Dependent co-arising 1-4?

DO is hard to understand. However, we can make up an example so we can see it easier. If I have time, I will make up one.

Sure. The simile in the sutta I posted is an excellent example.

This website is useful:

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I’m not sure what you mean by stick with that being. However, AN3.61 says name and form is the embryo. The sutta that replaces name and form with ‘being’ (bhuta) is somewhere in SN12, the Nidana Samyutta.


It’s first and foremost about dependency (hence the name dependent arising), which is something different than causality. “If this, then that” means without ‘this’ you can’t have ‘that’, which is not the same as ‘this’ causes ‘that’.

Without name and form you can’t have the six senses does not mean name and form causes the six senses.

This I agree with.


I think you got some ideas since you mention about the pools. As promised, here is my example.

Notes: I do not claim that this is it or I have fully uncovered DO. However, because I am not satisfied with any current explanations, I started my own. I did this a couple of times, found problems then fixed them, and here is my current understanding. It may not be perfect, but that’s what I have. I will need to continue perfecting it. If you have better explanations than mine, please share it with me.

Since my English is not very good, it is hard for me to express exactly what I tried to say, so please be patient and just take the ideas. If you do not like this, you can ignore it. I only tried to bring up something new for our exploration. However, feel free to question the ideas with an open mind. If I can answer, I will.

DO does not go straight from ignorance to aging-and-death in one shot. It is like a small pond when it has the right condition, it will over and over fill up another bigger pond, and this bigger pond when it has the right condition it will over and over fill up another bigger one downstream…(This is like the pond simile you mentioned.)

Ignorance will fill up volitional formations. It will do this over and over until it meets the right conditions for consciousness to arise. When consciousness is ready then the process will fill up name-and-form…and so on.

As I see, we got stuck with DO because we take name-and-form as a being. We ignored its definition, so we do not see why the definition is there, and why nama has all of those components. Why do we have 2 contacts, 2 feelings in DO? What about perception, intention and attention for? How the six senses can arise and cease for each experience?

I will make an extremely simple example, and ignore some other details to make it easier to understand.

Dependent Origination

To make it simple, Assume that a man wants to marry a beautiful girl.

By ignorance, he keeps thinking about a beautiful girl, how she should be. He talks about how she should be, he goes out and searches for one (We have 3 components of formations here: body, speech, mind). Volitional formations arise. Doing so for days, months… One day, he sees a beautiful girl who fits with what he is looking for. He recognizes that is the girl that he is looking for (eye-consciousness arises). He intentionally pays attention to her, he has eye-contact with her. He perceives her as beautiful as he wishes for. He has the good feeling born from that eye-contact. (We can see that we have: intention, attention, contact, perception, feeling. This is nama, and the form of the girl is rupa. Now we can see how the mind connects to the rupa). Name-and-form arises. With this, he opens all his six senses to her (Six senses arise) He smells her perfume, he shakes her hand, he thinks about what she said. He now has established full contact with her (eye-contact, nose-contact, mind-contact…). Contact arises. With full contact, he has feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of body contact…). Feeling arises. The longer he continues the more feelings he has. He feels good about her.

Since he likes her, he will try to continue seeing her over and over. For days, months, even years… He builds up his feelings to the point that he craves her (Craving arises). Doing so for a long time, he clings to her (Clinging arises). He feels that he cannot live without her, so he decides to marry her. Now, she is his wife. He is very happy with that. He loves her so much. Now he built up his existence with an additional member. He is happy with this new member. With this new existence, he has another birth together with his own birth. Now, besides his own birth will lead him to aging-and-death, this new birth is also leading to aging-and-death.

Dependent Cessation
Assume that a man wants to marry a beautiful girl, he has met the girl and he feels good about her, but he now has wisdom.

With the cessation of ignorance, he no longer thinks about her, he no longer talks about her, he no longer goes out to meet her. With the cessation of volitional formations, he is no longer conscious about her. With no consciousness about her, there is no intentionally paying attention to her, there is no eye-contact with her. Without these, there is no connection between his mind and the girl. Name-and-form ceased. With name-and-form ceased, his six senses are not available for her. Six senses ceased. Contact ceased, Feeling ceased, craving ceased, clinging ceased, existence ceased, birth ceased, aging-and-death ceased.

Notes: Note that existence (bhava) here is the total of all forms, feelings, perception, volitional formations, consciousness that he accumulated in his life. This includes his own form, his feelings about himself… her form, his feelings about her, his perception about her…In this case, what ceased in the existence (bhava) are her form, his feelings about her, his perception about her…

Birth (Jati) is the accumulation of all births that he brings to his life. If he already married her then birth is his own birth and her birth. The cessation of birth is the cessation of her birth in this case. Her birth no longer belongs to birth. Here aging-and-death no longer belongs to aging-and-death. Now the only thing left is his own birth and his own aging-and-death that he will need to deal with.

Do this for everything that he has then he will be free from all sufferings.

DO also happens after death. This is how he got his life now. However, this is another big topic.

It is hard to explain all of these in this short example. Moreover my English is not very good, so it is hard for me to explain this complex concept. However, that’s the best I could do.

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If you can present an explanation or examples for Dependent Origination and Dependent Cessation that takes namarupa as a being, then I will be very happy to examine that. That’s what I see many people are getting stuck including me.

Very good :slightly_smiling_face: :pray:t2:. I forgot about this:

Supported by the six elements, an embryo is conceived.

Channaṁ, bhikkhave, dhātūnaṁ upādāya gabbhassāvakkanti hoti;

When it is conceived, there are name and form. Name and form are conditions for the six sense fields. The six sense fields are conditions for contact. Contact is a condition for feeling.

okkantiyā sati nāmarūpaṁ, nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṁ, saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā.

It’s for one who feels that I declare: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’.

Vediyamānassa kho panāhaṁ, bhikkhave, idaṁ dukkhanti paññapemi, ayaṁ dukkhasamudayoti paññapemi, ayaṁ dukkhanirodhoti paññapemi, ayaṁ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadāti paññapemi.

AN 3.61

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The AN3. 61 passage is puzzling, since consciousness is included in the six elements, but not in nama-rupa.

The impression is consciousness, in the set of dhammas called ‘the six elements’, represents all mentality. The following from AN 3.61 seems to be a gradual teaching:

The Dhamma that I’ve taught is irrefutable, uncorrupted, beyond reproach, and not scorned by sensible ascetics and brahmins. What is the Dhamma that I’ve taught?

‘These are the six elements’: this is the Dhamma I’ve taught …

‘These are the six fields of contact’: this is the Dhamma I’ve taught …

‘These are the eighteen mental preoccupations’: this is the Dhamma I’ve taught …

‘These are the four noble truths’: this is the Dhamma I’ve taught that is irrefutable, uncorrupted, beyond reproach, and is not scorned by sensible ascetics and brahmins.

AN 3.61

In SN12.23, what is the significance of the phrase “proximate cause”?
In most DO suttas, proximity is implied, since each nidana arises in dependence on the adjacent/preceding one. But why is it spelled out here?

And does “proximate cause” imply “root cause”, eg ignorance?

Yes, I am confused too.

If consciousness is an element then it seems to me that it is not dependently arisen. If it is, what does it depend on in this case? How do we understand these two declarations?

Misguided man, to whom have you ever known me to teach the Dhamma in that way? Misguided man, have I not stated in many ways consciousness to be dependently arisen, since without a condition there is no origination of consciousness? But you, misguided man, have misrepresented us by your wrong grasp and injured yourself and stored up much demerit; for this will lead to your harm and suffering for a long time. MN38

And this:

here are these six elements: the earth element, the water element, the fire element, the air element, the space element, and the consciousness element. When it was said: ‘“These are the six elements”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ it is because of this that this was said AN3.61

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In MN140 the six elements are the properties of a person, it’s like a form-heavy version of the aggregates. Dependent arising applies to these elements.

In any case, vinnana is not included in nama-rupa, so nama-rupa cannot be a person, or being, or whatever.

I suppose it depends on what the above Pali words mean.

In SN 12.23, what is the significance of the phrase “proximate cause (upanisa)”?

In other words, why would SN 12.23 use the word “upanisa” instead of the terminology in SN 12.2, to paraphrase:

Birth is a condition for faith to come to be.
jātipaccayā saddhā sambhavanti
That is how knowledge of ending [of the asava] originates.
Evametassa khayeñāṇaṁ samudayo hoti.

Or say to paraphrase MN 9:

Faith originates from birth.

Saddhāsamudayā jatisamudayo


Are you sure you are sure? SN 12.23 says birth is the proximal cause (upanisa) of faith. If SN 12.23 is an excellent example of the principle of dependent origination, per MN 9, this would seem to imply when birth ends/ceases, faith ends/ceases? If faith ceases when birth ceases this must mean the final dhamma in SN 12.23, namely, the knowledge of the ending of the defilements also ceases when birth ceases. :thinking:

However, the suttas seem to say ‘final knowledge’ is the knowledge of the ending of birth.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’”

‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ, kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ, nāparaṁ itthattāyā’ti pajānātī”ti.

SN 22.59


The above seems to suggest faith, gladness, rapture, tranquillity, happiness, concentration, knowledge and vision of things as they really are, revulsion, dispassion, liberation & knowledge of destruction are dependently originated. This is like saying the fruition of the Noble Eightfold Path is dependently originated (paṭiccasamuppannaṁ ). For example, MN 117 could use the words “samudaya” or “sambhava” below instead of “pahoti”:

Right view gives rise to right thought. Right thought gives rise to right speech. Right speech gives rise to right action. Right action gives rise to right livelihood. Right livelihood gives rise to right effort. Right effort gives rise to right mindfulness. Right mindfulness gives rise to right immersion. Right immersion gives rise to right knowledge. Right knowledge gives rise to right freedom.

Sammādiṭṭhissa, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo pahoti, sammāsaṅkappassa sammāvācā pahoti, sammāvācassa sammākammanto pahoti, sammākammantassa sammāājīvo pahoti, sammāājīvassa sammāvāyāmo pahoti, sammāvāyāmassa sammāsati pahoti, sammāsatissa sammāsamādhi pahoti, sammāsamādhissa sammāñāṇaṁ pahoti, sammāñāṇassa sammāvimutti pahoti.

MN 117

Are you sure you are sure this is correct, here? :thinking: Its starting to sound very Nagarjuna-ish to suggest Nibbana is dependent originated (paṭiccasamuppannaṁ). :face_with_spiral_eyes:

The statement of ‘conditioned arising’ in SN/SA suttas with just five factors (from (1) craving to (5) ‘aging-and-death … and despair’) is ‘the most concise formula’. It corresponds directly to two of the four noble truths: (5) ‘aging-and-death … and despair’ is the first truth (suffering), and (1) craving (tanha) is the second truth (the origin of suffering). ‘Since craving is itself a conditioned phenomenon, the series of causes can be extended to as many as twelve factors’ (p. 19 in Choong Mun-keat’s The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism).

I regard DO as an elaboration of the Second Truth, how suffering comes to be. IMO the most significant addition in DO is ignorance as the root case of suffering, with craving as the proximate cause.
Unfortunately there is no consensus on how the detail of DO should be understood. I’m inclined to put all that to one side, and just focus on how craving comes from ignorance.

While we’re discussing DO, I’ve never understood what is supposed to happen if one escapes the cycle of birth and death. A Hindu might talk about merging with Brahman or something, but this doesn’t seem to be the situation with Buddhism.
I don’t think the EBT provide a clear answer to this question, but I’d be interested to hear any ideas about it.

According to SA/SN suttas, it is not about merging with Brahman (‘atman is Brahman’), but mainly seeing and knowing (the connection of) anicca, dukkha, anatta. See the following (p. 53):

Pages 52-3 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (155.1 KB)

So what do you think happens when one is freed from the cycle of birth and death, fron a Buddhist point of view?

What do I think regarding what happens when one is free from the samsara (dukkha) from a Buddhist point of view?

I think dukkha, being not real, arises by causal condition (nidaana). Having arisen it ceases completely by causal condition. It is a result of previous action (karma-vipaaka), but there is no doer (anatta).

See pp. 32 ff. regarding Emptiness from the viewpoint of ‘condition arising’ as the Middle Way, in Choong Mun-keat’s The notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism