We may know
when we have akusala cittas rooted in lobha (attachment) or akusala cittas rooted in dosa
(aversion), but do we know when we have akusala cittas rooted in moha (ignorance)? What is
the characteristic of moha? We may think someone ignorant who does not have much
education, who does not speak foreign languages, who does not know anything about history
or politics. We call someone ignorant who does not know what is happening in the world. Is
that the kind of ignorance which should be eradicated? If that were true it would mean
that there is more wholesomeness in one's life if one speaks foreign languages or if one
knows about history and politics. We can find out that this is not true.
In order to understand the characteristic of moha we
should know what we are ignorant of when there is moha. There is the world of concepts
which in our daily, ordinary language are denoted by conventional terms and there is the
world of paramattha dhammas or ultimate realities. When we think of the concept which in
conventional language is denoted by 'world', we may think of people, animals and things
and we call them by their appropriate names. But do we know the phenomena in ourselves and
around themselves as they really are: only nama and rupa which do not stay?
The world of paramattha dhammas is real. Nama and rupa are
paramattha dhammas. The namas and rupas which appear in our daily life can be directly
experienced through the five sense-doors and through the mind-door, no matter how we name
them. This is the world which is real. When we see, there is the world of visible object.
hear, there is the world of sound. When we experience an object through
touch there is the world of tangible object. Visible object and seeing are real. Their
characteristics can be directly experienced; it does not matter whether we call them
'visible object' and 'seeing', or whether we do not name them at all. But when we cling to
concepts which are denoted by conventional terms such as 'tree' or 'chair', we do not
characteristic of reality. What is real when we look at a tree? What
can be directly experienced? Visible object is a paramattha dhamma, a reality; it is a
kind of rupa which can be directly experienced through the eyes. Through touch hardness
can be experienced; this is a kind of rupa which can be directly experienced through the
body-sense, it is real. 'Tree' is a concept or idea of which we can think, but it is not a
paramattha dhamma, not a reality which can be directly experienced. Visible object and
hardness are paramattha dhammas and they can be directly experienced, no matter how one
The world experienced through the six doors is real out it
does not last; it is impermanent. When we see, there is the world of the visible, but it
falls away immediately. When we hear, there is the world of sound, but it does not last
either. It is the same with the world of smell, the world of flavour, the world of
impressions through the body-sense and the world of objects experienced through the
mind-door. However, we only seem to know the world of conventional terms, because
ignorance and wrong view have been accumulated for so long. Ignorance of paramattha
dhammas is the kind of ignorance which should be eradicated; it brings sorrow.
The world in the sense of paramattha dhammas is in the
teachings called 'the world in the ariyan sense'. The ariyan has developed the wisdom
which sees things as they are ; he truly knows 'the world'. We read in the 'Kindred
Sayings' (IV, Salayatana-vagga, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Second Fifty, Ch. IV, par. 84,
Transitory) that Ananda said to the Buddha:
' "The world! The world" is the saying, lord.
how far, lord, does this saying go?'
' What is transitory by nature, Ananda, is called
"the world" in the ariyan sense. And what, Ananda, is transitory by nature? The
eye, Ananda, is transitory by nature... objects... tongue... mind is transitory by
nature, mind-states, mind-consciousness, mind-contact, whatsoever
which arises owing to mind-contact, that also is transitory by nature. What
is thus transitory, Ananda, is called
"the world" in the ariyan sense.'
Someone may think that he can truly know himself without
knowing the world as it appears through the six doors. He may think that he knows his
anger and attachment, but, in fact, he has not experienced them as they are: only
different types of nama and not self. As long as he takes realities for self he does not
really know himself and he cannot eradicate defilements. He clings to an idea, to the
concept of self; he has not directly experienced any characteristic of reality. It is
difficult to know when there are lobha, dosa and moha and it is difficult to be aware also
of the more subtle degrees of akusala. When one starts to develop 'insight' one realizes
how little one knows oneself.
When there is moha we live in darkness. It was the
Buddha';s great compassion which moved him to teach people Dhamma. Dhamma is the light
which can dispel darkness. If we do not know Dhamma we are ignorant about the world, about
ourselves; we are ignorant about good and ill deeds and their results; we are ignorant
about the eradication of defilements.
The study of the Abhidhamma will help us to know more
about the characteristic of moha. The 'Atthasalini' (Book II, Part IX, Ch.1, 249) states
'Delusion' (moha) has the characteristic of blindness or
opposition to knowledge; the essence of non- penetration or the function of covering the
intrinsic nature of the object; the manifestation of being opposed to right conduct or
causing blindness; the proximate cause of unwise attention; and it should be regarded as
the root of all akusala....
we understand more about paramattha Dhammas,
about kamma and vipaka. However, this does not mean that we can already eradicate moha.
Moha cannot be eradicated merely by thinking about
eradicated by developing the wisdom which knows 'the world in the ariyan
sense' : eye-sense, visible object,
seeing-consciousness, ear-sense, sound,
hearing-consciousness, and all realities appearing through the six doors.
When we study the Abhidhamma we learn that moha arises
with all akusala cittas. Lobha-mula-cittas have moha and lobha as roots; dosa-mula-cittas
have moha and dosa as roots. There are two types of akusala citta which have moha as their
only root, these are moha-mula-cittas. One type of moha-mula-citta is moha-mula-citta
accompanied by doubt (in Pali: vicikiccha), and one type is moha-mula-citta accompanied by
restlessness (in Pali: uddhacca). The feeling which accompanies moha-mula-cittas is always
indifferent feeling (upekkha). When the citta is moha-mula-citta there is no like or
dislike; one does not have pleasant or unpleasant feeling. Both types of moha-mula-citta
are asankharika (unprompted).
The characteristic of moha should not be confused with the
characteristic of ditthi (wrong view), which only arises with lobha-mula-citta. When
ditthi arises one takes, for example, what is impermanent for permanent, or one clings to
the concept of self. Moha is not wrong view, but it is ignorance of realities. Moha
conditions ditthi, but the characteristic of moha is different from the characteristic of
The two types of moha-mula-citta are:
1. Arising with indifferent feeling, accompanied by doubt
2. Arising with indifferent feeling, accompanied by
restlessness (Upekkha-sahagatam, uddhacca-
When one has the type of moha-mula-citta which is
accompanied by doubt, one doubts about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. One doubts
whether the Buddha really discovered the truth, whether he taught the Path leading to the
end of defilements, whether there are other people who can become enlightened as well. One
doubts about past and future lives, about kamma and vipaka. There are many degrees of
doubt. When we start to develop insight we may have doubt about the reality of the present
moment; we doubt whether it is nama or rupa. For example, when there is hearing, there is
sound as well but there can be awareness of only one reality at a time, since only one
object at a time can be experienced by a citta. We may doubt whether the reality which
appears at the present moment is the nama which hears or the rupa which is sound. Nama and
rupa arise and fall away so rapidly and when a precise understanding of their different
characteristics has not been developed one does not know which reality appears at the
present moment. There will be doubt about the world of paramattha dhammas until panna
(wisdom) clearly knows the characteristics of nama and rupa as they appear through the six
The 'Atthasalini' (Book II, Part IX, Ch. III, 259) states
Here doubt means exclusion from the cure (of
knowledge). Or, one investigating the intrinsic nature
by means of it suffers
pain and fatigue (kicchati)- - thus
it is doubt. It has shifting about as
wavering as function, indecision or uncertainty in grasp
as manifestation, unsystematic thought as proximate
cause, and it should be
regarded as a danger to
Doubt is different from wrong view (ditthi). When there is
ditthi one clings, for example, to the concept that phenomena are permanent or one takes
them for self. When vicikiccha (doubt) arises, one wonders whether the mind is different
from the body or not, whether phenomena are permanent or impermanent. There is no other
way to eradicate doubt but by developing the panna (wisdom) which sees realities as they
are. People who have doubts about the person and the teachings of the Buddha may think
that doubt can be cured by studying historical events. They want to find out more details
about the time the Buddha lived and about the places where he moved about; they want to
know the exact time the texts were written down. They cannot be cured of their doubt by
studying historical events; this does not lead to the goal of the Buddha's teachings which
is the eradication of defilements.
People in the Buddha's time too were speculating about
things which do not lead to the goal of the teachings. They were wondering whether the
world is finite or infinite, whether the world is eternal or not eternal, whether the
Tathagata (the Buddha) exists drier his parinibbana or not. We read in the 'Lesser
Discourse to Malunkya (Middle Length Sayings II, no. 63) that Malunkyaputta was displeased
that the Buddha did not give explanations with regard to speculative views. He wanted to
question the Buddha on these views and if the Buddha should not give him an explanation
with regard to these views he would leave the order.
He spoke to the
Buddha about this matter and the Buddha asked him whether he had ever said to
Come you, Malurikyaputta, fare the Brahma-faring under me
and I will explain to you either that the world is eternal or that the world is not
eternal... or that the Tathagata is... is not after dying... both is and is not
after dying... neither is nor is not after dying?
We read that Malunkyaputta answered: 'No, revered
Sir.'; The Buddha also asked him whether he (Maunkyaputta) had said that he would
'fare the Brahma-faring' under the Lord if the Lord should give him an explanation with
regard to these views and again Maunkyaputta answered: 'No, revered sir.' The Buddha then
compared his situation with the case of a man who is pierced by a poisoned arrow and who
will not draw out the arrow until he knows whether the man who pierced him is a noble, a
brahman, a merchant or a worker; until he knows the name of the man and his clan; until he
knows his outward appearance; until he knows about the bow, the bowstring, the material of
the shaft, the kind of arrow. However, he will pass away before he knows all this. It is
the same with the person who only wants to 'fare the Braham-faring' under the Lord if
explanations with regard to speculative views are given to him. We read that the Buddha
'The living of the Brahma-faring, Malunkyaputta, could not
be said to depend on the view that the world is eternal. Nor could the living of the
Brahma-faring, Malunkyaputta, be said to depend on the view that the world is not eternal.
Whether there is the view that the world is eternal or whether there is the view that the
world is not eternal, there is birth, there is aging, there is dying, there are grief,
sorrow, suffering, lamentation and despair, the destruction of which I lay down here and
Wherefore, Malunkyaputta, understand as not explained what
has not been explained by me, and understand as explained what has been explained by me.
And what, Malunkyaputta, has not been explained by me? That the world is eternal.. that
the world is not eternal has not been explained by me..
And why, Malunkyaputta, has this not been explained by me?
It is because it is not connected with the goal, it is not fundamental to the
Brahma-faring, and does not conduce to turning away from, nor to dispassion, stopping,
calming, super-knowledge, awakening, nor to nibbana. Therefore it has not been explained
by me, Malunkyaputta. And what has been explained by me, Malunkyaputta? 'This is dukkha'
has been explained by me, Malunkyaputta. 'This is the arising of dukkha' has been
explained by me. 'This is the stopping of dukkha' has been explained by me. 'This is the
course leading to the stopping of dukkha' has been explained by me.
And why, Malunkyaputta, has this been explained by me? It
is because it is connected with the goal, it is fundamental to the Brahma-faring, and
conduces to turning away from, to dispassion, stopping, calming, super-knowledge,
awakening and nibbana... '
Doubt cannot be cured by speculating about matters which
do not lead to the goal; it can only be cured by being aware of the nama and rupa which
present themselves now. Even when there is doubt it can be realized as only a type of nama
arising because of conditions and not self. Thus the reality of the present moment will be
known more clearly.
The second type of moha-mula-citta is accompanied by
indifferent feeling, arising with restlessness (upekkha-sahagatam, uddhacca-sampayuttam) .
Uddhacca is translated 'restlessness' or 'excitement'. Uddhacca arises with all akusala
cittas. When there is uddhacca there is no sati (mindfulness) with the citta. Sari arises
with each wholesome citta; it 'remembers' what is wholesome. There is sati not only in
vipassana, but also when one performs dana (generosity) observes sila (morality), applies
oneself to studying
or teaching the Buddha's teachings or cultivates samatha. Sati
in vipassana is aware of a characteristic of nama or rupa.
When there is uddhacca, the citta cannot be wholesome; one
cannot at that moment apply oneself to dana, sila or bhavana. Uddhacca distracts the citta
from kusala. Uddhacca is restlessness with regard to kusala. Thus, uddhacca is different
from what we in conventional language mean by restlessness.
Uddhacca arises also with the moha-mula-citta which is
accompanied by doubt, since it arises with each akusala cilia. The second type of
moha-mula-citta, however, is called uddhacca-sampayutta; it is different from the first
type of moha-mula-citta which is called vicikiccha-sampayutta.
The second type of moha-mula-citta, the moha-mula-citta
which is uddhacca-sampayutta, arises countless times a day, but it is difficult to know
its characteristic. If one has not cultivated vipassana one does not know this type of
citta. When one is forgetful of realities and 'day-dreaming', there is not necessarily
this type of citta. When we are 'day-dreaming' there is not only the second type of
moha-mula-citta (uddhacca- sampayutta), but also lobha-mula-cittas (cittas rooted in
attachment) or dosa-mula-cittas (cittas rooted in aversion). When one is forgetful of
realities and the akusala citta is not rooted in lobha or dosa, and the citta is not
accompanied by doubt, then there is the second type of moha-mula-citta accompanied by
Moha-mula-citta can arise on account of what we experience
through the five sense-doors and through the mind-door. When, for example, we have heard
sound, moha-mula-citta may arise. When the second type of moha-mula-citta which is
uddhacca-sampayutta arises, there is ignorance and forgetfulness with regard to the object
which is experienced at that moment. We may not see the danger of this type of citta,
since it is accompanied by indifferent feeling. However, all kinds of akusala are
Moha is dangerous, it is the root of all akusala. When we
are ignorant of realities we accumulate a great deal of akusala. Moha conditions lobha;
when we do not know realities as they are we become absorbed in the things we experience
through the senses. Moha also conditions dosa; when we do not know realities we have
aversion when we experience unpleasant things. Moha accompanies each akusala citta and it
conditions all ten kinds of akusala kamma-patha which are accomplished through body,
speech and mind. Only when there is mindfulness of the realities which appear through the
six doors, the panna is developed which can eradicate moha.
The sotapanna ('streamwinner', who has attained the first
stage of enlightenment) has eradicated the type of moha-mula-citta which is accompanied by
vicikiccha (doubt); he has no more doubts about paramattha dhammas, he knows the 'world in
the ariyan sense';. He has no doubts about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. He
has no doubts about the Path leading to the end of defilements. The sotapanna, the
sakadagami ('once-returner', who has attained the second stage of enlightenment) and the
('non-returner', who has attained the third stage of enlightenment) still have the type of
moha-mula-citta accompanied by uddhacca (restlessness). Only the arahat has eradicated all
Ignorance is not seeing the true characteristic of
realities, not knowing the 'four Noble Truths'. Out of ignorance one does not see the
first Noble Truth, the Truth of dukkha : one does not realize nama and rupa as impermanent
and dukkha. One does not know the second Noble Truth: the origin of dukkha which is
craving. Because of clinging to nama and rupa there is no end to the cycle of birth and
death and thus there is no end to dukkha. One does not know the Noble Truth of the
'ceasing of dukkha', which is nibbana. One does not know the Noble Truth of 'the way
leading to the ceasing of dukkha' which is the Elghtfold Path. The '
is developed through vipassana.
We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (lV, Salayatana-vagga,
Kindred Sayings about Jambukhadaka, par. 9) that the wanderer asked Sariputta:
' "Ignorance, ignorance!" is the saying, friend
Sariputta. Pray, what is ignorance?'
Not understanding about dukka, friend, not
understanding about the arising of dukkha, the ceasing of dukkha, the way leading to the
ceasing of dukkha- - this, friend, is called ignorance'
But is there any way, friend, any approach to the
abandoning of this ignorance?
There is indeed away, friend, to such
And what, friend, is that way, that approach
the abandoning of this ignorance?';
It is this ariyan Eightfold Path, friend... ';
The ariyan Eightfold Path leads to the eradication of
What is ignorance? Why should it be eradicated?
How can it be eradicated?
When there is doubt (vicikiccha) about realities, is there moha as well?
On account of experiences through which doors can moha arise?
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