Inward Exploration

revised on 2019-07-02

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 25th September 1962, 28th November 1960 1st to 2nd December 1960

[ Sayadaw gave these talks (here four talks) based on the Sammasa Sutta of Nidānavagga Saṃyutta (SN 12. 66). The Buddha asked the monks if they were engaged in inward exploration. One of the monks answered as he explored the 32-parts of the body. But the way he explained did not satisfy the Buddha. So he taught the monks how to engage in inward exploration. ]


The khandhas have impermanent nature. We were born as blind, and will die as blind people if without knowing it. Don’t die as worldlings but as sekha and asekha (sekha=trainee, three lower grades of noble disciples. Asekha = one beyond training, i.e., an arahant), and will be ended dukkha. It’s important to explore you yourself. This was taught by the Buddha in Kurus (present day New Delhi Area). One of the monks explored the 32 parts of the body but the dhamma standard was low. The Buddha wanted them to explore the truth (i.e., sacca). There are a lot of ageing and death in the body. The 28 matters (physical body) and 53 minds [ These 53 minds are according to the Abhidhamma: 52 mental factors (cetasikas) + with one consciousness (citta)] are due to be old and die. It becomes apparent that there is nothing, only the truth of dukkha exists. Ageing and death are truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca), and the contemplation is truth of the path (magga sacca).

Contemplate in this way the dhamma to Nibbāna appears. Continue to contemplate as where the ageing and death of the truth of dukkha comes from? Ageing and death dhamma come from the khandhas. Ageing and death is dukkha sacca, and the khandhas is samudaya sacca (Khandha is the cause of ageing and death). The knowing of it is magga sacca. People are praying for the khandha is the same as making the prayers to get dukkha sacca because the khandha is carrying ageing and death with it. You must pray for the ending of khandha, and I urge you for the practice. Continue to contemplate where is the khandha come from? In this way the dhamma for the practice is becoming apparent.

The Buddha was using the way of paṭiloma (The reverse order of Dependent Arising) to find the cause. It comes from the desire of becoming. Taṇhā-craving is the source of dhamma. Khandha is dukkha sacca and taṇhā is samudaya sacca. Therefore, I have to warn you. Don’t pray for the becoming whatever wholesome merits you are doing. You will get the khandha and follow by ageing and death. Again contemplate where is taṇhā coming from? It comes from the affection to the khandhas. We regard to the five khandhas as pleasant and desirable things.

That becomes craving for it. Not understanding the second section of the Dependent Arising that becomes affection. (Divide the 12 links of D. A will get the four sections: Avijjā → saṅkhāra → / viññāṇa → nāma-rūpa → saḷāyatana → phassa → vedanā → / taṇhā → upādāna → kammabhava → / jāti → jarā, maraṇa). (Here the second section is from viññāṇa to vedanā). Therefore if you understand them you have no affection to it. If you don’t understand them as truth of dukkha you will attach to it. You have to correct the second section. You all take it as truth of happiness. Because of that, it made us for crying in the whole of saṁsāra.

We’ll contemplate the mind base (manāyatana) in the second section. (Here Sayadaw taught cittānupassanā) We are affectionate to all the minds which are arising from the 6-sense doors that the second section connects with the third section (vedanā → taṇhā). We must correct the wrong view regarding to the second section. If you understand it as truth of dukkha, then third and fourth Sections will not come. Contemplate all the minds arising as impermanence.


Ageing (jarā) is heat element (tejo). Death (maraṇa) is also heat element. The body becomes mature and die are heat element. The Buddha asked the monks to explore on ageing and death. These are truth of dukkha, in the body only, which he wanted them to investigate. Knowing it is magga sacca and it becomes two truths (dukkha and magga saccas). Burning alive is ageing (jarā) and burning to die is death (maraṇa). If you want to think at home just think about these things. Think about the reality with knowing. Where are they come from? Come from the khandha. So khandha is the cause and ageing and death is the result. Without khandha is without ageing and death. If you know this, again it includes the other two truths of samudaya and nirodha (The origin and cessation). You complete the four truths. Where does taṇhā come from? It comes from the eye (cakkhu), ear (sota), etc…, the six āyatanas (sense bases). It comes from the affectionate things of mind and body phenomena. (The 6-sense bases are mind and body) So taṇhā is coming from the mind and body. Therefore āyatana is the cause (samudaya) and taṇhā becomes the result (dukkha).

If the cause ceases, the result also does. It’s the cessation (nirodha) and the knowing is knowledge (magga). (Therefore in every moment whatever is arising and contemplating we know the four truths). Again we know the four truths. If we don’t think about these things and don’t know the four truths, then we are living in the darkness and dying in the darkness. These are investigating in oneself. Thinking in the direct order is connecting the cause and result (i.e., samudaya and dukkha). Knowing their cessations are nirodha and magga.

Affection comes from unwise attention (ayonisomanasikāra). Taṇhā comes from taking them as permanence, happiness, self, health, safety (i.e., nicca, sukha, atta, ārogya, khema). Because of craving we get the khandhas. Because of the khandhas we get ageing, sickness and death. Unwise attention is not vipassanā practice. Wise attention is vipassanā practice.

The Buddha said that he was arising into this world to teach people and these things were like beverages mixed with poisons. If you drink it will get sick and die. So the Buddha warned us not to drink it. Saṁsāric travelers are hungry people. They always die with never fulfill their thirst and hunger. Near to death they cling to this and that and die with it. The six-internal bases (āyatana); from eye (cakkhu) to body (kāya) are physical phenomena. Mind base is consciousness with mental factors. Condense all of them you get back the five khandhas. So contemplate the five khandhas as impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), not-self (anatta) and fearful (bhaya). In this way taṇhā die, ageing and death cease (Sayadaw said this Sammasa Sutta is very good Dhamma. In his talks collection can see quite a few of them). In this sutta the Buddha taught five ways of insight contemplation. Contemplate the five khandhas as impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), not-self (anatta), fearful (bhaya) and disease (roga). Every time taṇhā come in you know it, and this will lead to Nibbāna. Drinking the poison beverage or not is depending on using the insight contemplation or without it.


Ageing and death exist in the khandha. It’s truth of suffering (dukkha sacca). Thinking about their root source, find out, dig up and burn it down is good for us. I’ll show you the way of thinking and cutting off it. The teacher duty is to teach you until you understand it. After understanding and to practice is the yogi’s duty. We are afraid of ageing, sickness and death and can’t escape from it. Where do ageing, sickness and death come from? If you think about it backwardly will find the cause of origin (see the 12 links of D. A.). This dhamma will end ageing, sickness and death. Ageing, sickness and death come from the five khandhas. Heat element is functional for ageing. Warmth makes it getting old and mature. All the existing body, teeth and head hairs are burning with it. It makes you sick and die. Temperature is increasing and becoming sick is the heat element. After come ageing and sickness with the heat retreat, blood drops and die. The cold heat element kills the person. So ageing, sickness and death are born of the khandha. Only foolish and stupid person desires the khandha. A place without the great four elements and khandha will be freed from ageing, sickness and death. Living beings don’t know that ageing, sickness and death are the truth of dukkha.

So they try to get it, and looking for death. Even they are not clever as animals. Animals are afraid of death and when they encounter dangers try to run away. But for human beings they are making merits and asking for ageing, sickness and death (These are very common in traditional Buddhists whatever their schools are praying for the happiness of human and heavenly beings). Not knowing the truth is becoming over craziness. Where is the five khandhas come from? It is from the wanting taṇhā. People with craving for life don’t know the truth of dukkha and want to change life. They are only exchanging dukkha but they think it will lighter. All are the same 100kgm each. Suffering is the same as before. If the guide is not good, people will fall into abyss (Importance of teachers, and good to contemplate for all Buddhists whatever their traditions).

Where is taṇhā come from? It is from the affectionate things. If you love your khandha, then it comes from it. If you love your family members, then it comes from them. In short it comes from the 6-internal bases (āyatana). Taṇhā comes into being because of the affectionate things. Being born and dying, moment to moment, in the state of suffering is called the world (loka). Rounding like a ball is loka. In whatever state you are in will become affectionate to it. And then die without ever fulfilling your hunger and thirst. People die without any satisfaction (one of the meanings of dukkha is discontent. Contemplation of impermanence is the way of dispassion.


I ask you to work for discerning the truth. Without knowing it and saṁsāra is long. I will tell the differences between the one who knows and who doesn’t know. Someone is working for the enjoyment of existence doesn’t know the truth. Working for the cutting off existence is to know the truth.

The Buddha emphasized the important of knowing the truth with an example. If someone who could teach you the truth and making a demand, you should follow it. The Buddha gave an example of the demand as using 900 spears everyday (in the morning time 300 spears, mid-day 300 spears and evening 300 spears) to spear you and then taught you the truth. These sufferings are incomparable to the saṁsāric dukkha (the sufferings will be encounter in the round of existences). You all should not take it lightly (what the Buddha had said) if you know the first truth and are free from the sufferings of the four painful rebirths (such as hell beings, animals, petas—many different types of ghost, asura). It was like a stick threw up into the sky and fell down randomly. (Sayadaw continued to talk the sutta)

King of the Death is in the khandha. You’ll not pray for it only by knowing the truth. Path knowledge is the real refuge. Only Nibbāna is free from the torturers. The five khandhas exist and ageing, sickness and death also exist with them. So the five khandhas are the truth of the cause (samudaya sacca) and ageing, sickness and death is the truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca). Without the five khandhas and there will be no ageing, sickness and death. Without them is the truth of cessation (nirodha sacca) and knowing about is the truth of the path (magga sacca). (Sayadaw continued to teach vipassanā contemplation) Whatever is arising contemplate as dukkha sacca. Vipariṇāma lakkhaṇaṁ dukkha saccaṁ—The characteristic of change is Dukkha Saccaṁ—Truth of Dukkha. Feeling, mind and whatever come all are including in this truth which is the contemplation of the Dhamma (Dhammānupassanā).

On the impermanence, bending your hand is change (vipariṇāma) and stretching your hand is also change. In sitting meditation, in the beginning if you want to do ānāpāna (mindfulness of breathing) you can. If you don’t and just watching the khandha. The khandha will show its nature. When it shows up contemplate as disease (rogato). After sometimes the whole body with a blip, blip, blip and like the boiling water. These are not pain and aches. This is the way of tigers watching and catching it preys. Whatever is new arising and you catch it. Watching is Samādhi and catching is paññā. This is the way of watching with Samādhi and catching with paññā. It’s called yuganandha method. The method of samādhi and paññā are going together. Surely you will catch it. Insight practice is watching and catching. Practice to know means impermanence is arresting by you. Impermanence is anicca and knowing is magga. Continue the contemplation will become disenchantment. Before you were seeing other people's death, now you are seeing your own death.

After that you penetrate dukkha and the five khandhas disappear. Dukkha disappears and Nibbāna appears. This is completed with the eight path factors. (i.e., Noble Eightfold Path)

revised on 2019-07-02; cited from (posted on 2018-12-19)

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