2-9- Fulfilment of True Knowledge and Deliverance

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Fulfilment of True Knowledge and Deliverance

41] “And how, Monks, do the Seven Awakening Factors, developed and cultivated, fulfill true knowledge and deliverance?

42] “Here, Monks, a monk develops the Awakening Factor of Mindfulness, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in relinquishment.

The term “supported by seclusion” means that one must gain the lowest jhāna (meditation stage). As was stated above, the description of the first jhāna starts with “to be secluded from sensual pleasure”, and then “to be secluded from unwholesome states”. At that time, mind is alert and stays on the object of meditation with clarity, i.e. no distractions.

If a distraction begins to arise, mindfulness recognizes that and lets it go. Next, the description says the happiness experienced comes about by being born of seclusion. This is how the Awakening Factor of Mindfulness is supported by seclusion.

Dispassion means mind is free from attachments and clinging, i.e. not thinking or analyzing. Gaining the fourth jhāna (meditation stage) means to reach a stage of having an imperturbable mind, or a mind that has such strong equanimity that it becomes dispassionate. This is how the Awakening Factor of Mindfulness is supported by dispassion.

Cessation here means the ceasing of defilements and ego-identification with what arises.

Being mindful is a term that always had a kind of slippery meaning and it is not what most people think. Its meaning is very simple and precise when it is seen as observing mind, or attention, or alertness of attention. Being truly mindful means to see what mind is doing at all times, then let go of the things that cause tension to arise in the head, relax, and tranquilize both body and mind. It includes observing how this whole process works and allows it to be, without getting involved in the drama of things. Not getting involved with the drama of things means to not identify with, or take personally this impersonal process or try to control the present moment.

“Being mindful” means “to lovingly open one’s mind and let go of all identification with that distraction, then relax the tension in the head and in mind”, so that one can see things clearly and calmly. Whenever you try to resist or control what is happening in the present moment, at that time, you are fighting with the “Dhamma” or “Truth of the Present Moment”.

This fighting with the reality of the present moment causes so much unsatisfactoriness and suffering to arise. However, when you are mindful and see clearly that this is just phenomena arising and passing away, you can open up and accept it, without hardening your mind or resisting in any way. At this time, joyful interest is very important because when mind has some joy in it then there is no anger, jealousy, aversion, fear, or anxiety, etc.

Joyful interest helps the meditator to have the proper perspective to impersonally see what happens in the moment. When mind is uplifted, you see that whatever arises is just part of a continuing process which you can learn from. Joy causes mind to be uplifted, which is why it is an Awakening Factor and very important to one’s practice. Also, when joy is in your mind, you are pleasant to be around.

Remember, the acronym that is very helpful to use is DROPSS. It stands for Don’t Resist Or Push, Soften and Smile mind and accept everything when it occurs, because that is the “Dhamma of the Moment”.

When you continue on with your practice, mind will eventually attain to the higher and more subtle stages of meditations (arūpa jhānas). At that time, mind experiences the Realm of Nothingness. This is what is called cessation. It is called this because there is nothing more to watch outside of mind. When you experience the Realm of Nothingness, mind is watching nothing. But mind is still there and the different Awakening Factors can arise along with the five aggregates which are affected by clinging.

Also, some hindrances can still arise and knock you out of that exalted state. Thus, there is nothing for mind to watch outside of itself, and yet, there is still lots to see. This is how the Awakening Factor of Mindfulness is supported by cessation.

When you experience the Realm of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception, and keep opening and relaxing mind, eventually you will experience the cessation of perception and feeling (nirodha-samāpatti). During this occurrence, you will not know this turning off of consciousness because you have no perception or feeling at all! This is the only stage of meditation where this phenomenon occurs. This meditation state is still mundane; it is not the supra-mundane Nibbāna yet.

How can you know what is happening without perception or feeling? It is only when the perception and feeling come back, and if mindfulness is sharp enough, when you can see directly each and every link of Dependent Origination forwards, one by one as they occur. Even this is not the supra-mundane State of Nibbāna.

The twelve links of Dependent Origination are: [13]

  • Ignorance,
  • Formations,
  • Consciousness,
  • Mentality-Materiality,
  • Six-Fold Sense Base,
  • Contact,
  • Feeling,
  • Craving,
  • Clinging,
  • Habitual Tendencies,
  • Birth of Action,
  • Aging and Death, and with it sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair.

Seeing these links arise forwards, one by one as they occur, means to see that:

  • When Ignorance arises, then Formations arise;
  • when Formations arise, then Consciousness arises;
  • when Consciousness arises, then Mentality-Materiality arises;
  • when Mentality-Materiality arises, then the Six-Fold Sense Base arises;
  • when the Six-Fold Sense Base arises, then Contact arises;
  • when Contact arises, then Feeling arises;
  • when Feeling arises, then Craving arises;
  • when Craving arises, then Clinging arises;
  • when Clinging arises, then Habitual Tendencies arise;
  • when Habitual Tendencies arise, then Birth arises;
  • when Birth arises, then Aging and Death arise, and with it sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair arise.

After this arising phenomenon ends, and at that point, you will experience the cessation of the Dependent Origination, which goes like this:

  • When Ignorance ceases, then Formations will not arise;
  • when Formations cease, then Consciousness will not arise;
  • when Consciousness ceases, then Mentality-Materiality will not arise;
  • when Mentality-Materiality ceases, then the Six-Fold Sense Base will not arise;
  • when the Six-Fold Sense Base ceases, then Contact will not arise;
  • when Contact ceases, then Feeling will not arise;
  • when Feeling ceases, then Craving will not arise;
  • when Craving ceases, then Clinging will not arise;
  • when Clinging ceases, then Habitual Tendencies will not arise;
  • when Habitual Tendencies cease, then Birth will not arise;
  • when Birth ceases, then Aging and Death will not arise, and with it sorrow lamentation, pain, grief, and despair will not arise.

That is the end of the whole mass of suffering.

The seeing of Dependent Origination both forwards and in reverse order leads mind to the attainment of the supra-mundaneNibbāna.

This is where there is a major change in your outlook. Your mind at that time becomes dispassionate about the belief in a permanent everlasting ego or self. You see from first hand experiential knowledge, that this is just an impersonal process and there is no one controlling the way phenomena arise. They arise because conditions are right for them to arise. In Buddhist terms, this is called “anattā” or not-self nature of existence.

You also realize that no one can possibly attain sainthood by the practice of mere chanting words or phrases or suttas, or the practice of having rites and rituals done for you by someone else or by yourself. You have no more doubt about what is the correct path that leads to the higher stages of purity of mind towards Arahatship. This is how you become a Sotāpanna and attain the true path of purification.

There is no other way to attain these exalted stages of being. It is only through the realization of the Noble Truths by seeing Dependent Origination. Merely seeing the three characteristics will not now, nor ever, be the experience which leads to the supra-mundane Nibbāna.

This is why all of the Buddha’s appear in the world, to show the way to realizing the Four Noble Truths: He develops the Awakening Factor of Mindfulness, the Awakening Factor of Investigation of Experience, the Awakening Factor of Energy, the Awakening Factor of Joy, the Awakening Factor of Tranquility, the Awakening Factor of Stillness, the Awakening Factor of Equanimity, which is supported by seclusion, disenchantment, dispassion, and cessation, which ripens in relinquishment.

From the Ānāpānasati Sutta:

43] “Monks, that is how the Seven Awakening Factors, developed and cultivated, fulfill true knowledge and deliverance.”

Since this sutta describes the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Seven Awakening Factors, the author will conclude with the last part of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. It says:

46] “Monks, if anyone should develop these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in such a way for seven years, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

This means attaining to the state of being an Anāgāmī or non-returner.

“Let alone seven years, Monks. If anyone should develop these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in such a way for six years… for five years… for four years… for three years… for two years… for one year, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

“Let alone one year, Monks. If anyone should develop these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in such a way for seven months… for six months… for five months… for four months… for three months… for two months… for one month… for a half month, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

“Let alone half a month, Monks. If anyone should develop these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in such a way for seven days, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.”

47] “So, it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘Monks, this is a direct path… (Some translations say “This is the only way”, but that doesn’t say it in the correct way—a direct path or way, says this much more clearly and with less confusion.) … for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realization of Nibbāna—namely, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.’

From the Ānāpānasati Sutta:

That is what the Blessed One said. The monks were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

This is a pretty big claim which is not made up by the author. He is only reporting what is in the suttas. When you are serious about the practice of developing mind through the “Tranquility” of the “Mindfulness of Breathing”, you can reach the final goal.

When you reach the first pleasant abiding (the first jhāna) and if you continue on with their practice, you have the potential to attain either the stage of “Anāgāmī” or “Arahat”. This is what the Buddha said. If you are ardent and continue without changing or stopping in your practice, then surely you will reach the goal which is described.

Again, remember that the only way to attain the supra-mundane Nibbāna is by realizing Dependent Origination both forwards and in reverse order. There is no other way because this is the seeing and realizing of the Four Noble Truths, which form the main teaching of the Buddha. Great fruits and benefits accrue to those who practice according to the instructions prescribed by the Buddha.

SĀDHU… SĀDHU… SĀDHU…

If there are any mistakes in this book, the author takes full responsibility and requests that these mistakes be pointed out to him. The sincere wish of the author is that all who practice meditation will continue on with their efforts until they reach the highest and best state possible, that is, the attainment of Final Liberation, the supra-mundane Nibbāna.

May all those who are sincere know and understand the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination through direct knowledge, and attain the highest goal. May all practitioners of the Buddha’s path realize all of the links of Dependent Origination quickly and easily in this very lifetime, so that their suffering will soon be overcome.

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