Practicing Insight on your own


The Mode Of Action To Stand Above Kilesa And Kamma


Q: How many kinds of kilesa (defilements) are there?

The kilesa that arise in the mind, how can they come about?

A: Kilesa are divided into three kinds, namely:


1) Coarse kilesa; they manifest by way of body and speech, for example: to cut off the life of living beings; to seize things that belong to other people by robbing, stealing, pilfering, or snatching; sexual misconduct; lying, slandering, insulting, and tittle-tattling; to take intoxicants and drugs which are the origin of carelessness. (Abstention from these acts is sīla and a basic requirement for the successful practice of meditation.)


2) Medium kilesa; that is to say the nīvarana, kilesa that appear in the mind. They season the mind so that it gives rise to desire; dissatisfaction, anger, dejection, drowsiness, agitation, worry, annoyance, indecision, doubt, and delusion. The medium kilesa have authority when they have arisen, they make the mind hot, stuffy, clumsy, troubled, worried, annoyed, apprehensive, uncertain and skeptical more and more.


3) Subtle kilesa; they are called anusaya-kilesa. They are the nature that lies dormant in the 5 rūpa-nāma-kkhandha. When there is a sufficient cause they are bound to arise. Usually these anusaya-kilesa remain quiet, they are not at all evident and do not issue forth in any way. But when there are any objects, whether good or bad, that come into contact with the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind then their state changes to the medium and coarse kilesa and they break forth through body and speech later.


As an analogy, to distinguish between these three kinds of coarse, medium, and subtle kilesa, one may compare them with a match. The subtle kilesa resemble the fire that is hidden in the head of the match. The medium kilesa are like taking match and striking the side of the matchbox. The fire then becomes evident. The coarse kilesa compare to using the fire that has sprung up and setting it to some material. The fire will then burn that object and can spread into a big blaze later.


Q: What is the relationship between kilesa-vatta, kamma-vatta, and vipāka-vatta (the rounds of defilement, action, and result of action)?

A: We people who are born have life-existences different from each other. We are good people, bad people, foolish or wise people, we are unhappy, happy, rich or poor, beautiful and ugly. This is the result of kamma and is called 'vipāka-vatta'. It arises from having done Good or Bad in the past and in this present life. Action coming out by way of the body is called kāya-kamma; action by way of speech is called vacī-kamma.


Kāya-kamma and vacī-kamma are the activity of the coarse defilements (vītikkama-kilesa). Killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, telling lies, and taking liquor and intoxicants are examples of this. Kāya-kamma and vacī-kamma originate from mano-kamma (mental action).


Mano-kamma is the activity of the medium kilesa (pariyutthāna-kilesas). If we cannot control the mano-kamma, which is kilesa arising in the mind, then it will burst out by way of body and speech, which is kāya-kamma and vacī-kamma again. As regards mano-kamma, it originates from anusaya-kilesa, that is from the subtle defilements which lie dormant in the stream of consciousness belonging to each one of us.


Kilesa are the cause for the arising of kamma; kamma is the cause for the arising of vipāka. This means: The activity of kamma-vipāka is nothing but the 5 rūpa-nāma-kkhandha or ourselves, we are the people or rather the minds of people which are the resting-places of kilesa.


Kilesa is the cause of kamma; kamma builds up people again. They keep whirling round like this having no destination.


Q: What will be the way of action for practising to surmount the three vatta?

A: The Fully Enlightened Buddha had the vision to see that, birth, old age, sickness and death are dukkha (suffering). He searched for and investigated the cause of it; and he discovered that, birth, old age, sickness and death of us people or the world of living beings every where originates from kamma. When he had investigated the cause of kamma he discovered:


This kamma originates from kilesa-tanhā alone (defiled craving). Thus all kinds of dukkha which arise originate from kilesa-tanhā! The Lord Buddha pointed out the 4 ariya-sacca (Noble Facts), the law of truth that samudaya (tanhā) is the cause for the arising of dukkha. All dukkha arises owing to a root. To extinguish all this dukkha one must extinguish the root!


Simply speaking: We people have happened because of tanhā, we are born from tanhā. If we wish to extinguish birth, we must extinguish that very tanhā (craving). What shall we use to arrive at the extinction of tanhā?


The Supreme Teacher preached that: "The action of extinguishing craving (tanhā) is to follow the Eightfold Path" or majjhimā patipadā, the Middle Way. The activity that is exactly the Middle Way is the perfection of the absolute cessation of tanhā. Therefore, those who wish to transcend the three vatta must develop the Eightfold Path or refine their efforts until nothing remains except 'THE PRACTICE OF THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS.'


Q: How should one refine one's efforts in order to square the Eightfold Path with the four satipatthāna?

A: Practically the Eightfold Path works as follows:


1. Sammā-ditthi: Right view; that means, the vision of the arising and vanishing of the 5 rūpa-nāma-kkhandha, or the realization of the four Noble Truths. This is a part of pa˝˝ā.


2. Sammā-sankappa: Right thinking; that means, the application or the lifting up of the mind to know the present object or the five groups of existence (kkhandha). This is a part of pa˝˝ā.


3. Sammā-vācā: Right speech; that means, the mind that correctly identifies the concepts connected with the presently existing phenomena which are real. This is a part of sīla.


4. Sammā-kammanta: Right action; that means, the mental activity that is perfectly right; that is to say, watching the sankhāra-dhamma (conditioned events) arise in present time (vipassanā-dhura). This is a Part of sīla.


5. Sammā-ājīva: Right living or right occupation, having dhamma, which is absolutely right; that means, the Eightfold Path the wealth of the Noble Ones, things that are the support of the mind, to have dhamma for the nutriment of the mind. This is a part of sīla.


6. Sammā-vāyāma: Right effort; that means, effort to guard, effort to abandon, effort to develop, effort to maintain. This is a part of samādhi.


7. Sammā-sati: Right contemplation; that means, to contemplate the dhamma which is the 5 rūpa-nāma-kkhandha right in the present; to fulfill the function of the one who is aroused to know. This is a part of samādhi.


8. Sammā-samādhi: Right concentration; that means, to fulfill the function of making the mind tranquil, steady, and fixed to a single object. This is a part of samādhi.

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