In Thae-inn Gu Sayadaw’s teachings, I don’t include his meditation instruction to yogis. So here I want to describe in gist from his many talks. We also will know why U Candima had difficulty in his own practice by following it. At the time when he was followsing the system had no knowledge about anything on Dhamma. Thae-inn Gu Sayadaw’s practice is not much different from Soon Loon Sayadaw’s practice because he used the book about him and the practice. One time a very senior and well known Taung Tha Sayadawgyi requested Soon Loon Sayadaw to write the practice of ānāpānasati for him in gist was as follows—
“Even though taṇhā could be cut off from the eye door etc. by watching, but with touching, knowing and sati by watching at the body door to cut off taṇhā is easy to develop the strong view of mind-body knowledge (nāma-rūpa ñāṇa). At the body door contact (phassa) arises; condition by contact and feeling arises (vedanā); from feeling not let it become craving (taṇhā), clinging (upādāna) and becoming (bhava) by cutting it off with mindfulness (sati)—i.e., at feeling. If cut off taṇhā in this way vedanā not become vedanā saññā instead it becomes vedanā paññā.”
This part of the instruction was in the letter. Soon Loon Sayadaw wrote it from the beginning of ānāpānasati up to path and fruition mind states. Thae-inn Gu Sayadaw did not have much education and knowledge. So his style of teaching is very simple and like a fixed formula. His voice and language had strength and energy, very direct and blunt.
In the case of ānāpānasati, for example, the mind must know the pressure of the incoming and outgoing air. Breathe naturally and following the nature of knowing. Near death, the four elements will kill you. There are 40 samatha objects. There are physical form (ārammaṇa kammaṭṭhāna), loathsomeness (asubha kammaṭṭhāna), form (rūpa kammaṭṭhāna), mind kammaṭṭhāna. Just know the in and out pressure (air). Don’t think anything. After a period of sitting contact with a hard floor (phassa →), vedanā arises. Mind and body of people are not the same, in the same way, their dhammas are different. From mind kammaṭṭhāna, form kammaṭṭhāna and ārammaṇa kammaṭṭhāna can become sotāpanna. In your past life, if you had practiced ārammaṇa kammaṭṭhāna before, physical objects will arise (in the mind)—such as red color, yellow color, forest and mountain, etc. These are arising by changing. Only if you can give the correct concept (paññatti) can you discern the paramatā.
So you must give the right concept. How to contemplate it? Contemplate form (rūpa) as changing nature. Don’t give the concepts of red, green, yellow, etc. If you do it and connect to vedanā, contemplate the nature of form as changing and dissolution. You can see each one of them is changing (i.e., not changing into something—each one arises and disappears). Don’t know them as—green, yellow, blue, etc.
In the past, if you had practiced an asubha object, asubha nimitta will arise. The acquired sign (parikamma nimitta) arises in the mind. If you practiced skeleton before, now skeleton will arise (Sayadaw also talked about other asubha nimittas). Don’t be afraid of it. These are your Dhamma inheritance of the past. Some people talked about them as concepts. They didn’t know the differences between concept and reality (paramatā). These are the results of past kammas.
If seeing asubha in this life, you will go to Nibbāna (i.e., can finish the practice like him). It kills taṇhā directly. Don’t let it disappear. Contemplate its nature. How does it appear? For example, the fresh body changes slowly stage by stage—becoming brown and black in color, flowing out with putrid blood and pus, the body becomes bloated, etc. Observe its nature. How does it change and dissolve? You will see its nature. Seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. are dhamma. You don’t need to argue about it.
Don’t be afraid of the putrid, bloated corpses which are upādānakkhandha of the mind. You’ll see the whole world as asubha (as in his own practice).
With nāma (mind) kammaṭṭhāna from the internal, the affliction of the four elements arise. The elements’ nature of earth, water, heat, air arise. If the earth element arises first, it’ll kill you (i.e., at death). When the earth element arises, the mind knows it as stiffness (i.e., concept). You have to change it as affliction of form (rūpa) and feeling (vedanā). Don’t know its nature of stiffness. Contemplate it as afflicted form and feeling, again feeling is nāma (mind).
And then know the nature of nāma. What is the task of nāma? Nāma nature is that it feels (experience) and dissolves. Don’t take it as stiffness and tenseness.
If you make it, vedanā connects taṇhā. You will be not free from apāya (woeful existences) if you take it as painful. Instead you have to know it as afflicted form and feeling. This is knowing the mind and form. Feeling is mind (nāma) dhamma. What is the natural characteristic of nāma? Its nature is feeling and dissolution.
In this way, know all the bodily sensation as the feeling of the mind, which feels and dissolves. All these continuous knowing of them come to the end (i.e., following the ending of feelings). This is nāma kammaṭṭhāna you have to put effort in one sitting to free from apāya. You contemplate with the five powers (bala) of faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom—saddhā, viriya, sati, samādhi and paññā. You must know these minds.
1.) Mind with faith: I’ll do what the teacher asks me, even if my bones and skin are worn out. If I die, then let me die. If I don’t die, then let me attain Dhamma. I’ll not get up from sitting. In this way will realize the four truths.
You’ll not attain it if you are groaning with pain and stop it. I am asking you for temporary dying exercise. You have to practice it to become habitual.
This is practicing for dying. If not a hundred thousand humans die, no-one becomes human again. Why is that? Because you’ll designate it as I (i.e., self). If someone dies by wriggling his body on bed, he will not become human again because of dying with the wrong view.
2.) Mind with effort: From the beginning of the world this mind goes out external and feels the objects, mostly to experience pleasant feelings. You have to put in the effort and not let the mind go out. This is mind effort. The Buddha only taught about the mind.
3.) Mind with sati: You must always keep sati in mind. If stiffness arises, don’t know it as stiffness. Know it as the afflicted form (rūpa) with vedanā. Vedanā is nāma dhamma. Because I am worried that you will know them as stiffness, tenseness, etc. Sati supports the mind so that it does not become an unwholesome mind (akusala citta) but a wholesome mind (kusala citta).
4.) Samādhi mind: The mind does not change and only knows one.
5.) Pañña mind: Mind (nāma) nature is feeling and dissolution and knowing this is wisdom or knowledge mind.
Vipassanā yogis are free from apāyas by knowing the mind in this way, if not far from it. The Buddha also had done this work. You can become a child of Buddha by doing only this work. The truths of seeing the mind, seeing form and seeing objects (ārammaṇas)—these are seeing the truths by stages. These also called the truths of sotāpanna, sakadāgāmi, anāgāmi and arahant respectively (i.e., stream enter on mind, once and non-returner on form, arahant on ārammaṇas).
If you try hard, and you must do it for a dependency; you will surely reach it. Breathe strongly if it is painful. If you treat it as painful, the mind will not want to feel it. With anger or aversion, you’ll go to hell. Don’t stop it. With one sitting, let vedanā cease. Don’t give a perception (saññā) to it, otherwise saṅkhāra will condition it. If vedanā becomes strong, not allowing these states of mind to arise, you have to breathe strongly (i.e. ānāpāna).
Balance samādhi and paññā. (Here or anywhere of his talks, Sayadaw did not mention how to do it. He only recited a short verse which belonged to Thathom Mingoon Sayadaw. From this verse, later U Candima taught “samādhi like the scales”.)
According to the Buddha—the result stopped by killing the cause.
Pain, aches, etc are the result dhamma and concept dhammas. Have to know them as vedanā nāma dhamma and this kills the cause. If it is treated as pain, aches, etc., it will kill the results. The cause will follow by killing its result. The hotness, aches, etc. will stop by killing the cause. Near death with pain and aches, one will rely on the doctors. Tell people this is exercising for dying (i.e., dealing with pains).
You’ll die later. When dying, you’ll know how to die. There are the minds to apāya, to celestial realms and to Nibbāna. You have to know about these minds. You have to practice knowing them with knowledge—wisdom (vijjā-paññā).
Furthermore, you can’t overcome it with saññā. If it’s painful, then you’ll be finished, and become afraid. Don’t know like this. When the four great elements are afflicted, vedanās arise. Vedanā is nāma (mind) dhamma.
What is the nature of nāma dhamma? It feels and dissolves. How to follow vedanā? Tension is feeling, aching is feeling, etc.
In this way, know the nature of nāma. The Buddha asked to follow the ending of form and mind natures. Don’t let them be your nature (i.e., by noting as—tense, stiff, hot, cold, etc.). If vedanā becomes strong, breathe strongly. Level samādhi and paññā will see impermanence.
[Here levelling or tuning samādhi and paññā is tuning the five spiritual faculties (indriyas). There is no mention in the scriptures or other teachers of how to tune it in detail. U Candima’s scales like meditation is not an easy one but simple.]
You’ll find out the nature of mind (nāma) which feels sukha and dukkha.
The mind fears dukkha and likes (love) sukha. When dukkha vedanā arises, it knows at the legs (in sitting) and not able to bear the pain it moves to the tip of the nostril. Knowing these (dukkha and sukha) to and fro is knowing impermanence (this is not the same as U Candima’s Scales like meditation—see above the instruction of U Candima). If you follow them to the end, mind and form cease at the same time. The mind becomes peaceful and happy. This arrives at cittānupassanā-satipaṭṭhāna, from dukkha into sukha (i.e., into sotāpanna).
Knowing the tip of the nostril is kāyapassanā (i.e., breath meditation), knowing feeling (vedanā) arising is vedanā-satipaṭṭhāna, and then the feeling nature of nāma dhamma will come to ending—and arrive at cittasatipaṭṭhāna (from where one continues to become a once-returner, non-returner and arahant, see Sayadaw’s practice and realization).
Stiffness, tension, etc., are non-existent dhammas. Nāma feeling is an existing dhamma. When you arrive cittasatipaṭṭhāna, your destination (good existence—sugati) is stable. You have to practice becoming stable destinations (gati). Work hard! Be patient with vedanā and attack kilesa. If you have patience (i.e., khanti) will attain Nibbāna.
What has to be patient? Following the vedanā which arises from the afflicted khandha with patience, from the beginning, middle till to the end. You must work with it, it’ll become vijjā-ñāṇa. If you know or take it as pains and aches will become more painful and aching. Pain and aches are not existing knowledge. This is what everyone knows (even animals). Feeling of vedanā is the existing knowledge.
How to know it to be free from everyone's knowledge? Vedanā is mind (nāma) dhamma. You have to know the mind. If you don't understand the mind, and instead see it as pain and aches, then it is in trouble. Have to go down to apāya, keep this in mind (especially at dying). You only have to know its one nature as feeling and dissolution. And it will become skilled (like in jhāna). If you know vedanā feels and dissolves near death, you will go to sugati heaven (as the Buddha had mentioned). If taking it as pain and aches, you’ll become dogs, pigs, chickens and fishes in the water. You all are eating a lot of pigs, chickens, etc. therefore if you die, you will become ducks, pigs and chicken and repay your debts with the khandhas. Contemplate vedanā to free from me and mine, not let vedanā connect taṇhā. Vedanā is the mind which nature feels and dissolves. Hotness, coldness, stiffness do not exist; without clinging dhamma free from the kammas (actions) of going to the four apāyas. I am correcting your thoughts. Form (rūpa) nature is afflicted by its own; mind nature is feeling on its own.
Where are the pains and aches coming from? Only mind and form exist. You don’t do the habitual practice (bhāvetabba). In the beginning affliction and feeling it, that is knowing with saññā (i.e., right and existing perception). This is asking you to contemplate to become samādhi and paññā.
(At Sayadaw mentioned above—humans have to pay their evil debts with khandhas. This is not an exaggeration. Nowadays humans consume or to be consumed a lot of different kinds of animal flesh where these came from—from animal farms and very few were from forests, rivers and seas. Humans cannot expect to be born in forests.
Because most of the forests were extinct. Mogok Sayadaw also reminded the yogis to practice hard if not had to pay their debts with khandhas as flesh for foods—as pigs, fowls etc. Or toiled for humans as horses, oxen, etc.)
You were watching outdoor shows for the whole night.
(There are many kinds of outdoor shows in Burma. Some relate to religious festivals, some for entertainment. Usually it starts from 7 pm to until dawn. But when for practice, most Buddhists can’t give or use their time or sitting for a short period. Here, Sayadaw referred to practice).
If you sit in meditation, you will go to heaven after death (sitting in recreation will lead to apāya). Among one hundred thousand people, if one knows only pain and suffering, no one becomes a human being again after death or is not born in a good destination (sugati).
It becomes unbearable at the time of death and will enter apāya. During going and coming (i.e., in daily life), you have to know feeling (experiencing) vedanā and its dissolution (i.e., the same as Soon Loon Sayadaw’s way of practice). Sitting meditation is changing apāya destinations with heavenly realms. Pains and aches are upadhānaṃ-dhamma which are unbearable minds. These are lobha, dosa, moha minds. Knowing of feeling and dissolution is right view (sammā-diṭṭhi). Knowing of pains and aches is wrong view (micchā-diṭṭhi). All these are wholesome minds and unwholesome minds. Only these two mind states exist. (Kusala cittas and akusala citta), sugati minds and apāya minds. You have to practice for a fixed destination (gati) and become skilled.
(Regarding shows and entertainments, I heard a story from a Burmese. There was a well known traditional Burmese dancer. He worked for his professional career until old age. One of his sons was a famous movie actor. When the dancer died, a village woman had a dream. The dream was the dancer after death taking rebirth at her place in the womb of a she-pig. This news spread widely and became well known. Later the dancer’s son bought this piglet and looked after it very well. There is a sutta in Saṃyutta Nikāya in parallel with this case. It is called Tālapuṭa Discourse, Salayatanavagga. (SN.42.2) Actor Tālapuṭa asked the Buddha where an actor would take rebirth after death. The Buddha’s answer was—hell or animals. The audiences are also not good either. Nowadays movies, video games, etc. are more and more erotic and violence. So their minds are more and more polluted with lust, anger and delusion.)
I have no idea how successful Thae-inn Gu Sayadaw's teaching has been for yogis. Sayadaw U Candima’s teaching seems quite successful. From their autobiographies and practices, we can say that they had pāramīs. The most important point is the quality of their minds. Both of them are tough, resolute, have a lot of patience and endurance with strong faiths and true noble warriors. Pāramī is coming from practice. So a Buddhist’s duty is to study and practice Dhamma.
A noble search does only exist in the Buddha Dhamma. So it is a very difficult and rare chance to encounter. Therefore, the Buddha Dhamma represents wholesome and noble education. Other secular knowledge and religions have only wholesome education that they can teach to human beings. This much is even very rare. Only the sages and the wise can do it. Most human beings only end up with ignoble educations and searches. Nowadays, human situations are more and more inclined towards this direction. From societies to internationals, many problems, dangers and disasters arise from this kind of education and search. Humans are more and more greedy and selfish. It seems to me, only two types of people make this beautiful earth become an unpleasant place—immoral politicians (some world leaders) and very greedy wealthy people—i.e., misuse of power and wealth. The most stupid and foolish thing is arms industries and businesses. If you don’t use it for killing and murdering people, what is the use of it. U.S.A. is a good example. If arms industries and arms businesses develop and flourish, there will be no peace and human well-being in the world. These power mongers and wealth mongers always look for excuses to create wars and instability around the world.
In the Dhammapada—XXIV: Craving (Taṇhā)
(All kinds of pollution and violence occurring in the world today testify to the Buddha's wisdom and insight.)
There was a wise message or remark made by Ven. Nyanatiloka Mahāthera (a pioneer German monk) in his address in 1956 at the Sixth Buddhist Council.
“For the Buddha’s doctrine forms the only safe and firm road that will keep mankind away from those crude materialistic notions which are the root-causes of all selfishness, greed, hate and therefore of war and cruelty, and of all misery in the world.”
I will end this noble search with the following story on taṇhā—craving and clinging. In Sayadaw U Candima’s talk on Living, Dying and Future, he told a story of a woman. She was rich and kept a lot of gold in a safe. Sometimes she was thinking of making merits with it, but because of stinginess and cannot let it go.
Unexpectedly one day she died and left everything behind. After she died, the children wanted to divide the wealth among them. What did they find out when they opened the safe? They found out a big myaw (Burmese) clung to the golds. (I don’t know it in English. It’s similar between a leech and a slug without eyes and mouth with a grey color body, emits liquid like mucus.) U Candima said that this animal was spontaneous birth (opapātika). In Buddhist texts, spontaneous births are only associated with some petas, heavenly beings and hell beings only, and never mentioned animals.
There is a parallel story in the Dhammapada—Impurities (Mala vagga, Dhp. 240), the story of monk Tissa who died with attachment to his new robes and was born as a louse in the robe. This is a very quick rebirth that can be counted as spontaneous.
A western teacher said, “People who don’t realize the harm they can do to themselves and to other people are really dangerous.” That is true, and it can be related to all worldlings who are full of kilesas. With strong desire and anger, one can do all possible evil things to oneself and others without knowing the consequences.
The education on the law of kamma becomes very important to every human being whatever their color of skin, nationality, culture and religions. Because it is a universal teaching. Everyone understands kamma rightly and seriously about it, they will have shame and fear of wrong doings. These two qualities are the guardian dhammas of the world. Even if we cannot follow the Buddha's Dhamma and become a noble person, we should at least become a decent person. It’s not only to create peace, harmony and well-being in this life but also the future life to come.
revised on 2022-04-28
- Content of "Two Sides of A Coin" (Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha)
- Content of "A Noble Search" (Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Candima)
- Content of Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha and Sayadaw U Candima
- Content of Publications of Bhikkhu Uttamo
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