Author Topic: dependent arising  (Read 6091 times)

Offline zafrogzen

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dependent arising
« on: June 12, 2018, 02:30:18 pm »
Since I keep getting visits to my website from this board, I’m going try posting here again. It looks like it could use a little energy here and maybe get some new voices. Hopefully I can refrain from getting embroiled in sectarianism again.

A topic which has recently piqued my interest (after a flash of insight) is dependent arising. The idea was apparently around before the Buddha’s time, but Buddhists took it up and developed it over the years. Essentially it’s the view that everything is spontaneously arising together in the present moment and each of us is dependent on everything else for our existence. Although it seems really obvious it is often overlooked, especially here in the West where individualism reigns supreme. Dependent arising ties into both non-self and impermanence, as well as emptiness and the One Mind of Zen. It also shows that cause and effect are not so simple and straightforward as our linear models presume.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%ABtyasamutp%C4%81da

« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 02:36:47 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 02:50:48 am »
Hi zafrogzen. An interesting topic, but one that abounds in seeming contradiction, probably through having to use English words to describe things. In one sense 'spontaneous' cannot occur where there is dependence on anything else, or it couldn't be spontaneous, so is this a good place to start the conversation?

For example, I think that everything is constantly changing, and nothing is in isolation, even our sense of self. We may think that we are separate and independent, but what would we be if we were born in silence, in darkness, with nothing to touch or sense in any way? It is only in relation to other things and other people that we are what we are. And if we were now placed in a sensory deprivation tank, how long would we keep our sanity, or sense of self?

Where for me everything is 'constantly changing', is this the same as 'spontaneously coming into existence'? I can imagine nothing being fixed, but not something coming into existence that doesn't depend on conditions for it to arise.

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 05:23:29 am »
This concept of 'dependent arising' is why Buddhism often appeals to rationalists and scientists in the West. It's a truth that can be verified through the scientific process. Everything we can imagine, is subject to a 'cause and effect' process.

For example, whatever we see with our eyes is a result of photons of light being reflected off the surfaces we are looking at. These photons pass through the lens of the eye to the retina that converts the light into electrical signals. These electrical signals are further processed as they travel along the optic nerve from the retina to the brain where the information continues to be processed in accordance with our individual characteristics, upbringing, biases, prejudices and conditioning.

What we see, and perhaps imagine as reality, is as much a process of the individual and unique processing of photonic stimuli, as it is of reality. It's impossible to separate the two.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 05:41:53 am »
In one sense 'spontaneous' cannot occur where there is dependence on anything else, or it couldn't be spontaneous, so is this a good place to start the conversation?

Hi Stillpointdancer,
The word 'spontaneous' has a number of meanings. It can mean, 'having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner'. Some synonyms are, 'natural, uninhibited, relaxed, unselfconscious, unaffected, easy, free and easy'.

According to current theories of Physics, nothing can travel faster that the speed of light. That speed is so fast that anything involving light, or the transmission of electrical signals, is spontaneous from the human perspective, without the use of elaborate scientific instruments that can measure nanoseconds.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 09:47:29 am »
My use of the word "spontaneous" was itself spontaneous, but it does express the way dependent arising appears to me. I wrote -- "...everything is spontaneously arising together in the present moment"

My dictionary defines "spontaneous" as -- "Arising from internal cause: resulting from internal or natural processes, with no apparent external influence."

Individually it could be said that there is dependence on external causes in our arising, but I referred to "everything," the whole, not any particular part. If it is the "whole" there could be nothing "external" to act on it, so by the dictionary definition at least, and in the sense I was referring to, dependent arising is spontaneous.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 10:08:17 am by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2018, 02:10:16 am »
I wrote -- "...everything is spontaneously arising together in the present moment"
My dictionary defines "spontaneous" as -- "Arising from internal cause: resulting from internal or natural processes, with no apparent external influence."

Individually it could be said that there is dependence on external causes in our arising, but I referred to "everything," the whole, not any particular part. If it is the "whole" there could be nothing "external" to act on it, so by the dictionary definition at least, and in the sense I was referring to, dependent arising is spontaneous.
I can see the 'arising from the internal cause' bit, where that there is no 'apparent' external influence. I assume though that there must be something arising in dependence of something else or else truly spontaneous occurrences change the whole ball game. If things arise spontaneously, without a link to anything that comes before, how can we break the link? Or is that the point, that there are no links, so we can rid ourselves of seeming links which continue to hold us back, even though they don't exist?
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2018, 07:51:26 am »
Spontaneous or with certain cause is not the most relevant thing to dependent arising, definition "a" or "b" don't bring about a better understanding of the concept. If we were trying to track every butterfly which caused a thunderstorm we would need to discard the idea of "spontaneous", and I think we would be overwhelmed when it rained. If we over emphasize the idea of spontaneous we will be mystified like children at simple happenings attributable to obvious causes.

Why is our relative experience subject to the effects of our objective existence? We inherit genes which give dispositions to certain things, we inherit ideas from others which we either accept or reject, we build on those acceptances and rejections and form views in alignment with underlying concepts we built onto as we learned and accepted them. By the time we are old enough to evaluate those things and not simply be caught in the storm of one thing after another forming these complex dispositions the dispositions are deeply ingrained and can seem invisible to us.

As a child I owned a cat, I loved that cat very much and was very attached to him. He was hit by a car as happens to indoor/outdoor cats. I have always been kind to cats and loved them. As a young man I was bit by a dog, it tore my navel open and it hurt very badly even though the dog was just trying to play. I am uncomfortable around dogs that I don't know even when they seem friendly they make me uneasy. If I go to a friend's house for the first time and they have a large dog I will seem uneasy to them if they are paying attention. If they are not paying close attention they make think that I don't like their house, or I don't want to be there. It is especially bad when the dogs are poorly trained and jump up, I usually leave rather quickly under those circumstances.

Think of all the questions and dispositions in that cycle! For them they have to wonder  "I thought we were friends at work...maybe he doesn't actually like me as a friend? Every time he is here he leaves and he never stays for dinner when I offer!"  for me it looks like " Great, a big dog clawing me when it jumps. I hope they put it outside, if they don't I'm leaving." I feel angry at people and feel irritation when they say "Oh he's friendly, he just likes you!"

It goes on and on, next time they invite me over maybe I fell like making an excuse to try and avoid it without being rude. I like some dogs, but they have to be trained and I respect that others love them. What if I tell my friend "I don't like how your dog acts" ?  Then they think " My dog is a good dog" and they feel their love for the animal and they feel frustration with me over my implication that the dog does not act as it should and naturally figure I blame them.

 If I leave all of this un-evaluated for my own part I could lose friends, damage relationships, decide dogs are bad and blame them... The spontaneous part here for me is why the dog bit me in the first place, I think she was trying to play, but why? A lifetime of this disposition came from that circumstance and i don't know what all it has effected in my life. In the moment where I feel anger over a persons pet that anger is dependently arisen from the circumstance of having been bitten.


Quote
"Conditioned by the senses, contact comes into being. Because of the contact between the eye and color, the ear and sound, and the other senses and their objects, there arises feeling. Feeling means the quality of pleasantness, unpleasantness, or neither pleasantness nor unpleasantness involved in every mind moment, in every moment of contact. Whether it is contact through the five physical sense doors or through the mind, feeling is always present, and is called, therefore, a common mental factor. Conditioned by contact, there arises feeling; that is, the quality of pleasantness, unpleasantness or neutrality." 



The twelve links of dependent origination or arising:

https://tricycle.org/magazine/dependent-origination/

I read a great discourse on this subject.

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/G%20-%20TNH/TNH/The%20Twelve%20Links%20of%20Dependent%20Origination/The%20Twelve%20Links%20of%20Dependent%20Origination.pdf
 
   

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2018, 09:17:11 am »
Internal and external are probably only relevant from the viewpoint of our individual mind and senses. The word "spontaneous" is bound to look wrong to those who are focused on Karma and past causes of present arising. My own view is somewhat limited since it is based almost entirely on my own meditative experience and I am only now beginning to read up on the subject.

To me the past only exists in the present -- a present where everything is in constant change and movement, or at least would appear to be. These changes are revolving (thankfully) according to natural laws of cause and effect. So dependent arising can be seen from the viewpoint of those changes, with one thing leading to another.

Another characteristic I see in dependent arising is simultaneity. At any given moment an almost infinite number of events and changes are occurring simultaneously. Obviously we are dependent on everything else for our existence so cause and effect is likely occurring spatially as well. This side of dependent arising could be just as crucial as causes from past events. Recognition of such interconnectedness is sorely needed in a world where separation and competition have become so destructive.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 09:30:50 am »
Still Point wrote,
Quote
If things arise spontaneously, without a link to anything that comes before, how can we break the link? Or is that the point, that there are no links, so we can rid ourselves of seeming links which continue to hold us back, even though they don't exist?

Ha, ha, I like that. Perhaps there are links and there aren't, depending....
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 12:25:35 pm »
Hi boys,  << waves>>

I highly recommend this 24 minute talk about Dependent Origination by Ajahn Amaro:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-wIGlgmgpY


_/|\_
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 12:28:33 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2018, 12:41:02 pm »
Internal and external are probably only relevant from the viewpoint of our individual mind and senses. The word "spontaneous" is bound to look wrong to those who are focused on Karma and past causes of present arising. My own view is somewhat limited since it is based almost entirely on my own meditative experience and I am only now beginning to read up on the subject.

To me the past only exists in the present -- a present where everything is in constant change and movement, or at least would appear to be. These changes are revolving (thankfully) according to natural laws of cause and effect. So dependent arising can be seen from the viewpoint of those changes, with one thing leading to another.

Another characteristic I see in dependent arising is simultaneity. At any given moment an almost infinite number of events and changes are occurring simultaneously. Obviously we are dependent on everything else for our existence so cause and effect is likely occurring spatially as well. This side of dependent arising could be just as crucial as causes from past events. Recognition of such interconnectedness is sorely needed in a world where separation and competition have become so destructive.

Well said.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2018, 03:30:31 am »

I highly recommend this 24 minute talk about Dependent Origination by Ajahn Amaro:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-wIGlgmgpY

Except that this talk is about the simplistic linear habits-feelings arising-action that zafrogzen was highlighting when he said "It also shows that cause and effect are not so simple and straightforward as our linear models presume." Ajan Amoro's whole talk was about the straightforward linear model that I had assumed to be the whole case. I'm interested in zafrogzen's  simultaneity and how this opens up a new way of looking at dependent origination.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2018, 03:38:40 am »
My use of the word "spontaneous" was itself spontaneous, but it does express the way dependent arising appears to me. I wrote -- "...everything is spontaneously arising together in the present moment"

This shows a lack of enlightenment in respect to what is essential. Its just drivel lusting over creation.  :scratch:

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2018, 10:02:54 am »
My use of the word "spontaneous" was itself spontaneous, but it does express the way dependent arising appears to me. I wrote -- "...everything is spontaneously arising together in the present moment"

This shows a lack of enlightenment in respect to what is essential. Its just drivel lusting over creation.  :scratch:

I'm curious -- what do you think is "essential."
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: dependent arising
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2018, 10:43:11 am »

I highly recommend this 24 minute talk about Dependent Origination by Ajahn Amaro:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-wIGlgmgpY

Except that this talk is about the simplistic linear habits-feelings arising-action that zafrogzen was highlighting when he said "It also shows that cause and effect are not so simple and straightforward as our linear models presume." Ajan Amoro's whole talk was about the straightforward linear model that I had assumed to be the whole case. I'm interested in zafrogzen's  simultaneity and how this opens up a new way of looking at dependent origination.

I like Ajahn Amaro. I sat with him and listened to him talk when he was living near here. I felt totally at one with him in person. I also think his analysis of dependent origination makes perfect sense, especially the part about staying at the level of just "feeling" and not falling into desire. I'd interpret that as staying in the present (stillpoint) and not getting involved in ideas of past and future, which are just that -- "ideas" and not this present reality. That moment of stillness is where a new way of looking at dependent origination can open up and we realize that our separate individuality is not as separate as we imagined.

I must say, however, that getting rid of desire is very difficult, if not impossible, even for a monk. To try to do that, while admirable, looks to me like another desire connected to one's (seemingly) separate individuality.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

 


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