Lunatics of the World

revised on 2024-06-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 29th November 1961

I’ll talk about the significance of wise attention and unwise attention (i.e., yoniso and ayoniso). With unwise attention, unwholesome dhammas arise and increase the unwholesome ones which already exist. In accordance with parental tradition, people are taught with unwise attention. Therefore, non-arising unwholesome dhammas arise and increase those which already exist. Whenever you observe this khandha, it arises and vanishes. This dukkha khandha is oppressed by ageing and sickness. It's unable to stop that non-self khandha. Excrement, urine, etc., come out from it**;** that is a loathsome khandha. In everyday life, people greet and receive each other with anicca as nicca, dukkha as sukha, anatta as atta, and asubha as subha (i.e., inconstant as constant, suffering as happiness, non-self as self, and loathsome as beautiful). These are unwise attentions. In the world, inversions (vipallāsa) are overwhelming people. (So many unwholesome dhammas arise in the world). With unwise attention, we’re far from the dukkha ending of Nibbāna, and all will fall into apāyas which become certain. Is there anything in the world more frightening than unwise attention? The unwise attentions come from inversions (vipallāsas) of perception, mind or knowing, and view— i.e., saññā, citta, and diṭṭhi— vipallāsas.

Therefore, the world of the phuthujano ummattaka—worldly lunatics are opposite to the Buddha. The Buddha was likely to appear in the world of the lunatics. All are taṇhā-lunatics, māna-lunatics, and diṭṭhi-lunatics (Loka-dhammas and Buddha-Dhammas are opposite). All the deaths of people are those of lunatic-corpses. No one dies by curing their craziness.

(Note: I translate the Burmese word—ayū as lunatic instead of abnormal or crazy. In the English Dictionary, 'lunatic' (as a noun) describes someone as a lunatic, meaning that they behave in a dangerous, stupid, or annoying way (lunacy); (as an adj) lunatic behaviour is foolish and likely to be dangerous. Today, human defilements (lunacy) have no limits and are quite extreme.)

[Sayadawji's talk itself is humorous and has a heavy tone. Observing today's humans, "lunatics" seems more suitable to describe current human situations, matters, and problems. If I were to list a few: 9/11, terrorism, wars in many parts of the world, competitions in trade wars and arms races, climate changes, all sorts of pollution both internal and external, etc.]

There are more people heading to apāyas, and there is no need to disbelieve it (the Buddha also spoke about it). These dhammas will always resist insight knowledge. If you do not gain vipassanā ñāṇa, you can’t attain Nibbāna. The culprits of raga-lunacy and diṭṭhi-lunacy are unwise attention. Only through the purification of them can one arrive at Nibbāna. If you become a stream enterer, the inversion of view disappears. There are 12 factors in vipallāsa dhammas, and I need to spend some time explaining them. We lack the sense restraints (indriyasaṁvara sīla) that prevent taking sense objects as good-looking, graceful, blessings, etc., and ayoniso masks anicca, dukkha, and anatta from leading to Nibbāna.

If you practice vipassanā, craziness becomes more manageable. Craziness will not disappear if you only perform merits. (Most people do merits with craving and clinging, resulting in them gaining power and wealth and becoming "super glues," leading to evils—see all the international crises.) There are four cups of medicine to cure lunacy and craziness, abnormality—the four kinds of medicine: anicca, dukkha, anatta, and asubha. If people don’t take them, their raga-lunacy and diṭṭhi-lunacy will not heal (and may even worsen, as seen with some naked men on the streets in the West). Actually, there are three kinds of lunacy: raga, diṭṭhi, and moha. The Buddha appears to give us three cups of medicine: anicca, dukkha, and anatta. Therefore, he is called satta-deva-manusanam—Teacher of gods and humans, or the Great Doctor to Humans or living beings. He gives us the medicines to expel the poisons of Nicca, Sukha, and Atta (Understanding the Buddha's dhamma is very difficult, especially since it's not easy to have a desire or lend an ear to listening to the Dhammas).

You're all changing your days or putting off drinking or taking medication. If I am urging you for the practice and your response is— “Let me continue my craziness” or “I’ll do it later,” etc. You all think that Fire and Gold, Excrement and Rice are the same, or not much different, as craziness. This is lokiya-lunacy (i.e., influenced by paraloka, black magic, etc.) This is sabhāva-lunacy. Craziness comes from many world systems such as Raga-lunacy, Dosa-lunacy, and Moha-lunacy. In the whole of Saṁsāra, there is not a good one. The Buddha used many ways to prescribe the medicines (e.g., He used different methods to cure Ālavakā Yakkha and Janapada kalyāṇī). Even people become crazy at pūjā times (at prayer times, most Buddhists are praying for sugati—good destinations after death—this is praying for dukkha sacca). Praying with Raga is Raga-lunatic, not knowing Dukkha Sacca is Moha-lunatic, thinking 'if I do it I must receive it' is Diṭṭhi-lunatic. Therefore, their craziness will never end or be cured. They stimulate the inversions in front of the Buddha. You can't even find the beginning time of when beings started becoming crazy. Their lifespan of lunacy is quite long (even you can't find its starting point). With unwise attention, the 12 inversions come in. (Sayadaw gave some examples in daily life of how inversions of perception, knowing, and viewing arise continuously.) With them, craziness is not cured and even increases every day. There is nothing more valuable than three cups of medicine which cure craziness.

The Buddha himself offered his bones, flesh, and blood for four great incalculable aeons (asaṅkheyya kappas, hundreds of thousands of aeons) to develop the perfections (pāramitās) with difficulties and discovered these three cups of medicine. Now, you all get it easily. Should you drink it or not? The beginning of craziness arises from unwise attention. The Buddha instructs that from seeing, hearing, etc., don’t continue forwards; if you do, it becomes crazy. Just stop at seeing, hearing, etc. Another way is contemplating the anicca of seeing, hearing, etc. Except for the three cups of vipassanā medicine, there is no other refuge (God or outside powers).

Even the Buddha himself appeared with these three cups of medicine. If you discern anicca, you are vomiting the poisons. Don’t take it as your practice not developing. If you discern little and vomit little, if you want to vomit a lot then you have to drink it a lot more (practice a lot). You are vomiting the dhammas which make you crazy. The Buddha’s medicines always cure. If you really take it, it really cures. He himself took it and cured it, then shared it with living beings. He did not give it just having heard from others. If you take it, it not only reduces the problem but with more, it’ll be cured. Don’t look for these medicines in other places (faiths) or you’ll miss it. I am only worried that you don’t recognize yourself as in craziness. Then you’ll not look for the medicine. Only by taking the medicine will you know yourself as crazy.

Who built the four Apāyas? Unwise attention built them. In this case—do you build it yourself or are you just unlucky? If you make a mistake, you build a home there! It’s quite a terrible thing. You’re using the tools and machines of 12 inversions to build the home there. You will go and live there, where it was built by you. Where do you build Hell? From the human world, and it makes sense. (This point is very interesting. While we are still alive, we have created various karmas; these things are already there. During the dying moment, one of the results makes the Decision for us.) Nandiya upāsaka built the sālā in the human world, and celestial mansions appeared there even before he died.

(Sayadaw told his story in the Dhammapada. In Ajahn Mun’s Biography, it mentions an old nun who had attachment to her niece even before her death; the niece had a pregnancy from her—the nun. The old nun was a good meditator, and during a sitting, she saw a white thread coming from her heart and going into her niece’s womb. She mentioned this to Ajahn Mun, who asked her to cut off the thread the next time in meditation, with the samādhi power. She did it the next time, and the pregnancy was aborted.

Another story also in the Dhammapada: a pet crane swallowed the ruby gem belonging to the king. The pet owner—the gem polisher—was very angry and killed the crane on the spot. The pet dies and is conceived in the wife's womb because they had a strong karmic link and the crane was attached to her. It seems to me that one of the factors of ovum and sperm combined first, even before the crane's death, as in the old nun’s story.)

Is it not clear it was built from the human world? (i.e., by Nandiya)

After you were born, your parents taught you the inversions-dhammas. You all have to go there where you built them. Don’t be in low spirits, but also don’t pretend nothing happens to you. You still have time. There is medicine, and teachers still exist. Don't waste time. Unwise attention was like a manager, and the 12 inversions were builders. As path knowledge arises, the eight great hells and 120 small hells vanish.

revised on 2024-06-09

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