would recommend Jinattha Pakasani, Buddhavamsa, Five-hundred and Fifty Jatakas, Samvega Vatthu Dipani and other treatises written by famous learned monks as reading matter for your benefit.

9. Dhamma Desana (Preaching Dhamma)

Dhamma desana means preaching the Dhamma. If done with sincerity and magnanimity, preaching the Dhamma excels all other forms of Dana. The Buddha himself said, “Sabbha Danam dhammaDanam jinati - Preaching the Dhamma is the highest charity”. To really achieve true dhamma desana kusala (good deed of preaching the Dhamma), the preacher must not expect gifts, offertories, fame of false pride. If so, the greed (lobha) for such material gain contaminates and diminishes the merits gained from preaching. Then the preacher will be like a foolish man who exchanged a hundred-thousand worth of sandalwood with a pitcher of stale molasses.


As the foolish man traded a hundred-thousand worth of sandalwood with some stale molasses; the ignoble preacher teachers the priceless Dhamma in exchange for some petty material gain.

Qualification of a Preacher

A qualified preacher is no ordinary orator. He possess a clear and forceful voice; he must have ability to make others understand him clearly. So a preacher is hard to find. Although there are one thousand cows in a ranch, only one of them will bear forth a flawless bull-calf. Likewise thousands of mothers fail to give birth to a great preacher. A great preacher is indeed a rarity.

The Disadvantage Of Improper Intonation

Qualified teacher should be aware of their virtuous kamma of their past lives; when reciting the Noble Dhamma taught by the Buddha, the preacher must orate with a clear, manly voice. He must not willfully attempt to make his voice pleasant by means of improper accent, stress, intonation or elocution.

The Buddha himself pointed out the disadvantages of improper manipulation of speech sounds, making them sweet, to resemble singing while preaching the Dhamma. They are:

  • (a) one become lustful of one's own voice;
  • (b) the audience find lustful pleasure in the preacher's voice;
  • ⓒ the preacher is blamed for singing like lay persons;
  • (d) the preacher loses concentration while exerting oneself to produce sweet voice
  • (e) the next generation of monks will emulate this indecent style.

Nowadays, these disadvantages can be experienced in many occasions. The younger monks are already following the wrong examples set by the indecent preachers. The pious are seldom present at discourses conducted by such bogus preachers. Those who attend the lectures only perfunctorily do not pay attention to the discourses. The educated class, through desirous of listening to the Dhamma, feel ashamed to be present at the lecture of such vulgar preachers.

It is imperative should have enough decency not to make melodies out of the priceless Dhamma. It is shameful mode of oration.

Simple Ways of Preaching

Dhamma preaching means not only the discourses given to a large audience in a lecture hall. Simple discussion on the Dhamma among two or three persons also is Dhamma desana, provided the preacher does not hope for any gifts or offertories. Giving admonition to devotees, young and old, teaching academic subjects, handicraft or technology of innocent nature, reading out the teachings of Buddha, all qualify as Dhamma desana. Bhikkhus today should train themselves to be good preachers; in addition they should study public speaking, proper reading and writing.

10. Ditthijukamma (Righteous Belief)

Having righteous belief which is just, upright is called ditthijukamma (ditthi = belief, + uju kamma = uprightness). Belief in one's view of things based on one's intelligence. When the view is just and righteous, it is called samma ditthi (right understanding). If a wrong, it is called miccha ditthi (wrong understanding). Deeply consider the following:

  • a) Good deeds versus evil deeds.
  • b) The results of such deeds - adverse effects versus good effects.
  • c) The present existence and the forthcoming ones due to one's good or evil deeds.
  • d) The Devas and Brahmas
  • e) Those who practice the noble way and attain jhana abhinana or become Arahats.

If after profound consideration, you find that the above five are realities, that they really exist, then you possess samma ditthi (right belief). This is also known ditthiju kamma or kammassakata Nana - knowing your deeds are your only assets and knowing the cause effect of one's own deeds.

If you reject all or one of the above five regarding them as not realities, that they do not really exist, you then possees miccha ditthi (wrong belief). When you reject the cause and effect of one's deeds you are no more hesitant to take the lives of other beings. When you reject past and future lives, you are more and more inclined to believe in the Creator of the universe. We have ample evidence of the life of Buddha with historical proof; is the any such proof of the existence of a Creator?

Being A Buddhist

We have just said ditthijukamma (righteous belief) is also sammaditthi (right view). Yet we can not say that anyone who possess samma ditthi is a Buddhist. Hindu also believes in kamma and its results. Yet they are not Buddhist. Only those who find refuge in the Buddha, his teachings (Dhamma) and his Holy Order (Sangha) are true Buddhists. One must proclaim, “I take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha” either in Pali or in Myanmar. Only after taking refuge in the Triple Gems one can call oneself a Buddhist. Those who do not fully comprehend the Ti Sarana Gamana (Three Refuges), like children for instance, can be regarded as Buddhist if they devote themselves to the Three Gems following the tradition. (Refer to Ratana Gongyi for further details).

How to Possess Ditthijukamma

Samma ditthi and kammassakata Nana are synonymous with ditthijukamma. When you reason for yourself the cause and effect of kamma and the reality of past and future existence, you achieve ditthijukamma. When you bear in mind that virtuous deeds such as Dana (charity) and Sīla (morality) bring good result in forthcoming existences you develop ditthijukamma. The same holds true when you are physically performing the good deeds. The same holds true when you are physically performing the good deeds. The benevolence of all forms of good deeds is greatly enhanced by the accompaniment of ditthijukamma.

The Forty Wholesome Deeds

You are entitled to the benefits of good deeds not only when you actually perform them, but also when you make other perform good deeds, when you explain the good consequences of good deeds to others and when you feel appreciative joy at other's meritorious deeds. The ten punna kiriya (wholesome deeds) we have already discussed multiplied by four factors namely (a) actual preformance (b) exhorting others ⓒ explaining the benevolent nature, and (d) feeling appreciative joy, we get the forty wholesome deeds known as the forty punna kariya.


In this chapter I have explained in detail the ten wholesome deeds with good citta (consciousness) and good cetana (volition). For this punna (act of merit), may all readers be able to develop their inclination to perform wholesome deeds more so than ever. May all my associates indulge joyfully in wholesome deeds with a view to achieve the supreme bliss of Nibbāna.

May I be able to stand firmly on the foundation of Dana, Sīla and bhāvanā (charity, morality and mental culture). May I be able to overcome the reluctance to do good deeds which lead the way to Nibbāna. May I be able to develop the five powers of the namely saddha (belief), samādhi (concentration), viriya (effort), sati (mindfulness) and paññā (wisdom) on my way to the final goal.

[Here Ends Of Ten Wholesome Deeds]

Chapter Seven

Kamma (Action And Deed)

What is kamma?

Kamma Means Action or deed. Kamma is of three kinds: thought, word and physical action.

Whatever you do with your limbs is kaya kamma (physical deed). Take for instance killing some being or giving charity, etc.

Verbal kamma means the words that you utter. Imperatives such as “Kill that animal” or “Offer alms to the monk”, are verbal kamma. Other forms of exhortations, lying, preaching, all fall into this category.

Mental kamma means the thoughts that occur in your mind, short of physical action and utterances by mouth. Evil thoughts such as “How I wish all property were mine” are mental kamma. Pity, compassion, sympathy, appreciative joy, practicing bhāvanā meditation are also different forms of mental kamma.

The Culprit

The three forms of kamma do not occur automatically. For instance, in the act of killing the hand gets hold of the dagger. There is bound to be a prompting force makes you to utter certain words. While you are asleep there occurs no mental kamma even though many units of consciousness are arising. We now come to the conclusion therefore, that there must be a force, a potency which is different from the basic mind; and this force, is the culprit of the three kamma actions. Just as there is always a culprit in every crime, there is a potency or a force that impels three forms of deeds.

Cetana is the Culprit

The culprit which prompts the three kamma actions is nothing but the mental concomitant, cetana cetasika which occurs in the mind-continuum of beings. This cetana is the busiest, the most active of all cetasikas. Because cetana impels to perform a certain deed, because cetana is responsible for the completion of every kamma action, cetana is commonly called kamma.


The prominence of cetana among cittas and cetasikas and the role of cetana as the culprit of all kamma actions can be found in the chapter on CETASIKA where cetana is explained in detail.

Consciousness That Is Not Noticeable

Through practical experience you find some cittas and cetasikas are prominent while some are not. Some cittas do not show themselves while you are asleep even though the mind continuum is in the process. When you are wide awake too, you unmindfully see, hear, smell or touch, the eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, etc. that arise are not clearly noticeable; as you ponder about this and that absent-mindedly, sense-objects come to the mind only unwittingly. It is due to the prompting of wholesome or unwholesome cetana volition, that physical or verbal actions take place; but when the impulsive force of each cetana accompanying the consciousness that arise is weak no action results. Such volitions without any force of impulsion (javana) to complete certain acts occur quite numerously in the course of a day.

Prominent Akusala Cetana

When you have a strong will to kill someone, the dosa javana citta and cetana also become very strong and overwhelming. Your thoughts are occupied with plans to carry out the murder. Likewise if you are too overwhelmed by evil thoughts of sensual pleasures you develop intense greed or lust in your mind and your body becomes aroused and active. At such times when actions, words and thoughts are all intent on evil deeds, the volition inside you is also very powerful evil. These evil volitions are very dynamic impulses known as akusala javana cetana and are prominent and quite noticeable when observed carefully vis-à-vis the normal trend of thoughts.

Prominent Kusala Cetana

Moral and virtuous volitions are called kusala cetana are very active when you are keeping uposatha Sīla (Sabbath), when you are looking after elderly person, while discussing the Dhamma, while meditating bhāvanā kamatthana and while abstaining from immoral action. This kusala javana cetana is very potent and dynamic, and so your actions, words and thoughts also become correspondingly active and dynamic.

The Lingering Potency Effect of Kamma on the Body-continuum

These prominent akusala javana cittas (impulses) are collectively termed kamma. They come into being, and then disappear but their might, influence and attributes do not disappear. They remain, as if embedded in the body-continuum to produce effects presently or later. In the body-continuum countless units of consciousness arise and pass away incessantly. Out of these the weak, inconspicuous cittas will leave no impression at all while the strong, eminent cittas leave their potent attributes in the body-continuum. For example children of ordinary common parents do not feel the lingering influences of their parents after their death, while children of notable parents do so. When notable worthy parents die their children remain perceptibly under the forceful influence of their departed parents.

Kamma Force Continues in the Continuum of Khandha

In the plant kingdom, we observe the seeds of fruit bearing plants have genetic power to bear flowers and fruits of the same species. This fruit-bearing gene is present in every stage of their species, i.e., seedlings, sprouts, full-grown trees, fruits and seeds. Though we cannot describe this genetic power, we are definitely sure of its presence. Similarly in the continuum of five khandhas (aggregates of existence) rupa and nama come into being and disappear in constant succession up to the time of cuti citta (death consciousness). The kammic forces follow in hot pursuit all along till the time of death. Even after death the forces of kamma continue to have effect on the next life. These latent forces follow on to the embryonic stage (the moment of conception) of the next life, and so on to yet another existence.


Here, mention of the forces of kamma actions strictly mean the dynamic forces of your past deeds and not anything material.

The Doer Gets the Direct Effect

We have seen that beings are reborn in new existences one after another. Since the forces of past deeds done with avijja (ignorance) and tanha (lust) from the previous life, propel one into the next, the new being is none other than the one from past life. One's cetana (volition) in this life disappears soon after but the effect, the influence of that cetana, follow one's body-continuum until it has been fully manifested. Thus the benevolent effects of one's good deeds follow one providing good protection just as a shadow follows the shape; and the evil effects of one's unwholesome acts follow one constantly just as the cart wheel follows the oxen, awaiting opportunity to produce retribution. Thus we must realize that evil effects of one's misdeeds will directly go to the doer himself and to no where else. We cannot say, “I am in this life so I will enjoy it; another being in the next existence will suffer.” A person is responsible for his misdeeds, his evil actions directly. We must well understand that it is you and not another being that suffers from the ill effects of misdeeds you have done in this life.

The Same Kamma Effect

In the Jatakas we find two persons did certain deeds together and thus enjoy the same effects in their next existences. Those who had done charity together, observed precepts together, felt appreciative joy even when not doing the wholesome deed together, as when the husband earns money and the wife does charity with that money, they all enjoy the good results together. The two persons, doing good deed together, may develop attachment wishing to enjoy the good company and hear good words of each other - this is a wholesome wish (samma chanda); or the attachment may arise due to more intimate feelings towards each other - this is a unwholesome wish (tanha chanda). These two wishes may arise with the consciousness either before or after a joint meritorious deed. Then such mental attachment accompanies the effects of their cetana and kamma actions, when they meet again in some future existence, enjoying the same good results of their past deeds in fulfillment of samma chanda or tanha chanda. This is commonly called 'same kamma effects'.

People enjoying the same kamma effect can be seen in the lives of Bodhisattvas and their wives. Such couples had vowed to each other to be partners in the noble effort. For example Bodhisattva (later Gotama the Buddha) and Yashodhara, Venerable Kassapa and Mai Buddha, King Mahakappina and his queen Anoja, etc. had been partners in countless past lives in search of parami perfections. Together with them came the Venerable Shariputra, Moggallana, Anuruddha and Rahula, the Theris Khema, Uppalavanna, Queen Gotami and Emperor Shuddhodana, who in their past existence, had been closely associated with them in doing good deeds.

Akusala Kamma Partners

On the other hand there also are partners in doing evil deeds. When unwholesome deeds are done together they are reborn with evil results. Once upon a time a husband and wife were shipwrecked and stranded on an island. Being hungry, they killed some birds together and ate the flesh. They suffered together in hell. And, in the time of Gotama they became Prince Bodhi (son of King Utana) and consort respectively, and they had together killed and ate the birds in the past life, they were both sterile and thus had no children.

If the wife or the husband had not agreed to killing birds either or the other could be blessed with the power of protection. Since both collaborated in the misdeed, they both suffered the fate of childlessness. The unwholesome deeds done together will produce the same evil effects in future existences. In the case of husband and wife, one should stop the other in doing evil, and vice versa. Otherwise, both will suffer together the results.

The Benefits of Good Deeds enjoyed Collectively

The benefits of good deed enjoyed collectively can be seen in families, small communities or in societies, whose members had collectively performed good deeds in the past. For example, during the region of King Batika, eaters of beef are fined. Those who could not afford the fines were made to serve as sweepers in the palace. Among them was a beautiful girl with whom the king fell in love. So she was given the name Samadevi and kept in the palace as the king's personal maid. Her relatives were pardoned from punishment and were looked after by royal decree. This is an instance of collective enjoying of benefits, due to the good kamma of one member. Some may assert here that members of that group must also have good kamma results of their own. But their past kamma had only very feeble effects, which cannot have fructified without the good results of Sumavati's past kamma.

The Indirect Consequences of Akusala Kamma

Sometimes past unwholesome deed may bring evil effects to other people indirectly. In the time of Kassapa Buddha, an Arahat came to put up at a monastery presided by an abbot. The wealthy donor of the monastery was devoted to the visiting Arahat and paid great respects but the abbot became very jealous. The donor invited both the abbot and the Arahat for morning meal and the abbot, out of sheer envy, went alone to the donor's house. He purposely struck the monastery bell with his fingertips so as not to awake the Arahat. He even told the donor that the guest was so fond of sleep that he could not wake him up. (Note the sign of stinginess, macchariya in his words and actions).

However, the donor saw into the abbot's thought and gave him a bowl of food for the Arahat. The abbot threw away the food on the roadside out of jealousy. He thought that if the guest received such good food, then he (the guest) would remain for ever at his monastery.

But the guest, being an Arahat, knew the abbot's mind and departed through air - by his abhinna - before he arrived. When the abbot did not find his guest he then felt remorse, anxiety and sorrow. He had done great injustice to the monk due to his extreme selfishness. As he suffered great remorse physically and mentally he soon passed away only to be reborn in hell.

After suffering in hell, he had five hundred rebirths as a demon, another five hundred as a dog; and in all these existences he never was well fed.

In the time of Gotama the Buddha he was conceived in the womb of a poor woman in a fishing village. As his past evil was so strong, the whole village suffered from increasing poverty. Then the village suffered seven great fires and was penalized seven times by the king.

Finally the villages found out by means of successive eliminate selection process, that it was the household of the unborn child who brought all the ill-luck and drove away the family. The mother looked after the boy for some years and then abandoned him, leaving for his use a begging bowl.

At the age of seven, while begging for food, he met the Venerable Shariputra who ordained him a samanera. He became a monk in due course by the name of Losaka Tissa. Then he practiced samatha (concentration) and vipassana (insight) diligently until he became an Arahat because of observance of Sīla as an abbot in his past life.

But the puissance of his past misdeed was so severe that the had to suffer even as an Arahat. He never got enough alms-food. Seeing his plight, his teacher Venerable Shariputra accompanied him in his alms round. But in his company the Venerable Shariputra himself did not get alms-food so that he had to go out alone for alms-food again. After partaking of a meal the Venerable asked his donors to send a bowl of food to the Losaka Tissa Thera. The servants who were sent with the bowl ate the food on the way. When the Venerable Shariputra came to know that the food did not reach the monk, he asked for a bowl of delicious food from King Kosala and fed the Arahat with the bowl held in his hand; least the bowl would disappear. This was the monk's last full meal and he entered Parinibbāna then and there.


In this episode one person's misdeed done during the time of Kassapa the Buddha effected the whole community when he was reborn in a fishing village. Even his teacher the Venerable Shariputra did not get alms food because he was accompanied by Losaka Tissa Thera, the doer of the unwholesome deed in the past. This is ample proof that the effects of misdeeds effect with him in the series of existences. Therefore everyone should think of their well-being in samsara, and lest they too should suffer indirect ill effects, take care to distance themselves, et least in mind, if not in body from evil individuals even if they happen to be relatives. Only then will one be free from the evil aura of unwholesome deeds and become virtuous persons in the existences to come.

Ill Effect on Others

There are cases in which some person unfortunately suffered the ill effect in lieu of the doer. In such cases the doer escaped the bad resultant effects due to some form of protection *, but someone else very close to him such as his parents, teachers, children, servants, disciples or donors had to suffer in his place. People would then say, “Poor creature became the victim of kamma.” The actual doer, who is responsible for the evil, will also feel sorry for the poor victim though he escaped the ill effects of his own misdeed. It may be seen therefore he is not altogether free from some suffering.


From the point of view of astrology, if the doer of evil is under his lucky constellation, he would not suffer from the evil effects, which are diverted to some relative, servant or family member.

Same Kamma, Different Results

In this world there are good virtuous persons as well as bad, evil ones. Let us suppose a good person and a bad person did the same petty evil deed. The good one will not suffer much because his good kamma will over-rule the single misdeed. But for the bad person, since he has no good kamma to cover him, will be fully effected by the evil results.

For example, at night, a rich man's son and an opium-addict prowled around to snatch some chicken. The rich man's son actually stole a hen and ran away but was caught by the owner. Seeing the rich man's son the owner let him go because he dared not accuse him as a thief, he even apologized to the lad. But he charged the opium-addict with theft and put him in jail.

If you put in one viss of salt into the Ayeyarwaddy river, the taste of water remains unchanged. In the same way if you commit a petty evil deed while you have accumulated many good kamma, the small evil deed will cause no noticeable ill effect. But if you put one viss of salt into your pot, the water will go salty, in the same if you have accumulated only a few kusala (merit), a corresponding amount of evil will nullify your good kamma results.

Kusala kamma and akusala kamma can counteract each other. A small evil can in no way hinder a large quantity of good kamma kusala. But if you have only a small amount of kusala, a small evil will render your good kamma null and void. The moral lesson for the righteous is to do as many good deeds as possible and accumulate as much kusala as you can.

Condition For Sufficiency: Prosperity (Sampatti) Condition For Deficiency: Misfortune (Vipatti)

If conditions are sufficient and at hand it is called sampatti. When conditions are deficient is called vipatti. Throughout samsara, in the course of numerous existences, every sentient being has done many deeds, kamma, accumulating countless mental impulsions (javana citta) which must produce effects in the future. They do not lie out and perish without results, but wait till suitable conditions arise for its working out in some future life time.

There are four conditions of sufficiency (sampatti), as well as four conditions of deficiency (vipatti), for all beings in samsara (their cycles of existences). In sampatti conditions kusala kamma has the opportunity to produce good results whereas in vipatti conditions akusala kamma plays a leading role in produce bad effects.

The Four Sampatti Conditions

The Four Vipatti Conditions

1. Gati Sampatti And Gati Vipatti

Gati sampatti

All higher planes of existence such as human world, the worlds of Deva and the worlds of Brahma are called gati sampatti. Being reborn in such abodes give opportunity to their kusala kamma to produce desirable results. The human plane of existence is not entirely free from sufferings, and the Deva and Brahman, worlds above, there is little hardship or suffering. These beings of good destination enjoy good living with pleasurable sense-objects. Such beings, being reborn in gati sampatti are protected from the effects of their past misdeeds. Their bad kamma of the past will not gey much opportunity to produce their evil effects.

Although the human world is not free from suffering it is still gati sampati because, compared with the four Apaya (woeful) planes, it is far more comfortable. The human world gives opportunity to avoid evil sense-object and meet with pleasurable sense-objects.

Gati vipatti

Gati vipatti means the four woeful planes of existence i.e., heel, animal kingdom, the world of hungry ghosts and the plane of demons. Being in hell and petas (miserable ghosts) suffer great pain and hunger all the time. Therefore they are constantly exposed to the bad effects of their bad kamma. Their lives are always miserable with opportunity for all past actions to bear unwholesome fruits. In the animal kingdom which is not as woeful as the above two abodes, creatures suffer from hunger and thirst; they are constantly weather-beaten and live in constant fear of hunters and predators. These dukkhas show how beings are liable to suffer when opportunities arise from evil kamma to produce evil results. Small insects are crushed or trodden to death by human beings and vehicles everyday. Although these beings had done kusala kamma deeds in their past lives, their kusala can no way save them because they are in the lower woeful abodes i.e. gati vipatti when opportunity are more favorable for their past misdeeds to come to fruition.

2. Upadhi Sampatti And Upadhi Vipatti

Upadhi sampatti

For beings reborn in gati sampatti (in particular the human world) it is important that they also have upadhi sampatti, pleasant features or good personality. A human being with ugly physical features may not achieve success or popularity while those with pleasant looks, though born in low class or in poverty, may receive help from others and achieve success in life. Good results of past kamma are opportune take effect. A pleasant look is a great asset. The poor lass Samavati became the chief maid of King Utena because of their upadhi sampatti, just as Mrs. Simpson won the heart of King Edward VIII.

Let alone humans, some creatures in gati vipatti such as animals receive protection, food and shelter if they have good looks. Beautiful birds, lovely dogs and colorful fishes are kept as pets by rich people in their houses. Thus good deeds can come to fruition just because of their upadhi sampatti.

Upadhi vipatti

Ugly animals, deformed animal, etc. are subject to both gati vipatti and upadhi vipatti. There is no chance for their past good deeds to bear fruit in such conditions. Human beings, although in gati sampatti, if they are ugly or deformed, cannot enjoy the effects of their kusala. Even the prosperous high society persons cannot with admiration of others if they are ugly. For instance Princess Pabavati, the beautiful, refused to see or speak to King Kusa, the ugly. Upadhi vipatti paves the way for bad kamma to produce bad results. King Kusa the ugly had to work as a cook, as a potter and as a mat-weaver in order to win the sympathy and love of the beautiful princess. If one partner of a couple is ugly, he or she will look like a servant, not a spouse. Such are the drawbacks of upadhi vipatti.

3. Kala Sampatti And Kala Vipatti

Kala sampati

The reign of noble, wise rulers is called kala sampati. Under the leadership of wise regents who care for the social welfare of the people, promoting their prosperity, health and education, kusala kamma results are opportune to take effect. Consequently the people enjoy a good life. They are free from worry and fear and live in tranquility. Such a period is kala sampatti. Such times, the past evil deeds which could result in poverty and famine cannot produce immediate effect. All forms of akusala have no chance to take action during the time of kala sampatti.

Kala vipatti

The rule is incompetent wicked leaders is called kala vipati. Times of war and countrywide disorder are also called kala vipatti. At such times, akusala kamma is opportune to produce bad results. Consequently people suffer poverty and famine. Even those endowed with kusala kamma cannot enjoy their good results at such bad times. People live in catastrophe; the sick die for lack of medical care. Such are the evils of kala vipatti.

4. Payoga Sampatti And Payoga Vipatti

Payoga sampatti

Payoga sampatti means the combined effect of sati (mindfulness) viriya (vigilance) and nana (knowledge). Here knowledge means harmless knowledge as well as vitakka (good reasoning). Vigilance, effort, alertness, insight, wisdom, intelligence and mindfulness - all amount to payoga sampatti. In the realm of Devas and Brahmas, payoga sampatti is not so prominent. But in this human world it is of paramount importance.

Human beings have no akusala kamma so powerful as to bring immediate effect. The power of past deeds depend on whether there is payoga sampatti or not to produce results and on the degree of payoga sampatti.

In a nutshell, people should not rely only on past kusala kamma for their well-being. They must also rely on the efforts exerted in this life. This payoga sampatti channels past kusala kamma to flow in the right direction. Of course some wholesome deeds done in the past produce good results at present, such as winning lottery or unearthing a pot of gold. But such events are very rare. In trade and commerce the effect of the past kusala kamma accounts for only one fourth of the prosperity achieved; the remaining three-fourth is due to payoga sampatti in this life.

Payoga Sampatti Can Stop Akusala Kamma

Akusala kamma can be divided into two grades: (a) Powerful or major kamma, (b) Feeble or minor kamma. Payoga sampatti cannot stop the bad effects of akusala kamma of the first grade. It can only soften the blow to some extent. For example King Ajatashatru killed his father. For this serious crime of patricide he was bound to suffer in Avici Hell. His payoga sampatti, however vigorous, cannot save his fate. Yet, due to his repentance and devotion to the Buddha, he was penalized in Udassa Niraya (a lesser hell) and suffered less than his due. This even Garu akusala (the greatest evil) can be mitigated by sufficient payoga sampatti.

Therefore if your evil deeds are not so bad as Ajasattu, you can lessen or stop the coming bad results. If you have done evil deeds such as abusing your teachers, showing disrespect to parents and elders, slandering virtuous persons, you can stop the coming evil consequences by mindfulness and sincere repentance.

You can nullify the evil consequences by prostrating in apology before them or, if they are dead, by doing the same at their graves. If you repentance and apologies are sincere, your payoga sampatti will ward off the impending evil results.

Similarly, feeble or minor bad kamma can be abrogated by greater good kamma here and now. Monks who have transgressed Vinaya rules of the lesser kind can rectify their misdeeds by following repentance procedures outlined by the Buddha. Thus even the effects of some moderately evil kamma can be stopped by the payoga sampatti.

Payoga Sampatti Brings Prosperity

People who have no faith in the Ti Ratana (Three Jewels) also have accumulated merits because they surely had done good in their past existences. This know-how, their perseverance and their diligence are praiseworthy. In addition to the welfare of the individual, they exert great effort to defend their country through science and high technology. (although some Buddhists severely criticize their endeavors as being akusala), no one can deny that these efforts bring about economic prosperity social development.

Such aliens who come to our country to seeks wealth and prosperity are found to be very vigilant, hard-working, skilful, intelligent and clever. Their know-how is far superior to ours. With foresight they select appropriate sites and places (pati rupa desa) for their enterprises because they have wide knowledge and experience. With so much payoga sampatti, their past kusala kamma has very good opportunity to produce effects and accordingly they become rich in leaps and bounds. If we, Buddhist citizens of Myanmar, should follow the path of diligence (sampatti) effort, we would also achieve prosperity and progress as they do. We all should seek knowledge and experience together with payoga sampatti for our national development.

Health Through Payoga Sampatti

Human beings born to this world are accompanied by kusala kamma which brings good health as well as by akusala kamma which brings ill-health. Conforming to health disciplines, personal hygiene, regular exercise and sufficient rest and sleep, adequate medical care, all amounts to payoga sampatti which leads to good health. For those with such payoga sampatti, their past kusala kamma will also take effect and enhance their physical well-being.

Hence payoga sampatti is the prime factor for kusala kamma to bear good fruits. Due to payoga sampatti one can gain knowledge, marry a worthy partner, get good friends and teachers and acquire wealth and status. It can also assist in the fulfilling of perfections which pave the way to Nibbāna. In the constituents of payoga sampatti, knowledge is the first requirement. Second comes mindfulness and third vigilance, in whatever we do.

Payoga vipatti

Torpor, laziness, lack of knowledge, forgetfulness, envy jealousy, anger, hatred and vain pride are all payoga vipatti. They stand in the way of success and prosperity; payoga vipatti opens the door for very powerful akusala kamma to take effect immediately. Such powerful evils are present only in the mind-continuum of only a very few people. But smaller evils are always present in everyone, waiting to produce effects with the occurrence of payoga vipatti.

For example, children of good families lead good lives by seeking education, right livelihood, observing the Five Precepts; these wholesome acts, will prevent the evil results of the past to produce effects. If children are lazy, undisciplined, follow wrong livelihood, and breach Five Precepts; they are developing payoga vipatti. This in turn invites the past akusala kamma to take immediate effect.

To sum up, apart from very powerful kusala and akusala kamma, other ordinary kamma whatsoever may or may not produce results, good or bad depending on payoga sampatti or payoga vipatti. For people with payoga sampatti, only kusala kamma will prevail and akusala kamma will have no chance to produce effects. On the other hand, for those with payoga vipatti, good kamma results have no place; only the evil akusala kamma will take result. People whose lives are ruined by their akusala kamma due to the prevalence of payoga vipatti are not uncommon. They can be found in almost every community.

Can We Reform Or Not?

Among the four vipatti conditions, some can be rectified and some cannot. There is nothing we can do about the plan of existence we are born in. This means gati vipatti cannot be rectified.

But for some vipatti conditions can be improved or rectified. For example if you are born poor, ignorant environments you can move to patirupa desa (favorable places). We can see many foreigners moving into our country in search for wealth. So also people from upper Myanmar move southwards to lower Myanmar for the same purpose. Scholars are known to move to localities where better education is available. Yet you ought to possess certain basic qualifications such as intelligence and diligence to win success in other place. Without these, moving to another place will be fruitless. In the case of upadhi sampatti or upadhi vipatti the bodily features cannot be changed. But you can improve your appearance by means of suitable and matching attire. The impact of stylish garments can be noticed in the difference between urbanites and country folk. Mother can, in many ways, improve the bone structure and rectified minor deformities of their babies. Even some form of facial ugliness and dissymmetry of limbs can be improved by proper care and means, and the health of the babies can be well maintained through proper feeding and dieting. The ignorance and carelessness of mothers cause slight deformities as well as ill health in their infants. The absence of payoga sampatti makes room for akusala kamma to take effect. Payoga sampatti includes knowledge, intelligence and right effort the combination of which can rectify certain defects.

In the case of kala vipatti one person cannot do much to alter the conditions. Only the rulers are capable of doing so. Nevertheless, except in the time of global turmoil, one can move to places where there are capable leaders. Local leaders such as the village headman, community leaders and abbots can make conditions improve in their localities to some extent. You will, by this time, realize that the three vipatti conditions, namely gati, upadhi and kala can be improved and rectified to a certain extent.

The easiest to rectify is payoga. If you are lazy you can reform yourself to be industrious. If you are short-tempered, you can practice patience and become an affectionate person. If you are vainly proud, you can admonish yourself not to be so. If you lack knowledge and education, you can learn from the wise. In a short time you will accumulate knowledge and wisdom. Those who try to reform themselves, to rectify their faults will benefits not only in the present life but also in the countless existences to come i.e. in samsara.

Do Not Always Depend On Kamma

In this world there are four great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Hinduism and Buddhism believe kamma and its result. Christianity and Islam believe in the Creator of the universe. The belief in Creator of the universe will not be dealt with in detail. That this is wrong belief will be easily evident to the reader of this book. Those who believe that past kamma deeds and their results solely determine the destiny of a being is accepting also wrong belief known as Pubbekatahetuditthi. This is wrong belief because it professes that all good and bad effects experiences by all sentient beings are sole results of good and bad deeds done in the past existences.

Therefore Buddhists who believe that past kamma actions alone determine the present life are committed to Pubbekatahetuditthi. Keeping in mind the four sampatti and the four vipatti, you can be positive that the results of good and bad kamma are pursuing you all the time. But the effects of evil deeds can produce effects only when vipatti conditions prevail. And the effects of past good deeds come to you only when the sampatti conditions are ambient. This is right belief or right view.

Even if you have done bad deeds in the past they will not produce effects if you diligently cultivate payoga sampatti. If in this life, you strive to fulfill parami perfections such as Dana, Sīla, etc., you will be reborn in a luxurious abode. If you keep on cultivating payoga sampatti in every existence, you will forever enjoy sati sampatti. Then your bad kamma kusala will never get the chance to harm you until the attainment of Nibbāna. Therefore do not worry about your past kamma deeds which you cannot see or recollect. Try to be righteously prosperous in this life; reform yourself and develop payoga sampatti to the highest magnitude so that you will soar higher in the cycle of rebirths.

Reciprocal Effects

Both kusala kamma and akusala kamma produce reciprocal and similar effects. Someone who had taken life will be killed in one of his next existences; or he will be infested with ailments. [See also Ratana Gonyi for details].

Reciprocal Effects Of Dana

Generosity, alms giving, charity and the goodwill to help others are all Dana. The effect of Dana is such that the donor will be wealthy all the more in the next existence. But if you fail to have apara cetana volition (post-charity volition), that is if you feel stingy or remorse after your charity, you will not be happy in your next life in spite of your wealth. You will spend your days in the manner of a destitute even though you are a rich person.

The Story of a Rich Man

Before the time of Gotama Buddha, there lived a rich man, at whose door a Pacceka Buddha arrived for alms-food. The rich man at first ordered his servants to offer alms food to the Paccake Buddha. Afterwards he felt that it was just a waste of food to have offered alms food; he failed to have apara cetana and was unhappy.

He was reborn as a rich man during the time of Gotama Buddha due to his charity of offering alms food. But due to his poor cetana he never felt like living a wealthy life. He wore coarse cheap cloths and ate broken rice and vinegar only. He lived like a poor man; all his wealth was confiscated by the king because he had no heirs.


[Lesson] Ponder deeply about this rich man. In these day also there are stingy persons who do not live enjoying their wealth. They do not have the heart to wear good clothes or eat good food. If they donate their money and property to the poor and the needy, it will justify their thrift. But sheer stinginess is evil. In their next existences, their stinginess will pursue them in the form of vipaka. They will end their life as a miserly rich man.

The Best

Bear in mind that the rich man should live according to one's status and wealth. They should live comfortably, save a portion for inheritance and also give away in charity. Only then they can be said to live a worthy life bringing benefits for this life as well as the forthcoming ones.

The Dipeyin Sayadaw admonished as follows: “Food eaten becomes excreta; see that property is left behind when one dies; kusala kamma alone bear fruits; while in the worthy abode of human eat what you earn; but also save a portion for inheritance and give away in charity. This is the way of the virtuous.”

Reciprocal Effects Of Sīla

Observing the Five Precepts (Panca Sīla) of Eight Precepts (Uposatha Sīla) brings welfare to all beings. Sīla also enables one to lead a peaceful life free from anxiety and worries. The good effects of Sīla may not make one wealthy; but it sure brings peace of mind. Dana brings wealth in future lives - “Dana to bhogava”. Sīla bring health of body and peace of mind - “Sīla to sukhita”.

Reciprocal Effect Of Bhāvanā

Those who wish to meditate bhāvanā kammatthana ought to do so in remote sylvan resorts, leading a solitary life. When you practice bhāvanā you will achieve jhana, only you see most clearly the faults of sensual pleasures. To obtain Magga and Phala you must go further and develop loath and disgust on rupa and nama khanda (body and mind) throughout the whole cycles of deaths and rebirths.

If you meditate alone concentrating your mind on the four Brahmacariya practices, you will be reborn in the celestial abode of Brahmas, when you no longer yearn for company of a female Brahma. On becoming a Brahma, one lives alone in divine ecstasy, emanating living-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and enjoying supra mundane life in heavenly mansion. But for the person who has achieved Magga and Phala it is quite different. He no longer has any attachment not only to material things such as a heavenly mansion but also to his nama and rupa; he then attains cessation of all suffering, the Supreme Bliss of Nibbāna. The state of Nibbāna is the cessation of all mind and matter, all sufferings, all existences; only the dhatu (ultimate element) remains.

Therefore each type of wholesome deed (Dana, Sīla, bhāvanā, etc.) produces corresponding results in equal measure. All forms of kusala kamma bring beneficial results. Therefore, if you have the lofty aim attaining Nibbāna, you must first get rid of all evil thoughts; then you must pave the noble way along samsara by doing wholesome deed as much as possible.


Here ends the chapter on kamma, its power and its effect. For my good deed of writing this book may all readers profess true belief, with maturity of knowledge on the effects of Kamma. May I together with my acquaintances acquire righteous belief in all future existences and strive for the attainment of Nibbāna.

[Here Ends The Chapter On The Nature Of Kamma]

Chapter Eight

Mind Processes Immediately Preceding Death

The Previous Chapters have dealt with classes of consciousness (types of mind) and the nature of deeds (kamma) regularly performed. Man is always occupied with these good and bad thoughts and these wholesome and unwholesome deeds. While thus being engaged, death taps him on the shoulder and so he has to leave behind his wealth, property and loved ones and departs this life for good. Therefore we should know the importance of time immediately preceding death and know we should face the coming death.

The Four Causes Of Death

Death is due to four causes, namely:

An apt analogy of four causes of death is the extinguishing of the flame of an oil lamp. The possible causes are:

Here kamma means reflection on good or bad deeds done by him in the past. Kamma nimitta indicates the utensils or instruments used in the doing of the good deed or evil. Gati nimitta is the vision of the abodes or plane of existence he will be reborn in.

a. How Kamma Arammana Appears

Past deeds and actions which are powerful to determine the next rebirth of a being may appear in vision just before death. These past deeds may be from past existences; of those done months, days or just hours or minutes ago.

If pasts deeds are kusala kamma such as observance of precepts or performance of Dana, one will see them as a reflection in a dream-like vision, or in an illusionary vision. The same goes for akusala kamma for instance, having committed killing, one remembers the deed or sees it in vision as if he is doing the killing just then.

b. How Kamma Nimitta Arammana Appears

Those who had killed others will see the weapons they had used - swords, daggers, nets, arrows, sticks, etc. as death vision. A butcher is said to see prophetic images of a great heap of cattle bones.

Those who had done immoral deeds such as stealing, adultery, etc., will see prophetic visions that correspond to their evil deeds.

Those who had done meritorious deeds such as building pagodas and monasteries will see vision of the pagodas and monasteries just before death or they may see offertories they had donated in association with their meritorious deeds of construction of pagodas and monasteries, i.e., robes, alms-bowl, flowers and incenses.

For those who had observed Sīla or meditated on kammatthana will see visions of beads, clean clothes, meditation centers, sylvan resorts, etc. Those who had done other pious services will also see appropriate visions.

c. How Gati Nimitta Arammana Appears

At the proximate time of death, prophetic signs appear to indicate one's next life. If you are going to be reborn a Deva, you will see Devas, celestial mansions, beautiful gardens, etc. if hell is your destiny, then you see black dogs, hellfire, or hell demons. Those who will becomes petas (hungry ghosts) will see forests and mountains and streams where they will dwell.

Facial Expressions

The facial expression of a dying person indicates his next rebirth. If his face is clear, cheerful he is sure to be reborn in higher abodes. A gloomy, sorrowful or stern face indicates rebirth in lower realms. [Some will smile in ecstasy of past sensual pleasures. Such smiles cannot be taken as good signs.]

Indication By Muttering

Sometimes a dying person mutters or murmurs indistinct words unconsciously. Once upon a time an old hunter, the father of the Arahat Sona, was ordained a monk after thirty years of hunting life. When he was about to die he saw black dogs charging at him in his death-visions. He repeatedly cries, “O son! Drive away the dogs.”

The Arahat Sona knew his father was seeing bad nimitta and would be reborn in hell. So he took his dying father to the pagoda platform and laid him on a bed of flowers. He then said, “On your behalf, I have offered flowers to the Buddha. Father, pay homage to the Enlightened One!” So his father clasped his hands in worship and paid respects. At that time celestial damsels came into his death-visions and he muttered, “I see your aunts (step mothers) coming. Please give them seats,” before he died. The Arahat Sona knew his father would be reborn a Deva.

Another Kind Of Gati Nimitta

Some person on their deathbeds happens to see the actual scenes of their next rebirth. In the time of the Gotama Buddha, Yevati, the wife of the rich man Nandiya, was haughty shrew. She had no faith in the Buddha and used to abuse Bhikkhus; her husband was an ardent devotee. When he died he became a Deva. When Yevati was about to die, two demons from hell dragged her up to the celestial abode and showed the luxury being enjoyed by Nandiya. Then they dragged her down to hell to punish her for her evil attitude.

During the Buddha's time a pious devotee called Dhammika took refuge in the Three Jewels. He led a group of devotee and observed Sīla. When his time came near, he listened to the sermons of Bhikkhus on his deathbed and saw six celestial chariots waiting overhead to take him to Deva loka. He also heard the Devas arguing as to who would take him on their chariot. He soon died and was conveyed in the Tushita chariot to the heavenly abode where he became a Deva.

For those who had swallowed by the earth on account of serious evil deeds, they directly felt the heat of Avici Hell fire here and now. Thus we see now that gati nimitta arammana appears in various modes. In our times too dying people hear music and get sweet aroma, also witnessed by those nearby. These gati nimitta together with kamma arammana and kamma nimitta appear as visions due to the power of good deeds done before.

Helping Good Arammana To Appear

When people suffering ill health are slowly dying a natural death, teachers, friends and relatives can help good arammana to appear in the vision of the dying person. When they are sure that the dying person cannot recover, they should maintain maximum cleanliness in the room and surrounding area and offer scented flowers intending for the Buddha. At night the whole room should be well illuminated. They should tell the dying person to visualize the flowers and candles offered on his behalf and ask him to delight in the good deed. They should also recite parittas (Suttas) at a time when his mind can still dwell on holy subjects. The patient should not feel disheartened and the people looking after him should show no grief. Recitations and reverential offerings should not be done only at the last moment before death, but should be performed in advance many days ahead. Only then the dying man will be suffused in thoughts of kusala action dedicated to the Buddha and Dhamma, smelling the sweet scent of flowers. Hearing the sounds of Dhamma, words of the Buddha for quite a few days.

Thus as the dying moment draws near while seeing the lights and flowers, smelling sweet scents, hearing the Dhamma words, the death consciousness will arise before these arammanas disappears. In consequence of these last minutes wholesome thoughts of kusala deeds, he is bound to be reborn in good abodes. Therefore teachers, friends and relatives have the responsibility to help good arammanas appear to a dying person while he is still capable of directing his mind on these objects. Keep in mind how the Venerable Sona helped his father's bad nimittas disappear and good ones appear.

How Rebirth Consciousness Appears

Immediately after death-consciousness of one life, rebirth consciousness arises in new life. These two have no interval between them. They are spontaneously connected. A new life, a rebirth occurs instantaneously. Someone who have just departed the human abode is instantly reborn in some plane of existence, whether it be hell or celestial. Right after death, rebirth-consciousness appears and conduces to the formation of a new being, a new existence.

Two Wrong Views

We must be very careful lest we should view death and rebirth in the light of two wrong beliefs - sassata ditthi and uccheda ditthi. The belief that there is a soul which dwells inside the body, and that soul moves to a new body to become another being is sassata ditthi (wrong belief in soul). The belief that both mind and matter of a living being are annihilated at death, and that a new being, created by God, has nothing to do with any other being in the past, is uccheda ditthi (wrong belief in annihilation).

The Right View

The next or coming existences of living beings are determined by avijja (ignorance), tanha (attachment) and kamma (deeds). Ajijja conceals the nature of the mind, matter and khanda (bodily aggregate) if the next existences. Tanha, lust for life, prompts them to cling to bhava (existences). This Tanha makes them crave for a good life, even though they see signs of miserable plane of existence awaiting them. Thus due to the concealment of the sufferings of life and the craving for a new life, kamma exercises its power to conduce to the conception of a new being complete with rupa and nama.

Therefore the prime factors that initiate the conception of a new being that is, new rupa and nama are (a) avijja (b) tanha and ⓒ kamma. The belief in uccheda ditthi (annihilism) and the belied in sassata ditthi (the soul or ego) are both wrong beliefs. Either nama or rupa can in no way transmigrate to another life. In fact nama and rupa come into being and spontaneously cease to exist in a very short time. There is no such thing as a soul or an ego.

We must be very careful not to be misled by the two views. We must understand that in a new existence, conception, the formation of rupa and nama is the resultant of avijja, tanha and kamma of the previous existence. This is the only righteous belief.

When we shout loudly in the vicinity of a mountain, we hear an echo. This echo is not the original sound produced by the man; nor it is independent of the original sound. When a candle from the flame of a first candle, the new flame is not that of the first; nor it is independent of the first candle. Likewise, a new existence is not the transmigration of the old one; nor it is independent of the old. Bear in mind that if the past kamma is wholesome, the present life will be good, both in mind and matter. If the past kamma is evil so will b the present life. The good and experiences in the present life are account by two factors - the deeds done in the past, the one's knowledge and diligence in this life.


Here ends an explanation of the mind processes just before death. But death does not mean the absolute end of a being. It is in fact the beginning of a new life, a new being. It is far more important to achieve a good rebirth than to die. To have a good death-consciousness is not as easy as one might think.

First, one must die with as little pain as possible, as mild an ailment as possible; second, there needs be good relatives and friends nearby to help dying person on his deathbed. Therefore it is better and more beneficial if that person himself prepares for future life rather than wait for the last moment. One should live morally and prepare for his dying days so as to have a good rebirth along samsara until the attainment of Nibbāna

[Here Ends The Accounts Of What Happen
When Death Draws Near]

Chapter Nine

Patisandhi (The Nature Of Rebirth)

Patisandhi* is the formation of cittas, cetasikas and rupa in a new existence, in accordance with one's kamma. It is, in common usage, conception in the mother's womb. The literal meaning of patisandhi in Pali is 'formation in connection' at the termination of old existence.


* Patisandhi - lit. 'Reunion, Relinking' i.e., Rebirth is one of the 14 functions of consciousness (vinnana-kicca). It is a kamma-resultant type of consciousness and arises at the moment of conception. Immediately afterwards it sinks into the subconscious stream of existence (bhāvanāgasota) and conditioned there by ever and ever again, corresponding states of sub consciousness arise. Thus it is really Rebirth Consciousness that determines the latent character of a person (Buddhist Dictionary Nyantiloka).

The Four Types Of Patisandhi

Due to corresponding kamma, there are four types of patisandhi:

1. Opapatika Patisandhi (Spontaneous Rebirth Or Rebirth As A Wholly Mature Being)

Deva, Brahmas, sinners in hell, petas (hungry ghosts) and asurakaya (demons) are reborn as mature grown-up beings without passing through fetal and infant stages. They do not come out from mother's wombs. They appear together with their patisandhi citta right at their dwellings, i.e. celestial mansions, forests, mountains, streams or oceans. The first human beings were born in this way when this kappa (world-cycle) was formed. They suddenly took their human form without the necessity of conception. This is known as opapatika patisandhi or upapat patisandhi.

2. Samsedaja Patisandhi (Born Or Arisen From Moisture)

Some sentient beings take rebirths in places where the fetus could cling to. Larvae hatch and grow up in decaying organic matter. Queen Padumavati was conceived in a lotus blossom and Queen Veluvati in the hollow of bamboo plant. Cincamana who slandered the Buddha took rebirth in a tamarind tree. Most insects belong to this type of patisandhi, but human exceptions are not a few in number.

3. Andhaja Patisandhi (Oviparous)

Beings who are hatched out of eggs such as birds and fishes belong to this type of rebirth. In the Jatakas we read about some human males marrying female nagas bearing forth human offspring by means of Andhaja patisandhi.

4. Jalabuja Patisandhi (Born From A Womb Or Viviparous)

This class of patisandhi includes humans and other mammals. They all are born from the wombs of their mothers. Inferior Devas such as Bhuma Devas and Rukkha Devas sometimes take jalabuja patisandhi. Both andhaja and jalabuja types are collectively termed gabbhaseyyaka (those who are born from wombs).

The Three Causes Of Patisandhi

Living beings born out of samsedaja and opapatika patisandhi have no parents at all. They are born only out of the power of their own kamma. For gabbhaseyyaka beings, who are born only after being conceived in the mother's womb, a question arises: “How does conception take place?”

The three necessary conditions for conception are

  • (a) the mother-to-be must had menstruation just recently,
  • (b) there must be sexual union and
  • ⓒ the child-to-be must have died in his previous existence.

Pregnancy usually takes place within seven or fifteen days of sexual union between parents.

Some Strange Cases

Although there is no sexual union between parents, there can be pregnancy in some strange cases. The Bodhisattva Suvannasama takes patisandhi in his mother's womb when his father caressed her navel with his palm just after her menstruation. The mother of King Chandhapajjota felt sensual pleasure when a centipede crept across her belly just after menstruation and later she was pregnant. A pond heron or bittern, feeling pleasure from southern breeze at the beginning of monsoon, becomes pregnant. In the time of Buddha a Bhikkhunī became pregnant when she swallowed the semen from her own ex-husband monk's robe. After drinking urine containing the semen of a hermit, a doe got pregnant and gave birth to a son Issisingha. There are some exceptionally singular cases of pregnancy.

The Clear Kalala Fluid

With the occurrence of patisandhi citta and corresponding cetasikas, there comes into being a minute matter called kalala-rupa in the form of a clear fluid. This matter takes the form of a droplet the size of a drop of oil clinging to the trip of a hair of a damsel from the Northern Continent. This kalala droplet (the very first stage of formulation of fetus) is formed by the kammic forces of past deeds. It is neither semen nor ovule of his parents, they are supporting agents of this kalala.

The Support Of Semen And Ovule

A kalala droplet is produced by produced by a child's past kamma but parents' semen and ovule are essential supports for pregnancy to take place. The kalala droplet is like the seed; semen and ovule are like the moist sail or swamp; past kamma is like the farmer. Therefore a clean ovary and healthy semen and ovule are essential. Otherwise the fetus cannot develop into a healthy baby.

Reptiles, especially iguanas living in red-soil burrows are red and those in block-soil burrows are black. In like manner, a baby inherits the genetic features of parents transmitted through the semen and ovule on which the fetus relies for full development; hence the resemblance between off spring and parent. Even mentalities and character including intelligence can be handed over to the child.

These similarities or resemblance are due to genetic transfer during the fetal stage. And another reason is that the child, being brought up in the same family environment, emulates the behavior, mentality and style of the parents. So good, civilized children are born of worthy and virtuous families while villainous children come from vile and depraved families. Therefore both parents to be of virtuous blood for the child to be worthy one. The kalala droplet which is cultured in pure healthy semen and ovule will produce the best off spring.

The Four Type Of Individuals (Puggala)


Hetu - Six roots or base as moral condition of good and bad kamma viz lobha, dosa and moha for evil deeds; aloba, adosa and amoha for good deeds. Ahetu, Dvi or Tihetuka - having or accompanied by 2 or 3 or no root conditions.


1. Dugati Ahetuka Puggala

Some individuals take patisandhi in woeful, unhappy abodes called Apaya. Such beings are known as dugati ahetuka puggala - beings in woeful planes without concomitant of non-greed (alobha), non-hatred (adosa) and non-delusion (amoha) accompanying their birth-consciousness. These types can also be found in the human world and in the minor Deva realms; they are called sugati ahetuka punggala - beings in good planes without concomitant of non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion accompanying their birth consciousness.

2. Sugati Ahetuka Puggala

a. Human Being

In this world there are some persons with sugati ahetuka patisandhi citta - birth-consciousness of beings in good planes not accompanied of alobha, adosa and amoha. They are very weak kusala and so are born blind, dumb, deaf or idiotic. Some are born sexless; some as bisexual beings.

b. Deities

Due to weak wholesome deeds some are reborn with sugati ahetuka patisandhi citta as Devas but without power and without worthy dwellings. They have to seek shelter near the mansions of higher Devas such as Bhuma Devas or Rukkha Deva. They are never well fed and have to survive on leftovers thrown away by people. Sometimes they scare women and children so as to exhort food from them and live on food offered to propitiate them. Such poor Devas lead miserable life though they belong to the Catumaharaja plane. Just as there are intelligent individuals among poor human beings, so also there may be among poor Devas who are not ahetuka or tihetuka individuals (see example below). Some poor Devas are known to achieve Magga and Phala during the time of the Buddha.

3. Dvihetuka Puggala

In the chapter on Dana we have explained dvihetuka ukkattha kusala and tihetuka omaka kusala etc. Some persons are reborn as human and Devas for their good deeds without the accompaniment of amoha (insight knowledge) or even with amoha the deed was done with weak cetana or some dissatisfaction, they are endowed with only two hetukas in their patisandhi cittas - alobha and adosa. Hence they become dvihetuka individuals.

The two types of ahetuka puggala and dvihetuka puggala have very feeble patisandhi and have no opportunity to attain jhana, Magga or Phala in the present life. But they can become tihetuka persons in the next life if they meditate kammatthana and follow the virtuous path. Therefore they should endeavor to practice bhāvanā in this life so as to make it a habit in future lives.

4. Tihetuka Puggala

Due to tihetuka kusala citta (already explained in the chapter on Dana), one can be reborn in the human world or in the abode of Devas, as a tihetuka individual who is intelligent and wise and can achieve jhana, if they try for it. They can also attain Magga and Phala if they become accomplished in parami perfections. Today we can find quite a number of tihetuka persons. Only laziness and lack of discipline prevent them from becoming ariya persons. Thus due to difference in their patisandhi cittas, there happen to be four types of persons - duggati ahetuka, sugati ahetuka, dvihettuka and tihetuka.

The Eight Types Of Ariya (Noble)

  • 1. Sotapatti magga puggala
  • 2. Sotapatti phala puggala
  • 3. Sakadagami magga puggala
  • 4. Sakadagami phala puggala
  • 5. Anagami magga puggala
  • 6. Anagami phala puggala
  • 7. Arahatta magga puggala
  • 8. Arahatta phala puggala

Tihetuka persons can become Sotapatti magga punggala, if and when they achieve sotapatti magga. In the same way if and when tihetuka persons achieve sotapatti phala, they became Sotapatti phala punggala. As they rise higher in their achievement, in order of ascending merit (3) to (8).

The eight type of individual is called am Arahat. Pecceka Buddhas and Buddhas are Arahats with very special Nana (insight-wisdom).

Kamma Is Our True Parents

One's own deeds determine one's patisandhi citta and thus one's destiny also. Kamma determines your next existence not only to differ in patisandhi at the start, but also in physical appearance in status of parentage, status of wealth, etc.

Let us compare two persons. One had done good deeds eagerly with intelligence while the other did not; or if he did he was not very willing. When they die and are reborn in this human world, the former will be conceived in the womb of a well-to-do mother who cares for her pregnancy in a proper way. The latter will be conceived in a poor mother who does not know how to care for the pregnancy. So even at the time of pregnancy there are vast differences between the two babies. At the time of birth too, the former will be born comfortably while the other with much pain and difficulty. After birth the differences become more and more pronounced. The disparity becomes greater in due course. The rich child is well brought up and educated whereas the poverty-stricken child will experience just the opposite. To sum up, the former will live a life of luxury - cared for and loved by grand parents, and all relatives - whilst the latter will have to struggle strenuously for his survival.


At just mentioned, the kamma deeds done in the past greatly influence the destiny of a person right from infancy. Knowing the different effects of kamma, we should not blame the people who favor only the rich and the powerful. Fortune favors the wealthy. So you should only blame your ignorance and past misdeeds and try your best to become the prosperous, the virtuous through performing wholesome deeds.

Being envious or jealous of the well-to-do without striving for yourself is fruitless stupidity. Envy and jealousy will serve only to drag you down into the chasm of suffering to meet more misery in the future existences.

May all readers of this book and all my friends and acquaintances commence endeavors right now and achieve good rebirth on their way to Nibbāna.

[Here Ends The Chapter On Patisandhi]

Chapter Ten

Rupa (Matter)

Since the material body called kalala (clear fluid) accompany the arising of the first birth-consciousness (patisandhi citta) we should understand the course of arising and ceasing of the material body throughout one's life. Hence we propose to deal with what should be known of rupa (Matter) in this chapter.

Rupa literally means that which changes its nature. The causes of change are many; they include heat and cold. In very cold climate your skin cracks, and the pigment changes; you catch cold and fall ill. In the group of purgatories called Lokantarika, the sinners drop into very cold water and are crushed to death. In hot climate your skin get inflamed and redden; you get burns and scalds; you get sunstroke. Moreover you may be bitten by mosquitoes, pests, dogs or snake; some of these bites may be fatal. Hunger and thirst may also kill you. These are examples of the changing nature of rupa.

Classes Of Rupa

Although there are 28 classes of rupa in all, we shall mention only the important 19.

  • The Four Fundamental Elements
    • 1. Pathavi dhatu (earth element) - the element of extension, solidity.
    • 2. Apo dhatu (water element) - the element of fluidity, cohesion
    • 3. Tejo dhatu (fire element) - the element of heat, cold
    • 4. Vayo dhatu (air element) - the element of motion support
  • The Five Pasada Rupa (Sensitive Parts of the Five Organs)
    • 5. Cakkhupasada (sensitive part of the eye)
    • 6. Sotapasada (sensitive part of the ear)
    • 7. Ghanapasada (sensitive part of the nose)
    • 8. Jivhapasada (sensitive part of the tongue)
    • 9. Kayapasada (sensitive part of the body)
  • The Five Arammana (Objects Grasped Through Sense-doors)
    • 10. Ruparammana (visible form)
    • 11. Saddarammana (sound)
    • 12. Gandharammana (smell)
    • 13. Rasarammana (taste)
    • 14. Photthabbarammana (touch, tangible sense)

Photthabbarammana is just pathavi, tejo and vayo; they serve as objects of temporary touch only; so it is not numbered.

  • The Two Sexes
    • 15.
      • (a) Itthi bahva rupa (femininity)
      • (b) Purisa bhava rupa (masculinity)
  • Seat or Basis of Consciousness
    • 16. Hadaya vatthu rupa
  • Vitality of Matter
    • 17. Jivita rupa
  • Essence of Nutrition
    • 18. Oja rupa or Ahara
  • Intra-atomic Space
    • 19. Akasa dhatu

The Four Fundamental Elements

1. Pathavi Dhatu

The earth element is also called element of solidity. The earth as a foundation supports all other things. Due to its hardness, firmness and strength it is called pathavi. The earth, rocks, stones, masses of metals are all matter in which the pathavi dhatu is dominant.

2. Apo Dhatu

Just as water enhances the cohesion of dust or powdered materials so also apo dhatu, the element of cohesion, makes aggregates of tiny particles. When apo dhatu is dominant, it can dissolve other elements and become fluid. Water, urine, mucus, sweat, saliva, tears, etc. are material dominated by apo dhatu.

3. Tejo Dhatu

Just as heat of the sun can dry wet things, so also the tejo element prevents excessive dampness and viscosity of aggregate matter and maintains optimum dryness. The body of a healthy person is usually cool in the summer. This coolness also tejo dhatu.

There are thus two types of tejo and sita tejo. Utu (climate) is another name for rejo. When the body and environs are cool, sita tejo pervades the entire atmosphere. When hot, unha tejo does the same. If this tejo dhatu is hot when it should be hot and cool when it is the time for cool season, we have healthy climate. In our bodies if tejo is moderate we are healthy; if not we are sick; if in excess we die.

Therefore those who cannot adapt to the changing tejo should live with care. They should avoid traveling in intense heat or extreme cold; they should avoid eating very hot or very cold food. Water and ice are aggregate matter with excess of site tejo where as the sun fire of unha tejo.

Pacaka tejo dhatu: this type of tejo serves to digest our food. It originates from beneath the stomach. Powerful pacaka tejo helps digest the food eaten, but if it is feeble you cannot digest properly and get stomach disorder. In order to be healthy you need to eat tender digestible food.

4. Vayo Dhatu

Vayo dhatu is the element of motion. It is seen in the wind blowing about and pushing against things. This dhatu pushes or moves other aggregate matter.

In our body there are six types of wind:

  • i. Uddhangama

Wind that moves upward, causing bleaching, coughing, sneezing and related illness. When we speak this wind moves constantly upwards and cause bowel discomfort. One should not speak with an empty stomach.

  • ii. Adhogama

Wind that moves downward causing bowel movement and frequent motion.

  • iii. Kucchittha

Wind that moves about in the visceral cavity apart from the large and small intestines.

  • iv. Kotthasaya

Wind that moves about inside the large and small intestines, pushing digestible food from the stomach into the rectum.

  • v. Anggamanganusari

Wind that moves within the limbs. If this wind does not move freely illness results. In our bodies there are small veins along which this wind moves. Staying in one posture for a long time prevents this wind from moving freely causing blood to accumulate at one location without flowing freely leading to stiffness and pain. To prevent this ailment, we should avoid remaining in one posture for a long time; and take walking exercise.

  • vi. Assasapassasa

Wind inhaled and exhaled by us. It is also known as anapana.

Basic And Secondary Matter

The four fundamental elements pathavi, tejo, vayo and apo are basic matter while other associated matter are secondary. The four fundamental elements serve as foundation for the secondary matter. If the aggregate of the four dhatus are immense, we have big inorganic masses such s high mountains, big fires and immense living organisms such as big Devas, big fishes. The larger the aggregate of the four fundamental dhatus, the bigger the size of the living or non-living thing.

Other pasada rupa are secondary matter. They do not grow in size. Sense-objects such as sight, sound, smell, appearances are included in the class of secondary matter. For example if you add mare scent to a cake of soap, it does not reduced the scent in the cake of soap, the aroma diminishes but the size remains the same. So we must remember that only the four fundamental dhatu are basic matter.

The Five Sense Organs

Radios and televisions can receive audio as well as visual signals. In the same way in our body there are sensitive parts of the sense organs called pasada rupa, which can receive the corresponding arammana (sense-objects).

1. Cakkhupadasa (Sensitive Part of Eye)

The sensitive part which lies at the center of the pupil and which enables one to see objects is cakkhu. It is made up of many kalapas or cells which can receive and comprehend various colors, lights, the ruparammana (sense-objects of sight). This cakkhupasada is the prima cause of eye-consciousness (cakkhu vinnana).

2. Sotapasada (Sensitive Part of Ear)

Inside your ear there is sensitive part called sota pasada, which is made up of many kalapas, sensitive to sound. It can receive and interpret sounds and cause sound-consciousness (sota vinnana).

3. Ghanapasada (Sensitive Part of Nose)

Inside your nose there is a special portion of many kalapas which resemble the hoof of a goat. It is sensitive to scent and can produce nose-consciousness (ghana vinnana).

4. Jivhapasada (Sensitive Part of Tongue)

In the middle of our tongue there are a collection of taste buds similar in shape to corolla of the water lily. It is sensitive to taste and can be produce tongue-consciousness (jivha vinnana).

5. Kayapasada (Organ of Touch)

Spread all over our body (expecting the dry areas) there are sense organs sensitive to touch. They are sensitive to touch and can produce body-consciousness (kaya vinnana).

The Five Arammanas

Therefore, we have these five pasada rupas (as discussed above) which are sensitive to the five drammanas. The Pali word arammana means the haunt of consciousness. Every consciousness arises only in association with a sense-object. Therefore sense-objects are the haunts of consciousness. Among them visual form is called ruparammana, which is matter. Sound is saddarammana, smell is ghandharammana, taste is rasarammana, and touch photabbhaammana. These five arammanas are the haunts, the habits of cittas (consciousness).

Dhammarammana consists not only of rupa but also citta, ceasika, Nibbāna and all panatti (conventional elements).


Pleasant sight, pleasant sound, pleasant smell, pleasant taste and pleasant touch are called the five kamaguna [kama = pleasure; guna = bondage]. In fact they are the five arammana we have just discussed. The physical, voice and scent of the female, the taste of food prepared by her, her bodily touch, are the favorite sensual pleasures for men. The converse is also true for the female.

The Two Sexes (Bhava Rupa)

The sex of a living thing, pusira bhava (male) or itthi bhava (female) is determined at the very beginning of pregnancy. The determining factor is of course, one's past kamma. The female chromosome is called itthi bhava rupa; the male chromosome purisa bhava rupa. These bhava rupas, chromosomes, dispersed all over the body, determine the physique, organs, behaviour and characteristics in the male and female respectively.

The Heart (Hadaya Vatthu Rupa)

The hadaya vatthu rupa is the heart situated in the middle of the thorax where blood circulation initiates. The majority of cittas (consciousness) have their origin in this rupa.


We translate hadaya as “heart” but it is not the cardiac organ defined in anatomy.

Vitality Of Matter (Jivita Rupa)

Just as cittas (consciousness) have vital force citta jivita (a cetasika called Jivtindriya), so also rupa has material jivita (vital force). This vital force is not found in the rupa forms caused by citta, climate and nutrition, because it is the rupa caused by kamma only. All living beings continue to survive because of Nama jivata (vitality of consciousness) and rupa jivita (vitality of matter). These two are the prime factors of survival. Without these, a being dies. Jivita keeps the body living and fresh. The absence of jivita in the rupa of a corpse makes it rot and decay. Juvita rupa is distributed evenly all over the body.

Essence Of Nutrition

In cooked rice there is oja (nutritious essence). In the same way we have oja (the nutritive essence) in our bodies. Tastes such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, hot and so on are known as rasa rammana. Oja or ahara is the essence of these tastes. It pervades the whole body and sustains growth.

Intra-Atomic Space (Akasa Dhatu)

Akasa dhatu means space. Rupa (matter) cannot exist in single units. They generally exist as aggregate of eight or nine units. Such as aggregate is called a kalapa. Two adjacent fingers can be kept together; yet there is a space dividing them. Our bodies are filled with tiny kalapas, but still there is space in between them. This space is known as akasa dhatu. It is not discernible matter. It is a pannati (conventional), which becomes prominent only when two units of rupa are conduction.

How A Kalapa Is Formed

A group of people association is called a club. In Pali kalapa also means a group. As said before rupa (matter) cannot exist in isolation. Appropriate units of matter combine to exist as a group or an aggregate. Such a group with common properties, existing together, disappearing together, is termed 'one kalapa'.

Matter In Combination

The four fundamental elements - pathavi, tejo and apo - together with vanna (appearance), ghanda (scent), rasa (taste), oja (essence of nutrition) are the eight classes of matter found always in coexistence. A lump of soil is an aggregate of eight classes of matter too. It has a certain appearance and a specific smell and taste; it can be touched and felt. The same is true for water, wind, fire, heat, light etc. They are all aggregates of the eight classes of matter.

The Size Of A Kalapa

Each kalapa is so minute that you cannot see it with your naked eye. Even the finest dust particle is an aggregate of a large number of kalapas. A bacterium, which can only be seen with the most powerful microscope is composed of countless kalapas formed by kamma, citta, utu and chara. Therefore the minuteness of a kalapa is beyond description. (Reference may be made to text on Abhidhamma for classes of kalapas and their names).

The Four Causes And Conditions

Let us delve further into the nature of the four dhatus and how rupa is caused by kamma, citta, utu and ahara. Let us think of an earthen doll. Dust or soil particles do not make a doll because the particles will not cohere but be blown away. So we add some water; still the doll does not take shape. The doll must then be baked in the sun. This is an example of how an earthen doll is molded by a craftsman with the help of dust, water, wind and sun.

How Kamma Takes Effect

As in the above example, pathavi dhatu alone cannot cause the body to be formed. Apo dampens the pathavi and tejo dhatu removes the excess humidity; vayo presses and holds them together. The aggregate of four elements acquire physical properties such as appearance, smell, taste and nutritious essence. Then the systematic combination of the kalapas thus formed takes the form of human beings as directed by past kamma.

Kamma determines the sex and basic traits of the human being in conformity with the deeds done in the past. Some may become peta, animal, etc. for their evils. Kusala and akusala kamma manages to form beautiful or ugly beings correspondingly. Evil kamma makes one an animal but certain good kamma make the animal a lovely one. Conversely good kamma makes one a human but evil kamma makes him ugly and deplorable. In this way your life from fetus to death is managed by past and present actions good or bad. Rupa caused by kamma is called kammaja rupa.

How Citta Conditions Rupa

Citta (mind) plays a part in conditioning the rupa caused by kamma. The rupa (body) has to follow the will of the mind. Citta commands the body to sit, sleep, stand or move. When the will to moves arises, cittaja rupa pervades the entire body. Vayo dhatu is dominant in cittaja rupa i.e. it is more active than usual. So the body becomes alert.

The number of kalapas dominated by vayo dhatu increase gradually, causing the body to move according to the dictates of mind. Bodily movements are similar to those of the pictures in motion picture. One frame shows a man standing; the next shows the arising of one leg; then the putting down of that leg and so on. The quick movement of hundreds of frames is seen as a man walking.

In like manner, when a man takes a walk, the process beings with the volition of the mind. The vaya dhatu is the first rupa becomes alert. The second rupa comes into being not in the original position but somewhere closely adjacent. The next, and the next rupa appear and disappear in adjacent position in rapid succession. As millions of such processes happen within the wink of an eye this is seen as a man-walking step after step.

There is a saying, “Young at heart, youthful looks”. When one is in happy mood, the cittaja rupas are cheerful. When in amiable conversation, one's facial expression is that of gaiety. When one is despair the rupa becomes correspondingly downcast. When a quarrelsome conversation the facial expression portrays wrath.

When a house catches fire, the flames spread to the houses nearby. Similarly, when sittaja rupa is in agony, the rupas also suffer from equal agony, the rupas in conjunction namely kammaja, utaja and aharaja rupas also suffer from equal agony. So when a person is very dejected his features look very aged; when the anguish is extreme he dies broken-hearted. To sum up, the citta (mind) conditions your body from the very beginning of pregnancy.

Effect Of Climate

Climate also effects rupa. Under pleasant climate conditions the inhabitants are cheerful and healthy. Wearing clean cloths and sleeping in clean bed cause clean utuja rupas to increase; hence the body becomes healthy and jovial. Therefore cleanliness is the key to good health. The converse is also true. Wearing dirty cloths, sleeping in dirty beds cause filth utuja rupas to increase, hence ill healthy. In rainy season, the favorable climate causes vegetation to thrive. In dry, hot weather, vegetation wilts and withers. In the same way utu conditions the body since pregnancy. Changes in vegetation are indicators of climatic conditions. We should be aware of how ujuta rupa changes with climatic conditions.

The Influence Of Nutrition

There is oja (nutritious essence) in all food you eat, even in water. If you take nutritious food and appropriate medicine you will lead a long, healthy life. Unsuitable food and medicine bring ill health. The correct choice of food and medicine is obviously conducive to good health.

In a mother's womb the fetus receives the food the mother eats. Thus it develops gradually into a body. Therefore every mother desirous of the infant's health must avoid unsuitable food that will harm her pregnancy. The baby in the womb absorbs nutrition from the food eaten by the mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing this expecting mother must be careful with their diet.

This is some useful advice for the expectant mother. Eat nutritious food; avoid abrupt and awkward movements; check up the pregnancy with a doctor; eat and sleep regularly. Only with such care, a healthy mother can bear healthy children. It is the duty of every mother to be careful with her diet since her early days of pregnancy.


Here end the chapter on rupa. For the good deed of writing this chapter, may all readers perform good deeds conducive to good health and physical fitness in this life while on the way to Nibbāna! May your close friends be fit and healthy so that they may do meritorious needs and fulfill parami perfections until the day they attain Nibbāna, the supreme bliss.

[Here Ends The Explanation Of Rupa]

Chapter Eleven

Planes Of Existence

The abodes of living beings are known as bhumi. There are 31 Bhumis (planes of existence) - four woeful planes, seven sensuous blissful planes and twenty Brahma planes.

The four woeful planes are Niraya (hell), animal kingdom, Peta (hungry ghosts) and Asura kaya (demons). The seven sensuous blissful planes are the human world and six celestial planes, namely - Catumaharaja (the realm of the Four Kings), Tavatimsa (the realm of the Thirty-three gods. Yama (the realm of Yama gods), Tushita (the delightful realm), Nimmanarati (the realm of gods enjoying their own creation) and Paranimmitavassavati (the realm of gods lording over the creation of others). In twenty Brahma abodes there are sixteen Rupa Brahma and four Arupa Brahma planes.

The Nature Of Hells (Niraya)

In the world every country has prisons or jails to confine offenders and criminals. In the same way there exist various types of hells for those who have committed unwholesome deeds. These hells are utuja rupa caused by utu and based on one's evil kamma. Hells differ in nature depending on the degree and severity of the evil deeds committed. The Lohakumbhi hell (the hell of hot molten metal) is situated below the earth's crust in close proximity to the human abode.

According to the texts, there are eight great hells or the planes of misery - Sanjiva, Kalasutta, Sanghata, Roruva, Maharoruva, Tapana, Maha Tapana and Avici. In each great hell there are five minor hells - excrete hell, hot sties hell, hell of Boombax trees, hell of sword-like leaves and hell of molten iron. These five minors hells surrounding each great hell are collectively called Ussada Niraya (small hells).

Yama, the King of Hell

Yama, the king of hell belongs to the abode of Catumaharaja and is known as the Vemanika Peta. He sometimes enjoys pleasure of Deva and sometimes suffers the woes of a peta (hungry ghost) because of his past deeds. There are many Yamas who preside over the trial of sinners in their offices situated at the four gates of hell. Their duties are like the judges of the human world. Not all those who arrive at the gates are subject to trail.

Those who had done grave unwholesome kamma deeds, which are quite evident, are at once sentenced to deserving hells directly. Those with minor akusala kamma are granted the right to appeal for pardon to the Yamas. The trails conducted are not meant to incriminate but to condone minor evil deeds. They officiate as appellate. Yama, the king of hell is just and impartial monarch, as mentioned in the Deva Duta Sutta , Uparipannasa Pali.

The Wardens of Hell

These hell wardens also belong to the class of Catumaharaja Deva. They are either ogres or demons. Their regular duties include sending minor sinners to Yama for trail and carrying out cruel punishments to serious sinners. Since hellfire is a form of utuja rupa caused by evil deeds, only the sinners and not the hell wardens are scorched by the heat.

A Trail Chaired by Yama

The following is a brief account of a trail conducted by Yama; this episode is taken from Deva Duta Sutta. Whenever a sinner is brought before Yama, he always asks them about the five divine messengers (Panca Deva Duta) - an infant, an aged, an inform, a dead person and a prisoner.

Yama: Sinner, while you are a human being did you not see new born baby wallowing helplessly in his or her own excreta?

Sinner: I did, Your Honor.

Yama: If so did it ever occur in your thoughts: “I will be reborn like this helpless baby wallowing in excreta and urine in many future lives. I cannot escape rebirths. It is high time I control my thoughts, words, and deeds so as not to suffer again like this infant”. Sinner: Your Honor, I was not at all mindful and thus had no interest in doing wholesome deeds.

Yama: Unwholesome deeds are done by yourself, not by your relatives, parents and friends. Since you are guilty of living thoughtlessly, you must now pay for your evil deeds as is the custom.

Yama: (Repeated the same questions four times, regarding the aged, the inform, the dead and the prisoner. If after the fifth question, the sinner does not recall any of his past good deeds, Yama himself tried to recall if the sinner in front of him had ever shared the merits gained with him. If the sinner himself recalled such as incident, or if Yama had witnessed some meritorious deeds done by the sinner, he is at once pardoned and sent to a celestial abode. Such instances are numerous. Only when it was evident that the sinner had no merits to his credit, Yama kept silent, then only would hell-wardens come and drag away the sinner to torture in a deserving hell. Remember the power of good deeds; it will help you out of difficult positions.)

a. Sanjiva Hell

Sanjiva means the hell in which the sinners are reborn again and again. In this hell, the wardens shared the sinners' bodies and limbs; the sinners, instead of drying there and then are reborn to suffer more because their evil kamma still continues to take effect. They have to suffer the dreadful agony repeatedly. The terror of this hell clearly proved the evil results of bad kamma (akusala) are really horrible.

b. Kalasutta Hell

Kalasutta means the measuring string (tape) used by carpenters. In this hell, the wardens chase the fleeing sinners, and when they are caught their bodies are marked off using measuring tapes. Then the wardens hack their bodies according to the markings. Sinners had to go through this torture many times till their evil kamma is exhausted.

c. Samghata Hell

Samghata hell is where sinners are crushed to death over and over again. Big iron rollers crush sinners who are planted waist-deep into burning iron sheets nine yojanas thick. The big iron rollers come from four directions and crush them, back and forth. They suffer this repeatedly till their bad kammas are exhausted.

d. Roruva Hell

Roruva is the hell of wailing sinners. Hell-fires burn furiously and enter the sinners' bodies from the nine openings. The sinners suffer from intense agony and wail loudly. This is also known as jala roruva.

e. Maha Roruva Hell

This hell is completely engulfed in very thick smoke. Sinners suffer the agony as described in Roruva, except that hell-fire is replaced with hell-smoke. This hell is known as Dhuma Roruva Niraya, the hell of smoke.

f. Tapana Hell

Tapana is the incinerating hell. Here sinners are pierced with burning red-hot iron stakes the size of a palm tree.

g. Maha Tapana Hell

This is the greater incinerating hell. It is also called Patapana. Hell wardens drive the sinners up to the top of a burning iron hill. Then they are pushed downhill by a vigorous storm only to fall onto iron stakes planted at the foot of the hill.

h. Avici Hell

Avici is the hell with no space to spare. Hell-fires burn intensely all over with no room between flames. Sinners are packed in this hell like mustard seeds in a bamboo cylinder. There also is no empty space between sinners. Suffering and agony is ceaseless, with no interval in between. Since the hell is over flowing with fire, sinners and agony, it is given the name Avici (A = no; vici = space).

The Agony of Hell

Existence in the eight great hells (as above) and minor hells are limitless and horrid agony. The Lohakumbhi hell where the four rich lads who committed adultery had to suffer is situated beneath the earth's crust, near Rajagaha. The hot water river Topada originates somewhere in between two Lohakumbhi hells (the hell of hot molten metal). The agonies suffered in hell are too horrid to be described in words.

The Buddha himself said, “Even if I describe the agonies of hell for many years, the descriptions will not be complete. The sufferings in hell are limitless and beyond exposition.”

An Advice

After thinking about the melancholic sufferings in hell, one should cultivate good kamma. It is no use to feel remorse over deeds already done; it is time now to control oneself not to do any more evil deeds. In the past when a young Bhikkhu had listened to Deva Duta Sutta, he asked his teacher not to teach him anymore scriptures but to show him the proper way to practice kammatthana. He practiced kammatthana diligently and became an Arahat. Only then did he continue his academic studies. Countless beings have attained Arahatship by practicing kammatthana after listening to this Sutta. And all previous Buddhas have preached on this Sutta. [Refer to Ratana Gonyi for a brief account on animals, petas and asurakayas].

How The World Came To An End

All things must come to an end one day. This is the impermanent nature of everything, anicca. So also the world, the habitat of sentient beings must one day face destruction and oblivion. The world may end in fire, water or wind. If the world end in the fire, two suns appear, one during the day and the other during the night. Water streams and creeks dry up under the heat. When the third sun arises rivers dry up. With the appearance of the fourth sun, the seven great lakes in the vicinity of Himavanta evaporates completely. The fifth sun dries up the ocean; the sixth removes all remaining traces of moistures and humidity.

When the seventh sun comes up one hundred thousand worlds are incinerated. Enormous flames rise up to the plane of First Jhana Brahmas, burning all mountains including Himavanta, Meru, etc. and the jewel mansions located at those mountaintops. Everything is burnt to ashes. Only then the death of the world is completed. (Visualize for yourself how the world would end by water or by wind).

When and How Long

These destruction period last for a very long time. When the age limit of the human arise from 10-year span to asankheyeyya, infinity and again diminished to 10 years, this duration is called antara kappa (World cycle between). The burning of the world lasts such 64 immediate kappas. Then the world stays in this ruined state, just like a house burned down by fire, for another such 64 kappas.

Beings Take Refuge in Brahma Loka

During the destruction of the world, all living beings become Brahmas and dwell in Brahma which is not affected by the fire. One hundred thousand years prior to the end of the world, Devas who foresee the doom announced the coming obliteration. All beings on hearing this warning get rid of their reckless way of life and practiced meritorious deeds. Due to their good kamma all beings achieve jhana and become Brahmas. Therefore all beings except those who profess wrong views (niyata miccha ditthi) reach Brahma loka at least once.


Those with niyama miccha ditthi, if their terms in hell are outstanding, here to transfer to other hell universe to continue suffering.

How The World Is Created

After the destruction of the world, when the time is ripe, world creation rain starts to fall. First it drizzles, gradually increasing in intensity till the raindrops are as large as houses of hills. The entire world is flooded up to the Brahma loka. When after many years the flood recedes, the burnt higher celestial abodes are rehabilitated. When the water level reaches the human abode, mountain, hills, valleys, rivers, creeks and plains begin to take shape. The creamy upper crust slowly hardens and becomes solid earth and rock. The earth's mass so formed in two hundred and forty thousands yojanas thick. The mass of water in which the earth's mass floats if four hundred and eighty yojanas in depth. The water is extremely cold and the mass resembles endless ocean of ice. This immense mass of water can easily support the landmass, which is only half its depth. This mass of water is again supported on n atmospheric-mass nine hundred and sixty yojanas deep. Below this air mass is limitless space of void.

There are countless world systems complete with masses of land, water and air, human, Deva and Brahma loka. These world systems are identical to ours in constitution. These countless world-systems together form the infinite universe (Ananta Cakavala). One hundred thousand similar universes face the same fate, the same end and the same rehabilitation simultaneously. One Universe is separated from another by a universal rock mountain, which serves as a dividing wall.

The Lokantarika Hell

When three universes meet, there is space where Lokantarika hell exists, where neither sunray nor moonbeam can reach. Complete darkness reigns there. Those who insulted and ridiculed noble and virtuous persons become petas or asura-kayas and suffer from hunger in this hell. They cling to the walls of the universe in complete darkness. They mistake the other sinner to be some food, and try to bite each other. On doing so, they fall down into the icy water and perish.

Mount Meru

In the center of the universe there stands Mount Meru one hundred and sixty thousand yojanas high. Half of it is submerged in the ocean, and only the upper half is visible. Sida, the icy river, flows around it. Beyond Sida and stands Mount Yugandhara, hay as high as Mount Meru. Another Sida winds this mount; again beyond this river is Mount Issandhara. In like manner, seven mountains and seven Sidas stand in conjunction.

Great and Small Islands

Beyond the mountains, the vast ocean extends to the wall of the universe. In the middle of this great ocean are big and small island. Those to the east of Mount Meru are called the Eastern Continent. In the same way there are the Southern, the Western and the Northern Continents in the respective cardinal directions.

Deva and Brahma Planes

At the top of Mount Yugandhara, which is situated in the middle of Mount Meru is the plane of Catumaharaja Devas. The sun, stars and planets are the mansions in this celestial plan say the texts. At the top of Mount Meru, is Tavatimsa where Sakka, King of the Deva, dwells in the City of Sudassana. The four higher Deva planes Yama, Tushita, Nimmanarati and Paranimmita vasavatti belong to the heavenly world, independent of he firmament. All Brahma planes are also situated up in heaven. (For further details reference may made to our treatise “Sangha Bhasa Tika”).

How Human Beings Came Into Existence

After the formation of human, Deva and Brahma abodes, some Brahmas came to their end of their celestial terms. Some are reborn in lower Brahma worlds, some in the abode of Devas and some in the human world. Those reborn as first humans had no parents. Due to the power of kamma they are reborn instantly as grown ups in the fashion of Devas. The early humans are sexless; they have neither male nor female organs. They can survive without nutrition. There is neither sun nor moon; they dwell in the light of their own body radiance. They can fly in space like the Brahmas they have been.

Partaking of Topsoil

While these human beings were flying about space, they happened to discover the creamy topsoil that covered the ground. A curious one, attracted by the cream-like appearance, tried the taste of the topsoil. Being the essence of the earth, this topsoil proved delicious and so humans one after another came and helped themselves in mouthfuls. Due to their lust and greed in craving for the delicious topsoil, they all lost their radiance. The whole world was then encompassed in sheer darkness.

How the Sun and Moon Appear

As the early human beings lived in fear in the darkness, due to their remaining good kamma, the Suriya, meaning 'courage,' which it gave them (sun) rose from the east. The sun measures fifty yojanas in circumference and its rays gave courage to mankind. When the sunset, darkness again pervaded, and the human again wished for another source of light. In accord with their ardent wish the moon, forty-nine yojanas in circumference, appeared in the sky. Since the moon appeared to satisfy the wishes of the inhabitants of the earth, they call it Chanda from which, the name Canda is derived. Together with Canda (the moon) stars and planets also appeared. This appearance of heavenly bodies coincided with the full waning of the month of Tabaung, phagguna according to the calendar of Majhimadesa. Therefore people still that the first moon of this world cycle waxes on the first day of Tagu, citta.

How People Discovered Rice

Primitive man lived on tasty topsoil (earth-essence). Due to their lust for delicious taste, which is akusala, the topsoil gradually got thinner and thinner. Finally the topsoil disintegrated and rolled up into small stalks called Nwecho (sweet stalk). When these stalks were exhausted husk less paddy came into being. These grains, when put in pots and placed over a slab of rock called joti pasana are automatically cooked by the heat of the slab, which cooled sown when cooking was done.

Male and Female

Primitive people could digest all they ate because their staple was only earth essence. All they ate became flesh and sinew. Nothing was left over. But when they had to change their diet to rice, their bodily organism cannot digest all they consume. Undigested matter remained in the bowels. Primitive humans had no openings in their bodies meant for excretion. Yet the vayo element in the body cavity exerted pressure on the excrete within. So body openings such as rectum and urethra had to develop in the human being. This was followed by the development of bhavarupas the process means of which masculinity and femininity are determined. Some became men and some women in conformity with their sexual status before they reached the Brahma realms.


Men and women were lured into sexual acts as they developed mutual lust for each other's physique. The wise forebode sexual intercourse as unwholesome and looked down upon them but the majority could not resist the sensual pleasure. Couples had to carry out the ignoble vile act in small edifices they had set up in fear of being ridiculed and stoned. (At present in some places this custom of throwing stones at the newly wed couple's house continues). In this way human settlements began to take shape. Later on beings with bad kamma were reborn as animals, making the world complete.

Abodes Of Devas

We have studied the processes of world-system, the nature of beings in the Niraya (hell), etc. The sufferings and joys of mankind are known to all and it needs no explanation. Here the luxuries of celestial beings in the divine mansions will be described briefly, according to Texts.

The Celestial Mansions

The luxuries enjoyed by Devas are far superior to our human pleasures, just as the mass of the ocean is incomparable to a droplet of mist on a blade of grass. In the plane of Tavatimsa is the City of Sudassana sprawling at the top of Mount Meru. The city itself is ten thousand yojanas in extent. The Garden of Nandavan located to the east of the city is so beautiful a park that even dying Devas forget their grief when they enter it. The sight of graceful couples of Devas and Devis strolling about among the verdant foliage and flowering plants also adds to the unique beauty of the park. In the middle of the park, there are two lakes - Mahananda and Culananda; the crystal waters are indeed a sight to look at, especially from the jeweled seats placed around the lakes. There are similar lakes in the other three cardinal directions of the city.

Devas and Devis

The jeweled mansions where devas reside are created by their own good kamma. All devas look as if they are 20 years old, and their Devis on their 16. They never age - they remain youthful and beautiful all their life. They eat only celestial food so their bodies produce no excreta. Devis are free from the travail of menstruation. (a) Mode of enjoying sensual pleasures is similar to the human but are free from filth. (b) Devis do not take pregnancy. ⓒ Offspring are born directly as grown ups and appear in their arms or on their couches. There also are servant Devas who own no mansions.

How Devas conduct courtship to Devis to win favor or affection is a matter for conjecture. Do they follow the human routines or devices? They were the case of lovelorn Deva, named Pancasikha who composed and sang love songs to the accompaniment of his divine harp. His songs were dedicated to the Devi Suriyavacchasa the beautiful daughter of Deva King Timbaru.

“Yam me atthi punnam, Arahantesu tadisu, tam me sabbangakalayani, tayasa ddhim vipaccatam”

“All alone by myself, I have accumulated much merit by observing precepts and making offerings to the most homage-worth Arahats, who are always pure, free of defilements. May these accumulated merit of mine come to fruition soon in the form of inseparable partnership for life with you my love, my beauteous queen.”

In spite of his intense adoration for her, Suriyavacchasa had an eye for Sikhanti, son of Deva Martali. So Sakka, the King of Devas because of his services intervened and arranged the marriage between her and Pancasikha.

Some Devis dwelling in their own mansion would feel lonely and long for a partner. Devas have different kusala kamma and so some are more beautiful than others; their mansions, too excel that of others. Naturally there will be inferior Devas who would harbor jealousy against those who endowed with more potent kamma.

All these divine abodes are full of carnal pleasures, and they are fully enjoyed by celestial beings. But those who achieve Arahatship and those who achieve Anagami Magga being wearies of sensual pleasures cannot stay long in Deva loka. The Anagami die in order to be reborn as Brahmas. The Arahats enter parinibbāna.

Therefore we cannot hope to become a yogi and meditate in the abode of Devas, where divine sensual pleasures engulf us. Only those Devas who had very diligently practiced meditation in the previous human existence, or only those who are opportune to hear the Dhamma of the Buddha in person, can improve and augment their virtue in the Deva abode. Other Devas are inclined to forget the Dhamma as soon as they enter the gates of Nandavan Garden.

In Deva loka, let alone vipassana meditation, even the observance of Sīla (precepts) is difficult to perform. The Devis would entice the Devas who soon tend to discard the precepts. Call to mind how Campeya, the King of Serpents, failed to observe precepts in the serpent abodes; and how Sakka had to alight to the human world in order to observe Uposatha Sīla. Because of these unfavorable environments, all Bodhisattvas perform their ten parami fulfillments in the human world only. They do not live to their full-term in Deva-loka, instead deliberately terminate their life span to be reborn as human beings and practice parami perfections.

There is, however, a small hope for those virtuous Devas who wish to perform meritorious deed in Deva loka. There is the Culamani Pagoda for worship. There also is the Sudhamma Lecture Hall. The Culamani Ceti enshrines Bodhisattva’s hair and the left upper tooth of Buddha Gotama. It is built of solid emerald one yojana high. Couples of Devas who have strong faith in the Buddha come to this pagoda with clear goodwill and offer flowers and other offertories; they devote their efforts to fulfill perfections rather than to enjoy sensual pleasures in the celestial gardens.

The Dhamma preaching hall, known as Sudhamma, is beyond description in grandeur and splendor. The whole edifice is studded with glittering jewels. The aroma of the Pinle kathit tree growing nearby and in full bloom pervades the whole building. In the center of the hall is the preaching throne covered by a white umbrella. On one side of this Dhamma throne are seats for thirty senior Devas such as Pajapati, Varuna and Isana. (Comrades of good deeds of Magha youth). Next come the seats for other Devas in order of their power and merit. Such Sudhamma Halls exists also in the four higher Deva planes.

At the time for Dhamma meeting Sakka blows the Vijayutta couch-shell, the sound of which reverberates all over the city. The sound lasts four months in human terms. When the congregation is seated, the whole edifice glows with the radiance of the Devas. Sometimes Sanankumara Brahma comes down and delivers discourses. Sometimes Sakka himself preaches a sermon; or he gives the floor to another eloquent Deva. Therefore there is chanda for performing wholesome deeds like paying homage to the Culamani Pagoda or listening to the Dhamma discourses in the celestial realms. But these deeds cannot be expected to propel one to the extent of achieving Magga and Phala. They also serve to sustain virtuous consciousness and reduce the enjoying of the pleasures of celestial world.

In the forthcoming age of decline, there is no hope for monk and laity to be fully imbued with Dhamma. Even the present age is no more decent. If we really dread the impending sufferings in samsara, we all should commence our efforts this very day so that we might attain Magga and Phala as soon as possible. Those who hope to meet the Buddha Metteyya in person and listen to his teachings to gain enlightenment in the Deva world will have a slim chance to do so. No sooner had they entered the gate of Nandavan Garden, then they will tend to forget what they have already accumulated. Even if they are fortunate enough to meet the next Buddha in person, they are very much likely to be entered in sensual pleasures.

So apart from Bodhisattvas who are determined to save sentient beings, and apart from Chief Disciples-to-be, each and everyone ought to start endeavoring of liberation right away. Our preceptor abbot taught us thus, “In difficult times, never fear nor repent on the past. Endeavor now, practice bhāvanā meditation and prepare for the future lives.”

How Sakka Forgot the Dhamma

Sakka, the King of Devas and a Sotāpanna Ariya, once visited the celestial garden, riding on his elephant Eravana. At the gate he suddenly remembered a question he had planned to ask the Buddha. The problem was what was the path taken by an Arahat to realize Nibbāna, the cessation of all craving. He was well aware that in the midst of the Garden Festival he would forget his noble plan so he decided to visit the Buddha. He left his elephant and retinue at the garden gate and vanished from there to appear in the human world.

When he arrived at the Pubbaramana Monastery where the Buddha was preaching the Dhamma, he asked, “Exalted Buddha, how does an Arahat overcome his lust, greed and attachment to attain Nibbāna, which is the cessation of craving?” he requested a brief answer so that he could return to divine Garden Festival in time.

Therefore the Buddha replied briefly: “O Sakka, A monk who is about to become an Arahat listens to the discourse which says, “Do not regard anything as your own. He tries to understand the nature of the five khandas. He then sees everything as sufferings. He views all vedana (feelings) as anicca (impermanence). In this way he gets rid of all tanha (craving) and attains Nibbāna.”

This, in short, was the Buddha's reply to Sakka. He was very pleased with the discourse, proclaiming: “Well done!” (Sadhu!) Three times and returned to his celestial residence. The Venerable Moggallana heard this proclamation from inside the chamber. He wished to know if Sakka really comprehended the discourse or not, so he followed suit to Tavatimsa to find out.

When the Sakka arrived at the celestial garden, he also joined the Devas in the merriment and being enchanted by the pleasures he forgot the Dhamma he had just learnt. When he saw the Venerable Moggallana he was embarrassed. But he greeted the Venerable with due respect and paid obeisance.

The Venerable Moggallana asked Sakka about the Dhamma he had just learnt from the Buddha. However, hard he tried, Sakka was unable to recall anything at all because he was so entranced in sensual pleasures. He gave the lame excuse that he had forgotten the discourse as he was very much occupied with the affairs of Deva loka (see Cula Tanha Sankhaya Sutta of the Mula Pannasa).

Food for Thought

This discourse shows us how objects of sensual pleasures of the Deva world can make us become oblivious of the noble Dhamma. Even Sakka, a Sotāpanna Ariya with great intelligence and vigilance, cannot resist such arammanas, which deaden the conscious mind. He himself asked the Buddha a question; he himself listened and reply, and yet he could not recall the discourses in a matter of minutes. Such are the influences of the sensual pleasures he experiences in the celestial garden. Therefore the following lessons should be noted:

  • 1. Those who are virtuous and know that they are virtuous are very much likely to be reborn in higher abodes, namely human and Deva worlds, nowhere else. One cannot be a Brahma until achievement of jhana; and one cannot enter parinibbāna until one becomes an Arahat. Even is one becomes a Deva; bare in mind that ariya persons like the Sakka are also liable to be forgetful of the Dhamma. If so, we are no exception. We may also forget whatever Dhamma we have accumulated.
  • 2. Celestial beings generally spend their time enjoying the sensual pleasures of the Deva world and tend to disregard the Dhamma. If they pass away while craving for luxury, they are sure to be reborn in the four Apayas. Once, five hundred Devis passed away while singing and picking flowers in the garden. All of them are reborn in Avici hell.
  • 3. To be reborn again as human is also no comfort. To be virtuous person in a worthy fashion
    • (a) one must be born in a period when the sasana flourishes,
    • (b) majority of the people are righteous,
    • ⓒ one's parents and teachers are virtuous,
    • (d) one must be born not to a wretched poverty but to a sufficiently well-to-do family. Only if these essential conditions are fulfilled will it be worth to be reborn as human being.
  • 4. Considering the state of the sasana, we find virtuous persons are very rare to find these days. Sensual pleasures are abound; most people pursue vain pride and wealth; charity is done more for fame than for merit; reverence of the Sangha is contaminated with false pride and propaganda. Corruption is rampant even at the very top.
  • 5. Devotees and supporters of the sasana do not send their children to the monasteries, so monastic education is fading out gradually. There are no more lay students in the most monasteries; without them how can there be samaneras (novices)? Without samaneras how can there be Bhikkhus well versed in the texts? If such situation prevails there soon would be no qualified abbots to preside over the monasteries. Most Bhikkhus would be ex-family men who renounced world life only at a ripe age and therefore nor versed in doctrines and disciplinary rules.
  • 6. The supporters of the sasana mostly send their children to modern schools where the sole purpose of education is vocational training. But such education is for the benefit for this life only. Such education does not provide the knowledge of Magga, Phala and Nibbāna. The products of such schools do not comprehend the effects of kamma. Hence it is unlikely for them to believe in the higher abodes or the lower woeful abodes. Such people with wrong views will surely not care to offer alms food, let alone the four requisites, to the Sangha.
  • 7. In future the younger generation will no more be fortunate enough to inherit wealth from their parents. Nowadays parents have to struggle hard even to afford education for their children. Novel commodities in the form of diverse consumer goods are abound in the markets. When children grow up and earn their living, it will be difficult for them to make both ends meet. Or they may have to resort to illegal means of acquiring wealth. In such hard times, how could people support the sasana?
  • 8. Bhikkhu do not at all attempt to modify the old monastic system to keep pace with the time. They are responsible for giving basic education as well as ethical teaching. Conditions are now favorable, yet some monastic schools do not devise their plans on modern lines. They cannot attract the interest of today's parents. Persons with modern education look down upon the system of monastic schools. So will they have the goodwill to support the sasana? On reflection we will find that the decline of the sasana is approaching.
  • 9. In future the majority will not be virtuous person endowed with morality. The age of righteous person is the time when mettā, karuna and Mudita flourish. Today loving-kindness is a rarity. Without loving-kindness there could be no compassion for the poor and no sympathetic joy for the wealthy. Today the world is full of envy, jealousy, hatred, pride and greed. Both strata, the high and the low, are cultivating vain pride in the different manner, conceit by the elite, hurt, pride or contempt by the downtrodden.
  • 10. Everyday we find novel commodities and sources of pleasures everywhere; and so greed gains momentum, just like adding fuel to fire. Greed when it cannot be satisfied leads to intense hatred; and further on to atrocities, murders and wars. If righteous people are rare these days, what will be the future like?
  • 11. With righteous people getting rarer and rarer in future there will be few good parents and teachers. In the midst of the immoral society, future generation will find difficulty to be righteous without the moral guidance of parents and teachers. It is not easy then to go to Deva loka, to enjoy sensual pleasure there. Not it is easy to be reborn in the human world where akusala (unwholesome deeds) are burgeoning.
  • 12. I would like to relate my experience at the Yangon railway station in 1957. I came to Yangon to attend the consecration a shrine. On my return a Bhikkhu friend from Yangon saw me off at the station. While we were waiting for the train, we saw people rushing, pushing violently fighting for seats on the trains as it was shunted into the station. I was made to understand that it was a daily scene.
  • 13. I began to reason like this. The train journey will last two days at the most. Lest they do not get good seats, some push and elbow violently for a good seat. Some pay extra money to have a reserved seat; on the train they scout for trustworthy companions; some feel unhappy if their seats are not to their liking; some are overcome by anxiety if their neighbors look dishonest.
  • 14. If people can take such toil for a journey of just two days, why can't they exert enough effort for the long, long journey, passing through many existences to arrive at Nibbāna? Why can't the endeavor to get good places, to find the right companions to accompany them on this long journey? If, by chance they be reborn in the four Apayas, they will suffer life long and akusala will be on the increase life after life; they will never get good seats in the long journey through samsara.

Even when they become human beings they will be poor, needy and destitute. To avoid such catastrophes they should try really hard to be reborn in happy abodes. If they can try hard enough to get seats for a two-say railway journey, why can't they do so for a life-long journey. They are so short sighted, and lack of intelligence. I began to feel pity for their stupidity; and I told my companion Bhikkhu of my thoughts.

  • 15. Readers of this book should consider these facts seriously and try to comprehend the unique Dhamma as much as one could manage. If you have already accumulated some parami perfections in many past existences, you should continue your efforts in the line of minimizing evil deeds and consolidating your parami such as Dana and Sīla. Only then you will be a virtuous Deva in the Deva world; or a virtuous human in the human world. Like Bodhisattvas who practice parami perfections even in the dark ages void of sasana, you should try to fulfill your parami perfections as much as possible so as to gain habits and maturity in the performance of wholesome deeds.

The Pleasure Of Brahmas

Brahmas are very peaceful beings; they enjoy the tranquility of jhana kusala they had performed previously to gain the Brahma realm. They are reborn as Brahmas only after attaining jhana; and for this they had to meditate in solitude in quite places away from the crowded cities, villages, monasteries, remote from the throngs of society and the worldly sensual pleasures. Brahmas have no spouses, no children. They have no sexual features so they do not enjoy the pleasures of kamma guna. They had clearly seen the faults of sensual pleasures even during their meditation period as human being. So they live a very pure life, free from all thoughts of sensual pleasures.

In their divine places and gardens, all Brahmas live in serenity, in saintliness. Some enjoy their jhana bliss while some develop mettā bhāvanā radiating waves of loving-kindness. Like in the human world there are different grades of Brahmas. There are Brahma kings, Brahma purohita (advisors or counselors) and lower grade of Brahmas who form the retinue in attendance to the king. Lower Brahmas cannot see the Brahma king without his consent.

1. Asannasatta Brahmas

Asannasatta Brahmas are those divine beings without any consciousness or mind. As human beings they discover the faults of citta (mind) and sañña (memory). They see that all forms of greed arises because of citta, they also see that life would be so peaceful had there been no citta. While concentrating on the fault of consciousness, “Citta is loathsome. Citta is loathsome”, they develop a kammatthana called sannaviraga bhāvanā - disgust for sañña.

When they die they are reborn as Brahmas, in the Asannasatta Brahma realms and live like golden statues, standing, sitting or reclining without consciousness. Their life span is 500 kappa’s long.

2. Arupa Brahmas

Arupa Brahmas have no rupa; they have consciousness only. In the human world they worked for attainment of jhana; after that they concentrate on the faults of rupa; they see that the rupa is the seat of suffering. Then they develop rupa viraga bhāvanā - disgust for rupa. When they die they become Arupa Brahmas, beings without material form in the open space called Arupa Brahma realm. They live as continuous of consciousness high in the heavens for many kappa’s.


Non-Buddhists will find it hard to believe in these two types of Brahmas.

From Brahma to Hog

Of the Brahmas born in the Brahma realm, the Ariya Brahmas (who have achieved Magga and Phala) will not go downwards to the lower realms. They soar higher, become Arahats and realized Nibbāna. But for Brahmas, who not yet Ariyas, they will have to descend to either Deva or human abode at the exhaustion of their jhana power. But they will not fall directly into the woeful planes. Due to their past kusala they become Devas or humans of dvihetuka or tihetuka category in the next life. From these planes they, according to their own actions, may fall into the four Apaya existences and become animals, petas or sinners in hell.

In the cycle of samsara, ordinary worldly beings puthujana persons, although they reach the highest abode of Brahmas are liable to fall into bad, lower planes, such as animal kingdom. There is a saying, “Once a radiant Brahma; next a filthy hog.” Being a puthujjana is very dreadful state. From Bhavagga, the highest Brahmas realm, you might one day fall to the woeful planes. A rocket, missile or a projectile will soar skywards as long as there is propulsive energy; once the energy is spent, it must fall down again. So also sentient beings, at the exhaustion of their jhana power must return to the lower abodes.


Bhavagga is the highest of all planes of existence. It is also known as nevasana nasanabhumi.

What is Nibbāna?

It needs an entire treatise to explain Nibbāna in full. In this book I shall give only a few hints, since there is no room here for exposition of this important subject. Considering that it would be wiser to leave out this subject entirely than to treat it in a superficial matter. I had not touch upon it in the earlier editions. But in order to provide some knowledge of Nibbāna to the readers starting from this 20th edition, I shall give extracts from Thingyo Tika dealing with upasama nussati, contemplating on the peaceful bliss of Nibbāna.

Upasama Nussati

Upasama Nussati is meditation on Santisukha, blissful Tranquility of Nibbāna. People usually talk at random about Nibbāna. Some wrongly assert that Nibbāna is a special case of rupa and Nama (rupa visesa and nama visesa). Some are mistaken that Nibbāna is an eternal essence like a perpetual core, which remains at the cessation of Nama and rupa. Another wrong view is that Nibbāna means no bliss because there is nor rupa or Nama to feel any sensation at all. Just as a sense can only be understood by those who have actually experienced it, the true of Nibbāna can only be comprehended by Ariya persons who have actually realized the supreme bliss. The puthujjana persons cannot grasp in full the essence of Nibbāna with mere speculations. Nevertheless, I will try to the best of my ability to explain Nibbāna in the light of texts and in the lights of logical reason.

Nibbāna is one of the Supreme Ultimates - it is independent of the other three paramattha sacca, namely ultimate realities of citta, cetasika and rupa. Since it has nothing to do with rupa Nama sankhārā, it is not a special form of rupa and nama. Nibbāna is listed as Bhahida Dhamma, external Dhamma in the texts; so it is not eternal core within the body. Nor something that can feel vedana. It is not an object (arammana) like sight or sound because it cannot be felt. There is no vedayita sukha bliss in Nibbāna - there is only Santisukha. Let us elaborate. Vedayita sukha is enjoyment, which exhausts itself and had to be renewed. The oil of renewing far surpasses the enjoyment one gets out of it. If one is not yet satiated with such pleasure, there would be more toil and trouble, one might even end in the four Apaya worlds while in pursuit of such sensualities.

Santisukha is the peace enjoyed in Nibbāna. It has nothing to do with earthly pleasured. It is the peace attained by the cessation of rupa Nama sankhārā, the process of mind and matter. Let us suppose a very rich man sleep soundly. His servants prepare sensual pleasures for him and wake him up. He will surely scold his servants for having interrupted his peaceful sleep. He prefers carefree sleep to sensual pleasure. Some people exclaim, “How nice it is to sleep!” If we find sleep, which is void of any feeling peaceful, we can imagine the bliss of Santisukha, which is the end of rupa, and Nama.

Let us further consider the Anagamin Arahats. They deeply know the burdens of Nama rupa; in order to distance themselves from these burdensome Nama rupa as far as possible, they enter into the absorption of Nirodha Samapatti. During this Samapatti, Nama elements of citta and cetasika and some rupa elements cease to function with no new arising. No new elements are formed. This temporary cessation of Nama rupa process is sublime enjoyment of a great degree. Asannata Brahmas live in great peace for five hundred world cycles without feeling any sensation being devoid of Nama. Form this example you can appreciate the cessation of turmoil and excitements and visualize the bliss of Santisukha.

All Arupa Brahmas experience the divine joy with a pure consciousness without accompaniment of any rupa (matter). In the mind-continuum of the highest Arupa Brahma there is only a very small category of Nama that arises there. If they reach Arahat stage, they have only a limited number of cittas and cetasikas; one mana dvaravajjana citta, eight kriya cittas, one nevasannanasannayatana vipaka citta, one kriya citta, one Arahat Phala citta, a total of 12 cittas with associated mental factors. As these cittas appear one after another if those cittas cease, then all factors of life cease and Santisukha, the Nibbāna element manifest itself.

Santisukha, the bliss of Nibbāna, is not a single unique dhatu, which belongs to all beings. Each and every being can have his own Nibbāna.

Each Ariya person rejoices in Phala Samapatti, while concentrating on Nibbāna. They find supreme enjoyment in this Samapatti. All Ariyas, each one of the Theras and Theris, proclaim the highest happiness for having good riddance of rupa and Nama when they are about to enter parinibbāna. It is indeed a shame that we puthujjanas should be so attached to our mind and bodies.

“Sadevakassa lokassa, ete vo sukha sammatam
Yattha ce nirujjhanti, tan tesam dukkha sammatam.”

The whole world of putthajjhanas with men and Devas consider these objects of sensual pleasure as pleasant, blissful, happiness. Whereas Nibbāna, where all these sense objects such as forms, sounds, etc. cease, and which the Ariyas with Dhamma Insight esteem greatly, these worldly puthajjhanas regard as pure suffering because of lack of sensual objects.

“Sukham ditthamari yebhi, sakkayassa nirodhanam
Pacca nikamidam hoti, sabba lokena passatam.”

The Ariya, noble persons have perceived precisely with wisdom eyes Nibbāna, the Element of Bliss, where the five khandhas of Nama and rupa cease to exist. These noble persons who have personally witnessed, perceived the Nibbāna element which is beyond the ken of common worldlings, seem to be always running back to back in opposite direction to the whole world of putthajjhanas, a mass of craving beings who are covered by avijjha (Devadaha Vagga, Salayatana Samyutta Nikāya).


The Reader's Duty

I have done my part in writing this “Abhidhamma In Daily Life” dealing with Dhamma aspects, which the general reader should know, in their everyday relationship. Having gained useful knowledge from this treatise, it is the duty of the general reader to put the knowledge so gained into practical use by developing mindfulness, self-restraint and earnest endeavor.

Knowledge and Practice

Knowledge is not practice. Mere knowledge is useless. Books can offer knowledge but cannot practice for the reader. There are many who are literate, who have gathered much useful knowledge on the practice of Dhamma but very few uses, such knowledge to one's advantage. In the midst of majority of such people in the world, chances are slim to foster good, righteous mind.

For example, many deeds of Dana are performed nowadays not with view of accumulate parami merits but to keep in line with social trend of showing off, vaunting their success and wealth for all to see; people no longer follow the path of parami laid down by noble, virtuous ones. The social climbers, in deed, know their Dana will bear no good fruit or very little, but because of their strong craving for popular acclamation, social acceptance and recognition, they sink to the level of doing deeds that the ignorant people do even though they know they should not.

The Wily Tiger

Here is a story from Hitopadesa - to illustrate my point - a wily tiger was too old to catch his prey. One day he kept calling loudly, “Oh travelers! Come and take this gold bangle.” A traveler heard this call, so he approached the tiger and asked, “Where is the gold bangle?”

The old wily tiger showed the gold bangle in his paws. The traveler said he dared not come near him who used to be a man-eater.. Then the wily old tiger preached him a sermon as follows, “In my younger days I kill and eat human beings because I was not fortunate enough to listen to the Dhamma. As I grow older and lost my wife and children. I really felt samvega. At the time I happened to meet with a noble person who taught me to live a virtuous life making deeds of Dana. Since then I have been living a strictly righteous life. You have nothing to be afraid of. I am harmless. See, I don't even have claws and fangs. I have resolved to give this gold bangle to someone as charity, and you are the lucky one. Go bathe in the lake and come accept my gift.

Believing these persuasive words, the traveler did what he was told. When he stepped into the lake he sank into the swamp. Saying that he would help him, the tiger came and devoured the traveler.

This story from Hitopadesa gives us a moral lesson that mere knowledge is useless without morality. Educated and intelligent persons without morality endowed with cunning, charm and cleverness at deceiving can be more dangerous than the ignorant, because they possess the knowledge to succumb wicked deeds. I would like to advise the readers not to be contended with mere knowledge, but to practice what they have digested so that they may become really virtuous persons. Here I conclude wishing you all again a long life.

Versified epilogue rendered in simple prose:

To bring this treatise to a close, here are some pertinent remarks in brief: In this modern age, although there are Bhikkhus as well as laity with resolution to strive for attainment of Nibbāna, unless the mind is intrinsically pure, they will still be far away from the Sublime State they long for.

Therefore, beginning with myself, all my companions, close associates and generations to come, who wish to reach the blissful peace of Nibbāna realized by our Noble Predecessors, should study this treatise of Abhidhamma In Daily Life carefully, precisely, meticulously, and strive with full diligence accordingly so as to attain the supreme height, to become the great conqueror, the glorious victor.


en/lib/authors/janakabhivamsa/abhidhamma_in_daily_life.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/06 15:51 by Johann