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Meditation On Four Great Elements

The Buddha taught Dhatu Manasikara (meditation on four great elements) in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta.

The monk who wants to attain Nibbana must be skilful with the practice of the Satipatthana; both the Lokiya Satipatthana and Lokuttara Satipatthana.

The Foundation of Mindfulness relating to the mundane (conditioned) and the Foundation of Mindfulness relating to the supra-mundane (the unconditioned) Nibbana.

This talk will be about meditation on the four great elements which is part of the Satipatthana practice. Before I proceed, there are some points I would like to inform you.

There are three trainings, in brief, to be practised for the development of the nana paramiof Buddha's disciples (Savaka): training in morality (Sila), training in concentration (Samadhi) and training in wisdom (Panna).

From the point of view of the seven stages of purification Sila training is Sila visuddhi, Samadhi training is Citta visuddhi and Panna training is from ditthi visuddhi till the remaining other four visuddhi.

Altogether there are seven stages of purification.

The seven stages of purification and the three trainings are the same. If the Savaka wants to attain Nibbana he must practise to fulfil these three trainings.

According to the Noble Eightfold Path, Sila training is Right Speech (Samma Vaca), Right Action (Samma Kammanta) and Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva):

3 Noble Path factors. Samadhi training is Right Effort (Samma Vayama), Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati) and Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi,): 3 Noble Path factors.

Panna training is Right Thoughts/Right Application of the Mind (Samma Sankappa) and Right Understanding (Samma Ditthi): 2 Noble Path factors.

Altogether 8 factors of the Noble Path training.

They are the same (with the 3 trainings).

If the meditator is a layman he must observe at least the 5 precepts.

Meditators must observe morality from the beginning of the meditation.

One type of disciple (Savaka) called ugghatitannu puggala is the type of person who can attain by listening to the Dhamma in brief only.

Vipacitannu puggala is another type of person who will attain after listening to the Dhamma in detail like Dhamma cakka pavattana Sutta and Anatta lakkhana Sutta.

These two types of person are not like the Neyya puggala who takes time to practise.

The time to practise for the ugghatitannu and vipacitannu puggala is only when they are listening to the Dhamma talk.

They can attain Magga Phala Nibbana if they practise the 3 trainings during the period of listening to the Dhamma talk.

As for the Neyya puggala's practice, it is not like this.

They have to practise Sila training and Samadhi training respectively after which only they have to practise Panna training.

He is not the person who can attain by only listening to the Dhamma talk.

Therefore he has to learn from the teacher the practise of Sila training. To establish Samadhi he has to learn Samadhi practice from a teacher.

Only after having established Samadhi he can further practise Panna training.


Concerning this, in the vipassana stage, how many kinds of Panna are there, in brief? The Panna training in which the 4 kinds of Samma ditthi are practised is explained by the Buddha in Maha Satipatthana Sutta.

Yam kho bhikkhave dukkhe nanam, dukkhasamudaye nanam, dukkhanirodhe nanam, dukkhanirodhagaminiya patipadaya nanam. Ayam vuccati bhikkhave sammaditthi -

The training in which to practise the fulfilment of the 4 Sammaditthi is Panna training (Panna sikkha). Then, when can this Four Noble Truth be known penetratively according to the Panna training?

The Buddha himself taught about this answer in the Samadhi Sutta of Khandha Vagga, Samyutta Nikaya.

Samadhim bhikkhave bhavetha, samahito bhikkhave bhikkhu yatha bhuta pajanati -

Bhikkhus, develop concentration; those who have concentration see/understand things as they really are.

What 'things' do they know as they really are? The Buddha also taught the answer.

One knows as they really are the 5 aggregates (Khandha) called 'Rupa, Vedana, Sanna, Sankhara and Vinnana' or 'Dukkha Sacca'.

He also actually knows the causes of Dukkha Sacca. He also actually knows that the arising of Dukkha Sacca is because of the arising of the causes.

He also actually knows that the cessation of the effect of Dukkha Sacca is because of the cessation of the causes.

He also actually knows the nature of Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta of both cause and effect.

What must one do to actually know like this? The Buddha taught to establish concentration, Samadhi. This is the answer.

Also in the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha taught Samma Samadhi as one of the Path factors.

The Buddha precisely explained that Samma Samadhi is 1st Jhana, 2nd Jhana, 3rd Jhana and 4th Jhana in Maha Satipatthana Sutta. There is the ukkattha niddesa way in which the best type of Samadhi is shown among these Samadhi.

Otherwise, according to the majjhedipaka way, if the middle Rupavacara Samadhi is mentioned both the lower Kamavacara Samadhi (which is Upacara Samadhi) and the higher Arupavacara Samadhi is included.

In Visuddhimagga 2nd Volume, page 222 it is mentioned: Cittavisuddhi Nama saupacara attha samapattiyo (Vism. XVII,

1) - Upacara Samadhi together with the 4 types of Rupavacara Samadhi and the 4 types of Arupavacara Samadhi called the 8 Samapatti are known as Citta visuddhi according to the way of the seven stages of purification.

In the seven stages of purification practice, after Sila visuddhi one must try to have purification of mind to achieve Citta visuddhi. After Citta visuddhi one may change to Ditthi visuddhi practice.

The Buddha taught Samma Samadhi which is one of the Path factors in the Noble Eightfold Path.

According to the Buddha, only when the Noble Eightfold Path is completed can one realize the attainment of Nibbana.

Even a Suddha vipassana yanika must also develop his concentration but he does not develop his concentration until the [[Jhana] Samadhi]] level.

The Samadhi which is approaching Jhana and is the highest of the Kamavacara Samadhi is called Upacara Samadhi.

The meditator must at least develop Upacara Samadhi if he does not develop to achieve Jhana Samadhi.

There are two kinds of person: Suddha vipassana Yanika Puggala and Samatha Yanika Puggala who, intending to change to vipassana tries to attain Ditthi visuddhi first.

The Samatha Yanika puggala may be the person who has achieved Jhana of any one of the 8 kinds of Samapatti.

The Samatha Yanika puggala first enters into any of the Jhana except Neva sanna na sannayatana Jhana)].

Then after emerged from the Jhana he discerns the characteristic, function, manifestation and proximate cause of the Jhana factors or the Jhana Sampayutta dhamma accompanying the Jhana.

Then, dependent upon what does this Nama dhamma (mental factors) arise?

The meditator must discern the Rupa dhamma (matter) dependent upon which the Nama dhamma arises.

That Rupa dhamma is the Maha Bhuta Rupa (4 primary/ great elements) and Upada Rupa (matter derivatives).

Then it must be analysed that the Maha Bhuta and Upada are Rupa dhammas and the Jhana dhammas are Nama dhammas.

After having discerned like this, the Pakinnaka Sankhara, i.e. the remaining Nama dhamma and Rupa dhamma will be discerned.

This method is for the Samatha Yanika who wants to discern Nama dhamma first.

But the Samatha Yanika may not want to begin with discerning Nama dhamma but may want to begin discerning Rupa dhamma (matter) first.

In that case, for both the Samatha Yanika who wants to begin discerning Rupa dhamma first and the Suddha vipassana Yanika who does not want to develop Jhana Samadhi but wants to go directly to Vipassana which method of the meditation (kammatthana) should they practise?

The answer can be found in Visuddhimagga on page 222, paragraph 664:

Suddha vipassana yaniko pana ayameva va samatha yaniko catudhatu vavatthane vuttanam tesam tesam Dhatu pariggahamukhanam annatara mukhavasena sankhepato va vittharato va catasso dhatuyo parigganhati (Vism. XVIII, 5) -

both the Samatha Yanika who wishes to begin discerning Rupa dhamma first in order to change to ditthi visuddhi and the Suddha vipassana yanika, have to practise Dhatu Kammatthana, meditation on four great elements.

Dhatu kammatthna in brief method or detail method is mentioned in the section on Catu Dhatu Vavatthana of Visuddhimagga.

In the brief method 2 ways are mentioned, while in the detail method 17 ways are mentioned.

One can choose any one of the ways to practise.

Catasso dhatuyo parigganhiti - begin by discerning the 4 great elements.

Why? In changing to ditthi visuddhi one can begin with discerning Nama kammatthana or Rupa kammatthana.

The Suddha vipassana Yanika must begin with discerning Rupa kammatthana.

But the Samatha Yanika can begin with discerning Nama kammatthana because of the power of his Jhana Samadhi.

But if he wants to begin discerning Rupa kammatthana, he can. So both the Samatha Yanika who wants to begin discerning Rupa kammatthana and the Suddha vipassana Yanika have to practise meditation on the 4 great elements.

In the Samatha stage, to develop concentration there are 40 ways of kammatthana (meditation).

But in vipassana practice there are only two kammatthana: Rupa kammatthana and Nama kammatthana.

The Buddha taught concerning Rupa kammatthana;

Tattha Bhagava Rupa kammattthanam kathento sankhepa manasikara vasena va vitthara manasikara vasena vi catu dhatu vavatthanam kathesi -

it means that Dhatu kammatthana can be practised either by the brief method or by the detail method, as one chooses.

Therefore the talk tonight will be on the brief method of practice.

How did the Buddha taught Dhatu Manasikara meditation in Maha Satipatthana Sutta?

Puna caparam bhikkhave bhikkhu imameva kayam yatha thitam yatha panihitam dhatuso paccavekkhati 'atthi imasmim kaye pathavidhatu apodhatu tejodhatu vayodhatu ti -

in this body, in whatever posture, however it is placed, whether it is standing, sitting, lying down or walking there are only

Discern each one of these elements. This instruction is explained by the Buddha with an example.

Seyyathapi Bhikkhave dakkho goghatako va goghatakantevasi va gavim vadhitva catumahapathe bilaso vibhajitva nisinno assa. Evameva kho bhikkhave bhikkhu imameva kayam yatha thitam yatha panitam dhatuso paccavekkhati 'atthi imasmim kaye pathavidhatu apodhatu tejodhatu vayodhatu ti -

just as a skilful butcher or a butchers apprentice, having slaughtered a cow, cutting it into portions such as flesh, bones, intestine, liver etc. and putting them at the junction of 4 roads, sat there.

Similarly the bhikkhu meditator discerns by insight that in his body there is only Earth, Water, Fire and Wind elements, one after another, respectively.

The meaning of this simile is explained in the Mulapannasa commentary page 276 (also in Vism XI, 30):

Yatha goghatakassa gavim posentassapi aghatanam aharantassapi aharitva tattha bandhitva thapentassapi vadhantassapi vidhitam matam passantassapi tavadeva gaviti sanna na antaradhayati, yavanam padaletva bilaso va vibhajati -

before cutting the cow up into parts, during the period of feeding the cow, bringing the cow to the slaughterhouse, tying up the cow, slaughtering the cow and seeing the dead body of the cow, at that time the perception of 'cow' is not lost.

At the time of feeding it, the perception of 'cow' exists in the mind of the butcher; at the time of bringing it to the slaughterhouse, perception of 'cow' exists; at the time of slaughtering it, perception of 'cow' exists; at the time of seeing its dead body, perception of 'cow' exists.

Vibhajitva nisinnam pana gavi sanna antaradhayati, mamsa sanna pavattati. Nassa evam hoti "Aham gavim vikkinami, ime gavim harantiti -

but after cutting up into parts such as bones, flesh, liver etc... and piling them up to sell at the junction of 4 roads the perception of 'cow' is lost. Only the perception of 'meat' appears.

At the time of selling, in the butcher's mind he is selling 'meat', not 'cow.

In buying it the man is buying meat, not cow. Atha khvassa "aham mamsa vikkinami, imepi mamsam haranti" - "I am selling meat, they are buying meat", thus he thinks.

Evameva imassapi bhikkhuno pubbe balaputhujianakale gihibhutassapi pabbajitassapi tavadeva sattoti va posoti va puggaloti va sanna na antaradhayati, yava imameva kayam yathathitam yathapanihitam ghana vinibbhogam katva dhatuso na paccavekkhati -

before the mass of matter (Rupa) has been analysed by his insight as just elements one after another, then in whatever posture it remains or is placed, the person who may be a layman or a monk is called bala puthujjana, foolish worldling. Sattoti va posoti va puggaloti va sanna na antaradhayati - the perception of 'man', 'woman', 'person', 'animal' does not disappear in the mind of this bala puthujjana.

Dhatuso paccavekkhato pana sattasanna antaradhayati, Dhatuvaseneva cittam santitthati -

the perception of man, woman, person, living beings disappears when the nature of the elements has been well analysed.

Concerning this the subcommentary to Mulapannasa, 1st volume, page 365 explained about ghana vinibbhoga.

In the compactness of matter, Rupa ghana, there are 3 types:

Compactness of continuity (santati ghana), compactness of grouping (samuha ghana), compactness of function (kicca ghana).

Santati ghana can be understood by those who are practising Rupa kammatthana.

For example in the Cakkhu Dasaka Kalapa, if that Kalapa is analysed there are 10 kinds of Rupa.

If attention is paid especially on tejo Dhatu then one can discern that because of [[tejo] Dhatu]] there are four or five generations of new Rupa Kalapas.

If unable to discern as 4 or 5 sequences of production but as just one continuity then the meditator is covered by Santati Ghana, compactness of continuity.

Similarly in the Cakkhu Dasaka Kalapa, oja Rupa is present.

With the support of Aharaja Kalapa it can produce 4 or 5 new generation of Rupa Kalapa.

If seeing this sequence of production as one continuity then it is Santati Ghana.

If these production of Utuja and Aharaja Kalapa are seen as one continuity then it is said to be covered by Santati Ghana.

If each single Kalapa can be discerned by insight and can be analysed, then Santati Ghana is broken down. The meditator must be able to break this ghana compactness by means of insight.

Even though the breaking down of Santati Ghana is achieved, it is not enough.

Some Kalapas consist of 8 Rupa factors:

If each of these 8 cannot be distinguished by insight then Samuha Ghana is not broken down.

Similarly if Kalapas have 9 or 10 factors, then the 9 or 10 Rupa respectively must be distinguished.

If the meditator cannot distinguish that if 8 then 8 Rupa, if 9 then 9 Rupa, or if 10 then 10 Rupa etc.. then Samuha Ghana is not broken down. When each Rupa factor is distinguished by insight then Samuha Ghana is broken down.

As for Kicca Ghana, when each Rupa factor has been distinguished such as;

Vayo. etc... then each of these Rupa factors performs its own function.

For example in the Cakkhu Dasaka Kalapa , after having analysed its 10 Rupa factors, what is the function of Pathavi there? Patlitha rasa - the function of pathavi Dhatu is being the standing place or establishing of the remaining 9 Rupa in the same Cakkhu Dasaka Kalapa.

One can realize that the other 9 Rupa stood depending on pathavi,only after he is able to analyse the Kalapa.

As for Apodhatu its function is byuhana rasa - it is to intensify the remaining other Rupa factors in the same Kalapa.

As for Tejodhatu its function is paripacana rasa - the maturing and decaying of the remaining Rupa factors.

As for vayo Dhatu, samudirana rasa - its function is the pushing of the remaining other Rupa factors.

Therefore each Rupa factor has its own function respectively. When the respective function of each Rupa factor has been analysed, Kicca Ghana is broken down.

So, there are three Ghana for Rupa dhamma: Santati ghana, Samuha ghana and Kicca ghana. But it is commonly said that there are 4 kinds of ghana.

The fourth one is Arammana Ghana. It is present only in Sarammana dhamma, the dhamma that can take object (arammana), as mentioned in the scriptures.

Rupa dhamma, matter is not the dhamma that can object.

In Dhammasangani, the Buddha taught that paramattha Dhatu (ultimate reality) can be separated into 2 types: sarammana dhamma and Anarammana dhamma.

Sarammana dhamma, the dhamma that can take object is Citta cetasikas (mental factors).

Anarammana dhamma, the dhamma that cannot take object includes Asankhata Nibbanaand Rupa dhamma.

[[Arammana ghana is present in Nama dhamma, the dhamma that can take object; but arammana ghana is not present in Asankhata Dhatu and Rupa Dhamma, the dhamma that cannot take object, as it is commonly said.

Therefore what will happen when these 3 compactness of Rupa are broken down? Only when compactness of Rupa Dhamma and Nama dhamma have been broken down, one after another, then this will result in realization by insight the Anatta lakkhana (characteristic of non-self) in its true nature.

To meditate only on Anicca lakkhana or only on Dukkha lakkhana or only on Anatta lakkhana, one cannot attain Magga nana.

To meditate on all three characteristics anicca, dukkha, anatta then it is possible to attain Magga Phala nana; it is precisely mentioned in Visuddhimagga page 301, 2nd volume. To attain Anatta nana it is important to break down the compactness.

For the meditator who is practising Rupa kammatthana, what must he first do to break down the compactness?

He must first see the Rupa Kalapa, after which he must analyse the Kalapa by way of characteristic, function, manifestation and proximate cause;

only then will the three ghana be broken down.

Therefore it is necessary to see the Kalapa small particle Rupa.

After analysis of the Kalapa, paramattha insight will arise.

When the three ghana are broken down then at that time both the attachment to the atta which is perceived by the world (i.e. word concept such as 'man', 'woman', 'beings', etc...) and the attachment to atta ditthi (wrong view of an indestructible soul, creator, created) will be removed. Therefore -

Tenaha bhagava imameva kayam yathathitam yathapanihitam dhatuso paccavekkhati "atthi imasmim kaye pathavidhatu apodhatu tejodhatu vayodhatu ti -

the Buddha himself taught in Maha Satipatthana Sutta that whether standing, sitting, lying down or walking, in whatever posture, in this body there is only Earth, Water, Fire and Wind elements.

Meditate, discern these elements respectively. Such is the teaching given by the Buddha.

The simile of the butcher mentioned previously shows that it is necessary for Dhatu kammatthana meditator to remove Satta Sanna, perception of beings.

In Satta Sanna there are two types:

1) Satta Sanna accompanied with atta ditthi, wrong view of an indestructible soul and
2) Satta Sanna of word concepts used by the world.

To remove both Satta Sanna it is necessary to break down the compactness, ghana. To break down the compactness, first be able to see Rupa Kalapa.

Then analyse these Kalapa after which each Rupa factor of the Kalapa whether 8, 9 or 10 Rupa factors must be discerned by way of characteristic, function, manifestation and proximate cause.

In this way, the compactness will be broken down. Only then will Anatta Nana arise. To accomplish this that is why the Buddha taught Dhatu kammatthana in Maha Satipatthana, so explained by the commentary.

This explanation shows that it is necessary to know exactly the way of Dhatu kammatthana, meditation on 4 elements by which one is able to see the Rupa Kalapa and analyse them so as to break down the compactness.

The answer to this necessity can be found in the brief method of dhatu manasikara, meditation on the 4 elements explained in Visuddhimagga in the chapter on Catu dhatu Vavatthana Bhavana;

which is briefly mentioned again in the chapter on Ditthi Visuddhi which is a method both for the Samatha Yanika who wish to begin with Rupa kammatthana first and for the Suddha Vipassana Yanika.

How was it explained?

Tasma imam kammathanam Bhavetukamena tikkhapannena tava rahogatena patisallinena sakalampi attano rupakayam avajjetva yo imasmim kaye thadda bhavo va khara bhavo va, ayam pathavidhatu, yo abandhana bhavo va dravabhavo va ayam apodhatu, yo paripacana bhavo va unha bhavo va ayam tejo dhatu, yo vitthambhana bhavo va samudirana bhavo va ayam vayo dhatu ti, evam samkhittena dhatuyo pariggahetva punappunam pathavidhatu apodhatuti, dhatumattato nissattato nijjivato avajjitabbam manasikitabbam pacca-vekkhitabbam (Vism, XI, 41) -

the brief method is meant for the tikkha panna person, i.e. the person of sharp wisdom, as mentioned above. The detail method of dhatu kammatthana is suitable for persons of dull wisdom.

But in the detail method the meditator has to learn by heart first for about 3 or 4 months. That is he has to understand the 32 parts of the body, learning them by heart.

This method needs more time to practise.

Most of the meditators do not have enough time so the brief method is instructed in this monastery.

The meditator who wants to practise dhatu kammatthana first approaches a silent place.

Sakalampi attano rupakayam avajjetva - then he reflects or contemplates by insight in his own entire body.

What does he contemplate?

Yo imasmim kaye thadda bhavo va khara bhavo va, ayam pathavidhatu -

he contemplates by insight discerning penetratively in his body the nature of hardness (thadda bhavo) and the nature of roughness both of which are the nature of Pathavi dhatu.

Both these nature is mentioned according to the Suttanta and commentary ways.

But in the Dhammasangani Pali (Abhidhamma) the Buddha taught kinds of Pathavi dhatu.

Why? Because He preached after knowing the temperament of the listeners. The listeners at that time were devas and Brahmas; it is their temperament to prefer 6 kinds of Pathavi dhatu.

They are subtle and wise. If hardness exists then softness exists; if roughness exists then smoothness exists; if heaviness exists then lightness exists.

They are in opposition. Although they are preached according to the living beings' temperament, it can actually be examined. I would like to give an example for a better understanding.

Let's say, between a wet freshly moulded brick and a sun-dried brick - which one is harder?

The sun-dried brick is harder while the wet brick is soft.

Then, between a sun-dried brick and a finished brick from the kiln - which one is harder?

The finished brick is hard and the sun-dried brick is soft.

When compared with a wet freshly moulded brick, the sun-dried brick is hard; but when compared with a finished brick from the kiln, the sun-dried brick is soft,

When one object is compared with another thing softer, then it is hard; but when the same object is compared with something harder, then it is soft.

If the same wet brick is compared with a hand doesn't that wet brick have its own degree of hardness?

It does. But it does not have the degree of hardness as that of iron.

However soft the brick may be, a slight touch on it then hardness is found. Because the existence of this degree of hardness, the Buddha taught on hardness in the Suttanta way.

As for roughness and smoothness, its example can be found between a coconut fibre floor mat and a loungyi (in Malaysia it is called sarong). Which one is rougher? Which one is smoother?

The floor mat is rough while the loungyi is smooth. Then compare between a loungyi and a silk shirt. Which one is rough; which one is smooth? The loungyi is rough while the shirt is smooth.

So when the loungyi is compared with a floor mat, it is smooth; but when the same loungyi is compared with a shirt, it is rough. Therefore one object may be said to be rough when compared with another thing smoother than it is; but the same object may be said to be smooth when compared with another thing rougher then it.

However smooth something may be, when it is touched by the hand we can say it has its own degree of roughness. Therefore the Buddha taught roughness (Khara bhava) in the Suttanta way.

This is because in the world when something has a only little roughness in it, then it is called smooth; and when something has a higher degree of roughness in it, it is called rough.

When something has little hardness in it, it is called soft; when something has a higher degree of hardness in it, it is called hard.

Therefore the Buddha taught hardness and roughness according to the temperament of the world, loka.

When observing these hard and rough things, don't they have weight according to the degree of hardness and roughness? They may be heavy or light.

So there are 6 kinds of Pathavi:

heaviness and

In this monastery the meditator is taught to practise all six types of Pathavi because some cannot endure hardness. Sometimes hardness may be excessive.

To overcome this he is taught to discern softness. If he changes to discern softness at that time then the intensity of hardness decreases.

For some meditators, at the time of discerning roughness, when roughness is excessive in some parts (of the body like Intestine, liver, heart), then their concentration will be distracted.

To overcome roughness, the meditator is instructed to discern smoothness. If he changes to discern smoothness, at that time, then the intensity of roughness will be decreased. Sometimes the body becomes very heavy, so that the meditator cannot bear the heaviness of the body.

At that time change to discern lightness; then intensity of heaviness will decrease.

Therefore in this monastery all 6 Pathavi are taught, as according to Dhammasangani (Abhidhamma), so that the meditator can keep each opposite element balanced.

But in actual practice hardness and roughness are the most predominant to the meditator's insight; therefore the commentary mentioned only these two nature.

Yo abandhana bhavo va dravabhavo va ayam apodhatu - the nature of cohesion and the nature of flowing; they are water element (apo dhatu).

Yo paripacana bhavo va unha bhavo va ayam tejo dhatu - the nature of maturing and the nature of heat; they are fire element (tejo dhatu).

Hotness and coldness is taught in the Dhammasangani. Let us consider the example of a child who is having fever. When we touch his body we say "He is hot".

Later, when he recovers from the fever and if we touch to test his temperature, we say "He has become cold now" (this is a local expression). Although we say it is cold, isn't there some degree of hotness when we touch his body?

When there is little heat we say it is cold; when there is a lot of heat we say it is hot. Hot and cold is occurring continuously. Therefore the Buddha taught the nature of heat, unha tejo.

Paripacana bhava means the nature of maturing.

It is the function of fire element.

Yo vitthambhana bhavo va samudirana bhavo va ayam vayo dhatu - the nature of supporting and the nature of pushing; they are wind element (vayo dhatu).

Altogether there are 4 elements:

1) Pathavi dhatu, the nature of hardness and roughness;
2) Apo dhatu, the nature of cohesion and flowing;
3) Tejo dhatu, the nature of maturing and heat, in other words the nature of hot and cold;
4) Vayo dhatu, the nature of pushing and supporting.

Evam samkhittena dhatuyo pariggahetva discern these 4 elements by means of the brief method.

Initially we need to practise to find and realize these 4 elements first.

Then punappunam Pathavidhatu apodhatuti, dhatumattato nissattato nijjivato avajjitabbam manasikitabbam paccavekkhitabbam -

discern them as 4 elements but not as 'person', 'living beings', 'jiva atta'.

How to meditate? Meditate as "Pathavidhatu, apo dhatu, tejo dhatu, Vayo dhatu", "Pathavi dhatu, apo dhatu, tejo dhatu, vayo dhatu".. This is the way. There is another way in the brief method.

The second way is Atha va pana ye ime catunnam mahabhutanam nissattabhavadassanattham dhamma senapatina "atthinca paticca nharunca paticca mamsanca paticca dhammanca paticca akaso parivarito rupantvevasankham gacchati" ti cattaro kotthasa vutta. Tesu tam tam antaranusarina nanahatthena vinibbhujitva vinibbhujitva yo etesu thadda bhavo va khara bhavo vi, ayam pathavidhatu ti purimanayeneva dhatuyo pariggahetva punappunam pathavidhatu apodhatuti, dhatumattato nissattato nijjivato avajjitabbam manasikatabbam paccavekkhitabbam (Vism, Xl, 43) -

the general of the Dhamma, Venerable Sariputta, in order to show the absence of the perception of beings, man, woman, person, jiva atta, soul in the 4 great elements, taught the 4 parts of the body: bones, sinew, flesh and skin.

Because of bones, sinew, flesh, skin being surrounded by space there comes to be the term "Rupa", "matter form". Then separating the bodily parts (kotthasa) by the hands of wisdom discern them as 4 elements:

the nature of hard and rough is Pathavidhatu; the nature of cohesion and flowing is apo dhatu; the nature of hot and cold is tejo dhatu; the nature of supporting and pushing is Vayo dhatu.

They are only elements. They are not a 'being', not a 'soul'. Thus is the instruction. These are the procedures of the practice.

How to begin with the practice? One may begin with the nature of pushing. If the meditator does not wish to begin with pushing he may begin orderly, first with Pathavidhatu, according to his insight.

Let us say he begins with Pathavi dhatu. (While sitting in the sitting meditation posture) bite or press the teeth together.

Is it hard or soft? It is hard.

If hardness is distinct at that place then gradually spread to discern hardness in the whole body:

the feet, the bones which are touching or any place. Discern hardness in the whole body such that it feels like a stone or iron.

If you can do so then you can change to discern roughness. Rub the tongue over the upper surface (the tip) of the teeth and feel the roughness; or you can brush your hand over your clothing on your thigh and feel the roughness.

Then try to see roughness throughout the whole body in a systematic way. Try to discern roughness combined with hardness. If unable to do so, it can be helped by discerning pushing.

Therefore I have said that most of the meditators who begin with discerning pushing can discern easier. Then, where should one begin with pushing? The pushing nature can be discerned at the place of the breath.

If one prefers he can also discern it at the abdomen. Wherever pushing is distinct, he can begin from that place. For the pushing nature of the breath, discern by your mind the centre of your head.

As you breathe, the breath pushes that part of the head. The place is not important. When pushing can be discerned in the whole head, then systematically, gradually discern pushing in the whole body: the pushing that exists between flesh, between bones, between sinews.

After discerning pushing, discern hardness again by biting or pressing your teeth together. You can also find hardness by closing your hands tightly (fist). From whatever place that hardness is distinct, then spread to discern hardness in the whole body systematically.

When hardness is clear then discern roughness. If unable to discern it then again discern pushing and hardness in the whole body systematically. By doing so you can find roughness. Then you can discern in the whole body pushing, hardness and roughness systematically.

Why is one able to do so (i.e. able to discern roughness with the help of pushing and hardness)?

For example to catch a wild elephant one may use a tamed elephant to lure it and then catch it. Similarly for discerning an element which is not yet discerned or is difficult to discern, then discern it by combining with another element which has been discerned easily earlier on.

After these 3 nature (hard, rough and pushing) have been discerned, further discern heaviness. Press on the thigh by hand or else weigh down/press down the hip on the floor; heaviness will be distinct then. Heaviness is easier.

Supporting can be discerned when the body is in an upright, erect posture. If it is not distinct then loosen the body and move or sway it a little; then keep the body upright and erect abruptly without moving it.

The force that keeps the body upright is supporting. Discern it.

But if you are unable to realize it, then sitting in an upright position discern it together with hardness. It may be similar to the idea that an old house which may collapse is supported by a big pole.

The hands, feet or body may be in whatever position, this is only the force of maintaining the posture-supporting. When supporting nature is clear then one can further discern the next characteristic.

Pushing and supporting are Vayo dhatu. Hard, rough and heavy are garu pathavi dhatu. As garu pathavi are discerned, the meditator further discerns softness. Press the tongue against the inside of the lip to feel its softness.

From this distinct softness at the lip, systematically discern softness in the whole body. Discern softness in the whole body so that it is mentally relaxed and the whole body soft like cotton wool or pudding.

The reason to discern softness is that while discerning hardness, if hardness becomes excessive and unbearable, then to overcome it softness should be discerned. Then the mind may become calm again.

Although softness occurs, however soft it may be, there is still some or slight degree of hardness. It is not so hard but only some traces of hardness.

Those characteristics already discerned should be discerned again and again before proceeding to the next stage each time. Also if unable to proceed to the next stage, that is if unable to discern the subsequent characteristic, then discern again and again those characteristics already discerned.

After softness then discern smoothness. Slide the tongue from side to side over the lower or upper lip. Discern the smoothness there. Then systematically discern smoothness in the whole body so that it is like being applied with oil.

After this stage lightness may be distinct. If lightness is not distinct then discern it together with heaviness. While discerning heaviness of the hand on the knee, wiggle (i.e. raising and putting down) one forefinger.

Then discern lightness there. After that discern lightness in the whole body systematically so that it is like a leaf. The nature of softness, smoothness and lightness are lahu pathavi dhatu.

Altogether (with garu Pathavi dhatu) there are six types of Pathavi dhatu. Pushing and supporting are Vayo dhatu. Thus far 2 dhatu (element) are already discerned.

Subsequently, hotness can be discerned by placing one hand over the other (for example the right hand over the left palm). Discern hotness in that touch. From the place where hotness is most distinct, discern hotness in the whole body systematically.

After that discern coldness by feeling the coldness of the breath as it enters the nostril. Then discern coldness systematically throughout the whole body. Hotness and coldness are tejo dhatu. They are quite easy to discern. The purpose to discern both hot and cold is that sometimes hotness may become excessive and unbearable. This can be overcome by changing to discern coldness at that time. Now 10 nature of the elements have been discerned: 6 of pathavidhatu, of Vayo dhatu and 2 of tejo dhatu. When these 10 has been discerned repeatedly, cohesion - like being wrapped around by ropes - may be found. If unable to discern cohesion then discern emphasizing only on pushing and hardness, again and again. In this way, cohesion - like being wrapped around with ropes - can be found.

As for flowing, saliva is always flowing at the base of the teeth or tongue. Discern flowing there. Then discern flowing throughout the body systematically. What is flowing? Blood, sweat, phlegm, pus etc.; there are 12 types of flowing. Whichever flowing it may be, discern it. But it is not to meditate on blood', 'sweats, etc... In this case it is to discern the nature of flowing only. If the nature of cohesion and flowing are not clear, then discern together with coldness or hotness. This is because cohesion of apo dhatu has the nature of holding together the remaining other 3 elements. Also when hotness moves throughout the body, flowing also spreads; when coldness spreads, flowing also spreads. When the other 3 elements are clear then apo dhatu will become clear to the insight. Therefore apo dhatu can be discerned together with one or three of the other elements. If flowing and cohesion are clear then all 4 dhatus are completed. To re-arrange them in proper order is pathavi dhatu, apo dhatu, tejo dhatu, Vayo dhatu.

There are disciplines to follow for meditation on the 4 elements as mentioned in the subcommentary to Visuddhimagga:

1) Anupubbato - Firstly, one must meditate according to the sequence order taught by Buddha. In the Maha Satipatthana Sutta Pali quoted above previously, the Buddha taught it as pathavi dhatu, apo dhatu, tejo dhatu, vayo dhatu. Then why does the meditator discern pushing first? This is because they are first taught in that manner and then when successful they have to rearrange to meditate according to Buddha's teaching (pathavi apo, tejo, Vayo dhatu): so that the meditator can easily discern the more distinct ones first.

2) & 3) Natisighato, natisanikato - The meditator must meditate not too fast nor too slow. If he discerns too fast then the 4 elements which are the object of this meditation will not be clearly seen. If he discerns too slowly, he will not reach the end of this meditation.

4) Vikkhepapatibahanato - The meditator must prevent the mind from going out from the object of meditation, the 4 great elements. He must not contemplate or think about other objects other than the 4 great elements. Objects other than the 4 great elements include both concept (pannatti) and ultimate reality (paramattha). At the time of developing concentration (Samadhi,) based on the 4 great elements, the mind must not contemplate or think about any other object, whether concept or ultimate reality, except the 4 great elements. There must not be a wandering mind. This prohibition is very important. Then the question: how long or until when should the meditator meditate only on the 4 great elements? Until the concentration of the meditator attains Upacara Samadhi (access/neighbourhood concentration).

5) Pannattisamatikkamanato - The meditator must try to be able to discern the ultimate reality, natural, individual characteristic of the 4 elements. In the beginning, the function (rasa) of the element may be discerned too, but at the time of developing concentration, the meditator should emphasize on seeing clearly the natural individual characteristic by insight. Therefore the mind (Bhavana Citta) should be fixed on the natural individual characteristic of the 4 elements.

6) Anupatthanamunacanuto - At the time when the mind is fixed on the natural characteristic of the 4 elements, some of the nature may not be clear. For example in Pathavi there are hardness, softness, roughness, smoothness, heaviness and lightness. Out of these 6, some may not be clear. Then, those that are not clear should not be searched for or looked for because it will interfere with concentration at this stage (this stage is the development of concentration stage which is not the learning stage at the beginning. At the learning stage the meditator has to 'learn' about the elements and therefore needs to discern it systematically, gradually then). Therefore if any 2 or 3 of the 6 types of Pathavi dhatu such as hardness, roughness and heaviness are clear then it is enough for Pathavi dhatu. But the meditator has to bear it if any hardness, roughness or heaviness is excessive. If he cannot bear it then he should change to discern the opposite; softness, smoothness and lightness. Similarly for Apo dhatu - out of cohesion and flowing, if only flowing is clear then it is enough. As for Tejo dhatu, out of hotness and coldness, if only hotness is clear then it is enough. For Vayo dhatu, out of pushing and supporting, if only supporting is clear then it is enough. Therefore if these 4 nature: hardness, flowing, hotness and supporting are clear and the meditator can bear them, then the mind (Bhavana Citta) should be concentrated fixedly on these 4 nature and only if any of the other nature are not clear then they may be left out temporarily.

7) Lakkhanato - The mind should concentrated on hardness, flowing,' hotness and supporting, the 4 individual characteristic of the 4 elements. The meditator should go beyond the name concept of the 4 elements. If the mind is concentrated on the name concept of Pathavi Apo, Tejo, Vayo, then the practice efficiency is not enough to discern the individual characteristics. The mind should be concentrated on the natural, individual, intrinsic characteristic of the 4 elements. For Pathavi dhatu, it is hardness; for Apo dhatu, it is flowing; for Tejo dhatu it is hotness; for Vayo dhatu, it is supporting. The mind should be concentrated on them, being beyond the name concept, Pannatti. It is not a meditation limited by word concept and also not a word recitation meditation. This is also an important factor. 8), 9 & 10) Sometimes the Samadhi may not be good, then it should be kept in balance with viriya in accordance with Adhicitta Sutta (also known as Nimitta Sutta), Anuttarasitibhava Sutta (of Anguttara Nikaya) and Bojjhanga Sutta.

The above ten disciplines are mentioned in the Maha Tika with reference to Sammoha Vinodani. Therefore it is essential to follow these rules for the practice of meditation on 4 elements. While performing any work, if one follows its rule of procedure then one can attain success satisfactorily. To bypass or cross over its rules then one may or may not be successful. So in this practice first be able to discern the 12 nature: hardness, roughness, heaviness, softness, smoothness, lightness, flowing, cohesion, hotness, coldness, supporting and pushing, one after another, throughout the body from head to feet. If able to discern them, then further discern as though you are standing behind yourself, looking at all the 12 nature one by one. When these 12 nature arise together or is like mixed together to the insight, then the seen or discerned hardness, roughness, heaviness, softness, smoothness, lightness is Pathavi dhatu; the seen/discerned flowing and cohesion is Apo dhatu; the seen/discerned hotness and coldness is Tejo dhatu; the seen/discerned supporting and pushing is Vayo dhatu. Emphasize only on 4 groups. Meditate on them as "Pathavi dhatu, Apo dhatu, Tejo dhatu, Vayo dhatu", Pathavidhatu, Apo dhatu, Tejo dhatu, Vayo dhatu',...

In other words at the beginning discern them by the hands of wisdom between bones, between sinew, between flesh, between skin, from head to feet. After this, meditate on them in the body as a whole. Try to be able to concentrate the mind only on the 4 elements:

"Pathavi dhatu, Apo dhatu, Tejo dhatu, Vayo dhatu", "Pathavi dhatu, apo dhatu, Tejo dhatu, Vayo dhatu",..., meditate neither too fast nor too slow. If meditate like this for many times, what will happen?

Tassevam vayama manassa nacireneva dhatuppabhedavabhasanapannapariggahito sabhava dhammarammanatta appanam appatto upacaramatto Samadhi uppajjati (Vism, XI, 42) - if one makes effort like this then in not a long time, the distinguishing of the dhatu become clear by his own light of wisdom. Because of taking the profound natural characteristic as the object, no matter how, he does not attain Appana Samadhi; but he attains the type of Kamavacara Samadhi called Upacara Samadhi.

Therefore Appana Samadhi cannot be attained. However it is mentioned that the highest degree of Kamavacara Samadhi called Upacara Samadhi arises. In this case there are two facts that need to, be explained: 1) First is that there is light in wisdom 2) Secondly, only Upacara Samadhi can be attained.



Concerning that wisdom has light the Buddha taught in the Nimitta Sutta of Anguttara nikaya, Tika Nipata: Yato ca kho bhikkhave adhicittamanuyutto bhikkhu kalena kalam Samadhi nimittam manasi karoti, kalena kalam paggaha nimittam manasi karoti, kalena kalam upekkha nimittam manasi karoti, tam hoti cittam mudunca kammaniyanca pabhassaranca, na ca pabhangu, samma Samadhi yati asavanam khayaya. The meditator sometimes having attention on the nimitta that causes Samadhi (concentration), tries to develop Samadhi sometimes having attention on the nimitta that causes viriya (effort), he tries to have viriya; sometimes having attention on the nimitta that causes upekkha (equanimity), he tries to have equanimity. It means he is practising to balance these three: Samadhi, viriya, upekkha. What is the mind that is called Adhicitta? Both Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta are called Adhicitta. The monk who is trying to develop Samatha Bhavana and Vipassana Bhavana called Adhicitta should pay attention sometimes on the nimitta that causes Samadhi; sometimes on the nimitta that causes viriya; sometimes on the nimitta that causes upekkha. If practise thus, what will happen?

Tam hoti cittam mudunca kammaniyanca pabhassaranca - the Samatha Bhavana Citta, Vipassana Bhavana Citta becomes pliant and adaptable. Being pliant and adaptable, if he wishes to be in Samadhi,, Samadhi can be attained. If he wishes to change to Vipassana he can change to Vipassana If he wishes to know Rupa he can discern Rupa. If he wish to know Nama, he can discern Nama. If he wishes to know cause, he can discern cause. If he wishes to know effect, he can discern effect. It becomes concentrated with what he wishes to practise. The mind becomes adaptable. Not only that. Besides, the mind also becomes brilliantly bright - pabhassara. Thus the Buddha taught. Therefore is there brilliant brightness in the Samatha Bhavana Citta called Adhicitta?

Yes, there is. Is there brilliant brightness in the Vipassana Bhavana Citta called Adhicitta? Yes, there is.

One must pay attention not one-sidedly only on the nimitta that causes Samadhi; also not one-sidedly only on the nimitta that causes Viriya; also not one-sidedly only on the nimitta that causes Upekkha. One should pay attention equally on that of Samadhi, viriya and Upekkha. If viriya is excessive, the mind may wander. If Samadhi is excessive, one becomes bored. If Upekkha is excessive one may fall into Moha. Therefore it is necessary for the meditator to balance Samadhi, and Viriya. There are 2 kinds of Variya: Kayika Viriya and Cetasika Viriya. Both should be strong. Although the body is sitting, if he has no effort (viriya) to prohibit the mind from wandering around on so many objects, can he be successful? No, he cannot. Although there is the wish to try to meditate, if his body cannot endure (the sitting), i.e. he has no kayika viriya, can he be successful? No he cannot. Therefore viriya is necessary; Samadhi is also necessary. If viriya and Samadhi are existing, it is necessary to keep the mind balanced on the object of meditation. It is necessary not to be excessively enthusiastic and also not uninterested. If uninterested, the Bhavana Citta will become weak. If he is excessively enthusiastic, his mind shakes and wanders. Therefore one should be able to maintain the mind balanced on the object of meditation. This is called Tatramajihattata. But here it is called upekkha nimitta.

Having made Samadhi and Viriya balanced, if one can use the power of upekkha then the Samatha Bhavana Citta, Vipassana Bhavana Citta will become pliant (mudu) and adaptable (kammaniya) for any Bhavana practice. Pabhassara - the mind will become bright brilliantly. Na ca pabhangu - this Citta will not be destroyed by kilesa called the opposite Nivarana. Samma Samadhi yati asavanam khayaya - his Citta will be well stable to attain Arahatta Phala where Asava are eradicated. Thus taught the Buddha. According to this teaching, is there any light in Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta? There is light. However most people know only that Vipassana Bhavana Citta has light especially in udayabbaya nana (insight knowledge). The fact that Samatha Bhavana Citta has light is rarely known.

In Anguttara nikaya there is one Sutta called Pacalayamana Sutta which is about Venerable MahaMoggallana's attainment of Arahatta. In this Sutta there is one instruction to the Venerable MahaMoggallana by the Buddha to create the Aloka light both in day and in night to overcome sloth & torpor (ThinaMiddha). According to the subcommentary there are 4 kinds of light. The Buddha also taught in Aloka Sutta and Abha Sutta of Anguttara Nikaya that there are 4 kinds of light: 1) sunlight, 2) moonlight (which includes starlight), 3) light of fire, and 4) light of wisdom. As for the light of wisdom the subcommentary to the Pacalayamana Sutta mentioned that there are 4 types:1) Dibba Cakkhu Abhinna (Divine eye/psychic power) also has light. It is very powerful. 2) Aloka Kasina or all the Kasina have light. 3) Beginning from Palikamma Samadhi (preliminary concentration) which is close to Upacara Samadhi up till the upper Samatha Bhavana Citta, all these have light also. 4) In the Upakilesa called Vipassanobhasa - it is the bright light of Vipassana nana (Vipassana insight knowledge). These are the 4 lights mentioned.

If so, one may ask that since both Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta have light, why emphasize specifically that light of Vipassana Upakilesa called Obhasa. The reason being that the light that appears initially (earlier) is not similar to this light (obhasa) in degree and power. It is mentioned in Visuddhimagga on page 270: "Na vata me ito pubbe evarupo obhaso uppanna pubbo, addha maggappattosmi phalapattosmi"ti. Amaggameva "maggo"ti, Aphalameva ca "phala"nti ganhati (Vism, XX 107) - "Such light never arise in me previously. Surely it must be Magga and Phala" thus he wrongly thought. When it is not Magga, he thinks it is Magga; when it is not Phala, he thinks it is Phala. He has gone astray from the Way. Because of going astray, it is listed as an upakilesa. It is natural that the light appears at this stage.

But as to "light of wisdom", the questions arise: "Is there light in wisdom?", "Is there light in mental factors (Nama dhamma)?" This is explained in the subcommentary to Visuddhimagga, page 428, paragraph 733: Vipassanobhaso ti vipassana citta samuithitam, sasantatipatitam utu samutthananca bhasuram Rupam - What is the light of Vipassana insight? Two types of causes are mentioned. This bright light is caused by Vipassana Citta (mind) and also by the Tejo dhatu called utu which occur in one's own continuity process of Rupa. This explanation can be easily understood by the meditator who is meditating at the Rupa kammatthana stage:

1) For any person, any living beings who are composed of Nama and Rupa, every mind that arises dependent on hadaya vatthu (heart base) has the ability to produce Cittaja Rupa (matter cause by mind). These Cittaja Rupa arise as Cittaja Kalapa in the whole life. If one of these Kalapa is analysed, there are 8 kinds of Rupa factors: Pathavi, Apo, Tejo, Vayo, Vanna, Gandha, Rasa and Oja (Earth, water, fire, wind, colour, smell, taste and nutritive essence). The colour of it is called Vanna dhatu. Every Samatha Bhavana Citta (mind) and Vipassana Bhavana Citta (mind) can produce Cittaja Rupa. So, in this case the Vipassana Bhavana Citta can produce Cittaja Rupa. Every Kalapa of Cittaja Rupa has the Ruparammana called Vanna dhatu. This Ruparammana is 'Bhasuram Rupam', a brilliantly bright Rupa.

2) Also if discerned further, every Cittaja Kalapa has the 4 element: Pathavi, Apo, Tejo, Vayo. In these 4 elements, the Tejo dhatu is called utu. This Tejo dhatu called utu can produce new generations of Kalapa. Depending on how powerful the Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta are, this production of new generations of Kalapa by Tejo datu has the ability to spread out, externally (bahiddha) from internal (ajjhata). If analysed, every Kalapa produced by Tejo dhatu has 8 kinds of Rupa factors: Pathavi, Apo, Tejo, Vayo, Vanna, Gandha, Rasa and Oja. Every Utuja Rupa Kalapa has the Ruparammana called Vanna dhatu. This Ruparammana is 'Bhasuram Rupam', a brilliantly bright Rupa.

This explanation shows that both - 1) the brightness of the Vanna dhatu of every Cittaja Rupa Kalapa caused by the Vipassana Citta and 2) the brightness of the Vanna dhatu of every Kalapa caused by the Tejo dhatu called utu which is present in the Cittaja Rupa Kalapa - are called Vipassanobhasa, the light of Vipassana nana. The explanation above is similar for the light that appears in Samatha Bhavana Citta. So, is this really the light of Vipassana nana? No, it is not. It is used in the Text as a metaphor only. Instead of saying that the effect (Rupa) has light which is caused by nana (insight), it is said that the cause in itself has light as a metaphor. It is actually the name of the Vanna dhatu, Ruparammana present in Cittaja Rupa and Utuja Rupa.

For example we say that the bed is shouting noisily. (This is a local expression meaning someone is sitting on the bed noisily) Can the bed shout? No. Actually it is the person sitting on it who can make the noise. In literature some words are used as a metaphor so that the facts can be easily understood. Why is metaphor used in this case? It is because the more powerful the Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta are, the brighter is the light: showing the relationship of cause and effect between them. Therefore is it true that there is light in mental factors (Nama dhamma)? No. As mentioned above it is the brightness of Vannadhatu Ruparammana present in both Cittaja Rupa Kalapa and Utuja Rupa Kalapa.

Another point is this: for example this hall is lighted up by the bulbs. When the bulbs are lighted up, the light is reflected by other objects in the hall. In the same way when brightness of Vannadhatu Ruparammana present in Cittaja Kalapa and Utuja Kalapa occur, the Vanna dhatu of the remaining other Kalapa such as Kammaja Rupa and Aharaja Rupa will also be bright together by reflection. Therefore the subcommentary mentioned Sasantati patitam - this light occur in the continuity process of Rupa.

The subcommentary further compares the power between the light of Cittaja Rupa and the light of Utuja Rupa. Tattha Vipassana citta samutthitam yogino sariratthameva pabhassaram hutva titthati, itaram sariram muncitvaI nanubhavanuRupam samantato pattharati - the brightness of the Vanna dhatu Ruparammana of every Rupa Kalapa caused by the Vipassana Bhavana Citta exists only in the body. On the other hand the Vanna dhatu of every Utuja Kalapa as mentioned above are spread not only in the body but also externally in every direction. Therefore the light which is spreading externally is the light of Vanna dhatu Ruparammana present in the Utuja Kalapa. The brightness of this occurs in accordance to the power of insight - nananubhavanuRupam. If the power of wisdom is high, it will be very bright. If the wisdom is weak, it will not be so bright. Its power to be bright is according to the power of wisdom.

Tam tasseva panna yati - this light can be seen only by the insight of the meditator. Another person cannot see this light. For example, can our normal ordinary eyes see X-ray? No. Because our ordinary eyes cannot see X-ray, can we say X-ray does not exist? No, we cannot. X-ray photographs can be taken. Tena Phutthokase Rupagatampi passati - as the light is spread externally (outside) any place that it touches/passes, if that place is discerned, then various types of objects can be seen. With what does he see these objects? Passanto ca cakkhu vinnanena passati, udahu manovinnanenati vimamsitabbanti vadanti - one can see the various objects existing where the light passes. At the time of seeing, the respectable teachers taught in this case to investigate whether one sees by eye consciousness (Cakkhu Vinnana) or by mind consciousness (mano Vinnana). Therefore the light caused by Vipassana nana can be used to discern or to see external objects. Also if Samatha Bhavana Citta has light, it can be used to discern external object; but ills not as precise as Dibba Cakkhu Abhinna (divine/psychic eyes). Although it is not as powerful as Dibba Cakkhu Abhinna but yet it can see external objects. At the time of seeing, is the external object seen by eye consciousness or mind consciousness?

This is explained by the subcommentary to Visuddhimagga with the conclusion that: DibbaCakkhulabhino viya tam manoVinnana vinneyyamevati vuttam viya dissatiti - this means that similarly as the person who attains Dibba Cakkhu Abhinna this meditator also sees the various external object by mind consciousness (mano Vinnana). The conclusion is that it is not seen by the eye consciousness. It is seen by the Manodvarika Javana Vithi Citta which arises dependent on the hadaya vatthu but not by the Cakkhu Vinnana Citta which arises dependent upon the eye transparent element.

If one is developing Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta then at that time he may see (these objects) if he discerns, especially the meditator who is practising Metta Kammatthana (Lovingkindness meditation). If he sends Metta such as Sabbe deva ... "May all deities be free from danger, etc..." then by spreading out the power of the light, he will find some deities accordingly. Similarly for "Sabbe vinipatika...", when he take the beings of Apaya as his object, he will find some beings of Apaya accordingly. They are able to see them because of the power of the light which arise produced by Samatha Bhavana Citta. These are seen by mind consciousness, mano Vinnana Citta. They are not seen by eye consciousness, Cakkhu Vinnana Citta. Similarly for the meditator who is practising Vipassana Bhavana kammatthana, if without this light, he is not able to meditate externally on the NamaRupas of the 31 realms, as a whole. Therefore there is light in all Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta. The Buddha precisely taught that Samatha Bhavana Citta and also Vipassana Bhavana Citta have light in the Nimitta Sutta.

Everytime when light appears, is it right to say that one is at udayabbaya nana stage? No. Not every light is udayabbaya nana. It is not true that the light exists only in udayabbaya nana. Other Samatha Bhavana Citta and Vipassana Bhavana Citta also have light. But the light that arises at the stage of udayabbaya nana, by comparison, is not like the light that arose previously. If not the same, how are they different? The meditators who are practising can understand.



As mentioned previously that in the practice of Dhatu kammakatthana, meditation on the 4 elements, the highest degree of concentration that can be achieved is Upacara Samadhi. No matter how, one can never achieve Appana Jhana concentration - why? Sabhava dhammarammanatta - because the meditator is taking the nature of ultimate reality of the Rupa as the object. The natural characteristic dhamma is very profound and difficult. Jhana cannot be attained because one's object of meditation is this profound and difficult natural characteristic dhamma. However one can attain the highest degree of the Kamavacara Samadhi called Upacara Samadhi.

Then the question: is this real Upacara Samadhi? It is not real Upacara Samadhi. The subcommentary explained that the commentator uses this name as a metaphor. The ground which is in close vicinity or near to the house is called neighbourhood (Upacara), so similarly the Samadhi which is in close vicinity or near to Jhana is called Upacara Samadhi, neighbourhood concentration. In the practice of meditation on 4 elements, Jhana can never be attained. So, is the concentration developed in this meditation neighbourhood to Jhana? No, it is not (if there is no house, can there be a neighbourhood?). On the other hand, for any meditation (kammakatthana) that Jhana can be attained, the concentration which is neighbourhood or near to Jhana is called Upacara Samadhi. But because the real Upacara Samadhi and the 'Upacara' Samadhi attained through the practice of meditation on the 4 elements has the same degree of concentration, so it is called 'Upacara' Samadhi as a metaphor. In this stage of developing concentration, taking the natural characteristics as object of meditation, the light appears. When does this light appear? This light appears when the Samadhi attains the standard degree of concentration. But for many meditators they may find a grey colour before the light appears. If he is able to discern the 4 elements on the grey colour then gradually he may see white colour, like clouds. Again if he is able to discern the 4 elements on the white, it would become clear (like crystal or ice block).

If he is not able to discern it, what can he do? Discern hardness on the white and then again on the whole body, after which again on the white; repeatedly like this. After realizing hardness, further discern roughness. Realizing these 2, then discern the 3rd. After that the 4th until all 12 characteristics are realized on the white. Subsequently discern hardness, roughness, heaviness, softness, smoothness and lightness as Pathavi dhatu; flowing and cohesion as Apo Dhatu; hot and cold as Tejo Dhatu; pushing and supporting as Vayo Dhatu. When practising on the 4 groups like this, the meditator will begin to find the clear element which is very clear like ice or glass. Further discern the 4 elements in the clear element. If unable to realize it then as previously instructed discern hardness on the whole body and then change to discern on the clear element. If able to realize like this successively, further develop the concentration based on the 4 elements in this clear element. For those who have past parami and also for those who put in much effort the clear form may break down into small particle Kalapa.

But if the meditator wishes to change to Kasina meditation or other kammakatthana, then at that time he needs to relax his effort. That is he needs to discern the 4 elements on the clear form with medium effort. If he discerns with medium effort then brilliant light will appear from the clear element. This light is very useful. However there are some meditators who found the light first before seeing the white or clear element. Both are correct. If the light becomes brilliant appearing from the clear element then one can see the 32 parts of the body by the power of this light. Why can it be said like this? As mentioned previously, the Visuddhimagga mentioned that a Suddha Vipassana Yanika and also the Samatha Yanika who wishes to change to Ditthi visuddhi beginning from Rupa Kammatthana has to begin with Dhatu Kammatthana. When discerning like this what happens? Athassa yathavasarasalakkhanato avibhutasu dhatusu (Vism, XVIII, 5) - it mentions that if the characteristic of 4 elements appear as they really are in the insight, the meditator can further discern the Rupas present in the 32 parts of the body such as the 44 kinds of Rupa in hair, 44 kinds of Rupa in bodily hair, etc... It is mentioned as esa tava dvattim sakare nayo. Can one be able to discern the 44 kinds of Rupa of the hair without seeing the hair? So, it means that if he can find the hair, then he can discern the 44 kinds of Rupa of the hair. What are the 44 kinds of Rupa in hair? Meditators here are instructed about this at the stage of Rupa kammatthana with charts. I will explain again a little about it in the section on Rupa kammatthana.

Concerning the above statements, if one can see the 32 bodily parts such as hair, bodily hair, nails, teeth, skin etc., he can temporarily stop from Rupa kammatthana and instead change to Kasina meditation. If he can practice on the 32 bodily parts, what should he do (to change to Kasina)? This is mentioned in Sammoha Vinodani on page 242. Firstly practise on the 32 bodily parts well. Practise well means if shine by this light (light of wisdom), the internal 32 bodily parts can be found. If found then, according to the Maha Thera (senior monks) of the olden days, practise on the 32 bodily parts mainly as a group - Poranakatthera kira "kotthasamanasikarova pamana"nti ahamsu (Sammoha vinodani). Therefore discern from hair to urine as a group first. If not successful then discern in group of five only. Discern hair, bodily hair, nails, teeth, skin; again and again. At the beginning it may not be clear. If it is not clear establish the concentration by meditation on the 4 elements again. When the light becomes powerful then discern the bodily parts again. After successful, further discern another group of 5 bodily parts; if again successful then follow by another group of 5 bodily parts etc. Discern rather precisely the form (shape) of the liver, heart. It is necessary that this is clear to the insight.

After being successful. internally (ajjhata - i.e. one's own 32 parts) further discern externally (bahiddha - i.e. the 32 parts of another person). To discern externally, one good method is that with the power of the light that has arisen after development of concentration by 4 elements, shine it on the person sitting in front of you (in the meditation hall). At the beginning of discerning externally it is better to begin with the person in front. Discern his 32 bodily parts by the power of the light. When successful discern internally, i.e. in oneself again and then discern externally i.e. in the person in front again; alternately again and again. After successful, change to another person. He may be the one sitting beside you (in the meditation hall). After successful discerning on the person sitting beside you, then discern the other meditators who are around you. When you are able to discern skilfully the 32 bodily parts in this way, then if you spread the light to a far distance you can discern cows, buffaloes, dogs, pigs, chickens, birds and human beings which are under the light. Discerning like this how does it appear to the insight of the meditator?

Evameva dvattimsa kotthasa upattahanti - if one looks at 32 poles of a fence from one side then he can see all the poles at one glance. In the same way because he can see from hair to urine at one glance, he just look only without mentally labeling 'hair, bodily hair, etc... In another simile, there is one garland with 32 kinds of flowers. One can see the 32 kinds of flowers having different colour at one glance. In this way when the 32 bodily parts become clear to the meditator's insight, what will happen? Vicaranta tiracchanagatapi manussapi sattati na upatthahanti - these human beings and animals as they go about are not seen as beings to the insight of the meditator. If so how do they appear to his insight? Kotthasati upatthahanti - they appear as just 32 bodily parts to his insight. Khadaniya bhojaniya kotthasantare pakkhipamanam viya hoti - when they eat food, it may become clear to his insight that they are putting food between the 32 bodily parts. If he is able to discern like this then he has become proficient in meditation on 32 bodily parts. Then what happens?

Kotthasanam pagunakalato patthaya tisu mukhesu ekena mukhena vimuccissati - if he becomes proficient in meditation on 32 bodily parts, there are three entrances to Nibbana. He will surly attain Nibbana by entering from one of the entrances. He will surely be free from kilesa then. Here, it does not mean that there are 3 paths to attain Nibbana. It only means for the stage of developing concentration. Since there are 40 kinds of meditation (kammatthana) at the stage of developing concentration, one can say that there are 40 paths. But at the stage of Vipassana there is only one path to reach Nibbana; it is the path from Ditthi visuddhi onwards till the higher Vipassana insights. Now it meant only for the Samatha stage. What are the 3 entrances?

Kammatthanam vannato va patikkulato va sunnato va upatthati (Sammoha vinodani) - it is either Vanna, the appearance of colour; or Patikkula, the appearance of loathsomeness; or Sunna, the appearance of the natural characteristic of elements. Sunna means that there is no 'person', or 'beings' but only a heap of elements. Therefore if one practises on the 32 bodily parts then 3 paths can be practised: 1) Vanna, he can meditate on colour Kasina; 2) Patikkula, he can meditate on the loathsomeness; 3) Sunna, he can meditate on the nature of the elements.

Yatha nama puve pacitukama itthi madditva thapitapitthato yam yam icchati tam tam pacati - suppose a woman, who wants to make some sweet cakes, first grinds the glutinous rice, mixes it with water and stirs After being stirred well it is so soft and flexible that it can be made into any kind of cake as she likes. Therefore it can be eaten as a pie by putting coconut filling and sugar; or as a glutinous rice dough; or any shape, any kind of cake. Another example: Yatha va pana same bhumippadese thapitam udakapuram kumbham, yato yato avinchanti, tato tatova udakam nikkhamati - placing a pot full of water on level ground one can easily pour it out at any direction. The water can easily flow out in any direction. Evameva kotthasanam pagunakalato patthaya tisu mukhesu ekena mukhena vimuccissati - in the same way, one can actually be free from kilesa by any one of the 3 entrance after practising the 32 bodily parts proficiently.

Akankhamanassa vannato, akankhamanassa patikkulato, Akankhamanassa sunnato kammathanam upatthahissatiyeva - if he wishes to practise colour kasina meditation, he can do so. If he wishes to practise meditation on loathsomeness, he can do so. If he wishes to practise meditation on the nature of the elements he can do so.

From colour kasina meditation, the 4th Jhana can be attained. Based on this 4th Jhana one can further progress to Arupa Jhana. Hair is brown colour. Practising on brown kasina one will attain 4th Jhana. Changing from that stage to Arupa Jhana one can attain all 8 Samapatti. The teeth are white colour; bones are white colour. Practising on that white kasina, 8 Samapatti can be attained. Blood is red. Practising on red kasina, 8 Samapatti can be attained. Fats and urine are yellow. Practising on yellow kasina, 8 Samapatti can be attained. If one wishes to attain these 8 Samapatti he must change to colour kasina.

Otherwise if he practises as a loathsomeness meditation then he can attain 1st Jhana only because, as loathsomeness is known by insight, without the help of Vitakka (application of mind on the object), the Bhavana Citta (mind) cannot be stable on an object which is loathsome. Therefore with Vitakka, it is only an ability to make the mind stable on the object. So only the 1st Jhana, in which Vitakka is present, can be attained. As for Sunna, it is to meditate on the nature of elements.

To practise these 3 paths, the meditator must first choose one bodily part. He must practise well on that chosen bodily part. For example a meditator chooses bones. He must first be able to see the bones. The meditator who is skilful in meditation on 32 bodily parts internally and externally must discern one bone either internally or externally. The meditator chooses according to his wish. If the meditator finds it better to meditate externally, then begin externally. If internally is better then he should begin practising internally. Let us say he chooses the method of practising externally. When the light becomes powerful due to the practice of 4 elements, discern the 32 bodily parts internally and externally, alternately by the light. After successful, shine by this light on external bones. Keep the mind stable on that bone and pay attention on the loathsomeness of this bone. Meditating like this, 2 aims can be achieved: to be able to change to colour kasina and to be proficient on the loathsomeness of bones.

Paying attention on the loathsomeness of bones, meditate as Patikkula, patikkula...', if you like Pali or else as 'loathsome, loathsome...'. Keep the mind concentrated and stable on the loathsomeness of bones or the bones which are loathsome. At the beginning one may be able to keep the mind stable for 10 or 20 minutes. Determine to increase gradually. Say, if after 10 minutes then "May I be able to concentrate for 20 minutes". After 20 minutes is successful, then "May I be able to concentrate for one hour" etc., as long as you want. If the mind is absorbed for one hour in the bone which is loathsome, determine to be able to do so in 3 or 4 sittings. This is because there is a rule that beginner must be in absorption more but less in reflecting (on the Jhana factors). According to this rule reflection on the Jhana factor should be less first. Practise mainly absorption in Jhana.

If successful in being able to be absorbed for one hour taking loathsomeness of bones as the object in 3 or 4 sittings, then for the next sitting again determine to be absorbed in the same object for one hour. After one hour, as the Bhavana Citta (mind) which is meditating on the loathsomeness arises dependent on hadaya vatthu in the heart, if you discern the place of hadaya vatthu then the 5 Jhana factors are apparent. 1) Vitakka: application or putting the mind on the object. 2) Vicara: sustaining the mind on the object. 3) Piti: Joy for the object. 4) Sukha: pleasant feeling or happiness associated with experiencing the object. 5) Ekaggata: one pointedness of mind on the object.

If the 5 Jhana factors appear, practise the mastery (vasi) on the 1st Jhana Samadhi. Reflection on the 5 Jhana factors is by Manodvarika Javana Vithi Citta. Mano-dvaravajjana Citta can discern the 5 Jhana factors. One should practice to be able to discern like this. Javana also can discern the Jhana factors. Discerning them by Javana is called Paccavekkhana vasi. Reflecting by Manodvaravajjana is called Avajjana vasi So there are 2 ways in reflecting. The 5 mastery are:1) Avajjana vasi: discerning the Jhana factors by manodvaravajjana; 2) Samapajjana vasi: practise to be able to enter into Jhana any time; 3) Adhitthana vasi, practise to be able to stay in Jhana for as long as you determine to stay. If you determine 1 hour then be absorbed for 1 hour; if 2 hours then be in Jhana for 2 hours; 4) Vutthana vasi: practise to be able to emerge from Jhana at any time; 5) Paccavekkhana vasi: discerning the Jhana factors by Javana.

Practise these 5 mastery very well. After successful in practising on external bones then change to meditating on internal bones. Or if the meditator begins with internal bones then change to meditate on external bones. Meditating alternately, internally and externally, practising the 5 mastery then meditate on external bones one person after another. If 5 Jhana factors of meditating on one person's bones appear then change to the next person. If the Jhana factors appear then change to meditate on the next person. If the Jhana factors appear then change to meditate on the 3rd person and so on, one after another successively. If all become bones then he is proficient on bones meditation. When able to practise on bones meditation until the appearance of the Jhana factors; and if in whichever direction you see, all are bones; if walking you find Only bones; if sitting you find only bones; if standing or lying down you find only bones then the practice is proper. It is making a preparation to change to Kasina meditation. If the bones become stable in his mind he can change to Kasina meditation.

see also ; Is Enlightenment Gradual Or Sudden?