Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ignorance, O ignorance! (cartoon)

Dhr. Seven and Amber Larson, CC Liu Wisdom Quarterly; Ven. Nyanatiloka, Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines;;

IGNORANCE (avijjā, Sanskrit avidya) refers to lack of insight, lack of wisdom, nescience, unknowing. As a Buddhist term it is synonymous with "delusion" (moha, one of the three roots of all unwholesome action). In fact, it is the primary root of ALL bad karma and unhappiness in the various planes of existence generally referred to as "the world" or "universe."

It veils our mental eyes and prevents us from seeing the true nature of existence. It is the delusion or wrong view tricking beings by making life appear to them as (1) permanent, (2) happy, and/or (3) personal. Seeing its beauty without being mindful of inherent danger, living being cling to existence and experience even as it is passing away, disappointing, and impersonal.

What might we be were it not for ignorance? Enlightened here and now in this very life?
It prevents us from seeing that everything -- every compounded thing that comes into existence or originates dependent on supportive conditions -- is, ultimately speaking, radically impermanent, unsatisfactory, and void of "I," "me," or "mine": It is basically unattractive, foul, impure. (See The Four Perversions that make it appear otherwise).
Ignorance is defined as "not knowing [i.e., fully penetrating the truth of] the Four Noble Truths, namely, (1) unsatisfactoriness, (2) its origin, (3) its cessation, and (4) the way to its cessation" (S. XII, 4).
Kermit would have remained in the dark...
This root ignorance is the foundation of all karma that leads to becoming, all rebirth-producing actions, of all harm and suffering. Therefore, it stands first in the formula of Dependent Origination -- the 12-linked causal chain of the arising of present unhappiness.

But on account of it being first, explains the Path of Purification (Vis.M., XVII, 36f), ignorance should not be regarded as "the causeless root-cause of the world... It is not causeless. For a cause of it is stated: 

The Buddha glowing golden (Mesamong/flickr)
"'With the arising of defilements (taints, cankers, outflows, āsavas), there is the arising of ignorance' (MN 9). But there is a figurative way in which it can be treated as a root-cause. Namely, when it is made to serve as a starting point in an exposition of the Round of Existence... 

"As it is said: 'No first beginning of ignorance can be perceived, meditators, before which ignorance was not and after which it came to be. Yet, it can be perceived that ignorance has its specific [causal or supportive] condition'" (AN.X.61).

The same statement is made (AN.X.62) about the craving for [eternal] existence. The latter and ignorance are called "the outstanding causes of karma that lead to unhappy and happy destinies" (Vis.M. XVII, 38).
Ignorance as wrong or false view
As ignorance still exists -- albeit in a very refined way until the attainment of full enlightenment -- it is counted as the last of the Ten Fetters, which bind beings to samsara, the Cycle of Rebirths. As the first two unwholesome roots, greed and hate, are themselves rooted in ignorance, ALL unwholesome states of mind/heart are consequently and inseparably bound up with it.
Ignorance (delusion) is the most obstinate of the three roots of unhappiness. It is fully eliminated by the dawning of enlightenment, insight, final knowledge, liberating wisdom.
Ignorance is not only one of the taints or cankers, it is one of the proclivities. It is often called a mental hindrance (e.g., in S.XV.3; A.X.61) but does not appear together with the usual list of Five Hindrances [which it is at the root of].

The other definition of "ignorance" is anyone who disagrees with me (

No comments: