Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw
“Kusala”, in short, constitutes ten Succaritas (right conduct). Avoidance of three kaya-duccaritas will cause to become three kaya-succaritas. In the same manner the avoidance of or abstinence from the four vaciduccaritas, and the three manoduccaritas shall be regarded as the four vaci-succaritas and the three mano-succaritas respectively. This can be found in Sallekha Sutta Dhamma.
To put it in another way, “kusala” means and refers to dana, sila and bhavana – The meaning of dana is “giving”, generosity. Sila is avoidance of immoral acts, including verbal and physical misconduct or behaviour. In fact, it is to avoid committing the three kya-duccaritas and the four vaci-duccaritas. Bhavana is of two kinds and refers to the practice of Samatha-bhavana to make the mind tranquil, and Vipassana bhavana – the delevopment of insight – for the true realisation of the Four Noble Truths.
Explanation has been given in the Visuddhimagga etc., about samatha-bhavana by distinguishing it into forty (40) different kinds of (kammatthanas). Among these forty, the four Brahmavihara (viz: metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha) are also included in addition to ten-kinds of Kasina, ten Asubha, ten Anussati, four Arupa-kammatthana, one Ahare patikulassanna, and one Catudhatuvavathana – all totalling 36 kinds which are known as Samatha-kammatthana. One should therefore ask about any one, or two or three or four of the forty (40) kinds (modes) of Samathakammatthana – the religious exercises in the practice of meditation, in order to make himself clearly understood. However, also by listening attentively to the teachings now being given or by perusing and reading the texts of Dhamma with keen interest, it would serve the purpose. This is the way to become wise and highly intelligent.
What is more important is to understand fully the Vipassana-kusala. It is necessary for one to approach a person who is well versed and competent to give instructions on how to practise Vipassana meditation for the achievement of Vipassana-kusala. If one is paying attention to the teaching as at present, it would also be adequate for the purpose. This will cause to bring about wisdom and good knowledge. Texts of Dhamma which contain proper guidelines and instructions as to how Vipassana should be contemplated in the right way will also go to serve the purpose of acquiring the essential knowledge of the Dhamma. If one could arduously practise Vipassana under instructions from the spiritual teacher before and during the course of training, it would be the best. Although I have often taught about the method of contemplating Vipassana, since the opportune moment has now arisen to repeat the teaching a brief account of it will be given.