Why No Realization?

revised on 2024-06-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 10th October 1961

Vipassanā exists only in the Buddha-sāsana, and we also encounter it. You also meet a good teacher and continues with your practice deligently. It's sure to lead to achievement. Don’t believe what other people say about perfection (pāramīs) needing to be fulfilled slowly. Don’t listen to them. The Buddha also gave us the guarantee for realization within seven years, seven months, and seven days (in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta). Phongyi (Sayadaw) also wants to remind you that within this short period, don’t waste your time and energy on matters of family and business. This period can prevent the dangers of ageing, sickness, and death, and not falling down to the dangers of apāyas. I am worried that you will run out of time with no practice. It’s very sad to spoil it. The Buddha warned us of the importance of practice and knowledge (ñāṇa) having to fit together. A dhamma is arising; contemplate it quickly with ñāṇa. According to the Buddha, if you don’t separate anicca and ñāṇa, you could finish it in seven days. If your prayers (perfections) are fulfilled by practicing in the morning, you will achieve it in the evening. In this case, why don't we realize it? Because anicca and magga are not fitting together. For this matter, the Buddha taught the Telapatta Sutta (Bowl of Oil Discourse, Satipaṭṭhāna Saṃyutta) [SN.47.20 Janapadakalyāṇīsuttaṃ, At Sedaka (The Beauty Queen) Sedaka Sutta] for us.

(Sayadaw using his teaching of cittānupassanā to explain this sutta)

Thirteen kinds of mind are like a bowl of oil. You must contemplate anicca whatever arises from the six sense doors. Don't let your mind go out anywhere. If it goes outside to the objects of the five sensual pleasures, and taṇhā (craving), upādāna (clinging), and kamma (action) will kill you. It’s very bad indeed if the mind goes out. If you contemplate feelings, then three kinds of feelings are the bowl of oil. Is there any kilesa leaking if anicca and magga are not separated? You’ll encounter ageing, sickness, and death if you go outside of satipaṭṭhāna. It’s a victory if you don't go out. This point is very important. The oil not spilled from the bowl means the D.A. process does not continue. It doesn’t apply at other times, only during the time of insight practice.

In the beginning of sitting practice, simply breathe in and breathe out. You have to be aware of the breath coming in and going out. If a mind arises, follow it. Follow the breathing-in mind and the breathing-out mind if nothing else arises. Contemplate feelings in the same way. The bowl of oil is like the contemplating objects; the contemplative knowledge (ñāṇa) is the criminal, and the executioner is the D.A. process. Do you have to practice it for a long time? It doesn’t have to be. You have to pass through these two places (i.e., a bar with many alcoholics and a place with a beautiful dancer with many people). You have to navigate through the knowledge of rise and fall and the knowledge of disenchantment (rise and fall represent a bar; disenchantment represents the dancing place). After you navigate through it, you arrive at the place of the path (magga).

[Note: In the original sutta, a bar with alcoholics is not mentioned. This was Sayadaw’s invention. Here we see Sayadawji’s creative wisdom. A bar with alcoholics can represent avijjā and delusion—not knowing phenomena as it really is (anicca, dukkha, anatta). The beautiful dancer can represent taṇhā, and passing through represents disenchantment and not wanting it. Taṇhā's demise is the path (magga).]

If the mind is moving towards other objects, you must contemplate their anicca. This is like making an adjustment to the bowl of oil when it becomes slightly tilted. This is from the Saṃyutta Nikāya (the above sutta). I also have to discuss it from the Aṅguttara Nikāya. During the contemplation of anicca, don’t let kilesas interfere (i.e., between anicca and the mind). During the time of disenchantment, also don’t let kilesas interfere. The main point in the two suttas is the same—do not let the oil spill and do not let kilesas interfere. At the time of sitting, make the determination (adhiṭṭhāna) that within 15 minutes or half an hour, you will not let kilesas interfere. After that, gradually increase the time span of sitting. (This is wise advice for beginners).

revised on 2024-06-09

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