Ascending with Three Knowledges

revised on 2021-01-11

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; (no date)

The Buddha’s duty was to teach people until they understood. For practicing was the duty of disciples (sāvaka) who listened to the talks. This is not getting with prayers. I am talking about what the Buddha had taught. So, don’t have any doubt on it. One of the verses which nearly everyone know is:

Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā-ti, All conditioned phenomena are impermanent;
Yadā paññāya passati; when one sees this with insight-wisdom,
Atha nibbindati dukkhe, one becomes weary of dukkha.
Esa maggo visuddhiyā. This is the path to purity.

I’ll show you the three stages of the process. This side is three objects of the contemplation, and the opposite side is three ñāṇa of the contemplating mind ① The first stage is—Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā-ti → from the side of object. Yadā paññāya passata is—at that moment you have to contemplate it with insight wisdom → this is the contemplating ñāṇa.

First you have to practice in this stage. It means observing anicca with paññā. When it shows its impermanence contemplate with paññā. This is not for reciting, but it tells you for the contemplation. This is the gatha (verse) shows you the practicing process of entering towards Nibbāna. Whatever mind or form (rūpa) you want to observe will discern anicca.

The observed object and the contemplating ñāṇa have fit in together, or ① and ① fit in together (i.e., anicca and paññā).

(Here Sayadaw told the disciples that he was following the Buddha's system of teaching them in the form of questions and answers.)

Is there any time when anicca is not displayed? The Buddha’s concern was you didn’t observe it, so he included the word—“Yadās → When it shows anicca to teach you. (The Buddha was quite exact in his teaching. So, there is no place for the later monks—especially scholars and philosophers to change it or add new ideas and formulated views in to his Dhamma.)

② Let’s go to the second stage — Atta nibbindati dukkhe—when it shows dukkha, contemplate it until it becomes disenchanted or wearisome. Dukkhe and nibbindati have to be combined. You contemplate it until it becomes wearisome as anicca is dukkha sacca.

① The first stage is the knowledge of seeing anicca (yathābhūta ñāṇa)
② The second stage is the knowledge of disenchantment (Nibbidā ñāṇa)
③ The third stage is the path knowledge of (Magga ñāṇa)

Visuddhiya means purify from kilesa, that is Nibbāna. Esa maggo is the path knowledge. ① and ② are vipassanā knowledges. ③ is lokuttara ñāṇa—transcendental knowledge. After the ending of disenchanting with anicca and the path knowledge arises.

These three stages are ascending with its maturity in accordance with the nature of dhamma. It doesn’t need anything for you to do it. Even you’re disenchanted with them, continue with the contemplation without stopping it. It has to be brought to maturity; it needs to be developed (bhāvetabba) by deep contemplation. Knowledge of disenchantment will arise if seeing a lot of aniccas. You can’t stop it.

There are three types of person in attaining of the path knowledge.

1. Turning inward to one’s own khandha with ñāṇa while talking (e.g., Sāriputta).
2. Contemplating one’s khandha after receiving the instructions
3. Someone has to practice a lot by developing it—neyya person (today yogi)

(Sayadaw continued to talk about the three stages of the ascending knowledges).

① The first stage is yathābhūta ñāṇa
② The second stage is nibbidā ñāṇa
③ The third is path knowledge—magga ñāṇa

Yathābhūta ñāṇa means the knowledge of seeing as it really is; anicca exists that knowing it as anicca; the knowing and the reality fit together. You’re the three rooted persons (tihetuka) if having the first stage of knowledge. (born with the wholesome roots of non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion.) By practicing hard in this life, you will attain the path knowledge. You don’t commit the five heavy kammas—pañcā ānantariya kamma and have dispelled wrong views; if you discern arising and vanishing phenomena and I’ll take the guarantee that in this life you must attain the path knowledge. Don’t worry about that if you have not these six faults (i.e., five heavy kamma + wrong views). Don’t be in low spirit in regard with the ten knowledges or 16 knowledges. These were taught by Ven. Sāriputta and all of them included in the three stages of knowledge (as mentioned above) which taught by the Buddha.

The first stage must practice a lot; the second stage practice little, and it’ll be transferred by itself to the 3rd stage (i.e., anicca, nibbidā and magga ñāṇa respectively). Just practice hard for the practice and Dhamma will carry on by itself. In the satipaṭṭhāna sutta, it mentioned as one could attain it in seven years with weak faculty and sharp faculty in seven days. In the Bodhirājakumāra Sutta (MN 85), the Buddha taught the prince Bodhirājakumāra that one who practiced with sharp faculty in the morning could realize Nibbāna in the evening.

revised on 2021-01-11

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