How to Ask Questions?

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 27th November 1961

I have often said that if one does not understand D.A., one will have the wrong view and doubt. You have to remember this point until attaining the path and fruit knowledges (until becoming a stream enterer). Only after understanding it can diṭṭhi be purified. After this, after the contemplation of impermanence, suffering, and non-self (anicca, dukkha, and anatta), one can testify to the path knowledge. With the understanding of D.A. will understand the process of the khandha and its arising causes. We have to contemplate this khandha that if you have Diṭṭhi and Vicikicchā becoming fruitless. D.A. is one’s khandha arising cause and its process. The arising cause and its process are different. The arising cause is knowing the causes of dhamma which causes the present khandha to arise. Is it the arising process for man or woman? No! It isn't. If knowing viññāṇam → …… feeling (vedanā) (section 2) or the five khandhas is knowing the arising process. (i.e., knowing the dhammas of cause and effect). If you do not know these things before and follow the contemplation, Doubt and Wrong View will appear in the contemplation. These dhammas are forbidding path and fruit knowledges. They forbid the First Path. If not knowing the cause, dhamma has Doubt. If not knowing the result, dhamma has Wrong View. If you are clear about these things, then you have to make the decision that this life of Dukkha will be extinguished.

(Sayadaw talked about the questions and answers between Sāriputta and Mahā-Kassapa.)

If you ask, if a being dies and after that— “Does it become again?” This is Sassata-diṭṭhi. No living being dies and no living being is born, so there is no need to answer this question. There is no being in the arising cause and also in the arising of result. After death, consciousness and only sec. 2 arise (i.e., the five khandhas). There is nothing to answer this question, means you appreciate the D.A. After the mind and form (khandhas) of the past ceased, the present mind and form arise. After the present of mind and form cease, the future mind and form will arise. You have the knowledge of not answering the question which shouldn’t be answered. By understanding the D.A. process, you have knowledge of both "discerning the mind" and "discerning the form", and its cause and effect. You get the basic knowledge of the Path Knowledge, and it’s very valuable. If asking with “Does a being not become after death?” This is also not good to answer, and asking with uccheda-diṭṭhi. With the understanding of D.A. process and it’s purified from both sassata and uccheda. Contemplate on the "D.A. Process", it is severed and becomes a Buddha. (i.e., a bodhisatta). The third question is—After death does a being both exist and does not exist? There is birth consciousness arising only after the dead consciousness ceases. It exists only as each mind arises and passes away one by one. There is no being. For an arahant after the cuti-citta (dead mind) and Nibbāna arises. (So after the death of an Arahant, it does not mean that nothing exists). The fourth question is—after death does a being neither exist nor does not exist?

Why not answer all these questions? These are not beneficial for oneself and others, not leading to knowledge of disenchantment (nibbidā ñāṇa), not free from lust (raga), nor extinguishing of kilesas and not arriving at Nibbāna. The Buddha and all noble beings will not answer them. Then how to ask beneficial questions? What is Dukkha Sacca? Samudaya Sacca? Nirodha Sacca, and Magga Sacca? Asking these questions is beneficial. Recognizing the Dukkha Sacca, one gets tired of it, one turns away from desires, extinguishes kilesas, and reaches Nibbāna.

In the past life, only samudaya saccas were arising. (See the 12 links of D.A. chart). It had been lived with avijjā, saṅkhāra, taṇhā, upādāna, and kamma, and only tried to do samudaya sacca. Only bad things were arising. Then you know yourself as-I am too stupid and foolish. If these things do not arise, is it good? Then don’t you do vipassanā? In this way path and fruition knowledge will arise. Dukkha will end. It has benefits by asking these kinds of questions. Nirodha sacca is by contemplating the khandha and it becomes disappeared, extinction or cessation. Extinction of Dukkha is Nirodha Sacca. If Dukkha vanishes, it’s Nibbāna. In whole life (or the whole saṁsāra), never have been freed from Dukkha and now don’t you know the separation from it? Magga sacca only arises with practice. There is only the existence of Truth (saccas) that only asking about the matters of Truth becomes right (This important point is quite true if we combine all matters related to all living beings; only the four noble truths exist. All are proliferation of beings. With no practice, beings are living with two unwholesome truths— Dukkha and Samudaya, and with practice, living with two wholesome truths— Nirodha and Magga).

TRUE BUDDHISTS are very rare indeed, most of them are eternalists (sassata-vādī), or believe in eternalism (This point is also quite important for contemplation. Even among Theravadin Buddhists, many or the majority are sassata-vādīs, even though the Pāli Nikāya is still existing. It was even worse to not follow the traditions of Nikāyas later on. There are many superstitions and reliance on outside powers and becoming closer to other faiths.) Only let it be in speech (i.e., wrong view). Don’t think or take it as real. It’s not easy to pull out a few people from the majority. The people (or beings) that the Buddha could help were but a few grains of dust on his fingernail, while the beings he left behind were as numerous as the dust on the entire earth. Even uncountable Buddhas were arising in the past as numerous as sand grains in the Ganges River (It’s extremely difficult for a living being to end Dukkha). This Dhamma is very rare and difficult to have the opportunity to hear. Are you still not clear?

There are more people drifting in the ocean of saṁsāra with raga and dosa. It’s very rare indeed; very few of them embark on the bank. Understanding comes from letters and D.A. chart is not real understanding. Real understanding comes from one’s own khandha D.A. process (i.e., direct experience with practice). It’s important to see it in the khandha in accordance with the circular chart. Understanding comes from seeing with contemplation; for example, feeling arises from the khandha and when you contemplate it, it is not there anymore.

Vedanā paccaya taṇhā does not arise = feeling conditions craving does not arise. D.A. circular chart is, for example, of the real process. The D.A. circle diagram is an example of a real process. Even if you understand the diagram, you still need to know your own aggregates (khandha) or observe them. With the chart, you have to compare your khandha experiences with it.

revised on 2024-07-09

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