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

revised on 2021-03-16

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

Kaṅkhā means doubting. The yogi cannot decide whether it is right or wrong. The mind becomes tired of uncertainty. As an example, someone is reaching the crossed-roads, and he cannot decide which direction he must follow and stop there. In the same way with one’s practice, he cannot draw conclusions and stop there. Only with right knowing and seeing can one overcome the difficulties. Vitaraṇa 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 and matter. Why have doubts? Some are a connection with the present, but others are not. It can be known by oneself at the present, or it cannot.

There are two knowledges, with direct knowledge and inference. Direct knowledge can be known with the body (i.e., with the senses). For example, someone never eats durian fruits before, if he has the chance to eat one of them now, he will know its taste. The other is he will know its taste with inference even he does not eat them. In the same way; this life happens in this way, so be in the past and will also be in the future. If the yogi overcoming doubt with direct knowing and 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 and matter (nāmarūpa paccayapariggaha ñāṇa). What are the mind and matter? With the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body—the five internal senses and the five external sense objects—physical form, sound…tangible objects are matters. Matters cannot take and know the sense objects.

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

It changes distinctly, with forms and shapes. All these are matters (rūpa). With the contact of sense objects and 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 and 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 the mind. With the alteration, deformation and infliction are matters. This is a full understanding of the known (ñāta-pariññā), one understands the five khandhas (mind and matter) in terms of their characteristics, etc. The learning knowledge is also including here.

We must try to know them directly with knowledge (ñāṇa). Knowing that nothing exists except mind and matter, then it becomes diṭṭhivisuddhi. After that, the yogi continues to investigate why mind and matter arise and how they arise? If something happens, we have to search for the causes about why it arises. It was like after knowing the type of illness and searching for the causes.

If the yogi finds out the causes and knows the causes, it becomes discernment of conditions (paccayapariggaha ñāṇa). 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 and nutriment (kamma, citta, utu, āhāra). From the Abhidhamma teaching, we can know it in detail.

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 and 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. Sound can be arisen by mind. For example, the voice comes out by sadness and the voice comes out by joy are not the same. The mind produces these voices and led by the mind. The natural sounds from external such as thunder and 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 and reflection can be taken as meditation.

It will increase knowledge by doing. It is not just only closing the eyes and sitting. Thinking and reflecting on the world is meditation. Teaching and 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 and it becomes fat. The Buddha had said in a sutta that with the causes of mind and temperature (citta and utu), foods lacked nutriments, human beings had short life span and diseases.

After the contemplation on the matter, the yogi continues for the mind. How and why mind arises? For example, eye seeing consciousness; with the contact of eye and physical object, eye 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, and it does not hide anywhere. Because of conditions and the effect or result comes to be.

Take an example, 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 and matter and its conditions are very important. These are the foundations of insight knowledge (vipassanā ñāṇa).

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 cannot find it in other faiths. These also have a connection with the Dependent Co-arising Teaching (Paṭiccasamuppāda).

Therefore, Mogok Sayadawgyi after his practice stopped his teaching for Abhidhamma to monks and 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 and Unconditioned.”

Using the above two basic knowledges with contemplations, knowledge of comprehension (sammasanañāṇa) arises. We have to develop this knowledge. Insight knowledge is starting from this knowledge. With the third and fourth purifications, the yogi knows about the natural phenomena and its causes. It is called full understanding of the known (Ñāta-pariññā).

After that, continue the contemplation of full understanding by scrutinization (Tīraṇa-pariññā), just knowing them is not enough, it needs to be made a final conclusion. 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 and not-self. It can also be contemplated in the past and 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 and future. If mindfulness and concentration develop and 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 pass through the four levels one by one with the practice).

We need the ability to contemplate the past, present and future of the mind and matter in general. As an example, the mind and matter yesterday did not exist anymore for today. And today mind and 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 and strength is changing and reducing continuously. Time is consuming living beings and making them disappear. It takes out all the freshness, youth and 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 and shouting.

What did they achieve during the old last year? If we achieved something wholesome and 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 Buddhagayā.

This is welcoming the new year with heedfulness. But the majority are doing it with heedlessness. With the development of sati and paññā (mindfulness and discernment) arriving at the knowledge of rising and fall of phenomena (udayabbaya ñāṇa). 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 and 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 and vision of what is and what is not the path (maggāmagga ñāṇadassana). With the continued contemplation and at last the yogi is arriving at the end of the spiritual journey. This is the purification by knowledge and vision (Ñāṇadassana-visuddhi).

revised on 2021-03-16; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=36993#p36993 (posted on 2019-11-22)

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