Monday, November 9, 2015

Heart of Dependent Origination (video)

Nāgārjuna's Pratītyasamutpādahṛdayakārikā ("Constituents of Dependent Arising") by Vidya Rao ("Dharma Nāda"); CC Liu, Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly
Sweet Samsara has me by the neck! O, Buddha, how can I win my freedom?

Sariputra's stream entry
Sariputra asks a question.
When Sariputra, the chief monk later declared "foremost in wisdom" by the Buddha, first came into contact with the Dharma, it was through the enlightened Buddhist disciple Ven. Aśvajit (Assaji). Sariputra asked him, "What Teaching do you follow?" Ven. Aśvajit wisely replied, "I have only recently gone forth [from home to homelessness, from the cramped world to the wide open way of the wandering ascetic] in this dispensation and can only give you the gist of this Dharma." "That is all I wish for," Sariputra responded.

Sariputra (SashWeer/flickr)
So Ven. Aśvajit declared this terse stanza that implies the Four Noble (Ennobling) Truths. Sariputra, because of his sagacity and keen wit, immediately penetrated the implication of what the venerable monk said and entered the first stage of enlightenment, stream entry, understanding that his Teaching was indeed that of an enlightened teacher with the ability to lead others to liberation from  all suffering. He went to meet the Buddha and became one of the two most significant chief disciples of the Buddha, the other being the Buddhist nun Ven. Khema, whom the Buddha declared "foremost in wisdom" among the nuns.

LYRICS (translation)
"Of those things that arise from a cause,
The Tathagata has told the cause,
And also what their cessation is:
This is the doctrine of the Great Recluse."

Sariputra wisely asks a pithy question to learn the Dharma (
Which the Buddha taught as Dependent Origination,
Can be summarized into three categories:
Mental afflictions, karma, and suffering. [1]
The first, eighth, and ninth are afflictions;
The second and tenth are karma;
The remaining seven are suffering.
Thus the 12 links are grouped in three. [2]
  • Bhikkhu Bodhi explains Dependent Origination below.
From the three the two originate,
And from the two the seven come;
From seven the three come once again--
Thus the Wheel of Rebirth turns and turns. [3]

Let's keep this dangerous party going, jack*sses! Johnny Knoxville leads the way (MTV).
All beings consist of causes and effects,
In which there is no "sentient being" at all.
From phenomena which are exclusively empty,
There arise only empty phenomena.
All things are devoid of any "I" ["me"] or "mine." [4]

Like a recitation, a candle, a mirror, a seal,
A magnifying glass, a seed, sourness, or a sound,
So also with the continuation of the Aggregates--
The wise should know they are not transferred.* [5]
  • *That is to say, they do not "transfer" or go from one birth to another. Rather, what happens is the arising of empty phenomena followed immediately by the turning and falling two sub-moments later, just where they arose. What arises or originates is utterly dependent on its causes and supporting-conditions. Things originate (arise) and momentarily persist -- constantly becoming rather than being, dynamic rather than static, a moving process rather than a persisting being. ALL things arise (but most relevant to us, the Buddha is talking about the Five Aggregates of Clinging), turn, and fall away. In this way, they bear the three "marks" or characteristics of existence in that they are: impermanent, unsatisfactory, and utterly impersonal.
Twelve links lead to rebirth again...
And as for extremely subtle entities,
Those who regard them with nihilism,*
  • *Nihilism (Annihilationism): the subtle wrong view that an entity is actually destroyed or annihilated at the third phase of the impersonal process of dependent origination. There is in fact no entity, nothing personal to be annihilated. Ultimately, things neither exist NOR cease to exist, except that in a conventional sense we speak of things in this way to intellectually understand the impersonal process.
Lacking precise and thorough knowledge,
Will not see the actuality of conditioned arising. [6]

In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor the slightest thing to be added.
It is looking perfectly into reality itself,
And when reality is seen, complete liberation. [7]

This concludes the verses on "The Heart of Dependent Origination" composed by the enlightened teacher Arya Nagarjuna.
What is Dependent Origination?
American Theravada Buddhist monk and translator Bhikkhu Bodhi (
Los Angeles has flowers like the brilliant "blazing star" (
I want to see the Buddha! (weekday-illusion)
The Buddha says, "One who sees dependent origination sees the Dharma and one who sees the Dharma sees dependent origination."
The Dharma is the truth discovered by the Buddha. In this statement the Buddha makes an explicit equation between the profound truth he has realized and dependent origination or conditioned arising.

Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bodhi Monastery
Again in describing his own quest for enlightenment, the Buddha says that immediately before his enlightenment, when he was sitting in meditation, he began inquiring into the chain of causality or conditioning, seeking the origination of suffering, and this inquiry led him to the discovery of dependent origination.

So from one angle we can equate the discovery of dependent origination with the attainment of enlightenment itself.
Intellect is not enough for freedom.
The Buddha says that this dependent origination is deep in appearance and deep in truth. It is by not understanding and not penetrating this truth called dependent origination that we -- and all living beings -- have become entangled like a matted ball of thread, like grass and rushes, [like a thicket of weeds and vines,] unable to pass beyond woeful states of being, unable to escape from samsara, the cycle of endless becoming.

Therefore, dependent origination is more than the content of the Buddha's enlightenment, much more than a philosophy or doctrine, it is the truth to be directly REALIZED to gain freedom from all suffering.
It is the key to intellectual understanding of the Dharma and to the attainment of liberation (enlightenment, nirvana).
Sanskrit lyrics
e dharma hetu prabhavā hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgato hyavadat
teṣancha yo nirodhaḥ evam vādī mahāśramaṇaḥ

dvādaśa ye 'ṅgaviśeṣā muninoddiṣṭāḥ pratītyasambhūtāḥ
te kleśakarmaduḥkheṣu saṅgṛhītāstriṣu yathāvat [1]

ādyāṣṭamanavamāḥ syuḥ kleśāḥ karma dvitīyadaśamau ca
śeṣāḥ sapta ca duḥkhaṃ trisaṅgrahā dvādaśa tu dharmāḥ [2]

tribhyo bhavati dvandvaṃ dvandvātprabhavanti sapta saptabhyaḥ
traya udbhavanti bhūyastadeva[tu] bhramati bhavacakram [3]

hetuphalañca[hi]sarvaṃ jagadanyo nāsti kaścidiha sattvaḥ
śūnyebhya eva śūnyā dharmāḥ prabhavanti dharmebhyaḥ [4]

svādhyāyadīpamudrādarpaṇaghoṣa 'rkakāntabījāmlaiḥ
skandhapratisandhirasaṅkramaśca vidvadbhiravadhāryau [5]

ya ucchedaṃ prakalpayatyatisūkṣme 'pi vastuni
pratītyasambhavasyārthamavijñaḥ sa na paśyati [6]

nāpaneyamataḥ kiñcit prakṣepyaṃ nāpi kiñcana
draṣṭavyaṃ bhūtato bhūtaṃ bhūtadarśī vimucyate [7]

pratītyasamutpādahṛdayakārikā ācārya nāgārjunakṛtā samāptā.

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