II. The Noble Truth Of
The Origin Of Suffering
What, now, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering?
It is craving, which gives rise to fresh rebirth, and, bound up with pleasure and lust,
now here, now there, finds ever-fresh delight.
The Threefold Craving
There is the 'Sensual Craving' (kaa.ma-ta.nhaa), the
'Craving for (Eternal) Existence' (bhava-ta.nhaa), the 'Craving for Self-Annihilation'
'Sensual Craving (kaama-ta.nhaa) is the desire for the
enjoyment of the five sense objects.
'Craving for Existence' (bhava-ta.nhaa) is the desire
for continued or eternal life, referring in particular to life in those higher worlds
called Fine-material and Immaterial Existences (ruupa-, and aruupa-bhava). It is closely
connected with the so-called 'Eternity-Belief' (bhava- or sassata-di.t.thi), i.e. the
belief in an absolute, eternal Ego-entity persisting independently of our body.
'Craving for Self-Annihilation' (lit., 'for
non-existence', vibhava-ta.nhaa) is the outcome of the 'Belief in Annihilation' (vibhava-
or uccheda-di.t.thi), i.e. the delusive materialistic notion of a more or less real Ego
which is annihilated at death, and which does not stand in any causal relation with the
time before death and the time after death.
Origin Of Craving
But where does this craving arise and take root? Wherever
in the world there are delightful and pleasurable things, there this craving arises and
takes root. Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, are delightful and pleasurable: there
this craving arises and takes root.
Visual objects, sounds, smells tastes, bodily impressions,
and mind objects, are delightful and pleasurable: there this craving arises and takes
Consciousness, sense impression, feeling born of sense
impression, perception, will, craving, thinking, and reflecting, are delightful and
pleasurable: there this craving arises and takes root.
This is called the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering.
Dependent Origination Of All Phenomena
If, whenever perceiving a visual object, a sound, odour,
taste, bodily impression, or a mind-object, the object is pleasant, one is attracted; and
if unpleasant, one is repelled.
Thus, whatever kind of 'Feeling' (vedanaa) one
experiences-pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent-if one approves of, and cherishes the
feeling, and clings to it, then while doing so, lust springs up; but lust for feelings
means 'Clinging' (upaadaana), and on clinging depends the (present) 'process of Becoming';
on the process of becoming (bhava; here kamma-bhava, Karma-process) depends (future)
'Birth' (jaati); and dependent on birth are 'Decay and Death', sorrow, lamentation, pain,
grief and despair. Thus arises this whole mass of suffering.
The formula of the Dependent Origination
(pa.ticca-samuppaada) of which only some of the twelve links have been mentioned in the
preceding passage, may be regarded as a detailed explanation of the Second Truth.
Truly, due to sensuous craving, conditioned through
sensuous craving, impelled by sensuous craving, entirely moved by sensuous craving, kings
fight with kings, princes with princes, priests with priests, citizens with citizens; the
mother quarrels with the son, the son with the mother, the father with the son, the son
with the father; brother quarrels with brother, brother with sister, sister with brother,
friend with friend. Thus, given to dissension, quarrelling and fighting, they fall upon
one another with fists, sticks, or weapons. And thereby they suffer death or deadly pain.
And further, due to sensuous craving, conditioned through
sensuous craving, impelled by sensuous craving, entirely moved by sensuous craving, people
break into houses, rob, plunder, pillage whole houses, commit highway robbery, seduce the
wives of others. Then, the rulers have such people caught, and inflict on them various
forms of punishment. And thereby they incur death or deadly pain. Now, this is the misery
of sensuous craving, the heaping up of suffering in this present life, due to sensuous
craving, conditioned through sensuous craving, caused by sensuous craving, entirely
dependent on sensuous craving.
And further, people take the evil way in deeds, the evil
way in words, the evil way in thoughts; and by taking the evil way in deeds, words and
thoughts, at the dissolution of the body, after death, they fall into a downward state of
existence, a state of suffering, into an unhappy destiny, and the abysses of the hells.
But this is the misery of sensuous craving, the heaping up of suffering in the future
life, due to sensuous craving, conditioned through sensuous craving, caused by sensuous
craving, entirely dependent on sensuous craving.
- Not in the air, nor ocean-midst,
- Nor hidden in the mountain clefts,
- Nowhere is found a place on earth,
- Where man is freed from evil deeds.
Karma As Volition
A. VI. 63
It is volition (cetanaa) that I call 'Karma' (action).
Having willed, one acts by body, speech, and mind.
There are actions (kamma) ripening in hells. . . ripening
in the animal kingdom. . . ripening in the domain of ghosts. . . ripening amongst men. . .
ripening in heavenly worlds.
The result of actions (vipaaka) is of three kinds:
ripening in the present life, in the next life, or in future lives.
Inheritance Of Deeds (Karma)
A. X. 206
All beings are the owners of their deeds (kamma, Skr:
karma), the heirs of their deeds: their deeds are the womb from which they sprang, with
their deeds they are bound up, their deeds are their refuge. Whatever deeds they do-good
or evil-of such they will be the heirs.
A. III. 33
And wherever the beings spring into existence. there their
deeds will ripen; and wherever their deeds ripen, there they will earn the fruits of those
deeds, be it in this life, or be it in the next life, or be it in any other future life.
S. XXII. 99
There will come a time when the mighty ocean will dry up,
vanish, and be no more. There will come a time when the mighty earth will be devoured by
fire, perish, and be no more. But yet there will be no end to the suffering of beings,
who, obstructed by ignorance, and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through
this round of rebirths.
Craving (ta.nhaa), however, is not the only cause of
evil action, and thus of all the suffering and misery produced thereby in this and the
next life; but wherever there is craving, there, dependent on craving, may arise envy,
anger, hatred, and many other evil things productive of suffering and misery. And all
these selfish, life-affirming impulses and actions, together with the various kinds of
misery produced thereby here or thereafter, and even all the five groups of phenomena
constituting life-everything is ultimately rooted in blindness and ignorance (avijjaa).
The second Noble Truth serves also to explain the
causes of the seeming injustices in nature, by teaching that nothing in the world can come
into existence without reason or cause, and that not only our latent tendencies, but our
whole destiny, all weal and woe, result from causes (Karma), which we have to seek partly
in this life, partly in former states of existence. These causes are the life-affirming
activities (kamma, Skr: karma) produced by body, speech and mind. Hence it is this
threefold action (kamma) that determines the character and destiny of all beings. Exactly
defined Karma denotes those good and evil volitions (kusala-akusala-cetanaa), together
with rebirth. Thus existence, or better the Process of Becoming (bhava), consists of an
active and conditioning 'Karma Process' (kamma-bhava), and of its result, the 'Rebirth
Here, too, when considering Karma, one must not lose
sight of the impersonal nature (anattataa) of existence. In the case of a storm-swept sea,
it is not an identical wave that hastens over the surface of the ocean, but it is the
rising and falling of quite different masses of water. In the same way it should be
understood that there are no real Ego-entities hastening through the ocean of rebirth, but
merely life-waves, which, according to their nature and activities (good or evil),
manifest themselves here as men, there as animals, and elsewhere as invisible beings.
Once more the fact may be emphasized here that
correctly speaking, the term 'Karma' signifies only the aforementioned kinds of action
themselves, and does not mean or include their results.
For further details about Karma see Fund. and B. Dict.