THE CATUSACCA DIPANI – PART I: THE MANUAL OF THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

THE CATUSACCA DIPANI – PART I: THE MANUAL OF THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

The Five Khandha

  • Phenapindupamam rupam, vedana, pupphulupama,
  • Maricikipama sanna, sankhara kadalupama,
  • Mayupamanca vinnanam, desitadiccabandhuna.

The Omniscient Buddha declared: ‘The corporeality-group resembles a heap of foam which is devoid of soul-entity and essence; the feeling-resembles water bubbles which are devoid of soul-entity and essence; the perception-group resembles a mirage which is devoid of soul-entity and essence; the group of mental formations resembles the trunk of a banana tree which is devoid of soul-entity and essence; and the consciousness-group resembles deceitful appearances produced by a magician, and which are devoid of soul-entity and essence.’

The Twelve Ayatana Bases

Ajjhattika–Six Somatic BasesBahira–Six External Bases
EyeVisible Object
EarSound
NoseOdour
TongueTaste
BodyBody-contact
Mind-baseMental-object
(manayatana)(dhammayatana)

 

Sunnogamo sunnogamoti kho bhikkhave channetam ajjhattikanam ayata-nanamadhivacanam; cakkhayatanassa, sotayatanassa, ghanayatanassa, jivhayatanassa kayayatanassa, manayatanassa, gamaghatakacora ti kho bhikkhave channetam bahiranam ayatanam, ruipayatananam, saddayatananam, gandhayatananam, rasayatananam, photthabbayatananam, dhammayatananam.

‘Monks, the six somatic bases–the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind-base or consciousness (manayatana) are figuratively termed “a ruined village”. The six external bases–visible objects, sound, odour, taste, body-impressions and mental-objects are figuratively termed “gangs of robbers who plunder the village.”‘

Three Psycho-physical Elements

The Nidana-Vagga of the Samyutta-Nikaya says: 

Lokasamudayanca bhikkhave desessami lokanirodhanca,

1) Kathanca bhikkhave lokasamudayo?

  1. Cakkhuncapaticcarapeca uppajati cakkhu-vinnanam, tinnam- sangatiphasso, phassapaccaya vedana, vedanapaccaya tanha, tanhapaccaya upadanam, upadanapaccaya bhavo, bhavapaccaya jati, jatipaccaya jara- marana sokaparideva dukkhadomanassupayasa sambhavanti, evametasa kevalassa dukkhandhassa samudayo hoti.
  2. Sotanca paticca saddeca uppajjati sotavinnanam, tinnam sangati phasso; peyyala;
  3. Ghananca paticca gandheca uppajjati ghanavinnanam tinnam sangati phasso; peyyala;
  4. Jivhanca paticca raseca uppajjati jivhavinnanam tinnam sangati phasso, peyyala;
  5. Kayanca paticca photthabbeca uppajjati kayavinnanam tinnam sangati phasso, peyyala;
  6. Mananca paticca dhammeca uppajjati manovinnanam tinnam sangati phasso, peyyala, dukkhakkhandhassasamudayo hoti, evanca bhikkhave loka samudayo.

2) Kathanca bhikkhav lokanirodho?

  1. Cakkhunca paticca rupeca uppaj- jati cakkhuvinnanam tinnam sangati phasso, phassanirodha vedana nirodho, vedananirodha tanhanirodho, tanhanirodha upadananirodho, upadananirodha bhavanirodho, bhavanirodha jatinirodho, jatinirodha jaramarana sokaparideva dukkha domanassa upayasa nirujjhanti; evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti; evanca bhikkhave loka-nirodho.
  2. Sotanca paticca sadde ca uppajjati sotavinnanam, tinnam sangati phasso, phassanirodha vedana nirodho, vedananirodha, tanhanirodho, tan hanirodho tanhanirodha upadananirodho, upadananirodha bhavanirodho, bhavanirodha jatinirodho, jatinirodha jaramarana sokaparideva dukkha domanassupayasa nirujjhanti; evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti; evanca bhikkhave lokanirodho.
  3. Ghananca paticca gandhe ca uppajjati ghanavinnanam, tinnam sangati phasso, phassanirodha vedana nirodho, vedananirodha tanhanirodho tanhanirodha upadananirodho, upadananirodha bhavanirodho, bhavanirodha jatinirodho, jatinirodha jaramarana sokaparideva dukkhadomanassupayasa nirujjhanti; evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti, evanca bhikkhave lokanirodho.
  4. Jivhanca paticca rase ca uppajjati jivhavinnanam, tinnam sangati phasso, phassanirodha vedananirodho, vedananirodha tanhanirodho, tanha-nirodha upadananirodho, upadananirodha bhavanirodho, bhavanirodha jatinirodho, jatinirodha jaramarana sokaparideva dukkhadomanassupayasa nirujjhanti, evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti, evanca bhikkhave lokanirodho.
  5. Kayanca paticca photthabbe ca uppajjati kayavinnanam tinnam san-gati phasso, phassanirodha vedananirodho, vedananirodha tanhanirodho tanhanirodha upddananirodho, upadananirodha bhavanirodho, bhavanirodha jatinirodho, jatinirodha jaramarana sokaparideva dukkhadomanassupayasa nirujjhanti, evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti; evanca bhikkhave lokanirodho.
  6. Mananca paticca dhamme ca uppajjati manovinnanam, tinnam sangati phasso, phassanirodha vedananirodho, vedananirodha tanhanirodho, tanhanirodha upadananirodho, upadananirodha bhavanirodho, bhavanirodha jatinirodho jatinirodha jaramarana sokaparideva dukkhadomanassupayasa nirujjhanti; evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti, evanca bhikkhave lokanirodho.

The Buddha said:

1) ‘I will teach you, monks, the origin of repeated birth and passing away of beings in this world.

  1. What, monks, is the origin of beings ? On account of the eye, and visible object, eye-consciousnes arises. Impression (phassa) is the conjunction of the three; through phassa vedana (feeling) arises; through vedana, tanha (craving) arises; through tanha, upadana (grasping) arises; through upadana, bhava (process of becoming) arises; through bhava, jati (rebirth) arises; through jati, jaramarana (decay and death), soka (sorrow), parideva (lamentation), dukkha (pain), domanassa (grief) and upayasa (despair) arise. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering.
  2. On account of the ear and sound, ear-consciousness arises. Phassa is the conjunction of the three; through phassa, vedana arises; through vedana, tanha arises; through tanha, upadana arises: through upadana bhava arises; through bhava, jati arises; through jati, jara- marana, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa arise. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering.
  3. On account of the nose and odour, nose-consciousness arises. Phassa is the conjunction of the three; through phassa, vedana arises; through vedana, tanha arises; through tanha, upadana arises; through upadana, bhava arises; through bhava, jati arises; through jati, jara- marana, soka parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa arise. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering.
  4. On account of the tongue and taste, tongue-consciousness arises. Phassa is the conjunction of the three; through phassa, vedana arises; through vedana, tanha arises; through tanha upadana arises; through upadana, bhava arises; through bhava, jati arises; through jati, jara-marana, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa arise. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering.
  5. On account of the body and bodily impression, body-consciousness arises. Phassa is the conjunction of the three; through phassa, vedana arises; through vedana, tanha arises; through tanha, upadana arises; through upadana, bhava arises; through bhava, jati arises; through jati, jara-marana, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa arise. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering.
  6. On account of mental element and mental-object element, mind-consciousness arises. Phassa is the conjunction of the three; through phassa, vedana arises; through vedana, tanha arises; through tanha, upadana arises; through upadana, bhava arises; through bhava, jati arises; through jati, jara-marana, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa arise. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering. This is the origin of beings.

2) What, monks, is the passing away of beings?

  1. Monks, on account of the eye and visible object, eye-consciousness arises. Phassa is the conjunction of the three; through the extinction of impression, feeling becomes extinguished, through the extinction of feeling, craving becomes extinguished; through the extinction of craving, grasping becomes extinguished; through the extinction of grasping, rebirth becomes extinguished, through the extinction of rebirth, decay and death become extinguished, as well as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. This is the passing away of beings.
  2. On account of the ear and sound, ear-consciousness arises. Impression is the conjunction of the three; through the extinction of impression feeling becomes extinguished; through the extinction of feeling, craving becomes extinguished; through the extinction of craving, grasping becomes extinguished; through the extinction of grasping, rebirth becomes extinguished, through the extinction of rebirth, decay and death become extinguished, as well as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. This is the passing away of beings.
  3. On account of the nose and odour, nose-consciousness arises. Impression is the conjunction of the three; through the extinction of impression, feeling becomes extinguished, through the extinction of feeling, craving becomes extinguished; through the extinction of craving, grasping becomes extinguished; through the extinction of grasping, rebirth becomes extinguished; through the extinction of rebirth, decay and death become extinguished, as well as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. This is the passing away of beings.
  4. On account of the tongue and taste, tongue-consciousness arises. Impression is the conjunction of the three; through the extinction of impression, feeling becomes extinguished; through the extinction of feeling, craving becomes extinguished; through the extinction of craving, grasping becomes extinguished; through the extinction of grasping, rebirth becomes extinguished; through the extinction of rebirth, decay and death become extinguished, as well as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. This is the passing away of beings.
  5. On account of the body and bodily impression, body-consciousness arises. Impression is the conjunction of the three; through the extinction of impression, feeling becomes extinguished; through the extinction of feeling, craving becomes extinguished; through the extinction of craving, grasping becomes extinguished; through the extinction of grasping, rebirth becomes extinguished; through the extinction of rebirth, decay and death become extinguished, as well as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. Thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. This is the passing away of beings.
  6. On account of the mental element and mental-object element, mind-consciousness arises. Impression is the conjunction of the three; through the extinction of impression, feeling becomes extinguished; through the extinction of feeling, craving becomes extinguished; through the extinction of craving, grasping becomes extinguished; through the extinction of grasping, rebirth becomes extinguished; through the extinction of rebirth, decay and death become extinguished, as well as sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. ‘thus takes place the extinction of this whole mass of suffering. This is the passing away of beings.
  1. ‘Cakkhunca paticca rupeca uppajjati cakkhuvinnanam’. On account of the eye and visible object, eye-consciousness arises.– 3 psycho-physical elements.
  2. ‘Sotanca paticca saddeca uppajjati sotavinnanam’. On account of the ear and sound, ear-consciousness arises.-3 psycho-physical elements.
  3. ‘Ghananca paticca gandheca uppajjati ghanavinnanam’. On account of the nose and odour, nose-consciousness arises.–3 psycho-physical elements.
  4. ‘Jivhanca paticca raseca uppajjati jivhavinnanam’. On account of the tongue and taste, tongue-consciousness arises.–3 psycho-physical elements.
  5. ‘Kayanca paticca phothabbeca uppajjati kayavinnanam’. On account of the body and bodily impression, body-consciousness arises.–3 psycho- physical elements.
  6. ‘Mananca paticca dhammeca uppajjati manovinnanam’. On account of mental element and mental-object element, mind-conscioiisness arises.–3 psycho-physical elements.

Thus there are six triads making in all the eighteen psycho-physical elements.

Here, photthabba means the combination of pathavi (the element of extension), tejo (the element of kinetic-energy) and vayo (the element of motion).

Dhamma-dhatu (mental-object elements) comprise all kammically whole- some, kammically unwholesome and kammically neutral phenomena excepting the former seventeen psycho-physical elements.

The Interpretation Of Dukkha-sacca

The four inherent characteristics of dukkha-sacca are:

  1. Pilanattho — having the characteristic of oppression
  2. Sankhatattho — having the characteristic of production by combination of causes
  3. Santapattho — having the characteristic of continuously burning, heat, fire
  4. Viparinamattho — having the characteristic of change.

Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called dukkha-sacca. It means that they are dangers much to be feared by the wise. As all causally-conditioned physical and mental phenomena have the above four characteristics, they are all dukkha-sacca.

The Interpretation Of Samudaya-sacca

The four inherent characteristics of samudaya-sacca are:

  1. Ayuhanattho — having the characteristic of accumulating what would cause suffering
  2. Nidanattho — having the characteristic of constantly supply ing, or becoming a constant source of suppy of suffering
  3. Samyogattho — having the characteristic of causing union or association with suffering
  4. Palibodhattho — having the characteristic of obstructing, being an obstacle or impediment to freedom from suffering.

Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called samudaya-sacca. It means that this samudaya-sacca really helps the growth of all kinds of suffering. As tanha satisfies the above four characteristics, it is all samudaya-sacca.

The Interpretation Of Nirodha-sacca

The four inherent characteristics of nirodha-sacca are:

  1. Nissaranattho — having the characteristic of being an escape, liberation from suffering
  2. Pavivekattho — having the characteristic of being free from disturbance
  3. Amatattho — a state where there is no more death or dissolution
  4. Asankhatattho — having the characteristic of the unoriginated (Nibbana).

Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called nirodha-sacca. Nibbana alone has the above four characteristics, so it is all nirodha-sacca.

The Interpretation Of Magga-sacci

The four inherent characteristics of magga-sacca are:

  1. Niyyanattho — having the characteristic of leading to release or deliverance
  2. Hetuttho — having the characteristic of being a cause for the attainment of arahatship.
  3. Dassanattho — having the characteristic of realization of the Four Noble Truths, which is not even dreamt of in the rounds of samsara
  4. Adhipateyyattho — having the characteristic of overcoming three kinds of craving and attaining mastery over oneself.

Thus any dhamma that has the above four characteristics is called magga-sacca. Only the Eightfold Noble Path has the above four characteristics. So it is magga-sacca.

The Exposition Of Four Characteristics

Part I – The Burden Of Dukkha In The Brahma World

  1. By way of sankhata at the beginning means: to attain the five khandha of the Brahma world (i.e. to be born in Brahma world), one has to practise for jhana and samapatti in his previous existence, This endeavour to attain such states is the heavy burden of sankhata at the beginning. Such attainments can be achieved only by one who lives in remote places such as in forests and on mountains, and takes severe austerities unbearable for an ordinary man.
  2. By way of santapa in the middle means: when a being achieves the khandha of a Brahma as the resultant effect of his having reached samapatti (attainments) while in the world of men, his body and mind are incessantly burdened by the superiority conceit of ‘I am’ ‘I am.’ In the same manner, other evils, such as sassataditthi (eternalist theory), uccheda-ditthi (annihilationist theory), mada (intoxication with sensual pleasures in the Brahma plane), pamada (negligence of the dhamma) and the defilements are burdening him by way of ‘santapa’ (burning; heat; fire). When a Brahmna is being burdened by the ten kinds of defilements, he does not perceive the weight of that burden. He thinks that it is good and to his liking also. Only when there arise anxiety and repentance, then the weight of the burden caused by defilements becomes apparent. Although a person may not be aware of his being burdened by these kilesa, all those passions that are going to defile his mind are the means of burdening him. As long as that Brahma lives, the groups (khandha) which constitute his existence produce all kinds of defilements and will burden him throughout his life.
  3. By way of viparinama at the end means: the phrase ‘in the end the being is burdened by way of viparinama (change)’ means the death or dissolution of the five groups of existence pertaining to that being, and that is his viparinama-dukkha (suffering due to change). Because there is the dissolution of that Brahma’s body, he will have to be reborn in a lower plane-the sensuous plane. He may gradually go down till he reaches Avici. He may be reborn as a dog, a pig, a bird, a mosquito a gadfly, a louse, a bug and so forth. Thus the five groups of khandha belonging to that Brahma burden him by way of viparinama.

Therefore, that Brahma’s body is known as dukkha-sacca inas much as it has the four characteristics–pilanattha, sankhatatta, santapattha and viparinamattha.

Part II – The Burden of Dukkha in the Deva World

In the six abodes of devas also, the five groups of existence found in any devas will firstly burden him by way of sankhata at the beginning, by way of santapa in the middle, and finally by way of viparinama.

1) Sankhata dukkha: here the burden by ‘sankhata’, may be explained as follows: It briefly means alms-giving, restraint of bodily and verbal actions, and restraint of mental action. Only when one has performed these wholesome deeds in this present life will he be able to arise in the deva-plane in his next birth and attain the body of a deva. He will not be able to achieve such a state by developing his mental groups only. By giving away his property to others in charity, a person who has wealth of a hundred kyats or a thousand kyats may be reduced to poverty in a single day; morality means strict observance and restraint. If one does not practise alms-giving and morality, he is bound to be reborn in the lower worlds in his next birth. So it is necessary to perform these wholesome deeds to reach the deva world. Even when they arise in the happy course of existence by virtue of their wholesome deeds done in the previous existences, if they have offered on a small scale in their past existence, they will have to lead a base life in their present existence. The more they practiced dana and sila, the better positions they will enjoy in their present existence. So people have to practice alms-giving spending a lot of money and also observe precepts with great self-control, because they fear that they may be low down in lower worlds in their next existence. When they have to do this merely because it is essential for their future welfare, it is dukkha.

Anything that is performed compulsorily is dukkha. If, without prac- tising dana and sila, a being were able to arise in the deva-plane after his death, or if he were able to arise in the Brahma plane without prac- tising calm, who would care to perform such wholesome deeds as dana, sila and bhavana.?

2) Santapa dukkha: Once the beings obtain the bodies of devas in the deva-planes, great fire of passion rise up from the body and burn that deva throughout his life, dosa, moha, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa and upayasa, arise in his life in the fullness of time. This is how a deva is burdened by way of santapa.

3) Viparinama dukkha: Again, while the devas are thus enjoying pleasures in the deva-plane, their span of life expires, and just like a big fire suddenly put out by an external agency, these devas die suddenly, and generally they arise in the lower worlds. In fact, their khandha cause them to arise in the lower worlds. This is how the devas are burdened by way of viparinama finally.

Out of three ways of burdening at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, the burden of sankhata is very heavy for Brahmas. Because they are able to bear the heavy burden of sankhata, the santapa in the middle becomes a little lighter for them. The burden of viparinama also comes after a long time. Their life-span is calculated in terms of kappa (world-cycles).

In the case of devas in the six deva-worlds, the burden of sankhata is not heavy. The practice of dana and sila is a thousand times easier than the practice of jhana and bhavana. As the burden of sankhata is not heavy and as kilesa have not even faded, the burden of santapa is very heavy when one becomes a deva. The fire of passion and sensous lust arisen out of the six sense-doors burns those devas up to the end of their lives. The remaining fire of defilements also burns when the time is ripe. The burden by way of viparinama also comes very quickly. Their span of life is calculated in terms of years, months and days. The life- span of the devas is like the wink of an eye when compared to that of Brahmas. Though there is said to be pleasures and enjoyments in the whole of the six deva-worlds, all these are fires of kama and raga that are burning them.

Thus the khandhas of six deva-worlds burden the devas in four ways and as the burden is manifest it is clearly dukkha-sacca.

Part III – The Burden Of Dukkha In The Human World

In the case of men, too, the mental and physical phenomena in their khandha always burden them in three ways of sankhata, santapa and viparinama.

1) Sankhata dukkha: As they have not to strive very hard in the field of sankhata, their burden of santapa is very heavy, and is a hundred thousand times greater than that of a deva. Their time of destruction too comes to them very quickly. Their span of life is an infinitesimal fraction of that of a deva.

2) Santapa dukkha: How heavily the khandha of men are burdened by way of santapa may be explained as follows: The trouble of being conceived in the womb of a mother, the trouble of having to be born, the trouble of feeling warm when residing in a warm region during the warm weather, the trouble of feeling cold when residing in a cool region during the cold weather, the trouble of living in the torrid zone and exposing oneself to the heat of the scorching sun, the blowing of hot wind and the biting by flies and fleas, the immense trouble to be undertaken by a cultivator to cultivate his lands amidst those troubles for the purpose of his livelihood, the trouble of serving under a government, the trouble of having to transact civic duties, the trouble concerning one’s kith, and kin, the trouble of feeding the so called body morning and evening so that it may live, the trouble of changing the postures every now and then as one is not able to remain for long in any one posture during one of the four modes of deportment, the trouble of supplying nutritive essence to the defilements that arise at the six sense-doors and which may be compared to ogres and demons. These are all suffering which are the common ways of the world. There are other kinds of suffering such as the troubles arising out of the over-enjoyment of sensuous pleasures, the trouble arising out of earning a livelihood by performing evil deeds, the trouble of maintaining wife and children, trouble of becoming a man among people who profess a faith involving wrong views, thus dragging him to the lower worlds as long as he remains in that clan or nation, the troubles arising from self- mortification by living near the fire during the hot season and by remaining in the water during the cold season, etc., which are fruitless and are the practices of people of wrong views, the trouble connected with disease, bruises, wounds and pains, and the immense troubles caused by extern enemies, such as water, fire, thieves, rulers and those disliked.

Thus the burdens of santapa for human beings, in the round of samsara are various and heavy. The body of human beings burdens them in such a manner by way of santapa.

3) Viparinama dukkha: The khandha of men burden them by viparinama. To have become a man is one of the rare opportunities, and even when a being arises in the world of men, he is liable to die at any moment from the time of conception in the mother’s womb up to the end of the span of his life.

Thus at the embryonic stage immediately formed after conception a being has the appearance of a little drop of butter-oil scum attached to a fine woollen thread. Then follows the abbuda (an oval shaped tiny mass), then the pesi (the lump of flesh), then the ghana (clot), then the pasakha (off-shoots), in which later stage arms, legs, etc., are forming. In the whole of the round of rebirths, a being arises and perishes countless times in any one of the above-mentioned stages of life. Thus khandha of men burden them in the four ways, and so this is purely dukkha-sacca.

Part IV – The Burden Of Dukkha In The Lower Planes

The khandha of beings in the four lower worlds burden them by four ways.

1) Sankhata dukkha: Unwholesome volitional actions cause beings to arise in the four lower worlds. There is the declaration: ‘Papasmimramate mano’ (The minds of beings take delight in evil actions). They perform evil actions according to their wishes and do not consider it as suffering while they can enjoy their lives according to their inclinations, and so its burden of sankhata consequences may be said to be not very heavy, but by judging the severity of the resultant effects, it may be said that its burden of sankhata consequences is very heavy indeed.

2) Santapa dukkha: As regards the beings that arise in the four lower worlds, the Buddha declared that it was not possible to explain in full how these beings are burdened by santapa, because they are numerous and it would occupy a great deal of time. They have been discussed generally in the Samvega-Vatthu.

Those who arise in hell will have their bones, nerves, flesh, hearts, lungs, brains, etc., all red-hot and tongues of fire will spring out of their skins. Thus they will remain for hundreds of thousands, billions, trillions, and decillions of years, experiencing intolerable heat. So long as their resultant effects are not exhausted they will not be free from such misery. In like manner there are myriads of beings who are arising in the various lower worlds, and who are suffering there for decillions and decillions of years.

(The Samvega-Vatthu also describes the santapa-dukkhe relating to the petas, ghosts, asuras (demons) and animals.)  

3) Viparinama dukkha: In the case of viparinama at the end which is the passing away, one may arise in an infernal region for a single unwholesome volitional action; and when resultant effect comes to an end, one may pass away from there due to the burden of viparinama and be reborn in a lower region which is deeper than that of one’s previous existence. One may not have the opportunity to arise in the happy higher planes even after thousands of existences.

Here the explanation given by the Sammohavionodani Commentary may be pointed out. For beings wandering in samsara the number of existences in which they live up to the principles of virtue are comparatively few. Most of the existences are in the lower worlds where beings prey upon one another.

Even if they happen to be reborn in the world of men for many a time, in one out of a hundred of such existences would they be able to encounter the Buddha-Dhamma and practise it. They would hold wrong views or be vicious people in a greater number of existences. Evil conduct in deeds, words and thought done by any being in an existence is incalculable. So, among worldly beings existing in the present life, any one being possesses myriads of evil actions done by him in the innumerable past existences that could drag him to hell.

Those beings who are destined to arise in the hells, in the peta world and in the asura world also possess myriads of old accumulated unwwholesome volitional actions; and the same is the case with those who arise in the planes of devas and Brahmas.

If a being who dies from the world of men, the deva plane or the Brahma plane happens to be reborn for a time in hell, all the unwholesome kamma done by him in his past existences will have the opportunity to play their parts. One evil kamma after another would cause him to be reborn continually in the four lower worlds and he would not have an opportunity to arise in the happy course of existence in another one thousand, ten thousand or a hundred thousand existences. A being bound to be reborn in the lower worlds by having performed a comparatively small amount of evil action, could arise there continuously for a great number of aeons due to his successive past kamma. There are decillions and decillions of such beings who become ‘rooted in hell’ and who have no opportunity to arise in the happy course of existence.

Here ends the brief exposition as to how the beings belonging to four lower worlds are burdened by way of way of santapa and viparinama.

This also explains how the khandha of a being in any one existence is burdened by sankhata, santapa and viparinama.

A Multitude Of Dukkha For Cultivators

The five groups of existence corporeality group and mental groups of a cultivator burden him by sankhata, santapa and viparinama every month and every year.

1) Sankhata dukkha: In cultivating the lands and consuming the yearly crops, firstly the trouble of tilling the lands, sowing the seeds and looking after the plants burden the cultivator by way of sankhata.

2) Santapa dukkha: The trouble of looking after the standing crop, reaping the harvest, threshing corn, storing the corn in the granary, guarding the granary, disposing of the corn thus stored, living on the sale proceeds of the corn, sustaining such evil actions as lobha, dosa, mana, issa and macchariya–all these burden the cultivator by santapa.

3) Viparinama dukkha: Moreover, he is burdened by viparinama daily when he has to consume his wealth, thus reducing the amount. Here, one may argue: ‘Only the destruction of property by fire or water should be termed “burden”. The gradual decrease of wealth owing to expenditure should not be termed a “burden”. This is an argument advanced by bitterly ignorant persons. If the crop thus acquired by the cultivator be permanent, i.e. it can never become less and exhausted, his one year’s labour would be sufficient to maintain him peacefully for the rest of his life. Thus he would be free from the trouble of tilling the ground again, etc. He would even have an opportunity to live his whole life spending his time in practising the Buddha-Dhamma and thereby attaining a great deal of supramundane benefit. As it is, the crop is not permanent, but impermanent. As the crop becomes less and exhausted due to daily usages he is reduced to poverty and dire straits. For that reason, when the next rainy season starts, he has to take the trouble of tilling his land, cultivating it. In this manner he will have to continue from year to year till he becomes old and dies at last. Although he has obtained the opportunity of ‘becoming a man’, which is a rare opportunity, as he has no opportunity to hear the Buddha-Dhamma and practise it, he misses the chance of reaping supramundane benefits. There is no way out for those foolish people who are entangled is such worldly pleasures as these destructible and impermanent things which can never lead one to the state of permanent happiness.

Wise people regard all these as ‘unsatisfactoriness of life’, because one has no chance to escape from the sphere of suffering; has not found a way out, has to encounter such suffering in his future births, has no opportunity to practise the Buddha-Dhamma in this present birth and has to take the trouble of tilling the soil, etc. To these wise people all are the same, whether one loses his property by spending for himself or by its being destroyed by fire or water. Ultimately they regard the sensuous pleasures found in the world of men, the planes of devas and Brahmas–in the thirty-one planes of existence as unsatisfactoriness of life.

Those foolish people who have no such kind of understanding would feel sorry if their properties were destroyed by fire or water, because they could not use them for themselves, but they would not be sorry if their property lessened owing to their own expenditure according to their will and pleasure. They would feel quite satisfied with that. So long as one’s heart does not burn at such wastage and deterioration, one will never have a chance of escaping such suffering. Only when one’s mind is moved at that, will one have a chance to do so. Then only will one be able to realise the groups of existence found in the world of men, the deva plane and the Brahma plane as sufferinng, and not otherwise. Only if a person clearly discerns the various grades of advantages enumerated above, will he be able to realise as suffering all the days, months, years and world cycles he has wasted in many of his past existences without reaping any benefit, just like throwing water into the sand. This is the answer to the argument.

The above is the exposition how the crops which are produced and exhausted yearly burden a cultivator in three ways: sankhata, santapa and viparinama.

Relying on this principle, discriminate and understand how a being is burdened by various kinds of suffering for days and months continuously. Ponder over the matter and understand how in this cosmos, earning wealth for one’s livelihood and spending money on food and clothing are burdening in three ways. Extend this to the cases of men, devas and Brahmas who have enjoyed sensuous pleasures in their respective planes, by virtue of their having done wholesome volitional actions in respect of gifts, morality and mental development in wandering in samsara.

Sense Object And Suffering

In perceiving objects, when the visible object comes into contact with the eye-organ, it is pleasurable to the eye. When the visible object is removed, the sense pleasure to the eye disappears.

When sound comes into contact with the ear-organ, it is pleasurable to the ear. When the sound, is removed the sense pleasure to the ear disappears.

The same principle holds good in the cases of nose and odour, tongue and taste, body and tangible object, mental element and mind object-element.

Corresponding to the six sense-objects, there are six kinds of craving: craving for visible objects, for sounds, odour, taste bodily-impression, mental impressions; and also six kinds of feeling: feeling associated with seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, bodily-lmpression and mental-impression.

To feed the six kinds of craving, six kinds of sense-objects have to be kept in readiness. Those who are following these sensuous pleasures cannot get rid of them. These sense objects are also subject to decay. So feelings such as joy and mentally agreeable feeling burden the beings in all their existences by sankhata, santapa and viparinama. They are not able to get out of this pit of suffering for many existences and world-cycles. Nor are they able to obtain the opportunity of practising the Dhamma which can lead them to deliverance. They only deviate from this course and are tempted to follow the previously mentioned disadvantageous ways.

The above is the exposition as to how beings are continuously burdened by the five groups of existence at every hour and at every moment. Highly obvious facts have been sought and set out in the above exposition of viparinama dukkha.

I shall now briefly explain the viparinama dukkha alone. In this samsara, suffering in the four lower worlds is intense. Those who know of it greatly dread to fall there. As for those who do not know of it, they have to suffer there for their ignorance.

Unwholesome volitional actions which are the seeds of birth in the lower worlds cling to sakkaya-ditthi (the belief in a permanent personality). When this sakkaya-ditthi becomes strong, these unwholesome volitional actions become powerful. When they fade away, those bad kamma also fade away. When this sakkaya-ditthi ceases, those kamma also cease. For example, in introducing a light into a room, the flame may be compared to evil kamma. When the fire is strong, the light becomes bright, and when the fire becomes weak, the light also becomes dim. When the fire dies out, the light also disappears.

Although the beings with sakkaya-ditthi are bound for hell, they may know to some extent the intensity of suffering in the lower worlds, and they may perform evil actions, simply because they are tempted by their hellish element. What can be said then of those people who are either utterly ignorant of this or who maintain false views? Their hellish element will play its part completely.

While wandering in samsara, there are very few existences where a being can understand what evil actions are and the dangers of the lower worlds. There are a great number of existences where they do not know about it, or where they maintain false views. A person in one thousand of his existences might encounter only one existence where he could differentiate between good and evil. The explanation given so far is a point to judge how much greater a being’s unwholesome volitional actions would be, though there may be many wholesome volitional actions done by him in his past existences, and while wandering in this round of rebirths.

Another point to consider is how much greater a being’s unwholesome volitional actions will be though there may be a great deal of wholesome volitional actions in his future existences, while wandering in this round of rebirths.

How Beings Have To Wander In The Round Of Rebirths

Wholesome deeds such as alms-giving, morality and mental development performed by worldlings are the actions done by those who dread the dangers of hell, so that they may escape from such dangers. Even though they arise in the planes of men, devas and Brahmas according to the quantity of wholesome volitional actions, they are always accompanied by myriads of old accumlated unwholesome kamma coupled with sakkaya-ditthi. This sakkaya-ditthi has accompanied a being throughout his existences as man, deva and Brahma with the result of multiplying more evil kamma in whatever existence he may happen to arise.

The wholesome kamma such as alms-giving, morality and mental development performed by any one being in his past existences are also subject to change (exhaustion–viparinama). They naturally fade away when they cannot have any further effect.

The groups of existence found in men, devas and Brahmas are also subject to decay. It is the law of cosmic order that they must dissolve at the exhaustion of their kamma and the expiry of their span of life.

The groups of existence of those who are enjoying sensuous pleasures in the planes of human beings, devas and Brahmas burden them with death by way of viparinama. As soon as the vitality element is cut off, sakkaya-ditthi latent in them causes them to be reborn in the lower worlds. They then have to sink in the ocean of suffering in hell which they dread very much. As explained by the commentators previously, these beings will have no chance to escape the hells and arise in a higher plane even after a lapse of one thousand or ten thousand existences. Only after a very great length of time, will some have the opportunity to arise in a higher plane, the happy course of existence.

Some will only have a chance to escape at the end of the world-system, i.e. when it is destroyed. Then they have to arise in the planes of men, devas and Brahmas; and again they who enjoy the sensual pleasures in these planes are burdened by the groups of existence by viparinama. As soon as they die in that state their sakkaya-ditthi causes them to be reborn in the lower worlds. They then have to sink in the ocean of suffering in hell and have no chance to escape in a thousand or ten thousand existences. The sequences in this respect are the same as mentioned above.

The above is the textual explanation as to how beings wander in the round of rebirths.

Here, men, devas and Brahmas may be compared to victims, and the groups of existence to the murderers. The law of change may be compared to a very sharp sword.

In the Khandha-Vagga of the Samyutta-Nikaya, the Buddha declared: ‘Corporeality is a murderer, so too are vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana’. According to this, it is to be remembered that whenever beings pass away, their respective khandha play the part of murderers. If we examine the causes of all deaths, we shall find that there can be no death unless there are dislocation, displacement or change in the body. If there be no such change, even if lightning were to strike a person on the head, he would not die. That shows that the khandha of a being are really murdering him.

Another interpretation: As people call Maccu the god of death which itself is death personified, the law of change (viparinama) is again termed a murderer. The inherent quality of the law of change found in men, devas and Brahmas causes their death, Thus the khandha of men, devas and Brahmas are alway receiving capital punishment, and therefore are dukkha-dhamma (suffering miserably).

All human beings who are trying to take refuge in the world of men because they fear the dangers of hell are killed and caused to arise in the lower worlds from time to time by the groups of existence and sakkaya-ditthi. The same holds good in the cases of devas and Brahmas. The khandha of beings that are subject to change are murderers, and the unwholesome kamma together with soul-belief are constantly tending to drag them to the lower worlds.

In the cases of men, devas and Brahmas who have already got rid of soul-belief, although they die through the agencies of their khandha, they are never reborn in the lower planes, but in the higher planes of existence. This matter will be fully discussed when we come to the Chapter on Magga-Sacca (the Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering).

A question may be raised at this point: ‘If what has been said be true, there should be no inhabitants in the planes of men, devas and Brahmas. But that is not the case. There are plenty of men in the world of men, many devas in the deva-worlds and many Brahmas in the Brahma-worlds. So, it may be said that it is an unwarranted threat.’ This is the kind of question raised by those ignorant people who have not the slightest idea of the vastness therein of the four lower worlds, and the density of population.

The happy course of existence is very extensive, but the inhabitants are very few. An abode of a deva or a Brahma is as big as live or ten of our townships. Their bodies are about six gavuta high. Each of the planets we see high above the sky is of enormous dimensions.

The woeful course of existence is also extensive and the inhabitants there are immensely numerous too. The number of people in the world of men, and the number of inhabitants in the six deva-worlds and the twenty Brahma-worlds cannot even be equal to the number of a single kind of insect, say ants, living in our country of Burma. In our country alone, even besides ants, there are countless numbers of aquatic and land animals. Just imagine how great would be the number of those aquatic and land animals residing in the big islands, small islands, oceans, seas, mountains, rivers and lakes of the world excluding those of Burma. Thus, if the number of occupants in the twenty-seven planes of the happy course of existence be compared with those in the animal world, it will be found to be very insignificant.

Crowded In Avici Hell

It is said in the commentaries as follows: ‘There are eight kinds,of hells, each of which is as big as Jambudipa and is about 1000 yojanas in extent. The lowest of these eight hells is Maha Avici where the inhabitants are packed to the full like mustard seeds in a bamboo tube. All those beings who have committed the evils of the deepest dye usually take rebirth in Avici, the most frightful of the many hells. If Avici alone is packed so much, just consider how many beings there will be in the seven other major hells and many other minor hells. Thus, if compared with the inhabitants of a single hell, the number of inhabitants in the other twenty-seven planes of the happy course of existence is insignificant. Extend this to the cases of petas (ghosts) and asuras (demons).

Only the three kinds of wholesome kamma–alms-giving, morality and mental development–can cause a being to arise in the happy course of existence, and only when a being can objectify a wholesome kamma at the moment of death will he be able to take in the happy course of existence.

On the other hand, if he objectifies an unwholesome kamma at the moment of death, he will as a matter of course be reborn in the four lower worlds. A countless number of acquatic and land animals pass away in one day in Burma alone. Of these very few would be able to objectify a wholesome kamma at the moment of death. There will be not even one in a hundred thousand. The same is the case with all beings in the lower worlds.

How can the beings who do not know what is wholesome kamma, objectify such kamma at the moment of death? A being who is reborn in the four lower worlds usually takes rebirth there for many existences, and when his old accumulated kamma wane, the apara-pariya-vedaniya-kamma (kamma ripening in successive births) comes into play and he has no, chance to arise in the happy course of existence.

Those who are able to use logic and reason and those who are ignorant think that there are very many people in this world. By seeing the planets or constellations high above the sky, they think that there are many inhabitants in the deva-worlds. They have not the slightest idea as to how difficult it is to have become a man. They have heard the discourses about the blind turtle and the yoke and the comparison of the small piece of earth on the fingernail and the great earth itself,  but do not realise their truth.

This is the answer to the question raised by an ignorant person as mentioned above.

Here ends the exposition as to how the beings who wander in this round of rebirths are burdened by the groups of existence to show that this is purely dukkha-sacca (the Noble Truth of Suffering).

Here ends the exposition on dukkha-sacca.