The Buddha’s Teaching in One Verse

The Buddha’s Teaching in One Verse.

There were people from the past, upon hearing this verse, gained the dustless, stainless Dhamma Eye. May it also be in the future, upon hearing this verse, people will also gain the dustless, stainless Dhamma Eye.
Nibbāna Paccayo Hotu!

Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā
tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesañ ca yo nirodho
evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Ye dharmā hetuprabhavā
hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgataḥ hyavadat
teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha
evaṃ vādī mahāśramaṇaḥ


From causal conditions all phenomena arise,
And through causal conditions all phenomena cease.
It was said this by the Tathagata,
My Master, the great Samana.


For those of you who are more inclined to the wisdom side of the Buddha’s teaching, I offer this translation for your reflections, from the great Pure Land Master Lienchi (1535-1615), whose teachings I hold most dear.

The Master explain thus,

The nature of the mind does not take birth, because of causal conditions coming together that it takes birth. The nature of the mind does not die, because of causal conditions separating that it dies. It seems like there are birth and death, but the truth is there are neither coming nor going. If one can comprehend this, then one will live peacefully and will die peacefully, will always be tranquil, will always illumine.

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Two more summaries of the whole of the Teaching for lovers of succinctness…

Sabbe sattā āhāraṭṭhitikā.
‘All creatures are maintained by food.’
DN 33

Sabbe dhammā n’ālaṃ abhinivesāya.
‘All dhammas are not to be settled down into.’
MN 37

The second gets translated in a variety of ways, but my favourite, given above, is by the Vietnamese lay scholar Tang Huyen.


And there are the famous last words…

Atha kho bhagavā bhikkhū āmantesi - handa dāni, bhikkave, āmantayāmi vo: "vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā"ti. Ayaṃ tathāgatassa pacchimā vācā.

Now the Blessed One advised the bhikkhus - Well now, bhikkhus, my counsel is: experience is disappointing, [it is] through vigilance [that] you succeed. These were the last words for the Tathāgata.

They’re broken down here : The Last words of the Buddha


This kind of translation may be used to justify study of DO when it is only necessary to know impermanence. As Ajahn Chah says when mental events occur, there isn’t time to know the process.

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Yet impermanence can be known and understood from different perspectives and experiences since there is not a single mind, it is like a king’s chief ….and we know how the story goes. :pray:

Yet another summary :slight_smile:

Itivuttaka 72 - Escape - Nissaraniyasutta

“Bhikkhus, there are these three elements of escape. What three? The escape from sensual desires, that is, renunciation; the escape from form, that is, the formless; and the escape from whatever has come to be, from whatever is conditioned and dependently arisen, that is, cessation. These, bhikkhus, are the three elements of escape.”


Ovadapatimokkha verses (in DN 14 and Dhp 183-185) is often regarded as summarizing the core of the Buddha’s teaching:

Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṁ,
kusalassa upasampadā;
etaṁ buddhāna sāsanaṁ.

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

Khantī paramaṁ tapo titikkhā,
Nibbānaṁ paramaṁ vadanti buddhā;
Na hi pabbajito parūpaghātī,
Na samaṇo hoti paraṁ viheṭhayanto.

Patient acceptance is the ultimate austerity.
Extinguishment is the ultimate, say the Buddhas.
No true renunciate injures another,
nor does an ascetic hurt another.

Anūpavādo anūpaghāto,
Pātimokkhe ca saṁvaro;
Mattaññutā ca bhattasmiṁ,
Pantañca sayanāsanaṁ;
Adhicitte ca āyogo,
Etaṁ buddhāna sāsanaṁ.

Not speaking ill nor doing harm;
restraint in the monastic code;
moderation in eating;
staying in remote lodgings;
commitment to the higher mind—
this is the instruction of the Buddhas.


And perhaps

SN 22.86 - Dukkhameva uppajjamānaṁ uppajjati, dukkhaṁ nirujjhamānaṁ nirujjhatī
What arises is only suffering arising, what ceases is only suffering ceasing.

Ettāvatā kho, kaccāna, sammādiṭṭhi hoti.
This is how right view is defined.


I think that the line is better without “causal”.
“from conditions all phenomena arise.”

I think condition is almost always better in the Buddhist context than cause, the suttas are full of statements that are rendered outright nonsensical by use of “cause”.

“What is the cause of death? Birth!” This is trivially false and not what anyone means by “cause” in English.

"What is the condition (for there being) death? Birth! Birth is the condition for there being death. This is clearly true, and picks out the relation that the Buddha is constantly talking about.

Consciousness doesn’t cause a body, having consciousness is a condition for having (awareness of) a body, the senses don’t cause sensations, but having sensations is conditional on having sense organs.

Buddhism is chock a block full of descriptions of this relation, it is just about the central teaching, and confusing it with a teaching about causation causes, in my opinion, immense harm and confusion.

Hetu, which is most often translated as cause, might just as well be translated as reason, condition, “on account of”, really anything but cause (at least in the DO sequence, where it is clearly wrong).

My 2 word summary of the Buddha’s teaching:

“It depends.”


IMHO just listing the Four Noble Truths is the best for listing the dhamma as succinctly as possible.

I nominate this from Ud 1.10

“In that case, Bāhiya, you should train like this: ‘In the seen will be merely the seen; in the heard will be merely the heard; in the thought will be merely the thought; in the known will be merely the known.’ That’s how you should train. When you have trained in this way, you won’t be ‘by that’. When you’re not ‘by that’, you won’t be ‘in that’. When you’re not ‘in that’, you won’t be in this world or the world beyond or between the two. Just this is the end of suffering.”

This is now the centerpiece of my practice. I came to the conclusion that lists and metaphysics got me nowhere, but meditation has. I have since found myself meditating more and reading less.