Aasava, Jhaana, Kusala

The suttas teach yogis about the practice for removing the aasava-taints so that kilesa-mental defilements no longer cause suffering. Samatha meditation also known as jhaana-absorption practice may temporarily suppress the taints but does not eliminate them. The complete removal of the taints is achieved with vipassana insight, the opening of the Dhamma eye of the Sotapanna-stream enterer and ultimately to a pure Arahat-fully-enlightened being.

The peace and clarity of mind attained with jhaana-absorption practice suppresses the mental hindrances-nivarana (sensual desire-kaamachanda, ill-will-vyaapaada, sloth and torpor-thiina-middha, restlessness and remorse-uddhacca-kukkucca, and sceptical doubt-vicikicchaa). The hindrances cover the the luminous mind of an untrained yogi. Concentration meditation-samatha can suppress the hindrances and temporarily allow the luminous mind to see more clearly the nature of reality. The samatha yogi would then begin vipassana practice. Upon exiting the absorption-jhaana, the bright and purified mind can thoroughly note all objects.

The three general characteristics of all phenomena (dukkha-unsatisfactoriness/pain, annicca-impermanent, and annattaa-not-self) would be perceived more distinctly until the aasava-taints are eliminated. Samatha yogis have been encouraged to note the changing nature of the components of first jhaana: vitakka-toward the object, vicaara-holding the object, piiti-rapture, sukkha-joy, and ekaggataa-one-pointedness.

Vipassana yogis who have not practiced jhaana-absorption may nevertheless develop a high level of concentration that can clear away the mental hindrances while continuously noting the arising and passing of phenomena. This is the technique I have practiced intermittently since 1982.

Putthujana-worldlings are still subject to the aasava-taints and may lapse into samsaara (an incalculable cycle of rebirths and suffering) – so scary. The refuge of the triple gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) is precious in this life, we may not be so fortunate in the next. Without the refuge of the triple gem we may adopt wrong views and harmful conduct that would create conditions for future unfortunate rebirths.

Lord Buddha recommended developing kusala-skilful/wholesome mind states and avoiding akulasa-unskilful/unwholesome mind states (and bodily and verbal behaviours). I plan to attend a long meditation retreat with the aim of developing those kusala-skilful/wholesome mind states and possibly eliminate the taints completely.

Majjhimanikaaya MN.36. Mahaasaccaka Sutta: The Greater Discourse to Saccaka

42. “When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldly, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I directly knew as it actually is: ‘This is suffering’;…’This is the origin of suffering’;…’This is the cessation of suffering’;…’This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’;…’These are the taints’;…’This is the origin of the taints’;…’This is the cessation of the taints’;…’This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’

43. “When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance. When it was liberated there came the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ I directly knew: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’

Majjhimanikaaya MN.68. Na.lakapaana Sutta: At Na.lakapaana

7. “…the Tathaagata has abandoned the taints that defile, bring renewal of being, give trouble, ripen in suffering, and lead to future rebirth, ageing and death; he has cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, done away with them so that they are no longer subject to future arising…”


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