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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 51 WHENEVER ONE OBSERVES presently arising objects di- rectly—which means observing them as soon as they arise, with morality, concentration, and wisdom—then one will be free from gross, medium, and subtle or latent defilements. There will be freedom from lobha: craving, desire, lust, and all similar feelings. There will be freedom from dosa: hatred, anger, ill will, and their relatives. Moha—bewilderment, delu- sion, unclear seeing—will also be absent. When greed, hatred, and delusion are absent the mind is pure, clean, clear. If the mind is not clear and clean, we are accepting a low standard of living, a low status. On the other hand, if the mind is pure we should think of this as a high standard of living, a high status. One’s mind and behavior become refined. Freed from greed, hatred, and delusion, we are untroubled within. Everything cherishes these qualities of refinement and calm. Here we see how meditators benefit directly from their practice. At the same time, others who live nearby will also gain indirect benefits. The meditator does not agitate his or her surround- ings and so the world becomes more peaceful for everyone. Gaining a victory with the help of morality, concentration, and wisdom is known as dhamma success, or dhamma vic- tory. When one gains this dhamma success in one’s own small world, there will be fewer problems overall. One’s own mind and surroundings become cool and peaceful. We spread less harm; the world gets better for everybody. Some people gain victory by weapons, others by the use of power. Still others manipulate groups or even threaten, frighten, and torture others. These external victories are based in greed, hatred, and delusion—lobha, dosa, and moha. They have mixed consequences at best and certainly don’t qualify as dhamma victories. Instead they’re known as adhamma vic- tories, that is, truthless victories. Gaining adhamma victory, one tends to lose one’s integrity and dignity, and problems arise as a consequence. The Buddha has given us instead the insight meditation practice, a path that leads to victory over ourselves. When we have this inner victory, it is we who reap the greatest benefit. Qualities Needed During Meditation Practice The crux of meditation practice is to sustain continuous mindfulness. For this one needs stability and durability of mind, strong effort, and the courage to overcome difficulties. Moreover, a meditator needs discernment. She or he must be capable of assessing what will be suitable, as opposed to what will be distracting or otherwise deleterious to the con- tinuity of mindfulness. In deciding whether to undertake an activity, then, a meditator must reflect wisely, make a decision, and stick to it. Some meditators allow gaps to arise in their mindfulness. These people must try to revive their good qualities, and re- sume. Durability of mind, effort, courage, and discrimination can never be slack or halfhearted. We need extraordinary du- rability, extraordinary effort, extraordinary courage, and ex- traordinary discernment. The Practice of Insight Meditation Our meditative tradition was founded by the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw of Rangoon. According to his instructions, satipatthana vipassana, also known as insight meditation, is the primary teaching. Discourses on metta, loving-kindness, are also offered, though far less often. This is because insight wisdom has the capacity to liberate the mind by seeing the dhamma directly. Unfortunately, however, not everyone can practice high- level insight meditation. It is a demanding practice, suitable for a minority of exceptional people. The benefits to be gained from this type of meditation, fur- thermore, are primarily for oneself. Others do benefit, but this happens somewhat indirectly. Since metta is easier for most people to develop and it benefits everyone, the practice of lov-