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 10 - How To Dismantle And Break The Spokes, Hub, Axis, Wheel Rod And Rim

Of The Wheel Of Patccasamuppada

You have seen the wheel of a cart. Here you will find the Axle, Box or Hub which is right in the centre. This will be better symbolised as Avijja and Tanha. There are four spokes which represent

  1. Kama Punnabbi Sankhara,
  2. Rupa Punnabhi Sankhara,
  3. Apunnabhi Sankhara and
  4. Ananjabhi Sankhara.

The Rim of the Wheel represents Jara; Marana. In order to make the wheel strong and durable these spokes are fitted on one end with the Rim and the other fitted into the Axle Box so that the other component parts of the wheel do not give way and fall into pieces.

Hence Axle Box, Wheel Rod, Hub, Spokes and Rim, these five component parts form into a complete whole of what may be called a Wheel; when one does meritorious deeds by way of giving alms, keeping moral precepts with a view to gaining higher position as King of the Universe or as King of Deva in Devaloka in his next existence, it means, according to Paticcasamuppada, Punnabhi Sankhara and nothing else. Whereas another one perpetrates demeritorious deeds of all sorts for himself or for his family. This is Apunnabhi Sankhara which will forsooth drive him to the lower plane of existence (Apaya bhumi) comprising Hell, animal world, etc.

When one practises Samatha with a view to attaining Rupavacara Bhumi (Brahmaloka); this is called Rupa Punnabhi Sankhara and nothing else; whereas another Rupavacara Yogi being hateful to Rupa and practises Arupavacara Jhana with a view to attaining Arupavacara Brahmaloka (where there is no Rupa but only Four Namakkhandhas.) This is Anajabhisankhara.

Whichever Sankhara is done or perpetrated whether Punnabhi, Apunnabhi or Ananjabhi, their ascent or descent of jourey is circumscribed within the bounds of Jaramarana or in other words they must terminate within the limit of Sankhara Loka or within the domain of Thirty-one planes of existence. Even if one ascends to Rupavacara Bhumi he will not be able to go beyond the Rim of Jaramarana. In the case of another one who attains Arupa Jhana by virtue of his Samatha, his terminus will be up to the same Rim (Jaramarana).

Whatever is done within the realm of Sankhara there is no escape from the clutches of Jaramarana. Hence Rebirth in any sphere, plane or existence is liable to Jaramarana. Therefore Kusala sankhara done in order to attain better position in the next existence will inevitably land at the door step of Jaramarana. There is no exit whatsoever to escape from Jaramarana.

Akusala sankhara, immoral or unwholesome activities, bodily, verbal and mental actions constitute one of the spokes (Apaya bhumi).

Those who are misled into believing that Rupaloka is Nibbana or Arupaloka is Nibbana strenuously practise Jhana and Abhinna. When a Jhanic person concentrates on Rupa as the source of Dukkha, suffering and attains Arupa Jhana, this is also one of the spokes.(Arupabhuma)

Reference may be made to Diagram . There remains the Wheel Rod which represents Asava.

According to the pali,

'Asava samudaya avijja Samudayo';

this Asava Wheel Rod must be fitted to the Axle Box with the four spokes which are already fitted in the wheel. Now the Wheel can be revolved. When the Wheel revolves it is inevitable that some spokes will be on the left and the others go down and some spokes will be on the left and the others on the right. Wherever they may be they will never be able to get themselves cleared off the rim.

In the way an ordinary worldling happens to be either in Brahmaloka, Devaloka or Manussaloka (this present plane of existence), there is no exit for him from Samsara. This Wheel of Samsara is revolving ceaselessly dragging Pancakkhandha along in its wake. Therefore wherever this Pancakkhandha (five aggregates or components) makes its landing its usual termination is Jaramarana.

Let us again view from the standpoint of Sacca domain. Avijja and Tanha are the culprits who are responsible for the conditioning of Khandhas which and nothing but Dukkha Sacca while Avijja and Tanha are Samudaya Sacca; so all along the Samsara our travelling companions are Samudaya and Dukkha, while Magga and Nirodha Sacca are missing. This is why there is no way of escape from this domain of Samudaya and Dukkha.

Most certainly we have purposely avoided Magga and Nirodha and our valuable time has been spent in lengthening the revolving period of Paticcasamuppada

This is what may be termed as Prolonging the duration of suffering (Dukkha).

Reference to Diagram may be made again. Avijja., Tanha and Upadana are Kilesa Vatta. The ordinary wordling does all sorts of resulting in Kamma Bhava which gives rise to Vipaka Vatta or Pancakkhandha. Thus Kamma Vatta Arises because of Kamma Vatta. This is how there starts again the process of the cyclic order of Samsaraad infinitum.

It will be seen now that from the point of view of Sacca there the round of Samudaya and Dukkha Sacca.

Again when it is viewed from Vatta standpoint there is only the round of Kilesa, Kamma and Vipaka vatta.

When it is again viewed from the standpoint of space and time it will be seen too that there is the rotation of Past, Present and Future.

It is to be carefully noted that only when the chain or link of Paticcasamuppada can be broken asunder we can escape from Samsara vatta. As long as chain of Paticcasamuppada is relinked the longer will be the duration of Dukkha.

If we are anxious to shorten the duration of our Samsara, we must seek the way out of the three Vattas and overcome Samudaya and Dukkha.

In this present existence when there is a great opportunity to gain considerable wisdom regarding Paticcasamuppada and Sacca by listening to the sermons or through reading such books, the Yogi, should come to the decision and break asunder the Rim, Axle Box, Rod or Spokes of the Wheel of Paticcasamuppada.

For the Yogi who is really intent on escaping from Samsara, mere wishes will not enable him to attain Magga and Phala. It is by Vipassana; Contemplation (Eightfold Noble Path) that he can turn over Avijja to Vijja Wisdom and Tanha to Alobha Non-desire and attain the final goal of Emancipation.

In the following chapters the path of Emancipation will appear.