The Twelve Holes of Karma

Suddenly, a realization of grandeur struck him with great force – he had been ensconced within the illustrious Tower all this time. Instead of the vast expanse of the sky, Evan was confronted with a radiant white ceiling. The sandy beach and far-off horizons were replaced by the curved white walls of the tower. His seating arrangement was no longer a weed-covered rock, but rather a sturdy stool crafted from pale steel. The circular area appeared to be vacant, with the exception of a central column that extended from the floor to the ceiling. However, the column’s surface appeared to be unsteady, as if it were in a perpetual state of gradual motion, akin to smoke. The scene had been naught but a reverie, a mirage, a grandiose illusion foolishly perceived as veritable and perpetuated by the human psyche’s yearning and lack of comprehension of the authentic essence of existence. Presently, there was now only an opulent emancipation from the constraints of time and space itself.

Evan’s old teacher had vanished and emerging from the hazy mist, a gnome-like entity materialized. Its eyes lacked pupils, instead, they were hollowed out cavities that, if gazed upon for an extended duration, would consume the observer entirely, akin to the abyssal depths of a black hole.

“Please do not be alarmed by the absence of pupils in my eyes,” stated the creature. “In fact, my visual acuity surpasses yours significantly. I possess the ability to perceive the vibrational essence of objects, which means that there is no distinction between myself and an object. I am able to sense it’s vibrational presence as if it were an extension of my own being. Furthermore, I possess the capability to perceive thought-forms that permeate the ether.

Indeed, upon a closer inspection of the center of my ocular cavities, you will be able to discern the emergence of shapes that currently depict the narrative of humanity’s sorrowful condition in the context of dependent origination.

You shall gain insight into the creation and dissolution of worlds. Countless individuals in slumber shall be observed, envisioning themselves traversing, inhabiting, perishing, and undergoing rebirth in various forms within said worlds.”

Evan was irresistibly drawn into the vast, swirling abyss of darkness nestled within the unfathomable depths of the creature’s bottomless ocular cavities. Before him lay twelve individual karmic-holes, out of which emerged the eternal mass of ignorance that plagues the multitude of sentient beings, as the creature’s mellifluous voice recounted the scene…

“As is evident, the karmic-holes depict images comprising twelve characters. One of these characters is a blind woman, symbolizing the feeling of ignorance. She navigates her surroundings with the aid of a stick, representing the spiritual blindness that often leads individuals to stumble through life. This stumbling creates a distorted perception of both oneself and the world, and directs one’s will towards unreal pursuits. Consequently, one’s character is shaped in accordance with this misguided direction of will, desire, and imagination.

The next character is the potter, representing the creative force that shapes form. Just as a potter molds clay into a desired shape, we too mold our character and destiny, or karma, through our actions, words, and thoughts. These volitional acts become the cause of new activity and constitute the actively directing principle or character of a new consciousness. A character is merely a manifestation of our will, which is shaped by repeated actions. Each action leaves a trace, forming a path that we instinctively follow when faced with similar situations. This is known as the law of action and reaction, or karma, which dictates that we tend to move in the direction of least resistance – the path that has been frequently trodden and is therefore easier to follow. This is commonly referred to as the “force of habit.”

Just as a potter shapes vessels out of formless clay, we shape our future consciousness through our actions, words, and thoughts, using the still unformed material of our life and sense impressions. This consciousness gives form and direction to our future selves. When we depart from one life and enter into another, it is the consciousness that we have formed that serves as the nucleus or germ of our new embodiment.

The third image depicts a monkey grasping a branch, symbolizing the restless nature of consciousness as it jumps from one object to another. It is important to note that consciousness cannot exist independently, as it continuously grasps sensory or imaginative objects and releases them for others. Additionally, consciousness has the ability to solidify and polarize into physical forms and mental functions. Ultimately, consciousness serves as the foundation for the combination of mind and body.

The intimate correlation between bodily and mental functions is likened to two individuals in a boat, as illustrated in the fourth image featuring a ferryman propelling a vessel with two occupants. This psychophysical organism, comprising the mind and body, is further distinguished by the formation and operation of the six senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and thought. These faculties are akin to the windows of a dwelling, through which we perceive the external world. They are depicted as a house with six windows. The sixth image symbolizes the interaction of the senses with their objects, akin to the initial encounter between lovers. The sensation arising from the contact of the senses with their objects is represented in the seventh image by a man whose eye has been pierced by an arrow.

The eighth image depicts a patron being served a drink by a female attendant. This portrayal serves as a symbol of the yearning for life or desire instigated by pleasurable sensations. The arrow piercing the eye does not signify “pleasure,” but rather the magnitude of the sensation and the potential for future painful consequences that may befall those who succumb to the allure of agreeable sensations.

The desire for existence gives rise to the act of grasping and clinging onto desired objects. This phenomenon is represented in the ninth image, where a man is depicted plucking fruit from a tree and collecting it in a basket. The act of clinging reinforces the limitations of life and initiates a new cycle of transformation, as symbolized by the sexual union of a man and woman in the tenth image.

The eleventh image depicts a woman in the process of delivering a child. The act of becoming ultimately results in a rebirth into a new existence. The twelfth image depicts a man carrying a corpse, which is wrapped in cloth according to Tibetan tradition, on his back to the cremation ground or the place where deceased bodies are disposed of. This image serves to illustrate the final link in the formula of dependent origination, which states that all that is born leads to old age and death.

The Buddha began his inquiry with a simple question: “What is it that makes old age and death possible?” The answer was that, due to being born, we experience old age and death. If there had not been a will to live and a clinging to the corresponding forms of life, this process of becoming would not have been initiated.”

Evan confidently stated, “Although I am aware of the veracity of this information, it appears to be excessively harsh, do you not agree?”

“Indeed, as they explicate, the attachment that we experience is a result of craving, an insatiable “thirst” for the objects of sensory pleasure. This craving, in turn, is conditioned by feeling, which discerns agreeable and disagreeable sensations. It is important to note that feeling can only arise through the contact of the senses with their corresponding objects. The senses are based on a psychophysical organism, and this organism can only arise if there is consciousness. However, consciousness, in our individually limited form, is conditioned by individual, egocentric activity that has occurred during countless previous forms of existence. Such activity is only possible as long as we are ensnared in the illusion of our separate ego-hood.”

Evan emphatically stated that it is all a vicious cycle.

“The twelve-fold formula of dependent origination is represented as a circle because it has no beginning or end. Each link represents the sum total of all other links and is both the precondition and outcome of all other links. All phases of this dependent origination are phenomena of the same illusion – the illusion of egohood.

Such is the reality of these twelve apertures, and henceforth, I shall proceed to seal them.”

With a mischievous glint in his eye, the impish creature sprang to his feet and, with the grace of a master artisan, expertly sealed every last hole into oblivion, leaving no trace of their existence.


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