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Drop of Dhamma Delight!

Friends:

The Supreme Seven Factors of Enlightenment:


In This Very Life: Liberation Teachings of the Buddha by Sayadaw U Pandita.

BECOMING A Noble ONE ... One does not become enlightened by merely gazing into the sky. One does not
become enlightened by reading or studying the scriptures, nor by thinking, nor by wishing for the enlightened
state to burst into one's mind. There are certain necessary prerequisites which cause enlightenment to arise.
In Pali these are known as the bojjhangas, or factors of enlightenment, and there are seven of them.

The word bojjhanga is made up of bodhi, which means enlightenment or an enlightened person, and anga, step
or causal factor. Thus a bojjhanga is a causal factor of an enlightened being, or a cause for enlightenment.
A second sense of the word bojjhanga is based on alternative meanings of its two Pali roots. The alternative
meaning of bodhi is the knowledge that comprehends or sees the Four Noble Truths: the truth of universal
suffering or unsatisfactoriness; the truth that desire is the cause of this suffering and dissatisfaction;
the truth that there can be an end to this suffering; and the truth of the path to the end of this suffering,
or the Noble Eightfold Path. The second meaning of anga is part or portion. Thus, the second meaning of the
7 bojjhangas is the specific part of knowledge that sees the Four Noble Truths.

All vipassanā yogis come to understand the Four Noble Truths to some extent, but true comprehension of them
requires a particular, transforming moment of consciousness, known as path consciousness. This is one of the
culminating insights of
vipassanā practice. It includes the experience of Nibbāna. Once a yogi has experienced
this, he or she deeply knows the Four Noble Truths, and thus is considered to contain the bojjhangas inside him
or herself. Such a person is called Noble. Thus, the bojjhangas or enlightenment factors also are parts or qualities
of a Noble person. Sometimes they are known as the sambojjhangas, the prefix sam- meaning full, complete, correct,
perfect, or true. The prefix is an honorific and enhancing intensifier, and adds no difference in essential meaning.

These seven factors of enlightenment, or seven qualities of a Noble person, are: awareness, investigation,
enthusiasm, joy, calm, concentration and equanimity. In Pali, the list would be sati, dhamma vic
aya, viriya, pīti,
passāddhi, samādhi,
and upekkhā. These seven can be found in all phases of vipassanā practice. But if we take
as a model the progressive stages of insight, we can say that the seven enlightenment factors begin to be very
clear at the stage of insight where a yogi begins to see the arising and passing away of phenomena.

How can one develop these factors in himself or herself? By means of satipatthāna meditation. The Buddha said:
"Oh Bhikkhus, if the four foundations of awareness are practiced persistently and repeatedly, the seven types of
bojjhangas
will be automatically and fully developed."

Practicing the four foundations of awareness does not mean studying them, thinking of them, listening to discourses
about them, nor discussing them. What we must do is be directly and experientially aware of the four foundations of
awareness, the four frames of reference on which awareness can be anchored and established. The
Satipatthāna
Sutta
names them: first, the experience of the body; second, feeling; the painful, pleasant or neutral quality inherent
in each experience; third, the mind, mood & thought; and 4th, all other phenomena merely as objects of consciousness..
The Buddha said, furthermore, that one should practice this awareness not only occasionally, but rather persistently
and repeatedly. This is exactly what we try to do in vipassanā meditation. The tradition of
vipassanā meditation taught
and developed by Mahasi Sayadaw is oriented toward developing fully the 7 factors of enlightenment, and eventually
experiencing Noble path consciousness, in accordance with the Buddha's instructions.

AWARENESS: THE FIRST ENLIGHTENMENT FACTOR
Sati, awareness, is the 1st factor of enlightenment. "Awareness" has come to be the accepted translation of sati into
English. However, this word has a
misleading passive connotation. "Awareness" must be dynamic and confrontative.
In retreats, I teach that awareness should leap forward onto the object, covering it completely, penetrating into it,
not missing any part of it. To convey this active sense, I often prefer to use the words "observing power" to translate sati,
rather than the more superficial "mindfulness of the present" However, for the sake of ease and simplicity, I will simply
use the word "awareness" in this volume, but I would like my readers to remember the dynamic qualities it should possess.

Awareness can be well understood by examining its three aspects of characteristic, function and manifestation.
These 3 aspects are traditional categories used in the Abhidhamma, the Buddhist description of consciousness,
to describe factors of mind. We will use them here to study each of the enlightenment factors in turn.

Non-superficiality
The characteristic of awareness is non-superficiality. This suggests that awareness is penetrative and profound.
If we throw a cork into a stream, it simply bobs up and down on the surface, floating downstream with the current.
If we throw a stone instead, it will immediately sink to the very bottom bed of the stream. So, too, awareness ensures
that the mind will sink deeply into the object and not slip superficially past it.

Say you are watching your notrils or the abdomen as the object of your satipatthāna practice. You try to be very firm,
focusing your attention so that the mind will not slip off, but rather will sink deeply into the processes of rising & falling.
As the mind penetrates these processes, you can comprehend the true natures of tension, pressure, movement and so on.

Keeping the Object in View

The function of awareness is to keep the object always in view, neither forgetting it, nor allowing it to disappear.
When awareness is present, the occurring object will be noted without forgetfulness.

In order for non-superficiality and non-disappearance, the characteristic and function of awareness, to appear dearly in
our practice, we must try to understand and practice the third aspect of awareness. This is the manifestation aspect,
which develops and brings along the other two. The chief manifestation of awareness is confrontation: it sets the mind
directly face to face with the object.



Face to Face with the Object
It is as if you are walking along a road and you meet a traveller, face to face, coming from the opposite
direction. When you are meditating, the mind should meet the object in just this way. Only through direct
confrontation with an object can true awareness arise.

They say that the human face is the index of character. If you want to size up a person, you look at his or
her face very carefully and then you can make a preliminary judgement. If you do not examine the face
carefully and instead become distracted by other parts of the body, then your judgement will be inaccurate.

In meditation you must apply a similar, if not sharper, degree of care in looking at the object of observation.
Only if you look meticulously at the object can you understand its true nature. When you look at a face for
the first time, you get a quick, overall view of it. If you look more carefully, you will pick up details say,
of the eyebrows, eyes and lips. First you must look at the face as a whole, and only later details become clear.

Similarly, when you are observing the nostrils the rising and falling of your abdomen, you begin by taking an
overall view of these processes. First you bring your mind face to face with the rising and falling. After
repeated successes you will find yourself able to look closer. Details will appear to you enthusiastically,
as if by themselves. You will notice different sensations in the rise and fall, such as tension, pressure, heat,
coolness, or movement.

As a yogi repeatedly comes face to face with the object, his or her enthusiasms begin to bear fruit.
Awareness is activated and becomes firmly established on the object of observation. There are no misses.
The objects do not fall away from view. They neither slip away nor disappear, nor are they absent-mindedly
forgotten. The mental defilements - kilesas cannot infiltrate this strong barrier of awareness. If awareness
can be maintained for a significant period of time, the yogi can discover a great purity of mind because of
the absence of kilesas . This protection from attack by the kilesas is a second aspect of the manifestation of
awareness. When awareness is persistently and repeatedly activated, understanding arises. There will be insight
into the true nature of body and mind. Not only does the yogi realize the true experiential sensations of the
rise and fall, but she or he also comprehends the individual characteristics of the various physical and mental
phenomena happening inside herself or himself.

Seeing the Four Noble Truths
The yogi may see directly that all physical and mental phenomena share the characteristic of suffering.
When this happens we say that the First Noble Truth is seen. When the First Noble Truth has been seen,
the remaining three are also seen. Thus it is said in the texts, and we can observe the same in our own
experience. Because there is awareness at the moment of occurrence of mental and physical phenomena,
no craving arises. With this abandoning of craving, the 2nd Noble Truth is seen. Craving causes suffering,
and when craving is absent, suffering, too, disappears. Seeing the Third Noble Truth, the end of suffering,
is fulfilled when ignorance and the other kilesas fall away and cease. All this occurs on a provisional or
moment-to-moment basis when awareness and understanding are present. Seeing the Fourth Noble Truth refers
to the development of the Eightfold Path factors. This development occurs simultaneously within each
moment of awareness.

Therefore, on one level, we can say that the Four Noble Truths are seen by the yogi at any time
when awareness and understanding are present. This brings us back to the two definitions of bojjhanga
given above: Awareness is part of the consciousness that contains insight into the true nature of reality;
it is a part of enlightenment knowledge. It is present in the mind of one who knows the Four Noble Truths.
It always stand by - as if a lamp - and observes: Thus, it is called a factor of enlightenment, a bojjhanga.

Awareness is the Cause of Awareness
The first cause of awareness is nothing more than awareness itself. Naturally, there is a difference
between the weak awareness that characterises one's early meditative enthusiasms and the awareness
at higher levels of practice, which becomes strong enough to cause enlightenment to occur. In fact,
the development of awareness is a simple momentum, one moment of awareness causing the next.

Four More Ways to Develop Awareness
Commentators identify four additional factors which help develop and strengthen awareness
until it is worthy of the title bojjhanga.

1. Awareness and Clear Comprehension - Sati-sampajañña
The first is sati-sampajañña, usually translated as "awareness and clear comprehension." In this term,
sati is the awareness activated during formal sitting, watching the primary object as well as others.
S
ampajañña, clear comprehension, refers to awareness on a broader basis: awareness of walking,
stretching, bending, turning around, looking to one side, and all other activities in any ordinary life.

2. Avoiding Unmindful, Scattered, Distracted, & Stressed up People:
Dissociation from persons who are not mindful is the second way of developing awareness as an
enlightenment factor. If you are doing your best to be mindful, and you run across an unmindful
person who corners you into some long-winded argument, you can imagine how quickly your own
awareness will vanish.

3. Carefully Choosing Mindful fully Aware Friends:
The third way to cultivate awareness to associate with mindful persons. Such people can serve as
strong sources of inspiration. By spending time with them, in an environment where awareness is valued,
you can grow and deepen your own awareness by emulating these calmed and clear-eyed seers.

4. Inclining the Mind Toward Awareness
The fourth method is to incline the mind toward activating awareness. This means deliberately making
awareness as a top priority, alerting the mind to return to it in every situation. This approach is very
important; it creates a sense of urgent unforgetfulness, of non-absentmindedness. You try as much as
possible to refrain from those activities that do not particularly lead to the deepening of awareness.
Of these banal distractions there is a humongously wide varied selection, as you probably already know.

As a yogi only one task is required of you, and that is to be aware of whatever is happening in the present
moment. In an intensive retreat, this means you set aside social relationships, writing and reading, even reading
scriptures. You take special care when eating not to fall into habitual patterns. You always consider whether
the times, places, amounts and kinds of food you eat really are essential or not. If they are not, you avoid
repeating this unnecessary behavioural pattern.

On Establishing Awareness (Satipatthāna) on the 4 frames of reference:
Awareness (Sati): What is Right Awareness?, Four_Foundations_of_Awareness,
Awareness_Sati,
Causes of Sati, Sati Studies, Sati_in_Solitude, Noble_Awareness,
Awareness_Analysis, Clear Comprehension, Feeding_Awareness, One_and_only_Way,
Accumulation_of_Advantage, 4 Foundations of Awareness, Sati_a_la_Anuruddha,
Accumulating_Advantage, Awareness, Careful_and_Rational_Attention,
Enlightened_and_Awakening,
Causes_of_Emergence, First_Disillusion_then_Delight,
Clear_and_Aware_Comprehension, Crucial_Foundation,
Desireless_is_Deathless,
Determining_Duration, Final_Knowledge, Sati_Summary, Right_On, Straight_View,
Sharing_Supreme, Evading_the_Present, The_Awareness_Ability, The_Four_Postures,
Phenomena_is_Mental_States,
1_Producing_4, Mighty_Magic_Majesty, Sati_Acute,
Seeing_the_PossibleClever_Presence,
Thousand_Aeons, Winning_Awareness,
Aware_and_Composed, Aware_and_Settled

In This Very Life..


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