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Twelve interdependent links

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Twelve interdependent links

(skt.: pratitya samtrtpada; tib.: ten drel yan lag chu nyi) Twelve-linked chain of dependent origination. The twelve steps in the evolution of cyclic existence which is Shakyamuni Buddha\'s explanation of how delusion and karma bind sentient beings to samsara, causing them to be reborn into suffering again and again.

The twelve links are:
1. (skt.: avidya; tib.: ma rig pa) Ignorance. We are ignorant how to apprehend the selflessness with our wisdom. We believe in a real existing Self.
2. (skt.: samskara; tib.: du je) Karmic formations. Ignorance leads to distrubing emotions, which results in actions. These actions leave karmic imprints on our consciousness.
3. (skt.: vijnana; tib.: nam she) Consciousness. On consciousness karmic imprints will remain.
4. (skt.: nama rupa; tib.: ming dang sug) Name and form. Name refers to the four aggregates (skandhas) of feeling, discrimination, other factors and consciousness. Form is the blood and sperm in their first stage of development into which the consciousness has been placed.
5. (skt.: shad ayatana; tib.: kye che) Six senses. As the form (body) develops, six senses of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind also form.
6. (skt.: sparsha; tib.: reg pa) Contact. Six sense organs cause contact.
7. (skt.: vedana, tib.: tshor wa) Sensation. After the contact with an object, we can have pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensation.
8. (skt.: trishna, tib.: se pa) Attachment. According to sensation we develop attachment (desire) or aversion.
. (skt.: upadana, tib.: len pa) Craving. Because of attachment we try to get the objects we desire or try to avoid them. This leads to further imprints on consciousness.
10. (skt.: bhava, tib.: si pa) Becoming. Imprints on consciousness are causes for next rebirth.
11. (skt.: jati, tib.: kye wa) Birth. According to the imprints of past karma we take birth.
12. (skt.: jara marana, tib.: ga shi) Aging and death. After being born we are getting older and older and finally we die.
 
There are two ways we can see the twelve links of dependent arising:
1. From the first viewpoint, ignorance gives rise to karmic seeds, karmic seeds causes consciousness, etc.; finally, birth causes aging and death. Thus one is caught in the cycle of delusion and suffering.
2. On the other hand, if ignorance is wiped out, so is karma; if karma is wiped out, so is consciousness, etc.; finally, if birth is wiped out, so are aging and suffering. In short, if one eliminates ignorance, which is the source of suffering, one becomes free from the cycle of delusion and suffering, or attains nirvana.
 
Twelve links of dependent arising can be divided in three types of links
- the delusion links
- the links of suffering
- the karma links
 
As Arya Nagarjuna said:
The first, eigth and ninth are delusion;
The second and the tenth are karma;
The remaining seven are suffering.

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"To be aware of a single shortcoming in oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in someone else."
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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