Tanhā and Kamma
revised on 2021-03-15
Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 28th November 1961
[Sayadaw based this talk on the Simile of the six Animals Discourse. The six animals are a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a jackal and a monkey. They represent the six internal sense bases — eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind respectively. ]
If we are dragging away by the six animals, can you see yourself will come up from the planes of misery. Taking the six ropes of the animals, bind together making a knot and bind them to a strong post. And then you can’t pull away by them.
The mind can concentrate thoroughly on an object and becomes absorption (jhāna). Jhānapaccayo — jhāna conditions are talking about samādhi. Which can concentrate thoroughly on an object is jhāna (not let the mind go away); binding the wild animal of the mind to the strong post of in-breath and out-breath (ānāpāna) with the rope of mindfulness (sati). And then this mind can’t run away to anywhere.
Therefore the Buddha taught the way of mindfulness of breathing (ānāpānasati). You'll have a bad living and dying if you can’t herd the six animals (six sense bases). If you know how to herd them, they lay down quietely at the foot of the strong post. I’ll talk about the way how to do it.
Contemplation of the mind is the best one. (Sayadaw usually emphasized on cittānupassanā. I don’t understand the reason why before. He gave one or two reasons for these objects of the mind and didn’t explain it in details. But after listening many times of his talks with contemplation, many things emerged from them themself.
So it’s very important to read the suttas and teachings of some very wise teachers for many times and with contemplation develops wisdom faulty). Contemplate the impermanence of the seeing mind. It goes up to feeling. Noting the nature of why it so? The seeing (eye consciousness), contact (phassa) and feeling (vedanā) are arising together.
If you can contemplate the impermanence of seeing consciousness and it becomes just seeing only. As a feeling it’s a neutral feeling (upekkhā vedanā). After seeing in this way, affection (taṇhā and clinging (upādānaṁ) does not arise because you can make it lay down at the base of the mind (mano) post.
Insight practice is contemplation with the mind (mana). D. A. process is not cutting off without the contemplation (for example, in the samatha practice). It is Nibbāna that raga (lust), dosa (anger) and moha (delusion) are cut off.
So it’s cutting off the D. A. process. With the contemplation of the seeing mind, hearing mind, etc. and D. A. process cut off in the beginning. If you can’t contemplate the thinking mind, with more thinking and more arriving to the planes of misery (For worldly thoughts and thinking).
The Buddha differentiated between taṇhā and kamma. Kamma does not arise if taṇhā does not arise. Therefore taṇhā becomes samudaya sacca — the cause of suffering. The Buddha also said: ragakkhayo, dosakkhayo, mohakkhayo nibbānaṁ. The destruction of lust, anger and delusion is Nibbāna. So destruction of taṇhā is Nibbāna.
It is not by destruction of kamma. What is taṇhā look like? In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Buddha said that taṇhā was like a tailor, connecting the pieces of cloth together. Therefore, taṇhā will connect this life to next life if it exists. It is cut off without taṇhā. You might think kamma connects it. (Sayadaw gave an example of a man and a woman because of taṇhā, they marry to each other and two families become having connection).
Arahants without taṇhā can’t connect it (Later Buddhists have the view of without taṇhā and a noble being can come and go as he likes. Nibbāna is not a being, not a person, not an atta, not one is all and not all is one). But kamma is closer to the result. Kamma paccaya jāti — kamma conditions birth.
Therefore taṇhā is more fearful than kamma. Taṇhā has the power of connecting dukkha.. Do kammas become nullified? Kammas do not become nullified if taṇhā does not cease because taṇhā is similar to someone collecting of kammas. When a being life comes to the end and taṇhā releases another kamma and then lives are connected without ending.
Therefore taṇhā is more powerful than kamma. So the Buddha said that the destruction of taṇhā was Nibbāna. He did not say "the destruction of kammas". Taṇhā governs and controls over kammas. Kammas will never finish with taṇhā existing. After the destruction of taṇhā, kammas become defunct kammas (ahosi kamma).
I’ll give you the evidence (Sayadaw told the story of Bodhisatta Vessandra whose perfections had been reached the highest levels). Lust (raga) had destroyed and Siddhattha became a Buddha. If not the results of his good kammas as Bodhisatta Vessandra would not finish. Therefore with the destruction of taṇhā kammas are destroyed.
If you are in fear of kamma and this is a fear of an animal. It’s like throwing a stone to a dog. You have to afraid of the cause and not the result. Taṇhā is the cause and kamma is the result. Cutting off the birth to the planes of misery is also cutting off the great-taṇhā (wrong view is called mahā-taṇhā).
To cut off the blissful rebirths (sugati) is to cut off small-taṇhā (cūḷa-taṇhā is representing all the lust and greed). Throwing a stone to a dog is also with taṇhā (i.e., dosa and it comes from taṇhā). You have to correct yourself as the most fearful thing for me is taṇhā. It is not right if you complain about kamma when you are in dukkha. For example, a pearl diver dies in the sea is the cause of taṇhā or kamma? Therefore taṇhā is King of the Death. But you all are making friend with taṇhā. Making friendship with the murderer is very idiotic.
Therefore many kinds of dukkha arise by taṇhā (Samudaya). Insight meditation is for the cessation of taṇhā or kamma? In the sutta it mentioned as kilesemarinto — let kilesa dies. If you are condemning on the wrong person and kilesa will smile.
The mind has the nature of wanting to go anywhere. You will not become a bad living and dying if you can make the animal of the mind to lie down at the base of the post. Whatever mind arises, contemplate its impermanence.
Ven. Sāriputta said that could observe one’s own mind would arrive to Nibbāna. Mind in sleep (i.e., bhavaṅga citta) doesn’t have the result of good or bad. We have to contemplate all the active minds; if not, they will give the results. Change the worldly mind into the noble mind (ariya mind).
By seeing impermanence and becomes ariya mind. Practice vipassanā is for the merits or changing the mind? These words are very important. If you can’t contemplate and only the worldly mind process is going on. Vipassanā mind arises is the ariya mind.
Contemplating the sotāpanna’s mind will become once‐returner (sakadāgāmin). Contemplating the sakadāgāmin’s mind will become non‐returner (anāgāmin), etc.; so changing the mind is important. Therefore one will never become an ariyan without practicing vipassanā.
revised on 2021-03-15; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4091&p=35846#p35846 (posted on 2019-01-18)
- Content of Part 7 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"
- Content of "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"
- Content of Publications of Ven. Uttamo
According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.