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Buddhism In A Nutshell | Chapter 8

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  • The Law Of Dependent Origination [more]


Buddhism In A Nutshell

Buddhism In A Nutshell


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Buddhism In A Nutshell - Chapter 8



Paticca Samuppãda: The Law of Dependent Origination

Paticca means because of, or dependent upon; Samuppãda "arising or origination." Paticca Samuppãda, therefore, literally means Dependent Arising or Dependent Origination.

It must be borne in mind that Paticca Samuppãda is only a discourse on the process of birth and death and not a theory of the ultimate origin of life. It deals with the cause of rebirth and suffering, but it does not, in the least, attempt to show the evolution of the world from primordial matter.

Ignorance (avijjã) is the first link or cause of the wheel of life. It clouds all right understanding.

Dependent on ignorance of the Four Noble Truths arise activities (sankhãrã) - both moral and immoral. The activities whether good or bad rooted in ignorance which must necessarily have their due effects, only tend to prolong life's wandering. Nevertheless, good actions are essential to get rid of the ills of life.

Dependent on activities arises rebirth consciousness (viññana). This links the past with the present.

Simultaneous with the arising of rebirth-consciousness there come into being mind and body (nãma-rüpa).

The six senses (salãyatana) are the inevitable consequences of mind and body.

Because of the six senses contact (phassa) sets in. Contact leads to feeling (vedanã).

These five, viz., consciousness, mind and matter, six senses, contact and feeling are the effects of past actions and are called the passive side of life.

Dependent on feeling arises craving (tanhã). Craving results in grasping (upãdãna). Grasping is the cause of kamma (bhava) which in its turn, conditions future birth (jãti). Birth is the inevitable cause of old age and death (jarã-marana).

If on account of cause effect comes to be, then if the cause ceases, the effect also must cease.

The reverse order of the Paticca Samuppãda will make the matter clear.

Old age and death are possible in and with a psychophysical organism. Such an organism must be born; therefore it pre-supposes birth. But birth is the inevitable result of past deeds or kamma. Kamma is conditioned by grasping which is due to craving. Such craving can appear only where feeling exists. Feeling is the outcome of contact between the senses and objects. Therefore it presupposes organs of senses which cannot exist without mind and body. Where there is a mind there is consciousness. It is the result of past good and evil. The acquisition of good and evil is due to ignorance of things as they truly are.

The whole formula may be summed up thus:

Dependent on Ignorance arise Activities (Moral and Immoral).

Dependent on Activities arises Consciousness (Rebirth Consciousness).

Dependent on Consciousness arise Mind and Matter.

Dependent on Mind and Matter arise the Six Spheres of Sense.

Dependent on the Six Spheres of Sense arises Contact.

Dependent on Contact arises Feeling.

Dependent on Feeling arises Craving.

Dependent on Craving arises Grasping.

Dependent on Grasping arise Actions (Kamma)

Dependent on Actions arises Rebirth.

Dependent on Birth arise Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair.

Thus does the entire aggregate of suffering arise. The first two of these twelve pertain to the past, the middle eight to the present, and the last two to the future.

The complete cessation of Ignorance leads to the cessation of Activities.

The cessation of Activities leads to the cessation of Consciousness.

The cessation of Consciousness leads to the cessation of Mind and Matter.

The cessation of Mind and matter leads to the cessation of the Six Spheres of Sense.

The cessation of the Six Spheres of Sense leads to the cessation of Contact.

The cessation of Contact leads to the cessation of Feeling.

The cessation of Feeling leads to the cessation of Craving.

The cessation of Craving leads to the cessation of Grasping.

The cessation of Grasping leads to the cessation of Actions.

The cessation of Actions leads to the cessation of Rebirth.

The cessation of Rebirth leads to the cessation of Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair.

Thus, does the cessation of this entire aggregate of suffering result.

This process of cause and effect continues ad infinitum. The beginning of this process cannot be determined as it is impossible to say whence this life-flux was encompassed by nescience. But when this nescience is turned into knowledge, and the life-flux is diverted into Nibbana-dhatu (the Element of Nibbana), then the end of the life process or samsãra comes about.

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