ภาษาไทย
The Brahma Viharas
Ajahn Dtun
May 5, 2013
(These teachings by Tan Ajahn Dtun were part of a meditation retreat for laypeople held in Australia in  March 2005.)                                          


We  have  all  come  together  here  to  keep  precepts,  to  develop meditation and to cultivate wisdom in our hearts. This intention is  something  very  hard  to  find  in  the  minds  of  people  in  this present day. When we have mindfulness and wisdom, we can see the  harm  there  is  in  acting  in  unskillful  ways  and  doing  things which transgress the precepts. In keeping the five precepts, always maintaining them in one’s daily life, one will come to see the benefit of the precepts. Within the heart of each person there has to be a moral conscience, along with a fear and dread of the consequences of one’s unwholesome actions. The maintaining of the five precepts is  considered  as  being  a  quality  of  a  consummate  human  being. People  who  do  not  keep  the  five  precepts  can  be  considered  as  not being truly human, since the least humans can do is to keep these precepts.

When we have this sense of moral conscience and a dread of the consequences of our actions, it truly elevates our minds – it is like having the mind of a devata, or a celestial being. And when we wish to further develop and cultivate our minds, we should then practice the Brahma Viharas, or the four sublime states, nurturing them  in  our  hearts:  firstly,  having  metta  or  loving  kindness; secondly, karuna or compassion; thirdly, mudita or sympathetic joy; fourthly, upekkha or equanimity. All these are the states of mind or properties of a Brahma. Having loving  kindness,  metta, means that we have friendliness  and  kindness  towards  our  friends  as  well  as  all  living  beings, not wishing to harm or hurt them, or to take the life of  any being.

Compassion,  karuna, is the quality that arises when we see other people, animals or any kind of beings experiencing suffering. If we are able to help them, we try to do so with the best of our ability,  according  to  our  level  of  mindfulness  and  wisdom.  This means that we have an attitude of kindness and the wish to help one another.

The  quality  of  sympathetic  joy,  mudita,  means  that  if  we see any person experiencing happiness, we as a consequence, are happy for them. We feel happy too, having no envy or jealousy for the happy person, because in reality we all wish for happiness and so when we see other people experiencing happiness, we are happy for them and feel pleasure too.As for the quality of equanimity, upekkha, if we see other beings or animals experiencing suffering or hardship and we are unable to be of assistance, we must then let the mind rest with equanimity by feeling neither happy nor unhappy with the situation.

In  our  daily  life,  as  we  experience  things,  we  can  develop  and  cultivate  these  qualities  of  loving  kindness,  compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, as appropriate to the situation. These  are  the  qualities  that  nourish  the  heart,  bringing  about continual  peace,  happiness,  coolness  and  tranquility.  This peacefulness and happiness will create the conditions for one to have the mindfulness and wisdom to clearly see the suffering in one’s  own  life,  and  therefore  look  for  the  way  and  the  practice  that will enable one to let go of this suffering.Therefore  in  observing  the  five  precepts  (the  main  quality of  a  human  being),  having  this  moral  conscience  and  dread  of  the consequences of our bad actions (the property of a celestial being) and  having  these  four  Bramha Viharas,  (the  state  of  mind of a Brahma god), all of these qualities when they are combined with  our  practice  of  developing  sila,  samadhi  and  pañña  (virtue, concentration and wisdom) will help us in developing correct view. As a consequence, when one dies, one’s heart will not drop into a lower, unfortunate realm. There will only be continuous growth and development taking place in one’s mind. Happiness and benefit will arise, as a result, both in this present life as well as in one’s future lives. Therefore I ask all of you to have the confidence to go about performing virtuous deeds.If anybody has any questions, please feel free to ask.

You have spoken a lot about training the mind and you have  made  some  reference  to  the  heart.  How  do  the heart and the mind work together in meditation and in life?

Actually  these  two  words  have  the  same  meaning.  The  Pali word is citta. Sometimes we use the word ‘mind’ and sometimes the word ‘heart’. We are just making use of conventional language. Some may use the word ‘mind’ and others the word ‘heart’, but they are talking about the same thing. Except for when we are talking about the contents of the mind, or the heart, then the heart and the mind are one thing, but their contents are another thing.

Since ordaining, what and how much have you studied? How much reading and studying do you recommend for others?

Since beginning the practice, I have mainly just studied this body and mind. As for reading, I have hardly done any and I do not recommend a lot of formal Dhamma study. It is not necessary, whereas bhavana (meditation practice) is necessary. If you can use reading as a means for making the mind peaceful, that is fine. For example, if the mind will not settle down, maybe reading a few pages of an appropriate book will help to make it calm. But then, go back to meditation. If you do too much theoretical study, this can become an obstacle for developing meditation. While sitting, the  mind  may  start  to  wonder  if  this  is  upacara  samadhi  (access concentration) or jhana (meditative absorption). The mind tries to compare the present experience with what has been studied in the scriptures and this can hinder insight or prevent the mind from deepening in calmness.
However I do recommend reading the biographies of the Forest meditation masters, as it can be both inspirational and educational to see how they practiced and how they lived their lives.How  essential  is  body  contemplation?  Didn’t  the Venerable Ajahn Chah teach ‘letting go’?It is essential to investigate the body to see the mind clearly. Sometimes people take Luang Por Chah’s teachings from the end of the path and forget about the instructions for the beginning. If one has not passed beyond all attachment to the body, it is impossible to clearly investigate the mind. The investigation of citta and dhamma satipatthanas  (the  four  foundations  of  mindfulness:  the  body, feelings, mind and dhammas) is the path of practice for anagamis. Before  that,  they  can  be  investigated,  but  only  superficially. Sometimes  you  hear  people  say,  ‘Kilesas  are  in  the  mind,  not  in the  body,  so  it  is  the  mind  that  should  be  contemplated.’  But  it is only by passing beyond attachment to the body that the other khandhas (the five physical and mental components of personality: body, feeling, memory, thinking and consciousness) become clear. Without investigating the body as elements, as asubha, as thirty-two parts, one will not be able to realize sotapanna. Even those with great parami, such as Luang Por Tate and Luang Ta Maha Boowa, had to go through the body to realize the path.It is important to note that in the higher ordination ceremony to become a Buddhist monk, the preceptor must instruct the candidate for ordination on the five principal objects of meditation: hair, body hair, nails, teeth and skin. To not give this instruction invalidates the whole ordination. And why? Because the Lord Buddha knew that by not instructing a candidate on such an essential topic would be the cause for those persons Holy-Life to be unfruitful, or more precisely, they will not realize the noble paths to awakening, their fruitions, nor Nibbana.

How deep can one go with the practice of being mindful in daily life?

Being  continuously  aware  of  mental  objects  throughout  the day  is  an  essential  support  for  one’s  meditation  practice,  but  it is samadhi that gives sati (mindfulness) the strength to be firmly established.  If  we  are  mindful  throughout  the  day,  letting  go  of mental objects as they arise, then when we sit in meditation, the mind becomes deeply peaceful more easily. However, this kind of awareness and letting go is like trimming the branches of a tree: no matter how much you trim them, they keep growing again. To uproot the tree altogether, you have to uproot the attachment and identification with the body as ‘me’ or ‘mine’. I experimented with simply watching mental objects for a while: one day attraction to sense objects would arise and I would focus my awareness upon it, causing the delight to cease. But the next day, there would be delight with other objects. There is no end to it. However, with body contemplation, it comes to an end.

When  I  have  recommended  body  contemplation  to others,  some  answered:  “That  is  only  one  valid  way   of practice, but other ways are equally good. To say that  only  one  way  will  lead  to  path  attainment  is narrow-minded.  Luang  por  Chah  taught  to  practice more openly and broadly than that, using reflections such as ‘Don’t attach’ or ‘It’s not sure.’” How would you answer this, Ajahn?

If I did not feel the people were open and receptive to being taught,  I  would  not  say  much  at  all.  It  is  easier  to  remove  a mountain than to change people’s attachment to their views. In twenty or thirty years you can gradually blow up a huge mountain, but  people’s  views  can  remain  steadfastly  fixed  for  a  lifetime, many  lifetimes.  Those  who  say  body  contemplation  is  a  narrow path, are themselves trapped in narrow thinking. In truth, body contemplation  is  very  broad  and  leads  to  great  freedom  due  to  true insight.

From  my  experience  and  from  seeing  the  results  of  others in their practice, to realize Dhamma, to attain at least sotapanna, is  impossible  without  thoroughly  and  deeply  uprooting  the identification with the body. Even the likes of Luang Pu Tate and Luang Ta Maha Boowa, monks with enormous parami and refined awareness throughout the day, had to go back and contemplate the  body  before  they  realized  the  Dhamma.  It  is  not  enough to  do  it  just  a  few  times  either.  The  great  Forest  teachers  had to  contemplate  over  and  over.  They  would  then  get  results  in accordance with their parami and effort. It is not enough simply to be aware of postures of the body. You must train yourself to be an expert at seeing the body as asubha (not beautiful). When one who has mastered this sees other people, especially someone of  the  opposite  sex,  the  asubha  perception  is  immediately brought up to counter any kilesas that appear. The body must be repeatedly broken up into parts or deeply seen as impermanent for real insight to arise. It is possible to realize the first stage of the  path  through  contemplating  the  death  of  one’s  own  body. When mastered, body contemplation is amazing and wonderful in all sorts of ways – not narrow at all. Wherever Luang Pu Mun went, he would rely on body contemplation to keep his heart light  and at ease.

There  are  many  monks  with  a  lot  of  parami  who  claim  that their  mind  is  continually  light  and  bright,  that  kilesas  do  not arise  at  all  or  only  in  subtle  ways  and  that  Dhamma  is  clear  to  them.  They  claim  that  they  see  everything  arising  and  passing  away and that they do not attach to any of it – so they do not see any  need  to  investigate  the  body.  However,  this  is  just  samadhi, being  stuck  in  samadhi,  being  attached  to  a  self-image  of  being enlightened,  of  being  someone  who  understands  Dhamma.  But they  are  still  stuck  in  sa?sara  without  anything  preventing  them  from  falling  into  lower  realms  in  the  future.  Kilesas  are  very  tricky,  very  clever.  If  you  look  at  the  practice  of  truly enlightened people, you will see that they all followed the path of body contemplation.

Luang Por Chah himself practiced this way. He taught asubha practice – especially investigation of hair, body hair, nails, teeth and skin or seeing the body as a rotten corpse – but he would teach this more in private to specific individuals. Publicly he tended not to emphasize it as much as some of the other Forest teachers. I think this was because he saw that the majority of people were not ready for it. They still needed to work with general mindfulness as a base for developing samadhi, so he taught general ‘letting go’. It is not correct to say that Luang Por Chah did not teach body contemplation. If the mind is not concentrated, body contemplation will only be superficial. However, it is still necessary to become acquainted with it from the beginning. Then gradually nimittas (images) and perceptions of the asubha, anicca, dukkha, anatta nature of the body will arise.

When should one investigate one’s own body and when the body of others?

In the beginning, it is usually easier to contemplate the bodies of others because there is so much upadana (clinging or attachment) bound up in our relationship with our own body. However, having become skilled with external contemplation (e.g. through looking at skeletons or seeing others as skeletons), you bring it back into your  own  body.  If  you  already  have  nimittas  (mental  images/visions) of your own body, there is no need to look at the bodies of others. Going to an autopsy has much less impact on the mind than internal nimittas.

How  does  one  know  when  one  has  enough  samadhi (concentration) for contemplating the body?

Samadhi  is  the  fundamental  support  upon  which  wisdom  is developed. When developing concentration, bring your awareness to focus upon a meditation object that you feel comfortable with, without having any expectation or desire for results. Make the mind as calm as you can without having any thoughts as to what degree of concentration you have achieved: ‘Is this the first or second jhana…?’ Believe me, there are no signs that come up and tell you, so don’t look for any. If you are able to make your mind peaceful, then allow the mind to rest in that peace. When the mind starts to withdraw from this peaceful state, the thinking process will gradually resume. It is at this moment that we can take up the body for contemplation instead of allowing the mind to think aimlessly. Some meditators are not able to make their mind quite as peaceful as this, but still they are able to contemplate upon the body.

Actually,  the  easiest  way  to  see  if  you  have  sufficient concentration  is  by  simply  trying  to  contemplate.  If  your mindfulness  is  firm  enough  to  keep  the  mind  on  its  object  of reflection, without it wandering away with any passing thoughts, then this shows one has sufficient concentration, or the strength of mind for the work of contemplating. If, however, the mind keeps straying off with all kinds of thoughts, then this clearly shows the mind is not yet strong enough to be put to work. One must then return  to  further  developing  concentration  to  help  strengthen one’s mindfulness.
Developing  concentration  is  no  different  to  an  athlete  that has to do weight training to make their body strong. They start off with light weights and as they become stronger gradually move up to heavier weights. Likewise, the meditator frequently practices sitting and walking meditation to develop strong mindfulness and concentration in order to have the strength of mind needed for contemplation.

Alternatively,  you  could  compare  developing  concentration to the act of sharpening a kitchen knife. Having sharpened one’s knife, one takes some vegetables or meat that requires cutting. If the knife cuts through the food with great ease and little effort, this tells one that the knife is sharp enough for the task at hand. But if cutting the food requires great effort, with many attempts, one will conclude that the knife isn’t up to the task, and so one should re-sharpen it. Developing concentration is just the same. If one’s samadhi is strong, it is comparable to a sharp knife. When one comes to contemplate the body, the mind will cut incisively into its object of contemplation, enabling the mind to clearly see and understand that object. However, if one’s attempt at contemplating proves to be a difficult struggle due to the mind not accepting its given task, or there are still too many unrelated thoughts moving through the mind, then this clearly shows that one’s mindfulness and  concentration  are  lacking  in  strength.  One  must  therefore 18strengthen them by further developing concentration; that is, we sharpen the knife again. Always remember that if all you ever do is sharpen your knife but never use it, that knife is of no real use. However, if all you ever do is use your knife but never re-sharpen it, then ultimately that knife will also be of no use to you either.

Could you please explain death contemplation, like how to do it and how often? Can one realize the Dhamma by death contemplation, and if so, up to what stage?

Regarding  the  practice  itself,  we  may  consider  death  many times a day, depending upon the time and opportunity, but at the very least we should contemplate death once a day. This can even be done in daily life. For example, if we are traveling in a car and we seen an animal which has been run over, laying dead at the side of the road, we will see that it is made of flesh and bones and other different things and that it will eventually decompose and break apart.  Then  we  can  turn  this  contemplation  inward  to  oneself, one’s own body, realizing that we are of the very same nature. If a friend or relative were to die and one attended their funeral, we should not go thinking that it is a party where we will meet up with old friends. We should think of the life of this dead person, think of the course their life had taken and see that ultimately they have ended up in this state. They are going to be buried in the ground or burnt to ashes. Some people are older than we are, others are younger, and still they die. So we must come back and contemplate ourselves and realize that ultimately we will end up the same – awaiting burial or ready to be burnt.

We contemplate death so as to remember not to be heedless in our lives, therefore attempting to develop and practice virtue to its utmost for as long as we still have life. So, in the course of our  practice  of  keeping  precepts,  developing  virtue,  meditation and wisdom in our minds, if we include death contemplation and 19we give it a lot of emphasis, we shall be able to know and see the Dhamma to the level of sotapanna, the first stage of enlightenment, without having to contemplate the thirty two parts of the body, the loathsomeness of the body, or the four elements of the body.

However,  if  we  wish  to  go  on  to  a  higher  attainment,  we  must revert to contemplating either the thirty-two parts of the body, the loathsomeness of the body, or the four elements.There was a time when I was still a layman, when I contemplated upon  death.  This  actually  hastened  my  coming  to  ordain.  I thought that if I continued my studies and then started a career, if it happened that I should suddenly die, either due to sickness or accident, I would not have developed virtue and goodness to any real extent. There was this fear that if death came to me, I would not have done enough wholesome deeds, or cultivated enough virtue in my life. So finally, having reflected upon my life like this, and having previously given the possibility of future ordination some thought, it happened that all by coincidence, late one evening, I picked up a Dhamma book that opened at the last words of the Buddha. The Buddha said, ‘Take heed monks, I caution you thus: all things that arise are of a nature to cease. Therefore, strive on ceaselessly, discerning and alert both for your own benefit and the benefit of others.’ Reading this, and contemplating its meaning, I decided to renounce the lay life and come to ordain.

Once ordained I was very resolute, extremely determined in my practice. Everyday I would consider death, at least once. The contemplation of death and making this awareness very real within my mind was something that I firmly established. Sometimes in the morning when I awoke, I would think to myself, ‘So I have still not died’ and then just tell myself that I would only have life for this one day and one night. For example, if I was going to take my rest at 10 p.m., then that is when I would die - at 10 p.m.; or if I was going to take my rest at 11 p.m., then I would die at 11 p.m. This is something which really stimulates the mind to get energetic about the practice. In those days at Wat Pah Pong they would ring the morning bell at three in the morning and we would have morning chanting  at  either  3.30  or  4  a.m.  depending  on  whether  we  had sitting meditation before or after the chanting. And in the evenings there was a meeting that started at 7 p.m. However, I wished to profit from the situation, so I got up at 2 a.m. and I contemplated and  focused  upon  death  until  there  was  a  clear  awareness  of  it present in my heart.

In those days I did not take a rest during the day. We came together in the mornings to sit in meditation as a group, but the time outside of that was free time for individual practice which, for myself, I would use by alternating between sitting and walking meditation. Normally I would take a rest at 10 p.m., just resting for four hours. Some days I rested at 11 p.m. and would wake up at 3 a.m. In those days at Wat Pah Pong, on the Uposatha 2  we would practice  throughout  the  night,  standing,  walking  or  sitting  in meditation, without lying down.

This  is  the  way  I  used  to  practice  meditation  about  eighty percent  of  the  time.  Another  ten  percent  was  when  I  was  even more diligent in my practice, I would only take two or three hours rest at night. And the other ten percent was when, after keeping up a period of maybe five to ten days of strenuous practice, my body would feel tired and weak, so I would take a rest in the afternoon for maybe thirty to forty minutes.
The  contemplation  of  death  made  me  never  want  to  think about tomorrow. Even though, when I first ordained, there were still thoughts about the future, there was always this awareness reminding my heart that I may die tonight, so what is the point of thinking about tomorrow? Such thoughts bring us back to the present moment. As a consequence, the mind’s proliferation about the future – tomorrow, next week, next month and so on – gradually slows down and lessens till eventually we just have mindfulness firmly established in the present moment.

  It  could  be  compared  to  having  a  ball  which  we  throw against a wall. When thrown, the ball does not penetrate the wall. In our case, when we allow the mind to keep thinking off into the future would be like the ball penetrating the wall and going on and on. But if we have a strong wall, that is, the awareness of death, once the ball hits it, it just comes back, and so the mind is always coming back to the present moment. This was the cause of my being able to make my mind quiet very easily and it was peaceful nearly all the time. Therefore I ask of all of you to develop this practice of marananussati, death contemplation. Give it some consideration each day. The contemplation of death is not done so as to give rise to fear, but to make us heedful. In doing so, we will no longer be lost in, or deluded by the world; we are no longer heedlessly caught up in the world.
I told my mother that I would be with her, to help her when she is about to pass away.

Can you please advise me as to how I can help her in her dying moments?

At this moment, while she is still alive, you should be taking the best possible care of her. In doing so you would be repaying some of your debt of gratitude to her, for she has taken great care of you right from when you were in her womb and throughout your life up until adulthood. This debt of gratitude that we have to our parents is immense. Sometimes we may try to repay it for our whole life and still be unable to fully do so. Before  I  ordained,  I  sometimes  thought  that  I  would  work and then try to financially assist my father; however, I came and ordained and so I would sometimes think, ‘How will I ever repay my debt of gratitude to my father?’ I felt that even if I was to find money, wealth and possessions to give him, I would still be unable to fully repay my debt to him. So I found a shortcut: I encouraged him to come and ordain, so that I would be able to take good care of him, meet his needs as he got older and also give advice on the Dhamma. I felt that if I could give him good advice about his Dhamma practice, this would be fully repaying my debt of gratitude to him. My father was a person who had wholesome views and a strong faith in the Buddha’s teaching, so he ordained and lived with me for sixteen years. He died about two years ago and I was able to talk to him until the very last moments. I do feel that I was able to truly repay my debt to him.

If we look for material things and wealth to repay our debt to our parents, we cannot completely repay it. The way to do so is to give the Dhamma to our parents and to set them on the right course in Dhamma practice. This is the way to repay our debt of gratitude towards them. If you feel a sense of gratitude towards your mother, this is very good. You should take the greatest care of her. Right now, you should teach her to practice meditation. If she shows strong attachment  towards  her  body,  teach  her  ways  to  gradually  let go  of  this  attachment.  Teach  her  to  contemplate  the  truth  that these bodies of ours are not within our command, and that it is the elements of the body going out of balance that causes aging, sickness and death to occur. She should contemplate like this to make her mind quiet, practicing as time avails. When the moment of death comes, you should instruct her to use her mindfulness and wisdom to contemplate the body so as not to attach to it, but rather just let it go on its natural course. Having made the mind be at peace, she should then focus upon her meditation object.

All of us here in this room should be practicing this contemplation of death, not leaving it until the moment of death comes. Just look at boxers: they have to train before going up into the ring for the real fight, they do not just go up there unpracticed. Athletes also must  train  before  competing.  The  same  goes  for  us:  we  have  to practice and get an understanding of death before death actually comes to us. Consequently, we have to practice contemplating the body and death every day.

Could  you  please  explain  all  the  stages  of  letting  go of the kilesas? Also, can you please explain the state of  mind  of  one  who  has  attained  to  these  stages  of awakening, and what should the meditation object be for each of these stages?

To explain all this would require a lot of time, so I will just do so briefly. We say letting go of one portion of the kilesas is the attainment of  sotapanna,  one  who  has  entered  the  stream;  letting  go  of  the second portion is the attainment of sakadagami, the once-returner; letting go of the third portion is the attainment of anagami, the non-returner; and the letting go of the fourth, and final, portion of the kilesas is the attainment of arahant, a fully enlightened being.Now for the second part of the question: ‘Explain the state of mind of one who has attained to these states.’ A sotapanna is one who, to some extent, has let go of attachment to the body by clearly realizing that this body is not the mind and the mind is not the body. The kilesa of greed has been lessened to some extent by the fact that one’s actions and speech will always be within the bounds of the five precepts or, if one is a monastic, within the bounds of the eight, ten or 227 precepts. Sotapannas are content with what they already have. That does not mean that they have no interest to do anything, but rather, that they will apply their mindfulness and wisdom towards any duties, work, or responsibilities that they may have by doing them to the best of their ability. The kilesa of anger is also weakened on account of its strongest properties, that of ill-will and vindictiveness, being completely let go of – never to return. For the sotapanna anger will manifest in the form of dissatisfaction or displeasure. This they can let go of very quickly due to there being no residue of anger’s intensity, ill-will, remaining in their heart. Within the heart they are continually cultivating loving-kindness and forgiveness.

A  sotapanna  has  no  fear  of  sickness  or  death  for  they  have contemplated  death  before  it  actually  comes  to  them.  This  is similar to what Ajahn Chah used to teach when he would say to see something as being broken before it actually breaks. For example, if somebody gives you a very nice cup, you have to realize that one day, sooner or later, this cup will eventually break. You know it is a very beautiful object, but at the same time you have the awareness that this cup will break someday. So you use this cup, you take good care of it, you clean it and so forth, but the day it breaks, you don’t have any feelings of sadness or regret because you had conceived the cup breaking before it actually broke. The mindfulness  and  wisdom  of  a  sotapanna  works  in  just  the  same way: it sees the breaking apart, or death of the body before death actually occurs.

Also  a  sotapanna  will  not  intentionally  break  any  of  the  five precepts. Suppose somebody brought a chicken or a bird, put it down beside them and tried forcing them to kill it, saying ‘If you don’t kill this bird I am going to kill you.’ The sotapanna will choose not to kill the animal, but rather accept to be killed. This is one of  the  characteristics  of  a  sotapanna:  the  strong  conviction  that they will not do any unwholesome, immoral deeds, for they know the  harm  or  danger  that  comes  from  performing  unwholesome kamma. So this quality of keeping the five precepts is automatic or natural for them. The mental defilements that have been let go of do not come back. Laypeople can also attain to this level if they keep  developing  the  path  of  virtue,  concentration  and  wisdom. Monks have exactly the same practice: developing sila, samadhi and pañña – virtue, concentration and wisdom.

To achieve the second level of attainment on the noble path to awakening; that is, sakadagamiphala, the fruition of once-returning, the path of practice is to further develop sila, samadhi and pañña so as to let go of attachment to the body by another portion. To become  a  sotapanna  one  may  use  the  contemplation  of  death, but  to  realize  the  level  of  sakadagami  one’s  contemplation  and investigation have to be more refined by either contemplating the thirty-two parts of the body or using the asubha reflections on the loathsomeness or unattractiveness of the body. At this second level of path development, one’s mindfulness and wisdom need to see and understand the body more clearly so as to enable the mind to let go of a more refined degree of attachment and clinging towards one’s self. For the sakadagami, greed and anger have been further weakened.  For  example,  anger  will  manifest  in  a  subtle  form  of dissatisfaction. It will arise infrequently and can easily be let go of. Sometimes one may not have the time to contemplate this emotion due to it quickly ceasing all by itself. At other times, mindfulness and  wisdom  are  able  to  contemplate  this  dissatisfaction  at  the very moment it arises, thus letting it go, putting it down quickly. In summary, at this second level of attainment, one has let go of one more portion of greed and anger, due to the lessening of one’s deluded attachment to one’s self. If one is to see or realize this for oneself, one must cultivate the path of sila, samadhi and pañña to its respective degree.

To realize the third level of attainment, that of an anagami, a non-returner, one must further develop the path of sila, samadhi and pañña. At this third level of path development, anagamimagga, one’s contemplation of the body becomes even more refined, requiring one to contemplate on either the asubha reflections or upon the four  elements.  One’s  investigation  probes  so  deeply  and  subtly that one’s mindfulness and wisdom will eventually penetrate right through its meditation object to enter into the emptiness of the mind. Practicing in such a way, one’s heart will begin to develop a very thorough understanding about the nature of the body. One can now begin to let go of the final portion of attachment towards one’s own body, for one clearly realizes that the body, be it one’s own or that of others, is merely an aggregate of earth, water, air and fire coming together temporarily. These are the two themes of investigation: asubha and the four elements. The taking of them into emptiness is what we call magga, the path, or the course of practice  leading  to  the  attainment  of  anagamiphala,  the  fruition of  non-returning.  Through  frequently  seeing  the  true  nature  of the body in such a subtle way, one’s heart will obtain a complete understanding about one’s own body until there will be no doubts of any kind remaining within the heart as to the body’s true nature. The body of the past is known to be merely elements; likewise, the body of the future when it breaks apart and one’s present body are also known to be merely elements that conform to the laws of  nature.  The  mind  can  now  uproot  all  remaining  attachment towards the body. The bodies of other people are seen to be just four elements that comply with nature. All material objects; that is, inanimate objects without consciousness, are even more readily seen to be just combinations of the four elements that bind together temporarily in conformance with nature.

The human mind is deluded into attaching to one’s own body as being or belonging to oneself, into viewing the bodies of other people  as  being  something  beautiful  or  attractive,  and  also  into considering material objects as having ownership. Consequently, greed, anger and delusion arise within one’s mind. We are therefore obliged to contemplate one’s own body so as to see its true nature of being merely the four elements that function in compliance with nature, and that the bodies of other people and all material objects are of the same exact nature. Thus all attraction and pleasure with the  sensory  world  falls  away.  Greed  and  anger  no  longer  exist. When the fires in one’s heart have been extinguished, only coolness will remain. There is peacefulness and coolness all through the day and night. The kilesas that have been let go of will never come back again. The mind moves down the middle, down the center, never moving to either side of attraction or aversion. The mind is not attached to anything at all in the world. Even if the world was to change into gold, or if it became a huge piece of diamond, the mind would not be moved or attracted by this, for the mind has realized the truth and knows that these things are merely the four elements. The mind is not attached to the conventions of conditioned reality. This  is  the  state  of  mind  of  one  who  has  attained  to  the  level  of anagami.

However, an anagami still has some subtle delusion remaining within  the  heart,  in  so  much  as  they  still  attach  to  the  subtle processes or modes of the mind; that is, the four mental khandas: feeling, memory, thinking and consciousness. So the practitioner must cultivate mindfulness and wisdom, to see these four khandas as being fleeting, a source of suffering or discontent, and that they are completely without any abiding essence that could be called a ‘self’. When the mind fully accepts this it will let go of its attachment towards everything within it. Even the mental formations or the thinking processes are not the mind: that which thinks is not the mind; that which does not think is the mind. The purity of heart that  has  gradually  increased,  stage  by  stage,  by  eliminating  all traces of greed, anger and delusion from within the mind, will at this point, completely and permanently suffuse the heart of the practitioner. Letting go of this final portion of the defilements is what is called arahattaphala or the attainment of arahantship.It is only for the first three levels of attainment that one must contemplate  the  body.  Body  contemplation  is  a  truly  amazing practice. It can give rise to many marvelous natural phenomena or  conditions  arising  within  the  mind.  For  example,  sometimes seeing the whole body as just being a pile of earth (earth element), or seeing the whole body as being a flowing stream of water (water element). These natural phenomena may arise in the mind in many, many forms. Those who have mindfulness and wisdom will be wise to the truths that these phenomena reveal. When  people  start  contemplating  the  body,  some  may  have a natural inclination for contemplating the loathsomeness of the body. They may be able to see the people in this room as corpses in various stages of decomposition, or see everybody as skeletons. Sometimes  when  other  people  are  seen,  they  will  completely break apart, separating out into pieces, only then to reconstruct themselves back into their original form – before one’s very eyes. These are just some of the natural phenomena that arise within the  mind  of  one  who  is  cultivating  the  contemplation  of  the loathsomeness of the body.

For  one  whose  practice  is  at  the  level  of  arahattamagga,  the course of practice leading to arahantship, these amazing states will not arise because their practice is to cultivate a very refined degree of mindfulness and wisdom so as to give up the subtle delusion that still remains within the mind. We could compare one who has attained the third level of anagami as having filtered dirty water to make it clean whereas the arahant filters clean water to make it pure. They have made their own heart pure. This is what the Buddha  called  the  ‘Dhamma  element’  –  the  absolute  purity  of mind. The Buddha said, ‘There is no happiness greater than peace’, meaning the peace experienced within a heart freed from all greed, anger and delusion.

Ok then, that’s probably enough for tonight.
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