The Poisonous Tree

revised on 2024-07-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 5th July 1960

This body (khandha) is like a useless tree. In this case, what are you doing with it? It has diseases and is like a tree bearing poisonous fruits. You have to cut it down with three swords. These are the swords of samādhi, vipassanā, and magga. Therefore, the Buddha taught about Samatha, vipassanā, and magga. Samādhi is the bark, vipassanā is the sapwood, and magga is the heartwood. Together, they can cut down the tree in stages. If you do not attain path knowledge, it’ll grow back again. Sati, viriya, and samādhi are Samatha. Samma-diṭṭhi and samma-saṅkappa are vipassanā. By combining them together, it becomes the five path factors. Contemplation is possible with Samatha and vipassanā together. For example, when the mind desires to eat something, with observation; Is it there or not there? You’ll find it is not there. If you find out its non-existence, it becomes the five path factors. Thus, it passes through the bark and cuts through the sapwood. Sati, viriya, and samādhi know the arising of phenomena. Samma-diṭṭhi and samma-saṅkappa know the vanishing of phenomena.

I am talking about it because it’s very important. Every time you know the arising is Samatha and know the vanishing is vipassanā. Initially, in contemplation, you find them sparsely; however, with more contemplation, you will find more. With samādhi and paññā becoming sharp, you only find the vanishing, which cuts through the sapwood, with only the heartwood left. Yuganaddha is the contemplation combining Samatha and vipassanā together.

Diṭṭhi and taṇhā are interconnected. Taṇhā is like the heartwood. (Sayadaw says a lot about taṇhā).

[The above talk of the poisonous tree with its analogy appears to me as follows. The poisonous tree is like the apple tree in the Garden of Eden. Adam represents ignorance, and Eve represents craving. After eating the poisonous apple, they suffered birth, ageing, sickness, death, and other diseases as punishment, which was like being oppressed by the khandha tree, the outcome of clinging to the action of "me and mine."]

revised on 2024-07-10

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