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The Principle of the

Dependent origination

(Paticca Samuppada)

Paticca Samuppada is only a lesson about the 12 conditioned causes. It is neither a theory of origin of life nor an exposition of evolution from the beginning of the universe.

I. Definition:

Paticca means because of, or dependent upon; Samuppada means arising or origination. Hence, Paticca samuppada means dependent-arising or dependent origination.

1. Dependent arising: Matter will arise when there are enough dependents existing.

Ex: A statue can only be built with the combination of materials, water, sun, labor....

2. Dependent origination: The origination of one thing is dependent upon others.

Ex: Orange tree is related to orange seed. Orange tree is dependent on the origination of its fruit.

II. The characteristics:

Paticca samuppada includes: Ignorance(Avijja), Activities(Sankhara), Consciousness ( Vinnana), Mind and Body (Nama Rupa), Six Senses (Salayatana), Contact (Phassa), Feeling (Vedana), Craving (Tanha), Grasping (Upadana), Kamma (Bhava), Birth (Jati), and old age and death (Jara-marana).

1. Ignorance: The lack of knowledge. It clouds all the right understanding. Externally, one cannot realize that all things are unreal and impermanent. Internally, one cannot come to the realization that the mind is pure, and continues searching for cravings. Ignorance is the first cause of sufferings which continues from one life to the next.

2. Activities: Action, the cause of miseries. Because of ignorance, the activities, both moral and immoral, arise. The activities, whether good or bad, have their due effects which prolong the life's wandering.

3. Consciousness: The ability to judge. Ignorance and activites together mislead the ability to judge. Because of the wrong understanding, one tends to have false belief regarding himself and his surroundings. This delusion hinders a person from seeing things as they really are. The sessation of joy, sad, love, hate also arise because of the same reason. Consciouness is one of the three required conditions (sensation, cells, consciousness) which forms and constitutes a human.

4. Mind and matter: Mind and matter constitute a living being, which has been formed inside the mother's body. The mind and matter (sperm and ovum cells) unite and depend on each other to nurture and promote the grow of the fetus.

5. Six senses: The baby receives the six senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and objects) from his mother to grow and develop.

6. Contact: At birth, the baby makes contact with his suroundings. Because he is very young, he can make contact but unable to analyze.

7. Feeling: As he grows older, his way of contacting with the world improves, which causes his feeling to arise. He cries to show disagreements and laughs to show his enjoyments.

8. Craving: Feeling causes the craving to arise. Passionately fond of good things and staying away from anything that is bad and hateful.

9. Grasping: Craving causes the grasping to arise. Be possessive towards the things that he loves. It is the cause of immoralities.

10. Actions (Kamma): Because of craving and grasping, actions (Kamma) arise, that lead to the sufferings in three universes.

11. Birth: Actions cause re-births It indicates the constitution of the living beings (mind and body) which is a psycho-physical organism. The length of a person's life depends upon his karma.

12. Aged and death: Aging indicates the final stage of the living stream. Death is the end of a living chain. The reverse order of the paticca samuppada will make matter clear: Aged and death are possible in, and with, a psycho-physical organism. Such an organism must be born; therefore it pre-supposes birth. But birth is the inevitable result of past deeds of Karma. Karma is conditioned by grasping which is caused by craving. Such craving can appear only where feeling exists. Feeling is the outcome of the contact between the senses and objects. The senses cannot exist without the mind and body. Where there is a mind there is consciousness. It is the result of past good and bad deeds. These activities are due to the ignorance of things as they truly are. Thus, the entire aggregation is the origination of sufferings.

III. Classification:

1. Wrong understanding: The lack of psychological knowledge which misleads the judgment both internally and externally. Ignorance, craving and grasping reflect this aspect.

2. Karma: The bad activities arise from the body and mind. Activities and karma reflect this group.

3. Suffering: The result of ignorance and karma. Consciousness, mind and matter, senses, contact, feeling, re-birth, old age and death belong under this group.

IV. Efficiency:

1. Wanting to cease the reincarnation, one has to cease the result of present and future. Wanting to cease the results, one has to cease the ignorance, activities, craving, grasping and karma.

2. Right understanding and hard practice lead to ceasational of the cause and not to be drowned in the living flux, and to be enlightened.

V. Buddhist with paticca samuppada:

1. The paticca samuppada helps us to understand the actuality of things. Everything is only the union of psycho-physical. Time is understood only through the connection between the past and the furure. Therefore, thing are not fixed or unique.

2. Understanding the constitution of living beings and the changing of life from past to future.

3. Things are not built or created by God, naturally formed, or non-cause involved. They rely on dependend origination, to form to exist and to disappear. Understanding things are impermanent and have no self, one can eliminate craving. Understanding the karma, one can change and divert them. Realizing that all things are only the due effects of dependent origination, one can change the life from suffering into happiness.

As a Buddhist, one needs to learn, experiment, practice and help other people do the same to cease rebirth and to enter enlightenment.

Chánh Thiện

  1. Ngài Ma Ha Ca Diếp - Ma-Ha Ca-Diep
  2. Ngài A Nan Ðà - A Nan Da
  3. Ngài Nguyên Thiều - NguyenThieu
  4. Ngài Liễu Quán - LieuQuan
  5. Bốn Sự Thật Cao Thượng(Tứ Diệu Ðế) - The Four Noble Truths
  6. Mười Hai Nhân Duyên (Thập nhị nhân duyên) - The Principle of The Dependent Origination (Paticca samuppada)
  7. Tám Chánh Ðạo - The Eight-Fold Noble Path
  8. Kinh Mười Ðiều Thiện - The Sutra of The Ten good deeds
  9. Thiện Ác Nghiệp Báo  - Karma
  10. Sáu Ðộ - The Six Perfections
  11. Phép Quán Tưởng và Niệm Phật - The Methods of Meditating on Buddha
  12. Bát Quan Trai - The Eight Retreat Precepts
  13. Phật Giáo Việt Nam Từ Ðời Trần đến Cận Ðại - Buddhism in Vietnam from The Tran Dynasty to Present
  14. Tình Thần Không Chấp Thủ, Tinh Thần Tùy Duyên Bất Biến
  15. Phật Giáo Là Triết Học Hay là Một Tôn Giáo?
  16. Quan Ðiểm Của Phật Giáo Về Con Người - Vấn Ðề Tâm Vật Trong Ðạo Phật -  Buddhist viewpoint On Human Beings. About Spirit and Matter In The Buddhism
  17. Quan Ðiểm Của Phật Giáo Về Vũ Trụ - Vấn Ðề Nguyên Nhân Ðầu Tiên - Buddhism's Viewpoint ON The Universe The First Cause