The Important of Right Attention


revised on 2019-05-26


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 14th January 1959

[Sayadaw started his talk with the 4-dhamma verses composed by him. (1) Any conditioned phenomenon (saṅkhāra) is impermanent and truth of dukkha. (2) Taking impermanence as me and mine become attachment, the cause of dukkha(samudaya). (3) All the impermanent of mind-body cease is Nibbāna. (4) Knowing the ending is Path Knowledge. These 4-verses are about the Four Noble Truths and also describe the practice.

In the beginning of the practice, it is to watch the breath and calm the mind down. Most of his many closed disciples under his training had to develop up to upacāra samādhi (access or neighborhood concentration) for sometime. And then develop insight. But in most of his talks for general public, he asked them to do it for about 20 or 30 minutes. It was depended on people’s situations. For vipassanā, by watching the breath, then a saṅkhāra dhamma arises from the 6-sense doors, e.g., a thought, as soon as a thought arises, knowing the breath disappears. By observing the thought it’s ceased already.

In this process without the disappearance of watching the breath, thought can’t arise. So the observing mind is also anicca. After the thought arises by observing it and also ceases. So the observing mind is seeing impermanence of the thought. The observing mind is yonisomanasikāra – right attention. At that moment it has 5-factors; i.e., sammādiṭṭhi – right view, sammāsaṅkappa – right thought, sammāsati – right mindfulness, sammāvāyāma – right effort and sammāsamādhi – right concentration. By seeing anicca (impermanence), dukkha (suffering), anatta (not-self), asubha (loathsome), anyone of the characteristics, then the yogi penetrates the dhamma. All of them are dukkha. Sāriputta gave a simile of the foot print of the elephant. (see the Mahā-hatthipadopama Sutta – the Great Elephant Foot Print Discourse, Sutta No. 28, Majjhima Nikāya, MN 28). Any foot print of an animal will fall into the foot print of the elephant. (i.e., similar to dukkha)

According to Sayadaw, yonisomanasikāra is right attention or right contemplation, equal to sammādiṭṭhi. Know anicca as anicca, dukkha as dukkha and anatta as anatta. In Sayadaw’s own words ~ “If the reality and the knowing are equal, it’s yonisomanasikāra. Then the Truth of Dukkha (Dukkha Sacca) and the Truth of the Path (Magga Sacca) arise. If not equal to the reality, then ignorance (avijjā) and craving (taṇhā) arise – Samudaya Sacca or Dukkha Sacca and Samudaya Sacca arise.”]

If you discern impermanence you are a 3-rooted person (tihetuka) and also know the truth of dukkha (Dukkha Sacca) (Tihetuka – a person was born with 3-wholesome roots, i.e., non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion.). Because, any conditioned phenomenon is impermanent and the truth of dukkha (He recited the first verse as mentioned in the beginning.). A person with yoniso (right attention) is seeing anicca. (Some Pali words became Burmese words but using in short form, such as yoniso=yonisomanasikāra). Having yoniso means knowing impermanence as impermanence, dukkha as dukkha and anatta as anatta, whatever mind arises not noting as mind but as dukkha arises. At first watch with mindfulness (sati). During the watching, the mind or material phenomenon, one of them will arise. Only the watching mind not exist that another mind can arise. Therefore, the watching mind is impermanent. Again with the watching mind to contemplate the arising mind and then the arising mind is not there anymore. This is not a nothingness concept (abhava paññatti). By contemplating the existence to non-existence is vipassanā. The watching mind is the right attention mind (yonisomanasikāra). Pay attention to the process that is from existence to non-existence. Know the impermanence as impermanence. It is becoming jhānato – passato (contemplation and knowing). In the Saṃyuttanikāya, it explained as a contemplation and knowing person. Doing vipassanā is the task of right attention.

The first watching mind ceases and then another mind can arise. If no mind arises one will die. And then again the watching yoniso mind contemplates the new arising mind. At this time, know the arising mind of its existence to non-existence. Therefore, right attention is vipassanā because of knowing anicca as anicca – seeing impermanence. Ignorance (not knowing), craving (greed), this me/this mine (wrong views) are dying away. Therefore, the Buddha said that yoniso is right view (Sammādiṭṭhi). So, right attention is right view. Every time discerns anicca with the 5-path factors, and then you are in right attention. It becomes developing the contemplation (bhāve tabba). Don’t be in the situation of what I have to contemplate. Even the Buddha taught differently according to different people. Watching whatever arising is becoming yoniso. The beginning of vipassanā is right attention. In some places what the Buddha taught on yoniso was knowledge because the 5-path factors come in together. On the 3-universal characteristics of phenomena whichever one you discern, in the end, it’s the Noble Truth of Dukkha (Dukkha Sacca).

In the Sāriputta’s teaching of Hatthipadopama Sutta, all the foot prints of other animals go inside the elephant’s foot print. In the same way all conditioned dhammas go inside the Noble Truth of Dukkha. Therefore, in the beginning of practice, we see the truth of dukkha. So we are contemplating the truth.

(Sayadaw recited the 4-verses of the Four Noble Truth composed by him.)
(1) Any conditioned phenomenon is anicca and the truth of dukkha.
(2) Take impermanence as me and mine become the cause of dukkha (samudaya).
(3) All the impermanence of mine/body cease is Nibbāna.
(4) Knowing the ending is Path Knowledge.

By seeing impermanence, knowing the truth of dukkha as disgusting and useless, and then getting the knowledge of the truth (Sacca Ñāṇa). [Usually Sayadaw translated dukkha as duk=disgusting, kha=useless, dukkha=disgusting and useless] By knowing the nature of oppressive (pīḷanaṭṭha), then get the knowledge of functioning (Kicca Ñāṇa). Continue to practice and seeing the ending of dukkha, then getting the Kata Ñāṇa. The ending of dukkha is Nibbāna (Nirodha Sacca). The knowledge of knowing the ending is the Path Knowledge (Magga Ñāṇa).

In the Suttas and commentaries there were including many ways for practice. In the end with the inclusion of yoniso is enough. Some were only for the bhikkhus. No need for the lay people to follow. In vipassanā for you all is catching the (1) with (2). (1) is the arising of the object of vipassanā, and (2) is yoniso. The beginning of vipassanā is yoniso. The meaning of yoniso is suitability. It’s the word coming out from the reality and the knowing or right contemplation. If you want to realize Nibbāna, just do the knowing of in accordance with the reality. (Just knowing the reality)


revised on 2019-05-26; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4028&p=35557#p35557 (posted on 2018-12-14)


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