On the 12th Day of Christmas…

On the 12th Day of Christmas…

On the twelve day of Christmas, my True Self gave to me;

12 Interdependent Links of Co-Arising

(11 Virtuous Mental Factors; 10 Realms of Existence; 9 Points of Death Meditation; 8 Great Tenets of Mahayana; 7 Factors of Awakening; 6 Paramitas; 5 Indriyana; 4 Noble Truths; 3 Dharma Seals; 2 Satyas; and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)

The Twelve Interdependent Links of Co-Arising

There has been a theme in these series of posts; in one the rest remain. And this is precisely the message of the twelve interdependent links of co-arising (pratitya samutpadd). Sure we all know what cause-effect entails, do we not? That there is a cause and then an effect? Because the Cosmos is rides on the tracks of time right? The teaching of pratitya samutpadd is the teaching that cause and effect co-arise; the cultivation of the clarity to see that what came first is not the chicken or the egg. The answer is obvious- they are but one. The egg is in the chicken and the chicken in the egg. They inter-be.

There is a simple, yet profound, way to view this link or association; this is such because that is such. Both exist. One did not come before and is now completely eliminated from the Cosmos. It is settling to see things in this way; the wisdom of interdependency shines through, and this feels like a mother’s calming embrace- completely supportive. Everything that has ever existed/happened has lead up to this moment- where you are- and everything that could ever exist or happen is present here too, as pure potentiality. If something has yet to manifest, that is very different from absence. Can we ever really be sure that anything is absent? What would that mean in actuality?

These are the twelve pratitya samutpadd:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Volitional actions
  3. Consciousness
  4. Mind-Body
  5. Six Sense Organs (and corresponding objects)
  6. Contact
  7. Feeling
  8. Craving
  9. Grasping
  10. Coming to be
  11. Birth
  12. Old Age and Death

These needn’t be in that order; the interdependency at the heart of this teaching of course points to a more supportive structure than a linear relationship. These twelve are often taught from the perspective of a deluded mind, but of course there is the flip side. So let us ignite the bodhichitta, the Great Aspiration, and be motivated by Love, looking to future with more peace.

In this way, the twelve links are reframed here, as presented by Thich Nhat Hanh:

  1. Clear Understanding

  2. Great Aspiration

  3. Four Wisdoms

  4. Transformation Body

  5. Result Body

  6. Mindfulness of contact

  7. Mindfulness of feeling

  8. Four Immeasurable Minds

  9. Freedom

  10. Wondrous Being

  11. Wisdom of no-birth

  12. Wisdom of no-death

It is possible you are ignorant in a particular situation, but it is also possible for the clear understanding to emerge also, if one is practising the Dharma. And ignorance (avidya) settles into clear understanding (vidya). Just as the darkness of night recedes for the dawn of the day. And within this of course the others flourish. For example, a clear understanding of situations includes a clear understanding of birth and death (11 & 12). And in this way the wisdom of no-birth and no-death flourishes. Birth and death are not ignored, but we are no longer flittering away energy and power into them. This wisdom is not one of transcending beingness and accomplishing non-beingness; this the Buddha made clear in his first Dharma talk. The path is not one of escapism. But rather no-birth and no-death is to say a complete redefinition of what it means. Birth is okay, and so is death; simply the waves upon which it is completely necessary for a Boddhisatva to ride upon. With clear understanding this is known and will come to be embodied. Thus, from one side birth and death- it is, but the equivalent, made of the exactly the same substance, just viewed with absolute clarity, nirvana- it is.

Just as we can say, for example, clear understanding enables the realisation of the wisdom of no-birth and no-death; we can also say that clear understanding is not clear understanding unless accompanied by this wisdom of no-birth and no-death, since it will be ignorant of this wisdom at least. They co-arise.

“The gate to oneness of cause and effect opens;

neither two nor three, the path runs straight.” -Hakuin Zenji

So what is done, is done with all else is done. This moment is precious because it is where infinity resides– not as some abstract symbol, but in a very literal sense. All is here, the unblemished complete manifest, and not-yet-manifest Cosmos. This is rather good news.

“A beginner’s meditation is the complete expression of perfect enlightenment.” -Dōgen Zenji

Take a seat with me and let us now sit with earnest; allowing Buddhahood to permeate throughout space and time, everywhere in all times is the realm of Buddha.


Thank You for visiting Only Yoking,

Your visiting and my writing co-arise!



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