The Beginning of Beings

revised on 2020-03-05

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 25th October 1961

[In Sāvatthi, Jetavana Monastery, the Buddha said to the monks. It couldn’t be discerned the beginning of a living being but knew the causes of it. Sayadaw said there were a lot of arguments about this problem.

The Buddha was said to be known everything and why didn’t he knows that? He quoted the Buddha’s saying that if he traced it backwardly, only his life span was finished and would never come to an end.

But he knew the causes of the khandhas. It was ignorance and craving. It was more important to know this and could end dukkha. It’s important to distinguish what is essential and what is not. Find out the cause only will solve the problem and not with the result.

The Buddha gave an example; the water in the ocean could be dry up when the time came for the end of the world. But the life of a living being would never end if he couldn’t destroy ignorance and craving. This was one of the reasons why a living being couldn’t discern directly in the beginning.

He gave two other examples again. Mt. Meru and the earth could be disappeared but without destroyed ignorance and craving dukkha would never end.

Sayadaw using D. A. described the continuation of the khandhas. Ignorance, volitional formation, craving, clinging, action (avijjā, saṅkhāra, taṇhā, upādāna, kamma) → consciousness, name and form, sense bases, contact, feeling (viññāṇaṁ, nāma-rūpaṁ, saḷāyatanaṁ, phassa, vedanā — five khandhas) → ignorance…, etc. Saṁsāra is like this, on and on infinity. (This is very clear why the beginning of a living being is indiscernible.)

It’s also like a tree bears fruits. From the fruit a tree grows out, from a tree bear fruits, etc. The Buddha said we should first destroy diṭṭhi and later ignorance and then craving, because ignorance and craving were like the root of a tree. Diṭṭhi was like water supporting the root.

Supported by diṭṭhi, ignorance and craving became stronger and bigger. This is a very important point. After enter the stream and the advanced stages are not difficult anymore. With people experiences, the life of a sotāpanna is changing dramatically.

In this talk we can feel sayadaw’s concern and compassion for his two disciples who were leaving the place, after practising for sometimes. They were only at vipassanā ñāṇa, and like a young fruit easy to spoil. They should give their times for regular practice to be matured and reached the goal. Vipassanā ñāṇa is aniyata dhamma (unstable, it still may degenerate) and magga ñāṇa is niyata dhamma (stable, i.e., Nibbāna). ]

The Buddha said to the monks, it couldn’t see your own beginning. The beginning of this khandha saṁsāra was unknowable. This referred to the physical body saṁsāra (as living being). But he knew it causes. Even knowing of the body saṁsāra is not beneficial. It can bring saṁvega only and can’t lead to liberation. It’s beneficial to know the causes of its beginning.

By knowing the causes and has the benefit of stopping it. I will show the example of someone who can’t exterminate the beginning of the dhamma (i.e., ignorance and craving.) The third example is the great earth can be disappeared. Be without the ending of ignorance and craving, saṁsāra can’t end. It’s very fearful indeed.

So, practice hard for the ending of it. Even it’s not easy to know these dhamma. There are a lot of people who don’t know it. Even it is not easy to have the ability of ear for listening to these kinds of talk; for example, non-Buddhist countries. With knowing and not practicing is like having the medicine and not taking it.

So, it can’t cure the illness. Before looking at other’s faults; at first you have to know if you are free from it? We can discern the three characteristics only without the darkness of ignorance. This girl is pretty but no morality. Is it good? Here it also, with the knowing but not do the practice. No cessation of ignorance is, because we take the khandha as this is mine, this I am and this is my self. Diṭṭhi is leading and joining with taṇhā and avijjā supporting them by not knowing the true nature. So, we are making it as me and mine. Three of them are together. Ignorance and craving are making the khandha. Again from the khandha, ignorance and craving arise. Again khandha arises; it’s on and on never end.

The five causes are: ignorance, volitional formation, craving, clinging, action. The five results are: consciousness, name and form, sense bases, contact, feeling → infinity (without practice). It’s similar to a tree: Tree → fruit → tree → fruit, etc.

With round of existence (vaṭṭa): kilesa vaṭṭa → kamma vaṭṭa → vipāka vaṭṭa (defilement → action → khandha) → kilesa vaṭṭa → kamma vaṭṭa → vipāka vaṭṭa, etc. (Something similar to eating → excreting → eating → excreting, etc. on and on. What a mess?! This is saṅkhāra dukkha).

There are two views: atta diṭṭhi (self view) and anatta diṭṭhi (not self view). By seeing not-self view, ignorance and craving are not extinct yet. But you become a stream-enterer (sotāpanna) and are free from the planes of misery. After killing diṭṭhi, continue to kill ignorance and craving. You must do the work of the right path factors (sammā maggaṅga) and look for a spiritual friend (kalyāṇa-mitta).

The five wrong path factors (micchā maggaṅga) are: ignorance, volitional formation, craving, clinging, action. The right path factors couldn’t exist if the Buddha was not arsing. The right path factors can’t arise without associating with the disciples of the Buddha. The five path factors of insight right view are still young.

If it’s young, it could be spoiled like a fruit. Encountering with coarse objects, it becomes spoiled. It is similar to jhanic samādhi. With Path Knowledge (right view of the Path — magga sammā-diṭṭhi), it becomes stable. (niyata). Are the five path factors and the eight path factors far from each other? For someone doing the practice is not for enough. Not doing the practice, even the five path factors (i.e., vipassanā ñāṇa) will disappear.

It becomes insight knowledge because of the objects of the five khandhas. If happening like this, it destroys the poison fruits of the five wrong path factors (i.e., avijjā, saṅkhāra, taṇhā, upādāna, kamma). The five path factors become eight factors and future khandha will not arise.

revised on 2020-03-05; cited from (posted on 2019-01-14)

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