A Slave With Four Masters


revised on 2021-01-11


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 18th December 1960

Your whole body is saṅkhāra dhamma—conditioned phenomena, such as hair, teeth, skin, etc. The Buddha also taught about it. It’s true and it happens by conditioning. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body are conditioned by Kamma or the past Kamma. It’s called kam-saṅkhāra and none of them is owned by us. (Kam is the Burmese word for Pāli word Kamma.) It will fall apart if kamma has done away with it. So, the body is owned by kamma. The face becomes clear and joyful with the wholesome mind. The hot material form (rūpa) and angry mind arise with the rough weather. Mind and form are changing by weather. The body becomes fat with the good foods. It’s conditioned by the nutrient (āhāra). It’s conditioning by the four saṅkhāra dhammas of kamma, mind (citta), weather (utu) and nutrient (āhāra). The five khandhas arise with the conditioning of them. Therefore, the five khandhas are conditioned khandhas. These four phenomena are making the body to develop and decline. So, nothing in the khandhas belongs to us. They are collected together by conditioning. So, it’s saṅkhāra dhamma. You can also call it as the five khandhas. The khandha body is like a house supported with four posts; it will collapse if one of them broke down because it depends on others.

It’s not our own and not related to us that it’s anatta dhamma. It’s true or not let’s think about it. All the others will fall apart if kamma has done away with it. What about not eat foods (nutrient) and burnt down with temperature (utu)? The khandha exists momentarily because it’s conditioning by them. All the conditioned phenomena (saṅkhāra) are in a moment. It’s momentary arising and momentary passing away, momentary arising and momentary passing away, etc. Arising and passing away is not relating to you.

Therefore, saṅkhāra dhamma is unstable. If becoming stable, no one will be sent away as a corpse. And no one needs for medication, eat, change clothes, or fan the body; nor do they need to do any conditioning for it. You’ll become a corpse if one of them asks you. So, which one of them you can rely on it? You have to accept it with their arrangements. You are hired to look after this body. In this situation you’re still boasting as; “What do you think I am?“ The hired slave boasts with it as his own body. With the arising of crazy diṭṭhi, you’re boasting as me. Without knowing it as a khandha, it is moha-lunatic. All these crazinesses do not go away if not knowing the body as saṅkhāra (i.e., diṭṭhūmattaka and mohūmattaka).

These come to people who have a lot of worry, especially to older people. None of them is in your ability and power. It relates to the four saṅkhāra dhammas. Talking with saṅkhāra dhamma—knowledge of anatta arises as nothing is owned by us. Taṇhā, māna and diṭṭhi increase by not knowing it as saṅkhāra dhamma. Taking the five khandhas as me, I am, mine are wrong view, conceit, craving. Fall into affection with taṇhā, proud with māna and think with wrong view as me/I-ness, Therefore, there are more taṇhā lunatic, māna-lunatic and diṭṭhi-lunatic. You will not know it as anatta if you don’t know saṅkhāra. Atta will come in if not knowing of anatta. Papañca dhamma—proliferation increases if don’t know saṅkhāra. With knowing of it, papañca ceases and will end saṃsāra. The cause of not knowing saṅkhāra makes beings become over craziness.

(Sayadaw continued about the wanderer Subhadda who was the last disciple of the Buddha).

Subhadda asked three questions, these were:

① Are there any tracks in the sky by one who moves there?

②Are there any noble persons outside the Buddha’s teachings?

③Is there any conditioned phenomena that is permanent?

(These three questions and answers were in the Dhammapada story.)

For teaching wanderer Subhadda, the Buddha prolonged his life span and waited for him. At near death, one would see Nibbāna by contemplating its impermanence and its ending when vedanā arose, and couldn’t die. It could stop death, and could wait for it for a while (here referred to the situation of the Buddha). Don’t think that your practice is a small one. Therefore, practice it for the success, and during the fruition state (phala samāpatti) it can’t die. It cannot transcend death and only can stop it for a period. No need to be in low spirit. (Sayadaw encouraged the disciples.) That's impossible if you yourself are lazy and dull. Your dullness can be corrected, but not for your laziness. There are 16 lazy excuses or places for the fools; e.g., it’s too cold, it’s too hot, etc. (The lazy people give 16 reasons for their excuses for doing things.) The Buddha also knew about these things or matters. You must have sympathy to yourself. Also concern for your teacher (i.e., Sayadaw) and don’t enter into these places for your refuge.

There are a lot of Sa-gaing Chongs there and you also have a lot of them.

(Sa-gaing City or area is a well-known spiritual area with hilly ranges. Historically a famous area for spiritual seekers. Therefore, a lot of monasteries and secluded places for yogis. Here the Burmese word chong means secluded place. Combinations with other words can have different meanings, such as chong-kho means stay away from one’s duty and lazy. So here Sayadaw referred to his disciples for their laziness for practice.)

Nibbāna is close to the khandha. Khandhas are saṅkhāra dhammas and you have to observe their unstable nature. In this way there will be never shortage of ariyas (noble beings) from sotāpanna to arahant.

[ Some Burmese monks and Thai forest monks were very good evidence: In the 20th century of Burmese and Thai Buddhism we found ariya monks in these two countries—from sotāpannas to arahants. Some of them were tevijja arahants (e.g., Soon Loon Sayadaw) and some had super-normal power. According to the commentary which I heard as in these periods we could not have tevijja arahants. We should not take it as face value but only as a general view. ]


revised on 2021-01-11


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