What is the goal of one’s life?


The Bodhisatta cultivated jhana during many lives. Jhana is a high degree of renunciation, because at the moment of jhana one is free from sense impressions and, thus, not enslaved to them. However, if satipatthana is not being developed enlightenment cannot be attained and defilements cannot be eradicated. If one has accumulated skill for jhana it can be developed together with satipatthana so that the realities which appear and also the jhanacitta can be known as not self. If right understanding of the present moment is not developed calm will be the object of clinging. What is the goal of one’s life: to develop calm or to develop right understanding of realities?

 

One may believe that it is difficult for a beginner to be aware of lobha or dosa

which are intense. One cannot force sati and if it does not arise should one not

try to be calm first, for example by thinking of the Buddha’s teachings?

 

It is true that in the beginning mindfulness of the reality which appears at the

present moment does not often arise. There may be conditions for kusala citta

with calm but without right understanding of the present reality. Because of our

wrong understanding it may seem to us that we can tell ourselves, "Now there

cannot be mindfulness of nama and rupa, but I should think of the Buddha’s

teachings so that there will be less akusala". In reality all cittas which arise do so

because they have their own conditions for their arising, not because we could

control them. At some moments it may be possible to think of the Buddha’s

teachings and to become calm, but at other moments we may be unable to do

so.

 

If one tells oneself that one should become calm first before there can be

mindfulness of the present reality one clings to calm already and then there is

akusala citta. If one wants to do something else first before one develops

satipatthana is that not an excuse not to begin to develop understanding right

now? Even while we are thinking in that way are there no realities appearing?

It is a type of nama which thinks in that way and it arises because of conditions.

One has accumulated such inclination. Without the development of right

understanding we are lost because we do not know when there is subtle clinging

to "my kusala". Even though we understand in theory that the development of

right understanding is urgent there can be many moments that we are distracted

from our goal by clinging. While we try to avoid the types of akusala we do not

like another type of akusala, a subtle clinging we do not notice, arises. Until one

has become a sotapanna one may deviate from the eightfold Path, led by

clinging. But also such moments can be object of mindfulness and that is the

way to follow the right Path again. If we are resolute to develop understanding of

any reality which appears now, even if it is very unwholesome, we are not

tempted to try other ways of practice first, we are not tempted to put off the

development of right understanding.

 

Topic 251