Q&A Gallery

A collection of questions and answers with Sayalay Susila mostly from Q&A sessions held during meditation retreats and Dhamma talks.

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Question:   As stream-enterer does not regard five aggregates as myself, why then he still has conceit?

Answer:     A stream-enterer has eradicated identity view regarding the five aggregates. This means he does not regard any of the five aggregates as "myself." However he still has the notion of "I am" because the latent defilement of conceit has not yet been eradicated. Identity view regards any of the five aggregates as "myself", conceit regards any of the five aggregates as "I am."

(One who has eradicated the five aggregates as "mine" has eradicated craving : carving for sensual pleasure, craving for fine material existence and craving for immaterial existence. An anagami, having eradicated craving for sensual pleasure, will not return to be reborn in the sensual planes. As such, an anagami is also called a non-returner. However, an anagami is still subjected to rebirth in a pure abode.

Identity view that regards any of the five aggregates as "myself", holds the view that there is a permanent self or soul that transmigrates from one life to another.)

See also: 20 False Views about Self,  AN10:13 Sanyojana Sutta: Fetters, The Four Stages of Enlightenment, The 10 Fetters31 Planes of Existence, AN7:15 Udakupama Sutta: The Water Simile,

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Question: How do i understand and practice "Gotami Sutta"? Please kindly teach me how to understand "Gotami Sutta" and put it into practice.


The Buddha said:

"Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

Q: What leads to passion?
A: Ignorance, not seeing the fault of passion.

 

Q: It seems to me that everything in the world leads to passion. 
A: It is true, all mundane things lead to passion.

 

Q: In my previous work in Nuskin, we promote health and beauty. Going after health and beauty is also passion right? 
A: Going after beauty is definitely a passion. One of the queens was intoxicated by her beauty, after death was reborn as a worm in the cow dung.

 

Q: It seems to me that the way of the world and the way of the Dhamma is totally opposite. 
A: Yes, you are right. THE WAY OF DHAMMA IS GOING AGAINST THE STREAM, BUT THE WAY OF WORLD IS FOLLOWING THE STREAM WHICH IS VERY EASY AND MAKES ONE MORE PASSIONATE.

 

Q: Is this advice only applicable to renunciants ? 
A: Yes, but it is also applicable to lay persons although it is difficult. 

 

Q: If not, how should a lay person who still has worldly duties to fulfill, practice according to these principles?
A: IF A LAY PERSON CAN EXPERIENCE THE INSIGHT OF ARISING AND PASSING AWAY, HIS MIND BECOMES DISPASSIONATE, NOT PASSIONATE; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating.

 

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INTERVIEW with Non-Duality Magazine on Sensual Desires, Celibacy, Jhana & Nibbana.

http://www.nondualitymagazine.org

NDM: How important is the practice of celibacy for jhana to arise?

Venerable Sayalay Susila: The meanings of jhana is to burn up the five hindrances of sense desires, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restless and remorse, and doubt. Indulging in sexual intercourse is the hindrance of sense desires. Without getting rid of this hindrance during the practice of concentration, the attainment of jhana is difficult. This is the reason why in Asia, when yogis come for concentration retreat, they are requested to observe eight precepts, including celibacy.

But this does not mean that one has to be celibate throughout one's lives if one wishes to attain jhana. Those who have attained jhana, later may not choose to practice celibacy.


NDM: How helpful is jhana in overcoming the fetters of sense desires?

Venerable Sayalay Susila: The Pali word Jhana has two meanings1. To contemplate closely, 2. to burn up the five hindrances. When the mind is closely contemplating on the object, for example, the breath, sense desires cannot entice the mind. Only when the mind lets loose the object, the sense desires gain the power to obsess the mind. In this sense, jhana directly overcomes the hindrance of sense desires. We usually categorize sense desires(kamacchanda) under hindrances (nivarana).

When the five hindrances are burnt up through attainment of jhana, the mind becomes extremely clear, happy, calm and radiant. The Buddha said the happiness of third jhana surpasses all mundane happiness. The mind of the yogis will incline more to jhana happiness rather than sensual happiness which is full of faults.

With the help of concentration, wisdom is developed to see things as they really are as impermanence, suffering and non-self. With repeated seeing of these three characteristics, the desire for sense pleasure will be lessened.

When the wisdom is developed into the third path of enlightenmentnon-returner, it permanently uproots the fetter of sensual lust (kamaraga). As a result, a non-returner will not return to this sensuous world.

In overcoming the fetter of sense desires, jhana temporarily suppresses it, but to completely uproot the fetters, we need the third noble path consciousness. This is to be achieved through insight meditation.


NDM: Is it possible to attain third and fourth path enlightenment and not be celibate?

Venerable Sayalay Susila: It is possible not to be celibate and attain third path. But once a practitioner attains the third path enlightenment--non-returner, the path consciousness of non- returner cuts off the sensual lust permanently. Then this person no longer has desire to have sexual intercourse with anyone. Therefore this person will be celibate forever. Then he moves on to attain fourth path enlightenment. This also means it is not possible to attain fourth path enlightenment and not be celibate.


NDM: Just to be clear, if someone is indulging in sense pleasures, they can’t be no more than second path, sakadagami, is this correct?

Venerable Sayalay Susila: Correct, Sakadagami still has sensual lust, but a non-returener has no sensual lust. 

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Question:   When the light (nimitta) is so bright that it strikes my eyes so strongly, what do i do?

Answer:     Reduce your effort slightly and the light will become softer, it will become not so striking.

See also: Upakkilesa Sutta: MN 128

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