Contemplation of the Mind: Cittānupassanā (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

revised on 2020-05-29

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

In daily life, the minds are arising continuously by knowing the sense objects (ārammaṇas). Starting from the rebirth consciousness, the mind depends on sense objects and mind base (ārammaṇas and vatthu) and is arising continuously. To be aware of them, it needs practice. We are talking about the mind very often. For example, I am angry; but we cannot reflect its nature. The mind changed too fast that the Buddha himself mentioned the difficulty of comparison for it. Therefore, we cannot know it with normal mindfulness (sati).

We cannot know about this mind with the same mind. This mind only can be known with the following mind (another mind). Without knowing and mistakes can come in with clinging and attachment. It is natural that without knowing rightly and problems follow on.

In a sutta in Saṁyutta Nikāya, the Buddha said that people no Dhamma knowledge viewed the mind as stable and always existed. But if they took the body in this way was better. Because it existed for the whole life. Viewing the mind in this way was not proper. The Buddha gave the following simile. A monkey roaming through a forest grabbed hold of one branch, let that go and grabbed another, and then let that go and grabbed another, etc.

In the same way mind or consciousness arises and ceases, and then follows by another mind, etc. by day and by night. Contemplation of the mind is to know the nature of the mind by observing with mindfulness (sati). Let us study the nature of the mind. In the texts, which described the mind as sometimes included mental factors (cetasika).

There was not talking about the mental factors in the satipaṭṭhāna sutta. Here it referred to the knowing nature of the sense objects. Sometimes mind referred to samādhi (concentration). The mind was governing the world referred to mental factors. In this sutta, the mind knows the objects which are arising from the six sense doors.

It is not including feelings, perceptions and mental formations. The natural phenomenon has its characteristic. Here the mind knows the objects only. So, here, the individual character of the mind is knowing. In nature, there are two characteristics;

① individual characteristic (sabhāva lakkhaṇa), not relate to others and belong to itself
② universal characteristic (sāmañña lakkhaṇa).

In vipassanā practice, has to start at individual characteristic. Without starting from here and contemplate impermanence is not knowing. This is only knowing by thinking. Only seeing the real impermanence becomes vipassanā. This will only discern the ultimate reality. Thinking may be right or maybe not.

Right thinking can be a support for the practice. But not knowing the ultimate reality directly. Mind or mental phenomena are bending or inclining towards the sense objects. This is its characteristic. The mind can take the objects from far away. Even a lot of ordinary Buddhists take this point wrongly as the mind can travel very far away.

This is similar to the soul or atta. Two kinds of mind cannot arise together and only one by one. The place of the mind is the heart base or mind base (Heart base was by the commentary and mind base was by the Buddha. In Pāli, hadaya and vatthu). This mind base is not existing there. But it is arising there.

Experienced meditators knew this point. As an example, the sounds of a guitar are not in the music instrument. The sounds are arising only by plucking or strumming with the fingers.

The nature of the mind is inclining towards the sense objects. Vedanā is feeling the object with the mind. The mind touches with the sense object is the nature of the contact (phassa). Usually, we are talking about knowing the mind knows the sense objects. For example, this flower is beautiful. It is too hot. This is talking about contact (phassa), and not about the mind.

We are talking about external objects. Forgetting the mind and talking about the objects. In the contemplation of the mind, the Buddha told us to be aware or mindful of the mind. The mind also mixed with mental factors. All minds know the objects that they are only one nature. Here the Buddha distinguished the minds related to its situations. It can be 16 types. Not necessary everyone has 16 types.

The Buddha mentioned it in general. Here, the 16 types of mind and in the other places were not the same; e.g. in the Abhidhammatha Saṅgaha—Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma. For contemplation purpose, the Buddha divided it into 16 types. It is like separating the cows with their colors, but all of them are cows. In the same case, all minds, nature is only knowing.

The instruction was; “He knows a lustful mind as a lustful mind, etc.” If we contemplate only greed or lust, then it becomes contemplation of dhammas. But in the real contemplation, with the discrimination of “Is it the body or the feeling?”, then you miss the point. Not necessary to discriminate in this way. You will be caught up with an object of contemplation.

In the satipaṭṭhāna, the Buddha taught the possible four types of object in vipassanā practice (body, feeling, mind and dhamma). We cannot say, I will contemplate the only mind, only feeling, etc. Whatever it is arising, only need to know the arising phenomenon there. Contemplation of the body is existing as form (rūpa) and not mixing with others. But feeling (vedanā), mind (consciousness) and dhammas are mixing up together.

So, it is unnecessary to discriminate them. In the Visuddhimagga Text and Mahāsi Sayadaw, both instructed to contemplate whatever was arising. In the beginning, it is difficult to contemplate all of them. With the practice and it becomes easier.

The sixteen states of mind are mundane and not including the supramundane. They are eight categories can be subdivided into two sets. These two sets are ordinary states of mind and higher states of mind. The first set includes unwholesome and wholesome ordinary states of mind. The second set is concerned with the presence or absence of higher states of mind.

Eight categories of ordinary states of mind:

1. lustful (sarāga)
2. Without lust (visarāga)
3. angry (sadosa)
4. Without anger (visadosa)
5. deluded (samoha)
6. Without delusion (visamoha)
7. contracted or sloth-and-torpor (saṅkhitta)
8. distracted (vikkhitta)

Eight categories of higher states of mind:

9. great or jhānic mind (mahaggata)
10. mind without jhānas (amahaggata)
11. unsurpassable or immaterial jhānas (anuttara)
12. surpassable or material jhānas (sa-uttara).

Here the unsurpassable does not include supramundane. Anuttara and sa-uttara are also higher and ordinary wholesome mental states.

13. concentrated or samādhi mind (samāhita)
14. without samādhi (asamāhita)
15. liberated (vimutta)
16. without liberating (avimutta).

Here Sayadaw referred to the liberated mind state is with insight knowledge. For example, by seeing anicca (inconstant) liberate from nicca (permanent).

And then as a second stage; “He abides contemplating the mind internally, externally and then both.” All are the same nature. With the practice, the contemplation sticks with the mind and knowing about it and with the development, discerning the arising and passing away regarding the mind.

The mindfulness that there is a mind is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge. And then the yogi frees from wrong view and craving (diṭṭhi and taṇhā), becomes independent and not clinging anything in the world. Now, the mind is free.

revised on 2020-05-29; cited from (posted on 2019-11-22)

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