Take Kamma as Permanence

revised on 2019-06-14

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 25th November 1959

[Sayadaw said we could misrepresent the Buddha in two ways. From hearing the teaching and giving a wrong talk (From Aṅguttara-Nikāya; some Buddhists even created new ideas and concepts into the Buddha Teachings. This point is also important to think about.) As an example, a frog after hearing the voice of the Buddha and died, and reborn as a devata (deity). Most Buddhists thought that a frog changed into a devata. This is a permanent view (sassata-diṭṭhi). Someone gave a talk on Nibbāna and explained it as annihilationism (uccheda-diṭṭhi). Both of them are wrong views, and obstruct Nibbāna. In all of the Buddha Teachings, he explained in 2-ways; direct and indirect ways. Sayadaw gave another example in the Middle Discourses, Mahātaṇhā¬saṅkhaya Sutta, about Bhikkhu Sāti (MN 38). He heard the Jataka Stories from the Buddha (especially the 10 great Jataka stories; Vessantara, Mahosadha, Temiya… etc.), and took it directly as only the bodies of them died but not the mind of the Bodhisatta. He took viññāṇa as permanent, only changed the physical bodies, but the mind unchanged and continued to the next life. Most people of the world have this view, i.e., the permanent soul.

Sayadaw based this talk on the Mahāpuṇṇama Sutta of Middle Length Discourses (MN 109, this sutta provides a thorough discussion of issues related to the 5-aggregates. Sayadaw based on a sutta but he never used the whole one, only a part of it or the main point for the teaching.) After vassa (rain retreat), some monks visited the Buddha on the full moon day. The leader of the group asked the Buddha questions. What is the clinging aggregate (upādānakkhandha)? The 5-khandhas; answered the Buddha. Are they the same or other (clinging and aggregates)? Without clinging no khandhas and no clinging can't have the khandhas. The monk continued to ask questions. After sometimes the Buddha asked the monks each of the 5-khandhas as impermanence (anicca) or permanence (nicca) and dukkha (suffering) or sukha (happiness). The bhikkhus answered as impermanence and suffering. The Buddha continued to ask; if dukkha, each khandhas can be said, this is mine, this I am and this is my self. During that moment, one of the bhikkhus had this thought: if the 5-khandhas were not-self (anatta), what should I rely on? May be I should rely on my kammas. The Buddha knew his thought and admonished him, and continued again to ask the questions as above. They answered that it was not-self (anatta) and at the same time they observed their khandhas and answered what they had seen. After the talks they all became arahants.

Most Buddhists as the monk above take kamma as permanence or have the view of kammavādī sassata–diṭṭhi. The beings are followed by their kammas after dying like an ox-cart of the wheel (negative kamma) or like a shadow (positive kamma). These were taught by the Buddha indirect way by using similes to understand the law of kamma.]

There are two worries; misunderstanding of the Dhamma by listening and by teaching Dhamma. Teaching by similes and taking them directly is wrong. (He gave the story of a frog.) The mind/body of the frog and the mind/body of the devata were quite different. Nothing was following there. It becomes wrong view by listening with misunderstanding. Has wrong view in the connection of the khandhas process. If you can't teach in the way to free from wrong view, it moves towards the view of permanence (sassata-diṭṭhi). It also leads to wrong view with the exaggeration on the direct teaching. (e.g., Bhikkhu Yamaka's view on Nibbāna, we can also know from the Buddhist history that some new ideas and views came from this kind of thinking and looked like a God religion.) There are three methods which can't be mistaken and deviated; these are Law of Conditional Relations (Paṭṭhāna), Law of Dependent Arising (Paṭicca-samuppāda) and Truths (Sacca). With the others, if don't know how to interpret them and easy to become wrong views. Take Nibbāna as just only the cessation of greed, hatred and delusion is also wrong view. It's the same as nothing arises.

The leader of the monks asked the Buddha; “There are clinging (upādāna) and aggregates (khandhas). Are they the same or different? “The Buddha answered that they were not the same nor different and without the khandhas there was no clinging. The khandhas could not exist if there was no clinging. “What is the cause of the khandhas?” “We do want it for ourselves and therefore we pray and making kammas for it.” “Please, tell us the diversity of the khandhas?” “They are the khandhas of the past, present and future. “Please, tell us how the identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi) comes to be?” “Take all the 5-khandhas as me or mine so that identity view comes to be.” “Please, tell us how the identity view not comes to be?” “If you contemplate the 5-khandhas as these are not mine, these are not I am, these are not my-self, then no identity view comes to be.” “Please, explain to us more about it.” Then the Buddha asked them to contemplate each of the 5-khandhas as not-self. By explaining in this way, one of the monks was thinking like this, if all were not-self, which one should I make it as me or mine? Which one should I rely on? May be I have to rely on my kammas. Most people (Buddhists) take kamma as mother and father and rely on them. Most Buddhists are in fear of the extinction of life (bhāva) that they rely on kammas and connecting them. (Wrong views and craving for becoming are so strong that some create paradises in the heavens and can’t let go their clinging for them; i.e., sakkāya Diṭṭhi and Bhāva Taṇhā)

revised on 2019-06-14; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4031&p=35588#p35588 (posted on 2018-12-15)

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