The Sorrowful Change-M.S.Srinivasan

The  human  being, in the Buddhist perspective, is an everchanging  stream  of consciousness  or  to  be more precise, a  perpetually  changing  movement  or a process  of psycho-physical energy with no permanent Ego or soul principle  in it.  This stream of psycho-physical energy which constitute the human organism, this flame of  being, is held together and propelled into the ocean of becoming, the journey of life, samsara sagara, by an essential craving for life, Trishna.  This  Desire, the Craving for life is the root cause of all sorrow, bondage  and suffering.   It  is  the  engine which propels the fly-wheel of  samsara;  it  is  the psychological  principle which forges karma and compels the human being to  be born  again  and again in an endless series of sorrowful births.  Thus in the Buddhist perspective, sorrow born of craving, is the essential nature of life as it is.  Whatever happiness or pleasure we feel is another form of sorrow.

But we  must  remember here  that  this  Desire of which Buddha spoke is not  the  various  forms  of conscious  desire  of the surface being of man for the outer objects  but  the very  bedrock  of  desire,  a deep-rooted  and  essential  craving  for  the enjoyment  and  experience of  life, not only the gross physical  and  sensuous experiences  and joys of the body but also the experiences and  joys of  the mind, not only the experiences and joys of the  terrestial  life but  also the heavenly experiences and joys of the life of gods.  In  a  well-known  Buddhist  treatise  “The Debate of King  Milinda”,  the  Buddhist  monk Nagasena describes “feeling” as the cause of craving and explains further  the “characteristic mark of feeling” as “being experienced and enjoyed” And Buddha says in one of his discourages “where does this craving arise and takes  root? Wherever in the world there are delightful and pleasurable things, there  this craving  arises  and takes root.”   This  is the reason why Buddhist yoga stresses much more on states  of tranquil severity, detachment, insight and compassion rather than on mystic or psychic experiences, visions and ecstasies.  For longing  towards these inner experiences is as much a form of craving and desire as the longing for physical and sensuous enjoyments.

This  essential  craving  for  life is ever  unfulfilled.   It  can  never  be fulfilled  because there is nothing in life which is permanent.  Everything  in life,  the outer objects and beings as well as inner  subjective  experiences, however  ecstatic  it  may be, are temporary, subject to the  eternal  law  of change,  transience, passing away and death.  There is no permanent principle in  life,  nature or in the human being to which we can cling for  support  or which  can give us eternal fulfillment.  This is the nature of  life;  change, transience, impersonality, lack of any eternal support, and unfullfillment  or sorrow are the inherent characteristics of life.  Such was Buddha’s penetrating and rational analysis of life.  Here also we can see that Buddha’s emphasis was on concrete, perceptible psychological nature of life rather than on higher spiritual nature.

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