MOGOK SAYADAW'S WAY
TO THE VIPASSANA PRACTICE
Written by U Kyaw Thein
Translated by Dr. Tin Htut (UK)
The following dialog between the venerable Mogok Mogok SayadawU Vimala and U Kyaw Thein, the author of the Mogok Sayadaw’s biography and the method is a glimpse on the practice at the Mogok Vipassana Centre. It was given on a day in September 1957 (1318 Burmese era) at the Mingalar Monastery in Amarapura, Burma.
Mogok Sayadaw: Have you come to practice meditation?
U Kyaw Thein: Yes Sire, I have come to practice meditation.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right, does your family give you the permission?
They gave me the permission Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Why do you come to meditate, is it that I have only asked you?
I want to be free of the suffering in Samsara, my lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Have you developed faith (Saddha) in your mind as well?
I have the faith Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: If that’s the case you must decide in your mind that you have the rarest opportunities for being a human who is born in the Buddha’s Sasana, and to have the chance to practice Vipassana that I am going to give you. You must also develop faith in you mind that it will help you to escape from the Samsaric sufferings of old age, ailments, death, and other misfortunes and make up your mind to follow the instructions meticulously.
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Maung Kyaw Thein, you must also decide not to think of your business and your family. Try to be detached from these by using wisdom.
Yes Sire, I will renounce them.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must rely on the three main principles (Adipadhi).
All right, but what are these three principles Sire?
Mogok Sayadaw: Yes, I will tell you. Firstly, you must remember that you need to rely on yourself; that you practice meditation not for your livelihood, but to release from the suffering of old age, disease, death, misfortunes and inconveniences. This is the Attadipadhi (self-reliance principle).
Mogok Sayadaw: Secondly, you must regard life as your next principle (Lokadipadhi). You must not pretend to meditate and think of all your life affairs. Don’t be lazy, apathetic, asleep and don’t let your mind roam. Don’t do anything that is not right for your guardian angel, good Devas and those who have Abhinna (super natural powers) know. So you must be shameful of yourself if you are not leading a good life.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must regard Dhamma as the third principle (Dhammadipadhi). You must pay respect to the Dhamma and try to experience insight wisdom (Vipassana nana) directly. You must know that if you were not enlightened it was not that there was no Dhamma, but it was your fault that you did not pay due respect to the Dhamma principle. You must decide to have faith in this principle and strife with all your might.
Yes Sire. If I take these as the main principles and meditate shall I be awakened in this very life, my Lord?
Mogok Sayadaw: Have you committed the Panchanandriya kamma (five cardinal sins)? Have you killed an Arahat?
Mogok Sayadaw: Have you killed your mother or your father?
Mogok Sayadaw: Have you ever caused a split among Sangha?
No I haven’t Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right, I won’t ask you whether you have caused any physical harm to the Buddha as it is not relevant now. If you have not committed any of these sins just try your best in the practice. It will take only seven years if a person is very dull, seven months for an average and seven days for very bright persons with the right practice. It won’t happen without practice. You must work hard with faith, mindfulness, concentration, energy, and wisdom (Saddha, Sati, Samadhi, Viriya and Panna).
Yes my Lord, I will work hard and follow your instructions.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right then. You take the eight precepts.
[ After taking the eight precepts (refrain from killing, stealing, practising celibacy, refraining from telling lies, taking intoxicants, taking solid food after mid-day, and refraining from sensual indulgences such as perfume, cosmetics, music & dancing, and handling money & financial matters) ]
Mogok Sayadaw: Now you need to do the five rituals (Pubbakissa) during meditation.
Devote yourself to the Buddha both, physically as well as mentally.
Ask for pardon if you have done any wrong to parents and holy people either physically, verbally or with your mind.
Propagate loving kindness towards all sentient beings including your guardian angel and those who watch over your property, your city and the Sarsana.
Make a wish (Adithanna) for all the merits that you have gained during this life and in previous lives to result in enlightenment.
Try to realise the nature of dying (Marananussati) by thinking that you have died in your uncountable past existences and that you will have to die some day. Try to realise and persuade yourself that you must work hard before death arrives and thereby develop the effort and energy to meditate. Do you understand?
Mogok Sayadaw: Do you know how to differentiate between matter (Rupa) and mind (Nama)?
I have only the theoretical knowledge, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right, I’ll tell you. When you consider vision you have the eye and the object, which are Rupa and the image that developed in your mind is the Nama. Likewise, all six sense organs and their objects are Rupas and the sensations developed by their interactions are Namas (Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and thoughts).
You must recognise and differentiate between mind and matter in the present sensation that develops. This is called Nataparinana.
You must recognise and realise the impermanence, suffering and impersonal qualities (Anissa, Dukkha and Anatta) of the present sensation. This is called Tiranaparinana.
You must realise that the present sensation is neither your body, nor your mind and try to avoid clinging (Tanha) and self conceit (Mana) and delusion or wrong view of regarding consciousness as your soul (Ditthi). This is called Pahanaparinana.
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must differentiate between mind and matter. Then do not go after the Jhana way (for attaining super natural powers). If a Yogi wants to overcome live and death and become awakened he needs concentration of the mind just enough to develop Samadhi. Then he must practise Vipassana.
Mogok Sayadaw: Switching over to Vipassana is just like a locomotive changing rails from one to another. The contemplation of the mind is moved from Samatha (one point) to the arising and dissolving phenomenon of the current Rupa-Nama (sensation). You must remember that this is led by the mind.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must do the contemplation of breathing (Anapanna) first. It is mindfulness of the incoming and outgoing breath. You must breathe in normally and fully. Do not force it or reduce it, but breathe in and out regularly.
Mogok Sayadaw: You can focus your mind on the lips at the tip of nostrils or at the sternum, but it is better to keep it at the tips of nostrils (to be sharper in developing concentration). Whatever site you have chosen you must try to be mindful continuously.
Mogok Sayadaw: Anapanusatti is the mindfulness that occurs when contemplated on the incoming and outgoing breaths. A Yogi practising Anapananusatti fixes the mind strongly on the breathing while taking breaths regularly and normally. He first focuses the mind on the tip of nostrils and watches as the air goes in and out.
Mogok Sayadaw: Apart from this mindfulness of the touch of air he must not divert his attention to any other object.
Mogok Sayadaw: A Yogi who has developed concentration after practising Anapana must know that the person is not "you, I, male or female," but a collection of Rupa (matter) and Nama (mind) and a collection of the five aggregates. Then the Yogi must realise that the mind that registers this knowledge is the Nama. This Nama dwells in the heart. The physic that is in sitting meditation is the Rupa. You will come to know this reality by direct experience.
After this differentiation of Rupa and Nama you must understand that the collection of twenty-four physical objects is the Rupatkhanda. The consciousness that knows is the Vinnanakhanda. Feelings that associate with the mind when contemplated on sensations are the aggregate of Vedanatkhanda. Recognition of the sensations that associate with the mind is the aggregate of Sanatkhanda. The other fifty concomitants of the mind, which include all volitional perceptions except consciousness and recognition, are known as the aggregate of Sankharatkhanda.
I will need to explain further using the Paticca Samupadda to differentiate cause and effect relationships, as you may not understand thoroughly.
Yes Sire, its getting more and more clear by your explanations.
Mogok Sayadaw: That’s right. It is better to let a Yogi know the basics before giving the practical aspects.
Mogok Sayadaw: After you know the five aggregates you must also understand roughly that the past Avijja-Tanha (ignorance and attachments) are the causes of Rupa-Nama (body and mind).
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Now you repeat what I said to request for the meditation method.
"Kammathanan mae bhante detha sansara vatta dukkhataw mawcanatthaya"
Bhante please give me with compassion, the right method of meditation in order to be free of the samsaric suffering. Repeat this three times. Now go and practise for an hour on what I have just taught you.
[ U Kyaw Thein paid respect to the Mogok Sayadaw and went to his allotted place, which was not far from the Sayadaw’s room. He then started to practise Anapana as he was instructed, but could not prevent his mind from roaming for the first half an hour. He over heard the dialog between the Mogok Sayadawand a traditional medicine practitioner who was attending to the Mogok Sayadawin his room. The practitioner was discussing about a certain medicine text and the Mogok Sayadaw:told him that Metta was even more effective than medicine. U Kyaw Thein (KT)could not help his mind from overhearing the conversation and began to divert his attention to eaves drop the discussion. ]
Then the Mogok Sayadaw warned him from his room. "Maung Kyaw Thein, you are not mindful. Try to keep your mind from wandering."
[ KT was amazed when he heard the Sayadaw’s voice as it was not possible for the Mogok Sayadaw:to see him from his room. There was another room in between his place and that of the Sayadaw. He did not know how he was caught, but became very astonished and concerned and tried his best to build up the concentration. He could not remember how long he had been meditating when he was summoned to see the Sayadaw. ]
Mogok Sayadaw: Maung Kyaw Thein did you practise as I told you?
Yes I did. I have kept my mind at the sternum Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Did it stay where it was kept then?
No Sire, it didn’t at the beginning, but it stayed there later on.
Mogok Sayadaw: When Anapana is practised for an hour and have obtained Samadhi, it was not possible if you did not have perseverance. That is Viriya (effort) and with this effort you have managed to sit for an hour. This is called Samma vayama, the right effort.
Did your mind notice the movement of air at the sternum while you were breathing?
Yes Sire, I did.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, you noticed the movement of air as you were mindful. This is called Samma sati, the right mindfulness.
Mogok Sayadaw: When you were practising Anapana did you mind wander to your home? Where did it go?
No Sire, it didn’t go anywhere. It stayed at the sternum where it was kept.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, that was Samma samadhi, the right concentration. Your mind has stayed where it was kept.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right, you have developed Samadhi. However, you need to develop it further by breathing through the nose, but not through the mouth. When you are breathing do not try to notice if you are breathing with your right or left nostril, but try to develop Samadhi. You don’t need to follow other Samatha methods. If you breathe through the nose you must know that it is through the nose and if you take a deep breath you must know that you are doing so.
Very well, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: You have been instructed to keep your mind to the sternum at first. Now you must watch as the air touches the nostrils, sternum and umbilicus while you breathe in and vice versa as it goes out.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must notice the outgoing and incoming air as if through the bellows and as a string of a lathe-file rubs the stick you must continuously watch the air at the place where it touches. You must notice when you breathe faster, and must know when it is slow. You must be aware when you breath is long/deep and also knows when it is short/shallow. However, you don’t need to watch the breath in a continuos stream. Just watch at the point of contact as if a saw cuts through the timber, but not along the edge of the saw. You must focus your mind at the point of contact of the air with the nostrils.
I will, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you practise in this way and be mindful you can develop Samadhi within fifteen minutes when you become accustomed to it.
Mogok Sayadaw: You need to know that it is the Rupa (matter) that was doing the breathing and it is the Nama (consciousness) that knew what you were doing. When you can differentiate between Nama and Rupa the knowledge developed is called Namarupa pariccheda nana (analytical knowledge of mind and matter). Cleansing of views is also involved simultaneously, which is known as Ditthi visuddhi. Remember this carefully.
Mogok Sayadaw: When you meditate you must know the followings.
You need to know that there are two components of the mind. Mental factors (Cetisaka) and consciousness (Citta).
The mental factor (thought) must be in line with the consciousness when you contemplate.
Do not let the mental factor go astray from the consciousness.
Do not think of anything while meditating. Don’t let any thoughts come into the mind. If you can master your mind you can eliminate defilement (Kilesa). If you don’t you will neither be successful in your life nor can you eradicate the 1500 Kilesas.
Mogok Sayadaw: I will give you an example how to master your mind.
Suppose a herd tender wanted to tame a raw cow he needs to put a post firmly into the ground, insert a rein into the cow’s nose, and tie it to the post and tame her. Likewise, you must tame your mind by fixing it to the cord of mindfulness (Sati) and tie it up to the post of the object of contemplation in your practice. Do you understand?
Mogok Sayadaw: I’ll give you another example. If you want to catch a lizard that went into a burrow that had six holes, you need to close five holes and wait at the sixth. The analogy to this procedure would be to close all the five sense doors, namely your ears, eyes, nose, body, your tongue and then to wait at the last door, which is your mind. You will surely catch the thought as it occurs, just like you catch the lizard. Is that clear?
Very well, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right, you keep them aside for a while. You go back and continue your practice to develop the concentration further. Then you can sleep after it.
[ U Kyaw Thein paid his respects and did as he was told. ]
[ The next day he went to see the Mogok Sayadaw at five in the morning while the Sayadaw was having breakfast. There were other experienced Yogis who came to meditate and they were interviewed and assessed by the Sayadaw after the breakfast. When his turn came the Sayadaw paid more attention, as he was a beginner. ]
Mogok Sayadaw: Maung Kyaw Thein when did you start the meditation last night and when did you stop?
I started at 11.30 PM and stopped at 1AM, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: How was your Samadhi?
I could manage to get it Sire, but barely.
Mogok Sayadaw: Why was that?
I must admit that I felt sleepy Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Shame on you. That was due to excess in your determination. You must have persisted to meditate in your sitting posture. You should have changed it and did walking meditation instead, if you felt sleepy.
Mogok Sayadaw: It is all right to change the posture for beginners. As you become more experienced you may not need to change the posture when you feel sleepy.
How would I do it Sire? I don’t know how to evade sleepiness without changing posture.
Mogok Sayadaw: When you become sleepy how was your breathing? Was it quicker or slower?
It was slow and shallow, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, the breathing will be slower and you feel sleepy. Then what about your Sati at that time?
It was poor, Sire. I was not mindful at that time.
Mogok Sayadaw: "Ca catawva acasati, ca tawva pacasati." As mentioned in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta a Yogi who practises Anapana must breathe in and out with mindfulness. But you have lost mindfulness, you must never let it go.
I admit I lost mindfulness, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must breathe in fully and then breathe out fully. (You must notice as soon as the breathing becomes slower and correct it by breathing fully again. If you do not notice as soon as the breathing gets slower you may go into torpor and soon become sleepy) You must never let the mindfulness escape. If you breathe fully in this way for ten to fifteen minutes you can become alert again.
Yes Sire, now I understand.
Mogok Sayadaw: Another thing is, when you become angry don’t you breathe more harshly?
Yes I do, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, why does the breathing become quick and harsh?
I have no idea, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Maung Kyaw Thein, you note this down well. When you are angry your blood in the heart is bright red and hot. As the heart needs to beat faster it needs more energy and you have to breathe much faster. (Thus, the blood became redder and hot due to increased turbulence and flow)
Mogok Sayadaw: When you recover from anger don’t you feel that your body is weary and tired?
It is, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Why is that?
I don’t know, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Because your heart beats much faster, but you do not realise it during the anger as you are not aware. Only after it you came to know about the situation and you become weary and tired.
Exactly Sire, I have the experience.
Mogok Sayadaw: Sometimes when you are carried away by greed or desire, you say you do not have the time to become tired, don’t you?
Yes I do, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: That is you have followed your desires instead of your mind.
Mogok Sayadaw: When you meditate Anapana you must relax your body and your muscles. Only then you can breathe regularly and correctly. The Buddha said "Pacambayan Kayasankharan." That is you must breathe neither slowly nor quickly, and neither shallow nor deep, but regularly.
Yes Sire, I will follow your instructions, but what shall I pay more attention?
Mogok Sayadaw: You remember this very carefully. It is only Sati (concentration) that is never in excess. Saddha, Samadhi, Viriya, Panna (faith, concentration, effort and knowledge) must be developed simultaneously. If you could not develop them simultaneously and equally they would not be well balanced and either Uddhacca (distraction) or Htina middha (torpor or sloth) would result. At present, you have been instructed to meditate just to develop Samadhi. Don’t let it mix with anything else!
Mogok Sayadaw: You continue with the meditation after you have your breakfast. Only then you will develop the Samadhi. When you meditate let faith, knowledge, concentration and effort be well balanced as I have told you earlier. I am taking my time to explain in detail as you are a beginner. What’s so difficult to about practising Anapana. Go and practise till your Samadhi is strong and then come back.
[ When the Mogok Sayadaw left U Kyaw Thein had his breakfast and continued his practice from six to eight in the morning. However, he did not have strong Samadhi despite the extended practice and he had to try repeatedly using all available means. ]
[ After eight o’clock U Kyaw Thein helped preparing the meal for the Mogok Sayadaw together with those who came to the monastery for offering the necessities for Sangha. When everything was done he went to the Mogok Sayadaw:at nine o’clock to be assessed on his progress. ]
Mogok Sayadaw: How are you doing Maung Kyaw Thein? Have you developed good Samadhi?
Yes my Lord, I have developed a strong Samadhi now.
Mogok Sayadaw: What position have you taken to meditate?
Sire, I have done sitting meditation at the first hour and then did the walking meditation for the rest of the time.
Mogok Sayadaw: You didn’t look like you have strong Samadhi though you said so.
Can you, my Lord, tell exactly if a person has Samadhi or not just by looking the external appearances?
Mogok Sayadaw smiled and replied "Dear Maung Kyaw Thein, I will explain to you later how different a person looked if he had the Samadhi. Take a bath after you have your meal and then make sure that you have no inconveniences. Otherwise you may have to disrupt the practise if you have the call of nature while meditating. These things are very interfering with the practice."
[ Only then U Kyaw Thein realised his fault of having inconveniences while he was meditating earlier as he did not go to the loo before the six o’clock sitting. Now he did as he was advised and started the meditation from twelve noon till two o’clock. Later on he went to see the Mogok Sayadaw:in his room. Being a beginner he was given a special privilege to visit the Mogok Sayadawas often as he wished if he had any problems. ]
Mogok Sayadaw: Have you developed a strong Samadhi now?
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, you now have the Samadhi, but you must remember that Samadhi is like a column of mercury in a thermometer. It can go up and down according to the condition. When you are in meditation it is good. However, if you encounter with crude sensuality it can go down again.
Yes Sire, but I have a strong Samadhi now.
Mogok Sayadaw: All right, it’s enough. You can change over to Vipassana. First you must try to develop good Samadhi and then go to Vipassana.
Mogok Sayadaw: You are asked to do Samadhi not to encourage you to practise Samatha. You must let go of the mindful breathing as soon as the mind is calm and then contemplate on any sensation that develops without any breach. If you contemplate more and more on sensations you will come to a point where you can overcome them. You will no longer register them as sensations, but only as arising or dissolving phenomenon. You will realise that all sensations including pleasant ones, unpleasant ones and neutral ones dissipate and come to an end. When you contemplate on sensations Vedana will appear, but when you watch them with analytical knowledge you will come to know that they are impermanent (Aniccha). If this wisdom is developed it can be regarded as the overcoming of Vedana (sensual perception). If you couldn’t comprehend the impermanence of sensual perceptions you haven’t overcome Vedana as yet. When a Yogi has surpassed Vedana or has eliminated them the Yogi will feel light, agile and fresh even after the meditation is over. That is why one needs to try hard to overcome Vedana. Mindfulness of breathing in Samatha is just to make the mind calm, but it cannot lead to Nibbana. You must remember this very well.
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Vipassana is to keep the mind on the wisdom path and watch and realise the phenomenon of mind and matter as they are. The physical body that we have at present is continuously forming and decaying from cradle to coffin. It must be comprehended that impermanence (Aniccha), suffering (Dukkha) and impersonal characteristics (Anatta) are the only realities that can be found.
Mogok Sayadaw: When Rupa and Nama (body and mind) are comprehended as Aniccha, Dukkha and Anatta repeatedly, and the arising and dissolving phenomenon are perceived it is known to have reached the Udayabbaya nana. You remember? Do you understand?
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: You need to know these facts clearly. If they are not clarified beforehand using acquired knowledge your progress will not be substantial. So I will have to go further to remove false views (Ditthi) and doubts (Vicikccha). Maung Kyaw Thein, if you want to be a stream winner (Sotapanna) what should you remove first?
Yes Sire, I need to remove Ditthi and Vicikiccha first.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, where do false views and doubts lie?
I have no idea, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Ditthi and Vicikiccha are attached with the five aggregates of mind and matter.
Yes Sire, now I know.
Mogok Sayadaw: Now you know that they are attached to the five aggregates. If you do not know where these five aggregates come from and how they are arising and dissolving, you could not remove false views and doubts by any means.
All right, my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: You may have the book knowledge or have acquired from teachers that the five aggregates are Rupakhanda, Vedanakhanda, Sannakhanda, Sankharakhanda and Vinnanakhanda, but if you do not know the causes and reasons for their becoming and disintegration false views would adhere to you despite the acquired knowledge. That is why you need to know Paticcasamupadda, the cycle of dependant arising first if you want to have insight into the five aggregates. So, I will teach you the Paticcasamupadda. Go and fetch the cycle of dependant arising chart from my room. Do you still remember anything about Paticcasamupadda?
Yes Sire, I could remember only a few aspects.
[ When he brought the chart]
The Mogok Sayadaw said "Right, place it in front of you. I’ll show you. What you have learnt about dependant arising in the past was only an acquired knowledge."
I have only the book knowledge, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you do not know Paticcasamupadda there is no way you can know the aggregates. If you do not know the aggregates, false views will adhere. That’s why you need to comprehend Paticcasamupadda. Book knowledge is not enough.
Yes Sire, I will try to understand it.
Mogok Sayadaw: Do you still remember it by heart?
Yes I do, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: In that case I won’t elaborate on it (Please refer to Paticcasamupadda on the web site). You must remember that there are two forms of dependant arising. What you know from the book about Paticcasamupadda is one thing and there is also another Paticcasamupadda that is arising and dissolving in the body. You must understand the Paticcasamupadda of the body in order to make progress. Do you follow me?
Pointing at the diagram of the circle of dependent arising The Mogok Mogok Sayadawcontinued "That’s why I am going to show you the causes and reasons for arising and dissolving of the five aggregates. Do you know that your volitional responses (Sankhara) of the past existence, which were carried out without wisdom (Avijja) have resulted in the body that you have it now?"
Mogok Sayadaw: Those were in the past and therefore they were out of your control. They were past Paticcasamupadda and did not concern you. Again the future Paticcasamuppada has not arrived yet and so it does not concern you. The most important thing is to understand the present Paticcasamupadda. Is that clear?
Mogok Sayadaw: Which Samupadda concerns you?
The present one my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: What about the past?
It doesn’t concern us, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: And the future?
Mogok Sayadaw: Where do false views and doubts attach?
To the five aggregates, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, they are attached to the five aggregates. If I ask you whose hair is this, you will answer that it is your hair. The false view attaches to Rupakhanda, the hair. If I say that the tea is very nice, it attaches to Vedanakhanda, the feeling or taste. If I say that this sentence is written by me, I note down this line, then the false view attaches to Sannakhanda, the interpretation of a feeling. When I say that my weaving is exceptionally good, then the false view attaches to Sankharakhanda, the reaction to a feeling. And if I say "Don’t you dare try me" then the false view attaches to the Vinnakhanda, the consciousness or self esteem. These are the places of attachment, do you follow me?
Mogok Sayadaw: Then you must detach the false views and doubts from the aggregates. Theoretically, if Rupa and Nama (matter and mind) can be differentiated they say that false views are detached. However, there is one more thing to understand.
Only when you understand the cause of Paticcasamupadda and the effect of Paticcasamupadda you will detach yourself from false views and doubts. If you know the cause of aggregates you can eliminate the false views. If you don’t, the false views will stay. If you know that the effect (of anything that happens in you) is due to the causes of aggregates, then you can eliminate the false views totally.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you understand that there are only causes and effects, but no persons and beings (non-personalised view) you can eliminate the false views.
Very well, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: What you need to work is the present Paticcasamupadda. It doesn’t mean the whole day, but what you see or hear at the present moment. It is important to watch the present moment when you meditate now. Don’t recall the past and don’t look forward to the future, but watch what is happening at present. By the way, how old are you now?
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, even if your are forty you may consider that you have the same appearance as you were in your younger age, then it is Sassata Ditthi, the unchanging perverted view.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you consider that you can risk your life for money, that you do not care about your life as you think that there is nothing after dying (dying is better than suffering), then it is Uccheda Ditthi, the annihilation view. You must not consider like this as well. Do you understand?
Yes, my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must cleanse of these two false views (Sassata and Uccheda dtithi) first before you meditate.
Yes, I’ll do it, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you know the disintegration phenomena of mind and matter you cleanse the Sassata ditthi, and if you know the arising phenomena you cleanse the Uccheda ditthi.
I’ve cleansed them, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, it is only with the book knowledge. Is that clear? Don’t attach yourself to mind and matter as "You, me."
Very well, Sire. I will no longer get attached.
Mogok Sayadaw: Then it is enough. Go to a quiet place and start the meditation. You practise Samatha only to get a good Samadhi (concentration). Sit straight, know the incoming and outgoing breaths, the Samadhi will become good, then you must not lax the effort at that time. Let the awareness (Sati) and knowledge (Panna) go together, the physical body will start showing changes and you will notice sensations (Vedana). Try to overcome the feeling that arises, if you watch your mind focus on the thoughts. If a sound is heard while watching thoughts you must notice that it is heard.
Very well, Sire. I will watch and register whatever comes.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, after you register it you must consider that your mind is your consciousness. Then contemplate on the incoming and outgoing breaths with your consciousness and consider that those are the two hosts of consciousness. If you hear a sound while watching it is the hearing consciousness, if you smell anything with your nose it is the smelling consciousness. Likewise you register your taste consciousness with your tongue and seeing consciousness with your eyes. If you feel a pleasant sensation on your body it is the pleasant consciousness, if it is unpleasant it is the unpleasant consciousness.
"Dukkha sahagata kayaVinnana sukha sahagata kayaVinnana" as the literature goes, there will be an unpleasant feeling on the body sometimes and a pleasant feeling on the body. There are altogether six consciousness including these two on the body. You note it down.
Mogok Sayadaw: Are these six thoughts always occurring in the mind?
Mogok Sayadaw: They occur occasionally, so they must be regarded as "External Visiting Consciousness."
Mogok Sayadaw: When one thought occurs the other five thoughts do not arise. If a mosquito bites you while watching (your two hosts) breathing consciousness, an itching or an unpleasant consciousness may follow, then watch that itching consciousness.
Mogok Sayadaw: How many external visiting thoughts are there altogether?
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, are these thoughts always there?
Mogok Sayadaw: Next, there are five "Internal Visiting Thoughts" that associate with consciousness. They are thoughts of greediness (Loba), anger (Dosa), delusion (Moha), absence of grasping (Aloba), and absence of aversion (Adosa). Amoha is not included here as it is the consciousness that must watch other thoughts. Therefore, the five internal visitors and six external visitors, altogether eleven visiting thoughts must be watched whatever that arises in the consciousness. When one thought arises the other five do not arise. Just watch the existing thought that occurs.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, if none of these thoughts occur go back to the consciousness of breathing in and out and watch continuously. These two are the hosts consciousness, remember?
Yes I do, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must follow the example of a spider while meditating. Spiders make webs and wait in the middle to catch any insects that are caught in the web. They go after whatever insect that is caught in the web, devour them and return to the middle. As a spider waits in the middle when there is no insect, you must also do the same and watch your breath when there is no thought.
Mogok Sayadaw: When you contemplate on consciousness a thought that tells you to start meditating will arise first. Watch that first thought and you will notice that it arises and falls subsequently. It will disappear as soon as you sit down to meditate.
Mogok Sayadaw: Try to see it with your mind. When you contemplate on it you will know that it has disappeared. This sort of knowing of actual phenomena (what’s happening) is called Yathabuta nana.
Mogok Sayadaw: If there is no thought arising, you watch the incoming and outgoing breaths alternately. You need to watch this very carefully. If you can follow this quickly you will progress, but if you are less aware of it your progress will be slow. If there is a defilement (Kilesa) in-between the two breathing consciousness you won’t progress. Try to prevent the Kilesa intervention. If there is no object of meditation and you don’t watch, Avijja can come in. You must be aware of this fact. Do you understand? Now go and meditate.
Very well, Sire.
After having the instructions U Kyaw Thein departed and practised meditation from 2 to 4PM. Together with a huge crowd he listened to the Sayadaw’s discourse given to the public at four o’clock. Then at eight in the evening he went to the Sayadaw’s kuti in order to be assessed. While attending to the Sayadaw (Sayadaw let male Yogis to massage him to give them a chance of gaining merit) he was asked of his progress.
Mogok Sayadaw: Did you get good Samadhi?
Yes my Lord, and I also saw the Divine light.
Mogok Sayadaw: Oh no, you don’t have to bother these. When Samadhi is good you can experience all Panata nimita (conditioned signs such as light, halo, smoke, rapture etc.) as well as Paramatta nimita (unconditioned signs). You do not have to follow these (as they can retard the progress).
Yes Sire. Mogok Sayadaw: Did you experience Vedana as well? Yes I did, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: How did you experience?
When I sat for a long period my legs became painful, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Did you follow that?
Yes I did, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: You have created yourself pain unnecessarily. You need to know the right posture for sitting meditation.
Yes Sire, I do not know how to sit properly.
Mogok Sayadaw: Sit in a cross-legged position, put your spine straight, don’t lean to either the front or to the side. Don’t let your head bend either. When your body above the spine moves back and forth or sideways, the spinal column doesn’t stay in alignment and you will feel pain often. If that was the case you couldn’t get Samadhi, let alone to overcome Vedana. The lower part of the body should also not to be under severe pressure. Don't’ let the legs press each other (semi-lotus position). If you let the legs pressed, they will become numb and painful as the vessels are occluded. If you do not sit in the proper position you create pain unnecessarily. Do you understand? These facts are important for beginners like you. The Sayadaw let the Yogis meditate in whatever posture they prefer, but he recommended sitting posture as it could give concentration easily. For those who haven’t started the practise yet they should consider their health in choosing the posture. Sayadaw mostly used layman terms and examples to suit the audience. The following dialog has been written from U Kyaw Thein’s notes while he attended the Sayadaw every night. The author expressed his responsibility if there were any errors.
Mogok Sayadaw: The incoming and outgoing breaths must be regular. If they are too harsh or too rapid it will be like a self-torture. When you inhale your breath air and heat (Tejo) enters the lungs through the pharynx, larynx, trachea, right and left bronchus. It then reaches the air sacs through very small tubes and the energy (Tejo) is transferred to the various parts of the body. So, you must sit straight to let the lungs expand. Only when the air sacs are filled with air you can sit for hours. If you cannot fill or empty the lungs fully you can become breathless and tired. This is important for those who meditate.
Mogok Sayadaw: When you take a breath the heart beats four times. You breathe approximately sixteen to eighteen times per minute, then the heart beats from sixty four to seventy two times. If you breathe rapidly just imagine how much the heart has to beat. You may get ailments instead of the Dhamma.
Yes Sire we are sure to get disorders instead.
Mogok Sayadaw: A Yogi meditates in order to attain Nibbana that is free of all sufferings. It is not possible to acquire the objective by an extreme practice such as self-mortification. The Buddha had admitted that he did not obtain Magga and Phala nana when he practised Dukkhacariya (self-mortification). That’s why you need to strive moderately following the Middle Path (Majjima padipadda, in-between the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification).
Yes Sire, I will strive moderately.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, I will tell you further how the body functions. Powered by Tejo, energy obtained through the lungs, nourishment is produced in the intestinal tract and it is distributed towards all parts of the body (the arising phenomenon). The blood carries back the waste products that are harmful and toxic. They are excreted from the respective organs and are disposed off as sweat, gasses, faeces and urine (the dissipating phenomenon). The toxic and bad gasses must be disposed off through the lungs with the expired air. Blood is pumped through the vessels by the beating of the heart and is therefore rising and falling as well. The bad blood that is foul and dark is pumped to the lungs and the purified red blood that carries new Tejo comes back to the chamber of the heart. This excretion and purification process goes on and on and we call this as staying alive. (The Sayadaw explained the physiology that he had experienced in layman’s terms)
Yes Sir only with your explanation I now know how we are staying alive.
Mogok Sayadaw: Our heart is about the size of a fist. It has a dry red colour and has a hollow chamber. In this chamber there is a fistful of red blood. This good blood is pumped towards various parts of the body four times during a single phase of breathing. The heart is covered with a thin fine white membrane that looks like a muslin sheet or a cobweb. The right chamber pumps the bad blood into the lungs.
Yes Sire. (The following is the elaboration on the Burmese measurements to explain the measurement of fistful).
Mogok Sayadaw: By the way I’ll tell you the measurements. If an average person lifts with his index finger some grains from a heap of paddy, it is called a Taletsar Sunn (a finger-tip of rice for the Sangha). Four such tips are called Tasoksar (a fistful), four fistfuls make Taletkhuk (a handful). Four handfuls are Taletze (a cupful), four cupfuls are Takhwet (a bowl), and two bowls make Tabyi (a tin). Four tins are Taseik (a quarter), four quarters a Tadin (a bag), four bags make Tadaung (a basket), four baskets are Tabok (a heap), four heaps are Tagut, four Guts one Kyat and four such Kyats make Tagyi (a warehouse).
Mogok Sayadaw: For you to know now, Hadaya rupa, the place where mind stays (it may be regarded as the soul by some) is in a fistful (Taletkhuk) of blood in the heart chamber. This Hadaya rupa is the place where the Mano and Vinnana (consciousness), and Citta and Cetasika (mind and mental factors) reside. Our body has to follow the orders of Mano Vinnana and Citta (mind and consciousness).
Mogok Sayadaw: That is why it’s not me or you, or any body else. The Buddha said “ A sariyan guhasaran” and “missu visaw guhasayaw” in the Dhammapada, Satta guttra Pali scriptures. This is called Sada tuvibinga contemplation.
Mogok Sayadaw: The Buddha said “Dear Sangha, mind and consciousness has no mass, but lies in the chamber of the heart. Agitation and anger lies in the heart chamber and it is like the messenger of death.”
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: With the influence of mind and mental factors a fistful of blood inside the heart’s chamber takes different shades and colours. If passion (Raga) occurs the blood takes the colour of bright red like that of mercuric oxide. If anger (Dosa) prevails it turns darker. And if delusion (Moha) is present it is watery and insipid, just like washing from a chunk of beef, reddish and watery.
Mogok Sayadaw: If there is a worry and the mind is restless (Vitaka) the blood becomes cloudy and turbid like that of the water of boiled beans. If there is faith (Sadha) it turns into pale yellow and whitish. When wisdom (Panna) prevails it changes from pure white to clear and has a reflective shine like that of Zarthithaya and Manizawta rubies (best quality rubies).
Mogok Sayadaw: When the blood is pumped out from the heart it spreads through the main arteries towards the whole body, taking the appropriate colours as that of the mind. When it is influenced by anger the dark blood spreads and soon the person becomes red and shaky, isn’t it Maung Kyaw Thein?
Mogok Sayadaw: The blood and the aura of the body then turns into dark brown .A variety of unwholesome deeds have been committed by that time.
Mogok Sayadaw: In the case of Buddha and Arahats, the blood inside the heart’s chamber is extra-ordinary clear and reflective, and the whole body shines and gives off radiant colours.
Is that so, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: When people goes mad it is the blood in the heart that has changed. If someone has a profound fear the blood becomes cold and concentrated and therefore the person feels cold and clammy. If there is extreme fear it becomes very cold and thick, and may die as a result of the blockage of vessels and stopping of the heart.
Mogok Sayadaw: There are two valves at the entrance of the chambers that close and open rhythmically following the mind impulses. That is why the blood circulates through the whole body with the rhythmic beating of the heart.
Mogok Sayadaw: The mind is related to the blood in the heart. If the blood is temperamental the mind also becomes out of control. I have taken the time explaining all this to you. You better note it down carefully.
I have my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: You need to send the best blood from the heart through the two neck vessels to the brain in order to have good control of your whole body.
Yes my Lord, if the best blood is not sent to the brain what will happen?
Mogok Sayadaw: If good blood is not sent to the brain dizziness, fainting attacks and mental disorders can occur, and finally death can result. Only when good blood reaches the brain sight or CetkhuVinnana can occur in the eyes, hearing or SotaVinnana can occur in the ears, and Ghanavinna (smell) and Jivhavinna (taste) occurs at their respective organs. Your real consciousness (ManoVinnana) is attached to the mental objects (Hadaya vattu). The present moment lies in the mind and the mental objects, and that’s why it is very important to watch the mind and mental objects.
Mogok Sayadaw: If I give an example, say a fire has broken out in the area where you live. You will say in your mind “My house will be on fire.” As soon as you hear the news the worry in your heart will go right into your head, and don’t you panic and nearly faint?
Definitely I will panic, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Why? It’s because the worry causes the blood in your heart to get heated up and cannot send good blood to the brain. Only heated blood of worry and anger goes into your brain and it sets fire.
Yes Sire, it will be on fire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Later on when you hear the news that your house is safe, you will say “Oh what a relief, now my panic has gone.” Why is that? It’s because the heat of worry and anger has cooled down and your heart has sent cool and good blood to the brain. Don’t you have a phrase that is used commonly? “Keep cool, don’t panic.”
Yes Sire we say it in important situations.
Mogok Sayadaw: That’s why we must not upset the heart or damage the vessels. If you press both vessels in the neck hard, you will faint as a result of upset in the blood that is continuos with the heart. Maung Kyaw Thein is that clear?
Mogok Sayadaw: That is why you must keep the neck straight when meditating. If it is bent either sideways or forward and backward for a long period, torpor, sloth and faints can develop. I have to warn the Yogis quite often on this aspect. If sloth or torpor develops when the head is bent in this way it is not a part of the Dhamma phenomena, but a result of wrong posture. I am telling you these details as you’re a beginner. It’s enough for today. Now go and meditate. U Kyaw Thein meditated as he was instructed and found that he could sit longer than in the past. He was delighted and satisfied with the results. He went to see the Sayadaw the following day.
Mogok Sayadaw: Yesterday I have told you about the physical body and about the posture while meditating. Today I will tell you about how to contemplate on the six basic elements and how to analyse and experience them in reality. It is called Sadatu vibinga kammathana in Pali. Now listen carefully.
Mogok Sayadaw: The six elements are “Pathivi abosa, tejosa vayokasa vinanidan, nesawhasami netanme, evam tatha virijjati. Evam virattam khemattan, sabba sanyaw janatigan, Anwesam sabba thanrsu, marasaynapi nijagati.” Pathavi or the element of earth (mass/matter/solidity) has two forms. The outer Bahidda and the inner Ijjatta.
Mogok Sayadaw: The outer form of the element of Pathavi (matter) is the visible form of objects such as earth, forests, mountains, tree, monastery, house and buildings etc. The inner form of Pathavi is the matter that makes up living beings. There are twenty components of Pathavi in our body. They are (1) hairs, (2) cilia or fine hairs, (3) nails, (4) teeth, (5) thick and thin skin, (6) muscles, (7) vessels, (8) bones, (9) bone marrow, (10) tendons, (11) heart, (12) liver, (13) membranes, (14) connective tissues, (15) lungs, (16) large intestines, (17) small intestines, (18) new food, (19) old food or excreta, and (20) brain. The two inner elements of Pathavi that are not included in the list are kidneys and testis. The Pathavi elements have different shapes and forms, and are distinctive from one another. Initially you just remember them as such.
Mogok Sayadaw: You can contemplate them in this way. Imagine in your mind that you have placed your hairs and nails in one hand and some dust from a cemetery in the other hand. Compare these two forms of Pathavi elements and consider that neither of these are I or mine, but just the element of matter and basically they are the same.
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: For example, if you dispose off your hairs and nails, which are the inner forms of Pathavi element, they will become outer forms of the same element. They will be the same as the dust from a cemetery. If someone digs, cuts, clears and burns the outgrowth and weed from the cemetery of your ancestors, you cannot consider that the person is digging, cutting or burning your ancestors though their flesh and bones would have returned to dust by then. You cannot tell that it is your ancestor although it’s the same element of matter as the dust.
I cannot tell Sire, it must be the same element of earth.
Mogok Sayadaw: The next element is Abo (liquidity), which has a watery nature. It is also described in general as the outer Bahidda and the inner Ijjatta. The outer form of water can be seen in oceans, lakes, streams, puddles, rain etc. Any source of composed fluid that has a nature to flow is the outer form of Abo.
Mogok Sayadaw: The inner form of Abo can be seen in any liquid substance of humans and animals. They can be enumerated as (1) bile, (2) phlegm or sputum, (3) pus, (4) blood, (5) sweat, (6) fat, (7) tears, (8) lipids or lymph, (9) saliva, (10) nasal discharge, (11) secretions, and (12) urine. Any body fluid that has a tendency to flow is classified as inner form of Abo. They are altogether twelve in number, but milk and seminal fluid can also be added in the inner water category.
Mogok Sayadaw: Any liquid that is excreted by animals and humans will change into outer form of water, don’t they?
They do, Sire.
Mogok Sayadaw: Then you imagine that you have a cup of water from those outer sources and a cup of urine that you’ve excreted. If you study these two forms of water, do you regard any of those as you or your water? Don’t they have the same qualities of liquid, to cohere and to flow in general?
Mogok Sayadaw: Tejo is the heat energy or fire element, which has the outer and inner forms. The outer form of heat Bahidda can be seen as destructive fires, heat of the molten lava inside the earth, fire for cooking, and fire that ignites from heat. Frozen polar regions, ice capped mountains and forests are other extreme forms of heat. Temperature in both forms of heat and cold is regarded in general as the outer form of heat element.
Mogok Sayadaw: The inner form of heat element Ijjatta is seen in animals and humans as Omsa fire, Pachaka fire, Sandapana fire, Daha fire, and Jirana fire.
Mogok Sayadaw: These five inner elements of heat or cold can be elaborated as follows. The body temperature is the Omsa fire. This is the absolute heat that can be found in all parts of our body including skin and tissues below the skin (it may be regarded as metabolism). If this heat is extinguished the creature dies.
Yes Sire. Mogok Sayadaw: Pachaka is the fire that digests all foods in the alimentary tract starting from pharynx to anus (it may refer to acid in the stomach and digestive juices.) It is most active in the stomach and upper intestines. If this fire exhausts the person dies.
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Sandapana is the extreme form of body heat often associates with infantile and adult disorders (metabolic disorders, hyperthyroidism etc.), gynaecological disorders (urinary tract infections) fever, and inflammatory conditions. Heat due to prolonged pressure on limbs while sitting meditation, heat generated by rubbing the palms, burns and heat stroke, the heat in stressful conditions and in anxiety are included.
Yes Sire. Mogok Sayadaw: Daha is the stronger form of heat than Sandapana. It is found in extreme conditions like hyper and hypo-thermia, which often lead to death.
Mogok Sayadaw: Jirana is the heat that causes ageing and it is separate from the other four forms of heat.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you compare the outer forms of heat with the inner forms you will find that they are neither yourself nor your property, but only heat and its characters. They are generally the same and you should contemplate to realise this point.
Mogok Sayadaw: Vayo is the element of air (expansion and movement). It has two forms as well, the outer form and the inner form of air. The outer air is the wind and hurricanes, air form the bellows used in alchemy etc. Any air that has blows and moves things, and causes a pressure.
Mogok Sayadaw: The inner air is the form of air that occurs in breathing, air that regurgitates from stomach, air that moves in the intestines and purges from the anus, air in the chest and abdomen, and air in the blood circulation. These inner forms of air have the same qualities of movement and expansion.
Mogok Sayadaw: I won’t go into detail for the first four forms of inner air, as you already know them. I will tell you briefly how the last two forms of inner air cause ailments and problems.
Mogok Sayadaw: When the air in the chest and abdomen goes wrong they escape into the cavity. They tear the membranes that separate them and can cause death. It is called a dagger air. When the air in the circulation goes wrong it can block the vessels in the eye, ear, jaws, neck, body and limbs resulting in paralysis. This air will definitely cause trouble (it is called air blade).
Mogok Sayadaw: Especially the air in my blood will definitely block the vessels and cut off the air supply. When my Kamma exhausts it will cut off. It’s only a matter of time Maung Hla Bu, it is waiting! U Hla Bu: Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: You have come to meditate just in the nick of time before the air in my blood gives trouble. Soon they will cut off the vessels and escapes. You remember this Maung Kyaw Thein?
Right Sire, but can medication be helpful?
Mogok Sayadaw: Oh Maung Kyaw Thein, drugs are only temporary aids.
Yes Sire. Note: On the thirteenth night of new moon phase of Tawthalin (September) in 1318 Burmese Era (1956) (over six years before the incident that took the life of Mogok Sayadaw) this discourse on the six elements was given. The Sayadaw had predicted his faith and the cause of it exactly on that day. This discourse was given at eight o’clock during the special night discourses section and has been recorded on magnetic tape.
Mogok Sayadaw: As the blood clots and the air escapes when the vessels let go, you will say that it is a disruption in the air (Burmese terminology for Cerebro Vascular Accident or stroke). No, it is actually the disruption of the Kamma! U Kyaw Thein could not forget these words. He did not know the intention and could not understand why the Sayadaw spoke those words at that time. It was over six years ahead that the Sayadaw had given this discourse.
Mogok Sayadaw: You place your hand in front of your nostrils and feel the air as you breathe in and out. Then imagine the air that comes out from the bellows. You will notice that both air have the same quality of movement and pressure.
Mogok Sayadaw: You must know that the air that comes out of your nose is not you and it is not yours either.
Mogok Sayadaw: To tell you how to contemplate on this Kammathana, you imagine a tree that has moving branches due to wind, as your body. The whole tree is the element of earth (matter). This earth element cannot move on its own, cannot change from one place to another. The earth element of the branches moves with the wind. Likewise, your body is also the element of earth. Your limbs and your body parts, which are elements of earth move due to the movement of air inside. I will give you evidence. During the time of the Buddha there was a monk by the name of Nagacamala Thera. When he went for alms round into a city he saw a beautiful dancer at the crossroads. She was dancing in full swing moving her belly, chest, and hips charming and the crowd who were watching her performance. The monk remarked “Well she is beautiful, dances well and that’s why the crowd of Anda Puthujhinna (lay people) get attached to her charm.” Then he looked into the realities and considered that the beauty was not the lady, but only Rupa and Nama, the five aggregates. That dancing and moving of the parts were also the movements of the inner air, earth and water elements. Ingamanganusari, the inner air element movement that caused the eyes, eye lids, chin, arms and legs to move. It was the same as movement of the branches of a tree when the wind blew. It was the same as Bahidda, outer air movement that moved the branches. He then developed the factor of mindfulness (Sati sambojjinga) and turned to the body with the penetrative insight (Dhamma viyaca sambojjinga). While the Thera was at alms round he attained Arahatship with this meditation.
Very well said, my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: A person who does not understand the elementary nature and the arising and dissolving phenomenon like yourself will enjoy the dancer’s performance. That’s why I am explaining the six elements and the five aggregates to you. Is that clear? These are very important.
Yes Sire, I come to understand now.
Mogok Sayadaw: Right, I must continue with Akasa, the element of space. It has also the outer and inner forms. Any space in between the layers of earth, above the earth, and at the surface are the outer element of space.
Mogok Sayadaw: The inner element of space is any cavity in the body that does not touch with other elements. For instance aural canal, nasal cavity, oral cavity etc. ( it also includes sub atomic space between proton/neutron and electrons). If you see a cave or a hole in the tree trunk you can compare them with the cavities inside your body and must realise that they are essentially the same. You must know how to view generally and avoid personal attachment.
Yes Sire, I know how to view now.
Mogok Sayadaw: I will give you another example. I will show you how to analyse the five elements from a pot of boiling stew. You follow me carefully.
Mogok Sayadaw: The chunks of meat and vegetables in the pot are the elements of earth (Pathavi). All the liquid in the pot is the element of water (Vayo). If you dip your finger into the stew it will burn. That is the element of heat (Tejo). The vapour rushing out from the pot is the element of air (Apo). You must remember that the area of the pot above the stew is the element of space (Akasa).
Yes Sire. Mogok Sayadaw: Right, if you touch a chunk from the pot you’ll burn your fingers. What that burns is not the chunk and the chunk is not the heat. The chunk is the element of earth (matter), and the heat is the element of fire (energy). Energy has no mass. If you touch a flame and try to grasp it, you’ll know. If you dip your finger into the liquid it’ll be hot. The liquid is not the heat, it is the element of water (character of cohesion and flow). The heat is the element of fire.
Yes Sire. Mogok Sayadaw: Then you put your palm over the hissing vapour. It’ll be hot. The heat is not the element of air (character of movement and pressure). The vapour is not the element of heat. The vapour and steam is the element of air, the heat is the element of fire that is burning in the elements of earth and water. The heat is the hotter form of fire (energy/temperature). There is also a cooler form of fire that associates with the five elements. A bottle of fizzy drink in a refrigerator is a good example of the cooler form of fire (water, earth-chemicals, gas, cold, and space).
Mogok Sayadaw: You can even compare the five elements from a pot of stew with the five elements of the earth and the universe. You may use modern terms and nomenclature for these elements, but it’s the same. It is essentially similar in the elementary level. There are only five elements. These are the basic building blocks. Apart from them there is nothing (Natthi kinsi).
Mogok Sayadaw: Then do you have any difficulty to view the inner and the outer five elements together and regard them as similar and that they overlap?
It’s not difficult Sire, I can try.
Mogok Sayadaw: If you look into yourself, you’ll find nothing apart from these five elements and your consciousness.
Mogok Sayadaw: Now I will go to the element of Vinnana (consciousness). “ Namatiti Namam.” It is called Nama as it has an affinity for and leads to the object of attention. (The last thought at the verge of dying will have an affinity for a rebirth and it leads to the object of attention at that moment for the place of rebirth. Usually it will relate to a sensual thought and the place will depend upon the purity of the thought, which is rather less pure and results in the four states of deprivation. It is very hard to control the thought and is even harder at such a stressful time as dying. Only those who have practised Vipassana effectively can control the thought in such a situation.)
Mogok Sayadaw: The five elements that I have told you earlier are the constituents of the body mass. “Rupatiti khaw Beikhevi tamsa rupanti vachati,” are the Buddha’s words that come from the Khanda vagga Pali. Dear disciples, (Sangha) the Dhamma of the element of earth, fire etc. are unstable and insubstantial as they change and vary with temperature. That is why they are called Rupa. To surmarise, the six elements are condensed into Rupa (body, matter) and Nama (mind, consciousness).
Mogok Sayadaw: The congregation of Pathavi, Tejo, Apo, Vayo and Akasa elements is called Rupa, matter elements. The movement, the vibration and destruction of these matter particles are perceived and registered by consciousness that is called Vinnana.
Yes Sire, only now I know how to differentiate between these two.
Mogok Sayadaw: Do you really understand what I have just told you? You all know that the outer five elements are not you or any person, but you still regard the inner five elements as persons and beings. If the composition of inner five elements is not substantial, as they appear to be, and is perceived equally as a composition of outer elements, will you still regard them as persons or beings?
No my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Will you still regard them as you, me, males and females. Males and females are a composition of the six elements. It is only a conditioned belief, a concept that doesn’t exist in reality. The only real things that exist are the six elements. The nature of hardness and softness (Pathavi), cohesion and flow (Apo), hot and cold (Tejo), expansion, compression and movement (Vayo), the space, the partition in-between these elements (Akasa), and the consciousness (Vinnana).
Yes Sire. Mogok Sayadaw: Right, if someone tells you that they are persons, animals and beings you will not accept if you understand the real nature of these compositions. You will reply that they are accepting them as such out of ignorance (out of the lack of wisdom and intuition).
Yes my Lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Then Maung Kyaw Thein you now understand clearly that they are Rupa and Nama elements? You understand what I have told you tonight, don’t you? I have explained how to eliminate Ditthi (false view) using Patica samupadda (dependant origination). You must meditate, watch and know the arising and dissolving phenomenon of mind and matter. If the arising and dissolving phenomenon of mind and matter is perceived, it is Yathabuta nana, the logical and sound knowledge. If aversion for arising and dissolving phenomenon develops it is Nibbidda nana, the insight of aversion for existence. If the arising and dissolving phenomenon of mind and matter end, it is the Magga nana, the insight on liberation. You must remember these very well.
Yes my lord.
Mogok Sayadaw: Yathabuta and Nibbidda nana see the arising and dissolving phenomenon. The Magga nana sees the end of the arising and dissolving phenomenon. Your duty is to work now.
Yes Sire, my duty is to work.
Mogok Sayadaw: Now you go and meditate. Maung Hla Bu and Maung Chit Sein must help him if he has any problem.
U Kyaw Thein promised that he would try his best and left the Sayadaw. He did as he has been instructed and came to understand the realities at the experiential level.
U Kyaw Thein promised that he would try his best and left the Sayadaw. He did as he has been instructed and came to understand the realities at the experiential level.
These discourses are translated from a collection of discourses compiled and transcribed by U Kyaw Thein and published the Mogok Vipassana Society. As they were delivered extemporaneously a few lines have been edited to lend themselves better to reading. However, care was taken to edit only obvious repetitions and in some sentence constructions that were difficult to translate directly. I must admit that I had to struggle with translating the Pali terms and spellings, which were a bit different from Sinhalese and Western Pali. Despite these difficulties I have tried my best not to deviate from the original description. However, potential error in the translation is unavoidable and it is solely the translator’s responsibility if there was any gross error in the article.
Tin Htut Sheffield, UK 6 July 2000