How to Die with Feelings?

revised on 2019-11-05

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 23rd and 24th September 1962

Of the three kinds of feelings, one of them always exists. It’s called the aggregate of feeling — vedanākkhandha. Therefore, it is not devoid of feeling at any time. Someone observes with knowledge always discerns one of it. If it’s free from feeling, becomes Nibbāna. So without vedanā is Nibbāna.

A monk asked the Buddha, “One person has knowledge and the other without it, and both of them experience three kinds of feeling. What are the differences between them?”

Their reactions are different. Contemplation of the mind includes feeling and contemplation of feeling also includes the mind. Therefore, I give this talk to you. First, I’ll talk about the person without knowledge.

For example, hitting with a thorn and painful feeling arises, and then followed with unpleasant mental feeling (domanassa vedanā). Hit by a feeling and it becomes unwholesome, after that, followed with taṇhā, the desire for feeling better.

Dependent Arising process is turning in to a cycle: from the end with sorrow (soka), lamentation (pariveda) … to the beginning … ignorance (avijjā) → mental formation (saṅkhāra). Don’t know the arising of phenomenon includes ignorance — delusion. Three kinds of D. A. processes arise (lobba, dosa, and moha).

Therefore, becoming a person without knowledge is frightening. Only dhammas leading to the painful existences are arising (apāyabhūmi). From the point of contemplation of feeling, it’s very bad. Die with anger and go to hell realms. With the desire of getting well (taṇhā), go to the realms of ghosts (petas).

Without contemplation and die with ignorance — delusion, go to the animal realms. Dhamma is leading people there. A person without knowledge has disadvantages in the present and saṁsāra. Compare with your donations and merits, every day from dukkha vedanās which connect the three kinds of D. A. processes are uncountable.

Therefore, the Buddha ought to say that 100,000 people died and no one took rebirths in the blissful planes (sugati). The life of a not-knowing is very bad indeed. It’s clear that without approaching a wise person (i.e., kalyāṇa mitta) can’t realize Nibbāna. A person with knowledge is not in this way.

If dukkha vedanā arises, he contemplates it as impermanence. And then two kinds of D. A. processes are cut off. It is followed with taṇhā if sukha vedanā arises and without knowledge. Again no contemplation means ignorance — delusion (moha).

So he moves on the path to ghost and animal (the cause of taṇhā/avijjā). For the person with knowledge, if sukha vedanā arises, contemplate its impermanence. So he moves on the path to Nibbāna. Without and with contemplations is a big difference between them. These are the paths to apāyas (apāyabhūmi) and Nibbāna respectively — the most miserable path and the path of supreme happiness. Again, without the knowledge, if upekkhā vedanā arises and without contemplation is moving on the path of ignorance towards the animal realm. Even doing merits without knowledge is followed with the D. A. process of taṇhā. It becomes clear that no knowledge is frightening.

The Buddha once asked Ven. Sāriputta on the benefit of having a spiritual friend. Ven. Sāriputta’s answer was: he may reach to Nibbāna — the ending of dukkha just because of a spiritual friend. (There were many stories of these in the suttas). According to this sutta (in the Vedanāsaṃyutta), it was clear that people had to live with vipassanā dhamma.

Every day the three types of vedanā are arising in turn. With no contemplation, people are doing kammas to apāyas. And it’s quite frightening and far from Nibbāna. It’s a great loss. The Buddha taught in the Saccasamytta were quite believable. (Sayadaw continued the talk by telling the story of Sāriputta and how he met his teacher Ven. Assaji).

If you have doubts in the contemplation of feeling, contemplate at contact (phassa) as conditions and feeling arises. And with the contact ceases and feeling also ceases. Continue the contemplation until feeling extincts or comes to an end. And then feeling disappears with the khandha.

You will realize Nibbāna if you can contemplate until vedanā extinct. Ven. Assaji taught Sāriputta that in the khandha only causes and effects existed. With the causes arose, the effect came to be. And with the cessation of the causes, came the cessation of effect. The five khandhas are only in speech. The real existence is impermanent. With this short teaching, Sāriputta was entering the stream.

(Continued to tell the story of Ven. Sāriputta became an arahant). Contemplation on feeling is also good in its own right. Climb up to the higher Path Knowledge with the contemplation of feeling. If you want to enter the stream, be with the contemplation of mind. All these things came from these stories. (It seemed Sayadaw himself practiced in this way.)

At near death, nobody is devoid of feeling. If you die with overcoming vedanā, latent tendency of lust (rāgānusaya), latent disposition of hatred (dosānusaya), and latent tendency of delusion (mohānusaya) — these three latent dispositions will cease.

If you can overcome now, it’s good. At near death, to overcome it instantly is not easy. Therefore, the Buddha taught contemplation of feeling as an important subject. Yesterday I also taught about the important of feeling. The Buddha told us to have mindfulness and wisdom and not let the time pass by. I remind you to make effort to see and know earlier the cessation of cause and effect.

What will happen if having knowledge in the khandha? With the cessation of feeling, the khandha also ceases. The cessation of khandha is Nibbāna. In this sutta, it was mentioned as it could be realized Nibbāna. Have to be mindful of the three feelings: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings when they are arising.

This is called mindfulness — sati. Sampajaññakari — have to follow with wisdom. It includes wisdom not only knowing the arising but also its disappearance. Knowing the arising is sati and seeing the vanishing is wisdom. Every time feeling arises and knowing with mindfulness is satipaṭṭhāna.

It is Sampajañña − paññā if you can see the vanishing. Every time knowing the arising is sati, knowing the arising and passing away is paññā — impermanence. Therefore, its teaching was including both as sati and sampajañña. Kālam āgameya — not let the time pass over. It taught about knowing the cause and effect.

The third point you still not heard before is important to remember it. For example, on the body, sukha vedanā arises. It’s a dependent dhamma and can’t arise automatically. It depends on the body. Depend on the body sensitivity (kāyapasāda). Again it depends on the contact of the object. Dependence on the body and contact, sukha vedanā arises. Both of them are anicca.

Therefore, vedanā arises by anicca dhammas. Have to know the time of impermanent cause and impermanent effect. In this way the latent tendency of lust can’t follow behind it (vedanā). According to the D. A. Process, taṇhā can’t arise. Observe with knowledge on the two periods of arising and passing away.

If dukkha vedanā arises, contemplate its impermanence and latent disposition of aversion − paṭighānusaya dies. D. A. Process is cut off and next khandha not arises.

Impermanence is dukkha sacca. Therefore, vipassanā contemplation is doing the saccanulomika ñāṇa — knowing the truth. So you get the knowledge of knowing the truth. If neutral feeling arises, contemplate its impermanence. And the latent disposition of not knowing ignorance ceases. D. A. process is cut off in the beginning.

The two causes are in the present time (kāla), and the result vedanā also in the present. This way of contemplation of vedanā with the cause and effect time was taught by the Buddha in the Vedanāsaṃyutta.

Contemplate the impermanence of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings and greed, hatred, and delusion die away. And also D. A. processes are cut off in the middle, in the end and in the beginning (according to the series of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings).

The Buddha was using similes in the contemplation of feeling. The first was the simile of wick, oil, and light. Wick and oil were impermanent, so the light was also impermanent. The Buddha continued to talk on the realization of Nibbāna.

This sutta was quite long. Feelings die before and the three latent tendencies die later. Here, feelings are impermanent, the contemplative mind is path factors (magga) and with the dying of three latent dispositions (ānusaya). Ānusayas cease without arising. With the cessation of feeling, the heart becomes cool and peaceful because it’s without the murderers (kilesas).

Again the Buddha gave another simile for it. It was like a clay pot after fired and left it outside the fire. The cessation of feeling is Nibbāna. The cessation of kilesas is cool and peaceful. If feeling ceases, it’s peaceful. The coolness is coming from the cessation of the oppressive feeling. Also without the arising of its companions, it’s peaceful (i.e., lobha, dosa, and moha).

So the Path Knowledge has the nature of coolness and peace. Contemplation without the time passing over means not missing the cause and effect or not let kilesa comes in between them.

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

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