A Simile for Nibbāna

revised on 2021-03-26

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 7th September 1962

In studying the three Pali Canons (Piṭakas), the main importance is to know the three universal characteristics. Teaching on the 28 matters (forms) are also impermanent.

Condense on the 53 minds are also impermanent. (Here 53 minds are 52 mental factors + 1 consciousness.) In the four Noble Truths, dukkha sacca is the main one. The cessation of dukkha is Nibbāna (nirodha). Samudaya and magga are also impermanent dukkha sacca.

The Buddha’s teachings in the 45 years also were on impermanence. At the end of impermanence will discover nirodha. The Buddha said that in the past, at present, and in the future, all the Buddhas were teaching the arising of dukkha and the cessation of dukkha.

Therefore, don’t be in too many dhammas and teachers. Just follow this way. And no one can be deviated from the path. We have to change into the ariyan eyes. The eyes given by the parents were for the matters of living and eating. It’s not including for reaching Nibbāna. Fix with the ariyan eyes and you will get the ariyan’s views.

This view is pure and not mixed with kilesa. Therefore, whatever situations ariyas were in, their minds were unshaken, never worrying, never with affections and free from raga (lust, attachment). We should not reject worldly conventions, either. With the view of no father and mother will commit the heavy kammas.

You get the ariyan eyes if you discern anicca because it’s right view. In practice, look with the sammādiṭṭhi eye. Only by seeing anicca, one arrives at right view. This is the view not connects with section ③. If connects with section ③, it becomes wrong view, attachment with wrong view, and actions governed by wrong view.

This is the teaching for becoming a sotāpanna. For once-returner (sakadāgāmin) and non-returner (anāgāmin), the process to deal with is craving, and clinging, actions done with craving.

(Sayadaw continued to explain the five maggas and how they connected in practice.) Right view and right thought can’t be separated. They are like the eyes and glasses. Without right thought, one can’t get right view. If you discern impermanence, include these two wisdom factors. You can’t discern them only with two of them.

Mindfulness reminds you to look at here. Samādhi not let your head moving around but turn your eyes straight toward the object. If viriya not pushing it toward the object of impermanence, it can’t go there. Therefore, if you are discerning impermanence, you get the five path factors.

Ekacitta sampayutta — mind can be alive with one only. Therefore, you see the death of your own mind. Before not fixing with the ariyan eyes, you didn’t see your own death. Mind can’t be shown with dimensions (pamāṇa). It can be sensed that its own existence is clear to us. Knowing the existence to non-existence is the view of the ariyas.

This is the view of purity. You can say right view is the ariyan view. In the whole saṁsāra, you only saw other people’s deaths but never had been your own. Now you see your own asubha, dukkha, anatta, anicca, and dukkha sacca with the ariyan eyes.

The worldly brahma gods with their divine eyes can see a small needle on the earth. But they don’t have the ariyan eyes that can’t see their own impermanent khandhas. You will become disenchantment with it if you see your own deaths moment to moment. At the time of not wanting these deaths, all of them disappear.

If you arrive at this point, see and know that there is a place without deaths. With the contemplation, khandhas disappear. Seeing the impermanence is the eyes of the disciple of the ariya. Not seeing deaths is the eyes of ariya.

That no khandha exists is khandha nirodho nibbānaṁ—The cessation of the khandha is Nibbāna. Section ② (i.e., the five khandhas) not exists. These are death elements. The reason of not seeing deaths is the cessation of section ② connecting section ③ (i.e., from viññāṇa …to … kamma).

Only Nibbāna and magga ñāṇa are leaving behind. Section ①, ②, ③, and ④, all are ceased. All of them are samudaya and dukkha saccas. The whole cycle of D. A. process is teaching for someone not in practice. The whole cycle of D. A. process is ended for someone in practice. After the contemplation of D. A. process and becoming a Buddha, he knew its beginning and the end of it.

I’ll talk about Nibbāna. Dāna, sīla, and samatha practices are for dying. With the vipassanā magga dhamma, get the undying Nibbāna. With the saṅkhata dhammas (conditioned phenomena), you get the asaṅkhata dhamma (unconditioned). This is the reason why Nibbāna is difficult to understand because with the conditions to get the unconditioned.

(Sayadaw explained about Nibbāna with the simile of digging a cave. It was profound. During the Second World War, jet fighter planes came to bomb people. So they had to dig caves in the mountain area for safety). The cave is not existing in the past, present, and future.

It appears by digging. The digging is like seeing impermanence. The rock fragments are khandhas. The empty cave is like Nibbāna, without khandhas.

The true refuge is of unconditioned − asaṅkhata. Impermanence and the rock fragments are conditions − saṅkhata. The empty cave (Nibbāna) and the rock fragments (khandhas) are not the same. [This simile of Nibbāna looked very simple, but profound and easy to understand the nature of Nibbāna.

Nibbāna does exist for someone who practices. It doesn’t exist beforehand as some Buddhists think. (For example, an original mind, etc.) The Buddha said to Rohitassa Devaputta to look for Nibbāna in the two armed-length body. In one of his talks, Sayadaw said Nibbāna is not connected with the five khandhas.

Khandhas only had three Noble Truth, Dukkha, Samudaya, and Magga Saccas. But The Buddha said four Noble Truths were in the khandha. Sayadaw said Nibbāna was the external of the khandha, and not in the internal of the khandha. Because Nibbāna was nicca (permanent) and khandha was anicca (impermanent). ]

revised on 2021-03-26; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4202&p=35972#p35972 (posted on 2019-02-17)

  • Content of Part 9 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of Publications of Ven. Uttamo

According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.

據英譯者—鄔達摩比丘交待,此譯文僅能免費與大眾結緣,作為法的禮物(Dhamma Dāna)。你可以在任何媒體上重新編製、重印、翻譯和重新發布這部作品。