The 12-fold chain of Causality 十二因緣

The 12-fold chain of Causality 十二因緣

This is a brief explanation of Cause and Effect. It has two sets of causes: previous and current, and two sets of effects: previous and current, that are dictated by the Karmic-force, generated by oneself. This causes one to become trapped in the cycle of existence, also known as (Samsara).

It is very important to understand how the cause and effect of our Karma works, so we can be aware of how to generate positive causes, and avoid negative ones.

Please take time to study it, until you have a thorough understanding of the information we have gathered for you.

Previous Causes: (1) Ignorance, (2) Formative actions, (3) Consciousness.

Current Effects: (4) Name & Form, (5) The six senses, (6) Touch, (7) Sensation,

                            (8) Thirst, desire, craving

Current Causes: (9) Grasping, laying hold, (10) Becoming, existing

Future Effects: (11) Birth, (12) Aging and Death                        

1.) 無明 ” Ignorance”: of the Four Noble Truths, the Three marks of existence (impermanence, dissatisfaction or suffering, and non-self ), the Five Skandhas, Karma, and The twelve -links, results in a wrong assessment of reality. This narrowness of experience is the primary cause of suffering dissatisfaction, pain, unease, etc.

2.) 行 “Mental Formation”: The impulse accumulations of Karma are characterized by the energetic direction of the first motif, manifesting through body, speech, and mind as structuring forces of our being. This relationship forms the basis of our character and our personal karmic patterning.

3.) 識 “Consciousness” represents the partially structured consciousness that results from the Karma-generating actions, the shaping of that energetic activity into a less flexible and more stagnant form. It is pictured as having a two-fold function: the cognition of objects that arise in our field of awareness and a structured stream that is being continually fed from the reservoir of energetic activity. The interplay between action and consciousness is seen as accounting for all the experiential data associated with the psychological notion of the unconscious, including memory, dreams, and the eruption of emotive complexes.

4.) 名色 “Name and form” has a quick grasping tendency, moving from sensory objects to objects of imagination rapidly. This energy may therefore crystallize and take shape into mental functions, called Nāma名, or it may be represented as material forms, called Rūpa色. As a collective idea, the名色Nāma-rūpa motif models the reciprocal relationship of bodily and mental functioning. 名Nāma is the naming activity of the discursive mind. 色Rūpa develops an internal representation of external objects, without which mind and body cannot exist. Nāma 名refers to three components of mental functioning. There is the sensation or tone-awareness of a mental situation. There is also an ideational or labeling function. And finally there is the component of dispositional orientation, the ‘mood-energy’ we bring to a situation. Rūpa 色 refers to the four dynamic structuring operations of solidity, cohesion, heat, and motility. They are represented by the elemental symbols of earth, water, fire, and air. The operation of these elemental modes goes towards making up what we experience as our physical world, including our body. It embraces the static aspects of embodiment such as cellular, tissue, and organ structures, as well as the dynamic aspect of body metabolism–electro-physiological pathways, membrane transport, etc.

5.) 六入”six sense gates” or “six sense bases” The close relationship of bodily and mental functioning is differentiated into the six-fold bases of awareness, which contribute to the arising of all sensory experiences that make up our interpretation of reality. The six-fold bases are divided into an internal grouping with corollary external supports. The internal grouping refers to the integration of five sensory capabilities (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body) and a sixth capability, termed non-sensuous or mental, which refers to the capability of all acts of memory, imagination, visualization, etc. These internal bases are not to be confused with the corresponding physical organs … They are simply loci of sensitivity structured such that there arises the experience of seeing, hearing, etc. The six external bases, which always work in conjunction with the corresponding internal base, refer to the six types of possible object awareness. These bases are the means by which the differentiated aspects, which are fleeting stabilizations in the field character of our awareness, stand out long enough to be appropriated as this-or-that specific object. The external and internal bases should be pictured as working together in pairs. In any given moment there is the two-fold working of a particular modality of awareness (eye-sensitivity and color-forms, ear-sensitivity and sounds, etc.).

6.) 觸 “Contact” refers to the relationship or rapport between the internal and external. Impressions of tone arise in conjunction with the specific modality of awareness that is operating.

7.) 受 “Sensation” There are six sense-bases (āyatana) types of feeling tone awareness that arise from contact. The feeling tone or sensation of each of the six āyatana is uniquely different. For example, the feeling tone and felt experience of sensations in the body are distinct from the feeling tones generated from experiencing sight or sound. Each modality is experientially separable on the basis of (a) the place of sensitivity (internal base), (b) the corresponding structure of its field (external base), (c) the manner of articulation or relatedness between (a) and (b), termed rapport, and (d) the resulting distinctive tone.

8.) 愛 “Craving”: desire, thirst, or attachment: Following the arising of tone-awareness is an unconditioned or habitually patterned experience of craving or attachment.

9.) 取 “Attachment”: If the object of one’s desires comes to fruition, then these craving desires may manifest as the quality of attachment. This condition of fulfilled desires and attachment is always fleeting and momentary, as new cravings arise once old cravings are satisfied. Attachment may take many forms, for example, emotional attachment to persons, to life, material comfort, routines, pleasant or unpleasant sensations, beliefs, thoughts, judgments, etc. We may not have attachment to things like wealth or success in society, but we are typically very strongly attached to our feelings and constructed identity of the self. One may become fixated on a mental “story” or representation of reality, or a mental version of an object or event, preferring and craving for an unrealized internal version of external reality. Once this fixation shapes behavior in a way that internal desires are satiated, then the craving of may be said to have shifted to the attachment.

10.) 有 “Becoming”: Refers to the new formation of karmic tendencies. This creation of new habits and karmic tendencies will come to fruition through future experiences. They therefore, differ in temporal nature. These include tendencies from past situational patterning (lives) which act on the present situation.

11.) 生 Birth: refers to the process of karmic tendencies coming to fruition, through the birth of new patterning. That which was desired and conditioned now comes to be. In a psycho-biological model, the birth or emergence of a newborn being, appearing, according to the specific history of patterning, in one of six ‘lifestyles’ (six levels of lower existence) . These lifestyles indicate the general character of experience. (They are symbolized by the terms gods, titans, hungry ghosts, animals, denizens of hell, and human. These embrace all the general ways of being-in-a-situation.)

12.) 老死 Aging, decay and death: Once a new situation or a new being has emerged, the last of the twelve motifs, points to the inevitability of decay and death. When the cessation of the continuity of experience occurs, we speak of death. It is the total breakdown and dissolution of experience and experiencer. The process of disintegration, restructuring, and entropic scattering yields a nexus of vibratory murkiness which is the condition of “cycle of rebirth”, the first motif. Thus the entire structure of patterning feeds back on itself, and is often pictured as a circle of twelve sections, called the Wheel of Life.


About quantumted

I’m a 54 year old teacher in Charlotte, NC. I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for 3 years now. I’ve learned a lot, but have a lot to learn. My guru is Grand Master Lu.

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