Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part IV by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(60) How to contemplate according to the Second Metta Sutta

So – A person who has attained Metta-jhana, tattha – while being absorbed in that Metta-jhana yadeva rupagatam vedanagatam sannagatam sankharagatam vinnanagatam — such rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana are only present or appearing. (It means to say there is an absence of ‘atta’ at that brief moment.) Te dhamme .- that rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana dhamma are looked upon, aniccato – as impermanent, dukkhato – and as suffering, rogato – and are similar to the disease that has been contracted, gandato – and like a tumourous growth, or rather, an inflamed suppurating tumour which has burst, sallato – and as resembling a sharp-pointed stump which has stuck in, aghato – ‘ and are not free from suffering and misery, nay, like an evil deed, abadhato – and similar to sickness, parato – and resemble a stranger or an alien ‘ ‘palokato – and easily destructible, sunnato – and devoid of atta being without any entity, and anattato – do not constitute a living being, but merely a natural phenomenon, samanupassati – and are contemplated and perceived as such.

The above describes the manner of contemplating Vipassana after arising from the trance of jhana. What is contemplated is on rupa and vedana, etc., as and when they occur at the moment of his absorption in jhana. It is something which is similar to what the present Yogis are contemplating and noting as “seeing”, “hearing”, or, “imagining” after the arising consciousness of what is seen, heard or imagined. At the time when the Jhanic-mind occurs, rupa or matter, on which the Jhanic-mind depends, is present. It is extremely pure, refined and good. As these good sensations have pervaded the whole body, one would feel very comfortable and nice. It is similar to the characteristics of consciousness or knowledge which occurs at the moment of achieving udayabbaya-nana. This rupa on which reliance is made and rupas-material elements or sense-objects which have taken place by virtue of jhana are mentioned in Pali Texts as “yadeva rupagatam” Vedana, etc., which occur hand in hand simultaneously and in combination with the Jhanic-mind have been mentioned as “vedanagatam, sannagatam and sankharagatam” – The Jhanic-mind is, however, described as “vinnanagatam” This is how a person who has attained jhana, contemplates on the Jhanic-mind, etc. This resembles the manner of contemplating and noting the arising consciousness of imagination as “imagining”, when it occurs, by the present Yogis.

How awareness and perception is gained by insight knowledge through contemplation as has been stated, is shown as, “aniccato”, etc., totalling eleven kinds. A person who is endowed with special or deeper knowledge can grasp all the eleven characteristics or conditions. A person who is lacking in knowledge cannot realise all of them. He may know only a few. The most significant point, however, is to know the true characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta. Hence, the Buddha has taught laying emphasis on these three kinds, viz: anicca, dukkha and anatta. If these three marks are truly perceived and known, the rest of the eight can also be understood. For instance, palace – easily destructible – carries the same sense as anicca, impermanence or not lasting. It is similar to (1) a virulent-type of disease, (2) a chronic malignant tumour, (3) a sharp-pointed stump that has struck or pierced through, (4) agha – not free from suffering, nay, it can bring evil just like vice or demerit, (5) the five conditions which are said to be similar to illness are all dukkha – suffering. (1) Para – it resembles a stranger, (2) Sunna – it is devoid of ‘atta” ‘ a being, or individuality. The said two also convey the same meaning as ‘anatta’ -non-self or ungovernable. That is why I have now, explained the manner by which the nature or characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta can be known and realised.