Contemplation on Anatta

revised on 2019-11-05

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 16th September 1962

There are five khandhas. Some people contemplate on forms and discern anicca. Some contemplate on minds and some on contact (phassa) and discern impermanence. Some contemplate on feelings and at last whatever you are contemplating, all phenomena are not-self — sabbe dhammā anattā.

It doesn’t follow the desire of a person or a being. Not according to our own interests and not follow the character of a person is anatta. It happens according to its own nature. For example, an itching sensation arises. It arises without the desire of a person or a being.

After arising, it disappears. In disappearing, also not follow the desire of a being. So if feeling arises, contemplate it as anatta. The body contacts with the air from the electric fan and pleasant feeling arises. And contemplate it as anatta. It doesn’t follow anyone’s desire. It arises by the contact of sense object and sense door. (Continued on the neutral feelings from the four sense doors of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting).

Contemplate them also as anatta (continued on the mental feelings of somanassa, domanassa, and upekkhā). Also contemplate them as anatta. Arising is anatta and disappearing is anatta. Not following the desire of a person or a being. Not following the character of a person. Note these three points as anatta.

There was another kind of anatta taught by the Buddha. For example, conditions by viññāṇaṁ and nāma-rūpaṁ arise. With the cessation of viññāṇaṁ and nāma-rūpaṁ also cease. This is the cause anatta and the result also anatta. Both were the same nature. The first one is showing with person or being. The second one is showing dhamma nature, or related with dhamma. This came from the Saṃyutta Nikāya.

Another way is with contact (phassa) and feeling arises. With the cessation of contact, feeling ceases. Only cause and effect exist, and not including a person or a being. Atta (self) and attaniya (belonging to self) are falling away. This was from the Chachakka Sutta — the Six Sextets Discourse, Majjhima Nikāya (MN.148/(6) Chachakkasuttaṃ).

This kind of anatta was teaching by the Buddha not letting the self come in. If you appreciate this kind of anatta, you’ll free from sassata and uccheda (eternalism and annihilationism). In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Buddha said that without clearing away sassata uccheda views and practiced, even couldn’t get the saccanulomika ñāṇa — knowledge in accordance with truth.

So no need to mention about Path and Fruition Knowledges. If listening to dhamma talks, all of them get merits. But there are also dhammas with the realization of Nibbāna and also without it. It will get Nibbāna only with dhammas dispelling wrong views. Why after dispelling wrong views and with the practice will see Nibbāna?

(Sayadaw made this emphasis by pointing to the suttas, for example, in the cases of Ven. Channa, Ven. Yamaka, Ven. Anurādha, etc.)

The dhammas you contemplate are anatta (objects of contemplation). Also Nibbāna is anatta. It will come to the ending only with the knowing of the saṅkhāra anatta and their disenchantment and not wanting of them. And then you’ll get the unconditioned anatta (Nibbāna).

At the ending of saṅkhāra anatta, asaṅkhata anatta exists. Anatta benefits anatta. You are hearing strange words. Don’t take it as easy to hear about them. First, the Buddha taught two views of anatta: "without a person / a being" and "cause / effect" anattas.

Now, there are two kinds of anatta with the practice. Sabbe dhamma anatta — All dhammas are anatta. Contemplate to see this (i.e., impermanence) and to become disenchantment of it and following to the ending.

You will see the ending of them after seeing impermanence, dukkha, anatta. At the end of saṅkhata anatta, you will see asaṅkhata anatta. This is the practicing process of anatta. With the big knowledge, it becomes clearer.

revised on 2019-11-05; cited from (posted on 2019-02-20)

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