How to penetrate Dependent Co-arising?

I tried to better understand the context and the concepts of the time when this sutta was taught and it gives new light to the translation and understanding of the sutta,
My previous attempt didn’t go well, Is there a better way to penetrate dhamma - the Laws of Nature ,as I was in some kind of rush that time … lol :smiley:
So some observations here which might make our understanding better, open for debate and discussion, if you like it pls let me now and if you don’t pls comment why and it will be a healthy discussion to achieve something tangible

  • The world and existence in the world how to start and interpret this DN27 What Came First, All phenomena should be seen from what initiated first and first impression yonisomanasikāra
  • Missing the view points when Buddha says eye consciousness is burning they just read it not realize it, unless you are right there experiencing that moment, creating that moment it can’t be realized or penetrated. The awakening factor of investigation of principles, is missing folks just read, talk and not go beyond
  • 7W’s not sure were listed in dhamma anywhere, they are very annoying and if not thought properly needs to be always associated with Name or Form, they diffuse the mind
  • Connections are not right, sankhara (sanskara), upadana (ahuti) translations and interpretations seems to miss the point which would have been very clear to ordinary lay person of that time and to many even now
  • 5 kandha - sections (akhanda its the ego I am atta) are not part of any translation or interpretations whereas they should be MN28 says “One who sees the teaching sees dependent origination.” And these five grasping aggregates are indeed dependently originated”
  • Nama Rupa, mentality and materiality has to be very clearly understood many session don’t go that far on discussing these especially mental conditioning aspect, this topic can help How to penetrate nāmarūpa - Name and Material Forms - #9 by paul1

Sankhara = Sanskara

Dependent Co-arising

Please find attached pdf with all of these and more here, which I am compiling together and will include more on N8P
How to penetrate Dependent Co-arising.pdf (3.6 MB)

Pls provide your feedback and let me know if this makes sense

The implication that to know anything whatsoever of DO is necessary to separate conventional and ultimate realities or to make progress generally is refuted. Once the NEP has been established understanding proceeds in several possible directions, and my path follows the sense bases and elements, it is practically based. For example:

“Monk, the property of light is discerned in dependence on darkness. The property of beauty is discerned in dependence on the unattractive. The property of the dimension of the infinitude of space is discerned in dependence on form.”—SN 14.11

Each one of these paths is independent and does not require any knowledge of the others.

tl:dr, I think the easiest way to penetrate dependent origination is just following the N8FP, it seems to be the quickest way. :grin:

Since you’re mentioning dependent arising and the sources you’ve investigated, I’d like to recommend additional sources to consider that helped me grasp dependent origination a bit better.

This workshop by Ajahn Brahmali is very thorough and should help, especially with his in-depth discussion on sankhara.

As are the following books:

The last three points are mentioned in the workshop and in the books. I could re-explain them but I’ll just be parroting the Ajahns because their explanations are the only ones that really made sense to me. I think the main take away I received from the teachings I listed above is that the N8FP is the shortest way to penetrate dependent origination, and that dependent origination is integrated into the 4NT. The N8FP leads to understanding the 4NT which is understanding dependent origination (Second Noble Truth contains the shortest version of origination and the Third contains cessation). You can try and philosophize it and make confusing graphs but they won’t help too much since you need to practice the path to understand how the conditionality works through personal experience.


Since our conscious experience starts with Contact, I believe penetrating DO should begin there. When there is Contact, does craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence or craving for non-existence arise? When Craving arises, does clinging arise? When Clinging arise, does Bhava arise? When Bhava exists, birth, old age, death and the whole mass of suffering, Dukkha exist.

Thanks for your response and yes SN14.11 I will look into

I am following the Middle way and N8P as the path, so interlinking all this knowledge is essential from that perspective

Thank you for your response and all these links, yes I had been through all sessions of workshop and few other individual sessions from great teachers

None of these mention about sankhara and sanskar connection which would have been very easily understood by an ordinary person of that time, there are other few specific points mentioned which don’t seem to be mentioned before like, khanda vs akhanda and others , appreciate any discussion and comments looking into details on this topics mentioned here

I think if really want to penetrate well into Paticca Samuppada, only Buddha and Arahants can do so. The rest (Sotapanna, Sakadagami and Anagami) is just understand its mechanism well.

Nowadays putthujjanas can’t even understand it, though their mouths keep saying “it’s very simple… it’s clear to me that it is merely simple arising…”, they overestimated themselves.

You are right, though its a catch my tail game then, the level of understanding has to gradually increase otherwise its not overnight someone realizes they are Arahant and can understand it fully. Buddha mentioned we must have investigation of phenomenon, teachings, translations and see what is why and where, unless we do, do we really understand the context and the translations and the message.
for e.g. what makes more sense to the understanding
khandhā - the five aggregates, five grasping aggregates,five aggregates subject to clinging viz: material qualities, feeling, perception, coefficients of consciousness, and consciousness
khandhā - a broken piece, section and (5 khandhās are the sections of personality we take up as self)
akhaṇḍa unbroken, entire, whole, in -kārin (sikkhāya) fulfilling or practising the whole of (the commandments)

I see previous one has been used at many places but it looks like later one would have been very clear to someone 2600 years ago in the given context and they mean different, when we look at it this way the meaning changes so something we take it as me or mine(akhanda), is broken into 5 pieces or sections by buddha saying this is not mine.

This is what the level of details I want to discuss in this forum

Hello folks, wish you all a very happy new year, this post is now 12d old and I am kind of disappointed in the participation and debate / discussion expected and what happened on this topic.
This topic has some unique points and connections with context which I had not seen before or mentioned anywhere.
Looks like I did a bad job in explaining the points or people are still blinded by their own views don’t want to go beyond to investigate further. Where are the three jewels? Rules prevent me from tagging individuals @moderators - Is it wrong expectation to discuss / debate and improve our understanding? Buddha mentioned in MN28

One who sees Dependent Co-Arising sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees Dependent Co-Arising.

Do we think to have good understanding of dhamma if we do not understand the dependent co-arising, the point of views, the context, what buddha meant when he says eyes are burning beyond concept, through self realization and experience, and do we think there is no further investigation of phenomenon required beyond the conventional wisdom?

To recap these were some highlights with details, links and references

  • jāti – Rebirth including the Rebirth by choice and realms connection from here till bhava - page 36
  • khandhā - a broken piece, section and (5 khandhās are the sections of personality we take up as self)
    akhaṇḍa unbroken, entire, whole, in -kārin (sikkhāya) fulfilling or practicing the whole of (the commandments)
  • Sankhāra – in the widest sense the “world of phenomena”, everything (all conditioned things 5 khandhās) which have been made up by pre-existing causes, produces kamma
    Pre-context(16 Sanskara - sankhāra - saṃskāra, - sacraments, rites of passage, in a human being’s life) and the process of rituals with karma and ahuti very common in those days and still now page 7,22
  • upādāna - āhuti - oblation, sacrifice, performed with everything I do by mind, speech or body - page 33
  • Connections in dependent co-arising - page 11 with mind maps included in the topic and the pdf
  • taṇhā - tarśna thirst, craving, hunger for, excitement how its infected with the avijja and sense of self

Show me in Sutta where one can find 16 sankhara. There is only 3 sankhara (kaya, vaci and citta). There is no kamma in DO explanation.

Kaya sankhara is breath in and out (Is breathing in and out kamma?)

Just a teaching from AN6.47 for consideration. Dhamma is directly visible as mentioned in the sutta. If there is greed, truly know that there is greed and the causes. When greed cease, truly know how it ceased. Then the path would be clear.

Page 7 of PDF you can read details, You need to understand the context where Sankhara came from, you can read vedas as well, or lit. where dhamma came from it comes from 16 sanskara from Vedas . Sanskara (rite of passage) - Wikipedia. It seems now some links are not working the book which was referred here was

Etymology of Sanskara - sacrament at different stages of life, must involve upadana the fire, with bhoga’s which is like fuel, kamma the act of doing sacrament, for a specific outcome to enhance bhava , this was redefined by buddha.
kamma - AN3.77 as seed what else produces other than sankhara all the things we do

In BSWA DO workshop Ven. Sunyo makes searches on word upadana and finds matches on food vs fire and gave counts, the actual context is its an oblation, its offering food to fire an ahuti which is very well understood by one with Vedic background

  • thinking loud yes it is, if we do simply in and out without bothering others its neutral
  • we can breath in and out in awkward way say due to cancer or what ever and it can be very annoying to others and they wont like it
  • with this breath in and out someone intentionally can ( blow lamps / candles away which others might have lit up in faith ) and cause bad kamma

Yes you are right, Buddhas can explain dhamma in single line as well one of shortest teachings I had seen for e.g. Dhp183

Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṁ,
kusalassa upasampadā; Variant: kusalassa upasampadā → kusalassūpasampadā (sya-all)
Sacittapariyodapanaṁ, Variant: Sacittapariyodapanaṁ → sacittapariyodāpanaṁ (?)
etaṁ buddhāna sāsanaṁ.

Not to do any evil;
to embrace the good;
to purify one’s mind:
this is the instruction of the Buddhas.

The path starts with such but you have to steer and dig deeper into for obtaining more and more clarity as we move on and grow further on the path

Yes, certainly true. I guess we can gather from the Sutta that Dhamma is visible by paying attention to and comprehending what’s going on currently in the mind. That’s where the effort needs to be.

This is the problem. I asked for sutta (Buddha/devotee discourses), you show me an outsider paper/book. Hence your understanding is confusing.

There are only 3 sankhara(s) in DO. (Kaya, vaci, and citta).

However, when Buddha described kamma, he also mentioned 3 other sankhara(s). But these refer to actions (kaya, vaci and mano). These actions involve intention (cetana).

When you senses external object, these will make you think, hence you speech and act. Therefore there is kamma vipaka if you act wrongly and nicely.

Ex: You see an ice cream, then you think you want to buy it. However you don’t have money. Are you going to steal it because you can’t get it? If you did, then you have created a bad kamma result. You might get caught by the store clerk or policeman, then put into jail due to your action.

I would recommend study sutta and hear more sutta so your understanding can evolve. Dont mix commentaries with Sutta. It can be confusing.

Regarding AN3.77, this sutta is simplification of Buddha teaching. At that time, Ananda hasn’t reached purification of mind level. Buddha explain with mundane teaching. But if you look at the pali, there is no sankhara word there. There is only Bhava (existence), tanha, dhatu, kamma, avijja, samyojana.

Also, have you heard sutta that said one who practiced Ariyan 8fold path.,They have practice to abandoned kamma?

It is neutral and/or good since breathing in and out doesnt harm oneself and others. You keep your mind occupy with here and now. This is why the practice of sati is wholesome (good).

This is just a speculation or mind proliferation (papanca). No one with a wise thinking mind will do these kind of things.

Start study and hear SN 55 and SN 56.11 first. Then keep hear other suttas.

Teaching of buddha is asking oneself to think first before acting. This way, you will always be on the good side. If you think good for yourself and others, you will act/speak good as well.

Typical human will react first due to emotional feeling want to satisfy their senses. These way will cause harm to others, and only benefit yourself such as kill, lie, steal, sexual misconduct etc.

Very good discussion, I concur with you, lets get to the crux of it

thats not what I meant, perhaps you didn’t read this pdf yet

page 22 describes Sankhara with all sutta references and kamma

To find meaning of words from root we need to understand buddha didn’t invent new words all the time, he was a contemporary architect he redefined the meaning of existing words, what Sankhara meant before was sacrament, rituals (16 rituals) page 8 some redefined words shown here, infact dhamma was also redefined

along with 3 vedas (which is in Tikaṇṇa sutta)

“Brahmin, a master of three knowledges according to the brahmins is quite different from a master of the three knowledges in the training of the Noble One.”

Where finally the brahmin agrees to the teaching and says

“Master Gotama, a master of three knowledges according to the brahmins is quite different from a master of the three knowledges in the training of the Noble One. And, Master Gotama, a master of three knowledges according to the brahmins is not worth a sixteenth part of a master of the three knowledges in the training of the Noble One.

Pls open and check the individual links and let me know, I am happy to learn and explore more

I look briefly, but too confusing. Addition of kamma make it even more confusing.

Some concepts are ok, but again it is impossible to comprehend DO like that. DO needs to understand from upadana and tanha links from 4 ariyan truth. Then slowly progress up to avijja, by peeling off/let go one by one of the components. Please look SN 12.2 for analysis. But it is not very details, one needs to refer other suttas.


In brief, the 5 khandas is cause of unhappiness.

This is inaccurate. 5 khandas is just khandas. When there is upadana of 5 khandhas (holding on, personalization of them), then there is a dukkha (first ariyan truth). Source of dukkha is tanha. (Second ariyan truth).


And what is the noble truth of suffering? Rebirth is suffering; old age is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress are suffering; not getting what you wish for is suffering. In brief, the five grasping aggregates are suffering.

This is on page 38 go the lit of khanda its the sections of self the self is ego I am.

You miss the grasping (upadana). I translated upadana as holding on/personalization (making them as I am).

There is a sutta sn 22.48 which Buddha explained the different. One need to be careful when listed.

Pancupadanakkhandha vs pancakkhandha.

Form,feeling, etc is not unhappiness.
Cling to Form, feeling, etc due to defilements is surely a dukkha.

Yes you are right, upadana is ahuti its the offering to fire of grasping,

I should modify the dukkha statement, greed, hatred and thirst to ego iam is unhappiness and its sections or khandas as well, updated the pdf