The Great Fault of Heedlessness

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 15th August 1962

You have to follow it with sacca ñāṇa – knowledge of truth, but not with complaints about it. (The Dhamma hall is packed with people and also in the hot, humid climate of Central Burma. So, Sayadaw reminds people how to react to the situation). If you recognize the khandha as dukkha sacca, sacca ñāṇa arises. Displeasure (domanassa) will follow if you complain about the khandha dukkha. The ears listen to Dhamma and let the mind stay with the khandha (ñāṇa observing the khandha). With a lot of observing, ñāṇa becomes sharp. If you penetrate the khandha as dukkha sacca, the path knowledge arises with dukkha nirodha – the cessation of dukkha (This is how people listen to Dhamma talks with the practice). This is Nibbāna.

(Sayadaw continues to talk about the Divine Messengers – Devadūta Sutta, Majjhima N. MN 130) Avijjā paccaya saṅkhāra – ignorance conditions action is heedlessness. Therefore, hellish consciousness (viññāṇa) arises. The hell being arrives in front of King Yama (the Guardian of Hell realm). [King Yama questions the newly arrived hell being about the five divine messengers. The hell being can't give satisfactory answers during cross-questioning by Yama. Therefore, he has to suffer in hell according to his actions.] Heedlessness is a great fault. So, you have to practice vipassanā very quickly. Every time you see these five factors (divine messengers) – i.e., a baby, old man, sick man, dying man, and a criminal punished by authority for his crime (for the severe punishments see the Bālapaṇḍita Sutta – Fools and Wise Men, Majjhima N. MN 129) perform vipassanā practice to achieve avijjā nirodha saṅkhāra nirodho - with the cessation of ignorance, action ceases. Sayadaw continues to give instruction on cittānupassanā (Sayadaw’s favorite contemplation). Except for this task (the noble eightfold path), no other tasks, works, or jobs can free one from hells (and also becoming animals, ghosts, etc.).

[Some politicians and businessmen crave political power and wealth, and after they achieve it, their minds become more defiled, more greedy, and more conceited, leading to downward directions.]

Whatever dukkha is given to you is from the khandha. You have to remember that it's not caused by others; it's only the khandha that gives you dukkha. Many kinds of dukkha exist in the khandha, and not elsewhere. With the existing object and the observing mind fitting together, path factors have to arise, and if they do not fit together, magga sacca does not arise. If you know the arising, you will know the vanishing. Why is this? If you light the wick and light arises, the fire also consumes the wick (i.e., light arises and vanishes). Seeing the light arise is dukkha, and not seeing the light vanish is dukkha.

Note on King Yama

Most God-centered religions also mention hell. Some western scholars do not interpret it literally as mentioned in the suttas and have their own interpretations. The Pāli word for hell is niraya – devoid of any happiness and pleasure. So most human beings don’t like it. Even though they don’t like it and can’t accept it, most of their defilements and actions lead to that direction. Dr. Nandamalarbhivamsa’s talk on the Desire of King Yama mentions that when he was young he read a Burmese book called – The Buddha Doctrine does not accept 31 realms of existence. The Ven. said it was not the Buddha but he himself who did not accept it. In the same way, some western scholars interpret some of the Buddha’s teachings as mythology, mental factors of psychology, etc. because it’s out of their knowledge and experiences. There are many things in nature humans can’t know directly with their defiled minds or with the six senses of the door.

The Buddha dhamma is not a blind faith to come and believe in. Everyone can prove it with practice but it is not easy to achieve with ordinary effort and faith. With the Kanni meditation system, some yogis could experience some realms – such as the Tāvatiṃsa Heaven, rūpa-brahma realm, and nāga realm to pay respect to some of the Buddha’s relics there. In Tāvatiṃsa Heaven is the Cūḷāmaṇi Cetiya, enshrined with the bodhisatta’s hair and one of the eye teeth, in the Brahma Realm is the Dussa Cetiya enshrined with the bodhisatta’s clothes and shoes, and in the Nāga Realm of Bhogavatī, King of the Nāga enshrined one of the Buddha’s eye teeth with red, green, golden, pearl, and clear crystal-colored relics. The existence of the Buddha’s sarīras also was mentioned in the commentary of “The Last days of the Buddha”. The yogis’ experiences of the Buddha’s relics in these places are also met with the commentary.

There are two books recording yogis’ experiences with the light nimitta but no mention of hell (niraya). Because Mye-zin Sayadaw did not allow them to see everything, only allowing them to see the cetiyas and the Buddha’s relics to inspire their minds on the Buddha dhamma.

The 31 realms of existence and the law of kamma cannot be separated. Rejecting one is also rejecting the other.

King Yama is a vemānika-peta – a type of being with mixed kamma (white and black); he spends part of his time enjoying deva-like pleasure and part of it in peta-like suffering. His duty as the lord of niraya is not like a judge. He is a good compassionate being who helps the hell beings to remember their goodness of the past by asking cross-questions for them. If they remember, it frees them from the niraya for a good rebirth – destination.

King Yama himself experiences strong saṁvega upon seeing the sufferings of hell beings. Thus, he has a desire and wishes for a human birth, to meet a Buddha, listen to Dhamma, and practice to end dukkha.

What are the differences between someone who believes in the law of kamma and 31 realms of existence and someone who doesn’t? There are many benefits and faults between them. The one who believes leads to happiness and well-being in this life and beyond, and also can solve many human-made problems and difficulties. They will not pray to or depend on outside powers (Creator, gods, etc). He becomes more intelligent and wise. The disbelievers are in the opposite direction – i.e., like east and west, or light and darkness.

Humans who don’t understand and appreciate Dukkha and its causes will never solve their own or others' problems. They’ll always be creating them. Therefore, Dhamma Education is a compulsory education for all humans. There are many suttas on dukkha, and I want to suggest a sutta for reflection, i.e., the Greater Discourse on the Mass of Suffering – Mahādukkha khandha sutta, Majjhima N. MN 13.

revised on 2024-07-09

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