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THE 12 NIDANAS

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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 Based upon the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Nidanas are the CHIEF CAUSES which – when set in motion by the individual – result in the ongoing continuity of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, according to the Law of Karma.

They are symbolically represented as the twelve spokes of the ever-turning wheel of birth, death, and rebirth, or Samsara. They can be considered downwards from Avidya to Jaramarana or looked at from our immediate human circumstances of Jaramarana upwards to Avidya, which is the cause of all of it.

We should always keep in mind that the Nidanas are the Chain of Causation, in that Samskara proceeds from Avidya, Vijnana proceeds from Samskara, and so on and so on. They are…

1. AVIDYAIGNORANCE – Lack of proper perception of the real nature of things.

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2. SAMSKARA – COMPOUNDED ACTION – Action (physical, verbal, or mental), i.e. creating Karma, on the illusory plane of objective life.

3. VIJNANAMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS

4. NAMA-RUPANAME & FORM – The “personality,” the personal nature or lower self.

5. SADAYATANA – THE 6 SENSE SPHERES – The six senses belonging to the organs of sensation.

6. SPARSHACONTACT: PHYSICAL SENSE CONSCIOUSNESS – The actual contact or touch of the senses.

7. VEDANAFEELING – The perception of sensation (as the result of touching/feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, etc).

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8. TRISHNA (TANHA in Pali) – ATTACHMENT/DESIRE – The thirst for physical, objective, sensual existence (includes lust or Kama).

9. UPADANAGRASPINGClinging to life.

10. BHAVAEXISTENCEExistence, as the Karmic effect of causes set in motion.

11. JATIBIRTH – Being born into this world. Birth is the direct door to sickness, aging, and death.

12. JARAMARANAAGING & DEATHOld age and death.

By means of further explanation and illustration, we quote from Chapter 4 (“After The Enlightenment”) of the book “The Buddha and His Teachings” by Narada

    Throughout the first week [after his enlightenment) the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree in one posture, experiencing the Bliss of Emancipation (Vimutti Sukha).

    After those seven days had elapsed, the Buddha emerged from the state of concentration, and in the first watch of the night, thoroughly reflected on “The Dependent Arising” (Paticca Samuppada) in direct order thus: “When this (cause) exists, this (effect) is; with the arising of this (cause), this effect arises.”

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    Dependent on Ignorance (avijja) arise moral and immoral Conditioning Activities (samkhara).

    Dependent on Conditioning Activities arises (Relinking) Consciousness (vinnana).

    Dependent on (Relinking) Consciousness arise Mind and Matter (nama-rupa).

    Dependent on Mind and Matter arise the Six Spheres of Sense (salayatana).

    Dependent on the Six Spheres of Sense arises Contact (phassa).

    Dependent on Contact arises Feeling (vedana).

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    Dependent on Feeling arises Craving (tanha).

    Dependent on Craving arises Grasping (upadana).

    Dependent on Grasping arises Becoming (bhava).

    Dependent on Becoming arises Birth (jati).

    Dependent on Birth arise Decay (jara), Death (marana), Sorrow (soka), Lamentation (parideva), Pain (dukkha), Grief (domanassa), and Despair (upayasa).

    Thus does this whole mass of suffering originate.

    Thereupon the Exalted One, knowing the meaning of this, uttered, at that time, this paean of joy:

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    “When, indeed, the Truths become manifest unto the strenuous, meditative Brahmana, then do all his doubts vanish away, since he knows the truth together with its cause.”

    In the middle watch of the night the Exalted One thoroughly reflected on “The Dependent Arising” in reverse order thus: “When this cause does not exist, this effect is not; with the cessation of this cause, this effect ceases.

    With the cessation of Ignorance, Conditioning Activities cease.

    With the cessation of Conditioning Activities (Relinking) Consciousness ceases.

    With the cessation of (Relinking) Consciousness, Mind and Matter cease.

    With the cessation of Mind and Matter, the six Spheres of Sense cease.

    With the cessation of the Six Spheres of Sense, Contact ceases.

    With the cessation of Contact, Feeling ceases.

    With the cessation of Feeling, Craving ceases.

    With the cessation of Craving, Grasping ceases.

    With the cessation of Grasping, Becoming ceases.

    With the cessation of Becoming, Birth ceases.

    With the cessation of Birth, Decay, Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief, and Despair cease.

    Thus does this whole mass of suffering cease.

    Thereupon the Exalted One, knowing the meaning of this, uttered, at that time, this paean of joy:

    “When, indeed, the Truths become manifest unto the strenuous and meditative Brahmana, then all his doubts vanish away since he has understood the destruction of the causes.”

    In the third watch of the night, the Exalted One reflected on “The Dependent Arising” in direct and reverse order thus. “When this cause exists, this effect is; with the arising of this cause, this effect arises. When this cause does not exist, this effect is not; with the cessation of this cause, this effect ceases.

    Dependent on Ignorance arise Conditioning Activities…and so forth.

    Thus does this whole mass of suffering arise.

    With the cessation of Ignorance, Conditioning Activities cease…and so forth.

    Thus does this whole mass of suffering cease.

    Thereupon the Blessed One, knowing the meaning of this, uttered, at that time, this paean of joy:

    “When indeed the Truths become manifest unto the strenuous and meditative Brahmana, then he stands routing [dispelling] the hosts of the Evil One even as the sun illumines the sky.”

Source

basicsofbuddhism.wordpress