Huseng wrote:catmoon wrote:Huseng wrote:
I've heard the third link on the twelve links of dependent origination (consciousness) described as causal consciousness. What do you think about that?
There may be good reason for this. Karen Armstrong, who has a pretty strong rep for doing serious research, said that the term used does not refer to general consciousness, but to the consciousness of the last living moment. Sort of the end product of a life.
While I'm at it, she also says that "name & form" is just a Pali idiom for the term "person".
So there's some more marbles to rattle around in your gourd!
I think the problem is that while the twelve links of dependent origination were taught, a lot of the finer details were not recorded and thus Buddhist thinkers throughout the centuries have had to pin down the sequence and mechanism.
To me it doesn't make sense to think of the third link as a consciousness connected to any sensory apparatus because this is before the six sources or ṣaḍāyatana have arisen.
Strange that Karen Armstrong should call it the the consciousness of the last living moment. It is most often described as the causal phase of consciousness which carries the "traces" of the samskara/karmic formative factors of the preceding link.
The sequence of the links seems less to do with an actual sequence of events rather than a description of a set of elements that are required for the following link. So indeed, as Huseng points out, thinking of the causal consciousness as connected in a direct manner to the ayatanas doesn't make a lot of sense if indeed that is what is being stated. It's not a question of the grosser consciousnesses, the third link is directly dependent on having a formative karmic impulse. So perhaps Karen Armstrong in her thorough yet somewhat eclectic manner is referring to the last moment of this life being such a dominant factor in determining our future rebirth?
And of course there are different sequences grouped according to categories, all within the framework of the classical 12 link sequence. Such as whether they are links which project or are projected, and those that "produce (bring to fruition) or are produced". Or according to Nagarjuna's verses of dependent origination some are kleshas, others are karmas, others are suffering. But having the original sequence is still enormously helpful in understanding dependent arising.