Page images

body-contact, no sensation resulting from mind-contact, if thus sensation were entirely absent, if sensation were abolished, would then any kind of thirst be perceptible?"-"Certainly not, Lord."

"Therefore, Ananda, here is the cause, the origin, the arising, the dependence of thirst, namely, sensation."

But whence comes sensation? "If, Ananda, the question were asked: 'Is sensation dependent on something?' then it ought to be replied: 'Yes, it is dependent.' And if it should be asked: 'On what is sensation dependent?' then it ought to be replied: 'In dependence on contact arises sensation.' And this, Ānanda, that sensation arises in dependence of contact must be understood in the following sense. Suppose, Ananda, that there is nowhere and nowise contact of any (sense) with anything, no eye-contact, no ear-contact, no nose-contact, no tongue-contact, no body-contact, no mindcontact, if thus, contact were entirely absent, if contact were abolished, would then any sensation be perceived?" "Certainly not, Lord."

"Therefore, Ananda, here is the cause, the origin, the arising, the dependence of sensation, namely, contact."

But for any kind of contact to take place within me, my corporeal organism, as bearing the organs of sense, the six senses-machine, is necessary. "If, Ananda, the question were put: 'Is contact dependent on something?' then it ought to be replied: 'Yes, it is dependent.' And if it should be asked: 'On what is contact dependent?' then it ought to be replied: In dependence on the corporeal organism [nāma-rupa] arises contact."

That sensation, and perception inseparably connected with it,* are conditioned by contact, and this by the organs of sense of the corporeal organism, is already explained

* In Digha Nikaya I, therefore perception is given instead of sensation as the antecedent condition of thirst.

in the previous chapter on personality, an accurate knowledge of which is here, of course, assumed. There, by means of passages which are the immediate continuation given here, it is explicitly shown, how the corporeal organism is again dependent, namely, on consciousness, and this again in its turn, upon the corporeal organism, both in mutual dependence.* Thus the chain of dependences ultimately comes to its end in the "corporeal organism together with consciousness," wherewith, indeed, in the Maha-Nidāna-Sutta it reaches its definite conclusion. The reason of this can only be that therewith the circle of dependences is actually closed. And this is really the case.

We know that we can only escape from suffering for ever, when we succeed in leaving behind for ever Saṁsāra, the circle of rebirth, when, thus, we are no longer exposed to a future new birth, hence to no new formation of the "corporeal organism together with consciousness." For the moment the process through which this new formation is accomplished ("birth" in the phraseology of the Buddha) has merely begun,-through conception in a maternal wombfor the entire duration of the existence of this newly forming "body endowed with consciousness" we are again indissolubly bound to it: only at the moment of the ensuing death can we entirely step out of Samsara. All suffering, thus, is founded in the "corporeal organism together with consciousness," which we might therefore call, as we do call it the six senses-machine in general, the machine of suffering in particular. For this reason, at the very beginning of our task of showing all suffering to be naturally conditioned, we were forced to establish the cause of birth, that is, for the ever renewed formation of this "corporeal organism together with consciousness." As such a cause we discovered the

* This mutual dependence is, in Dighanikāya II, 84, illustrated by saying that consciousness is bound to the body like a string that is threaded through a gem.

thirst for existence animating us, always causing in the moment of our death a new grasping of a new germ in a maternal womb and thereby the Becoming of a new organism. With this, however, we found ourselves confronted by the further question, as to whether this thirst also is conditioned, or, in other words, whether it is something physical, and not rather our metaphysical substratum, and therefore indestructible. But we found it also to be conditioned stage by stage, first by sensation, then by contact, and lastly, by-"the corporeal organism together with consciousness." With this, however, we have again got back to our starting-point. The circle is closed: All suffering is rooted in our "corporeal organism together with consciousness;" these two united as our present "body endowed with consciousness" are the consequence of our thirst for existence during the last existence before our birth. This birth, on its side again, had, as antecedent condition, "a corporeal organism together with consciousness," and so on backwards to all eternity.

If we remember that from the corporeal organism together with consciousness, thirst is always issuing in such a special manner that the former, as the six senses-machine is set in activity, and thereby in the immediately up-flaming consciousness sensation and perception are aroused, from which latter, then, thirst during the whole of our life up till the moment of death is always welling forth anew, and that we have summed up this whole process of activity of the six senses-machine together with consciousness, as it goes on from birth to the moment of death, as the machinery of personality, then the content of the formula of causality may be summed up still more pregnantly as follows: Personality -in both its main groups, the corporeal organism, together with consciousness as its real substratum-is conditioned by thirst, and thirst by our bygone personality, just as the hen is conditioned by the egg, and the egg again by the hen.

So astoundingly simple is the formula of origination by dependence.* But what all has not been made out of it!

With this result the root of suffering is fully laid bare; we have penetrated to the unwearied builder of our corporeal organism itself, through which, as through the machine of suffering, all suffering becomes primarily possible for us. At the same time, we have recognized this builder of the machine of suffering as a fellow who has nothing at all to do with our true essence, to whom therefore we need only hand his passports in order to be free for ever from any new reincarnation. Hence, if we wish, with the Buddha we now can exclaim:

The changing state of rebirth always new,

By pain and sorrow chased, I wandered through.
In vain I often looked around for him,

Who once did build this house of suffering.

Builder, I know you now, and laugh at you.
You'll never build for me a house anew.
My spirit has from sensual action fled,

All thirst is killed, suffering at last is dead. 19

Now also we are ready to understand the second of the four holy truths in all its depth: "This, ye monks, is the most excellent truth of the origination of suffering: It is thirst generating rebirth, thirst accompanied by pleasure and lust, now here and now there taking delight, thirst for sensual pleasure, thirst for Becoming (for existence), thirst for annihilation.” ** 179

* Certainly, if we combine the formula with the anatta-thought, then on its side the formula also becomes deep as an abyss. Then too we understand the words of the Master upon Ananda remarking that the formula now seemed to him easy to understand: "Speak not so, Ananda, speak not so! Deep is this origination by dependence, it contains a deep revelation." 168

** The thirst for annihilation arises in consequence of the wrong view that personality is our essence. For if we recognize at the same time that this personality as such is

We said above that the formula of origination in dependence is closed in the Mahā- Nidāna-Sutta with the link "corporeal organism together with consciousness." The same is the case in the Mahāpadhānasutta, where the Boddhisattva Vipassī, after having followed the origination of dependence up to the two factors "corporeal organism and consciousness" and having recognised both as mutually conditioned, expressly declares: "The series goes no further." But in many other passages of the Canon the formula of causality is nevertheless extended still further. For after the causal nexus, in entire unison with the links presented up till now, has been traced back to the corporeal organism-nāma-rūpa—and further, this latter declared to be conditioned by consciousness, this consciousness itself is not again represented as conditioned by the corporeal organism, but the text runs on thus: "In dependence upon the Sankhārā, ye monks, arises consciousness.... In dependence upon ignorance, ye monks, arise the Sankhārā." It is clear that this conclusion of the formula can tell us nothing fundamentally new, if it is not to contradict what we have hitherto been learning, and such a possibility may safely be exluded from the outset, in view of the importance of the Paticcasamuppada. For, since the conclusion as we have been learning to know it, turns back again to the beginning, a further continuance of the dependences beyond it, is thus quite impossible. This somewhat different formulation of the last links of the chain at most can only be a matter of a more detailed explanation of the conclusion of the formula as we have hitherto learned to know it. And this is actually the case, as will now appear.

full of suffering, then the further notion arises that we can free ourselves from suffering only by the annihilation of our personality and thereby of our own essence. Accordingly, the thirst for annihilation springs up. (Concerning this thirst for annihilation [vibhava] see Itivuttaka, 49.)

« PreviousContinue »