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Abhidhamma Series, no 22. The Four Planes of Consciousness (part 2).

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  • Nina van Gorkom
    Dear friends, The Four Planes of Consciousness (part 2). As we have seen, there are four planes of citta: the sensuous plane of consciousness, the plane of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 15 12:31 AM
      Dear friends,

      The Four Planes of Consciousness (part 2).

      As we have seen, there are four planes of citta: the sensuous plane
      of consciousness, the plane of ruupa-jhaana, the plane of aruupa-
      jhaana, and the plane of lokuttara citta, supramundane citta. When
      enlightenment is attained lokuttara cittas arise which directly
      experience nibbaana. The lokuttara citta is the highest plane of
      There are four stages of enlightenment: the stages of the sotaapanna
      (streamwinner), the sakadaagaamii (once-returner), the anaagaamii (no-
      returner) and the arahat. At each of these stages the lokuttara
      kusala citta, the magga-citta, arises which experiences nibbaana and
      eradicates defilements. Wrong view has to be eradicated first. So
      long as one takes realities for self there cannot be the eradication
      of any defilement. The sotaapanna, the ariyan who has attained the
      first stage of enlightenment, has eradicated di.t.thi completely, so
      that it can never arise again, but he has not eradicated all
      defilements. Defilements are eradicated stage by stage and only when
      arahatship has been attained all defilements have been eradicated.
      Only the right Path, the eightfold Path, can lead to enlightenment.
      The eightfold Path is developed by being mindful of the n�ma and r�pa
      which appear in daily life, such as seeing, visible object, hearing,
      sound, thinking, feeling, attachment, anger or the other defilements
      which arise. This is actually the development of vipassanaa, insight
      wisdom. There are several stages of insight-wisdom.
      The characteristics of naama and ruupa have to be investigated over
      and over again until they are clearly understood as they are and
      there is no more wrong view about them. The realization of the
      arising and falling away of naama and ruupa, their impermanence, is a
      higher stage of insight which cannot be attained so long as the
      characteristic of naama cannot be distinguished from the
      characteristic of ruupa. All the different stages of insight have to
      be attained in the right order. Pa~n~naa should continue to
      investigate the characteristics of realities as they appear through
      the six doors so that the three characteristics of conditioned
      realities, namely: impermanence (anicca), dukkha and non-self
      (anattaa), can be penetrated more and more. When pa~n~naa has clearly
      understood these three characteristics enlightenment can be attained.
      Pa~n~naa which has become lokuttara pa~n~naa experiences nibbaana,
      the unconditioned reality.
      Nibbaana does not arise and fall away and it is therefore the end of
      the arising and falling away of naama and ruupa, the end of birth,
      old age, sickness and death. Nibbaana is the end to dukkha. When one
      has attained the first stage of enlightenment, the stage of the
      sotaapanna, it is certain that there will eventually be an end to the
      cycle of birth and death, an end to dukkha.
      When the person who is not an arahat dies, the last citta of his
      life, the cuti-citta (dying-consciousness) is succeeded by the
      pa.tisandhi-citta (rebirth-consciousness) of the next life and thus
      life goes on. So long as there are defilements life has to continue.
      The fact that we are here in the human plane is conditioned by
      defilements. Even if there is birth in a heavenly plane, in a ruupa-
      brahma plane or in an aruupa-brahma plane, it is conditioned by
      The arahat has no more defilements, he does not have to be reborn in
      any plane. For him there will not be the arising of naama and ruupa
      in a new life any more, and this means the end to the cycle of birth
      and death.

      We read in the Kindred Sayings (IV, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Third
      Fifty, Chapter 5, �152, Is there a Method?), that the Buddha spoke to
      the monks about the method to realize through direct experience the
      end of dukkha:

      �Herein, monks, a monk, seeing visible object with the eye, either
      recognizes within him the existence of lust, malice and illusion,
      thus: �I have lust, malice and illusion,� or recognizes the non-
      existence of these qualities within him, thus: �I have not lust,
      malice and illusion.� Now as to that recognition of their existence
      or non-existence within him, are these conditions, I ask, to be
      understood by belief, or inclination, or hearsay, or argument as to
      method, or reflection on reasons, or delight in speculation?�
      �Surely not, lord.�
      �Are not these states to be understood by seeing them with the eye of
      �Surely, lord.�
      �Then, monks, this is the method by following which, apart from
      belief� a monk could affirm insight thus: �Ended is birth, lived is
      the righteous life, done is the task, for life in these conditions
      there is no hereafter.��

      We then read that the same is said with regard to the experiences
      through the doorways of the ears, nose, tongue, bodysense and mind.
      The development of understanding of all that is real, also of one�s
      defilements, is the way leading to the eradication of defilements, to
      the end of rebirth. This is the end of dukkha.


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