From Dukkha to Nibbāna

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th February 1961

Sayadaw explained Sankhata and Asankhata or Dukkha and Nibbāna. It’s interesing, simple and profound. There are only 2 Dhammas; i.e the conditioned (sankhata) and unconditioned (asankhata). The 5 khandhas (mind and body) are sankhata and Nibbāna is asankhata Dhammas. With sankhata the yogis see anicca and with asankhata the yogis are not seeing anicca. With sankhata dukkha not ends and with asankhata dukkha ends.

He used the simile to explain them and the process mentioned in the Questions and Answers between King Milinda and Ven. Nagasena. King Milinda asks Nagasena; “Does Nibbāna exist within the 3 periods of time past, presents, future?” Nagasena answers as; ”No, it was existing only for yogis practiced vipassanā.

It’s like using 2 pieces of bamboo rubbing continuously together. After sometime it becomes hotter and hotter but don’t stop it. There, and continue to rub until fire comes out.” In this simile, the person who was rubbing continuously the 2 pieces of bamboo was the vipassanā yogi.

The pieces of bamboo became hotter and hotter was like observing continuously anicca again and again until it became maturity. And then dukkha became clearer and disenchanted to it. After penetrated dukkha throughly and the yogi let go of the attachment to the khandhas (the sankhata).

After that the fire of Nibbāna (asankhata) appeared. At that moment the physical body was not disappeared. The process were mentioned in the Anguttara Nikāya and Visudhimagga. The yogi’s duty is continuously observe anicca (i.e bhavetabba). Nibbāna will appear naturally when it reach to the highest maturity.

Sankhata and Paticcasamupada are the same. All the khandhas arise together. Where are they coming from? Physical body comes from kamma, mind, temperature and foods. Mind comes from sense object and sense door. They all arise by causes. So mind and body are sankhata dhamma (conditioned phenomena). If the conditioned causes are finished and it will pass away. How long it have been now?

It’s uncountable. We are always living within the province of sankhata. So, we will live with arising and passing away. And we take it as good. This khandha is arising and passing away moment to moment. Therefore it’s sankhata dukkha-conditioned dukkha. This khandha is conditioning all the times without even rest for one second, because of the continuous destruction. Without conditioning and there is no replacement.

Therefore the khandha is called the paticcasamupana dhamma-resultant phenomenon. It’s the result of arising dhamma by conditioning. In the whole round of existence (saṁsāra) we were living without any rest and with birth and death all the times. We had never done vipassanā before and never seen our own birth and death. So you had never seen sankhata dukkha.

(In the 4 Noble Truths, Dukkha Sacca is a very interesting subject. Only we understand this truth we can let go of our attachment to things. Even we can condense the whole Pitakas into Dukkha and the Ending of Dukkha. So the truth of Dukkha is very important in our whole life for frequent contemplation.

There are 4 important meanings on truth of dukkha: ①Pilanato-opprssive nature; torture and torment the owner who attaches to the mind and body. ②Sankhatato — mind and body are conditioning by tanhā and torments by it. ③Santapato — the khandhas are always burning with the fire of craving ④ Viparinamato — tortured and tormented by changing.

Only you have seen sankhata dukkha will prefer asankhata Nibbāna. It’s covering up with ignorance that you can’t discern it. In this way everyday we take the khandhas as very good. Therefore I have to explain on sankhata. After go back home, sit and observe. The body is itching here and there, with sensation of impermanence. The body is consuming its time with sankhata dhamma.

People taking pleasure in it are enjoying with the truth of dukkha. Taking pleasure in birth and death, birth and death etc… (How stupid it’s?) Making payers for sankhata dukkha are really crazy and double blindness (Some Buddhists are like this. Even they don’t know they have wrong view).

If you don’t understand sankhata, will not appreciate and want to realize asankhata Nibbāna. Even whatever you are thinking about these things it will not happen. From sankhata you’ll arrive to asankhata. Therefore who never discovers sankhata will never arrive there.

Even though many Buddhas were arising before people who had never seen sankhata dukkha had been left behind. If you have never seen sankhata dukkha will never appreciate asankhata sukha. The desire to be there will never arise in the mind.

Also you can’t arrive there. Only by seeing sankhata dukkha that know one’s own miserable situation. Only then you want to be free from it. So you have to concentrate on the khandhas with knowledge. And you’ll only find out that except sankhara dukkha nothing is there. By transplanting with the ariyan’s eyes you’ll see it. Your natural eyes only see the ugliness and the beauty.

In sight practice will be finished with 2 factors. First, seeing sankhata and later you’ll see the transformation to the asankhata. Is it matured by paramis (past perfections) or discerned a lot of it? This knowledge (i.e, Path Knowledge) not turn toward sankhata (impermanent khandhas) but toward the cessation of sankhata (i.e, not seeing the khandhas). Impermanence of the khandhas still exist but the knowledge turn toward no khandhas exist. This point is very important.

So, you have to remember it carefully. You must observe a lot of impermanence. Don’t let the desire of I want Nibbāna to come in. Just observe sankhata. The way to Nibbāna is that all. There are only 2 dhammas. This was mentioned in the Dhammasangani (The first book of Abhidhamma);

Sankhata Dhamma and Asankhata Dhamma — Conditioned Phenomena and Unconditioned Phenomenon. (Sayadaw continued to talk on Nibbāna, a question posed by King Milinda and answer by Ven. Nāgasena) There are no fire inside the pieces of bamboo. By rubbing 2 of them and it becomes hot is like sankhata dukkha.

After sometimes it’s becoming too hot and the fire come out is like Nibbāna. Between the process, whatever knowledge is arising only within the province of sankhata. If you don’t want to follow the process of knowledges is up to you (i.e, 10 or 16 knowledges). Just contemplate the SANKHATA.

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