Different Degrees of Lobha - Subtle lobha I

Lobha, attachment, leads to sorrow. If we really understand this, we will wish to eradicate lobha. The eradication of lobha, however, cannot be done immediately. We may be able to suppress lobha for a while, but it will appear again when there are the right conditions for its arising. Even though we know that lobha brings sorrow, it is bound to arise time and again. However, there is a way to eradicate it: it can be eradicated by the wisdom which sees things as they are.


When we study cittas more in detail it will help us to know ourselves. We

should know not only the coarse lobha but also the degrees of lobha which

are more subtle. The following sutta gives an example of lobha which is more



We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (I, Sagātha-vagga IX, Forest Suttas,par.14): 

A certain monk was once staying among the Kosalese in a certain forest-tract.

Now while there was that monk, after he had returned from his alms-round

and had broken his fast, plunged into the lotus-pool and sniffed up the

perfume of a red lotus. Then the deva who haunted that forest tract, moved

with compassion for that monk, desiring his welfare, and wishing to agitate

him, drew near and addressed him in the verse:


'That blossom, water-born, thing not given,

You stand sniffing up the scent of it.

This is one class of things that may be stolen.

And you a smell-thief must I call, dear sir.'


The Monk :

       'Nay, nought I bear away, I nothing break.

Standing apart I smell the water's child.

Now for what reason am I smell-thief called?

One who does dig up water-lilies,

one who feeds on lotuses,

in motley tasks Engaged:

Why have you no such name for him?'


The Deva :

        'A man of ruthless, wicked character,

Foul-flecked as is a handmaid's dirty cloth:

With such the words I say have no concern.

But this it is meet that I should say (to you):

To him whose character is void of vice,

Who ever makes quest for what is pure:

What to the wicked but a hair-tip seems,

To him does great as a rain-cloud appear....'

  We should also know the more subtle lobha which arises when we enjoy a fragrant smell or beautiful music. It seems that there are no akusala cittas when we do not harm others, but also the more subtle lobha is akusala; it is different from generosity which is kusala. We cannot force ourselves not to have lobha, but we can come to know the characteristic of lobha when it appears.

Topic 178