The Functional Knowledge of Change

revised on 2019-05-26

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 1st July 1961

[In this talk, Sayadaw talked about the functional knowledge of change (vipariṇāma), one of the meanings of Dukkha. There are 16 meanings of the Four Noble Truths. Each truth has 4-meanings. Sayadaw gave 19-talks on these subjects in Mandalay City from sixth to 25th December 1957. Especially the meanings on dukkha are very good for contemplation. In some of the suttas, the Buddha even mentioned that he only taught dukkha and the ending of dukkha. Only by penetrating dukkha thoroughly we can let go of craving and attachment. One of the meanings of dukkha is saṅkhāra dukkha (saṅkhatato). We can see this one in everyday life all the time and quite an extensive one, cover up everything. By contemplation on this one point very often have the very strong dispassion and disinterest in worldly matters.

In Sāvatthī the Buddha gave a talk on hell and one monk asked him if there was anything more frightening than the Pariḷāha Hell. Not knowing the truth or not cutting off one’s own dependent arising process was more frightening than the hell because diṭṭhi was the seed of hell. Sayadaw said most Buddhists have the wrong idea that hells are already existed there for us. Actually our wrong views, defilements and actions create these things for us. Another important point he said was we can observe anicca from consciousness to kamma bhava will no kammic result. If we can’t discern anicca, the process will continue. ]

After arriving to hell, the hell fire is so strong that it blinding the eyes. The crying of the hell beings is deafening the ears. The smell of the hell is so horrible that the nose can be fallen off. The food and drink of hell are burning the mouth, tongue, small and large intestines. And the hot iron-liquid are fallen out from the bottom. The clothing of the hell is burning the bodies. Even thinking about them is burning you. Nothing is good there. (Mahā Pariḷāha Niraya = The Great Burning Hell).

There are still having chances to be freed from this hell. But not knowing the truth is more frightening than the hell. Because of not knowing – the ignorance (avijjā) is establishing all these hells. It’s not happening by itself. These are done by people not knowing the truth. The things in the hell and fallen into it are creating by one’s own unwholesome kammas. It’s easy to go there and easy to free from it. Whatever arises, you must know as the truth of dukkha. You have to be afraid of not knowing and how to cut off the paṭiccasamuppāda process. Don’t be afraid of the hells. By knowing the truth, the hells are closed off. Kammas open the doors of the hell and knowledge (Ñāṇa) closing them off. Don’t take the idea of that it’s already there. One’s own kamma is making preparation there. (This point had evidence in the Sutta of Nandiya Upāsaka’s story of heavenly mansions. These were already there even before he died. (DhA.iii.290ff & VvA.222f (The Vimāna Vatthu Commentary)) One’s own dukkha is one’s own paṭiccasamuppāda process which creating it. Kamma can’t do anything by itself. Making arrangement by defilements and constructing by actions. Don’t be afraid of kamma but kilesas. As an example, it’s like the arrow (kamma) and the shooter (taṇhā). You have to be afraid of the shooter not the arrow. The Buddha did not mention about not thinking, if you want, just thinking about the Four Noble Truths for Nibbāna. From thoughts on sensual pleasure (kāma vitakka), ill-will (vyāpāda vitakka) and harmfulness (vihiṁsā vitakka) come taṇhā, māna and diṭṭhi. Today I’ll talk about the truth of dukkha on change (vipariṇāma). Change is dukkha sacca and without change is nirodha sacca. Arising and passing away is vipariṇāma. If you can discern vipariṇāma then it’s the functional knowledge (kicca ñāṇa). Arising and passing away is the function of the mind/body process (kicca), and the knowing is ñāṇa. The changing nature is not causeless. It comes from ageing and death (jarā and maraṇa) carrying along with it.

revised on 2019-05-26; cited from (posted on 2018-12-14)

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