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 12 - Paticcasamuppada In Reverse Order

Vipassi Buddha before the attainment of Buddhahood, while as a Bodhisatta was deeply concerned about the great suffering of humanity and went into intensive contemplation as to the root cause of suffering of all sentient beings who were undergoing the ceaseless process of Birth, Old Age, Disease and Death' ad infinitum ' and on how he could be able to attain the wisdom which will enable him to emancipate these beings from the endless process of Birth, Old Age, Disease and Death.

When he saw the endless chain of Samsara he longed and looked forward to the time when he would be in a position to attain the penetrative wisdom to bring to a stop and break the linking of the chain of endless process of birth, old age, disease and death which humanity was undergoing.

He systematically investigated why and wherefore Jati,. Jaramarana were taking place' ad infinitum'

Retrospective investigation was done and step by step meditation was enhanced and eventually he came to the conclusion that the culprit was Avijja which was the root cause of all suffering. Again he practised deep contemplation starting from Jati and Jaramarana in re verse order several times and then starting from the beginning, i.e. Avijja in usual regular order until at last the light of penetrative wisdom dawned upon him enabling him to shatter all Kilesas and uproot Asavas thereby to break as under the chain of the Paticcasamuppada, and finally he attained the Supreme Enlightenment.

In the said manner our Lord Gautama Buddha before he attained Buddhahood while as a Budhisatta was much concerned about the endless suffering of Humanity arising out of Jati and Jara marana, and by means of deep contemplation as to the root cause of human suffering, i.e. endless process of Birth, Old Age, Disease and Death, he finally attained the penetrative wisdom which enabled him to unfathom the whole process of Paticcasamuppada as such he was able to exterminate all the Asavas, Anusayas and Samyojanas and the Bodhisatta eventually attained Supreme Buddhahood.

Whether the Buddhas appear in this world or not there always exists the law of Dependent Origination' Paticcasamuppada' but only at the time of Buddha’s appearance was the Doctrine minutely explained and taught that such and such are Jati and Jaramarana; such and such are Kammabhava, Upadana, Tanha, Vedana, Phassa, etc. etc. 'the central core of the doctrine expounded by the Buddha is thus: Whereas this exists that comes to be, with the arising of this that arises. When this does not exist that does not come to be.

Reference to Diagram is invited. In Section IV, the reader will see Jati. Jaramarana which do not come to be without the cause. Jati is the cause and Jaramarana is the Effect. Jati is to be much abhorred. Old age, disease and death are at the back of every one from the day of birth, hence it will be seen that everybody is getting older day after day, month after month and year after year.

Old age means loss of youthfulness youthful appearances and youthful characteristics, appearance of grey hair, hard of hearing, poor eye sight, loss of memory difficulty in chewing any hard food due to loss of teeth and inability to walk with the I help of somebody, and the worst of it is that the older he gets the feebler he becomes resulting in the uncontrollable state of discharge of urinal and faecal matters which is frequent, hence he becomes the object of despise and disgust even by his dear and near ones.

It is not only in this life that old age, disease, decay and death are everybody’s companions but they have been inseparable comrades since the beginning of the Samsara, so is it not the time for us to find the way out to sever the connection with Jati and Jaramarana? We should come to the decision to get out of the reach of such abominable things as old age, disease and death. Let us consider this point.

Whither do we go from this old age? Every second, every minute, we are going to Death. We are galloping without a stop to that destination. It is said 'Maranampi Dukkha sacca' which means death is suffering; there is no suffering as great as Death. Just imagine. We are facing old age and, sooner or later, we are bound to face Death at any time of the year, month, or day. We know not from which direction it will come and snatch us.

Has any one of us discovered any hiding place or are we able to bribe the King of Death so that we can be indulging so relentlessly in Lobha (craving), Dosa (Hatred), Mana (conceit)? Is it possible for us to ask for adjournment for a certain date? Is that the reason why we are so much overwhelmed by such Lobha Dosa and Mana? It is now time for us to check ourselves.

Everybody is living with four murderous killers. The killer Pathavi is lying in wait to kill us. If it is in excess or in deficiency our death is sure and certain. Another killer- Apo is watching every opportunity to lay its hand on us and when it is in excess, it is bound to be in abundance of motion and urinary discharge which will ultimately be followed by death.

The killer-Vayo is also lying in wait for the opportunity to pounce upon us, so does the killer-Tejo; when a man has an abnormal rise in temperature followed by delirium his condition can cause his relatives great anxiety and eventually put him to death. Be sides those four murderous killers, there are five basic aggregates or components which are also murderous killers Once a monk named Radha asked the Buddha what was meant by Mara (Death).

The Buddha replied,

'Rupamkho Radha Maroti Vuccati Vedanakho Radha Maroti Vuccati, Sannakho, Sankharakho, Vinnnamkho Radha Maroti Vuccati.'

It means that Rupa (corporeality) is a killer, Vedana (feeling or sensation) etc. etc. All the sentient beings are living with the killers who are waiting for a chance to take their toll.

Having fallen a victim to the first four murderous killers or the other five killers we have to give ourselves up to the killers with great reluctance amidst the wife, children and relatives who are surrounding us at the bedside. Let us again look at Diagram !.

'Jati pacccaya Jaramarana'

because of Jati there arises Jaamarana, hence Jati is very dreadful. Jati means the birth of all sentient beings whether men, Devas or Brahmas.

In the Dhamma Cakka-pavattana Sutta, it is said 'Jatipi Dukkha.' It means whether be it Jati of men or Deva or Brahma, Jati itself is Dukkha, is accompanied by Sacca and faces Dukkha Sacca

Because of our ignorance of the Paticcasamuppada, most of us fail into common fallacy and being deluded by the superficial illusory nature of the so called glory and glamour of the monarch of the universe, King of Devaloka, we, the ignorant worldlings, long for and pray repeatedly whenever alms givings are made, to attain such vanities of glory of monarch of universe, King of Devas or Brahma.

According to Paticcasamuppada these existences as universal monarch or King of Devaloka are Dukkha Sacca and are like the place of custody.

The Buddha says

'Tayo Bhava Andugharam Viya'.

It means be it the existence of man, Deva or Brahma they are just like the place of custody.

Prayers for these boons are just like praying for imprisonment of oneself, for the so called glories in these existences, be it man, Deva or Brahma; are spurious illusory and glamorous.

He who prays for Jati prays for the great precipice into which he will fall headlong from the top.

Jati means rebirth. There is no such unpleasantness or suffering as being in a mother’s womb. It is due to the weakness of human memory that one fails to remember the untold misery and suffering for nine months in the extremely narrow and straitened space amidst the urinal and faecal matters. Whether a Cakkavatti (monarch of the Universe), King of Devaloka, the starting point is invariably Jati, hence prayer for a new Jati is just prayer for the Dukkha Sacca

The late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw[1] taught that alms giving or meritorious deeds must be made firstly because of detestation, abhorrence and disgust of this burden of Khandha (five aggregates or components) and secondly with a view to setting oneself free from Jati Jaramarana or to be free from Paticcasamuppada Samsara.

The Buddha said to Ananda,

'O Ananda, of all the faults the attainment of the new Khandha after abandoning the old one is the greatest'

New Khandha means the attainment of new Jati and the attainment of Jati is the attainment of Dukkha Sacca. To pray for whatsoever Khandha is to pray for old age, disease and death. Any kind of Jati must be and has to be confronted with Jara Marana. Some go further and pray for the enjoyment of higher position as the monarch of the Universe and the King of Devaloka again and again. It means they pray for the undergoing of the suffering of Old age, Disease and Death again and again.

This is the way of those who are ignorant of and not conversant with the doctrine Of Paticcasamuppada.

One may ask if Jati arises on its own or haphazardly or is there any root cause of it. Yes, there is, the root cause of Kammabhava which is more dreadful than Jati because it links Section III with Section IV, the Future Causal Continuum. In other words, it causes the new existence or Jati which, as already explained fully in the foregoing chapters is the beginning of suffering. It is the linking medium of the chain of Paticcasamuppada, Kammabhava is nothing but Kayakamma, Vaci Kamma and Mano Kamma (physical, verbal and mental actions) or punnabhi Sankhara, Apunnabhi Sankhara and Ananjabhi Sankhara.

According to the Paticcasamuppada, actions done in the past are called Sankhara and actions done at present are called Kammabhava; they are the same in meaning although different in words.

At this point a little thought should be given as to how many times do we wittingly or unwittingly commit Kayakamma, Vac Kamma and Mano Kamma in a day, say from sunrise to the time of going to bed.

The Buddha says,

'Sabbampi Bhavagami Kamman Kammabhavo'.

It means whatever we do in this world whether whole some or unwholesome will produce its effect in the next existence, in other words we are the designer of our own destiny for our future exist.

Let us go one step farther back and see whether Kammabhava arises on its own or it arises because of something else. 'Upadana pacccaya Kammabhavo', because of Upadana, there arises Kammabhava, i.e. Kayakamma (physical actions), Vaci Kamma (Verbal actions) and Mano Kamma (mental actions) are done because of Upadana (grasping or overwhelming desire). According to Paticcasamuppada or Patisambhida Magga, Upadana is Samudaya Sacca and Kammabhava is Dukkha Sacca.

Then again if we retrogress one step farther and see as to the cause of Upadana we shall find the culprit Tanha 'Tanha pacccaya Upadana' When Tanha becomes stronger it takes the form of Upadana; as Tanha is the cause of Upadana, it is more dreadful and dangerous than Upadana.

It is obvious that from sunrise to midnight or say round the clock there are people coming and going from one place to another, from north to south, from east to west, from one town to another, from one country to another, from continent to continent from one region to another, by various kinds of transport, vehicles, steamers or aeroplanes. Almost all these journeys, travels, flights, voyages are due to or prompted by Tanha (lobha). Being slaves of Tanha (lobha) men are sent to all directions in all climes for various purposes, callings and trades

If prompted by Tanha there is no refusal whether it is at mid night, in the rain, storms, to go to robber-infested places or war zones, the slaves of Tanha will run on whatever errand regardless of any imminent danger Can the slave say, no, to its master Tanha? Never. Tanha is so forceful, influential and impulsive even to make a young baby try and snatch its toy from where it is by rolling its little body, or to make an old person servile under its sway.

It will be better to compare what has been said with what is going on in our own selves. Let us go further back and see whether Tanha arises on its own or it arises because of something. 'Vedana paccaya Tanha, Vedana is the cause of it as Vedana is more obnoxious. Reference to the Diagram is invited.

It will be seen that Section II and Section III link Vedana and Tanha. This is the point where the Yogi must disallow Vedana to connect with Tanha or in other words Magganga (Panccangika Magga) must take its place between Vedana and Tanha this means the Yogi must practise meditation at this juncture so that Avijja will become Vijja, “Vijja Udapadi.”

The methods of replacing Vedana pacccaya Tanha by Vedana pacccaya Panna will be dealt with in the next chapters.

Footnotes and references:


Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw used to encourage Dana (alms giving)

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