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Study Guide on Right View with Ajahn Thanissaro (Geoff)

Right View & Appropriate Attention

THE USES OF CLINGING

    These four are clingings: sensuality-clinging, view-clinging, habit-&-practice-

clinging, and doctrine-of-self-clinging. This is called clinging.” — SN 12:2

   [Ven. Ānanda:] “It’s amazing, lord. It’s astounding. For truly, the Blessed One has

declared to us the way to cross over the flood by going from one support to the next.”

— MN 106

    The Blessed One said: “Suppose a man were traveling along a path. He would see

a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore

secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this

shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, ‘Here is this great expanse of

water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from

risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other.

What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, & leaves and, having bound them

together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in

dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands & feet?’ Then the man,

having gathered grass, twigs, branches, & leaves, having bound them together to

make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft,

making an effort with his hands & feet. Having crossed over to the further shore, he

might think, ‘How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this

raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on

the further shore. Why don’t I, having hoisted it on my head or carrying it on my

back, go wherever I like?’ What do you think, monks? Would the man, in doing that,

be doing what should be done with the raft?“

    “No, lord.”

    “And what should the man do in order to be doing what should be done with the

raft? There is the case where the man, having crossed over, would think, ‘How

useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an

effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why

don’t I, having dragged it on dry land or sinking it in the water, go wherever I like?’ In

doing this, he would be doing what should be done with the raft. In the same way,

monks, I have taught the Dhamma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing

over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dhamma as taught

compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dhammas, to say nothing of non-

Dhammas.” — MN 22

    “‘The great expanse of water’ stands for the fourfold flood: the flood of sensuality,

the flood of becoming, the flood of views, & the flood of ignorance.

    ‘The near shore, dubious & risky’ stands for self-identification. ‘The further shore,

secure and free from risk’ stands for unbinding. ‘The raft’ stands for just this noble

eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood,

right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.” — SN 35:197

    One of the wanderers said to Anāthapiṇḍika the householder, “The cosmos is

eternal. Only this is true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I

have.”

    Another wanderer said to Anāthapiṇḍika, “The cosmos is not eternal. Only this is

true; anything otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have.”

    Another wanderer said, “The cosmos is finite…”…“The cosmos is

infinite…”…“The soul & the body are the same…”…“The soul is one thing and the body

another…”…“After death a Tathāgata exists…”…“After death a Tathāgata does not

exist…”…“After death a Tathāgata both does & does not exist…”…“After death a

Tathāgata neither does nor does not exist. Only this is true; anything otherwise is

worthless. This is the sort of view I have.”

    When this had been said, Anāthapiṇḍika the householder said to the wanderers,

“As for the venerable one who says, ‘The cosmos is eternal. Only this is true; anything

otherwise is worthless. This is the sort of view I have,’ his view arises from his own

inappropriate attention or in dependence on the words of another. Now this view has

been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently co-arisen. Whatever has

been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently co-arisen: That is

inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. This venerable one thus adheres to that

very stress, submits himself to that very stress.” [Similarly for the other positions.]

    When this had been said, the wanderers said to Anāthapiṇḍika the householder,

“We have each & every one expounded to you in line with our own positions. Now

tell us what views you have.”

    “Whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed, dependently co-

arisen: That is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. Whatever is stress is not

me, is not what I am, is not myself. This is the sort of view I have.”

    “So, householder, whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed,

dependently co-arisen: That is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress. You thus

adhere to that very stress, submit yourself to that very stress.”

    “Venerable sirs, whatever has been brought into being, is fabricated, willed,

dependently co-arisen: That is inconstant. Whatever is inconstant is stress.

Whatever is stress is not me, is not what I am, is not my self. Having seen this well

with right discernment as it has come to be, I also discern the higher escape from it

as it has come to be.” — AN 10:93

    WRONG V IEWS

    “Monks, there are these three sectarian guilds that—when cross-examined,

pressed for reasons, & rebuked by wise people—even though they may explain

otherwise, remain stuck in (a doctrine of) inaction. Which three?

    “There are contemplatives & brahmans who hold this teaching, hold this view:

‘Whatever a person experiences—pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful—

is all caused by what was done in the past.’ There are contemplatives & brahmans

who hold this teaching, hold this view: ‘Whatever a person experiences—pleasant,

painful, or neither pleasant nor painful—is all caused by a supreme being’s act of

creation.’ There are contemplatives & brahmans who hold this teaching, hold this

view: ‘Whatever a person experiences—pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor

painful—is all without cause & without condition.’

    “Having approached the contemplatives & brahmans who hold that… ‘Whatever

a person experiences… is all caused by what was done in the past,’ I said to them: ‘Is

it true that you hold that… whatever a person experiences… is all caused by what

was done in the past?’ Thus asked by me, they admitted, ‘Yes.’ Then I said to them,

‘Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in

the past. A person is a thief… uncelibate… a liar… a divisive speaker… a harsh

speaker… an idle chatterer… greedy… malicious… a holder of wrong views because

of what was done in the past.’ When one falls back on what was done in the past as

being essential, monks, there is no desire, no effort (at the thought), ‘This should be

done. This shouldn’t be done.’ When one can’t pin down as a truth or reality what

should & shouldn’t be done, one dwells bewildered & unprotected. One cannot

righteously refer to oneself as a contemplative. This was my first righteous

refutation of those contemplatives & brahmans who hold to such teachings, such

views.

    “[Similarly with the other two views.]” — AN 3:62

    [King Ajātasattu is speaking to the Buddha:] “Pūraṇa Kassapa said to me, ‘Great

king, in acting or getting others to act, in mutilating or getting others to mutilate, in

torturing or getting others to torture, in inflicting sorrow or in getting others to inflict

sorrow, in tormenting or getting others to torment, in intimidating or getting others

to intimidate, in taking life, taking what is not given, breaking into houses,

plundering wealth, committing burglary, ambushing highways, committing adultery,

speaking falsehood—one does no evil. If with a razor-edged disk one were to turn all

the living beings on this earth to a single heap of flesh, a single pile of flesh, there

would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the

right bank of the Ganges, killing and getting others to kill, mutilating and getting

others to mutilate, torturing and getting others to torture, there would be no evil

from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the left bank of the

Ganges, giving and getting others to give, making sacrifices and getting others to

make sacrifices, there would be no merit from that cause, no coming of merit.

Through generosity, self-control, restraint, and truthful speech there is no merit

from that cause, no coming of merit.’…

    “Makkhali Gosāla said to me, ‘Great king, there is no cause, no requisite

condition, for the defilement of beings. Beings are defiled without cause, without

requisite condition. There is no cause, no requisite condition, for the purification of

beings. Beings are purified without cause, without requisite condition. There is

nothing self-caused, nothing other-caused, nothing human-caused. There is no

strength, no effort, no human energy, no human endeavor. All living beings, all life,

all beings, all souls are powerless, devoid of strength, devoid of effort. Subject to the

changes of fate, serendipity, & nature, they are sensitive to pleasure & pain in the

six great classes of birth.

    “‘Though one might think, “Through this morality, this practice, this austerity, or

this holy life I will ripen unripened kamma and eliminate ripened kamma whenever

touched by it”—that is impossible. Pleasure & pain are measured out. The

wandering-on is fixed in its limits. There is no shortening or lengthening, no

accelerating or decelerating. Just as a ball of string, when thrown, comes to its end

simply by unwinding, in the same way, having transmigrated and wandered on, the

wise & the foolish alike will put an end to pain.’…

    “Ajita Kesakambalin said to me, ‘Great king, there is nothing given, nothing

offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is

no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings;

no contemplatives or brahmans who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim

this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. A

person is a composite of four primary elements. At death, the earth (in the body)

returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. The fire returns to and

merges with the external fire-substance. The liquid returns to and merges with the

external liquid-substance. The wind returns to and merges with the external wind-

substance. The sense-faculties scatter into space. Four men, with the bier as the

fifth, carry the corpse. Its eulogies are sounded only as far as the charnel ground.

The bones turn pigeon-colored. The offerings end in ashes. Generosity is taught by

idiots. The words of those who speak of existence after death are false, empty

chatter. With the break-up of the body, the wise & the foolish alike are annihilated,

destroyed. They do not exist after death.’…

    “Pakudha Kaccāyana said to me, ‘Great king, there are these seven substances—

unmade, irreducible, uncreated, without a creator, barren, stable as a mountain-

peak, standing firm like a pillar—that do not alter, do not change, do not interfere

with one another, are incapable of causing one another pleasure, pain, or both

pleasure & pain. Which seven? The earth-substance, the liquid-substance, the fire-

substance, the wind-substance, pleasure, pain, & the soul as the seventh….

    “‘And among them there is no killer nor one who causes killing, no hearer nor

one who causes hearing, no cognizer nor one who causes cognition. When one cuts

off (another person’s) head, there is no one taking anyone’s life. It is simply between

the seven substances that the sword passes.’” — DN 2

“Now, householders, of those contemplatives & brahmans who hold this

doctrine, hold this view—’There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed.

There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next

world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no contemplatives or

brahmans who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next

after having directly known and realized it for themselves’—it can be expected that,

shunning these three skillful activities—good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct,

good mental conduct—they will adopt & practice these three unskillful activities: bad

bodily conduct, bad verbal conduct, bad mental conduct. Why is that? Because those

venerable contemplatives & brahmans do not see, in unskillful activities, the

drawbacks, the degradation, and the defilement; nor in skillful activities the rewards

of renunciation, resembling cleansing….

    “Now, householders, of those contemplatives & brahmans who hold this

doctrine, hold this view—’There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed.

There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next

world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are

contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this

world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves’—it can be

expected that, shunning these three unskillful activities—bad bodily conduct, bad

verbal conduct, bad mental conduct—they will adopt & practice these three skillful

activities: good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct. Why is

that? Because those venerable contemplatives & brahmans see in unskillful

activities the drawbacks, the degradation, and the defilement; and in skillful

activities the rewards of renunciation, resembling cleansing.

    “With regard to this, an observant person considers thus: ‘If there is the next

world, then this venerable person—on the breakup of the body, after death—will

reappear in a good destination, a heavenly world. Even if we didn’t speak of the next

world, and there weren’t the true statement of those venerable contemplatives &

brahmans, this venerable person is still praised in the here-&-now by the observant

as a person of good habits & right view: one who holds to a doctrine of existence.’ If

there really is a next world, then this venerable person has made a good throw twice,

in that he is praised by the observant here-&-now; and in that—with the breakup of

the body, after death—he will reappear in a good destination, a heavenly world. Thus

this safe-bet teaching, when well grasped & adopted by him, covers both sides, and

leaves behind the possibility of the unskillful….

    “There are some contemplatives & brahmans who hold this doctrine, hold this

view: ‘There is no total cessation of becoming [i.e., unbinding].’ Some contemplatives

& brahmans, speaking in direct opposition to those contemplatives & brahmans, say

this: ‘There is total cessation of becoming.’ What do you think, householders? Don’t

these contemplatives & brahmans speak in direct opposition to each other?”

“Yes, lord.”

“With regard to this, an observant person considers thus: ‘As for those venerable

contemplatives & brahmans who hold this doctrine, hold this view—“There is no

total cessation of becoming”—I haven’t seen that. As for those venerable

contemplatives & brahmans who hold this doctrine, hold this view—“There is total

cessation of becoming”—I haven’t known that. If I, not knowing, not seeing, were to

take one side and declare, “Only this is true, anything otherwise is worthless,” that

would not be fitting for me. As for those venerable contemplatives & brahmans who

hold this doctrine, hold this view—“There is no total cessation of becoming”: If their

statement is true, there’s the safe-bet possibility that I might [at best] reappear

among the perception-made devas of no form. As for those venerable

contemplatives & brahmans who hold this doctrine, hold this view—“There is total

cessation of becoming”: If their statement is true, it is possible that I will be totally

unbound in the here-&-now. As for those venerable contemplatives & brahmans

who hold this doctrine, hold this view—“There is no total cessation of becoming”: This

view of theirs borders on passion, borders on fettering, borders on relishing, borders

on grasping, borders on clinging. As for those venerable contemplatives & brahmans

who hold this doctrine, hold this view—“There is total cessation of becoming”: This

view of theirs borders on non-passion, borders on non-fettering, borders on non-

relishing, borders on non-grasping, borders on non-clinging.’ Reflecting thus, he

practices for disenchantment toward becomings, for dispassion toward becomings,

and for the cessation of becomings.” — MN 60

    AGNOSTICISM

    “There is the case where a certain contemplative or brahman doesn’t discern as it

has come to be that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is unskillful.’ The thought occurs to

him: ‘I don’t discern as it has come to be that “This is skillful,” or that “This is

unskillful.” If I—not discerning as it has come to be that “This is skillful,” not

discerning as it has come to be that “This is unskillful”—were to declare that “This is

skillful,” or that “This is unskillful”: That would be a desire on my part, a passion, an

aversion, or an irritation on my part. Whatever would be a desire or passion or

aversion or irritation on my part would be a clinging on my part. Whatever would be

a clinging on my part would be a distress for me. Whatever would be a distress for

me would be an obstacle for me.’ So, out of fear of clinging, a loathing for clinging,

he does not declare that ‘This is skillful,’ or that ‘This is unskillful.’ Being asked

questions regarding this or that, he resorts to verbal contortions, to eel-wriggling: ‘I

don’t think so. I don’t think in that way. I don’t think otherwise. I don’t think not. I

don’t think not not.’” — DN 1

    [An uninstructed run-of-the-mill person] may be doubtful & uncertain, having

come to no conclusion with regard to the true Dhamma. That doubt, uncertainty, &

coming-to-no-conclusion is a fabrication.

    “What is the cause, what is the origination, what is the birth, what is the coming-

into-existence of that fabrication? To an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person,

touched by what is felt born of contact with ignorance, craving arises. That

fabrication is born of that. And that fabrication is inconstant, fabricated, dependently

co-arisen. That craving… That feeling… That contact… That ignorance is

inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen. It is by knowing & seeing in this way

that one without delay puts an end to effluents.” — SN 22:81

    Then Vajjiya Māhita the householder went to where the wanderers of other

persuasions were staying. On arrival he greeted them courteously. After an

exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting

there, the wanderers said to him, “Is it true, householder, that the contemplative

Gotama criticizes all asceticism, that he categorically denounces & disparages all

ascetics who live the rough life?”

    “No, venerable sirs, the Blessed One does not criticize all asceticism, nor does he

categorically denounce or disparage all ascetics who live the rough life. The Blessed

One criticizes what should be criticized, and praises what should be praised.

Criticizing what should be criticized, praising what should be praised, the Blessed

One is one who speaks making distinctions, not one who speaks categorically on this

matter.”

    When this was said, one of the wanderers said to Vajjiya Māhita the

householder, “Now wait a minute, householder. This contemplative Gotama whom

you praise is a nihilist, one who doesn’t declare anything.”

    “I tell you, venerable sirs, that the Blessed One righteously declares that ‘This is

skillful.’ He declares that ‘This is unskillful.’ Declaring that ‘This is skillful’ and ‘This is

unskillful,’ he is one who has declared (a teaching). He is not a nihilist, one who

doesn’t declare anything.” — AN 10:94

RIGHT VIEW

    “Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents, siding

with merit, resulting in acquisitions [of becoming]; there is right view that is noble,

without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

    “And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in

acquisitions? ‘There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are

fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is

mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives

& brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next

after having directly known & realized it for themselves.’ This is the right view with

effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

    “And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a

factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of

discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right

view in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without

effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is

noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

    “One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong view & for entering into right

view: This is one’s right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter &

remain in right view: This is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities—

right view, right effort, & right mindfulness—run & circle around right view.” —

MN 117

    As Ven. Ānanda was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “I say

categorically, Ānanda, that bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental

misconduct should not be done.”

    “Given that the Blessed One has declared, lord, that bodily misconduct, verbal

misconduct, & mental misconduct should not be done, what drawbacks can one

expect when doing what should not be done?”

    “… One can fault oneself; observant people, on close examination, criticize one;

one’s bad reputation gets spread about; one dies confused; and—with the breakup of

the body, after death—one reappears in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a

lower realm, hell….

    “I say categorically, Ānanda, that good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, &

good mental conduct should be done.”

    “Given that the Blessed One has declared, lord, that good bodily conduct, good

verbal conduct, & good mental conduct should be done, what rewards can one

expect when doing what should be done?”

    “… One doesn’t fault oneself; observant people, on close examination, praise one;

one’s good reputation gets spread about; one dies unconfused; and—with the

breakup of the body, after death—one reappears in a good destination, in a heavenly

world.” — AN 2:18

    “Abandon what is unskillful, monks. It’s possible to abandon what is unskillful. If

it weren’t possible to abandon what is unskillful, I wouldn’t say to you, ‘Abandon

what is unskillful.’ But because it is possible to abandon what is unskillful, I say to

you, ‘Abandon what is unskillful.’ If this abandoning of what is unskillful were

conducive to harm and pain, I wouldn’t say to you, ‘Abandon what is unskillful.’ But

because this abandoning of what is unskillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I

say to you, ‘Abandon what is unskillful.’

    “Develop what is skillful, monks. It’s possible to develop what is skillful. If it

weren’t possible to develop what is skillful, I wouldn’t say to you, ‘Develop what is

skillful.’ But because it is possible to develop what is skillful, I say to you, ‘Develop

what is skillful.’ If this development of what is skillful were conducive to harm and

pain, I wouldn’t say to you, ‘Develop what is skillful.’ But because this development

of what is skillful is conducive to benefit and pleasure, I say to you, ‘Develop what is

skillful.’” — AN 2:19

    “And what have I taught and declared to be categorical teachings? ‘This is stress’ I

have taught and declared to be a categorical teaching. ‘This is the origination of

stress’… ‘This is the cessation of stress’… ‘This is the path of practice leading to the

cessation of stress’ I have taught and declared to be a categorical teaching. And why

have I taught and declared these teachings to be categorical? Because they are

conducive to the goal, conducive to the Dhamma, and basic to the holy life. They

lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to

self-awakening, to unbinding. That’s why I have taught and declared them to be

categorical.” — DN 9

    “And what is the faculty of discernment? There is the case where a monk, a

disciple of the noble ones, is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising &

passing away—noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. He discerns,

as it has come to be: ‘This is stress…This is the origination of stress…This is the

cessation of stress…This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’

This is called the faculty of discernment.” — SN 48:10

    “Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful,

death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful;

association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not

getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are

stressful.

    “And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that

makes for further becoming—accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here

& now there—i.e., craving for sensuality, craving for becoming, craving for non-

becoming.

    “And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless

fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very

craving.

    “And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation

of stress: precisely this noble eightfold path—right view, right resolve, right speech,

right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

    “‘This noble truth of stress is to be comprehended’ … ‘This noble truth of the

origination of stress is to be abandoned’ … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of stress

is to be realized’ … ‘This noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of

stress is to be developed’”— SN 56:11

APPROPRIATE ATTENTIO N

    “From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.

    “From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.

    “From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form….

    “And which name-&-form? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention:

This is called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four

great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are called name-&-form.

    “And which consciousness? These six are classes of consciousness: eye-

consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-

consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.

    “And which fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal

fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.

    “And which ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress,

not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the

cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.” — SN 12:2

    “A virtuous monk, Koṭṭhita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the

five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow,

painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Which five? The

form clinging-aggregate, the feeling clinging-aggregate, the perception clinging-

aggregate, the fabrications clinging-aggregate, the consciousness clinging-aggregate.

A virtuous monk should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-

aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an

affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. For it is possible that a virtuous

monk, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as

inconstant… not-self, would realize the fruit of stream-entry.” — SN 22:122

    “And what is the food for the arising of unarisen analysis of qualities as a factor

for awakening, or for the growth & increase of analysis of qualities… once it has

arisen? There are mental qualities that are skillful & unskillful, blameworthy &

blameless, gross & refined, siding with darkness & with light. To foster appropriate

attention to them: This is the food for the arising of unarisen analysis of qualities as

a factor for awakening, or for the growth & increase of analysis of qualities… once it

has arisen….

    “And what is lack of food for the arising of unarisen uncertainty, or for the growth

& increase of uncertainty once it has arisen? There are mental qualities that are

skillful & unskillful, blameworthy & blameless, gross & refined, siding with

darkness & with light. To foster appropriate attention to them: This is lack of food for

the arising of unarisen uncertainty, or for the growth & increase of uncertainty once

it has arisen.” — SN 46:51

“This is how [the uninstructed person] attends inappropriately: ‘Was I in the past?

Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been

what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future?

What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what

shall I be in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate

present: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from?

Where is it bound?’

    “As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him:

The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self

… or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self … or the view It is

precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self … or the view It is precisely by means

of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view

like this: This very self of mine—the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening

of good & bad actions—is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not

subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a

wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views.

Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from

birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not

freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

    “He [the instructed disciple of the noble ones] attends appropriately, This is stress

This is the origination of stress … This is the cessation of stress … This is the way

leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters

are abandoned in him: self-identification view, doubt, and grasping at habits &

practices.” — MN 2

    BEYOND RIGHT VIEW

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at

the Eastern Gatehouse. There he addressed Ven. Sāriputta: “Sāriputta, do you take it

on conviction that the faculty of conviction, when developed & pursued, gains a

footing in the deathless, has the deathless as its final end & consummation? Do you

take it on conviction that the faculty of persistence… mindfulness…

concentration… discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the

deathless, has the deathless as its final end & consummation?”

    “Lord, it’s not that I take it on conviction in the Blessed One that the faculty of

conviction… persistence… mindfulness… concentration… discernment, when

developed & pursued, gains a footing in the deathless, has the deathless as its final

end & consummation. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or

attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others

that the faculty of conviction… persistence… mindfulness… concentration…

discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the deathless, has the

deathless as its final end & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen,

penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or

uncertainty that the faculty of conviction… persistence… mindfulness…

concentration… discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the

deathless, has the deathless as its final end & consummation. And as for me, I have

known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment. I have no

doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction… persistence… mindfulness…

concentration… discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the

deathless, has the deathless as its final end & consummation.” — SN 48:44

    “Monks, there are these five faculties. Which five? The faculty of conviction, the

faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, the

faculty of discernment. When a disciple of the noble ones discerns, as they have

come to be, the origination, the passing away, the allure, the drawbacks, and the

escape from these five faculties, he is called a disciple of the noble ones who has

attained the stream: never again destined for the lower realms, certain, headed for

self-awakening.” — SN 48:3

FROM THE FOREST TRADITION

    If we can get our practice on the noble path, though, we’ll enter nibbāna. Virtue

will disband, concentration will disband, discernment will disband. In other words, we

won’t dwell on our knowledge or discernment. If we’re intelligent enough to know,

we simply know, without taking intelligence as being an essential part of ourselves.

On the lower level, we’re not stuck on virtue, concentration, or discernment. On a

higher level, we’re not stuck on the stages of stream-entry, once-returning, or non-

returning. Nibbāna isn’t stuck on the world, the world isn’t stuck on nibbāna. Only at

this point can we use the term ‘arahant.’

    This is where we can relax. They can say ‘inconstant,’ but it’s just what they say.

They can say ‘stress,’ but it’s just what they say. They can say ‘not-self,’ but it’s just

what they say. Whatever they say, that’s the way it is. It’s true for them, and they’re

completely right—but completely wrong. As for us, only if we can get ourselves

beyond right and wrong will we be doing fine. Roads are built for people to walk on,

but dogs and cats can walk on them as well. Sane people and crazy people will use

the roads. They didn’t build the roads for crazy people, but crazy people have every

right to use them. As for the precepts, even fools and idiots can observe them. The

same with concentration: Crazy or sane, they can come and sit. And discernment:

We all have the right to come and talk our heads off, but it’s simply a question of

being right or wrong.

    None of the valuables of the mundane world give any real pleasure. They’re

nothing but stress. They’re good as far as the world is concerned, but nibbāna doesn’t

have any need for them. Right views and wrong views are an affair of the world.

Nibbāna doesn’t have any right views or wrong views. For this reason, whatever is a

wrong view, we should abandon. Whatever is a right view, we should develop—until

the day it can fall from our grasp. That’s when we can be at our ease. — Ajaan Lee:

“Beyond Right & Wrong” in Inner Strength

    I’ll give you a simple comparison. Suppose you’ve bought a banana or a coconut

in the market and you walk along carrying it. Someone asks you, “Why did you buy

the banana?”

    “I bought it to eat it.”

    “But do you have to eat the peel, too?”

    “No.”

    “I don’t believe you. If you’re not going to eat the peel, why are you carrying it

too?”

    Or suppose you’re carrying a coconut:

    “Why are you carrying the coconut?”

    “I’m carrying it home to make a curry.”

    “And you’re going to curry the husk too?”

    “No.”

    “Then why are you carrying it?”

    So. With what you going to answer his question?

    With desire. If there’s no desire, you can’t give rise to ingenuity, to discernment.

    That’s the way it is as we make an effort in our meditation. Even though we do

this through letting go, it’s like the banana or the coconut: Why are you carrying the

peel or the husk? Because the time hasn’t come yet to throw it away. It’s still

protecting the inner flesh. The time hasn’t come yet to throw it away, so you hold

onto it for the time being.

    The same with our practice: Suppositions and release have to be mixed together,

just as the coconut has a husk mixed together with a shell and the flesh, so you

carry them all together. If they accuse us of eating the coconut husk, so what? We

know what we’re doing. — Ajaan Chaa, In Simple Terms