Cyclic Existence


              Paticca – samuppada of Buddhism deals with the cause of rebirth and suffering with a view to ridding life of all ills. It is also called the law of cause & effect.

                With the base of ignorance, reaction arises; with the base of reaction, consciousness arises; with the base of consciousness, mind and body arise; with the base of mind and body, the six senses arise; with the base of six senses, contact arises; with the base of contact, sensation arises; with the base of sensation, craving and aversion arise; with the base of craving and aversion, attachment arises; with the base of attachment, the process of becoming arises; with the base of the process of becoming, birth arises; with the base of birth, ageing and death arise, together with sorrow, lamentation, physical and mental sufferings and tribulations. Thus arises this entire mass of suffering”. Ignorance of the reality of suffering, its cause, its end, and the path to its end, is the chief cause that sets the wheel of life in motion.

                        Buddha discovered that between the object and the reaction stands a missing link: sensation. We react not to the exterior reality but to the sensations within us. Whenever any of six sensory organs comes in contact with ‘their’ objects, we “cognize” them, then our ‘perception’ evaluates the object on the basis of stored information and passes a value judgement. Based on this value judgement, pleasant or unpleasant sensations arise in the body. If the sensations are pleasant, we crave for them; if they are unpleasant, we develop an aversion to them.

                      So, three kinds of reactions are generated: The first is like a line drawn on water, which is temporary. The second reaction is like the lines drawn on sand, which are semi-permanent. The third reaction is like the lines drawn on a rock, which are enduring. They leave a lasting impression on the conscious mind. By observing our sensations objectively, we can control these reactions.

                     Change occurs every moment within us, manifesting itself in the play of sensations. It is at this level that impermanence must be experienced. Observation of constantly changing sensations permits the realisation of one’s own ephemeral nature. We realise the futility of attachment to something that is so transitory. Thus the direct experience of impermanence gives rise to a certain detachment. In this way one gradually frees the mind of suffering.


- S. Krishna