Two Sides of a Coin (Dhamma Talks by Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha)


Thae Inn Gu Sayadaw U Ukkaṭṭha (1913-1973)

Translation based on the recorded tapes (Burmese) by Bhikkhu Uttamo

Burmese monks are often known by the name of the place where the Buddhist temple they preside over is located. It seems to me Thae Inn Gu monastery is a cave monastery surrounded by four lakes. This also mentioned by Sayadaw in one of his talks. Sayadaw gave a three-hour talk, referring to his life and practice. This was requested by a lay supporter for the future generation to come. Sayadaw’s talk was as follows:

He was born in 1913 at Naw-gon village in Maw-be town area. At his time, it did not have modern school system in most villages. So, most village children of boys and girls attended the monastery school, where the monks taught them reading and writing. In the beginning he said that when he was going very lazy to attend the village monastery school and not interested in learning. And very often he ran away from school. Even he could not recite the Maṅgala Sutta which most village children would do. He was also afraid of speaking to the monk because monks had influence and respect by villagers. At the age of 14, he told his father not wanting to study and after six months he took a wife. (Later in this talk, Sayadaw mentioned that he had two wives). This was a Karen wife from the village. The Karen is the 2nd larger ethnic group in Burma.

“In the past, I only relied on kamma (i.e., the law of action) and especially on the wholesome merit of dāna (giving). I had done a lot of them before. It’s not the real refuge. After one has done his kammas, he will experience suffering (dukkha). The concepts of Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha can’t do anything for us. Now, for the present, I only rely on the real Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha (the term "real" here refers to the paramattha—exact Buddha, Dharma and Saṅgha.) Even conventional Dhamma can’t send one to heavenly realm. Dying with a concept (i.e., a wrong view) is more likely to become a hell, an animal, and a ghost. With the wholesome results arise, we receive the happiness of human and deity. With the unwholesome results, we fall into the plane of misery (apāya). The Buddha taught us not to think about the past, the present and the future. For 46 years I had relied on the stone images of the Buddha, the Shwe-ta-gon Pagoda, the Dhamma in the piṭaka (Buddhist Text Books) and the ordinary saṅgha of the conventional world. When I understand the truth and only rely on the real Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha of the supramundane reality (lokuttara province). But before you reach to the other shore (i.e., Nibbāna Element, from sotāpanna to arahant) don’t reject on kamma (actions) and the conventional truth. There are two provinces of truth—convention and reality (sammuti-sacca and paramattha-sacca).

In the past before not knowing these things I only relied on kamma. If I had died at that time, I would have definitely met dukkha. At the time of death, the Buddha can’t send us to heavenly and brahma-god realm, and to Nibbāna. When the five khandhas (i.e., Mind and body) perish the stone Buddha, Shwe-ta-gon and Shwe-maw-dhaw Pagodas can’t send us to good destinations (sugati). (The Shwe-maw-dhaw Pagoda is located in Pegu (or Pagoh) and is one of the famous pagodas in Burma.) Why is that? Because all these are concepts. Therefore, you all should do a lot of wholesome kammas before arriving to the other shore. Even the saints (from sotāpanna to anāgāmi) who still have ignorance (avijjā), they are doing merit all the same.

I don’t have any book knowledge on study about the practice and its result. But I have completed in regard to practice and its result. When I was contemplating the khandha (i.e., mind and body), the samādhi light was shining on it and wisdom analysing it as this is mind, body, wholesome and unwholesome Dhammas, etc. And then the path knowledge (i.e., The Noble Eightfold Path) made the decision on it. On practice I know all the mind states (i.e., mind with mental states). Before I believed in the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha and building monastery making merits. It is dependent on kamma, and if its results are not arisen at the time of death, then it will still sink in misery.

In his youth, he was a rough and tough guy, but had good nature. He had sympathy and concern for others. If someone came and asked for help, he would help people as much as he could. If he lent money to people and never asked the money back (easily let go of things). He never observed the precepts (sīla) but never took people lives (these are related to his life as a robber). He had done a lot of dāna and built a monastery in his village. After finishing the monastery, the monks invited him for the merit ceremony, but he rejected it and said as it was enough. So, he had a sharp mind and determined nature. (it makes me remember Mogok Sayadaw’s talks on the character of someone who has the view of annihilation).

He had committed some crimes (maybe robbing, but Sayadaw not mentioned it), and was put into jail for seven years. This happened around 1934 or 1935 when he was 21. It was close to the 2nd world war in 1941, the Japanese Army entered Burma from the south via Kanchanaburi west of Bangkok, Thailand. In 1942 Rangoon had fallen into the Japanese Army. Sayadaw told about his life during the prison years as followed.

First, he was sent to Oak-pho prison, which may be not far from his birthplace. And then moved to Hanzada prison and Bassein prison, which were in the delta area. Bassein prison was a labour prison, and he had to weave 16 mattresses per day. From there he was moved to Maok-palin prison, which also a labour camp. There he had to break rocks into the sizes of pebble eight dins per day.

(This is a Burmese measurement for rice and beans, one din = six cans of condensed milk, eight dins=48 tin cans of condensed milk.)

That is a big number. It was quite a rough and tiresome task, and he had to break the dynamited rock fragments into pebble size. Sometimes it hit the bodily parts, especially legs, and became injuries and wounds. If someone could give the money, he can stop to do it, or reduce the numbers. This was a prison in lower Burma. When the Japanese Army arriving in Burma he was in hope for freedom, instead he and the other prisoners were moved to Mandalay prison in central Burma. Their ankles were shackled with iron chains and sent by train to Mandalay.

After three months in the prison, all the prisoners were free because of the war and Japanese air force bombing Mandalay city. He and other six companions walked to the east of Yan-kin Taung (i.e., a well-known hill rage at near Mandalay city, it is also a spiritual place for practitioners). There they met some Buddhist yogis who had taken refuge there to escape the bombing. They were fed and spent the night at the place. In the morning, a Chinese Buddhist gave them each seven kyats (the currency of Burma). They resumed their journey towards Sel-taw-gyi area (means Big Canal) which was in the west of Yan kin Taung.

They arrived at Big Canal in the afternoon and took a rest near a village called Forty Miles Village which had a ceti named Shwe-tha-lyaung (Reclining Buddha). Furthermore, they took a nap under a mango tree and woke up in the evening. A rich man from Mitthila City met them. He had a house in the village and came here for temporary to escape the war from Mitthila (Mitthila is in the south of Mandalay and a big city and has a big lake which also has the same name.) He was looking for someone who could help him to go and get the money and some gemstones which were left behind at his big house in Mitthila. Likewise, he was observing seven of them and preferred U Aung Tun (Sayadaw’s lay name) among them. According to Sayadaw, the Mitthila Boss chose him because he said very little and kept quiet. He invited all of them to his house for the night. At night, the boss came to see U Aung Tun and spoke to him. He told him that the time was not very safety, and he could encounter dukkha. So, he told him to stay here for a while, and when the Japanese army arrived in Mandalay, he would send him back to Rangoon by Japanese train. U Aung Tun thought that if he met dukkha, he would never see his parents again. Therefore, he agreed to leave behind.

In the morning, the other six continued their journey, and the boss gave them some money. According to Sayadaw these men’s mind was also unwholesome. They had a plan of robbing and killing people on the way. In the end, they met with death themselves. In the evening, the boss came and gave the news to him. He said that these six men encountered some villagers at a place called Small River (Myit-nge). The villagers were waiting for released prisoners who would come to their place. Because sometime before, some released prisoners attacking and robbing them when they arrived here. They arrested these six men and bound their hands behind their backs and threw them all into the river. He confirmed to say that if U Aung Tun went with them would meet the same fate. Myit-nge River is passing through Amarapura area and Mogok Sayadaw’s birthplace is on the bank of this river. U Aung Tun stayed with the boss for three months, and when Mandalay became calm down again, the boss took him to Mittila. (The British Army and government staffs retreated to upper Burma when the Japanese Army advancing.)

The boss had two houses there, one of the houses was destroyed by bomb and only with the walls were intact. The other house had two safes, and the one in the kitchen was opened and empty. U Aung Tun was using an axe demolished the wall behind the safe which was in the guest room and took out some money and gemstones it could be filled a tin can. The boss gave him 700 dollars (kyats) with some clothes and put him on a train to Rangoon. From there he arrived back to his home in Maw-be.

Sayadaw said that he had two wives (as U Aung Tun), one in the village and the other in Rangoon (this one was a Burmese woman). At village, he did farming and in Rangoon doing nothing.

(Maybe sometime he did the robbing if the chances arose to help his companions. We will see one of these incidents later).

He stayed at each place for a month. When he was in Yangon, he was always with some of his friends, and it was difficult for him to be without them. He was used to it. Sayadaw did not say what he was doing with them. It could be that he was drinking intoxicants and gambling with these people. His wife disappointed with these situations.

One day, his wife got angry with him (probably because of an argument) and went to a meditation retreat for seven days. This was Min-goon Meditation Center which taught the Mahāsi system of dry insight. The meditation teacher was a layman named Sayagyi U Myat Thein Tun, he was a disciple of Min-goon Thathon Jetavana Sayadaw who was also the teacher of Mahāsi Sayadaw. U Aung Tun also heard about that he was teaching the system of touching, touching; hearing, hearing; etc. When the body touching another part of body and knowing as—knowing, knowing. Maybe he got this misinformation from his friends. After his wife had come back from retreat, he asked her about these things. His wife’s response was it was the teaching by a Buddhist monk. U Aung Tun knew that he was insulting his wife and the monk and asking forgiveness from her. Here we know U Aung Tun’s strong saddhā and respect on the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha.

The second time when she came back from retreat and brought a book with her. This was a Dhamma book on Soon Loon Sayadaw’s Biography and his teachings. She asked him to read this book and told him that Sayadaw was a farmer before, and with the practice, he became an arahant. When he read a few pages of the book on ānāpāna practice, a strong pīti (rapture) arose in his body and mind. With this strange experience, he decided that he must realize Dhamma if he practiced. So, he wrapped the book with a new paper and kept it in a drawer. It's been in the drawer for two years. Another strange thing that happened to him was the two observant days (uposatha), the full moon and the new moon. On these occasions, every early morning (mostly before the sun arises or the dawn periods) a Nibban Sor was going every street reminding and urging Buddhists to get up early doing the Dhamma duties of the day to come. Nibban Sor can be one person or two people. If there is only one person, he will carry a small Burmese Dhamma bell which has flat shape and made of brass iron hanging with string on the top of the bell. The other hand carries a wooden hammer. He will chant some Dhamma verses in Pāli or in Burmese with a louder voice to remind and urge people to get up early doing pujas, bhāvanā, preparing foods for the saṅgha, etc., and then he will strike the bell. If there are two persons, on their shoulders, they carry a pole with a bigger bell hanging in the middle of it. The one in the back has to strike the bell. When U Aung Tun heard the sound of the Dhamma bell and the Dhamma chanting it made him strong rapture arising.

[Note on Nibban Sor: This is a very old Buddhist tradition and even we can trace it source as far as to the Buddha Kassapa’s time. Most Burmese Buddhists heard about Mahādug (the short form of Mahāduggata), a very poor man. One day there was an offering to the Buddha and his saṅgha and a Nibban Sor went to every part of the city to inform the people. He met Mahāduggata on the street, and he urged Mahāduggata to make an offering. Even though he had no money and gave the promise to offer dāna for one Bhikkhu. So, he worked harder on that day. But Nibban Sor thought that Mahāduggata could not offer for a saṅgha therefore he did not put him on the list. When the time came Mahāduggata went to the monastery for a saṅgha. Only the Buddha was without a donor. Everyone there was expecting for the Enlightened one. On that day the Buddha entered the state of Nirodha-samāpatti. When he came out with the bowl, he handed it to Mahāduggata. The day onwards he became a rich man. This was the past life story of novice Pandita who was seven years old arahant. This practice may now be extinct in Burma. This practice is connecting with appamāda—heedfulness. It should be maintained in the Buddhist communities as a Dhamma practice and duty. I have seen a lot of benefits from it.]

One day an incident changed U Aung Tun’s life totally. That day, one of his friends came to him for help, because he needed some money. So, he and two men went to rob a house that night. Usually, he never wore a hat, but luckily on that day wore a thick hat. At that time, he had no desire for the task but anyhow he wanted to help his friend. In an area they saw a house in a compound with the front door was opened. They went in, and suddenly it was raining and came out again. They walked a distance for some time and returned to the same place. Likewise, they entered the same house again. Usually, U Aung Tun held a gun and entered a house, but this time he did it blindly. When arriving inside, a man holding a long knife struck him on the head and suddenly, he fell down with his buttocks hitting the floor. But the man was holding the knife and looking at him instead of another strike. The other two pulled him up and ran out for their lives. It seems to me the man in the house saw their suspicious behaviors in the house and waiting for them with his knife. According to Sayadaw, the knife cut through two or three finger lengths (it could include with the thickness of the hat). One of the two friends took him to his house to spend the night and treated his injury. Six days later, even before he had fully recovered from the knife wound to his head, he told his wife that he would return to the village and does the practice. His wife was very glad about it and gave him a lot of encouragement. Sayadaw said that his wife at Kamayut (i.e., in Rangoon) was the main person who guided him to the practice.

U Aung Tun returned to his home village with the book he kept in a drawer two years ago. He observed the nine precepts from the village monk and shut himself up in a small room of the monastery sīmā. On day 5, he frequently fell to the ground from a sitting position due to changes in the four elements of his body and severe pain. He had to repay his negative kammic debts. Only the practicing yogis know about these things. Some people suffer a great deal from the element of heat (heat element) when they are on the verge of death, and this kind of element is what will kill him. U Aung Tun was very tough and determined person, he would not change his body and posture. He would follow the dukkha vedanā (the feeling of pain) until finally even he fell down. After that, he would resume his sitting posture again. On the 9th day, he returned to his home and observed the eight precepts. In this talk, Sayadaw did not mention his first realization (i.e., Sotāpanna). In a biography after his death, however, it is mentioned that the first realization was on the 6th day of his practice—12th September 1959.

Sayadaw continued his practice at home, where he often sat under the Sae-yoe tree (the name of a tree in Burma) in the garden of his eldest sister, Daw Bwa Sein. In the afternoon he went to the cemetery of Naw-gon Village where no-one could disturb him. After he had overcome the painful feeling (dukkha vedanā) he increased his effort for seven days in day and night without taking food. During sittings, many mosquitoes and gnats bit his whole body, and his white clothes were stained with blood. Maw-be area was very well-known for its mosquito bite.

After a month and three days (i.e., start from the beginning of the practice) by transcending the samādhi state, he arrived at vipassanā. Sayadaw mentioned his direct experience by reciting the Pāli words from the First Discourse—i.e., cakkhuṁ udapādi, ñāṇaṃ udapādi—vision arise, and knowledge arise. Then he talked about discerning of impermanence. “Mind and body are perishing as the boiling water, or broken apart like a big foam of water. Therefore, the body shape and concept disappear. And then the khandha element (i.e., body) reappear again as a serious wound. It is filled with white worms and is eaten by many worms—as I am seeing its arising and passing away by their eating. Later the body becomes bloated and rotten like a 10 or 15 day old corpse. Even I can hear its sounds with the ear. The putrid body liquid is flowing out from it, and also seeing the intestines and lung inside. After that it is burnt by fire and all apart. By seeing all these events arising and passing away one by one, it reduces my sensual desire and lust (kāmarāga). It happens at day and night. If I look at someone, be it a man or a woman; all I see is its ugliness, and there is no beauty to be found. Whatever I am looking only seeing in these ways. At that time, I was in the stage of once returner (sakadāgāmī). I didn’t know about it at the time. Only later by reflection I knew it. (His second realization was on 10th October 1959. At this stage he could see and know other things with the samādhi power. This was recorded in his biography.) After over a month, I returned to Kamayut (i.e., in Rangoon).”

After three days had passed and a misfortune was fallen on him. Two crime inspectors came to his place and arrested him. It was the year of 1960, and it could be the period the military took control of the country for temporarily as a government because of instability around the country. Sayadaw mentioned this incident as followed:

“From Naypyidaw (that referred to the capital city) crime inspectors U Ko Ko Lay and U Maung Ko came to arrest me. My kammic debt (i.e., misfortune) is not finished yet. They searched my home and did not find anything which they were looking. So, they took me to follow them; and on the way, U Ko Ko Lay asked me, "Do you practice meditation?" I answered him; "Yes." He asked me again; "Do you know U Ba Yin?" At that time, I was only concerned with discerning the impermanence and answered him, "I don't know this person." His response was “You was practicing Dhamma and telling lie.” We arrived at the crime inspection center, and Colonel Kyi Win was questioning me. After that, he told the officers to question me. That was asking them to beat me. They sent me to Insein Prison. (This is a well-known prison in Rangoon to question and torture criminals.) There, inspector Hla Myint was interrogating me. At the time my samādhi was good; discerning impermanence (his practice was on the way to anāgāmi), and I knew it. I have the kammic debt to pay. He asked me where the gun and the looted property were.

I answered him as “I don’t know anything” He said to me “If you don’t tell the truth you must die” My response was “This is up to you.”

U Aung Tun was handcuffed from behind and bound with rope around the arms. They put him down with his back on a wooden platform which was six inches thick. His two legs were also bound with rope. Two men controlled him at the head and the other two at the legs. Inspector Hla Myint sat on U Aung Tun’s stomach. They covered his face with a wet cloth and pouring water on it. Water went into his mouth, and it was quite unbearable. It was also difficult to breathe under the water, making a wah-wah-wah sound. Because of his samādhi power, U Aung Tun could bear it. With the practice of insight by seeing anicca after the ending of it and became quite (it could be in the fruition state—phala). Hla Myint thought that I was in coma. I was not in coma, the water went in and the stomach rising up. When my stomach was full of water, Hla Myint with his buttocks pounded on my stomach four or five times and all the water came out from the mouth. If I was like I used to be, I went into a rage. This time I didn't get angry. I suffered because of my karmic debt, only this mental state. For a month they could not get any confession from him and sent him back to Naypyidaw. Hla Myint told Colonel Kyi Win “I think it was a mistake. We can’t get any information from him.” Inspector U Ko Ko Lay was dissatisfied with it and wanting to do the questioning again. Kyi Win asked me, “I heard that you were bad before.” I answered him that I was bad before and not now and practicing Dhamma. Colonel Kyi Win asked them to free me, but U Ko Ko Lay did not want to free me. So, he sent U Aung Tun to Kamayut Police Station and put him in a cell. He is being arranged to have him sent to a distant prison. The police officer of the Kamayut Police Station knew U Aung Tun and sent him to Rangoon Prison. After seven days passed, Colonel Kyi Win freed him from the prison.

As soon as U Aung Tun was free and going back to his village. He asked his family members (brothers and sisters) to build a Kuti for him, and he would do the practice. They build the kuti in the Hte-yo woods—the base has eight pillars and the floor has six planks, forming a square. U Aung Tun interpreted it as—eightfold paths, six elements and four noble truths. He made a determination that because I must realize Dhamma and I would try to practice hard without rising from his seat.

“I am seeing the dissolution of the phenomena. However, I still cannot distinguish between paññatti (concept) and paramattha (ultimate reality). The body becomes putrid and bloated, burn with fire. These are concepts appearing in the mind. So, it’s not free from the concept yet. After some time, free from the mental factor of the concept and the concept of solidity and shape disappear, and it becomes fine particles. And then l only see the dissolution of the atomic paramattha matter. With them the desire of seeing, hearing, smell, … knowing mind not arise. It’s still not crossing into the path knowledge of a non-returner (anāgāmi) yet. I sat a lot, it is not very good on the release of my stomach. I go to the toilet only once every seven or ten days, and it makes me painful. One day I went inside the bamboo forest to release my stomach. With the contemplation of strong feeling arising in the body and it came to the ending of it.

[It was on 15th March 1960 and with the realization came the knowledge of seeing the six heavenly realms, the twenty brahma god realms and many hell existences up to the great hell (mahā-avici). This was in his biography.]

After the ending of saṅkhāra—conditioned phenomena. The mind went up to the sky and three to five minutes later it fell down again with the whole body became tense and stiff.

(We cannot interpret it literally; the mind can’t go here and there. This is a wrong view of a soul. The mind inclining towards somewhere. Later we can see this kind of expression with Sayadaw U Candima’s experience of Jhāna.)

With the reviewing knowledge that I know the realization of Nibbāna. With this knowledge I’ll become a Brahmā god if I die. With continuous reviewing I know that I will take rebirth in the highest pure abode—akaniṭṭha brahma. Before death, the noble path knowledge incline towards brahma god realm (these words relate to the 2nd sentence above). The unwholesome mental state or unwholesome mind (akusala citta) will incline towards painful realms (apāyabhūmi—such as hells, animals and hungry shades). I review my future birth with the knowledge and seeing the sandy area of Thae Inn Gu which is surrounding by four lakes at my village. There are other visions—a stupa, a vihāra, and my body in a glass coffin. I tell my family members (mother and brother—sister) about a golden stupa, the vihāra and this place becomes a town with high road.

I continued my practice and one night a brahma-god came and asked me to take the monastic robes (i.e., become a monk). I told him as I wouldn’t and asked him to leave. Sakka—the king of 33 gods and other brahmā-gods also came and requested me. “I don’t want to be in robes. This is up to me.” So, I asked them to leave. Next time, when they came and made a request, I told my mother and brother that this was the time for me to ordain as a monk. Yogi U Su Ya in Maw-be town sponsored my ordination. Many people know my struggle in the practice, but some don’t believe it (because he was quite bad in the past, had bad reputation in Maw-be area and was fear by rich men.) He practiced quite hard and becoming thin and bony. “I was bitten by mosquito and gnats, and my white clothes were stained with red blood. Because of Dhamma rapture and happiness (pīti and sukha) I could bear it. With patience (khanti), I can practice not missing anything. If people practice in this way, they will also be able to achieve it. Some friends were telling me that I would die in this way. Even my yogis (yogis in his meditation center) can’t bear the mosquitoes’ bite and changing their bodies. They are obstructed by diṭṭhi (i.e., self-view). How can they attain the Dhamma? If the ants are moving on their bodies and in closed eyes, they sweep it away with the hands.”

“After ordaining (i.e., 12th March 1961), I went alms-round and offered them to the monks. According to the monastic rules, there are duties of a monk. For example, cleaning the temple compound and burning leaves or garbage, but there are ants and other insects in there. If we ask laypeople to do it, it will be like killing them too. In this case, it is best to do it by yourself. I have abandoned the defilement of sensual desire (kilesa-kāma) of the six senses of doors (as a non-returner). Defilements are arising from these senses of doors. Therefore, I want to keep the mind on it original state, if not it affects the mind. If seeing something, and it becomes the five aggregates (khandha). I am afraid of it by knowing these things. Can a secular person know these things? The minds arising from the six senses of doors are leaded to suffering, and could a worldling knows it?”

(Here we can know the mind states of an anāgāmi and layman Visākhā is a very good example. U Kyaw Din—i.e., Soon Loon Sayadaw lay name, after becoming anāgāmi, he had a lot of difficulties and suffering to live with his wife.)

She also did not let him ordain as a novice. If we study the teachings of Mogok Sayadawgyi on paṭiccasamuppāda, we will know or understand these things very clear and profoundly. If you don’t know about the mind, don’t check it. If you want to do it, then simply check your own mind, otherwise it will harm oneself.

“After ordaining and it’s not good for my mind to stay here .” One day when he saw the assistant abbot was painting the monastery and advised him to ask a layman for the job. His response was “I was doing for the wholesome merit (saṅkhāra kusala dhamma)” It’s all right, he wants merit. But I don’t want it (It doesn’t mean ariyans would not do things to benefit to others.) When my teacher came back (the abbot) I asked him permission for going somewhere to practice. I also talked to him my situation here. Now I have attained three path knowledges that my seeing and knowing consciousness are changed. From stream enterer to non-returner are speaking in concepts. These referred to the changing levels of seeing and knowing.” He got permission from his teacher.

He wanted to go to Toon-tay forest, which is near a small town of the same name (not very far from Rangon). Then, he went to Maw-be town with only three robes and a bowl. He went to Dayaka U Su-ya for a train ticket (not handling money). The Dayaka requested him to leave next day. Because he wanted to offer him dāna (rice and foods). “I have to go there by train because I don’t possess the super-normal power (abhiññā). At the time of the Buddha, they ate vegetarian foods that people could get it. Nowadays, people eat meat and the body becomes heavy. In practice there is strong pain arising, and the body can’t bear it and at near abhiññā it falls back. The last period of the Buddha Sāsana people can’t get abhiññā.”

[It is interesting how Sayadaw or where he got this information. Even the commentary mentioned that there could be no tevijja (i.e., triple knowledge) arahants this time. It's not true, and we can't take it at face value. We have some records of the psychic abilities of We-bu Sayadaw.]

“Between 8 and 9 p.m., my spiritual faculties became balanced, and the final knowledge of the path arose (i.e., 20th May 1961). I had previously promised Danaka U Su-ya that I would inform him if I had completed my practice, as he had asked me to do before. Therefore, I told him what happened to my practice. I also informed my family about it and asking them to find a place for me, so that I can spend my whole rain retreat there (vassa). Furthermore, I tell them as I’ll not accept any invitation, making merit for the dead and offerings. Likewise, I’ll keep with my practice. I have spent my whole vassa with peace and happiness. At the place of Thae Inn Gu, they built a small kuti for me. I go for alms round but if raining I don’t go then shut the inside door. There is another larger kuti near my place and my mother stays there. So, if mother comes and asking me, I don’t even open it for her. I don't practice Dhamma for others; I just practice for myself because a strong sense of urgency (saṃvega) arises. I don’t practice it out of greed for money. If I want money, I will do the robbing. After the vassa in November between one and two a.m. in the early morning three men came toward my kuti. They were wearing white clothes and bowing in front of me. Reviewing with my knowledge. I found out that they were brahma gods. I asked the reason for their coming here. They requested me for teaching Dhamma. I told them that I was illiterate and couldn’t give talks. But they were pressing me to do it. After that, they asked consent and left the place.”

After they had left, Sayadaw went down to Thae Inn Gu area and when he stood there the earth trembled on the spot. He knows that it was the place for spreading the Dhamma.

After some time, Sayadaw’s mother and brother went to Mahāsi Center, Soon Loon Center and Min-goon Center, and they told them about him. They told them of a village monk whose practice was quite noteworthy. So, they requested them to check his knowledge by using the piṭaka textbooks. But no center responded to their request. At last, they and Sayadaw went to see Tham-Lynn Sayadaw, who was a well-known scholar and meditation teacher of that time. He could speak six languages and wrote a book named “Ladder of Vipassanā Knowledge” (This is a book criticizing on some systems of that time). “We went to see him because he was also a meditator. I have not any knowledge on textbooks, so he pats an object with his hand near him. And then, he asks me; “What is this?” I answer him as “It stays as it is.” He is dissatisfied with my answer. I explain to him, “In a blink of an eye, I saw the mind vanished hundred thousand billion times and matter disappeared at the rate of five thousand billion times. If you take them as seeing it and it becomes a concept, also as vanishing is a concept. My mind just stops at seeing only (not more). There is no vanishing and knowing it. I am just stopping at it. It stays as it is. Do I hear the sound (the patting sound)? Yes, I hear. I don’t know the sound vanishes. I am staying at just hearing (but not more). When the smell contact with the nose and take it as smell is a concept, as vanishing is a concept. There is no smelly vanishing. It’s just smelling. At eating the taste is concept, sweet is concept. It stays at just tasting. Therefore, my answer means “It stays as it’s” If still knowing it as vanishing will get birth—jāti. The vanishing phenomena in me are in the state of cessation. (This statement is profound.) Tham-lynn Sayadaw exclaimed, “I understand it now.” And then, the problem was solved.

“I am talking the Dhamma which I have attained and not from the books. Can’t you learn it from books? The child can learn it also. To understand about the khandhas you have to practice for getting it. The Dhamma for attainment is only get by practice.”

[Sayadaw’s talk on his life and practice end here. His answer to Tham-lynn Sayadaw’s test is interesting. It is simple, direct and profound. Furthermore, it represents what an arahant mind is. This is a mind without any attachment. Without any attachment and there is no birth. This is a pure mind. Some traditions interpret as the arahant still had defilement and selfish, it is nonsense at all. In the talks of Mogok Sayadaw, he taught the meditation which the Buddha gave to Bāhiya Dārucīriya and Mālunkyāputta. His interpretation on this meditation was quite different from others. He said that in the whole Nikāyas only Bāhiya and Mālunkyāputta had this instruction—i.e., just stop at seeing, hearing, etc. Therefore, it was difficult for everyone practiced in this way. This is similar to the arahant mind.]

Note: In the following, three talks by Thae Inn Gu Sayadaw are included. The first one was delivered in 1964 at University Dhamma Sāla. The others were at Mye-ni-gon Dhamma Sāla in 1968. All these talks are without titles and all relate to his experiences in practice. The first talk on the practice of stream enterer to arahant, the second on stream enterer and the third to arahant. Usually, monks never talk about their practices, even if they talk these are only in general. Here Sayadaw himself and Sayadaw U Candima are the exception.


revised on 2022-02-13


  • 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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