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 56 of pdf]

V. Now we come to the fifth defining characteristic of this process, which sums up the twelve phases of this process of dependent occurrence in terms of how many of them act as a specific cause. The twelve phase can be summed up in four causes.

For of the twelve phases of the process of dependent occurrence function as principal causes, which encompass and determine it. The four are basic unawareness, wanting, actions and their accrued karma and the formation of tendencies which colour consciousness.

As we saw the twelve phases can be summed up as four principal causes. The two phases wanting and taking hold of are both of the nature of attachment, hence they are both counted as just wanting. Actions and the karma they accrue and impulsion into the next phase of existence are both of the nature of action, hence they are included in the category called actions. The remaining phases are included within the category consciousness.

It is important to recognise these different phases of the process of dependent occurrence. If one does, one will be able to remedy them using an antidote, which in turn will result in that one will perfect the qualities of the path. As was said, the twelve phases of this process can be summed up as four principle causes. The ones that were mentioned. In terms of being able to give them up, it is important to recognise what they are.

One should then investigate these for principal causes in order to be able to see what their functions are. The sutra says: The coloured consciousness by its very nature acts like a seed.

Action and their accrued karma, by their very nature act like fertile soil. The coloured consciousness is planted in the field of actions.

Basic unawareness and wanting by their very nature act as states which obscure mind. AS we saw coloured consciousness is regarded as a seed. A seed has no potential to grow into something without capacity. In terms of consciousness the capacity is obscuring states of mind and wanting.

If there are no actions and no obscuring states of mind, consciousness will not be produced. These act as causes for producing coloured consciousness. Actions based in these obscuring states of mind are responsible for the formation of coloured consciousness ,which acts as a seed.

Up till now we have discussed these aspects of the process of dependent occurrence in the context of cause. The following explanation relates to the context of conditioning influences. The sutra says that these actions and the karma they accrue act as fertile soil for the coloured consciousness. The fertile soil in a field it the conditions which acts as that which nourishes coloured consciousness.

Wanting acts like water for the seed that is coloured consciousness. Just as water nourishes a seed , wanting nourishes coloured consciousness, is the conditioning influence for it.

Basic unawareness implants the seed that is coloured consciousness. That is how ignorance or basic unawareness functions in relation to coloured consciousness.

Basic unawareness is what fails to perceive minds true nature. It is what prevents us form perceiving minds true nature. It produces a state of not knowing, which results in the development of various kinds of obscuring states of mind. These obscuring states of mind produce attachment, which as it develops becomes stringer and stronger to the point where the phase of impulsion into the next phase of existence occurs. In order to counteract this process it is necessary to recognise each of these elements. One should recognise basic unawareness, so that one understands what it is. One should recognise obscuring states of mind so that one knows what they are. One should contemplate the nature of attachment and how it causes impulsion into the next phase of existence. Contemplating this process will weaken that process to the point where one is at the stage of vajralike samadhi, which uproots this samsaric process. One can liken this process to digging a ditch around a tree. If you dig up the earth around the tree you will damage its roots and finally the tree will die. Similarly, if you contemplate the nature of this process, you will weaken it to the point that it will die away.

Without the conditioning influences that we went through the see coloured consciousness cannot exist.

It is again pointed out in the context of these four principal causes that the process of dependent occurrence does not involve intentional creation. The sutra says: Actions and their accrued karma do not intentionally act as fertile soil for the seed that is consciousness. Wanting does not intentionally act like water for the seed that is consciousness. Basic unawareness does not intentionally implant the seed that is consciousness. The seed that is coloured consciousness is not an intentional product of these causes.

Nevertheless, the seed coloured consciousness is firmly supported by the soil, actions and their accrued karma. Wanting acts like water for the seed, consciousness. Basic unawareness acting like fertiliser nourishes that seed. The entrance of the coloured consciousness into the womb of the mother results in the fresh production of the non-material skandhas and the physical form of the fetus.

These freshly produced skandhas and the physical form of the fetus do not occur of themselves, nor do they occur through the action of some other entity. Nor doe they occur through the combination of the two above. The non-material skandhas and the physical form of the fetus are not the creations of Ishvara or any other supreme being, nor are they the products of the transformation which occurs through the agency of a truly existent entity such as immense time. Similarly the non-material skandhas and the physical form of fetus do not appear merely because it is their nature to do so, nor in dependence upon any creator, nor in the absence of any cause,

However, when the proper conditions are present, such as the male and female copulating, doing so at the time when the female is most fertile a.s.o., when all required causes and conditions are present, the four non-material skandhas and the physical form of the fetus are produced. However, they are not productions of a creator. They do not involve the action of possession. They are not under the control of a creating agent. They are like space, empty by nature.

They are like space in that by nature they are empty of inherent existence. Their emptiness is their natural condition. However, when these causes and conditions comes together, something is produced. In that context one should understand that they are of the nature of an illusion, they are illusionlike. Hence, they are spoken of as being like space, empty by nature.

When all required causes and conditions, which by nature are illusionlike, are present, the consciousness enters the womb of the future mother and the seed, which is consciousness, develops into the four non-material skandhas and the physical form of the fetus, so that they are produced anew.

Rinpoche will give a short explanation of karma, actions and their effect. In terms of this are different types. There is the type of action, which produces a result in this very life. There is the type of action, which will produce the experiencing of its result in the very next life. Then there are actions which will ripen after a few lifetimes.

In terms of karma there are two aspects. There is the type of action which will propel one into a certain type of existence. It so to speak flings you into a certain kind of existence. There is the aspect of karma, which relates to your environment. In terms of the first aspect, virtue propels you into a superior existence. An existence where you find happiness and good circumstances. Non-virtue propels you into inferiors existences, entailing a great deal of suffering.

The second aspect one finds in both inferior and superior existences. There may be a person who is born into a superior existence, however, the second aspects of karma, relating to his present situation, may have been the actions that brought about his present situation may also involve non-virtue, even though he is born in a superior kind of existence. An example of that would be a person, who is born as a human being, however, he may be handicapped or physically deformed or anything else like that, which indicates the presence of previous no-virtuous actions.

There may be a sentient being, whose negative actions propel him into a rebirth in one of the lower existences. However, the second aspect of karma may bring about the result of good circumstances, such as being wealthy. An example of that would be being born as naga. As a naga, you are born into an inferior type of existence. However, nagas are said to be immensely wealthy. Their circumstances, their living standard, their environment is the result of virtuous actions.

At the beginning there was a mention of three types of karma. One, which you experience in this life. One ,where the actions that caused it occur in the very next life and one, where you experience the result after a few lifetimes. The Abhidharma mentions a fourth type, which is as follows: It is not certain that one will experience the result of the action. One may or may not. It is uncertain whether or not one will undergo the karmic effect of the action.

In terms of an action, there are different conditions that determine how serious the actions is. If one takes the action of taking another beings life, that may occur accidentally, which means that one didn't have the intention to do so a.s.o. Hence, what is at hand is an action which does not include all conditions for it to be considered as a serious action. Another type of action is where the conditions, such as having the motivation to do the actions a.s.o. are present. These are considered more serious in that the results they produce will be stronger than the result of the first type.

There is the first type. One does something, however, it is done without an intention to do so, such as E.g., dreaming that one takes the life of another being, When dreaming this, there is no intention to take the life of someone. Similarly, one may be forced to do so. If one is forced to take the life of someone else, there is no intention on the part of the person to do so. Also in terms of the Vajrasattva practise, by doing this meditation, one may weaken a karmic result.

There may be the situation, where the individual intends to take the life of someone else. He plans how to do it a.s.o., but actually never does it. It never happens. Someone has the intention to do something. There is the intention, however, that intention does not come to fruition, he doesn't do it.

The third aspect of karma, where both are present, the intention to do something and it is done, such as stealing something E.g.,

There are certain actions that one will have to undergo the karmic result of. In that respect there is the aspect of time. The time between the action being done and the result of it being experienced.

For example an action done in this life. One may experience the result in the same life, so it is very short time between the action and experiencing the result. Then there is the action, where you experience the result in the very next life. That is a longer period of time between the action and its result. Then the sort of action, where you experience the result after a few lifetimes. Again there is an even longer period of time, before you experience the result of the action.

That related to actions, where one without doubt will experience the results. However, there is a difference in time. The time between the action and the experiencing of the result.

This will be explained in detail in the teachings next week. It is just to given an outline of what will be explained.

Q and A - p. 58 of pdf

Question: Is there a system whether karma comes to ripen or not?

Answer: It is certain that you will experience the results of an action, that you did and that you intended to do. However, it is not certain that you will experience the result of an action that you intended to do, but never did.

Question: We keep in mind our plan to murder a certain person, but we never came to do it. In that case the effect will not come to ripen. However, on the Mahayana-path it is always recommended to do wishing prayers, due to which one will be able to accomplish the benefit of beings. If there is no result, why do we do them? It seems to be not a real activity taking place, but merely something happens in our mind, either to kill or to help someone. Answer: The intention to help someone in the context of bodhicitta is different from the person just thinking about helping someone and not doing it, because it the person has developed bodhicitta, there is awareness of the person one wants to help as having been ones father or mother. The mental attitude is different. However, the capacity to accomplish this wish to help others depends upon how you develop the power of your samadhi. There may be the intention to harm someone, however one doesn't come to do it. The intention to harm is a negative state of mind and will result in this negative tendency.

Bodhicitta is the same. Even though one just wishes to help others will create positive tendencies in ones mind.

Question: In general the whole world in a projection of our mind. Doesn't that contradict the explanations with respect to karma? It anyhow just mind. Whether I commit an action or whether I simply wish to kill someone. Both is my mind only. The effect should be the same, since it is a mental projection only.

Answer: If an individual has direct realisation of everything as merely mind, then the individual will not take the life of someone else. If someone has carefully looked upon what is mind, he would not commit a non-virtuous action. In terms of all phenomena being merely mind, this one can arrive at a definitive understanding of either through the process of meditation or though studies of that viewpoint. However, in both cases there must be a personal experience of the truth of this. As was said, such a person, who has experienced the truth of this, will not engage in non-virtuous actions. This is not the case with everyone. It is not that all people have perception of that all phenomena are merely mind. If one doesn't have that perception, it means that one will take outer objects to be truly existent and that one will take oneself as an individual to be truly existent. That in turn will produce different thoughts of attachment and aversion, pain, pleasure a.s.o., as a result of which the intention to take the life of someone will occur and will be done. That negative process relates to relative truth. It relates to the process of dependent occurrence. It will produce a certain result without fail, because of the lack of the perception of what is in fact the case, namely a person that has understood that all phenomena are merely mind, either trough meditating or through developing an understanding of that viewpoint. Once someone has developed an understanding of that viewpoint, that in itself is not sufficient. The person needs to cultivate that understanding to an extend where it becomes a living experience. In that way one may determine whether phenomena are merely mind or not.

Question: What can I do, when an insect appears in my flat?

Answer: Do whatever you think is best.

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