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Three things cannot be long
hidden: the sun, the moon,

and the truth.

 

The Buddha


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1. Ignorance (Avidya)

Avidya means lack of light or lack of understanding. In Buddhism, "ignorance" usually refers to ignorance of the Four Noble Truths, in particular that life is dukkha (unsatisfactory; stressful).

 

Ignorance also refers to ignorance of anatman, a teaching that there is no "self" in the sense of a permanent, integral, autonomous being within an individual existence. What we think of as our self, our personality and ego, are temporary creations of the skandhas.

 

The twelve links are illustrated in the outer ring of the Bhavachakra (Wheel of Life). Ignorance is depicted as a blind man or woman.

Ignorance conditions the next link in the chain, volitional action.

 

Volitional Formation (Samskara)

 

Ignorance links to samskara, which can be translated volitional action, formation, impulse, motivation, or karma formation. Out of ignorance come thoughts, words and actions that sew the seeds of karma. Samskara are the impulses that come before action, and action creates karma.

 

In the outer ring of the Bhavachakra (Wheel of Life), samskara usually is illustrated as potters making pots. Volitional formation conditions the next link, consciousness.