Eighteen Days in Solitude-- Instructional Dhamma Talks in Retreat (Full Text)
revised on 2021-10-21
By Venerable U Ādiccaramsī ; The translator: Bhikkhu Uttamo
Venerable U Ādiccaramsī (1937-2002) Portrait
Namo tassa Bhagvato arahato Sammā sambuddhassa
“Eighteen Days in Solitude” is not a famous novel like “The Hundred Days in Solitude” for entertainment, which you can't take anything with you after death. These were the instructional Dhamma talks on Samatha-Vipassanā practice. It was given in the year of 2002 during the 18 days retreat in Rangoon. Ven. U Ādiccaramsī, the meditation teacher was not well-known outside Burma either. But he was well-known in Burma as an author and Dhamma teacher; an interesting and colorful man in his life.
The following short biography came from two of his books, the famous and best seller, “The Story of a Man Who has Faith and Taken Refuge in the Triple Gems”. The second book was “A Man Walking on the Path of Spiritual Knowledge”, and from some of his talks. This short biography is not promoting the identity view which all Buddhists should be abandoned, but for a reflection on Dhamma. There were many things we can learn from his life. The Buddha always emphasized on wisdom (paññā). Without wisdom or wisdom faculty, human beings, out of ignorance and craving create a lot of problems in life, and in societies around the world.
He was born in 1937 as Sun Lwin in the south-western part of Burma. Being the only son to a Muslim parent, so when he was young, he was forced by his father to be educated by the Koran. He never easily accepted anything with blind faith without knowing them clearly. His father appointed a good teacher for Koran teaching. Because of his intelligent and philosophical mind always questioned about the existence of God and the Creation. He asked questions to his teacher who wouldn’t give the proper answers to satisfy his mind. At last he said to his father that he wouldn’t accept any religions without knowing clearly. (Here we can see the importance of free inquiry and direct experience which the Buddha always encouraged in the Kalama Sutta and others. Even with intelligence, human beings are not wise enough so that create a lot of human problems in today world.) This made his father very angry and later it broke up the family apart. After finishing his high school, he went to Rangoon. He worked at day time in a government office and studied at a night time university. There he met a Christian woman and fell in love with her. Out of love he wanted to become a Christian and studied Christianity (Lust is stronger than faith. Here was the same God and Creation). After over three years, with different views and feelings, they were separated. And then his mother arranged a Muslim woman for him. He married this woman out of respect for his mother. In his last year of B.A degree, he moved to Rangoon University and continued the study on Philosophy. For this purpose he resigned his job as a government staff and taught as a teacher at night-time schools.
From that period, he started writing romantic short stories. With his interest and sharp mind passed his B.A degree with distinction in Philosophy on Ethics. This was the first time happened in the history of Philosophy Department. He continued his M.A degree and taught as a tutor at the Department. As a Philosophy teacher he was an atheist and influenced by Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-Tung Thought or communist literatures. He didn’t have a happy family life and it became degenerated and ended up with divorce (There were some reasons behind this. The most important one was the fanatic view of his Muslim wife). Later he met another young Buddhist Chinese woman who was one of his students. He married her because she resembled his first love whom he couldn’t forget (The main cause was they had strong kammic link from their past lives).
One day his teacher Professor Dr. U Khin Maung Win (Yale University graduate, later he became the Educational Minister) gave him an assignment for writing a textbook on Buddhist Ethic in Burmese. As a curriculum for students in Philosophy, he was already success in writing books and a bright person, but didn’t know much about Buddhism except in the Philosophy books. This was a great turning point in his life. This was also a very strange case because there were other Buddhist teachers in the Department. He came from the Muslim family and didn’t know much about Buddhism. The working of kamma was inconceivable. He had strong kammic link with Buddhism in his past lives.
So, he studied and researched diligently for many months with Buddhist texts in English and Burmese. Near the end of his research, his teacher told him to stop the project. The reason was his teacher wanted to send him to Northern Burma, the Kachin State as the head of philosophy Department, and an assistant lecturer. Even though he didn’t has the chance for writing the textbook, but gained the priceless knowledge of Buddhism. During these periods, he wrote some books on Philosophy; “ABC of Philosophy”, “Philosophers of the World”, “Chinese Philosophers”, “Russian Philosophers”, “Einstein”(a biography in two volumes), etc. He also studied world religions and wrote a book on world religions. With the knowledge on religions, he preferred Buddhism to more than others. But still he was not becoming a Buddhist yet. Because he still couldn’t accept the idea of rebirth and need to verify it. Later he encountered evidences for rebirth and the law of Kamma.
It mentioned an incident on rebirth in his second book on his life, “A Man Walking on the Path of Spiritual Knowledge”. As a young boy in the primary school, one day the teacher taught about Taunggnoo History (round about 14th or 15th century). The teacher told the story of a Burmese King from Ava (Inwa) Kingdom attacked the Kingdom of Taunggnoo (it was recorded in the history book). At the end of the story, he suddenly cried. The teacher asked him the reason. He only said to her that in his past life he was a Buddhist. In the evening after back home and told his mother what had happened. At that time he was the king of Ava and with the help of his teacher, a Burmese monk named Phamei Sayadaw conquered Taunggnoo kingdom. He told his mother in details of the episode. This was remembering one of his past lives as a young boy.
Another incident was happening around 1971 or 1972, and he was still a teacher in Rangoon University. A spirit possessed a spirit worshipper and wanted to meet him. At that time he was a materialist (influenced by communism) and rejected to see the spirit and took them as nonsense. After some days passed by, the spirit possessed again to the same man and requested to see him and wanted to give him something. He rejected it again, but this time his wife persuaded him to go and see what would happen. As soon as he was arriving to the spirit house, the spirit possessed the same man instantly and told him about the story.
She was a kind of vemānika peta (a kind of earthly supernatural spirit) and his daughter in past life. At that time he was a king in Shan State (something like a māhāraja in India). After she passed away in that life and born as a vemānika peta and looked after the treasures they left behind. He didn’t believe what she said and asked her to show him the evidences. So, the spirit with her psychic power gave him some ancient silver coins with a peacock symbol and letters on it in front of them via the possessed man. These ancient silver coins were from the time of the last Burmese Kingdom, i.e., Mandalay Era. The spirit granted him for other wishes and he asked for some ancient Buddha images. After a week passing by, they met again. This time the spirit gave him nine ancient Buddha images and some were made with gold.. As a vemānika peta, she was searching for him. She asked permission from him to become his daughter again. (Beings have strong attachment to each other.) She made a prediction to him that after she was born and he would resign his job as a university teacher. This youngest daughter was born to him in 1972 and later he also resigned his job as a teacher.
After resigned his post as a teacher and he entered the movie films business. He studied books on movie art and then directed some movie films and opened classes for acting. One day during a class lecture on acting, a group of five persons were acting wrongly. So, he asked them to look into his eyes and talked to them how to do it. And then these people fell into the subconscious states. He was surprised and did not know what to do with them. But instantly he remembered that they were in the hypnotic states. He had been written a book on hypnotic before by reading some books on them. Now, he used this chance to make a test. He ordered them to cry and they cried. Asked them to laugh and laughing heartedly. Now knowing that he had this ability and from that day onwards he hypnotized people if had any chance. And also found out that he could cure their past lives related diseases which medicines had no effects. (This point is very well known in the west nowadays. Some psychologists and medical doctors had made researches and already written some books on them.)
One time he hypnotized one of his old university students. This male student in the hypnotic state told his past life which had connection with him. So, he was very interested and asked more information from him. He said that in that period he was their teacher and teaching on the art of warfare. And he had three daughters and the youngest one was now his present wife. It was a great shock for him, like a hammer hitting on his head. He couldn’t believe it. So, he had to try again with another student who was mentioned by the first student. This student also mentioned the same episode in the hypnotic state. He still unsatisfied with the result and wanted to try on his wife. At first his wife was rejected for sometimes. In the end he succeeded and in the hypnotic state also she confirmed the same episode as mentioned by the two students.
He continued to ask her where about in her last life from this life. In her last life, she was the daughter of a well-known traditional doctor in a city in Burma. Later she ordained as a nun. So, it was easy for him to make inquiries by following the story. After some inquiries, it was confirmed what she had said before. It solved his doubts on rebirth and the law of kamma. During the periods of his treatments to illnesses with hypnotism and made records of them with the photos of these people, later he wrote a book about them. Publication censor-board did not allow to publish this book. [It's quite a strange censorship by a Buddhist government. Even western scientists were making researches about rebirths (for them was reincarnations) quite a long time ago and they confirmed it also. These are not superstitions and even helping to understand rebirths and law of kamma which are important for Buddhism. The education on law of Kamma and Rebirth are very important for human knowledge.]
Later he became a Buddhist and wrote a book on his life, entitled “The Story of a Man Who has Faith and Taken Refuge in the Triple Gems.” It came out in 1989 and became a best seller book in Burma. Reprinted quite a few times and made him rich and very well known. It had four volumes; volume I “Three World Religions and Sun Lwin”, volume II “World Philosophy and Sun Lwin, volume III “The Buddhist Texts and Sun Lwin” and volume IV “On the Way to Perfection and Sun Lwin”. The Volume IV has six chapters, which are subtitled as follows:
With the sub-titled chapters in volume IV, we can justify the popularity of this autobiography. The whole book can give the readers many tastes of feeling which are romantic, philosophy, science, religion, and spiritual, etc. The third volume ended up with his desire to walk the bodhisatta path. During his periods of following the bodhisatta way, he was associated with people who were practicing the worldly Dhamma, such as mantras, mandalas, for long life and psychic power (gandhārī vijjā). So, he was misleading by these people. Because of following the bodhisatta way, he only practiced samatha and never vipassanā. Later he reflected his desire and vow carefully after reading some books about the bodhisatta path, both Theravada and Mahayana. And he found out that he didn’t have any qualities of them mentioned there in the Theravada texts.
One day he went to Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s Centre for ten days retreat. And he penetrated the four Noble Truths with direct experience, let go of his desire for the bodhisatta path. Described this experience in his last book, “Walking on the Path of Spiritual Knowledge” (came out in 2003). Later he gave up his wealth and family and ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1994. His ordination had two purposes: continuing his practice and giving lectures on Dependent Origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda) around Burma. The last purpose came from Mogok Sayadaw’s and Ledi Sayadaw’s teachings. After ordaining, he went to Taunggnoo, stayed in a forest and practising alone there for sometime.
Later he established a meditation centre there. Also, he was busy with moving across Burma and giving lectures on Paṭiccasamuppāda to all Buddhists who were inviting him. He was so popular that had a lot of invitations. Maybe overworked and health problems, he passed away in 2002. These instructional talks were given in 2002, from 17th October to 3rd November. It even might be his last talks. He passed away in lower Burma. In one of his talks he mentioned to end his biography by writing on his life as a monk. He did not finish his biography and would never be. But one thing is sure that he will finish his spiritual journey in the near future because he had already on the straight and right path without any hindrances anymore.
Day 01: 17th October, 2002
Namo tassa Bhagvato arahato Samma sambuddhassa
This is the first time of international vipassanā retreat in Rangoon. In the beginning of the practice, the point you should know is you can’t do things as you like to. There’re programmes. The first thing to do is satipaṭṭhāna practice. It’s based on mindfulness (sati). Sati is important for attaining Path and Fruit. Why we’re doing satipaṭṭhāna? Human beings are alive without knowing. People have been listened Paṭiccasamuppāda (Dependent Arising) before knowing this point. What is not knowing? Not knowing is avijjā (ignorance). Human beings are alive without knowing themselves. They don’t know what will happen tomorrow. They don’t know where to die. During sleeping, eating and moving around anytime even don’t know they are alive with their breathings. They don’t know the breathing with the right or left nose. It’s living without knowing anything if we think about it.
We have to know them exactly if we do vipassanā. We have to know it with the practice. The Buddha reflected as why people were doing things without knowing. They’re doing things without any sure for tomorrow. Needless to say tomorrow, they don't even know what will happen next hour; living the whole life without knowing and also dying without knowing. The Buddha reflected with his perfect wisdom (sabbaññuta ñāṇa); “Why don’t people know?” “No mindfulness (sati), so that they don’t know it.” His last words before passing away was: “Monks! Don’t be in heedlessness. Always stay with sati.” After satipaṭṭhāna, it change to vipassanā and arrive to the stage of satipaṭṭhāna bhavana. So, the whole practice has three parts. (In all these talks, sometimes he mentioned about Mogok Sayadaw’s talks. Because in the retreat he used some of Sayadaw’s teaching.)
For the first part, start from the satipaṭṭhāna. Be with sustained mindfulness to know them at the time of breathing practice. Be with the sustained sati to do the going, eating, bathing and at the toilet, etc. What are the benefits you’ll get from it? The mind becomes purified. First, giving you the eight precepts and must have the purification of the precepts (sīla). Second, with only purified sīla is not enough yet, and also make the mind to be purified (sīla only control verbal and bodily actions, so it needs to control the mind). In the mind there are lobha (greed), dosa (hatred), kilesa (defilement) exist. It has to use satipaṭṭhāna for making them reduced and purified. You can’t do vipassanā with the polluted mind.
Before it, you have to do the four stages for the purification of precept, mind, view and doubt respectively (sīla, citta, diṭṭhi and kaṅkhāvitaraṇa visuddhis). For the purification of the mind, you have to do the satipaṭṭhāna to purify the kilesa of lobha, dosa, mana and diṭṭhi. You must know the breathing with it. With practice, the yogi finds out that his mind is in a random state and begins to know about him / herself. Human mind is like a monkey mind. We before took it as we could control the mind; with the practice, and knowing that we can’t. It wants to go anywhere, so it loses control.
You have to overcome and make it calm down. For example, stabilizing a glass of water with the sediments in it, the water slowly becomes clear. It’s like binding the mind at a post and making it calming down is satipaṭṭhāna. In Burma there are two ways of practice. A yogi after arriving to the centre and teach him vipassanā method. This is not wrong and also right. Ledi Sayadaw called it sukkha vipassanā method (i.e., not practice samatha separately). It’s good for people who have the strength of sharp knowledge and strength of effort (viriya). For ordinary people who require guidance – neyya, this method is not very good. (A neyya person who was born with three wholesome roots, i.e., non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion can attain realization in this life, if practicing properly with right effort.) Ledi Sayadaw was the first person letting vipassanā well-known in Burma. I am following his system, this is vipassanā based on samatha.
Our method is samatha yānika-vipassanā. We will do the vipassanā after making the mind having strength and purified, we’ll do it with ānāpāna method. There are also other ways of using rosary beads, concentration on discs (kasiṇas), contemplation on loathsomeness (asubha), etc. Here is no need for outside objects; only to know the in breaths and out breaths. We do it with all the four postures. There are centres doing with sitting, walking, and with both. But not doing with the standing and lying down postures. We’re doing all these for balancing the postures. With walking, make the body healthy, digest the foods and strong Samādhi (Samādhi lasts longer). At first, how to contemplate in sitting? There are many kinds of sitting (āsanas) postures. You can sit comfortably as you like. With the posture you can sit longer and comfort.
Second point is straightening the back. This is important. It will become tired and painful if the spinal cord and back bones are bending (i.e., without ease and relax). It becomes comfortable and also you can sit longer if the bones are in the state of like the ice cream cone cups overlap each other systematically. After that, don’t let the head incline downwards or upwards. Put one hand on top of the other or both on the knees or on the laps with comfort. Don’t put it on the floor and will destroy the yogi’s posture. Close the eyes and pay attention at the entrance of the nose. You can also open your eyes and pay attention to the tip of the nose. When breathing in knowing the air comes into the nose. With breathing some are short and some are long breathing, each person is not the same. After the coming in air ends and wanting to breathe out arises, breathe naturally.
Is it with the right or left nose? One of the noses is usually closed. There is few to breathe with both noses. Only with one side is more often. After knowing the touching and again know the knowing mind. The mind wanting to breathe out arises. When breathing out and know it from the beginning to the end. These are touching and knowing with mindfulness (sati). What kind of problem can arise? Sometimes we don’t know about it because the mind is running away. Not staying at where we want to be. The mind is playing around on kilesa objects. It doesn’t like the normal kinds of object and following the objects it prefers.
The mind will run away if without sati. Staying with sati and not let the mind running away. If it runs away, then pull it back on to the object. Mediation is pulling back the running away mind on to the object again and again. This is called applied thought (vitakka). Practicing to know it all the time is satipaṭṭhāna and you don’t need to search for it. With sati and it comes back again. This is practising with one of the jhanic factors vitakka. Bhāvita means contemplating again and again (If not happen and make it happens and after happen make it develops). Only do this and make it stay at the spot. Making the mind calming down is called samatha (In the practice of mind development, there are two factors involve. These are bhāvita and bahulīkata. Bahulīkata means making it happening for many times. The combination of the two is similar to right effort).
For standing meditation, two feet should be nearly one foot (30 cm) or at least six inches (15 cm) apart. Two hands shouldn’t be at the sides; overlapping your two hands in front of you; holding your both arms also not good. Close your eyes and knowing the in and out breaths as before.
For lying down posture in contemplation, the body has to be flat and straight on the floor. You can lie down your back or to the side (mostly to the right side). It’s better with your back in contemplation. Two big toes must touch each other. If not touching, bind them with rubber ring. This will get it point. Place the hands at both sides or on the stomach with two hands overlap lightly. Don’t use the pillow under your head, instead a folded cloth. With sati, note the touching of the breath.
During the walking meditation, noticing of the touching and knowing of the breath at the entrance of the nostril is not possible. (In the beginning it may be difficult. Webu Sayadaw’s teaching included all postures with ānāpāna. People can try it out by themselves.) Contemplate it on the feet. It is not just walking. Normal walking is out of mindfulness (not concerning with the practice). The distance should be 20 or 30 paces (similar to the Thai forest tradition). Walk to and fro from this side to the other side. The mind concentrates on the feet. What have to do in the beginning? Every time the feet touching the ground have to know it. You must know the every touching of the right and left feet. Later you will separate them and do the contemplation. Now, just do it both together.
Sitting meditation is like climbing the mountain. For someone looking at nearby it seems to be nothing happened to the yogi. Pain and aches will arise. Should the yogi react if tormented by painful and /or hot sensations? One shouldn’t torture oneself as I don’t care about it; also shouldn’t change it very often. One shouldn’t follow one’s desire and self-mortification. You have to be in the middle way (majjhima paṭipadā). The Buddha had practiced for six years with self-mortification and didn’t realize the Dhamma. This Dhamma is not for self-mortification and must have ease with the body and mind. If following with one’s desire also can’t get Samādhi.
How to be in the balance? For example, sit for half an hour. If the time is not arriving yet, I’ll not change it. After half an hour, the mind wants to change. When the mind wants to change and it stays away from the tip of the nose. Wanting to change is taṇhā. For an hour sitting and change two times. By developing the sitting slowly and can bear the pain.
There will be worrying in standing posture. Will the body fall off or become trembled? The under feet will be hot like fire; lift it slightly if they become very hot. You do it mindfully. Shouldn’t do it very often, like moving the body this and that side. How long could you stand? Even can’t stand for an hour. If you can’t bear it anymore, sit down and contemplate. Slowly increase the time for the standing. Even after sometimes, standing is better for some people. With standing not much pain and aches and become more convenient. Lying down also has problem. Don’t think that sleeping posture is easy. It's even worse because you can’t move. At normal time we’re changing and moving that not knowing the torture of the body. If become unbearable and want to turn the body, then incline to the right side.
Day 02: 18th October, 2002
We’ll continue to do the practice of stabilizing sati. The time reserve for the practice of satipaṭṭhāna is seven days. The work of sati is jhāna practice and not of knowledge. (Sīla, samādhi and paññā are included in the whole Satipaṭṭhāna practice. Therefore, the Mahasi system is right. At first, it will develop samādhi with right effort and sati to note every phenomenon arising. With strong samādhi and discerning anicca, it moves first from the coarser objects into refined objects, i.e., from kaya, vedanā, citta to dhamma respectively. Mogok’s Sayadaw’s talk also supported to Mahasi system. Here, the Venerable only used one object; i.e., the breath to contemplate that was mentioned as jhāna practice.)
There’re five stages of the practice in strengthening sati.
The first stage is applied thought (vitakka-application of thought on the object). It has also other meanings; thinking and planning in various ways. Here is not thinking and planning. Pull back the running mind on to the meditation object. The object is at the tip of the nose or the upper lip. Pulling back the distracted mind on to the object again and again is vitakka. (A western monk translated vitakka and vicāra as connecting and sustaining. It was clearer and meaningful than applied and sustained thoughts.)
Yesterday by observing the yogis and found out that their experiences in the practice are quite different. Some had practiced for many times in other centres. Now, at here their postures are quite stable, calm and mature in faculties. Even some are in the stage of one-pointedness (ekaggatā). These yogis can be regarded as at the level of high knowledge.
For the second group, they are new yogis and practice only now. Here even two separated groups, some of them have zeal and their postures are calm and stable. It’s with interest and seriousness. Some are not mature and stable. They are not taking it in seriousness. Some of them had practiced before (may be at his centre). These people must take more care in their practice. Even they had practiced before but no realization. Before, I had not observed them. Now, they are near me and observing them. Even they had practiced it before; what are the weak points of not realization? I have interest and done the observation.
What I found out are:
- They are not in accordance with the yogi posture. Their sitting postures are wrong.
- Another point is, in the way of making the mind calming down shouldn’t move the body. With the body calm, and the mind also is. You have to hold it without moving if you want to calm down the water in the glass. And then the sediments inside will settle down. If the body is moving, the mind can never calm down. For this problem there are two points: it's without the right posture and the mind has distractions that it’s moving.
In the way of calming the mind, these are the dhammas destroying Samādhi. The Buddha said that these were the hindrances (nīvaraṇas) which preventing the path and fruition knowledges (magga and phala).
What are these dhamma?
- The hindrance of sensuality or sensual desire – kāmacchanda-nīvaraṇa; the mind follows after sensual objects. Hearing a sound, the mind moves towards the sound. Seeing a form and moving towards the forms, to the smell, etc. Here it’s important to know the significance of Mogok vipassanā teaching. Before I only allowed people to the retreats who had been listened to Mogok Sayadaw’s talks.
(He gave talks on Khandha Paṭiccasamuppāda according to the way of Mogok Sayadaw around Burma, or even may be at his centre. It seemed to be even using Sayadaw’s talks for the yogis in the retreat. Here I want to emphasize the power of Mogok Sayadaw’s talk. Anyone who listens to these talks very often has much benefit in dhamma knowledge. In daily life or in practice, it’s very useful for Seeing Dhamma in profound ways. A well-known Mahasi meditation teacher also used Mogok Sayadaw’s talks in his teaching. It is very unusual.)
Here at this place no preparation for this and allowing people who wanted to practice. Usually only allow people who have been taken the lectures on paṭiccasamuppāda. So, I take it as you all understand paṭiccasamuppāda.
There are two paṭiccasamuppādas: book knowledge and khandha knowledge. If I have to talk on khandha paṭiccasamuppāda for understanding; for example, the eyes see a physical form. If you see something is a mistake. You can’t contemplate what I see. Must contemplate as seeing consciousness arises and should not follow with the seeing object.
Seeing consciousness arises is the present khandha arising; not only the seeing consciousness arises. With it, pleasure on the seeing is feeling aggregate (vedanākkhandha). Wanting it is the aggregate of mental formation (saṅkhārakkhandha). Noticing of them is the aggregate of perception (saññakkhandha). The contact (phassa) of sense object and sense door are form aggregate (rūpakkhandha). The five khandhas arise together.
Someone who want to understand Dependent Arising shouldn’t think in an ordinary way. Think it as a khandha arises if mosquito bites. If not feeling arises and become vedanā paccaya taṇhā feeling conditions craving. And it becomes the desirous mind.
This taṇhā creates action (kamma). Kamma gives the result of next life, rebirth khandha. It becomes woeful birth (apāyajāti). At eating, touching and knowing mind arise. If no contemplation and the feeling of the tasting mind arises, and it becomes the feeling aggregate. Continue to; this food is very good. From feeling and craving arise. Taṇhā arises by eating food. From taṇhā and action arises. With eating like this, one will go to the plane of misery (apāyas).
How much profundity of the meaning is in the practice? Most people are thinking that only doing unwholesome actions has fallen into the planes of misery.
During the eating Dependent Arising (D.A) processes are continuing. For this Dependent Arising machine not in turning, and must be mindful on the objects of eating. Don’t let it happen as very good if taste arises on the tongue; only knowing them as hot, sour, bitter taste, etc. With mindfulness and not connect to feeling.
Now, I’ll talk about how to do it. For example, during eating, you’re eating without sati. You know this very well. How do you eat without sati? You take the food with your hand and put it into the mouth. And then chew the food, after that swallow it. The hand takes another lump only after swallow.
Here, I am talking about the eating process happens one after another. In reality, we’re chewing the food and the hand going to take another one. How can we have sati at the same time in doing two jobs? We have been eaten foods for quite a long time now. How many lumps of food will make us full? We have eaten it for our whole life. Even up to this age and don’t know how much of it is enough. Is it not clear that we’re alive with not knowing-avijjā?
How many times we’re chewing each lump of food? And when do we swallow the food? Therefore, we are eating with avijjā. After avijjā, taṇhā will arise. Doing things without mindfulness that humans are in suffering. Living with ignorance, craving (taṇhā) arises. You must do with sati if you want to abandon taṇhā. Doing things without sati is not difficult because you’re used to it. (This point is very important for contemplation).
Eating with sati seems to be tiresome because of doing with effort. Know the in and out breaths is a part of the practice. Now, I’ll talk about eating. You must try to eat with sati. You put a lump of food into the mouth and chewing it. Follow with the counting as how many times you’re chewing. You can count with numbers as 1, 2, 3, etc.
For example, after 25 times of chewing and you swallow it. Without wanting to swallow and you don’t swallow it. Chewing with sati and it becomes loathsome (It seems to be a burden and dukkha; can’t enjoy the pleasure). It arises in the mind eye. Wanting to enjoy the taste doesn’t arise. Doing with sati, you'll know khandha dukkha. You must do it with one after another. During the chewing, don’t take another food again.
(Just concentrate on the chewing process with sati. If someone is looking at you, you also have the composure. Dependent Arising process also does not continue).
People think that practicing of sati is calming the mind. In reality, it purifies the mind. With the purified mind, the insight knowledge will arise. During bathing, contemplate the touching and knowing of the water falling on the head and the body. By using soap on the body with sati and contemplate the touching and the knowing. Yogi should be a person with sati. The hand contacts with the spoon; touching and knowing mind arises. Touching and knowing mind is never end with the contemplation because everything is touching and knowing.
(Webu Sayadaw and Soon Loon Sayadaw were very well known in Burma. Webu Sayadaw’s main instruction was observing the touching and knowing of the sensations of in breath and out breath. Soon Loon Sayadaw himself using the touching and knowing of the physical sensations in his daily activities. So, Sayadaw made a slogan in practice: ‘‘Touching, Knowing, Sati”.)
Another hindrance is ill-will (vyāpādanīvaraṇa). During the practice it also can give a lot of trouble. Contemplate them if they arise, and they will disappear.
The hindrance of sloth and torpor (thinamiddhanīvaraṇa). Some of you are nodding in sitting. You were nodding at six p.m. I came and checked at eight p.m. and you’re still nodding. It’s not the time for sleep yet and why are you nodding? Because your postures are not right. Look at the Buddha image, no slanting of the head and the body not inclining to the side. So, it’s important to have the right postures. With the bending of the body and can’t practice very well.
The hindrances of restlessness and worry (uddhacca and kukkucca nīvaraṇa). The mind in the state of restlessness is uddhacca. If someone is scratching the head, moving the body and bending the fingers; then the yogi is in restlessness. The Buddha at the time of enlightenment made a resolution of not to move. We should imitate him. We must not move the body as we like. Kukkucca is thinking and planning of many things. In Samatha practice you must not think and plan for anything.
Day 03: 19th October, 2002
The first thing yogis have to be mindful is days are not waiting for us. Each day has been gone very quickly. The effectiveness and success of the practice must measure with sati. In Mogok Sayadaw’s talks mentioned the importance of sati. For all matters without sati is impossible. For mundane and supramundane matters and in everyday life, sati is important. Only by knowing these things, the yogis want to work hard with body and mind. Without sati and everything can be went wrong. Life is encircling with enemies. We’re moving around among every kinds of danger. Before crossing the motor way, you have to be mindful; in the beginning observing the left side, and in the middle of the road, then observing the right side. It could lead to death on crossing without observing. If you read the everyday newspaper, out of mindfulness that people encounter with death and dangers. (He talked about the 2002, Bali bombing in Indonesia.)
What happen in the surroundings? People are thinking and planning in many different ways to kill, torture and harm each other. (He also mentioned newsletter, booklets, etc, which were not allowed in Burma by the government of that time.) Someone took them to the tea shop without knowing it as illegal. And then he was arrested by military intelligence (M.I). These things happen in many countries (He talked about another example of 9/11, 2001 in USA). No one thought airplane could become a Bomb. In the world whenever hatred dhamma exists, killing and extermination are going on and on. If you don’t have sati and going on the way to death. You must have sati if you want to be free from the path of death.
[He gave another incident in China. A man put pesticides for rats in to the foods of a shop closed to his own shop with jealousy and killing some of the students because this shop attracted more students than his. Later he was arrested and put to death. This tragedy came from envy and selfishness (issā and macchariya) which the Buddha answered to Sakka (the God King) as the fetters led beings in hostility, violence, rivalry and ill will.] )
Hatred dhamma exists among people. And human lives are never in safety. (For example, nowadays terrorism at many parts of Middle East, some African countries, etc.) All these sufferings and problems are made by human beings. So, we need for practice to be with sati in daily life. (The above mentioned things were not only sati, but also including clearly comprehending – Sampajāna. See sati / sampajāna in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta.)
Clocks are invented for having sati. The clocks are reminding us. Usually I get up at 3:30 a.m. For this I made ready for the alarm. But today the clock is not making sound. This monk is also out of sati. Today I was arriving there late and lay people were waiting for the toilets. A lack of mindfulness and inconvenience happened. Therefore the inconveniences and deaths are the cause of heedlessness. There is no realization if you can’t overcome it. You can’t arrive to the destination if you don’t practice with care. You can’t work with careless. You come here and practice for the sake of path and fruit. You become a person having sati in everything if you work hard for seven days. Every morning I come here for talk is reminding you. It needs to accept it. If not, even with the giving and attain nothing.
It's like the unconscious person if the sitting posture is not right. Yesterday I came and observe people and still in the same postures. Why it happens like this? Humans have habit patterns. We’re behaving in these ways. With warning, it only becomes temporary; and then going back to usual patterns. For example, a scorpion was drifting in a stream. A hermit was also nearby. He was looking for a stick near him and could find none. So, he took it with the hand. The holy man was doing the holy job. But the scorpion stung him instantly. Do you want to say that the scorpion had no gratitude? Its habit was with the touching and came the stinging. But the hermit also knew about that. If a being was in danger and wanting to help was his habit. This was the holy mind. Scorpion also had the scorpion mind. Therefore it fell back into the water. The hermit didn’t have the nature of wanting it to die. So, he saved it again.
No sati is also a habit. It uses to do this thing and just to do like this. In learning computer and typewriter, in the beginning, press the keys with sati and care. And you have to practice in this way. After that, no need careful sati (effortless sati). This is called conditioning. You should practice to become a habitual tendency. It's no need to do with difficulty and purpose if becoming a habitual tendency. With the observation of the yogis, some having experiences before can sit calmly for an hour. Some without experiences are changing this side to that side.
Now, it seems tiresome and difficult. And after used to it and become easy. People are 99% doing things without mindfulness. Now we have to do with sati that it does not become easy because we have made the habit of heedlessness. Insight practice and the life style of worldlings are opposite. In worldly life, we have been taught to live without sati. If we are skillful in the practice and it becomes natural. So, it was right what the Buddha taught as without sati was going towards death. Wanting to arrive to the deathless of Nibbāna, it does not need to do the special things. Only it needs how to have sati with the practice.
Today we’re ascending to the level of pīti (joy). You will know whether arriving to this level or not during the practice. Before dukkha, vedanā (painful sensations) were arising. Now they are reducing. Before, the body was heavy; and now it becomes light. In the eyes light appears as bright sparks. These are signs of Samādhi. Suddenly gooseflesh arises and wants to cry. Yesterday some were already happening with these things. Here wanting to cry is not the cause of sadness (dosa), but the cause of joy. If become sadness and gladness tears also come out. If these things happening and arrive to the third level (i.e., pīti). For these things to happen, you must contemplate in more details; before I asked you to contemplate the touching and the knowing. Let’s stop the breathing, and what happen to you? Wanting to breathe in arises. After breathing in and stop the breathing, and then what happen? Wanting to breathe out arises. Before, we didn’t know that wanting to breathe and breathing arose. Now, we know that with the wanting to breathe and it breathes. The yogi must contemplate to see this mind.
Before, it was with the breathing and knowing. Now, it wants to breathe and the breathing. So, there are two points here, know it with more in detail. More objects of contemplation make it become strong sati. These are the working of the wanting mind to breathe and the breath (rūpa). In eating It's also the same: wanting to eat mind and eating form (rūpa) process, wanting to handle the spoon and handling, etc. Before, at home, if you wanted to eat and just took the foods (i.e., without any contemplation. He also talked about wise reflection on consuming foods.) Here we don’t eat without contemplation. Contemplate to see the wanting mind. And contemplate to see the moving form (rūpa). By put food into the mouth and don’t you know the touching? There are totally six points: Wanting to breathe in and the breath coming in, wanting to breathe out and the breath going out, touching and knowing. With more noting and the mind doesn’t go out. In the beginning it’s difficult because we’re doing things without aware them.
At walking meditation, for example, if you start with the left foot. Wanting to lift the foot arises and then the lifting of the foot; wanting to step and step the foot. Wanting to put down the foot and then putting down the foot. It’s not reciting it with the lips. To know with notice of the mind wanting to lift the foot and the lifting of the form (rūpa) arise together. Before we only notice the touching. Now, put down the foot and also notice the knowing of the touching. Here are totally eight points. (i.e., wanting to lift and lifting; wanting to step and the stepping; wanting to put down and the putting down; touching and knowing = 2 * 4 = 8 points.)
In the breathing, there are six points and walking eight points respectively. Before, in the walking, we only note the touching and knowing. Now, all these activities are the works of kamma (actions) and not vipassanā. The reason for doing satipaṭṭhāna is, later there are levels like climbing up the mountain. For these, it needs the strength. Therefore it’s collecting strength and power. It’s important to have strong interest for doing it. This is seriousness. Can doing like this you must have faith (saddhā). The khandha also will show you. Today joy arises. The khandha becomes light and fresh. For two days, we didn’t do a lot of noting. And today it becomes more. Noting is samatha and knowing is paññā. Noting is to be mindful and become knowing is paññā.
(Sayadaw helped the yogis to make the preliminary duties for practice – parikamma. These are:
Offering the body and mind to the triple gems – Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha.
Asking forgiveness to the Buddha, Dhamma, Saṅgha, teachers, parents and other living beings for one had done anything wrong to them.
Pervading loving friendliness – metta to all living beings, etc.)
Day 04: 20th October, 2002
Talking from the process of the practice, today we’re arriving to the level of jhanic factor happiness (sukha). In the five jhāna factors, vitakka is pulling the mind back to the object. Vicāra means the mind staying with the object of meditation. The mind is staying calm with the object. If the mind becomes calm the body also. It becomes free from lobha (greed), dosa (hatred), moha (delusion), restlessness (the mind moving around here and there), laziness, boredom, etc, which are defilements (kilesa), obstructing the path and fruit. This is called purification of the mind (cittavisuddhi). There are seven stages of purification. Now you’re undertaking the eight precepts and during the practice the precepts are pure. Only with the pure sīla (precepts) is not enough. The mind also has to be pure. It can’t do insight practice with the polluted mind (kilesa). Do it with the contemplative knowledge (ñāṇa). This knowledge is establishing with the practice. Normal people don’t have it. What are the factors of this knowledge? You must have right view (sammā-diṭṭhi). Thoughts must be right (sammā-saṅkappa). For right effort (sammā-vāyāma); we’re talking about sitting meditation, but also can practice with walking, lying down and standing. Without effort, we can’t do anything.
Right mindfulness (sammā-sati) is satipaṭṭhāna, which we’re doing now. It regards to everything. Only we have sati and will attain the path and fruit. You must grasp on this point. Control the mind with sati and not letting it going out. It can have calmness of Samādhi only with sati and viriya. With calmness of the mind and knowledge will arise. It’s wisdom (paññā). The mind will follow with them if it is seeing an object or hearing a sound; during eating, also following with the sweet, sour, salty taste, etc. And the mind doesn’t stop there with only knowing. It also enjoys the good or bad tastes. It will like it if prefer sweetness after the feeling; if not prefer and then dislike it. Originally “like” or “dislike” does not exist by itself; it's added by the eater. There are some people enjoying hot chilis and also some don’t. It's nothing to do with the chili for “like” or “dislike” chili. It connects with the eater/enjoyer. He/she has the nature of justification on the objects.
Contemplation on the in and out breaths are not interesting like watching video because it’s not like the objects of defilement. (This is a modern day human problem and serious. We polluted our mind from the media and never had been aware of the dangers it brings to human beings.) Therefore the mind is looking for a new object. If hearing a sound, it does not stay at the nostril and following towards the sound. It has interest at the sound with thinking.
Another thing is with the contemplation and the mind instantly forgets the object – seems like unconscious. It’s called falling into the bhavaṅga citta. This is not following other objects. The mind has two types: conscious and unconscious or sub-conscious minds. This unconscious or sub-conscious mind is bhavaṅga citta – life continuum mind. Instantly it forgets the object and changes into bhavaṅga citta. And then thinking and planning things arise. The mind strays away from the object is our past experiences have been recorded in the bhavaṅga (maybe like a recording machine). In normal situations it doesn’t arise. We had been forgotten the things which happened long time ago at young age. These things can arise during the practice. In this way the mind is not staying with the meditation object and following with the new object. With these kinds of obstructing exist and in making the mind to be calmed, it needs great effort. It needs such much effort if you want to arrive to this level.
This yogi seems like climbing a high mountain. Reaching higher up, he / she needs the care of not falling off; like the example of a mountain climber, reaching higher up and being closer to life danger. Out of sati is the cause of death. (He mentioned Mogok Sayadaw’s talk on a prisoner carried a bowl full of oil. He had to protect his life for not spilling even a drop of it. It needs a great care and sati.) The car driver can’t be out of sati because dangers are surrounding with it. Even with sati, it still might have accident. We establish sati for the freedom from saṁsāric dangers coming from repeated existences, and we have to do it with full interest. When night time comes, some yogi’s mind becomes disarray. It’s sure of including tiredness. And it can reduce the effort because of painful sensations. It will be good enough only, always practice with great effort like a new person and mind. Today we must arrive to the level of happiness (sukha). This is the level where the whole body becomes peaceful and happy. If the body is painful with aches and headache, etc. can’t attain happiness.
If I have to tell my experience, I didn’t do vipassanā practice before. It was because of my great vow. Because of this thought, I didn’t do it. [But he did samatha practice and influenced by worldly knowledges (lokiya vijjā) – such as gandhārī, mantra, mandala, etc. So, he was getting lost in these things for sometimes.] After sometimes I made researches and found out that I didn’t have the qualities of a bodhisatta. And had not been met a living Buddha for the future prediction (In some of his past lives he had been made bodhisatta vows). Therefore at the time of doing vipassanā, my whole body was painful, numbed and with aches like you. From the knees downwards were numbed for the whole day and night. Next day was the same. And then on the third day I thought; was it becoming paralyzed? And then I made a decision of letting it happen whatever might be, and continued the effort.
What were the characteristics when arriving to the level of happiness? After the mid-day meal, it was still numbing. I was resting for awhile and took a bath. After the bath, all these numbness disappeared. At 1 p.m. continued the sitting and arrived to the level of happiness. The dhamma was not like what I had thought and developed with the process. If arriving to the level of sukha and the whole body becomes light, the mind is clear and bright. Some have goosefleshes, seeing light like the firefly, sign of cotton wool, cloud, etc. These are signs of samatha. If you’re seeing these things and it means arriving to a certain level in samatha practice. These are learning signs (uggaha-nimitta) and counterpart signs (paṭibhāga nimitta). Arriving to the stages of pīti and sukha, the body becomes light and not heavy. Even it can be found that the lower parts of the body disappear. If it arrives to the stage of onepointedness of mind (ekaggatā), even becomes quiet and seems to be not breathed anymore.
Dhamma is developing in accordance with the process. We’re practicing with the time limit that if moving the body here and there will not arrive to this stage. Separate the practice for 18 days that, each day has to be developed from one stage to another stage. If the below stages are not fulfilling and can’t follow up. So, you can’t take rest and have to be tried with right effort. It’s important to change postures without interrupt the acceleration.
Like rubbing two pieces of bamboos, you’ll never get the fire by rubbing and resting. If you just do the rubbing, when the time comes and fire will come out. Samādhi practice is also in the same way. Noting, contemplating with sati, dhamma will do its job accordingly and Samādhi develops. At that time, it must not think and plan this and that. If you put effort with sati and will find out that in and out breathing are faster. Whatever you are experiencing just binding the mind at the entrance of the nostrils is enough.
Some observe the arising and falling of the abdomen as object of contemplation. Some observe the heart beatings. They are watching at these. And then what problem will arise? A female yogi asked me; “If I don’t pay attention at the nostrils and instead at the chest area (i.e., the heart) or at the abdomen is possible?” Then I answered to her that if you knew it and it will be all right. But it has a difficulty when changing to the next stage of knowledge (i.e., the knowledge of cause and effect relationship.) The beating of the heart is conditioning by the bhavaṅga citta.
It functions with the volitional mind. At the nostrils because of wanting to breathe in and it breathes in, and wanting to breathe out and it breathes out. The wanting mind is the cause. For the beating of the heart, we don’t know the reason. It has the difficulty when analyzing the cause and effect relationship. For today, practice hard and not let the mind goes out for reaching the sukha level. I have reminded yogis not to incline the head downwards. But because of the habit carrying with it, and after sometimes it goes back to usual. You have to be remembered the instruction. Also, it must have the part of checking for one’s practice. Then you can correct your mistakes. Another point is observing the touching and knowing mind with another mind. This is contemplating the knowing mind with another mind and including more knowing.
Day 05: 21st October, 2002
This is like a preparation for climbing up a higher part of the mountain. It’s for the liberation from saṁsāric dukkha. So, we must do the practice with the three governing principles (i.e., thinking about or contemplating on the repeated suffering – saṁsāric dukkha: Taking oneself as a governing principle (attādhipati), taking the worlds (lokādhipati) and the Dhamma as governing principles (Dhammādhipati). Here taking the worlds as governing principle means the living beings who have the ability to see and know other mind. See Aṅguttara Nikāya, III 40 Governing principles, AN.3.40 Ādhipateyyasuttaṃ.) Mogok Sayadaw said, “We could not do the practice in an ordinary way, but with the three governing principles (adhipati) and resolution.” The first one is making oneself as a governing (attādhipati). You can’t attain it with prayers, and must do it yourself. It needs the faith of I must realize it. You shouldn’t have this kind of thought, couldn’t I do it? You should have the determination of I must realize it with the practice. It can be happened that you retreat back or it takes more time.
We only have the 18 days limit and shouldn’t waste the time. From today onwards we must make the resolution for the practice. Practice with the resolution. Why are you coming here for the practice? Mogok Sayadaw said, “We didn’t come here because we have nothing to eat, or nothing to wear or nowhere to live; also we are not to come here and practice for the happiness of human and celestial beings (i.e., sugati – good rebirths).” (For example of human dukkha, mentioned the story of bhikkuni Patacara.) Round of existence (saṁsāra) was so long that every living being had shed tears more than the water in the four oceans. With deaths the bones were piling up like great mountains.
After birth even like a criminal has the death sentence with him. We’re afraid of death and planning in many ways not to die. However you’re doing it can’t free from aging, sickness and death. For a death-sentenced criminal, day after day the time to death is closer and closer and has more sense of urgency (saṁvega). But everyday most people are enjoying themselves with companions, sensual pleasures and eating and drinking. Their precious times are finishing in those ways. After deaths they will fall into the four woeful destinations like coconut fruits fall down at randomly. The dangers of change (vipariṇāma) and easily falling into painful destinations (vinipāta) are within us after births. This life can be used as to be free from these dangers. So, it’s very important for us. We had been as animals for foods to others in many lives. Therefore we come here for the practice to escape from these worse situations.
Approaching a good teacher is one of the causes for realization. It’s very difficult to get a good teacher to teach us. After finished his own practice, Mogok Sayadaw wanted others to know and practice the Dhamma. So, he was continuously teaching others without stopping. He was still teaching people until near his death. He gave the guarantee for his listeners and said, “If you practice with the three adhipatis in the evening and can realize it the next morning.” At least we should have the goal of not falling into bad destinations after death. This is the situation of a small stream winner (cūḷa-sotāpanna). Someone discerns impermanence is a cūḷa-sotāpanna.
We’re establishing Samādhi for the discerning of impermanence. Later you’ll know how much height this khandha mountain is. Only by practicing hard you can attain path and fruit within the 18 days. There are many practicing for ten years, 20 years already. Our groups had practiced seriously before (the yogis at his centre in Taunggnoo). Only a person with sharp faculty could realize it in ten days. (He was one of them and mentioned his experiences in his book- “A Man Walking on the Path of Spiritual Knowledge”.)
Most people are only discerning impermanence within ten days. It was impossible from the disenchanting of impermanence (i.e., nibbidā ñāṇa) to the ending of it (i.e., path knowledge) within ten days (i.e., among his yogis). Therefore I made a plan. (That was his successful khandha paṭiccasamuppāda lectures across Burma by using the way of Mogok Sayadaw’s teaching on this topic.) Discern impermanence within ten days and become cūḷa-sotāpanna. And it will take rebirths in sugati but still not be free from the dangers of plane of misery (apāyas). And then the yogi has the seed of mahā-sotāpanna for the next life. The tree will grow out in the next life, and will become a sotāpanna.
We’ll ascend the mountain with the three stages of knowledge as taught by Mogok Sayadaw. (This was also mentioned by the Buddha himself for many times in some of the suttas.)
Second, make preparation for climbing the mountain. For this we must make two resolutions (adhiṭṭhāna). The first one is we’ll do the practice with sitting, walking, standing and lying down in each posture exactly for an hour without changing. It doesn’t mean we have to do it in the extreme way but in the middle way. And it’s painful and become unbearable for you. The reason is you don’t know how to contemplate by separating from it. We must make a test for how much can we bear it. This practice makes us to have the quality of endurance. The practice is not only to have Samādhi but also to make the mind has patience. It’s also testing for oneself how much could you do with patience in dealing of with pain – dukkha. After half an hour painful sensations – dukkha vedanā will arise. If it arises, you want it to disappear. You want to change the posture due to wanting it to disappear. Then you have to make this determination. Whenever get this body – khandha, and this suffering dukkha will continue to come. If I change the posture, it’ll torture me again in next posture. So, I’ll not change and try up to 40 minutes. I will increase another five minutes if I pass it. After overcome it with 45 minutes and I’ll increase to the maximum. There is nothing without ending. If anything has the beginning and it must has the ending.
By following and observing the most painful one and at the end of it, you will find out the most pleasant one. At the end of suffering, happiness exists. I thought it would torture me continuously. After the worst things finish the good things exist. Here the yogis have to know one thing. You shouldn’t go in and feel the feeling – vedanā unbearably. You were seemed to be in comfortable posture to someone nearby. This is the battle between the body – khandha and knowledge. A laywoman in Minbu City (in Central Burma) was used to talk bluntly. At her retreat and said to me, “Ven. Sir, during the practice there are three enemies attacking me and quite unpleasant. The air element tortures me, and the heat element is very hot. Enemies are three and I’m the only one. But still I overcome them.” If the khandha is attacking us, we must conquer it. Today onwards we should have this kind of spirit. It doesn’t mean that not to change at all. Develop bit by bit and do it as much as you can. There is no difficulty anymore if you overcome once. With one success, you'll have strong confidence.
Next resolution is noble silence. For the mind to be calm, you can’t be in talking. Even can’t talk about Dhamma between each other. It needs to make the mind has strength. With talking and Samādhi has fallen apart. And then has difficulty to establish again. Also, make others as a governing principle (i.e., lokadhipati). Don’t think that whatever is arising in my mind others don’t know and only I know about it. If the spirits at the surroundings know, others also know it. At my retreats someone comes in and protecting the place. Even we don’t know about it the spirit is watching at us. If you’re yawning very often, the spirit comes and makes it to you because the yogi is thinking this and that without any control. And so he comes in doing it by let me know this.
(This being was a tree spirit – rukkha devatā as mentioned in the Metta Sutta. In a talk the venerable mentioned his experiences under a big tree in a deep forest after ordaining; at that time with three robes, alms bowl and only living under a tree. This tree spirit was living there and later became his Dhamma protector.)
If you’re near the realization, there are some beings have strong relationship with you. These are beings from the different dimensions (paraloka – it was also confirmed by scientific researches).
Another point is taking the Dhamma as a governing principle. Ehi-passiko- it means come and contemplate. You must have confidence that these are Dhamma leading to Nibbāna. For attaining Dhamma, it needs a good teacher and system. It happens to us quite rare indeed. You can try it out. You can’t encounter it as you want to be. We have past connection with each other. You have to be careful about not to talk. If you’re getting lost in talking and will never attain the path and fruit. It’s a big fault. You are far from path and fruit if you’re breaking your resolution.
I had never found someone who had realized Dhamma with talking. We’re practicing among people but have to behave like alone person. The Bodhisatta renounced the world was for this purpose. It was the practice of renunciation. (This was renunciation, and one of the ten paramis. If we check the Jātaka stories we’ll find out that the bodhisatta and some of his great and chief disciples were fulfilling this parami for many times. Without it, realization is impossible.)
Day 06: 22nd October, 2002
We’re arriving at another part of the process for change. It needs to clearly understand the way of practice and the nature of the practice. From samatha practice we’ll develop vipassanā. There exists the process of insight knowledge.
There are two basic knowledges of insight. These are:
- Understanding the characteristics of mental and material phenomena (nāma-rūpa pariccheda ñāṇa).
- Discernment of conditions for mental and material phenomena (paccaya pariggaha ñāṇa).
These are still not arriving to the insight knowledge yet. This is the part for preparation to change there. For the sixth and seventh days we’ll develop these two knowledges. Why we’re establishing these knowledges. According to Mogok Sayadaw’s instruction we must dispel wrong views. Many meditation systems arose in Burma and no centres based on this point. Only Mogok Sayadaw took it as very important. He said many times in some of his talks that without dispelling wrong views and practiced not attained Nibbāna.
(There were some monks having wrong views as mentioned in some of the suttas. So, the Buddha and Ven. Sāriputta helped them to dispel wrong views.)
Practicing vipassanā is not for the happiness of human and heavenly beings but for killing the craving for becoming (bhava taṇhā), so that not to get another mind and body (khandha). We came here for practice to free ourselves from dukkha. Mogok Sayadaw was helping yogis to dispel diṭṭhi with Dhamma talks. I give vipassanā lectures and help yogis to dispel diṭṭhi. By listening Mogok Sayadaw’s talks also possible. It’s still not a contemplative stage yet. (It’s intellectual knowledge.) Now, we arrive to the stage of how to dispel diṭṭhi with the contemplation. Sayadawgyi said, “If you want to dispel diṭṭhi, there is one thing you had to do.”
That is to understand Dependent Arising (paṭiccasamuppāda) teaching. Not from the book (i.e., in letters), but to understand with practice on the Dependent Arising of the mind and body (i.e. khandha) process. Vipassanā contemplation is on the Dependent Arising process of the khandha; and not the past and future khandhas, but the present arising khandha. And you also have to know what the khandha is. As for the khandha most people take it and mixing up with the self imposed body. What you’re seeing in the mirror is the self imposed body and not the real khandha. Khandha is an intrinsic nature. There are five khandhas. If you carefully observe, the nature of matter are hardness/softness, heat/cold, distention/pressure, cohesion/trickling (these are the four great elements of earth, heat, air and water). These are its intrinsic nature and material elements. These exist in nature as qualities. Talking about the form and the shape of the physical body is by ordinary people. Intelligent people – vipassanā yogis and scientists are talking about the intrinsic nature as matter.
The intrinsic nature of change or impermanence is matter. If we’re talking about matter (rūpa) and you must understand or see it as change or impermanence. These are the interpretations of matter. Consciousness (viññāṇa) is the impermanent of the intrinsic knowing nature. Therefore in this, khandha exists only the changing nature of impermanent matter and the knowing nature of impermanent mind. Vedanākkhandha – feeling aggregate is the impermanent nature of feelings. Saññakkhandha – perceiving aggregate is the impermanent nature of perceptions. Hearing of what I am saying is consciousness. Perceiving of what I am saying is perception. Good for hearing is feeling-vedanā. Wanting to hear again is volitional formation-saṅkhārakkhandha. Therefore the four mind and mental khandhas arise together. The sound and ears are matter. These are the five intrinsic natures. Vipassanā is contemplating of these five intrinsic natures.
From samatha practice you can’t go directly to vipassanā practice. You have to build up two basic knowledges. The first one is nāmarūpapariggaha ñāṇa – Understanding the characteristics, etc., of mental and material phenomena. Separating the five khandhas, you get one matter (rūpa) and four mind (and mental) phenomena (nāma). Condense them together and get mind and matter. You have to contemplate these mind and matter. Contemplate with the penetrative knowing mind and not with the five physical doors. Follow behind sati with knowing. Before was only establishing for good sati. Now, have to develop knowledge that following behind sati with knowing. I’ll tell you how to do it. When you breathe in and at the entrance of the nostrils, touching and the knowing mind arise.
Before, do not think anything and only notice the touching. This was making the mind calm down. Only with the calm mind and knowledge will arise. With the touching and the mind knows it. These two are intrinsic natures. Follow with knowledge for “what’s touching” and “what’s knowing”. You must know the touching and the knowing. You have to understand them with differentiation. The air and nostrils are form (rūpa). These two intrinsic natures are touching each other. These are the touching of hardness of the earth element and the movement of the air element. Knowing of them is the mind dhamma. We’re alive with the arising of mind and matter. We go for shopping. With the eyes see a piece of cloth. We eat foods. With the contact of food and the tongue, and taste consciousness arises. Before their contact it doesn’t arise. It arises now at the present moment. All mind and matter are arising at the present moment. Vipassanā practice is contemplating the present moment, arising khandha.
Thinking about what already has happened is not vipassanā. Vipassanā is to know what’s arising now. Now, you’re sitting here and feeling (vedanā) arises. Is it the back pain or the changing of form (rūpa)? It’s the changing of form and the mind knows it. Do you have to know it as pain, pain? You have to contemplate it as the mind knows the change of form. And it’s not pain and becomes the object of vipassanā. Without knowing the change and you don’t know the pain. In the operation room, the patient doesn’t feel the operation. Only with knowing, feel the pain. Today in the contemplation of the khandha, forms contacts every time, you must know them. Touching is form and knowing is the mind.
Now, you’re sitting here. Why are you sitting here? Because you want to sit. Wanting to sit is the mind and the sitting is form. You’re eating foods. Wanting to eat is the mind and the eating is form. Before I was talking about with the condition of forms and mind arose. Now, is with the condition of the mind and form arises. In breathing in and out, wanting to breathe in is the mind and the breathing is form. Knowing there as mind and matter, etc. The whole day is the working of mind and form, but we take it as we’re doing for it.
Is it me or other, man or woman, who really done it? It is mind and form. We become conceited because of me and other; person and being. Now, you’re sitting here. And are there any mind and form of the sitting still exist if you getting up? It dies away and we’re now with the new mind and form of standing. It’s replacing with new mind and form. Form standing and starts stepping. Is there any standing of mind and form exist? If it’s not there, then it dies away and disappears. How many times you’re dying every day? Are you alive or dying for many times? It’s not the view of ordinary people. Now, we’re arriving to the view of insight knowledge. Therefore the whole day and times many deaths are piling up.
In one life, dying only once is the conventional death. But ultimate death are many times, even you don’t need for sending of to the cemetery. But we’re carrying around these corpses with us. Later you’ll know this khandha is good or bad. If you think you’re alive, that’s the view of eternalism. If you think after dying and everything is finished, that’s the view of annihilationism. Today you have to contemplate every process as mind and matter. And then you’ll get the knowledge of mind and form.
To contemplate the present five khandhas arise is seeing one’s death. Then you’ll not have the view of tomorrow I’ll still alive. Clinging to me and other, person and being disappear. All living beings are only mind and form. Giving names to things are only for convenience and called concepts (paññatti). Vipassanā is not contemplating the concepts. In the mirror, what we see as pretty, ugly, fat, thin, etc., do not really exist, and only thoughts or concepts. These are only mind and form.
We’re looking at things with concepts that it becomes white complexion, beautiful, etc. What really exists is arising and passing away of impermanence. So, it’s dukkha – suffering. It doesn’t follow our desire and not-self (anatta). The views of worldlings and yogis are opposite. The things people think as good are loathsome to yogis. However you see yourself as beautiful and pretty. Do you see the khandha becomes old and degenerated? The hairs become white slowly, the teeth broken and skin becomes wrinkled. The molecules in the body disintegrated and falling apart. Now, you practice to know mind and form arise. Why you have to do it? Because to dispel wrong views.
Day 07: 23rd October, 2002
It needs to know one’s level of knowledge during the practice. There are the stages of purification. You are undertaking the eight precepts that during the practice not breaking the precepts (sīla). But if you go back home it may be. If you break your resolution is not breaking the sīla but with the purity of the mind.
For the second point of the purification, you have to purify the mind. What are the differences between sīla and purified mind? With sīla you can only purify the bodily actions and speech, but not for the mind. Purified mind is the outcome of Samādhi practice. Making the mind calm down at the entrance of the nostrils is samatha practice. It’s stopping greed, hatred, delusion, conceit, wrong view, etc. to enter the mind. Also, you have to purify the mind from wrong views – diṭṭhivisuddhi. You'll not attain path and fruit if the mind is not pure.
The main wrong views are three kinds; i.e., identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi), view of eternalism (sassata diṭṭhi) and view of annihilationism (ucchedadiṭṭhi). There are no person and being, no man and woman and only the five aggregates (khandhas) exist. Only mind and form exist. I am not forcing you to see it, but to know the reality. By viewing as after death everything cut off is ucchedadiṭṭhi. This is viewing by materialist and communist, the view of extermination. And taking next life as stable and not changing is view of eternalism. This is the view of after death, the soul or self takes another new body. (It’s like taken off the old clothe and change a new one. Even some monks are thinking in this way.) There is not such kinds of view in Buddhism. You must see it as with the causes and the result arises.
There is nothing such as dying from this life and going into a new body. It’s only the result of action arises (vipāka). It makes rebirth consciousness arises. It’s not the mind and body of this life goes to next life. With volitional conditioning and rebirth consciousness arises. For example, the sound and images broadcast by the T.V station don’t come to this side (into a television). From this side is only receiving its energy. In the same way, the dying person not comes to that side. This is the Hindu Doctrine. (It’s not the same nor different person, only cause and effect relationship. No soul or self is wandering around.) In Buddhism there’s no existence of soul. After death, it’s not annihilated nor stable, only the continuations of causes and effects process.
Kammic result has four kinds.
[(Sayadaw mentioned the result of kamma according to the seven minds moments – javana citta (cognitive process of the mind) in the Abhidhamma.
The first of the seven mind moments can give the result in this life. It’s called diṭṭhadhamma vedanīya kamma.
The seventh mind moment can give the result in next life – upapajja vedanīya kamma.
The second to sixth of the five mind moments can give results at any life time.
The fourth kind of kamma is fruitless kamma – ahosikamma.]
The fourth purification is overcoming doubt – kaṅkhāvitaraṇa-visuddhi. This is overcome by understanding of cause and effect, i.e., seeing the Dependent Arising process. In the process of mind and matter arise; sometimes mind is the cause and matter is the result, sometimes matter is the cause and mind is the result. These are happening in the khandha and to know them with the practice. For wanting to breathe in, mind made air element arises (cittaja vāyodhātu). For wanting to breathe out that mind made air element arises. Wanting to breathe in and out are the causes and the breaths come in and out are the results. You must contemplate the causes and effects; no need to think about them. You can’t follow them in time if you’re thinking. It is enough if you know them.
You know that with the mind of wanting to breathe in and the air arises if you’re watching it with sati. You can try it out by yourself. During the time of eating foods; with the mind of wanting to eat, to take, etc., that eating, taking, etc., arise and can contemplate them. If you can contemplate, then the mind wants to enjoy the taste not arises. And then feeling (vedanā) and craving (taṇhā) not arise. And without samudaya (i.e., taṇhā) and dukkha not arise. Samudaya is the cause and dukkha is the result. In the whole loka (world) nothing is free from causes and effects (except Nibbāna element). It’s only that we don’t know about them.
The grasses are growing. There must have their causes. All happen with their causes. Look at the chair. With the mind of wanting to sit that the chair comes into being. Everything of necessities is the causes. There are a lot of causes for mind and matter. At walking meditation, first, stand with two feet side by side. In standing with the left foot; wanting to lift the foot and it lifts up. The foot does not step forwards without the mind of wanting to step. Here no need to include mind and matter. Only observe the cause and effect. Because of the mind and the air element moves. And then the yogi will know the connection of mind and matter.
(Continued to talk about Sāriputta’s meeting with Ven. Assaji who said a few words to him. It was cause and effect, and Sāriputta entered the stream.)
Whatever result arises and there are causes. With only these words of short instruction, Sāriputta became a sotāpanna. After hearing of what Ven. Assaji told him and turned his mind in the khandha. Even here we practice for 18 days is not easy. But Sāriputta had sharp knowledge and discerned the whole world (loka). There are past causes why I meet you all here. A teacher has his own followers and disciples. Someone could be liberated by Ven. Sāriputta, instead not by the Buddha. This was also cause and effect connection. In the world there are a lot of men and women. Only this man and this woman marry to each other because they have past causes with them.
(Here he talked about the law of kamma, mentioned a story of a man who was the brother-in-law of a professor in Physics. This man’s father was very rich, so he inherited a lot of money. But later he spent all his money and became a beggar and died on a resting place near the road side.)
Someone past kamma is not good but he can make fortune with his present kamma. So, it’s important to understand about kamma. (Continued to explain cause and effect by using the 12 links of DEPENDENT ARISING process in reverse order – paṭiloma.) If you understand the cause and effect relationship and it’s the purification of overcoming doubt. Without repaying the kammic debts no one free from Saṁsāra. Even the Buddha had repaid for it. Therefore Saṁsāra is frightening. (Told the story of Ven. Mahā-Moggallāna murdered by the bandits because of the past kamma of killing his own parents.)
Day 08: 24th October, 2002
Today we’re on the path of insight knowledge. We have to go on according to the purification process. For five days, we were working with the samatha practice of applied thought (vitakka), sustained thought (vicāra), rapture (pīti), bliss (sukha) and one pointedness of mind (ekaggatā) which were the five jhanic factors. On the sixth and seventh days we were working with the purification of view and overcoming doubt. With wrong views can’t develop insight, and will make mistakes. So, can’t attain path and fruit. To be free from the identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi), eternality view (sassata diṭṭhi) and annihilationism (uccheda diṭṭhi); we were practicing to see the Dependent Arising of the khandha.
If we get the knowledge of discerning of mind and matter, with the knowledge of conditions for mind and matter becomes a cūḷa-sotāpanna (has the same view as the stream winner). With the purified view becomes a learned disciple of the noble beings (ariyans). In the world there is no existence of a person or a being as conceptual living beings. It’s only the existence of mind and matter process; only exist as now arising and now vanishing phenomena. Knowing the arising of mind and matter as causes and effects relationship is the knowledge of conditions for mental and material phenomena – paccayapariggaha ñāṇa.
Today we’ll develop insight. And there will be arisen of not real path knowledge which can be confused the yogis with the view of knowledge. We’ll practice to attain the knowledge of distinguishing the wrong path from the right path of contemplation. It’s called the purification of path and not path (maggāmaggañāṇadassana-visuddhi). The word vipassanā is: vi means special, passana means contemplation. So, it means contemplate in a special way. Mogok Sayadaw made the differentiation between the objects of contemplation and the contemplating mind. Contemplate with the five factors of knowledge (ñāṇa or mind). The object of contemplation also has five kinds (i.e., the five khandhas or the four satipaṭṭhāna). The contemplating mind completes with the five path factors and contemplates with this polished mind.
The contemplating mind is only one but included with the five path factors. These are:
- Right View – Sammādiṭṭhi, abandon the wrong views and become right view. If contemplate with the wrong views and it makes mistakes. For example, looking an object with a green colour glasses and the object and the whole world become green.
- Right Thought – Samma saṅkappa, not only have right view but also thoughts and thinking must be right. These two are wisdom factors. Interviews are checking for your views and thoughts. In case, if you’re practicing with wrong views and thoughts, so that I can make the corrections.
- Right Exertion – Sammāvāyāma, vāyāma means exertion. It must be right perseverance. You will not achieve it if put exertion with greed. We have to practice in a harmonious way.
- Right Mindfulness – Sammā-sati, we must have right mindfulness. You can’t achieve it if you lost your sati. If you lost your sati, what’ll happen? This you’ll know it later.
- Right Concentration – Sammā-samādhi, you also can’t get the result without it.
During the practice you don’t have the stable sīla. You only have the restrained sīla. Only attaining the path knowledge of the stream entrance (sotāpatti magga) that sīla is stable. All these five factors must include in the contemplating mind as insight knowledge. What are the objects of contemplation? These are the five khandhas. As satipaṭṭhāna only have four types. If you contemplate the body (kāya) and it’s kāyānupassanā. If you contemplate the mind (citta) and it’s cittānupassanā. If you contemplate the feeling (vedanā) and it’s vedanānupassanā. If you contemplate the volitional formations (saṅkhāra) and perceptions (sañña) and it’s dhammānupassanā. (This was the commentary view. It was all phenomena in the sutta.) During the contemplation only contemplate one kind and not all together. We must select accordingly to our characters. Our time is neyya era (i.e., the yogis need a lot of practice and time).
In the time of the Buddha, Ven. Sāriputta and Ven. Mahā-Moggallāna had very sharp knowledge (ñāṇa) and only heard a verse (a gāthā) and realized Dhamma. It’s called uggatitañu. By listening to talks and at the same time contemplated their khandhas. Nowadays we don’t have these kinds of people. Another type was people liked pañcavaggiya (the first five disciples listened to the first Discourse and the second Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, SN.22.59 Anattalakkhaṇasuttaṃ). They were also had sharp knowledges. By listening to one or two talks became noble people. Nowadays also we don’t have these types of people. In this era we must have good teachers and systems; also have to listen Dhamma talks. People who could realize Dhamma without a teacher were the Buddha and Paccekabuddha. You must approach a good teacher, listening to sacca dhamma and practicing diligently
(The four factors for becoming a sotāpanna are:
I had tested with yogis on contemplative objects before. Cittānupassanā and vedanānupassanā were easy for Mogok Sayadaw because of his great wisdom. However, it's not easy for common people; for most people, it is not easy and unable to contemplate. We can’t work with them. Therefore we use the very distinctive kāyānupassanā and contemplate form (rūpa).
Rūpakkhandha – materiality aggregate is not the body we see here. Let’s say, hearing consciousness arises. Are you hearing the sound or khandha arises? Knowing as khandha arises and become right view. If you’re hearing a car sound and then sticking with wrong view. In the yogi’s mind knows it as hearing khandha arises. And if you see something, then it’s diṭṭhi. Seeing as khandha arises is the right one. Let’s take an example, wanting to lift the foot. It’s the aggregate of mental formation (saṅkhārakkhandha); and then lifting the foot. It’s the aggregate of materiality (rūpakkhandha). And put it down; touching and knowing. Knowing is the aggregate of consciousness (viññāṇakkhandha). During the touching; hardness, softness, warm, cold, etc., the physical sensations are the aggregate of feeling (vedanākkhandha). Note these things are the aggregate of perception (saññakkhandha).
Within one step the five khandhas arise and vanish. For example, a mosquito bites you. Is it a mosquito bites or a khandha arises? You must know it as khandha arises. If not you’ll continue to make mistakes. (Such as ill will arises and kill the mosquito.) In Mogok Sayadaw’s talk, he said that whatever khandha arose and followed with knowledge. Ehi-passiko – Come and see (contemplate). Someone hits by a thorn and it’s painful or khandha arises? It’s khandha arising and following with knowledge. When a mosquito bites you, don’t scratch with the hand, but with knowledge. We’ll contemplate rūpakkhandha.
What is rūpakkhandha? Not this solid physical body. And if you contemplate it and end up with concepts, such as pretty, ugly, fat, thin, etc. I am asking you to contemplate its intrinsic changing nature.
There are four kinds of great elements. (Rūpakkhandha has 28 types, but contemplating the four great elements is enough for insight.) The earth element (paṭhavī) has the qualities of hardness, softness, solidity. You will find these nature if you’re handling the chair. If you feel the warm and coolness, then contemplate heat element. If you’re lifting your feet and it’s air element. It has movement, pressure, distention, etc. The air element in a car wheel can support many tons of weight of the body and heavy objects.
The water element has the qualities of cohesion, fluidity, trickling, oozing, etc. During the practice sweat comes out. Have to contemplate the changes of the elements and not the bodily parts, such as head, hand, feet, etc. In vipassanā practice, we’re talking about contemplation of form, feeling, and mind, but actually not them. Contemplate their arising and vanishing nature. For example, contemplate the impermanence of the changing forms. Contemplation of form, feeling and mind are to know mind and matter. For vipassanā, contemplate the impermanence of mind and matter.
Therefore Mogok Sayadaw said to contemplate and see one’s own death. It's still not vipassanā if not discern impermanence. You will arrive to the knowledge of rise and fall of formations (udayabbaya ñāṇa) if you discern impermanence. Sabbe saṅkhāra aniccati yada paññāya passati – All conditioned phenomena are impermanent, when one sees this with insight. You have to contemplate and see the impermanence of the arising phenomena. Yogis establish their Samādhi at the entrance of the nostrils and make the mind calm. If the mind stays calm at the entrance of the nostrils and move the mind on the head. Pay attention there and observe.
Vipassanā is not make things happen. It’s observing. You’ll see the sensations like vibrations which are the changing of the elements. Sometimes it seems prickling with needles or become tense by sticking with a wooden plank. These are not ordinary pains and aches. You see the changes of elements. Later you’ll see the whole body of them changing like even can’t put a needle between them. This body becomes old is the cause of change (vipariṇāma). You’ll see it directly.
Day 09: 25th October, 2002
Today we continue on the body consciousness to contemplate the impermanence of form (rūpa). We come to the stage of what is path and what is not path – maggāmaggañāṇadassana. We’re arriving on the path (way) but still can be strayed away from the way as taking what is not the path knowledge as the path knowledge (i.e., Nibbāna), but he/she is still not on the straight path yet, and can be strayed away from it.
[Yogis discerning anicca is on the way, he/she is only to continue to walk forwards; but the ten insight corruptions will come in and be mistaken with the path knowledge.]
For my duty, I have to help you not to stray away from it. Now we’re starting to see impermanence. Some of you had confusion to what I mentioned yesterday (i.e., on anicca – the rise and fall of phenomena). What the Buddha taught to Ven. Meghiya was to understand the nature of not-self (anatta) by seeing anicca. In Mogok Sayadaw’s talk, sabbe saṅkhāra anicca – all conditioned phenomena are impermanent. It's by causes whatever arising dhamma is. The result dhamma is called Saṅkhāra. These words: anicca, unstable, rise and fall, etc. are the same meanings. The Burmese word for anicca is falling apart, vanishing; so some of you think that this is only anicca. Changing one by one, vibrations, etc., are also anicca.
Establish Samādhi for sometimes. Samādhi itself can’t give you the path and fruit (magga/phala), and only vipassanā. If you want to drink water and have to use the cup. But you only drink the water. With the cup of Samādhi and you’re taking the water of wisdom. Therefore, establish Samādhi. The most important point is sati. So, stick with sati. Move the mind from the entrance of the nostrils to the top of the head if the mind becomes calm. It’s like the head light of a torch light pointing at there. That means not moving the mind here and there.
[Note: The teacher himself was quite a learned person and had extensive knowledge and a practical man. He himself had experiences with U Ba Khin’s system but also extensively used Mogok Sayadaw’s talks in his teachings. Here I am not presenting a fixed system. People can use whatever methods they like. I am only presenting the process of a practice so that people can correct themselves in their practices without a teacher. Mogok Sayadaw’s talks were also not a fixed system. He used his Abhidhamma and Suttas knowledges with direct experiences to clear the path. His central teachings were focused on Paṭiccasamuppāda which was the Heart of the Buddha Dhamma.]
It’s like the example of a tiger hidden behind a bush and waiting to catch its prey. In the same way, the yogi's ñāṇa tiger is hidden behind the Samādhi bush and waits to catch the khandha prey appears. We’re contemplating form, so that seeing the changes of form elements. It’s not only changing now. It changes all the time. Before we didn’t know how to do it and not seen it. Maybe you can feel the sensations spreading to the whole face or to the whole body. Maybe your laps, waist, chest, etc. are becoming tight and stiff like pressing with a wooden plank. Or the chest is like supporting with an iron bar, or the feet are poking with a stick, etc.
(The four great elements show their changing nature – vipariṇāma lakkhaṇa, i.e., characteristics of change in many different ways.)
These are the nature of earth element arises. This is the impermanence of earth element. It did not exist before; and now it’s arising. Before, it existed; after, that it vanished; then the new one arises at the place (the old one disappears and a new one appears at the same place). For you to see this nature I showed you by breaking a stick. After the breaking and the broken stick appears and at the same time the good one disappears. We think that the arising and vanishing are separated. It doesn’t. At the arising place of the broken one, the good one vanishes. If something arises, something vanishes. In the arising nature includes the vanishing nature. Not to contemplate as the arising is before and the vanishing is after.
[By using logic, it could be confused. It depends on from which point we see it. With the D. A. process, it’s very clear. The Relational condition – Paṭṭhāna describes it clearer and profound. In the D. A. process:
cause → effect (cause) → effect, e.g. feeling (cause) →craving (effect) craving (cause) → clinging (effect); etc.]
You have to make it clear in your mind. The arising is replacing the old one. When a physical tightness arises and the non-tightness before is not existing anymore. In the beginning of sitting was no pain neutral feeling (upekkhā vedanā). Later painful feeling arises. It’s dukkha arising. At the time neutral feeling (upekkhā vedanā) vanishes. With nyan (Burmese Pali word for ñāṇa) observes and knows that it’s not there anymore. If something arises and something exists before is not there. Abandoning its nature is called impermanence. So, something arises and one thing vanishes. And don’t look for it. This is one kind of impermanence.
Another kind is a dhamma (phenomenon) arises. It has movements and not calm. Like vibrations and bubbles. These are also impermanent, arising and vanishing one by one. It’s too fast that you can’t observe one by one. Within a second forms are arising and vanishing 5,000 billion times and minds are 100,000 billion times. You can’t discern that much. This was the knowledge of a Buddha. Therefore the vibrations are also impermanent. After appearing, the arising by movements is also impermanence. Happening in this way and something arises at other place of the body also impermanent. The yogi’s mind from here and moves to the new object which is just arising. This is not seeing impermanence yet.
For example, knowing as tensions, hot, warm, cold, etc. are not impermanent. So, don’t use concepts and will become confusion. Knowing it as khandha arises. You lost your mindfulness (sati) if you don’t catch it on. Something is already gone if something arises. Therefore, whatever arises is impermanent, and taking it as anicca. Try to catch on the beginning. As example, a pain becomes bigger and bigger and more painful. These are changing phenomena. So, movements and changes are also impermanent. The smaller one disappears and the bigger one appears. It is eternalism (sassata diṭṭhi) if you take it as these are changed from one particular thing (i.e., similar to a soul changing from one body to another body). This is a phenomenon of that one vanishes and another one arises. The smaller one (sensation) has already disappeared. All these are khandha arising and khandha vanishing. It arises and vanishes on its own nature that nothing to do with me. You don’t have to go in and feel it.
Contemplate it as a stranger (alien – prato). I am talking about the changing of knowledge. These are khandha arising and vanishing. It is nothing to do with "me" and quite a different thing. This is called contemplating with distancing from the objects. Someone’s child has car accident. It’s not relating to you and you do not feel sorrow because the child is a stranger for you. If he / she is your own child, you will suffer.
Try to get the beginning. Watch and observe how it changes. This is observing and seeing the continuous process you have to follow to the end until it stops. Know it as contemplating of impermanence. It arises one by one; follow the changing process to the end. If you are unable to contemplate by distancing from it and diṭṭhi is stuck with you. Following and contemplating the strong unpleasant feeling is like a hunter follows the foot tracks of a prey. The important point is to distance yourself from it and contemplating like a stranger.
One thing which you have to be careful is not enduring the pain by repeating anicca, anicca, etc. This is not knowledge but resistance to the pain. You must not contemplate with the desire of wanting the pain to go away. If the wanting mind for the pain to go away arises and diṭṭhi is with you. Then you’re not contemplating it like a stranger. Even if this wanting mind arises and contemplate its impermanence. Here we’re contemplating form but anyone of the five khandhas can arises. If feeling and mind arise also must contemplate them. The main point is the mind of wanting it to vanish and the aversion arises from impatience. Don’t go in and feel it. Have to contemplate them. If nothing arises and go back to the nostrils. Reestablish Samādhi. (It’s like a spider after catching the insect and go back to the centre of the web.) Wanting to breathe in mind and wanting to breathe out mind are impermanent.
Walking meditation is establishing Samādhi. But lifting, stepping, etc. are changing. They are arising and passing away. Going and moving all these are impermanent. Only in the walking meditation is not including the nostrils and the top of the head. Standing and lying down postures are the same as sitting meditation. The important point in walking meditations is catching on with every part of the process.
Day 10: 26th October, 2002
Today is the section of contemplating to see more impermanence of the khandha. I’ll talk about the points have to be careful. What’s the nature of the impermanent khandha? Even we contemplate body (kāya) and seeing of their solidity is not seeing impermanence. It needs to get rid of the view of head, body, hands and feet, etc. All these are concepts and not real phenomena. What are the real phenomena? The nature of the elements combines together and shape the body (kāya), or matter (rūpa). The real existence is hardness, softness, nature, etc. For easy to remember (or communicate) and make the convention of earth element (paṭhavī). You have to know their natural qualities if they are arising. Even we’re talking with concepts as our legs, hands are tense and stiff, you must know their nature of hardness, stiffness, etc. with knowledge (ñāṇa). Mogok Sayadaw said that these were not the kinds of knowing with eyes, ears, etc. Discernment of impermanence is not seeing the solidity, instead its intrinsic nature.
Can you show it by handling it? Is it stable? It doesn’t. After all it has the nature of oppression (pīḷanaṭṭha). The intrinsic nature is: now arising and now ceasing. We see the refined mind and body and its impermanence. This is knowing with the bodily consciousness. After it arises already abandons the original nature or something already exists is vanished. The original situation vanishes and something arises. Something is vanishing if you know something is arising.
It's also on changing, an original situation is gone. In the moving phenomenon, is it still at the original place? At the original place it has vanished. Vibrations are also showing the arising and passing away. These things are happening in the mind. You don’t know them with eyes, ears, etc. Now it arises and now you observe it. Knowing not there is vipassanā magga (insight knowledge). The khandha shows its impermanence and the yogi observes with ñāṇa. Know that it’s arising and passing away. These are impermanent and unstable dhammas.
Now a layman comes and sees me. After that he goes away and not exists anymore. Don’t think as such, he’ll be in some place. This is thinking with diṭṭhi. Yesterday you all had seen me. Is "me" a permanent monk? This monk here today and yesterday monk here; are they the same? They aren’t the same. But if you look at them and it look like the same. Is it right looking with the eyes or with knowledge?
Seeing the dhamma as it really is yathābhūta ñāṇa. Seeing with the eyes is wrong seeing? If not contemplate with insight for the whole day; “Whatever seeing is right or wrong seeing?” (The answer will be wrong seeing.) Not see their arising and passing away that have desire on them. If becomes affection, then it is craving (taṇhā). With clinging and action (upādāna and kamma), it will lead to the plane of misery. How many times each day we’re going to the woeful plane? It seems that we come to human life (world) for collecting the requisites to the planes of misery. If we know this, it’s quite frightening. If we do whatever the khandha asking for is going towards woeful plane. Ledi Sayadaw said that the six sense doors were like train stations because many kammas on every day are liked many trains leaving from the stations.
If you discern impermanence is seeing rightly. And then craving and clinging cease. Nothing is worthy of attachment. By seeing anicca and you don’t want it. Before you didn’t know that and you desired it. After you really know and don’t like it. After taṇhā dies and you’re safe from the kammas to painful destinations (unwholesome actions). Therefore Mogok Sayadaw said forcefully and encouragingly that if you discern impermanence would attain Dhamma in this life. And then free from the dangers of painful destinations.
A laywoman came and asked me; “Could I fall into woeful plane in next life if I discern impermanence?” “Even though you can’t fall into it in next life, after that born into a family with wrong views (i.e., wrong faith and philosophies) and it could be happened again.” (The Ven. himself was a good example.) If you become a human being or a heavenly being with wrong views and next life it could be happened. (For example, the 500 heavenly nymphs of Subrahma Devata.) It will only have security for one life (as cūḷa-sotāpanna). This is cūḷa-sotāpanna. At the time of seeing a lot of impermanence it can have problem. You can also see it here and there in spots. At the time, it’s strong and you will see it in the whole body. In any part of the body you see more or less is not the point. Don’t take it as only you see a lot will attain Dhamma.
Seeing them as vibrations / sensations is also mean unstable nature. Could we get old slowly if it’s stable? You didn’t know these things before. Now you know about them. If you are able to practice in accordance with the impermanence, and also near death impermanence will arise. Mostly impermanent feelings will arise. Would you cry as very painful if they arise? So, contemplate to discern them. If you’re crying as save me! Help me! Who can save you? Also, family members come and disturb you that die like a dog or a pig.
So, near death don’t care for anyone instead following with the impermanence. At that moment if you die instantly, it’s death consciousness with the magga (insight path factors). And then instantly birth consciousness arises. It’s not arriving here and there between the intermediate state (some Buddhists believe this state). It is also one of the destinations to be born as a ghost (peta); it could be born as any kinds of living beings. (This is one of the possibilities of intermediate state for short period.) Do you still afraid if you see impermanence? A laywoman came and told me that she didn’t afraid to die (because she knew it with direct experience).
It’s important to have this knowledge. Do not be afraid of death by practicing this Dhamma because you have seen your own death for many times. Also, it becomes seeing impermanence and die. Even not become a sotāpanna in this life and next life birth consciousness is with the path factors (magga). A human being is born with lobha mind (mind with greed). So, after born and lobha is with us. If you discern impermanence, this life and next life will be safe. If you die with impermanence in this life, and in next life the rebirth consciousness is with the path factors. No need for any special practice.
(It happened as the rebirth of a devatā. This was mentioned by the Buddha in a sutta of Aṅguttara Nikāya.)
Impermanent phenomenon comes before and follow with the contemplative mind after is magga (i.e., anicca and magga). Continue the following with contemplation in this way is called bhāvita-bahulīkata, contemplating many times. Have to know each point with contemplation. Don’t let defilements come in between them. In other words not letting this or that states of mind comes in. If you can do it within an hour like this and can enter the stream. If the contemplation is not good then something is wrong. And then become dissatisfaction with the unclear seeing of impermanence.
There’re other things such as, the elements combine together oppress the yogi will arise. Such as the whole body is like prickling and poking with needles and thorns. The head is like pressing with a stone. If you say I can’t bear it and giving up, all these mean; with little discernment become dissatisfaction and with severe oppression can’t bear with it. Then kilesas come in between and diṭṭhi is stuck with you. If you can look at it like a stranger at nearby will bear it. Today I’m talking are two points; practicing become anicca and magga, and not let kilesa comes in between them. The khandha is showing its own nature. So, don’t go in and confuse it with me and mine. Don’t let diṭṭhi sticks with it. It happens by itself that no need to worry about it. You can’t behave like a stranger that go in and feel with it. So, stand nearby and observe.
I’m talking to you the way of contemplation. If you can’t contemplate like this and can’t attain the Dhamma. Sometimes ago, someone saw the head burst open with the brain. A laywoman yogi in Taunggnoo (his meditation centre) ran to me and said that she saw the head burst open and the brain came out. I asked her to touch her head and said to her nothing was wrong, so went on with the contemplation. If not she would become out of control because she couldn’t strip off her wrong views. Even you can discern impermanence is not enough. Also, need to distance yourself from it. All these happening are not me and not mine (these points are very important for yogis.
Therefore Mogok Sayadaw strongly emphasized to dispel wrong views with Dependent Arising process before the practice). Regarding them as like a stranger and nothing to do with you. It’s khandha arising and not a solidity. Is there anything leaving behind after arises? No objects are leaving behind. So, it’s not-self (anatta). You also see anatta if you discern anicca. After die and cremate become ashes, and later will mix up with the soil. So, nothing is leaving behind. But after people die their names inscribe on the graveyard stones. Don’t make any markings, after die no solid objects leave behind. It leaves behind us only the energy of wholesome and unwholesome kammas which one had done. Every day human beings are searching things with greed that these things will pull them down to painful destinations. The task can save you is only vipassanā practice.
Mogok Sayadaw urged us for practice before death came. After getting old and can’t do the practice is a great loss. Therefore have to be practiced at the time you still have the strength. Faith, health and straight-forwardness and discern impermanence (the factors for seeing Dhamma); must have strong faith, good health and practice to see impermanence. (The Buddha’s teaching on faith – saddhā was not a blind faith but a true faith comes from direct experience. The Buddha and his disciples never said, just believed me. Therefore, in the Noble Eightfold Path not included. But in the five spiritual faculties is the first one. We need trust on the teaching and trying it out ourselves, and then can believe it as right or wrong.)
Day 11: 27th October, 2002
Today change the way of contemplation on the khandha arising. We have to ascend the insight process like a ladder. And you must know these natures (i.e., the process of insight knowledges). You are on the way of the path factors (magga) if you’re discerning impermanence. This is the knowledge of rise and fall (udayabbaya ñāṇa) or yathābhūta ñāṇa (the knowledge as it really is). In discernment of impermanence has two parts; immature and mature levels. At the time seeing the material elements are changing in many different ways. From the immature stage to ascend the mature stage have to cross over through a level. This is a difficult point (level). The yogi can have light appearing like in samatha practice (i.e., obhasa, these two are different kinds). It’s brilliant and bright. It’s also like pointing at you with a bright light. Or it like under the sun and moon light.
Therefore light can appear. Rapture (pīti) can arise also. Tears can come out by seeing things never seen before with rapture. Gooseflesh can arise. Tranquility (passaddhi) can arise. The whole body becomes light and comfortable, etc. These dhammas are corruptions (upakkilesa) and forbid the path and fruit. All these things, such as coolness, mind and body become happy, joy and seeing light, etc. can be taken as attaining the Dhamma. And then you can be stopped at there. Sometimes sitting meditation is quite good and you like it. This becomes attachment (nikanti / taṇhā) when you expect this experience again while sitting next time. Taking pleasure in it is the worst thing. Contemplate their impermanence if these things arise.
Let me tell you an incident. Last week a layman was practicing standing meditation. From behind the ankle a very cold energy arose. It went up to the leg, the lap and the head. He never had an experience like this before in his life. It didn’t come up like a spread. Instead it ascended like a cold bar and he fell down on the floor. At the time of falling down he didn’t know about it. And he only knew it after on the floor. At that time he also felt very cold. He made a conclusion as attaining the Dhamma (i.e., realization of Nibbāna). But impermanence was still there. The cold sensations itself are impermanent. He made the conclusion without knowing its phenomena. He was waiting for me to report his experience. I told him that tomorrow we could make a test and could enter into the fruition state. I told him how to do it, and he couldn’t. In this kind of things, not the Path Knowledge can be taken as the Path K. if these things arise just contemplates their impermanence.
Again, we’ll climb up another mount. After seeing impermanence and will climb up another level of the disenchanting of impermanence. The way of Mogok Sayadaw was climbing with three knowledges, as mentioned in the First Discourse of the Buddha (also in many other suttas). The first is sacca ñāṇa – knowledge of seeing the truth. After that come kicca ñāṇa – functional knowledge of seeing the truth. What’s the function of the khandha? Kata ñāṇa – the ending of the impermanent khandhas, attaining the Path Knowledge. Mogok Sayadaw expressed all these knowledges as seeing impermanence, disenchanting of impermanence and the ending of impermanence respectively.
There are stages of insight knowledges. These are:
Mogok Sayadaw said it was not necessary going into these ten stages. (Knowledge 1 to 9 is impermanent. It’s like sharpening a knife. It’s becoming sharper and sharper but only the same knife.) The yogi himself can’t know all of them. Here the yogi really can know are three stages. These are seeing impermanence (udayabbaya ñāṇa), disenchantment with impermanence (nibbidā ñāṇa) and not wanting this khandha and the ending of all impermanence (Path Knowledge). All these impermanence come to an end and the body becomes cool. It happens extraordinarily two times. This is the Path Knowledge (magga-ñāṇa). (This last point here was mentioned in his autobiography.)
Today we’ll climb up to the level of disenchantment with formations. We contemplate on the changing knowledge. [We contemplate the process and it is changed by itself (the mind). We make the causes and the result comes itself (not the God).] How is the process going? The tension, stiffness, etc. arise in the khandha are khandhas arising. Mosquito bites and pain arises also khandha arises. After contemplating of impermanence and going on to nibbidā ñāṇa.
Sabbe saṅkhāra anicca'ti, yada paññāya passati; Atha nibbindati dukkhe, Esa maggo visuddhiya: All conditioned phenomena are impermanent, when one sees this with insight wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandha). This is the path to purity.
We have to contemplate to see the impermanence of dukkha sacca. If you get this khandha, ageing, sickness and death are with it. Because of ignorance and craving that we get it. We get the horrible khandha. It’s suffering khandha. Why impermanence becomes dukkha sacca? We must know how to reflect the nature of dukkha. As dukkha, we see everything as not good. It’s not like this.
In the First Discourse of the Buddha it mentioned that pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkha. – clinging to the five khandhas is dukkha. Clinging to the five khandhas, dukkha arises. Due to not knowing the arising and vanishing phenomena, you want to own this khandha; to make it "me" and "mine". It’s wrong view; trying to get it with clinging. Let’s say buying a car. Before the buying, in the shop it’s not mine. After buying and making it mine, it becomes mine. During the time of using it and has an accident. It damages and the mind suffers. Because taking it as mine and don’t know it’ll be perished.
Mogok Sayadaw said there was nothing crazier than making something which did not exist as mine. If you make things which can be perished as mine and will suffer. One time a female anesthetist came with a nun and asking for help. She lost one of her diamond earrings. The nun told her that this monk could get it back for her. Who was beating her and crying? The mind attached to the diamond earring was beating her. A businessman his only son died and became sorrow and lamentation. The son was filial and third year medical student. He had a lot of hope and expectation for him that suffered so much. In the world people are suffered because they have strong desire and attachment to things as mine. They are suffered because of impermanence. If don’t know how to reflect rightly and wisely have to be suffered.
There’re three types of dukkha. (i.e., dukkha-dukkha, saṅkhāra dukkha and vipariṇāma dukkha). The first one is dukkha which comes with birth. For example, dukkha for eating food; you have to eat every day. We can’t live without eating. It’s suffering. Could you live without drinking? You couldn’t and it’s suffering. These things are there, you don’t have to create. It’s come with nature. This is original dukkha. When you’re sitting very long and becoming painful and aching. So, these are called dukkha-dukkha. We create dukkha for the welfare of the mind and body is conditioned dukkha (saṅkhāra dukkha).
As example, for comfort in sitting we buy sofas and using it. What we’re doing every day, all of them are dukkha. We get the khandhas and have these dukkha. Therefore saṅkhāra dukkha is to want to be free from dukkha-dukkha and we have to condition it. The last dukkha is changing dukkha (vipariṇāma dukkha). For example, you buy a bunch of bananas and leaving there. It becomes perishing day by day.
Day 12: 28th October, 2002
We’re arriving at the two third (2/3) of the practice, and have to climb up the difficult part. According to Sayadawgyi we had already seen impermanence. After seeing impermanence, we arrive to weariness. Yesterday some yogis experienced the corruptions of insight; developing from the immature stage to the mature stage. If you’re arriving at nibbidā ñāṇa and it’s the stage of the purification of the way (paṭipadā ñāṇadassanavisuddhi). After that, it is the Path Knowledge – purification by knowledge and vision (ñāṇadassanavisuddhi). This is the time of near to the top of the mountain. At this time you must have stable mindfulness.
Sati is not only doing the practice of ānāpāna. You must have sati in everywhere. You’ll encounter with problem and destruction. Loosing of sati, unseen beings (paraloka) will instantly come in and disturb you. (i.e., not for every yogi). After you’re on the path many kinds of counterfeit things can come in. Yesterday I went out for awhile, and after come back a female yogi inform me. She said that during her meditation and heard someone came and told her. She had attained the Dhamma and would propagate the teaching. I told her that it wasn’t. Someone from outside came and possessed her. We have to be careful for these kinds of things. We had these experiences before that and reminding you. The spirits are worrying of the yogis attaining the Dhamma. They think that if this person is liberated and will not come to their spirit world. Therefore they come and disturb the yogis. All these experiences happened before at our centre.
Sayadawgyi (i.e., Mogok Sayadaw) mentioned the three governing principles in his talk. It's on oneself at first, and then the surrounding worlds. You shouldn’t think other beings don’t know what we’re doing. Sayadawgyi said if you know yourself, and from your deity onwards and other beings also could know it. So, stay with sati and stick with it. (Here the words – your deity means not our own deities. These are the spirit world living near or around us – unseen beings.)
Another point to remind you is practicing so good that mind-body becomes peaceful. Any mental object appears have to be contemplated. If you taking pleasure in it is lobha (greed). You have to abandon all of them. Have to be mindful, if not it comes in and disturbs you. Another point is can be fallen into bhavaṅga citta (life continuum mind). Become unconscious is called fall into bhavaṅga. Something like fallen into sleep. It's difficult to attain the Dhamma if you become unconscious. And also not let kelisa come in between the contemplation. You have to be in the process of anicca and magga continuously (i.e., every time dhamma shows impermanence and knowing with the path factors). And you must know them as dukkha.
You will encounter things arising in the khandha you never experienced before. The changing of the physical elements and unbearable things will arise. If they arise, it’s impermanent dukkha sacca. Whatever seeing in the eyes you also have to contemplate. Some spirits will come and want to share our merits. If you see them have to contemplate. Whatever you see is impermanent dukkha sacca. All these are concepts and not the refined impermanent of mind and form. Seeing, hearing, smelling, etc., is impermanent dukkha. sacca. Someone is yawning if he is out of sati, it's the spirit done it. He wants me to know it. So, he reminds me about the loosing sati of my yogis. (This was a tree spirit – and became the protector of the Venerable during his practice in a forest.)
Now it’s arising and now knowing it. It’s in the present moment. In Sayadawgyi’s talk, anicca, dukkha and anatta are the impermanent khandhas. It's not the anicca of the head, body, hands and feet. Because of impermanent, it’s dukkha. It’s unstable that human beings are suffered. It seems, anicca dukkha and anatta are three different dhammas but in reality it’s only one dhamma; one dhamma with three natures. After arising and vanishing, no solid object is leaving behind. Until now what you tell me are with concepts. (i.e., during the interview with the yogis.)
For example, my back is aching; the whole head seems bigger, etc. These are concepts and solidity. During the contemplation don’t include these things. Contemplate to see their intrinsic nature, such as hot, cold, hardness, stiffness, etc.; to catch on the beginning of the arising phenomenon. There is the beginning on every impermanence. From non-existing to existing is impermanent. Also, from existing to non-existing is impermanent. From non-existing to existing, and then move here to there. From the place of the beginning, it's arising and moving to another place. Is it still at the first place? Moving is changing. For example, I had been mentioned about a layman yogi’s experience before (see day 11: talk). A cold bar of energy appeared from his back ankle and started to move upwardly to the head. The changing of the mind and matter at the first place not following to the second place, etc. It has disappeared at the first place.
It’s the same as the impermanent mind and matter of the first foot step not arriving to the second foot step. So, you can’t find back this impermanent mind and form again. In every foot step of mind and matter are dying. Therefore in Sayadawgyi’s talk, you will see anicca, dukkha, anatta, asubha and dukkha sacca if you discern impermanence. You see these five points at the same time.
In the beginning of the sitting, nothing arises yet. And then you move your Samādhi to the top of the head and it starts showing the nature. Wherever it shows you, catch on the beginning of the arising dhamma. It means to be mindful. Sayadawgyi said that ehi-passiko – the dhamma calling at you, came and contemplated me. Sandiṭṭhiko – you would see it yourself. The chaotic situations are impermanent. Is it stopping or moving? It’s never stopping. From small and it becomes bigger. And from big and it can become smaller. You can see its disintegration, movement and change, etc. All these unstable movements are impermanent. In vipassanā contemplation it also needs endurance. These natural phenomena happen by itself that we can’t want them to be liked that. You have to observe and contemplate according to its nature.
For example, the yogi wants the pain to go away. Then he says “I can’t bear it and change the posture.” Diṭṭhi is sticking with the yogi. Why? Because unable to contemplate like a stranger. It’s nothing to do with you. You can’t get it what you want to be. It happens by its nature that you have to observe like a stranger nearby. This point is very important. It needs sati, and always stick with it. Out of sati, the diṭṭhi stick with you. You know the arising dhamma and then the mind leaving it and can move to other place. That is the mind moving towards a stronger object. Don’t become uncertainty as which one have to contemplate. You have to contemplate where the mind is.
Ehi-passiko – have to contemplate where it’s calling you. Then you know it arising and contemplate its continuous process. Follow it and observe. This is following the impermanent process. You know the arising and then observe; not there anymore. Maybe some dhammas arise in this way. Also, other kinds of phenomena can arise. It’ll oppress you – pīḷanaṭṭha; the khandha will show its dukkha sacca. Three or four elements can oppress you. At that time you don’t need to analyze the elements. You have to observe them how it’s changing and happening.
Like a hunter following the foot prints of the prey. It can become slowly bigger and more severe. At that time the yogi can go in and feel it directly; and then want it to be vanished. This is craving-taṇhā. And it turns towards clinging and action (upādāna and kamma). If lobha arises know instantly and abandon it. Have to contemplate this mental state. Adjust yourself by not letting kilesas come in and follow the process closely. It’ll end at some place. There is nothing not ending. Maybe it takes four or five minutes or half an hour to end. Even can oppress you for an hour (nothing is sure). From that time onwards no need for time table.
If not ending shouldn’t change it. Or if happen too long and have to stop it. At lunch time can stop it. And at other times can’t change it and follow to the end. It’s like mount climbing. If you arrive to the top and it ends. Stiffness, tenseness, etc, whatever it’s slowly growing, to the most painful, the most itching, etc. The ending means it’s not arising again. You can try it out. Feeling (vedanā) increasing or whatever increases, you need courage. You feel like, it comes and oppressing you. At that time should not be annoyed and must be calm. Having the facial expression means, you go in and feel with it. These things are existing not only now but also before. After the abandoning of ignorance (avijjā) and knowledge (vijjā) arises that knowing directly by oneself. It exists before and oppresses us in our whole life. Because of them we become old. We contemplate it carefully with knowledge.
With the contemplation, mind is also changing. Should not change and follow it with endurance. Reflecting as if we get the khandha must suffer like this again. At the ending of it the whole body is feeling cool and happy. After dukkha and sukha exists. We have to follow it until mind and body become peaceful. The process is slowly disappearing. Again it arises one by one like a chain, and following it to the end. After that it can arise another one.
After one and half hours, we will not contemplate it if it arises again. We shouldn’t follow it for two or three hours. Increase half an hour for contemplation, leave it there if doesn’t end. If not, it becomes immune. We follow it in an appropriate way. Next time of follow two hours, then two hours only. We practice Samādhi with walking meditation. In every step of walking, contemplate to see its impermanence. And you’ll become weary about walking. It’s dukkha. Before, you even didn’t know carrying around your own burdened khandha. If you getting old will find out that standing, sitting and going, etc, are great dukkha.
Dukkheñāṇam – after knowing dukkha, and the other side is dukkha-nirodheñāṇam – knowing the cessation of dukkha. You make a decision that it’s really dukkha. Do you want it? You’re wanting it because not know it as dukkha. It’s really dukkha, except dukkha, and nothing exists. You don’t have desire for the khandhas if you really see its faults. At here yogis can have problems. It’s oppressing so much that even don’t want to continue anymore. This can be possible. Become very tired about it. Therefore Mogok Sayadaw had said that if you didn’t want to contemplate still had to stick with it. You will continue to have this khandha if you don’t contemplate. And you can’t free from it. It’s unbearable that you don’t want to contemplate. Diṭṭhi sticks with you again. You only see these things and weary about it and become disenchantment. Like it or not, you have to contemplate. Not wanting to contemplate and you continue your contemplation is non-greed (alobha).
Day 13: 29th October, 2002
If you are arriving to this stage, other mental states can arise. One thing which has to be careful is not to lose your sati; the importance of having strong sati. When walking, your sati must stick wholly with the process. Increase your time in walking meditation; it's only five days left after today. Maybe you’ll think as: "Could I attain it?"
Here you have to know are; approaching a teacher and listening Dhamma. The teacher is explaining to you how to do the practice – it’s ñāta pariññā. This is the part of a teacher’s teaching and correcting, which the yogis should know. It’s the part which a teacher has to be fulfilled.
In the second part a teacher can’t do it for you. The yogis should have the intention of doing things exactly what the teacher has taught and exhorted. It means if you practice like this and can attain it. This part includes faith (saddhā) and effort (viriya). Therefore there are two parts connection with the teacher and yogis.
The third part: the teacher and yogi can’t do it. It’ll happen in accordance with the Dhamma nature. You have to understand these natures clearly. These Dhammas are happening by its nature. You do your practice and the Dhammas do its process.
For your understanding, practice is like a person building a fire. In the ancient time, people rub two pieces of bamboo for fire. After it’s hot enough, the fire comes out. If you’re cutting off the bamboos and looking for fire, you can’t find it. (He gave the simile of a king’s searching for the music in the harp.) In the harp there was no music (sound). In the same way fire not exists in the bamboo. (It seems the sound is more peculiar than fire, both need the medium of air; but sound is not included in the basic forms like fire.)
Therefore Nibbāna not exists in this khandha. How does Nibbāna arise? It arises by practice (purification). With the practice, if the time is ripe and Path and Fruit arise. Your mind can be confused as originally not exists and where it’s arising from. However, you cut off a mango tree and looking for the mango fruit, you can’t find it there. Also, it doesn’t exist in the mango seed either. The mango tree functions its own matter and when the time comes it flowers and grows out. The small mango fruit appears and grows slowly. Nibbāna element also not originally exists in the khandha. For someone who practices when the time is ripe it’ll appear. Only don’t know when and how it’ll appear. A yogi is like climbing a mountain. During the practice it’ll arise.
Now some yogis are on the path to the goal. For some, their minds are running outside. People are also talking about their feelings and experiences with concepts. For example, it’s like pricking with a thorn on the feet, etc. They take the khandha as solidity. Don’t take it with concepts, but as khandha arises. All the five khandhas are arising together. For example, there are tension, stiffness, hot, cold, etc. and you have to take them as khandhas arise. If with concepts, you go in and feel it. These khandhas arise as its intrinsic nature. It shouldn’t mix with the solid body. It arises and then vanishes. You also should not be disappointed with it. After establishing Samādhi and concentrate the mind on the top of the head. And then if hot, numbness, etc. appears at any place of the khandha and observe it. It’s ehi-passiko – come and contemplate me.
So, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, etc. any of them arise and contemplate it as anicca. Don’t make them as any solidity. Sandiṭṭhiko – will see impermanence directly. Khandha is impermanent and knowing it is magga (anicca and magga). Impermanence and magga must go together continuously. Don’t let any kilesa comes in between them. Sayadawgyi said that if kilesa not come in between them and by practicing in the morning will realize Dhamma in the evening (also mentioned by the Buddha). He gave guarantee to us. It’ll appear instantly if the time is ripe. Here are the differences between someone easy to attain Dhamma and someone not.
There are also many reasons. Some yogis even can’t stabilize their postures up to this day. Their resolutions not succeed. During the practice their minds are here and there. I am also observing them. They are appearing to be in the practice but their hands are moving, etc. The mind is going back to the past objects and thinking about them. So, forget about the meditation object. You cannot transcend the mount if the mind is not quite like this. You have to practice become anicca and magga by yourself. I can only encourage you.
You can’t concentrate in the practice when kilesa comes in. Uplift your mind again as I must attain it. The desire for attainment is lobha (greed and as a wholesome desire). Sayadawgyi said that in practice, this kind of lobha mind couldn’t fall into apāya. He / She should have this kind of lobha. Its nature is attaining of Nibbāna. Lobha here is the motivated power of the mind. Even you become a stream enterer (sotāpanna) and still have taṇhā. But sotāpanna can’t fall into painful destinations. Therefore, this taṇhā is good to have.
If your faith is going down, uplift it. From here onwards practice becomes very important. On climbing the last stage of a high mountain and there can be many things leading to mishaps. You can’t overcome it without sati and right decision.
There are four types of yogis.
- Difficult practice and slow attainment.
Make notes of them and check for yourself. These things are coming with you from the past. If you discern impermanence, you will have the potentiality of attainment in this life. You have the ariyan seed as (potentiality of a noble being) a tihetuka person (a person born with three wholesome roots, such as non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion). Don’t think that you can’t make it. And you’ll get it. But you have to practice with the difficulties and with more times.
- Difficult practice and quick attainment. I had seen these kinds of yogis before.
- Easy practice and slow attainment. This kind of yogi doesn’t see difficulties. I had known a laywoman doctor from Mandalay in this type.
- Easy practice and quick attainment. This is a special person. You can’t decide yourself in this type. It’ll appear by practice. If other can realize it and I must also. You have to practice with this kind of spirit. One of the possible problems here is impermanence become not very clear. If you contemplate on it as dukkha sacca also solve the problem. But the yogi becomes dissatisfaction with it. At that time it’ll not go away. It reinforces itself for the strike. It looks like a climber reinforces his strength from crossing one mount to the other mount.
If you can’t contemplate it like a stranger and will sink in there. Without sati and can’t bear that you let go of it. Then it becomes a problem. Watching impermanence like a stranger at near is magga. You have to be in ready to face the arising phenomena. Don’t give up your resolution. Catch on the beginning and follow to the end of the process. It’s dukkha and without any essence. See this point. If the time is up and the process does not end, then don’t take the time limit, and have to follow to the end.
Increase half an hour for sitting and walking meditations. After one and half hours and the process does not end, change the posture. After changing the posture, it doesn’t matter the process is continuous or not. If not continue, it can change into another thing. It can arise in many ways, and seems like fighting a battle. Also, counterfeit dhammas can come in, such as light and lightness of the body. Whatever arises contemplate its impermanence, not looking and taking pleasure in it. Separate yourself from it with the contemplation. You’ll see the khandha as nothing can be held on to life. It’s arising and vanishing. Nothing is leaving behind and everything is useless. Life existence is nothing. Human being are taking all these seriously.
Clinging to concepts, wrong views come in. whatever your status and job may be and after death becomes nothing. Even you’re still alive and have no essence. So, it’s anatta – not-self. Today we contemplate anatta. What are the meanings of all these happening to you. You’ll experience them as pricking with thorns, poking with stick, etc. in the body. (Yogis are having different experiences. It depends on the four great elements.) What is the essence of it? Pains and knowing them are arising and vanishing. Whatever arises and vanishes, no essence at all. There is no solidity to hold on.
[ Note: About "lobha" ]
Chapter II COMPENDIUM OF MENTAL FACTORS
Guide to § 3
- Desire (chanda): Chanda here means desire to act (kattu-kāmatā), that is, to perform an action or achieve some result. This kind of desire must be distinguished from desire in the reprehensible sense, that is, from lobha, greed, and rāga, lust11. Whereas the latter terms are invariably unwholesome, chanda is an ethically variable factor which, when conjoined with wholesome concomitants, can function as the virtuous desire to achieve a worthy goal. The characteristic of chanda is desire to act, its function is searching for an object, its manifestation is need for an object, and that same object is its proximate cause. It should be regarded as the stretching forth of the mind’s hand towards the object.
Note 11 of Chapter II : In the Suttas chanda is often used as a synonym for lobha and rāga, thus as meaning desire in the reprehensive sense as well. But the Suttas also recognize chanda as a potentially beneficial factor, as when they speak about the arousing of desire for the abandoning of unwholesome states and for the acquisition of wholesome states. See for example the definition of right effort at D. 22/ii, 312 (= M. 141/iii, 251-52)
("A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma", Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, BPS, 1999)
Day 14: 30th October, 2002
According to the purification process, today is reaching to the top of the mountain. Therefore, we have to practice up to the level of the path knowledge of the stream entrance (sotāpatti magga). This week the progress of the yogis is at the satisfied level. We’re now arriving to the section of seeing a lot of anicca and become disenchanting. This level is purification of the way – paṭipadā ñāṇadassanavisuddhi, and becoming a noble disciple (ariyasāvaka). You’re on the straight path and might not stray away from it. If you continue with the practice and it becomes the path knowledge. Ñāṇadassanavisuddhi – purification by knowledge and vision is called sotāpatti magga – the knowledge of the stream entrance.
You’re arriving at the distance of one armed length of it. You have to be careful for one thing. Even though it’s sure for arriving there, still can encounter disturbances and become low spirited. The path is straight now but it needs to walk straightly. The main factor is the mind power. It's important for practicing with patience, endurance and perseverance. The main necessity is sati. Except seeing all the arising phenomena with the three universal characteristics and not let other sense objects to come in. Especially it needs to be careful not let other thoughts and imaginations to come in. When the khandha is changing, it shows you extraordinary things which never been seen before. You’re straying away from it if you think it as happening in my body or coming from outside. It’s quite clear that you’re not contemplating what happen in the present moment khandha. This is one way of sticking with diṭṭhi.
Whatever arising is impermanent khandha. It’s the arising of the khandha nature. It shows its own nature. All the arising are saṅkhāra dhammas (conditioned phenomena). After arising and it has to be vanished. Observe with knowledge and seeing it as dukkha. So, it’s dukkha arising. Why is that? There are two reasons for it. First, it’s not stable. And second, it’s oppressive. It has the nature of oppression without any pity. Iron is destroyed by rust. In the same way the phenomena oppressing oneself are in the khandha. Greed, hatred and delusion are the dhammas pushing you down the cliff. These are clear for the yogis themselves. It makes them unbearable. (Advanced yogis experience the oppressive nature of the four great elements.) We must change the way of contemplation.
Now we’re in the section of how to react to impermanence. Let your body pains and not the mind. These words are not for good listening. It’s talking about how to practice. Isn’t it painful when the dhamma arises to oppress the khandha? It’ll, but don’t let the mind pains. I’ll ask you. Whose mind is painful if the body pains? You’ll answer me as I am the one who pains. This is a worldling without knowledge – asutavā puthujjana. A worldling without knowledge will take it this way. But a disciple of a noble one with the knowledge (sutavā ariyasāvaka) sees the khandha as not me and not mine. Someone after seeing anicca becomes a disciple of the noble one. He has the support and comfort in the Buddha’s sāsana (dispensation of the Buddha). It’s like a drowned person, after his feet touching the bottom and then exposes his head above the water. And free from the danger of painful destination for one life. If you encounter with oppressive nature and it’s important how to practice with insight. If the yogi doesn’t has the preparation of how to contemplate with insight, when the body pains and the mind also. You’ll say, I can’t bear it and change the posture. This is the mind pains with the body.
This matter is very important in near death when oppress by illness. To prepare for these things it needs the strength of the mind power. It needs a lot of sati and stable resolution. All difficulties must overcome with resolution / determination. In the world everyone is afraid of death (for common people). Here let me die. I am not afraid. With the khandha exists and never free from dukkha. Therefore I must practice to free from dukkha. I’m daring to say for you. You’ll not die. You must have the courage for adventure. It’s better for dying with practice than dying with stupidity.
What can be happened if you continue to climb up? The yogis become very tired and will say I can’t climb up the mount; and then wanting to put down the burden and the practice to continue. Even some came and told me, “If I can’t get the Path Knowledge, let it be.” They had changed their minds in this matter but in the wrong way. Some saw the faults of the khandha. But there are two ways about it; totally giving up the practice or continue the practice to the end. The right way is I must free from myself from this khandha. If not I’ll drift away and sink in the ocean of saṁsāra. So, I can’t give it up. I must practice to overcome it. Have to reflect in this way.
After you transcend it and arrive to the knowledge of reflecting contemplation – paṭisaṅkhā-ñāṇa. What’ll happen after making the decision and practice? You discern the phenomena not very clear and disappointed with it. Before you encounter the strong experiences and now mild phenomena arise. However, still all of them are dukkha arising and dukkha changing. It’s showing its own nature. You will see the form nature if you contemplate on form (rūpa). Form shows its nature and don’t take it as my arising. Leaving it as a stranger and don’t take yourself in it. Let the body pains are only possible, not the mind; if you contemplate it as stranger. It means put down wrong view (i.e., not identify with it as me and mine).
Your discernment becomes not clear and don’t take it as become easier. It’s like from the mount to climb up another higher point and you can’t jump up from here. You have to go down again and climb up again. In climbing down is comfortable. The phenomena are reinforcing to strike you down. You have to know about this point. Don’t think that contemplation is not good. This means you are going in and feeling with it. The phenomena strike down on you and by giving up can’t achieve the goal. When it come to you and must be in ready for it. It’s nothing to do with me and happen by its way. During the contemplation don’t react with resistance. With the contemplation of separation and there is no resistance.
It is like someone looking at it with ease and separation at nearby. This is equanimity towards the conditioned phenomena. Let it be and do what it wants with the oppression. This time I must separate you forever with the practice (i.e., the khandha – the oppressor). It’s the knowledge of equanimity towards the formations – saṅkhar’upekkha ñāṇa. The slogan here is, “Don’t be in concerns; if concern and out of balance.” You can’t be out of balance even for once; otherwise it becomes fruitless. You can’t make any mistakes. Whatever happening is dukkha sacca. It’s nothing to do with me. Let it happens and dies.
I’ll tell you how to continue with the practice. Let go of your mind for comfort. Don’t sit with usual posture, but with a difficult posture. (for example, from a Burmese posture to half lotus or full lotus postures.) And then practice with equanimity towards whatever is arising. Now it’s only four days left. We’re now arriving to the very good level and can’t practice in an easy way. Like a tiger holding and biting its prey without letting go to climb the highest point. Mind power with persistence is very important. Make a determination, for example, for one hour and one hour. You have to follow it to the end if it’s not ending.
However the severe pain is that you have to follow it to the end. You need the strength of mind. You have to fight it until you win. We’re now climbing up to the highest point of the mountain. You can’t make decision by yourself for what’s happening. Experiencing of something which is strange and don’t make the conclusion as the Dhamma (i.e., Nibbāna). You must inform me what you’re experiencing. I also do not mention these things to you beforehand. You will come and inform me that same thing if I tell you.
A layman experienced a cold bar of energy coming to the head. It was very cold and suddenly he fell down. But the cold bar of energy was still there. In a shock and thought it was attainment; and making the conclusion as the Path Knowledge. The ending of impermanence means doesn’t have anything to contemplate. In a blip everything has ceased. If you still have something for contemplation and not the Path Knowledge. So, you have to continue with the contemplation. Inform me only what you have seen. Today contemplation is let the body pain but not the mind.
Day 15: 31st October, 2002
We’re now at the last stage of climbing up the mount, purification by knowledge and vision – Ñāṇadassanavisuddhi. We must have right attention (yoniso). With the wrong attention can’t attain the Dhamma. These words are very important for the yogis. With right attention, you must climb the last stage because yogis have to use knowledge. In practice, one part of it is one’s activities, such as standing, sitting and walking, etc. It’s important to have right attitude. What means wrong attention? Sometimes ago a laywoman came and told me; her whole body was cold. Talking with right attention, then it was khandha arising.
A layman has said to me; “Isn’t the khandha a self-body?” Khandha is an intrinsic nature, and no body. If something is arising; for example, a mosquito bites. Then we make it as a mosquito bites. Every noting is sañña – perception. The pain is feeling (vedanākkhandha). Wanting to change is volitional formation (saṅkhārakkhandha). Knowing is consciousness (viññāṇa). The body or form is rūpakkhandha (body aggregate). If something arises, both of mind and body arise. Knowing the arising is sati. You’ll not know the arising without sati. Taking the arising of khandha as me and mine are wrong attention.
One can strip off diṭṭhi is right attention. Note this point carefully. The way of contemplation is; if the khandha shows you and follow with knowledge (ñāṇa). From the explanation of Mogok Sayadaw’s talks this point was important. Form (rūpa) is changing nature. Viññāṇa – consciousness is knowing nature. These are not my arising and not my knowing. Vedanā – feeling is feeling nature and not I feel. Sañña – perception is perceiving nature. Saṅkhāra – volition is motivating. Therefore all the khandhas function their own matters or business, and then all pass away. Don’t include me and other into it. Khandha arises is ehi-passiko – calling you for contemplation. Therefore khandha is calling and ñāṇa following. Follow with the knowledge of right view. It is sati (mindfulness with right attention), which can strip off diṭṭhi (wrong view). For example, yesterday a laywoman was practicing in standing posture. After feeling a cold sensation on the back without aware she let go of sati and sat down. This was stuck with diṭṭhi.
For the other layman, he didn’t have sati and fell down to the floor. Even after falling down he continued to experience the cold sensation. Instead of continued with the contemplation and he took it as the attainment. He made a conclusion by himself and become wrong attention. Remember for this point. Whatever khandha arises, don’t stop the contemplation. If it’s really ending and there is nothing for contemplation. The ending also shows its characteristic. I’m not daring to talk about this point here. If I tell it, during the sitting people will expect for it. Even near the last day mention it, can have problems.
So, you know the importance of right attention. First, don’t let diṭṭhi stick with you. And second, don’t let go off sati. With loosing awareness and it takes more time for the practice. It’s amazing that the khandha shows the things you have never seen before. You’ll know yourself of the khandha has these things. It seems like your internal organs are twisting, wanting to vomit, feeling cold and burning with fire, etc.
There was an old man called U Nyo came and practiced with me. I told him that he was old for the practice. But he didn’t listen and stayed for the practice. He was from Pyinmana (now the capital city of Burma). He was welcome by many people and talking to people by wasting time. At night time for interview he didn’t know what to say. But he was clever and listening to what others were saying and using them. When I was scolding him and asking me what could be experienced in the practice. Then, I replied to him that it would like experience burning with the fire and feeling cold by pouring icy water on the body. It would like feeling a stone underneath the buttocks. And it would like the back was poking with a wooden plank. Also, it would like poking into the calves with an iron rod or needles. And then he thought that this monk was crazy. Without needles and how would it be poked with them. And without fire and how could it be burned with fire. So, I put him under the control of a laywoman yogi for his practice.
The next day he came to told me and asked forgiveness. He said, “I had insulted you. It happened to me as you had said yesterday.” When the khandha tell us, we have to believe it. This old man really practiced hard and at the age of 72 realized the Dhamma.
Don’t come and ask me how it’ll happen for the discerning of impermanence and its disenchantment. With the practice and you’ll find out. At the ending also the khandha will show you. If you stop it without the ending and the process will take longer period. A layman was oppressing by wind element in the body. And during the sitting he was nearly jumping up like hit with an electric shock. He asked me had any connection with the unseen being. Then I told him that it was the air element. He continued with the practice and the problem stopped by itself. For the right attention, it depends on right view to the khandhas. Where do the Path and Fruit knowledge exist? It exists in the khandha. The ending of khandha is magga (the Path Knowledge). You may take it as in the body. By analyzing the body and you can’t find it anywhere. It exists at the ending of the five khandhas. It exists at the ending of the present khandhas.
Khandha is dukkha sacca. Therefore Nibbāna is the cessation of dukkha. Khandhas not arise is Nibbāna. The ending of khandha is Nibbāna. Tension, stiffness, pressure, movement, etc., most of these things will come first. After that cold, hot, like burning with fire arise. The cold here is touching with a block of ice and shivering with cold. A laywoman was not following these things to the end that the process continued to exist. The successive little endings are insight knowledges arising. Even a process is not ending and takes longer time; you have to follow it to the end. But at the time of lunch you can stop it. But some yogis had the knowledge of disenchantment (nibbidā ñāṇa) that not ate the lunch and continued with their practices. Even if we don’t want to eat also have to eat. Another thing does not want to contemplate and tired of it. Mogok Sayadaw said that not wanted to contemplate, still had to contemplate. Also, have to contemplate the not wanting mind. You must have the spirit of achieving it.
Not wanting is without craving (taṇhā). If you have craving, then clinging and action arise (taṇhā → upādāna → kamma). If the not wanting mind arises and it’s a great joy for you (i.e., because it is close to Nibbāna). Practicing with not wanting mind is non-greed (alobha). With the wanting mind is greed (lobha). If you are practicing with the desire mind and will not get it. The layman came to see me yesterday was U Myint Htoo, and he told me about his experience. When I heard it and made my heart beating. He said that it was like cutting his feet with the razor blades, and his chest was piercing with a spear. I told him stopped the practice and went to rest. Because he was practicing very hard that I was asking him for a rest. But he decided to continue with the practice. Instead of going into sleep and he was contemplating in the lying posture. I taught the yogis to lie down on the right side. First, he inclined to the right, but his mind wanting to turn to the left. With the turning of the body to the left and the Path Knowledge arose. (It was very similar to the Ven. Ānanda’s realization.)
Day 16: 1st November, 2002
In vipassanā practice, the first knowledge is sabbe saṅkhāra anicca – the five khandhas arise by conditioning are impermanent. The first thing is to know this view. In the whole world everything exists are saṅkhāra loka – conditioned world. Forests, mountains, earth, water, human beings, etc. are arising by causes. Therefore these things are results. We need to know why it’s arising. We arrived into this life according to our past kammas. After arriving here not only kamma, but also mind (citta), temperature (utu), food (āhāra) are conditioning our lives. Utu is weather or temperature. Āhāra is the thing which we eat and drink for survival and development of this khandha (body).
It is depending on these four causes. To become a human being is with the wholesome kamma. If you could check human beings, nearly all of them came from the woeful planes. After their unwholesome kammic debts had finished and came up to the human plane. (This point was mentioned by the Buddha in some suttas). You can’t calculate and estimate them as they come from human or heavenly planes. According to the teachings, indiscernible beginning of the saṁsāra (round of existence), many Buddha had arisen more than the sand grains in the Ganges River. We had missed these Buddhas because we were born with the eight faults.
[These are: three planes of misery (i.e., hell beings + animals +petas), arūpa Brahma gods and Brahma gods without perceptions, human beings with three unwholesome roots, border areas where the teachings can’t reach, having wrong views and the periods when the Buddhas were not arising.]
Even a Buddha arose we didn’t have the chances to meet him and listen to the Dhamma. These were the reasons we had missed with many Buddhas in saṁsāra. In saṁsāra our bones were piling up like mountains. And mostly born in hells became animals and petas. Now, we’re with the force of wholesome kammas and have this human life. The reasons as a very fortunate human being are; encountering with the Buddha’s sāsana and also in the period of liberation (vimuttiyuga). This is the period of 500 years between 2500 B.E. and 3000 B.E. Those who practices Dhamma within these 500 years can attain Path and Fruition Knowledge. After these periods, it arrives back to dana, sīla era. No other fortunate things such as encountering with the chances of freeing oneself from the danger of woeful plane. Born in developed countries, consuming and wasting wealth are not real happiness. There are people jumping from high buildings and other ways of suicide exist. Therefore they have unhappiness and sorrow.
People are saying U.S.A is very rich. Sometimes people were killed by gun men. So, they can’t move freely. Why these things are happening to them? They don’t know it. (i.e., wrong educations and knowledges in many ways.) They don’t have peace and happiness. Don’t think that with money and you’ll have happiness and security. Even though our country is poor and has difficulties in lives, it’s not a big problem. With Dhamma we can bear it. (This is not an exaggeration. Someone knows about Burmese Buddhism and modern Burmese History will appreciate it.)
We must practice hard for not falling into woeful plane again. We must contemplate saṅkhāra dhammas with knowledge. Don’t think whatever arises by causes has stability and permanence. It’s anicca. Yadā paññāya passati – when one sees these with insight wisdom. Contemplate these phenomena with paññā as unstable and impermanent. Without looking outside, and the internal phenomena of pains, aches, numbness, etc. all are saṅkhāra arising. These are resultant phenomena, and arising by causes. It’s saṅkhāra dhamma, mind and body, the five khandhas. All are the same in different names. Saṅkhāra dhamma arises at the present moment khandha, and contemplate it with paññā.
Don’t take the unstable dhamma as me and mine. Impermanent dhamma is not good and suffering (Dukkha means disgusting and useless). It becomes more dukkha if you’re making the impermanent dhamma as me and mine, and also far from Path and Fruition Knowledges. Today take more care for the practice. Be mindful! “Me” is atta and mine is attaniya. In the world human sufferings are coming from seeing everything and making them as mine. Me exists that mine arises. It needs to be analyzed with knowledge – me and mine do not exist.
Attha nibbindati dukkhe – one becomes weary of dukkha. First, contemplate impermanence. And then will see dukkha. The truth of dukkha has four characteristics. These are:
- Pīḷaka – Always oppressing without sympathy; the natural oppressive dhamma which we have it.
- Saṅkhatato – Oppress by taṇhā with conditioning. We have to look after the body all the time for survival, and also with works as a living; protecting it when it’s cold or hot, from mosquitoes bite, washing the face, brushing teeth, going to the toilet, bathing, etc. by conditioning it in many ways. We’re supporting for the body for the whole day and feeding it. Are you not tired about it? What are you gaining from it? Nothing! It’s only ageing, sickness and death. You benefit nothing from it. You have to look after it for the whole time doing this and that. All these things are saṅkhatato conditioning and making adjustments. It’s quite a suffering.
- Saṁtapato – Always burning with the fire of kilesas. What’ll happen tomorrow we don’t know? We’re worrying for our wives and children (including for oneself and there are many things to talk about it) after waking up every day; always in the state of worries and concerns. Worry and concern for our livelihoods. In the whole world, new dukkhas are arising successively because of these worries and concerns. With attaining the khandhas and the whole world is burning with fire of defilements. (If we observe and contemplate today world things are becoming worse and worse. Over greed, hatred and delusion, human beings develop unsustainable economics, science and technology, etc.) You must see the fault of the khandhas.
- Vipariṇāma – Oppressing by changing. The khandha is moving towards ageing, sickness and death every day. You can’t make it not getting old. There are many diseases. Some are unable to cure, new and strange diseases are arising. When we were young never heard about cancers, AIDS, etc. Still now we can’t overcome malaria disease. We’re worrying about these things. Why we’re alive? It’s not wrong, if you say just for suffering. Why are we here? It’s for sufferings and living with sufferings. We can’t make dukkha not to arise so that we have to learn how to live with it. For example, we’re struggling and competing with other passengers in riding public buses. What’s the affection of it if you’re in this kind of life? Do you want it again if you see the faults of this khandha? Why do you want this khandha? Because you don’t see the faults. If you see it and you don’t.
For an example, a woman had a son. The son grown up and fell in love with a girl in the village. Then the mother forbade him by saying, “Son, you shouldn’t love this girl.” Do you think he would accept it? After not succeeded and she told him, “Son, I’ll not say again. But tomorrow is full-moon day. The moon is bright and beautiful. At night if you go to her, don’t come back, wait and see what’ll happen!” Then the time arrived, at 11 p.m. the girl asked him to leave. He responded to her; “I’ll not go home tonight.” and embracing her tightly. At 12 a.m. midnight a rounded thing shot out instantly from his bosom. When he looked up, it was the girl’s head. It was called witch bright (direct translation of the Burmese words.) In reality she was a witch. He didn’t dare to get up, instead in the state of fright and trembling. He had to embrace her body and waiting there. In the early morning it went back to normal again.
The next night the mother asked him; “My son, do you want to go again tonight?” The mother asked him because seeing his unhappy face. His answer was; “Oh! No, I’ll never go again.” Why he responded like this? Because he saw the great fault of hers. You will go back again if it’s you old guys because you don’t see the fault of it. (referring to the audience.) Weariness and disenchantment of the khandhas means seeing the faults of the khandhas with knowledge. Development is practicing to see its faults. Only seeing as dukkha, you’ll become weary of it. Your weariness even become not wanting to practice. Mind and body become tired of it. Even though you don’t want to contemplate it still have to contemplate. At last become Esa magga visuddhiya – it’s the path to purify.
With the purified mind, magga arises. The mind not purify is because of diṭṭhi (wrong view). After diṭṭhi falls off and magga arises. The whole time you’re struggling with the practice means how much clever diṭṭhi is. It’s sticking with you in many different ways. For example, a strange thing happens and you don’t contemplate and the mind is following with it.
Therefore the most important point is stabilizing your sati. If something happens without sati and diṭṭhi is sticking with the mind. You must not concern for the khandha. The purification of knowledge is magga – Ñāṇadassanavisuddhi. I’ll talk about the arising of magga. But don’t expect for it to arise. I only want you to know how it happens. It’s something like the whole burning body of dukkha sacca instantly falls away. Or like a light instantly go out. If it’s slowly ceasing or reducing, then it’s not magga. It’s happening within a second. How quick it is, even sometimes you don’t know it? You don’t have time to think about it. It’s akāliko – giving the result without delay.
After the Path Knowledge arises and instantly follows with two fruition cittas. (Someone with the keen the faculties follows with three fruition cittas.) The fruition cittas are enjoying the result of magga citta. This kind of experience you have never been enjoyed in the world. It’s supramundane – lokuttara and within a second. Just only think and this kind of thing happens again. I’m not saying you have to believe. It’s true or not can be tested. You have to show me by entering the fruition state. Some yogis don’t have anything for contemplation and it’s peaceful. With this don’t make a decision yet. With the peacefulness and it’s like a statue. Have to make a resolution before entering the fruition state. If you make a resolution for an hour time and like a statue for an hour. You don’t need to check it with the clock. After opening the eyes and it’s exactly an hour. Not in accordance with these two points, then not the Path Knowledge.
Day 17: 2nd November, 2002
It’s important to think about that today we’re closer to the top of the mountain, and have to practice hard. The retreat will finish tomorrow and could I attain the Dhamma? Is it possible for me? All these thoughts can come in. If it comes in have to be aware that it’s diṭṭhi. I’m talking a lot on diṭṭhi and the yogis become confusion. Then you may ask; “Ven. Can’t we free from diṭṭhi?” Yesterday a laywoman said to me; “Ven. Sir, shouldn’t we battle with it for winning?” Why should you battle for winning? It’s wanting for success. What is wanting? Wanting is greed – lobha. Then I told to her; “Don’t want to win and also don’t want to lose.” Middle way means stay away from the two extremes.
In the Dhammapada, the Buddha said about not winning and not losing. Then how should we do it? We have to practice to become someone who abandons winning and losing, because both of them have the self view. The winner could have danger. (Some years ago, in the west, an ice-skate champion’s leg were broken by a thug. This man was hired by another skater who had lost the competition.) He will think of when the loser will fight me back; whereas the loser has stress. Someone who abandons both is happy. At that time the mind can be in the state of imbalance (i.e., with the extremes). Samādhi decreases. Climb to the top in a normal way and you’ll arrive there. If you stop or slow down and not arrive there. Ledi Sayadawgyi had said before, you just soaked the beans in the water and when the time was ripe it would expand (i.e., a type of large bean common in Burma).
In the world all the phenomena have their times. You plant a mango tree and want it to bear fruits tomorrow is impossible. In the winter wanting it to bear fruits also impossible. It’ll bear fruits in the summer time. Performing our tasks is also in the same way. It’ll finish when the time is ripe. There was a Hindu story. A gardener domesticated a monkey at home. One day he had a business to go somewhere and instructed the monkey; “I have planted some small plants. You need to water them to take roots.” The monkey was intelligent and watering the small plants every day. After watering them for sometimes, it came back to pulled them out to check the roots; and then planted them back into the soil. If the monkey did it like that the plants would never take roots.
The Buddha and Sayadawgyi (i.e., Mogok Sayadaw) had said that the yogis should do like someone rubbing two pieces of bamboos to get fire. After rubbing for sometimes become tired but the fire still not coming out yet. So, I’ll rest for awhile. Here also you’re working hard and still not seeing Nibbāna yet. We’re tired now and should have a rest. After rejuvenate our strength and continue it. Now, I already have heard some voices like this from you: “I will continue with this together in the future if I don’t get it now”. It shows the sign of low spirits. During the time of rubbing the bamboos for fire and become tired, then resting for a while and continue will never get the fire. Therefore whatever it may be, wanting to get the fire has to continuously rub the bamboos from the beginning to the end until it comes out.
Sayadawgyi said that arriving to the knowledge of disenchantment would know the uselessness of the khandha and would you want it again (i.e., disgusting and useless – without essence). Not wanting is the most important point. By getting the khandhas, bones were piling up like mountains. I want to talk about myself. Compare with you all I’m very unlucky. Because I was living among wrong views and doctrines (these were God based religions, western and eastern philosophies and other worldly knowledges) until my 35 years of age (see the introduction). Most of my past lives were born as Buddhists, even not an ordinary one. Instead I was serving for the benefits of the Buddha Sāsana (such as Buddhist kings). But not becoming stream enterer before (i.e., sotāpanna) that in this life was born into the parents of without the Sāsana.
If you were born by Muslim parents and also become a Muslim. You don’t have any chance and choice for selections. I tried to become a Buddhist from the time I had the knowledge about Buddhism. I became a Buddhist only at the age of 35. At the time of making this decision still not a true Buddhist yet and only in name. Every year in the university I filled my application forms as no religions. (Here he continued to talk about his early life as a Buddhist and got lost in wrong teachings of worldly sects, such as tantra, mantra, and occult practices.) I took myself as a bodhisatta and not practiced vipassanā.
A bodhisatta (as a real one) must have completed with the following eight factors.
It’s only right as a human and a male for me. I don’t have other qualities; such as encountered a Buddha and had his prophecy before. I had made myself as a bodhisatta with conceit and craziness (most people are self style bodhisattas). At the time when I made the decision of practicing vipassanā, my age was near 50.
Luckily, I did the practice. And when I was discerning impermanence suffered greatly for three times. This was near the arising of the knowledge of disenchantment. At that time I didn’t know Mogok Sayadaw’s teaching yet. But I did know the nature of how knowledges happened. It seemed like bitten by nine poisonous snakes, and I was very frightened. Enough was enough, and I didn’t want to become a Buddha anymore. At once I put down my desire of becoming a future Buddha. Having this severe and miserable khandha and I didn’t want to become a Buddha. Even this kind of khandha I didn’t want it for another life. I would fight with it to the end. My mind changed in to this direction.
The description about bhaṅgañāṇa (the knowledge of dissolution) and bhayañāṇa (the knowledge of fearful) was feeling the whole body fallen apart like sand grains. So, I was waiting for it to happen. But what I experienced was like this: a very sharp pointed iron rod which was fired into red hot. It seemed like with this red hot sharp pointed rod poking in between the big toe and the other toe. It was burning, hot and sharp sensations. With one poking, it bursts into flames. It was happening for the whole day. It was internal combustion. I went to the teacher and reported about it; “You told us before that it was like sand grains fallen apart. But I was burning with fire.” The teacher gave me the answer; “Yogis are not the same nature. Some are leading by air element, some fire element and some earth element, etc. So, there are different yogis. The elements have seven types of nature.” Later I knew these things gradually.
(The teacher was talking about the common experience in the practice. there was a book on samatha/vipassanā practice by one of the Saya Thetgyi’s disciples. It was “Diṭṭhadhamma Vipassanā”, clear explanation about the experiences of insight development; based from the suttas, commentaries, Ledi’s Dipanis and yogis’ experiences.)
Later U Ko Lay was approaching to me. (U Ko Lay was a former vice-chancellor of Mandalay University and a disciple of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.) He said to me; “U Sun Lwin, you’ll realize the Dhamma. This Dhamma had been confirmed practically before. But don’t talk with other.” At that time I was doing walking meditation. I didn’t reply to him because I had already made the resolution of noble silence. And then I did the practice without any deviation from the instruction. My insight knowledges were changing progressively. At that time I didn’t know anything about dispelling wrong views. (Not studied Mogok Sayadaw’s dhamma talks yet.) But I did know about dispelling diṭṭhi with the practice. I had put down my desire of becoming a Buddha. If I didn’t get this khandha again was good enough to me.
And then arriving to the knowledge of equanimity towards formation saṅkhar’upekkha ñāṇa. I knew that my knowledge was changing. There were some Dhamma Quotations pasted in the meditation centre. One of them was; “Don’t concern about it; with the concerning and it’ll be slanted and overturned.”
[The Dhamma Quotations seemed to be based on the sutta: “Bowl of Oil” in the Satipaṭṭhānasaṃyutta (SN.47.20 Janapadakalyāṇīsuttaṃ). A condemned prisoner carried a bowl of oil filled to the brim. He had to pass between the crowd and the most beautiful girl of the land who danced and sang exquisitely. If the prisoner was restless and the oil bowl slanted, his head would be chopped off because an executioner was following behind him with a sword. If the prisoner had passed the crowd without spilled any oil and he was free.]
I didn’t understand them. If you’re arriving to the last stage, you have to be equanimous or indifferent to the formations (saṅkhāra dhamma). Don’t want to be in winning and losing, but to be in equanimity. If not, diṭṭhi will stick with you. We’re not free from diṭṭhi for our whole lives. We’re suffered from diṭṭhi. It’s our companion from young ages. From births parents were starting to teach us. They’re our first teachers. They’re teachers teaching you to stick with diṭṭhi. I’m not blaming the parents. In accordance with the culture they have to be in this way. This is your father, mother, grandpa, grandma, etc. By giving names and become you and me. If I’m calling your name and will turn around and looking at me. Even it’s the same name and you’ll turn around. It’s not easy to change the whole process. We are in conditioning and it becomes a habit. We are making it to become a habitual tendency.
The Russian psychologist Dr. Pavlov said that human beings were exercising themselves from the conscious mind into unconscious mind; for example, type-writing, playing piano, etc. With learning and practicing, at last no need to do it carefully or mindfully and it becomes automatic. In the world all we learn are for doing in this way, changing the conscious into unconscious mind. This is the way of worldlings. The way of Buddha was doing everything knowingly and mindfully. This is not an easy way to make the conditioning into deconditioning. Does it not become conditioned by doing it again and again?
Dr. Pavlov did an experiment about it. In the morning he placed a plate of foods near a dog, and bound it with a chain for not reaching the foods. After ringing the bell and put the plate of foods in front of it. And then only the dog had the chance to eat the foods. Next day he fed the dog in this way for some time. At last he rang the bell and not gave foods to the dog. Even the dog not seeing the foods and its saliva were dripping off.
We’re making the conditioning in the reverse way. We’re practicing satipaṭṭhāna for changing the unconscious mind into conscious mind. Before diṭṭhi stuck with us was not knowing clearly. So, we need to contemplate with sati. Mogok Sayadaw said that without the middle way couldn’t realize Dhamma. In reality only after dispelled diṭṭhi is on the middle way. (This point is very important for all Buddhists, especially for practicing yogis.) Practicing in the extreme way could not realize the Dhamma. It’s self-mortification – atta-kilamatha nuyogo.
Another way is: I’ll not realize the Dhamma, so following one’s desire in the practice. He will want to give up when in the difficult situations. Enough now! I’ll try it again in next time. If you’re giving up, then this is following your desire. It’s the easy way – kama-sukhallikanuyogo. You have to practice in the middle way. It’s equanimity – upekkhā. You’re seeing anicca, dukkha and anatta. How to pay attention to (or) contemplate it? This is also not to do for a long period of time. Now instantly diṭṭhi falls off and instantly magga arises (Path Knowledge).
The layman who came last night was upasaka U Myint Htoo. In my whole life of propagating the Dhamma I had never seen a yogi suffered more them him. At the time of near realization his under feet were like cutting open with the razor blades. He informed me, “Ven. It’s so painful that my tears were falling down with the pain.” He was a teacher at a Mogok Vipassanā Centre. (As a teacher himself and not realized the Dhamma yet.) He had been practicing for a long time before, so lay down his conceit when came to me for the practice. He made a decision of during the practice, if the teacher was saying as white colour and it would be white colour. (i.e., have confidence in the teacher. This point is very important for yogi who practices under a teacher.) I would do it whatever the teacher told me. Only after making this determination, and he came to me for the practice.
(He had made the right decision. There was an interesting incident between Sāriputta and his former teacher Sañjaya Belatthaputta (Sañjaya Velaṭṭhaputta). After he and Mahā-Moggallāna became stream winner (sotāpannas), they went to see Sañjaya. They requested him together became the disciples of the Buddha. He rejected by asking them as, in the world which types of people were more between the wise and the fool. Sāriputta gave the answer of more foolish people than wise. So, Sañjaya told him not to worry for him of no followers. Because more fools would come to him and only a few would go to samaṇa Gotama. This point was very important because human beings will not be wise and intelligent without wholesome and wise educations.)
When he was suffered very badly and I asked him to have a rest. And then he asked me; “Ven. Do you know my spiritual faculties?” It wasn’t, and only I wanted him to have a rest. Not because I had this knowledge on faculties. At that time it appeared in my mind like this that asking him to rest. (Ven. Ānanda also practicing very hard and his spiritual faculties were in the state of imbalance. He wanted to lie down mindfully and had the realization in the process.) Without the practice having a rest made him uneasy. But he continued with the contemplation by lying down. He was practicing after the dhamma talk at seven p.m. and nothing had happened. So, it was better for him to sleep. It was between ten and 11 p.m. From lying down with his back and turning to the right side. I told them before that yogis should lie down on the right side. But he wanted to turn to the left side. During turning the body from the right to the left side as soon as his back body touching the floor, magga arises. (The Path Knowledge.)
Therefore realization of Dhamma is not just by sitting. When you let go of yourself and it can happen. It could be possible within second. Wanting to attain the Dhamma, the thought of letting me die with the practice is including lobha and dosa states of mind. With the practice, one has to be indifferent or equanimous to the situations. Attainment or non-attainment is not our matters. Our task is practicing rightly.
Day 18: 3rd November, 2002
Today is arriving to the last day. Let me give you the five precepts today. Because after arrive back home and you can take your dinner. So, it’s not the observance day precepts (i.e., the eight precepts). It’s the last day and the mind becomes restless. You may think I would not realize it. Even this state of mind was arising yesterday to some yogis. If I don’t get it this time and next time I’ll do it again. This is wrong thinking. The period you have from the morning until mid-day is very important. You only don’t know about it but the Dhamma develops regularly by itself. Here the point is, it still not arriving to the level it should be or turning point. In Mogok Sayadaw’s talks anubodha ñāṇa was like this or that nature when it arrives to this level. These kinds of knowledge talk by teachers.
(There are two knowledges, anubodha ñāṇa and pativedha ñāṇa or insight knowledges and the Path Knowledge.)
Without listening Dhamma talks you can’t do the practice. People who want to practice at my centre have to listen or study my Dhamma lectures on Dependent Origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda). These were seven days lectures. The knowledge comes from these are called ñāta pariññā – fundamental knowledge with full understanding.
(These are: knowledge about mind and matter, and the knowledge of cause and effect. In vipassanā practice there are three stages of full understanding. (tisso pariññā)
- Ñāta pariññā – knowing their natural characteristics – sabhava lakkhaṇas.
- Tīrāṇa pariññā – understanding with one’s own decision. Knowing with three characteristics, as insight knowledges: sammāsana ñāṇa and udayabbaya ñāṇa.
- Pahāna pariññā – knowing with gradual abandoning, as insight knowledges: from bhaṅga ñāṇa onwards.)
All these lectures explained what Dependent Origination was, what khandhas (groups of aggregates), āyatana (sense bases), etc., were. Talks were giving in details for seven days with 14 talks. (It is important as a true Buddhist to have these intellectual knowledges for all Buddhists; if not, they are just in names only. Mogok Sayadaw used it as suññatā dhammas.) With these talks khandha paṭiccasamuppāda processes are in the yogis’ minds. Mogok Meditation Centres are also teaching these things. But here I talk more widely and in details. Here, we have to use these knowledges. At First, dispel diṭṭhi by listening to Dhamma talks. After that, use them here during the practice. (This point is even more important for someone without a teacher or staying away from a teacher during the practice.)
First, work with to get the sacca ñāṇa. This is called anubodha ñāṇa. It’s practicing with the knowledge gaining from a teacher. I had been a teacher in the university before. In university there are curriculums, different course of study which are directions and how to do it with them in each level. There are three parts, here in our practice. The first part is satipaṭṭhāna – to develop a strong mindfulness (sati). We had been worked for seven days with Samādhi. What happened among the yogis? Some not practiced properly that not arrived to the level it needed. They didn’t arrive to the levels of upacāra and ekaggatā samādhi (access and one-pointedness of samādhi).
After seven days, we have to change for the development of insight. I have laid down the programme in this way; after this and that etc. If the yogis within the seven days not attaining the Samādhi by practicing loosely, then only wasting times without Samādhi. These yogis will encounter difficulties in the practice onward. For a meditation retreat, the yogis should prepare himself for it. Someone came here with other encouragement and practiced without the yogi standard couldn’t realize the Dhamma. This point is very important. Yogi must behave like a yogi. Therefore the yogi took it as not important and practiced loosely. Yogi has to live alone with one mind. He must live alone without companions, so looking for a quiet place. Where can you find it in Rangoon? Therefore don’t talk with others. In the past ages hermits and sages renounced the world for this purpose.
The yogi must practice with the supreme effort (sammāppaṭṭhāna) and with the spirit of without giving up. I was thinking about the differences between someone could attain the Dhamma and someone not. I found out a significant point. The one could realize Dhamma put his mind in the practice for the whole time. Every time if he had problems, came and asked me. It was seriousness in the practice. He had the desire (chanda) of using his whole mind and body in the practice. They had very strong interest in the practice. Therefore they were easy to realize the Dhamma.
In this retreat I have strong expectation, because seeing some yogis with their mature spiritual faculties. Yesterday already one person had appeared for the goal. This is the first time organized retreat in Rangoon. I have been worried that it wouldn’t go well. Yesterday with the success of a yogi and it was worthy for it. Now, the time still we have is valuable. It doesn’t need a lot of time for the Path and Fruit Knowledge to arise. If the time is right, it's instantly within a second. We have to practice continuously only we don’t know when it’ll arise. We must practice with anubodha ñāṇa. You must follow exactly what the teacher has said. You must have strong faith (confident in the Dhamma) and good health. With the practice we found out those yogis’ health was becoming better.
(Buddhists had many records on these cases. Because of the bojjhaṅga (factors of enlightenment or purification of the mind) the body illness coming from the mind or kammic illness can be cured.)
We didn’t find people became unhealthy. Practicing with straightforward mind is also important. You shouldn’t lie yourself and others. Don’t say which is not happening as it happens. During the interviews not deceive the teacher (most importantly for oneself). Practicing diligently all days and nights and the mind has to be in the practice. With these factors will discern impermanence (i.e., strong faith, good health, practice with straightforward mind, practise diligently and discernment of anicca).
(Mogok Sayadaw made it as some Dhamma verses for yogis. He said if a yogi developed these five factors would realize Dhamma.) Within ten days you’ll discern impermanence. (Maybe this is one of the reason Sayagyi U Ba Khin started the ten days retreat at his centre.)
And then a female devotee (upāsikā) came and asked me; “Ven., could we discern impermanence?” I told her “I promise, you can do it. But I can’t promise you for the disenchantment of impermanence and its ending.” (i.e., nibbidā ñāṇa and the Path Knowledge.) Discerning impermanence is call cūḷa-sotāpanna. The doors to woeful planes are closed for one life time. This is a state of a three rooted person. (Born with three wholesome roots: non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion.)
Before, I had arranged ten days retreats and I only found one yogi had the attainment. After the yogis were discerning impermanence, ten days had come to an end. They didn’t have the chances and times to follow for disenchantment and its ending. Then we’ll try for 18 days (such as now here). If we can’t have the results, then we maybe try for 27 days. With the arrangements for 18 days and found two or three yogis had the results. At one time even found 15 yogis at my centre in Taunggnoo. Someone with sharp knowledge (wisdom faculty) and can be practiced like a genuine yogi will realize it. It’s impossible for all the yogis.
For yogis still not get the results this time is very important. With the maturity of the anubodha ñāṇa and pativedha ñāṇa arises. The yogis have to practice like rubbing two pieces of bamboos. What are the differences between anubodha and pativedha ñāṇas? Anubodha ñāṇa has two points. In theory there are a lot to say. This khandha is inconstant. You have to discern impermanence. This is not me and mine. What did the engineer who came yesterday and said to me? He said to me; “I’m contemplating but don’t believe in impermanence, inconstant anicca.” This is the nature of someone couldn’t realize Dhamma. He was growing up all the times with the stable constant nicca.
And then I gave him an example; “Today you’re getting older than yesterday.” “Are they the same, between the khandha of today and the khandha of yesterday?” He answered that it couldn’t be the same. If it was not the same, then there was a lot of impermanence arising and passing away between yesterday and today. During the practice he couldn’t see it. But thinking with knowledge he could see it. I asked him again; “Now, you’re sitting here. What happen to the floor and the khandha? Are they at a stand-still?” He answered that they were at a standstill. I told him; “They are not in a standstill and moving with the earth. Can’t you see it?” “Yes, I am” “But you couldn’t see it with the eyes. So, look at it with knowledge. Which one is more right?” He answered that looking with knowledge is more right. These are the things blocking your way.
Climbing up to the second level is dukkha sacca (the truth of dukkha). In the khandha only dukkha exists. I had seen yogis oppressed by air element (vāyo dhātu). You only see the movements of the air element and not as oppression by them. In the khandha, there are stiffness, tension, pain, etc. Many kinds of oppression arise. Is it suffering or happiness? It’s suffering. Do you see it? No! I don’t see it. Why don’t you see it? It’s good to ask this question. You had been taught to live with dukkha in your life. There are a lot of economic difficulties and problems in Burma (i.e., from 1962 onward). But still you know how to live with it because you had been taught about dukkha sacca. Therefore with these attachments, even encounter with dukkha and don’t know to resist it. Khandha only shows you one thing. Whatever arises is dukkha.
The layman U Myint Htoo, his under feet were like cutting open with razor blades. Every time he practiced and it happened to him. Who knows! What he had been done in his past lives? Is it good to feel it? Is it not suffering? Sometimes a yogi’s head was hitting the floor with “bang! bang!” by the air element. It was oppressing the yogi. The oppressive dhamma is its original nature. Having it, and you have been oppressed by it. We don’t have yogis with water element here (āpo dhātu).
There was a Shan woman practicing with standing meditation and all the urines fell out. Her whole body was wet with sweats. All the liquid came out from the body. (Shan State is in N.E of Burma and known as Thai Yai in northern Thailand.) Khandha only shows you one thing which is dukkha. It’s impermanent, dukkha and not self (anicca, dukkha and anatta), actually they are one. How does anubodha ñāṇa change into pativedha ñāṇa? There is knowing it with penetration. How to know it with penetration? Making a decision with your own knowledge as truly dukkha and completely believe in it. During the practice you feel pains and aches and may think it as dukkha. After you take it off and not think in that way anymore. So, you have been like this before and now (also in the future). Never convince you that it’s dukkha. At the time you penetrate it as truly dukkha and ceases with a blip! Why the Path Knowledge not arises? Because anubodha ñāṇa is not mature yet.
First, factors of enlightenment arise (i.e., bojjhaṅga dhammas). And then the spiritual faculties (indriya) become mature. After that it becomes powers (bala). We have to make it strong for leading to the Path Knowledge. Early before, your knowledge came from the teacher. Now, you know it by yourself. You’re still wanting because not disenchanting with it. The reason is you don’t believe in dukkha. If you have confidence in it as truly dukkha, then diṭṭhi falls off and the Path Knowledge arises. Why you have been so long in saṁsāra? Because you’re concerning for the khandha. Whatever you’re feeding the khandha and at last it becomes useless. This mouth is wasting the money which you have been earned.
(The Ven. told the story of Mandalay U Gyaw and an old beggar. U Gyaw was a rich man in Mandalay and a contemporary of Ledi Sayadaw. His name was mentioned in Ledi Sayadaw’s biography. One day an old beggar was passing by his house. He invited him in and served with delicious foods. After finishing, he asked him how he felt about the foods. The old beggar’s answer was: “I don’t know it’s good or not. But what I know is they are the same, becoming excrements, whatever good or bad is.” Human beings are wasting their times, energies and natural resources for sensual pleasures. The outcomes are natural disasters and many problems in societies.)
About the Translator
By Bhikkhu Uttamo
There is nothing worthy of mentioning about it. Only the Dhamma has value.
- Born in 1948 in Burma. This is the beginning of the Dukkha.
- In 1980 moved to Taiwan.
- In 1986 went to Thailand and in 1988 took the higher ordination (became a monk) at the Monastery of Loong Por Chah’s Forest Tradition.
- Stayed in Thailand until 2005, and then
- Spent four years at branch monasteries in Italy and New Zealand.
- In 2010 returned to Taiwan.
- Now is living in the east coast of Taiwan. (2021)
At last, everything will come to an end and become empty.
It is just a dream.
revised on 2021-10-21
- Content of "Eighteen Days in Solitude"
- Content of Publications of Bhikkhu Uttamo
According to the translator— Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.