By Listening to Emptiness Dhamma; and Emptiness Nibbāna

revised on 2019-04-19

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 11th September 1961

It's beneficial to listen to emptiness (suññatā) dhamma. With emptiness and realize emptiness Nibbāna. This is important. The Buddha taught Mogharāja, if you could see emptiness you would realize Nibbāna. One time Ānanda requested the Buddha to explain the emptiness of the world (suññatā loka). Contemplate a dhamma as empty of I and mine. What are the things to contemplate? Contemplate the eye, form as not I and not mine. With the contact of eye and form, and eye-consciousness arises. This also is not I and not mine. Eye-consciousness and feeling arise by contact (phassa). All three of them also are not I and not mine. If you can contemplate in this way and will be free from the kingdom of death. Today I'll talk about this short and effective dhamma. Why should I teach emptiness? Because it will disappear with Nibbāna. Even now in this Buddha's Teaching, it's nearly disappeared to talk about mind-body (nāma-rūpa) and people don't understand it because there's no person or living being. If talk about the 5-aggregates (khandhas) are arising and passing away, only few people want to pay attention to it. Khandha, āyatana (base ~ 6 internal bases and 6-external bases; 6-sense doors and 6-sense objects), element (dhātu) and truth (sacca) are empty phenomena (suññatā dhamma). In the future no one will teach about it. Even find fault with someone who talks about it. In the aggregates there are no I and mine means it's empty of a person or a living being. The arising and passing away of aggregates are empty of me and mine.

(Here Sayadaw used feeling to teach emptiness) I am in pain is wrong view (diṭṭhi means view, but it always means for wrong view without adding right or wrong in front of it). And then it follows by clinging to view (diṭṭhupādāna) and action (kamma). (See the 12-links of Dependent Co-arising). Because of feeling and becomes I feel. The 3-causes for the "future becoming" come into the process (i.e., diṭṭhi, diṭṭhupādāna and kamma). (Because we can't view it as emptiness. Without emptiness Dependent Arising process is continuous and becoming the round of existence (Saṁsāra). If this dhamma disappears, the teaching will disappear. Without the penetration of emptiness, I and mine will follow everyone all the time (I is wrong view and mine is craving). It happens because we can't see emptiness and leads to bad destination (duggati). Someone will say "not I" is a difficult thing. In reality, not I lead to Nibbāna. To Nibbāna you don't need to choose a place for practice (It can practice anywhere, not the same as samatha practice). I'll show you the practice. By seeing the feeling is arising, and the concept of "I" falls away. By watching and observing the arising of feeling; its life span is only one and two. One is arising and two is passing away. By seeing of passing away, the mine does not exist anymore. By seeing impermanence, both "I" and "mine" fall away. In the 31-realms of existence only impermanence exists. Other things are only given names. Feeling only has the job of to feel and not my business.

Insight meditation is the work of watching and observing. Feeling arises and disappears. It disappears because it's not mine. And then craving has fallen away. Then you know the emptiness of feeling. Contemplative knowledge (ñāṇa) becomes the knowledge of emptiness. Craving is the cause of dukkha and the aggregates. With the truth of dukkha is gone; there is the arising of the Path Knowledge and the ending of dukkha. Therefore, the Buddha said that by arriving to the emptiness so as not to be seen by Death means Nibbāna. Here are the important points to note. By knowing a dhamma is arising and wrong view fall off, and with the passing away craving fall apart. Not realize the first Nibbāna is not understanding of emptiness. Not from book knowledge but by directly. For example, a pleasant feeling arises in the body. By knowing directly of its arising, then the I-ness falls away. It's not me, just only feeling, and it becomes empty of me. It's not mine that it passes away.

Therefore, seeing impermanence is without the I-ness and mine-ness. This is the knowledge of emptiness. Contemplate more and more it becomes the Path (magga). The arising is dukkha and the passing away is also dukkha. By fully understanding (pariññā) of this and then from the insight knowledge it becomes Path knowledge. Then all these arising and passing away come to an end. Dukkha nirodho Nibbānaṁ~ the cessation of dukkha is Nibbāna. Taṇhā nirodho Nibbānaṁ~ the cessation of craving is Nibbāna. The Path knowledge understands dukkha and sees Nibbāna. (With the truth of the path, the other truths are fulfilled. The Commentary gave the simile of a boat carrying people and crossing the river from this shore to the other shore. This side is the truth of dukkha, the river is the cause of dukkha and the other side is the end of dukkha. The boat is the truth of the path which done the other jobs.) Impermanence is the dhamma of not I and not mine. Therefore, by contemplating impermanence, wrong view and craving fall away. Emptiness mainly destroyed wrong view, but also including craving. By seeing the arising of phenomena overcomes the identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi) and annihilationism (uccheda diṭṭhi). And seeing the passing away overcomes eternalism (sassata diṭṭhi).

revised on 2019-04-19; cited from (posted on 2016-07-22)

  • Content of Part I on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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