On Ways of Undertaking Things

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 19th April 1962

[Sayadaw based this talk on the sutta of Majjhima N., Mahādhamma-samādāna Sutta, MN 46. I have never heard of other monks referred to this sutta except from Sayadaw. There is also a counterpart sutta in the same Nikāya – Sevitabbāsevitabba Sutta – To Be Cultivated and Not to Be Cultivated, MN 114. This discourse is somewhat well known and also taught by others. MN 46 is related to the ten unwholesome and ten wholesome dhammas; it describes how the ignorant and wise persons relate to them. The Buddha mentioned four ways of undertaking things by the ignorant and the wise, and then compared them with similes.

It seems to me that these two suttas are very important for today's human societies because there are a lot of problems and sufferings in today's world where there are a lot of internal and external pollutions going on and on. Only Buddha dhamma can help and save human beings from problems, sufferings and destruction which are going on in many kinds of sectors. No other views, philosophies and doctrines can do it. We can even see the entire Buddha Dhamma in these two suttas for undertaking and to be cultivated. The first sutta is very basic for human beings to have a happy and peaceful life here and now and for the future to come.

Sayadaw’s talk was not mentioned in details, which are in the Sutta. He only takes some of the points and helps people remember the important points.]

People want happiness of body and mind but they don’t get it. What is the reason for that? It comes from wrong association. What they need is one thing and what they encounter is another thing. They are consorting with people who should not be consorted. They cultivate and follow things which should not be cultivated and followed. There are four kinds of person related to it. These are:

  1. Someone who is painful in body and mind; speaks falsehoods and has wrong views (In the sutta it is mentioned – a person who does things which are painful in the present and for the future to come; in the sutta mentioned ten unwholesome dhammas. Here Sayadaw spoke only about falsehoods and wrong views.)
  2. Someone who is pleasant in body and mind; speaks falsehoods and has wrong views.
  3. Someone who is painful in body and mind; abstains from falsehoods and holds the right view.
  4. Someone who is pleasant in body and mind; abstains from falsehoods and holds the right view.

The first person is for his benefit, with painful body and mind, doing unwholesomeness by using falsehood and holding wrong view. In the present, he is in pain and after death, falls into apāyas. For example – someone is poor and uses falsehood for his benefit.

The second person is, at present, a well-to-do man (not poor) and in the future of saṁsāra, will be in pain. He has property because he is greedy for wealth and uses an unwholesome way to acquire it.

The third person is, even though poor at present, in saṁsāra will be happy because he is making merits and practicing Dhamma. You all have to try hard to become the third and fourth persons. The first person is the most terrible man. The first and second persons are doing and following the wrong ways. The third and fourth persons are following the right way.

The first and second persons have wrong associations and are undertaking wrong actions; the 3rd and 4th persons are following the right ways. If no one teaches us, we wouldn’t even know which numbers we fall under.

According to the Buddha, the four differences are moha (delusion) and paññā (wisdom). It means not knowing and knowing about things or the cause of ignorance (avijjā) and knowledge (vijjā). If it becomes vijjā, sīla also becomes secure (if practising vipassanā). (Sayadaw taught cittānupassanā to people). You have to stay with the contemplating knowledge of anicca, and it’ll become the right association. You’ll have mind and body happiness in this present life and saṁsāra.

[note: In the original sutta, the Buddha did not mention the background status of the four persons who are undertaking things which are wrong and right. But Mogok Sayadaw mentioned these points, which are whether they are poor or not well-to-do and well-to-do people. Even among rich people, some are power mongers and wealth mongers. Their stupid and foolish actions have great consequences for human societies, environments, and nature. We can see all the internal and external problems in today's world.]

revised on 2024-07-09

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