Worldlings with Wrong Eyes and Defiled Minds

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 10th March 1962

[Here are two talks on wrong views on the same day]

We’re walking in the whole of saṁsāra with the two eyes of micchā-diṭṭhi and micchā-saṅkappa (i.e., deluded or blind eyes). Now, having encountered a good teacher, it’s important to adopt the two eyes of sammā-diṭṭhi and sammā-saṅkappa (i.e., wisdom eyes). Living with these two eyes will end dukkha. Without them, one wanders in Saṁsāra, sometimes in sugati (good destinations) and sometimes in dugati (bad destinations) [mostly in apāyas which are our permanent homes]. This is not a lack of perfections (pāramītas) but rather due to the wrong eyes or blind eyes. They are fermented with taints of the wrong view (ditthāsava). With people who have affections, they wish for them to survive, and with people they hate, they wish for them to die (i.e., sassata and uccheda people, e.g., some politicians and western super-powers). If a person is a good teacher, he must teach people how to worship the Buddha in purified ways and how to perform dāna in untainted ways. (This point is very important for Dhamma teachers. Sayadawji taught what he himself has practiced in his whole life. Most teachers are lacking this quality.) People who can cultivate pure merit are indeed very rare.

In the Itivuttaka Pāli, the Buddha made a distinction between sassata and uccheda persons. If a teacher discusses Nibbāna, the sassata person does not like it (he is bonded by bhāva-taṇhā super glue, which modern scientists still cannot produce). He is attached to becoming (bhāva). If the teacher advocates for the cessation of bhāva, he trembles. The uccheda person is wearied and disgusted by becoming and wishes it to be completely severed, yet he does not desire Nibbāna, nor does he want to face ageing, sickness, and death. He prefers when nothing ever happens again. The sassata-person does not understand dukkha sacca and the uccheda-person does not comprehend nirodha sacca. Only by recognizing anicca, moving away from these two erroneous views, does disenchantment follow, and with the cessation of desire for dukkha, Nibbāna arises. Ultimately, the person is liberated from sassata and uccheda, fully understanding this knowledge. Therefore, the discourse on the discernment of anicca, its disenchantment, and its cessation is not trivial.

The sassata-person believes in this life, the next life, and the consequences of actions, both good and bad. He is accustomed to performing meritorious acts and fears committing demerits. When taught about the outcomes of merits, he greatly appreciates it, making it difficult to abandon his view. Therefore, it is challenging to assist him, even upon encountering the Buddha. His fault is not very significant. There is a delay in his willingness to abandon his view. Teaching him is more difficult than teaching the uccheda-person. He possesses strong Taṇhā for clinging to the realms of existence. Even when he has the opportunity for liberation through meeting the Buddha, his response is sluggish.

The fault of a uccheda-person is significant yet easy to correct. It is important to recognize the differences between a greedy person (lobha) and a hatred person (dosa). He has significant faults regarding his view but is easy to liberate. He also believes in bhāva.

His desire to cut off becoming (bhāva) is complex. He believes in the results of merits and demerits but is reluctant to perform meritorious acts. He prefers the extinction of bhāva and, regarding demerits, is bold enough to commit them. Encountering the Buddha, it is easy for him to be liberated and abandon his views. The uccheda-person is near Nibbāna, while the sassata-person is far from it. The greedy person has no restraint in speech (talks actively, talks too much), while the uccheda-person is terse and blunt. Inherently, both are flawed (due to diṭṭhi). However, if the uccheda-person has the opportunity to meet the Buddha or an arahant, liberation comes easily. Proximity to Nibbāna is their only superior aspect. The sassata-person does not understand dukkha sacca and craves bhāva, while the uccheda-person does not understand nirodha sacca and prefers to cut off bhāva; thus, both are far from Nibbāna.

Therefore, you must encourage the sassata-person to recognize dukkha as unstable and impermanent, which could lead to his liberation. Once the sassata-person acknowledges dukkha sacca, he will abandon his view. For the uccheda-person, even if he recognizes dukkha sacca, he does not abandon his view until he reaches the cessation of it and his wrong view is finally discarded. A lack of understanding of the truth never frees one from diṭṭhi. Thus, it is evident that wrong views obstruct the path (magga) and fruition (phala). Observe and contemplate the khandha with samādhi, recognizing that all it conveys is the truth of dukkha. Continuously watch and scrutinize the khandha from its arising to its cessation. Even if you derive pleasure from its arising, discerning its vanishing should negate that pleasure.

If I have to give you an example: consider the matter of establishing a family life. You all have a short-sighted view about it, leading to long-term Dukkha. You must identify the cause (It’s an important point for Buddhists). Initially, it starts with taṇhā, and then it becomes clinging (upādāna). Initially, you simply offered your hand to her. Now, both of you hold each other's hands very tightly. As it ages, it becomes more foolish, much like a lemon fruit that grows larger and sours. Do not trust each other's words when problems arise. All these are worldly speeches. Only someone with the Wisdom-eyes can strip off these two diṭṭhis.

Here, Sayadaw provided instruction on dukkha and asubha nature. He said that we do not understand these two natures because we have never considered the entire process from beginning to end. Initially, when they were young, men and women established families, but upon aging, many problems and difficulties arise (Compare this with the life of a monk, and it will be very clear). In Burmese, the word for 'establish a family' also means 'a home prison.'

Similarly, when a beautiful young woman dies, her body undergoes changes, stage by stage, becoming ugly and disgusting.

[A reflection on what really exists and does not exist]

In one of Mogok Sayadaw’s talks, he discussed yathābhūta ñāṇa— as the reality and the knowing fit together, meaning you’re discerning what really exists, but usually we see what does not exist. For an arahant who has perfect sati and paññā, if he pays attention to the khandha, he understands the khandha burden very clearly. Thus, they want to cast off the khandhas forever. But worldlings are not like this; they see the impermanent khandha as an entity, dukkha as sukha, loathsome as beautiful. So, they are creating problems and difficulties all the time even without their knowing it.

Some people can even take another person's life over a disgusting body. It was like two vultures fighting over a putrid carcass.

The human body is a very coarse form, but the obsession with it is sometimes quite extreme. They are not only craving and clinging to the opposite sex but also to the same sex, which is considered abnormal and unnatural. When human morals and virtues degenerate, unlawful lust and abnormal lust for the body form become extreme (mentioned in the Aggañña Sutta, DN 27).

One of Ajahn Mun's senior disciples, Ajahn Lee Dharmadharo, reflected in his autobiography on what it would be like to have a family and then realized the Dukkha that would follow him. He gave up the plan to have a family life and decided to continue with his practice as a monk. The book “The Autobiography of Phra Ajaan Lee,” translated by Ajahn Thanissaro, is highly recommended.

revised on 2024-07-09

  • Content of Part 14 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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