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Jun 12th
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Home Teachings The Five Aggregates The Burden of the Five Aggregates - Throw Down the Burden

The Burden of the Five Aggregates - Throw Down the Burden

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Article Index
The Burden of the Five Aggregates
Upadana - Clingings
Carrying the Burden
Who Carries the Burden
Individual and Khanda
Purity of Gifts
Short Summary
Cause of Burden
Craving for Sensual Pleasures
Craving for Existence
Craving for Non-Existence
Throw Down the Burden
All Pages

Throw Down the Burden

Let me say again what has been put forward earlier.

What is the heavy burden? The five aggregates are the heavy burden.

Who carries the heavy burden? The individual made up of the five aggregates carries the heavy burden.

Who accepts the heavy burden for transportation? Craving accepts the heavy burden for transportation.


Now I shall come to the subject of how to throw down this heavy burden, which is the most important part of this discourse. Regarding throwing down the burden, the Buddha said,

"O bhikkhus! What does throwing down the burden mean? It means completely annihilating, renouncing, abandoning, releasing, and disengaging desire."

As soon as craving is rejected, the burden will fall off one's shoulders. The rejection can be done through the application of knowledge relating to insight-meditation and to realize the Noble Path. Craving will recede from such knowledge as darkness extinguished, and there will be no cause for the aggregates to arise. Arahatta-magga, the Path of the Worthy Ones, brings about the complete annihilation of all forms of cravings. At the stage of anagami-magga, the Path of the Never-Returner, all cravings for sensual pleasures of lust (Kamaraga) is extinguished.

Because of the absence of that kind of craving, an anagami is released from kamma-bhava, active process of becoming, and so he will not be reborn either as a human being or a divinity to shoulder the burden of the five aggregates of man or deva. Sakadagami-magga, the Path of the Once-returner, can also exterminate lust completely. So he can also throw down the burden finally after two existences.

At the stage of sotapatti-magga, the Path of the Stream-winner, self- illusion and doubt become extinguished. These two fetters are much the same as craving. Once these fetters are removed there will be no opportunity for the aggregates of the netherworld to arise, so a sotapanna will never suffer in hell. He is prepared to throw down the burden after seven existences.

In order to illustrate the advantages gained by a sotapanna who can avoid suffering born out of the five aggregates, the Buddha employed the metaphor of sand. He collected a quantity of sand and placed on his fingernail, and showed it to the monks, asking:, "Which is greater in quantity .... sands in my finger-nail or sands of the earth?" On being replied by the monks that the sands in his fingernail are infinitesimal compared to the sands of this earth, he admonished the monks that the suffering arising out of "becoming" before a meditator attains the state of sotapanna is uncountable like sands of the earth, and after the attainment of the Path and its fruition, the suffering that would remain for his last seven existences would be infinitesimal compared to what he had encountered before. He, therefore, urged his disciples to strive for the inward realization of the Four Noble Truths.

"If craving is uprooted, desire will be eliminated. When one throws down the old burden, no new burden can be imposed on him. Then nibbanic peace will be achieved."

When craving, together with delusion, is eliminated, desire will completely disappear. When the old body is rejected, the burden of carrying a new body will be removed. Then miseries cease, and peace is established.


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