Dependent Origination (Pratītyasamutpāda)

The Buddha said:

    "And what, practitioners, is dependent arising? Ignorance is a condition for unwise choices. Unwise choices are a condition for individual consciousness. Individual consciousness is a condition for the mind and body.

    "The mind and body are a condition for the six senses. The six senses are a condition for sense impressions. Sense impressions are a condition for feelings. Feelings are a condition for attachment. Attachment is a condition for clinging. Clinging is a condition for reenergizing existence. Reenergizing existence is a condition for rebirth. Rebirth is a condition for aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, sadness, and distress. Such is the origin of this whole mass of misfortune" (SN 12.2 Forrest).
Summary (1-3) and Process (4-12): 
  1. Avijjā - Ignorance
  2. Saṅkhāra - Unwise Choices 
  3. Viññāṇa - Individual Consciousness
  4. Nāmarūpa - Mind and Body
  5. Saḷāyatana - Six Senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind)
  6. Phassa - Sense Impressions 
  7. Vedanā - Feelings (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral)
  8. Taṇhā - Attachment (craving, aversion, delusion)
  9. Upādāna - Clinging
  10. Bhava - Reenergizing Existence
  11. Jāti - Rebirth
  12. Jarāmaraṇa - Old Age and Death

These links in the chain of causality keep us trapped in Samsara. Samsara is, in the words of Morpheus, "a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.” Or more accurately, for your consciousness (viññāṇa).

The weakest link is between attachment, but this requires the overcoming of ignorance. Only through seeing things are they really are do we learn the three marks of existence and break free of all attachment. It is attachment and clinging that reenergize the cycle of rebirth.

Three Marks of Existence:

The first mark is that all things are impermanent and therefore unreliable. The second mark is that this existence is a misfortune because it is filled with inevitable pain, suffering, and death. The third mark of existence is that the five mind-body components are not atman, not ultimately real. We are a process, not an entity.

The Four Noble Truths:
  1.  The first noble truth is that this existence is a misfortune (dukkha).
  2. The second noble truth is that the cause of this misfortune is desire and attachment to attachment.
  3. The third noble truth is that this misfortune can end by ending attachment.
  4. The fourth noble truth is that there is an eightfold path of practice that can set you free from this misfortune (cf. SN 56.11; 45.8).
The Noble Eightfold Path:
  1. Skillful View
  2. Skillful Motives
  3. Skillful Speech
  4. Skillful Action
  5. Skillful Livelihood
  6. Skillful Mental Exercise
  7. Skillful Mindfulness
  8. Skillful Meditation
The sutta (SN 12.2) was translated from the Pali of the digital Mahāsaṅgīti edition by Jay Forrest.

Anagārika Jay

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