The Four Taints

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 4th Dec.1959

Craving (tanhā)is the cause of dukkha and has companions with it. These are the 4-Taints (āsava). They are leading one dukkha to another dukkha.

The taints are:

(1). The taint of sensual pleasure (kāmāsava)
(2). The taint of becoming (bhavāsava)
(3). The taint of wrong view (diṭṭhāsava)
(4). The taint of ignorance (avijjāsava).

If the 4-taints are not extinct, then dukkha also without extinction. They will connect dukkhas without any gap (anantara paccayo). Between death and birth without any gap (This is the Patthāna method in the Abhidhamma. Later Buddhists had the intermediate state, i.e antara bhāva). By Suttanta method these are connecting by the taints; death and birth, death and birth….etc. with suffering liked a circle, without any goodness. Send living beings to this life and that life is the flood of sensuality(kamogha).

Enjoyment in any life is the flood of existence (bhavogha) (Here these 2 floods; i.e kamogha and bhavogha which mentioned in the commentary and explained by Sayadaw are not the same. May be Sayadaw used it in a more practical purpose.) In any life attachment to family members and wealth as my son, my daughter and my belongings is the flood of view (diṭṭhogha). In any life don’t know the truth is the flood of ignorance (avijjogha). All living beings are suffering from the 4-floods. Therefore, the extinction of the taints is only in Nibbāna. Now you have the ears of able to understand the teachings and a teacher who can teach. So you only need for practice. If you don’t it’s a great loss and miss the chance. These opportunities will not easy to come by in the next life and also not easy to get. If you do not practice and give a lot of reasons for it, then you are under the influence and control by the taints.

Ālavaka, the ogre (yakkha) asked the Buddha; “How to cross over the 4-floods?” With faith (saddhā) and believe that Four Noble Truths are really exist and can be realized with the practice. Practice with un-negligent mindfulness, effort and wisdom (apamada sati, viriya, paññā). The Buddha said that impermanent dukkha was in the body. With confidence and looking into the body; you will find it. If you see it and the floods will be ceased. With mindfulness and observing impermanence continuously dukkha will end. I will show you how to cut off the taints.

(Sayadaw used the Ven. Sona’s story for the practice.) With over effort (viriya), concentration (samādhi) become weak and don’t want to continue, so laziness come in. Become lazy (kosajja) with the practice. Adjust viriya and samādhi and send it towards impermanence. You are sure to see impermanence. They are only helpers for wisdom. Seeing impermanence is the function of wisdom (paññā). Another pair for tuning (adjustment) are faith (saddhā) and wisdom. Over intelligent and doing things with one’s own idea is not right. Have faith in the Buddha and the Dhamma, let it lead by wisdom. Over faith becomes blind faith and can go wrong. As an example, people made mistake with blind faith on Bāhiya and things were happened what should not be. The Buddha gave the guarantee that after making adjustment with the 4 factors (saddhā and wisdom, viriya and samādhi) and practiced would realize the Dhamma. Mindfulness is never excessive. This was one of the evidences that in meditation without a teacher is impossible (Sona’s story). So faith, energy, mindfulness, serenity(samādhi) and wisdom are the 5 spiritual faculties (indriya). If you can turn them in the practice you will overcome the 4-floods. This was the sure guarantee gave by the Buddha.

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