Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kalyani: Dependent Origination

(WQ) Bay Area Dharma Talks: Kalyani speaking to a crowd of 200 in Daly City near San Francisco on Saturday Nov. 14, 2009 at a Theravada Dhamma Society marathon meditation and teaching event with Pa Auk Sayadaw. Other speakers also making three hour presentations include authors Shaila Catherine (Focused and Fearless), Stephen Snyder and Tina Rasmussen (Jhanas Advice), as well as James MacDonald and others.
  • See them webcast live on VZOchat (ID: yadanagonyee). Nightly beginning at 6:30 pm.

Kalyani's opening remarks with Pa Auk Sayadaw and other monks behind her (WQ)

Dependent Origination

Paticca Samuppada is so simple a concept -- the idea that all things that arise do so only in dependence on causes and supporting con-ditions. But as the Buddha warned Ananda (DN 15), it should never be thought of as actually being simple or obvious. For it is deep and profound (with 12 links or causal-factors that lead to the arising of suffering, existence, and rebirth). And it is on account of not seeing this Dependent Arising that you and I have traveled from birth to birth in this "continued wandering on" called Samsara. For with birth has come old age, sickness, and death -- and this entire mass of suffering.

Wisdom Quarterly had three interview questions for the speaker, a skilled meditator and one of the Sayadaw's foremost American students:

  1. What is Dependent Origination?
  2. What is it for?
  3. And how is it done?

Dependent Origination or Dependent Arising or "Conditioned Co-genesis" is the examining of the present, the future, and the past looking at 12 links so that one can understand how and why we are here now. It is a general law on how things co-arise and a means of discerning the particular karma that led to this life.

More importantly, one examines these links to gain the "eye of the Dharma" (stream-entry) -- that is, for direct insight in meditation. Sariputra quotes the Buddha to suggest how important this topic is, "Whoever sees the Dharma sees Dependent Origination, and whoever sees Dependent Origination sees the Dharma" (MN 28). Those causal links are: (1) ignorance, (2) karma-formations, (3) consciousness, (4) materiality-mentality, (5) six sense doors, (6) contact, (7) feeling, (8) craving, (9) clinging, (10) continued-existence, (11) birth, (12) old-age-and-death. In brief, Dependent Origination is an analytical meditation topic leading to vipassana (insight). What it's for is to gain a foothold to gain enlightenment.

The process is straightforward but not at all intuitive. It would not naturally occur to someone to discern these factors at the mind door and then to check them. That is why a good teacher is essential. Pa Auk Sayadaw is just such a teacher, rare in the world. His (free) books, lectures, retreat handouts and interview instructions make him a rare enlightened teacher capable of bringing the Abhidharma down from the shelf and into real life. Directions on how Dependent Origination in meditation is done will make little sense to anyone not engaged in meditation or who, although engaged, has not yet mastered the jhanas. Therefore, practice practice practice. It isn't just meditation. Practice virtue, setting nirvana as the goal of every good thing you do. Then those wholesome deeds become paramis that make this meditation possible and extraordinarily fruitful.

No comments: