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The Second Noble Truth: Duhkha-Samudaya

The Second Noble Truth: Duhkha-Samudaya

  • The second noble truth states that there is a cause of suffering. Suffering is not due to chance and caprice, but is brought about by certain conditions. Everything has a cause.
  • The doctrine that everything is caused by other things is known as the Doctrine of Dependent Origination (Pratityasamutpada). The doctrine of pratityasamutpada is the foundation of all the teachings of the Buddha.
  • The various conditions which produce suffering are expressed by the Buddha in the form of a chain of causes and effects made up of 12 links. Hence, ‘the twelve-fold chain of causation’ (dvadasanidana) is another name for the Doctrine of Dependent Origination.                                    The Second Noble Truth: Duhkha-Samudaya
  • The links are as follows:
  1. Ignorance (avidya)
  2. Impressions of karmic forces (samskara)
  3. Initial consciousness of the embryo (vijnana)
  4. Psycho-physical organism (nama-rupa)
  5. Six sense-organs including mind (sadayatana)
  6. Sense-object-contact (sparsa)
  7. Sense-experience (vedana)
  8. Thirst for sense-enjoyment (trsna)
  9. Clinging to this enjoyment (upadana)
  10. Will to be born (bhava)
  11. Birth or rebirth (jati)
  12. Old age and death (jara-marana)
  • Out of these twelve links the first two are related to past life, the last two to future life and the rest to present life. This is the cycle of birth-and-death. It does not end with death. Death is only a beginning of a new life. This is the vicious circle of causation.
  • The twelve links in the chain of suffering states that we suffer misery and pain, because we are born. We are born because there is a will to be born. This will is there because we cling to the objects of the world.
  • We have this clinging because we crave to enjoy the objects of this world. We have this craving and thirst for enjoyment because of sense‑ experience. We have sense-experience because of sense-object contact. We have this contact because of the six sense organs.
  • We have the six sense-organs because of the psycho-physical organism. We have this organism because of the initial consciousness of the embryo. We have this consciousness because of our predispositions or impressions of karma.                                        The Second Noble Truth: Duhkha-Samudaya
  • We have these impressions because of ignorance. Hence, ignorance is the root-cause of all suffering. Ignorance can be destroyed only by knowledge. So, knowledge is the sole means of liberation.
  • The twelve-fold chain is not a linear but a circular chain, because the twelfth factor is joined to the first. Some of the links are only necessary but not sufficient for the ones that follow them. Thus, old age and death are only necessary but not sufficient for ignorance. If the chain were one of necessary and sufficient conditions, it would be impossible to break it.

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