Category Archives: Dhamma Lesson

Shame: Hiri, Fear: Ottappa

Shame: Hiri, Fear: Ottappa

3. Hiri (Shame) And 4. Ottapa (Fear)

To feel ashamed to do evil is hiri; dread or fear to do evil is ottappa. Hiri is evident in those who value their honour and dignity. Ottappa is evident in those who respect their parents, teachers, friends and relatives.

Further clarification is as follows:

When one reasons, “I belong to a good family. So, I should not indulge in unwholesome deeds, nor earn my living as a fisherman or as a hunter.” Thus he feels ashamed to resort to indecent livelihood and maintain the honor of his family, or clan. The educated will reason thus, “We are learned persons; we should feel ashamed of unwholesome acts of doing bad deeds. We must refrain from killing, stealing, etc.” The aged will reason thus, “We are old, and ought to be mature and wise. If we commit evil we will come into shameful situations.” These three instances show the dominance of hiri, a wholesome mental factor, in those who value their honor and dignity. Those who are considerate of others will reason, “If I do evil, my parents, friends, relatives, and teachers will be blamed because of me. Therefore I will not do any evil. I will avoid misdeeds.” This is a fine example of ottappa. So a person acquires hiri and ottappa by means of sympathetic considerations for others and by holding the honor and dignity of his close acquaintances. But if you have no sympathetic consideration for your family, teachers, etc., you lack both hiri and ottappa and you will do many evil deeds in your life. Hiri and ottappa protect you from immoralities putting restraints on son from misconduct with mother as well as on brother from committing sin with sister. They are regarded, therefore as two great guardians of the world (Lokapala Dhamma) protecting you from immoralities. So they are pure and wholesome ideals, known as Sukka Dhamma. These two Dhamma keep human beings in moral discipline and moral restraint that distinguish them from animals. Without hiri and ottappa, mankind will sink into evil depths and be reduced to the state of animals. Today many people are void of moral shame and dread so that they dress, eat and behave indecently. If this moral decay continues to proliferate, the world will soon end in complete ruin. For mankind will turn into animals.  

False Hiri and Ottappa

Although moral shame and moral fear are wholesome mental factors (kusala cetasika) there are also false ones. Shame or fear to do evil deeds, abstinence from evil actions (ducarita) are due to true hiri and true ottappa. Shame and dread to keep Sabbath, to visit pagodas and monasteries (to go to church), to listen to Dhamma talks, to speak in public, to do manual (not ashamed of being unemployed and starving) labor, or boy meeting girls, etc., are false hiri and ottappa. In fact they are pretensions and vain pride. According to Abhidhamma they all are collectively taken as a form of tanha.

Four Cases Where Shame Should be Disregard

In texts mention is made of four cases where one should discard shame: i. In trade and commerce
ii. In learning under a competent teacher
iii. In partaking of food
iv. In making love
These cases are mentioned to emphasize the point that one should be hold doing something of benefit. No commitments are made on whether they are moral or immoral. Other instances of hiri and ottappa are fear of courts and judges, reluctance to visits the lavatory while traveling, fear of dogs, fear of ghosts, fear on unknown places, fear of opposite sex, fear of elders and parents, fear of speaking in the presence of elders, etc. These are not genuine fear or shame. Indeed they are mere lack of nerve or confidence, a collection of akusala (unwholesome) states propelled by domanassa.

The Middle Way

The above explanation will clarify the fact that only genuine shame and fear are to be cultivated. There should neither be shame nor fear doing deeds not unwholesome. But this does not mean one must be reckless and bold in every case. Recklessness leads to disrespect for elders, anger, hatred and conceit. While moral courage and fearlessness are to be praised, recklessness and disrespect are to be blamed. Fruitless boldness, disrespect and vain courage are undesirable; one should be bold and fearless only in doing good deeds. Excess of shame and fear are equally undesirable. There is a middle path for all to follow. One is not to be fearless in circumstances that they should have fear; and one should not be feared and become fearless of what should be feared.”

Mindfulness / sati

Mindfulness: Sati

2. Sati (Mindfulness)

Recollection, remembering or heedfulness, are definitive terms for mindfulness which is known as sati in Pali. There are various forms of sati. For example, one recalls the meritorious deeds performed in the past; one listens attentively so that one can remember the Dhamma discourses. While meditating, one concentrates deeply not to lose the object of meditation. Such is the nature of sati. Sometimes you look forward to meritorious deeds to be done tomorrow or in the future. You take care to observe morality (Sila) and do not breach any precepts. You are mindful to restrain the arising or greed, pride and ignorance. You recall the counsels of your teachers. Only such forms of mindfulness concerning wholesome matters are collectively called sati (mindfulness). Such true mindfulness is also called appamada – without remissness, watchfulness, vigilance. Therefore when a bhikkhu administers Síla precepts to lay devotees, he always reminds thus at the end of giving precepts, “Appamadena sampadetha – be ye without remissness in doing meritorious deeds.” The Tathagata taught thus, “Sati khvaham bhikkhave sabbatthikam vadami – O Bhikkhus, mindfulness is essential in every act.” Though there may be instances of being over faithful, there can never be over-mindfulness. When the Buddha was about to enter PariNibbána, his last words summed up the very essence of his teachings (Dhamma), that is, “Appamadena sampadetha – be always vigilant and watchful in every act.”

Mere Remembrance is Not Sati!

When a person remembers his relatives, when lovers yearns for one another, when friends remember to keep appointments, when one recalls some precious moments, etc. all such remembrances have the nature of attachment (tanha). When one remembers to take revenge for injuries done to one, when one keeps in mind atrocious plans; when one pays heed to possible dangers that may befall en route to a destination; such cases reveal hatred (dosa) as the base. Any form of the aforesaid mental factors being accompanied by attachment or hatred, cannot be classified as true mindfulness (sati). The above are the examples of sanna (memorizing, minding) or vitakka (purposeful thinking); they are not to be mistaken for sati. The natures of sanna and vitakka will be explained in the chapters to come.

Faith: Saddha

Faith: Saddha

1. Saddha (Faith)

If you believe what is logical you will develop saddha (faith). It has two characteristics, belief and clarity of mind.

a. Belief

Wrong belief rejects the truth of kamma and its results, the truth of existence of the past and the future lives; the Omniscience of the Buddha, a human personage, who knows all these truths, his teachings, the Dhamma and his disciples, the Sangha. Such rejections are total disbelief which is different from vicikiccha, the skeptical doubt with partial acceptance. Here faith (saddha) means belief in kamma and its result. Saddha is also called “Saddhadhimokkha” (decision based on full faith in things if real nature) it is also a wholesome mental factor (kusala cetasika).

b. Clarity of Mind

The second characteristics of saddha is clarity of mind. While giving alms or observing precepts, or meditating, one’s mind becomes filled with faith and clear. It’s just as a ruby of the Universal Monarch, when put in a muddy water, will cause the impurities and sediments to sink and make the water to become crystal clear, so also saddha will eliminate all doubts, skepticism, and other mental defilements and purity the mind. Such is the skeptical doubt with partial acceptance. Even children and some pet animal, even though they cannot understand the first characteristics of saddha, will perform good deeds in emulation of their elders and teachers. So they will pay homage to the Ti-Ratana (Three Jewels), offer alms, and do service to others. While doing such good deeds they enjoy the fruits of the second characteristics, clarity of mind. Even unbelievers sometimes do acts of generosity such as donations to social services, like hospitals, orphanage, homes for the aged, etc. and enjoy clarity of mind. 

Note:Please study about true saddha in detail in the chapter on Carita (mature or Habitual conduct) where saddhacarita is further explained.   

False Faith

True faith consists of purity of mind and belief in the truth of Dhamma. But there is also false belief in the world. For example some unscrupulous person may proclaim that a Buddha statue or a pagoda is emanating radiance in order to lure people to give donations. People who are made to believe in bogus scared relics, heretics who believe in their erroneous doctrines, etc. do not have true faith. They are just misled due to their ignorance, stupidity, naivety or simplicity, and this is to be categorized as moha (delusion), which is an akusala cetaiksa (unwholesome mental factor) People who have faith in good orators, or in monks and hermits with elegant appearance and pleasant voices who can dispense good magic, charms, or medicines, are not true believers. This is moha based on lust and intimacy. Such false faiths are classified in the Pali texts as muddhappasanna (deluded devotion).

Note:    Today, the world is abound with liars and swindlers. In some religions new and singular doctrines are affluent; in Buddhism also some impersonators invent novel doctrines, new modes of meditation and mystic medicine to trick ignorant devotees and naïve persons. When people give alms and money to such liars, such cheats, their acts stem from lust and delusion, not genuine faith. Because wise persons do not care to go against these tricksters, they become more and more popular day by day. “Yo balavatiya saddhaya samannagato avisaDanano, so muddhappasanno hoti na avecca pasanno; tathahi avatthusemim pasidati, seyyathapi titthiya” ~ Ekanipata Anguttara Tika Nowadays, women often take the leading role in matter relating to charity and religious rituals, without pondering whether this be appropriate or not. One must not believe blindly. Careful reasoning should precede faith and devotion. So everyone should endeavor to better their knowledge in religious affairs, including female devotees.

Confusion between Faith and Love

Today even virtuous persons confuse faith with love or affection. Many devotee will revere Dhamma teachers with pleasant voice and personalities who give good instructions. If they respect and honor them only for their good ethical conduct, it is saddha (faith). But if they become attached to such teachers like their own relatives it is mixture of faith and love. In Gotama Buddha’s time, disciples such as Venerable Vakkali and Minister Channa not only revered the Buddha but also loved him personally. So although faith was present in their hearts, there also was samyojana (attachment) which is unwholesome. Some people accept doctrines and instructions through personal attachment; such attachments sometimes can promote knowledge and wisdom and enhance fulfillment of parami perfections. If wholesome mental factors are cultivated on account of personal attachments, then it is beneficial. In the Patthana Pali it is said, “Akusalo dhamma kusalassa dhammassa upanissaya paccayena paccayo – unwholesome mental factors can support the formation of wholesome mental factors.” So even small unwholesome mental attachments can lead to good states of mind. In this view, teachers and preachers should teach the Dhamma with sincerity and goodwill to promote such developments. And disciples and devotees, on their part, should properly practise what is taught, so as to get beneficial results.

Wholesome Mental States / kusala

Wholesome Mental States: Kusala

There are fourteen (14) kusala cetasikas (wholesome mental factors), which are responsible for arising of wholesome consciousness:

1. Saddha (faith, confidence), 2. Sati (mindfulness, awareness), 3. Hiri (moral shame), 4. Ottappa (moral deed), 5. Alobha (non-greed, generosity), 6. Adosa (non-hatred, goodwill), 7. Amoha (non-deluded, wisdom), 8. Mettá (loving-kindness), 9. Karuna (compassion), 10. Mudita (sympathetic joy), 11. Upekkha (equanimity), 12. Samma vaca (right speech), 13. Samma kammanta (right action), 14. Samma ajiva (right livelihood)

Noble Eightfold Path

Noble Eightfold Path

  1. Right View (Samma Ditthi)
  2. Right Intention (Samma Sankappa)
  3. Right Speech (Samma Vaca)
  4. Right Action (Samma Kammanta)
  5. Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva)
  6. Right Effort (Samma Vayama)
  7. Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati)
  8. Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi)