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This one-fathom long body

Continued from 17.04.2009

Talking of forces leads us to explain the composition of this one-fathom long body. The Buddha-Dhamma divides, in the first place, the so-called being into two parts, namely the part called matter and the part called mind. Matter (rupa) is brought together by the four fundamental elements: the element of extension (patavi), the element of cohesion (apo) the elements of heat (tejo) and the element of motion (vayo). These four primary elements combine with the four derivatives: colour (vanna), odour (gandha), taste (rasa) and nutritive essence (oja). Matter, therefore, is a combination of forces and qualities in a state of flux. Mind or consciousness (nama) is a compound complex of fleeting mental states, ever arising and passing away from moment to moment. To our under-developed mental vision this psycho-physical combination appears as a solid, naming it by various conventional terms such as boy or girl, man or woman, etc.

Dr. Dhalke gives us a convincing description of this concatenation of forces. He writes: “The so-called being is like a flash of lightning that is resolved into a succession of sparks that follow upon one another with such rapidity that the human retina cannot perceive them separately nor can the uninstructed conceive of such succession of separate sparks.”

Based on this division of the ‘being’ into mind and matter, in to Buddha classified this psycho-physical combination called an individual into five aggregates (khandas), namely: 1. the aggregate of corporeality. 2. the aggregate of feelings. 3. The aggregate of perceptions. 4. the aggregate of mental formations. 5. the aggregate of consciousness. The Buddha in the course of his investigations into these five aggregates detected the “world” or Dukkha. Here are briefly the results of the Buddha’s investigations:

1. What is called an “I”, an “individual”, or a “being” is only a name, a designation given to the collective whole of these five groups. 2. Each one of the groups is transient. 3. Each one of the groups is in a state of flux, of arising and passing away from moment to moment. 4. A unit of consciousness perishes transmitting at the same time its potential to its successor in a series of cause and effect. 5. There is nothing in each of these groups as a substance. 6. Apart from these five groups there is nothing stable, or abiding, or permanent to be called an I, or a Self, or a Soul.

The above is the report of the Buddha on this one-fathom body which appears to us as a solid whole because of the lightning-like rapidity of the movement of the groups one following the other in quick succession. It should, therefore, be noted that there is only movement or events. This is true of all phenomena in the known universe. There is no “prime-mover unmoved” behind this movement. Mere actions roll on, there is neither a doer nor a receiver. Except for the delusion of an I or a Self (sakkayaditthi), there is no other “being” or “I”, standing behind these five groups of existence, who experiences Dukkha. This five-fold group of aggregates when charges with intensified Craving (upadana) comes to be called, the five-fold group of Clinging or Grasping.

What we desire to explain now in so many words takes place in the minutest fraction of a moment. The so-called ‘I’ clings convulsively to life or to this five-fold group of clinging at the moment of death. His last thought moment is heavily charged with the Kamma of his choice. He dies leaving behind his present five-fold group of clinging.

At the moment his last consciousness perishes there arises immediately the consciousness called Relinking-consciousness which, with no interval in between, descends on matter (prepared by new parents) in a maternal womb, and a mind-form results or a new five- fold group of Clinging comes into being. Thus the Dukkha of the past re-appears in the Dukkha of the present. This is the Dukkha as the conditioned state (samkhara-dukkha). This is the Dukkha which the Buddha discovered on that great morn, great for him and great for many millions of mortals.

Selfish craving

Selfish Craving in its intensified form of Clinging (upadana) is the origin of this five-fold group of Clinging. The extinction of this Craving, its forsaking, arrests a fresh arising of this five-fold Group of Clinging - the end of Dukkha. The Buddha’s Ancient Path which he discovered is the sole way to arrest the fresh arising of this Khanda combination.

The Buddha describes the discovery of the Ancient Path by a scintillating simile which we propose to quote from Samyutta Nikaya ii, 105. “Just as if brethren, a man faring through the forest, through the great wood, should see an ancient path traversed by men of ancient days. And he were to go along it, and going along it he should see an ancient city, an ancient prince’s domain, wherein dwelt men of former days, having gardens, groves, pools, and stoutly walled around, a goodly spot.... Even so have I, brethren, seen an ancient path, an ancient road traversed by the rightly enlightened ones of former times.” And what is the Ancient Path? It is the Noble Eightfold Path in its tripartite division of Morality (sila), Concentration (samadhi), and Wisdom (panna). It is the Ancient Path which appears in the Dhammapada at verse 183, the Pali gatha, which we as children recited in gay abandon, utterly ignorant of its precious potential pregnant with the power of Deliverance.

Sabbapapassa akaranam
Kusalassa upasampada
Etam Buddhana Sasanam

Morality (sila) is for the purpose of gaining Concentration, or one-pointedness of mind (samadhi), Concentration supported by Morality is for the purpose of gaining Wisdom (panna) to see: “In this very one-fathom-long body, along with its perceptions and thoughts is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and Path leading to the cessation of the world.”

The meaning of life is to understand Self as it really is. Once Self or the ‘I’ is understood as the Delusion par excellence, then the five-fold group of Clinging is utterly destroyed and Nibbana is attained in this life itself:

“Not far from here you need to look,
Highest existence what can it avail?
Here in the present aggregates,
In your own body overcome the world”

(World Buddhism, Vesak Annual 2514-1970)


බක් අමාවක පෝය
 අප්‍රේල් 24 වන දා සිකුරාදා පූර්ව භාග 10.48 ට ලබයි.
25 වන දා සෙනසුරාදා පූර්වභාග 08.52 දක්වා පෝය පවතී.
සිල් සමාදන්වීම අප්‍රේල් 24 වන දා සිකුරාදා ය.
මීළඟ පෝය මැයි මස 1 වන දා ය.

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

New Moonඅමාවක

අප්‍රේල් 24

First Quarterපුර අටවක

මැයි 01

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

මැයි 08

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

මැයි 17

2009 පෝය ලබන ගෙවෙන වේලා සහ සිල් සමාදන් විය යුතු දවස

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