What is the task of panna?
What is the task of panna and in which way does it know realities? Someone
asked what panna knows when flavour appears. Flavour may be salty or
sweet, there are many different kinds of flavour. When we are eating
pudding or herring, we think of their flavours with like or dislike, we are
absorbed in concepts and at such moments there is an idea of some “thing”
in the flavour, we do not know the true nature of flavour. When there is
mindfulness of the characteristic of flavour, panna can know it as only a
reality appearing through the tongue, as only a kind of rupa, no “thing” in it.
At that moment the flavour is still salty or sweet, it has not changed into a
“neutral” flavour, but panna does not think about the flavour, it knows its
true nature. Flavour is tasted through the tongue and after that we may
define what kind of flavour it is, but defining the flavour and thinking about it
is not panna. It is the task of panna to know its true nature, no matter
what kind of flavour it is.
We are bound to have misunderstandings about the characteristic and
function of panna and take for panna what is not panna. Hardness and
softness, for example, may appear and when we notice them we may
believe that there is right awareness. Everybody, even a child, can know
that something is hard or soft, but knowing this is not panna. We may not
expressively think, “This is hard, this is soft”, but there may still be an idea
of some thing that is hard or soft and then hardness and softness are not
realized as only rupa. Or we may try to direct sati to these characteristics
since we want to know them and in this way the truth will not be realized.
When kusala citta with mindfulness arises, hardness and softness are not
changed into something else, but panna can know their true nature.
Panna knows a nama or rupa which appears as only a reality. What
does this mean? When a nama or rupa is known as only a reality it is not
mixed up with the idea of a person or thing. Why is the word “only” used?
When what we experience is taken for “something” or “somebody”, we
attach great importance to it. We take what we experience for somebody
who exists or for something we can control, thus, for “self” or “mine”. We are
ignorant of the conditionality of phenomena. When panna knows, for
example, hearing as only a reality, it knows it as a reality that has arisen
because of its own conditions, not because of our will, and which cannot be
controlled. Earsense and sound are conditions for hearing and also these
factors are conditioned. Everything which arises because of conditions has
to fall away. Hearing, sound and all the other conditioned realities are only
present for an extremely short moment, they are insignificant realities.
23 Sep 2013