The “Chain” of Samsara
The outermost circle of the Wheel of Life, contains twelve unique images each linked to one another. These are called dvadasanga pratityasamutpada or the 12 Interdependent Factors. These Factors can be thought of as the links of a chain, each Factor is caused by the previous and leads to the next, this in essence, constitutes the reason for rebirth – Samsara.
Samsara – the Wheel of Life, might I remind you, the Buddhist perception on life or the reason behind existence. It begins at the subconscious state of Bardo, continues into birth and is completed at the moment of death, thus the literal translation : the Wheel of Life.
The 12 Interdependent Factors of The Wheel of Life:
1- Ayida – Ignorance –
A blind man : after death the spirit finds itself in a state of total unconscious, plunged into fundamental ignorance.
2 – Samskara – Karmic Impulsions –
A potter putting his wheel into action : The spirit is driven out of the state of unconscious, by the karmic grains embedded in his “reservoir of consciousness” (subconscious).
3 – Vijnana – Consciousness –
A monkey looking through a window of a house : Consciousness or more specifically the faculties that allow us perceive shapes, sounds, smells, etc., slowly take place.
4 – Namarupa – Shapes and Names –
Two men in a barque : The egocentric individual functions using : shapes, sensations, perceptions, volitions and conscious. The first (shapes) is tangible but the rest are mere mental creations, that cannot be touched nor seen, but only named. In the state of Bardo, forms are also mental creations, similar to dreams, but are perceived by individuals as having physical characteristics.
5 – Ayatana – The activation of the sensory fields –
A properous looking house : Associated with its sense organ : shapes, smells, sounds, etc., begin to appear.
6 – Sparsha – Contact –
Man and woman in union : There is contact between sense and shape. The state of Bardo, this contact is seen in a vision by the spirit of the child to be.
7 – Vedana – Sensations –
A person being shot in the eye with an arrow : Contact leads to sensations: Good, Bad or Neutral.
8 – Trishna – To Want –
A man intoxicating himself : Sensation, whether it be good or bad, creates a platform where desire for an object, is created. If the sensation in neutral then the desire is reduced to simply accepting the reality of the object.
9 – Upadana – To Seize –
A person picking fruit from a tree : Seize is the action that follows wanting. within the concept of Bardo, this action corresponds to the union with matter, or to us the sperm and the egg becoming an embryo. Consciousness is present in a Embryo.
10 – Bhava – Becoming –
A pregnant woman : “becoming” designates the preparation for a certain tyoe of existence, it can be seen as the period of gestation.
11 – Jati – Birth –
A woman giving birth.
12 – Jaramarana – Ageing and death
A man carrying a cadaver to be cremated : As soon as we are born, we begin to age and eventually this ageing will lead us to death. The spirit then falls back into ignorance and finds itself back at the first link in the chain.
What can we do to escape Samsara :
There seems to be many different concepts that we must think about, first is the idea of Bardo or the Intermediate State, then the notion of Desire, Ignorance, Hatred and Jealousy : each of these concepts is vital to the understanding of the Wheel of Life. There is only one solution to escape Samsara : Enlightement.