Dependent Arising (Paticca Samuppada)
means because of, or dependent upon; Samuppada "arising
or origination." Paticca Samuppada, therefore, literally
means -- "Dependent Arising" or "Dependent Origination."
It must be borne
in mind that paticca samuppada is only a discourse on the process
of birth and death and not a theory of the ultimate origin of life.
It deals with the cause of rebirth and suffering, but it does not,
in the least, attempt to show the evolution of the world from primordial
is the first link or cause of the wheel of life. It clouds all right
Dependent on ignorance
of the Four Noble Truths arise activities (sankhara) -- both
moral and immoral. The activities whether good or bad rooted in ignorance
which must necessarily have their due effects, only tend to prolong
life's wandering. Nevertheless, good actions are essential to get
rid of the ills of life.
Dependent on activities
arise rebirth-consciousness (viññana). This links
the past with the present.
the arising of rebirth-consciousness there come into being mind and
The six senses
(salayatana) are the inevitable consequences of mind and body.
Because of the
six senses contact (phassa) sets in. Contact leads to feeling
These five --
viz., consciousness, mind and matter, six senses, contact and feeling
-- are the effects of past actions and are called the passive side
Dependent on feeling
arises craving (tanha). Craving results in grasping (upadana).
Grasping is the cause of kamma (bhava) which in its turn, conditions
future birth (jati). Birth is the inevitable cause of old age
and death (jara-marana).
If on account
of cause effect comes to be, then if the cause ceases, the effect
also must cease.
The reverse order
of the paticca samuppada will make the matter clear.
Old age and death
are possible in and with a psychophysical organism. Such an organism
must be born; therefore it pre-supposes birth. But birth is the inevitable
result of past deeds or kamma. Kamma is conditioned by grasping which
is due to craving. Such craving can appear only where feeling exists.
Feeling is the outcome of contact between the senses and objects.
Therefore it presupposes organs of senses which cannot exist without
mind and body. Where there is a mind there is consciousness. It is
the result of past good and evil. The acquisition of good and evil
is due to ignorance of things as they truly are.
The whole formula may be summed up thus:
Thus does the entire aggregate of suffering arise.
The first two
of these twelve links pertain to the past, the middle eight to the
present, and the last two to the future.
The complete cessation of ignorance leads to the cessation of activities.
Thus does the
cessation of this entire aggregate of suffering result.
This process of
cause and effect continues ad infinitum. The beginning of this process
cannot be determined as it is impossible to say whence this life-flux
was encompassed by nescience. But when this nescience is turned into
knowledge, and the life-flux is diverted into nibbanadhatu, then
the end of the life process of samsara comes about.