most ven. bhantes, respected elders & pariyatti scholars,
kindly accept my veneration, regards and greetings.
below i am cut-pasting a discussion that i had with a viewer online. i pray to you to kindly point out errors in my understanding and correct me if i am wrong any where.
with regards & metta,
KEYWORDS REPRESENTING THE ENTIRE CORPUS OF BUDDHA-DHAMMA
An interesting dialogue with Lalit Patodia ji:
THE QUESTIONER WROTE:
manish ji…if I ask you to name a single key word from Buddha’s philosophy…what it would be ?
i would not call buddha’s teachings as a “philosophy”. He neither established a sectarian religion nor did he preach any philosophy merely for intellectual jugglery. He taught pure dhamma (dharma) as the practical science of mind-matter with the chief aim of deconditioning the mind.
He & His entire teaching is unparalleled & matchless. yet if asked to choose one “single key word” - i would choose ‘पञ्ञा’ (pañña), which means ‘insight’.
while ‘sila’ (morality) and ‘samadhi’ (concentration of mind) were practiced even before the buddha - ‘पञ्ञा’ (pañña) or ‘insight’ as the ultimate purpose of spiritual practice leading to nibbāna (Enlightenment) and the ending of the cycle of birth & death was the unique contribution of the buddha.
the single word that epitomizes and surmises the entire mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta sutta (which is a very important key discourse for meditation practice) and has been used innumerable times in this discourse is ‘pajānāti’.
therefore, i choose ‘पञ्ञा’ (pañña), which means ‘insight’, as the most important “single key word” from the entire corpus of buddha-dhamma.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY MANISH:
And in my opinion, the best one line summary of the abhidhammic aspect of buddha’s vipassanā teachings or the most pithy one line essence of buddha-dhamma for vipassanā bhavanā is:
paññattiṃ ṭhapetvā visesena passati’ti vipassanā
the purpose of vipassanā bhavanā is to develop experiential insight - भावनामयी पञ्ञा (bhavanāmayi pañña)
so, i prefer to choose पञ्ञा (pañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ out of the entire corpus of buddha-dhamma.
FURTHER QUESTION / COMMENT BY THE QUESTIONER:
incredibly beautiful expression manish , i always thought a 'deep observation of reality ’ was his perrenial teaching but now thanks… you have opened up a different window…and ofcourse my take here is ’ deconditioning '.
it is important to go to the fundamentals and see how a word / terminology was used before the buddha or exclusively by the buddha and how that particular word / terminology is placed within the structure of buddha-dhamma. finally, only a fundamental & unique concept can be a ‘keyword’.
vipassanā is for development of experiential paññā (insight) which deconditions the mind (visankhara-gatam-cittam). so, paññā covers all 3 types of insight (sutamayi, cintāmayi & bhavanāmayi) and vipassanā is part of the paññā section of the 8-fold path. so, paññā covers vipassanā and deconditioning of mind.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY MANISH:
- understanding all the dimensions of the word ‘धम्म’ [‘dhamma’ (dharma)] in the light of all the teachings of the buddha covers everything!
‘dhamma’ is the tipitaka and buddha Himself is ‘dhammakayo’ and He is seen within the ‘dhamma’! so, although the term ‘dharma’ was in vogue even before the buddha - the multifaceted expression of ‘dhamma’ in the tipitaka includes many unique aspects exclusive to the pantheon of buddha’s teachings.
so, undoubtedly ‘dhamma’ is the central keyword of buddha’s teachings (sikkhā / sikshā) and represents all His teachings in one single word. but, when i choose ‘paññā’ (पञ्ञा) - i choose it as the ‘single keyword’ out of the entire corpus of ‘buddha-dhamma’!
- i prefer to choose पञ्ञा (pañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ out of the entire corpus of buddha-dhamma. why?
interestingly, whenever the buddha enumerated the 8-fold path (ariyo aṭṭhaṇgiko maggo) - His sequence was always paññā, sila, samadhi and not sila, samadhi paññā! so, pañña is basic, fundamental and the ultimate aim. the perfection of sila is not a forcibly imposed doctrine of moral restraint but, is something that goes hand-in-hand with, supported by and due to experiential paññā! thus, the samadhi in buddha’s sequence of paññā, sila, samadhi becomes ‘kusala cittassa ekaggata’ i.e. concentration of the (purified) wholesome mind! this scheme of spiritual development is a unique contribution of the buddha!
- it is only this paññā (insight) that destroys avijjā (ignorance) and leads to vimutti (deliverance) and it is possible to do so only through the ‘ekāyano maggo’ cattāro-satipaṭṭhāna-bhavanā of buddha-dhamma. such a teaching of nibbānic paññā-bhavana for the complete ending of all sufferings (dukkha) and the repeated cycle of birth & death is found only in buddha-dhamma and nowhere else! in the mahāparinibbāna sutta - the buddha categorically stated and confirmed it by saying: samano natthi bahire!
therefore, i choose पञ्ञा (pañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ out of the entire corpus of buddha-dhamma.
- after introspective and thoughtful reflection, i have arrived at the conclusion that:
A) ‘धम्म’ (dhamma) is the best single word that represents the entire corpus of buddha’s teachings (sikkhā).
B) ‘विपस्सना’ (vipassanā) is best single word that aptly surmises the entire meditative practical aspect (patipatti) of buddha-dhamma.
C) about your interesting & thought provoking question: i prefer to choose ‘पञ्ञा’ (pañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or the ‘central keyword’ out of the entire corpus of buddha-dhamma. the reasons & detailed analysis of my choice - as elaborated above.
D) the final purpose & goal of buddha-dhamma is of course: nibbānassa sacchikiriyaya! and as the buddha pointed out - there is only one single taste throughout all His teachings i.e. vimutti-rasa - the taste of deliverance from all sufferings! this may be called the ‘central theme’ of buddha-dhamma! seyyathapi bhikkhave mahasamuddo ekaraso lonaraso, evam eva kho bhikkhave ayam dhammavinayo ekaraso vimuttiraso! (cullavagga, vinaya pitaka)
any differing views are most welcome for further study, analysis and introspection.
REJOINDER & CORRECTION:
i had chosen ‘पञ्ञा’ (pañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ out of the entire corpus of buddha-dhamma. but, on further reflection, it emerged that ‘pañña’ too is a vast term and some aspects of sutamayi & cintāmayi pañña (theoretical & intellectual insight) were known even before the buddha.
it is actually ‘SAMPAJAÑÑA’ - the comprehension of the true characteristics of nāma-rupa - which makes buddha’s pañña teachings unique and matchless.
the expressions & terms used/cited by me above namely: ‘ekāyano maggo’, ‘samano natthi bahire’, ‘cattaro-satipatthāna bhavanā’, ‘vipassanā’, ‘unique’, ‘unparalleled’, ‘matchless’, ‘nibbānic’, ‘vimutti’ etc. should actually be seen in connection with ‘sampajañña’.
it is only because of this experiential bhavanāmayi insight of ‘sampajañña’ (through the vipassanic tilakkhanānupassanā)
does ‘vedanā paccayā tanhā’ become ‘vedanā paccayā pañña’ leading to the deconditioning of mind.
i would like to further sharpen & revise my previous opinion and choose ‘संपजञ्ञ’ (sampajañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ of buddha-dhamma.
whenever the buddha was asked about ‘sammā sati’ - he replied connecting ‘sati’ with ‘sampajañña’ and enumerated all four-satipatthānas. thus, it is clear that ‘sampajañña’ is the term of central importance in vipassanā meditation and is the unique contribution of the buddha to mankind for deliverance from their manifold sufferings.
therefore, i choose ‘संपजञ्ञ’ (sampajañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ of buddha-dhamma. sampajañña is the knowledge of the true characteristics of nāma-rupa (tilakkhanānupassanā) and it is found nowhere else outside the pantheon of buddha’s teachings.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY MANISH:
of course, pañña is supreme & central in buddha-dhamma. but, the bhavanāmayi pañña (experiential insight) aspect of pañña is the unique contribution of the buddha which is not found elsewhere.
vipassanā is bhavanāmayi pañña and sampajañña is part of vipassanā-bhavanā. true vipassanā bhavanā happens when ‘pajanāti’ progresses to ‘sampajānati’ and culminates in ‘parijānāti’. the knowledge of arising-n-passing-away under the mahasatipatthana sutta format is sampajañña.
ven. ledi sayadaw clarifies that all types of vipassanā comes under dhamma-vicaya bojjhaṅga and vipassanā is a function of pañña cetasika.
sampajañña comes under samma-ditthi of the 8-fold path but, since samma-sati includes both sati & sampajañña and samma-sati is equivalent to cattaro-satipatthana-bhavanā - the tilakkhananupassanā vipassanā is samma-sati as well as samma-ditthi and the samma-samadhi herein in khanika-samadhi (upacara-samadhi of first jhana) from moment-to-moment.
i choose ‘संपजञ्ञ’ (sampajañña) as the ‘single keyword’ or ‘central keyword’ of buddha-dhamma. sampajañña is the knowledge of the true characteristics of nāma-rupa (tilakkhanānupassanā) and it is found nowhere else outside the pantheon of buddha’s teachings.
i may place this write-up before learned monks & pariyatti scholars for further guidance.