Paticcasamuppada or the Dependent Origination.
Posted on May 17th, 2012

By Charles.S.Perera

The teachings of the Buddha is deep and profound , but it becomes complicated and complex the way it is being explainesd..

The profound most teaching of the Buddha is in the Abhidhamma, but the Buddha left it out from the ordinary beings the prtajjhana as the profundity of that Dhamma would have confused them.

If Paticcasamuppada is seen as a Dhamm that encompass the whole of the teachings of the Buddha then the meaning of it would be more comprehensible. Therefore without any pretention to be a specialist of the teaching or having a perfect understand of the teaching I explain what I have understood of the Paticcasamuppada with the intention of knowing it better from others.

Paticcasamuppada the teaching of dependent arising has 12 steps. Of this the first is Avijja (Ignorance) which has nothing to do with knowledge, education or learning. It is simply the ignorance of the reality of phenomena. The misconceptions such as, that every thing is permanent, every thing gives pleasure and satisfaction and that there is a self that indulges in worldly pleasures.

A being existing with these wrong conceptions carry on activities that have future Kammic resultsa (kammavipaka) which are therefore the Sankhara( mental formations) the second step of the Paticcasamuppada, arising through avijja (ignorance).

The primary consequence of Kamma is the life or rebirth resulting through the accumulated Kamma. The rebirth results in producing vinnana (consciousness) in the beginning of the life, which is the third step of the Paticcasamuppada.

Vinnana (consciousness) arises with the mental factors such as passa (contact) vedana(feeling) sanna (perception)cetana( volition) and formations (sankhara) along with a material body (foetus). Hence mind and form(nama-rupa) which is the forth step of Paticcasamuppda.

Along with the mind -form (nama-rupa) comes the eyes, ears, tongue, nose, body and mind- the six sense faculties (salayatana), which is the fifthe step of Paticcasamuppada. These senses are the faculties that sense the outside world by coming in contact(pasaa) with objects. Passa (contact) is the sixth step of the Patciccasamuppada.

The most important experience we have from the sense faculties (slayatana ) coming in contact (passa) with the objects is the feeling (vedana). These feelings(vedana) are varied according to the object that come in contact with the six different sense faculties. Feelings (vedana )is the seventh step of the Paticcasamuppada. Feelings (vedana) are either pleasant and create desire to have more of it or unpleasant and create desire to get rid of them. This desire (tanha) to have more of pleasant feelings (vedana) or get rid of them is the eighth step of the Patticcasamuppada

Then through desire arises the intense desire to possess and enjoy what is pleasant, this utmost desire to enjoy more of what is pleasant is upadana( craving) which is the ninth step of Paticcasamuppada.

This craving (upadana) makes us slaves to objects of desire for which we have a craving (upadana) and prepares life in ways to get what is craved for, and thereby make kamma to satisfy the way we have prepared our lives to enjoy or possess that which we crave(upadana). That way of life we adopt to satisfy our craving (upadana) is the bhava (existence) which is the tenth step of Paticcasamuppada..

In existing the way we have chosen to live, we make life producing kamma which is the re-birth (jati). Rebirth or Jathi is the eleventh step of the Paticchasamuppada. In rebirth we experience old age, death and suffering that comes with the rebirth.

This suffering through old age(jara),death (marana) and all the suffering coming along with that is the twelfth step of the Paticca samuppada. Each step of the Paticcasamuppada follows the previous and that is the sequential conditions with its following results that make up the Paticcasamuppada or dependant origination.

In this twelve steps the last two jati( rebirth) and jara (old age and illness) marana (death) and soka parideva( grief and lamentation which is suffering in the larger context make up the Samsara.

Birth is the necessary condition to experience suffering . If there were to be no birth there would be no suffering . Hence each step conditions the following until we come to suffering . The dependent origination (paticcasamuppada) shows us that the last step ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-suffering ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- is the result of the beginning condition of avijja (ignorance)

Hence we see why the Buddha explained this teaching of dependent origination (paticcasamuppada). It explains the four noble truths beginning with Suffering., the cause of suffering and how suffering arises.

Knowing the paticcasamuppada makes us understand the causes of suffering and find the means to reduce this suffering. As suffering begins with avijja (ignorance) there is a way to eliminate avijja. As birth is the cause of suffering the way to eliminate suffering is to end future rebirth.

The re-birth and suffering the last two steps of paticcasamuppada taken together is the Samsara the cycle of births and deaths. Samsara is not the world but how we as human beings experience the world. The Samsara is our views of life and how we live through it. Nevertheless each one of us goes through life in his own way but yet goes through the endless cycle of births and deaths .

Hence Paticcasamuppada shows us both the suffering and also shows at what is Samsara.

In order to find a way to end suffering, we have to go to the beginning of the Paticcasamupada, to Avijja (ignorance). When we understand the true nature of Avijja (ignorance) we can eliminate aviija the first step of Paticcasamuppada.

As each step is causally dependent on the other it follows rthat elimination of the first eliminates the second and so on until we end the twelfth step of suffering. Similarly even if we do not eliminate avijja , if we could weaken it then the subsequent steps too get weakend and less of suffering would be the end result.

In order to eliminate avijja we will have to understand what it is. When we know that it is a distorted outlook of life, unable to see things as they are, then we will know that it is the result of the delusion of not understanding the reality of Anicca (impermanence) dukkha ( suffering) and anatta (no-self) Hence avijja (ignorance) being the root of the cycle described in Paticcasamuppada, it is the beginning of all suffering ?

But avijja is a delusion of realities of life , a distorted view of reality. What contributes to this delusion ?

What contributes to this delusion are the five nivarana (hindrances) ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”thinamiddha (lethargy), kamachchandha( desire for sence objects), vyapada( ill-will) uddacca kukkucca( restlessness and worry) and vicikiccha (doubt)

Sronger the hindrances stronger is the delusion. The hindrances such as anger and desire themselves distort how we look at things.

In order to weaken the hindrances, which would in turn weaken the avijja and following steps of the Paticcasamuppada we will have to reduce the hindrances which are also the defilements(kilesa) of the mind. How can we do that ? It is by following the noble eightfold path.

This is how the Paticcasamuppada is seen as an all encompassing teaching of the Buddha.


6 Responses to “Paticcasamuppada or the Dependent Origination.”

  1. herman Says:

    Good attempt Charles.

  2. AnuD Says:

    When, Lord Buddha’s cousin, Venerable Ananda had said that Eight fold path was a easy thing to understand Buddha had asked, twice, not to say that Ananda and eight fold path is complicated.

  3. Dham Says:

    Be careful when quoting anything related to Dhamma on a public forum because you may be inadvertently misleading others.
    Venerable Ananda was refering to “patichcha Samuppada” not “Eight fold path”. You are right he said “don’t say so Ananda, don’t say so”.
    But to Chandrasoma , it seems to be as simple as 1+2=2+1 =3. (Deleted by Moderator- Mind your Language)

  4. Dham Says:

    Upadana is not “craving” but “clinging”. Clinging is sort of handing onto it very hardly. Not letting go.
    Thanha is “craving”. It means wanting more and more. Like when you eat something you like very much.
    It is easy to see the energy in it when you are really awake.
    This is profound Dhamma, I feel we are not good enough to eplain to others.

  5. Dham Says:

    “FOOL” is not a bad word. What is wrong with you ?
    People use much worse words than that and not deleted.

  6. Dham Says:

    Dhammapada verse 72. ( bala vagga)
    To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness.

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