Inward Exploration

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 25th September 1962, 28th November 1960 1st to 2nd December 1960

[Sayadaw gave these talks (here 4 talks) based on the Sammasana Sutta of Nidānavagga Samyutta. The Buddha asked the monks was did they engage in inward exploration. One of the monks answered as he explored the 32-parts of the body. But the way he explained did not satisfy the Buddha. So he taught the monks how to engage in inward exploration.]


The khandhas are impermanent nature. By not knowing it we were born as blind, and will die as blind people. Don’t die as worldlings but as sekha and asekha (sekha=trainee, 3 lower grades of noble disciples. Asekha = one beyond training, i.e an arahant), and will be ended dukkha. It’s important to explore oneself. This was taught by the Buddha in Kurus (present day New Delhi Area). One of the monks explored the 32 parts of the body but the dhamma standard was low. The Buddha wanted them to explore the truth (i.e sacca). There are a lot of ageing & death in the body. 28 material phenomena (physical body) and 53 minds [ These 53 are according to the Abhidhamma. 52 mental factors (cetasikas) + with one consciousness (citta)] dhammas are due to old and die. It becomes apparent that there is nothing, only the truth of dukkha exists. Ageing & death are truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca), and the contemplation is truth of the path (magga sacca).

Contemplate in this way the dhamma to Nibbāna appears. Continue to contemplate as where the ageing and death of the truth of dukkha comes from? Ageing & death dhamma come from the khandhas. Ageing and death is dukkha sacca, and the khandhas is samudaya sacca (Khandha is the cause of ageing and death). The knowing of it is magga sacca. People are praying for the khandha is the same as making the prayers to get dukkha sacca. Because the khandha is carrying ageing and death with it. You must pray for the ending of khandha, and I urge you for the practice. Continue to contemplate where is the khandha come from? In this way the dhamma for the practice is becoming apparent.

The Buddha was using the way of patiloma (The reverse order of Dependent Arising) to find the cause. It comes from the desire of becoming. Tanhā-craving is the source of dhamma. Khandha is dukkha sacca and tanhā is sumudaya sacca. Therefore, I have to warn you. Whatever wholesome merits you are doing don’t pray for the becoming. You will get the khandha and follow by ageing and death. Again contemplate where is tanhā coming from? It comes from the affection to the khandhas. We regard to the 5 khandhas as pleasant & desirable things.

That becomes craving for it. Not understanding the second section of the Dependent Arising that becomes affection. (Divide the 12 links of D.A will get the four sections. Avijja -> sankhara ->/ viññānaṁ->nāmarūpaṁ->salayatanaṁ->phassa->vedana->/tanhā->upādāna->kammabhava->/jati->jara, marana). (Here the 2nd section is from viññānaṁ to vedana). Therefore if you understand them & no affection to it. If you don’t understand them as truth of dukkha will attache to it. You have to correct the 2nd section. You all take it as truth of happiness. Because of that in the whole of saṁsāara it made us for crying.

We’ll contemplate the mind base (manayatana) in the second section. (Here Sayadaw taught cittānupassanā) We are affectionate to all the minds which are arising from the 6-sense doors that the 2nd section connects with the 3rd section (vedana ->tanhā). We must correct the wrong view regarding to the 2nd section. If you understand it as truth of dukkha, then 3rd & 4th Sections will not come. Contemplate all the minds arising as impermanence.


Ageing (jara) is heat element (tejo). Death (marana) is also heat element. The body becomes mature & die are heat element. The Buddha asked the monks to explore on ageing & death. These are truth of dukkha. In the body only had the truth of dukkha which he wanted them to investigate. Knowing it is magga sacca & it becomes 2 truths (dukkha & magga saccas) Burning alive is ageing (jara) & burning to die is death (marana). If you want to think at home just think about these things. Think about the reality with knowing. Where are they come from? Come from the khandha. So khandha is the cause & ageing & death is the result. Without khandha is without ageing & death. If you know this, again including the other 2 truths of samudaya & nirodha (The origin & cessation). You complete the 4 truths. Where is tanhā comes from? It comes from the eye (cakkhu), ear (sota), etc…, the 6 ayatanas (sense bases). It comes from the affectionate things of mind & body phenomena. (The 6-sense bases are mind & body) So tanhā is coming from the mind & body. Therefore ayatana is the cause (samudaya) & tanhā becomes the result (dukkha).

If the cause ceases & the result also. It’s the cessation (nirodha) & the knowing is knowledge (magga). (Therefore in every moment whatever is arising & contemplating we know the 4 truths). Again we know the 4 truths. If we don’t think about these things & don’t know the 4 truths, then we are living in the darkness & dying in the darkness. These are investigating for oneself. Thinking in the direct order is connecting the cause & result (i.e samudaya & dukkha). Knowing their cessations are nirodha & magga.

Affection comes from unwise attention (ayonisomanasikara). Tanhā comes because of taking them as permanence, happiness, self, health, safety (i.e nicca, sukha, atta, arogyan, khema). Because of craving we get the khandhas. Because of the khandhas we get ageing, sickness & death. Unwise attention is not vipassanā practice. Wise attention is vipassanā practice.

The Buddha said that he was arising into this world to teach people & these things were like beverages mixed with poisons. If you drink it will get sick & die. So the Buddha warned us not to drink it. Samsāric travelers are hungry people. They always die with never fulfill their thirst & hunger. Near to death they cling to this & that & die with it. The six-internal bases (ayatana); from eye (cakkhu) to body (kaya) are physical phenomena. Mind base is consciousness with mental factors. Condense all of them you get back the 5 khandhas. So contemplate the 5 khandhas as impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), not-self (anatta) & fearful (bhaya). In this way tanhā die, ageing & death cease (Sayadaw said this Sammasana Sutta is very good Dhamma. In his talks collection can see quite a few of them). In this sutta the Buddha taught 5 ways of insight contemplation. Contemplate the 5 khandhas as impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), not-self (anatta), fearful (bhaya) & disease (roga). Every time tanhā come in you know it, & this will lead to Nibbāna. Drinking the poison beverage or not is depending on using the insight contemplation or without it.


Ageing & death exist in the khandha. It’s truth of suffering (dukkha sacca). Thinking about their root source, find out, dig up & burn it down is good for us. I’ll show you the way of thinking & cutting off it. The teacher duty is to teach you until you understand it. After understanding & to practice is the yogi’s duty. We are afraid of ageing, sickness & death and can’t escape from it. Where is ageing, sickness & death come from? If you think about it backwardly will find the cause of origin (see the 12 links of D.A). This dhamma will end ageing, sickness & death. Ageing, sickness & death come from the 5 khandhas. Heat element is functioning for ageing. Warmth make it getting old & mature. All the existing body, teeth & head hairs are burning with it. It makes you sick & die. Temperature is increasing & becoming sick is the heat element. After come ageing & sickness with the heat retreat, blood drops & die. The cold heat element kills the person. So ageing, sickness & death born out from the khandha. Only foolish & stupid person desires the khandha. A place without the great 4 elements & khandha will be freed from ageing, sickness & death. Living beings don’t know that ageing, sickness & death are the truth of dukkha.

So they try to get it, and looking for death. Even they are not clever as animals. Animals are afraid of death & when they encounter dangers try to run away. But for human beings they are making merits & asking for ageing, sickness & death (These are very common in traditional Buddhists whatever their schools are praying for the happiness of human & heavenly beings). Not knowing the truth is becoming over craziness. Where is the 5 khandhas come from? It is from the wanting tanhā. People with craving for life don’t know the truth of dukkha & want to change life. They are only exchanging dukkha but they think it will lighter. All are the same 100kgm each. Suffering is the same as before. If the guide is not good, people will fall into abyss (Importance of teachers, & good to contemplate for all Buddhists whatever their traditions).

Where is tanhā come from? It is from the affectionate things. If you love your khandha, then it comes from it. If you love your family members, then it comes from them. In short it comes from the 6-internal bases (ayatana). Because of the affectionate things that tanhā come into being. Moment to moment born & die in the state of suffering is called the world (loka). Rounded like a ball is loka. In whatever state you are in will become affectionate to it. And then die without ever fulfilling your hunger & thirst. People die without any satisfaction (one of the meanings of dukkha is unsatisfactoriness). Contemplation of impermanence is the way of dispassion.


I ask you to work for discerning the truth. Without knowing it and samsāra is long. I will tell the differences between the one who knows and who doesn’t know. Someone is working for the enjoyment of existence doesn’t know the truth. Working for the cutting off existence is knowing the truth.

The Buddha emphasized the important of knowing the truth with an example. If someone who could teach you the truth & making a demand, you should follow it. The Buddha gave an example of the demand as using 900 spears everyday (in the morning time 300 spears, mid-day 300 spears & evening 300 spears) to spear you & then taught you the truth. These sufferings are incomparable to the samsāric dukkha (the sufferings will be encounter in the round of existences). If you know the first truth and free from the sufferings of the 4 painful rebirths (such as hell beings, animals, petas - many different types of ghost, asura). So you all should not take it lightly (what the Buddha had said). It was like a stick threw up into the sky & fell down randomly. (Sayadaw continued to talk the sutta)

King of the Death is in the khandha. Only by knowing the truth that you’ll not pray for it. Path knowledge is the real refuge. Only Nibbāna is free from the torturers. The 5 khandhas exist & ageing, sickness & death also exist with them. So the 5 khandhas are the truth of the cause (samudaya sacca) & ageing, sickness & death is the truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca). Without the 5 khandhas & there will be no ageing, sickness & death. Without them is the truth of cessation (nirodha sacca) & knowing about is the truth of the path (magga sacca). (Sayadaw continued to teach vipassanā contemplation) Whatever is arising contemplate as dukkha sacca. Viparinama lakkhanaṁ dukkha saccaṁ–The characteristic of change is Dukkha Saccaṁ–Truth of Dukkha. Feeling, mind & whatever come all are including in this truth which is the contemplation of the Dhamma (Dhamma nupassana).

On the impermanence, bending your hand is change (viparinama) & stretching your hand is also change. In sitting meditation, in the beginning if you want to do ānāpāna (mindfulness of breathing) you can. If you don’t & just watching the khandha. The khandha will show its nature. When it shows up contemplate as disease (rogato). After sometimes the whole body with a blip, blip, blip & like the boiling water. These are not pain & aches. This is the way of tigers watching & catching it preys. Whatever is new arising & you catch it. Watching is Samādhi & catching is paññā. This is the way of watching with Samādhi & catching with paññā. It’s called yugananda method. The method of sāmādhi & paññā are going together. Surely you will catch it. Insight practice is watching & catching. Practice to know means impermanence is arresting by you. Impermanence is anicca & knowing is magga. Continue the contemplation will become disenchantment. Before you were seeing other people deaths. Now you are seeing your own death.

After that you penetrate dukkha & the 5 khandhas disappear. Dukkha disappears and Nibbāna appears. This is completed with the 8 path factors. (i.e, Noble Eight Fold Path)

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