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Cultivate Proper awareness

by Bhikkhu Nagasena

When a patient is seriously ill and at the moment of death, the persons mind drops into an unconscious state. During this state, the patient cannot control his mind at all. However, if the mental state of the patient is calm and good before the stream of active consciousness falls into the unconscious state, the process of his unconscious mind will also be in a good state.

The time of transformation is very important. The patient may look unconscious but the function of karmic consciousness has not completely ceased at this moment since the subtle consciousness is now under the process of a good or bad Karmic energy. During this moment, two mental states operate. The first is called the sign of action (kamma nimitta) which affects the patients consciousness. If he is supposed to be born into a good realm, he will see the good things that he has done. If he is to be born into a lower realm, he similarly relives what bad things he had done. After this, his subtle mind transforms into the sign of place (gati nimitta) and he perceives the realm into which he will be reborn. These two states of subtle consciousness precede the moment of death. Immediately after, the flow of consciousness departs from this body, as the functions of the body are no longer able to operate. Then the body loses its heat, decays and finally decomposes.

According to the Mahavedalla Sutta, the life force (Ayu), survives under the energy of heat (husma). When one dies, this heat disappears. We cannot see this force, just as we cannot see the energy it generates, only its effect upon matter. The process of consciousness transforms into the psycho-physical process (namarupa), through the combination of our parents, especially if one is to be born into the physical realm of humans, animals and so on. The theory of rebirth process suggests that the visible form of the psycho-physical process manifests when we take conception in our mothers womb. If we look at this process from the point of view of dependent origination (paticca samupada), consciousness gives rise to mind and body, not only at the point of conception but also throughout our existence, regardless of time and condition. But, how can the mind-body process take place continuously in the present? Take for example the moment that I see you. Here we can analyse the process by which I see you. First, of course, there is my own eye. Because of this eye contact, we have pleasant or unpleasant feelings. Though we dont notice it, this process is constantly coming into being and passing away.

In the discourse where he explains, this, the Buddha makes the further analysis that upon contact between eyes and object, there arises eye-consciousness. When the three objects (eyes, object and consciousness) are present together, proper contact can arise. When the eyes contact the object, if we pay close attention (manasikara), perception will arise spontaneously. Through this process we recognise the objects we previously perceived and name them as Jack, Jill, and hill, etc. If we dont give attention to what we see or hear, contact between the eyes or ears and objects cannot give rise to proper perception.

There are many times you dont know what youre doing. For instance, you are drinking a cup of tea but you dont heed what you are doing, nor do you know what is happening to your at that moment. Your attention is wandering around. It is because we havent cultivated proper attention and awareness of mind that these blank periods in our existence take place. If you pay attention, you will know what is what. When you see an object, you will be aware of eye, contact and eye-consciousness coming together.

The object from which you drink tea is form (rupa), the attention to that teacup is mind in action (nama). Therefore, perception arises as a result of the physical contact of eye and image as well as mental attention given to that object. At that moment, mind+body (namarupa) is born. So mind and form arise always on the basis of our attention to the object, moment after moment. If we dont pay attention, only the consciousness can arise-eye-consciousness in the case of eye contact, body-consciousness in the case of physical contact, and so on. But this is not a complete state of perception or mind. With our attention to what we do, we distance ourselves from the process by naming things glass, tea, table, etc. Such perception is still only at the ordinary, conventional level of the psychophysical process.

The intention of this little article is to develop the spiritual level of perception. During the meditation period, youre requested to be mindful of everything that comes into contact with you. This is because you can achieve spiritual insight into the psycho-physical (namarupa) process. By doing so, you can become aware of what you are doing. This awareness can help you to overcome suffering. If you discern what is form and what is mental process when contact arises, it will eventually bring about a state of realisation by which you can penetrate things as they really are. This practice however should not be an intellectual act but the ability of alertness to perceive things spontaneously.

This spiritual process is different from the ordinary process that began in our mothers womb. We dont need parental conditioning to give birth to the spiritual Nama-rupa. Because when we arise in the womb, we require our own state of consciousness (vinnyana) combined with the positive and negative force of our parents desire, where as the spiritual process does not need such carnal reactions. But we need to know how to transform the process from the ordinary to the spiritual through proper perception (yoniso-manasikara). Thats why the Buddha teaches self-salvation. What we need is our own effort to control and to purify the mind. The practice of such awareness can bring spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Aspire to the spiritual birth.

(Internet)

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ජූලි මස 17 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දා පූර්ව භාග 11.50 ට ලබයි. 18 වන දා සිකුරාදා අපරභාග 01.20 දක්වා පෝය පවතී. සිල් සමාදන්වීම ජූලි මස 17 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දාය.
 

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