The Way of a Stream Enterer (Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha)

  1. This talk was delivered at Mye-ni-gon Dhamma Sāla in Rangoon.

Today Dhamma listeners are more than the numbers in the movie, theatre. Beings are sinking and flowing down in the stream of saṃsāra. Therefore, people request me to deliver Dhamma talk to free from the round of existence. U Zin (monks refer to themselves) (?? as the monk calls himself ??) doesn’t know what to talk. I don’t know letters. I think that I don’t have the learning pāramī (perfection) with me. There are learning, practice and result (pariyatti, paṭipatti and paṭivedha) of the Buddha Sāsana. U Zin doesn’t know anything on pariyatti. Please forgive me if I give the wrong concepts in names (i.e., his experience is not wrong but giving the wrong Buddhist terms to its experience). There are some scholars also among us. If they come and tell me; U Zin—you should not say like this and have to say like that.” Then I’ll ready to listen to them. I can’t speak pāḷi and don’t know how to use them. When I was four or five years old, my parents put me in school. At that time there was no modern school like today. Children study in monk school (village monasteries become education center for village children—boys and girls). My parents put me in school and want me to read and write. I don’t have interest and very often running away from school. I am very afraid of speaking to the monk and learning books. Of the three sāsana (In these three sāsana), Pariyat (pariyatti) is the cause; Patibat (paṭipatti) is the result (pursuance) of it, and paṭivedha is the result and paṭivedha is the cause of pariyatti.

I know nothing about pariyatti, but in the knowledge of paṭipatti and paṭivedha, I know them all, because these are Dhamma, the result of my practice. For 21 months (nearly two years). I practice it like my bones and skin, are worn out (??). If I don’t die, then let me realize the Dhamma (i.e., if I don’t die and let kilesa die). With strong saṃvega and fear, I did the practice without getting up (This kind of determination is coming from the Buddha himself. See the MN 32: Mahāgosiṅgasutta). In the province of practice, I know all the natural dhammas. I am 54 years old now (in 1968). In 45 years, I was called a human. Did I have the mind of a human? NO! I didn’t have it. (What about most people today? See the pollution—i.e., mind, body and nature around the world). These things you could ask me.

Previously, my lay name was U Aung Tun. I didn’t have the mind of a human. Why was that? I am talking about myself and not on others. To know a human mind is a very difficult thing. A noble being (ariya) will know it. This dhamma can’t be known by worldlings. I check my mind and know all of them. How did I know it? The Buddha said that knowledge—knowing is the noblest thing. The knowledge must be right. Let’s analyze the knowing. In my speech, please forgive me if the word "bya" is at the end of a sentence. This has become a habit of mine.

(We-bu Sayadawgyi also had this habit. This doesn't happen all the time, just some of the time. It has nothing to do with defilements. This is a misinterpretation by Mahayana followers who think that arahant still has defilement.)

I have also been accused by others of taking legal action regarding this matter.

(Someone might think—it’s improper as a monk says this word. This bya word is no meaning at all. If you call out someone by his name, he can respond it with “bya!” It’s a masculine usage. For woman—shin!)

Except for a Buddha no-one can abandon it. There are two kinds of knowledge—lokiya (worldly or mundane) and lokuttara (supramundane) sammuti (concept) and paramatā (ultimate reality) truths (sacca) or paññatti and paramattha. There are two extreme ways—left way (torturing oneself) and right way (indulgence in sensual pleasure). The middle way is the Buddha’s way. In knowledge, there are wrong and right knowing (micchā and sammā). Micchā knowing is wrong knowing—knowing of which is not existed. Sammā knowing is knowing of which is existed. I don’t know pariyatti. Now I’ll talk about its nature and just listen to understand its nature. Pariyat (Pariyatti) is conceptual knowing. Patibat (paṭipatti) is viññāṇa knowing. Paṭivedha is paññā knowing. These are three knowing. I know about them with viññāṇa and paññā knowing. I don’t know it with saññā knowing because I don’t have pariyatti skill.

I am a worker and not a speaker. I have to talk about the nature of work. Furthermore, I also prefer people to do the work (i.e., practice). You also have to practice. Later I’ll talk about the minds. Dhamma could also be attained in one sitting.

(Most people would take it as an exaggeration. It’s not true, even the Buddha urged the monks for the attainment in one sitting—see the Mahāgosiṅga Sutta, Majjhima Nikāya 32. If someone achieves jhāna and has a good teacher and system to guide them, then it is possible. Some people can even reach jhāna in one sitting, e.g.—Mae-chee Kaww Sian-lam, a Thai forest nun; Sayadaw U Candima—Thae Inn tradition, we can see it in his life story.)

With clear knowledge to understand the cause-and-effect dhammas in one sitting, one can enter the door of Nibbāna, and then close the door to apāyas (woeful planes). Concept is not existing dhamma. Seeing and knowing are paramatā. Some said that seeing was a concept. NO, seeing is paramat (paramatā)—nāma paramatā (i.e., viññāṇa). If not existing, you’ll not see it. Soon Loon Sayadaw said—if paññatti and paramatā are separated, this is not a noble person. Knowing both of them also is not a noble person. Only knowing their relationship is a noble person. (Soon Loon Sayadaw’s sayings are shorter and simple but there are profound meanings in them. It needs to contemplate them.)

How to know their relationship? This is paññatti and this is paramatā. Likewise, this is its nature. This is existing dhamma and this is not existing dhamma. You have to know them differently. The Buddha said that seeing was paramatā dhamma. Therefore, we should not argue as my dhamma is right or his dhamma is right. We’ll attain Nibbāna if we know the dhamma nature and sacca dhamma.

There are 40 samatha practices, practice with one of them as one’s preference. Knowledge comes from the doors of the six senses and their corresponding objects as the noblest knowing. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and knowing are dhammas. Seeing is visual paramatā, hearing is sound paramatā … knowing is dhamma paramatā. Some thought that seeing was a concept. NO, seeing is paramatā. Some say that seeing is a concept. They can’t distinguish between samatha and vipassanā. Thought (assumption) is a concept which is assuming something of not existing. Seeing is paramatā. Seeing mind and form is paramatā. You have to know their nature. With samatha also know the samatha nature. With vipassanā also know the vipassanā nature. You have to know the element nature (dhātu). In mundane (worldly matter—lokiya) they practice alchemy and in supramundane (lokuttara) also. In mundane is using the billow and in supramundane is using the ānāpāna billow. There are dhammas—drifting and sinking, floating and liberation. Drifting is samatha. Floating is dāna, sīla actions (kamma). Sinking is the indulgence of sensual pleasure. The floating dhamma of dāna and sīla is only sometime we do it. For the sinking dhamma we do it all the time in non-stop.

Maybe it's like a machine gun without a break. If we examine modern people in today's world at an international level, only a very few will float, the rest will sink to the deepest depths.

Some (very few indeed) practice the drifting dhamma of samatha. If they attain jhānas and abhiññā (absorption samādhi and super-normal powers) and die, he will go to the lower planes of brahma god existences (i.e., lower than ariyan brahma gods). When their jhānas and abhiññā are finished, they will fall down again (like a bird falls down to the human earth). And he could continue falling down to apāyas if they meet bad companions here (i.e., on earth). (In today's world, this is the way to go for sure; because there is a lack of wholesome media and education.)

Now I’ll start talking about sinking dhamma. I’ll talk about the mind, and you listen to understand its nature. U Zin did the practice just for himself, not for others. Why is that? I didn’t have the mind to teach people. I was fear with saṁvega (sense of wise urgency) and practicing diligently until my bones and skin were worn out. In the past, I made wishes that now have to propagate the last Buddha Sāsana (In one of his talks, he mentioned that he had met the Buddha Padumuttara in the past. At that time, he was a king and inviting the Buddha and saṅgha to his offerings. This was the wishes he made from the Buddha. It seems to me it’s not for the mahāsāvaka’s pāramitās).

If I don’t do it, it’s also impossible. Therefore, I propagate the right dhamma for the sāsana. Now I’ll talk about the sinking (not arising) dhamma. In the past, U Zin was a bad guy and did a lot of robbery. I was a robber in the past, but don’t look down on me as a robber. I never killed people, and not as bad as Aṅgulimāla of the Buddha’s time. (Aṅgulimāla was a well-known bandit and killed a lot of men for his fingered garland.) Greedy mind, angry mind and deluded mind were with me before. This mind is an animal mind. For 46 years was a human but no human mind. Others took me as a human, no! I was not. I was not a human. (Humanity today should contemplate this. I didn’t have a human mind with me. For the whole 46 years, only sinking dhamma was with me. I didn’t know the paramatā dhamma of mind and form nature. Only knowing the non-existing concepts and became atta—self view. For the whole 46 years I only had the minds of hell beings, animals and ghosts. If I died at that time, I would suffer at the places of hell, animal kingdom and hungry shades. Why was that? Because I didn’t have the human mind. If you ask me, "Since you are a human being, why don't you have a human mind?" I was clinging with wrong thought, wrong concept and wrong knowing to the minds and actions (kamma) which would send one to apāyas (painful existences). What kinds of mind arose in me? I knew only non-existing of wrong view concepts (micchā-diṭṭhi paññatti). When the senses of door and sense objects were contacting, I didn’t have the knowing with me. I didn’t keep the door watch man with me. The Buddha said that we must have the knowing. When arom five and arom six contact, you have to go with knowing, eating with knowing and seeing with knowing. (Here Sayadaw’s usage of his experiences has a problem. Arom five and arom six means internal and external sense bases for him. Arom five is the five khandhas arising inside the body and mind. Arom six is the five khandhas arise from the six senses of door contact with external objects. In the beginning of this talk Sayadaw already mentioned his weak point in learning—pariyatti). Seeing is also dhamma, hearing is also dhamma, tasting is also dhamma, etc. Going, stepping, sleeping, etc. are also dhamma. In the past I didn’t have knowledge that I didn’t know it. I knew only non-existing concepts. All these are sinking dhamma. The Buddha taught that we should not think about past, present and future. We should know the present arising dhamma rightly. In the past I knew things with wrong knowing for the non-existing concept. All these were sinking dhamma. If died with this mind of 46 years, I would never rise again. How did I see things? When the eye and visual object contact, I didn’t know it as visual object. Since I didn't know the cause and effect relationship between mind and form, I didn't know that because of the cause, the result arose. From the eye door, I didn’t know it as dukkha, I didn’t know vedanā, I didn’t know about sukha and dukkha vedanās.

When I saw a visual object which I liked, it became pleasant and desirable. It became a happy mind (sukha and lobha). When seeing undesirable object, and it became disliked mind and angry mind arose. With hearing, smelling, tasting and touching kāma-raga (desire and lust) mind arose. I wanted to experience it very often. I didn’t know the characteristic of changing nature of the four elements such as stiffness, tension, pushing, pulling, hotness, coldness, etc. Likewise, I didn’t want to experience it. When the body became changed, I relied on the doctor. Because of the nature of dukkha, the dosa mind arose. This was how all the different kinds of knowing mind occurred as well. Knowing about good things became pleasant and on bad things became unpleasant. Rāga and dosa (lust and anger) arose from seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. Because I didn’t know them as vedanā and not knowing them as dukkha. Not knowing about the truth of dukkha that rāga-dosa arose within me. Why these minds arose within me? Because I was not seeing vedanā, not knowing upādāna (clinging) and not knowing dukkha sacca. My mind was always covered with moha (delusion). Therefore, only lobha, dosa and moha were arising with me. When the six senses of door contact with the six sense objects and I knew the arising dhamma with non-existing concepts that these minds arose. The Buddha taught that non-existing was concepts and the existing was paramatā. U Zin didn’t know about the mind and form nature and its characteristics. How did I see the concept? I saw a woman, and it became a desire lust mind (raga mind). When seeing a woman and knew it as a woman. Seeing her fat body and knew it as fat. If seeing thin, pretty, beautiful and only knew these things and raga mind arose. When seeing ugliness and dosa mind arose, and I knew non-existing things. Therefore, it became raga, dosa, moha, māna minds. Seeing the dog and knowing as dog, seeing pig, chicken, etc., it was also knowing as pig, chicken, etc. These were not right and it was only a concept. In reality these were feeling nature (vedanā), changing form nature (rūpa), mind and form nature. If you are seeing non-existing things and then going down by kneeling with your four legs (i.e., to apāya, may be as a dog, animals, etc.; here Sayadaw’s usage is rough but has a serious tone and makes you remember it forever.) This thing happens because we’re covered with moha (delusion) of avijjā dhamma (ignorance). Other sense doors of ear, nose, etc. were also in the same way. Whatever arose from there, I didn’t know about their vedanās, mind and form and couldn’t differentiate paññatti and paramatā, didn’t know their natural characteristics. I only knew about their non-existing dhammas (i.e., concepts).

When I saw a woman and I asked a child (a boy). What is that? His answer was, “This is a woman.” “Is she beautiful or pretty?” “She has white skin, fat and pretty” U Zin also was seeing it this way for 46 years. I was not different from the child’s view, and only had a child’s knowledge. When I heard a sound and asked the child. There was a dog barking, and I asked him, “Child! What is that sound?” The child’s response was “Ha! Why asking me? This is a dog barking” I heard it and also knowing as a dog barking. The child was also knowing as a dog barking. Everyone has the same knowledge, that is conceptual knowledge. We all are knowing the non-existing dhamma. We’re seeing and knowing of the non-existing dhamma. The Buddha taught two views—wrong and right views. We don’t know the right view. The existing dhamma is mind and form, which is paramatā dhamma. We know only the non-existing dhamma that—in regarding smell, knowing as fragrance or smelly, etc. We have to stop at vedanā; if not, it continues to taṇhā and upādāna and the five khandhas/mind and form arise, and it’s turning the dependent arising process. Once an odor is smelled, "cittasaṅkhāra" or mental factors arise (i.e., minds arise). If you take it as fragrant rāga mind/lobha mind, peta mind (ghost mind) arise. If it’s a putrid smell, then you don’t want to experience it and dosa mind arises. If these minds arise, where do you think you're going? These are non-existing dhamma and with these minds and die in a hundred thousand humans die and no-one becomes human again. They’ll become dogs, pigs, chickens, fishes in the water and in hells (include hungry shades).

[Here we can see Sayadaw’s wisdom comes from enlightenment. Even though he knew nothing about the suttas, his understanding of paṭiccasamuppāda was very profound. Listening to his talk is very similar to Mogok Sayadaw’s teaching.]

With eating foods also, we don’t know about feelings (vedanā), don’t know mind and form and can’t differentiate between paññatti and paramatā. Eating sweet and knowing sweet, eating salty and knowing salty, etc. then we know the non-existing dhamma. These are concepts and atta dhamma, if you are knowing this way and die kneeling with your four legs and going down (i.e., apāyabhūmi).

[Today, humans should reflect this question. Why nowadays there are more animals on the earth than before? Where are they coming from? Every day around the world how many animals we kill them for foods, for oil, for medicine, for fur, etc. Every year it can be a billion (I don’t know the exact record) If we put pet animals in the list, it is unthinkable. Nowadays human greed, anger and delusion are greater than ever. If humans die and become animals, they will not have a forest to call their home, because many forests have disappeared. They are sure to end up on animal farms and breeding grounds, where they are subjected to human cruelty.]

Eat toddy (a type of palm tree) and know it is sweet; this even a child knows it. Eat salty food and know that it is salty. A child also knows it. For 46 years, I knew it this way. If die like this keep your back upward toward the sky and going down with your four legs (animal’s back is always toward sky), and become dog, pig, chicken, etc. These are peta mind (ghost), animal mind and hell being mind. Don’t take oneself as highly. With touching sensations, we experience it in the same way. In terms of the things we like, we behave like a cow (i.e., we rethink them as often as a cow ruminates its grass). We desire to experience it very often. When the four elements change, we don’t want to experience it. You should not know them as aching, numbness, pain, etc. Right view (sammā-diṭṭhi) is right knowing and seeing. Knowing the not existing things is everyone knowing. A child also knows it. A child said to his mother, “Mom! It’s too hot.” We’re not different from the child. These knowledge have been known even from the beginning of the world. Numbness, pain, hot, cold, etc. are conceptual knowledge. If knowing this way with the back toward the sky and going down with the four legs. (This usage is referred to become a dog or falling down to woeful existences).

There used to be many red flag communists over in the countryside before.

(After Burma Independence in 1948 Burmese communist parties started the revolution. They were one party before, they split into two later; one inclining toward Soviet Russia and the other toward China.)

I had to make friend with them. Even before, I was not afraid of the Red Flat. Here I am talking about the mind. We were also bad that once time arrested by the red flag group. When I was in prison, my second younger brother was killed by them. (It seems he was put in a communist cell and not by the government.)

As soon as I heard the news, I was so angry and making an angry sound. When hearing and knowing something we don’t like become angry, but with what we like it becomes pleasant and taking pleasure in it, because we don’t know about mind and form. I didn’t know that the cause of his past kamma that now he had to pay for it. Not knowing about mind and form arise when the senses of door and the sense objects meet together and only raga, dosa, moha and māna arise (on the seeing, hearing, etc.) For 46 years if I died with these states of mind and never rising up again (to good destinations) because these were sinking dhamma. What I want you to know is whether you have these mental states (i.e., warnings.) These mind states lead one to become dog, pig, chicken when minds arise during the seeing, hearing, etc. Do lobha, dosa, moha and māna happen to you? If happening, then you have to go down kneeling with your four legs. These knowing are not the right knowing and non-existing knowing. Therefore, the Buddha taught that these were not the ways of seeing and knowing and not the way of hearing and knowing, etc. (whatever arises from the six objects). You must see and know the existing dhamma. Now what I am talking is about the sinking dhamma. Dāyakas and dāyikās! Check your own minds. If you have wrong view and knowing, then practice quickly when you still have times.

The Buddha gave the following simile—he took a piece of earth on his finger nail and asking the monks “Bhikkhus! The earth on my finger nail and the entire earth on the ground, which one has the greater number?” They answered “Ven. Sir, the earth on the ground is more than on the finger mail.” “Yes, that’s right! If a hundred thousand humans die and reborn as humans are the numbers like the amount of earth on the finger nail. But the others born as hell beings, animals and hungry shades are as much as the earth on the ground.” Tomorrow I’ll talk about the drifting and floating dhammas.

I’ll continue to talk about wrong and right views, wrong and right knowing. I’ll talk about only the minds. For 46 years, U Zin only had wild and inferior minds within me, I didn’t aware of them. The Buddha reminded us that we must have awareness from the six senses of door on seeing, hearing and smelling, etc. Coming and going stepping taking things, etc. with knowing to do these things, etc. (see the satipaṭṭhāna sutta). Not put a watch-man or closed the door there that the guest minds come in and combine with the host mind. Without a watch-man, the mind is covered with delusion (moha) and the mind become out of control and behave according to its own. (Modern philosophies of freedom, human rights, etc. are similar to this mind. We should use it properly, wisely, in the directions of wholesomeness.) It follows behind the objects and indulgence in it. The Buddha taught about the indulgence in sensual pleasure (kāma-sukha way), indulgence in the objects of visual form, sound, smell, etc. “Every time the doors (dvāra) come in contact with objects (ārammaṇa), indulging in the objects is the practice of kāma-sukhallikā-anuyoga—indulgence in sensual pleasure.” [or the western hedonism (an American Syndrome)]. Whoever follows this practice will not rise up again, and this is sinking dhamma. We’re not controlling our minds and look after with knowing. Let it free that it goes out on its own and going everywhere. This mind is similar to a wild bull without an owner. This bull eats and sleeps as much as it can and in free time looking for sexual pleasure. A bull with its owner was tied to a post with a rope and could not go to the people's fields or eat there.

People without a door watcher are like the wild bull. This bull goes to the people’s fields, eats there. Going inside the fences and eats the crops and trample on them. It knows only eating and goes to paddy fields, bean and corn fields where it used to be. A man who leaves his mind to its own devices is like a bull without an owner. At last, the owner of the farm can’t bear it anymore. He knows that at night the bull went in from this entrance. He sharpens his long knife until it’s shinning. When night comes, he goes there with his knife and waiting for the bull. Out of greed, the wild bull can’t see the suffering of cutting with the knife. It has only greed and knowing only greed. At night, it goes inside the field at the usual entrance. The man is hiding and waiting there to strike its front legs with the knife, and it cries out loudly and falls to the ground. It’s so painful that the bull continues to cry out, at that moment the man with his knife cut its throat.

Out of greedy, the wild bull legs and throat are cut by the man with knife. (This story seems very cruel. But if we’re influenced by diṭṭhi-taṇhā our future births would be worsening than this bull’s suffering. The sufferings in hells are even unthinkable.) Lobha, dosa and moha minds, etc. arise from the six senses of door are the minds leading to the sufferings of woeful existences (apāya dukkha). Therefore, dāyakas and dāyikās should not content only with the ordinary merits of outside the sāsana (such as dāna, sīla). You are doing merits only for some time. Taking and looking after the precepts (sīla) for four days in every month. (That is Burmese uposatha days—full moon, new moon, two 8th days). Sīla is kamma (action). When it gives the results, it will have beauty and long life, etc. With dāna it gives the results of human and heavenly happiness and wealth, etc. When good kamma results not arise and have wrong view on the non-existing dhamma which send one to painful existence (apāya). Dāna and sīla can’t do or help you in this case.

Therefore, at the time when we meet the Buddha Sāsana, the Buddha taught us not to associate with the fools (bāla) and associate and the wise (paṇḍita). (Sayadaw tried to recite the Maṅgala Sutta chanting, but he couldn’t do it well. This point was also mentioned in the talk on his life). This was teaching to the heavenly beings. They don’t have the coarse physical forms. So, they only have mental feelings (vedanā). They are refined forms (These points give us the idea of heavenly beings don’t have sexual relationship). Heavenly beings are a kind of hungry shade (ghost) because they are very greedy.

(Sayadaw was using it as great peta. It does not mean they are a kind of peta, just as a metaphorical term. Their hunger for sensual pleasure is very great and never have satisfaction like some politicians and a million or billionaires of today.

But they are better than modern economists who have nothing of power or money and postulate a lot of greedy ideas and views how to make money).

The male devata is served by 500 or 600 celestial nymphs on each of his left and right sides. The Buddha called them as mahā-peta (great hungry ghost). The Buddha admonished them (here Subrahmā devata and his 500celestial nymphs came to see the Buddha for help.) for making companionship with the fools (bāla). U Zin myself in the past associated with the fools. What kinds of fool it is? You make friend with the fools of lobha, dosa, moha and māna which arise from visual object, sound, smell, etc. I had no knowledge about them before and not having a door watcher with me. This was happened for 24 hours each day. The Buddha taught to associate with the wise (paṇḍita). If you’re consorting with three wise men will have blessings (maṅgala). You have been consorted with the fools started from the beginning of the world (i.e., in the beginning less of the saṃsāra). Are you now still consorting with them? They are the ones who push you down the saṃsāra chasm. The three wise men are sīla, samādhi and paññā or sīla maggaṅga, samādhi maggaṅga and paññā maggaṅga.

These are the wise men. The fools we’re talking are opium eater, alcoholics and gamblers, etc. Really pushing down us to painful existences (apāyas) are lobha, dosa, moha and māna dhammas or minds falling down there. We don’t know about the foolish minds which are consorted. We associate with them continuously. It’s possible if we don’t consort with drunkards and can shun away from them. Could you shun away from greed, anger, delusion, etc.? You’ll fall into the chasm with them, but you don’t stay away from it. The fools are not the drunkards, gamblers, opium users (at that time Burma didn’t has heroine yet), murderers, etc. It was talking about the minds. Pushing down someone into apāyas and the rounds of existence (saṃsāra) are these states of mind. (Mogok Sayadaw also interpreted the fools in the maṅgala Sutta as unwholesome dhammas. Ariyas know between the fake and the real very clear.) You can get the three wise men with you only by practicing insight. The Buddha taught about the four establishing of mindfulness practice—kāya, vedanā, citta, etc. He was teaching the right things. There are no other dhammas to Nibbāna except these four dhammas. There are 40 objects for samatha practice and people practice what they like it. The important thing is knowing the differences between paññatti and paramatā. With the right concept only get the right paramatā , and with the wrong ones and become wrong. These are to know with knowledge and ignorance (vijjā and avijjā).

For 46 years U Zin made friends with the four fools (lobha, dosa, moha, māna) who were going down to apāyas kneeling with their four legs. I practiced for 21 months with the strong determination as if I have to die let it be, otherwise I must realize the Dhamma. Firstly, I am mindful of the in-breath and out-breath of the ānāpāna (breathing) practice. If only knowing the in and out breaths is samatha practice. In kāyānupassanā (body contemplation) what is air (vāyo)? It’s the nature of pressure, motion, distention. These are all known by the mind, which is not the practice of samadhi. After the pressure, motion and distention it ceases. This is the ceasing of mind and form, and knowing the nature of vanishing. With many times of knowing the pressure and distention pressure and distention, etc. at the sitting area, the four elements are changing. Knowing the pressure and distention of the air is kāyāsatipaṭṭhāna—mindfulness of the body and the other elements of earth, water, fire are also in the same way of knowing their nature. The earth element, the air element, etc. will kill you (in life at any time, near death is sure). All these are the elements of form (rūpa), and like the four dragon snakes, of the form you’ll bite with one of them (If they become imbalance, the most prominent one will kill you). Bitten by the earth snake one will die with stiffness of the body, by fire snake the body was burnt like fire and die with hotness, with air snake the body like cut into pieces and die. The excessive elements effecting the body are—earth effects the body and jaw with stiffness, water make the liquid body flowing out, with tejo—heat one will cry out “Ahh! Very hot and burning, please help me.”, with air (vāyo) become dizzy and the stomach can be burst open and die. This air element can kill you at any time during eating, sleeping, in the toilet, on the car, etc. It’s a very quick air snake. Only vipassanā yogis know about their nature. If you contemplate their outer forms, you will only know the concepts.

(The four vipers designate the four elements, which were mentioned in the discourse of "The Simile of the Vipers")—Āsīvisopama Sutta, Saṁyutta N (SN.35.238) and the commentary. This sutta is important for mind development. Later we will see its importance in the teaching of Sayadaw U Candima. These four great elements effect our lives and during dying. Our health is also dependent on them (one of the causes). If they are imbalanced or in disturbance, they give us suffering in life and at dying, most important is at death.

When there is a disturbance in the earth element, the body becomes stiff like wood. The Buddha compared it as bitten by a viper of the wooden—mouth type. With the disturbance of the water element the body becomes putrid, oozing pus, flesh and blood and later leave behind bones and skin. It’s like bitten by a putrid—mouth snake. With the disturbance of the fire element, it becomes feverish all over. It’s like thrown into a pit of coal. The Buddha compared it with a fire—mouth snake. With the disturbance of air element, severe pains run through the joints and sinew. It’s like the body was smashed by rocks and the bones pulverized. It compared with a dagger—mouth snake. At near death, we’ll be bitten by one of the elements.)

When the four elements of the internal body are disturbed, the noble beings (ariyas) are not afraid for dying. They know all the four elements and the mind nature, the body loathsomeness, and kammas and its results that not afraid for dying. It becomes knowledge (vijjā). We sit longer on the hard floor and vedanā (feeling) arises. This arising form (rūpa) will kill us. We don’t know its nature of pressure and distention, go and feel the vedanā. This is vedanā satipaṭṭhāna—contemplation of feelings). If you only know the feeling of pain it’s wrong view (diṭṭhi). This is knowing upon the dukkha on dukkha. If you know hotness, aches and pains become dukkha samudaya (the cause of dukkha). From vedanā it connects to taṇhā (feeling → craving). I don’t contemplate the feeling (vedanā) of pain and stiffness, instead contemplate the feeling mind (i.e., mind experience vedanā.) How does the nature earth element arise? It becomes stiff, tense, numb, ache, etc.—this is the nature of earth element. In books, it mentioned as the nature of hardness and softness—is paṭhavī. In the khandha arises as becoming aches, numbness, stiffness. What is the nature of water element (āpo)? During the contemplation, the chest becomes tense and something is choking or blocking inside. Sweat is flowing out the body.

The nature of fire element (tejo) is becoming hot as fire heat and cold like a block of ice. The nature of air element (vāya) makes the heart beats in the chest, the body moves and tremble. I don’t contemplate the stiffness of from (rūpa) and instead contemplate the experience of vedanā (mental feeling appears at the mind base—heart area) nature of the mind. How the mind is experiencing vedanā? If you contemplate the stiffness and numbness, it becomes vedanā saññā (concept). I follow it with vedanā paññā of the feeling of the mind. I feel the stiffness; I feel the numbness, etc.; I feel the hotness, coldness, pressure, etc. of the four elements. In this way with the understanding of the characteristic nature of mind and the doors of apāya will be shut down.

In the past U Zin was counting the rosary beats with anicca, dukkha and anatta. This is saññā knowing. This is not the Buddha’s knowledge, everyone and even the child knows it. Likewise, this kind of anicca is the broken down of plate and pot, etc. When a man dies, it is dukkha. When you hit a stone with your leg and fall down, it is anatta (all these are used by ordinary Buddhists with the three universal characteristics as concepts in daily life.) What about the three characteristics taught by the Buddha? What is the nature of form (rūpa), mind (nāma) and loathsome (asubha)? You must know their characteristics. For example, when seeing the visual form and the knowing nature of it, the nature of inclining to it, every time arom five and arom six contact the inclining nature of the mind (i.e., six objects and six sense doors), and what is the nature of the mind doing? They have the nature of experience. Not knowing this and with saññā knowing (concepts) will go down apāya (because of diṭṭhi). You must know with the Buddha’s knowing. (Here Sayadaw is only dealing with mind, form and loathsome and their nature). Majority of people only know with saññā nature. What is the nature of loathsomeness? After man dies, there is no mind dhamma. After three or four days, the body becomes bloated. Asubha means there is no movement of the body which is dead. After three or four days, it shows its asubha nature. The flesh body becomes dark color, brown color, bloated, putrid, tongue comes out, blood and pus come out from the eyes, later infested with worms eaten by them and only leaving behind with bones. These are the characteristics of the loathsome nature. You must see in these ways. The Buddha told us that we have to know it in accordance with his knowing. The four satipaṭṭhāna insight practice starts from kāya and end with dhammānupassanā step by step. Establishing of ānāpāna is kāyāsatipaṭṭhāna. Contemplation of feeling or experience is vedanāsatipaṭṭhāna. After finished vedanā or ending of vedanā, it comes cittasatipaṭṭhāna. With dukkha ends the mind becomes happy, its happiness is short term. After some time, the four great elements reappear again.

These dhammas do not belong to us. The mind experiences of sukha and dukkha. I know this nature. It’s arising and passing away, arising and passing away, etc. It only has sabhāva dhamma (its own nature) and common characteristics (samaññā-lakkhaṇa) of anicca, dukkha, anatta. With the eye and seeing form is seeing form nature, hearing sound is hearing sound nature, etc. The eye can’t hear, so they do their own job, etc. The elements and the six objects (arom) are doing their own job (i.e., 12 āyatanas). Then we know the sabhāva lakkhaṇa and samaññā lakkhaṇa of mind and form. As we have seen the internal sabhāva elements the external of form, sound, smell, etc. are also sabhāva dhātu. They exist with their own nature. We understand the nature of elements. At the time of seeing, I know the nature of form (rūpa) and mind. Seeing the elements attain Nibbāna. Seeing form also enter the stream (sotāpatti magga). How does he see it? What is the nature of the characteristics of six sense objects and the six senses of door? Seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. are sabhāva. I only know sabhāva (sabhāva means natural dhamma—usually using with the other two words as—nissatta, nijjīva, sabhāva = not a being, not a soul and only nature). If seeing sabhāva lakkhaṇa attain Nibbāna. The whole world is sabhāva (In Burmese sabhāva is nature, in pāḷi individual character of thing, samaññā is common character. For example, earth element has its own individual characters of hard, soft nature and impermanent (anicca) is common nature to all things—except Nibbāna.) These are the form (rūpa) nature only and don’t know the mind nature yet. Today I’ll mention the form nature only. It’s free from vedanā saññā by seeing the nature of form (here vedanā saññā refer to physical pains). There is no hot, cold, stiffness, pressure, etc. With arom five and arom six contact and at the present moment there are no four bad men who can enter it. (lobha, dosa, moha and māna). There is no raga, dosa, moha, māna mental factors (cetasikas) and it does not arise on visual form (other objects also the same), and saṅkhāra dhammas cease. Then what are there? At every moment the arising sabhāva dhamma of arom five and arom six are there, and free from concepts. The rise and fall of nāma (mind) come to an end. What kinds of mind and its rise and fall come to the end?

In the past, if seeing a woman, the mind was on a woman (concept of a woman), seeing a dog and the mind on dog, etc. which are changing cittasaṅkhāra—these minds not exist now. The guest minds not exist, and only the host mind exists. (Here we need to contemplate Sayadaw’s profound wisdom without any background of suttas).

It only has the sabhāva dhamma of rūpa lakkhaṇa, and seeing its nature. I am not seeing the cittasaṅkhāra such as woman, dog, etc. The visual form, sound, smell etc. are only sabhāva nature. Fragrance, smelly, sweet, sour, etc. (taste and smell cittasaṅkhāra are ceasing.)

Arom five and arom six all are existing as sabhāva, and not thinking about the past, no expectation for the future, only staying with the present moment. How it stays at the present moment? In books, it was said that stream enterer abandoned wrong view and doubt. How he sees it and abandon it? He abandons it by seeing one Dhamma—ekodhammo (eka-dhamma), and knowing one. From the eye door it completes with sīla, samādhi and paññā, and gets vipassanā- ñāṇa. Rāga, dosa, moha don’t have the chance to arise and magga eradicate it. At the time of seeing,there only is the seeing sabhāva lakkhaṇa and the unwholesome mental factors (akusala-cetasikas) which send one to apāyas are ceased. In book, it was mentioned as stream enterer abandoned three saṁyojanas (setters). The three fetters of past, present and future of wrong see and knowing not exist because of right seeing and knowing. The impermanence of mental factors come to end, vedanā not connect to taṇhā, and stopping at vedanā. Because it sees the sabhāva lakkhaṇa. There are many sotāpanna’s minds. In regarding doubt on the past, present and future, some said about on the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha, these are in books. What is stable in sīla? This is on indriya saṁvara sīla—sīla on the restraint of the sense faculties. If from the eye seeing woman, man, etc. sīla not stable. Sotāpanna sees the one Dhamma (eka-dhamma) of form (rūpa) sabhāva, mind (nāma) sabhāva or seeing one sabhāva dhamma. The noblest knowing is this one sabhāva of knowing. I wish you all could abandon the concepts of knowing which are the opposite of right view and knowing, and then realize the sabhāva right view and knowing.

Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

Note on sotāpanna:

From Sayadaw’s talk we know some nature of a sotāpanna. He is quite different from a worldling. One of the very distinct nature is he never views and knows things with concepts by knowingly. He will communicate with people by using concepts, but never take it as real. This point is very important for yogis to check their first stage of realization. Later we will see its important point in Sayadaw U Candima and his practice for sotāpanna. Thae Inn Gu Sayadaw had said if you see a woman, and it’s a woman, see a dog, and it’s a dog, then you are not a Sotāpanna. U Candima did not have knowledge on Dhamma and not had a proper teacher to guide him when he started the practice. He used the above quotation by Thae Inn Gu Sayadaw and checked his practice. I heard a story on a very well-known Burmese author, Shwe U-daung. Actually, he was not a Buddhist—a Christian, but also study and practice. Once time he went to see Thae Inn Gu Sayadaw and talked about his realization. Sayadaw asked him by pointing to a woman, “What do you see?”

Shwe U-daung: a woman.

Sayadaw: No! You’re not a sotāpanna.

This same author mentioned in one of his writings that a sotāpanna took alcohol only water went into his body, the spirit could not enter it. U Sun Lwin (later Ven. Ādiccaramsī) asked Taung Pu-Lu Sayadaw as was it true? Sayadaw’s answer was; Sotāpanna or whatever it’s, if you take alcohol in accordance to its chemical nature (dhātu) you would be drunk.”

In the Chinese Mahāyana Chan (Zen) tradition there is a saying by Chan masters—this was before the practice mountain is mountain, river is river. During the practice—mountain is not mountain, river is not river. After the practice—mountain is mountain, river is river. In the sotāpanna’s view and knowing after the practice—still mountain is not mountain, river is not river. So, which one is true?

Worse than this is some Chinese Buddhists compare some great religious figures at the same level of the Buddha. So sotāpanna’s to arahant’s purity are lower than these upāsakas (prophets). How did they become Buddhists? I don’t understand them. Then the Buddha’s teachings will become wrong views. This is very clear they don’t know the pāḷi-suttas.

Obstacles for realization of Dhamma

There are some unwholesome dhammas which stop someone to realize Dhamma in this life, and some are curable and some are not. It is based on a book called, “Fundamental Paṭiccasamuppāda Lectures” by Sayadaw U Sumana—Mogok meditation teacher, Sagaing Hill Siri Sumana Maggin Dhamma Center. There are five kinds of obstacles (antarāya) which hinder the paths and fruits in practice. These are –

  1. Ānantarika kamma—the five heavy kammas
  2. Kilesantariya—defilements of wrong view
  3. Vipākantariya—the results of past kammas
  4. Ariyūpavādantariya—unwholesome actions done to noble beings.
  5. Paññatti-vītikkamantariya—breaking the vinaya rules and no purification.
  1. The five heavy kammas

    a Killing one’s mother

    b Killing one’s father

    c Killing arahant

    d Harming the Buddha by injuring him

    e Splitting the saṅgha

These five heavy kammas are incurable in this life. If a being dies with these kammas (even one of them) next rebirth will be in the great Hell.

  1. The obstacles of defilement

There are ten kilesas—(1) greed (2) hatred (3) delusion (4) conceit (5) wrong views (6) doubt (7) sloth (8) restlessness (9) and (10) shamelessness and fearlessness of wrongdoing.

Here the obstacles of defilement means wrong views and doubt. The leader of wrong views is identity view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi) and from it develop two main wrong views—eternalism (sassata) and annihilationism (uccheda). With the extension of them—55 sassatas and seven ucchedas which are mentioned in the Brahmajāla Sutta, sutta no. 1, Digha Nikāya.

All these 62 wrong views have fallen away only to overcome the obstacle and with the practice can eradicate wrong views and doubt. To achieve this, yogis must understand the law of dependent co-arising—paṭicca-samuppāda by study or taught by teachers (e.g., Mogok Sayadaw’s talks).

  1. The results of past kammas

There are eight kinds of living beings that can’t realize paths and fruits in their lives. These are: (1) beings in hells (2) beings in animal kingdom (3) beings as peta—hungry ghosts (4) beings as titans—asuras (5) worldling formless brahmā-gods (puthujjana arūpābrahma) (6) beings as brahmā-gods with no minds (asaññabrahma) (7) a person born with two wholesome roots only (duhetuka puggala), i.e., non-greed, non-hatred and delusion (8) seven persons without wholesome roots by births (ahetuka puggalas)

The seven persons without wholesome roots are: (1) born with blindness (2) born with deafness (3) born with dumbness (4) born as a dullard can’t remember things (5) born with craziness (6) not a man nor a woman (maybe between) (7) a person born with both organs of male and female.

I want to make some reflections on the (7) and (8) living beings in the list. Taken together, there are eight types of people, among them no. 4—born as a dullard can’t remember things and no. 5—born with craziness can’t even practice meditations. The other five people can do it, so they should study and practice planting the seed of wisdom. It makes me remember Don—an Esan youth (Thai Laotian) from our forest monastery in Ubon Province, near Bung Wai Village. He was born as a person with deafness and dumbness. His family are living in the village. In the beginning he came to the monastery very often. He helped the monastery in many ways—sweeping, hauling water, going alms round with the monks for carrying rice and foods for them, sometimes it was quite heavy, etc. On observant days, he sit meditation with the monks. Later he stayed at the monastery most of the time and stayed at empty kutis. Even sometime saw him wearing white clothes as pha-khao (eight-preceptor who wears white).

My emphasis here is even though he was an ahetuka person carrying some wholesome kammas with him to this life. If we contemplate them with the blessings mentioned in the Maṅgala Sutta and will find some of them—such as consorting with the wise, residing in a suitable place, directing oneself rightly, etc. Among them, it is very important to guide yourself correctly in this life and into the future.

The obstacles related to past kammas are incurable in this life for these beings (these include eight human beings: one duhetuka + seven ahetukas).

  1. Ariyūpavādantariya—wrong doings to noble beings

There are four noble beings from stream enterer to arahant, and three kinds of actions—mental, verbal and bodily actions. If someone with one of any actions has done wrong to any noble being (e.g., sotāpaññā) is an obstacle in practice. This obstacle not only relates to worldlings, but also to other ariyas, e.g., sotāpaññā to sakadāgāmī. This obstacle is curable by asking forgiveness.

  1. Breaking the monastic rules

These obstacles only relate to monastics—monks and nuns only. This obstacle can be cured by confession according to specific rules.

revised on 2022-08-05

  • Content of "Two Sides of A Coin" (Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha)
  • Content of Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha and Sayadaw U Candima
  • Content of Publications of Bhikkhu Uttamo

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