Jayarava on Dependent Arising

I just had a thought that there maybe a reason for this apparently repeated section: an enlightened being would experience feelings etc but wouldn’t give rise to craving, bhava, jati, suffering. This can be explained by the non existence of avijja. This means to apply to the situation of the enlightened mind the whole 12 steps are important.

The DO can be circular if we connect a newborn life with latent tendencies, which in turn can lead to strengthened ignorance.

The main function of the DO is the reversal of the DO, and the 2nd and 3rd Noble Truths that gives rise to. A kalyanamitta is a cause, eventual reversal of the DO is the resulting effect.

It seems to me the imasmin sati formula is a general formula in which the Buddha attempts to initially get at the principle of causality to the listener. Even the repeated lines I believe are simply an attempt to explain the same thing from a slightly different angle.

feeling–> craving–> [1.solid food 2.intentions 3.contact 4.consciousness]–> nutriment for beings about to be born and already born.

Solid food, whether coarse or fine; contact is the second, mental intention the third, and consciousness the fourth. These are the four fuels that maintain sentient beings that have been born and help those that are about to be born. SuttaCentral

There seems to be a multitude of causes for birth.

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Good point. I just ran with his assumption, but, yes, I suppose he doesn’t really explain his assertion of simultaneity anywhere, other than an appeal to authority: Buddhaghosa and a Sri Lankan writer. Not being familiar with the basis for their opinions, I’m none the wiser, which is a shame given it’s key part of his overall argument.

That’s a nice angle on the mirrored sections!

That’s one reason why I shy away from logical sufficiency. Logical necessity by itself is looser: a condition may lead to an effect when other factors being favourable ( there may be saṅkhāra and it’s reasonable to expect we need the right saṅkhāra but physical conditions may also be need to be right etc.).

He rejects the sequential mode, right?

I think he does, but I’m not clear why, since “When this arises, that arises” appears to describe one thing following another.

For example, you could have an instance of vedana arising in dependence upon an instance of phassa. This is clearly sequential, with no requirement for simultaneity.

Having said that, I find the distinction between the two main modes of conditionality in DO quite difficult to understand.

The sequential mode is “When this arises, that arises”. So when A arises, B arises.
This could either mean A continuing with B ( when describing states or processes ), or A ceasing as soon as B arises ( when describing events or instances ).
Though actually A continuing with B looks more like “When this is, that is”, the synchronous mode.

In the editing process, my username seems to have gotten swapped for @DKervick’s :slight_smile: , so I’ll leave him respond. One comment though. Wouldn’t vedana still be simultaneous with phassa? After all isn’t vedana essentially just a pleasant, unpleasant or neutral colouring of the raw contact sensory input (with craving likewise depending on the simultaneous presence of the vedana)? Surely, that immediately dries up when the contact also vanishes?

Yes, you’re right. Old age and death arising in dependence upon birth would be a better example of the sequential mode.

Does tanha arise simultaneously with vedana? I’m not sure.

I suppose even for the synchronous mode, simultaneity at most only goes one way: the earlier factor vanishing results in the simultaneous disappearance of the later factor. However, surely, an earlier factor being present doesn’t imply simultaneous arising of the later factor (doesn’t necessarily happen for transcendental DO anyway).

That kind of simultaneity may be present though for contact to feeling, but I suppose Jayarava’s main point is that the earlier factor has to continue to be present for the later factor to arise (so delay is possible).

I suppose craving does generally need prior and continuing vedana, though I guess it doesn’t literally have to be through the senses. One can crave for ice cream without literally tasting it. Presumably, in this case the thought of the ice cream is in the mind (contact via mind sense base) and a pleasant vedana is attached. Would the ice cream craving make sense without that? Though granted picturing an ice cream in the mind may not instantly result in craving! :ice_cream: :slight_smile:

I can also see why some might interpret the imasmim sati 4-line formula to contain just the synchronous mode if one interprets lines 2 and 4 as just being there to qualify lines 1 and 3 respectively (this phrase is often translated with semi-colons between lines 1&2 and 3&4). Line 4 “from the ceasing of this, that ceases.” also isn’t entirely compatible with a simple “knocking a set of dominoes” sequential causation (it’s saying if the earlier condition ceases, then so does the later one, though maybe not immediately; that’s as if we stood up the earlier domino and then expected later fallen dominoes to stand back up again). Really only line 2 seems possibly compatible with a simple sequential reading.

But as you say birth leading to death is in sequential mode (it’s hard to make it fit into Jayarava’s scheme). The same actually goes for the steps from ignorance to saṅkhāra / viññāṇa, which seems to me to be birth as well. Even if ignorance is later destroyed, birth isn’t undone (the new arahant doesn’t vanish in a puff of smoke).

I suppose the synchonous mode can be made to work within a single life. The chain from viññāṇa / name-and-form all the way along to bhava (or maybe even jati) does seem to work well enough in the synchronous mode (arguably anyway). It does all seem to break down though in the link from the tail end of the previous life to birth in this life or the link to the next life.

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This depends on what’s meant by ‘simultaneous’. Form (rupa) and space (akasa) is said to arise together- they are necessary for each other in that their limits are demarcated by each other AFAIK.

“[1]. Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with [2]. contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is [3]. touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it, and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one. MN 148: The Six Sets of Six (English) - Majjhima Nikāya - SuttaCentral

I think [1] to [3] is a series and shows how perception progresses and finally ends in seeing with all the components of perceiving a single stimulus. To understand what we are seeing (or any other sense modality) we would have to include all the factors known as the five aggregates in the action of sensing.

Are they conjoined at the hip? They are- that is they are invariable. However they do not happen at the same time as 1) otherwise it wouldn’t able to see them distinctly to tell them apart. 2) experientially it is possible to note that they arise separately. If someone turns their head with their eyes closed, to a direction where they aren’t certain what is there- the second they open their eyes there will be a split second before seeing the ‘raw’ colours and images (phassa) before recognising (sanna) it.

Some causes could only bear effects if other causes (like ignorance) was present in the ‘background’.

I think that the Buddha was simply explaining the concept of causality with the imasmin sati line. It could be:

  1. simultaneous or not
  2. necessary or not
  3. always efficacious or not (such as ignorance not being present).

Yes, I see what you mean. It seems likes 3 out of the 4 lines apply to the arising/ceasing of states or processes, with only line 2 applying to events or instances.

Actually I think that dependent origination in cessation mode is quite difficult to understand, given that the nidanas include the aggregates, and all aspects of mentality/materiality. And what does the cessation of birth and death look like, practically speaking?

I have seen lots of interpretations of DO, but I don’t find any of them satisfactory. Meanwhile there is always ice-cream. :yum:

I suppose Jayarava insisting that the four-line formula must mean synchronous mode isn’t unreasonable (arguable at least). Then his core argument seems to be that transcendental DO fits nice into a synchronous scheme but the 12 nidāna really don’t. I don’t entirely buy this. To summarize where I disagree with him:

  1. There’s no need to bring in Sarvāstivādin all-causes–at-all-times theory into the argument: Infinite chains of dominoes are not needed for the transcendental DO case and IMO neither are they needed for the nidāna case. You can have a kind of wave/accordion advancing/retreating 12 step model for both. Probably easiest way to do this for nidāna DO is to have saṅkhāra (foundation lake of kamma) as a starting point for the core sequence going all the way to bhava (as a kind of kamma top-up mechanism) for the end point. Like transcendental DO, you then have a reasonable synchronous advancing/retreating chain (one advance/retreat per life for the nidāna case).
  2. The kamma to birth steps do present a problem: Maybe Jayarava has a point here. Steps 10 to 11 to 12 (bhava to birth to suffering/aging/death) looks sequential rather than synchronous (the same problem holds when going from step 2 to steps 3&4). That’s usually not a problem in my “core” DO sequence (steps 2 to 10) given that saṅkhāra never actually vanishes (and I can wave away from same problem with steps 10/11/12 by saying they, like step 1, are just mirroring steps 2/3/4 of the “core” cycle). Except that, for an arahant, stage 1 (saṅkhāra) does actually vanish and later steps like name-and-form inconveniently and non-synchronously hang around for a while.
  3. Transcendental DO does have a more-or-less similar problem: The twelve-step sequence in the Upanisa sutta starts at suffering before going to faith, to joy and so on. Suffering is always there as a base case, except for the arahant who goes all the way to the final stage of knowledge of the ending of the defilements step, then, presumably, the first step (suffering) ceases, but later steps then don’t immediately cease (so that’s not very synchronous either).

Overall, I think we can actually logically contort nidāna DO to fit @Jayarava’s synchronous model (at least as much as transcendental DO fits it anyway). None of these arguments are probably going to help anyone actually understand DO! :slight_smile: I’d also agree that none of the DO explanations seem entirely satisfactory.

Still, as you say, at least there’s always the ice cream! :icecream: (well, unless impending Brexit cuts off the local gelato supply :scream: :wink: ).

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That’s one of the reasons I voted “Remain”. :yum:

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I think all we can say is that one leads to the next.

One can probably go a little further than that.

Jayarava seems to strongly assume of kind of instantaneous synchronous mode: if an earlier factor ceases, then later factors cease simultaneously also. For the most part in the two DO sequences, that works. This is rather like the causation model of a gas cooker! :slight_smile: Suppose we have a pot of water on the hob, we light the gas and it starts to boil. If we remove an earlier factor, i.e. turn off the gas ring, then the boiling will stop fairly immediately.

This causation model doesn’t entirely work for the kamma (bhava or sankhara) to birth steps. The causation model there is more like an electric cooker! :slight_smile: If you turn off an electric ring, it stays quite hot for quite a long time. Eventually the pot will stop boiling (probably not for quite a bit though). I suppose the fourth line: "From the ceasing of this, that ceases. " of the imasmim sati 4-line formula is still met. Or, using the more extreme example of a wood-fire range, if one stops feeding it new logs, then eventually it will die out (but there will be hot embers for quite a while and the pot will probably keep boiling until it’s boiled dry).

So Jayarava’s English translation of the forumla does work for both the electric and gas cooker examples:

This being, that becomes.
From the arising of this, that arises.
This not being, that doesn’t become.
From the ceasing of this, that ceases.

But he seems to imply that the Pali in line 1 (and line 3 IIRC) implies even stronger simultaneity: only “gas cooker” causation (a Pali-based assertion which is beyond my pay grade :slight_smile: ). If you loosen Jayarava’s core premise just a little (permit electric cookers also :wink: ): that removing an earlier factor eventually leads to the cessation of the later factors, then everything is hunky-dory again in the basic logic of the 2 DO sequences.

Well, on second thoughts, given that Irish farming is, for the most part, green fields, rain, and dairy cows, maybe the real Brexit danger is an all ice cream diet (maybe with the occasional bit of cheese for variation)! :smile:

An interesting analogy, and I suspect this is descriptive of DO in cessation mode - so there is a progressive “winding down” of the various nidana processes.

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In Salistamba Sutra (link at 84000.co), one of the earliest mahayana sutra on dependent arising, state that dependent arising has causal relation and conditional relation.
Causal relation seems to correspond with “from arising of this …” and conditional relation with “this being …”
In the sutra, causal relation associated with 12 nidana (avijja,sankhara…), while conditional relation associated with six element (earth,water,…)