The Way to wellbeing
by Bhante Debongshi
There are many ways to create happiness and wellbeing. The best way to create inner-wellbeing is to enhance self-consciousness and to diminish Avijja by turning inward. In the quest for cosmic knowledge, people seek wellbeing in the external world. However, true wellness and intelligence lies within; therefore, the inner-world remains unknown and exotic. In the Avijjasutta, the Buddha pointed out that “there is one single thing that is “a-vijja”, with whose ending the entire mass of misery can be ended and the knowledge of inner-wellbeing can be perfected.”
What is “avijja”?
The prefix “a” refers to “no or not”, and vijja refers to self-consciousness or insight. Thus, avijja literally means the lack of self-consciousness, in other words, “ignorance” in terms of the mental darkness.
In general, there is a constant longing, which is caused by an intense desire to live a glorified life. Because of this longing, one loses the ability to enhance the inner-wellbeing. It is impossible for one to have the insight of liberation when the mind is full of darkness, which is caused by a-vijja. This is not an ethical or moral issue of good or bad, right or wrong; it is simply a fact that has immense possibility, since it is the beginning of higher realization.
How does one know that a-vijja is ended and that the knowledge of inner-wellbeing has arisen? Suppose that one has heard the truth about the worthlessness of longing for worldly things but does not agree with what he has heard. As a result, he focuses on reasons instead of blind conditioning. However, upon careful examination, he sees clearly with insight. It therefore becomes clear to him that everything has its unique way of being. By engaging reason, he gains direct knowledge and knows from experience what has been heard.
“In the meditation technique called indriya bhavana (meditation on the faculties), the meditator examines and explores the faculties. He looks at one of the faculties, the eye, eye-contact and eye-consciousness as different entities, which are separated from each other. Based on eye contact, there appear to be objects that cause pleasure, pain and neither pleasure nor pain. He sees them as separate entity as well. Likewise, the meditator perceives the other sense faculties, including the intellect, and their role. With an attentive mind, he notices that the darkness of ignorance is gradually disappearing with the arising of self-consciousness and clarity of insight (ñanadassana-visuddhi). Then he goes above and beyond the fields of the sense faculties (that is, the psycho-physical level) and enters a transcendental state. In this state, he experiences akasa-viññana (the infinity of cosmic consciousness).” In this process, the meditator does not differentiate between the feelings of pain and pleasure; rather, he sees feelings as feelings and knows that there is a deep craving for feelings. Realizing it’s lack of benefit, he naturally gives up the intensity of longing for feelings and thus releases the mind.
The meditator notices that with pleasant feelings, there is an intense longing or desire (lobha) for pleasure; however, he makes a conscious choice to give up the rudimentary desire for pleasurable feelings and thereby releases the mind. On the other hand, there is an intensity of longing for hatred or aversion (dosa) toward painful feelings. Therefore, he makes a conscious choice to give up the intense longing for hatred toward these feelings. Similarly, in the case of neutral feelings, there is a deep intensity of longing for ignorance (moha) toward negligence or idleness. Again, he makes a conscious choice to give up the intensity of longing for ignorance toward idleness.
Once the intensity of longing for desire toward pleasant feelings, the intensity of longing for hatred or resentment toward painful feelings and the intensity of longing for ignorance toward idleness have been removed by right-effort, these unconstructed mental states disappear from the mind of the meditator. His mind is released from these short-sighted reactions and conditions through insight, and the chains of future becoming are removed. In this way, he brings an end to misery and suffering, and he creates a long-lasting inner-wellbeing in this very life and in the next.