“A seed does not grow of its own accord. If it is planted in soil and given sunlight and water it may cause the seed to grow into a flower.”
Dependent Origination ( the theory of emptiness / non-inherent existence) explains the conditions that co-arise to cause suffering. It examines our false view of the inherently existing self or phenomena.
Beginning with the leading cause of ignorance, and ending with death and decay, the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination illustrate the cause of Samsara. This Theory is called The Twelve ‘Links’ because the 12 factors are intertwined, dependent on each other and arise together as do links of a chain. If we gain the wisdom to break the chain we gain the ability to bring an end to our suffering.
Ignorance of the truth is the leading cause of suffering. Avijja is the opposite of knowledge. Sometimes we avoid seeing the truth and sometimes we are simply unaware of it. When some one has a disease, the first step towards wellness is the knowledge of being sick.
Sankhara (Mental Volition)
Sankhara is the energy that arises when we ignore the truth. This volition is equivalent with the term karma. Certain karma or mental volition can be created intentionally to bring about certain results – such as study or meditation. But in reality one is not aware of the results of every action that one makes. Therefore the bulk of karma one creates is unknown to the creator keeping them in ignorance.
This consciousness is the awareness of ego, the dualistic mind, and the ‘self’. From this ego springs our illusionary, seperated and individual existence.
Nama-Rupa (Name and Form)
Any phenomena we perceive is considered the unity of Name and Form. Whether the sight of a flower or the sound of a bell, the fact that we observe a form and we name the form makes it Nama and Rupa. When in reality how can we say what the ‘true nature’ of a flower is? The names we designate forms are just place-holders, vague descriptions used solely for the purpose of communication.
Salayatana (The bases of metal activity)
The eyes, ears, nose, tongue, sensitive body and thinking mind. These are the six sense organs. But a sense fully fuction you need a sense organ (eye, ear, mouth, etc.), a conciousness of the organ’s recieved information (a dead person has eyes but he cannot see), and a form (an object that the sense interacts with). In Buddhism there is a clear line between the organ itself and the entirety of the function.
We have six sense organs: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, thinking mind. The thinking mind is considered a sense organ because it ‘senses’ the in-comming information from the exterior organs. We can also think of sense organs as doors for external objects to enter into the mind. For example, when a sound (the object) stimulates our ear (the sense organ), the ear consciousness arises and attends to the object. Phassa is the mind coming into contact with the object of experience.
Directly after an object of perception has been apprehended by the mind we experience feeling response. Phassa and Vedana arise together one after the other inseparable in our experience. When we see, hear, smell, taste, or contact with the body, feeling arises. When the object changes, the feeling also (quickly) changes. This means that it is our relation to the object of experience (how we name or judge it) responsible for our feeling not the object. Our minds are constantly running with objects and therefor feelings. We are either thinking, seeing, hearing, feeling, or tasting in constant succession and this is what we perceive as our existence.
This is the craving of an experienced object. We experience an object and we want more of it. Actually we want the feeling that arose from experiencing an object with one of our sense organs. We hear a nice song we want to hear it again. We smell something nice we want to eat it. We experience a good taste we want more of it even if we are already full. We touch something and craving arises. We think and craving arises. It is said that craving defines our mind and our personality.
Dana: means unconditional offering. Upa: is the Pali negative prefix.
Grasping is strong craving plus the wrong view. The wrong view appears when we desire an object so much that we will ignore the truth consciously or unconsciously to fulfill our desire. “ If we have craving we have attachment. When we have attachment we have worry. If we have no attachment we will have no worry. If we have no worry we will lead peaceful lives. Everyone wishes to lead peaceful lives. This is why we practice the Dharma.” – Sayadaw Nandamalabhivamsa
Bhava can be explained as the continual creation of life or the process of existence. This includes that which is invoked by the karmic process. Meaning it is both our actions and the result of our actions. It includes both mind and matter. Bhava is the continual blooming of life in every moment.
The actual appearance and duration of a life existence. One can think of this in either the microcosm or the macrocosm. The fruition of conditions for that form a the duration of thought or a human life.Jara and Marana (Death and Decay)
Jara is decay and aging. Marana is death the end of a existence or a life. Again, it is important to see these in both the macrocosm and microcosm, in the long term and the short term.
“The youth are mad, are crazy, they believe they will be young forever. The young think I am still young I can do everything. Crazy youth may do evil action because they don’t think about getting older. If we contemplate getting older we will never do evil actions we will do what is good for ourselves and good for others.”
“We must contemplate on the natures of decay and age.” “We must know ‘I’ can not overcome age and decay.” We should contemplate:
I am the natures of decay.
I am subject to age.
I am getting older and older.
I cannot overcome the natures of decay and age.
I cannot overcome death.
One day I will surely die.
“We should contemplate in this way.” – Sayadaw Nandamalabhivama
If we are able remind ourselves of the nature of death, to accept our fears and ignorance of the truth, we can set in motion the right thinking and right attitude to transform our lives.