Friday, November 5, 2010

Why do people live in hostility, violence, rivalry and ill will?

Figure 1

Figure 2 (Model #1)

Figure 3 (Model #2)

Figure 4 ( A new proposed Model)

This is a another sutta which talks about mental proliferation and I decided to explore this and relate this to my mind woks model.

Sakka, came and asked Buddha some important questions. At the beginning they look like worldly questions but later he gets deeper into the workings of the mind. I made a flow chart (Figure 1) to summarize the first part of the sutta that pertains to craving, perception, mental proliferation and how to stop unskilful mental proliferation and perception. I will try to apply this to the mind works model and see if the model is compatible with this sutta.

Also please note that I have used the word craving instead of desire, mental formations instead of thinking and mental proliferation instead of categories of objectification (papañca.) in the flow chart compared to the sutta for easy comparison of terms. I also plan to confirm these terms with the original Pali sutta.

Points to note in this sutta are:

1. Carving can be a cause of mental formations. This is some new information not found in the mind works model. (I also think mental formations and perceptions can also positively influence craving, just like feeling does and should be included in the flow chart. However we all know that feeling is regarded as the main bait for craving and this is often cited in suttas that deals mainly with dependent origination). Also if craving can influence mental formations, it is possible that craving can change our perception. For example the famous quote "we see what we only want (crave) to see." I therefore have now proposed a new version of mind works model. (Figure 4).

2. Mental formations results from perception as said in the Madhupindika Sutta: The Ball of Honey and this is compatible with the mind works (Figure 2, Figure 4).

3. Mental proliferations too here is regarded as result of mental formations and is also compatible with the mind works model (Figure 2, Figure 4).

4. To stop unskillful mental proliferations and perception, wise attention to all three types feelings (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral) should be applied. Here what one should be pursue the activities that produce the pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings that should decline the unskillful mental qualities and increase the skillful mental qualities. Example of pleasant activity that would increase skillful mental qualities would be contemplation of the feeling as in the The Foundations of Mindfulness: Satipatthana Sutta/attainment of Jhanas (higher mental absorptions) or insight meditation or vipassana where you contemplate three characteristics (Three Basic Facts of Existence), impermanence, suffering and not -self. This again is compatible with the mind works model #2 (Figure 3).

To read the full sutta:
Sakka-pañha Sutta: Sakka's Questions
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Also read: Categories of unwise attention (see MN 2)

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