Abidhamma In Daily Life
Written by Saisampan Hilton at Wat Buddhapadipa on 9th July 2006
Na mo tassa bhagavato alahato samma sambuddhassa
May all be well and happy.
Thank you for giving a chance to talk dhamma to you today. I am happy to have a chance to gain merit from teaching Dhamma: Dhamma-desanamaya, and you gain merit from listening: Dhamma-savanamaya.
The title of the talk today is Abidhamma in Daily Life, but I want to talk about something that is more basic and more important: about what is kusala, what is akusala and what is abayakata. There are reasons for diverting from the title:
I don’t know how knowledgeable you are about the Abidhamma, I only know that I am not so knowledgeable as start with very advanced topics
It is the most important part of the Abidhamma because it is the fundamental building blocks of the whole area. So even if you know it all, it is good to review and remind yourselves. Many of you may not have seen the diagrams; I will point out the citta, cetasika, and rupa as we go along. I do think that these diagrams are helpful for memorising the numerous names.
To remind ourselves what is kusala what is not is important for our practice today and everyday in our daily life. When we finish the talk, I would like the thoughts of what is kusala and what is akusala to be with us while we do our practice.
The Abidhamma is an exposition of all realities in detail. The form is different, but the aim is the same as the other parts of the Tripitaka: the eradication of wrong view and all defilements. While we study the many enumerations of realities, we should not forget the purpose of the study. The theory (pariyatti) should encourage us to the practice (patipatti) which is necessary for the realization of the truth (pativedha). While we are studying the different namas and rupas, we can aware of them appearing at that moment. In this way we will discover that the Abidhamma is about everything which is real, that is, the worlds appearing through the six doors.
Before I start I want mention something about translations. There are Pali words which I learnt from the Thai, and there are different English translations. My Pali pronunciation may not be accurate and I may have to repeat words in English and in Pali. It may get annoying, but perhaps one should just say, ‘hearing, hearing……..’
I also want to acknowledge that the substantive part of this paper was compiled from Dhammasanghani, the Commentary and Sub-Commentary by my Abidhamma teacher, Archan Pornchai Charoen-damrong-kiat. The English translation was prepared by his students.
KUSALA DHAMMA: AKUSALA DHAMMA: ABYÂKATA DHAMMA.
The wholesome state, the unwholesome state, and that which is neither, the Buddha expound it as the indeterminate.
The unwholesome state (akusala dhamma) is rooted in greed (lobha), hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha). It leads to unwholesome acts which bring about unpleasant consequences. They are, for example, taking life (panatipata), theft (adinnadana), and wrongful sexual conduct (kamesu miccha cara).
Consciousness (citta) is that which cognizes an object. When consciousness arises, metal factors (cetasikas) also arise.
Mental factors and consciousness arise together (ekuppada), cease together (ekanirodha), and have the same object (ekâlambana) and the same base as each other (ekavatthuka).
That is to say, when consciousness arises, metal factors such as contact (phassa), feeling (vedanâ), perception (saññâ) and volition (cetanâ cetasikas) also arise.
Unwholesome mental factors are:
Anottappa Fearlessness of wrongdoing
Diþþhi Wrong view
Thîna, Midha Sloth, Torpor and
When unwholesome mental factors (akusala-cetasikas) are present in the consciousness, that condition is called ‘the unwholesome state’.
In contrast, the wholesome state is whenever there are meritorious acts, such as, giving (dâna), abstaining from wrongdoing and false speech (sîla), cultivating concentration and wisdom (bhavana), giving due respect to others (apacâyana), rendering service and assistance (veyyâvacca), sharing merits, rejoicing at and appreciating merits of others (patti-dâna, pattanumodhanâ). Meritorious acts arise from wholesome mental factors (kusala-cetasikas) are, for example:
- Saddhâ Faith or confidence in the law of kamma, its result, and the consequence that, beings are heirs of and bound by their kamma.
- Faith in the Enlightenment of the Buddha.
- Sati Mindfulness of meritorious acts.
- Hiri, Ottapa Shame and fear of wrongdoing
- Alobha, Adhosa Non-greed, non-hatred.
Groups of wholesome mental factors, such as, tranquility (passadhi), lightness (lahutâ), malleability (mudutâ), wieldiness (kammaññatâ), proficiency (pâguññatâ), and rectitude (ujjukatâ) occur together. Others such as wisdom, compassion, and appreciative joy (gladness at the success of others) may also occur. These are called ‘the wholesome state’.
In addition, practices such as calm-meditation, stilling the mind with concentration to attain the fine material (rûpa jhâna) and immaterial states (arûpa jhâna), and insight meditation (vipassana) leading to the realization that phenomena are conditioned with impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) and non-self (annata) to the final attainment of deliverance are all called ‘the wholesome state’.
Different from and being neither wholesome nor unwholesome is the indeterminate.
- The eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññânam) that arises upon eye-sensitivity (cakkhu-pasâda) seeing visible objects, (pleasant or unpleasant), is the result of wholesome or unwholesome acts done in the past. Of itself, the act of seeing is neither wholesome nor unwholesome. In the same manner,
- The ear-consciousness (sotaviññânam) that hears a pleasant or an unpleasant sound is neither wholesome nor unwholesome.
- The nose-consciousness (ghânaviññânam) that smells a pleasant or unpleasant smell is neither wholesome nor unwholesome.
- The tongue-consciousness (jivhâviññânam) that tastes a pleasant or an unpleasant taste is neither wholesome nor unwholesome.
- The body-consciousness (kâyaviññânam) that feels a pleasant or unpleasant tangible is neither wholesome nor unwholesome.
- The act of thinking pleasant or unpleasant thoughts is neither wholesome nor unwholesome.
Kammic material phenomena (rûpa) such as eye-sensitivity, ear-sensitivity, nose-sensitivity, tongue-sensitivity, body-sensitivity and masculinity or femininity elements (purisatta, itthatta) are all maintained by the life faculty (jîvittindriya) and nutriment (âhâra). Because there is consciousness, there are bodily movements and verbal expressions. Whether in sentient beings or in the external lifeless matter, all material phenomena (rupa) originate from temperature (utu) and are made up of the 4 great essentials: earth (paþhavi-dhatu), water (âpodhâtu) fire (tejodhatu) and wind (vâyodhâtu).
All of these are called the indeterminate state (abyakata dhamma).
The indeterminate state is neither wholesome nor unwholesome but the result of previous wholesome and unwholesome acts. Results which include re-births into the different realms, act of seeing or hearing, and the functional thought and consciousness (kiriya) of those who have extinguished defilements and aggregates which is nibbana.