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Vigata Paccaya – Condition of Dissolution and Destruction

All phenomena sooner or later come to a condition of fading, dying and disappearance. And becoming thus, they are instances of this condition.

This condition may perhaps equally be translated as ‘going asunder’, ‘falling apart’, ‘moving towards destruction’, or the familiar Buddhist favourite, ‘impermanence’.

Old age, sickness, death, loss of property, loss of relatives and friends, and on the level of the mind, also mental depression and dementia; all these come under the condition of dissolution and destruction.

In relation to the four elements, is the element of fire, the element which stands for destruction as such, while the element of air may generally stand for the ceasing of the manifest.

But then, in a yet different consideration; in the realm of the manifest, is each element always endangered by the winning in strength of the other elements. Matter is always engaged with and worn off by other matter. Thus, is earth destroyed by fire, dissolved by water, and worn off or dispersed by wind. Water is vaporised by fire, absorbed or soaked up by earth and equally dispersed by the wind element. Fire is suffocated by earth, extinguished by water, and blown out by wind. And finally wind is hindered by earth and water, loosing its force through contact with them, while the fire element is consuming its force.

And, as that, which we know as our world, is made up of these four elements, we should rightly conclude, that the manifest world around us, is not likely to last forever in the conditions which are familiar to us. Earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis, forest fires, these should not be looked upon as unnatural, but are indeed a natural part of the manifest world.

Then is life, whether in plants, animals, human beings, or even of the planet as a whole, most of the time weighted down by the nature of these elements. Physical life does not exist apart from the elements of earth, water, fire and air. But any excess of some of the elements often will prove disastrous. If it’s too hot, life can not be, if the water is in excess, much of presently existing life too can not be. If there is only earth, and too much of a lack of the other elements, life too can not be. And so it is with the element of air.

Within our body too, almost every moment, there can be observed destruction. After we have eaten, the food we have taken into ourselves, gradually gets destroyed by the fire of digestion. On the other hand side, whenever we have not eaten enough, various cells of the body undergo destruction. In fact, however well a person may look after himself, many cells within the body become destroyed anyhow all the time. And so it is also with the cells in plants and animals. Gradually this process of continuous tiny destructions will then lead to the big destruction of the body as a whole. Which is, what we call death.

But this death or destruction is not limited to physical phenomena. Because the mind too is perpetually under the sway of death and destruction. Especially so the mind which is involved with matter and life; that is, the sense-sphere mind.

We feel happy, everything seems to work out. People like us. We do well in whatever we do. And then, suddenly, the people who appeared to respect us, without any visible cause, start to criticise us; the next task in hand seems to be beyond us. We become depressed, which makes it worse. So the whole brightness and joy and happiness has disappeared, leaving us with things that appear perhaps worse than death itself.

On the other hand side, that depression and gloom that suddenly has come over our life and our mind, too does not last forever, but equally comes to an end with time. The sun rises again and what appeared like a permanent condition, has equally turned out to be just a shifting, changing thing, that lasted for some time and then died on its own accord.

As the reality of impermanence and destruction in material things and of material life gradually begin to dawn on consciousness; consciousness learns to disengage from material phenomena and begins to look for things which appear to be of a more lasting nature.

It aspires for lasting ideas, but recognises, that their lasting nature can not be appreciated unless, it acquires a footing on a more stable ground than sense-sphere phenomena. Consequently the mind places its attention on more peace giving objects and on the peace they give to it.

But as the peace that is based on peace giving objects also always fades again, and as the same object too gradually looses its power to give peace; sooner or later, the search for the lasting will have to be resumed…

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