On Anatta

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 18th and 19th April 1962

revised on 2019-10-02


We are living together with the thing not belong to us. It’s sure that this khandha not follows our own desire even for a bit. It’s ungovernable anatta. I want you to realize the anatta ñāṇa (knowledge of not-self) and not the intellectual anatta. Of the five khandhas, you have to see one of them.

Only seeing anatta with knowledge, self view falls away. Self view and identity view are the same (atta diṭṭhi and sakkāya diṭṭhi). Impermanence, dukkha and not-self, all of them are important. By seeing one of them and know all. To become the wisdom of anatta, ñāṇa must penetrate the khandha. All three of them are arriving to Nibbāna.

The knowledge in accordance with the three characteristics is right dhamma. That is, anicca and magga, dukkha and magga, and anatta and magga (The same meaning as direct understanding the three characteristics with knowledge).

Why the Buddha taught three kinds? Some were familiar with anicca and the Buddha taught anicca. The others were also in the same way. According to their characters and preferences, and taught three kinds. Anicca is arising and passing away. Dukkha is also arising and passing away. Three of them are the same nature. People are making notes of them in different ways.

The differences are the cause or the result? It’s the result of the yogi. You will know all of them if you see the arising and passing away. You also will get the supramundane knowledge (Path Knowledge) if you get the mundane knowledge (insight knowledge). Our contemplation of the arising and passing away is not-self. Why? The arising is not by oneself. The passing away is also not by oneself. It happens accordingly to nature.

If the “I-ness” not comes in disturbing and it becomes anatta. Why even people don’t realize the lowest Path Knowledge? (i.e., Stream entrance). Because we disturb the arising and passing away as I, me, etc. If mixing-up with the “I” and becomes the identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi). It does not become wrong view if you don’t mix-up.

Making friends with the four planes of misery is mixing-up with the “I-ness” into the dhamma nature. If you penetrate anatta will enter the stream. Not encounter with good teacher and with wrong teaching of the tradition that have wrong views. Even so, if we don’t mix it up and not satisfy with it. I’ll tell you the fault of mixing-up.

According to the D. A. process; clinging to view action is painful birth. Do you believe that wrong view send beings to painful births? It’s not breaking sīla and samādhi, but by breaking bhavana (mind development). Bhikkhu Tissa died and became a louse because he took the robe as mine. For going to the planes of misery you know how to mix things up.

If you want to mix, then you have to mix with wisdom. With every arising and passing away of phenomenom, you have to know with magga. In this way, clinging falls away with wrong view. Birth to the planes of misery is also ceased. If you mix-up with the “I-ness” and birth to woeful planes will arise.

The Buddha gave a comparison for wrong view had fallen away. He compared the sands in Mount Meru and the sands on his finger nail, with wrong view fell away. Dukkha still existed was like the sands on his finger nail. It's not the sure thing of digging in the earth for gem stones. You all are working hard for the uncertainties. But don’t want to look at impermanence which always exists. You let go of the sure thing and work hard for the uncertainties.

So, just do for the real happiness. You have to be very careful. If not, what you are doing is going towards the planes of misery. (This talk was delivered at Mongok which is famous for its ruby gems. Most of the people in the audience were gems mine owners and gems traders).

Talk 2:

Sakkāya is the five khandhas. If the “I-ness” goes into one of them, sakkāya and diṭṭhi become mix-up. (Sayadaw gave examples for each of the khandhas); mixing up the non-existence of I-ness with the khandhas. If sakkāya stays by itself has no problem. If the I-ness goes to mix-up and become problems (All the worldly problems from family to the whole society have connection with it).

A cobra stays alone by itself and nothing happen. If you go and touch it, you will become suffering. In the same way you go and touch sakkāya with wrong view and arrive to woeful planes. You have to remember this, in only speech I’ll mix it but not in thought. For example, not I perceive, but the perception is. Not I done it, but the volition (cetanā) is, etc. Identity view arises with eternalism.

Yesterday was I and today also I, etc. Yesterday I was not perished and today I still exist. Based on Sakkāya diṭṭhi and sassata diṭṭhi follows behind. With sakkāya diṭṭhi all the wrong views are following up. If you abandon it, all fall away. It’s so terrible indeed.

The Buddha taught that sakkāya diṭṭhi fell off was a very important matter. The Buddha gave an example of its importance. When your head hairs were on fire, you had to extinguish it as quickly as possible without any delay (from Saṃyutta Nikāya).

If, it exists and all the unwholesome things can happen (Sayadaw gave many example in daily life experiences. And he told about the heavy kammas of King Ajātasattu and Devadatta. So, the Buddha referred to it as Big Craving-mahā-taṇhā). Without it falling away whatever you are doing always has the danger of into the woeful planes. This is dhamma niyāma (natural procedure).

Without the Buddha, these dhammas also exist. Only the Buddha gave the names to it. Wholesome dhammas send beings to blissful planes. Wrong view is also pulling down beings into the planes of misery. The matter of abandoning wrong view is very important. Identity view is wrong view. In its place, it will solve the problem if right view comes in.

You have to know form dhamma as form. And then contemplate impermanence. It is form and also anicca. What is good is feeling. Feeling is impermanence, so identity view can’t come in. There are three stages for wrong view falls away, by intellect, contemplation and abandoning. A person seeing the ending of dukkha is with the abandoning of wrong view. It’s not yet the time for smiling. You can smile after you are safety from the planes of misery.

If you are doing other things beforehand is foolishness. Intellectually without dispel identity view before, even the Buddha was giving talk couldn’t realize Nibbāna. (For this point, Sayadaw told the story of Saccaka — the debater) The Buddha gave talk to him but his wrong view not fell away.

He carried the mental impression (vāsanā) with him. (Saccaka’s encountering with The Buddha was not wasted. Because in the future in Sri Lanka, born again as human, became a monk and transcended dukkha).

Some people think that by encountering the Buddha will realize the Dhamma. You have to remember, only diṭṭhi falls away will free from dukkha. Some also think, with dana practice will get Nibbāna. You have to do dāna practice and also dispel diṭṭhi. Dispell diṭṭhi in three ways: ñāta pariññā, tīrāṇa pariññā and pahāna pariññā.

When people asking questions to the disciples of the Buddha, they replied that if they knew would answer it. For the Buddha, he would answer any questions without conditions. In the world only anatta exists. And outside the world also anatta exists (That is Nibbāna. Some Buddhists take Nibbāna as atta and thinking that after complete enlightenment, they can come and go according to their own desires).

revised on 2019-10-02; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4192&p=35940#p35940 (posted on 2019-02-14)

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