Human Perils


revised on 2021-01-11


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 8th January 1961

[Sayadaw also gave night-time Dhamma talks to disciples who stayed at the center. Most of them were 30 minutes only. Here is one of these talks. It was about the importance of taking refuge, not for Buddhists only but also for all human beings. This talk was based on a story in Dhammapada—Buddhavagga (Dhp. 188 ~ 192), the story of Aggidatta Hermit who had 10,000 followers and taught them paying homage to forests, mountains sacred trees, etc. They had the potentials for enlightenment that the Buddha went to teach them Dhamma and all became arahants.

The Buddha’s discourse to them was: When threatened with danger men went to many as a refuge but these kinds of refuge was not a safe refuge and also not the best ones. One cannot be freed from all the evil consequences of existence (dukkha) by coming to such a refuge.

One took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Ariya Saṅgha and penetrated the four Noble Truths which led to the cessation of dukkha. This indeed was the safe and best refuge.

There are other many types of refuge by man. Majority of people are craving and clinging for them which create human problems internally and externally. These kinds of wrong refuge are sensual pleasures, money, wealth, power, fame, etc. These kinds of wrong refuge can lead mankind to destruction. Today a lot of human and environmental problems in societies to the international level are testified to the point.]

You’re reciting—Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi, Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi and Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi. (i.e., reciting the formula of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅghaṃ) But it’s unstable yet. Why is that? This kind of refuge is not knowing or penetrating the truth (sacca) yet. Only after you have penetrated the truth and your refuge becomes stable. You must not think that with an unstable refuge you are safe from falling back into the painful or woeful existences (apāyas). This refuge, which will never perish wherever, whenever and under whatever circumstances you may be, can only be possible if you know the Noble Truth. Having a stable refuge and not falling into the painful existence are of the same essence; they have a cause and effect relationship. Of all the perils, the worst is the peril of association with "wrong people"—manussatova.

[ note: some Burmese Buddhists do Pāli-chanting for prayer they make wishes of free from some perils—bhaya; as example—free from amanussatova—wild or fierce spirits, etc. Here the human peril which Sayadaw referred to is association with people who have wrong views and teaching which can harm one. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, we can find some teachings on perils by the Buddha. All these are interesting and useful for reflections.

Perils (bhaya): Due to fools (sutta 1, Book of the Three, AN. 3.1 Bhayasuttaṃ); future perils (AN. 5.77 Paṭhama-anāgatabhayasuttaṃ ~ AN.5.80 Catuttha-anāgatabhayasuttaṃ; Perils of reproaches, punishment, bad destinations); (AN.4.121 Attānuvādasuttaṃ); In misconduct (AN.4.122 Ūmibhayasuttaṃ; AN.5.174 Verasuttaṃ; AN.9.27 Paṭhamaverasuttaṃ; AN.10.92 Bhayasuttaṃ); In sensual pleasures (AN.6.23 Bhayasuttaṃ; AN.8.56 Bhayasuttaṃ); separating mother and son (sutta 62, Book3).

All these suttas related to the Aṅguttara Nikāya translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi. ]

Here human peril means becoming of Christians or Muslims with their talks. Leaning towards wrong views is more painful than beating by someone. It’ll be cured if someone beating up you and after hospitalization. It can send you to painful existences (apāyas). Is it not more fearful by encountering this human peril?

(It is very interesting and penetrating by using the Buddha-Dhamma to contemplate the many kinds of perils make by human beings. Humans have the potential of changing or transcending of everything if we use our knowledge and power rightly and wisely, the earth can be Heaven or Hell. It depends on that we are wise or stupid.)

Without our own knowledge (ñāṇa), we take their saying as it could be right. There are many faiths in the world because of the encounter with human perils (views, teachings, doctrines, beliefs, etc.) They taught to people whatever they thought as it might be true and converting people. (most of them were speculations or misinterpretations of the experience.) It was not true (i.e., not direct experience) you’ll encounter the perils of falling into painful existences (apāya) if you believe in them. You’ll encounter apāya perils if you encounter human perils (wrong views and blind faiths).

(Here Sayadaw told the story of Aggidatta Hermit who was misleading people by his wrong view, belief and teaching. He made a rule for his followers: If any of them are defiled with lobha, dosa or moha (greed, anger or delusion), they have to punish themselves by carrying a bucket of sand to fill a designated area. Later this place became a sand mount and occupied by a powerful serpent (magical nāga). It described worldlings has a lot of defilement. It is true that worldlings can even give up their lives for taṇhā and indulge in momentary transient pleasures. See today 21st century modern world.)

If you discern impermanence is arriving at the truth (sacca). After the penetration of dukkha sacca and it becomes the noble true refuge which is stable and unshakable.


revised on 2020-12-30


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