The Five Darkness & The Five Lights

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 4th May to 8th May, 1961(In Mandalay)

(These 5 talks are the same subject of the above 3 talks, entitled Breaking The Shells of Ignorance. But the times and places were different and also the contents.)


[Sayadaw mentioned that when the Bodhisatta meditated on the day of his enlightenment, with the development of vipassanā knowledge, his body emitted a kind of light(obasa). It was so strong that spreading upwards to the Akanitha Brahma World and downwards to the Great Eight Hells. All living beings are under the influence of avijjā(darkness), born and die again and again without ending. Sayadaw based on the Suttanipata gave 5 talks on avijjā and vijjā (ignorance and true knowledge). (1) The First light is Kammasakata Sammadiṭṭhi ~ Right view on kamma: Doing good has good result etc. Even many human beings don’t have this light. Sayadaw mentioned some of them, Christians, Muslims and hill tribes.]

How we were be in the whole of samsāra? (Round of existence) The Buddha said never had the light and covered with only darkness; born in the darkness, were living in the darkness and dying in the darkness of ignorance. (He mentioned the Buddha’s Light.) With the Buddha’s Light, living beings knew that a Buddha was arisen. Some human beings had the chances to rely on this Light. But you all were not have this chance. Under the influence of ignorance, we created kammas. Therefore, these 5-khandhas were never free from the shadow of darkness. We created kammas under ignorance, so born under its shadow. Whoever got Dukkha Sacca because of under the darkness. Whoever discerns Dukkha Sacca has the Light. Even you had a happy rebirth don’t take it as good luck. It’s sure that in many of your lives you did not get the Light. Now with the chances if you don’t get it and will never be. (Sayadaw gave 2 examples for under the influence of darkness with earth worm and butterfly. Many of his talks were foods for the heart.) In talking about the Noble Truth (Ariya Sacca), I can’t even spare dāna, sīla and samatha. Whatever worldly happiness is still under the avijjā. Brahma Worlds are under its shadows. Some people think human world is not good enough so want to go to the heavenly worlds. All these are changing the names only. (Sabbe Saṅkhāra Dukkha~ All conditioned phenomena are dhkkha.) (Then he explained many things in daily life under the influence of avijjā.)

In the Discourse of Turning The Wheel of Dhamma, vijjā udapādi ~ means knowing the Noble Truth. Not become vijjā that all are under the darkness. The province of ignorance is very wide. In the 31 realms of existence wherever you go, never free from under his influence (except the 5 pure abodes of noble being connection with the 4th Jhana.). Start getting the sotāpatti magga (the knowledge of stream entrance) and start getting the light. If not, you are going liked an earth worm. If the 5-darkness cover up, the 5-lights will never come out. Ignorance are 5 kinds but most people know only one. (1) Kammasakata Nyan~even this knowledge all the animals and other religions don’t have. Animal rebirths are uncountable. Moving around in the 4-painful births. No.1 ignorance is not a small one. Human beings, heavenly beings and Brahma gods have wrong view. Even you get this right view, still covering with the other 4 darkness.


[Another meaning of avijjā is not knowing of what should be known and knowing of what should not be known. Sayadaw mentioned morden science and technology developments as wrong knowledge (miccha nyan). He gave examples of atomic bomb and large scale meat productions. We can say any knowledge harmful is miccha nyan. (2) The 2nd light is Nāma-rūpa Paricheda Nyan ~ Knowledge of the mind and body. (3) Paccaya Pariggaha Nyan ~ Knowledge of Cause & Effect process. (4) Vipassanā Nyan or Lakkhana Nyan ~ Knowledge of the 3-signs of universal characteristics. (5) Magga Nyan ~ Nibbāna. In living beings 5-kinds of darkness(avijjā) covered up the above 5-kinds of light(vijjā). For the 1st darkness, Sayadaw gave the story of Sodeyya Brahman who was stingy and not believed in kamma. Later died and born as a dog in his house. His son Subha treated this dog very well. One day the Buddha passed by his house and the dog was barking at him. The Buddha spoke to the dog that after death he would born in hell. Subha heard this and met the Buddha. The Buddha suggested him to feed the dog with milk gruel and when it fell into sleepiness stroke its body gently. Later asked the dog where some of the treasures hid by Sodeyya. Subha did what the Buddha said and then found the treasures hid by his father. The dog died and born in hell. For the 2nd kind of Light, Sayadaw did not mention much about it in this talk, because most of his disciples already had listened many years for his talks. He said simply the desire(chanda) to do something is the mind and the movements of the physical body is material. For the 3rd, he said that understanding of Paticcasamupāda is not enough, because it starts from avijjā >saṅkhāra…etc, it’s the letters of Dependent Arising (see the 12-Links). Must understand khandha Paticcasamupāda. Every khandha Paticcasamupāda arising starts from consciousness (viññāna) e-g, eye consciousness(seeing), ear consciousness(hearing) etc.]

Avijjā is not knowing of what should be known and knowing of what should not be known. It’s very bad dhamma. In the western countries there are many competitions. They are knowing which are not good to know (He gave some examples.) Five darkness and 5 Lights come from the Suttanipata and Patisambida Pali. Christians and Mohamadins are even not believe in kamma and its result. They only believe in permanent God and Mohamad. Don’t talk about the animals. Even in human beings very few populations believe in it. (He told the story of Sodeyya Brahman). If you do merits offer with the knowledge of Sacca Nyan (Noble Truth).


[In every talk Sayadaw always started with Samvega-sense of urgency to transcend Dukkha. He pointed out wrong views(diṭṭhis), on craving(tanhā) or pointed out disciples’ mistakes and weakness in worldly life etc. So that develop urgency for practice. And then started the main point for the talk. Always based on the Truth of Dhamma (Sacca Dhamma) for the practice and realization. Wanted his disciples to remember what he taught that every talk had repetitions. Sometimes asked questions for their understanding. His style of teachings is very similar to the Buddha and some of his great disciples. Most of them were an hour talk. If a subject topic was not finished, in next talk he mentioned that again and made them remembered it.]

In our whole round of existence, we were covered up with ignorance that did not get the Path Knowledge. As much as many lives we were jumping into the fire of ageing and death. Therefore, we were always in suffering. Living beings are covering up with the 5 layer shells of ignorance (He compared it with the simile of a chick inside the egg.) Some had dispelled their wrong views intellectually but when they encountered with problems and difficulties, the 2nd konwledge did not arise. These were evidences for the power of ignorance. Desire to do something is the mind (nāma). Follow the desire to act is the body. This is knowing the mind & the body as roughly. 3.The knowledge of knowing cause & effect – not knowing the process of dependent arising of the khandhas is covering up by the darkness of ignorance. Even you can’t see the impermanence; whatever arising in the body is only the 5-khandhas. Knowing it as not a living being and not me is a little better. Everytime khandhas arise knowing as it is only khandhas, and No.2-ignorance fall away. The important of dependent arising is becoming clear. It’s not starting from avijjā (ignorance). It’s the letters of dependent arising (the12-links). It starts from sense-consciousness such as seeing, hearing, smelling etc. These are our present moments processes. After seeing and wanting, then craving (tanhā) arise. And then become clinging / attachment (upādānam) arises. Causes & effects are connecting or continuously arising. Where are there any person, living being or me? So No.3 ignorance falls away.


[Sayadaw continued the 3rd Light. He said some of his disciples after listened his talks realized that their parents and grandparents were died without knowledge about these kinds of Light. Knowing the khandhas arise and the continuity of causes & effects have these Lights (No.2 & No.3). Meeting together of inner and outer sense bases(ayatanas) (sense doors and sense objects), sense consciousness arises and then follow with vedāna, tanhā, upādānam & kamma etc. So, wrong view and doubt are clear up. It’s the knowledge of cūla-sotāpanna and next life will not fall into painful rebirth. But it’s not very reliable and can be lost again in the future. He gave the story of Subrahma Devata because of his good kamma in the past and born as a deva. But he also knew that after 7 days would die and born in hell. But later with a teaching of the Buddha he entered the stream and changed his destination. For the 4th Light to see the anicca khandha (impermanence of the aggregates). Any khandha arises, seeing its impermanence. The khandhas always show the 3-lakkhanas (anicca, dukkha, anatta). Why don’t we see it? Because of avijjā covers it up. Sayadaw said most of his disciples already arrived this stage and closer to the last Light. They must work hard to dispel this darkness.]

If talk about the power of ignorance, 31-realms of existence are the graveyards of living beings. Brahma worlds are for wise people, human and celestial worlds are for good people and the 4 painful places are for foolish people. 31-realms are the provinces of ignorance. These places are his arrangements for them. Even some people are worshipping the Brahma God (The Creator). They are worshipping the ignorance. His directions are cemeteries. Don’t choose any of them. All are without blessings (Because of Dukkha Sacca). Among the 31-realms, wherever place you like and it is only foolishness. Ignorance is liked a fisherman setting up the 3-nets of kama (sensual planes), rūpa (material jhana planes) and arūpa (immaterial jhana planes) for the fishes (living beings). Whatever living beings come into these nets are beaten to death by his (jara-marana) old age and death men. Which one of the nets is better than others? Even many human beings don’t have the first Light. They think foods and drinks are created by God. Births are created by God. They don’t believe in kamma and result. Therefore, other faiths are covering-up with all the 5-darkness of ignorance. In the Buddha First Discourse – vijjā udapādi ~ true knowledge arises, nānam udapādi, āloko udapādi ~ Light arose are this 5th Light.

The No.2 Knowledge of mind & body is similar to the boatman and the boat. With only by the boatman (the mind) can’t arrive to the other shore and with only by the boat (body) is also the same. (3) Understanding of the Dependent Arising ~ these are natural procedures (Dhammaniyama)and continuation of cause & effect phenomena. There is no me, no person, no living beings. And with this knowledge, doubt is overcome. This 3rd ignorance is falling away. Don’t be only satisfied with the 1,2, &3 Lights. During with these Lights can be fallen back into darkness again. As example Subrahma Devata arrived in heaven by the first Light. With avijjā, saṅkhāra ~ doing black kamma sure to fall into painful rebirth. The 4th ignorance covers-up the 3-lakkhanas. So you can’t discern impermanence. Here in this group (Sayadaw’s disciples) many discern anicca but still avijjā left over. So darkness can be come back, except the practice of vipassanā all other matters are the business of ignorance. I am very glad if you discern anicca. Why? Only dimness is left. If you put more effort, it will totally light up, and sure to be free from the dangers of painful births and 31-realms of existence.


Becoming vijjā is seeing Nibbāna. On the way to Nibbāna by going with the sign posts are better. By knowing the levels on the way are no need to put everything on paramis. Only need to fulfill the level. You all start from the 4th level (i.e contemplate impermanence because most of his disciples are knowing the lights of 1,2,3 by listening to his talks for many years already.) You have to contemplate for discerning them. If you see it, don’t be negligent and will be realize the 5th light of Sotāpatti magga (Knowledge of Stream Entrance). It’s important for the 4th to mature. How to make it maturity? (He gave the example of building a fire by rubbing of 2-pieces of bamboo.) If, it’s becoming hot, it’s the sign of the fire for coming out. If you are continuing without stopping for rubbing it, and it’s sure the fire will come out. For the fire to come out or not is depending on the effort of that person. Therefore, the 4th is liked rubbing the 2-pieces of bamboo, the 5th liked the coming out of fire. Without the 4th, and then the 5th is impossible. The text of Namarūpa Pariccheda (a Pali Text) mentioned that by contemplation and discerning more anicca and the gapping become narrowing between them. Later the contemplative mind disbands anicca and run into the unconditioned Nibbāna. The contemplative mind goes straight towards impermanence means it’s becoming mature. At that time don’t let any matters come in and continue to do the contemplation. Later with a blip the contemplative mind is discarding the impermanence. The khandhas only have impermancnec, so you will only see impermanence. The 2 aniccas are saṅkhāras ~ conditioned phenomena (i.e the object & the mind). The mind(nyan) runs into Nibbāna and the ending of anicca. Therefore Nibbāna is near, and not far from us.

Without the 4th ignorance will be discerned anicca. Among the 5-ignorance, the 4th is the important one. It makes you not knowing the reality of existence. It’s hiding between anicca & nyan(knowledge). Sometimes you discern it and sometimes not. At the time avijjā is thinner you see it and when it’s thick you can’t. How to correct it? I am sitting quite a long time now and can’t see impermanence. Maybe I have no paramis. Don’t think it in this way. It needs the method to expel avijjā. Return to the Paticcasamupāda process, the 3rd light. Whatever arising now is for dying. With this knowledge the 4th ignorance falls away. This is important for the yogis. If not, indolence will come in the practice. May be you will think, I don’t have the paramis and get up and run away from the problem. Now, you watch and observe it. If you don’t see anicca, it’s sure that ignorance is covering up them. Retreat back. Looking for the arising of Paticcasamupāda ~ the 3rd light. As an example return to the breath, there is a wanting to breath in & out. If you see it arising and ignorance falls away. After that, continue to contemplate all the new arisings. These 2 points are very important. I am concerning that near the end of the practice, you will give up. Even you can’t find the newly arising dhamma, the breath is always there. The desire to breath in & out. Both of them are impermanence. After getting the evidence, whatever follow behind are anicca. Return to the 3rd and arrive back to the 4th. Sometimes it seems that nothing is happening. By not knowing how to expel ignorance and take it on paramis is wrong.

Without seeing the No.3, you can’t come to No.4 (not seeing or knowing the arising). Without the No.3, darkness (wrong view) falls away, by sitting the whole day and it doesn’t work. Follow to catch on the arising Paticcasamupāda khandha. If seeing consciousness arises just know it. When hearing consciousness arises just know it. If you can catch on it, ignorance falls away. If not the whole day sitting will not work. If you find out the beginning again will be continued to catch on the arising process. No.4 is the mind staying with anicca. If you discern the increasing rate of the impermanence, the 4th ignorance has fallen away. But after that don’t let the mind to think of “I will get Nibbāna”. When this mind-state arises, ignorance comes back. The rate of anicca is going down. In my experience of teaching people, most of them fell back at this place. The wanting tanhā come in and hinder the practice. Therefore, fall back to No.3. Whatever the rate of impermanence, the mind (nyan) has to follow it. Don’t let any mind-state come in. I am concerning your falling back, if not I will not talk about it. This point is very important. A place where the practice can be gone down. The yogis’ duty is to contemplate for maturity. To see Nibbāna is the duty of discernment (Nyan). From near the No.5 go down to No.3 is quite a loss. Therefore No.4 is quite important. By seeing more on dukkha and wanting to escape from it.

It’s like sharpening a knife. Continuing to sharpen the knife, it becomes sharper and sharper by itself. Nothing to do with our wishes. Nibbāna is also the same, nothing to do with prayers. Only concern with the effort (It’s interesting to know that in the factors of enlightenment: viriya is 9times, sati 8times, pañña 5times, ekaggata-samādhi 4times, saddha 2times etc). Don’t forget the simile of rubbing 2 bamboos to build a fire. The contemplative mind (nyan) is turning towards Nibbāna ~ Is that means khandhas don’t have anicca? Not at all. The Buddha already mentioned that, Sabbe-saṅkhāra anicca – all conditioned phenomena are anicca. Discernment (nyan) becomes mature that the 5th ignorance falls apart and Nibbāna appears. If, it’s not changing into Nibbāna then still not mature yet. Continue to contemplate anicca. After the Path Knowledge (Magga Nyan – Nibbāna) not difficult for entering the fruition state. Like a fire which already has the power of acceleration.

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