During this dhamma dialogue, Peter explored the transition from cultivating a calm and stable focus of attention to the practice of vipassana, insight into the conditioned nature of subjective reality. He described the meanings of kamma (karma in Sanskrit), sankhara, cetasikas and cetana. Kamma and sankhara are almost synonymous and the cetasikas are categories of the different functions of the personality that are organized into kamma by cetana, intention.
This was followed by discussion of how kamma functions in action and how breath awareness interrupts the formation of self-states, allowing opportunities to modify the mind conditioners toward more wholesome and adaptive functions.
Next week’s discussion will focus in on the cetasikas, to foster a deepening insight into how self-states are formed, deconstructing the misperception of a separate, enduring self.
CALMING MENTAL FABRICATION
This week’s discussion focuses on the next stanza in the Anapanasati Sutta, again downloaded from the Access To Insight site, translated by Thanissaro:
“On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out sensitive to rapture’; trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out sensitive to pleasure’; trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out sensitive to mental fabrication’; trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out calming mental fabrication’: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — careful attention to in-&-out breaths — is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.”
Continuing the exploration of how to increase the relevance of Buddhist wisdom in our era, this discussion explored the relationship between the concept of kamma (karma) and action. Emphasis was placed on using mindfulness to restrain impulsive action in order to promote behavior that cultivates kindness and compassion. This was related to current personal, cultural and spiritual conditions. This sets a foundation for thorough exploration of Right Livelihood in the next few talks.