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Re: [SanghaOnline] Samsara/Suffering

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  • Ashin Punnobhasa
    Dear friend sherabprajna, I am here again. I would like to discuss more about yonisomanasikara (wise attention) and ayonisomanasikara (unwise attention). I
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 3, 2002
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      Dear friend sherabprajna,

      I am here again. I would like to discuss more about yonisomanasikara (wise attention) and ayonisomanasikara (unwise attention). I have discussed in my last mail the basic mentality that makes unwise attention arise. That basic mentality may be named as vipallasa which means hallucination, delusion, erroneous observation or taking that which is true as false and that which is false as true.
      In the process of mind (vithi), there arises manasikara followed by kusala (wholesome) and akusala (unwholesome) mental process. It means when you have wise attention, this will be followed by wholesome process of mind whereas when you have unwise attention, this will be followed by unwholesome process of mind.
      Let us see with some examples. When you experience success in your life, you would think, "I am such a wonderful person who gain this success". Then there is mana (conceit). Again you would think, "I love this success". Then there is tanha (attachment). You would also think, "I will be successful the rest of my life". Then there is ditthi (wrong view on impermanence as permanence). These are unwholesome mental state of mind and that is the reason to suffer. This happen because of unwise attention to the object.
      Suppose you are accused of something that you have not done, you would think, "this is the result due to my previous unwholesome kamma. There is no reason to get angry for the accusation or angry with someone who accused me. I will not create the cause of this kind of result again. I will do wholesome kamma only". Then this is wise attention to the object.
      Or if you are in the meditation course or you are trained properly through vipassana, you would just observe the accusation as a sound that arises and passes away. You will not be bothered by the meaning of that sound. What is the accusation anyway? This is the process of sounds, isn't it? Process of words! Divide those process into many parts. Each words will not harm your feeling if you don't pay attention to the meaning in it.
      Sometimes very ugly thoughts my arise in you. Suppose, you feel like doing something evil. But you remind your self that this is not good to do and you should not do that. Then you try to avoid doing that and even trying to remove the ugly thoughts in you. This is also yonisomanasikara.
      Sometimes we are angry with something and we think this is right to get angry. This thoughts becomes unwise attention. You may call it unwise reflection. But the anger polluted your mind before you can harm the object of your anger. It burns insight before it can burns outside. Anyway, if you can control to solve the problem without anger, you are developing yonisomanasikara.
      Dear friend,
      I was thinking over the topic and feel like writing more on that. This is enough for this time I guess..

      Be happy!
      With metta,
      Ashin Punnobhasa


      sherabprajna wrote:Dear Venerable Ashin Punnobhasa: Again!! a delight to receive your
      most wonderful answer! I love how you tell the information of the
      Buddha different ways of teaching, it made me some how a little sad
      that I can not understand all he taught to the most advanced beings,
      but glad at the same time to be here and through you now have at my
      reach the teachings of Beautiful Buddha in the Abhidhamma. Never
      think your answers are long! I appreciate so much the discourse as
      well by Ashin Nyanissara, so enlightning! wow! very nice the
      explanations of how to practice meditation...a precious gift for me
      you given me! Thanks so much.

      About questions, I did not understand well the fifty-two mental
      factors, do they have names individually? and should I know them now
      or much later on the discussion.

      And also I do not understand the forty meditation subjects mentioned
      in Ashin Nyanissara discourse... should I understand these or later
      too?

      And also from the discourse I do not understand what it is: four-
      fold "absorption" (jhana). Again, should I try to understand this
      or I let you just tell me what you think I need to know as we go
      along....but everything else I did understand quite well..I am
      learning so very much! Please continue with these teaching when you
      have time.

      And are the answers to these questions I am mentioning found on the
      books you suggested? I am trying to find them to buy. Thanks for
      telling me about them too. I am so happy you answered me!

      Thank you, Sherabprajna



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    • sherabprajna
      Dear Venerable Ashin Punnobhasa: Hello! please do not worry if you take some time to answer my questions. I have total patience! I thank you for the files
      Message 2 of 18 , Oct 7, 2002
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        Dear Venerable Ashin Punnobhasa: Hello! please do not worry if you
        take some time to answer my questions. I have total patience! I
        thank you for the files you sent me and have been reading, soon I
        will have more questions about them....but before, I liked the
        explanation/illustration of the body/hair as thinking them beautiful!
        very wise words, I really needed those explanations. May I for now
        ask a question on your last mail on the mental factors:

        You wrote: "Suppose you are accused of something that you have not
        done, you would think: "this is the result due to my previous
        unwholesome kamma. There is no reason to get angry for the accusation
        or angry with someone who asscused me. I will not create the cause
        of this kind of result again. I will do wholesome kamma only."

        Does this means that EVERYTHING that happens to us individually is
        our own fault? for example the rape of a child, physical or verbal
        abuse of what looks like "very innocent women", or being robbed? or
        even a flat tire? all events and situations we experience, we are
        the creators of them, with our past actions/kamma? all events we
        face are the results of causes and conditions set in motion by
        ourselves at one of our many past lives or in this one?

        If I may distract you from the teachings of the mental factors, do
        ignore this questions and continue with other mental factor
        explanations, and if you think it is wise to leave this for the time
        it is appropiate to explain/answer them.

        Thank you, May all be free of suffering. Sherabprajna.
      • Ashin Punnobhasa
        Dear friend sherabprajna, I am thankful to you. It is true that I have some other duties. But what I am doing right now is also very important duty. Not a
        Message 3 of 18 , Oct 9, 2002
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          Dear friend sherabprajna,

          I am thankful to you. It is true that I have some other duties. But what I am doing right now is also very important duty. Not a burden at all! Through this I am learning a lot of things also. I can learn from your questions. I can learn from our respected monks.

          I think I don't need to send you other chapters of Abhidhamma in Daily Life since it is available at http//www.nibbana.com . Thanks to those who are taking care of this web-site. But please try to find the books I have recommended.
          Does this means that EVERYTHING that happens to us individually is
          our own fault?

          I would like to correct the question a little. Does this means that everything that happens to us individually is due to our own fault? Then the answer is yes. I explain it in the following discussion. What happens to you right now may not be your fault at the time of the question but it is due to your unwholesome kamma in the past.

          All events and situations we experience, we are
          the creators of them, with our past actions/kamma?

          Here also a little modification is needed. Please don't think that I am trying to be smart. This is very important matter. I would ask: Are all events and situations we experience due to our previous kamma? We don't create these experiences but we created kamma that will give these experiences as results.

          Are all events we face the results of causes?

          Yes. But everything experienced is in a condition in which kamma can give the result.

          Are conditions set in motion by ourselves at one of our many past lives or in this one?

          Sometimes conditions are not set by ourselves. For example, In a bus terminal, the bus at a parking place is not parked by you. The driver's skill is not done by you. The color of the ticket is not made by you. I mean you are the one who is in the middle of a condition and whose many kamma are waiting for the chance. At the same time you are performing new kamma. You are in that condition due to your kamma; at least you chose to be at the bus terminal. Unless you went into that condition you would not meet the driver, see the bus and the color of ticket.

          Now I would like to explain theory of kamma.


          The word kamma (in Sanskrit karma) literally means action or deed. Strictly speaking, kamma means volitional wholesome and unwholesome actions and refers to volition which is one of the mental factors. To make it clearer, there should be a little more explanations here. As I explained to you earlier, every type of consciousness arises with some mental factors (necessarily universal mental factors which are termed in Abhidhamma as sabbacittasadharana). (Please have a look at the chat. You will see the name of mental factors in the first seven columns. You will find phassa, vedana, sanna, cetana, ekaggata, jivitindre, and manasikara.) There, cetana is translated into English as volition. I will repeat what I have mentioned above that volition arises with all types of consciousness. I guess this much is clear to you.

          When we talk about kamma, we talk about volition, but we talk about only the volition that associates with wholesome and unwholesome consciousness. Maybe here you may ask the question like what make consciousness wholesome or unwholesome. If consciousness is neither of these two, what would be it? I would like to leave these questions unanswered in this letter. I will deal with it later. Right now we will pretend we have known this. Well, to repeat what is kamma again, volition (cetana) that associates with wholesome or unwholesome is called kamma.

          I quote: The Buddha declared: �It is volition, monks, that I called kamma, for having willed, one performs an action through body, speech or mind.� The Buddha and the Arahants do not accumulate kamma, since they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of kamma. Nevertheless, even the Buddhas and Arahants are bound to experience the ripening of their past kamma as long as their psychophysical personality persists, that is, until they pass away.

          Now, my friend, you have noticed that we are the ones who produce our own kamma. Since we are neither the Buddha nor Arahants, we perform actions (I mean strictly kamma when I say action) through body, speech or mind all the time so long as we are not in a deep sleep. Every moment when we are awake, we are at least mentally performing kamma. We have many kamma (numerically) in this very life. We also have many kamma in the previous lives. We are born due to these kamma only. This is the reason why we are different from each other. Even twin brothers may have different experiences as their kamma results.

          I quote: The law of kamma is self-subsistent in its operation, ensuring that willed deeds produce their effects in accordance with their ethical quality just as surely as seeds bear fruit in accordance with their species. The direct products of kamma are the resultant states of consciousness and mental factors that arises when kamma finds the right conditions to fructify. Kamma also produces a distinct type of matter in the organic bodies of living beings, called materiality originating from kamma.

          You may not like to know that when you have eyes-consciousness seeing something is due to kamma. The eyes-consciousness is a type of consciousness that arise as a result of wholesome or unwholesome kamma. Please have a look at a chat. And find out cakkhuvinnana. There are two types of cakkhuvinnana (eyes-consciousness). One is the resultant consciousness of unwholesome kamma (akusala) and the other is resultant consciousness of wholesome kamma (kusala). Likewise, all the experiences through ears, nose, tongue, etc, are due to the previous kamma.

          These resultant states of consciousness and mental factors arise when kamma finds the right conditions to fructify. Note that the result arises only when there is the right condition for kamma to fructify. We may relate it to the Mangalasutta (the discourse on Mangala which may means loosely blessing). There are thirty-eight kinds of mangala that the Buddha taught. I see that these are creation of conditions. If you practice these mangala, you are creating conditions in which wholesome kamma most likely will give their results. Suppose if you can avoid evil minded persons, you may not face danger from these types of persons. If you are surrounded by those evil minded person, you will likely face danger.

          I agree with you, my friend, if you say, this is very difficult to avoid from those types of people since we are living in a society where good and evil are mixed. Suppose, please think of a level of existence where only noble persons live, (for instance, the pure abode that is termed in Abhidhamma as Suddhavasa Bhumi), you may never face the problems that you are facing in this human abode. Human abode is a place where we can find the results of wholesome and unwholesome kamma.

          Here I think I need to tell you a little about Pure Abode. In that abode, only Arahants and Anagamis live. Arahant is a person who has already eradicated all defilements completely. Anagami is a person who still has the attachment on the existence. Both Arahant and Anagami do not have anger, hatred, and attachment on sensual pleasure. Of course, an Arahant has removed all defilements. Imagine, how peaceful a place is if there is no anger, hatred and attachment on sensual pleasure.

          Remember, Arahants and Anagami also had previously done many kamma and there may be results from these kamma if the condition is favored. But there are no conditions in which their previous unwholesome kamma can give the result. There is no more birth for an Arahant and an Anagami will also become Arahant in that pure abode only and after that there will be no more rebirths. Then there will be no more conditions in which kamma can give the results.

          What I meant by saying these things is that there must be a condition in order to have the result of previous kamma.

          Your examples are very practical. There are many innocent boys and girls who faced the most horrible things. There are many good people who become the victims of evil acts. There are many people who are successful by improper trading like drug trading. Here we need to differentiate between kamma and vipaka. Desirable experiences are due to previous wholesome kamma and undesirable experiences are due to previous unwholesome kamma. The action at a given time by which one gain these experiences is another kamma and that will give the results in the future.

          So a person who rapes an innocent girl is accumulating horrible unwholesome kamma and the victim is experiencing the result of previous kamma. I know many people would feel uncomfortable to read this. A person who prevents that kind of horrible act is performing wholesome kamma. A person who wants to maintain justice is performing wholesome kamma. A person who kills the criminal is performing unwholesome kamma though his motivation for that killing may be wholesome. But I personally feel that justice should be done by you if you are the maintainer of the justice. Abhidhamma does not teach personal things. Something you have done with lobha (attachment), dosa (hatred or anger), and moha (delusion) is unwholesome and something you have done with alobha (non-attachment), adosa (non-hatred), and amoha (non-delusion or wisdom) is wholesome.

          My friend, I think I have answered your question. I have to admit that even I don�t satisfy with my answer. I wish I could do better. My knowledge and skill to deal with problems are limited. This problem is very much completed. In order to make my answer clearer, I would like to mention some paragraphs from the Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma. Please read page number 200 through 210 if you have that book. If you don�t have the book, next time I will explain what is mentioned there.

          May all of us be free from samsara.

          Your friend in Dhamma

          Ashin Punnobhasa




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        • sherabprajna
          Most Dear Venerable Ashin Punnobhasa: Hi, thank you for your answers, I have been reading them closely. I still have not located the Comprehensive Manual of
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 26, 2002
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            Most Dear Venerable Ashin Punnobhasa: Hi, thank you for your answers,
            I have been reading them closely. I still have not located
            the "Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, I am looking for it. Mean
            time I have some questions. I ask for your patience please.

            Is there anything that will override kamma's ripening effects? or is
            there a practice one can do in the moment that overrides past kamma?
            is how one reacts to the results or effects of kamma's ripening the
            only overriding thing we have for it? or is there nothing one can do
            to prevent past kamma from ripening?

            and...is kamma another word for "destiny"..meaning, that no matter
            what one does now, what will be will be? so that the only reason we
            try to be conscious/aware of what we are doing in the present moment
            is because it will determine the type of our future rebirths? but
            what we have up until now we can not change?

            and..is it really true what some teachers/wise gurus/authors and
            writers say about enlightenment..that there is really nothing to do
            about it, that there is nothing to seek or look for, and the thing to
            do is just to BE here now, that our enlightenment is a done deal?

            if not...and it is how I understad, that enlightenment takes much
            effort over many life times, then what is this effort like? is
            vipassana meditation the path or way or mode to practice for the
            realization of our enlightenment?

            and what is enlightenment to you? liberation from the cycle of
            rebirhts? enlighenment means "one who knows everything"... one
            who "is awakened"? ...one who "does not suffer"?

            and last what did you mean by saying: "Abhidhamma does not teach
            personal things"? is not Abhidhamma the teachings of the Buddha
            about life/samsara itself and how to liberate us from it? Abhidhamma
            is the path to our enlightenment is it not? I mean it's practice?

            So there is lot's of doing for us to realize our enlightenment?

            Thank you for you patience and kindess. Sherab Prajna
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