Reaching the supreme bliss of Nibbana
All discoveries of the Buddha are conducive to Nibbana or Emancipation. The Buddha’s doctrine leads eventually to connecting with Nibbana, though it can begin from anywhere, just like all rivers of the world flow into the ocean in the end, his preaching style [manner] is described in the Brahmajala Sutta in the Dighanikaya thus:
“dana katham, sila katham, sagga katham, kamanam adinavam,...adikallyanam,majhe kallyanam, pariyosana kallayanam sattham,sabbayanjanam kevala paripunnam, brahamchariyam pakaseti”
At the beginning, the Buddha teaches us about generosity [dana]. Next he speaks about morality [virtue] [sila] and about heavenly bliss. Immediately after, he explains the evil effects of sensuous pleasures and how the defilements [cankers] contaminate our ordinary mind. Then the Buddha emphasizes how to become free from the worldly lustful things. So the beginning of the Dhamma is good. The middle of the Dhamma is good and the Ending of the Dhamma is good and it is very meaningful. It is complete in every aspect. It teaches us how to live a noble life.
Sensual enjoyment was based on preaching of the Buddhist philosophy. When we investigate human desire [lust ], it can be realised that the entire universe is trapped in sensual pleasure like in a box.
What is kama? It literally means will [wish, consent]. Desire need not be a bad thing. There are five things [wealth. Properties] which are acceptable in Buddhism. This is called pancha kama wasthu [five worldly pleasures] , they are 1. Rupa [material, form] 2. Sabda [sound] 3. Gandha [smell] 4. Rasa [ taste ] 5. Sparsha [ tangibility]. We enjoy these pleasures through five organs, namely,
Chakku- visual organ [eye]- form, figure, image, a material composition.
Sota -auditory organ[ear]- sound, voice
Ghana - olfactory [nose] - odour, smell, scent
Jivha- gustatory [tongue] -taste, flavour, juice
Kaya -tactile [ body ] tacitly
Human beings have a sense to experience and grasp these five-fold worldly pleasures. This is an interpretation on what is sense. The senses are volitions that have autonomous power to do things or actions along with them.
Those five senses are described in the teaching as Indriya , the objects of the five senses are called arammana when one sense comes into contact with its own object, then each of the senses are activated when they come into contact, consciousness arises and it is called vinnana. Each sense organ gives rise to a particular type of consciousness.
Cakku- rupa -cakkuvinnana = eye-form -eye consciousness
Sota -sabda -sotavinnana = ear-sound -ear consciousness
Ghana - ghanda -ghandavinnana = nose - smell- nose consciousness
Giva -rasa -givavinnana = tongue-taste-tongue consciousness
Kaya -potthabba-kayavinnana = body -tactile -body consciousness
The knowledge of each faculty of sense arises when it comes into contact with its own external subject. Human beings normally experience sensations when sense and objects comes into contact. The consciousness is a coordinator that makes connections between sense and object. Normally, it is described by its individual name as ‘chakkuvinnana’-sense of eye, sotavinnana-sense of ear, ghandavinnana-sense of nose, givavinnana-sense of tongue, kayavinnana-sense of body. The desire that arises through the contact of the senses and relevant objects encourages people to chase after the same object again and again.
Five-fold worldly pleasures
For example a man might find pleasure in the body of a woman and thus it becomes an object as described and resembles a honeycomb and vice-versa. It is said in connection with this matter in the sutta of form in Anguttara Nikaya “monk, I know of other single form from which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by that of a woman. Monk, a woman’s voice obsesses a man’s heart...the scent the savour and touch of a woman obsesses a man’s heart.
To the world, a woman’s form and voice is as wonderful and attractive to a man as is a honeycomb to bees or the scent of a flower. Most human beings are dissatisfied with the five fold worldly pleasures. One who is enslaved with the five-fold pleasures begin to take objects through one’s sensuous organs when senses and objects come into contact.
For, example, when a man meets a woman, he looks at her and takes the small and tiny objects like, beauty, form, eyebrow, lock of hair and breast etc, for his self-gratification. This is one stage of the five worldly pleasures. Sensuous pleasure matures gradually. The Buddhist Texts describe it as ‘vepullata’ [full development/ abundances].
There are four ‘ogha’ [floods], which sweep a man away from emancipation. What are these?
1.kamasava-the flood of sense-desires
2.bhavasava-the flood of desiring eternal life.
3. ditthasava- the flood of wrong views
4, avijjasava-the flood of ignorance
Why do the Buddhist Texts say ‘ogha’[flood] for these cankers; [defilements] kama [desire] , bhava[ eternal existence], ditthi [wrong view] and avijja [ignorance]? When people have such strong defilements in their minds, they push them away from emancipation just like a flood that sweeps away everything in the river. So it is called ‘ogha’[flood]. There are two kinds of lust in Buddhism.
1.vaththu kama [sa. Vasthu kama] = desire for material things
2. kilesa kama = desire emotional satisfaction
The desire for house, land, family life, ornaments and any other properties are called vaththu kama. Desire for sense gratification like raga[lust], dosa [hatred], moha[ delusion ] , isi [envy ], mada [conceit] are called kilesa kama. Here the term ‘kama’ refers to craving. It is a defilement which should be eradicated. It emanates again and again unless it is uprooted through path of Arahanthood [the path of the last stage of sainthood]. The Dhammapada describes desire [ tanha] as follows:
Yathapi m–le anupaddave dalhe
Chinn•pi rukkho punareva r–hathi
Evampi tanhanusaye anuhate
Nibbattati dukkham idam punapunam.[Phd.338]
Just as a tree with roots unharmed and firm, though hewn down sprouts again, similarly if latent craving is not rooted out, this sorrow springs up again and again.
‘aggisik–pamakama, asivisopama kama,manasapes–pama kama, supinopama kama...’
‘Craving is just like a flame, it is just like a venom of serpents, it is just like pieces of meat and craving is just like a dream. So craving is a heap of suffering. The separation from craving is the only way to liberate a being from the endless cycle of samsaric suffering’.
The Buddha has mentioned that we must avoid two paths, that is ‘kamasukallikanu yoga’ [self indulgence] and ‘aththakilamathanu yoga’ [self mortification] for our realisation of the four noble truths and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. In Dhammachakkapavaththana Sutta [setting in motion the wheel of the Dhamma] in the Diganikaya, He says,
‘devame me hikkae anta pabbajitena na sevitabba, yocayam kamasukallikanu yogo...yocayam...aththakilamathanu yogo...’
There are five wrong consequences from attachment to too much worldly pleasure [self-indulgence]. It is very empty. It is a very low state. It is very ordinary and not noble.
It is not great and it is unmeaningful. Self-mortification results in these wrong effects. It is not great and it is not useful.
These two paths are unprofitable. What is profitable? It is the eight-fold path. Therefore we must walk towards Nibbhana [emancipation] on this noble path. This is the only way [ekayano maggo ] for our liberation. There are eight parts in the Noble eight-fold path.
1. samma ditthi right view
2. samma sankappa right under- standing
3. samma vacha right speech
4. samma kammantha right action
5. samma ajiva right livelihood
6. samma vayama right effort
7. samma sati right mindful- ness
8. samma Samadhi right concentration
These eight parts can be again organised under these three sub divisions as mentioned below.
01. adhisila (higher morality)
samma vacha right speech
samma kammantha right action
samma ajiva right livelihood
samma vayama right effort
02. adhisamadhi (higher concentration)
samma sati right mindfulness
samma Samadhi right concentration
03. adhipanna (higher wisdom)
sama ditthi right view
samma sankappa right understanding
One who exercises the noble eight-fold path realises the four noble truths that is, dukka ariyasachcha, the noble truth of suffering, dukka samudaya ariyasachcha, the noble truth of cause of suffering, dukka nirodaya ariyasachcha, the noble truth of cessation of suffering. dukka nirodaya gamini patipada ariyasacca the noble truth of the path of cessation of suffering.
Dukka ariyasachcha is explained in the dhammachakkapavaththana sutta: thus jathipi dukko [birth is suffering], jarapi dukko [aging is suffering] vyadhpi dukkam [ getting sick is suffering] maranampi dukkam [death is suffering] apiyasampayoga dukkhoa, association with the unpleasant ones is suffering, piyehvippayogo dukkam [separation from the loved ones is suffering], receiving the thing which one wishes to avoid is suffering. In brief ,the entire five aggregates is suffering. Sachchavibanga Sutta has given more explanations about those eight types of dukkasachcha.
‘ya yam thanha ponobhavika nandi raga sahagata, tatrabhinandani ...’ this is how the Buddha explained the second truth that is , dukkasamudaya ariya sachcha. According to this explanation, there are three parts of craving. Craving causes rebirth. It ties up human beings into the present existence and next existences. So it can be categorised as:
1. Kama Tanha - desire for worldly things
2. Bhava Thanha- desire for existence
3. Vibhava Thanha- desire for non-existence
Extinguishing of desire without remainder, eradicating desire completely, not storing desire, being free from desire absolutely, and the cessation of desire completely, is called dukka nirodhagamini patipada. “ yo tassayeva thanhaya asesaviraga nirodho, cago, patinisaggo,muthiyanalayo.” One who exercises the last part that is dukka nirodhagamini patipada attains the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
By Dr. Bokanoruwe Dewananda
Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple