Chris Krause Pentola Eastern Philosophy Dependent Origination and the Nature of Reality By His Holiness The Dalai Lama Content Summarized: Page 35, Paragraph 1: Unpleasant perceptions are often the main creator of unhappiness and pain in the modern era. Events as we perceive them are not necessarily played out truthfully; we can only rationalize what we are viewing through our own senses. Page 35, Paragraph 2: We are unable to perceive the essential reality before we can explain phenomena. If we do not understand such, we are more likely to lead to unskillful actions. Page 36, Paragraph 1: If we observe apparent reality it becomes clear that it is impossible to remove a single phenomenon from the context of another phenomenon. Our own perceptions of the world are clouded in relationships, rationalizations and familiarity. Our own perceptions narrow any possible insight; it narrows our perspective and basically leads to spiritual tunnel vision of sorts. Our own perception is dwarfed by the monolithic complexity of existence. Commentary: His Holiness speaks the obvious truth. Our world is one predicated on illusory assumptions and one-sided virtues, on false pretense and fabricated necessity. Our own perception is what fuels various negative emotions such as hatred, lust, greed and self-loathing – perception is the enemy. Not much to say here, once again HH hits it on right on the dot. Modern meme vectors such as the media, government and factions utilize the apparent weakness in perceiving to push their own agendas. Using sensational rhetoric and fabricated threats a powerful centralized entity is possible to mold any exposed populace to its whim. Such manipulation of one’s mind is not as difficult as it sounds, the virus will selfreplicate as the first generation has been incubated. Most Americans fear olive skinned, Mongolian, towel heads because of the twisted perceptions of a certain unnamed pretzel-choking demagogue. Page 36, Paragraph 2: Dependant Origination is scientifically Dependant Origination (“ten del” in supported in the chaos theory (commonly Tibetan, articulated in the Madhyamika or known as the “Butterfly Effect”). The “Middle Way”): The progression of causes "butterfly effect" is a phrase that and conditions is the reality which applies encapsulates the more technical notion of to all things, from the natural environment, sensitive dependence on initial conditions which is an external, physical condition, to in chaos theory. The idea is that small the events of human society, ethical variations in the initial conditions of a principles, life events and the happiness dynamical system can produce large and suffering which manifest in our own variations in the long term behavior of the minds. These systems of causal system. So powerful is the effect of a single relationship are part of the one natural butterfly flapping its wings that a tornado truth. Our happiness within this natural could be created after the nearly limitless system depends on having some knowledge number of matter relations has been of how it works and practicing correctly resolved. That is, a single gust of air from a within it, through addressing problems on butterfly’s wing could change the future so the personal, social, and environmental much that entire continents could be levels. Given that all things are destroyed. The butterfly effect shows how interconnected, and all are affecting each truly dangerous time travel is, if even a other, success in dealing with the world lies single variable (such as a different thought in creating harmony within it. in one’s mind creating a microscopic charge across the brain or the rattling of one’s shoe lace against leather) were to be changed, the future (or present) would be irrevocably shattered in the most severe degree. Page 37, Paragraphs 1-2: Once again using science to reinforce Mutual Dependence: A whole may not Buddhist concepts- no one knows what exist without parts; a part may not exist makes up subatomic particles such as without a whole. Everything is reduced to a quarks, but obviously something must take truly minute unit – one which cannot be up that space. We have no instrument measured or understood by humans. advanced enough to locate the smallest division of any piece of matter. Even the Independent identity is an illusion, only idea of a quark is a concept, since quarks predicated by popular rhetoric. For only can be divided, in the smallest example, a farmer belongs to his hand; a instance, amongst other quarks (3-5 at doctor has a grasp on dentistry. minimum). Page 38, Paragraph 1: Everything is interconnected. From the (More on independent identity) Naming looming hierarchies of centralized religion things is just a provisional placeholder for and institution to the thoughts we manage their limitless parts and attributes. There is to formulate in our own mind, everything is no defining factor which makes a pot a pot, involved in a massive web of cause and it is simply a naming convention used for effect, of parts and wholes. convenience. A pot cannot exist by itself; it must be dependently originated – that is, put together by a theoretically limitless number of elements. Page 38, Paragraph 2: As I have brought up numerous times in Perception is predicated on the sense class- what we sense is actually rendered organ- an unreliable medium for neural by our brain. What we see or smell is our input. In the end it is impossible to own brain’s physical attempt at relaying understand what we are sensing, and can data to us through cognition. This is only understand it as a massive web of essentially what HH is hinting at, but as interaction and complex events. before, we can bring science into the picture to support spiritual maxims. Page 39, Paragraphs 1-2: Pulling out the scientific support once more Exactly as hinted prior, HH uses alternative we can observe quantum and chaos terminology to refer to a rendered mathematics concept of time. Just as in consciousness, one which is dependently dependant origination, time is not linear originated and not entirely reliable. and is simply an endless array of matter relations and potentially infinite relations. Time is a convention and is illusory, Time travel, albeit physically possible, is dependently originated on the effectively impossible. To time travel, one rationalizations of past and future. We would have to physically “rewind” every experience the present at all times, linear variable in existence – not really time time does not exist. traveling at all (in the classical sense), more like tampering with matter states. This being said, time does not exist in a calm state but is constantly developing at the now. This is where quantum physics suggests that every new variable in existence ever effective creates a parallel universe. Page 40, Paragraphs 1-2, Page 41, The only way to live is to live Paragraph 1: compassionately. To live with The present exists but we cannot perceive it unconditional love for all living beings is objectively. The present is dependant on the only way to create a harmonious the state of the past and future. presence within the present. When one reverts to vileness and the less lawful Every action, no matter how insubstantial, tendencies of emotional living he is unable affects the whole of existence. With this to grasp the true essence of what it means being said, it is perhaps best to develop a to live. To reach this level of unconditional harmonious relationship with the present. It concern one must discipline himself to is useless to perceive anything as being restrain from hedonistic acts and emotional solid, immovable, discrete or permanent. subjectivity, to renounce all idols and When one considers dependant origination obligations to a memetic society and live he is drawn away from the tendency to naturally. exaggerate a single entity to represent existence when in truth a much wider perspective exists. Page 41, Paragraph 2: Traditional modern logic is only acceptable Dependent origination is iconoclastic in for the bovine. So much must be cast aside that it demands the perceiver discount all as useless before even the most primeval use in subjective black and white baby steps can be taken to unlock the mind. rationality and concept of a self (Anatta). The merit of a soul has long since passed, a The concept of absolutes and concrete human fear veiled in ignorance and rhetoric dissolve, the awkward and mystic instituted by the Vatican and its idea of a soul fades and classifying benefactors to represent the pinnacle of “others” becomes pointless. human spirituality. No! Page 42, Paragraphs 1-2: This is where HH runs into the most (More evidence that the concept of Self is controversy with many Buddhist illusory)The Self cannot be represented by philosophers. Many philosophers believe one’s mind or physical self. We refer to that the consciousness (mind) may very such in terms of ownership: “my body,” well represent the self. HH manages to “my speech,” “my mind.” It is more skillfully debunk this notion as absurd. appropriate to think of the self as an interconnected web of interrelated phenomena. Page 43, Paragraphs 1-2: The convention of “I” is acceptable in everyday communication. However, it is unacceptable for anything said to be observed as being true. HH uses the example “No one has seen a unicorn.” Conventions may be acceptable when they do not interfere with the experience of the present and do not infringe upon the sincere presentation of knowledge. Perception rouses emotion, thought and preconception on the way something supposedly appears to us. Our perception is typically tainted by our past experiences and sensory dependency and will never come out objectively. HH uses the example of a coiled rope mistakenly perceived as a snake to arouse fear. Herein lies the concept of independently existing self. Page 44, Paragraphs 1-2: This brings up the concept of linear incarnations of the persona and the identity of the self as an indistinguishable, remote duplex of the perceiver and perceived. For example when one says “I hate myself” he is speaking of a remote self, not the actual self existing at the present – two selves, a duplex. In this instance we are once again unable to define the self (because it does not exist) or anything else for that matter, only as a never-ending matrix of related phenomena. Page 45, Paragraph 1: Entities and events (without an intrinsic classical reality) can only be defined by their dependently originated elements. This does not suggest nihilism (or the philosophy that nothing exists) but on the contrary simply observes phenomena as the only distinguishable experience. Dependant Origination is the basis of all Buddhist Personally, I concur with the concept that the self, really, the present, is more an interconnected web of phenomena. Pretty much common sense stuff here. Rhetorical conventions will always be utilized (unless we find a magical way of communicating purely) in modern speech. HH argues these are acceptable as long as what is being said is not being perceived as an absolute truth. Since we have established that absolutes cannot exist, what is being said or perceived is not absolute, we live in a world of relativities. [Insert redundancy here] It is impossible to pinpoint the self as anything else but the dependently originated fabrication of our own senses. With the concept of self debunked, there is no intrinsic value to the atman or any other mystical Hindu teachings which are all predicated on the existence of a fragile soul which decides one’s reincarnation as a dung beetle or Brahmin priest. [Insert redundancy here] To create true happiness it is of utmost importance that we not only reflect on the interrelationship of all things in the natural order, but also see ourselves clearly as one system of causal relationships within that natural order, becoming aware first of the internal mental factors, then those in our life experiences, in society, and ultimately in the world around us. This is why, of all philosophy, and while itself only being a convention, proposes a robust framework for understanding the experience in which we all are a part of. the systems of causal relationship based on the law "because there is this, that arises; when this ceases that ceases," the teachings of Buddhism begin with, and stress throughout, the factors involved in the creation of suffering in individual awareness -- "because there is ignorance, there are volitional formations." - P. A. Payutto I couldn’t have put it better myself if I tried.