Is Everything That Happens Anatta?


revised on 2021-01-11


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 30th December 1960

Who makes the five khandhas to arise? Matter or form (rūpa) arises by kamma, mind (citta), temperature (utu) and nutrient (āhāra) which are the four causes. The four mind dhammas (feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness) arise by sense objects and sense doors (arom and dvāra). The four causes are always conditioned matters. It was like the example of a house supported by four posts. Is it according to your own nature or according to their arrangement? It will be collapsed and perished by one of the causes. Do they belong to you or are they controlled by the four causes? You have received the non-self (anatta) khandhas. You get something which is not your own. You’ll be alive if they order you to be alive. If they want you to die and you have to die. The body has to follow accordingly if the mind asks the body to lift the leg and the hand. Even walking for one step does not belong to you. The mind is controlling the body. Only the mind wanting to breathe in and out arises, the body can breathe in and out. It’ll die if the mind did not arises.

The Buddha and arahants had already seen these natures that they could not take joy in it. We are oppressed and tortured accordingly by them. You can say it as anatta and also as dukkha sacca. You have to accept if it asks you to live on or have to be in pain or have to die. Don’t take it as you’re unlucky. You take it as only kamma (past action) and become wrong view. (In Ledi Sayadaw’s Anatta Dīpanī, painful feelings or illness and diseases are mostly related to the mind, temperature and nutrient.)

Blaming everything only on kamma becomes kammavādī diṭṭhi (i.e., everything happens because of kamma—it’s a wrong view on kamma.) After arriving to any life of existence by its arrangement will treat you as slave.

It is only in Nibbāna (which is ) without these four causes. Kamma is the arrangement of it if someone takes painful existence. Temperature (utu) causes the earth to be in fire (at the time of Doomsday). Food causes someone dies with food poisoning. Nibbāna is free from these things. Only arriving to Nibbāna will free from anatta (i.e., free from the three universal characteristics of anicca, dukkha and anatta). It has been said by some people that whatever happens is anatta (i.e. there is nothing you can do). This is the voice of a slave. It means whatever happens I’ll accept it. You have to change this kind of non-self (anatta), if not, you’ll never overcome it. (the four bases of power: desire—chanda, persistence—viriya, intentness—citta and discrimination—vīmaṁsā are important here.) Therefore, we have to come out from their province (i.e., the four causes). If not, we have to age, to pain and to die; and then have to be born. There is no happiness in them. This kind of happiness is the happiness of a slave.


revised on 2021-01-11


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