Translated by Dr Mehn Hla Aung Gyi, Ph.D
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasambuddhassa
Homage to the Buddha, the Supreme One, who has extinguished all defilements, who is endowed with the six great qualities of glory, and who has become perfectly self-enlightened through realization of the Four Noble Truths.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! (Well done! Well done! Well done!)
As you have already known, I am propagating the Teaching of Dependent Origination of the groups of existence (Khandha Paticca Samuppada Desana), as a meditation teacher according to the way of the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw, in the 'Mogok Vipassana Sub-centre (77), Tawya-tat-u Monastery of Aung San Myo, Yangon.
On the invitation of Dayaka U Myint Htay of Star Company, I am now making a missionary tour to five countries: Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal.
First of all, may I take pleasure to thank U Sumanasara of Myanmar Monastery, and Myanmar Dayaka, Dayika of Singapore for their warm welcome and kind hospitality on my arrival in Singapore.
I am very pleased to inform you from my experience that, there is a common desire among the Myanmar Buddhists, who stay abroad for various reasons. This desire is to pay obeisance to the Buddhist monks.
On their return from abroad, those persons who visited our monastery, said to me, "Sayadaw, we find difficulty even to see a Buddhist monk in the foreign countries. Although our children were christened William, Michael, Margaret, etc. according to their culture, we prefer, indeed, the names traditionally given by our Buddhist monks."
Frankly speaking, I expect to hear from them about their own experiences of these countries. To my surprise, what I have heard from them is only their common desire of seeing a Buddhist monk. Therefore, may I take pride in the Myanmar Buddhists in whose heart still exist the spirit of Myanmar nationality, religion, and culture.
As you have already known, in the Theravada Buddhist country like Myanmar, it is not a difficult thing to visit a monastery and see the monks. It is, however, a high blessing for Myanmar Buddhists to see a monk in the foreign countries. You will remember that, in 'Mangala Sutta'(Discourse on Blessings), it is said: "Seeing the monks is a high blessing" (Samanananca dassanam)
On my missionary tour through Singapore, it is a great pleasure for me to propagate the Buddha-dhamma at the request of Myanmar physicians, Dr. Maung Maung Aye, Dr. U Aung Than, and other Dayaka, Dayika of Singapore.
Regarding the Discourse on the Dhamma, Dagagyi* Dr. Maung Maung Aye asked me, "Sayadaw, please send us to our last existence during your short stay here. We occasionally, from the cassette tapes, listen to the Dhamma preached by the Myanmar Sayadaws. Frankly speaking, we presume that the Dhamma has not ended yet." ( * Term of address used by Myanmar Buddhist Monk for men )
Is that right, Dagagyi!
On hearing his request, I have to think so: what have the Dagagyi listened are, really, the Dhamma expounded by the distinguished Dhamma-teachers of Myanmar in which the discourses on generosity (Dana), morality (Sila), mental development (Bhavana), etc. are given. It must, however, be noted that, when there is no interrelation between the sermon and the listener, the temperament (Carita) of the meditator and the subject of meditation, there will be a miss in a course of exercising the Dhamma.
Let us take the example of Ashin Sariputta who gave an unsuitable subject of meditation on foulness (Asubha) to a young monk, Suvannakara. The young monk, being disgusted by the foul corpse, felt unpleasant and could not realize the truth. When the Buddha knew that he was the son of a goldsmith, He gave him a golden lotus as a suitable subject of meditation. As the young monk observed the golden lotus, he found that it faded from moment to moment and lost its beauty at last. Consequently, he saw the impermanent nature of his mind and body, and soon realized the truth.
It shows that, except the Buddha, even the Arahants do not know the temperaments of the beings. That is why Dagagyi said, "In all the Dhammas listened, the Dhamma has not ended yet."
This enabled me to know what kind of Dhamma would this audience like to listen, thereupon I can consider a suitable sermon for you.
It is a widely known fact that, to preach a suitable sermon the Dhamma-teacher should first and foremost study his audience. What kind of audience is here? Look! It comprises educated persons: physicians, engineers, former military officers, scholars. These people are endowed with inquiring mind. They would like to analyse everything what I say in various methods: logical, scientific, humanistic and so on. So, it is not easy for me to preach a suitable sermon in front of them.
However, I invite you after the discourse, to raise your questions, to which I will try my best to answer.
In the Buddha Sasana, there are two kinds of invitation, namely,
Invitation by the omniscience of the Buddha (Sabbannuta-pavarana), and
Invitation by the knowledge of the disciples (Savaka-pavarana).
The first kind of invitation belongs only to the Buddha; only the Buddha could say: "I do answer any question " Yada kankhasi tada pucchi).
The second kind of invitation is concerned with the disciples of the Buddha; the disciples could only say: "I will answer any question that I can."
It is to be borne in mind that the Buddha said: "Any question.... I do answer"; but his disciples said: "Any question.... I will answer if I know."
As I am a disciple of the Buddha, my invitation should be of the second kind.
However, I have no fear to preach a sermon in front of you because I have the refuges:
I have the Buddha as my refuge ( Buddho me saranam),
I have the Dhamma as my refuge ( Dhamma me saranam);
I have the Sangha and my teacher-Mogok Sayadaw as my refuge ( Samgho me saranam acariyo me saranam).
I always keep in my heart the truth which is guarding me. If you keep the truth in your heart you will have no fear at all. Courage is, indeed, born of truth. A man of truth has no fear. Isn't it? "Yes, Sayadaw."
As have been said, you request me to send you to your last existence, to the end of the Dhamma. The Dhamma will not end at all if it starts from birth ( Jati). So I have to contemplate on the Buddha and Mogok Sayadaw to find a suitable sermon for you.
Now, I see it clearly. If the beginning of an existence is birth ( Jati ), then the end of it should be decay and death. (Jara-marana).
Let us refer to the 'Teaching of Dependent Origination' (Paticcasamuppada). According to this Teaching, the end of living beings is decay and death; the end of a human existence is decay and death. There is no more else. So, the discourse ends here because you have requested me to send you to your last existence. Indeed, nobody is free from decay and death.
In my vision, this country is materially developed, and the standard of living is high. However, to die is more difficult than to live. How will you face with death? Please show me anyone from you who will not die. Could you?
You should bear in mind that, a person will die a day independent of his high or low standard of living. A man of high rank will die; a rich man will die; a poor man will die; the physicians will die, the engineers will die; a man of family or a single one will die. All men are mortal. So, is there anyone who escapes from death?
Dependent on birth arise decay and death (Jatipaccaya jaramarana). For anyone who is reborn, there will inevitably follow decay and death. The Buddha expounded in 'Samyutta-nikaya' (Kindred Sayings): "No one reborn is immortal" (Natthijatassaamaranam). In this connection, only a person who has the experiences of insight meditation (Vipassana) could explain how to face with death with reference to the Law of Dependent Origination.
All right! Can you show me an immortal person? You are educated persons; there are also physicians among you. If you are immortal, you might have immortal medicine. Please give it to me! Will you share it with me? May I ask it from you because you are highly educated. However, you cannot give me. Isn't it?
Now, if you cannot give me, I will offer it to you. I brought it from Myanmar. Myanmar has immortal medicine. I am a monk who came from Myanmar. Please announce in the outstanding newspapers of Singapore that a Myanmar monk offers you the immortal medicine.
In Pali literature mortality or death is 'Marana\ 'Mata' or 'Marita'; but 'Amarita' in opposition to these words, is immortality or deathless. Etymologically, a Myanmar word 'Amyaik', which is derived from 'Amarita', is meant 'immortality.' Now, I will give you the immortal medicine, called 'Amyaik-say' in Myanmar, as a gift from Myanmar.
It is, however, to be noted that this medicine could save you only in the next becomings rather than in the present one. Medical treatment is not in time for you in your present life. What do I mean? You had been reborn, so you will die in this life. (Jatipaccayajaramarana). Now, you are too late for the right medical treatment.
Due to the wrong medicine which is diffusing throughout your mind and body, you will die in this life. Isn't it? Therefore, I can only give you the immortal medicine for your next becomings.
As have been said, "Immortality is Amarita, Amyaik." Indeed, immortality is Nibbana, deliverance from the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, the Paths (Maggangas) leading to the attainment of immortality (Nibbana) are immortal medicine. With respect to their stage of development, paths are classified into two levels, namely, Mundane Fivefold Path (Lokiya-pancangika-magga) and Supramundane Eightfold Path (Lokuttara-atihangika-magga). The Mundane Fivefold Path is composed of the following paths:
1. Right view ( Samma-ditthi)
2. Right thought ( Samma-sankappa )
3. Right effort ( Samma-vayama)
4. Right Mindfulness ( Samma-sati)
5. Right concentration ( Samma-samadhi)
Of five Paths, the first two are called Wisdom Path (Panna-magga), and the next three are, Concentration Path (Samadhi-magga). Here, the Wisdom Path plays the leading role.
The Fivefold Mundane Path is also called Vipassana-magga, Pancangika-magga, Pubbabhaga-magga, Purecarika-sammaditthi, etc. Whatever they may be called, the main thing is to apply them practically in practising Vipassana meditation, that is, to employ them as immortal medicine.
Here, you should bear in mind that, to an ordinary worldling only the Mundane Fivefold Path, i.e. the Insight Path (Vipassana-magga) is applicable in the course of insight meditation. Hence, it is the Forerunner Path (Pubbabhaga-magga) heralding the Noble Path (Ariya-magga), it may be called the initial portion of immortal medicine.
In Vipassana practice the Vipassana-magga functions as the next following consciousness (insight knowledge) which observes the perishing of the previous one, called Anicca (Impermanence). In this process, the preceding Anicca and the subsequent Magga go on concurrently without allowing any defilements (Kilesa) to creep in between them. It is the technique of killing the cause in order to prevent the effect. As the meditator keeps on meditating on the arising and perishing of the five aggregates* (Khandha), he gradually attains the two highly developed stages of Vipassana knowledge, namely, Yathabhuta-nana (Knowledge according to reality) and Nibbida-nana (Knowledge of disgust); and eventually he gains the Magga-nana (Path knowledge). (* l. Matter, 2. Feeling, 3. Perception, 4. Mental Formation, 5.Consciousness )
In this connection, it should be borne in mind that, the first two Vipassana knowledges, which sees the true nature of the ceaselessly arising and perishing of the khandhas, and which disgusts the nature of them, are still Mundane Path knowledges; only the Magga-nana which culminates in the cessation of the arising and perishing of the khandhas, and sees Nibbana, is Supramundane Path knowledge. However, the latter could not be attained without the development of the former.
With the attainment of the three stages of knowledge, the meditator becomes a Sotapanna, one who initially enters the stream leading to Nibbana - the immortality. At this stage there arises in the Sotapatti Path Consciousness the Supra-mundane Eightfold Path, including Moral Path (Sila-magga) i.e. right speech (Samma-vaca), right action (Samma-kammanta), and right livelihood (Samma-ajiva). A Sotapanna had already eliminated egoistic wrong view (Sakkaya-ditthi) and doubt (Vicikiccha); he had, by means of immortal medicine, cured himself the disease of defilements to a certain extent; so, he is free from the danger of falling into the woeful planes in the next existences. At the most there are only seven existences for him before he eventually attains the highest stage of Arahatta Magga (Path), Phala (Fruition), and the final state of Nibbana.
Now, you understand that, it is because of Vipassana that Magga and Phala are realized and attained. Vipassana has to be accomplished first. So, will you practise it by yourself or by my exhortation? You can realize the truth, only when you work by yourselves. I can show you only the way of compounding the immortal medicine.
In order to attain Magga and Phala you should practise insight meditation; you should constantly compound and employ the immortal medicine. For this reason, the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw repeatedly exhorted his followers to put the family affairs aside, and to deal with the realization of truth first.
"Ananda, to preach the Dhamma to the others for knowing the truth is the greatest way of expressing your sense of gratitude to them," said the Buddha to His cousin, Ananda. Therefore, it is important to preach the Dhamma to your parents, grand-parents, relatives and friends to know the truth. To send them to the teachers who can preach the truth, and to support them to be able to practise meditation is the best gift of gratitude.
Because of the wrong medicine, you have already had life; and because of your past good kammas you are now enjoying high standard of living. It is, however, to be borne in mind that, whatever may you be healthy, rich and first-rate, you will become old. You are becoming older and older at any thought-moment. In Pali word, old age is called Jara (Decay). Jara does not show mercy to anyone: rich or poor, king or beggar. After Jara there arises death (Marana). Hence, decay and death are impartial to all.
Whatever may he be a first-rate person, there may arise the thought for death in an old Buddhist's heart. Actually, it is not an easy case to die. Whenever a person thinks about death, he does not even know how to die.
When you go to bed, put your hand on your forehead, and rehearse yourselves that you are going about to die. As you rehearse how to die, you will feel yourselves that there is no death with pleasure. No one dies comfortably.
As a matter of fact, what we call life is only an ego-concept. In the ultimate sense, there is no life; only the physical and mental life faculties are real things There is neither ego, nor life, nor soul, nor spirit, nor individual, nor beings. They are conventional, not real.
So, no one dies comfortably. He has to suffer from stomach-ache, head-ache or any other pains at his death-moment.
In the Discourse on Dependent Origination, there are two kinds of Teaching, namely, Forward (Anuloma or Direct way) and Backward (Patiloma or Reverse order). Now, let us go to the end of dhamma referring to the Backward Teaching of Dependent Origination.
"Thus, there ceases the whole mass of suffering" ( Evametassa kevalassa dukkhak-khandhassa nirodho hoti ). It is the conclusion of the Backward Teaching of Dependent Origination. Now, let us step back: "On the cessation of birth cease decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair" (Jatinirodha jar a mar ana soka parideva dukkhadomanassupayasa nirujjhanti). Thus, we reach the end of Dhamma as the Teaching of Dependent Origination ends. Accordingly, the cycle of rebirths (Samsara) also comes to a stop.
It is, however, to be noted that, due to the wrong medicine you were born; and because of new birth you must face with old age, sickness and death. You have already known from the Forward Teaching of Dependent Origination: "Because of birth, decay and death arise." Decay and death are inevitable effects of birth; and sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are the incidental consequences of birth.
There is no partiality in the Dhamma.
Now, let us deal with decay, sickness and death. Decay is of two kinds: visible (Pakata-jara) and invisible ( Apakata-jara ). The whiteness of hairs, the break of tooth, the wrinkledness of skin are visible decay, while old age at every thought-moment is invisible decay. We can know the latter only from the Teaching of the Buddha. Do you know that you are becoming older and older at every thought-moment? And because of decay sickness arises.
Sickness and death may occur together or one after another. Sickness might say to death, "O Death! You wait for a moment. I do torture this old one." And it may torture for several months or years. After the tortures of sickness there comes the torture of death. Death is impartial. It sends us to the end of life.
As a matter of fact, death is impartial to all independent of their higher education or higher rank. Indeed, neither your higher education, nor higher rank, nor belongings could not be relied on, when you are facing with death; they are useful just for earning your livings. They are useless, meaningless, and are not dependable at your death-moment.
All right! Now I am fifty years old, and you may be round about fifty, sixty and seventy. Should we be still alive after the next fifty years? If not, where should we go? To the Mars, or to the Moon, or touring around the world. Think! Where should we go?
"To death, Sayadaw."
Do you think yourselves that, what would happen to you within the next fifty years? If you estimate that you will die only after the next fifty years, you will be satisfied with your long time of enjoyment in sensual pleasures. Otherwise, what will you do, if you will die tomorrow? You may have enough foods and clothes to survive for a day. However, it is difficult for you to face with death. You should be careful that, to die is more difficult than to live.
Perhaps your earnings are more than enough for the next fifty or hundred years. You could even leave a lot of properties to your wife and children. All right! Because you are moving in the cycle of rebirths, you will not escapes from decay and death. How will you face with death? By good deed or by evil deed? What kind of protection do you have?
In this connection, good deed is like a boat; and evil deed is like a burden. Performing a little good deed is like building a small boat; and committing a little evil deed is like carrying a light burden. So, would you like to build a big boat?; or would you like to carry a lot of burden? An over-loaded small boat will sink, whereas a lightly loaded big boat will be afloat. Accordingly, do you want to be afloat, or sink when you are facing with death?
"We want to be afloat, Sayadaw."
There should be no doubt that, when the living beings are at their death-moment, there appears in the last mental process anyone of the three kinds of objects: kamma, sign of kamma (Kammanimitta), or sign of destiny (Gattinimitta).
Kamma denotes good deed or evil deed performed throughout one's life; it is productive of a new birth in the next existence. If you had done a good deed, it will produce a good result; otherwise, if you had committed an evil deed, it will produce a bad result. Therefore, how will you face with death? By good deed or by evil deed? You should bear in mind that, it is a practical dhamma.
You should perform good deeds: generosity (Dana), morality (Sila), mental development (Bhavana), i.e. calm (Samatha) and insight meditation (Vipassana). They are productive of good results (Kusala anavajjasukha-vipaka-lakkhana). You should be generous; you should share your belongings not only with your family, but with others also.
You also need to observe the precepts and practise meditation. Know yourselves! Whether you have performed more good deeds or more evil deeds throughout your life. If you have done more good deeds, you will be afloat; if, more evil deeds, you will sink.
Being so compassionate on the people, the late Venerable Mingun Sayadaw exhorted them as follows:
Before you become old, start doing good deeds now;
Before you become sick, start doing good deeds now;
Before you die, start doing good deeds now.
According to the nature of Dhamma, as have been said, one of the deeds committed throughout your life will appear at your death-moment. Because of not doing what should be done, and doing what should not be done, you should not shed tears on your deathbed.
In the same manner, there could also arise a sign of kamma at the death-moment of the living beings. The sign of kamma refers to a material object or image taken in the process of performing good deed or evil deed. Thus, a person who had built a monastery may take one of the images of monastery, almsfood, or robes, etc. and a person who had built a pagoda may take one of the signs of pagoda, images of the Buddha, flowers, glass of water, or light, etc. as visible objects. On the contrary, a fisherman may see the dying fishes, fishing nets, or other instruments; and a butcher may see the heaps of skeleton or butcher's knife as one of the signs of evil deed.
Now, let us deal with the sign of destiny. The sign of destiny means a symbol of the realm into which the dying person is about to be reborn. Thus, a person heading for a human rebirth may see the red womb of a mother, a person heading for a heavenly rebirth may see celestial mansions, a person heading for a rebirth in hell may see black dog or vulture or crow or infernal fire, a person heading for an animal rebirth may see the deep forests or bushes or fields, and a person heading for a peta rebirth may see darkness or ocean or river. Because of serious illness on his deathbed a person may be unconscious or could even dream that he has been to the celestial abode or hell.
In Myanmar, the word "Kan-a-lyaw-swa" means "Because of kamma" (i.e. good deed or evil deed). At your death-moment, a sign of moral kamma or a symbol of happy realm would appear if you had done good deed; in opposition, a sign of immoral kamma or an image of woeful existence would arise if you had committed evil deed. The more had you done the good deeds, the more would you have chance to see the image of blissful plane resulting from your exercise in generosity, morality and mental development.
There should be no doubt that, those who come from the good side will go to the high planes; and those who waste their time on greed (Lobha), hate (Dosa), delusion (Moha), conceit (Mana) and wrong views (Ditthi) will fall into the woeful planes.
According to the Buddha-dhamma, there are three kinds of immoral actions: physical, verbal and mental. Respectively, killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct are physical actions; lying, slandering, harsh language and frivolous talk are verbal actions; and covetousness, illwill and wrong views are mental actions. You should bear in mind that these immoral actions constitute evil deeds (Kammas).
If a person commits these actions at every moment and everyday, the strongest one would appear at his death-moment. On the contrary, the image of happy existence would be seen by those who had done good deeds. See the example of 'Citta,' a wealthy person. The story runs that, six celestial chariots arrived at him at the moment of his death because of his past strong good deed. This story is not my own. The Buddha had given a lot of such kind of story. You should be confident that a person who had exercised generosity, morality and mental development would see the image of happy existence at his death-moment.
Buddha-dhamma is quite natural. It is more scientific than sciences. You should bear in mind that Buddha-dhamma is not the truth by 'word', but the truth by 'work.'
It is, however, to be noted that before you start the practical work, you should learn the Dhamma, you should listen to it. Now, you are listening to the theory of Dhamma (Pariyatti). Isn't it? You should not keep away from the theory before you make practice (Patipatti). Only when there is theory, there is practice; and only by practising, there is the realization of truth (Pativedha).
Giving the example of the late Venerable Sun Lun Sayadaw, some meditators asserted that theory is not necessary for meditation. You should be careful that it is not the right approach to meditation. You need theoretical instructions before you practise meditation. Even the late Venerable Sun Lun Sayadaw had to listen to the Dhamma theory before he realized the truth. Really, there could be no fruitful practice and realization without theory. Hence, a person who enters into Vipassana practice should be well versed in the ground work of fundamentals of the Buddha-dhamma.
However, you should not be satisfied with mere theory; you should make practice. You should practise by yourselves to be generous, moral, and mentally developed not by 'word', but by 'work'.
As you practise Vipassana, the moral or observing consciousness (insight knowledge) will diffuse all over your mind and body. Gradually, it will become stronger and stronger, and it will arise as a sign of destiny at the moment of your death. There should be no doubt that it will send you to the first-class existence. The practice of Vipassana is the only way which can forestall any latent danger of falling into woeful planes in the next rebirth.
So, there is a natural law: if you do first-class work, you will go up; if you do low-class work, you will go down. There is no other than you who will see the image of happy or woeful existence at your death-moment.
Look at a person who is going about to die. He has to suffer from pains intensely. Being surrounded by his children, he tries to open his eyes and looks at them tearfully. He is very fond of them. He does not want to die and leave them.
Really, there is greed (Lobha) arising in his mind. Greed is fire. If it is not contemplated upon and eliminated by insight knowledge, it will grow up. An insight meditator knows very well that, whenever greed arises it grows up. An intensified greed becomes attachment (Upadana). In the Teaching of Dependent Origination, it is said: "Dependent on craving (i.e. greed) arises attachment." (Tanhapaccaya upadanam)
A person may be strongly attached to himself, to his wife, to his children, to his relatives, to his properties, and to his prosperity. He is overwhelmed by the intense desire to possess and Clings to them. Without having the experience of Vipassana meditation, he cannot eliminate his strong attachment to them on his deathbed. Parents might think that they will not die a peaceful death before they can manage good livings for their children.
You should bear in mind that, the more a person has to manage peaceful livings for the others, the more he will not die a peaceful death. Actually, attachment, which is intrinsically composed of intense greed and wrong views (Ditthi), is impartial to all; it may occur in king, or beggar. Hence, it is a Dhamma-the ultimate reality, characteristic of which never varies in accordance with different types of the individual.
Strictly speaking, a king, who has not practised Vipassana meditation, may be reborn in a woeful plane; on the other hand, a beggar who has constantly practised Vippasana meditation, may reach happy plane in the next existence, or may even attain Nibbana in the present existence.
You should be careful that although there may be partiality in the worldly matters, the Dhamma is never partial in producing its result.
Sickness and death is impartial to you, whatever may you be of first-rate class. Actually, death occurs independent of classes: every person, either of rich class or of poor class, is mortal.
Conventionally, the word 'die' has synonyms with respect to the virtue or the class of the individual. For example, it is to say-the Buddha and Arahants ' entered Parinibbana' instead of saying 'died'. In Myanmar language, there are also special words used for the death of the king and other persons. Whatever may there be synonyms of 'die'- pass away, break up, disappear, end, etc.-according to the worldly affairs, death is classless according to the Dhamma.
Is there in the world any immortal medicine which can prevent us from death? Please search for it! There may be an outlet for a person who is on the deathbed. Anaesthetic may be used to relieve pains. But it is not the right way of curing death; it is the way of causing him to be unconscious, unknowing, ignorant. It is the wrong way that makes him missing the chance of contemplating on the arising and perishing of unpleasurable feeling (Dukkha-vedana) in body. If he passes away with ignorance (Avijja) or delusion (Moha) that clouds the knowledge of right view i.e. Vipassana knowledge, he should be reborn in the animal kingdom.
On the other hand, if meditation on feeling (Vedana) is not taken on his deathbed, a person will suffer from many pains: headache, stomachache, etc. As the aggregates (Khandha) exist, the feeling does arise. Accordingly, the undesirable consciousness will occur in a person who does not contemplate on the arising and perishing of unpleasurable feeling in body. This consciousness is no other than the hate-rooted consciousness accompanied by unpleasurable feeling (Domanassa vedana) in mind; it leads to the seeing of evil sign of destiny such as infernal fires or black dog. It is sure that the person is heading for a rebirth in hell, if he passes away with hate (Dosa).
A story from Sri Lanka runs that, as an Arahant's father - an old hunter was about going to die, he, in a badly frightened manner, cried, "Oh son! Drive them off! The black dogs are coming." He saw the coming of the black dogs as the evil sign of destiny due to his past evil deed of hunting. Knowing the dreadful situation of his father, the Arahant, by way of preaching the Dhamma, changed the evil sign of his father. Consequently, the old hunter saw the image of the angels calling him and said, "Oh, Son! Your step-mothers are coming."
In this connection, the fright at seeing the image of the black dogs is the unpleasurable feeling which is associated with anger or hate. Whatever may there be any kind of displeasure-dissatisfaction with oneself, or with one's wife, or with one's children, or with others-it is only one thing, i.e. hate.
Therefore, you should be careful that, hate may occur at one's deathbed, if the unpleasurable feeling is not contemplated upon. Accordingly, the image of black dog and infernal fires will also appear; you will see them by yourselves. The Buddha utters only the truth (Ekavacanam).
A person who dies of ignorance or delusion may head for a rebirth in animal kingdom; of hate, in hell; of greed, in the world of petas. So, at a person's death-moment, there is rivalry between the defilements (Kilesa) - greed, hate and delusion.
In this rivalry, the strongest one may preponderate the others, and determines the new birth of the dying person. When hate is strong, it predominates in the determination of new birth, saying, "Now you are my man. Come with me!" and sending him to hell. In the same manner, greed will bring the dying person to the realm of petas; and also delusion, to animal kingdom.
So, it is a pity for those who lack Vipassana knowledge on their deathbed.
As a matter of fact, all living beings have to follow their good deed or evil deed. The Dhamma functions according to its natural law. Because of hate, a person is ignorant, that is, he does not see the truth; and because of ignorance, there arises hate, that is, the truth is clouded. Hate and ignorance arise together; they are co-existent and mutually related to one another. The same holds good to greed and ignorance.
It is ignorance that clouds the person to know falsely about hell, and to perceive hell flower as heaven flower.
A story about 'Mittavindaka' runs that a certain person - Mittavindaka, on his arrival in hell, saw a blood-bleeding head of a person who because of insulting his parents, was suffering in hell; and having wrongly perceived it as a beautiful heaven flower, he had done a great mistake to accept it, due to his past evil deed. This story tells us about the evilness of ignorance.
You should bear in mind that, those who lack Vipassana knowledge need to register themselves as the unwise who like to adorn the hell flower.
So, you should be able to differentiate between hell flower and heaven flower. You should take your name off the list of hell. If you are involving in this list, you will miss the Teaching of the Buddha, the Dhamma of immortality. To be born in Theravada Buddhist Country of Myanmar is a good chance for you to be able to escape from hell.
The late Maha Thera Ledi Sayadaw said: "Do try while you have chance! Otherwise, there is no fool other than you who did a great loss."
As have been said, the immortal medicine is the Paths (Maggangas), which lead to the attainment of Nibbana, immortality. It is, however, to be noted that, in the present existence you are poisoned due to the wrong medicine. The poisons-greed, hate, and delusion are diffusing throughout your mind and body. So you should practise Vipassana meditation in order to remove them.
When you are practising Vipassana meditation, it is the same as, you are drinking the immortal medicine; and when you are reciting the Discourse on Dependent Origination, it is the same as, you are using the immortal medicine as ointment. You may employ it in two ways in order to wear the poisons off. Consequently, you would gradually escape from death.
Now, I would like to tell you about the story of a person who had wisely prepared for death. You may know that there was a well-known minister called U Hpo Hlaing during the reign of King Mindon, and later his son King Thibaw of Yatanabon City (now Mandalay).
Once, the minister was sick. A month before his death he called his friend U Hpo Tu of Sagaing Town and said, "Maung Tu, you and I are friends. From this day onwards you don't call me minister, but call me Hpo Hlaing as you had done in our childhood. We will study and recite together like schoolboys in our Sayadaw's monastery. So, you stay together with me for one month. I will send two hundred coins to your family for living. Don't let my wife and children enter our room. Help me!" So, the two friends studied together, talked about their past events with enjoyment, recited the Buddhist Scriptures loudly as they had done in their school-days in the monastery.
After one month, U Hpo Hlaing said to his friend, "Maung Tu, I want to sleep early tonight. I also want to listen the Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta. ( Discourse on Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth) You recite it and put me to sleep. Awaken me at three o'clock in the morning."
Then, U Hpo Hlaing went to bed. U Hpo Tu did according to the desire of his friend. He tried to awaken the minister at three o'clock in the morning. But he found that the minister had passed away.
See! What a good example of preparation for death had U Hpo Hlaing done! In order to eliminate the attachment for his wife and children, he did not allow them to enter his room before his death; and to renounce the economic and political affairs of the country, he innocently behaved himself like a monastery schoolboy.
You should be understood that, preparation for death does not mean preparation of coffin and memorial wreath. It means performing of wholesome deeds, that is, practising Vipassana meditation. Before you die, you should exercise the kind of generosity that cuts the round of existence (Vatta). So, I exhort you to wisely prepare for your death in order to be immortal in the next existence.
The discourse expounded today deals with preparation for death. To challenge the death one should be generous. In Buddha-dhamma generosity is of two kinds: generosity that cuts the round of existence (Vivatta-nissita-dana), and generosity that longs for the round of existence (Vatta-nissita-dana).
Of the two kinds of generosity, you should exercise the former one. If you exercise the latter one, the process will be as follows: "Dependent on ignorance arise kammic formations (Avijjapaccaya sankhara), namely, meritorious volitional formations (Punnabhi sankhara), and imperturbable or unshakable volitional formations (Anenjabhi-sankhara)." It is because of not knowing the Dukkha (suffering) of becomings in the higher planes that, good deeds such as generosity (Dana), morality (Sila), mental development (Bhavana) are performed with a view to becoming Devas or Brahmas in the next existence.
Again, "Dependent on kammic formations arises consciousness" (Sankharapaccaya vinnanam).
Thus; * Dependent on sensual meritorious volitional formations arise sense-sphere resultant consciousnesses;
* Dependent on fine-material meritorious volitional formations arise fine-material-sphere resultant consciousnesses;
* Dependent on imperturbable volitional formations arise immaterial-sphere resultant consciousnesses.
In this connection, you should bear in mind that 'resultant consciousness' denotes 'rebirth consciousness.' The beginning of every existence is rebirth consciousness. As you have already known, when there is rebirth, death will follow inevitably. So, all the planes of existence - blissful sensuous, fine-material and immaterial, are not free from death. You should bear in mind that, not only men are mortal, Devas and Brahmas are also mortal. For this reason, you should not challenge the death by means of the above stated volitional formations, that is to say, the kind of generosity that longs for the round of existence.
According to the Noble Truths (Ariya Sacca), the Forward Teaching of Paticcasamuppada deals with the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha-sacca), i.e. the ceaseless arising and perishing of the Khandhas - the mortality; and the Truth of Origin of Suffering (Samudaya-sacca), i.e. Tanha and other defilements - the mortal medicine or the diseases. Without eradicating the latter the former will go on forever in the cycle of rebirths.
Death ceases on the cessation of birth
If so, you should not follow the above process: "Dependent on ignorance arise kammic formations; Dependent on kammic formations arises consciousness." You should, however, follow the Teaching: "On the complete fading out and cessation of ignorance cease kammic formations" (Avijjayatveva asesaviraganirodha sankhara-nirodho). "On the cessation of kammic formations ceases consciousness" (i.e. rebirth consciousness) (Sankharanirodha vinnananirodho). This is, really, the Teaching that challenges the death; it is also the discourse on immortality.
In this connection, you should understand that the cessation of rebirth consciousness is nothing more than Nibbana, the immortality. If so, "On the cessation of feeling ceases craving" (Vedananirodha tanhanirodho). When you do not hanker after your family and wealth, the craving ceases. As the discourse proceeds, "On the cessation of the kammically active process of existence ceases birth" (Kammabhavanirodha jatinirodho); and "On the cessation of birth cease decay-and-death" (Jatinirodha jaramarananirodho), the inevitable effects of birth, and also, cease sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair which are the incidental consequences of birth.
Thus does this whole aggregate of suffering (Dukkha) ceases. Here, you should understand that, as the knowing or wisdom (Vijja) or right understanding (Samma-ditthi) or Magga-nana arises, the unknowing or ignorance (Avijja) ceases; and on its cessation, kammic formations, consciousness, mind-and-matter, six sense bases, contact, etc. cease; and finally the whole mass of suffering ceases. According to the Noble Truth, the Backward Teaching of Paticcasamuppada deals with the Truth of Cessation of Suffering (Nirodha-sacca), i.e. non-arising and non-perishing of the Khandhas-the immortality; and the Truth of Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering (Magga-sacca), i.e. knowing the ceaseless arising and perishing of the khandhas or suffering - the immortal medicine.
No one dies because he is free
As I have said, the immortal medicine is available in Myanmar. The Buddha found it over 2500 years ago. Staying abroad for a long time, you are strange to it; you have forgotten to use it. You should remember that, the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw was so compassionate on the people, and with a view to redeeming them from the danger of falling into the woeful planes, repeatedly exhorted them to use the immortal medicine, that is to say, to meditate upon the arising and perishing of the aggregates (khandhas) by way of employing the Mundane Fivefold Path or Vipassana Path. However, they hesitated to use it, giving reason, "We have no time yet."
You should be careful that death does not wait until you have free time to practise Vipassana meditation. No one dies because he is free. In the cycle of rebirths we had faced with death again and again, even though we were busy, Isn't it?
Way of compounding immortal medicine
Now, I am going to provide you with the way of compounding immortal medicine. Then, you should compound it by yourselves, and use it, drink it, whether you like it or not.
You have already known that there are six sense doors (Dvara), namely, eye-, ear-, nose-, tongue-, body-, and mind-door. As you have eye-door, there might occur visible form. In this connection, the Teaching runs: "Dependent on eye and visible form arises eye-consciousness (Cakkhunca paticca rupeca uppqjjati cakkhu-vinnanam)" When there is the impact of 'eye' and 'visible form', there arises eye-consciousness'.
Thus, the process will be as follows:
* The combination of eye, visible form and eye-consciousness gives rise to contact (Phassa);
* Dependent on contact there arises feeling (Vedana);
* Dependent on feeling there arises craving (Tanha),
* Dependent on craving there arises attachment (Upadana);
* Dependent on attachment there arises kammic existence (Kamma-bhava), namely, physical action (Kaya-kamma), verbal action (Vaci-kamma), mental action (Mano-kamma);
* Dependent on kammic existence there arises birth (Jati);
* Dependent on birth there arise decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Thus, there arises the whole mass of suffering (Dukkha).
The same holds good to the arising of ear-, nose- , tongue-, body-, mind-consciousness dependent on their respective sense doors and objects.
The above-mentioned is the Teaching of Dependent Origination of groups of existence (Khandha Paticca Samuppada Desana) as expounded by the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw.
Actually, Khandha Paticca Samuppada is nothing but your own self, your own Khandhas (i.e. mind and matter), wherein the endless cyclic order of arising and passing away of Khandhas (i.e. Dukkha-sacca) is shown under the law of cause and effect. In this connection, Path (Magga) is the only Dhamma (i.e. immortal medicine) which can break the links of Paticcasamuppada and when there is no relinking it is called Nibbana (i.e. immortality).
So, you should fully understand Paticcasamuppada before you enter into actual meditation.
As have been said, when the eye-consciousness sees the visible form, there also arises feeling (Vedana) that feels the taste of the white, brown, beautiful, ugly object, etc. Here, if the object is beautiful and desirable, there will arise craving dependent on the pleasurable feeling; and because of craving there will successively follow attachment, kammic existence, etc.; thus the process is endless. So you should cut the link between Vedana and Tanha, you should not allow the Tanha to spring up. "And, how could you cut the link between Vedana and Tanha ?"
"By the Fivefold Path, Sayadaw."
Right! You should employ the Vipassana Path to cut the link between Vedana and Tanha. This is the way of compounding and using the immortal medicine.
According to Mogok Sayadaw's Way the most suitable place of breaking all the links of Paticcasamuppada is the link between Vedana and Tanha. As the Tanha ceases there will not follow the attachment, kammic existence, etc.; thus the cyclic process comes to a stop.
Do not allow the impulsions to arise
In the Buddhist Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine, the above stated process is given theoretically in detail. According to Abhidhamma, when the impingement of eye-base and visible form takes place, there arise, successsively in the mental process (Vithi), the following consciousnesses: past bhavanga (life-continuum), vibrational bhavanga, arrest bhavanga, five-door adverting, eye-consciousness, receiving, investigating, determining, seven impulsions (Javana), and two registrations.
So, there are four preceding conscious-nesses before the arising of the eye-consciousness; and the subsequent ones function as follows:
receiving consciousness receives the object,
investigating consciousness investigates the object,
determining consciousness determines it.
Accordingly, there arise unwholesome impulsions accompanied by displeasure, when the visible form is ugly or undesirable; but, unwhole-some impulsions accompanied by pleasure arise, when the object is beautiful or desirable.
In this process, craving or greed arises dependent on the pleasurable feeling of seeing the desirable object; it is associated with greed-rooted impulsion. For this reason, the Buddha and the noble persons say: "Whenever you see anything, note only that you see (Ditthe ditthamattam). Do not allow the greed-rooted or hate-rooted impulsions arise."
Not-observing, not-seeing, not-knowing
Now, you are clear that pleasurable feeling of seeing the desirable object gives rise to craving; intensified craving for it is attachment; attempting to obtain it is kammic existence. As the Teaching runs, dependent on kammic existence arises birth; and because of greed there will follow peta-rebirth.
In the same manner, unpleasurable feeling of seeing the undersirable object causes hate, thereafter follow attachment and kammic existence.
And because of hate there will follow rebirth in hell.
When a person does not observe the arising of eye-consciousness, when he does not see it, and when he does not know it, there arises ignorance which is followed by attachment and kammic existence. So, because of ignorance he may be reborn in the animal kingdom.
You are addicted to mortal medicine
In this way, due to the kamma of the death-moment, new birth in hell, in peta world, and in animal kingdom may arise in the next existence. In this connection, who is trying to attain the new birth? Indeed, you are addicted to mortal medicine, even though you know that, whenever there is new birth, there is death again. As the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw said, you are taking pleasure in the cycle of birth and death.
Now, you should understand that you have used the wrong medicine throughout the cycle of rebirths. As you have already known, dependent on ignorance arise kammic formations; and because of kammic formation arises rebirth consciousness. Because of using the wrong medicine, i.e. the origin of suffering of the past, you get the five aggregates i.e. suffering in this existence. Because of the five aggregates you must die again.
Law of cause and effect
To be immortal, you should by way of Paths contemplate upon whatever you see, whatever you hear, whatever you smell, whatever you taste, whatever you touch, whatever you think. This means you should employ the immortal medicine. And, how could you employ it?
You have already known that, when the impingement of eye and visible form takes place, there arises eye-consciousness. In this process, it is to be noted that the visible form is neither man, nor woman, nor person, nor beings. The same holds good to the eye. Actually, because of the impact of the two material phenomena, there arises an eye-consciousness, a mental phenomenon. If there is no person, nor beings in the two material phenomena, may they exist in the eye-consciousness?
When you know that there is no 'I', 'he', 'she', 'person' or 'beings', who sees in the eye-consciousness, there ceases the egoistic wrong view (Sakkaya-ditthi). You should be careful that all wrong views are the seeds of hell; they, under different heads, send us to death again and again in the cycle of rebirths.
As you observed, you come to know that eye is matter, and visible form is also matter; you can no more say that matter is I, or man, or woman; you see only the matter. If so, their effect, i.e. eye-consciousness is also neither I, nor man, nor woman. When you know that there is no Creator who creates the effect to arise, there ceases doubt (Vicikiccha) in your mind. Actually, there are no other phenomena than cause and effect. You should remember that the relation between cause and effect is called the Law of Dependent Origination.
No mind-and-matter=No death
Now, you are clear that Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada) is no more than your mind and matter or your khandhas which are designated causes and effects. When you see mind and matter as they really are, you have already eliminated the egoistic wrong view, that is to say, you have drunk the immortal medicine to a certain extent.
It is to be borne in mind, that when you observe the eye-consciousness by the observing consciousness (insight knowledge), it has already passed away or disappeared. So eye-consciousness is impermanent; what is impermanent, is suffering; what is impermanent, and suffering, is non-self. So the arising of eye-consciousness bears the characteristics (Lakkhana) of impermanence (Anicca), suffering (Dukkha) and non-self (Anatta); and these characteristics could be perceived only by Path Knowledge or Insight Knowledge.
Therefore, the knowledge that sees the true nature of ceaselessly arising and perishing of the eye-consciousness (i.e. aggregate) as impermanence, suffering and non-self is called Path Knowledge or Insight Knowledge according to reality (Yathabhuta-nana). Gradually, this knowledge is inevitably followed by the knowledge of arising and perishing of mind and matter, i.e. aggregates as repugnant and disgusting (Nibbida-nana), the knowledge of the path leading to the termination or cessation of arising and perishing. As have been said, these two stages of Mundane Path Knowledge are very essential in Vipassana meditation.
If you, after gaining the Nibbida-nana, keep on meditating on the arising and perishing of the Khandhas, eventually your meditation culminates in the cessation of the arising and perishing of the khandhas, thereby you would attain Magga-nana, the supramundane Path knowledge, i.e. Sotapatti-magga-nana, the first stage in Ariya-magga.
There are three stages yet to attain after becoming a Sotapanna, i.e. Sakadagami (Once Returner), Anagami (Non-returner), Arahant (Perfect One).
It is to be borne in mind that, only when there exist the arising and perishing of mind and matter, there is mortality; otherwise, there is no mortality. Eventually, the cessation of arising and perishing of mind and matter is immortality-Nibbana.
When there is no mind and matter, there is no death; and when there is no death, there is Nibbana, i.e. immortality, Amata, Amarita. Immortal medicine is, indeed, the path leading to the cessation of suffering (Dukkha). Now, I have given you the immortal medicine, which is not yet produced by the modern scientists in the world.
You should constantly use the immortal medicine, that is to say, you should, 'incessantly and constantly' observe the arising and perishing of your mind and matter, or your khandhas, especially your Citta (consciousness) according to Mogok Sayadaw's way, while you are walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. The more you observe, the more you become repugnant and disgusting of the arising and perishing of mind and matter, thereupon arises knowledge of disgust of the five aggregates. In fact, it is Insight Wisdom (Vipassana-panna) which leads you from the state of arising and perishing (Sankhata) to the state of non-arising and non-perishing (Asankhata).
It is to be borne in mind that, when there is arising and perishing, there is mind and matter; when there is no arising and perishing, there is Nibbana-the immortality; and the knowledge that knows the cessation of the arising and perishing is the Supramundane Path Knowledge (Magga-nana), the most effective immortal medicine.
With reference to the Four Noble Truths (Catu Ariya Sacca), the arising and perishing of the khandhas is Dukkha-sacca, knowing thereof is Magga-sacca, extermination of Tanha and other defilements is the cessation of Samudaya-sacca, and non-appearance of rebirth, decay and death is Nirodha-sacca. Hence, Vipassana meditation on the arising and perishing of the khandhas covers the whole of the Four Noble Truths expounded by the Buddha.
Therefore, Vipassana meditation should be practised as soon as possible. Actually, hearing and reciting the Dhamma - the Discourse on Paticca-samuppada is like using the immortal medicine as ointment; and practising the Vipassana meditation according to the Dhamma is like using it as oral medicine.
A gift of dhamma
Now, I have given you the immortal medicine, compounded by the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw according to the Buddha's way, as a gift of Dhamma during my missionary tour in Singapore. It may be regarded as a gift of gratitude to you. I urge you to visit the meditation centres and take meditation practice, when you arrive in Myanmar. You are also welcome to our Mogok centre where meditation retreats are given throughout the year. Before conclusion, may I take pleasure to present you a verse in order to easily remember the meaning of Paticcasamuppada:
"There is ignorance in your mind,
Because of it, volitional activities are committed;
Accordingly, arises consciousness adding to a house of mind-and-matter,
Therein the six glass doors of sense bases are equipped.
In contact with the six objects, there spring up the six consciousnesses,
Which enjoy the desirable aspect of the objects respectively;
Being enjoyed, they crave for and attach to them,
Thereupon performing kamma again and again to possess.
Because of kammic existence arises birth-the new mind and matter,
Followed by old age, sickness, and death-leaving a corpse in a coffin."
Bearing this verse in your mind, and referring to the Forward and Backward Teaching of Dependent Origination, may you practise insight meditation and propagate Buddha Sasana in a suitable time and place. Now, let us conclude the discourse with the following recitation:
May Buddha Sasana spread all over the world!
May Buddha Sasana be bright as sunlight!
(Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu)