Wavering and Not Wavering

revised on 2021-01-11

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th to 6th May 1962

[These two Dhamma talks were based on Channovāda Sutta of Majjhima Nikāya (MN. 144). In the Dhamma audience Sayadaw mentioned two laymen in these talks were interesting for contemplation. The first layman was U Hlaing—an old man with age over eighty, a gem merchant of Mogok City. He met Sayadaw at the age of over 50 in Mogok, this was Sayadaw’s early years there. He used to listen Sayadaw’s Dhamma talks but not practiced and busied with his gem business. At the time when he was getting old and came to Sayadaw for practice but could not discern anicca even though working very hard every day for four and five hours.

The second layman wan U Aung San Wai with age over 60 from Rangoon. He was a politician and held a minister post in the government before. Now he retired and came to practice with Sayadaw in Amarapura City in 1961. After the vassa in Amarapura, Sayadaw continued his teaching in Mogok, and he followed with Sayadaw there and continued his practice. It seemed that he had some success, which is related to some of Sayadaw's remarks in some of his talks.

The 3rd person whom I want to mention was not in this audience, because it is worthy to mention him for inspiration. Another important factor is the Dhamma Power of Sayadawji’s Dhamma talks which has strong effect on Buddhists in the study and practice of the Buddha Dhamma. I can give a lot of evidence on the lives of others. This man was U Tin, a politician and from Chinese origin. He first met Sayadaw in 1962 when Sayadaw went to Rangoon for the Aggamahāpandita title and Dhamma teaching there. At that time, he was only 39 years of age. Sayadaw stayed only a week in Rangoon for teaching and went back to Amarapura for his last vassa in life. It seemed U Tin followed Sayadaw to Amarapura for practice, because we often heard his name in most of the talks which has given at this period and until the last day of Sayadawji’s’ life in the biography. He might be the last disciple of Sayadaw and very close to him in this short period.

At the age of 50 in the year of 1975, he entered the Buddhist monk order. His lay sponsors were U Tan Daing, U Aung Chi and U Than Maung who were close disciples of Sayadaw. His ordained name was Ven. Dhammasāra and later well-known as Sin-pyu-kyun Sayadaw (the monk from the White Elephant Island). He was one of the senior meditation teachers of Mogok Meditation Center and sometime gave some teachings in the west. He passed away peacefully in 1998 at the age of 75 at his monastery in White Elephant Island. The following information came from the video record of his funeral. Sayadaw knew his death beforehand and wrote his wishes on a paper and left behind him. His requests were—“Do not keep his body more than seven days. Cremate it after three days if it is possible. After the cremation, it’s no need to invite monks for the transference of merit. (This ceremony was done by all Buddhists for the dead person because of not sure about his/her rebirth.) After the cremation, pour the ashes into the Irrawaddy River. (This is the major river in Burma and it flows from the north to the south. White Elephant Island is situated at the west side of the river.)”

After Sayadaw passed away, the body was not decomposed and smelled. His complexion was yellow bright and the whole body was soft and pliable. (It was like the same as 14 years old Mogok yogi Ma Htet Htet Aung.) The body was cremated at an open large field with fire wood. After a while the body flesh was burnt down and the bones exposed with the heart still intact. Someone poked the heart with a pointed bamboo stick and the blood flowed out like a water fall. After the cremation people found body relics (sarīra) in the ashes—bones and teeth relics. There was no separated, rounded relics. Some rounded relics were oozing out from the fragments of bone and teeth. These points described Sayadaw’s practice as in completion at not very long time ago, so that it had not enough time to change completely. At last the ashes were poured into Irrawaddy River and it floated and carried away by the river towards the sea and disappeared.

Sayadaw’s ordained name was Dhammasāra which means the core or substance or essence of Dhamma. He found the essence of Dhamma directly in his khandha—the four Noble Truths and the Nibbāna dhātu. The core of Dhamma was handed down from the Buddha up to the present generation. The core of Dhamma still exists. Buddhists should not miss the chance. ]

Ven. Channa had taken himself as arahant before he killed himself. Therefore, Ven. Sāriputta was checking his view by questioning him. The question was; “Do you take physical form (arom, ārammaṇa), sensitivity of the eye (dvāra) and eye seeing consciousness as me and mine?” His asking was—Did he still cling to them with craving, conceit and wrong view (taṇhā, māna, diṭṭhi)? Channa answered that he has contemplated them and seen their impermanence and there is no taṇhā, māna, diṭṭhi arisen. This was only insight knowledge and not the path knowledge yet. His answer was seeing impermanence. It was still at the stage of rise and fall. I will teach you the practice. Whenever something arises, you must discern its not existing. Channa’s view was vipassanā knowledge, but he took it as the path knowledge. Therefore, by killing himself would not get another birth (jāti). Ven. Mahā Cunda came in and told him as the Buddha has taught; “There is wavering in one who is dependent, there is no wavering in one who is independent.” Channa couldn’t bear his painful feelings (physical and mental), it meant he was still under the affection of his own khandha. The mind is wavering if someone depends on the khandha with craving and wrong view. With the changing of the khandha, the mind wavers. Only with the death of the troublesome craving, the mind will not waver. Letters, telegrams will disappear if people mind does not waver. When receiving of letters, their minds are wavering with gladness of taṇhā and no letters it wavers with anger.

Have you ever had a time when you didn't waver? (Sayadaw mentioned some of them in life.) It will be wavered without the equanimous mind (upekkhā-citta). Even after the death of someone, it is still wavering; so, it is not necessary to say when it is still alive. Therefore, you’re wavered species (It did not mean a monkey species which evolutionist and anthropologist thought, but more than a monkey’s mind which other types of beings do not have.) Wavering is not a good thing. It’ll lead to taṇhā, upādāna and kammabhava if wavering with lobha. With dosa it’ll lead to soka, parideva, etc. With moha it’ll lead to avijjā, saṅkhāra, etc. (see 12 links of D. A. process) With more moving (wavering) is more sinking downwards to the four apāyas. (It was like a swamp or deep mire.)

(In this talk Sayadaw sometime asked questions to the audience, and he laughed heartily. These wisdom or wise remarks were humorous and about man nature.)

Ariyas were not wavering. At the time of laying down their khandhas the chief and great disciples went to the Buddha and informed him. Mahāmoggallāna was beaten to death by the bandits. Did the Buddha and arahants are shaking? It must sink with more moving (wavering) or swept away by taṇhā water. Your mind will not move only with the practice. Tomorrow I will give the instruction.

The dependent co-arising process of connection is the wavering of the mind. Ven. Channa killed himself with a razor knife after Sāriputta and his brother were left. He was seeing the sign of mental image, if he was arahant would not see it. Instead, he must see Nibbāna (i.e., would not see any sign of mental image). (Sayadaw mentioned some mental images of a dying person.) The Buddha had lived for 45 vassas or years as a Buddha. He reminded the monks 1792 times for the practice and did not become remorseful at near death. Taking joy in pleasure now has to be shed tears near death.

Only the path knowledge can give us help. (mentioned terrible situation during the dying process). The periods of having the sharp mind and physical fitness are very important (i.e., at young age for the practice). (Here Sayadaw gave the very good example with the old disciple U Hlaing who was in the audience.) With the age of 85 or 86 years, his mind is in the state of confusion. He can’t discern the vibrations of his khandha. This is overwhelmed by ignorance (avijjā or moha). Even though he is working (practicing) for 4-5 hours, he does not know about the khandha teaching. (his khandha is calling him—ehipassiko, so he has to follow with sandiṭṭhiko, but he does not hear the calling. This is called ignorance or delusion.) He met Phongyi (in Burmese another usage for Sayadaw) at the age of over 50 and had listened to my talks then, but he decided to practice later. In this way he wasted a lot of his time and chances. It was a great loss. Isn’t it?. Therefore, you all have to practice now! (We always need to pay heed the teachings and sayings of the wise and sages. The child yogi Ma Htet Htet Aung’s life was a good example.)

Ven. Channa saw its mental image and instantly changed it quickly with the practice and became an arahant at near death. He succeeded because he already has the momentum of the vipassanā knowledge. (At here again Sayadaw mentioned on the layman U Aung San Wai who was in the audience). U Aung San Wai had used his time as a government minister before. It wouldn’t have taken the result very long if he had practiced it earlier before. Now he is practicing with the effort and it doesn’t take very long to achieve it. (It seemed to be U Aung Sun Wai had succeeded in his practice, because after Sayadaw passed away, U Tan Daing established a meditation center in the heart of Rangoon and propagated the Dhamma of Sayadaw’s talks. U Aung Sun Wai became the first chairman of the center.)

Some persons without knowledge of Dhamma talked to people like a teacher and foolish persons followed their advice (This referred to the people encouraged others to waste their time with worldly matters instead of Dhamma). Don’t have the wrong intention of I’ll do it later. (mentioned the rarity of human births by comparing with insects). You must do it urgently. You have wasted your valuable time from the order of taṇhā. You all are misusing the time. With the bigger taṇhā comes bigger Wok (Hell fire big iron cauldron depicted in hell scene) These are dhammas—extension of saṃsāra (i.e., taṇhā, māna and diṭṭhi) You’re left behind others is not important, but fall into apāya is very bad indeed. You’re not afraid of falling into Hell, instead afraid of lagging behind others (American syndrome/wrong competitions).

It’s better if you finish the practice now. If not possible, you can finish it at near death. It has the benefit. Ven. Channa’s experience supported the need of developing the habitual vipassanā kamma (āciṇṇaka-kamma). The greatest fault is after this life and taking rebirth in next life. This was the exhortation of the Buddha. Whatever dhamma is arising—following behind it with the knowing of it’s not there, it’s not there, etc. (i.e., anicca or the not existing of the arising dhamma)

[ Note: In these talks Sayadaw expressed his concern and compassion for his disciples, reminded them again and again for the practice. These talks were giving in Mogok and his last visit here. His last talk in Mandalay was on 9th April 1962 and continued the Dhamma duty in Mogok. In Mogok he started the teaching on 16th April 1962 to 1st July 1962. During these periods of Dhamma talks here were quite different from others before, mentioned a lot on death and saṃvega, not to be in heedlessness and wasting time. It seemed to be he sometime using his mind reading ability to teach the disciples. The following four events related to it.

The first event:

His first teaching in Mogok on 16th April 1962 was based on Mahāsāropama Sutta of Majjhima Nikāya (Discourse on the simile of heart-wood. MN. 29) Starting of the talk after 15 minutes, Sayadaw scolded some of the disciples very strongly out of the blue because their minds were in other places. It had never happened before. This talk content was:

“(Sayadaw mentioned dukkha inside the mother’s womb.) It starts from dukkha sacca. After it comes out, it is living with jarā dukkha sacca (ageing). Again, the khandha is going towards sickness (illness). From here it’s continued towards greater dukkha sacca of dying and death. Again, it will return to dukkha sacca if you don’t practice. Therefore, I have to tell you looking for the liberation of dukkha. Only by knowing dukkha, you want to be free from it. This khandha is changing and perishing moment to moment. It has to be in the state of moment to moment conditioning. When observe with knowledge its moment to moment vanishing is dukkha sacca. Therefore, the khandha we got it by prayers was dukkha sacca. Have affection on dukkha is not knowing about it. I have to talk you until you know about this knowledge. You have to contemplate until you see it. Your two eyes will get the light if you discern it, without it still not yet. Your eyes still not get the light until you discern the falling away and replacing of mind and body which are collapsing in blips. It’s born as blind man and died as blind man. Whatever has done by the blind is in mistakes. This is the movement of the blind. (From here onwards, read carefully how Sayadaw was scolding his disciples).

I am giving you the medicine to open your eyes. It was like a sick dog which saw the master holding the medicine cup and ran away if your minds were going here and there. Do you want your mind running here and there during the talk? Do you think Phongyi (the monk) is rough? Your mind was not stayed calm. You have to ask yourself; “Do we have the mind of a sick dog if our mind is running away during the talk?” In a blip the mind arrives here and there. It has the mind of a dog. Don’t let your mind runs to other places!

(After the scolding, Sayadaw continued his talk as nothing happened before.) Contemplate with one’s own knowledge (ñāṇa) on the one’s own khandha of consciousness (i.e., contemplation on the mind–consciousness). Here consciousness is pre-nascence condition (purejātapaccayo) and first arises. The contemplative mind or knowledge (ñāṇa) is post-nascence condition (pacchājātapaccayo) and follows after. Impermanent is preceding first knowledge is following after. It’s good if nothing comes in between them. Let impermanence and magga (ñāṇa) fit together. Impermanence is one’s dukkha and magga is ñāṇa. One’s knowledge sees one’s dukkha. We see dukkha sacca with the eye of the maggaṅga (path factor eye). This is seeing one’s own death. You have seen other people corpses before, but not your own. You see your own death with the five eyes (maggaṅgas). This is vipassanā and not finish yet. Only by seeing Nibbāna, it will end.

(You cannot see the truth or three characteristics with the flesh eyes. The Burmese usage is maggan-eye, it’s not maṁsa-cakkhu. None of the Western philosophers understood what anicca is. Sayadaw was fearless in regard to Dhamma. In teaching people Dhamma, he spoke to them in according to their nature. With humble people, he spoke gently; and with conceited people, Sayadaw was tough and spoke bluntly. Most of these people had wealth and status in life, and for a teacher, it’s not easy to compare hem with the animal.)

The second event:

Daw Thein Tin’s experience

It was happening at the meditation center in Mogok. Daw Thein Tin was a laywoman disciple who helped Sayadawji with his needs every time he visited Mogok for teaching. On that day very early morning she was cooking rice gruel for Sayadaw and before 4 a.m. it was ready. It was still not the time for offering and there was a lot of time to practice. Therefore, she continued the practice by sitting near the stove. It was very quiet and the best time for Dhamma contemplation. Suddenly the mind calming down and got samādhi. After that, she had an experience which had never happened before, it was peaceful and cool.

At that time Mogok Sayadawji was sitting on a big chair above the Dhamma Hall. (It seemed to be a large two stories building.) It seemed to be he concentrated on something on the chair. A monk who occupied a room above the center had a plan last night. His plan was tomorrow asked Daw Thein Tin to wash a mosquito net. Therefore, in the early morning he brought the mosquito net and went to Daw Thein Tin. On the way he passed through Sayadaw who spoke to him was; “Daw Thein Tin has experienced the state of magga. (i.e., path knowledge in Burmese)” After hearing what Sayadaw had said the monk went straight to the kitchen where Daw Thein Tin was. When he arrived there, she was still in meditation. He asked her in an urgent manner; “Dāyikā Daw Thein Tin I heard that you have attained the magga…”

Daw Thein Tin responded to him was; “Venerable, I did not say anything to anyone yet!” (This was a clever answer. The biographer of Mogok Sayadaw's’ life also did not give the complete answer either—see One Life Sāsana by U Gosita).

The third event:

Practicing with wise urgency (saṃvega)

After receiving the Aggamahāpandita title, Mogok Sayadaw went back to Amarapura for his last vassa in life (i.e.,1962). In the vassa as usual everyday he gave two talks—one in the morning and the other in the evening.

(Note: This event happened in Mandalay City. It seemed to be sometime he went there for talks a few days, i.e., not more than seven days and came back to Amarapura. Another possibility was—Mandalay and Amarapura are very close. Sayadaw could go there and come back by car.)

After beginning the vassa for a period, a woman who was seriously infected by leprosy came to listen Sayadaw’s talks. She came alone and no-one with her. The people in this surrounding area had never seen her before. In U Chit Swe-Daw Ma Ma Dhamma Sāla she chose a very distance corner to listen to the talk and practiced there. Sometime the smell of the disease arrived to the crowd, and the flies were encircling her body. (What a miserable state!)

In such a situation, it would affect the crowd and be displeased by people. Therefore, some disciples informed Sayadaw about it. Sayadaw’s response was; “This dāyikā has saṃvega for her body kammic disease, vatta disease, so she comes here to listen Dhamma. She is also doing the practice. She is now at the high level of the practice but she still has some unclear points that come here for it. After clearing the points, she’ll not come anymore.” So, all of them decided to neglect about it. After three or four days for the talks, and she never came back again. ]

The fourth event:

”Don’t let your mind running away!”

U Kyaw Thein, one of Sayadaw’s closet disciples, became his disciple in 1956. From Mandalay, he went to Amarapura meditation center and practiced under Sayadaw’s guidance. In the beginning Sayadaw taught him how to develop samādhi with ānāpānasati. He settled in one of the yogi room and doing his ānāpānasati. At night-time U Hla Bu was helping Sayadaw for a massage. Sayadaw’s room was close to U Kyaw Thein. U Hla Bu was a traditional doctor who had knowledge on Burmese medicines. He was massaging Sayadaw and at the same time discussing medicine with him. U Kyaw Thein had interest in their conversation, and he got lost in it. And then suddenly he heard Sayadaw spoke to him; “Maung Kyaw Thein! Don’t let your mind running away. You have to be careful!” It came as a surprise for him. After that he did not dare again let his mind running away. Later his samādhi developed and seeing of light. He informed Sayadaw about it. Sayadaw told him not to pay attention for it and let him continued the practice. After his samādhi arrived at the satisfactory level and Sayadaw gave him instruction on insight practice. From this incident we know about two things – Sayadaw’s ability to read other people’s minds and his way of practice.

Sayadaw gave an instructional talk to U Kayaw Thein about the five hindrances. There he mentioned some mental states which effected the colour of the blood. The blood colour changed in accordance with the mental states. Most people justified Sayadaw’s way of practice as Sukkha vipassanā (i.e., dry insight) by his talks. It was not true. The instruction to U Kyan Thein supported this point. The other point was Sayadaw had some super-normal powers which could not come from dry insight. (Sayadaw’s flesh, bone, blood relics—sarīra also support this point. Thai forest monks know this very well.)

The above incident was mentioned by U Kyaw Thein himself in a short biography and practice of Mogok Sayadaw. It was a small booklet for free distribution at Sayadawji’s funeral in 1963.

revised on 2021-01-11

  • Content of Part 13 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of Publications of Ven. Uttamo

According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.