I The General Principle of Dependent Origination
"This being; that exists. Through the arising of this
that arises. This not being, that does not exist; through the
ceasing of this; that ceases."
imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti, imassuppādā idaṃ uppajjati. imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti, imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati [SN 2,1,3,1]
This is a statement of the Law of Causality. It states that the
universe follows fixed laws. This denies theories of chance
arising, predetermination by a supreme overlord etc. The Dep. Org.
is the middle way between creationism and mechanical
II The Specific Dependent Origination
This whole series of twelve links represents a detailed
exposition of the first and second noble truths. It answers the
question "How did this whole mass of suffering come to be?"
- 1 Ignorance - avijjā
- Ignorance of the Four Noble Truths in particular. That is to
say, not seeing the realities of suffering and its origin.
- 2 Volitional Formations - saṅkhārā
- Acts of the will in body, speech or mind. The making of
- 3 Consciousness - viññāṇa
- Knowing the sensory objects through the six types of
consciousness, i.e. vision, hearing , smell, taste, touch and
- 4 Body-Mind - nāmarūpa
- The physical body and the three mental aggregates excluding
consciousness, i.e. mental formations, perception and feeling.
These together are sometimes called the mental body.
- 5 Sixfold Base- saḷāyatana
- The psycho-physical bases of the six senses. The sense organs
and their associated mental factors.
- 6 Contact - phassa
- Sensory impingement. The coming together of three factors; the
physical organ, its object and consciousness. Example - visual
contact is the coming together of light waves and the sensitive
cells of the retina together with conscious awareness.
- 7 Feeling - vedanā
- Pleasant, unpleasant or neutral emotional reaction to sense
- 8 Craving - taṇhā
- Craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence, craving for
nonexistence. NB the link between feeling and craving is the key
point where the cycle can be broken and liberation can occur.
- 9 Clinging - upādāna
- The intensification of craving to the level of obsession.
Defilement is very difficult to deal with if it has been allowed to
develop to this stage. Four kinds of clinging are listed; clinging
to sense pleasure , to views, to rites and rituals and to the
doctrine of a self.
- 10 Becoming - bhava
- Coming into existence or being. There are three levels of
being; sensual, fine-material and immaterial. These correspond to
sensory, jhanic and formless jhanic consciousness. Also to
existence in the various realms. Sensual being includes the lower
realms, human and sensual heavens. Fine-material includes the
brahma realms and immaterial the realm of formless deities. NB
nibbana is outside all of these realms and is not a type of
becoming at all.
- 11 Birth - jati
- The emergence into one or another order of beings.
- 12 Old Age and Death- jarāmaraṇa
- The inevitable result of being born.
III The Transcendental Dependent Origination
This is a series from the Upanisa Sutta [SN 2,1,3,3] showing the
third and fourth truths. In other words, this is the causal
sequence of liberation.
Links 1 through 10 are the same as in the general series.
- 12 Suffering - dukkha
- The difference here is that one is conscious of the suffering
inherent in existence so the inevitable progression of birth, aging
& death is not mindless. This awareness of a problem allows the
emergence of a solution.
- 13 Faith -saddhā
- This is the first glimpse that there is light at the end of the
tunnel. Faith is needed at this juncture because it is all you have
to rely on.
- 14 Joy -pāmojja
- The first result of faith is an emotional lightening. This is
the pure happiness that arises from devotional practise.
- 15 Rapture-pīti
- The intensification of that joy together with a deepening
unification of mind gives rise to rapture experiences. This is
counted a factor of the first two jhanas.
- 16 Tranquillity - passaddhi
- This is the deep meditative peace that is on the other side of
joy and rapture.
- 17 Bliss- sukha
- The subtle happiness of the calmed and purified mind.
- 18 Concentration - samādhi
- The fully unified state of mind. This mind is wieldy and
malleable; i.e. fit to do the work of insight.
- 19 Knowledge and Vision of Things as They Are - yathābhūtañāṇadassana
- This refers to the direct seeing that is done in Insight
Meditation. Direct understanding of mind and body, rise and fall,
and the three characteristics of suffering, impermanence and
- 20 Disenchantment- nibbidā
- Having seen things in their real nature one becomes
dis-enchanted like one awakening from a magic spell. Having seen
reality clearly one is no longer fooled thereby.
- 21 Dispassion - virāga
- Having seen the reality of samsara clearly in the previous
stages, one loses interest in all objects of desire.
- 22 Liberation- vimutti
- Without the motive force of desire for becoming the wheel is
broken and samsara transcended. This is the realization of nibbana,
the ultimate human experience.
- 23 Knowledge of Destruction of the Cankers- āsavakkhayeñāṇa
- The enjoyment of the fruit. An end to all suffering and
See "The Transcendental Dependent Arising"
by Bhikkhu Bodhi for a detailed explanation. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel277.html )