Defilements can be
classified in many different ways and each classification reminds us of
the danger of akusala. There is another group of defilements which is again
completely different, namely the group of the latent tendencies or anusayas.
In the Dhammasangani the latent tendencies have not been classified
as a group. Only lobha as "latent bias", anusaya, has been specifically
mentioned among the many aspects of lobha (1059). The Atthasalini
(II, Part II, Chapter II, 366) comments: "As latent bias greed lies chronically
in us as a strong (tendency) ". There is not only the latent tendency of
lobha, there are seven. akusala dhammas which can be classified as latent
tendencies and these lie dormant in us as strong leanings. We read in the
of Analysis (Vibhanga, Chapter 17, 949) that there are seven anusayas
(1 See also Visuddhimagga XXII, 60, and Yamaka, the sixth
Book of the Abhidhamma, Part VII (translation: Guide through the Abhidhamma
Pitaka, Ven. Nyanatiloka, BPS. Kandy 1971).):
tendency of lust for sense pleasure (kamaraganusaya)
The classification of
akusala dhammas by way of latent tendencies reminds us of their stubbornness,
their pertinaciousness. The latent tendencies are like microbes investing
the body. They are latent but they may become active at any moment, when
conditions are favourable (2 Ven. Nyanaponika, Abhidhamma Studies
V, The Problem of Time, 3, the Concept of the Present in the Abhidhamma.
BPS. Kandy, 1976.). Latent tendencies are hard to get rid of.
the latent tendency
of aversion (patighanusaya)
the latent tendency
of conceit (mananusaya)
the latent tendency
of wrong view (ditthanusaya)
the latent tendency
of doubt (vicikicchanusaya)
the latent tendency
of lust for becoming (bhava-raganusaya)
the latent tendency
of ignorance (avijjanusaya)
We read in the Visuddhimagga (XXII, 60) about the stubbornness of
the latent tendencies:
... For it
is owing to their inveteracy that they are called inherent tendencies (anusaya)
since they inhere (anusenti) as cause for the arising of greed for sense
desires, etc., again and again.
The latent tendencies
are "inveterate", that is, they are firmly established, for a long time,
obstinate, hard to eradicate.
One may wonder why not all akusala dhammas have been classified as latent
tendencies. Have we not accumulated all akusala dhammas from life to life?
We should note that the seven akusala dhammas which have been classified
as latent tendencies are particularly obstinate and condition the arising
of the other defilements.
So long as latent tendencies have not been eradicated, defilements arise
again and again. For example, when someone is reborn in one of the brahma-planes,
there are no conditions for aversion in that plane. However, so long as
the latent tendency of aversion has not been eradicated, aversion is bound
to arise again when that person is reborn in one of the sensuous planes,
after his lifespan in the brahma-plane has been terminated.
Latent tendencies are eradicated at different stages of Enlightenment (1
II, Book I, Part VIII, Chapter 1, 235-236). The magga-citta of the sotapanna
eradicates the latent tendency of wrong view and of doubt and thus these
akusala dhammas can never arise again. The magga-citta of the sakadagami
does not completely eradicate any of the other latent tendencies, but,
it "severs the gross latent bias of sense-desires and the gross latent
bias of aversion", as the Atthasalini (2 Ibidem.) states.
As we have seen, there are many degrees of defilements, they can be gross
or more subtle. The sakadagami still has the latent tendencies of sensuous
desire and aversion, but they have become attenuated. Therefore, in comparison
with the sotapanna these latent tendencies are less gross, they are more
subtle. The group of latent tendencies as a whole can be called subtle
defilements. They are subtle in so far as they are latent; they are subtle
in comparison with akusala citta rooted in lobha, dosa or moha, which appears,
and which can be called "medium defilement' and with akusala citta which
has the intensity to motivate evil deeds through body, speech or mind,
which can be called "gross defilement". However, the term subtle should
not mislead us. The latent tendencies are dangerous, pertinacious, they
are hard to eradicate. They condition the arising of akusala dhammas again
The magga-citta of the anagami eradicates completely the latent tendencies
of sense-desire and aversion, these can never arise again. However, he
has not eradicated all forms of clinging, he still has the latent tendency
of lust for becoming, rebirth which is the result of jhana. The magga-citta
of the arahat eradicates the latent tendencies of lust for becoming, of
conceit and of ignorance. When there is no more "soil" for defilements
to grow in, the round of becoming comes to an end.
The Fetters or Samyojanas are another group of akusala dhammas.
The samyojanas "fetter" khandhas (in this life) to khandhas (of the next),
or kamma to its fruit (1 So long as there is the performing of kamma there
will be vipaka and thus life goes on.), or beings to suffering... (Visuddhimagga
XXII, 48). Through the fetters we are tied to the cycle of birth and death
(2 Atthasalini (I, Book 1, Part 1, Chapter II, 48).). In the Dhammasangani
(1113) we find the following classification of ten fetters (3 The Book
of Analysis, Vibhanga, Chapter 17, 969, has the same classification.)
In the classifications
of the fetters as given above, ditthi has been classified under two aspects:
wrong view and wrong practice (clinging to rules and rituals). When there
is no right practice, the wrong view of self and other defilements cannot
be eradicated and thus we are fettered to the cycle of birth and death.
When there is no mindfulness of one reality at a time, the nama or rupa
appearing now, there is no right practice, one does not develop the eightfold
Path. So long as one has not become a sotapanna there may be wrong practice.
wrong view (ditthi)
clinging to rules
and rituals (silabbata-baramasa)
clinging to rebirth
Envy and stinginess are akusala dhammas which have only been classified
by way of fetters but not in the other groups of defilements. we should
find out whether there is envy when someone else receives a token of honour
we did not receive. Attachment to self conditions coarse akusala such as
jealousy. The sotapanna who has eradicated the wrong view of self has also
eradicated jealousy as well as stinginess. If we develop understanding
of nama and rupa in daily life, we may begin to see that life is actually
one moment of experiencing an object. Sometimes the object is pleasant,
sometimes it is unpleasant, this depends entirely on conditions. The experience
of pleasant objects and unpleasant objects is conditioned by kamma, by
deeds which have been done. If we see life as different phenomena which
each arise because of their own conditions, there will be less opportunity
for jealousy. When we see how we at times can be overpowered by jealousy
and other akusala dhammas we can be reminded to develop right understanding
of nama and rupa in order to eradicate akusala.
There is another way of classifying fetters and this shows us again that
classifications are not rigid. We find for example in the Book of Analysis
(Chapter 17, 940) (1 See also Visuddhimagga XXII, 48. the same way
of classification also occurs in the suttas, for example in
the Dialogues of the Buddha III, no. 33, 234.) the following classification
of the fetters which makes a distinction between "lower fetters" and "higher
fetters". There are five lower fetters (orambhagiya-samyojana) which tie
beings to the sensuous planes and five higher fetters (uddhambhagiya-samyojana)
which tie beings to the higher planes, the rupa-brahma planes and the arupa-brahma
The lower fetters are:
In this classification
wrong view has been classified as twofold: under the aspect of personality
belief and wrong practice. Clinging has been classified as threefold: as
sensuous desire, as clinging to rebirth which is the result of rupa-jhana
and as clinging to rebirth which is the result of arupa-jhana. Envy and
stinginess do not occur in this classification.
clinging to rules
and rituals (silabbata-paramasa)
sensuous desire (kama-raga)
The higher fetters
lust for rebirth in
rupa-brahma planes (rupa-raga)
lust for rebirth in
arupa-brahma planes (arupa-raga)
The magga-citta of the sotapanna eradicates the three lower fetters of
personality belief, clinging to rules and rituals (wrong practice) and
doubt. He has not eradicated sensuous desire and ill-will, but for him
these are not as gross as in the case of the non-ariyan; they cannot lead
to an unhappy rebirth.
The magga-citta of the sakadagami does not eradicate the fetters of sensuous
desire and ill-will, but they have become attenuated. Panna has to be developed
to a high degree in order that desire and ill-will can be eradicated. The
anagami eradicates both these fetters. He is no longer tied by the lower
fetters, but he is still tied by the higher fetters. This shows how hard
it is to eradicate these fetters. Only the magga-citta of the arahat can
eradicate them. The arahat does not cling at all, he does not cling to
the result of jhana, he does not cling to rebirth in any plane of existence.
He has no more conceit, restlessness and ignorance, he has eradicated all
akusala dhammas. He has no akusala citta nor kusala citta, instead he has
kiriyacitta which does not produce any result. The arahat is truly a perfected
one, his task has been fulfilled. He is no longer fettered to the cycle
of birth and death.
Another group of akusala dhammas are the defilements, kilesas. They are
dirty, unclean, impure; they defile or torment the mind. The following
ten akusala dhammas have been classified as defilements ( Dhammasangani,
1229) (1 See also the Book of Analysis, Vibhanga, Chapter
17, 966.) :
We can use the word defilement
or kilesa in a wider sense and then we mean all akusala dhammas. But when
defilements are classified as a particular group only the above mentioned
akusala dhammas are meant. Torpor (middha), stinginess (macchariya), regret
(kukkucca) and envy (issa) have not been classified in this group. The
(XXII, 49) states about defilements: "They are so called because they are
themselves defiled and they defile the states associated with them."
wrong view (ditthi)
Shamelessness and recklessness which have not been classified in one of
the other groups are classified among the defilements. Shamelessness has
no shame of akusala and recklessness does not fear its consequences. They
arise with each akusala citta, they defile citta and the accompanying cetasikas.
There are many degrees of shamelessness and recklessness. Some people are
ashamed of gross defilements and they fear their consequences, but they
are not ashamed of akusala citta which is not of the intensity to motivate
unwholesome deeds. For example, when we are at this moment forgetful of
realities such as seeing or hearing it is evident that we have no shame
of neglectfulness with regard to the development of right understanding.
Defilements are eradicated at the different stages of enlightenment. The
magga-citta of the sotapanna eradicates wrong view and doubt. The magga-citta
of the anagami eradicates hate. The anagami does not cling to sensuous
objects but he may still cling to rebirth which is the result of jhana.
Since this kind of clinging is, in this group of akusala dhammas, included
in the defilement of greed, lobha, he has not eradicated this defilement.
The magga-citta of the arahat eradicates the defilements of greed, ignorance,
conceit, sloth, restlessness, shamelessness and recklessness. The arahat
is free from all defilements.
Summarizing the different groups of akusala dhammas, they are:
Attachment, lobha, occurs
in all of these groups and wrong view, ditthi, in all groups except the
group of the hindrances. This reminds us of our entanglement by lobha and
ditthi. Lobha and ditthi occur sometimes within one group more than once,
under different aspects. We should know what the object of lobha is in
each classification, because sometimes lobha stands for sensuous clinging
and sometimes clinging to the result of jhana has been included as well.
ways of clinging,
Each of these groups can remind us of the dangers of akusala dhamma. For
example, the classification by way of knots (ganthas) or of fetters (samyojanas)
can remind us of the danger of being tied or chained to the cycle of birth
and death. We are overcome by the cankers and by the floods, we are chained
and fettered, but we may not realize it. The classification by ways of
clinging (upadanas) shows us how we are in the grip of clinging to objects
Which are experienced through the senses and of clinging to the self. We
forget that attachment cannot lead to happiness, that it leads to sorrow.
In the Kindred Sayings (II, Niddana-vagga, Chapter XVII, Kindred
Sayings on Gain and Favours) we read in forty three suttas that the Buddha
reminded the monks of the danger of attachment to gains, favours and flattery.
We read for example in the first sutta of this section ($I, Dire) that
the Buddha said to the monks:
are gains, favours and flattery, a bitter, harsh obstacle in the way of
arriving at uttermost safety.
monks, thus should you train yourselves:-
"When gains, favour and flattery come to us, we will put them aside, nor
when they come shall they take lasting hold on our hearts."
Why did the Buddha stress
so repeatedly the danger of attachment to gains, favours and flattery?
Because our happiness seems to depend entirely on the getting of the pleasant
" worldly conditions". Don't they play an all-important role in our life?
We want to be treated well by others, we consider ourselves very important
and we forget that gain, loss, honour and dishonour are dependant on conditions,
that they are beyond control. We cannot exert control over what will happen
new: gain or loss, honour or dishonour. The Buddha explained that desire
is the root of sorrow, but we may not fully understand this truth. Only
right understanding which has been developed can see the truth of the Buddha's
Precise understanding of all the different phenomena of our life has to
be developed. We usually pay attention only to pleasant or unpleasant sense
objects, and we tend to overlook realities such as seeing or hearing. We
should remember that when we experience praise or blame there are many
different types of cittas. The cittas which see or hear pleasant or unpleasant
objects are Vipakacittas, conditioned by kamma which was committed already,
and we cannot prevent them from arising. The moment of vipakacitta such
as hearing which merely experiences sound is different from akusala citta
which may arise shortly afterwards and which experiences sound in an unwholesome
way, for example with attachment or aversion. Then there are other processes
of atlas, cittas which may think in an unwholesome way about concepts.
We may, for example, think for a long time about the wrongs other people
committed towards us. If one is ignorant of vipaka one will be inclined
to continually blame others for unpleasant objects which are received through
the senses. We should know vipakacittas such as seeing and hearing as well
as the other types of cittas. When we realize how ignorant we still are
we will be reminded to go on developing right understanding. Through right
understanding we will gradually learn to attach less importance to "self",
and as a consequence we will be inclined to think more of other people's
happiness instead of our own happiness.
In the Kindred Sayings (V, Maha-vagga, Kindred Sayings on the Way,
Book I, Chapter VIII) we read about groups of akusala dhammas and their
eradication. We read, for example, about the floods:
are four floods. What four? The flood of sensual desire. the flood of becoming,
the flood of dew, the flood of nescience. These are the four. It is fir
the full comprehension, realization, wearing down and abandoning of these
four floods that the ariyan eightfold way must be cultivated.
We read the same about
other groups of defilements, such as the yokes, knots, latent tendencies,
hindrances, the lower fetters and the higher fetters. We read at the end
of this section, after the summing up of the higher fetters:
…it is for
the full comprehension, the realization, wearing down and abandoning of
these five fetters of the higher sort that the ariyan eightfold way must
Before there can be abandoning
of akusala dhammas, there must
... And how does o
monk cultivate the ariyan eightfold way? Herein o monk cultivates right
dew, right thinking. right speech. right action, right livelihood, right
effort. right mindfulness, right concentration, that ends in the restraint
of lust, of hatred, of illusion; that plunges into the deathless, that
has the deathless for its goal, that ends in the deathless: that flows
to nibbana, that slides to nibbana. that tends to nibbana.
It is for the full comprehension, for the realization, for the wearing
out and abandoning of these five fetters of the higher sort, monks, that
this ariyan eightfold way must be cultivated.
be right understanding
of all namas and rupas of our daily life.