1. Of what use are the studies and practices of Dhamma?
Some may feel that, in the studies of Dhamma they are given scanty marks, while others
think that their age is premature in the process. However, in the ultimate analysis, it
can be seen that Dhamma is a subject with the lion's share of the marks. Though we may get
few marks for morals at school, we can see that marks for morals are given throughout our
lives. Even after death, marks are doggedly given and deducted for our morals, as can be
seen in news items praising and criticizing people for good and evil deeds, as the case
may be. For those who have reasonably good deeds to their credit, monuments will be
erected after their death by later generations as a sign for homage. Moreover, they will
be cited as examples for posterity to follow. On the other hand, wrongdoers, for failure
to study and practise morals, will receive contrary results. They will be criticized and
vilified even while they are still alive and after death, their behavior will be cited as
something from which one should refrain, It may thus be said:
morals can be given and deducted throughout one's life and the general public has
a right to give and take away marks for morals while one is still in the land of
the living and after death."
2. why do we have to study and practise what is known as "Kammatthana''?
Kammatthna has to be
learnt and practised because it represents a given level of observance of Dhamma. It is a
formula for mental exercise or training. From this standpoint, we can see that human life
can be decomposed into 2 main parts:
2.1 The Body or the Form
We find that before our
body can learn to do things including writing, sitting sideways on tile floor and walking
courteously, it has to undergo training. Such training may take some people a great deal
of time, others little time. In sum, our body is not as serviceable as it should be. What
is worse, it can even be offensive if we use it, for instance, to inflict harm on other's
body, property and chastity. The fact that we can lead a reasonably tranquil life and are
well respected and praised by others is due to a reasonably advanced degree of bodily and
verbal disciplining. On the other hand, those who have not had such training tend to get
results contrary to what has been stated.
2.2 Citta or the Mind
It is considered to be the most important part of human beings. The majority of us have
not had adequate mental disciplining and have become for instance, sensitive, callous,
irritable, troubled and unduly worried about things which should not be worrisome. As
stated by an adage, "the mind is the master, while the body is the servant" If
this is true while the master has not undergone adequate coaching, bodily and verbal
behaviours may not be upright. Mental schooling is thus crucial since, the master is good,
he can regulate the actions of the servant, that is, the body, to steer them in the right
direction. The Buddha has, therefore prescribed, for example, the Precepts for corporal
grooming and the practice which is known as Kammatthna for mental drilling. His reasons are, for instance:
"The mind tends to lead wordly beings, mental exercise is a virtue.
A trained mind brings with it happiness; those who follow the dictates of the (untrained)
mind are in trouble.
Be wise with regard to your mental processes and handle your mind in the same way as one
would carry a bowl brimful of (boiling) oil.
Persist in being meticulous with your mind. Intelligent people tend to handle their mind
If sinful acts originate from a given disposition, steer your mind away from it."
It is clear from these Sayings of the Buddha how important the mind is, why there is a
need for mental exercise, and what benefit a well-trained mind can bring to one. To train
the mind which is difficult to regulate and break in and to prevent it from drifting into
a bad disposition, it is imperative that we use the instrument which the Buddha named
What is meant by Kammatthana?
An easily intelligible interpretation defines it as a means to train the human mind to be
tranquil. It is a formula for mental exercise. However, a literal interpretation according
to the Buddha, renders it as a task to be accomplished by the mind or a task to be
accomplished by man through his mind. It falls into 2 types:
3.1 Samatha Kammatthna :
This means a procedure
for tranquilization of the mind by means of attaching it to a given disposition or a given
object instead of allowing it to wander from one thing to another and turn a person into a
scatterbrain. Under this rubric, the Buddha demonstrated 40 methods by which or 40 things
to which the mind can be tethered, there being a diversity of mental foundations. As the
saying goes, "What is one man's meat is another man's poison'' or "Nn Citta" (people are different in their mentality). In this
connexion, the Buddha classified mental foundations into 6 types each with a different
3.1.1 Those who are haughty, enamoured of
beauty, pleased with beautiful things and cleanliness, desirous of things which are
agreeable to their body and mind, and attached to orderliness. Their disposition is ''Rga-carita'' (Sensual).
3.1.2 Those who are irritable, peevish, agile, fluent and outspoken and inclined to get
others into trouble. Their disposition is ''Dosa-carita'' (Irritable).
3.1.3 Those who are forgetful, unmindful, affected by errors in speaking, untidy in their
work habit, lethargic, not agile or inactive and disorderly in their work. Their
disposition is "Moha-carita" (Delusive).
3.1.4 Those who are gullible and inclined to believe what others say. Their belief is
based on neither principles nor the use of the intellect, and they take others' words for
what constitutes merit-making or a sinful act. Their disposition is ''saddh-carita'' (Faithful).
3.1.5 Those who are, for instance quickwitted, brilliant, blessed with a photographic
memory and a ready and accurate grasp of things, self- confident and possessed of such
attributes as a flair for all things and a ready ability to see through persons. Their
disposition is ''Buddhi- carita'' (Awakened).
3.1.6 Those who are unduly anxious, obsessed, up in the clouds, lacking in
self-confidence, undecided, hesitant and affected with an inability to have a full grasp
of things and irresolute even after reflection. Their disposition is
these 6 types of disposition may be said their mental groundwork or habit or ingrained
nature; but it must be understood that usually people are affected by some disposition or
other according to circumstances. The Buddha, nevertheless, characterized a person
according to a given disposition by virtue of its dominant manifestation.
In order to enable a person to reap reasonable benefit from Kammatthna in conformity with their disposition,
the Buddha demonstrated as many as 40 different stances or things to which the mind can be
3.2 Vipassan Kammatthna:
This means the use of the
intellect to ponder over things in their true perspective with a view to relinquishing
eventually delusive love and hatred and infatuation with things. The Buddha specified as
many as 73 things to be contemplated in the process.
However, in this context,
we shall take up only Samatha Kammatthna , as the objectives of teaching schoolchildren Kammatthana and
of persuading them to practise it solely what follows:
3.2.1 A desire to enable schoolchildren to concentrate their metal power which is
dissipated, wasted and under-utilized on a daily basis for the purpose of its optimum use.
This is because such mental power is like an ordinary system, In its natural state a
torrent is less devastating than a smaller quantity of water which is pumped through a
pipe. Piped water, compressed and propelled as it is, has an enhanced capacity to
devastate things. The concentrated human mind is of the same nature; but to be so
forceful, the mind requires resoluteness and perseverance for its prime motive power.
3.2.2 A wish to See schoolchildren avail themselves of the power mentioned above to
concentrate their disposition of mind on whatever they are doing. This may, for instance,
be studying, listening to a lecture or familiarizing themselves with textbooks, This is to
avert situation where schoolchildren sit in class-rooms, while their minds wander about
out-side, thereby interrupting and detracting from the full impact of their thinking and
learning processes, In this connexion, schoolchildren can see for themselves that their
class-mates manifest incredibly differing levels of performance despite the fact that the
time spent in class, the textbooks used and the teachers involved are identical. This is
by virtue of differences in mental behaviour of schoolchildren some of whom are tranquil
while others are given to flights of fancy while studying.
3.2.3 An urge to see to it that schoolchildren can find mental tranquillity, as their body
and mind have toiled all day long. While sometime their body has taken a rest, their mind
has not. If this happens too frequently, their corporal and mental health is bound to
suffer. While their bodily deterioration may not be too intractable. Impairment of mental
health could entail an ultimate loss of the entire personality. Those who have due regard
for their own welfare should thus maintain their corporal and mental health intact through
due recreation, treatment and protection of their body and mind. There is no more
effective method of exercising, treating and protecting one's mind than the practice of
Dhamma or Kammatthna
since it helps the mind to repose and find tranquillity to a degree proportional to its
3.2.4 An expectation to ensure that schoolchildren whose mind has been trained confine
their emotions and bodily and verbal behaviours within the limits of morality and laws
resist from giving free reins to such things as love and anger.
3.2.5 A hope to make sure that Kammatthna is used as a tool for marshalling mental power in support of
studies, as has been stated before. This is to enhance schoolchildren's power of, for
instance, retention, comprehension, decision and tackling quizzes.
3.2.6 An ambition to enable schoolchildren whose mind has been well-trained to avoid
anxiety, worry and trepidation over and submis-siveness to developments of their daily
life by maintaining their mind above these events except where they are directly affected.
3.2.7 A longing to see that schoolchildren develop a taste for Dhamma, mental tranquillity
and calm and to discover for themselves that there is no mundane taste comparable to that
ot Dhamma. Kammatthna is
an instrument which can readily be adopted by adherents of all religions. Practitioners of
Kammatthna count amongst
them Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Moslems, as the path to virtues can be taken to
advantage by all. While their means may differ, the end to be attained consists, in all
cases, of tranquillity, equanimity and mental immaculacy.
ourselves to the kind of meditation known as Samatha Kammatthna, why, it may well be asked as follow:
4. Is only one of the 40 methods or things to tranquilize the mind with
The answer is that there
are several reasons for this.
4.1 This type of meditation was used by the Buddha as the stepping-stone to attainment of
the ultimate status of Sammsambuddha (the Fully Self-enlightened One).
4.2 This sort of meditation, viewed as something to which our mind can be tethered, is
inherent in man. We need not bother to search it out, as it is at our fingertips and on
4.3 It is the kind of meditation currently and formerly popular with practitioners.
4.4 It is the type of meditation which is in keeping with a variety of dispositions. It
can be practised to advantage by people regardless of the nature of their disposition.
4.5 This method is neither unduly difficult nor complex. It produces particularly
distinctive results, and it would be difficult for it to lead schoolchildren astray.
How does one call this type of Kammatthana ?
It is known as npnasati Kammatthna'' or "npnasati
Bhvan" meaning "concentrating the mind
on inhaled and exhaled air."