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Akusala dhammas are altogether different from kusala dhammas. Akusala dhammas are impure, they are dangerous and they lead to sorrow. As we have seen, there are four akusala cetasikas which arise with every akusala citta: moha (ignorance), ahirika (shamelessness), anottappa (recklessness) and uddhacca (restlessness). Apart from these four akusala cetasikas there are several other akusala cetasikas which can accompany akusala citta.
Lobha, attachment or greed, is another akusala cetasika. Lobha does not arise with every akusala citta, it can arise only with eight types of citta, the eight types of lobha-mūla-citta1. Lobha is a “root”, hetu. The lobha-mūla-cittas have both moha and lobha as their roots.
The Dhammasangaṇi (par1059), in the section where it deals with lobha as hetu, gives a long list of different names for lobha in order to illustrate its different shades and aspects. Lobha is compared to a creeper, it strangles its victim such as a creeper strangles a tree. It is like the ocean, it is insatiable. Lobha can be coarse or it can be more subtle such as hoping or expecting. It is a “bondage” because it binds beings in the round of births. It is a depravity because it corrupts the mind2.
The Visuddhimagga (XIV, 162) gives the following definition of lobha: ...greed has the characteristic of grasping an object like “monkey lime”. Its function is sticking, like meat put in a hot pan. It is manifested as not giving up, like the dye of lamp-black. Its proximate cause is seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage. Swelling with the current of craving, it should be regarded as taking (beings) with it to states of loss, as a swift-flowing river does to the great ocean.
The Atthasālinī (II, Part IX, Chapter I, 249) gives a similar definition3.
Greed has the characteristic of grasping like monkey lime. Monkey lime was used by hunters in order to catch monkeys. We read in the Kindred Sayings (V, Mahā-vagga, Book III, Chapter I, par7, The monkey) that a hunter sets a trap of lime for monkeys. Monkeys who are free from “folly and greed” do not get trapped. We read:
...But a greedy, foolish monkey comes up to the pitch and handles it with one paw, and his paw sticks fast in it. Then, thinking: I'll free my paw, he seizes it with the other paw, but that too sticks fast. To free both paws he seizes them with one foot, and that too sticks fast. To free both paws and the one foot, he lays hold of them with the other foot, but that too sticks fast. To free both paws and both feet he lays hold of them with his muzzle: but that too sticks fast.
So that monkey thus trapped in five ways lies down and howls, thus fallen on misfortune...
In this way the hunter can catch him and roast him over the fire. The Buddha explained to the monks that the monk who is not mindful gets trapped by the “five sensual elements”: visible object, sound, scent, savour and tangible object. When one is taken in by these objects, “Māra gets access”4. Clinging is dangerous, it leads to one's own destruction. Are we at this moment taken in by one of the “five sensual elements”? Then we are in fact “trapped”. At the moment of lobha we enjoy the object of clinging and we do not see that lobha makes us enslaved, we do not see the danger of lobha. Therefore it is said that the proximate cause of lobha is seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage. Growing into a river of craving, lobha takes us to the “states of loss”. Lobha can motivate unwholesome deeds which are capable of producing an unhappy rebirth. So long as lobha has not been eradicated we are subject to birth, old age, sickness and death.
Lobha is attached to many different kinds of objects and it has many degrees. Different names can denote the cetasika which is lobha. Rāga (greed), abhijjā (covetousness) and taṇhā (craving) are other names for lobha. When lobha is coarse it motivates akusala kamma patha (unwholesome course of action) through body, speech or mind. Because of lobha one may commit many kinds of bad deeds in order to obtain what one desires. If the degree of akusala is such that it motivates an evil deed, the result of it may be an unhappy rebirth or unpleasant experiences through the senses in the course of life. Lobha can motivate akusala kamma pathas through the body, which are stealing and sexual misbehaviour, and akusala kamma pathas through speech which are lying, slandering and idle talk. Lobha can motivate covetousness or abhijjā, the desire to take away someone else's property, which is akusala kamma patha through the mind. Moreover, when it is accompanied by diṭṭhi, it can motivate certain kinds of wrong view which are akusala kamma patha through the mind5. As regards covetousness, the Atthasālinī (II, Part IX, Chapter I, 249) states that it should be regarded as the outstretched hand of the mind (reaching) for others' prosperity. If one merely wishes to have someone else's property but does not plan to take it away, greed is not akusala kamma patha. There are many degrees of greed and only when one really plans to take away someone else's property it is akusala kamma patha through the mind6.
We may not have the intention to steal, but our wish to obtain something for ourselves can condition behaviour and speech which is not sincere. The Book of Analysis (Vibhaṅga, Chapter 17, par851) speaks about people who have “evil wishes”, that is, who pretend to have qualities they do not possess; they may pretend to be virtuous, wise and even without defilements. The monk may behave in a hypocritical way in order to obtain requisites. The Vibhaṅga (par861, 862) gives us striking examples of “guile” and “insinuating talk”:
Therein, what is “guile”? In one who depends on gain, honour and fame, who has evil wishes, who is troubled by wishes: by the so called using of the requisites, by talking allusively, by the setting up or by the arranging or by the proper arranging of the posture: there is knitting the brows, act of knitting the brows, guile, being guileful, state of being guileful. This is called guile.
Therein, what is “insinuating talk”? In one who depends on gain, honour and fame, who has evil wishes, who is troubled by wishes: that which to others is welcoming talk, insinuating talk, entertaining talk, laudatory talk, flattering talk, inferential talk, repeated inferential talk, coaxing talk, repeated coaxing talk, constant pleasant talk, servility (in talking), beansoupery (in talking), dandling (behaviour). This is called insinuating talk.
“Beansoupery” is talk of which only a little is true, the rest being false, just as in beansoup, only a few beans do not get cooked, and the greater part gets cooked7.
These passages are also excellent reminders for laypeople: one may have lovely manners but in reality one may be full of hypocrisy and pretence. Pleasant speech can easily have selfish motives. Don't we want to be popular, to be liked by others? In order to endear ourselves to others we may even tell lies or slander. When there is mindfulness of the present reality we can find out whether our nice way of speaking is in reality flattering and coaxing talk or not. Through mindfulness we can become more sincere in our behaviour.
There is lobha, not only when we want to obtain things, but also when we enjoy pleasant sights, sounds, smells, flavours, tangible objects and mental objects. Don't we like softness while we are sitting or lying down? When we sit on a hard floor we have aversion, and when we sit in a comfortable chair we find it agreeable and then there is lobha. Are we not attached to temperature, to the temperature which is just right for us: not too hot, not too cold? When we drink coffee or tea we want it to be of the temperature we like. When eating and drinking we are attached not only to flavour, but also to temperature. And don't we like the smell of our food, the sight of it and the softness or hardness of it? There is bound to be attachment through each of the six doors, time and again.
Lobha may be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling. When it is accompanied by pleasant feeling there is enthusiasm (pīti) as well. When there is pleasant feeling we are delighted with it and then pleasant feeling becomes another object of attachment. When there is attachment there is also ignorance, shamelessness, recklessness and restlessness (uddhacca). Ignorance does not see the true nature of the object of clinging, it does not see that it is only a conditioned reality which does not stay. Shamelessness is not ashamed of akusala and recklessness does not see its danger. Restlessness is instability due to akusala, it prevents the citta from applying itself to kusala.
Lobha can be accompanied by indifferent feeling and then it is not as intense as when it is accompanied by pleasant feeling. When we want to go somewhere or want to do something, lobha is likely to arise, but it may not always be accompanied by pleasant feeling, there may be indifferent feeling instead. Lobha-mūla-citta with indifferent feeling is likely to arise countless times, but we are so ignorant, we do not notice it.
All degrees of lobha are dangerous, even the more subtle forms of lobha. When we do evil deeds which harm others it is evident that lobha is dangerous. But when lobha is only enjoyment of a pleasant sight or sound and we do not harm other people, we find it harder to see the danger of lobha. Lobha, be it gross or more subtle, makes us enslaved. When there is lobha we cling to the object which is experienced at that moment and we take it for happiness. The next moment the pleasant object is gone and then we are likely to have aversion. The Buddha reminded people of the futility of sense-pleasures. We read in the Dhammapada (verses 146-149):
What is laughter, what is joy, when the world is ever burning? Shrouded by darkness, do you not seek a light? Behold this beautiful body, a mass of sores, a heaped-up (lump), diseased, much thought of, in which nothing lasts, nothing persists. Thoroughly worn out is this body, a nest of diseases, perishable; This putrid mass breaks up; truly life ends in death.
Lobha is extremely hard to eradicate because it has been accumulated, also in past lives; it is deeply rooted. Even when we have studied the Dhamma and we have heard about the dangers of lobha we still want pleasant things for ourselves. We want possessions and we are attached to people. At the moment of attachment we do not realize that all the things we desire are susceptible to change, that they cannot last.
We read in the Middle Length Sayings (I, no. 26), in the “Discourse on the Ariyan Quest”, that the Buddha spoke to the monks about the ariyan quest and the unariyan quest. The unariyan quest is the seeking of all the things which are impermanent. The Buddha spoke about things which are “liable to birth”. Birth is followed by decay and death. Whatever is born, what has arisen because of conditions, has to fall away, it cannot be true happiness. We read:
...And what monks, is the unariyan quest? As to this, monks, someone, liable to birth because of self, seeks what is likewise liable to birth; being liable to ageing because of self, seeks what is likewise liable to ageing; being liable to decay because of self...being liable to dying because of self...being liable to sorrow because of self...being liable to stain because of self, seeks what is likewise liable to stain. And what, monks, would you say is liable to birth? Sons and wife, monks, are liable to birth, women-slaves and men-slaves are liable to birth, goats and sheep are liable to birth, cocks and swine are liable to birth, elephants, cows, horses and mares are liable to birth, gold and silver are liable to birth. These attachments, monks, are liable to birth; yet this (man), enslaved, infatuated, addicted, being liable to birth because of self, seeks what is likewise liable to birth...
It is then explained that all the things which are mentioned as being liable to birth are also liable to ageing, disease, dying, sorrow and stain. We are attached to family, possessions, gold and silver, to everything we believe can give us pleasure. We long for what is pleasant and we have aversion when we do not get what we want. Our attachment is a source of endless frustrations. Further on in the sutta we read that the person who sees the peril of all the things which are impermanent seeks “the unborn, uttermost security from the bonds- nibbāna”. This is the ariyan quest. We may understand the disadvantage of lobha, but lobha cannot be eradicated immediately. This sutta can remind us to develop right understanding of realities, since this can eventually lead to the eradication of lobha.
The Buddha taught people to be mindful of whatever reality appears. When akusala dhamma appears it can be object of awareness and right understanding. Some people may feel guilty when there is attachment to pleasant things and they may be inclined to think that they should not be mindful of lobha. If we have accumulations for arts such as painting or music should we give these up in order to develop vipassanā? That would not be the right practice. We should know the realities of our daily life. One person has accumulations for art, another is skilful in cooking or writing, we all have different accumulations. A layman does not live the monk's life, he could not force himself to live as a monk. We should develop understanding in our daily life, because then we will see that whatever arises, does so because of its own conditions.
The characteristic of lobha can be known only when it appears. When we help someone else there are likely to be many moments of attachment in between the moments of true generosity. Are we pleased to be in the company of the person we help, are we attached to him? Are we pleased with “our own” kusala and do we expect something in return for our kindness? Mindfulness of realities is the only way to know the different moments of wholesomeness and unwholesomeness more clearly. Mindfulness will prevent us from deluding ourselves.
There may be attachment even to kusala, to calm or to mindfulness, sati. We want to have a great deal of sati and we want it to last, but wanting to have sati is not sati, it is clinging. We should not avoid being aware of such clinging when it appears, because only if we know it as it is can it be eradicated.
There are time and again experiences through the different doorways. There is seeing, hearing, the experience of tangible object or thinking. It seems that all these experiences arise immediately one after the other. However, they arise in different processes and in these processes there are “javana-cittas”8 which are either kusala cittas or akusala cittas. For example, shortly after hearing, which is vipākacitta (result of kamma), has arisen and fallen away, there may be attachment to sound, and then there are lobha-mūla-cittas, performing the function of javana. Even during the sense-door process, before the object is experienced through the mind-door, lobha can arise. The javana-cittas which arise in the different processes of cittas, experiencing objects through the six doors, are more often akusala cittas then kusala cittas, but we are ignorant of them. After a sense-object such as sound is experienced through the ear-door, it is experienced by cittas arising in a mind-door process. The cittas arising in the mind-door process which follows upon the sense-door process, in this case the ear-door process, merely experience the sound, they do not think about it, and they do not know what kind of sound it is. After that process there can be other mind-door processes of cittas which think of the source of the sound, of the meaning of it, of concepts. The thinking of concepts after the seeing, hearing or the experiences through the other sense-doors, is usually done with lobha, even if we do not feel particularly glad. When we, for example, after hearing a sound, know that it is the sound of a bird, this is not hearing but thinking, and this is usually done with lobha. We want to know the meaning of what we hear. We want to know the meaning of all we have experienced through the senses. When we pay attention to the shape and form of things, after the seeing, there is thinking of concepts, which is usually done with clinging. We like to notice all the familiar things around us, we would not like to miss noticing them. Thus, we have many moments of clinging arising in sense-door processes and mind-door processes; we have many more moments of lobha than we ever thought and it is beneficial to realize this. It can remind us to be aware of the different realities which appear in order to know them as they are.
The Buddha reminded people of the many forms of lobha in order to help them to develop right understanding. This is the aim of the many classifications of realities we find in the scriptures. Taṇhā, for example, is another word which denotes lobha. Taṇhā is usually translated as craving. Taṇhā can be classified in the following way9:
Kāma-taṇhā is craving for the sense-objects which are experienced through the six doors as well as craving for kāmāvacara cittas (cittas of the sense-sphere) and the accompanying cetasikas. We cling not only to visible object or sound but also to seeing and hearing. We want to see and hear, we want to go on experiencing objects through the senses. Kāma-taṇhā may be accompanied by wrong view or it may be unaccompanied by wrong view.
Bhāva-taṇhā is craving for becoming. This kind of clinging may be accompanied by wrong view or not. The kind of bhava-taṇhā which is accompanied by wrong view, diṭṭhi, is “eternity view”, the belief that realities last. Because of eternity view one believes that there is a self who will continue to exist forever.
There may also be clinging to rebirth without the wrong view of self who continues to exist. Clinging to the result of rūpa-jhāna (fine-material jhāna), which is rebirth in a rūpa-brahma plane, and clinging to the result of arūpa-jhāna (immaterial jhāna), which is rebirth in an arūpa-brahma plane, are forms of clinging which are included in bhava-taṇhā.
Vibhava-taṇhā, craving for non-becoming, is annihilation-belief which is a kind of wrong view. This is the belief that there is a self who will be annihilated after death. People who have this view do not see that so long as there are conditions for the arising of nāma and rūpa, they will arise again and again. Since they do not understand this they believe that there is no rebirth.
There are different ways of classifying taṇhā. The Visuddhimagga (XVII, 234-236) deals with hundred-and-eight kinds of craving. There are six kinds of craving for the objects experienced through the six doors, and each of these six kinds can be reckoned as threefold according to its mode of occurrence as craving for sense-objects, craving for becoming and craving for non-becoming. As regards craving for becoming, the eternity view can arise in connection with what is experienced through each of the six doors: there is the belief that these objects last. As regards the craving for non-becoming, the annihilation view can arise in connection with what is experienced through each of the six doors. In this way one can count eighteen kinds of craving. Moreover, there can be craving for “one's own” colour or for colour outside oneself and even so with regard to the other objects, including the objects of craving for becoming and craving for non-becoming. In this way one can count thirty six kinds of craving. If one takes into account craving in the past, craving in the present and craving in the future, there are one hundred-and-eight kinds of craving. The different classifications of taṇhā remind us of the fact that there are many kinds of clinging to different objects.
The sotāpanna ( the streamwinner, who has attained the first stage of enlightenment) has eradicated clinging which is accompanied by wrong view, but the other forms of clinging may still arise. The anāgāmī (the non-returner, who has attained the third stage of enlightenment) has eradicated all forms of sensuous clinging, but he still clings to birth. He may cling to rūpa-jhāna and its result and to arūpa-jhāna and its result. He has no “eternity view” because he is without wrong view. The arahat has eradicated all kinds of clinging, he does not cling to any kind of rebirth. For him there are no longer conditions for rebirth.
When there is mindfulness of the present object more often, we will see more clearly how deep-rooted our clinging is. We can prove in this way that the Abhidhamma teaches about realities. We will learn that there is clinging to all the objects which are experienced through the six doors.
So long as there is clinging there will be birth, old age, sickness and death. Desire is the second noble Truth, the origin of dukkha. We read in the Middle Length Sayings (III, no. 141, the Analysis of the Truths) that Sāriputta said to the monks about the second noble Truth:
And what, your reverences, is the ariyan truth of the arising of dukkha? Whatever craving is connected with again-becoming, accompanied by delight and attachment, finding delight in this and that, namely the craving for sense-pleasures, the craving for becoming, the craving for annihilation—this, your reverences, is called the ariyan truth of the arising of dukkha.
Craving is one of the links in the “Dependent Origination”. Ignorance and craving are the roots of the “wheel of becoming”, the cycle of birth and death (Visuddhimagga XVII, 285).
In the Thera-gāthā (57, Kuṭivihārin 2) the kamma which produces rebirth is symbolised by the building of a dwelling place, a hut. Who still has desire to “build” will be reborn. A Thera did his studies in an old hut. He thought: ”This old hut is now rotten; I ought to make another”. So he turned his mind to new action (kamma). A spirit who was seeking salvation said to him:
This was an ancient hut, you say? To build Another hut, a new one, is your wish? O cast away the longing for a hut! New hut will bring new pain, monk, to you.
When the Thera heard these words he was agitated, developed insight and attained arahatship. For him there were no more conditions for rebirth, since he was free from clinging.
 See my Abhidhamma in Daily Life, Chapter IV.
 See the Atthasālinī II, Book II, Chapter II, 362-367.
 See also Dhammasangaṇi par389.
 Māra is that which is evil, akusala, and in a wider sense: everything which is bound up with dukkha.
 Certain kinds of wrong view, not every kind, are akusala kamma patha through the mind. I shall deal with these in Chapter 16.
 Atthasālinī I, Part III, Chapter V, 101.
 Visuddhimagga I, 75.
 See my Abhidhamma in Daily Life, Chapter 14. There are usually seven cittas in a process performing the function of javana, “running through the object”.
 Book of Analysis, Vibhaṅga, Chapter 17, Analysis of Small Items, par916.