Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo Progressive Insight

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Created 12 Years ago at 7/9/11 11:42 AM

Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo Progressive Insight

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From The Craft of the Heart By Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo (online @ www.accesstoinsight.org )
The Seven Stages of Purification

1. Purification of virtue (sila-visuddhi): Cleanse your virtues — in thought, word, and deed — in line with your station in life, so that they are pure and spotless, free from all five ways of creating enmity, such as taking life, stealing, etc.

2. Purification of consciousness (citta-visuddhi): Make the mind still and resolute, either in momentary concentration or threshold concentration, enough to form a basis for the arising of insight.

3. Purification of view (ditthi-visuddhi): Examine physical and mental phenomena, analyzing them into their various parts, seeing them in terms of their three inherent characteristics — as inconstant, stressful, and not-self.

4. Purification by overcoming doubt (kankha-vitarana-visuddhi): Focus on the causes and conditions for physical and mental phenomena, seeing what it is that causes them to arise when it arises, and what causes them to disappear when it disappears. Examine both these sides of the question until all your doubts concerning physical and mental phenomena — past, present and future — vanish together in an instant. The mind that can see through the preoccupation with which it is involved in the present is much more subtle, resolute, and firm than it has ever been before, and at this point any one of the ten corruptions of insight — which we referred to above as enemies of insight — will arise. If your powers of reference, concentration, and discernment aren't equal to one another, they can lead you to jump to false conclusions, causing you to latch onto these defilements as something meaningful and thus going astray, falling away from the highest levels of truth. The enemies of insight are:

a. Splendor (obhasa): an amazingly bright light, blotting out your surroundings — e.g., if you're sitting in a forest or patch of thorns, they won't exist for you — bright to the point where you get carried away, losing all sense of your body and mind, wrapped up in the brightness.

b. Knowledge (ñana): intuition of an uncanny sort, which you then latch onto — either to the knowledge itself or to the object known — as beyond refutation. Perhaps you may decide that you've already reached the goal, that there's nothing more for you to do. Your knowledge on this level is true, but you aren't able to let it go in line with its true nature.

c. Rapture (piti): an exceedingly strong sense of rapture and contentment, arising from a sense of solitude and lack of disturbance for which you have been aiming all along. Once it arises, you are overcome with rapture to the point where you latch onto it and lose sense of your body and mind.

d. Serenity (passaddhi): an extreme sense of mental stillness, in which the mind stays motionless, overwhelmed and addicted to the stillness.

e. Bliss (sukha): a subtle, exquisite sense of pleasure, arising from a sense of mental solitude that you have just met for the first time and that the mind relishes — the pleasure at this point being exceedingly subtle and relaxed — to the point where it becomes addicted.

f. Enthusiasm (adhimokkha): a strong sense of conviction in your knowledge, believing that, 'This must be nibbana'.

g. Exertion (paggaha): strong and unwavering persistence that comes from enjoying the object with which the mind is preoccupied.

h. Obsession (upatthana): Your train of thought becomes fixed strongly on a single object and runs wild, your powers of mindfulness being strong, but your powers of discernment too weak to pry the mind away from its object.

i. Equanimity (upekkha): The mind is still and unmoving, focused in a very subtle mental notion of equanimity. Not knowing the true nature of its state, it relishes and clings to its sense of indifference and imperturbability.

j. Satisfaction (nikanti): contentment with the object of your knowledge, leading to assumptions of one sort or another.

These ten phenomena, if you know them for what they are, can form a way along which the mind can stride to the paths and fruitions leading to nibbana. If you fasten onto them, though, they turn into a form of attachment and thus become the enemies of liberating insight. All ten of these corruptions of insight are forms of truth on one level, but if you can't let go of the truth so that it can follow its own nature, you will never meet the ultimate truth of disbanding (nirodha). For the mind to let go, it must use discerning insight to contemplate these phenomena until it sees that they are clearly inconstant, stressful and not-self. When it sees clearly and is no longer attached to any of these phenomena, knowledge will arise within the mind as to what is and what isn't the path leading to the transcendent. Once this awareness arises, the mind enters the next level of purification:

5. Purification through knowledge and vision of what is and is not the path (maggamagga-ñanadassana-visuddhi): Now that this realization has arisen, look after that knowing mind to keep it securely in the mental series leading to insight. Insight will arise in the very next mental moment, forming a stairway to the great benefits of the transcendent, the reward coming from having abandoned the ten corruptions of insight. Liberating insight will arise in the following stages:
* * *
The Nine Stages of Liberating Insight

a. Contemplation of arising and passing away (udayabbayanu-passana-ñana): seeing the arising of physical and mental phenomena together with their falling away.

b. Contemplation of dissolution (bhanganupassana-ñana): seeing the falling away of physical and mental phenomena.

c. The appearance of dread (bhayatupatthana-ñana): seeing all fashionings (i.e., all physical and mental phenomena) as something to be dreaded, just as when a man sees a deadly cobra lying in his path or an executioner about to behead a criminal who has broken the law.

d. Contemplation of misery (adinavanupassana-ñana): seeing all fashionings as a mass of pain and stress, arising only to age, sicken, disband, and die.

e. Contemplation of disgust (nibbidanupassana-ñana): viewing all fashionings with a sense of weariness and disenchantment with regard to the cycle of birth, aging, illness, and death through the various way-stations in the round of existence; seeing the pain and harm, feeling disdain and estrangement, with no longing to be involved with any fashionings at all. Just as a golden King Swan — who ordinarily delights only in the foothills of Citta Peak and the great Himalayan lakes — would feel nothing but disgust at the idea of bathing in a cesspool at the gate of an outcaste village, in the same way the arising of insight causes a sense of disgust for all fashionings to appear.

f. The desire for freedom (muñcitukamyata-ñana): sensing a desire to escape from all fashionings that appear, just as when a man goes down to bathe in a pool and — meeting a poisonous snake or a crocodile — will aim at nothing but escape.

g. Reflective contemplation (patisankhanupassana-ñana): trying to figure out a way to escape from all fashionings that appear, in the same way that a caged quail keeps looking for a way to escape from its cage.

h. Equanimity with regard to fashionings (sankharupekkha-ñana): viewing all fashionings with a sense of indifference, just as a husband and wife might feel indifferent to each other's activities after they have gained a divorce.

i. Knowledge in accordance with the truth (saccanulomika-ñana): seeing all fashionings — all five aggregates — in terms of the four Noble truths.
* * *

All of these stages of insight are nothing other than the sixth level of purification:

6. Purification through knowledge and vision of the way (patipada-ñanadassana-visuddhi): At this point, our way is cleared. Just as a man who has cut all the tree stumps in his path level to the ground can then walk with ease, so it is with knowledge on this level: We have gotten past the corruptions of insight, but the roots — avijja, or unawareness — are still in the ground.

The next step is to develop the mind higher and higher along the lines of liberating insight until you reach the highest plane of the mundane level leading to the noble paths, beginning with the path opening onto the stream to nibbana. This level is termed:

7. Purification of knowledge and vision (ñanadassana-visuddhi): At this point, devote yourself to reviewing the stages of liberating insight through which you have passed, back and forth, so that each stage leads on to the next, from the very beginning all the way to knowledge in accordance with the truth and back, so that your perception in terms of the four Noble Truths is absolutely clear. If your powers of discernment are relatively weak, you will have to review the series three times in immediate succession before change-of-lineage knowledge (gotarabhu-ñana, knowledge of nibbana) will arise as the result. If your powers of discernment are moderate, change-of- lineage knowledge will arise after you have reviewed the series twice in succession. If your powers of discernment are tempered and strong, it will arise after you have reviewed the series once. Thus the sages of the past divided those who reach the first noble path and fruition into three sorts: Those with relatively weak powers of discernment will have to be reborn another seven times; those with moderate powers of discernment will have to be reborn another three or four times; those with quick powers of discernment will have to be reborn only once.

The different speeds at which individuals realize the first path and its fruition are determined by their temperaments and propensities. The slowest class are those who have developed two parts tranquillity to one part insight. The intermediate class are those who have developed one part tranquillity to one part insight. Those with the quickest and strongest insight are those who have developed one part tranquillity to two parts insight. Having developed the beginning parts of the path in different ways — here we are referring only to those parts of the path consisting of tranquillity and insight — they see clearly into the four Noble Truths at different mental moments.

In the end, it all comes down to seeing the five aggregates clearly and unmistakably in terms of the four Noble Truths. What does it mean to see clearly and unmistakably? And what are the terms of the four Noble Truths? This can be explained as follows: Start out by fixing your attention on a result and then trace back to its causes. Focus, for instance, on physical and mental phenomena as they arise and pass away in the present. This is the truth of stress (dukkha-sacca), as in the Pali phrase,

nama-rupam aniccam,
nama-rupam dukkham,
nama-rupam anatta:

'All physical and mental phenomena are equally inconstant, stressful, and not-self.' Fix your attention on their arising and changing, seeing that birth is stressful, aging is stressful, illness and death are stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair are stressful; in short, the five aggregates are stressful. What is the cause? When you trace back to the cause for stress, you'll find that craving for sensual objects — sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations and ideas — is one cause, termed sensual craving (kama-tanha). Then focus in on the mind so as to see the intermediate-level cause and you'll see that 'At this moment the mind is straying, wishing that physical and mental phenomena — form, feelings, labels, fashionings, and consciousness — would be in line with its wants.' This wish is termed craving for becoming (bhava-tanha). Focus in again on the mind so as to see the subtle cause and you'll see that, 'At this moment the mind is flinching, wishing that physical and mental phenomena wouldn't change, that they would stay under its control.' This wish is termed craving for no becoming (vibhava-tanha), i.e., craving for things to stay constant in line with one's wishes.

These three forms of craving arise when the mind is deluded. Focus in and investigate that deluded mental state until you can see that it's inconstant, stressful, and not-self. Tap Craving on his shoulder and call him by name until, embarrassed and ashamed, he wanes from the heart, in line with the teaching: 'The lack of involvement with that very craving, the release from it, the relinquishing of it, the abandonment of it, the disbanding of it through the lack of any remaining affection: This is the disbanding of stress.'

The mind that switches back and forth between knowing and being deluded is all one and the same mind. Craving lands on it, not allowing it to develop the path and gain true knowledge, just as flocks of birds landing on a tall, unsteady, tapering tree can cause it to shudder and sway and come crashing down. Thus the Noble Disciples have focused on craving and discarded it, leaving only nirodha, disbanding. The act of disbanding can be divided into two — the disbanding of physical and mental phenomena; or into three — the disbanding of sensual craving, craving for becoming, and craving for no becoming; or into four — the disbanding of feelings, labels, fashionings, and consciousness of various things. Add the disbanding of physical phenomena to the last list and you have five. We could keep going on and on: If you can let go, everything disbands. What this means simply is that the heart no longer clings to these things, no longer gives them sustenance............