The Wheel of Conditioned Existence

Page 1 of 35


Khenpo Karma Namgyal

The Wheel of Conditioned Existence in the Context of the Four Noble Truths

Contents: Introduction The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising 1) Not knowing 2) Karmic creation Causality of the Five Realms of Cyclic Existence Based on the Firve Main Mind Poisons The Three Main Mind Poisons The Ten Nonvirtues and Ten Virtues The Seven Nonvirtues of Body and Speech The Three Nonvirtues of Mind 3) Consciousness Consciousness at the Time of the Cause Consciousness at the Time of the Result


The Wheel of Conditioned Existence

Page 2 of 35

4) Name and form 5) The six perceptual entrances 6) Contact 7) Feeling 8) Thirst The Four Noble Truths The First and Second Noble Truths 9) Grasping 10) Becoming 11) Birth 12) Ageing and Death The Third Noble Truth The Fourth Noble Truth – The Noble Eightfold Path 1) The right view 2) Right cognition 3) Right effort 4) Right mindfulness 5) Right concentration 6) Right livelihood 7) Right speech 8) Right action Conclusion Dedication


The Wheel of Conditioned Existence

Page 3 of 35

I want to thank you for having come here to receive Dharma teachings and greet you all kindly. I will speak about the twelve links of dependent arising as depicted in the Wheel of Existence and the Four Noble Truths. These topics are very sacred and important and explaining them in detail would go beyond the frame of this seminar. The instructions on the twelve links of dependent arising and the Four Noble Truths are exceptional and specific to Buddhism; they are not taught in other traditions.

We are all in samsara, “cyclic existence,” and see people who adopt Buddhism and others who reject it. We meet many people who follow other religions. We all live on the earth as human beings. There are religious traditions that teach its followers that mankind was created by a god. Yet other traditions teach its disciples that there is no reason or cause for the world and life, so there are various models that explain the origin of life on earth. Buddhism teaches us that the world and living beings arise due to the twelve links of dependent arising.

Many religious traditions prevailed in India before Lord Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma more than 2.500 years ago. There are probably many explanations on how the world arose in the West, too, but I am not acquainted with them. Generally, most religious proponents believe that an all-mighty god created everything that exists. Hinduism also teaches that everything was created by Brahma and states that various other gods like Shiva, Vishnu, and Indra are responsible for specific aspects that existence brings along. Buddhism does not speak about a creator, rather teaches that living beings as well as the world arise due to living beings’ karma and that is why they are bound in cyclic existence, which is the context of the teachings on the twelve links of dependent arising. Even when the Four Noble Truths are presented, no reference to a creator is ever made. So, the various religious belief systems see things differently and offer a great variety of practices that their disciples are free to follow, for instance, thinking that if the creator they believe in is pleased with them, then they will be healthy and beautiful. These same people fear that if the creator they believe in is displeased with them, then they might become blind or crippled. They think that making offerings to the god they adore will make him happy and then they will have a good life and be born in a heavenly realm after they die. This is why some people still make animal sacrifices to the god they praise, hoping to some day have a better life. The great variety of practices that people carry out are strictly based upon their beliefs.

Buddhists do not believe in a creator and are therefore not preoccupied with pleasing a god, rather understand that everyone creates his or her own experiences and is therefore responsible for whatever occurs and happens. For instance, if Buddhists fear being born in hell, then they learn that it is necessary to stop doing bad things. They also learn that if they want to experience happiness and joy, then they need to engage in wholesome actions. Therefore, it is important that teachings on giving up bad actions, in order not to have to experience hell, and on engaging in beneficial activities, in order to have a good life, must be made available to disciples.

To exemplify this: There are many offices in the West. If I was the boss of some big office and had a brother who cannot speak, write, and see, I could give him a demanding job, but it would serve no purpose. In the same manner, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have compassion for and think of us, but they cannot free us from our negative karma. How do the prayers we recite help, then? How does the recitation of the various prayers, like “The Dorje Chang Lineage Prayer” function? I think that fortitude is generated in one’s own mind when one sincerely recites the prayers - one receives the blessings of the Lamas due to one’s devotion.

Everyone here tries to do good and engages in Dharma activities. What does one concentrate on while trying to do one’s best? There are three types of living beings: great, middling, and small. A great being is moved by a great motivation, which is to help all living beings attain freedom from the rounds of suffering that conditioned existence inevitably entails. A middling being is concerned about personally becoming free from samsara that is marked by anguish and pain. Members and visitors of the Theksum Tashi Chöling Dharma Center have experienced and seen suffering, want to help others, are therefore active by making donations, practicing meditation, reciting the Mani-Mantra, and so forth. You do this and are concentrated on helping others become free from suffering and pain.

If one understands the twelve links of dependent arising, if one studies them seriously and knows them, it will be very helpful


org/pages/english/Natsok/0014_Leksheyling_teaching/lekshe. It is not only a specific custom in Tibet to have a mural of the Wheel of Existence directly at the entrance to a monastic centre. The picture of the Wheel of Existence shows a huge wheel held by a monster that clutches it with its fangs.. as it is also called. readily available for people to see. Many of you have probably seen it at the entrance to Tibetan Monasteries. then one will mature quite well while practicing the path of Buddhism. 6/3/2009 . Lord Buddha taught that every monastery should have a picture of the Wheel of Life or the Wheel of Becoming.. Srid-pa’i-‘khor-lo in Tibetan (bhavanachakra in Sanskrit) is a pictorial representation of the Wheel of Existence. The monster is http://www.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 4 of 35 for one’s Dharma practice. Just seeing this mural awakens insight and certainty in the Dharma and will inspire and help anyone who sees it abandon unwholesome activities and do good. where it is always depicted. Being a Buddhist.dharmadownload.

If we are on the road and do not know how to reach our goal. and what is forbidden. It is quite difficult to realize when one’s mind is afflicted and when it isn’t. Of course. afflictive. i. not knowing will always accompany us until we attain Buddhahood. but when one has relinquished it. He doesn’t know where he will land. It is a fact that the moment one is born.rTen-‘brel-bcu-gnis Usually there is no starting point or end to a wheel. “the defiled. It is represented by a blind man who is slowly working his way forwards with the help of his cane. too. disturbing emotions. All living beings have ignorance that is mixed with the kleshas. There is not knowing mixed with the kleshas. It is good if one counts them at the start.Ma-rig-pa What does not knowing. I know all one-way roads ..” actually mean? Being deluded and therefore confused.. He may turn towards the east or towards the south. This is not the only accomplishment of a Buddha. err. believing that by going this way or that way he will get where he wants to go.” ma-rig-pa. one is subject to death. It is certain that everyone will die one day.” and there is not knowing free of the kleshas. We. but one of them. The main reason one is born in samsara is due to not knowing. so the rim of the Wheel of Existence is divided into twelve sections. we first need to learn the remedy to overcome not knowing. Usually there is a great deal of discussion about demons. nyonmongs in Tibetan. 1) Not knowing . It is impossible to eliminate not knowing fully until then.where it is allowed to turn to the left. Just seeing this picture awakens awareness of impermanence in the mind of the one who sees it. One resembles the blind man in the icon who is poking his way through life with his cane. Sometimes I think that I would like to drive in Hamburg. As to our practice of the Dharma. but then I see that it is very dangerous. We don’t have this realization. we will probably not arrive at our destination. then one will no longer be entangled in samsara depicted in the Wheel of Existence. one can see no reason to lead a meaningful life. but will have surmounted it and be a Buddha. driving a car or motorcycle in Nepal is a tricky matter. 6/3/2009 . usually translated as “ignorance. Being aware of impermanence changes one’s behaviour. but I know which roads to take when driving from my monastery to Boudhanath. Practitioners will always have a larger or lesser degree of not knowing until they reach full enlightenment. but end up somewhere else. For example. As long as one is not aware of impermanence. so it is not easy for us to distinguish. so we will begin with the first icon that is called “not knowing. It is not easy to recognize which klesha prevails in one’s own mind. Let’s imagine a huge football field and arena and think of the blind man with his cane. What does one not know? The true nature of samsara.dharmadownload.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 5 of 35 not Mahakala. so he will probably http://www.. There are two categories of not knowing. gradually a devotee wins a better understanding of deceptive beliefs in cyclic existence. because I do not know which streets to take – maybe the police will catch me if I do something wrong. to the right. then it is very hard to realize that one is fettered by ignorance mixed with kleshas. This is very strong ignorance. By looking at the mural again and again. The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising . If one looks at one’s own mind. the kleshas arise in accordance with one’s personal karma while one is confused and ignorant.e. The monster in the mural is called “the demon of death” and is an example.

If a follower has relinquished them entirely. This is rather hard for beginning students of Buddhism to understand. Someone who listens to a practitioner boast of having done so much may think. starts practicing a bit. for instance. or for having studied a lot. and his or her anger would somehow become apparent. the three or five main mental defilements. Nobody is making you angry at the moment. jealousy. So. but I think that pride is most difficult to too. is so uncalled for and helps nobody at all. one accumulates negative karma. when in a group. neither oneself nor others. It is very hard recognizing not knowing mixed with emotions. maybe “karmic formations” would be fitting. would probably be upset. then due to jealousy I might let all the air out of his tires after he locked his bike and left for a short while. and eventually becomes proud of having practiced for maybe 20 years. one might see someone and think. One accumulates negative karma when one is angry. then one doesn’t accumulate bad karma anymore. or? No.” Actually. though. There are various English translations for the second link. he or she would wake up shocked. One only experiences difficulties if one acts out one’s anger and then gets into trouble with the police. What happens when one is jealous? If one sees that someone has something nice. will now continue spreading the news about ma-rig-pa. “In that case. has trouble fighting a lawsuit in court. Envy or jealousy. We are concerned about diminishing the kleshas and through practice would counteract not knowing mixed with the kleshas. for instance. nevertheless everyone has mental afflictions. “Oh. i. for having completed a three-year retreat.. on the other hand. and pride. They are based on not For instance. the more likely that person might become proud. Generally. What is so deceptive about pride? For instance. advanced practitioner. especially pride. anger. does understand the workings of the mental defilements and has surmounted them. There are many divisions of kleshas. If one succeeds. if I am very angry and riot while seated on the throne. She is really advancing through practice and will become very popular.dharmadownload. for example. Everyone here is peaceful right now. which harms oneself in one’s next life as well as in this life. but I could just as well sit here and smile and then my anger would not manifest openly. One does walk down the street thinking one is super and is very proud and convinced of oneself. So that describes the first of the twelve links of dependent arising. “Oh. Karmic formations or karmic creation means to act out and accumulate karma. she is doing something very good. As a result. then one can see and do something about it. link two. ‘du-byed. and so forth. It is important to understand how hate. then my anger would manifest quite clearly. nobody here is angry right now. I will speak about karma later. The more a follower practices. a noble. one isn’t subject to the twelve links of dependent origination and thus does not need to experience the suffering that samsara unremittingly brings on. phrag-dog in Tibetan. it is a mental defilement that helps nobody at all. For instance. But if someone falls asleep and I were to throw my mala at that person.. There is a difference between mental afflictions. I will take refuge in him.e. arises in one’s mind due to not knowing. They are: greed. all kleshas are hard to eliminate. which is the basis for accumulating karma. Due to not knowing mixed with afflictive emotions.. Of course. the kleshas are extremely hard to give up. one enters the Dharma. one envies that person. but people do things like that because of jealousy. everyone is proud of having accomplished something . then they will think. Jealousy arises in people very easily when many people get together. miserliness.” If that same person understands the Dharma. there are three or five main kleshas mixed with not knowing. I often think that I was very fortunate to have become a monk when I was very young and was able to study as much as I did. I don’t like that. I have great compassion for him. if one day a friend bought a beautiful bicycle and I felt envious. Then I notice that I have again become proud. too. It is evident that the reason one accumulates very negative karma is due to not knowing mixed with negative emotions. 6/3/2009 .The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 6 of 35 When not knowing mixed with afflictive emotions arises. nga-rgyäl in Tibetan. because he has practiced to reduce his kleshas and they are increasing instead. then that is first-class practice. whether they openly manifest or not. one will probably not be aware of this. An Arya. The main purpose of practicing the Dharma is to diminish one’s mental afflictions. I wouldn’t do this – it was only an example -. What can I do to ruin her reputation?” If one thinks http://www. but again. For instance.

not knowing causes one to aimlessly wander around in samsara and knowing enables one to pass beyond samsara and enter nirvana.. which means sitting there and thinking.. by looking at one’s own mind. which is superior knowledge won through learning that living beings are subject to and fettered by all twelve links of dependent arising. What is the opposite of ma-rig-pa? Rig-pa. attachment. To summarize the impact that not knowing mixed with mental defilements has: One accumulates bad karma due to not knowing in association with the mental defilements. So far. if a friend drops by for a visit. The godly realm is not a paradise reserved for Shiva or Vishnu and their disciples. “Why is he giving him a present and not me?” We all have kleshas and recognizing them is already very good.” These thoughts are only based on pride. one will be reborn as a god or in another higher realm of samsara and will experience happiness and joy. too.accumulate wholesome karma that is not associated and mixed with the kleshas. not knowing in the above cases is not mixed with kleshas and therefore is an accumulation of good karma. If one practices the paths and works to achieve the ten Bodhisattva stages of http://www. “Oh. because one thinks it is a good thing to do. For example. I just happen to fall asleep. but it is still based on not knowing and therefore is an accumulation of karma. then it will grow and grow and only get worse and worse. In these cases.. one offers him tea and a nice meal.e. jealousy and pride are counted too. If one doesn’t curb them because one doesn’t recognize them. Pride is a very subtle mental defilement. In any case. but you should know that pride and jealousy are most crucial. The Perspective: The great amount of kleshas is summarized in the five main mental defilements that one needs to recognize when they arise in one’s mind. One can give up such a trait if one becomes aware of it. The difference between ma-rig-pa and rig-pa is whether one spins around in samsara or whether one enters nirvana. Everyone should practice in that way as best as possible .” You have heard many Lamas teach about the five mind poisons. and aversion. If one can accumulate positive karma by making offerings to a Dharma centre. then they become bigger and bigger. “Why do we all have a mind that is so afflicted and causes us to wander around in samsara?” This question can only be answered by practicing. because one likes him. then it is not knowing mixed with the mental defilement of jealousy. Sometimes one sits down and tells oneself. and it is very important to recognize whether kleshas have arisen and whether one is ignorant or not. Or one gives a beggar one sees while taking a walk through town money. Understanding the twelve links is the antidote to ma-rig-pa. As long as one doesn’t recognize that one is jealous when one is. one is inspired to follow the Great Middle Way and counteracts ma-rig-pa thoroughly. I am such a harmless person and wouldn’t hurt a flea. the main mind poisons are ignorance. “I’m such a sensible and sensitive person. Please remember the five main mind poisons and recognize them when they arise in your Nevertheless.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 7 of 35 like that.e. When summarized as three. Accumulating positive karma while having ignorance that is not associated with kleshas is good. this experience is based on not knowing. but one also accumulates karma when acting out not knowing that is not mixed with a klesha. which is referred to as “mental dullness.. One doesn’t only accumulate karma in association with the kleshas. Being in samsara and experiencing the results of one’s karma is then pleasant.dharmadownload. I have spoken about accumulating karma mixed with the mental afflictions. One accumulates negative karma based on one’s mind poisons.” There is a Tibetan word for this. When summarized as five. They are also referred to as “the five mind poisons. I do think. 6/3/2009 .” It is another way of describing not knowing. Yet. I always asked myself. i. i. for instance. I usually fall asleep after sitting for a long time. snyam-shog. If someone gives a friend a present. the intention is very good. Looking at the Wheel. Ever since I was very young. I am so good. “conditioned existence. and by examining one’s own mind so that one does not act in dependence upon kleshas when one sees that they have arisen in one’s mind.” Why are there these five realms of existence and how are they created? Living beings accumulate karma and are born in one of the realms due to a specific predisposition. then that is the method to swiftly counteract not knowing and to win correct understanding. Or a doctor helps his patients. there are five sections between the spokes that depict the five destinies of samsara. As a result. Returning to ma-rig-pa.

This icon symbolizes how karma is collected and should be understood in this manner. even though it is still based on not knowing. We should not accept his position. He brought another example and said that it doesn’t matter to a prisoner if he is laid in gold chains or iron chains. white clouds also cover the sun. Since one is always doing something.e. because we should accumulate as much good karma as possible by persevering in our practice. This thought can be associated with a klesha or it might not be based on a mental defilement. Question: How can one accumulate good karma as long as one is ignorant? Khenpo: The difference between ignorance and understanding is that ignorance keeps us fettered in samsara. to make. until he becomes a millionaire. but simply going about one’s business playfully. one continuously accumulates karma based upon one’s intention.‘Du-byed Let us look at the Tibetan term for the second link in the twelve links of dependent arising. It is very important to examine and be aware of one’s motivation before doing anything and as a result of gathering karma. they have the power due to their excellent accumulation of wisdom and merit to be wherever they are in order to help others. but this view is not good.” he argued. which is ‘du-byed. they belong together. Positive karma does not free anyone from Every action that is carried out presupposes one of these three types of intentions: negative. should work to become millionaires of good karma. the first link.” so ‘du-byed means “to make something. “both non-virtuous and virtuous thoughts and actions obstruct the omniscient state of Buddhahood. did not agree on this point. Method combined with wisdom is the tool they have. who came from China and tried to introduce his version of Buddhism in Tibet. A third way of doing something is not really thinking about it beforehand. “superior knowledge“? Khenpo: There is superior knowledge and method. ‘Du means “a form” and byed means “to do. It would be very good for everyone to reach that state. as is the case when one is nice to a friend. or neutral. We are always doing something and before we do anything. At the great debate that took place along the Tsangpo River near Samye Monastery he said that just as black clouds cover the sun. a positive intention of not knowing that is not mixed with a klesha. so we should all hope 2) Karmic Creation . “Therefore. Good karma leads to a good existence in samsara. for example.. which is not possible right now. then not knowing must be relinquished. http://www. positive. the thought first comes to our mind. i. One needs superior knowledge so that one can practice the method and vice versa. whereas understanding frees us from samsara. which is necessarily one of the three kinds that one has: a negative intention of not knowing in association with a klesha. so one practices both..dharmadownload. Method and insight is their tool. It is very important to accumulate good karma as long as one is in samsara and until one has become free. 6/3/2009 . What is the main cause for collecting karma? The main cause is not knowing. By accumulating positive karma. Question: How does one develop shes-rab.” He taught that for this reason it is not necessary to accumulate good karma. Wisdom enables them to stay in samsara without suffering. then you will be able to accumulate positive karma. We are in samsara and we have a good life due to good karma. or an indifferent intention that is not associated with a thought or klesha at all. Therefore we accumulate as much good karma as we can. one will later have a pleasant life and can make good use of it by continuing to practice and by accumulating positive karma.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 8 of 35 accomplishment. You are Dharma practitioners and therefore it is important that you examine your mind and recognize your motivation. whereas the method enables them to help others.” In the Wheel. the second link shows a potter who is making a pot. Hwa Shang. Bodhisattvas practice both and stay in samsara until it is emptied. It is like a businessman who invests what he has earned by selling his products at the market and then increases his wealth.. If you are aware of what you are doing. too. We.

There are so very many different kinds of human existences that vary as to the degree of suffering or happiness that is experienced. and asked. one discovers that they have similar thoughts. arrived. but people are quite similar all over the world. but nobody was there. When I didn’t have an anti-virus program. then between death and rebirth one generates a mind that drives one to take on birth as a human being. He shouted real loud so that the sponsor heard him from One’s karma hurls or throws one into a human existence. hungry ghost realm (yi-drag). in Nepal short and poorly people with dark hair. He saw a bowl of tsampa. the three main ones being not knowing or ignorance.” We should examine and recognize our own mind just as precisely as Geshe Pen. When one accumulates karma. Hoping to be born in the human realm by increasing one’s desire is not what is meant. Let me speak about the causality of the five realms of samsaric existence now. And so. just like here. which are only examples. are: hell realm (dmyäl-ba). one develops a mind associated with one of the five realms of existence that are depicted between the spokes in the picture of the Wheel. One accumulates karma based on the five main mental afflictions and as a result is born in one of the five realms of samsara. It is possible to protect one’s computer by buying an anti-virus program that checks if one’s computer has caught a virus the moment one pushes the start button. If the klesha of desire is dominant in one’s mind. one does see that human beings are never content. As a result.. “Come real fast. In the same manner. one cannot see the entirety of samsara by just looking at the pictures. which depends upon an individual’s karma. one accumulates negative karma based upon not knowing mixed with mental afflictions. There is a great variety of human beings living in the world and consequently an immense variety of ways to think and see things. As mentioned. therefore it is good to be aware of one’s actions so that one attains a good rebirth. will counteract the first link of not knowing. and accumulates karma is born as a human being. It is a custom in the Himalayan Kingdoms for monks to visit people and perform rituals on their behalf. that is why five realms are depicted in the mural of the Wheel of Existence. which shows that human beings have karma in common. one finds oneself reborn in the realm one is connected with most strongly. A thief is in your house. Again. every human being also has individual karma that differs immensely from one person to another. “Where is the thief?” Geshe held out his own hand and answered. Desire means craving for and being attached to objects that are apprehended with one’s mind. “barley porridge. one avoids much trouble and difficulties if one guards one’s own mind. When it comes to computers. Someone who mainly has the mind poison of desire. because it seemed that animals have more desire. loads of data that I had collected were one day deleted and lost. If someone http://www. viruses are another example of what awareness is like. there are five main causes for accumulating karma. ‘död-chags. I had to start all over from scratch and learned to protect my data by buying an anti-virus program. I could hardly believe this when I was young. the other two being jealousy and pride. There was a Kadampa scholar named Geshe Pen who always examined his own mind. animal realm (düd‘gro). Therefore. jealous god realm (lha-ma-ying). One day Geshe Pen entered the home of a sponsor he visited regularly. But when one looks more closely. the main cause for being born as a human being is desire and craving. I travel a lot and leave again. Of course. one develops a predisposition in one’s mind. no matter how much they have.” The sponsor ran as fast as he could.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 9 of 35 There are many Buddhists in Tibet. and aversion. If one speaks with persons from different countries. attachment. Causality of the Five Realms of Cyclic Existence Based on the Five Main Mind Poisons The five realms of cyclic existence. In any case. Then we will be good practitioners.. In the West I see tall and well-built people with blonde hair. but all human beings do have karma in common. 6/3/2009 .dharmadownload.” on the table and recognized his bad intention the moment he stretched out his hand to take a handful. human realm (mi). People collect so many things and never seem to have enough. and our mental afflictions will diminish. As said. It would go beyond the scope of this seminar to explain individual karma satisfactorily. “Here. samsara. since birth as a human being is accomplished by having accumulated positive karma while being attached to apprehensions. and god realm (lha).

hostility. they are satisfied when they have finished eating. and strong. too . Animals are flung into an existence in the animal realm due to the power of their own mental dullness. In fact. If one is honest. When I first visited Germany. When someone is very resentful and becomes angry.. and do not make plans like people do.” i. Mental dullness is the karma that causes living beings to be born as animals. they want two or a thousand.. desire is the reason humans are born as humans. one cannot remember anything and doesn’t apprehend things as one does when one isn’t angry. Animals are satisfied when they have had enough to eat that very same day. have a specific mind. then they see everything tainted in that colour. and that is their lifestyle. are spoiled. know that they have more than enough. because they envy the gods. do this or that. they see it as a playground . it was only an example. Question: How does one see when one is angry? http://www. So. Being born in the realm of the jealous gods as a jealous god is another deceptive destiny that is due to the power of having succumbed to jealousy. Life in the West is similar to life in the realm of the gods. like wrath. The Tibetan term chok-shes means “contentment. that everyone has and that brings on anger and all its devastating forms. then they don’t even think of turning their mind towards the Dharma. I could even imagine how someone beats her up – of course. or an ox. healthy. Dharma practitioners should feel content with whatever they have. What is life like there? They constantly fight with the gods in the realm above the meantime I want to see the whole world. they may regret their past lifestyle. It is very hard for such people to see a reason or understand the necessity of practicing the Dharma.. and live a life without worries or needs. and aren’t as greedy as humans. If someone is jealous but accumulates positive karma with the wish to be born in one of the three higher realms of existence. a cat. nga-rgyäl in Tibetan. then he or she lands in the realm of the demi-gods. a cow. pride. maliciousness. Western children and young people are very healthy. 6/3/2009 . but they sit around in a splendid garden all day and are proud. animals do not crave as much as human beings and have less desire. Having discussed the mind poisons of desire. Khenpo: First of all. Many of the most renowned Tibetan and Indian practitioners went through breathtaking hardships in order to practice the Dharma.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 10 of 35 owns a house. then I can use it in eight or ten years. whereas difficulties inspire a Dharma practitioner. After a good meal. I have never seen anything in real life that would resemble the description of life in the gods’ realm. Human beings are hardly ever satisfied and one will hardly ever meet a millionaire who thinks he or she has enough. stupidity. this happens to the gods. they go away.dharmadownload. Therefore it is good if you have a few difficulties in your Dharma practice. They are born with a specific body. I wanted to see other European countries and one day thought that I wanted to visit America. If I were to look at my friend Karin here while angry. return to the fields. When they do happen to go to a center and meet with the Dharma.” etc. and be grateful. for instance. “I have this now. who think. and when I have all that. You can read about the hardships he endured in books. dwell in apathy and torpor. In any case. etc. when one is very upset and angry. Being born as what is called “a god” in the realm of the gods is due to very positive karma. grudge. rage. need more next year. When they see that their time in the heavenly realm is over and that they are about to die. but that is how it is said to be. but these beings have one big problem and that is their pride. Jetsün Milarepa. gti-mug in Tibetan. Taking a dog. When they get old and run into difficulties.e. and jealousy. one knows that one has enough. let us now take a closer look at hatred. If human beings are very beautiful. who are extremely spoiled. and don’t have many problems. we don’t want this to happen. have more than anyone could possibly hope to have. they suffer immensely. Gods have a magnificent and healthy phrag-dog in more. How do you see things when you are angry? Student: In red. zhe-sdang in Tibetan. they are so absorbed in their pride that the thought of practicing the Dharma would not even occur to them. khong-khro in Tibetan.

please ask. Looking at the Wheel of Existence encourages us to engage in Dharma practice and to always help others. 6/3/2009 . or maybe only once or twice a month. One doesn’t http://www. desire and craving are naturally very strong and there is not much one can really do about it.maybe only once or twice a day. ser-sna in Tibetan. This is explained in great detail in the Bardo instructions. Some people even have storehouses they keep stacked with goods that they do not share with the needy.dharmadownload. Should one be able to abide in ease when the physical dissolution of one’s body sets in.. We are strong and healthy. one apprehends things in that light. also called “karmic formation. Therefore one tries to reduce one’s hatred and anger. then one will be reborn with a healthy body and in a conducive and good environment. too. especially those who are in need. One accumulates karma due to ignorance and consequently develops and intensifies a consciousness that is destined and driven to experience one of the five realms of cyclic existence. one more likely will do one’s best to accumulate positive karma. One understands that desire is a feature of being a human being and can cause much aggression in one’s mind. This doesn’t mean to say that one prays to have the same cup that one is using now when one returns. This may sound simple. It looks like it’s best to be reborn as a human being. so we can accumulate positive karma. A living being is later born in the realm of the hungry ghosts due to the force of the mind poison of miserliness. i. whereas hatred and aversion arise less often . If one becomes sick and dies slowly. Miserliness. It is important to look at one’s own mind and notice when one’s aggression becomes overwhelmingly strong.eventually the apple rots and helped nobody. Can you say something about this? Khenpo: Accumulating the prerequisites to be born as a human being is not only based on desire. so beings born there are always hungry and thirsty. Perhaps a good person becomes angry once or twice a year. We were not born in a low place like the hungry ghost realm or in a place that goes through times of war. The realm of the hungry ghosts has that name. Our wishing prayers become a condition and are an important factor to be born as a human being again. because I cannot practice Dharma and attain enlightenment there. Through the force of the second link of karmic creation. The Perspective: The main reason one wanders in samsara endlessly is not knowing.” one accumulates karma based upon one’s dominant mind poison. rather one aspires to attain a human birth that enables one to become free of the major mind poisons. because there is nothing to eat or drink in that very destitute place. but I don’t want to be reborn as a god. which isn’t possible if one suddenly dies in an accident. while they do watch their things being eaten up in no time by worms. although it is a decisive factor. If one accumulates karma mixed with hatred and aggression. One’s mind at the time of death is most decisive when it comes to one’s next birth. then that is the primary cause to be reborn in the hell realm.. How often do you feel hatred and become angry? Please check this. You will never find a Buddhist prayer in which one prays to be born in the realm of the It is crucial to know what kind of mind one wants to develop. Let us imagine that someone else wants the apple one just laid on the table and that one doesn’t give it away because one is stingy . As human beings. which is the first link of dependent arising. There is nobody who does not have aversion and isn’t angry on and off.. one experiences the gradual dissolution of one’s physical elements. Practitioners can make wishing prayers to attain a precious human birth. Question: It doesn’t seem to be very enticing to be reborn in the realm of the gods. because then I cannot develop and mature. ignorance.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 11 of 35 Khenpo: Based upon one’s own anger. therefore it is very important to be aware of one’s mind poisons while one is dying.e. Does one wish to develop and increase a mind that experiences a higher rebirth or not? By knowing that one’s future lies in one’s own hands. is the last of the five main mind poisons that needs to be understood well so that one can diminish and eventually give it up. If you have any questions.

although those districts are a part of India. Gods are reborn due to their dominant mind poison of pride and dwell in their pride.dharmadownload. because jealousy is directed towards those who have more and are well-off. there is the big river flowing through different districts in India. living beings accumulate karma and wander and err through samsara as a result. “jealousy. Almost everyone is afraid of snakes. I think that’s a very good basis to attain a good human birth. it’s hard for us to believe..” The Three Main Mind Poisons . which doesn’t mean that the other mind poisons don’t arise in their mind once in a while.” Translator: Oh. Based upon the force of these three mind poisons. The demi-gods look up and see the gods enjoy the delicious fruits of the wish-fulfilling tree and think. Khenpo: The teachings speak of a wish-fulfilling tree and say that its roots grow in the realm of the demi-gods and its fruits and leaves fall to the ground in the realm of the gods. and therefore fight. and not Neid.e. Since we cannot see this for ourselves. but it can happen that he loses his job and then finds himself in a bad situation – fertig. If you are rich. Student: Why aren’t the gods jealous when they are attacked by the demi-gods? Khenpo: There is no reason for the gods to be jealous when they look downwards at the demi-gods. “The root of the tree grows in our realm. I don’t know how they manage not to be afraid. Khenpo: The gods probably do not experience much suffering. Take someone who has had the opportunity to study a lot. and finds a good job after graduation. The pig symbolizes utter stupidity.” We never pray.” dug-gsum in Tibetan. “finished. Pigs.. “May I be born rich” either. we continue circling around in samsara by looking at the three figures at the hub of the Wheel of Existence in order to win a deeper understanding of samsara. that symbolize utter stupidity. Everything goes well for that person. such as pride. which is” They are upset. because they have a huge body that cannot be hurt or destroyed by the demi-gods. Student: She said “suffering. then you are busy and then one day fertig. Khenpo: Actually.” Leid in German. They think all the luxuries belong to them. are rather lazy and only eat and sleep.Dug-gsum And so. so. gets good grades. Some people aren’t afraid of live snakes and let them hang around their neck.. “May I be reborn as a human being so that I can practice the Dharma. try to fell the tree. too. they fight over water-rights. aversion. 6/3/2009 . The bird symbolizes extreme greed and I just don’t understand why. etc. i.” And so. We pray. We have gone through the links of ignorance. we pray that we aren’t born there. but that’s the way it’s said to be. A friend of mine had a plastic snake and even it scared me. I http://www. Similar battles are fought on earth. they are normal living beings like us. the snake symbolizes immense hatred. and the bird symbolizes extreme greed. There are many pigeons flocked together on the rooftops of buildings in Kathmandu and they are probably very greedy. the three mind poisons are the primary cause that living beings are entangled in samsara and are therefore depicted as the three animals that seem to symbolize them the best. Next question: What are demi-gods? It is said that they fight because the root of the luxuries enjoyed in the realm of the gods lies in their realm. For instance. They kill the demi-gods. On the contrary.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 12 of 35 eliminate desire fully. karmic creation. “finished. but we also have the other mind poisons. rather one tries to decrease all mental afflictions. but can’t. and one furthermore tries to accumulate good karma while making wishing prayers. The three animals represent the “three main mind poisons. and a little through the third link. Buddhists never make wishing prayers to be born in the realm of the gods. We have been born as humans due to our dominant mind poison of desire. Student: This means that the gods are not very loving and kind. We also recite the wishing prayer to be reborn in the Pure Land of Devachen and that is a very good aspiration and thought. sorry. but we cannot enjoy the fruits.

Of course.. I lose things easily but am not worried. good activities and bad activities. I have met many people who suffer in this way. there is no need for practitioners of mind training to worry about getting sick or to be overly happy when they aren’t sick either . and engaging in sexual misconduct.e. many people are always sick or get sick for a long period of time. which are killing. For example. It’s very good to take the householder vow to refrain from this nonvirtue that brings heavy problems in a family. If one has accumulated very bad karma by having killed many beings intentionally.and they should not forget to take the medicine a doctor prescribes when they do get sick. develops Bodhicitta. because I know that it’s a result of my own previous negative karma.dharmadownload. When I was little I killed a lot of flies and insects by hitting at them. This means to say that the ten virtuous activities as well as the ten nonvirtuous activities are both carried out with one’s body. i. though. they have also eliminated the cause to get sick and to die young.out of hatred.” dge-midge in Tibetan. but one does not intend to do this. Karma is collected through the three gates that are body. and it is a result of having killed many beings in a past summarized in the three main ones. having been born in the human realm now. but greed is the main reason why someone steals. There are many results of having stolen in one’s past life. speech. greed. A Dharma follower practices mind training. The Ten Nonvirtues and Ten Virtues . or some people seem to always lose things. so I don’t think that this is what is referred to here. everyone steps on bugs and insects when walking down the street and kills them.. The second physical nonvirtue is taking what is not given. because it deals with karma. This doesn’t mean to say that sex is bad. An advanced practitioner finally exhausts his or her negative karma through practicing the teachings and then doesn’t get sick any more. It is difficult for a butcher who has become a Buddhist to give up his profession and find a new job. and meditates. which means stealing. They may seem easy to avoid. http://www. So. because then they have eliminated the cause to be born in a lower realm of existence where they experience immense suffering and pain. some people invest their money in a huge enterprise but lose everything.. speech. but the doctors cannot diagnose a specific illness and therefore cannot help them. and mind. and mind. taking what is not given. You too? No? Yes? I didn’t kill big animals. 6/3/2009 . rather one should not hurt anyone through one’s sexual behaviour.Mi-dge-ba-bcu-dang-dge-ba-bcu It is generally taught that there is good karma and bad karma. It’s already very good if beginners who can’t engage in many meditation practices or who aren’t able to make larger donations merely stop killing. but are hard to put into practice. The third physical nonvirtue is sexual misconduct. one is less upset when one’s things are lost or stolen. thereby reducing the propensity to catch acute sicknesses and diseases and patiently accepts smaller ailments that engender subsequent knowledge. then one will have developed a consciousness to be reborn in the hell realm. There are many reasons one steals . If one thinks about it in this manner. Yet. or stupidity. “virtue and vice. Buddhists have no trouble not to kill.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 13 of 35 would like to continue talking about link two a little more. One will hardly see a Buddhist take a knife and go out to harm the lifeforce of another living being. They run from one doctor to the next. The Seven Nonvirtues of Body and Speech There are many nonvirtuous activities that one carries out with one’s physical body.

They will take anything someone who always tells the truth seriously. so the use of harsh speech in such cases won’t bring a negative result. I was a kha-tsha-po when I was young. but we can see that people living in the realm of human beings will not believe someone who lies. and the full-ordination vows for monks and nuns. and cannot sleep. The Perspective: The four physical and three verbal nonvirtues are referred to as “the seven nonvirtues of body and speech. which means “hot mouth. If one wants to understand karma more deeply. There are the lay practitioner’s vows one takes when one goes for refuge in the Three Jewels.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 14 of 35 The worst physical nonvirtues are summarized in these three. Someone who has gone for refuge should learn the seven nonvirtues. worry all night.” There are vows one can take that help one abandon them.a decisive reason not to break one’s vows. Sometimes I think it’s better if I don’t say anything. Even among Dharma practitioners. I don’t know what it’s like in the West. in any but in the East it’s necessary to be stern with children. There was a lay practitioner who never lied and everyone knew this. These teachings are very advanced. because I always said awful things. Abusive and harsh language is the fourth verbal nonvirtue. One’s practice will be very difficult if one doesn’t heed one’s vows.” It was a lie. I do get upset. it is hard to tell who never lies. which is very hard to give up. Divisive talk is another verbal nonvirtue. Useless and irrelevant talk is another verbal nonvirtue. I haven’t met anyone in the West who has lied to me. if someone says something harsh to me. Earnest and sincere people will turn their backs on those who have a bad language usage and do notice it very soon. People didn’t like me when I was small. What is the result of lying? We cannot see where someone who lies will be reborn. always try to remember them. Many Lamas travel very much nowadays and offer the most profound teachings on Mahamudra and Dzogchen. becoming very angry with one’s child when it is about to make a terrible mistake is beneficial. I still have the habit of saying things that people don’t like hearing. the vows for novice monks and nuns. namely useless talk. but less now. then one will get along very well with other people and they will like one. If one doesn’t have a violent language. For example. and count them on my mala instead. and stop succumbing to them. but it just happens. instruct students how to practice. 6/3/2009 . A lie is a big mistake if it’s spoken for one’s own profit. For example. and so forth. I know what I am talking about. now I really know what it means to use harsh words and try to be very careful. http://www. then they aren’tt really bad and no negative results will follow. So. then one can read The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Lhaje Gampopa. Other texts explain karma very efficiently too.. recite mantras. but one will have problems if one doesn’t give up the seven nonvirtues . although I know that words have no essence. so I wrote a letter to Rinpoche and excused myself by telling him. The vows of lay practitioners. If the seven nonvirtues are carried out for the benefit of others.” are the commitment to give up the seven physical and verbal nonvirtues. It is said that there is nothing wrong with lying for the benefit of others while one is practicing Bodhicitta and on the path of a Bodhisattva. “I have a headache and can’t come.. and listen to him attentively.dharmadownload. I do see that many people are very isolated and separated from others and think this is a result of having spoken badly about others in a former life. I can’t judge if people in the West don’t lie at all or only lie a little bit. but then my mind wanders off and I start talking again. so they said awful things back. A result of refraining from this nonvirtue is getting along with one’s friends. called “the vows of individual liberation. but Gampopa elucidated it quite clearly in this book. I couldn’t wake up that early and preferred to sleep longer one morning. We can practice telling the truth more and more and become like the lay practitioner . though. because I lied when I was young and am practicing not to lie anymore. we had to get up at 5 and practice the morning ritual together with the group of students I was studying with. Sometimes one doesn’t want to lie. otherwise they will not listen and will not learn to behave. It’s not that hard to give up lying.then others will believe us too.” I have a little scar on my face and people always said that it is a sign that I am a kha-tsha-po. There are four main verbal nonvirtues that can actually be summarized in one. In any case. How do I know? I was told.

Whenever I see things that others have. mental dullness. one is bewildered and confused. I want it.” That is being extremely evil and malicious. one doesn’t believe it. One can say that anyone who has ill-will has no Bodhicitta whatsoever. then it is necessary to regret and confess it right away so that one purifies one’s mind of such thoughts. The main wrong view that one can have is about karma. “the unfailing law of cause and effect. If one sees a fantastic ballpoint pen and thinks. on not knowing. nevertheless once in a while we have ill-will. For example. and to examine the teachings carefully. some religious proponents sacrifice living beings to the gods they believe in. i. one has to receive teachings and investigate them for oneself very well so that one trusts and believes the truth of the Dharma. They are covetousness. Just believing what someone else says can cause one to have wrong views. Covetousness is seeing something someone else has and thinking. “wrong views. Normally.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 15 of 35 The Three Nonvirtues of Mind There are three nonvirtues of mind that will never benefit anyone at all. feeling satisfied if someone suffers is a boomerang against oneself and is a nonvirtue. If one does talk to them about the causes and results of beneficial and harmful deeds. There is a method to avert wrong views and the method is to receive instructions on the Dharma. Since one doesn’t believe it. Should I steal it?” then that is being covetous. I haven’t seen this in European buses and trains. We have taken the vow of Bodhicitta and practice.. so it seems that people are not upset about small things like high prices and they don’t act out their ill-will by damaging others’ property here. Covetousness is based on greed and can never help anyone. We have gone through covetousness that is based on greed and spoke about ill-will that is based on hatred.e. One cannot simply tell fanatics that good deeds are the cause for a better birth and bad deeds are the cause for a bad birth. “That is really great. “Wow. but one can also have a sense of satisfaction if someone acts badly or experiences difficulties and pain. Question: What about Schadenfreude. Wrong views are deeply rooted delusions. I’m going to tear it out of her ear.. Now I will speak about log-lta. “spite”? Khenpo: One can be happy about someone’s positive activities. but probably isn’t. They accord with the three main mind poisons.” Wrong views are based on stupidity. What are examples of ill-will? Damaged seats in buses and trains in India and Nepal. ill-will. Then no erroneous views can follow. Any other proposal to counteract false views are misleading and deceptive.” Since one cannot see karma. “I really want it. If this happens. thinking that they will become free from suffering or become almighty as a Ill-will that one needs to give up is related to the mind poison of hatred. How can I get it?” and so forth. one has false views and denies that karma is true. What is the purpose of rejoicing in others’ merit? It becomes one’s own merit too. Therefore. Or. It is a big mistake to think like that. The same applies to spite. that person has a beautiful earring.. 6/3/2009 . It is crucial to base one’s view on having investigated what one has heard very carefully and to ask oneself again and again if one’s view accords with one’s experiences. but that changes when I go to Media-Markt. I don’t think like that. to contemplate what one has heard. http://www. Being bewildered and confused. people insist that their own tradition is the best and what others say may be all right. The fourth line in the “Seven-branched Prayer” is rejoicing in others’ accumulation of merit. and wrong views. The basis for spite is hatred. they just won’t believe it.dharmadownload.

I’m not happy that they are hurt. so one isn’t being spiteful if one laughs in movies.” The teachings I have presented so far dealt with not knowing.” Sometimes I laugh over spots in movies in which someone has an accident. but the situation looks funny.e. one of his closest disciples and servants. If I look at the lid of my cup. which results from abiding in meditative absorption. being aware of the result is the consciousness one has when one experiences the result of the cause. but it’s also not small. One day the villagers caught a huge fish. then I first saw it. There are two possibilities. Why is this story told? After Lord Buddha attained enlightenment he once had a headache. “spite. for example. There is a story in a past life of Lord Buddha. Three types of karma are generally taught. one has a good feeling . I don’t laugh because someone is hurt. it’s hard to think like this and to be sure whether or not one does hope to benefit oneself.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 16 of 35 The ten virtues are called “wholesome and good karma” and belong to the second link of dependent arising. But one knows that movies use tricks and are not really true. who was like us before he became enlightened. which is the basis. one gives rise to consciousness.rNams-par-shes-pa Based on karma. Next question: I want to ask about Schadenfreude. And it is one’s motivation that continues from one life to the next. which is karmic creation. “I have a headache now because I laughed on that occasion. It is best not to even think of one’s own benefit. Let me explain this briefly: A meditator who abides in concentrative absorption accumulates positive karma. but it often looks funny when someone falls down. Translator: So you are referring to real life? Student: Yes. Abandoning the ten nonvirtues and engaging in their opposites (for example. He was born as the son of a fisherman in a village of fishermen. but the situation looks funny. Is this valid for everyone who wants to develop Bodhicittta or only for persons who have already attained levels of realization on the path of a Bodhisattva? Khenpo: It depends and varies.dharmadownload. Then the thought arises in my mind to throw down the lid and break it. so why do you have a headache?” The Buddha told him the episode from his former life and added. by helping others. Consciousness at the Time of the Cause Looking at one’s consciousness at the time one accumulates the cause in relation to the Four Noble Truths. It is difficult for beginners to understand the third type of karma. the mental afflictions. the wish to help others by breaking the lid or the wish to harm others by breaking it. which is the motivation. Is it bad when I laugh then? Khenpo: I laugh at those spots in movies too. 3) Consciousness . i. such as giving something away so that someone else is happy and well. and slaughtered it while all the villagers watched. The third illustration in the twelve along the rim of the Wheel shows a monkey that represents consciousness. but it’s a static state and leads to immobility. for example.. It’s all right to benefit oneself a little. Khenpo: It isn’t a big mistake. Just like a monkey restlessly jumps from one branch of a tree to another. that action had a small result . The mind that one has when one accumulates karma continues into one’s next life. to be generous. Being aware of the cause is the consciousness one has while accumulating karma. dragged it into their village. the first two being good and bad” So. Question: You mentioned that unvirtuous behaviour could be changed into virtue. 6/3/2009 . Ananda. and karma – they explain the origin of suffering. There are cases in real life that people hurt themselves. Consciousness is the continuity of http://www..when one engages in a virtuous activity. too. which is the First Noble Truth. asked him. For example. to save life. Yet. Let me explain the first type now. and so forth) is accumulating good karma that causes one to attain a higher birth.that one is conscious of . but to only have the motivation to help others. so he lived along the coast of the ocean. in accordance with the second link in the Wheel of Existence. one’s mind leaps from one thought to the next. living beings accumulate karma due to not knowing and generate a specific consciousness as a result.not a very big one. the First Noble Truth is: “We need to know the truth of suffering. The teachings speak about two types of consciousness: being aware of the cause and being aware of the result. What is the meaning of consciousness in the context of the twelve links of dependent arising? As explained. “You are the Buddha. Student: But they hurt themselves.. The former Buddha saw this and laughed. There is a good or bad consciousness at the time of the cause.

which hurls one into a new life. so they explain how animals perceive differently due to their consciousness. There was a Kagyu Guru. 6/3/2009 . An animal cannot perceive the picture nor read the prayer. because they have no control over their mind. In the explanation of the twelve links. but human beings have both a physical form and a name.dharmadownload. For instance. In any case. one doesn’t remember the conditions and circumstances of one’s conception and birth. formation (‘du-byed). He chose to be born to her again so that she would not be sad. name and form are dealt with separately.. and their parents needn’t go to much pains to bring them up. a fish is at home in water and can freely move around there. ideas or concepts (‘du-shes).” which means to say that not only one’s apprehension of the world. We have attained a human birth now. Although born by a mother. but taught that one’s body is the result of one’s own past karma. and consciousness (rnam-shes). “the five aggregates that comprise the physical and mental constituents of a sentient being. the icon of the fourth link of dependent arising shows either three or five people in a boat and rowing across a great river. Ordinary beings cannot chose their rebirth. the Sanskrit term that was translated into Tibetan as phung-po-lnga. Other children have problems learning the difference between good and bad and behave accordingly. and lay it down on the so we have the mind of a human being. between virtue and vice. He passed away when he was about eight years old and his mother cried all night and day. Some children can naturally differentiate between good and bad. We can see many things with our consciousness. but one’s body too arises in dependence upon one’s karma. We can look into the sky and see the sun and the moon. I can take the card with the picture of Guru Rinpoche and the prayer to him printed on it. http://www. we can see houses and cars all around. The fourth link is called “name and form. and we are able to do what human beings can do. feelings or sensations (tshor-ba).” They are physical form (gzugs). Looking at the mind of human beings. Maybe it would perceive that it has reached the edge of the card or realize that it is crawling on top of its surface if that is the case. then one has also attained the ability to enter a woman’s womb freely. but we don’t know if it apprehends its environment at all. Lord Buddha did not set up rules and regulations that Buddhists are required to blindly believe and follow. Madhyamaka adherents (followers of the Great Middle Way School) take water as an example and explain that it is perceived differently by each being in the five realms of samsara. it is clear that everyone has the mind of a human being. If one has attained liberation.. our mind. One has the very same consciousness one had in a previous life when one enters a new life the moment one is conceived through the union of one’s future father and mother. think it is good. After conception. but it could not fathom more than just that. We can speak about what we see by designating what we saw. Cittamatra adherents (followers of the Mind-Only School of Buddhism) understand that every appearance is an appearance of karma. whose name was Sabgyu Tulku.” 4) Name and form . their mind. Consciousness at the Time of the Result The consciousness of someone who has created the conditions to be born as a human being and is conceived the moment its future mother and father unite is described as a karmic result. there are huge differences too.Ming-dang-gzugs Depending upon the version. it will experience terrible difficulties should it be taken out of the water and put on land. It seems that such a variety of differences results from the consciousness that individuals created and formed in their own past life. the fourth link of dependent origination arises in the mind of an individual taking on a new birth. Name and form in this context refer to the five skandhas. This is what is meant by the term “appearance of karma.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 17 of 35 one’s own mind. Since everyone here is a human being. One’s birth is subject to the wind of one’s karma. A fish sees water differently. because beings born in the realm of the gods have no names.

. to smell scents with one’s nose.Tshor-ba A feeling or sensation arises in the person who perceives an object through contact.e. the ear faculty (rna-ba’i-dbang-bo).V. The six faculties develop further. 6/3/2009 . Many people are born with their faculties not intact or are handicapped. which is the result of their past karma. 7) Feeling .org/pages/english/Natsok/0014_Leksheyling_teaching/lekshe. One has either pleasant.” Then the six perceptual entrances (i. unpleasant. to feel textures with one’s physical faculty. then the sixth link arises. and to apprehend objects that can be recognized and known with one’s mind.” 5) The six perceptual entrances . contact automatically takes place. etc. the “mental afflictions and defilements. CDs.” i. In any case. gain their properties. when the perceptual entrances are developed. called “contact. then his or her faculties or powers have developed fully. They are the eye faculty (mig-gi-dbang-bo). The connotation “form” applies the moment an embryo has developed a form and becomes a fetus in the womb of a woman. one directs one’s http://www. and become working faculties that lead to the sixth link.sKye-mched-drug The six perceptual entrances (skye-mched-drug in Tibetan) are the six bases of apprehension (also called “six powers.” dbang-po-drug).The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 18 of 35 Photos of a growing fetus can be made nowadays. the tongue faculty (nye’i-dbang-bo).. and so forth. And the threefold feelings give rise to the kleshas. sounds can be heard with the ears. the bodily sensation faculty (lüs-kyi-dbang-bo). synthetic material. When it is possible for an individual to perceive and apprehend. Contact is the ability to see a form with one’s eyes. until visual forms that are fit to be seen can be seen with the eyes. which I once saw on a BBC report.dharmadownload. 6) Contact . or neutral feelings when one has contact with an object of perception. to taste with one’s tongue. internet for educational purposes. Furthermore.e. One can have a multitude of feelings after having come into contact with the very many objects that can be perceived and apprehended in the world. the five sense bases and the mental faculty) develop further. one has many feelings about memories that are stored and arise from one’s own ground consciousness again. such as T. As a result. artificial flavours. shows. An immense variety of objects produced from modern scientific discoveries activate feelings.. This stage is link five and is called “the six perceptual entrances. the nose faculty (sna’i-dbangbo). perfumes. to hear a sound with one’s ears. The icon in the Wheel of Existence is a house with six windows. A fetus gradually develops the five skandhas as the bases for its consciousness. and the mental faculty (yid-kyi-dbangbo). The icon in the mural is a person who has been struck in the eye by an arrow. which is contact. It refers to contact that takes place between a sensory faculty and an object that can be perceived with the respective sensory organ or apprehended with the mind. an image that certainly awakens a strong feeling when one looks at it. The icon in the Wheel of Life that illustrates contact shows a man and woman embracing. mind poisons.Reg-ba Contact in the context of the twelve links is the point at which the faculties have developed fully. but they are still merely nominal at such an early stage. The five windows symbolize the five sensory faculties and the sixth symbolizes the mental faculty that apprehends objects. The moment all six faculties or powers are developed and the six objects that can be perceived and apprehended are present..

Therefore. not the hungry ghost. The first two links. But if one is careful and cautious that hatred and anger don’t occur.. One asks oneself where a feeling comes from and in that way examines its cause. which lead one to drink more from the world of appearances. Based upon unpleasant feelings. 6/3/2009 . one would not feel thirst. One is then heedful to remain in equanimity when a pleasant feeling arises. one wouldn’t have attachment. The eighth link is a mind poison that leads to the ninth link that is also a mind poison.Sred-pa Thirst is an involvement with the objective world that one encounters and experiences. The illustration of the eighth link shows a woman offering a drink to a man. “Where does this feeling come from?” Having examined. Just looking at humans and animals. it is evident that they all experience contact. the six perceptual entrances cause contact. i. which is not good. If one doesn’t do anything about it. then one will not accumulate bad karma. then there’s no cause to be reborn in samsara. then one will remain enmeshed in samsara.” ‘död-chags in Tibetan. one’s life will be pleasant. Samsara moves in one direction only. Sometimes one has good feelings and sometimes bad ones. so that one doesn’t give in to thirst for pleasant feelings. and go to bed late in order to satisfy their thirst for pleasant feelings. As a result. hell. one can develop hatred. There is no beginning or end to samsara. one will experience a high rebirth. and feeling. If I look at a form. I would have an unpleasant feeling and could ask myself. so which realms do we perceive? The human and animal realms. rather it churns and turns endlessly. which is referred to as “thirst. For instance. The Perspective: If one wishes to meditate the twelve links of dependent arising. problems evolve from craving. It illustrates attachment that has been stimulated by perceptions and emotions. are busy all day. the six perceptual entrances. one craves to keep those experiences or have them again. and experience thirst. then I could ask myself where the feeling I have from seeing it comes from and would http://www. If one never felt happy and joyful. we need to be extremely cautious and careful when we have pleasant feelings. and all seven pertain to the First Noble Truth. are involved in life by craving to experience physical and mental well-being. not knowing and karmic creation. 8) Thirst . one is anxious to keep away from them and becomes involved by rejecting them. if someone were to throw something at my head. If one is not careful when an unpleasant feeling arises or when a pleasant feeling passes. are causes. and if one has no feelings. We have been born as human beings. If one has no thirst. so the eighth link is actually “attachment.” the eighth link. one wouldn’t have feelings. I would understand that it comes from contact with that specific object. They lead to the following links of name and form.dharmadownload. one can learn to become aware of one’s good and bad feelings. As it is. have feelings. the truth of suffering. This process lasts until the seventh link of feeling. and one can accumulate good karma.. It is very difficult not to be thirsty and crave . or realm of the gods.. The links arise step-by-step and in dependence upon the consciousness one has at the time of the result. They wake up early in the morning. Based upon pleasant feelings one has about the objective world.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 19 of 35 attention towards the future and becomes involved by developing a sense of need. Samsara is based upon the link of not knowing. If one never succumbed to thirst and craving. There are two kinds of consciousness: consciousness at the time of the cause and consciousness at the time of the result. If one is able to watch and guard one’s mind. then that is meditating the twelve links. Contact brings on feelings.everyone does.

one can recite mantras. If you have any questions. which is not their absence. unpleasant. practice love and compassion. If one hears something one doesn’t like. If one can concentrate on the six perceptual entrances and notice contact when it takes place. I think that if we realize primordial wisdom. between Tsongkapa. an all-basis consciousness in which one’s karma is stored. There are four main philosophical schools in Buddhism. then one needs to be aware of one’s feelings and recognize whether they are pleasant or not. There are many practices in Buddhism and their sole purpose is to eliminate not knowing. i. there are many views in the world and everyone wishes to eliminate suffering and experience happiness and joy. All feelings are based on karma. an animal. Many very big treatises explain the different views. but his blindness is based upon negative karma. If one wants to meditate the twelve links of dependent arising. Returning to samsara.. the Lamas belonging to the Nyingmapa School. the Karmapas. the Vaibhasika School that concentrates on classifications. Battling against ma-rig-pa is a Buddhist’s main Dharma practice. This is to say that no existent has ever arisen in the absence of a cause and conditions. Smelling something is also a contact. accumulate merit and wisdom. and so forth. Now. A blind person cannot visually come into contact with the many flowers one might place in front of him. Student: Karma bank. Contact doesn’t necessarily only involve material things. then one can ask oneself where the feeling comes from and discover that it arises from having come into contact with that specific sound. 6/3/2009 . a blind person cannot feel attachment for the flowers one might have placed in front of him because he cannot contact them. There are a vast variety of ways to contact objects. Madhyamaka proponents hold that everything always arises in dependence. This is the reason why all Buddhist practices are focused on eliminating the initial cause of suffering.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 20 of 35 find that it arises due to contacting that form with my eyes.” in which case the proceeding appearance can only arise if the preceding appearance has arisen. which means “arisen in dependence upon causal connections. And the consciousness that takes on birth as a human or animal is only based upon karma that a living being accumulated in a former life. nothing exists independently. Tasting is quite subjective. What causes one’s feelings? Through meditation. the fourth link. The different opinions of Madhyamikas and Cittamatrins brought on many disputes in Tibet. It is possible to hear pleasant or unpleasant sounds with one’s ears.” then one will directly realize how karma is accumulated and stored. http://www. otherwise it is good to accept the view that the ground consciousness is the storehouse of all karmic imprints. Buddhists investigate where suffering and happiness come from. ma-rig-pa. Then one examines where the feeling one has recognized comes from. Many methods are available to practitioners on the path . There is only one cause for the creation of the link name and form and that is the consciousness a living being has when taking on birth as a human.. and that is the practice. every pleasant. As to feelings. the Sautrantika School that relies on the Sutras. then the six perceptual entrances will not arise. then it is a method to meditate the twelve links of dependent arising. How do the six perceptual entrances arise? From name and form. as well as neutral feeling inevitably entails suffering. Vanquishing not knowing is the reason we practice and is our goal.maybe there is some bank.. so it is not good. As said. The easiest teachings for us to understand and that seem most logical state that there is a ground consciousness in which one’s impressions and habitual patterns are stored. When one directly perceives the truth of Dharmata. then we will directly see how karma is stored. let us look at the word rten-cing-'brel-bar-'byung-ba. Contact only takes place by means of the six perceptual entrances . for instance. generate Bodhicitta. Why? Because he doesn’t have eyes to see with. and so forth. the Cittamatra School that teaches that everything is only mind. please ask. etc. and one accumulates karma based upon not knowing (link 1).org/pages/english/Natsok/0014_Leksheyling_teaching/lekshe. Nobody can really become free of coming into contact with appearances in the world and not have feelings about them. contact cannot occur. Khenpo: The treatises state that everyone has a ground consciousness.e. Question: Where is karma stored if the mind is empty of itself? Khenpo: Good question . “suchness. If one doesn’t have the skandha of form. I really enjoy spicy food. one finds that feelings are solely caused through contact. for instance. and the Madhyamaka School.dharmadownload.

When such persons run into difficulties. A movie on this tells the life-story of a one-legged hero whose girlfriend turns her back on him. rather know that due to the law of karma everyone is responsible for the results of his or her own actions. though.” We all experience how thirst arises from feelings (link 7). which is birth (link 11). a meditator practices not to succumb to the eighth link. they are explained separately. But one usually does ask why one has an unpleasant feeling and wonders why one suffers. Buddhists do not believe that suffering and happiness are due to causes outside themselves. and cannot just throw it away. We have this body now. but drifts away when one is happy and then forgets about suffering and pain. “First you made me one-legged and then you made my girlfriend leave me. The view he has is the belief that a god is actually responsible for the suffering he experienced. and becoming (link 10) are created in this life and lead to one’s next life.. So one will more likely develop an inquisitive mind if one experiences suffering. which is thirst. then they get angry and quarrel. cannot ignore it. then one won’t have thirst and will not remain trapped in a misleading involvement with the deceptive world of appearances. so that one understands them more easily. This is the reason Lord Buddha first taught the truth of suffering when he presented the instructions on the Four Noble Truths. because we create our own karma. Our present body is the result of our thirst and involvement with the skandhas in our past life that evolve into name and form in this life (link 4). A god cannot grant freedom from suffering and happiness. there are many more stages in the process of dependent Thirst (link 8). The stages starting with “consciousness at the time of the result” up to and including the seventh link of feeling are results and therefore are descriptions of the mind that enters the womb at conception. http://www.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 21 of 35 There is supposed to be another new religion in India that teaches that suffering and happiness are god-given. 6/3/2009 . The Perspective: While on the path. Actually. One usually doesn’t ask why one has a pleasant feeling.dharmadownload. He is mad at the god he believes in and asks. The links we have gone through up to and including “consciousness at the time of the cause” are causes resulting from a past life.and the cause is thirst.. grasping (link 9). Why did you do that?” He argues with the god he believes in and that’s the story. and an advanced practitioner eventually breaks the chain-reaction that keeps him or her locked in samsara. so it is logical that when one is free of feelings. “conditioned existence that is marked by suffering and pain. but the twelve divisions in the Wheel sum them up quite clearly. Links one up to and including seven are similar to links eight up to and including twelve. All we can do is abandon the cause that leads to future suffering and pain in samsara . In order to understand the cause correctly. one needs to understand the result.

Returning to the eighth link. Everyone has feelings – everyone experiences pleasant. As soon as one becomes used to them. Yet. 6/3/2009 .The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 22 of 35 The Four Noble Truths . The basis for the mind poisons are the three types of feelings. It is impossible to accomplish cessation of the origin of suffering in this life. a competent doctor will look for the cause and try to treat it to the effect that one does not get the same sickness again.dharmadownload. they lose their effectiveness.bdug-bsngäl-gi-bden-pa . We saw that all afflictions arise from the three main mind poisons. The First and Second Noble Truths: The Truth of Suffering and the Truth of the Origin of Suffering Why is it impossible to eliminate the origin of suffering in this life? When one gets sick. because it is a result. unpleasant. The Second Noble Truth kung-‘byung-ba’i-bden-pa .states that it is necessary to understand the origin of suffering. One can take pain killers to alleviate one’s pain. called “thirst”: The process that takes place from the first link of not knowing until and including the seventh of feeling resembles the process that takes place from the eighth link of thirst until and including the twelfth link of old age and death.. it is not only important to know the truth of suffering and understand how and why it Instead of stifling a sickness. one also needs to accomplish cessation of suffering. it is impossible to do anything about the cause of one’s sickness. http://www.‘gog-pa’i-bden-pa. but a practitioner can learn to patiently accept suffering and consequently have a better life.. the Third Noble Truth . and neutral feelings.bDen-pa-rnam-bzhi The First Noble Truth . but it is said that they harm one’s body. How do I know? I get headaches and took pain pills.states that it is necessary to know suffering.

9) Grasping . sred-pa. I wouldn’t want to return home from my travels.e.dharmadownload. As long as one doesn’t realize the deceptive nature of conditioned existence.” We needn’t speak about this in more detail here. The four contemplations are a method that move one to practice the Buddhist path. because everyone knows what grasping means from own experience. then the cause for a future birth is vanquished. and thinks it’s nice. Why am I happy to return home? Because I see no defects and am attached. I have a nice room in my monastery in Nepal. I see half of the Kathmandu Valley when I open the door and therefore am a little attached to my monk’s cell. one will continue remaining attached to and stuck and will not even think that it is necessary to even want to find a method to become free of conditionality.” The icon of the ninth link in the Wheel depicts a person picking the fruit of his tree. i. He takes the results he hopes will be edible and pleasing. if the stench of the city were too penetrating.. For instance. The way to overcome thirst is called “the path. one will remain attached to it. and that it’s natural to want to avoid or eliminate unpleasant feelings. so that one turns one’s mind away from one’s thirst and towards the Dharma.” the Fourth Noble Truth – lam-gyi-bden-pa – which states that “we need to apply the path. In order to be able to buy the watch. As long as one doesn’t realize the true nature of samsara. I would need to take the next step. I wouldn’t just take The accumulation of both negative and positive karma lead to what is referred to as “becoming. called “becoming.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 23 of 35 We understand that it’s natural to want to extend or repeat pleasant feelings.they inspire one to turn one’s mind away from samsara. if I were attached to someone else’s watch. http://www.” So. Thirst is the cause for rebirth in samsara. then one will not be attached to it. which is the ninth link. or if Rinpoche were always angry with me. then one grasps for it. called “grasping. 6/3/2009 . If one thirsts for samsara.” srid-pa.” The reason one will experience suffering in one’s next birth is thirst. sees no defects. This is why one engages in the preliminary practices of the four contemplations . and as a result aversion arises. Overcoming thirst is what is meant by the Third Noble Truth. This completes the discussion on the very misleading nature of the eighth link. which is accomplishing cessation of suffering.Nye-bar-len-pa The reason one experiences suffering is ma-rig-pa. that’s how the mind poisons evolve. If my room were not nice. 10) Becoming . and as a result attachment arises. In any case. If one truly sees the defects and understands that there is no advantage of focusing one’s attention on samsara. The defects and inadequacies of conditioned existence are contemplated at the beginning of Buddhist practices. but would go into town and buy the same one. Therefore it is said that one will remain in samsara as long as one is attached. “not knowing. If a practitioner doesn’t give in to thirst. one will continue spinning and circling around in conditioned existence and will repeatedly wander through the twelve links of dependent arising due to attachment..Srid-pa The tenth link is equivalent to the accumulation of karma. For example.. those are the Four Noble Truths. which is thirst. We don’t really understand neutral feelings. but it’s quite difficult to reach such a high level of realization. which is the tenth link.

org/pages/english/Natsok/0014_Leksheyling_teaching/lekshe. as it is. 5. The icon shows a woman giving birth. Thirst. The new life is determined by the fruits of the old. in this case the result is birth. and becoming (links 8. everyone was born and therefore will die. 4. there would be no need to offer these teachings. 9. a mother holds the hand of her child. the six perceptual entrances. Karmic creation and becoming are actions that produce results. Having been born. and 10). In another version. http://www. which is a corpse wrapped to be disposed. One’s present feelings lead to thirst. But. and the links that one has up to and including feeling (link 7) are results of one’s karma in a former life and of not knowing (link 1). name and form. there are many other forms of suffering one experiences between birth and death. Khenpo: Grasping is based upon the feelings one has for an object. grasping. 11) Birth . Birth as well as ageing and death (links 11 and 12) are results of these three..sKye-ba The step from becoming to birth is the same process that takes place from the second link of karmic creation to the moment a mind is conceived in the womb of a woman during the third link of consciousness. in that one is drawn to the parents in accordance with one’s karma in the process of being born. Consciousness. and feeling (links 3. 6/3/2009 . But having been born. and becoming (links 8. 6.. which are causes for ageing and death (links 11 and 12) as well as for one’s rebirth. It depicts two people carrying a burden. 12) Ageing and Death . The picture of the tenth link often shows a person beckoning another to give or to take. There is no medicine on the market or means that can spare one from growing old and dying. one goes one’s way and sometimes experiences happiness and sometimes experiences suffering and pain. contact. name and form (link 4).rGa-shi Next to the suffering that ageing and death cause. We can say that consciousness (link 3). One works and accumulates karma due to grasping. and arises automatically from thirst. 9. the activity one exerts to acquire it. The illustration shows the end of one round and the beginning of a new life in one of the realms of existence. one is automatically subject to ageing and death. Hadn’t one been born. and 10) are causes. and they are all subsumed in the twelfth link.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 24 of 35 Question: I didn’t understand the ninth link. The Process of Causality Each of the twelve links is either a cause or a result.dharmadownload. grasping. and 7) are results of the first two. Ignorance and karmic creation (links 1 and 2) are causes.

” The next two Noble Truths. the truth of suffering and the truth of the origin of suffering.dharmadownload. then one has won the correct view. the truth of cessation and the truth of the path. The image in the Wheel is explicit. If one doesn’t understand the process of dependent arising. This means to say that meditating the twelve links well is very important. which is a result of having an erroneous view of dependent arising. In that case. http://www. but often hurts others too. because it illustrates our situation clearly. then one has doubts and isn’t sure what to do and not do. and whether one knows what one needs to adopt and reject. one can look back on the life one has now and see that not knowing and karmic creation brought on the life one will have attained at another time too. Understanding the twelve links well is a measuring-rod to see whether one has developed the correct view.” If one looks at samsara in the context of the Four Noble Truths.e. The Third Noble Truth: The Truth of Cessation A small light beam is visible in the mural of the Wheel . yet we don’t know when. then suffering ceases. and the formless realm).it shines outside the realm of samsara and depicts perfect purification. one can see that not knowing and karmic creation in one’s last life are the cause of one’s present human birth. i.. the form realm. but it illustrates our situation quite well by pointing to the fact that we are caught. we are caught in the jaws of the demon of death and cannot hide or escape. The Third Noble Truth is the truth of cessation. “the mental afflictions. that is definite. The First Noble Truth is the truth of suffering. then the first two Noble Truths. Having gained certainty in the correct view. address cause and effect in relation to perfect purification.. There are many methods to become free of suffering.. one benefits others once in a while. address cause and effect in relation to the kleshas. Had the rabbit been a far distance away from the hungry tiger. When one has surmounted samsara. then one is not caught in the fangs of the demon of death anymore – and then the monster can’t bite one and eat one up. one will falter. the law of cause and effect. If one succeeds in making one’s way out of samsara. If one has understood the twelve links of dependent arising well. cannot flee. then it could have hopped into its hole in the earth and hid.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 25 of 35 Looking at one’s present life. will die. so Lord Buddha taught the Fourth Noble Truth. When one is reborn some day due to thirst and the other conditions discussed above. Joy arises naturally if one is certain of the ‘gog-pa’i-bden-pa. Lord Buddha presented the method to become free of the three realms of existence when he turned the Wheel of Dharma and taught the third Noble Truth. one continues spinning and swirling around in cyclic existence. “samsara. If one understands the twelve links of dependent arising and realizes that everyone continuously passes through each link. Being clutched in the fangs of the monster of death can be exemplified by thinking of a fluffy little rabbit caught in the mouth of a tiger. And the Fourth Noble Truth is the truth of the path. As long as one doubts whether karma is true. The Perspective: Seeing the icon in the Wheel of Existence awakens one’s awareness of impermanence. It is an effective reminder that causes one to practice the Dharma and become free of the three realms of samsara (the desire realm. then one has understood the first two truths correctly. The Second Noble Truth is the truth of the origin of suffering. 6/3/2009 . mi-rtag-pa in Tibetan. ‘khor-ba. It is only an image and there is no real monster out to devour us. a disciple is more than happy to engage in beneficial activities and determinedly rejects bad actions. The tiger will bite and kill the little rabbit. And so. Likewise. the truth of the path of cessation. whether one has gained certainty of karma. which is the truth of the path.

Then one won’t be attached to experiences that are subject to change and that do occur in everyone’s life. and be very happy if I had bought a lotto ticket during my visit to Germany and had won 5000. sdug-bsngäl-gsum. so by reflecting one’s own life. arrange the table in my room nicely. or when friends let one down.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 26 of 35 The Fourth Noble Truth: The Truth of the Path – The Noble Eightfold Path The truth of the path is called “the noble eightfold path. right action (läs-kyi-mtha’). the suffering of conditioned existence (‘dubyed-kyi-sdug-bsngäl). and this mistaken belief is referred to as “holding that which entails suffering as happiness. One doesn’t really apprehend the other two kinds of suffering. sit down on my chair. which is the right view. which means to say that it is instable. What does suffering of change mean? Happiness that is subject to change. the truth of suffering and the truth of the origin of suffering. right cognition (yang-dag-pa’i-rtog-pa). Buddhism teaches that there are three kinds of suffering. and the suffering of suffering (sdug-bsngäl-gi-sdug-bsngäl). It is a wrong view thinking temporary prosperity is happiness. Do you experience change as suffering? Student: No. I will speak about the first two Noble Truths. 1) The right view . In moments like that. and right concentration (ting-nge-‘dzin). when one has to spend time in a hospital.dharmadownload.” If one thinks like They are: the suffering of change (‘gyur-ba’i-sdug-bsngäl). one thinks. Nobody is attracted to suffering. What about you? Do you see good luck and prosperity as suffering? Student: Yes. It will not be difficult to understand the first aspect of the Fourth Noble Truth if one has understood the twelve links of dependent arising. It is very difficult to understand that luck entails suffering. Khenpo: For instance. Lhaje Gampopa explained the three kinds of suffering in great detail in The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. The eight aspects of the path of noble beings are: right view (lta-ba-yang-dag). right livelihood (yang-dagpa’i-‘tsho-ba).The Three Kinds of Suffering The First Noble Truth states that one needs to understand suffering. because everything changes.. It was hard for me to believe that change causes suffering when I first heard about the three kinds of suffering. one will continue chasing after what one considers good luck and never be content. It’s not possible to really acknowledge suffering of change from hearsay. By recalling one’s own life. so you can study this book that has been translated into many languages. “What good luck!” But a Buddhist knows that this kind of luck is deceptive.. If one is not attached to the belief that what entails suffering is happiness and meditates http://www. right speech (yang-dag-pa’i-ngag-pa). one will be able to recognize suffering of change. One usually only perceives and apprehends suffering of suffering. I would return home..” ‘phag-lam-gyi-yang-lag-brgyäd. in more detail while explaining the first aspect of the Fourth Noble Truth. right effort (yang-dag-pa’i-rtsol-ba). One experiences suffering of suffering when one is sick. Khenpo: Good. 6/3/2009 . for example. right mindfulness (drän-pa-yang-dag). but it’s easy to understand from one’s own experience that good situations don’t last and that one suffers when they end.Euro. one actually sees the suffering of change of transitory happiness and will not be attached.

There are many degrees of kleshas. but it’s really hard to realize suffering of conditioned existence. Having understood that samsara only entails suffering and pain. presented the Second Noble Truth. i. What does suffering of conditioned existence mean? When one has been conceived. it is most important to recognize and abandon not knowing mixed with kleshas. thirst (link 8). If one practices in this way. then he or she has accomplished cessation of suffering. which is suffering. From the two categories of not knowing (link 1). “real short. It’s not hard understanding how the two types of causes arise if one understands the twelve links of dependent arising. It is a fact that everyone is always ignorant and has various mind poisons. In the same way.” Suffering of conditioned existence is based upon being blind to the fact that the accumulation of nonvirtue leads to suffering. We experience a similar state when we are in deep sleep and don’t dream. in turn.. in the middle a practitioner needs to abandon them.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 27 of 35 this well. We saw that ignorance (link 1). but it’s very hard to realize. I spoke about karma that leads to immobility. Suffering of conditioned existence is also based upon not knowing that the accumulation of positive karma causes happiness and also leads to the experience of suffering. so the kleshas are the main cause of suffering. which. then one sees that samsara only spells suffering and that it will never render lasting happiness and joy. If one understands them. The Perspective: When one understands the truth of suffering well. When a diligent practitioner has abandoned and uprooted the kleshas. and in the end a practitioner needs to uproot the kleshas completely so that they never arise again. then the cause of suffering has been relinquished in his or her mind and the result. suffering of suffering.” After having spoken about the truth of suffering. Why is it more important to overcome the kleshas than karma? If one eliminates the kleshas. If you have any questions. then the eighth link of dependent arising. Karmic creation and becoming (links 2 and 10) belong to karma and also need to be abandoned. This is the moment suffering of conditionality begins.e. they would certainly do their best to free themselves and get out as fast as possible. one won’t accumulate karma that leads to the link of becoming.. Lord Buddha continued turning the Wheel of Dharma. if we see the suffering that marks samsara. and grasping (link 9) are kleshas.” Beginners can only acknowledge that such a state exists. the suffering of change. There are many types of godly lives.dharmadownload. “mental defilements and afflictions. As to the twelve links of dependent arising. please ask. the http://www.they are absorbed in a state of indifference and only have neutral feelings of indifference. won’t arise again. will not arise in one’s mind and. the five links from consciousness until and including feeling (links 3 to 7) and the two links of rebirth as well as ageing and death (links 11 and 12) deal with the truth of suffering. then one has understood the truth of suffering. which cause them to experience suffering of conditioned existence. but those who abide in the state of immobility don’t have feelings like we have . then one is a sincere and genuine Dharma student. determines one’s rebirth. From among the three types of suffering. We saw that there are two types: causes that arise from karma and causes that arise from the kleshas. name and form arise and develop. and such a state is also called “the suffering of conditioned existence. it’s easiest understanding suffering of suffering. This is the main reason Lord Buddha first started teaching by presenting the First Noble Truth and said that one needs to understand suffering.e.. and said that one needs to abandon the causes of suffering. Nobody sees a cesspool as a swimming pool and feels attached to it. i. Should anyone fall into a cesspool. This is to say: When a noble practitioner stops creating the causes of suffering. so at the beginning a practitioner needs to learn about them. then one won’t accumulate negative karma. thirst. 6/3/2009 . we would only seek to become free and find a way out as fast as possible. Then we have no feelings of suffering and joy. Question: Did you explain suffering of conditioned existence? Khenpo: Sehr kurz.e.sehr schwer. not knowing mixed with kleshas and not knowing not associated with kleshas. and it would be good to understand suffering of change .” which need to be abandoned. One can gradually understand suffering of change through meditation practice. as a result. “very hard. in which case one attains the body of a god that is static and immobile.. It’s already very good to understand suffering of suffering.. a disciple turns his or her mind away and feels no attachment for it.

recognizing that suffering has a cause.ltaba-yang-dag. which is all the more reason to develop the right view first. 2) Right cognition As it is. but they aren’t if they are not aware of and practice the noble eightfold path. “We need to accomplish cessation” – ‘gog-pa’i-thob-pa-byed-ba. It is merely a rumour if one hears that someone is supposed to be an important Lama or Tulku but has not understood the noble truth of suffering. If one’s thoughts are not good. and contemplated suffering of change again and again.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 28 of 35 Third Noble Truth that Lord Buddha taught. What does one do in order to accomplish cessation? One practices the path. What does path. What is the right view? Recognizing suffering. For example. and the right view is the first aspect a follower needs to acknowledge and appreciate. then they mature and eventually become an Arya. If one succeeds. and if one takes the path that leads to freedom from suffering. Translator: Would you clarify the term ‘phag-pa a little more? Khenpo: ‘Phag-pa is someone who has advanced farther than ordinary living beings. If one’s thoughts are based on the right view and are wholesome and good. Why do living beings remain enmeshed in samsara? Due to their wrong views. And the Fourth Noble Truth teaches the path a disciple practices in order to end suffering. It is said that individuals who realize suffering of change are noble beings. Beginners cannot understand suffering of change.dharmadownload.. lam in Tibetan. and appreciating the path to accomplish this aim. has read many books. but first it is necessary to have the right view . Since everyone has to tread the path in order to become free from suffering. All eight aspects of the noble eightfold path are very important. If they have cultivated the right view. Arya in Sanskrit. Even though one may have received many teachings. mean? Usually the word “path” refers to a way one can go. one still clings to any luck and prosperity that one might have. human beings think. then it is the right path. it’s rather hard to have good thoughts. http://www. sometimes they aren’t. In the absence of the right view. but it’s not that easy to understand. It is necessary and good to always check one’s thoughts before one does anything. then one will probably act out that thought. 3) Right effort Right effort concerns one’s activities. If one gains certainty in these truths. It is important to diligently practice the path and accumulate merit and wisdom by contemplating and meditating the instructions one has received. then their way of thinking is right cognition. Then one will realize that transitory luck actually entails suffering. As then one’s activities will be good. furthermore acknowledging that it is possible to accomplish cessation of suffering.sometimes they are good. It’s necessary to recognize negative thoughts the moment they arise and change them into benevolent thoughts. Beginners continuously give rise to concepts and thoughts . One can look at someone sitting higher than oneself in a shrine room and think they are noble beings. 6/3/2009 . Maybe many of you doubt the truth of the suffering of change. thinking suffering is luck. there are eight aspects of the path of noble beings. they need to learn about and know the truth of the path.. then one has the right view. if the thought to steal something arises in one’s mind. which states. An individual who has practiced and integrated the eightfold path in life is a noble being. then one is practicing the eightfold path. ‘phag-pa in Tibetan. for example. yet if they do. then one’s activities will be negative and one will act to hurt others.

in the meditation instructions it is said that both the points in the body as well as the points of the mind are important. so one focuses one’s attention on one’s body and meditates its parts. The fourth practice is mindfulness of phenomena. to use it to practice the Dharma. As a result. One takes one’s attention from the crown of one’s head and leads it through one’s body to the soles of one’s feet. They needn’t be sought outside oneself. Question: I have a question concerning mindfulness of one’s body. The second practice of mindfulness is being mindful of one’s feelings. one directs one’s attention on one’s lungs and watches how they function while one inhales and exhales. one seeks to find the answer to the questions one asks oneself. which doesn’t mean it is located in a specific spot in the body.e. One’s physical body is the basis for practicing the Dharma. so this aspect of the path is very important and central to Buddhism. One examines the http://www. The main purpose of concentrating on one’s body during mindfulness meditation is to understand how important one’s body really is.. one is aware of one’s feelings. then one treats it like a Christmas tree. The four practices of mindfulness are described very exactly in the chapter entitled. but make good use of it by practicing the Dharma. and to accumulate good karma. There are four practices that are very easy to do. to the right. then one has realized mindfulness of one’s body. Therefore. If one thinks that a pleasant feeling truly exists. When one’s winds flow easily. thereby increasing one’s kleshas and doing negative things as a result. which are conditions. so it’s very important. then that’s the result of practicing meditation on one’s body. and constituents of the world of appearances. it’s important to be heedful so that one doesn’t get sick and die. “Insight” in The Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 29 of 35 4) Right mindfulness One generates and cultivates right mindfulness by practicing meditation. which are all factors. and celebrates it as though one were making offerings to one’s body. and grows. one discovers that one’s body has no Usually one thinks that one’s body is permanent . The second practice is mindfulness of one’s feelings and sensations. One usually thinks one’s constituents are pure. and that is why the first meditation of mindfulness is on one’s body. The third practice is mindfulness of one’s own mind. My body slouches when my thoughts drift away.. The mind is like a guest living in a hotel. one takes care of one’s body. or to the left. changes one’s entire wardrobe every few years. then one’s mind feels light. If one overestimates one’s physical body. then the channels in one’s body will be straight and the winds can flow easily as a result. If one understands that one only wants to use one’s body to practice the Dharma. When pleasant feelings arise. One buys expensive jewelry to adorn it. I notice that my posture is very important during meditation. The first practice is mindfulness of one’s’s not easy to accept that one’s body is impermanent. Why is it so important to sit upright? It is taught that the mind enters life. then one sits down in the meditation posture and searches by asking. If one wants to meditate mindfulness of one’s body. then one will try to hold or experience it again. thus diminishing one’s attachment.. That would be the result of having practiced the meditation of being mindful of one’s body. rather it is connected with the inner winds that move through the inner channels that run through the body. Would you say something about this? Khenpo: Sutrayana does not offer teachings about the channels and winds in one’s body. because one uses that which is inside oneself. 6/3/2009 . “Where is the essence of my body?” If one practices well.dharmadownload. Of course. elements. If one has understood this. i. This doesn’t mean to say that one’s body is impure and that one must reject it. buys fantastic jackets. develops. while Vajrayana instructs that one needs to sit upright and not lean forward. for instance. “What is that feeling? Did it arise on its own? Does it have an own nature?” and so forth. and one understands that one should not defy one’s body either. thirst arises in one’s mind and difficulties ensue. If one sits straight.

If one isn’t proficient in the foregoing practices. and real. but these aspects are not needed at this stage of practice. One can take pictures of a rainbow. and that is the purpose of practice. Are they established as they seem to be?” The Perspective: Meditating the four practices of mindfulness are gradual steps that become bigger as one progresses to the fourth. seeing that the Aryas once started at the beginning and gradually accomplished the result. one thinks that one’s mind truly exists. Human beings look in a mirror and don’t fight with http://www. Since it’s not an independent existent. Knowing that a rainbow lacks true existence. a ‘phag-pa in Tibetan. “Do things really exist as they appear to do. I didn’t say this to discourage anyone. one has no thirst and is not attached to it. The next practice is mindfulness of “phenomena. becomes a Buddhist. then one sees that all inner and outer factors of existence have no own essence. one discovers that one has them. and ponders too much about feelings. valuable.V. The Perspective: When one has realized the Dharma due to having practice quite well. but arise in dependence upon causes and conditions. then one will become an Arya. and this is called “cessation. If one examines them. finds it’s very difficult. and to continue with one’s practice afterwards. because one thinks it is solid. Having abandoned thirst. the other deity holds it at the hip. Beginners can practice once in a while and understand the nature of their mind on and off. sunshine. and a little rain. but one can’t take a piece out and call it one’s own.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 30 of 35 nature of a feeling and discovers that feelings have no essence and reality of their own. then nobody needs to teach that one should not be attached to experiences and appearances. But one can try to practice by asking oneself.” dharmas. It is necessary to concentrate one’s attention on a deity in Mantrayana – one deity holds a bell upwards. then I would recommend studying texts of the Great Middle Way School. one isn’t involved with inner and outer appearances and doesn’t grasp anymore. How does one notice that one has a pleasant feeling? There are various ways of perceiving a pleasant feeling one has. then one will have less and less painful feelings. One day one notices that one’s mind hasn’t been tamed and doesn’t settle down.” I saw a movie on T.dharmadownload. If one focuses one’s attention upon one’s mind and realizes its nature.” which showed a cat fighting violently with its own reflection in a mirror. That’s how it is. If one has realized all four. The four mindfulness practices are taught in Sutrayana and do not belong to Mantrayana. Although one cannot find it. When one has gained certainty and integrated realization of the true nature of all things. But one is attached to and wants to own a piece of gold that one might see. Having abandoned grasping. but it’s very difficult to realize it fully. A rainbow appears in the sky when the sun shines and it rains a little. If one sits down to meditate. then one discovers that they have no essence. 6/3/2009 . which is the largest. notices that one’s mind wanders then it will be quite hard focusing one’s attention on one’s mind.. When one enters the Dharma. one has relinquished becoming. When one is mindful of one’s pleasant feelings. one practices looking at one’s mind with one’s mind. Rainbows appear when these three conditions prevail: the sky. and practices. The next practice is mindfulness of one’s mind. then it would be good to have a break. because non-attachment will naturally have unfolded in one’s mind. Why? I think the reason is that one hasn’t practiced enough. “Where and how is my mind? Is it inside or outside my body?” And so. One concentrates appearances and asks oneself. Why did the cat fight with its reflection? The cat perceived its own reflection as real. it may happen that one practices for many years.. a rainbow will not appear in the absence of these three conditions. If one wants to practice meditating the four types of mindfulness. to take a walk. called “Animal Fun.

One begins slowly by practicing tranquility meditation and letting one’s mind calm down.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 31 of 35 their own reflection when they have a mad expression. “a noble being. If one practices mindfulness meditation. If one can ease one’s mind through tranquility meditation. If one can let one’s mind rest in ease. in the yellow colour. There are many methods to concentrate on one’s breath. one realizes that all appearances arise in dependence upon causes and conditions and therefore are not real. since I see everything blurred without them. The four mindfulness practices are central while on the path. but they are distracted again five or ten minutes later.” etc. There are many translations for the Sanskrit term (which is samadhi). then one is an Arya. one should generate the wish to be able to abide in meditative absorption until one is nourished by it. but one can’t directly perceive this until one’s karma is spent.while walking down the street or while driving around. By practicing again and again. Outer appearances only appear because one accumulated karma in one’s previous life. holding one’s mind one-pointedly on one’s breathing. I have an eye sickness. then one will be able to practice meditation to attain perfect and pure insight. In the same manner. then one will be able to directly see the true nature of all phenomena. Beginners can abide in meditative absorption. real fast. One simply watches one’s breath and sees that one is inhaling and exhaling. I need to wear glasses. If one sees that all appearances are just as delusive as a reflection in a mirror. When a Lama teaches that nothing has an own nature and doesn’t truly exist. they see everything. If someone has jaundice.” We should all make wishing prayers that we become a noble human being real. When one’s karma is exhausted. 5) Right concentration There is the stage in the eightfold path called “right concentration. but everyone gets mad if someone makes faces at them.dharmadownload.. If one practices tranquility meditation. then it is possible to engage in further mindfulness practices.. then one may have many thoughts when one goes to bed and then cannot fall asleep. which is a result of my karma. because they subsist on meditative absorption as their nourishment. meditative concentration. because they know it’s only an appearance and not real. it’s possible to abide in a state of undistracted concentration or deep holding for longer and longer periods of time. one can watch one’s breath and then one will fall asleep easily. It is said that very advanced practitioners can abide in meditative concentration for many days without having to eat. Question: Outer appearances are a reflection of one’s own mind. Nobody is upset when they make faces at themselves while looking in a mirror. If one tells someone who has jaundice that the snow is not yellow. Outer appearances will appear blurred for me and I will need glasses in order to see things clearly as long as my karma lasts. bsam-grtän in Tibetan. one can believe him. Merely saying that outer appearances are only mind is a rather vague proposition. Generally speaking. meditative stabilization. How can that be? Khenpo: Generally. http://www. and things will continue appearing until one’s karma is exhausted. then one reaches a state of mental absorption. one will be able to see the true nature of phenomena.” ting-nge-‘dzin in Tibetan. For example. We explain this to Tibetans by using the example of jaundice. but one needn’t apply complex techniques. when one’s karma that causes one to see appearances delusively is exhausted. it is taught that one attains a human birth due to karma. therefore it’s good to practice tranquility meditation. If one works all day and has many thoughts. In that case. meditative absorption. There are stories of people who practiced tranquility so efficiently that they didn’t notice that a snake had jumped onto their lap. they believe it. but they can’t see that the snow is white until they have been healed. Why? Because they know that the reflection in the mirror is not whereas they think someone else is. such as “mental focus. One does get a headache from thinking too much. One sits down and focused one’s attention on one’s ingoing and outgoing breath – it’s a good method to relax one’s mind. It’s sufficient for a beginner to practice two or three minutes. 6/3/2009 . even the snowcapped mountains. when the twelve links are explained. everybody thinks a lot . so outer appearances also appear due to one’s karma. And so.

http://www. It’s easy for lay practitioners to earn their living decently. for instance. means “right active aim. 6) Right livelihood Right livelihood refers to one’s lifestyle. then I never hear them speak a word that harms anyone .org/pages/english/Natsok/0014_Leksheyling_teaching/lekshe. It’s very important to practice right speech. Nobody speaks non-stop.. Vanquishing one’s kleshas means fully uprooting the cause of suffering so that it doesn’t arise again. but when one talks and doesn’t benefit others. The Perspective: Practicing the noble eightfold path is a very efficient method and excellent remedy to relinquish one’s mind poisons. rather earning one’s living honestly. We should aspire to accomplish the truth of cessation and integrate it in our lives as fast as possible. and drän-pa means “remembering. Right livelihood is not stealing the clothes one wears and the food one eats. I don’t know if it’s always true. because one has to sustain one’s body. The Tibetan term for “right mindfulness” is drän-pa-yang-dag. but monks and nuns depend on donations. and such behaviour is certainly wrong livelihood. When I listen to people like His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche or Thrangu Rinpoche talk. the Tibetan term that is translated as “right action. then at least one should be careful that one doesn’t say anything that hurts anyone.dharmadownload. 7) Right speech Right speech means to only say that which benefits others. In order to get more donations. Diligently engaging in the practices of the truth of the path is the method to counteract one’s mind poisons. there is the danger that they lie by telling people that they are a Rinpoche or Tulku.. Right actions based on the right view do render beneficial results.” Right concentration on the other hand means adhering to undistracted evenness with one-pointed concentration. and so forth. The basis for right action is the right view. There are specific methods to relinquish specific mind poisons. meditating ugliness eliminates one’s craving and greed. not forgetting objects of introspection. one continuously accumulates karma. 8) Right action Actually. meditating loving kindness and compassion relinquishes one’s hatred. Right livelihood is an ongoing process. Wrong livelihood refers to pirates and bandits who take what is not given and therefore hurt others.” läs-kyi-mtha’ in Tibetan. and therefore it is important to always apply right livelihood. 6/3/2009 . in fact. Many children engage in useless speech and as a result accumulate negative karma. but I have noticed this on my trips.” As it is. This is called “cessation” and is. for example. so right action means right behaviour. It means that one nourishes one’s body by eating and drinking what enables one to survive well and not get sick. liberation.they only say things that benefit others.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 32 of 35 Right concentration is different than mindfulness. Westerners teach their children to speak well.

Practicing the noble eightfold path is natural if one has the right view.. then one will have the right view and will be able to practice the noble eightfold path correctly. One should always hope to relinquish ma-rig-pa when one arranges offerings on one’s shrine and one should make wishing prayers that one vanquishes not knowing fully. 6/3/2009 . they all serve to eliminate the root of samsara. If you want to know the details. and if you reflect the twelve links of dependent arising. One’s entire practice is meant to cut the root of suffering and pain. and therefore birth. One can imagine that this process covers three lifetimes. When one gains certainty in the process of creation and cessation. In short. For birth and death depend upon each other. very sacred. The accumulation of karma occurs due to the kleshas. one can hope to enter the Pure Realm of Devachen when one dies. Ageing and death occur due to having been born. to directly see Buddha Amitabha there. then one has the right view. point to one’s next life. This means to say that consciousness (link 3) until becoming (link 10) belong to this life.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 33 of 35 Conclusion This was a short presentation of the twelve links of dependent arising and the Four Noble Truths. and to be able to practice the Dharma with ease then. or accumulates merit and wisdom. No matter what activities one carries out – whether one commits oneself to a specific discipline.” ma-rig-pa. They are called “the heart of Lord Buddha’s teachings. Based upon feelings. or takes part in group meditations –. samsara there are no other means. Again. then thirst. Even if one can’t understand these teachings perfectly in this life. Lord Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma three times for the benefit of all living beings and presented a vast amount of different teachings. let us pray the Devachen Prayer together after having dedicated the merit. Question: I have a question about the path. Ageing and death. one will realize the Four Noble Truths.whether the twelve links of dependent arising or the Four Noble Truths – all teachings state that the root of delusiveness is “not knowing. It would be a very good practice if you continue engaging in tranquility meditation by focusing your attention on your ingoing and outgoing breath.” Why? If one meditates them well.. One has feelings when one grows old and dies. which bring on karma and kleshas. and birth occurs due to karma. whatever one studies . which is ignorance. one imagines that the links from consciousness (link 3) up to and including becoming (link 10) belong to this life. With this wish in our heart. As a result. The right view is truly the fundament and ground one walks on while aspiring to achieve liberation from the painful rounds of cyclic existence. Birth as well as ageing and death (links 11 and 12) point to one’s next life. and becoming evolve. then you can read the great commentaries and study these topics more thoroughly. This process is arranged in a circle so that one better understands that existence is based on karma that one accumulates due to the kleshas. http://www. which are the causes one creates to be born again in a next life. they are the cause that in this life one has consciousness up to and including feelings. Are the twelve links arranged like that on purpose? Translator: Are you asking whether they are static? Student: Is there a reason for being arranged in that order? Khenpo: The twelve links are arranged sequentially and according to cause and effect. The teachings on the twelve links of dependent arising are central to all teachings and are very. One imagines that ignorance and karmic creation led to one’s present birth. if you hold your mind in meditative concentration. grasping.dharmadownload. so that you understand how the one arises from and leads to the other.

and then Lead every being without exception to that very state! May precious and supreme Bodhicitta that has not been generated now be “thank you very much” . because they all spin and turn.dharmadownload. Is there a reason why ignorance and karmic creation are situated next to the realm of human beings in the illustration of the Wheel of Existence? Khenpo: No. And may precious Bodhicitta that has already been never decline.. and death. http://www. Dankeschön. just like life. may I and all living beings without exception swiftly establish the levels and grounds of Buddhahood. Dedication Through this goodness. By this virtue may I quickly attain the state of Guru Buddha. There is no static connection between the circle of the twelve links and the five realms of existence.. but continuously increase! May the life of the Glorious Lama remain steadfast and firm. May beings be liberated from the ocean of samsara That is troubled by waves of birth. Having accumulated merit and purified negativities. May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless (in number) as space (is vast in its extent).The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 34 of 35 Student: I have another question. 6/3/2009 .thugs-rje-che. may omniscience be attained And thereby may every enemy (mental defilement) be overcome. old age. sickness.

Nepal. Translated into English in reliance on the German rendering kindly and efficiently offered by Achim Bayer by Gaby Hollmann. Copyright Karma Lekshey Ling Institute in Kathmandu. as well as Theksum Tashi Chöling. 2008..dharmadownload. 6/3/2009 .org/pages/english/Natsok/0014_Leksheyling_teaching/lekshe. Photo of Jobo Buddha in the Jokhang in Lhasa taken in 1986 by gh. responsible and apologizing for all mistakes.The Wheel of Conditioned Existence Page 35 of 35 May virtue increase! Presented at Theksum Tashi Chöling in Hamburg in 2007. © Karma Lekshey Ling Institute 1990 http://www..

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful