Friday, November 14, 2008

Transcendental Dependent Arising

The Pratītyasamutpāda is frequently used to explain how disquietude arises depending on codependent conditions, the inference being that if one or more of the conditions are removed (if the “chain” is broken), the disquietude will cease. This theory, which I discussed in my last web log post, is at the core of Mahayana Buddhism, and played a major role in Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka theories. Yet, there is a lesser known text in the Pali Cannon that discusses its polar opposite, which is loosely translated at “Transcendental Dependent Arising.” The name of the text is the Upanisa Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya, in which the discussions of the conditions not for disquietude but for enlightenment are given.

These theories would be considered “dangerous” by the Zen Masters and it is no wonder that they never discussed them. Any set of ideas that can be construed as a formula to enlightenment is really just empty. I include these because they shed some light into a mystery that must be unraveled by each individual. If you attach to this, it will become an enormous hindrance; yet half the Buddhists in the world are following this path. So forgive me, and I couldn’t resist.

1. disquietude (dukkha)
2. faith (saddhā) “disquietude is the supporting condition for faith”
3. joy (pāmojja, pāmujja) “faith is the supporting condition for joy”
4. bliss (pīti) “joy is the supporting condition for bliss”
5. tranquillity (passaddhi) “bliss is the supporting condition for tranquillity”
6. happiness (sukha) “tranquillity is the supporting condition for happiness”
7. concentration (samādhi) “happiness is the supporting condition for concentration”
8. knowledge and vision (yathābhūta-ñāna-dassana) “concentration is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are”
9. disenchantment (nibbidā) “knowledge and vision of things as they really are is the supporting condition for disenchantment”
10. dispassion (virāga) “disenchantment is the supporting condition for dispassion”
11. emancipation (vimutti) “dispassion is the supporting condition for emancipation”
12. knowledge of destruction (āsava-khaye-ñāna) “emancipation is the supporting condition for the knowledge of destruction”


Uku said...

Good post, as usual.

I think these theories are very helpful in our paths, but like you said, attaching to those is not a wise thing, it will become an enormous hindrance.

As I see it, we should only use those kind of theories like road signs, to showing the direction. They are not truth, they are only some hints. That's all.

Most important is to practice along with these hints, to keep in mind that is very important trying to do the best to help ourselves and others. And like we can also read from ancient stories, awakening and Buddha's Way doesn't need any intelligence at all. We don't need to know how to read or write. All we need is regular, daily practice without attachment to Buddha's Way. Practicing Buddha's Way should be as natural as eating and crapping.

Thank you for this great post, Dharmabro.

With palms together,

Sachin Malhotra said...

Ur blog is very nice...

Barry said...

Thanks for posting this, Paul. I wrote about Transcendental Dependent Arising on Ox Herding at some point - can't remember when anymore - and I've always wondered why it doesn't appear in the Mahayana/Zen teachings.

If Zen teachers can adopt one conceptual framework, why not another?

They're equally helpful, and equally damaging.

Really, neither framework means much until we become intimate with our own mind function.

Best wishes in the Dharma,

Algernon said...

How nice to discover your blog! Looks like I've got some back reading to do...