The Meaning of Saṁsāra


revised on 2024-06-10


Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 4th September 1962

Humans often think about long-saṁsāra in ordinary ways. In truth, it’s very great indeed. There is no ending of ageing, no ending of sickness, no ending of death, and no ending of falling into apāyas (as hell beings, animals, ghosts). No ending of all Dukkhas constitutes long-saṁsāra. Humans perceive it as the connection from this life to the next life (with the wrong view of a soul/ atta). It implies that everything bad continues indefinitely. Why does it happen like this? According to the Buddha, a worldling without knowledge of Dhamma will experience prolonged saṁsāra (i.e., as an asutavā-puthujjana). A worldling has many kilesa – defilements which are the root causes of saṁsāra (stemming from ignorance and craving – avijjā and taṇhā). Regarding sacca-dhamma, he lacks substantial learning (bahusacca) and is preoccupied with worldly matters.

With bigger responsibilities, more defilements arise.

(This is particularly true for the leaders of some superpowers and politicians, millionaires, and billionaires who create a problematic world on earth).

The khandha constantly exhibits its natural dukkha, but they are oblivious to it. They interpret dukkha merely as pains and aches. Does it speak to you from afar or up close? You lack ñāṇa ears and eyes that can hear and see what the khandha communicates and displays. (Thus, most worldlings are metaphorically blind, deaf, and dumb).

Therefore, their defilements are abundant.

(Their defilements are so hot and polluted that the Earth is becoming hotter and hotter, more and more polluted with more dangers and destruction appearing).

This is an unlearned worldling (asutavā-putthujjana) or ignorant and deluded worldling. You have caught the culprit now. You have done everything – i.e., jobs, works, tasks, or actions to miss the Nibbāna Happiness.

The main point as a human is to become a learned disciple of ariya (sutavā-ariyasāvaka) (At the end of the talk we’ll know what is meant as sutavā-ariyasāvako). Meeting with the Buddha is not the main point or a necessary factor. (Sayadaw gave examples of the renegade monk Devadatta and King Ajātasattu) They are near the Buddha and see him many times but both of them fall into hells.

In this life, you can realize Dhamma if you become a sutavā-ariyasāvako, knowing the truth (sacca) and with thin defilements. You’ll get it in the next life if you don’t realize it in this life. (Sayadaw gives a guarantee for a yogi who discerns anicca). In many lives before, you all had lived your lives as blind and deaf (i.e., with ignorance – avijjā, → see the beginning of D.A chart and it starts with avijjā) and then making actions – saṅkhāra. This is practicing Samudaya sacca. Therefore, you have an abundance of defilements.

Avijjā → saṅkhāra → asutavā phuthujjana, so you experience the second aspect of dukkha sacca. Knowing the way from which you have come is not good and also the place where you have arrived is not good as dukkha (i.e., sec. 1 and sec. 2). With this knowledge, you become a sutavā-ariyasāvako. If you succeed with the ending of anicca, you will become an ariyasāvaka.


revised on 2024-06-10


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

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