Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

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SilaSamadhi
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Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:49 am

The causal relations between some of the Nidānas seem readily apparent. For instance, it's easy to see why Contact (Phassa) would lead to Sensation (Vedanā), which in turn leads to Craving (Taṇhā), which leads to Clinging (Upādāna).

However, why does Ignorance (Avijjā) lead to Fabrications (Saṅkhāra)?

That to me is the most mysterious connection of all, especially interesting as it is so fundamental - with Ignorance being the fundamental Nidāna.

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by char101 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:11 am

Avijja is not realizing the true nature of things which is anicca, dukkha, anatta. Not knowing these characteristics causes clinging. Clinging causes actions (kamma) that has result (vipaka). Sankhara = kamma vipaka.

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:19 am

char101 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:11 am
Avijja is not realizing the true nature of things which is anicca, dukkha, anatta. Not knowing these characteristics causes clinging.
According to the Nidānas, Avijjā leads directly to Saṅkhāra. Clinging (Upādāna) is much farther down the chain.

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by char101 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:35 am

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:19 am
char101 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:11 am
Avijja is not realizing the true nature of things which is anicca, dukkha, anatta. Not knowing these characteristics causes clinging.
According to the Nidānas, Avijjā leads directly to Saṅkhāra. Clinging (Upādāna) is much farther down the chain.
Indeed, but avijja and sankhara are in the past life, while clinging futher down the chain is in the present life.

The way I understand it, is that ignorance causes desire (tanha & upadana). Desire causes actions (kamma) to have effect. The effect of kamma is what is called sankhara in the paticcasammupada.

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by Alīno » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:38 am

Because while you are going through the fog, you can perceive formes, so there is contact, feeling, craving, clinging etc.
But while you are watching clear blue sky there is nothing to cling to.

If during meditation you pay attention on the moment while your clear awareness is lost and you start to thinking about things, you can see that first your clear awareness looses its bright clarity, a fog of avijja obstruct your vision, then images and thoughts start to pop-up, then mind cling on them, hooked up on them, and start to proliferate around them, until you don't realise that your mind is gone so you put the light back and fog of avijja with all sankharas is gone.

I have never seen any sankharas arise while mind is bright clear, but i have seen all sankharas burning out in the middle of their fly at the very moment when you put the light back. Only when fog of avijja come that sankharas apear.

You can not make a film projection on the blue sky, you need a screen to project the film on it.
There is no film without a screen, as there is no sankharas without a fog of avijja.

You can not make a fire with a lense while there is a foggy weather.
But even the Lord Dracula is burnt out while the sun light shows it's power.
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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by SilaSamadhi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:44 am

Alīno wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:38 am
Because while you are going through the fog, you can perceive formes
Interesting analogy, but as far as I understand, Saṅkhāra refers to regular forms we perceive in our daily lives, such as objects around us, other people, etc, no?

So it's not exactly "fog" or limited perception, but a perception that would be considered normal, what a normal person perceives. Conversely, not realizing that objects and people are around us - that seems abnormal and quite possibly problematic, no?

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:47 am

Greetings,
char101 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:35 am
Indeed, but avijja and sankhara are in the past life, while clinging futher down the chain is in the present life.
This view is a very unfortunate consequence of the "three-lifetime" interpretation of paticcasamuppada.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by char101 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:48 am

To clarify what sankhara is in the context of paticcasammupada, it means kamma that has result, not sankhara as in sabbe sankhara anicca and sabbe sankhara dukkha, which means anything that is conditioned (i.e. anything other than nibanna).
This term has, according to its context, different shades of meaning, which should be carefully distinguished.

(I) To its most frequent usages (s. foll. 1-4) the general term 'formation' may be applied, with the qualifications required by the context. This term may refer either to the act of 'forming or to the passive state of 'having been formed' or to both.

1. As the 2nd link of the formula of dependent origination, (paticcasamuppāda), sankhāra has the active aspect, 'forming, and signifies karma, i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volitional activity (cetanā) of body (kāya-sankhāra), speech (vacī-sankhāra) or mind (citta- or mano-sankhāra). This definition occurs, e.g. at S.XII.2, 27. For sankhāra in this sense, the word 'karma-formation' has been coined by the author. In other passages, in the same context, sankhāra is defined by reference to

(a) meritorious karma-formations (puññ'ābhisankhāra), (b) demeritorious k. (apuññ'abhisankhāra), (c) imperturbable k. (āneñj'ābhisankhāra), e.g. in S.XII.51; D.33.
This threefold division covers karmic activity in all spheres of existence: the meritorious karma-formations extend to the sensuous and the fine-material sphere, the demeritorious ones only to the sensuous sphere, and the 'imperturbable' only to the immaterial sphere.

2. The aforementioned three terms, kāya-, vacī- and citta-sankhāra are sometimes used in quite a different sense, namely as

(1) bodily function, i.e. in-and-out-breathing (e.g. M.10), (2) verbal function, i.e. thought-conception and discursive thinking, (3) mental-function, i.e. feeling and perception (e.g. M.44). See nirodhasamāpatti.
3. It also denotes the 4th group of existence (sankhārakkhandha), and includes all 'mental formations' whether they belong to 'karmically forming' consciousness or not. See khandha, Tab.II. and S.XXII.56, 79.

4. It occurs further in the sense of anything formed (sankhata) and conditioned, and includes all things whatever in the world, all phenomena of existence. This meaning applies, e.g. to the well-known passage, "All formations are impermanent... subject to suffering" (sabbe sankhāra aniccā ... dukkhā). In that context, however, s. is subordinate to the still wider and all-embracing term dhamma (thing); for dhamma includes also the Unformed or Unconditioned Element (asankhata-dhātu), i.e. Nibbāna (e.g. in sabbe dhammā anattā, "all things are without a self").

https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/sankhara

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by Alīno » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:09 am

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:44 am
Alīno wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:38 am
Because while you are going through the fog, you can perceive formes
Interesting analogy, but as far as I understand, Saṅkhāra refers to regular forms we perceive in our daily lives, such as objects around us, other people, etc, no?

So it's not exactly "fog" or limited perception, but a perception that would be considered normal, what a normal person perceives. Conversely, not realizing that objects and people are around us - that seems abnormal and quite possibly problematic, no?
Actualy it's not realy an analogy, there is real fog that cover up our vision, and as this fog have irregularities on it's surface you can perceive forms, like you can perceive faces and animals while you watch on clouds in the sky.

I think that paticcasamupada deals more with mind process, so to understand it we need to study our minds.

Eye contact is based on eye aggregate and form, so eye feeling will be here until there is eye and form. But while you see sense information as just sense information: form as just form, sound as just sound, etc. then the chain of paticcasamupada is broken after feeling, so the mind don't grasp on the sense information, there is no any proliferation about it.
Like a drop of water glide down and don't make a lotus flower wet, in the same way bright mind, not obstructed by avijja, see forms as forms, sounds as sounds,..., he don't see any faces or animals in clouds, but see things just as it is, without interpretations, clinging, grasping and all this suffering...
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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by Srilankaputra » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:34 am

An interesting conclusion of Samma Ditti sutta(Mn9) for me is that each link of DO can stand on its own. Each link is statement of truth or Sacca declared by the blessed one. The twelve nidanas does not necessarily have to be a temporal sequence.

For example the principle of conservation of energy does not necessarily discribe the temporal evolution of a system though it must hold true in any arbitrary point in time. But each link in the DO is a much higher order truth than that. As Alino pointed out DO is about interdependence of Dhammas or ideas or concepts grasped by the mind. But they are not abstractions either. They correspond to actual reality.

As an example, the statement "Sankhara paccaya vinnanam" has to hold true for past, present and future. But it is most clearly demonstrated at the moment of taking rebirth. Also the fact that I became interested in studying the dhamma in this life might also be a demonstration of this truth.
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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:44 am

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:49 am
....why does Ignorance (Avijjā) lead to Fabrications (Saṅkhāra)?
Hi. I suggest to read the final sections of MN 9 (about 'fermentation' & 'ignorance') and the beginning of AN 10.61 (about how the five hindrances are the food/nutriment of ignorance). Here, it can be read the 1st condition/link does not only include ignorance; but also includes:

(i) underlying tendencies
;
(ii) the outflow/fermentation ('asava') of those underlying tendencies &;
(iii) the defilement/energetic/mood aspect of the five hindrances.

Most simply put, 'sankhara' are thoughts. These thoughts are created by ignorance as well as the drives/energy/moods of the underlying tendencies (which can obviously be conditioned by kamma & habits but are also innately in-born). Also read the beginning of MN 64 about how the underlying tendencies are innately inborn in the new-born child.

For example, sexual desire is something extremely natural. Life forms have inborn sexual desires, which particularly flow out when there is physical sexual maturity, due to hormones, chemicals, etc. Therefore, it is actually underlying sexual desires causing sankhara (sexual thoughts) to arise rather than ignorance. However, the role of ignorance in this process is ignorance does not know the sexual desires & sexual thoughts won't bring true happiness/Nibbana. So ignorance allows the underlying sexual to continue to arise rather than causes the sexual desire itself to manifest.
Last edited by DooDoot on Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:07 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by sentinel » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:01 am

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:49 am
However, why does Ignorance (Avijjā) lead to Fabrications (Saṅkhāra)?


Buddha describe the process of dependent origination because it portray the actual happening starting from ignorance .
Ignorance is not attentive to the truth of the nature therefore not seeing the reality in which then led to the formation (of sankhara) ie the view of I , this in turn give rise to impure consciousness ...... .
:coffee:

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by santa100 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:51 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:Saṅkhāra refers to regular forms we perceive in our daily lives, such as objects around us, other people, etc, no?
Sankhara is a very broad term with different meanings depending on context. See its definition here.

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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:52 pm

Mahāsi Sayādaw wrote:Sensual pleasure is the source of happiness for most people. Nibbāna as the extinction of mind and matter is undesirable and the way to it appears arduous and painful. So people seek to gratify their desire through bodily, verbal, and mental action. Some of these actions may be ethical and others may be dishonest. Good people practise charity, morality, and meditation for their well-being after death, while others resort to deceit or robbery to become rich.
...
Truth and falsehood are mutually exclusive. If one does not know the truth, one accepts falsehood, and vice-versa. Those who do not know the Four Noble Truths have misconceptions about suffering which, posing as happiness, deceives and oppresses them. Apart from craving, which gives some pleasure when gratified, everything in the sensual realm is suffering. Though all sense-objects are subject to ceaseless change and are unreliable, to the ignorant person they seem desirable and pleasant. People are nostalgic about what they regard as happy days in the past, and optimistic about their future. Because of their misconception, they long for what they consider to be enjoyable and satisfying. This is the cause of their suffering but they do not realise it. On the contrary, they think that their happiness depends on the fulfilment of their desires, so they see nothing wrong with their desire for pleasure. Unfortunately, the truths about the end of suffering and the way to it are alien to most people. Some who learn these truths from others or accept them intellectually do not appreciate them. They do not care for nibbāna or the way to it, thinking that the way is beset with many hardships and privations.
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Re: Among the Twelve Nidānas, why does Avijjā lead to Saṅkhāra?

Post by dhammacoustic » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:59 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:49 am
(...) why does Ignorance (Avijjā) lead to Fabrications (Saṅkhāra)?
i think that the best description of the term avijja was given to us by the buddha: "not knowing suffering".. so , not everyone is familiar with this suffering, the kind of suffering that can only be eradicated by "blowing out" , and that's why only a few get there .

anyways,

sunlight is unconsious of the sun (avijja) , he moves around (sankhara), lands on an object (vinnana), identifies with it and gets absorbed in it (namarupa), and starts to think he himself is the one doing the illuminating (all the rest).

but somehow he realizes, that there is something else doing the illumination, and that's when he "knows suffering" ..

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