Ignorance to Knowledge

revised on 2024-06-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 26th November 1961

If there is no cessation of avijjā and no cessation of Dukkha (It's true according to the 12 links of the D.A. process. In the practice and experience of Thai forest teachers, they also mention finding where ignorance (avijjā) hides and destroying it in the final stage, the fourth stage or Arahantship.) In everyday life, samudaya arises from dukkha. (See D.A. Chart, section two → section 3) Every day, the circle of D.A. arises again and again. It was like a cow circling an oil-producing circular grindstone. What does it mean that the saṁsāra is very long? Is it in a straight line or running in a circle? It’s running in circles. Dukkha is wood (fuel), and samudaya is fire. Fire and fuel are turning circular. If you apply a number to them, it will also never end. [It starts from avijjā to the end, and then from the end to the beginning (i.e., anuloma paṭiloma).] Ageing, sickness, and death are ignorance (avijjā). This is the worst situation of a person with no cessation of ignorance. In the era of short human lifespans, even people are still making themselves become stupid and foolish (instead of wise—i.e., following the Dhamma practice). (Sayadaw compared the human lifespan with the Tāvatiṁsa Heaven lifespan. 100 human years equal 1 day of Tāvatiṁsa; on one day, one of Sakka’s wives passed away from there and was born in the human world. She made merits and prayers to be born again as Sakka’s wife. When she was born there, Sakka and devatās were still playing in the garden.)

Humans are doing all kinds of unwholesome dhammas. They are playing stupid shows even among the sufferings (no limits in stupidity) (If we look at the human world today and contemplate with the D.A. process, we can discern many kinds of stupidity and foolishness about humans—it's quite a mess and chaotic.) You have to make this determination: "Let me starve and die, I have to finish my vipassanā task." You have to make great effort, as this is to be your last life.

Starving to death is not so important. Only fearful of falling into hell or apāyas. Which one do you prefer—after starving to death and not falling into hell or apāyas, or dying with a full stomach and falling into hell? (This question should be asked to politicians, economists, and billionaires). The Buddha himself said that: "If I tell you about the sufferings of apāya dukkha, it'll never end." Don’t take the Buddha’s warning superficially; this is very great and extensive suffering (Dukkhas). Let's do the practice.

I'll extract the Pāli Dhamma from the Saṃyutta Nikāya. A monk asked the Buddha: "How can a person know, contemplate, and see with the cessation of ignorance and becoming knowledgeable?" Because of past ignorance, you have to pay your kammic debt with the khandha. It's important that from this khandha, do not let ignorance arise (i.e., from sec. 2 does not arise sec. 3, see the D.A. chart). You have to contemplate the anicca of ārammaṇa and dvāra (sense object and sense base), contemplate the anicca of minds. And you'll see anicca dukkha sacca. (Sayadaw gave instruction on the contemplation of mind, which was Sayadaw's favorite) In this way, from sec.2, sec.3 did not arise. Avijjā is not born from the khandha by discerning anicca dukkha sacca. Without it, taṇhā, upādāna, and kamma do not arise. If you contemplate all the arising mind and ignorance ceases. It's doing the work of knowledge. Vajjā is magga (knowledge). If you discern anicca and see Dukkha.

Also, contemplate the anicca of feelings (here taught as vedanā). Sec.3 does not arise and does not connect to sec.4 (i.e., birth— jāti). There is no birth; this is Nibbāna. At first, you contemplate it with the knowledge from my teaching. When you see it directly, ignorance will cease. Ignorance is born from sec.2, and if doing vipassanā, sec.3 does not arise. (see the 12 links of D.A). In this way, the play of life ended in sec.2. The play of life will now end. Section two is Dukkha Sacca, and when contemplating it, one knows one’s own Dukkha. Not knowing about the attainment of Dukkha, it becomes ignorance. Knowing the arising Dukkha, it becomes vijjā. You're discerning anicca dukkha, which becomes the disciple who follows the Buddha’s exhortation (ovāda). You're free from doubt and have the quality of bravery, and you do not believe what others have said. You become a sāsana person (a true Buddhist or sotāpanna). (Here, the important point is that not becoming a sotāpanna is an outsider) In the teaching given to the Saccaka wanderer— it's important to see it by oneself. It doesn’t need perfection (pāramīta). Take note of it carefully and contemplate anicca to not let ignorance arise.

(The main differences between Buddhism and other faiths are direct seeing or understanding; believing in what others have said, or ignorance.)

revised on 2024-06-09

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