thanks so much for your help. A number of the suttas found with your queries have the following formulation:
When this exists, that is; due to the arising of this, that arises.
When this doesn’t exist, that is not; due to the cessation of this, that ceases.
That is precisely what I’m looking for. I will now tell you why.
I am currently reading a book called “The Book of Why” by Judea Pearl. It is about causation and how it relates to science and, in particular, artificial intelligence. He quotes David Hume’s definition of casuality: “We may define a cause to be an object followed by another, and where all the objects, similar to the first, are followed by objects similar to the second. Or, in other words, where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed.”
The similarity with the Buddha’s “When this exists, that is… When this doesn’t exist, that is not” is striking and I am thinking of bringing the similarity to Dr Pearl’s attention. Since he is an academic, I know it is important to show him an original text rather than a paraphrase of unknown origin, which is why I wanted to find the suttas with the simpler formulation rather than the twelve nidanas.
That Hume’s pronouncement is so similar is interesting enough in itself. But it is even more interesting in light of a journal article by Alison Gopnik that shows that it quite possible that Hume came into contact with Buddhist views during his time at the Royal College of La Flèche in France.
I’ve always been interested in Hume because his views match quite closely with the Madhyamaka view of “two truths”, the truth of the conventional (dependent origination as seen by one with right view) and the truth of the absolute (that any view about the absolute, such a “existence” and “non-existence” are not held by one with right view). I believe, as do others, that Madhyamaka has it roots in the Kaccanagotta Sutta. But that’s another story…