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 [Dhamma Talk]


The Self-Rising Nature of Existence and Pain

This sense-consciousness rebounds off,
evolves into,
is the counterpart of
going no further.

It is only this far
that there is birth,
or aging,
or death,
or falling from one condition,
or reappearing in another;
that is to say:

Named-form resulting in sense-consciousness,
and sense-consciousness resulting in named-form,
named-form resulting in the six realms of the senses,
the six realms of the senses resulting in contact,
contact resulting in sense experience,
sense experience resulting in thirst (to get, to get away from),
thirst resulting in stoking the fire (fueling the fire, this is both the preliminaries in pondering, planning, plotting and the acting in thought word and deed with the intent to create experience of existence for the self or another way of thinking of this is that it is the mechanism for own-making (saṅkhāraɱ))
fueling the fire resulting in existence,
existence resulting in birth,
birth resulting in aging, sickness and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery,
and despair.

This is the samudaya
of this entire body of pain.

"Samudaya! Samudaya!"

"At that thought, beggars,
there arose a vision into things
not previously cognized,
and knowledge arose,
reason arose,
wisdom arose,
light arose."

Adapted from Rhys Davids translation of DN 14. See also: SN 3.65.



This passage which I have adapted from Rhys David's translation of DN 14 where it is related of Vipassi Buddha's awakening is also found in the second part of The First Sutta.

In the conclusion to both versions, after having pieced together the sequence of dependencies resulting in birth and its consequent pain, the Buddhas remark: "Samudayo! Samudayo!" and a previously unrealized insight occurs to them.

Since what has just occurred is the sequence of dependencies itself (the paṭicca samuppāda) (and thus it, itself, is not the insight that is being referred to as it has been previously realized) what is this insight that they are referring to?

First one must grasp the significance of the originating idea, that is:

Paccudāvattati kho idaṃ viññāṇaṃ,||
nā paraṃ gacchati.
|| ||

This consciousness rebounds off/evolves into named-form
going no further.

... that for conscousness of existence as an individuality, sense-consciousness and named-forms are interdependent. Picking an arbitrary starting point, consciousness of named forms results in a sequence that when mixed with identification with intent to create experience of existence leads to the formation of consciousness of named forms.

Now 'Samudaya' is usually translated 'arising' or 'coming to be'. But here, as in 'saṇkhārā' we have an un-accounted-for (in such translations) 'saṇ'.

Is this 'own'? or 'co-, con-, or com'?

Looking at the point in the sequence named 'upādāna', we can see that without fueling the fire the process would come to a halt at this point. When an identified-with previously rolling process (aka a living being) identifies with the intent to create experience of existence through acts of thought, word and deed, the process rolls on. The error is in thinking that this previously identified-with instigator of action is 'the self' or 'a self' or 'belongs to a self'. In that it does not, the process is 'self-' or 'own-rising.' The parts replicate themselves. In that identification with intent to create experience of existence is necessary for the process to continue, it is 'co-arising'. Not 'co' 'you and it' but 'co' 'it and this intent and this identification and this action'. It can be let go without loss of 'self.'

Today [Tuesday, March 17, 2015 4:13 AM] we have these nano-robots that replicate themselves. But for that process to work automatically there was originally built into it the instruction to do that. That is the equivalent of the process of own-making.

In light of the above, the second half of this insight, 'Nirodha! Nirodha!' is not just the seeing of the reverse of the process of the paṭicca samuppāda, but the fact that it is done by the ending of the identification of self with the fueling of the process. That it comes to an end of its own without that input.

In the same way as we can observe the self-replicating nano robot and see that we could dismantle the thing and prevent its self-replication by removing the instruction to replicate, we can remove the self-replicating intent to experience from this process of existing we call life and eliminate the consequent self-identification with its painful outcome.


By minute examination of everything occurring at the senses (or within the scope of the four satipaṭṭhanas, or within the scope of the khandhas).

By 'yoniso-manasikara-ing', tracing things back to their points of origin, one can observe the self-replicating process as occurring independent of any 'self,' dependent only on the mistaken view that there is self there (that 'I' will 'die' if I do not act).

By eliminating every activity that is identified with self by filtering every thought, word, and deed through the Magga, The Aristocratic Multi-dimensional High Way.

When one can see that one can opt-out.

Opting out one is free.

Recognizing this freedom as the freedom from pain that one has been seeking, one is free
and one knows:

"Birth is left behind,
lived was carrying on like Brahma,
done is duty's doing,
no more for me is there being it and at."



Kimhi nu kho sati jarā-maraṇaṃ hoti,||
kim paccayā jarā-maraṇan.
|| ||

What now being have we aging and death,
what results in aging and death?

Jātiyā kho sati jarā-maraṇaṃ hoti,||
jāti-paccayā jarā-maraṇan.
|| ||

Birth now being we have aging and death,
birth results in aging and death.

Kimhi nu kho sati jāti hoti,||
kim paccayā jātī?
|| ||

What now being have we birth,
what results in birth?

Bhave kho sati jāti hoti,||
bhava paccayā jātī.
|| ||

Becoming now being we have birth,
becoming results in birth.

'Becoming' is a literal translation of 'bhava' (it could be 'bad-go' or 'pass-vent' or 'pass wind') which is elsewhere translated as 'being' or 'existing' or 'living'. It is what we understand as existing (and there is no 'existing' as we understand it outside of this), which is a process of becoming in the shape of forms of existence such as being human, being a god, etc. It is valuable for insight into the fact that this is a thing which is a self-sustaining process, that the idea of existing or living be seen as becoming.

Kimhi nu kho sati bhavo hoti,||
kim paccayā bhavo?
|| ||

What now being have we becoming,
what results in becoming?

Upādāne kho sati bhavo hoti,||
upādāna-paccayā bhavo.
|| ||

Setting up now being we have becoming,
setting up results in becoming.

'Setting up' is what I here suggest as translation for 'upadana' (literally: up-given), elsewhere translated Rhys Davids: 'grasping,' Walshe, Bhk. Bodhi: 'clinging,' Bhk. Thanissaro: 'clinging/sustenance,' and myself: 'upholding,' 'support,' 'upkeep,' 'going-after-getting', and more lately following Bhk. Thanissaro 'fueling'. The idea is that after the experience of sensations, and upon the arising of thirst one sets out to get, prepares the way, sets rolling the necessary preconditions for attaining, thereby fueling the fire of lust and furthering the effort to get. Setting up is accomplished by wanting/wishing, points of view, performing rites and rituals in the effort to attain experience of self. It is the actions of sankhārā-ing.

Kimhi nu kho sati upādānaṃ hoti,||
kim paccayā upādānan?
|| ||

What now being have we setting up,
what results in setting up?

Taṇhāya kho sati upādānaṃ hoti,||
taṇhā-paccayā upādānan.

Thirst now being we have setting up,
thirst results in setting up.

Kimhi nu kho sati taṇhā hoti,||
kim paccayā taṇhā?
|| ||

What now being have we thirst,
what results in thirst?

Vedanāya kho sati taṇhā hoti,||
vedanā-paccayā taṇhā.
|| ||

Sense-experience now being we have thirst,
sense-experience results in thirst.

'Sense-experience,' (literally the 'thrill given'), takes, at its most fundamental, three forms: pleasant sensation, painful sensation or sensation that is not painful but not pleasant. Such sensations result from contact with an object perceived to be of a nature corresponding to the sensation, but one experiences unpleasant sensation then perceives what one believes to be an unpleasant object. Sensation is relative to the object only in its results in the next revolution of the cycle and the mind, seeking the object of sensation can be mistaken and instigate on entirely false premises completely disastrous activity. Sensation follows contact. What one experiences as sensation precedes thirst. 'Precedes' means it comes before. 'Comes before' means it is already in the past. It is the experience of something that has already happened. Thirst set up on sense experience is chasing the past and results in becoming in the future. The process can be stopped at this point by tracing sense experience back to its point of origin (yoniso-manasikaro) and seeing that if it is not acted upon it will not result in future sense experience. Experiencing the unpleasant sensation called anger that results from a perception of some injury inflicted on one by some person or event one has the choice of reacting with vengeful, angry, and always mistaken behaviors (setting up further expectations of becoming in an unpleasant situation) or by perceiving the event as over-with, passed, done gone, at that point, letting the sensation die out.

Kimhi nu kho sati vedanā hoti,||
kim paccayā vedanā?
|| ||

What now being have we sense-experience,
what results in sense-experience?

Phasse kho sati vedanā hoti,||
phassa-paccayā vedanā.
|| ||

Contact now being we have sense-experience,
contact results in sense-experience.

Kimhi nu kho sati phasso hoti,||
kim paccayā phasso?
|| ||

What now being have we contact,
what results in contact?

Saḷāyatane kho sati phasso hoti,||
saḷāyatana-paccayā phasso.
|| ||

The six-realms now being we have contact,
the six-realms results in contact.

'The six-realms' is the literal translation of 'saḷāyatana' which is shorthand for 'the six-realms of the senses': the eye and sights, the ear and sounds, the nose and scents, the tongue and tastes, the body and touches, the mind and all things.

Kimhi nu kho sati saḷāyatanaṃ hoti,||
kim paccayā saḷāyatanan?
|| ||

What now being have we the six realms,
what results in the six realms?

Nāma-rūpe kho sati saḷāyatanaṃ hoti,||
nāma-rūpa-paccayā saḷāyatanan.
|| ||

'Named-shapes' is the literal translation of 'nāma-rūpa', elsewhere translated: Walshe and Rhys Davids (incorrectly imposing Western philosophical views on the Pāḷi) 'mind-and-body;' Bhk. Bodhi: mentality/materiality (just rephrasing the mistake of 'mind-and-body'); Rhys Davids, Hare, Horner, Bhk. Thanissaro: 'name and form;' Horner: psycho-physicality; Bhk. Punnaji: Entity/Identity (which is excellent if one does not wish to literally follow the Pāḷi); Woodward: Name and visible body complex. It could also, following the Greek, be translated: 'phenomena' phe-nomena: face-name, which is helpful for understanding the meaning. What is it that makes up an experience of sense? The eye comes into contact with a visible object. Sense-experience (sensation), and consciousness of that sense experience are the result. The component parts are the form (a shape, sound, scent, savour, touch, or mental object) and perception (identification of the object as a shape, sound, scent, savour, touch, or mental object that is pleasant, unpleasant or not unpleasant but not pleasant and as whatever further identifications that object has come to be known by).

Named-shapes now being we have the six realms,
named-shapes result in the six realms.

Kimhi nu kho sati nāma-rūpaṃ hoti,||
kim paccayā nāma-rūpan?
|| ||

What now being have we named-shapes,
what results in named-shapes?

Viññāṇe kho sati nāmarūpaṃ hoti,||
viññāṇa-paccayā nāmarūpan.

Sense-consciousness now being we have named-shapes,
sense-consciousness results in named-shapes.

Viññāṇa, literally 're-knowing-knowning-knowledge', the awareness of knowing that knowing is occurring. I believe this word also reflects the reality that consciousness as it is experienced by the ordinary individual is not a single act of knowing, but an illusion created by thousands of re-perceptions of a composite of previously perceived sense-objects. In the paṭica samuppada viññāṇa, is intimately bound up in the point of view that this consciousness is arising in an individuality known as 'me,' perceiving through the senses.

Kimhi nu kho sati viññāṇaṃ hoti,||
kim paccayā viññāṇan?
|| ||

What now being have we sense-consciousness,
what results in sense-consciousness?

Nāma-rūpe kho sati viññāṇaṃ hoti,||
nāma-rūpa-paccayā viññāṇan.
|| ||

Named-forms now being we have sense-consciousness,
named-forms result in sense-consciousness.

Paccudāvattati kho idaṃ viññāṇaṃ,||
nā paraṃ gacchati.
|| ||

This sense-consciousness rebounds off/evolves into named-form
going no further.

Paccudāvattati could also be 'rolls out from/returns to'. The simile given is of two shiefs of wheat which are able to be placed upright only by one leaning on the other. Sense-consciousness needs an object to be conscious of to be sense-consciousness as we know it; named-forms are only such when there is consciousness of them. Part of the idea of 'name' implies a perception of that name. Things have 'names' to their observer. They do not wander around space with a name attached waiting to be made conscious of. They are given names in the process of perception that results in consciouosness of them by an individual. Be careful to note that 'this!' Our term 'consciousness' is not a direct equivalent of the Pāḷi viññāṇa, and there is no end of trouble for one conceiving the idea that the Buddha is teaching the eradication of 'consciousness'. For a more detailed discussion of this issue see: Is Nibbāna Conditioned see the second part of this discussion.

Ettāvatā jāyetha vā jīyetha mīyetha vā cavetha vā upapajjetha vā,||
yad idaṃ nāma-rūpa-paccayā viññāṇaṃ,||
viññāṇa-paccayā nāma-rūpaṃ,||
nāma-rūpa-paccayā saḷāyatanaṃ,||
saḷāyatana-paccayā phasso,||
phassa-paccayā vedanā,||
vedanā-paccayā taṇhā,||
taṇhā paccayā upādānaṃ,||
upādāna-paccayā bhavo,||
bhava-paccayā jāti,||
jāti-paccayā jarā-maraṇaṃ||
soka-parideva-dukkha-domanass-ūpāyāsā sambhavan.
|| ||

Only thus is there birth and with birth aging or death or passing on or appearing,
that is, named-forms resulting in sense-consciousness,
sense-consciousness resulting in named forms,
named forms resulting in the six-realms,
the six-realms resulting in contact,
contact resulting in sense-experience,
sense-experience resulting in thirst,
thirst resulting in setting up,
setting up resulting in becoming,
becoming resulting in birth,
birth resulting in aging and death,
grief and lamentation,
pain and misery,
and despair.

Understanding this, the paṭicca samuppāda, provides the basis for the insight into the knowledge that 'this,' that which we know as 'myself' or 'me,' is a process, a becoming thing. And it is this insight which is essential to have set up to fully appreciate the idea that:

Yaṃ kiñci samudaya-dhammaṃ||
sabban taṃ nirodha-dhamman|| ||

'Whatever there is that is a self-arising thing,
all that is an ending thing.'

and that whatever comes to an end is not the self.

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