Twelve Links

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clyde
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by clyde »

My apologies Astus as you had explained that you understand ‘becoming’ as ‘identifying’. But to use your apple juice example, how does identifying as an apple juice drinker give rise to the birth of anything that grows old, sick and dies?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Tao »

I'm not Astus but:

Becoming is not the same as identifying.

Becoming here is the believe that there's a You that will exist any time in the future. It's the subject to your future desires.

If you think: I'm an person or a body, that's just identifying.

If you think, "tomorrow I will receive my prize", that's becoming.

So you create that construct, so then you also may think "but some years later I will die".

So as you become, death and rebirth arise.

Hope it helps.
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by narhwal90 »

Also not Astus, but I'd go for something like;

To identify as an apple juice drinker is to adopt duality. I might identify as a motorcycle rider or I might strive to become an amateur machinist- same idea. Birth and death are more dualities- as soon as you have any, you have all. Which is not to say dualities are good or bad, but they are provisional.
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Astus »

clyde wrote: Thu Sep 29, 2022 3:36 amBut to use your apple juice example, how does identifying as an apple juice drinker give rise to the birth of anything that grows old, sick and dies?
It gives birth to a personality trait that serves as one of the factors in making decisions and acting in the world. Its impermanence (decay and cessation) is visible on various levels. Momentarily one is an apple juice drinker when the situation of choosing it as one's beverage for dinner comes up. Once one has made the choice the mind (thoughts, attention, etc.) moves on to other topics/objects, like what to eat, what to talk about, what to listen to. Right there the entity of the apple juice drinker has disappeared, died. As a habit it can manifest again and again, either throughout a certain period of one's life, for instance during one's childhood, or it can persist until the current lifespan is finished. It is also possible that it recurs in future lives, given the right circumstances. No matter the extent of time we look at, the self/entity/being/person (I drink apple juice / I am an apple juice drinker) is temporary, subject to change, and not something that can exist independently of other factors. Because things change, the maintenance of that entity comes with confrontations with the changing circumstances. Since one is the being who drinks apple juice, it is hoped for and expected to be able to act as such, in other words, to always have apple juice to drink. Strong habits also have the tendency to give birth to other habits, like requiring a specific type of glass to drink from, particular brands of apple juice to consume at different times of the day, and so on, up to the level of complexity of a whole set of rituals. There is also the tendency to propagate the activity to others, so that they not only appreciate one's personality but also adopt the same set of behaviours. And the more one builds up the more confrontations can occur, and the more elements keep changing and ceasing.
Apart from its momentary impermanence it might be easier to see the decay and death of personality traits, habits, entities with other examples, like with being a wine/beer drinker, being a smoker, being a meat eater or vegetarian, being a fan of a football team, being a husband/wife, and so on. One would say that between the wedding ceremony and the issuing of a divorce/death certificate one remains a husband. But no person can keep in mind "I am a husband" even for just a couple of minutes. That's momentary decay and death of what was born as an entity. One acts as the husband within limited circumstances during the day, but when at the office, when travelling, when being annoyed by the slow progress of a queue the "husband" is nowhere. Still, it's not impossible to be the husband of the same person even in the next life (e.g. AN 4.55).
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Twelve Links

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Yesterday evening I read Nagarjuna’s Stanzas of The Heart of Interdependent Origination and his Commentary. He takes the twelve links in a chain and simplifies to three categories interacting. He ends his commentary with this:
VI. Those who impute origination even in regard to very
 subtle entities, being unwise, have not seen the meaning of
 conditioned origination.

VII. Hence, there is nothing to be denied and nothing to be 
affirmed. See the real rightly, (for) one who sees the real is released.
It reminded me of the teaching of the Third Patriarch of Zen, Seng-T’san in the Hsin Hsin Ming (Faith in Mind):
The Great Way is not difficult
For those who have no preferences.
I asked someone whose understanding I respect, but their answer wasn’t helpful though it reminded me of Baizhang’s answer in the Wild Fox koan:
“An enlightened person is one with the law of causation!”
🙏🏼
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Jeff H »

I'd like to get in on this because I think I understand the 12 links, but Clyde makes me wonder.

A realized being sees what you think of as a glass of apple juice and can appreciate it non-dually as a projection of emptiness. That’s wisdom.

But here’s how I understand the 12 links explaining our ignorant, dualistic world – that is, the perpetuation of samsara.
1. An ignorant being sees the same “thing”.
2. There is an immediate karmic reaction that identifies a “real thing”, an object.
3. The consciousness that labelled it is subjective, either a causal consciousness (projecting) or a resultant consciousness (projected).
4. Thus a “real” being has been identified using name and form for subject and object.
5. That being looks around for more sensory input using the six senses.
6. Mind and body make contact with the objects of their projected world.
7. This automatically results in karmically projected feelings (like, don’t like, don’t care).
8. Craving arises from that feeling, whether one wants it, doesn’t want it, or lets it be. This is where a being is able to interject an intention to counteract the habitual, karmic flow. The objective of Dharma training, up to a point, is to naturally crave virtue and reject non-virtue. Feeling is the effect of past karma; Craving is the cause of future karma. Eventually all craving must be abandoned.
9. Whether the craving is positive or negative, grasping arises. Whatever we are striving to achieve becomes something to make permanent, even though impermanence means that is impossible. That's the ignorance.
10. This is where becoming is solidified. Links 8-10 are “actualizing causes”. This is how our future is shaped: because we believe in it.
11. Because the mind and body have conspired (with powerful influences from past karma) in the first 10 links to make something happen, it does: birth.
12. Once the body-aspect has worn out and died, a new being in a new form arises from all the craving, grasping, and becoming. A new being that will decay and die. This is the process Buddha said can cease.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Tao »

>“An enlightened person is one with the law of causation!”

There're no agents (Anatta/Sunyata) of causes.

Just causation, and that's quite equivalent to sunyata.

Rangtong view
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Jeff H »

Clyde, I want to thank you for making me reexamine my understanding of the 12 links. I know my understanding is not very deep, though, so I hope anyone with a better understanding will correct me.

The 12 links are not meant as a logical proof. It is a description of the mental formulation of samsara. My teacher points out that until one is fully realized the Four Noble Truths are just the noble rumors. That’s because we don’t know those statements are true until we have experienced them ourselves. And that is because “noble” refers to the vision of an arya being who has direct experience of emptiness. The enlightened state is ineffable.

Here I’m looking at the 12 links as successive conditional statements.

The undeniable pre-condition is “there is awareness of phenomena”. An enlightened being knows that the awareness and the phenomena are equally ephemeral, and neither occurs without the other. What’s more, nothing lasts for two moments. That is not the way ordinary beings experience the world. The 12 links are a description of how we, the unenlightened, deal with awareness of phenomena.

If we were not ignorant of the fact that phenomena do not exist as they appear, then we would not be subject to applying past experience to present experience, that is, karma. If we were not thus subject to karma, we would not project conscious conjecture upon our fleeting experiences. Conscious conjecture is what imposes name and form on whatever we encounter to categorize and concretize it. Using name and form, we elaborate on all our experiences using our senses. The senses, including the mental sense, become our only way of making contact with the phenomena that are being experienced. Every contact gives rise to a generalized feeling: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Without such feelings, we would not develop craving, which is a need to either hold on to, push away, or ignore whatever it is we are experiencing (the three poisons). We act on that need by tightened grasping of it. These first 9 steps define the nature of a subject in relation to an object in any given moment, and a succession of such defining moments is what is meant by becoming. Because we are thoroughly invested in our self-made definitions, we give birth to that mental formulation of personhood in the sense that we strongly believe it truly exists. But because of impermanence, that conceptualized person necessarily changes constantly, making a pattern of suffering and death. Then we start the cycle all over because nothing lasts for two moments, and experience carries on as a given.

Do I know this is true? Can I prove it? No. Just like the Four Noble Truths, it is a description that has come down to me through generations of masters who say it is the word of an enlightened being. Do I know those masters were right? No. But I think it is a reasonable explanation and that I could do a lot worse with my life than trying to apply an understanding of this teaching to my own behavior.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Jeff H »

A side topic for me, Clyde, is that I don’t understand your standard for assessing profound teachings. Why should the ability to explain it to a child validate or invalidate any Dharma teaching? What is being transmitted is beyond explanation and reason. The teachings are heuristic and require that we be able to follow the pointing finger.

In that regard I would ask how you teach the "straightforward" Four Noble Truths to a child. Taking just the first one, it is easy enough to see how a kid understands that she wants what she wants, doesn’t want what she doesn’t want, and prefers to avoid pain. But that’s just manifest suffering. It might be a little harder to explain that even the kid’s happiness is changing suffering because it always leads back to manifest suffering. But how is a child, or an adult, to understand pervasive suffering? I would suggest that the 12 links are the explanation of pervasive suffering.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva
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Re: Twelve Links

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Being able to explain a teaching to a child doesn’t validate or invalidate a teaching and that wasn’t my point. My point is that the Buddha’s core teachings are simple, straightforward, and easily explainable, even to a child - but not the Twelve Links.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

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clyde wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 6:00 pm Being able to explain a teaching to a child doesn’t validate or invalidate a teaching and that wasn’t my point. My point is that the Buddha’s core teachings are simple, straightforward, and easily explainable, even to a child - but not the Twelve Links.
The general theory of dependent origination is "Where this exists, that exists, with the arising that, this arose," simple, straightforward, and easily explainable.

On the other hand, the Buddha also said:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Kurus. Now, the Kurus have a town named Kammasadhamma. There Ven. Ananda approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "It's amazing, lord, it's astounding, how deep this dependent co-arising is, and how deep its appearance, and yet to me it seems as clear as clear can be."

[The Buddha:] "Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Deep is this dependent co-arising, and deep its appearance. It's because of not understanding and not penetrating this Dhamma that this generation is like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond the planes of deprivation, woe, and bad destinations.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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Re: Twelve Links

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Yes, and to repeat, I understand the principle of dependent origination (interdependent conditionality) and it is “simple, straightforward and easily explainable”. My question is specifically about the Twelve Links.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Malcolm »

clyde wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 11:29 pm My question is specifically about the Twelve Links.
That's why I directed you to the Mahānidana Sutta. But for people who don't accept rebirth, it can be a little hard to understand.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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Re: Twelve Links

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I’m back to asking what is the meaning of “becoming”? And how is it a requisite condition of birth (of a being which ages and dies)?

And in reading the Maha-nidana Sutta (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html) there’s this:
"If one is asked, 'Is there a demonstrable requisite condition for name-and-form?' one should answer, 'There is.’

"If one is asked, 'From what requisite condition does name-and-form come?' one should say, 'Name-and-form comes from consciousness as its requisite condition.’

"If one is asked, 'Is there a demonstrable requisite condition for consciousness?' one should answer, 'There is.’

"If one is asked, 'From what requisite condition does consciousness come?' one should say, 'Consciousness comes from name-and-form as its requisite condition.'
Huh?! It seems each is dependent on the other as a requisite condition. How does that work? According to the sutta, it seems to depend on consciousness “descending into the womb,” but then consciousness requires “a foothold in name-and-form”.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Malcolm »

clyde wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 12:29 am I’m back to asking what is the meaning of “becoming”? And how is it a requisite condition of birth (of a being which ages and dies)?

And in reading the Maha-nidana Sutta (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html) there’s this:
"If one is asked, 'Is there a demonstrable requisite condition for name-and-form?' one should answer, 'There is.’

"If one is asked, 'From what requisite condition does name-and-form come?' one should say, 'Name-and-form comes from consciousness as its requisite condition.’

"If one is asked, 'Is there a demonstrable requisite condition for consciousness?' one should answer, 'There is.’

"If one is asked, 'From what requisite condition does consciousness come?' one should say, 'Consciousness comes from name-and-form as its requisite condition.'
Huh?! It seems each is dependent on the other as a requisite condition. How does that work? According to the sutta, it seems to depend on consciousness “descending into the womb,” but then consciousness requires “a foothold in name-and-form”.
Name and matter (namarūpa) refers to the psychosomatic continuum. If there is no conception, the links cease.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by clyde »

Malcolm, You didn’t address the meaning and operation of “becoming”.

Nor did you explain how: namarupa is a requisite condition for consciousness AND consciousness is a requisite condition for namarupa. Unless I’m misreading the translated sutta or misunderstanding what is written, each is a requisite condition for the other. How can that be?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

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clyde wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 1:28 am Malcolm, You didn’t address the meaning and operation of “becoming”.

Nor did you explain how: namarupa is a requisite condition for consciousness AND consciousness is a requisite condition for namarupa. Unless I’m misreading the translated sutta or misunderstanding what is written, each is a requisite condition for the other. How can that be?
If there is no namarupa, consciousness cannot exist, in other words, the result depends on the cause and vice versa, that is, a cause without a result is a non-cause.

I did respond to your query about bhava, bhava is karma, specifically, in the three life scheme., it is the karma of this life.

You should read Chapter three of the Abhidharmakosha in the section on dependent origination where the three types of dependent origination are clearly explained.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by clyde »

Malcolm, The sutta is clear that each link is a “requisite condition” (not cause) for the following link which I understand to mean that the condition must exist before the arising of the following link. So, how can namarupa be a requisite condition for consciousness AND consciousness be a requisite condition for namarupa? And if the arise together, then neither is a requisite condition.
Last edited by clyde on Sat Oct 01, 2022 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by Malcolm »

clyde wrote: Sat Oct 01, 2022 3:07 am Malcolm, The sutta is clear that each link is a “requisite condition” (not cause) for the following link which I understand to mean that the condition must exist before the arising of the following link. So, I understand how namarupa is a requisite condition for consciousness, but how can consciousness be a requisite condition for namarupa?
I just explained it. Cause and conditions are mutually dependent: without a result, there is no cause; without a cause there is no result. In other words, a seed and a sprout are mutually dependent, each cannot exist without the other. Without a sprout, a seed is a non seed and vice versa.
Vases, canvas, bucklers, armies, forests, garlands, trees
houses, chariots, hostelries, and all such things
that common people designate dependent on their parts,
accept as such. For Buddha did not quarrel with the world!

—— Candrakīrti. MAV 6:166
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Re: Twelve Links

Post by clyde »

Sorry, I edited my post, but you had already applied.

My point is that a ‘requisite condition’ is not a cause (as in a cause-and-effect), but is necessary and precedes what follows. They both can’t be the requisite condition for the other.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”
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