Dependent Arising (Paticca Samupada) is an elaboration of the Four Noble Truths or cause and effect. It is also known as The Wheel of Becoming or The Wheel of Life and Death. It explains the conditions that lead to rebirth, to our next life, our next existence. The Buddha explains Dependent Arising over three lifetimes, the past one, the present one and the futher one. Then the present life becomes the past life, joining its habit energy to all the previous past lives in our next existence.
The Four Noble Truths - related to a medical diagnosis 1. Suffering (unsatisfactoriness): the symptom 2. Craving (wanting): the cause 3. Cessation: i.e. the good news is that mental suffering can end: the prognosis 4. Noble Eightfold Path i.e. the treatment ______________________________________________________________ Past Life 1. Ignorance: of the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Arising (cause and effect) i.e. not seeing reality 2. Volitional Formations: Sankharas (karmma): our intentions that occur prior to every action, speech and thought. Can be conscious but are often unconscious, i.e.habit energy. ______________________________________________________________ Present Life 3. Consciousness: there are six acts of consciousness: sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and mental consciousness 4. Mentality Materiality: our mental and physical aspects 5. Six Sense Faculties: eyes, ears, tongue, nose, body and mind 6. Contact: between our senses and their objects i.e. eye and sights, ear and sounds etc. 7. Feeling tone (vedana): our immediate reaction to any sense consciousness of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. (3 - 7 all arise simultaneously. They are all just different aspects of a sensory experience.) 8. Craving: wanting 9. Clinging 10. Existence (the realm we are born into eg. hell realm, human realm, heavenly realm etc) ______________________________________________________________ Future Life 11. Birth 12. Aging and Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief and Despair: i.e. suffering So our consciousness, body and mind, sense bases, contact and feelings experienced in this current life are partly due to our ignorance and intentions from a past cause. Then if we elaborate our feelings into craving, clinging and becoming in this life, these become the present cause of a future result of birth, aging and death. Moment by Moment Dependent Arising Some teachers have reinterpreted Dependent Arising to apply it to our moment to moment existence. This is very helpful. It guides us to noticing how we are creating skillful or unskillful kamma moment by moment. The first 20 minutes of this Dhamma talk by Ajahn Amaro gives a nice explanation of moment by moment Dependent Arising. Dependent Arising looks at the relationship between ignorance and how it gives rise to craving (truth #2) which leads to suffering (truth #1). Ignorance is defined as not knowing the Four Noble Truths or Dependent Arising (cause and effect) i.e. not seeing reality clearly. The Four Noble Truths and Dependent Arising are both just describing reality. The more ignorant we are (step 1), the more fully we believe our perceptions, judgments, opinions, fears, likes and dislikes, hopes. We have created what we think is reality but isn't. This ignorance fuels the habits of craving. It is this unconscious habit energy that fuels our intentions (most of these intentions are unconscious). (step 2) At this stage the intention underlies what it is that we focus on in the world around us or in our mental world. When we become conscious of sights, sounds, thoughts etc (step 3), because we have a body and mind (step 4) with sense organs (eyes, ears etc) (step 5), when the sights and sounds etc make contact with our sense organs (step 6) there is a simultaneous feeling tone of like, dislike or neutral. (step 7). We can, with awareness, stop the process of arising at this point. It's just a sight, just a sound, just a thought etc. Not mine. But usually we elaborate into craving (step 8) to have the sense object or craving to get rid of it. Craving occurs when the mind begins to get lost in its likes and dislikes. It then attaches to/clings to (step 9) a certain physical, verbal or mental action. This is intention at its next stage. Existence (bhava) (step 10) is the mind made realm that we are born into. In moment to moment life, if we are angry, we are born into a hell realm. If we just follow our impulses with no consideration of consequences we are born into the animal realm. If we do an act of generosity we are born into a heavenly realm. Some translators translate bhava as becoming, but it is bhāva with a long a. Becoming is creating the circumstances needed to satisfy the craving according to Bhikkhu Yutadhammo. Ajahn Amaro says becoming is the YES moment just before the desire is satisfied. At the point of no return, when you have committed to the action, this is called birth (step 11). Step 12 is the aftermath of the action which involves suffering. This is because the newly acquired object requires maintenance or loses its charm or wears out or ends etc. Death, when using Dependent Arising to describe moment to moment arisings, occurs when that desire is done with and the cycle of Dependent Arising starts again.