The Middle Way

revised on 2019-11-05

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 13th December 1960

(Sayadaw reminded yogis to observe their internal phenomena, when they see the external phenomena. In this way many realized Dhamma in the past. There were some Theras’ and Theris’ gathas mentioned these experiences.

A bhikkhunī saw a candle flame was extinguished and another saw the water flowed into the earth and disappeared were attaining enlightenments.

Sayadaw said one important point in the observation. He gave an example, a candle continuously burning is not arising and changing into something but it’s arising and perishing, arising and disappearing, etc. at the same spot.

If it’s changing into something and become a sassata view (It’s similar to a soul view). The reality is one flame disappears and substitutes with a new flame. In this way, it's free from wrong views.)

An intelligent person saw a tree leaf fell from the tree and got enlightenment. A leaf drying up from green to yellow colors and fell off from the tree (This referred to an interesting and famous jataka story nearly every Buddhist knew. Sonaka, a minister son sat under a tree and saw a tree leaf falling down to him.

This incidence with the contemplation of his khandhas and he became a Paccekabuddha. After some years passed by he went to the palace and taught dhamma to his friend the king – the Bodhisatta. One of the well – known story he taught was a silly crow and a dead elephant floating in the ocean.

Nowadays human beings are sillier than this crow. We can know this from the current human societies on earth). It’s a form (rūpa), will be changed and fallen. All forms contacting with heat will change. Contacting with cold is in change. Every mind is changing. For example, a small child is crying.

The mother becomes anxious with what happen to the child. After knowing nothing happens and she becomes glad. From the anxious mind and changes into gladdened mind. Therefore mind and form are changing with their causes.

Does change (here the Pali word vipariṇāma) mean after arising and changing into something or after vanishing and substitutes with something? Don’t take it as changing but as vanishing with substitution. It becomes view of eternalism (sassata diṭṭhi) if taking it as changing.

Vanishing is anicca ñāṇa – knowledge of seeing impermanence. Changing is wrong view (diṭṭhi) and taking it as vanishing and free from diṭṭhi. For example, moving the cup here to this place is changing. Vanishing means at here disappears and at here (at the same spot) a new substitution.

Therefore changing and vanishing are different. Disbanding its own nature is vanishing. If you see the outside things are vanishing and turning inwards of one’s khandha. The preceding mind not exists and the new following mind arises. By turning the mind inwards and seeing the same as like the outwards things and D.A. is cutting off.

Because with the knowledge of seeing, the vanishing comes in. The external and internal phenomena become the same and will get the Path Knowledge (Sayadaw gave the story of a woman, by frying vegetables and seeing the changes of it. And at the same time turning inside her with contemplation and became a sotāpanna).

Sabbe saṅkhāra anicca – All conditioned phenomena are impermanent – external and internal phenomena are impermanent. In this way taṇhā connects internal with the external dies away. There are only the internal and the external existences.

Therefore the Buddha taught to contemplate the external and internal in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. It is also enough if you only see the internal vanishing (This point is supported by some yogis' practice with Mahasi System. Most of the systems only teach to contemplate one’s own khandha).

The Buddha from the monastery instructed the woman to turn inwardly and contemplate her khandha. By following with the contemplation of impermanence, ñāṇa develops and becomes mature. The whole khandha is full of impermanences that even you can’t put in a tip of a needle inside them.

After that you penetrate dukkha thoroughly and if dukkha ceases and will see Nibbāna. If dukkha not ceases can’t see Nibbāna yet. After seeing dukkha and not wanting and it ceases. Seeing dukkha ceases is the Path Knowledge. You will be free from the eight faults and the doors to woeful births are closed.

(The eight faults for living beings were mentioned in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. These are:

The three woeful planes – 1. Hells, 2. Animals, 3. Ghosts. The commentary divided ghosts (petas) to two types; petas with sufferings only and vimānika petas with half sufferings and half bliss.

  1. Arūpa Brahma gods (with mind only) and Asañña Brahma gods (with body only),
  2. Human beings, born with three unwholesome roots (greed, hatred and delusion)
  3. (Being born at) The places where the Buddha’s Teachings can’t reach out; for example, border areas, hill tribes, etc.
  4. People have wrong views,
  5. The time when a Buddha is not arising, so the Dhamma does not exist.)

You have to practice for seeing the cessation of dukkha. There are no other things to do. If diṭṭhi – taṇhā still exist and it's not finished yet. If you can decide this is not me, not I am and not mine and it ceases. [There was an interesting story of a yogi. An Italian man had an interview with his teacher.

He said that every time was seeing emptiness (i.e., impermanence) and he wanted jumping into it, but couldn’t do it. (Here wrong view came in and hindered the practice.) Then he asked himself, who wanted jumping into it? “There is no I and no me, who can jump (Here he dispelled his wrong view with practice).

As soon as he contemplated not-self – anatta, the whole khandha disappeared with an explosion. This yogi’s experience supported what Mogok Sayadaw always emphasized strongly for, first dispelling wrong view with intellectual knowledge before the practice.

Wrong views were very deep rooted strongly in living beings from undiscoverable saṁsāra. Some bhikkhus’ stories in the time of the Buddha also supported it; for example, Ven. Channa, Ven.Yamaka and Ven. Anurādha.

This Italian yogi overcame it because his teacher was also a Mogok yogi. He taught him before, using the law of D.A. process to dispel his wrong view. Even though, wrong view still crept in. You see how strong self-view is! Therefore, anatta doctrine is difficult to understand and accept. Except a Buddha no one can teach about it. Therefore the Buddha said without the Noble Eight – fold Path no-one could become ariya].

If it’s still not mature, it'll becomes maturity with the continuous contemplation. And slowly it will mature. This is not a tiresome task because it is the middle way. Making money for sensuality is very tiresome. It’s the same with the practices of torturing oneself.

Contemplation of impermanence is the middle way. If you can’t put your feet on the middle way and you are changing yourself between the two extremes. The hedonists (especially modern man) who always follow sensuality do have dukkha and search for dukkha (quite silly). This path should not go. The path of torturing oneself is directly to painful births.

Only meeting with a good teacher can walk on the middle path. The path of sensuality is the way which father and mother teach you. They can do this only. (Sayadaw mentioned about the Bodhisatta’s extreme practices).

The path of contemplation of one’s khandhas is to know the truth of the khandha. And it becomes right disenchantment. After not wanting it, the khandha comes to an end. The ending of the khandha is Nibbāna.

revised on 2019-11-05; cited from (posted on 2019-03-03)

  • Content of Part 10 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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