Unwise Attention and Prayers

revised on 2021-03-15

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 4th June 1962

[This was a heart touching talk by Sayadaw because he knew himself would pass away very soon. Within three months most of his talks during these periods was at Mogok and also his last visit. He urged and encouraged his disciples with great compassion and concern for their practices. Gave a lot of saṁvega talks here. In this talk one’s really feel his compassion and metta even it makes the listeners become sad.

He said, we were born and had the chances to free ourselves from dukkha because of the Dhamma. But what were we doing? Mostly for worldly concerns and it was adhamma (not Buddha Dhamma). He warned them the Buddha’s words. Once the Buddha took a few pieces of earth placed on his finger nail and said to the monks. If these pieces of earth fell to the ground and it would never get back on the nail.

In the same way, if a human being fell into dugati (painful birth) would difficult to get back sugati (blissful birth). He mentioned another simile of a blind turtle living under a deep ocean and a yoke with a hole floating in the ocean. This blind turtle every hundred years emerged once on to the surface.

It was moving blindly in the very wide ocean. The yoke with the hole was also moving randomly in the ocean. After a very long period of time accidentally the blind turtle head could enter into its hole. But, once a human being fell into dugati emerged from there was more difficult than the blind turtle head entered in to the hole.

Sayadaw based this talk from the Bhūmija Sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya (MN.126 Bhūmijasuttaṃ), a discussion between Ven. Bhūmija and Prince Jayasena (uncle and nephew). Jayasena asked four questions to Ven. Bhūmija. It becomes two questions combining those four together.

Q1: Some yogis are making prayers and practice but can’t realize Nibbāna.
Q2: Some yogis are not making prayers and only practice but can’t realize Nibbāna.

What is the Buddha’s view on these questions? Ven. Bhūmija answered that he never heard the Buddha mentioned on these questions, but he could give his views. He said both of the problems were based on unwise attention (ayoniso) that couldn’t realize Nibbāna. Jayasena requested him to ask the Buddha for the answers.

Ven. Bhūmija went to see the Buddha and presented the questions. The Buddha gave the simile of putting sands into the grinding tool and prayed for oil but would never get oil because the methods was not right. If you put sesame seeds and even without the prayers and would get oil because the method was right. So in vipassanā practice yoniso is very important, and it needs a teacher’s help.

Sayadaw gave a simple instruction for vipassanā. At first, calm the mind down by knowing the breath going in and out from the nostril. After sometime the mind calms down. The body will show its nature with the sensations. He gave the example: a small lizard fell on to the floor from a high ceiling at a quiet midnight. It would make a loud noise which everyone could hear.

But, in the day time with noises around would no one aware of it. In the same way yogi has samādhi will know whatever the body shows its nature. It shows its changing nature. Before samādhi, it also has this nature. But, after samādhi see it clear. Therefore, the Buddha taught on samādhi in many suttas (For example, in Aṅguttara Nikāya).

Someone has samādhi and knows the true nature of the khandha. If the body is itching, aching, paining, etc. are vedanākkhandha. Different kinds of mind arise and also know it. Know the form (rūpa) of heat and cold. The arising is changing, and the perishing is disappearing. Only impermanence exists. Not a man nor a woman and not me and not him, khandha disappears. Only seeing the arising and passing away.

Vipariṇāma lakkhaṇaṁ dukkha saccaṁ — Disbanding its own nature is truth of dukkha. The changing and perishing are dukkha sacca. At the time of seeing impermanence, you don’t need to distinguish them as mind and body. This is seeing the truth of dhammānupassanā, the Contemplation of Dhamma. This is seeing the truth of dukkha sacca and seeing is magga sacca.

Then you get the eye of right view — sammā-diṭṭhi eye. (From here to Nibbāna Sayadaw mentioned quite a lot of things). He gave a simile of how Nibbāna appears. Like a movie screen many pictures arise and cease, arise and cease, etc. After the movie ends the white screen appears. In the same way Nibbāna appears. Khandha arises and ceases, arises and ceases, etc. After aniccas end and everything is clear up.]

If you live in the adhamma way D. A. process continues (adhamma-not the way of Dhamma. Here Dhamma means in accordance with the Buddha’s Dhamma). And live with Dhamma and the D. A. process is cutting off. Now, with this adhamma of dosa is following with sorrow (soka) (For example: This is the moment when parents have displeasure with their children).

Children are not the problem, but parents are going to the apāya (planes of misery). People not listening and practising Dhamma in this present life become adhamma. And they are going around among the woeful planes in sa ṁsāra. We arrived at this human world with wholesome dhammas. After arriving but doing adhamma, we will lose our capitals (i.e., our wholesome kammas become fruitless in this life).

The Buddha gave some similes for the loss (The similes of earth on the finger nail and a blind turtle in the ocean). So, the Buddha warned you on the value of your human life. From the human life you can go to Nibbāna and not from the apāyabhūmi (continued to talk the Bhūmija Sutta). The matter of realization of Nibbāna depends on wise/right attention. Originally nobody is right. It needs the help of a teacher. It’s a very important matter to have wise attention on the khandha.

(Gave vipassanā instruction) First establish samādhi for about 15 or 20 minutes. This is for the beginners. Someone who already discerns impermanence does not need to start from here. Know the touching of the every breath going in and out. After sometimes get samādhi and the mind doesn’t run away and knowing continuously.

The mind becomes calm, just breathing in and out as usual. With samādhi, the body will tell you; itching, pain, numbness, hot, cold, etc. With samādhi whatever it tells you, don’t you know it? (He gave the example of a lizard falls from a ceiling to the floor at a very quiet midnight).

The khandha nature appears in different ways. This is the khandha changing. Without samādhi the khandha is also changing, but we don’t know it. Someone has samādhi knows the khandha as it really is. How to know it as really is? It's telling you as vedanākkhandha (feeling aggregate). Pain, feeling good and in between are also vedanākkhandha.

So, you know as in the khandha different kinds of feeling arise. Different types of mind arise. Form (rūpa) are becoming hot and cold, calming and moving, the khandha will tell you in many different ways. The Buddha taught that khandha was changing (vipariṇāma). Now, the newly dhamma is arising by disbanding the old one. With samādhi and observe the arising and it disappears.

The changing is arising and its perishing is vanishing. So, always come back to arising and passing away. Therefore, in the khandha only exist with arising and passing away or changing and perishing. It’s neither a man nor a woman. Then no need to dispel wrong view. At that time you don’t see any face. By looking at the changing and man and woman disappear. Man and woman are only in speech with the mouth.

After closing your five sense-doors and open your ñāṇa eye to observe. Vipariṇāma lakkhaṇaṁ dukkha saccaṁ — Disbanding its own nature is the characteristic of the truth of dukkha. It is changing and also disbanding its own nature. The perishing is also the same.

Therefore, all the changing and perishing are the truth of dukkha. At the time no need to differentiate them as mind and body. It becomes seeing the truth, Dhammānupassanā Satipaṭṭhāna. Changing and perishing are dukkha sacca and seeing or knowing is magga sacca.

At that time becomes right attention. Right attention is going with paññā, the eye of right view-sammā-diṭṭhi. It’s also the eye of knowledge-vijjā eye. In real, it’s only one ñāṇa eye. Now, you get the eye of seeing dukkha. After that you must get the eye of seeing Nibbāna.

The changing and perishing are anicca, also dukkha and anatta. Only seeing the truth will see Nibbāna. Contemplation of impermanence is contemplation of truth. This is not the ways of sensual pleasure and self-mortification. It’s the middle way. It arrives in the middle of taṇhā and dosa. With time go on, ñāṇa become mature and disenchanted.

Why is that? Because you are getting the changing and perishing. It will develop into the knowledge of disenchantment (Nibbidā Ñāṇa) if you are seeing it a lot. Before you are thinking is as get the proper thing. Later not only become disenchantment with it. But also develop into not wanting and getting of it.

When it happens and at the same time all the changing and perishing disappear. (i.e., khandha disappears). And it’s turning towards Nibbāna. Not changing and perishing of the stable Nibbāna appears. (Sayadaw gave the simile of a movie show for the vipassanā process). Before it was untidy with impermanence and with Nibbāna appears it is clear away.

revised on 2021-03-15; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4192&p=35948#p35948 (posted on 2019-02-15)

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