Eighteen Days in Solitude
Day 17: 2nd November, 2002; By Venerable U Ñāṇaransi ; The translator: Ven. Uttamo
It’s important to think about that today we’re closer to the top of the mountain, and have to practice hard. The retreat will finish tomorrow and could I attain the Dhamma? Is it possible for me? All these thoughts can come in. If it comes in have to be aware that it’s ditthi. I’m talking a lot on ditthi and the yogis become confusion. Then you may ask; “Ven. Can’t we free from ditthi?” Yesterday a lay woman said to me; “Ven. Sir, shouldn’t we battle with it for winning?” Why should you battle for winning? It’s wanting for success. What is wanting? Wanting is greed – lobha. Then I told to her; “Don’t want to win and also don’t want to lose.” Middle way means stay away from the 2 extremes. In the Dhammapada, the Buddha said about not winning and not losing. Then how should we do it? Have to practice become someone abandons winning and losing because both of them have the self view. Because the winner can have danger. You’ll think of when he’ll fight me back. And the loser has stress. Someone abandons both is happy. At that time the mind can be in the state of imbalance (i.e., with the extremes). Samadhi decreases. Climb to the top in a normal way and you’ll arrive there. If you stop or slow down and not arrive there. Ledi Sayadawgyi had said before, you just soaked the beans in the water and when the time was ripe it would expand (i.e., a type of large bean common in Burma). In the world all the phenomena have their times. You plant a mango tree and want it to bear fruits tomorrow is impossible. In the winter wanting it to bear fruits also impossible. It’ll bear fruits in the summer time. Performing our tasks also in the same way. It’ll finish when the time is ripe. There was a Hindu story. A gardener domesticated a monkey at home. One day he had a business to go somewhere and instructed the monkey; “I have planted some small plants. You need to water them to take roots.” The monkey was intelligent and watering the small plants everyday. After watered them for sometimes, came back to pulled them out to check the roots. And then planted them back into the soil. If the monkey did it like that the plants would never take roots. The Buddha and Sayadawgyi (i.e., Mogok Sayadaw) had said that the yogis should do like someone rubbing 2 pieces of bamboos to get fire. After rubbing for sometimes become tired but the fire still not coming out yet. So I’ll rest for awhile. Here also you’re working hard and still not seeing Nibbana yet. We’re tired now and should have a rest. After rejuvenate our strength and continue it. Now, I already have heard some voices like this from you. If I don’t get it now and will continue with this together in the future. It shows the sign of low spirits. During the time of rubbing the bamboos for fire and become tired, then resting for a while and continue will never get the fire. Therefore whatever it may be, wanting to get the fire has to continuously rub the bamboos from the beginning to the end until it comes out. Sayadawgyi said of arriving to the knowledge of disenchantment would know the uselessness of the khandha and would you want it again (i.e., disgusting and useless – without essence). Not wanting is the most important point. By getting the khandhas, bones were piling up like mountains. I want to talk about myself. Compare with you all I’m very unlucky. Because I was living among wrong views and doctrines (these were God based religions, western and eastern philosophies and other worldly knowledges) until my 35 years of age (see the introduction). Most of my past lives were born as Buddhists, even not an ordinary one. Instead I was serving for the benefits of the Buddha Sasana (such as Buddhist kings). But not becoming stream enterer before (i.e., sotapanna) that in this life was born into the parents of without the Sasana. If you were born by Muslim parents and also become a Muslim. You don’t have any chance and choice for selections. I tried to become a Buddhist from the time I had the knowledge about Buddhism. Only at the age of 35 that I become a Buddhist. At the time of making this decision still not a true Buddhist yet and only in name. Every year in the university I filled my application forms as no religions. (Here he continued to talk about his early life as a Buddhist and got lost in wrong teachings of worldly sects, such as tantra, mantra, and occult practices.) I took myself as a bodhisatta and not practiced vipassana. A bodhisatta (as a real one) must have completed with the following 8 factors. [These are: 1. A human being. 2. A male. 3. In this life he must mature with the paramis of becoming an arahat. 4. Encountered with a living Buddha (for the prophecy). 5. With the status of a hermit or a monk. 6. Completed with abinna (supernormal powers). 7. Making a very difficult offering (giving up his own life for it). 8. A strong desire of becoming a Buddha.] it’s only right as a human and a male for me. I don’t have other qualities; such as encountered a Buddha and had his prophecy before. I had made myself as a bodhisatta with conceit and craziness (most people are self style bodhisattas). At the time when I made the decision of practicing vipassana, my age was near 50.
Luckily I did the practice. And when I was discerning impermanence suffered greatly for 3 times. This was near the arising of the knowledge of disenchantment. At that time I didn’t know Mogok Sayadaw’s teaching yet. But I did know the nature of how knowledges happened. It seemed like bitten by 9 poisonous snakes, and I was very frightened. Enough was enough, and I didn’t want to become a Buddha anymore. At once I put down my desire of becoming a future Buddha. Having this severe and miserable khandha and I didn’t want to become a Buddha. Even this kind of khandha I didn’t want it for another life. I would fight with it to the end. My mind changed in to this direction. The description about bhangananam – the knowledge of dissolution and bhayananam – the knowledge of fearful were the whole body fell apart like sand grains. So I was waiting for it to happen. But what I experienced was like this. A very sharp pointed iron rod which was firing into red hot. It seemed like with this red hot sharp pointed rod poking in between the big toe and the other toe. It was burning, hot and sharp sensations. With one poking and burst into flames. It was happening for the whole day. It was internal combustion. I went to the teacher and reported about it; “You told us before that it was like sand grains fallen apart. But I was burning with fire.” The teacher gave me the answer; “Yogis are not the same nature. Some are leading by air element, some fire element and some earth element, etc. So there are different yogis. The elements have 7 types of nature.” Later I knew these things gradually. (The teacher was talking about the common experience in the practice. there was a book on samatha/vipassana practice by one of the Saya Thetgyi’s disciples. It was “Ditthadhamma Vipassana” and clear explanation about the experiences of insight development, based from the suttas, commentaries, Ledi’s Dipanis and yogis’ experiences.) Later U Ko Lay was approaching to me. (U Ko Lay was a former vice-chancellor of Mandalay University and a disciple of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.) He said to me; “U Sun Lwin, you’ll realize the Dhamma. This Dhamma had been confirmed practically before. But don’t talk with other.” At that time I was doing walking meditation. I didn’t reply to him because I had already made the resolution of noble silence. And then I did the practice without any deviation from the instruction. My insight knowledges were changing progressively. At that time I didn’t know anything about dispelling wrong views. (Not studied Mogok Sayadaw’s dhamma talks yet.) But I did know about dispelling ditthi with the practice. I had put down my desire of becoming a Buddha. If I didn’t get this khandha again was good enough to me.
And then arriving to the knowledge of equanimity towards formation sankharupakkhananam. I knew that my knowledge was changing. There were some Dhamma Quotations pasted in the meditation centre. One of them was; “Don’t concern about it; with the concerning and it’ll be slanted and overturned.” (The Dhamma Quotations seemed to be based on the sutta: “Bowl of Oil” in the Satipatthanasamytta. A death sentenced prisoner carried a bowl of oil filled to the brim. He had to pass between the crowd and the most beautiful girl of the land who danced and sung exquisitely. If the prisoner was restless and the oil bowl slanted, his head would be chopped off. Because an executioner was following behind him with a sword. If the prisoner had passed the crowd without spilled any oil and he was free.) I didn’t understand them. If you’re arriving to the last stage have to be equanimous or indifferent to the formations (sankhara dhamma). Don’t want to be in winning and losing, but to be in equanimity. If not ditthi will stick with you. We’re not free from ditthi for our whole lives. We’re suffered from ditthi. It’s our companion from young ages. From births parents were starting to teach us. They’re our first teachers. They’re teachers teaching you to stick with ditthi. I’m not blaming the parents. In accordance with the culture they have to be in this way. This is your father, mother, grandpa, grandma, etc. By giving names and become you and me. If I’m calling your name and will turn around and looking at me. Even it’s the same name and you’ll turn around. It’s not easy to change the whole process. We are in conditioning and it becomes a habit. We are making it to become a habitual tendency. The Russian psychologist Dr. Pavalov said that human beings were exercising themselves from the conscious mind into unconscious mind. For example, type-writing, playing piano, etc. With learning and practicing, at last no need to do it carefully or mindfully and it becomes automatic. In the world all we learn are for doing in this way, changing the conscious into unconscious mind. This is the way of worldlings. The way of Buddha was doing everything knowingly and mindfully. This is not an easy way. Making the conditioning into deconditioning. Is it not become conditioned by doing it again and again?
Dr. Pavalov did an experiment about it. In the morning he placed a plate of foods near a dog, and bound it with a chain for not reaching the foods. After ringing the bell and put the plate of foods in front of it. And then only the dog had the chance to eat the foods. Next day fed the dog in this way for sometimes. At last he rang the bell and not gave foods to the dog. Even the dog not seeing the foods and its saliva were dripping off. We’re making the conditioning in the reverse way. We’re practicing satipatthana for changing the unconscious mind into conscious mind. Before ditthi stuck with us was not knowing clearly. So we need to contemplate with sati. Mogok Sayadaw said that without the middle way couldn’t realize Dhamma. In reality only after dispelled ditthi is on the middle way. (This point is very important for all Buddhists, especially for practicing yogis.) Practicing in the extreme way not realize the Dhamma. It’s self-mortification – atta-kilamatha nuyogo. Another way is; I’ll realize the Dhamma, so following one’s desire in the practice. When in the difficult situations and wanting to give up. Enough now! I’ll try it again in next time. If you’re giving up, then this is following your desire. It’s the easy way – kama-sukhallikanuyogo. You have to practice in the middle way. It’s equanimity – upekkha. You’re seeing anicca, dukkha and anatta. How to pay attention to (or) contemplate it? This also not to do for a long period of time. Now instantly ditthi falls off and instantly magga arises (Path Knowledge).
The lay man came yesterday night was upasaka U Myint Htoo. In my whole life of propagating the Dhamma I had never seen a yogi suffered more them him. At the time of near realization his under feet were like cutting open with the razor blades. He informed me, “Ven. It’s so painful that my tears were falling down with the pain.” He was a teacher at a Mogok Vipassana Centre. (As a teacher himself and not realized the Dhamma yet.) He had been practiced for a long time, so lay down his conceit when came to me for the practice. He made a decision of during the practice, if the teacher was saying as white colour and it would be white colour. (i.e., have confidence in the teacher. This point is very important for yogi who practices under a teacher.) I would do it whatever the teacher told me. Only after making this determination and came to me for the practice. (He had made the right decision. There was an interesting incident between Sariputta and his former teacher Sanjaya Belatthaputta. After he and Maha Moggallana became stream winner (sotapannas) and went to see Sanjaya. They requested him together became the disciples of the Buddha. He rejected by asking them as, in the world which types of people were more between the wise and the fool. Sariputta gave the answer of more foolish people than wise. So Sanjaya told him not to worry for him of no followers. Because more fools would come to him and only a few would go to samana Gotama.) When he was suffered very badly and I asked him to have a rest. And then he asked me; “Ven. Do you know my spiritual faculties?” It wasn’t, and only I wanted him to have a rest. Not because I had this knowledge on faculties. At that time it appeared in my mind like this that asking him to rest. (Ven. Ananda also practicing very hard and his spiritual faculties were in the state of imbalance. He wanted to lie down mindfully and had the realization between the process.) Without the practice having a rest made him uneasy. But he continued with the contemplation by lying down. He was practicing after the dhamma talk at 7 p.m and nothing had happened. So it was better for him to sleep. It was between 10 and 11 p.m. From lying down with his back and turning to the right side. I told them before that yogis should lie down on the right side. But he wanted to turn to the left side. During turning the body from the right to the left side as soon as his back body touching the floor, magga arises. (The Path Knowledge.) Therefore realization of Dhamma is not just by sitting. When you let go of yourself and it can happen. It could be possible within second. Wanting to attain the Dhamma, let me die with the practice is including lobha and dosa states of mind. With the practice has to be indifferent or equanimous to the situations. Attainment or non-attainment is not our matters. Our task is practicing rightly.
- Content of "Eighteen Days In Solitude"