Observe the Impermanence of Mind-Body as a Stranger

revised on 2021-01-27

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 1st March 1959

If you can discern the impermanence of the refined mind-body, then you have the three wholesome roots (Tihetuka=i.e., non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion). In this life you can realize Nibbāna. If you are two rooted (without non-delusion) you can't realize it. (But still the yogi should not give up his/her practice and practice regularly for their whole life for the root of wisdom to grow. It will bring great benefits to him/her daily life and at the time of dying.) This is an important point. I will make the decision for you. Don't go and ask for anyone. Don't give up your effort and try to practice regularly. Making the decision by practicing is the best right way. If you pray for Nibbāna, I can't take the responsibility for you. (This is a very important point for Buddhist and non-Buddhist.) If you see anicca, I take the responsibility. There were references in the Pali Discourses. The Buddha also said it in the Dhammapada. If you get the Yathābhūta Ñāṇa or Udayabbaya Ñāṇa (both mean seeing impermanence), then it's for sure (But need to practice hard.)(Sayadaw showed an example of seeing anicca by scratching on the hand downwardly with a fingernail. The yogi will know the sensations are arising and passing away by following one by one.). If you see them as a shape or form, you see it very coarsely. Seeing the mind and form (nāma-rūpa) arising and passing away, then you see its refinement. Only ñāṇa can penetrate the refinement. You can't see it with the eye. Then you have the right view. It's yathābhūta ñāṇa. See with the five path factors (maggaṅga). Mind and form are changing because it's not mine. If you take it as mine then there is no one crazier than that. Don't confuse with the I-ness in the impermanent nature. Taking something not existing as mine is also not a worldly usage. If it's not yours then it is a stranger. Therefore, Sāriputta said it was a stranger (prato) and contemplated as a stranger. Mind and form phenomena are changing accordingly to their own nature. And if you take that as nothing to do with you then you are seeing it as a stranger. It's equivalent to prato. If you view mind and form as a stranger, it's right view. Because craving, clinging and action are cutting off (see the 12-links of Dependent Arising). They are born together. Do they follow the desire of the mind? It doesn't follow. They are arising and passing away according to their nature. If you want to arrive Nibbāna and they are strangers to you. So observing them as strangers will arrive there.

You all had been to the painful existences before which were the results of taking the strangers as your relatives. The big hell cauldrons with a lot of fire were the outcome of your thinking and doing which made them appear. If you want to build the hells just build it from here. Want to destroy it also from here. People afraid of hells but they build it from here. Are hells frightening or wrong view? You have to cure wrong view. Wrong view will lead to painful rebirths. Right view is to Nibbāna. On the day you have right view, the doors to painful rebirths are closed. The causes to painful rebirths and free from it are depending on the wrong and right views. You only have these two ways. If you see them as in shapes of forms it is wrong view, but seeing as arising here and disappearing here is right view. You are seeing the refined phenomena. Seeing as shapes or forms is samatha. Seeing the refinement is vipassanā. They are so‐called conceptual view versus actual view (paññatti and paramatā views); the coarse view versus the refined view.

(Sayadaw was playing a trick by asking a question to the audience. Sometimes Sayadaw's talks were humorous and penetrative.) To see as a stranger, what has to be observed? (And then some of them responded immediately.) It's one's own body. You see people are in troubles because of that. It seems that without me is nothing possible in life. All your parents taught you in this way. You have to observe mind and form as nothing to do with me. (And then Sayadaw was asking another question and answered by himself.) Whose mind and form it is? You will come again with the ME. If someone comes and hurts ME or MINE, you will become unbearable (even in speech). Even you can't bear the hateful look which someone shows you. If it's a stranger, then no affection comes to be (you must understand why the Buddha mentioned craving – taṇhā is the cause of suffering.). There is also no clinging and action, so dependent Arising is cut off. If you make them as family members and it will continue. Sāriputta said that if you could observe impermanence as a stranger, it was the same as hitting the tip of a hair with an arrow (A beautiful Pali verse with a famous saying by him.) If you can observe impermanence in this way and arriving at this point, you understand anatta (not-self). Because of the resultant body (vipāka vaṭṭa khandha=kammic body), this body still exists. In reality by seeing impermanence you see Nibbāna momentarily (This point is important for contemplation. There are profound meanings behind it.). Therefore, you have to see impermanence as a stranger, seeing its disenchantment and its ending, and then you will see the unchanging Nibbāna. This is Path Knowledge (maggañāṇaṁ).

revised on 2021-01-27; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2945&start=10#p32979 (posted on 2016-08-13)

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