The Owner of the Khandha

revised on 2024-07-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 22nd September 1961

In saṁsāra, we were born (jāti), lived (pavatti), and died (maraṇa) again and again. These cycles would be uncountable. We have to search for the culprit behind these things. In this way, we can free ourselves from this vaṭṭa-dukkha – rounds of suffering. At near death, craving makes arrangements of where to take birth. Action (kamma) is the house builder. The owner who orders to make the khandha house is craving. Craving is asking the builder of kamma where to build the khandha house. It’s quite sure that taṇhā is the main culprit. At the time he became Buddha, he made the exclamation to taṇhā: "Taṇhā, the builder, in the future you couldn’t build the khandha house for me." This does not include action in it, so kamma is not determined by it. The khandha house has the dangers of ageing, sickness, and death. According to the D.A process, no denial is possible because of kamma-vaṭṭa and vipāka-vaṭṭa which arises. But kamma has to build the khandha house in accordance with the preference of taṇhā (i.e., in accordance with the clinging of taṇhā and kamma, which throw it down there!)

If one is clinging to family members and possessions at near death, accordingly with the clinging, one will get the type of khandha (peta-khandha). Through examination, one has to be freed from kilesa-vaṭṭa. So it’s unnecessary to say to kamma that you have to leave! Therefore, the Buddha did not make kamma the cause of dukkha, but rather craving. With the cause of taṇhā-samudaya sacca, the result of khandha-dukkha sacca arises. It’s more true to say that it is because of taṇhā that one encounters serious dukkha rather than because of kamma. One can’t overcome taṇhā, so it has to happen. Only then do you have right view. In the ocean of saṁsāra, drifting living beings from this life to that life is taṇhā. Some people used to say "I have to suffer according to the arrangement of kamma." They’re wrong. Whatever dukkha arises, it is because of taṇhā, which also includes diṭṭhi. Diṭṭhi is the great taṇhā which makes beings suffer in the four apāyas. If you are unable to destroy taṇhā, you will be drifted away by it. Even if you don’t know from where you came, taṇhā is like water drifting you until you arrive at the human port (i.e., this life). Again encountering the sense objects of human life increases taṇhā.

Therefore, whatever of drifting and sinking (wholesome and unwholesome) is the power of taṇhā. Taṇhā is the drifter, and beings are graspers who grasp or cling to things blindly. From a past life, taṇhā like water drifted the being until it arrived at this life. After arriving here, what is he doing in this life? On either bank of the river, there are five trees growing at the edge. (in the Sutta, it mentions kusa grass, rushes, reeds, or trees) It’s unnecessary to say that the drifting person wants to climb on the bank. The five trees on the edge of the bank refer to the five khandhas.

They were eroded by river currents and the roots were exposed (i.e., unstable and related to the anicca nature). The branches are also inclining toward the water. The drifter tries to grasp them, but they fall on him.

Beings are regarding the five khandhas (form...consciousness) by grasping/clinging to them as if they are me and mine (Sayadaw gives examples for each one of them). Therefore, whatever life you are in, you are never having free time. The Buddha in this sutta described only one’s own khandhas. But you are including your family members and other khandhas as things to grasp. If there is no clinging, life will be boring for you. You have satisfaction only as a drifter and sinker. If it is like this, people can’t transfer merits to you. You are searching for these things as reliance. But the Buddha said these are for sinking. Therefore, except for Dhamma, don’t rely on anything. Now! You all are grasping blindly. With no insight knowledge, life will be this way. It’s important to observe them as impermanence (anicca). (this talk is based on the Nadī Sutta of Khandha saṃyutta, SN 22. 93).

You have to search for the shore of Nibbāna. Don’t search for grasping/clinging. With the cessation of clinging, tears will stop. You must shun away from the river -bank trees. Whatever khandha you’re asking for, it will be fallen off. Therefore, in saṁsāra, we have missed many Buddhas (with taṇhā-upādāna). With more grasping, there will be more falling. You’re grasping them to die again and again. Becoming a drifter is a little better (a bit more comfortable – i.e., merits). Isn't it too bad for a sinker? (i.e., demerits or unwholesome states). The Buddha is asking you to not grasp, cling, and pull with taṇhā, but to observe with paññā. You have to always observe them as unstable, impermanent. This lets taṇhā (kilesas) stop, and you can’t drift away (i.e., staying with anicca). And then you’ll arrive at the bank of maggaṅga. Before this, you’re seeing the falling off of anicca. Liberation from the drifting and sinking dhammas is only through insight practice.

Whatever dhamma you’re contemplating, it is important to discern anicca. In this way, taṇhā water dries up and it’s unable to drift you away. And then you’re liberated from the falling of khandha trees. This is the freedom from drifting and sinking dhammas.

revised on 2024-07-10

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