Anders Honore wrote: retrofuturist wrote:
erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
Ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) conditions kammic formators... but I don't see the relevance of the question.
As Stuka alludes to above, dependent origination is a model of suffering (which is the domain of the Buddha). It is not a model of transmigration, nor is it about the arising and passing away of all phenomena within the universe.
I agree it doesn't depict causation temporally (ie once upon a time ignorance appeared, the mountains and rivers arose and everything sucked from then on), but it nonetheless depicts the structural relationship of body and mind and shows mind-factors to be antecedent to the body.
Transmigration can be quite naturally inferred from this, since it demonstrates that that there are mindcauses that do not arise due to the body (but nonetheless exist co-dependedly on it and hence will conjoin with a new one) and thus will persist after the breakup of the body unless they cease in the present life (such as is the case for arahants). Or 'preceede physical states' if you will.
The right question is indeed, how does suffering and cease, but this ties quite naturally into transmigration, since it is the causes of perpetual transmigration (and thus, the indefinite perpetration of dhukkha) that are uprooted through this.
Now, I would agree with Anders here. It does show the structural relationship of body and mind, and reality too, not merely being a model "of suffering."
To borrow some western philosophical terms as a means of perhaps clarifying the nature of the Twelve Nidanas: Western philosophy beginning with Kant distinguishes between phenomenon (appearances, objects dependent on the senses) and noumenon (objects independent of the senses, in and of themselves, as they really are). From a Buddhist perspective, this distinction is incoherent, since there is no "noumenon," that could be described or discovered apart from that which is dependent on the senses. Abstract philosophy and papanca could be described as speculation
about this noumenon, this "truth somewhere in the sky," but the Twelve Nidanas describe very real phenomenon (so it can be called Buddhist phenomenology), which accounts for all experiences, and wisdom is the correct and clear seeing of phenomenon as they actually are... And from this, one could
infer transmigration if, by transmigration, you mean the rebirth of mind-and-body in such a way that mind-and-body is neither annihilated at death nor continues, but operates in accordance with the Twelve Nidanas, among which there is no self to be found.
The term "perpetual transmigration," is problematic, possibly misleading. The term "perpetual," is etymologically related to "permanent," and "transmigration," generally implies a reincarnation of a self or soul. You shouldn't even subtly suggest that there is eternal reincarnation. It always seems clearer to me to be much more specific and relate the teaching to impermanence: that the impermanent
cycle of suffering (impermanent based on liberation, not impermanent on death) manifests an impermanent life, which eventually has an impermanent death, until a new impermanent life and death is formed, in accordance with the action of the previous iteration.