DIFFERENT DEGREES OF LOBHA
attachment, leads to sorrow. When we really understand this, we would like to eradicate
lobha. The eradication of lobha, however, cannot be done at once. We may be able to
suppress lobha for a while, but it will appear again when there are the right conditions
for its arising. Even though we know that lobha brings sorrow, it is bound to arise time
and again. However, there is a way to eradicate it: it can be eradicated by the wisdom
which sees things as they are.
When we study cittas more in detail it will help us to
know ourselves. We should know not only the coarse lobha but also the degrees of lobha
which are more subtle. The following sutta gives an example of lobha which is more subtle.
We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (I, Sagatha-vagga IX, Forest Suttas,par.14):
A certain monk was once staying among the Kosalese
in a certain forest-tract. Now while there that monk,
after he had returned
from his alms-round and had
broken his fast, plunged into the lotus-pool and sniffed
up the perfume of a red lotus. Then the deva who
haunted that forest-tract,
moved with compassion for
that monk, desiring his welfare, and wishing to agitate
him, drew near and addressed him in the verse:
'That blossom, water-born, thing not given,
You stand sniffing up the scent of it.
This is one class of things that may be stolen.
And you a smell-thief must I call, dear sir.'
The Monk :
'Nay, nought I bear away, I nothing break.
Standing apart I smell the water's child.
Now for what reason am I smell-thief called?
One who does dig up water-lilies, one
Who feeds on lotuses, in motley tasks
Engaged: Why have you no such name for him?'
The Deva :
'A man of ruthless, wicked character,
Foul-flecked as is a handmaid's dirty cloth:
With such the words I say have no concern.
But this it is meet that I should say (to you):
To him whose character is void of vice,
Who ever makes quest for what is pure:
What to the wicked but a hair-tip seems,
To him does great as a rain-cloud appear....'
We should also know the more subtle lobha which arises
when we enjoy a fragrant smell or beautiful music. It seems that there are no akusala
cittas when we do not harm others, but also the more subtle lobha is akusala; it is
different from generosity which is kusala. We cannot force ourselves not to have lobha,
but we can get to know the characteristic of lobha when it appears.
Not only the suttas, but the Vinaya (Book of Discipline
for the monks) also gives examples of lobha which is more subtle. Each part of the
teachings, the Vinaya, the Suttanta and the Abhidhamma can help us to know ourselves
better. When we read the Vinaya we see that even the monks who lead a life of contentment
with little, still have accumulated conditions for lobha. Every time there was a case
where monks deviated from their purity of life, a rule was laid down in order to help them
to be more watchful. Thus we can understand the usefulness of the rules, which go into
even the smallest details of the monk's behaviour. The rules help the monk to be watchful
even when performing the most common actions of daily life such as eating, drinking,
robing himself and walking. There are rules which forbid seemingly innocent actions like
playing in the water or with water (Pacittiya 53), or teasing other monks. Such actions
are not done with kusala cittas, but with akusala cittas.
We read in the Vinaya ('Suttavibhanga', Pacittiya 85) that
the monks should not enter a village at the wrong time. The reason is that they would
indulge more easily in worldly talk. We read:
Now at that time the group of six monks, having entered a
village at the wrong time, having sat down in a hall, talked a variety of worldly talk,
that is to say: talk of kings, of thieves, of great ministers, of armies, of fears, of
battles, of food, of drink, of clothes, of beds, of garlands, of scents, of relations, of
vehicles, of villages, of little towns, of towns, of the country, of women, of strong
drink, of streets, of wells, of those departed before, of diversity, of speculation about
world, about the sea, on becoming and not becoming thus and thus....
This passage is useful for laypeople as well. We cannot
help talking about worldly matters, but we should know that our talking, even if it seems
innocent, often is motivated by lobha-mula-cittas or by dosa-mula-cittas (cittas rooted in
aversion). In order to know ourselves we should find out by what kind of citta our talking
Every time a lobha-mula-citta arises lobha is accumulated.
When the conditions are there, lobha can motivate ill deeds through body, speech or mind.
When we see to what kind of deeds lobha can lead we shall feel a stronger urge to
Ill deeds are called in Pali: akusala kamma. Kamma is the
cetasika (mental factor arising with the citta) which is 'intention' or 'volition';,
in Pali: cetana. However, the word 'kamma' is also used in a more general sense for the
deeds which are intended by cetana. The term 'kamma-patha' (literally 'course of action')
is used as well in this sense. There are akusala kamma-pathas and kusala kamma-pathas, ill
deeds and good deeds, accomplished through body, speech and mind. As regards akusala
kamma-patha, there are ten akusala kamma-pathas and these are conditioned by lobha, dosa
and moha. Moha, ignorance, accompanies every akusala citta, it is the root of all evil.
Thus, whenever there is akusala kamma-patha, there must be moha. Some akusala kamma-pathas
can sometimes be performed with lobha-mula-citta and sometimes with dosa-mula-citta.
Therefore, when we see someone else committing an ill deed we cannot always be sure which
kind of citta motivates that deed.
The ten akusala kamma-pathas are the following:
Wrong view (ditthi)
Killing, stealing and sexual misbehaviour are three
akusala kamma-pathas accomplished through the body. Lying, slandering, rude speech and
frivolous talk are four akusala kamma-pathas accomplished through speech. Covetousness,
ill-will and wrong view are three akusala kamma-pathas accomplished through the mind. As
regards akusala kamma-patha through the body, killing is done with dosa-mula-citta.
Stealing can sometimes be performed with lobha-mula-citta and sometimes with
dosa-mula-citta. It is done with lobha-mula-citta if one wishes to take what belongs to
someone else in order to enjoy it oneself. It is done with dosa-mula-citta if one wishes
someone else to suffer damage. Sexual misbehaviour is Performed with lobha-mula-citta.
Of the akusala kamma-pathas through speech, lying,
slandering and frivolous talk are performed with lobha-mula-citta if one wishes to obtain
something for oneself, or if one wishes to endear oneself to other people. As regards
lying, we may thing that there is no harm in a so-called 'white lie' or a lie said for
fun. However, all kinds of lies are motivated by akusala cittas. We read in the 'Discourse
on an exhortation to Rahula at Ambalatthika'; (Middle Length Sayings II, no. 61,
Bhikkhu-vagga) that the Buddha spoke to his son Rahula about lying. The Buddha said:
Even so, Rahula, of anyone for whom there is no shame at
intentional lying, of him I say that there is no evil he cannot do. Wherefore, for you,
Rahula, 'I will not speak a lie, even for fun' - - this is how you must train yourself,
Lying can also be done with dosa-mula-citta and this is
the case when one wants to harm someone else.
As regards slandering, we all are inclined to talk about
other. When there is no intention to harm the reputation of others, there is no akusala
kamma-patha. However, when talking about others becomes a habit, there can easily be an
occasion for akusala kamma-patha. This kind of akusala kamma-patha is performed with
lobha-mula-citta if one slanders in order to obtain something for oneself or to please
others. It is performed with dosa-mula-citta if one wants to harm someone else. We will be
less inclined to talk about others or to judge them when we see ourselves and others as
phenomena which arise because of conditions and which do not stay. At the moment we talk
about other people's actions, these phenomena have fallen away already; What they said or
did exists no more.
Rude speech is performed with dosa-mula-citta.
Frivolous talk is talk about idle, senseless things. This
kind of talk can be performed with lobha-mula-citta or by dosa-mula-citta. Frivolous talk
is not always akusala kamma patha. It can be done with by akusala citta which does not
have the intensity of akusala kamma-patha.
As regards akusala kamma-patha through the mind, ill-will,
the intention to hurt or harm someone else is performed with dosa-mula-citta and
covetousness and wrong view are performed with lobha-mula-citta. There is akusala
kamma-patha which is covetousness when one intends to obtain what belongs to someone else
by dishonest means. As regards ditthi (wrong view), there are many kinds of ditthi;
however, three kinds of ditthi are akusala kamma-patha through the mind. One of them is
ahetuka-ditthi, the belief that there is no cause for the existence of beings and no cause
for their purity or corruption.
Another wrong view which is akusala kamma-patha through
the mind is akiriya-ditthi, the belief that there are no good and bad deeds which produce
The third wrong view which is akusala kamma-patha through
the mind is natthika-ditthi or nihilism. Natthika-ditthi is the belief that there is no
result of kamma and that there is no further life after death.
All degrees of lobha, be it coarse or more subtle, bring
sorrow. We are like slaves as long as we are absorbed in and infatuated by the objects
which present themselves through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body-sense and mind. We are not
free if our happiness depends on the situation we are in, and the way others behave
towards us. One moment people may be kind to us, but the next moment they may be
unpleasant. If we attach too much importance to the affection of other, we shall be easily
disturbed in mind, and thus become slaves of our moods and emotions.
We can become more independent and free if we realize that
both we ourselves and other people are only nama and rupa, phenomena arising because of
conditions and falling away again. When others say unpleasant things to us there are
conditions which cause them to speak in that way, and there are conditions which cause us
to hear such words. Other people's behaviour and our reactions to it are conditioned
phenonomena which do not stay. At the moment we are thinking about these phenomena, they
have already fallen away. The development of insight is the way to become less dependent
on the vicissitudes of life. When there is mindfulness of the present moment, we attach
less importance to the way people behave towards us.
Since lobha is rooted so deeply, it can only be eradicated
in different stages. Ditthi has to be eradicated first and then the other kinds of
attachment can be eradicated. The sotapanna (the person who has realized the first stage
of enlightenment) has eradicated ditthi; he has developed the wisdom which realizes that
all phenomena are nama and rupa, not self. Since he has eradicated ditthi, the
lobha-mula-cittas with ditthi do not arise any more. As we have seen, four types of
lobha-mula-citta arise with ditthi (they are ditthigata-sampayutta) and four types arise
without ditthi (they are ditthigata-vippayutta). As for the sotapanna, the four types of
lobha-mula-citta without ditthi still arise; he has not yet eradicated all kinds of
attachment. The sotapanna still has conceit. Conceit can arise with the four types of
lobha-mula-citta which are without ditthi (ditthigata-vippayutta). There may be conceit
when one compares oneself with others, when one, for example, thinks that one has more
wisdom than others. When we consider ourselves better, equal or less in comparison with
others we may find ourselves important and then there is conceit. When we think ourselves
less than someone else it is not necessarily kusala; there may still be a kind of
upholding of ourselves and then there is conceit. Conceit is rooted so deeply that it is
eradicated only when one has become an arahat.
The person who has realized the second stage of
enlightenment, the sakadagami (once-returner), has less lobha than the sotapanna. The
person who realized the third stage of enlightenment, the anagami (never-returner), has no
more clinging to the objects which present themselves through the five senses, but he
still has conceit and he clings to rebirth. The arahat has eradicated lobha completely.
The arahat is completely free since he has eradicated all
defilements. We read in the 'Kindred Sayings' (IV, Salayatanavagga, Kindred Sayings on
Sense, Third Fifty, Ch. IV, par. 136, Not including), that the Buddha said to the monks,
while he was staying among the Sakkas at Devadaha:
Devas and mankind, monks, delight in objects, they are
excited by objects. It is owing to the instability, the coming to an end, the ceasing of
objects, monks, that devas and mankind live woefully. They delight in sounds, scents,
savours, in touch, they delight in mindstates and are excited by them. It is owing to the
instability, the coming to an end, the ceasing of mindstates, monks, that devas and
mankind live woefully.
But the Tathagata, monks, who is Arahat, a
fully-enlightened one, seeing as they really are, both the arising and the destruction,
the satisfaction, the misery and the way of escape from objects, - - he delights not in
objects, takes not pleasure in them, is not excited by them. It is owing to the
instability, the coming to an end, the ceasing of objects that the Tathagata dwells at
1. When the objective is not dana (generosity), sila (morality) or bhavana (mental
development), can talking be done with kusala citta?
2. Which cetasika is kamma?
3. Which are the ten akusala kamma-pathos?
4. Are all kinds of ditthi akusala kamma-patha?
5. Why does attachment always lead to sorrow?
6. Who has eradicated all kinds of lobha?
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