Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VI, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(85) Caught in the net of Dittha, and drifting in the current of Ditthi

‘Ditthijalena otthato … Ditthisotena vuyhati lokasannivasoti passantanam buddhanam bhagavantanam sattesu mahakaruna okkamati.

Lokasannivaso – All beings, Ditthijalena otthato – are covered or spread over by and caught in the net of ditthi, the wrong belief. Ditthisotena vuyhati – They are drifting in the current of ditthi. Iti – As such, passantanam – seeing, nay, for having perceived, buddhanam bhagavantanam – in the hearts of Buddhas, sattesu – towards beings, mahakaruna – Great Compassion with pity, okkamati – has arisen.

Ditthi means the heretical view, erroneous belief and wrong conception. To think with loving attachment, considering oneself as a living being, or an atta, individual or ‘Self’, in spite of the fact that in the personalities of themselves there exists only a continual phenomenal process of rupa and nama, is mere attaditthi. It is also called sakkayaditthi. “Sakkaya” means an aggregate of rupas and namas which obviously exists in the so-called body. To think of these aggregates of rupas and namas as a living being, or an atta – being, or “I” or “Self’, is nothing but ditthi. It is known as sakkayaditthi, because of an erroneous conception or false belief in this aggregate of rupa-nama. An instance may be cited as for example, at the moment when seeing takes place, the eye – rupa obviously exists. The eye and the sight (object that is seen) are also rupa. The knowing mind which sees is nama. Only these two – the rupa and nama – are obviously present. However, ordinary worldlings are under the impression that what is seen and known, is “Self’, or “I”. The sight – rupa in one’s own body which is seen by the eye is also misconceived as “I”. If it is thought of as a reality, it is but ‘sakkayaditthi’ In respect of what is obviously seen and known at the moment of hearing, etc., if it is imagined or thought of as “I” or “Self”, it amounts to holding the view of ‘sakkayaditthi’.

It becomes “sassataditthi” if it is misconceived that an atta – being. or ‘Self’ is perpetually existing based upon the false view of sakkayaditthi and also that after death it has transmigrated to ‘ reside in another body. On the other hand, it is “ucchedaditthi”, if ‘it is conceived or thought of as complete annihilation of existence after death and that there is no kusalakamma and akusalakamma. Again, if it is thought of as having no good or bad resultant effects of that kamma, it is duccharita micchaditthi. One who holds a false view of ‘ucchedaditthi’ is likely to entertain the false doctrine of ‘duccharita micchaditthi’. This ‘duccharita micchaditthi’ is extremely faulty and highly culpable. If this micchaditthi or false view is entertained, committing of vices and doing demeritorious acts will not be avoided. Nor will meritorious deeds or actions be performed. In other words, those who have the false view of micchaditthi will not hesitate to do all kinds of vices. Hence, a person who has accepted this false view will definitely land in hell after death. Furthermore, to believe in and revere a false Buddha, or a person impersonating as Buddha, is a kind of false belief – “micchaditthi”. Believing in false practices as being genuine is also another type of micchaditthi. For example, to have a firm belief in the performance of rites involving the sacrifice of living beings, and by doing so, demerits would be eliminated, and that merits will also be gained, is a kind of micchaditthi, i.e. believing in false practices and seeing things wrongly without understanding what they truly are.

Prior to the appearance of Buddhas, or though Buddha has appeared, those who have not heard of the Truth of the Dhamma and those who misunderstood the Truth of the Teachings (Dhamma) would readily accept and adhere to any one of the false doctrines mentioned in the foregoing. All over the world, the majority of the people have accepted and believed such false doctrines. All those who fail to fully appreciate the Buddha’s Dhamma, have attaditthi, a false view to which they are clinging blindly that rupas and namas are merely ‘atta being’, ‘Self or ‘I’. Hence, the statement that “all beings are caught in a net of ditthi and they are drifting in the current of ditthi” is really true and correct. All beings who have accepted such false doctrines as “uccheda” belief and “duccharita miccha” are likely to land in the Four Nether Worlds. However, in the case of those who adhere to the belief of “sassata”, there is likelihood of their gaining kusalakamma by lending help to other fellow beings, and by getting rid of some akusala, demerits, to a reasonable extent, inasmuch as they have a belief in the propriety of what ought to be done or not, expecting to gain benefits and happiness in the life hereafter. For such good actions or kusalakamma, there is still hope for them to reach good and noble existences after demise. Nevertheless, bad deeds or immoral actions are included in what they believe as “things that ought to be done”. Such wrong or erroneous kamma – actions are expounded in Pali Atthakathas. These are actions, such as those relating to filing other beings in performing rituals, or boiling snails and oysters alive, etc., to save themselves as they have said, from Samsaric misery (vatta). Though such acts might be considered as good deeds from their own point of view, killing of sentient beings cannot possibly be regarded as acts of virtue from which merits can be derived because of the fact that victims will surely have their disapproval and cannot be a consenting party.

There is every likelihood of these heretics going down to the four Apayas where they would suffer misery for their demeritorious or immoral actions which might appear to them as being good and proper. And then, one who rigidly adheres to Sassata and Atta Doctrines will not believe in the truth of the Buddha’s Dhamma which says: “There is no such thing as ‘atta’ but only a continuing process of rupa and nama according to their phenomenal nature. There is only the causative effect of rupa and nama; and if samudayatanha, clinging attachment, is eradicated by indulging in the practice of meditation so as to extinguish kilesa, which is the cause, the suffering effect of the continuum of rupa and nama totally ceases and becomes extinct.” Such being the case, they will be passing through a succession of births in samsara and then, continually suffer the miseries of old age, sickness and death because of continued existences. This resultant effect clearly reveals their failure to reach the zone of freedom from miseries for having been caught and entangled in the net of Dittha. Thus, for being drifted in the current of ditthi, ‘they are suffering the miseries of samsara without a break. The current of tanha, as has been stated, is generally flowing into the realm of four Apayas. Therefore, all those beings who are not yet liberated from the bonds of tanha and ditthi are immensely suffering after descending to the four nether worlds. Having clearly perceived this miserable condition of life, Buddha was moved to have pity towards all living beings. Emulating the example as shown by the Buddha, our male and female benefactors and all those who desire to follow His exemplary conduct can also try to develop karuna.