The Essence of the Buddha Sāsana

revised on 2024-07-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 21st September 1961

The Buddha would select what kind of Dhamma is the essence of his sāsana. The first person seeking heartwood came to a great tree, standing and possessed of heartwood. He would cut off its twigs and leaves and take them away, thinking of it as heartwood. The second person cut off its outer bark, thinking it was heartwood. The third person cut off its inner bark. The fourth person cut off its sapwood, thinking it was heartwood. The fifth person cut off its heartwood and took it away. (based on the discourse on the Simile of the Heartwood (Majjhima Nikāya) The Buddha will be glad only if we can find the essence of Dhamma which cannot be destroyed. We have to think about, by using the five similes, what kinds of Dhamma we are doing within the sāsana?

If you are listening to Dhamma talks only for merits, it is like the first person taking twigs and leaves. This refers to all works for good destination (good rebirth).

Path knowledge are unbroken and imperishable Dhamma. These are the real essence – the heartwood. Sīla leads to long life and gives the result of being free from dangers. In the sāsana, there are people who only have contentment with sīla (even these people are not many; see the chaos and problems in societies up to the international level). Some practise Samatha and gain some psychic phenomena, but they are content with it. The Buddha did not praise them. Some practise Samatha and gain jhānic abhiñña. At the time of the near doomsday, everyone attains jhānas and is able to fly in the air and dive into the earth. The fifth person is like those who practise the noble eight-fold path and realise magga and phala. They are people practising to attain the nine supramundane dhammas : four path knowledges, four fruits, and NIBBĀNA. The other practices with results can be destroyed by kammas and can lead to apāyas (i.e., they are uncertain because of the complicated working of kamma). These are broken because they have no essence in them. I’m not finding faults with them. In looking for the essence of Dhamma, these are not the ESSENCE, so I have to say this.

If you want to look for the essence of Dhamma, you must start from vipassanā. If you still don’t have the path and fruit knowledge, you have to note that "I still don’t have the essence of Dhamma yet." Then your practice can be broken, perish, and disappear (this is one of the reasons we’re still in saṁsāra). It’s quite stable if you attain the first path. It only has seven lives to go (at most, this depends on the person). Even an arahant was fried with oil by a king’s order. He didn’t have defilements, but he still had to suffer because of the khandha that existed. (I have no knowledge about this story).

Another example is Mahā-moggallāna (a well -known incident to most Buddhists ). He was beaten by bandits.

If you are still satisfied with the first path, then you still want to be beaten (like Mahā-moggallāna). You still want to die in a serious way. The dangers of the khandha are very bad indeed. Some Buddhists want to be like Visākhā (female boss) and Sakka, king of gods (as sotāpanna who enjoy sensual pleasures) because they think they are free from the apāyas. This shows people still can’t see the dangers and faults of the burdened khandhas. There’s no danger and fault greater than the khandhas (warned by the Buddha also).

If you attain the first path, it’s better to climb upward.

revised on 2024-07-10

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