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Explicit and implicit presentations of the 12 links

60 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.

  • Explanation of the explicit presentation with an example
  • Three lives with two sets of 12 links
  • Life A to life B, projecting causes and projected effects
  • Life B to life C, actualizing causes and actualized effects
  • Explanation of the two scenarios in the implicit presentation
  • Projecting causes and actualizing causes from Life A to life B
  • Projected effects and actualized effects in Life B
  • Life A to life C with an intermediate life B
  • Projecting causes from life A gives rise to life C during life B
  • Example for the first scenario in the implicit presentation

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 60: Explicit and Implicit Presentations of the 12 Links (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Consider the ignorance, anger, and attachment that fuels suffering in your family, community, county, and the world. Note that you have ignorance, anger, and attachment in your own mind as well. What are some of the antidotes you can apply to each of these when they arise in your own mind so that you can prevent acting in destructive ways? Resolve to use the world around you as a teaching, apply the antidotes as afflictions arise, and gradually transform your mind.
  2. When you hear the different explanations on how the 12 links operate in different lifetimes, how does it affect your attitude in this life? Do you feel a heightened responsibility for your actions now? If not, why?
  3. Give an implicit explanation of how the 12 links could have worked, are working, and will work in your previous, present life and future lives.
  4. Make one or more examples of how your actions can potentially cause the result of a specific rebirth(s), using the sets of 12 links.
  5. Create a visual for each of your examples. Meditate on these and get a feeling of how the causality of the different lives are intertwined. Note how the process of rebirth is continuous, perpetuating itself quite naturally.
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.