Discourse on dhamma concerning full accomplishment of morality


It would appear appropriate and proper to regard the Sīlavanta Sutta Dhamma as a standardized Rule of Procedure to be invariably practised by those who are either meditating or are inclined to take up meditation practice with seriousness of purpose for the attainment of Magga-Phala-Nibbāna.

The reason being that in this Sutta, it has been fully and precisely preached that an ordinary worldling accomplished with the virtues of morality will undoubtedly become a Sotāpanna, if he contemplates with earnest devotion the nature of Upādānakkhandhās and truly realizes them as Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (suffering), and Anatta (Not-Self). In the same manner, if a Sotāpanna (Stream-Winner) proceeds with the practice of insight meditation diligently, realization of the truth of the dhamma will be achieved which will elevate him onto the stage of Sagādāgāmi. The Once-Returner (Sagādāgāmi) will again move up to the next stage as a Non-Returner (Anāgāmi) if he continues to go on with the practice of insight meditation with all heart and soul. Then again, an Anāgāmi continuing the practice of meditation with proper mindfulness will, if true realization is developed, become an Arahat. Hence, it is obvious that one cannot even aspire to become a Sotāpanna if the procedure or guideline as stated is not strictly adhered to. More significantly, if morality or rule of conduct is not properly observed, or, even with the full accomplishment of morality, if no contemplation is made with mindfulness on the conspicuous Upādānakkhandhās at the moment of seeing, hearing, etc., or, if there is no knowing of the fact or awareness that they are in reality Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta, the stage of Sotāpanna cannot possibly be reached.

The salient feature herein emphasized is to note with constant mindfulness on the reality of the nature of Five Upādānakkhandhās by which the truth of the dhamma with the characteristics of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta will be distinctly known leading to insight-wisdom of varying degrees.

Mention has been made in this Sutta that if bent upon contemplating the dhamma with an all out endeavour, a person should first of all, be accomplished with Sīla Visuddhi (purified conduct), which out of the seven kinds of Visuddhi, is initially the fundamental requisite for the purpose of insight meditation.

The light has been shown in this Sutta by way of imparting knowledge relating to the erroneous concept which goes to say in contradiction as: "It is not at all necessary to meditate and contemplate since Anicca, Dukkha Anatta have been known to us. It would be sheer misery if contemplation is made, and only if the mind is given respite without resorting to contemplation, mental peace and tranquility can be achieved." The elucidation given by the author in respect of such an irrational concept as being definitely wrong amounts to giving a firm ruling in consonance with the noble wish of the Blessed One. The decision given is a dire necessity particularly at the present day as there has been a number of dissentient views entertained by different sects that had sprung up from the time immediately after the conclusion of the Third Great Buddhist Council-Saṅgāyanā. For lack of such a ruling in the distant past, Ashin Mahāmoggliputtatissa Thera had, at that time, preached the great Kathā Vutthu Dhamma eradicating Micchā-diṭṭhi of all sorts, such as, the doctrine of Individuality or the like which was deep in the heretical view of Atta, etc. In those old days however, no false beliefs had appeared that prohibited the method of practicing the Noble Eightfold Path and the practices connected with the Samatha-Vipassanā. Now that false doctrines have gone to the extent of prohibiting or preventing the practical exercise of meditation on the lines of the Noble Eightfold Path. Hence, if such heresies cannot be deterred or nipped in the bud, the three divisions of Sāsanā, namely, Pariyaṭṭi (pursuit of scriptural knowledge), Patipaṭṭi (Practical exercise of Vipassanā meditation) and Pativeda (Insight Knowledge leading to Magga-Phala) may soon be faded out.

As contained in its original teachings, Sīlavanta Sutta reveals, in particular, the right method of practical meditation and is preventing the springing-up of these false beliefs and heretical concepts. This Sutta Dhamma expounded and written by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw will no doubt prove to be an asset to those who are honestly desirous of following the true and Noble Path leading to Magga-Phala-Nibbāna.

The Discourse on Sīlavanta Sutta is the Dhamma that was originally delivered by the Venerable Ashin Sāriputtarā, the First Apostle of the Lord Buddha in response to the query made by the Venerable Ashin Koṭṭhika, an eminent Thera endowed with the special knowledge of Patisambhidhā to enable such noble-minded people to distinguish between right and wrong. The Sutta Dhamma is now elucidated and presented by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw adorned with beautiful expressions couched in pithy, simple and easy language.

In especial, the peculiar feature of this Sutta is the strikingly rare revelation of the noble and distinctive qualities inherent in a Sotāpanna. This would not only benefit yogīs in many ways but will make it possible for them to measure up the degree of their own respective spiritual attainments and reject any fallible misgivings one might have inadvertently entertained. This is, indeed, a blessing. Moreover, it is a magnificent exposition of the practical Dhamma in accord with the Mahā Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, relating to the basic exercise of contemplating the manifestations of the Five Upādānakkhandhās, aggregates of clinging or grasping; the development of mental consciousness of the marks of anicca and dukkha; the Law of Dependent Origination; the behaviour of rūpa seen realistically through mind's eye; the doctrine of anatta; cause for appearance of sense of cravings and the way to eradicate craving instincts by means of insight-wisdom achieved through the practice of Vipassanā; and how, with the application of right concentration and mindfulness, Sotāpanna and higher stages of progressive insight can be achieved. Briefly put, this Sutta inspiringly discloses the undoubted reliability of the Method of Mindfulness contemplation on the phenomena of the Five Upādānakkhandhās for the dramatic achievement of the different stages of insight-wisdom up to Arahatta-Magga-Phala after having equipped oneself with the purity of good conduct or morality.

Furthermore, a variety of strength of a saintly Arahat have been vividly described, e.g., as to what kind of mental disposition he is endowed with; how his physical behaviour can be judged; and how he is devoid of āsavas, depravities of the mind. An Arahat who has automatically swept away all nīvaraṇas, obstructions in the way leading to higher consciousness and insight wisdom, always remains mentally alert. The revelation of such noble attributes of an Arahat is really informative and interesting. The guiding principles mentioned in this book are authoritative and precious for those who are really keen in practicing Vipassanā meditation.

May you all be able to inexorably contemplate on the right lines of Vipassanā meditation in the present existence foreseeing the unavoidable perils and miseries that lie ahead in the incessant rounds of life existence, Saṃsāra, and expeditiously attain spiritual enlightenment leading to the blissful state of Nibbāna.

Min Swe
(Min Kyaw Thu)
Buddha Sāsanā Nuggaha Organization
Mahāsī Sāsanā Yeikthā.

Chapter 1



(Delivered by the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw on the 14th. Waning of Tabodwe, 1328 M.E.)

My discourse today will be an exposition on Sīlavanta Sutta of Khandhavagga in Saṃyutta Nikāya to which Sīlavanta Sutta is complementary. In speaking of the one, the other will be relevant.


Once Sāriputtarā Thera and Mahā Koṭṭhika Thera were spending their days together under the tutelage of Buddha residing in Migadāvana monastery or Deer Park at Isipatāna in Bārāṇasī. Sāriputtarā is too well known as pre-eminent for wisdom among Buddha's disciples to need any introduction. Mahā Koṭṭhika is less known. But among Buddha's 80 senior disciples he was unrivalled in the knowledge of dialectics or Patisambhidā-ñāṇa for which he also gained pre-eminence.

Patisambhidā is an analytical or dialectical science which generally speaking, investigates into the meaning and purport of word used in the scriptural texts with a view to accuracy. There are four divisions of this science, viz. (1) Attha patīsambhidā, which enables a student of the Dhamma to get at the true meanings of the words through proper etymological analysis. (2) Dhamma patisambhidā, which enables him to understand the text properly, (3) Nirutti patisambhidā, which teaches him the method of grammatical or syntactical analysis and (4) Patibhāna patisambhidā which endows him with facility in the appreciation of literary compositions or disputations, All Arahats are deemed to be proficient in this knowledge; but Mahā Koṭṭhika was an outstanding scholar in this respect. So Buddha declared him as the first and foremost among the Arahats excelling in Patisambhidā ñāṇa.

The two Theras took up residence in a rectangular brick building, called Catusala, which enclosed an open yard in the middle of which there was a well.


Once Mahā Koṭṭhika, having spent the whole day in ecstatic meditation, rose from the jhānic trance, approached Sāriputtarā, and broke into a friendly conversation with the latter to whom he put the following question.

            Friend Sāriputtarā! How should a Bhikkhu, accomplished in morality, devote himself wisely and well to the practice of the Dhamma?

First we must understand what a Bhikkhu is. He is defined as one who foreseeing the dangers of the round of existence called Saṃsāra, strives after emancipation from it. When a layman seeks admission into the Order he makes the request that he be ordained in order that he may become liberated from this saṃsāra. But what is this saṃsāra?

All sensations arising from the six bases of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind cause dukkha, suffering or misery. But under the spell of avijjā or delusion, an individual regards them as pleasurable and become attached to them, encouraging taṇhā, craving, to arise. It then makes it cling to the sense-object when upādāna operates. Then the triumvirate, avijjā, taṇhā and upādāna conspire together to create the round of kilesā, defilement of the mind. Once under the influence of desire, a form of kilesā, a man becomes blind to everything except the fulfillment of his desire which works up kamma, action that causes new becoming. This is life or bhava which arises out of the ashes of the past existences. But in the course of life a being is liable to become old and sick and finally death overtakes him with sorrow, lamentation, suffering, etc., attendant upon it. These are the results of actions or kamma that I have spoken of and they are called vipāka. Now we have the three rounds of kilesā vatta, kamma vatta and vipāka vatta and these three constitute the rounds of rebirths called saṃsāra.


Saṃsāra is the most frightening. An individual gets born and then dies to be reborn and to die again ad infinitum till the world ends. But there is no way of knowing when it will end, for, existence has no end nor beginning. Having been born, a man grows up into an adult, full of knowledge and experience. Then he dies and gets conceived in the womb of a young woman. Looked at from his past existence that young woman who is going to be his mother might be about the age of his grand daughter. What an irony of fate; Albeit he has to gestate in his mother's womb, beret of intelligence and capability that he acquired in his previous existence, at least till he sees the light of day and lives through the first year of live. Gradually he grows into a man. Life, however, is hard for him, for he has to work with the sweat of his brow for the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter. During his struggle he may suddenly fall sick. This is dukkha for him. In the struggle for existence he may be victimized by his rivals. This is another dukkha. Here, dukkhas visit him when he is unable to attain what he cherishes, and eventually old age overtakes him. Then comes illness which brings his life to an end. In this way dukkha prevails.

The same dukkha is more conspicuous in the animal world. Animals rarely die of natural death. Chickens, ducks, cattle, pigs and the like are killed for human consumption. The lot of beeves is far more heart breaking. They first render service to humanity as beast of burden to become meat in the end. Life in the jungle is also not secure, to say the least, for animals, for, there the weak is also meat for the strong. Besides animals there are other beings that haunt the abodes of suffering called apāya and naraka of the nether worlds. There are also beings of the peta-world and of the asuras (who are usually described as fallen angels). There suffering is at its height. Those fortunate enough to be reborn in this human world consider that they have nothing to do with those in the abodes of suffering. But consider it wisely. If humans do not believe in Kamma, Kamma-result, Kusala (wholesome actions) and Akusala (unwholesome actions) they would certainly be free to do evil at will. It is people like them who rush in to get a place for themselves in any of the abodes of suffering.

One may say that one can find happiness in the world of devas (deities). But there too one may find cause to be sad when one cannot get what one desires. When a deva dies with unfulfilled desires, he may have unwholesome thoughts as he dies, and such thought may drag him down to the nether worlds. If fortunate he may, perhaps, get reborn in a better world like the world of the humans; but still he cannot escape suffering due to aging, disease and death. Such will be his lot for many an uncountable existence; and if he fails to practice vipassanā, he may repeat falling into this lot for eons to come, wandering endlessly in the saṃsāra. This is said not in a blind faith in the doctrine of rebirth, but in deference to the law of cause and effect as shown by paticcasamuppāda, the law of Dependent Origination. If one truly studies the cause and the result of actions, one may come to the realization that the round of rebirth is suffering indeed. It is because of this realization that a lay man enters the Order with a mind to get emancipated from woes and miseries of saṃsāra.

When one becomes a bhikkhu, one is required to practice sīla, morality. A newly-ordained monk is held to be pure and innocent for at this stage no opportunity can arise to pollute his mind. His verbal or physical behaviour is usually sound. It will be well if he tries to maintain this state of innocence by establishing himself in Sīla by observing precepts and other codes of ecclesiastical conduct. Once in a while he might come to think that he has failed in the observance, in which case he should make a confession and get instructions from his superiors for moral rehabilitation. Then he will be absolved from all blame and his Sīla remain unblemished. If he is thus accomplished in morality, what shall he do next to show his devotion to the dhamma? That is the question posed by Mahā Koṭṭhika.

In the introduction I have made a reference to Sutavanta sutta. In that sutta too Mahā koṭṭhika asked how a bhikkhu, accomplished in learning, should devote himself to the dhamma. Taking these suttas together, it may be asked: How should a bhikkhu, accomplished in Morality and knowledge, devote himself to the practice of dhamma? For the present discourse, I shall deal with the first part of the question relating to a bhikkhu accomplished in morality.


This question is answered by Sāriputtarā in the following manner.

            Friend Koṭṭhika! A bhikkhu accomplished in morality, should bend his mind wisely to the five upādānakkhandhā, aggregates of clinging. He should observe them as impermanent and unsatisfactory, like unto a disease or a canker or a thorn in the side. They are maleficent. They afflict one like ague. They behave like strangers. They tend to dissolution. They are void. They are non-ego. With this correct mindfulness a bhikkhu must meditate on the five aggregates of clinging.

These II ways of looking at the aggregates of clinging as expounded here by Sāriputtarā agrees with the teaching of Buddha in Jhāna sutta. First, however, the aggregates now mentioned need be properly understood. There are four aggregates, namely, kāmupādāna, clinging to sensuous objects, diṭṭhupādāna, clinging to wrong views, sīlabattupādāna, clinging to wrong religious practices and attavādupādāna, clinging or the idea of self or ego.

In the world of the senses, sensations are created by sense-objects coming into contact with the six sense-bases. The result is the growth of attachment. It is the work of Taṇhā, craving. The other three modes of clinging arise from wrong views. Of the three, the basic is attavādupādāna which recognizes the five aggregates of mind and matter as self and permanence. The second type, sīlabattupādāna goes contrary to the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. For details please study the seventh chapter in the second part of my discourse on Paticcasamuppāda. The last type, diṭṭhupādāna, relates to the false religious ideas which negate the law of kamma and its results. All these four Upādānas in the final analysis boil down to craving and wrong views.


            Thus craving and wrong views form the two main types of clinging to the Khandhas, the five aggregates of mind and matter. When Rūpa or form, the object that we see appears on the eye-basis, we say that we see. We then assert that the eye-object, the eye-basis and the form are all tangible, being the product of a living personality. The eye is living, the object is living and the physical body that sees and recognizes the object is living. It gives up the impression of the existence of "I" So everyone of us says, "I see." Everyone of us clings to that "I". To test yourself whether clinging to the "I" or self exists, please ask yourself the simple question, "Whom do you love best?"


This question was answered in the time of king Pasenadī Kosala. The story goes like this.

Mallikā was a flower-girl. One day she met Buddha on her way to the garden. Moved by faith, she offered some cakes to the Enlightened One, who told her that because of her meritorious deed she would become a queen. At that time king Pasenadī was fleeing his kingdom for having lost his battle with king Ajātasattu. By chance he arrived at the flower-garden and was received by Mallikā who cared for him well. When peace was restored he made her his queen.

Not being a courtier like others in the palace, Queen Mallikā was lonely. Knowing this the king asked her a question in the fond hope that her appropriate reply would justify his showering more favours on her. "Do you" he asked, "have any whom you love more than you love me?"

Queen Mallikā thought to herself, "No doubt the king wants a negative reply signifying that I love him more than I love anyone else. But I cannot tell him lies just to please him."

So she said, "You Majesty. I love myself best. I have none whom I love more than I love myself."

This failed to please the King. So Queen Mallikā posed the same question that the King posed to the King himself. "Do you, she said", "have anybody whom you love more than you love yourself?"

The King had to admit that he had none.

Next day the King related what passed between him and his Queen to Buddha who then told him thus.

"Go forth to all the points of the compass and find one who loves others more than one loves oneself. You shall find none. Since all sentient beings love their own selves, one should be wary of doing harm to others."

This incident shows that clinging created by craving grows in magnitude when one's self is involved. I am citing this example just to refute the claims of those who maintained that as they had realized the knowledge the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta, they had cut off all clinging to the aggregates of the khandhas. My point is that they still love themselves the best.

The five khandhas are also called the five upādānakkhandhās because when rūpakkhandhā is involved, all other khandhas get involved. The eye is a sense-organ belonging to rūpakkhandhā. When it sees, vedanā, sensation, saññā, perception, saṅkhāra, mental formation and viññāṇa, consciousness are involved. When upādānakkhandhās arise one is led to think that what one sees belongs to one who sees and says: Etam mama (This is mine). Then one becomes grasping. And this is taṇhā. When one asserts that his ego, I, exists, this assertion arises out of the concept of atta or self. This amounts to clinging to the wrong views or diṭṭhi.


There are five aggregates of clinging, namely, (1) rūpupādanakkhandhā the aggregate of clinging to material body, (2) vedanupādānakkhandhā, the aggregate of clinging to feeling, (3) saññupādānakkhandhā, the aggregate of clinging to perception, (4) saṅkhārūpadānakkhandhā, the aggregate of clinging to mental formations and (6) viññāṇupādānakkhandhā, the aggregate of clinging to consciousness.

You need not go anywhere in search of these aggregates. They are within you!


Rūpupādānakkhandhā arises at the time of seeing when the eye-basis and the eye-object meet. Rūpa or form produced as a result of that contact may appear to be agreeable or disagreeable, producing pleasure or displeasure. Such feelings that arise constitute vedanupādānakkhandhā. The rūpa that has been seen is immediately recollected, when perception occurs. It constitutes saññupādānakkhandhā. It is followed in its wake by mental formations which exert to form or create the phenomenon of seeing. They are collectively known as saṅkhārūpadānakkhandhā. In the end eye-consciousness arises and it is called viññānupādānakkhandhā.

As you fail to note seeing the object with reference to the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta, you might miss reality and think that matter, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness are yourself or yours. Highly pleased with this idea of self, you cling to it. This view of self brings about the rise of taṇhā. As clinging is thus worked up, the individual tries to do things for the satisfactions of desires that arise in him. While bowing to these desires he happens to resort to actions which may be wholesome or unwholesome. When these actions are good, he may be transported to superior abodes in the planes of existence; but if they are bad, he may go down to the nether worlds. Whatever be the case, he will be oppressed with suffering throughout the rounds of existence.

Clinging will subside each time seeing is recollected with mindfulness. In Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta this method of establishing mindfulness is mentioned. It says: Gacchanto-vā gacchāmīti (know that you go when you go). Note the four postures of walking, sitting, standing and lying down just as they take place. Know that you are bending yourself as you bend and stretching yourself as you stretch. Note every physical behaviour which occurs. When your power of concentration gets developed, you will come to realize that in the act of seeing the eye and the object are quite distinct, and so are the eye-consciousness and the mind-consciousness. These phenomena arise together in Pairs and get dissolved together. Whatever comes up anew passes into dissolution. This transience spells dukkha. What one actually sees is not atta or self. It is only the manifestation of a phenomenon. This way of thinking dispels the sense of clinging or attachment; and once this attachment is severed, no new becoming or rebirth can arise. For that particular instant when one is meditating in this manner suffering ceases. This means that Nibbāna has been achieved albeit for a brief moment. When insight-knowledge becomes strengthened by constant practice of meditation, the round of suffering will be brought to a standstill by dint of the application of the principles of the Noble Path to Vipassanā clinging to sound objects.

The same remarks apply to clinging to objects that can be heard.

The ear-basis and the sound conspire together to create a sound object which falls under rūpupādānakkhandhā.

Then clinging arises; and on account of this clinging to the material object, pleasurable or unpleasurable feelings arise. They constitute vedanupādānakkhandhā.

Then perception of the sound occurs and remembrance or recollection takes place. It is grouped under saññupādānakkhandhā.

After this stage saṅkhārūpadānakkhandhā, clinging to mental formations arise.

As consciousness is finally established, it is grouped under viññānupādānakkhandhā.

Every time you hear a thing, note these aggregates of clinging with mindfulness and as you note them constantly, attachment will become severed.


Every time you smell, meditate on the nose-basis and the smell-object as rūpupādana-kkhandhā.

When you get the smell and feel pleasant or unpleasant because of it, note that vedanupādā-nakkhandhā has arisen.

When you get the smell and recollect it, note that saññupādānakkhandhā is being brought into play.

Note that mental formations or volitional activities excite clinging. Note them also as saṅkhā-rūpadānakkhandhā.

Note the arising of consciousness of the smell that you get; it constitutes viññupādāna-kkhandhā.


Here too, meditate on the tongue-basis and the taste-object which give rise to rūpudānakkhandhā.

As you note the taste as pleasant or unpleasant, you are meditating on feeling which constitutes vedanupādānakkhandhā.

As you remember the taste, note that as saññupādānakkhandhā and meditate on it.

Clinging to volitional activities connected with the process of tasting constitutes saṅkhārūpadānakkhan-dhā.

Ultimately consciousness of the taste is established. Clinging to that consciousness constitutes viññānupā-dānakkhandhā.


Sense of touch is present everywhere in the body. You touch and know and there the body-basis lies; and there is not one tiny space in the body where touch-consciousness is absent. Sensitivity relates to things both inside and outside the body, which is conscious of the presence of the four primary Dhātus or elements. It knows hardness or softness, the characteristics of pathavī, earth element; heat or cold, the characteristic of tejo. fire element or temperature; motion or resistance to motion, the characteristic of vāyo, air element or force. Touch-consciousness is therefore the most ubiquitous of all forms of consciousness. When it is not taken note of with due mindfulness, reality may not be known. When we see beauty, we recognize it as such and feel glad. When we see ugliness, we feel repugnant to it. When we hear pleasant sounds, we say that they are sweet. But jarring sounds, are considered unpleasant. In this manner we make distinction between pleasure and pain. As we see, or hear, or smell, or touch an object, we recognize it as sukha or dukkha, as the case may be. But such pleasure or pain are not real in the paramaṭṭha or abstract sense of the Abhidhammā. They are merely the results of actions, wholesome or unwholesome. So they may be viewed with equanimity for they are merely concepts or paññatti. It is only when a meditating yogī notes the phenomenal world with mindfulness that he can discover reality. Then he will get the true knowledge of sukha and dukkha. As he is noting vedanā, sensation, he becomes aware of the consciousness of the touch and the mind that is conscious of it as well as saṅkhārūpadānakkhandhā which bends the mind to that consciousness.

We must be able to note upādānakkhandhā the moment they arise. If we fail to observe, remember, recollect and note the aggregates of clinging, the idea of atta will get the better of us.

So meditate on the body-basis and the tangible object which go to make rūpupādā-nakkhandhā.

Note the tendencies to cling to pleasant or unpleasant feelings as vedanupādānakkhandhā.

Perceptions of those feelings gives rise to the emergence of saññupādānakkhandhā, which is also to be noted.

Clinging to volitional activities that produce contact and its consequences must also be noted as saṅkhārūpadānakkhandh.

Clinging to consciousness is viññanupādānakkhandhā which must also be noted likewise.

Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta instructs that one must note going as one goes, standing as one stands, sitting as one sits and lying down as one lies down. A meditating yogī who has developed the power of concentration by constant practice of this method of meditation will even be able to become conscious of the will which causes his movements as he tries to walk. When he walks, he is setting his nāmakhandhās (aggregates of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness) to work. Pleasure of sukkha vedanā arise when he feels delighted with walking. If he is recollects that he is walking, saññā arises. If he makes efforts to walk, saṅkhāra, volitional activities will take place. When greed and anger get involved in the process of walking -- for instance, when one gets frustrated for not being able to overtake others -- the volitional activities that we are now talking about are more apparent. If one is conscious that one is taking a walk, viññāna comes in. If one becomes tired and stiff or relaxed, one may be sure that vāyo, element of motion is playing its part. If one fails to take note of all these phenomena connected with the aggregates of clinging, one becomes obsessed with atta. "I am walking" one might say. "My body is walking", one might think. Now the idea of I and Mine has gained ground. But a mediator notes the act of walking while contemplating the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta which expel all atta.


Insight-knowledge can be gained through the practice of meditation on walking.

            As one goes on takes a walk, the intention "I want to go" arises. It prompts the element of motion, vāyo, which sends out an intimation to rūpa, matter, that the subject has willed to go. Then it gets possession of the entire body of the subject who is made to move according to instructions. And this phenomenon is called going.

What this exposition suggests is that there is no atta or self that goes. It is not I who go; it is citta, mind, served and supported by vāyo that causes going. Going is only the machination of the mind, in its various manifestations, that urges the element of motion to serve its will. So it is only a process of arising and dissolution of citta backed up by vāyo, It is, however, transient and therefore highly unsatisfactory. It is also unsubstantial.


Instructions to note the rise and fall of the belly are made with a view to let the yogī know the work of vāyo. When the chest or the belly is inflated with air or deflated, one clearly feels the rise or fall. In other words, one feels the body being contacted by vāyo and the vāyo itself that makes the contact. It is felt so clearly and definitely that a non-meditating yogī could have been led to think that the body that receives the contact belongs to him. Particularly the rising and falling belly is his, so he thinks. In fact the aggregates of clinging are persuading him to think so. But with a meditating yogī, whose power of concentration has developed through the continual practice of Vipassanā, all these phenomena of rising and falling of the belly denote the actions of the aggregates of mind and matter. Once this idea is realized, clinging ceases. It is therefore for this purpose of enlightening on the idea of non-ego that you are being told to note the rising and falling your belly or abdomen with the application of insight-knowledge.

This meditation exercise is simple and easy. You need not go at length in search of a mind-object to dwell your mind on. It is conducive to the easy attainment of the powers of concentration. In this method of meditation you first concentrate your mind on the rising belly. Meanwhile the belly sags and falls. Then you shift your attention from the rising to the falling phenomenon. As you have to exert only the two phenomena taking place in succession, there will be no occasion for you to overdo concentration. Your effort to concentrate and the act of concentration will ream in perfectly balanced, enabling you to gain the power of concentration quickly. With its development you will eventually be able to dissect Nāmarūpa, the aggregates, into Nāma, mind and Rūpa, matter. This analytical knowledge is called Nāmarūpapariccheda-ñāṇa.

When you arrive at this stage you may be aware that, as you are meditating on standing, the act of standing is quite separate from the act of noting it. When you meditate on walking, the phenomenon of walking is one and that of noting is another. When you stretch or bend your body, you may be conscious that the noting mind and the noted object are not one and the same, but that they are two distinct things. So what is there in this body of mine? Nothing except Nāma and Rūpu. There is no living substance in it. If you continue practicing insight-meditation in this manner, you will come to the realities of the three marks of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta.


The process of thinking-knowing, as we say in Myanmar relating to mental activity, is the most extensive. When one is awake one begins to think or ideate. The seat of consciousness is in the physical body. Mind-basis exists within this corporeal frame. When one thinks of pleasant things, one feels happy. This happiness is sukha vedanā. When one thinks of unpleasant things, one feels dukkha vedanā which means sadness. At times one may feel indifferent to all what one is thinking about. Then upekkhā vedanā arises. But it is not so conspicuous as Vitakka, Vicāra, Lobha, Māna, Saddha and Sati. Vitakka is the initial application of the mind and its function is to direct the mind to its object. Vicāra is sustained application whose function is to enable the mind to concentrate on the object. Lobha and other qualities of the mind need no explanation as they are fairly commonly met with when we talk about the dhamma. They all belong the category of 52 cetasikas, mental properties, under which comes the least noticeable upekkhā. But if you are mindful you can notice it. When one's attention is directed to an object, one may perceive it and that perception, saññā, is also very conspicuous. Then one may make efforts to bring the process of mind-consciousness to completion through the exercise of mental formations or volitional activities. We now have Saṅkhāra which also is quite conspicuous. It prompts the subject to do things. Because of it things come into being. We speak, we work, we sit, we stand, we bend or stretch our bodies as dictated by Saṅkhāra. Barring Vedanā and Saññā, the rest of cetasikas, 50 in number, are easily noticeable. All behaviours of the mind, speech and action are saṅkhāra and so are all sense-objects and mind-consciousness. They can be observed and known.

If one fails to note that object at the instant ideation accurse, the reality of the law of impermanence of conditioned things can be missed and one will be led to think that aggregates of clinging to sensations denote self or ego and that all mental formations and their attributes belong to that self or ego.

Clinging to material quality, wherein lies mind-consciousness when ideation takes place, is Rūpupādānakkhandhā.

When ideation causes pain or pleasure, Vedānupādānakkhandhā arises. When perception takes place in the process of ideation, Saññupādānakkhandhā arises.

Volitional activities that exert in the process of ideation constitute Saṅkhārūpadānakkhan-dhā.

Mind-consciousness gives rise to Viññānupādānakkhandhā.

Summarizing all that has been said, the following points are worthy of note.

            A bhikkhu accomplished in morality and knowledge must practice mindfulness with regard to the five Upādānakkhandhās, aggregates of clinging to matter, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.

            Clinging gives impetus to the idea of self that suggests the existence of I or Mine.

            All manner of clinging may be classified into two main classes of Diṭṭhi, wrong views, and Taṇhā, craving.

            The five aggregates of mind and matter, Khandhas, are to be noted with mindfulness with a view to enjoy the benefits of the realization of a state where there is no clinging.

Now before concluding this part of the discourse, a word about the method of noting or meditating with reference to mind-objects. As you contemplate the rise and fall of your belly your mind may stray into objects extraneous to the subjects of meditation. Note them every time your mind strays into them. You will have the experience of encountering such mental behaviours or activities as desire, satisfaction, delight, anger dejection, hatred, repugnance, fear, shame, pity, faith, sorrow and so forth, as you mentally watch the movements of your belly. When udayabbaya-ñāṇa, knowledge of the rise and fall or aggregates, and bhaṅga-ñāṇa, knowledge of dissolution, get developed in the course of meditation, you will come to understand the nature of the aggregates of mind, and your meditation will become facile.

Remember that all upādānakkhandhās are within you and that you need not look for them else-where.

When you note the phenomenal world, you are to note it correctly; that is, you must apply right mindfulness to the practice of meditation. It means that you must contemplate the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta.


As a yogī's power of concentration gets developed with constant practice of Vipassanā, he will gain a personal knowledge about the rising and passing away of the mind-consciousness and the mind-object. He will be able to recognize the noting mind and the noted object. This will make him convinced of the reality of anicca; and when anicca is known, dukkha and anatta will also be known.

The commentaries say that there are three stages in the realization of the knowledge of anicca.

1. First one understands what anicca is.

2. Then one gets familiar with the characteristics of anicca.

3. Finally one gets possession of insight-knowledge about anicca.


            Anicca, impermanence, embraces all the five aggregates of clinging. Your belly or abdomen becomes inflated as you breathe in and deflated as you breathe out. You note them. You sit, you touch, you see, you hear and you think. Note them also. You feel hot or painful. You must not relax noting that feeling. As your power of concentration gains strength, you will personally come to understand that all khandhas, aggregates, are in a state of flux, now arising, now dissolving. Now you see anicca in action.


Commentaries say that the arising and passing away of the noting mind and its object are the characteristics of anicca. Things which were neither here nor there before come into being and at the next moment they cease to be. Whatever arises anew gets dissolved into the past. A meditating yogī gains personal knowledge about the origination and dissolution of the phenomenal world. Unmindful persons are not aware of them. They think that the "I" who has been in existence long before, has been seeing or hearing things that have also been existing long before. They fail to recognize the dissolution.

When a yogī reaches the stage of the knowledge of dissolution, udayabbaya-ñāṇa, he becomes fully aware of the state of flux which is so sharply focussed in his mind that he senses that "becoming" has poked its head through the mind-door to be snuffed out like a flame instantly so soon as it appears. When lightning flashes, the flash disappears as soon as it has appeared. Such transience is the characteristic of anicca.


When characteristics of anicca are understood, a yogī may be said to have attained aniccā-nupassanā-ñāṇa, insight into the character of impermanence. When you come to understand the state of flux mentioned earlier, you may be sure that you have reached the stage of wisdom.

This realization is attained not through learning the texts, but through practical experience gained at the moment of noting things with mindfulness.

One should, in obedience to Sāriputtarā's instruction, devote one's attention with right mindfulness to the impermanent nature of the five aggregates of clinging.

May the audience who have listened to this discourse with respectful attention know correctly the state of anicca, so that the five aggregates of clinging can be discarded, enabling them to gain enlightenment in insight-knowledge and knowledge of the Path which pave the way to Nibbāna where all sufferings cease.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 2


(Delivered on the Full Moon day of Tabound, 1328 M.E.)

In my last lecture I mentioned Sāriputtarā's admonition that a Bhikkhu, accomplished in knowledge or wisdom, should also devote his attention to meditation on the five aggregates of clinging. It is but meet that morality be strengthened by knowledge, for, at times, a yogī might have the occasion to meditate without the benefit of a teacher.


Visuddhi Magga says that a yogī in search of insight-knowledge would do well if he is well versed in the knowledge about khandhas, aggregates of mind and matter, āyātanas, sense-bases, dhātus, elements, indriyas, organs of the senses, saccā, Truth and Paticcasamuppāda, Law of Dependent Origination, for, this knowledge will stand him in good stead in the determination of what is right or what is wrong in case confusion arises regarding the practical application of the Dhamma to his exercises in mind-culture.

Those who practice meditation under the proper supervision of instructors acting as "guide, philosopher and friend", will undoubtedly gain a fundamental knowledge about the fact that all compound things are made up of mind and matter, that all Dhammas relate to cause and effect, that the phenomenal world is subject to the law of Anicca, that the truth of suffering Dukkha saccā, and of the cause of suffering, Samudaya saccā, can be discovered within our physical bodies and that the realization of the truth about liberation, Nirodha saccā and the truth about the Path. Magga saccā, can be achieved on contemplation of the nature Dukkha and Sammudaya. One who possesses elementary knowledge may be regarded as well-equipped for the attainment of insight.

Once the king of Devas requested Buddha to expound the dhamma in the most concise manner so that he can readily understand it and reach Nibbāna where all sufferings cease. Buddha gave him the following piece of advice.

            O King of devas! If in my sāsanā, a bhikkhu realizes that it is wrong to adhere to the idea that this world of conditioned things is permanent, satisfactory and substantial, he is deemed to have gained the higher knowledge of the dhamma.

This, briefly, is what knowledge means in the present context. If the meditating yogī knows the three marks of Anicca, etc., our purpose is served. To try to know them, is in essence, the task of the practice of mindfulness-towards all phenomenal world. This is in agreement with what has been laid down in Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta. There Abhiññā pañña is defined as follows:

            Abhiññā pañña meass higher knowledge that directs one to understanding all that there is to understand relating to the nature and characteristics of the aggregates of mind and matter.

It means knowledge directed to Upādānakkhandhās which are to be noted with mindfulness. Putting it simply, one must note seeing as one sees and hearing as one hears. Eventually one's power of concentration will get strengthened with the result that one will come to know the characteristics of Nāmarūpa. When you concentrate on hotness, you will know the characteristics of hotness. But here you must remember that hotness is one thing and the mind that notes it is another. If you can distinguish the matter denoted by its hotness from the mind that takes note of it, you should have gained Nāmarūpapariccheda ñāṇa.

As your power of concentration gets strengthened furthermore, you will come to realize that you see because you have eyes to see, and that your body bends because there is the will that dictates it to bend. Now you have come to know the cause and the effect. This knowledge about cause and effect is Paccayapariggaha ñāṇa. When these two ñāṇas of Nāmarūpapariccheda and Paccayapari-ggaha arise in unison we say that Abhiññā pañña is revealed.


It has been shown that Abhiññā is higher or supreme knowledge. According to the commentaries on Visuddhi Magga, there are other kinds of knowledge called Sutamaya, knowledge gained through learning from information supplied by others, Cintāmaya, knowledge gained through the process of thinking or reasoning, Bhāvanāmaya, the knowledge gained through the exercise of mind-development, and abhiññā pañña, knowledge gained through the acquisition of supreme wisdom. The nature of Nāmarūpa is known by learning what others teach us. This is Sutamaya. Then we think deeper into it Bhāvanāmaya going through mental exercises. But Abhiññā pañña far transcends knowledge obtained by such means. A meditating yogī, however, must begin with Sutamaya knowledge so that he can arrive at Udayabbayañāṇa, knowledge of the rise and fall of the Khandhas, and Bhaṅga ñāṇa, knowledge of dissolution. Of this Buddha has this to say.

            The bhikkhu who has gained wisdom relating to the nature of conditioned things will eventually come to realize that all dhammas are subject to the law of Anicca.

To summarize, I give below the salient points relating to the acquisition of Sutamaya ñāṇa in preparation for the attainment of insight-knowledge.

1. All aggregates of mind and matter are impermanent, unsatisfactory and unsubstantial.

2. Possession of that knowledge just suffices for a yogī practicing insight-meditation.

3. A meditator should direct his intellectual attention to Nāma and Rūpa which are to be noted with mindfulness.

4. A meditator should realize that all dhammas are but manifestations of the impermanent and unsatisfactory nature of things.


The basic knowledge for a meditating yogī relates to the recognition of the khandhas as Dukkha saccā, and of taṇhā, craving, as Samudaya saccā. Taṇhā is the cause and the khandhas are the effect. This knowledge is enough for a yogī practicing Vipassanā to realize the dhamma. If, having realized it, he knows the law of cause and effect, he may be regarded as accomplished is the knowledge of paticcasamuppāda, the Law of Dependent Origination, which, put briefly, run as follows.

Ye dhammā hetuppabhāvā,
tesam hetum tathāgato āha,
Tesañca yo nirodho,
evam vādi mahāsamaṇo.

            All dhammas proceed from a cause. The Tathāgata reveals the cause and the cessation of that cause. This is the Teaching of the Great Samaṇa.

This passage occurs in Sihanāda Sutta of Saṃyutta Nikāya in extensor. There it says:

            Through avijjā, delusion, are conditioned saṅkhā-ras, rebirth-producing volitions; through saṅkhāras is conditioned viññānṇ, rebirth-linking consciousness; through viññāṇa is conditioned nāmarūpa, mind-and-matter; through nāmarūpa are conditioned salāyatana, the six sense-bases; through saḷāyatana is conditioned phassa, contact or sense of touch; through phassa is conditioned vedanā, feeling; through vedanā is conditioned bhava, the process of becoming; through bhava is conditioned jāti, the process of rebirth; and through jāti are conditioned old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair.

All these causes and effects are shown succinctly in a few words beginning with "Ye dhammā."

In the commentaries it has been shown that this gāthā (stanza) reveals firstly, dukkha saccā; secondly, samudaya saccā; and lastly nirodha and magga saccās. Dukkha reveals the cause and samudaya the effect. Magga saccā lays down the Path, and nirodha saccā is the result of treading the Path. So when we speak of the Four Noble Truths, they embrace the Law of Dependent Origination and vice versa.

My purpose of going at some length on this subject is to counter the efforts of detractors in their attempts at demoralizing meditators with their asseveration that one should not practice insight-meditation without the understanding of their version of the Law of Dependent Origination. They base their teaching on Channa Sutta.

It may be recalled that after Buddha's Parinibbāna, some monks inflicted Brahma-punishment on Channa Thera who, becoming very much agitated, went into meditation under the supervision of senior monks. They taught him to note with mindfulness the true nature of the khandhas. "Matter", they taught him, "is impermanent." So are feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. Matter is not "self" and not substantial. So are feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. But Channa had previously been so rooted in the concept of "self" that he started reasoning in his own mind that it would not be possible for accumulations of actions to produce the results of actions if nothing is substantial. This is how clinging to diṭṭhupādāna, wrong view of self, arises in ordinary individuals. The Commentaries say:

            Not accepting the law of causality, Channa Thera practiced meditation: but his weak insight failed to shake off the idea of self giving him the impression that if all volitional activities are extirpated, they would be rendered void. Thus he became obsessed with fear that existence would end with death. Here as this type of weak and ineffectual insight fails to overcome craving for self, an ignorant wordling would be highly apprehensive of his self vanishing away. He would therefore reason within himself: "I shall be cut off from existence! I shall not come into being again! He thought he was about to fall into an abyss. He was very much like a certain Brahmaṇa overhearing a thera reciting the Dhamma. Once Cūḷanaga Thera, learned in the Three Baskets of the Law, was reciting the three marks of anicca, etc., in the ground floor hall of a tower-like monastery built in bronze. An unknown Brahmaṇa who happened to be listening to the Dhamma at that time came to the knowledge that all saṅkhāras are empty and void. Comprehending this, he felt like one thrown over an abyss. So he ran past the door of the monastery and got to his house where he took his son to his breast and said, "Son! Having reflected on the doctrine propounded by Sakyamuni, I felt like being lost and destroyed!"

Now a word about this comment. It is quite clear that Channa Thera failed to note nāmarūpa with mindfulness. Had he done so he would have concentration developed and been able to distinguish nāma from rūpa. Ultimately he would have discovered the truth about the origination and dissolution of conditioned things which are subject to the three marks of anicca, etc. But in his case, his thinking had been so superficial that he had not watched the flow of the khandhas with mindfulness. The kind of meditation that he practiced is called Dubbalavipassanā or Pseudo-vipassanā which the commentaries speak of in the story of the Brahmaṇa who fled from truth. Insight-meditation conducive to the development of nāmarūpapariccheda ñāṇa and paccayapa-riggaha ñāṇa is true vipassanā, which, in its initial stage is usually called Tarunavipassanā. So it is highly improper for detractors to cite the example of Channa Thera and mislead yogīs doing correct meditational exercises from their right path by suggesting that vipassanā is not to be practiced without a knowledge of Paticcasamuppāda.

A yogī in the habit of meditating on nāmarūpa acquires the power of concentration and becomes able to distinguish nāma from rūpa. He cognizes the sense-bases and the sense-objects. He comprehends volition that prompts actions. He realizes that failure to note the phenomena results in the upsurgence of craving rendering him unable to appreciate reality. It drives him to the fulfillment of his desires which subsequently produce actions. Wholesome actions give wholesome results and unwholesome actions unwholesome results. When all these causal relations are known, his conviction in the three marks of anicca, etc., becomes firmly established. It would be pre-sumptuous to say that conviction can be gained at one stride without going through all the stages of development of knowledge. If one starts with the basic knowledge and proceeds step by step to higher knowledge one may not get thrown into confusion as Channa Thera did, even though one may not be well-grounded in the compendium of Paticcasamuppāda philosophy.

It may be noted here that Channa Thera, with all his failings, attained at long last to the fruition of the Path the moment he heard Ānandā expound the Law of Dependent Origination. So even when a meditating yogī is ill-equipped in his knowledge of the dhamma, he will become proficient in it under the guidance of his teacher in kammaṭṭhāna.

So Sāriputtarā answered Koṭṭhika Thera's question in the following manner.

            "Friend Koṭṭhika! One who is accomplished in wisdom should bend his mind rightly and well to the five aggregates of clinging as Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta.

Sīlavanta sutta emphasizes morality while Sutavanta sutta wisdom or knowledge. Drawing an inference from these two suttas, it may be safely taken that a bhikkhu practising meditation would do better if he is accomplished both in morality and knowledge.


Aggregates of clinging comprise Nāma and Rūpa as components. When rūpa is presented as a sense-object, it is considered as form or colour and is translated as such. When its intrinsic qualities are to be shown it is generally translated to its nearest equivalent as matter. Visible objects, audible objects, smell objects, taste objects and tangible objects are all rūpa. In Khajjaniya sutta of Khandha-vagga it is defined as follows.

            Kinca bhikkhave rūpam vadetha, rūppatiti kho bhikkhave tasmā rūpanti vuccati. Kena ruppati. Sitena pi ruppati; unhenapi ruppati; jighacchayapiruppati; pipasayapi ruppati; damsa makasa vatātapasari-sapa sammassenapi ruppati. Ruppatiti kho bhikkhave tasmāruppanti vuccati.

            O bhikkhus! Why is Rūpa so called? It is so called because it is liable to change. Why does it change? It changes either because of cold or of heat or of hunger, or of thirst, or of flea-bite, or of mosquito bite, or of exposure to elements, or of solar radiation, or of snake-bite. As it is thus subject to change it is called Rūpa.

The root meaning of Rūpa is to change or to perish. It changes at the bhaṅga stage of the three phases of the thought-moment, namely, arising, development and dissolution. But it does not mean that every type of matter is perishable all the time. It changes its character only when it comes into contact with factors that run counter to its stability.


The scriptures cite the instances of changeability of rūpa coming into contact with extreme cold. One of the nether worlds is Lokantariya, so called because it occupies space just beyond this world. It is so intensely cold that anyone destined to fall headlong into it will at once get frozen. We know this not from practical experience but from what the texts say. However I shall try to give you some sordid examples from life. In Mahimsaka Province in Southwest India, men die because of falling snow. Mahimsaka is modern Poona, which, I am informed, is very cold due to snow, perhaps, during winter. It is about 6,000 feet above sea-level. In Burma, Taunggyi, Mogok and Kyatpyin, 4,000 feet above sea-level, are also intensely cold. People living there, if they are insufficiently clothed, die of cold. It has also come to my knowledge that old people in the Kayah State usually die of cold in winter. They are mostly Padaungs; and among us we used to say winter is the season of death for those indigenous people.

Water and coconut-oil freeze in cold climate, mostly in central Burma. This proves that matter changes with temperature. When it is subject to sudden changes in temperature, it becomes unstable.


The commentaries speak of destruction due to heat in Avici the lowest of the nether worlds. In summer we sweat copiously due to heat. Burns and electric shocks are examples of suffering due to heat. When you take broth piping hot, you experience what heat is. Sweating itself is the result of heat. So matter undergoes change when subjected to heat.


            This change due to hunger and starvation can be found in the world of petas, departed spirits unable to get released from a state of suffering. Hunger is most acutely felt in times of famine in this human world. It brings about change in the stamina of the physical body. In the world of Asurās, gloomy spirits, water is unknown. Kalakancika, an Asurā, went in search of water to slake his thirst. He found the waters of the Ganges flowing; but when he got to the river the entire expanse of water turned into a sheet of stone-slab. He ran about the place the whole night in the fond hope that he would at least get a drop of water to drink. When it dawned, a monk in his daily round for alms-food met him, and discovering that the poor spirit was unable to reach for the water he sought, he poured it into his mouth. When it was time for the monk to go he asked the thirsty being if he was satisfied. Rude as he was, the Asurā said, swearing, "Not one drop of water got into my mouth. That is the truth. If, what I said is untrue, may I continue to suffer in this Asurā-world." This is what the scriptures say. If you want to get a personal knowledge about thirsty conditions, go to villages where water is scarce. A little distance far off from my native place, Seikkhun village, there is a hamlet called Khunnakhaukkon where the story still runs current of a man who actually died of thirst.


Everyone, I think, is aware of the effects of insect-bites. The bitten will feel itchy. His wound will swell. This is because Rūpa has suffered a change. Regarding change brought about by disease, everyone has his own experience. Change brought about in the physical body by the work of the sun is quite familiar with desert-dwellers. There is the story of a woman travelling with her child in a desert. One day she got parted from her companions and she had to go alone. It was usual for travellers to travel during the night, resting during the day under the tents or shelters. As she was alone and having no shelters, she sat on her basket carried along with her child. When the sun was unbearably hot, she was constrained to sit on the back of her own child for relief. From this incident comes the Myanmar proverb: "When she cannot help it, a mother fails to regard her own child as her ownest own."


Some imaginative people would like to think that, as Rūpa means "change", what changes is rūpa, and that solidity or hardness, Pathavī, is not rūpa, heat, tejo, is not rūpa and that what one sees is not rūpa. They are but Paññattis or concepts and are not real. Such is their way of thinking, the result of their intellectual exercises. It has come to my knowledge that a layman teaching kammaṭṭhāna used so far as to assert that the material body, the subject of contemplation is in itself changeable or perishable, suggesting the futility of Satipaṭṭhāna exercises in mindfulness. This shallow interpretation stems from not understanding the commentaries properly. Rūpa changes; but it is not changing all the time. The change takes place only when there is a sufficient cause which disturbs its stability. When cold or heat destabilizes rūpa, it changes. Visuddhimagga Mahāṭīkā says;

            Rūpa has the characteristic of change. It signifies change. But change here means what takes place when opposing forces come into conflict revealing the fact that new Rūpas arise out of the old.

            Then how is it that Rūpa that changes is applied to the world of the Brahmas? There, too, rūpa is subject to change when two opposing factors confront each other. This nature cannot be dispensed with even in the world of the Brahmas.

But in the world of the Brahmas it is very rare to have two opposing forces, such as heat or cold, each working against the other. Hence, rūpas that go to make the Brahmas appear to remain unchanged from the moment of their rebirth-linking consciousness to that of their death-consciousness. However, the intrinsic quality of matter is there with them all the time. It may not be forever changing at every moment, but it changes when conditions set out above are present.


            The realities of the five aggregates of clinging can be seen when the six modes of consciousness relating to seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking arise. At a particular moment of arising, Nāma and Rūpa are to be noted with reference to the law of Anicca, etc. Failure to reflect on the three marks would result in the birth of the idea of I or mine when clinging or attachment will dominate. Noting this attachment with mindfulness will arrest the flow of Kamma, actions and Saṅkhara, mental formations, in the absence of which no new becoming can arise. When becoming ceases, ageing and disease cannot come up and all sufferings meet their end.


When his power of concentration gets developed a meditating yogī will come to understand the causes and effects relating to conditioned things, able to see inwardly for himself the rise and fall of Nāmarūpas. Things come into being and perish to become again and also perish, ad infinitum. If he thus sees inwardly this state of continual flux, he would have mastered Aniccanupassanā, insight into the nature of impermanence of the phenomenal world. But one's conviction in the reality of this nature must be deep-seated, for, only then will one truly realize that Dukkha is baneful and that all baneful things are fearful. This conviction will lead one to the development of Nibbidañāṇa; knowledge which reflects on the aggregates as disgustful. Finally wisdom relating to the Path and its Fruition will arise. This reflection on dukkha is Dukkhānupassanā.

All dhamma are impermanent. What is impermanent is unsatisfactory. But what exactly is Dukkha? Being oppressed again and again by the inevitableness of arising to perish the next moment is indeed dukkha. Oppression itself is the root of all ills. The characteristic of dukkha, therefore, is oppression. One practises Dukkhānupassanā when one is constantly mindful that all conditioned things are arising and passing away.

One may think that becoming is not to be considered as unsatisfactory. But perishing is certainly unsatisfactory, Things come into existence to perish. You might have noticed at the beaches small crabs digging holes in mud flats at low tide. At high tide these holes are washed away and destroyed. When the tide recedes the little creatures start digging them again, but they are washed away at high tide as before. Don't you think that it is dukkha for them? A woman wanted to have a baby but she was childless for some time. Eventually she gave birth to a child. She was highly pleased. But the child died afterwards. How sad! She beat her breast and cried, "Woe the day the child was born. It were better for me not to have conceived it!" Worse than her case would be mothers bearing children now and then and losing them every now and then.

The nature of origination and dissolution oppresses us constantly. A yogī notes this characteristic of dukkha with mindfulness every time it presents itself at the six sense-doors. Thereby he attains dukkhānupassanā ñāṇa.

It may not be possible for a yogī to know all the roots of suffering; but when he is noting conditioned things, he will have a personal experience of the appearance of suffering which stems from his material body and consciousness. A sense-object generating unwanted sense-impressions will certainly produce unpleasurable feelings that are disgusting. This is suffering.

That dukkha generates fear and anxiety needs no explanation. Depending on the material body for succour while that material body is subject to dissolution is like living in a dilapidated building which might come down at any moment to crush the resident to death.


Rūpa is like a disease or wound. A sick man loses appetite and sleep, unable to do what he like to do as a healthy individual. He is dependent on others who nurse him. If he is bedridden it will be all the worse for him. He will have to be helped to be bathed, clothed, fed and led to his toilet. He will be compelled to take physical exercises whether he likes them or not. When he wants to scratch himself, he will be obliged to let someone do it for him. Thus he is always dependent on others. Rūpa is likewise dependent.

Rūpa is also like a festering sore. Kilesās like greed, anger and delusion are verily pus flowing out from that sore of the six sense-organs. A meditating yogī should note this comparison while contemplating dukkha.

Rūpa is also like a thorn in the side. It pierces the flesh and remains tuck there. One cannot take it out all by oneself.

All evil actions produce unwholesome results. One pays for the crime one commits. When one's kamma, action, is bad, one lands in trouble. Adversity drives one almost mad in the struggle for the satisfaction of one's needs in respect of food, clothing and shelter. In that struggle for existence one may either be oppressed or victimized, competition being so keen in life. As you grow older you will realize how trouble-some it is to make out a living. If you have to do evil just for the sake of your material body and its mental formations, you shall be destined to the nether worlds.

Rūpa is also compared to fever. There may be many prescriptions for its cure. But there will hardly be any such for the cure of the fever of nāma and rūpa which is constantly attacking you. You cannot escape from the onslaught of these aggregates of mind and matter wherever you may be, whether in the nether worlds, or in the animal world, or in the world of men or of devas. They are all made up of suffering. and even when you happen to be reborn a man, you will be subject to old age, disease and death.


The round of sufferings is endless. But insight-meditation on the aggregates of clinging as subject to the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta can pave the way to the realization of the Path and its fruition as befitting a sotāpanna, stream-winner. Alluding to this Sāriputtarā said:

            Thanam khe panetam āvuso vijjati yam silava bhikkhu ime pañcapādānakkhandhe aniccato dukkhato .. anattato yaniso manasikā-ronto sotāpaṭṭiphalam sacchikareyya

            Friend Koṭṭhika! A bhikkhu, accomplished in morality, should meditate on the five aggregates of clinging as subject to the law of anicca, dukkha and anatta in order that he comes face to face with the Fruition of the Path of a Stream-winner. He then knows that he can realize that state.

Which, in short, means that he can aspire to the state of a stream-winner if he practises insight-meditation on the aggregates of clinging in the manner above prescribed.

I conclude this discourse with the usual prayer that this audience attain Nibbāna as quickly as possible by virtue of their wholesome action in listening to this lecture and meditation on the five aggregates of clinging.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 3


(Delivered on the 5th waxing of  Tagu, 1328 M.E. and on the 14th waning of Tagu, 1329 M.E.)

My last lecture deals with meditation on nāma, mind and on rūpa, matter, as subject to the law of anicca, impermanence, dukkha, suffering. I shall now speak about the same subject in relation to the law of anatta, insubstantiality. But before going into the matter, let me explain to you what atta, self or ego, is.


The doctrine of Atta, self or essential self, is widely accepted in India. It is mentioned in the Hindu scriptures that the living atta arises in the body of an individual by the time he or she is conceived in his or her mother's womb. Our own country-men are influenced by this idea of a kind of animus or living spirit residing in our bodies, acting as a moral governor of the world and a dispenser of the fruits of our actions. It is believed that it has the power to regulate our actions according to our wishes. This kind of atta is called Sāmi atta.

Sāmi means owner or overlord. The self, as an overlord, commands things to happen. When I, the self, will myself to go, I go. When I will myself to eat, I eat. When I will myself to sit, I sit, and so on. I am the SELF. The SELF belongs to me. This notion recognizes individuality which is termed Sakkāya from which is formed the compound word, Sakkāya diṭṭhi, the heretical view of individuality. It accepts the existence of ego; and so it is also known as Atta diṭṭhi. But Buddha taught us as follows in Anatta Lakkhaṇā Sutta.

            Rūpam bhikkhave anattā, Rūpañca hidam bhikkave attā abhavissa, nayidam rupam ābādhāya samvatteyya.

            Labbhetha ca rūpam evam me rūpam hotu, evam me rūpam mā ahositi.

            Yasmā ca kho bhikkhave rūpam anattā, tasmā rūpam ābādhāya samvattati.

            Na ca labbhati rūpe evam me rūpam hotu.

            Evam me rūpam mā ahositi.

- - - Sayā U Pe Maung Tin's

So matter, in reality, cannot satisfy our wishes and desires regarding what we want to be or what we do not want to be. Even so, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness are not the self to whom one can make the request: "Let matter behave thus for me; let matter not behave thus for me." They all tend to sickness or decay unable to give satisfaction to our wants and desires.

Anatta is a compound word consisting of Na and Atta, meaning not-self. But our learned teachers of old render it as "Incapable of governing," following the Myanmar usage. It has been rendered thus because they would like to stress the meaning conveyed by Sāmi atta the self that behaves like a lord who governs.

Earlier I told you that matter should be regarded as an utter stranger to you. This is in agreement with what Sīlavanta Sutta has to say. It emphasizes the fact that a devotee should understand the nature of Rūpa which cannot be overloaded because it is Anatta. If you have a friend, you may request him to do something for you; and he will certainly oblige. But you cannot do this to a perfect stranger.

Those believing in the doctrine of Self assume that a living substance takes up its perpetual abode inside their bodies till they die. When death takes place the spirit leaves the body of the deceased either through the nose or through the mouth. This view of self or Atta is termed Nivasī atta.

The egoists also believe that when the material body is destroyed, the resident self discards its old home to find a new one. It is so infinitesimal that it can pierce through thick walls, they say. Buddha enjoins us not to look for it in matter, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. Only when this notion of ego making matter or Rūpa its home is thrown overboard, can a devotee see reality.

That all mental, verbal and physical activities are caused by Atta is another form of egoism known as Karaka atta. An egoist of that category thinks: "I see, I hear, I go, I stand or I sit, because I am being all the time prompted by the self." But a meditating yogī who notes with mindfulness the phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc., as they arise understands that no self exists that prompts anybody. Actions just take place as matter and mind correlate each other, the one being the cause while the other the effect. It is with a view to let the yogī realize the true nature of the phenomena that he is encouraged to meditate on conditioned things. Remember the instruction: Note that you are going when you go and apply to all your physical actions like bending or stretching your body, etc.

When you are feeling miserable or happy, you might think that it is yourself that is feeling miserable or happy. This stems from a sense of clinging to the idea of self; and this kind of egoism is called Vedaka atta.

Buddha taught us meditation on the three Vedanās or feelings of pleasure, pain and indifference which are all subject to the law of Anicca, etc., because he wanted us as his devotees to break ourselves away from Vedaka atta. But deviationists, during their flights of imagination, propound that meditation must be directed only on indifference or equanimity of the mind and that the other two Vedanās should not be subjected to meditation. This teaching goes against the tenets of Buddhism. Those who accept this way of thinking will be deprived of the knowledge about the reality of pain and pleasure. Upekkhā, equanimity, is a state of mind which cannot be easily felt and understood. So the meditator may not be a able to contemplate it. The result will be that he will be at sea buffeted by Anusaya kilesā, predisposition for defilements. Under such circumstances he will unwittingly be depriving himself of the benefits bestowed by the Sāsanā.

A serious study of the above four categories of belief in Atta will reveal that only insight-meditation on conditioned things or Nāmarūpa with reference to the three marks of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta can bring about the eradication of wrong views of self. A casual analysis of this material body into its components is not enough. The discovery, while meditating, of the apparent disappearance of Rūpa, form, is also not enough; for although the concept of materiality seems to be abnegated, the mind still keeps a stronghold on its object. Atta still remains at the bottom. In such a case the meditator would like to think; "It is I who meditate. It is I who gain knowledge. I feel happy." This means that he is still clinging to feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness as his self.

To do away with the idea of self and gain proper knowledge of Anatta, meditation on the lines hitherto suggested is essential.

In contemplating the five aggregates of clinging, with an awareness of their being subject to the law of Anicca, etc., a yogī must view them as (1) impermanent and therefore (2) unsatisfactory. They must also be looked upon as (3) a disease or (4) a festering sore. He must know that they give pain (5) as a thorn in the side does, that they are (6) conductive to unwholesome actions which produce unwholesome results, that they behave (7) like utter strangers and that therefore, are ungovernable, and that they are (8) like an ague that oppresses the patient, and that they are (9) catastrophic in that they are subjected to perpetual decay and death. It must also be remembered also that they are (10) void and useless and (11) not self.

Every individual considers himself a living being possessing a physical body which is so tangible and real that no amount of self-analysis entailing dissection of its entity into tiny parts can dissuade him from the notion that Atta or self or living substance does not exist. I think, so I am, he maintains. But with a meditating yogī firmly convinced in the impermanent nature of all compound things, the idea of self subsides. Every time he notes the mind-object and the noting mind with due awareness, he discovers that both dissolve at the very moment of his noting them. He now sees Anatta.

This knowledge of anatta grows in three stages. Firstly, the recognition of the aggregates of clinging as non-ego constitutes the realization of the truth about unsubstantiality, anatta. Secondly, this will give rise to the knowledge that, in this phenomenal world, things happen of their own accord, without any agency that controls or governs them. This is called anatta-lakkhaṇā, characteristic of anatta. Having discovered this sign of unsubstantiality or impersonality a yogī continues meditating on the five aggregates of clinging, keeping an eye on the eleven ways by which anatta is to be contemplated, and acquires, finally, anattānupassanā ñāṇa, insight into the nature of non-ego.


All things considered, the eleven view-points in connection with meditation enumerated in the foregoing will convey to the meditator the meaning of the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta. But the idea of anicca, impermanence, is hard to be assimilated for the following reasons. Firstly, it is very seldom that one becomes mindful of the rise and fall of nāmarūpa. Everything in the phenomenal world appears to be continually happening. In other words, all becomings are continuous. That continuity conceals the true fact that all conditioned things are in a state of flux. Under such circumstances the characteristic of Anicca remains submerged under the false view of eternity. It is only with the right understanding that the idea of a continuum of all phenomena that can be found in nature can be destroyed. When a yogī meditates on the characteristic of anicca, the true nature of impermanence reveals itself. This is in a accordance with the saying of Visuddhi Magga to the effect that what has not arisen before arises now and disappears the next instant. This phenomenon is like a flash of lightning. The flash as one sees it was not there before. But it has now appeared. At the next moment it is gone! It is indeed anicca; but it is hard to be visualized because the law of continuity covers up the truth about the transient nature of the flash. This cover-up is made possible by the fact that we are unable to note properly the arising and dissolution of nāmarūpa as they occur.

The truth about the impermanent nature of conditioned things cannot be realized by mere process of thinking about the khandhas, aggregates of mind and matter, and of reciting that they arise and pass away. One must contemplate what one sees, or hears, or smells, or tastes or touches every time contact is established between the sense-bases and the sense-objects. This is in accordance with the injunction: Note that you go when you go. All physical behaviour that one exerts must be made known to consciousness. Pain, pleasure and indifference must be recognized at every moment they arise. When consciousness arises along with craving, it must also be noted with mindfulness. One must try to be aware of the upsurgence of desire and lust the instant they rear their heads. Consciousness must be able to grasp its object the moment it appear.


The true nature of nāma and rūpa can be known only when one can seize the moment of occurrence of the phenomenon and meditate on it. In the analogy of the flash of lightning, it is only when one looks at it the moment of its occurrence that one knows its origination and dissolution and understands its true nature. The following three points may, therefore, be noted.

1. Note the phenomenon as it arises to know its true nature.

2. When its true nature is known, origination and dissolution will become apparent.

3. Only when one can appreciate the rise and fall of the khandhas can one gain knowledge about anicca.

When one fails to observe the phenomenon at the time of its occurrence, one is inclined to think that it is continuous. There appears to be no hiatus in the chain of events. This is santati paññatti, law of continuity. Influenced by this law one belabours under the notion of I and thinks that one's ego is a permanent entity that enables one to say," I hear. I see. It is I who think and know."

A swarm of white ants moving in a file presents to the eye as a long and unbroken line; but a close look into it would reveal that each individual insect is unrelated to the other. A meditating yogī does not see any phenomenon as a continuous chain of events. He sees that it has its precedence and subsequence which are separate and distinct. What one saw in the past is not what one sees now. The sense-impression gained a moment ago is not the same as that being received now. One is entirely distinct and separate from the other. These remarks apply to all other phenomena connected with the sense of hearing, touching, thinking and the like. For, as each phenomenon arises, dissolution follows. When this characteristic is known, aniccānupassanā ñāṇa is developed.


The four postures or iriyapathas are walking, sitting, standing and lying down. They help to make the body comfortable. When thus comforted, the body fails to recognize pain and suffering. The characteristic of dukkha, says Visuddhi Magga, is covered up by the lack of mindfulness of the nature of its oppressive tendencies and also by the four postures contributing to that negligence. If one bends his mind on the oppressive nature of dukkha to the exclusion of comfort created by the four postures, pain and suffering will be revealed in all its ignominy.

We rarely regard ordinary physical discomforts as pain and suffering because we can correct them by changing our postures, that is, by taking exercises. So we fail to realize the oppressive nature or dukkha which, however, is always there, lurking.

A meditator is constantly aware of his physical behaviour. His mind is always alert. So he can take note of the fact that he is seeing, hearing or touching. As he is occupied with meditating on the rise and fall of his belly, he may feel tired, or hot or painful. He notes all these sensations. Then he may want to correct his posture to relieve discomfort. He notes the desire that grows in him. Then he may make efforts to correct his posture. He notes his efforts. Or he may endure all discomforts, concentrating his mind on the feeling of tiredness. He notes his endurance. Ultimately tiredness disappears. He then gains the knowledge that his physical body is after all a mass of suffering; and this knowledge is called dukkhānupassanā ñāṇa.


Dhātus, elements, that go to make nāma, mind, and rūpa, matter are divisible and analyzable. But an ordinary individual, being unmindful of this nature, belabours under the notion called ghaṇapaññatti which takes conditioned things are one indivisible whole, solid and substantial; and this concept of solidity covers up the true nature of anatta, unsubstantiality. A meditating yogī, being able to analyse the composition of nāma-rūpa comes to the understanding that it has no substance whatsoever.

One of the characteristics of anatta is ungovernability. The self cannot be made to bend to our will. We cannot dictate it to be thus or not to be thus. All are rendered impotent under its tutelage. Those who are not used to meditation cherish the impression that they see things because they possess the will to see them. For example, when they exercise their will to hear, they can hear; when they exercise their will to bend or stretch their bodies, they can bend or stretch their bodies; or when they exercise their will to think, they can think. The self, they presume, is the governor of all their actions and arbiter of their destiny. To a meditating yogī, however, all things appear to him as mere nāmarūpa which just arises and passes away because it is its nature to arise and pass away. Actions follow their own natural course and no self can manipulate them. The eye contacts the eye-object, and seeing takes place. You may not have the desire to see. You may not make any attempt at seeing. But you cannot help seeing the object when it comes into contact with the eye. The same may be said with reference to the phenomena of hearing, touching and thinking. You may wish that only pleasant things happen, and that all such pleasant things abide by you forever. But since you do not have the power to control or govern what you consider your self, nothing goes according to your wish. For those who fail to meditate in the way that has been suggested, the notion a solidity of the aggregates of mind and matter dominates the nature of unsubstantiality of all conditioned things.

Ghaṇapaññatti, concept of solidity, manifests itself in four ways, namely, (1) Santati ghāna, (2) Samūha ghāna, (3) Kicca ghāna and (4) Ārammaṇa ghāna.


I have dealt with the concept of continuity called Santati paññatti which is related to santati ghāna. When one looks at an object, one sees its image for the space of one thought-moment after which it disappears and recedes into the past. Then the next image immediately fills the vacuum thus caused giving one the impression that the past is linked with the present to form a chain of continuity, thus giving rise to the appearance of the sameness of the object under study. This leads to the belief that the phenomenal world is unchanging and stable. This is santati ghāna,

When we see a thing, hear the sound it makes and think about it, the acts of seeing, hearing and thinking are separate and distinct. What we have just seen or heard or thought about is quite different from what we are seeing or hearing or thinking about now. But to an ordinary individual the entire process of seeing, etc., is continuous and the object appears to exist as one entity throughout the time. From this nature of the process the assumption of the existence of self or ego that sees, hears or thinks arises. Hence we say, "I see; I hear; I think," as if this I remains stable and permanent throughout. Such an assumption stands in the way of a non-meditating individual in the realization of the truth about anatta. But a yogī noting the arising and passing away of nāmarūpa gains a clear knowledge of impermanence and unsubstantiality. The exercise of the knowledge about this anicca and anatta dispels all concepts of continuity and solidity.


All factors of consciousness combine together to give us an impression of wholeness or entirety. Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness and touch-consciousness conspire together to give us the notion that they collectively together to give us the notion that they collectively go into the making of an individual who stands whole and solid. That is to say that all nāmas and rūpas in the domain of saṅkhāra, volitional activities, constitute individuality or personality. An ordinary man without insight-knowledge thinks, "I see; I hear; I think," however much he has learned from books that matter is divisible into its components. When a mindful observer looks at himself he comes to the understanding that the eye-basis, the eye-object, the eye-consciousness and the feeling of pleasure derived from seeing are all separate and distinct from one another functionally. One who fails to note seeing as its occurs would rather prefer to formulating the idea in his mind that all these functions combine to produce the solid state of atta; and he would say to himself, "This physical body which possesses the eye constitutes I; the hands and feet that I now see are mine; the subject who experiences pleasure of the sight is also myself." Matter coalesced into a mass gives us the impression of wholeness or entirety which then is mistaken for solidity that is identified as an individual. This is called samūha ghāna.

A meditating yogī who has acquired the knowledge of udayabbaya and bhaṅga can understand correctly that the eye-basis, the eye-object and the eye-consciousness are separate and distinct and that they are subject to change or decay. When the concept of entity or individuality is destroyed, the truth about anatta is revealed; and the enlightenment is called anattānupassanā ñāṇa.


Eye-consciousness does the function of visual cognition and ear-consciousness of aural cognition. But non-meditating individuals take it that it is their own self that does these functions as a consequence of which they see things. The all pervading idea of I works them up to the rise of ego, which they regard as the prime mover. In the phenomenon of seeing, the eye-basis does the function of receiving the image that the eye-object supplies. Then the eye-consciousness takes over to do the job of discernment. When these different functions are viewed together as a whole, the concept of ego-entity that enjoys the sights and sounds during the phenomena arises; and this concept is called kicca ghāna, concept of solidity created by functions that merge together.

A Vipassanā yogī can differentiate these functions performed by the sense-basis, the sense-object and the mine-consciousness in all what takes place. As concentration develops, he is able to distinguish nāma from rūpa by such differentiation of functions and eventually he arrives at the understanding that after all they dissolve together. This shows the futility of atta. All conditioned things are immaterial or unsubstantial. In this way anattānupassana ñāṇa, analytical knowledge about not-self, is developed.


Seeing occurs when the mind dwells on the eye-object; hearing when it dwells on the ear-object; smelling when it dwells on the nose-object; tasting when it dwells on the tongue-object; touching when it dwells on the tangible-object; and thinking when it dwells on the mind-object. In all these phenomena the sense-objects are varied and many; but the subject appears to be one and the only individual for all the actions relating to seeing, etc., are created by him. This is the concept of solidity conjured up by a combined force of many different sense-objects. It is called Ārammaṇa ghāna.

A yogī who has developed insight knowledge is fully aware that seeing and hearing by one individual are two different phenomena although he sees the object simultaneously as he hears it making the sound. Confining himself to only one phenomenon - - seeing for instance - - he is able to appreciate the fact that what he saw a moment ago is not the same as that he is now seeing. What is more, he is able to understand that the eye-object that he is meditating upon dissolves at the very moment of his meditation. To him, therefore, the many processes of seeing, hearing etc., are not attributable to an individual. They are just the manifestations of various aspects of the phenomenon. This way of thinking virtually destroys the notion of solidity, and leads one to the knowledge of anatta.

Let me say it on the authority of Visuddhi Magga Mahāṭīkā that the characteristic of anatta becomes apparent when the concept of solidity created by elements that combine to make a compound is shattered. The dhammas of nāma-rūpa act or react on one another to combine themselves into a solid mass. One who has no background knowledge about saṅkhāra, volitional activities, takes this compound mass as one whole or entity. This kind of notion is called samūha ghāna. In this manner he considers dhammas that can be functionally differentiated as one whole or entity. The eye-basis, the eye-object and the eye-consciousness are separate and distinct. Ordinary individuals, however, take all these different dhammas as one complete whole. This concept is kicca ghāna. There are also other dhammas, such as sense-bases, which can be classified into basic qualities by dint of their different inclinations towards their sense-objects. But an ordinary individual takes them as one entity. This idea of solidity springing from such a notion is called Ārammaṇa ghāna. But when insight meditation is called into aid, the idea of entity or solidity breaks up, bursting like a foam touched by hand. Then realization arises that all dhammas take place in the course of nature without any agency prompting them and that they just take place to dissolve. These four ghānas as explained conspire together to create the view of self; and when their nature is duly noted with mindfulness, the characteristic of anatta becomes known.


When matter is analysed and broken down into its components, the idea of materiality usually disappears. Some would like to think that when this knowledge of disappearance arises anatta ñāṇa is established. But this casual knowledge cannot lead one to the conviction of the doctrine of unsubstantiality, for although materiality in its physical sense has been discarded it still clings to the individual in its spiritual sense. If the idea of materiality still remains in his consciousness, he will not be able to visualize anatta. In the formless realm Brahmas possess no physical body; but as they still retain consciousness, they regard it as their self. So they cannot conceive anatta. One may be able to do away with the idea of body but one still clings to the idea of mind. It must be remembered that even when one has attained paññatti or conceptual knowledge about anatta, one may not become firmly established in the paramattha or real knowledge about it. It is only when one meditates on the rise and fall of the khandhas, the aggregates of mind and matter, to gain a personal and practical experience of their nature of ungovernability that one can say with certainty that he knows what unsubstantiality is. Outside the Sāsanā, rishis like Sarabhaṅga, a Bodhisatta, could expound anicca and dukkha but not anatta, as it is very difficult to explain. Buddha himself had to explain anatta to the group of five monks by first introducing the subject of anicca and dukkha.

But the law of anicca that people outside this Sāsanā know is highly elementary. When a pot is broken one is reminded that it is subject to the law of impermanence. When one stumbles and gets hurt, one would exclaim to himself that life is all suffering. But such revelations are all paññatti knowledge which can hardly be improved upon unless the absolute truth about anicca and dukkha is visualized through insight-meditation.

But one should not lose heart. In the first Sutta of Nava Nipāta of Aṅguttara Nikāya it anatta can also be known. The commentaries also explain that once anicca is known, dukkha and anatta can be recognized.


What, it may be asked, are the advantages of meditation on the three marks? Regarding this, note what Sāriputtarā said:

            Friend Koṭṭhika! While a Bhikkhu, accomplished in morality, is noting the five aggregates of clinging with mindfulness with reference to their inherent nature of impermanence, suffering and unsubstantiality, he comes within sight of the Fruition of Sotāpatti magga. Meditation therefore offers him the opportunity to become a Sotāpanna.

In my next lecture I shall deal with this subject about stream-winners. Now I conclude with the usual prayer.

May you all, who have listened to this discourse on Sīlavanta Sutta attain Nibbāna having realized the nature of the five aggregates of clinging through the practice of insight-meditation!

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 4


(Delivered on the full moon day and 15th, waning of  Kason, 1329 M.E.)

My last lecture relates to the subject of meditation on the five aggregates of clinging with reference to the three marks of anicca, etc., to be applied to it in the eleven ways suggested by Buddha. In the present lecture I propose to say something about Jhāna Sutta of Nava Nipāta in Aṅguttara Nikāya wherein it has been shown that, when a Bhikkhu arises from his first jhānic trance, it is usual for him to look back in retrospect the five khandhas operating at the time of the trance from the point of view of impermanence in the eleven aspects that have just been mentioned.


An extract from Jhāna Sutta runs thus:

            A Bhikkhu who abides in the first jhāna dissociates himself from sensuality and immorality with due reflection and investigation (of the mind and matter) and establishes himself in joy or pīti. After rising from the trance, he contemplates also matter, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness which operated during his trance with the realization that they are impermanent and conducive to suffering, very much like a disease, a festering sore, or a thorn in the side, tending to produce unwholesome actions, as ungovernable as an utter stranger, as troublesome as ague, catastrophic, egoless and void. He therefore reviles from them and brings himself together to the element of Nibbāna where all mental formations cease to operate, where all substrata of existence come to an end, where all cravings are abandoned and where all sensual desires are exterminated. His mind now dwells upon the reality, peace and transcendentality of Nibbāna. As he thus meditates he reaches the final stage of Fruition (Arahatta-phala) where all āsavas, moral depravities are uprooted.

In substance this passage means that a Bhikkhu who has arisen from the jhānic trance reflects on the five aggregates of clinging that persisted even in his jhānic mood with an awareness of the eleven aspects of anicca. The Bhikkhu meditated with jhana citta or the mind bent on jhāna while he was in his jhānic state. When he rose from it to revert to the state of an ordinary individual, he meditated with mindfulness bent on vipassanā citta or insight which can be acquired through kāma kusala, wholesome actions appertaining to a man of the sensual world, It means that the jhānic Bhikkhu exercises jhāna citta and the ordinary Bhikkhu exercises kāma citta.

The Commentaries give an explanation to the passage, "to bring oneself to the element of Nibbāna," that occurs in Jhāna Sutta as follows:

            A yogī may get inclined to Nibbāna through hearsay, or through a proper study of the scriptures or through the acquisition of Paññatti or conventional knowledge without being able to appreciate the fact that Nibbāna is peace par excellence. But intuitively he may have come to know the characteristic of Nibbāna. A bhikkhu established in the knowledge of Nibbāna means that bhikkhu who has established himself in insight through insight-meditation keeping the Three Marks of Anicca, etc., as his mind-object. Arahatta Magga, the Noble Path fructifies when the four Ariya maggas are accomplished in their correct order.

Here the mind becomes bent on Nibbāna when the yogī gets truly convinced of the unwholesomeness of all Saṅkhāras or mental formations and when he tries to get away from them and embrace Nibbāna, encouraged by the knowledge of the Path. It must also be noted here that one cannot gain the knowledge of the Path without the practice of insight-meditation.


I shall now tell you what Anicca Sutta of Khandhavagga Saṃyutta has to say about meditation that leads to the enlightenment of Nibbāna ñāṇa, knowledge of the khandhas as being disgusting:

            O bhikkhus! Matter is impermanent; feeling is impermanent; perception is impermanent; mental formations are impermanent; and consciousness is impermanent. When one gains conviction in the impermanent nature of these aggregates of mind and matter, one develops revulsion in them, getting bored and disgusted with matter, feeling, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. Disgust generates desire to get liberated from human passions. In the absence of passions a yogī comes to the realization that he has become emancipated. So he now says: "There will be no new becoming for me; I have become accomplished in the noble con-duct of the Ariyas, Worthy Ones; all there is to be done has been done and nothing remains undone."

These are the words of Buddha when he was explaining the dhamma relating to Paccavekkhaṇā ñāṇa, knowledge of self-appreciation.

Disgust is developed when one meditates on the khandhas and gains intuition that they are all void and useless. Yet some would like to belittle insight-meditation by maintaining that since one has understood impermanency, it is all superfluity to meditate upon it. Such a way of thinking cannot lead one to Nibbāna ñāṇa which eradicates passions and paves the way to the Path.

In the Khandhavagga, Dukkha Sutta and Anatta Sutta follow Anicca Sutta, and the same observations apply.


            Disgust can be truly developed only when the faults and foibles of the khandhas are fully realized. Those living in the dry zone are oblivious to the unfavourable conditions under which they live. Only when thirst and hunger assault them as a result of drought, they realize their shortcomings and leave the place in disgust. All sentient beings are usually pleased with their bodies of the khandhas that they cling to them without giving any thought to the three marks of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. They lack conviction and faith in the teaching. For them the road to Nibbāna is closed.


Everyday we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or touching sense-objects. But we rarely meditate on them mindful of the law of Anicca, etc. We read in the scriptures about them, no doubt; but we hardly know that seeing, hearing, etc., make up Upādānakkhandhās.

So we take permanence for impermanence, pain for pleasure and substantiality for unsubtantiality. We think that this is a world of Nicca, sukha and Atta. Belabouring under such notions we fail to arrive at Nibbidā ñāṇa and Magga ñāṇa, knowledge of the Path.


When insight knowledge is gained, one becomes weary of the burden of the khandhas. When one's power of concentration gets stronger and stronger through the practice of insight meditation, one becomes fully aware of the fact that the Rūpa, the object, that is known arises and passes away along with Nāma, the subject, that knows, and that the former is the cause while the latter is the effect. This phenomenon of continual arising and passing away is transience and spells misery or ill. As no agency can control or govern it, what we consider as the self is after all unsubstantial and void. This knowledge indicates the dawn of reason or the birth of the investigative tendency called Sammāsana ñāṇa.

As the yogī continues to practice meditation, he will personally experience the reality of the existence of fleeting moments during which the rise and fall of the Khandhas take place with singular speed, revealed by lights and colours that thrill him with a sense of Pīti, joy. But both his body and mind are at peace while remaining alert all the time. Memories and perceptions arise in him at break-neck speed. This condition is apparent when he gets to the stage of Udayabbaya ñāṇa, knowledge of the rise and fall of the aggregates of mind and matter.

Having mastered this knowledge, the yogī leaves aside Pīti and goes on with his meditation till he clearly sees in his mind's eye the phenomenon of origination and dissolution of the aggregates, especially the speedy dissolution of the noting mind and the noted object together in pairs. At this stage he may be noting the rise and fall of his belly without being aware of the belly. In the same manner when he meditates upon the act of walking, extending or stretching his limbs, he is unaware of the shape of his limbs or the manner of his movements. Now he has gained Bhaṅga ñāṇa, knowledge of dissolution of the aggregates, here represented by his noting mind and the noted object, Ārammaṇaka and Ārammaṇa respectively. This stage of knowledge is described in Visuddhi magga as follows:

            Nane tikkhe vahante saṅkhāresu lahum upatthahantesu uppādam vā thitim vā pavattam vā nimittam vā nasampāpunāti, khayavayabheda nirodheyeva sati santitthati.

            (When Bhaṅga ñāṇa arises) the intellect is rendered so sharp that its performance appears to be almost automatic in setting volitional activities in motion in all clarity, under which circumstance the mind skips over the Uppada stage of origination, the Pavatta stage of establishment and the Nimitta stage of imprinting imagery of the phenomenal world and assimilates only its destruction, decay and disintegration.

When Udayabbaya ñāṇa arises, Uppada, origination of Nāma and Rūpa becomes clear and evident. When Sammanasana ñāṇa arises, Thiti, static stage of the thought-process, presents itself clearly as a result of the law of continuity, notwithstanding its recognition of the nature of impermanence of mind and matter. But in the beginning, just before coming to this stage of investigating knowledge only Pavatta or establishment of the phenomenon is rendered obvious as the rise and fall of the aggregates are yet to be experienced. Here, however, even Nimitta, imagery of the phenomenon, can be seen. But when Bhaṅga ñāṇa arises, neither the origination nor the establishment nor the imagery are clear. What is clear now is only dissolution every time the phenomenon is noted. This agrees with the personal experience gained by the yogīs. This shows that Visuddhi Magga, written 1,500 years before has stood the test of time.

The following brief passage occurs in Patisambhidā Magga:

            Ārammanañca patisaṅkhā, bhaṅganca anupassati; sunato ca upatthānam, adhipaññāvipassanā.

            Having got enlightened on the dissolution with regard to the mind-object, a yogī continues meditating on the dissolution of mind that takes note of the object. He then comes to the realization that all Saṅkhāras, mental formations are empty and void. This realization is the highest form of insight-knowledge.

Here the idea of self is totally wiped out by the knowledge of dissolution. When all dhammas are known to decay at any time, fear sets in. The knowledge of that fear is Bhāya ñāṇa. This prompts one to arrive at the knowledge of the five aggregates of clinging as evil, and this knowledge is called Ādinava ñāṇa. When one looks at them in disgust, Nibbidā ñāṇa operates. When this sense of revulsion is developed one abandons all desire to keep them as one's own possession One looks forward to dispensing with them altogether. This knowledge as regards the wish to escape from the shackles of the khandhas is called Muncitukamyatā ñāṇa.

If you really want to escape from the burden of the khandhas you must make further endevours in the practice of meditation. In fact you must make a special effort to reflect on the contemplation of the five aggregates of clinging as subject to the law of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta; and this knowledge of reflection is called Patisaṅkhā ñāṇa. When this knowledge becomes strengthened, a sense of equanimity towards all conditioned-things will be developed; and it is called Saṅkharupekkhā ñāṇa. Visuddhi Magga comments on this with the parable of fisherman.


While fishing a fisherman caught something big in his trap. Much delighted with the catch, he put his hand in the trap and grappled it. When he withdrew his hand, he discovered that he had caught a big snake by the neck which had three marks by which its poisonous nature is to be known. Much alarmed, he attempted at throwing away the poisonous snake; but it would be dangerous to throw it away under the conditions obtaining. So he waved it three times over his head and flung it away. As it was flying in the air he ran for his life.

A yogī, unaware of the Three Marks of Anicca, etc., as he meditates on his seeing, hearing, etc., considers the phenomenal world as pleasant and delightful. He is very much like that fisherman who was pleased with his catch which he thought was a fish. Then the yogī discovers that what he thinks as pleasurable are subject to the Three Marks of impermanence, suffering and unsubstantiality, he gets much frightened as the fisherman grappling the snake by the neck which has tell-tale marks of poison. Suddenly he sees the light of reason. Firstly he realizes his mistake. Then he becomes disgusted with his body of the aggregates of mind and matter. He wants to fling it away, if that be possible.

If you want to escape from evil recognizing it as evil, it is imperative that you must practise insight meditation with reference to the Three Marks of Anicca etc. If you are misled into the belief that contemplation of the Three Marks are superfluous since you have understood already, you can never reach the stage of Muncitukamyata ñāṇa without which emancipation is not possible.

The kinds of insight that I have enumerated are in accordance with what has been expounded in Patisambhidā Magga.


Meditation on the five aggregates of clinging, keeping an eye on the eleven aspects of the characteristics of impermanence, as pointed out throughout this discourse, leads the yogī to the path and fruition pertaining to a stream-winner. When insight grows into saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa, equanimity of the mind is established which looks at all volitional activities with indifference -- unaffected by either pleasant or unpleasant objects. On reaching this stage of knowledge the arising and passing away of objects just come up naturally to the meditator who needs no special effort to make to note them. They may be good or bad, but that does not matter to him. He can note them at a stretch of an hour or two just as every phenomenon occurs. The mind, mellowed by equanimity, is quick to assimilate all phenomena and aligns himself with the peace-element of Nibbāna to abide in the path of a stream-winner which, in course of time, fructifies. Both magga and phala are now duly accomplished and the yogī becomes a fully-fledged sotāpanna.


The following is what Milinda Paññā has to say about the matter.

            The mind of a yogī who cultivates attentiveness progressively functions beyond the continuum of repeated occurrences to enter into a state where such occurrences are absent. When this state of non-arising is achieved, the yogī sees Nibbāna.

When saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa gets strengthened, the yogī gets to the next stage of anuloma ñāṇa, knowledge of adaptation to Nibbāna, in its vigorous form. After that he gains the knowledge of the Path and its Fruition when he becomes a sotāpanna, the fundamental stage which Sāriputtarā explained to Koṭṭhika Thera.


Visuddhi Magga says that once the mind adverts to the element of Nibbānic peace, defilements, kilesā, disintegrate, although ordinarily such defilements as greed, anger and ignorance are unbreakable like iron or steel. When a worldling comes face to face with pleasant things, he wants to possess them, and thereby greed arises. But when he comes into contact with unpleasantness, he develops revulsion accompanied by resentment. Ignorance, on the other hand, deludes him into thinking that what is wholesome is not wholesome and vice versa. Here in passing, let me point the impropriety of giving charity publicized by entertainments of music and dancing. The donor may feel gratified with this manner of alms-giving; but it leads to unwholesome actions like developing greed and covetousness. It must be borne in mind also that when greed arises, anger accompanies it. When desire develops, the greedy person becomes highly possessive and if he fails to get what he wants he becomes angry. Greed usually gives him the impression that everything is permanent, nicca, delightful, sukkha, and substantial, atta.

Observance of morals can do away with defilements caused by words and deeds; but it cannot wipe out greed, anger and ignorance inherent in one's mind. It is only through meditation that a yogī can dispel them. Even then it is hard to get rid of atta diṭṭhi, view of self. Nīvaraṇas, obstructions, like lust, ill-will, etc., may also be conquered by a meditating yogī but this conquest can be achieved only when he has attained jhāna and remains in the state of jhāna. Attachment to wrong views and desire for existence can be very persistent. They cannot be easily shaken off and so they dwell even in the minds of those achieving jhāna or attaining the status of a Brāhma. Samatha, concentration, cannot extinguish anger, greed and ignorance; only Vipassanā can.


Meditation on the aggregates with due regard to the Three Marks of anicca, etc can eradicate all tendencies to defilements called anusayas. But even then it can hardly can do away with that kind of disposition inherent in the concept of continuity called santānānusaya. Only Ariya Magga (Noble Path) can wipe it out. Hence the saying that Sotāpatti Magga (Stream-winning Path) can break the rocks of defilements. But here defilements refer to sakkāya diṭṭhi, view of individuality, vicikiccā, doubt, and sīlabbataparāmāsa, false religious practices, that pave the way to the world of miserable existence.

If a yogī continue practising insight meditation, he will always be mindful of all compound things as being made up of nāma and rūpa and nothing else. This means that there is no living substance called atta. But if he neglects to meditate, the view of self will recur leading him to the wrong belief in the existence a spiritual being. Perhaps, this belief may be absent in the present existence, but it may re-assert itself later in the next existence. This cannot happen when he attains the Path of sotāpanna.

A sotāpanna is firmly established in the faith. Since he has acquired wisdom through personal practice and experience, he recognizes rūpa and nāma as the cause and effect respectively of the phenomenal world, always subjected to the law of anicca, etc. The more he realizes the nature of conditioned things the more his faith in the Enlightened One grows, and when ultimately he visualizes Nibbāna, his faith in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha becomes unshakable.

When all doubts about the three gems are dispelled, he develops confidence in the practice of sīla, morality, samādhi, concentration, and paññā, knowledge.

Now he has become established in right conduct, doing away with all false religious practices which negate sīla, samādhi and paññā as well as the Noble Eightfold Path. He now disdains the teaching that agelessness and deathlessness can be achieved when he goes to heaven without the advantage of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Sīlabbataparāmāsa relates to cattle-practice and dog-practice and other practices that imitate animal behaviour. It also includes the worship of nats and devas, the king of the devas, and those who are believed to be creators like Brahmās in the fond hope that they can liberate mankind from sorrows and miseries and give it happiness. These religious practices teach that the mind should be kept at rest without over-burdening it with insight-meditation which enlightens one with the Four Noble Truths. The mind at "rest" they maintain, gains peace. Not discovering the right conduct, worldlings go after false teachers and accept their teachings. The term for a worldling is puthujana which means many teachers. Not exactly, knowing who a true teacher is, a worldling goes in search of one among many whom he encounters. But a sotāpanna knows the true Teacher and his Teaching and rejects all false religious practices which negate Vipassanā and merely looks askance at sīlabbataparāmāsa.

At the time of Buddha there was a devotee by the name of Visākha. Her father-in-law worshipped naked heretics. Once he threw a feast for his pseudo-saints and invited his daughter-in-law also to the feast. When she discovered that they were all false, she left them in disgust, saying, "Fie upon you!"

Sotāpanna are free from the bonds of false views, doubts and false religious practices. This is according to the Pāḷi canon. The commentaries go further than that and say that they are free from the bond of macchariya, envy.


Visuddhi magga says that the Path, Sotāpatti magga, dries up the ocean of saṃsāra, the endless round of suffering, beside bringing down the stone-wall of greed asunder. The word "endless" denotes that the rounds have no beginning. This means that saṃsāra has a long, long last; and so far we have not yet been able to alienate ourselves from it. That we cannot help. But we must try to cut it off so that it cannot arise in future. If we fail to do so, it will create endless suffering for times to come. It can only be arrested with the practice of the Noble Path. The volume of water on the ocean can be measured, but the magnitude of saṃsāra is immeasurable. If, therefore, the Path is not realized now, the saṃsāra will flow on!

Unwholesome actions pave the way to Apāya, abode of miseries. Of all sufferings, suffering in that abode is the worst. The commentaries say that it is the hearth and home of evil-doers who are always negligent of the dhamma. They may leave their hearth and home for a time, as if going out for a brief visit elsewhere; but eventually they return to their original hovel. A sotāpanna has nothing to worry about such miserable habitat for he has only seven existences to go, after which he will arrive at Nibbāna.

There is a saying that for an Ariya accomplished in the Path, all gates to apāya are closed. No doubt a sotāpanna cannot be held to have discarded greed, anger and ignorance altogether, but still he has closed all doors to unwholesome actions. Hence the following points are given as a gist of what has been said.

1. A sotāpanna realizes that there is no atta but nāma and rūpa.

2. He never doubts about the three gems of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

3. With him the ocean of the rounds of suffering has been rendered dry.

4. All doors to the four apāyas are closed to him.


            The Noble Path brings wealth to the Noble Ones, and there are seven kinds of them. But their wealth is unlike the material wealth of mankind. A gardener's wealth is his vegetables, and a jeweller's his gold and precious stones. They are very useful to them throughout their lives and for that matter, they are very pleased with them. But when they die they cannot carry them away to their next existences. Their usefulness ends with their demise. Such material wealth pales into insignificance when compared to the spiritual or moral wealth of the Noble Ones which proves beneficial to them throughout their rounds of existence. Possessing it, they know not suffering; and this absence of suffering constitutes the highest form of happiness for those who have become sotāpannas.

The seven kinds of wealth of the Ariyas are enumerated below:

            Saddhādhānam sīladhānam, hīri otappiyam dhā-nam; sutadhanamca cagoca, paññā ve sattānam dhā-nam; iassa ete dhana atthi, Iṭṭhiyā purisassa vā. adalid-doti tam āhu, amogham tassa jīvitam.

            Faith, morality, sense of shame (to do evil), fear (of doing evil), knowledgeableness, good conduct, and wisdom are the seven categories of wealth possessed by the Noble Ones. Those possessing such wealth, whether men or women, are to be considered as rich. Their lives are worth living.

Faith in the three gems or Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is made possible by Sotāpatti Magga. This subject has been dealt earlier.

Regarding morality, sīla, the scriptures say that a layman observing the five precepts can prosper in life and can never be committed to the four apāyas hereafter. His life would be all the more ennobled if he observes eight or ten precepts. With sotāpannas the five precepts are never broken, and so there is no occasion for him to go down to the world of misery. In the course of his teachings, Buddha has said that one who has established his faith in the three gems of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, having accomplished himself in morality, may declare himself as a sotāpanna.

Hīri, sense of shame, and ottappa, fear, are two wholesome dispositions of mind that guide people towards absolute purity. One possessing these two virtues would hesitate to do evil or commit crimes. Such a one will be regarded as abstaining from evil actions or ducaritas that bring about akusala kammas, unwholesome actions.

Knowledge, suta, is of two kinds, one derived from what one hears at second hand from others and the other at first hand from his own personal observation. A yogī in the habit of practicing dhamma is deemed to have possessed both kinds of knowledge.

Cāga, charitableness or good conduct, is usually practised by all Buddhists either in a humble or a generous way. A sotāpanna practises it freely and without restraint, giving away all that he has to his fellow men endowed with morality. This virtue of a sotāpanna has been explained at length in my discourse entitled "To Nibbāna via the Noble Eightfold Path" and Saranīya Dhamma".

Wisdom, paññā, is the seventh attribute of a satāpanna and it is of three kinds, namely, wisdom gained from what one hears from others, wisdom derived from the exercise of one's intellect, and wisdom derived from bhāvanā, mind-culture.

Lay devotees, whether male or female, who possess the seven noble attributes shown herein, are held to be wealthy although they may be materially poor. Such wealth always proves beneficial to them.


At the time of Buddha there was a leper born with untold suffering. When his mother conceived him, she was afflicted with starvation. When he was born she had to beg both for herself and for her newly-born baby. But when he came of age she abandoned him giving him her begging bowl. So the leper wandered the street a-begging in the day and sleeping at night whimpering because of his disease. This so disturbed his neighbours that they named him Suppabuddha--the man who awakens others at night.

He became miserable in this existence because in one of his previous existences he maligned a Paccekabuddha, non-preaching Buddha, saying, "who is that leper roaming on the streets wearing rags?" This unwholesome action gave him unwholesome result, and he was reborn time and again in the nether worlds to be returned to earth in the present existence as a leprous beggar.

One day he met a gathering listening to the sermon delivered by the Buddha as he made his daily round for alms-food. At first he thought that the crowd had gathered because some one was throwing a feast to passers-by. But discovering that it was an informal religious meeting, he gave a respectful ear to the preaching when Buddha deliberately selected a discourse that suited to the beggar's intelligence, knowing that he possessed potentialities that would go to make him see the light of the dhamma. As a result of this Suppabuddha attained Sotāpatti magga, the path of a stream-winner.

He thus became a stream-winner for two reasons. Firstly he had reached the stage of perfection that stood him in good stead for the realization of the path and its fruition, and, secondly, he had been moved by saṃvega, feelings of fright or repentance for previous misdeeds. People in affluence are seldom so agitated by this sense of fright, and so their faith is weak.

He trailed behind Buddha to go the monastery and left him in the end to go his own way. Meantime the king of devas had come down to earth with intent to test the faith. "Look here, Suppabuddha," he said, "if only you do what I say I will cure you of your disease and make you rich. Say that Gotama is not really enlightened and that his teachings false, and that his sanghas are spurious. If you just declare that you will have none of them, I will give you all the riches that you want."

Coming to know the stranger as the King of devas, Suppabuddha was very much mortified and said. "You, the King of devas, are foolish and unabashed. It is not worthy of me to get into conversation with you. You say that I am poor. But possessing the seven kinds of wealth of the Noble One, I am indeed the richest man on earth.

The King of devas left him and went to the monastery and related the incident to the Buddha who told him that he would never be able to shake the faith of Suppabuddha.

After this incident Suppabuddha was gored to death by a stray cow. This was due to his bad Kamma or actions. In one of his previous existences he was the son of a rich man. He and his three companions killed a prostitute for her money after they had had their pleasure. The dying woman swore that she would be avenged in the existences to come. Whenever the four miscreants got reborn as men, she appeared as an ogre eating them up one by one.

Now it so happened that Suppabuddha was reborn a man along with his friends, Pukkusāti, Daruciriya and Tambadāthika, while the ogre was also reborn as a cow. She gored them to death one by one under different circumstances.

I would like to point out in parenthesis that the woman's vengeance was to her own disadvantage, for Kamma-results would overtake her throughout her future existences. But for the four who were gored to death they are to be considered as fortunate, in ordinary parlance, for Daruciya entered parinibbāna as an Arahat, while Pukkusāti became a Brahma in Suddavāsa, destined to become an Arahat later, whereas Tambadāthika became a deva in Tusitā. Suppabuddha who died a sotāpanna was reborn in Tavatimsā, released from suffering as a leprous beggar of this human world. Had he not met this kind of fate, he would have to continue to be miserable throughout his life as a beggar.


Udāna Pāḷi Text gives reasons for Suppabuddha being transported to Tavatimsā on his death. Having heard Buddha's teachings, he became established in faith, morality, knowledge, charitableness and wisdom. So after his demise he was reborn in a better and nobler plane of existence. The Commentaries elaborate on this points, mentioning his great faith in the Three Gems and defining Cāga as contributory to the abandonment of defilements and cessation of volitional activities, and Paññā as wisdom leading to insight knowledge.

Faith, morality, knowledge, charitableness and wisdom are, therefore, the five wholesome actions that lead Suppabuddha to the abode of devas. But my personal view is that insight, Vipassanā, might have played a larger part in his destiny, for it can bring about cessation of suffering. How is this cessation brought about? When a yogī meditates, mindful of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta, all attachments to the idea of permanence, pleasure and substantiality subside, as insight eradicates all tendencies to defilements. when defilements are done away with, wholesome or unwholesome actions have no opportunity to arise. In Suppabuddha's case the wholesome Cetanā or volition in the exercise of insight meditation determines his destiny for Sugati bhava, a higher and better form of existence.


Gotrabhū cetanā is that kind of volition which inclines towards the Path, its Fruition and Nibbāna. (Gotrabhū transcends the Sense Sphere lineage to aspire to the sublime lineage.) In Vipassanā it is the highest stage of knowledge which can bring about the most exalted Kamma-results. Suppabuddha was reborn a deva because of his Gotrabhū cetanā.

When he gained his place in Tāvatimsā, he was more powerful than other devas who preceded him by dint of their wholesome actions done outside the domain of Buddhasāsanā. As envy got the better of them, the veterans made unfavourable remarks about the new arrival saying that he was only a leprous baggar in his former existence. The King of devas restrained them saying that Suppabuddha was superior to them because he was accomplished in morality, knowledge, charitableness and wisdom. I hope the story about him would encourage the yogīs to try to accumulate wholesome actions through the practice of insight-meditation.


Buddha has said:

Pathabya karajjena,
saggassa gamanena v
āpattiphalam varam.

            The life of a Sotāpanna is far nobler than that of a Universal Monarch, or of a deva or a Brahma, or of the King of all Brahmas.

For fuller details on this subject please refer to my discourse, "On the Nature of Nibbāṅa" I conclude by drawing your attention to the fact that knowledge leading to Sotāpanna magga (1) rends asunder all defilements, (2) dries up the ocean of Saṃsāra. (3) closes all doors to Apāya and (4) endows one with the seven kinds of wealth befitting an Ariya, the Noble One.

May you all attain to the state of Nibbana as quickly as possible by virtue of your practice of insight-meditation in accordance with the teachings of the Enlightened One regarding meditation on the five aggregates of clinging in relation to the three marks of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta.

Sadhu!          Sadhu!          Sadhu!

Chapter 5


(Delivered on the 14th. Waning of Nayon and the 8th. Waning of  Wāso, 1329 M.E.)

This is the seventh lecture in the series entitled "A Discourse on Sīlavanta Sutta", re-arranged here as Part V. Previously I have enumerated the four virtues of the Part of a stream-winner and now I propose to tell you the remaining virtues.


Visuddhi Magga says that Sotāpatti magga renounces the eightfold wrong path, namely, wrong views, wrong thoughts, wrong speech, wrong actions, wrong livelihood, wrong efforts, wrong mindfulness and wrong concentration.

1. Sammadiṭṭhi, right views, dispels Micchādiṭṭhi, wrong views, namely, Attadiṭṭhi, view of self, Sakkāyadiṭṭhi, view of individuality, Sassatadiṭṭhi, view of eternity of self, Ucchedadiṭṭhi, view of existence terminating with death and Natthikadiṭṭhi, view of nihilism.

Vipassanā insight is incompatible with the view of eternalism. Those who believe in this wrong view fails to get insight knowledge that negates atta and brings one to the path of the Arahat who realizes Nibbāna where nāma and rūpa cease.

Those rooted in the belief that one lives only one life which becomes annihilated after one's death consider the accumulation of wholesome actions and abstention from evil as fruitless and therefore unnecessary. With them there is no kamma, wholesome or unwholesome, nor kamma-results. Of all the wrong views, this view of annihilation is the most damaging. Sammādiṭṭhi dispels this wrong view.

It enlightens one to appreciate insight-knowledge about rūpa and nāma as cause and effect of the phenomenal world being subject to the law of anicca, etc., and this enlightenment dispels self-view, eternalism and annihilation-view. When a yogī meditates on seeing, he realizes that seeing arises as the eye-basis dwells on the eye-object which, then, is recognized by the eye-consciousness. The phenomenon of knowing is also realized in the same manner: knowing or the consciousness that knows occurs because there is the object to be known by the sense-basis. They yogī sees rūpa and nāma as the cause and effect in bringing about conditioned things beyond which there is no agency to create seeing or knowing. In other words, there is no atta that sees or thinks; and when this atta is removed, the views of eternalism and annihilation are wiped out.

2. Sammāsaṅkappa, right thoughts or intentions, dispels micchāsaṅkappa, wrongs thoughts which consist of kāmavitakka, lustful thoughts, byāpāda vitakka, malevolence and vihimsavitakka, ideas that give rise to cruelty. A sotāpanna has not yet broken himself entirely loose from the five constituents of sensual pleasures; but he takes especial care not to get involved in those pleasures that lead him to apāya, abodes of misery. He resists all inclinations to steal, tell lies, etc. Neither is he able to conquer anger but he shuns such evil as killing, etc. He may also be unable to abstain from indulging in act of cruelty; for example, he may beat the beast of burden while hurrying for a journey. But he is not cruel for cruelty's sake.

3. Sammāvācā, right speech, dispels micchāvācā, wrong speech, which consists of telling lies, maligning others, using bad language and indulging in frivolous talks. When one observes five or eight precepts one renounces wrong speech. A meditating yogī usually refrains from it, but it may not be wholly uprooted. For instance, under certain circumstances he may be persuaded to tell lies, but he may never speak ill of others. Wrong speech will be totally abstained when one reaches the anāgāmi or never-returning stage of saintliness. An Arahat will have no occasion whatsoever to indulge in maligning others unwittingly even through inadvertent wrong effort, or wrong mindfulness or wrong concentration.

4. Sammākammanta, right actions, dispel micchākammanta, wrong actions. Those keeping the five precepts have nothing to do with misdeeds. For a meditating yogī there will be no opportunity for them to arise. A sotāpanna can uproot all tendencies to do mischief or unwholesome actions.

5. Sammā ājīva, right livelihood, dispels micchā-ājīva, wrong livelihood. As noted above, those established in the observance of the five precepts and those who practise meditation usually abstain from earning their bread in the wrong way; but such an abstinence lasts only for the duration of the observance of precepts or of the practice of meditation. Only when one becomes a sotāpanna that one is able to renounce wrong livelihood altogether.

6. Sammāvāyāma, right effort, dispels micchāvāyāma; wrong effort. Evil efforts have to be exerted in the execution of evil deeds which can only be foiled by wholesome efforts that give wholesome results. A meditating yogī cannot accomplish his noble task without exerting right endeavour. His very occupation with mindfulness gives full support to sammāvāyāma. With a sotāpanna all wrong efforts that lead him to apāya have become eliminated.

7. Sammāsati, right mindfulness, dispels micchāsati, wrong mindfulness. All recollections of unwholesome actions on which the mind and its concomitants dwell constitute wrong mindfulness. When one delights in evil that one has committed, or in memories of unhealthy exploits done along with one's near and dear ones, or in recollections of evil intentions, one is said to be practising mindfulness in the wrong way. This kind of mindfulness can be abolished only when one keeps wholesome actions in mind, recalling the virtues of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. A meditating yogī can abolish it in the casual way; but a stream-winner can do so in order that apāya is avoided altogether.

8. Sammāsamādhi, right concentration; dispels micchāsamādhi, wrong concentration. The mind which concentrates on lust or criminal actions like murder or theft is said to be reveling in micchāsamādhi, wrong concentration, which can be abandoned only when a yogī concentrates on the virtues of the three gems, or on in-breathing and out-breathing, or on kasina-object, or on jhāna. This concentration is usually established only for the duration of the exercise of mental culture. But a stream-winner abnegates forever all kinds of wrong concentration which paves the way to apāya.

Micchāmagga, wrong path, paves the way to the four woeful states of existence collectively known as apāya. But even if one can avoid it and gets reborn in the human world, it can produce kamma-results of miserable existence. And so, one may be born short-lived, diseased, or destitute. Consider Suppabuddha mentioned in my last lecture. He indulged in using bad language against a Paccekabuddha for which unwholesome action he suffered in the nether worlds. His wrong speech was motivated by wrong thoughts or intentions which misled him to wrong efforts. And in this way a chain of wrongfulness arises up to the stage of wrong concentration. Hence Suppabuddha was reborn a leprous beggar and killed by a cow, as a kamma result of his misdeeds against a woman of pleasure. So the virtue of a sotāpanna consists in his practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.


A sotāpanna has no enemies, and so he has nothing to fear. The terms, vera, enemy, and bhāya, fear, suggest the presence of danger. He is free from it. Milinda Pañhā and Saṃvega Vatthu Dīpanī mentions twenty-five dangers.

The first group of five consists of dangers arising from (1) killing, (2) theft. (3) unlawful sexual intercourse, (4) lying and (5) taking intoxicants. Aṅguttara Nikāya says that they are to be regarded as the most dangerous enemies that negate morality, and pave the way to nether worlds. A sotāpanna cannot be assailed by such enemies.

Vibhaṅga, again, mentions four dangers, namely (1) birth (2) aging (3) disease and (4) death. A sotāpanna cannot escape from these dangers but he has to meet them only for a space of seven existences after which he will be totally released from them. Then there are also four dangers arising from the four enemies of mankind; and they are (5) rulers, (6) thieves, (7) fire and (8) water which are usually added to the first four. A sotāpanna may be harassed by these four enemies in his present existence; but it is possible for him to avoid them in his future existences because of his wholesome actions.

To this second set of four may be added the third set consisting of dangers arising (9) from rough seas, (10) from crocodiles (11) from whirlpools and from (12) marine monsters. These suggest dangers usually met by travellers crossing the ocean. But they must not be taken literally. Buddha was making a reference to dangers that detract bhikkhus from their aim of renouncing the world to get liberated from rebirth, old age, disease and death. A newly-ordained monk may find it irksome to be guided by his mentors, who usually are younger then himself. Intolerant of the strict instructions and angry with the task masters, he leaves the Order to become a lay man again. Such ex-monks are likened to people drowning in the rough seas. Rules of discipline relating to priestly conduct have many restrictions which prove distressing to a new monk. He therefore leaves the Order to enjoy freedom as a lay man. He is likened to a man wrestling with crocodiles in the river. A neophyte, coming into contact with mundane life as he goes round for alms-food, is often reminded of his former home-life. Developing ennui with the life of a recluse, he turns a lay man again. He is likened to a man thrown into a whirlpool. Then there is the monk who reverts to the life of a householder all because of a woman. He is likened to a drowned man eaten up by marine monsters.

Then there is the fourth set of dangers arising from (13) Attānuvāda, self-accusation, (14) Parānuvāda, allegations by others (15) punishment and (16) Apāya, abodes of misery.

When a person accuses himself, the case against him must usually be true. Such a person is deemed immoral. But the like of him cannot be found among sotāpannas. When others accuse him of crimes, the allegations may be either true of false. It may not be possible for a sotāpanna to be falsely accused. He may, therefore, have no qualms about it. But he may not be able to escape from punishment meted out to him by authorities even though charges against him are false. But such wrong punishments cannot happen to a sotāpanna in his future existences. But a sotāpanna can have no fear of going down to apāya.

These 16 dangers are not only mentioned in vibhaṅga but also in Aṅguttara Nikāya and Sammohavinodhanī Aṭṭhakathā.

The fifth set of dangers relates to (17) ñāti byāsana, misfortunes befalling relatives, (18) bhogabyāsana, economic disasters, (19) rogabyāsana, destruction by disease, (20) sīlabyāsana, moral breakdown and (21) diṭṭhibyāsana, destruction by wrong views.

The last set consist of (22) ajīvika, vocational hazards (23) asiloka, ignominy, (24) parisasarajjā, timidity or self-consciousness for one's own sins and (25) dubbhikkha, famine. A sotāpanna is liable to meet these dangers, except perhaps, dangers arising out of famine and starvation.


A sotāpanna is a true progeny of Buddha because his faith in the three gems is firm and unwavering. Worldlings who have not realized the Path and its Fruition cannot be regarded as his true progeny because their faith can waver under the influence of diverse guides and teachers who deviate from the truth.


A sotāpanna is always blessed with the beneficial result of faith in the three gems. Anchored in faith, he has no necessity look out for other guides and teachers as worldlings do. He abides in the joy of the realization of the true dhamma. He is destined to be an Arahat after the lapse of seven existences from the day he becomes a sotāpanna. Before he attains to Arahatship, he can always find shelter in the dhamma which safeguards him from falling to the ignoble planes of existence.


I shall now say briefly about paccavekkhaṇā ñāṇa, knowledge derived from self-examination or self-appreciation. They are of two kinds, one relating to the contemplation of the contemplation of the Path, its Fruition and Nibbāna. Earlier I have mentioned gotrabhū which marks the sublime stage in Vipassanā practice when a yogī's mind is sanctified and ennobled through meditation on the arising and passing away of nāma and rūpa. At this stage one looks back in retrospect at the Path trodden, at the phenomenon of cessation of the khandhas and at the extinction of the state of the flux of the khandhas. Abhidhammattha Saṅgaha, however, defines that paccavekkhaṇā is self-examination in relation to how much of kilesā has been expelled or not expelled.

The second category of paccavekkhaṇā relates to examination of the qualities and virtues that go to make a sotāpanna. It is, in fact, self-appraisal of the application of the Ariyan or noble knowledge to the task of achieving the Path and its Fruition appertaining to a sotāpanna. This knowledge is called Mahāpaccavekkhaṇā as it is rather extensive, and it is shown as having seven principles for which see the appendix to my discourse; "To Nibbāna via the Noble Eightfold Path."


            The first Mahāpaccavekkhaṇā is self-examination conducted by a sotāpanna as to whether he has become free from pariyutthāna kilesā, a violent form of defilement prompted by sensual desires, animosity, sloth and torpor and doubt. He examines himself in this way. He retires to a forest, takes up his abode under a tree or in a place of solitude, and reflects on his achievements, saying, "If I am still possessed by kilesā, I shall not be able to know the reality of the phenomena of nāma and rūpa that arise and dissolved. Are those pariyutthāna kilesā still dwelling in my mind?" Then he comes to the conclusion that such defilements no longer reside within him and that the Four Noble Truths have become established in his mind. This is the first self-appreciation.


The second principle in self-appreciation is for a sotāpanna to investigate within himself whether anusaya kilesā, tendencies to the more intense forms of defilements, are still present in his inner self.

A sotāpanna is usually firmly established in the Path which enables him to visualize the cessation of the khandhās. And this results in his firm conviction in anicca, dukkha and anatta. Fred from care and anxiety, he continually meditates thriving on the knowledge of the Path. So when he examines himself, he discovers that the coarser forms of defilements which have been earlier mentioned have all withered away. But still he has to be wary of the subtler forms such as sakkāyadiṭṭhi, the view of individuality, vicikiccā, doubt and sīlabbataparamāsa, wrong religious practices. Then he also discovers that all such defilements have been discarded.


This principle relates to self-realization often a critical examination of one's inner self, that outside the realm of Buddha's teaching, there is no samaṇa or Brahmaṇa who is accomplished in the knowledge of the Noble Eightfold Path. This means that outside this Sāsanā there can be no ariyas or Noble Ones who have trodden the Path.


A sotāpanna is critical of himself whether he has acquired the nature of an Ariya accomplished in the knowledge of the Path. An Ariya never conceals his faults and imperfections but owns them up with a view to correction. There are certain rules of priestly conduct which may at times be broken wittingly or unwittingly. It is an ecclesiastical offence for a monk to sleep under the same roof along with novices and laity for three consecutive nights. He may or may not have realized that this impropriety has occurred. All the same he has technically committed the offence if the fact that he has slept under the circumstances that have been mentioned is proved. In such a case he has to make a confession undertaking not to repeat similar offences. The nature of a Sotāpanna is to observe the rules of discipline strictly and to make amends if he breaks them consciously or unconsciously.

Worldlings who delights in the pleasures of the senses do not regard self-indulgence as sinful. So they have no qualms about it. But a Sotāpanna is always mindful that sensual pleasures generate defilements of the mind and so he is very careful of them although he may or may not be able to get away from them.


            The fifth principle of self-appreciation for a Sotāpanna is to examine himself whether he has strong inclinations to the practice of higher morality, Sīla, higher concentration of mind, Samādhi, higher knowledge, Paññā. Fundamentally this Paccavekkhaṇā is almost the same as the fourth: but it is one step higher than that. A Sotāpanna mindful of this principle is likened to a nursing cow whose attention is always riveted to her offspring although she may be munching grass all the time. A Sotāpanna may be occupied with his daily chores like all worldly people, but he does not neglect the three Sikkhās of morality, concentration and knowledge.


A Sotāpanna examines himself as to whether he possesses the strength of Ariyas which relates to respectful attention to be given to the teachings of the Law and the Rules of Discipline. An ordinary worldling pays heed to the Dhamma perfunctorily. His mind may be wandering during lectures given on them. He may be talking to others while the lecturer is expounding the law. During the convention of the Sixth Buddhist Council, its proceedings were broadcast and they were highly appreciated by most people. But it came to my knowledge that a certain woman had her radio closed down the moment she heard the words, "Yam tena" that prefaced the recitations of the Sanghas, saying that they were jarring to her ears. This gives you an idea of the kind of strength possessed by an Ariya and a worldling. A Sotāpanna bends his mind on every word that is uttered by his teacher as if that every word is a jewel to be owned by him.


Here in this seventh principle of self-examination, the strength of a Sotāpanna consists in his joy. His is not mundane but highly sublime. Worldlings find delight to hear romantic tales and phantasy; but they get bored when they have to listen to serious religious discourses. But the joy of a Sotāpanna in listening to the Dhamma is sincere and ecstatic.

If, after self-examination, a yogī finds that he has been endowed with the seven virtues as suggested by the principles of Mahāpaccavekkhaṇā, he may rest assured that he has all the qualifications that go to make a Sotāpanna.

Now I shall close with the usual prayer for the audience attending this lecture to be blessed with Nibbānic peace after having realized the Path of a Sotāpanna.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 6


(Delivered on the 8th. Waxing and the Full Moon day of Wagaung, 1329 M.E.)

I have so far delivered eight lectures in the last two of which I talked about the virtues of stream-winner, Sotāpanna, who usually makes a self-appraisal of himself by exercising Paccavekkhaṇā ñāṇa. Now I shall deal with the three types of Sotāpanna.


A Sotāpanna is classified into three types according to the rounds of existences he is destined to go in the final leg of his journey to Nibbāna. They are (1) Sattakkhattuparama sotāpanna, (2) Kolamkola sotāpanna and (3) Ekabhiji sotāpanna.

Puggala paññātti defines Sattakkhattuparama sotāpanna as one who has severed the bonds of attachment to wrong views, doubts and false religious practices. As a result of such severance a Sotāpanna can never go down to Apāya, woeful existence, having become assured of a higher existence, heading for the higher Path, and destined to sojourn in the human or the deva-world for only a space of seven lives to arrive at the last post where all sufferings come to an end.

Sometimes a sotāpanna may take only two or three rounds of existence to win the path of an Arahat when he is known as kolamkola sotāpanna. Here the statement "two or three rounds may not be taken literally. It is only a very general statement. So some commentaries suggest that sotāpannas who undergo six rounds of existence before becoming an Arahat may also be classified as a kolamkola sotāpannas. Actually the term kolamkola means transition from one higher lineage to another.

Ekabhiji sotāpanna has only one existence left before he realizes the Path of on Arahat. All these three types of sotāpannas remain as such till their last existence without reaching sakadāgāmi or anāgāmi stage in the intervening existences. They all become Arahats only at the last and final stage. This diversity of the types is due to the degree of intensity with which insight meditation is practised. According to this theory expounded in the commentaries, if a sotāpanna makes intensive efforts in the practice of Vipassanā, he can be raised to the stage of a sakadāgāmi, and progressively to that of an Anāgāmi and finally to that of an Arahat in this very existence, During the time of Buddha certain bhikkhus attained to Arahatship forthwith.


Exclusive of the three types now mentioned there is another type of sotāpanna who prefers to progressive realization of the knowledge of the Path and its Fruition undergoing successive rounds of existence. Such a sotāpanna likes to be reborn a second time to as pireto the state of a sakadāgāmi, and also a third to aspire likewise to the state of an anāgāmi in order that he finally reaches the pure abode of suddhavāsa from which he will be released as an Arahat. Our Myanmar Commentators give him the name of vattajjhāsaya or vattabhirata sotāpanna, so named because they are presumed to have a predilection for existences. Examples of such sotāpannas are Anāthapindika, Visākhā, Cūḷarattha deva, Mahārattha deva and Nāgadattha deva. They sojourned the six abodes of the celestial planes one after another, glorifying them with their presence and finally reaching akaniṭṭha, the highest of the Suddhassana Pure Abodes in the Realms of Form. This was their last existence from which they were released as Arahats, entering Parinibbāna. From such examples some commentators adduce the fact that such a type of sotāpanna wanders through all the six celestial planes from the first to the last or through all the five Pure Abodes from the first to the last. But to my mind, it will be more appropriate to assume that a sotāpanna in this category goes progressively through all the states of phala (fruition) appertaining to a sotāpanna, a sakadāgāmi, an anāgāmi and ultimately an Arahat. In Dhammasaṅganī these four phalas are shown as four planes in an allegorical sense.

That a sotāpanna wanders progressively through all the six celestial planes cannot be taken as textually precise, for Sakkapaṇhā Sutta, the original Pāḷi canon, says of Sakka, the king of devas as dying an anāgāmi while in Tāvatimsä and being reborn in Akaniṭṭha the highest in Suddhavāsa, to realize the Path and its Fruition as an Arahat. There are other instances of sotāpānna being born and born again seven times in the human world to become Arahats in their last existence. Likewise, there are others who were born again and again in any of the celestial planes to become Arahats in their last existence. They, however, do not come under the category of sattakkhattuparama which name is applied only to those who go back and forth from one existence in the human world to another in one of the celestial planes during the tendency of their Arahatship.


It has been said that a sattakkhatuparama sotāpanna goes through seven existences before he attains Nibbāna. Here existence does not mean just one span of life in one plane of existence, for example, in the human world or in one of the worlds of devas or of Brahmās. If a man is born and reborn in this human world for a number of times successively, his existence is counted as one; and the same remarks apply to one born and reborn likewise in any abode other than the human abode. Dhammasaṅganī Mūla Ṭīkā says that for an anāgāmi existence is counted as one even though he may be born again and again in the five Pure Abodes of the realms of Form, rūpaloka, or in the four abodes of the formless realms, arūpaloka. That is to say, all his five births in Suddhavāsa, or his four births, in the formless realms, count as one existence. The seven existences of a sotāpanna and the two of a sakadāgāmi are also counted in like manner based not on the number of births and rebirths in one abode, but on the number of planes of existence a sotāpanna or a sakadāgāmi has traversed.


After the attainment of the knowledge of the Path a sotāpanna enjoys the fruits of that knowledge when he is said to be entranced to the Fruition of the Path which is a technical term that has been explained in Visuddhi Magga.

When a yogī meditates on the five aggregates of clinging, his mind becomes bent on cessation of those aggregates. Then he acquires udayabbaya knowledge about the dissolution of the khandhas, and as he continues meditating on them, insight knowledge blossoms forth in him stage by stage till he wins saṅkhāruppekkhā ñāṇa, knowledge of equanimity. It is not unusual for a well-practised yogī to arrive at this stage of wisdom after a couple of minutes meditation. When this intellectual progression gains momentum, he will be transported to the stage of peace where rūpa and nāma cease. That is his being entranced to the state of Fruition of the Path of a Sotāpanna to come within sight of Nibbāna. In his usual meditation he might have come to this stage for a space of two or three instants of his thought process; but when ecstatic meditation is achieved, he will be able to hang his thoughts on cessation or Nibbāna for more than two or three minutes, or for ten, twenty or thirty minutes, or even for an hour, depending on the strength acquired by Saṅkharupekkhā ñāṇa.


When Koṭṭhika thera asked Sāriputtarā about the dhamma that a Sotāpanna should recollect, the latter laid emphasis on meditation on the five aggregates of clinging as before. In this respect there is no distinction between an ordinary yogī and a Sotāpanna, both being urged to take up insight-meditation on the same lines suggested in my earlier discourses. A worldling unused to Vipassanā practice may be oppressed by Taṇhā diṭṭhi, wrong view prompted by craving. But a Sotāpanna can sever the bond of attachment to it. Albeit he may be oppressed with Taṇhā māna, conceit prompted by craving. As this conceit is allied with craving, it is also called Diṭṭhi māna. A man belabouring under this kind of conceit usually asserts, "I am. I can do. I know." This is called Asmi māna or self-conceit. After the group of five monks became Sotāpannas after hearing the Dhammacakka sermon, Buddha preached them Anattalakkhaṇā Sutta, the discourse on Not-self, because he would like them to get rid of self conceit born of the wrong view of ego-entity. I would urge all yogīs to practise insight-meditation continually till perfection is attained, for one's achievement is likely to fritter away without repeated exercises which can lead one to Saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa with the least effort. But he may find it rather difficult to cross the Rubicon for higher knowledge in the absence of right exertion.

If a yogī repeatedly and continually practises insight-meditation he will gain the knowledge of equanimity towards conditioned things which will lead him further to the realization of that stage when both mental formations that cause knowing and the known cease altogether. Here he enters the Path and its Fruition appertaining to a Sakadāgāmi, once-returner.

On entering the Path and its Fruition, a Sakadāgāmi is bound to reflect on cessation, on Kilesās that he has dispelled and on Kilesās that remain undissipated. But it is said that only those who are learned in the Law can look back into the defilements of the mind in retrospect.


With regard to this statement look at the case of Mahānāma, one of Buddha's cousins. Buddha's father Suddhodana had four younger brothers, namely, Sukkodana, Sakkodana, Dhotodana and Amitodana. Mahānāma and Anuruddha were the sons of Sukkodana, the former being older than Buddha while the latter was younger. Ānandā, also younger than Buddha, was the son of Amitodana.

Once Mahānāma asked Buddha: "I have long realized that greed, anger and delusion, always burning like fire, are the result of an impure mind. Although most of us are aware of this fact, it so happens that our wholesome mind is overwhelmed at times by them. Why should that be so?"

Mahānāma asked this question because it occurred to him that there might be other kilesās which a Sakadāgami could not get rid of although it was an accepted fact that Sakadāgāmi Path does annihilate the defilements of greed, anger and delusion.

Regarding this the Commentaries make the observation. It is quite natural for the Ariyā-disciples to entertain such doubts because they are not well-grounded in the knowledge of the Teaching. He may be wavering in his mind whether it is possible for a certain Path to annihilate a certain kind of Kilesā. No doubt he might have made a self-appraisal of himself using Paccavekkhaṇā ñāṇa. But his application of this knowledge may not be adequate. One Ariyā (Noble One) may examine within himself as to the presence or absence of Kilesā which he is trying to expel. Another may examine only as to how much of the defilements are still remaining within himself. Still another may be occupied with the examination of the realization of the Fruition or of Nibbāna. As such examinations do not cover all aspects, an Ariya, unskilled in the Teaching, may have doubts about it. He might have failed to reflect effectively on the kinds of impurities of the mind which he has succeeded in eradication and which he has not. Only those skilled in the dhammas can discriminate. Visuddhi Magga therefore says that there are some who make a self-appraisal of themselves in relation to whether kilesās are still lurking in them or not, and also some who do not.


A Sotāpanna is able to eradicate wrong views about individuality, doubts and false religious practices. He also rejects greed, anger and delusion. So he will never go down to woeful abodes hereafter. A Sakadāgāmi has not only severed the three bonds of wrong views etc., but also reduced to a minimum the passions of Rāga, lust and Byāpāda, malevolence. With worldlings these passions are not controllable, often arising violently. Because of this violent passion Ajātasattu murdered his father. Devadatta tried to assassinate Buddha when this vile passion was aroused. Normally a Sotāpanna rejects these passions; but he can hardly break himself loose from them completely until he is raised to the state of a Sakadāgāmi. But at this stage also he has to make further attempts at reduction of these undesirable passions in order that they get weakened. The Sakadāgāmi Path, says Dhammasangani, reduces the degree of intensity of Kāmarāga and Byāpada to a bare minimum. With Sakadāgāmis defilements do not recur frequently as with worldlings. Depraved human passions may arise at times, but they come severally, one here and one there, and unconspicuously, like seedlings sown sparsely in a nursery-bed. Even when they make their presence felt, they are neither oppressive nor pervasive nor overbearing. They can exert their influence only in a small way. In fact, they are so thin in volume that the commentaries employ the simile of a whiff of a vapour or a wing of a fly to describe it. So when a sakadāgāmi gets angry, his anger is hardly noticeable. When it comes to lust it is usual for critics to ask if he finds satisfaction of his desires by a mere touching of the body or by actual carnal knowledge. Sakadāgāmis do not, I think go to that length. But there are other points of view in this respect. Judging from the number of offsprings a Sakadāgāmi beget, some would like to presume that he is able to suppress for quite a good length of time and that, however, when they burst he is unable to stem the tide. Some would like to suggest that procreation is possible for a Sakadāgāmi by mere contact between the sense-basis and the sense-object. But this may not please Western science. Devas, however are known to have derived sensual pleasure out of contact between the sense-basis and the sense-object. But these are all asides. What is to he noted is that a Sakadāgāmi works for the reduction of human passions and that he is destined to come back once only to a plane of existence before he enters Nibbāna. For instance, a Sakadāgāmi of this human world may be reborn in the deva-world and come back again to his original world where he will become an Arahat. He comes back only once.


For a Sakadāgāmi to become an Anāgāmi the same principle that requires meditation on the five aggregates of clinging applies. But here concentration must be perfected just as morality is perfected in the case of a Sakadāgāmi. This, however, is not easy of achievement as is evident from the case of the brick monastery at Nātika village in Vesālī. Buddha personally enumerated the number of devotees there and discovered that more than 50 of them were Anāgāmis, more than 90 Sakadāgāmis and more than 500 Sotāpannas.

This proportion shows that it is hard to realize the state of an Anāgāmi. Incidentally, the population of Ariyās in the time of Buddha is most encouraging. Today it is rare to find yogīs seeing the light of the dhamma within two or three months after the practice of meditation. But when we actually have them among us some unholy persons would like to discredit them saying that it is too much for too many. This is unworthy of an Upasakā (devotee).


An Anāgāmi totally rejects lust and malevolence. Not for him are the five constituents of sensual pleasures, nor sex, nor such, sensual objects as form, sound, smell, taste and touch. Released from kāmarāga, lustfulness, he establishes himself in absolute happiness.


When the rich Ugga became an Anāgāmi at the time of Buddha, he called up his four wives and said: "I have now become a celibate observing the precept of Brahmacariya, noble conduct. You can live here in my house, if you please, enjoying all the wealth and comfort that it gives and doing meritorious deeds. Or, if you desire to get a new husband, please say so." The eldest of the wives said that she would take a new husband of her choice. Unruffled, Ugga sent for the man and wedded him to his erstwhile wife.


On his arrival at Rājagraha for the first time, Buddha was welcomed by king Bimbisāra. There he preached the dhamma to an audience of 120,000 among whom being Visākhā, the millionaire, who at once became a Sotāpanna. From then on the rich man frequented the monastery to listen to Buddha preach. Subsequently he was raised to the state of an Anāgāmi.

Rerunning home, the Anāgāmi was met as usual by his wife Dhammadinnā who at once noticed the change in her husband when the latter neglected her presence. At bed time the husband retired to another room to sleep there alone. After two or three nights the wife could contain herself no longer and demanded him to say either if he had found another mistress or if she had been unwisely. "Dhammadinnā", he explained, since I have had the advantage of becoming illumined by the dhamma, I cannot have a man-and-wife relationship with you. I own 40-crore worth of property and you own likewise. Now take both my portions and yours and be the lady of this house. But do look after me. I shall be content with what you nurture me. If you want to marry again, go back to your parent with all the property that you now possess and do so. If you want to remain here, just please yourself. I shall always regard you as my own sister, nay, as my own mother."

Then Dhammadinnā asked him if it would be possible for a woman to abide in the dhamma like all men. On being assured that it was quite possible, she, with her husband's permission, got herself ordained. She then became an Arahat in no time winning pre-eminence as the best preacher of the Law.

Visākhā's case is cited here to show that an Anāgāmi eradicates lustfulness in total.


            Years ago I came to know a woman in her late forties who took up insight-meditation. After she had realized the dhamma she developed a sense of ennui in relation to her home life with her husband. So she persuaded him to take her younger sister as his wife so that has could be free to lead a religious life. She came of an affluent family efficiently managing her household. Yet she wanted to renounce her all and succeeded in doing so.


Sense-objects comprise not only those that ordinarily sustain sensual pleasures called rāga but also those that satisfy one's tastes and comforts, like entertainments, soft bed, good food and other forms of luxurious living. Addiction to tobacco and betel is addiction to the sense of taste. One who has developed no attachment to liquor or opium should be able to eradicate the habit of smoking and betel-chewing.

An Anāgāmi is free from anger and malevolence. He is never beset with anxiety. He is never sad. He has no fear, no ill-will and no envy all of which he has discarded while in the state of a Sotāpanna. Nor is he troubled by remorse. When dosa, anger, is abandoned, all other passions subside.

An Anāgāmi is destined for the pure abodes of Suddhavāsa in the realm of form or for higher abodes in the formless realm. He never returns to the sphere of the senses; and so he is known as a non-returner.


When Sotāpannas and Anāgāmis reach the realm of form or formless realm they attain to the state of the higher Path and its Fruition and enter parinibbāna from the respective Realms. Such Ariyas are known as jhāna anāgāmis.

When a Sotāpanna established in the first jhāna dies and is reborn in the world of Brahmās, he can aspire to the state of a jhāna anāgāmi, as is shown in the case of Unnabha. One day he came to the monastery and listened to the sermon propounded by the Buddha. He at once became a Sotāpanna winning the first jhāna. Seeing this, Buddha said: "If Unnabha, who has just left the monastery, dies before reaching home, the bonds of Samyojānas which entangle him to this kāmaloka, sense-sphere, will be severed." Here note that the emphasis is on "Before reaching home." There is the possibility that if he reached home his jhāna might be disturbed by his home surroundings including his wife and family --- which are all sense-objects of pleasure. Before getting home he was abiding in the first Jhāna, and if he died in that state of Jhāna he would be transported to the world of Brahmas where he could aspire to the state of a Jhāna Anāgāmi. If he fails to become an Arahat in the plane of the first Jhāna, he would attain Arahatship in the plane of the second Jhāna and failing there he would do so in the plane of the third jhāna. Were that not possible, he would become an Arahat at Vehapphala abode in the world of Brahmas.

There are also other categories of Anāgāmi. Usually he is reborn in Suddhavāsa which has five abodes of which Avihā is the lowest one. If an Anāgāmi fails to become an Arahat in that abode, he can go up to the next higher one called Atappa where he can also become an Arahat. Failing there, he goes up to Sudassa, or to Sudassī the next, or to Akaniṭṭha ultimately where his Arahatship is assured. Such an Anāgāmi who has to go through all these stages is known as Uddhamsota akaniṭṭhagāmi anāgāmi, that is, an Anāgāmi who ascends the abodes of existence in regular succession till he reaches Akaniṭṭha where he lives out his term to become an Arahat and enter Nibbāna. He goes through all these existences five times but they are all counted as one as they are in the same plane.

May you all who have listened to this discourse attain the Path and its Fruition by virtue of your insight-meditation on the five aggregates of clinging and finally get to Nibbāna.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 7


            (Delivered on the 8th. Waning of Wagaung and the Full Moon day of Tawthalin, 1329 M.E.)

Having dealt with success achieved by Anāgāmis in dissipating their passions of Kāmarāga, lust, and Byāpāda, ill-will, I shall now discuss some of the Kilesās, defilements of the mind, that still remain lurking in the inner self of an Anāgāmi.


An Anāgāmi is incapable of breaking the chains of (1) Rūpa-rāga, covetousness for the world of Brahmas in the realms of form, (2) Arūpa-rāga, covetousness for the world of Brahmas in the formless realms, (3) Māna, pride or conceit, (4) Uddhacca, mental distraction and (5) Avijjā, ignorance or delusion.

That an Anāgāmi comes into being in the world of Brahmās in the realm of form or formless realms is enough proof that he has not yet been able to get rid of covetousness for the life of a Brahma in these realms. So I will not elaborate on this subject. But Māna may need explanation. It is of two kinds. Avāthava and Vāthava, the first being pure conceit that rankles the soul of a backward individual who likes to measure himself up to those superior to him (as in the case of a sinner having the effrontery to consider himself a saint); while the second relates to the pride of satisfaction of one who considers himself as equal to others of his own kind (as in the case of a man of religion who likes to think himself as pious as any other fellow devotees.) Both kinds of conceit go under the category of Asmi māna which I have explained before. This Māna relishes the idea: "I know. I can. I am above others."


Asmi māna was once the subject of discussion between the sixty elder monks and Ashin Khemaka, an Anāgāmi, on the question of Arahatship. The latter told them through their intermediary, Dasaka, that he could not discover atta-self, or its attributes in any of the upādānakkhandhās, aggregates of clinging. The elders then concluded that he had become an Arahat and asked him if he was. This called for further elucidation and so he said, "I cannot as yet own myself an Arahat, but I have the notion that I am still in the realm of the five aggregates of clinging (asmīti adhigatam), although I would hesitate to say that this particular thing is 'I'. Then the elders again enquired, "Does I exist in feeling, or perception, or mental formations or consciousness?"


This drove Ashin Khemaka to the presence of the elders so that he could offer a personal explanation which runs as follows-

"Brothers! I cannot say I am matter; nor can I say I am feeling or perception or mental formation: or consciousness or any other beyond the five aggregates. But there still clings to me the notion that I am still in the realm of the five aggregates. But at the same time I cannot say, "This is I."

Ashin Khemaka did not consider any one of the upādānakkhandhās as asmī in the conventional sense. This term suggests that he thought, "I know. I can. I am great." This is self-conceit which grows out of the accomplishment of virtue that he had truly achieved. Consider the fragrance of a water-lily. Does it originate from its stem? From its petals? From its anothers? One can say only conventionally that it emanates from the lily, but one cannot find any rūpa matter that produces fragrance. The notion of asmī is there; but I cannot say, "This is I".

Ashin Khemaka then continued, "An Ariya (the Noble One) destroys the bonds of individuality, doubts, false religious practices, lust and animosity. But at this stage he cannot break away from asmī māna, asmī chanda and anusaya māna. They are subtle kinds of attachment to self, desire for self and inclination toward self. If, however the Ariyan disciple notes with mindfulness the arising and passing away of the five aggregates of clinging, such subtle passions will subside.

"Consider this metaphor of a washerwoman. She washes clothes with soap and water and they become clean-white. Still they smell of soap. Only when they are kept in a scented box they lose their odour. If one continually meditates on the five aggregates of clinging, all these subtle passions will be washed away clean and one can remain without any vestiges of such passions.

Hearing this elucidation all the sixty elders became Arahats.


An Anāgāmi is usually held to be accomplished in samādhi, concentration. Distraction of mind therefore hardly troubles him although it is possible that it may be present in a subtle form.

With an Anāgāmi ignorance may not be very extensive. Delusions, however, may work on him. When he wrongly perceives that the realm of form or formless realm can give him eternal happiness he is said to be deluded by saññāvipallāsa; and when he wrongly realizes that those two realms are the seat of eternal happiness, he is said to be deluded by cittavipallāsa.

When an Anāgāmi practises insight-meditation as repeatedly urged by Sāriputtrā he attains to Arahatship. But here one must be wary when one gains saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa in the course of one's meditation. It can so happen that an Anāgāmi, at this stage of insight knowledge, becomes too much enamoured of it that he becomes partial to dhammarāga or dhammanadi, fondness for the dhamma which, in fact, is akin to craving. If he can override it with the acquisition of anuloma and gotrabhū ñāṇa, he can finally realize the goal of Nibbāna.


            Although a yogī fails to reach the state of Fruition of Arahatta Path because he has too much penchant for concentration as well as meditation, he may be destined for the world of Brahmās in both realms for it is no longer possible for him, now that he is an Anāgāmi, to get to the sensual world. This is mentioned in the Jhāna Sutta of Nava Nipāta in Aṅguttara Nikāya. A practising yogī must, therefore, be careful to avoid undue attachment to his exercises in concentration for they can award only the state of Anāgāmi, Samatha is only a basic jhāna, while Vipassanā is the highest stage of wisdom as, for instance, in the case of saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa, In this Sīlavanta Sutta, therefore we are more concerned with insight-meditation than with concentration. Hence be it noted that undue attachment to saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa, when one can look upon mental formations with equanimity of mind, hampers the meditating yogī's progress to the Path and its Fruition of an Arahat. Anuloma and Gotrabhū ñāṇa, knowledge of adaptation and supreme wisdom leading to the Path and its Fruition, are far more felicitous than the knowledge of equanimity. But there will be no opportunity for a meditator to get attached to them for they get developed with the greatest velocity. So when dhammarāga or dhammanadi arises, note its arising and reject it.


When his goal has been achieved, an Arahat looks back in retrospect to examine within himself about his attainments. This is an exercise in reflective knowledge. As he reflects, he is aware of the cessation of upādānakkhandhās and saṅkhāras. Reflection on these two states is reflection on the Path and its Fruition on the one hand and Nibbāna on the other. He also reflects on the total and final termination of his rebirths in the following manner.

            With me new "becoming" is now exhausted. I now abide in the noble conduct of Brahmacariya. I have done what is to be done; and nothing remains to be done.

It is also a reflection on Kilesās that have been totally uprooted. I would like to recall you to mind that fishermen who, discovering that he had grappled a poisonous snake in his hand instead of a fish, flung it away, and yet looked back as he ran away from it. Here reflection on cessation as it takes place is reflection on Fruition, and that on Saṅkhāra is reflection on Nibbāna.

Reflection on the Path, its Fruition Nibbāna and uprooted Kilesās constitutes four Paccavekkhaṇās (self-examination) for an Arahat. Since no Kilesās can reside in him it would appear that it is superfluous for him to reflect on those that remain unextinguished. But it is imperative for the three lower stages of Anāgāmi, Sakadāgāmi and Sotāpanna to look within themselves the presence of Kilesās that might have been lurking in him in case they have not been discarded. There are five Paccavekkhaṇās for each of these Ariyas. Now there are 15 for them which may be added to the four for the Arahat, making a total of 19. At this final stage all these 19 categories of self-appraisal are also carried out, so says the Commentaries.

I am going into all these details just for your information. For a layman to become an Arahat is not easy. In fact it was never easy in the time of the Buddha, there being only a few cases of such an instance as in the cases of King Suddhodana and Minister Santati.


Once Buddha asked Sāriputtrā about the power of strength possessed by a bhikkhu who is able to declare himself that Āsavas, depravities of the mind, have become extinguished in him. The Mahā Thera then described the ten kinds of strength as related in Khināsavabāla sutta as follows:

In the realm of this Sāsanā, Reverend Sir, there are bhikkhus who, having declared themselves to be free from all āsavas, gain possession of ten kinds of strength.

A bhikkhu in whom āsavas have become extinct, comes to the realization correctly through Vipassanā wisdom that all Saṅkhāras are impermanent. An Āsava-free Arahat possesses that strength of conviction of this law of Anicca.

It means that the strength of an Arahat lies in his firm conviction in the impermanency of Rūpa, matter, Nāma, mind and Saṅkhāra mental formations or volitional activity. Besides an Arahat no other Ariyas gain this knowledge perfectly and well. It is conceded that even ordinary worldlings can realize this knowledge if they meditate strongly to cultivate Bhaṅgañāṇa; but with them this knowledge will be only transitory, lasting for the moment of its revelation. As soon as they forget to resume meditation after the blooming of the knowledge, their conviction in the law of Anicca sags. With a Sotāpanna it is different. He is described in Visuddhi Magga as one who has discarded the three deviational tendencies Saññāvipallāsa, inconsistency in perception; Cittavipallāsa, inconsistency in mind and Diṭṭhivipallāsa, inconsistency in views. From this it can be adduced that he is incapable of deflecting from the view of Anicca. Even then, however, he is not free from Asmi māṇa, conceit derived from the view of the existence of 'I'. It is because of this that once Buddha had the occasion to chasten Ashin Meghika.

In order to uproot conceit which asserts, "I am. I know," one should cultivate the practice of reflecting on impermanency, Meghika! One who recollects Anicca all the time becomes established in the knowledge that all is not self. Once this idea of unsubstantiality gets firmly rooted, Asmi māna will be eradicated, and Nibbāna, where all sufferings cease, will be drawn nearer to one in one's present existence.

In fact, Māna is unstable, uppish now and debased the next moment. It dominates in one who thinks that all things are permanent and eternal. But it meets its fall when that one realizes that one day one will have to face death unable to retain immortality. So when one meditates on Anicca one can never be possessed by this Māna. Commentaries say that once Anicca is appreciated, Dukkha and Anatta will also be realized. If one recognizes only one characteristic of the three marks one may be deemed to have known all.

That a Sotāpanna rejects Diṭṭhivipallāsa is quite evident. But I think when we come to Saññā-and Citta-vipallāsa, we can only say that he develops no attachment to things as he was wont to when he was a worldling. It may not stand to reason to say that he is aware of Anicca all the time like an Arahat. If he really is, there can be no opportunity for māna to rear its head. With Arahats asmi māna becomes totally extinguished. He has no rāga or desire for either the realm of form or formless realm. So we say, "Aniccato suddhiṭṭha," in relation to an Arahat. It means knowing anicca well." That is why he can boldly proclaim to the world that he is freed of all depravities like kāmāsava, attachment to sensual pleasure, diṭṭhasavā, attachment to erroneous views and diṭṭhamāna, conceit arising out of erroneous views, already explained as asmi māna. The strength of an Arahat lies in his perspicacity in the view that all saṅkhāras are subject to anicca, dukkha and anatta.


Sāriputtarā continued with the exposition of the second strength of an Arahat.

Reverend Sir! When a Bhikkhu in whom āsavas have been rendered extinct realizes truly and well through the exercise of Vipassanā wisdom that all the five constituents of sensual pleasures are verily like live coals, he may be regarded as possessing the strength of an Arahat and he may duly proclaim himself to be so.

The five constituents of sensual pleasures are generated by visible objects, sound objects, smell objects, taste objects and tangible objects. These varieties of objects relate to men and women, sights and sounds, foods, dress, bed and home, beasts of burden and vehicles and gold, silver and precious stones. They all give rise to kilesās that burn like fire. The flames of greed, anxiety and envy cause untold miseries, leading one to woeful existences, or throwing one into the whirlpool of saṃsarā, rounds of suffering. The trouble starts the moment a man falls in love with a woman. He goes at great length to be near her and finally to possess her. The story does not end there. When he possesses her he becomes worried lest he loses her to his rivals. He also acquires wealth by all means, fair or foul, and when he has accumulated it, he becomes troubled by anxiety and fear lest he should lose it. Here if he gets what he wants through vice and lawlessness, he shall go down to the nether worlds in recompense.

What we treasure as pleasure is trash to Arahats. One man's food is another man' poison. Cattle consider grass as appetizing, but cattle-feed is all chaff of the humans. Pigs, poultry and insects wallow in filth and garbage considered as detestable by men. Toys give delight to children but not to grown-ups. Tobacco has a delightful flavour for smokers but non-smokers consider it as nauseating. Intoxicants and narcotics are pleasurable to addicts but obnoxious and harmful to teetotalers. Entertainments and pwes provide fun for those who like them for enjoyment, but prove wearisome to sober people who regard them as time-wasting and causing loss of sleep. All such sensual pleasures are deemed unprofitable and useless by the Arahats.

Those who have a predilection for the five constituent or formless realms where they cannot expect them. In the formless realm nāma, mind, alone is extant. Arūpa denotes the presence of both citta, consciousness and cetasika, mental properties. Rūpa, matter, however, is totally absent there. Those hankering after the pleasures of the senses will therefore be unable to enjoy seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Brahmās thrive in thinking and ideation which do not meet their demands of pleasure-seekers.

In the realm of forms there may be vestiges of sense-organs like eyes, ears, etc., but their pasādas, sensitive qualities, are missing. So the Brahmās in that realm are denied the enjoyment of sights, sounds, smell and taste and touch. They are also sexless. So pleasure-seekers have no desire to go to the world of Brahmās in that realm of forms also. They prefer not to practise wholesome actions that can result in jhāna. They take pleasure only in the quality of the senses. Their kamma result will be that they can sojourn only in the world of senses to suffer old age, disease and death time and again. For them Nibbāna is the least to be desired. So they have no mind to practise insight-meditation. The result is that they cannot get liberated from the rounds of suffering. After all, these five constituents of sensual pleasure are verily like live coals or burning fire-wood. Anyone who proclaims himself to be freed of all āsavas should examine himself whether he has succeeded in getting rid of all the five kāmaguṇnas.

Some still develop attachment to the kāmaguna of smoking and betel-chewing. Some like good food and clothing. Some have a partiality for soft and comfortable bed. Such people should well consider if they can claim to have gotten rid of kāmāsava.

In 700 Buddhist Era there reigned in Sinhala, the present Srī Lankā, a king by the name of Vasabha, who put a so-called Arahat to an acid test. Inviting the pretender to an offering, he took a very delicious drink of plum cordial himself. This made the monk's mouth water. Then he let it be known that the so-called Arahat was no Arahat at all. "A true Arahat," says the commentary, "who has eradicated all āsavas in him, does not develop rasā-taṇhā, attachment to taste. He takes no enjoyment even in such delicious tastes that can be met with in the world of devas.


Continuing, Sāriputtarā said:

Again, Reverend Sir, there is the Bhikkhu who, having extinguished āsavas in him, inclines to, abides in and enjoys the seclusion of Nibbāna, the end of suffering, happy in his renunciation of the sensual world, remaining entirely aloof from all kilesās that accompany āsavas. This inclination towards the seclusion of Nibbāna is also the strength of a Bhikkhu freed of all āsavas, and he may duly proclaim himself to be so freed.

An Arahat inclined to Nibbāna enjoys being entranced in the Fruition of the Path. Buddha used to remain so entranced during the intervals of his preaching when his audience was expressing their joy of satisfaction with the dhamma by saying, "Sādhu!". It is on record that Ashin Revata used to remain entranced in mettā jhāna, absorption in loving-kindness, while the second Buddhist Council was going on.

Very few, however, can bend their minds on Nibbāna where rūpa, nāma and saṅkhāra are all absent. Most are not responsive to the idea of extinction of mind and matter. So there is a kind of wishful thinking among them that Buddhas and Arahats who have entered Parinibbāna reside in Nibbāna with their special elements of nāma and rūpa. True Arahats, however, exclude all substrata of existence from Nibbāna. They have no desire for a life accompanied by its accessories of nāma and rūpa.

Nābhinandami maraṇaṃ, nābhinandami jīvitam; Kālañca patikaṅkhami, nibbisam bhātake yathā.

An Arahat desires neither death nor life. He is biding his time for his Parinibbāna just as a daily wage-earner bides his time for his wages due to him.

I have translated "nekkhamabhiratam" "happy in his renunciation of the sensual world," which suggests that a monk is happy in his own monkshood. But nekkhama is also a term for Nibbāna; and so it would be all the more appropriate to substitute Nibbāna for renunciation, for, in Nibbāna there are no depravities relating to the sensual world, or to rebirth or to false views. The inclination to Nibbāna is therefore the strength of an Arahat.


There are 37 factors of enlightenment called Bodhipakkhiyadhamma, grouped in seven, namely, (1) the four Satipaṭṭhānas (2) the four Sammāpaddhānas (3) the four Iddhipādas (4) the five Indriyas (5) the five Balas (6) the seven Bojjhaṅgas and (7) the Aṭṭhaṅga Ariya Maggas or the Noble Eightfold Path. These factors also constitute the strength of an Arahat, and so they are now shown as the fourth strength.

Relating to this, Sāriputtarā continued:

And again, Reverend Sir, there is the Bhikkhu who, having extinguished āsavas, cultivates the four Satipaṭṭhānas and cultivates them well. This cultivation of mind-culture is also the strength of an Arahat in whom all āsavas have become extinct. He may therefore proclaim himself as having extinguished all āsavas in him.

The four Satipaṭṭānas are mindfulness as regards the physical body, as regards feelings, as regards thoughts and as regards dhamma. I do not propose to go into details on this subject. Suffice it to say that the cultivation of mindfulness or the practice of mental culture is very important for an Arahat.

When does an Arahat cultivate or develop mindfulness? With him meditation began from the time when he was a mere worldling with a view to becoming a Sotāpanna. And again when he became a Sotāpanna he continued in the practise of meditation with a mind bent on becoming a Sakadāgāmi; and when he became a Sakadāgāmi he also continued the practice aspiring to the state of an Anāgāmi; and when he became an Anāgāmi he did the same with a mind inclined to Arahatship. So it must be taken that an Arahat has been engaged in mental culture throughout since the time when he was just an ordinary worldling in Sāla Sutta of Saṃyutta Nikāya Buddha enjoined his disciples to practice meditation the moment they joined the Order.


Buddha has said:

Bhikkhus! Monks who have been just ordained are just freshmen to my domain of Dhammavinaya (the Law and the Discipline). It is but meet, O Bhikkhus, that you, the elders and seniors guide them to the practice of the cultivation of the four categories of mindfulness, set them up there, instill in them the habit (of meditating) and let them stand firm on it.

Just as now, in those days when Buddha was living, new converts had to be ordained. They accepted the teaching out of their own conviction. Buddha foresaw the need for proffering good advice to them so that they realized the dhamma; and that advice was for them to practise Satipaṭṭhāna. In those days I think we should be concerned not only with the newly-converted but also with new monks who were born Buddhists. Such newly-ordained monks are innocent, with morality undefiled. They are strong in their faith and full of enthusiasm. Thus they are placed in a good situation for the realization of the dhamma, and if this realization is accomplished their morality will become unassailed and pure throughout their career as monks. Even if that ideal is not achievable, it is definite that it will teach them self-control.

How then should they practise Satipaṭṭhāna? Here is the instruction.

Come, new friends! To enable yourself to know the nature of your physical body truly and well, practise mindfulness on your own body.

Then, having zealously exerted yourself to that end, you stand established in right understanding in concentration on one sense-object, in perspicuity, in steadfastness and in one-pointedness of mind.

All Rūpa, matter, is impermanent, unsatisfactory and unsubstantial. What is more, it is Asubha, repulsive like a corpse. Yogī should meditate on such characteristics with the greatest effort exercising the power of concentration coupled with wisdom. Here effort and steadfastness of mind are emphasized. A yogī's attention must remain steadfastly attached to the objects of mind and body on which he meditates.

If you practise Anāpāna, mindfulness on breathing, note the phenomenon each time you breathe in or out. As you concentrate your mind on breathing, it will be rendered pure and tranquil. From the point of view of insight-meditation there can be no doubt about it that this breathing exercise will lead one to the knowledge of realities regarding the arising and dissolution of conditioned things. If one meditates on the hair of the head and of the body, the same purpose can be served.

If you start practising with noting the postures, note the lifting, the stretching and the putting down of the leg as you walk. Keep your mind on each phenomenon. When standing, concentrate your mind on standing, and when sitting do it likewise with sitting. If you practise mindfulness on the rise and fall of your belly or chest, keep your mind on each of the phenomena, noting that your belly or chest is rising or falling. You will achieve clarity of mind. You will find that the noting mind and the noted object remain steadfast together in couples.

Consciousness retains constancy; and so the consciousness that has gone before appears to be the same as that has followed. Later you will come to realize that the subject that you are noting is Rūpa, and that your mind that takes note of it is Nāma, and that the one is the cause and the other the effect, and that ultimately both dissolve together. This is impermanence. What is impermanent is unsatisfactory, to be regarded as suffering. All these Dhammas reveal by themselves. They take place without any agency motivating them. They are therefore uncontrollable or ungovernable. They have the characteristic of unsubstantiality. It in this way that the three marks of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta reveal themselves to the meditating yogī.

It is in this manner cited that Buddha exhorted young and newly ordained monks to practise Satipaṭṭhāna, especially one of its constituents, Kāyānupassanā, mindfulness of the physical body. Since there are many methods in Satipaṭṭhāna, he can take up any one that suits him and practise; but he should not remain an imbecile. If one who does not practise the Dhamma and is brazen enough to pass strictures on those who do, one may be held to be accumulating unwholesome actions and defying Buddha.

Buddha also exhorted his disciples to meditate on Vedanā, feeling, which is called Vedanānupassanā in the following words.

Be ye established in the practice of meditating on Vedanā with a view to know its nature truly and well.


Vedanā, feeling, is threefold: pain, pleasure and indifference. When you feel tired and uncomfortable you should note these phenomena with mindfulness as Dukkha vedanā, misery, or pain. When you feel depressed meditate on the depression. When you feel happy and joyous, note this state of mind as Sukha vedanā, pleasurable feeling. There is another kind of feeling which is neither pain nor pleasure. This indifferent state of mind is called Upekkhā vedanā, arising out of Citta, mind, and Cetasika, its concomitant, which looks upon such wholesome or unwholesome mental activities as Lobha, greed, Saddhā, faith and Sati, mindfulness with equanimity. This lack of emotion is not easily palpable, but one must note it also.

Regarding this, however, there is a point of view championed by a few who maintain that only Upekkhā needs be meditated upon to the exclusion of the other two categories of feeling. This view is purely heretical, for Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta clearly states that Sukha vedanā is also a subject for meditation. Salāyatana Sutta of Saṃyutta Nikāya is also explicit on this subject exhorting the yogī to meditate on Sukha, Dukkha and Adukkhamasukha, which is neither in the realm of pain nor of pleasure. Mūlapaṇṇāsa also enjoins the yogī to observe Sukha, Dukkha and Anatta. The suggestion to meditate only on indifference in the practice of Vipassanā is therefore a deviation from Buddha's teaching.

In point of fact all that arise in the six sense-doors appertain to Upādānakkhandhā which must be noted with mindfulness. They encompass the threefold Vedanā. If you are unmindful of the arising of Dukkha vedanā, inclination to anger called Patighānusaya will be brought into play. In the same way if Sukha vedanā is neglected, inclination to lust or Rāganusaya will be aroused. Meditation on both these states of mind can bring an end to such Anusayas inclinations to defilements of the mind.

Here let me relate to you my personal experience. Once I was bitten by a scorpion. For about one whole week I suffered excruciating pain. I concentrated my mind on it saying, "painful, painful!" This weakened the sense of pain, dispelling all inclinations to rage. I then noticed that the sense of pain did not show itself in a continuous tempo. It had its intervals between the arising and passing away. It appeared to me that when one painful sensation passed out, another new one followed, giving me the impression of Anicca. So I think my aphorism, "Note Vedanā to know its true nature" is appropriate.


Satipaṭṭāna sutta prescribes Cittānupassanā, meditation on mind.

To know the true nature of the mind, meditate on it.

An example of this kind of meditation is also given there. It says, "when the mind arises together with rāga, lust, know that it arises with rāga."

Mind is free. It wanders where it wills. It cannot be deterred. It cannot be harassed. It cannot be governed. This is true for all worldlings who take delight in this nature of the wandering mind. They would rather keep it as it is; and as they do, greed and anger come to the fore. Now if one tolerates them and does things at their dictates, one may get inclined to criminal actions which pave the way to woeful abodes or nether worlds. So the mind needs be duly bridled. When you keep watch on its activities you will come to know when it develops craving for desire! and when you note that craving as craving, the undesirable propensities to snatch, grab and possess things will disappear.

I am saying this on the authority of the Abhidhammā. But when we put the theory of meditation to actual practice, we cannot be occupying ourselves all the time with analyzing the mind into its properties, We simply take note of greed as it arises! and as soon as we recognize it, it subsides, leaving only the wholesome actions of knowing and noting it. Such actions belong to vītarāga citta, dispassion, which also must be noted by the meditator. This method of observation or Vipassanā can be applied to the uprising of anger, doubt and other similar emotions. But it is not easy to watch the mind, in this case, consciousness, and gain insight. Observing rūpa may not raise any problem, for it is capable of making impressions on the meditator's mind. So we recommend the noting of the rise and fall of the belly. You may feel asserting itself as you are meditating on the rise and fall of your belly. Then note the greed. As soon as you are aware of its uprising it will subside. If you can do this repeat doing it two or three times or more till it finally disappears.

I am talking about mind and its ideation which you should note. But there are many physical activities, besides mental, for instance, tiredness, discomfort due to oppressive heat and the like. When you note them, your mind may have the occasion to hop from one sense-object to another. Then the question arises whether that does not amount to mind-wandering. Those who are not acquainted with the nature of samādhi in Vipassanā may take it for distraction. But insight-knowledge does not mean the mind dwelling only on one dhamma. "Sabbam parinneyyam", says the scripture, and it means all the dhammas or activities must be observed. A meditating yogī must, therefore, practise in such a way that he makes himself aware of all that happen at the six sense-doors. Samādhi must be established on the sense-object that appears, now here, now there, for the duration of that appearance. The mind following the sense-object may not be taken as disruption of samādhi, which adheres to the object noted every time that object becomes noticeable. Concentration establishes itself on the object irrespective of the latter's changeability. And it is because of this nature that one can gain knowledge about anicca, impermanence, in the exercise of samādhi.


Sāriputtarā also urges the meditator to meditate on the dhammas.

To know the true nature of the dhammas, meditate on them.

The dhammas are those that manifest themselves to us as nature beyond what we know as matter (physical body), feeling and ideation. The state of mind like anger, desire, awareness of the image seen, etc., is dhamma. So kāya, vedanā and citta are dhammas which should be noted with mindfulness so that one gains the knowledge that they constitute nothing but rūpa and nāma, one being the cause while the other is the effect, always arising and dissolving, subject to the three marks of anicca, dukkha and anatta, neither controllable nor governable.

Here I would like to advise the yogī to pause and consider if he can see the realities of the phenomenal world by mainly learning nāma, rūpa and paticcasamuppāda by rote. Insight meditation does not depend on book-knowledge, but on actual practice of mindfulness on the phenomenon every time it arises.


Sekkhas are those who are undergoing training in the dhamma. They are also required to practise Satipaṭṭāna.

To know the true nature of the physical body (as being subject to anicca) meditate on it and abide in the knowledge.

Sekkhas can meditate till they realize the path of an Arahat.

This does not abrogate asekkhas who have been trained and rewarded with Arahatship from practising mindfulness.


This is what Buddha said to his disciples.

O Bhikkhus! Those who have become Arahats have eradicated āsavas, fulfilled their duties (of Arahatship), done all there is to be done, laid down the burden (of the khandhas), realized the benefits (of the Fruition of the Path), destroyed the bounds of existence and got emancipated through right knowledge. Such Bhikkhus remain firm in great exertion, in right understanding, in concentration consistently on one sense-object, in perspicuity, in steadfastness and in one-pointedness of mind, detached from the concept of a physical body.

            Arahat therefore continue to practise Satipaṭṭāna even after their attainment to Arahatship.


In Sāla sutta Buddha points out that newly-ordained monks Ariyas under training in the Law and Arahats practise the four Satipaṭṭānas. In this Sīlavanta Sutta it has been proposed that worldlings as well as Sotāpannas. Sakadāgāmis, Anāgāmis and Arahats should meditate on Upādānakkhandhās, the aggregates of clinging. Both Suttas are in agreement on this subject. The practice of Satipaṭṭāna or mindfulness aims at Sammā sati, right mindfulness, with the Eightfold Noble Path as its objective. Meditation on the aggregates of clinging also leads one to the Noble Path. So, Satipaṭṭāna and meditation on Upādānakkhandhās are synonymous, one complementing the other. The objectives of the four Satipaṭṭānas are Kāya, Vedanā, Citta and Dhamma. They constitute Upādānakkhandhās. Kāya denotes clinging to matter, Vedanā to feeling, Citta to consciousness and Dhamma to perception, mental formations and others relating to the phenomenon of clinging. The meditating yogī must therefore bear in mind that meditating on Upādānakkhandhās and practising Satipaṭṭāna are the only two methods by which he can aspire to Nibbāna.

But here it may be asked whether Kammaṭṭhāna-meditation exercises are not relevant. There are such exercises as those in concentration on the virtues of Buddha, Buddhānussati, which lend themselves to Samatha, which is only basic. Without Vipassanā it cannot contribute to the realization of the Path and its Fruition. All obstructions to higher stages of wisdom that lead to Nibbāna are called Nīvaraṇas which can be dispelled with the cultivation of Samatha. At the moment when it sweeps away all Nivaranas, Vipassanā, insight-knowledge must be resorted to with meditation on Nāma-rūpa with reference to the three marks of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta, so that reality is known. Then only one can arrive at the Path and its Fruition.

As an Arahat is always mindful in all the four ways of Satipaṭṭāna, he is never uncouth and ill-mannered nor imprudent in speech as in the case of ordinary folks in the habit of talking trash throwing up their hands. His mind is always alert and observant. As he is all the time mindful of Vedanā there is no occasion for him to grumble about discomfort or to hunt for comfort. This mindfulness being his strength he is able to proclaim himself as devoid of all Āsavas.

To sum up, I would like to emphasize the point that an Arahat also meditates on the five aggregates of clinging like Anāgāmis, Sakadāgāmis and Sotāpannas.

May this audience be happy in mind and sound in body, able to meditate in the five aggregates of clinging, being mindful in Kāya, Vedanā, Citta and Dhamma so that they can aspire to Nibbāna after the realization of the Path and its Fruition.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 8


(Delivered on the 8th. Waxing and the Full Moon of Thadingyut, 1329 M.E.)

In my previous lectures I have spoken about the four categories of the strength of Arahats. I now propose to deal with the others.

An Arahat, as you might have known, also meditates, like all other Ariyas, Noble Ones, on the five aggregates of clinging. Now what benefits can accrue to an accomplished man of sanctity from meditation.? Can he hope to become a Pacceka-buddha, non-preaching Buddha, or a Sammāsambuddha, Supreme Buddha? According to Theravāda Arahatship is the highest state of holiness. He has exterminated a all depravities of the mind called Āsavas and is due for Nibbāna, the end of suffering. Indeed he has done all there is to be done, leaving nothing undone. An aspirant to the state of Paccekabuddha has to pray for it before a Supreme Buddha whom he happens to encounter in any one of his existences. But at times it may so happen that he is born into a Suñña kappa, world of nothing, where no Buddhas appear. In such an exceptional case, he may perfect himself to become a Puccekabuddha by his own inherent efforts. To become a Sammāsambuddha, however, is extremely difficult and arduous. Myriads of Suñña kappas usually precede the rise of Buddha-worlds. In Sārakappa only one Buddha appears, in Mandakappa, two Buddhas, in Varakappa three Buddhas, in Saramandakappā four Buddhas and in Bhaddakappa (which is our world) five Buddhas, namely, Kakusandha, Konāgamaṇa, Kassapa (Buddhas of the past), Gotama (Buddha of this era) and Arimetteyya (Buddha of the future). Millions and millions of Kappās pass by without any Buddha appearing, and once in a long, long while, one or two or three or four or five may appear. Sammāsambuddhas of whom Gotama Buddha is one, attain enlightenment, out of their own exertions in the discovery of the Four Noble Truths without the guidance of any mentor. Buddhās, Paccekabuddhas and Arahat--all enter Parinibbāna in the same manner.

But Mahāyanists say that it is not enough for an individual to become a Paccekabuddha or an Arahat. Every man must wish and pray for Buddhahood; and when he has become a Buddha he should not enter Nibbāna all at once before all sentient beings on earth have become Buddhas. According to this belief all creatures should go together to Nibbāna in the final moment. To my mind this is making a difficult task more difficult; for, how shall we manage to wait for others to come with us to Nibbāna? This belief is the most untenable. According to learned authorities, it was not yet current at the time of the third Buddhist Council held in 230 Buddhist era.

Parinibbāna means cessation of the khandhās-and therefore of 'becoming'-on the extermination of all the forces of kamma, action, kilesā, defilements through the potency of the Path and its Fruition. On their demise all Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas and the Arahats enter this state of cessation. Why is there the necessity for anyone to wait for the other to reach the ultimate together? When an Ariya has entered Parinibbāna, he is deemed to have accomplished all there is to be accomplished leaving nothing undone.


Sāriputtarā said:

Natthi khvāvuso arahato uttari karāniyam, katassa vā paticayo; api ca ime dhamma bhāvita bahulikatā diṭṭhadhamma sukhavihāraya ceva samvuttanti sati sampajaññaya ca.

For Arahats, friend Koṭṭhika, there is nothing more to be done; and so he needs not repeat what he has practised. Albeit, if he chooses to practise and develop the dhammas of reflecting on upādānekkhandhās repeatedly, he will be rewarded with happiness in his present life with the establishment of mindfulness.


Benefits accruing to Arahats from the practice of insight-meditation are the establishment of happiness and mindfulness. At the Anāgāmi stage, domanassa, melancholy, has been dispelled; and therefore an Arahat experiences no sadness or sorrow when confronted with undesirable sense-objects. Meditating on the aggregates of clinging makes him happier than when he remains negligent and unmindful. A man fond of reading feels happier when he has something to read than when he has none. Of course those who do not love reading might feel irksome to read. In the same way those who are not used to meditating might feel it burdensome to practise Vipassanā. Just consider your home when you have to do your daily chores and the monastery where you can meditate. Which gives you happiness and peace of mind?

Well-disciplined in the task, Arahats feel happy about Vipassanā. It is true that they are also liable to experience physical discomforts such as pain and tiredness like any other worldling; but since they are constantly aware of them all inconveniences wear away with them. In fact when Vipassanā is well developed no tiredness can arise. Our yogīs know this by experience. Those who are suffering from minor ailments like colds feel that they subside as their minds dwell on saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa, knowledge of equanimity. After one or two hours of meditation such ailments disappear. Some even maintain that serious ailments wither away during meditation.

There are many instances cited in the scriptures of Vipassanā healing pain and disease. Mahākassapa Thera recovered from his illness as he listened attentively to Buddha preaching bojjhaṅgas, supreme knowledge leading to enlightenment. Buddha himself averted death by an intensive practice of Vipassanā as he became afflicted with a very serious ailment while he was spending his last vassa in the village of Veluva.


When an Arahat is constantly mindful in the practice of Vipassanā, he can get entranced at will in the Fruition to the Path. In Uparipaṇṇāsa Aṭṭhakathā it has been shown that there are two kind of Arahats who have freed themselves of all āsavas, namely, those who continue Vipassanā, after becoming Arahats and those who do not. The former can get entranced in the Fruition the moment they have got up from their daily round of monastic duties, while the latter cannot do so even though they may be engrossed only in light tasks.

Once an elder monk put up together with a sāmaṇera, novice in a village monastery which had accommodation for only one person. The former was rather worried as his disciple had no proper place for rest. So he passed his days without being able to  ecstatic meditation as he was wont to, while the novice spent all his days in the whole vassa enrapt in the trance of the Fruition of the Path in spite of the lack of accommodation. When the vassa or lent ended, he asked the elder monk if he found the monastery congenial. The reply was in the negative. Remember, therefore, that an Arahat in constant practice of Vipassanā can enter into ecstatic meditation whenever he wants to. Although such meditation can neither help to add to the dhammas already realized nor create new dhammas for further realization, it can give the meditator the benefits of constant mindfulness.


Now to continue with the subject of the strength of an Arahat, this is what Sāriputtarā further said.

And again, Reverend Sir, the other strength of a Bhikkhu who has extinguished all āsavas in him is the accomplishment in the four sammappadānas; and once these four have been fully and well accomplished, he can proclaim himself to be freed of all āsavas.

Coming under sammāvāyāma, right exertion, one of the Noble Eightfold Path, the four sammappadānas are (1) exertion to discard unwholesome actions that have arisen, (2) exertion to prevent the arising of unwholesome actions that have not yet arisen, (3) exertion to develop wholesome actions not yet arising and (4) exertion to augment wholesome actions that have arisen.

In the same manner as he is careful to avoid catching flu, he must be careful to avoid committing unwholesome actions which he might have noticed others committing. At times he might have committed himself evil through anger or other passions for failure to control them. In that case he must be carefully not to repeat committing such evil. He may be usually innocent, but there is the possibility that Anusayas, inclinations to defilements might arise at any time. So he must be wary of them. For that matter he will have to rely on insight-meditation. It is imperative that he cultivate wholesomeness by actually practising Dāna, charity, Sīla, morality and Bhāvanā, mind-development. Having done so, it will be well of him to retain wholesomeness with him and to abide in it. Arahats make the utmost efforts to become accomplished in the four Sammappadhānas well after their attainment of Arahatship.


Of the sixth strength of the Arahats Sāriputarā has this to say:

            And again, Reverend Sir, there is another strength possessed by a bhikkhu in whom all Āsavas have become extinct: and it is perfecting oneself well in the four Iddhipādās. Having perfected himself in these Iddhipādās, a bhikkhu can proclaim himself as freed for all Āsavas.

Iddhi means attainment of perfection; and Iddhipāda means fundamentals leading to that attainment. There are four of them, namely, (1) Chandiddhipāda, will or determination to acquire perfection, (2) Viriyiddhipāda, exertion for that acquirement, (3) Cittiddhipāda, attitude of mind to win perfection, and (4) Vimamsiddhipāda, knowledge of investigation leading to perfection.

Even in mundane affairs possession of one' if not all, of these four Iddhis can contribute to the attainment of perfection. In big undertakings we need a particularly strong Iddhi. To achieve merit out of practising charity or morality an ordinary Iddhi may be enough; but when it comes to developing wholesome actions through the practice of Samatha, mindfulness and Vipassanā, concentration, either Chandiddhipāda or Viriyiddhipāda or Cittiddhipāda or Vimamsiddhipāda must be extraordinarily strong. Arahats take up concentration or meditation with these four Iddhipādas.

I would like to ask the yogīs to try to excel themselves in at least one of the Iddhis. That is to say that they must try to possess either the will or the effort or the aptitude or the knowledge in seeking the light of the dhamma.


Sāriputtarā went on with his exposition of the strength of an Arahat.

And again, Reverend Sir, another strength of an Arahat who has rendered all Āsavas in him extinct, is the development of the five Indriyas truly and well. Having developed this strength of the five Indriyas, he can proclaim himself as having been freed of all Āsavas.

Indriya means governing. There 22 Indriyas or forces that govern the Khandhas and their concomitants. The first set of five are the five faculties of the senses and are known as (1) Cakkhundriya, (2) Sotindriya, (3) Ghānindriya, (4) Jīvindriya and (5) Kāyindriya (faculties relating to the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue and the physical body). The second set relates to the differentiation of the sexes into male and female, (6) Iṭṭhindriya and (7) Purisindriyas respectively. The factor governing life is called (8) Jīvitindriya. The other factor that governs the consciousness of the mind-objects is called (9) Manindriya. Then come the five factors governing feeling, grouped into one set, and they are (1) Sukhindrīya, pleasure, (11) Dukkhindriya, pain, (12) Somanassindriya, joy, (13) Domanassindriya, sorrow and (14) Upekkhindriya, indifference. There is another group of five beginning with faith and they are (15) Saddhindriya, faith, (16) Viriyindriya, effort, (17) Satindriya, mindfulness, (18) Samādhindriya, concentration and (19) Paññindriya, wisdom. The remaining three factors are (20) Anaññātaññassāmitindriya, relating to the knowledge of the first stage of the Path (Sotāpatti magga), (21) Aññindriya relating to the knowledge of the three lower Phalas (Fruition) and the three upper Maggas (Paths) and (22) Aññātāvindriya, relating to the knowledge of the Arahatta Phala.

For the purpose, however, of defining the strengths of an Arahat we take the five Indriyas of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom, namely, Saddhindriyā, Virindriya, Satindriya, Samādindriya and Paññindriya.

When we say faith, of course we mean the right faith. It has nothing to do with beliefs in the wrong teachings of heretics which are classified as Micchāadhimokkha, wrong views. To know the true Teacher, his true Teachings and his true Order, you must know the nine virtues of the Buddha, the six virtues of the Dhamma and the nine virtues of the Sangha. There are nine Lokuttarā dhammas, transcendental conditions which are the four Ariya maggas, Noble Paths, the four Ariya phalas, Noble Fruits and Nibbāna. All Desanās or teachings relate to these true dhammas; and all that have nothing to do with them are false.

One of the nine virtues of the Sangha is suppatipaññā, practising the dhamma well by conducting oneself in sīla, samādhi and paññā, by discarding kilesā, defilements, which are made up of such evil passions as lobha, greed, dosa, anger, and moha, delusion. The eight Ariyās (worthy ones) -- the four in the magga and the four in the phala are endowed with these virtues, and, therefore they are the true Sanghas. Among the worldlings there are those who are striving for their spiritual or moral good, and they are classified as kalayāna puthujjhanas, who also may be put in the same class as Sanghas, for they are practising the dhamma with a view to realize sotāpatti phala.

Belief in the three gems and in kamma and the result of kamma is belief in the true faith, which is saddhindriya. Casual reflection on the virtues of the Buddha does not amount to the establishment of firmness in this indriya. It is only when one practises insight-meditation leading to the path of a Sotāpanna that one's faith becomes firmly rooted. Vipassanā reveals the true nature of rūpa and nāma, the one as the cause and the other as the effect, always arising and passing away, never being permanent, always producing suffering or unsatisfactoriness and creating nothing but unsubstantiality. When the knowledge of the Path of a Sotāpanna is achieved one is fully prepared for Nibbāna. At this stage saddhindriya remains as firm as a rock.

Faith is the manifestation of consciousness of wholesome actions called kusala citta which arises along with that of udayabbaya ñāṇa, knowledge of dissolution and saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa, knowledge of equanimity, at which stage the meditator's mind becomes purified like a crystal with only consciousness as its beam of light. When arahatta magga is achieved this purity becomes whole and complete.

Viriyindriya is almost synonymous with sammapadhāna which signifies intensive energy, while it merely denotes factors governing exertion. Nonetheless it is very important for its part in the practice of Vipassanā for without it, one hardly gain insight knowledge leading to the Path of an Arahat.

About satindriya, factor governing mindfulness, what has been said about Satipaṭṭāna applies.

Samādhindriya is ekkaggatā, one-pointedness of mind, governing the faculty of concentration without which one can hardly attain analytical knowledge of nāmarūpa pariccheda ñāṇā. Those who glibly talk of this knowledge as being attainable by merely learning it be rote fail to appreciate the seven Visuddhis, factors of purification, which determine the achievement of the dhamma. The analytical knowledge together with diṭṭhivisuddhi, purity of views, is not realizable unless one achieves sīlavisuddhi, purity of morals and cittavisuddhi, purity of mind. And that purity of mind cannot be achieved without the fulfillment of khaṇa samādhi; instantaneous concentration or jhāna, entrancement or upacārasamādhi, proximate concentration. Instantaneous concentration is akin to proximate concentration and both contribute to the expulsion of nīvaraṇas or depravities of the mind. The attainment of nāmarūpa pariccedha ñāṇa is followed by that of paccaya pariggahana ñāṇa, knowledge of rūpa and nāma as cause and effect, sammāsana ñāṇa, investigating knowledge, and udayabbaya ñāṇa, knowledge of dissolution, in that order.

In Salāyatana Sutta of Saṃyutta Nikāya Buddha enjoins his disciples to exercise meditation so that they can understand the true nature of conditioned things. How can one see realities? A meditator, says Buddha, recognizes that his eye-basis (subject) is not permanent, that the form (object) that he sees is not permanent, that the eye-consciousness that he experiences is not permanent, that the contact taking place between his eye-basis and eye-object is not permanent and that joy, sorrow and indifference felt by him in seeing are also not permanent. To say it succinctly, all sense-bases, sense-objects, consciousness, contacts and feelings that appear at the six sense-doors are all impermanent.

Paññindriya relates to intelligence, but not that kind of intelligence derived from what one hears from others or from thinking and reasoning but from intuitive knowledge through the practice of Vipassanā. In fact, vipassanā ñāṇa, insight knowledge, is superior to sutamaya (relating to hearing), cintāmaya (relating to thinking) and bhāvanāmaya (relating to cultivating the mind) knowledge. For an ordinary meditator insight-meditation is paññindriya as it governs Vipassanā practice. For an ariyamagga ñāṇa or knowledge of the Path is paññindriya as it governs knowledge relating to the attainment of Nibbāna. Knowledge of the Path leading to the state of Sotāpanna is anaññātaññassāmitindriya, signifying knowledge of the unknown. The rest of the knowledge relating to upper maggas are knowns as aññindriya knowledge gained through the accumulation of experience.

Paññindriya must be developed through insight meditation of the five aggregates of clinging. In the beginning one cannot follow all the detailed incidents connected with the act of seeing or hearing, especially when the power of concentration has not yet properly developed. That is the reason why we propose that a yogī should begin with noting the four postures in accordance with the injunction: Gacchanto vā gacchāmīti pajānāti -- Know that you go when you go. When you are sitting note that you are sitting. But this is too elementary a practise not contributing to the development of the strength of exertion to match the required concentration. This can bring about thinamiddha, sloth and torpor. So we advocate noting the rising and falling of the abdomen. The movements of the body indicate the existence of vāyo dhātu, element of motion. When you note this activity you are not confined only on one sense-object -- you have to be mindful of the rising and falling of the abdomen. Neither can you lessen your exertion in noting the two phenomena. We think that this exercise renders both Samādhi and Vīriya even.

Paññindriya encompasses factors governing the attainment of knowledge about conditioned things and their impermanent nature. On the realization of the nature of nāma rūpa, knowledge of equanimity or saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa will be established resulting in enlightenment of the highest stage of the Path called arahatta magga paññindriya which makes up the seventh strength of an Arahat.


Sāriputtarā continued with his exposition.

            And again, Reverend Sir, there is another strength belonging to a Bhikkhu who has extinguished all āsavas in him; and that is the accomplishment in the five Balas. Well accomplished in these five Balas, he can proclaim himself as freed of all āsavas.

Bala itself is strength, and it is the same as the five indriyas that I have spoken of. A Bhikkhu endowed with saddhābala firmly believes in the three gems - - Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha -- and his faith in them remains adamant like a rock which can withstand the buffeting of the storm of doubt.

A Bhikkhu who possesses vīriya bala is not troubled by sloth and torpor. He exerts himself to achieve the factors of enlightenment. If he is accomplished in sati bala, he shall forever be mindful of the phenomenal world around him noting it as he sees, hears or touches sense-objects. Nothing passes him unnoticed. If he is established in samādhibala, his mind will never get scattered and he can concentrate on his objective. The establishment of samādhi becomes substantial when he reaches the stage of saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa. A yogī who abides in samādhi can meditate for several hours without being aware of the sense of time.

A Bhikkhu endowed with paññābala can dispense with delusion which takes in all conditioned things as permanent. When it is at work it hoodwinks one into believing that what one sees or hears is everlasting. Be he a worldling, a man possessed with udayabbaya ñāṇa, bhaṅga ñāṇa and saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa knows the realities of the phenomenal world by dint of his paññābala. An Ariya stands firm in this knowledge about impermanency. Well-accomplished in the strength of the knowledge, an Arahat remains unruffled by the onslaught of any delusion which hides the truth about anicca, dukkha and anatta.


Continuing, Sāriputtarā addressed himself thus to Buddha:

            And again, Reverend Sir, there is still another strength of a bhikkhu who has rid himself of all Āsavas in him, and that is the full and complete development of the seven Bojjhaṅgas, factors of enlightenment. When he has cultivated and developed these factors, he can proclaim himself as freed of all Āsavas.

These factors of enlightenment mean the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. They are seven, namely, (1) Satisambojjhaṅga, (2) Dhammavicaya sambojjhaṅga, (3) Vīriya sambojjhaṅga, (4) Pīti sambojjhaṅga, (5) Passadhi sambojjhaṅga, (6) Samādhi sambojjhaṅga and (7) Upekkhā sambojjhaṅga.


Sati sambojjhaṅga is the mindfulness of all physical and mental behaviours together with feelings. It is therefore the same as the four Satipaṭṭānas. It cannot be won without meditation. Even a beginner in Vipassanā, used to cultivating this Sambojjhaṅga, is unaware of his being mindful as knowledge has not yet sufficiently developed in him. When Udayabbaya ñāṇa, knowledge of the rise and fall of conditioned things, arises in him, he becomes familiar with it. Generally speaking, however, it must be noted that the four Sambo jjhaṅgas of Sati, Vīriya, Samādhi and Dhammavicaya occur, albeit in milder forms, at the very beginning of taking up meditation. When Udayabbaya ñāṇa is realized, a yogī will feel that there is nothing that passes his notice, so powerful has his faculty of recollection developed. It is because of this power that he is able to realize the true nature of Nāmarūpa which is subject to decay.


This facet of enlightenment relating to the investigation of the dhamma is almost the same as Paññindriya. Specifically this investigation relates to what is wholesome action, Kusala, and what is unwholesome, Akusala. But generally it encompasses all dhamma like Kiriyas, deeds, their consequences, Vipāka, the element of Nibbāna and so on and so forth. But here in the present context only Kusala and Akusala dhammas are meant as the principle subjects of investigation.

            As you see or hear, you just note the sights and sounds as sights and sounds which, by their nature, arise and pass away, never being permanent. A yogī in meditation recollects clearly this constant flux of Nāmarūpa. In fact he can more clearly recollect the constant state of flux when he is concentrating his mind on ear-objects. Some of the yogīs of this meditation centre told me that they could discriminate the sounds that they heard by the right ear or by the left ear, their sense of hearing being so sharpened through the practice of meditation.

            Rūpa or materiality cannot hang upon objects according to the saying Anarammana dhamma. This fact is usually understood by a yogī in meditation whose faculty of the senses has been rendered keen through the exercise Vipassanā. But Nāma, mind, can hang upon its object. So at the stage of keen perception, the subject is able to differentiate Rūpa from Nāma. When Samādhi gains strength with the continual practice of meditation, he can follow the swift flow of Nāmarūpa that arises and passes away. Having come to know this transient nature of conditioned things, he realizes that such things are ungovernable and unsubstantial and that, therefore, they are unsatisfactory, engendering nothing but suffering. The more one's intelligence is sharpened by Vipassanā, the better one can reflect on the rapid dissolution of things that takes place; and this becomes all the more apparent when Bhaṅga ñāṇa arises. At this point one may not be aware of the arising of conditioned things but one is clearly conscious of their rapid dissolution which covers both the noting mind and the noted object. When Saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa is achieved one needs no special effort to get to know the rapid dissolution. And when the Path is reached the cessation of mental formations can be noticed.


            It is similar to Vīriyindriya and Sammapadhāna which usually come up with the arising of Udayabbhya ñāṇa. If exertion is wanting, recollection or contemplation will be rendered ineffective. If it is too much, anxiety arises to thwart the process of concentration. It must be kept in equilibrium.


            In the beginning of the meditation practice, Pīti, joy, is not usually felt; but it arises in a milder form called Pāmojja which is followed by horrification. When Udayabbaya ñāṇā stage is reached, the meditator will be overwhelmed with Pīti so much so that his power of recollection becomes improved, when he will get the feeling that he has seen the inward light. He must note this phenomenon till it disappears. The working of this Pīti becomes more apparent when he reaches the stage of Saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa.

Some yogīs do not experience this Pīti and so they put forward the theory that the sensation of Pīti is unnecessary. But in fact it is a prerequisite for the attainment of enlightenment. If it fails to occur, it must be held that Udayabbaya ñāṇa has not arisen.


Passaddhi, repose, consists of Kāyapassaddhi, peace of the physical body, and Cittapassaddhi, peace of mind. Physical peace is achieved when Cetasikas, mental properties, gain equanimity. And so Kāya encompasses Cetasikas. This agrees with nature, for, when the mind is at peace, the body follows suit.

The element of passaddhi is present in every meritorious action, but it usually remains hidden-and does not show up even in the earlier stages of meditation. It becomes apparent at the stage of udayabbaya ñāṇa, for, at this stage there is no necessity for a yogī to make a great effort to concentrate, as everything has gone well with him with the practice. This passaddhi arises at the stage of the realization of the saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa.

Passaddhi is endowed with mental qualities as lightness, softness, pliability, susceptibility to knowledge and straight thinking. It is because of these qualities that a meditator, accomplished in udayabbaya ñāṇa, feels that his body is so light that he has levitated. When pīti is excited, it reaches the stage of ubbega pīti, a kind of intense joy that enables one to mount into the air. In that condition both the mind and the body are rendered subtle and pliant, receptive to contemplation and going straight at the objective. A woman yogī told me that she used to victimize her husband and that when she attained udayabbaya ñāṇa by Vipassanā practice her mind became so gentle that she no longer worried her husband as before.


            It is the same as samādhindriya which I have earlier explained and which, therefore, needs no further elaboration.


This sambojjhaṅga relating to indifference is rather difficult of understanding. It may be applied to feeling, wisdom, exertion and cetasikas or mental properties. When we speak of pleasure or pain, we are referring to feelings that we experience in everyday life. But beyond them there is a state of mind called indifference or upekkhā vedanā. When we say wisdom, we mean vipassanā ñāṇa and saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa which at once suggest a state of evenness of the mind. When we speak of exertion, we mean vīriya upekkhā which must be so balanced that it is neither over-worked nor under-achieved. Besides them there are other upekkhās like chalangupekkhā indifference to the six senses, brahmavihārupekkhā-indifference to the abode of the Brahmās, jhānupekkhā, indifference to jhāna, and parisuddhupekkhā, indifference to perfect purity. They are mental qualities that come under upekkhāna-sambojjhaṅga, They also connote mind set at equilibrium. But in the present context, one cannot be very pragmatic about their nature since one rarely encounters them in life. It is only when a Vipassanā yogī attains udayabbaya ñāṇa that he really experiences them and that by intuition.

These bojjhaṅgas are hard to be experienced in practical life because ordinarily these dhammas are either wanting or in excess when substantiated. So when faith is exercised too strongly the power of the investigation of the mind weakens. When one fails to investigate the phenomenon with due care one fails to arrive at the truth. But when the investigative instinct is too overbearing, faith weakens; and as one loses faith, one fails to exert oneself in the search for truth. Even when one is diligent enough, if the faith is lacking, one cannot establish samādhi which is essential for the attainment of insight-knowledge. When one's faith is overly strong the moment one encounters things out of the ordinary, one dwells on them with self-satisfaction and one gets lost on the way without being able to arrive at the objective. And when the power of concentration is stronger than is necessary while exertion is weak, sloth and torpor get the better of the yogī in meditation and no progress can be achieved. When exertion dominates concentration, anxieties impede the progress of the task of meditation.

To keep samādhi and vīriya in proper balance, we advocate the method of meditating on the rise and fall of the belly. In this exercise as the yogī has to note the rising and falling of abdomen, he has to be mindful of only two phenomena and therefore his power of concentration is not unduly taxed. As the exercise does not involve noting three or four phenomena, undue exertion is also not called for. Both are kept on an even keel. In order that the yogī's personal health remains unimpaired we advise him to meditate for only an hour after which he can change his posture from one of sitting to one of standing up and walking and continue meditation on walking. To keep saddhā, faith, and paññā, knowledge in equilibrium you must get the advice of your kammaṭṭhāna teachers who will explain things relating to the exercise of the dhamma.

In this way the mind inclined to Vipassanā becomes properly balanced, and the yogī's contemplative mood will improve for the better, and when he attains to the stage of udayabbaya and saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇas, he will feel that all five indriyas work together in unison and all that remains for him to do is to let himself be carried away by them. When the two bullocks are pulling the cart with equal force, it behaves well for the rider to remain at ease and follow the trail without any worry. Only when this upekkhā sambojjhaṅga is accomplished that a yogī can proceed from one stage of knowledge to another.

Pīti sambojjhaṅga is recognizable by the yogī when his power of concentration has developed and when, as a result, he can fully exercise his faculty of recollection. The other six bojjhaṅgas get themselves involved in every event of the yogī's act of noting. When the Ariyan Path is reached, especially at the time of the first and second jhāna, all the seven bojjhaṅgas are brought into play, and finally everything that has to be accomplished becomes accomplished.

A yogī may cultivate these seven Bojjhaṅgas at any time he likes. When Sati sambojjhaṅga is exercised all others in the category of Sambojjhaṅgas will be brought into play.

Earlier I have pointed out that the cultivation of Bojjhaṅgas has the power to heal. When Mahā Kassapa fell sick, Buddha made a discourse on the seven Bojjhaṅgas thus bringing the latter to mind the factors of enlightenment on which he was meditating. At once sickness disappeared. When Mahā Moggalāna fell sick likewise, the same thing happened. When Buddha himself actually fell sick, Cunda recited the seven Bojjhaṅgas and as the Enlightened One listened to the recitation and meditated on the factors, his sickness wore away. When he spent his last Vassa at Veluva village, he was afflicted with an ailment that would have ended his life then and there. But he exercised Vipassanā, and he arose from his sickness. This Vipassanā is no other than meditation on the seven Bojjhaṅgas.

So they shall be cultivated and developed. But such development should be taken up in accordance with the directions of the four Satipaṭṭānas - - - mindfulness of the physical body, of the mind, of the feeling and of the dhammas. The aim of practising mindfulness is to direct the meditator to get accomplished in those factors of enlightenment which constitute the ninth strength of the Arahats.

I shall deal with the tenth strength in my next lecture. I shall now close with the usual invocation and prayer.

May you who have listened to this discourse with respectful attention be able to contemplate the impermanency of the five aggregates of clinging and develop the factors of enlightenment through the accomplishment of the Bodhipakkhiya dhammas that lead to the Path and its Fruition and bring Nibbāna into view.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!

Chapter 9


            (Delivered on the 14th. Waning of Thadingyut and the Full Moon day of Tazaungmon, 1329 M.E.)

I have already given 14 lectures on Sīlavanta sutta covering the subject up to the ninth strength of an Arahat. It now remain for me to discuss the tenth and wind up my lecture by making a brief review of what has been preached.


Continuing with the subject of the strength of an Arahat, Sāriputtarā addressed himself to Buddha thus.

            And again, Reverend Sir, there is another strength possessed by a bhikkhu who has extinguished all āsavas in him, and that is the full and complete cultivation and development of the Noble Eightfold Path. Having accomplished in that task, he is competent to proclaim himself as freed of all Āsavas.

The Noble Eightfold Path or Ariya-magga is so-called because it is the Path of absolute purity followed by the Noble Ones, Ariyas. In our daily language the path means that which leads to our destinations such as a village, a town, or an office, or a pagoda, or a monastery. In our Desanā or Teaching similar paths are called Gatis, leading us to our destinies which may be the nether worlds, or the animal world, the Peta-world, the human world and the world of devas or deities. But the one and the only Path that avoids those Gatis is the Ariya magga. It behooves us to cultivate and develop the dhammas that lead us to that Path from the very beginning of our lives are ordinary worldlings. All what I have said previously relate to this theme, and it will be superfluous to repeat them here. I shall only enumerate those Noble Eightfold Paths which are:

1.      Sammādiṭṭhi, Right View,

2.      Sammāsaṅkappa, Right Thoughts,

3.      Sammāvāsā, Right Speech,

4.      Sammākammanta, Right Actions,

5.      Sammā-ājīva, Right Livelihood,

6.      Sammāvāyama, Right Effort,

7.      Sammāsati, Right Mindfulness,

8.      Sammāsamādhi, Right Concentration.

There are five types of Sammādiṭṭhi, right view, namely:

1.      Kammassakata sammādiṭṭhi, Right view accepting the law of Kamma and Kamma result,

2.      Jhāna sammādiṭṭhi, Right view relating to Jhāna,

3.      Vipassanā sammādiṭṭhi, Right view relating to insight-meditation.

4.      Magga sammādiṭṭhi, Right view relating to the Path,

5.      Phala sammādiṭṭhi, Right view relating to the Fruition of the Path.

If Paccavehkhaṇā sammādiṭṭhi, right view relating to the knowledge of self-examination is to be taken into account, and this to the original types of right views to make six.

In the foregoing, Phala sammādiṭṭhi, denotes knowledge relating to the four Phalas or fruits of wisdom enjoyed by a Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmi, and Anāgāmi and Arahat respectively. Paccavekkhaṇā sammādiṭṭhi comes under Phala sammādiṭṭhi, and therefore a yogī need not make special endeavours to review his achievement of the Path by self-examination. What is essential, however, is the development of Magga sammādiṭṭhi, which is preceded by Vipassanā sammādiṭṭhi, for it is only when insight-knowledge is attained that this view is established. For Vipassanā sammādiṭṭhi to arise, Kammasakatā sammādiṭṭhi and jhāna sammādiṭṭhi must be practised.

Buddhists need not make it a point to make special efforts to develop kammassakatā sammādiṭṭhi, since they have accepted the law of kamma and kamma-result once they embrace Buddhism. Their very practices of charity, morality and mind-development denotes their belief in kamma and its results. It is with this belief in the meritorious action of jhāna leading to the realms of form and the formless realms that one practises meditation. And the result of this action is bound to be beneficial. Insight-meditation can prove beneficial only to those who sincerely believe that it can lead to the Path, its Fruition and Nibbāna.

That mind-development, bhāvanā, has its foundation in the practice of morality, sīla, cannot be over emphasized. Nāmarūpapariccheda ñāṇa, analytical knowledge about mind and matter, and paññā visuddhi, wisdom in its purity, can be accomplished only when citta visuddhi, purity of mind is established. Hence before bhāvanā is to be practised one must abide in sīla. So a yogī preparing himself for kammaṭṭhāna, meditational exercises, must keep sabbath and observe precepts. For Bhikkhus absolute purity of morals is required for the practice of meditation. Firm in sīla he can easily take up concentration that enables him to enter the state of jhāna, or at least to realize upacāra samādhi, proximate concentration. Failing that he should meditate on the four postures and the four essential elements when he can realize khaṇika samādhi, instantaneous concentration. These are the fundamentals to the cultivation of Mūla Magga, the basic Path.

Beginning with the fundamentals a yogī proceeds to meditate on the five aggregates of clinging that appear at the six sense doors to establish vipassanā samādīṭṭhi. Continuing the practice, meditation will lead one further to the realization of cause and effect of the phenomenal world which is the knowledge called paccayapariggahana ñāṇa. The next stage of knowledge will be sammāsana ñāṇa which recognizes the impermanency of all conditioned things. When dissolution is noticed during meditation, one must know that he has come to the stage of bhaṅga ñāṇa, knowledge of dissolution. Then arises saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa, knowledge of equanimity, when the mind will be entirely bent on rūpa, nāma and saṅkhāra. Then the highest stage of understanding called vutthanagāminī, insight leading to the emergence of the Path, will be reached. Anuloma ñāṇa, knowledge of adaptation, as an ingredient of vutthāgāminī, seeks Nibbāna as its mind-object. This is a precursor, pubba magga, to ariya magga. The basis for vipassanā magga, as has been pointed out earlier, is called mūla magga which consists of kammassakatā sammādiṭṭhi, sīla magga and samādhi magga. To remember this please note this maxim: mūla, the basic, pubba, the precursor, and Ariya, the Noble Path, point the way to Nibbāna.

So if you really want to be at one with Nibbāna in this in your present existence, abide in the law of kamma and its result, fulfil the purity of morals and practise right speech, right action and right livelihood, basic conducts in the realization of the dhamma. This will lead you to the next stage which heralds the knowledge of adaptation to Nibbāna, anuloma ñāṇa, and the knowledge of the higher lineage, gotrabhū, which enables you to be transported to the element of Nibbāna.

When sammādiṭṭhi is established through the practice of insight-knowledge, sammāsaṅkappa, right thought or intention will follow. It is a state of mind which inclines to Nibbāna. Right thinking and right views are grouped into paññakkhandha, aggregates of knowledge.

Sammāvāyama is making right efforts at meditation on sense-objects as they are seen or heard. This brings about sammāsati, right mindfulness. In exercising this you have to note the sense-object, and as you note it your mind proximates to it. Then concentration becomes achieved. Sammā samādhi is right concentration. In initial stages khaṇika samādhi, instantaneous concentration, is developed, and this samādhi, in conjunction with sammā vāyāma and sammā sati, forms samādhi-khandhā, aggregates of concentration.

Right speech, right action and right livelihood come naturally at the moment of taking up meditational exercises. No unusual efforts are necessary to realize these qualities. As conviction in the impermanent nature of conditioned things grows, wrong speech, wrong actions and wrong livelihood are abandoned.

Now right view is established, all maggas have been fulfilled. As insight-meditation gains strength, ariya magga, in the form of sotāpanna magga, arises and it subsequently fructifies.

As a Sotāpanna continues with his practice of the Noble Eightfold Path, he gets to the next stage of Sakadāgāmi Path and its Fruition; and as a Sakadāgāmi unrelentlessly practises it he goes up to the next stage of an Anāgāmi; and as an Anāgāmi makes further efforts in the practice he becomes an Arahat accomplished in the Path and its Fruition, which constitute his strength.

Now my exposition of the ten strengths of an Arahat is complete. The question now remains whether an Arahat proclaims himself as freed of all āsavas in an open and direct manner. Regarding this here is what Khema Sutta of Aṅguttara Nikāya has to say.


Once Khemaka and Sumana were respectfully waiting upon Buddha residing at Jetavana monastery at Sāvatthi. Khemaka then addressed himself to Buddha thus:

            Reverend Sir! An Arahat in whom all āsavas have become extinguished never considers himself that he has his superiors or equals or inferiors.

Khemaka's asseveration is an admission of the total absence of the three types of Māna, pride, in an Arahat. So an Arahat is one who has no sense of Māna which prompts him to compare himself to others as being superior, or equal, or inferior.

Having said this Khemaka left. Then Sumana addressed himself to Buddha, almost in the same strain, as follows.

            Reverened Sir, An Arahat in whom all Āsavas have become extinguished, never considers himself that he has no superiors. nor equals, nor inferiors.

Having said this, he also left.

Then Buddha said:

            O bhikkhus! Men of good family speak of Arahatship by inference from the way Khemaka and Sumana have just told me. Arahats do not directly proclaim themselves openly to be so; but they let it be known by indirect suggestion. Fools make a laughing-stock of themselves by declaring that they have become Arahats having achieved Arahatta phala, and this results in a general opprobrium that usually torments their souls.


Sona was a rich man's son brought up in the lap of luxury and ease. He was so pampered by his parents that he never walked the earth literally speaking, with the result that his soles became soft and hairy. When, however, he had the opportunity to listen to Buddha's sermons, he made the determination to practise the dhammas, not even as a lay man but as a monk. So he turned recluse and took up Vipassanā by meditating on his act of walking along foot-path in a grave-yard. Although he tried hard with his meditational exercise until the ground on which he walked became bespattered with the blood that trickled from his tender soles, he failed to get illumined. In desperation, therefore, he thought to himself: "Those making the greatest endeavour might be doing the same thing that I am now doing and could not have done better. And yet I cannot get rid of this cankerous Āsava from my mind. I have amassed a great deal of wealth at home. It behooves me to turn a lay man and do meritorious deeds as a lay man."

Knowing what was in Sona's mind, Buddha appeared before him and gave him the advice that in the practice of the dhamma one should never go to the extreme of either being too zealous or too slack, taking the lesson from a harp-player who produced raucous notes when he played with taut or loose strings. Sona, therefore, relaxed keeping his exertion on an even keel with his task of concentration. His attempts proved successful. So he addressed Buddha thus:

            Reverend Sir! An Arahat who has rendered all Āsavas in him extinct, dwells his mind solely on the emancipation of human passions, on the establishment of solitude, on the negation of clinging, on the abandonment of craving and on the expulsion of delusion. Even so arguments are put forward that the Arahat's inclination for a passionless state is prompted by his faith only. But in fact it is not faith alone that drives him to be beatified in that state, but his abandonment of lust, anger and delusion, for he, as an Arahat, accomplished all there is to be accomplished leaving nothing undone. Again it may also be argued that he inclines to solitude just for the reputation that stands him in good stead for the acquisition of material gains. That also is not so for, as an Arahat, he has accomplished all there is to be accomplished in discarding lust, anger and delusion. Again, it may also be put forward that he becomes tolerant and meek because false religious practices require him to be so. That also is not true for he, as an Arahat, has accomplished all there is to be accomplished in conquering passions like lust, anger and delusion.

            Reverend Sir! A bhikkhu who has become truly emancipated from human passions never falls a prey to the wiles of Rūpa, form, seen by the keenest eye that catches its appearance. Even when it shows itself it has no influence on the Arahat's mind which is incompatible with Kilesās, remaining unperturbed by what it sees as the dissolution of the form and of the consciousness that recognizes the form.

Removed from Kilesās an Arahat refuses to fall in with the objects that he sees whether they are pleasant or otherwise. He is for ever conscious of the state of the dissolution of the subject that sees and the object that is seen. This statement applies to all other phenomena of hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. An Arahat's mind is unruffled by these phenomena. Awareness of the dissolution of the sense-object along with the mind that takes note of it is within the experience of our yogīs.

Some spoke in several Gāthās (stanzas) in like manner; but I shall deal with the last two of them.

Selo yathā ekagghano,
vātana nasamirati.
Evam rūpā rasā saddā,
gandhā phassā ca kevalā.
Iṭṭhā dhammā aniṭṭhā ca,
na pavedhenti tādino,
Thitam cittam vippamuttam,

Foul winds buffet the solid rock from all directions; and yet, it remains unshaken. In like manner all sense-objects of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching, whether pleasurable or not, assault the mind of an Arahat, who, however, remains unmoved and adamantine, freed of all kilesās, defilements, conscious only of the picture of the dissolution of the khandhās.

This is how Sona made known his Arahatship by just throwing a hint.


Once a monk known by the name of Kalāya khatthiya told Sāriputtarā that Moliyaphagguna had left the Order to become a lay man. This drew comment from the latter who observed, "Moliyaphagguna has failed to get a comfortable foothold in this Sāsanā." At this Kalāyana khatthiya asked the elder thera in derision, "Am I then to take it that in your case you have got a comfortable foothold?"

"I have," said Sariputtarā, "no doubt about it."

"But then," said the taunting monk, "Can you have your foothold in the future?"

"I have no doubt about it," repeated the elder.

Here 'foothold' denotes the firm stand established on the foundations of the three lower Paths and their Fruition. If the monk in question had realized them, he would have been an Anāgāmi and would not have left the Order.

Kalāyakhatthiya again asked, "Have you extricated yourself from the hold of a new rebirth in the future?" This is an oblique way of asking if Sāriputtarā had become an Arahat.

"I have," repeated the elder monk, "No doubt it."

Then Kalāyakhatthiya went to Buddha and reported this conversation, saying, "Reverend Sir! Sāriputtarā has been avowing himself that there will be no new rebirth for him, that he has practised the noble conduct and that he has accomplished all there is to accomplished leaving nothing undone. He has declared himself to be an Arahat!"

Buddha summoned Sāriputtarā and asked him if he had said so.

Sāriputtarā replied that he had simply told the younger monk that he, Sāriputtarā, accomplished all that was to be accomplished in relation to the denial of future rebirths and that he had told him nothing about the Fruition of the arahatta magga.

"Sāriputtarā," said Buddha, "However indirectly you say this, it amounts of the admission that you have become an Arahat."

"Sir!" said Sāriputtarā, "I am merely reasserting that I did not use those words as reported; but I would not say that I have said nothing."

This is how, as revealed by the teachings of the original Pāḷi texts, Arahats themselves never avow directly that they have attained Arahatship.


When the Sāsanā was at its height in Ceylon, there was an Arahat residing in Cittala Hill with an ascetic as his disciple. Once the latter asked his mentor as to how he could know an Ariya. "Even you, an old monk, replied the Arahat, "may not be able to identify an Arahat although you may be serving him as his disciple by your side. He is unknowable." The old monk failed to know the Arahat as an Arahat in spite of this hint.

Usually an Ariya wishes to remain unbeknown to others.


Before concluding I shall make a brief resume of what I have been saying about Sīlavanta Sutta.

First Koṭṭhika enquired of Sāriputtarā as to how a bhikkhu, accomplished in morality should devote himself to the practice of the dhamma. Sāriputtarā replied that such a bhikkhu should devote himself to meditation, wisely and well, on the five Upādānakkhandhās, aggregates of clinging, observing their impermanent and unsatisfactory nature, likening them to a disease, or a canker, or a thorn in the side, maleficent, anguish, strange, dissolving, void and unsubstantial. One who is established in this mindfulness can be a Sotāpanna.

Secondly Koṭṭhika asked how a Sotāpannā should devote himself to the practice of the dhamma. Sāriputtarā replied that he should also meditate on the five Upādānakkhandhās correctly and well, as advised before, to become a Sakadāgāmi.

Thirdly Koṭṭhika asked how a Sakadāgāmi should devote the practice of the dhamma. Sāriputtarā's reply was the same as before pointing out the fact a Sakadāgāmi could become an Anāgāmi by the same method.

Fourthly Koṭṭhika's enquiries relate to the question of the practice of the dhamma by an Anāgāmi. Sāriputtarā repeated saying that he should also practise meditation in the way already stated so that he could become an Arahat.

Finally Koṭṭhika enquired how an Arahat should practise the dhamma. Sāriputtarā again emphasised that accomplished Arahats should also meditate on the five Upādānakkhandhās keeping his mind on the characteristics of impermanence.

An Arahat, indeed, needs not go beyond what he has achieved and accomplished for the realization of the Arahatta phala; but if he continues to practise Vipassanā, he shall dwell in happiness derived from the practice, able to fulfil Satisampajana or awareness of his mindfulness.

I now close with the usual prayer that all who have listened to this discourse with respectful attention will enter Nibbāna, the end of suffering, having realized wisdom, by virtue of their wholesome actions, regarding the Path and its Fruition, as a result of insight-meditation on the five aggregates of clinging.

Sādhu!    Sādhu!    Sādhu!