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 11 - Story Of Baka Brahma

The first thing to do to end the life cycle is to remove its root cause viz., ignorance, for ignorance is invariably followed by sankhara, vinnana, etc., down to jaramarana (old age and death). This is true in the sensual worlds as well as in the material world of Brahmas.

Once there was a great Brahma called Baka. He outlived many world systems (kappa); indeed he lived so long that at last he forgot his previous existences and became convinced of his immortality without old age or death. The Buddha went to his abode to remove his illusion. The Brahma welcomed the Lord and bragged about his eternal life. The Buddha said that his ignorance was appalling in that he denied impermanence, old age and death. He revealed the good deeds that had led to the Brahmas longevity and it was this fabulous longevity that had made him oblivious of his previous lives and created the illusion of his immortality. On hearing this, Baka Brahma had second thoughts about his omnipotence. Still, he was conceited and in order to show his power, he tried to vanish out of sight of the Buddha and other Brahmas but it was in vain. Because of the power of the Lord, he remained visible.

Then the Buddha uttered the following verse:

Bhavevaham bhayam disva bhavan ja vibhavesinam bhavam nabhivadim kinci nandincana upadiyim:

I do not extol any existence because I see danger in it. I have renounced the craving for existence because I am aware of its evil.

Baka Brahma and other Brahmas had lived so long that they considered their existence and their abode eternal. Likewise, the evils of life escape the notice of those who have the blessings of a good life such as health, wealth, prestige, success and so forth. But life is subject to suffering on all its three planes: sensual plane, material plane and immaterial plane. A Brahma or a rishi on the material or immaterial planes of existence may live for aeons but they too have to die eventually.

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