What Is in the Khandha?

revised on 2024-07-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 10th December 1960

It’s important to know what exists in one’s khandha. You all will say that the hair of the head, hair of the body, teeth, bones, etc. are there. It’s also not wrong because the Buddha also taught about asubha meditation. You have to continue to ask what is existing in these things. There is one thing that still exists in the 32 parts of the body. It’s important to know that the I/me enters in each one of them. Only then will sakkāya diṭṭhi fall away. If you have diṭṭhi, it will forbid Nibbāna. With the practice of the meditation on the 32 bodily parts of asubha, if the I and me still do not fall away, it means it's only Samatha. If you cannot strip off the I-ness, you won’t know about Nibbāna and can’t arrive there. It was mentioned clearly in the Majjhimāpaṇṇāsā. Diṭṭhi sticks with the clearly existing things. Head hair really exists. Diṭṭhi sticks to this place.

It also sticks to teeth and hair, such as my hair, my teeth, etc. The Buddha gave a simile to show how important it is to destroy sakkāya diṭṭhi. You have to destroy it first, even when your chest is pierced with a spear and your head hair is burning with fire. The reason behind this is quite clear : with spear and fire, you only die once. But with sakkāya diṭṭhi, you’ll continue to die many times to come, and the worst thing is you will be mostly in the realms of apāya as hell beings, animals, and ghosts. Therefore, the Buddha said you have to destroy diṭṭhi first.

Many Buddhas have been arisen as numerous as the sand grains in the Ganges River. It is quite certain that we have encountered some of them. Why are we still not free from Dukkha? Because we have always had one of the sassata and uccheda diṭṭhis with us until now, wandering saṁsāric by carrying heavy burdens (there are many) and continuing walking on the rough road of sickness. With diṭṭhi we don’t know the truth. Therefore, we are unable to strip off diṭṭhi. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Buddha mentioned that if having diṭṭhi, we cannot get the knowledge according to truth – saccanulomika ñāṇa. Wandering in saṁsāra is not due to little merits from dāna, sīla, and Samatha, but because diṭṭhi has not fallen off, so we have not attained Nibbāna.

(And then Sayadaw talked about Aggivaccha Brahmin. He asked 10 questions to the Buddha. The main points were two things: mind and body as loka and as person and being. All 10 of them were included in these two wrong views. Even though he was in the Buddha’s time, he did not know about suññatā, paññatti, and paramattha dhammas, which caused them to arise. The majority of Buddhists today are also in the same way.)

The importance of the last question was: “Ven. Sir, please tell me your view?” The answer was : “If you discern the arising and passing away of the five khandhas, this is right view.”

Q: What is the benefit of this view? Continuously seeing the arising of phenomena makes one free from the view of annihilationism, and continuously seeing the vanishing phenomena makes one free from the view of eternalism.

A: If you have this right view, taṇhā, māna, and diṭṭhi will cease. Saṁsāra will be cut off. This is the view that leads to Nibbāna.

Q: With taṇhā, māna, and diṭṭhi ceased, where does this person go after death? The brahmin asked with diṭṭhi again. Not understanding of dependent co-arising leads to diṭṭhi, and one does not understand Nibbāna and does not appreciate it.

revised on 2024-07-10

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