Ignorance and Craving


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; no date noted

[Avijjā and tanhā are the roots of saṁsāra. People have ignorance used to do unwholesome actions, and with craving wholesome acions (such as dāna and sīla) Therefore avijjā leads beings to lower saṁsāra (woeful planes) and tanhā to higher saṁsāra (blissful planes). Which one of them is the more fearful one? Tanhā is cunning and avijjā is straightforward. Tanhā is sharper than avijjā.

Tanhā is very good in deceiving people. Because of its effects and ignorance can lead to saṁvega. Because of its effects and tanhā leads to heedlessness. (For the comparison of them, Sayadaw gave the examples of the monk Devadatta and the god king Sakka. Their characters and background stories were very good for contemplation.) Avijjā and tanhā take root in the 5 khandhas. Therefore with sight on the 5 khandhas, avijjā becomes vijjā and tanhā becomes alobha.]

Avijjā and tanhā are the water roots of dukkha. They support the khandha tree to grow. Whatever khandha tree grows out only aging, sickness and death. Practicing vipassanā is cutting off the 2 water roots. Avijjā is not knowing the truth. Tanhā is clinging to the planes of existence.

Therefore someone has strong avijjā and without knowing, usually done unwholesome things. Someone with tanhā usually done wholesome things. Instantly you will not clear about why tanhā doing wholesome things. If done unwholesome things will stay with the lower round of existences.

The 8 great hells to 120 small hells will be one’s own properties. With tanhā and done wholesome things (dāna, sīla, etc.) are for the plenty of fortunes in the next life and conveniences.

This is the water root of higher round of existence. As dukkha sacca both of them are not much different. Avijjā is not knowing the 4 noble truths. Tanhā is craving for one’s khandha, properties and future lives.

Avijjā encourages unwholesome dhammas (Sayadaw made some points of them in human life e.g, actions for livelihood. And continued to explain some of the causes for making merits with tanhā). This is the root of higher saṁsāra and not want to free from vatta (round of existence).

Therefore without cutting off both of them (avijjā and tanhā), wandering to and fro between upstream and downstream of higer and lower saṁsāra. Having affection for the next khandha that do merits in this life. And asking helps for the blissful saṁsāra and not wanting to include freedom from the vatta.

Next time if you make merits done it with the desire of freedom from the vatta. Avijjā is doing things blindly. And tanhā is doing things for the comfort of the khandha. Someone has tanhā not wanting to do vipassanā. Because vipassanā is cutting off tanhā. With an ordinary ear we take tanhā as good.

We don’t know dukkha sacca that want to be long life and plenty of things. Avijjā and tanhā, which one is more fearful? Tanhā is cunning and more fearsome.

If you have tanhā and not free from vatta. Before we didn’t know about tanhā and were very afraid of avijjā. Beings fall into hells have saṁvega (sense of urgency) and want to be freed from dukkha. Beings in deva and brahma heavens don’t have this desire. Tanhā persuades them with goodness (i.e., heavenly and jhanic pleasures) and the desire of wanting to be freed from saṁsāra not arises.

(This point is very interesting. Because of bhava – tanhā, some Buddhists created special heavens for coming and going after the enlightenments. This became saṁsāra with tanhā or bhava – tanhā. Is Nibbāna conditioned or unconditioned?)

The results of avijjā lead to saṁvega. The result of tanhā turning toward pleasures and enjoyments.

(If we contemplate deeply on tanhā with the suttas teachings and will know the cunning, harmfulness and dangers of tanhā. If combine with wrong view even unthinkable of their consequences. With diṭṭhi – tanhā beings can do any evil things they can think about. Therefore the Buddha was warning us urgently for, first to abandon diṭṭhi, later tanhā and avijjā)

Avijjā and tanhā take roots in the khandha.

(For this point, Sayadaw gave the example of playing with a caned ball. Khandha is like the caned ball, avijjā and tanhā are like right and left feet kicking the ball up and down. In one of his talks, he gave another example of the foot baller and the ball i.e., soccer.

The Burmese caned ball was a good example for ignorance and craving to the khandha. This was an excellent talk on ignorance and craving for frequent contemplation. This talk give us a lot of insight into the Buddha’s Teachings and the differences between the other schools.)


cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4371&p=36316#p36316 (posted on 2019-04-13)


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