Self-identification view. The view that mistakenly identifies any of the khandha as "self"; the first of the ten fetters (samyojana). Abandonment of sakkaya-ditthi is one of the hallmarks of stream-entry (see sotapanna).
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Personality view or self Identity view (sakkaya-ditthi[sakkaaya-di.t.thi*]) is one of the main fetters that binds us to samsara. It is the first (lower fetter) of the ten fetters. Release from this is the hardest but the most important breakthrough to become a Stream Enterer and finally become a Stream Winner, the first stage of enlightenment. The stream winner also has break two more fetters and they are discussed in detail in other posts. (See labels to learn about fetters/stages of enlighenment/Stream Winner). For the purpose of this post we will mainly focus on the personality view.
There are 4 types of Personality Views that can arise for each of the five aggregates. (Please see Figure 2).
For example for the body (form)
1. The body is "me"
2. "I am" the body
3. The body is in "me"
4. "I am" in the body
The same applies to other four aggregates, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. Therefore there are twenty types of personality views one could have (4X5=20). Please see Figure 1 and 2.
This view is driven by three fundamental defilements of the mind. Its the craving, conceit and ignorance.
The main three themes that comes up again and agin in the personality view are "mine" (due to craving), this is me (due to conceit) and this is my self (due to ignorance).
There is an Excellent sutta to contemplate and investigate Not-self (Anatta). This is the second disclose of the Buddha after his enlightenment. If one contemplates this sutta mindfully often enough applying to oneself, this can be excellent tool to gain some insight into the true nature of the personality view. This message of Not-self ("Anatta") comes up in many other suttas too and you can read them by clicking on the links given at the end of this post.
Before starting to contemplate on this sutta you need to contemplate on some background information on the five aggregates to gain some insight into how they work. First you need to know is their precursors or their nutriments. After that you need to contemplate on what basis you say that the five aggregates are impermanent. Otherwise the whole exercise may not make much sense.
1. The physical body or form- is made of the four main elements, the solid, liquid, heat and gas . The body is dependent on nutriments, the physical foods both coarse and fine. Without nutriments the body cannot be sustained. We all know that all condition things that are subject to birth, change while existing and cease to exist eventually. The body is no exception. It is not so difficult to see the impermanent nature of the body compared to the other aggregates. We just have be mindful and contemplate.
(Please see the labels to learn more about elements and nutriments)
2. Feeling- Feeling arises dependent on contact as its nutriment. Contact is impermanent as it depends of union of thee which are also impermanent. Something that arises of an impermanent thing cannot be permanent.
Please see the two beautiful similes in this post:
This way we can contemplate on the nutriment and the impermanence of feeling.
3. Perception - same as feeling above.
4. Mental formation - same as feeling above.
5. Consciousness- The Nutriment for is Name-and-Form. From the suttas its not very clear the exact relationship between the two. However it is clearly stated that one cannot survive without the other, suggesting they are co-dependent. My "mind works" model give some some insights to how they may be co-dependent (please see label on the mind works model). To contemplate on impermanence of consciousness you can use same principal as in feeling. When name-and-form is impermanent it is impossible for the consciousness to be permanent.
Now to our main discussion....
To understand the sutta better here I have first extracted the discussion on the body (form) aggregate from the sutta.
Now this is how it goes:
"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
Please read the full sutta:
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic
To listen to a short talk on the personality view of sakkaya-ditthi
Other sutta on Anatta:
Girimananda Sutta: To Girimananda ( Anatta used as a meditation subject here)
Nandakovada Sutta: Nandaka's Exhortation (MN 146) [Thanissaro]
"There are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, intellectual intention the third, and consciousness the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born."
In many suttas Buddha talks about these four kinds of nutriment (food) for the maintenance of beings that already have come to be and for the support of those seeking a new existence (Figure 1).
The Four Nutriments:
1. Physical nutriment : gross or subtle (kabali'nkaaro)
2. Contact nutriment (phassa)
3. Mental volition (formations) nutriment (mano-sancetanaa)
4. Consciousness nutriment (viññaa"na)
2. Contact nutriment (phassa)
3. Mental volition (formations) nutriment (mano-sancetanaa)
4. Consciousness nutriment (viññaa"na)
Nayna ponika Thera says:
"All beings subsist on nutriment" — this, according to the Buddha, is the one single fact about life that, above all, deserves to be remembered, contemplated and understood. If understood widely and deeply enough, this saying of the Buddha reveals indeed a truth that leads to the root of all existence and also to its uprooting....
....the laws of nutriment govern both biological and mental life, and this fact was expressed by the Buddha when speaking of four kinds of nutriments
.... It is hunger that stands behind the entire process of nutrition, wielding its whip relentlessly. The body, from birth to death, craves ceaselessly for material food; and mind hungers as eagerly for its own kind of nourishment, for ever new sense-impressions and for an ever expanding universe of ideas.
.....Craving (ta.nhaa) is the principal condition of any "in-take" or "up-take" (upaadaana), that is, of nutriment in its widest sense. This is the first factor common to all types of nutriment, be they physical or mental.
So Buddha says "With the arising of craving there is the arising of nutriment. With the cessation of craving there is the cessation of nutriment."
Now let us examine how it will work in the "mind works" model (Figure 2). The physical nutriment essential to sustain the 5 sense bases, eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. The three types of mental nutriment sustains the mind. The Contact food (shown in green), Mental volition /formations (shown in orange) and the 6 different Consciousness nutriments (are shown in purple). The dotted green boxes and arrows highlights or points to these foods. From the model it is clear that entire existence of a person is a self-sustained environment provided that food is supplied from outside (physical) and within (mental).
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Unhappiness (stress or suffering) is caused by Mental Proliferation-it is like a 'cancer' in the mind
Figure 1 shows the path of mental proliferation. The numbers from 1-4 indicates the direction of the flow of this process. Also thoughts can be retrieved from the memory to add to this process.
Figure 2 shows where we can fix this problem of mental proliferation. It is mainly The Foundations of Mindfulness and insight meditation (yellow and green bubbles), taught by the Buddha about 2600 ago. Parts of mindfulness meditation is now used in many clinical applications as a secular form and it is now called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
A cancer is generally defined as "uninhibited proliferation of cells". As we all know this can cause all sorts of problems in the body. Similarly in the mind too uninhibited mental proliferation of thoughts can cause all sorts of problems in the mind. Thoughts about the past such as "I should not have done this or that..." may lead someone to depression. In the same way uncontrollable proliferation of thoughts about the future such "what if this happens..." may take someone to anxiety states. This the cause of our unhappy states of mind.
So can we understand how this "mental proliferation" work in the mind?
In Madhupindika Sutta: The Ball of Honey Buddha gives us great insights about this process of "mental proliferation" or term called "papañca" in Pali.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu says "What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one "papañcizes." Through the process of papañca, the agent then becomes a victim of his/her own patterns of thinking: Based on what a person papañcizes, the perceptions & categories of papañca assail him/her with regard to past, present, & future forms cognizable via the eye [as with the remaining senses]
contact > feeling > perception > thinking (mental formations) > the perceptions & categories of papañca (past, present and the future).
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In this sutta Buddha used a beautiful simile of a tree...
If these five means of propagation are broken, rotten, damaged by wind & sun, immature, and poorly-buried, but there is earth (soil) & water, it would not exhibit growth, increase, & proliferation.
If these five means of propagation are not broken, not rotten, not damaged by wind & sun, mature, and well-buried, and there is earth (soil) & water, they would exhibit growth, increase, & proliferation.
In this simile earth (soil) where the tree grows is compared to form, feeling, perception and mental formations (fabrications). Water compared craving (delight & passion). The five means of propagation is compared to how consciousness together with its nutriments (Figure 1).
Therefore consciousness, when taking a stance, stand attached to form, feeling, perceptions and mental formations (fabrications). It is supported by form, feeling, perceptions and mental formations(fabrications). It is also established on form, form, feeling, perceptions and mental formations(fabrications) watered with carving, it would exhibit growth, increase, & proliferation (Figure 1).
Buddha said" "Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from mental formations (fabrications),' that would be impossible. (Please See Figure 2 to examine the their inter-relationship)
He also said "If a monk abandons craving for form, feeling, perceptions, mental formations (fabrications) and consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of craving, the support is cut off, and there is no base for consciousness. Consciousness, thus unestablished, not proliferating, not performing any function, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"
So if you compare this to the above simile of the tree, it will be like trying to propagate a tree when the means of propagation (roots, stems, etc) are broken, rotten, damaged by wind & sun, immature, and poorly-buried, and there is no earth & water, it would not exhibit growth, increase, & proliferation. It will be impossible for a tree grow!
Now there some important points in this sutta about the five aggregates.
According to Buddha consciousness cannot....
1. Come or go without feeling, perceptions, mental formations (fabrications).
2. Pass away or arise without feeling, perceptions, mental formations (fabrications)
3. Grow, increase or proliferate without feeling, perceptions, mental formations (fabrications)
In other suttas it has been said that consciousness and name-and-form (namarupa) are dependent on each other. One cannot survive without the other.
For example, Buddha said: "... Ananda, from name-and-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form" (Maha-nidana Sutta).
The name-and-form consists of feeling, perceptions, mental formations (fabrications), contact and attention according to sutta. So if if we apply this to my previous mind works model#1 I proposed (Figure 3) you can this model can work according to this sutta. As we continue explore more we will try the apply other other related suttas and test this hypothesis (model) again and again.