Paṭiccasamuppāda - What's the point?

i too entertained this idea as explanation of DO’s import but then i couldn’t pinpoint any its feature which would be incompatible with the belief in the soul, because as far as i can see it might describe the reason a soul transmigrates just as effectively

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If you can accept feeling as not-self you naturally accept the five clinging aggregate as not-self too.
Because five aggregate is dependently originated and you find them in the DO formula.
The same way if you can accept feeling as not-self you have to accept that whole DO links are not-self because they all are inter related.

There is also SA 262 that brings them in the same sutta, but the 12-DO as the middle way between the “existence and non-existence of the world” which to me is a more suitable headline of the 12-DO.

If there is one dhamma that is combined with anicca-dukkha-anatta, it’s the khandhas I would say (without having statistical backup). Even if we find 10 suttas where the 12-DO are together with anatta, there are (felt) 100s with the khandhas.

If the 12-DO were an original anatta framework, it would also have made sense to present the khandhas in the order as they appear in the DO:
1.sankhara 2.vinnana 3.rupa 4.(sanna)/salayatana 5.vedana
instead we have a seemingly random listing: 3. 5. 4. 1. 2.

Wayman already in his 1971 paper “Buddhist Dependent Origination” traces the first four limbs to the pre-buddhist Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (Ch.4), where the atman is crating the world - after nama-rupa even the senses with the mind are mentioned. So exactly as @LXNDR noted it was used by brahmins to show how the world-soul created the world and “entered in there right to the tip of the nails” (BhU).

Since the DO is an undeniable fact of the suttas, it’s either a very early redaction, or the Buddha had to deal with the creation myth all the time and ‘picked people/brahmins up where they were’.

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What kind of soul would that be? A soul that doesn’t experience anything, can’t be experienced and also isn’t any experience either?

I think what Bhante means by soul here, is the atman or atta or an independent unchanging and permanent essense. What DO says, is that all things arise dependent on something else, and if that something else should cease, those things cease as well. So there’s no room for anything independent and permanent anywhere.

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In DN 1 the Buddha explicitly refers to the idea of a creator-god, and describes how it comes about, in a very close resemblance to the mentioned Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

i mean the conventional soul, one whos existence the Buddha refuted

this principle is presented as idapaccayata, whereas DO is an isolated case of idapaccayata only dealing with things responsible for creation of samasra, so the DO i’d call idapaccayata of samsara

i feel that the DO in the collective unconcious got conflated with the doctrine of anatta but i’ve not been able to discern any clear relationship

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If you read carefully the MA 62, it mentions about the arising and ceasing of the kandhas to say it is not self and then connects it with D.O. when the question on who is reborn was raised by the audiences. For alternative reading, you can read the Mahavastu version of this discourse here:

Besides that, there is also a discourse that clearly connect D.O with anatta explicitly, i.e. SA 297 in which the Buddha avoid the question of who is experience the 12 nidanas. The Pali parallel is SN 12.35 doesn’t give the self (atta) as answer of the wrong question, but this is explicitly mentioned in the SA version.


Also MN 38 is an example…

What about SN 12.12 & SN 12.15?

Oh yes, I think I missed it :grin:

Isn’t ‘nama-rupa’ generally defined as: 'feeling, perception, intention, contact & attention…& the four great elements and the form dependent on the four great elements…" MN 9; SN 12.2…“born from mother and father, nourished with rice”… DN 2; which does not sound like Upanishad ‘naming-forms’ (unless you take refuge in DN 15).

Ignorance does condition or taint consciousness & the mind-body (nama-rupa), as described below, which seems much different to Upanishad ‘naming of forms’.

Imagine, Brahman, a bowl of water mixed with lac, turmeric, dark green or crimson dye. If a man with good eyesight were to look at the reflection of his own face in it, he would not know or see it as it really was. In the same way, Brahman, when a man dwells with his heart possessed and overwhelmed by sense-desires… then he cannot know or see, as it really is, what is to his own profit, to the profit of others, to the profit of both. Then even sacred words he has long studied are not clear to him, not to mention those he has not studied. SN 46.55

I’m sorry, I don’t follow @Deeele . The point I referenced is that obviously the Buddha referred to an already existing creation myth that included atman, ignorance, consciousness, and nama-rupa. The upanishad had no idea about the later Buddha and could obviously not use the same definitions the Buddha used. For the brahmins nama-rupa was simply put the object and its name. The buddha didn’t invent this term, he picked it up, remodeled it and used it in his way.

The whole idea is, to repeat it, that possibly the Buddha picked up existing forms of creation-process-myths and used them to exemplify conditionality, dealing with brahmins/popular beliefs. It would be a means to convince people and to make his dhamma compatible to their ideas, but not a necessary knowledge-cum-practice on the path.

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It doesn’t have to be the Buddha either; a lot could have shown up in the two-to-three-hundred-or-so years preceding our early texts.

I would suggest that the 12-step paṭiccasamuppāda was a late catechism, an attempt to sum up in notecard fashion larger swaths of the Dhamma & its development over time, all within a context of powerful Brahmin & Khattiya (i.e. secular) interests bleeding into the Sangha (cosmology, funerary rites, etc.).


On the list of ‘it’s a shame that…’ I would also add: It’s a shame we don’t have good access to this part of history of the sangha. We can guess there were strong external forces, buddhist and other ascetics heavily influenced by the Buddha, starting own sects, gaining and losing popularity, the orthodox bramins with new mystical experiences, the yoga movement… all having some kind on influence on the (diverse) sangha, leaving an impression on the dhamma editions of the time, to represent the Buddha’s word, but also to fulfill contemporary needs.

Dear Friends

The Buddha did not discover DO when he became awakened, he worked on it before, we find this on SN 12 (10) in the Nidanasamyutta:

"Monks, [likewise[2]] before I attained supreme Enlightenment, while I was still a Bodhisatta,[3]
the thought occurred to me: ‘This world, alas, has fallen into sore
distress. There is being born, growing old, dying, passing over and
being reborn. But from all this suffering, from decay and death, no way
of release is apparent. Surely there must be some way of release
discoverable from this suffering, this decay-and-death.’
"Then, monks, this thought occurred to me ‘What being present does
decay-and-death come to be? What conditions decay-and-death?’ Then,
monks, as I considered this thoroughly,[4]
the insight and comprehension dawned on me: 'Birth being present,
death-and-decay comes to be; decay-and-death is conditioned by birth.'
Then the thought occurred to me: 'What being present does birth come to
be? What conditions birth?.. becoming… grasping… craving…
feeling… contact… the six sense-bases… name-form…
consciousness… (kamma-) formations?[5]…'
Then, as I considered this thoroughly, the insight and comprehension
dawned on me: ‘Ignorance being present the formations come to be; the
formations are conditioned by ignorance.’ And so we have it like this:
‘Conditioned by ignorance are the formations, conditioned by the
formations is consciousness… So there comes about the arising of this
entire mass of suffering.’

The practical point of DO is the cessation of the links, e.g. if contact ceases then feeling ceases and so on.



well it could be construed that way but notwithstanding the peculiarities of the composition i think it’s still implied that as Bodhisatta he only had put the question and had been pondering it without finding an answer, which he supposedly discovered in the process of his awakening

the insight and comprehension dawned on me

a question which i put to myself however is in which sutta, if any, discovery of the DO is directly associated with awakening, any hints are appreciated

MN 26 (The Noble Search) has directly after the enlightenment “It is hard for such a generation to see this truth, namely, specific conditionality, dependent origination” (…idappaccayatā paṭic­ca­samup­pādo).

I haven’t browsed the other nikayas, but in the MN this is the only instance of DO & enlightenment. But it just has the term paṭic­ca­samup­pādo, no limbs.

thank you and yes i was rather expecting the full exposition of the DO as a lion roar style proclamation of discovery made through awakening

The DN famously doesn’t have the 12-DO at all, only a bit shorter lists. Yet, DN 14 has a fantastic story about a bodhisatta Vipassi that reflected a DO-variant until “knowledge, wisdom, awareness, and light” arose. Then, at another time, he practiced vipassana contemplating the rise and fall of the khandhas and got enlightened then. [The part with “knowledge…light arose” is also in SN 12.10, this time with bodhisatta Gotama, again without explicit enlightenment]

AN 3.61 has as the third noble truth the 12-DO, but not combined with enlightenment.
AN 10.92 actually has explicitly the 12-DO for a sotapanna as “the noble method that he has clearly seen and thoroughly penetrated with wisdom” (i.e. not for the arahant)

SN 12.20 says "A Tathagata awakens to this (the 12-DO) and breaks through it"
SN 12.21 has the Tathagata’s lion’s roar with the 12-DO
SN 12.27 if I understand correctly again penetrating the 12-DO with becoming sotapanna
SN 12.41 again 12-DO and sotapanna

AFAICS there is not more in the four nikayas to 12-DO & enlightenment combined (maybe I missed some though)


and the 2nd as well, which confirms my point of view


(just to give myself a light pat on the back :smirk:)

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