Answer to a Buddhist
revised on 2020-06-15
Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 10th July 1962
(Tax office general U Loon Pe heard the news of Sayadaw in Rangoon (Yan-gon), went to see him, and asked some questions on Buddhism).
Q: He said to Sayadaw that in his view it was impossible to observe the mind. He had studied the cognitive process of the mind (vīthicitta) and couldn’t relate it to the practice because the minds are arising and falling very quickly and with many bhavaṅga cittas (Life-continuum minds) between them.
The contemplation can’t be in the present moment. Therefore according to his understanding it’s impossible to contemplate the preceding mind (the first mind) with following mind (the second mind).
A: Manāyatana (mind base) is the pre-mind. Contemplate this mind with the post-mind, which is vipassanā magga (path factors mind). These two minds are arising one by one. They are separating with many bhavaṅga cittas between them.
Even separate with bhavaṅga cittas and no kilesa comes in between them is not a problem at all. So it’s contemplating the pre-mind with the post-mind. The pre-mind is impermanent and the post-mind also impermanent.
Without separation by kilesa and only with the bhavaṅga cittas, so, it can be contemplated. Even separate with 100,000 billion bhavaṅgas are not an obstruction (According to the Abhidhamma within a wink of an eye, mind rises and falls that much). Bhavaṅga cittas are the mind in sleep. If separate by kilesa and it becomes darkness, and can’t see the pre-mind. Without kilesa you can see it. (Sayadaw referred to the cittānupassanā in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta).
‘‘sarāgaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘sarāgaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti — He knows a lustful mind to be lustful. ’’ The bhavaṅga cittas between them are taking the objects of the past, which were kamma, kamma nimitta (sign of kamma) and not an obstruction. They are only supporting the life faculty (jīvitindriya). Don’t take it as the objects of obstruction. Contemplate this kilesa as the pre-mind if kilesa comes in (e.g., knows the lustful mind as lustful).
Q: Ven. Sir, should we have to take them as anantara and samanantara (proximity and contiguity conditions)…. . (These two are in the 24 Conditional Relations-Paṭṭhāna, they are identical in meaning — arise immediately)
A: No, don’t take it this way. These Anantara and samanantara were the views after becoming a Buddha. It is not our views. In the practice of becoming a Buddha contemplated the pre-mind with the post-mind. You have to follow the original view of becoming a Buddha.
There were two views. For the view of after became a Buddha, worldlings can’t follow it. But we can follow his view on the way to become a Buddha. (This point here sayadaw mentioned was very important for yogis. The sutta teachings were for yogis to train their mind in practice.)
Q: What is magga vīthi? (sound is not clear)
A: This refers to the objects of all the mind and form (nāma and rūpa) cease. All the dukkha cease and Nibbāna appears at their place: first, gotrabhū citta (change of lineage), after that magga citta (path factors mind), fruition citta (phala citta). And after that bhavaṅga cittas-they can’t see Nibbāna, it take the objects of kamma, kamma nimitta, and then paccavekkhana (reviewing mind) arises and seeing Nibbāna again.
Bhavaṅga citta can’t see Nibbāna. Nibbānaṁ maggaca arammana paccayena paccayo — Nibbāna object and the knowing mind are going together (Sayadaw referred to the Paṭṭhāna). Fruition mind continues to arise one by one. They have to take the object of Nibbāna, if you can’t see Nibbāna, then bhavaṅga cittas arise. Only phala citta continues to arise and cease with one by one is right.
Q: The nature of Nibbāna is cool like a thousand pots of water pour on the body.
A: This is not from the Pali Sutta. The exposition of the commentary, just gave an example and not really cool (i.e., the physical body). It referred to as without kilesa. It meant if magga arises and kilesa fire is extinguished. You should know the suttas and commentaries separately. It’s kilesa cooling down and take it really cool. Not really cool. Not refer to the cooling of the body.
Q: Does atta exists? (This was a strange question put by a Buddhist who had the knowledge of Abhidhamma)
A: In a Saṃyutta Nikāya Pali, a brahmin asked the Buddha (it seemed as referred to Aggivaccha brahmin). Does atta exists? I don’t teach of it exists.
Q: And then; Does anatta exists?
A: Also, I don’t teach of it exists. The Buddha rejected both. Ven. Ānanda asked the Buddha of why he rejected both? The Buddha gave the answer; “If I tell him atta exists and he’ll take the view of permanence. If I say of anatta exists and he’ll take the view of nothing exists.
Then, he runs into the view of annihilation.” Therefore, the Buddha answered in the middle way of not exist. If not regard to person and talk about Nibbāna, has to talk as anatta exists.
(Atta problem is the biggest problem of human beings. Even most Buddhists can’t escape it. Among Buddhists still many hold the view of eternalism of the soul and even teaching to people like Ven. Sāti in the Mahā-taṇhā saṅkhaya Sutta in the Majjhima Nikāya.
Some are holding the view of Nibbāna as the root of existence, the first cause or the dhamma body. Therefore understanding of atta and anatta correctly need to study and reflect thoroughly from the Pali Nikāya).
Q: (The last question seemed to be the difference between worldling and stream enterer. The sound from the recorded tape was not clear. Both have lobha and dosa. Sayadaw gave examples for them).
A: It’s like someone has illness and eats something not suitable for the sickness. Another person’s illness is already cured and eats something not suitable to his body. In the same way, it’s worsening his situation if kilesa comes in to the worldling.
(Here was an answer to the question of the contemplation of the mind in the present. It was explained by Ven. Sayadaw Dr. Nandamalarbhivamsa. I extract it from Sayadaw’s answers to questions in Abhidhamma). Contemplation in the present; it doesn’t mean not contemplate the past and the future.
There are three kinds of present: ① Momentary present (khaṇa paccuppanna) ② Continuity present (santati paccuppanna) ③ In the present (addhā paccuppanna).
① Momentary present is arising at that moment. Sayadaw was using it as a momentary present of the process. This can‘t be contemplated because two minds cannot arise at the same moment. For example, in the contemplation of the mind with the mind;
Ⓐ The object of mind is one mind. Ⓑ The contemplative mind (ñāṇa) is another one mind. When ⓐ arises and ⓑ can’t arise. Only ⓐ is passing away and ⓑ can take its place.
② Continuity present is; for an example, if you are thinking about something which is also a present. It’s continuity present. After hearing a sound and thinking about it (continuity). A duration of time is also a present (paccuppanna); for example, today. And if become tomorrow and it’s not. It becomes future.
If the day before and becomes the past. Therefore ② and ③ are the contemplations in the present. If the object of contemplation and the contemplative mind (ñāṇa) are closer to each other as much as possible and then kilesa can’t come in between them. It becomes a big gap between them if you know it later.
If other minds not come in between each vīthi is in the present. For example, after the object of vīthi arises and contemplates with the contemplative vīthi. After seeing an object and ñāṇa comes in; like or dislike not arises. What Mogok Sayadawgyi said; ‘‘the pre-mind is anicca, and the post-mind is magga’’ were referred to these.
revised on 2020-06-15; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4192&p=35962#p35962 (posted on 2019-02-16)
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