Buddhist Philosophy based on the Rice-Seedling Sutra

(Salistamba Sutra)

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Topga Rinpoche

Twelve Links of Dependent Arising

Buddha statue

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[page 49 of pdf]

Today the different aspects of cause, conditioning influences and effects will be explained.

There are six aspects of 'cause'.

1. The first aspect relates to compounded phenomena that serve as a cause in that they do not obstruct the production of something else. The Abhidharmakosha gives the following simile to describe what is meant by this general definition of cause. A king who looks after the welfare of his subjects, serves as a cause for their well-being. Even though the king is not the direct cause for their well-being, he serves as a cause for their well-being, in that he has no intention to harm his subjects. He has the opposite intention ,namely looking after their welfare.

2. The second aspect of cause speaks of co-existing causes, where there is a mutual dependence between the different causes. What is at hand is a group of causes that co-exist and that are mutually dependent. That relates to E.g., the nature of something and the phenomenon itself, such as a vase, which is E.g., impermanent. Another example is the mind and mental events.

These causes are mutually dependent. what is as hand is that they act as a group so to speak. Even though one of these causes in the group may not produce any of the other, they do co-exist and they are mutually dependent.

There is a need for a specific group of causes to coexist and interact in order to produce something. If one of the causes in the group is lacking, the phenomenon, that would otherwise be produced, would not be produced.

3. The third category is cause consistent with its effect. Here cause and effect are of the same type. Such as a virtuous actions originating with a virtuous attitude or a barley seed growing into a barley plant.

4. There are five functional co-relations in terms of cause and effect. Cause and effect share the same basis, referent, observable characteristic, time and stuff or essence. That involves five functional co-relations with alike basis, alike referent, a.s.o.

5. Another aspect where cause and effect are alike is that obscuring states of mind produce other obscuring states of mind. Obscuring states of mind are a cause that produce other obscuring states of mind, the effect.

6. Cause as the potential that brings about the ripening of a result. That relates to the relationship between action and the effect that the action produces. Action contaminated by obscuring states act as a cause that brings about a result that is also contaminated by obscuring states. That relates to both virtuous and non-virtuous actions.

These six aspects of 'cause' relate to the different aspects of karma, that certain actions will be the cause for certain results.

For example co-existing causes and cause consistent with its effect are not very different when looking at them. However, they do relate to different types of actions that will produce certain results. In term of karma one needs to give up actions that produce karmic results. In order to enable individuals to recognise the different actions and the associated stages, these different divisions were presented.

However, there is no essential difference between them.

We now come to the five types of effect.

1. The first is called a ripened effect. It is the effect produced by a specific action in the past. In terms of the different aspects of cause there was the cause of potential that brings about the ripening of a result. This is the corresponding result. It involves all the different experiences of pain, pleasure a.s.o. in samsara.

2. The effect which acts as the capacity to bring about something. That relates to the first aspect of the six aspects of cause, where something serves as a cause. A king, who serves as the cause for the welfare of his subjects. The king has the capacity to bring about the welfare of his subjects. Effect here relates to that capacity of having the power to bring about an effect.

3. Effects consistent with their cause. In terms of the six aspects of cause, they relate to number three, cause consistent with its effects, and number five, which was more or less the same, though the context was specific in that it related to obscuring states of mind producing other obscuring states of mind. There is the same relationship, consistency between cause and effect.

4. Effects in relation to the following two aspects of cause: co-existing causes and causes involving five functional co-relations. There is an analogy given to describe this kind of effect. An individuals function cannot be separated from the individual, similarly cause and effect in this category cannot be distinguished as separate entities.

5. The fifth aspect of effect relates to an effect brought about by an individual's analysis of something to the extend that what has been analysed ceases to exist. That relates to the process where insight separates states of mind that are to be given up from mind and as a result a state of mind free form what is to be given up it attained.

One shouldn't always understand effect as something that is in all cases produced by a specific cause, such as seed producing a sprout. If one looks at the fifth aspect, where insight is attained by means of relying on the path, the effect, insight, is attained in dependence upon having cultivated the path.

Heading??? The four aspects of condition:

1. Causal condition relates back to the first aspect of cause, where something serves as the cause for producing something else.

2. The second aspect of condition is called the immediately preceding condition. It is the immediately preceding instance of mind's continuum, which produces the next instance of mind's continuum.

In dependence upon this, one continually accumulates karma.

An Arhat's last instance of samsaric mindstream is not called an immediately preceding condition, because it does not produce another samsaric instance of mind. The Arhat, when attaining Arhat-hood, attains insight or wisdom which is different from the nature of the instance of mind that preceded it.

If someone goes beyond samsara, this conditioning influence will cease to operate once the individual is beyond samsara, the samsaric mind-stream is interrupted.

3. The third condition is the external object that serves as a condition in a perceptual situation.

4. The conditioning influence based in a capacity. It relates back to the first aspect of cause, where we saw that something served as a cause for something else to be produced. It is that capacity of producing something in the context of a conditioning influence.

These teachings on causes, effects and conditions in their various aspects were given in order to make clear that all phenomena are dependent occurrences. Phenomena are brought about by a variety of causes and conditions.

As we saw, the sixth aspect of cause was cause as a ripening factor. That aspect was taught in order to make clear that a specific action will bring about a specific result . Thus one speaks of cause as ripening factor.

The third aspect of cause, where cause is consistent with its effect illustrates that a cause, without fail, will produce an effect similar to it.

Cause, in the context of obscuring states of mind producing other obscuring states of mind was taught in order to make clear that obscuring states of mind are not part of minds true nature. Obscuring states of mind are fleeting phenomena produced by other obscuring states of mind. Therefore there is the possibility to give these up, to remove obscurations.

The second aspect, involving coexisting causes, a group of causes producing something. That aspect of cause was taught in order to counteract the idea that a cause is something real and solid, is something involving the intentional creation of something else. When speaking of a group of causes that co-exist, there is not a possibility of something real and solid or any intentional creation.

The fourth aspect involving five functional co-relations counteracts the idea that mind is a solid entity, that mind is an unchanging solid or single entity involving intentional creation. By pointing out that it is a process involving many components, such as mind and mental events, these misperceptions are counteracted.

The first aspect, where one speaks of something serving as a cause for the production of something else, sums up all the different aspects in a causal relationship. It points to the fact that all phenomena are the products of a principal cause in combination with conditioning influences.

The different aspects of effect: The first is called a ripened effect. It is taught in order to point out that everything is the product of previous actions.

The aspect of effects consistent with their causes was taught in order to point out that cause and effect are always related in that way. That an effect will be similar to what caused it.

The fourth aspect of effect was taught in order to point out that it is not the case that only previous actions determine a situation or something. Present actions will act as causes for yet other effects. The analogy given was the function of a person and the person itself, these two one cannot really separate. Similarly, actions continually produce effects. One should not relate all situations to just previous actions.

These different aspects are included in the second aspect, where one spoke of effects as a capacity. All compounded phenomena can be included in this category.

The second, where the effect relates to a capacity that is simply the absence of obstructing the production of something, includes all the other aspects. It is a general definition of effect.

As was said, it includes all conditioned phenomena. Liberation is referred to as an unconditioned phenomenon. However, it comes about in dependence upon having practised the path. That relates to the fifth aspect.

These different aspects describe or illustrate the relationships between cause and effect in terms of mind and outer phenomena. All this is in described in the Gateway to Knowledge.

Q and A - page 51 of pdf

Question: Referring to the fourth kind of cause, could you please give another example to illustrate the meaning?

Answer: Mind and mental events involve five functional co-relations. In any perceptional situation are different elements. There is the basis, being the sense organ, the referent, the characteristic of the referent, the duration of time of that perception and its substance so to speak. Mind and mental event both arise in dependence upon the same basis, the sense organ. They also have the same referent. They perceive the same observable characteristic of that referent. They occur simultaneously, so their duration is the same and they are made up so to speak of the same stuff in that they are both of a mental nature.

Question: Are the students questions the conditioning influence of the following teaching? Is it responsible for making the teaching in a certain direction?

Answer: The sounds of the words in the question will influence the person who is going to answer. However, the thought behind the question is not evident to anyone. It is the sound of the question that influences the direction of the teaching, not the thought.

Question: Are there habitual tendencies of the way of questioning inherited from the father and mother?

Answer: If one has difficulties with posing questions, that may happen because of different things. Such as that one hasn't really understood what is being discussed. If is not clear to one it is difficult to ask a question. If there is sort of a lack of comprehension of the subject matter it will be difficult to ask the question. However, there are no inherited genes so to speak that make you unable to ask questions.

Question: The sixth point of causes the potential of the ripening. In every case there is a result, but couldn't it happen that without other conditions, these never would ripen?

Answer: If one takes the obscuring state hatred, in its manifest form it produces karmic imprint, a habitual tendency in ones mind, which later on will ripen into a certain situation, when specific causes and conditions come together. The different stages in that process have each their specific causes and conditions. A variety of causes and conditions is always needed for something to manifest or be produced.

Question: From among the five types of results, one is the one consistent with its cause, the fourth one. Could you explain that again in detail?

Answer: Another interpretation of the fourth aspect of effect is that one speaks of effects that arise in dependence upon the individual. If we go back to the two aspects of cause that relate to this effect, the one called co-existing causes, which involves mind and mental events and the aspect of cause involving five functional co-relations in relation to mind and mental events. Hence the effects produced by these two aspects of cause always relate to the individual. Therefore one may speak of it as effects related to the individual.

Question: How is it possible that a high realised being is able to take away karma from others. Like Karmapa taking away the illnesses of others?

Answer: There was this aspect, which mentioned that not all is the product of precious actions. There are what one may call circumstantial conditions that may suddenly produce a disease E.g., If one is talking about a Bodhisattva helping one to overcome his disease, it is very difficult to recognise whether the disease is causes by previous karma or circumstantial conditions that appear suddenly. However, a Bodhisattva may have the capacity to influence the course of events, so that the disease can be pacified E.g.,

Question: Looking at the answer given now, you differentiated between karma that goes back to previous lifetimes, accumulated due to negative actions on the one hand and temporary difficult conditions, which might cause a certain disease. But also in the latter aspect, temporary difficult conditions, isn't that also some kind of karma, because also the temporary conditions must go back to previous karma, otherwise they wouldn't occur?

Answer: The Bodhisattva, such as Karmapa, in order to be able to influence the disease of someone, must know what its cause is. Whether it is caused by previous actions or whether it is a disease caused by circumstantial conditions. Once there is knowledge of what has caused the disease, the Bodhisattva is able to influence the disease, so that it may be pacified. But it is necessary for the Bodhisattva to be able to perceive what has caused the disease. Circumstantial conditions are not related to previous actions, they are merely circumstantial. If a disease would be purely caused by previous actions, it is your fate to be sick. It would follow that then we couldn't cure it with medication. Nothing is to a hundred percent karma, there is always the aspect of circumstantial conditions. Otherwise you could not change anything. If one believes that previous actions are responsible for everything in ones life, it follows that Rinpoche speaking here, getting up from the chair, walking away and so on, all these insignificant actions would be predetermined. This is not the case. It is not that each and every aspect of ones live is predetermined by previous actions.

Question: Anger could be a cause or a conditional influence for an action. Where do I have more influence. Is it more connected to being causal or conditional?

Answer: Anger is an effect produced by a combination of causes and conditions. If one recognises what the cause and condition that bring about anger are, one may pacify anger in that one does not give rise to it, having seen the causes and conditions for it.

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