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Interpreting Dependent Origination - Dhamma Wheel

Interpreting Dependent Origination

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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pink_trike
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Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby pink_trike » Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:27 am

This is an excerpt from this:

http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/coarise2.htm

...entitled "Interpreting Dependent Origination.

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The principle of Dependent Origination has been interpreted in a number of ways, which can be broadly summarized as follows:

1. As a demonstration of life- or world-evolution, based on a literal definition of such phrases as loka-samudaya (arising
of the world) [as in S.II.73].


2. As a demonstration of the arising and cessation of individual life, or individual suffering.

This second division can further be divided into two subcategories:

2.1 Demonstrating the process over a very long period of time, from lifetime to lifetime. This is the more literal interpretation; it is also the explanation most often found in the commentarial texts, where the subject is expanded on in such minute detail that the newcomer is likely to be confused by the plethora of technical terms.

2.2 Demonstrating a process which is continually occurring. Although related to 2.1, this interpretation gives a more profound and practical definition of the terms with emphasis on the present moment, which is considered to be the real objective of the teaching. This kind of interpretation is supported by teachings in numerous Suttas, and in the Abhidhamma Pitaka there are passages which describe the entire Dependent Origination process in one mind moment.[1]

In the first interpretation given above, there are attempts to interpret the principle of Dependent Origination as a world-origin theory, treating ignorance (avijja) as the First Cause and tracing evolution through the whole twelve links. This kind of interpretation makes the teaching of Buddhism seem very similar to other religious teachings and philosophies, which postulate an origination principle, such as God. The interpretations differ only in that the latter teachings describe the birth and existence of the world as the workings of some supernatural force, whereas the teachings of Buddhism, as seen in this interpretation, would explain things as simply a form of evolution proceeding according to the natural laws of cause and effect.

However, this interpretation certainly contradicts the Buddha's teaching, because any teaching or school of thought which shows a world originating from a First Cause is contrary to the principle of conditionality, or Dependent Origination, which clearly states that all things are interdependent, arising continually through the influences of causes and conditions. Any First Cause, be it a Creator God or anything else, is impossible. Interpreting the Dependent Origination cycle as a description of life- or world-evolution can only be feasible when it presents a picture of the universe functioning according to the natural processes of growth and decline, ceaselessly unfolding at the dictates of cause and effect.

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Can someone explain to me specifically why the first interpretation (1.) wouldn't follow the same mechanics (for lack of a better word) described in the final interpretation (2.2)? That is, a process of continually occurring?
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:44 am

Greetings Pink,

Like some kind of scale invariance?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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pink_trike
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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby pink_trike » Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:47 am

Yes, exactly. The author of this commentary is suggesting that the 1. interpretation is inconsistent with the 2.2 interpretation...but I can't see how he's making that leap, and I don't see how it could be true. It seems to me as if he's stretching hard to isolate and restrict dependent origination to just one aspect of phenomena.

As above, so below
As without, so within.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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mikenz66
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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:59 am


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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:40 am

Some nice food for thought.

Is it related to the path and the goal, I wonder?
The best things in life aren't things.


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mikenz66
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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:44 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:50 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:28 am

The best things in life aren't things.


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IanAnd
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Re: Interpreting Dependent Origination

Postby IanAnd » Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:16 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV


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