The Burdened Khandha

revised on 2021-03-26

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; no date noted

Nibbāna is not made by anyone and no dissolution. The Buddha smiled at the time of near his passing away because he had to lay down his burdened khandha.

The khandha was arising, presence and dissolution (the three sub-moments of birth – ageing – death). He would be separated from ageing, sickness and death and stayed with no ageing, no sickness and deathless. Someone abandons the five khandhas can be smiled and no sadness. He has to smile because will be stayed with no ageing, no sickness and the deathless. He had been carried the khandha quite a long time and no time for a rest. (Even only as a real Bodhisatta, it took four incalculable and hundred thousand aeons. We should be weary about our saṁsaric dukkha.)

Nibbāna has the power of stability and coolness. The knowledge wanting to free from the present khandha is the path of liberation. We have to come out from the knowledge of not wanting the present khandha. Ven. Sāriputta recited these Pali verses near the time of laying down his burdened khandha. (Sayadaw recited the Pali verses).

The khandha was always burning with fire. I had never been in peace and happiness. I had never been freed from any life not to carry the khandhas made by taṇhā. It was heavier than carrying the great Mt. Meru on my back. Even Mt. Meru would turn into ashes at the time of Doomsday. But the burdened khandha had to carry on in the other world. I never had the chances to lay it down before.

Nibbāna is the Dhamma for everyone takes joy in it and put down the burdened khandha when the time comes. (Arahant had penetrated dukkha thoroughly for four times on the way of practice; and also rested the mind in fruition state for many time and before.) The path of liberation is easy if the teacher shows the way.

Leaving the eye of the worldling aside and with the eye of ariyan and the khandha is never free from diseases. Therefore, don’t pray for the khandha. If you’re taking the khandha as very good, you don't actually want to be liberated from it.

Only you know about its evils, and want to be freed from it (These points are important for Buddhists to contemplate. Dukka means disgust and uselessness. Therefore, it only gives us troubles and sufferings in saṁsāra, except we use it for liberation. With bhava taṇhā we will come back again and again for sufferings and no other purposes).

The khandha only shows you what originally has. Sitting at a place, watching and observing for what it will show you. With the watching and observing will see the dissolution of the khandha. Ñāṇa has to follow behind its ehi passiko – khandha is calling at come and see me. You will see its not-existing if you’re following it.

Why is that? For example, pain arises and at the time when ñāṇa follows it and not there anymore. Its calling is the arising and not seeing it is the vanishing. With more samādhi and there are more callings. In the khandha only the change and dissolution exist. The calling is the change and not existing is the vanishing.

Note: Dukkha and the burdened khandha

Buddhists or non-Buddhists should contemplate on Dukkha and the Burdened khandha very often in our daily life with experiences. These Dhammas are like two sides of a coin and inseparable. With the understanding of Dukkha, we will understand the burdened khandha, vice versa. With development in contemplation, we can see the world with wisdom and compassionate eyes of Dhamma. Some Buddhists encourage people to use some western philosophies to understand Dukkha. The Buddha Dhamma is complete by itself and no need other worldly knowledges to understand it. It’s also impossible because nearly all of them are based on wrong views. Dukkha sacca is the most difficult Dhamma to all living beings. Only a Buddha and his noble disciples can understand them (exclude pacceka-Buddha). We only need to practice with the four noble truths with contemplation of them in our daily life of experiences. First, we need to have appreciation on the nature of dukkha. The best places are hospitals and patients afflicted by ageing, sickness and dying. If we use the four meanings of dukkha sacca: 1. Oppressive (pīḷanāṭṭha) 2. Conditions by craving (saṅkhatāṭṭha) 3. Burning with fire of craving (santāpāṭṭha) and 4. suffering with changing (vipariṇāmaṭṭha).

I myself also have a lot of benefit by using them in my daily life contemplation with experiences. First saṅkhatāṭṭha is my favourite one which dukkha is quite extensive in one’s life. It becomes wearisome which discern dukkha with the burdened khandha. When someone becomes older and older, its oppressive nature is becoming greater and can feel the burdened khandha with a lot of dukkha (many kinds of them). Within eleven years, I have three operations for three physical problems.

As I am contemplating about this, the face of a Thai Ajahn appears in my mind's eye. He was Tan Chao Khun Nor whose life and character had fascinated me quite for a long time. When his majesty the King Rama VI passed away, he was only 35-years old and the personal attendant for him. Therefore, he himself possessed with placid and well-mannered demeanor. He wanted to make merit for the king and ordained as a monk for sometimes. After that he would come back to lay life and marry his fiancée, but when the time came for him, and he changed his mind.

He spent his monkhood with practice for 45 years and at the age of 80 passed away with throat cancer. His monastery was in the Bangkok City near a smelly water canal. He lived in a kuti for 45 years and shut himself in it with all the windows were also closed all the times. Every day, someone had to send his meal to his kuti. Others could see him only two times daily when he came out to the group meetings for morning and evening pujas. One time there were two well-known English Buddhist couple Maurice and Ruth Walshe came to visit and interview him. Quite a rare chance it would be! Our Bodhisatta became Buddha at the age of 35 and taught Dhamma for 45 years. Tan Ajahn also became a monk at 35 and practiced for 45 years in kuti. It was quite remarkable.

There are many ways of renunciation (nekkhamma) which is also one of the perfections (pāramīs). It is also important how to develop it properly and wisely. It should be in the middle way. If become extreme it will like playing hide-and-seek. Another way is totally disbanding it like some traditions. Even the Buddha’s Middle way is profound and not easy to interpret.

Many years ago I had read a Thai book which documented Tan Chao Khun's condition and included colour photographs. It was quite frightening to see it. The left side of his throat was eroded with cancerous cells and created a big sore and looked disgusting. This body is really dukkha sacca – disgusting and useless. Tan Chao Khun was lying down on the floor, and it seemed to be he possessed the strength of Dhamma to endure it calmly. It made me remember one of the scenes in the documentary film about His Majesty the King Rama IX by BBC. His Majesty had a big and wide shrine room with some of the Thai forest Ajahns’ photos and their sarīras. These are coloured crystals come from the purified minds and look like gems. Her majesty the Queen was explaining about them to the BBC crews. The Queen pointed to Tan Chao Khun’s photo and explained about his illness. She went to see Tan Ajahn and asked him about the pain. His answer was he could bear it. There is definitely physical pain, but not mental pain.

Dhamma is truly a refuge. Human dukkha is insignificant if compare with the suffering of hell beings, animals and ghosts. These were also our permanent homes in the rounds of existence before. If we don’t have the sāsana in our heart in the future will be the same. Most of us come here for sight-seeing. Mogok Sayadawji was quite a remarkable Dhamma teacher. His teaching on Dukkha and the Burdened Khandha is just as if someone were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost or to carry a lamp into the dark.

revised on 2021-03-26; cited from (posted on 2019-04-16)

  • Content of Part 12 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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