DB Samsara and Nirvana Homework Due April 17

Discussion Topic for April 17 class:  Second Noble Truth — Origin of Suffering, karma, ignorance, afflictive emotions.

Homework: Please explain the following verses based on our discussion of the Six  Sufferings and Three Sufferings and the generation of renunciation:

The pain of walking, one sees,
Decreases when doing the opposite.
Thus the intelligent generate
The intention to end all action. (v. 159)

The wise feel the same fear for even
A high rebirth as for the hells,
It is rare indeed for a worldly state
Not to produce fear in them. (v. 164)

If childish people ever perceived
The suffering of cyclic existence,
At that moment both their mind
[And body] would completely fail. (v. 164)

~ Aryadeva Four Hundred Stanzas on the Middle Way

Meditation suggestion: meditate on examples from your own life for each of the Six sufferings and Three sufferings. Then think of how someone you dislike experiences the same suffering. See if you can generate compassion for them based on your understanding of emptiness, karma and delusion.


4 thoughts on “DB Samsara and Nirvana Homework Due April 17

  1. Dear Ven Tendrol,

    I am posting my homework. Is this the right thing to do, or should I just bring my homework to class in future to discuss it? (I don’t want you to have to spend more time than you have to reading so many things).

    My thoughts about the 3 verses are as follows. I hope they are correct

    1st verse. By not engaging in nonvirtuous actions, we can stop the painful effects of karma.

    2nd. Even in high rebirths because of past good karma, there is imminent danger of falling back to lower realms when that good karma is exhausted. The fact that we are still in samsara means that we haven’t freed ourselves from delusions hence we will definitely fall down again. In fact higher rebirths could be dangerous because we might enjoy it so much that we would forget to practice dharma, ensuring that our good karma would be exhausted and we would later fall.

    3rd. “Childish people” such as us have avoided facing the sufferings and delusions that plague us. Therefore we are totally unprepared for what will come. If we are unprepared and also completely untrained to handle the difficulties that will definitely come, those tremendous sufferings will overwhelm us.


    • Hi Marc, thanks for your sharing your thoughts! If you have time, you might want to take this one step further and determine which of the Six Sufferings or Three Sufferings each verse is an example of. For example. the first verse represents the Suffering of Suffering (physical pain endured when walking) as well as the Suffering of Change (first you’re happy walking, then it’s painful so you sit down and then that get’s uncomfortable etc). From the perspective of the Six Sufferings, the first verse is an example of….etc.

      This is not just an academic exercise but an attempt to help us enumerate the complexities of samsara.

  2. v. 159:

    I think this verse shows the realization that one strongly desires to end the cycle of samsaric suffering. The intelligent understand that there is nothing stable about cyclic existence. They see that alternating between walking and sitting is only a comparable change in discomfort. There is no lasting pleasure to be had in either one. (#1 and #2 of the three sufferings: Suffering of suffering which in this verse becomes suffering of change).

    v. 164:

    The wise understand that no matter how rich or poor they become, their karma will eventually exhaust itself and they will continually fluctuate from high to low rebirths until they break free from samara’s grip and become liberated. (#5 of the six sufferings, going from high to low states).

    v. 164 (part 2):

    If childish people understood the true nature of samsara as impermanent and empty of reality, they would be overwhelmed due to their ignorance. I think it would be similar to a healthy and vibrant young person experiencing the suffering of old age overnight. It would more than likely kill them. (#4 of the six sufferings, having to take rebirth again and again).

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