Why is there ignorance? Why are we here?

As a beginner to Buddhism, many things confuse me of course, but one I have not found any explanation to in my readings so far is an answer to WHY there is ignorance. I get that ignorance keeps us in samsara. And I get that ignorance has not been around since eternity according to what I have read, but rather that it’s inconceivable or even not worth pondering. But I have not seen an explanation to the big why. Why did some… thing…become ignorant? Why all of this that we experience? Perhaps it is just metaphysical enquires that the Buddha would have thought of as unnecessary, and hence has not answered, since he seemed more inclined to eradicate suffering rather than explaining the why of everything. But even so, maybe he has given an explanation?



@guldfiskreborn I remember there is a sūtta (SuttaCentral) that explains fetter is a condition for ignorance and then ignorance in its turn a condition for fetter so there is no beginning of ignorance (a viscous cycle).

On the other hand, I found the following suttas might help you to understand more:


Looking at it by another angle, by logic reasoning, ignorance has the meaning of “don’t know”. When you ask yourself “why ignorance” that means “why don’t know”, simple answer is “if you have already known it, you are not here to even ask that question”. Just a lousy reasoning from my part, please don’t mind it. :smiley:


“Why don’t know”. That made me laugh.

Well I’m probably like that monk who threatened to leave the Sangha if Buddha didn’t answer his metaphysical questions, on which he replied that he was like a man struck with an arrow, refusing help from a surgeon until he knew everything about the arrow, bow and who shot it.

Your way of answering made me realize it is sort of a silly question. Thanks a lot! :grinning:


2500 years before scientists discovered Evolution and hit a road block on the ‘hard’ problem of just how Consciousness occurs based on an arrangement of neurons, the Buddha had already answered.

Form is like a lump of foam;
feeling is like a bubble;
perception seems like a mirage;
choices like a banana tree;
and consciousness like a magic trick:
so taught the Kinsman of the Sun.

This is what ‘we’ are unaware of. There is actually no ‘we’ - only interdependent processes which arise and cease according to causes and conditions, and for which no first point can be found either. Everything else is just Construct based on Craving…Viz Suffering.

This consciousness turns back from name and form, and doesn’t go beyond that. This is the extent to which one may be reborn, grow old, die, pass away, or reappear. That is: name and form are conditions for consciousness. Consciousness is a condition for name and form.

P.S. All opinion! At this point, the Zen master will usually administer the student a sound ‘twack’ with his stick… :grimacing: :rofl:


Great answer! Thanks a lot! You and the former replier in this thread has given me much to chew on. I keep reading the replies over and over :sweat_smile:

It’s so refreshing for the mind, learning about Buddhism. I keep reading suttas and, while they sometimes seem simple, they at the same time don’t! At first I did not like them, compared to contemporary books on Buddhism who sort of condense it for you. Which has it’s use of course, but still, reading the suttas slowly and pondering it, reading some commentary on it etc. You get it straight from the horse’s mouth with them :grinning: