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The teaching of dependent origination in Buddhism is said to be the core of all that Gautama, the one called Buddha, taught.  It is said to be one of the most deep and profound teachings of Buddhism, right next to the “Four Noble Truths.”

Where does suffering, or “dukkha” as it is called in the Pali language, come from?  How can we transcend it and be liberated from it?

These were the burning questions of the Buddha.

He found a cycle that began with ignorance and led to suffering.  This is the cycle of dependent origination.

dependent origination

The circle of dependent origination is overseen by this giant symbolizing many things such as the power of sensual desire & the reality of night and day ticking away against us. In Jesus, his teeth are broken and he’s lost his grip.

It is helpful to understand that the “suffering” he was speaking of does not simply have to do with physical pain, but also more expansively a general state of “dis-ease,” a feeling that something is not right.

The analogy is sometimes given of a bent wheel.  Something is “off.”

It is also helpful to note that many within Buddhism do not understand this cycle as happening over three lifetimes as some teach (rebirth) but many see it as what happens over and over again within the course of one life.  

That is the view I am taking as well.

Jesus Liberates

I will take what I know of the revelation of Christ Jesus who “fills all in all” and is by very nature, the truth, and place Him in the cycle of dependent origination as the answer to the questions raised by the seeker, Gautauma Buddha.  My thinking will be most familiar with those who are most familiar with Buddhist teaching.  My thoughts are for the Buddhist seeker.

My question is

“how is Jesus ‘Good News’ to the one who understands the teachings of dependent origination?”

Key Definitions

First a few key Buddhist terms and my definitions:

Dukkha– translated suffering, but more fully understood to be “disatisfaction” or “the world is not as it should be.”

Annica: Impermanance, nothing ever stays the same in this world.  Understanding this helps one not to cling to temporary things.

Anatta: Translated “No Self” but I take it to mean that they “self” you think you are, the one based on the temporary, is no self at all.

Jesus: Good News for the Buddhist

Jesus is

  • Self existent,
  • Creator,
  • Truth,
  • Permanent,
  • Non Transitory,
  • Stable,
  • The Only Unchanging One,
  • Fully Knowledgeable,
  • All Powerful,
  • The Path Out of Suffering,
  • The Life That Brings Enlightenment

The 12 Links in the Cycle of “Dependent Origination”,

starting at the beginning.

Ignorance:

Suffering or dis-ease starts with ignorance.  We are ignorant of the unchanging, non transitory, stable One, our Creator- Jesus.

Mental Formation:

We develop patterns and habits apart from Him that condition our present consciousness.  These patterns arise solely from what is temporary.

Consciousness:

We use our “filtering mechanisms” to select a certain state of mind that affects our body.

Senses:

Our consciousness affects our physical desires and gives way to preferences.  We make our preferences only by what we see, feel, taste, touch, and hear.

Desire:

We either want something we can’t have. The desire causes dissatisfaction.

Aversion:

We work to avoid something we deem unpleasant.  The avoidance causes “dis”-ease.

Craving:

This leads to us craving something, whether it be pleasure in the temporal or moving away from any and all pain and discomfort.  We “want” and this desire for something temporary takes us down the road to dissatisfaction.

Clinging:

We begin to own “it”, whatever “it” may be. We began to be in service of the temporary thing and it begins to own us.

Becoming:

An identity begins to arise based on the temporary thing that we are clinging to.  Our identity, “I am”, is based in something temporary.

Suffering-

We attach ourselves to this temporary and false identity and it leads us down the path of suffering or more specifically “disatisfaction.”

Confusion & Bewilderment or Search

Our feeling that something is off, something is not right either leads us to confusion and bewilderment in life or search.  Search leads us to…

Ignorance or Enlightenment

We will continue to persist in ignorance and thereby continue to repeat the patterns above, looking for something stable and unchanging by grasping at what is temporary.

Or we will find englightenment leading to liberation from the cycle.

We must find true enlightenment before death comes.

The Apostle Paul prayed, “that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened that you would know the hope of your calling.” Ephesians 1:8

Though Christ, we are “Vija” or awakened.

Our calling is to live free from the transitory and temporary and to be free from the law of sin and death that keeps us in the cycle of ignorance.  Christ gives us power in this life and ultimate freedom apart from suffering in the life to come.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Rom 8:2

It is Jesus who has the power to break the cycle of dependent origination because he is truth and he ultimately never changes.  by clinging to Him and receiving his finished work on our behalf, we can ultimately be free from the “dis”-ease that we feel because of our former ignorance and, our grasping for and identity in, temporary things.

One day soon the world will return to the place where no one will be ignorant of God and suffering on earth will cease.

Jesus is the unchanging & ultimate hope of the Buddhist.

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