II. The Noble Truth Of
The Origin Of
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
There is the 'Sensual Craving'
(kaa.ma-ta.nhaa), the 'Craving for (Eternal) Existence' (bhava-ta.nhaa),
the 'Craving for Self-Annihilation' (vibhava-ta.nhaa).
'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
'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.
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
Visual objects, sounds, smells tastes,
bodily impressions, and mind objects, are delightful and pleasurable:
there this craving arises and takes root.
Consciousness, sense impression, feeling
born of sense impression, perception, will, craving, thinking, and
reflecting, are delightful and pleasurable: there this craving arises and
This is called the Noble Truth of the
Origin of Suffering.
Dependent Origination Of All
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
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
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
- 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.
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
Inheritance Of Deeds
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.
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.
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 Process' (upapatti-bhava).
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.