Buddhist Philosophy
based on the
Rice-Seedling Sutra

(Salistamba Sutra)

Topga Rinpoche

Twelve Links of Dependent Arising

[This section is in process.]


[page in process]

[page 45 of pdf]

Today the different mental events will be explained.

In terms of this there are five categories with different mental events. The first category is called minds various patterns. The second is called minds virtuous patterns. The third is called minds various obscuring patterns that produce suffering. The fourth is called minds non-virtuous patterns and the fifth is called minds lesser obscuring patterns.

There are different presentations of different mental patterns. One according to the Abhidharmakosha, which will be explained today and one according to the Abhidharmasamuccaya.

The first of the five categories, mind's various patters, involves ten mental patterns the are present in any perceptual situation: sensation, directionality of mind, to know by association, purpose or aspiration, contact, intelligence, capacity to maintain focus, to hold the mind to what has become its reference, interest, concentration.

1. Sensation or feeling is defined as the process of experiencing. It is classified as painful, pleasurable or neutral.

2. Directionality of mind is a mental activity that induces its mind to turn its attention towards its object.

3. To know by association is defined as knowing by way of taking up the defining characteristics of the object at hand and distinguishing these.

4. Purpose means to have interest in something. This mental event is the basis for making efforts.

5. Contact is the contact between an object of perception, the sense faculty and the perceiving mind. It is the basis for sensation.

6. Intelligence is defined as intelligence in the sense of having insight, the capacity to discern. Its function is to dispel doubts and hesitation.

7. The capacity to maintain focus is that what one knows does not slip away from ones mind. Its function is to prevent distraction.

8. To hold the mind towards what has become its reference is a mental event which has the function to hold the mind to what has become its referent. It is similar to the previous one, however, here the particular function is to focus on a specific object.

9. Interest relates to strong interest in terms of a specific object or the teachings of the Dharma.

10. Concentration means one-pointedness of mind., to maintain concentration of whatever object of perception is at hand.

These are the ten mental patterns that are present in any perceptual situation, whether the situation is based on E.g., desire or anything else.

As was said, all of them are present in any situation, however, one of them may be predominant in a certain perceptual situation, yet, the remaining nine ones are also present.

Secondly the mind's various virtuous patterns.

There are ten different virtuous patterns: confidence or trust, concern, thorough refinement through training, equanimity or a balanced state, modesty or decency, decorum, non-grasping or non clinging, non-hatred, no intention to harm and sustained effort.

1. There are different kinds of confidence or trust. The kind one may refer to as perceptive, the one may refer to as trusting and the one may refer to as longing. However, we will not go through the details of the different types of confidence. In general, confidence is a mental event involving trust or believe.

2. Concern means concern for cultivating virtuous attitudes, virtuous kinds of behaviour a.s.o. It induces the capacity to discern between what is to be adopted and what is to be rejected and concern for doing what is right and rejecting what is wrong

3. Thorough refinement through training is a process of refining both mind and body to the extent where obstacles or hindrances for developing concentration or samadhi are removed. The two main hindrances are states of agitation or states of laxity or slackness. Both states are counteracted by refinement through training. Therefore it functions as the basis for concentration.

4. Equanimity is a balanced state. Its function is not to provide occasions for emotional and other instabilities.

5. Modesty or decency is to refrain from what is objectionable, that is to say non-virtue by having made oneself the norm.

6. Decorum is a sense of propriety. It is to avoid negative actions, having made others the norm. The function is the same as the function of the previous mental event, modesty or decency.

7.+8. Non-grasping and non-hatred are the two roots of virtue. Non-grasping means that one doesn't cling to or hanker after sensual pleasure. Non-hatred means that one does not have hatred towards anyone.

The Abhidharmakosha does not mention bewilderment bewilderment as a separate mental event. It says that lack of bewilderment is synonymous with insight. Thus, there is no need to speak of it separately from insight.

9. No intention to harm has the function of conquering or doing away with hatred.

10. Sustained effort is based on having inspiration to practise that which is positive or virtuous. It is joyous effort and that effort becomes sustained, because there is inspiration.

These virtuous patterns in terms of an ordinary individual are to be cultivated one by one. If one looks at an individual on any of the bhumis, these events arise simultaneously. E.g.,, if there is no grasping, there will also not be any hatred a.s.o.. However, for an ordinary individual it is necessary to train progressively.

The mind of an individual who is on the first bhumi is always virtuous. It is not the case that at times he has a virtuous attitude and at other times he has not.

The third category gives a list of mind's various obscuring patterns. These are: delusion, lack of concern, laziness, lack of trust, gloominess and agitation or excitement.

1. Delusion is the force of all obscuring states of mind. It is defined as an unclear state of not knowing.

2. Lack of concern is the opposite of concern means that there is no concern for cultivating virtue. It is an unfavourable condition in terms of cultivating the virtuous mental event called concern.

3. Laziness has no inspiration whatsoever. It work against sustained effort.

4. Lack of trust means that there is no confidence.

5. Gloominess is a dense state of mind characterised by laxity or slackness. It is defined as a subjective tendency in which both physical and mental heaviness and sluggishment dominate. It prevents refinement through training.

6. Agitation or excitement obstructs quietness. It is a restless state of mind where the individual jumps from one thing to the other. The previous one, gloominess, and this one, agitation or excitement, both obstruct the development of concentration.

These different obscuring patterns are stronger in an ordinary individual than in an individual who is in the process of going through the different paths or bhumis. In terms of giving them up, one applies a remedy and works with them so that they are gradually removed.

The category of mind's various lesser mental events are: anger, resentment, dishonesty, jealousy, spite, slyness, avarice, deceit, self centeredness and malice.

1. Anger is a perturbed state of mind with the intention to harm.

2. Resentment is one aspect of anger. It is the continual intention to harm, to retaliate.

3. Dishonesty is the intent to conceal one faults or shortcomings. As a result one is unable to remove ones faults, unable to give up ones shortcomings, which in turn results in that one is not able to practise the right path.

4. Jealousy is associated with all the three main mental poisons, passion, aggression and ignorance. It is an extremely negative mental pattern where the individual cannot bear seeing that others have good qualities or wealth E.g.,. It is an attitude which cannot bear seeing the excellence of others.

It is an attitude where the individual fails to accept the good qualities of others, fails to accept the virtue of others a.s.o.

6. Spite combines both anger and resentment. This is a very strong mental pattern, which takes over, consumes the individual.

7. Slyness is when the individual is concealing his faults. It is associated with wanting and dense states of mind. It prevents the individual from practising virtue, because in order to be able to practise virtue you must give up your faults. If you conceal your faults, you won't be able to develop or practise virtue. It prevents the individual from regretting faults.

8. Avarice is being what in simple words is called tight-fisted, which is to say that one wants to hold on to possessions a.s.o. One is unable to be content with what one has. In terms of the different parts of the Eightfold Noble Path, there is mention of right livelihood, right speech, right action a.s.o. Avarice prevents practise of these.

9. Deceit makes one hypocritical, make one pretend what one is not. It is what so to speak encourages wrong livelihood, wrong speech a.s.o.

9. Self-centeredness is based in desire and is a mental pattern where the individual delights in his own qualities and regards others as inferior, looks down on others.

10. Malice is based in anger: It is a lack of kindness, which makes one abuse others, harm others.

The next category is called mind's various non-virtuous patterns. There are two, shamelessness or arrogance and lack of propriety.

1. According to the Abhidharmakosha, shamelessness or arrogance prevents one from perceiving the qualities of others. There is no respect for the good qualities of others.

A was said, it is the inability to respect the good qualities of others. The individual fails to recognise the good qualities of others. Failing to recognise the good qualities, the individual will be unable to recognise what his faults are. Hence he will have no shame. He will be an arrogant person, failing to respect others for their good qualities, failing to see his own faults.

2. Lack of propriety is the tendency not to avoid negativity where others are the norm. The individual has no intention to practise the virtues advised by others. He does not fear involving himself in non-virtuous actions.

The individual fails to see the shortcomings that are said to come from non-virtuous activities.

The last category is the eight varying mental patterns. These mental patterns change from situation to situation.

They are regret, drowsiness or sleep, anger, attachment, indecisiveness, pride, selectiveness and analysis.

1. Regret is a mental pattern, where one regrets a mistake E.g., This occurs because one again and again thinks about the mistake one did.

2. Drowsiness or sleep is what one may refer to as a neutral state. Mind is not concerned with any object.

3. Anger one also may call hostility or illwill

4. Attachment.

5. Indecisiveness or doubt is based in not knowing. It is being unable to discern.

6. Pride makes the individual very self-centered or haughty, taking delight in his or her qualities.

7.+8. The last two, selectiveness and analysis, are related as coarse and subtle. Selectiveness is a less detailed mental process. It is a less subtle process in terms of referring to an object.

Selectiveness may be defined as selecting or singling out an object of perception, that is to say an object as a whole.

Analysis may be defined as a more subtle or more perceptive process, where one is aware of the details of that object.

These mental patterns work through the medium of the different sense faculties. So in that respect, they are based in the sense faculties. They involve a focus in that they are associated with the perception of an object. They involve a process of being aware of the specific aspects of the focus, the object of perceptions.

In terms of the process of perception there is the principal state of mind which is accompanied by the different mental events. The mental event and the principal state of mind equally share the different components of the process of perception, such as object, sense faculty a.s.o.

In the Abhidharmasamuccaya there is a presentation involving fifty-one mental patterns. There the virtuous mental patterns involve eleven rather than ten events. One can also look up the presentation in a text called 'The Gateway to Knowledge'.

However, in terms of a single instance of perception, there are many different functions and aspects. Therefore one cannot determine one specific number of mental patterns. In fact they innumerable.

Q and A - page 48 of pdf

Question: In the first category there was a mention of sensation and distinction. The question is whether these two are identical with the two immaterial skandhas, the skandha of sensation and the skandha of distinction?

Answer: Probably.

Question: Which of the two presentations of the mental patterns should one take?

Answer: Both are good. The Abhidharmasamuccaya existed prior to the Abhidharmakosha. If you want to make that a reference point. The Abhidharmasamuccaya is the basis for the Abhidharmakosha. There are different details. If one looks at E.g., the mental pattern laziness, the absence of laziness implies the presence of sustained effort and the absence o E.g., forgetfulness implies the presence of mindfulness. The Abhidharmakosha, looking at these implications, mentions less mental pattern, because the absence of one would imply the presence of another a.s.o. Whereas the Abhidharmasamuccaya mentions both and leaves out any implications.

Question: Some of the mental patterns in the first category sound similar to the links of the process of dependent occurrence. Is that on purpose? Is it the same?

Answer: It is the same.

Question: In the context of the Abhidharmakosha we had also doubt, pride, aggression. How can they be sort of connected with all of them, since they apparently seem to be negative functions?

Answer: If one takes E.g., wanting or desire, it may be present in a virtuous state of mind, it may occur either in a negative or a positive perceptual situation. An ordinary individual, who practises virtuous, may have the desire to obtain something from that E.g., Desire is present in a virtuous activity ever though in general it is something negative. However, if one looks at an individual on any of the ten bhumis, that is not the case.

Question: In the context of the mental pattern that produce suffering, we have anger, etc. Why are these considered to be of a minor quality?

Answer: In that category, when they are considered as lesser states, anger means the intention to harm. It is not yet full blown, so to speak, it is not yet apparent. it is the intention to harm.

Question: It was mentioned that some of the mental patterns are also part of the twelve links of the process of dependent occurrence. The process of dependent occurrence is the way of sentient beings. On the other hand there was a mention that only a realised, a Bodhisattva, is capable to deal with these different mental patterns in one moment. Isn't this contradicting to what was mentioned first, namely that in the twelve links of the process of dependent occurrence some of these are anyhow included? Answer: These mental patterns are conceptual.

A conceptual perception always involves a progression. There is never the simultaneous perception of the object as being attractive and blue E.g., These distinctions arise in a progression.

There was a mention, Rinpoche says, that an ordinary individual cannot do that, because he relates to things in a conceptual way, which always involves a progression.

If one E.g., looks at a person who quickly recites a sutra, the person in fact has to perceive and recognise each and every syllable he is reciting. However, the process of reciting is so rapid that one has the impression of the words almost being said simultaneously. However, this is never the case, because a conceptual state of mind always involves a progression.

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