The Three Worlds

revised on 2019-11-05

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 15th to 21st February 1962


All mundane matters (lokiya) are the world (loka). Supramundane element or dhamma (lokuttara) is the phenomenon outside of the world. There are nine lokuttara dhammas; four path knowledges, four fruition knowledges and Nibbāna.

The bhikkhus asked The Buddha: ‘‘What is the world?’’ The Buddha’s answer was: ‘‘The arising and passing away is the world’’. The worldly phenomena are encountering with the arising and passing away. They are not free from the arising and passing away. Supramundane dhamma transcends the worldly dhammas.

These are the four paths and the four fruition knowledges including Nibbāna as supramundane dhammas. But Nibbāna transcends loka. All worldlings don’t know that loka is dukkha. They don’t know the present dukkha and desire for the future dukkha.

Before, when your businesses were going very well, it is also dukkha. By not going well means you are separated from dukkha. When these worldly dhammas of anatta comes in, it let you have the sense of urgency (saṁvega). And it’s reminding you to get out from the loka. Before, when you got the license, it was bodily dukkha (kāyika dukkha, i.e., busy with greed)

Now, you don’t get it and have mental dukkha. Turning around with samudaya and dukkha are the matters of human beings. They take it as the economic development. These are the fire and fuels going on burning in turns. (This talk was given to a couple who were his close disciples and business people).

It made the Buddha not having the chance to come in and teach people. These are the matters of the people not understanding loka. You have to cut off loka means the loka process of the khandha. It means to get out from the saṅkhāra loka (conditioned world) of the D. A. process.

From ignorance to birth and death are the cycle of the world (i.e., the twelve links of the D. A. process. In this process only samudaya sacca and dukkha sacca exist. Only fire and fuel are going around with it. We build our own fire and burn ourselves. Without the fire of greed, we are in tears because we don’t get what we want. It doesn’t burn ourselves that tears are coming out (We do not understand these words with defilement except with wisdom only. Worldling are happy with taṇhā and dukkha. Without it, they are unhappy. Therefore, The Buddha said that worldlings were crazy and foolish).

If you are happy in the world, contemplate the impermanence of the happy mind. And craving and clinging will not arise. If you become disappointment; contemplate dosa. And it becomes the supramundane dhamma to transcend the world. With the samudaya and dukkha disappear and the cycle of the process also disappears. And then a clear thing appears.

The cycle of the processes is the turning around of samudaya and dukkha. Without the fuels and fire arise, the clear thing appears. People prefer fuels and fire. Therefore, without them, it's difficult to talk about and appreciate Nibbāna. Mundane Knowledge (vipassanā knowledges) is clearing out things for peace. Supramundane knowledge (i.e., Path Knowledge) is peaceful and without other things. People are taking things not peaceful as happiness that to talk about Nibbāna is very difficult. Someone is asking the question of if I am arriving to Nibbāna what kind of thing is with me there?

He doesn’t know the extinction of the fire and fuels. And not understand samudaya and dukkha, and take Nibbāna as nothing exists. People don’t understand the dukkha of the arising and vanishing of loka and reenter into the world. They never heard about the peace of the supramundane dhamma.


The six senses doors are loka. In the Saṃyutta Nikāya, the Buddha taught as there was the arising of loka and the cessation of loka. The whole process of D. A. is loka. For example, from the seeing consciousness (from the eye door) arises to the end of the D. A. process are sorrow, lamentation, pain and grief (the twelve links). The other sense doors also should understand in this way.

They must have their cessation if phenomena have their arising. From feeling (vedanā) not follows to craving (taṇhā) and loka nirodho (cessation of the world) starts from here. If craving ceases the world also ceases. No need to afraid of action (kamma). If craving ceases, there are no more good and bad actions. You all are expecting good kammas. Without kammas cease will never arrive toward Nibbāna.

We have to let the causes of kammas which are craving and clinging to cease. You all like good kammas and not bad kammas. I exhort you of shouldn’t like both of them. Whatever kamma there is only birth arises. Birth is the truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca) and you should practice to make kammas cease. Vipassanā practice is the cessation of loka. Family businesses (concerning about family life, making money, etc.) are the arising of loka.

There are the ways of upstream and downstream. You have to put a lot of effort to achieve the way of the upstream. Someone talking about the disappointment of loka is establishing the future loka. Someone afraid of loka is not like this. Disenchantment with loka is contemplating the impermanence of whatever arises from the six senses doors.

Disappointment and disenchantment are different in these ways. Disappointment with loka is common saying and without practice. Living beings are running around in the loka. Their lokas will follow and oppress them. The old kammas follow and oppress you if you can’t run away from them. You can free from them only by transcending loka.

One’s own created loka of good and bad kammas oppress him himself. Even you are afraid of loka and don’t know how to run away will oppress by them. The person wants freedom has to discern loka. Contemplate until disenchantment with it. And then continue until to the end and will transcend loka.


First, to know about the three worlds, satta loka is the world of living beings, such as human beings, animals, etc. (i.e., the 31 realms of existence). Okāsa loka is the natural world such as forests, mountains, earth, etc. Saṅkhāra loka is mind and body phenomena which are arising and passing away moment to moment.

(Satta and okāsa lokas are depending on this saṅkhāra loka — the natural law. Without this natural law nothing can be existed, except Nibbāna. The Buddha knew these three worlds and so called him as lokavidu — Knower of the worlds-one of the 9 attributes of the Buddha.

The Buddha taught as any loka was not good. Saṅkhāra loka is arising and vanishing. Okāsa loka is destroyed by fire at the time of Doomsday. It’s functioning according to the natural law like a yearly cycle). As satta loka, human beings, animals, etc., all are born and die (It’s going on and on, non-stop, except the Nibbāna element).

Therefore, all three lokas are truth of dukkha (dukkha sacca). So, don’t get the knowledge of knowing lokas that people are thinking as this and that loka may be good. Therefore, they want to change from here to there (So in human histories and religions, Buddhists or non-Buddhists created paradises without understanding these worlds).

Do it for transcending the loka if you really want to search for something. Everyone stays in loka will encounter the eight worldly winds (i.e., gain and loss, status and disgrace, censure and praise, pain and pleasure).


Whatever arises by conditioning is saṅkhāra loka. Everything arises and passes away is the world (loka). Therefore, it’s in the province of dukkha sacca. Only get out from the conditioned world and cease from all lokas. In the Dhammasaṅgaṇi, the Buddha taught saṅkhata dhamma and asaṅkhata dhamma — conditioned phenomena and unconditioned phenomenon.

These are dhammas of arising and passing away and Nibbāna dhamma of neither arising nor passing away. We have to get out from the saṅkhata dhamma. Mind and body are saṅkhata dhamma. The body arises by the conditioning of kamma, citta, utu and āhāra. And mind arises by the conditioning of sense object and sense door.

Therefore I am asking you to do the vipassanā contemplation on the saṅkhata. Unwholesome saṅkhata dhammas send beings to the planes of misery. And wholesome saṅkhata dhammas send beings to the planes of bliss. All saṅkhata dhammas are governing by ignorance. Avijjā paccaya saṅkhāra — ignorance conditions volitional formation. And then consciousness arises. Here means birth consciousness. It’s birth (jāti) and the truth of dukkha. So, it can’t get out from saṅkhata. This is the birth dukkha of the people who don’t want to get out from saṅkhata. Living beings don’t know about loka and running in the loka. It will arrive to asaṅkhata Nibbāna only by knowing saṅkhata; otherwise, never can arrive there.

The Buddha never used asaṅkhata as loka. Loka is perishable. Therefore, he used it as asaṅkhata dhamma. You will see its vanishing by observing saṅkhata and then become disenchanted and not wanting of it; in this way, and see Nibbāna; otherwise, will not see it. You can appreciate asaṅkhata only by seeing saṅkhata. Saṅkhata are arising with conditioning by others but we take it as our own.

So, we do like it. After knowing it as not belong to us and not happen according to our desire. And also we knew that they are consumed by death. Therefore, start looking for the deathless and wanting to turn towards asaṅkhata. The saṅkhata person doesn’t have a permanent place. By prayers we got the things which are not always exist.

These prayers are the same meanings as let me become suffering and not happen to my own desire.

(Sayadaw continued to talk the Subrahmā Devata’s story) The devatas’ existences were conditioned by wholesome kammas (kusala saṅkhāra) and it was destroyed by unwholesome kamma (akusala saṅkhāra).

These 500 celestial nymphs died instantly and fell into hell; now with pleasure and joy, later with sorrow and cry. This was the way of saṅkhata people. Subrahmā deva was piercing by two dukkhas. He became sorrow for the deceased and painful for the waiting dukkha ahead.

He and the other 500 celestial nymphs were after seven days would fall into hell. He had foreseen his destination in hell dukkha and certain about it. And later with the practice of vipassanā and ended the hell dukkha (Subrahmā deva and the 500 celestial nymphs went to see the Buddha, listened to his talk and all entered the stream.)


If believe in satta loka exists and must know that we have wrong views. Not understanding of satta loka is sticking with wrong view. If you think human beings, celestial beings and brahma gods exist and it becomes wrong view. With this and the question must come up as, after a living being dies where he has gone.

It happens to you because of taking it as a living being. It’s the view of the eternalism (sassata diṭṭhi). Between the two processes it seems never disappears. Put the wrong view in the D. A. process and it’s with craving/taṇhā (it was mahā taṇhā — big craving, and mentioned by the Buddha in the Mahā-taṇhāsankhaya Sutta of Majjhima Nikāya, MN 38: Mahātaṇhā-saṅkhaya Sutta). No living beings, but only dukkha sacca of the impermanent mind and body exist. If you are stopping at satta loka and wrong views arise.

[This sutta (MN 38) was related to Sāti's diṭṭhi which he took consciousness as a soul. So the Buddha gave this talk based on D. A. process to dispel this view. If we understand D. A. properly, we will know that the Buddha referred to diṭṭhi as mahātaṇhā. So the D. A. process can be written as:

                  ┌→ taṇhā → clinging (taṇhūpādāna) →
feeling (vedanā) ─├→ māna → mānūpādāna → kamma →
                  └→ diṭṭhi → diṭṭhupādāna → kamma →

I also don't know about it before, but I realize after listening to the Sayadaw's talks which he mentioned in them.

We should not take D. A. process in a fixed way as only this twelve links. The Buddha's teachings had compactness of nature. He did not always explain it in detail. Therefore, the commentaries came in (e.g. Mahākaccāyana).

Everyone loves him/herself more than anyone or anything; atta = sakkāya diṭṭhi.

Sotāpanna only has the seven droplets of ocean water of dukkha if compare with the worldling who has the volume of dukkha in the whole great ocean, even may be more. But sotāpanna only eradicated diṭṭhi. So that we'll know that diṭṭhi is mahātaṇhā or cūḷataṇhā. If we have diṭṭhi you will never be happy. ]

For example, with your finger nail and scratches on your arm. Feeling (or sensation) and the knowing mind (i.e., consciousness) arise here and vanish here. Do they move to anywhere?

(Sayadaw continued to tell the story of Anurādha).

The wanderers asked Ven. Anurādha, ‘‘Does a being exist after death?’’ It was the same meaning as permanent. This was the question of the eternalists.

‘‘Does a being not exist after death?’’ This was the question of the annihilationist.

‘‘A being both exists and doesn’t exist after death.’’ This was syncretic view. Ekacca sassata diṭṭhi — partial eternalism.

‘‘A being neither exists nor doesn’t exist after death.’’ This was evasive skepticism — Amaravikkhepa diṭṭhi.

This answered was only free from telling lie. The answer as exists can be wrong and does not exist also can be wrong. So someone gave the evasive answer. Ven. Anurādha answered to them as the Buddha didn’t teach in these ways. Anurādha thought that if they asked him more it would be quite difficult. So he himself had wrong views. He reported the incidence to the Buddha.

The Buddha questioned him; ‘‘Form (rūpa) is permanent or impermanent?’’

‘‘It’s impermanent, Ven. Sir. ’’ ‘‘Impermanent is sukka (happiness) or dukkha (suffering)?’’ ‘‘It’s dukkha, Ven. Sir. ’’ ‘‘Dukkha is atta (self) or anatta (not-self)?’’ ‘‘It’s anatta, Ven. Sir. ’’ And then Anurādha entered the stream. He answered all these questions by contemplating his khandha.

The Buddha questioned him in this way for all the five khandhas one by one. After becoming a sotāpanna, the Buddha questioned him again.

‘‘Except the form, is there any being or not?’’ ‘‘Can’t take them as a being, Ven. Sir.’’

It's only dukkha arising and dukkha ceasing and no living being there. If asking with a living being and don’t answer them. In the khandha only dukkha arises and dukkha ceases and no other thing exists. If you know it thoroughly will enter the stream. Only Knowing about satta loka is still not enough. To transcend satta loka have to be done with the practice. It’s sure that this can be possible only by discerning impermanence.


Mind and body combine together is called satta loka (most beings have mind and body, but there are also beings with form only and mind only). Not understanding satta loka, wrong views arise. Diṭṭhi falls away is Nibbāna. So, stopping at satta loka and diṭṭhi not falls away.

Before the practice, firstly have to dispel wrong views and doubt. (Sayadaw gave the reason with Ven. Anurādha’s story). Where is diṭṭhi coming from? It is from the living beings’ khandhas.

If believing in living beings exist and it will arise as I am thin, I am fat, and etc. are talking about by looking at living beings. With the living beings disappear and ñāṇa reaching to the khandhas and diṭṭhi falls away. Have to penetrate the living being. Move away from the living being and let ñāṇa (knowledge) focus in the khandhas. Deceiving by the satta loka and many wrong views can arise.

The khandhas are covering up by the satta loka. Without the living being disappears, three kinds of D. A. processes can arise. Take note of these two points: 1. Have to know about satta loka and 2. Move away from it. Don’t reject the conventional truth and let not stick with wrong views. Not knowing these things and not easy for practice.

I mention them because it’s important. Not understanding satta loka can fall into the planes of misery. Not knowing the ultimate reality (paramattha dhamma) will not realize the Path and Fruition Knowledges. I remind you to use them in the proper places.

By rejecting the satta loka with the view of no father and mother can commit the five heavy kammas. In this way it becomes the danger for the path knowledge. With the sīla is breaking down and not getting the Path and Fruition Knowledges. With this khandha can develop wrong views and also Nibbāna.


Knowing how to use satta loka rightly can arrive to blissful destinations (sugati). If not, might arrive to woeful destinations (dugati).

① Only uncover satta loka and saṅkhāra loka appears. Penetrate saṅkhāra loka with knowledge and anicca appears. It’s in accordance with the verse, sabbe saṅkhāra anicca — all conditioned phenomena are impermanent.

② Saṅkhāra loka combines with ñāṇa become vipassanā.

③ The ending of saṅkhāra loka combines with ñāṇa become the Path Knowledge.

Today I teach three points (1,2and3). Most people can’t uncover satta loka and die (dying with the perception of satta loka). The memories with sorrow for three years and three rains for the deceased persons or the loved ones are coming from not overcoming satta loka.

Some people putting advertisements in the newspapers is the same meaning as we are going to the apāyas — woeful planes (Because clinging with sorrow, lamentation, etc.) even they have the airs of taking pride in these remembrances. There is a saying that attending of a funeral is equal to ten times to a monastery. It is right only if people can contemplate on anicca, dukkha and anatta with it.

If not every attending a funeral is trying to arrive the apāya (i.e., instead of dhamma contemplation with talking and socializing on worldly matters to each other). Atta diṭṭhi (wrong view of self) comes from looking at the khandhas in wrong ways. I’ll teach you how to look at the khandhas.

When you are looking at the khandhas and knowing it as the conditioned form (rūpa saṅkhāra), the conditioned feeling (vedanā saṅkhāra), etc. are arising. These are neither man nor woman and only conditioned aggregates are arising. This is the right seeing. Then no satta loka appears.

The saṅkhāra loka is teaching you as now it’s arising and now it’s passing away. You have to follow the saṅkhāra loka up to the end. Only by seeing saṅkhāra and will see anicca. Because the Buddha said that, sabbe saṅkhāra anicca — all formations are impermanent.

Remove satta loka and find out the saṅkhāra if you want to arrive to Nibbāna. And then observe its nature and where it will end. You will see the arising and passing away. And then you have to follow its ending. If the impermanence of the dukkha ceases and seeing the ending of loka. The ending of loka is NIBBĀNA.

revised on 2019-11-05; cited from (posted on 2019-02-13)

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