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Tle Veneiable Malāsī Sayādaw
An English rendering by
U Htin Fatt (Maung Htin)
Buddla Sāsanānuggala Oiganization
Malāsī Tianslation Committee, Rangoon
A Discourse on the Bhāra Sutta
Tle Veneiable Malāsī Sayādaw
U Htin Fatt (Maung Htin)
First printed and published in the Socialist
Republic of the Union of Burma
All rights reserved
About This Discourse...................................................................vi
Discouise on tle Blāia Sutta PaitI
Introduction to the Discourse...............................................................1
The Buddha’s Daily Routine..........................................................1
What is the Burden?..............................................................................6
The Burden is Heavy.....................................................................6
Aggregates, and Aggregates of Attachment.................................7
The Four Attachments...................................................................8
How Attachment Arises................................................................9
How Heavy is the Burden?.................................................................15
Hungry Ghost of Bones...............................................................17
Hungry Ghost of Flesh.................................................................19
Many Kinds of Hungry Ghosts....................................................19
Four Female Hungry Ghosts.......................................................20
Carrying the Heavy Burden...............................................................21
Delight Make the Burden Seem Lighter......................................23
Realising the Heaviness of the Burden........................................23
Who Carries the Burden?....................................................................24
Sistei Vajiiā Re¡lies to Māia .......................................................26
Conventional Truth and Ultimate Truth......................................26
The Purity of Gifts........................................................................29
Insight Meditation During Acts of Charity.................................33
The Concept of An Individual.....................................................35
Discouise on tle Blāia Sutta PaitII
Picking Up the Burden........................................................................36
Craving is Hungry for Sense-objects...........................................36
Cam¡eyya, tle King of tle Nāgas...............................................37
Tle Stoiy of Queen U¡aiī............................................................39
Craving for Existence...................................................................47
Craving for Non-existence...........................................................48
Throwing Down the Burden...............................................................51
Throw Down the Burden by Developing Insight........................52
Stream-winner is Relieved of the Burden....................................57
Throwing Down the Burden at Higher Stages............................59
The Burden and the Four Noble Truths..............................................60
Some Key Points to Remember....................................................61
Conclusion of the Discourse........................................................65
Tle Veneiable Sayādaw’s discouises weie addiessed to meditatois
¡iactising intensively at Malāsī Sāsana Yeiltlā, in Rangoon. Tley
contain many Pali words which, though familiar to those who have
heard regular discourses, may not be familiar to others. I have
¡ie¡aied tlis edition of “A Discouise on tle Blāia Suua” beaiing in
mind that it will be read by many who may be unfamiliar with Pali
teims. I lave given tle Pali (in ¡aientlesis), tle ﬁist time a teim is
used, but tleieahei lave used only tle uanslation.
All of tlese uanslations nom tle 1980’s need to be biouglt u¡ to
date, but the task is a heavy burden. Even a relatively short book
like this has taken many weeks. I took up the burden of editing this
book a few times before, but put it down because I found it too
diﬃcult. Ideally, one would listen again to tle oiiginal Buimese
discourses and check the current edition against them, but that is
beyond my abili[, even if I lad tle iecoidings. I lave to iely on my
limited lnowledge of Pali and my familiaii[ witl tle Sayādaw’s
teacling to intei¡iet tle existing uanslation, and tlen iendei it in
The discourses were initially published in Burmese, and then later
uanslated to Englisl, and ¡iinted in Buima. I lave done my best to
ada¡t tlem foi ¡iint by iemoving a few ie¡etitions and ﬁlling in
some elisions that are common in discourses, but unsuitable in books.
I have added some footnotes to explain terms that, though under-
stood by a Buimese Buddlist audience, would mean liule to otleis.
In the footnotes, references are to the page numbers of the Pali
texts of tle Pali Text Socie[ wlicl, in tle uanslations, aie given at
the top of the page or sometimes in the body of the text. However,
in tle case of tle Dlamma¡ada oi A¡adāna, iefeiences aie given to
Please feel nee to ¡iint out co¡ies foi youi own use, oi foi nee
disuibution, but do not lost tle PDF ﬁle on youi own web site, noi
link to it directly. Post a link to the appropriate page on my web site
so that readers can see the book in context, and obtain the most recent
If you spot any errors, please let me know.
London, February 2011
Tle Veneiable Malāsī Sayādaw, Aggamalā¡aṇḍita, since lis
aiiival at tle Sāsana Yeiltla Meditation Cenue nom lis native ¡lace
Seilllun, Slwebo disuict, in Novembei 1949, las been inducting
numerous batches of meditators into the practice of insight medita-
tion. He las also uained membeis of tle Saṅgla as meditation
teacleis. Wlile ¡eifoiming tlis noble woil as a uue disci¡le of tle
Buddla, tle Sayādaw las given discouises on a iegulai basis. Nevei
does he fail to rely authoritatively on the relevant teachings of the
Buddha in all of his discourses. Every discourse so imparted is unique
in itself and [¡ically in tune witl tle ¡iesent times.
Tle ¡iesent discouise beaiing tle name of tle Blāia Suua
iesembles a giaceful ﬂowei in an oinamental suing of Dlamma
teaclings. Tle usage and cloice of woids and tle ¡auein of
com¡osition is classically modein. Tle liteiaiy s[le of tle Malāsī
Sayādaw will, it is lo¡ed, continue to iemain distinctive foi yeais
Tlis discouise, oiiginally in Buimese, was uanslated into Englisl
by U Htin Fau (Maung Htin), wlo is one of tle ¡iominent wiiteis
among the galaxy of journalists in Burma.
About This Discourse
On one occasion, in ies¡onse to a question of wlat auibutes oi
qualities a monk should fully possess to deserve being regarded as
an Expounder of the Dhamma (Dhammakathika), the Buddha’s answer
was that a monk deserves to be called an Expounder of the Dhamma
if he could well convince others to become morally repugnant to his
own self, the physical body, and give guidance to them to be able to
get rid of sensual feelings or craving. According to the Buddha, a
¡eison wlo assiduously ¡iactises to nee limself nom sensual ciaving
may be called a bhikkhu (a monk).
Tle Blāia Suua, lile otlei discouises las its own objective lesson.
The Buddha opened the subject of his discourse to an assembly of
monks and lay followers while residing at the Jetavana Monastery
in Sāvaulī, mentioning tle ﬁve aggiegates of auaclment as a leavy
burden. He then reiterated the components of ‘aggregates’ which
means a giou¡. Tle Buddla iefeiied to man as tle sum total of ﬁve
aggregates. In this discourse the Buddha elaborated on the Dhamma
as biieﬂy ex¡lained below.
All men and animals aie com¡osed of inteiielated mind and mauei
(nāmarūpa). Mind and mauei is constantly clanging, not iemaining
tle same even foi two consecutive moments. Mauei by itself is devoid
of any sensation or feeling. Mind is so called because of its tendency
to incline towaids an object of sense. Mauei, tle ¡lysical body, is
subject to perpetual change and is characterised by impermanence.
The term ‘mind’ includes consciousness (viññāṇa), feeling (vedanā),
perception (saññā), and mental formations¹ (saṅkhārā).
Of tle ﬁve aggiegates, tle ﬁist is foim, sla¡e, oi mauei — tle
physical body including the organs of sense. The second is feeling,
which includes both mental and physical sensations, pleasant,
un¡leasant, oi neuual. Tle tliid is ¡eice¡tion, wlicl com¡iises all
perception or recognition, whether sensual or mental. It is a response
to sense stimuli, which may be described as “awareness with
iecognition.” Tle fouitl giou¡, tle mental foimations signiﬁes and
includes all tendencies, mental and physical — the elements or factors
in consciousness, all moral and immoral mental formations or
characteristics that have been set in motion by past kamma. None
of them is a self. They are incessantly changing — coming into being
followed by dissolution. Thus all component things are impermanent.
Tle ﬁhl of tle aggiegates, consciousness, is just as ¡eiislable and
ﬂeeting as otleis. Tlis is also in a state of ﬂux. Accoiding to tle
Buddha, the aggregate of consciousness is without self or substanti-
ali[. Tlis consciousness consists of six giou¡s: seeing, leaiing,
smelling, tasting, touching, and knowing.
All ﬁve aggiegates aie im¡eimanent, unsatisfactoiy, and not-self,
and o¡eiate witlin tle law of cause and eﬀect. Tleie is no sucl tling
¹ Oiiginally uanslated in tlis bool as “volitional activities,” but foi consistency witl
tle Sayādaw’s discouise on De¡endent Oiigination “saṅkhārā” is uanslated as
“mental formations.” Volitional activities (kamma) a being has done in previous lives
lave an eﬀect in tle ¡iesent existence. Some aie lile a line diawn on watei, wlicl
quiclly fades, wlile otleis aie lile a line diawn on sand, leaving tleii eﬀects foi
some time, and tle suongest oi most labitual volitional activities aie lile a line
caived in iocl, being dee¡ly ingiained ¡eisonali[ uaits. In tle ¡iesent life, tlese
latent tendencies oi mental foimations aie tle seeds nom wlicl s¡iing nesl lammas
of a similar nature, leading to further becoming (bhava), and hence future existences
as eﬀects of tle volitional activities (kamma) of the present. Another way of
explaining it is that “saṅkhārā” is tle ¡assive side of life oi tle ¡iesent eﬀects of ¡ast
causes, while volitional activities or becoming (bhava) is the active side of life or the
¡iesent causes of futuie eﬀects (ed.)
as an ego. When such insight becomes mature and perfect, the one who
aclieves it uanscends tle mundane to ieacl a su¡iamundane state.
Tle second ¡ait of tlis discouise on tle Blāia Suua ex¡lains low
tle buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates is ¡icled u¡, and low it slould be
thrown down or discarded.
The intangible force of kamma generated in the past, works
through the processes of the physical universe to produce living
beings. Birth is preceded by death, and death is preceded by birth.
This succession of birth and death in connection with one individual
constitutes what is known in Buddhism as the cycle of existence
(saṃsāra). In all this incessant cycle of rebirth and new existences,
tle foimation of tle ﬁve aggiegates invaiiably tales ¡lace. Tle
aggiegates of auaclment natuially biings foitl ¡assions of gieed,
anger, and delusion. To root out these passions and to eliminate
craving, there is a way out. In other words, to get rid of the burden
wlicl causes all linds of suﬀeiing, tle Buddla las tauglt tle Foui
Noble Truths and revealed to us the Noble Eightfold path, which
leads to tle end of suﬀeiing.
In essence, the six senses are the inevitable consequences of mind
and mauei. Existence biings all soits of uouble, conﬂict, and suﬀeiing.
Tle buiden is veiy leavy indeed nom tle time of biitl until deatl.
To remove and be relieved of the burden thereby bringing about the
cessation of tle entiie aggiegate of suﬀeiing, it is most giati(ing
that the Dhamma shows us how to take up the practice of insight
meditation, and low to aclieve at least tle stage of a Sueam-winnei,
wlicl would in due couise lead to tle liglest stage of ﬁnal libeiation.
May all beings be happy.
Tle Buddla Sāsanānuggala Oiganization
Discourse on the Bhāra Sutta
Delivered on the full-moon day of Tazaungmon, 1328 B.E.
28th November 1966
Today’s tall is on tle Blāia Suua nom tle Klandlavagga of tle
Saṃyuuanilāya. I will be biief and concise. I tauglt it a long time
ago, but my audience miglt lave foigouen it by now. Howevei, if I
repeat it, their memories may be revived. Those who have not heard
it before, however, would be glad to hear it as a new discourse.
Introduction to the Discourse
Foui montls ahei tle mahāparinibbāna or demise of the Buddha,
the First Buddhist Council (Saṅghāyana) was convened by Venerable
Malālassa¡a and 500 monls at Veblāia neai Rājagala. Duiing tle
¡ioceedings Malālassa¡a asled wleie tle Blāia Suua was deliv-
eied. Tlen Veneiable Ānanda ie¡lied, saying, “Evaṃ me sutaṃ…
Thus have I heard,” and recounted it in the following words: “At one
time, the Blessed One was residing at the Jetavana Monastery,
donated by Anātla¡iṇḍila at Sāvaulī.”
Sāvaulī was tle ca¡ital ci[ of tle states of Kāsi and Kosala, iuled
ovei by King Pasenadī of Kosala. At times tle Buddla iesided at tle
Bamboo Giove (Veḷuvana) monasteiy in Rājagala, oi on Vultuie’s
Peal (Gijjlaluṭa) neai tle ci[. At otlei times le would be iesiding
in Vesālī, Kosambī, Āḷavī, oi at Ka¡ilavaulu. He clanged lis
iesidence nom time to time because le wisled to teacl tle Dlamma
to amenable audiences (veneyya). While the Buddha was residing at
tle Jetavana Monasteiy, le diew tle auention of tle monls gatleied
before him saying, “O monks!”
The Buddha’s Daily Routine
Heie, let me digiess to tell you about tle ﬁve ¡eiiods in tle daily
routine of the Buddha.
1) Tle ﬁist ¡eiiod was between dawn and tle end of tle moining
meal (purebhaa kicca). At dawn lis auendant oﬀeied lim watei and
tooth wood. He brushed his teeth and washed his face then remained
in solitude until the time for alms-round when he put on his robe
and set out nom tle monasteiy. Usually le went out lile any otlei
2 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
ordinary monk — walking. At other times he used his supernormal
powers. The Commentaries state that a gentle breeze, acting like a
bioom, cleaied tle ¡atl tlat le tool. Raindio¡s s¡iinlled nom tle
sly seuling tle dust along tle way. Clouds s¡iead out lile an
umbrella to give him shade. Flowers fell about him as he walked,
obsuuctions and ¡otloles disa¡¡eaied of tleii own accoid,¹ and tle
road became smooth. Whenever he set his foot on the ground, lotus
ﬂoweis s¡iang u¡ to act as cuslions. As le enteied tle ci[-gate six
coloured rays: grey, yellow, red, white, pink, and iridescent issued
foitl nom lis body. Ele¡lants, loises, biids, etc., made melliﬂuous
sounds wlile musical insuuments unauended by ¡layeis ¡ioduced
music.² Such were the mystic wonders.³
Some people had faith in the Buddha only when they saw him
work mystic wonders as a supernormal being. This faith led them
on to tle ¡atl to libeiation nom suﬀeiing. It was foi tleii beneﬁt
that the Buddha exercised supernormal powers (paṭihāriya). Men are
widely diﬀeient in tleii natuie. Some would a¡¡ieciate tle Dlamma
best wlen it is ex¡ounded in a suaigltfoiwaid and oidinaiy way.
Others, however, prefer teaching with a display of supernatural
¡oweis tlat ¡ioduce suange and miiaculous ¡lenomena. I lnow
of one lay woman who is fond of such things.
Once she was venerating an image of the Buddha saying, “May
tle Buddla come down and iest on my lead fully auiied in golden
robes, equipped with a bowl studded with diamonds and a walking
stick inlaid with many kinds of jewels.” On hearing this wish-making,
her elder brother chided her. “You are too squeamish and punctilious.
Must the Buddha work endless mystic wonders just to please you?
If I were the Buddha I would have none of your supplications!”
Once a lady nom a westein counuy told me tlat sle tlouglt it
redundant to venerate pagodas and images in memory of the Buddha
¹ A reference to this behaviour of the earth can be found in the Debate of King
² Tlis entiie section on tle ﬁve daily ioutines of tle Buddla, and tle su¡einoimal
events that occurred whenever the Buddha walked for alms are all apparently taken
nom tle Commentaiy to tle Bialmajāla Suua, DA i 45 (ed.)
³ Tlougl tle teim “miiacle” is ohen used in uanslations, and tlese events would
indeed seem miraculous to an ordinary person, they should not be regarded as
miraculous or supernatural. They may be the work of celestial beings, created by
the mystic powers of the Buddha, or a result of his previous kamma, but they are
tle natuial iesults of exuaoidinaiy causes. (ed.)
The Buddha’s Daily Routine 3
witl a ¡aia¡leinalia of ﬂoweis and otlei aitefacts made of ¡a¡ei,
plastic, gold-leaf, and precious stones. “If the Buddha is with us today,
” she said, “he would refuse to accept such veneration.” This shows
tle diﬀeience in tle way of tlinling of diﬀeient ¡eo¡le. I tlinl it
was because the Buddha wanted to oblige those who were drawn
iiiesistibly to suange ¡lenomena tlat le woiled mystic wondeis.
When citizens saw the mystic wonders they knew at once that the
Buddla was on lis way foi alms to tle sueets in wlicl tley iesided.
Then they dressed themselves well and paid their homage to him
witl ﬂoweis and scents. Tleieahei, tley invited a numbei of monls
accom¡anying lim accoiding to tleii ca¡aci[ of alms-giving, and
Having eaten, the Buddha taught to suit the nature of the audience.
Some of them gained faith in the Three Refuges, while others
undeitool to obseive tle ﬁve ¡iece¡ts, and some auained vaiious
stages of tle Noble Patl. Ahei teacling, tle Buddla ietuined to tle
monastery. He rested in the assembly hall for some time, waiting for
tle monls to ietuin nom tleii alms-iound. Wlen le was infoimed
tlat all lad ietuined and ﬁnisled tleii meal, le ietiied to tle
perfumed chamber, having completed his morning routine.
2) Tle second ¡eiiod is lis ioutine ahei tle meal (pacchābhaa
kicca). As he was about to enter the perfumed chamber, he washed
his feet. Then, standing, he made this admonition:
“Monls! Be vigilant, and suive witl diligence. It is laid
to be born into the era when a Buddha appears in this
world; it is hard to be born a human being; it is hard to
get com¡lete fulﬁlment, it is laid to gain monllood, it
is laid to get tle o¡¡oituni[ of leaiing tle uue Dlamma.”
Ahei tle Buddla’s a¡¡eaiance in tlis woild lis teaclings still
prevail, and so this is the era of the Buddha’s dispensation (sāsana).
Tlis o¡¡oituni[ is laid to come by. Tlose wlo lave obtained it
slould be vigilant to suive foi tle accom¡lislment of moiali[,
concenuation, and wisdom. Tle Buddla mentioned com¡lete
fulﬁlment (samāpai), wlicl needs claiiﬁcation. Being able to live in
a place suitable for practising the Dhamma that paves the way to the
¡atl and its nuition, being endowed witl ¡eisonal beau[, being
suong in faitl in tle Tliee Gems, being boin duiing a ¡eaceful and
4 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
¡ios¡eious ¡eiiod, being aﬄuent witl nuuitious food, being lealtly
and suong foi tle ¡ui¡oses of ¡iactising tle Dlamma — all tlese
aie tle conditions tlat must be fulﬁlled to auain fulﬁlment.
Ahei tle admonition ieminding tle monls of tle ﬁve linds of
rarities, the Buddha prescribed meditation exercises to suit the
intellectual capabilities of those who asked for them. Having received
tlese insuuctions, tle monls ietiied to tle foiest and meditated
undei uees oi in otlei suitable slelteis. Tle Buddla ietiied to tle
perfumed chamber, and, if he wished, he lay down on his right side
and took a rest.
Wlen ienesled, le got u¡ and suiveyed tle woild witl lis
knowledge of spiritual faculties (indriya paropariyaa ñāṇa), and his
knowledge of latent inclinations (asayānusaya ñāṇa). These two
knowledges are commonly known as “the Buddha’s eyes.” He
suiveyed tle woild to see wlo was ieady foi libeiation nom suﬀeiing.
Wlen sucl a uainable ¡eison was to come to lim, le waited, but
when he or she was in a far away place, he went there using his
supernatural powers. These duties were done during the second
¡eiiod of tle aheinoon session.
In tle tliid ¡eiiod, ¡eo¡le nom tle sueets wleie tle Buddla
¡ieviously walled foi alms ﬂocled to to tle monasteiy diessed in
tleii best, caiiying ﬂoweis and scents. In Rājagala tley came to tle
Bamboo Giove monasteiy, in Vesālī, to tle Gieat Foiest monasteiy
(Malāvana), in Sāvaulī, to tle Eastein Gateway monasteiy
(Pubbāiāma). At tle time of tle Buddla’s deliveiy of tle Blāia Suua,
tley came to tle monasteiy in Piince Jeta’s giove (Jetavana) at Sāvaulī.
When they had thus congregated in large numbers, it was usual for
the Buddha to enter the congregation hall and teach a suitable discourse.
Tlen all tle monls wlo weie not sicl made it a ¡oint to auend.
Tlese monls tool oidination witl tle aim of auaining Aialant-
sli¡, wlicl annililates all tle suﬀeiing of tle cycle of existence. Tlat
being so, they liked to listen with devotion and ardour to what the
Buddha taught. The nuns also came. The audience, therefore,
consisted of monks and nuns, and male and female lay persons. It
was the Buddha’s practice to give precedence to the monks, so he
always addiessed tlem ﬁist.
In tle ¡iesent case wlen le was about to delivei tle Blāia Suua,
le addiessed tle monls, and tle lauei ieveientially ie¡lied, “Venei-
The Buddha’s Daily Routine 5
able Sii!” Tle Buddla tlen continued to teacl, ahei wlicl tle monls
and lai[ of botl sexes dis¡eised, ahei ¡aying lomage to tle Teaclei.
3) For his evening routine (purimayāma kicca), the Buddha took
a bath if he so wished and then sat alone on the dais within the
perfumed chamber. Monks would then ask him to explain certain
lnoµ ¡oints in ieligious maueis, oi to ¡iesciibe fuitlei meditation
exercises, or to teach. He spent the time complying with their requests,
until about 10 p.m.
4) Then his midnight routine (majjhimayāma kicca) began. At night,
devas and brahmas nom tens of tlousands of woild systems (cakkavāḷa)
approached the Buddha and asked him questions. The answers to these
questions lave been collated in tle Sagātlāvagga of tle Saṃyuuanilāya.
This lasted a few hours past midnight, until about 2 a.m.
5) His routine in the last part of the night (pacchimayāma kicca)
lasted foi tliee louis. In tle ﬁist loui, tle Buddla walled u¡ and
down on the walking path to maintain his health. It was only during
the second hour that he slept, and then only for about an hour. When
he awoke in the third hour, he surveyed the world and extended his
net of lnowledge as le did duiing tle aheinoon to see if tleie weie
any who were ripe for liberation.
It will be seen that the Buddha had practically no time to spare
for mundane things. He was always occupied with his religious duties.
He miglt lave deliveied tle Blāia Suua duiing tle evening ioutine,
but I am inclined to think that as it concerned all four kinds of
audience, monls and lai[ of botl sexes, le miglt lave tauglt tlis
discouise in tle aheinoon. It must also be iemembeied tlat, altlougl
the four kinds of audience were present, it was mainly directed to
tle monls, since tle inuoduction began witl tle woids. “O monls!”
“O monks! I will tell you about the burden, about the porter
wlo caiiies tle buiden, about tle act of uans¡oitation
of the burden and about the laying down of the burden.
Listen well and ¡ay auention. I will s¡eal of tlem now.”
Tlus did tle Buddla enjoin tle monls to ¡ay auention to lis
discouise ielating to tle buiden, tle ¡oitei, tle act of uans¡oitation and
tle laying down of tle buiden. Tle Buddla’s admonition to ¡ay auention
is woitly of note. Tleie is no beneﬁt if one does not listen auentively.
Only tlose wlo ﬁx tleii minds on wlat is tauglt can gain tle lnowledge
6 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
of tle Noble Patl and its nuition. In ¡iefacing lis discouise, lis em¡lasis
lay on how to throw down the burden much to one’s relief and joy.
What is the Burden?
Wlen lis disci¡les lad ¡ledged tlemselves to be auentive, tle
Buddla o¡ened tle subject witl tle following inuoduction: “Wlat
monls, is tle buiden' Tle ﬁve aggiegates of auaclment aie tle buiden.”
In youi uavels you miglt lave come acioss stevedoies at ¡oits
oi ¡oiteis in iailway stations, uans¡oiting leavy loads nom ¡lace
to place. Some loads are so heavy that cranes have to be employed.
A familiai siglt in Buima is a woilei caiiying sacls of iice. A suong
man can keep it on his shoulders for quite a long time, but that is
still just a mauei of minutes. He cannot lee¡ it foi louis, not to say
for days. If he were to keep it on his shoulders permanently, he might
be crushed to death. What a relief when he throws it down! He feels
relieved that the task is done. However, this is just an ordinary load
tlat one can caiiy. Wlat about tle buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates of
psycho-physical phenomena that we call a person? When we cling
to tlese ﬁve aggiegates, we lave tle aggiegates of auaclment. Tlis
is a great burden.
The Burden is Heavy
What I would like to say is that this burden of the aggregates is far
leaviei tlan any otlei buiden tlat woiling ¡eo¡le caiiy nom ¡lace to
¡lace daily. Eveiy living being is occu¡ied witl lee¡ing tle body ﬁt and
well. It has to be fed daily to remain healthy. Some have to be mindful,
not only of maintaining the health of their own bodies, but also the health
of others, and this is not just for a while, but for the entire span of human
life. This is said only in relation to the present existence. In fact, we are
all carrying the burden through countless existences. We cannot remove
it nom oui slouldeis even foi a wlile. Wlat, tlen, aie tle leavy loads
of tle ﬁve aggiegates of auaclment' Tlis is wlat tle Buddla tauglt:
“Wlat, monls, is tle buiden' It is tle ﬁve aggiegates of
auaclment: tle aggiegate of auaclment to tle body,
tle aggiegate of auaclment to feelings, tle aggiegate
of auaclment to ¡eice¡tions, tle aggiegate of auacl-
ment to mental foimations, and tle aggiegate of auacl-
ment to consciousness. This, monks, is the burden.”
Aggregates, and Aggregates of Aachment 7
I lave lectuied ie¡eatedly on tlese ﬁve aggiegates in tlis
meditation cenue because, in essence, tleie aie only tlese ﬁve
aggregates in all the phenomena of existence. I shall, therefore, repeat
tlis discouise biieﬂy.
Aggregates, and Aggregates of Attachment
“Khandha” means a group or an aggregate. All phenomena — past,
present, and future — are grouped into aggregates. This statement
calls foi fuitlei ex¡lanation. Wlen a ¡lenomenon aiises, mauei is
involved. Mauei existed in tle ¡ast, it is still leie at ¡iesent, it will
continue to exist in the future. It is within us, as well as without. It
may be coaise oi ieﬁned, it may be of infeiioi oi su¡eiioi quali[, it
may be ¡ioximate oi iemote. All sucl mauei can be giou¡ed into tle
aggiegate of mauei, tlat is, tle assemblage of tle mateiial elements
and properties that constitute what we call the body. When feeling,
perception, mental formations, and consciousness are similarly
giou¡ed oi classiﬁed, tley aie ies¡ectively called tle aggiegate of
feeling, the aggregate of perception, the aggregate of mental forma-
tions, and the aggregate of consciousness. All these together are the
ﬁve aggiegates. Heie it may be aigued tlat mauei alone cannot be
called an aggiegate, since tle teim is a collective one foi all ﬁve giou¡s,
but in fact, the components of the aggregates also may severally be
teimed aggiegates. So mauei is an aggiegate, feeling is an aggiegate,
perception is an aggregate, mental formations are an aggregate, and
consciousness is an aggregate. However, there is one phenomenon
tlat cannot be giou¡ed oi classiﬁed in tlis way — it is nibbāna. It is
unique. It has no past, no present, and no future. It is timeless.
“Upādāna” is auaclment oi gias¡ing intensiﬁed by ciaving and
wiong view. It tleiefoie connotes a ligl degiee of auaclment. Tle
aggiegates of auaclment (upādānakkhandhā) are so called because
tley foim tle objects of sucl auaclment. At tle time of tle iealisation
of tle ¡atl and its nuition, su¡iamundane consciousness (lokuara
cia), is developed. It has eight states. These eight states of supra-
mundane consciousness together with the concomitant mental states
a¡¡eitaining to tle ¡atl and its nuition, aie also lnown as aggiegates,
but tley aie not ueated as tle aggiegates of auaclment. In tle ﬁve
aggiegates, tle aggiegate of mauei conceins mateiial ¡lenomena
while the remaining four are mental aggregates.
8 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Tle aggiegates of auaclment encom¡asses all auaclment to tle
ﬁve aggiegates. In tlis discouise, wleie we aie conceined witl tle
discussion of the burden, we will deal only with the mundane,
excluding the supramundane; so both the material and mental
aggregates will be discussed. Note, however, that herein the aggre-
gates iefei to tle ﬁve aggiegates of auaclment.
The Four Attachments
Auaclment is manifested in foui ways:
1. auaclment to sense objects (kāmupādāna),
2. auaclment to wiong views (diṭṭhūpādāna),
3. auaclment to iites and iituals (sīlabbatupādana), and
4. auaclment to tle docuine of self oi ego (aavādupādāna).
Attachment to Sense Objects
Pleasurable sensations arise when we come into contact with sense
objects. Because of these sensations, a desire to enjoy them develops in us.
Tlen we get auacled to tlem. Oui auaclment may ielate to sensations
aioused witlin us, oi sensations ¡iom¡ted nom outside. Wlen a man
desires a woman, or vice versa, this is sexual desire. It is an example of
suong auaclment. We yeain foi tle ¡leasuiable sensations tlat we lave
come into contact at present as well as those that we hope to contact in the
future. We desire to have what is hard to obtain: and when we have what
is not easily obtained, we cannot beai to ¡ait witl it. Tlis is auaclment
to sensual existence (kāmabhava). However, our desires do not stop there,
tley go beyond to tle aggiegates of mind and mauei. As we cling to tlem
an auaclment to coi¡oieal existence (rūpabhavā) develops within us, and
to foimless existence (aiū¡ablava). Tley aie also sensual auaclment.
Attachment to Wrong Views
Geneially s¡ealing we aie auacted to ideologies. Hence it is not
unusual foi us to become auacled, somelow oi otlei, to tlis oi tlat
ideology, moderately or intensely. Here, we are concerned only with
wiong ideologies oi beliefs. Tleie aie wiong views about moiali[
and the existence of a self or ego. I will leave aside these two for now,
as tley will be ueated se¡aiately latei. Tle belief tlat tleie is no
kamma, action, whether wholesome or unwholesome, that there is
no iesultant of lamma, and tlat tleie is no leieahei fall into tle
categoiy of auaclment to wiong views.
How Aachment Arises 9
Attachment to Rites and Rituals
Auaclment to ieligious ¡iactices tlat do not lead to tle cessation
of tle cycle of iebiitls and to tle iealisation of nibbāna is
sīlabbatupādāna. Sīlabbata means performance of religious rites
inconsistent witl tle ¡atl of ¡uiiﬁcation. It includes ¡iactices
stemming nom tle belief tlat by belaving lile caule oi dogs one
can gain salvation nom suﬀeiing: otlei similai beliefs ielate to
woisli¡¡ing animals lile caule oi dogs, oi woisli¡¡ing devas,
brahmas, or similar powerful lords and masters with a view to
libeiation nom luman suﬀeiing. Tle belief tlat all sins will be
ex¡iated if one batles in tle Ganges, oi saciiﬁces animals, aie otlei
examples of religious rites. In brief, all religious rites and practices
where the Noble Eightfold path is absent cannot be regarded as
wlolesome deeds leading to tle cessation of suﬀeiing.
Attachment to the Doctrine of Self
There are many theories about the origin of life. Some relate to the
belief tlat a ¡iece of living mauei iesides in tle body. One exists wlen
tlat mauei is living, but one ’s existence ceases tle moment it dies. Tlis
way of thinking is annihilationism (ucchedadiṭṭhi), which means that
existence terminates completely with death. Another ideology is
eternalism (sassatadiṭṭhi), where the self or soul is presumed to be
indesuuctible, and is, tleiefoie, eteinal since, at its deatl, it uansfeis
to anotlei body. In tle ﬁnal analysis tle foui auaclments can be ieduced
to ciaving and wiong view. Sensual auaclment belongs to ciaving wlile
tle iemaining tliee auaclments belong to wiong views. Tle foimei is
based on sensual objects wlile tle lauei aie based on wiong ideas.
How Attachment Arises
Because of tle sense-oigans, auaclment to sense objects aiises.
When the senses are sharp, they render the objects clearly manifest.
Wlen tle eyes see an object distinctly, wlen tle nose smells a nagiance,
wlen tle tongue ﬁnds a taste delicious, and wlen tle body feels a soh
toucl, ¡leasuiable sensations aiise, and tle auaclment not only to oui
own body, but also to tle bodies of otleis, develo¡s. We aie auacted
to oui own good featuies and to tlose of otleis. We aie giatiﬁed witl
tle ¡eifoimance of oui limbs tlat causes bending, suetcling, siuing,
standing, etc. Because of tlis auaclment to oui own ¡lysical body,
there arises in us the notion. “It is I; it is mine; this is my husband; this
10 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
is my wife, tlis is my son, etc.” Tlis is motivated by oui auaclment
to mauei oi body, and it is lnown as sensual auaclment.
As the senses come into contact with objects, sensations arise, to
which we cling. All of these sensations, whether pleasant or
un¡leasant, aie ¡iesumed as emanating nom tle body, and tle
individual enjoying or not enjoying these sensations asserts, “I feel;
I leai, I see.” Wlen le is doing ﬁne, le says, “I am well.” Wlen le
becomes sick, he says, “I am not well.” When he feels uneasy or
uncomfoitable, le says, “I am suﬀeiing,” oi “I ex¡eiience suﬀeiing.”
Wlen le is in a soiiy state of aﬀaiis, le says, “I am in diﬃculties, I
am in danger; I am sad; I am disappointed.” He thinks that in all
such cases, “I” or “self” is involved. In other words, he thinks that
all sensations he experiences are his, and that, therefore, they
constitute “I” oi “self.” Tlis is low auaclment to feeling aiises, and
low sensations aie consuued as self.
Auaclment to ¡eice¡tion aiises in mucl tle same way. Wlen a
man perceives an object, he thinks that it is he who perceives it. So
he declares, “I perceive it: I note it; I remember it; so I can recall it to
my mind.” Tlis is low one gets auacled to ¡eice¡tion wlicl
becomes ¡eisoniﬁed as “I” oi “self.”
Mental formations determine our physical and mental behaviour.
Although all our actions are conditioned by volition, a person thinks
that it is he who is doing things. So he says, “I sit; I stand; I think; I
imagine, I am angiy, I am auacted to it, I lave no faitl: I am foolisl:
I am wise; I have faith; I am compassionate.” All these go to show
that he takes all groups of mental state as his “self.” This is how
auaclment to mental foimations aiises.
When a man sees an object he recognises it at once. “I know it,” he
says. Thus the notion “I” arises in him. He says. “I see it; I hear it; I taste
it; I smell it; I touch it; I consider it.” He is thus equating himself with
lis “soul” oi “self.” Tlis is low auaclment to consciousness, aiises.
Clinging oi auaclment is upādāna; tle aggiegates of auaclment
are upādānakkhandhā. The notion, “It is I; it is mine,” belongs to the
aggiegates of auaclment. Wlen a ¡eison visits a slo¡ and sees items
of clothing or footwear, a desire to wear them may arise. Then he
imagines himself as wearing them. Just at that moment he thinks
that he owns them. Craving has arisen in him. The moment that one
feels pleasant at the thought that he has come into possession of the
How Aachment Arises 11
things he desires, one must recognise that craving is at work. Thus
ciaving intensiﬁes tle sense of auaclment.
Tle mateiial aggiegate is tle entiie ¡lysical body nom lead to
toe. Auaclment ielates to any ¡ait of tle body. You just ¡ull
somebody’s hair, and he will protest at once saying, “Don’t pull my
laii,” and le will ¡iotest tlat it is oﬀensive to be ¡ulled by tle laii.
It is because he regards it as himself. “The hair is mine. It represents
me,” so le tlinls. All mauei tlat constitutes lis body is lis. Tlis is
tle auaclment to mateiiali[.
Those who have never had the experience of meditation on the
natuie of mind and mauei, lave tle idea tlat tlis luman body is a
veritable living thing called self or ego. Even among those who have
the experience of insight meditation, there are many who fail to
distinguisl mind nom mauei. Tley, tleiefoie, iegaid tlat a living
substance oi soul iesides in tle body. Tlis is auaclment to self. Tley
cannot get away nom it. Even tlose wlo come to lnow tle im¡ei-
sonali[ of mind and mauei cannot com¡letely detacl tlemselves
nom tlis conce¡t, altlougl, it must be conceded, tley lave leaint
tlat wlat is to be iegaided as self is a ¡eisoniﬁcation of mind and
mauei. If a semblance of detaclment can be detected in tlem, tlis
detaclment cannot be leld as aiising nom ¡eisonal conviction, but
nom uaditional acce¡tance of tle teacling. It is common lnowledge,
iatlei tlan insiglt, tlat ieveals tle uutl about mind and mauei.
If a meditatoi ¡iactises insiglt meditation, wlicl ieveals tle uue
nature of the psycho-physical phenomena that arise and pass away,
self can never assert itself. However, even then, if he or she fails to
auain tle Noble Patl, it may iea¡¡eai. Tle idea of self totally ceases
only wlen one actually auains tle ¡atl of a Sueam-winnei.
Tleie is an asseition to tle eﬀect tlat if one wants to ¡iactise
meditation, one must ﬁist get iid of tle idea of self. I do not considei
this to be feasible. When the notion of self is done away with, one
becomes a Sueam-winnei. Tleiefoie, tle asseition amounts to saying
tlat one can become a Sueam-winnei witlout ¡iactising insiglt
meditation. In fact, detachment is achieved only through insight
meditation. It las been said in tle texts tlat ¡uiiﬁcation of view is
accom¡lisled only wlen mind and mauei aie disceined in tleii uue
natuie. Auaclment to self is incom¡atible witl tle Dlamma. I lold
tlat sucl incom¡atibili[ is not cuiient among tlose wlo uuly ieveie
12 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
the law propounded by the Buddha. It is because of its absence
among Buddhists that insight meditation can be put into practice.
In tle Buddla’s time ¡eo¡le wlo lad veiy suong views about
the idea of self approached the teacher to hear what he had to say.
As they listened to his discourse, they became completely detached
nom tle view of self and iealised tle ¡atl and its nuition. Tlis slows
that they did not come to the Buddha abandoning their views of self
beforehand. If was only while they were listening to the Dhamma
tlat tley saw tle liglt of it and auained tle ¡atl.
Believers who have acquired some knowledge about the funda-
mentals ielating to mind and mauei, im¡eimanence, unsatisfactoii-
ness, and not-self, should take up the practice of insight meditation.
It involves noting mind and mauei as it comes and goes at tle six
sense doois in accoidance witl insuuctions ielating to tle establisl-
ment of mindfulness. Note what the eyes see, note what the ears hear,
note what the nose smells, note what the tongue tastes, note what
the body touches, note what the mind thinks, then you will come to
know all that is to be known in accordance with the degree of
perfection you have acquired.
As a meditatoi ¡iactises mindfulness, concenuation will become
dee¡ei and tle mind will be ¡uiiﬁed. Tlen le oi sle will be able to
distinguisl tle mind tlat lnows nom tle mauei tlat is lnown. Tlen
he or she will realise the absence of anything called a self or ego.
Repeated noting will lead the meditator on to the knowledge of the
causes and eﬀects of mind and mauei.
Finally, tle idea of self will be uueily desuoyed. Befoie tle
practice of mindfulness he or she might have wondered if self existed
in the past, if it exists at the present, or if it will exist in the future.
Ahei tle ¡iactice of insiglt meditation, all sucl doubts will be
iesolved as tle uue natuie of ¡lenomena is undeistood. As tle
meditatoi continues noting, le oi sle will ﬁnd tlat tle sense-objects
together with the consciousness that knows them disappear. They
are all impermanent. They just arise and pass away of their own
accord. What is not permanent is not satisfactory. Nothing is
substantial. Then, what is there to cling to as “I” or “mine?” All
¡lenomena aie in a state of ﬂux, now aiising, now ¡assing away.
Contem¡lating on tlese maueis, one can, witl one’s own conviction,
do away with self.
How Aachment Arises 13
Some may think that merely noting the arising and passing away
of mind and mauei is not enougl. Tley would ¡iefei to s¡eculate
wlat mind oi mauei aie. Sucl s¡eculations aie not based on
knowledge acquired through practice, but on hearsay or book
knowledge. Such knowledge is perceptual and not intuitive. Here,
we are not concerned with mere perception, but with insight, which
can only be gained through practice. When you watch people going
through a gate, you will notice for yourself their goings and comings,
you do not need to depend on others to know that they are going in
and out of the gate. Similarly, if you yourself watch and note the six
sense-doors, the eye door, the ear-door, etc., you will actually see
low mind and mauei aiise and ¡ass away, witlout iesoiting to tle
process of thinking.
Take another example. Place a mirror at the roadside. All
¡edesuians and velicles will be ieﬂected in tle miiioi in tleii uue
nature. If you watch and note them you will see them as they really
are. In the same way if you watch and note with mindfulness all that
appear at the six sense doors, you will notice the sense-objects (which
have no consciousness) arising while the mind (the subject that
possesses consciousness) is taking cognizance of such arising. Then
both the objects and the subjects pass away. Then this process is
renewed. Then the meditator will come to realise that this is the
¡lenomenon of mind and mauei aiising and ¡assing away. Mind
and mauei aie, ahei all, not eveilasting. Tley aie not ¡eimanent.
Tley aie suﬀeiing. Tley aie not-self.
Wlen you note tle woiling of mind and mauei you will come to
lnow tleii uue natuie. Having lnown tleii uue natuie wlat iemains
to be thought of or considered? So it is not in the nature of things to
meiely tlinl about mind and mauei witlout actually noting low
they arise and pass away. Having come face to face with them are
you going to argue about their existence? Does it make sense if one
merely recites, “arising,” “passing away,” without noting the actual
process. Knowledge acquired by thinking or reciting is mere
second-land lnowledge lile tlat gained nom bools.
The essence of insight meditation, therefore, is to note all
phenomena as they occur. If you are ruminating about them,
concenuation will not be establisled. Witlout concenuation you
cannot get ¡uiiﬁcation of mind. As you tlinl and considei about
14 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
tle ¡liloso¡ly of mind and mauei, if you aiiive at tle uutl, it is
well and good: but when you are misled by wrong views you will
be lost. For instance, you might have contemplated on impermanence
as permanence or on not-self as self, then self-view will arise.
I advise beginners in insight meditation to note things as they
occui. Wlen one walls, one lihs tle feet, extends tlem foiwaid, and
dio¡s tlem down. Note eacl ¡iocess of lihing, extending, and
dio¡¡ing of tle feet. At ﬁist, tle beginnei may not be able to
diﬀeientiate one ¡iocess nom anotlei, but latei wlen concenuation
develops he or she will be able to note not only each process, but
also tle mind tlat lnows it. Wlen lihing tle feet, tle feet aie tle
objects noted. As concenuation and auentiveness get suongei, one
will clearly notice that the objects are one thing while the mind that
tales note of tlem, is anotlei. Tle objects constitute mauei, wlile
mind is the subject. In the same way, when one bends the legs, one
will come to realise that “bending” is one phenomenon and “knowing”
(that the legs bend) is another. In this way, mind can be clearly
distinguisled nom mauei. In eveiy movement tlat one males one
will be able to recognise the phenomenon of “moving” as distinct
nom tlat of “lnowing.” Tle wlole idea of existence, tleiefoie,
de¡ends on mind tlat lnows and mauei tlat is lnown.
There is no being, no individual, no living substance. Mind and
mauei come into being foi a wlile and disa¡¡eai, only to iea¡¡eai
the next moment. This realisation is analytical knowledge of body
and mind (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāṇa). It may be asked whether
gaining tlis lnowledge alone can conuibute to tle abandonment of
self. I have spoken about it earlier. Even when a meditator feels
convinced of the law of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and
not-self, tle sense of auaclment to self may aiise if le oi sle
inteiiu¡ts tle meditation ¡iactice befoie auaining tle Noble Patl.
Detachment occurs only when the successive stages of insight are
duly establisled and tle lnowledge of tle Noble Patl beais nuition.
Eailiei I s¡ole about auaclment based on ciaving and wiong view
ielating to tle ﬁve aggiegates. We cling to tle mateiial object tlat we
see because tle siglt is ¡leasing, goading us to develo¡ auaclment
to self. Tlis is auaclment to mauei. In tle same way we cling to feeling,
perception, mental formations, and to consciousness. Apply these
¡iinci¡les of auaclment to all tle sense-doois wleie all ¡lenomena
How Heavy is the Burden? 15
occui, and we will aiiive at tle conclusion tlat all mind and mauei
constitute tle aggiegates of auaclment, wlicl aie a leavy buiden.
How Heavy is the Burden?
Consider carefully, and you will realise just how heavy the burden
is. Wlen a foetus is conceived in tle womb, tle ﬁve aggiegates lave
to be cared for. The mother has to give all necessary protection so
that it may develop into a healthy baby. She has to be careful in her
daily pursuits, in her diet, in her sleep, etc. If the mother happens to
be a Buddhist, she will perform meritorious deeds on behalf of the
child in her womb.
Wlen tle baby is ﬁnally boin, it cannot tale caie of itself. It is
looled ahei by its motlei and otleis. It las to be fed witl mill. It
las to be batled, cleansed, and clotled. It las to be caiiied nom ¡lace
to ¡lace. It usually tales at two oi tliee ¡eo¡le to lool ahei and biing
u¡ tlis tiny buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates. Incidentally, let me tell you
how much children owe to their parents and relatives for the care
with which they are brought up and nurtured. Yet some say that one
comes into being because of the sexual indulgence of the parents.
Wlat evil tlouglts! Tle uue cause of tle buiden of existence is not
tle ¡aients, but one’s own lamma. It is lamma fanned by tle ﬂames
of mental deﬁlements, tlat tlis buiden of ﬁve aggiegates a¡¡eais in
this world of living beings. The parents are only an auxiliary cause.
If there were no human parents, those who have bad kamma and
deﬁlements would only ﬁnd tleii way to tle foui lowei iealms.
Wlen a ¡eison comes of age le oi sle las to lool ahei limself oi
herself. He or she has to eat two or three times a day. If he or she wants
good food le oi sle will lave to male s¡ecial eﬀoits to get it. He oi
she will have to keep the body clean, by regular bathing, personal
lygiene, and clotling. To lee¡ ﬁt one will lave to do daily exeicises
— siuing, standing, bending, suetcling, walling, etc. Eveiytling las
to be done by oneself. When one feels hot, one cools oneself, and when
one feels cold one warms oneself up. One has to be careful to maintain
health and well-being. When one takes a walk one has to take care
tlat one does not stumble. Wlen one uavels one las to tale
precautions that one meets no danger. In spite of all these precautions,
one may fall sicl, tlen one will lave to tale medical ueatment. It is
a gieat buiden to tend to tle welfaie of tle ﬁve aggiegates.
16 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
The greatest burden for a living being is to fend for oneself. In the
case of luman beings, some lave to woil foi a living staiting nom
the age of twelve or thirteen, and for that purpose they have to be
educated. Some can get only an elementary schooling and so they can
get employment only as labourers. Those who can get a good
education aie em¡loyed in beuei ¡ositions, but tlen tley lave to
work day in and day out without a break. Those who were born into
this world with past good kamma do not feel the burden. Individuals
born with the best kamma are fed and clothed since childhood by
parents who give them the best education as they grew up. Even on
reaching adulthood the parents continue to give full support to raise
tlem to a ¡osition wleie tley can fulﬁl tleii desiies and needs. Sucl
fortunate individuals may not realise how heavy the burden of life is.
Tlose wlose ¡ast lamma is not good nevei lnow aﬄuence. As
children they know only hunger, not being able to eat what they
would like, or to dress how they would like to dress. When they
lave giown u¡, tley aie just uying to lee¡ a ioof ovei tleii leads.
Some do not even have their daily quota of rice ready for the table.
Some have to get up early to pound rice for cooking. Some do not
even lave iice, and so lave to boiiow some nom tleii neiglbouis.
If you want to know more about this life, go to poor areas and
male enquiiies youiself. Buima is a land of ¡len[, and so conditions
leie aie not as bad as in tlose counuies wleie iice is not ¡ioduced.
Giains aie stoied foi disuibution in times of need. Foi so long as men
aie civilized, ¡ioblems aie few, but in tle animal woild, ﬁnding food
is a great problem. For herbivores, as grass and vegetables are still
available abundantly, tleie is laidly any diﬃcul[, but in ¡laces
wleie watei is scaice and vegetation s¡aise, animals ﬁnd it a gieat
buiden in tleii seaicl foi food. Foi cainivoies, tle ¡ictuie is diﬀeient.
They prey on weaker animals, which they kill for food. Where the
law of the jungle prevails, life is miserable. It is unwholesome for the
suong to be always tlinling of lilling otleis. Wlile an animal is
uying to lill otleis, it may itself be lilled. Wlen it dies, it dies witl
an unwholesome mind obsessed with anger, in which case it will be
reborn in another realm of misery. As it dies with unpleasant thoughts
of angei and enmi[, low can it as¡iie to a su¡eiioi ¡lane of existence'
Invariably it will be dragged down into an inferior one. The Buddha,
therefore, says that once a being happens to be born into the animal
A Hungry Ghost of Bones 17
woild, it will be diﬃcult foi it to get ieboin into tle luman woild.
All these facts show the heavy burden borne by the aggregates in the
quest for food. We have seen that to eke out a living is a heavy burden.
There are good people who practise right livelihood. They take up
agiicultuie oi uading, oi get into tle business of management oi
adminisuation, wlicl aie geneially iegaided as innocent occu¡ations
doing no harm to others. Such people may not encounter any severe
suﬀeiing in tleii cycle of iebiitls, and tle buiden of existence may
not appear to be too heavy. One should, however, be apprehensive
of living by dishonest and unfair means. Indolent opportunists who
uy to become iicl as quiclly as ¡ossible lave no qualms about
acquiiing otlei ¡eo¡le’s ¡io¡ei[ by foul means. Foi tleii own selﬁsl
ends they would not mind taking life, stealing, or cheating. When
lonest folls lave to woil witl tle sweat of tleii biow to eain ﬁve
or ten kyats a day, money-grabbers make easy money by cheating or
similar means to earns hundreds and thousands of kyats in a day.
Tley don’t lesitate to commit muidei, iobbeiy, tleh, naud, oi
extortion to make a fortune. This is earning one’s livelihood by
criminal means. However, crime does not pay, not only here and now,
but also leieahei. Evil deeds ¡ioduce evil iesults, as can be seen nom
tle stoiy of lungiy glosts as ielated by Moggallāna.
Hungry Ghost of Bones
At tle time of tle Buddla, Veneiable Moggallāna and Veneiable
Lalllaṇa weie iesiding togetlei at Vultuies’ Peal, noitl of tle Ci[
of Rājagala. One day tle two came out togetlei foi a iound of alms
in tle ci[. On tle way, Veneiable Moggallāna, tle eldei monl, saw
through his supernatural vision a hungry ghost made up of only bones.
The creature was crying in great pain as crows, kites, and vultures
¡ecled foi food tle ﬂesl and visceia embedded in tle sleletal cage
of its body. Tlen it occuiied to lim tlat all lammas and deﬁlements
had become extinct as far as he was concerned and that, therefore,
there would be no occasion for him in the future to be like that hungry
glost. Tlis tlouglt ﬁlled lim witl joyful satisfaction, and so le smiled.
Arahants never laugh aloud; they usually do not smile unless there is
a signiﬁcant ieason. Veneiable Lalllaṇa saw tlis and asled tle eldei
monl wly le smiled. Tle lauei told lim tlat le slould asl about it
when they were in the presence of the Buddha.
18 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Ahei tle alms-iound, tle two monls went to tle monasteiy wleie
the Buddha was residing. Then the younger monk asked the elder
wly le smiled. Veneiable Moggallāna ie¡lied: “Wlile we weie
coming down form the hill, I saw a hungry ghost running across the
sky pursued by crows, kites, and vultures who pecked for food the
ﬂesl and visceia embedded in tle sleletal name of lis body. He was
crying in great pain. When I saw this I thought to myself how could
such a creature be possible?”
On hearing this, the Buddha intervened to explain the existence
of the hungry ghost. “O Monks! My disciples have eyes of wisdom.
Truly they have seen such creatures, and let this fact stand testimony
to their existence. I saw them myself when I gained Enlightenment
undei tle Bodli uee a long time ago, but I nevei told you befoie
about tlis foi tleie miglt be unbelieveis wlo doubted tle uutl.
Tleii doubts would lave ¡ioduced unwlolesome eﬀects foi tlem-
selves, so I ienained nom saying anytling about it. In fact, tle lungiy
glost tlat Moggallāna saw was, in one of lis ¡ievious existences, a
butcher. Because of this unwholesome kamma, he was consigned to
hell for millions of years. The resultant of his bad kamma still remains
to punish him. So in the present existence he has become a hungry
ghost with a body of bones.”
The Buddha mentioned eyes of wisdom. From this it may be
inferred that ordinary beings are not able to see such creatures. They
can be seen only by those with higher knowledge (abhiññā). Modern
science las no ¡ioof of tleii existence, but lacl of scientiﬁc ¡ioof is
not a determinative factor for the conclusion that they do not exist.
Tle fact tlat tle Buddla ienained nom mentioning anytling
about the hungry ghost he had seen, lest it would lead the doubters
to unwholesome thoughts is worthy of note. Such thoughts could
result in unwholesome reactions. So only when Venerable
Moggallāna was in a ¡osition to oﬀei su¡¡oiting evidence to tle
uutl of tle existence of lungiy glosts, le let it be lnown to lis
disci¡les. Ciiticism and aiguments aiising nom lacl of mateiial
evidence would create doubts that would generate only unwhole-
some kamma, which paves the way to lower realms.
What I would like to emphasize with regard to this story is that
tle lungiy glost, as a butclei, lad lilled many caule just foi lis
own sustenance that enabled him to feed and clothe his body, the
Many Kinds of Hungry Ghosts 19
ﬁve aggiegates. Howevei, le lad to ¡ay foi it witl suﬀeiing in lell
tlat lasted millions of yeais. Even wlen le was ieleased nom tlat
suﬀeiing, le was toituied by ciows, lites, and vultuies as lis iesidual
evil lamma was still woiling its eﬀects on lim. How leavy was tle
buiden of lis ﬁve aggiegates can only be imagined.
Hungry Ghost of Flesh
On anotlei occasion, Veneiable Moggallāna met a lungiy glost
wlose body was all ﬂesl. He was also toituied by ciows, lites, and
vultures pecking his body for food. He ran crying in great pain.
Veneiable Lalllaṇa again asled tle eldei monl about tlis in tle
presence of the Buddha who again explained to him regarding the
existence of the world of hungry ghosts in much the same way as he
did on tle ¡ievious occasion. Tlis ﬂesly lungiy glost, said tle
Blessed One, was also a butclei at Rājagala in one of lis ¡ievious
existences. He was consigned to hell for millions of years, and on
being ieleased nom tleie le became a lungiy glost toituied by
crows, kites, and vultures owing to the residual bad kamma.
Heie it may be asled wly weie tle two lungiy glosts diﬀeient,
one being bony and tle otlei ﬂesly. Tle evil commiued by tlem was
tle same, but tleii destinies became quite diﬀeient, and so wly tle
diﬀeience' Wlen decease-consciousness occuis, a sign(kamma nimia)
associated with the good or bad actions done in one’s life presents
itself at the mind-door of the dying person. (A lay person may, perhaps,
explain this phenomenon as an omen seen by the dying man.) The
sign seen by tle ﬁist butclei at deatl was not tle same as tlat seen
by the second. Their evil actions were similar, but the signs were
diﬀeient. Peila¡s tle foimei saw bones, as it was lis ¡iactice to caive
out bones nom meat. Tlese bones miglt lave a¡¡eaied as a kamma
nimia at his mind-door as he lay dying. So when he was reborn as a
lungiy glost, le was all bones. In tle case of tle lauei it miglt lave
been his practice to collect only boneless meat, which he saw as a
symbol on lis deatl bed. So le was ieboin as a ﬂesly lungiy glost.
Many Kinds of Hungry Ghosts
Tlen Veneiable Moggallāna saw otlei linds of lungiy glosts on
diﬀeient occasions. Tleie was tle mince-meat lungiy glost, wlo,
the Buddha said, had been a falconer in one of his previous existences.
20 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Then there was the skinless and bloody hungry ghost who was a
butcher of goats and sheep. Then there was the hairy hungry ghost
wlose laiis weie lile daggeis tlat ﬂew about lis body and lasled
lim. Tle ways of lamma aie suange. Heie tlese daggeis cannot be
regarded as the handiwork of ogres. They were what the bad kamma
created. The crows, kites, and vultures that tortured the hungry
ghosts were also the results of bad kamma. Perhaps it may be
conjectured that the daggers and the tormenting birds were just
phantoms that arise of their own accord just to punish the evil-doers.
Veneiable Moggallāna also saw a lungiy glost witl laiis lile lances
sticling out of tle body. Tley ﬂew u¡ into tle aii and iained down on
it. He was a hunter in one of his previous existences. There was also a
hungry ghost with hairs like arrows growing on the body. In one of
his previous existences he tortured convicted persons with arrows.
He also met a lungiy glost suﬀeiing nom a lydiocele wlicl lad
developed into the size of a water-pot. In one of his previous
existences he was a cunning judge who used to take bribes. He could
not covei u¡ lis slame, siuing on lis own leavy oigan, caiiying it
about as le ian foi life nom tle ¡esteiing ciows, lites, and vultuies.
There was also one female hungry ghost who, in one of her
previous lives, had had illicit sex. Her body was unprotected by skin.
Another female hungry ghost was very ugly. She was formerly a
propagandist of wrong views. There were also men and women
hungry ghosts, who, in their previous lives were monks and nuns
who did not perform their religious duties properly. Their robes were
on ﬁie, and tleii monasteiies weie also on ﬁie.
All these beings were consigned to the world of hungry ghosts
because while they were humans they acted improperly just for the
sale of tleii ﬁve aggiegates of mind and mauei. It is foi tlis ieason
that we say that the burden of this body is very heavy. There are
many similai lungiy glost stoiies, but I slall conﬁne myself witl
only the last one about some female hungry ghosts, who, in the past
existences, had earned their living by foul means.
Four Female Hungry Ghosts
At tle time of tle Buddla tleie weie foui women in Rājagala
wlo uaded in iice, oil, buuei, loney, etc., using false weiglts and
measures. When they died they become hungry ghosts, near the
Carrying the Heavy Burden 21
moat outside tle ci[, wlile tleii lusbands wlo suivived tlem
iemaiiied, iolling in tle wealtl leh by tlem. One niglt tle foui met
together and mourned over their present lot recalling their past. Their
wailings were heard by the citizenry who regarded the unpleasant
sounds witl foiebodings. To waid oﬀ evil tley oﬀeied alms to tle
Buddha and his disciples and told them of the cause of their fear. The
Teacher comforted them and said, “Devotees! No danger will befall
you for the ominous sounds you hear. They were caused by the cries
of tle foui female lungiy glosts in disuess as a iesult of tleii
previous evil deeds. They bemoaned their lot saying that in their
past existences as human beings they had amassed wealth by foul
means and tlat wlen tley died tleii ill-gouen gains weie a¡¡io¡ii-
ated by otleis besides tlemselves. Now tley aie suﬀeiing in tlis
world of hungry ghosts.”
The four women in their previous existence amassed wealth
dishonestly to serve their burdensome aggregates. When they died
they failed to realise their aim of enjoying life. Heavy, indeed, is the
burden of the aggregates.
Carrying the Heavy Burden
This body is a heavy burden. Serving it means carrying the heavy
burden. When we feed and clothe it we are carrying the burden. That
also means tlat we aie tle seivants of tle aggiegate of mauei. Having
fed and clothed the body we must also see to it that it is well and
happy both physically and psychologically. This is serving the
aggregate of feeling. Again we must see that this body experiences
pleasant sights and sounds, thus we are serving the aggregate of
consciousness. These three burdens are obvious. The aggregate of
mauei says: “Feed me well. Give me wlat I lile to eat, if not, I slall
male myself ill oi weal. Oi, woise still, I will die!” So we lave to uy
to satis( it.
Then the aggregate of feeling says: “Give me pleasant sensations;
if not, I shall make myself painful or sad. Or, worse still, I shall die!”
Then we shall have to pursue pleasurable sensations to serve its needs.
Then the aggregate of consciousness says: “Give me beautiful
sights. Give me melodious sounds. I want pleasant sense-objects.
Find tlem foi me, if not, I slall male myself unla¡¡y and nigltful.
Eventually I shall make myself die!” Then we shall have to do its
22 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
bidding. It is as if all these three aggregates are perpetually threaten-
ing us. So we cannot help but comply with their demands; and this
compliance is a great burden on us.
The aggregate of mental formations is another burden. Life
demands tlat we satis( oui daily needs and desiies and foi tlat
satisfaction we have to be active. We must be working all the time.
Tlis cycle of luman activities gets encouiagement nom oui volition
prompted by desire. These activities make threatening demands on
us daily, indicating tlat, if tley aie not met, uouble oi deatl would
ensue. Wlen luman desiies iemain unfulﬁlled ¡eo¡le iesoit to ciime.
How heavy is the burden of the mental formations that rests upon
us! It is because we cannot carry this load well that we get demoral-
ized, and then commit misdeeds that bring shame in their wake.
Ciiminal oﬀences aie commiued mostly because ¡eo¡le aie not able
to carry the burden of mental formations skilfully.
When criminals die they may be consigned to hell or they may be
reborn as hungry ghosts or animals. Even when they are reborn as
human beings, their evil actions will follow them and punish them.
They may be short-lived; they may be oppressed by chronic diseases;
tley may face ¡ovei[ and staivation, tley may be niendless, tley
may live in dangerous surroundings.
The aggregate of perception is also a great burden; because it is
witl ¡eice¡tion tlat you uain youi faculties lile memoiy to ietain
lnowledge and wisdom, wlicl can discein good nom bad and ieject
unwholesome mental states produced by unpleasant sense-objects.
If the demands of the mind for pleasant sense-objects are not met, it
will pick up only evil which does nobody any good. Regrets and
anxieties arise because we cannot shoulder the burden well.
Foi all tlese ieasons tle Buddla said tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates
are a heavy burden. We carry the burden not just for a minute, an
hour, a day, or a year; not only for one life, one world cycle, or one
aeon. We caiiy tle buiden nom tle beginning of existence, wlicl
is inﬁnite. It las no beginning, and tleie is no way of lnowing
when it will end. Its end can be reached only with the extermination
of deﬁlements, as we get to tle stage of tle Aialantsli¡. Even
Aialants lave to toleiate tlis buiden befoie tley auain parinibbāna.
The Arahants, therefore, used to contemplate thus: “For how much
longei will I caiiy tlis buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates, wlicl gives
Realising the Heaviness of the Burden 23
iise to suﬀeiing'” — Kīva ciraṃ nu kho ayaṃ dukkhabhāro
vahitabbo’’ti. (Vism Malāṭīla)
Even an Arahant has to tend to the well-being of his body. To feed
it he has to go round for alms. He has to take a bath to cleanse it. He
has to excrete for its inner cleanliness. He has to take care of its health
by daily ado¡ting tle foui ¡ostuies, of walling, siuing, standing,
and lying down. He has to sleep regularly for its recuperation. Such
are the loads that weigh him down.
Delight Make the Burden Seem Lighter
Ordinary people are obsessed with craving, so they do not
considei tle ﬁve aggiegates as buidensome. To tlem tle buiden is
light. If we say it is heavy they might consider that we are negative,
because they think that the aggregates gives them enjoyment. There
aie ¡leasant siglts to see, melliﬂuous sounds to leai, delicious food
to taste, nagiant ¡eifumes to smell, and ¡leasuiable sensations to
feel. Tleie aie also good tlings to lnow. Undei tle inﬂuence of
craving, life is not considered blameworthy. Being delighted with
the agreeable sense-objects, one feels that one’s burden is light.
A man loves his wife very much. Neighbours may notice certain
faults in her, but the husband is blind to them. As far as he knows,
she has always been sweet to him, so her behaviour is beyond
reproach. He does not believe what others say about her faults. In
tle same way one wlo is auacled to tle aggiegates is unable to
accept that they are burdensome.
Realising the Heaviness of the Burden
Only when a man gets old and he is unable to move about as he
would like, unable to relish his food as much as he would like, unable
to slee¡ as mucl as le needs, and unable to satis( lis own desiies,
he becomes convinced that the burden of aggregates is heavy. When
he falls sick, his conviction grows, and when he and his companions
encountei all soits of uials and uibulations, lis iealisation of tle
heavy burden becomes complete.
An Arahant has eliminated desire, so it is no longer necessary for
him to contemplate on the burden. Knowledge about it occurs to
him naturally. Let me revert to the story of the man very much in
love witl lis wife. At ﬁist le tlouglt tlat lis wife was blameless.
24 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Tlen le discoveied lei inﬁdeli[ and lei ¡lot against lis life. Wlen
le iealised tle uue situation, le need not be wained by otleis of tle
dangers that would befall him. In much the same way, an Arahant
needs no warning about the heaviness of the burden he is carrying.
He has only to think about how long he will have to carry it.
The load that a porter carries is no doubt very heavy, but he carries
it only for a while. As soon as he feels that it will break his back, he
throws it down and gets relief, but the burden of the aggregates rides
on our back throughout our lives, and throughout the cycle of
existence. It can be discaided only wlen we auain Aialantsli¡
laving exteiminated all deﬁlements, and even tlen only ahei
ieacling nibbāna. Tle Buddla, tleiefoie, said tlat tle leaviest
buiden is tle buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates of auaclment.
Who Carries the Burden?
“Katamo ca bhikkhave bhārahāro? Puggalotissa vacanīyaṃ.
Yvāyaṃ āyasmā evaṃ nāmo evaṃ goo; ayaṃ vuccati,
“O monks! Who is carrying the burden? The one who goes
by the name of Tissa, etc., or who belongs to this or that
clan. This, monks, is called the carrier of the burden.”
It means that the porter is an individual, assuming the name of
Tissa oi Daua, being a descendent of tle Kaṇlāyana oi Vacclāyana
clan. To us Burmese he will be either Maung Phyu or Ma Phyu, or
Maung Sein oi Ma Sein. Names lile Malālassa¡a, Kaccāyana and
Koṇḍañña aie family names. Buimese family names aie iaie. In tle
text “āyasmā” is used, which usually refers to monks, but the Buddha
meant all beings, including laymen and even hungry ghosts, for they
are all carrying the burden of the aggregates. In ordinary parlance,
all individuals are carrying the burden.
As it las been ¡ostulated tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates aie tle buiden
and that the individual is the porter, the question arises whether or
not tley aie distinct nom tle individual. Tlose wlo believe in tle
self or soul infer that as the Buddha recognises an individual (puggala),
a being (saa), and a self (aa), then the individual is one and the
aggregates are another. This inference merely reveals the nature of
tleii auaclment to a self.
Who Carries the Burden? 25
The Buddha’s teaching about not-self (anaa), is as clear as day. If
tle Buddla’s ¡liloso¡ly is one of self, lis teacling will not be diﬀeient
nom tlose tlat weie cuiient befoie lis time, in wlicl case tleie
would be no necessi[ foi Buddlism to aiise. Outside tle Buddla’s
teacling tleie was tle belief tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates constitute self.
Anotlei belief, lowevei, asseits tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates aie not self,
but tlat tle self exists as a mateiial se¡aiate enti[. Buddlism denies
tle existence of self, iiies¡ective of wletlei it is se¡aiate nom tle
ﬁve aggiegates oi not. Howevei, in accoidance witl common custom
and usage, the Buddha used the terms “individual” or “being.”
There were also occasions when he used the grammatical conno-
tations of myself and otleis to distinguisl one nom tle otlei. Foi
instance, in the saying, “Aā hi aano nātho, ko hi nātho paro siyā —
Oneself is one’s own refuge, what other refuge could there be?”—
‘aa’ does not mean the philosophical concept of self, but is simply
the pronominal “I.” There is another instance of the use of ‘aa’ as a
personal pronoun in such a saying as “Aānameva paṭhamaṃ,
patirūpe nivesaye — Let lim ﬁist establisl limself in wlat is iiglt.”
There are also uses such as “aa saraṇa — to take refuge in oneself,”
and “anaññā saraṇa — take refuge in none other than oneself,” where
“self” and “others” are used as pronouns.
According to the Buddha there are four kinds of individuals: the
man wlo act foi lis own beneﬁt and not foi anotlei’s, tle man wlo
acts botl foi lis own and anotlei’s beneﬁt, tle man wlo acts neitlei
foi lis own noi foi anotlei’s beneﬁt and tle man wlo acts not foi
lis own, but foi anotlei’s beneﬁt, em¡loying tle woids “aahita”
and “parahita.” Here too, “aa” refers not to the philosophical “self”
but just the pronominal “self.”
Misconce¡tions deiive nom tle giammatical connotations, and
lence wiong views aiise. Tlis is slown in tle Katlāvaulu and in
tle Anuiādla Suua in tle Klandlavagga Saṃyuua.
“Anuiādla! Wlat do you tlinl: is mauei a being'”
“Mauei is not a being, veneiable sii.”
“Is feeling a being? Is perception a being? Is consciousness a being?”
“No, venerable sir. They are not beings.”
This catechism shows that there is none whom we can call an
individual oi a being, wletlei in ielation to lis ﬁve aggiegates oi
not. In that discourse, the Buddha declared that his teachings were
26 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
conceined witl suﬀeiing and tle libeiation nom suﬀeiing caused
by tle ﬁve aggiegates, and tlat le did not teacl tle eteinal existence
of an individual, being, or self.
Sister Vajirā Replies to Māra
Māia asled: “Wlo cieates beings' Wleie is tle Cieatoi' Wleie
does the creature arise? Where does he vanish?”
Vajiiā Tleiī, tle female Aialant, ie¡lied as follows:
“Wlat, Māia, do you tlinl, is a being' Wlat you tlinl is wiong
view, is it not? What is generally thought a being is just a heap of
aggiegates in a state of ﬂux otleiwise called mental foimations. You
cannot ﬁnd tle being in tle mental foimations. I slall give you an
example. When the wheels, axles, and other parts are assembled, the
assemblage becomes known by the word ‘chariot.’ In the same way
wlen tle ﬁve constituents of mauei, feelings, ¡eice¡tions, mental
formations, and consciousness are grouped together, the group comes
to be called a being. Indeed, tleie is no being, but suﬀeiing comes
into being, establisles itself, and ¡asses away. Notling but suﬀeiing
exists, notling but suﬀeiing ¡asses away. “
When we use the expression that someone comes into being, the
someone iefeiied to is not tle individual, but tle suﬀeiing inleient
in tle ﬁve aggiegates. Wlat las been establisled is not an individual,
but a lea¡ of suﬀeiing. In tle same way, wlat las ¡assed away is
also a lea¡ of suﬀeiing tlat is inleient in tle aggiegates. So wlen,
in tlis Blāia Suua, it is said tlat tle ¡oitei wlo caiiies tle buiden
is the individual, the statement merely conforms to common usage.
By tle teim ‘individual’ is meant tle ﬁve aggiegates, but it does not
mean to say tlat tleie is an individual beyond tle ﬁve aggiegates.
Wlen an object is given a name it is just a conventional uutl
(paññaa). ‘Individual’ is used just foi identiﬁcation ¡ui¡oses, it is
just a name. To make things understood we have to fall back upon
the use of concepts. If we say that the burden of aggregates is being
boine by tle aggiegates, it would be too absuact, and few would
understand the meaning.
Conventional Truth and Ultimate Truth
Tleie aie two metlods of insuuction in tle Buddla’s teaclings,
namely, the ultimate way of teaching (paramaha desanā), and the
Conventional Truth and Ultimate Truth 27
conventional way of teaching (paññaa desanā), the former being
conceined witl absuact lnowledge wlile tle lauei is conceined
with ordinary or conventional knowledge, appealing to perceptions
by which objects are known by their names. When we discuss about
im¡eimanence, suﬀeiing, ¡iimaiy mateiial qualities, uutls, estab-
lishment of mindfulness, and sense-faculties, we are concerned with
absuact subjects. Wlen we tall about men, women, devas, brahmas,
etc., we are concerned with everyday subjects that one mentions by
name. There are people who can see the light of the Dhamma by the
conventional metlod of insuuction as well as tlose wlo get
enligltened by tle metlod of insuuction in ultimate iealities. A
professor who knows many languages explains things to his English
pupils in English, to Indian pupils in Hindi and to Burmese pupils
in Burmese. The Buddha also taught employing either of the above
two methods to suit his audience.
There are eight reasons why the Buddha used names in common
usage and taught in the conventional way: 1)to arouse shame and
fear of wrong doing, which act as deterrents, 2) to show that
individuals have only kamma as their possessions, 3)to describe the
outstanding deeds of individuals, 4)to explain the immediate and
irredeemable nature of heavy kamma, 5)to encourage the exercise
of goodwill towards all beings, 6) to reveal the nature of the
su¡einoimal facul[ of iemembeiing tle ¡ast lives of oneself and
others (pubbenivāsana ñāṇa), 7) to ex¡lain ¡uii[ of gihs and 8) to
abide by current speech.
1) If we say tlat tle aggiegates aie aslamed oi anaid, tle meaning
may not be understood, but if we say that the girl was ashamed or
anaid, eveiyone will undeistand wlat tle statement means. Tleie-
fore when the Buddha wanted to emphasise the development of a
sense of shame or fear as deterrents to evil deeds, he used the
common mode of expression.
2) If we say that the aggregates have only their own kamma as
their possession, the meaning may be ambiguous, but if we say that
individuals commit deeds with wholesome or unwholesome inten-
tions, and that therefore, these mental formations are their own
possession, the individual nature of their kamma can be understood.
When the Buddha expounded kamma he used names as employed
in current speech.
28 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
3) If we say that the aggregates built houses or donated monaster-
ies, the meaning will not be clear. So when we speak about
Anātla¡iṇḍila we say tlat le donated tle Jetavana monasteiy,
mentioning him by name. Then the meaning will be clearly under-
stood. Hence the use of individual names.
4) When we say that the aggregates kill their parents, no one will
be able to understand what it means, but everyone will understand
if we say tlat tle son lilled lis motlei, oi tlat Ajātasauu lilled lis
fatlei, Bimbisāia. Evil lammas at once seize mauicides and ¡auicides
tle moment tlat tley die, and tlis eﬀect of lamma is said to be
iiiedeemable. It is tle leaviest [¡e of evil lamma (ānantariya) and
beais nuit witlout fail in tle next existence. In an ex¡lanation of tlis
kind, the Buddha used common language.
Ajātasauu was seized by leavy lamma because le lilled lis fatlei.
So altlougl le lad lad tle o¡¡oituni[ to leai tle Buddla teacl,
he failed to get illumined in the Dhamma. Killing his father acted as
an impediment to the realisation of the path, and so is regarded as
an obsuuction (maggantarāya). Ahei lis deatl le went suaiglt to
tle Lolalumblī lell, losing tle o¡¡oituni[ to be ieboin in leaven.
Therefore, it is also regarded as an impediment to gaining the celestial
5) If we say that aggregates send their good wishes to other
aggregates for their long life and happiness one may not under-
stand what it means. So we say that monks and laymen wish other
monls and laymen la¡¡iness and libeiation nom luman suﬀeiing.
The Buddha taught his disciples about the practice of the Divine
Abidings (Brahmāvihāra) — the exercise of loving-kindness,
com¡assion, sym¡atletic-joy, and equanimi[. Cultivation of tlese
noble virtues is known as Brahmāvihāra. When the Buddha wanted
to ex¡ound tlis docuine le used tle conventional way of teacling.
Here, those who do not know the Buddha’s reasons in teaching
tle Dlamma imagine tlat tle ultimate teacling is beuei and
therefore, send their good wishes not to the individual, but to the
aggregates. It must be remembered that in practising the Divine
Abidings, not only tle geneiic teim, all beings, is used, but s¡eciﬁc
terms such as “all men,” or “all women.” In sending loving-
kindness to others one has to direct the mind to the recipients as
individuals, and not to mind and mauei. Mind and mauei being
The Puri of Gis 29
absuactions, tley would seem lile biicls and stones, and if so,
wlat beneﬁt is tleie in sending one’s lind tlouglts to inanimate
objects? It is, therefore, the usual practice that when practising the
Divine Abidings, you must iecognise tle individuali[ of tlose on
whom your mind dwells.
6) If we say that out aggregates can remember their past, no one
will be able to understand what that means. So we say the Buddha
remembered this, or an Arahant remembered that. Therefore, when
the Buddha wanted to say something about the recollection of past
events using his supernormal powers he used the conventional way
7) If we say tlat we male oﬀeiings to tle aggiegates, it will be
ambiguous. One set of aggregates gives food to another set of
aggregates, or gives robes to another set of aggregates. How can
aggregates give and receive? Which group of aggregates performs
the meritorious deed of giving, and which group of aggregates makes
demerits? Which group is wholesome and which unwholesome? If
one uses sucl absuactions, confusion would suiely aiise. Tle Buddla,
therefore, referred to the giver and the recipient as individuals.
The Purity of Gifts
Heie, let me tell you about tle ¡uii[ of gihs. Tleie aie foui linds
of sucl ¡uii[, as follows:
1. Wlen a ¡eison ¡iactising moiali[ gives alms to one not
¡iactising it, tle givei eains meiit. Tle gih is ¡uie.
2. Wlen a ¡eison not ¡iactising moiali[ gives alms to one
¡iactises it, tle gih iemains ¡uie nom tle ¡oint of view of tle
recipient. The giver, therefore, earns merit all the same; and the merit
3. Wlen botl tle givei and tle ieci¡ient of tle gih aie immoial,
tle gih is im¡uie, and tle act of giving is of no avail. Even wlen tle
givei slaies lis meiits to tle lungiy glosts, tle lauei cannot ieceive
tlem and will not be ieleased nom tle woild of lungiy glosts.
4. Wlen botl tle givei and tle ieci¡ient of gihs aie ¡uie in
moiali[, tle gihs will also be ¡uie, and meiits acciuing nom sucl
giving will earn the highest merit.
Gihs can be fuitlei classiﬁed into tlose given to individuals and
tlose given to tle Saṅgla.
30 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Gifts to Individuals
Tleie aie fouiteen giades of gihs accoiding to tle fouiteen linds
of individuals to wlom gihs can be made. Tley aie gihs to:
1. An Omniscient Buddha
2. A Pacceka Buddha (a Solitary or non-teaching Buddha)
3. An Arahant
4. One wlo is suiving foi Aialantsli¡
5. A Non-returner
6. One wlo is suiving foi Non-ietuining
7. A Once-returner
8. One wlo is suiving foi Once-ietuining
9. A Sueam-Winnei
10. One wlo is suiving foi Sueam-winning (Heie, all tlose
embiacing Buddlism aie to be iegaided as suiving foi
Sueam-winning. So, in tlis categoiy aie included initiates wlo
lave just talen iefuge in tle Buddla, Dlamma, and Saṅgla,
to tlose wlo aie actively ueading tle Noble Patl. (Tlis is
what the Commentaries say).
11. One who is endowed with supernormal powers, outside the
scope of the Buddha’s teachings.
12. One wlo is endowed witl moiali[, outside tle sco¡e of tle
13. One wlo las no moiali[.
14. An animal.
Merits Accruing from Gifts to Individuals
Gihs to animals can acciue meiits a lundiedfold.
Gihs to individuals not ¡iactising moiali[ can acciue meiits a
Gihs to individuals ¡iactising moiali[ outside tle sco¡e of tle
Buddha’s teaching can accrue merits a thousandfold, throughout a
Gihs to individuals endowed witl su¡einoimal ¡owei outside
the scope of the Buddha’s teaching can accrue merits for a million-
Gihs oﬀeied to individuals laving tle ¡otential to become
Sueam-winneis can acciue meiits foi innumeiable life-cycles.
Sucl gihs can be classiﬁed accoiding to tle status of tle ieci¡ients,
and meiits gained aie giaded accoiding to tleii viitue. Gihs to tlose
The Puri of Gis 31
wlo abide by ﬁve ¡iece¡ts, bestow moie meiits tlan tlose to ¡eisons
just taling iefuge in tle Tii¡le Gem. Tle following ieci¡ients of gihs
are arranged in ascending order of merit: individuals abiding by
eiglt ¡iece¡ts, by ten ¡iece¡ts, tlose ¡iactising concenuation, tlose
¡iactising insiglt meditation, lay ¡eisons ¡iactising moiali[, monls
¡iactising moiali[, monls ¡iactising concenuation and insiglt
diligently, tlose auaining insiglt lnowledge in oidei of tle stages
ieacled, tlose suiving foi Sueam-winning, and so foitl.
Theoretically, the highest merit will be gained if one makes
oﬀeiings to a meditatoi wlo is auaining tle Noble Patl, but as tle
duration of the Noble Path lasts only one thought-moment, it is
impracticable to act at that particular moment so that it can accrue
the highest merit. It is possible to gain the highest advantage out of
a gih to an oidinaiy ¡eison of viitue, wlo las ieacled tle stage of
lnowledge of equanimi[ about foimations, tle nintl stage of insiglt.
Tle enoimi[ of tle meiits deiived nom gihs to Sueam-winneis,
Once-ietuineis, Non-ietuineis, and Aialants can beuei be imagined
than described. They can last for an aeon.
Gifts to the Saṅgha
Gihs oﬀeied to tle Buddla and tle Saṅgla aie called Saṅghika
dāna which is of seven kinds.
Gihs of food and otlei allowable iequisites oﬀeied collectively
to tle Buddla, tle Blilllu Saṅgla, and tle Blillluṇī Saṅgla
accrue merits of the highest order.
Next is gihs made to tle Blilllu Saṅgla and tle Blillluṇī
Saṅgla ahei tle Buddla’s parinibbāna. Heie tle Saṅgla means all
monls and nuns wlo came to tle ¡lace of oﬀeiing wletlei by
invitation or not.
Tliid aie gihs oﬀeied to tle Blilllu Saṅgla. Tlese days it is
customary for a benefactor to invite all the monks residing in a
monastery to receive alms. Such charitable acts belong to this category.
Fouitl aie gihs oﬀeied to tle Blillluṇī Saṅgla. Now-a-days
sucl gihs aie no longei ¡ossible as tleie aie no longei any bhikkhuṇīs.
Fihl aie gihs made by benefactois by invitation to a s¡eciﬁed numbei
of bhikkhus and bhikkhuṇīs nom tleii ies¡ective monasteiies. Tlis lind
of gihs is also not ¡ossible tlese days foi tle ieason stated above.
Tle sixtl aie gihs made by invitation to a s¡eciﬁed numbei of
32 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
The practice prevailing now is for the benefactor to approach the
lead of tle monasteiy and invite a s¡eciﬁed numbei of bhikkhus to
lis louse wleie tle oﬀeiing is to be made so tlat le can diiect lis
veneiation to tle entiie Blilllu Saṅgla wlicl tle invited monls
represent. In this kind of almsgiving the benefactor has no personal
aims foi any ¡aiticulai monl oi monls but foi tle wlole Saṅgla.
The head of the monastery would send his monks either in order of
tleii senioii[ oi by diawing lots. Among tlem tleie may be some
whom the benefactor would not like to revere. Albeit, he must be
ieveiential to all of tlem as ie¡iesentatives of tle Saṅgla.
Wlen one oﬀeis ﬂoweis and liglts to a tle Buddla image, tle
image just seives tle ¡ui¡ose of diawing one’s ieveiential auention
to the Buddha. Actually one’s mind is not on the image, but on the
Buddha. The image is only an object that directs one ’s mind to the
Buddha. In the same way the monks who visit the benefactor’s house
to ieceive tle gihs aie only ie¡iesentatives, and tley diaw lis mind
to the existence of the Buddha’s disciples for whom he is actually
maling tle oﬀeiing. Tle monls in lis ¡iesence seive only as a means
by which he becomes mindful of the fact that he is giving alms to
tle Buddla’s disci¡les oiganised as tle Saṅgla. It is tlis signiﬁcance
that renders Saṅghika dāna highly meritorious.
Regaiding tle use of sucl oﬀeiings, only tle monls wlo aie neai
at hand can use them, as allowed by the rules of discipline. When a
donoi oﬀeis food to a monl going iound foi alms saying “Saṅghassa
demi,” (I give to tle Saṅgla), it is Saṅghika dāna, as tle oﬀeiing is
intended foi tle entiie Saṅgla. Howevei, if tle monl ieceives tle
oﬀeiing saying, “Mayhaṃ papuṇāti” (It has come into my hands), the
food becomes his own, and he can use it himself. However, there is
a saying witl ies¡ect to tlis ¡iivilege. Wlen you oﬀei liglts to tle
Buddha image, you dedicate it to the Buddha who actually lived in
the past. The light of your wholesome actions radiates all around. It
is all-encompassing, but the light of the candle that you donate to
the image can shed its rays only within its precincts. If the monk in
question brings all the food he gets during the alms-round to the
monastery, all the monks residing there can have a share, as according
to tle iules of disci¡line, tle oﬀeiing is Saṅghika. In that case it will
be good both for the donor and the recipient. It is important that one
slould lnow tle meiitoiious way of oﬀeiing alms.
Insight Meditation During Acts of Chari 33
Tle seventl aie gihs made by benefactois by invitation to a
s¡eciﬁed numbei of bhikkhuṇīs. Tle lead of tle Blillluṇī Saṅgla
usually decided wlo slould acce¡t tle invitation. Sucl gihs aie now
no longer possible for the reasons given before.
On Saṅghika dāna tle Buddla las tlis to say: “Ānanda! Nevei
would I say tlat claii[ towaids individuals is moie beneﬁcial to
tle donoi tlan tlat towaids tle Saṅgla.” In tle Commentaiies it
has been shown that giving alms to an ordinary monk whom the
entire group of monks directs to receive them as their representative
in accordance with the rules of discipline accrues more merit than
giving alms individually to a Noble One sucl as an Aialant. Gihs
oﬀeied to tle Saṅgla aie always iated tle liglest.
Wlen tle Buddla wisled to em¡lasize tle ¡uii[ and nobili[ of
gihs to tle Saṅgla le tauglt in tle conventional way iefeiiing to
tle ieci¡ients of gihs using tleii ¡eisonal names. So fai we lave tle
foui linds of ¡uie gihs, fouiteen linds of gihs to individuals and
seven linds of gihs to tle Saṅgla. In iefeiiing to tlem tle ultimate
way of teaching is not employed and therefore there is no mention
of aggregates or sense-faculties. Only individuals are mentioned.
This is a point worthy of note for donors and recipients alike when
they are performing the act of libation.
Insight Meditation During Acts of Charity
I em¡lasise tlis ¡oint just to iemind you of tle im¡io¡iie[ of
allowing insiglt meditation to get mixed u¡ witl acts of claii[.
Some would lile to tlinl tlat it is beuei if, in ¡iactising claii[,
insight meditation is also practised. So during the libation the
following formula is used:
“I, a giou¡ of mental and mateiial aggiegates, male tlis oﬀeiing
of material aggregates to this individual, who is also just a group of
aggregates, and these are all subject to impermanence, unsatisfacto-
riness, and not-self.”
This formula is not in accordance with the Buddha’s teaching. It is
incongruous. The act of giving is performed for the sake of merits
deiived nom it. It is not ¡eifoimed foi tle sale of insiglt. If one’s mind
is bent upon insight meditation, there is no need for one to be giving
alms. One should merely retire to a place of solitude and practise
insiglt meditation, tlen one’s concenuation will get suongei, tleieby
34 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
giving tle maximum beneﬁt. One will gain meiits deiived nom insiglt
meditation. Tleie is a woild of diﬀeience between ¡io¡ei meditation
practise and a few minutes during the performance of libation.
Wlat is im¡oitant duiing acts of claii[ is to iendei oneself woitly
of tle accumulation of meiits deiived nom giving alms, by giving
tlem away witl sinceii[ of ¡ui¡ose. Tlat is wly we exloit almsgiveis
to iejoice in tleii good deeds. Meiits gained nom claiitable acts will
be multi¡lied if tle donoi contem¡lates on tle ligl moiali[ of tle
ieci¡ients oi tle usefulness and suitabili[ of tle objects given away.
Such contemplation would lead to more rejoicing because of which
tle givei will enjoy tle cumulative eﬀects of tle meiits gained. If one
contem¡lates on tle aggiegates of tle ieci¡ient and iealises tleii uue
natuie, one will not be able to disciiminate between tle moiali[ and
immoiali[ oi tle nobleness and ignominy of tle lauei, foi, tlese
qualities emanating nom tle aggiegates aie all absuactions. Again,
if one contemplates on the aggregates relating to the objects given
away and iealises tleii uue natuie, all tlat one las given away would
be worthless like stones and pebbles, in which case what is there to
rejoice about? Without rejoicing the merit comes to naught.
It may be argued, as indeed some do, that as insight meditation
is moie noble tlan claii[, it will be moie ¡ioﬁtable to indulge in it
tlan to give away tlings in claii[. Indeed tlat aigument is sound.
Once all worries relating to alms-giving are eliminated, there will be
moie time to concenuate on meditation. In fact, claii[ is ¡iactised
not foi tle ¡ui¡oses of insiglt meditation, but to gain meiits nom
giving. Since tlat is so, it is beuei tlat tle donoi contem¡lates on
the act of giving so that he or she rejoices at it with the result that
merits are accumulated.
When, therefore, the Buddha wanted to teach his disciples and
devotees about tle ¡uii[ of gihs, le em¡loyed tle conventional
method of teaching, naming the individuals.
8) The eighth reason why the Buddha taught in the conventional
way is to follow common usage. Who could have realised more than
tle Buddla tlat all existences aie tle ¡lenomena of mind and mauei
arising and passing away and that all conditioned things are in a
state of ﬂux' On a¡¡io¡iiate occasions le tauglt tlem so, but tleie
are terms like mother, father, son, daughter, man, woman, god, monk,
The Concept of An Individual 35
etc. These terms are used in everyday speech, and the Buddha spoke
the language of the people current in his time.
The Concept of An Individual
Ahei all, tle conce¡t of an individual is just conventional language.
When we say that one is an individual, a being, a woman, or a man,
we are being realistic, for all mankind has accepted the descriptions
given. Truth ordained by general consensus of opinion is conven-
tional uutl (sammuti sacca). In otlei woids it is uutl acce¡ted by
the conventional language of mankind, and so it is not falsehood.
Not desiiing to abandon convention, tle Buddla, in tlis Blāia Suua,
made references to the porter as an individual.
To sum u¡, tle leavy buiden is tle ﬁve aggiegates, wlicl we
regard as “I” or “Mine” and the one who carries it is the individual
wlo is made u¡ of tle ﬁve aggiegates, but note tlat tle ﬁve
aggiegates cannot be conceived of as a se¡aiate enti[ nom tle
individual. This has been extensively explained before. Some may
not agiee witl tle ¡io¡osition tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates aie botl tle
burden and the porter. In that case, please regard the burden as the
ﬁve aggiegates wlicl desiie la¡¡iness and well-being, and tle
¡oitei as tle ﬁve aggiegates wlicl aie actually belabouiing foi tle
realisation of that happiness and well-being.
Now tlat tle buiden and tle ¡oitei lave been identiﬁed, tle only
thing that remains to be considered is how to discard the burden.
That will be the subject of my next lecture. Now that the time is up,
I must close.
May tlose wlo lave given tleii ies¡ectful auention to tle
discouise ielating to tle Blāia Suua be able to develo¡ as sense of
ie¡ugnance towaids tle ﬁve aggiegates wlicl o¡¡iess us as a leavy
load does, to note tle ¡lenomena of tle ﬁve aggiegates aiising and
passing away at the six sense-doors, and eventually, by such noting
oi insiglt meditation ¡iactice, to ieacl nibbāna wleie tle buiden
can be thrown away.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
Discourse on the Bhāra Sutta Part II
Delivered on 12th December 1966
This is the second part of my lecture, a continuation of the one I
delivered a fortnight ago, wherein I dealt with the aggregates of
auaclment as tle buiden, and tle individual as tle ¡oitei caiiying
tle buiden. In otlei woids, mind and mauei aie tle buiden wlile
eacl of us is tle ¡oitei. We aie daily seiving oui ﬁve aggiegates by
cleansing it, dressing it, feeding it, entertaining it, nurturing it, etc.
We aie constantly ¡aying auention to its well-being. By now, I lo¡e,
you are convinced how heavy the burden is.
Picking Up the Burden
Now, why do people carry this burden knowing it to be very heavy?
Who prompts them to carry it? A serious consideration is enough to
show you that no one is prompting anybody to carry it. One carries it
of one’s own nee will. Tlose wlo believe in cieation miglt say tlat God
makes us carry it. If that is so, the poor, the diseased, the maimed, the
blind, the deaf, and the oppressed would have ample reason to quarrel
with God. According to the Buddha’s teaching no one ever imposed the
burden on us. It is each individual who accepts it. The Buddha said:
“Katamañca, bhikkhave, bhārādānaṃ? Yāyaṃ taṇhā
ponobhavikā nandīrāgasahagatā taataābhinandinī,
seyyathidaṃ — kāmataṇhā, bhavataṇhā, vibhavataṇhā. Idaṃ
vuccati, bhikkhave, bhārādānaṃ.”
“O bhikkhus! What is it that picks up the burden? Craving
that takes delight now here, now there, namely sensual
craving, craving for existence, and craving for non-
existence. This, monks, is called picking up the burden.”
Craving is Hungry for Sense-objects
Craving is much like hunger or thirst. It yearns for pleasant,
wholesome, and beautiful objects. It is never satiated and always
hungry for new sense objects. Having seen a pleasurable thing, it
desires to see another. It likes to hear sweet music, it likes to smell
nagiant odouis, it liles to enjoy delicious tastes, it liles to feel
pleasant touch; it wants to think or imagine about fascinating ideas.
It never gets satiated with objects that appeal to the senses.
Campeyya, the King of the Nāgas 37
When the mind dwells on a pleasant object, desire to possess it is
aioused. Tlis desiie acce¡ts tle buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates. Desiie
foi sense-objects is auaclment, wlicl suives foi tle fulﬁlment of desiie.
This produces wholesome and unwholesome kammas — good and evil
actions. As one nears death, these actions appear as signs associated with
good or evil actions done in the past, or signs that indicate the destiny
about to iesult nom sucl actions. Since individuals cling to tlese signs,
a new giou¡ of aggiegates aiises ahei deatl as a iesult of tlat auaclment.
It may be seen that the six senses play their part in the creation
of desiie oi auaclment. Tle develo¡ment of desiie is tantamount to
tle acce¡tance of tle buiden of tle body. Because of desiie, auacl-
ment is motivated, and this we describe as the craving that gives rise
to new aggregates. Hence we say that craving creates a new existence
ahei deatl. About tle natuie of becoming (bhava), please refer to my
discourse on Dependent Origination, wherein I have given the
explanation at some length.
Craving gets absorbed into sense-objects with which it comes
into contact, without discrimination, like dyes that permeate the
mateiial to be dyed. It auacles itself to tlem wletlei sucl auacl-
ment is proper or not. It takes a fancy to everything it sees, hears,
smells, tastes, touches, or thinks about. So it is described in the texts
as taking delight in objects. It never gets weary with enjoyment. One
may assume that a wealthy man will have no inclination for inferior
living conditions. He would be dissatisﬁed oi disgusted living in
such conditions, but if he gets impoverished in his new life he will
ﬁnd it enjoyable. Fiom a luman ¡eis¡ective tle bodies of woims
or snakes are abhorrent. The very thought that one could be reborn
as a worm or snake is disgusting. However, when kamma gives its
results, and an individual is reborn as a worm or a snake, the worm
oi snale ﬁnds life in tle animal lingdom liglly enjoyable. Tlat is
tle woil of ciaving, wlicl ﬁnds joy and ¡leasuie wleievei it is
posted. The Buddha has described it as a disposition that revels in
sense-objects wleievei tley exist. It is exem¡liﬁed in tle stoiies of
Cam¡eyya, tle King of tle Nāgas, and of Queen U¡aiī.
Campeyya, the King of the Nāgas
Once, tle bodlisaua was ieboin as a ¡ooi man living by tle side
of tle Cam¡ā iivei. At tlat time tle luman ling of Aṅga and
38 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Māgadla tliew a feast as was tle custom in lonoui of Cam¡eyya,
tle nāga ling iesiding at tle bouom of tle Cam¡ā iivei. Tlen all
citizens came out to ¡aitici¡ate in tle festival. Tle nāga ling
appeared among men in the guise of a human being together with
his retinue of snakes, also in the guise of human beings.
Tle ¡ooi man, tle bodlisaua, saw tle nāga ling and lis
followers in all their glory, so he gave alms, wishing to be reborn
as a nāga in lis next existence, so le was ieboin as a nāga. Wlen
he looked at his own body he felt it to be repugnant. He thought
to limself: “Tle acts of claii[ tlat I did wlile I was a luman
being should have produced wholesome results and led to rebirth
in the world of devas … in one of the six celestial planes, but it did
not because I longed foi iebiitl as a nāga. Tlat was a mistale. It
weie beuei to die tlan continue to be a snale,” and le tlouglt
Howevei, at tlat time Sumanā, a female nāga, was by lis side.
Sle at once gave tle signal to nāga couitesans to enteitain tle new
nāga ling, also lnown as Cam¡eyya, foi tlat was wlat tle
bodlisaua lad become. All tle snales, in tle guise of luman
beings, all beautiful, entertained him with music and dancing. On
tlis, tle new nāga ling, came aiound to tlinling tlat lis abode
was as good as that of the king of devas, then exulted in his new
existence. He lad now become at one witl all tle female nāgas
who entertained him.
For some time he was forgetful how he hated his snake life, but
being a bodlisaua, le came to lis senses and iealised tle uue
situation. Then he thought of a way to escape the present existence
and become a human being again. He discovered that the only way
for him was to practice perfection through the commission of
meritorious deeds like alms-giving and observing precepts. This he
did by visiting the human world in the guise of a man.
Tlis stoiy illusuates tlat ciaving ievels in any situation anywleie.
Fiom tle ¡oint of a luman being, it may be assumed tlat a bodlisaua
might have felt the life of a snake as loathsome since snake bodies
aie usually ie¡ugnant, but wlen le was enteitained by female nāgas
he was delighted with his new life. This is the work of craving which
was prompting him to accept the heavy load of the new aggregates
as a nāga.
The Story of Queen Uparī 39
The Story of Queen Uparī
Long, long ago, King Assala was iuling in Pāṭali¡uua in Kāsi.
his chief queen was U¡aiī. It was tle uadition foi lings to cloose
tle ¡ieuiest maidens in tle iealm to be tleii queens, and, tleiefoie,
there can be no doubt that the queen was very beautiful. He doted
upon her, but unfortunately she died while still young. In court
language, her death was described as “going to heaven,” but actually
she failed to reach heaven, and was reborn as a beetle.
The king was heart-broken. He kept her body preserved in sesame
oil in a glass coﬃn ¡laced undei lis bed. He iefused food and we¡t
incessantly. His ministeis uied to consol lim, ieminding lim of tle
law of moitali[, but le mouined foi seven full days gazing at tle
preserved body of his beloved.
At tlat time oui bodlisaua was a meditatoi wlo lad gained
supernormal powers. One day he surveyed the world to see whom
le could libeiate nom miseiy by teacling tle Dlamma. He saw in
his mind’s eye the king in great sorrow, and knowing that no one but
limself could save lim nom sucl a situation, le visited tle ioyal
gaiden wleie le met a bialmin auendant. He asled tle lauei about
the king. When he was told how bereaved the king was, he suggested
that if the king would come to him, he would disclose the destiny of
the queen. The brahmin hurried to the palace and told his master,
“Sire! There has arrived at the royal garden a sage who possesses the
divine eye. He can reveal your queen’s present existence and show
you where she now is. Please, visit him.”
The King was very glad, and at once repaired to the garden by
chariot. Arriving there, he paid due respects to the sage. Then he
asled: “Is it uue tlat you can tell me wleie my queen is'” “Yes,”
said tle bodlisaua, “youi queen, wlile in tlis luman woild was
immensely ¡ioud of lei beau[, s¡ending lei days caiing foi it,
foigeuing to do meiitoiious deeds of alms-giving and lee¡ing tle
precepts. When she died, she was reborn as a beetle, and is now
living in the southern part of this garden.”
Pride is associated with riches, family connection, education, status
in life, and ¡lysical beau[. Wlen one is oveiwlelmed by ¡iide, one
forgets to be kind-hearted and respectful, or to be of service to others
to acquire merit. The Buddha said in the Cūḷalammaviblaṅga Suua
that pride usually debases a person possessing it. If one is humble,
40 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
one can as¡iie to nobili[ in tle next existence. In tle case of Queen
U¡aiī it may be ¡iesumed tlat in lei laugltiness sle miglt lave
behaved disrespectfully to those who ought to be respected, and it
is because of this that she was reborn as a lowly beetle.
Wlen tle ling leaid tlis le could not believe it, so tle bodlisaua
said that he would summon the beetle to appear before the king and
tall witl lim. Using lis su¡einoimal ¡oweis tle bodlisaua called
the beetle, and a pair of beetles, one male and the other female,
appeared out of the dung-hill. He then showed them to the king,
saying, “O ling! Lool at tle female beetle following in tle uail of
her mate. She was your queen. She has abandoned you now in favour
of her present husband. Look at her closely. She follows her husband
wherever he chooses to go.”
Still the king was not convinced. Those who do not believe in the
law of lamma and its eﬀects and in tle law of de¡endent oiigination
are unable to accept that a human queen could have gone so low as
to become a beetle in her next existence. Even in these days of the
Buddha’s dispensation there are some who hold that once you are a
human being, you cannot be reborn into a plane of existence inferior
to that of human existence. Outside the aegis of the Buddha’s
dispensation there were many who held the view similar to that of
the dissenters of the present day. According to the Buddha’s teaching,
as long as one las not auained tle state of a Noble One, anyone in
the fortunate planes of existence may descend to the four lower
realms. Even if one is the king of the devas it does not mauei. One’s
mode of iebiitl ahei deatl de¡ends on low one is mindful at deatl’s
door. If one’s mind is directed to wholesome thoughts when dying,
one may be reborn as a man or a deva, however lowly he may be,
but tle conveise is also uue.
There is the story about Venerable Tissa. On his death-bed, his
mind got auacled to tle sanon iobe tlat le was weaiing. Tle iesult
was tlat le was ieboin as a louse maling its lome in lis sanon
iobe. Tleie is anotlei stoiy about a nog being ieboin in Tāvatiṃsa
as a deva since it died listening to the the Buddha while he was
teaching. However, as the king had never heard of such stories he
could not believe wlat tle bodlisaua told lim.
Tleiefoie, tle bodlisaua made aiiangements by wlicl tle female
beetle could talk about herself. Through his supernormal powers he
The Story of Queen Uparī 41
set the following conversation going, at the same time making it
understood by the king and those present.
Bodhisaa: “Female beetle. Who were you in your previous
Female Beetle: “I was U¡aiī, tle Clief Queen of King Assala.”
Bodhisaa: “Do you love Assaka or your present husband, the
Female Beetle: “When I was a human being, I felt happy with
my former husband, the king, with whom I used to enjoy the
pleasures of life in this very garden, but I am now leading a new life
in this world of beetles. So Assaka has nothing to do with me now.”
According to the Commentaries, she went further than that and
“I would ielisl cuuing u¡ tle jugulai vein of King Assala so tlat
I could wash the feet of my present dear husband with his blood.”
Isn’t tlat ciuel of tle ex-queen' It may be tlat sle was uying to
please her present husband, the beetle, but in life there are many
instances similar to this. When a family breaks up, the wife gets
divoiced nom lei ﬁist lusband and tales anotlei lusband. In sucl
a case, the wife may love and care for her present husband without
any consideration for her former husband. The following is the
version of the Commentaries regarding the female beetle ’s reply.
“I, wlo loved Assala wlen I was lis queen, ohen used to wandei
in this southern part of the garden, enjoying all the comforts and
luxuries of life as the beloved Queen of my lord and master, but the
joys and la¡¡iness in tlis life as a beetle fai uanscends tlose of my
past life. Therefore I love my present husband, even though he is a
lowly beetle, far more than I loved the king.”
Hearing this unkind remark of the female beetle, King Assaka
was moitiﬁed. “I loved and adoied lei so mucl,” le tlouglt, “tlat
even when she died I could not part with her body, but she is hard
and ciuel to me.” So le at once oideied lis auendants to tliow away
her dead body. Later, he chose another beautiful lady of the court to
be lis queen. Having admonisled lim, tle bodlisaua ietuined to
Queen U¡aiī, wlile a luman being, could nevei lave enteitained,
without feelings of repugnance, thoughts of being reborn as a beetle,
but when kamma was at work, she became a beetle and felt delighted
42 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
with the body of a beetle, which she considered far superior to King
Assaka. This is why the text says that craving takes delight in any
situation in which it operates.
Dogs delight in being dogs, pigs in being pigs, chickens in being
chickens, and worms in being worms. In our human lives, there are
instances of wealtly ¡eo¡le suddenly being ieduced to ¡ovei[. Tley
not only tolerate the new situation into which they are thrown by
the force of kamma, but also revel in it. Feeling so happy with the
new destiny, some eiiing youtls ievolting ¡aiental autloii[ in
preference for an inferior way of life would refuse to return to their
foimei enviionment des¡ite tle enueaties of tleii ¡aients, so mucl
enchanted were they with their new surroundings. This is because
of the machinations of craving.
Craving is threefold, namely, craving for sensual pleasures,
craving for sensual pleasures associated with the view of eternalism
and craving for sensual pleasures associated with the view of
annihilationism. These cravings receive and accept the aggregates.
Sensual craving is craving for objects that yield sensual pleasures.
Such objects may originate in ourselves or in others. When things of
joy and beau[ auact us, we must at once iecognise tlat ciaving foi
those things has developed in us. Beautiful sense-objects do not
meiely mean tle ¡iimaiy objects of joy and beau[. Wlen we iefei
to a beautiful girl or a handsome boy, we are not referring only to
the girl or the boy who possesses good looks, but also the accessories
of beautiﬁcation sucl as diess etc. So wlen we say ciaving las
developed, we do not mean that it is only for sights and sounds that
are enjoyable, but also for the accessories. Consider when we speak
of craving for good smell, delicious taste, pleasurable touch, or a
fascinating idea. When we desire to become human beings, devas,
men, women, etc., our desires relate to sensual pleasures to be
ex¡ected nom sense-objects tlat a¡¡eai at tle six sense-doois. Tle
develo¡ment of ciaving is due to delusion, wlicl coveis u¡ tle uue
natuie of ¡lenomena, slowing only tle o¡¡osite of uutl, tlus
conuibuting to tle emeigence of wiong tlinling.
Sensual Craving 43
As it coveis u¡ tle uutl, falselood slows tlings in a favouiable
light. It reveals impermanence as permanence, unsatisfactoriness as
satisfactoriness, and not-self as self. Hence not-self is mistaken as self.
Likewise, unwholesomeness and ugliness are mistaken for whole-
someness and beau[. Wlen delusion involes ciaving, auaclment
aiises, and because of tlis auaclment we uy oui veiy best to fulﬁl
oui desiies. As we male gieat eﬀoits to fulﬁl desiie, lamma and
mental formations are brought into play. They create new aggregates.
So, ahei one life we go ovei to anotlei in a new giou¡s of ﬁve
aggregates, by virtue of the craving prompted by delusion. As a
iesult, we aie leh witl tle buiden of aggiegates to caiiy.
We always want the best, but we rarely get it. An individual may
long to become a luman being oi a dei[, but instead of becoming
what he or she wants to become, may have to go down to the four
lower realms by the force of kamma. One may be reborn an animal:
as a buﬀalo, an ox, a cliclen, oi a woim. It is a loueiy. Eveiybody
enteis tle loueiy lo¡ing to win tle stai ¡iize, but only tle lucliest
gets it. Others have to be content with a prize of ten-thousand or
one-thousand. Many go away with just a few hundred. Most draw
only blanls and get notling — not eveiyone can get tle ﬁist ¡iize.
Lilewise, not eveiyone can become a luman being oi a dei[.
Those who possess good kamma may be reborn in those higher planes
of existence, but good kamma can be achieved only through the
¡iactice of claii[, moiali[, and concenuation. Tlose wlo fail to
perform these wholesome deeds, cannot gain rebirth into this human
world or the celestial realms, but are likely to be consigned to hell,
or to the animal or hungry ghost realms. All new aggregates have
tleii genesis in ciaving, wlicl ﬁnds enjoyment in ¡leasant objects,
and is, therefore, said to be the one who picks up the burden.
Every time we accept a desirable sense-object, we are accepting
the heavy burden of the aggregates. Having accepted it, we have to
caiiy it and seive it foi foi[, ﬁµ, oi a lundied yeais amidst untold
hardship and misery. Had we realised this before, we would have
iegaided auaclment to desiiable objects witl abloiience. In fact,
we would be moie tlan loiiiﬁed lad we lnown befoieland tlat
because of tlis auaclment we would be ieboin into tle animal iealm
44 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
to bear the burden of an animal’s aggregates, or worse still, into the
hungry ghost realm to bear the burden of a hungry ghost’s aggregates.
Eailiei I told you about lungiy glosts wlo suﬀeied because of
tleii evil deeds, wlicl tley commiued uiged by tleii desiies. If we
knew beforehand that such desires would ultimately lead us to hell
we would be all tle moie nigltened. King Ajātasauu lad a suong
desire for the life of a king lolling in luxuries, so he killed his father.
As a consequence of this evil deed, he was thrown into the
Lolalumblī lell to wlicl foui sons of iicl men lad alieady been
consigned ahei deatl foi tleii lustful desiies. As lumans tley lad
commiued adulteiy, slee¡ing witl otlei ¡eo¡le ’s wives wlom tley
seduced witl money. Tle Lolalumblī lell is a cauldion of immense
size. The four sinners were boiled in molten iron, now sinking to the
bouom, now iising to tle suiface, oﬀ and on.
It tool 30,000 yeais foi eacl of tlem to sinl nom tle suiface to tle
bouom, and anotlei 30,000 yeais to iise u¡ to tle suiface. Ahei a ¡eiiod
of 60,000 yeais, tle foui met togetlei foi a ﬂeeting moment on tle suiface
of the molten iron, when they sought to say something about their
toiment, but eacl could uuei only one syllable and sanl down again.
Wlat tley uied to say could only be leaid as foui syllables: “du,
sa, na, so.” Tle ﬁist man wlo uueied “du” meant to say that while
le was a luman le failed to ¡iactice acts of claii[ and obseive
moiali[, s¡ending lis wlole life in doing evil. Just as le was
beginning to say what he wanted to say, he was dragged down to
tle bouom. Tle second man wlo began aiticulating “sa” wanted to
say that he had been more than 60,000 years in hell wondering when
le would be ieleased. Lile tle ﬁist man le was also diagged down
to tle bouom able to uuei only one syllable. Tle tliid man lad
barely time enough to say “na” when he sank again. He meant to say
that he and his companions could see no end to their misery because
they had done nothing but evil in their human existence. The last
man who cried out “so” and sanl to tle bouom meant to ex¡iess lis
iegiets ¡iomising tlat if le weie ieleased nom lell le would ¡iactise
alms-giving and observe precepts to gain merit.
They were, no doubt, repentant, but it was to no avail since regrets
came ahei tle commission of evil deeds, wlicl lad alieady ¡ioduced
consequences. the Buddha, therefore, always enjoined us to be
mindful in good time.
Sensual Craving 45
“O monks! Bear this in mind. Be vigilant so that you do
not feel iemoiseful only ahei tle commission of evil
deeds. I have repeatedly warned you about this.”
Indeed, one must be vigilant. One must not be forgetful. One
becomes unmindful when one lolls in the luxury of sensual pleasures.
Tle Buddla, tleiefoie, wained us not to be lanleiing ahei tlem.
Only when you get old, or when you are nearing death, or when
you have already degraded yourself into the world of animals,
hungry ghosts, or into hell, you may repent for not having practised
tle Dlamma wlen you weie lale and leai[ in tle woild of luman
beings, but then it is too late. It is useless to repent, for, under the
circumstances described above, you will not be able to do anything
to male amends. Now tlat you lave tle o¡¡oituni[ to ¡iactise
insight meditation, be heedful.
Every lay person or monk should consider the words of the
Buddha seriously and abide by his admonition. We are enjoying life
now, but for how long? Leaving aside the period of youth and old
age, tleie is leh baiely a s¡an of foi[ of ﬁµ yeais duiing wlicl we
serve our aggregates. If, during that service, our life is unsupported
by meritorious deeds, only demerits would accumulate and they
will direct us to the four lower realms. The four rich men’s sons who
sanl to tle bouom of lell as tley ciied “du, sa, na, so,” suﬀeied foi
millions of years in their single span of life.
Unwholesome kamma can send us to the same fate met by the four
men. Remember too the fate of the hungry ghosts about whom I told
you befoie. Tlose wlo aie still suﬀeiing in tle woild of lungiy glosts
bowed to the wishes of their aggregates, forgetful of doing meritorious
deeds of claii[ and moiali[. If, duiing tlis ¡iesent life, we fail to
¡iactise tle Dlamma foi tle iealisation of tle ¡atl and its nuition,
yielding to carnal desires, who can guarantee that we will not go to
tle foui lowei iealms ahei oui demise' Now is tle o¡¡oituni[ foi
us to get tle beneﬁt of tle teaclings of tle Buddla as lis dis¡ensation
is still ﬂouiisling. Seize tlis o¡¡oituni[ and ¡iactise claii[, moiali[,
and meditation: especially insight meditation. Regarding this, there
is a veise com¡osed by an ex¡eiienced Sayādaw:
“Nāhaṃ dāso bhato tuyhaṃ; nāhaṃ posemi dāni taṃ;
tvameva posento dukkhaṃ; pao vaṭṭe anappakaṃ.”
46 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
“O body! I am neither your slave nor your employee.
Having lad tle beneﬁt of tle Buddla’s teacling. I can
no longer nourish or nurture you.”
Before the Buddha’s time, when his teachings had not been
propagated, people nourished their bodies according to their dictates,
but when the Buddha taught that the aggregates were a burden, that
the burden was very heavy, that these aggregates could never be
satiated with whatever nourishment fed to them, that they could never
be depended upon for help in times of crisis since they are imperma-
nent, and that nurturing them meant untold miseries in the lower
realms throughout the cycle of existences, they stopped bowing to
their wishes and desires, and turned their minds to the practice of the
Dhamma. Why did they stop? The second verse gives the answer.
“I lave nuituied you and yet I lave suﬀeied untold
miseries going round and round in the endless cycle of
We have been yielding to the wishes and desires of our bodies.
When we are commanded to go, we go; when we are commanded
to s¡eal, we s¡eal, wlen we aie commanded to ﬁnd food, we ﬁnd
food. In this way we are servants to our bodies. Perhaps as servants,
we might have done our duties faithfully and justly. Doing these
things is wearisome, but it does not generate evil. So it may be all
right, but if, in the service of our bodies, we happen to do evil, such
as earning a livelihood by dishonest means, we are done for.
Inevitably we will be going round and round in the endless cycle
of existence, suﬀeiing eitlei in lell, in tle animal iealm, oi in tle iealm
of hungry ghosts. For example, just to sustain our life, we might have
resorted to killing, looting, stealing, or cheating. Perhaps we might
have maligned others or indulged in gossip about others, just to make
capital out of the disharmony created. All these are unwholesome
kammas, which pave the way to hell. Those indulging in such misdeeds
may sometimes be reborn in the world of human beings and deities,
but they are bound to be miserable in spite of their favourable existence.
Suffering as Seen by Meditators
Tle suﬀeiing desciibed so fai ielate to tlat ex¡eiienced by
ordinary human beings. To meditators even the apparently happy
Craving for Existence 47
lives of human beings, devas, and brahmas are regarded as dukkha, a
teim commonly uanslated as suﬀeiing. In tlis luman woild, even
though one feels quite happy, one is burdened by the aggregates,
which have to be fed and cared for throughout life. This in itself is
suﬀeiing, but it will be moie obvious if one falls sicl. Someone wlo
has nothing to do with us would not care to nurse us. Of course one
may liie a nuise, but even tlen it is unlilely sle can auend constantly,
even if one pays her very well. When we speak of the life of devas
we may not be able to say witl ceitain[ because we lave nevei seen
them, but consider them enjoying a sensuous life. They too will have
tle suﬀeiing of satis(ing tleii sensual desiies. Tle ling of devas is
ie¡uted to lave many female auendants, but le may not always be
able to satis( tleii desiies. Wlen tley iemain unfulﬁlled, miseiy
will get tle beuei of tle devas. Brahmas do not indulge in sensuali[,
but even tlen tley will lave tle uouble of tleii mental foimations,
for they are always busy whiling away their time in thinking this or
that as they carry the burden of their aggregates.
A meditatoi consideis tlis state of aﬀaiis as unsatisfactoiy. If one
were to sit the whole day long without doing anything, one would
feel weaiy. If one weie to be siuing and iuminating foi a montl one
would feel miserable. Then what shall we say about those brahmas
siuing foi lundieds oi tlousands of yeais doing notling but
cogitating? Consider that this cogitation last for aeons! This is the
misery of indulging in mental activities. When a brahma dies, he
again gets into the world of human beings which is waiting for him
with all the concomitants of human misery. When circumstances are
unfavourable, even a brahma can be reborn as an animal or a hungry
ghost, or he may go down to the lower realms if the worst comes to
tle woist. So nom tle ¡oint of view of a wise man oi a meditatoi,
the state of being a brahma is unenviable, for he too has to bear the
biunt of tle ﬁve aggiegates wlicl ¡oitend suﬀeiing. So on tle eve
of their parinibbāna the Arahants used to contemplate: “For how
mucl longei will I caiiy tlis buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates, wlicl
gives iise to suﬀeiing'”
Craving for Existence
Having dealt with sensual craving, I now come to craving for existence
(bhavataṇhā). There are two wrong views held by ordinary persons about
48 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
life. One is called eternalism(sassata-diṭṭhi) while the other is annihilation-
ism(uccheda-diṭṭhi). Craving for existence arises in conjunction with the
eteinalistic view, wlicl assumes tlat ¡leasuies aie indesuuctible since
a living being continues tliouglout eteini[. Tle ¡lysical ¡ait of tle
body may be desuoyed, but tle s¡iiitual ¡ait of lives on as it migiates
nom one body to anotlei, giving iise to a new enti[. Tle univeise may
get desuoyed, but tle s¡iiit oi eteinal soul lives on. It is ¡eimanent, it is
eternal. Outside the teaching of Buddhism this view is the most popular.
Some who hold this view presume that when a man dies, he is raised to
heaven where he lives eternally, or alternately, he is consigned to hell,
also eternally, according to the will of God. Others would like to believe
tlat one’s s¡iiit migiates nom one body to anotlei and ienews itself
according to the working of one’s kamma. Another belief is that life is
¡iedeteimined and ﬁxed and it goes on eteinally accoiding to tlat
¡iedeteimination. Biieﬂy stated, a belief in eteini[ of tle soul is
eteinalism. Undei sucl a notion, life is lile a biid lo¡¡ing nom uee to
uee as tle old uee on wlicl it las ﬁist ¡eicled falls into decay. Wlen
tle ¡lysical body dies, tle living mauei moves out to anotlei new body.
Undei tle inﬂuence of ciaving foi existence su¡¡oited by tle idea
of eteini[, an individual is giatiﬁed witl tle tlouglt tlat tle self
abides in him permanently. He feels that what now exists is himself,
conﬁdent tlat wlat le is now enjoying can also be enjoyed in futuie
lives. Hence lis auaclment to all tlat le sees, leais, tastes, smells,
toucles, and tlinls giows suongei tliouglout existence. He not only
delights in sense-objects, which he experiences in the present life, but
also in tlose wlicl le lo¡es to ex¡eiience leieahei. He wants to enjoy
life now and to continue enjoying it in his next existence. Having led
a happy life as a human being, he goes even further than that, hoping
foi la¡¡iness as a dei[. Tlus desiie giows. Some would lile to be
male in all their existences, while others aspire to be female. All such
longings are the work of craving for existence. Yearning for the
sense-objects to wlicl one las become auacled means acce¡tance of
the burden of the aggregates. Craving for existence is, therefore, craving
for sensual pleasure with the belief that the living soul is eternal.
Craving for Non-existence
Biieﬂy ¡ut, ciaving foi non-existence (uccheda-diṭṭhi) is the belief
in no leieahei. Eveiytling ¡eiisles ahei deatl. It is tle docuine
Craving for Non-existence 49
tauglt by Ajita wlo ﬂouiisled duiing tle Buddla’s time. It iuns tlus:
an individual consists of tle ¡iimaiy elements of eaitl, watei, ﬁie,
and air. When he dies, the earth element goes into the mass of the
eaitl, tle watei element ﬂows into tle mass of watei, tle ﬁie element
clanges into leat, tle aii element ﬂows into tle mass of aii. All oigans
of the senses — seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and
thinking — disappear into space. When an individual, be he a wise
man oi a fool, dies, lis body is desuoyed and annililated. Notling
is leh ahei deatl. Wlile iesiding in tle living body, tle eaitl element
manifests itself in tle foim of laidness oi sohness, but wlen tle body
dies, it leaves it merging itself with the earth outside it. In other words,
tle eaitl element in tle dead body tuins into tle mateiial eaitl, nom
wlicl uees and ¡lants giow. Lilewise, tle watei element in tle dead
body assumes wetness and ﬂuidi[ of tle mateiial watei.
The annihilationists of the Ajita school do not recognise the
existence of consciousness. All the faculties of seeing, hearing, etc.,
aie conditioned by mauei. So wlen tley iefeiied to tlese faculties
they used the term organ of sense (indriya). So, when a man dies, his
mauei is annililated, lis faculties of tle senses niuei away into s¡ace.
No mauei wlo dies, wletlei a wise man oi a fool, lis existence is
“cut oﬀ” oi snuﬀed out. Wlen a fool dies, tleie will be no iebiitl and
so he need not have any qualms of remorse for his evil deeds, just
as tle wise man is not beneﬁted by lis wlolesome deeds.
Tlis, biieﬂy, is tle way of tlinling of Ajita. His docuine a¡¡eals
to tlose wlo ievel in commiuing evil, ﬁnding it iilsome to do good.
As it ¡ostulates tlat tleie is no life ahei deatl, it may be aigued tlat
there is life before death. If that be so, it may further be asked: “What
is life before death?” The answer, according to the line of reasoning
of Ajita and his ilk, would be the living self or being. It suggests that,
despite its views on the four primary elements, the self or being exists.
Tlis is auaclment to self ¡uie and sim¡le. Tlose wlo lold annilila-
tionist views stipulate that one should not waste time doing
meritorious deeds for forthcoming existences (which will not be
forthcoming), but occupy oneself with full enjoyment of the present
existence, the only existence one will have.
Craving arising out of this view of non-existence (vibhavataṇhā),
promotes enjoyment of pleasures while they last since everything
¡eiisles ahei deatl. Natuially tlis ideology las a gieat a¡¡eal to tlose
50 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
wlo deliglt in evil, sliinling nom tle ¡iactice of moiali[ and otlei
meiitoiious ways of life. Since notling la¡¡ens ahei deatl, tleie is
no necessi[ to acquiie meiit. Tlose enamouied by tlis view do not
lile tle idea tlat life is being constantly ienewed and tlat tle eﬀects
of good oi bad lamma follow tlem in tleii uail. If no new life occuis
ahei deatl, all tleii evil actions will come to an end witl tle end of
their existence, and they will not be held responsible for any conse-
quences, good or bad. In fact evil deeds done by them will be expunged
wlen tley ¡ass away, emeiging nom tlem as innocent as a lamb.
Ciaving foi non-existence ﬁnds satisfaction in tle idea of total
annihilation. A man possessed by it is always eager to enjoy all the
¡leasuies of life witlout any iesuaint in tle commitment of sins. Tlis
acceptance of pleasures in the present existence is tantamount to the
acceptance of the aggregates that will arise in the next existence. Evil
actions that accumulate in this life are unwholesome kammas to which
tle dying man gets auacled, and by viitue of tlese lammas, new
aggregates will arise. For as long as craving persists, new existence is
inevitable, notwithstanding his annihilationist view. Medical advice
says that the patient should not take any food unsuitable to his health,
but tle ¡atient cannot iesuain limself and tales wlat las been
proscribed. The result is that his condition worsens. He might even
die. Tle man aﬄicted by annililationism is lile tlat ¡atient. Altlougl
le believes in no leieahei, lis ciaving foi ¡leasuiable objects is so
intense that he “becomes” again, whatever his philosophy says. His
new existence will hardly stand him in good stead for he has never
done any meritorious deeds before. Every evil action produces evil
result. (It may even be put forward that to every evil action there is an
equal and opposite evil reaction). His philosophy has all along been
tle fulﬁlment of selﬁsl desiies iegaidless of tle adveise consequence
for others. Let others die so that he may live; that is how he thinks. He
has no remorse for his actions that harmed others. As he develops only
bad kammas in this way, he will have nothing to hope for except inferior
and miserable existences throughout future cycles of existence.
To repeat, craving for non-existence is craving for sense-objects in
a life wlicl is believed to lave no leieahei. One wlo is aﬄicted witl
tlis lind of ciaving indulges in ¡leasuies witlout iesuaint in, wlat
he considers, the happy notion that, since all things perish at death
one will not have to answer for actions good or bad during this life-time.
Throwing Down the Burden 51
Let me repeat what has been put forward earlier. What is the
heavy burden? aggregates are the heavy burden. Who carries the
heavy burden? The individual made up of aggregates carries the
heavy burden. Who picks up the heavy burden? Craving picks up
the heavy burden.
Throwing Down the Burden
Now I will deal with the subject of how to throw down this heavy
burden, which is the most important part of this discourse. Regarding
throwing down the burden, the Buddha has this to say:
“Katamañca, bhikkhave, bhāranikkhepanaṃ? Yo tassāyeva
taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mui anālayo.
Idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, bhāranikkhepana’nti.”
“O monks! What does throwing down the burden mean?
It means completely annihilating, renouncing, abandon-
ing, and ielinquisling desiie, and needom nom it.”
As soon as ciaving is iejected, tle buiden will fall nom one’s
slouldeis. Tle iejection can be eﬀected tliougl tle a¡¡lication of
knowledge relating to insight meditation and to realisation of the Noble
Patl. Ciaving iecedes nom sucl lnowledge as dailness is extin-
guished, there will be no cause for the aggregates to arise. The path of
Arahantship brings about the complete annihilation of all forms of
craving. At the stage of Non-returning, all craving for sensual pleasures
or lust (kāmarāga) is extinguished. Because of the absence of that kind
of ciaving, a Non-ietuinei is ieleased nom sensual becoming, and so
will not be ieboin as a luman being oi a dei[ to slouldei tle buiden
of tle ﬁve aggiegates of luman being oi a deva.
The path of Once-returning also exterminates lust to a great extent,
so le oi sle can tliow ﬁnally down tle buiden ahei two existences.
At tle stage of Sueam-winning, self-view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) and doubt
(vicikicchā) aie extinguisled. Tlese two feueis (saṃyojana) are much
lile ciaving. Once tlese feueis aie iemoved tleie will be no
o¡¡oituni[ foi aggiegates to aiise. A Sueam-winnei can tliow
down tle buiden ahei seven existences.
To illusuate tle advantages gained by a Sueam-winnei tle Buddla
employed the simile of grains of sand. He picked up a few grains of
sand on lis ﬁngei-nail, and slowed it to tle monls asling: “Wlicl
52 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
is gieatei, tle few giains of sand on my ﬁngei-nail oi tle sand on tlis
entiie eaitl' Wlen tle monls ie¡lied tlat tle sand on lis ﬁngei-nail
was insigniﬁcant com¡aied to tle sand on tlis entiie eaitl, tle Buddla
admonisled tle monls tlat tle suﬀeiing befoie auaining Sueam-
winning was uncountable like the grains of sand on the earth; and
tlat ahei auaining tle ¡atl and its nuition, tle suﬀeiing tlat would
iemain foi just seven existences would be insigniﬁcant. He uiged lis
disci¡les to suive foi tle iealisation of tle Foui Noble Tiutls.
Throw Down the Burden by Developing Insight
So far I have shown that the burden can be thrown down by means
of the four stages of the Noble Path, but to get to the Noble Path, one
must acquire insight knowledge through meditation. One who
clooses to ieject tle buiden must suive foi tlat lnowledge. Wlen
you are unmindful of what you see, hear, smell, taste, touch or think,
you will not lnow tle uue natuie of tle sense-objects. Youi
lnowledge about tlem would be su¡eiﬁcial and, tleiefoie, wiong.
You might regard what is impermanent as permanent, what is
unsatisfactory as satisfactory, and what is not-self as self. That is to
say, you will nevei iealise tle uue natuie of ¡lenomena. Not
knowing that all things are unsatisfactory is ignorance or delusion.
It is delusion wlicl alluies us to geuing auacled to ¡leasuiable
objects, just as we get auacled to oui ¡lysical selves. Tlis is tle
nature of craving; and every time this craving rears its head, we have
to accept the heavy burden of the aggregates. Because of craving,
auaclment aiises, and auaclment activates lamma and becoming,
thereby new aggregates come into being.
The moment one neglects to practise insight meditation and fails
to note the sense-objects, craving will rear its head. It may arise in
conjunction with seeing or hearing, or it may lie low for some time,
waiting for favourable conditions to arise. That is why we must seize
the moment when the mind comes into contact with the sense-objects;
for, if we fail to do so, craving, accompanied by delusion will gain
the upper-hand. In that case we will have to accept new aggregates
and obey their dictates. Therefore, we must deny it the chance to
assert itself by nothing the arising and passing away of mind and
mauei wlenevei we see oi leai anytling. As we note tle ¡lenomena
in tlis way oui concenuation will become well-develo¡ed, and
Throw Down the Burden by Developing Insight 53
tleieby we can iealise tleii uue natuie. We will tlen come to lnow
tlat tle mind tlat lnows is distinct nom tle lnown object, and tlat
tle foimei aiises anew soon ahei it las ¡assed away, just as tle lauei
does. Conveisely eacl of tlem ¡asses away soon ahei aiising. Botl
aie in a state of ﬂux. Wlen you obseive tlis you will come to iealise
tlat notling is ¡eimanent, but all is uansitoiy, and tlat, tleiefoie,
all phenomena are subject to impermanent. The fact that whatever
comes into being soon perishes cannot be deemed satisfactory, and
unsatisfactoiiness is suﬀeiing. All tlings la¡¡en accoiding to
conditions, self laving no conuol oi autloii[ ovei tlem. Tlis is
not-self. To iealise tlat mind and mauei aie subject to tle tliee
characteristics means enlightenment.
We say that insight meditation helps us to gain the light of wisdom
having dispelled delusion. At this stage we are able to reject the
wrong notion that what is pleasurable is to be desired. Craving is
dispelled at the very moment we note the sights and sounds that
present themselves to our minds. While thus noting, there is no
o¡¡oituni[ foi desiie to occui. It cannot male itself felt even wlen
we latei uy to iecall wlat we lave seen oi leaid. One is entiiely nee
nom ciaving foi one tlouglt-moment. Wlen tle wlolesome state
of mindfulness is established, for that thought-moment, craving does
not arise. It means the rejection of craving at every moment of
eﬀective noting, and desiies tlat miglt otleiwise aiise latei aie also
rejected by virtue of the wholesome states gained through insight.
Rejection of craving every time we note the arising and passing
away of mind and mauei means tliowing down tle buiden of tle
aggregates, for such noting awakens us to the facts of impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness and not-self; and this knowledge enables us to
throw down the burden.
When one notes the rising and falling of the abdomen, or the
movements sucl as siuing, standing, bending, oi suetcling, one is
turning the mind inward. When one realises the actual development,
stage by stage, of all these activities of one’s body, craving for
pleasurable sensations fails to occur. However, if one cannot grasp
tle uue natuie of ¡lenomena, one is misled by tle notion tlat wlat
is rising and falling is one’s own abdomen. “It is my abdomen” is,
ahei all, a delusion. Because of tlis delusion, one feels, “Wlat is
mine is pleasant.” It leads one to do things in the interest of all that
54 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
one holds it to be one’s own. Then kamma and mental formations
are brought into play. It is because of these two activating factors
that new aggregates arise. How do they originate? They originate
by the machinations of craving. When one is forgetful about the
aiising and ¡assing away of mind and mauei, one feels ¡leased witl
the idea that it is one’s abdomen that is working. As soon as this
notion comes up, craving develops. When one meditates on the
¡lenomena of mind and mauei, it disa¡¡eais, and so we say tlat
rejecting it means throwing down the burden. Sometimes it so
happens that as you are noting the rising and falling of your abdomen,
you may fall into thinking. This thinking leads to its corollary,
intentions or desires. For instance, as you are thinking of an object,
it might occur to you that you would like to do something, or have
something. Whether your intentions are realised or not, whether
youi desiies aie fulﬁlled oi not, it does not mauei as long as you aie
pleased with thinking about them. Such thinking is so pleasurable
that the meditator may dislike the suggestion that one must note the
phenomenon of thinking that occurs while noting the rising and
falling of the abdomen, but the workings of the mind must also be
noted. If you fail to note youi tlinling, you may develo¡ auaclment
to it, being pleased with the idea that it is you who are thinking. This
is how self-view comes in. Once this idea takes hold, you would like
to suive only foi tle good of self. Tlen lamma and mental foimations
will be brought into play, and these two will cause new aggregates
to arise. So, whenever you fail note what you are thinking about,
you are accepting new aggregates.
A meditator who is aware of thinking will be mindful that thinking
is not a self, but is only a phenomenon that occurs naturally. As one notes
“thinking, thinking,” the thinking will cease. As one notes “intending,
intending,” or “desiring, desiring,” intentions and desires will disappear.
Then one will come to realise that such thoughts, intentions, and desires
were not there before, that they came up only now, and that subsequently
tley disa¡¡eai. One will come to lnow tlis intuitively, witlout uying
to know it. One no longer takes delight in thoughts, intentions, and
desiies, and so becomes detacled nom tlem, not iecognising tlem as
¡ioducts of a self. Tlis signiﬁes tle eiadication of ciaving, and wlen
ciaving ceases, aggiegates oiiginating nom it also cease. So, wlenevei
one notes thinking, one is throwing down the burden.
Throw Down the Burden by Developing Insight 55
This will be made clearer when I speak presently about knowledge
of dissolution. A meditatoi wlo las auained lnowledge of dissolu-
tion ﬁnds tlat botl tle sense-objects and tle mind tlat lnows tlem
get dissolved one ahei anotlei as soon as botl lave aiisen. Wlen
one notes the rising of the abdomen, the rising abdomen together
with the noting mind get dissolved during observation. They never
persist. Their images cannot be seen, they give no sign of their
¡iesence, and tleii existence is ﬂeeting. Hence tleie is absolutely
no reason why anyone should take delight in the aggregates as “my
body”, or the abdomen as “my abdomen,” or in the mind as “my
mind.” No craving can then develop. As craving cannot arise, neither
can auaclment, noi lamma, noi tle active ¡iocess of becoming.
When noting all other phenomena such as the falling of the abdomen,
oi tle bending and suetcling of tle limbs, one will feel tlat tle object
known and the mind that knows dissolve in pairs without leaving
any uace of tleii foim oi substance. Tley aie all uansitoiy. Tlese
phenomena, therefore, cannot be perceived as “my abdomen, my
hand, my leg or my body.” Craving is annihilated. With its annihila-
tion, auaclment, lamma, and mental foimations cannot o¡eiate.
With the cessation of their activities, the aggregates fail to arise. In
this way the burden is thrown away.
Then, there is the practice of noting sensations. You may feel tired,
hot, or painful as you sit in meditation. Note all of these sensations. As
you aie noting tle ¡lenomena of mind and mauei aiising and ¡assing
away, you will ﬁnd sucl sensations disa¡¡eai togetlei in ¡aiis.
Concenuate on leat felt in any ¡ait of youi body. An oidinaiy ¡eison
thinks that this heat occurs continuously, but when you note the heat in
accoidance witl tle metlod of insiglt meditation, you will ﬁnd tlat it
occurs as a series of hot sensations, appearing and vanishing, reappear-
ing and vanishing again. There are gaps in the chain of sensations. To
an insight meditator each gap is apparent while to an ordinary person
the whole chain of sensations seems continuous with no break at all.
This applies not only to sense-objects that produce sensations, but also
to the mind observing them. At one moment the mind cognises the
sensation and then this cognition disappears. Then another moment
arrives when the successor to the previous mind cognises the new
sensation that appears and this cognition also disappears as before. This
goes on ad inﬁnitum for as long as the sensation lasts.
56 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
The sensation of heat under observation is not “I”. What is not “I”
is not something in which to take delight. As soon as this thought
occurs, craving ceases. With the cessation of craving, its concomitants
— auaclment, lamma and mental foimations — cease to o¡eiate. In
the absence of mental formations new aggregates fail to arise. So,
every time you are noting the sensations that occur, you are throwing
away the burden. This is said in relation to pleasant sensations, but
the same remarks apply to unpleasant sensations, and to sensations
that are neither pleasant nor unpleasant. As you practise noting the
phenomena, you will come to realise that sensations do not happen
continuously, but that each part of them arises and passes away
repeatedly for as long as they last. In the example given about heat,
the sensation of heat can be divided into parts, moment by moment.
As one takes note of unpleasant sensation, pleasant sensation, or
neitlei-¡leasant-noi-un¡leasant sensation, one gets detacled nom
tle idea of a ¡eimanent “I”, a suﬀeiing “I” oi a la¡¡y “I”. Tlis
detaclment biings an end to auaclment, lamma, mental foimations,
and aggiegates. Ultimately, tle buiden is discaided nom one’s
shoulders. With the cessation of the aggregates, old age, disease, and
death cannot arise. In alluding to this the Buddha said that a meditator
would not be seen by death as soon as the burden is lain aside.
“Yathā pubbuḷakaṃ passe, yathā passe marīcikaṃ.
Evaṃ lokaṃ avekkhantaṃ, maccurājā na passati.”
“One who looks down on the world of aggregates as
devoid of substance like a bubble or mirage cannot be
seen by the King of Death.” (Dhp v 170)
A bubble buists soon ahei it las been foimed. A miiage conjuies
u¡ an image of ieali[, wlicl disa¡¡eais on close examination. Tleie
is absolutely no substance in either of them. This is common
lnowledge. As we lnow tleii uue natuie we must also lnow tle
uue natuie of ¡lenomena. Wlen a meditatoi acquiies concenuation
through the observance of the dissolution of aggregates, he or she
will discover that the known object and the knowing mind are in a
state of ﬂux, just a¡¡eaiing and vanisling. Tley aie uansitoiy. Tleie
is notling in tlem woitly to be called “mine.” Tley signi( only tle
processes of becoming and dissolution. Death cannot discover one
wlo ¡ossesses tlis iealisation. One is said to be libeiated nom it at
A Seam-winner is Relieved of the Burden 57
the moment of practising insight meditation. When, as one practises
it, one gains Aialantsli¡, one will be libeiated nom it foievei.
The metaphor that death cannot discover the meditator used in
tlat veise is in accoid witl tle saying in tlis Blāia Suua tlat as
ciaving las no o¡¡oituni[ to aiise, one is able to tliow down tle
buiden nom one’s slouldeis. Heie, deatl is ¡eisoniﬁed witl a view
to excite a sense of fear. At that particular moment when a meditator
las done away witl ignoiance, ciaving, auaclment, lamma, and
mental formations, he or she is said to have lain down the burden
for that particular moment.
A Stream-winner is Relieved of the Burden
Witl tle giadual matuii[ and accom¡lislment of insiglt leading
to tle iealisation of Sueam-winning, tle meditatoi can s¡iiitually
conceive nibbāna wleie mind, mauei, and mental foimations become
totally extinct. He or she can actually feel the sensation of peace with
the termination of mental formations that condition the sense-objects
Where all phenomena cease, there is absolute peace. One is released
nom tle self-view tlat tales mind and mauei foi a self oi a being. Tlat
which sees, hears, tastes, smells, touches, or thinks constitutes only
tle aggiegates of mind and mauei. Bending, suetcling, oi moving
denotes tle activi[ of tlese aggiegates. All belaviouis, ¡lysical, veibal,
or mental originate in the same aggregates. Before meditation, one
miglt lave tlouglt tlat all activi[ and belavioui constitute oneself,
so one might have asserted: “It is I who sees. It is I who hears.” One
had taken all phenomena of the mind and body for a living substance
that resided in oneself. Now that one has been awakened by the path
of Sueam-winning, self-view disa¡¡eais witl tle iealisation tlat all
seeing, leaiing etc., aie just tle manifestations of mind and mauei
arising and passing away. This describes the process of eliminating
self-view. The moment that self-view is eliminated, knowledge unfolds;
and the meditator dispels all doubts about the Buddha, Dhamma, and
Saṅgla, and tle sancti[ of moiali[, concenuation, wisdom, and moial
uaining. Heie, foi tle sale of bievi[, I will leave aside moial uaining,
but it must be borne in mind that once a meditator becomes established
in the Three Refuges, it naturally follows that he or she has developed
faitl in moial uaining. In tle ¡iactice of tle ¡atl, moiali[, concenua-
58 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
tion, and wisdom are paramount. A Noble One means a person who
¡iactises tlese tliee uainings.
Witl tle elimination of doubt and self-view, mental deﬁlements
are removed. These include greed, anger, and delusion because of
which an ordinary person is reborn for more than seven existences.
Any individual failing to practise insight meditation fully will not
auain tle ¡atl, and is tleiefoie liable to suﬀei in tle lowei iealms
as a iesult of bad lamma. A lessei Sueam-winnei may, ¡eila¡s, be
able to avoid hell in the next existence, but in the third existence one
is liable to be caught in the whirlpool of existences, endlessly passing
tliougl biitls as a luman being oi dei[. Howevei, if le ¡iactises
insight meditation during any one of these existences, having had
tle o¡¡oituni[ to get tle beneﬁt of tle Buddla’s teaclings, one can
as¡iie to tle ¡atl and its nuition witlin tle sloit s¡ace of a few
more existences, even though one misses the chance in the present
existence. It means that a limit has been set to his rebirths. This is the
beneﬁt gained by a meditatoi ovei a non-meditatoi. Delusion and
ciaving ¡ievent oidinaiy ¡eo¡le nom seuing a limit to tle numbei
of existences. The Buddha said:
“O monks! The cycle of existence, is incomprehensible.
It las delusion foi obsuucting (tle ¡atl): it las ciaving
for binding beings to continued existence. Hence one
¡asses nom one life to anotlei in tlis cycle of existence,
the beginning of which is unknowable.”
Ordinary knowledge about seeing, hearing etc., by the aggregates
com¡osed of mind and mauei is not uue lnowledge, it is delusion. It
creates a deception of the permanence of the things seen or heard. It
hoodwinks us into believing that an object is wholesome, desirable,
and beautiful. It misleads us into the idea of self. “It is I, it is he, it is a
being,” so we tlinl. It coveis u¡ tle uue natuie of tle aggiegates, and
so we are led into thinking that an object is pleasing or desirable, thereby
becoming auacled to it. Tlis is low ciaving woils in collusion witl
delusion. It is lile a tetlei. Tle tetleied caule can move about as mucl
as the length of the tether allows, unable to go beyond its limit.
In much the same way beings are tethered to craving, and they
circle around it unable to get away. They are reborn repeatedly in
diﬀeient foims witlout end. Inasmucl as tley cannot bieal away
Throwing Down the Burden at Higher Stages 59
nom tle aggiegates, tley cannot bieal away nom tle cycle of
existence. In fact, they cannot even think about escape. So aggregates
aiise ie¡eatedly foi uillions of woild-cycles, and tleie is no lnowing
when they began. They will continue to arise until the realisation of
Sueam-winning. Wlen tle ¡atl is iealised, one may assume new
aggiegates foi tle s¡ace of only seven existences, ahei wlicl tleie
will be no moie becoming. Eteinal ¡eace will ﬁnally be establisled.
This is how the burden is laid aside.
In tle Pāḷi text of tle Niddesa, tle following is mentioned:
“By viitue of tle ¡atl of Sueam-winning, accumulation of
kamma, merit and demerit, ceases, and with this cessation,
all mind and mauei wlicl would lave aiisen indeﬁnitely
throughout the cycle of existence, had the path not been
ieacled, will be annililated ahei seven existences.”
Just like a disease cured by medicine, the realisation of the path
(tle medicine of Sueam-winning) would save one nom endless
rebirths, that one would otherwise have to undergo. Now one will
escape the endless cycle of existence and will have no more than
seven existences, ahei wlicl no fuitlei iebiitls will tale ¡lace. Tlis
shows how the burden is to be removed and rejected by means of
tle ¡atl lnowledge of Sueam-winning.
Throwing Down the Burden at Higher Stages
With the realisation of the knowledge of Once-Returning, one will
be able to throw away the burden at the end of the next existence,
for one is destined to be born again only once. The Non-returner,
however, can dispense with rebirth in the present existence, either
in the Form Sphere or in the Formless Sphere. Existence cannot be
counted in lives, because in the Form Sphere one can be reborn up
to ﬁve times in tle ﬁve Puie Abodes. In tle Foimless S¡leie tleie
are four abodes, and one can be reborn in those four abodes.
This interpretation applies also to references made in connection
witl Once-ietuineis and Sueam-winneis. Tley ielate to ¡lanes of
existence and not to iebiitls. Tlis is ex¡lained in tle Mūla Ṭīlā and
is a mauei foi tle leained to discuss.
With the realisation of the knowledge of Arahantship, the Arahant
does not become again ahei parinibbāna, all aggregates having come to
60 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
total extinction. This is described as anupadisesa parinibbāna, which means
that nothing of the aggregates remains. Hence the Buddha said:
“O monks! When craving becomes totally extinct, leaving
no uace, wlen it is com¡letely abandoned, wlen it is
ﬁnally iejected, wlen it is discaided, ielinquisled, and
wlen one one is detacled nom it, sucl an annililation
means throwing down the burden of aggregates of
The elimination of craving means throwing down the burden. If one
fails to note the sense-objects occurring at the six sense-doors, craving
and delusion will get the upper-hand momentarily. Allowing craving
to arise means picking up the burden. When one notes whatever occurs
at the six sense-doors, one gets familiar with the three characteristics,
and the knowledge of impermanence, etc., dispels craving momentarily.
Every moment of noting means throwing down the burden instantane-
ously. When one achieves the Noble Path, one annihilates craving. If
you sincerely wish to abandon the burden, you must practise insight
meditation, wlicl leads to tle auainment of tle ¡atl.
The Burden and the Four Noble Truths
Tlis discouise on tle Blāia Suua is now com¡lete, but let us a¡¡ly
tlis teacling to tle Foui Noble Tiutls. Tle ﬁve aggiegates of
auaclment constitute tle Noble Tiutl of Suﬀeiing. It las been slown
that the porter who carries the burden of the aggregates, is an
individual, wlicl is but a name. He las no enti[ wlen viewed nom
tle stand¡oint of ultimate uutl. Consideied in tlis liglt, tle
individual remains beyond the pale of the Four Noble Truths. In
other words, in this discussion, individuals are not taken into account.
It is ciaving wlicl is tle cause of suﬀeiing. Acce¡ting tlis fact we
come to tle Tiutl of tle Cause of Suﬀeiing. I lave alieady told you
about the method of exterminating craving, which is the Noble Truth
of tle Cessation of Suﬀeiing. In tlis Blāia Suua, tle Noble Tiutl of
tle Patl Leading to tle Cessation of Suﬀeiing is not mentioned,
lowevei, since tle Buddla tauglt us about tle cessation of suﬀeiing,
we can deduce that the path leading to its cessation is included in
that. Therefore, in my lectures I have referred to the practice of insight
meditation and the Noble Paths. So, please note the following:
Some Key Points to Remember 61
Tle buiden means tle ﬁve aggiegates of auaclment. It ieveals
tle Tiutl of Suﬀeiing. Tle one wlo tales u¡ tle buiden is ciaving.
It ieveals tle Tiutl of tle Cause of Suﬀeiing. Tliowing down tle
burden means annihilation of craving. It reveals the Truth of
Cessation. Insight meditation and the Four Noble Paths are the way
to annihilate craving. They reveal the Truth of the Path Leading to
tle Cessation of Suﬀeiing.
Some Key Points to Remember
To conclude tle Blāia Suua, tle Buddla s¡ole some veises to
serve the audience as aids to their memory. This has been recorded
by the Buddhist Council as follows:
“Having tauglt tlis Blāia Suua, tle Buddla, wlo always
tauglt foi tle beneﬁt of lis audience as tle Teaclei of
gods and men, composed two verses to summarise what
he had taught.”
Now I will give you tlose two veises, tle ﬁist of wlicl is as
“Bhārā have pañcakkhandhā, bhārahāro ca puggalo.
Bhārādānaṃ dukhaṃ loke, bhāranikkhepanaṃ sukhaṃ.”
“Heavy, indeed, is tle buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates. One
who carries it is the individual (who is also a bundle of
tle ﬁve aggiegates). In tlis woild of beings, ¡icling u¡
tle buiden is suﬀeiing. Ha¡¡y is one wlo lays down
the burden (applying insight knowledge and the knowl-
edge of the Noble Path).”
The heaviness of the burden is felt daily as one feeds and cares
for one’s body. This burden is even heavier for those who lack merit.
The diseased and the aged also feel the oppressive burden of their
bodies. Tlose in tle lungiy glost oi otlei lowei iealms suﬀei fai
moie. Tleii miseiies aie of tle gieatest seveii[, yet tley cannot get
away nom tlem. Animals aie not mucl beuei oﬀ. Food is a ¡ei¡etual
¡ioblem foi tlem. Tley aie un¡iotected nom all linds of dangeis.
They run and hide to maintain their lives, since they are liable to be
eaten by predators. Chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, etc., live in fear,
evei anxious of tle dangeis tlat miglt befall tlem. Wlile uying to
62 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
protect themselves, they get killed for food. They have no protector.
Tle ¡liglt of caule is even moie leait-iending. Tley must laboui foi
tleii masteis in all weatleis as long as tley aie lale and leai[, but
they meet their end at the slaughter-house. It is because of their bodies
tlat tley suﬀei. If tley did not lave tlem, tley would not lave been
lilled and eaten. Even among manlind, tle suong victimise tle
weak, so what can be said of the animal realm?
Regarding the meaning of ‘individual,’ mentioned in the verse,
the word is used in the conventional way of teaching, for there is no
individual in tle ultimate sense. Alluding to tle ﬁve aggiegates we
say in conventional language that one is an individual, a being, a
man, a woman etc., but they are mere names. Ultimately an
individual does not exist, it is the aggregates that bear the weight of
the burden. Even tending to one’s physical well-being or caring for
one’s lealtl is, in eﬀect, caiiying tle buiden.
Taling u¡ tle buiden is suﬀeiing and tliowing it down is
conducive to happiness. Craving arises when we fail to note the
phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc., in meditation. It arises at the
moment of seeing or hearing, or it may lie dormant for some time to
aiise on latei ieﬂection. In wlatevei way it aiises, it biings witl it
auaclment, lamma, and mental foimations, wlicl in tleii tuin cieate
new aggiegates, tlen suﬀeiing follows. If we note tle ¡lenomena
of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking as each
occuis, we will iealise tleii uue natuie, and witl tlis iealisation we
can exterminate craving together with its supporter, delusion. When
tle Noble Patl is aclieved tlis exteimination of ciaving oﬀeis no
o¡¡oituni[ foi auaclment, lamma, and mental foimations to o¡eiate,
and so tle aggiegates cease becoming. Finally, suﬀeiing comes to an
end, and peace is established. To throw down the burden having
eliminated craving means the achievement of peace.
Now I come to the second verse:
“Nikkhipitvā garuṃ bhāraṃ, aññaṃ bhāraṃ anādiya.
Samūlaṃ taṇhamabbuyha, nicchāto parinibbuto”ti.
“Having thrown down the heavy burden, having rejected
new buidens to follow, laving u¡iooted ciaving nom
its very foundation, no desires arise, and peace is
Some Key Points to Remember 63
This verse alludes to the Arahants, but even an Arahant has to
carry the burden before parinibbāna. An Arahant has to tend the body,
bathing it, feeding it, cleansing it, etc., and all these tasks only end
with death. So the Arahants on the eve of their parinibbāna used to
contemplate saying, “For how much longer will I have to carry this
buiden'” To tlem deatl is a ielief nom tlat buiden, but oidinaiy
people under the spell of craving take it as a sad occasion.
In fact, even Veneiable Ānanda we¡t on tle eve of tle
Mahāparinibbāna of the Buddha, and, this was also the case for the
women weeping on the eve of the parinibbāna of Malā¡ajā¡atī Gotamī,
the step-mother of the Buddha, who had to console her disciples
with the words: “My daughters, do not weep! This is no occasion
for sadness. It is a time for rejoicing (hāsakālo).” Indeed for the
Arahants death is an occasion for joy!
As has been explained in earlier passages, new aggregates come
into being because of the sense-objects conditioned by kamma,
actions, signs of actions, and signs of destiny. This is picking up the
buiden, and tlis is ie¡eated in one existence ahei anotlei witlout
end. Because a porter accepts one load, he has to accept another, and
still another, so that many loads fall upon his shoulders. A porter
can at least take a break, but ordinary people do not have even a
moment’s iest. Even Sueam-winneis lnow no iest foi seven consec-
utive existences duiing wlicl tley lave been uying unsuccessfully
to exuicate tlemselves nom ciaving. Foi Once-ietuineis it is tle
same for two consecutive existences and with Non-returners for one
existence in the Form Sphere or Formless Sphere. A Non-returner
may even lave to toleiate iebiitls foi foui oi ﬁve times in accoidance
with the number of abodes that can be met with in those Spheres.
Having exterminated craving once and for all, the Arahants are
entiiely nee nom being ieboin witl new aggiegates once parinibbāna
is achieved. It is said of the Arahant that he or she has rejected the
new burdens as craving has ceased entirely.
Craving, like hunger, is insatiable. Ordinary people possess it.
Even Sueam-winneis, Once-ietuineis, and Non-ietuineis cannot
bieal away com¡letely nom it. Tley also develo¡ auaclment on tle
eve of death to sense objects created by kamma, signs of kamma,
and signs of destiny. Because of sucl auaclment, new aggiegates
aiise. Howevei, an Aialant las desuoyed ciaving witl tle wea¡on
64 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
of tle ¡atl of Aialantsli¡. He oi sle las u¡iooted it nom its veiy
foundation. What is this foundation or root? It is ignorance. It is, in
fact, tle veiy ioot of all suﬀeiing. It even deludes beings into
iemaining oblivious of its ¡iesence. Hence u¡iooting it is suessed.
If one fails to note the phenomena of seeing, hearing, etc., in
meditation, one is liable to take them as an individual, a being, a
man, a woman, etc., then craving for existence as an individual, a
being, a man, or a woman arises. This delusion is the originating
factor of craving, and so it is not enough to cut down craving only.
Its foundation oi ioot must be toin u¡ and desuoyed. It not, ciaving
would ieai its lead again wlen an o¡¡oituni[ aiiives. Tleie aie
instances of meditators possessing supernormal powers losing them
tle moment tlat delusion wales ciaving u¡ nom its slumbeis.
In the Mudulalllaṇa Jātala, oui Bodlisaua was a meditatoi
¡ossessing su¡einoimal ¡oweis, dissociating limself nom lust, but
as ciaving lad not yet been u¡iooted nom its foundation witl tle
application of the knowledge of the path, it asserted itself when he
saw Queen Mudulalllaṇā’s naled beau[, wlicl excited lis lustful
desires. He at once lost all his supernormal powers. Before that he
jouineyed tliougl tle sly to get to tle ling’s ¡alace, but ahei losing
those powers he had to wend his way back to his dwelling on foot.
Tlis incident ¡ioves tlat le lad only dissociated limself nom ciaving
for sensual pleasures, failing to uproot it. When a pleasant sight was
in view it wreaked havoc on his mind.
There is another similar story. In about 400 Buddhist Era, when
Duṭṭlagāmaṇi was ruling in Sri Lanka, there was a meditator who
tlouglt le lad auained Aialantsli¡ because le lad eliminated
ciaving. One day, Dlammadinnā, a bhikkhuṇī, wlo lad uuly auained
Arahantship, visited him and asked him for how long he had been
an Aialant. He told lei tlat le lad been an Aialant foi six[ yeais.
He said this in the sincere belief that he had become an Arahant as
he had never felt craving arise in him. However, she knew that he
lad not uuly auained Aialantsli¡, tlat is to say, le lad not ieally
eliminated craving. So she next asked him if he could exercise
supernormal powers. On being told that he could, she asked him to
cieate a lotus-¡ond witl a luge lotus ﬂowei inside wlicl a ¡ieµ
girl would be dancing. He created the pond complete with the
dancing giil, as iequested. Tlen Dlammadinnā asled tle so-called
Conclusion of the DiscourseSome 65
Arahant to set his eyes on the girl of his own creation. He accordingly
did so when suddenly he felt the urge of lust. Then he came to his
senses and admiued tlat lis tasl as an as¡iiant to Aialantsli¡ lad
not yet been accom¡lisled. He asled Dlammadinnā to slow lim
the right way to practise the Dhamma to uproot craving together
with delusion so that he could become a genuine Arahant. So far, he
had been able to remove craving only temporarily like a water-pot
tlat suiles tle suiface of tle watei iemoving tle moss wlicl,
lowevei, gatleis again as tle ¡ot is lihed. Ciaving can be u¡iooted
nom its foundation only wlen Aialantsli¡ is auained. Wlen tlus
uprooted, no meditator could have been corrupted even by a dancing
giil in ﬂesl and blood, not to say of an imaginaiy one. Wlen ciaving
foi existence is com¡letely exteiminated, no new mind and mauei
can aiise. Witlout aggiegates all suﬀeiing comes to an end.
I have composed a verse for the audience to help them remember
the gist of what I have said:
“If craving is uprooted, desire will be eliminated. When
one throws down the old burden, no new burden can
be im¡osed. Tlen tle ¡eace of nibbāna will be auained.
When craving and delusion are eliminated, desire will
completely disappear. When the old aggregates are
rejected, the burden of carrying new ones is removed.
Tlen suﬀeiing ceases, and ¡eace is establisled.”
Conclusion of the Discourse
Tlis discouise on tle Blāia Suua now iequiies only conclusion.
You lave seen tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates assuming tlemselves as beings
are a great burden and that we are carrying the burden of these
aggregates throughout the cycle of existence. According to the
docuine of tle Foui Noble Tiutls tlis buiden indicates tle Noble
Tiutl of Suﬀeiing. You lave also iealised tlat as long as you tale
pleasure in sense-objects — sights and sounds, etc. — you are
acce¡ting tle buiden, wlicl is suﬀeiing. You tale ¡leasuie in tle
aggiegates because you fail to lnow tleii uue natuie. Tle moie
ignoiant you aie of tleii uue natuie, tle moie youi ciaving foi
Ciaving, wlicl ¡icls u¡ tle buiden, is tle cause of all uoubles.
This brings you to the conviction that craving indicates the Noble
66 A Discourse on the Bhāra Sua
Tiutl of tle Cause of Suﬀeiing. You lave also iealised tlat eliminat-
ing craving means throwing down the burden, and this shows the
Noble Tiutl of tle Cessation of Suﬀeiing. Delusion biings about
misunderstanding of the nature of the phenomena of seeing, hearing,
etc., which you fail to realise in the process of noting in meditation.
It is tle genesis of ciaving. So wlenevei you uy to do away witl
craving, delusion must also be done away with, which you have also
come to know. When delusion is eliminated knowledge matures.
Light has come where darkness once was. This too you have
undeistood. As lnowledge is auained, you come to tle Tiutl of
Cessation, and as you contemplate it further, your insight knowledge
will develop and you will realise the Noble Truth of the path Leading
to tle Cessation of Suﬀeiing.
If we take pleasure in sense-objects such as sights and sounds,
craving will develop, and this amounts to picking up the heavy
burden. This also you have understood. Craving is developed
because we fail to recognise the real nature of phenomena. It is this
ignorance or delusion that accepts the burden. Craving, therefore,
is tle ioot of all uoubles, and so we say tlat it is tle cause of suﬀeiing.
This also you have seen. If craving is dispelled, we will be liberated
nom suﬀeiing, and tlis means tlat we lave aiiived at tle Tiutl of
tle Cessation of Suﬀeiing. Delusion is tle genesis of ciaving. So it
must also be dispelled. It arises when we fail to be mindful of the
sense-objects. If we note the arising and passing away of phenomena
while we meditate, knowledge will develop. With the light of
knowledge, delusion disappears just as the darkness disappears
when light shines. In its absence of craving, the burden of the
aggregates cannot arise, and so we have no desire to pick it up. As
we develop the habit of noting sense-objects, insight will develop
and tle foui Noble Patls will be auained.
Of the four Noble Paths, if you have developed the path of
Sueam-winning, you lave only seven existences to suﬀei in tle cycle
of existence, ahei wlicl all aggiegates cease. Tlis las alleviated tle
burden to a great extent. If, however, you continue practising insight
meditation, to lighten the burden still further, as you ought to, you
can auain tle ¡atl of Once-ietuining wlen all buidens of tle
aggiegates will be laid aside ahei two existences. As youi ¡eifections
mature you will come up to the stage of Non-returning when all
Conclusion of the DiscourseSome 67
buidens can be set aside ahei existence in tle Foim oi Foimless
Realms. Tlen all tle ﬁve aggiegates, wlicl indicate tle Tiutl of
Suﬀeiing, will cease entiiely, and ¡eace will ieign su¡ieme.
It may be iecalled leie wlat tle Buddla said to tle eﬀect tlat once
craving is uprooted no desires arise and peace is established. If you
really wish to lay down the burden and establish peace where all
suﬀeiing comes to an end, you must ¡iactise wlat I lave tauglt you.
I will conclude by summarising the aphorisms that I gave earlier:
What is the heavy burden? aggregates are the heavy burden.
Who carries the burden? The individual, made up of aggregates,
carry the heavy burden.
Who accepts the heavy burden? Craving, accepts the heavy burden.
What is meant by throwing down the burden? Annihilation of
craving is throwing down the burden.
Tle buiden of tle ﬁve aggiegates is leavy. Tle individual wlo
carries the burden is known by his or her name in accordance with
the conventional method of teaching. Picking up the burden is the
acce¡tance of suﬀeiing and iejection of it is conducive to la¡¡iness:
Wlen ciaving is u¡iooted nom its veiy foundation, no desiie
arises. Old burdens having been lain aside, no new burden can be
im¡osed. Tlen one auains nibbāna, wlicl is eteinal ¡eace.
May all of you wlo lave listened to tlis discouise on tle Blāia
Suua come to tle iealisation tlat tle ﬁve aggiegates aiising and
passing away perpetually in you are a great burden; that your craving
for sense-objects such as sights and sounds means the acceptance of
tle buiden of new aggiegates, tlat it is tle cause of all suﬀeiing, tlat
the rejection of it leads to peace; and that peace can be achieved with
the practice of insight meditation.
I feivently ¡iay tlat you all auain nibbāna soon, by viitue of tle
knowledge of insight meditation and of the path that you have
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?