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SuttaStudy 4: Sabbasava sutta 'All the taints' MN2

Different methods of removing taints, including the first three fetters -leading to stream entry.

“This is how he attends unwisely: ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what did I become in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I become in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where will it go?’ MN2

Questions to reflect on:

  1. How does one attend wisely (yonisomanasikara) the four noble truths?
  2. Is any taint removed by watching it arise and pass away?
  3. Does the Buddha suggest proactive methods of approaching the taints?

with metta

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Broadly speaking it is difficult to discuss about taints. It’s unpleasant and people rather speak about pleasant aspects such as the divine abodes. Also it can feel like someone is pointing a finger at you! This is of course not correct. However as unenlightened beings we all have taints, and the only way to rub them away is to begin by naming them. Another common knee jerk reaction is to ask get defensive and question the author’s defilement levels, or look externally in some other way. But working with defilements require focusing internally.

This is part of the Noble Eightfold Path ie. Right effort, and is a prerequisite for Right Mindfulness.

With metta

The following approach might be seen as another way of defining Right Effort (samma vayama). It includes ignorance as well, making it a complete Path in itself:

“What are the things unfit for attention that he attends to? They are things such that when he attends to them, the unarisen taint of sensual desire arises in him and the arisen taint of sensual desire increases, the unarisen taint of being arises in him and the arisen taint of being increases, the unarisen taint of ignorance arises in him and the arisen taint of ignorance increases. These are the things unfit
for attention that he attends to. And what are the things fit for attention that he does not attend to?
They are things such that when he attends to them, the unarisen taint of sensual desire does not arise in him and the arisen taint of sensual desire is abandoned, the unarisen taint of being does not arise in him and the arisen taint of being is abandoned, the unarisen taint of ignorance does not arise in him and the arisen taint of ignorance is abandoned. These are the things fit for attention that he does not attend to.
By attending to things unfit for attention and by not attending to things fit for attention, both unarisen taints arise in him and arisen taints increase. MN2

See also Right effort.

Right effort

  1. "There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. –(sense restraint, avoiding papa mitta, choosing right nimitta, keeping precepts, simile of the saw, develop right view, right intentsion)
  2. "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (see vitakkasantana sutta, other suttas on removing certain defilements)
  3. "He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (satipattana, brahmavihara)
  4. “He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort.” (protection- sense restraint, further development of 3)

Strangely this seems to match the steps of the Noble eightfold path in the same order, suggesting the four right efforts in the 37 factors of enlightenment, is a path unto itself. Not that this is clearly mentioned in the texts, this is just my current understanding.

with metta

I couldn’t add a link to MN2:

Greetings,
To answer your 2nd question:
By understanding the nature of the defilement, makes it not a problem anymore. I would say that it doesn’t necessarily cease there and then and it need not to, because by understanding it, one understands that it will cease eventually and that it’s not yours. The taint becomes another thing which is not yours and as such no longer defiles/taints.

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