The Beginning of Beings

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 andcraving. This was one of the reason why the beginning of a living being couldn’t discern directly.

He gave 2 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, upadānā, kamma) → consciousness, name and form, sense bases, contact, feeling (viññāṇaṁ, nāma-rūpaṁ, salāyatanaṁ, phassa, vedana – 5 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, first to destroy diṭṭhi and later ignorance and craving. Because ignorance and craving were like the root of a tree. Diṭṭhi was like water supported 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 2 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, still can 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 saṁsarā was unknowable. This referred to the physical body saṁsarā (as living being). But he knew it causes. Even knowing of the body saṁsarā 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 3rd 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 don’t know it. Even it is not easy to have the ability of ear for listening these kinds of talk. For e.g. non-Buddhist countries. With knowing and not practicing is like has the medicine and not taking it.

So, it can’t cure the illness. Before looking at other’s faults; first has to know that am I free from it? We can discern the 3 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 5 causes are, ignorance, volitional formation, craving, clinging, action→The 5 result 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→ — — — —, etc. (Something similar to eating→excreting→eating→excreting, etc on and on. What a mess? This is saṅkhāra dukkha).

There are 2 views: atta diṭṭhi (self view) and anatta diṭṭhi (not self view). Seeing with the anatta diṭṭhi, ignorance and craving are not finishing yet. But becomes sotāpanna and free from the planes of misery. After killing diṭṭhi and continue to kill ignorance and craving. Must do the work of the right path factors (sammā magganga). Must look for a spiritual friend (kalyna-mitta).

The 5 wrong path factors (micchā magganga) are, ignorance, volitional formation, craving, clinging, action. If the Buddha was not arsing the right path factors couldn’t exist. Without associate with the disciples of the Buddha right path factors can’t arise. The 5 path factors of insight right view are still young.

If it’s young like a fruit can be spoiled. Encounter with coarse objects it becomes spoiled. It is similar to jhanic samadhi. With Path Knowledge (right view of the Path – magga sammā-diṭṭhi), and it becomes stable. (niyata). Are the 5 path factors and the 8 path factors, far from each other? For someone doing the practice is not for enough. Not doing the practice, even the 5 path factors (i.e. vipassanā ñāṇa) will disappear.

Because of the objects of the 5 khandhas it becomes insight knowledge. If happening like this, it destroys the poison fruits of the 5 wrong path factors (i.e. avijjā, saṅkhāra, taṇhā, upadānā, kamma). The 5 path factors become 8 factors and future khandha not arises.

cited from (posted on 2019-01-14)

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