Taṇhā the Tailor


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 29th December 1960

(Near the end of the talk Sayadaw made a very interesting point on the existence of Nibbānic element. His logic was simple by using the 4 Noble Truth & their functions in the direct experiences of yogis. From these points we can know what Nibbāna is.)

The Buddha taught on how a Dhamma preacher mind should be in teaching to people.

① May they be well & can listen to this talk.
② With metta in mind, may they understand what I have to talk.
③ May they can practice accordingly after understanding of the Dhamma.

If a monk possesses these 3 states of mind & teaching to people is a good teaching. From your side is after listening to the talk, practice & better become a stream-enterer (sotāpanna) to arahant. I will listen to the talk; try to understand it & practice for the realization of the highest level. You must have the aspiration to achieve the highest level.

If you underestimate yourself then will achieve the lower level. Aspire to achieve the middle & higher levels which you can achieve accordingly. There were some evidences of existing stories. The Buddha always encouraged to the monks for the achievement of highest levels to end dukkha. (Sayadaw told the story of Ven. Nandaka for this talk.) Nandaka was very well known in teaching by using similes & examples in the time of the Buddha.

Yesterday I had explained some of the similes by him. In the body has 6 sense-doors sensitivities (pasāda rūpa). Outside has 6 sense-objects. We take these things as me & mine. In between, taṇhā is connecting them, and joining the sense-objects & sense-doors. Taṇhā is the cause of dukkha (Samudaya sacca). Its existence is the cause of suffering. You must cut it off with the knife of path factors. In this way it can’t connect the inside & outside that samudaya sacca dies out. The 2 dukkhas cease & Nibbāna appears.

The monks taught 500 bhikkhunis before Nandaka, but no one had the realization. Because they had the desire for Nandaka’s talk. Nandaka & the bhikkhunis were having kammic links for many lives time. He gave the simile of a dead cow. The cow body like the internal bases (ajjhattā āyatanā) & the hide outside like external bases (bahiddhā āyatanā).

Skin muscles, connective tissues & attachments in between are like taṇhā. In the same way in practice must cut off taṇhā with the knife of bojjhanga or magganga (factors of awakening or factors of the path).

They asked him how to contemplate & cut it off? He asked them in the following way. | “Is form permanent or impermanent?” | “It’s impermanent, ven. Sir.” | | “It’s impermanent, dukkha or sukha?” | “It’ s dukkha, ven. Sir.” | | “If so, can you say this is mine, this I am, & this is myself?” | “It’s not, ven. Sir.” | | “In the same way the eye, ….. etc.. Contemplate the impermanence of the both sides. | When it is cutting off, it is taṇhā which connecting them in the middle. In this case impermanence still has any bodily form?” | “No, ven. Sir.” | | “Without it can taṇhā connect them?” | “No, ven. Sir.” |

Taṇhā can exist only by connecting them. Can’t connect, then it ceases to exist. By contemplation of mind & body & taṇhā dies away. Because it cut off the phenomena which taṇhā is connecting them. Taṇhā can exist by connecting the internal & external. By contemplation of impermanence ditthi & taṇhā die out. The knife is like magganga or bojjhanga.

Practice hard with right effort (sammā-vāyāma). Hold the knife & cut it off. Don’t leave it there, only with the hand of right effort & by holding the knife of right view that taṇhā will cut off. In the 5 path factors; mindfulness (sati) effort (viriya) & concentration (samādhi) are the hand & right view (sammā sitthi), right intention (sammā_sankappa) are the knife.

You can’t do it by prayers. You can’t cut it with the mouth (These 2 points are practicing by most Buddhists in the later period of Buddhism). Without taṇhā arises clinging, action & birth are cutting off. If you practice with one of the satipatthāna and will be succeeded taṇhā connects to all the 5 khandhas. Therefore if you contemplate one of them taṇhā dies out.

In the Dependent Arising; connecting death & birth are craving, clinging & action. Death is dukkha & birth is dukkha. Sense-objects & sense-doors are also truth of dukkha. In practice don’t forget the dictum, “Be mindful, put effort to contemplate with wisdom.” Whatever dhamma arises be mindful of it & contemplate persistently with wisdom. Impermanence is dukkha sacca, contemplation is magga sacca & the death of taṇhā is samudaya sacca.

In the 4 Noble Truths if dukkha & samudaya die out only nirodha & magga are leaving behind or the peacefulness & knowingness are leaving behind. Therefore, nothing exists in Nibbāna is impossible (some Buddists & non-Buddists take Nibbāna as nothingness). During his life an arahant has nirodha & magga or peace & knowing (He can stay in fruition state if he wishes).

After he put down his burdened khandha & no magga khandha anymore (After an arahant passed away). But the peaceful happiness (santi sukha) of Nibbāna is leaving behind or undying is leaving behind. Staying with happiness is Nibbāna. (Sayadaw continued to the end of Nandaka’s story).

All the bhikkhunis realized the Dhamma respectively according to their aspirations. This story testified this point. There are 4 piles of excrements (kilesas). If any one of them left over still not good yet. Therefore you have to clean out all of them.


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