Spiritual Faculties and Nibbāna

revised on 2019-08-12

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 19th October 1961

[ In the Saṃyutta Nikāya, the Buddha asked this question to the monks. What is the Dhamma to Nibbāna? He himself answered it as insight meditation (vipassanā). (In the sutta, the Buddha’s answer was the Noble Eightfold Path).

Where to do vipassanā? It is on the khandha. Which one of the khandhas? Khandha can be separated into four groups, kāya (body), vedanā (feeling), citta (mind) and dhamma. Concentrating on one group will lead to Nibbāna.

Why are there four groups? Because of the different characters.

① Weak in knowledge and thick in kilesa, should practice on the kāya.
② Sharp in knowledge and thick in kilesa, should practice on the feeling.
③ Weak in knowledge and thick in wrong view, should practice on the citta.
④ Sharp in knowledge and thin in kilesa, should practice on sacca.

(Here Sayadaw used the word sacca — truth, instead of dhamma). Choosing the one suitable to one’s character is quicker in progress. How to know which one is suitable for one’s character? For example, observe vedanā and only see its arising and passing away or discern anicca quickly.

In the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, the Buddha emphasized on seeing anicca. Seeing anicca is on the right path. Using the form, vedanā, citta and dhamma are to know the objects for contemplation, but in reality only anicca. ]

Knowing the existence to non-existence is anicca, or the knowledge of knowing the characteristic of impermanence (anicca lakkhaṇa). Whoever discerns anicca will see Nibbāna in this life. You have to follow it throughout the practice from starting seeing impermanence. You will see the impermanence in the whole body.

At that moment man, woman and bodily form are disappeared. This is the anicca lakkhaṇa killing diṭṭhi. You will not fall into the planes of misery if you die during the vipassanā practice because it’s killing diṭṭhi.

[ Experience by practice in this way, one will never flow and sink in saṁsāric water. It is only moving upstream towards Nibbāna. Sayadaw strongly reminded disciples that upstream was always difficult than downstream. So put more effort in the practice.

Spiritual faculties (indriya) are developing and mature only by practice. Indriya are developing in three stages. For example, ordinary faith (saddhā), faculties of faith (saddhindriya) and the strength of faith (saddhā-bala) (The five faculties are: faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom).

Here Sayadaw gave a very important warning for Buddhists who want to see the future Metteyya Buddha and enlightened by him. He said: a Buddha only sees and helps someone who spiritual faculties are mature. So people who cultivate many good merits want to see him is possible.

But enlightenment is another thing. Even without direct seeing the Buddha, by practice and when faculties are mature will realize Nibbāna in this life. He said that after the Buddha’s Parinibbāna many people had realized Nibbāna in King Asoka’s time and ancient Ceylon. ]

The Buddha asked the monks question, and no one could answer; so he answered it by himself. We will reach towards Nibbāna directly if we follow it. The way to Nibbāna is no other answer for it except vipassanā. So we have to make a great decision to follow it.

We need to ask, there are five khandhas and which one should we contemplate? There are four groups, but contemplate one of them. Contemplate one group can reach toward Nibbāna. I will give you instruction for how to contemplate and become vipassanā.

There are four types of person, so separating into four groups. Someone comes for practice and can’t let him practice instantly. If giving the meditation object not suitable to the character and can it be possible? Even possible, it could take a long time. He will miss the chance if he dies earlier. It is not easy to become a meditation teacher.

After distinguish the character and give the instruction. You must ask, in contemplation how to see is the right seeing. If a dhamma is suitable to one’s character and the right seeing will appear quickly. In the contemplation of feeling, you do not see vedanā but their impermanence. In the contemplation of mind also do not see the mind but their impermanence.

If impermanence appears to you, then the dhamma is suitable to your character. These things need to be considered before the practice. (Sayadaw mentioned the story of Ven. Sāriputta’s disciple, a gold-smith before his ordination. This story showed the importance of connection between the meditation object and the type of character.)

You all are better than the era of Paccekabuddha (Nobody could teach sacca dhamma at that time, even Paccekabuddha. Therefore we are more fortunate than the people of that time). Therefore I request you not to be lazy. You already completed with the quality.

The important thing is not to be lazy. Laziness is dosa nature, and it arises for the D. A. process. The object is suitable to you if you discern impermanence quickly. Why have I said to see impermanence? Because the Buddha himself mentioned it in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. It will be finished only by seeing samudaya and vaya (arising and vanishing).

If you still seeing feeling, mind, etc., even not totally wrong, ñāṇa is very low. It is still not vipassanā ñāṇa (Sayadaw’s view was insight knowledge started from seeing the impermanence).

You must see its vanishing. Feeling, mind, etc. are only labels. The seeing is impermanent. A person discerns impermanence is on the way to Nibbāna. Contemplate whatever is arising and seeing its existence to non-existence will realize Nibbāna in this life. This was what the Buddha said in the sutta. If you start seeing impermanence will continue to see them in the whole body.

If you see them from there in a blip and from here in a blip, just follow them. I am giving you the method now. By following in the whole body, a man, a woman, a person, a being is disappeared because the contemplative insight has killed diṭṭhi. These are the arising and vanishing group of dhamma. Ñāṇa seeing kills the wrong view.

Without the vipassanā contemplation we take the three feelings as me. With the vipassanā contemplation and see all the feelings as impermanence. Dying with vipassanā knowledge and not falling into the planes of misery is due to having no wrong view for falling into it. The active level of wrong view is falling away.

But wrong view is still latent in the heart (anusaya). It doesn’t matter. It’s becoming clear that discerning impermanence means someone has pāramī. With the extermination of wrong view is becoming a sotāpanna. You can decide that this is my last life; neither a sinker nor a floater anymore in the sea of saṁsāra, and becoming a person on the way upstream. Why? Maggin (path factors) are only going upstream.

But don’t become lazy. Going upstream is not easy as downstream. Making your spiritual faculties become mature. Only with more practice it becomes mature. First it’s ordinary faith. After that become faculty and strength (Indriya and bala). It’s developing with more practice. It becomes strength at the time of seeing Nibbāna.

If you persevere in the practice even don’t think about, it’s possible or not. Just put more effort in it. With faculties become mature and hindrances can’t come near. You could possibly be not free from dukkha even meeting a Buddha if your spiritual faculties are still not mature. Immaturity comes from laziness and weakness.

You can make the decision that with the maturity of faculties will see Nibbāna. The Buddha and teachers only gave instructions. Developing for maturity is your own duty.

revised on 2019-08-12; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4084&p=35762#p35762 (posted on 2019-01-14)

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