[page 52 of pdf]
II. Apparently there has previously a mentions of five characteristics. Today we have come to the second which deals with presenting the different definitions on the twelve phases of the process of dependent occurrence. The word-meaning of each of phase of the process of dependent occurrence is given.
1. First the definition of basic unawareness basic unawareness is given. The sutra says: Basic unawareness consists in vast blindness. If one is unaware of something, it means that one fails to perceive something. One, in this case, fails to perceive what is in fact the case, namely the true nature of things, because of vast blindness, which obscures ones mind.
2. This vast blindness is the condition that brings about actions that accrue karma. That is what is meant by actions occur and karma accrues.
3. The third phase relates to coloured consciousness, which has the function of perceiving distinctly objects of perception.
4. This coloured consciousness it is the basis for the four non-material skandhas and the physical form of the fetus.
As we have seen before, the four non-material skandhas are referred to as name and form. They are referred to with their names, because they cannot be directly perceived in that they are immaterial. A name is a basis in dependence upon which individuals are able to distinguish between different phenomena. It is a basis for distinguishing between one phenomenon and another phenomenon. There names such as tree, stone, fire, earth a.s.o. These names are the basis in dependence upon which the individual is able to relate to these different phenomena. In that sense ones speaks of names being a support for that process.
5. The doors for perception and cognition are the faculties which serve as the media for the arising and development of sense perception and cognition.
6. Contact means just that: contact. It is quite obvious, so no elaborate definition is necessary.
7. The experience that results from contact is sensation.
8. Addiction to sensation makes for wanting. It is like being thirsty. Attachment to sensation produces wanting.
9. To insist on retaining hold is taking hold of. As a result of this phase the individual accumulates karma.
10. Ones actions generate ones samsaric experience, thus one speaks of impulsion into the next phase of existence.
11. Rebirth is the recurrence of the skandhas.
12. Aging is the process of these skandhas playing themselves out.
The disintegration of the skandhas is death. Agony is defined as being consumed by the agony of being subject to death. Being tormented by the agony of being subject to death is expressed in words, which is called keening. Physical suffering is defined as physical pain, that which harms the physical body Mental pain is called mental suffering. It is that which affects one mind. States of mental disturbance are called psychological turmoil.
III. The next part gives a description of how these twelve phases are linked with one another.
Previously in the commentary of Kamalashila, when speaking of basic unawareness, there has been mention of the mistaken notion of an individual self. The definition which we go through now relates to both the individual and other phenomena, believing that all phenomena entail a self-entity.
1. Basic unawareness is failure to realise what is in fact the case. When speaking of what is in fact the case, one speaks of an unmistaken understanding. In place of such understanding there is an inverted understanding, which means that the individual fails to perceive the essencelessness of both the individual and other phenomena. That failure is called inverted understanding.
As was said basic unawareness is the failure to perceive what is in fact the case. It is an inverted understanding in that the individual fails to perceive what is in fact the case, namely that both the individual and other phenomena lack inherent existence, they are beyond conceptual framework. They are empty of inherent existence. Failing to perceive this produces an inverted understanding, which is not knowing that phenomena, both the individual and other phenomena are essenceless, insubstantial and unreal. However, when saying not knowing does not imply that there is no awareness whatsoever. What is implied is the failure to perceive what is in fact the case.
Inverted understanding is a state of not knowing. When speaking of an inverted understanding one does not speak of a mistaken understanding in the sense that one fails to understand something as a result of analysis. When looking at the notions of a truly existent individual and of truly existent phenomena, there is the failure to perceive that in fact both lack an essence, are empty of inherent existence. That mistaken notion or inverted understanding is not a result of a process of analysis. It relates to a situation, where an individual has applied no examination at all to the nature of reality. It is simply a state of not knowing what is in fact the case.
The individual fails to perceive what is in fact the case. It is possible to perceive the true nature of phenomena, but due to basic unawareness the individual fails to do so. The individual is unaware of what is in fact the case. In that sense it is a mistaken or inverted understanding.
2. The presence of basic unawareness, defined as vast blindness, triggers off action and the karma they accrue. There are different types virtuous, non-virtuous a.s.o. When there is such basic unawareness actions occur and karma accrues.
When there is such basic unawareness present actions occur and karma accrues. Actions and their accrued karma are of three types: Actions which accrue merit, actions which fail to accrue merit actions which accrue karma that inevitably results in rebirth in the two higher realms of samsara.
3. Actions which accrue merit result in a colouring of consciousness, which tends toward merit. A virtuous actions sows a seed so to speak in the individuals consciousness so that it tends towards accomplishing virtue.
A question may arise: If basic unawareness is an inverted understanding, how come an individual with basic unawareness would practise virtue or virtuous actions?
In terms of basic unawareness, an inverted understanding, there are two aspects: The failure to perceive the relationship between cause and effect and the failure to perceive what is in fact the case.
When speaking of meritorious or virtuous actions. There are virtuous action that are contaminated by obscuring states of mind, there are based in obscuring states of mind. Such actions produce positive potential or merit. However, they will not produce perception of the two aspects of essencelessness, the fact that the individual and all phenomena are essenceless, insubstantial and unreal. Even though basic unawareness is present, the individual may engage in virtuous actions, however, these virtuous action are contaminated by, or based in obscuring states of mind.
Actions, which do not accrue merit, result in a colouring of consciousness which fails to tend towards merit.
Actions, which result in rebirth in the two higher realms of samsara, produce a corresponding colouring of consciousness.
4. The physical form of the fetus and the four non-material skandhas, being the skandha of sensation, distinction, mental events and consciousness, arise from and coexist with the coloured consciousness. This is what is meant by the four non-material skandhas and physical form occurring due to the colouring of consciousness.
5. When the four non-material skandhas and the physical from continue to develop, the six sensory-cognitive faculties develop. These six serve as the media for the arising and expanding of consciousness.
6. In dependence upon the six sensory-cognitive faculties six forms of contact occur. This is what is meant by contact due to the conditioning influence of the six sensory-cognitive faculties.
7. As contact occurs, a corresponding sensation occurs. That may be a sensation of either pain or pleasure E.g., This is what is meant by sensations due to the conditioning influence of contact.
8. One undergoes different types of sensations such as longing, attachment, intense attachment. That undergoing of different types of sensations is what is meant by wanting due to the conditioning influence of sensations.
9. Form experiencing sensations, from longing, attachment and intense attachment, comes an intention not to relinquish that what one finds attractive, an intention never to let of that which gives one pleasure. This is what is meant by taking hold of due to the conditioning influence of wanting.
10. This intention results in actions of body, speech and mind, which impel one into the next phase of existence due to the conditioning influence of having taken hold.
11. Such actions, which result in the fresh production of the five skandhas are what is meant by rebirth due to the conditioning influence of impulsion into the next phase of existence.
12. Rebirth, the recurrence of the five skandhas involves the maturation of the skandhas and the playing out and the final disintegration of them. This is what is meant by ageing and death due to the conditioning influences of rebirth.
Thus the process of dependent occurrence involves phases where cause follows cause and conditions follows conditions in a progressive series as was described above. These dependent occurrences are not lasting in that they come into being and come to an end. However, dependent occurrences do endure and persist in that the continuum of dependent occurrence is ongoing and in that sense lasting. Furthermore, dependent occurrences are no ones intentional creations.
On the other hand dependent occurrences are not unconditioned or uncaused.
Dependent occurrences are neither uncaused nor unconditioned.
Dependent occurrences are not events occurring in the subjective experience of some creator in that they are not intentional creations.
The process of dependent occurrence does not come to an end in that for as long as there are proper causes, effects will ensue.
The process of dependent occurrence is not subject to destruction. It doesn't just fade away all the time. As long as the proper causes and conditions are present, dependent occurrences will arise.
The process of dependent occurrence is unstoppable. For as long as the proper conditions for it coming to an end are not present, the process is unstoppable. It comes to an end when an individual E.g., attains the state of an Arhat. That it its opposing or unfavourable condition, for as long as this condition is not present, this process does not come to an end.
The process of dependent occurrence has no beginning in time. It has been functioning since time out of mind. It is like the continuous flow of water in a stream, ongoing and uninterrupted.
For as long as causes and conditions are present, it is ongoing and uninterrupted.
The questions of the Germans are like the process of dependent occurrence, unceasing.
Q and A - page 55 of pdf
Question: What are the distinctions between positive karma and merit? Answer: Positive karma is called merit.
Question: Contaminated actions might be of a positive nature, merit accrues but this does not lead to realisation of the true nature of reality, because it is based on the notion of a self. Is that correct? Answer: For an action to produce perception of the essencelessness of the individual and other phenomena, it is necessary that any virtuous action, such as generosity is embraced by the understanding of that the person who gives, what is given and to whom that is given lack inherent existence. Perception of that will be a cause for attaining perception of the essencelessness of the individual and all phenomena.
Question: With respect to positive actions: They can either be accumulated just because one wants to help others in a general sense or they might be accumulated, because it is based on bodhihitta. In a Mahayana sense or in a general sense. In both cases, it is contaminated. There is a failure to realise the essencelessness of phenomena. Is there a difference with respect to the result of these actions?
Answer: If your actions is based in bodhicitta, the effect never comes to an end, because it involves the intention to free all beings from samsara. Beings in samsara are in fact innumerable and one resolves to do whatever one can to free them from that suffering. Until samsara has been emptied, one resolves to work for their benefit and one will give anything that one can give with respect to body, speech and mind. An actions based in that intention produces a result which never comes to an end. One vows to work for the welfare of beings until samsara has been emptied. A true Bodhisattva continually practises the six paramitas in order to achieve this goal. It is not the case that he practises the paramitas one day and the following not.
Question: What does neutral type of karma mean? Is it in relation with celestial beings?
Answer: Actions that result inevitably in rebirth in either of the two higher realms, the realm of form or the realm of no form.
Question: Are actions that fail to be virtuous just negative actions?
Question: What does form and formless realm mean? How do neutral actions lead to such a rebirth?
Answer: The kind of action that results in rebirth in these two realms, when looking at mind and its workings, these actions do not involve a great variety mental events, such as the fifty-one that were explained the other day. Hence that type of action does not involve a great deal of what one may call mental movement or mental activity. If you look at beings in the formless realm, there is hardly any mental activity that involves conceptualising, something perceived a.s.o.
Question: If there is no ignorance, how can a Bodhisattva be reborn as a human?
Answer: A Bodhisattva free form basic unawareness can take rebirth in a physical form out of his compassion. However, as we know there are ten stages of Bodhisattvas. The first seven are referred to as the impure stages. During these stages the Bodhisattvas are not completely free from basic unawareness.
Actually in depends on the individual situations. One cannot give one framework and say it applies to all individuals. There are different situations. F. ex. it is said that an individual who has attained the third stage of the path of unification will not again be reborn in any of the three lower existences. If one looks at a Bodhisattva on any of the ten bhumis, there may be the effect of a specific past action, that makes him reborn in a certain form. It varies from individual to individual. It can't be generalised.
Question: Concerning the formless realms: Is there only the skandha of consciousness left?
Answer: Rinpoche thinks it is actually only the skandhas of consciousness left. If one wants to know for sure, one has to study the meaning of the three realms. If there is time after the sutra, it will be explained.
IV. Thus the process of dependent occurrence involves twelve phases wherein cause follows cause and conditions follow conditions in a progressive series as was described in above.
Dependent occurrences are not lasting, however, dependent occurrences doe endure and persist. Dependent occurrences are no ones intentional creations, however, dependent occurrences are conditioned in that they are created by causes and conditions.
Dependent occurrences are not uncaused. They are not unconditioned.
They are not events occurring in the subjective experience of some creator. The process of dependent occurrence does not come to an end by itself.
The process of dependent occurrence does not just fade away over time and it is unstoppable. It has been functioning since time out of mind. It is like the continuous flow of water in a stream, ongoing and uninterrupted.
That concludes the explanation of the fourth defining characteristic of the process of dependent occurrence.