Visuddhimagga Ch XVII, 303 and Tiika, part II.
- Continuation of Visuddhimagga Ch XVII, 303.
Text Vis.: Or again, ignorance here as 'no theory' and 'wrong theory'
befogs beings as a cataract does the eyes;
N: �Theory� is here the translation of pa.tipatti, but this is
usually translated as practice. Also in this context the translation
of theory is off the mark, since pa.tipatti relates to the
understanding of the characteristics of realities. P Maung translates
this as vision. �No theory� can mean failing to see the specific and
general characteristics of dhammas as they are. Wrong theory is
seeing them in the wrong way, being on the wrong Path.
The Tiika remarks that just as through an eye cataract one does not
see visible object, or sees it wrongly, evenso overcome by ignorance
one does not see the truths of dukkha etc. or sees them in the wrong
way, with wrong view.
The truth of dukkha relates to dukkha in our daily life at this
moment. Realities such as seeing or visible object arise and then
fall away immediately and thus they are dukkha.
Text Vis.: the fool befogged by it involves himself in formations
that produce further becoming, as a cocoon-spinning caterpillar does
with the strands of the cocoon;
N: The Tiika explains: Kamma-formations are like the strands of a
cocoon that a caterpillor makes himself; they are the cause of
roaming about in one�s own cycle.
We are wrapped up in the kamma-formations made by ourselves, and we
are going around, roaming about from one life to another.
Text Vis.: consciousness guided by formations establishes itself in
the destinies, as a prince guided by a minister establishes himself
on a throne;
N: The Tiika explains that without the committing of kamma-
formations, vi~n~naa.na, rebirth-consciousness would not be
established in planes of existence, even as a prince would not be
established in his kingdom without being guided by a minister.
Text Vis.: [death] consciousness conjecturing about the sign of
rebirth generates mentality-materiality in its various aspects in
rebirth-linking, as a
magician does an illusion;
N: The translator should not translate here vi~n~naa.na as death-
consciousness, it is the rebirth-consciousness. P. Maung translates:
< by dwelling on the sign of rebirth, consciousness gives rise to
various kinds of name-and-form at rebirth>.
As to the sign of rebirth, this is the object of kamma etc. the Tiika
The last javana-cittas of the previous life experience as object the
kamma that will produce rebirth-consciousness, a symbol or sign of
it, or the future destiny, or another object experienced through one
of the six doors. The rebirth-consciousness of the next life
experiences that object. There is a great variety of naama/ruupa
conditioned by rebirth-consciousness, since there are many kinds of
rebirth in the different planes of existence, conditioned by kamma.
The magician creates many kinds of illusions of devas, humans, deer,
birds etc., and evenso is naama/ruupa conditioned by vi~n~naa.na an
illusion that is manyfold.
Text Vis.: the sixfold base planted in mentality-materiality reaches
growth, increase and fulfilment, as a forest thicket does planted in
good soil; contact is born from the impingement of the bases, as fire
is born from the rubbing together of fire sticks; feeling is
manifested in one touched by contact, as burning is in one touched by
N: A human does not have the sensebases complete at birth. Kamma
produces the bodysense at the moment of birth and later on the other
sensebases develop and reach maturity. Different objects impinge on
the sensebases and on account of the objects that are experienced,
kusala cittas and akusala cittas arise that can motivate kamma.
As to contact that is born from the impingement of the bases, the
Tiika explains that the sense-bases and the object bases are facing
each other. This is compared to the firesticks that are rubbing
together. Phassa is like fire, and feeling conditioned by contact is
very painful, it is like burning oneself on a fire.
Text Vis.: craving increases in one who feels, as thirst does in one
who drinks salt water; one who is parched [with craving] conceives
longing for the kinds of becoming, as a thirsty man does for drinks;
N: The Tiika explains that craving is like thirst, it is longing for
the manifestation of objects. One wishes to experience objects again
Text Vis.: that is his clinging; by clinging he clings to becoming as a
fish does to the hook through greed for the bait;
N: The Tiika states that he clings to becoming, because he does not
know that becoming leads to ruin and misfortune.
Text Vis.: when there is becoming there is birth, as when there is a
seed there is a shoot; and death is certain for one who is born, as
falling down is for a tree that has grown up.
So this Wheel of Becoming should be known thus 'as to similes' too in
whichever way is appropriate.
N: The Tiika repeats that sa�nkhaara is compared to the strands of a
cocoon woven by a caterpillar and also to the minister who guides the
prince so that he becomes established in the kingdom. Evenso kamma-
formations lead to establishment in different existences, in the
cycle of birth and death.
We are involved in the cycle of birth and death, just as a
caterpillar spinning a cocoon. Evenso we cannot escape from this
involvement so long as there is ignorance of the characteristics of
realities. We cling to rebirth not knowing that it leads to ruin and
misfortune. As we read: �death is certain for one who is born, as
falling down is for a tree that has grown up.� We cling to life but
we are born to die.
All these similes can instill a sense of urgency in us. We have no
time to lose and therefore, we should attend to the characteristics
of seeing, visible object, and all realities presenting themselves at
this moment. This is the way to understand them as just naama dhamma
or just ruupa dhamma, non-self.
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