For the past eight weeks, we have been expounding the Dhammacakka, dealing with definitions and explanations of the two extreme parts (practices), how the Blessed One had discarded these two extreme practices and come upon the middle Path, otherwise called the Noble Eightfold Path, by means of which vision arose, insight arose in him. We have also explained how the Path leads to the calming of the defilements, and to the higher knowledge which gives penetrative insight into the four Truths and to realization of Nibbăna. We have given, too, comprehensive exposition on the Eightfold Path and how it may be developed. We shall now start considering the Four Noble Truths which the Blessed One penetrated into by adopting the Middle Path, otherwise known as the Noble Eightfold Path.
TRUTH OF SUFFERING – DUKKHA SACCÂ
Idăő kho pana. Bhikkhave, dukkhaő ariya-saccaő: jătipi dukkhă, jarăpi dukkhă vyădipi dukkho, maranampi dukkhaő, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yaő piccaő na labhati tampi dukkhaő, samkhittena pańcupădă-nakkhandă dukkhă.
This Păli passage which gives definition and enumeration of the dukkha saccă, is quoted from the Dhammacakka Sutta now in extant. The sentence ‘vyădipi dukkhă’ in this passage appears to be extraneous, not being found in the Pali definitions of dukkha saccă provided in other suttas. At the same time, the words ‘soka parideva dukkha domanassu-păyasă pi’ which come after ‘maranaő pi dukkhaő’ in other suttas are missing in the existing text of Dhammacakka Sutta. There exists this disagreement between Dhammacakka Sutta and other suttas in the definition of dukkha saccă.
CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE DISPARITY
Sărattha Dipani, a sub-commentary on Vinaya, has made the following critical remarks on the disparity of the sutta texts mentioned above. The sentence ‘vyădipi dukkha’ does not appear in the detailed definition of dukkha saccă given in the Vibhanga of Abhidhamma Pitaka. Accordingly, Visuddhi Magga, in giving the comprehensive definition of dukkha saccă, does not include this sentence which exists only in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta text. A careful investigation should be made as to why this sentence appears only in Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta and not in any other suttas. It went on to state: “Again, in the comprehensive definition of dukkha saccă in the Vibhanga of Abhidhamma, the words soka parideva dukkha domanassupăyasa pi dukkha come immediately after maranampi dukkham. These words are missing in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Why it should be so should also be closely examined.”
The author of the sub-commentary did not seem too happy over these various definitions in the texts. He did not, therefore, give any exposition on these words ‘vyădipi dukkha’ which are not present in other suttas and on which the commentary remained silent. We had taken up the suggestion made by the author of the sub-commentary to conduct an enquiry into these differences and had made the following findings as to how these differences had come about.
It cannot be that the Buddha had given consistent definition of dukkha saccă in every discourse on the subject. We have come to the conclusion that the Theras, the Vinaya-bearers who made a specialised study of vinaya, not being equally well-versed in matters pertaining to suttas and abhidhamma, had caused the insertion of the words ‘vyădipi dukkha’ and the deletion of the words ‘soka parideva dukkha domanassupăyăsapi dukkha’ in the Dhammacakka discourse in the Mahavagga Pali Text of the Vinaya Pitaka. Their version of the Dhammacakka thus appears in the Vinaya differently from the Sutta and Abhidhamma Pali Canons.
Our conclusion is based on the consideration that the commentaries on Sutta and Abhidhamma, which give expositions on the short definition of dukkha saccă, do not provide any explanatory note on vyădipi dukkha, but on soka parideva dukkha domanassupăyăsa pi dukkha and on the fact that the comment arise nor the sub-commentaries made any mention of the differences in the Păli texts.
The author of the sub-commentary, Sărattha Dipani, was a venerable thera who lived during the reign of King Prakkama Băhu between A.D. 1153 and and A.D. 1186. Counting back from B.E. 1324, it was about 700 or 800 years ago. The commentators and the sub-commentators from the Venerable Buddhaghosa down to the Venerable Dhammapăla lived about 1300 to 1600 years ago. These ancient commentators and sub-commentators who wrote exegeses on the Dhammacakka sutta of Sacca Samyutta in the Samyutta Mahăvagga of the Păli Canon, did not make any mention of the disparity in the texts. Their silence was simply because of the fact that the Dhammacakka Sutta as it existed then was no different from those given in the Păli text of other Suttas and Abhidhamma.
However, by the time the author of the sub-commentary, Sărattha Dipani, came upon the scene about 500 years later. the disagreement had cropped up between the various Pali texts which he duly discovered. He, therefore, strongly urged for a critical examination and close investigation of the cause of variance in the texts.
Are we to take that the Buddha gave at the very first discourse a definition of dukkha saccă which is different from other versions? If we do, it would amount to holding the view that the Buddha started off at the first discourse with one definition of dukkha, then changing it later to a different version. This kind of view would be highly improper. A proper method of consideration would be that the Buddha, whose knowledge of all things is unimpeded, being blessed with sabbańńuta ńăna, had given the same definition consistently throughout, but that later on, Vinaya-bearers, owing to defective intelligence and memory, had caused these discrepancies to creep into the texts in the course of handing them down from generation to generation. Instances of textual discrepancies are well-known in modern times. The commentary and sub-commentary texts are found to vary from country to country. It is obvious that such disagreement were not present in the original texts, but developed only in later periods.
After careful scrutiny as set out above, we have come to the conclusion that other texts are accurate and that the Dhammacakka sutta, now in extent, has in its section on the definition of dukkha saccă, supplemental words of ‘vyădhi pi dukkho’ while the words ‘soka paridava dukkha domanassapăyăsa pi dukkha’ are missing. Our conclusion is also based on the consideration that ‘vyăhi-illness’ is comprised in the word dukkha of the larger sentence of ‘soka parideva dukkha domanassupăyăsa pi dukkha’, whereas ‘soka’, etc., are not embraced by the term ‘vyădi’.
We, therefore, believe that the texts bearing ‘soka parideva dukkha domanassupăyăsa pi dukkha’ without the words ‘vyădhi pi dukkho’ are accurate and in accord with the canonical teachings of the Buddha. We have engaged in the above scrutiny of the varying texts as we intend to use the following version in our discourse because we believe it to be accurate.
ACCURATE PÂLI TEXT ON DEFINITION OF DUKKHA SACCÂ
Idaő kho pana, Bhikkhave, dukkhaő, ariyasacchaő. jătipi dukkhă, jarăpi dukkhă maranampi dukhaő, soka parideva dukkha domanassupăyăsapi dukkha, appiyehi, sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho. Yaőpiccaő na labnati, tampi dukkhami Saőkhitte na pańcupădănakkhandă dukkhă.
“Bhikkhus, what I am going to teach presently is the Noble Truth of Suffering or the real suffering which the ariyas should know. The new becoming (birth) is also suffering; getting old (ageing) is also suffering; death is also suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are also suffering; association or connection with unlovable persons and objects or hateful persons and objects is also suffering; separation from lovable person and objects is also suffering; desiring to get and not getting it, that desire or craving is also suffering (commentary on Sutta Mahăvă); or alternatively, desiring to get and not getting what one does not want is also suffering (Vibhanga sub-commentary). In short, the five aggregates which form the object of attachment or the group of năma-rupa which clings to the notion of I, mine, permanence, satisfactoriness (sukha), self, are indeed suffering.”
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Many systems of religious beliefs exist in the world, each expounding its own view of what it considers to be the essence of Truth. The teachings in other systems of religions are not based on personal realization of Truth, but merely on speculative thinking. Their followers accept such teachings not through personal experience either but only on faith. All such teachings which fall outside of Buddhism are comprised in sixty-two kinds of wrong beliefs enumerated in the Brahmajăla Sutta by the Blessed One.
Speculation does not have a place in the Buddha’s Teachings. The Truth he taught was discovered by himself through his own insight. The Four Noble Truths he taught with their definition had been gained through his superior penetrative insight, developed by following the Middle Path, otherwise called the Noble Eightfold Path which, as stated above, leads to higher knowledge producing penetrative Insight. These Four Noble Truths are:
1. Dukkha saccă The Truth of Suffering,
2. Samudaya saccă The Truth of the Origin of Suffering.
3. Nirodha saccă The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.
4. Magga saccă The Truth of the Path or the Way leading to the Cessation of Suffering.
It is most essential to know these Four Truths. Only with the apprehension of the Truth of Suffering, suffering may be avoided for which the cause of suffering must also be known. Again, in order to achieve cessation of suffering, there must be knowledge of what constitutes real cessation of suffering. Finally, the extinction of suffering cannot be brought about without knowledge of the practical way of accomplishing it. Hence, knowledge of the Four Truths is indispensable.
Having come upon these four essential Truths, the Buddha enumerated them in their sequence. The first Truth dealt with was the Truth of Suffering, which he described as:
1. New becoming (rebirth)
2. Getting old (old age)
6. Physical pain
9. Association with hateful ones
10. Separation from loved ones
11. Not getting what one wants
12. The five groups of grasping (clinging)
This is the translation of the Păli passage quoted above.
1 JATI DUKKHÂ – SUFFERING OF NEW BECOMING (REBIRTH)
By new becoming (rebirth) is meant the dissolution of năma, rupa at the last moment in the last existence and after death, the first moment of genesis of new năma-rupa in the new existence as conditioned by kamma. The first genesis serving as a connecting link with the past life is termed patisandhe (linking conception) in the initial formation of fresh năma and rupa. If this formation takes place in a mother’s womb, we have womb conception (gabbhaseyaka patisandhe), which may be of two types: andhaja patisandhe (oviparous) – when the conception takes place in an egg shell in the womb; and jalabuja paiisandhe (vivparous)- when the embryo freely develops in the womb till birth takes place.
Womb conception, according to Buddhist scriptures, has its origin in the semen and blood of the parents. Western medical science holds the view that conception results from the union of father’s sperm and mother’s ovum. The two views may be reconciled by taking that father’s sperm and mother’s blood are involved in a conception. This union of sperm and blood of parents, leading to the formation of resultant new năma and rupa, constitutes what is known as rebirth, which may take place either in states of woe (apăya) or in the human world, as conditioned by past akusala kamma or kusala kamma respectively.
Conception in moisture-laden media such as moss, etc. (sansedaja), represents the coming into existence of some larvae, etc. Being not visible by human eyes such as deities, demons, ghosts and denizens of the woeful states assume spontaneous re-birth or autogenesis known as opapătika conception, with knowing mind and physical body completely developed.
In all these four types of conception, the first moment of conceiving or genesis definitely constitutes jăti, beginning of new existence. No suffering or pain as such exists at the first moment of genesis. Since this first arising or origination of life serves as a basis for later appearance of physical pain and mental suffering throughout the whole of the ensuing existence, jăti is termed ‘suffering’.It is like putting one’s signature on a document as a guarantor of some questionable transactions. There is no trouble, of course, at the time of signing the instrument of the transactions, but as it is certain to give rise to later complications, the act of signing the document amounts to involvement in dreadful trouble or in other words ‘suffering’. For further elucidation, suffering may be classified under seven categories:
2. Viparinăma dukkha
3. Sankhăra dukkha
These three form one group.
4. Paticchanna dukkha
5 Apaticchanna dukkha
These two form another group.
6. Pariyăya dukkha
7. Nippariyăya dukkha
These two form the third group.
Of these seven types, bodily pains, aches and discomfort are a form of suffering just as worry, misery, unhappiness and sadness constitute another form. The two forms combine to make the first type of suffering . . . dukkha-dukkha. Its nature is suffering, its name is suffering. Hence, it is dukkha-dukkha, dreaded by every sentient being.
1. Mnemonic note: unendurable physical and mental suffering is dukkha-dukkha.
Pleasurable physical sensations arising from agreeable tactile impressions is known as kăya sukha; joyful state of mind arising from reviewing pleasant sense-objects is known as cetasika sukha. These two forms of happy states please everyone, every creature. All beings go after these two happy states day and night, even to the extent of risking their lives. When these are attained, their happiness knows no bound. Nevertheless, while they are rejoicing with blissful contentment, if the sense-objects which have given them much intense delight and enjoyment disappear or get destroyed, great would be their agitation followed by intense distress.
When the wealth they have accumulated in the form of gold, money or property suddenly is lost through one reason or another,; when death or separation comes to one’s beloved member of the family, spouse or children, intense grief and distress ensue, which may even cause mental derangement. Thus, these two forms of happiness, kăya sukha and cetasika sukha, are also a type of suffering known as viparinăma dukkha (suffering because of change). While they last, they may appear very enjoyable, only to be replaced by extreme grief and despair when they vanish. Hence, they are dukkha all the same.
2. Mnemonic note: Happiness arising from physical comfort and mental joy is called vaparinăma dukkha.
The ordinary every day scene which one sees, hears or comes into contact with, indifferent sense-objects, inspires neither a feeling of pleasure or well-being nor of pain or unpleasantness. This neutral, medial condition which by its nature is neither painful nor pleasurable is termed equanimous feeling (upekkhă vedană). This neutral equanimity does not, however, exist permanently. It needs constant maintenance of necessary conditions for continuity of this medial state. This implies laborious effort which, of course, is dukkha. Hence, this equanimous feeling, neither painful nor pleasurable, is termed sankhăra dukkha. In addition to this equanimous feeling, all the other formations of năma and rupa of the mundane sphere are also called sankhăra dukkha as they need constant conditioning.
3. Mnemonic note: Equanimous feeling and năma, rupa formations of mundane sphere are called sankhăra dukkha.
Feeling of happiness also requires constant conditioning for its maintenance and as such should be classified as sankhăra dukkha, but the commentators left it out of this classification as it had been given a separate name as viparinăma dukkha. Nevertheless, it should be regarded as sankhăra dukkha too since it is very plain that considerable application is needed for its maintenance.
The three types of dukkha explained above should be well understood as a complete grasp of these types will help in understanding the Truth of Suffering.
Physical ailments such as ear-ache, toothache, headache, flatulence, etc. and mental afflictions arising out of unfulfilled desire, burning rage, disappointments, miseries and worries are called ‘concealed suffering’ (paticchanna dukkha) because they are known only to the suffering individual and become known to others only when intimated by them. As such, suffering is not openly evident, it is also called ‘unevident non-apparent suffering’ (apataka dukkha).
Physical affliction such as from sword cuts, spear thrusts or bullet wounds is not hidden but quite apparent and openly evident. It is, therefore, called ‘exposed suffering’ (apaticchanna dukkha) or ‘evident suffering’ (pakata dukha-dukkha).
All formations of rupa and năma which can give rise to physical and mental afflictions are not, in essence, suffering but as they are the basis of suffering of one form or another, they are known as pariyăya dukkha, quite dreadful in view of the suffering which will surely arise from them. As in the example just given, it is dreadful like giving one’s guarantee to a transaction by signing a bond for which recompensation has to be made later.
This dukkha-dukkha type of suffering is intrinsic. There is no beating about the bush as to its action, and is, therefore, known as ‘direct suffering’ (viparinăma dukkha).
Of these seven types of dukkha, jăti or taking birth in a new existence comes under pariyăya dukkha according to the above classification. All kinds of suffering in hell such as subjection to millions of years of incineration by hell-fires, tortures by the hell-keepers, arise because of birth in hell as a consequence of past akusala kamma. All kinds of suffering in the realm of petas such as starvation, scorching fires for millions and millions of years arise because of birth in that realm as a consequence of akusala kamma. Hardships and troubles in the animal kingdom suffered by animals such as cattle, elephant, horse, dog, pig, chicken, bird, goat, sheep, insects, etc. arise because they happen to take birth in animal existence.
Human misery characterised by scarcity of essentials for living such as food, clothing, etc. is brought about by the fact of taking birth in the human existence. Even when well-provided for as in the case of affluent people, there is no escape from suffering, inflicted on them in the form of physical and mental distress due to illness and disease or unfulfilled desire, fear of oppression by the enemies, ageing, etc. All these miseries come about because of jăti in the human world. Being thus, the foundation for all the suffeirngs that ensue throughout the whole span of life, taking birth in a particular existence, jăti, is regarded as dukkha.
MISERY IN A MOTHER’S WOMB
When one takes conception in a mother’s womb, one comes into being in the disgusting womb which is situated between the stomach, filled with undigested food, and the rectum, the receptacle for excreta, faeces and urine, depending on one’s body substance on the parents’ sperm and blood. Very loathsome indeed! The very thought of having to stay in the filthy mass of the sperm and blood is revolting and nauseating. And there is no knowing whether one has descended into a human womb or the womb of a cow or a dog.
A dhamma-teaching thera of 20 or 30 years ago used to recite a verse ‘Dhamma cradle, Emerald cradle’ in the course of his sermons. The verse gave a description of various kinds of cradles ranging from emerald-studded golden cradles for royal infants to the miserable wicker baskets of poverty-stricken families. In one stanza of the verse was the query ‘Ageing is gradually creeping. For which cradle are you heading?’ This question is quite apt since after ageing comes finally death. And if craving (tannhă) still remains, death will inevitably be followed by rebirth in a new existence. Even if one is reborn in the human plane, one is bound to start life in one cradle or another. The question is ‘Which kind of cradle?’ Emerald studded golden cradle awaits those with abundance of wholesome kammas; while those burdened with unwholesome kammas will head straight for a wicker basket in a wretched home. The verse was an exhortation urging people to do meritorious deeds for assurance of a high class cradle in their next existence.
We would also urge you now just to ponder a while on the question of which mother’s womb you are destined to. And to become mindful of the dreadful suffering attendant upon birth and work for cessation of cycle of rebirths. Even if one cannot strive for complete liberation yet, at least endeavour for security against lowly destinations.
What we have described now is how one is faced with dreadful suffering of rebirth from the moment of descent into the mother’s womb. Then, during the period of gestation for 9 or 10 months, other sufferings follow. When the mother suddenly moves, sits down or stands up, the extreme suffering one undergoes is like a kid being whirled round by a drunkard or a snake’s young fallen into the hands of a snake charmer. The young creature in the womb of a modern mother, much given to athletic exercises, is likely to be subjected to more intense sufferings. When the mother happens to drink something cold or swallow anything hot or acid, his suffering becomes a real torture.
SUFFERING AT BIRTH
In addition, it is said that obstetric pains of a mother at childbirth could be so excruciating as to prove even fatal; the child’s agony could be no less and could prove fatal, too. The pain that arises after birth when his delicate body is taken in by rough hands, washed and rubbed with rough clothes, is like scrapping the sore spots of a very tender wound. The pains described so far relate to suffering gone through from the moment of conception to the time of birth.
SUFFERING THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE LIFE
Thereafter, there will, of course, be distresses and discomforts such as stiffness, heat, cold, itch, while he is still too young to alleviate them himself by changing of postures through moving, shaking, sitting or standing. Innumerable difficulties are bound to follow when he grows up and comes face to face with the problems of earning a living. He will become subjected to diseases and illnesses, maltreatment and oppression by others.
One goes through all these sufferings simply because one happens to take a new existence. Accordingly, jăti (rebirth) being the foundation of all the miseries of the whole existence, is defined as dukkha by the Buddha. A careful consideration will confirm the accuracy of this definition. Rebirth is really dreadful – like signing a document which will later give rise to complications. Thus, jăti is dukkha because of its dreadfulness. To summarise, the physical and mental afflictions are occasioned (arise) because of jăti in each existence. Only when there is no more rebirth will there be total release from these inflictions. Thus the Blessed One had taught that the very origination of new existence, jăti, is suffering.
1. Dukkha is encountered in every existence.
2. No jăti, no dukkha.
3. Therefore, origination of new existence (jăti) is dukkhă.
2. JARÂ DUKKHA – SUFFERING BECAUSE OF AGEING
Ageing means becoming grey-haired, toothless, wrinkled, bent, deaf and poor in eyesight. In other words, decay which has set in, very recognizably, in the aggregates of năma and rupa of a particular existence. However, the ageing of the năma components of the body is not so apparent. Indications of it such as failing memory and dotage become noticeable, usually to close associates, only when one gets very old.
The physical ageing goes on throughout life quite unmistakably, but becomes very noticeable only when one advances in age and is no longer youthful. The under ten-year-old age group does not have the same body as those older than them. There is continuous change in physical appearance. The above twenties and thirties assume an appearance quite different from that of their younger days. These changes are indications of the ageing that is taking place. Here, by ageing (jară) we mean decaying in the sense of getting grey-haired, etc., which is clearly discernible.
Jară (ageing) is concerned with just the static moment (thiti) of the aggregates of năma and rupa and has no essence of pain or suffering as it is. Because of ageing,, there occurs failing of vital force in the whole system of the body, impairment of eyesight, and hearing, wearing out of the sense of smell and taste, undermining of physical strength, growing unattractiveness, loss of youthfulness, loss of memory and intellectual power, disrespect and contempt on the part of the young people (being addressed as old foggy, grand sire, granny, etc.), treatment as a drag on the society. Such disabilities, of course, give rise to physical and mental suffering. Since it forms the source of physical and mental suffering, the Buddha had said that jară (ageing) is fearful dukkha. People are really afraid of old age. They are forever seeking ways and means of stemming the advent of old age. But all in vain. Decay sets in inexorably with grey hair and falling teeth, etc. That ageing is such a dreadful dukkha is so plain that we need make no further elaboration on it.
3. MARANÂ DUKKHA – DEATH AS SUFFERING
Death means the extinction of jivita năma, rupa, or the life principle which has been in ceaseless operation since the time of conception as conditioned by individual kamma in a particular existence. Referring to this, the Buddha had said, ‘sabbe byayanti maccuno’ – all mortals are in constant fear of death. Death as conditioned by birth, death by violence, death by natural causes, death from termination of the life-span, death from exhaustion of wholesome kammic results are all synonymous terms describing the same phenomenon of extinction of the life principle, jivita năma, rupa.
Death means just the moment of dissolution of the jivita năma, rupa and is not by itself pain nor distress. However, when death comes, one has to abandon the physical body and leave behind one’s dear and near ones, relatives and friends, together with all of one’s own properties. The thought of leaving the present existence is very frightening and every mortal is seized with fear of death. Uncertainty as to which existence one is bound to after death causes great fear too. Because of its fearsome, dreadful nature, the Buddha had described death as dukkha.
According to the commentary, wicked men burdened with unwholesome past, see on their death-bed the evil deeds they had done or signs of their foul deeds or signs of the apăya state in which they are doomed to take rebirth, all of which give them instense mental anguish. Good men with accumulation of wholesome kammas suffer too as they dwell on the approaching death because they cannot bear to part from all that they hold dear, beloved ones and properties.
As death draws near, all mortal beings are subjected to severe attacks of diseases and illnesses which rack the body with unbearable pain. Death being the basis of all such physical and mental pain, has thus been named dukkha by the Blessed One.
4. SOKA DUKKHA – SORROW AS SUFFERING
Soka, sorrow is the worrying and the state of being alarmed in one affected by loss of relatives, etc:
1. When loss of relatives occurs through burglary, robbery, insurgency, epidemics, fire, flood or storm, the misfortune is terms ńativyasana;
2 When destruction of property or possessions is occasioned by king’s action (government), theft or fire disaster, it is known as bhogavyasano;
3 Deterioration in health and longevity brought about by pernicious illness or disease is called rogavyasano;
4 Lapses in morality is silavyasana; and
5 Deviation from the Right View to the Wrong View is ditthivyasana.
Sorrow with intense worry and alarm is felt especially when one is bereaved of lowed ones such as husband, wife, sons and daughters, brothers, sisters, etc., or when disastrous economic misfortune befalls one. This soka, sorrow is, strictly speaking, domanassa vedană (a displeasurable feeling) and as such is intrinsic suffering (dukkha-dukkha). Overwhelming distress occasioned by sorrow is liable to cause pyrosis or heartburn which may contribute to premature ageing and even death. Being a basis for other physical pain, too, soka is fearsome and is, therefore, named dukkha by the Blessed One.
Everyone is in fear of sorrow. Capitalizing on this fear, many books have been written on the subject of ‘freedom from sorrow’, but the real freedom from sorrow may be achieved only through the practice of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. By developing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, complete freedom from sorrow can be enjoyed as exemplified by the minister Santati and Patăsăra Theri. At present times, too, distressed persons, some having lost husbands or others troubled by business failures, have come to our meditation centre to practise the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Day by day, their sorrow diminished gradually and finally complete freedom from sorrow comes to them.
5. PARIDEVA DUKKHA – LAMENTATION AS SUFFERING
Lamentation is the material quality of sound produced by wailing on the part of one affected by loss of relatives or property. Absent-mindedly and hysterically the distressed one clamours, proclaiming the virtues of the dead and the quality of the lost property or denouncing the enemy or agency responsible for his disaster.
In the abstract sense, lamentation is the material quality of sound and, therefore, not suffering in essence. However, such wailing and hysterical proclamations produce physical discomfort and pain. The Buddha had, therefore, declared parideva (lamentation) as dukkha. To cry is to be subjected to pain which is suffering or dukkha in Pali.
6. DUKKHA – PHYSICAL PAIN
Physical discomforts in the body such as stiffness, feeling hot, aches, tiredness, itch, etc. are suffering. These physical pains are true intrinsic suffering called dukkha-dukkha, which everyone knows and is afraid of. Even animals such as dogs, pigs, fowls or birds run for safety at the slightest hint of getting beaten or shot at because they too are afraid of physical pain. That physical pain is suffering needs no elaboration. It is important to know that vyădhi (sickness or disease) comes under this category of dukkha (physical pain). Physical pain is generally followed by mental distress, which is a cause of mental pain too, and it is named dukkha (dreadful suffering).
If physical pain is mindfully noted in accordance with the Satipatthăna method, mental pain is averted. Only physical pain is felt then. The Blessed One spoke in praise of this practice by which mental pain is averted and one suffers only physical pain. Permitting mental suffering to arise by failing to make note of the physical pain is denounced by the Buddha. “It is like,” he said, “attempting to remove the first thorn which is hurting by pricking out with another thorn, when the second thorn breaks and remains embedded in the flesh. One then suffers two pains, one from the first thorn and the additional pain from the second thorn.” This illustration deserves careful consideration.
7. DOMANASSA – GRIEF AS SUFFERING
Domanassa (grief) denotes mental agony such as displeasure, solicitude (anxiety), misery, sadness, fear, etc. Domanassa is also intrinsic suffering (dukkha-dukkha). All mortal beings are well-acquainted with it and fear it, which therefore needs no elaboration. Domanassa not only oppresses the mind, but may also torture the body. When one is fiercely gripped by grief, one goes about dejectedly without sleep or food for days on end, with the consequent impairment of health and even advent of death. It is truly a formidable dukkha from which only anagamis and arahats are exempt. Individuals who practise Satipatthăna meditation can overcome grief if they make strenuous effort of noting it as it arises. In this way, they can reduce the pain or grief to a considerable extent even if they cannot overcome it completely.
8. UPÂYâSA – DESPAIR AS SUFFERING
Upăyăsa (despair) is ill-humour or resentment produced by excessive mental agony in one affected by loss of relatives, etc. (nativyăsana). It causes repeated bemoaning over the loss resulting in burning of the mind and physical distress. Upăyăsa is, therefore, dukkha, suffering because of the intense burning of the mind and physical pain accompanying it. People, accordingly, recognize this state of despair as a fearsome dukkha.
The commentary illustrates the differences between soka (sorrow), parideva (grief) and upăyăsa (despair) as follows:
Sorrow is like cooking oil or dye-solution in a pot over a slow fire. Lamentation is like its boiling over when cooking over a quick fire. Despair is like what remains in the pot after it has boiled over and is unable to do so anymore, going on cooking in the pot till it dries up.
9. SUFFERING FROM ASSOCIATION WITH THE HATEFUL
Association with the hateful is meeting with disagreeable beings and sankhăra formations. Such meeting is not itself unbearable, but when one meets with disagreeable beings or undesirable objects, reaction sets in at once in the form of mental disturbance and physical discomposure. As it serves as a cause of mental and physical distress, association with the hateful is designated by the Buddha as dukkha (dreadful suffering). The world in general also recognizes such encounters as undesirable suffering. Some people may go to the extent of making a wish (praying) not to have the misfortune of encountering undesirable persons or things in their succession of existences. However, in a world where pleasantness and unpleasantness co-exist, one has to face both according to circumstances. One’s wish may be fulfilled, if at all, only partially by having less occasions to face unpleasant people and objects.
The important thing is to endeavour to meet unpleasant situations with correct mental attitude. The best course of action is to revert to the practice of Satipatthăna, that is, noting incessantly so that the mental process stands at the stage of just ‘hearing’, ‘seeing’, etc. When unpleasurable sensations are felt in the body, mental distress must be averted by continuous noting of ‘touching’, ‘knowing’, ‘pain’, etc.
10. SUFFERING FROM SEPARATION FROM THE BELOVED
Separation from the loved is to be parted from agreeable beings and sankhăra formations. Such separation is not itself a painful feeling. However, when separation from beloved ones (husbands, wives, children) takes place, by death or while still alive, or when parted from one’s treasured possessions, mental agony sets in at once. It may even develop into sorrow, lamentation and despair. One is bound to be overwhelmed with grief under such circumstances. As it promotes such various mental afflictions, the Blessed One had called the separation from the loved ones and desirable objects dukkha (dreadful suffering). The world also recognizes such separation as painful suffering. Some even make the wish of being to be always together with their loved ones throughout the succession of existences. Such wishes may be fulfilled when there is sufficient good kamma.
The family of the millionaire, Mendaka, comprising his wife, his son and daughter-in-law together with their servant girl, once made such a wish-to be always together in future existences-by offering food to a Paccekabuddha. As a result of this good kamma, their wish became fulfilled and they were born together forming the same group of five at the time of our Buddha. However, such kind of wish tend to promote clinging fetters and is very inappropriate for the individual with the firm resolve of complete release from the sufferings of samsara.
11. SUFFERING FROM NOT GETTING WHAT ONE WANTS
It is suffering for not getting what one wants or suffering that arises out of desire for some unobtainable object. Without practising and developing the Eightfold Path, the desire comes to the beings, ‘Oh, that we were not subjected to becoming (birth), ageing, disease and death. Oh, that we were not subjected to sorrow and lamentation, etc.’ These, of course, will not come about by mere wishing and not getting what one wants causes mental anguish. Therefore, the Buddha had described such desires as dukkha (dreadful suffering). Here, the object of one’s desire is not limited to Nibbăna only, which is free from birth, ageing, etc., but is meant to include also the worldly goings and wealth which cannot be attained just by mere desiring. Not getting them as desired is also dukkha.
12. SUFFERING FROM THE FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING
The eleven types of suffering starting from suffering of birth (jăti) to suffering of not getting what one wants (icchitalăbha dukkha) arise only because there are the five groups of grasping (upădănakkhandă); they arise dependent on these five groups. In short, therefore, these five groups of grasping is the truth of suffering.
The aggregates of material and mental formations which form the objects of clinging or grasping are called upădănakkhandă, groups of grasping. These five groups of grasping are made up of:
1 The group of material forms
2 The group of feeling
3 The group of perception
4 The group of mental concomitants
5 The group of consciousness
All sentient beings exist as such only with these five groups forming their substantive mass. They cling to their body which is merely an aggregate of material forms, regarding it as ‘I’, ‘my body’, ‘permanent’, etc. Hence, the group of material form is called the group of grasping.
The mental states, made up of consciousness and mental concomitants (cetasikas), are also grasped at, taking them to be ‘I’, ‘my mind’, ‘it is I who think’, ‘permanent’, etc. So the mental states (năma) are also known as groups of grasping. This is how attachment occurs on the groups of rupa and năma as a whole.
THE UPÂDANAKKHANDÂS AT THE MOMENT OF SEEING
To consider each separate phenomenon in detail, the upădănakkhandă is conspicuous every time one sees an object. Likewise, the upădănakkhandă is prominent on every occasion of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, imagining (thinking). At the moment of seeing, the seeing eyes, the object of sight and consciousness of seeing are quite conspicuous. In this consciousness of seeing are comprised pleasant or unpleasant feeling of seeing, perception or recognition of the object seen, making effort and bending the mind to accomplish the act of seeing and the knowledge that an object is just seen.
People who cannot practise insight meditation or those practising insight meditation, who have not yet advanced to the stage of appreciating the nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta, remain attached to the eye, object of sight, etc. They regard the clear eyesight as ‘I’, as ‘my eye’ and ‘permanent’. When they see the body and limbs, the attachment arises, ‘I see my own body; this is my hand, it exists permanently.’ Seeing other people, they appear as a person, a creature, enduring, lasting. Because of such arousal of attachment to them material forms of eye and object of sight are termed rupa-upădănakkhandă.
In addition to pleasant feeling or unpleasant feeling in seeing an object, there is also neutral feeling which is not elaborated separately here due to space constraint. What is concerned with wholesome neutral feeling is included in pleasant feeling; what is concerned with unwholesome neutral feeling is included in unpleasant feeling. Both pleasant and unpleasant feelings give rise to attachment: ‘It is I’, ‘It is my feeling’, it is everlasting’, ‘I feel well’, ‘I feel terrible’. Causing attachment in this way, pleasant or unpleasant feeling on seeing an object, is called vedană-upădănakkhandha.
On perceiving an object, attachment arises in this way too: ‘I recognize it’, ‘I don’t forget it’. So it is termed the grasping group of perception (sańńa-upădănakkhandă).
Exercising the will to see an object is called cetană (volition). In the vocabulary of the text, it is termed incitement, exhortation, or urging, but will or volition expresses its meaning quite clearly. Manasikăra, which goes along with cetană, is pondering or bending the mind towards an object. Then there is phassa (contact) which comes into play too, but as cetană and manasikăra are the predominating factors, we will mention only these two. There is also attachment towards them as ‘I’ or ‘enduring’. Hence, these two mental concomitants of willing and bending the mind involved in an act of seeing are named sankhara-upădănakkhandha. By sankhara, it is meant conditioning. In the case of seeing, it means bringing about conditions to accomplish the act of seeing.
Just knowing that an object is seen is eye-consciousness, which is also attached to ‘as I see, I know’, the seeing ‘I’ is everlasting. Because of the possibility of such attachment, consciousness is called vińńăna-upădănakkhandă.
1 At the moment of seeing, the eye and object of sight are rupa-upădănakkhandă.
2 Feeling pleasant or unpleasant is vedană-upădănakkhandă.
3 Recognizing or remembering the object is sańńa-upădănakkhandă.
4 Exercising the will to see and turning the attention on the object is sankhara-upădănakkhandă.
5 Just knowing that an object is seen is vińńana-upădănakkhandă.
To note seeing as ‘seeing’ every time an object is seen is to enable one to see the said five groups of rupa and năma as they really are, and having seen them, to remain at the stage of just seeing and not to become attached to them as ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘permanent’, ‘pleasant’, ‘good’, etc.
To understand the purpose of noting every phenomenon, we have provided the following aphorism.
Fundamental principles of vipassană meditation practice:
1. By contemplating what, is vipassană meditation developed?
By noting the five aggregates, which may cause attachment, as they really are.
2. When and for what purpose should they be noted?
They should be noted at the moment of arising to cut of attachment.
3. Failing to note at the moment of arising opens the way to attachment to them as ‘permanent’, ‘pleasant’ or ‘self’.
4 Noting the five aggregates every time they arise dispels attachment. Thus, clear insight as to their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness or suffering is developed.
In (3) above, ‘at the moment of arising’ means at the moment of seeing, hearing, etc. In (4) above, ‘every time they arise’ connotes every act of seeing, hearing, etc., as it happens.
FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING AT THE MOMENT OF HEARING
At the moment of hearing, obviously there is ear which can hear easily; there is also sound which is quite audible and consciousness which knows that a sound has been heard. In this consciousness of hearing is comprised pleasant or unpleasant feeling of hearing, perception of the sound, willing, exertion and turning the mind towards the object of sound to accomplish the act of hearing and just knowing that a sound has been heard.
People who have not the opportunity to practise mindfulness and, therefore, have no knowledge of reality as it truly is, become attached to all phenomena (dhammas) prominent at the moment of hearing as ‘I’, ‘mine’, etc. Because of the liability of such attachments, the ear and the material body of sound are known as rupa-upădănakkhandă. The pleasant or unpleasant feeling of hearing is vedană-upădănakkhandă. The perception of sound is sańńă-upădănakkhandă. Exercising the will to see an object and turning the mind towards it is sankhara-upădănakkhandă. Just knowing that a sound has been heard is vińńăna-upădănakkhandă. To recapitulate:
1. At the moment of hearing, the ear and the sound are rupa -upădănakkhandă.
2. The pleasant or unpleasant feeling of hearing is vedană-upădănakkhandă.
3. Recognizing or remembering the sound is sańńă-upădănakkhandă.
4. To will to hear the sound and and turning the attention towards it is sankhara-upădănakkhandă.
5. Just knowing that a sound has been heard is vińńăna-upădănakkhandă.
To note hearing as ‘hearing’ every time a sound is heard is to enable one to see the said five groups of rupa and năma as they really are and having heard the sound, to remain at the stage of just hearing and not become attached to it as ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘permanent’, ‘pleasant’, ‘good’, etc.
FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING AT THE MOMENT OF SMELLING
At the moment of smelling, there is clearly the material body of the nose; there is also the smell and the consciousness which knows the smell. In this consciousness of smelling is comprised the pleasant or unpleasant feeling of smelling, recognition of the smell, exercising the will to smell and to turn the attention towards the object of smelling, and knowing of the smell.
Failure to note smelling as ‘smelling’ and to see the phenomenon of smelling as it truly is results in attachment to it as ‘I’, ‘mine’, etc. Because of the possibility of such attachment, the nose, the smell and the consciousness of smell are known as upădănakkhandhas. To recapitulate:
1 At the moment of smelling, the nose and the smell are rupa-upădănakkhandha.
2 The pleasant or unpleasant feeling of smelling is vedană-upădănakkhandha.
3 Recognizing and remembering the smell is sańńă-upădănakkhandă.
4 Exercising the will to smell and turning the mind towards the smelling object is sankhara-upădănakkhandha.
5 Just knowing of the smell is vińńăna-upădănakkhandha.
To note smelling as ‘smelling’ every time a smell is smelt is to see the said five groups of rupa and năma as they really are, and having smelt the smell, to remain at the stage of just smelling and not to become attached to it as ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘pleasant’, ‘unpleasant’, ‘good’, etc.
FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING AT THE MOMENT OF EATING
At the moment of knowing the taste through eating, there is clearly the tongue, the taste and the consciousness of the taste. In this consciousness of the taste is comprised the pleasant or unpleasant feeling of the taste, recognition or remembering the taste, exercising the will and turning the attention towards the object to accomplish the task of eating and just knowing of the taste.
Failure to note eating as ‘eating’ at the moment of eating and to see the phenomenon of eating as it truly is, results in attachment to it as ‘I’, ‘mine’, etc. Because of the possibility of such attachment, the tongue, the taste, and the consciousness of taste are known as upădănakkhandhas.
1 At the moment of eating, the tongue and the taste are rupa -upădănakkhandha.
2 The pleasant or unpleasant feeling of taste is vedană-upădănakkhandha.
3 Recognizing or remembering the taste us sańńa-upădănakkhandha.
4 Exercising the will to taste and turning the attention towards the object of taste is sankhara-upădănakkhandha.
5 Just knowing of the taste is vińńăna-upădănakkhandha.
While eating the food, preparing a morsel of the food in the hand, bringing it up and putting it in the mouth, and chewing it; all these actions are concerned with knowing the sensation of touch; knowing the taste on the tongue while chewing the food, however, is consciousness of the taste. Thus, noting the taste on every occasion of eating the food has to be carried out to see as they really are, the five groups of năma and rupa, which manifest themselves at the time of tasting and to remain at the stage of just tasting so that no attachment to it as ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘permanent’, ‘pleasant’, ‘good’, etc. can arise.
FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING AT THE MOMENT OF TOUCHING
The sense of touch encompasses a wide field. Throughout the whole body of a person, wherever flesh and blood are in good condition, is diffused kăyapasăda-rupa, the sentient surface which gives the sense of touch. Both inside the body (in the flesh, in the blood, in the muscles, in the bones, etc.) and outside the body (on the skin) this sensitive principle lies spread out not leaving an area the size of a pin-point.
Wherever this sensitive principle exists, the sense of touch may be felt. At the moment of touching, the sentitive principle which has the ability to seize the material tactile body is prominent. It becomes evident as the site of impact but not as any form or shape. Likewise, the sensitive parts of the ears, nose and tongue become evident as sites of impact where sense of hearing, smell and taste are developed.
Also prominent at the moment of impact is the material tactile body which may be any of the three elements: pathavi, tejo or vayo. The hardness, roughness, smoothness and softness one feels is pathavi; the heat felt or the warmth or cold is tejo; stiffness, pressure or motion is vayo. Such sensations of touch may arise as a result of friction between different elements in the body; or through contact, outside the body, with clothing, bedding, seats, earth, water, wind, fire or heat of the sun. Such impacts produce very vivid sensations of touch. The consciousness of touch comprises of pleasant or unpleasant feeling, perception of the impact, exercise of the will and bending of the mind to accomplish the act of touching and just knowing that a contact has been established. The feeling of pleasure or unpleasantness is especially vivid. Physical pain is the feeling of suffering (dukkhavedană) which arises through disagreeable contacts.
Failure to be mindful at the moment of touch and to see the reality as it truly is, results in the development of attachment as ‘I’, ‘mine’, etc., towards all those objects which become prominent at the time of touching. Accordingly, the site of touch, the sentient surface (sensitive principle), the feeling of touch and knowing that a contact has been made, are called upădănakkhandhas.
1. At the moment of touching, the sentient surface and the impact of the touch are rupa-upădănakkhandhas.
2. The pleasant or unpleasant feeling of touch is vedana-upădănakkhandha.
3. Recognizing or remembering the touch is sańńă-upădănakkhandha.
4. Exercising the will and turning the attention to accomplish the act of touching is sankhara-upădănakkhandha.
5. Just knowing that a contact has been made is vińńăna-upădănakkhandha.
Practice of noting the bodily postures such as going, standing, sitting, sleeping, bending, stretching, moving, rising and falling, etc. is made just to be mindful of these Groups of Grasping. When noting these body postures, the specially perceptible element of văyo which causes stiffness, pressure and motion, is seen as it truly is, just a material body (rupa) without any power of cognition. The knowing mind which takes note of the body postures is also seen as it truly is, consciousness (năma) which cognizes an object. Thus at every occasion of noting, there is always a pair: rupa (the object) which is taken note of and năma (the knowing mind which takes note of it). After perceiving his fact exactly and clearly, there follows the knowledge of cause and effect. There is the ‘going posture’ because of the desire to go. Then, perceiving clearly that rupa (the object noted) and năma (the knowing mind) arise and vanish, arise afresh and vanish again at the very moment of noting, realization comes to the yogi that these phenomena are transient, painful, distressing and are happening according to their own nature and are, therefore, not controllable (anatta). Because of this realization or conviction, there is no longer any attachment on going, standing, sitting, etc., as ‘I’, or ‘mine’.
This is how attachment is cut off in accordance with the Maha Satipatthăna Sutta which says: “There is no more attachment on anything of the world, namely, the material body or the five aggregates.” To be thus free from attachment, mindfulness on the body, the feeling, the mind and the mental objects has to be developed.
Painful feelings such as stiffness, feeling hot, aching, itching, etc., become evident at the location of impact. Failure to note the distress as it occurs and to see its true nature results in attachments: I feel stiff, I feel hot, I feel painful, I am distressed. It is to avoid such attachments that mindful noting of the distressful feeling has to be made to realize its true nature. Continuous and close watching of the painful feelings will reveal clearly how painful feelings of stiffness, hotness, aches appear to come up afresh in the body one after another in succession. Then personal conviction will come that these painful feelings exist for a moment only and then vanish and that they are, therefore, of impermanent nature. They are no longer grasped at as I, mine, permanent. One becomes free from attachments. Hence, this need for mindful note taking.
FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING AT THE MOMENT OF THINKING
Mental activities such as thinking, imagining are very extensive in scope and of frequent occurrence. In waking moments, the mind is almost constantly active. Even in the absence of any attractive, pleasant objects in one’s surroundings, imagination creates them to appear as if in real existence. The hindrances, namely, sensual desires, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, skeptical doubts are concerned with such mental activities. So are the thoughts or reflections on lust, ill-will and cruelty (kăma vitakka, vyăpăda vitakka and vihiősa vitakka). Unless these mental activities are mindfully noted as they occur, they are liable to be identified as self (atta), a living entity. Hence, it is very important to note each mental activity as it occurs.
When carefully analysed, mental activities are also five aggregates of grasping (upădănakkhandhas). Thinking may be accompanied by a happy feeling (somanassa) or an unpleasant feeling (domanassa); or thinking may arise accompanied by neither pleasant or unpleasant feeling, but a neutral feeling (upekkhă vedană). When there is no mindfulness on these three types of feelings as they occur, they are liable to be grasped at as ‘I feel pleasant, I feel fine, I feel miserable, I feel bad. I feel neither pleasant nor unpleasant’. For this liability of causing such attachments, these three types of feelings are known as vedană-upădănakkhandha.
Then, there is also evident sańńă (sense-perception) which recognizes the object on which the mind is dwelling. This sańńă is specially pronounced when trying to remember facts to speak about or when engaged in making calculations in checking accounts. Concerning this sańńă, wrong notions may arise ‘I remember. I have good memory’. Hence, it is called sańńă-upădănakkhandha.
At the moment of thinking or exercising imagination, there comes into noticeable action, phassa (clear awareness of the presence of the object), vitakka (mental inclination towards the object), manasikăra (fixing the attention on the object), cetană which incites and urges, ‘Let it be this wise, let it be that wise’. The role of cetană is especially pronounced when, for instance, an important matter happens to come up in the mind at the dead of night and it cannot be attended to. The driving urge of cetana ‘go now and tell him’ is very prominent. That immoral thoughts are accompanied by lobha, dosa, etc., and moral thoughts by alobha, adosa, amoha, saddhă, sati, etc., is clearly discerned.
The mental concomitants phassa, cetană and manasikăra are inciting agents responsible for arising of thoughts (ideas, imagination, concepts) one after another in succession. They are also at the back of every act of speaking and body movements such as going, standing, sitting, sleeping, bending, stretching, etc. The incitement, the urge concerned with each mental, vocal or physical activity is sankhăra which conditions an act by prompting, inducing, directing, etc. This conditioning role of sankhăra may result in its being identified as a person or a living entity and wrongly cleaved to as ‘I’. The notion ‘I think, I speak, I go, I do’ is wrong attachment to this conditioning sankhăra. Such attachment is known as clinging to kărakatta (attachment to performing-self). Therefore, the sankhăras, namely, phassa, cetană, manasikăra, etc., are called sankhăra-upădănakkhandha.
Then at the moment of thinking, there is also evident consciousness of the act of thinking. Burmese people regard consciousness and mental concomitants together as just mind (citta). This consciousness of the act of thinking is very commonly viewed as soul, ego (atta) for which reason consciousness is also known as vińńăna-upădănakkhandha.
In addition, at the moment of thinking, the material body which provides the base for thinking is also so evident that the uninformed people believe it is the material body which is thinking. For this reason, the material body which provides the base for thinking is known as rupa-upădănakkhandha.
The object of thought may be material (rupa), mental (năma), or name, idea, notion, concept (pańńăti). These also serve as objects of attachment. The material object belongs to rupa-upădănakkhandha. The mental object is classified under the four categories of the năma-upădănakkhandha. Pańńăti may be included in the material or mental group of grasping, whichever it corresponds with. For instance, in ‘yam picchaő na labhati, taőpi dukkham’ (not getting what one wants is suffering, not getting what one wants) is neither material nor mental; just pańńăti. The commentarial note in Mula Tika on this point says that the desire for the unattainable should be taken as dukkha.
We have made a complete analysis of the five groups of grasping which become evident at the moment of thinking. To recapitulate:
1. The material body which forms the basis of thinking at the moment of thinking is rupa-upădănakkhandha.
2. The pleasant or unpleasant feeling of thinking is vedană-upădănakkhandha.
3. Recognizing or remembering the object of thought is sańńă-upădănakkhandha.
4. Mental urging and inclination to accomplish the act of thinking, saying or doing is sankhara-upădănakkhandha.
5. Just being conscious of thinking is vińńăna-upădănakkhandha.
It is very important to realize the true nature of thought by being mindful of it every time thinking occurs. Failing to take note of it and thus failing to recognize its real nature will lead to attachment to it as ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘permanent’, ‘pleasant’, ‘good’, etc. The majority of people in these days are almost constantly clinging to these mental objects. Such attachments give rise to active processes for becoming, in accordance with upadanapaccayo bhavo of the Law of Dependent Origination, Paticca Samuppăda. And in every state of new becoming, there awaits old age, disease, death, followed by sufferings of sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair.
If, however, mindfulness is developed on each occurrence of a thought, its real nature of impermanence, painfulness and insubstantiality (anicca, dukkha, anatta) will become evident. Having thus known its true nature, no attachment to it arises. Hence, no active processes for new becoming take place. And when there is no new becoming, the mass of suffering represented by old age, disease, death, sorrow, lamentation, etc., is completely eliminated. This cessation of suffering as a result of mindfulness on each thought as it occurs is momentary. But, if the practice of noting every thought is continued, gaining temporary cessation on each noting, by the time the ariya magga becomes fully developed the mass of suffering will have been completely eradicated. Thus, while being occupied with the exercise of noting ‘rising’, ‘falling’, ‘sitting’, ‘touching’, if any thought or idea intervenes, it should be noted as ‘thinking’ or ‘idealing’.
The detailed analysis we have made above will demonstrate clearly that what becomes prominent at the six moments of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching and thinking are merely five groups of grasping. To common people who cannot practise this exercise of noting, at the moment of seeing, the subject which sees is obviously some substantial body; the external object which is seen is also obviously a woman, a man, a substantial body. Likewise, with the phenomena of hearing, etc. In reality, however, there is no such substance or mass to form a physical body. Only the five groups of grasping. Nothing exists except at the six moments of seeing, hearing, etc. They become evident only at the six moments and what become evident then are also just the five groups of grasping.
SUFFERING BECAUSE OF THE FIVE GROUPS OF GRASPING
Dreadful sufferings of new becoming, old age, death, sorrow, grief, etc. arise because of the five groups of grasping. So long as these five groups of grasping exist, dreadful sufferings of becoming, getting old, death, etc. will persist. Therefore, the five groups of grasping are themselves dreadful suffering. In short, because there is physical body (rupa), physical and mental sufferings dependent upon rupa arise. Because there is the knowing mind (năma), physical and mental sufferings based on it arise. Therefore, rupa and năma, constituting the five groups of grasping, are dreadful sufferings.
In other words, the unbearable physical and mental distresses are dreadful intrinsic sufferings known as dukkha-dukkha. Everyone fears them. Thus, dukkha vedană (feeling of pain), otherwise upădănakkhandha, is the real Truth of Suffering.
Pleasant sensations in the body and mind are agreeable, delightful, enjoyable while they last, but when they vanish, they are replaced by discomfort, dissatisfaction which, of course, is suffering. This kind of suffering, known as viparinăma dukkha, comes about through change or conversion from a pleasant state or condition to something different and is terrible. To the Ariyas, the Noble Ones, pleasant sensations are like the ogress who bewitched people with her beauty and turned them mad. For them, pleasant sensations are dreadful upădănakkhandhas all the same and constitute the real Truth of Suffering. At the same time, pleasant sensations are transitory and require constant conditioning effort to maintain the status quo. This, of course, is irksome and is, therefore, to the wise real dukkha.
The remaining upekkhă vedană, the neutral feeling and the upădănakkhandhas of sańńă, sankhăra, vińńăna and rupa are always in a state of flux, transitory and, therefore, to the Noble Ones also dreadful. As death awaits constantly, having to rely on the impermanent upădănakkhandhas for physical substance (mass or support) is dreadful, like living in a building which shows signs of collapsing at any moment.
The transitory nature of the upădănakkhandha requires constant effort at conditioning for the maintenance of the status quo. This sankhara dukkha, the troublesome task of conditioning, is also dreadful. Therefore, to the Noble Ones, not only the pleasant or unpleasant feelings, but the remaining upădănakkhandhas are also dreadful truths of suffering.
As all the five groups of grasping are regarded by the Noble Ones as really terrible suffering, the Blessed One had said in conclusion of the definition of the Truth of Suffering: “In short, the five groups of grasping, otherwise called năma and rupa which could cause attachments as ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘permanent’, ‘blissful’, ‘self’, ‘ego’ are just dreadful sufferings.”
UPÂDANÂ AND UPÂDÂNAKKHANDHA
Now we will describe the difference between upădăna and upădănakkhandha. Upădăna means tenaciously clinging or grasping of which there are four types:
grasping of sense-desires – It is attachment born of craving for sensual desires.
grasping of false views – It is the attachment to the view that there is no kamma and the result thereof; there is no after-life, no Supreme Buddha, no Arahat. All other wrong views, apart from attăditthi and silabbata, parămăsa ditthi, are known as ditthupădăna.
grasping of mere rites and ceremonies, ritualism – It is the practice of certain rituals or ceremonies which have nothing to do with understanding of the Four Noble Truths nor development of the Eightfold Path, with the belief that they will lead to release from suffering of samsăra, and to permanent peace, free from old age, disease and death. It is a brand of micchădiiihi, holding what is wrong as right.
grasping of the theory of soul – It is attachment to the belief in soul, ego, a living entity. It is the same as the wrong view of personality belief (sakkăyaditthi) and self (attaditthi).
Of the four types of grasping, kămupădăna is clinging to sensual desires, craving for them. The remaining are all various kinds of wrong views. Therefore, we can summarise (1) two kinds of grasping (upădăna): wrong view and craving for sense desires.
There are thus two kinds of attachments (upădănas) – one arising out of desire for pleasurable senses and the other because of wrong views. The objects of such attachments (upădănas) consist of the aggregates of rupa and the aggregates of năma and are known as upădănakkhandha. Summarising, we have (2) objects which can cause attachments as ‘I’, ‘mine’ are upădănakkhandha (groups of grasping).
The attachment as ‘I’ is attaditthi, the wrong view of self, which opens the way to the remaining two wrong views. When attachment arises out of desire, the objects of desire which may not even belong to one, are grasped at as if they are one’s own. The Păli texts describe how this desire leads to the possessive grasping in these words: ‘Etaő mama . . . This is mine.’ We have summarized in mnemonics (2) above this Păli texts description of possessive grasping.
The aggregates of năma, rupa which can cause attachment through wrong belief as self, living entity or possessive clinging as ‘mine’ are called aggregates of grasping (upădănakkhandhas). The mental aggregates which cannot give rise to clinging through desire or wrong view are called just khandhas (aggregates) and not upădănakkhandhas (aggregates of grasping). Such mental aggregates are the supra-mundane vedană, sańńă, san.khăra and vińńăna of the four Paths and the four Fruitions. They constitute merely aggregates of feeling, aggregates of perception, aggregates of formations and aggregates of consciousness and are not classed as aggregates of grasping (upădănakkhandhas).
The mundane types of material body, vedană, sańńă, sankhăra and vińńăna we have repeatedly mentioned above are the aggregates which incite attachment and are, therefore, called aggregates of grasping, namely, (3) rupa, vedană, sańńă, san.khăra and vińńăna.
The mundane aggregates of rupa, năma are the material bodies and rupavacara citta and cetasikas which become manifest at the six doors of senses to a person of no jhănic attainments every time he sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches or thinks. To a person of jhanic attainments, rupavacara and arupavacara jhăna cittas also become manifest at the mind’s door in addition to the above aggregates. All these five groups of grasping are the Truths of suffering which form suitable objects for Vipassană meditation. The Blessed One later described them as dhammas which should be understood exactly and rightly through Vipassană Insight, through knowledge of the Path. In the third part of our discourse, we had defined sammăditthi Path as the knowledge of Truth of Suffering, i.e. the knowledge which accrues from contemplation on these five groups of grasping.
Here, it must be stressed that these rupa, năma groups of grasping should be personally realized at the real truth of suffering by clearly perceiving their nature of arising, vanishing, impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, insubstantiality by observing mindfully rupa -upădănakkhandha (eye and sight, ear and sound, etc.) and năma-upădănakkhandhas (eye consciousness, ear consciousness, etc.) when they manifest themselves at the six doors of senses on every occasion of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.
It is a matter of gratification that some yogis of this centre have seen reality as it is by the practice of mindfulness in accordance with Satipatthăna method, i.e. taking note of every manifestation as it occurs at each of the six doors of senses. They should congratulate themselves that they have come to know the Dhamma as taught by the Blessed One: ‘In short, the five groups of grasping are suffering’ and strive all the more strenuously to attain more complete knowledge. To recapitulate, we shall go over again the mnemonics of the 12 types of the Truth of Suffering.
1. New becoming is also suffering.
2. Ageing is also suffering.
3. Death is also suffering.
4. Sorrow is also suffering
5. Lamentation is also suffering.
6. Physical pain is also suffering.
7. Grief is also suffering.
8. Despair is also suffering.
9. Association with hateful ones is suffering.
10. Separation from loved ones is also suffering.
11. It is futile to wish for freedom from ageing, disease and death and all kinds of suffering without developing the Eightfold Path; that wish will never be fulfilled. Thus wishing to get something which is unattainable is also suffering. In the mundane world, too, to hanker after what is not attainable is also suffering.
12. To summarise, the 11 types of suffering described above, the five aggregates which can incite attachment as ‘I’, ‘mine’, is really the Truth of Suffering.
We have fairly fully dealt with the definition and enumeration of the Truth of Suffering and have taken some time over it. We shall end the discourse here for today.
May you all good people in this audience, by virtue of having given respectful attention to this great Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, be able to develop the Middle Path, otherwise called the Noble Eightfold Path, by contemplating on the five groups of grasping, the Truth of Suffering which should be clearly and completely understood, and by means of the Path and Fruition according to your wish, attain and realize soon Nibbăna, the end of all sufferings.