Using the Sense Doors Wisely

revised on 2024-06-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 7th to 8th May 1962

[These two interesting talks were based on the last sutta of the Majjhima Nikāya, the Indriyabhāvanā Sutta, No. 152, MN152 – the Development of the Faculties. Sayadaw's talks from his last year had heavy tones, reminding us of the dangers of defilement and its consequences in the rounds of Saṁsāra and painful rebirths. They instill a strong sense of saṁvega and dispassion towards the world.]

(In the beginning, Sayadaw emphasized the importance of intellectual understanding of the D.A process for dāna, sīla, and bhāvanā). Otherwise, you’re merely exchanging big Dukkha for smaller ones. It is better to shun away from any dukkha entirely. If you don’t know how to open your eyes, and with the opened eyes, it is quite frightening. For example, with seeing comes wanting, clinging, etc. (it becomes birth — jāti). Birth is the truth of dukkha. With the opening of eyes comes Dukkha. It’s the same way with the ears. Hearing a sound, dosa, and soka, parideva can follow. The most important thing is always having Sati, and it's quite important to contemplate with anicca whatever arises from the six sense doors. From the door of the eyes, each day there are uncountable dhammas leading to apāyas (the same with other doors). Understanding the D.A process makes it quite frightening to wander in saṁsāra and endure a long saṁsāra. (Humans seldom recognize that craving for existence is very dangerous and terrifying. Even some monks postulate new ideas and doctrines for becoming).

Compared to your merits, it is incomparable. Arriving at apāyas is not about breaking sīla, but breaking bhāvanā (developing the mind). [Sayadaw gave the example of consuming foods. He emphasized that if we do not break bhāvanā, everything will be OK.]

When your body itches and becomes unbearable with dosa, scratching it with taṇhā brings temporary pleasure, and then taṇhā arises again. (In this talk, Sayadaw was discussing feelings arising from the sense doors) I am worried about you until everything becomes clear today. The Buddha also teaches us the ways of thinking in Saccasaṁyutta. He says: "Don’t think with thoughts of sensuality (kāma), ill-will (vyāpāda), and harming (vihiṁsā). If you want to think, consider this: 'This is dukkha sacca, this is samudaya sacca, etc.'" Only think about these truths. Thinking about children and business can lead you to apāyas.

What is arising now? And what is vanishing now? This is thinking with truths. With this kind of thinking, the path factors (the five maggaṅga) arise and cut off the D.A process. This is the development of the path factors — bhāvetabba. Even the Buddha has taught us good thoughts. It appears to us as – He is the Great Compassionate One. Every time a thought arises in the khandha body, think with the following ñāṇa: – "What is it?" You’ll only find dukkha sacca, but don’t add anything extra to it. Even if taṇhā samudaya sacca arises and passes away, it becomes dukkha sacca again. The cutting off of the D.A process leads to Nibbāna.

Today's talk is about how the Buddha taught to use the six sense faculties. Normally, we make mistakes regarding them (misusing them and defiling the mind). (The story in the sutta was told) For example, a mental feeling of gladness (somanassa vedanā) arises upon seeing a gemstone (the audience were gem business people). This vedanā arises with the conditioning of the sight and the eyes. At that moment, with quick attention to its inconstant nature (anicca dhamma), the arising of a resultant dhamma (paṭiccasamuppanna dhamma) by conditioning phenomena (saṅkhata dhamma) occurs. With attention, the vedanā is no longer there. The D.A process can’t continue (vedanā does not connect to taṇhā). Therefore, contemplate all arising dhammas as saṅkhata dhamma or paṭiccasamuppanna dhamma, or as arising and vanishing (anicca). In the Buddha's teachings, it involves the sounds of letters and text (more detailed as teaching, simpler as practice). It also works if you contemplate it as anicca. Other kinds of feeling should be contemplated in the same way.

Then, with the opening of the eyes, the D.A process cuts off. (Here we can see the importance of Dhamma education. In the world of conditions, there are positive and negative dhammas, and their results are also positive and negative. How humans use their knowledge is the most important thing in the world. This is crucial not only for the peace and happiness of humans but also for human survival and nature. The most dangerous entity in the 21st century is weapons of mass destruction, which are piling up in the hands of superpowers). If you can contemplate the three kinds of arising feelings (sukha, dukkha, and upekkhā) and let lobha, dosa, and moha die with the D.A process cutting off in the beginning, middle, and the end, with the arising of the path knowledge, you attain Nibbāna. With the skill of opening the eyes, you lead to Nibbāna.

Everyone is able to open their eyes in accordance with parental traditions. But those not able to open them according to the Dhamma ways will find that one of the lobha, dosa, or moha will arise. This inclines toward apāyas. Therefore, the Buddha says: "In a hundred thousand humans who die, not even one of them arrives at a good (sugati) destination." From the six senses of doors, humans always establish the six cauldrons in hells (Human greediness is even evident in hells. We have a lot of copyrights here, but for cauldrons, there is no copyright). So, don’t live a heedless life.

If a greedy mind arises, contemplate it as saṅkhata dhamma, the coarse dhamma, and the result of dependent arising dhamma. Quickly contemplate as – anicca dhamma, dukkha dhamma, and anatta dhamma. With every contemplation, the D.A process can’t continue. It's cut off by the thought. Don’t adhere strictly to the letter (the text). Every time something arises, just contemplate it as arising and vanishing. This becomes vipassanupekkhā ñāṇa. With a lot of contemplation, it develops into saṅkhāra-upekkhā ñāṇa – knowledge of equanimity towards formations. (Sayadaw gave some examples of the practice from the six sense doors). If you contemplate in this way, the sense faculties are secure. Whatever arises—seeing, hearing, etc.—must be contemplated (i.e., consciousness arises from the six sense doors). Lobha, dosa, moha minds arise in the heart, so contemplate them there. (Yesterday Sayadaw taught vedanānupassanā; today, cittānupassanā).

revised on 2024-06-10

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

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