Is ignorance (DO context or not) "causeless"?

Title edited to reflect discussion.

I originally posted this here, but ultimately decided that is was off-topic to the OP.

Original Post:[quote]I am sorry if this is unduly against the intentions of the OP, this post I mean, but I have read, in papers FAR over my head (Buddhist and “academic” alike), about the “merger of cause and effect” that is (allegedly) inherent in DO, and they all go far over my head, but seem internally consistent, if only I could figure out what is going on.

Disclaimer: the relation between the “first” (and therefore also the “second”) “link” of DO are utter mysticism to me, the understanding of these relations, IMO, are largely unrelated to “the ways of conditionedness” (and by extension logic and other worldly processes).

IMO, if these links are happening in a way that is approachable by reason and logic, then they are happening constantly, all of them, all at once. That is the only way I can start to make sense of it. The “merger” of cause and effect, I suspect, is a result of “fundamental causlessness” at the first link: ignorance to saṅkhāra. If the “first” link is causeless, then, by extension, it lends its causelessness to the entirety of the whole (the other links), as each “link” seamlessly leads into another instantaneously (IMO) and all “really” occur simultaneously and constantly (IMO again).

That is just my own understanding, or rather, my “attempt” at understanding.[/quote]

What is your responce to the above?

My best response would be that ignorance is not causeless, see MN9.

Correct, the 1st condition seems to be without a cause (hetu), in that no preceding cause (hetu) can be found, as explained in AN 10.61:

Ito pubbe avijjā nāhosi, atha pacchā samabhavī’ti. Evañcetaṃ, bhikkhave, vuccati, atha ca pana paññāyati: ‘idappaccayā avijjā’

‘A first point of ignorance, bhikkhus, is not seen such that before this there was no ignorance and afterward it came into being.’ Still, ignorance is seen to have a specific condition (paccaya). AN 10.61

However, here, AN 10.61 seems to explain ignorance has a condition (paccaya), namely, the nutriment (ahara) of the five hindrances.

I say, bhikkhus, that ignorance has a nutriment; it is not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for ignorance? It should be said: the five hindrances. AN 10.61

What this appears to mean is while the five hindrances continue to exist, ignorance will continue to exist or be nourished with food (ahara).

Similarly, MN 9 explains an origin (samdhaya), namely, the asava; with both ignorance & asava causing eachother to arise (samudhaya). However, an issue here is ignorance is one of the asava.

Ignorance is not ‘unconditoned’, like Nibbana is unconditioned, because ignorance can be ended.

Why I say ignorance is without cause (hetu) is because when a cause ends, the effect will immediately end.

However, with ignorance, its nutriment (the five hindrances) may end, such as in the 1st jhana, but this does not mean ignorance immediately ends.

Ignorance lingers until final vipassana eradicates it completely. Thus, ignorance is ‘conditioned’.



In the first jhāna the
five hindrances being
suppressed only , right ?
one may encounter it again if
somehow one receding
from the state.

The meaning of ignorant
is not attentive or mindfully
observing the sense door,
and give rise the view that
the body and mind state as self .
SA 334

[quote=“Piotr, post:2, topic:5729, full:true”]
My best response would be that ignorance is not causeless, see MN9.
[/quote]If I may, MN 9 seems to set up basically the same situation as described in the Paccayasutta.

The only difference is that ignorance is given a formal cause: namely, taints.

But what causes taints? Ignorance. Which sort of puts us back into the seamless fundamentally and causeless ignorance from the Paccayasutta (this stemming from interpretation obv). DO seems to set up an infinitely regressing chicken-and-egg scenario with these two mutual co-causes. It seems, to me, that the only way this entire system becomes coherent is if it is fundamentally “causeless”, that is to say, that nothing “causes” DO to “start”. It is simply already going from unthinkable (nonexistent) beginning? Is this sensible? This is what it seems to imply, to me at least.

In MN 9, these two “mutual” co-causings, ignorance causing taints and taints causing ignorance, if anything, they seem to seamlessly bring eachother into existence via their existence itself.

The seem like “functional svabhavas” (as opposed to “true svabhavas”, the cessation of which would be theoretically impossible), in fact, the entire “chain” seems to be related pseudo-svabhavas.

How do you interpret MN 9 differently than I am?

[quote=“James, post:4, topic:5729, full:true”]

In the first jhāna the
five hindrances being
suppressed only , right ?
one may encounter it again if
somehow one receding
from the state…[/quote]
As Deele noted, perhaps not “immediately”… But there’s this idea of “practice”, like in playing a musical instrument. The more it’s done, the stronger the skillful habits can become, crowding-out the bad habits. Suspending the hindrances, even briefly at first, is a step in the right direction, a taste of what it’s like for the mind to be free (cetovimutti), and strengthening motivation to press further (or let go further). And, when samadhi used right – to hone the mind for insight – it chips away at not-knowing (a-vijja) and builds “knowledge and vision”.

Btw: Was just this evening looking something up in Au Auk Sayadaw books, and ran across how he emphasizes using vipassana after jhana to reflect, glean insight into the jhana state itself (along the lines of Sariputta’s reputed method – MN-111) – insight into its anicca-dukkha-anatta, but also how it suspends hindrances, i.e. towards understanding how to strengthen and deepen that ability. Samadhi’s cetovimutti (deliverance of mind) is transient, but can help illuminate the road to total release, Unbinding.

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In places, the suttas refer to the hindrances “abandoned” & “cleansed” rather than “suppressed”.

Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will & anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will & anger. Abandoning sloth & drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth & drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth & drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness & anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness & anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.

Having abandoned these five hindrances — imperfections of awareness that weaken discernment — then, quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhāna… MN 38

Regardless, my point was when the cause (hetu) of something is absent, the thing caused should immediately cease to exist.

For example, if a physical body has absolutely no oxygen in it or its heart stops functioning, the physical body should immediately die.

This does not seem to occur to ignorance when the hindrances end.

It seems removing the food (ahara) of ignorance is not enough to end ignorance.

It seems, in addition, vipassana (seeing the truth) is required to end ignorance.

Regards :seedling:

The cause and food
should be different .
The “cause” for ignorant is
" no right attention " , or
" no right mindfulness " .
So , in order to end ignorant ,
continuous right mindfulness
or Contemplations is required .

You seem to be saying here that the cause of ignorance is not applying the solution to ignorance.

This seems to be the same as saying: “The cause of an infection is not taking antibiotics” instead of saying the cause of an infection is bacteria.


SA 334

(不正思维 = Ayoniso-manasikara)
(因= cause , 缘= conditions ,
(無明= ignorant , 癡= delusion)

There is no English
translation in SC .
I will try to translate it :

What then is the ignorant cause ,
ignorant conditions ,
ignorant binds?
It is by not applying
right attention on the cause,
by not applying right
attention on the conditions ,
by not applying right
attention on the binds ,
and , What is not the
right attention on cause ,
right attention on conditions ,
right attention on binds ?
That is , with eyes , the rupa
as conditions , inattention arises , therefore the delusion (ignorant) arises .

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If I can try to refine my OP to see if it is salvageable in this context:

Some of the links of DO seem reasonably connected with distinct events, for instance death, for instance birth, perhaps even “clinging” can be thought of as a “distinct event”, however, other links are not so easy to pin down to any one distinct “moment” that they “happen in”, consider saṅkhāra arising from ignorance: is this a distinct event happening “many times” as to appear constant? or is this instead simply a constant process? It doesn’t seem clear.

Only the bits around perception in the middle seem to be constantly happening AFAIK.