Translated into English by Sayadaw U Nyana, Patamagyaw of Masoeyein Monastery
Edited by The English Editorial Board
Note to the electronic version:
This electronic version is reproduced directly from the printed version
The text is an English translation from the original Burmese. No attempt has
been made to to change any of the English phraseology. The reason for putting
this book into electronic media is that the book is out of print and the text
has been found very a valuable source of inspiration to those practising Vipassana
meditation, despite using English language which is somewhat archaic.
This electronic version is reproduced directly from the printed version The text is an English translation from the original Burmese. No attempt has been made to to change any of the English phraseology. The reason for putting this book into electronic media is that the book is out of print and the text has been found very a valuable source of inspiration to those practising Vipassana meditation, despite using English language which is somewhat archaic.
Veneration to Him, the Most Exalted, the Purified, the Supremely Enlightened Buddha.
Phenapindupamam rupam, vedana, pupphulupama, Maricikipama sanna, sankhara kadalupama, Mayupamanca vinnanam, desitadiccabandhuna.
The Omniscient Buddha declared: 'The corporeality-group resembles a heap of foam which is devoid of soul-entity and essence; the feeling-resembles water bubbles which are devoid of soul-entity and essence; the perception-group resembles a mirage which is devoid of soul-entity and essence; the group of mental formations resembles the trunk of a banana tree which is devoid of soul-entity and essence; and the consciousness-group resembles deceitful appearances produced by a magician, and which are devoid of soul-entity and essence.'
Ajjhattika--Six Somatic Bases Bahira--Six External Bases Eye Visible Object Ear Sound Nose Odour Tongue Taste Body Body-contact Mind-base Mental-object (manayatana) (dhammayatana)Sunnogamo sunnogamoti kho bhikkhave channetam ajjhattikanam ayata-nanamadhivacanam; cakkhayatanassa, sotayatanassa, ghanayatanassa, jivhayatanassa kayayatanassa, manayatanassa, gamaghatakacora ti kho bhikkhave channetam bahiranam ayatanam, ruipayatananam, saddayatananam, gandhayatananam, rasayatananam, photthabbayatananam, dhammayatananam.
'Monks, the six somatic bases--the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind-base or consciousness (manayatana) are figuratively termed "a ruined village". The six external bases--visible objects, sound, odour, taste, body-impressions and mental-objects are figuratively termed "gangs of robbers who plunder the village."'
eye visible object eye-consciousness ear sound ear-consciousness nose odour nose-consciousness tongue taste tongue-consciousness body body-contact body-consciousness mano-dhatu (mental-element) dhamma-dhatu (mental-object-element) mano-vinnana-dhatu (mind-consciousness-element)
According to the declaration 'attano sabhavam dharetiti-dhatu', as these eighteen psycho-physical elements never act according to the wishes of beings, but function according to their respective natures, they are termed dhatu (elements).
The Buddha said:
Thus there are six triads making in all the eighteen psycho-physical elements.
Here, photthabba means the combination of pathavi (the element of extension), tejo (the element of kinetic-energy) and vayo (the element of motion).
Dhamma-dhatu (mental-object elements) comprise all kammically whole- some, kammically unwholesome and kammically neutral phenomena excepting the former seventeen psycho-physical elements.
Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called dukkha-sacca. It means that they are dangers much to be feared by the wise. As all causally-conditioned physical and mental phenomena have the above four characteristics, they are all dukkha-sacca.
Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called samudaya-sacca. It means that this samudaya-sacca really helps the growth of all kinds of suffering. As tanha satisfies the above four characteristics, it is all samudaya-sacca.
Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called nirodha-sacca. Nibbana alone has the above four characteristics, so it is all nirodha-sacca.
Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called magga-sacca. Only the Eightfold Noble Path has the above four characteristics. So it is magga-sacca.
Any causally-conditioned phenomemon burdens any being who clings to it in the following manner: in the beginning, it burdens the being by way of sankhata, in the middle by way of santapa, and at the end by way of viparinama. These three methods of burden in the beginning, in the middle and at the end, manifest themselves as the state of pilanattha.
Therefore, that Brahma's body is known as dukkha-sacca inas much as it has the four characteristics--pilanattha, sankhatatta, santapattha and viparinamattha.
Anything that is performed compulsorily is dukkha. If, without prac- tising dana and sila, a being were able to arise in the deva-plane after his death, or if he were able to arise in the Brahma plane without prac- tising calm, who would care to perform such wholesome deeds as dana, sila and bhavana.?
Out of three ways of burdening at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, the burden of sankhata is very heavy for Brahmas. Because they are able to bear the heavy burden of sankhata, the santapa in the middle becomes a little lighter for them. The burden of viparinama also comes after a long time. Their life-span is calculated in terms of kappa (world-cycles).
In the case of devas in the six deva-worlds, the burden of sankhata is not heavy. The practice of dana and sila is a thousand times easier than the practice of jhana and bhavana. As the burden of sankhata is not heavy and as kilesa have not even faded, the burden of santapa is very heavy when one becomes a deva. The fire of passion and sensous lust arisen out of the six sense-doors burns those devas up to the end of their lives. The remaining fire of defilements also burns when the time is ripe. The burden by way of viparinama also comes very quickly. Their span of life is calculated in terms of years, months and days. The life- span of the devas is like the wink of an eye when compared to that of Brahmas. Though there is said to be pleasures and enjoyments in the whole of the six deva-worlds, all these are fires of kama and raga that are burning them.
Thus the khandhas of six deva-worlds burden the devas in four ways and as the burden is manifest it is clearly dukkha-sacca.
Thus the burdens of santapa for human beings, in the round of samsara are various and heavy. The body of human beings burdens them in such a manner by way of santapa.
Thus at the embryonic stage immediately formed after conception a being has the appearance of a little drop of butter-oil scum attached to a fine woollen thread. Then follows the abbuda (an oval shaped tiny mass), then the pesi (the lump of flesh), then the ghana (clot), then the pasakha (off-shoots), in which later stage arms, legs, etc., are forming. In the whole of the round of rebirths, a being arises and perishes countless times in any one of the above-mentioned stages of life. Thus khandha of men burden them in the four ways, and so this is purely dukkha-sacca.
Those who arise in hell will have their bones, nerves, flesh, hearts, lungs, brains, etc., all red-hot and tongues of fire will spring out of their skins. Thus they will remain for hundreds of thousands, billions, trillions, and decillions of years, experiencing intolerable heat. So long as their resultant effects are not exhausted they will not be free from such misery. In like manner there are myriads of beings who are arising in the various lower worlds, and who are suffering there for decillions and decillions of years.
(The Samvega-Vatthu also describes the santapa-dukkhe relating to the petas, ghosts, asuras (demons) and animals.)
Here the explanation given by the Sammohavionodani Commentary may be pointed out. For beings wandering in samsara the number of existences in which they live up to the principles of virtue are comparatively few. Most of the existences are in the lower worlds where beings prey upon one another.
Even if they happen to be reborn in the world of men for many a time, in one out of a hundred of such existences would they be able to encounter the Buddha-Dhamma and practise it. They would hold wrong views or be vicious people in a greater number of existences. Evil conduct in deeds, words and thought done by any being in an existence is incalculable. So, among worldly beings existing in the present life, any one being possesses myriads of evil actions done by him in the innumerable past existences that could drag him to hell.
Those beings who are destined to arise in the hells, in the peta world and in the asura world also possess myriads of old accumulated unwwholesome volitional actions; and the same is the case with those who arise in the planes of devas and Brahmas.
If a being who dies from the world of men, the deva plane or the Brahma plane happens to be reborn for a time in hell, all the unwholesome kamma done by him in his past existences will have the opportunity to play their parts. One evil kamma after another would cause him to be reborn continually in the four lower worlds and he would not have an opportunity to arise in the happy course of existence in another one thousand, ten thousand or a hundred thousand existences. A being bound to be reborn in the lower worlds by having performed a comparatively small amount of evil action, could arise there continuously for a great number of aeons due to his successive past kamma. There are decillions and decillions of such beings who become 'rooted in hell' and who have no opportunity to arise in the happy course of existence.
Here ends the brief exposition as to how the beings belonging to four lower worlds are burdened by way of way of santapa and viparinama.
This also explains how the khandha of a being in any one existence is burdened by sankhata, santapa and viparinama.
Wise people regard all these as 'unsatisfactoriness of life', because one has no chance to escape from the sphere of suffering; has not found a way out, has to encounter such suffering in his future births, has no opportunity to practise the Buddha-Dhamma in this present birth and has to take the trouble of tilling the soil, etc. To these wise people all are the same, whether one loses his property by spending for himself or by its being destroyed by fire or water. Ultimately they regard the sensuous pleasures found in the world of men, the planes of devas and Brahmas--in the thirty-one planes of existence as unsatisfactoriness of life.
Those foolish people who have no such kind of understanding would feel sorry if their properties were destroyed by fire or water, because they could not use them for themselves, but they would not be sorry if their property lessened owing to their own expenditure according to their will and pleasure. They would feel quite satisfied with that. So long as one's heart does not burn at such wastage and deterioration, one will never have a chance of escaping such suffering. Only when one's mind is moved at that, will one have a chance to do so. Then only will one be able to realise the groups of existence found in the world of men, the deva plane and the Brahma plane as sufferinng, and not otherwise. Only if a person clearly discerns the various grades of advantages enumerated above, will he be able to realise as suffering all the days, months, years and world cycles he has wasted in many of his past existences without reaping any benefit, just like throwing water into the sand. This is the answer to the argument.
The above is the exposition how the crops which are produced and exhausted yearly burden a cultivator in three ways: sankhata, santapa and viparinama.
Relying on this principle, discriminate and understand how a being is burdened by various kinds of suffering for days and months continuously. Ponder over the matter and understand how in this cosmos, earning wealth for one's livelihood and spending money on food and clothing are burdening in three ways. Extend this to the cases of men, devas and Brahmas who have enjoyed sensuous pleasures in their respective planes, by virtue of their having done wholesome volitional actions in respect of gifts, morality and mental development in wandering in samsara.
When sound comes into contact with the ear-organ, it is pleasurable to the ear. When the sound, is removed the sense pleasure to the ear disappears.
The same principle holds good in the cases of nose and odour, tongue and taste, body and tangible object, mental element and mind object-element.
Corresponding to the six sense-objects, there are six kinds of craving: craving for visible objects, for sounds, odour, taste bodily-impression, mental impressions; and also six kinds of feeling: feeling associated with seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, bodily-lmpression and mental-impression.
To feed the six kinds of craving, six kinds of sense-objects have to be kept in readiness. Those who are following these sensuous pleasures cannot get rid of them. These sense objects are also subject to decay. So feelings such as joy and mentally agreeable feeling burden the beings in all their existences by sankhata, santapa and viparinama. They are not able to get out of this pit of suffering for many existences and world-cycles. Nor are they able to obtain the opportunity of practising the Dhamma which can lead them to deliverance. They only deviate from this course and are tempted to follow the previously mentioned disadvantageous ways.
The above is the exposition as to how beings are continuously burdened by the five groups of existence at every hour and at every moment. Highly obvious facts have been sought and set out in the above exposition of viparinama dukkha.
I shall now briefly explain the viparinama dukkha alone. In this samsara, suffering in the four lower worlds is intense. Those who know of it greatly dread to fall there. As for those who do not know of it, they have to suffer there for their ignorance.
Unwholesome volitional actions which are the seeds of birth in the lower worlds cling to sakkaya-ditthi (the belief in a permanent personality). When this sakkaya-ditthi becomes strong, these unwholesome volitional actions become powerful. When they fade away, those bad kamma also fade away. When this sakkaya-ditthi ceases, those kamma also cease. For example, in introducing a light into a room, the flame may be compared to evil kamma. When the fire is strong, the light becomes bright, and when the fire becomes weak, the light also becomes dim. When the fire dies out, the light also disappears.
Although the beings with sakkaya-ditthi are bound for hell, they may know to some extent the intensity of suffering in the lower worlds, and they may perform evil actions, simply because they are tempted by their hellish element. What can be said then of those people who are either utterly ignorant of this or who maintain false views? Their hellish element will play its part completely.
While wandering in samsara, there are very few existences where a being can understand what evil actions are and the dangers of the lower worlds. There are a great number of existences where they do not know about it, or where they maintain false views. A person in one thousand of his existences might encounter only one existence where he could differentiate between good and evil. The explanation given so far is a point to judge how much greater a being's unwholesome volitional actions would be, though there may be many wholesome volitional actions done by him in his past existences, and while wandering in this round of rebirths.
Another point to consider is how much greater a being's unwholesome volitional actions will be though there may be a great deal of wholesome volitional actions in his future existences, while wandering in this round of rebirths.
The wholesome kamma such as alms-giving, morality and mental development performed by any one being in his past existences are also subject to change (exhaustion--viparinama). They naturally fade away when they cannot have any further effect.
The groups of existence found in men, devas and Brahmas are also subject to decay. It is the law of cosmic order that they must dissolve at the exhaustion of their kamma and the expiry of their span of life.
The groups of existence of those who are enjoying sensuous pleasures in the planes of human beings, devas and Brahmas burden them with death by way of viparinama. As soon as the vitality element is cut off, sakkaya-ditthi latent in them causes them to be reborn in the lower worlds. They then have to sink in the ocean of suffering in hell which they dread very much. As explained by the commentators previously, these beings will have no chance to escape the hells and arise in a higher plane even after a lapse of one thousand or ten thousand existences. Only after a very great length of time, will some have the opportunity to arise in a higher plane, the happy course of existence.
Some will only have a chance to escape at the end of the world-system, i.e. when it is destroyed. Then they have to arise in the planes of men, devas and Brahmas; and again they who enjoy the sensual pleasures in these planes are burdened by the groups of existence by viparinama. As soon as they die in that state their sakkaya-ditthi causes them to be reborn in the lower worlds. They then have to sink in the ocean of suffering in hell and have no chance to escape in a thousand or ten thousand existences. The sequences in this respect are the same as mentioned above.
The above is the textual explanation as to how beings wander in the round of rebirths.
Here, men, devas and Brahmas may be compared to victims, and the groups of existence to the murderers. The law of change may be compared to a very sharp sword.
In the Khandha-Vagga of the Samyutta-Nikaya, the Buddha declared: 'Corporeality is a murderer, so too are vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana'. According to this, it is to be remembered that whenever beings pass away, their respective khandha play the part of murderers. If we examine the causes of all deaths, we shall find that there can be no death unless there are dislocation, displacement or change in the body. If there be no such change, even if lightning were to strike a person on the head, he would not die. That shows that the khandha of a being are really murdering him.
Another interpretation: As people call Maccu the god of death which itself is death personified, the law of change (viparinama) is again termed a murderer. The inherent quality of the law of change found in men, devas and Brahmas causes their death, Thus the khandha of men, devas and Brahmas are alway receiving capital punishment, and therefore are dukkha-dhamma (suffering miserably).
All human beings who are trying to take refuge in the world of men because they fear the dangers of hell are killed and caused to arise in the lower worlds from time to time by the groups of existence and sakkaya-ditthi. The same holds good in the cases of devas and Brahmas. The khandha of beings that are subject to change are murderers, and the unwholesome kamma together with soul-belief are constantly tending to drag them to the lower worlds.
In the cases of men, devas and Brahmas who have already got rid of soul-belief, although they die through the agencies of their khandha, they are never reborn in the lower planes, but in the higher planes of existence. This matter will be fully discussed when we come to the Chapter on Magga-Sacca (the Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering).
A question may be raised at this point: 'If what has been said be true, there should be no inhabitants in the planes of men, devas and Brahmas. But that is not the case. There are plenty of men in the world of men, many devas in the deva-worlds and many Brahmas in the Brahma-worlds. So, it may be said that it is an unwarranted threat.' This is the kind of question raised by those ignorant people who have not the slightest idea of the vastness therein of the four lower worlds, and the density of population.
The happy course of existence is very extensive, but the inhabitants are very few. An abode of a deva or a Brahma is as big as live or ten of our townships. Their bodies are about six gavuta high. Each of the planets we see high above the sky is of enormous dimensions.
The woeful course of existence is also extensive and the inhabitants there are immensely numerous too. The number of people in the world of men, and the number of inhabitants in the six deva-worlds and the twenty Brahma-worlds cannot even be equal to the number of a single kind of insect, say ants, living in our country of Burma. In our country alone, even besides ants, there are countless numbers of aquatic and land animals. Just imagine how great would be the number of those aquatic and land animals residing in the big islands, small islands, oceans, seas, mountains, rivers and lakes of the world excluding those of Burma. Thus, if the number of occupants in the twenty-seven planes of the happy course of existence be compared with those in the animal world, it will be found to be very insignificant.
Only the three kinds of wholesome kamma--alms-giving, morality and mental development--can cause a being to arise in the happy course of existence, and only when a being can objectify a wholesome kamma at the moment of death will he be able to take in the happy course of existence.
On the other hand, if he objectifies an unwholesome kamma at the moment of death, he will as a matter of course be reborn in the four lower worlds. A countless number of acquatic and land animals pass away in one day in Burma alone. Of these very few would be able to objectify a wholesome kamma at the moment of death. There will be not even one in a hundred thousand. The same is the case with all beings in the lower worlds.
How can the beings who do not know what is wholesome kamma, objectify such kamma at the moment of death? A being who is reborn in the four lower worlds usually takes rebirth there for many existences, and when his old accumulated kamma wane, the apara-pariya-vedaniya-kamma (kamma ripening in successive births) comes into play and he has no, chance to arise in the happy course of existence.
Those who are able to use logic and reason and those who are ignorant think that there are very many people in this world. By seeing the planets or constellations high above the sky, they think that there are many inhabitants in the deva-worlds. They have not the slightest idea as to how difficult it is to have become a man. They have heard the discourses about the blind turtle and the yoke and the comparison of the small piece of earth on the fingernail and the great earth itself, but do not realise their truth.
This is the answer to the question raised by an ignorant person as mentioned above.
Here ends the exposition as to how the beings who wander in this round of rebirths are burdened by the groups of existence to show that this is purely dukkha-sacca (the Noble Truth of Suffering).
Here ends the exposition on dukkha-sacca.
There are six kinds of craving: rupa-tanha (craving for visible objects), sadda-tanha (craving for sounds), gandha-tanha (craving for odours) rasa-tanha (craving for tastes), photthabba-tanha (craving for bodily impressions), dhamma-tanha (craving for mental impressions). These cravings having four interpretations in each, we have 24 interpretations in all. Rupa-tanha means craving for pleasant visible objects. For these objects beings cannot be free from the burden of sankhata, santapa and viparinama. How? It is in this way: This craving by way of ayuhana (the fever of unsatisfied longing) forces beings to strive and find ever fresh delight. They have no desire to get rid of such delightful objects. This craving is also expanded in the following ways: By way of nidana (foundation; origin; cause), they incline to have more and more pleasurable objects and enjoy more and more. They have no contentment of mind. By way of samyoga (union; association) they desire always to be associated with these pleasant objects. They have not the slightest idea to part with these pleasurable objects. By way of palibadha (obstruction; hindrance; impediment), they prevent beings from parting with these pleasant objects, and also obstruct the sources of tranquillity of mind. They do not allow beings to attain calmness of mind obtained by not mingling with these objects. Thus craving for visible objects causes beings to sustain suffering by functioning in these four ways.
The same holds good for craving for sounds, etc. Dhamma-tanha means craving for vedana-kkhandha (feeling group), sanna-kkhandha (perception group), sankhara-kkhandha (group of mental formations) and vinnana-kkhandha (consciousness group) found in a person's life or in the lives of his dear ones.
Another way of expression: There are also three kinds of craving. They are kama-tanha, bhava-tanha, and vibhava-tanha. Kamatanha means craving for sensuous objects, as form, etc. Bhava-tanha means 'having delight in the jhana attained by oneself'. Vibhava-tanha means 'having delight in wrong view of self-annihilation (uccheda-ditthi)'.
Meals prepared from coarse cereals, such as maize, etc., are very plain. They are not palatable and not very easy to swallow. When we add ghee, butter, fish soup or beef soup to it and when we eat it with pork or chicken, then only can we eat tastefully.
In the same manner, the consciousness of beings of the sensuous planes, having been incessantly mixed with such 'burning' things as sensuous lust, ill-will, etc., are very and and hot. When they have no opportunity to come in contact with external objects, they at once become monotonous, drowsy and devoid of interest. just as a dog becomes irritable and restless when an ulcer in its body is eaten by maggots, these cravings also cannot rest for a moment, and have to run immediately after an external object, or after one of their associates. Only when these cravings are constantly associated with external objects can the agreeableness of consciousness of beings become conspicuous. The more attractive are the external objects, the better will be the state of agreeableness of beings.
Thus, beings experience sensuous pleasures in association with external objects and enjoy the status of Sakka, the king of devas, worldly kings, wealthy persons, devis, women, etc., in the sensuous planes. When they are kept away from these external objects, they become drowsy and bored. Then the craving, which may here be compared to a burning fire, arises and longs for external objects. To satiate its hunger, it has to be fed. So, in accumulating the combustible substances for this burning craving, we find that myriads of evil actions and myriads of sufferings accompany the lives of these beings. This craving is called sensuous craving. This sensuous craving always murders beings, by sinking them in the ocean of suffering, while the beings of this sensuous sphere are striving hard for the maintenance of their wives and children and also to earn a livelihood. Just as water that runs down the steep hills into the river and carries all dry twigs, branches and leaves down to the ocean, this never-satiated craving carries to the four lower worlds all those worldlings and men of the sensuous sphere, who are not living according to the Buddha-Dhamma. This is the expositionon sensuous craving of the origin of suffering.
Those wise people who understand the work of this burning craving treat this sensuous sphere on the same level as the four lower worlds, discard their properties, become samanas and practise calm in the forest so that they may be free from such suffering.
The meal that is cooked on the jotipasana (a burning glass made of crystal) used by the northern islanders is very delicious and palatable. It is comparable to those delicious dishes of ghee, butter, pork and chicken found in our country, and if our dishes happen to be mixed with that meal, the latter would lose its taste and delicacy altogether. Thus the union of the two will have to be much feared. Similarly, one attains jhana which is free from such hindrances as sensuality and ill-will. Detached from sensual objects, detached from unwholesome states of mind, he enters into the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought-conception and discursive thinking is born of detachment and filled with rapture. External objects are obstacles to him. The craving for such jhana, or the arising in the Brahma plane in the next birth by virtue of such jhana, is called bhava-tanha. Understand the origin of suffering in relation to the bhava-tanha in the same way as has been explained in the previous chapter where the suffering in the cases of constituent groups of existence contained in Brahmas has been expounded.
The exposition of the origin of suffering in relation to the vibhavatanha which is associated with miccha-ditthi (wrong belief) is not given here, as it is not necessary to be explained in the Buddha's Sasana.
Here ends the exposition of samudaya-sacca (The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering).
In this manner he wanders in the happy course of existence for many a world-cycle. Although sotapannas wander in the happy course of existence, unlike the ordinary worldlings they do not drift along the current of samsara and are not destined to take rebirth in the lower worlds. From the moment they attain the Path of stream-winning, they are delivered from such evils as sakkaya-ditthi (personality-belief), vicikiccha, ducarita-durajiva (evil actions and bad livelihood), and apaya-dukkha, and have thus attained sa-upadisesa-nibbana (the full extinction of defilements with the groups of existence still remaining). They then wander in the happy course of existence as ariyas (noble ones) who belong to the supramundane sphere. After wandering in the planes of human beings, devas and Brahmas, when they do not desire to wander any more in the happy course of existence, they attain anupadisesa-nibbana (the full extinction of defilements without the groups remaining, or the 'no-more-continuing' of this psycho-physical process of existence). This is the exposition as to how sotapannas gradually rise till they attain anupadisesa-nibbdna. This is the definition of niyyanatho. The above shows the exposition of the aspect of niyyanatho attained and enjoyed by sotapannas.
This is the exposition of the aspect of adhipateyyatho attained and enjoyed by sotapannas.
Now I shall expound the four aspects of nirodha-sacca (The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering), which itself is called Nibbana. There are four aspects of nirodha-sacca. They are: nissaranattho (having the characteristic of being an escape), pavivekattho (having the characteristic of being free from disturbance), amatattho (a state where there is no more death or dissolution), and asankhatatho (having the characteristic of the unoriginated, Nibbana).
The supramundane sphere of such sotapannas as Visakha, Anathapindika, and decillions of holy ones in the deva-countries of catu-maharajika, etc., may be compared to the great Sita ocean situated at the foot of Mount Meru. Decillions and decillions of such noble ones may be compared to decillions and decillions of fishes living in that great ocean. In what respect do they resemble them ? It is in this manner that great Sita ocean situated amidst the Yuganda mountains is very wide and immensely deep. The water in that great ocean never gets diminished, nor is its water evaporated by any of the sun. The water is so clean that even a peacock's feather or fine cotton will sink to the bottom of the ocean. In the same manner it is the law of cosmic order that this sa-upadisesa-nibbana, the supramundane sphere of ariyas, such as Visakha, Anathapindika, etc., will never be diminished owing to the lapse of time, even after a lapse of many millions of world-cycles. The state of 'the full extinction of defilements with the groups of existence still remaining' will never be diminished. The state of Nibbana never becomes extinct. It is also the law of cosmic order that these sotapannas are never entangled with evil actions, sceptical doubt and bad livelihood, because the state of sa-upadisesa-nibbana exists in them.
Just as the great fishes in that great Sita ocean need not fear the water in the ocean getting diminished, these sotapannas need never fear losing their attainment of 'the full extinction of defilements with the groups of existence still remaining'. Just as the water of that great ocean is not warmed by the rays of the sun, these sotspannas who have attained Sa-upadisesa-nibbana will not be polluted with any defilement or threatened with the dangers of wandering in samsara, however long they may have to wander in the happy course of existence, and they need not fear that personality-belief will accompany them anymore.
Just as the fishes in the great ocean need not be anxious about the water of the ocean getting warm at any time, these sotapannas also need not be anxious about the defilements which they have already dispelled by means of the Path and Frution of the stream-winning. Just as the fishes in the great ocean need not be anxious about the water of the ocean getting dirty, so also the sotapannas need not be anxious about their state being polluted with wrong views, sceptical doubt, evil actions, bad livelihood and hellish qualities.
Just as the great fishes in that great ocean need not be anxious for a change of residence to other lakes, rivers and seas, nor be anxious about the ocean water becoming warm or turbid, these countless numbers of ariyas, who pass amongst heavenly and human beings at the most for seven times in the round of rebirths, need not wait till the arising of another Buddha. Retaining the state of sa-upadisesa-nibbana, they wander in the round of rebirths as wealthy men, devas and Brahmas and finally attain an-upadisesa-nibbana.
At this juncture one may ask the following question in connection with the expression 'these sotapannas remain within the supramundane sphere of sa-upadisesa-nibbana': 'As sotapannas they are able to dispel some of the defilements only, and at the same time are not free from the sufferings of rebirth, old age and death, so it cannot be claimed that they have attained Nibbana, nor are they within the sphere of Nibbana.' The answer to it as follws: 'Did not the Omniscient Buddha declare that the Nibbana attained by these sotapannas is specially termed sa-upadisesa-nibbana, because they have not dispelled all defilements? Is it not that it is declared as sa-upadisesa-nibbana because these sotapannas will have to take rebirth for at most seven times, experiencing old age and death for many world-periods to come?'
This kind of question is raised by one who does not realise the greatness and magnificence of Nibbana.
These sotapannas, after passing amongst heavenly and human beings for a great length of time, finally become arahats, and the Nibbana they are then to attain after getting rid of the groups of existence is called anupadisesa-nibbana. This Nibbana is not within the scope of sotapannas, and so in expounding the Nibbana attained by sotapannas, anupadi-sesa-nibbana is not meant thereby, and therefore not discussed.
As regards worldlings, although they wander in the round of rebirths as kings of men, kings of devas or kings of brahmas, as they have not yet attained the state of escape from the round of rebirths, they have to wander in it, entangling with wrong views, sceptical doubt, evil conduct and bad livelihood, which would cause them to arise in the four lower worlds.
Here ends the exposition of nissaranattho.
This is the exposition of pavivekattha.
The sa-upadisesa-nibbana attained by sotapannas is never destroyed and so it is eternal. That being the case, it is free from the trouble of setting it up anew. There is no more trouble of diving into the pit of suffering again to perform alms-giving in the endeavour to attain Nibbana. There is no more suffering for them to practise morality and also to lead the life of a samana. The state of the unoriginated, uncreated, is called the asankhatattha aspect attained and enjoyed by sotapannas. They, however, practise alms-giving, morality and mental development for the purpose of further dispelling some defilements that lie latent in them. They need not worry about personality-belief, sceptical doubt and the ten kinds of evil actions which have already been extinguished.
Here ends the exposition of asankhatattha.
Here ends the exposition of amatattha.
The above is the exposition on the four interpretations of sa-upadisesa-nibbana.
The same holds good for the four aspects of Nibbana attained by sakadagami, anagami and arahats.
If a person fully comprehends and realizes the four aspects of the Noble Truth of Suffering, he will automatically realize the twelve remaining aspects of the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering and the Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering. Moreover, the four aspects of the Noble Truth of Suffering are included in the three characteristics of existence--characteristic of impermanence, suffering and selflessness. These four aspects are also within the orbit of the characteristic of suffering. Of the four interpretations of the Noble Truth of Suffering, viparinamattha (change) is itself characteristic of impermanence. If these four aspects of the Noble Truth of Suffering fall within the province of the characteristics of impermanence and suffering, they will also be in the orbit of the characteristic of impersonality. So, when one fully comprehends the three characteristics of impermanence, suffering and selflessness, he also fully comprehends the sixteen aspects of The Four Noble Truths, as has been explained before.
'Etesu tisu lakkhanesu ekasmim ditthe itaradvayam dittham neva hoti. Tena vuttam, anicca-sannino meghiya anatta-sanna santhatiti.' --Anguttara commentary.
(When one fully comprehends any one of the three characteristics of existence, he also automatically comprehends and realises the remaining two characteristics. The Omniscient Buddha declared. 'O Meghiya, if one realises one of the three characteristics of existence, he automatically realises the remaining two.')
Of the three characteristics, the characteristic of impermanence is the fundamental one. The whole affair of the characteristic of impermanence is nothing but marana (death), which means the continually repeated dissolution and vanishing of all physical and mental phenomena and that these phenomena do not last even for the time occupied by a wink of the eye, he automatically fully comprehends and realises the characteristics of suffering and selflessness. How? It may be explained as follows: If one realises all physical and mental phenomena in his body continually and repeatedly dissolve and vanish at every consciousness-moment, will he have any attachment for his body and take that as pleasure? Or will he also take it that this body is soul-essence?
The above shows that of the three characteristics of existence, the characterstic of impermanence is the most essential.
If one realises the functioning of the characteristic of impermanence in corporeality out of the five constituent groups of existence, he is able to attain the Path of anagami (never-returner). On the other hand, if he realises the functioning of the four mental formations out of the mental group, he is able to attain the Path and the Fruition of arahatta (holiness).
(These two theories have fully been discussed with Pali and its definition in the Manual of Ahara Dipani.)
Therefore, those worldlings who desire to be delivered from the tangle of wrong views, evil actions, and the state of the worldlings who wander in the round of rebirths and enjoy the status of those sotapannas like Visakha, Anathapindika and others, who have attained sa-upadisesa- nibbana and become the inhabitants of the supramundane sphere, passing through the planes of heavenly and human beings until they attain the state of anupadisesa-nibbana and fully comprehending the four aspects of the Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering and the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, should get instructions from a competent teacher on the full interpretations and aspects of the characteristic of impermanence, and having studied them conscientiously, should practise vipassana-bhavana through the medium of the characteristic of impermanence, just as a person whose hair is burning with a celestial fire or whose head is pierced with a sharp spear desires to quell this celestial fire of personality-belief or take out the spear of personality-belief from his head.
 Samyutta-Nikaya, Khandha Vagga-Samyutta, Khandha-Samyutta,
(5)Pupphavagga, (3)Phenapindupama Sutta 6th syn. Edition pp 115.
 Samyutta-Nikaya, Salayatanavagga, Salayatana-Samyutta
(4) Asivisvagga, Asivispama Sutta. 6th syn. Edition. p. 383.
 Samyutta-Nikaya, Nidanavagga Samyutta, Nidana-Samyutta,
(5) Gahapati vagga (4) Loka Sutta 6th syn. Edition p. 301.
 Samyutta-Nikaya, Khandha-Vagga Samyutta, (2) Radhasamyutta,
(2) Dutiyavagga, (1) 6th syn. Edition. p. 159.
 Samyutta-Nikaya, Mahavagga-Samyutta, Saccasamyutta, Papatavagga,
Chiggalayuga Sutta. 6th syn. Edition. p. 397.
 Samyutta-Nikaya, Nidanavagga-Samyutta, Opammasamyutta
(2) Nakhasikha Sutta 6th syn. Edition. p. 454.
 There are two interpretations, in regard to the use of
sa-upadisesa-nibbana. In the first case it is used only in
respect of arahats, in the second case, as here by the Venerable
Ledi Sayadaw, it is used in respect of all four stages of
holiness. If the word is used only in respect of arahatns,
nibbana-dhatta appears to be more suitable in respect of the
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