An Examination of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination, the Eight Consciousnesses Theory of Mind-Only Philosophy

On Yogacara and Agency


Research Paper (undergraduate), 2017
20 Pages, Grade: A
Andrew Baston (Author)

Free online reading

Content

Introduction

The Effect of the Alaya-Vijnana

The Effect of the Klistamanas

The Effect of Latent Tendencies

The Effect of the Factors of the Environment

Pratityasamutpada

Conclusion

Bibliography

Appendix A

Introduction

There is an apparent casual order to the universe, some apparent pattern or design – not to imply a conscious designer, but rather a reality of cause and effect. As we try to measure the contours of our reality, a reality that becomes limited in one thought and infinite in another, we often find ourselves caught between limited and infinite, trying to figure out how much of it is caused by something else and how much of it is caused by us. Pratityasamutpada, the doctrine of dependent origination, and sunyata, the doctrine of emptiness, are the two most fundamental teachings in Mahayana Buddhism. Together they teach that everything and every moment is a temporary construction that is inherently empty of any independent existence. The doctrine of dependent-origination seems to imply that reality is a culmination of factors imposing a limited moment-to-moment, framed existence. And it’s here, in this imposition of limitations that free will comes into question. How much free will do we have in this moment-to-moment reality of causality? In order to better understand how free will applies to Buddhism, I will redefine free will in the context of Buddhism. Being a western, Abrahamic concept, we might be willing to dismiss it as irrelevant – a Western concept, inapplicable to eastern philosophy. Certainly in the context of Christianity or Islam, free will means something different than it does when used in the context of Buddhism. And part of the reason why is that there is a reward system attached to the concept, rewarding us for good works and punishing us for our sins. For this reason, I will reduce the meaning of free will to raw, unconditioned, godless freedom,[1] by simply eliminating the part that doesn’t apply to Buddhism (i.e. reward and punishment), and I will define free will as personal autonomy: the ability to act on one’s own will,[2] unaffected by causality, totally independent of anything other than one’s own self.

The Yogacarins attempted to explain the process of volition by developing the eight consciousnesses, a theory of perception, cognition, karma and transmigration. They divided consciousness into two levels of interconnected, co-operating processes; what Tagawa Shun’ei called “the surface mind” and “the deep mind.”[3] Within the deep mind, the solution to the mysteries of transmigration were postulated as a type of store house consciousness that receives karma, holds it while it is conditioned by new karma, and distributes it accordingly, all within the context of the doctrines of dependent-origination and emptiness.[4] Richard King defined dependent-origination in Philosophy East and West as “the fact that there is no creator (nihkartrkartha), the fact of causality (sahetukartha), the fact that there is no being (nihsatvatha), the fact of dependence (paratanrartha), the fact that there is no mover (nirihartha), the fact of impermanence (anityartha), the fact that all is momentary (ksanikartha), the fact that there is an uninterrupted continuity of cause and effect (hetuphalaprabhandhanupaccheartha), the fact that there is conformity between cause and effect (anurupahetuphalartha), the fact of the variety of causes and effects (pratiniyatahetuphalartha).”[5] Clearly the meaning of dependent origination entails more than just cause and effect, and I will keep all of the elements of King’s list in mind as I make my argument.

The purpose of this essay is to prove that, in the context of dependent origination, we have no control over our actions. I will attempt to name as many causes as I can and I will support my thesis in the context of Buddhist philosophy, using Buddhist texts, primary and secondary sources, reviewing the function and effects of the alaya-vijnana, the klistamanas and latent tendencies, to determine the causality of person[6] and volition, and the lack of personal autonomy. Although it may seem that by ruling out karma all together I am undermining Buddhism as fundamentally mistaken, but I am not. I will address briefly, the soteriological application to Buddhism without karma towards the end of the essay where I consider the matter in a much broader presentation of the religion as a whole, and the Buddha’s instructions to take control of our actions.

I considered the entire known environment of the subject (or person), including the mind and the many mental formations, sensations, feelings, volition, etc., and the unknown.[7] In considering all, I came to find four contributing groups of factors:

1. Factors of the deep mind (the klista-manas and the alaya-vijnana)
2. Factors of the surface mind (the mano-vijnana and the five priors, and latent tendencies)
3. Factors of the environment (external objects)
4. Unknown factors

These four factor groups account for every moment of conscious existence and for every other factor responsible for the construction of the person and volition and appearance of personal autonomy. I am postulating that the multi-factorial dependency of the person, volition and the reality experienced by the person is totally caused by these four factor groups, and that the greatest contributing factor, samsara and the natural, cyclical course of karma, ultimately determines everything about person and volition, leaving no room for actual personal autonomy. The factors of the deep mind consist of the 7th consciousness, the klistamanas and the 8th consciousness, the alaya-vijnana, the store-house consciousness. The factors of the surface mind consist of the first six consciousnesses and innate, genetically transferrable behavior patterns called “latent tendencies.” The factors of the environment consist of the totality of every objective experience that a person engages in. The unknown factors account for any other factor, including that which causes personal autonomy (or the appearance of personal autonomy) whether external or internal.

To demonstrate my approach and the logic through which I have arrived to this theory, I have made a simple formula.[8] Applying dependent origination to the theory, I found that the unknown X factors aren’t entirely unknown, because as long as everything dependently arises, the X factors, whatever they might be, are caused by something and cause, to some extent, an effect.[9] Therefore if X factors into the equation of personal autonomy, we should consider it in the context of dependent origination, as unknown factors of causality that either cause a reality of some autonomy, a reality of no autonomy, or X could be neutral.[10]

X represents causality (at least to some extent), and together with the four factor groups, makes up our total experience with reality. In Buddhist philosophy everything has a cause, and depending on the factors,[11] could cause a reality of some autonomy, as long as the person’s decisions (or volition) have no prior causes. In this case, we would have an independent, not-dependently-originating person, acting totally free from causality. But that would contradict the very foundation of the Buddha’s teachings. In Buddhism there is no independent thing at all, and everything, every dharma, has a cause. A reality of some autonomy is possible, using the logic of this formula,[12] but not in the context of dependent origination. In the context of dependent origination, a Buddhist philosopher would try to find the cause of personal autonomy and contradict himself in the process, because if there is a cause to personal autonomy, the autonomy is dependent and there is no real autonomy. For this reason, A+B+C+D+X + applied pratityasamputpada = a reality of no autonomy. This logic clearly demonstrates how that a reality of some autonomy could only be possible in a reality of some indeterminism, and that everything, even karma or volition[13] should, according to dependent-origination, have causes. Nothing is without cause in Buddhism – nothing is independent and causeless. A reality of causelessness is fundamentally opposite to Buddhist doctrine. In order to understand how the appearance of personal autonomy comes into question, we’ll have to look deeper into karma and karmic conditioning, but before going further into the phenomenon of karma and how it relates to the appearance of personal autonomy, I will address the factors of the deep mind.

The Effect of the Alaya-Vijnana

The first appearance of the alaya-vijnana in Buddhist philosophy appeared through the teachings of Asanga and Vasubandhu. The alaya-vijnana is believed to be vast, potentially infinite. It is considered to be the base of consciousness. It functions to collect karma as acts of volition, recycling them into future acts of volition.[14] The positive and the negative are stored in the alaya-vijnana. They are conditioned and evolve to cause some measure of positive or negative effect that determines, to some degree, the course of our future life experiences.

In early Pali texts the alaya-vijnana was considered consciousness and cognition, an essential factor to the existence of any sentient thing, or as Bill Waldron put it in his book How Innovative is the Alaya-Vijnana, “Necessary for animate existence and without which one would die (during pregnancy or at birth).”[15] Waldron linked the alaya-vijnana to sentience and physical, conscious experience by identifying the point at which cognition occurs as happening at the moment of contact between the sense organ and its object of attention.[16] Waldron argued that because the alaya-vijnana arrives at conception the alaya-vijnana “constitutes one of the preconditions for any cognitive activity whatsoever.”[17] Apart from the alaya-vijnana, Waldron also considers anusaya, or “latent tendencies,” as factors. The nature and role of these latent dispositions became a part of the debate during the Abhidharma era, which eventually led Yogacarins to develop another part of the deep mind, apart from, and functioning together with the alaya-vijnana, called the klista-manas. The klista-manas, whose main function is to identify things as ‘me’ and ‘mine,’ receives its predisposition of latent tendencies from the conditioning of past lives, which causes the klista-manas to react to feeling and sensation in a predisposed manner, and they (the latent tendencies) are fundamental to the psyche of a person and its personality. So at the point of contact and sensation, consciousnesses from both the surface mind and the deep mind are active with the lower five consciousnesses while the 6th consciousness, under the forces of latent tendencies, cycles new action.[18] This moment of contact “occurs in unison,” as Shun’ei explained,[19] where both members of the deep mind, the klistamanas and the alaya-vijnana influence the proceeding volition. Waldron cites the Buddha’s teaching in the Mahamalunkya-sutra, where he argued that “even babies are born with certain, apparently innate traits, behavior with regards to sensation and feelings, information that the baby must have had before conception.”[20] It is understandable to conclude that whatever construction we perceive to be the basis of consciousness, or the constituents of preconditions, has, at least to some degree, a direct effect on person and volition. The Buddha established this logic in the Mahamalunkya-sutra, defining the cycle of rebirth occurring at some point during conception, and from his teachings, Buddhists like Waldron have built their theories.

The Effect of the Klistamanas

The other factor of the deep mind, the klistamanas, is believed to affect every sensual interaction, effectively regulating our experience by the limitations of karma. It’s difficult to measure the klistamanas, because there may be different types of conditioning that result in different kinds of klistamanases. And trying guesswork at the difference between one klistamanas and another would still leave us with room for other causes. We can imagine however, how much of a change in personality a person would have at just the slightest variation of the klistamanas. For even the slightest degree of difference could change a person’s personality. It is generally understood that an increase in ego would cause further delusion and suffering and a decrease in ego would cause a reduction in delusion and suffering. This means that people with a lesser klistamanas will display a type of personality that is less hindered by the fruition of delusion, full of better volition, and therefore suffer less. This type of person will probably appear more content with life, generally happier, and experience things more positively. People with a greater klistamanas would display a type of personality that is more disturbed by the klesas [21] and poor volition, appearing to not enjoy life as much and experiencing life in a less positive way.

How is the klistamanas conditioned? It’s through the perfuming of the seeds of the alaya-vijnana that the klistamanas has come to be understood.[22] In Living Yogacara, Shun’ei described a process with four functions:

1. Manifest activity that creates seeds
2. The storage of the seeds
3. The production of manifest activity from seeds
4. Perfuming of the seeds[23]

According to Shun’ei’s metaphor, action creates seeds, and the seeds are stored in the alaya-vijnana. Action (karma) is then created by the seeds that had previously been created by action. And while this cycling of karma happens, there is also the perfuming of seeds, which is the conditioning part of the process, affecting the conditioning of the klistamanas at the same time.

The self-centeredness of the klistamanas causes delusion, and ultimately, negative action, and negative conditioning of the klistamanas. These latent tendencies come from past experiences, which manifest themselves as the seeds of the alaya-vijnana to continue the ever-changing design of the klistamanas. Latent tendencies, conditioned by karma, have an effect on sensation and feelings, and the behavior in reaction to them. It is established here that the alaya-vijnana, through which latent tendencies function, has such an impact on volition that every sensation and feeling is controlled by it.[24] The interactive performance between the klistamanas and the alaya-vijnana is direct and cyclical. As long as latent tendencies continue to infinitely determine the conditioning of the klistamanas and alaya-vijnana, the person and his/her volition will continue to be the culmination of these causes, and any variation in person or personality will only be the result of a change in the causes and conditioning.

The Effect of Latent Tendencies

A further look into scripture will help us measure how much of an effect the klistamanas and the alaya-vijnana have. I will begin by looking at Asanga, one of the founders of Yogacara. His direct revelations were received from a popular deity, Maitreya, which included topics ranging from psychology to phenomenology. Asanga transmitted five important teachings from Maitreya called “the five treatises of Maitreya.” In one of those texts, the Dharmadharmatavibhanga (Distinguishing Dharma from Dharmata), Asanga, in the context of shared perception wrote, “There are no objects apart from that which apprehends it.”[25] With this he explained that we exist in an environment of minds that share a similar consciousness and experience, but not without the mind. Without the mind, there would be nothing to experience. To delineate individual perception from shared perception he added the following:

In addition to cognition of the world of the environment and other seemingly shared experiences, there are also apprehended objects of awareness or consciousness that are not shared: the minds, mental events and so forth that comprise the mind streams of other sentient beings.[26]

Asanga mentions the things that are not shared that make up the mind stream of individuals. This clarifies that there is a personal experience per mind stream that is not shared, but exclusively experienced by the individual. The experiences he called ‘mental events’ are referring to the mental formations that take place upon contact and consciousness as we experience reality as the karmic recycling of perpetually determined habits, as he explained in the Madhyantavibhanga (Another of the five treatises of Maitreya).[27]

If one’s consciousness is conditioned to perceive goodness in a particular daily event, the person will continue to perceive goodness in that event, indefinitely, as it relates to rebirth and the continual stream of consciousness, respectively. He argued that our genetically, karmically inherited, environmentally affected personalities are a result of “habitual tendencies,”[28] [29] which have the power to change the experience we have with reality, making reality, even outer objects, dependent upon these habitual tendencies. These karmic predispositions make up our emotional experience, how we relate and remember things and even external objects as we are habituated to perceiving them. Describing the process quite clearly, he said, “Consciousness itself manifests in a manner that resembles an object due to the activation of internal habitual tendencies…without such habitual tendencies outer objects would not appear, even if we were to grant that they exist…therefore, it is clear that appearances occur due to the mind; mind does not occur due to appearances.”[30] He explained the nature of reality using the Three Natures (trisbabhava); the dependent nature, imaginary nature and the thoroughly established nature. The Three Natures system explains the experience of the person as an apprehender apprehending things external and mental (both dependent). The imaginary nature consists of “mental events” as products of karmically recycled mentation, and both physical and mental objects are included to arise because of karma and habitual tendencies. Mipham wrote:

The way to approach the nature of this false imagination, which is comprised of the three natures, is as follows. The very appearance of objects can be understood and observed to be the ripening of inner habitual tendencies.[31]

As objects are dependent upon the mind through karmic, latent preconditions, we have a range of varying experiences. The psychologized example of the human who drinks water from a river and is refreshed and the hungry ghost who drinks water from the same river and tastes pus and blood and is dissatisfied, demonstrates the great effect of karma and latent tendencies as two people sharing an experience and experiencing something different. This is the essential characteristic of Yogacara – that objects depend on the subject, and that the subject does not depend on the object. Everything experienced, everything imagined, happening in the mind only. Our reality depends on our mind, they say, and our mind depends to a degree on habitual tendencies (conditioning over the course of eons, according to Yogacara). Maitreya taught Asanga that the object will only arise upon the activation of internal habitual tendencies, meaning that objects will only appear as we have been conditioned for them to appear. Therefore every object has been seen before. Even something that will be built a hundred years from now. Time is apparently left to speculation for this particular detail.[32] The fact that everything we experience in reality only exists because of the activation of karmic memory indicates that everything we experience has been pre-determined by the accumulation of action from our past and future.[33] In the chapter on patience in the Bodhicharyavatara,[34] Shantideva addresses latent tendencies like anger as coming from past deeds, something momentarily uncontrollable[35] yet cyclically vicious in its reoccurring and apparently continuously unstoppable pattern.

I am not angry will my bile and other humors—

Fertile source of suffering and pain!

So why should living beings give offence,

They likewise are compelled by circumstance.[36]

Shantideva encourages us not to give in to the anger that returns to repay us karmically, but to practice patience. He seems to suggest that it is nothing more than the pattern of the universe that we live in – a pattern of cause and effect. He describes it as annoying “magical appearances” that do not exist independently:

All things, then, depend on other things,

And these likewise depend: they are not independent.

Knowing this, we will not be annoyed

At things that are like magical appearances.[37] [38]

The Effect of the Factors of the Environment

The factors of the environment consist of everything outside of the mind that contributes to the person: where you are born, family wealth, the country you are born into – society, religion, parenting, media, etc. Your birth, the location of your birth and economic status of your parents will determine to a great extent, the type of person you become. Apart from the factors of the deep mind and the factors of the mind, we could easily count hundreds or thousands of environmental factors that have caused us to be who we are. It’s often axiomatically assumed that much of our experience with reality has to do with our objective reality. If I am born into a poor family, it would be acceptable to presume that the reason for my lack of upward mobility is because of my family’s poor economic status, and if I am born into a wealthy family, I could assume that my prosperity has to do with my family’s wealth. However in Yogacara, objective reality is dependent upon the mind, the mind is not dependent upon objective reality.[39] Shantideva summed up the entirety of our experience with objective reality in the Bodhicharyavatara:

Finding no perceiving subject and no thing perceived,

And understanding that the triple world is merely consciousness,

The Bodhisattvas, you affirm, abide in wisdom,

Knowing that the mind alone is ultimate reality.[40]

From the Yogacarin perspective one could argue that everything is happening in the mind, and that there are no factors of the environment. And if the mind is ultimate then the mind is the cause of our experience, making us the ultimate cause and in control of everything (assuming that we have not contradictorily predetermined the course of our minds[41] ). Mark Sidertis, a Buddhist and causal determinist, commenting on the passage from the Bodhicharyavatara I mentioned above, said, “It is legitimate to ask whether the anger was the offender’s own.”[42] Much of what we do, including actions, according to scripture,[43] is not of our own doing, but the Yogacarins have another angle in this argument. The Yogacarins give us another problem to be addressed: if the mind is ultimate, is it also free of causality? Not to assume that ultimate requires independence, but without independence, even the ultimate becomes dependent, at least on the mind.[44]

Pratityasamutpada

Pratityasamutpada (the doctrine of dependent origination) is a Buddhist doctrine that maintains that everything exists in dependence upon another thing. As I mentioned above in the introduction, it means a lot more than just that. It is a well developed doctrine, as King described in his list of essential elements or “facts.” Within the context of pratityasamutpada, in order for a person to exist continually, the causes and conditions necessary to sustain such an event should be present.[45] Without an eternal self to transport itself and its personality (Which is nothing more than the aggregates of latent tendencies), there is only the flow of conditions (causality) that cause a person and his personality to appear, and the person remains nothing more than a product of causality – temporary, experiencing reality, but essentially nothing more than the bits and pieces that cause and form the person.

Peter Harvey, in his book The Selfless Mind, asks the question “to what extant is there a continuity of character from life to life?” Harvey approached the topic historically. He describes the history evolving from the debate over whether or not personality is rooted in an actual person with samsaric continuity, or is nothing more than a conventional label to indentify the multiple factors that make the person and personality. He refers to them as “personalists” and briefly describes their history, saying, “Over time, it was neither ‘the same,’ ‘different’, ‘both the same nor different,’ nor all of these together.”[46] The constant evolution of these concepts leads one to conclude that Buddhists don’t really know or that the philosophy might lack actual transcendental inspiration.[47] The construction of the factors of personality, depending on which point in history, were considered continuous and unified, though the unified, continuous factors were eventually agreed upon to be ever-changing.[48] Harvey describes cyclic existence as a “flow of conditioned states” wherein no permanent self exists, migrating from one life to another.[49] Without the transmigrating self of the non-self, he explains continuity as “clusters of states conditioned by each other and those that went before that arise and help condition those that come after it.”[50] He uses a simile from the Abhidharma, which describes continuity as a seed from a plant that is planted to bear another plant, from which the seeds of future plants will come. This implies, based on the conditioning mentioned above, that latent tendencies are the product of positive and negative conditioning. Reaction to sensation cannot be sudden and without cause, according to the doctrine of dependent origination (or that is to say that action is not without cause). Harvey refers to causeless action as self-made, which he considers to be eternalism, and action occurring autonomously as annihilationism, because it occurs apart from an agent of karma, unrelated to the person experiencing the return. “Both extremes are avoided,” Harvey says, “by understanding life as the flow of conditions.”[51] Harvey doesn’t seem to be arguing that the person only exists in their moment of life, but rather that life is a series of moments and a flow of conditions, and the difference is causality. That which causes our experience is also the cause of our apparent existence. As mentioned above, action occurs after sensation, as volition. And as the Buddha once told his students, “It is will,[52] O monks, that I call karma; having willed, one performs an action through body, speech or mind.”[53] Volition and action are the same, and since volition and action are the same, there is no room for spontaneity.

Eternalism and annihilationism are the two extremes avoided by the middle way teachings of the Buddha. The middle way, being based on dependent origination, maintains that if one thing exists, it exists because of another thing. The Buddha’s formula is as follows:

When this is, that is

This arising, that arises

When this is not, that is not

This ceasing, that ceases.[54]

The Buddha taught his disciples that “When this is, that is/ (because of) This arising, that arises." It is fundamental to Buddhist philosophy that nothing can exist on its own. This self-existence, as personal autonomy implies, requires some aspect of the personal existence to be independent of causality, but according to the doctrine of dependent origination, that is impossible. Therefore by applying dependent origination, even volition is caused by something, and there can be no causeless occurrence at any point in the process of the alaya-vijnana recycling karma and latent tendencies as new forms of volition caused by past conditioning. In the context of Buddhist philosophy, we must consider the fixed nature of our existence, from suffering to liberation, as being dependent upon causes, according to dependent origination, because dependent origination leaves NO ROOM for personal autonomy.

In the Gateway to Knowledge, a treatise on Buddhist philosophy, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche addressed phenomena by its classification as conditioned phenomena and unconditioned phenomena. Of these two classifications, Mipham expanded the analyses to include concrete and inconcrete phenomena, concluding that dependent origination and emptiness are interrelated truths and that “every kind of unconditioned phenomena is also (like conditioned phenomena) not beyond dependent origination,” distinguishing unconditioned phenomena from conditioned phenomena as being mental imputations.[55] Applying dependent origination and emptiness to the question of personal autonomy, we could say that the person can appear and reappear from life to life to experience an apparent autonomy, as long as the causes and conditions necessary for it to continue in such manner are present. But we have already established that our reality depends on our mind, and our mind depends on karmic conditioning; and that the causes of actions are determined by latent tendencies, and that, as the Buddha so simply put it “all volition is caused by karma, and is karma.”[56]

Conclusion

In this essay, I have argued that we are not in control of our actions. That everything has a cause and nothing is causeless. I’ve argued that if our decisions are free from causality they (as independent actions) contradict the most fundamental teachings of the Buddha. I argued this not to undermine the religion as a whole but rather to search for the truth. In so doing I found that the contradiction isn’t so detrimental because personal autonomy isn’t necessary for liberation. Applying this form of Buddhist hard determinism presents a type of eschatology that will see the future of humanity at its final culmination where all have attained Buddhahood. If the inevitable end of suffering of all sentient beings wasn’t the future, the Buddha, in his omniscience wouldn’t have set us on the path. It’s a type of pre-determinism where, regardless of what you do, the future is already decided. Without any interest in trying to make doctrine convenient, I would like to quickly refute the Buddhist’s frequently used fear-of- nihilism rebuttal[57] by pointing out simply that it’s no rebuttal at all and that the application of this hard determinism/pre-determinism should not be a problem, because regardless of how they feel about the idea of pre-determinism, their actions are pre-determined anyways, according to the scripture I’ve used to support my thesis. It is common to hear, “We can’t think in such nihilistic ways, because it could cause people to drift into nihilism and do crazy things!” While some philosophers would argue Buddhist doctrine within the confines of its faith, I have to agree with cause and effect and even to a greater extent, pratityasamutpada (an extended version of cause and effect). My intention is not to appease the dogmatic with convenient doctrine. My intention is to discover the true nature of reality.

The Yogacarins developed the eight consciousnesses system to explain our position relative to karma and our life continuum, and using this system and primary and secondary Buddhist sources I argued the fundamental doctrine of dependent origination to support my thesis that we are not in control of our actions and that everything has a cause and that nothing is independent of causality, including our actions and decisions. I stopped at the point of volition, where after contact between subject and object and the sensation that determines pleasant and unpleasant compels us to act, we make decisions that, according to scripture are imposed upon us by karmic forces from outside of our control. But there seems to be a lot of emphasis on our ability to act independently, because the Buddha, his disciples and anybody who has ever written on the topic of Buddhist teachings have all encouraged us to take control of our lives and to seek liberation. The ability to act, to will, to decide are obviously implied in the teachings, and as long as the causes and conditions necessary to sustain independence from causality are present, then it should be possible. Of course, the statement contradicts itself (Independence from dependent origination?), but I also realize that at this point we should consider the possibility that the nature of things on this level is incomprehensible to ordinary minds and that the Buddha must have been using language in order to communicate incommunicable things. With that being said, we should understand that he would have been limited to the limitations of linguistics, forcing him to tell us only what would be necessary to the attainment of liberation. The Lotus Sutra, one of the more prominent Mahayana texts, teaches the concept of ‘skillful means,’ allowing for the various doctrinal contradictions throughout the vastness of the Buddhist world to not lose their scriptural authority in contradiction, considering them as modifications meant to fit the cultures they are presented to. In India, when the Buddha came onto the scene, karma and rebirth were already well established cultural axioms. In fact, most of Buddhist cosmology (or at least the basis from which it developed) was borrowed from Hinduism.[58] Was the Buddha using karma to replace ineffable causality in order to communicate the necessity of liberation to Indians? If so, are karma and rebirth still a necessary skilful means as Buddhism enters the era of globalization? These are questions worth considering as Buddhism evolves with humanity, but regardless of whether or not karma is still useful, knowing that the Buddha’s intention was the successful end to the suffering of all sentient beings, we should assume a measure of personal autonomy as he originally instructed. Whether or not there is any autonomy isn’t ultimately important. What is important is that we follow his teachings as the key to our liberation, hoping that he was able to use language to convey the way to liberation sufficiently, taking his implications and suggestions at thoughts, words and actions as momentary decisions (that require autonomy) that we must be mindful of in order to finally reach the ultimate goal. And perhaps in the perfection of Buddhahood we will experience the co-existence of contradictions that neither co-exist nor contradict.

Bibliography

Asanga, Middle Beyond Extremes, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Boston and London: Snow Lion, 2006

Bhikkhu, Thanissaro. Nibbedhika Sutta, New Dehli: Penetrative, 2010

Bikkhu Bodhi. "From the Ashoka Course The Buddha's Teaching," published online, DharmaNet.com, Jan.-Feb. 212. Web. Apr.-May 2010

Harvey, Peter. The Selfless Mind, London and New York: Routledge, 2013

Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, The Gateway to Knowledge, Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Kathmandu: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2002

Ju Mipham , Introduction to the Middle Way, Padmakara Translation Group, Boston and London: Snow Lion, 2006

King, Richard. Philosophy East and West, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1944

Sidertis, Mark. Paleo-compatibalism and Buddhist Reductionism, published online, Speinger Science, 23 April, 2008

Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva, Padmakara Translation Group, Boston: Shambala, 2012

Shun’ei, Tagawa. Living Yogacara, Translation by Charles Muller, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2009

William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alaya-vijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, gampoabbey.org

Appendix A

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Author’s own work

[1] This is the basic understanding of the meaning of pratityasamutpada. By ‘godless’ I am referring to not only the absence of a creator god, but everything else that the traditional understanding of god (in the context of Hinduism) implies, including good and evil (morality) and the reward system attached to it.

[2] Or volition

[3] Tagawa Shun’ei, Living Yogacara, Translation by Charles Muller, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2009, 18

[4] Tagawa Shun’ei, Living Yogacara, Translation by Charles Muller, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2009, 32

[5] Richard King, Philosophy East and West, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1944, 667

[6] The self (or no-self)

[7] By unknown I am referring to factors that cannot be known. They can be external, internal or extra-dimensional

[8] Appendix 1

[9] We may not know what the X factors are, but we know something about them. Applying pratityasamutpada, we know right away that whatever the X factors might be they do not independently exist.

[10] A neutral X implies that the totality of causality is equal to A+B+C

[11] Depending on the factors but especially the X factors which could be the unknown cause of personal autonomy

[12] Using the formula, as long as X represents causality that causes the conditions necessary to sustain personal autonomy, personal autonomy should be possible. Not to offer the possibility of a cause of causelessness, but the possibility of a cause for personal autonomy (although it may still be argued that even personal autonomy in that context would be nothing more than an illusion, because personal autonomy without a cause is obviously a contradiction).

[13] Here I am referring to the synonymous use of volition and karma at the point after sensation where karma re-enters the mindstream and re-manifests itself as new volition.

[14] Some describe the alaya-vijnana as being made up of the aggregates of karmic seeds rather than being as mechanical as I describe

[15] William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alayavijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, gampoabbey.org, 1

[16] William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alayavijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, gampoabbey.org , 1

[17] William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alayavijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, gampoabbey.org , 2

[18] William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alayavijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, 1

[19] Tagawa Shun’ei, Living Yogacara, Translation by Charles Muller, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2009, 32

[20] William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alayavijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, 3-4

[21] Emotions caused by karma and latent tendencies that obscure

[22] Tagawa Shun’ei, Living Yogacara, Translation by Charles Muller, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2009, 32

[23] Tagawa Shun’ei, Living Yogacara, Translation by Charles Muller, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2009, 77-79

[24] William S. Waldron, How Innovative is the Alayavijnana, the alaya-vijnana in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijnana, 5

[25] Asanga, Middle Beyond Extremes, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Snow Lion, Boston and London, 2006, 30-31

[26] Ju Mipham, Middle Beyond Extremes, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Snow Lion, Boston and London, 31

[27] Ju Mipham, Middle Beyond Extremes, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Snow Lion, Boston and London, 31

[28] Asanga, Middle Beyond Extremes, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Snow Lion, Boston and London, 2006, 31

[29] Habitual tendencies, another term used for latent tendencies

[30] Ju Mipham, Distinguishing Phenomena from their Intrinsic Nature, translated by Dharmachakra translation committee, Snow Lion, Boston & London, 2013, 25

[31] Ju Mipham, Middle Beyond Extremes, translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Snow Lion, Boston and London, 31

[32] I have written this paper in the context of linear time, but Asanga seems to imply a multiplicity of time where memory passed through karma includes things that have already happened. I say this because there is no other way to be habituated to memory or identify objects based on memory unless we can remember things yet to be. (at least in our current stream of time).

[33] Predetermined if causality is multi-dimensional or dependent on future phenomena

[34] The Bodhicharyavatara is generally agreed to be a Madhyamaka-based text and contains a wealth of positions on causality in Mahayana Buddhism.

[35] Because of its karmic inheritance

[36] Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva, Padmakara Translation Group, Shambala, 2012, 80

[37] Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva, Padmakara Translation Group, Shambala, 2012, 81

[38] The magical appearances refer to the conventional nature of relative truth which forms the ontology of Madhyamaka philosophy

[39] Ju Mipham, Distinguishing Phenomena from their Intrinsic Nature, translated by Dharmachakra translation committee, Snow Lion, Boston & London, 2013, 25

[40] Ju Mipham , Introduction to the Middle Way, Padmakara Translation Group, 6.45-7

[41] By contradictorily I am referring to the possible contradiction of my thesis should independence be assumed

[42] Mark Sidertis, Paleo-compatibalism and Buddhist Reductionism, published online, Speinger Science, 23 April, 2008, 32

[43] In reference to the passage from Shantideva that I used above

[44] I would like to elaborate on the pivotal model on the three natures here, but I feel I will have to wait and return to this in later work

[45] Here I very briefly offer the possibility for some autonomy as long as the causes and conditions necessary to sustain such an event should be present

[46] Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, Routledge, 2013, 64-65

[47] “Transcendental inspiration” refers to scripture inspired by transcendence like Asanga’s reception of the teachings from Maitreya, a bodhisattva who is to attain Buddhahood according to Buddhist eschatology

[48] Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, Routledge, 2013, 64-65

[49] Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, Routledge, 2013, 65

[50] Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, Routledge, 2013, 65

[51] Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind, Routledge, 2013, 66

[52] Or volition

[53] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. (1997). Nibbedhika Sutta: Penetrative, AN 6.63, PTS: A iii 410

[54] Bikkhu Bodhi. "From the Ashoka Course The Buddha's Teaching." DharmaNet. Jan.-Feb. 212. Web. Apr.-May 2010.

[55] Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, The Gateway to Knowledge, Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2002, 265

[56] Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. (1997). Nibbedhika Sutta: Penetrative, AN 6.63, PTS: A iii 410

[57] Something I encounter too often as an argument why we shouldn’t entertain nihilistic possibilities. Avoiding nihilism in Buddhism often seems more important that avoiding the true nature of reality. I don’t want to be afraid of eternalism or nihilism. Especially when tackling a topic like this where the theory threatens traditional views

[58] I am referring to Vedic culture near the time of the Buddha and not to the devotionalism that developed out of it to form Hinduism as we call it today. Although both modern Hinduism and Buddhism received their cosmology from Vedic culture

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Details

Title
An Examination of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination, the Eight Consciousnesses Theory of Mind-Only Philosophy
Subtitle
On Yogacara and Agency
College
Kathmandu University  (Rangjung Yeshe Institute)
Course
Yogachara Philosophy
Grade
A
Author
Year
2017
Pages
20
Catalog Number
V380924
ISBN (Book)
9783668580251
File size
713 KB
Language
English
Notes
The author of this text is not a native English speaker. Please excuse any grammatical errors and other inconsistencies.
Tags
philosophy religions psychology religious studies psychology of religion
Quote paper
Andrew Baston (Author), 2017, An Examination of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination, the Eight Consciousnesses Theory of Mind-Only Philosophy, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/380924

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