10. Dependent Origination | Vaibhashika


10. Dependent Origination

The Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma interpretation of the key Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Origination (pratītya-samutpāda) focuses on how the 12 links (nidāna) contribute to rebirth from the perspective of 3 periods of existence (past, present, future).

This is explained in the following way:

Past causes

1. Ignorance (avidyā), represents all the defilements in one's past life, since all defilements are conjoined with and caused by ignorance.

2. Conditionings (saṁskāra), this refers to all past karmic constructions driven by ignorance.

Present effects

3. Consciousness (vijñāna), this specifically refers to the consciousness that enters the womb at the moment of rebirth.

4. psycho-physical complex (nāma-rūpa), represents the body and mind, particularly as it develops in the womb

5. 6 sense fields (ṣaḍ-āyatana), refers to the 5 senses and the mental sense

6. contact (sparśa), refers to contact between the sense faculties and their objects

7. Sensation (vedanā), refers to different pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations

Present causes

8. Craving (tṛṣṇā), craving for sensuality, desire for material things and sex

9. Grasping (upādāna), strong clinging for the objects of craving

10. Existence (bhava), refers to all present karmas that project a future existence

Future effects

11. birth (jāti), represents the first re-linking consciousness in a future birth

12. old-age-and-death (jarā-maraṇa), represents everything that happens from future rebirth until death.

Though presented in a linear way in the form of a list, these factors are said to be mutually conditioning among each other in various interconnected ways.

Though the 3 life model, also called "prolonged" (prākarṣika), is the most widely used way of understanding dependent origination,

Sarvāstivāda Abhidharmikas also accepted 3 other ways of explaining it:

1. Momentary (kṣaṇika): the 12 links are explained as being present within a single mind moment.

2. Pertaining to states (āvasthika): This model states that the 5 aggregates are present in each of the 12 links:

Each link is so named because it is the predominant force among the aggregates at that moment, and thus the entire collection of aggregates is given the name ignorance (and so on) at that point in time.

3. Connected (ṁbandhika): Refers to how the 12 links are conjoined with the entire field of causes and effects, i.e. "all conditioned dharmas" or the whole of phenomenal existence.