From Dukkha to Nibbāna

revised on 2019-07-25

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th February 1961

[Sayadaw explained Saṅkhata and Asaṅkhata or Dukkha and Nibbāna. It’s interesting, simple and profound. There are only two Dhammas; i.e., the conditioned (saṅkhata) and unconditioned (asaṅkhata). The five khandhas (mind and body) are saṅkhata and Nibbāna is asaṅkhata Dhammas. With saṅkhata the yogis see anicca and with asaṅkhata the yogis are not seeing anicca. With saṅkhata, dukkha does not end and with asaṅkhata, there is no dukkha.

He used the simile to explain them and the process mentioned in the Questions and Answers between King Milinda and Ven. Nāgasena. King Milinda asks Nāgasena; “Does Nibbāna exist within the three periods of time past, presents, future?” Nāgasena answers as;”No, it exists only for yogis who have practiced vipassanā. It’s like using two pieces of bamboo rubbing continuously together. After sometime it becomes hotter and hotter but don’t stop it. There, and continue to rub until fire comes out.” In this simile, the person who was rubbing continuously the two pieces of bamboo was the vipassanā yogi.

That the pieces of bamboo became hotter and hotter was like observing continuously anicca again and again until it became maturity. And then dukkha became clearer and disenchanted to it. After penetrated dukkha thoroughly and the yogi let go of the attachment to the khandhas (the saṅkhata).

After that the fire of Nibbāna (asaṅkhata) appeared. At that moment the physical body was not disappeared. The process were mentioned in the Aṅguttara Nikāya and Visuddhimagga. The yogi’s duty is continuously observe anicca (i.e., bhāvetabba). Nibbāna will appear naturally when it reach toward the highest maturity.]

Saṅkhata and Paṭicca-samuppāda are the same. All the khandhas arise together. Where are they coming from? Physical body comes from kamma, mind, temperature and foods. Mind comes from sense object and sense door. They all arise by causes. So mind and body are saṅkhata dhamma (conditioned phenomena). If the conditioned causes are finished, it will pass away. How long it has been now?

It’s uncountable. We are always living within the province of saṅkhata. So, we will live with arising and passing away. And we take it as good. This khandha is arising and passing away moment to moment. Therefore it’s saṅkhata dukkha-conditioned dukkha. This khandha is conditioning all the times without even rest for one second, because of the continuous destruction. Without conditioning and there is no replacement.

Therefore the khandha is called the paṭicca-samuppanna dhamma-resultant phenomenon. It’s the result of arising dhamma by conditioning. In the whole round of existence (saṁsāra) we were living without any rest and with birth and death all the times. We had never done vipassanā before and never seen our own birth and death. So you had never seen saṅkhata dukkha.

(In the four Noble Truths, Dukkha Sacca is a very interesting subject. Only we understand this truth we can let go of our attachment to things. Even we can condense the whole Piṭakas into Dukkha and the Ending of Dukkha. So the truth of Dukkha is very important in our whole life for frequent contemplation.

There are four important meanings on truth of dukkha:

① Pīḷakato—opprssive nature; torture and torment the owner who attaches to the mind and body.
② Saṅkhatato—mind and body are conditioning by taṇhā and torments by it.
③ Saṁtapato—the khandhas are always burning with the fire of craving.
④ Vipariṇāma—tortured and tormented by changing.

Only you have seen saṅkhata dukkha will prefer asaṅkhata Nibbāna. It’s covering up with ignorance that you can’t discern it. In this way every day we take the khandhas as very good. Therefore I have to explain on saṅkhata. After go back home, sit and observe. The body is itching here and there, with sensation of impermanence. The body is consuming its time with saṅkhata dhamma.

People taking pleasure in it are enjoying with the truth of dukkha. Taking pleasure in birth and death, birth and death etc. … (How stupid it’s?) Making payers for saṅkhata dukkha are really crazy and double blindness (Some Buddhists are like this. Even they don’t know they have wrong view).

If you don’t understand saṅkhata, you will not appreciate and want to realize asaṅkhata Nibbāna. Even whatever you are thinking about these things, it will not happen. From saṅkhata you’ll reach toward asaṅkhata. Therefore who never discovers saṅkhata will never reach there.

Even though many Buddhas were arising before, people who had never seen saṅkhata dukkha had been left behind. If you have never seen saṅkhata dukkha, you will never appreciate asaṅkhata sukha. The desire to be there will never arise in the mind. You also can’t reach there. One knows one’s own miserable situation only by seeing saṅkhata dukkha, and then you want to be free from it. So you have to concentrate on the khandhas with knowledge. And you’ll only find out that nothing is there except saṅkhāra dukkha. By transplanting with the ariyan’s eyes you’ll see it. Your natural eyes only see the ugliness and the beauty.

In sight practice will be finished with two factors. First, seeing saṅkhata and later you’ll see the transformation to the asaṅkhata. Is it matured by pāramīs (past perfections) or discerned a lot of it? This knowledge (i.e., Path Knowledge) does not turn toward saṅkhata (impermanent khandhas) but toward the cessation of saṅkhata (i.e., not seeing the khandhas). Impermanence of the khandhas still exists but the knowledge turns toward that no khandhas exists. This point is very important.

So, you have to remember it carefully. You must observe a lot of impermanence. Don’t let the desire of I want Nibbāna to come in. Just observe saṅkhata. The way to Nibbāna is that all. There are only two dhammas. This was mentioned in the Dhammasaṅgaṇi (The first book of Abhidhamma);

Saṅkhata Dhamma and Asaṅkhata Dhamma—Conditioned Phenomena and Unconditioned Phenomenon. (Sayadaw continued to talk on Nibbāna, a question posed by King Milinda and answer by Ven. Nāgasena) There is no fire inside the pieces of bamboo. By rubbing two of them, it becomes hot; saṅkhata dukkha is like this.

After a while, it’s becoming too hot and the fire comes out; nibbāna is like that. Between the processes, whatever knowledge arising is only within the province of saṅkhata. If you don’t want to follow the process of knowledges is up to you (i.e., ten or sixteen knowledges). Just contemplate the SANKHATA.

revised on 2019-07-25; cited from (posted on 2019-01-07)

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