Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Five Natural Orders (Niyamas)

Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly Wikipedia edit
Karma is my ticket to everywhere.
Karma ("intentional action," "volitional deed," or cetana) together with its mental resultants and ripening fruits (vipaka and phala) is very complex.

It powers us and makes our lives what they are. Its working out is imponderable, but there are general trends one can discover. As we know so we do; mind precedes all conditions (Dhp. 1).

Therefore, learning can help us a great deal. The Buddha was not called a "Buddhist" in his day. He was called a karmavadin, a "teacher of the efficacy of action."

One act (deed) will have many results: It will produce like a seed produces, producing many more similar seeds. So it is not "the law of cause and effect," which states that for "every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." The commentaries talk about another complexity of karma, its orderliness or fixity. This complexity is distinguished into five kinds of natural orders.

Natural order: niyama
A niyama is the "natural order, fixedness, constraint, or lawfulness" of all things. In Buddhist psychology and philosophy or Abhidharma, they are distinguished into five categories in the post-sutra commentarial tradition.

In Buddhist commentaries (from the 5th to 13th centuries CE) we find the Five Orders (pañcavidha niyama), which occurs in the following texts:
  • The Aṭṭhasālinī (272-274), the commentary on the Dhammasangaṅi attributed to Buddhaghosa, the first book of Theravāda's "Collected Teachings in Ultimate Terms" (Abhidhamma Piṭaka) [30];
  • the Sumaṅgala-Vilāsinī (DA 2.431), Ven. Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Long Discourses of the Buddha (Dīgha Nikāya) [31];
  • the Abhidhammāvatāra (PTS p.54), a verse summary of Abhidhamma by Buddhaghosa’s contemporary Buddhadatta [32].
  • Abhidhammamātika Internal Commentary (p.58) The Abhidhamma-mātika is a matrix of abstracts for the Abhidhamma, with lists of pairs and triplets of terms from which the whole of the text can theoretically be reconstructed. The passage on the orders (niyamas) is from an internal commentary on the mātika associated with the Dhammasaṅgaṇī. (The orders do not appear to be mentioned in the matrix itself but only in this appendix), composed in South India by Ven. Coḷaraṭṭha Kassapa (12th-13th century).
  • Abhidhammāvatāra-purāṇatīkā (p.168) composed in Sri Lanka by Ven. Vācissara Mahāsāmi circa 13th century or Ven. Sāriputta circa 12th century. This text is a commentary on the text of the Abhidhammāvatāra Nāmarūpa-parichedo (ṭīka) so is technically a sub-sub-commentary. This commentary is an incomplete word-by-word commentary.
The Five Natural Orders
1. The utu-niyāma or “natural order of the seasons” reveals itself in the fact that, for example, in certain locations or regions of the earth, at certain times, the flowering and fruiting of trees takes place at one time (ekappahāreneva), the blowing or ceasing of wind, the degree of heat from the sun changes, the amount of rainfall changes, some flowers like the lotus open during the day and close at night, and so on.

2. The bīja-niyāma or the “natural order of seeds,” that is, a seed [DNA] produces its own kind of plant, for example, barley seed producing barley.

3. The kamma-niyāma or the “natural order of karma,” that is, skillful actions produce welcome results, and unskillful actions produce unwelcome results. This order is said to be epitomized by Dhammapada Verse 127, which explains that the results and consequences of actions are inescapable.
  • Dhp. 127: Neither in the sky nor in mid-ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts, nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the results of unwholesome deeds.
4. The citta-niyāma or the “natural order of mind” or mind-moments, that is, the orderliness of the process of mental-activities, such as the preceding mind-moment causing and conditioning the succeeding one in a cause-and-effect relationship.

5. The dhamma-niyāma or the “natural order of dhammas” (Dharma-related things), that is, events like the quaking of the ten thousand world-systems when a Bodhisattva is conceived for the last time in a mother’s womb and again when he is born.

At the end of the discussion in the Sumaṅgalavilāsinī passage, the Commentary says that dhamma-niyāma explains the term dhammatā in the text of the Mahāpadāna Sutra (DN ii.12) (Cf. S 12.20 for a discussion of the use of the word dhammaniyamatā in the sutras).

In these texts the Five Orders were introduced into commentarial discussions not to illustrate that the universe was intrinsically ethical, but as a list that demonstrated the universal scope of Dependent Origination (paṭicca-samuppāda).

The original purpose of expounding the Five Orders was, according to Burmese scholar-monk Ledi Sayadaw, neither to promote or to demote the Law (or Fixedness) of Karma, but to show the scope of natural law as an alternative to the claims of theism [33]. Things do not depend on a creator god, but rather they depend on impersonal forces or regularities.

C.A.F. Rhys Davids' system
Mrs. Caroline A.F. Rhys Davids (wife of the famous British Buddhist scholar Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids) was the first Western scholar to draw attention to the list of the Fivefold Order in her small 1912 book simply titled Buddhism.

Her reason for mentioning it was to emphasize how for Buddhism we exist in a "moral [or apparently ethical] universe" in which actions lead to just results and consequences according to a natural karmic order of things, a situation she called a "cosmodicy" in contrast to the Christian theodicy [34][35].

In Rhys Davids' scheme the Five Orders become:
  1. kamma niyama: ("action, karma, deeds") consequences of one's intentions/actions.
  2. utu niyama: ("time, season") seasonal changes and climate, law of inanimate matter.
  3. bīja niyama: ("seed") laws of heredity.
  4. citta niyama: ("mind") will of mind.
  5. dhamma niyama: ("law") nature's tendency to perfect.
This is similar to the scheme proposed by Ledi Sayadaw [36]. Western Buddhist Sangharakshita (Dennis Lingwood of the FWBO) has taken up Mrs. Rhys Davids conception of the orders and made it an important aspect of his own Buddhist teachings [37].

In the exclusively Buddhist Pāli language, the word is spelled both niyama and niyāma (long ā), and the Pali Text Society Dictionary says that the two forms have become confused [38]. It is likely that niyāma is from a causative form of the verb ni√i. More

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