The Twelve Links of Causation are a sequence of twelve causes or conditions of rebirth and suffering. Ignorance is the first link and each of the subsequent links is dependent on the preceding one in the sequence. The Buddha set forth extensively this in the Lotus Sutra.
Ignorance leads to volitional action tainted by greed, hatred and delusion.
2. Volitional Action
Volitional action leads to consciousness linking the past with the present.
Consciousness leads to name and form. Other than being used to represent the mental and the physical objects, the name and form are not the true nature of the universe.
4. Name and form
Name and form leads to six senses. The desire for knowing worldly phenomena results in the formation of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.
5. Six senses
Six senses leads to contact. The senses are used to contact with the external world and collect the information about it. That is why the six senses are called the entrances of karma.
Contact leads to feeling. The contact with lights, sounds, odors, tastes, tactile and mental objects gives rise to seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.
Feeling leads to craving. Experiences of painful and joyful sensations leads to the pursuit of material and sensual satisfaction and avoidance of hardship.
Craving leads to clinging. Craving wealth, fame and sensual pleasures causes one to cling to the notion of self.
Clinging leads to becoming. Karma created due to craving and clinging is added to those created by volitional action in the past. They then become the conditions for the cycle of birth and death.
Becoming leads to birth. The conditions or the causes of life leads to the formation of the five aggregates in due time.
Birth leads to old age and death, worry, lamentation, suffering and vexation.
12. Old Age and Death
The reverse process of the Twelve Links can lead to the cessation of rebirth and suffering. In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha said:
When ignorance is eradicated, volitional action is then eradicated.
When volitional action is eradicated, consciousness is then eradicated.
When consciousness is eradicated, name and form are then eradicated.
When name and form are eradicated, six senses are then eradicated.
When six senses are eradicated, contact is then eradicated.
When contact is eradicated, feeling is then eradicated.
When feeling is eradicated, craving is then eradicated.
When craving is eradicated, clinging is then eradicated.
When clinging is eradicated, becoming is then eradicated.
When becoming is eradicated, birth is then eradicated.
When birth is eradicated, old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering and distress are then eradicated.