Three Steps to Nibbāna

revised on 2019-10-02

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 8th to 10th July 1962


Only the truth of Dhamma (sacca dhamma) can arrive to Nibbāna. In the discourse; Turning of the wheel of Dhamma (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta), in the beginning the Buddha taught the five ascetics (Pañccavaggi) on Knowledge about the truth (sacca ñāṇa). After that, he taught about what the function of the truth was. This was the working knowledge of the truth (kicca ñāṇa).

After that he taught the ending of Kicca Ñāṇa which knew the end of the working knowledge (kata ñāṇa). Taking notes of these in gist. If you want to arrive to Nibbāna, which is the ending of all dukkha and these three knowledges are very important.

Where were you coming from? (pointing to the D. A. process chart). You all came from avijjā (not knowing). What was you didn’t know? Not knowing the truth was ignorance (avijjā). Therefore I come here for opening your eyes. Traditionally all are blind people. Saṁsāra will be long if the right dhamma disappears. On behalf of the truth I’ll not talk lightly to anyone.

All will be in dukkha if the right dhamma disappears. Every day you are doing things for sufferings. (doing samudaya and dukkha). Therefore the other two truths are disappearing from you (magga and nirodha). You will get Nibbāna if the cutting knowledge (ñāṇa) arises.

Is Nibbāna far or near? At the six senses-doors, minds are starting to arise. You have to know them (knowing the arising minds). Also have to know the contact (phassa) and good or bad feelings (vedanā). Every time all the different minds arise, have to follow their impermanence.

Saṁsāra is long means the phenomena (dhamma) are long in the khandha process (The continuation of the D. A. process). If you see dukkha sacca with magga sacca, become cakkhuṁ udapādi — vision arises. Every mind, feeling, etc. arise and seeing their impermanence, become vijjā udapādi-knowledge arises. Cessation of dukkha and taṇhā is Nibbāna.

Therefore Nibbāna is for someone knows the truth and how to cut off dukkha and taṇhā. That is the cessation of samudaya and dukkha. From taṇhā, upādāna and kamma are samudaya and jāti is dukkha (From the D. A. chart, section three and section 4). The arising dhamma are satipaṭṭhāna (Knowing the phenomenon arises is sati). Knowing their impermanence is magga (the path factors).

So it becomes satipaṭṭhāna magga. If you can continue in this way lokuttara magga (Path Knowledge) will arise. This is the last knowledge (Kata Ñāṇa). I’ll show their connection. These are not easy to talk. So make notes carefully. Whatever arising is dukkha sacca. Knowing is ñāṇa.

So it is knowledge of the truth — sacca ñāṇa. Whatever arising is dukkha has two meaning: the first one; impermanent is dukkha. The second one; without knowing the arising dhamma and continues to jāti is also dukkha. People think Dhammacakka-pavattana Sutta is difficult. Without a teacher, it’s difficult. I’ll talk about Kicca Ñāṇa in gist.

Every time mind, feeling, etc. arise and ask them. What are your functions? The answer will be, our functions are arising and passing away. So the function of mind and form are arising and vanishing.


Where is the truth? Your khandha is the truth. If you know the truth will realize Nibbāna. The khandha has the five aggregates. And whichever aggregate you contemplate only dukkha sacca-truth of dukkha. By teaching you to know about suffering and the desire to be free from it will arise. Avijjā is to not know anything. It means not knowing what should be known (i.e., not knowing the truth).

And knowing what shouldn’t be known (i.e., knowing about things which are not truths). Therefore, this is a dhamma (ignorance) give you a lot of trouble. It’s the champion in bad things and forbidden to Nibbāna. It never does the job of freedom and only doing the round of existence.

The first discourse of the Buddha, the Dhammacakka-pavattana Sutta was the sacca Dhamma-truth of Dhamma. But you put the dhamma of dāna, sīla, and samatha at the fore front that sacca dhamma is out of the sight. Whoever not knowing the truth and his both eyes doesn’t have the light yet. You will go the right way if you get the light.

There are two types of dhamma. Taṇhā prefers dhammas and ñāṇa prefers dhammas. You can’t go to Nibbāna with taṇhā. Therefore, you have to listen a lot of ñāṇa prefers dhammas. You may think there is only one kind of D. A. process. There are the D. A. processes of a worldling, stream enterer (sotāpanna), once returner (sakātagāmin) and non-returner (anāgāmin).

Only by becoming an arahant and all are cutting off. Whatever arises and knows it as dukkha sacca. Then it becomes vedanā paccaya paññā-feeling conditions wisdom. This is to know the truth and the way to the stream entrance. If vedanā paccaya taṇhā — feeling conditions craving which you do every day, then it’s the way of a worldling.

I’ll continue to talk kicca ñāṇa. This knowledge is closer to become a stream enterer. It was these three knowledges which made Kondañño (the first of the five pañcavaggis) become a stream enterer. It will take you long in the practice if follow the long process of the insight knowledges. Ordinary disciples no need pāramīs. You only need for listening the sacca dhamma and wise attention for it.

These came from the Majjhima Nikāya and Petakopadesa Text. Now you have to know the function of whatever arising dhamma of form, feeling, mind, and dhamma are carrying ageing and death with them. Are they encounter destruction naturally or the cause of oppression by ageing and death? They’ll tell you that we are subjecting to the function of oppression. You have to see their functions with ñāṇa. If you know their functions and it’s kicca ñāṇa.


Only you know the truth can develop kicca ñāṇa. From these you can realize Nibbāna, which is kata ñāṇa. All the meditation centers are teaching the sixteen stages of insight knowledges. In my talks don’t have these and only three knowledges. Why it’s too short?

[Before his time and after until now, most teachers and yogis talk about these sixteen knowledges which are from the commentary). In the Saṃyutta Nikāya the Buddha taught that in this two armed length khandha truth existed. (e.g., to Rohitassa Devaputta, SN.2.26 Rohitassasuttaṃ). ]

I am teaching the people with three intentions. (All dhamma teachers should have these intentions) ① May people could listen to the sacca dhamma ② May the Dhamma be known by them ③ May people could practice in accordance with the knowledge.

All persons of dukkha sacca (worldlings) are indeed poor people because they don’t have the treasures of a noble disciples. [These are conviction (saddhā), virtue (sīla), conscience (hiri), concern (ottappa), listening (suta), generosity (cāga) and discernment (paññā).]

Nobody can help to deal with old age, sickness and death. Therefore all are lonely and poor. (This point is seemed to be simple and insignificant. But if we contemplate deeply we see the oppression of dukkha sacca)

(Sayadaw continue to talk on dukkha in the everyday life with humor; such as homes, clothes, foods, etc. compared them with hospitals, bandages and medicines, etc.)

The khandha is always oppressing by ageing, sickness and death (jarā, byādhi and maraṇa). So it’s dukkha sacca (the meaning of Pīḷanaṭṭho Oppressive dukkha). Therefore the khandha subjects to the function of oppression. This is kicca ñāṇa. It's also subject to the conditioning by taṇhā — craving. It's also dukkha sacca.

This is saṅkhatatho — conditioned dukkha. For examples, we are always busy with livelihood of foods, clothing, dwellings, etc. (Conditioned dukkha may be many varieties in wide ranges and never end to talk about this subject).

Khandha is always burning with fires of ageing, sickness and death (including with many types of kilesa fires). This is santapatho — Burning Dukkha. Mind and feeling, etc. are arising and vanishing by changing. This is vipariṇāmatho — changing dukkha. All these four functions are including in vipassanā knowledges.

Therefore, with the short human life span don’t follow the sixteen knowledges. Go with these four functional knowledges which are bhāvetabba or vipassanā ñāṇa. Kata ñāṇa are Path Knowledge and Fruition Knowledge. Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the first discourse was relating to everyone because it did not concern with the character of a person.

Some discourse were relating to personalities; for example, Bāhiya of the bark-cloth (Ud 1.10; PTS: Ud 6, Bāhiya Sutta or Ud.i.10; or A.i. 24; DhA 101). Teaching on truth (sacca) is dhammānupassanā satipaṭṭhāna. Contemplation of whatever form, feeling, mind and at last all is converging at the impermanent dukkha sacca, which is dhammānupassanā satipaṭṭhāna. All functional knowledge is insight knowledges. You don’t need to know Abhidhamma.

(Sayadaw himself was a well known Abhidhamma teacher of his time. Nowadays some have the view of it as no need to practice in accordance with the Abhidhamma. The suttas not support this point).

Ven. Sāriputta taught the monks to contemplate one’s own mind. Therefore whatever mind arises contemplate any of it. And you’ll see impermanent dukkha sacca. This is kicca ñāṇa. It’s also true as contemplate the dead mind with the alive mind because you see your own death with ñāṇa.

It'll become disenchantment if you see your own deaths moment to moment. After that comes the knowledge of not wanting your own deaths. This arises and all the khandhas disappear. Dukkha sacca disappears and sukha arises at its place. Knowing of dukkha not exists is kata ñāṇa.

revised on 2019-10-02; cited from (posted on 2019-02-16)

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