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[ Dhamma Talk ]

Pajapati's Problem


As I hear it, what Castaneda's Don Juan has identified as the "inner dialogue" is, in the Pāḷi, what is known as vitakka. If we broaden our awareness to include the way the picturing-side-mind searches through the imagination, conjuring images and their emotions, we will have identified the second half of a pair of thought processes needed to be mastered to gain control of the mind. This second process is called vicara, meandering, searching, pondering, re-evaluating)[1].

There are numerous methods to deal with vitakka and vicara. The one most praised by the Buddha is to sit down after the mid-day meal and resolve not to get up again, (even though flesh rots off the bone), until complete freedom has been obtained.[2]

Another (at almost the opposite end of the spectrum of techniques — but the one in actual practice, if primarily unconsciously, by most human beings) is to consciously argue the case for each side of the dialogue according to the Hegelian scheme:

Thesis — Antithesis > Synthesis

[Previous] Synthesis = [New] Thesis

[New] Thesis >[Produces] [New] Antithesis ...

On this long and twisting road every ordinary form of madness will be encountered, and must be met as a crisis of faith: "Does this system (the Pāḷi) get me out of this one?"

Along the way, one encounters what I am calling here "Pajapati's Problem", the final, and most formidable obstacle to attaining the condition of Sotapatti.[3]

Pajapati's Problem

What is it the seeker is attempting to discover with his inquiries? Well, of course we know what it is on the one level: he is actually trying to answer the question "How can I optimize my situation here. Make everything all right. Make me feel good." But the Pāḷi suggests a deeper motive at the highest level. It is in the opposite direction. It is the question: "How can one bring the pain associated with "being" to an end?';

Pajapati's Problem is a problem that we all face, either as a stage in the development of our mental culture through meditation, drugs, or even deep philosophical inquiry, and, of course, in the madness known as 'paranoia', or at death. That problem is the conclusion one must reach when facing the observed data that although the world around us is perceived to be in continual change, we perceive an "our self" as a constant.

This observation of what appears to be a continuing self, in combination with a diṭṭhi (point of view) which goes "I am" and the nature of perception, which is such that we perceive consciousness and creation (the coming to be of a thing in our world) as simultaneous events — we do not see beyond our own perceptions to any "real" origin of the creation of a thing — leads to the inevitable conclusion that one is ["I" am] the Only One. Usually called "God."

In the Catholic Christian context this is called an Epiphany, or coming face-to-face with God, and the issues that come up are resolved [rather, put to the side] by way of the Mysteries of the Trinity.

The non-catholic and Hindu contexts are similar and somewhat different. Using the Hindu vocabulary, Pajāpati is the Hindu God of Creation. But Pajāpati is also the name of Mara, Death, or The Evil One, the Devil. Here today, (U.S.A. August 24, 1998), we do not have such instructive mythology. The idea is that the creator is also the destroyer.

The perceived problem at this point is that because one is the Only One, one is also this Destroyer; that one is, one's self alone, responsible for all the suffering in all the world. The alternative (one step up passed the initial awareness of the problem, but while still hanging on to the diṭṭhi "I am") is "existing" in a world consisting of the absolute non-existence of everything but the perception of self.

This is where Kamma gets its opportunity. And it is the recognition of or invention of the notion of kamma that is the solution in the Hindu context (there is no solution or even recognition of the problem in the non-Catholic Christian context). Ssomehow one must contrive to escape kamma. This is the issue of the day into which the Buddha was born and the problem which his system solves.

To Be or Not To Be; That is the Question.

If the individual has retained consciousness enough to observe the process after death, or if one is examining it during meditation, one might say, at this point that Pajapati's Problem was the dramatization of the process described by the paṭicca samuppāda. It is the experience of the process as acted out by personifications of the various forces at work in that formula. Kamma will look like a dialogue between "beings", (say between one's self and Yama, The Lord of Judgment).

When faced at death, the result of encountering this problem is usually instantaneous: The individual immediately opts for creating the world, (Downbound blindness as to the ultimate consequence, rebounds bound up in a personal world [Sankara]) and will submit to any condition it [The World, or from the Buddhist point of view, really one's kamma] may impose on him as a price for being made to exist. "OK, guy, I'll come play with you again, but this time you will be a cockroach in my apartment in New York, where I will watch as little m whacks you with her shoe." — Michael, The King of New York

What is at work is that one's memory of one's past deeds is being judged now by a self at the level of God. The reckoning is often a terrible one. It is the judgment of a god made in the image of one's own ignorant ideas of what such a god would be like and how he would deal with a transgressor such as oneself. The evil individual here, as in life, has a much harsher attitude than the man of understanding. At such a point, even minor faults can meet with terrible terrible punishments.

For the Pāḷi Buddhist, that is the real Dukkha.

That is what is called the Wheel of Samsara — the endless rising up to the point where one meets Pajapati's Problem and being thrown back in accordance with one's karma. The injustice of some punishments meted out by this god of wrath, is itself bad kamma and the cause of additional judgments and punishments in the future for one bound by diṭṭhi to this apparently endless cycle.

Such things as sickness, old age, and various grievous problems connected to living, while also being solved by the same method, and while not being minimized at all, are not really the problem here.

The Solution

Pajapati's Problem is solved by Sammā Diṭṭhi; the consummate thesis.[4]

This is the condition of the ordinary common man: that is that he is blown by every wind, back and forth, and up and down and round and round and round and round that wheel of saṃsara because he insists on having a viewpoint.

Stuck to the idea of an existing "I", one is stuck to the problem of being and not being. Sammā Diṭṭhi, by overcoming the need to have a viewpoint, gets past the problem of identifying the process as "one's own."

This is how it works:

This is what is meant by Sammā Diṭṭhi: Sammā, High or Consummate, is to signify that it is the best without signifying that it is the only valid viewpoint, or even that it is absolutely true or right.

The idea is that individuals caught in saṃsara are trapped by viewpoints, and that in order to escape these viewpoints it is necessary to go from the one being currently held as "True, or Right" to one that is above it, but which can itself be abandoned without difficulty. Going directly from holding views to holding no view is not possible. One needs a point of exit, a position (view) from which one is able to see that views are not necessary, only that can prevent one from slipping back into view unawares.

Sammā Diṭṭhi, when adopted as one's working hypothesis, keeps one focused on the real problem (which is as stated above, not the problem of existence, but the problem of pain, dukkha) by continuously pointing to the answer: Dukkha is the problem. The cause of dukkha is desire. Go this way to bring desire to an end and that will bring the pain to an end. When you see how pain is brought to an end you will see that it was holding an erroneous idea regarding existence that was the source of the problem of existence you thought was so important in the first place. By letting that go, Pajapati's problem is solved.

This is The Way

In the examination of one's dialogue, the seeker should keep two things in mind: The goal is not an answer that will make everything here ok; and the form of one's inquiry should take the structure:

This Being,
That Becomes,
From the Ending of This,
The ending of That.

Without what would there be no Dukkha?
Without Birth in any sphere of being there would be no Dukkha.

Pāḷi [The language] is crystal clear on the matter:

The word "Dukkha" is made up from all kinds of sounds meaning shit: Do-do, Uk, K-Kha.

Tanha, hunger and thirst, as the cause of shit, is irrefutable. Think about this once a day when you are on the can. Another way of stating the first part of High View is: "You gotta know your shit!"

And bringing hunger and thirst to an end can be demonstrated to bring shit to an end. Try it.




Sammā Diṭṭhi is the view that all this [that is whatsoever there is that has come to be — reference any one of the ten lessons in The Pāḷi Line as a way of conceptualizing "All there is"] is Dukkha: ugly, ukky, painful, k-kha.

It is the view that that Dukkha has its origin in Taṇhā or hunger/thirst ... we say desire.

It is the view that to bring that Dukkha to an end it is necessary to stop its development from Tanha.

And it is the view that this is the way: High Views; High Principles, High Talk, High Works, High Lifestyle, High Self-Control, High Mind, High Getting High, High Vision, and High Objective Detachment.

High Principles: The view dictates the principles: If it is all k-kha, then one's first principle would naturally be to dump it. Renunciation is the first principle. The other two are also natural consequences of high view: do no mental harm and do no physical harm. Both follow from the idea that to do either is involvement, and involvement is involvement with k-kha.

High Talk: Begins the process of identifying areas where involvement occurs. In the Pāḷi, talk is second to the imagination. High talk is the talk that results when one eliminates the kind of talk that is symptomatic of involvement: No lies, no slander, no abusive or idle talk.

High Works: High works are works done after excluding all lies, theft, harm, and carelessness, being especially careful not to break one's morality when under the influence of lust.

High Lifestyle: The lifestyle that results when one examines one's lifestyle and does one's best at all times to eliminate what one understands for one's self is a low element of one's lifestyle.

High Self Control: Put forth energetic effort to:

Abstain from low conditions not yet in the here and now.
Restrain low conditions in the here and now.
Retain high conditions in the here and now.
Obtain high conditions not yet in the here and now.

High Satisfying [Memory/Mental] Pastures: (Or the Preparation [paṭṭhana] of the Mind [sati] for its new way of viewing the world as "not me", "not mine", "not a part of me", "not a product of mine".) It is the gathering into conscious awareness the idea that bodies, sensations, "heart" or mental states, and the Dhamma are all temporary phenomena, connected to pain, with such penetrating knowledge that we release (release is part of the process of sati-paṭṭhana) our hopes and disappointments and rise up, bound up to nothing at all in the world.

High Getting High: Samādhi. There are four stages to this. They are called "jhānas" meaning "knowing" or "seeing with the mind" or "burning or shining with knowledge." Jhāna is the word from which we get "knowledge", "gnosis"; — "Chan" in Chinese, and "Zen" in Japanese.

The term 'samādhi,' often translated 'concentration' includes concentrating, but even there would be beter thought of as having 'focus'. The idea is of being serenely above it all. One concentrates to bring into focus and then one no longer concentrates, but is concentrated on what one has brought into focus. The term 'samadhi' includes the totality of the training, and the burnings are only the culminating experience.

The First Burning begins with a simple appreciation of Solitude. (It gets much deeper, but always has the character of appreciating solitude.) In this stage, there is still awareness of the inner dialogue and imaginative examination or thinking.

The Second Burning is the stage after vitakka and vicara have been successfully overcome. It is what many have experienced when concentrating on an enjoyable task at the point where the process seems to go on of its own. This stage is characterized by the peace and calm of getting high itself.

The Third Burning is the stage after the thrill of the experience of the second stage has been overcome. It is characterized by a profound sense of ease.

The Fourth Burning. After ease itself has been let go of, and all connection to either pain or sorrows connected to the world are let go. This is a state of profound objective detachment. This burning is the stepping stone to three stages of very high accomplishment: Magic Powers, Realms of Pure Consciousness unconnected to materiality, and Final Knowledge.

The Jhanas are mental states ranked in order from most-attached to least attached, and are tools to be used in attaining detachment. If one understands the process after the first jhāna, that is sufficient. The consummate Samādhi is the entering into and abiding in one or another of three states: Emptiness, Pointlessness, or Signlessness. That is: Empty of Lust, Anger, and Blindness; not aimed at (pointing to) Lust, Anger, or Blindness; without signs of Lust, Anger, or Blindness.

High Vision: Whereas High Diṭṭhi is a theoretical stance taken intellectually, a scaffolding from which we build our means of exit from views Sammā Vijja, High Vision, is the actual seeing for one's self the truth of that view, which is seeing the mechanism of action of kamma, or paṭicca samuppāda:

Downbound Confounded Rebounding Conjuration

Downbound Blindness (avijja: remember, blindness is blindness of this mechanism, or stated in other terms, the Four Truths) Rebounds Bound up in Confounding a personal world (saṇkhāra. The making of one's own world by identification with the intent connected with acts of mind, speech, and body, that is, kamma.)

Downbound Confounding Rebounds Bound up in Consciousness (viññāṇā: Double Knowing Knowing; the knowing of knowing.

Downbound Consciousness Rebounds Bound up in Named/Form (nāma/rūpa: name and form. The material that together with consciousness goes into the make-up, both mental and material, of the individual and his world.

Downbound named form Rebounds Bound up in Consciousness (This step is not always included — in fact the entire structure is quite flexible — in this construction the previous consciousness is the consciousness of a personal world created by previous acts but it is not yet that consciousness experienced as an individual — this consciousness (this second iteration) is that of the way the world that has been created works: the consciousness of the consciousness of the eye seeing visible objects, etc.) (In the Mahā Nidana Sutta the double-occurrence of consciousness is given and explained as the point where the limit of individuality can be observed; that is that the first instance of consciousness is aware, so to speak, of the individualized world "there" where the second instance is the consciousness being experienced by the individual from within. The is the Buddhist way of describing comin into existence. It would be just before this second consciousness that Pajapati's problem would be broken by the individual conscious of Sammā Diṭṭhi: the next step would just not be taken.

Downbound Consciousness Rebounds Bound up in The Six-Fold Sense Realm (sal'ayatana: The eye and sights, ear and sounds, nose and scents, tongue and tastes, body and touches, mind and ideas).

Downbound, The Six-Fold Sense Realm Rebounds Bound up in Contact (phassa: touch)

Downbound Contact Rebounds Bound up in Sense Experience (vedana: pleasant, unpleasant, or not-unpleasant-but-not-pleasant sensations arising from contact with the senses).

Downbound Sense Experience Rebounds Bound up in Hunger/Thirst (taṇhā)

Downbound Hunger/Thirst Rebounds Bound up Bound up (upadāna)(In terms of the way thepaṭicca samuppādais presented in the Mahā Nidana Sutta, as discussed above (under consciousness the not-doing, the not "getting bound up" or as I often translate it the not "going after getting" or engaging in upkeep of things in the current personal world that are breaking up and breaking down, at this point would be where one would begin the process of breaking the chain, but would not necessarily either require, or result in the insight necessary to free one's self from the process. Like the drug addict who resolves to forego the next fix; he might see the benefit, he might not.)

Downbound Bound up, Rebounds Bound up Living (bhava, a [form of] living, being, existing, some sort of being in some place of being)

Downbound Living Rebounds Bound up in Birth (jati: born this: that is as some sort of being in some place of being)(first there is the form or type and place of being, then there is being born in that form and type; it's like the difference between having a dream of some wonderful world and finding one's self born there.)

Downbound Birth Rebounds Bound Up in jara-marana.

Aging, Sickness and Death
Grief and Lamentation
Pain and Misery, and

High Objective Detachment High Upekkhā: Seeing with High Vision, one is disgusted with all that which has come to be. Disgusted [meaning not that one 'dislikes', but that one has no 'taste for'] one is detached.

Detached one is free.

In freedom,
seeing freedom as freedom,
one knows
"this is freedom!"
and knows

"Left behind is being reborn.

Lived is the best of lives!

Done is duty's doing.

No hither,
no further,
no more being any sort of "it" at any place of "at-ness" for me!


Most of this is not in any book on Buddhism you will read. This is one reason some systems say one must have a guru to get anywhere. But portions of it can be found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the Zen Koan is an attempt to force the mind up to the point of seeing from this point of view (If God is all, then the sound of two hands clapping is the sound of one hand clapping ... get it? You would if you were God.)

Now think about what the whole thing implies.

Imagine some person here complaining about his or her circumstances [or name, suchas 'beggar']. Or imagine some person here boasting and bragging or taking delight in some insignificant accomplishment. Then place that person in the context of the large picture.

What is happening in sucha case if it is not that God himself is complaining or boasting? Is that not an absurd proposition?

Imagine the reaction when one comes face-to-face with such behavior when one is confronted with the certainty that one is one's self that God?

That is why the emphasis is not placed on the ordinary pains and disagreeable states of life.

And this is the reason that a very, very low profile is adopted by the Bhikkhus, and is recommended to everyone.

Imagine how stupid one would look and feel if one were a Bhikkhu who, while being ignorant of the deeper picture, was nevertheless able to work certain psychic wonders, and who then was brought to the level of Pajāpati, or to the brink of being Sotapatti? (O, Yeah, great, so God can walk on water, so what!) It could well throw him off the track. Very dangerous.

Thus this dialogue that is spoken of as going on within can be seen to be the echo of the dialogue that goes on between the ordinary man in his ordinary state and the ordinary man as God.

The Buddhist position is not that such does not exist, it is that it is not conducive to a solution to engage in the dialogue.

Stand aside.

Say [even out loud] "This is not "my" dialogue; this is merely the suffering that results (the dukkha) from not having a solution to Pajāpati's problem: the solution is to end the desire that results in such a dilemma.

What is that? The desire to be; the desire to escape being the only one, the desire to escape the problem without finding a solution to it by indulging in the pleasures of the senses.


[1] This is one interpretation. Further research into the terms Vitakka and Vicara indicates that there is not likely any difference in the two terms; they both just come down to "thinking."

[2] See: Resolve

[3] Here I distinguish between the Streamwinner by faith or momentum, and the one that has actually attained the Dhamma-cakkhu, The Eye of Dhamma, the clear understanding that all that which has been confounded comes to an end.

[4] Sammā = summit, summa, sum, consummate, the highest; diṭṭhi = thesis, view, hypothesis.

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