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 11 - He Who Follows The Way Of Paticcasamuppada Follows The Way Of The Blind.

Ignorance of the Four Noble Truths is Avijja; and he whose vision is clouded with Avijja; is called in Pali, Puthujjanna (ordinary untaught worldling).

There are two kinds of worldling Andba and Kalayana. He who is ignorant of Sacca; is called Andba Puthujjana or Blind Puthujjana who though blind is always restless and wants to wander hither and thither.

The Blind Puthujjana being ignorant of Sacca; and in the dark and having no eyesight, there is a pitfall inevitable for him.

With a view to attaining higher position and becoming a Deva or Brahma, in his next existence, he does Punnabhi sankhara (this may be called walking with the right leg).

Again being overwhelmed by the desire to become rich quickly he perpetrates all sorts of Apunnabhi sankhara (immoral deeds) for his own interest or for his family This may be said that he walks with the left leg.

He has done these Sankharas because of Avijja, ignorance of Sacca. Such deeds done by him are likened to the walking of a blind man. Being blind is Avijja being ignorant of Sacca and doing of Kusala sankhara is walking with the left and right leg.

If one gives alms knowing fully well that Pancakkhandha is Dukkha Sacca and is so despicable, detestable and full of suffering and undesirable, then it can be said this is the right way of giving alms because it is done with the knowledge of Sacca that Khandha is nothing but Dukkha Sacca. This kind of alms giving is Vivatta Kusala which does not mix white with black.

When alms giving is done without any expectation or without any wishful hope for better position in the next existence, it is done with the expressed desire for the cessation of the Samsaric force or in other words for the non-attainment of any kind of Khandha; in the next existence, it is Vivatta Kusala Kamma which can shatter away Kammic force.

At this point one may raise a question. Whereas the Samsara is so long and before attaining Nibbana one may happen to fall into poor or needy existence, hence will it not be desirable to wish and long for prosperity and happiness in the higher plane of Devaloka as Prince Deva or King of Universe, etc. in the next existences? (Good deeds always bear good fruits. It means to say that not withstanding Dana, Sila are done without any attendant longing, desire or wishing for better position and prosperity in the next following existences, the good deeds as a matter of course bear fruits. As he soweth so he reaps.)

Here it must be clarified. It is universally believed that it is 'I' who make alms giving and it will be the same 'I' who will reap the benefit of the alms giving in the next existence and in such a belief, there is the idea of 'I' or Ego which is Ditthi or wrong view. When the view that 'I' the giver and the 'I' the reaper of the benefit of merit are the same it amounts to Sassata Ditthi (Eternalistic wrong view). The readers should be very careful of this point because though alms giving is Kusala Kamma, there are two things which are maxed up in the asame Kamma, i.e. the desire to reap the benefit is Tanha and wrong view that 'I' who will reap the benefit is Ditthi (Atta Ditthi and Sassata Ditthi both combined). Such wrong view has been prevalent and dominant in the immemoral therefore it will not easily be eradicated. Here is another explanation.

No doubt alms giving (Dana) is Kusala Kamma, wholesome action, and the desire to attain the higher position is Tanha, hence this Kamma is called Missaka (mixed) Kamma. The mixture of white Kamma and black Kamma, i.e. Kusala Kamma wholesome activity is white and the desire to attain higher position in the next existence is Black Kamma, hence it is called mixed Kamma.

The benefit to be derived from such Kamma is said to be reborn as King of Naga, Royal White Elephant and so on.

Therefore the readers now can come to the decision whether the mixed nature of Kamma is desirable or not. Let us come again to the walking of the Blind. To become blind is the Ignorance of Sacca. Walking with the right and left legs is Punnabhi Sankhara and Apunnabhi Sankhara. Stepping with the right one begets the Khandha of man or Deva which is nothing but Dukkha Sacca. Stepping with the left leg begets Duggati Khandha which is woeful existence.

Hence when the totally blind (Puthujjana) walks regardless of any direction he gets nowhere and when anything is done it is done with Ignorance which leads him to Paticcasamuppada again.

'Sankhara paccaya Vinnanam'

means dependent on Sankhara there arises Vinnana. Here Vinnana connotes Patisandhi Vinnana (rebirth consciousness). When the totally blind man walks he slips, falls down and drops into the pit which is Jati (jatipi Dukkha). When Jati is obtained he gets all kinds of suffering because of Patisandhi.

We shall realise it only if we remember how we suffered for nine months in the mother’s womb among the urinal and faecal matter sitting with bended knees and body pressed from all sides without even an elbow room of an inch to stretch. 'Sankhara paccaya Vinnanam' means the beginning of this present existence is Jati. Again, ' Vinnana paccaya Namarupam ' means that because of Jati one begets Nama and Rupa which implies that the blind man who falls down and stumbles, gets injury.

It can be metaphorically expressed that when the blind man falls down, it is not an ordinary fall but he falls headlong injuring himself. This means he begets Nama 'injury' and Rupa 'injury' which are nothing but Dukkha (suffering and sorrow). 'Pancupadnakkhandhapi Dukkha'. All the five aggregates or components are Dukkha Sacca.

Again if we proceed further according to 'Nama Rupa paccaya Salayatanan', it will be a good analogy to express that when he gets the injury it becomes septic and spreads all over the body, hence the Eye injury (Cakkhayatana), Ear injury (Sotayatana), Nose injury (Ghanayatana), Tongue injury (Jivayatana), Body injury (Kayayatana) and mind injury (Manayatana).

The Buddha declared that Pancakkhandhas are Injuries, Ailments, Agues, Wounds, Pricking Thorns,etc. etc.

Because of the Eye it has to do the function of seeing. Because of the Ear it has to do the function of hearing. Because of the nose it has to do the function of smelling. Because of the tongue it has to do the function of tasting. Because of the body it has to do the function of touching. Because of the mind it has to do the function of thinking. Wherever or whenever there is the impact of Arammana (object) and Dvara (sense doors) there may arise Lobha, Dosa or Domanassa, Somanassa or Upekkha.

When the blind man walks he makes a false step, stumbles, falls, gets injured and the whole body becomes septic. Again ' Salayatana paccaya Phasso' means the blind man is again being pricked by the thorns: injured, got septic, so he is getting from bad to worse.

The fall is a heavy one: the pain is severe; suffering is severe. Such severity is due to Avijja

With the Avijja at the head and Tanha as a companion, he ordinary worldling perpetrates all sorts of misdeeds under the direction of Tanha (Because of Samudaya, there arises Dukkha).

'Evametassa Kevalassa Dukkhakkhandassa Samudayo hoti'

means in the process of Samsara there is nothing but the whole mass and conglomeration of sorrow and suffering.

Again when the blind man goes farther he begets Vedana as the result of being pricked. 'Phassa paccaya Vedana.', Vedana arises whenever and wherever there is impingement of three phenomena: - object, sense door and Vinnana. Vedana arises as and when a visible object is seen, when a sound is heard, an odour is smelled, food is tasted, the body is touched and when an idea is thought of.

We experience the arising of all kinds of Vedana. We are bound to be afflicted with 96 kinds of diseases. The Diagram will show that the whole of Section II is Dukkha Sacca.

It is only when Avijja becomes Vijja that we shall be able to penetrate and see Dukkha Sacca in its reality, hence, it is said

'Cakkhum udapadi, Nanam Udapadi. Vijja udapadi'

Let us come to the blind man again In order to get relief from his pain and cure his wounds he will seek medicine; though he tries his best to get curative medicine it cannot be supposed that the blind man will come across the right kind of medicine. It means to say that the one shrouded in Avijja; and ignorant of Sacca cannot get the right kind of medicine (Truth).

All along the Samsaric journey the search for the curative medicine has proved to be fruitless and failure in this very existence as in previous existences.

We could not have been any other beings than those who had been ceaselessly whirling in the vortex of the whirlpool of Samsara.

Let us see for ourselves whether or not what has been said is in line with what has happened to us in our wayfaring through Samsara.

Because of Samudaya in the Past Causal Continuum, there is suffering of all kinds in this very existence. This is what actually is the linking of the Cause of suffering and Suffering.

Let us suppose there is Sukha Vedana. Say a family is in a good position with a good income having a house and a car. If he is attached so much to this present position, there arises Tanha in him. Reference to the Diagram is invited. 'Sukha Vedana Paccaya Tanha'. Section II and III are again connected.

Let us come to the blind man again. The blind man searching for some curative medicine will no doubt come across some kind of medicine which is not the right one. He may either take it internally or he may apply it externally whereby instead of getting better, he may be rome worse.

It is said in Paticcasamuppada

'Upadana paccaya Kammabhavo'.

It means to say that because of attachment, physical, verbal and mental activities are again perpetrated. He prays and longs for the rebirth in the net existence to become a more prosperous being or Deva prince whenever alms giving is done. Nay, he goes further and prays that his sons, daughters, wife and himself, the whole family, may be together in every existence in future.

This is an example of a common man’s falicious activities when ever there is Ignorance of Sacca. It can be compared to the blind man who stumbles, gets sprains and wounds, becomes septic, again being pricked by thorns, he seeks for curative medicine and only gets the wrong one.

All along the Samsaric journey where there is the absence of the knowledge of Sacca the wayfarer is being tossed over and over again in the whirlpool of Samara according to the Law of Dependent Origination.

It is obvious that he has never had the slightest knowledge of Magga Sacca, i.e.

It can be said that we are fortunate enough to have been able to hear the Sacca Sermons and read books reproduced from the recorded tapes of the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw, forsooth we gain some considerable knowledge of Paticcasamuppada and Sacca from such Sermons.

It is to be urged to the readers to foster the intense desire to set themselves free from the endless chain of Samsara from this very existence as they have been endowed with Saddha (Confidence) and favourably placed with ample opportunity to hear Sacca Dhamma, if they wish, the recorded sermons or read the books reproduced from them.

Hearing the sermons from recorded tapes is available in many parts of Myanmar, Mandalay, Mogok, Amarapura and every nook and corner of Burma. Again it is exhorted to the readers with the best of intentions to take advantage of the recorded sermons in which Sacca and Paticcasamuppada Doctrine were expounded by Maha Thera Sayadaw during his life time.