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THE NOBLE TRUTH OF SUFFERING

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[Buddhism] : [The Eightfold Path]

WHAT, now, is the Noble Truth of Suffering?

Birth is suffering; Decay is suffering; Death is suffering; Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair, are suffering; not to get what one desires, is suffering; in short: the Five Groups of Existence are suffering.

What, now, is Birth? The birth of beings belonging to this or that order of beings, their being born, their conception and springing into existence, the manifestation of the groups of existence, the arising of sense activity-this is called Birth.

And what is Decay? The decay of beings belonging to this or that order of beings; their getting aged, frail, grey, and wrinkled; the failing of their vital force, the wearing out of the senses-this is called Decay.

And what is Death? The parting and vanishing of beings out of this or that order of beings, their destruction, disappearance, death, the completion of their life-period, dissolution of the groups of existence, the discarding of the body-this is called Death.

And what is Sorrow? The sorrow arising through this or that loss or misfortune which one encounters, the worrying oneself, the state of being alarmed, inward sorrow, inward woe-this is called Sorrow.

And what is Lamentation? Whatsoever, through this or that loss or misfortune which befalls one, is wail and lament, wailing and lamenting, the state of woe and lamentation this is called Lamentation.

And what is Pain? The bodily pain and unpleasantness, the painful and unpleasant feeling produced by bodily contact-this is called Pain.

And what is Grief? The mental pain and unpleasantness, the painful and unpleasant feeling produced by mental contact-this is called Grief.

And what is Despair? Distress and despair arising through this or that loss or misfortune which one encounters, distressfulness, and desperation-this is called Despair.

And what is the "suffering of not getting what one desires?" To beings subject to birth there comes the desire: "O that we were not subject to birth! O that no new birth was before us!" Subject to decay, disease, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair, the desire comes to them: "O that we were not subject to these things! O that these things were not before us!" But this cannot be got by mere desiring; and not to get what one desires, is suffering.

THE FIVE GROUPS OF EXISTENCE

And what, in brief, are the Five Groups of Existence? They are Corporeality, Feeling, Perception, [mental] Formations, and Consciousness.

Any corporeal phenomenon, whether one's own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, belongs to the Group of Corporeality; any feeling belongs to the Group of Feeling; any perception belongs to the Group of Perception; any mental formation belongs to the Group of Formations; all consciousness belongs to the Group of Consciousness.

(Our so-called individual existence is in reality nothing but a mere process of these "bodily and mental" phenomena, which since immemorial times was going on before one's apparent birth, and which also after death will continue for immemorial periods of time. In the following, we shall see that these five Groups, or Khandhas-either taken separately, or combined-in no way constitute any real "Ego-entity," and that no Ego-entity exists apart from them, and hence that the belief in an Ego-entity is merely an illusion. Just as that which we designate by the name of "chariot," has no existence apart from axle, wheels, shaft, and so forth: or as the word "house" is merely a convenient designation for various materials put together after a certain fashion so as to enclose a portion of space, and there is no separate house-entity in existence:-in exactly the same way, that which we call a "being," or an "individual," or a "person," or by the name is nothing but a changing combination of physical and psychical phenomena, and has no real existence in itself.)

THE "CORPOREALITY GROUP" OF FOUR ELEMENTS

What, now, is the Group of Corporeality? It is the four primary elements, and Corporeality derived from them.

And what are the four primary elements? They are the Solid Element, the Fluid Element, the Heating Element, the Vibrating Element.

(The four elements, or-to speak more correctly-the four elementary qualities of matter, may be rendered in English as: Inertia, Cohesion, Radiation, and Vibration.

The twenty-four corporeal phenomena which depend upon them are, according to the Abhidharma: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, visible form, sound, odor, taste, masculinity, femininity, vitality, organ of thinking, gesture, speech, space (cavities of ear, nose, etc.), agility, elasticity, adaptability, growth, duration, decay, variability, change of substance.)

1. What, now, is the Solid Element? The solid element may be one's own, or it may be external. And what is one's own solid element? The dependent properties, which on one's own person and body are hard and solid, as the hairs of head and body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, stomach, bowels, mesentery, excrement, or whatever other dependent properties which on one's own person and body are hard and solid-this is called one's own solid element. Now, whether it be one's own solid element, or whether it be the external solid element, they are both only the solid element.

And one should understand, according to reality, and true wisdom: "This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Ego."

2. What, now, is the Fluid Element? The fluid element may be one's own, or it may be external. And what is one own fluid element? The dependent properties, which on one's own person and body are watery or cohesive, as bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, lymph, tears, semen, spit, nasal mucus, oil of the joints, urine or whatever other dependent properties which on one own person and body are watery or cohesive-this is called one's own fluid element. Now, whether it be one's own fluid element, or whether it be the external fluid element, they are both only the fluid element.

And one should understand, according to reality, and true wisdom: "This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Ego."

3. What, now, is the Heating Element? The heating element may be one own, or it may be external. And what is one's own heating element? The dependent properties, which on one's own person and body are heating and radiating, as that whereby one is heated, consumed, scorched, whereby that which has been eaten, drunk, chewed, or tasted, is fully digested; or whatever other dependent properties, which on one's own person and body are heating and radiating this is called one's own heating element. Now, whether it be one's own heating element, or whether it be the external heating element, they are both only the heating element.

And one should understand, according to reality, and true wisdom: "This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Ego."

4. What, now, is the Vibrating Element? The vibrating element may be one's own, or it may be external. And what is one's own vibrating element? The dependent properties, which on one's own person and body are mobile and gaseous, as the upward-going and downward-going winds; the winds of stomach and intestines; in-breathing and out-breathing; or whatever other dependent properties, which on one's own person and body are mobile and gaseous-this is called one's own vibrating element. Now, whether it be one's own vibrating element, or whether it be the external vibrating element, they are both only the vibrating element.

And one should understand, according to reality, and true wisdom: "This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Ego."

Just as one calls "hut" the circumscribed space which comes to be by means of wood and rushes, reeds, and clay, even so we call "body" the circumscribed space that comes to be by means of bones and sinews, flesh and skin.

DEPENDENT ORIGINATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Now, though one's eye be intact, yet if the external forms do not fall within the field of vision, and no corresponding conjunction takes place, in that case there occurs no formation of the corresponding aspect of consciousness. Or, though one eye be intact, and the external forms fall within the field of vision, yet if no corresponding conjunction takes place, in that case also there occurs no formation of the corresponding aspect of consciousness. If, however, one's eye is intact, and the external forms fall within the field of vision, and the corresponding conjunction takes place, in that case there arises the corresponding aspect of consciousness.

Hence, I say: the arising of consciousness is dependent upon conditions; and without these conditions, no consciousness arises. And upon whatsoever conditions the arising of consciousness is dependent, after these it is called.

Consciousness whose arising depends on the eye and forms, is called "eye-consciousness."

Consciousness whose arising depends on the ear and sound, is called "ear-consciousness."

Consciousness whose arising depends on the olfactory organ and odors, is called "nose-consciousness."

Consciousness whose arising depends on the tongue and taste, is called "tongue-consciousness."

Consciousness whose arising depends on the body and bodily contacts, is called "body-consciousness."

Consciousness whose arising depends on the mind and ideas, is called "mind-consciousness."

Whatsoever there is of "corporeality" in the consciousness thus arisen, that belongs to the Group of Corporeality. there is of "feeling"-bodily ease, pain, joy, sadness, or indifferent feeling-belongs to the Group of Feeling. Whatsoever there is of "perception"-visual objects, sounds, odors, tastes, bodily impressions, or mind objects-belongs to the Group of Perception. Whatsoever there are of mental "formations" impression, volition, etc.-belong to the Group of mental Formations. Whatsoever there is of "consciousness" therein, belongs to the Group of Consciousness.

And it is impossible that any one can explain the passing out of one existence, and the entering into a new existence, or the growth, increase, and development of consciousness, independent of corporeality, feeling, perception, and mental formations.

THE THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF EXISTENCE

All formations are "transient"; all formations are "subject to suffering"; all things are "without an Ego-entity." Corporeality is transient, feeling is transient, perception is transient, mental formations are transient, consciousness is transient.

And that which is transient, is subject to suffering; and of that which is transient, and subject to suffering and change, one cannot rightly say: "This belongs to me; this am I; this is my Ego."

Therefore, whatever there be of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations, or consciousness, whether one's own or external, whether gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, one should understand, according to reality, and true wisdom: "This does not belong to me; this am I not; this is not my Ego."

Suppose, a man who is not blind, were to behold the many bubbles on the Ganges as they are driving along; and he should watch them, and carefully examine them. After carefully examining them, they will appear to him empty, unreal, and unsubstantial. In exactly the same way, does the monk behold all the corporeal phenomena, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and states of consciousness-whether they be of the past, or the present, or the future, far, or near. And he watches them, and examines them carefully; and, after carefully examining them, they appear to him empty, void, and without an Ego

Whoso delights in corporeality, or feeling, or perception, or mental formations, or consciousness, he delights in suffering; and whoso delights in suffering, will not be freed from suffering. Thus I say

         How can you find delight and mirth,
         Where there is burning without end?
         In deepest darkness you are wrapped!
         Why do you not seek for the light?
Look at this puppet here, well rigged, A heap of many sores, piled up, Diseased, and full of greediness, Unstable, and impermanent!
Devoured by old age is this frame, A prey of sickness, weak and frail; To pieces breaks this putrid body, All life must truly end in death.

THE THREE WARNINGS

Did you never see in the world a man, or a woman, eighty, ninety, or a hundred years old, frail, crooked as a gable roof, bent down, resting on crutches, with tottering steps, infirm, youth long since fled, with broken teeth, grey and scanty hair, or bald-headed, wrinkled, with blotched limbs? And did the thought never come to you that also you are subject to decay, that also you cannot escape it?

Did you never see in the world a man, or a woman, who being sick, afflicted, and grievously ill, and wallowing in his own filth, was lifted up by some people, and put to bed by others? And did the thought never come to you that also you are subject to disease, that also you cannot escape it?

Did you never see in the world the corpse of a man, or a woman, one, or two, or three days after death, swollen up, blue-black in color, and full of corruption? And did the thought never come to you that also you are subject to death, that also you cannot escape it?

SAMSARA, THE WHEEL OF EXISTENCE

Inconceivable is the beginning of this Samsara; not to be discovered is any first beginning of beings, who, obstructed by ignorance, and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths.

(Samsara-the Wheel of Existence, lit., the "Perpetual Wandering"-is the name by which is designated the sea of life ever restlessly heaving up and down, the symbol of this continuous process of ever again and again being born, growing old, suffering, and dying. More precisely Put: Samsara is the unbroken chain of the fivefold Khandha-combinations, which, constantly changing from moment to moment, follow continuously one upon the other through inconceivable periods of time. Of this Samsara, a single lifetime constitutes only a vanishingly tiny fraction; hence, to be able to comprehend the first noble truth, one must let one's gaze rest upon the Samsara, upon this frightful chain of rebirths, and not merely upon one single lifetime, which, of course, may be sometimes not very painful.)

Which do you think is the more: the flood of tears, which weeping and wailing you have shed upon this long way-hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths, united with the undesired, separated from the desired this, or the waters of the four oceans?

Long time have you suffered the death of father and mother, of sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. And whilst you were thus suffering, you have, verily, shed more tears upon this long way than there is water in the four oceans.

Which do you think is the more: the streams of blood that, through your being beheaded, have flowed upon this long way, or the waters in the four oceans?

Long time have you been caught as dacoits, or highwaymen, or adulterers; and, through your being beheaded, verily, more blood has flowed upon this long way than there is water in the four oceans.

But how is this possible?

Inconceivable is the beginning of this Samsara; not to be discovered is any first beginning of beings, who, obstructed by ignorance, and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths.

And thus have you long time undergone suffering, undergone torment, undergone misfortune, and filled the graveyards full; verily, long enough to be dissatisfied with all the forms of existence, long enough to turn away, and free yourselves from them all.

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