The Heart of the Issue

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The Heart of the Issue

Postby rolling_boulder » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:08 am

Hello,

I am new to this forum.

I might as well cut to the chase: I'm trying to get to the root of the Noble Truth of the Dependent Origination of Dukkha, and everything in the logical progression makes sense to me except for the final step:

Dukkha is founded on Craving;
Craving depends on Feeling;
Feeling depends on Contact;
Contact connects the world to the six senses;
The six senses lurk within the mind-body complex;
The mind-body complex depends on consciousness;
Consciousness is a fabrication and so depends on fabrications;
Fabrications depend on ignorance.


Fabrications are dependent on Ignorance?

Huh?
I'm really confused by this step. Can someone explain how this works? How are processes dependent on ignorance?
It seems to me like it would be the other way around or something...

I'm clearly missing a critical piece of understanding here and I feel that some insight into this step would really advance my understanding of the Dhamma.

Thanks for the replies.
With loving kindness to all beings.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby Digity » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:26 am

Here's my understanding of it. Fabrications have different forms like verbal, mental, etc. So, a mental fabrication might be something like "I'm an awesome tennis player." Thoughts like this are meant to build a self image of our self. You think things like "I'm an idiot" or "I'm a lot smarter than that guy.". So we fabricate an identity of ourselves through thoughts, feelings, perception, etc. These are fabrications and we believe in them as if they're reality...as if I'm this individual entity endowed with these properties. These fabrications have no inherent core to them...they're transient...they come into being and then pass away. However, we continue to thing of them in fixed ways. This is were the ignorance is. If we clearly saw the nature of things the mind would clearly see through these fabrications, but until we are enlightened we continue to relate to the world this way, which is rooted in ignorance and anything rooted in ignorance ultimately leads to suffering.
Last edited by Digity on Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby rolling_boulder » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:44 am

So by the cessation of this ignorance (by following the Eightfold Path) we can cease fabrications that cause suffering? Here's what I still don't understand:

With the cessation of ignorance, comes the cessation of fabrications. Presumably (from your post) this means mental fabrications.

With the cessation of mental fabrications, would there come to pass a cessation of physical fabrications?

It still seems to me that physical fabrications remain unaddressed by a cessation of ignorance and that physical fabrications are as important as mental ones to consciousness.

Also, when ignorance ceases, then consciousness ceases. Does this mean that when ignorance is completely cured, a person would cease to be conscious? Are such questions even relevant?
Maybe such a distinction is not pertinent to the direct following of the Path but investigation into the Dhamma is critical to the cessation of the hindrance of doubt, so I will continue with the post.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby Digity » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:55 am

The Buddha was enlightened and he was obviously conscious or he wouldn't even be able to teach. I think the key point is that we relate to the world through a fabricated self and these fabrications are created through perception, thoughts, feelings, etc...not just mental. When we learn the true nature of these thoughts, feelings, perception....see that they're transient with no inherent core....that they are not-self...then we naturally stop fabricating the "self". This gives rise to wisdom and wisdom and ignorance can't co-exist. That's why the arising and developing of wisdom is crucial to these teachings, because they eat away at ignorance. That's also why awareness is crucial to these teachings, because it's only through a deep sense of awareness that you'll see the true nature of fabrications and realize that they are not-self.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby santa100 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:05 pm

rolling_boulder wrote:With the cessation of ignorance, comes the cessation of fabrications. Presumably (from your post) this means mental fabrications.

With the cessation of mental fabrications, would there come to pass a cessation of physical fabrications?

It still seems to me that physical fabrications remain unaddressed by a cessation of ignorance and that physical fabrications are as important as mental ones to consciousness.

Also, when ignorance ceases, then consciousness ceases. Does this mean that when ignorance is completely cured, a person would cease to be conscious?

Ven. Bodhi's MN's Introduction to The Book of Causation wrote:
Because of (i) ignorance (avijjā), lack of direct knowledge of the Four Noble Truths, a person engages in volitional actions, wholesome and unwholesome activities of body, speech, and mind; these are (ii) the volitional formations saṅkhārā), in other words, kamma. The volitional formations sustain consciousness from one life to the next and determine where it re-arises; in this way volitional formations condition (iii) consciousness (viññāṇa). Along with consciousness, beginning with the moment of conception, comes (iv) “name-and-form” (nāmarūpa), the sentient organism with its physical form (rūpa) and its sensitive and cognitive capacities (nāma).

So, with the cessation of volitional formations, the present life consciousness is still there but there's no sustaining of consciousness from one life to the next, thus the absence of a future physical body(a physical sankhara). That's why the Buddha destroyed ignorance in his lifetime and was still "conscious" to teach the Dhamma. However, the consciousness wasn't sustained from one life to the next, thus no more future coming back to the world..
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby Samma » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:43 pm

Well, you are certainly not alone. DO is a mess to make sense of.

The most worrisome part are the links from ignorance to name and form. My inclination is just to say they don't make sense, but I think it's important to say that they don't make sense to me. However we hardly need them because the process we are interested in does not require them. I think ignorance as a problem comes in later after we have contact, but as a cause it probably conditions all the other links directly.
http://jayarava.blogspot.com/2010/06/confessions-i.html


This may help a bit:
The deluded mind, cloaked in ignorance, projects its own internal constructs outwardly, ascribing them to the object as if they really belonged to it. As a result, what we know as the final object of cognition, what we use as the basis for our values, plans, and actions, is a patchwork product, not the original article. To be sure, the product is not wholly illusion, not sheer fantasy. It takes what is given in immediate experience as its groundwork and raw material, but along with this it includes something else: the embellishments fabricated by the mind.The springs for this process of fabrication, hidden from view, are the latent defilements. The defilements create the embellishments, project them outwardly, and use them as hooks for coming to the surface, where they cause further distortion. To correct the erroneous notions is the task of wisdom, but for wisdom to discharge its work effectively, it needs direct access to the object as it is in itself, uncluttered by the conceptual elaborations. The task of right mindfulness is to clear up the cognitive field. (Bhikkhu Bodhi, 8foldpath)
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby Digity » Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:52 pm

Samma wrote:Well, you are certainly not alone. DO is a mess to make sense of.


Well, the Buddha himself even stated that DO was difficult to comprehend and the reason why beings remained stuck in samsara. If it was easy to comprehend then enlightenment would be easy, which it obviously is not. So, this shouldn't be a surprise. My understanding of the path is really for us to see this truth of DO, but it takes time. However, it's no impossible. That's the best part...humans have all the capabilities they need to comprehend it, so seize the moment and use your faculties to understand the Dhamma. The Buddha was constantly urging this of us.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby rolling_boulder » Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:46 pm

Thank you all for your input. I have another question:

So with direct knowledge of the noble truths, "Volitional formations" cease, thereby causing consciousness to no longer be sustained in the cycle of rebirth.

I will take the meaning of the "Volitional formations" to be the resultant series of phenomena caused by unskillful actions.

If one's rebirth is determined by his Volitional formations, then why doesn't his consciousness go on even after enlightenment? That is, why doesn't an enlightened being have a stream of kamma preexisting from before the being reached enlightenment? Does achieving enlightenment also entail ridding the world of all wrongdoing perpetrated in the past?

I am a beginner buddhist and these ideas still confuse me. But I appreciate your input, if anyone would like to add anything.
With loving kindness to all beings.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:07 pm

Hi rolling_boulder,

You might find it useful to read these different expositions, which address DO from a variety of viewpoints.

More traditional:

Nyanatiloka Mahathera: III. Paticca-Samuppada: Dependent Origination
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 4.html#ch3

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: The Shape of Suffering: A Study of Dependent Co-arising
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... fsuffering

Less traditional:

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu: Paticcasamuppada: Practical Dependent Origination
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... uppada.htm

:anjali:
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby rolling_boulder » Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:54 pm

Mikenz,

Thank you for the greatly informative post. I will take a while to digest these articles.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:02 pm

Greetings,

Adding to Mike's list...

What's a good book on dependent origination?
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2334

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: The Heart of the Issue

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:33 pm

Thanks Retro, that's a great thread.

This book that you mentioned there I would have put in my list if I could have recalled the author at the time:
Dependent Origination by P. A. Payutto
http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/coarise.htm

It gives a clear and concise explanation of various ways of interpreting DO:
5 Other Interpretations

The description of Dependent Origination given in the previous chapter is that most often found in the scriptures and commentaries. It seeks to explain Dependent Origination in terms of the samsaravatta, the round of rebirth, showing the connections between three lifetimes -- the past, the present and the future.

Those who do not agree with this interpretation, or who would prefer something more immediate, can find alternatives not only in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, where the principle of Dependent Origination is shown occurring in its entirety in one mind moment, but can also interpret the very same words of the Buddha used to support the standard model in a different light, giving a very different picture of the principle of Dependent Origination, one which is supported by teachings and scriptural references from other sources.
...
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby bodom » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:44 pm

Here is a very practical explanation of dependent origination given by Ajahn Chah:

The whole reason for studying the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, is to search for a way to transcend suffering and attain peace and happiness. Whether we study physical or mental phenomena, the mind (citta) or its psychological factors (cetasikas), it's only when we make liberation from suffering our ultimate goal that we're on the right path: nothing less. Suffering has a cause and conditions for its existence.

Please clearly understand that when the mind is still, it's in its natural, normal state. As soon as the mind moves, it becomes conditioned (sankhāra). When the mind is attracted to something, it becomes conditioned. When aversion arises, it becomes conditioned. The desire to move here and there arises from conditioning. If our awareness doesn't keep pace with these mental proliferations as they occur, the mind will chase after them and be conditioned by them. Whenever the mind moves, at that moment, it becomes a conventional reality.

So the Buddha taught us to contemplate these wavering conditions of the mind. Whenever the mind moves, it becomes unstable and impermanent (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha) and cannot be taken as a self (anattā). These are the three universal characteristics of all conditioned phenomena. The Buddha taught us to observe and contemplate these movements of the mind.

It's likewise with the teaching of dependent origination (paticca-samuppāda): deluded understanding (avijjā) is the cause and condition for the arising of volitional kammic formations (sankhāra); which is the cause and condition for the arising of consciousness (viññāna); which is the cause and condition for the arising of mentality and materiality (nāma-rūpa), and so on, just as we've studied in the scriptures. The Buddha separated each link of the chain to make it easier to study. This is an accurate description of reality, but when this process actually occurs in real life the scholars aren't able to keep up with what's happening. It's like falling from the top of a tree to come crashing down to the ground below. We have no idea how many branches we've passed on the way down. Similarly, when the mind is suddenly hit by a mental impression, if it delights in it, then it flies off into a good mood. It considers it good without being aware of the chain of conditions that led there. The process takes place in accordance with what is outlined in the theory, but simultaneously it goes beyond the limits of that theory.

There's nothing that announces, ''This is delusion. These are volitional kammic formations, and that is consciousness.'' The process doesn't give the scholars a chance to read out the list as it's happening. Although the Buddha analyzed and explained the sequence of mind moments in minute detail, to me it's more like falling out of a tree. As we come crashing down there's no opportunity to estimate how many feet and inches we've fallen. What we do know is that we've hit the ground with a thud and it hurts!

The mind is the same. When it falls for something, what we're aware of is the pain. Where has all this suffering, pain, grief, and despair come from? It didn't come from theory in a book. There isn't anywhere where the details of our suffering are written down. Our pain won't correspond exactly with the theory, but the two travel along the same road. So scholarship alone can't keep pace with the reality. That's why the Buddha taught to cultivate clear knowing for ourselves. Whatever arises, arises in this knowing. When that which knows, knows in accordance with the truth, then the mind and its psychological factors are recognized as not ours. Ultimately all these phenomena are to be discarded and thrown away as if they were rubbish. We shouldn't cling to or give them any meaning.


http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Unshakeable_Peace1_2.php

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby pegembara » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:57 am

Here is the heart of the issue, an end to ignorance -

When days and nights pass by, they're not the only things that pass by. The body constantly decays and falls apart, too. The body decays bit by bit, but we don't realize it. Only after it's decayed a lot — when the hair has gone gray and the teeth fall out — do we realize that it's old. This is knowledge on a crude and really blatant level. But as for the gradual decaying that goes on quietly inside, we aren't aware of it.

As a result, we cling to the body as being us — every single part of it. Its eyes are our eyes, the sights they see are the things we see, the sensation of seeing is something we sense. We don't see these things as elements. Actually, the element of vision and the element of form make contact. The awareness of the contact is the element of consciousness: the mental phenomenon that senses sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and all. This we don't realize, which is why we latch onto everything — eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, intellect — as being us or ours. Then, when the body decays, we feel that we are growing old; when it dies and mental phenomena stop, we feel that we die.

Once you've taken the elements apart, though, there's nothing. These things lose their meaning on their own. They're simply physical and mental elements, without any illness or death. If you don't penetrate into things this way, you stay deluded and blind. For instance, when we chant "jara-dhammamhi" — I am subject to death — that's simply to make us mindful and uncomplacent in the beginning stages of the practice. When you reach the stage of insight meditation, though, there's none of that. All assumptions, all conventional truths get ripped away. They all collapse. When the body is empty of self, what is there to latch onto? Physical elements, mental elements, they're already empty of any self. You have to see this clearly all the way through. Otherwise, they gather together and form a being, both physical and mental, and then you latch onto them as being your self.

Once we see the world as elements, however, there's no death. And once we can see that there's no death, that's when we'll really know. If we still see that we die, that shows that we haven't yet seen the Dhamma. We're still stuck on the outer shell. And when this is the case, what sort of Dhamma can we expect to know? You have to penetrate deeper in, to contemplate, taking things apart.

When Conventional Truths Collapse
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... .html#void
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby clw_uk » Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:06 am

To the extent to which (paccaya) the mind has not comprehended (avijja) Truth, habitual drives manifest and condition (paccaya) awareness into a discriminative mode (viññana) that operates in terms of (paccaya) subject and object (nama-rupa) held (paccaya) to exist on either side of the six sense-doors (salayatana). These sense-doors open dependent (paccaya) on contact (phasso) that can arouse (paccaya) varying degrees of feeling (vedana). Feeling stimulates (paccaya) desire (tanha) and, according to (paccaya) the power of desire, attention lingers (upadana) and so personal aims and obsessions develop (bhava) to give (paccaya) (jati) rise to self-consciousness. That self-consciousness, mental or physical, once arisen must follow (paccaya) the cycle of maturing and passing away (jara-marana) with the resultant sense of sadness (soka) varying from sorrow (parideva) to depression (domanassa), to anguish (dukkha) and emotional breakdown (upayasa).

When the mind looks into the sense of loss and comprehends Truth (avijja-nirodha), habitual drives cease (sankhara-nirodha) and the awareness is no longer bound by discrimination (viññana-nirodha); so that the separation of the subject and object is no longer held (nama-rupa-nirodha) and one does not feel trapped behind or pulled out through the six sense-doors (salayatana-nirodha). The sense-doors open for reflection, rather than being dependent on contact (phassa-nirodha) and impingement does not impress itself into the mind (vedana-nirodha). So there is freedom from desire (tanha-nirodha) and attention does not get stuck (upadana-nirodha) and grow into selfish motivations (bhava-nirodha) that center around and reinforce the ego (jati-nirodha). When no personal image is created, it can never bloat up, nor can it be destroyed (jara-maranam-nirodha). So there is nothing to lose, a sense of gladness, uplift, joy and serenity (soka-parideva-dukkha-domanass-upayasa-nirodha).



http://www.amaravati.org/documents/the_ ... 00int.html
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby waterchan » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:54 pm

I find the explanation by Ajahn Chah linked above to be the clearest and most intuitive. He was a monk who literally lived and breathed the Dhamma as well as adhering rigidly and relentlessly to the Vinaya.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: The Heart of the Issue

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:06 pm

Suttanipātapāḷi 3.12. Dvayatānupassanāsuttaṃ Discourse on Dual Realizations wrote:This discourse represents a unique, and quite possibly one of the earliest, presentations on causality given by the Buddha. Here, in a series of dyads accompanied with verse, the Buddha is giving advise to an assembly of bhikkhus on how to properly answer inquiries into the means of self-awakening; giving the main principles of the four ennobling truths, the classic points of dependant origination and other factors descriptive of the arising, behavior and means of cessation of dukkha and the mental habits which cause renewed existence.

The factors of dependant origination are a listing of seven from the classic twelve viz. avijja, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa, phassa, vedanā, taṇhā, upādāna -- nāma-rūpa and saḷāyatana are missing from this order, although nāma-rūpa is mentioned within the specific context of the arising of imaginings (maññati) as the nature of falsehood (mosa), and saḷāyatana is implied as saññā, as is bhavaand the pathway leading to dukkha where we read of the ‘continuous cycle’ (saṃsāra) of birth and death. Each dyad is framed with anecdotal verse as description of the specific, or implied, nature of causality and release.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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