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The order in which afflictions arise

29 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Two different schemes of order in which afflictions arise
  • Ignorance and view of a personal identity are regarded as same or different
  • Ignorance, doubt, followed by different views and afflictions
  • Ignorance, afflictions, followed by various views and doubt
  • Explanation by Tsongkhapa
  • Nature of afflictions and mind
  • Six principal factors causing afflictions to arise
  • Seeds of afflictions, contact with certain objects and detrimental influences

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 29: The Order In Which Afflictions Arise (download)

Contemplation points

Tsongkhapa expands on this (LC 1:300):

When the view of a personal identity [which is ignorance] apprehends the self, discrimination arises between self and other.

Once you have made that distinction, you become attached to what is associated with yourself and hostile toward that which pertains to others.

As you observe the self, your mind becomes inflated [with arrogance].

You develop a belief that this very self is either eternal or subject to annihilation [view of extremes].

You come to believe in the supremacy of a view of the self and the like [view holding wrong views as supreme], and you also come to believe in the supremacy of the detrimental practices associated with such views [view of rules and practices]. Similarly, you develop the wrong view that denies the existence of things such as the Teacher [Buddha], who taught selflessness and that which he taught—karma and its effects, the truths of the āryas, the Three Jewels, and so forth; or else you become doubtful as to whether such things exist or are real.

  1. How are fear, worry, and anxiety linked to attachment?
  2. How is our wish for security and predictability at odds with reality? What are ways that you personally try to acquire security and predictability? What problems has this caused? How does refuge provide us with something to rely on?
  3. This quote has a lot of points worth meditating upon. Think creatively, and from your own experience, how these link together. Do you see wrong views or rules and practice practices that direct your life?
  4. His Holiness writes: “It is interesting to note that the Vaibhāṣika version of Vasubandhu places doubt and the various afflictive views before the disturbing emotions of attachment, anger, and arrogance, whereas in Dharmakīrti’s version the disturbing emotions arise before the afflictive views and doubt.” (P106) What do you think are the reasons for these two authors to have these differences in approach?
  5. Consider the first three of the six factors that facilitate the arising of afflictions (seeds of afflictions, contact with certain objects, and detrimental influences). Meditate on them and make specific examples of each of them from your personal experience. How do these conditions affect you in daily life?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.