Penetration of the Five Dhammas

revised on 2021-07-28

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th to 9th Dec.1959

[Sayadaw delivered five talks on the 5-Dhammas; the taints (āsavas), action (kamma), suffering (dukkha), sensuality (kāma) and feeling (vedanā) respectively. It based on a sutta in the Aṅguttara-Nikāya which mentioned totally 6-Dhammas, including perception (sañña). But Sayadaw did not include it in his talks. ]


[The Buddha said to the monks, the reason living beings were wandering in the round of existence because of not knowing the Dhammas which should be penetrated. According to the sutta the 6-Dhamma is: sensuality, feeling, perception, taint, action and suffering. Each one of them has 6 points to know. On the taints (āsavas): 1. To know āsavas – The taint of sensuality (kāmāsava), the taint of becoming (bhavāsava), the taint of view(diṭṭhāsava) and the taint of ignorance(avijjāsava). The first three of them are like the followers and ignorance is like a leader. In the sutta the Buddha mentioned three only without the view. 2. To know the cause – ignorance is the leader and the other are functioning accordingly to its order. 3. To know the diversity – living beings take rebirth in the thirthy-one-realms of existence. 4. To know the result – kamma. 5. To know the cessation – to destroy avijjāsava, i.e., ignorance ceases the taints cease. 6. To know the path of practice for cessation – the Noble Eightfold Paths.]

In the early morning after wake up ignorance comes in. With the order of ignorance and all the other taints follow to act for the whole day. Every day of experience is the functions of the 4 taints. Without mindfulness we suffer by them. With mindfulness it becomes the contemplation on Dhamma (Dhammānupassanā). Every time they come and with sati contemplate its impermanence. I will talk on the fourth point which is the result. There are many types of taints giving the results to hell, animals, hungry ghosts, human beings, celestial beings and Brahma gods. Most people think taints usually lead to the planes of misery (apāya-bhūmi).


On kamma: Before talking on kamma, I want to talk about wrong view on kamma (kamma-vāda sassatadiṭṭhi – i.e., viewing kamma as permanent). It's very important. Most Buddhists say that before we are arriving at Nibbāna we have to rely on kammas. Why is that? Because it was mentioned in some of the discourses. Most Buddhists also think in this way. Kamma follows behind like an ox-cart and shadow were taught accordingly to the suttanta method. If you take it as a reality and it becomes wrong view of eternalism. It means as without changing. Kamma is volition and mental phenomenon. Making into aggregate; it's mental aggregate (saṅkhārakhandha). In the Discourse of Not-Self Characteristic (Anatta Lakkhaṇa Sutta), it mentioned as saṅkhāra anatta – volitional formations are not-self. Therefore, it also has the nature of impermanence. If following like a shadow, mean it's not changing. Then, it's not anatta (not-self), becomes self (atta – this is viewing kamma with wrong view.). Infer something indirectly to make it clear and take it meaning directly become wrong view. Regarding with the result of kamma, some kammas become fruitless and some are not. If not arriving to Nibbāna yet, then it's not fruitless yet. Kammic result can't follow directly, but you must take it as giving the same result. The action finished at the place where it had done. But it gives the same result at another place. If you take it as not following behind, then the view of eternalism is falling away. And take it as the same result arises, then the view of annihilationism also falls apart [(The last two sentences are important to dispel wrong views on kamma as permanence (sassata) and annihilation (uccheda). The wrong view on kamma comes from the Mahā Puṇṇama Sutta of Majjhima – Nikāya which Sayadaw mentioned here.)] He gave a very simple example to clear up the mistaken view. There are two candle sticks. In the first candle stick has light, and the second does not. You take the first candle light and lights it to the second one. And then light arises in the second one. Does it mean the first light is following it to the second one? No, it doesn't. If it's really following there, the light of the first one will be gone out. Is the second light nothing to do with the first light (i.e., no connection)? No, it has connection, the same thing is arising. If it's really following behind, the cause and effect become one or the same. They are not the same. Kamma is the cause and vipāka is the result. They are not the same nor different (but only cause and effect relationship). This point is very important. Practicing with wrong view will not realize the Dhamma.

You have to know kamma in 6 points. These are: (1) To know the type of kamma. (2) To know the cause of kamma. (3) To know the diversity of kamma. (4) To know the result of kamma. (5) To know the cessation of kamma. (6) To know the way of cessation of kamma.

(1) There are three types of kamma; i.e., bodily, verbal and mental action.
(2) What is the cause of kamma? It arises by contact (phassa). As an example, if you don't see the foods, the desire to eat doesn't come. You see the foods and the desire to eat arise. The 3kammas arise because of contact.
(3) There’re many diversities of kammas leading beings to hells, animals, hungry ghosts, human beings, celestial beings and Brahma gods.
(4) The results of kamma are: (a) The result will get in this life within 7 days, 7 months and 7 years. (b) The result will get in next life. (c) The result will get until before Nibbāna to the last life (until the last existence as an arahant, e.g., Mahā-Moggallāna).
(5) Nibbāna is the place where kamma cease to arise. When the 8-Path factors arise it ceases. Kamma ceases and dukkha ceases (Here contact-phassa cease and kamma cease).
(6) Practice the Noble Eightfold Path kamma will cease.

Every time volitional mental state arises contemplate impermanence, then craving not arise. Whenever mind/body exists, the volition (kamma) exists. Volition ceases and mind/body ceases. Physical kamma with mind/body, verbal kamma with mind/body and mental kamma with mind/body; they are arising together respectively (sahajāta paccaya – co-nascence condition). You don't need to have doubt as if volition ceases, mind/body cease or not? If you don't contemplate, you must get the mind and body because of volition. If you get mind and body, then old age, sickness and death will follow as the truth of dukkha. Kamma is creating round of existence of action (kammavaṭṭa) and the result of round of existence (vipākavaṭṭa). With the vipākavaṭṭa has the defilement of round of existence (kilesavaṭṭa). Not contemplate the volition with insight knowledge the three rounds of existence continue in cycle. Opening the eyes and close the eyes are kammas (Wanting to open and close, these are volitions.). But it does not need to contemplate only on volitions in the contemplation; all including with volition by contemplation on mind, feeling and dhamma. No need to make a selection.


On dukkha: There are six points of dukkha are:

  1. To know dukkha (Sayadaw used dukkha which was mentioned in The First Discourse of The Buddha). Birth is dukkha (jātipi dukkhā). Look at back this dukkha you had before. Do you know it? No, you don't. It's ignorance. Old age is dukkha. Do you know you are burning with this heat element? Again you don't know it. This is the power of ignorance. Do you know sickness? You know, even animals know it. But you don't know the illness which always need for adjustment as dukkha (i.e., bodily dukkha or discomfort, as e.g., hungry and thirsty so we have to eat and drink etc. These are saṅkhāra dukkha and there are more than that. There are a lot of things to do for the whole day. It's very important for contemplation to this kind of dukkha and has dispassion for the khandhas). Therefore, dukkha is difficult to know. It will end only by understanding dukkha. Death is dukkha (māraṇaṃ dukkha). Do you know it? You don't know it yet, because you are still alive. You can die at any time but every day you can laugh and smile, means you don't know it. There are many dukkhas and covering up by ignorance that we don't know it. These are sorrow, lamentation pain, grief and despair etc. We have seen all of these every day. Do we know them as dukkha? No, we don't, and we think it as normal. Therefore, there is a saying; the truth of dukkha is not easy to know. The last dukkha is clinging to the 5-khandhas. This only can be known by insight knowledge. This dukkha always exists. Not everybody knows it. So it's covered up by ignorance. By penetration of dukkha and the origin of dukkha, i.e., samudaya dies. Therefore, the truth of dukkha is difficult to know. In all the truth it's the most difficult to know. If you know it will realize the ending of dukkha. The 5-khandhas are dukkha phenomena. It only ceases by thorough penetration so I have to warn you on this point very often. In reality it's important to know the ever changing dukkha of the healthy body (not the physical pain). Only the progressive yogi can know it. The kind of dukkha even can know by dog and pig, not realize Nibbāna. Rootless (ahetuka) and two-rooted (dvehetuka) person can't know it. Only three-rooted person (tihetuka) can know it. Even tihetuka person can know it by discerning the highest level of impermanence and not by the lower level. There are two kinds of dukkha. One dukkha can be treated by medicine and the other one cannot. You will realize Nibbāna only by seeing the dukkha which can't be cured by medicine. It has no time for treatment. Dukkha can't be cured by medicine is the real dukkha.
  2. To know the cause of dukkha: It causes by lobha samudaya (greed).
  3. To know the diversity of dukkha: Have to know 4-types; small dukkha, big dukkha, slow dukkha and fast dukkha. Add another two; can be cured and cannot be cured by medicine. There are these 6-types of dukkha in the body only. (Sayadaw did not explain them but we can know it by contemplation).
  4. To know the result of dukkha: For the worldling (puthujjana), it is followed by sorrow, lamentation, grief and despair. Tihetuka person who sees that impermanent dukkha extinguishes sorrow, lamentation, etc. will realize sukha Nibbāna and dukkha is ended.
  5. To know the cessation of dhukkha: This is Nibbāna.
  6. To know the way: It's the Noble Eightfold Path. A person develops the path factors will end dukkha and not by prayers. In the 6 points of dukkha connect the first and the sixth. After understanding about dukkha and develop with the path factors (contemplate the 5-khandhas with the path factors).


On sensuality (kāma): In the beginning, Sayadaw talked about the practice of Ven. Anuruddha who had conceit (māna), over effort (viriya) and worry which were intruding in his practice. Later he was corrected by Ven. Sāriputta and became an arahant. Sayadaw reminds his disciples to be careful in their practice and have equanimity in all situations.

Conceit (māna) is greed (lobha) (Sayadaw told the story of Anuruddha). Māna, over viriya and worry were intruding in his practice, that without development. He had success in samatha practice but not in the practice of insight. So the three-hindrances for the realization of Path and Fruit are māna, restlessness (uddhacca) and worry. Hinder for the lower level of knowledge to higher level of knowledge. If you don't have the realization, one of them is hindering of it. Observe with right attitude whatever arising during the practice. Don't let the worry "why I don't have it yet?" coming in. You might ask how to do it. Just observe in accordance with the Dhamma (dhammānu-dhammappaṭipatti)! Simply contemplate as it is. Before it shows its nature and observes from behind. Don't let other phenomena come in and mix-up with it. Regarding to viriya, in the 4-supreme efforts, there nothing is excessive and only equilibrium. Just observe what the Dhamma shows you and it will not take long and realize it.

  1. To know sensuality (2) To know the cause (3) To know the diversity (4) To know the result (5) To know the cessation (6) To know the way of practice.
(1) Kāma means the nature of desire, wanting, affection. I am an affectionate person is a sweet word but hinder the knowledge.
(2) Contact (phassa) is the cause of sensuality. For example, affection between each other is only after contact. Do you have any affection to your past lives family members? No affection come, because no contact with them.
(3) The diversity of kāma is: These are the 5-desires for the form, sound, smell, taste and touch.
(4) The result is: Living beings create many kammas because of greed (lobha).
(5) The cessation of kāma: The cessation of the 5-cords of kāma (No. 3) is Nibbāna.
(6) The way of practice: The Noble Eightfold Path.

There are two kāmas; the object of sensuality (vatthu kāma) and defilements of sensuality (kilesa kāma). These are the 5-khandhas and the mind attach to them. Kilesa kāma is sticking to the objects of kāma. Contemplate the vatthu kāma for insight. You can contemplate any one of the 5-khandhas. You can't realize Nibbāna because you can't separate the two kāmas. You can't separate because you have something of attaching to. So contemplate the impermanent nature of vatthu kāma and the desire for clinging not come in. Instead it becomes the object of insight. Not become the object of affection. Have to know where the object of kāma comes from? Take the object as permanence and it becomes sensuality. If the object of kāma falls apart then kilesa kāma falls off. You must clear about this point. It falls away by discerning impermanence. You can contemplate anything and it will fall away. If it's falling away and not exists for clinging, kilesa kāma falls off. So anicca leads to Nibbāna is clear. (Sayadaw gave an example as the cause of permanent sign – nimitta created the defilement of sensuality with the story of Rāhula.) He went for alms round with the Buddha. Looking at the Buddha's form and his own had developed the permanent sign and became conceited. The Buddha knew his mind and asked him to contemplate impermanence.


On feeling: The Buddha had arisen in this world or not is depending on the knowledge of each person. If you discern anicca, dukkha and anatta in the khandhas then the Buddha had arisen, and if you don't see it then it's not. You become Mr. and Mrs. Emptiness or Zero, or a person without values. The three-universal characteristics always exist without the Buddha appeared in this world or not. With the Buddha had arisen, we have the chance to know it. (Mentioned in the Aṅguttara-Nikāya) With the practice and discerning anicca, you should have gladness about that which will end your dukkha in this life. If you discern anicca it becomes Sandiṭṭhiko=visible here and now which is one of the qualities of Dhamma (there are 6-attributes of Dhamma). If you put more effort and will see Nibbāna at the ending of impermanence which is akāliko=non-temporal. You may want to ask me. I have discerned anicca but not arrive at the ending yet. It means the discernment is not mature yet. Sandiṭṭhiko is not mature yet. Svākkhāto – the Dhamma is well expounded by the Awakened One, sandiṭṭhiko – it's visible here and now, akāliko – non-temporal; these three-attributes of the Dhamma are similar to learning (pariyatti or ñāta pariññā, practice (patipatti or tīrāṇa pariññā) and the fruit or result (pativedha or pahāna pariññā). How do we know the ending of anicca when the discerning knowledge becomes mature? The arising phenomenon is dukkha and the passing away is also dukkha. Except only dukkha nothing exists. If you can make this decision the anicca will end. At the ending Nibbāna appears.

(1) To know about feelings: Feeling has three-kinds; pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feeling.
(2) To know the cause of feeling: it's the contact (phassa).
(3) To know the diversity of feeling: three-kinds connection with sensuality and three-kinds connection with practice. (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral with kāma and pleasant, unpleasant and neutral with meditation), so totally 6-feelings.
(4) To know the result of feeling: Because of feeling creates wholesome and unwholesome kammas.
(5) To know the cessation of feeling: The ending of feeling is Nibbāna.
(6) To know the way: The Noble Eightfold Path.

revised on 2021-07-28; cited from (posted on 2018-12-15)

  • Content of Part 3 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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