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These collected oral teachings by Gelek Rimpoche and guests on various dharma topics are easily downloadable for a minimal fee.

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination
The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination

21 of lessons in high quality MP3

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination
The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 1

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 1

Lesson Number 1 of 21

Rimpoche introduces the theme of karma with reference to the Buddhist Wheel of Existence. This striking image, traditionally placed above the entranceways to temples and monasteries, depicts Yama, the god of death, grasping in his fangs and claws a large wheel made up of concentric circles and segments representing various states of being and experience. Within this wheel, also known as samsara, we pass repeatedly from birth to death, and from death to birth, driven by the base delusions of ignorance, attachment and hatred. The common experience of all our rebirths is suffering. The "mechanism" that determines our past, present and future states is outlined in the teaching of the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination. This same mechanism also includes the possibility escaping from samsara. (19:29)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 2

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 2

Lesson Number 2 of 21

The first of the 12 links is "ignorance." This takes two forms: the ignorance of not knowing and the ignorance of wrongly knowing. Not knowing is an inability to grasp how the karmic system functions and thereby determine which actions produce positive results and which negative. The ignorance of wrongly knowing is a profoundly confused state of mind that does not recognize the true nature of reality. Both forms of ignorance feed the delusions that keep us circling endlessly through the samsaric realms. The spiritual challenge is to clear away the delusions and confusion to reveal the reality of Buddha nature deep inside us. (20:03)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 3

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 3

Lesson Number 3 of 21

Rimpoche addresses questions about the meaning of "life after life" in relation to samsara and the characteristics of Buddha nature. (8:16)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 4

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 4

Lesson Number 4 of 21

Within the karmic system, every existence is in dependent relationship with other existences. No matter how deeply or subtly you analyze things, you cannot find a state of existence that is independent of other states. Even designations such as "east" or "west" are mutually dependent: there can be no "east" without a "west" and vice versa. Similarly, just as a result depends upon a cause, so a cause depends upon a result. Because of impermanence, causes and results are not fixed or static but always in a state of change. (14:52)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 5

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 5

Lesson Number 5 of 21

As we live our lives, so much is unknown to us. Why this happens or that happens is a mystery. We ascribe this condition to ignorance or confusion. The Tibetan word ma-rigpa provides a more precise definition. "Rigpa" means clarity. "Ma," a negative, denotes the opposite of clarity — a state of "unseeing." This is why the first of the 12 links is represented by a blind person. Ma-rigpa or unseeing creates our confusion as to who we are. When we look inside ourselves, we see a jumbled lump of the physical and mental that we call "I." This "I" is extremely sensitive. It seeks comforts to which it becomes attached, identifying them as "my" and "mine." (19:26)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 6

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 6

Lesson Number 6 of 21

The second link of dependent origination is "action" or "karma." Positive karma leads to rebirth in the samsaric realms of humans, samsaric gods and demigods. These are the higher realms of lesser suffering. Negative karma leads to the realms of animals, hungry ghosts and the hot and cold hells. These are the lower realms of greater suffering. Through successive rebirths, we experience all of the samsaric realms over and over again. Even though we might achieve high meditative states of mental quiescence, eventually we will fall back into lower realms. Like strong glue, the root delusions of ignorance, attachment and hatred hold us fast within samsara. Without spiritual guidance and practice, we cannot escape this endless cycle of karmic rebirths. (16:44)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 7

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 7

Lesson Number 7 of 21

Suffering is much worse for animals than for us in our human realm. We might like to think our cat or dog is intelligent, but animals face tremendous problems from a lack of mental clarity or ignorance. They also have great fear of being eaten by a predator. Hungry ghosts in their realm suffer from the frustration of an insatiable appetite that cannot be satisfied. We have been through all the samsaric realms countless times. Rimpoche concludes this segment with a description of the levels of meditative concentration. (24:58)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 8

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 8

Lesson Number 8 of 21

Intensive meditation with powerful concentration can lead to rebirth in the formless realm, a high level of space-like awareness. In many ways this is a very comfortable state of being. But eventually the concentration power becomes exhausted, leading to a fall into the lower levels. The whole rebirth process starts over again. Just to be a good person is not enough to escape this endless cycle of karmic rebirth. Confusion is the problem, particularly the confusion of "wrong knowing." Understanding this is the beginning of the path to true freedom. (19:49)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 9

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 9

Lesson Number 9 of 21

Karma determines the whole of our life, past, present and future. In Buddhist terms, the future means not just tomorrow, next week or next year, but the next moment, the very next breath we take. That's the immediacy of karma in our lives. Karma is definite and fast growing. But we experience karmic results only from actions we have created. If we do not create the action there is no karmic result for us. Again, spiritual work is to understand how karma functions so we can cut the samsaric cycle and gain our freedom from automatic rebirth. (18:34)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 10

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 10

Lesson Number 10 of 21

The actions we create leave imprints on our consciousness. We can remove negative imprints by purification; they are not permanent. The Buddhist path has many ways and means of purifying negativity. We create negative karma all the time. We can't help it. Even Buddha before he became enlightened created a tremendous amount of bad karma. Karma is definite, but with good motivation it can be purified and removed. (13:30)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 11

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 11

Lesson Number 11 of 21

Consciousness has two parts: causal consciousness and result consciousness. Causal consciousness is the base on which the karmic imprints of our actions are deposited. These imprints or seeds remain in the causal consciousness until the conditions are right for a particular karmic imprint to produce its result. Result consciousness is where this happens. The transition from causal to result consciousness depends upon specific conditions. For unenlightened beings it is extremely difficult to predict when the conditions will be right. It could take one lifetime or a million lifetimes. However, spiritual activities such as purification can prevent negative karmas from producing their results. In this segment, Rimpoche also addresses several questions. The audio doesn't pick up the questions too well, but Rimpoche's responses should provide the necessary context. (22:22)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 12

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 12

Lesson Number 12 of 21

Rimpoche addresses questions about karma and dreams; spirit possession; collective involvement and interaction with others; consequences of hurting someone while protecting one's life; purification; and the extent of one's responsibility for actions. (16:43)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 13

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 13

Lesson Number 13 of 21

Rebirth takes place during the intermediate bardo period following death. The impact of positive or negative karma is also experienced in the bardo. Positive karma results in a comfortable, light-natured bardo; negative karma results in a bardo that is dark, suffocating and painful. In the bardo we do not look like our former selves but have the aspect of our future life. If we're destined for a human rebirth, we will remain in the bardo until we see our future parents in sexual union. From this encounter arises attraction — toward the mother if we're destined to be born as a boy, toward the father if a girl. Our bardo consciousness becomes linked with the sexual fluids of our parents, and after a certain period in the womb we take human form. (13:04)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 14

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 14

Lesson Number 14 of 21

During a question session, Rimpoche discusses the nature of the attraction felt by a bardo being toward future parents; the karmic situation regarding twins; how, when taking birth, our parents' form or genetic makeup interacts with our karma from previous lives; whether we are attracted by our future parents' karma when taking rebirth; the karmic issues relating to birth from artificial insemination; whether prayers and good wishes can help the developing fetus; and the karmic consequences abortion. (30:08)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 15

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 15

Lesson Number 15 of 21

With the link "Name and Form," form represents the physical part, name the mental aspect. Specifically, name refers to certain mental faculties: feeling, recognition, action and consciousness. The consciousness mental faculty enables the principal mind to focus. Like a magnet, it pulls the attention of the principal mind consciousness in a desired direction, enabling thinking and understanding. (12:52)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 16

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 16

Lesson Number 16 of 21

The consciousness that continues from life to life is extremely subtle. It begins at birth in this subtle state and develops as we grow older with all our life experiences and learning into the person we are to become — the "me." As we near death, our mental capacity diminishes until finally it is in the extremely subtle state again, ready for the passage from this life to the next. (15:11)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 17

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 17

Lesson Number 17 of 21

During a question session, Rimpoche discusses whether a developing new consciousness can activate the consciousness of a previous life; if feeling can take place before the mind develops; whether enlightenment is naturally born from karmic seeds; how one distinguishes between the physical body and the mind; the role of impermanence in the apparent continuity of the "me"; whether the karmic system itself evolves and changes over time; the possibility of memories being carried from one lifetime to another; and whether hypnosis can reveal previous lives. (26:26)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 18

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 18

Lesson Number 18 of 21

Continuing with questions, Rimpoche examines the situation of a consciousness that's attracted to a nonhuman realm while in the bardo; whether mantras may protect one in the bardo; and how the mental faculty of memory may or may not function in the bardo. (16:15)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 19

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 19

Lesson Number 19 of 21

Continuing with questions, Rimpoche discusses the effectiveness of vajrayana practice in transforming death and bardo experiences; whether it is possible to help non-vajrayana practitioners at the time of death; whether there's hope for a better bardo experience if we use this life to purify and work on our negativities; the effect of accidental or violent death on the bardo experience; whether it is better to die awake or asleep; and whether there is anything we can do to help a terminally ill loved one achieve a good death. (18:54)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 20

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 20

Lesson Number 20 of 21

In aligning the 12 Links teaching with the Lamrim, Rimpoche stresses the impermanence of all of the realms within the samsaric circle, both those that contain great suffering and those where suffering may be mixed with experiences of joy or happiness. The reality common to all is that each life ends in suffering. No one departs life without experiencing the suffering of separation. The essence of Buddha's teaching is to develop the concentrative power to swim against the current of our delusions and addictions so as to escape samsara itself. (28:00)

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 21

The Twelve Links of Dependent Origination – Session 21

Lesson Number 21 of 21

Rimpoche responds to a question about the apparent futility of trying to achieve happiness for oneself or others within a samsaric system predicated on suffering. (10:58)

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