The Doctrine of Paticcasamuppada

by U Than Daing | 1996 | 18,306 words

This book deals with Paticcasamuppada (‘dependent origination’): a Pali compound consisting of three words: 1) Patticca, which means “because” and “dependent upon”, 2) Sam, which means “well”, 3) and Uppada, which means “arising of effect through cause”. So dependent on ‘cause’ there arises ‘effect’; hence it is known in English as “Law of Depe...

Chapter 3 - Khandha Paticcasamuppada

(present Aspect)

The Late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw had expounded the Khandha Paticcasamuppada for the benefit of the intending Yogis. This can be called a short cut to the contemplation or meditation work for the Yogis because it teaches the present aspects of the working of the doctrine. In other words it enables a Yogi to understand the Khandhas, their beginning, their causes and dissolution.

In Pali it runs thus -

Cakkhunca Paticca Rupeca Uppajjati Cakkhu Vinnanam

Tinnam Sangati Phasso,
Phassa Paccaya Vedana,
Vedana Paccaya Tanha,
Tanha Paccaya Upadanam,
Upadanam Paccaya Bhavo,
Bhava Paccaya Jati,
Jati Paccaya Jara Marina Soka Parideva Dukkha Domanassa Upayasa Sambhavanti Evametassa Kevalassa Dukkhakhandhassa Samudayohoti

Sotanca Patticca Saddheca Uppajjati Sota Vinnanam.
Ghananca Paticca Gandheca Uppajjati Ghana Vinnanam.
Jivanca Paticca Raseca Uppajjati Jiva Vinnanam.
Kayanca Paticca Photthabbeca Dhammeca Uppajjati Mano Vinnanam Tinnam .. Samudayohoti

“Cakkhunca” means eye, “Rupeca” means “visible objects”, when the impingement of two phenomena takes place there arises Cakkhu Vinnanam (eye consciousness). It is to be noted that there is, only the arising of eye consciousness in which there is no I, He or She, who sees. There is no seer. There is no I, He or She in the eye or in the visible object. There is neither I, He, nor She in the eye consciousness. Eye consciousness is only eye consciousness, no more or no less and this eye consciousness should not be confused with I, He or She or it must not be personified.

The combination of eye, visible object and eye consciousness gives rise to contact (phassa) and depending on contact there arises Vedana, and in Vedana there is no I, He, She or You.

- Because of Vedana there arises Tanha, and because of Tanha there arises Upadna (grasping or clinging) and depending on Upadna there arises Kaya Kamma (physical action), Vaci Kamma (verbal action) and Mano Kamma (thought or mental action).

- Depending on Kammabhava there arises Jati (rebirth). By Jati it may imply. Apaya Jati (birth in woeful existence) (Nakhasikha Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya.)

- Depending on Jati there arises Jara marana, old age, decay, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despain. Thus there arises the whole mass of suffering.

“Sotanca paticca saddeca uppajjati” means ear and audible object cause the arising of Sota Vinnana. Similarly Ghananca Paticca, Jivanca paticca, Kayanca Paticca, Mananca Paticca should be under stood with their respective sense doors and objects.

The aforementioned is the Khandha Paticca Samuppada as expounded by the late Maha Thera Sayadaw.

For the purpose of clarification and lucidity, it will be better explained in conventional parlance.

When 'A' sees a beautiful object, he desires: he clings and he makes an effort to obtain. For example, he sees a beautiful object, he wants to have it: this is Tanha because it is the desire to own and he is overwhelmed by the intense desire to possess and clings to it: this is Upadna. Again he makes all sorts of efforts, i.e. mental, verbal and physical, this is Kammabhava.

The reader is advised to refer to the Diagram and recite the Pali text.

Kammabhava paccaya Jati means depending on Kammabhava there arises Jati. 'Jati paccaya Jara Marana soka parideva dukkha domanassa upayasa sambhavanti' means because of Jati there arise old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Thus the train of Paticcasamuppada evolves or in other words this is the evolutionary process of a single train of Paticcasamuppada which is nothing but the arising and disappearing of khandhas and these very Khandhas are nothing but Dukkha itself or the whole train or series of Dukkha.

It will be obvious to the thoughtful reader how many times in a day do we partake ourselves in his ceaseless process of arising of Tanha, Upadana and Kammabhava or in conventional parlance, we see, we desire and we are overwhelmed by the intense craving and attachment, and for this we commit three kinds of actions, i.e. mental, verbal and physical. In the same manner when we hear something, if we like or enjoy it, it is Tanha, and when we are overwhelmed by the intense craving, it is Upadana, and when we commit three kinds of actions, this is called Kammabhava. The same analogy applies to smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.

Consciously or unconsciously we fall into these processes from sunrise until we fall asleep.

The reader should at least turn his attention to the fact that Paticcasamuppada is nothing but his own line of actions and focus his thought once again on Khandhas and see weather his line of action is categorically within this Causal Law and in accordance with the doctrine of Paticcasamuppada.

If he thinks it is time to bring to a stop his line of actions in accordance with Paticcasamuppada there is the way to get out of Samsara. If he continues to carry on as usual the cycle of Paticcasamuppada will go on and continue its relentless, process of sorrow, suffering, lamentation and despair and the whole mass of Dukkha (suffering).

When there is impact of 'eye' and 'visible object' there arises 'eye consciousness'. Yogis are advised to observe the 'eye consciousness' whether it still remains, passes away, or vanishes. It will be seen after observation that the same eye consciousness has already passed away or disappeared when it was observed by the observing consciousness. It will be obvious to the observer that the eye consciousness was no more to be found because its arising was momentary.

In like manner, whenever there arises eye consciousness or ear consciousness or nose consciousness or tongue consciousness or body consciousness or thought consciousness, the arising must be observed by the next observing consciousness (Knowledge). It is to be borne in mind that when the observing consciousness arises the arising of the eye consciousness or whatever consciousness has already vanished and disappeared because two parallel lines of consciousness never exist.

'Annam Uppajjate cittan, Annam Cittan Nirujjati'.

This means only one consciousness can arise at a time. Therefore, the Yogis are advised to observe or contemplate that whatever Khandha arises, be it Rupa, Vedana, Sanna, Sankhara or Vinnana (consciousness) the arising is only momentary because it arises to disappear or pass away. This is exactly what your, our Khandhas are undergoing. Every arising is momentary. Old Khandha vanishes giving rise to anew and the same process goes on ad infinitum.

Should a Yogi miss observing or contemplating an eye consciousness, there will arise Tanha and if he misses again observing or contemplating Tanha, there will follow inevitably Upadana (grasping or clinging). He should observe and contemplate on Upadana. If he fails to do so there will follow Kammabhava, and when it arises, Jati, Jara and Marana will inevitably follow. Hence the revolving of Paticcasamuppada ad infinitum.

Here is another illustration according to the Pali text:

'Sotanca paticca saddesa uppajjati Sota Vinnanam Tinnam Sanghati Phasso Phassa Paccaya Vedana ... hoti.'

One hears the call of his little son on his return from school. As soon as he hears it, he feels so anxious to see the son and moreover he is so anxious to hug him and caress and kiss him that he does all the fondling. He may think and say that he does all this because it is his own son and he loves him; there is no offence or sin against him because he does not transgress any moral law. The truth, however, is that the inexorable process of Paticcasamuppada has been going on and continuing its ceaseless cycle.

To elucidate how Paticcasamuppada starts revolving on hearing the voice of the young son returning from school is: - The voice of the young son is heard and as soon as the voice is heard there arises Tanha (craving) to see, fondle and caress him; because of the craving, there arises the overwhelming desire to fondle and caress the son.

This caressing and fondling is Kammabhava. 'Kammabhava Paccaya Jati'; because of Kammabhava birth arises. Reference to the connection between Section III and Section IV of the Diagram will show it. When Kammabhava (Kammic force) arises Jati is bound to follow. 'Kammabalam Sabbhannu Buddhapi PatibhahitumNasakkonti' , even the Buddhas are not able to stop the Kammic forces.

From dawn to dusk, the process goes on. When an attractive object is seen there arises Tanha (craving) and because of Tanha there arises Upadana; and because of Upadana Kammabhava (Kammic force) arises, and as such the whole train of the cycle of Paticcasamuppada goes on in its ceaseless revolution.

When a pleasant tune is heard there arises craving and because of craving there arises Upadana, Kammabhava, Jati, Jara, Marana and so on and the whole train of the cycle of Paticcasamuppada goes on in its relentless revolution. Similarly when one smells a pleasant odour, tastes a pleasant taste, touches a pleasant object and reflects a pleasant idea there arises a series of

  • Tanha,
  • Upadana,
  • Kammabhava,
  • Jati,
  • Jara,
  • Marana,
  • Soka,
  • Parideva,
  • Upayasa Dukkha Domanassa and the whole mass of sorrow and suffering.

If fact whenever a beautiful object, pleasant sound pleasant odour, pleasant taste, pleasant touch, pleasant idea enter through the six sense doors there certainly will arise Tanha and series of other factors. Such series of processes are nothing but Kilesa Vatta which in turn gives rise to Kamma Vatta from which again emanates Vipaka Vatta thus making the round of three Vattas. Reference should be made to the Diagram .

Avijja, Tanha, Upadana are Kilesa Vatta
while Sankhara and Kammabbava form Kamma Vatta,
and Vinnana, Namarupa, Salayatana, Phassa, Vedana Jati Jars Marana constitute Vipaka Vatta.

Similarly Ghananca paticca, Jivanca paticca, Kayanca paticca and Mananca paticca ............... may be taken as Khandha Paticcasamuppada which should be observed and contemplated by Vipassana meditation; otherwise the whole train of ceaseless process of cycle of Samsara will continue ad infinitum bringing in its wake the whole mass of sorrow and suffering.

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