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.
 
 

Topic 228