Truth about Avijja

Written by Bhikkhu Kovido

The truth about Avijja (not-knowing)

We have all heard that in Theravada teachings Avijja and the 3 cravings (cravings for pleasure, cravings to be and not-to be) are the roots to problems. We also heard that Avijja is the creator of our cosmos, but, yet though we recognized the 3 cravings in us, we have no inklings to this Avijja, to its influence, to its power.

Until we reach the end, which is vijja (knowing), avijja is constantly spinning its influence and power.

In its coarse form, which we can see in coarse people, it manifests itself in its crude form of being nosy, in eavesdropping, in being intrusive, and finer forms in being inquisitive and curious.

Now in some people this drive of craving to know, the active manifestation of avijja, can be so strong that we cannot sleep or eat properly until we know the answer.

It drives all professions from mathematicians, physicist, philosophers, chemist, biologist and creates so many scientific disciplines each simply to investigate a simple “question”, to which we “need to know” the answer. The beginning, formation of the universe.. etc.

From the time we are born to perceive with our six senses the external and our internal world, we do not cease to ask: “what is it? what is it for? “

Our craving to know stems from a citta of avijja. Once we know an object internally (only internally by creating a mental identikit of it and projecting it out), our craving for pleasure takes over to play with it and enjoy or hate it.

In its finest form, at the stage of an Anagami, when craving for worldly pleasures had been eradicated, when craving to be and not to be had been eradicated, we come face to face with this simple craving to know as the active manifestation of avijja. When vijja (knowing) is reached, the cause for this craving to know disappears with it, according to the nature of the knowing (vijja) citta.

Avijja paccaya Sankhara – Not-knowing as a root, is the cause for mental volitions, formations, disposition, namely the 3 cravings and craving to know, which is an active manifestation of avija.

Avijja.. nirodha sangkhara nirodho – With the cessation of not-knowing the “craving to know” ceased.