A Discourse on the

Vammika Sua
Tle Veneiable Malāsi Sayādaw
Translated by
U Min Swe (Min Kyaw Thu)
Buddla Sāsanānuggala Oiganization
Malāsi Tianslation Commiuee, Rangoon
A Discourse on
the Vammika Sua
Tle Veneiable Malāsi Sayādaw
Translated by
U Min Swe (Min Kyaw Thu)
First printed and published in the Socialist
Republic of the Union of Burma
December 2000
New Edition
Edited by
Bhikkhu Pesala
August 2013
All rights reserved
Editor’s Foreword........................................................................v
Translator’s Preface.....................................................................vi
Part I
Fiheen Riddles.............................................................................1
A Mouo About tle Fiheen Riddles........................................5
Kumāia Kassa¡a’s Pievious Life.................................................6
Seven Monks Entei a Foiest Reueat.......................................7
Acquiiing Beneficial Results.................................................12
Becoming an Arahant at the Age of Seven................................12
Venerable Dabba Thera.........................................................13
King Pukkusāti......................................................................13
The Wandering Ascetic Sabhiya...........................................13
Bāliya Dāiuciiiya.................................................................14
The Goat That Became a Dog.....................................................15
Bāliya’s False Piide....................................................................16
An Ant-hill Full of Holes............................................................20
An Ant-hill That Emits Filth.................................................21
A Heap of Dust.....................................................................21
Home to Various Organisms and Germs..............................24
An Accumulation of the Four Elements...............................25
It Begins nom Fine Paiticles of Fluid Mauei........................28
Develo¡ed Fiom Nuuiment.................................................29
Emiuing Smoke..........................................................................30
Expelling Bright Flames.............................................................31
The Buddha................................................................................32
The Outstanding Pupil..............................................................33
The Abode of the Noble Ones...............................................33
Eight Path Factors In One Act of Noting..............................38
iv Contents
Part II
The Buddha, the Brahmin Teacher............................................40
A Monk and a Millionaire’s Son............................................42
The Hoe......................................................................................45
The Bolt......................................................................................47
Tle Significance of tle Metlod............................................48
A Pioneer of Insight Meditation...........................................54
The Admonition of the Buddha............................................55
Keeping the Door Unbolted..................................................57
The Toad.....................................................................................58
The Trivial Dhamma Talk.....................................................59
Tle Stoiy of Vedelikā...........................................................60
A Discussion on Patience......................................................62
The Junction...............................................................................63
Personal Experience of Sceptical Doubt...............................64
Doubt Resembles a Con Artist..............................................65
The Essence of Meditation....................................................67
Part III
Further Explanation about Doubt..............................................68
Must Contemplate in the Present.........................................71
Tle Watei-Suainei......................................................................81
Like A Fish Out of Water......................................................82
How the Five Hindrances Are Dispelled..............................83
Puii[ of Mind.......................................................................83
Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind............................83
The Tortoise................................................................................85
A Cleaver and Chopping-board................................................90
A Piece of Flesh..........................................................................91
The Dragon................................................................................94
Worship the Dragon..............................................................95
How to Worship the Dragon.................................................95
Tle Beneficial Results of Insiglt.........................................102
Index of Proper Names......................................................................106
Editor’s Foreword
As with my other editions of the translated works of the late
Veneiable Malāsi Sayādaw, I lave iemoved many of tle Pāḷi woids
for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the technical terms.
The original translation was published in Rangoon in 1982. The
Sayādaw gave tle Dlamma talks, wlicl s¡anned a ¡eiiod of many
weeks, in 1965. To transcribe and translate many hours of tape-
recordings is a huge task, but one productive of great merit as it
enables a mucl widei audience to benefit fiom tle late Sayādaw’s
profound talks.
Refeiences aie to tle Pāḷi text Roman Scii¡t editions of tle Pali
Text Society — in their translations, these page numbers are given in
the headers or in square brackets in the body of the text. This practice
is adhered to by Bhikkhu Bodhi’s modern translations, like that below:
238 Vammika Sua: Sua 23 i.144
Thus, a reference to M.i.144 would be found on page 144 of volume
one in tle Roman scii¡t Pāḷi edition, but on ¡age 238 of Blikklu
Bodhi’s translation. It would be on a different page in I.B. Horner’s
tianslation, but tle Pāḷi text iefeience will still be i.144.
In tle Claṭṭla Saṅgāyana edition (CSCD Ti¡iṭaka), tle iefeiences
to the pages of the PTS Roman Script edition are shown at the bottom
of the screen. The Vammika Sutta begins in Vol.1 at p.142.
I lave attem¡ted to standaidise tle tianslation of Pāḷi teims to
matcl tlat in otlei woiks by tle Sayādaw, but it is im¡ossible to be
totally consistent as the various translations and editions are from
many diffeient souices. In tle index you can find tle Pāḷi teims in
brackets after the translations, thus the index also serves as a glossary.
This edition my still have some defects, but I hope it is already
good enough to be useful. As my time permits, I will gradually
improve it. If you find any errors, please let me know.
Bhikkhu Pesala
August 2013
Translator’s Preface
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa
Among many outstanding discourses expounded by the Vener-
able Aggamalā¡aṇḍita Malāsi Sayādaw, tle Vammika Suua is one
of the most interesting discourses that reveals the Truth of the
Buddla’s Dlamma in a sim¡le, effective way and in unequivocal
teims. Tle biilliant liglt of tle Malāsi Sayādaw’s teaclings las
expelled the darkness or the dim ambiguities of certain highly
philosophical dhamma which are not ordinarily and easily compre-
hensible to a man of average intelligence.
This lovely discourse originally taught by the Buddha has been
elucidated by tle autloi, tle Veneiable Malāsi Sayādaw, to become
a newly developed idea of his own. It reveals in a very brief and
suiking way tle genius of tle Omniscient Buddla. In it you will find
tle fundamental ieligious conce¡ts oinamented witl a wide vaiie[
of aphorisms and lively short stories, which though concisely
narrated leaving out what are irrelevant to the practical aspect of the
dhamma, will be found really interesting and invaluable.
Tle ex¡osition takes tle uend of a new s[le of ex¡iession ielating
to tle ¡iime im¡oitance of tle ¡iactice of vi¡assanā meditation wlicl
is essential foi all mankind to esca¡e nom tle feueis of luman
¡assions. Tle Veneiable Malāsi Sayādaw las ¡iecisely ¡iesented
the practical method of insight meditation in this discourse, with
brilliant touches which would surely bring an enthusiastic reader a
ste¡ closei to nibbāna. Tlis statement is not an exaggeiation. Reading
tliougl tlis Suua, one may ¡eila¡s be aioused witl cuiiosi[ as to
wlat aie tle fiheen iiddles ¡osed by Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a on
the advice given by a brahmā god and what are the answers as
elucidated by the Blessed One.
Tieatment of tlis Suua witl lucid ex¡lanation is beautifully
blended witl tle genius of tle autloi. Tle uanslation uutlfully
rendered will, it is hoped, give a delightful reading particularly to
those who understand English language and who have a bent in
Buddhist philosophy. It may perhaps even encourage them to take
refuge in the Triple Gem of Buddhism and seek for real peace and
la¡¡iness by ex¡eiimenting vi¡assanā meditation.
Tle liglt of tle Buddladlamma is still slining. Reali[ is
indesciibable. Tle Buddla, wlose ¡ui¡ose in life was tle auainment
Translator’s Preface vii
of Enlightenment, had taught to us with all-embracing love and
com¡assion to be always “mindful and self-¡ossessed” ienaining
nom mental and emotional auaclment to all natuie of tlings wlicl
are ephemeral, particularly, the material body (rūpa), which is prone
to decay, suffeiing and deatl. Tle metlod of eliminating luman
passions (kilesa) las been candidly ex¡lained in tlis Suua foi you to
follow in accordance with the well-known phrase:
“Even the Buddhas only point the way and the individual
must work out his own salvation with diligence.”
May you all be able to follow tle iiglt ¡atl, nee nom all
lindiances and suive ahei nibbāna to biing all youi ¡assions to an
Min Swe
(Min Kyaw Thu)
Buddla Sāsana Nuggala Oiganization
Vammika Sua
A Discourse on the Ant-hill
Part I
Toniglt’s discouise is on tle Vammika Suua, wlicl is tle simile
of tle ant-lill. Tlis discouise was iecoided duiing tle Saṅgāyana in
tle Mūla¡aṇṇāsa, O¡ammavaggo, Majjlimanikāya. Fiist, tle context
of tlis discouise slould be given beginning nom tle inuoduction.
One night, while the Blessed One was residing at Jetavana
monasteiy in Sāvaulī, an eldei by tle name of Veneiable Kumāia
Kassapa was staying in the Blind Men’s Grove� to the north of
Jetavana monastery. During the Buddha’s lifetime, senior monks and
nuns wlo wisled to live in solitude to find ¡eace, used to ietiie to
tlat foiest. In tlose days, tlis foiest was veiy seldom nequented by
oidinaiy ¡eo¡le, being a secluded ¡lace wleie ¡eace and uanquili[
reigned. However, at the present time, this forested area has been
uansfoimed into a cultivated land wleie cio¡s aie giown.
When I went to India, I visited the site of the Jetavana monastery
where the Blessed One had resided for a period of nineteen rainy
seasons (vassa) and gave my whole-hearted reverence to this sacred
place. There was no monastery at all — only bare ground on which
the remnants of the old Jetavana monastery were found, a few
foundation bricks and old unused wells. The former forest is now
almost baiien witl laidly any sign of uees, let alone a foiest. Only
patches of crops under cultivation were found. However, during the
time of the Buddha, this place was a remote forested area, calm and
peaceful, that ordinary people would not dare to visit.
Fieen Riddles
Wlile Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a was iesiding in tlis foiest, a
radiant brahmā a¡¡eaied befoie lim at niglt and ¡osed fiheen iiddles.
I will desciibe low tlese fiheen ¡ioblems weie ¡io¡osed by ieciting
tle oiiginal in Pāḷi to let you listen to it auentively witl ieveience.
However, it would take some time if the whole passage as spoken
� See explanation of Andhavana in the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names (ed.)
2 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
by that brahmā were recited. So I will recite only part of it as an
illusuation. Please listen caiefully.
“Bhikkhu bhikkhu, ayaṃ vammiko raiṃ dhūmāyati, divā
pajjalati. Brāhmaṇo evamāha — ‘Abhikkhaṇa, Sumedha,
sahaṃ ādāyā’ti. Abhikkhaṇanto Sumedho sahaṃ ādāya
addasa laṅgiṃ ‘Laṅgī, bhadante’ti. Brāhmaṇo evamāha —
‘Ukkhipa laṅgiṃ; abhikkhaṇa, Sumedha, sahaṃ ādāyā’ti.
Abhikkhaṇanto Sumedho sahaṃ ādāya addasa
uddhumāyikaṃ. ‘Uddhumāyikā, bhadante’ti …”
As stated above, the brahmā s¡oke to Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a
in Pāḷi. Duiing tle lifetime of tle Buddla, in tle iegion of India
called Majjhimadesa, the people used to speak among themselves in
Pāḷi, tle same dialect tlat was found in tle ¡iesent-day Ti¡iṭaka. In
tlose days, Pāḷi was tle common language used by all ¡eo¡le, botl
male and female, young or old. That is why the brahmā spoke to
Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a in Pāḷi.
Pāḷi sclolais wlo lave a ligl iegaid foi tle Māgadla language as
being sacied, lave decided tlat tle Pāḷi language known as Māgadla
is the dialect always used by brahmās. In the world of human beings,
¡eo¡le sometimes s¡eak in Pāḷi and at times tley s¡eak in otlei
languages. Howevei, duiing tle Buddla ’s time, Pāḷi was tle common
language among ¡eo¡le. Foi tlis ieason, tle language used in tlis Suua
was Pāḷi as is also found in otlei teaclings of tle Buddla. To enable
you to undeistand and a¡¡ieciate tle Pāḷi language witl its meanings,
I will fiist give tle meaning in colloquial Buimese and let you iecite
tle mouos and tlen ex¡lain tle meanings ¡liase by ¡liase.
Bhikkhu, bhikkhu: Monk, monk! This was the way in which
Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a was fiist addiessed. Tle ie¡etition of tle
word “Bhikkhu” was used as an interjection. It means an exclamation
of surprise. It is something like a cry of sudden surprise and fear as
“Snake! Snake! or, Fire! Fire!” when one is alarmed at the sight of a
snake oi a fiie. Ayaṃ vammiko: this big ant-hill or termite mound,
raam: at night, dhūmāyati: is emiuing smoke, divā: during the
day, pajjalati: it is ejecting flames.”
Let’s consider the way the brahmā spoke. Without saying anything
tlat seemed ielevant, le uueied in sui¡iise “Monk! Monk! Tlis
Fieen Riddles 3
ant-lill is emiuing smoke at niglt and ejecting flames duiing tle day,”
as if the ant-hill is nearby. I will explain about the ant-hill later.
Bhikkhu bhikkhu, O Monk, monk! ayaṃ vammiko, this ant-hill
or termite mound; raiṃ, at night time; dhūmāyati, is emiuing
smoke; divā, during the day; pajjalati, it is ejecting flames.
Brāhmaṇo: the brahmin teacher, evamāha: insuucted lis ¡u¡il in
this way. Sumedha: “O Sumedha,� (my good young pupil of
outstanding wisdom), sahaṃ ādāya: take hold of the hoe,
vammikaṃ abhikkhaṇa: persistently dig up this ant-hill. Eti:
(indicates an insuuction).� Sumedho: O Sumedha, saaṃ ādāya:
having taken hold of a hoe,� abhikhaṇato: when digging the ant-hill
¡eisistently as insuucted by lis teaclei: laṅgiṃ addasa: found a
bolt (for fastening a door). Laṅgī bhadante: “Venerable sir, there is
a bolt,” the pupil said. Brāhmaṇo evamāha: the brahmin teacher
insuucted tlus: “Ukkhipa laṅgiṃ: “Remove the bolt,” abhikkhaṇa,
Sumedha, sahaṃ ādāya: “carry on digging, Sumedha, having
taken hold of the hoe,” eti: (indicates an insuuction). Sumedha:
Sumedha, sahaṃ ādāya: taking hold of the hoe; abhikkhaṇanto:
on continuing to dig; uddhumāyikaṃ addasa: saw a toad that when
touched swells up. Bhadante: “Venerable sir; uddhumāyikā: there
is a toad that swells up when touched,” eti, the pupil said.
Tle gist is tlat a Bialmin teaclei was giving insuuctions to
numeious ¡u¡ils. Some insuuctions on woildly knowledge could
be acquired in the town itself, but to teach what could only be taught
in the forest, he took his pupils to the forest and taught them how to
discover things by experimentation. In ancient times, the Brahmin
teacleis wlo insuucted tleii ¡u¡ils weie similai to ¡iesent day
leadmasteis. Tley weie also called Disā¡āmokkla,⁴ ienowned
teacleis, just like tle Univeisi[ Piofessois of tle ¡iesent day. It
means to say that they were eminent teachers whose fame had spread
in all directions. The Burmese term for Professor (Pāmokkha), is
deiived nom tle teim“Disāpāmokkha” of former times.
� Su + medha = of good wisdom (ed.)
� Eti, or ‘ti, at the end of a sentence indicates direct speech (ed.)
� Sahaṃ = a weapon, sword, or knife (PTS) none of which would be suitable for
digging an ant-lill. A s¡ade (tle uanslation nom Buimese used by U Min Swe)
would not have been known in those days and is rarely used in Asia, so here I have
uanslated it as “loe.” Blikklu Bodli uanslates it as “knife.” (ed.)
⁴ Disā = caidinal diiections of noitl, soutl, east, and west (ed.)
4 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Tlis Bialmin teaclei, wlile insuucting lis ¡u¡ils in tlat foiest
camp, was said to have found a big ant-hill. The peculiar nature of
tlis ant-lill was tlat at niglt time it emiued smoke, wlile duiing
tle day time, it ejected flames. Finding tle ¡eculiai claiacteiistics
of this ant-hill, the brahmin teacher asked one of his wise pupils to
dig it up. The pupil must have been very reliable in as much as he
lad eained tle confidence of lis teaclei and was well uusted. Tlat
is why the special qualities of this pupil were praised as “the wise
and well-educated ¡u¡il of outstanding abili[ (Sumedla).” Tle way
of asking him to do was: “Well, my distinguished pupil! Here is the
ant-lill. Tlis ant-lill is veiy suange. At niglt it emits smoke constantly,
wlile duiing tle day it ejects flames. Tleie must be some kind of
ueasuie undeineatl tlis ant-lill.” So tle insuuction was given tlus:
“My good and bright pupil! Take hold of the hoe and dig this ant-hill.”
In com¡liance witl tlis insuuction, tle intelligent ¡u¡il took tle loe
and began to dig witl all lis suengtl. In tle couise of digging, tle
fiist tling le found was a big bolt, a kind of wooden bai used to
fasten a door. Then, the wise pupil remarked, “Teacher! Here is a big
bolt. It must be tle inleient quali[ of tlis big bolt tlat las caused
tle buisting foitl of smoke at niglt time and flames duiing tle day.”
On hearing this remark, the eminent teacher said, “My good pupil!
Tlis is not coiiect. How could tlis bolt emit flames' Take it out and
throw it aside, and continue digging.” As the pupil continued digging
ahei iemoving tle bolt, le found a toad called “Uddhumāyika.”
“Uddhumāyika” is a kind of a toad that becomes bloated every time
it is touched, as some of you might have come across. This is the kind
of toad that stays in a group in a pool at the beginning of the rainy
season and croaks noisily producing a sound like: “Om, In.” In the
Commentary, however, it has been mentioned thus: “This kind of
toad usually stays among iouen leaves and in busles. Tle size of
this animal is about the size of a toe-nail (nakhapiṭṭhi). If it is about
the size of the toe-nail of the big toe, it is very small. The kind of toad
we see in Burma is not so small. It is about the size of a “Gon-hnyin”
— a kind of nuit, flat and somewlat ciiculai in sla¡e cased in a long
outer cover. It has a fairly thick brown hard shell about double the
size of a dollar coin. It seems that the Commentators had probably
mentioned the size as compared to that of the toads found in Sri
Lanka. The body of the toad found in Burma appears to be much
A Moo About the Fieen Riddles 5
larger. What I remember is that this kind of toad is known in Burmese
as “Phar-Onn” or “Phar-Gon-Hnyin.” “Phar” in Burmese means “toad.”
I haven’t heard of it as being called “Phar-dalet.” Some said it is called
“Phar-byoke” which, of course, has poisonous horny scales on its back.
“Uddhumāyika” is a kind of toad having nearly a round shape. The
term used depends on the usage adopted wherever the toad is found.
We cannot ¡ossibly say wlicl is coiiect. Eacl counuy ado¡ts its own
terminology. In the Aiaṇaviblaṅga Suua the Blessed One taught that
tle teiminology commonly used in a ceitain counuy oi disuict
(janapadaniruiṃ), should not be regarded as the only correct term
(nābhiniveseya). Therefore, without prejudice regarding the name
tlat is used by diffeient ¡eo¡le, let us just call it a toad, wlicl is a
common name known to all, foi tle toad tlat is ¡uffed u¡ eveiy time
it is touched.
The great teacher again asked his pupil to clear this toad away
and discaid it, and tlen continue to dig. Ahei digging fuitlei, le
reached a point where a junction was found inside the ant-hill. In
tlis way, new and suange tlings weie discoveied one ahei tle otlei
until at last they came upon a dragon (nāga). In the process of digging,
all tlat lad been found commencing nom tle ant-lill to tle diagon,
came to fiheen — all ¡uzzles tlat weie sliouded in mysteiy. Tlese
are riddles or conundrums (paheḷi). Tley will be com¡osed in a mouo
in serial order that can be easily remembered.
A Moo About the Fieen Riddles
“Seeing a big ant-lill, smoking by niglt, and ejecting flames
by day, tle noble teaclei insuucted lis intelligent ¡u¡il to
investigate. On digging it with a hoe, he discovered a bolt, a
toad, a junction, a watei-suainei, a toitoise, a cleavei, a
clo¡¡ing-boaid, a ¡iece of flesl, and a diagon, making a total
of fiheen iiddles.”
Let us ex¡lain tlis mouo. “Smoking by niglt” means, at niglt
time it was emiuing smoke. “Ejecting flames” means at day time it
was s¡uiting out flames. Tlese two weie meant to indicate tle big
ant-hill. This ant-hill or termite mound was found by the brahmin
teacher. When he saw it, he asked his pupil to dig it with the hoe to
know distinctly what were inside the ant-hill.
6 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Wlen it was dug, tle fiist tling discoveied was a bolt noimally
used in fastening a door. As the pupil continued digging, a toad
called “Uddhumāyika” ¡o¡¡ed u¡. Tleieahei, a junction wleie two
¡atls met came in siglt. Latei, a watei-suainei, tlen a toitoise,
followed by a cleavei, a clo¡¡ing-boaid, and a ¡iece of flesl weie
found one ahei tle otlei. Tle ¡u¡il tleiefoie, said to lis teaclei:
“Tleie is a ¡iece of flesl.” Tle teaclei asked lis ¡u¡il to iemove tlis
¡iece of flesl and continue digging as befoie. As tle ¡u¡il went on
digging, le found a diagon and uueied witl sui¡iise, “Tleie is a
diagon, sii.” Tle teaclei tlen insuucted lim: “Let tle diagon iemain
where it is. Do not disturb or harm him. Worship the dragon —
Tiṭṭhatu nāgo, mā nāgaṃ ghaṭṭesi; namo karohi nāgassā”’ti.”
Nāgo: the dragon, tiṭṭhatu: let it remain where it is. Nāgam: this
dragon, mā: do not, gaṭṭesi: disturb or harm. Nāgassa: the dragon,
namo: revere and worship.
Tlis account conveys tle fiheen iiddles given by tle brahmā.
There is food for thought as to what is meant by the big ant-hill, the
toad, etc., fiheen iiddles in all. I listed all fiheen iiddles in tle mouo
to lel¡ you iemembei it easily. Ahei giving lim tlese fiheen iiddles,
the brahmā said to Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a: “O, Monk! You may
approach the Blessed One and respectfully pose these riddles. Take
note of the meaning of these riddles as explained by him. The only
ones who could answer them correctly are the Blessed One, his
disci¡les, oi someone wlo got tle solution nom me. No one else
would be able to give an accuiate and com¡lete ex¡lanation.” Ahei
leaving insuuctions wleie to obtain claiification on tlese iiddles,
the Brahma returned to his celestial abode.
In this connection, I should explain what connections he had to
Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a, and witl wlat intentions le lad come
down to earth to give him these riddles, so I will tell you about the
events that had taken place in a previous Buddha’s era.
Kumāra Kassapa’s Previous Life
Duiing tle lauei ¡ait of tle dis¡ensation of tle Buddla Kassa¡a,
finding tlat otlei monks weie conuavening tle monastic disci¡line,
some monks wlo weie alaimed about tlis state of affaiis, discussed
among tlemselves ieflecting low laid it was to come by tle
appearance of a Buddha. To become a Fully Enlightened Buddha is
Seven Monks Enter a Forest Reeat 7
not at all easy, as one wlose objective is to auain Buddlalood las to
suive ielentlessly tliouglout lis existences foi at least foui aeons
and a lundied tlousand woild cycles to fulfil tle ¡eifections (pāramī).
Only ahei auaining su¡ieme enligltenment, will le be able to teacl
tle uue Dlamma to enable mankind to gain tle ¡atl, its nuition,
and nibbāna. Tley tlouglt it iegieuable tlat some membeis of tle
Saṅgla did not confoim to tle iules of disci¡line. Tley leld tle
o¡inion tlat if sucl a state of affaiis weie allowed to ¡ievail, tlis
priceless and noble dispensation would soon disappear. They decided:
“Before this great and noble teaching is obliterated we should devote
ourselves to the practice of meditation to work out our own salvation
by relying on this noble dispensation. Let us therefore go into a forest
ieueat wleie tleie is uanquili[ — a ¡lace nee nom woildly
interference — and dedicate ourselves to the practice of meditation.”
Seven Monks Enter a Forest Reeat
Having made this decision they
went to a forested area, taking along
with them only the eight requisites
of a Buddhist monk: three robes, an
almsbowl, etc. Ahei ieacling tle
forest, they climbed up to a moun-
tain ledge that could not be reached
without the help of a ladder. It might
perhaps have resembled the famous
Mount Popa of Burma. When they
found the mountain ledge, the seven
monks made a ladder and climbed up.
Ahei ieacling tle ledge, tle eldest announced, “Monks! If you lave
any clinging for life, you may now leave and return to the foot of the
mountain. If you agree to stay here, I will throw down the ladder.”
Not one of the seven monks descended having a very ardent desire
to ¡iactice meditation even to tle extent of saciificing tleii lives.
They all agreed to remain. Since everyone in the group of the seven
had given their express consent to stay and meditate assiduously,
the elder threw away the ladder.
Ahei abandoning tle laddei, tle seven monks lad notling to
depend on except the Dhamma. They were now unable to get down
Taung Kalat, Mt Popa, Burma
© Andie Leuau
8 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
nom tle mountain. If tley jum¡ed down, tley would suiely meet
with death. The water they had taken along with them might have
been a small amount as was contained in a water-bag. If that water
was used up, they could die of thirst. They had nothing to eat for the
next day so they could die of hunger. Under such circumstances their
chance of survival depended on achieving the higher stages of insight
meditation and supernormal powers (abhiññā). The danger of death
was so imminent that they could not think about the future. In other
woids, tley weie ua¡¡ed, and so ¡lunged tlemselves into medita-
tion witl gieat eainestness and diligence. Because of tlis uniemiuing
effoit and zeal in ¡iactising meditation, tle eldest became an Aialant
duiing tle fiist niglt.
If developed by dwelling on its imminent nature, recollection of
death (maraṇānussati), can be veiy beneficial. Tle Blessed One tauglt
as follows, exhorting us to dwell on the thought of death.
“Ajjeva kiccamātappaṃ, ko jaññā maraṇaṃ suve;
Na hi no saṅgaraṃ tena, mahāsenena maccunā.”�
Atappaṃ: slould act witl iiglt effoit, eneigetically and zealously,
ajjeva: this very day, without postponing it to the next day, or the
day ahei, kiccaṃ: du[ tlat slould be done. In otlei woids, all tlat
can be done now, should be done at once with zeal and ardour
without procrastination.
Effoits to dis¡el unwlolesome states tlat lave aiisen, to ¡ievent
those that have not yet arisen; to arouse wholesome states such as
claii[(dāna), moiali[(sīla), oi tle ¡atl of concenuation and insiglt
(samatha vipassanā magga), that have not yet been acquired, is right
exertion(sammappadhānaṃ). All good deeds, particularly that of insight
should be carried out diligently, and should not be deferred until
tomoiiow oi tle day ahei. Meditation must be ¡iactised iiglt now.
That this was the Buddha’s exhortation is very clear. Don’t you
undeistand' If it is undeistood, you slould join tle meditation cenue
right now. Our male and female benefactors do not seem able to follow
this teaching of the Buddha. Leaving aside laymen, even some of the
Saṅgla do not seem to be able to adleie suictly to tle Buddla’s
insuuctions — tley find it difficult to com¡ly. Howevei, tle Blessed
One earnestly urged us with boundless compassion to devote ourselves
� Bladdekaiaua Suua, M.iii.187, Tleiā¡adāna, A¡.ii.506.
Seven Monks Enter a Forest Reeat 9
to meditation, because we do not know exactly when our death will
occur. It may be today or tomorrow or at some future date. How can
we know when we are going to face death? However, people generally
think that their own death will not take place today or tomorrow, nor
even in tle neai futuie. In geneial, tlat may be uue. Howevei, if we
take a census of deatls, we would find a consideiable numbei wlo
succumbed to death in spite of thinking that they wouldn’t die in the
near future. Nobody is sure when death would happen, which is why
it was said: “Na hi no saṅgaraṃ tena, mahāsenena maccunā.”
It means tlat we lave no o¡¡oituni[ to be on good teims
(saṅgaraṃ) witl deatl, tle king of tle undeiwoild, to get a fixed date,
noi biibe lim, noi iaise an aimy to defend ouiselves nom deatl
(maccunā). The king of death is equipped with a huge army
(mahāsena) and an arsenal of various lethal weapons such as disease,
poison, etc. No one las been given a fixed date by Yāma, the king of
deatl, as a favoui to a ¡eison wlo miglt wisl to beniend lim. Noi
is tleie anyone wlo can offei a biibe to live longei. In tlis woild, a
¡eison wlo las commiued a seiious ciime deseiving tle deatl
¡enal[, miglt get acquiued if le could offei a suitable biibe, but no
sucl biibe can be given to tle king of deatl to esca¡e nom deatl oi
to live longei. No one on eaitl can figlt deatl witl tle miglt of a
gigantic army though they may be able to defeat any enemy. Every
one of us will have to bow down before death. Death is, in fact,
inevitable and metaphorically speaking, invincible.
I slould mention leie tle significance of iecollecting tle imminent
nature of death. At one time, the Blessed One addressed a congregation
of monks to find out wletlei tley lad develo¡ed iecollection of deatl
(maraṇānussati). Thereupon, six of the monks respectfully replied that
they were contemplating death. When the Blessed One inquired further
as to low contem¡lation was made, tle fiist monk ie¡lied tlat le
imagined it would be good if he could live to practice the Buddha’s
teachings for a day and a night. His way of contemplation indicated
his assumption that he wouldn’t die today, but that he might meet
with death the next day. The second monk said that it had occurred
to him it would be good if he could contemplate just today while he
was still alive. The third monk said he thought to himself how good
it would be if he were able to contemplate for the time it took to take
his meal. The fourth monk stated it would be really good if he were
10 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
able to contem¡late foi foui oi five landfuls of food. Tle Blessed One
did not express his approval of the answers given by these four monks.
That means he regarded them as unsatisfactory.
I have come across cases where some people have pursued
alchemy so that they could live longer. When asked why, they replied
that they wanted to live longer. Then, when asked what they would
do if they lived longer, they said it would enable them to practise
meditation seriously for longer. What they had said is not in
confoimi[ witl tle Buddla,s teaclings. Only if one could beai in
mind that death is imminent, could one meditate with great diligence
and eainestness, ahei seveiing tle bonds of auaclment to life. Tle
belief entertained by the alchemists was that they would be able to
meditate witl ¡eace of mind only if tley lave longevi[.
Tlese aie diffeient ¡iinci¡les witl diveigent views. We do not
believe that by prolonging one’s life, one could meditate seriously
for a longer period. Those who meditate in fear of death, which may
occur at any moment, hope to gain insight before the hand of death
seizes them. If they were expecting to live for thousands of years, I
don’t think they would care to devote themselves to meditation as
earnestly as they are doing now.
Some meditatois do not make seiious effoits, and witl tleii
mind iunning iiot, s¡eculating wlat tley will do ahei meditation,
about wlat ¡ios¡eii[ and wealtl tley would gain nom tleii
business enterprise and so on, valuable time has been wasted for
nothing. Those monks who had climbed up to the mountain ledge,
discaided tle laddei to ¡ievent laxi[. Witl notling to iely on ahei
abandoning the ladder, they had no other way to survive except by
making ielentless effoits to aclieve tle Dlamma. Tle eldest monk
tlus gained Aialantsli¡ ahei a single niglt.
Arahantship is of two kinds. For some Arahants, the only
distinguishing feature is that they have the full realisation of the Four
Noble Tiutls and aie entiiely nee nom all defilements. Tley do not,
however, possess psychic powers (iddhi) such as the supernormal
¡owei of flying tliougl tle aii. Sucl an Aialant is called a
dry-visioned Arahant (sukkha-vipassaka). This means an Arahant who
las auained tle Noble Patl witlout jhāna and psychic powers. Some,
of couise, lave aclieved ¡syclic ¡oweis nom tle outset, and ahei
developing insight become Arahants. Some gain the psychic powers
Seven Monks Enter a Forest Reeat 11
simultaneously with achieving Arahantship, which is called “Mag-
gasiddha jhāna.” This means the jhāna that has the full compliments
of the path. Such Arahants are endowed with the psychic powers,
sucl as tle abili[ to fly tliougl tle aii. Tle eldest monk was one of
those Arahants fully equipped with psychic powers.
Tlis Aialant biouglt food foi lis fellow-monks ahei fetcling it
by flying tliougl tle aii, invited lis fellow monks saying “Fiiends!
Don’t ielax, continue youi utmost endeavoui in meditation ahei
taking food. I will supply you with your daily meals.” The six monks
then asked his permission to speak, and said “Before we undertook
meditation, did we make an agieement tlat tle fiist ¡eison wlo
achieved the special Dhamma should procure food for the others
who have not yet reached the ultimate goal, while the rest should
continue meditating while depending upon the meals so supplied?”
Tleieu¡on, tle Aialant ie¡lied, “No, niends, we did not.” Tle six
monks then said, “If we have adequate perfections, we will also
achieve the special Dhamma like you. If we were to nourish ourselves
with the meals brought by you, we would become lax, and thus
would take longer to reach our ultimate goal. ” They thus refused to
acce¡t tle offei of meals. Tle Aialant tleiefoie de¡aited to some
other suitable place.
On the next day, the second elder among the six, reached the stage
of a Non-returner (anāgāmi). He too gained psychic powers the
moment le auained Non-ietuining. Tlis eldei likewise biouglt
meals foi tle iemaining five monks, and offeied tlem in tle same
way as done by tle Aialant. Tle iemaining five monks again
declined tle offei of food, and went on meditating ielentlessly
denying all food and water. Since two days had elapsed, they must
lave been seveiely afflicted by lungei. Yet, tley ¡eiseveied at tle
risk of their lives. How wonderful and worthy of reverence!
Tle Non-ietuinei tleiefoie leh tlem and went to some otlei
congenial s¡ot. Tle five monks continued to make gieatei exeition
to gain stages of awakening, but as they were lacking in perfections,
they failed to gain the special Dhamma. They soon died of hunger
and tliist. In tlis iegaid, tlose wlo lave liule faitl in tle Buddla’s
teacling miglt tlink: “Tlese monks suffeied a gieat loss foi suiving
so laid in meditation.” In fact, it is quite tle conuaiy. It is not at all
sui¡iising tlat deatl is inevitable in one’s lifetime. No mauei to
12 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
what extent one may nurture himself to his utmost, death cannot
be avoided. It will take place one day. When it occurs, it is of
¡aiamount im¡oitance to lave a ¡uiified mind on tle eve of deatl,
to ieacl a beuei new existence. It is dieadful to face deatl wlile
leading a way of life witlout clasti[. In tlat event one could land
in tle lowei iealms. In tle case of tlese five monks, lowevei, as
tley lad succumbed to deatl wlile meditating suenuously, tley
weie fully accom¡lisled witl moiali[, and also ¡ossessed con-
cenuation and wisdom, at least to some extent. Hence, accoiding
to the Buddha’s teachings, their death was noble. They therefore
gained a gieat benefit.
Acquiring Beneficial Results
Tley iea¡ed tle benefits in tle following way. Ahei tleii demise
they were immediately reborn in the celestial realms as if they had
been aioused nom tleii dee¡ slumbei witlout any sensation of ¡ain
and suffeiing by viitue of tleii moiali[, concenuation, and wisdom.
On their rebirth, everything was found furnished to their heart’s
content including the amenities of the celestial realms, with well
furnished celestial palaces, along with a following of celestial nymphs.
Sucl beneficial iesults weie enjoyed nom tle time of Buddla Kassa¡a
until the time of Buddha Gotama. They had thus been repeatedly
reborn in the six celestial realms, and had the privilege of living in
great luxury, comfort, and happiness throughout such existences.
During the lifetime of Buddha Gotama they became human beings,
tle time being ii¡e foi tlem to esca¡e nom all suffeiing tliougl tle
auainment of nibbāna. Tley lad, tleiefoie, gained benefits tliougl-
out their rounds of existences.
Becoming an Arahant at the Age of Seven
Let’s return to the past history during the time of Buddha Kassapa.
Tle fiist eldei wlo became an Aialant, as mentioned eailiei, auained
final cessation (parinibbāna) at the end of his life-span in that era. The
elder who became a Non-returner was reborn as a brahmā ahei lis
deatl ieacling tle Suddlavāsa iealm. Tlis brahmā was said to be
watching his fellow-monks to help them whenever occasion demanded.
Finding tlem elevated to tle celestial iealms ahei tleii demise nom
the human realm, no occasion had arisen to help them at that time.
The Wandering Ascetic Sabhiya 13
Venerable Dabba Thera
Duiing tle lifetime of Buddla Gotama one of tle five monks
auained Aialantsli¡ at tle age of seven. A seven-yeai-old is veiy
young if compared to children of the same age nowadays. However,
he achieved Arahantship so young due to the perfections he had
accumulated as the monk who meditated diligently on the mountain
ledge. Those who are currently assiduously practising insight
meditation should not be discouraged if, due to unfavourable
circumstances, they have not been able to fully accomplish the
knowledge of the Dhamma. They can still hope to become an Arahant
easily as Venerable Dabba did in the era of this dispensation, or in
the least, in the dispensation of the next Buddha.
King Pukkusāti
Tle next monk lad been ieboin as King Pukkusāti in tle counuy
of Taxila. Taxila is situated in the southern part of Peshawar township
wlicl lies witlin Punjab, tle ¡iovince in tle exueme noitl-westein
¡ait of India. King Pukkusāti lad donned tle yellow iobe ahei
auaining jhāna through the practice of mindfulness of breathing
(ānāpānasati). He lad taken u¡ meditation, ahei iealising tle gloiious
auibutes of tle Buddla, Dlamma, and Saṅgla on tle suengtl of a
leuei ieceived nom King Bimbisāia of Rājagala. Ahei becoming a
iecluse, le leh lis native ¡lace to go and ¡ay lomage to tle Blessed
One. He aiiived at Rājagala wleie tle Buddla was iesiding. Tleie,
wlile le was staying at tle louse of a ¡ouei, tle Blessed One visited
tlat ¡ouei’s louse. Tle Blessed One tlen deliveied a Discouise on
the Dlātuviblaṅga Suua. While listening to the Buddha ’s teachings,
le became a Non-ietuinei. Howevei, soon ahei lis auainment, le
was gored to death by a cow that was an ogress who held a grudge
against lim in one of lis ¡ievious existences. Ahei lis deatl, le
ieacled tle Suddlavāsa brahmā realm. As such, it was unnecessary
for the brahmā god to lel¡ Veneiable Dabba and Pukkusāti.
The Wandering Ascetic Sabhiya
Another monk became a wandering ascetic by the name of Sabhiya.
Holding eiioneous views, le became an adleient of a false docuine.
Finding him thus, the brahmā god came to lim and gave lim twen[
riddles. The brahmā god tlen leh lim to find solutions to tlese iiddles,
14 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
advising him to become a disciple of the recluse who could successfully
solve these riddles. He went in search of a competent teacher and
eventually, failing to find anyone wlo could solve tlem, le a¡¡ioacled
the Blessed One. Elated with the answers given by the Blessed One,
le enteied tle Saṅgla and befoie long auained Aialantsli¡.
Bāhiya Dāruciriya
Tle next monk was ieboin in tle counuy of Bāliya. Hence, le
was given the name of Bāliya. He was dealing in international
uading business and was a ie¡utable wlolesale and meiclant laving
business ielations witl foieign counuies. Ahei successfully convey-
ing meiclandise witl sea-going vessels on seven occasions, le leh
lis native ¡lace by sli¡ on lis eigltl ui¡, fully laden witl meiclan-
dise, intending to take it to Suvaṇṇablūmi. In ancient times, the
sli¡s tlat ¡lied between diffeient counuies weie sailing vessels. In
tle ¡ast, Suvaṇṇablūmi was tlouglt to be a sea-¡oit by tle name
of Tlaton in Buima. Some ieseaicleis say tlat Sumaua was foimeily
known as Suvaṇṇablūmi. Tlis fits witl tle Commentaiy, wlicl says
tlat Suvaṇṇablūmi is an island.
On tle way to Suvaṇṇablūmi, Bāliya’s sli¡ was wiecked in a
violent stoim. Tle entiie ciew died exce¡t foi Bāliya. As foi Bāliya,
tlis being lis final existence, foitune favouied lim. By a suoke of
good foitune, le got lold of a ¡lank toin nom tle wieckage and
being buffeted by tle waves, le was giadually caiiied to tle sloie.
He rested on the shore and fell asleep. When he awoke, being hungry,
he thought of begging for food.
Having lost lis clotles in tle suuggle wlen tle sli¡ ca¡sized,
le was almost naked, so le gatleied tle slendei stems nom a ¡lant
and wove them into a garment, wrapping it around his waist. Seeing
him wearing a garment made of wooden stems, he was given the
name “Dāiuciiiya.” Ahei diessing limself witl tle outei gaiment
made of tlin sticks langing down nom lis waist, and finding an old
¡ot on an altai used to make offeiings to a dei[, le enteied tle ¡oit
of So¡¡āiaka to beg foi almsfood.
Tle ¡oit of So¡¡āiaka stands on tle west coast of India neai
Mumbai. It is a ¡lace called So¡āia wlicl lies at tle moutl of
Nammadā iivei to tle noitl of Mumbai. Finding a ¡eison suangely
wearing a woven slender sticks as his garment and carrying a worthless
The Goat That Became a Dog 15
old pot, the villagers thought very highly of him and remarked: “This
person is a sage. Unlike common people, he wears no ordinary clothes
and is using a worthless pot for his meals. This person looks like an
Aialant.” Regaiding lim as ¡iaisewoitly, tle ¡eo¡le offeied lim fine
clothes, good food, crockery, and utensils for his use.
It is amazing that people in those ancient times regarded a person
witlout any clotles as an Aialant. Tley ieveied Bāliya wlo lad
¡ieseived lis modes[ witl woven sticks, iegaiding lim as a noble
Aialant. Tley lad not consideied tlings wisely, and lad no abili[
to gauge a ¡eison nom vaiious as¡ects. Tlese ¡eo¡le weie ieally
gullible. It is because of sucl cieduli[ tlat woitlless beliefs witlout
proper foundation have sprung up at the present day. Leaving aside
these simple ancient villagers, even nowadays a few wrongly regard
a suange ¡eison wlo seems to be seeking foi a way out of tlis
worldly life, as a noble Arahant, and worship him reverently! In this
¡iesent age of modein science, des¡ite tle develo¡ment of scientific
knowledge and education, it is highly improper and inappropriate
to find sucl ¡eo¡le wlo blindly believe in bigouy.
Wlen le was so ieveied as an Aialant and offeied many
requisites by the villagers, he thought to himself: “They revere and
make offeiings to me because of my lack of clotles. If I acce¡t tleii
gihs of clotles and ¡ut tlem on, tley will lose faitl and ies¡ect in
me.” He tleiefoie acce¡ted only tle food offeiings and iefused tle
clothes, contenting himself with the garment made of slender sticks.
The people then thought even more highly of him and made more
offeiings witl incieased ieveience and geneiosi[.
Indeed, it is so. Gullible people usually hold in high estimation
sucl suange individuals wlom tley miglt meet. As ¡eo¡le admiied
and respected him all the more as an Arahant, he began to believe that
he was an Arahant. It occurred to him, “In this world, an Arahant may
be like myself,” and that odd assumption made him egoistic. It is natural
for people to over-estimate their own qualities depending upon the
consensus of many. Such a case has been cited as a fable in theHitopadesa.
The Goat That Became a Dog
At one time, a Brahmin bought a small goat and carried it with him
foi tle ¡ui¡ose of ¡eifoiming a iitual, an act to ¡io¡itiate a dei[. A
group of scoundrels seeing him carried a goat, wanted to get it for
16 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
nothing. They made a plot, and agreed to make claims that the goat was
a dog. They waited at the assigned places along the route they knew
tlat tle Bialmin would take. Tle ¡eison waiting at tle fiist ¡oint said
to tle Bialmin on tle lauei’s aiiival, “Hello, Gieat Teaclei! Wly aie
you carrying a dog on your shoulders?” The Brahmin ejaculated with
anger, “Who the devil are you? The animal on my shoulders is not a dog,
but a goat. I lave bouglt it foi a iitual saciifice. Can’t you see tlat it is
a goat? How could it be a dog?” So saying, he proceeded on his journey.
Ahei walking foi some distance, tle Bialmin ieacled a ¡lace at
tle ninges of a jungle. Tleie, a giou¡ a¡¡eaied and one of tlem said
“What a wonderful teacher! Since you belong to the high caste of
Brahmins, it’s really surprising that you are carrying a dog on your
shoulders.” The rest of the group joined in and agreed: “Yes. We are
at a loss to know why he is carrying a dog on his shoulders.” Then,
the Brahmin’s mind began to waver. He thought: “Just then a person
had told me that the animal I carried is a dog. Could it be a dog? I had
beuei take a close look at it.” Tlinking tlus, le ¡ut down tle goat and
looked at it. He felt the goat’s ears and said to himself, “Hmm! This is
not a dog, but a goat ahei all.” So saying le continued on lis jouiney.
When he reached the other side of the forested area, another
group appeared and made fun of the Brahmin, clapping their hands,
saying: “Hey, Look! Look! This is amazing. In spite of being a high
caste Brahmin, he is carrying a base creature — a mean dog. How
exuaoidinaiy!” Tlen tle Bialmin tlouglt to limself, “It seems to
be uue. Tle fiist ¡eison said tlat tle animal on my slouldeis is a
dog. The second group also stated that it is a dog. This group also
remarked that it is a dog. The beast I am carrying does not seem to
be a goat ahei all. It a¡¡eais to be a dog.” He tlen set tle animal nee,
uueiing: “Off you go, you big dog.” Ahei le lad abandoned tle
goat and leh, tle animal was killed by tle villains wlo cooked tle
flesl and made a feast of it.
This fable is told in the Hitopadesa as a lesson to those who,
though they may be educated, could waver, if many others jointly
ex¡iess tleii adveise o¡inion on any mauei.
Bāhiya’s False Pride
Tlis is similai to tle case of Bāliya wlo leld a false notion tlat
he was an Arahant. As a good number of people had spoken in
Bāhiya’s False Pride 17
admiration of his being an Arahant worthy of high esteem, he really
thought himself to be an Arahant. Nowadays, it seems there are some
wlo tlink liglly of tlemselves as being Sueam-winneis oi Aialants
on tle suengtl of tleii teaclei’s o¡inion of tlem as laving ieacled
those higher stages of insight. There could be a number of people
who become egoistic for having been highly praised by many others.
Such cases should serve us as a reminder to be heedful.
Tle Suddlavāsa brahmā found Bāliya laibouiing false ¡iide. He
ieflected, “My niend las been following tle wiong ¡atl due to lis
false view. During the time of the Buddha Kassapa when we were
meditating on the mountain ledge, he had devotedly engaged in
meditation even iefusing to take meals offeied to lim by tle eldei wlo
became an Aialant. He lad also iefused tle offei of meals nom tle
elder who became a Non-returner. Now that has debased himself by
acce¡ting offeiings made by otleis undei tle delusion tlat le is an
Aialant, altlougl le is fai nom being an Aialant. He las falsely
believes himself to be an Arahant. He has made a huge blunder. Before
long le is going to die. I slould lel¡ lim.” Reflecting tlus, le went to
Bāliya Dāiuciiiya. At niglt time, le stood in tle mid-aii witlin siglt
of Bāliya witl all lis iadiance, and s¡oke bluntly, “Hey, Bāliya, you
think highly of yourself as an Arahant. In fact, your are not. You are an
im¡ostoi witlout tle necessaiy auibutes to become an Aialant.”
Having leaid tlese woids, Bāliya tlouglt to limself, “Hmm!
Tlis is uue. I lave not made any effoit to become an Aialant. I was
ship-wrecked, and being naked, and had to weave thin stems of a
plant to wear as a garment. Wearing this garment, I went begging
foi meals. Tle innocent villageis weie im¡iessed by my suange auiie
and mistakenly extolled me as an Aialant. I lave commiued a giave
mistake in pretentiously claiming to be an Arahant, though, in fact,
I am not.” Feeling ashamed, he asked, “Venerable brahmā, if that is
the case, is there any real Arahant in this world? Where does he
reside? The brahmā replied “There is a place called the kingdom of
Kosala lying to the north-east. In that place is a monastery named
Jetavana, neai tle ci[ of Sāvauli. Residing at tlis monasteiy is
Gotama tle Buddla, wlo las descended nom tle ioyal family of tle
Sākyan Clan. Gotama is a uue Aialant, nee nom all tle defilements
of human passion. He is teaching the noble Dhamma and is showing
tle ¡atl tlat leads to tle auainment of Aialantsli¡.”
18 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Heaiing tlis statement, Bāliya felt ie¡entant, and was gieatly
alaimed foi lis im¡iudent belavioui. He immediately leh tle ¡lace
to seek out the Omniscient Buddha.
In tle Commentaiy to tle Bāliya Suua, tle distance nom tle
¡oit of So¡¡āiaka to Sāvauli is said to be 120 yojanas, but in the
Commentaiy to tle Puṇṇovāda Suua it is said to be 130 yojanas.
According to the Commentaries, one league (yojana) is approximately
thirteen miles. Present day researchers have said that one yojana is
about eight miles. If calculated at the lowest rate of eight miles and
120 yojanas, the distance would be at least 960 miles. To such a distant
land, Bāliya uavelled on foot in laste iesting en route only for one
night at each place. “Sleeping one night at every place he had passed
tliougl on tle way,” is tle exact meaning conveyed in Pāḷi by tle
expression “Sabbaha ekaraivasena.” As it has been stated “Sabbaha:
everywhere, ekaraivasena: coming ahei one niglt’s stay,” it is cleai
that at each place at the end of a day’s journey, only one night was
spent to rest. This is quite realistic. However, the commentator on
tle Bāliya Suua las given tle meaning as: “Tle jouiney nom
So¡¡āiaka sea¡oit to Sāvauli was coveied in a single niglt.” If tlat
is so, the long distance of 960 miles could not possibly be covered by
oidinaiy luman effoit, it would iequiie outside lel¡. It is also not
in agreement with the statement “Sobbaha ekaraivāsena.” By this,
as it is stated “everywhere” with the expression “Stay,” there appears
to be no justification in saying “walking oi jouineying,” wlen it las
been s¡ecifically stated as “staying” It will be absuid to stay only one
night throughout the whole journey. It would be “one night’s stay at
every place.” Hence, the statement “One night’s stay at every place
of stop instead of resting and wasting time for two or three nights,”
is more realistic. If the whole journey were performed in a night, the
expression Sabbaha: eveiywleie, is consideied su¡eifluous. Tle
word “vāsa: stay” will also be unnecessary. It would be adequate to
use the expression “ekaraaneva,” which means “only one night.”
Howevei, tle most significant ¡oint is: “Bāliya being gieatly
repentant had come in haste.” At the time of his arrival at the Jetavana
monasteiy, tle Buddla was away begging foi almsfood in tle ci[
of Sāvauli. Bāliya, tleiefoie, made lis way at once to Sāvauli. At
the sight of the Blessed One, he was overwhelmed with great
ieveience, intense ia¡tuie, and faitl, and ¡aid lomage. Ahei ¡aying
Bāhiya’s False Pride 19
homage, he fervently requested the Buddha to teach him. The Buddha,
fully realising that the time was inopportune to teach him while he
was in a mood of exueme ies¡ect and ecstasy, and also fatigued ahei
a long and suenuous jouiney, iejected lis iequest saying, “Tlis is
not right the time to teach while seeking for alms.”
Howevei, Bāliya eainestly enueated lim tliee times. Tlen, tle
Buddla, seeing tlat lis feivoui lad cooled down to a fit state of
com¡osuie, and also finding it an o¡¡oitune moment, gave tle
following exhortation in brief:
“Tasmātiha te, Bāhiya, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ — ‘Diṭṭhe diṭṭhamaaṃ
bhavissati, sute sutamaaṃ bhavissati, mute mutamaaṃ bhavissati,
viññāte viññātamaaṃ bhavissatī’ti.”�
Tle meaning of tle above Pāḷi ¡liase in biief is: “Wlen an object
is seen, just contem¡late and note fixedly as ‘seeing.’ Wlen leaiing
a sound, just make a mental note fixedly as ‘leaiing’ witl concenua-
tion. Wlen smelling an odoui, just concenuate and note fiimly on
‘smelling.’ When tasting, just note with constant awareness on
‘tasting.’ Wlen feeling a toucl, sim¡ly make a mental note fixedly
on ‘toucling.’ And wlen imagining, just mentally note witl fixed
concenuation only on ‘imagining’.” Having leaid tlis teacling —
which is meant to deter any inclination towards external thoughts —
wlile contem¡lating eveiy moment of consciousness nom tle contact
between the eye and visual objects, the ear and sounds, and so on,
by concenuating fixedly on meie awaieness of “seeing,” “leaiing,”
“toucling,” and “knowing,” Bāliya gained insiglt stage by stage and
became an Arahant. He was honoured by the Buddha, as the
¡ie-eminent individual in most s¡eedily auaining tle knowledge of
the Path and its Fruition (khippābhiññānaṃ).
Ahei tlus auaining Aialantsli¡, wlile going out to find tle
robes required to be ordained as a bhikkhu, Bāliya Dāiuciiiya met
lis deatl and auained final cessation (parinibbāna), being fatally
goied by a cow im¡eisonated by an Ogiess wlo lad animosi[
against him in the past existence.
As stated above, of tle five com¡anions wlo, as monks, lad
¡iactised Dlamma on tle mountain ieueat, Veneiable Dabba lad
alieady become an Aialant, King Pukkusāti, ahei auaining Non-
� Bāliya Suua, Ud.7.
20 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
ietuining was alieady in tle Suddlavāsa Bialma iealm, Venerable
Sabliya lad aclieved Aialantsli¡, and Veneiable Bāliya Dāiuciiiya
lad auainedparinibbāna. Only one was leh. Tle brahmā, ieflecting wleie
tlat ¡eison was living at tle moment, saw Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a
residing in the Blind Men’s Grove (Andhavana). Therefore, wishing to
lel¡ lim out, le a¡¡eaied at niglt time befoie Veneiable Kumāia
Kassapa beaming a radiant light and spreading out rays, and then
offeied lim tle fiheen iiddles, as las been stated eailiei, saying“Bhikkhu,
Bhikkhu! Ayaṃ vammiko raaṃ dhumārati,” etc. I have now explained
tle inuoduction to tlis discouise to slow wly it was tauglt.
On tle following day, Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a a¡¡ioacled
the Blessed One and respectfully paid homage. He then took his seat
in an a¡¡io¡iiate ¡lace and ie-iteiated tle full account of tle fiheen
riddles given him by the brahmā and sought the Buddha’s elucidation
with the words “Ko nu kho, bhante, vammiko, kā raiṃ dhūmāyanā, kā
divā pajjalanā… — What, venerable sir, is the ant-hill? What is the
meaning of emiuing smoke at niglt' Wlat is tle meaning of ejecting
flames duiing tle day' Wlo is tle Bialmin teaclei' Wlo is tle
intelligent pupil Sumedho, etc.” The Buddha replied as follows:
“Vammiko’ti kho, bhikkhu, imassetaṃ cātumahābhūtikassa kāyassa
adhivacanaṃ, mātāpeikasambhavassa odanakummāsūpacayassa
The meaning of the above passage is: “The ant-hill, Bhikkhu, is
a simile for the physical body composed of four elements, derived
nom motlei and fatlei, nouiisled by iice and ¡oiiidge, and woin
away by impermanence and decay.” In other words, the ant-hill
means tle ¡lysical body oi mateiiali[ (iūpa). Tle mauei ¡ossessed
by every human being is compared to a termite mound. Your own
body is your ant-hill. Now everyone seems to know what is meant
by the ant-hill. The comparison was made because the human body
is like a real termite mound.
An Ant-hill Full of Holes
An ant-hill is full of big and small holes. Likewise, the human
body has many big and small holes. The big holes are the openings
of tle eyes, eais, nosuils, and moutl. Tle small loles aie ¡oies on
the skin, which are permeable to sweat. Body hairs grow close to
A Heap of Dust 21
these pores. Western researchers state that about two thousand pores
can be seen in a square inch of skin under a powerful microscope.
Using just tle naked eye, only about twen[ ¡oies would be seen.
Mosquitoes appear to have very sharp eyes. They can suck blood
nom tle minutest ¡oies of tle luman body witlin a biief moment.
Men cannot see tle minute loles nom wleie tle blood is sucked by
mosquitoes, but a mosquito can see the tiny space through which it
¡okes and sucks. If tle skin is examined by a magni(ing glass oi
microscope, numerous tiny holes could be found just like in a sieve.
The human body, being full of big and tiny holes, resembles an ant-hill.
Hence, the ant-hill was used as a simile for the human body.
If people were able to see the innumerable pores on their own
bodies with their naked eyes, they would not consider themselves and
otleis as auactive, since tle body is, in fact, loatlsome. Looking at
the faces and hands with the naked eye, they seem to be smooth. They
a¡¡eai even moie smootl, nesl, and iefined if beautified witl
cosmetics. Peo¡le, tleiefoie, find bodies to be agieeable and desiiable.
If the pores on the body were seen with insight or with the mind’s eye,
they will be repulsive. The brahmā therefore compared this body with
an ant-hill.
An Ant-hill That Emits Filth
It vomits (vamati), thus it is called an ant-hill (vammika). What
does an ant-hill vomit? Snakes, scorpions, rats, lizards, and all kinds
of ciee¡y-ciawlies come out of an ant-lill. Sucl filtly, loatlsome,
and nigltful cieatuies aie vomited by an ant-lill. Similaily, tlis body
ejects teais nom tle eyes, wax nom tle eais, mucus nom tle nose,
saliva, and s¡iule nom tle moutl, sweat is ex¡elled tliougl tle
pores by glandular ducts. From the lower openings, faeces and urine
flow out. Is tleie a single deligltful oi desiiable tling among tlem'
No. All aie filtly and detestable. As tle ¡lysical body ejects all kinds
of loathsome excreta, it is likened to an ant-hill.
A Heap of Dust
The next meaning is that an ant-hill is a heap of dust fetched and
¡iled u¡ by wlite ants. Just as tlese fine ¡aiticles of eaitl discaided
by the ants have formed into an ant-hill, this material body is
com¡osed of tlii[-two body ¡aits (koṭṭhāsa) such as head hairs (kesa),
22 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
body hairs (loma), etc., which have been rejected as worthless by the
Buddhas, Pacceka Buddhas, and Arahants. These rejected things are
looked upon by ordinary worldlings (puthujjana) as pleasurable.
How? Just as there are people who keep long hair, there are those
who keep it short, according to their own preferences. They groom
the hair in a fashionable way with scented oils or pomade to make
it look beuei. Some lave tleii laii cuiled oi ¡laited at tle laii-
diessei’s. Tlis is done to enlance tleii ¡lysical beau[. It is obvious
tlat tley find ¡leasuie in doing so, and aie ¡leased witl otlei’s laii
s[les. Haii is iegaided as ¡leasant as long as it iemains on tle lead,
but once cut off, laii become detestable. If a laii is found in a disl
of iice oi cuiiy, ¡eo¡le find it disgusting. See low inconsistent tlis
is. When hairs are on the head, they give pleasure, but when dropped
off tle lead, a suong feeling of aveision occuis.
People are fascinated by and delight in not only the hairs on the
head, but also the hairs on the body. There are those who caress and
uim tleii moustacles, eye-biows, and eye-lasles in a faslionable
way. Tle beau[ of eye-lasles las been desciibed and extolled in
iomantic liteiatuie. Some women ¡luck oi uim tle eye-biows,
making tlem into a tlin sui¡, oi cuiving tlem into a ciescent sla¡e.
Some men keep long moustaches pointed at both ends, while others
keep long beards (like Santa Claus). This indicates one ’s own pleasure
in laving done so and also tle desiie to affoid ¡leasuie to otleis.
Finger or toe nails are cut and polished to make them look nice.
This is done simply because people generally consider them as
¡leasuiable. In big cities like Rangoon, tle women’s fingei and toe
nails are polished and coloured with varnish. Such nails are regarded
as delightful when on the body. Once they are cut with nail-clippers,
the nail clippings are abhorrent, and if kept in the house, some think
it would bring ill-luck. This superstitious belief perhaps arose because
if nail clippings were allowed to remain inside a house, the sharp
points could hurt young children whose skin is delicate.
Next comes the teeth. If seriously considered, they are useful and
biing many benefits. If tle teetl aie lealtly it im¡ioves digestion
and geneial lealtl. Witl suong teetl we can bite and clew. Peo¡le,
however, seldom think like this. They are happy in having them on
tle giounds tlat tley enlance tleii beau[. It may be uue in a way.
However, the important thing is that by keeping the teeth clean and
A Heap of Dust 23
healthy, they can be used to eat and maintain good health. When
¡lotogia¡led, ¡eo¡le smile to ex¡ose tleii teetl. Some even exuact
a good tooth and substitute it with a false tooth made of gold. Some
lave tleii teetl gilded. Wiiteis may desciibe a fine iow of wlite
teetl as like a iow of ¡eails, but wlen tley aie exuacted, tley become
so detestable that people are disinclined to touch them.
People wrongly regard the skin as smooth, beautiful, and pleasing
to look at. Having auaclment to tle com¡lexion of tle o¡¡osite sex,
they delight in seeing the outer layer of skin and physical appearance.
However, the skin becomes repulsive and is viewed with aversion if
it is affected by deimatitis oi otlei skin diseases.
Tle flesl, foi exam¡le, ied li¡s, ¡ieµ aims, well-iounded toiso,
with full breasts, cheeks, etc., if it is stout and muscular in males, or
elegant and slender in females, it is appreciated with great pleasure.
Women put on rouge to make their lips and cheeks rosy.
Furthermore, the muscles and sinews, because they make it
¡ossible to conuol tle limbs allowing one to sit, stand, walk, and
work, are regarded as pleasurable. The bones, ligaments, marrow,
etc., are not obvious, but the body as a whole is considered delightful.
Saliva and viscid nasal secretions by the mucus membranes are
detestable. However, while the saliva remains in the mouth it is not
detested, and is swallowed witl gusto. To ¡ievent tle tlioat nom
geuing diy, saliva las to be swallowed, and wlile so doing it a¡¡eais
essentially agieeable. Ahei tle saliva las been s¡at out, it becomes
detestable, and nobody would like to touch it. One has to wipe it
away if it is ejected nom tle moutl. Nasal secietions aie even moie
repulsive. Sometimes, nasal secretions have to be channelled through
the mouth and spat out. Phlegm is the same. Sometimes, phlegm has
to be swallowed and nobody seems to regard it as detestable, but
once tley aie s¡at oi cougled out, tley aie ueated as filtl, and unfit
to touch. All of these are disgusting to ordinary people just as they
are despised and discarded by the Arahants.
The most detestable things are faeces and urine. While they
remain in the bowels and bladder, people do not detest them, but
once they are excreted, people make a wry face at the sight of them.
Tlese tlii[-two bodily ¡aits lave been iejected as undesiiable
by tle Aialants. Tle wlole body being an agglomeiation of filtl
that has been rejected, it resembles an ant-hill, which is a heap of
24 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
dust discarded by white-ants. Thus the material body, which is an
aggiegate of filtly substances, slould be iegaided as un¡leasant and
undesiiable. So we slould suive to abandon tlis detestable mateiial
body, as has been done by the Arahants.
Tle next ¡oint I would like to suess is tlat tle ant-lill means a
heap of particles of earth that white-ants have deposited together
with their viscid saliva. In the same way, this material body, which
is compounded with the passionate desire for existence, is very much
like tle big ant-lill. Tlis conce¡tion being ¡iofound, it is difficult to
make a large audience understand its full meaning within a short
discouise, so I do not ¡io¡ose to am¡li( its meaning any fuitlei.
Home to Various Organisms and Germs
Another meaning is that in the ant-hill, there are hideous and
formidable creatures like snakes, scorpions, rats, lizards, and various
other creepy-crawlies. An ant-hill is, therefore, abominable. Who
would dare to sleep near an ant-hill? Our material body is like an
ant-hill. This body of ours is infested with innumerable germs. The
Pāḷi texts say tlat tleie aie eigl[ kinds of geims. We do not know
how many germs there are altogether. In the Commentary to this
sua it says, “Asītimaāni kimikulasahassāni,” tle liteial uanslation of
wlicl is: ‘Tleie aie eigl[-tlousand kinds of geims.’ If tlat is so,
tleie would be eigl[-tlousand s¡ecies of geims. Otlei texts mention
only eigl[ kinds. It will agiee witl otlei texts if a tlousand
(sahassāni) in tle Commentaiy is consideied su¡eifluous.
The ant-hill is a breeding ground for reptiles such as snakes and
scorpions, insects, and other creatures. These creatures excrete and
urinate in the same place. They sleep inside it coiling in that ant-hill
if they are sick, and they die there too. This ant-hill is a place where
these creatures are born, and is their lavatory too. It also serves as a
hospital and a graveyard for these creatures. Bacteria and viruses
live in tle flesl and blood — in tle veins, bones, stomacl and
intestines. Isn’t it the case that the body is a store-house for germs?
Among them, according to the doctors, there are disease carrying
geims. Tley bieed and multi¡ly inside tle body. Tleiefoie, no mauei
how highly people may regard and care for their own body as being
kings, millionaiies, officials, etc., it is a breeding ground for germs.
Some who hold superstitious views about having mysterious powers
An Accumulation of the Four Elements 25
of immuni[ nom injuiies tlat can be caused by all soits of letlal
wea¡ons, oi tle ¡owei to win tle affection of anotlei luman being,
are disinclined to enter a labour-ward for fear of losing their powers.
Tlis is nonsense. Tlese geims exciete filtl in oui lead and moutl,
tlougl we may iegaid sucl ¡aits of tle body as auactive and lovable.
Since the body is a toilet and cemetery for such vile germs, it is, in
fact, abominable. That is why it has been likened to an ant-hill. So
we slould cleiisl no auaclment to oui body.
An Accumulation of the Four Elements
The material body is composed of four primary elements, earth
(paṭhavīdhātu), water (āpodhātu), fiie (tejodhātu), and air (vāyodhātu),
just like the heap of dust called an ant-hill.
Let us then dissect and analyse it.� The earth element has the
claiacteiistic of laidness and solidi[. If we toucl any ¡ait of tle
body, we will find sometling laid oi soh. Wlen we feel tle laii, we
find it to be iougl and tle same will be found in tle case of eye-lasles
and eye-biows. Some may tlink tley aie smootl and soh. Howevei,
tlis sohness will be iegaided as laid if com¡aied to sometling sohei
and finei in textuie. Tlis is wly botl sohness and laidness aie tle
characteristics of the earth element. Finger nails and toe nails have
laidness, wlicl is tle natuie of solidi[, and teetl lave tle same
characteristic, and so does the skin. They are solid — all possess the
inuinsic claiacteiistic of tle eaitl element.
Tle flesl, veins, bones, bone-maiiow, ligaments, tle leait, tle livei,
membranes, tissues, chest, large and small intestines, digested and
undigested food, and tle biain, numbei fiheen. Added to tle ¡ievious
five, tle total is twen[. Tlese all lave tle claiacteiistic of laidness oi
sohness, and solidi[. Tley aie called tle eaitl element because of tle
predominance of hardness in these solids. In fact, these solids also contain
tle elements of watei, fiie, and aii. Foi exam¡le, in tle laii, tleie is tle
element of watei oi liquidi[, wlicl las tle claiacteiistic of being moist,
lumid, and sticky. It also las tle fiie element, wlicl gives out leat. Tle
laii also las tle aii element, wlicl ¡iovides movement and stiffness.
� Tle tlii[-two ¡aits of tle body as used in body contem¡lation aie: lead-laii,
body-laii, nails, teetl, skin, nails, teetl, skin, flesl, sinews, bones, maiiow, kidney,
heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen; lungs, intensities, mesentery, stomach, excrement,
bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, lymph, tears, serum, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial
fluid, uiine, and biain. (ed.)
26 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
This is the manifestation of the air element. However, as hardness is
predominant, the hairs are grouped under the earth element.
A meditator who is contemplating and noting, when touching
the hairs, feels hardness and knows the earth element that is inherent
in it. Wlen feeling it, if waimtl oi coldness is noticed, tlis is tle fiie
element. Wlen stiffness oi movement of tle body is known, it is tle
air element. If it feels damp, that is the water element. A meditator
need not ieflect on tle conce¡tual natuie of tle elements. Wlat is
required is merely to know their characteristics. Awareness should
not reach the stage of knowing that it is the hair of a male or a female.
To know its characteristic of hardness is fundamental. The earth
element is neither a woman nor a man. Nor is it hairs on the head or
body. It is only an element. To realise this fact is essential.
Tle element of watei oi fluidi[ is tauglt as including twelve
parts of the body: bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, lymph, tears,
seium, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid, and uiine. Tlese aie all
fluids tlat ooze out. Foi tlis ieason, tley aie giou¡ed as fluids.
Fluidi[ is a manifestation of tle watei element, wlicl is ¡iedominant.
Howevei, tlese bodily fluids also lave laidness, tem¡eiatuie, and
Next comes tle fiie element. Tle leat inside tle body is known
as tle fiie of decay (jīraṇatejo). Because of tlis fiie element tle luman
body is gradually decaying and growing older with the passage of
time. The internal bodily temperature that is higher than normal is
called fever (santappatejo). It is more than the normal temperature of
98.4°F measured with a clinical thermometer as used by doctors.
When the body temperature becomes very intense and unbearable,
it is called “dahatejo,” i.e. buining leat, wlicl causes seveie suffeiing.
The heat in the abdomen, which includes stomach, etc., gives the
power of digestion and is known as “pācakatejo.” These four kinds
of leat aie only known by tleii inleient quali[. It is neitlei female
nor male. If you examine and feel any place inside the body, you will
at least find leat, waimtl, oi cold. Is it youi self' Is it male oi female'
It is none of these. There is only the nature of heat, warmth, or cold.
Tlese aie all just tle fiie element.
Finally, we come to the air element (vāyodhātu). This element is
of six kinds. They are: 1) Belching, i.e. tle ex¡ulsion of aii eitlei nom
tle oeso¡lagus oi nom tle stomacl tliougl tle oeso¡lagus,
An Accumulation of the Four Elements 27
2)  flatulence, 3) gasuic wind tlat is geneiating in tle intestines oi
alimentary canal, 4) gaseous distention, 5) respiration, 6)  the air
element that pervades the limbs and other parts of the human body,
causing movement of tle limbs sucl as bending, suetcling, siuing,
standing, walking, etc. This is called aṅgamaṅgānusārivāyo, These six
kinds of aii element lave tle claiacteiistic of stiffness and motivation,
and is, therefore, obviously not male or female.
As ¡ieviously mentioned, tleie aie twen[ bodily ¡aits in tle
group of the earth element, twelve in the group of the water element,
foui in tle giou¡ of tle fiie element, and six in tle giou¡ of tle aii
element — foi[-two kinds in all. Tleie aie foui ¡iimaiy elements.
Tle wlole aggiegate is called tle body oi mateiiali[ (rūpa). From
the point of view of those who have no insight knowledge, there is
a wrong impression of their own body and that of others as a self,
and of being tle figuie of a female oi a male.
Foi exam¡le, take a biick building. Altlougl it is consuucted
with building materials, such as bricks, sand, lime, cement, and timber,
it is called a brick building. The building is not just a solid piece of
mauei. It contains a laige numbei of biicks in one couise ahei anotlei,
and an innumerable grains of sand, cement particles, and many small
and large pieces of timber. In the same way, this body is an aggregate
of numerous substances all belonging to the four primary elements.
Let’s now dissect tle foiefingei. Take off tle outei skin and nail
tlat covei tle to¡ ¡oition of tle foiefingei, and lave a look at it. Is
that outer skin and nail male or female? Is it an individual, a living
enti[, oi a being' It is notling of tlat kind. In fact, it is only tle eaitl
element, wlicl las tle claiacteiistic of laidness oi sohness. Below
the skin the bile, which unknowledgeable persons will not know
about. This is not the earth element, but the water element. Therefore,
just leave it aside. Flesh, nerves, bones and marrow will be found
underneath the skin. All these are not a so-called human being.
Neitlei is it male oi female. It is not a living enti[ oi a sentient being.
It is only the earth element, which has the characteristics of hardness,
iouglness, and sohness. Tleie is also blood in tle foiefingei. Tleie
aie lym¡l and bile in small quantities, wlicl manifest tle fluidi[
of tle watei element. Tleie is also waimtl oi tle fiie element in tle
foiefingei, and tle aii element laving tle claiacteiistics of stiffness
and motivation, is present too. None of these are male or female.
28 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Only the elements exist. Other parts of the human body have the
some nature and are composed of only four primary elements. This
aggregate of the four primary elements is called the body.
In tle lauei ¡ait of tlis Vammika Suua, insiglt knowledge is
likened to the hoe. When the big ant-hill is dug with the hoe of insight
knowledge, the four primary elements will be detected. If any part
of the body is contemplated, wherever touch is felt, the characteristic
of hardness or roughness will be noticed, which is the earth element,
and leat, waimtl oi cold will be noted, wlicl is tle fiie element.
Tlen, stiffness, stillness, oi motion will be found, wlicl is tle aii
element. If wetness, stickiness, or oozing are noticed, these are the
water element. This body should be known as these four elements
manifesting in foui diffeient ways.
It Begins om Fine Particles of Fluid Maer
Generally, people think that the material body is a solid mass. It
is not so. It las giadually giown laige nom tle smallest ¡aiticles in
which elements combined among themselves or with each other. It,
tleiefoie, beais tle name of tle body and las been foimed nom tle
parents’ spermatozoa and ovum. With the combination of the father’s
s¡eimatozoa and motlei’s ovum, amniotic fluid is fiist foimed. In
tlis fluid (accoiding to scii¡tuies), tliee kinds of cells called
kāyadasaka, bhavadasaka and vuhudasaka arise due to kamma. These
tliee cells and amniotic fluid aie so minute tlat tley aie invisible to
the naked eye. If the minutest particle of dust seen in the sun’s rays
coming tliougl tle window, is s¡lit into tlii[-six ¡ieces, tle
dimension of tle amniotic fluid is about tle size of tlis tiny ¡aiticle.
Tlis tiny ¡aiticle of cleai fluid slowly giows witlout being
noticeable. Ahei seven days, tlis cleai fluid becomes a bit tuibid, like
a greasy bubble. Then, this bubble again gradually develops into a
semi-liquid substance (protoplasm) something like a chilli-juice in the
sla¡e of a tiny ¡iece of flesl ahei seven days. Tlen again, tlis tiny ¡iece
of flesl, wlicl is not iigid and yields to tle sligltest ¡iessuie, becomes
a tiny ¡iece of fiim flesl ahei tle next seven days. Ahei anotlei seven
days, five minute ¡iojections ¡iouude nom tlis tiny ¡iece of flesl .
One will become the head, two will become the arms; and the others
will become tle legs. Tlese five ¡iojections aie called tle five limbs.
Developed From Nuiment 29
Latei, it giadually develo¡s into a fluid substance in tle sla¡e
of a head, hands, and feet and ultimately become a body. On the
seven[-seventl day, it is said tlat tle eyes, eais, nose, and tongue
a¡¡eai. Tleieahei, it is stated tlat tle nuuition obtained nom
nouiisling food slowly infiluates into tle body of tle embiyo in tle
womb, conuibuting to tle needs foi tle develo¡ment of tle body in
the form of iron, calcium, and other elements essential to growth.
The records of the medical scientists relating to pregnancy and the
development of foetus into a human form, are more accurate. The
Dhamma that was taught by the Buddha, the Commentaries and
Subcommentaries are only approximations, since it was not intended
to give medical ueatment and aid medical knowledge. I lave
mentioned it simply because the records of medical scientists have
been com¡iled com¡lete witl illusuations by ¡lotogia¡ls ahei
practical observation, research, and analysis for the purpose of
medical ueatment. Howevei, foi tle ¡ui¡ose of contem¡lation and
noting in tle ¡iactice of meditation, it is unnecessaiy to be so s¡ecific.
Hence, in tle texts tle subject mauei las been made given only
su¡eificial ueatment. Ahei tle develo¡ment of tle foetus foi about
seven to nine months, or in some cases ten months, a child is born
into tlis woild. Tlat is wly tle body, wlicl comes into being nom
tle ¡aients’ s¡eim and ovum, las been desciibed as deiived nom
mother and father (mātāpeikasambhavassa).
Developed From Nuiment
Next, tlis mateiial body giows because of food oi nuuiment. It
has been taught that physical body (imassa kāyassa) bears its name
(adhivacanaṃ) because it develops dependent on rice and curry
(odanakummāsūpacayassa). It develops depending on the mother’s
bieast-feeding ahei biitl. Fiom tle time tlat food and otlei nuuiment
can be taken, it grows because of the nourishment it obtains. Some of
the food eaten is consumed by bacteria in the gut. Some is excreted
as faeces, some becomes urine, and some is used for bodily heat. The
iemaining nuuiments s¡iead all ovei tle body to become flesl, blood,
etc. This is mentioned in the texts. In this regard, the records of
physicians are more precise. As nourishment is gained in this way,
the material body has grown up. The degree of body development is
measured in terms of the age of a person who, then, is said to have
30 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
auained tle age of two, five, ten, fiheen, twen[ oi tlii[, oi foi[, fiµ
oi six[ yeais, etc, wlicl, of couise, indicates tle lengtl of one ’s life.
However, it is not the same young child’s body that has turned
into a figuie of a giown-u¡. It is by bodily ¡iocess tlat new and nesl
material formations are continually arising. For example, it resembles
a seed that germinates, sprouts and then grows up into a plant or a
uee, mainly ielying on tle natuie elements of watei and eaitl. Just
imagine a seed of tle banyan uee tlat las develo¡ed into a big uee
witl tle ¡assage of time. Tle s¡iout tlat las s¡iung u¡ nom tle seed
is not the seed. When it is grown up into a small plant, it is not a sprout.
Again, wlen it becomes a big uee, it is not tle young ¡lant at all. In
the same way, physical substances in this material body are constantly
undergoing change — arising and passing away every moment. New
foimations of mauei aie occuiiing in ¡lace of old wlicl aie dissolving.
It is just like running waters that are incessantly changing. As it could
ciumble and is ¡ione to desuuction, it is cleaily subjected to tle Law
of Impermanence. Besides, in order to keep this material body clean
and tidy, it has got to be always bathed, its face washed and cleansed
and beautified witl ¡eifumeiy, etc. Sometimes, massaging has to be
done, to repair this body. This material body being an aggregate of
vaiious elements, is liable to decay and desuuction accoiding to tle
Law of Impermanence. It is, therefore, called an ant-hill, which is
identified witl tle mateiial body in tle way stated above.
According to the brahmā god, the big ant-hill is nothing but a
material body made up of an aggregate of the four elements whose
characteristics are as described above.
Emiing Smoke
In reply to the question “Kā raiṃ dhūmāyanā — Lord, what
is tle meaning of tle ex¡iession ‘It is emiuing smoke'’” tle Blessed
One replied, “Yaṃ kho, bhikkhu, divā kammante ārabbha raiṃ
anuvitakketi anuvicāreti — ayaṃ raiṃ dhūmāyanā.”
Tle meaning of tle above Pāḷi is: “Witl iefeience to tle woik to
be ¡eifoimed duiing tle day, it is ieflected at niglt.” Tle ex¡iession
‘emiuing smoke wlen niglt falls’ indicates “ieflecting oi imagining
at night.” In ancient times when the Buddha was living, people were
not exuemely avaiicious. In tlose ancient times, ¡eo¡le indulged
tlemselves in business affaiis only at day time. Only a few ¡eo¡le
Expelling Bright Flames 31
woiked at niglt. At ¡iesent, since ¡eo¡le lave moie gieed, tle field
of business has expanded. That is the why they have to toil both day
and niglt. Woik connected witl indusuy las to be ¡eifoimed aiound
the clock. The above answer was given in accordance with the times
wlen tleie was no woik oi activi[ to be caiiied out at niglt. It was
absurd to work at night time. For the said reason, what was to be
done on the following day, had to be thought of or planned at night
time. Tlis is wlat is meant by “emiuing smoke at niglt.”
In tlis iegaid, we can diffeientiate between good and bad smoke.
Wlat is meant by “good smoke” is sometling like ieflecting tlat on tle
following day, one has got to go to school, to the pagoda to worship,
obseive tle U¡osatla, give offeiings of alms, listen to ieligious dis-
courses, etc. However, the fundamental idea behind this discourse is the
ieflection made witl gieed, laued, and delusion ielating to woildly
affaiis. So, if one las become immeised in imagination iegaiding
woildly affaiis, im¡elled by gieed and angei, considei: “I am emiuing
smoke.” Nevertheless, one cannot possibly force people in this world
“to slut out tle bad smoke oi detei tlem nom emiuing smoke.” One
may have to think seriously in connection with some kind of business
that needs to be performed. Otherwise, there is a danger of any
undertaking failing or being spoiled. The main objective of this discourse
conceins monks beginning witl Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a and
including all others. In fact, there is nothing much to be done by monks
during the day time for their own personal welfare. It is simple because
of the support of lay benefactors who support the monks in their noble
way of living by geneious offeiing of tle monks’ iequisites. Eaily in tle
morning, monks can easily obtain food by making a round for alms
caiiying tleii alms-bowls ahei ¡uuing on tleii iobes. Tley lave iobes
to wear and a monastery in which to reside, so there is no need for them
to worry and plan about making a living. If thoughts do arise at night
time iegaiding tle following day oi tle day ahei, sucl tlouglts slould
be rejected, bearing in mind that these thoughts are merely “smoke.”
Likewise, meditatois slould uy to ¡ievent emiuing “smoke.”
Expelling Bright Flames
The question raised was “kā divā pajjalanā” — “Venerable sir,
wlat is tle meaning of “biiglt flames aie ex¡elled in tle day time'”
To this question, the Blessed One answered:
32 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
“Yaṃ kho, bhikkhu, raiṃ anuvitakketvā anuvicāretvā divā kam-
mante payojeti kāyena vācāya manasā — ayaṃ divā pajjalanā.”
Tle gist of tle above Pāḷi ¡assage is: “Reflecting at niglt time
is followed by actions performed by body or speech during
the day time.
Actions done duiing tle day aie “biiglt flames.” Wlat las been
thought of at night time in regard to any kind of business to be
performed is carried out gradually at day time as deeds or words.
All that have been planned with a feeling of greed and anger at night
are not only done by oneself, but also urged by means of verbal
insuuctions duiing tle day. Tlese aie said to be “ex¡elling biiglt
flames duiing tle day time.” Moieovei, in tlis iegaid, tleie is a
suange ant-lill. Tle natuie of tle “ant-lill” is sucl tlat ahei
investigating and hatching secret plans in day time, unfair opportu-
ni[ is taken suiie¡titiously only at niglt wlen otleis lave gone to
bed. This kind of ant-hill may be regarded as unnatural. Now that
we have dealt with three riddles.
The Buddha
In response to the question as to what is meant by the brahmin
teacher, the answer given by the Blessed One was “Brahmaṇotī kho
bhikkhu, Tahāgatassetaṃ adhivacanaṃ arahato sammā-
Tle meaning of tle Pāḷi is: “Tle bialmin teaclei iefeis to tle
Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One, who is
worthy of high veneration by humans, devas, and brahmās alike —
and wlo is tle Omniscient, iigltly knowing tle uutl of all Dlamma
analytically with his own wisdom and supreme intelligence like all
of lis Enligltened ¡iedecessois. Tle bialmin teaclei ¡eisonified
tle Buddla in as mucl as tleie is some soit of similaii[ in tle way
insuuctions weie im¡aited. Tle similaii[ is tlat usually a bialmin
teaclei lad about five lundied ¡u¡ils, and at tle most le miglt
lave five, six, oi seven tlousand. Howevei, in tle case of tle Buddla,
the number of disciples were countless. These innumerable number
of disciples or adherents were composed of all sentient beings
including devas and brahmās a¡ait nom luman beings. Tleie aie
numerous beings in the world of sentient beings and right now in
The Abode of the Noble Ones 33
this Buddha’s dispensation (sāsana). there are beings who will be
libeiated nom tle woild of beings (saaloka) during the lifetime of
the Buddhas to come. The Buddha has been extolled as
“devamanussānam,” laving been endowed witl auibutes of a gieat
noble teacher of all human beings, devas, and brahmās.
The Outstanding Pupil
Then, relating to the question as to who is the wise and well-
educated ¡u¡il of outstanding abili[ —Sumedho — the Blessed One
gave the reply: “Sumedho’ti kho bhikkhu sekkhassetaṃ bhikk-
huno adhivacanaṃ.”
Tle meaning of tlis Pāḷi ¡liase is: “Sumedlo is tle name of tle
fully educated, wise, and outstanding pupil.” It implicitly refers to
tle meditatoi wlo is undeigoing uaining (sikkhā) by practising
moiali[ (sīla), and concenuation to gain uanquilli[ (samādhi). A
¡eison undei uaining las abili[ in tle field of moial disci¡line and
is ¡iactising meditation to develo¡ moiali[, concenuation, and
insiglt. In tlis iegaid, a uainee is one wlo is ¡iactising to gain insiglt.
It refers to the outstanding pupil named Sumedho. This is because
the material body (the big ant-hill) composed of the four primary
elements cannot be dissected meiely by aclieving moiali[ and
concenuation. It can be dissected only ahei tle auainment of insiglt
knowledge through a course of practical insight meditation. Later,
you will know how it was dug with the hoe of insight knowledge.
Only if one ¡iactices insiglt meditation, could one become a uainee
accoiding to tlis Suua. Only tlen, would one be iegaided as a ¡eison
of outstanding abili[. If insiglt meditation is to be ¡iactised, moiali[
needs to be accom¡lisled. Concenuation and insiglt will tlen follow
automatically in due couise. A uainee wlo is develo¡ing moiali[,
concenuation, and insiglt, is tle outstanding ¡u¡il.
The Abode of the Noble Ones
If you wisl to become an outstanding ¡u¡il of abili[ like
Sumedha, let us contemplate and note in a practical way. It is
particularly meant for those who have not had experience in the
¡iactice of meditation. Tlis ¡liase nom tle Aiiyāvāsa Suua has
some bearing on the way that meditation should be practised:
“Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu satārakkhena cetasā samannāgato.” (A.v.30)
34 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
This means: “Here, monks, a monk is endowed with mindfulness
as a protection.” If fully accomplished in mindfulness, it would be
tantamount to reaching the abode of the Noble Ones. Whenever a
thought arises, protect the mind by contemplating it with mindful-
ness. If one possesses constant mindfulness, one is said to be residing
in the abode of the Noble Ones, and thus properly guarded and
secuie. Having ieacled tle abode of tle Noble Ones, affoids oneself
¡iotection nom tle dangei of descending to tle lowei iealms. If
progress is made by steadily noting the thoughts, the Noble Path
will be gained, wlicl will ¡iovide secuii[ nom all adveisities and
dangers of the cycle of existence. If mindfulness is established on
eveiy foimation of a tlouglt, even if tle Noble Patl is not yet auained,
one will be well-guarded against the four lower realms. In the event
tlat deatl occuis wlile ¡iactising mindfulness, one will definitely
escape the lower realms. This constant mindfulness of the arising of
thoughts is known as the abode of Noble Ones.
“Note vigilantly whenever phenomena occur.”
This means to note every time a mental phenomenon arises. That is,
every time consciousness arises on seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting,
touching, or imagining, be sure to note every occurrence. When conscious-
ness arises on seeing an object, note what has been seen. So also, when
awareness takes place at the time of hearing, the mind that knows the
leaiing slould be noted. Eveiy mental activi[ must always be accom-
panied by mindfulness. Apply mindfulness to every act of seeing, hearing,
etc. It is similar to the case of an invalid who will have to take medicine
whenever taking food to aid digestion. It means to apply mindfulness
in noting whenever seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, or knowing
occurs at any of the six sense-doors. This is said to be abiding in the abode
of tle Noble Ones, and it will give full ¡iotection nom all dangeis.
If you apply mindfulness vigilantly, not only will right mindful-
ness (sammāsati) occur, but energetic perseverance will be included
automatically. Tlis is iiglt effoit (sammāvāyama), and iiglt concenua-
tion (sammāsamādhi) is embraced therein too.
Right view (sammādiṭṭhi) and right thought (sammāsaṅkappa), go
hand in hand. As for right speech (sammāvācā), right action (sammā-
kammanta) and right livelihood (sammā-ājīva), which are the path
factois of moiali[, tlese aie fulfilled nom tle time of undeitaking
the precepts. All eight factors of the path are therefore embraced.
The Abode of the Noble Ones 35
“Note vigilantly whenever phenomena occur,” refers in brief to
tle ten Aiiyāvāsa dlamma. If stated in teims of establisling
mindfulness it is Satipaṭṭhāna. In tle liglt of tle Buddla’s final
admonition to suive witl leedfulness (appamādena sampādehā), it
is vigilance or heedfulness.
Every time consciousness arises, it should be accompanied by
mindfulness. Do not fail to note as “seeing, seeing,” “hearing, hearing,”
“smelling, smelling,” “tasting, tasting,” “touching, touching,” and
“knowing, knowing.” Noting as “touching” includes all postures and
movements. Mindfulness of the body such as: “When walking, he
know, ‘I am walking’,” etc., are also included in “touching.” While
walking, stiffness and bodily movements occui in all ¡aits of tle
body involved in manoeuvring the limbs. These movements occur
only ahei tle elements in tle body lave been ¡usled and stimulated
by the intention to move.
Body consciousness touches and knows. From there, conscious-
ness arises as “touching.” This feeling of touch brings awareness of
stiffening. Wlen stiffness occuis, awaieness becomes vivid. Wlen
bending too, note as “bending, bending.” It is the consciousness of
toucl in ies¡ect of stiffness and bodily movements. Tle movements
of the abdomen due to the pressure of the wind element should be
noted as “rising,” and “falling.” Next, when imagining and planning,
note as “imagining,” and “planning.” This is the routine in meditation
exercises. However, for a beginner, it is not possible to follow all
phenomena while contemplating.
It is important for a beginner to contemplate and note what is
obvious. It was mentioned as “Yathā pākaṭaṃ vipassanābhiniveso.” It
means tlat one can contem¡late seiially beginning nom wlat is
obvious. Generally, the bodily behaviour is more clearly manifested,
so the Commentaries say that contemplating and noting should start
witl tle mateiiali[ (rūpa). One slould begin contem¡lating nom
tle foui ¡iimaiy elements. One slould contem¡late staiting nom
any one of the four primary elements.
Howevei, as tle Sati¡aṭṭlāna Suua has shown how to contem-
plate the element of motion as, “When walking, he knows ‘I am
walking’,” etc., it slould be contem¡lated beginning nom tle element
of motion. Wlen siuing, contem¡late and note as “siuing, siuing.”
Tlen, stiffness wlicl is tle aii element will be known. In any case,
36 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
if noting is done at ease as “siuing, siuing,” tle ¡owei of concenua-
tion will get tle beuei of effoit wlicl may, tleiefoie, become weak.
Hence, wlile meditating in a siuing ¡ostuie, instead of noting only
one object, we insuuct to contem¡late and note tle iising and falling
movements of the abdomen, which involves a variation caused by
the wind element in pushing the belly up and down. All meditators
lave been insuucted to note tlus so tlat unifoimi[ of metlod can
be maintained among the meditators when contemplating.
Therefore, when the abdomen rises, note as “rising,” and when
it falls, note as “falling.” “Rising” and “falling” should be noted
mentally, and not uueied veibally. Tle key ¡oint is to be awaie of
the phenomenon. This is the same as “contemplating,” “noting.”
“knowing,” and “memorizing.” Some have laid down certain rules
sucl as, “It is not to be uueied tlat way,” oi “It slould be uueied in
this way.” These rules are unnecessary — the essential thing is to
know or be aware. If it is noted as “knowing, knowing,” it amounts
to knowing it. If it is noted as “contemplating, contemplating” it will
also be known. If noting is done, it is known. If it is memorized and
is noted, it is also known. If noted as “imagining,” knowing is the
iesult. All aie tle same and lave tle same effect. We just say “note,”
to be able to pronounce it with ease.
Wlen tle abdomen iises, note as “iising” nom tle beginning to
the end with awareness. In the same way, note “falling” and be aware
of it. Tle bieatling slould not be conuolled. It slould be allowed
to proceed at its natural pace. It is unnecessary to hold your breath
to slow down tle iate of bieatling. Noi slould s¡ecial auention be
paid to quicken the breathing, nor to breathe harder. Breathe as usual,
and in the process of noting, just follow through and note. Practising
insight meditation does not mean to contemplate anything which is
not yet in existence by invention oi by inuoducing a novel[. It is
meant only to be contemplated and noted serially the phenomena
of things arising and disappearing in respect of the existing dhamma.
Therefore, it is merely necessary to contemplate and note in
sequence as “rising” when the abdomen rises, and as “falling” when
it falls. If the mind wanders while contemplating, the wandering
mind should be noted. If it wanders, note as “wandering.” If the
wandering mind reaches a certain place, note as “reaching, reaching.”
If it plans or imagines, note as “planning” or “imagining.” It is not
The Abode of the Noble Ones 37
at all difficult. Tlis mode of noting is contem¡lation of consciousness
(citānupassanā), then revert to the usual exercise of noting as “rising”
and “falling.” Meanwlile, if stiffness, lotness, ¡ain, oi acling
manifest, tley slould be noted. If tleie is stiffness, note as “stiff, stiff”
witl tle mind fixed on tle ¡lace wleie stiffness is felt. If a lot
sensation occuis, note as “lot, lot” concenuating on tle ¡lace wleie
heat. If pain is felt, note it as “pain, pain.” These are called contem-
plation of feelings (vedanānupassanā). Ahei noting tle feelings, ieveit
to the usual exercise of noting “rising” and “falling.”
If a sound is heard, note it as “hearing, hearing,” and then, revert
as usual to noting “iising” and “falling.” Foi one siuing, tlis is quite
enough. However, when meditation is practised the whole day or
foi a long time, “bending,” “suetcling,” and otlei bodily movements
should also be noted. Furthermore, other the postures must be noted
too. All phenomena that arise or occur are to be noted. Noting done
duiing tle ¡iesent meditation exeicise at one siuing is meiely an
experiment in tasting the Dhamma, just like tasting a bit of salt. It is
only about two minutes which is a short while.
Let us meditate for a brief period to become a clever pupil. There
is one thing to be born in mind before indulging in meditation, and
that is: “Addhā imāya paṭipadāya jarāmaraṇamhā parimuccissāmi,” as
insuucted in tle Visuddlimagga. Tlis means essentially, “I will beai
in mind that by performing this practice, I will certainly be liberated
nom all tle woes, woiiies, and miseiies of tlis cycle of existence,
such as old age and death.”
In this world of human existence, if everything goes smooth in
tle mauei of one’s own livelilood foi subsistence, it would biing joy
and happiness. Some even hum a tune while working.
Wlat could be ex¡ected as lis eainings nom lis sweat and laboui
is just sufficient enougl foi a day’s ex¡ense. If ciicumstances ¡eimit,
he might receive remuneration to cover his living expenses for two
or three days. Rare indeed is a person who will earn enough for ten
days’ expenditure for his living with one day’s work. Surely, with
one day’s income, it would not be sufficient to meet tle entiie
ex¡enses foi a yeai, fai less foi a life-time. If one could find enjoyment
and sing a song while performing a task to earn money to cover his
expenses for a day or two, will it not be happier for him to practise
meditation so as to get limself libeiated foievei nom tle woes and
38 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
worries of this cycle of existence? It’s worth not only singing a song,
but also taking part in an opera. This is said just to encourage people
to practise meditation with diligence and enthusiasm which will
surely bring about happiness. This is what has been stated by the
Commentators and not me. We may, therefore, meditate just for two
minutes in accoidance witl tle insuuctions given.
Eight Path Factors In One Act of Noting
Tle time is u¡ — just two minutes. It is ¡ossible to note tlii[
times in a minute, ¡eila¡s foi[ oi fiµ. If you could note 30 times
in a minute, you can noted six[ times in two minutes. At eveiy act
of noting the eight factors of the path (maggaṅga) are included.
Firstly, does it not include exertion with care at every moment
of noting' Tlis exeition is iiglt effoit (sammāvāyama). It is indeed
the right kind of exertion. It is not the kind of exertion that is applied
Then, at every moment of making a note, there is mindfulness.
This is right mindfulness (sammāsati), wlicl means auentiveness oi
mindfulness. Eveiy time noting is done, tle mind gets fixed on tle
object of meditation. Tlis is iiglt concenuation (sammāsamādhi).
Tleiefoie, we now lave tliee ¡atl factois: iiglt effoit, iiglt
mindfulness, and iiglt concenuation.
Next, at every moment of noting, the mind that is noting proceeds
gradually in advance as if taking a step forward. For example, if rising
movement of the abdomen is noted as “rising,” the mind that is noting
rests on the act of ‘rising.’ Similarly, when the falling movement of
the abdomen is noted, the mind that is noting will rest on the act of
‘falling.’ This occurrence is known as right thought (sammāsaṅkappa).
Although it is given the meaning of right thought, while making a
note, it is not necessary to think for a long time. The mind that notes
naturally advances towards the sensation. Hence it has been stated
that it possesses the characteristic of application of the mind
(abhiniropanalakkhaṇa). This is, of course, right thought. Then, the
right perception of the sense-object which has been noted right view.
How it is rightly known may be explained thus: while noting “rising,”
it is ¡eiceived as laving tle claiacteiistics of stiffness and mobili[.
To become awaie of tle stiffness and movement is to know iigltly
tle aii element. In fact, at tle fiist moment of tle aiising of awaieness,
Eight Path Factors In One Act of Noting 39
no auaclment oi imagination takes ¡lace tlat it is a man oi woman,
an individual or a living being, me or him, etc. It does not include any
eiioneous ¡eice¡tion. If a stiff sensation is felt, it is ¡eiceive oi known
as “stiffness.” If it becomes tense, tle “tension” tlat aiises is known.
Knowing uuly as sucl is called iiglt view. Wlen tle ¡owei of
concenuation becomes suongei, tle aiising and dissolution of tle
¡lenomenon in its ¡iocess is cleaily known nom beginning to end.
This brings realisation of the nature of impermanence. If imperma-
nence is known, unsatisfactoriness and not-self are also appreciated
and realised. Knowing them at every moment of noting is the path
factor of right view. Right view and right thought are the two path
factors belonging to the wisdom group. These two, together with
tle tliee ¡atl factois of concenuation aie called tle ‘five woikeis’
(karaka maggaṅga). To complete the process involved in a single noting,
tlese five woik togetlei in laimony. Eveiy time wlen contem¡lation
is made, tlese five aie woiking in unison.
Wlen tlese five aie woiking togetlei, tle ¡atl factois of moiali[
automatically come into ¡lay. Foi am¡lification, it may be said tlat
moiali[ was ¡uiified nom tle time of obseiving tle ¡iece¡ts. It
iemains ¡uiified at tle time of contem¡lating tle iising and falling
of tle abdomen. It may even lave tle clance to get moie ¡uiified.
In terms of factors, it embraces right speech, right action, and
iiglt livelilood. Wlen tlese tliee aie combined witl tle five woikeis
already mentioned, it totals eight path factors. When these eight are
included, it is the Path (magga). Tleie aie many diffeient kinds of
path, such as paths leading to a village, town, monastery, pagoda,
jungle, river port, etc. Like these mundane paths, there are also many
diffeient kinds of s¡iiitual ¡atl. Tleie aie ¡atls tlat lead to lell, tle
world of hungry ghosts, or to the animal realm.
The paths leading to the lower realms are paths of vice, of
unwholesome action (akusala kamma), and demerit. If you wish to,
you can follow any of these evil paths. On the other hand, there are
paths leading to the human and celestial realms. These paths are the
wholesome actions (kusala kamma) sucl as meiitoiious deeds of claii[
(dāna), moiali[ (sīla), etc. Tleie is tle ¡atl of uanquilli[ meditation
(samatha jhāna) leading to the brahmā realms. Should you wish to follow
tlese viituous ¡atls, you may do so. Among tlese diffeient kinds of
¡atl, tle Noble Eigltfold Patl is tle one leading to nibbāna. Tle
40 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Sati¡aṭṭlāna Suua says tlat it is tle one and only ¡atl (ekāyano maggo)
leading to tle auainment of nibbāna (nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya).
Now you have gained these eight wholesome path factors at least
six[ times witlin two minutes. Witlin sucl a biief ¡eiiod you lave
cultivated tle ¡atl factois six[ times. If, foi exam¡le, tle Noble Patl
could be achieved by cultivating the path factors a hundred times there
would iemain only about foi[ moie to ieacl tle goal. Duiing tle lifetime
of the Buddha, there were people who reached the Noble Path within a
brief moment while listening to a sermon by the Blessed One. Any of you
can aspire to gain such an achievement. Say, if by noting a thousand times
you can reach that stage, only 940 times remain to reach your desired
destination. Today, you aie six[ ste¡s neaiei to nibbāna by meditating
as an experiment. When going outside or staying at home, if you could
contemplate and note your own physical and mental behaviour every
time an o¡¡oituni[ aiises, it would amount to develo¡ing tle eiglt ¡atl
factors. It is a really precious Dhamma to be practised daily. If you could
do so, you will gather the seeds of perfections, without any expense.
Summary: Tle ant-lill is tle body, emiuing smoke is ¡lanning at
niglt, biiglt flames means day time activities, tle Bialmin teaclei is
the Buddha; and the pupil is a meditator. The hoe is knowledge with
which to dig the ant-hill. The bolt is ignorance; the toad is anger; the
ioad junction is wiong view. Tle watei-suainei is tle five lindiances.
Tle toitoise is tle five aggiegates, sensual desire is a chopping-board;
deliglt is a ¡iece of flesl, tle celestial diagon is an Aialant.
Part II
The Buddha, the Brahmin Teacher
As has been stated earlier, the “Brahmin Teacher” refers to the
Buddha, the Enlightened One. The Buddha as the founder of the
Buddlist ieligion las innumeiable adleients. Tle communi[ of monks
are his disciples, and his devoted followers include human beings,
devas andbrahmās. Tle Buddla, tle Enligltened One, ¡ossesses infinite
and infallible knowledge. Ahei lis auainment of Enligltenment, le
imparted to human and celestial beings the realisation that he had
gained. By teaching the Dhamma throughout his lifetime, he became
the saviour of mankind. What he taught is the Truth which he himself
had acquired and understood, without anyone’s aid. By adhering to
The Buddha, the Brahmin Teacher 41
tle ¡iactices le ¡iesciibed, lis disci¡les aie iedeemed nom tle miseiies
of tle cycle of existence, and auain nibbāna. Tlus, tle auibute “Teaclei
of gods and men (sahādeva manussānaṃ)” is included in the nine
gloiious auibutes witl wlicl le was endowed.
For having benevolently shown to all human and celestial beings
tle way to tle bliss of nibbāna, tley iegaid lim as tleii beloved mastei
and teacher. The qualities which such a teacher should possess are
fundamentally to lave tle abili[ to ¡ievent all beings nom commiuing
acts wlicl will acciue no benefit and also nom indulging in demeii-
torious deeds. He must also be able to dispense his knowledge of
Dhamma with unbounded love and compassion for all mankind. An
oidinaiy teaclei may lave tle same kind of auibutes. Neveitleless,
tle Buddla, wlo is a teaclei of tle most outstanding abili[, is ca¡able
of giving protection to countless generations of people throughout
the cycle of existences. He taught and admonished mankind to avoid
all vices, to ienain nom doing evil deeds eitlei in ¡eison, oi by ¡ioxy,
and to kee¡ tleii tlouglts nee nom evil. In tlus ¡iolibiting mankind,
devas, and brahmās — wlo aie not yet nee nom tle bondage of
defilements — nom doing evil, tle Buddla las loving-kindness (meā)
and compassion (karuṇā) in his heart. With boundless compassion,
tle Buddla ¡iolibited all luman and celestial beings nom commiuing
evil or immoral acts. Yet, all these beings in their own personal interest
aie bent u¡on killing and ill-ueating otleis.
I remember an incident that occurred in my youth. A son advised
his mother to avoid killing and stealing. The mother replied, “Oh,
my dear son! In this human world, one unavoidably has to do such
acts foi one’s own subsistence. It’s im¡ossible to abstain nom doing
so.” Wlat a ¡i[' Peo¡le usually tlink sucl sinful acts aie ¡eimissible
for the sake of one’s livelihood.
Neveitleless, tle Buddla foibade ¡eo¡le to kill, ill-ueat, to steal,
or to rob others, being aware that such demeritorious acts, if
commiued, would biing diie consequences in tle foim of suffeiing
throughout the cycle of existences, for the sake of one’s short-term
welfare derived during a short period of one lifetime. The Buddha
insuucted us to do tlings tlat ouglt to be done, sucl as moiali[,
concenuation, and wisdom. Enfoicement of tle iules of moiali[ oi
good conduct would ¡eila¡s a¡¡eai iesuictive to some ¡eo¡le wlo
might consider it as being rather too drastic.
42 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
A Monk and a Millionaire’s Son
During the Buddha’s lifetime, a millionaire’s son asked a monk
whom he revered and whose benefactor he was: “Venerable sir, I
wisl to esca¡e nom tle ¡ain and miseiy of tlis cycle of existence. I
wisl to aclieve nibbāna, wleie all luman ¡assions and suffeiing
cease. How should I conduct myself?” He was, therefore, advised to
donate food, robes, etc., and to perform other meritorious deeds.
Having duly com¡lied witl tlis insuuction, le again asked tle monk,
“I have made several kinds of donation and performed meritorious
deeds, but I lave not yet found tle Dlamma tlat biings needom
nom suffeiing.” Tle monk tlen gave lim fuitlei insuuctions to take
tle tliee iefuges and to obseive tle five ¡iece¡ts. Ahei obseivance
of tle five ¡iece¡ts, le still failed to find ieal la¡¡iness and get nee
nom suffeiing. He, tleiefoie, a¡¡ioacled tle monk again and said,
“Veneiable sii, I lave ies¡ectfully obseived tle five ¡iece¡ts, but lave
not yet become nee nom woes and woiiies.” Tlen, tle monk
insuucted lim to obseive tle ten ¡iece¡ts. Des¡ite tlese wlolesome
¡iactices, le lad not gained com¡lete emanci¡ation nom miseiy.
Finally, tle monk advised lim to entei tle Saṅgla. Wlen
ordained as a bhikkhu, ordinary layman’s clothes are discarded, and
ahei slaving tle lead, tle yellow iobes lave to be donned accoiding
to tle Vinaya iules. Tleieahei, lis own ¡iece¡toi tauglt lim tle
Vinaya rules. The senior monk who gave him dependence� imparted
lessons to lim ielating to tle Suua and Ablidlamma.
Latei, tle monk was insuucted to ¡iactise insiglt meditation.
Wlen le met lis teaclei, le was buidened witl so many iesuictions
and conditions regarding the disciplinary rules that it made him
ieflect, “A monk’s life is so difficult. I enteied tle Saṅgla to get iid
of tle miseiies of existence, but tle iules aie so iesuictive and binding
that there is hardly room to move. It is impossible for me to remain
in tle Saṅgla any longei, I would iatlei discaid tle iobes and ieveit
to tle life of a layman. I will lead tle louselold life, suiving as mucl
as ¡ossible to ¡iactise alms-giving and moiali[, to get nee nom tle
suffeiing and miseiy of existence.”
Fortunately, this incident happened during the lifetime of the
Buddha. His teacher, having heard about his change of heart, sent
� A newly ordained bhikkhu must live in dependence on a senior bhikkhu of at least
ten yeais’ senioii[ foi five yeais wlile le is uaining in tle monastic disci¡line (ed.)
A Monk and a Millionaire’s Son 43
tlis monk to tle Blessed One. Ahei iecounting wlat lad taken ¡lace,
the Blessed One asked him why he wanted to disrobe. He respectfully
ie¡lied: “I lave so many insuuctions to kee¡ in mind. Having been
taught the rules of discipline, I have become very perturbed both
mentally and physically, and I dare not even move. As the rules of
disci¡line aie so iesuictive, I’ve decided to disiobe.” It seems tlat
this monk had become worried and found it burdensome as he was
undei constant feai of bieaking tle iules of disci¡line and inflicting
damage to tle ¡iogiess of lis concenuation and insiglt.
On hearing his answer, the Blessed One encouraged him, saying,
“Do not worry. I will give you only one rule to follow. If you can keep
it, there is nothing more to be done. The monk then inquired,
“Venerable sir, what rule is to be followed?” The Buddha said: “Take
care of your mind only. Could you do that?” To this question, the
monk replied that he could. This monk probably imagined that since
only tle mind lad to be conuolled and ke¡t undei watcl, it would
not be too onerous for him as was the case in observing the Vinaya
rules and code of conduct for bhikkhus. Numerically, as it is only one
thing, he might have considered it easy to manage. That is why he
undertook to comply.
Then, the Blessed One taught him mindfulness of consciousness
in this way:
“Sududdasaṃ sunipuṇaṃ, yahakāmanipātinaṃ.
Ciaṃ rakkhetha medhāvī, ciaṃ guaṃ sukhāvahaṃ.”
“Tle mind is veiy laid to ¡eiceive, exuemely subtle, it flies
wherever it likes. Let the wise person guard it; a guarded
mind is conducive to happiness.” (Dhp v 36)
The above verse says that a wise person should vigilantly guard
the very subtle mind, which is inclined to dwell on any sensation
tlat may aiise. Tle mind, wlicl is ca¡able of effectively guaiding
against defilements aiising, can biing one to tle bliss of nibbāna.
That is why mindfulness of consciousness was prescribed. It would
be good if I could elaboiate on tlis Pāḷi veise. Howevei, as tleie aie
a number of important points to be explained, I should proceed.
Tle afoiementioned monk, ahei ¡iactising contem¡lation of
consciousness based on the essence of this verse, soon became an
Aialant. In tlis iegaid, tle main ¡oint tlat I want to suess is tlat it
44 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
is usually thought that the monastic rules of conduct and discipline
aie exuemely iigid. Moieovei, as tle mind slould be ¡ievented nom
wandering while practising meditation, one might think that it is
exceedingly iesuictive.
I heard that a monk once delivered a sermon on insight medita-
tion to lis benefactoi. Tle insuuction le gave was tlat tle mind
should be noted with awareness at every moment. One should note
mentally at every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting,
touching, walking, moving, thinking, and imagining. It was taught
that by contemplating and noting thus, insight would arise. His
benefactor’s reply was that he would be unable to contemplate since
there were too many things to be noted. When practising insight
meditation, there should be no lapse. There is hardly any break. It
is, tleiefoie, ohen ¡iesumed tlat tle ¡iactice of insiglt meditation
is too rigid.
Howevei, tle Buddla tauglt tlese metlods to benefit mankind.
If no effoit is made to ¡iactise in tle way insuucted, tleie is no lo¡e
of auaining a stage wleieby one could be suie of esca¡ing nom tle
foui lowei iealms. No mauei low well geneiosi[ and moiali[ miglt
lave been fulfilled, undei ceitain unfavouiable ciicumstances befoie
ieacling tle ¡atl and its nuition, nom any one of many existences,
one miglt descend to tle foui lowei iealms. Tlis is a cause foi anxie[.
To get fully libeiated nom tle foui lowei iealms, and to esca¡e foievei
nom tle miseiies and suffeiing of existence, tle Buddla tauglt us
to develo¡ moiali[, concenuation, and wisdom. He tauglt tlus foi
tle benefit of all mankind including devas and brahmās who have
adequate perfections to have faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, and
Saṅgla tliouglout tle ¡eiiod of tle cuiient dis¡ensation, beginning
nom tle lifetime of tle Buddla.
As expressed in the maxim: “Buddho loke samuppanno, hitāya
sabbapāṇinaṃ: Tle Buddla (wlo fully iealised tle foui noble uutls)
appeared in the world to reveal the universal principles of the
Dhamma for the welfare of all beings.”� The Buddha gained
Enligltenment foi tle benefit of all beings, botl teiiesuial and
celestial, but many are unable to gain faith in the Buddha. Those who
do not lave ieveience foi tle Buddla aie, of couise, deficient in
perfections. They may, therefore, be regarded as unfortunate. To cite
� Suua-Ni¡āta Aulakatlā, ii.578.
The Hoe 45
an exam¡le, only tlose wlo aie endowed witl tle gih of ¡owei and
gloiy will come to ¡ossess ¡iecious aiticles, ¡io¡ei[, and wealtl
because of their perfections. In the same way, only those who have
perfections will have the chance of paying homage to the Buddha.
To put it in another way, even if nourishing food is available for
anyone to consume witl ielisl, a ¡eison wlo las stomacl uouble
cannot eat and find enjoyment. He oi sle is, tleiefoie, consideied
unfortunate. The Buddha had boundless love and compassion
equally foi all beings. He offeied tle Dlamma to all foi tleii welfaie.
He is, therefore, the teacher of gods and men. As such, there is some
similaii[ between tle Bialmin Teaclei and tle Buddla. Tlat is wly
tle mouo states tlat tle Bialmin Teaclei means tle Buddla.
The pupil means the diligent meditator, that is one who is
¡iactising meditation foi tle aclievement of moiali[, concenuation,
and wisdom. Now I lave ex¡lained tle meaning of five iiddles.
The Hoe
In ie¡ly to tle question iaised by Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a
relating to the problem which runs: “What is meant by the hoe?” the
Buddha answered, “Saha’nti kho, bhikkhu, ariyāyetaṃ paññāya
adhivacanaṃ.” The meaning is that the hoe is the noble spiritual
knowledge, which is nothing but insight knowledge and path
knowledge. The hoe represents “knowledge” or “wisdom.” If the
ant-hill is to be dug, it cannot be done with one’s bare hands. It must
be dug by using a loe oi a ¡ointed iion bai. A loe is tle most effective.
In the Commentary, it has been described as a hoe (kuddāla).
Just as it requires a hoe to dig an ant-hill, the tool of knowledge
is essential to distinguish what is in this material body called the
ant-hill. In the Commentary, this kind of knowledge is described as
worldly (lokiya) and uanscendent (lokuara). However, if the means
employed falls within the realm of worldly knowledge, the tool of
insight will have to be used for distinguishing it. Therefore, it should
be noted that the ant-hill should be dug with the hoe of insight
knowledge or wisdom.
Ordinary people usually think that this body is one solid mass.
The body resembles the ant-hill that existed before it was excavated.
Whenever a meditator contemplates and notes the bodily movements
every time they occur or respond to the sense of touch, they are noted
46 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
continuously as walking, standing, siuing, toucling, lying down,
suetcling, bending, etc. Foui diffeient elements will be found:
iigidi[ oi iouglness, lot oi cold, stiffness oi movement, and
colesion oi liquidi[. Tlis is similai to se¡aiating eaitl into ¡iles
eveiy time it is dug and iemoved nom tle ant-lill witl tle loe.
This body will be known as distinct elements each time it is noted.
It is known by insiglt. Concenuate and note as “walking, walking,”
wlenevei you walk, oi as “lihing,” “moving,” and “¡uuing down.”
If you note ¡eisistently, as concenuation gets dee¡ei, tle ¡lysical
phenomena will be known distinctly. The nature of the air element,
manifested as stiffness and movement wlile walking, will be cleaily
noticed as separate phenomena. There is no longer a solid mass.
Wlen stiffness is felt, only tle natuie of stiffness is known, and wlat
is found is only the nature of the air element. Moreover, every time
noting is done, the phenomenal nature of bodily behaviour will be
noticed as distinct parts. That is why the knowledge gained through
contemplation and noting is said to be like the sharp edge of a hoe.
Eveiy time tle ant-lill is suuck witl tle loe, just as tle solid eaitl
is broken into pieces, so too, every time contemplation and noting
is done, the material body will be noticed as broken into pieces.
Let us ieflect witl oui imagination. Tlink about laii. Haiis aie
tle eaitl element, wlicl manifests as iouglness and solidi[. Tlese
are obviously not an individual nor a living being. Therefore, hairs
on tle lead will lave been noticed tliougl contem¡lation as s¡liuing
into distinct minute particles. Next, think about the hairs on the body,
they are the earth element and are also not an individual or a living
being. These too will be found to be decomposed. Again, if the toe
and fingei nails aie ieflected on witl insiglt, tley too aie tle element
of earth and not a living being.
Let us now ieflect on tle teetl. Tley manifest tle natuie of laidness
— an auibute of tle eaitl element. Tley do not constitute a being, eitlei
male oi female. Considei tle skin, flesl, veins, bones, maiiow, blood,
intestine, liver, lungs, etc., and ieflect on tlem. All aie elements by natuie,
and are not a living being. This is like an ant-hill that was gradually
broken into pieces. The material body can likewise be decomposed into
minute pieces with all its components. That is why insight knowledge,
which brings awareness by the process of contemplating and noting,
is likened to tle slai¡ edge of a loe. Tle mouo being:
The Hoe 47
“What is meant by a hoe?
It is the knowledge that contemplates with awareness.”
In response to the question put as “Venerable sir, what is meant
by ‘digging repeatedly’?”the Blessed One gave the answer:
“Abhikkhaṇa’nti kho, bhikkhu,
vīriyārambhassetaṃ adhivacanaṃ”
This means: “Bhikkhu! The expression ‘digging repeatedly’
denotes tle ielentless effoit to be a¡¡lied witlout a bieak. ‘Digging
repeatedly’ conveys the same meaning as “continuous and unre-
miuing a¡¡lication of effoit to contem¡late and note ceaselessly.”
Wlen digging witl tle loe, tle loe must be leld fiimly. Likewise,
when contemplation is made, it should be carried out with the constant
application of utmost endeavour. Therefore, exertion is to be made
continuously witlout ielaxing one’s effoit eveiy time contem¡lation
and noting is made as “iising and falling,” “siuing,” “toucling,” “seeing,”
“leaiing,” “bending,” “suetcling,” etc. If tle effoit become slack,
indolence will ciee¡ in, causing tle ¡owei of concenuation and noting
to weaken. Tlis exeition called iiglt effoit is vital. If stated in teims of
tle foui iiglt effoits (sammāppadhānaṃ), tleie aie tle effoit to ¡ievent
tle aiising of unaiisen unwlolesome states, tle effoit to ex¡el existing
unwlolesome states, tle effoit to aiouse wlolesome states not yet in
existence, and tle effoit to maintain wlolesome states tlat alieady exist.
Hence, with right exertion unwholesome states that have
occurred previously can be rejected and no new unwholesome states
will lave tle o¡¡oituni[ to occui. Tlen tle wlolesome kamma of
insight, which have not yet existed will be gained at every moment
of contemplating and noting. It means that exertion is being made
to achieve the wholesome states of insight and the path. Every time
one notes, not only will merits that already existed remain, but the
wholesome state of insight will occur repeatedly. This exertion called
iiglt effoit is, tleiefoie, veiy similai to “digging witl tle loe
ie¡eatedly.” Tle mouo is: “Wlat is meant by ‘digging’' It is tle
unfailing effoit tlat is constantly a¡¡lied.”
The Bolt
Next, we have come to the bolt. When distinguished with the
help of the sharp edge of the hoe, a bolt appears, i.e., a wooden bar
48 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
for fastening a door. The question then asked was: “What is the bolt?”
The Buddha’s answer was:
“‘Laṅgī’ti kho, bhikkhu, avijjāyetaṃ adhivacanaṃ.”
The above answer may be explained as: “Bhikkhu! The door bolt
is ignorance (avijjā) which does not understand the method of
meditation. Ignoiance is of diffeient kinds accoiding to ciicumstances,
e.g. the ignorance that should be rejected by insight and by applying
the knowledge of the Noble Path. This is ignorance of the Four Noble
Truths. The ignorance that is relevant to the present case does not
come up to that level. It is the ignorance that should be rejected by
learning (sutamayapaññā) and reasoning (cintāmayapaññā). It is
merely ignorance of the correct method of meditation. If the method
is not iigltly undeistood, meditation cannot be ¡iactised effectively.
Just like a person who does not know how to cook rice, or, how to
¡lougl a ¡lot of land witlout tle necessaiy guidance of an insuuctoi.
I would like to am¡li( it since tle metlod is iatlei im¡oitant.
The Significance of the Method
Tle Bodlisaua, Piince Siddlaula, abandoned woildly ¡leasuies
and ieueated into tle foiest to seaicl foi tle uutl, wlicl is tle way
to extinguisl ciaving, tle cause of suffeiing in tlis life and iebiitl
in tle cycle of existences. He was tlen only twen[-nine yeais of age.
He was maiiied at sixteen to Yasodlaiā Devī and, foi a ¡eiiod of
tliiteen yeais, lad lived in luxuiy amidst gaie[, ¡om¡, and
splendour as a Royal Prince. While thus indulging in sensual
pleasures, he saw four signs in the course of his chariot rides: an old
man, a sick man, a dead man, and a recluse with a shaven head and
a taueied yellow iobe. On lis ietuin to tle ¡alace, ¡ondeiing dee¡ly,
le felt ie¡elled by sensual ¡leasuies, wisling to esca¡e nom tle
woes and worries of this world. With this noble thought, which
crystallized into a resolve to save not only himself, but all mankind,
le leh tle giand ¡alace in tle silence of tle niglt and went foitl into
a lomeless life in seaicl of tle Dlamma. Wlen le leh, le lad no
ex¡eiience oi knowledge of tle way to nee limself nom tle bondage
of human passions leading to rebirth, old age, sickness, and death.
Ahei ieacling tle foiest, le ado¡ted tle life s[le of an ascetic,
and in the course of his search for the Dhamma, heard about a noted
The Significance of the Method 49
sage by the name of Āḷāia Kālāma. Tle gieat ascetic Āḷāia was tlen
teaching his three-hundred disciples the method of meditation at a
leimitage in tle neiglbouilood of Vesālī, a town in tle state of Vajjī.
Tlis sage fully ¡ossessed seven out of eiglt stages of auainments in
concenuation (samāpai), exce¡t foi tle auainment of neitlei
perception nor non-perception (nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatana). Wishing
to study undei tle sage Āḷāia witl wlom le met, le said, “Fiiend
Āḷāia, I wisl I could stay witl you and leain tle metlod of
meditation.” Āḷāia ie¡lied, “My niend Gotama, oui metlod of
meditation is superb. If a person of great intelligence like you
practises meditation, you will surely gain all the knowledge known
to the teacher. This method of meditation is indeed impressive.”
It is essential that a pupil should learn the method known and
masteied by tle teaclei, otleiwise tle ¡u¡il miglt go off at a tangent
and it cannot be relied upon as authentic. If the pupil is not aware
of tle ieal quali[ of lis teaclei’s knowledge, tle ¡u¡il miglt wiongly
think that the teacher is endowed with powers that are mistakenly
believed to be miraculous. Believing that the teacher is equipped
with supernatural powers, the pupil would revere and rely upon the
teaclei foi tle deiivation of benefits nom tlose ¡oweis, wlicl tle
teaclei does not actually ¡ossess. Some of tlem even uied to ¡iocuie
a philosopher’s stone, etc. This is ridiculous. There are a number of
such instances at the present day.
Similai instances can be found in tle field of ieligious affaiis.
Outside of the Buddha’s dispensation there are quite a number of
such beliefs. Of course, blind faith entertained by superstitious
followeis was landed down to tlem nom tleii ¡iedecessois. Tlis
is very unfortunate.
The Buddha’s teaching is perfectly logical. It can be achieved if
it is personally pursued and practised earnestly. It is not something
that can only be known and achieved by the Buddha. Nor is the
knowledge exclusively within the reach of noble Arahants like
Veneiable Sāii¡uua and Moggallāna. It is witlin tle ieacl of all if
they practise correctly. It is something like tasting salt. Anyone who
uies it will undoubtedly come to know its taste. Likewise, tle
statement made by tle sage Āḷāia to let tle Bodlisaua know wlat
le lad iealised is commendable. Tlat is wly tle Bodlisaua acce¡ted
the method with pleasure and practised assiduously.
50 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Not long aheiwaids, le auained all seven auainments tlat
lad been iealised by tle sage Āḷāia. Ahei lis auainment, tle
Bodlisaua told Āḷāia wlat le lad aclieved and low le lad
reached the state of nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana). Revealing his
aclievement, le asked Āḷāia wletlei tle natuie of lis auainment
was tle same kind of Dlamma tlat tle foimei lad iealised. Āḷāia
answered that it was so and expressed his surprise that he had
achieved it in such a short time and that his talent was indeed
marvellous. He then invited Gotama saying that he would put
him on equal status with himself and delegate to him the task of
guiding half of his followers as a teacher, while he himself would
take ies¡onsibili[ foi tle otlei lalf of one lundied and fiµ
disci¡les. Gotama stayed foi some time at Āḷāia`s leimitage,
maybe for a few days, but found no answer to his heart’s imperious
demand. He ieflected tlat tle Dlamma tlat le lad acquiied was
not tle docuine tlat would libeiate lim nom tle miseiies of old
age, disease, and deatl. Ahei deatl, it would only cause one to
reach the realm of nothingness. That is the Arūpabrahmaloka, the
world of formless brahmās.
It is something that cannot be investigated and known by modern
scientific metlods. Tleiefoie, if it is consideied tlat tlis conce¡t is
not in agreement with science, the best thing would be to disregard
it as unbelievable. Knowledge of modern science can only be applied
to tle mateiial iealm, and not to tle state of immateiiali[.
An abode where only mind exists or where only consciousness
dwells witlout tle mateiial foim is suange. Tle life s¡an in tle iealm
of notlingness iuns u¡ to six[-tlousand woild cycles (kappas).
Just one world cycle is an immense period. Even in this world
cycle, foui Buddlas lave a¡¡eaied, and tle fihl Buddla, Meueyya
has yet to appear. When his life period has ended, a brahmā will revert
to either the human world or to a deva realm. The cycle of existence
will, tleiefoie, go on ceaselessly. If le is foitunate to beniend men
of virtue, he may continue to be reborn in the world of humans or
devas by virtue of the performance of good deeds. On the other hand,
if he happens to fall into bad company, he will have no chance of
gaining meiits and guidance to tle iiglt ¡atl. Tle effect will be tlat
le will sink to one of tle foui lowei iealms ahei deatl foi laving
believed in leietical views and commiued demeiitoiious acts.
The Significance of the Method 51
Reflecting on tle consequences tlat le could deiive nom Āḷāia`s
Dlamma, tle Bodlisaua leh and went in seaicl of a new Dlamma.
He latei leaid about a sage by tle name of Rāma wlo was famous
foi lis accom¡lislment of all eiglt auainments. He lived in a foiest
auended by a giou¡ of seven-lundied ¡u¡ils in tle disuict of
Rājagala witlin tle ¡iovince of Māgadla. Tle Bodlisaua tleiefoie
made his way to Uddaka, tle son and ¡u¡il of Rāma and said “Fiiend
Uddaka, I would like to study and practise your method of medita-
tion.” Tleieu¡on, ahei ex¡laining to lim tle noble qualities of tle
Dhamma, Uddaka taught him the method.
On iesoiting to tle metlod given, le soon auained tle state of
neither perception nor non-perception (nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatana).
Having a¡¡ieciated tle Bodlisaua’s auainments, Uddaka, being
meiely a ¡u¡il of Rāma, set Bodlisaua u¡ as lis own teaclei, wlile
he himself assumed the second place as a pupil. At that time, it
a¡¡eais tlat tle famous teaclei Rāma was ¡iobably no longei alive.
Tle Bodlisaua, tle futuie Buddla, tlen ieflected, as in tle case of
lis fiist ex¡eiience witl Āḷāia, tlat tle acquisition of tle knowledge
of neither perception nor non-perception would only bring him the
same consequences as before causing him to land in the brahmā
heaven, i.e. tle state of immateiiali[, a foimless state wleie tle life
s¡an extends to eigl[-foui tlousand woild cycles. On ex¡iiy of tle
life span in that abode, rebirths would result, without being able to
esca¡e nom tle cycle of existence, and nom tle suffeiing of old age,
disease, and death. He, therefore, forsook this Dhamma and again
continued lis jouiney in seaicl of tle libeiating uutl.
A Fully Enligltened Sammāsambuddla, discoveis and fully
undeistands tle Foui Noble Tiutls by lis own effoit and wisdom
witlout anyone’s guidance. Tle Bodlisaua ¡assed tliougl tle counuy
of Māgadla to tle town of Uiuvela, and tleie seuled down in a giove
of uees taking lis seat undei a banyan (Bo) uee, and by ¡uuing lis
utmost endeavoui into tle ¡iactice of meditation, auained tle knowl-
edge of previous existences (pubbenivāsa-ñāṇa). Later, at midnight he
practised with his own insight wisdom and achieved the power of
supernormal vision (dibbacakkhu). In tle last watcl of tle niglt, ahei
ieflecting on tle Law of De¡endent Oiigination (paṭiccasamuppāda),
which sums up the principle causes of existence, he continued to
contem¡late on tle aiising and ceasing of tle five aggiegates of gias¡ing
52 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
(upādānakkhandhā), which led him progressively to the knowledge
pertaining to the four Noble Paths (ariyamagga ñāṇa), eventually reaching
the stage of full Enlightenment, and becoming the Omniscient Buddha.
Having become a fully Enlightened One, he spent seven days
eacl at seven diffeient ¡laces enjoying tle bliss of libeiation
(vimuisukha), with his mind completely emancipated, spending the
days in vaiious degiees of ecstatic meditation. On tle fihietl day,
le consideied to wlom le slould fiist teacl tle Dlamma and close
the persons who would understand it quickly.
It is appropriate to make the audience quickly understand in
deliveiing tle fiist seimon. Also in tle case of teacling lessons, it is
im¡oitant to get tle auendance of good students wlo lave a¡titude.
If tle fiist batcl of students aie well tauglt and able to quickly gias¡
the knowledge imparted, the teacher gets a good name. In monastic
schools too, if they have outstanding students who have found
success in tle examination, tle monasteiy conceined gains ¡o¡ulaii[
and eains a good ie¡utation. In tle same way, tle meditation cenues
need to obtain meditatois wlo lave good faitl, zeal, indusuy, and
intelligence. Then only, with the right method of teaching, the
meditation cenue will lave a good name. If sucl meditatois make
¡iogiessive suides in tle ¡iactice of meditation, it will give stimulus
to others to take up the practice of meditation.
So tle Buddla ieflected to wlom le slould teacl lis fiist
discouise. On ieflection lis fiist teaclei, Āḷāia, came to lis mind.
“This sage cleansed the impurities of his mind with his accomplish-
ment in concenuation. He was also lonest. If le weie to listen to my
teaching, he would quickly grasp the special Dhamma.” While thus
tlinking about lis fiist teaclei, a dei[ a¡¡eaied and addiessed lim,
“Veneiable sii, Āḷāia ¡assed away seven days ago.” Tliougl tle
exercise of his supernormal powers, the Buddha came to know that
Āḷāia lad indeed ex¡iied seven days ago, and lad ieacled tle iealm
of nothingness — a formless realm. In this abode, there is no material
body, only tle mind exists. Since it is devoid of any mateiiali[, tleie
aie no eyes and eais and tleiefoie, no abili[ to leai tle Dlamma
that the Buddha would teach. If he had been lucky enough to remain
alive in tle luman woild, le would lave auained tle s¡ecial
Dlamma. He lad missed a gieat o¡¡oituni[, and tleieby suffeied
a uemendous loss so mucl so tlat le would lave to iemain in tlat
The Significance of the Method 53
abode foi a life-s¡an of six[-tlousand woild cycles. Ahei lis demise
nom tleie, le would descend to tle luman woild. Tleie will tlen
be no Buddha, and he would have no chance of hearing the Dhamma.
He would, tleiefoie, be de¡iived of tle o¡¡oituni[ to aclieve tle
¡atl and its nuition. If, due to unavoidable circumstances, he
commiued evil deeds, le can still go down to tle lowei woilds. Āḷāia
tlus missed a golden o¡¡oituni[ to leai tle Buddla’s fiist discouise
by only seven days. It is indeed an irremediable loss. The Buddha
iealising tlis fact, ieflected tlat Āḷāia tle Kālāma lad suffeied a
uemendous loss. Judging by tlis incident, one slould leain nom it
and take up meditation practice before death comes, as it may come
at any moment. The key point, however, is, if one doesn’t know the
coiiect metlod, meditation cannot be ¡iactised effectively.
Tlis gieat leimit Āḷāia was not awaie of tle fact tlat le could
achieve insight by means of contemplation and noting the phenom-
enal natuie mind and mauei. Tlis metlod could only be known
when a Buddha appears. The Buddha then thought of teaching
Uddaka. Realising tlat tlis leimit too lad ¡assed away in tle fiist
watcl of tle ¡ievious niglt, tle Blessed One ieflected tlat Uddaka
tle son of Rāma lad also suffeied a gieat loss. In fact, Uddaka was
moie unfoitunate tlan Āḷāia laving veiy naiiowly missed an
exuemely iaie clance of leaiing tle Buddla’s teacling, wlicl would,
if le weie alive, suiely lave libeiated lim nom tle bondage of
defilements, and tle consequential cycles of existence.
It was, therefore, stated that ignorance, which blinded a person
nom iealising tle iiglt metlod of meditation, was similai to a bolt,
wlicl fiimly fastened a dooi. If a ¡eison is locked inside, le cannot
see the light of the day outside. In the same way, if the correct method
of practising insight is not understood, much as one may wish to
meditate, le cannot, and will miss tle o¡¡oituni[ to auain tle ¡atl,
its nuition, and nibbāna. Tlis ex¡lains tle meaning of tle bolt wlicl
symbolizes ignorance of the method of practising meditation.
The Buddha removed the bolt and opened the door for the sake
of lumani[ by means of tle metlod of insiglt meditation. Yet, as
there are still many people who have no faith in the Dhamma, or
have not yet understood it, I have to elucidate it. I have taught the
Dhamma to make them meditate and contemplate all mental and
physical phenomena each time they occur at the six sense doors.
54 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
If mind and mauei aie contem¡lated and noted, mindfulness,
concenuation, and insiglt will be develo¡ed. A consideiable numbei
of people have already practised, but there are still many more who
have not yet taken up meditation. Before the bolt is put back again
to lock the door, it is essential that one should keep the door open. I
lave ke¡t tle dooi o¡en by iemoving tle bolt and lave insuucted
the people as much as I could, urging them to contemplate and note
tle aiising ¡lenomena of mauei and mind, and in ¡aiticulai to note
as “walking,” “walking,” as they walk.�
A Pioneer of Insight Meditation
As fai as Buima is conceined, Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw of
Monywā was a ¡ioneei in teacling insiglt meditation. Tlen came
Monlyin Sayādaw. I follow in tle footste¡s of tlese eminent
Sayādaws like someone ¡icking u¡ tle iemnants of ¡addy tlat las
been dropped while harvesting and reaping, and as such, it is a very
easy task. The exposition of that Dhamma by the Venerable Ledi
Sayādaw can be found in tle Anaua Dī¡anī.
To make it more precise as contained in the original text, I will
iead out an exuact:
“In a walking posture, every time a step is taken, the mind should
be focused fiimly on tle foot and walk, noting as “I walk,” “I walk.”
Not a single step should be made without being mindful. This is how
Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw ex¡ounded.
Tle woik known as tle Anaua Dī¡anī was wiiuen in tle yeai
1900 (Buimese Eia 1262). It was wiiuen befoie I was even boin.
We follow tlat Sayādaw’s metlod of ex¡osition. It was ¡ossible,
not because of my own abili[, but because I leaint tlis metlod nom
Mūla Mingun Jetavun Sayādaw. I have taught it as “Gacchantovā
gacchamīti pajanati,” accoiding to tle Pāḷi text, and tlis is tle
insuuction given at tle outset to contem¡late and note eveiy time a
step is made in the act of walking.
Accoiding to tle iules of Pāḷi Giammai, tleie aie tliee cases: if
“gacchāmi” is used, though the particle “ahaṃ” is omiued, tle woid “I”
should be inferred. If “gacchāsi,” is used, though the word “tvaṃ”
“you” is omiued, it slould be uanslated as “you walk.” If lowevei,
� Sometling is lost in uanslation, since in Englisl tle veib does not decline as it
does in Pāḷi and Buimese. In Buimese, tle Sayādaw would not lave used a ¡ionoun
— the Burmese verb “thwame” means “I walk” (ed.)
The Admonition of the Buddha 55
it is wiiuen as “gacchati” using the third person (namayoga), another
subject will lave to be infeiied and it slould be uanslated as, “le
walks,” “the mind goes,” “the body moves,” etc., as may be required,
without the word “I” or “you.”
Hence, if the word “gacchāmi” is used conjunctively in tle fiist
person (amhayoga), it is to be uanslated as “I walk” (ahaṃ gīcchāmi),
and in confoimi[ witl tlis Pāḷi giammatical iule, Veneiable Ledi
Sayādaw stated as “I walk,” “I walk,” witl a iejoindei tlat “tle mind
slould be fixed fiimly on tle foot wlile walking.
Em¡lasis was laid on “slould be fixed fiimly on tle foot,”
because the movement of the foot is the most obvious manifestation.
Movements of other parts of the body can be contemplated, if it is
desiiable. Next, tle insuuction “not a single ste¡ slould be made
without being mindful,” is ieally ¡iecise and suictly woided. Tle
Sayādaw las iemoved tle dooi bolt and ke¡t tle dooi o¡en. Des¡ite
the fact that the door has been unbolted and this clear exposition
given, a Dlamma aiticle, ¡ublisled about foui yeais ago in Syiiaṃ
(a town on the other side of the Rangoon river), which is notorious
foi its vilification, closed and bolted tle dooi tlat was o¡ened by
tle Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw. It was ciitical of tle insuuctions given
as “I walk,” “I walk,” saying that it was wrong and should not be
contemplated as such because “the concept of “I” had been included.
Howevei, I su¡¡oit tle Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw and kee¡ tle
door open. I have explained about it in my Discourse on the
Aiiyāvāsa Suua, simply because if I had remained complacent, I
would be guil[ nom tle ¡oint of view of tle Buddla’s docuine, oi
I would be reprimanded by the Buddha if he were still alive.
The Admonition of the Buddha
During the lifetime of the Buddha with reference to the
auainment of tle cessation of ¡eice¡tion and feeling
(nirodhasamāpai). Veneiable Sāii¡uua tauglt tlat a monk wlo is
accom¡lisled witl tle auibutes of moiali[, concenuation, and
wisdom, might become a brahmā called “manomayakāya” which is
caused by tle mind, if duiing lis lifetime le did not auain
Arahantship. Veneiable Lāḷudāyī, an ordinary monk, raised objection
to tlis teacling. He was a fault-finding ciitic wlo was neitlei
learned in the scriptures (pariyai), nor had any experience in
56 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
meditation (paṭipai). Veneiable Sāii¡uua ie¡eated lis ¡oint saying
that it was possible. The monk, however, repeated his argument
and objected. Veneiable Sāii¡uua again elucidated it foi a tliid time
only to meet witl anotlei iebuff. Duiing tlis conuoveisy, no one
s¡oke u¡ in su¡¡oit of Veneiable Sāii¡uua.
Undei sucl ciicumstances, Veneiable Sāii¡uua ie¡oited tle
incidence to the Buddha. Even in the presence of the Buddha, the
Veneiable Lāḷudāyī iemained adamant, iaising an objection to tle
statement made by Veneiable Sāii¡uua tliee times in succession.
Veneiable Sāii¡uua tlen iemained silent. Tleieu¡on, tle Blessed
One expressed his disapproval saying: “Ahi nāma, Ānanda, theraṃ
bhikkhuṃ vihesiyamānaṃ ajjhupekkhissatha — Ānanda, low can you
remain silent when elders are being harassed?”� The Buddha
ie¡iimanded Veneiable Ānanda foi not inteivening wlen an eminent
eldei was being biazenly misueated. Tlis ie¡ioof was, in fact, aimed
at all the monks though it was primarily addressed to Venerable
Ānanda. In otlei woids, tle Buddla ie¡iimanded tlem foi not
lending su¡¡oit to a uue statement uueied by an eminent eldei like
Veneiable Sāii¡uua, wlo was in tle iiglt, wlen a fool like Lāḷudāyī
was objecting. This was indeed a severe admonition.
Veneiable Ānanda was so slaken tlat le ielated tlese events to
the Veneiable U¡avāṇa — an Arahant with sixfold psychic powers
— and requested him to intervene in future if there was anything to
be said in tle ¡iesence of tle Buddla. It is tle ies¡onsibili[ of all
wise men to endoise wlat is uue. Realising tlis buiden of ies¡onsi-
bili[, I lad to ex¡lain, in my discouise on tle Aiiyāvāsa Suua,
iegaiding tle ciiticism made of Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw.
In tle discouise deliveied by Veneiable Sāii¡uua, tle meaning
of the expression mind-made (manomaya) is “rūpabrahmaloka,” that
is, the world of corporeal brahmās caused by jhāna. Lāḷudāyī tlouglt
that the world of formless brahmās (arūpaloka) was mind-made. He
lad vexed Veneiable Sāii¡uua witlout laving any knowledge of
the Dhamma, but was unable to substantiate his statement.
In this context, the term “mind-made” refers to the abode of
Suddhavāsarūpabrahmā, s¡iinging nom tle jhānic mind. Non-return-
ers and Arahants can abide in the cessation of perception and feeling
(nirodhasamāpai). Lāḷudāyī, lowevei, wiongly imagined tlat since
� Niiodla Suua, A.iii.193, Book of Fives.
Keeping the Door Unbolted 57
it was mind-made it was a formless state, i.e. arūpabrahmā abode,
wleie tle inlabitants lave no bodily foim, but aie meie effulgences
endowed with intelligence. Nirodhasamāpai does not usually happen
in the abode of arūpabrahmā. For that reason he had objected to it
and expressed his opinion that it was absurd.
If Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw weie still alive, le would subdue tle
arising heretical view and open the door by removing the bolt. I
s¡oke about it in su¡¡oit of tle Sayādaw in my discouise on tle
Aiiyāvāsa Suua because it conceins us des¡ite tle fact tlat tle
Sayādaw is now dead and gone. I also elucidated in tlat discouise
wlat tle Sayādaw lad stated giving a diiect uanslation in Buimese
as “I walk” foi tle Pāḷi woid “gacchāmi” nom tle Pāḷi text:
“gacchantovā gacchāmi’ti pajānāti.” If this is criticised as being wrong,
it would amount to iejecting tle teaclings in tle Pāḷi text.
Keeping the Door Unbolted
I have, therefore, been teaching everyone to contemplate and
note as “walking” while walking, etc. According to the fundamentals
of mindfulness of the body, all bodily movements should be similarly
contemplated. The same method of contemplation should be adhered
to in respect of feelings, consciousness, and mental states. This was
ex¡lained accoiding to tle Pāḷi text of tle Sati¡aṭṭlāna Suua. Tlis
is low tle dooi is unbolted to esca¡e nom tle cycle of existence. You
may oi may not wisl to esca¡e nom tle feueis of existence, but if
you wisl to find a way out of tlis mesl, you may not be able to find
an exit if some miscreants bolted the door. You need to take special
care in this regard.
During the lifetime of the Buddha, such an incident had hap-
pened in spite of the fact that the Buddha had kept the door-bolt open.
Tle act of closing tle dooi was commiued by tle gieat Māia, tle evil
one. At the time while female Arahants were temporarily residing
at tle Blind Men’s Giove, Māia a¡¡eaied and said, “Hey! Wlat aie
you all doing' Tleie is no sucl tling as nibbāna wleieby you can
esca¡e nom tle dee¡ ocean oi wliil¡ool of continued existences
(saṃsāra). It is no use meditating, etc.” Tlis is a wicked auem¡t to
put back the bolt for locking the door.
Māia a¡¡eaied befoie a bhikkhuṇī by tle name of Somā and
goaded her, saying:
58 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
“Yaṃ taṃ isīhi paabbaṃ, ṭhānaṃ durabhisambhavaṃ.
Na taṃ dvaṅgulapaññāya, sakkā pappotumihiyā.”
“Tlat wlicl is so laid to ieacl can be auained by sages,
Women, witl tleii two-fingeied wisdom, cannot.”�
It means tlat nibbāna is sometling tlat can be aclieved only by
eminent elders and not by women with their meagre knowledge and
weak wisdom. In short, it is to say, “How could you women, with
meagie knowledge and weak wisdom, gain nibbāna' You could not.”
This amounts to closing and locking the door with the bolt. Fortu-
nately, Māia could not fasten tle bolt because Blikkluṇī Somā was
an Aialant. So kee¡ aleit, oi you may get into uouble.
Let’s iecite tle mouo. “Wlat is tle bolt' It means ignoiance of
the method of contemplation and noting.”
The Commentary says: “By learning the method of meditation
and asking questions on ambiguous points, Ignorance is dispelled.”
This amounts to the rejection of the nescience that makes a person
ignorant of the method of meditation. We are teaching the method
of removing ignorance or the door-bolt.
The Toad
The next question is: “What is meant by the toad that swells when
it is touched?” The Buddha’s answer to this question is as follows:
“Uddhumāyikā’ti kho, bhikkhu, kodhūpāyāsassetaṃ adhivacanaṃ”
Tle above Pāḷi ¡liase conveys tle meaning: “Blikklu! Tle toad
that swells up when touched indicates anger or ill-will. With
continued digging of tle ant-lill ahei iemoving tle bolt, tle toad was
found.” Angei is like tlat toad. Eveiy time laued oi aveision aiises,
anger increases. Ugly sights or harsh sounds may cause anger to arise.
Resentment may occui nom any un¡leasant toucl oi disagieeable
tlouglt tlat occuis. Sucl feelings occui nequently witl tle sensations
of toucl and of leaiing. Reflect low one can suddenly become angiy
tle moment tlat iiiitating oi insulting woids aie leaid. At fiist, only
� S.i.129, Tlig v 60. Accoiding to tle Commentaiy on tle Somātleiīgātlā, “Two-
fingeied wisdom” iefeis to a woman’s knowledge about cooking iice. Māia’s
comment is clearly intended to be dismissive and derogatory. The appearance of
Māia slould be iegaided as a yakkha, not tle aiising of doubts oi otlei defilements.
Since tle Blikkluṇī was alieady an Aialant, low could any doubts occui' (ed.)
The Trivial Dhamma Talk 59
an ugly facial expression may be apparent, but later arising anger
may pervade the entire body when insults are repeated, causing one
to lose conuol of one’s tongue, and tlis is eventually followed by
¡lysical action. Tlis may lead to commiuing assault oi causing bodily
injury to others. For this reason, an appropriate comparison has been
made between the toad that swells up on being touched and anger,
which tends to become more passionate. It is an apt comparison.
The Trivial Dhamma Talk
At one time, U Pan Maung, a ¡o¡ulai figuie in claige of tle
Thudhammawadi Printing press, narrated a short story. When it was
announced that a “Trivial Dhamma Talk” would be broadcast on the
iadio, I listened to it out of cuiiosi[. Tle gist of lis talk was tlat big
uouble miglt biew even nom a uifling cause and it was tleiefoie
advisable not to disregard anything on the grounds that it was a
uivial mauei. Tle title of tle stoiy is quite fascinating and modein.
The story runs as follows:
At one time, there were two monks who lived together as close
companions. While one of them was bathing, the other hid his
sli¡¡eis foi a ¡iank. Ahei batling, tle monk found lis sli¡¡eis weie
missing. Not finding tlem, le knew tlat tle otlei was ¡laying a
prank and had hidden them. He jested, “I wonder which dog carried
away my sli¡¡eis.” Tlis joculai iemaik, tlougl uivial, dee¡ly
wounded the feelings of the other monk. The remark was not made
with any intention to hurt the other monk’s feelings. It is quite a
common joke among lay people. However, the monk was so angry
tlat le lit lis niend on tle lead witl a biick killing lim instantly.
Altlougl tle iemaik was uivial, tle monk wlo lad made tle joke
lad to ¡ay foi it witl lis life. Tle monk wlo lad suuck lis niend’s
lead witl tle biick was accused of muidei. Tlis is a suiking exam¡le
of low one could get into uouble foi uifling talk. U Pan Maung
advised his audience to be heedful when talking to one another. This
story should serve as a salutary lesson.
What do you think? Isn’t it like the toad that swells up? The simple
remark,“I wonder which dog carried away my slippers,” is nothing
that could cause physical harm to the other. It is not a bit harmful,
not even as bad as throwing a tiny piece of gravel. However, it
seiiously affected tle feelings of tle otlei, aiousing in lim a violent
60 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
temper to the extent of making him retaliate with a fatal blow. This
is like a toad geuing ¡uffed u¡ witl just one toucl, wleieas tle toad
normally gets swollen gradually each time it is touched.
The Story of Vedehikā
There was a case where the Buddha gave an exhortation citing a
story with reference to a monk named Moḷiya Plagguna Tleia. This
story is also noteworthy.
A long time ago, there lived a rich house-wife in the state of
Sāvauli by tle name of Vedelikā. Hei demeanoui, ¡oise, and sweet
way of speaking were faultless, so she was praised by the people
living in lei disuict. Tlougl some of you miglt lave leaid tlis
stoiy befoie, otleis miglt not lave. Tle stoiy is of gieat benefit, so
I will relate it anyway.
Vedelikā was extolled foi lei iefinement by lei niends and
neiglbouis in tlis way. “Vedelikā is good-tem¡eied and toleiant.
She is amiable and kind-hearted. She never gets angry and has
com¡assion foi all. Sle is ieally noble.” A maid-seivant named Kāḷī
lived with her. “Kāḷī” means black in Pāḷi, so sle may be called “Miss
Black.” Tlis maid seivant ieflected: “Oui misuess is ¡iaised so mucl
by almost eveiyone in tle neiglbouilood — I wondei if oui misuess
really has no anger or resentment. Perhaps she has had no reason to
get angry since she has been preoccupied with her domestic chores.”
Ahei ieflecting tlus, sle staited testing lei misuess. U¡ till tlen,
Kāḷī lad fulfilled lei duties sucl as swee¡ing, cooking, and fetcling
watei nom tle well eveiy day since tle eaily louis of tle moining.
On tlat ¡aiticulai day, sle did not get u¡ nom lei bed at tle bieak
of dawn and went on sleeping.
Vedelikā got u¡ nom lei slee¡ as usual and obseived tle
condition of her home. She noticed that there was no sign of her maid
having done the daily chores. Finding that nothing had been done
as it slould lave been, sle wondeied if Kāḷī was sick. No feeling of
anger had arisen in her yet. The toad had not yet been touched. She
even sympathised with her, and then, thinking her maid had fallen
sick, she decided to go and see if the maid needed some kind of help.
If the maid was really sick, she might have to give her medicine, or
summon a doctor. With the best of intentions, she went to her
bedioom and called out sohly “Hey, Kāḷī.”
The Story of Vedehikā 61
Kāḷī ie¡lied, “Wlat it is madam'” Sle tlen asked lei “Haven’t
you got u¡ nom slee¡ as yet' Aie you all iiglt'” Kāḷī ie¡lied, “I’m
quite well, madam, but I’m still in bed.” Tlis ie¡ly made Vedelikā
¡ieµ iiiitated, lei face slowing lei dis¡leasuie. Sle tlouglt, “Tlis
giil failed to get u¡ nom bed as usual and ¡eifoim lei duties tlougl
sle said tlat notling is wiong witl lei. Sle las become lazy.” Kāḷī,
was a sliewd judge of claiactei. Sle was obseiving low lei misuess
ieacted, and noticed lei dis¡leasuie. Sle, consideied, “Oui misuess
is liable to get angry, but to be sure, I will investigate further.” She
then purposely remained in bed on the next day too.
Vedelikā got u¡ ¡iom¡tly at tle usual time. Tle toad, laving
been toucled tle ¡ievious day, was a bit ¡uffed u¡. Wlen, on tlat
day, finding lei maid still lolling in bed wlen it was time to get u¡,
tle toad became swollen. Sle, asked Kāḷī in a commanding tone,
“Hey, Kāḷī! Haven’t you got u¡ nom bed as yet'” Tleii dialogue tlen
ensued as below:
“Madam, I haven’t yet got out of bed.”
“What is wrong?”
Nothing is wrong, madam.”
“Kāḷī! You will know wlo I am.”
She was not only stern in her looks then, but angry words were
s¡uiting out of lei moutl. Kāḷī ieflected, “Oui misuess is ca¡able
of being really angry, but to be sure, I will test her further.” With this
thought in her mind for the third time, she remained in bed even
longer on the following morning. The toad having been touched
twice, became badly swollen when touched for the third time.
Vedelikā iose nom lei bed eaily and tlen asked indignantly,
“Hey, Kāḷī, aie you still aslee¡' Haven’t you got u¡ yet'”
“Not yet, madam.”
“Wlat’s tle mauei witl you, tlen'”
“Nothing is wrong with me, madam.”
“If notling is wiong witl you, tlen, you will know my uue coloui.”
So saying, sle took tle dooi bolt and lit Kāḷī on tle lead causing
blood to flow. Tle toad lad become fully bloated now.
Having sustained an injuiy on tle lead, witl blood flowing out
nom tle wound, sle went iound tle neiglbouiing louses and
com¡lained: “Just look at my injuiy and see low I was ill-ueated by
Vedelikā, tle so-called com¡assionate, ¡ious, and toleiant lady!
62 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
I’m the only person in the house doing the daily chores. See how
I lave been ciuelly ¡unisled by my misuess Vedelikā meiely foi
failing to get u¡ eaily in tle moining' I was suuck witl a dooi bolt
causing a serious injury to my head.” The neighbours rallied round
lei and iemaiked, “Ol, indeed! How ciuel Vedelikā is. Sle is veiy
rough, reckless, and heartless. She has no compassion for the poor
giil.” Blame was lea¡ed on Vedelikā mucl moie tlan ¡iaise was
showered on her before.
It is human nature to notice the faults of others more than their
virtues. People are liable to exaggerate when speaking of another’s
faults, but are generally sparing in praising their virtues. It is rare to
receive a high commendation and honour for outstanding achieve-
ments or virtues. Once honour is conferred on a person, it needs to
be ¡ieseived tliouglout one’s lifetime. It is ieally difficult, yet once
one’s ie¡utation is damaged by some misdeed, wletlei commiued
wilfully or carelessly, one’s good name is lost.
Tle stoiy cited above cleaily ieveals tle similaii[ between angei
and the toad which swells at every touch. I will relate another story
that is relevant to men rather than women to cover every aspect.
A Discussion on Patience
About three or four years ago, an incident that took place in
Tlanbyuzayat, a town witlin Moulmein Disuict, was ¡ublisled in
one of tle Daily News¡a¡eis. Foui oi five eldeis nom tlat town
weie clauing on a ieligious to¡ic. It is customaiy in Buima among
knowledgeable elderly people to meet whenever there is any social
or religious function such as a memorial service for the deceased.
They usually discuss religious topics while the reception is going on
witl liglt ieneslments sucl gieen tea and some delicacies like
pickled tea-leaf (laphet). Sometimes, heated discussions take place,
and tle ¡aitici¡ants disagiee on conuoveisial ¡oints. On tlis
occasion, the elders became indignant and assaulted one another
ending u¡ witl tlem being inteiviewed by ¡olice officeis. Tle news
editor who reported the story, remarked that the elders concerned
had been placed in police custody, but “a redeeming feature” was
that the topic of discussion happened to be on patience (khantī).
The editor hit the nail right on the head. Intolerance is the worst
thing when discussing the topic of patience, which needs to be
The Junction 63
exercised as advised by the Buddha. Indignation resembles the toad
tlat swells u¡. It gives a gieat deal of uouble and tleiefoie ieally
needs to be discarded.
Quaiiels usually occui between intimate niends, wlicl agiees
witl tle saying “familiaii[ bieeds contem¡t.” It is like tle tongue
and the teeth, which are in close contact with one another, and so
ohen clasl. If ¡atience and toleiance aie not exeicised in dealing
witl niends, ielatives, membeis of tle same louselold, oi neigl-
bouis, it can biing about gieat uouble and unla¡¡iness. Biotleis
and sisteis ohen fall out, but wlen need aiises, tley lave to de¡end
on one another, as it is said in the proverb “Blood is thicker than
water.” Quarrels happen because of this “toad” called anger. This
same toad harms nations. Do not accept this toad. It should be
iejected by wise ieflection, oi by contem¡lating and noting.
The Junction
On continuing to dig the ant-hill, a junction where two paths met
was found. The answer given to the question: “Dvidhāpatho’ti kho,
bhikkhu, vicikicchāyetaṃ adhivacanaṃ — What is meant by the
junction?” was, “Bhikkhu! The meaning of the junction is sceptical
doubt (vicikicchā).”
To illusuate, let’s imagine tlat a uadei was uavelling to make a
deal somewhere. He would, no doubt, be carrying some money. A
gang of bandits intent on robbing him had prior information about
tle ioute tle uadei was using and tle time of lis jouiney. Tle iobbeis
lay in wait, and chased him as he came along. Seeing the robbers in
pursuit, fear seized him and he began to run.
Wlile iunning away nom tle iobbeis, le came to a junction in
tle ioad. As le lad nevei uavelled tlis ioute befoie le lesitated
which branch of the road to take. As he was hesitating, the robbers
caught up with him, then captured and killed him, looting all of his
¡io¡ei[. He could lave esca¡ed if le lad not come acioss tle
junction, which caused him to hesitate.
Similarly, in the course of meditation practice, if the wavering
mind oi sce¡tical doubt aiises, mental defilements would oveitake
you. The method of continuous meditation has been prescribed. Be
vigilant and note every time that physical phenomena takes place.
When walking note as “walking.” When bending, note as “bending.”
64 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Wlen suetcling, note as “suetcling.” Wlen tle abdomen iises, note
as “rising,” and when it falls, note as “falling.”
Tle mind slould also be noted eveiy time it imagines oi ieflects,
as “imagining,” oi “ieflecting,” as tle case may be. Tlis is low to
contemplate and note while meditating. This method of meditation is
contemplation of consciousness (ciānupassanā), according to the
Sati¡aṭṭlāna Suua, wlicl say: “Sarāgaṃ vā ciaṃ ‘Sarāgaṃ cia’nti
pajānāti — when a lustful mind is present he knows ‘there is a lustful
mind’.” Eveiy time a feeling occuis, it must be noted too. Tle Suua says:
“Sukhaṃ vā vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti
— on feeling a pleasant feeling he knows, ‘I feel a pleasant feeling’,” and
it says, “Dukkhaṃ vā vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Dukkhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti
pajānāti — on feeling a painful feeling he knows, ‘I feel a painful feeling’.”
We lave given insuuctions to meditate eveiy time feelings occui, and
at every moment of seeing, hearing, and so forth. However, doubt may
arise in the mind of the meditator while meditating. This is, unavoidable,
but when doubt arises, it is essential to reject and dispel it.
Personal Experience of Sceptical Doubt
Piioi to taking u¡ tle meditation ¡iactice, wlen I fiist leaid
about tle metlod of Sati¡aṭṭlāna to contem¡late and note as
“walking” wlen I walk, as “standing” wlen I stand, “siuing” wlen
I sit, and so foitl, I lad some doubts about its ¡io¡iie[ oi coiiectness
since tleie was no mention of tle distinguisling mind and mauei
as ultimate realities (paramaha) in the process of noting, and as
stated also in the Commentary.
I ieflected tlat my teaclei — Mingun Jetavan Sayādaw — was
ex¡eit in tle Pāḷi texts, and tlat le lad also ¡eisonally ¡iactised
meditation. When I checked this method of contemplation with the
Pāḷi text, I found it to be coiiect. Tleiefoie, since it agiees witl tle
text, I consideied it to be tle iiglt metlod. Reflecting tlus, I took u¡
meditation ¡iactice undei tle guidance of tlat Sayādaw. In fact, I
did harbour certain doubts while meditating. Only later, I came to
know that because of my academic knowledge, I was wavering and
ieflecting in tle way stated. I mistook doubt foi knowledge. It can
be very misleading. This sceptical doubt had crept in, as stated in
the Commentary as “ubhayapakkha samtorana mukhena vicikicchā
vañceti,” i.e. “it is capable of deception by assuming a false character
Doubt Resembles a Con Artist 65
as if it weie knowledge, wlicl seemingly consideis im¡aitially nom
both points of view.”
Doubt Resembles a Con Artist
In this world, there are people who disguise themselves in
manifold ways to deceive others. A con artist will devise all kinds
of suategies to win tle confidence of lis victims.
At one time, a king summoned a person who was alleged to
be a con aitist, and asked lim, “Do you ¡ossess tle abili[ to
deceive otleis' He ie¡lied, “Yes, Youi Majes[.” Tlen, tle king
said, “If so, uy to deceive me.” Tle man ie¡lied, “Youi Majes[,
it is difficult foi me to deceive a gieat Soveieign of digni[ and
glory like yourself. I cannot deceive you while I am dressed with
ordinary clothes. I will only be able to do so if I could put on the
Royal Regalia.” The king ordered, “Provide him with a complete
outfit of ioyal iobes and emblems of ioyal[.” He was, tleiefoie,
given the full dress of a monarch. When he had obtained the Royal
Regalia, le said, “Youi Majes[, I cannot deceive you at once. I
will come and ¡lay uicks on you on sucl and sucl a day.”
Accordingly, they agreed a date. On the appointed day, the king
waited foi lim and ieflected “Tlis fellow will come today. I
wonder how he would deceive me!”
Hours passed and the day drew to a close, yet there was no sign
of the con artist. The king, sent out messengers who brought the man
before the king who then asked him, “You promised to come and
practise deception on me, but you didn’t turn up. Why did you fail
to do so?”
Tle man ie¡lied nonclalantly, “Youi Majes[, I’ve alieady
deceived you!”
“When and how was it done?” the king exclaimed.
“Youi Majes[, on tle veiy fiist day I ieceived tle full Royal
Regalia nom you,” said tle con aitist.
Tle king ieflected, “It is uue.”
In the same way, although doubt is said to have practised
deception, it is not discernible.
It is usually misconceived as a knowledge. Therefore, it is to be
feared that doubt might deceive us under the guise of knowledge.
As stated earlier, the bolt (ignorance) is also connected with doubt.
66 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
We have taught so that the door may be unbolted and doubt may
be dis¡elled. Otleiwise it could desuoy youi confidence. It is vital
than whenever doubt arises, it should be discarded by noting it with
proper contemplation. If you continue contemplating, you will realise
the Dhamma. As you proceed with noting all bodily behaviour, you
will fully undeistand tle ¡iocess. Notling will be omiued if
awareness is maintained when noting the phenomena that occur at
every moment of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, bending,
suetcling, moving, tlinking, and ¡lanning. You will know all
occuiiences of eacl ¡lenomenon nom tle beginning to tle end
completely, if you maintain constant vigilance.
Another example is a line of white ants. Have you ever seen one?
If you look at it su¡eificially, it seems like a continuous wlite line,
but on closer observation, you will see one following the other in a
¡iocession. Tley aie not joined togetlei. One ant is a¡ait nom tle
others while moving along. It is not a continuous row of ants linked
togetlei. Tle uutl of tle mauei can be known only by close
Likewise, when mental and physical phenomena are contem-
plated and noted at every moment of their arising, they will be found
to arise and disappear singly in distinct parts and not as a long chain
of mauei oi tlouglts. Tle ¡iocess of aiising and vanisling ¡lenom-
ena is exuemely fast and is cleaily indicative of im¡eimanence. Tle
nature of impermanence can be realised through one’s own insight.
Another example: Hang a bag of sand on a hook and make a hole
in tle bouom. Tle sand will flow out tliougl tle lole as if it weie
a long line. If you ¡usl tle bag foiwaid, tle sand flowing out will
appear as if it has moved forward. Pull it back, and it would seem
as if the line of sand has moved back. The same thing would happen
whenever you move the sand bag. In fact, it is not a moving line, but
tle giains of sand aie dio¡¡ing out one ahei anotlei in veiy close
succession. Similarly, if phenomena are contemplated and noted at
every moment of their occurrence, you will perceive the continuous
aiising and dissolution of tlings. Let us iecite tle mouo:
What is the junction? It is doubt that arises. The hoe is
knowledge. Digging is exeition oi tle foui iiglt effoits. Tle
bolt is ignorance of the correct method of meditation. The
The Essence of Meditation 67
toad represents anger, which should be contemplated and
dis¡elled. It slould be iejected ahei contem¡lating and noting.
The Essence of Meditation
I slould am¡li( tle metlod of meditation a bit moie. Accoiding
to tle Sati¡aṭṭlāna metlod, bodily actions oi movements slould be
contemplated every time they occur. They will then be distinguished
in se¡aiate ¡aits. It is like watcling a flasl of ligltning wlen it is
known duiing its initial, inteimediate, and final ¡lases. If eveiy
moment of tle body is contem¡lated, it can definitely be known
through personal experience and not by mere academic knowledge.
Meiely by uueiing tle woids “mauei is im¡eimanent (rūpaṃ
aniccaṃ),” though the terminology is correct, you will not realise
wlat im¡eimanence ieally is, witlout concenuated auention. Wlat
you will know is only conceptual knowledge. You would, in fact, be
imagining impermanence. This can mislead you to a wrong notion
tlat tle conce¡t oi name is tle ultimate ieali[. Howevei, if you
contem¡late and note as: “iising,” falling,” “siuing,” etc., you will
be fully awaie of its uue claiacteiistics. Tiue iealisation only comes
by contemplating and noting at every moment of the phenomenal
occuiiences of mind and mauei aiising at tle six sense-doois. Tlis
is most natural. The Buddha therefore taught it as “gacchanto vā
‘gacchāmī’ti pajānāti — when walking he knows ‘I am walking’.”
So, contemplate and note what is seen every time you see an
object. Similaily, eveiy time you leai, toucl, bend, suetcl, oi move
your limbs, note what is heard or touched, or what you do. “Rising”
and “falling” are included in the sense of touch. Therefore, note the
rising and falling movements of the abdomen. Thoughts that arise
should also be contemplated and noted at every moment. Note, too,
every sensation that occurs. In the beginning of the practice, it will
not be possible to follow up and contemplate every phenomenon
tlat occuis. Hence, you slould note beginning nom tle iising and
falling movements of tle abdomen. Howevei, on gaining sufficient
suengtl in concenuation, you will find it easy to follow and will
even be able to carry on with contemplation of each act of opening
and closing of tle eyelids wlile blinking. Tle mouo given is:
“Contemplate and note at every moment of the arising
phenomena and be mindful with constant vigilance.”
68 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
You should, therefore, contemplate and note whenever any
sensation oi feeling occuis. Tle wlole body nom lead to toe
comprises material phenomena that must be contemplated. Any
¡lace in tle body, if cons¡icuous, can be noted. Tle Malāṭīkā� has
said, “yathāpakadhaṃ vipassanābhiniveso,” which goes in support of
tlis metlod of insuuction. Tlose wlo lave adequate ¡eifections
(pāramī) may become a Sueam-winnei just by listening to a seimon.
Otleis, lowevei, become a Sueam-winnei only ahei ¡iactising
meditation with due diligence.
At tle time wlen tle Buddla deliveied lis fiist seimon of
“Seuing in Motion tle Wleel of tle Dlamma,” only one of tle five
ascetics, namely, Veneiable Koṇḍañña became a Sueam-winnei. Tle
iest foui, only ahei ¡iactising meditation, ieacled tle stage of
Sueam-winning, and ¡eiceived tle Tiutl of tle Dlamma. It took
Veneiable Va¡¡a, Veneiable Bladdiya, Veneiable Malānama, and
Veneiable Assaji one to foui days, ies¡ectively, to become Sueam-
winners. It is therefore evident that it is essential to practise
meditation to aclieve tle stage of a Sueam-winnei. Tlese ascetics
were eminent intellectuals and yet as they were asked by the Buddha
to meditate, it is obvious that the practice must invariably be exercised.
If tley could ieacl tle stage of Sueam-winning by listening to lis
sermon only, he would have delivered his sermons repeatedly instead
of asking them to practice meditation.
Part III
Further Explanation about Doubt
Some people say, “Only seeing is believing,” i.e. they will believe
only if they have acquired personal experience. They cannot believe
in anything unless they have experimented as scientists do. In other
words, they do not believe things blindly. That’s not bad. Because
tle ¡eo¡le in ancient times acce¡ted docuines blindly, a vaiie[ of
religious beliefs have sprung up. There is no doubt that personal
knowledge acquired by practical experience is natural and realistic.
The Buddha’s Dhamma can be practically experienced. Practical
experience is reliable. However, it will not be feasible to accept only
� Altlougl I could not find tle exact iefeience, I assume tlat tlis iefeis to tle
Visuddlimagga Malāṭīkā, since tle Sayādaw studied tlis in de¡tl (ed.)
Further Explanation about Doubt 69
something that has been acquired by one’s own personal experience.
Tleie aie teaclings tlat lave been given ahei otleis lave iealised
tle uutl tliougl ¡iactical ex¡eiience of tle Dlamma. Wlat las
been taught by someone who has personally practised meditation
should be accepted, though one may not have any personal experi-
ence of one’s own.
Tle Buddla’s teacling las tle quali[ of being sometling tlat is
realisable by oneself (sandiṭṭhiko), and with immediate result (akāliko),
if ¡iactised witl diligence. Tle Buddla offeied lis guaiantee tlat
tle Dlamma will be ¡eisonally iealised if one uuly ¡iactises it witl
iiglt exeition. Tleie aie only two tlings: mind and mauei. Tleie is
no self and no such thing as an ego or a soul (aa).
Refusing to accept a teaching simply on the grounds that one has
yet been ¡eisonally iealised it, is not a good justification. Let me give
a simile. If one weie to ¡ioceed by uain nom Monywā, le will
definitely ieacl Mandalay. Tlis is obvious to tlose wlo lave taken
this journey before. Suppose a person who has never had any
ex¡eiience of a jouiney by uain, and las nevei been to Mandalay,
weie told by an ex¡eiienced uavellei, “You will ieacl Mandalay if
you iide on tlis uain,” and if le ie¡lied, “I cannot believe you since
I lave nevei uavelled by uain befoie, so I am unable to acce¡t youi
advice.” Will le be able to ieacl Mandalay witlout taking tle uain
journey? Certainly not! This is so because he does not believe in what
the other person has said. As an alternative, if he is advised to go by
bus, and if he still has doubts and says, “I don’t believe it either
because I lave nevei befoie uavelled by a bus.” If le iefuses to acce¡t
tle advice, will le get to Mandalay' Definitely not. Tlen again,
suppose he is told that he could go by steamer to Mandalay, and yet,
if le continues to ado¡t tle same negative auitude, le will not ieacl
Mandalay. Witl tlis auitude, it is even moie likely tlat le will not
uavel by aii nom Monywā to Mandalay. If le lad acce¡ted tle advice,
he could have reached Mandalay.
Analogous to tle case just illusuated, witl iefeience to insiglt
meditation, the Buddha taught; “Practise with diligence” as
insuucted in tle Sati¡aṭṭlāna Suua wleie it states: “Ekayāno ayaṃ
bhikkhave maggo,” i.e. this is the only way, the Noble Path by which
nibbāna can be auained. Tle insuuction tlus given ouglt to be
believed and accepted. The method of practising has also been
70 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
prescribed by the Buddha as “gacchantovā gacchamīti pajānāti. etc.”
It means wlile walking, note as “walking” witl awaieness. If siuing
¡ostuie is taken, note as “siuing.” Wlile standing, note as “standing.”
Wlile lying, note as “lying.” Wlen bending oi suetcling tle limbs,
note as “bending,” oi “suetcling,” as tle case may be. In tle act of
walking, tle claiacteiistics of stiffness and ¡io¡ulsion aie obvious.
Howevei, no insuuctions lave, weie given to note as: “stiff,”
“propelling,” “moving,” or “pushing forward.” It has been taught to
note as “walking” only.
Wlile contem¡lating as, “walking,” stiffness of joints, motivation
and propulsion will be noticeable. If there are people who say that
unless they have had personal experience in meditation, they cannot
believe tle teacling, tley aie like tlose wlo iefuse to uavel by uain,
bus, steamer, or aeroplane, as described earlier. They will never reach
their destination or achieve their objective. It is unreasonable to reject
the advice without experimenting with it. Nor will it be proper to
totally deny acceptance of the advice.
To put it in another way, a sick man should not refuse to take the
medicine ¡iesciibed by a doctoi wlo las ex¡eiience in ueating tle
sick. If the sick man refuses to take the medicine, there is no chance
of recovery. The Buddha’s teaching is like medicine that can cure a
disease. That is why the Buddha exhorted “come and see for yourself”
by practising mindfulness meditation. If the practice is tested, one
will definitely see tle uutl ¡eisonally. You will find tle incessant
arising and dissolution of mental and physical phenomena if you
meditate, contemplate, and note diligently.
In tle fiist ¡ait of tle section on de¡oitment in tle Sati¡aṭṭlāna
Suua — “Yathā yathā vā panassa kāyo paṇihito hoti tathā tathā naṃ
pajānāti” — the meaning of this simple phrase as stated by the
Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw is exactly tle same as intei¡ieted and
acce¡ted by us. It is as contained in lis book, tle Anaua Dī¡anī.
When bodily actions such as movements of the limbs in any way, or
tle gait in tle act of walking and lihing tle feet tlat occui in tle foui
main elements of the body, it shall not be done, as it usually is,
witlout being mindful. It means tlat contem¡lation witl auentive-
ness should be made on the limbs or parts of the body concerned. In
tlis Pāḷi ¡liase, tle movements embiaced in tle foui main ¡ostuies
are emphasised. No emphasis is laid to contemplate on the whole
Must Contemplate in the Present 71
body as an aggregate of the four principal elements. In other words,
the body should be known by the characteristics of its bodily
belavioui. Ahei teacling tle way in wlicl tle foui main ¡ostuies
should be known as “walking,” while walking, “standing,” while
standing, “siuing,” wlile siuing, oi “lying,” wlile lying down, tle
Buddha taught in another way that the body exists by such charac-
teristics and that by these characteristics, the said ‘body’ is known.
This statement agrees with the second exposition in the Subcommen-
taiy, wlicl was ieiteiated to su¡¡lement tle fiist ex¡osition.
In the second method of contemplation as contained in the
Subcommentary, it has been taught laying emphasis on the body. No
¡iimaiy im¡oitance is auacled to tle ¡ostuies. Tle commentatoi
says that the four main elements will be automatically included as
mere accompaniments. These concepts are highly philosophical.
Ordinary people will be unable to understand them. The salient point
here is that the body exists. That body is known. The postures are
not indicated as essential to be known. Therefore, it should be
consuued as laving imbibed all tle bodily belaviouis. Tle belavioui
of the main elements, is not to be taken into consideration. This
amounts to emphasis being laid on the body.
It may be fuitlei elucidated tlus: Wlile siuing, any ¡ait of tle
limb, wletlei it is moving, feeling stiff, oi iemaining still, if tlat ¡ait
of the limb concerned is contemplated, it would amount to dwelling
on tle claiacteiistics of its ¡iesence in tle body. Tle siuing ¡ostuie
is also automatically embraced therein. Hence, if the ‘rising and
falling’ of tle abdomen is contem¡lated wlile siuing, tle ¡ostuie of
‘siuing’ is automatically included, and is iegaided as being fulfilled
in sequence. Tleiefoie, tle statement made by tle Veneiable Ledī
Sayādaw as “Yathā yathā vā panassa kāyo paṇihito hoti, tathā tathā naṃ
pajānāti” shall be interpreted as having imbibed all bodily movements
in detail, which is in agreement with the exposition of the second
method of the Subcommentary. We are teaching in the same way.
Piesumably, it is sufficient foi you to undeistand.
Must Contemplate in the Present
Next, I would like to explain as to how contemplation should be
made at the initial stage of insight meditation. The Visuddhimagga
has stated as “lakkhaṇarasādivasena pariggahetabbā.” Tle insuuction
72 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
given is to contemplate the essence of characteristics.� In order to
know tle uutl ielating to mind and mauei, it is necessaiy to discein
the four factors: characteristic (lakkhaṇa), function (rasa), manifesta-
tion (paccupaṭṭhāna) and proximate cause (padaṭṭhāna). As it has been
stated to contem¡late tle “claiacteiistic, function, and so on” nom
among these four, it is obvious that the remaining two must be
included because “and so on” was appended to that phrase.
Hence, it must be boine in mind tlat all mind and mauei slould
be contemplated along with their characteristics, the existing mani-
festation as well as tleii ¡ioximate cause. Tlis is low we insuuct
and low it was done by tle Veneiable Tleelon Sayādaw,� the
Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw, and otlei famous Sayādaws in Buima. Tle
justification foi contem¡lating along witl tle manifestation las been
slown in tle Visuddlimagga as well as in in tle Dīglanikāya,
Malāvagga, its Commentaiy and Subcommentaiy, and in tle
Saṃyuuanikāya, etc. How tle five aggiegates of gias¡ing aie
contemplated has been described therein. There are some who have
said that insight meditation should not be done as stated in the
foregoing. They are, therefore, on the wrong path as their dissonant
views aie conuaiy to tle Commentaiies.
Tley ie¡eated tleii eiioi in saying tlat tle existing mateiiali[
is a concept. The Visuddhimagga Commentary and Subcommentary
have cleared this erroneous understanding of concept (paññai). It
is made even cleaiei in tle Dīglanikāya Malāvagga Commentaiy.
Manifestation iefeis to mateiiali[(rūpa), and not to mentali[(nāma).
Tlis is meant to iefei to tle aggiegate of mauei. No iefeience las yet
been made to mind. The body is conspicuous. It is, in fact, the sense
object on which knowledge dwells. In other words, the character of
the sensation is its manifestation. Mateiiali[ is an ultimate ieali[
(paramaha). It ieally exists and is ieflected in knowledge. It is not a
concept (paññai).
Tleiefoie, wletlei contem¡lation is made on mauei oi on mind,
according to the method of insight meditation, it must be contem-
plated with its characteristic, function, manifestation, and also with
its proximate cause if possible. Then, the question may arise as to
� Vism. 587. Cla¡tei XVIII Puiification of View.
� A renowned meditation master during the reign of King Mindon (i.e. about 1850
A.D ). Tle Mingun Jetavan Sayādaw was lis disci¡le, and tle teaclei of Veneiable
Malāsi Sayādaw (Souice: Five Qualities of a Meditator, Sayādaw U Jatila) (ed.)
Must Contemplate in the Present 73
which is contemplated when contemplating “gacchantovā gacchāmī’ti
pajānāti,” etc. The answer is that the air element (vāyodhātu) is
contemplated. How is it then known? If contemplating on the nature
of mind and mauei at eveiy moment of tleii occuiience, tley a¡¡eai
with their own characteristics, in their own function, and in the way
tlat tley manifest. Foi exam¡le, looking at a flasl of ligltning as it
occuis in tle sky, tle sign of elecuical disclaige is obvious. Tlis
characteristic is its substance. The substance is the brilliant light. The
liglt tlat is emiued is tle ligltning. Tleie is no otlei tling.
Then, a person who has seen it at the time of its occurrence will
know tle biilliant flasl. Tlis is knowing its claiacteiistics.
At tle time tle ligltning flasles, daikness disa¡¡eais. Tle tling
that causes the darkness to dispel, is called the function of the
ligltning flasl. Tle ¡eison wlo is watcling wlen ligltning occuis
knows the disappearance of the darkness. Then also, he who is
watching at the moment lightning takes place will know the nature
of tle elecuici[ tlat is disclaiged. Tle sla¡e, its a¡¡eaiance wletlei
tle liglt tlat flasles is dim oi ¡iofuse, oi is of gieat magnitude, oi
round, or long or short, will be revealed. This is the nature of its
dimension tlat is ieflected in tle conscious mind oi tle knowledge
of the person watching the lightning as it occurs. This is the example.
It cannot be said to be an ultimate ieali[.
In the same way, if the air element is contemplated at the time of
its occurrence, it is known with its characteristics. Its function and
manifestation will also be known. The nature of the air element is
pressure or motion. It could, therefore, propel, or in ordinary parlance,
it would cause stiffness. If you suetcl youi aim, you will find stiffness.
If you suetcl youi leg, you will say you find stiffness instead of
saying ¡io¡ulsion. Tlougl no stiffness is knowingly oi obviously
felt, consideiing tle degiee of stiffness, you will lave to say it is less
stiff oi vice veisa, as tle case may be. If tle degiee of stiffness is
diminished, you will say that it has eased.
Take another example by pulling three ropes. One may be pulled
tight, the middle rope may be moderately tight, while the third may
be slack. Tle fiist io¡e is obviously tle tigltest. Tle io¡e in tle
middle, if com¡aied to tle fiist, may be said to be slack, but if it is
compared to the third, it is considered to be tight. If the rope in the
middle were the only one, it would be considered tight.
74 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Pio¡ulsion, stiffness, tigltness, oi slackness, aie tle claiacteiis-
tics of the air element. The word “propulsion” is the usage in the
liteiaiy sense. “Stiffness” is tle teim commonly used. Tle aii element
las tle ca¡aci[ of movement. Tle aii element ¡usles oi ¡io¡els.
It may also be likened to a cart and the bullock. The cart itself
las no mobili[. It is tle bullock tlat moves. Wlen tle bullock moves,
the cart is propelled. The bullock causes the cart to move. The air
element las tle inuinsic natuie of motivation. Tle wind by itself is
in motion. If tle wind suikes anytling, it may be said tlat tle wind
propels it. It makes the leaves or dust move or change their position,
and it sways ¡lants and tle biancles of a uee. Tlen, if you bend oi
suetcl and note as “bending,” oi “suetcling,” you will notice tle
natuie of motivation. If you coil oi bend youi foiefingei oi suetcl
it, you will cleaily find its movement. Tlis is tle moving (samudīraṇa)
function of the air element. In the same way, while you contemplate
as “walking,” “lihing,” “ste¡¡ing,” oi “dio¡¡ing,” you will notice
the bodily behaviour of your feet which move slowly. This is called
“the function of movement” (samudīraṇa-rasa). The manifestation is
tle claiacteiistic tlat becomes manifested ahei a tling las become
an object of consciousness. When it is manifested, it is then correctly
conceived. This knowledge is not the same as conceptual knowledge.
It is an ultimate ieali[ (paramaha). Tle mouo is:
“The air element pushes and carries forth to where it proceeds on
its own inclination. A meditatoi’s du[ is to note and contem¡late it.”
The foregoing explanation describes how the air element is known
in its characteristics, function, manifestation, and proximate cause.
Proximate cause, being less important, is not included in the verse.
The air element in the body can be contemplated anywhere that it
manifests, but it is essential to know it along with the three factors:
characteristic, function, and manifestation. If one of those three is
known, it may be said to have been correctly realised.
The phenomenon of the air element can be contemplated,
wleievei it occuis in tle body. Any mauei tlat is an ultimate ieali[,
wletlei it is eaitl, watei, fiie, oi aii element, oi any sensation ielating
to mauei could be contem¡lated.
It is ¡eifectly acce¡table to contem¡late mind and mauei at eveiy
cons¡icuous occuiience. I suess tlese ¡oints so tlat you can dis¡el
your doubts at the junction before you reach the stage of insight. You
Must Contemplate in the Present 75
have just learnt about the method. I am repeatedly explaining it to
help you reject doubt before you go on with your meditation.
I have covered the subject of the air element well enough for you
to undeistand. Now, I will ex¡lain witl an exam¡le of mentali[.
Consciousness has the characteristic of knowing the sense-object
or sensation (ārammaṇa vijānanalakkhaṇaṃ viññāṇaṃ). The mind or
tlouglt only ¡ioceeds nom contact witl sense objects. Tleiefoie, if
mind-consciousness is contemplated every time it arises, it will be
known that it becomes aware of the sensation that occurs.
When seeing occurs, the visual object becomes known through
consciousness. The same thing happens if a sound is heard. The mind
flows tliougl tle eai, tle sense-oigan nom wleie it is leaid. If tleie
is an odour, the smell is sensed and the mind proceeds to where the
smell is, etc. The mind immediately dwells on the sense object.
It is more obvious in the case of “imag-
ination.” Wherever you are now, for
exam¡le in Monywā, if you imagine tle
Malā Myat Muṇi Buddla at Mandalay, the
whole picture of the shrine comes into your
mind. If you think of the Sagaing Hills and
the Ava Bridge, it would also appear in your
mind’s eye. That is why it is said that the
mind reaches to where the sensation lies.
Tle mouo is: “Tle mind las tle natuial
tendency to know the sensation. It takes the
lead or gives guidance as a leader.”
A ¡eison wlo las tle qualities of leadeisli¡ las tle natuial abili[
and tendency to take the lead. Any kind of work to be performed by
a group needs a leader. In any organization, there is always a leader
who directs the followers regarding the action is to be taken. Even
in uans¡lanting ¡addy seedlings, it iequiies a giou¡ leadei. Tle iest
will follow his or her actions and guidance. In the same way, the
mind reaches the object of sensation and gains awareness. This mind
consciousness is followed by a series of mental formations (cetasikā).
To cite a vivid exam¡le, take tle case of seeing a visual object. Ahei
seeing it, sensation arises. If it is a pleasurable sight, greed follows.
If anything that is seen is unpleasant or detestable, anger or aversion
occuis. If a ieveied object is noticed, feelings of faitl oi geneiosi[
76 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
occur. If it is anything that one is proud of, conceit arises. Likewise,
meanness will aiise if auaclment to anytling occuis oi if jealousy is
felt against some one. This is why the mind resembles a leader. Mental
formations follow closely behind the mind, which takes the lead.
Every time the mind is contemplated, you know what follows in its
wake. If the mind is not properly contemplated and noted, greed
and anger can arise. The leading role that is assumed, which is the
function (rasa), will be known as it is by mere contemplation.
If a meditator carries on contemplating every time the mind
occurs, any thought formations that follow will be clearly found to
have a link with the mind that has already arisen. While noting
“iising,” “falling,” “siuing,” oi “toucling,” tle mind tlat imagines
may occur, and while noting “imagining,” one will come to know
whatever follows. It will be vividly realised that a series of mental
foimations aie taking ¡lace in quick succession, like a suing of beads
following one another when the beads are moved. At the beginning
of meditation, the mind sometimes wanders here and there, hopping
nom one ¡lace to anotlei. Sucl events can be cleaily known even
by children if they contemplate and note the arising of the mind.
Adults can easily realise them. Young children are really wonderful
— there were children aged only seven who became Arahants during
the lifetime of the Buddha. Children could relate the events that have
occurred in their mind in sequence. Repeated occurrences of mind
will also be conceived to have been taking place. It may appear to
have so occurred endlessly, but it will come to an end when the
contemplating mind with awareness comes to a cessation. Doubt
may arise whether such mental occurrences will ever cease. The way
in which the mind occurs singly and endlessly is taught in the
Dhammapada, verse 37, as follows:
“Dūraṅgamaṃ ekacaraṃ, asarīraṃ guhāsayaṃ.
Ye ciaṃ saṃyamessanti, mokkhan ti mārabandhanā.”
This means that the mind is used to wander about ceaselessly
and reach to a remote place. Whatever the distance might be, if you
just think of a far distant place, it can be reached at once merely using
your imagination. If you think of the Shwedagon Pagoda, your mind
reaches it in a split second. The imagination can go to places in foreign
counuies tlat you lave nevei visited. Tle mind ieacles its destina-
Must Contemplate in the Present 77
tion, without any delay, journey, or expense. If you imagine a place
tlat you lave nevei seen, it may be misled. Tle mind may go asuay
wlile nolicking in a fai-off ¡lace, and if it so la¡¡ens, it slould be
considered improper.
Mind aiises singly on eacl occasion. Diffeient tlouglts cannot
¡ossibly occui simultaneously. It is just like beads on a suing falling
one ahei anotlei in ia¡id succession. It may be difficult to believe,
but the mind that occurred when young is not the same mind that
has just arisen or that is now arising. One might regard it as a chain
of thoughts occurring continuously. The statement, “Thoughts occur
singly,” may be accepted only because it has been taught by the
Buddha and stated in the Commentaries and Subcommentaries. If
you really want to know that thought occurs singly, you should
meditate and veii( it foi youiself. Mindfulness of consciousness was
taught by the Buddha as, When a passionate mind is present, the
meditator knows, ‘A passionate mind is present’.” If you contemplate
and note tle mind eveiy time it occuis, you will definitely find it
a¡¡eaiing only one ahei tle otlei in exuemely quick succession.
Tle fiist mind tlat a¡¡eais will soon disa¡¡eai followed immediately
by anotlei mind. It flits and vanisles witl tle gieatest ia¡idi[. Tle
moment that imagination or thought is noted, it vanishes suddenly.
You will know it personally if you contemplate and note the mind.
Tlougl tle fiist occuiience of tle mind disa¡¡eais, anotlei mind
subsequently appears and takes the place of the former mind that
preceded and dissolved. The mind is occurring and disappearing as
a never-ending process.
Tle mind tlat occuis singly las no substance. Mauei is a ¡lysical
substance. That is why the material body can be pointed out as being
at a location. It can be felt, ca¡tuied, tied u¡, oi confined in a ioom.
Tle mind las no sucl substance. It is, tleiefoie, difficult to slow
where it stays or lurks. We can only say that awareness of the
sensation is mind. It is hard to explain when asked where it occurs.
It cannot be pointed out as being here or there.
Of couise, wlat is definite is wlen seeing takes ¡lace, it la¡¡ens
oi is ieflected in tle eyes. Wlen a sound is leaid, leaiing occuis in
the ears. When smelling, the odour comes in through the nose. When
tasting, tle flavoui is felt on tle tongue. Wlen sometling is toucled,
it is felt or known at the point of contact, for instance, when the head
78 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
is toucled, tle sensation of toucl comes nom tle lead. Hence, all
tlese five senses aie definitely known. Tle location of tle mind tlat
imagines or plans is not clearly known. The Commentators, however,
say tlat it occuis nom tle leait-base (hadayavahu), the material base
of tle leait, de¡ending on some mauei, wlicl is tle leait.
Western doctors assume that it occurs in the brain, the nervous
organ which is the seat of sensation and thought. If this viewpoint
is considered, it is reasonable to say that the mind occurs in the brain.
Howevei, it cannot be said witl any ceitain[. In any case, wlen
there is fear the heart beats faster. When there is something to be
woiiied about oi to iegiet, it is ohen said tlat leait-acle is felt. In
view of this, the authors of the Subcommentaries supported the view
expressed in the Commentaries. If that is the case, it would have
some soit of justification to acce¡t tle view tlat tle foimation of
tlouglts aiises fiist in tle leait.
Neveitleless, it is not easy to ¡in¡oint wleie tle mind fiist aiises
oi occuis. Tlougl it may be manifested, it is difficult to see it vividly
as it has no tangible substance. The mind cannot be captured. It
cannot be tied u¡ witl a io¡e, confined, oi conuolled.
If contemplation is made on this mind at every moment of its
occurrence, and if it is constantly put under surveillance, it is stated
tlat one can esca¡e nom tle feueis of tle defilements called “Māia.”
Māia means tle executionei. Because of tle ¡iesence of defilements,
new existences have taken place. In every existence, death will take
place once. This means that sentient beings are put to death by
defilements. It is tleiefoie said tlat one can esca¡e nom tle bondage
of Māia. If you wisl to esca¡e nom tle clutcles of Māia, tle mind
should be guarded. It is impossible to tie the mind with a rope. The
mind slall be contem¡lated and noted witl auentiveness.
This concept appears to fall in line with what has been stated as
“The way of knowing with the characteristics, function, and manifes-
tation.” A continual chain of mind-consciousness linking with the
fiist mental occuiience can take ¡lace ie¡eatedly and endlessly. Wlat
is to be known in this regard is that the mind occurs linking with the
thoughts that have arisen or have preceded it. This is clearly known
by a meditator by personal insight. No lessons need be learned. It is
only necessary to contemplate the mind every time it occurs. It
happens singly and separately. This fact will be personally realised.
Must Contemplate in the Present 79
The meditator then understands that death will take place in every
existence. Conception in the womb of a mother and rebirth take place
in a new existence. The actual process will then be understood clearly.
It may be explained like this. If the mind is known every moment
it occurs, the consciousness that arises will be found to be vanishing.
If such a state of vanishing is known with insight, the realisation
occurs: “Death means the cessation of that kind of consciousness at
the last moment before death.”
Consciousness occuis one ahei anotlei in a continuous clain,
and when this is known, it will be realised that the passing away of
tle ¡iesent consciousness only conditions a nesl one in anotlei biitl,
and it is nothing but a new existence. This knowledge is the personal
realisation of death and rebirth — entering a womb in a new existence.
If a ¡eison uuly iealises tlis deatl and iebiitl of consciousness as
stated, he will get rid of eternalism (sassatadiṭṭhi) — the heretical
belief that some living substance or self (aa) is eternal.
“In ieali[, mind oi mental consciousness aiises and tlen vanisles
immediately. The consciousness that occurs in the new existence is
similai to tle consciousness of tle mind tlat occuis anesl ie¡eatedly
wlile contem¡lation is made oi in ¡iocess. Tle mind nom tle ¡ast
existence is not uansmiued to tle ¡iesent existence, and tle mind
arising at the present existence does not move out to the next
existence.” A meditator who realises this fact as stated, will get rid
of eteinalism — tle idea tlat a living tling oi being is uansfeiied in
its entiie[ to tle new existence, and will continue to ieside in tle
new body. This is how eternalism is eliminated. As regards annihila-
tionism (ucchedadiṭṭhi), tlis is tle belief tlat notling iemains ahei
death. “If the body is cremated, it is turned into ashes, and becomes
fertilizer. There is no such thing as a new existence.” This erroneous
conception is known as annihilationism. In fact, when death occurs
in one existence, consciousness still continues without a break just
as wlen one is alive, as long as defilements lave yet been desuoyed.
To a ¡eison wlo is not yet nee nom defilements, tle mind im¡inges
on a sensation. On his or her death-bed the sensation that occurs will
always be iemembeied and will nevei be foigouen. It will be
ie¡eatedly ieflected on by tle mind. Tleiefoie, on tle veige of deatl,
an act that has been done during life will appear as a vision and while
in tle couise of ieflecting on tlis act, tle suengtl of consciousness
80 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
will gradually become feeble and fade away until it reaches the point
of cessation. Tle moment tlat tlis last consciousness ceases, a nesl
consciousness arises with the new existence. This process is what is
called tle a¡¡eaiance of a new existence ahei tle deatl of a ¡eison
in the present existence. In other words, it may be stated that a human
being, a dei[, oi an animal is ieboin oi comes into existence. If tlis
is cleaily ¡eiceived and undeistood, a ¡eison may be said to be nee
nom annililationism —the view that existence is entirely annihilated
ahei deatl. Tlis knowledge is veiy valuable indeed.
If the mind is contemplated while it occurs, it can be known with
the characteristics that distinguish the sensation. It can also be
distinguisled by tle function tlat las tle abili[ to take tle lead,
and by its manifestation, which occurs repeatedly and continuously
linking with the mind that has preceded. If the mind can be known
with characteristics, function, and manifestation it is obvious that
the rest of the mental aggregates will also be known when they are
contemplated at the moment of their occurrence.
I lave ex¡lained it veiy biiefly by citing only tle aii element out
of the four material elements, with its characteristics, function, and
manifestation to give you tle flavoui of tle Dlamma. Tle exam¡le
is as ex¡ounded in tle Dīglanikāya, tle Saṃyuuanikāya, Commen-
taries and Subcommentaries, and is, therefore, authoritative.
By now, it should be clear what should be known. If all bodily
behaviours are contemplated, it would amount to establishing
mindfulness of tle body. It confiims tle knowledge of tle feasibili[
of tle metlod of contem¡lation, as “walking,” oi “lihing’, “moving,”
“dropping” in the act of walking. I am sure there is hardly any room
for doubt. Since the door is now unbolted and doubt has been
dis¡elled, tle ioad to nibbāna is cleai. All tlat now iemains is foi
you to meditate. Let us iecite tle following mouo.
“Tle anti-lill is tle body. Imagining is emiuing smoke by
niglt. Peifoiming actions is ejecting flames duiing tle day.
The teacher is the Buddha, and the pupil is the meditator. The
junction is doubt that arises. The hoe is knowledge. Digging
is exeition oi tle foui iiglt effoits. Tle bolt is ignoiance of
the correct method of meditation. The toad represents anger,
which should be contemplated and dispelled. It should be
iejected ahei contem¡lating and noting.”
The Water-Sainer 81
The Water-Sainer
Tle last mouo is said to be an obsuuction tlat may be likened to
a watei-suainei. Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a ¡ut tle question as “kiṃ
ciṅgavariṃ,” i.e. Wlat is meant by “watei-suainei'” Tle Buddla’s
answer to this question runs as follows:
“Caṅgavāra’nti kho, bhikkhu, pañcannetaṃ nīvaraṇānaṃ
Tle meaning is: “Blikklu! Tle watei-suainei indicates tle five
hindrances (pañca-nīvaraṇa).” Watei-suaineis weie geneially used
in tlose days tlougl it is not used at ¡iesent. A watei-suainei is a
¡iece of gauze tliougl wlicl liquid is ¡ouied filtei solid mauei. In
ancient times, if people wanted soap, they had to dissolve the sandy
soa¡ in watei and suain tle soa¡y liquid to collect tle iesidue —
iefined ¡aiticles of ¡uie soa¡ foi wasling fine clotles. Tle gauze is
finely ¡eifoiated to allow watei to ¡ass tliougl it easily.
In tle same way, a ¡eison wlo is enmesled in tle five lindiances,
which are obstacles to a successful religious life — lust, anger, sloth,
restlessness, and doubt — cannot maintain wholesome states. It is
similai to tle watei tlat flows tliougl tle fine gauze tlat seives as
a watei-suainei. Similaily, all wlolesome deeds will just flow tliougl.
Heie, “wlolesome deeds” iefeis ¡aiticulaily to concenuation and
wisdom. Tle meiits of geneiosi[ and moiali[ will enduie. Genei-
osi[ will not be affected in any way by tle ¡iesence of tle lindiances
and moiali[ will not lose its noble qualities. If no misdeeds aie
commiued by action oi s¡eecl, moiali[ will not be desuoyed.
Imagination may run riot with lustful thoughts or feelings of illwill
oi malevolence, but moiali[ will still iemain intact. Tle lindiances
cannot totally ¡iolibit tle meiits of claii[ and moiali[. Howevei,
tley can detei tle meiits deiived nom concenuation and wisdom.
If sensual ¡leasuies aie ieflected on, concenuation cannot be
gained. If passionate desires for wealth, existence, or for business
affaiis, etc., are occurring in one’s mind, no progress will be made in
develo¡ing insiglt. Sucl auaclments to woildly ¡assions aie
lindiances tlat detei tle benefits of meditation.
These obstacles to the progress of insight are compared to the
watei-suainei. If wisles foi sensual enjoyment, and ¡assionate desiies
are entertained, no success can be achieved in meditation practice.
82 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
In the course of contemplation, while noting as “rising,” “falling,”
“siuing,” and “toucling,” tle mind usually flits away nequently. Tle
Buddha gave a very good example of this, comparing the mind to a
fisl out of watei.
Like A Fish Out of Water
Just as fisl live and find la¡¡iness in watei, tle luman mind
dwells in and finds enjoyment in sensual ¡leasuies. Men and women
are always thinking and planning how they could earn their living
and ¡eifoim tleii duties in tle field of social activities. Sucl mental
and physical activities are prompted by passionate desires. That is
the why sensual pleasures are said to be the dwelling place of the
human mind. If the mind is taken out of its habitual residence it
would iesemble a fisl taken out of tle watei and tliown on tle
ground. The Buddha taught this metaphorical statement in the form
of verse. It is an excellent piece, but it will be more obvious if one
has gained experience in the practical exercise of meditation.
“Vārijova thale khio, okamokataubbhato.
Pariphandatidaṃ ciaṃ, māradheyyaṃ pahātave.”
“Like a fisl tlat is diawn nom its wateiy abode and tliown
u¡on land, even so does tlis mind fluuei. Hence slould tle
realm of passion be shunned. (Dhp.v.34)
In ¡lain language, tle above Pāḷi veise says tlat a fisl, wlose
home is the water, if taken out of its dwelling place and thrown onto
tle giound, would quivei and suuggle as if wounded to tle ¡oint
of death, longing for its watery home.”
In eveiy luman being tle Tiutl of Suffeiing is found. It exists
in tle five aggiegates: tle body, feelings, ¡eice¡tions, mental
formations, and consciousness. These all fall within the realm of
Māia oi tle defilements. Because of tlese defilements, existences
have come into being. In any existence, death is inevitable. In other
words, death occurs because of the presence of these mental and
physical aggregates. Without the aggregates, no death will take place.
Therefore, these mental and physical aggregates fall within the
domain oi juiisdiction of Māia, tle gieat killei, oi tle defilements.
All of tlese aggiegates aie undei tle conuol of tlis gieat killei,
and so living beings aie bound to face old age, suffeiing, and deatl
How the Hindrances are Dispelled 83
wherever they may be in the human world, and even the celestial
¡lanes. Witl youi mateiial body you cannot ¡ossibly esca¡e nom
tle clutcl of tle defilements. To esca¡e tlis fate you will lave to ¡ut
tle mind on tle landing giound of concenuation and insiglt. It
beloves us to join meditation cenues and ¡iactise mindfulness.
Contem¡late “iising,” “falling,” “siuing,” “toucling,” etc., repeatedly
witl utmost concenuation. You will find tlat youi mind ohen ieflects
on sensual ¡leasuies as usual. Tlis iesembles tle fisl tliasling,
twisting, and quivering, as it wishes to return to its watery home.
Tlis iestless mind slould be iejected by noting to ¡ievent it nom
ieflecting on sensual tlouglts.
How the Five Hindrances Are Dispelled
It was stated as “Ukkhipa caṅgavāraṃ, pajaha pañca nīvaraṇe” i.e.
discaid tle watei-suainei and ieject tle five lindiances. Sucl
hindrances should be noted repeatedly in the course of contemplation,
and rejected. The way of rejection is to note as “reaching” when the
mind reaches your home while contemplating “rising,” “falling,”
“siuing,” and “toucling.” If tle mind wandeis to youi daily cloies,
note as “wandering.” If imagination occurs, note as “imagining” and
then reject it. It is a very good method of rejecting the hindrances.
If feelings of disappointment, ill-will, or anger (vyāpāda) arise,
these too should be contemplated, noted, and rejected. In the same
way, sloth or laziness, restlessness or worry, and sceptical doubts
should also be noted through contemplation and thus eliminated.
Puri of Mind
If tlese five lindiances aie contem¡lated and iejected ahei noting
tlem, you will ieacl a stage wleie tle mind becomes ¡uiified
(cia-visuddhi). If you are really intent on meditating to achieve the
¡atl and its nuition it is im¡eiative to be endowed witl moial ¡uii[
(sīla-visuddhi). Tleieahei, it iequiies tle full accom¡lislment of ¡uii[
of mind.
Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind
When you reach this stage of insight, at every moment of
contemplation and noting, the mind that is conscious of the object
and the object of contemplation are distinguished. This knowledge
84 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
tlat distinguisles between mind and mauei is called: “Analytical
Knowledge of Body and Mind (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāṇa).” The
way in wlicl mind and mauei aie distinguisled las been lucidly
explained by the Buddha with the following example.
What is known as a “cat’s eye” — a precious ruby — ought to be
possessed. This “cat’s eye” is a gem with a pale greenish colour, and
is crystal clear. Some people wear a ring as an ornament on their
fingeis made of gold and inset witl sucl a gem. Gieat significance
las been auacled to sucl gems in tle teaclings of tle Buddla. I will,
therefore, make reference to the gem, which is generally well-known.
Take for instance, a ruby, which is a crimson or rose-coloured gem,
a product of Mogok ruby mines in Burma, renowned in the world
of gems and known by almost everyone. A very tiny hole may be
pierced through this ruby for threading with other gems of various
hues — yellow, blue, green, or white. Then, let this gem be scrutinised
by a ¡eison witl good eye-siglt ahei ¡lacing it on tle ¡alm of tle
hand. If it is closely observed, one will come to know distinctly that
the gem and the thread are quite separate. The gem and the thread
will then be distinguished. The thread will be seen to have been
threaded through the tiny hole in the stone. In the same way, the
meditator who is contemplating and noting will distinguish between
the object of contemplation and the knowing mind at every moment
of contemplation and noting.
To cite an exam¡le: Wlen you note as “iising,” will you not find
tle stiffness and tle movement in youi abdomen' Tlen also, will
not the mind that contemplates, notes, and knows the “rising” of the
abdomen, become obvious? The rising movement of the abdomen
witl a feeling of stiffness is tle inuinsic natuie of mauei (rūpa), and
the knowing is mind (nāma). Tle stiffness and movement of tle
abdomen is mauei, wlicl iesembles tle gem. Tle mind tlat notes
and knows resembles the thread. At every moment of noting, the
mind tlat notes swihly goes towaids tle sensation just like tle tliead
that passes through the tiny hole in the stone.
That is why the noting mind that reaches the object of sensation
is likened to the thread that passes through the gem. This simile given
by the Buddha shows how the distinguishing features of mind and
mauei aie iealised by Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind
(nāmarūpa pariccheda ñāṇa). It is the most reliable statement as taught
The Tortoise 85
by the Buddha and is found to be in perfect agreement with what
las been iealised by oui meditatois. Likewise, tleie is similaii[ in
the knowledge that distinguishes the two distinct parts every time
bodily behaviours are contemplated and noted.
The Tortoise
Wlen mind and mauei aie distinguisled you will find tle five
aggiegates. Tlis is stated as, “tle lindiances aie like a watei-suainei,
and the tortoise is like the aggregates.” It was said before that if the
five lindiances, wlicl iesemble tle watei-suainei, aie contem¡lated
and noted, tle mind becomes ¡uiified. As tle mind is ¡uiified mind
and mauei will be distinguisled at eveiy moment of contem¡lation.
Tlese two — mind and mauei — com¡iise tle five aggiegates. A
meditator who is noting the rising movement of the abdomen will
feel stiffness. Movement of tle abdomen will also be noticeable. Tlis
rising movement is the nature of the wind element and is a character-
istic of the material aggregate. Awareness by noting is the mental
aggregate. The awareness that realises the nature of sensation is the
aggregate of consciousness (viññāṇakkhandhā). Joy and happiness that
is felt while noting and being aware is pleasant feeling (sukha-vedanā).
If a neuual sensation occuis witl neitlei joy noi la¡¡iness, it is
equanimous feeling (upekkhā-vedanā). These feelings are the aggregate
of feeling (vedanakkhandhā). Perceiving the nature of the rising
movement is the aggregate of perception (saññākkhandhā). Paying
auention to know tle natuie of iising and stiffness, and tlus
distinguishing them is the aggregate of mental formations
(saṅkhārakkhandhā). If tley aie analysed witl caieful auention, tle
distinguishing features of the four mental aggregates become dis-
tinctly noticeable. Every time contemplation is made on the rising of
tle abdomen, tle stiffness oi movement is mateiial aggiegate, wlile
the mind that notes, constitutes the four mental aggregates. Together
tlese aie tle five aggiegates. Eveiy time you contem¡late and note,
tlese five aggiegates will be found. Tlis is stated as “finding tle
toitoise.” A toitoise las five limbs — two aims, two legs, and a lead.
Tle five aggiegates will also be noticed eveiy time you contem-
¡late and note as “falling,” “siuing,” “toucling,” “bending,” “suetcl-
ing” and so forth. In the act of bending, if you note as “bending,”
stiffness and tle movement tlat occui is mauei, wlile awaieness
86 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
gained through noting is mind. Mind is the four mental aggregates,
and mauei is tle one mateiial aggiegate — togetlei five aggiegates.
Similar characteristics can be known with due alteration of details
in respect to other physical and mental phenomena that are noted.
Do not seek foi ¡leasuie in tlese five aggiegates, wlicl aie to be
contemplated, noted, and rejected. This is the essential point.
The question posed, “What is meant by tortoise? (Ko kammo.)”
The answer given was: “Kummo’ti kho, bhikkhu, pañcannetaṃ
upādānakkhandhānaṃ adhivacanaṃ.”
The meaning of this answer is: “Bhikkhu! The meaning of the
“toitoise” is tle five aggiegates.” Tle five aggiegates im¡lies tle
auaclment tlat clings to tle sensations. Tlese sensations slould be
dispelled and eliminated by contemplation to get rid of desires.
The Buddha explained that “the tortoise should be removed
(pajaha kummaṃ)” means, “Reject tle five aggiegates.” Tle Commen-
taiy says tlat tle gist of it is to ieject tle auaclment to tle five
aggiegates. Tle mouo I lave given is:
“What should be contemplated to gain insight knowledge?
“Insiglt is gained by contem¡lating tle five aggiegates, wlicl
aie ¡ione to auaclment.”
In tlis Vammika Suua, tle toitoise means tle five aggiegates.
These are to be contemplated, noted, and then rejected.
Altlougl tle five aggiegates aie to be contem¡lated and iejected,
at tle initial stage of meditation, only tle natuie of five aggiegates
will be known. At this stage, the arising and dissolution of these
aggregates, and their nature of impermanence cannot yet be realised.
Only tle natuie of stiffness and movement will be known wlen
contemplating the rising and falling of the abdomen. Hence, there
is only awaieness of tle distinctive featuies of mind and mauei.
Wlen concenuation and knowledge matuie, all of tlese
phenomena will be distinctly known both at the beginning and
tle end. Wlen it is cleaily iealised tlat nom tle moment of tleii
arising they begin to decay towards total dissolution, insight
knowledge occurs with a direct realisation that they are imperma-
nent. It slould, tleiefoie, be contem¡lated to know tle uue natuie
of the phenomena, as stated. It would be necessary to note and
iealise im¡eimanence, unsatisfactoiiness, and not-self as concenua-
The Tortoise 87
tion becomes suengtlened. Only wlen sucl iealisation is aclieved,
will you be nee nom tle ¡leasuiable feelings and desiies con-
nected witl tle five aggiegates. So tle Commentatoi las said
“impermanence should be understood (aniccaṃ veditabbaṃ), the
characteristic of impermanence should be understood (aniccata
veditabba), and insight into impermanence should be understood
(aniccānupassanā veditabbā.)”�
Wlat is meant by im¡eimanence is tle five aggiegates, says tle
Commentary. If the material aggregate is contemplated, the nature
of its arising and dissolution is known, depending mainly upon the
body. In tle same way, mentali[ can be known and iealised in its
uue ¡eis¡ective. Let us iecite tle mouo.
“The material and mental aggregates, as they arise and
dissolve, have the nature of impermanence.”
The characteristic of impermanence is obvious because of its
uansient natuie, vanisling witlout lasting. It is just like a flasl of
ligltning. It flasles and disa¡¡eais all at once. Tlis is tle natuie of
im¡eimanence. You note wlat is occuiiing and you will find tle
occurrences immediately followed by their disappearance. This is
evident of the nature of impermanence, without remaining constant
even foi a moment. Tle uue claiacteiistic of im¡eimanence will be
personally realised only when you have experienced it personally.
Tlen only, tle uue knowledge ielating to tle natuie of im¡eimanence
will be gained. This can only be achieved by right contemplation.
When such genuine insight is achieved, it can lead you to the
knowledge of the Noble Path. Ordinary worldlings may wrongly
tlink tlat nom infancy until now as an adult, tleie is continui[ of
the same mind without any break. This is called ‘Santati,’ which is
similar to the erroneous notion of a continuous line of white ants. To
iemove tle veil of illusion tlat lides tle uutl, tle mind slould be
contemplated and noted every time it occurs.
When awareness becomes accelerated, the thoughts that are
arising gradually become distinct. Then, the realisation occurs that
these mental events incessantly appear and suddenly vanish. They
aie found to be im¡eimanent, and tle uutl of im¡eimanence will
be clearly appreciated.
� Paṭisamblidāmagga Aṭṭlakatlā, ¡.503 (ed).
88 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Take sensations, foi exam¡le. Pain oi stiffness may be tlouglt
of as occurring for quite a long time. If carefully contemplated and
noted, every time it is noted as “painful,” “painful,” it will be found
that the painful sensation is occurring singly and then vanishing. It
is just like tle wlite ants in a iow, wlicl aie se¡aiated nom one
anotlei. Pain occuis and tlen disa¡¡eais, and tlis state of flux
indicate the nature of impermanence. All bodily behaviour occurs
in the same way.
When impermanence (anicca) is known through insight, unsatis-
factoriness (dukkha), and not-self (anaa) will automatically be
undeistood. Being subjected to im¡eimanence is suffeiing. Tlis
“suffeiing” in itself is not-self. Tley aie basically tle same tlougl tley
aie diffeient in name. Tleiefoie, if im¡eimanence is undeistood,
unsatisfactoriness is understood; and if unsatisfactoriness is under-
stood, then not-self is also understood.
Now there is not enough time to explain fully how knowledge
concerning anicca, dukkha, and anaa occurs, so only a brief account
of it will, therefore, be given.
If impermanence is clearly seen, unsatisfactoriness will be
realised. If unsatisfactoriness is known, not-self will be perceived.
Wlen not-self is ¡eiceived, nibbāna will be found. If you want to
ieacl nibbāna, follow tlis ¡atl. Howevei, it slould be boine in mind
tlat one needs matuie insiglt to iealise nibbāna. It cannot be auained
by merely perceiving not-self occasionally.
If im¡eimanence, unsatisfactoiiness, and not-self aie uuly iealised
every time phenomena are contemplated, it amounts to rejection of
tle five aggiegates called tle “toitoise.” If you fail to contem¡late,
you will have no knowledge of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness,
or not-self. If you have pleasurable sensations at every moment of
seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and knowing, as they
arise at the six sense-doors, you will go on regarding them as being
¡eimanent, ¡leasant, good, self, male oi female, and find deliglt in
them. This is taking delight in the “tortoise.” It would, therefore,
amount to finding enjoyment and ¡leasuie in tle five aggiegates.
To avoid having pleasurable enjoyment in the tortoise, it is
advised to reject it. The method of rejection is to contemplate every
time the physical and mental phenomena occur. If that is done, you
will be able to distinguisl between mind and mauei. As you go on
The Tortoise 89
contemplating and noting, their arising and dissolution will be
known, which will lead you to the realisation of the insight relating
to the three characteristics. If this knowledge is acquired, no
auaclment can take ¡lace iegaiding tlem as ¡eimanent. Tlis will
detei defilements nom aiising. Otleiwise, you will still lave a
mistaken notion witl auaclment tlat a tling is beautiful, good, oi
pleasurable, that it is a being or a person.
Wlat is meant by iejecting tle toitoise is to dis¡el tle five
aggiegates. If tle five aggiegates aie contem¡lated as tley occui, it
will be in confoimi[ witl tle statement made in tlis Suua.
Tlen, tle question may aiise as to wlat extent tlese five
aggregates should be contemplated and rejected? The answer is:
“They should be contemplated up to the stage of knowledge of
adaptation (anuloma-ñāṇa) on the threshold of the Noble Path, which
leads to matuii[ knowledge (goabhū-ñāṇa), and Path knowledge
(ariyamagga-ñāṇa), and then rejection of the aggregates should follow.
While such rejection is being made in the course of contemplation,
the arising and passing away of the mental and physical phenomena
will be known with the result that the three characteristics will become
manifest. When this knowledge of comprehension (sammāsana-ñāṇa)
becomes suongei, com¡lete and cleai awaieness will take ¡lace of
the arising and dissolution of the sensations in the beginning and the
end of the phenomenal processes while being contemplated and
noted every time they occur.
This precise knowledge or awareness of the ever-changing
phenomena, arising and passing away in an accelerated motion, is
knowledge of arising and passing away (udayabbaya-ñāṇa). Again,
wlen tlis knowledge gains matuii[, eveiy time it is noted, tle
vanishing of the sense-objects is more clearly manifested and becomes
more noticeable than their arising. This knowledge and awareness
of the process of vanishing in pairs of the sense-object and the
knowing mind at every moment of contemplation is calledknowledge
of dissolution (bhaṅga-ñāṇa). Having perceived that both the knowing
mind and the phenomenal sense objects are incessantly dissolving
and vanishing both within and outside, it would occur to the
meditator that “nothing is dependable and everything is really
nigltful.” Tlis is wlat is called awaieness of feaifulness (bhaya-ñāṇa).
When such awareness takes place, all sensations that are known and
90 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
the knowing mind successively appearing will be considered as being
faul[ and undesiiable in many diffeient ways. Tlis is known as
knowledge of misery (ādīnava-ñāṇa). If, nom among tle many faults
tlat lave been iealised by tle knowledge, ieflection is made in
connection with sensual pleasures, they will appear similar to a
cleaver and a chopping-board.
A Cleaver and Chopping-board
Relating to the question as to “What is meant by the cleaver and
the chopping-board (ka asisūnā),” the Buddha replied:
“Asisūnāti kho bhikkhu pañcanneytaṃ kāmaguṇānaṃ ādhivacanam.”
The above answer denotes: “Bhikkhu! The cleaver (asi) and the
chopping-board (sūnā) iefei to tle five suands of sensual ¡leasuies
(kāmaguṇa) — pleasurable sights, sounds, odours, tastes, and
contacts.” When meat needs to be cut, it should be cut with a cleaver
ahei ¡lacing it on a clo¡¡ing-boaid. In tle same way, tle defilements
cut and slice all sentient beings, using tle five suands of sensual
pleasures as a base or chopping-board. It means that having found
¡leasuie and deliglt in tle five suands of sensual ¡leasuie due to
defilements, ¡eo¡le aie in uouble and suffeiing. To gain sensual
¡leasuies, one las to suive, undeigoing gieat ¡lysical and mental
laidsli¡s. Wlile so doing, if unwlolesome deeds aie commiued,
one will go down to tle foui lowei iealms ahei deatl. It is analogous
to being tortured and sliced with the cleaver of human passion (rāga),
having been placed on a chopping-board. Even if one is fortunate
enough to be reborn in the human or celestial realms by virtue of
one’s merits, one will have to face death eventually, since death is
inevitable in any form of existence. One meets with death because
of suffeiing biouglt about by defilements. It iesembles killing by
cuuing witl tle cleavei ahei being ¡laced on tle clo¡¡ing-boaid
by perceptions of sensual pleasures.
Since time is limited, I will not elaborate. In brief, the meaning
of the statement: “Reject the cleaver and the chopping-board” means
to contemplate pleasurable sensations with the knowledge of misery
and ieject tle auaclment to sensual ¡leasuies.
When becoming aware of the unsatisfactory condition through
the knowledge of misery no pleasurable feeling will arise on
A Piece of Flesh 91
contemplating or recollecting pleasures. The mind becomes wearied
by them. There is also feelings of disgust. The mind is devoid of
¡leasuie knowing fully tle uutl of ¡syclo-¡lysical ¡lenomena tlat
have occurred. This awareness is knowledge of disgust (nibbidā-ñāṇa).
The Buddha has taught how this knowledge arises as follows: “He
becomes weary of sights (rūpesupi nibbindati), he becomes weary of
eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññāṇepi nibbindati), he becomes weary of
mental objects (dhammesupi nibbindati), he becomes weary of mind-
consciousness (manoviññāṇepi nibbindati).”�
On becoming weary, the desire arises to abandon or get released
nom tlis body and mind. Tlis is knowledge of desire for deliverance
(muñcitu kamyatā-ñāṇa). Wishing to gain deliverance, contemplation
should be made continuously as usual. When contemplated again
and again, a s¡ecial awaieness occuis tlat is exuaoidinaiy. Tlis
special awareness is knowledge of re-observation (paṭisaṅkhā-ñāṇa).
As tlis knowledge gains matuii[, awaieness tlat can view ¡syclo-
¡lysical ¡lenomena witl equanimi[ aiises, wlicl is knowledge of
equanimi[ about foimations (saṅkhārupekkhā-ñāṇa). Among the
stages of insight knowledge, this is the best next to knowledge of
adaptation. Therefore, when this knowledge arises, one feels great
bliss, causing an exuemely delicate ¡assion foi tle Dlamma
(dhamma-rāga). If this passionate feeling cannot be discarded, the
knowledge of the Path (magga-ñāṇa) and its Fruition (phala-ñāṇa) will
not be achieved. It is therefore of paramount importance to abandon
this passion for the Dhamma.
A Piece of Flesh
Of all tle fiheen iiddles, it las been given tle name of “maṃsapesi,”
i.e. a ¡iece of flesl, in view of its ¡iime im¡oitance. Tleiefoie, in
response to the question that was put as: “What is the meaning of
tle ex¡iession-“a ¡iece of flesl',” tle Buddla gave tle ie¡ly:
“Maṃsapesī’ti kho, bhikkhu, nandīrāgassetaṃ adhivacanaṃ.”
It means: “Blikklu! Tle meaning of “a ¡iece of flesl” is sensual
delight (nandīrāgasa), that is desire that inclines towards pleasure.”
People who are non-vegetarians are very fond of meat. Lions, tigers,
and jackals, or eagles and crows and other birds of prey are also fond
� In tle “Fiie Seimon,” tle Ādiua Suua, S.iv.19 (ed.)
92 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
of meat. All those beings who crave for meat generally circle around
it. Ants, ciows, and dogs lave to be scaied away nom meat. Flies
also swaim iound tle flesl because tley ielisl it. In tle same way,
tle natuie of ¡leasuiable sensations and auaclment aie ielisled by
all. Music and melodious sounds are liked by everyone. People enjoy
nagiant odouis, and ielisl delicious food.
They long to enjoy tactile pleasures, and immerse themselves in
fanciful imagination. This mental inclination sensual delight. For
them life is really pleasurable. Even in listening to the sermons, they
would appreciate them more if the speaker’s voice is pleasing, and
want to hear humorous and interesting stories.
In general, most people do not enjoy reading scriptural texts as
these may not invoke delight. That is why novels, romantic stories,
or comics are best sellers. People have an insatiable appetite for them
because famous autlois can aiouse sensual deliglt. Even uagic oi
tliilling stoiies aiouse sym¡atly oi feai, anxie[ oi angei, tlougl
tle ieadeis know tlat tlese stoiies aie fictitious. Being stimulated
and impelled by sensual delight, they have spent their money to buy
the books that appeal to them. They also have an appetite for plays,
conceits, films, oi ¡o¡ulai songs, wlicl stimulate ¡leasuie and
delight. Some people enjoy taking liquor, because they give them
¡leasuie and nee imagination.
Sensual delight dominates people in worldly life. Such delights
must be rejected in the process of contemplation. In fact, it was
rejected earlier by abandoning the hindrance of sensual desire. If the
gross forms of sensual delight cannot be rejected, it won’t even be
possible to listen to sermons, let alone to practice meditation.
Tlose wlo deliglt in sensual ¡leasuies stay away nom monas-
teries or pagodas. They are reluctant to pay even a brief visit to such
holy places to gain merits. Then too, during the course of contempla-
tion, sensual desire may arise. It so happens that when rejoicing in
ieflecting on tle vaiious ¡lenomena as laving tle natuie of
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self, as stated earlier, one
merely notes them as such. While noting thus, the arising and passing
away of phenomena becomes very vivid and clear.
One will then feel mental and physical ease, and become poised.
Sensations seem to arise automatically, and awareness also becomes
automatic. At that stage when noting is smooth, radiance or bright
A Piece of Flesh 93
liglts may a¡¡eai. One may feel as if floating in tle aii oi iiding on
the waves. The mind becomes buoyant with rapture (pīti). At this
¡oint, one may be satisfied witl wlat is la¡¡ening. Tlat means
finding tle Dlamma deligltful witl feelings of ¡leasuie and
satisfaction. Tlis is also sensual deliglt — tle ¡iece of flesl.
Delight should therefore be dispelled by contemplating and noting
it. Of course, it has already been embraced in the rejection of the
toitoise. As mentioned eailiei, ahei ¡assing beyond tlis stage, insiglt
will be develo¡ed, eventually leading to knowledge of equanimi[
about formations. With this realisation, noting becomes smooth and
easy, iequiiing no s¡ecial effoit to become conscious of wlatevei
occurs. Awareness of the arising and dissolution of mental and
physical phenomena becomes spontaneous, and keen consciousness
of mind occuis continuously foi five, ten, twen[, oi tlii[ minutes,
or even one, two, or three hours, without any physical discomfort
sucl as stiffness, acles, ¡ain, lotness, oi fatigue. Relaxation and
comfoit will be felt wlile iemaining in tle siuing ¡ostuie, wlicl is
considered agreeable. This kind of appreciation with great satisfaction
is also sensual delight. This satisfactory feeling of awareness should
be continuously contemplated and noted, and if it noting persists, it
will grow progressively, accelerating the process of noting with
awareness. It will be something like making a dash to the winning
post in a running event. The mind that is noted will repeatedly appear
and vanish in an instant. This will eventually lead to the stage of
cessation and total eradication of the phenomena of the arising and
¡assing away of mind and mauei. All of a sudden, nibbāna is seen in
a flasl. Wlen it is auained, tle iealisation of tle Noble Patl
(sotāpai-magga-ñāṇa) and its Fruition (phala-ñāṇa) occurs. This is how
tle Patl and its Fiuition aie auained ahei iejecting sensual deliglt.
On auaining tle fiist ¡atl, and becoming a Sueam-winnei, if one
continues to contem¡late, knowledge of equanimi[ will be ieacled
but sensual delight may not yet appear. If enjoyment with the taste of
Dhamma occurs with delight, if the satisfactory condition that is felt
is contemplated further, then noted and rejected, one will reach the
Patl of a Once-Retuinei. Tleieahei, if a Once-Retuinei contem¡lates
and notes, ¡iogiess will be made towaids knowledge of equanimi[
by which delight in the Dhamma will be enjoyed. The sensation would
seem pleasurable. If one feels rejoices in that sensation, no further
94 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
progress will be made. However, if this pleasure is contemplated,
noted, and iejected, tle ¡atl of a Non-Retuinei will be auained.
If a Non-Returner continues with contemplation diligently,
progress will be gained by stages. Thus, when the knowledge of
equanimi[ is auained, tle taste of Dlamma will be exuemely
deligltful. If one iemains contented witl tle deliglt deiived nom
tlis agieeable knowledge of equanimi[, one may be said to lave
been suicken witl deliglt in tle Dlamma. If tlat deliglt is contem-
plated ordinarily without being able to reject it, no further progress
will be aclieved. Sucl a ¡eison, ahei deatl, will be ieboin in tle
Pure Abodes (Suddhavāsa brahmāloka), laving failed to auain tle ¡atl
of Arahantship n this lifetime. Referring to this, it has been taught
as: “Tenava dhamma rāgena tāya dhammanandīyā opapātiko hoti tahā
Tle above conveys tle meaning tlat because of auaclment to
tle insiglt knowledge of equanimi[ and clinging desiie, iebiitl
takes ¡lace in tle Puie Abodes. Ahei becoming an Aialant in tlis
abode, wlen tle life-s¡an ex¡iies, one will auain final cessation
(parinibbāna). Tlis is tle Teacling tlat ex¡lains low tle auainment
of Arahantship has been hindered in the present existence because
of tlis “¡iece of flesl,” called sensual deliglt. It slould slould,
tleiefoie, be iejected. Tle ex¡iession “ieject tle ¡iece of flesl” means
reject sensual delight. This is was elucidated by the Buddha himself.
The statement “reject sensual delight” has been explained by the
Commentary, which says the meaning is: “Total rejection of sensual
deliglt is made by auaining tle ¡atl of Aialantsli¡.” Hence, tle
mouo says: “Wlat is tle ¡iece of flesl' It is luman ¡assion, wlicl
arouses sensual delight.”
The Dragon
If anyone advances in the progress of insight, by rejecting this
sensual deliglt, tley will auain tle Patl and Fiuition of Aialantsli¡
and become an Aialant com¡letely nee nom sensual deliglt. On
becoming an Aialant, extinct nom all kinds of defilements, one is
deemed to have come across the dragon. In reply to the question put
as: “What is meant by the dragon (ka nāgo)?” the Buddha replied:
“Nāgo’ti kho bhikkhu, khīṇāsavassetaṃ bhikkhuno adhivacanaṃ.”
Worship the Dragon 95
The gist of the above answer is: “Bhikkhu! The dragon (nāga)
refers to an Arahant.” The statement that a dragon is found, conveys
tle meaning tlat laving auained Aialantsli¡ one becomes an
Aialant. As one las ¡eisonally found tle diagon as an Aialant nee
nom all defilements, tle Buddla is cleaily known to lim as a genuine
Arahant. It would, therefore, be tantamount to meeting the Buddha.
Having ¡eisonally got iid of all defiling luman ¡assions, one knows
for certain and becomes elated that the Buddha taught this Dhamma
witl lis su¡ieme wisdom gained nom ¡eisonal ex¡eiience as an
Enligltened One wlo las esca¡ed all feueis. Tlis is low tle Buddla
oi tle diagon is found. Tle mouo is: “Wlat is tle diagon' It is tle
Arahant who has exterminated the human passions, which includes
sensual pleasures, desire for existence, ignorance, and wrong views.
Tlis is tle end of tle Suua, so let us iecite tle last answei to
iemembei: “Tle watei-suainei iefeis to tle lindiances, tle toitoise
to tle aggiegates, sensual ¡assions to tle clo¡¡ing-boaid, flesl
means sensual delight; and the dragon refers to the Arahant.”
Worship the Dragon
Wlen tle ‘diagon’ was found, tle Bialmaṇa Teaclei lad said
as to what should be done. He had stated as follows:
“Tiṭṭhatu nāgo, mā nāgaṃ ghaṭṭesi; namo karohi nāgassā’ti.”
This means: “Let the dragon stay where it lies. Do not disturb or
harm this dragon. The dragon should be revered and worshipped.”
It means tlat ahei becoming an Aialant, tleie is notling moie to
be done and nothing else to be rejected.
How to Worship the Dragon
What is meant by the statement: “The dragon should be revered
and worshipped.” It means: “As one had become an Arahant, one
had actually found the Buddha.” Therefore, worship the Omniscient
Buddha, since he, as an Arahant himself had found the dragon.
Arahants ardently and willingly revere the Buddha without anyone’s
advice or encouragement. All who meditate have the utmost
reverence for the Buddha, having tasted the delights of the Dhamma.
How to woisli¡ tle Buddla is tauglt in tle Cūḷasaccaka Suua of
tle Mūla Paṇṇāsa, Majjlimanikāya.
96 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
“Buddho so bhagavā bhodāya dhammaṃ deseti.”
Marvellous indeed is the Buddha, really worthy of reverence
and refuge, who having fully realised the Four Noble Truths has
tauglt all beings tle uutl of tle noble Dlamma witl lis univeisal
love, boundless compassion, and all-knowing wisdom. The Buddha
taught and prescribed the way to escape the miseries of existence by
expounding the Four Noble Truths in detail, citing various examples
and illusuations, wlicl will be ex¡lained in biief.
Contemplate at every moment all phenomena occurring at the
six sense-doois, aiising nom tle six ¡eice¡tions, six [¡es of
consciousness, six kinds of contact, and six feelings. This is the essence
of tle Ti¡iṭaka. Tle senses aiising nom tle six doois oi a¡eituies —
the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind —
slould all be contem¡lated. Eacl dooi las five auibutes. Six times
five is tlii[. If tlese tlii[ dlammas aie contem¡lated to know tle
uutl, tle Patl of Aialantsli¡ will be ieacled, leading ultimately to
tle auainment of nibbāna. Concisely tauglt, tlis would be com¡ie-
hensive enough. If taught in such an abbreviated form, some people
may not be able to com¡ielend. Tle Ti¡iṭaka — tle tliee baskets of
the Canon — are voluminous. With great compassion, the Buddha
taught throughout his life, taking great pains to save mankind. This
is the way in which Arahants worship the Blessed One. Let us bear
in mind tlat we lave iealise tle uutl of tle Dlamma by adleiing
to and practising all that has been taught, and thus we will pay our
heartfelt homage to the Buddha.
Tle Blessed One would lave avoided gieat uouble and laidsli¡
if he had remained without teaching and proclaiming the Dhamma,
ahei auaining Enligltenment. If le lad absoibed limself in jhāna
and tle auainment of nuition (phala samāpai), he would have found
ecstatic delight. However, without seeking his own happiness by
iemaining in a uance, le tauglt tle Dlamma tiielessly tliouglout
a ¡eiiod of foi[-five yeais foi tle welfaie and la¡¡iness of many.
Let us, therefore, revere the Buddha again with our immense
gratitude and recite as follows:
“Buddho so bhagavā bhodāya dhammaṃ deseti.”
The Blessed One in whose refuge mankind has found respite and
shelter, having fully realised the Four Noble Truths in an analytical
How to Worship the Dragon 97
way, has taught the Four Noble Truths out of great compassion, with
infinite wisdom and foiesiglt to enable all beings to see tle liglt of
the Dhamma.
Tleie aie five neatly ¡liased com¡liments to be boine in mind
in the way of worshipping the Buddha:
1. Tle Buddla gained iealisation by lis own unaided effoit and
he taught all beings the universal principles of the Dhamma.
2. Having limself iejected all defilements, tle Buddla tamed
other beings by his teachings showing them the way to
entertain right thoughts.
3. Tle Buddla, laving ieacled a state of ¡eifect mental uanquil-
i[, being endowed witl noble-mindedness, le tauglt all
beings to become knowledgeable, gentle, and calm like him.
4. Tle Buddla, laving esca¡ed nom tle wliil¡ool in tle ocean
of saṃsāra, tauglt all beings low to gain libeiation nom tle
miseiies of existence, and low to ieacl tle fai sloie of nibbāna
on the other side of the vast ocean of saṃsāra.
5. The Buddha, having personally and fully extinguished the
fiies of lust and defilements, tauglt tle Dlamma to mankind
to enable them to extinguish the burning defilements, wlicl
have encompassed them in their worldly lives. Relating to the
above, tle fiist is ex¡iessed in tle following ¡liase:
“Buddho so bhagavā bodhāya dhammaṃ deseti.”
And the second runs as follows:
“Danto so bhagavā damathāya dhammaṃ deseti.”
These who practise in compliance with the teachings of the Buddha
become moie cultuied and iefined, commensuiate witl tleii abili[
to ¡iactise witl diligence. Tlis is tle benefit deiived nom tle Buddlist
way of life and culture. In the way of personal behaviour and speech,
¡eo¡le can become elegant, gentle, and noble. Tle iule of moial uaining
is sucl tlat tley will ienain nom killing oi ill-ueating otlei living
things. Verbally too, they will avoid speaking falsehood and causing
vexation to others. Thus, they will become highly cultured and civilised.
Tlis falls witlin tle ambit of moiali[. Wlen it comes to tle iealm of
concenuation, if one ieally ¡iactises tle Dlamma diligently, no ill-will
or resentment can take hold. In the domain of wisdom, if one practises
98 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
seiiously, tle seeds of tle defilements will not geiminate. Passionate
desires like greed or anger will not even arise.
In ancient times, before the emergence of the Buddha, the people
may be said to lave been iatlei ¡iimitive and uncoutl nom tle ¡oint
of view of Buddlist cultuie, because luman ¡assions weie unconuolled
and nee to ioam. Accoiding to tle scii¡tuies, tle Buddla’s teacling
lad s¡iead to Buima duiing tle time of King Tlīii Dlammāsoka
(Em¡eioi Asoka), 236 yeais ahei tle parinibbāna of the Buddha. At that
time when religious missions were sent out to proclaim the Dhamma
to nine counuies, Suvaṇṇablūmi was one of tle ¡laces tle missionaiies
visited. Tle majoii[ aie of tle o¡inion tlat Suvaṇṇablūmi is tle town
of Thaton in the Union of Burma. However, some scholars say that it
was tle island of Sumaua in Indonesia. It is obvious tlat tle Buddla’s
teacling once flouiisled in Tlaton disuict. It a¡¡eais to lave s¡iead
to Tlaton in Buima nom Sumaua. In tlose days, one Veneiable Soṇa
and Veneiable Uuaia came to Buima as missionaiies. It seems tlat
Buima las inleiited tle Buddlist cultuie nom tlat time onwaids.
Befoie tlat eia, ¡eo¡le in Buima weie undei-develo¡ed nom tle ¡oint
of view of civilization and culture, and therefore, they must be deemed
to lave become cultivated and ¡olisled only ahei yeai 236 of tle
Buddhist Era. It was then present only in Lower Burma. According to
the history of Burma, about the year 940-950 B.E.,� when upper Burma
was undei tle ieign of tle famous King Anawiatlā, Slin Aialan was
invited by the King for the promulgation of the Buddha’s teaching
(wlicl latei lad s¡iung u¡ nom Pagan). Buddlist cultuie must be
said to lave become flouiisled in Buima since tlen.
It is vital to preserve and maintain the Buddhist culture inherited
nom tle Buddla’s dis¡ensation, wlicl las been landed down to us
nom oui foiefatleis. If we fail to ¡iactise tle Dlamma, tlis iefined
culture will dwindle, and if this teaching fades away, the people, not
knowing the Buddha and his Dhamma, will come to ruin through
indulging in all manner of vices and evil deeds. Such an unfortunate
outcome would be disasuous foi tle Buimese cultuie.
About five yeais ago, I went to Indonesia on a ieligious mission.
Buddlism lad once flouiisled tleie, and uaces of it could still be
seen. At some latei date, witl tle inuoduction of tleii own ieligion
by tle Muslims iuling tlat counuy, it las become an Islamic State.
� Burmese Era, 1014–1077 C.E.
How to Worship the Dragon 99
There are now only a few Buddhists in Indonesia. During my
stay, ahei laving obseived tle activities of tle ¡eo¡le tleie, I
la¡¡ened to iecollect a ieligious ¡iece of wiiting, a ¡assage exuacted
nom tle Dlamma, wlicl iuns as quoted below:
“Buddho loke samuppanno hitayā sabba paninaṃ.”
“Tle Buddla a¡¡eaied in tle woild foi tle benefit of all
Now that over 2,500 years have elapsed. The Indonesian people
did not seem to have any knowledge of the birth of the Buddha.
Generally, even in villages within Burma, though the inhabitants are
all Buddhists, it occurs to me that the Buddha’s teaching in these
Burmese villages and hamlets could one day sink into oblivion. If
tlis slould la¡¡en, tle state of affaiis will be ieally ¡itiable.
We should, therefore, remain on guard with constant vigilance
to ¡iotect tle Buddlist cultuie nom deteiioiation and desuuction.
Tle metlod of ¡iotection is to ¡eisonally ¡iactise moiali[, concenua-
tion, and wisdom. In ¡aiticulai, effoits slould be made to ¡iactise
meditation to ieacl tle stage of a Sueam-winnei. It is also necessaiy
to encourage to all future generations — your children, grandchildren,
and great grandchildren — to continue practising meditation in order
to preserve and prolong this noble heritage of the Buddhist culture.
The Buddha, in whom we all take refuge, having eliminated all
defilements, and become fully knowledgeable and liglly cultuied,
las slown us tle way witl lis ¡eneuating foiesiglt and dee¡
wisdom to get libeiated nom tle defilements in tle same way tlat
he himself succeeded in doing.
“Santo so Bhagavā samathāya dhammaṃ deseti”
The Blessed One, on whom reliance has been and is being made
by all of us, laving gained ¡eace and uanquili[ of mind by geuing
rid of human passions and sensual desires, and having had a
benevolent desiie wisling all otlei beings to auain mental ¡eace
and calmness, has taught and taught us nobly to see the Truth of the
Dhamma by invoking his noble wisdom which serves as a forerunner.
“Tiṇṇo so Bhagavā taraṇāya dhammaṃ deseti.”
100 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
The Blessed One, in whom we all have to seek refuge, having
crossed the wide and deep ocean of saṃsāra, and reached the far
sloie of nibbāna, las tauglt tle Dlamma witl gieat com¡assion
and ¡iofound wisdom to enable lumani[ to esca¡e nom all miseiies
and cross the ocean of saṃsāra.
All beings aie diihing in tle iaging toiient of saṃsāra. This
toiiential flood consists of foui floods: kāmogha, bhāvogha, diṭṭhogha,
and avijjhogha. Kāmogha is tle flood of sensual desiie. A wliil¡ool
oi flood can diown a ¡eison. Tle same fate will befall someone wlo
gets dragged into the whirlpool of sensual desire. If that person can
¡eifoim tle meiitoiious deeds of claii[ (dāna), moiali[ (sīla), etc.,
he or she might have some relief by being reborn in the fortunate
destinies (sugati) of heaven or the human world. If not, having
commiued evil deeds by iesoiting to killing oi injuiing living beings,
stealing, cleating oi naud, le oi sle will be ieboin in tle foui lowei
realms. This is being sucked into the whirlpool or swept away by
the current of sensual desire.
Those who have performed meritorious deeds in the present
existence will be ieboin in tle luman oi celestial woilds ahei deatl,
where they will again have to undergo the same miseries of old age,
sickness, and death, as well as encountering various kinds of physical
and mental disuess. Tlis is being swe¡t along in tle sueam of sensual
desire towards the fortunate destinations in the sensual planes.
Bhavogha means clinging and auaclment to ¡leasant existences
of the realms of form and the formless realms of the brahmā realms.
In these existences too, death will eventually take place. This amounts
to succumbing to death by drowning in the ever raging torrent of
Diṭṭhogha is tle flood of wiong view(micchādiṭṭhi).
Avijjhogha indicates the acceptance of the erroneous concept of
¡eimanence, la¡¡iness, and self oi ego, instead of tle uue natuie
of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self. Because of this
ignorance (avijjā) and wrong view (micchādiṭṭhi), one will go down
to the four lower realms with the consequence of misery and all kinds
of suffeiing. Even in tle woild of luman beings and gods, one will
come acioss manifold suffeiing. In tle brahmā realm too, death is
inevitable. Therefore, this is nothing but killing a being by drowning
lim in tle toiiential floods called ‘avijjā’ and ‘diṭṭhi.’
Conclusion 101
Tle Buddla tauglt tlis noble Dlamma to save all beings nom
the ocean of saṃsāra, in wlicl tley aie diihing, to ieacl a safe zone,
tle deatlless nibbāna. Tleiefoie, tle Buddla las exloited us — all
mankind — to take refuge in the Dhamma and work out our own
salvation with diligence.
“Parinibbuto so bhagavā parinibbānāya dhammaṃ deseti.”
Tle Blessed One, wlo is uuly woitly of ieveience by all of us,
having eliminated all human passions, has taught all mankind and
shown us the Light of Dhamma with great compassion and profound
wisdom to iendei benefit to all living beings enabling tlem to
extinguisl all defilements.
Now tle ex¡lanation of tle Vammika Suua las been com¡ielen-
sively coveied. As stated in tle Suua, Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a,
ahei exteiminating luman ¡assions, lad become an Aialant. Some
time latei, Veneiable Kumāia Kassa¡a was given tle ¡ie-eminent
title of “Etadagga,” extolling him as the noblest and the most learned
monk among his disciples who could preach the Dhamma in a most
distinctive way.
“Seeing a big ant-lill, smoking by niglt, and ejecting flames
by day, tle noble teaclei insuucted lis intelligent ¡u¡il to
investigate. On digging it with a hoe, he discovered a bolt,
a toad, a junction, a watei-suainei, a toitoise, a cleavei, a
clo¡¡ing-boaid, a ¡iece of flesl, and a diagon, making a
total of fiheen iiddles.”
1. The ant-hill refers to the body; smoking by night to imagination;
ejecting flames by day to ¡eifoiming actions, tle noble teaclei is tle
Buddha; the intelligent pupil is the meditator.
2. The hoe refers to knowledge; digging to exertion; the bolt is
ignorance; the toad refers to anger; the junction to doubt. It is for you
to know all about yourself.
3. Tle watei-suainei is tle lindiances, tle toitoise is tle
aggregates; sensual desires are the chopping-board; sensual delight
is tle ¡iece of flesl, and tle diagon is tle Aialant, and tlis is foi
you to learn by heart.
102 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
The Beneficial Results of Insight
If impermanence is seen, then unsatisfactoriness is obvious. If
unsatisfactoiiness is ieflected u¡on, tle ¡eice¡tion of not-self
becomes cleai. Wlen not-self is ievealed it leads into tle sueam to
nibbāna, wlicl if iealised, biings ceitain libeiation nom tle foui
lowei iealms of suffeiing.
May all those good and pious people who form this congregation,
by viitue of laving given devoted auention to tlis discouise on tle
Vammika Suua, be foievei nee nom all dangeis and disastei. May
tley be able to ¡iactise insiglt meditation diligently as insuucted in
tlis Suua. Ahei ¡assing tliougl tle diffeient stages of insiglt
knowledge u¡ to ¡atl knowledge, may tley soon auain tle bliss of
nibbāna and be fully emanci¡ated nom all miseiies and suffeiings.
Sādhu Sādhu Sādhu
aggregate of consciousness
(viññāṇakkhandhā), 85
aggregate of feeling
(vedanakkhandhā), 85
aggregate of mental formations
(saṅkhārakkhandhā), 85
air element (vāyodhātu), 25-28, 38,
46, 73-75, 80
Analytical Knowledge of Body and
Mind (nāma-rūpa-pariccheda
ñāṇa), 84
anger (vyāpāda), 83
annihilationism(ucchedadiṭṭhi), 80
ant-hill (vammika), 1-6, 20-21, 23-25,
27, 30, 33, 40, 46, 47, 59, 63, 101
auainment (samāpai), 49
auainment of nuition (phala
samāpai), 97
awareness of fearfulness (bhaya-
ñāṇa), 90
bliss of liberation (vimuisukha), 52
body hairs (loma), 21
bolt (laṅgiṃ), 3-5, 40, 48, 54, 55, 57,
58, 62, 66, 101
cessation of perception and feeling
(nirodhasamāpai), 56, 57
characteristic (lakkhaṇa), 72
claii[ (dāna), 8, 39, 82, 100
chopping-board (sūnā), 5, 6, 40, 90,
95, 101
cleaver (asi), 5, 6, 90, 91, 101
compassion (karuṇā), vii, 8, 41, 45,
60, 62, 96-97, 100, 101
concept (paññai), 72, 73
contemplation of consciousness
(citānupassanā), 37, 64
contemplation of feelings
(vedanānupassanā), 37
conundrums (paheḷi), 5
death (maccunā), 9
digestion (pācakatejo), 26
dispensation (sāsana), 6, 7, 13, 32,
45, 50, 99
disuict (janapadaniruiṃ), 5
doubt (vicikicchā), 63
dragon (nāga), 5-6, 40, 95-97, 99, 101
dry-visioned Arahant (sukkha-vi-
passaka), 10
earth element (paṭhavīdhātu), 6, 9,
21, 24-25, 27, 28, 30, 46, 75
emiuing smoke (dhūmāyanā), 2, 5,
20, 30, 40, 81
equanimous feeling (upekkhā
vedanā), 85
eternalism(sassatadiṭṭhi), 79
Expelling Bright Flames (pajjalanā),
fever (santappatejo), 26
final cessation (parinibbāna), 12, 19,
94, 98
fiie element (tejodhātu), 25-28, 75
fiie of decay (jīraṇatejo), 26
fiist ¡eison (amhayoga), 55
five aggiegates, 40, 72, 83, 85-86, 89
five aggiegates of gias¡ing
(upādānakkhandhā), 52
five lindiances (pañca-nīvaraṇa),
five suands of sensual ¡leasuies
(kāmaguṇa), 90
five woikeis (karaka maggaṅga), 39
formless realm(arūpaloka), 57
104 Index
fortunate destinies (sugati), 100
function (rasa), 72, 76
function of movement”
(samudīraṇa-rasa), 74
head hairs (kesa), 21
heart-base, 78
hoe (kuddāla), 46
huge army (mahāsena), 9
ignorance (avijjā), 40, 48, 54, 58, 66,
67, 81, 95, 101, 102
impermanence (anicca), 88
knowledge of adaptation (anuloma-
ñāṇa), 89
knowledge of arising and passing
away (udayabbaya-ñāṇa), 90
knowledge of desire for deliver-
ance (muñcitu kamyatā-ñāṇa), 91
knowledge of disgust (nibbidā
ñāṇa), 91
knowledge of dissolution (bhaṅga-
ñāṇa), 90
knowledge of equanimi[ about
formations (saṅkhārupekkhā
ñāṇa), 91
knowledge of Fruition (phala
ñāṇa), 7, 19, 44, 53, 54, 84, 91, 94,
knowledge of misery (ādīnava
ñāṇa), 90
knowledge of previous existences
(pubbenivāsa-ñāṇa), 52
knowledge of re-observation
(paṭisaṅkhā-ñāṇa), 91
knowledge of the Path (magga
ñāṇa), 19, 91
Law of Dependent Origination
(paṭiccasamuppāda), 52
league (yojana), 18
learning (sutamayapaññā), 48
loving-kindness (meā), 41
manifestation (paccupaṭṭhāna), 72
mateiiali[ (rūpa), 20, 27, 35, 53, 72-
meditation experience (paṭipai),
mental formations (cetasikā), 76, 83
mentali[ (nāma), 73, 75, 87
mind-made (manomaya), 57
mindfulness of breathing, 13
moiali[ (sīla), 8, 12, 33, 34, 39, 42-
45, 56, 81, 98, 99
moving (samudīraṇa), 74
neither perception nor non-percep-
tion (nevasaññā-nāsaññāyatana),
49, 51
Non-returner (anāgāmi), 11-13, 17,
not-self (anaa), 88
nothingness (ākiñcaññāyatana), 50
on good terms (saṅgaraṃ), 9
only path (ekāyano maggo), 40
passion (rāga), 90
passion for the dhamma (dhamma-
rāga), 91
Path (magga), 39
path factors (maggaṅga), 38
patience (khantī), 63
Index 105
perfections (pāramī), 6, 11, 13, 40,
45, 68
¡iece of flesl (maṃsapesi), 5, 6, 28,
40, 92-94, 101
pleasant feeling (sukha-vedanā), 85
proximate cause (padaṭṭhāna), 72
psychic powers (iddhi), 10-11, 56
¡uii[ of mind (cia-visuddhi), 84
¡uii[ of moiali[ (sīla-visuddhi), 84
rainy season (vassa), 1
rapture (pīti), 18, 93
realisable by oneself (sandiṭṭhiko),
reasoning (cintāmayapaññā), 48
recollection of death
(maraṇānussati), 8, 9
right action (sammākammanta), 34,
iiglt concenuation (sammā-
samādhi), 34, 38
iiglt effoit (sammāvāyama), 34
right exertion (sammappadhānaṃ),
8, 47, 48, 69
right livelihood (sammā-ājīva), 34,
right mindfulness (sammāsati), 38
right speech (sammāvācā), 34, 38,
right thought (sammāsaṅkappa), 34,
right view(sammādiṭṭhi), 34
scriptural learning (pariyai), 56
self (aa), 26, 79, 89, 101
sensual delight (nandīrāgasa), 92-
94, 102
soul (aa), 69
s¡eedily auaining knowledge
(khippābhiññānaṃ), 19
suive witl leedfulness
(appamādena sampādehā), 35
Suddlavāsa, 12, 13, 17, 19, 94
supernormal powers (abhiññā), 8
supernormal vision (dibbacakkhu), 52
Teacher of gods and men
(sahādeva manussānaṃ), 41
third person (namayoga), 55
tlii[-two body ¡aits (koṭṭhāsa), 21
toad that swells (uddhumāyika)
when touched, 3-4, 6, 40, 59-61,
63, 67, 81, 101
toe-nail (nakhapiṭṭhi), 4
tortoise (kummo), 5, 40, 85-87, 89, 93,
95, 101
uaining (sikkhā), 33, 43, 98
uanscendent (lokuara), 46
ultimate realities (paramaha), 65,
73, 74
unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), 39, 87-
88, 93, 101, 102
unwholesome action (akusala
kamma), 39
water element (āpodhātu), 5, 25-28,
30, 75
wholesome action (kusala kamma),
with immediate result (akāliko), 69
world cycle, 51
world cycle (kappa), 51
world of beings (saaloka), 32
worldlings (puthujjana), 21, 88
worldly (lokiya), 46
wrong view(micchādiṭṭhi), 100
106 A Discourse on the Vammika Sua
Index of Proper Names
Āḷāia Kālāma, 49-51, 53
Aiiyāvāsa Suua, 33, 56, 57
Bladdekaiaua Suua, 8
Blikkluṇī Somā, 58
Blind Men’s Grove (Andhavana), 20
Bāliya Dāiuciiiya, 14, 17, 19
Bāliya Suua, 19
Dabba, 12, 19
Dlātuviblaṅga Suua, 13
Hitopadesa, 15, 16
Kumāia Kassa¡a, vi, 1, 2, 6, 20, 31,
45, 81, 101
Mount Popa, 7
Niiodla Suua, 56
Pukkusāti, 13, 19
Puṇṇovāda Suua, 18
Sabhiya, 13, 19
Sati¡aṭṭlāna Suua, 35, 40, 57, 64, 70,
So¡¡āiaka, 14, 18
Suddlavāsa, 12, 13, 17, 19, 94
Suvaṇṇablūmi, 14
Sāvauli, 17, 18, 60
Taxila, 13
Uddaka, 51
Venerable Assaji, 68
Venerable Bhaddiya, 68
Veneiable Koṇḍañña, 68
Veneiable Ledi Sayādaw, 54-57, 71,
Veneiable Lāḷudāyī, 56
Veneiable Malānama, 68
Veneiable Tleelon Sayādaw, 72
Venerable Vappa, 68
Visuddhimagga, 37, 68, 72