Lawrence Soosai S.J.

SENSE-FACULTIES AND BUDDHISM: We human beings encounter, experience and enjoy realities around us through our five sense faculties (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body) and their coordinator the mind. In Buddhism, the mind is also considered as a sense faculty since it can reproduce mentally, the objects of all the five sense faculties through memory, imagination, ideation and reflection. Hence, the number of sense faculties is counted as six in Buddhism. According to the Buddha, for an individual, who is a combination of five dimensions (which we will see later), the six sense faculties and their respective objects make up the whole of Universe and once these six faculties are no more, the Universe too is non existent for that individual. Thus in Buddhism, the six sense faculties in a human being along with his constitutive five dimensions, form the basis for existence, knowledge, moral action, suffering, happiness, rebirth and final liberation (Nibbana).

WE AND OUR SENSES: In our day today life we all know, how important our sense faculties are. We interact and learn about Nature and all existing realities through our senses. We enjoy and cherish the beauty and wonders of all that exists by means of our senses. Our eyes delight in attractive sights; our ears enjoy melodious sounds; our nose looks for sweet fragrances; tongue craves for tasty foods; body longs for warm touches; and our mind, through memory, recollection and imagination indulges in the pleasures and enjoyments of all the above mentioned senses. Though enjoying pleasures through all our senses is approved in all the religions, over-indulgences in sensual pleasures is not approved by any religion. Moderation in the enjoyment of sensual pleasures is thus advised in all the religions.

That we enjoy pleasures through objects that are pleasing to our senses is a common knowledge.  Also it is true that we long for or crave for or desire things which are pleasing to our senses. But it is also a fact that there are things in life which are displeasing to our senses. Our natural reaction to things that are displeasing to us is aversion or rejection or sometimes even hatred. And there are also things in life, about which we do not have any knowledge or understanding. Towards such things we are generally neutral. For example, if we hear somebody speaking an unknown and strange language,  we may like or dislike the sound of the language but with regard to its meaning we will be totally unaware and so we will be neutral (neither liking nor disliking) towards it. From these deliberations, we understand the truth that liking or disliking a thing very much depends on our knowledge or understanding of that thing and that towards things in life we respond in three ways, namely, liking or disliking or in a neutral way based on the knowledge we have of them. And this basic psychological truth that based on our knowledge of things that we interact with, we like or dislike or be neutral to them and that right knowledge of things (Wisdom) is very much necessary for our appropriate and healthy dealings with them is the pivotal point in Buddhist morality and spirituality.

BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSALITY: According to the Buddha the psychological roots of craving for things we like; hatred for things we dislike and the ignorance of why we like and dislike things, are the negative mental motives or roots which cause all our sufferings. And detachment, compassion and wisdom are the mental roots which cause happiness and liberation in us. Therefore the Buddha suggests that we constantly remove these negative mental states (craving, hatred and ignorance) through meditation and refill our hearts and mind with detachment, generosity, compassion, and wisdom. Now the questions that arise are, why and how do the negative mental roots of craving, hatred and ignorance arise in our minds? And how can we replace them with positive qualities of detachment, generosity, compassion and wisdom? To answer these questions, the Buddha has discovered Human Psycho Mechanics based on Human Psycho Dynamics through which we can understand who a human being is and how he interacts with himself and the world through his senses and how he becomes happy or unhappy.

As mentioned above, the Buddhist Human Psycho Mechanics is based on Buddhist Human Psycho Dynamics which is nothing but the way all the psychological constituents (as stated by the Buddha) of a human being operate when its senses come in contact with objects and beings in the world and the types of psychological results that are produced by such operations.   The main aim of this essay is, to discuss the Buddhist Human Psycho Mechanics which is based on the theory of Buddhist Psychological Causality in human morality and spirituality (which is a principle derived from Buddhist Human Psycho Dynamics) so that the Buddha’s solution to have mastery over our psychological phenomena of suffering and tranquility, is clearly brought out as far as possible. The Buddhist Theory of Psychological Causality is the principle that the human psychological phenomena of suffering and happiness are brought out by psychological causes and conditions which can be created or controlled by human beings themselves. And if one has the wisdom to know the causes and conditions of suffering and happiness then he can be happy by creating the causes and conditions that produce happiness and by eradicating causes and conditions that produce suffering.  If the Buddhist Theory of Psychological Causality helps us to create causes and conditions that lead us to happiness, is it not worthwhile to learn about it?  Therefore in this paper I have tried to explain Buddhist Psycho Mechanics which uses the Buddhist Theory of Psychological Causality to be happy and peaceful by avoiding suffering and sorrow. To know the Buddhist Theory of Psychological Causality, firstly we have to know Buddhist Psycho Dynamics.  If then, what is Buddhist Psycho Dynamics?

Buddhist Human Psychology:  Before we discuss about Buddhist Psycho Dynamics, it is necessary for us that we come to know the basic Buddhist Human Psychology. According to the Buddha, a human being (Nmarpa) is made up of two major units, namely, Material(rpa) or Body and Mental (nma) or Mind Units. Further the Material (rpa) or Body unit is constituted of the four primary material elements, namely, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire in their various combinations in the different parts of the body. And the Mind (nma) is consisted of four immaterial dimensions, namely, Feelings (Vedan), Perceptions (Sa), Mental Formations (Sakhra) and Consciousness (Via).  Therefore the five main dimensions of a human being as discovered by the Buddha are Body, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness. All these five dimensions are inter-dependent and their union into a single component (Nmarpa) is called a human being.

Apart from these five dimensions, there are also six sense faculties (as mentioned above) in a human being through which he interacts with things and living beings in the world which are also made up of material and mental dimensions. Now the two important questions that have to be answered are: 1) For what purpose, a human being interacts with the world through its senses and 2) What are the characteristics of the types of interactions that our senses have with the things and living beings of this world? To answer these questions, first we have to discuss about the various needs and requirements that human beings have in this world.

NEEDS OF HUMAN BEINGS: In the manner, each and every living being looks for sustenance, security, wellbeing and growth human beings too seek for security and wellbeing of both of their dimensions of Body and Mind. Since they are made up of both material and mental aspects, human beings require both material and mental needs, namely food, clothing, resting place, procreation, medicine, physical and mental rest, dignity, honor and peace. All these physical and mental needs and requirements can be briefly termed as needs of health and happiness. When all these needs are met, a human being feels healthy and happy. To meet these needs human beings strive for both material resources and psychological resources (psychological enrichment and empowerment). Material resources include money, valuables, property and all that which make available material things necessary for human life.  Psychological resources include both internal and external atmospheres which enhance a sense of peace, happiness, security and hope for human beings. Internally a human being would look for self-esteem, self-confidence, importance and significance which can be termed as Psychological Security and externally every human being would expect for an environment of peace, co-operation, support, recognition, trust and confidence which can be termed as Socio-political Security.

In other words, for human beings who are constituted of material and mental dimensions Wealth or Material Resources or Economic Security enhances their material dimension where as Psychological Security and Socio-political Security (which can be combined together and said as Psycho-social Security) enhances their mental dimension. The way the material and mental dimensions of a human being are inter-connected and inter-dependent and function as one unit, the Economic Security and Psycho-social Security  of a human being too are so much inter-connected, inter-woven and inter-dependent that they  cumulatively contribute to the health and happiness of a person. Therefore we can say that the main purpose for which the human beings interact with the world through their senses is to gain Economic and Psycho-social Securities (both securities can together be termed as Wholesome Security) so that they can be healthy and happy.  Now the question that remains to be answered is to achieve their main purpose of life (Wholesome Security) how do human beings interact with the world through their senses? To answer this question first and foremost we have to know the relationship between the six Sense Faculties and the Mind in a human being and how they operate jointly when they come in contact with their respective objects.

BUDDHIST PSYCHO-DYNAMICS:  As we have seen earlier, in Buddhist understanding, a human being is constituted of five dimensions, namely, Body, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations and Consciousness. According to Theravda Buddhism, the six sense faculties, namely, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and memory( imagination, etc) are situated in the physical sense organs of eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin and heart base (having the mind), respectively. When a person is awake and active these six sense faculties  constantly influence and determine  the nature and dynamics of the five dimensions of that person.

For example, if the eyes of a conscious person come in contact with a beautiful and ripe mango, the coming together of the three, namely, the sense organ-eye, the sense object- mango and the consciousness of that person, produces the image or sense impression of that mango in the mind of that man. Immediately perception and feeling with regard to that mango arise in the man. With his previous experiences, if he perceives that mango to be good for both his physical as well as psychological dimensions then pleasant feelings will arise in him but if he perceives it to be bad for his both the dimensions then unpleasant feelings will arise in him. (a physical activity of eating a mango can produce both physical as well as psychological benefits; The mango can physically nourish the one who eats it and as well as can make him happy mentally). Suppose if he has no previous knowledge about mangoes, then he may study and investigate the truths about mangoes; once he has collected the truth about mangoes, he might reason out (mental formations) whether a mango with such and such qualities would be helpful to him or harmful to him. And once he has made the judgment, he would make the decision (with some intention and volition- aspects of mental formations) whether to eat that mango or to discard it.  Once he has made a decision, he would actualize the decision by doing according to his decision.  In this case, he might either eat (bodily action) the mango or discard it. Here we see how a simple act of a sense organ (the eye, seeing a mango) influence and activate the five dimensions of a human being.

PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHIST PSYCHO- DYNAMICS: From the above description, we come to know how much inter-connected and inter-related the five dimensions of a human being are with the sense faculties. The same psycho-dynamics (operation between senses and the five dimensions of a human being) takes place when other sense organs, like ear, nose, tongue, skin and mind of a human being come in contact consciously with their respective sense objects, namely, sound, smell, taste, touch and memory. The various steps of the above mentioned psycho-dynamics could be noted as:

1) Contact (between sense organ, sense object and Consciousness)
2) Sense Impression of the object in the mind of the person
3) Perception and Feeling about the object (according to the Buddha perception and feeling arise simultaneously)
4) Thinking, reasoning out, judging, decision making, Volition (all these are aspects of Mental Formations which denote mental action)
5) Physical Action (either through speech or bodily action)

In the 5 steps mentioned above, we see that before the physical action (of speech or any bodily activity) is done the mental action of judging and decision- making (with some intention or motivation) takes place first. According to the Buddha each and every external moral action, necessarily has to be preceded by corresponding mental action in the form of judging, intending, willing and decision- making. In fact, for the Buddha, primarily, the mental action of willing (volition) and decision- making in itself is action already done; and speech and bodily actions are just mere external expressions of that action done internally.  Further for any decision making (in other words for any moral action to be done), knowledge about the things or individuals about whom the decision is made and the disposition and intention of the decision- maker (in short, Wisdom of that person) are very important. Though the sense organs, sense impressions and the corresponding feelings they generate are also very important and very powerful in any moral action, they are just the initial factors of moral actions. But the key and master factor or the deciding factor which finally helps the doer to choose which type of action to be done is his knowledge, experience, judgment and discernment concerning the issue at hand. In other words, the Wisdom of an individual is the root or the key factor that helps that individual to choose the right or wrong course of action at all circumstances.  

Now it is a fact that people differ in their level of Wisdom and therefore the quality and morality of their actions too differs from person to person. A person with many experiences and sound Wisdom, when he is faced with pleasurable or painful feelings brought about by his senses, he doesn’t allow his senses to over-power him. On the contrary, he reasons out and discerns with his wisdom, in the given circumstances, as to what kind of action or actions will enhance his and others’ health and happiness (Economic and Psycho-social Securities) and would act accordingly for the welfare of all. On the other hand, people, who lack sufficient knowledge and wisdom about things as they truly are, will easily get over-powered by the pleasures or displeasures of their senses and end up doings things which are dictated by their senses and thus bring harm and suffering to themselves and others. To bring out the differences between the behaviors of people of different maturity levels we can give another example where three different persons react differently to the same object.


AN INFANT: Suppose there is a colorful and attractive but poisonous snake in the garden in front of a house. A two-year old infant, who doesn’t have any knowledge about snakes, sees that colorful snake (eye coming in contact with the object of snake in consciousness), it would get attracted towards the snake (perception and feeling) and might reach up to the snake to catch and play with it ( an action dictated by  sense-pleasure with out any discernment) . If the infant proceeds towards the snake, and if no adult stops the infant, then there is the danger of the snake biting the infant and causing death to the child. Similarly, an adult who is supposed to have necessary knowledge about things, when he encounters things with his senses, if he is over-powered by pleasures or displeasures brought out by his senses and constantly acts according to the dictates of his senses with out any discernment then he will have to face all the dangers and sufferings that would follow as consequences of his indulging in un-discerned sense-pleasures.

AN ADULT: Where as if an adult, with sufficient knowledge about poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, sees that same poisonous and attractive snake, (eye, encountering in consciousness the sense-object of snake), firstly, he would cautiously keep a safe distance from it with fear and reasoning (perception and Feeling). And then he would reason out (Volition-Mental Formations) as to whether it would be safe for his children and other human beings around if he were to leave the snake in its present place. If he concludes that the presence of that poisonous snake in that place could cause danger to all the people around, then he would decide either to kill the snake or to chase the snake to such a place from where it may not cause any danger to anybody (an action guided by wisdom in which welfare of all is taken into consideration). In the same way, an adult wise man, when he encounters people, events, issues he doesn’t go by merely external attraction and sense-pleasure potentials of the context, rather he would, after proper consideration, decide such a course of action which would benefit all including himself.

A SNAKE-EXPERT:  Suppose the same colorful but poisonous snake is seen by a snake-expert (coming together of eye, sense-object and consciousness), who regularly catches both poisonous and non-poisonous snakes and sells them to Zoological Research Centers, first of all, he would be delighted and happy to see such an attractive snake (perception and feeling). Then either with the intention of earning some money or with the concern of saving others from that snake, or with the intentions of both saving others and earning some money (Volition-Mental Formations) he would catch that snake skillfully and sell it to the appropriate place. Similarly, there are also skillful and wise people in the world, who prudently make use of the disadvantageous situations and transfer them to beneficial context for all.

Thus from the three cases given above, we see that people with different levels of knowledge, skills, experiences and wisdom respond differently to the same object. And also it is clear that wise people do not go by sensual attractions but by sensible attitudes which enhance all securities (both Economic and Psycho-social Securities) of all. Where as persons who are driven by their thirst for sense-pleasures or by their hatred for unpleasant things, they always end up doing things unwisely and fall into sufferings and sorrows. If blind pursuit of sense-pleasures (craving for sense-pleasures), always brings sufferings and sorrow, why do people go after it so excitedly and excessively? There are mainly two reasons for this. The first is our lack of Wisdom about things and people in life. Lack of wisdom is nothing but the ignorance of truth and true value of all phenomena in the world. And the second reason is the, delight and pleasure-seeking but pain and displeasure-avoiding deceptive and delusive nature of our senses.

LACK OF WISDOM OR IGNORANCE: In the example given above, the way the infant was drawn towards the colorful and attractive but poisonous snake, our senses too are drawn towards the delight, enjoyment and pleasures associated with things and people in the world and thereby we develop a sense of liking towards those things. But when things are not delightful to our senses, we dislike them and then we develop a feeling of hatred towards such objects. Thus our liking for objects produce attachments and craving in us and our dislike for objects produces hatred   in us. Thereafter, the objects that we are attached to generate craving and obsessions in us whenever our senses come into contact with those objects to which we are attached to. Then craving and obsessions for objects produce suffering and pain in us since we do not get what we crave for always and since even when we get them they do not stay with us permanently. Also craving for things can produce hatred in us by producing displeasure towards those who prevent us from getting what we crave for. Thus craving and hatred produced by our attachments to things bring us pain and sufferings. If attachments towards things produce in us craving and hatred- the root causes for our sufferings and pain, how can we free ourselves from our attachments? What makes our senses to get attached to certain objects? It is the value or the importance that we give for objects that makes us get attached or detached or hateful towards them. If so, based on what criterion, we give value to things and people in the world? Where do we store our values and criteria for judging things? How do our values influence our senses, feelings, perceptions, volition, decision-making and moral behaviors?


As we have mentioned earlier, human beings interact with the world through their senses for the purpose of acquiring both Economic  and Psycho-social securities ( Wholesome Security)  so that they can be healthy and happy. Hence the criterion of Wholesome Security becomes a deciding factor for people to give value to things. Based on their sense experiences, social up-bringing, traditions and education, people judge the potentials of a thing to bring Wholesome Security to them, and  accordingly they give value and  importance to it (this mental and moral activity and can be referred to as value-construction). The important point to be noted here is, that the value a person gives to a thing may be right or wrong (since his lack of experience and bias can influence his interior activity of value-construction) but whatever value he gives to things that will certainly influence his feelings, thinking-pattern and behaviors everyway.

This kind of value-construction, attitude-formation, inclination, orientation and determination towards things and people in the world become part and parcel of Mental-Formations of a person, which we have mentioned earlier as one of the five dimensions of a human being. These constituent aspects of Mental Formations in a person, namely, values, attitudes, inclinations, orientations and determinations become a driving or directing force when he interacts with the things of the world through his senses. As a result, the other four dimensions of a human being, namely, Feelings, Perceptions, Consciousness, Body as well as  his moral actions are influenced and determined by the dominating forces of his Mental Formations.

  Since the Mental Formations of a person, which includes his values, attitudes and inclinations, play a decisive role in his interactions with the world through his senses, the interior activities of value-construction and attitude-formation in a person with regards to things in the world are very important and crucial. This can be explained by showing how the values and attitudes that people construct towards things can affect their thinking as well as behaving.  As we know Money is one of the many things which play a significant role in the life of each and every human being.  Now let us take this one phenomenon of money and discuss how the values and attitudes that people construct about this money affect their, perception, feeling, thinking, willing, decision-making and behaving.


As mentioned earlier, we human beings need both economic as well as psycho-social securities. Money is one of the things that can enhance our economic security by providing us almost all the material needs we are in need of. And there are also people in the world who think and believe that acquiring a large amount of money can ensure not only their economic security but also their psycho-social security. Now let us take a person of such thinking into our consideration. Such an individual thinks that money can fetch all the things necessary for his life and thus it would provide the Wholesome Security that human beings look for in this world. And certainly he would give a lot of importance and value to money in his life. He might even value money as God since he thinks it can provide everything in life and because of that he might build an attitude, disposition and inclination that he should acquire money in every way possible. And he might also conceive a belief that any method of obtaining money is okay as long as he can get a large amount of it in a short period of time.

A person with such attitudes, values and inclination towards money will look for every opportunity to acquire money in any way possible. Now let us see how such a man would think and behave if he encounters a situation of a promise of a bribe of a large sum of money for an unlawful favor to be done by him:

1)To such a man, if another person shows a briefcase full of money and tells him that all that money will be given to him as a gift (bribe) provided he would grant an unlawful favor to the latter. And that he can take a week’s time to decide on this matter. (Sense organs of eye and ear coming consciously in contact with the object of offer of a large amount of money)
2)In such a situation, that man who values money so much, would perceive that as a wonderful opportunity to acquire quick money and would be delighted and elated to see that briefcase full of money. (perception and feeling in that man)
3)Now that man will start thinking how nice it will be to have all that money; such and such a way he will start dreaming, planning, imagining all kinds of thinks that he can do with that money. He will get so obsessed with the idea of that money that, day and night he will be so much pre-occupied with the thought of that money. The more and more he thinks about that money, more and more he gets attached to that money strongly and his craving for that money increases uncontrollably.
4)Although at intervals his mind, may reason out that money obtained through immoral ways could land him in trouble, his attachment and craving towards that money over powers him and he
falls back into obsessive longing for that money. Not one or two days but the whole week he keeps remembering the briefcase full of money and gets engulfed by it.(According to the Buddha, this kind of obsessive thinking of a person towards something out of craving for that thing, in itself is a suffering since this obsessive thinking arrests his freedom and peace of mind.) All these mental activities are directed and dominated by the Mental Formations of that person which has a strong attitude for acquiring money in every way.
5)Finally over-powered  by his craving for money he mentally decides to take that bribe in exchange for granting that requested unlawful favor. ( action is done firstly  as mental action)
6)Then he executes that action externally by assuring by speech and then by granting that unlawful favor and by receiving the bribery.

Thus a moral action is done by that man out of his craving for money. Thereafter, what are the consequences that can happen on account of that action? 

a)It can happen that as soon as he gets the bribery somebody else could steel that whole amount of money from him. If that happens, he would be heart-broken and will be in great sorrow.
b)But let us suppose, that money was not stolen and that he could use the entire money to build up his Economic Security greatly. And he tells himself that he will have no more difficulties in the world.
c)But sooner or later, it can happen that the legal authorities might come and arrest him for taking bribery and might stamp on him imprisonment for a long period.
d) But even if  the legal authorities remain unaware of his immoral action, yet it is a possibility that the man who bribed can constantly threaten this man that he could expose at anytime the latter’s immoral action of taking a huge amount of money as bribery. In such a situation, one who took the bribe has to be in constant fear of getting caught at anytime.
e)Even if the man who bribed doesn’t threaten, if ever a calamity (like, a sudden death of any dear or near ones) happens in the life of the one who took the bribe, it is possible that the latter would interpret it as a punishment for his evil action of taking a bribe.
f)Thus looking at the various possibilities as mentioned above, the person who took the bribe could suffer from any one or all of these negative feelings of constant quilt, fear, pain, sorrow and regrets.
g)According to the Buddha, a man even if he escapes from punishments for his evil deeds in this life, he will have to face the consequences of his evil action in his future life.       

From the above discussion these facts are very clear that an immoral action leads to many types of sufferings; that moral or immoral actions are guided and directed by the values and attitudes that people have towards things in life; and false, unrealistic and disproportionate values lead people to unwise and unwholesome moral actions which in turn bring them a lot of sufferings, sorrows and pain.  Now we can discuss about a wise man as to how he would deal with the phenomenon of money in his life.

TRUE VALUE FOR MONEY: As we have seen earlier, in our human existence money is very important and necessary for our Economic Security which ensures almost all our material needs. Yet just money alone cannot achieve all that we are in need of in our life. Especially, the Psycho-social Security that we long for very much in our life is born of our moral, righteous, honest and spiritual living that we practice. So to earn our Psycho-social Security we have to practice honesty and righteousness in all the aspects of our life. Our pursuit for Economic Security also should be done through hard work and honesty. Quick and shortcut methods of acquiring money will be not even imagined by a righteous man. Understanding these facts of life, a wise man will give appropriate value to money and tries to earn it through hard work and honesty. He would build up such an attitude and value system that he would consider character and honor more important than wealth and luxury. He would always strive for his Wholesome Security keeping both his Economic Security and Psycho-social Security to advance hand in hand simultaneously.

To such a wise person, if somebody offers bribery like the previous case, he would not get delighted or enthusiastic about that situation but would try to avoid and reject the offer as immediately as possible. But that doesn’t mean a wise man will not have any temptation at all.

Suppose if that wise man is not that strong financially, and suddenly one of his near or dear ones falls sick, and a costly operation has to be done to cure the sick, and in the thick of this serious situation, another man comes with the proposal of a huge amount of money as a bribe in exchange of an illegal act to be done, then such a situation could be truly a great tempting time for that wise man.

In that critical situation, the wise man may be in a dilemma and confusion for a few hours or days and may be in doubt as to what decision to take. But with patience, mindfully he will discern as to which decision of him will bring true welfare for himself and for all concerned and would take a wise decision to reject the bribe. And he would look for alternative sources for money so that his dear one can be saved as well as his honor and dignity is also maintained.  In this manner, since a wise man always takes a decision with much mindfulness, discernment and wisdom he avoids sufferings and enjoys mental peace most of the time of his life.

Thus from the above example, we are sure that the value-system we construct in our mind towards things in the world affects our feeling, thinking and behavior towards the world. If we hold an appropriate and correct value system towards things in life, then our behavior will be wholesome and based on wisdom. But if our value-system is in-correct and based on our mere sensual pleasure or displeasure and ignorance then our behavior will be unwholesome and it will lead us into sufferings, pain and sorrows. Therefore if we want to avoid pain and sufferings in our life we have to build up correct and realistic value systems towards things of the world by knowing them as they truly are; in other words we have to grow in wisdom. Along with that we have to also master our senses which delight in pleasures, hate displeasures and get confused in delusion.  So then how can we grow in wisdom and also can tame our senses to be equanimous towards both pleasures and displeasures?  Has the Buddha taught any spiritual art to cultivate our mind and to tame our senses to grow in wisdom, compassion and peace?  The answer is yes. It is the spiritual art of Mindfulness Meditation.


According to the Buddha Meditation is a process of culturing or developing our mind.  Since our mind is in constant interaction with the world through the senses, it is in continuous turmoil and restlessness like a monkey that keeps constantly jumping from one tree to another in the forest. The pleasant and unpleasant sensual impressions that constantly impinge our mind through our senses produce disturbances and anxieties in us. When our mind is disturbed and restless, it cannot perceive things as they truly are and as a result we relate with things unwisely and pain and sorrow follow us on account of that. To avoid pain, sorrow and suffering we have to think and act wisely; to think and act wisely we have to perceive things as they truly are; to perceive things as they truly are our mind has to be calm, composed and clear. It is to bring calmness and clarity into our mind the Buddha advices Mindfulness Meditation for all human beings. Through Mindfulness Meditation our mind is cultured to be calm and clear so that we can perceive things as they truly are and can act wisely and wholesomely and thus can promote the Wholesome Security of all.

I have termed the art of Mindfulness Meditation of the Buddha as Buddhist Psycho- Mechanics since his Mindfulness Meditation is nothing but the gaining of mastery over our Psycho-Dynamics so that we can tame our mind and control our senses to think, feel, will and act always with the wholesome motivations of detachment, compassion and wisdom which alone promote the welfare and Wholesome Security of all. As we have seen in the beginning, the Buddhist Psycho-Dynamics is the psychological operation between a human being with his five dimensions (Body, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness) on one side and his six senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin(body) and mind) on the other side.

And we also noted earlier the various steps that take place in the Human Psycho-Dynamics, namely:

a)Sense organs of our body in consciousness encountering their respective sense-objects,
b)Sense impression of the object falling on to the mind,
c)Arising of perception of the object in the mind based on previous experiences of the same object and the simultaneous arising of corresponding feelings (pleasant or unpleasant) in the mind,
d)Thinking, investigating, reasoning, judging, discerning as to what kind of decision to be taken about the course of action;  once any decision is made   mental action is done ( all these activities are part of Mental Formations)
e)Next external or physical action takes place (either through speech or bodily action)
f)From this it is certain that always a moral action is firstly decided upon inside the mind with particular motivation or intention and then it is executed externally through words or deeds. Actions done accidently without any pre-meditation or pre-planning are not considered as moral actions in Buddhism.
g) Also we mentioned earlier that our value-systems or wisdom with regard to things in the world, influence our perceptions and feelings towards things,
h)And if we are not wise and vigilant our senses will push us to follow their craving or aversion  for things; and if we follow the craving or aversion of our senses then sufferings and sorrow will certainly follow us;
i)Whereas if we think and act with detachment, compassion and wisdom then health and happiness will follow us always. 

Taking all these above mentioned facts and truths of Human Psycho-Dynamics into consideration,  the question that arises is, in the hustle and bustle of our everyday life how can we always operate with the wholesome motivations of detachment, compassion and wisdom so that we can have Wholesome Security always and make others too happy and healthy ?. This would require that we are constantly aware of the five dimensions of our individuality (Body, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations and Consciousness); Keep in check our sense faculties from craving and hating; make constant efforts to eradicate unwholesome mental states of greed, hatred and illusion and instead develop wholesome mental states of detachment, generosity, compassion and wisdom.  And above all, we should master the skill of knowing things as they truly are so that we can give accurate and exact value to each and everything that is connected with our life in this world.

To achieve the above mentioned liberating aspects of our psycho-spiritual life the Buddha has prescribed Mindfulness Meditations for the whole humanity.

FOUR ESTABLISHMENTS (OBJECTS) OF MINDFULNESS MEDITATION: In the Satipahna Sutta the Buddha advocates Four Establishments of Mindfulness for every person so that each individual person can be mindful of his entire personality as well as the entire mental and material realities that surround him in this Universe so that he can gain mastery over himself, that is over his thoughts and behaviours. The Four Objects of Mindfulness as prescribed by the Buddha are: 1) Body 2) Feeling 3) State of Mind and 4) Mental Contents.

    This contemplation of the Body is done in six different ways.  They are:

a) Mindfulness of Breathing,
b) Mindfulness of the Bodily Postures
c) Mindfulness on all functions of the Body
d) Mindfulness on the parts of the Body
e) Mindfulness on the four primary material elements of the Body and
f) The Cemetery Contemplations on the various stages of a decaying dead human Body.

The first three Mindfulness Meditations given above (a,b,c) help a person to calm down his body and mind and to grow in tranquility, silence, concentration and one-pointedness of the mind. In fact these three Meditations help a person to begin the skill of Mindfulness and to get well established in it. The skill of Mindfulness is very important in Buddhism to grow in the path of Liberation. Referring to the importance of Mindfulness in the path of Liberation, Venerable Nyanaponika Thera says:

      Mindfulness, then is the unfailing master key for knowing the mind, and is thus the
      starting point; the perfect tool for shaping the mind, and is thus the focal point; the
      lofty manifestation of the achieved  freedom of the mind, and is thus the culminating

Therefore at this stage, it is necessary that we clarify exactly the meaning and the practice of Mindfulness. What exactly is Mindfulness?


Some of the terms that refer to the act of Mindfulness, are Bare Attention, Clear Comprehension, Self-observation, Dispassionate Self-observation, Meta-Consciousness and so on. Within ourselves when we are awake, the interaction between body, senses, sense- objects and mind goes on with the arising and falling of sensations, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. Our mind gets involved with the all the arising and falling phenomena that it gets carried away by the powerful sense impressions; forceful emotions; distorted perceptions; and dominating and unwise value systems. This involved or entangled mind can be called as the thinking mind or mind in bondage with the existential world.  But at the same time we have a self-observing and knowing mind too. This is a detached and free mind which can observe all the inner ever-changing phenomena without getting involved in them and it can be called as the Master or Wholesome mind.  The activity of this Master or Wholesome mind can be named as Mindfulness since it observes objectively all the activities of the body and mind without getting entangled with them.

Hence the activity of Mindfulness of the Wholesome mind is very important and essential to know the actual happenings inside a man; to check negative mental states; to develop positive mental states; to know things as they truly are; to take appropriate decisions; and thus to grow in wisdom as well as Liberation.


As we have mentioned earlier, the first three meditations of Contemplation on the Body, helps the Wholesome mind to emerge and get well established as a result, the chattering and restless mind is made calm and serene and in that condition the penetrative power of the Wholesome mind becomes very sharp and hence the every minute detail of the entangled mind is very well cognized by the Wholesome mind.  The concentrated Wholesome mind is now capable of doing other Mindfulness Meditations very effectively and fruitfully.

Through the Meditations of parts of the body and the various stages of decaying of the body, mind gets dis-interested, disenchanted and detached from the beauty and pleasures of human body. The impermanence of the body is also experienced by the mind by the contemplation of dead bodies. The contemplation on the four primary elements of the body makes the mind realize that there isn’t any substantial self within the human body. The realization that this body is just a combination of four primary material elements (earth, water, air and fire) and that this combination is impermanent and not self-sufficient, makes the mind to discard the illusion of an all important, all significant ego which hungers for power, praise, fame and glory.

As a whole, through these six Mindfulness Meditations, the restless mind is calmed and tranquilized and the concentrating attentive Wholesome mind is developed. Further the ugliness and the impermanence of human body is also experienced by the mind. As a result, the mind develops disenchantment and detachment towards human body. Consequently, the craving for sensual and sexual pleasure is very much reduced in the mind. Even craving for material things connected with the body, like good body shape, ornaments, costly clothes, good food etc all get reduced and the mind begins to see the truth of the body as it is-ugly and impermanent. Another important gain received through these Mediations is the melting away of the illusion of a self-centered ego which is the root cause for the craving for power, fame and glory and the spring-board for anger and revenge. Thus all these six Mindfulness Meditations on the Body make the mind calm, serene and concentrated; free from craving for sensual pleasures and material things connected with the body; and enlightened from the illusion of a permanent and glorious ego. With these qualities and capacities now the mind becomes able to be mindful of the other aspects of a human person. 

2) MINDFULNESS ON FEELINGS:  Here the mind with concentrative power is directed towards the feelings of the person at a given moment of time. As we have explained earlier, when a sense organ of a human person encounters a sense-object in consciousness, then the way that sense-object is perceived, accordingly and simultaneously the corresponding feeling- either unpleasant or pleasant or neutral feeling (pain or happiness or joy, etc) arises in the person.  So a feeling doesn’t arise on its own; for its arising, a sense- object and how it is perceived in consciousness are the important factors that influence the type of a feeling to arise. Therefore to understand the arisen feeling fully, the mind has to focus on the perception and the thinking that goes on about the sense-object in the mind. That leads the mind to be mindful about the mental states.

3) MINDFULNESS ON MENTAL STATES:  Here the mind is focused on the impact made by the sense-object as well as the feeling that arose, on the mind. It is kind of knowing the status of the mind-whether it is disturbed or peaceful; sad or happy; craving or contented; angry or compassionate; lazy or active and so on. The dispositions, the attitudes; the inclinations and the value system of the mind which is otherwise called as the Mental Formations are also paid attention to in this meditation. The main functions of the mind here are, the mind being aware of the actual condition or disposition of the engulfed mind also identifying the main issue or object that is affecting the mind in a given moment.
4) MINDFULNESS ON MENTAL-OBJECTS OR MENTAL CONTENTS: Here the issue or the content or the object of the mind which is affecting the present condition of the mind is taken for considerations, reflections, analysis and their causes and conditions are searched for. As it is, it is here that the things are tried to be known as they truly are. The reasons for the arising and falling of the present condition of the mind are also looked for. The true value of things is weighed here through insights into things and phenomena that affect our life. The three characteristics of all realities, namely, impermanence, suffering and non-self are also realized here by reflecting over the nature of the issues or objects that are affecting the mind here and now. Here through conscious analysis and reflection, the right value or the right view (wisdom) with regard to things are obtained. Thus, this fourth type of Buddha’s Mindfulness Meditation, helps an individual to evaluate his value systems and to correct and reform them according to the experiences and insights realized by his Wholesome mind.

Once the right view or wisdom into things are obtained in the Wholesome mind of an individual, then, whenever that individual encounters phenomena of this world then he would think, feel, judge, intent, speak or do things in accordance with his right view (wisdom) of things. Thus we see the Buddha’s prescription of Four Establishments of Mindfulness Meditations help an individual to practice all the aspects of the Eight-fold Noble Path which the Buddha proclaimed as the Fourth Noble Truth that leads humanity to peace and total Liberation. The direct link between Four Establishments of Mindfulness and the Eight-fold Path can be stated in the following manner:

1)Mindfulness on Body helps an individual to grow in his Right Concentration as we have shown above. Control over craving for sensual and sexual material things; and taming of the delusive ego in a person advances highly the concentrative power of that person.

2) Mindfulness on Feelings is being attentive to all the sense impressions that fall on the entire body and their corresponding responses and reactions inside the body.

This in turn expands, sharpens and intensifies the minding (being attentive) potentials of the mind and thus promotes the skill of Right Mindfulness in that person.
3)Mindfulness on Mental States helps the person to ascertain the actual inner conditions and status of his mind. This adds to his in-depth awareness of himself and so his Right Mindfulness increases. In this manner, both the Meditations of Mindfulness on Feelings and Mental States together strengthen Right Mindfulness in a person.
4)Mindfulness on Mental Contents is very crucial that it is here the true and right value of all phenomena that affect a person through his six sense doors are discerned and decided. Knowing the true value of all phenomena is nothing but gaining wisdom of the world. This involves collecting information, reasoning, analyzing and evaluating, discerning and deciding about things. All these activities are mental efforts and these are done with the aim of arriving at the truth and wisdom of things, therefore, they are Right Efforts.  Through these Right Efforts the truth about things are discovered by the mind. Thus the Mindfulness on Mental Contents promotes Right Efforts and in turn Right Efforts results in obtaining Right View with regard to all phenomena in the world.

From the above discussions we understand that the Four Establishments of Mindfulness directly build up Right Concentration, Right Mindfulness, Right Efforts and Right View in a person. Once a person is well trained in concentration, mindfulness, right efforts and right views then automatically he gains mastery over his thoughts, speech, actions, and livelihood. As a result he grows in Right Thoughts, Right Speech, Right Actions and Right Livelihood. This psychological mechanism proves the truth that once mind is mastered then everything else is mastered in human existence.  Also it proves the point that the Buddha’s Four Establishments of Mindfulness is indeed a Path to Liberation since it enables a person to effectively practice all the aspects of the Eight-fold Noble Path.


To understand how the Psycho-mechanics of the Buddha, in other words, his mental training of Four Establishment of Mindfulness, helps one to deal with his day to day problems and temptations, let us now take the problem of a man having a temptation to have sexual pleasure with an unlawful sexual partner.  As we all know, in almost all the religions and cultures a man is allowed to have sexual pleasure only with his legally married wife. And he is strictly prohibited to have any sexual pleasure with any woman other than his wife.  In such a society, let us now consider a married man who is being allured and enticed by a woman who is not his wife to have sexual pleasure:

1)This woman with beautiful features entices this man, with her alluring eyes, tempting words uttered in a sweet voice and with inviting mannerisms. (The sense organs of the two eyes and the ear of the man come in contact consciously with the sense object of this alluring and enticing woman.
2)The image of this tempting woman with her various attractive features falls on the mind of this man. As a result he is excited, delighted and highly elated to look at the woman. (Here it will be relevant to mention Buddha’s remark about sexual attraction between a man and a woman. According to him, a woman’s body is the object from which all the senses of a man take complete pleasure and the vice versa is also true that a man’s body is the object from which all the senses of a woman enjoy total pleasures. AN) So at the sight of this tempting woman this man gets over excited and perceives this occasion as a great opportunity to have a feast for his senses and his thoughts go wild.
3)Now he gets obsessed with the thoughts of the woman that he is infatuated and remains completely lost in the woman. Though that woman has gone away from the sight of his external eyes, he recalls her image in his mind and takes mental pleasure by having all kinds of romantic imaginations with her. At times his sense of morality pricks him by asking the question in his mind that how he can think of the immoral act of having sex with a woman other than his wife. But his craving for sexual pleasure overpowers him and therefore he tries to justify his craving with many false concepts, selfish value systems and short-sighted sensual gains. Some of the false and selfish concepts and value systems with which he may justify himself are:

a)Getting tied up with just one woman through marriage is really suffocating and therefore I should have sexual experience even outside the marriage once in a while; or
b)As long as I do not force any woman, whatever I may do with a woman is okay; or
c)It is a kind and human act to satisfy a hungry woman;
d)As long as I can hide things from my wife then everything else is okay; etc

In this manner, each man can construct his own false and selfish value systems, according to his own needs, upbringing, education and social norms. Using this type of false and selfish value systems usually a man deceives himself and gets carried away by the force and pull of his craving for sexual pleasure. 

All this while, in the man about whom we are discussing here, his involved mind is very active and he doesn’t give a chance to his Wholesome mind to take care of the situation. Even at this, if he practices the Buddha’s Four Establishments of Mindfulness, then he would become aware of his actual situation, and could correct himself by taking the right and wholesome decision with regard to that temptation to have sex with that woman outside his marriage. But many do not know this spiritual practice of Four Establishments of Mindfulness and therefore succumb to the forces of their senses without any self-awareness.

4)The man in question, overcome by his craving for sexual pleasure, supported by his selfish and false value systems, decides to have sex with that woman and now in his mind he plans the time and the place where he can commit that evil act with her. (Here again, it is shown here that any human action first takes place mentally and then it is expressed externally. The Buddha said, “ Bhikkhus, that one can engage in sensual pleasures without sensual desires, without perceptions of sensual desire, without thoughts of sensual desire- that is impossible.” MN 22)
5)Finally that man physically commits that evil action with the woman. 

Though the man may console himself saying that the evil act was done secretly, as the Buddha has stated, “sensual pleasures provide little gratification, much suffering and despair and that the danger in them is still more” (MN-22), troubles will start trickling in for him slowly. To mention a few: his wife may come to know of his infidelity and ask for a divorce; the woman with whom he committed the evil act may start blackmailing him; his reputation in society may go down; he may acquire any disease which the woman in question may have had and so on. He will realize these words of Dhammapada to be true in his life: “Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, no where in the world, is there a place where one may escape from the results of evil deeds (Dhp-127).


Now let us now consider the same man and see what would have happened if he were to practice the Buddha’s Four Establishments of Mindfulness in the midst of his temptation to have sexual pleasure with that woman who is not his wife?

1)When his senses (eyes and ear) encounter that inviting woman he is delighted and excited and his body is in agitation. Even after that woman is gone away from the sight of his physical eyes, he recalls her in his mind and takes pleasure by imagining about her.
2)In this situation, if he begins to practice Mindfulness on his breathing, his Wholesome mind emerges slowly and he becomes aware of his actual condition. By becoming aware of the excitement and the agitation in his body, he would come to know the sexual craving that has arisen in him. By being mindful of his body-postures and all functions of his body he would be aware that how much his sexual craving is bothering him.
3)Then by practicing the Mindfulness Meditation on his body parts and by meditating on the dead human bodies  in various stages of decay, he would develop disenchantment and aversion towards human bodies as well as towards bodily pleasures; in turn he would start developing distaste towards the body of that tempting woman. As a consequence, the pull and force of his craving for sexual pleasure will decrease in him and he becomes more and more master of his situation. (For according to the Buddha, our mere awareness of our thoughts and feelings in itself controls the intensity and the direction of our feelings and thoughts. MN-2)
4)Further by doing Mindfulness Meditations on his feelings and mental states, he would come to know exactly the actual condition of his mind, heart, disposition and inclination. It may be possible that by now with the development of mindfulness in him, the force of his craving for sexual pleasure with that tempting woman may have considerably decreased, yet there could be still some dilemma and confusion in him with regard to the moral value of having sex with a woman other than his wife.
5)This confusion may be taken by him for his Mindfulness Meditation on his mental contents. Here through analysis, reflection and discernment he would try find out the truth and true value about human body, sexual pleasure and specially about having sexual pleasure outside his marriage. His realization of impermanence and sufferings connected with human body and sexual pleasure will make him all the more wise to consider things in their right perspective. With mindfulness and patience he would consider :  

-whether having sex outside his marriage, will promote the welfare of him, his wife, his children, that tempting woman and all concerned with his life;
-whether such an act will enhance his Psycho-social Security;
-whether it would enhance his physical and mental health and happiness; etc

When a person reflects and discerns in such a manner with diligence and calmness of mind, he becomes wiser and always decides and does things that would promote the welfare of all beings not just human beings alone. Thus we see in this particular case of  a man having a temptation to have immoral sexual pleasure, is saved  from the temptation and is made wiser and master of the situation by practicing the Buddha’s Psycho-mechanics which is the Four Establishments of Mindfulness.   In this manner the Buddha’s Mindfulness Meditations help an individual to master his day today moral struggles as well as his life-long diseases of craving, hatred and delusion and lead him to Nibbna, the final Liberation.

CONCLUSION:  The Buddhist Psycho-mechanics is a healing or corrective method based on Buddhist psycho-dynamics. The way the principles of Motor-mechanics help a Motor-mechanic to repair vehicles and engines that run on motors, Buddhist Psycho-mechanics help a person to repair- or to say in other words- to put in order his mental disorders and negativities that cause him sufferings and turmoil. We have seen above in this essay that in the interactions between human sense faculties (mind included) and the phenomena of the world, the craving and hating reactions of the mind in ignorance, cause sufferings and pain to an individual; and that the craving and hating responses of the mind are influenced by the knowing or unknowing of phenomena as they truly are by the individual. When the individual, is unwise and knows not things as they truly are then his dealings with things are improper and unwise and experiences pain and sufferings as a result. Whereas when a person is wise and knows things as they truly are then he deals with things with detachment and compassion as a result he experiences peace and tranquility always. One of the main reasons, why our mind is unable to know things as they truly are is because our mind is unmindful of inside and outside realities since it is in constant disturbance and restlessness due to various likes and dislikes. Hence the remedy has to begin from the mind becoming mindful of itself and the world.

The objective of Buddhist Psycho-mechanics, which involves the Buddha’s Four Establishments of Mindfulness, is exactly that.   As we have discussed above the Four Establishments of Mindfulness Mediations, first of all, train the mind of a person to be calm, concentrated and mindful. As the person grows more and more in his mindfulness, his introspective awareness of himself (his Body, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations and Consciousness) increases in him. As a result his Wholesome mind which cognizes all his interior realities, develops stronger and stronger. Now he quickly picks up the negative thoughts and emotions that arise in him and immediately makes efforts to replace them with thoughts of detachment and compassion in equanimity. These mental efforts instill in him mastery over the drive, force and power of his sense-faculties.  His detached reflections and analysis into his mental contents (issues that affect him) will fetch him true knowledge into things as all beings being impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless. As he grows in this insight and wisdom, detachment, and compassion towards all beings and humility towards himself will swell up in his heart and mind.  Once he is full of detachment, generosity, compassion and humility (selflessness), he is liberated and becomes a liberator of others.