Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(111) Contemplating and noting, and how consciousness arises at the moment of eating

What is meant by the expression: “At the moment eating” is “while knowing the taste”. Looking at and seeing the food are relevant to the expression “moment of seeing”, or rather, while it is being seen. Handling or holding the food, putting the food into the mouth and chewing the food are only concerned with “contact” or “touch” which is taking place. While chewing and eating, the tongue that knows the flavour or feels the taste is ‘awareness’ of eating the food. Every time the taste is known while eating, ordinary worldlings are under the wrong impression that awareness of the taste, the tongue-rupa and the taste itself are by nature permanent, pleasurable, good and an atta-being. This is ignorance (avijja). Basically depending upon this ignorance, sankhara-vinnana, etc., such as miseries occur.

When a Yogi’s power of concentration becomes strong while he is contemplating and noting the taste as “knowing”, every time he feels or knows the taste, he will distinguishably know that the tongue and the taste (rupa) are quite different from his consciousness of the taste and the knowing mind. The tongue, consciousness of the taste, the taste itself and awareness that occur vanish and cease to exist immediately after they are noted. Hence, realisation comes to him or her that these are by their innate nature – impermanent, suffering and Non-self (anatta). This realisation is evidently the genuine spiritual insight-knowledge (vipassana-nana) which knows the truth of the characteristics of anicca.

“At the moment of eating and knowing, the tongue and the taste are rupa which are incapable of knowing the sensation. “Eating and knowing” are nama. Consciousness or awareness through contemplation is also nama. After becoming conscious of eating and becoming aware of what is taking place through contemplation, all immediately vanish and cease to exist. For these reasons, they are in fact, by their own nature impermanent, suffering and Non-self (anatta).”