Should Have Sympathy for Oneself

revised on 2020-12-30

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 7th to 8th October 1961

[Sayadaw based these two talks and the following talk on the Cūḷataṇhāsaṅkhaya Suta of Majjhima Nikāya (MN 37). The Buddha answered to the question of the quickest way to Nibbāna to Sakka—king of the 33 gods.]

What is the quickest way to end the craving (taṇhā)? This is the way to Nibbāna. There is no khandha burden to carry on there if talking about Nibbāna. There is no dukkha to feed and clean the body. Therefore, searching for things there is not existed. There is no dukkha to stay in the mother’s womb. There is no dukkha for various diseases and illness. Therefore, you don’t need to rely on others when become sick. Near death people are worried with sorrow, lamentation pain, grief and disappear. This is also not existed there. The teacher exhorts you every day because he wants you to die with a smile on your face (not for an ugly and painful death). (Sayadaw mentioned the terrible dying moment and situations.) The Buddha himself reminded us for 32 times about it. He said that we should not take it lightly and urged us to try hard in the practice until our bones and flesh totally worn out. The wealth you have searched even can’t protect the deadly disease. The true reliable is magga (the path factors). (Sayadaw mentioned the sufferings of hell being in hells.) For that you don’t need to spend any money. You only have to use your knowledge. You need to nod your head only when the khandha tells its story. There’s no khandha not telling its nature.

(Sayadaw told the story in the sutta. Sakka—the king of the 33 gods, i.e., Tāvatiṁsa Heaven came down to the earth and asked the Buddha the quickest way to end craving.) If feeling (vedanā) arises and you observe it as—“Does it still there?” and you get the path factors (magga) if seeing it not there. You insert the knowledge of seeing impermanence and then vedanā paccaya taṇhā not arises (i.e., feeling not conditions to craving). The path factors which see the vanishing (the passing away of vedanā) come in and cut off the process. The pāḷi passage—vedanā paccaya taṇhā refers to someone who doesn’t practice. Vedanā paccaya paññā refers to someone who sees anicca. (Here also, we can see the Sayadaw’s skill in pāḷi usage connected with the practice.) Craving does not arise by seeing the impermanence. Vedanā nirodha taṇhā nirodho—it is the path which can make feelings cease because you see the cessation of feelings. Taṇhā nirodhoti maggo—the cessation of craving is the path. Busying with the economic matters is no sympathy for oneself (most high-class of people were sitting close to Sayadaw). The task of magga matter is having sympathy for oneself.

Therefore, in the world, there are more people who don’t have any sympathy for oneself. (There are more people who promote love and compassion devoid of wisdom. It could lead to problems.)

Where craving exists? It exists at one’s own khandha. We want the khandha to be good. Therefore, if we kill feelings and craving be cut off. This point is very important. Contemplate feelings if you want to kill the craving; Craving will die with the discernment of impermanence of feelings. (Sayadaw retold the Sakka’s story in the sutta.) In the world (Loka) every suffering was given by craving. More happiness come more sufferings. For that you have to work more than others and endure more sufferings than others.

Therefore, it comes more sufferings with more cravings. In the human world, one will fall into hells after death if he lives with sufferings. Do you have any profits?

[Here Sayadaw’s exhortation and warning on craving was very good for reflection and contemplation. Feelings and cravings are like the beloved husband and wife. They are very close to each other and have a lot of influence on each other. With more cravings become clinging to feelings and create more sufferings. The great harmfulness of feelings and cravings we can see very clear in today world—start from family, society, country to international levels. The human craving for money, wealth, power, fame, and fortune is so great that it can take over the lives of oneself and others for the momentary fleeting pleasure (i.e., a pleasant feeling). With the severe global warming, global epidemic diseases and other threatening dangers that some well-known scientists and environmentalists were warning us to stop using and extracting petroleum. But still some superpowers compete and fight for it in the North Pole, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Humans are becoming more and more like animals or close to animal status. They become the permanent slaves of feeling and craving. The Buddha described them with the analogy of a fish came into perish for the momentary pleasure of the bait.]

You are all searching for dukkha. Do you have any clear view about it? Working for sensual pleasure will be very pleasing to you if I don’t explain about it. And then you’ll expect suffering all the time. (Here Sayadaw’s talk became humorous.)

All kinds of suffering come from cravings. Where is craving coming from? It comes from feelings. Let the path factors (magga) enter between feelings and cravings. The bodhisatta did not become a Buddha under the Bo-tree (Bodhi tree), which, for any Buddha, happened between feeling and craving; from sotāpanna to arahant (are the same). Feelings also are included in the contemplation of the mind (cittānupassanā). Mind and feeling are association condition—Sampayutta paccaya in the mind process; they appear simultaneously as fire and light. You can contemplate any one of them.

There are three kinds of feeling—pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings. All these three feelings appear on the physical body and in the mind. (Sayadaw gave some examples of them.) Pleasant feelings appear on the body and in the mind. For example, the body feels hot with the hot weather; but it has pleasant feeling while turning the body towards the air (e.g., an electric fan). When you are counting your money, the mind is with the pleasant feeling (even though the weather is hot).

For the examples of unpleasant feelings of body and mind, wherever you’re going with the hot weather you feel hot. And then you think about your home without any window the mind becomes unpleasant. For the examples of neutral feeling of body and mind; just seeing, hearing, etc. are neutral feelings arisen on the physical eyes and ears. You reflect on someone’s misfortune with kamma; at the moment, the mind is with neutral feeling. The root of craving is feelings. With the contemplation of feelings and craving ceases. With the dying of craving and dukkha ceases. The duties of the khandha are from ageing going towards sickness and from sickness going to towards death. Even the Buddha couldn’t stop it. You’ll get all of them if you’re asking for prayer to become a human being. It’s the same as let me running towards ageing, sickness and death. Your khandha existence testifies for these. Ageing is dukkha, sickness is dukkha and death is dukkha. You’re tortured by your craziness. Not knowing the truth of dukkha that you asked for them. Not knowing is ignorance and asking the khandha is craving.

Knowledge (ñāṇa) can arise only after the impermanence of feeling. You arrive at the halfway of practice if you discern anicca. With the discerning of impermanent feeling, you abandon feeling or the khandha.

Craving can’t follow from behind that it also abandons taṇhā. Therefore, vipassanā practice abandons both the khandha and craving. Abandonment of the khandha ends dukkha and the abandonment of craving ends the cause. Vipassanā practice has a lot of benefits. Insight knowledges support these points. (Before learning from Sayadaw, you can’t find any books on Buddhism or Dhamma talks expressed like these. He has penetrative and analytical wisdom. The Pāḷi Nikāyas are also simple and profound but some Buddhists neglected them and became confused. So, they postulated new ideas and views and relied on the outside powers, and then Buddhism became another type of God Religion.)

revised on 2020-12-30

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