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The what, how and the why!

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If the universe were a puzzle or a game, it feels like different traditions or masters have  explored and described different aspects.  All of them very interesting in their own ways and in the context in which the teachings were shared.

 

The what, or the process that leads to suffering

Buddha asked questions like, what causes suffering and found the answers for that.  His findings in my views throw some light on the  details of the process.  He identified accurately that the point at which a feeling turns into craving (Taṇhā) as the root cause of suffering.  Now, what is the reason for this craving (Tanja), or why does feeling turn into craving.  The answer Buddha came up was, Avidya or ignorance is the root cause of tanha (craving).

 

Tanha is described and explained as follows in the four noble truths which are the basic pillars of Buddhist philosophy.

 

 

"In the second of the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha identified taṇhā as a principal cause in the arising of dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness).[8]

The taṇhā, states Walpola Rahula, or "thirst, desire, greed, craving" is what manifests as suffering and rebirths.[7] However, adds Rahula, it is not the first cause nor the only cause of dukkha or samsara, because the origination of everything is relative and dependent on something else.[7] The Pali canons of Buddhism assert other defilements and impurities (kilesā, sāsavā dhammā), in addition to taṇhā, as the cause of Dukkha. Taṇhā nevertheless, is always listed first, and considered the principal, all-pervading and "the most palpable and immediate cause" of dukkha, states Rahula.[7]

Taṇhā, states Peter Harvey, is the key origin of dukkha in Buddhism.[5] It reflects a mental state of craving. Greater the craving, more is the frustration because the world is always changing and innately unsatisfactory; craving also brings about pain through conflict and quarrels between individuals, which are all a state of Dukkha.[5] It is such taṇhāthat leads to rebirth and endless Samsara, stated Buddha as the second reality, and it is marked by three types of craving: sensory, being or non-existence.[9] In Buddhist theosophy, there are right view and wrong view. The wrong views, it ultimately traces to Taṇhā, but it also asserts that "ordinary right view" such as giving and donations to monks, is also a form of clinging.[10] The end of Taṇhāoccurs when the person has accepted the "transcendent right view" through the insight into impermanence and non-self.[10]"

 

 

  The 12 Nidānas:  
Ignorance
Formations
Consciousness
Name & Form
Six Sense Bases
Contact
Feeling
Craving
Clinging
Becoming
Birth
Old Age & Death

 

 

 

 

The above 12 Nidhanas are one way or perspective to look at or make sense of the world we live in.  These steps describe a cyclical process, and the step where feelings transform into cravings, this is the root cause for the suffering.

 

The why and the how

 

This is all very interesting, but there arises the questions why and how.  Why does feeling transform into craving?  Is this like a fundamental flaw in the creation? Why should the sentient beings suffer, or how do they end up in the predicament where they find themselves as separate beings lost in the world of multiples?

 

I find convincing answers to these questions, from a different perspective that is explained in Kashmir Shaivisim and some other tantric traditions.  These traditions do not go into the microscopic level of details into the actual process like Buddha did, but they tell a different story of the components or how the world is made of.

 

We come across the five acts of divine (Shiva) in Kashmir Shaivisim.  They are,  1) Creation, 2) Sustenance, 3) Destruction, 4) Concealment/Maya/Veil  and 5) Revealing/Anugraha/Divine Grace.  The divine creates or forms the world in the first act. Everything is nondual and just awareness at this point.  Through the 36 tattvas/principles, the awareness becomes everything in the world.  The sustenance of the world is the second act.  The world is always in a state of dynamic vibration, in a state of flux or movement, this is the second act.  Everything that is created must come to an end at some point of time.  Anything that is born invariably dies at some point.  In order for the new things to appear, the old must give way, this is the nature.  So, destruction is also one of the acts of the divine, to may way for the new, or for the universe to exist in a state of flux.

 

The forth act of Concealment (Tirodhana), is a mysterious act of divine, which subjects the nondual awareness into the layer of Maya (illusion), and this results in the world of multitudes with the individual and separated (feeling) sentient beings or purusha + prakriti (Shakti at individual level).

 

So, the process that Buddha described, where the feelings turn into cravings, it is not due to some accident or mistake in the creation.  It is the act of divine, concealment, that makes us forget who we are and get caught up in the world, and thus we get lost in tanha (cravings).  All of this is part of the leela, or the divine play.

 

How do we root out the avidya/ignorance that makes the feelings turn into cravings in the Nidhanas?  Until we are caught in the web of maya, it is simply not possible to come out of this ignorance on our own. The answer lies in how we got here in the first place, into this world of suffering as described by Buddha.  It is by the acts of the divine (creation, sustenance, destruction and concealment), we got caught in (or lead to believe we are caught up) this cycle of births and deaths.   By surrender and reaching out to the divine and through the fifth and final act of the divine, anugraha/revealment, we trace our way back and realize who we are -- who we were all the time even when we were immersed in the world!

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