Mistaken with Nibbāna

revised on 2021-03-15

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 4th to 5th October 1962

[Sayadaw gave these two talks on ten insight corruptions connected with Nibbāna. It was two weeks before his passing away. Round about three months before he delivered a talk on the qualities of a Stream Enterer in Mogok for the last day there. He knew himself he would not come back again. All these were checking for oneself in practice.

Sayadaw gave an example of fake gold taking the place of real gold in daily use by most people. And it became popularity. He mentioned two kinds of counterfeit dhammas; i.e., theory and practice — pariyatti and paṭipatti. We can find these in some Buddhists. ]


In the sāsana with the counterfeit dhammas are arising and kilesa increasing. So very few are becoming arahants. At the time of discerning impermanence counterfeit dhammas are arising similar to Path and Fruition Knowledges. They hinder the Path and Fruition knowledges. Yogis must distinguish them from the real. The practitioners are sure to encounter it.

You do not yet have the knowledge of rise and fall — udayabhaya ñāṇa if you still not encounter it. After the encounter, you will stray away from the path since you don’t know how to deal with them. Therefore, it’s important.

If you discern impermanence:

① Light (obhasa): Light can come out from the body. The yogi takes it as the Path Knowledge and stops with the practice. It’s spreading out from the whole body and for some yogis, it as high as a toddy palm tree; for the Buddha, it reaches downward to the Avīci Hell and upwardly to the Brahma World. By stopping the practice, impermanence disappears. And it stops reaching higher knowledge and Nibbāna. With yogis no light appears, and

② Knowledge (ñāṇa): Knowledge becomes sharp. Impermanence and path factors (anicca/magga) are arising without interruption and no kilesa comes in between them. The yogi takes its sharpness as the Path Knowledge and stops with the practice. If any light comes out, not paying any attention to it and continue the contemplation of impermanence. If the knowledge becomes sharp, don’t stop at it and continue contemplation of impermanence.

③ Zest/Rapture (Pīti): Rapture can arise. The body feels lightness and it seems moving upwards.

④ Tranquility (Passaddhi): Mind and body become tranquil.

⑤ Happiness (Sukha): Body and mind feel happiness.

After seeing conditioned impermanence, feel happiness. If it’s Nibbāna, shouldn’t see impermanence. It is because of the yogi’s character and different kinds of counterfeit dhammas arises (There are 10). If you still seeing impermanence, don’t stop at it. You can decide it as counterfeit dhammas. In the place of real Path Knowledge and vipassanā knowledge, it comes in for obstruction.

Among five of them (i.e., the mentioned 5) yogi will encounter one of them. After encountering, have to overcome it and shouldn’t stop there. Disenchantment of impermanence and the ending of impermanence must arise successively. If you not encounter them, the practice not develops yet. After encountering, stopping there is a great lost. If you can overcome it, be on the right track.

If one of them arises, it means a person with three wholesome roots — tihetuka (born with non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion). If practice diligently in this life, will realize Nibbāna. If a duhetuka person — with double wholesome roots and it will not arise for him. But with the practice only fulfill the pāramī in this life.

The Buddha told us that after having knowledge on practice, did the contemplation [after ñāta pariññā (intellectual knowledge) and do tīrāṇa pariññā (practical knowledge)]: in the beginning of having knowledge, in the middle with practice and in the end abandonment of kilesa. We have to go in this way. In the Buddha time, if he asked the monks to do this, they only did this.

They didn’t busy with other things. Therefore, they finished their practices very quickly. They followed one way and many became arahants. (In the 20th century, there were still evident of some Thai Forest Monks and Burmese Monks’ Biographies). Increasing of monastic rules was also the cause of monks doing more unwholesome things. They were wasting their time with unwholesome matters.

Therefore, they can’t discern impermanence or very weak in their discernments. These five points (from ① light to ⑤ happiness) are from the side of contemplative mind (ñāṇa or ārammaṇika) for making the conclusion. Now I’ll make the conclusion from the side of objects (ārammaṇa).

You have to make the conclusion that it’s only vipassanā ñāṇa (i.e., not the Path Knowledge) if you see light (i.e., object). Still seeing conditioned phenomena — saṅkhata is vipassanā ñāṇa. Seeing the unconditioned (asaṅkhata) is the Path Knowledge (without the objects of the five khandhas).

Here making the conclusion with knowledge (ñāṇa):If you still seeing impermanence of the sec ② (i.e., the five khandhas in the D. A. process), you have to make the conclusion that it’s never Nibbāna.

Therefore, the seeing knowledge is not the Path Knowledge. Only all of the sec ② are ceased is Nibbāna and Path Knowledge. Insight knowledge seeing dukkha sacca and Path Knowledge seeing dukkha nirodha and both are right views.

These are the right series of the practice. Sec ② contemplate sec ② becomes present moment (i.e., saṅkhāra contemplates saṅkhāra). In the Milinda Pañha, Ven. Nāgasena said to King Milinda, “From seeing impermanence and the mind (ñāṇa) turns towards no impermanence is Nibbāna.” Impermanence stays as it is, but the mind (ñāṇa) turns towards no impermanence.

[The last words were simple and clear but profound for understanding. At the time, ñāṇa inclining towards Nibbāna element, the khandha still exists. Therefore, impermanence still exists. But ñāṇa does not stay with impermanence, instead turns towards no impermanence or no khandha; inclining towards no khandha. ]


Counterfeit dhammas are enemies. Counterfeit dhammas arise and real dhammas disappear. Not all of them arise in the yogi. One of them is sure to arise.

⑥ Resolution — Adhimokkha (Some teachers use it as Faith − saddhā. In Sayadaw U Puññananda’s talk, he used it as saddhā.

After seeing impermanence very well, saddhā increases in the Triple Gems — Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha. The whole body is cool and happy. The happiness comes from saddhā and covers up the objects of impermanence. And impermanence disappears, taking it as the realization).

Discern impermanence of the whole body as without any gap for a needle between them. And then the yogi makes the conclusion as Path Knowledge and kilesa comes in. Some yogis' kilesa arise near death. During the vipassanā practice it doesn’t arise.

Near death, seeing the wrong mental sign (nimitta) and by trying hard, some overcome it. Some encounter with suffering (die with the wrong mental sign). By knowing beforehand yogi can overcome it.

(For this point Sayadaw told the story of Ven. Channa who was very sick. Later committed suicide and seeing the wrong image for rebirth. But he already had some success in his practice before and could correct his mental image at death.)

There are some people taking sloth and torpor as samādhi and don’t see impermanence, think it as the Path Knowledge. The Buddha taught for 45 years. Divided them into three periods and got 15 years each. During the first 15 years, many became arahants with abhiññā − direct knowledge.

(There are six abhiññā: ① Various kinds of supernormal power ② Divine ear ③ Penetration of minds ④ Recollection of past life ⑤ Divine eye ⑥ Destruction of taints.)

After that followed with tevijjā — triple knowledge arahants. After that fewer and fewer became ariyas. Nowadays this is even worse. (tevijjā refers to ① Recollection of past life ② Divine eye ③Destruction of taints)

⑦ Exertion — paggaha or viriya; the four kinds of viriya arise clearly and it doesn’t like the same viriya as before. And the yogi thinks it as the Path Knowledge.

⑧ Mindfulness — Sati: at any time sati can follow the object. Very sharp sati and take it as sati with the Path Knowledge.

If you make conclusion with the object, it can’t be mistaken; still with the object of impermanence and not ending yet.

⑨ Equanimity in Contemplation — Āvajana (Here Sayadaw used this word instead of upekkhā − equanimity). Here is upekkhā. The yogi discerns anicca very well with every contemplation and takes it as Path Knowledge.

⑩ Nikanti — attachment: it’s clinging taṇhā; clinging to all the experiences as mentioned above. Contemplate its impermanence and go back to one’s own meditation objects (for example, with the contemplation of mind, go back to the mind, and with feeling, go back to feeling, etc.)

In conclusion, these are the causes of the disappearance of sāsana (Here means practice sāsana). These are the reasons of disappearance of Realization = pativedha sāsana because it hinders Path and Fruition Knowledges.

You have to contemplate the impermanence of the arising counterfeit dhamma. Or not pay any attention and neglect of them. All of the ten points, only one of them will arise in the yogi.

revised on 2021-03-15; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4202&p=35995#p35995 (posted on 2019-02-21)

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