Dependent Co-origination

From Zenwiki

means that of all phenomena, i.e., all phenomena are dependently co-originated on causes and conditions(ex. plants originates/germinate/grow on a seed and water/air/light/gravity/temperature, etc. and consciousness/perception is co-originated on sense organs and objects. when perception/consciousness is analyzed to be originated on contact/conjunction of the sense organ and objects: core portion of the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination, most likely the initial awakening of mutual/co-dependent origination, applied and examined to other cases, leading to the universal law of Dependent Co-origination). The simplest formula is "when A is provided, B originates" or simply "when A is, B is."

The most standard/popular one is the Twelve-fold (lit. limbed/part) Dependent Co-origination as in the following (composed of the three major dependent origination of 1) that of consciousness/perception/mind/mental function, 2) that of suffering (directly from craving, tanhā, lit. thirst, as if one may want to drink even sea water at shipwreck, even if one knows it will cause more thirst), 3) that of samsara (transmigration/state change due to appropriation/identification of the body-mind complex as the self, thus one becomes sick, old, dead, later identified as the Five/Six Ways/Paths of hell being, devilish being, hungry ghost: originally dead one, beastly being, human being, celestial being, etc.. lit., complete/constant flow/impermanence, applied meaning as in the Hindu idea of samsara, transmigration: involvement/involution into flow/impermanence/identification, in this meaning upādāna,, fuel, which becomes fire in involvement/application and identification/state, is important - degrees of involvement/application/identification make one in the mental state or actual being with its world).

The original word is Pali pațicca sam-uppāda, Sanskrit pratītya sam-utpāda, literally, "going (icca/itya) against (pați/prati) total (sam) origination (uppāda/utpāda), which is the best description of perception/consciousness/mind originating depending on the contact (going against or meeting upon) of sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind) and sense objects (form, sound, smell, contact, dharma/form-norm/phenomena-law, actually perception/consciousness/mind finds after analysis that these couples come together to originate the totally new origination of phenomenon of the "mind."). This is compared to two bundles standing/leaning (rise/origination) against each other, two cymbals coming into contact to give rise (origination) to sound, etc. (cf. rise/fall, origination/cessation of perception/feeling/emotion, etc.) The other limbs of the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination do not fit in this scheme, but more fit to the term nidāna (ni-dāna, lit. down-donation, down-binding, thus cause, link), as this series of limbs/links are called. So, we are naturally led to find the composite nature of the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination, and the components of 1) Dependent Co-origination of the perception: the core portion (and succeeding "feeling, idea, formations: volition, etc.), 2) craving-action-suffering link, called the Three Ways/Steps, and 3) appropriation/identification-becoming (impermanent, involvement), called samsara, and the structural relations of them. This composite nature of the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination is also supported by many types/limbs/links of Dependent Origination series (these three types, origination/cessation of them, Tenfold/limb D.O., etc.).

It is important that the past Seven Buddhas including the Gotama Buddha were awakened by the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination, because it reveals the core and comprehensive content of the Buddha's awakening, which teaches the fundamental existential structure/scheme of our conventional life, implying the ultimate truth beyond it, nirvana-bodhi. The Gotama Buddha taught many modes/types of Dependent Origination as occasions demanded, and might have come to the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination. He did not need to decide one absolute standard/stereotype scheme such as this, but the Sangha needed to formalize one like this for their study and teaching. Such formalization with misinterpretation of terms and total intention led to disservice to the Buddha(s), making it Hindu notion of samsara (fatalistic to support caste/class system, which the Buddha denounced with analysis and action, truth and ethic).

The traditional interpretation of it as embryo-genetic process, etc. were due to misunderstanding of samsara (as Hindu interpretation, due to Hindu converts to Buddhism). The oral tradition made it linear interpretation of limbs, resulting in forcible, Hindu interpretation of transmigration of a soul, erroneous interpretation of it. The original meaning is as follows, with the schematic diagram with structural relations of limbs, with the general usage of the meaning of limbs, from the original meaning of the three dependent originations as listed above:

This law of Dependent Co-origination is a very unique and important law to make the great paradigm shift of human thoughts, philosophies, views, values, actions - truth, goodness, beauty, holiness, etc. Our usual thinking makes our existence as a person, self, body-mind, and other, world, etc. - especially division of "body and mind" makes "mind" vague and misleading. The Buddha analyzed it further to "feeling, idea, formations, and consciousness/perception {with (physical) form the body-mind complex was analyzed into the Five Aggregates/Components). Thus the analysis of the so-called mind becomes that of the four composing components of the mind ("formations" includes past/present physical/verbal/mental actions). Each analysis proves each component impermanent (no self-sameness) and suffering (no self-sovereignty), thus concluded no self-substance/entity (unique Buddhist philosophy, ultimate truth unlike conventional consensus of "(independent, eternal) self, (eternal, transmigrating) soul, etc.," but only interdependent dynamic complex of the Five Aggregates (originally regarding a person, but later applied to all things/phenomena/world).

This unique Dharma of Dependent Co-origination is the central principle basing all Buddhist prognoses and practices, leading to awakening and awakened way/world in nirvana (knowing phenomenal world/realm, going beyond it, and working from it). From the Twelvefold Dependent Co-origination diagram (newly interpreted as quoted above) we can see formations (= past, present physical, verbal, mental karma) are the prime mover (itself becoming the Triple Poisons of desire/craving, divisiveness/appropriation, and delusion/nescience) of the whole wheel (called becoming wheel, bhava cakka, cakra) going with the psycho-physical life/living into samsara/suffering.

The fundamental delusion (a-vijjā, a-vidyā, root vid means witness of existence: 無明, not simple knowledge of information: 無知, cf. Greek videre: nescience: no witness of existence/becoming/living) makes blind formations resulting in samsara/suffering (Triple Way/Steps of delusion, karma, suffering). This is due to the delusion of the eternal (self-same), independent (self-sovereign) essence/ego (self, soul, spirit, etc.) despite the Triple Characteristics/Marks (of phenomena/existence: lakkhana, lakșaņa: 三相) of impermanence (無常:a-nicca, a-nitya: non-permanent: ), suffering (苦:duk-kha: wrong-going, going against grain, wish), and no-self (無我:an-attan, an-ātman: non-entity, no-essence, no self-existence, no self-nature). These Marks fit all phenomena and usually expressed as follows:

  1. All formations are impermanent.(sabbe sańkhārā aniccā, sarva-saṃskārā anityā)
  2. All formations are suffering. (sabbe sańkhārā dukkhā, sarva-saṃskārā dukkhā)
  3. All dharmas are no-self(-entity). (sabbe dhammā anattā, sarvadharmā anātmānaḥ

These were especially applied to mindfulness practice (sati-pațțāna, smŗti-prasthāna: stabilization/mindfulness stations/foundations):

  1. Body-mindfulness-base: (All formations are impure.)
  2. Feeling-mindfulness-base: All formations are suffering.
  3. Mind-mindfulness-base: All formations are impermanent.
  4. Dharma-mindfulness-base: All dharmas are no-self(-entity).

These were wholesome views on the conventional (karma, phenomenal) world in the Theravada tradition, but the Mahayana tradition added the completely opposite views from the ultimate (nirvana, a-karma, non-phenomenal) realm of Buddhas (nirvana-awakening): permanent, pleasant, self, pure (常楽我浄:Four virtues of nirvana, four perfections: pāramitā, though in the traditional way, these were considered four inverted/perverted views: 四顛倒).

By actual witness of nirvana (of karma-wind, physical, verbal, and mental: conception/emotion/volition), one become awakened to the truth of Triple Characteristics/Marks and the Dharma (Norm/Law) of Dependent Origination (of all dharmas: forms/phenomena). These Triple Marks were reinterpreted with nirvana as the Four Dharma Marks/Seals (四法印) of impermanence, suffering, no-self, and nirvana as serenity, which makes Buddhist views completely different from ordinary ways/religions:

  1. All formations are impermanent.(sabbe sańkhārā aniccā, sarva-saṃskārā anityā)
  2. All formations are suffering. (sabbe sańkhārā dukkhā, sarva-saṃskārā dukkhā)
  3. All dharmas are no-self(-entity). (sabbe dhammā anattā, sarvadharmā anātmānaḥ)
  4. Nirvana is serenity. (nibbāna-vūpasanna涅槃寂滅、涅槃寂静)

The law of Dependent Co-origination (縁起) is similar, but not same as the law of causality (因果:cause-effect law, causal law) which is usually explained as A causes B, causes C, causes D, etc. (leading one to think domino chain. cf. An American physicist killed himself thinking there is no freedom). The Dharma/Law of Dependent Co-origination offers freedom from such fatalistic view on the law of causality, because this is more of definite link/bond(age) (nidāna) and that is more interdependent co-origination (pațicca-samuppāda: organ-object, mind-world relations are relative and variable/changeable/free, for instance, one does not need to see, say, stay away, strive for the better, etc.). The stress on conditions (ex. water, air, light, temperature, etc.) rather than cause (ex. seed) delivers one from fatalism, and give anyone the opportunity of freedom by changing conditions, allowing attaining desired objectives (good crop, life, world,...even limitless, deathless life) by cultivation, striving, etc. It is the first system theory, integral holistic view of existential world, unlike element theory, sectional reductionist one (cf. Indra-net system, crystal balls infinitely reflecting mutually/multilaterally causing limitless, dynamic, mutual reflection/interaction/involvement/development/evolution, etc.).

Note: Please refer to Osamu Rosan Yoshida, NO SELF - A NEW SYSTEMATIC INTERPRETATION OF BUDDHISM. Tokyo, The World Sacred Text Publishing Society, 1994 for the detailed analysis of the law of Dependent Origination.