Does dependent origination imply everything is interdependent, automatic Nibbana?

If all things are mutually interdependent, that includes enlightenment.
The attainment of one being is for the attainment of all beings.

What in dependent arising/origination makes that statement true?

Does dependent arising as found in EBTs really imply that everything is interdependent?

What would it be the difference between such dependent origination-based automatic/guaranteed Nibbana and the belief of Makkhali Gosāla, the Ajivika (aka Niyativāda) which states a certain eventual liberation of both fools and the wise alike?

“The foolish and the wise, having roamed and wandered through these, will alike make an end to suffering.
Just as, when a ball of string is thrown, it rolls along unwinding until it comes to its end, in the same way, the foolish and the wise roam and wander (for the fixed length of time), after which they make an end to suffering.’”
– DN2

The way I understand Nibbana is not dependently originated.
It is unconditioned.
Noble Eightfold Path give you the right knowledge.


I know it’s our classic answer “nibbana is the unconditioned element” etc.
But honestly, either there is a path or it ‘just happens’.
‘Unconditioned’ is a technical term meaning it’s not a composite, it doesn’t change. But if certain ‘conditions’ wouldn’t be more favorable to bring about nibbana then what the heck are Buddhists doing?

Certain conditions are favorable for realizing nibbana (the path), but nibbana is not created (through causes and conditions) - nibbana is the uncreated/unconditioned. That would be my understanding…

Nibbana is something you realise.
If you recover from an illness you did not create anything.

Just to be clear - the path doesn’t result in nibbana?
Health has no conditions in your metaphor?

The path results in the realization of nibbana, but the path itself is conditioned and impermanent (it is the raft, right?). It’s like, if I hop on interstate 90 from Seattle and stay on it for a few thousand miles or so, eventually I’ll get to Boston - but Boston wasn’t created by interstate 90.

I also like Sarath’s health metaphor - of course these metaphors are severely inadequate, because there are conditions that support health and well-being, and Boston was built. But nibbana is called the unconditioned precisely because there is nothing that has conditioned it. “Sabbe sankhara anicca’ti” -
all conditioned things are impermanent. But nibbana is not impermanent, and so can’t be a conditioned thing.


It is not possible to find a suitable metaphor for an unconditioned state in a conditioned world.
The argument is Nibbana is already here that is why we all can realise it.

mmmh, I remember a sutta (maybe someone has it at hand) where the idea that nibbana is already there in the background is rejected and it’s said that it has to be developed. Or was it vimutti or so? Sorry, my photographic memory is… nonexistent :slight_smile:

Why not? we can find metaphors for anything. Metaphors never depict the described to 100% it just picks some elements.

This reminds me of a thought I had a while ago, that we all naturally tend your nibbana. If, once you escape samsara you never go back, then on an infinite timeline, we’ll all eventually reach awakening. So, in this reality, with all its supposed realms and beings, they all tend toward eventual awakening. At a certain point everyone should reach nibbana, every single being. Which is interesting, because near the end, there will only be a few beings left, and so how they can even learn the Dhamma I’m not not sure. Maybe at that time they’ll have to wait until the insane amount of time passes for them all to become Buddhas, I’m not sure. The only other option is that new karmic streams are actually being created, new beings I guess you could say. The other interesting thing about this is that it would imply that we don’t have consciousness unique to our karmic streams, but only unique karmic streams all utilizing the same consciousness. Unless of course new consciousness can also be created with the new karmic streams, but that seems unlikely.

If the Buddha couldn’t find one, I don’t think we have much of a chance! :wink:


Well, there’s idapaccayatā, which is general conditionality:

When this is, that is.
When this is not, that is not.

The most important specific form of this generic conditionality is paṭicca samuppāda which serves the purpose of explaining how dukkha arises. Basically, an expanded form of the 2nd Noble Truth.

“Everything is interdependent” isn’t taught anywhere in the EBT’s afaik.

There is kamma on the Buddhist path toward the cessation of kamma.
The process of Awakening to the Unconditioned has conditions; dependent liberation is a clear expression of this.


Puh, I’m glad he actually did :slight_smile:
Firstly ‘nibbana’ is in itself a metaphor, ‘vimutti’ is another one, and for some others he cramped them all up in SN 43.13-44

Bhikkhus, I will teach you the uninclined and the path leading to the uninclined … the truth and the path leading to the truth…. I will teach you the far shore … the subtle … the very difficult to see … the unaging … the stable … the undisintegrating … the unmanifest … the unproliferated … the peaceful … the deathless … the sublime … the auspicious … the secure …. the destruction of craving … the wonderful … the amazing … the unailing … the unailing state … Nibbana … the unafflicted … dispassion … purity … freedom … the unadhesive … the island … the shelter … the asylum … the refuge … the destination


Good point.
You can’t find a metaphor for metaphor.

You are flirting with the Anti-Buddha, o risky one:

Just as a ball of string when thrown runs till it is all unravelled, so fools and wise run on and circle round till they make an end of suffering

… said Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary Ajivika leader e.g. in DN 2


You said a metaphor can be found “for anything.” My reply was directed toward that claim, not to whether there is a metaphor for Nibbana.

Nibbana has many appellations, as your quote shows. However, to call it a metaphor per se might be going too far. But I generally avoid debating the nature of Nibbana so I’ll leave it at that.

Yeah but that’s not the same as what I’m saying. That guy was just saying that there was a destiny and no matter what causes or conditions there were it would still just turn out the same. That’s obviously not true. What I am saying is that with infinite time, eventually every person will reach awakening. It’s infinite time. The only argument you could possibly have against that is that some people are infinitely stuck in samsara, that no matter how much time passes, they’ll never get out. With infinite time, and permanent escape from samsara once awakening is reached, then eventually no one will be left, it’s infinite time, doesn’t matter how long it takes, but eventually it will happen. That is, unless there really are karmic streams that will never end, beings stuck forever.

That sutta is so often posed as an argument against determinism, but that is not what it’s saying. Determinism is everything is the result of causes and conditions playing out, not just a set in stone destiny and no matter what you do it still turns out that way. For example, someone is destined to be in hell, so no matter how much virtue they have and how much compassion and how much meditation you do, you’re still going to hell. That is what the Buddha was rejecting in that sutta and of course because that’s ridiculous. In my mind, karma is determinism, it’s just causes and conditions that cause everything to happen, even the decisions we decide to make and so forth.

To be clear though, I’m not talking about determinism at all. I’m talking about what philosophers call the “infinite monkey theroem.” It’s just the idea that on an infinite timeline, and with a permanent condition in place (nibbana), then eventually everything will end up at that permanent condition. Even if it takes a bazillion bobzillion years, that’s where it will end up eventually. Unless, you add more variables as you go along, for example, the creation of new karmic streams and beings along the way. If you don’t add more, eventually there won’t be any, because they all will have ended with nibbana. Or, there will be karmic streams and beings that will never end, never reach nibbana, and they’ll just be stuck in samsara for infinity. Although, I must say, the latter concept sounds absolutely horrible to me so I hope it isn’t that. I would much rather everyone reaching nibbana, or new karmic streams or beings created as we go along. Either is better than some just suffering forever.

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“Interdependent”, AFAIK, usually means “dependently arisen”. So every ‘thing’ may well be interdependent!

Not that that relates to the universal salvation implied behind the OP.

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Thanks for the clarification. I know you meant some else than Makkhali. My guess is still that in this case Buddhist pragmatism would win over logic - in the sense that any view&philosophy that might lead people to kick back and relax would be admonished, e.g. “ah, this hedonistic life is great, let’s have each time an hedonistic life until I will eventually get enlightened” (btw a shallow interpretation of sheer ‘Buddhist’ rebirth might result in the same line of thinking).

Distancing himself from Makkhali-like views in a few suttas we have

I teach a doctrine of kamma, a doctrine of deeds, a doctrine of energy/exertion (kammavāda, kiriyavāda, vīriyavāda). AN 3.137

Regarding the infinite monkeys, I’m afraid that doesn’t work. Or, it would only work if the monkeys would have started typing at a certain point in time. As you well know time in EBT Buddhism has no beginning. So, at any given time in the past, there was already an infinite number of monkeys already typing for an infinite amount of time. So everyone should already be enlightened now. Just adding the infinitude of the future to the infinite past doesn’t add any probability to everyone’s enlightenment. Also there were already an infinite number of Buddhas in the past, and this also didn’t lead to everyone’s enlightenment - so I don’t see where the optimism should come from that eventually, quasi-per-definition it should work out in the future.

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Are you sure that EBTs support the notion of infinite past, infinite number of beings, and an infinite number of Buddhas?

I recall reading that samsara is “without discoverable beginning”…which could mean an infinite past, but not necessarily. The Buddha does not declare “the world is eternal” or “the world is not eternal”…is that of any relevance here?

The infinite monkey theorem doesn’t strike me as quite right, because it is not as if all beings mind’s automatically incline towards nibbana. Beings have greed, hate, and delusion, sustained by the 5 hindrances - and they keep creating more and more kamma. Becoming a stream winner is very difficult in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t a matter of just blindly hammering away until you get there; you need to intentionally do specific things to cultivate the path. And in most cases it’s as if there is a conspiracy to prevent beings from becoming enlightened. You have to go against the current. That said, I certainly do hope that every being will eventually experience the bliss of release!