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Dependent Origination

For a human being, life in the present time is always imperfect because the mind is full of craving in a world of delusion in which things are pleasant and unpleasant. Sensation arises and flows according to impulses.

So human beings are anxious and struggle to fulfil their desire which is impossible for anyone to do. The more they search, the more anxious they become. Suffering follows all the way. There is no balance and fulfilment because people's minds are dominated by Ignorance. Therefore, imperfection will always be present.

Compositions of a person's craving

From dependence on Impulses arises Craving.
From dependence on Craving arises Searching (or Pursuit).
From dependence on Searching arises Fortune.
From dependence on Fortune arises Decision (or Resolve).
From dependence on Resolve arises Love.
From dependence on Love arises Preoccupation.
From dependence on Preoccupation arises Attachment.
From dependence on Attachment arises Miserliness.
From dependence on Miserliness arises Protection.
From dependence on Protection arises Unwholesome Dhamma (or demerit).
Wholesome Dhamma: The mind which is full of intelligence, reason wisdom and peace.

Unwholesome Dhamma: The mind which is not intelligent, but stupid, depressed, cloudy or restless.

Unwholesome Dhamma is an unskilful action such as killing, quarrelling, squabbling, slandering and lying. The mind is overcome by Ignorance, bound up by the chain of craving which is never fulfilled.

If human beings in this world want to find the way to overcome impulses and craving which are the latent qualities of their mind, they should study Dependent Origination. This Dhamma, which is the Buddha's Transcendental wisdom, is the key to dispel all the Unwholesome Dhamma which makes people plunge into the heap of Suffering, so full of anxiety. Peace and contentment will thereby appear in every human being's mind. Dependent Origination is the Truth which is necessary for all Buddhists to study because it is the way to understand the states of human mind by the practice of The Four Foundations of mindfulness, applying mindfulness (Sati) and wisdom (Panna) to contemplate the body, feelings, the mind and reality. This practice is undertaken in order to understand Suffering, the Cause of Suffering and to know the way to Cessation of Suffering. This is called practising the Dhamma until wisdom arises. When wisdom appears, Ignorance is eliminated.

Dependent Origination can be broken up into different forms and subsequently analysed for meditators to understand and gain wisdom. They have to contemplate each step in turn in the Cycle. Extinction therefore takes place consecutively. Wisdom arises followed by a clear comprehension in the Cycle of Existence. There is no doubt left concerning birth, old age, disease and death. The vision of Truth will appear. The true nature of Suffering will be understood and this is followed by a weariness of birth, old age, disease and death. This realization will free one from the Cycle. The defilements, craving and attachment will be eliminated. One will gain the Four Noble Paths and their Fruitions and will finally realize Nibbana. This can be called Extinction and is the Noble Path and Fruition of the Perfect One (Arahat) and Nibbana. It is the highest virtue of celestial and human beings.

The Buddha

When the Buddha discovered that Ignorance was the root cause of Suffering, he used the Path of Truth, which is transcendental wisdom, to destroy latent dispositions which are buried deep in the flowing panorama of successive mental states. Consequently he became enlightened about the 3 worlds (the sensuous planes, the form planes and the formless plane), the impermanence of Self and Egolessness. What we call Ego consists of the 4 elements, earth, water, fire and wind. It is no more than the combination of the element of corporeality and mentality.

Therefore Ignorance is dispelled by his wisdom; the Buddha achieved the real Extinction of Kamma Formations through the Noble Path of Truth and freed himself from the snare of the origin of Suffering. The Transcendental wisdom which appears is compared with the light of virtue that shines in the heart of the one who practises. Right up to the present day, worlds of the followers have always been happy and peaceful.

The Origin of Dependent Origination

The causes of Dependent Origination are as follows.
From Dependence on Ignorance arise Karma Formations.
From Dependence on Karma Formations arises Consciousness.
From Dependence on Consciousness arises Mind and Matter.
From Dependence on Mind and Matter arise the Six Sense-Bases.
From Dependence on the Six Sense - Bases arise Contact.
From Dependence on Contact arises Feeling.
From Dependence on Feeling arises Craving.
From Dependence on Craving arises Clinging.
From Dependence on Clinging arises Becoming.
From Dependence on Becoming arises Birth.
From Dependence on Birth arises Decay and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair.
The arising of this whole mass of suffering is called "Dependent Origination."

Dependent Extinction is as follows.

Through the total fading away and extinction of ignorance,
Kamma-Formations are extinguished.
Through the extinction of Karma-Formations, Consciousness is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Consciousness, Mind and Matter are extinguished.
Through the extinction of Mind and Matter, the Six Sense-Bases are extinguished.
Through the extinction of the Six Sense-Bases, Contact is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Contact, Feeling is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Feeling, Craving is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Craving, Clinging is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Clinging, Becoming is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Becoming, Birth is extinguished.
Through the extinction of Birth, Decay, Death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are extinguished.
The Extinction of this whole mass of suffering means freeing oneself from the snare or loop of Dependent Origination.

Component parts of Dependent Origination

  1. Ignorance (Avijja) is ignorance of the real nature of Suffering in the mind, its cause, Cessation of Suffering (in the mind), and the Path leading to Cessation of Suffering.
  2. Karma Formations (Sankhara) are Volitional activities.
    1. Bodily Formations
    2. Verbal Formations
    3. Mental Formations

    From Dependence on Karma Formations, Consciousness arises.

  3. Consciousness (Vinnyana) is the rising of consciousness of the sense object through the 6 sense organs.
    1. Eyes- Eye Consciousness
    2. Ears- Ear Consciousness
    3. Nose- Nose Consciousness
    4. Tongue- Tongue Consciousness
    5. Body- Body Consciousness

    From Dependence on Consciousness, Mind and Matter arise.

  4. Mind and Matter (Nama-Rupa): Nama is Mind within the physical body. It is subtle and delicate in nature and branches out into:
    • Feeling or Sensation (Vedana)
    • Perception, Memory (Sanya)
    • Volition (Cetana)
    • Contact (Phassa),
    • Mental Impression, Mental Application, Pondering (Manasikara)
    Rupa is the physical body which can be contacted by eyes. Its nature is gross and combined with the 4 Primary Elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Wind.

    From dependence on Mind and Matter, Six Sense Organs arise.

  5. Six Sense Organs (Salayatana): The Six Sense Objects, forms, sounds, odours, sapids, tangible and mental objects, collide with their respective sense organs giving rise to six types of Consciousness.
       Eyes  -  Eye  contact
       Ears  -  Ear  contact
       Nose  -  Nose contact 
       Tongue  -  Tongue Contact 
       Body  -  Body Contact
       Mind  -  Mind Contact
    From Dependence on the Six Sense Organs, Contact arises.
  6. Contact, Mental Impression (Phassa) is the conjunction of the sense bases, sense object and the resultant Consciousness.
       Visual consciousness - eye (and forms)
       Auditory consciousness - ear (and sounds)
       Olfactory consciousness - nose (and odours)
       Gustatory consciousness - tongue (and sapids)
       Tactile consciousness - body (and tangible objects)
       Mind consciousness - Mind (and mental objects)
    From Dependence on Contact, Sensation arises.
  7. Sensation, Feeling (Vedana) is the feeling that experiences an object when it comes in contact with the senses, whether it is pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent.
       Feeling arisen from visual contact - eyes
       Feeling arisen from auditory contact - ears
       Feeling arisen from olfactory contact - nose
       Feeling arisen from gustatory contact - tongue
       Feeling arisen from physical contact - body
       Feeling arisen from mental contact - mind.
    From Dependence on Sensation, Craving arises.
  8. Craving (Tanha) There are 6 kinds of craving corresponding to the 6 sense objects.
       Craving for forms
       Craving for sounds
       Craving for odours
       Craving for tastes
       Craving for tangible objects
       Craving for mental objects.
    From Dependence on Craving, Grasping arises.
  9. Grasping (Upadana) Grasping is clinging to sense-objects and the 5 aggregates.
       Clinging to sensuality
       Clinging to views
       Clinging to mere rules and ritual
       Clinging to ego-belief (belief that 5 aggregates are Ego)
    From Dependence on Grasping, Becoming arises.
  10. Becoming (Bhava) is the mind which searches, full of impulses end emotions. It is the mind of an ordinary man who is dominated by craving, of one who intends to take a rebirth through craving for existence as the result of attachment in the previous physical forms and lives. There are 3 planes of existence.
    1. The Sensuous planes - the worlds of humans, animals and celestial beings.
    2. The Form planes - of divine beings.
    3. The Formless planes - of divine beings.

    From Dependence on Becoming, Birth arises.

  11. Birth (Jati) is Rebirth which is the arising of psycho-physical phenomena. Men and women form attachment to one another leading to sexual intercourse. Consequently, beings with aggregates and senses are born.

    From Dependence on Birth, Old age, Death, Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair arise.

  12. Old Age and Death (Jara, Marana) Jara means decay such as the hair turning grey, teeth dropping out, wrinkled skin, getting older, and the decline of sense faculties. These are impermanent conditions and are full of suffering.

    Marana means movement, destruction, death, the breaking up of the aggregates, the elimination of the sense faculties.

The source of all this Suffering is Ignorance which can be compared with a plant. The plant grows into a tree, complete with roots, trunks, leaves, flowers and fruit. However, its origin cannot be found. In the same way a sentient being"s physical and mental factors arise dependent on Ignorance, of which no one can trace its origin. It has already appeared as a chain of Dependent Origination.

An ordinary man can only stop the Cycle of Dependent Origination temporarily because he has no transcendental wisdom about the 5 aggregates.

On the other hand, a Noble One can stop the Cycle permanently by transcendental wisdom. He will never take a Rebirth again. It is the real Extinguishing and is like a fire which has completely gone out once its fuel has been consumed. The 5 aggregates are really understood by the appearance of wisdom.

These teachings, given by Ven. Ajahn Sanong, were translated by Fuengsin Trafford and Simon Romer.

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HTML transcription by Paul Trafford ( see contact details).