Purification by Overcoming Doubt: Kaṅkhāvitaranavisuddhi (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)


By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)


Kaṅkha means doubting. The yogi cannot decide whether it is right or wrong. The mind becomes tired of uncertainty. As an example, someone is arriving at the crossed-roads, cannot decide which direction has to follow & stopping there. In the same way with one’s practice cannot conclude & stopping there. Only with right knowing & seeing can overcome the difficulty. Vitarana means overcoming. It is overcoming doubt by knowledge (Not with the blind faith).

To get this knowledge, it needs to know the right causes of the mind & matter. Why have doubts? Some are a connection with the present & others are not. The present can be known by oneself, & also it cannot be by oneself. There are two knowledges, with direct knowledge & inference. Direct knowledge can be known with the body (i.e., with the senses), e.g. someone never eats durian fruits before.

Now if he has the chance to eat one of them will know its taste. The others even he does not eat them, will know its taste with inference. In the same way; this life happens in this way, so be in the past & will also be in the future. If the yogi overcoming doubt with direct knowing & inferences will get this knowledge. How to do it? We must try to know the causes thoroughly.

This is the discernment or knowledge of the conditions of mind & matter (nāmarūpa paccayapariggaha ñānam). What are the mind & matter? With the eyes, ears, nose, tongue & body – the five internal senses & the five external sense objects – physical form, sound…tangible objects are matters. Matters cannot take & know the sense objects.

They cannot incline towards the sense objects. Matters (rūpa) is so called because it undergoes & imposes alteration owing to adverse physical conditions such as cold & heat, etc. In the Saṁyutta Nikāya, the Buddha defined it as deformed or afflicted by cold, heat, hunger, thirst, flies, mosquitoes, wind, sunburn & creeping things.

It changes distinctly, with forms & shapes. All these are matters (rūpa). With the contact of sense objects & sense doors, the knowing mind arises. This is roughly defining. This dhamma (mind phenomenon) is inclining towards the objects or facing towards the objects. Therefore it is called name (nāma) or mind (mind always co-existing with mental factors – cetasikas). As an example, on a quiet night with a bang sound & the mind instantly inclines towards the sound.

The mind with the other objects is also in the same way. Therefore knowing about the sense objects is mind. With the alteration, deformation & infliction are matters. This is a full understanding of the known (ñatapariññā), one understands the five khandhas (mind & matter) in terms of their characteristics, etc. The learning knowledge is also including here.

We must try to know them directly with knowledge (ñānam). Knowing that nothing is existing except mind & matter, then it becomes ditthivisuddhi. After that, the yogi continues to investigate why mind & matter arise & how they arise? If something is happening, we have to search for the causes as to why it arises. It was like after knowing the type of illness & searching for the causes.

If the yogi finds out the causes & knows the causes, it becomes discernment of conditions (paccayapariggaha ñānam). By knowing the conditions that the doubt of why it happens is overcome. All of these are knowledge. For talking about roughly on the matter; the conditions are kamma, mind, temperature & nutriment (kamma, citta, utu, āhāra). From the Abhidhamma teaching, we can know it in details.

Here are only four conditions. For example; the eye sensitivity (cakkhu-pasāda) arises by kamma. Therefore if the eye damaged, we cannot restore its vision. But without of kamma & can be restored the vision with the artificial eye, then we have to reconsider for other conditions. Then it will be not by kamma only. Matters which can perform this kind of ability are made by kamma (from the eye to other physical sensitivities).

The mind phenomenon is very strange, indeed. The mind can arise Even sound, e.g. the voice comes out by sadness & the voice comes out by joy are not the same. The mind produces these voices and leading by the mind. The natural sounds from external such as thunder & windy sounds arise by temperature (utu). Sound can be arisen by the mind or temperature (the main factors).

The sounds of animals are mind made. What are the causes of the snoring sound during a sleep? With nutrients or vitamins, the eyes become healthy. All are collectively supporting together for matters. It is similar for a tree to grow there are many conditions. Contemplation & reflection can be taken as meditation.

By doing it will increase knowledge. It is not only closing the eyes & sitting. Thinking & reflecting on the world is meditation. Teaching & listening Dhamma talks are also meditation (see Khemaka Sutta of Saṁyutta-Nikāya). When coming out from the mother’s womb, a child was very small. With foods or nutrients, the body grows up. Eating a lot & it becomes fat. The Buddha had said in a sutta that with the causes of mind & temperature (citta & utu) foods were lacking nutriments & humans beings had short life span & diseases.

After the contemplation on the matter & the yogi continues for the mind. How & why mind arises? E.g., seeing consciousness; with the contact of eye & physical object & seeing consciousness arises. The other sense bases also have to be understood in this way. Even we do not know many causes, at least have to know that much.

In the suttas, the Buddha also mentioned in this way. The mind dependents on causes to arise. From where it comes out or does it exist before? None of them are true & it does not hide anywhere. Because of conditions & the effect or result comes to be. Take an, e.g.;

Is there any fire in the gas lighter? No, there is not. It only has the conditions for its arising. The mind arises by adding a condition which makes it arising. It was like a guitar; its sound originally not existed. These two knowledges: the discernment of the mind & matter & its conditions are very important. These are the foundations of insight knowledge (vipassanā ñānam).

Only people have these two knowledges they can be called themselves as true Buddhists. This fact was mentioned by Ledi Sayadaw in some of his writings. That is true because you can not find it in other faiths. These also have a connection with the Dependent Co-arising Teaching (Paticcasamupada).

Therefore Mogok Sayadawgyi after his practice stopped his teaching for Abhidhamma to monks & laypersons. Instead, he focused on the teachings of practice until his final day. Therefore his Dhamma talks are treasures for yogis. I had translated some of them as “Emptiness, Conditioned & Unconditioned.”

Using the above two basic knowledges with contemplations, knowledge of comprehension (sammasanañānam) arises. We have to develop this knowledge. Insight knowledge is starting from this knowledge. With the 3rd & 4th purifications, the yogi knows about the natural phenomena & its causes. It is called full understanding of the known (Ñātapariññā).

After that continue the contemplation of full understanding by scrutinization (Tiranapariññā), just knowing them is not enough, if needs to be concluded. For this to be achieved, we have to contemplate it for many times.

There are two ways of contemplation; i.e., in a group or one by one. One by one method is difficult. So, we contemplate it in the group. Contemplate them under the three universal characteristics of impermanence, dukkha & not-self. It can also be contemplated in the past & future periods. But most people think that insight meditation (vipassanā) is only contemplating the present moment.

This can be possible only at the higher or developed levels. Before that, we need to contemplate them in the three periods – past, present & future. If mindfulness & concentration develop & will discern the present moment. We cannot skip over it. (It is the same as the four levels of realization. Everyone – including the bodhisatta has to past through the four levels one by one with the practice).

We need the ability to contemplate the past, present & future of the mind & matter in general. As an example, yesterday, mind & matter were not existing anymore for today. And today mind & matter also will not exist for tomorrow, etc. We can also contemplate a human life span into ten years in groups (i.e., ten years, 20 years, 30 years, etc.).

This is contemplating the changes in matter or body. We can contemplate the changing of the mind. It is very quick indeed, now this, now that, etc. Not only human beings are changing but also period. Because of the period changing that man’s life span & strength is changing & reducing continuously. Time is consuming living beings & making them disappear. It takes out all the freshness, youth & strength from them. Man cannot conquer time (generally speaking).

Birds are dying while flying; men are dying while planning. Who can consume time? This is the fully awakened one – arahant. Now I am writing this is at the beginning of the 2018 new year. The old year of 2017 had gone. Most people do not have a sense of urgency (saṁvega). During the new year, they are out of control by getting lost in the sensual pleasure of eating, drinking & shouting.

What did they achieve during the old last year? If we achieved something wholesome & good, then we should do it better during the new year. Wasting precious time without any wholesome achievements is foolishness.

Wholesome dhammas should always be cultivated at any time in any place. A couple from Hong Kong is welcoming the 2018 new year at a meditation retreat in Burma. After that, they will continue the spiritual journey at the holy site of Buddhagaya.

This is welcoming the new year with heedfulness. But the majority are doing it with heedlessness. With the development of sati & paññā (mindfulness & discernment) arriving at the knowledge of rising & fall of phenomena (udayabbaya ñānam). Here the contemplative mind is sharp enough for the present moment.

The yogi has a strong resolution. And then the ten insight corruptions come in & the yogi can be taken them as realization. Therefore he is stopping there. If he knows these are not representing the end of the way; then he is with the knowledge & vision of what is & what is not the path (maggāmaggañānadassana). With the continued contemplation & at last the yogi is arriving at the end of the spiritual journey. This is the purification by knowledge & vision (Ñānadassana-visuddhi).


cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36993#p36993 (posted on 2019-11-22)


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