Saturday, 26 March 2011

Middle Path (Majjhimāpatipada) & Causality (Paticcasamuppāda)


The Buddhist path of liberation is described as middle path; it is called so because it avoids extremes both theoretically and practically. It becomes more meaningful with reference to the other extremists, theorists and practices that prevailed in ancient India.

ßassatavāda (Eternalism)
aJJA jIvaM aJJA sarIraM
Attakilamatānuyoga (Self-Mortification)
Ucchedavāda (Annihilationism) taM jIvaM taM sarIraM
Kamāsukhallikānuyoga (Indulged in Sensual pleasures)
PaTiccasamuppāda (Causality)

majjhimāpaTipada (Middle Path)
Theoretically, Buddhism establishes the teaching of PaTiccasamuppAda against the two extremes of Eternalism and Annihilationism, practically Buddhism establishes the middle path against the self-indulgence and self-mortification. By this Buddhism became a unique religion, which rejected the main theories of existing religion and establishing a newer path for liberation and self-actualization.

The KAmasukhallikAnuyoga or indulgence into sensual pleasures was one practice prevalent in India that was backed by some religious philosophies. The Annihilationism which admonish that both body and the soul is same they begin with birth and end with the death. They did not believe in the efficacy of previous kamma nor did they believe also in future births with the results of actions that are performed now. As recorded in ∂hammacakkappavatthanasutta of SN, this practice was rejected by the Buddha by using five words as low, vulgar, common, ignoble and leading no to any good end.
 “Yo cAyaM kAmesu kAmasukhallikAnuyogo hīno, gammo, pothujjaniko, anariyo, anatthasaMhito.”
The åttakilamatAnuyoga or practice of self-mortification that was only practiced by some major religions as their only practice (i.e. Jainism) and that was practiced by a big majority of religious practitioners was one of the significant path followed by those who wish for liberation even the ascetic Gautama experimented it for six years. Those who followed this practice in most cases wanted to free their life or soul from saµsāric suffering by giving immense pain to the body. So in the ∂hammacakkappavatthanasutta the Buddha describes that path as suffering, ignoble and leading to no good (Yo cAyaM attakilamatAnuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaMhito.”). Here the Buddha did not use many words to condemn the self-mortification as used for self-indulgence. To reject the self-mortification the Buddha used only three words but when he rejected self-indulgence used five words. Because he understood although self-mortification does not lead to supreme bliss it leads at some states.  Having rejected the above two ways the Buddha introduces the middle path as He realized it Himself.

Ete te ubho ante anupagamma majjhimA paTipadA tathAgatena abhisambuddha cakkhukaraNI, nAnakaraNi upasamAya abhiJJAya sambodhAya nibbAnAya saMvattati.
                                                                                                            (∂hammacakkappavatthanasutta, SN)

=The middle path was fully enlightened by the Buddha without entering into these two extremes. (That middle path) is making (true) eye, (true) knowledge and exists for tranquility, higher knowledge, for enlightenment and emancipation.”

The Buddha evidenced Himself both these practices before He became Buddha, as a layman prince Siddhattha had the opportunity of enjoying all the luxuries and he had realized that those sensual pleasures lead no to eternal good. Again after the renunciation He experienced self-mortification in its full and realized that even it leads no for eternal peace. Then He started practicing the middle path by that way he realized the fundamental phenomena, the causality as the main cause behind the function of the world.

When He realized that the world is made of unsatisfactoriness and what beings experienced mostly is unsatisfactoriness, He searched for eternal happiness and way out of saµsāric suffering. It is in the åriyapariyesanasutta of MN that the Buddha says there are two researches in the world. They are
1.  ånariyapariyesana – ignoble quest
2.  åriyapariyesana – noble quest

When the beings who are subject to impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and soul-lessness look for the things with some qualities that is called ignoble quest, when those beings look for what is permanent and happy in reality and understand the soul-lessness that is called noble quest. From these two the Gautama, the Buddha selected the second.

With the insight meditation the Buddha realized the causal function of suffering in samsāric life it He explains in the following:




















The åssutavantusutta of SN presents the basic formula of paTiccasamuppAda as follows.

îmasmiM sati idaM hoti - imassuppAdA idaM uppajjati,
imasmiM asati idaM na hoti - imassa nirodhA idaM nirujjhati.

=When there is this, this is there - With the arising of this, this arises,
When this is not there, there is no this - With the cessation of this, this ceases.

This basic formula establishes the fact that nothing exists independently and everything is independent in the same way Buddhism explains the problem of unsatisfactoriness.

When there is craving, there is unsatisfactoriness,
With the arising of craving, unsatisfactoriness arises,
When craving is not there, there is no unsatisfactoriness,
With the cessation of craving, unsatisfactoriness ceases.
 This causal understanding of the way to liberation liberates a person from suffering.

When the Buddha was examining the causal function of saµsāric suffering He found the Noble Eightfold Path, which was also practiced by previous Buddhas. The ñagarasutta of SN explains the Buddha’s inquiry as follows:

Katamo ca so bhikkhave purANamaggo puranaJjaso pubbakehi sammA sambuddhehi anuyAto ayameva ariyo aTThangikamaggo seyyathidaM sammAdiTThi sammAsamAdhi.

=O monks! what is the ancient traveled on by Enlightened Ones in the past (that is) this Noble Eightfold Path itself namely right view . . . right concentration.

SammA diTThi (Right Understanding)

PaJJA (Wisdom)
SammA saGkappa (Right Thought)

SammA vAcA (Right Speech)

SIla (Morality)
SammA kammanta (Right Action)

SammA AjIva (Right Livelihood)

SammA vAyama (Right Effort)

SamAdhi (Concentration)
SammA sati (Right Mindfulness)

SammA samAdhi (Right Concentretion)

sammA JAna (Right Knowledge )

PaJJA (Wisdom)
sammA vimutti (Right Liberation)

The last two limbs of the part are rarely given. They are recorded in µahAcattarisakasutta of MN.

The limbs of each factor of Eightfold Path are as follows.

1.    Sammā DiTThi
i.       CatusaccasammādiTThi (The right view of four truths.)
ii.      KammassakatAJAnasammAdiTThi (The right view of the knowledge of function of kamma)
2.    Sammā Samkappa
i.       ñekkhammasaºkappa (Thought of renunciation)
ii.      åvihiMsasaGkappa (Thought of non-cruelty)
iii.     åvyApAdasaGkappa (thought of non-ill-will)
3.    Sammā Vācā
i.       µusAvAda veramani (Refrain from faulthood)
ii.         PharasuvAcA veramani (Refrain from harsh speech)
iii.     PhisunvAcA veramani (Refrain from slandering)
iv.     ßampappalApa veramani (Refrain from idle talk)
4.    Sammā Kammanta
i.       Panatipata veramani (Refrain from killing)
ii.         ådinnadana veramani (Refrain from stealing)
iii.     KAmesumicchacAra veramani (Refrain from misconduct).
5.    Sammā Ājīva
A) Refraining from five businesses   
         i.           ßattavaNijja (Business in beings)
         ii.          ßatthavaNijja (Business in weapons)
         iii          µajjavaNijja (Business intoxication)
         iv.         VisavaNijja (Business poison)
         v.          µaMsavaNijja (Business in flesh)
         i.           TulAkUta (Deceiving in scale),
       ii.       KaMsakUta (Deceiving in gold Business),
       iii.          µAnakUta (Deceiving in measurements).

C)   ∂hanaM caje yo pana aGgahetu - aGgaM caje jīvitaM rakkhamAno,
          AGgaM dhanam jīvitaM cApi sabbaM - caje naro dhammamanussaranto.

One gives up wealth for the sake of limbs -One gives up limbs for the sake of life,
One gives up limbs, wealth and life - For the sake of righteousness.
6.  Sammā Vāyāma –
i.   ånupannAnaM kusalAnaM dhammAnaM                            uppAdAāya vAyamati (One strive to arise the wholesome states that are not arisen).

ii.    üpannAnaM kusalAnaM dhammAnaM bhīyobhAvAya vAyamati (One strive to increase the wholesome states that are arisen)
iii.   üpannAnaM akusalAnaM dhammAnaM pahAnAya vAyamati (One strives to give up unwholesome states that are arisen)
iv.  ånupannAnaM akusalAnaM dhammAnaM anuppAdAyavAyamati (One strives to prevent the unwholesome states that are not arisen)
7    Sammā Sati
       The four SatipaTThana
                              i.           KAyAnupassana (mindfulness of body)
                              ii.          VedanAnupassana (mindfulness of feeling)   
                                    iii.        CittAnupassana (mindfulness of mind)
                              iv.        ∂hammAnupassana (mindfulness of thing)
8.  Sammā Samādhi
                               i.          PathamajjhAna (first trance)
                               ii.         ∂utiyajjhAna (second trance)
                               iii.        TatiyajjhAna (third trance)
                               iv         CatitthajjhAna (fourth trance

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