The Discourse about the Ways of Attending to Mindfulness

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Contemplation of (the Nature of) Things

The Section about the Hindrances

And how, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things? The commentary has 2 explanations for the meaning of dhamma in this section, one is that Contemplation of the Body dealt with form, Contemplation of Feelings and Mind dealt with the formless, and Contemplation of (the Nature of) Things deals with a mixture of form and formless; or, secondly, a division into the constituents was intended: body = form, feelings, mind = consciousness, and here dhamma = perception and (mental) processes. Translations usually follow the second of these explanations, giving dhamma the meaning of mental contents or mental objects. However, as noted above, Contemplation of Mind really deals with mental processes, not with the sense consciousness. As noted in the Introduction, in other versions of this teaching it appears that the original structure of this section only included the hindrances and the factors of awakening, which are both lists of ethical qualities of mind. I believe dhamma in this original context probably meant ethical states, a well-attested meaning for the word, but one no longer useable once the additions of the constituents, sense-spheres and truths have been included. 01 Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things, in the five hindrances.

And how, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things, in the five hindrances?

Here, monks, a monk having sensual desire in himself Here ajjhattaṁ takes on another nuance. The parsing of the word is as adhi-, here meaning in, within + -atta, meaning the self, to be translated when standing alone as oneself (himself, herself, itself), according to context. In the next line, when in conjunction with me it becomes myself.02 knows “there is sensual desire in myself”; or, not having sensual desire in himself he knows “there is no sensual desire in myself”. How there is an arising of sensual desire that has not arisen – that he knows; and how there is an abandonment of sensual desire that has arisen – that also he knows; and how there is a non-arising of abandoned sensual desire again in the future – that also he knows. Many teachings these days seem to stop short at just knowing the state of the mind, but this in itself is not sufficient for the practice of mindfulness, which continues by elucidating the further skilful states of mind that need to be developed to be able to overcome the various sorts of defilements that can arise in the mind.03

Having ill-will in himself he knows “there is ill-will in myself”; or, not having ill-will in himself he knows “there is no ill-will in myself”. How there is an arising of ill-will that has not arisen – that he knows; and how there is an abandonment of ill-will that has arisen – that also he knows; and how there is a non-arising of abandoned ill-will again in the future – that also he knows.

Having sloth and torpor in himself he knows “there is sloth and torpor in myself”; or, not having sloth and torpor in himself he knows “there is no sloth and torpor in myself”. How there is an arising of sloth and torpor that has not arisen – that he knows; and how there is an abandonment of sloth and torpor that has arisen Comm: these six things lead to the giving up of sloth and torpor: grasping that the cause is in too much food, a complete change of the postures, applying the mind to the perception of light, dwelling in open grounds, having spiritual friendship and suitable talk.04 – that also he knows; and how there is a non-arising of abandoned sloth and torpor again in the future – that also he knows.

Having agitation and worry in himself he knows “there is agitation and worry in myself”; or, not having agitation and worry in himself he knows “there is no agitation and worry in myself”. How there is an arising of agitation and worry that has not arisen – that he knows; and how there is an abandonment of agitation and worry that has arisen Comm: these six things lead to the giving up of agitation and worry: learning, questioning, gratitude towards the discipline, association with elders, having spiritual friendship and suitable talk.05 – that also he knows; and how there is a non-arising of abandoned agitation and worry again in the future – that also he knows.

Having doubt in himself he knows “there is doubt Vicikicchā is from the verb vicikicchati. The verb is made from the prefix vi- with the intensive verb cikicchati which is formed from √ cit, meaning, therefore, to think and think; the prefix vi- should be taken in the second sense given in PED: denoting disturbance, seperation, mixing up...: it thus means thinking again and again in a mixed up way. 06 in myself”; or, not having doubt in himself he knows “there is no doubt in myself”. How there is an arising of doubt that has not arisen – that he knows; and how there is an abandonment of doubt that has arisen – that also he knows; and how there is a non-arising of abandoned doubt again in the future – that also he knows.

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Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in things, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in things, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in things, or else mindfulness that “there are these (various) things” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things, in the five hindrances.

The Section about the Hindrances is Finished