Dying, Saṁsāra and Nibbāna

revised on 2020-07-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; no date noted

[Sayadaw delivered quite a few talks on Yamaka. Here are three talks of Sayadaw based on Yamaka Sutta. I had already translated some of them on Ven. Yamaka before. Therefore, here only translate some of the parts for contemplation.]


Not understanding the khandha process that wrong view arises. The five mind moments also arose for the Buddha and arahants at near death. For the worldlings after the five mind moments and death consciousness arises. His death consciousness is dukkha sacca and his birth consciousness is also dukkha sacca.

Therefore, dukkhas cease and continue to other dukkhas if worldlings die. For the arahants after the five mind moments and death consciousness arises, but not continues to birth consciousness. Instead, with the cessation of dukkha and Nibbāna arises. The permanent happiness arises.

The stable happiness arises (The Buddha referred to Nibbāna as the Supreme Happiness. Not the feeling happiness – sukha vedanā as some Buddhists took it as the permanent heavenly bliss). Is it not the extinction? Some think that if an arahant dies and becomes totally extinct.

If you take it as nothing exists and become the view of annihilation. (uccheda diṭṭhi.) For the worldlings the processes are dukkha to dukkha; for arahants, dukkha to sukha. It is very different. In the teaching (of Buddhism or the right Buddha’s teachings) you can’t separate D.A. process and the truths. (i.e., the four Noble Truths).

(This point is very important for the right understanding of the Buddha’s Teachings. Because some Buddhists thought that the arahants still had defilements. Their minds were not totally pure because they still had vasana – habitual tendency and selfishness.

These misunderstanding arose because of not understanding of the D.A. process and the four Noble Truths clearly. The four Noble Truth, D.A. process and the Paṭṭhāna Conditional Relations are the same things, from simple to detail processes.)

Worldlings continue the D.A. process; i.e., continue to dukkha. Arahants cut off the D.A. processes, i.e., cut off dukkha and sukha Nibbāna arises.

(Continued the Yamaka’s story) After the arahant dies dukkha sacca ceases and sukha sacca arises (the arising of Nibbāna element). Without understanding of this point that people don’t want Nibbāna

(This is one of the great problems of living beings. Because their bhava taṇhā were so strong that very difficult to let go of their craving, clinging and view on this point. Even the highest beings, the brahma gods have bhava taṇhā. Therefore, some Buddhists preferred Nibbāna to be atta.

In Thailand some monks belong to a Buddhist sect even teach people as Nibbāna is attā and wanting to make it becomes a popular Buddhism.)

It’s becoming clear that the concepts of man and woman cover up on the five khandhas. If you separate and analyze each one of the five khandhas, then an arahant is only a sign – board. With the contemplation of the khandha and you’ll not see the arahant but only impermanence.

[Note on the passing away of Buddha and Arahants (i.e., parinibbāna)

Sayadaw mentioned in his talk, “For the arahants after the five mind moments and death consciousness arises, but not continues to birth consciousness. Instead, with the cessation of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas) and nibbāna arises. The permanent happiness arises.”

Here a discussion problem arises from the point of Abhidhamma on the death consciousness of Buddha and arahant. Some think that Buddha and arahant passed away by inclining the mind towards Nibbāna element. This is not true. The object of rebirth consciousness, the object of bhavaṅga cittas arise between the whole life process and the object of death consciousness are the same. All of them are bhavaṅga cittas, and taking the same object of near past life, which was appearing during the dying process as a rebirth sign object. Not only the Buddha and arahant, all beings are in the same way. This is natural procedure of the mind.

In the Mahā-Parinibbāna Sutta—the great discourse on the total unbinding, it described the passing away of the Buddha as followed.

The Buddha entered the first Jhāna (absorption state). Emerging from that, he entered the second Jhāna. Emerging from that, he entered the third Jhāna…up to the cessation of perception and feeling. From there, in the reverse order, the Buddha was descending to the first Jhāna successively, by entering and emerging.

From the first Jhāna again, he successively entered the fourth Jhāna; emerging from the fourth Jhāna, he immediately was totally unborn (i.e., passed away).

What are the different between arahant (including the Buddha) and other beings (including the ariyas of Sotāpanna to Anāgāmi)? The arahant mind is totally pure without any defilement (kilesa). There is no more conditions for the arising of rebirth consciousness. It is like the burning of a fire which needs fuel and fire for continuing to burn. Fuel is like the khandhas and fire like defilement (ignorance and craving). Therefore, after the fuel is consumed and fire is gone out extinguished is like the parinibbāna of an arahant. For other beings, they still have new khandhas to arise with kilesas. Mogok Sayadaw referred to the passing away of arahant as the extinction of fuel and the extinguishment of the fire as Nibban (Burmese short form for Nibbāna).

There were some problems arose by some later Buddhists who postulated some views and ideas for some enlightened beings and their concepts of Nibbāna as different from the Buddha. These special enlightened beings were higher than arahants and pacceka-Buddhas. These beings were living in special heavens and coming and going to the human world to help or save human beings according to their desire like the avatars in Hinduism. This atta Nibbāna is confusing people from the Buddha teaching in Nibbāna which also anatta. Atta Nibbāna or Nirvana is similar to the Hindu Moksha.]


After dispelling diṭṭhi, it is easy to enter the stream. There are eight causes for identity view – sakkāya diṭṭhi to arise. (Talked about Ven. Tissa broke his legs for guarantee to the bandits who wanted to take his life)

He practiced by separating vedanā was using the anicca ñāṇa. If you ask me; “Are the pains and aches cause by vedanā?” You’ll only see the arising and passing away. And it becomes anicca and magga. Is there any displeasure (domanassa) arise such as it’s too painful? Only has bodily pain (kāyika dukkha) and no mental pain arises (cetasika dukkha). Pains and aches not arise in the mind. People are not seeing impermanence that getting up and running away.

These are not vedanā anymore if you discern its impermanence. (i.e., for the contemplative mind, vedanā becomes anicca that it only effects the physical body and not the mind. So diṭṭhi / taṇhā and dosa do not come in.) If not, with the repetition condition (āsevanapaccayo), it becomes increasing and you can’t bear it. Even Ven. Tissa could contemplate and overcame the great pain struck with the stone meant it was not vedanā anymore.

If an arahant dies and it is not cutting off. And then what happen to him? Only dukkha not exists. With the exception of dukkha sacca ceases and Nibbāna arises than nothing exists (Nibbāna is not permanent heavens for special beings as some Buddhists think).

In the verse of anicca vatta saṅkhāra with the impermanence (anicca) vanishes and the conditioned arises (saṅkhāra). Again the saṅkhāra ends up with anicca. Vanishing is anicca and arising is saṅkhāra. In this way anicca and saṅkhāra are going on in turn. Pains, numbness and aches are vedanā. With the dissolution of them are anicca.

Because the Buddha taught – vipariṇāma lakkhaṇaṁ dukkha saccaṁ – the characteristic of change is truth of suffering. Your dukkha is also known by animals (i.e., painful feeling). It can’t realize the Path and Fruit. It is dukkha which abandons its intrinsic nature. You must discern this point.


In the khandha all the conditioned phenomena are arising and vanishing with a blip that even you can’t put a tip of a needle inside them. It’s in dukkha and nothing is attainable. The five khandhas are except in perishing/ dissolution and nothing exists. Therefore, it’s dukkha sacca. Doing the merits of dāna and sīla with the wishes of not wanting this khandha is good.

If not you’ll get back dukkha. Someone is alive without knowing the truth is like animals. So don’t live a life like a human beast. Discerning impermanence is knowing the truth. (Continued Ven. Yamaka’s story.) Mind/ body dhamma arising are for dying. It dies after that.

This is the dying disease arising and its death. Can you say it as my khandha, or it happens in accordance with the dhamma nature? It happens in accordance with the dhamma nature and not-self (anattā). You just contemplate the impermanence. It’ll enter the stream by itself.

The first knowledge is turning towards rising and falling. After if you don’t want dukkha and ñāṇa turns towards Nibbāna. The yogi knows his own cessation of dukkha. It also had evidence; if no, I’ll not talk about it. (i.e., evidence of the suttas)

King Milinda asked Ven. Nagasena: “How to contemplate and realize Nibbāna? The process was the same as mentioned before. You’ll ask me; “Does this physical body disappear?” The yogi is seeing impermanence and not the body, hands and feet.

With the continuous contemplation of impermanence and ñāṇa becomes mature to the point of just only dukkha and not wanting. And then all the impermanence disappears. With this, the emptiness arises. Nibbāna arises in the knowledge. (It means the defiled mind – kilesa creates the khandhas.) People outside him see the khandha. But the yogi himself not sees it (i.e., his own body). Your duty is the contemplation of impermanence. And Nibbāna arises by itself.

When it’s arising how the yogi experiencing it? It’s like pouring with 100 buckets of water and feeling coolness in the knowledge. Normally the khandha is burning with the fire of lust, anger and delusion. It could happen at any time if you’re practicing hard without giving up.

So don’t doubt about it. It was like a sore on your hand, after it was cured and sukha left behind. With dukkha ceases, peace and coolness – santi sukha is leaving behind. Therefore, “Does it totally disappear or dukkha ends?”

(Sayadaw continued to talk about Ven. Yamaka, later became arahant after entered the stream). The five khandhas are coming to murder you. But you’re looking after it. You have to leave them as strangers. Keep them as insiders that you were murdered by it in every life. You were not murdered by others, but with one of the five khandhas.

(giving some of the examples). Every dukkha comes from the five khandhas. The nature of them is oppressive (pīḷana). Contemplate them as these are not me, not I am and not mine. And then, they can’t kill you. Asking you for the contemplation is to know them as strangers.

There is no affection for it if you know them as aliens. With the samudaya dies and it can’t make the khandha. They come to murder us but we go and attach them so that meeting with dangers. We must talk about on killing taṇhā if we want to attain the higher Path knowledge. It is also seeing the impermanence (also start with anicca). But contemplate them as murderer, alien (vadhaka, parato).

(Sayadaw had penetrative wisdom. His talks were simple, clear and profound and it went straight into one’s heart. We need to use it for contemplation very often and it develops our wisdom faculties.)

revised on 2020-07-10; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4371&p=36334#p36334 (posted on 2019-04-16)

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