Dependent Origination

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Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 12:49 am

Hey fellow buddhists.

This week I have found out something which matches up with dependent origination so much that I feel that it is too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. Feedback would be good (I don't really know anyone who practices vipassana to direct me on this).

OK - so I don't really know where all the words before "contact" tie up but have made some educated guesses also I don't know about the conciousness/karma formations bit. I'll explain through what I have done to see this and what I see.

I usually meditate with a mixture of sammatha and vipassana - I keep my mind centred in a ball of nimmita(s) whist simulatenously picking up sensation etc. with periphery awareness.

OK - I'll explain what happens as I go from my deepest points to letting my mind do what it normally does gradually and tie this up with dependent origination.

So - at the deepest point (in concentration - not on an object - on a point in space), I let sati work over my body. As the sati picks up sensation (which I don't actually really feel when I'm deep in concentration), it creates a link between the sensation and it's nimmita. A little picture (I'm thinking that maybe this is karma formations but don't know - In fact - when deeper still the picture is clear and doesn't move to the target - it just flashs up. The thing which moves the target is a combo of pictures. With negative sensations the picture is scary, with positive the picture is pretty. Actually - when I'm deeper still these pictures will glow) will flash past up for a split-sencond and I will comprehend it's destination.

Now - it's when I allow my mind to gradually start doing what it normally does that I gradually experience what I think is dependent origination.

i) A stream of nimmita will gradually (if I'm deeper in concentration - because concentration slows it down (otherwise (I see this when I'm not meditating as well) it's very fast) move towards the target destination (I've made an educated guess that the stream is "six sense bases").

ii) Nimmita stream reaches destination (i.e. a sense). This is "contact".

iii) Sense is felt. This is "feeling".

iv) I can't actually "see" the craving - but the more positive the sensation the more "keen" my awareness is for the next thing to happen.

v) Awareness integrates with the nimmita stream. This is "clinging".

vi) Awareness is shot along the nimmita steam towards the sense. This is "becoming".

vii) A wall comes up between me and the sense - my ego is born (I'm on one side - reality on the other). This is "birth".

viii) Unless I go into immediate sammatha meditation on the thing that I'm looking at just after "birth" the wall will very quickly increase in width (due to negativity) - pushing me back into spritual darkness. This is "death despair etc.".

And the cycle continues - round and round and round.

Now the buddha does also talk of the other type of rebirth. But in dependent origination he's not. Now - whenever I read a web-page on dependent origination they always say that birth and death is the other type of rebirth.
So I looked at the buddhas description in the sutta. At first I thought "oh no - I've got it wrong - he's clearly describing the "normal" rebirth - but I can't be wrong - this just ties up so well".
Then I read the description closer - If you read it carefully he's definitely talking about the rebirth I'm experiencing (this guy loves to use analogies):

"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.

"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.

The total proof that he means this is that he says the death is an INTERRUPTION in the life faculty and not a TERMINATION of the life faculty. Also - appearance/disappearance of aggregrates is probably the best sum up of what I see.
He uses words like "graying" and "wrinkling" to describe old age which is what tricks you - but this is exactly what going into spiritual darkness feels like - a graying and wrinkling of the "spirit".

Yeah - so feedback would be great - cheers.
Hope this helps people as well - as soon as a starting looking into suffering by analysing the movements of the nimmita ball (which is the same thing as movements of consciousness) whilst doing sati on sensation (knowing which were positive and which were negative) I found this (well - took me a few days to get to the picture level). And you don't even need nimmita to see it - I only have to sati on the movements of my conciousness and sensation simultaneously (although I can't really see anything deeper than "becoming" without nimmita).

Peace and Love,
Steve.
:-) :-) :-)
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby mikenz66 » Wed May 19, 2010 8:07 am

Hi Steve,

Have you read anything by Ajahn Buddhadasa?
E.g. http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... uppada.htm

He takes a "momentary" approach to dependent origination, and several people here feel that his meditation instructions are very good, though I don't know enough about his methods to know whether he explicitly deals with the sort of meditative experience you are describing in any of his works.

Metta
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 12:45 pm

Heya - cheers Mike.

Yeah - he agrees with me that birth (in the context of dependent arising) means the instantaneous birth of the ego and not physical birth.
As to the whole of dependent arising happening "in an instant" like he says - I've been thinking about this. Although this process is going on very fast It doesn't appear to be happening at rates of billioniths of a second or anything. But I'm wondering if it actually does - It's possible that I'm kind of watching a "bulk movement" of a much more rapid process. I can feel and be becoming on a different thing at the same time so I'm thinking if I got down to actual mind-moment level (long way to go b4 I get to that) I'd see that it watch actually numerous feelings and becomings put together.
Have a look out for it.

Metta,
Steve. :-)
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 1:00 pm

Actually no - on further analysis "becoming"/"birth" etc. is definitely (if this dependent orgination) a bulk movement. You still feel other things during "becomeing" and birth - they kind of interrupt the becoming but you still come back (well - you don't actually leave it in the first place - only part of you does) to the "becoming" in the same place.

Take care,
Steve.

:-) :-) :-)
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby PeterB » Wed May 19, 2010 1:03 pm

whitewedding wrote:Heya - cheers Mike.

Yeah - he agrees with me that birth (in the context of dependent arising) means the instantaneous birth of the ego and not physical birth.
As to the whole of dependent arising happening "in an instant" like he says - I've been thinking about this. Although this process is going on very fast It doesn't appear to be happening at rates of billioniths of a second or anything. But I'm wondering if it actually does - It's possible that I'm kind of watching a "bulk movement" of a much more rapid process. I can feel and be becoming on a different thing at the same time so I'm thinking if I got down to actual mind-moment level (long way to go b4 I get to that) I'd see that it watch actually numerous feelings and becomings put together.
Have a look out for it.

Metta,
Steve. :-)

I am glad he agrees with you.
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 1:24 pm

Also - another thing. You can watch the process of "death decay etc". without actually taking part in it.
As long as you watch the movements of the nimmita(s) objectively without "clinging" then you will see the nimmita(s) push back away from negativity. Now if clinging starts awareness becomes integrated with the nimmita so when the nimmita pushes back awareness is pushed back as well ("death decay etc.") but if clinging doesn't start then awareness is detached and watches the process.

Metta,
Steve :-)
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby PeterB » Wed May 19, 2010 1:31 pm

How exactly are you defining nimittas ?
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 1:41 pm

Hey Peter.

Well for me they are visual images - started off as flicking lights. Then I started to use mindfulness to surf them (to a point). By surfing I realised that the nimmita are attactive forces which awareness integrates into - they are effectively the movements of my consciousness.
I can't give a much better explanation than this - they are flickering lights which appear during sammatha. If you collect them to a point you develop massive concentration (because they are very attractive). Each nimmita corresponds to a sensation - so when you are just focusing on the breath you get breath nimmita which moves towards your "anapana spot"/"guarding point" then your mind integrates with it developing much stronger concentration.

Apparently they don't need to be visual though - can be any sense (sometimes I hear it - sounds like tinnitus).

Take care,
Steve.
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby PeterB » Wed May 19, 2010 1:43 pm

Do you have a teacher whitewedding ?
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 2:23 pm

You might have nimmita and not realise you have them because you are very engaged in doing your meditation. Look out for them occasionally though (maybe in the gaps between the breaths if you're doing anapana). Any kind of unreal disturbance (unless it is actually a dream like hallucination (which does actually seem to stem from nimmita in my experience)) is probably some kind of nimmita. At first I found them a distraction. Then I learnt to surf them and since then my meditation has skyrocketed (I only started to learn to surf them a couple of weeks ago and now I'm seeing all this shit) - and I had them for months and months without doing anything with them.

Although I don't think this is the right path (but did give me a lot of insight into this stuff I think is dependent origination), I firstly learnt to surf the nimmita to a point (what I dubbed my "eye"). Then, using mindfulness of conciousness I then learnt to have dynamic movement of the eye. Then I'd use the eye to cut through the barriers of my consciousness into sensation - I found that I could cut around pain particles (at first the pain would be like one big wall, I'd then roll round this and the pain would particluate (little walls) doing the same thing on a smaller scale actually then cut through the particles) like a laser and light (lots of little nimmita particles) would explode out of it.
I dubbed the walls of aversion created by the pain as "the guards that pushed me to the dark room" and the nimmita which rushed me to sensation (which I was following in order to do this) as "the guards that pulled me to the windows".
Then, as I gained more insight (and remembered the phrase "craving is the cause of suffering") I realised that I was probably doing the opposite of what I should have been doing - Instead of destroying the guards that sent me to the dark room I realised that I should have been avoiding the guards that sent me to the windows instead.
So I developed what I called "new sammatha" - I'd centre my mind at a point concentrating on nimmita but instead of sticking with the nimmita I'd attach, then gaze over it and let it go and then the next would show up, and I'd do the same. I found I became very peaceful doing this.
Then I added satipatthana to this: the sati would pick up sensation creating an automatic link between the sensation and it's nimmita - My concentration was on the nimmita and not the sensation but the sati allowed me to comprehend the nimmita (I'm guessing this is what the buddha means by "clear comprehension). By comphending the nimmita it would automatically dissapear and the next couplet would come.
Then I link it up with the vipassana literature - the nimmita must be the the nama (mental part) - the sensation must be the rupa ("material" part - when Buddha says matter he means sense). Vipassana proper is described as the simultaneous momentary concentration on both nama and rupa (this way the process of becoming is transcended). If anyone meditates on nama-rupa then I'd very much like to know, to make sure I'm doing it right.

Anyway - yeah - as soon as I learn to surf nimmita I quickly learnt all of this so have a look out for them (but don't want them to come).
NB/ at first I was scared of nimmita - the flashing lights made me think I was going to have an epilectic fit or something. When lying in bed at night nightmare images would sometimes come out of them. Sometimes I even felt like they were ripping my mind apart. However, when I learnt to surf them (which basically required doing sati on them whilst using "concentration" to surf in a straight line, I realised that they weren't as scary as I first thought.

Metta,
Steve.
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 2:34 pm

PeterB wrote:Do you have a teacher whitewedding ?


I have a Sammatha teacher. He was the person which encouraged me to go onto the nimmita in the first place.
However, he doesn't do vipassana and I don't actually know anyone who does vipassana (hopefully meet a few on this forum). My info on that comes from books.

There are only a few authors which combine sammatha and vipassana as one (Bhante Guaratana for one) like I do - I've found that I can see in incredibly more detail by combining the 2 although the pure vipassana/satipattha which I do outside of meditation does seem to give me a mode of insight (as I said - I seem to learn most about the later stages of what I think (well - pretty sure) is dependent orgination as I relax the sammatha side).

Do you guys do satipatthana/vipassana?
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 2:39 pm

Getting bad - got my finals in just over a week and all I'm doing is mediation - gotta learn some self control (ironically).
:jumping:

What do you guys do then - have you been into buddhism for long?
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 3:44 pm

Oh yeah - another important thing.
After doing the new sammatha/satipathana that I was describing earlier (actually just new sammatha does it but it's much harder than the combo and I don't see so clearly) I am significantly detached from this rebirth process I experience. I'm still in it - just less so. It's almost as if I'm looking down on it.
It's interesting when I then initiate a full process of becoming. It's like dropping into hell. Funny thing is there's a lot of joy in this hell (from being born into positive experiences) but it is hell in comparison. It's like we're hooked on some drug - we take the drug (clinging), come up on the drug (becoming), get high on the drug (birth), come down from the drug (death, decay etc.). Then as soon as we're in reality again we see the drug (feeling), want the drug (craving), take the drug (becoming) etc. etc.

Now I guess I'm a long way off Nibbana but I've seen it's gonna take some sacrifices - we have to quit the drug (after we've realised we're on the drug and what the drug is etc.) - but quitting the drug means a happier life in the long run.

Metta,
Steve. :smile:
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 19, 2010 10:40 pm

Greetings whitewedding,

I would recommend reading widely on dependent origination. Even those who discard the commentarial three-life interpretation do not always agree on all points. Some non-commentarial interpretations from early in the 20th century are rather slipshod. If you would like some recommendations on further reading, please let me know.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Wed May 19, 2010 11:23 pm

Cheers Retro (cool name btw) - I will.
Do you know any books which describe the actual meditative experience of dependent origination? All I can find is theory.
With metta,
Steve.
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby retrofuturist » Wed May 19, 2010 11:51 pm

Greetings Whitewedding,
whitewedding wrote:Do you know any books which describe the actual meditative experience of dependent origination?

Hmmm... perhaps it is better to explain it like this.

Vipassana/satipatthana meditation involves focusing on the rising and passing away of certain sankhata (formed) dhammas.

The essence underlying dependent origination is idappaccayata (this/that conditionality). It can be expressed like this...

Because there is this, that arises;
When this ceases that ceases

This relation holds true for all of the twelve nidanas. If you want "actual meditative experience of dependent origination" you will have to observe this idappaccayata relationship between the respective nidanas, in their arising and cessation modes.

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 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."

As you can see, there's many points in which the "because there is this, that arises; When this ceases that ceases" relationship can be observed.

There's also another link in the Mahanidana Sutta not specified in this standard formula in which the mutual dependence of vinnana (consciousness) and nama-rupa (name-and-form) are detailed. Bhikkhu Nanananda's Nibbana Sermons spend a lot of detail explaining the 'whirlpool' relationship between these two nidanas. It's an important connection, because this is where the false perception of self resides.

To that end, it's important to understand what each of those individual (pre-translated, i.e. Pali) words means so you know precisely what you're observing arise or cease. Most of the terms are deep and subtle in their meaning and are not really amenable to blanket one-word translations.

See the pinned Pali Dictionaries topic in the Pali forum for some good resources. Another good resource is Nanavira Thera's "Notes On Dhamma", which provides a cogent explanation of dependent origination and the key terms, which is devoid of commentarial flavourings and additives.

Nanavira Thera's "Notes On Dhamma"
http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=37

If however, you're after the Mahavihara commentarial explanation of "the actual meditative experience of dependent origination", I would be very interested also to see such a thing myself. As you may know, the Mahavihara commentarial explanation sections the first two nidana off to a previous lifetime (rendering the connection between the 2nd and 3rd unobservable) and it sections the last two nidana off to a future lifetime (rendering the connection between the 10th and 11th unobservable too). The Mahavihara explanation also sections aspects off as past causes, present causes, present effects and future effects. Unless you can observe the past and future, these would be deemed inobservable... or if claimed to be observable (by timeshifting the referenced "self" to the future (11-12) or previous (1-2) rebirth), the "Because there is this, that arises; When this ceases that ceases" nature of the relationship between the nidanas certainly is not observable in this lifetime unless you have developed the ability to recall previous lives. Whilst it may be useful, such a skill is not necessary for arahantship and thus, it is not necessary in order to understand dependent origination and cessation.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Thu May 20, 2010 12:43 pm

Hey Retro,
Cheers for the links - I shall check them out (must make sure I do some much needed intensive period of revision first though (I just keep meditating instead - need to find the balance)).
Right - so you don't need to understand dependent origination to gain arantship. Cheers for that - I was getting a bit confused as to what I should be doing because when I'm deeper into sammatha/vipassana I no longer observe what I believe to be dependent origination (at least the later stages anyway).

Also - I mentioned what I thought was nama-rupa above and want to be sure it's right - I have the concentration on a point in front of me inside a nimmita ball, when sati picks up sensation (rupa I think), It creates an autolink between it and it's corresponding nimmita (nama I think) which flashes up at the point (or rather - slightly off the point - as if it's a disturbance to the point). The nimmita is observed with a direct (sammatha style) concentration whilst the sensation is observed with a periphery (sati style) concentration (both types of concentration see equally as clearly and knowingly but they are inverses of one another). The 2 sides of the concentration then unify more and more (it's almost as if I go into the nimmita side of the concentration which now contains the sensation part of the concentration automatically).
Do you know if this sounds to be nama-rupa (There seems to be nothing else but this and awareness). I wondering because I want to make sure I am doing it right (vipassana is described as the simultaneous momentary concentration on both nama and rupa which sounds a hell of a lot like this).

Thanks a lot,
Steve :-)
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby whitewedding » Thu May 20, 2010 1:10 pm

Oh - also Retro,

The nimmitas are composed of little pictures (more like symbols - but sometimes pictures for negative sensations can almost resemble aliens.) I can gradually turn my meditation to the pictures themselves (still with the link to the equivalent sensation). The pictures don't move like the overall nimmitas - they flash up and disappear in an instant. When I go deeper the pictures glow. Positive sensations have nice pictures, negative sensations have evil pictures (but I have equanimity towards them) - all of them glow though.
Now, at first I was thinking these may be kama formations but apparently by that stage I should have panoramic awareness which I don't (don't think so anyway - the sati is kinda panoramic but the sammatha is not). So I'm thinking - maybe these are the nama?
Do you know?

Cheers,
Steve :-)
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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 9:16 pm

Greetings Steve,

whitewedding wrote:Right - so you don't need to understand dependent origination to gain arantship.


No, I didn't mean that... apologies for any confusion caused.

As for nama and rupa, look up the resources I provided and see what they say.

Good luck.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dependent Origination

Postby Kenshou » Thu May 20, 2010 9:43 pm

Steve, I think that you might be getting a little bit too caught up with your nimitta thing. I think that you might be making a big deal about something which you shouldn't be. When you learn a little more in depth about what dependent origination is actually about, and meditation in a Buddhist context, this might become clearer to you. I've put a good deal of time into understanding the various meditative approaches that are out there, and I have to kindly say that I haven't got a clue what you're going on about.
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