No Free Times is Bhāvanā

revised on 2024-06-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 1st September 1962

There are three stages of the practice – understanding, practice (development), and abandoning. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Buddha teaches the three pariññā – three kinds of full understanding: ñāta-pariññā, tīraṇa-pariññā, and pahāna-pariññā (full understanding of the known, by scrutinization, and by abandoning). (Sayadaw talks about Ven. Anurādha) If you don’t have a clear answer, then you harbor diṭṭhi. A being (satta) does not exist in such a way that if someone asks you about a being (satta), there is no answer for this question. You must understand this point. In the cause and effect dhamma, there is no being (satta), only dhamma niyāma – the law of phenomena (nature) that connects (i.e., see. I to Sec. 4, D.A process). Your duty is to recognize them as arising phenomena and vanishing phenomena. Knowledge (ñāṇa) will develop by itself. Vipassanā is only possible with no desire for the 31 realms of existence. It’s quite different from dāna, sīla, and Samatha practice. You only attain it with no taṇhā. Taṇhā must be extinguished with the vipassanā path.

No free time is bhāvanā (mind development). Bhāvetabba means you don’t have free time (i.e., contemplating so often that the yogi has no free time for worldly matters. Someone is complaining that there is no object to contemplate. So, Sayadaw mentions these words. This point is very important; if a yogi has free time, it means that he doesn’t practice seriously.) If you don’t have guest minds for contemplation, then contemplate the host minds (these are the minds of wanting to breathe in and out. All other minds are guest minds because they arise only sometimes, but the breathing mind is always there like a host).

If you have free time, then Section two connects to Section three, and if you don’t have free time, then Section two does not connect to Section three (because the yogi is too busy with his contemplation). With the development (bhāvetabba), taṇhā, upādāna, and kamma cease. It exists only as dukkha sacca and the cessation of dukkha sacca. There is no person or being (Ven. Anurādha’s answer to the Buddha with his realization).

(The last saying has two points of interpretation. This is for a blind worldling and a learned disciple of a noble being or a yogi. A blind worldling, who doesn’t know the arising dukkha and the cessation of dukkha, ends up collecting more rubbish and debts, i.e., dukkhas. It was like the some government’s policy of indulging in more debts they can never repay, leading to only increasing suffering. A learned disciple or yogi is quite different; he understands the arising and vanishing dukkhas such that his kammic debts will become less and less and eventually totally disappear.)

Notes on No Free Times

Sayadawji gave a talk on 4th February 1961 which I translated as – "No Free Time is for Suffering," at the beginning of Part 11. Here again, "No Free Times is Bhāvanā," the true meaning of no free time is very important for every human being on Earth. The wrong ways of no free time are for suffering, feeding the defilements with sensual pleasure and the mind becoming more and more defiled, leading to more suffering in this life and the futures to come.

The right or true ways of no free time are to end suffering, i.e., appamāda or sīla (with dāna), samādhi, and paññā. Therefore, we see the great differences between the two ways human beings use their time. The outcomes are like Heaven and Hell. Only with the Dhamma standard of measurement do we know the dangers and suffering of becoming – saṁsāra. The Khaggavisāṇa Sutta (the Rhinoceros Horn, Suttanipāta) mentions the 5th Pacceka–Buddha’s past life at the time of Buddha Kassapa to his last life as teaching us the dangers of saṁsāra. Even people who have perfections can go wrong. In the saṁsāra of becoming, there is no safe place. This is one of the reasons living beings frequently find homes in the four apāyas.

There are many Pāli words in the Burmese language. One of them is bhavana = bhava + na. 'Bhava' in Pāli means life, 'na' in Burmese means painful or lost. Thus, the Burmese word bhavana means a painful life. Mind development is bhāvanā in Pāli. Both are the same word but pronounced with different tones.

Therefore, human beings who use their precious life and time foolishly will have a painful life in the present and future to come (i.e., bhavana). This leaves no free time for practice and only leaves time for Diṭṭhi-taṇhā.

revised on 2024-06-10

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