Source:
www.scribd.com/doc/111105657/The-Rice-Seedling-Sutra

Buddhist Philosophy
based on the
Rice-Seedling Sutra

(Salistamba Sutra)

Topga Rinpoche

Twelve Links of Dependent Arising

[This section is in process.]

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Part 1 Q and A

Question: [omitted in the original.]

Answer: There are different ways of regarding the 12 phases in this process of dependent occurrence. There is one presentation where they are divided into three groups in relation to three lifetimes. According to this presentation basic awareness and action which accrue karma relate to a previous life. Then there is the present life which involves consciousness and so on until death. Then there is the future life which relates to rebirth. It can also be seen in the framework of what follows, namely within each and every instance all 12 links or phases of the process of dependent occurrence manifest.

One can look at the process in the context of one's every day life. If one looks at the virtuous actions that one engages in during one day then there is an additional element, namely the element of insight that compels one to engage in virtuous actions. In that case basic unawareness, so to speak, is influenced by or embraced by a proper knowledge or wisdom. Together with that all the other 12 phases of the process of dependent occurrence manifest simultaneously. If one looks at a negative or non-virtuous action the element of insight is not present. That action is purely motivated by basic unawareness or ignorance along with which all the other 11 phases that make up the process of dependent occurrence.

If one looks at a negative action such as taking the life of another being that action involves the simultaneous presence of the 12 phases that makeup the process of dependent occurrence. One cannot say that one phase stops and then the other comes into existence, because that would mean that one has reversed this samsaric process. It would mean that for example basic unawareness stops, meaning it has come to an end. The point is that all 12 phases that make up this process co-exist. It is not the case that the unawareness stops and the afterwards actions which accrue karma take place and so forth. They are all interrelated, they so to speak more or less manifest together.

As these 12 phases that make up the process of dependent occurrence present themselves at the same time of course if one looks at one kind of action some of these links are more predominant than the others, so if you look at a negative situation some of the components will be more predominant and if you look at a virtuous action, again other of these components will be predominant. The strength of them varies from situation to situation.

Question:

Answer: One has to understand that this relationship of cause and effect is such that the first of these 12 phases, namely basic unawareness is so to speak the sustaining cause of all the others. It is the main cause, one cannot say that basic unawareness produces actions and the karma they accrue, but one cannot say that the third phase, namely habitual tendencies which colour consciousness is the product of actions only, because basic unawareness also causes these habitual tendencies which colour consciousness. Basic unawareness is sort of the underlying force of all the other 11 phases. It is the main cause or condition that triggers off the other, however, the others also act as a condition or cause for the phases that follow after them. That is the way in which phases of dependent occurrence are connected to one another. One can on the other hand not say that their relationship would go in a backward direction, so that habitual tendencies that colour consciousness cause actions that accrue karma and in turn create karma. One cannot look at their relationship in that order. As was mentioned yesterday there are direct causes and indirect causes. One should see the relationship between the different phases within that framework.

In relation to this question one first has to understand that there are different obscuring states of mind. Each of these obscuring states of mind has a specific antidote which remedies that obscuration, for example patience remedies anger. Just through virtuous actions in general basic unawareness or ignorance is not suppressed or eradicated. One has to make use of a remedy that directly relates to basic unawareness in the sense that it has the capacity to eradicate basic unawareness. In order to be able to do that one must first recognise basic unawareness, one must be able to pinpoint basic unawareness. That again is very difficult, in fact it is only by means of what is called vajra-like samadhi [1] which one is able to engage in at the 10th Bodhisattva bhumi.2

[1. rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Vajra-like_Samadhi ]

[2. Ten stages on the Mahayana bodhisattva's path of awakening: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhumi_(Buddhism) ]

It is only by this samadhi that one can pinpoint basic unawareness and then apply an antidote that eradicates it. There are different aspects of basic unawareness, there is one called the natural present unawareness. That kind of unawareness is extremely subtle and therefore very difficult to pinpoint or recognise. It is not obvious if one tries to bring such subtle basic unawareness to mind so that one in the mind can see what this subtle unawareness is. One will find that it is very difficult, if not impossible.

On the other hand if one takes an obscuring state of mind such as hatred, that is very easy to bring to mind. It is very obvious. For that reason it is quite easy to apply something which can eradicate that anger. As was said, the antidote for anger or hatred is developing patience, so it is much easier to eradicate that obscuring state of mind because it is easy to recognise, it is easy to pinpoint.

Coming back to the question, it was whether virtuous actions will contribute towards decreasing basic unawareness. Indirectly they will. It is like putting one's capital in the bank and then the interest one earns one does not take out of the bank one reinvests it together with the capital. In this way one's capital will grow. Similarly virtuous actions will contribute towards weakening basic unawareness, but only indirectly.

In relation to this question one first has to understand that there are different obscuring states of mind. Each of these obscuring states of mind has a specific antidote which remedies that obscuration, for example patience remedies anger. Just through virtuous actions in general basic unawareness or ignorance is not suppressed or eradicated. One has to make use of a remedy that directly relates to basic unawareness in the sense that it has the capacity to eradicate basic unawareness. In order to be able to do that one must first recognise basic unawareness, one must be able to pinpoint basic unawareness. That again is very difficult, in fact it is only by means of what is called vajra-like samadhi which one is able to engage in at the 10th Bodhisattva bhumi. It is only by this samadhi that one can pinpoint basic unawareness and then apply an antidote that eradicates it. There are different aspects of basic unawareness, there is one called the natural present unawareness. That kind of unawareness is extremely subtle and therefore very difficult to pinpoint or recognise. It is not obvious if one tries to bring such subtle basic unawareness to mind so that one in the mind can see what this subtle unawareness is. One will find that it is very difficult, if not impossible. On the other hand if one takes an obscuring state of mind such as hatred, that is very easy to bring to mind. It is very obvious. For that reason it is quite easy to apply something which can eradicate that anger. As was said, the antidote for anger or hatred is developing patience, so it is much easier to eradicate that obscuring state of mind because it is easy to recognise, it is easy to pinpoint. Coming back to the question it was if virtuous actions will contribute towards decreasing basic unawareness. Indirectly they will. It is like putting one‟s capital in the bank and then the interest one earns one does not take out of the bank one reinvests it together with the capital. In this way one‟s capital will grow. Similarly virtuous actions will contribute towards weakening basic unawareness, but only indirectly.

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