A Discourse on Paticcasamuppada

by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw | 62,614 words

The Paticcasamuppada refers to “The Doctrine of Dependent Origination”. This is the English translation done by U Aye Maung Published by U Min Swe Buddhasasana Nuggaha Organization Rangoon, Burma....

Chapter 1 - Tanha Causes Upadana

From craving there arises clinging (upadana). The Pali term upadana is a compound of //upa// - intense, extreme, and //adana// - grasp, take, and so it means to grasp firmly, or intense, obsessive craving. Clinging is of four kinds: (1) clinging to sensuous objects, (2) clinging to false views, (3) clinging to irrelevant, non Ariyan practices as the way to salvation, and (4) clinging to atta or ego belief.

(1) Clinging to sensual objects:

Sensual objects excite the desire of all living beings who are not free from the craving for sensual pleasure. These objects are five in number viz., visual form, sound, odour, taste and contact.

Visual form is the object that is pleasant and attractive to the eye. It may possess natural beauty or it may appear to be beautiful in the eyes of the viewer. Pleasant visual form, whether real or apparent, is to be found in men, women and consumer goods. It is the physical appearance of females that attracts the males and vice versa. The things that both men and women desire are clothes, jewellery, cars, etc. It is not merely the form or colour that excites desire. Man and woman are drawn towards each other not only by the complexion but by the whole body of the opposite sex, and the same may be said of consumer goods that make people greedy. Form or colour only serves to introduce or identify the object of desire just as the cry of an animal helps the hunter to track and find it out.

Sound as the object of sensual pleasure is represented by the voices of men and women, songs or music. Some sounds and voices are really sweet while some only appear to be sweet in our ears. Again, it is not the mere sound that attracts us for when we delight in hearing a sound or a voice, the whole thing or the being that produces it forms the focus of our attachment.

Odour as the source of sensual pleasure comprises all kinds of scents: scent of flavours, powder, fragrant essence. Men and women apply these odoriferous substances to their bodies and delight in these scents, and it is not the scents alone but the whole physical body giving out the scent that attracts people.

The sensual pleasure that we have by eating or drinking is rooted in food and drinks. The good or pleasant taste may be real or apparent. For pigs, dogs and other animals, garbage, refuse and filth may be a source of sensual pleasure. Some people are very fond of bitter or spicy food. Some like intoxicants. Their pleasure is more apparent than real since normal ordinary people do not share their tastes. The pleasure of eating is not confined to food; it centres also on the preparation of food and the man or woman who prepares it. This is evident in the pleasure of a man who enjoys eating the food prepared by his wife although her culinary skill may not impress other people.

Another source of sensual pleasure is the body or tactile impression. Soft and smooth beds, comfortable clothing, something warm in cold season and something cold in hot season, the body of the opposite sex - all these form the objects of contact that create not only the craving for the tactile impression but also the craving for the whole body of the living or non living object. The tactile impression only serves to pave the way for attachment to the whole body.

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