17th October 1999

When 'me' and 'mine' bring sorrow

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The Noble Eight Fold Path contains both the mundane and the supra mundane. In the supra mundane through Right Perception is seen, sorrow, the reason for sorrow, the escape from sorrow and the path to escape sorrow. This is also known as the 'chathurarya sathya'.

The Noble Eight Fold Path belongs to the fourth category, the path to escape sorrow. However, a follower of this path doesn't achieve an understanding of the Right Perception immediately. It is necessary to know what requires to be understood.

The foundation of Buddha's teachings are 'anithya', (impermanence) 'dukkha' (sorrow) and 'anathma' (selflessness). These are inherent in the 'chathurarya sathya'. Nothing in this world just occurs. Nor does it occur due to one, reason. It occurs due to many reasons. The Buddha stated that the world was created as a result of a variety of reasons.

The world is made up of two segments, the internal and the external world. The 'adyathmika' (spiritual) world is made up of vedana (feelings), sanya (perceptions), sankara (karmic force) and vinyana (consciousness). The external world is the world of images (rupa). As well as all these images the spiritual world is created through the contributory forces of each or through cause. The reasons for the creation of images are 'patavi'(earth), 'apo'(water), 'thejo'(fire), and 'vayo' (air).

The 'patavi dathu', earth element, is not an object, nor something that can be seen or touched. It is merely an element. Elements possess some quality. The 'thejo' (fire) element is deterioration which is caused by heat and cold. The element 'apo' (water) is the unmixed elements of 'patavi' and 'thejo'. The element 'vayo'(air) depicts motion. The above mentioned three elements, never remain static but keep changing. This is due to the air element.

None of these elements can be possessed or called 'mine'. Nor can they be seen or touched. As said earlier they simply possess a quality.

When these four elements come together as colour, odour, taste and essence, we see the first category of images. This is known as the 'parama anuva' or 'paramanuva',-atom.

However, we must understand that the atom discovered in science, is in no way similar to that found in Buddhism. Although the atom found in modern science can be separated as protons and neutrons, the atom found in Buddhism cannot be separated as image categories.

The images we can see are known as 'olarica' while those we cannot see are referred to as 'sukhoma'. The sounds we hear, the odours we smell and the essence we taste, are all images, 'rupa'. The rupa thus focussed on cannot be seen by us. A large number of atoms come together to form a large rough 'olarika' image, and there colours emerge. The colorful images thus created are 'olarika rupa', or 'causal' images'.

Therefore as 'sukhoma rupa' since the first atom changes it is impermanent. Similarly since the elements, all the images, visible to us and those invisible are involved in a constant process of change, they are all known as 'anithya', impermanent.

The cause for sorrow is the impermanence of all possessions, the desire which creates ties to 'me' and 'mine'. If we think of something as not being ours, any change which occurs to it, will not cause sorrow to us.

As an example take ones eye. Your eyes has been created through these four elements. How you create an attachment to your eye is by looking at objects which are desirous to you. When some trouble occurs to this eye you cannot bear it. Somehow you will strive to safeguard this eye. But if trouble befalls the eye of another, one who is not close to you, this will not bother you. However it is the same thing that occurs in both instances. If your child loses an eye it will cause you pain. This is because it is your child. When another's child loses an eye, it does not cause you as much pain.

Since all possessions are destroyed due to impermanence, no god nor power has the ability to change this order of things.

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