Scriptural

Kevatta Sutta – Part 19

The Ending of Mental Fermentations

“With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations.

“Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta” (DN 11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html .

The above refers to the 4th stage of Jhana

He discerns, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress… These are mental fermentations… This is the origination of fermentations… This is the cessation of fermentations… This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.’

“Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta” (DN 11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html .

As from above, we should understand that the realization of the Truth is not a philosophical knowledge. Just like reading about Jhana is not equivalent to actually experiencing it. Or reading about how an apple taste is not the same as tasting it.

It is important to note that the words in the verse are attempting to describe something that is beyond common experience. For example, the word stress or suffering has different value and meaning to different people. Our understanding deepens as our practices improves.

His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentation of sensuality, the fermentation of becoming, the fermentation of ignorance.

“Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta” (DN 11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html .

The word fermentation is just a description and not meant to be taken literally. It denotes a deluded mind that is clouded, producing samsaric existences and being further ensnared in that delusion of existence.

With release, there is the knowledge, ‘Released.’ He discerns that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’ 

“Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta” (DN 11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html .

If you notice and it is very important to note.

Buddha never said he was visited by all the past Buddha to “verify his enlightenment” nor being empowered. Nor did he talked about floating in the air or becoming one with the Universe. “Or becoming omniscient, or “returning to the source” All this blah blah blah shared by “enlightened” people in recent times are actually considered “Grand Illusion” in Buddhism.

Enlightenment is simply task completed. And that task is as per aforesaid.

For us, it is unfathomable because we never practice correctly. If we practice correctly, ancient masters compared it to purification. Like removing dust from a mirror, we know when the job is done. There is no higher power coming down to reward you an enlightenment. It is not a test to be certified.

Just as if there were a pool of water in a mountain glen — clear, limpid, and unsullied — where a man with good eyesight standing on the bank could see shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also shoals of fish swimming about and resting, and it would occur to him, ‘This pool of water is clear, limpid, and unsullied. Here are these shells, gravel, and pebbles, and also these shoals of fish swimming about and resting.’ In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. He discerns, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress… These are mental fermentations… This is the origination of fermentations… This is the cessation of fermentations… This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.’ His heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, is released from the fermentation of sensuality, the fermentation of becoming, the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there is the knowledge, ‘Released.’ He discerns that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’

“Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta” (DN 11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html .

“This, too, is called the miracle of instruction.

“These are the three miracles that I declare, Kevatta, having directly known and realized them for myself.

Until here, the main part of Kevatta Sutta is completed. We should remember how Buddha prescribed the path of enlightenment.

  1. Supernatural occurrences is not worthy of our Dharma pursuit.
  2. The importance of living in accordance to Dharma and not be ensnared in superstitious and supernatural practices.
  3. The importance of keeping our mind in the optimal state for practice (Avoid the 5 mental hinderances)
  4. Cultivate Jhana (Samadhi in Mahayana Buddhism)
  5. Use Jhana to explore our body and human existence (Vipassana)
  6. Jhana can equip us with supranormal sensory perceptions and abilities. (Past masters had cautioned that practitioners may loose their goal when they indulge in such objectives. Thus it is better to skip to [7])
  7. Use Jhana to realize the Four Noble Truth and stop rebirth.

The various Buddhist schools and traditions are all in accordance to the above. Their outward appearances and practices differ because they are meant to cater to different types of people, each with their own mental habits. However, the essence or recipe for enlightenment remains the same.

  1. Precepts – How we live our life while unenlightened. (Actions, speech and thoughts)
  2. Mind training – Remove the 5 mental hinderances.
  3. Develop mental power – Jhana
  4. Breakthrough delusions

If anyone promise you that enlightenment can be bestowed upon you. Or you just need to subscribe to some membership, or watch a youtube video, then one thing is for sure. That is not the Buddha’s Dharma.

To be continued…..

May all be well and happy.

Categories: Scriptural

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