Controlling the Mind


revised on 2019-08-12


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 10th October 1961

[Sayadaw based his talk from the Telapatta Sutta (oil bowl), Mahāvagga Saṃyutta (SN.47.20 Janapadakalyāṇīsuttaṃ). In the original sutta, it was simpler than here. We can see his creative mind of wisdom. The Buddha stayed at Sedaka Town in Sambha (Sumbha) Province. He gave instruction on mindfulness to the monks. A criminal was ordered by the king to carry a bowl full of oil and followed behind by the five executioners with swords in their hands.

If a drop of oil fell and he would be executed instantly on the spot. On the way he had to pass two places: a bar with drunkards and a dancing place performed by a very beautiful girl, with five qualities. In this simile, the criminal was yogi. The bowl full of oil was mediation objects (i.e., the five khandhas or the four Satipaṭṭhāna).

The five executioners were D. A. process (craving → clinging → action → birth → ageing and death). If he spilled one drop of oil would be killed by them or unmindful of the objects and khandha process continued. Bar and dancing girl were yathābhūta ñāṇa and nibbidā ñāṇa respectively. If he had passed these two places and freed from death (yogi realizes Nibbāna).

Sayadaw was using this simile for instruction on the practice. Observe it if any hindrance comes in. Here like the criminal sometimes with the lacking of full awareness, and the bowl would slant a little. And he had to instantly straighten it back again. ]

Vipassanā practice appears only within the Buddha Dispensation (sāsana). We are also encountering it. Now, we meet a good teacher. So continue to practice hard and surely you will be succeeded. Do not believe in the pāramī (perfections) have to be fulfilled slowly.

The Buddha also gave you guarantee for success as within seven years, seven months and seven days. I want to remind you that do not waste this period of your life with son, daughter, family and business matters. It would be like losing the most precious thing. The Buddha was reminding of the important of ñāṇa must go straight in the practice. You have to catch it up quickly with ñāṇa when a phenomenon arises.

The Buddha said that impermanence and ñāṇa were not separating could finish the practice within seven days. Complete with prayer and practice (with pāramī) in the morning and will realize the Dhamma in the evening. Why do not we get it? May be ñāṇa is not going straight towards impermanence. Anicca and magga are not in straight line. In connection with this point the Buddha taught the Telapatta Sutta. (Here Sayadaw was using cittānupassanā to explain the Sutta).

Thirteen types of mind are representing the oil bowl. [According to Sayadaw’s method, the 13 types of mind are: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and bodily consciousness (5 external minds); Greed, anger, delusion, non-greed, non-anger and thinking (6 internal minds); Breathing in and out minds (2 primary minds)].

Contemplate the impermanence of whatever arises from the six senses doors. Do not let the mind go away to other place. If it is going towards outside objects or to the five cords of sensual pleasure and craving, clinging and action (taṇhā, upādāna and kamma) will kill you.

So, the mind goes out is very bad indeed. If you contemplate feeling and the three types of feeling are the oil bowl. If you do not separate impermanence and magga; “Is there any kilesa to come in between them?” Going outside of the satipaṭṭhāna objects will encounter aging, sickness and death. The mind not going out is a victory. It is quite important. It means the oil does not spill if D. A. process does not continue. I am not talking it for at other times. It is just for the period of vipassanā practice.

In the beginning of sitting just do the breathing in and breathing out. Knowing the breath comes in and goes out. Contemplate it if a mind arises. Go back to the in and out breaths if nothing arises. Contemplation of feeling is also in the same way. The object of contemplation is like the oil bowl. The completive mind (ñāṇa) is like the criminal. D. A. process is like the executioner.

This practice has to be done for a long period of time? It is not. Have to pass through these two groups of people (i.e., the bar with drunkards and spectators watching the dancing girl). You have to pass through the seeing of impermanence and its disenchantment. After pass through them and arrive at the Path Knowledge. If the mind is turning towards other sense

objects and have to contemplate their impermanence. This was straightening back the oil bowl when slanting. It came from the Saṁyutta Nikāya. I have to talk again from the Aṅguttara Nikāya. Don’t let kilesa come in during the contemplation of impermanence.

The main point is the same. Do not let the oil spill or not let kilesa come in. Make a determination of not letting kilesa come in for 15 or 30 minutes during the sitting mediation. After that, increase gradually the sitting period of time.


revised on 2019-08-12; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4084&p=35758#p35758 (posted on 2019-01-14)


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