Quite few articles you (AEN) have there about Dependent Origination. :-)

After reading these articles, something came to my mind. I just want to say something about the importance of direct experience. If we only understand in terms of concepts and theories, we will not be able to appreciate the beauty of Dependent Origination. Frankly, stressing Self as permanent, unchanging and independent does not make it ultimate; instead we merely cage what that is seamless, free, connected without boundaries into something limited and dualistic. These “permanent, unchanging and independent” characteristics merely appear appealing due to our inherent and dualistic tendencies of seeing things, in practice, holding to these characteristics will only present itself as a hindrance than help. In actual experience it is ‘Emptiness nature’ that is liberating.

I have always stressed the importance of direct realization and experience of this ‘vividly present’ yet completely un-locatable nature of Pristine Awareness. It is very important not to infer, think or conceptualize but feel with our entire being this ‘ungraspability’ and 'unlocatability' (see On Anatta (No-Self), Emptiness, Maha and Ordinariness, and Spontaneous Perfection). Are we able to feel, this moment vividly and clearly yet unmistakably see how this moment of manifestation is free from any ‘now’, ‘here’ and ‘self’? ‘Here, now and Self’ are convenient references, nothing ultimate. Similarly when we say sensations, are we having direct experience of what sensations are? If for a moment we are able to give up all arbitrary thoughts/definitions and vividly experience in bare all these arising and passing sensations, we will realize that they are nothing but just luminous happening. We will realize that the transience is Awareness itself. This is vipassana; this will bring the “background consciousness” into the foreground. Still this ‘foreground’ though free from all labelings must be further emptied. Therefore after anatta (non-dual), Dependent Origination are further taught.

The purpose of Dependent Origination is to free us from the limitation of our subject/object dichotomy and see phenomena and our nature in new light. The mind will continue its attempt to sort, categorize and frame seamless experience into its dualistic schema. Experience may be non-dual but insight can still not arise; even if non-dual realization arises, it still needs time to mature and stabilize. Before we can liberate ourselves sufficiently from the dualistic framework and correctly understand our nature that is beyond words, non-dual experience will still be understood dualistically in a very subtle manner without us even noticing it, not to underestimate it. We have been so affected by inherent and dualistic views that we fail to realize that how views and imprints influence us.

It is therefore advisable to replace our existing inherent and dualistic framework with Dependent Origination. If Dependent Origination simply remains as a form of knowledge, then it defeats the purpose. It must pervade our entire being so that we can feel, experience and understand deeply how Dependent Origination is not limited or constraint by space, time, self, any centricity or point of references. That said it must not be another view to attach to; simply another skillful mean to lead us go beyond the simplistic view of “permanent, unchanging and independent” characteristics of our pristine nature. Ultimately our nature is free from any sort of views and no expression can adequately express it. Dependent Origination is too a raft; it is like the stick that stirs the fire and is eventually consumed by fire without leaving any trace.

Lastly if practitioners that have direct realization of the ‘Self’ can have similar sort of intensity in both realization and experience of their ‘Emptiness’ nature (as they have in ‘Self’), they will appreciate the beauty and find delight in seeing our nature as dependently originated. For what that dependently originates is empty, unborn, does not come, does not go, does not arise and does not cease.
2 Responses
  1. Lycas7x Says:

    I'm trying to find the difference between one life and three life model. I'm wondering if there is no self then what matters about an afterlife anyway if there is no transmigration of souls.

    This whole thing about the 6 rhelms and reversing karma... It appears the Vedics believed we vanished into nothing like a fire after it was burnt. Energy and matter.

    Emptiness? I'm still trying to find the basis for compassion and yet this spirituality is less esoteric then following Abraham into the desert.


  2. Hi Lycas,

    The emptiness of an inherent, permanent agent does not deny our relative 'self' so to speak. Our 'relative self' is ultimately impermanent, insubstantial without essence, but it does not mean that we cease to exist the next moment, or even the next lifetime. We do not continue as a permanent independent essence, but rather, our mindstream continues as the continuity of a karmic and mental process.

    The idea that we vanish into nothingness after death may be found in Indian philosophies but it is definitely not accepted by Buddha. Such a view is the view of Annihilationism, one of the wrong views the Buddha admonished.

    Emptiness is not a nihilistic nothingness but simply the nature of everything as lacking inherent, independent existence. If you truly realise the non-inherent, interdependent nature of everything, compassion arises more easily, in fact.