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PART 1 - 整体上,念头和想象的泉源被称作行蕴 AS A WHOLE, THE WELLSPRING
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AS A WHOLE, THE WELLSPRING of thought and imagination is called sankhara khandha. Each thought, each inkling of an idea ripples briefly through the mind and then ceases. In and of themselves, these mental ripples have no specific meaning. They merely flash briefly into awareness and then cease without a trace. Only when sañña khandha takes them up do they become thoughts and ideas with a specific meaning and content. Sañña khandha is the mental aggregate of memory, recognition and interpretation. Sañña takes fragments of thought and interprets and expands them, making assumptions about their significance, and thus turning them into issues. Sankhara then perpetuates these issues in the form of incessant, discursive thinking. Sañña, however, is the principal instigator. As soon as sankhara flashes up briefly, sañña immediately grasps it and defines its existence as this or that—agitating everything. These two are the mental faculties that cause all the trouble. Together they spin tales—of fortune and of woe—and then interpret them to be the reality of oneself. Relying on memory to identify everything that arises in awareness, sañña defines them and gives them meaning.


Sankharas arise and cease with distinct beginnings and endings, like flashes of lightning or fireflies blinking on and off. When observed closely, sañña khandha is far more subtle than sankhara khandha. Bursting into awareness, sankharas are the basic building blocks of thought. Sañña, on the other hand, is not experienced as flashes of thought. When the mind is perfectly still and the khandhas are very quiet, we can cl, early feel the manner in which each khandha arises. Sañña will slowly spread out, permeating the citta like ink moving through blotting paper, expanding slowly until it forms a mental picture. Following sañña’s lead, the sankharas, that are constantly arising, begin to form a picture and create a story around it that will then take on a life of its own. Thoughts about this or that begin with sañña recognizing and interpreting the ripplings of sankhara, molding them into a recognizable image which sankhara then continuously elaborates. Both of these mental factors are natural phenomena. They arise spontaneously, and are distinct from the awareness that knows them.


Now, when the citta has investigated the khandhas repeatedly, ceaselessly and relentlessly, it will develop an expertise. Contemplating by means of wisdom, we are able to first relinquish the physical khandha. At the beginning stage of the investigation, wisdom will see through the physical body before it sees through—and can let go of—the other khandhas. Henceforth, the citta can gradually relinquish its attachment to feeling, memory, thought and consciousness in the same manner.


Put simply, the citta lets go when wisdom sees through the mental components of personality; before then, it holds on. Once wisdom has penetrated them completely, the citta can relinquish them all, recognizing that they are merely ripplings inside the citta and have no real substance. Whether good or bad, thoughts arise and cease all the same. No matter how they appear in the mind, they are just configurations created by sañña and sankhara and will simply vanish. There are no exceptions. No thought lasts more than an instant. Lacking duration, thoughts lack true substance and meaning; and therefore, they cannot be trusted.


So, what keeps providing us with these thoughts? What keeps producing them? One moment it’s churning out one thought; the next moment, another, forever deceiving oneself. They come from sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations; they come from feeling, memory, thought and consciousness. We take our assumptions about our perceptions for granted, perpetuating the fraud until it becomes a fire burning our hearts. The citta is contaminated by just these factors, these conventions of the mind.


The purpose of the investigation is the removal of these factors. Their absence reveals the true nature of the citta. We will see that when the citta does not venture out to become involved with an object, it remains naturally calm and radiant; as in the saying: “Monks, the original citta is intrinsically bright and clear, but it becomes defiled by the commingling of kilesas that pass through.” The original citta is the radiant citta. This statement refers to the original nature of the citta that wanders from birth to birth in the cycle of rebirth. It may be compared to the citta of a newborn infant whose mental faculties are not sufficiently developed to fully comprehend sense objects. It does not refer to the original nature of the citta that has transcended the cycle of rebirth and is absolutely pure.


As we investigate the citta thoroughly, stage by stage, the defiling elements that previously roamed about will converge into a single radiant point, merging with the natural radiance inside the citta. This radiance is so majestic and mesmerizing that even exceptional mental faculties like supreme-mindfulness and supreme-wisdom will invariably fall under its spell at first. It’s a completely novel experience, never before encountered. It amazes and appears so extraordinary, so majestic and awe-inspiring, that it seems nothing could possibly compare with it at that moment. And why shouldn’t it be? It has been an absolute monarch, ruling over the three worlds of existence for countless eons. This point of radiance has held the citta under its power and command since time immemorial. And it will continue to mesmerize as long as the citta lacks the superior mindfulness and wisdom necessary to free itself from the power it exerts, forcing the citta to experience birth on countless levels of existence resulting from actions dictated by this subtle kilesa. Ultimately, it is this refined, natural radiance of mind that causes living beings to wander ceaselessly through samsara, experiencing birth and death.


Once the citta clearly understands rupa, vedana, sañña, san-khara and viññana with absolute certainty, all that remains are subtle variations of the ripplings that occur exclusively within the citta. These are a subtle form of sankhara causing movement within the citta: a subtle form of sukha, a subtle form of dukkha, a subtle radiant splendor within the citta. That’s all they are. Supreme-mindfulness and supreme-wisdom will take these internal stirrings as the focus of the investigation, constantly observing and analyzing them.


The radiance, produced by the convergence of the various kilesas, will be a clearly-perceived point of brightness, a very refined radiance that is centered at a specific point within the citta. A refined and corresponding dullness will occasionally arise to tarnish that radiant center, which causes an equally subtle form of dukkha to emerge as well. In truth, brightness and dullness are two sides of the same coin: both are conventional realities. At this level, radiance, dullness, and dukkha are companions, appearing together.


For this reason, when the citta experiences this wonderful radiance, it is always slightly wary that the experience may be marred by variations at any moment. Mindfulness and wisdom work to protect and maintain the radiance against tarnish. Regardless of its subtlety, the blemish is still a symptom of the kilesas; so meditators must not be complacent. These subtle changes in the citta’s radiance must be examined by wisdom with utmost persistence.


In order to eliminate this burden of anxiety and reach a definitive resolution to this matter, ask yourself: What exactly is this radiance? Focus your attention on it until you know. Why is it so changeable? One moment it’s luminous; the next it’s slightly tarnished. One moment there’s sukha; the next there’s dukkha. One moment there’s total satisfaction, the next moment dissatisfaction creeps in. Notice the subtle sukha that behaves with just the slightest irregularity. Then, with the slightest appearance of dukkha, in line with the refined nature of the citta at this level, it is sufficient to make us suspicious. Why does this subtle and refined state of the citta display such a variety of conditions? It is not always constant and true.


Relentlessly pursue this line of inquiry. Be fearless. Don’t be afraid that the destruction of that luminosity will be the destruction of your own true essence. Just focus on that central point to see clearly that the radiance has the same characteristics—of anicca, dukkha and anatta—as all the other phenomena that you have already examined. The only difference is that the radiance is far more subtle and refined.


At this stage of the investigation, nothing should be taken for granted; nothing in the realm of conventional reality should be trusted. Bring your focus deep into the citta and let wisdom take up the challenge. All things that are counterfeit originate in the citta. This radiance is the most conspicuous among them. It is the ultimate counterfeit. Since you cherish and safeguard it more than anything else, you will hardly want to interfere with it. Within the entire physical body, nothing stands out so prominently as this brilliance. It provokes such a mesmerizing sense of inner amazement—and, consequently, such a protective feeling of attachment—that you want nothing to disturb it. There it is. Look at it: it is none other than the supreme ruler of the universe—avijja. But you don’t recognize it. Never having seen it before, you will naturally be deceived by the radiance you encounter at this stage. Later, when mindfulness and wisdom are fully prepared, you will know the truth without any need of prompting. This is avijja. The true avijja is right here. It is nothing but a mesmerizing point of brilliance. Don’t imagine avijja to be a demon or a beast; for in truth, it is really the most alluring and endearing paragon of beauty in the whole world.


True avijja is very different from what you expect it to be. Therefore, when you encounter avijja you fail to recognize it; and your practice gets caught there. If you have no teacher to advise you and point out a way to investigate, then you will be at an impasse for a long time before you realize its true nature and can go beyond it. When you do have a teacher to advise you on how to proceed, then you can quickly understand the basic principle and strike decisively at that center of radiance without putting any trust in it. You must conduct your investigation here as you have done with other natural phenomena.


Having relinquished all attachment to the five khandhas, the citta is exceedingly refined at this stage. Although it has let go of everything else, it has yet to let go of itself. Its own intrinsic knowing nature remains permeated by avijja’s fundamental ignorance about its own true essence, and therefore, remains attached to itself. It is here that avijja converges into a single point of focus. All of its external outlets having been cut off, it converges into the citta without a way to flow out. Avijja’s outlets are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body, leading to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations. Once mindfulness and wisdom are skilled enough to cut off these outflows for good, avijja is left without an outlet for its expression. Its external agents have been neutralized; all that remains is a subtle incessant vibration resonating within the citta. Being deprived of an outlet for its activities, it depends solely on the citta as its base of activity. As long as wisdom is unable to thoroughly transcend it, avijja will appear as subtle feelings of sukha, subtle feelings of dukkha, and a radiance that truly overwhelms and amazes. So the citta keeps focusing the investigation on those factors.


Every conventional reality—no matter how refined it is or how bright and majestic it seems—invariably manifests some irregular symptoms. These are sufficient to catch the citta’s attention and make it search for a solution. Both the very refined sukha and dukkha that arise exclusively within the citta, and the amazing radiance that emanates from it, have their origin in avijja. But since we have never before encountered them, we are deluded into grasping at them when we first investigate this point. We are lulled into a sound sleep by avijja, believing that the subtle feelings of satisfaction and shining radiance are our true essence beyond name and form. Oblivious to our mistake, we accept this majestic citta, complete with avijja, as our one true self.


But not for long. At this level, the powerful faculties of supreme-mindfulness and supreme-wisdom are not complacent. They routinely scrutinize, investigate and analyze—back and forth, continually. Eventually they will realize the truth. They will notice that the subtle feelings of sukha and dukkha display slight variations that seem out of keeping with that majestic radiance. Even though the dukkha that manifests itself is ever so slight, it is enough to make us suspicious. Why does the citta have these varying conditions? It’s never constant. These tiny irregularities that are observed within the radiant center of the citta manifest just enough fluctuation to attract the attention of mindfulness and wisdom.


Once they are detected, mistrust arises, alerting wisdom that they should be investigated. So the quality of the citta’s knowing then becomes the focus of the investigation. Mindfulness and wisdom concentrate on this point, trying to discover what this knowing really consists of. They have already investigated everything else, stage by stage, to the extent that all other factors have been successfully eliminated. But this knowing presence, which is so bright and so amazing: what exactly is it? As mindfulness and wisdom pin their concentration on it, the citta becomes the focal point of a full-scale investigation. It is turned into a battlefield for supreme-mindfulness and supreme-wisdom. Before long, they are able to destroy the avijja-citta that, from avijja’s perspective, appears so magnificent and majestic. They now totally obliterate it; so that not even the smallest trace remains within the citta.

When investigated with sharp, incisive wisdom until its nature is clearly understood, this phenomenon will disintegrate and dissolve away in an entirely unexpected manner. That moment of awakening could be called “Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree” or “The total destruction of samsara’s cemeteries”. An unimpeachable certainty arises, then. The moment when that radiant center disintegrates, something even more remarkable—something that has been concealed by avijja—will be revealed in all its fullness. Within the citta, it feels as though a powerful tremor shakes the entire universe. This crucial moment, when the citta breaks away from all forms of conventional reality, is one of indescribable wonder and magnificence. It is precisely here—at the moment when avijja is finally extinguished—that Arahattamagga is transformed into Arahattaphala. When the path is fully developed, the fruition of Arahantship is attained. Dhamma and citta have attained complete perfection. From that moment on, all problems cease. This is the nature of Nibbana.


When that nature which we imagine to be so awesome and amazing finally disintegrates, something that is impossible to describe arises in full measure. That nature is Absolute Purity. When compared to that state of purity, the avijja that we once held in such awesome regard resembles cow dung; and the nature that was concealed by avijja appears to be pure gold. Even a baby knows which is the more precious between cow dung and gold; so we needn’t waste time and proclaim our stupidity by making comparisons.


The disintegration of avijja marks the moment when Arahatta-magga and Arahattaphala arrive together at their final destination. If we make a comparison with climbing the stairs to a house, one foot is on the last step, the other foot is on the floor of the house. We have not yet reached the house with both feet. Only when both feet are firmly on the floor of the house can we say that we have “reached the house”. The citta “reaches Dhamma” when it has both feet firmly planted in the supreme Dhamma. It has attained the singularity of Nibbana. From that moment of attainment, the citta is completely free. It manifests no further activities for the removal of kilesas. This is Arahattaphala: the fruition of Arahantship. It is experienced exclusively by those who are free of kilesas—those living Arahants who attain sa-upadisesa-nibbana.


As for rupa, vedana, sañña, sankhara and viññana, they are merely conditions, natural phenomena that spontaneously arise and cease without the ability to impact or contaminate the citta in anyway. The same applies to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations: each has its own separate reality. Their existence no longer poses a problem as the citta is now free of the ignorance that caused it to make false assumptions about them. Now that the citta is fully aware of the truth, it knows the reality of its knowing presence as well as the reality of all natural phenomena within and without. With each having its own separate reality, the conflicts that used to arise between them no longer exist. All are free to go their separate ways. At this stage, the long-standing conflict between the kilesas and the citta is finally over.


When the truth is known in this way, the citta feels no anxiety or apprehension concerning the life and death of the khandhas. The citta simply perceives the activities of the khandhas—how they arise, interact and cease; and how they eventually disintegrate at death. But since the essential knowing nature of the citta never dies, fear of death is not a factor. One accepts death—when it comes—as well as life—when it continues. Both are aspects of the same truth.


{返回 阿罗汉向•阿罗汉果 The Path to Arahantship 文集}

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