Eighteen Days in Solitude
Day 5: 21st October, 2002; By Venerable U Ñāṇaransi ; The translator: Ven. Uttamo
This is like a preparation for climbing up a higher part of the mountain. It’s for the liberation from samsaric dukkha. So we must do the practice with the 3 governing principles (i.e, taking the repeated suffering – samsaric dukkha. Oneself as a governing principle (attadhipati), taking the worlds (lokadhipati) and the Dhamma as governing principle (Dhammadhipati). Here taking the worlds as governing principles means the living beings who have the ability to see and know other mind. See-anguttara Nikaya, III 40 Governing principles.) Mogok Sayadaw said, “We could not do the practice in an ordinary way, but with the 3 governing principles (adhipati) and resolution.” The first one is making oneself as a governing (attadhipati). You can’t attain it with prayers, and must do it yourself. It needs the faith of I must realize it. You shouldn’t have this kind of thought, couldn’t I do it? You should have the determination of I must realize it with the practice. It can be happened that you retreat back or it takes more time. We only have the 18 days limit and shouldn’t waste the time. From today onwards we must make the resolution for the practice. Practice with the resolution. Why are you coming here for the practice? Mogok Sayadaw said, “We didn’t come here because we have nothing to eat, or nothing to wear or nowhere to live. Also not for the happiness of human and celestial beings that to come here and practice (i.e, sugati – good rebirths).” (For example of human dukkha, mentioned the story of bhikkuni Patacara.) Round of existence (samsara) was so long that every living beings had shed tears more than the water in the 4 oceans. With deaths the bones were piling up like great mountains. After birth even like a criminal has the death sentence with him. We’re afraid of death and planning in many ways not to die. However you’re doing it can’t free from aging, sickness and death. For a death-sentenced criminal, day after day the time to death is closer and closer and has more sense of urgency (samvega). But everyday most people are enjoying themselves with companions, sensual pleasures and eating and drinking. Their precious times are finishing in those ways. After deaths they will fall into the 4 woeful destinations like coconut fruits fall down at randomly. The dangers of change (viparinama) and easily falling into painful destinations (vinipata) are within us after births. This life can be used as to freed from these dangers. So it’s very important for us. We had been as animals for foods to others in many lives. Therefore we come here for the practice to escape from these worse situations.
Approaching a good teacher is one of the causes for realization. It’s very difficult to get a good teacher to teach us. After finished his own practice, Mogok Sayadaw wanted others to know and practice the Dhamma. So he was continuously teaching others without stopping. He was still teaching people until near his death. He gave the guarantee for his listeners and said, “If you practice with the 3 adhipatis in the evening and can realize it the next morning.” At least we should have the goal of not falling into bad destinations after death. This is the situation of a small stream winner (cula-sotapanna). Someone discerns impermanence is a cula-sotapanna. We’re establishing Samadhi for the discerning of impermanence. Later you’ll know how much height this khandha mountain is? Only by practicing hard you can attain path and fruit within the 18 days. There are many practicing for 10 years, 20 years already. Our groups had practiced seriously before (the yogis at his centre in Taunggnoo). Only a person with sharp faculty could realize it in 10 days. (He was one of them and mentioned his experiences in his book- “A Man Walking on the Path of Spiritual Knowledge”.) Most people are only discerning impermanence within 10 days. From the disenchanting of impermanence (i.e, nibbida nanam) to the ending of it (i.e, path knowledge) in within 10 days was impossible (i.e, among his yogis). Therefore I was making a plan. (That was his successful khandha paticcasamupada lectures across Burma by using the way of Mogok Sayadaw’s teaching on this topic.) Discern impermanence within 10 days and become cula-sotapanna. And will take rebirths in sugati. But still not free from the dangers of plane of misery (apayas). And then the yogi has the seed of maha-sotapanna for the next life. The tree will grow out in the next life, and will become a sotapanna.
We’ll ascend the mountain with the 3 stages of knowledge as taught by Mogok Sayadaw. (Also mentioned by the Buddha himself for many times in some of the suttas.) Second, make preparation for climbing the mountain. For this we must make 2 resolutions (adhithana). The first one is we’ll do the practice with sitting, walking, standing and lying down in each posture exactly for an hour without changing. It doesn’t mean we have to do it in the extreme way but in the middle way. And it’s painful and become unbearable for you. The reason is you don’t know how to contemplate by separating from it. We must make a test for how much can we bear it. This practice makes us to have the quality of endurance. The practice is not only to have Samadhi but also to make the mind has patience. It’s also testing for oneself how much could you do with patience in dealing of with pain-dukkha. After half an hour painful sensations - dukkha vedana will arise. If it arises and you want it to disappear. From wanting it to disappear and wanting to change the posture. Then you have to make this determination. Whenever get this body – khandha, and this suffering dukkha will continue to come. If I change, and in next posture, it’ll torture me again. So I’ll not change and try up to 40 minutes. If I pass it and will increase another 5 minutes. After overcome it with 45 minutes and I’ll increase to the maximum. There is nothing without ending. If anything has the beginning, and must has the ending. By following and observing the most painful one and at the end of it will find out the most pleasant one. At the end of suffering a happiness exists. I thought it would torture me continuously. After the worst things finish the good things exist. Here the yogis have to know one thing. You shouldn’t go in and feel the feeling - vedana unbearably. You were seemed to be in comfortable posture to someone nearby. This is the battle between the body - khandha and knowledge. A lay woman in Minbu City (in Central Burma) was used to talk bluntly. At her retreat and said to me, “Ven. Sir, during the practice there are 3 enemies attacking me and quite unpleasant. The air element tortures me, and the heat element is very hot. Enemies are 3 and I’m the only one. But still I overcome them.” If the khandha is attacking us, we must conquer it. Today onwards we should have this kind of spirit. It doesn’t mean that not to change at all. Develop bit by bit and do it as much as you can. If you overcome once and no difficulty anymore. With one success and has strong confidence.
Next resolution is noble silence. For the mind to be calm, you can’t be in talking. Even can’t talk about Dhamma between each other. It needs to make the mind has strength. With talking and Samadhi has fallen apart. And then has difficulty to establish again. Also make others as a governing principle (i.e, lokadhipati). Don’t think that whatever is arising in my mind others don’t know and only I know about it. If the spirits at the surroundings know, others also know it. At my retreats someone comes in and protecting the place. Even we don’t know about it the spirit is watching at us. If you’re yawning very often, the spirit comes and makes it to you. Because the yogi is thinking this and that without any control. And so he comes in does it by let me know this. (This being was a tree spirit – rukkhamu devata as mentioned in the Metta Sutta. In a talk the venerable mentioned his experiences under a big tree in a deep forest after ordained. At that time with 3 robes, alms bowl and only living under a tree. This tree spirit was living there and later became his Dhamma protector.) If you’re near the realization, there are some beings have strong relationship with you. These are beings from the different dimensions (paraloka – it was also confirmed by scientific research).
Another point is taking the Dhamma as a governing principle. Ehi-passiko- it means come and contemplate. You must have confidence that these are Dhamma leading to Nibbana. For attaining Dhamma, it needs good teacher and system. It happens to us quite rare indeed. You can try it out. You can’t encounter it as you want to be. We have past connection with each other. You have to be careful about not to talk. If you’re getting lost in talking and will never attain the path and fruit. It’s a big fault. If you’re breaking your resolution and far from path and fruit. I had never been found someone who had realized Dhamma with talking. We’re practicing among people but have to behave like alone person. The Bodhisatta renounced the world was for this purpose. It was the practice of renunciation. (This was renunciation, and one of the 10 paramis. If we check the jataka stories we’ll find out that the bodhisatta and some of his great and chief disciples were fulfilling this parami for many times. Without it, realization is impossible.)
- Content of "Eighteen Days In Solitude"