Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(104) Kammic cause of lack of knowledge and of higher intellectual power

(7A) Idha Manava ekacco itthi va puriso va samanam va brahmanam va upasankamitva na paripucchita hoti “kim bhante kusalam, kim akusalam, kim savajjam, kim anavajjam, kim sevitabbam, kim na sevitabbam, kim me kariyamanam digharattam ahitaya dukkhaya hoti, kim va pana me kariyamanam digharattam hitaya sukhaya hoti” ti.

Manava – O, Subha, the lad, idha – in this Universe, ekacco itthiva puriso va – some persons, whether a female or a male, samanam va brahmanam va upasankamitva – make an approach either to a Bhikkhu or a noble and virtuous person, na paripucchita hoti – but does not know how to ask or put a question. How it should be asked is; Bhante – 0, my Lord (Buddha), kim kusalam kim akusalam – what is kusala and what is akusala? Kim savajjam kim anavijjam – Which is faulty and which is not faulty or blameless? Kim sevitabbam, kim na sevitabbam – Which is to be depended upon and which is not? Kim kariyamanam – What is the thing if done me render one, digharattam ahitaya dukkhaya ; hoti – deprivation of wealth and causation of misery for a very long time? Va pana – apart from this, the question to be put is: Kim kariyamanam – What shall be done, digharattam hitaya sukhaya hoti – to cause to bring benefits to gain -prosperity and happiness for a very long time? Iti Do not know how to put question in that manner, nay, remain without asking any question.

Some people do not know how to approach a knowledgeable person of experience, and seek or ask for information or advice in matter which they are unable to understand, or rather, of which they are ignorant. In accordance with a Burmese’s proverb which runs as. “Ask what is not known and cleanse what is dirty” one should find out and ask what he does not know. However, some people are taking things easy, and are complacent without trying to inquire, and make themselves understand and become knowledge. Failure to investigate what is not known is negligence or remission of one’s own duty. In matters relating to, business affairs, one, should inquire things which he is not acquainted with. If it needs practical training, he should undergo training ‘ and study things properly. Only then, can he find success in his business career. Much in the same way, relating to religious affairs, one should ask and seek the knowledge which he is lacking. It is, therefore, essential for him to ask what is kusala and what is akusala, and so on. But a person who has no interest in the pursuit of knowledge remain carefree and nonchalant.

If one fails to seek knowledge and the required information, he is not knowledgeable, and is likely to do things which should not have been done. For having done wrong, such an uninformed person, lacking in the practice of Dhamma, is likely to land in hell (Apaya) after his death. If his rebirth takes place in the human world, for having failed to equip himself with the required knowledge and practical experience in kusala dhamma, he is likely to become a, person of immoral character. This fact has also been taught briefly as follows:

“Duppannasamvattanika esa manava patipada yadidam samanam va brahmanam va upasankamitva na paripucchita hoti. “

(7B) If what is not understood is investigated, studied and observed, relevant knowledge will be acquired. When one is knowledgeable, what is not proper will not be done. As a prudent and well informed person, he will perform things which are only proper and appropriate. For being endowed with the right knowledge which will cause him to avoid doing evil, he will be reborn in the abode of Devas (Sugati). If he is reborn as a human through his practical training, he will be endowed with great intelligence. It has been taught in brief as follows.

“Mahapannasamvattanika esa manava patipada yadidam samanam va brahmanam va upasankamitva patipucchita hoti.

Manava – 0, Subha, the lad, yadidam-yo ayam a certain person, samanam va brahmanam va upasankamitva – after approaching a Bhikkhu or a noble personage, paripucchita hoti – is capable of making inquiry and putting questions. Esa patipada – This practice of investigating into things and making due enquiry, mahapannasamvattanika – will cause to bring about great wisdom and high intellect. “Investigation brings high intelligence,” is the motto now composed. This may be uttered by incorporating it with the previous motto, as follows:

(7) “Non-investigation causes blind ignorance; investigation brings high intelligence.”

It means to say that if investigation or inquiry is made one becomes highly intelligent and wise. The manner of making an inquiry is by way of asking. “What is kusala and what is akusala?”, etc. Kusala is a virtuous Dhamma. It is a faultless Dhamma which may be regarded as “anavajja”. If it is deserving of reliance, it should be resorted to. If such kusala-dhamma is performed, it would bring advantages and happiness both in the present existence and also throughout all future existences in the rounds of Samsara. Akusala is an evil Dhamma – immoral actions rooted in greed, anger and delusion. It will bring evil effects, and is a Dhamma not worthy of reliance. If such immoral actions were performed, akusala-dhamma will have an effect of dragging him down to the Apaya – hell, etc. Furthermore, it is bad Dhamma which produces evil results – misery in the same lifetime, in the next life and in successive births throughout Samsara. Hence, it – becomes essential to know the distinguishing features between kusala and akusala. Those listening to this teaching now generally have a good knowledge of most of this Dhamma. However, the difference between kusala and akusala Dhamma will have to be explained at least in an abbreviated form.