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 9 - The Circling Of Paticcasamuppada

Because Of Avijja And Tanha At The Source Was The Root Cause.

(It is advised to read this chapter with the Diagram )

It is important for the Yogi to know for certain that the real culprits who cause and generate the revolution of the endless process of recurring death of sentient being existence after existence all along the Samsara are none other than Avijja; and Tanha.

With reference to the Diagram , the reader will find right in the middle Avijja and Tanha Avijja, Ignorance, is nescience as to the four Noble Truths. Tanha is craving for anything pleasant that it comes across, hence it behoves the reader or Yogi to bear in mind that the beginning of paticcasamuppada is Avijja and Tanha.

Whenever Khandha comes into being it is followed by old age and death. The culprit who responsible for the building of Khandha must be found out. Now it will be obvious to the Yogi that the real culprits who build Khandhas are Avijja and Tanha. Therefore the root cause must be eradicated in order that no effect will arise.

It is also necessary to find out what the doings of Avijja and Tanha are. As has already been mentioned, Avijja is the nescience of the Four Noble Truths. Tanha is craving for anything pleasant that it comes across. Nay, Avijja; does more than that, for it causes and conditions Sankhara to arise and Tanha. causes and conditions Upadana to arise.

Again Sankhara causes and conditions the Present Resultant Continuum, i.e.,

  1. Vinnana,
  2. Namarupa,
  3. Salayatana,
  4. Phassa
  5. and Vedana,

or in other words Pancakkhandha (five aggregates or components).

Reference may be made to the Diagram . In Section I, which is called the Past Causal Continuum, there are five factors, viz.

  1. Avijja,
  2. Sankhara,
  3. Tanha,
  4. Upadana
  5. and Bhava.

From this Past Causal Continuum there emanates Section II which is called the Present Resultant Continuum.

It is made up of

  1. Vinnana,
  2. NamaRupa,
  3. Salayatana,
  4. Phassa
  5. and Vedana;

and this Present Resultant Continuum is nothing but our own Khandha.

When further scrutinised it will be seen that from Section II or the Present Resultant Continuum there arises the Present Causal Continuum which may be termed as Section III.

This Section consists of

  1. Tanha.,
  2. Upadana,
  3. Bhava,
  4. Avijja
  5. and Sankhara.

When these are classified by Sacca, they fall into Samudaya Sacca.

Again from Section III there emanates the Future Resultant Continuum consisting of

  1. Vinnana,
  2. Namarupa,
  3. Salayatana,
  4. Phassa
  5. and Vedana,

which when classified fall into Dukkha Sacca.

It is obvious now that

from the Past Causal Continuum there arises Present Resultant Continuum
and from the Present Resultant Continuum again emanates the Future Causal Continuum
and from the Future Causal Continuum emanates Future Resultant Continuum,
and the Future Resultant again becomes the Past Causal Continuum

which gives rise to the Present,
the Present to the Future
and Future to the Past and so on.

Thus the chain of Paticcasamuppada or the Samsara or the process of arising and passing away of phenomena from moment to moment is making its usual cyclic revolution ad infinitum.

By way of Sacca, there arises the recurring process of Samudaya which gives rise to Dukkha, and Dukkha on the other hand, gives rise to Samudaya and so on. In the same way the Past becomes the Present, the Present becomes the Future, the Future becomes the Past and the Past becomes the Present and sort on in endless cyclic order.

Because of Ignorance one does all sorts of wholesome or unwholesome deeds for which he gains nothing but Pancakkhandha (five aggregates or components) which is Dukkha Sacca pure and simple. Again led by Avijja and goaded by Tanha the ordinary wordling commits all sorts of acts for his own material gains or for the benefit of his family which will undoubtedly lead him to Apaya Bhumi. Nay, he also does meritorious acts which may lead him to a higher plane of existence.

To illustrate the daily life. “A” sees; he feels desirous; he is overwhelmed with the desire to own; and eventually he tries to obtain. No doubt he obtains and what he obtains is Jati (according to Paticcasamuppada). When Jati is obtained, it is again dominated and influenced by Avijja; and Tanha.

Thus Section I connects Section II which connects Section III. From Section III there again arises Section IV. In this way, the cyclic order of Paticcasamuppada goes on endlessly forever. It revolves one full fresh circle after the old one and so on the endless process goes on ad infinitum. All of us had been within this causal nexus without ever having the slightest chance of seeing the way out. Had we done this we would not have been as we are now.

Reference to the Diagram is invited. Readers are asked to see for themselves in what Section they are at the present. The answer invariably will be that they are in the Section II where Vinnana, Namarupa, Salayatana, Phassa, Vedana can be seen, which, when classified, fall into Five Aggregates (Pancakkhandha), and again into Dukkha Sacca.

Dependent on the Past Causal Continuum, i.e. Avijja, Sankhara, Tanha., Upadana and Bhava, there arises Pancakkhandha (Present Resultant Continuum). Therefore Section I is Samudaya Sacca; while Section II is Dukkha Sacca, and as such there is only the process of Samudaya and Dukkha while Magga and Nirodha Saccas are hidden from the view and these two Lokuttara Saccas are non prevalent and absent from us as we do not try or care to approach any reliable teachers who can lead us to the right path (Ariya Sacca).

Now it is urged to the readers that the decision should be made to attain the two Lokkutara Saccas and embrace the same in our bosom at a time when Sacca sermons were expounded by the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw. It is also behoved that Magga and Nirodha Saccas should be apprehended by the practice of magga Brahma Cariya, practice of Vipassana Meditation so that the spokes, Wheel Rod, Rim, Axis and Hub of Paticcasamuppada can be broken. It also behoves the Yogi to read this Chapter IX over and over again so that he is well conversant with this Doctrine and understand it.