The Urban Dharma Newsletter - April 8, 2008
In This Issue: Paticca Samuppada, "The heart of Buddhism."
1. Dependent origination - From Wikipedia
2. Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta / Analysis of Dependent Co-arising
3. AN INTRODUCTION TO PATICCA SAMUPPADA (DEPENDENT CO-ORIGINATION - by Jonathan Watts
Been busy adding new stuff to Urban Dharma...
I bought a new domain name - www.DharmaTube.org - And will be adding Dharma Related Videos... Have posted the first few, and more will be posted in the near future... New Project - I plan on doing a series of 5 min. video Dharma talks on basic Buddhism and self film as I walk around Los Angeles... They will end up on DharmaTube.org... Hope to have the first few videos posted soon... And, should have a new podcast or two posted soon on iTunes as well...
Urban Dharma, I've added --
Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation - Gil Fronsdal
"Several times a year Gil Fronsdal offers a 5-week instructional series for beginning meditators. These classes provide a good overview of insight meditation practice as well as many guided meditation sessions which help the student learn how to establish and sustain a daily meditation practice. The "Intro to Mindfulness Meditation" web page includes audio files in MP3 from each class and class handouts with home work assignments in PDF."
Paths to Perfection: Contemplative Practices in Christianity & Buddhism / B. Alan Wallace / Recorded at Unity Church, Santa Barbara, CA, March 12, 2008
Jesus counseled his followers to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect, and for centuries, mystical union with Godunderstood as perfect love and omniscient wisdomwas the ideal of Christian contemplatives. Buddha counseled his followers to realize perfect freedom from suffering by irreversibly dispelling all the afflictions and obscurations of the mind. The ideals of personal liberation and perfect enlightenment have been pursued by Buddhist contemplatives over the past 2,500 years.
While these two contemplative traditions appear to have had little contact throughout their long histories, they did exhibit remarkable parallels as well as differences. Ideals of perfection and the means to realize it will be explored in this lecture, with the hope that the vitality of both the Christian and Buddhist contemplative traditions may be revitalized in the modern era, which could so deeply benefit from their insights and wisdom.
THE CONSCIOUS UNIVERSE - The Conscious Universe: Where Buddhism and Physics Converge / B. Alan Wallace / Recorded at Unity Church, Santa Barbara, CA , Jan. 16, 2008
Physicists have long assumed that the universe is fundamentally composed of matter and energy and that life and consciousness are accidental byproducts of configurations of matter. But a growing number of distinguished physicists are now suggesting that consciousness may play a much more fundamental role in nature than scientists previously believed.
In this lecture Alan Wallace will review some of the most provocative theories presented by such leading physicists as John Wheeler, Stephen Hawking, and Andre Linde that challenge many of the materialist assumptions based on outdated 19th-century physics. And he will discuss how these theories may relate to Buddhist theories and practices, including those of the Theravada, Mahayana, and Dzogchen traditions.
Stroke of Insight / Jill Bolte Taylor
Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story of recovery and awareness -- of how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another. (Video recorded February 2008 in Monterey, California. Duration: 18:44.)
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1. Dependent origination - From Wikipedia
The enlightenment (Bodhi) of the Buddha Gautama was simultaneously his liberation from suffering (dukkha) and his insight into the nature of the universe particularly the nature of the lives of sentient beings (principally humans and animals). What the Buddha awakened to (Bodhi means "to awaken") was the truth of dependent origination.
This is the understanding that any phenomenon exists only because of the existence of other phenomena in an incredibly complex web of cause and effect covering time past, time present and time future. This concept of a web is symbolized by Indra's net, a multidimensional spider's web on which lies an infinite amount of dew drops or jewels, and in these are reflected the reflections of all the other drops of dew ad infinitum.
Stated in another way, everything depends on everything else. For example, a human being's existence in any given moment is dependent on the condition of everything else in the world (and indeed the universe) at that moment but, conversely, the condition of everything in the world in that moment depend in an equally significant way on the character and condition of that human being. Everything in the universe is interconnected through the web of cause and effect so that the whole and the parts are mutually interdependent. The character and condition of entities at any given time are intimately connected with the character and condition of all other entities that superficially may appear to be unconnected or unrelated.
Because all things are thus conditioned and transient (anicca), they have no real independent identity (anatta) so do not truly exist, though to ordinary minds this appears to be the case. All phenomena are therefore fundamentally insubstantial and empty (sunya).
Wise human beings, who see things as they are (yatha-bhuta-ñana-dassana), renounce attachment and clinging, transform the energy of desire into awareness and understanding, and eventually transcend the conditioned realm of form becoming Buddhas or Arhats.
2. Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta / Analysis of Dependent Co-arising
Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Source: Transcribed from a file provided by the translator.
Copyright © 1997 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Access to Insight edition © 1997
For free distribution.
Dwelling at Savatthi... "Monks, I will describe & analyze dependent co-arising for you.
"And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.
"Now what is aging and death? Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging. Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death.
"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.
"And what is becoming? These three are becomings: sensual becoming, form becoming, & formless becoming. This is called becoming.
"And what is clinging/sustenance? These four are clingings: sensuality clinging, view clinging, precept & practice clinging, and doctrine of self clinging. This is called clinging.
"And what is craving? These six are classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving for smells, craving for tastes, craving for tactile sensations, craving for ideas. This is called craving.
"And what is feeling? These six are classes of feeling: feeling born from eye-contact, feeling born from ear-contact, feeling born from nose-contact, feeling born from tongue-contact, feeling born from body-contact, feeling born from intellect-contact. This is called feeling.
"And what is contact? These six are classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, intellect-contact. This is called contact.
"And what are the six sense media? These six are sense media: the eye-medium, the ear-medium, the nose-medium, the tongue-medium, the body-medium, the intellect-medium. These are called the six sense media.
"And what is name-&-form? Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are called name-&-form.
"And what is consciousness? These six are classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.
"And what are fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.
"And what is ignorance? Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.
"Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."
3. AN INTRODUCTION TO PATICCA SAMUPPADA (DEPENDENT CO-ORIGINATION - by Jonathan Watts / Think Sangha Coordinator
The Second Noble Truth is to discover the causes of the problem. Paticca samuppada as the detailed system for the looking at the arising of Craving (tanha) and Dukkha (dissatisfaction, suffering, difficulty) provides the specific tool for applying this Second Noble Truth. Examining consumerism through paticca samuppada will help us to see how we move through the structural forms of consumer delusion. Gaining a clear understanding of this process moves us further along towards the Third and Fourth Noble Truths of the ending of Dukkha, and specifically towards Right View, the first practice of the Noble Eightfold Path in the Fourth Noble Truth.
Paticca samuppada has been called "the heart or the essence of Buddhism"1 for its penetration of the workings of our human condition of Dukkha. Indeed, the Buddha said,"Whoever sees dependent co-origination sees the Dhamma; and whoever sees the Dhamma sees dependent co-origination."2 During the final night of contemplation at the end of which the Buddha attained awakening, his contemplation and subsequent penetration of paticca samuppada was the cornerstone of this awakening.3 Yet at the same time, it is a teaching that the Buddha hesitated to teach due to its profundity and fear that few would understand it.4 When one of his closest disciples Ananda commented that "it appears to me as clear as clear!", the Buddha admonished him,"Do not say that! Paticca samuppada is profound and appears profound. It is through not understanding, not penetrating this doctrine that this generation has become like a tangled ball of string, covered as with a blight, tangled like coarse grass, unable to pass beyond states of woe, the ill destiny, ruin and the round of birth-and-death."5 Yet abiding in compassion, the Buddha reconsidered,"It would be troublesome [if] I did not speak the Dhamma [of dependent co-origination] subtle and sublime."6 Thus, the Buddha taught paticca samuppada as a more detailed version if his Second Noble Truth, the cause of Dukkha.7
Simply, paticca samuppada is a natural system of the way suffering and delusion rise in the human being which the Buddha uncovered in his contemplations and observations of the ways things work. The system marks out 12 important movements in the rising of the suffering prone ego or "self". We first begin in a state of unknowing about certain aspects of reality, most fundamentally the natural truths of Impermanence (anicca), Dukkha, and Not-self (anatta). This Ignorance then forms the basis of the ways we view ourselves and the world. These views then determine the way we interact with the world giving rise to values, beliefs, personalities, and a whole host of aspects that make up our identity. When these aspects of our "self", built on Ignorance, come in contact with the natural law of Impermanence (annica) in Aging & Dying (jaramarana), there arise conflicts which express themselves in all the types of difficulties or Dukkha we experience as humans.
A number of different ways of interpreting and going into paticca samuppada in detail can be used. The traditional method has understood the 12 links cosmically over the transmigration of three lifetimes: past, present and future. Other methods include understanding the system within the split second of a mental moment. In order to use it as a tool for better understanding in our daily lives here and now and the consumer societies we live in, it is perhaps best to look at the system within observable moments in our mental process. Once we gain such a basic awareness and begin to practice in the very real world of our present mind and body, it will become easier to extend an understanding towards larger emotional and mental movements which take place over days, weeks, months and even years. In this way, we can perhaps use paticca samuppada in the way the Buddha meant, as a practical tool for understanding ourselves and making our way on the path to liberation.
Finally, it is essential to stress the dynamic, non-linear nature of paticca samuppada. As we will see in this investigation, our minds tend to objectify processes as static containers which interact in a linear causality. In coming to grips with paticca samuppada, we will encounter the natural truths of Impermanence, Dukkha and Not-self which when properly understood release the mind from objectifications and allow it to see reality as a dynamic and fluid series of causes and conditions. The 12 links of paticca samuppada thus should be seen as markers in a flowing river. The river is not contained within these 12 markers but it's essential points are designated. Detaching from a strict linear sense of 12 linked factors, we need to envision a causality which includes not only this linear progression but an interpenetration of all twelve points.8 This understanding does not espouse a random universe, but it does challenge linear causalities which create the duality of subject-object or observer-observed.
THE 12 LINK PROCESS OF PATICCA SAMUPPADA
1. IGNORANCE (avijja)
2. CONCOCTING (sankhara)
3. CONSCIOUSNESS (vinnana)
4. MIND-BODY (namarupa)
5. SENSE EXPERIENCE (salayatana)
6. FULL CONTACT (phassa)
7. FEELING (vedana)
8. CRAVING (tanha)
9. CLINGING (upadana)
10. EXISTENCE (bhava)
11. BIRTH (jati)
12. AGING & DYING (jaramarana)
1. IGNORANCE (avijja)
This is considered the starting point of the 12 link chain since Ignorance is the most fundamental cause which conditions human suffering. It must be stressed, however, that even Ignorance cannot be considered an original cause, but rather it is brought about by the interplay of all 12 links. As noted, the non-linear interpenetration of the links makes it so that there is no ultimate beginning nor end in the cycle. It can be entered at any one of the 12 links as witnessed by the Buddha's varied renditions. For convenience purposes then, we begin here.
Simply, Ignorance is the lack of knowledge and understanding about the true reality of things. Such a basic misunderstanding is the foundation for all other types of Ignorance. Therefore, any particular problem or type of suffering can be traced back through the 12 links to its own particular form of Ignorance, which is always based on this original Ignorance. Some of the fundamental forms of Ignorance can be understood as:
* In strict Buddhist terms, Ignorance of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths or Ignorance of the fundamental truths of reality: Impermanence (anicca), Dukkha, Not-self (anatta). This kind of Ignorance is related to the false belief in "self" and in propositions about the "self", death and afterlife.
* Ignorance is the attachment to erroneous world views, two of the most principle being belief that things are separate, fixed, enduring, (atthikavada) OR completely lacking any reality.9
* In more psychological terms, Ignorance is confused thinking based on conjecture and imagination, and conditioned by beliefs, fear, and accumulated character traits.10
2. CONCOCTING11 (sankhara)
3. CONSCIOUSNESS (vinnana)
4. MIND-BODY (namarupa)
5. SENSE EXPERIENCE (salayatana)
The next four links in the system are commonly considered to operate at the subconscious level. As such they involve a very in depth, experiential consideration much of which requires meditative insight. Most of us have not established a practice deep enough to fully come to grips with this area. Therefore, we will look at these links as a single group of mostly subconscious mental experience. In this way, we may best incorporate them into a meaningful practice of paticca samuppada which remains clear and practical. As our practice develops, we should be encouraged to slowly delve into each of these links for deeper understanding.
Concocting (sankhara) is conditioned by Ignorance and is best understood as a dynamic process of mental stewing which comes from the misconceptions of Ignorance. Sankhara is the basic concocting power of the mind and begins the act of conceptualizing, turning processes into things. This act conditions Consciousness which emerges from the establishment of an object or "perch" (arammana) for the concocting power of the mind to hold onto. With the establishment of such a "perch", the latent duality which arose in the conceptualizing of phenomena at Sankhara becomes a little sharper. Concocting (Sankhara) has now formed a concocted object to contemplate. Mind/Body is subsequently conditioned. This is where Consciousness bifurcates into the clear duality of mind and form. With the five basic aggregates (khandhas ) of form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness now fully present, we can say there is a functioning being which will come to have Sense Experience (salayatana).12 Since this level of the mind is not ordinarily experienceable, we cannot begin to call this being an "I". However, this is where mental reality begins to break into conceptions of "self" and other, this and that. There is a growing awareness of the mind as a fundamental reference point or subject which is using the senses to experience various referents or objects.13 Sense Experience (tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing, feeling, and mental experiencing) are conditioned by Mind/Body. In understanding Sense Experience, we must not simply consider these six bases as the actual bodily and mental forms, but rather as the dynamic interplay between the person who senses and the object which is sensed.14
6. FULL CONTACT (phassa)
This mass of Mental Stewing will condition Full Contact which begins what is generally a more conscious and directly observable concocting. As such, it also becomes one of the best places to apply mindful awareness (sati) to short circuit the chain reaction leading to Dukkha. We use the word "full" here to indicate that contact must have meaning in order for it to become Full Contact. If some form comes into contact with our senses but our mind does not concoct Craving (tanha) and onto Birth (jati), we call this Mere Contact. Yet when some form comes into contact with our senses and our mind concocts Craving (tanha) on into Birth of self (jati), then we consider this Full Contact.15 Within a multi-media experience, certain senses may go through a process of Full Contact while others may stop at Mere Contact. Concocted from Ignorance, Full Contact will involve the basic mis-perceptions (sanna) of permanence (nicca), pleasure (sukha), and "self" (atta).
7. FEELING (vedana)
Feeling is conditioned by Full Contact. Feeling is broken down into three basic types: pleasant, painful and neither-pleasant-nor-painful. The first two Feelings obviously lead the mind towards greed (a pulling inward) and anger (a pushing outward). The third leads the mind towards delusion in which the mind wobbles and moves in uncertain direction. This delusion may move the mind towards positive ego states (jati) which alleviate uncertainty, boredom or fear. Yet the very state of delusion in itself can offer a comfortable, false trasncendent feeling from the tension of positive and negative feeling. In this process of concocting Feeling, more detailed perceptions (sanna) of color, taste, sound, etc. arise as the mind begins to label and categorize experience. As with Full Contact, Feeling offers an opportune place to discontinue concocting with meditative awareness (sati). It is generally considered that when the mind concocts past Feeling, then Clinging (upadana), Birth (jati) and Dukkha inevitably occur.
8. CRAVING (tanha)
Craving is conditioned by Feeling. Craving concocts in three different ways. One is Sense Craving (kamatanha). Two is Craving for Being, states of being, or controlling and indulging in pleasant feelings (bhavatanha). This manifests often as a desire to maintain a deeper condition or identity. Third is Craving for Non-Being or to get away from unpleasant or painful feelings (vibhavatanha). As we can see, both Craving for Being and Craving for Non-Being signal the initial identification of the "self" with states of being. These identifications will develop into more detailed forms in Clinging (upadana) and in the Maturation of the "Self" (Existence and Birth).
These kinds of Craving enhance the deep mental conditioning of viewing the world in terms of positive and negative, the basic duality which arose in Consciousness-Mind/Body and developed in Feeling. This process of positive-negative mental ping-pong leaves the mind constantly agitated and fixated upon desires. We become unable to sit still in the present moment. The mind constantly plunges forward grasping at pleasant objects (kamatanha) and states of being (bhavatanha).
This narrowing of the mind also creates a strong undercurrent of delusion and unknowing through the mass of phenomena which are neither positive nor negative and thus go unprocessed as neither-pleasant-nor-painful Feeling. As we noted previously, the mind may perpetuate this neither-pleasant-nor-painful Feeling and avoid that which is actually transcendent. As the very nature of the self is to avoid its destruction and death (to deny Impermanence and Not-self), the mind can engage in a form of Craving for Non-Being (vibhavatanha) by further shutting down, turning off and perpetuating a state of ignorance as a defense mechanism against less egotistical states of being which threaten its existence.16
This Craving for Non-Being (vibhavatanha) also tears us out of the present. As the reality of Impermanence and Not-Self cut against the concocted Ignorance of "self", the mind may more actively move away from them into positive identifications in the future or from the past.17 An experience of lack is thus concocted in the tension between the constant dissolution of the present "self" and the hardened objectifications of a future or past "self". These objectifications of "self" are a vain attempt to fill in the bottomless pit of the present "self", which can never be satiated due to its inherently concocted, insubstantial and void nature - that is, the truth of Not-self.18 In this way, the concept of time takes form in the mind as the period between present desire and past or future satisfaction. This lack also concocts the sense of space between the craving self and the object of craving.19 As the mind becomes more imbedded in this pattern of concocting, reality becomes more objectified and perspective becomes narrower. The comparing mind arises - as "self" is contrasted with the hypothetical "self" of desire. The competitive mind also arises - as "self" is compared with the "selves" of other individuals. Lack, alienation, separation, comparison, and competition are therefore key components in this creation of ego and delusive identity.
9. CLINGING (upadana)
Clinging is conditioned by Craving, its partner in crime. As the mind deepens its concoctions of "self" and "other" in Craving, the next level of concocting in Clinging gives rise to the clearer sense of "I", "me" and "mine".20 This more concrete thinking leads us to form certain values, attitudes, and mental preoccupations about not just material forms but about mental states. In such a way, there are four more specific forms of Clinging coming from this basic Clinging. They are Clinging to: 1) sense objects (kamupadana); 2) views, ideas, beliefs, theories, etc. (ditthupadana); 3) rules, practices, methods, modes of behavior, etc. (silabbatupadana); 4) the "self" which clings to these above forms (attavadupadana ).
1) Sense Clinging is the preoccupation with related sense objects and trying to re-affirm enjoyment and possession of them.
2) Attitude Clinging is clinging to views and values. They may also refer to attitudes associated with Sense Clinging like which fashion indicates a person's value or intelligence. This relationship mirrors the one between Sense Craving and Craving for Being. Ultimately, a view is objectified as "something right" which belongs to the "self", rather than as a tool for learning about and responding to reality.
3) Behavioral Clinging, fed by Attitude Clinging, is Clinging to rules, methods, and modes of behavior associated with an object. Once a view, value, idea, or attitude is objectified, the methods and practices associated with it also become hardened into forms possessed by "me". As Buddhadasa Bhikkhu explains, "Rather than penetrating the real reasons for these practices, people simply cling fast to them through tradition. This is a kind of Clinging (upadana) which is very difficult to redress.... This kind of Clinging fixes on to the actual forms of practice, its external applications."21 This leads to a loss of true value and meaning when views and practices which are intended as means to higher goals become fetischized symbols of that end. For example, as we saw in Chapter I, wealth has become a value in itself replacing the higher value of honest and committed endeavor which makes wealth a wholesome and varied social construct.
4) Self Clinging is Clinging to the "me" which has arisen through this Clinging to objects as "mine". In the four subconscious links of Mental Stewing, we saw the birth of duality with the bifurcation of the mind into subject and object. Here in Clinging, this concocting has attained quite a complexity with Clinging to a distinct sense of "I" and "me" (atta) and a corresponding world of clung to objects like sensual forms (kama), attitudes (ditthi) and behaviors (sila).
MATURATION OF THE "SELF"
10. EXISTENCE (bhava)
11. BIRTH (jati)
Once again for the sake of clarity and practicality, we can understand a series of links as one. As with the four links of subconscious Mental Stewing, we are invited to investigate these factors more fully as our practice deepens.
Both Existence and Birth mark the development of the concocted "self" into a matured entity with its own internal dynamic. Conditioned by Clinging, this is the place where the hardened images of "self" begin to consolidate into an identity. Here the mind engages in a kind of "self" stewing. It stews (obsessing, dwelling, planning, visualizing, etc.) about clung to material and mental forms (sense objects, attitudes, behaviors), and then projects all these material and mental forms into life situations which contain these factors. Thus, the mind identifies its "self" with the environments and circumstances in which these desires are satisfied.22 This stewing, as a mental event, becomes literally an existence, a world that is lived in. For example, as the mind stews about obtaining a pair of Nike basketball shoes, it also begins to identify with places and organizations which are closely tied to Nike ("I am a Michael Jordan fan."; "I like the United States, where Nike is headquartered.") Conversely, there may be identification with what one is not ("I am not a Lakers fan."). The initial identifications we saw in Craving are attempts to bridge the fundamental subject-object duality concocted at the subconscious level. These identifications, however, only deepen the gap through heightening the sense of lack, separation and comparison. Here in the Maturation of the "Self", we witness more mature and increasingly futile attempts since such identity building merely exacerbates the gap it is trying to eliminate.23
This Birth is, of course, not a physical one but a mental and spiritual one in which "the sense of 'I' has grown and developed until it is born into a complete sense of self, of 'I', and now dominates the mind in all of its actions, and with it everything that is 'mine'."24 In the creation, reinforcement and attachment to mental objects, attitudes and behaviors, the mind constructs or "gives birth" to what it perceives as an identity or a "self". "This spiritual birth happens every time there is Craving. This can happen many times a day - dozens of times, maybe even a hundred times, if we have a lot of Craving. Every time there is Craving, there will be this Birth."25
The maturation of such a "self" is most clearly seen in times of crisis, when confronted with Aging & Dying.26 When our identity or sense of "self" is directly challenged, we often become angry, depressed, afraid and defensive. Such emotions are defense mechanisms which this "self" uses to avoid the reality of its Impermanence (anicca). This is a critical point to see. In the way that the "self" seeks out safe environments with which to identify, once the "self" is born it truly becomes like a being which will seek to preserve itself just as an animal will fight to preserve its own life. This is the tragedy of the Birth of "self" since there develops a self-preserving energy. It is very much like a virus with Ignorance serving as its DNA. Consequently, if we are successful in cutting out various constructed "selves" inside of us, there may be quite a lot of grief, like when a close friend dies.
12. AGING & DYING (jaramarana)
This maturation of the "self" will naturally condition Aging & Dying. Aging & Dying are also spiritual and mental states rather than merely physical ones. Here, the "self" concocted by misconceptions, ignorance and defilement runs into the fundamental nature of reality. We should not get confused here that this critique of "self" is a blanket condemnation of any human construction of identity. This sort of clinging to the complete denial of "self" is an annihilationism, the partner of egoism, which the Buddha also refuted. Rather, it must be emphasized that this is an identity built on the faulty structures of selfishness and an arrogant independence. Thus when we meet one natural truth of Impermanence (annica), we suffer pain at the dissolution of what is pleasurable and has been held on to. When we meet a second natural truth of Not-self (anatta) and Voidness (sunnata), we suffer pain at our dependency on others and other factors for this pleasure. When we meet a third natural truth of Dukkha, we suffer pain at these failed efforts to hold onto pleasure.
This "self" also experiences limitation, decay and suffering in the states of boredom, fear and depression. We often experience boredom with sense objects or states of being which have already been attained. Such boredom leads us on to crave some new sort of sense object or state of being. Fear often arises when one worries that a state of enjoyment cannot be continued or that the sensual object may run out or diminish. Such a negative ego state often leads to even more intense Craving for that sense (kama) or state of being (bhava) which is denied or requires sustaining.
Finally, depression, despair, self-hatred or self-pity arise from boredom and fear as well as when we are deprived of the thing we crave or the state of being which allows us to control these things.27
This spiritual death is one which occurs everyday when the mind breaks into concocted pieces in an attempt to manipulate reality towards its own satisfaction merely to be foiled or to have its satisfactions fade like the sun on the horizon. Built on Ignorance, developed through Concocting and manifested through Craving, the "self" is a construction with its own downfall built in. It is inherently unstable due to its co-dependency on various causes and conditions. To build one's life upon it is to build castles made of sand.
1 Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Paticca Samuppada: Practical Dependent Origination (Nonthaburi, Thailand: Vuddhidhamma Fund, 1992), 3.
2 Majjhima Nikaya, Mahahatthipadopama Sutta : The Simile of the Elephant's Footprint [Greater] 28:28 (I.191).
3 Majjhima Nikaya, Mahasaccaka Sutta : The Greater Discourse to Saccaka 36 (I.237-51). It has been noted that the Suttas skip over this core experience and emphasize others aspects of the Buddha's enlightenment while the Vinaya texts bring this experience more directly to light. Phra Prayudh Payutto, Buddhadhamma: Natural Laws and Values for Life, trans. Grant A. Olson (Albany,NY: State University of New York SUNY Press, 1995), 160.
4 "It is hard for such a generation to see this truth (this Dhamma that I have attained), namely, specific conditionality, dependent orgination." Majjhima Nikaya, Ariyapariyesana Sutta : The Noble Search, 26:19 (I.167).
5 Digha Nikaya, Mahanidana Sutta : The Great Discourse on Origination 15:1 (II.55).
6 Majjhima Nikaya, Ariyapariyesana Sutta : The Noble Search, 26:19 (I.168).
7 Samyutta Nikaya, Nidanavagga - the Book of Causation (II), Nidanasamyutta - the Connected Discourses on Causation (12), The Householder (V), Suffering 43 (3) .
8 The Mahayana simile of Indra's Net aptly describes this reality. Imagine a spider's web in which at each node appears a mirror which reflects all the other mirrors and vice versa infinitely. In this way, each infintesimal part of the universe encodes all of the universe within it.
9 Samyutta Nikaya, Nidanavagga - the Book of Causation (II), Nidanasamyutta - the Connected Discourses on Causation (12), Nutrtiment (II), Kaccanagotta (15) , Digha Nikaya, Brahmajala Sutta : The Supreme Net - What the Teaching Is Not 1 (I.1-46).
10 Payutto, P.A., Dependent Origination: The Buddhist Law of Conditionality, trans. Bruce Evans, (Bangkok: Buddhadhamma Foundation, 1994), 45.
11 Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, "Buddhism In All Aspects Lecture Series : Talk 3 The Arising of Paticca Samuppada" December, 1988, Trans. Santikaro Bhikkhu, unpublished.
12 Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, from a private interview with his student and personal translator, Santikaro Bhikkhu, September 17, 1998. & Payutto, Dependent Origination, 30.
13 Bhikkhu Nanananda, The Magic of the Mind: An Exposition of the Kalakarama Sutta (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1974/85), 31.
14 Buddhadasa "Buddhism In All Aspects: Talk 4 Controlling Paticca-Samuppada" and Interview with Santikaro Bhikkhu September 14, 1997.
15 Buddhadasa "Buddhism In All Aspects: Talk 4 Controlling Paticca-Samuppada".
16 Becker, Ernest, The Denial of Death (New York: Free Press, 1973).
17 Payutto, Dependent Origination, 63-65.
18 for a detailed discussion of this issue of lack, see Loy, David, Lack and Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism. (Atlantic-Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1996)
19 According to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, our sense of time and space arises at Craving (tanha). Interview with Santikaro Bhikkhu September 14, 1997.
20 Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, "Buddhism In All Aspects: Talk 3 The Arising of Paticca Samuppada".
21 Phra Ariyanandamuni (Buddhadasa Bhikkhu), Luk Phra Buddhasasana (Suvijahn, 1956), 60.
22 Payutto, Dependent Origination, 53-54.
23 Nanananda, The Magic of the Mind, 33.
24 Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, "Buddhism In All Aspects: Talk 3 The Arising of Paticca Samuppada"
25 Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, "Buddhism In All Aspects: Talk 3 The Arising of Paticca Samuppada"
26 Payutto, Dependent Origination, 54.
27 Payutto, Dependent Origination, 32.
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