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