Today we will continue our study of consciousness. We studied some types of consciousness last week - the unwholesome consciousnesses and the rootless consciousnesses.Today we will study the rest of the types of consciousness. So we will have to rush today.
The first group is beautiful consciousness pertaining to the sense-sphere. 'Pertaining to the sense-sphere' means arising mainly in the sense-sphere. I hope you remember what sense-sphere is. Sense-sphere is the world of animals, ghosts, human beings, Deveas or celestial beings. Those types of consciousness that arise mainly in these realms, in the beings of these realms is called 'consciousness pertaining to sense-sphere'. In Pàli they re called Kàmavacara Sobhana Cittas.
What is beautiful? They are called beautiful because they bring with them beautiful qualities or good qualities such as confidence, mindfulness, loving-kindness and so on. They are called beautiful because they are accompanied by blameless roots such as non-attachment.
We studied six roots in our last lecture - three Akusala or bad roots and three good or neutral roots. 'Blameless roots' means good or neutral roots. They are the opposite of attachment, illwil and delusion. So they are non-attachment, non-illwill or non-hatred, and non-delusion.
The types of consciousness we are going to study today are accompanied by two or three of these blameless roots. Therefore they are called beautiful.
There are 24 types of consciousness belonging to this group - eight wholesome, eight resultant and eight functional. We will come to them when we look at the chart.
They differ according to whether they are accompanied by pleasurable feeling or indifferent feeling, or by whether they are accompanied by knowledge or not, and also by whether they are prompted or unprompted.
You have met prompted and unprompted in the unwholesome Cittas. If you know the eight Cittas accompanied by attachment, you will easily understand the eight consciousnesses here. The only difference here is that they are accompanied by non-attachment either with knowledge or without knowledge.
What is knowledge? Knowledge or the Pàli word 'Ñàna' is that which knows or penetrates things according to reality. That means according to their real nature. Knowledge is that which knows or sees things as impermanent, as suffering and as devoid of soul. Knowledge or Ñàna is also that which knows or sees the Four Noble Truths and also which correctly understands Kamma and its results. This type of understanding is called Ñàna in Abhidhamma. Not all kinds of knowing is called knowing in Abhidhamma. Ñàna is alwys associated with beautiful types of consciousness. Ñàna is to be understood in a good sense.
We should also understand the synonyms of Ñàna. There are many synonyms. Those that are frequently met with are given in the notes. The first synonym is Paññà. Paññà and Ñàna mean the same thing. They mean undestanding, or knowledge, or wisdom. Some also translate it as intellect. Next is Amoha. Moha is delusion. Amoha is non-delusion. Non-delusion is another name for Paññà, or knowledge, or understanding. The next is Vijjà. You may have heard about the word 'Avijjà', ignorance. This is the opposite of ignorance, Vijjà. So it is knowledge, understanding or wisdom. Then there is Sammàditthi. Among the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path the first one is Sammàditthi or Right Understanding, or Right Knowledge. Right Understanding or Right Knowledge is just Paññà. Also when you read about the factors of enlightenment, then you will come across Dhammavicaya which is translated as investigation of the Dhamma. 'Investigation of the Dhamma' really means understanding of the Dhammas as they really are. There is another word for Paññà and that is Vipassanà. Vipassanà is also a synonym for Paññà or understanding because through the practice of Vipassanà w come to see the true nature of mind and matter. So Vipassanà is also a synonym for Paññà or Ñàna.
There are eight types of wholesome consciousness in this group. Some of them are associated with knowledge and some are not. We will come to them when we look at the charts. So now let us go to the charts.
There are altgether 24 beautiful consciousnesses of the sense-sphere. There are eight wholesome, eight resultant and eight functional consciousnesses. The first consciousness is with pleasure, with knowledge, unprompted. When you do something good, for example when you practice charity, when you give something or help someone, or pay homage to the Buddha, or study the Dhamma, or practice meditation, then one of these eight types of consciousness arises in you. The first one is when you do something with pleasurable feeling and with full knowledge that there is Kamma, there is the result of Kamma and so on. Then the first type of consciousness is arising in you. So it is with pleasure, with knowledge and unprompted.
Sometimes you do meritorious deeds or practice meditation spontaneously, without being encouraged. Sometimes you have to be prompted or you have to be encouraged by yourself or by others.
Altogether we have these eight kinds of consciousness. The first is with pleasure, with knowledge, unprompted. The second one is with pleasure, with knowledge, prompted. The third is with pleasure, without knowledge, unprompted. Sometimes although we do meritorious deeds, we do without understanding or knowledge. Sometimes we may give something to somebody or we may offer something to somebody. But if we do not invoke this understanding into our minds, then that understanding is not in our minds. Our consciousness is not accompanied by that understanding. Sometimes we do good things not paying much attention. In such a case our consciousness will be without knowledge or will not be accompanied with knowledge. Suchh types of consciousness can also arise.
Sayàdaw: When the consciousness arises without being induced or encouraged, that is called unprompted. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself, or others have to encourage you, or the circumstances encourage you to do something. Then it is called 'prompted'.
Sometimes the consciousness is accompanied by indifferent feeling. That means neutral feeling. Your consciousness is not accompanied by pleasurable feeling or displeasurable feeling, but it is accompanied by this neutral feeling. When it is accompanied by neutral feeling, we have these four typs of consciousness.
There are altogether eight types of wholesome consciousness pertaining to the sense-sphere. These eight types of consciousness arise in us whenever we do something good, whenever we do meritorious deeds, whenever we study Dhamma, whenever we practice Dhamma, or when we teach, or we learn, or when we do charity.
Since these eight types of consciousness are wholesome, they give results. Their results are of two kinds - identical results and non-identical results. The eight resultant consciousnesses given below are the identical results of these eight types of wholesome consciousness. Since the types of consciousness. Since the types of consciousness are identical, I do not repeat them for resultant or functional. I only give the circles or zeroes. You will have to repeat them as with pleasure, with knowledge, unprompted; with pleasure, with knowledge, prompted and so on. These are the identical results of the above eight types of consciousness.
There are non-identical results of these eight types of consciousness also. They are the ones we studied last week among the 18 rootless consciousness. You remember that there are seven resultants of Akusala (unwholesome) and eight resultants of Kusala (wholesome). They are the non-identical results of these eight types of wholesome consciousness.
When a Buddha or an Arahant does something good for example preach the Dhamma, then one of these eight types of functional consciousness will arise in the Buddha or in the Arahant. When the same type of consciousnesses as wholesome consciousnesses arise in Arahants or Buddhas, they become functional because they do not give any results and they are not the results of anything. So they are called 'functional'. We talked about functional consciousness last week I think. There are three functional consciousnesses among the 18 rootless consciousnesses. They are like this. So when these eight types of consciousness arise in Arahants or in Buddhas, they become functional. Actually they are the same identical kinds of consciousnesses.
That is why Arahants are said to be those who do not have either Kusala or Akusala. Since they have eradicated all mental defilements, there can be no unwholesome consciousness for Arahants. There are no wholesome consciousnesses for Arahants either. Since they have eradicated all the roots for ignorance or attachment, they do not acquire fresh Kamma. Whatever they do is just doing, just the action. It does not bring any results. So sometimes Arahants are described as those who have eradicated both wholesomeness and unwholesomeness. When an Arahant for example pays homage to the Buddha, he does not get Kusala or he does not get merit. It is just an action for him.
Altogether there are 24 of these types of consciousness. Up to this point we have 54 types of consciousness - 12 unwholesome, 18 rootless, and 24 beautiful consciousnesses of the sense-sphere. These 54 are called consciousness pertaining to the sense-sphere, Kàmavacara Cittas. Among the 24 we are now studying, the first eight ar Kusala, the second eight are resultant and the third eight are functional. These are the 54 types of consciousness which pertain to the sense-sphere, which human beings, animals and Devas frequently experience.
The next group is consciousness pertaining to the form-sphere, Rùpavacara Cittas. 'Form-sphere' means the world of Brahmas. Above the human realm there are realms of celestial beings. Broadly speaking the first group of realms is the Deva realm. Above the Deva realm there are the Brahma realms. Deva realms belong to the sense-sphere, but Brahma realms belong to the form-sphere and the formless-sphere. 'Form-sphere' means that they still have physical bodies although they do not have all the material properties that we have as human beings. So consciousness pertaining to or arising mainly in those realms or in those beings is called 'consciousness pertaining to form-sphere' or 'Rùpavacara Cittas'.These Rùpavacara Cittas are all Jhàna Cittas. I think you are familiar with the term Jhàna. In fact the word 'Zen' is a derivation from the word 'Jhàna'.
In order to experience Rùpavacara Cittas we need to have or we need to attain Jhànas. What do we do to attain Jhànas? In order to attain Jhànas we must practice what is called 'Samatha meditation' (calm meditation or tranquility meditation). There are two kinds of meditation - Samatha meditation and ´Vipassanà meditation. 'Samatha' means calm or tranquility meditation. You can read about them in the ninth chapter of A Manual of Abhidhamma. When a person wants to attain Jhàna, he must practice one of the thirty subjects of meditation out of the forty. There are forty subjects for Samatha meditation. Ten of them do not lead to attainment of Jhàna. The remaining thirty lead to attainment of Jhàna. In order to get Jhàna a person must practice one of the subjects of Samatha meditation.
Let us say a person practices one of the Kasinas. That means he makes a disk of earth or some color and he looks at this disk. If it is anearth disk, he will say, 'earth, earth, earth' thousands and thousands of times. He will look at it and then close his eyes and try to memorize it. When he can visualize the image of the disk without looking at it, he is said to have reached a stage of concentration. After that he doesn't need to look at the disk, but he just visualizes that image in his mind. He dwells upon that image again and again. That image will become more and more refined as his concentration deepens. After reaching that state a time will come when he reaches into the Jhàna state. That means Jhàna consciousness will arise in him. It is a kind of consciousness that is unlike any other consciousness he has experienced before. That Jhàna consciousness which is very concentrated arises in him. When that type of consciousness arises in him, he is said to have attained Jhàna. After the first attainment of Jhàna, he can later have the Jhàna consciousness arise in him many, many times. So he can go into the attainment of it again and again.
That Jhàna consciusness is accompanied by five Jhàna factors - initial application (Vitakka), sustained application (Vicàra), joy (Pìti), happiness (Sukha), and one-pointedness of mind (Ekaggatà). These are the constituents of Jhàna or factors of Jhàna. Actually they are Cetasikas. We are going to study them maybe next week. These are all Cetasikas.
'Initial application' means a mental factor that directs the mind to an object, that takes the mind to the object. That is called 'Vitakka' in Pàli and that is translated as initial application. We will study them in a later lecture.
'Sustained application' is the mental factor which keeps the mind on the object. Initial application takes the mind to the object and sustained application keeps it there.
Initial application is compared to the bee diving towards the flower. Sustained application is compared to the bee buzzing around it. There are other illustrations or similes. We will study them later.
The third is joy or Pìti. The word 'Pìti' is translated in different ways by different authors - joy, happiness, zest, rapture, pleasurable interest. So I think if we want to be specific, it is better to retain the Pàli word 'Pìti' because nobody will know what we mean if we say joy or happiness. This Pìti is not feeling inAbhidhamma. It is something like a precursor to pleasurable feeling. That is why it is translated as pleasurable interest.
Let us take an example. Someone tells you that you are going to enjoy good food. So when you hear this, you have some kind of good state of mind. That is Pìti. When you really enjoy the food, that is the next one which is happiness or Sukha. Pìti and Sukha are compared in this way. When you hear something or see something from a distance which is desirable, then there is Pìti. When you really enjoy it, then there is Sukha or happiness. Actually they arise together or simultaneously or at the same time.
The fifth factor is one-pointedness of mind. Do you know what one-pointedness of mind is ? It is Samàdhi. It is another name for Samàdhi or concentration. Ekaggatà - Eka means one. Agga means object. So mind having one object, that is Ekaggatà. So it is one-pointedness of mind.
These five factors arise with Kàmavacara Cittas also, but with Jhàna Cittas they are highly developed. They are very concentrated. That's why they are called Jhàna factors here. These five factors accompany the first Jhàna. There are altogether five Jhànas (Rùpavacara). These five factors accompany the first Jhàna.
After getting the first Jhàna, you try to be familiar with the Jhàna by entering into it again and again. Then you want to go to the next Jhàna and the next Jhàna and so on. It is like before you get a B.A. degree, you want that degree. After you get that B.A. degree, you want to have a M.A. degree. After that degree you want a Doctorate. Befroe getting first Jhàna, you want to get first Jhàna. Then after getting first Jhàna, you think it is not so good. So you want to eliminate something. So you eliminate Jhàna factors, one after the other. We will see them when we get to the list. There is first Jhàna, second Jhàna, third Jhàna, fourth Jhàna and fifth Jhàna.
When we talk about Jhàna we must be very precise and specific. We must understand what is meant by Jhàna, what is meant by Jhàna factor, and what is meant by Jhàna Citta. These terms are not identical nor are they the same. We need to understand Jhàna, Jhàna factor and Jhàna Citta or jhàna consciousness.
When we say a person attains Jhàna, we mean both Citta and Cetasikas together. To be specific then we must understand what we mean by Jhàna and so on.
What is Jhàna ? Jhàna is a group of Jhàna factors, a group of constituents. In the case of first Jhàna it is a group of five factors, five constituents. They are collectively called Jhàna.
Jhàna factor means each one individually. Each one is called a Jhàna factor. Initial application is a Jhàna factor. Sustained application is a Jhàna factor. When they come together in a group of five, four, three or two, then collectively we call them Jhàna.
Jhàna Citta or Jhàna consciousness is the type of consciousness accompanied by these Jhàna factors. We must understand these three clearly - Jhàna, Jhàna factors and Jhàna Cittas.
These Jhàna Cittas take different objects than the sense-sphere Cittas. The objects of Jhànas are kasina objects, breathing etc. I cannot give you all of them. I told you that there are forty objects of Samatha meditation. Thirty of them lead to Jhàna.
In order to get Jhàna you have to practice Samatha meditation. The subject that you choose will become the object of that Jhàna. If you choose the earth disk, then the image of the earth disk will become the object of the Jhàna. If you choose the colored disk (blue, yellow, red or white), then the image of that disk will become the object of Jhàna.
So there are Kasina objects and you can practice Samatha meditation on breathing. You can also practice Vipassanà on breathing. When you practice Samatha meditation on breathing and get Jhàna, then the object of that Jhàna is breathing. There are many kinds of objects for Jhàna consciousness. They are all concepts or most of them are concepts, not ultimate reality. You look at an earth disk for example. You try to visualize that earth disk in your mind. You create something in your mind. This is a concept, not a real thing.
There are altogether fifteen Rùpavacara Cittas. Let us look at the chart. There are fifteen Rùpavacara Cittas or form-sphere consciousnesses. Five are wholesome. Five are resultant. And five are functional. The first Jhàna is with Vitakka, Vicàra, Pìti, Sukha and Ekaggatà. The first Jhàna is accompaniedby these five factors.
After getting the first Jhàna, you want to get the second Jhàna. You find fault with Vitakka (initial application). Initial application takes your mind to the object. So it is close to distraction. So you think if you can eliminate initial application, your mind will be better concentrated. So you try to eliminate Vitakka by practicing again the meditation you did before, the Samatha meditation. Suppose you are successful. When the second Jhàna arises, there will be no initial application with it because you do not want any initial application to arise. By your power of meditation or will power Vitakka will be eliminated.
In this way one factor is eliminated for each Jhàna. After getting the second Jhàna, you want to go to the third Jhàna. Then after the third Jhàna, you don't even want Pìti because Pìti can make you float on the surface. It is not concentrated enough. So you try to eliminate Pìti. Only Sukha and Ekaggatà remain. This is the fourth Jhàna. After getting the fourth Jhàna, you even think that Sukha is not so good. Happiness is not so good. Happiness is also close to Pìti which is close to Vicàra and so on. So it would be better to have indifferent feeling or equanimity rather than happiness. So you try to eliminate Sukha (happiness). When you get the fifth Jhàna, instead of Sukha there is Upekkhà which is neutral feeling or indifferent feeling. So fourth Jhàna is accompanied by two Jhàna factors and fifth Jhàna is also accompanied by two Jhàna factors. The fourth Jhàna is accompanied by Sukha and Ekaggatà and the fifth Jhàna is accompanied by Upekkhà and Ekaggatà.
There are these five Jhàna consciousnesses of the wholesome type. When a person gets any one of the Jhànas and he dies with the Jhàna intact (That means before he dies, he is able to enter into this Jhàna anytime he likes.), then he will be reborn as a Brahma. His first consciousness there will be one of the resultants of these five. If he gets first Jhàna here, then the first Jhàna resultant will arise there and so on. There are five resultant consciousnesses - first Jhàna, second Jhàna, third Jhàna, fourth Jhàna, fifth Jhàna resultant consciousnesses. There are only identical results for these types of consciousness. There are no non-identical results. The five resultant consciousnesses of Jhàna can only be experienced in the world of Brahmas, only in the form-sphere realm. They cannot arise in humanbeing or in Devas. Howeveer the first five, the wholesome Jhàna consciousnesses, can arise in human beings and in Devas.
When an Arahant practices Samatha meditation and he gets Jhàna, then they are said to be functional for him. They won't give any results for him. They become functional types of consciousness. There are also five functional types of Jhàna consciousness, the same as the wholesome. They are first Jhàna functional, scond Jhàna functional, third Jhàna functional, fourth Jhàna functional and fifth Jhàna functional.
After getting five Jhànas a person may want to go on. Here there is some kind of attitude toward the physical body. Although it is not a corrct attitude, people get these attitudes. There are people who think that because we have this physical body we have suffering. If we don`t have a physical body, we will not suffer. There are a lot of diseases that can arise in our physical bodies. Because we have physical bodies we fight with each other, we quarrel with each other. So such people think if they do not have physical bodies they would be very much happier.
After getting the five Jhànas those persons try to gain higher Jhànas which are called Arùpavacara (consciousness pertaining to the formless-sphere). 'Formless-sphere' means the realms of the Brahmas who only have consciousness and mental factors. They do not have any physical body. In those realms only consciousness and mental factors arise and not the physical body. Without depending on any physical base consciousness can arise in those realms by the power of strong concentration or meditation.
In order to get the Arùpavacara or formless Jhànas first a yogi practices the first five Jhànas. After the fifth Jhàna is attained, the yogi concentrates on the object of the fifth Jhàna. Let us suppose he took the earth disk as the object of his meditation. So he tries to visualize the object in his mind, this time for the attainment of the Arùpavacara Jhàna. He is a person who does not like the physical body. Anything connected with the physical body, anything connected with material things is distasteful to him. He wants to eliminate all these things. The image in his mind relates to the real object, the disk. So he does not like that image also. So he tries to eliminate or remove that image from his mind. First he concentrates on that object, on that image of the kasina disk. And then he just does not pay any attention to that object. He stops paying attention to the object. When he stops paying attention to that very vivid object, that object disappears in his mind. In its place there remains empty space. Now he concentrates on that empty space. He may expand that space to any size, maybe the size of a football field, the size of the world, or the whole universe. Then he concentrates on that empty space and practices meditation. A time will come when his mind reaches the first of the formless Jhànas or the formless Jhàna consciousness arises in him. That formless Jhàna, the first Arùpavacara Jhàna, takes that space as object. That space is just space. so there is no beginning or end and so it is called 'infinite space'. Infinite space is the object of the first formless Jhàna or first Arùpavacara Jhàna.
After getting the first Arùpavacara Jhàna, he wants to go to the second. In order to gain the second Arùpavacara or formles Jhàna, he concentrates on the consciousness of the first Arùpavacara Jhàna saying, 'This consciousness is infinite.' or just 'consciousness, consciousness'. He concentrates on the consciousness of the first Arùpavacara Jhàna. When the hindrances are subdued and when his concentration becomes mature, then the second Arùpavacara Jhàna will arise in him. The second Arùpavacara Jhàna takes the consciousness of the first Arùpavacara Jhàna as object. When he gets the second formless Jhàna, the first one disappears. He no longer has the first one because he now has the higher consciousness.
When he wants to attain the third formless Jhàna, he concentrates on the absence of the first Citta, not on the first Citta, but on the absence of the first Arùpavacara Citta. Please note that because in the manual there is some inaccuracy or some mistakes. In order to get the third Arùpavacara Jhàna a person concentrates on the absence of the first Arùpavacara Citta. We call it nothingness, nothingness of the first Citta because at that moment the first Arùpavacara Citta is no longer with him. So on that nothingness he concntrates saying, 'nothing, nothing, nothing'. And so the third Arùpavacara Jhàna arises in him.
After the third Arùpavacara Jhàna he proceeds to attain the fourth Arùpavacara Jhàna. This time he concentrates on the third Arùpavacara consciousness saying, 'This is sublime. This is peaceful. This is sublime. This is peaaceful.' In time, in due course, he will attain the fourth Arùpavacara Jhàna which is called 'neither perception nor non-perception'. It is a strange name.
So there are altogether four Arùpavacara consciousnesses. They are wholesome consciousnesses. Their names in Pàli are long names. It is difficult to memorize for those who do not know Pàli. They are Âkàsànañcàyatana, Viññànañcàyatana, Âkiñcaññàyatana and Nevasaññànàsaññàyatana. So we now have the four Arùpavacara consciousnesses - first, second, third and fourth.
The objects of these Cittas are the following: 1. for the first Arùpavacara Citta it is infinite space. ('Infinite space' means infinite spce in his mind.) 2. for the second Arùpavacara Citta the object is the consciousness of the first Arùpavacara Citta. 3. for the third Arùpavacara Citta the absence of the first Arùpavacara Citta is the object. 4. for the fourth Arùpavacara Citta the consciousness of the third Arùpavacara is the object. Infinite space and the absence of the first Arùpavacara Citta are just concepts. They are not ultimate things. But the second Arùpavacara and the fourth Arùpavacara Citta take ultimate reality as object because the Citta of the first Arùpavacara Jhàna is an ultimate reality as is the Citta of the third Arùpavacara Jhàna. Infinite space is a concept and absence is also a concept. Cittas are not concepts. Cittas are ultimate things, ultimate reality.
There are altogether twelve Arùpavacara Cittas - four wholesome, four resultant and four functional. They also give identical results. If a person dies with first Arùpavacara Jhàna intact, then he will be reborn as a formless Brahma. His first consciousness there will be the first resultant formless consciousness.
All the Arùpavacara consciousnesses or Cittas have only two Jhàna factors. They are accompanied by indifference and one-pointedness of mind, like the fifth Jhàna. That is why they are reckoned as fifth Jhàna. All the twelve Arùpavacara Cittas are classified as fifth Jhàna because they have two Jhàna factors arising with them.
Let us see the list formless sphere twelve - four wholesome, four resultant and four functional. There is first Arùpavacara Jhàna, second, third and fourth. They all have two Jhàna factors arising with them. They are accompanied by indifference and one-pointedness of mind. The resultants are the same as the wholesome. So there is first, second, third and fourth or consciousness with infinite space as object, consciousness with infinite consciousness as object, consciousness with absence of consciousness as object, and consciousness with neither perception nor non-perception as object. The four functional consciousnesses arise in Buddhas and Arahants. It is the same thing. There are altogether twelve types of formless-sphere consciousnesses.
Sayàdaw: The resultants are the same as the wholesome and the functional are the same as the wholesome. The resultant consciousnesses can only be experienced in the realm of formless Brahmas. But the wholesome and functional Cittas can be experienced in the realm of human beings or in the Brahma world.
The name 'neither perception nor non-perception' - why is the fourth one called 'neither perception nor non-perception'? Here 'perception' does not mean just perception only. 'Perception' here means mind or mental. 'Perception' also means feeling. It also means Sankhàra (mental formations).
The fourth Arùpavacara Jhàna is so refined, so subtle that it is barely perceptable. It is so refined that it could be said there is no mind at all. Although there is no gross consciousness, there is a very refined consciousness there. And so it is called 'neither perception nor non-pèrception'.
It is something like there is just a little water in this cup. Suppose there is a little water here. Someone says, 'There is water in the cup.' Another person says, 'I am thirsty. Please bring me the cup. I want to drink water. Then the first person says, 'There is no water in the cup.' 'There is no water' means there is not enough water for you to drink. There is just a little bit, but whe he says 'there is water', there is a little water there. It is not dry. In the same way there is a very refined state of mental activity in this consciousness. It is so difficult to perceive that it is almost non-existent. Therefore it is called 'neither perception nor non-perception'.
Now let us go to the next one, supramundane consciousness. 'Supramundane consciousness' means those that transcend the mundane state. In order for the supramundane consciousness to arise there must be enlightenment.
Therefore we must understand what is meant by enlightenment inBuddha's teachings, in Buddhism. 'Enlightenment' here means according to the teachings in the Pàli Canon the realization of the Four Noble Truths and direct seeing of Nibbàna because at that moment Nibbàna becomes the object of consciousness. It is also the eradication of mental defilements. This is what we mean by enlightenment. It is very important to understand this word because this word can be used differently by different people. 'Enlightenment' according to the older teachings of Buddhism means the realization of the Four Noble Truths and the eradication of mental defilements.
In order to gain enlightenment one must practice Vipassanà meditation. Without the practice of Vipassanà meditation there can be no enlightenment according to this Abhidhamma teaching. Let us say a person practices Vipassanà meditation and he progresses from one stage to another. Let us say he is successful. At the end of successful Vipassanà there comes enlightenment. At the moment of enlightenment a type of consciousness arises in him which is called in Pàli Magga or Path Consciousness. Path Consciousness arises in him. That consciousness sees the Four Noble Truths, sees Nibbàna directly, and also eradicates some mental defilements altogether. If a person is enlightened, he must have eradicated some of the mental defilements.
Student: Not all of them, just some of them?
Sayàdaw: If he reaches the fourth stage, then all will be gone. There are four stages of enlightenment.
Immediately after Magga Consciousness there follow two or three moments of Fruition Consciousness or Phala consciousness. Magga is always immediately followed by Phala. Path Consciousness is immediaately followed by Fruition Consciousness. There is no gap between Path and Fruition Consciousness.
There are four stages of enlightenment. The first stage is the stage of stream-Entrant (Sotàpanna). 'Stream' here means the stream of Dhamma. When you get into the stream, you are sure to reach the ocean. When you get into the current of a river, you are sure to reach the ocean. A person who has gained the first stage of enlightenment is sure to reach Nibbàna. That is why he is called a 'Stream-Entrant', a person who has gone into the sure Path that leads to Nibbàna. He is a person who has first reached the Stream of Dhamma.
It is said that after becoming a Sotàpanna, a person will be reborn at most seven times. After the seventh rebirth there will be no more rebirth for that person. That person will attain final Nibbàna.
After becoming a Sotàpanna, a person may wish to reach a higher stage. That person may practice Vipassanà again and gain the next stage of enlightenment. That is the stage of Once-Returner. The Pàli word is Sakadàgàmi. 'Once-Returner' means he will return to this human world only once more. That means he becomes a Once-Returner here He may be reborn as a Deva or a Brahma, but he will come back to this human word only once. After that he will gain final Nibbàna.
Then the third stage is the stage of Non-Returner. A person practices Vipassanà again and reaches the third stage. The third stage is called the stage of Non-Returner. That means he will not return to this sense-sphere. He will be reborn in the world of Brahmas. There are five realms of Brahmas which are called Pure Abodes. He will be reborn in these Pure Abodes after he becomes a Non-Returner in this life.
The next stage is the stge of an Arahant. 'Arahant' means a worthy one or a person who has eradicated all mental defilements. These are the four stages of enlightenment. For each stage there is a Path Consciousness and a Fruition Consciousness. For the first stage there is Path Consciousness and Fruition Consciousness. For the second stage there are two, for the third there are two and for the fourth stage there are two. So we get altogether eight types of supramundane consciousness.
Sayàdaw: He may come back once. That is at most or he may after being reborn as a Deva or a Brahma practice meditation and become an Arahant. Then in that case he will not come back here again.
Student: Commenting about Mahàyàna viewpoint on attaining enlightenment in other realms.
Sayàdaw: That may be different. In order to become a Buddha you have to be a human being. Only a human being caan become a Buddha, not a Deva, not a Brahma. A Deva cannot become a Buddha, only human beings. So you have to come back to human realm and fulfill Paramitas (perfections). It is only in the human realm that Paramitas can be fulfilled to the utmost degree.
A Sotàpanna eradicates some mental defilements altogether, but some remain with him. Then a Sakadàgàmi, a Once-Returner, does not eradicate any more mental defilements, but attenuates them, makes them weaker and weaker. Then the third stage, the Anàgàmi eradicates some more mental defilements. When a person reaches the fourth stage, all the remaining mental defilements are eradicated. After reaching the fourth stage, a person's mind becmes totally pure. There are no more mental defilements for him.
With regard to enlightenment we need to know the eight factors of Magga, the eight factors of Path. I think they are not strange to you. They are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. They are called factors of Magga or factors of Path.
You know there are three steps to be taken by those who want to make spiritual progress. The first step is Sìla (morality). The second second step is concentration (Samàdhi) and the third step is wisdom (Paññà). Here the middle three, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood, constitute the first stage which is sìla or morality.
Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration belong to concentration group. Right Understanding and Right Thought belong to Paññà or understanding group. These are the eight factors of Magga.
They are also Cetasikas. Here also we need to undeerstand Magga factor and Magga Citta or Path factor and Path Citta. Magga means a group of seven or eight of these factors. These factors as a whole or as a group are called 'Magga' or 'Path'. 'Path factors' means each one of them individually. 'Magga consciousness' or 'Path consciousness' means the consciousness accompanied by these Magga factors. So we have Magga, Magga factor and Magga Citta or Path, Path factor and Path Citta.
The object of all supramundane Cittas is Nibbàna. All supramundane Cittas whethr Path Consciousness or Fruition Consciousness take Nibbàna as object. There is only one object for them.
There are altogether eight Supramundane Consciousnesses - four Path Consciousnesses and four Fruition Consciousnesses. They can become forty. Let us look at the chart. There is First Path Consciousness, Second Path Consciousness, Third Path Consciousness and Fourth Path Consciousness. The results are the same - First Fruition Consciousness, Second Fruition Consciousness, Third Fruition Consciousness and Fourth Fruition Consciousness.
In actual practice or in actual experience the First Path Consciousness is always immediately followed by the First Fruition Consciousness. The Second Path Consciousness is immediately followed by the Second Fruition Consciousness and so on.
In the Supramundane Cittas there are no functional consciousnesses, no functional types because Path Consciousness does not arise again in that person. By arising only once it can do its function of eradicating mental defilements altogether. so there is no use for it to arise again. If it were to arise again, there would be no function for it. Path Consciousness does not arise again in a given person. Therefore there can be no functional consciousness in the Supramundane Cittas. There are only wholesome and resultant consciousnesses, no functional consciousnesses.
Student: Does that mean that in one life one attains only one stage?
Sayàdaw: No. One can attain any of these stages - first, first and second, first second and third, first second third and fourth. One can achieve all four stages in this very life or it may take many lives.
Student: How do you know if you have achieved two stages if Path Consciousness only occurs once in your life?
Sayàdaw: 'Occurs once' means First Path Consciousness occurs only once. It does not occur again. If you reach Once-Returner, then that particular consciousness will not arise in you again. It will arise only once. When you get to the next higher stage, then the third type of Path Consciousness will arise, not the second type of Path Consciousnss.
There are eight types of Supramundane Consciousness or forty types of Supramundane Consciousness. In order to get forty we multiply eight by five, the five Jhànas. Each one of the eight types of Supramundane Consciousness is multiplied by five Jhànas. They come to be called 'First Jhàna First Path Consciousness, Second Jhàna First Path Consciousness, Third Fourth and Fifth First Path Consciousness. Then there is Second Jhàna First Path Consciousness, Second Jhàna Second Path Consciousness and so on.The dots represent all these typs of consciousness in between. And so we go to the last one which is the Fourth Fruition Cnsciousness. So there is First Jhàna Fourth Fruition Consciousness, Second Jhàna Fourth Fruition Consciousness, Third Fourth Fifth Jhàna fourth Fruition Consciousness.
It is strange that we have the name both Jhàna and Magga or Path because if it is Jhàna, it cannot be Path. If it is Path, it is not Jhàna. Jhàna takes concepts and other things as objects. Path and Fruition Consciousness take Nibbàna as object. They have different objects. So they cannot be both Jhàna and Path or Fruition at the same moment. Here they are called 'Jhàna' because they resemble the Rùpavacara Jhànas. They are not actually Jhànas. They resemble Rùpavacara Jhànas by being accompnied by five, four, three or two Jhàna factors. That is why they are called 'First JhànaFirst Fruition Consciousness' and so on. They are not actually Jhàna consciousness. They are Path and Fruition Consciousness.
Some of the factors belong to both Jhàna and Magga. For example initial application is one of the Jhàna factors and it is also one of the Path Factors. right Thought is nothing but initial application. 'Right Thought' really means initial application. Many factors belong to Jhàna and Magga. When they arise with Path Consciousness they are not technically Jhàna. They could be called 'Jhàna' but not in a technical sense. When we say 'Jhàna', we mean form-sphere consciousness and formless-sphere consciousness. When we say 'Supramundane Consciousness- Jhàna Consciousness', it means that it resembles the Rùpavacara consciousness in being accompanied by a number of Jhàna factors.
Student: Can you concentrate on Nibbàna when you don't know what Nibbàna is?
Sayàdaw: Actually no. Nibbàna can be taken as a direct object only at the moment of enlightenment, only at the moment of Path Consciousness. We say, 'I do this meritorious deed with Nibbàna in mind or with the object of attaining Nibbàna'. Howevr Nibbàna cannot be taken as a direct object by those who have not gained enlightenment. When we say that we take Nibbàna as object when we do meritorious deeds, that Nibbàna is not the real Nibbàna, but just a name or something in your mind. Nibbàna can only be taken as object at the moment of enlightenment.
Student: We are all having moments of consciousness all the time even though we don't know what the categories are. To get the Jhànas do you have to know these things or do people sometimes have an experience that you would say, 'Oh, that is Jhàna.' Can this happen naturally or are these achieved only through meditation?
Sayàdaw: It is achieved only through meditation. It cannot come naturally because you need to have relly strong Samàdhi, strong concentration, to get Jhànas. Without the practice of meditation that kind of concentrtion cannot be achieved.
Sayàdaw: They are done at the moment of Path Consciousness. At the moments of Fruition Consciousness the seeing of Nibbàna is also there. But the eradication of mental defilements is done at the moment of Path Consciousness only. The function of Fruition Consciousness is just to keep them eradicated. It is something like that.
Path Consciousness is like you putting out a fire when you pour water on it just once. Then in order that it may not burn again you pour more water n it. So pouring more water on it is like Fruition Consciousness. The first pouring of water is like Path Consciousness.
It is strange that all Four Noble Truths are seen or penetrated in one single moment. There are similes for Path Consciousness having these four functions at the same moment. One is the simile of a lamp or a candle. It burns the wick. It burns the oil. It dispels darkness and it produces light at one and the same time. In the same way when Path Consciousness arises it fully knows the First Noble Truth. It eradicates the Second Noble Truth. It sees or realizes the Third Noble Truth. And it develops the Fourth Noble Truth. You may read that in the first sermon the Buddha gave his five disciples.
Student: For the First Path Consciousness to arise one must develp at least the first Jhàna. is that correct?
Sayàdaw: No. Jhànas are not prerequisites for the attainment of enlightenment. There are two kinds of Noble Persons. The first are called those who gain enlightenment through Jhàna. There are others who do not practice Samatha meditation, but who only practice pure Vipassanà and gain enlightenment. So Jhàna is not a prerequisite , is not indispensable for the attainment of enlightenment. You can practice in two ways. You can practice so that you get Jhàna. Then you make that Jhàna the basis for Vipassanà meditation or the object of Vipassanà meditation. Persons using this method are called those who have the vehicle of Jhàna. You may also just practice Vipassanà meditation and gain enlightenment. People that practice in this way are called dry Vipassanà people. They are without Jhàna.
Student: Can you develop Vipassanà without concentration?
Sayàdaw: No. You need concentration, but not so strong as the concentration in Samatha meditation. In order to develop Jhàna you need very strong one-pointedness of mind, very strong concentration. In Vipassanà you need what is called momentary concentration. It should be good concentration but not as slid as in Samatha.
At first when you practice meditation, the mind goes here and there. You have thoughts and hindrances. So long as there are hindrances, you do not get momentary concentration. Little by little these hindrances disappear from your mind and are gradually subdued. A time will come when you can keep your mind on the meditation object, on the chosen object for a long period of time - for fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes. There may be very little going out of your mind. Even when it goes out, you can catch it. Such a time is when you have momentary concentration. When you gain momentary concentration, you begin to see things as they are. You begin to see mind and matter really clearly, one unmixed with the other. Then you see the rising and disppearing of things and so on.Without that momentary concentration there can be no seeing of reality. In Vipassanà you also need concentration.
The difference is that in Samatha meditation you keep on your chosen object only. You do not pay attention to other objects. You do not pay attention to your thoughts, to distractions or whatever. You try to keep your mind on one object. But in Vipassanà meditation you choose one object and that is the 'home object' of your meditation. But you pay attention to other objects when they become prominent at the present moment. That is the difference. In Vipassanà meditation the objects may be different at different moments. At one moment the object may be the breath or the movement of the abdomen. At another moment it my be a noise from outside. It may be your thoughts. But whatever the objects are, you are always aware of them. You are always mindful of them. When your mindfulnes and concentration develop, these distractions come to you less frequently until they may not come to you at all. So you need concentration in Vipassanà meditation also.
OK. We have to cover many things in a single talk. So it may be little difficult to digest.
Sàdhu! Sàdhu! Sàdhu!