“Monks, this samsara [cyclic existence] is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not discerned of beings roaming and wandering about hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“There comes a time, monks, when the great ocean dries up and evaporates and no longer exists, but still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering about hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“There comes a time, monks, when Sineru, the king of mountains, burns up and perishes and no longer exists, but still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“There comes a time, monks, when the great earth burns up and perishes and no longer exists, but still, I say, there is no making an end of suffering for those beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

“Suppose, monks, a dog tied up on a leash was bound to a strong post or pillar: it would just keep on running and revolving around that same post or pillar. So too, the uninstructed worldling regards form as self … feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self …. He just keeps running and revolving around form, around feeling, around perception, around volitional formations, around consciousness. As he keeps on running and revolving around them, he is not freed from form, not freed from feeling, not freed from perception, not freed from volitional formations, not freed from consciousness. He is not freed from birth, aging, and death; not freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair; not freed from suffering, I say.”

—The Buddha

Samyutta Nikaya, 22:99; II 149–50, translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi, excerpted from In the Buddha’s Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi © 2005 published by Wisdom Publications

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