Fundamentals of Vipassanā Meditation

How grasping arises


            So grasping is dreadful. It is very important too. We meditate to let this grasping not be, to put an end to it. We meditate not to grasp with craving or wrong view - not to grasp as permanent or happy, not to grasp as self, ego, the I. Those who fail to meditate grasp whenever they see, hear, feel or perceive. Ask yourselves if you don't grasp. The answer will be too obvious.


            Let's begin with seeing. Suppose you see something beautiful. What do you think of it? You are delighted with it, pleased with it, aren't you? You won't say, "I don't want to see, I don't want to look at it." In fact, you are thinking: "What a beautiful thing! How lovely!" Beaming with smiles you are pleased with it. At the same time you are thinking it is permanent. Whether the object seen is a human being or an inanimate thing, you think it has existed before, exists now, and will go on existing for ever. Although it is not your own, you mentally take possession of it and delight in it. If it is a piece of clothing, you mentally put it on and are pleased. If it is a pair of sandals, you mentally put them on. If it is a human being, you mentally use him or her and are pleased, too.


            The same thing happens when you hear, smell, taste or touch. You take pleasure on each occasion. With thoughts the range of your delights is far wider. You fancy and take delight in things not your own, long for them, and imagine them to be yours. If they are your own things, needless to say, you keep thinking of them and are pleased with them all the time. We meditate to check such taking delights in and graspings.


            We grasp with wrong views, too. You grasp with the personality view. When you see, you think what you see is a person, an ego. Your own consciousness of seeing, too, you take as a person, an ego. Without a thorough insight knowledge we grasp at things the moment we see them. Think of yourselves and you will see for yourselves how you have got such a grasping in you. You think of yourself as well as of others as an ego that has lived the whole life long. In reality there is no such thing. Nothing lives the whole life long. Only mind and matter rising one after another in continuation. This mind and matter you take as person, ego, and grasp. We meditate to not let these graspings with wrong views be.


            We have to meditate on things as they come up. Only then will we be able to prevent the graspings. Graspings come from seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking. They come from six places - six doors. Can we cling to things we cannot see? No. Can we cling to those we cannot hear? No. The Buddha himself has asked these questions.     

            "Now what think you, Malunkya's son? As to those shapes cognizable by eye, which you have not seen, which you have never seen before, which you do not see now, which you have no desire to see in future, - have you any partiality, any passion, any affection for such shapes?"

                        "Not so, my lord."

                                                                                                                                    S. N. iv. 72


            What are those shapes you have not seen before? Towns and villages and countries you have never been to, men and women living there, and other scenes. How can anyone fall in love with men and women he or she hasn't ever seen? How can you cling to them? So, you do not cling to things you have never seen. No defilements arise in respect of them. You do not need to meditate on them. But things you see are another matter. Defilements can arise -  that is to say, if you fail to meditate to prevent them.


            The same is true of things heard, smelled, tasted, touched, thought on.


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