Monday, July 16, 2007

Considering Pranjaparamita

Twelve Link Chain of Causation or The Cycle of Interdependence (pratityasamutpada):

1. From ignorance (avida) arises volitional action

2. From volitional action (karma) arises consciousness

3. From consciousness (vijnana) arises mental and physical phenomena

4. From mental and physical phenomena (nama-rupa) arises the six senses

5. From the six senses (shadayatana) arises sensorial contact

6. From contact (spasha) arises sensation

7. From sensation (vedana) arises desire

8. From desire (trishna) arises grasping

9. From grasping (upadana) arises the process of becoming

10. From the process of becoming (bhava) arises birth

11. From birth (jeti) arises death, pain, decay . . .

12. From sickness, old age and death (jana-marana), sorrow, lamentation, suffering and distress occur. Thus arises the whole mass of suffering

The cycle starts when an individual becomes aware of itself as a being separete from the universe. It becomes ignorent of its true nature and this leads to metal activity (karma). Karma leads to consciousness which leads to metal and physical phenomena. This is the opposite of the way we usually think of creation. For the Buddhists, the mind itself creates the phenomenal world. Here we see the five skandas come into play as the self becomes aware of the objective world though the senses. When the self becomes aware of the other, desire arises. "I want what is outside myself." It has forgotten through ignorance that the object is just a creation of its own mind. Desire leads to grasping, trying to get something, which leads to becomming and birth, the consciousness has taken physical form. Now physical form is subject to all the ill of the world: pain, decay, sickness, old and and ultimatly death. From death arises ignorance and the process starts over again.

The process of Buddhist meditation and practice is to reverse the cycle. Through the extinction of ignorance, karma ceases, and so on,up to the ceasation of birth, meaning escape from the the cycle of birth and death (samsara), into nirvana, the stopping of the cycle.

Yet, the Heart Sutra says "no ignorance and also no extinction of it" and the same for the other twelve factors. In this process there is no first cause and there is no self-being. Each factor in the process is relative and interdependent with the other twelve factors and therefore empty.

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