Sufferings Made by Humans

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 8th to 9th April 1962

[These two talks were based on the Mahādukkhakkhandha Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Mass of Suffering, Sutta No.13, Majjhima Nikāya, MN 13]

(Sayadaw told the story in the sutta) One morning monks went out for alms round. It was too early and they visited a monastery of a group of outsiders nearby. They told the monks as: Gotama (Buddha) taught about the faults of sensual pleasure, material form and feeling (vedanā). Our teacher also taught the same things. So what is the difference between us. But the monks were displeased with what they said and went for alms round. After the alms round they went to see the Buddha and informed their conversation with the outsiders. The Buddha taught them to know about the nature of sensual pleasure, its faults and the way to end them except himself no-one in the world could know and teach these things.

With the five senses of door (eye, ear…… body) and sense objects (form, sound, …… tangibles) sukha and domanassa vedanās (pleasant and unpleasant feelings) arise. These are arisings because of the five cords of sensual pleasure (five kāmaguṇa). This leads to gratification (assāda). Now, I tell you the faults of them (i.e., ādīnava — dangers). To enjoy the sensual pleasure you have to work for money in many ways (even in dangerous and harmful ways). If you don’t get the money mental sufferings come in. And if you get the money you have to worry about them. There are also many family problems.

(In this talk Sayadaw also mentioned about the coup of military general Ne Win happened in March 1962 very recently. It was also about the gratifications of sensual pleasure by Ne Win. The coup was followed by a lot of sufferings until to this day. When it will end? These are the ādīnavas of sensual pleasure. There are many more to say about them in human society and everyday life up to international levels. For the contemplation we should read the original sutta which is excellent. Sayadaw also predicted the future economics of Burma and reminded his disciples to concentrate on the practice.)

The way to escape (nissaraṇa) from sensual pleasure is to give up them and follow the noble eight fold path. To contemplate and observe sensual pleasure as anicca, dukkha and anatta.

(In the second talk Sayadaw mentioned in the beginning a very important point). He said one of the reasons human not understand dukkha, the faults and dangers of sensual pleasure, is traditional belief, idea and custom, for example, that a man must has wife and vice versa. Mahānāma the Buddha’s cousin asked him why at times the states of greed, hate and delusion invading his mind and remaining there (This incident was in the Cūḷadukkhakkhandha Sutta, Sutta No. 14, Majjhima N., MN 14) The Buddha told him as he was a once-returner (sakadāgāmī) but he did not know how to transcend lobha and dosa which he still had them (as a once-returner he was only reducing of them). The Buddha said; “If you become non-returner would not stay at home. You are still attached to the sensual pleasure. If you realize the more higher stages will know the dangers with its faults and displeasure about them.” Five cords of sensual pleasure have little pleasure with a lot of Dukkha (This point is very important. With a lot of contemplation in daily life of experiences discern the dangers and its heavy burden profoundly).

The Buddha taught him how to contemplate on sensual pleasure. He gave the similes. (These are not in the sutta) Sensual pleasure was like a burning torch of grass, if a person continued to hold on to it, it would burn his hand. So he had to let it go. It was also like a bone smeared with blood, if a dog continued to bite the blood-smeared bone with clinging, it would become tired and never fulfilled its hunger. Contemplate the khandhas as a murderer (vadhaka) for the higher stage (as in Yamaka Sutta, SN22.85).

The Buddha taught about the faults of the five cords of sensual pleasure (kāmaguṇa), the faults of material form and the faults of feeling. We also teach about these things. What are the differences between us? (These points were made by the outsiders). We have to know about the true nature of kāmaguṇa, its faults and dangers and the escape from them. Because of the five cords of sensual pleasure affection comes to be, such as husband to wife, wife to husband, to children, etc. You have to work and feed them whether it’s hot or raining. (These two sermons were addressed to the couple U Chit Swe and Daw Ma Ma.) These are the causes of sukha and somanassa (happiness and joy). And then faults and dangers follow it behind them. Assāda (gratifications) become ādīnava (dangers) (Sayadaw talked about difficulties in everyday life for living.) You can’t abandon happiness and joy that encounter with faults and dangers.

(We have to be very clear about it that these Sukha and somanassa are not real happiness — low and ignoble which are like the honey on the tip of a razor blade that most people like it. See the whole mass of sufferings in today’s world).

There are Dukkhas coming for searching of it. When you can’t get them follow by mental sufferings. If you get money by searching have to worry and concern for its safety. Before you’re tired by searching after attain it become worry for it.

[We have to contemplate all these kinds of sufferings created by humans as described in the Mahānidāna sutta (DN 15), Mahādukkhakkhandha Sutta (MN 13) and other suttas.]

These dhammas can’t be known by diṭṭhi-people (outsiders and other faith followers), Sakka (King of the 33 Gods realm) and Brahmas (jhānic gods). Only I (Buddha) and my disciples can know about them. All these sufferings are not having property and having property and not including any real happiness (the happiness of a dog with a dry bone). You can also die by searching for them. Even if you get them, you can end up killed by people who take them from by force (e.g., robbers, by governments, etc). I am not talking about the sufferings that come from the khandha yet. Now, these are the sufferings created by oneself (not by God). The Dukkha of the Khandha is the suffering caused by past lives' stupidity and foolishness. Instead of abandoning these sufferings even you’re making prayers (with merits) for them which you worry about for the future not to get it again. Until you abandon the kāmaguṇa, you can never be happy. The sufferings made by yourself are not related to kamma. They arise from the objects of kāmaguṇa.

Were these sufferings caused by Ne Win? Or by kāmaguṇa? (Recently general Ne Win made a coup). Ne Win took power by force, driven by his own kāmaguṇa. People who suffered from it becoming displeasure (i.e., U Nu’s government). So, the Buddha said we don’t understand Dukkha! (Some westerners think that they understand about Dukkha — i.e., philosophers). You only attain Nibbāna by thoroughly understanding Dukkha. If you never practise (not prepared) and ready for Dukkha, it will continue. You have to contemplate the impermanence (anicca) of your five kāmaguṇa.

If traditional matters obscure people and dukkha sacca disappears, human customs cover up Dukkha. Therefore humans have long sufferings. All these customs are made by themselves, and not by wise men. (Sayadaw talked about Mahānāma) Stream enterer and once-returner abandon the coarser lobha, dosa and moha defilements, but they can’t yet abandon the lobha related to kāmaguṇa. These cords of sensual pleasure offer little joy and happiness with more sufferings. (Sayadaw provided some examples of the faults and dangers of kāmaguṇa.) Between diṭṭhi (views) and taṇhā (craving), craving is tougher than diṭṭhi because of its refinement.

As an example, it was like difficult to shave the delicate hairs of a baby. With more kilesa refinement, the path factors must be sharper. If you want to kill taṇhā, you have to contemplate to know about its loathsomeness or ugliness. If you see it as beautiful, you will get caught up with it. (Continued to talk about the five khandhas and contemplate them as murderers.) If you know them as murderers and will not want to associate with it. The monk Yamaka and Mahānāma were taught in this way. (The monk Yamaka was taught by Sāriputta).

revised on 2024-07-09

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