Because I Care ~ INSIGHT, BY THE
extract from Ven. Buddhadasa’s book,
HANDBOOK FOR MANKIND).
chapter we shall see how concentration may come about
naturally on the one hand, and as a result of organized
practice on the other. The end result is identical
in the two cases: the mind is concentrated and fit
to be used for carrying out close introspection. One
thing must be noted, however: the intensity of concentration
that comes about naturally is usually sufficient and
appropriate for introspection and insight, whereas
the concentration resulting from organized training
is usually excessive, more than can be made use of.
Furthermore, misguided satisfaction with that highly
developed concentration may result. While the mind
is fully concentrated, it is likely to be experiencing
such a satisfying kind of bliss and well-being that
the meditator may become attached to it or imagine
it to be the Fruit of the Path. Naturally-occurring
concentration, which is sufficient and suitable for
use in introspection, is harmless, having none of
the disadvantages inherent in concentration developed
by means of intensive training.
Tripitaka, there are numerous references to people
attaining naturally all states of Path and Fruit.
This generally came about in the presence of the Buddha
Himself, but also happened later with other teachers.
These people did not go into the forest and sit, assiduously
practicing concentration on certain objects in the
way described in later manuals.
no organized effort was involved when the first five
disciples of the Buddha attained arahantship on hearing
the Discourse on Non-Selfhood, or by the one-thousand
hermits on hearing the Fire Sermon. In these cases,
keen, penetrating insight came about quite naturally.
These examples clearly show that natural concentration
is liable to develop on its own while one is trying
to understand clearly some question, and that the
resulting insight, as long as it is firmly established,
must be quite intense and stable. It happens naturally,
automatically, in just the same way as the mind becomes
concentrated the moment we set about arithmetic. Likewise
in firing a gun, when we take aim, the mind automatically
becomes concentrated and steady. This is how naturally-occurring
concentration comes about. We normally overlook it
completely because it does not appear the least bit
magical, miraculous, or awe-inspiring. But through
the power of just this naturally-occurring concentration,
most of us could actually attain liberation. We could
attain the Fruit of the Path, Nirvana, arahantship,
just by means of natural concentration.
overlook this naturally-occurring concentration. It
is something most of us either already have, or can
readily develop. We have to do everything we can to
cultivate and develop it, to make it function perfectly
and yield the appropriate results, just as did most
of the people who succeeded in becoming arahants,
none of whom knew anything of modern concentration
us look at the nature of the states on inner awareness
leading up to full insight into ‘the world’,
that is, into the five aggregates. The first stage
is joy (piti), mental happiness or spiritual well-being.
Doing good in some way, even giving alms— considered
the most-basic form of merit-making— can be
a source of joy. Higher up, at the level of morality,
completely blameless conduct by way of word and action
brings an increase in joy. Then in the case of concentration,
we discover that there is a definite kind of delight
associated with the lower stages of concentration.
rapture has in itself the power to induce tranquillity.
Normally, the mind is quite unrestrained, continually
falling slave to all sorts of thoughts and feelings
associated with enticing things outside. It is normally
restless, not calm. But as spiritual joy becomes established,
calm and steadiness are bound to increase in proportion.
When steadiness has been perfected, the result is
full concentration. The mind becomes tranquil, steady,
flexible, manageable, light and at ease, ready to
be used for any desired purpose, in particular for
the elimination of the defilements.
not a case of the mind’s being rendered silent,
hard and rocklike. Nothing like that happens at all.
The body feels normal, but the mind is especially
calm and suitable for use in thinking and introspection.
It is perfectly clear, perfectly cool, perfectly still
and restrained. In other words, it is fit for work,
ready to know. This is the degree of concentration
to be aimed for, not the very deep concentration where
one sits rigidly like a stone image, quite devoid
of awareness. Sitting in deep concentration like that,
one is in no position to investigate anything. A deeply
concentrated mind cannot practice introspection at
all. It is in a state of unawareness and is of no
use for insight. DEEP CONCENTRATION IS A MAJOR OBSTACLE
TO INSIGHT PRACTICE. To practice introspection one
must first return to the shallower levels of concentration;
then one can make use of the power the mind has acquired.
Highly-developed concentration is just a tool. In
this developing of insight by the nature method, we
don’t have to attain deep concentration and
sit with the body rigid. Rather, we aim at a calm,
steady mind, one so fit for work that when it is applied
to insight practice, it gains right understanding
with regard to the entire world. Insight so developed
is natural insight, the same sort as was gained by
some individuals while sitting listening to the Buddha
expounding Dharma. It is conducive to thought and
introspection of the right kind, the kind that brings
understanding. And it involves neither ceremonial
procedures nor miracles.
doesn’t mean, however, that insight will arise
instantaneously. One can’t be an arahant straight
off. The first step in knowledge may come about at
any time, depending once again on the intensity of
the concentration. It may happen that what arises
is not true insight, because one has been practicing
wrongly or has been surrounded by too many false views.
But however it turns out, the insight that does arise
is bound to be something quite special, for instance,
extraordinarily clear and profound. If the knowledge
gained is right knowledge, corresponding with reality,
corresponding with Dharma, then it will progress,
developing ultimately into right and true knowledge
of all phenomena. If insight develops in only small
measure, it may convert a person into an ariyan at
the lowest stage; or if it is not sufficient to do
that, it will just make him a high-minded individual,
an ordinary person of good qualities. If the environment
is suitable and good qualities have been properly
and adequately established, it is possible to become
an arahant. It all depends on the circumstances. But
however far things go, as long as the mind has natural
concentration, this factor called insight is bound
to arise and to correspond more or less closely with
reality. Because we, being Buddhists, have heard about,
thought about and studied the world, the five aggregates
and phenomena, in the hope of coming to understand
their true nature, it follows that the knowledge we
acquire while in a calm and concentrated state will
not be in any way misleading. It is bound to be always
‘insight into the true nature of things’
refers to transcience, unsatisfactoriness and non-selfhood,
seeing that nothing is worth getting, nothing is worth
being, seeing that no object whatsoever should be
grasped at and clung to as being a self or as belonging
to a self, as being good or bad, attractive or repulsive.
Liking or disliking anything, even if it is only an
idea or a memory, is clinging. To say that nothing
is worth getting or being is the same as to say that
nothing is worth clinging to. ‘Getting’
refers to setting one’s heart on property, position,
wealth, or any pleasing object. ‘Being’
refers to the awareness of one’s status as husband,
wife, rich man, poor man, winner, loser, or human
being, or even the awareness of being oneself. If
we really look deeply at it, even being oneself is
no fun, is wearisome, because it is a source of suffering."
late Buddhadasa was one of Thailand’s most famous