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Asankhata (n.) the "Unformed, Unoriginated, Unconditioned", is a name for Nibbāna, the beyond of all becoming and conditionality.
All things in life are like a construction site, a work place, a building site. From cutting the nails to combing the hair, cooking, flowers arrangement, studying, social networking, getting married, setting up a company or factory, etc... all of these activities are construction. Combing hair is constructing a beautiful hair, clipping nails is building a new set of nails. All the happiness and sadness in this life come to exist from what we build.
Those who comprehend the Buddhist doctrine do not construct their misunderstandings, do not build hatred or anger, and do not build love or passion to hold when facing life matters. People who do not understand the Buddhist teachings either love and have an attachment, or hate and fear when facing the world of senses. Overall, this whole life is a construction - this is the narrow meaning. In a broad Buddhist sense, “construction “ means building a world of craving in the next life when we indulge in the five sensual pleasures. Having a passion for Samadhi (concentration meditation ) in this life means we are building the Brahma sphere of existence in the next life. Even a fraction of time which we spend on feeling of happiness or sadness is also a moment we are building something for the next life. Therefore the word “sankhara” ( mental reaction, volitional actions) which the Buddha had implied means that everything in this life is constructing , while Nibbāna is the cessation or discontinuing of construction.
“Nibbāna “ has many meanings: “wound healing “, “getting out of the forest “, “untangle a roll of thread or a piece of cloth”, unraveling something knit, embroidered, sewn and woven.
“No mental reactions” (Asankhata) means Nibbāna which is the departure from the world of building . What to build? Building the pain and suffering, the joys and sorrows, building the realms of reincarnation, building the birth and death, building the realms of presence and existence. Building by what? Building through the conditions! Which conditions?
If we want to build one of the Four Lower Realms of existence (Apāya) which will result in suffering due to our bad karma, then we would build with the factors of unwholesome nature. If we want to be born in one of the protective Deities of Buddhism (Desire Brahma) then we would build the world of Celestial Nature with the Ten Paramis (the wholesome mental qualities). If we want to be born in another realm of Brahma, we would build on the stages of one pointedness concentration (Samadhi).
The world is a weaving, an embroidery, sewing and patching up. Nibbāna is a departure from those things and it is called “Asankhata“. The Buddha had taught us that if we want to leave that forest, to untangle that roll of thread or to unweave that woven cloth, all we have to do is leaving the three mental defilements (craving , aversion and delusion). As long as these toxic mental defilements remained with us, we still continue to build one thing after the other.
In the diagram of the Twelve Dependent Arising (Paticca Samuppada) found in Tibet, Thailand and other Buddhist countries, “Ignorance “ is represented by the image of a blind woman using a stick to find her way around. At the stage of Fabricating (Sankhara) there is the image of a potter making a pot. Today I want to make it clear so later on everyone won’t get confused anytime they look at this diagram as the word “Sankhara” means to construct.
But the image of a building with a man holding a cement trowel was used in the diagram it would look odd, so the image of a potter was used instead. From a lump of clay he can build anything without using a tool in a limited time frame.
Volitional Actions are the realms of becoming where all beings construct their own existence, their gladness and sadness, their good deeds and evil deeds using tools and materials. The good tools are used in the good world while the evil tools are used in the bad world. Therefore the Buddha taught us that if we want to leave the world of suffering we must abandon the desire to build. By saying that I don’t mean to go and destroy things, but truly cultivating towards Liberation we must destroy our own cycle of birth and death.
|Tủ Sách Toại Khanh|
Khi Nhà Sư Qua Sông
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