The Four Arahants and an Ordinary Monk

revised on 2019-04-20

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 19th October 1961

The first arahant contemplated on the 6-contacts (phassa) (The 6-sense objects contact with the 6-sense doors). When the eyes meet the form feeling arises. Contact is phassa and feeling is vedanā. He contemplated their impermanence, became disenchantment and saw their ending. These 3-knowledges developed step by step.

The second arahant contemplated the 5-khandhas and seeing impermanence (anicca). (In the same way as above developed 3 stages, with the ending of anicca and realized Nibbāna) The third arahant contemplated the 4-great elements and realized Nibbāna. The fourth arahant contemplated whatever arising as impermanence. Seeing impermanence is yathābhūta ñāṇa (the knowledge of seeing as it is), disenchantment is nibbidā ñāṇa and after penetrated it as dukkha sacca, the Path Knowledge arises and seeing Nibbāna.

A worldly monk came to the first arahant and asked him how he realized Nibbāna. Contemplate the impermanence of the 6-kinds of contact will realize Nibbāna. He went to the second arahant and asked the same question. He said to him; "You have the right view. Right view is Nibbāna. Tell me what to contemplate to get Nibbāna right view." The monk gave the answer of his experience. The difference between them was the object numbers of 6 and 5. So it dissatisfied him. Both of them were talking about contemplation of impermanence. He did not take the main point of contemplation of anicca, only aware of the 6 and 5 numbers of differences. And then went to the 3rd arahant and asked the same question. It's like give a talk to a mathematician. After the 3rd arahant he went to the 4th and asked the same question. He was even worse and only talked about anicca. The worldly monk was dissatisfied with all the answers. He could not take the point. They were all talking about the important of seeing impermanence and not the numbers of 6,5,4,1. The dissatisfaction came from following or chasing the numbers. The main point is impermanence. Have to follow the anicca, dukkha, anatta and dukkha sacca. Nibbāna is only one. Don't be confused. There are 12-links of Dependent Arising but at the end of each one of the link only impermanence exists. Catch hold of this point. The arising and passing away is the Real Way to Nibbāna. Whatever the teachers are talking about the decision to arrive Nibbāna is impossible without seeing anicca. So don't make any accusation to anyone. Their teachings are also right (may be Sayadaw referred to the systems existed in his time). There are differences without holding the main point of impermanence. Dhamma without impermanence will not arrive at Nibbāna. Make this point clear. If you discern impermanence it's right dhamma. Start from impermanence. Masters in the Ti-piṭaka also start from anicca. After that the monk went to ask the Buddha. The differences were only on the way of practice. The Buddha explained with a simile. Dependent on the seasons the riddle tree (in Burmese Pauk tree) has different forms. During flowering season it's red. During bearing fruits season like an acacia tree, etc. (SN 35. 245, Kiṃsukopamasutta, The Riddle Tree) There are 5-khandhas. Have to contemplate all the five or their impermanent nature? The Buddha talked for not going wrong. It's important to follow the root and not each of them. Following whatever dhamma arising and they will teach you. They will tell you the Truth, "I am not here anymore", "I am not here anymore". When it is said "not there" by following with nodding your head, in this way, craving, conceit, wrong view (taṇhā, māna, diṭṭhi) or the papañca dhamma (proliferation) cannot come in. Impermanence is calling you Ehi-passiko – come and contemplate me. Sandiṭṭhiko – you have to follow it by direct experience. The arising dhamma is Ehi-passiko and the contemplative mind is Sandiṭṭhiko. People are suffered for not following the dhamma calling. Dhamma is calling you and also disappearing. It's something like someone is drowning and at the same time looking for water.

Here also the same. If you have khandhas and also have impermanence, you have to blame yourself for not having the Seeing Eye. The teacher needs to fix the eye for you. Don't look for dhamma, but for a teacher who can fix the eye for you. People are asking for dhamma, it is quite difficult for me because the body is dhamma. The 5-khandhas divided by Satipaṭṭhāna become 4-Satipaṭṭhāna. Āyatana, dhātu … etc., all are including in these 4. This is the dhamma taught by every Buddha. It looks like herding for 4-cows. Form, feeling, mind whatever you are contemplating try to discern anicca. All of them are converging at anicca. Therefore, don't be too many dhammas. Although the Buddha entered Nibbāna he left 3-cups of medicines behind, anicca, dukkha and anatta medicines. Contemplate anicca more and more and become mature and then anicca become Truth of Dukkha. At first you are seeing impermanence. After maturing it become disenchantment. At last, arriving at the most mature stage you can make a decision that it's truly dukkha sacca. And then all are ended, and here is not changing. The mind becomes sharp. Why it becomes sharp? By sharpening a knife, there are beginning, middle and the end stages. Which stage is sharper? All 3-stages are the same knife. The mind process is also in this way. Just observe. Fulfillment of perfection (pāramī) is not like a bucket overflow with water. It's talking about the mind (ñāṇa) becomes sharp. Therefore, your duty is like sharpening a knife. Continue to sharpen the mind. The first sharpening kills the active defilement (kilesas). The second one kills the defilement arising from the mind. The most sharpened one kills the latent defilement (anusaya). It's the knife can kill all the 3-types of kilesas. Whatever contemplation is, just see anicca.

revised on 2019-04-20; cited from (posted on 2016-08-01)

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