Practicing for Dying

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 11th to 12th August 1962


[Here Sayadaw gave 2 talks on vedana and how to deal with them, especially near dying. We shouldn’t waste our precious life as a human being by doing useless things and leading to painful rebirths. We should observe and study on people near dying.

Even ourselves were more or less had experiences these things with our family members or friends. It was quite painful to see people died painfully and in tragic ways. Their ways of dying were expressing their painful rebirths.

The flood water of aging, sickness and death are waiting for us as arising. We need to prepare the maggin raft to cross over the ocean of saṁsāra to a safety place. He taught vedanānupassanā for dealing with tanhā. And already had taught cittānupassanā for dealing with ditthi.

Tanhā is sharper than ditthi, and avijjā is powerful than tanhā. Eradication of kilesa are from ditthi to tanhā, and tanhā to avijjā successively. Ditthi constructs the lower khandha of painful births. And tanhā constructs higher khandha of human to arūpa brahma worlds.

Vedana can appear on the body and in the heart area (hadaya vatthu). It’s important to observe at the right places. It’s ñāta pariññā – theoretical knowledge and without this can’t do tirana pariññā – development with contemplation.

There’re 3 kinds if vedana; sukha, dukkha, upekkha appear internally and externally of the body. Usually we only use sukha. and dukkha in our daily life language, and not including upekkha. In vipassanā contemplation if not observing at the right places and Nibbāna not arises. It will be impossible if the objects and mind (ñāṇa) are not in accordance with each other. Can’t cut off D.A. process.

Sayadaw explained the vipassanā process very simple and clear. He placed serially 5 small betel nuts on the table in front of him. The first to the 3rd nuts were representing mundane path knowledges (all are discerning anicca; udayabbaya, bhanga and nibbida ñāna.

The 4th is the Path Knowledge (not seeing anicca anymore and instead their ending or Nibbāna). It can’t kill kilesa perfectly yet (anusaya). It’s only the seed of ariya. The 1st to 3rd knowledges are still the worldling mind. The 4th knowledge is ariya mind. From ① to ④ are ceasing successively, and complete with the 8 path factors.

The knowledges following after the ④ are also seeing Nibbāna. The 5th seeing Nibbāna and also killing tanhā (i.e., the Fruition Knowledge kills anusaya). The knowledges of ① to ③ are very important, because it has connection with bhavetabba. The 4th and 5th knowledges are arising naturally (the outcome of 1, 2, 3 knowledges)]

With the ordinary dāna and sīla is a sleeping person. Without preparing the maggin raft and doing things in accordance with tanhā is in sleep. This is sleeping with avijjā and tanhā. Tanhā is more sharper than ditthi. Avijjā is more sharper than tanhā. During the time of vedana paccaya tanhā (feeling conditions of craving) he was still a bodhisatta.

Wanting to become a Buddha, the bodhisatta was contemplating vedana until it became ending. (Gave instruction on Vedana). Venada arises on the body and also in the mind. Contemplate it at the arising place. As an e.g. on the body sukha vedana arises and in the mind also happiness arises.

If arising on the body and contemplate on the body. In the mind also in the same way. If the contemplation is not at the right place can’t attain Nibbāna. It means the object of contemplation and contemplative mind are not at the same place. Also it means D.A. process can’t cut off.

Three insight knowledges must airse. ① udayabbaya ñāna – knowledge of rise and fall ② banga ñāna – knowledge of dissolution ③ nibbida ñāna – knowledge of disenchantment. All 3 of them are contemplating of impermanence. ① to ③ are the knowledges of a worldling. All are the path factors of a worldling (5 maggan). Knowing as all are in dissolution.

After ③ ceases and not seeing the dissolution. At the ending of them seeing Nibbāna arises. It’s the no.④ mind – i.e., the Path Knowledge. It is seeing Nibbāna, but still can’t kill kilesa yet. The 4th not see impermanence but still can’t kill the latent kilesa. The 4th is the seed of ariya. From ① to ④ can’t cut off kilesa are the same and only different in views.

After that maggin raft will appear. ④ arises for the cutting off the worldling status, not for the kilesa. After the ④ ceases and the 8 path factors appear. It’s no.⑤ and also see Nibbāna. It needs to ask who shows Nibbāna to him. ④ showing it and ⑤ seeing it. ④ is the cause and ⑤ is the result.

⑤ is seeing Nibbāna and killing tanhā. ④ only seeing it and can’t kill tanhā. ① to ③ are seeing anicca but tanhā not dies. ④ is seeing Nibbāna and tanhā also not dies. ⑤ seeing Nibbāna and tanhā dies. If ① arises must leading to ⑤ and it’s sure. The task is finished with these 5 points.


Death and birth (cuti and patisandhi) are only far away from each other in realms of existence (e.g. dies as human and reborn as devata. As dhamma they are very close to each other. After death and hell birth arises (as an example for painful birth).

This dying kamma is near to death. This near kamma is making this birth. The kamma you had done before such as building pagoda and monastery were quite far away. Therefore the near kamma gives the result. (The good kammas of the past had done before not arise at the time of death).

So it’s called asanna kamma (near death kamma). Who has done it? At near dying; it’s overwhelming with vedana and dukkha vedana is unbearable. The mind also becomes unbearable. You have to separate vedana with anatta. (instead we combine vedana with atta). For that I want you do the contemplation from now on.

So that at the time of death you’ll know that it’s vedana or the impermanence of anatta? I want you all to practice hard earlier to overcome vedana and seeing their vanishing of anatta. At near death it becomes anatta mind. Anatta is a knowledge. After that death comes and becomes arahant at the same time.

Even not become an arahant, after death to a blissful birth. If you can’t bear dukkha vedana and near death the 5 mind moments of dosa arise (as anguished state). Death and dosa mind are near to each other at that time. Therefore the wholesome kammas you have done before can’t give the result. Instead the near kamma gives the result. It’s called asanna kamma (near death kamma).

Therefore it needs to contemplate vedana to become anatta. (Sayadaw gave the example of the asanna kamma with the older bulls near the entrance of a cow pen. When the cow pen is opened in the early morning and the older bulls come out first. Because they are near the entrance. Here older bulls are asanna kamma and the entrance is death)

Other habitual kamma (acinna kamma) are far away. But they’ll give the results later. Now at this time you’re in good health and with contemplation to know the impermanence of vedana. Later if vedana come and will see the vanishing of it. And will die as a magga/phala person.

Because you discern impermanence with the contemplation at near death. If you not exercising for dying and it’s a great loss (We should take this point very serious). For someone in practice, even not becomes an arahant and near death it can be. Why is that? Because near death has strong determination.

At that time will not pay attention to family matters and has strong effort. (Some disciples of Sayadaw, when they were near death cut off communication with their family members. They shut themselves in their rooms, listening to Sayadaw’s talks and contemplating their khandhas and died).

Now if you are taking it easy and relax, will encounter with the worse situation. With the practicing kamma and at near death also these vedana. The practice kamma before death was just normal desire (chanda), viriya and paññā. Now at near death the chanda, viriya and paññā are becoming stronger. (Because it’s the last hope).

As like cittānupassanā is important (in daily life), and near the entrance of death vedanānupassanā is also important. Vedana arising is anatta and vanishing is also anatta. They are arising and vanishing in accordance with their nature. The mind is seeing anatta and becomes asanna kamma. And then becomes arahant; if not and takes rebirth in the blissful plane.

(Sayadaw told the differences between human beings and devata). Devata doesn’t has bile, phlegm, mucus and blood like human being. So, the mind of a devata is bright and clear. Human has a lot of phlegm and mucus full with the volume of a condensed milk can which effect the mind base. In the celestial realm and continues the contemplation, with a blip discerns impermanence.

It doesn’t has any obstruction. Because devata body doesn’t has phlegm, mucus, bile, blood, etc. Between them only has one mind separated (i.e., between death and birth). It can be entered the stream instantly. You can rember your merit only without the coarse vedana (i.e., painful feeling). If it’s coarse and you can’t.

Now, you know that people not doing the practice will be in danger. I am telling you clearly that by doing the practice will be successful, including the benefit and the faults without it. At near dying by reciting the Metta Sutta is impossible because can’t hear anymore (depend on the situations).

Near death mostly dukkha vedana arises. Without the habitual kamma die with anger or anguish. (Sayadaw gave the story of the 30 monks at the time of the Buddha, to illustrate the benefit of habitual kamma. 30 monks were practicing in a forest. A tiger came every night and took for a monk.

At last they knew the situation, and had to alarm each other if the tiger came back again. It came back again and dragged a monk away. The other monks were chasing to save the victim until couldn’t follow anymore. They reminded the victim to rely on his practice. The victim because of his habitual practice (kamma) overcame the dukkha vedana and became arahant before passing away.

At the time of seeing anicca even vedana not appears in the yogi mind. Separate vedana with contemplation and discern anicca/anatta. All conditioned phenomena are anicca and dukkha. All dhammas are anatta. Do you still see vedana? You only see the vanishing. Later he became an arahant before passing away. It was not by vedana, but with anicca, dukkha and anatta.

If you are practicing now and will see this only. No contemplation and die with anger/anguish, and with contemplation will has the path factors. If you don’t want to die with an unpleasant death have to prepare for it. At near death you can’t rely on other things.

Before that have to prepare for the anicca, dukkha and anatta. Near death even not die with anguish and with the attachment to family members and wealth becomes peta (hungry ghost). Die with delusion of unclear mind becomes animal. You have to suffer by the arrangement of asanna kamma. Vedana are killing the whole world.

Therefore it’s very important. Near death is overwhelming by vedana. So don’t take it lightly. With it the wholesome mind can’t arise. Someone has the preparation and it doesn’t has power over him. Even it can send to Nibbāna. Vedana is also a nutriment (āhāra).

(The Buddha taught 4 kinds of nutriments. These are: ① Phassa – contact ② Cetana – volition ③ Consciousness ④ Foods. Another meaning of āhāra is the cause carries the result with it. ① to ③ are mind nutriment, and ④ is physical. With phassa different types of vedana arise.

Cetana conditions rebirth – linking consciousness (one of the important cause). Here consciousness is (rebirth) consciousness and it conditions mind/matter (nāma/rūpa). With foods increase new matters. By knowing these 4 āhāras clearly free from saṁsāra. Can abandon foods becomes anagamin. Ovecome phassa/vedana becomes arahant.

If seeing the faults of cetana (kamma) can abandon tanhā and becomes arahant. With phassa exists has the danger of contact with sense objects. Cetana exists has the danger of becoming (bhava). Consciousness exists has the danger of connecting mind/matter. We have to eat foods to free from the other 3 dangers. To abandon tanhā conditioning by them. From Sayadaw Dr. Nandamalabhivamsa’s talk.)

So we’re alive with vedana. How hell beings survive in hell? Nobody comes to feed them. They’re suffering with dukkha vedana. Their vedana are āhāra. At the time of the Buddha there were large petas. Their bodies were as high as a palm tree.

Their mouths were tiny as a needle hole. It made by kammas. Kammaniyama acinteyyo – the law of kamma is unthinkable. They didn’t have the kamma to eat foods. They were alive with vedanāhāra. (In one of his talks also referred it as kammāhāra).

If you contemplate vedana and it is including mind, vice versa. Then contemplate the one more distinctive to you, and it’s easy to catch on. In regards to vedana; when it’s pleasant – oh! it’s good! When painful, Ahh! it’s pain. (Sayadaw gave some examples of them). With vedana, it starts become unconfortable, if you can contemplate it and not become severe (i.e., painful feeling).

You contemplate the beginning of vedana and big vedana not arises. Sitting and watching the in – breath and out – breath, and vedana will arise. When you observe it and not ther. Because after it passing away that contemplative mind can arise. Vedana is arising and vanishing (khaya/vaya). Contemplative mind is magga.

After that 3 kinds of vedana arise accordingly. Everytime of it arising and can contemplate and become khaya – vaya/anicca and magga. Vanishing is as an object benefitting the magga. With watching and observing – anicca/magga are arising accordingly.

cited from (posted on 2019-04-12)

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