The Buddha’s View / Human’s Fires

revised on 2024-07-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th December 1960

Today, I’ll explain clearly about Nibbāna. You’ll appreciate Nibbāna as diṭṭhi falls away. Someone with a wrong view can’t arrive at Nibbāna, nor can he like it. (This talk is based on the Aggivachagotta Sutta, Majjhima Nikāya, MN 72, where Sayadaw continues on the questions to the Buddha by the wanderer Vacchagotta.) The Buddha answers Vacchagotta as – “the arising and vanishing of the five khandhas (mind and body) is my view.” Contemplation of anicca is derived from here (it is mentioned in many places in the suttas). This view leads to the cessation of taṇhā, māna, and diṭṭhi. The Buddha’s view and doctrine is that only anicca exists and the contemplation of anicca is crucial. Rūpa, vedanā, saññā, etc., are only sign boards (i.e., names only). The real existence is the existence of rising and vanishing. With the contemplation of anicca, all clingings cease. If taṇhā, māna, diṭṭhi cease, all the clingings following behind them also cease. With the cessation of clinging in the person and where he has gone (i.e., after death).

With the cessation of clingings, kamma (actions) ceases, with kamma ceasing, births cease. With the cessation of births, one arrives at Nibbāna, nowhere to go (& no coming or going). Vacchagotta did not appreciate the falling away of Diṭṭhi, so there was no appreciation of Nibbāna, hence his questioning of where the person has gone. Therefore, as I mentioned at the beginning, only when diṭṭhi has fallen away can one truly appreciate Nibbāna.

If not, it’s only the appreciation of lip service Nibbāna! It cannot be the appreciation of True Nibbāna. (Here, the wanderer Vacchagotta shows no appreciation or understanding of Nibbāna. Perhaps his spiritual faculties are not mature yet. After the second meeting with the Buddha and asking questions again, he eventually becomes a monk and, through practice, becomes an arahant with the six supernatural powers. Sayadaw continues to explain the four questions put to the Buddha).

If you do not have any appreciation for Nibbāna, you will never practice. Even with practice, Diṭṭhi will resist. And with the resistance of Diṭṭhi, you will never attain Nibbāna. Therefore, talking about Nibbāna is not easy. (Most Buddhists are wrong viewers, and the majority prefer the coming and going in saṁsāra.) If you want to appreciate Nibbāna, look for a teacher who can teach you to understand Dependent Co-arising. In reality, the answer will be that someone with the cessation of his craving and clinging does not go anywhere. But with this answer, Vacchagotta will take the view of uccheda. According to the D.A process, with the cessation of taṇhā, upādāna, and kamma, birth (jāti) ceases. There is no birth, and not going anywhere is true. Or with the cessation of Dukkha, the arrival at the cessation of Dukkha is also true.

(Actually, with the understanding of D.A process, the nature of Nibbāna is becoming clear.)

Without paṭiccasamuppāda, there is no inclusion of Truth (sacca). With the cessation of samudaya comes nirodha – the cessation of dukkha. With the cessation of the cause (i.e., samudaya/craving) the result of dukkha ceases (i.e., the five khandhas), which is Nibbāna. This leads to the appreciation of Nibbāna. It’s quite a valuable Dhamma. (refer to Aggivacchagotta Sutta). Only with the understanding of D.A and truths (sacca) can one appreciate Nibbāna. And only with this understanding does diṭṭhi fall off. With the contemplation of anicca and taṇhā, upādāna ceases. With the cessation of taṇhā and upādāna, Nibbāna will appear.

Buddhavāda → Contemplation of anicca (five khandhas) → the cessation of taṇhā, upādāna → the cessation of dukkha (nibbāna).

(Sayadaw continues to talk about Nibbāna using the simile of Fire)

If you’re praying for a human existence, you have to be burnt with human Fire (more Fires than other beings). If you’re praying for devatas, you have to be burnt with devata Fire (less Fire than humans). There are many kinds of Fire and Fuel –

Note: Human beings have more diverse kinds of Fire than other beings. Therefore, the Buddha has to appear on Earth, and he can deliver many suttas for misguided men. The human realm is the best place to study defilements and to cultivate goodness. Only humans, who understand Dukkha, will develop goodness and wisdom.

Eleven kinds of Fire are Fires (see the 11 kinds of fire in the First Discourse of Dukkha with the kilesa Fires of humans, there are a lot to be mentioned. With the material developments of science and technology, human’s Fires have become more developed and complicated.) Human khandhas and Fuels cannot be separated, and they are burning all the time (similar to the fire ghosts that Mahāmoggallāna encountered at Mt. Gijjhakūta). Therefore, where Khandha exists, Fires also exist. Thus, Nibbāna is the extinction of Fires and Fuels.

With continuous contemplating, the khandha disappears—i.e., at the ending of aniccas, and no khandhas exist (objects of khandha disappeared). This means no Fuels and Fires exist. Therefore, for a contemplating person (yogi), seeing the Dhamma by himself. Nibbāna is sandiṭṭhiko—SEEING BY ONESELF, free from kilesa vaṭṭa and vipāka vaṭṭa (i.e., taṇhā, upādāna of sec. three and jāti of sec. 4). This signifies that the D.A process is cut off. With the cessation of the cause of paṭiccasamuppāda, the result is Nibbāna (sec. three and sec. 4). This is marked by the cessation of the three samudaya sacca and the five khandhas of dukkha sacca (sec. three and sec. 4).

If knowing only the arising phenomena is knowing Dukkha, and knowing the cessation is knowing Nirodha. Only when the preceding phenomena become Nirodha and Magga will the following Samudaya and Dukkha cease. The true practice involves Dukkha and Magga—khandha anicca and vipassanā magga. At the end, Nirodha and Magga emerge, with Fuels and Fires becoming extinct.

Human’s Fires and External Fires

Humans’ fires can be counted as internal fires. Humans’ problems and sufferings depend on two causes: internal and external. The main cause is the internal one. If we can solve the internal issues, the external ones are also resolved. In today's 21st-century world, the Earth is more like a hell realm than ever before, due to the pollutions of the mind and many kinds of external pollution. There are a lot of wars going on, harming and killing each other like the hell scene – violent and bloody. The earth is so polluted that harmful, dangerous, and severe climate changes occur. Sometimes the weather is extremely hot and cold, i.e., nearly close to 50 °C and −50 °C, quite similar to the hot hell – Lohakumbī Niraya and cold hell – Lokantara Niraya. Summer times are becoming hotter and hotter, just as winter times are becoming colder and colder. Sometimes, both of them alternate in one season – sometimes hot and then cold, then hot again. The four seasons are becoming abnormal.

At the end of the Cariya Piṭaka, there are three gāthās that mention three dangers identified by all Buddhas. These are the dangers of laziness/indolence, dispute (vivāda), and heedlessness. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya of the Book of the Twos, there is a sutta about dispute (vivāda). (AN.2.38)

A brahmin named Ārāmadaṇḍa asked Mahākaccāna, “Why do khattiyas fight with khattiyas, brahmins with brahmins, and householders with householders?” This question identifies two groups of people – worldly people and religious people.

Mahākaccāna gave two answers for these groups: (The two causes for their conflicts and disputes are: -)

  1. For all worldly people, the cause of their disputes and conflicts is due to adherence to lust for sensual pleasures, with bondage to fixation on, obsession by, and holding firmly to these pleasures.
  2. For religious people, it is because of adherence to lust for views, bondage to, fixation on, obsession by, and holding firmly to these views.

There is also a very important sutta for human beings in the Dīgha Nikāya, the Sakkapañha Sutta, DN.21. Sakka, ruler of the gods, posed his first question to the Buddha. The question was – "Why do human beings (or other beings) wish to live with no hate, harming one another, hostile and malign, but in peace and happiness, they yet live in hate, harming on another, hostile and malign?"

The Buddha’s answer was – "It’s the bonds of jealousy and avarice (issā-macchariya). These are still related to the lust for sensual pleasures. This also leads to disputes and conflicts."

Nowadays, these problems and sufferings are increasing in the 21st century from family levels to international levels. Humans are becoming more like fire ghosts and hell beings. Their future lives are likely to continue in this direction with more dukkha. Only the Buddha’s Education can help and save human beings.

revised on 2024-07-09

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