Reply To: post on Niddesa (Brief Description) of Paṭicca Samuppāda


Here is another analogy that might be helpful, that I learned from Ven. Amadassana Thero.

As a child, we have a very simply world view and many “adult things” don’t seem to matter to us. For example, the parents just give us food on the table, they buy us a smartphone (nowadays), they give us presents, and so on. 

So we easily get the feeling that “money grows on trees” and that we might be somehow special and deserving to get all this. 

For example, that all this delicious food we get from the supermarket is something all humans deserve and is simply “a given”.

So if someone asks me when I was a child: “Who is your father?” then I would have pointed to my father and said “he is”. So, I knew who my father was and also who the father of my friends were, and so on. And what job they had, and so on.

But when it comes to the question of “What is a father?” it is something one can only appreciate through a certain wisdom.

Here, in this example, I am referring to the mundane wisdom which we acquire later in life.

How? For example once I moved out of the parent’s house and I had to sustain my own life, then you have to go to the supermarket and then you have to pay for all these things that you enjoyed all your life. The different kinds of cheese, juices, and so on that was “granted”. That is when we realize that all these articles are not for free at all and that most of the money earned simply has to be spent on “food” and not on fancy extras (phone, games, etc.). I remember when I went to the supermarket with my mother the first time I was a teenager and spend 200€ (or $) for all week’s food for the family. It made me realize that all of this luxury was not free at all! Also, as one starts to work by oneself, one understands how much of a burden it is to work full-time and for so many years. So, at that point one might understand the “quality of the parents” because they worked for so many years and provided all these things that one “took for granted”. Then, one sees “what a father” is. Also, now that I understand that in life “nothing is for free”, I appreciate that my father tried to explain me the value of “hard work”. This is another value “a father” holds (teaching of important values to a child). As a child I might have protested and preferred to play video games, but now it is something I can “see as a quality in him” (or in any father).

So this process of “growing up” was how I corrected certain views about life and then I started to appreciate what my parents gave me. Actually the process of understanding Dhamma helps in this by a great deal, I think my gratefulness becomes only greater now.

The Buddha was the greatest “father” in this way.

One can also use this principle to reflect on other qualities, such as instead of “Who is the doctor?” to “What is a doctor?” , or “What is an architect?” , “What is a scientist?” and one will understand better their respective qualities. It is easy to say “Mrs Smith is a doctor” but only when one has a certain understanding of life is when one understands “what a doctor is”  (for that, one needs wisdom).

In the same way, understanding “what a Buddha is” needs one to have samma ditthi.


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