What are the good books, articles you have come across for Dependent Origination?

Some of the books that I have come across are:

  1. https://buddhadhamma.github.io/ - by Bhikkhu P. A. Payutto
  2. Titlepage | The Shape of Suffering - by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu
  3. https://bswa.org/teaching/paticca-samuppada-dependent-origination/ - by Ajahn Brahm

would love to hear if you have across any good explanations of DO.

With Metta


Here’s what I’ve compiled:



See “Chapter 6. Causal condition” pp. 150-205 in the following book by Choong Mun-keat:


Although I think it has some unnecessary detail, I still quite like the Visuddhimagga’s explanation of it.

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A Note on Paṭiccasamuppāda - by ven. Ñāṇavīra Thera


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With regards to Ven. Ñaṇavīra, people should keep in mind his approach is a bit unorthodox; to be polite about it.

There is a thread which has already discussed this and Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Brahm’s responses.


Here’s a page that compares different interpretations Paticca Samuppada

Personally I like Ven Nanavira’s, which someone already linked, Ven Punnaji and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, they’re all unconventional/unorthodox but they seem to be the most consistent with the suttas.


Buddhadasa - Translations

There’s also Ven Dhammavuddho’s which is also closer to the suttas https://www.vbgnet.org/Articles/Conditioned-Arising-of-Suffering-2018.pdf


At the risk of opening something discussed many times on this forum, the suttas say the following

DN15 Mahānidānasutta
21.1‘Consciousness is a condition for name and form’—that’s what I said. And this is a way to understand how this is so.
21.2If consciousness were not conceived in the mother’s womb, would name and form coagulate there?”

21.3“No, sir.”

21.4“If consciousness, after being conceived in the mother’s womb, were to be miscarried, would name and form be born into this state of existence?”

21.5“No, sir.”

The Buddha is clearly talking about rebirth with wombs, mothers and babies; not birth into mind moments.

We can say we ‘like’ a certain concept but not being stream enterers we really have no idea what the Buddha was talking about except from an inferential level. So our likes and dislikes should be questioned.


For a technical explanation, although the language is sometimes a bit dense and it does not, in my opinion, consider the influence of brahmanical ideas enough, I like Bhikkhu Bodhi’s works. The introduction to the Nidana Samyutta (SN12) in Collected Discourses of the Buddha is a good place to start, if you have it. I don’t think it’s available for free. Perhaps a bit too elaborate for the newcomer, but still good regardless, is the introduction to his translation of the Mahanidana Sutta (DN15): https://www.bps.lk/olib/bp/bp211s_Bodhi_Great-Discourse-n-Causation.pdf

While searching for that link I came across this. I haven’t watched it, but I trust Venerable will do a decent job of explaining it:

Although not a book, I can also recommend (of course :crazy_face:) a workshop Ajahn Brahmali and I gave a year or two ago.


It’s not about likes/dislikes, it’s about equally valid interpretations. The Buddhadasa folk and perhaps Nanavira as well would say that Dependent Origination refers to the whole mass of suffering, and suffering isn’t found in the aggregates themselves but the clinging aggregates. Suffering happens in the mind, therefore they would say that Dependent Origination refers to the mind, not the physical rebirth, since also formless beings are affected by Dependent Origination and they do not have wombs. They would also say that Bhava refers to rising of the being in the mind, the birth of an ego, since again one has bhava even if one is formless.

This stuff can get quite detailed, so here’s a detailed interpretation by a Buddhadasa follower explaining why Dependent Origination doesn’t refer to physical rebirth. Dependent Origination Defined From The Pali Suttas | PDF

He lists the different definitions of jati, and that childbirth is 'vijāyati’ and makes the case that jati doesn’t refer to physical birth, but to ownership of objects:

And what may be said to be subject to birth (jātidhammaṃ)? Wife and children are subject to birth, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver are subject to birth. These acquisitions (upadhayo) are subject to birth; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to birth, seeks what it also subject to birth.

  • mn 26

‘The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise in the world headed by aging-and-death: this suffering has acquisition (upadhi) as its source, acquisition as its origin; it is born (jātikaṁ ) and produced from acquisition. When there is no acquisition, aging-and-death does not come to be.’

  • SN 12.66

He also explains that ‘nivāsa’ doesn’t mean past births but past homes/abodes, with sutta references as well.

Another argument is that Dependent Origination is a Supermundane view, and that those with Supermundane view do not see beings as the 5 aggregates but as the 3 poisons. It’s only those with Mundane view that assume the 5 aggregates are beings. Thus Dependent Origination refers to the arising of suffering, which is the 3 poisons, not the 5 aggregates, and thus the 3 poisons lead to the arising of a being/ego.

Now of course people can disagree with such interpretations and take it to mean physical rebirth or even the 3 life model, to each their own. One has to decide which interpretation or theory they think is valid, I go by 2 guidelines:

The Gotami sutta states that the true dhamma leads to dispassion and renunciation, and in other suttas that the true dhamma is visible here and now, and this means the 3 poisons. Now my own physical birth is not visible to me here and now since it happened long ago, let alone rebirth, and I don’t see how that leads to dispassion. However seeing the 3 poisons arise means I will suffer and thus I become dispassionate and let go of the object the 3 poisons were aimed at.

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Sometimes i am not unsure. About this topic i am not insecure.

Ofcourse there is becoming in this life, in real time too. Emotiones and tendencies arise, there is grasping that emotions and tendencies, there is birth in a certain mentallity (dependend on the kind of emotion) and ones existence becomes that mentallity. Then at a certain time this all decays and end. The grasped emotion and mentallity vanishes. The constructed reality deconstructs again. Untill again emotions and tendencies are grasped, fed, and once again becomes ones home for a while.

One cannot denie these cycles exist and are, ofcourse, Paticca Samuppada. I have seen that they are called: Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda cycle.

There is also becoming, PS, after death (Akusala-Mūla Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda)

The Buddha saw how becoming in real time and becoming after death relate. If in this life we often take birth as an animal, for example, with a primitive, agressive mentallity towards something or someone, and make this a strong habit, the subtle body will after death be shaped as an agressive animal and be born that way.

What we feed in this life, in real time, that will feed the rebirth process too and give shape to our future life. This global principe is described in the sutta’s.

In Pa Auk Sayadaw’s knowing and seeing, there is an explanation of how to practice in order to see the actual mind moments of Dependent Origination for oneself, including the near-death and rebirth-linking moments of consciousness that are referred to in the Mahanidana sutta that Passana offered.

It requires either very strong access concentration or jhana to be able to discern the cycle. A western teacher that Pa Auk Sayadaw authorized to teach this is Beth Upton. If you look up her name and ‘compilation of teachings on dependent origination’ you can find a video of Q&As from a retreat on the subject. With metta and respect :pray:


Welcome to the community @melissa ! Enjoy exploring all the wonderful resources available here.

If you have any questions or need any help, please feel free to ask; just tag @moderators in a topic or send a PM.

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