(Given at Zen Center, San Francisco)


Lecture #8


Thought Processes I

Five-Sense-Door Thought Process



So we can say that resultant consciousness, the types of resultant consciousness are caused by Kamma. So they have causes. The other types of consciousness (unwholesome, wholesome and functional) have no cause. They are not caused by Kamma. Both those that are caused by Kamma and those that are not caused by Kamma need some conditions fot their arising. Without the conditions no consciousness can arise. The conditions are the objects and the senses. The coming together and meeting of objects and senses are the necessary conditions for consciousness to arise. The consciousnesses caused by Kamma still need these conditions in this life to arise.


In one of the Suttas in the SaÑyutta NikÈya Buddha said: "Depending upon the eye as support or as a base and visible data as an object arises eye consciousness. owing to the coming together of the three arises contact. Depending upon contact feeling arises..." In this Sutta Buddha taught us about the conditions for consciousness to arise. Eye consciousness arises depending upon the eye and visible data or the visible object. For eye consciousness or seeing consciousness to arise we need the eye for a physical basis for its arising and an object. The definition of Citta as you will remember is that which is aware of an object. Without an object there can be no consciousness at all. Consciousness needs an object to hang on to. These are the two conditions required for the arising of consciousness. In this case the eye is needed and the object which is seen is needed.


"Owing to the coming together of the three" means the eye, visible data or visible object and eye consciousness. "Owing to the coming together of the three, there arises contact." It is important. In the PÈÄi text the word is Sa~gati. Sa~gati can mean just the coming together or owing to the coming together. The Commentaries interpretted  [2] it as meaning "Owing to coming together". So not just "coming together" is contact. Contact is the result of the coming together of the threethe senses, the object and consciousness.


It is like when you put two electric wires together there is a spark. The spark arises when these two wires come together. So the spark is the result of the touching of two wires. As soon as the two wires touch, the spark arises. It is not just the touching; the spark is a different thing that comes out of the contact of the two wires.


In the same way contact (Phassa) is the outcome of the coming together of the three - the eye, the visible object and eye consciousness. So the conditions for eye consciousness to arise are the eye and the visible object.


The conditions for ear consciousness are the ear and the audible object. The conditions for nose consciousness are the nose sensitivity and the odorous object. The conditions for tongue consciousness are the taste buds and sapid object. The conditions for body consciousness are the body sensitivity and tactile object.


In the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification, ch. XVIII) this same idea is stated.


"The pentad that has contact as the fifth arises not from the eye,

Or from things seen, or from something that is in between.

Due to conditions it comes to be formed as well,

Just as a sound from a beaten drum."


"Pentad that has contact as the fifth" meens simply contact, feeling, volition and consciousness (Citta). For our understanding here we may say just Citta. "Arises not from the eye" means not from the eye alone. "Not from things seen alone" because there are always visible things in the world, but we do not always have eye consciousness. Only when we see and only when the visible object comes into the avenue of the eye do we have this eye consciousness. "Or not something that is in between" - so the condition is not something that is in between the [3] eye and the visible thing. It may mean that it is apart from the eye and the visible thing.


"Due to conditions it comes to be and formed as well" - so it comes to be, it arises due to conditions. Since it arises due to conditions, it is called formed. In PÈÄi it is called Sa~khÈra or Sa~khata.


"Just as the sound from a beaten drum" - so there is no sound in the drum or in let us say the stick. But when the drum is beaten, the sound arises. In the same way consciousness arises from the coming together of the senses and the objects.


There is another statement often quoted in Buddhist books. It is from a small treatise called Sacca-sa~khepa. It is very difficult to get hold of this book in the West. It is a treatise on some topics of Abbidhamma. It is written in verses, but it is not as popular as the Abhidbammatthasa~gaha. In that book it is said: "Just as in the coming together of a sun crystal, fuel and the sun's rays, fire, though nonexistent previously, comes into being, so does consciousness arise depending upon the coming together of bases, objects etc." Maybe they did not have magnifying glasses in those times. The PÈÄi word is MaÓi. MaÓi can be translated as ruby, or glass, or whatever. For our purpose we can say on the coming together of a magnifying glass, fuel or something to burn, the sun's rays, fire comes into being. Fire was not previously existent in the fuel, or in the rays of the sun, or in the magnifying glass. But when these three come together fire comes into being. In the same way consciousness comes into being when bases or senses and objects meet together. So the conditions for Cittas to arise are the objects and the senses. Without the objects and the senses no consciousness can arise.


So we can say that although not every type of consciousness is caused by Kamma, yet every consciousness needs some conditions to arise. There [4] are more conditions than just objects and senses. Although there is a visible object and we have eyes, if there is no light, eye consciousness cannot arise. If we do not really pay attention, eye consciousness may not arise. So attention and light are also conditions for eye consciousness to arise. The more important conditions are the objects and the senses.


The objects are divided into six kinds in Abhidhamma. Objects are those upon which subjects or Cittas and Cetasikas hang on. They are that which Cittas and Cetasikas hang on to or adhere to. Or they are those in which subjects delight.


Objects in PÈÄi are called Èlambana or ÈrammaÓa. There are these two words which mean the same thing, object. “Œlambana” means something to hang on to. It is often compared to a staff. When you are old and cannot walk well, you have to lean on a staff. In the same way Cittas and Cetasikas lean onto the objects. In that sense the word is Èlambana. There is another word ÈrammaÓa. In this word the root is "ram", R-A-M, which means delight. So “ÈrammaÓa” means something in which Citta takes delight. Citta must always have an object. Without an object Citta cannot exist. So Citta is said to take delight in objects. Objects are those which mind hangs on to or those which mind delights in.


The objects are divided into six kinds in Abhidhamma. The first five are not difficult to understand. The first one is visible object which is often translated as form or color. The second one is audible object, or sound, or voice. The third is odorous object or smell. The fourth is sapid object or taste. The fifth is tangible object. That is touch.


The sixth kind of object is called “dhamma object”. Here also “dhamma” cannot be translated. Those that are not included in the first five are all included in the sixth, Dhamma object. So “dhamma” can mean many things here.


[5] Dhamma objects here are comprised of the following six kinds. The first one is sensitive material qualities. There,are five of them. If you look at the list of material qualities from the last lecture you will see that there are eye sensitivity, ear sensitivity, nose sensitivity, tongue sensitivity and body sensitivity. These sensitive materials are called 'Dhamma objects'. The second group is subtle material qualities. There are 16 subtle material qualities. They are water element, femininity, masculinity, heart, vital principle, nutriment, space and so on. The others are called 'gross material qualities'. 'Gross' means those that are not difficult to perceive. The subtle material qualities are more difficult to perceive. The subtle material qualities are called IDhamma objects'. Cittas, Cetasikas, NibbÈna and PaÒÒatti or concept ('Concept' means name-concept and thing-concept-') are called 'dhamma objects'. So these six are collectively called ‘dhamma objects'.


Student: Citta can be an object?

Sayadaw: Yes. Citta can be the object of another Citta. That is more evident when you practice meditation and are mindful of your thoughts. One Citta is the object of another Citta. So Cittas and Cetasikas can both be objects and those that take objects. There are these six kinds of objects taught in Abhidhamma.


The senses are often called 'doors' in Abhidhamma. They are like doors through which people enter a building. These senses are called 'doors' because they are those through which objects gain entrance into the mind. This is figuratively speaking. Actually objects do not come and go through our eyes or ears and so on, but they gain entrance through these doors into our mind. more correctly they are those through which consciousness arises.


Seeing consciousness arises through eye sensitivity. Ear consciousness [6] arises through ear sensitivity and so on. These sensitive parts of the eyes on are called 'doors'. 'Eye door' means eye sensitivity. 'Ear door' means ear sensitivity. 'Nose door' is nose sensitivity. 'Tongue door' is tongue sensitivity. 'Body door' is body sensitivity which exists throughout the body. They are objects of mind because they are included in the Dhamma objects. They can be the objects of mind. Here they are the doors through which consciousness arises. They are material properties.


Number six is mind-door. Mind-door is Bhava~ga. I will explain it later when we study the diagram of the thought process.


There are six senses in Buddhism, not five. The sixth sense is mind, not intuition or something of that sort which is popularly known here. These are the six senses or doors through which consciousness arises. When these objects and these doors come into contact, then consciousness arises. The six doors correspond to the six objects. Visible object' is experienced through eye door. Audible object is experienced through ear door and so on.


There is another classification that it is good to know. That is the classification by way of bases. That is the material bases for consciousness or seats of consciousness. 'Eye base' means eye sensitivity. So eye base and eye door are the same. Sometimes they are called 'eye door' and sometimes they are called 'eye base', but they are the same. Ear base is ear sensitivity. Nose base is nose sensitivity. Tongue base is tongue sensitivity. Body base is body sensitivity. The sixth is the heart-base. Heart-base is something that depends upon the blood in the heart.


We need to understand the bases also because when we study the thought processes, we need to know which consciousness depends upon which bases. For example eye consciousness depends upon eye base. Other [7] types of consciousness depend upon heart-base. We have to know on which base depends a certain type of consciousness. We need to understand these three before we go to the thought processes themselves. Actually they (objects, doors and bases) are the conditions for consciousness to arise.


Now we come to thought processes. There are broadly speaking two kinds of thought processes. one is five-sense-door thought process. Those are the thought processes that arise through the five sense doors (eye, ear, nose, tongue and body). The other is mind-door thought process, thought processes which arise through mind-door.


Today we will study the five-door thought process, actually the first of the five-door thought processes, eye door thought process. Eye door thought process arises in our mind when we see an object, when we see a visible object.


Please look at the chart, the diagram of the thought process. You are not new to the thought process. When we studied the rootless consciousness, we had occasion to be acquainted with the thought process. Do you remember the mango simile? This diagram is the same as the one given there, but there is more detail.


First let me explain to you the Bhavahga which is mind-door. We can divide consciousness broadly into two kinds, active consciousness and inactive consciousness. I don't want to use unconscious or sub-conscious for inatctive. Inactive consciousness is that type of consciousness that arises mostly when we are asleep or when we have fainted. That type of consciousness arises continuously. They are called 'inactive’ because they do not take present objects as object. They are passive or inactive. These moments of consciousness arise intermittently with active consciousness throughout our lives. Actually the inactive consciousnesses are like buffers between active moments of consciousness. In our lives [8] we have a flow of inactive gonsciousness, the active, then inactive, then active. It goes on and on like this.


Student; When you are asleep, but you are dreaming, do you have active or inactive consciousness?

SayÈdaw: in our books it is said you dream when you are neither asleep nor really awake. It is called 'sleeping like a monkey'. It is believed that monkeys never sleep soundly. They are always alert. According to thought processes we have to put the dreams on the active side of consciousness.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: That is why yogis who have reached the upper levels of VipassanÈ do not need much sleep. They can go on for two, three, four days without sleep.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: The meditative mind or concentrated mind can keep them awake and can keep their physical bodies in good shape. This is the power of mind over matter. They don't feel any fatigue or sleepiness even though they don't sleep at all, even though it is 72 hours or more than that.


Those inactive moments are called 'Bhava~ga’ in PÈÄi. 'bhava’ means life and 'a~ga’ means part or constituent. So ‘bhava~ga’ means the constituents of life. If they do not arise, life would have ended. There would be no life when they and others have ceased. So they are like constituents or parts of life. So they aee called ‘bhava~ga’. Bhava~ga is translated as life continuum by many authors. These Bhava~ga moments and active thought moments alternate all through our life.


Bhava~ga moments are technically called 'process-freed' (VÊthimutta). The active moments are called 'process consciousness'. Bhava~ga is inactive. Process consciousness is active.


[9] When a visible object comes into the avenue of the eye or we can say when a visible object strikes at the eye, it strikes at the flow of Bhava~ga also. Before the present visible object strikes at the door or base of the eye there is the flow of Bhava~ga. The object strikes the eye or comes into the avenue of the eye. When it strikes the eye, the Bhava~ga is flowing rapidly. So at the moment of striking there is one moment. After it is struck there is shaking or it vibrates. It shakes for two moments. After the two moments it stops. It ceases to arise. After the visible object strikes the eye, three moments of Bhava~ga arise. The first is past Bhava~ga and then there are two vibrating moments. The first is called vibrating Bhava~ga and the second is called ‘Arrested Bhava~ga’ or in PÈÄi 'Upaccheda Bhava~ga’, 'cut off Bhava~ga’. So there are three moments of Bhava~ga in this thought process.


The life-span of matter is said to be 17 times that of a thought moment. Matter exists for 17 thought moments. Here in this example the visible object arises and stays for 17 thought moments before it disappears. The first line on the diagram reads duration of present visible object. This begins with the first Citta. The first, second and third Cittas are Bhava~gas. The first is past after being struck. The second is shaking or vibrating. The third is the last of the Bhava~gas, the arrested Bhava~ga. After these three arises the five-sense-door-adverting Citta and so on.


          The object of these Bhava~gas is different from that of the following Cittas. In fact Bhava~ga Cittas are identical with the first Citta in a given life. The first Citta is called ‘relinking consciousness'. Actually this relinking consciousness repeats itself throughout the life. When it first arises, it is called ‘relinking consciousness'. When it arises later throughout our lives, it is called 'Bhava~ga’ (life [10] continuum). When it arises for the last time in our livest it is called 'death onsciousness'. In one given life the relinking consciousness, the Bhava~ga and the death consciousness are identical in content and identical in the object that they take. The object that is taken by relinicing consciousness is taken by the Bhava~ga consciousness also. They must be the same.


The objects of relinking or the first consciousness in a life are said to be of three kinds. One is Kamma. The object of relinking consciousness sometimes is Kamma. Kamma which renews itself at the moment of dying or Kamma which is performed at the moment of dying. Kamma becomes the object of death consciousness. The object may be some things which are instrumental in performing some Kamma. That means if for example the Kamma is giving, then those things that are given or those that accept the giving are sign of Kamma. If the Kamma is killing, then the guns, the arrows or-the animals killed may be called 'the sign of Kamma’, while killing itself is Kamma. Sometimes it is Gati Nimitta (sign of destiny). That means t1le sign of the existence into which one is g&ing to be reborn arises. They are signs of the next existence. If someone is going to be reborn as a human being, he may see the inside walls of the mother's womb. If he is going to be reborn in the celestial worlds, celestial nymphs and celestial mansions may be seen. If he is going to be reborn in hell, he may see hell-fire, fearful dogs and other things. They are called 'Gati Nimitta’ (sign of destiny).


The relinking consciousness takes one of these three as object (Kamma, sign of Kamma and sign of destiny). If the relinking Citta takes Kamma as object, then throughout the whole life the Bhava~gas take that Kamma as object. Death consciousness also takes that Kamma as object. So in one given life the object of relinking consciousness, [11] Bhava~ga consciousness and death consciousness is the same, identical.


Here the first, second and third consciousnesses are Bhava~gas- So they do not take the present visible object, but Kamma, sign of Kamma or sign of destiny which was the object of the relinking Citta.


Student: Does relinking consciousness arise at birth?

SayÈdaw: No, not at birth, at conception.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: It was the Buddha who saw this. He saw it through his supernormal power or supernormal knowledge that he gained just before he became the Buddha. During the second watch of the night prior to his enlightenment he gained the knowledge of seeing beings dying in one existence and being reborn in another. This comes from his supernormal knowledge.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: For other beings it may not be known. If you get that kind of supernormal knowledge, it may be known. It was not only the Buddha that possessed that kind of supernormal knowledge. There were many disciples at the time of the Buddha who possessed such knowledge.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: Bhava~ga is the relinking consciousness repeating itself in one life. Kamma is very powerful. Relinking consciousness is caused by Kamma, as are the Bhava~gas and others. They are resultant types of consciousness.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: I will explain it next week because we are going to study the death thought process then. It is a very good question. I always want to explain it. Many people misunderstand this. It is important to understand how the next life is conditioned by something in the present life or in the past lives and how they differ one from the other. So next week I will explain that.



[12] Where are we now? We have only gone through three moments. After the three Bhava~ga moments the five-sense-door-adverting Cittb arises. It turns the mind or consciousness towards the present object. It begins the active moments of consciousness. It is turning in this case to the visible object and it is turning toward the active thought moments. It is called five-sense-door-adverting (PaÒcadvÈrÈvajjana).


After that you see the object with eye consciousness. Following it there is receiving consciousness. After seeing it, the consciousness receives it. Then there is investigating. The consciousness investigates to see if it is a desirable object or an undesirable object. The next one is determining consciousness. This Citta determines that it is a desirable or an undesirable object.


After determining come seven moments of what are called 'Javana’. 'Javana’ means running or force. It is during these seven moments that the object is thoroughly experienced. The other thought moments also experience the object, but they do not experience as forcefully as do these seven moments. These moments are called 'Javana’. They have force, not simply because they repeat themselves for seven times, but even when they just arise once , they have this force to fully enjoy or fully experience the object.


In PÈÄi the word 'Anubhavana’ is used. That means to enjoy. However when you are angry, you do not say that you enjoy it. So I think the word 'experience' is a better word for that. During these seven moments the object is fully experienced.


Two moments follow the Javanas. They are called the 'registering moments'. In P-ali they are called 'TadÈrammaÓa’. Actually they are the after-taste of the Javana moments. It is said in our books that they arise twice or they do not arise at all. They never arise just once. If they arise, they arise twice or they do not arise at all.


[13] Now we reach the 17th moment. At the end of the 17th moment the visible object disappears. When the visible object disappears, no mort, active thought moments arise. Naturally the Bhava~ga follow. There are many thought moments of Bhava~ga after the active thought process and many thought moments of Bhava~ga before the active thought process. We always have Bhava~gas between the active thought processes. There are lots of Bhava~ga moments between two active thought processes.


Student: So if I am sitting here looking at you sitting in a chair, each perception of you sitting in a chair is separated by Bhava~gas. There are actually spaces between my perception of you sitting in a chair?

Sayadaw: That's right.


Student: When you say there are many moments is it like 20 million or 100 million?

SayÈdaw: Nobody knows how many moments. You know in a second there can be billions of thought moments. So there can be hundreds of thousands of thought moments between two thought processes. There is a saying (I don't know how correct it is.) that for the Buddha, only two Bhava~gas intervened between one thought process and another. For Venerable SÈriputta 16 thought moments intervened between one thought process and another. But for others many thousands of Bhava~ga moments intervene.


We have not come to the end of seeing an object. This is the end of one thought process. Now in this one thought process we have to understand what types of consciousness may arise in 'each of these moments in the thought process. The first, second and third Cittas are represented by what types of consciousness? Bhava~ga. Among the 89 or 121 types of consciousness 19 are said to be Bhava~ga. They

[14] are the two investigating consciousnesses accompanied by indifference, the eight beautiful resultant KÈmÈvacara (sense-sphere) consciousnesses the five R|pÈvacara (form-sphere) resultant consciousnesses and the four Ar|pÈvacara (formless-sphere) resultant consciousnesses. Altogether we have 19. These 19 Cittas are said to have the function of Bhava~ga. So the first, second and third Cittas in this thought process are represented by one of these 19 Cittas.


Number four is represented by what? You can easily find that out. PaÒcadvÈrÈvajjana (five-sense-door-adverting). It is from among the Ahetuka (rootless) Cittas. In the chart it is the first Citta in the fourth column.


Then there is receiving consciousness. There are two Cittas that perform this function. one is in the second column and one is in the third column.


There are three investigating consciousnesses. There is one in the second column and two in the third column.


Next is determining consciousness. Determining consciousness is represented by Manodvgrgvajjana. It is the second Citta in the fourth column. ManodvÈrÈvajjana (mind-door-adverting) has two functions. When it arises in the five-sense-door thought process, it has the function of determining. When it arises in the mind-door thought process, it has the function of mind-door-adverting. So the eighth Citta in this thought process is represented by ManodvÈrÈvajjana.


The Javanas are represented by twelve Akusala (unwholesome) Cittas, one smile-producing Citta, eight beautiful wholesome sense-sphere Cittas and eight beautiful functional sense-sphere Cittad. That is all because form-sphere and formless~-sphere Cittas do not take a visible object. So we must find these Javanas among the KÈmÈvacara consciousnesses.



[15] The last two TadÈrammaÓa (registering) are represented by the two investigating consciousnesses accompanied by indifferent feeling and the.eight sense-sphere resultant consciousnesses.


This is only the first of a series of thought processes when we see an object. After this thought process we have only seen a visible object. We have not seen let us say a man. We have seen only the visible object. We need some more thought processes in order to say, “I see a man”. The others are given on page two of the notes.


When we say, "I see a man. I see a woman. I see a cow," it is a very complicated process. We need altogether five sets of thought processes in order to be able to say, "I see a man. I see a woman. I see a dog. I see a cow." The first one is the one we have studied, the eye-door thought process. It takes the present object.


After that process there must follow another kind of thought process through mind-door. It takes the past object. Visible object disappears after 17 thought moments. Then the consciousness remembers the past object. So that thought process arises through mind-door. One series of mind-door thought processes must take place. There may be hundreds of mind-door thought processes. This is called 'grasping the past'.


After grasping the past, there is a mind-door thought process which grasps the whole group of visible data. During this thought process our mind takes a composite image of the thing we see, the whole of the visible data that we see. It is called 'synthesis' in Shwe Zan Aung's book. First you see in our example the different parts of a man, the different visible data of what we call 'a man'. At this stage we see the whole of the visible data comprising the man. We have not come to the man yet. The object of this stage and the preceding ones are still in the realm of ultimate truth because it is still visible data.


[16] At the next stage thing-concept is taken by the mind-door thought process. Now we see a man. We cannot say that we see a man, but in our mind we see the object that is called 'a man'. At this stage the object becomes a thing-concept. We do not see the visible data at this moment. We see the shape or form of the visible data.'


After the thing-concept we come to naming it a man. The word 'man' may come from our mouth. The last one is the name-concept. If you do not know the name of what you see, this thought process will not take place. Sometimes you see a thing, but you do not know the name of it. At that time this last thought process will not arise.


In order to say, "I see a man', we need five series of thought processes. Each may arise perhaps thousands of times. Only after these five can we say, 'I see a man.'


Student: Each one will arise thousands of times?

SayÈdaw: These thought processes may repeat many times because one visible object arises and disappears. Then another visible object arises and disappears. It may take the present visible object and the past. The first pair may repeat many times. These thought processes must follow one after the other. There are five kinds of thought processes.


It seems unbelievable that there should be so many steps to go through before we can say, ‘I see a man', 'I see a woman’, 'I see a desk', but in this computer-age we can at least accept it. A computer works in the same way. A computer has to go through many steps or many lines before it can solve a problem. Sometimes there may be 100, 200, 300 lines, but when we press a button, we get the answer right away. It is the same as this.


In a book I read some years ago I found something that comes close to the explanation given in Abhidhamma, It is a book about seeing withoUt glasses. I wear glasses, so I was interested in seeing without glasses. However I did not do the exercises. In that book written by a medical [17] doctor, he said two things which pleased me. One thing he said was that seeing is 90% mental and 10% physical. In the same way we see with seeing consciousness and attention is important in that. The other t1hing he said was that in order to see the letter 'A' your eyes shift at least four times. That roughly corresponds to these five thought processes here. Your eyes have to move four times before you can say, 'I see the letter A.'


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: I said it almost seems unbelievable that so many steps have to be gone through before we can say that we see a thing, Venerable Nyanaponika wrote something about that in his book The Heart of Buddhist Meditation. He wrote about something that he called 'bare attention'. 'Bare attention' means being mindful ow what you experience, just the bare attention to the object, not putting any value or any of your judgement on the object. What he wrote here is very good. "Hence the attitude of bare attention will open to a man a new world. He will find out that where he believed himself to be dealing with a unity, i.e. with a single object presented by a single act of perception, there is, in fact, multiplicity, i.e., a whole series of different physical and mental processes preaented by corresponding acts of perception, following each other in quick succession." In the same way there are so many things involved in just the act of seeing. Although we may not be able to see one by one clearly, we can at least have a glimpse of these when we practice meditation and really pay bare attention to what we experience or what we observe at the present moment. So they are not just theory. They can be glimpsed at through the practice of meditation.


We have only seen an object, but we have not heard an object. Let us hear something. When we hear a word, what will be the sequence of [18] thought processes? We need more or less the same sequence of thought processes. When you hear a single syllable word like man, the first process is the same aa the one we just studied except that it is a hearing thought process. The second is remembering the past. If the word is one syllable, there will be no taking the whole group because there is only one sound. So that thought process group will be missing. Then the fourth and fifth thought processes will follow, but they will be reversed. The name-concept comes first when you hear something. Then the thing-concept arises. Suppose you hear the word 'man'. There is the thought process taking the present sound; then there is remembering it or taking the past audible object; then the word 'man' is taken as name-concept. Only after that do you arrive at the thing denoted by the word 'man', the man himself. So here we have the last two reversed.


If it is a two syllable word, then we will have the synthesis stage also. Let us say we hear the word 'woman'. For Iwo' you have one set of present and past objects. For the syllable 'man' you have another set of presemt and past objects. Then the third series of thought processes takes the two syllables together for woman. The more syllables in the word then the greater number of series of these thought processes will be involved.


So now you can understand how very fast the mind works when you consider these thought processes involved in seeing or hearing or smelling or others. When we read,or when we hear, or when we listen, we think that we understand the meaning right away. We don't have to think of the meaning of the word. For example I say the word 'meditation'. It seems like you don't have to think of the meaning of the word. You seem to understand the meaning of the word right away. However when you first learn the word, you don't understand it. You have to learn it [19] and you have to understand slowly at that time. When you hear the word 'meditation, me-di-ta-tion, four syllables, then you have to go through many thought processes before you understand the meaning. When you read, then you need one thought process for the letter M, another for the letter E and so on. So what Venerable Nyanaponika wrote is very true. What we believe to be of a single unit becomes multiplicity, so many processesdare involved.


Just as there is a thought process for seeing, there are thought processes for hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. So there are in brief five kinds of thought processes for seeing and so on. But there can be many more of them depending upon the object being strong, or weak, or very weak and so on. We will not go into these details at least this time.


All right, do you have any questions?


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: Sensitive material qualities are number 5,6,7,8 & 9 on the chart. Subtle material qualities are #2, 14-28.


Student: I have a question that relates to perception. Most of our perception is related to our inner processes rather than the object?

SayÈdaw: Yes.


Student: If something touches us, then we will have a sensation. If the same object were an electric charge and hit us in our ear, we would hear it. If we stimulate the eye, we would see stars. What some of the most modern thinking is saying is that our whole perception of of the world does not have much to do with what is out there. It is all internally perceived.

SayÈdaw: I see.


Student: Given how we are structured, how we are wired up, given the same object in different places would be perceived totally [20] differently. Is that in agreement with what you are teaching? Are you getting at the same kind of thing? They do say you need an object to trigger it, but the ultimate perception is not based on the object. it is based on how we are perceiving it.

SayÈdaw: It does not quite or squarely agree with what is taught in Buddhism. For the eye consciousness to arise as we have studied, you need the eye sensitivity which is matter and you need the object which is matter. In this teaching there is no saying that the mind is more important than matter or that matter is more important than mind. They are interdependent. Mind cannot arise without the physical base or without an object.


When I say I like this, it is because Western people are also saying that mind is important in perceiving things. They don't put emphasis on physical things alone. As I said although you have the eye and although you have a visible object that meet each other, if you do not pay attention, you will not see. Attention is also important for the eye consciousness to arise. Sometimes you may be doing something and you don't hear the sound of the telephone or the sound of the clock. That means hearing consciousness did not arise in you because you did not pay attention. Attention is an important factor for these types of consciousness to arise.


Student: It seems pretty much in agreement with what I said.

SayÈdaw: They may not agree completely, but they agree with each other more or less.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: It teaches that these thought processes may be the same in different people or in different beings. What mates these thought processes different for different people are the seven moments of Javana. These seven moments are the most important in a given thought [21] process. It is during these thought moments that we acquire Kusala or Akusala. We acquire good or bad Kamma at this time. During the preceding moments there is no Kusala or Akusala. The following moments are not concerned with Kusala or Akusala. It is during these seven moments that we have Kusala or Akusala depending upon whether we have wise attention, depending upon whether we have a good understanding of things or not.


When we see something the Javana can be Kusala or Akusala. It depends upon how we react or respond to the object. HOWEVER lovely an object may be, we are taught to look at things as impermanent and so on. Then we look at a lovely thing, a beautiful thing, but we have this attitude towards it. So we will not get attachment to it. Therefore we will not get Akusala Javana at that moment. If we are not taught that way, then we will be attached and have Akusala Javanas. Although the thought processes are the same for everybody, the Javana moments are different. Depending on the different Javana moments, we will have different results, good or bad.



Student: I've heard it said that giving is very powerful Kamma. If you see something or someone that is very attractive and you are very attached to the result of your giving, then you can change something that is very positive into something negative. It depends

upon how strongly you are attached.

SayÈdaw: That's right. That is why giving should be practiced as the Bodhisattas did. The Bodhisattas practice giving just for the sake of giving, just for the practice of giving. They do not expect any worldly results from giving or from performing other PÈramÊs.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: Also it is said in our books that when they give, they give whatever they have. They give all that they have. They are even ready [22] to give up their lives for the sake of the happiness of other beings. Their only attachment is to Buddhahood.


You know the word 'Bodhisatta’ means that according to the definition given in our books. 'Bodhi’ means Buddhahood. Satta has two meanings. One meaning is just ‘a being’. Here it means a being that is fulfilling his PÈramÊs to reach Buddhahood. The other meaning of ‘satta’ is to be attached to. So a Bodhisatta is a being that is attached to Buddhahood.


Whatever meritorious deeds Bodhisattas do, they make a wish which is always that they may attain Buddhahood. They do not pray or wish for worldly happiness.


Student: Can you actually see these states of consciousness?

SayÈdaw: If a person can practice about six weeks intensively, then that person may see many of the things mentioned in the books.


Student: Inaudible.

SayÈdaw: By the practice of VipassanÈ we try to see the true nature of things. That is we try to see things as they truly are. When we practice VipassanÈ meditation, we concentrate on the thing at the present moment. Whatever is at the present moment becomes the object of Vipassang meditation. Although we may have chosen a certain object as our main object (usually the breath or the movements of the abdomen), anything that becomes prominent at the present moment is the object of VipassanÈ meditation. The purpose of being mindful of the object at the present moment is to see its true nature. That is to see that it comes and then it disappears. It is impermanent. When we really see something as impermanent, then we cannot be attached to that thing or that person or whatever. In order to be detached from things we need to see the true nature of things. We need to see that they don't last long, that they are going to be destroyed. That is not through speculation. It is through the real direct seeing of things-through [23] VipassanÈ meditation. We can speculate or talk about things being impermanent, but to really see impermanence is one thing and to read and understand or listen to talks is another. When we really see for ourselves that things change, that they come and go, come and go, we cannot be attached or we will not want those things. It is like if this building is crumbling, and you see that this building is crumbling, you will not want to be in this building. You will want to get away from it as soon as possible. If you don't see it as crumbling, then you won't want to get away. In the same way although we are taught that things are impermanent and so on, we need to see through meditation for ourselves that they really are impermanent, that they really are just arising and disappearing. That is why we need VipassanÈ meditation.


Student: There is something that I have been struggling with in my own practice. There are two images. One is of a father and a burning house. He would do anything to get his children out of the burning house. This is the image I have of a teacher and his responsibility towards his students, thqt is that he must use whatever means to lessen the attachment of his students. Yet there is the image of the Buddha saying, 'Attachment is like clutching burning iron." That is more like what you said. If you can see and smell the flesh burning, you would simply let go.I don't understand the interplay of those two concepts. It seems to me that trying to look deeply and understanding would be a much simpler process the one of trying to force myself to let go when I don't understand.

SayÈdaw: That's why you need to really understand or you really need to see the nature of things. Until we really see the nature of things, we will not want to let go. It is like losing our sense of direction. Sometimes we go to a strange place. We do not know which direction is east and which is west. Sometimes we take west to be east and east to [24] to be west. Then when you get up in the morning, you see the sun rising from the 'west'. You know that it must be the east, but still you think it is west. You cannot get rid of this feeling. It is very difficult.


I have a friend in Rangoon. He knew he had lost his sense of direction. There was one road he said that on one side of the road he had a wrong sense of direction. After crossing the road, everything was OK. He was indignant about that. So he went to the side where he had a correct sense of direction. Then he tried to keep that vision in his mind and crossed the road once again, but still the moment he crossed the road his sense of direction was once again incorrect. Perhaps the notion was deeply imprinted in his mind. So it was very hard to get rid of it even though he knew it was wrong.


     In the same way until we canmot get rid of that notion that things are permanent although we. may say things are not permanent, things are subject to suffering. We need to see the real impermanence. Thht is done only through meditation.


                   OK. Thank you.



Sadhu!          SÈdhu!          SÈdhu!