10 Questions of Sutta Assistant
1. Why ill will and cruelty are categorized as two separate groups of thoughts when both are more or less the same?
These are not merely more or less the same , they are different. Although both stem from the same root of hatred, they are mentioned under 'wrong thought' in the wrong eightfold path.
Though they may be different manifestations of hatred root (dosa), here Buddha is referring to thoughts (vitakka) categorised under sancappa in the Noble Eightfold path.
The positive opposites of these two being metta & karuna respectively and metta & karuna too are not viewed “more or less” the same but tones of different mental patterns.
2. Desire, ill will and ignorance are the three roots of unwholesome activities. Why thoughts of ignorance is not included in this sutta?
Desire (thanhā), ill will(vyapāda) and ignorance (avijjā) are not the three roots of unwholesome activities but the three roots are Greed (loba), hatred(dosa) and delusion (moha)
This Sutta focuses on two types of thoughts and how their separation led the Bodhisatta to attain the Buddhahood. Although there are other teachings relating to greed, hatred and delusion, here the Buddha talks specifically about two types of thoughts and not their root causes.
3. It is difficult to identify the unwholesome thoughts early. How can we overcome this?
This will be the case if mindfulness and heedfulness is weak in a practitioner. As you progress in practice the interval between the identification becomes shorter to a point where the arising of the unwholesomeness can be seen as explained by the Buddha in this sutta. To overcome this there maybe various practicing techniques that work for different types of individuals but generally, developing of the spiritual faculties will solve the problem.
4. When an unwholesome thought is identified thinking about its bad repercussion leads to further thought proliferation and disturbs the concentration. Are there measures to avoid this?
If the mind is concentrated, at the point of concentration (samādhi) there is no unwholesome thoughts arising as mentioned in this sutta. This makes the question a speculative one rather than an experiential question.
When unwholesome thoughts are identified, the Bodhisatta took the following step of considering it wisely, this I think is what we must also do. When considering wisely , he saw the repercussions and took the action of abandoning it. That eventually led him to concentration. Therefore if these steps are taken the identification will lead to concentration, not away from it.
5. When the wandering mind returns to the object there is always unpleasant feeling. Can we reduce this by practising Dana?
I think the question is, can unpleasant feelings arising while meditating be reduced by renunciation ? ( as dāna is not discussed in this sutta)
This is a personal view of a yogi and its not a general view as many when returning back to the object is pleasant and sometimes neutral.
Practicing Dāna means giving to others and 'neccamma sancappa' means renunciation. Although dāna would lead to neccamma , it needs evolving spiritually than merely the act of giving.
If your question is could neccamma or thought of 'letting go' create a pleasant feeling when the mind returns to the object, that depends on the conditions of the mind state at that time and your reaction to it.
6. What is meant by steadying the mind internally?
'citta santāna' and that means not getting involved with external things but keeping the mind connected to internal things. This can also be viewed as consciousness connected to the sense faculties.
7. What are the three full knowledges?
The 3 full knowledges are;
Pubbenivāsanutinyānāya - past life recollection knowledge
Chutuppātanyānāya - knowledge of passing away and reappearance of beings
Āsawakhaya nyānāya - knowledge of the destruction of taints
8. Can practicing Dana alone lead to wisdom and great knowledges?
This question doesn't connect to the Sutta, however I will explain it
Practicing dana alone ( rejecting all other Dhammas) is not what the Buddha advocates.
All Dhammas towards liberation are interconnected. Dana must be practiced together with all the other dhammas. Similarly, sila and bhāvana should also not be separated, then they become a mere practice (vruta). Dāna without wisdom and pleasantness is no different from a coffee vendor handing you a cup of coffee. Sila without the wisdom of the dhamma and the pleasantness is no different from someone committing to a vegan diet. Bhāvana without the wisdom of the dhamma and the pleasantness is no different from rejuvenation from a yoga session. The missing link is the Dhamma. Separating one aspect of the dhamma as one wishes can be harmful for oneself.
If your question is about renunciation this applies to that as well.
The word 'dāna' means just giving and that doesn't create any knowledge but it can lead to a wholesome action.
Dāna is a perfection as well as a wholesome activity by practicing dāna, one may develop the desire to give (chāga) which would support the thought of renunciation (neccamma)
9. Are all unwholesome thoughts related to desire and thoughts of ill will and cruelty are mere products of desire?
Greed, hatred and delusion are the roots of all unwholesome thoughts, everything unwholesome connects back to these roots.
Wholesome thoughts stems from the roots of non-greed, non- hatred and non-delusion
Ill will and cruelty are not products of desire nor do they stem from it, however desire can sometimes bring thoughts of anger and aversion.
10. Is it possible to practice Noble Eightfold Path fully while in lay life?
The answer is Yes,
The criteria is not being a lay person or a bhikkhu, it is whether you want to lead your lay life or monastic life in accordance with the Eightfold path.
If you have Questions on this Sutta please let us know below