Vesak Discussion about the Mahaaraahulovaadasutta, Part 3.
- Vesak Discussion about the Mahaaraahulovaadasutta, Part 3.
After my explanation of the Mahaaraahulovaadasutta Lodewijk and I had the
Nina: Rahula had to apply himself to development of the mind like the earth,
he had to be steadfast and unshakable. He had to be unmoved by pleasant or
unpleasant objects. When we experience a pleasant object we are bound to
like it and when we experience an unpleasant object we are bound to dislike
it. The Commentary explains about the cittas rooted in attachment (lobha)
and the cittas rooted in aversion (dosa) which may arise.
Rahula had to learn not to be overcome by objects. This is like a test we
have to pass.
Lodewijk: Do I have to pass this test?
N: We all have.
L: This is very difficult, I cannot do it.
N: Rahula was ripe for arahatship, the arahat is steady and unshakable when
facing pleasant and unpleasant objects. We have to develop understanding of
the objects that present themselves through the senses and the mind-door. It
is said in the Commentary that Rahula had to develop vipassanaa pa~n~naa. He
had to develop understanding of ultimate realityies, of nama and rupa.
L: We have to pass tests in daily life all the time. Daily life is social,
we meet other people whether we like it or not. We have to develop metta.
N: We have to develop all four brahma viharas: metta, compassion,
sympathetic joy and equanimity. We have serious problems in our family and
we have to face controversial behaviour of others. The citta may be
completely overcome by situations, but we have to remember that the Buddha
said: <For when you apply yourself to the mental development that is like
the earth, Rahula,
agreeable and disagreeable impressions that have arisen, will not take a
lasting hold on the mind.>
It is important to remember that in the ultimate sense our difficult
situations, our unsurmountable problems, are only different experiences
through the six doors, pleasant or unpleasant, and that they are
conditioned. We cannot change the objects we have to experience. We have to
remember that kamma brings its appropriate result. This can be the condition
for equanimity when facing problems.
Rahula had to become like the earth when facing pleasant and unpleasant
impressions. We have to develop patience with regard to what is desirable
and what is undesirable.
Just now I failed the test. When we were talking about the Sutta at the
dining table of the hotel, we were all the time interrupted by people who
served food and wine and by a talkative fellow guest, sitting at a table
next to us, who started a conversation. I had to stop my explanation and
therefore I had aversion, dosa.
Dosa is often conditioned by conceit. We think, ³How can he do this to me²
and then we cling to the importance of self. We need to remember the dustrag
mentality of Sariputta.
L: I would like you to repeat all that you said about Rahula tomorrow, since
we were interrupted in our conversation.
I fail all the time, I cannot pass the test.
N: If we say all the time that we cannot do it, is there not an idea of self
who cannot pass the test? It depends on conditions whether we can pass the
test, and the condition is the development of right understanding. The
Commentary to the Mahaaraahulovadasutta refers several times to the
³Discourse on the Elephant's Footprint" (M 28, translation of Wheel 101). We
<So then if others abuse and scold and curse and threaten a bhikkhu, he
understands thus, This painful feeling born of ear-contact has arisen in
me. That is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on
contact.¹ Then he sees that contact is impermanent.>
The same is said about feeling, perception (sa~n~naa), san"khaarakkhandha
(the activities) and consciousness (vi~n~naa.na). We then read:
³And his mind enters into that very object (taking it just as an impersonal)
element, and acquires confidence, steadiness and decision (herein)².
It is very helpful to see that our life is in the ultimate sense only one
moment of experiencing an object. Seeing is completely different from
hearing or thinking, these are only cittas dependent on different contacts,
experiencing different objects.
I quote from my ³Abhidhamma in Daily Life²:
<The world experienced through the six doors is real but it does not
last; it is impermanent. When we see, there is the world of the
visible, but it falls away immediately. When we hear, there is the
world of sound, but it does not last either. It is the same with the
world of smell, the world of flavour, the world of impressions
through the body-sense and the world of objects experienced through
the mind-door. However, we only seem to know the world of
conventional terms, because ignorance and wrong view have been
accumulated for so long.>
When we see our life as conditioned namas and rupas we shall be less taken
in by difficult circumstances. When someone scolds us, it does not matter,
there is only the experience of sound and this is dependent on contact.
Intellectual understanding, pariyatti, is only a beginning. Intellectual
understanding can help us to a certain extent and it is a foundation of
patipatti, the practice, vipassanaa, which is awareness and direct
understanding of naama and ruupa. Patipatti will lead to the realization of
the truth, pativedha.
We need many reminders to begin being aware of naama and ruupa. The texts
can be a real support.
Jim suggested to me that I do research on the passage <agreeable and
disagreeable impressions that have arisen will not take a lasting hold on
the mind, in Pali: uppannaa manaapaamanaapaa phassaa citta.m na pariyaadaaya
He provided me with a long list of textual references of a passage similar
to this. I find that this research useful, not only from the point of
grammatical knowledge, but that it is above all a reminder of the truth
which is stated again and again.
Several of these passages are in the ³Kindred Sayings²(II, ch XVII, §1) in
the Suttas about gains, favours and flattery. The Buddha said: ³Wherefore,
brethren, thus should you train yourselves:- When gains, favours and
flattery come to us, we will put them aside, nor when they come shall they
take lasting hold on our hearts.¹ ²
These are among the worldly conditions which are gain and loss, honour and
dishonour, praise and blame, bodily wellbeing and pain. They change all the
L: We are facing problems in our family which cannot be solved, and I cannot
help being overcome by them, being worried about them day and night.
N: It is helpful to remember that in the midst of trying circumstances there
are also ultimate realities such as seeing, thinking or aversion. There are
pleasant and unpleasant impressions assailing us all the time and they are
bound to persist, unless understanding of them is developed.