Translations of
English dependent origination,
dependent arising,
interdependent co-arising,
conditioned arising,
Pali पटिच्चसमुप्पाद
Sanskrit प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद
(IAST: pratītyasamutpāda)
Bengali প্রতীত্যসমুৎপাদ
Burmese ပဋိစ္စ သမုပ္ပါဒ်
IPA: [bədeiʔsa̰ θəmouʔpaʔ]
Chinese 緣起
(Pinyin: yuánqǐ)
Japanese 縁起
(rōmaji: engi)
Sinhalese පටිච්චසමුප්පාද
Tibetan རྟེན་ཅིང་འབྲེ

(Wylie: rten cing 'brel bar
'byung ba
THL: ten-ching drelwar
Thai ปฏิจจสมุปบาท
Glossary of Buddhism

Pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit: प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद pratītyasamutpāda; Pali: पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda), commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings,[note 1] and states that all dharmas ("phenomena") arise in dependence upon other dharmas: "if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist". Everything except nirvana (nibbana) is conditioned by Pratītyasamutpāda, asserts Buddhism. This principle complements its teachings of anicca and anatta.[2]

The principle is applied in the twelve links of dependent origination teaching in Buddhism, which traditionally is interpreted as a chain of causes which result in rebirth and dukkha (suffering). By breaking the chain, liberation from suffering can be attained.[3]

Etymology and meaning

Pratityasamutpada (Sanskrit: प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद) consists of two terms:

  • pratitya: "having depended";[4] it appears in various Vedas and Upanishads, such as hymns 4.5.14, 7.68.6 of the Rigveda and 19.49.8 of Atharvaveda, in the sense of "confirmation, dependence, acknowledge origin".[5][6] The Sanskrit root of the word is prati* whose forms appear more extensively in the Vedic literature, and it means "to go towards, go back, come back, to approach" with the connotation of "observe, learn, convince oneself of the truth of anything, be certain of, believe, give credence, recognize". In other contexts, a related term pratiti* means "going towards, approaching, insight into anything".[6]
  • samutpada: "arising",[4] "rise, production, origin"[web 1] In Vedic literature, it means "spring up together, arise, come to pass, occur, effect, form, produce, originate".[7]

The term has been translated into English variously as dependent origination, dependent arising, interdependent co-arising, conditioned arising, and conditioned genesis.[8][9][note 2] dependent co-arising,[12] or dependent origination[web 2]</ref>

The term may also refer to the Twelve Nidānas, the twelvefold chain that describes the chain of endless rebirth in Saṃsāra (Buddhism).[quote 2] Generally speaking, in the Mahayana tradition, pratityasamutpada (Sanskrit) is used to refer to the general principle of interdependent causation, whereas in the Theravada tradition, paticcasamuppāda (Pali) is used to refer to the twelve nidānas.

According to Alex Wayman, the idea of "dependent origination" may precede the birth of the Buddha, and the first four causal links starting with Avidya in the Twelve Nidānas are found in cosmic development theory of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and other older Vedic texts.[13][14] Terms synonymous to Pratītyasamutpāda are Apekṣhasamutpāda and Prāpyasamutpāda.[15]

The concept of causality and causal efficacy where "cause produces an effect because a property or svadha (energy) is inherent in something", appears extensively in the Indian thought in the Vedic literature of the 2nd millennium BCE, such as the 10th mandala of the Rigveda and the Brahmanas layer of the Vedas.[16][note 3]

Dependent origination


The Pratityasamutpada teachings asserts neither direct Newtonian-like causality nor a single causality. Rather, it asserts an indirect conditioned causality and a plural causality.[19][20]

Buddhist thought, states Gethin, does not understand causality in terms of Newtonian mechanics, where "billiard balls rebound off each other in an entirely predictable manner once the relevant information is gathered".[19] The "causal link" propositions in Buddhism is very different from the idea of causality that developed in Europe.[21][22] Instead, the concept of causality in Buddhism is referring to conditions created by a plurality of causes that necessarily co-originate phenomena within and across lifetimes, such as karma in one life creating conditions that lead to rebirth in one of realms of existence for another lifetime.[23][24][25]

Ontological principle

According to Peter Harvey, Pratityasamutpada is an ontological principle; that is, a theory to explain the nature and relations of being, becoming, existence and ultimate reality. Buddhism asserts that there is nothing independent, except the state of nirvana.[9] All physical and mental states depend on and arise from other pre-existing states, and in turn from them arise other dependent states while they cease.[26] The 'dependent arisings' have a causal conditioning, and thus Pratityasamutpada is the Buddhist belief that causality is the basis of ontology, not a creator God nor the ontological Vedic concept called universal Self (Brahman) nor any other 'transcendent creative principle'.[27][28]

He who sees the Paṭiccasamuppāda sees the Dhamma;
He who sees the Dhamma sees the Paṭiccasamuppāda.

Majjhima Nikaya 1.190, Translated by David Williams[29]

The Pratītyasamutpāda principle asserts that the dependent origination is necessary and sufficient condition in both directions. This is expressed in Majjhima Nikaya as "When this is, that is; This arising, that arises; When this is not, that is not; This ceasing, that ceases."[30][31]

The Pratītyasamutpāda ontological principle in Buddhism is applied not only to explain the nature and existence of matter and empirically observed phenomenon, but also to the nature and existence of life.[32] In abstract form, according to Peter Harvey, "the doctrine states: 'That being, this comes to be; from the arising of that, this arises; that being absent, this is not; from the cessation of that, this ceases'."[9] There is no 'first cause' from which all beings arose.[33]


Against Harvey's ontological interpretation, Eviatar Shulman argues that

dependent-origination addresses the workings of the mind alone. Dependent-origination should be understood to be no more than an inquiry into the nature of the self (or better, the lack of a self). Viewing pratitya-samutpada as a description of the nature of reality in general means investing the words of the earlier teachings with meanings derived from later Buddhist discourse."[34]

Shulman grants that there are some ontological implications that may be gleaned from dependent origination, but that at its core it is concerned with "identifying the different processes of mental conditioning and describing their relations".[35]

Epistemological principle

According to Stephen Laumakis, pratītyasamutpāda is also an epistemological principle; that is, a theory about how we gain correct and incorrect knowledge about being, becoming, existence and reality.[36] The 'dependent origination' doctrine, states Peter Harvey, "highlights the Buddhist notion that all apparently substantial entities within the world are in fact wrongly perceived. We live under the illusion that terms such as 'I', self, mountain, tree, etc. denote permanent and stable things. The doctrine teaches this is not so."[37] There is nothing permanent (anicca), nothing substantial, no unique individual self in the nature of becoming and existence (anatta), because everything is a result of "dependent origination".[37][31][38] There are no independent objects and independent subjects, according to the Pratītyasamutpāda doctrine, there is fundamental emptiness in all phenomena and experiences.[36]

Twelve Nidanas

The twelve nidānas (Pali: dvādasanidānāni, Sanskrit: dvādaśanidānāni) is a linear list of twelve elements from the Buddhist teachings which are pratītyasamutpāda, arising depending on the previous link. According to Shulamn, "the 12 links are paticcasamuppada"; in the suttas, dependent origination refers to nothing else but the process of mental conditioning as described by the twelve nidanas.[39]

Traditionally the standard-list is interpreted as describing the conditional arising of rebirth in saṃsāra, and the resultant duḥkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness).[40][41][42][43][44][web 2] An alternate interpretation regards the list as describing the causal arising of mental formations and the resultant duḥkha. Traditionally, the reversal of the causal chain is explained as leading to the annihilation of mental formations and rebirth.[43][45] Scholars have noted inconsistencies in the list, and regard it to be a later synthesis of several older lists.[46]

Several series

There are various Nidana lists throughout the Early Buddhist Texts and collections such as the Pali Nikayas, the most common of which is a list of Twelve Nidānas which appears in both Pali texts and Mahayana sutras such as the Salistamba Sutra.

The 'dependent origination' doctrine is presented in Vinaya Pitaka 1.1–2, in abbreviated form in Samyutta Nikaya 2.1, 2.19 and 2.76.[47][48]

Twelve-fold chain

Ignorance - (Avijjā)Constructing activities (any action of body, speech or mind) - (Saṅkhāra)[51]Not knowing suffering, not knowing the origination of suffering, not knowing the cessation of suffering, not knowing the way of practice leading to the cessation of suffering: This is called ignorance. It leads to action, or constructing activities.[51]
Constructing activities - (Saṅkhāra)[51]Consciousness (rebirth consciousness) - (Viññāṇa)Any action, whether meritorious or harmful, and whether of body, speech or mind, creates karmic imprint on a being.[51] This includes will (cetana) and planning.[51] It leads to transmigratory consciousness.[51]
Consciousness (rebirth consciousness) - (Viññāṇa)Name-and-form (mentality and corporeality) - (Nāmarūpa)These six are classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.[49] As seen earlier,[52] consciousness and the organ cannot function without each other.
Name-and-Form (mentality and corporeality) - (Nāmarūpa)Six-fold sense bases - (Saḷāyatana)Feeling,[note 4] perception,[note 5] intention,[note 6] contact, and attention:[note 7] This is called name (i.e. mentality or mind). The four great elements,[note 8] and the body dependent on the four great elements: This is called form (i.e. corporeality or body).
Six-fold sense bases - (Saḷāyatana)Contact[52] - (Phassa)The eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are the six sense media.
Contact - (Phassa)Feeling - (Vedanā)The coming together of the object, the sense medium and the consciousness of that sense medium[note 9] is called contact.[quote 3]
Feeling (Sensation) - (Vedanā)Craving - (Taṇhā)Feeling or sensations are of six forms: vision, hearing, olfactory sensation, gustatory sensation, tactile sensation, and intellectual sensation (thought). In general, vedanā refers to the pleasant, unpleasant and/or neutral sensations that occur when our internal sense organs come into contact with external sense objects and the associated consciousness.
Craving - (Taṇhā)Clinging (attachment) - (Upādāna)There are these six forms of cravings: cravings with respect to forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touch (massage, sex, pain), and ideas.[note 10]
Clinging (attachment) - (Upādāna)Becoming (Karmic Force, similar to volitional formations) (Bhava (KamaBhava))These four are clingings: sensual clinging,[note 11] view clinging,[note 12] practice clinging,[note 13] and self clinging[note 14]
Becoming (Karmic force, similar to volitional formations) - (Bhava (KammaBhava))Birth (similar to rebirth consciousness) - (Jāti)These three are becoming: sensual becoming,[note 15] form becoming,[note 16] formless becoming[note 17]
Birth (similar to rebirth consciousness)- (Jāti)Aging, death, and this entire mass of dukkha) - (Jarāmaraṇa)Birth[note 18] is any coming-to-be or coming-forth. It refers not just to birth at the beginning of a lifetime, but to birth as new person, acquisition of a new status or position etc.

Causal chain

"Nidanas" are co-dependent events or phenomena, which act as links on a chain, conditioning and depending on each other.[44][web 2] When certain conditions are present, they give rise to subsequent conditions, which in turn give rise to other conditions.[40][41][42]


In reverse order they also describe the way to liberation from samsara.[44][web 2] The attainment of nirvana, in Buddhist belief, ends the process of rebirth and associated dukkha. It is achieved by breaking a link in the series of nidanas (links) of conditioned co-arising.[42]

Interpretation in Buddhist traditions


Asanga (4th century CE) groups the twelve nidanas into four groups: 1-3 cause of dharmas; 4-7 dharmas; 8-10 cause of suffering; 11-12 suffering.[53]


Within the Theravada Buddhist tradition, the twelve nidanas are considered to be the most significant application of the principle of dependent origination.[32]

The twelve nidanas were interpreted by Buddhaghosa (c. fifth century CE) of the Sri Lankan Mahavihara tradition as encompassing three successive lives, as outlined in his influential Visuddhimagga.[54][55][56] According to Buddhaghosa, the first two nidanas, namely ignorance (nescience) and motivation, relate to the previous life and forecast the destiny of the person. The third to the tenth nidanas relate to the present life, beginning with the descent of vijnana (consciousness, perception) into the womb.[note 19] The last two nidanas (birth and death) represent the future lives conditioned by the present causes.[55][57][58] Because of Buddhaghosa's vast influence in the development of Theravada scholasticism, this model has been very influential in the Theravada school.[56]

Yet, the twelve nidanas have also bene interpreted within the Theravada tradition as explaining the arising of psychological or phenomenological processes in the present moment. There is scriptural support for this as an explanation in the Abhidharmakosa of Vasubandhu, insofar as Vasubandu states that on occasion "the twelve parts are realized in one and the same moment".[59] Prayudh Payutto notes that in Buddhaghosa's Sammohavinodani, a commentary to the Vibhanga of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the principle of Dependent Origination is explained as occurring entirely within the space of one mind moment.[60] According to Prayudh Payutto there is material in the Vibhanga which discusses both models, the three lifetimes model and the phenomenological mind moment model.[60][61] This thesis is also defended by Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's Paticcasamuppada: Practical Dependent Origination. In this interpretation, Birth and Death refer not to physical birth and death, but to the birth and death of our self-concept, the "emergence of the ego". According to Buddhadhasa,

...dependent arising is a phenomenon that lasts an instant; it is impermanent. Therefore, Birth and Death must be explained as phenomena within the process of dependent arising in everyday life of ordinary people. Right Mindfulness is lost during contacts of the Roots and surroundings. Thereafter, when vexation due to greed, anger, and ignorance is experienced, the ego has already been born. It is considered as one 'birth'".[62]


According to Akira Hirakawa and Paul Groner, the three-lives model, with its "embryological" interpretation which links dependent origination with rebirth was also promoted by the Sarvastivadin school (a north Indian branch of the Sthavira nikāya) as evidenced by the Abhidharmakosa of Vasubandhu (fl. 4th to 5th century CE).[56]

The Abhidharmakosa also outlines three other models of the twelve nidanas, that were used by the Sarvastivada schools together with the three lifetimes model:[56]

  1. Instantaneous – All 12 links are present in the same instant.
  2. Prolonged – The interdependence and causal relationship of dharmas or phenomenal events arising at different times.
  3. Serial – The causal relationship of the twelve links arising and ceasing in continuous series of moments.

Tibetan Buddhism

The bhavachakra (Sanskrit; Pāli: bhavachakra; Tibetan: srid pa'i 'khor lo) is a symbolic representation of saṃsāra (or cyclic existence). It is found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region, to help ordinary people understand Buddhist teachings.

Tsongkhapa, following Asanga, explains how the twelve nidanas can be applied to one life of a single person, two lives of a single person, and three lives of a single person.[64]

Discussing the three lifetimes model, Alex Wayman states that the Theravada/Sarvāstivāda interpretation is different from the Vajrayana view, because the Vajrayana view places a bardo or an intermediate state between death and rebirth, which is denied by the Theravadins and Sarvastivadins. This denial necessitated placing the first two nidanas of the "dependent origination" chain into the past life.[65] The Tibetan Buddhism tradition allocates the twelve nidanas differently between various lives.[66]

Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are an expression of the principle of dependent origination, states Bhikkhu Thanissaro, because they explain the arising of dukkha which is dependently originated, and the cessation of dukkha by removing the "causes."[12] Others, such as Étienne Lamotte offer a more nuanced view, stating that only the second and third truths in the Four Noble Truths are related to the principle of dependent origination, the first and the fourth truths are mere statements and do not illustrate or apply pratītyasamutpāda doctrine.[67]

Even in the case of those two truths where dependent origination is applied, the order is different; more specifically, the second truth applies dependent origination in a direct order, while the third truth applies it in inverse order.[67] Thus, the Four Noble Truths and the pratītyasamutpāda doctrines are connected, but independent and separate, not implied.[67][68]

The pratītyasamutpāda doctrine connects the Four Noble Truths to the Twelve Nidanas doctrine of Buddhism, states Ian Harris.[44] The second truth is compatible with the twelve 'dependently originated' links from Avidya to Jaramarana (old-age and death).[44] The third truth is compatible with its reversal, which results from the broken link because of an end to Avidya.[44]


The notion of karma is integrated into its Twelve Nidanas doctrine, and has been extensively commented on by ancient Buddhist scholars such as Nagarjuna.[69] Karma consists of any intentional action, whether of body or speech or in mind, which can be either advantageous (merit) or disadvantageous (demerit). Both good and bad karma sustain the cycle of samsara (rebirth) and associated dukkha, and both prevent the attainment of nirvana.[70]

According to Nagarjuna, the second causal link (sankhara, motivations) and the tenth causal link (bhava, gestation) are two karmas through which sentient beings trigger seven sufferings identified in the Twelve Nidanas, and from this arises the revolving rebirth cycles.[71]

To be liberated from samsara and dukkha, asserts Buddhism, the 'dependent origination' doctrine implies that the karmic activity must cease.[70] One aspect of this 'causal link breaking' is to destroy the "deeply seated propensities, festering predilections" (asavas) which are karmic causal flow because these lead to rebirth.[70]

Sunyata (emptiness)


In the Madhyamaka philosophy, to say that an object is "empty" is synonymous with saying that it is dependently originated. Nāgārjuna equates emptiness with dependent origination in Mūlamadhyamakakārikā 24.18-19;[72]

Whatever arises dependently

Is explained as empty.
Thus dependent attribution
Is the middle way.

Since there is nothing whatever
That is not dependently existent,
For that reason there is nothing
Whatsoever that is not empty.[73]

In his analysis, svabhāva is somewhat redefined from the Sarvastivada-Vaibhāṣika interpretation to mean: inherent existence or self-characterization. Nagarjuna notably rejected the idea of dharmas containing svabhāva, meaning 'a self-sustaining, permanent, or unchanging identity.' If a dharma was inherently what-it-was from its own side, what need would there be for causes and conditions to bring that object into being? If any object was characterized by 'being-itself,' then it has no need to dependently rely on anything else. Further, such an identity or self-characterization would prevent the process of dependent origination. Inherence would prevent any kind of origination at all, for things would simply always have been, and things would always continue to be. Madhyamaka suggests that uncharacterized mere experiences—with no specific qualities—are designated by conceptual labels, and this brings them into being (See Prasaṅgika Merely Designated Causality). According to Nagarjuna, even the principle of causality itself is dependently originated, and hence it is empty.

Madhyamaka is interpreted in different ways by different traditions. In the Tibetan Gelug school, all dharmas are said to lack any 'inherent' existence, according to the Tibetan scholar Tsongkhapa in his Ocean of Reasoning.[74]

Tibetan Buddhism

In the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the concept of dependent origination is considered to be complementary to the concept of emptiness. Specifically, this tradition emphasizes the indivisibility of appearance and emptiness—also known as the relative and absolute aspects of reality:[75]

  • Appearance (relative truth) refers to the concept that all appearances are dependently originated;
  • Emptiness (absolute or ultimate truth) refers to the concept that the "nature" of all phenomena is emptiness—lacking inherent existence.

In Mipham Rinpoche's Beacon of Certainty, this relationship is explained using the metaphor of the reflection of the moon in water.[75] According to this metaphor:[75]

  • The nature of all phenomena is like the reflection of the moon in water—completely lacking inherent existence. However,
  • The appearance of the moon in the water is an expression of dependent origination—the appearance is completely dependent upon causes and conditions.

One of the founders of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, emphasized his respect for this relationship as follows:

Though my View is as spacious as the sky,

My actions and respect for cause and effect are as fine as grains of flour.[76]


Hua Yen school

The Huayan school taught the doctrine of the mutual containment and interpenetration of all phenomena, as expressed in Indra's net. One thing contains all other existing things, and all existing things contain that one thing. This philosophy is based in the tradition of the great Madhyamaka scholar Nagarjuna and, more specifically, on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Regarded by D.T. Suzuki as the crowning achievement of Buddhist philosophy, the Avatamsaka Sutra elaborates in great detail on the principal of dependent origination. This sutra describes a cosmos of infinite realms upon realms, mutually containing one another.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh states, "Pratitya samutpada is sometimes called the teaching of cause and effect, but that can be misleading, because we usually think of cause and effect as separate entities, with cause always preceding effect, and one cause leading to one effect. According to the teaching of Interdependent Co-Arising, cause and effect co-arise (samutpada) and everything is a result of multiple causes and conditions... In the sutras, this image is given: "Three cut reeds can stand only by leaning on one another. If you take one away, the other two will fall." In Buddhist texts, one cause is never enough to bring about an effect. A cause must, at the same time, be an effect, and every effect must also be the cause of something else. This is the basis, states Hanh, for the idea that there is no first and only cause, something that does not itself need a cause.[30]

Tibetan Buddhism

Sogyal Rinpoche states all things, when seen and understood in their true relation, are not independent but interdependent with all other things. A tree, for example, cannot be isolated from anything else. It has no independent existence, states Rinpoche.[77]

Scholarly comments

Jay L. Garfield states that Mulamadhyamikakarika uses the causal relation to understand the nature of reality, and of our relation to it. This attempt is similar to the use of causation by Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer as they present their arguments. Nagarjuna uses causation to present his arguments on how one individualizes objects, orders one's experience of the world, and understands agency in the world.[11]

The concept of pratītyasamutpāda has also been compared to Western metaphysics, the study of reality. Schilbrack states that the doctrine of interdependent origination seems to fit the definition of a metaphysical teaching, by questioning whether there is anything at all.[78] Hoffman disagrees, and asserts that pratītyasamutpāda should not be considered a metaphysical doctrine in the strictest sense, since it does not confirm nor deny specific entities or realities.[quote 4]

Noa Ronkin states that while Buddha suspends all views regarding certain metaphysical questions, he is not an anti-metaphysician: nothing in the texts suggests that metaphysical questions are completely meaningless, instead Buddha taught that sentient experience is dependently originated and that whatever is dependently originated is conditioned, impermanent, subject to change, and lacking independent selfhood.[80]

See also


  1. The Pratītyasamutpāda doctrine, states Mathieu Boisvert, is a fundamental tenet of Buddhism and it may be considered as "the common denominator of all the Buddhist traditions throughout the world, whether Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana".[1]
  2. The term pratītyasamutpāda been translated into English as conditioned arising,[9] conditioned genesis,[10] dependent arising,[11][quote 1]
  3. The pre-Buddhist Vedic era theories on causality mention four types of causality, all of which Buddhism rejected.[17][18] The four Vedic era causality theories in vogue were: [1] sayam katam (attakatam, self causation): this theory posits that there is no external agent (God) necessary for a phenomenon, there is svadha (inner energy) in nature or beings that lead to creative evolution, the cause and the effect are in the essence of the evolute and inseparable (found in the Vedic and particularly Upanishadic proto-Hindu schools); [2] param katam (external causation): posits that something external (God, fate, past karma or purely natural determinism) causes effects (found in materialistic schools like Charvaka, as well as fate-driven schools such as Ajivika); [3] sayam-param katam (internal and external causation): combination of the first two theories of causation (found in some Jainism, theistic proto-Hindu schools); [4] asayam-aparam katam (neither internal nor external causation): this theory denies direct determinism (ahetu) and posits fortuitous origination, asserting everything is a manifestation of a combination of chance (found in some proto-Hindu schools).[17][18]
  4. Here it refers to the function of the mind that cognizes feeling.
  5. This is the faculty of the mind that names (recognizes) a feeling as pleasurable, unpleasurable or neutral, depending on what was its original tendency.
  6. This is the faculty of the mind where volitions arise. It is important to note that volition is noted again in the same sequence as a cause of consciousness.
  7. This is the faculty of the mind that can penetrate something, analyze, and objectively observe.
  8. The earth (property of solidity), water (property of liquity), wind (property of motion, energy and gaseousness), fire (property of heat and cold). See also Mahabhuta. In other places in the Pali Canon (DN 33, MN 140 and SN 27.9) we also see two additional elements - the space property and the consciousness property. Space refers to the idea of space that is occupied by any of the other four elements. For example any physical object occupies space and even though that space is not a property of that object itself, the amount of space it occupies is a property of that object and is therefore a derived property of the elements.
  9. Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, skin-consciousness and mind-consciousness
  10. As can be seen, sensual cravings result only in sensual clinging, but craving for ideas results in view clinging, practice clinging and self clinging, all of which eventually lead to suffering.
  11. Enjoyment and clinging for music, beauty, sexuality, health, etc.
  12. Clinging for notions and beliefs such as in God, or other cosmological beliefs, political views, economic views, one's own superiority, either due to caste, sex, race, etc., views regarding how things should be, views on being a perfectionist, disciplinarian, libertarian etc.
  13. Clinging for rituals, dressing, rules of cleansing the body etc.
  14. That there is a self consisting of form and is finite, or a self consisting of form but infinite, or a self that is formless but finite, or a self that is formless and infinite.
  15. getting attracted, mesmerized, disgusted
  16. growing older, tall, healthy, weak, becoming a parent or spouse, rich, etc.
  17. annihilation, destruction, suicide, loss of a position etc.
  18. Since without birth no aging, death, or any of the sorrows and disappointments of life would occur, birth is a requisite cause for dukkha. Thus, the complete cessation of dukkha must imply that there is no further birth for the enlightened.
  19. According to Keown, the first five nidanas of the present life relate to one's present destiny, and condition the present life's existence. The next three dependent originations, namely craving, indulgence and gestation foster the fruits of the present destiny.[55]


  1. The Dalai Lama explains: "In Sanskrit the word for dependent-arising is pratityasamutpada. The word pratitya has three different meanings–meeting, relying, and depending–but all three, in terms of their basic import, mean dependence. Samutpada means arising. Hence, the meaning of pratityasamutpada is that which arises in dependence upon conditions, in reliance upon conditions, through the force of conditions."<ref name='FOOTNOTEDalai Lama199235'>Dalai Lama 1992, p. 35.
  2. The Nalanda Translation Committee states: "Pratitya-samutpada is the technical name for the Buddha’s teaching on cause and effect, in which he demonstrated how all situations arise through the coming together of various factors. In the hinayana, it refers in particular to the twelve nidānas, or links in the chain of samsaric becoming."[web 3]
  3. Mahasi Sayadaw: "...To give another example, it is just like the case of a person in a room who sees many things when he opens the window and looks through it. If it is asked, 'Who is it that sees? Is it the window or the person that actually sees?' the answer is, 'The window does not possess the ability to see; it is only the person who sees.' If it is again asked, 'Will the person be able to see things on the outside without the window (if he is confined to a room without the window or with the window closed)?' the answer will be, 'It is not possible to see things through the wall without the window. One can only see through the window.' Similarly, in the case of seeing, there are two separate realities of the eye and seeing. (So the eye does not have the ability to see without the eye-consciousness. The eye-consciousness itself cannot see anything without the organ.) The eye is not seeing, nor is seeing the eye, yet there cannot be an act of seeing without the eye. In reality, seeing comes into being depending on the eye. It is now evident that in the body there are only two distinct elements of materiality (eye) and mentality (eye-consciousness) at every moment of seeing. In addition, there is also a third element of materiality — the visual object. Without the visual object there is nothing to be seen..."[52]
  4. Hoffman states: "Suffice it to emphasize that the doctrine of dependent origination is not a metaphysical doctrine, in the sense that it does not affirm or deny some super-sensible entities or realities; rather, it is a proposition arrived at through an examination and analysis of the world of phenomena ..."[79]


  1. Mathieu Boisvert (1995). The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-88920-257-3.
  2. Harvey 1990, p. 54, Quote: "This [doctrine] states the principle of conditionality, that all things, mental and physical, arise and exist due to the presence of certain conditions, and cease once their conditions are removed: nothing (except Nibbana) is independent. The doctrine thus complements the teaching that no permanent, independent self can be found.".
  3. 1 2 Hopkins 1983, p. 163.
  4. ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं ७.६८, Rigveda 7.68.6, Wikisource; Quote: उत त्यद्वां जुरते अश्विना भूच्च्यवानाय प्रतीत्यं हविर्दे । अधि यद्वर्प इतऊति धत्थः ॥६॥
  5. 1 2 Monier Monier-Williams (1872). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 623.
  6. Monier Monier-Williams (1872). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 1078.
  7. Lopez 2001, p. 29, Quote: "Dependent origination has two meanings in Buddhist thought. The first refers to the twelvefold sequence of causation... The second meaning of dependent origination is a more general one, the notion that everything comes into existence in dependence on something else. It is this second meaning that Nagarjuna equates with emptiness and the middle way.".
  8. 1 2 3 4 Harvey 1990, p. 54.
  9. Walpola Rahula 2007, Kindle Locations 791-809.
  10. 1 2 Garfield 1994.
  11. 1 2 Bhikkhu Thanissaro 2008.
  12. Alex Wayman (1984). Buddhist Insight: Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 173 with note 16. ISBN 978-81-208-0675-7.
  13. Alex Wayman (1971), Buddhist Dependent Origination, History of Religions, Volume 10, Number 3, pages 185-203
  14. Jeffrey Hopkins (2014). Meditation on Emptiness. Wisdom Publications. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-0-86171-705-7.
  15. David J. Kalupahana (1975). Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1.
  16. 1 2 Florin G. Sutton. Existence and Enlightenment in the Lankavatara-Sutra: A Study in the Ontology and the Epistemology of the Yogacara School of Mahayana Buddhism. State University of New York Press. pp. 270–271. ISBN 978-1-4384-2162-9.
  17. 1 2 David J. Kalupahana (1975). Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 1–53. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1.
  18. 1 2 Gethin 1998, p. 153.
  19. Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998). A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanishads to Kant. State University of New York Press. pp. 512–514. ISBN 978-0-7914-3683-7.
  20. Guy Debrock (2012). Paul B. Scheurer, ed. Newton’s Scientific and Philosophical Legacy. G. Debrock. Springer. pp. 376 with note 12. ISBN 978-94-009-2809-1.
  21. Gethin 1998, pp. 153-155.
  22. David J. Kalupahana (1975). Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 54–60. ISBN 978-0-8248-0298-1.
  23. Genjun Sasaki (1986). Linguistic Approach to Buddhist Thought. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 67–69. ISBN 978-81-208-0038-0.
  24. Gethin 1998, pp. 151-152.
  25. Bowker 1997.
  26. Williams 2002, p. 64, Quote: In the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta the Buddha [stresses] that things originate in dependence upon causal conditioning, and this emphasis on causality describes the central feature of Buddhist ontology. All elements of samsara exist in some sense or another relative to their causes and conditions..
  27. Robert Neville (2004). Jeremiah Hackett, ed. Philosophy of Religion for a New Century: Essays in Honor of Eugene Thomas Long. Jerald Wallulis. Springer. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-4020-2073-5., Quote: "[Buddhism's ontological hypotheses] that nothing in reality has its own-being and that all phenomena reduce to the relativities of pratitya samutpada. The Buddhist ontological hypothesese deny that there is any ontologically ultimate object such a God, Brahman, the Dao, or any transcendent creative source or principle."
  28. Williams, David M. (1974). "The Translation and Interpretation of the Twelve Terms in the Paticcasamuppada". Numen. BRILL Academic. 21 (1): 35. doi:10.2307/3269713.
  29. 1 2 Thich Nhat Hanh 1999, pp. 221-222.
  30. 1 2 Gary Storhoff (2010). American Buddhism as a Way of Life. State University of New York Press. pp. 74–76. ISBN 978-1-4384-3095-9.
  31. 1 2 Gethin 1998, p. 141.
  32. Robert S. Ellwood; Gregory D. Alles (2007). The Encyclopedia of World Religions. Infobase Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-4381-1038-7.
  33. Shulman, E; Early Meanings of Dependent-Origination, J Indian Philos (2008) 36:297–317 DOI 10.1007/s10781-007-9030-8,
  34. Shulman, E; Early Meanings of Dependent-Origination, J Indian Philos (2008) 36:297–317 DOI 10.1007/s10781-007-9030-8,
  35. 1 2 Stephen J. Laumakis (2008). An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 113–115. ISBN 978-1-139-46966-1.
  36. 1 2 Peter Harvey (2001). Buddhism. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 242–244. ISBN 978-1-4411-4726-4.
  37. Ray Billington (2002). Understanding Eastern Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-1-134-79348-8.
  38. Shulman 2007, p. 307.
  39. 1 2 Peter Harvey (2012). An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge University Press. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0-521-85942-4.
  40. 1 2 Marco Pallis (2003). A Buddhist Spectrum. World Wisdom. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-941532-40-2.
  41. 1 2 3 Steven M. Emmanuel (2015). A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. John Wiley. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-119-14466-3.
  42. 1 2 Harvey 2015, p. 50-59.
  43. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ian Charles Harris (1991). The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism. BRILL Academic. pp. 135–137. ISBN 90-04-09448-2.
  44. Robert E. Buswell Jr.; Donald S. Lopez Jr. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 583. ISBN 978-1-4008-4805-8.
  45. Bucknell 1999.
  46. James McDermott (1980). Wendy Doniger, ed. Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. University of California Press. pp. 167 with note 2. ISBN 978-0-520-03923-0.
  47. Williams, David M. (1974). "The Translation and Interpretation of the Twelve Terms in the Paticcasamuppada". Numen. BRILL Academic. 21 (1): 35–63. doi:10.2307/3269713.
  48. 1 2 Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of Dependent Co-arising
  49. See DN 15
  50. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Peter Harvey (2015). Steven M. Emmanuel, ed. A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-1-119-14466-3.
  51. 1 2 3 Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, Satipatthana Vipassana, 1995, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, The Wheel Publication No. 370/371
  52. Wayman 1990, p. 173.
  53. Grant Olson (Translator) (1995). Buddhadhamma: Natural Laws and Values for Life. State University of New York Press. pp. 112–115, 171–172 with footnote 86. ISBN 978-0-7914-2631-9.
  54. 1 2 3 Damien Keown; Charles S. Prebish (2013). Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Routledge. pp. 269–270. ISBN 978-1-136-98588-1.
  55. 1 2 3 4 Hirakawa; Groner, A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna, page 178
  56. Buddhaghosa; Bhikkhu Nanamoli (Translator) (1991). The Path of Purification. Buddhist Publication Society. pp. 607–608, 794. ISBN 978-955-24-0023-0.
  57. Mathieu Boisvert (1995). The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-0-88920-257-3.
  58. Abhidharmakosa, by Vasubandhu. Translated by Leo Pruden, Vol. II, pgs 404-405.
  59. 1 2 Ven. Prayudh Payutto, Dependent Origination: the Buddhist Law of Conditionality,
  60. Jackson (2003), Buddhadasa. Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in Thailand, p.90-91
  61. Buddhadhasa, Paticcasamuppada: Practical Dependent Origination,
  62. Samuel Brandon (1965). History, Time, and Deity: A Historical and Comparative Study of the Conception of Time in Religious Thought and Practice. Manchester University Press. pp. 100–101.
  63. Alex Wayman (1984). Buddhist Insight: Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 180–187. ISBN 978-81-208-0675-7.
  64. Alex Wayman (1984). Buddhist Insight: Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 186–187. ISBN 978-81-208-0675-7.
  65. Alex Wayman (1984). Buddhist Insight: Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 184–186. ISBN 978-81-208-0675-7.
  66. 1 2 3 Ian Charles Harris (1991). The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism. BRILL Academic. pp. 137–138. ISBN 90-04-09448-2.
  67. Gethin 1998, p. 74, Quote: Dependent arising, states Rupert Gethin, is "to be understood as in certain respects an elaboration of the truth of the origin of suffering.".
  68. Ray Billington (2002). Understanding Eastern Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 57–58, 73–74 note 1. ISBN 978-1-134-79348-8.
  69. 1 2 3 Dan Lusthaus (2014). Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogacara Buddhism and the Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun. Routledge. pp. 124–127. ISBN 978-1-317-97342-3.
  70. Alex Wayman (1984). Buddhist Insight: Essays. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 179–181. ISBN 978-81-208-0675-7.
  71. Mabja Tsondru 2011, p. 67-71, 447-477.
  72. Geshe Sonam Rinchen 2006, p. 21.
  73. "Mula by Jay Garfield" (PDF).
  74. 1 2 3 Anyen Rinpoche 2012, pp. 58-59.
  75. Sogyal Rinpoche 2009, p. 169.
  76. Sogyal Rinpoche 2009, Kindle Locations 849-863.
  77. Schilbrack 2002.
  78. Hoffman 1996, p. 177.
  79. Ronkin 2009.


Printed sources

  • Anyen Rinpoche (2012), Journey to Certainty, Wisdom Publications 
  • Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2008), The Shape of Suffering: A study of Dependent Co-arising (PDF), Metta Forest Monastery 
  • Bowker, John, ed. (1997), The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford 
  • Dalai Lama (1992), The Meaning of Life, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, Wisdom 
  • Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse (2011), What Makes You Not a Buddhist, Shambhala, Kindle Edition 
  • Edelglass, William; et al. (2009), Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-532817-2 
  • Garfield, Jay L. (1994), Dependent Arising and the Emptiness of Emptiness: Why did Nagarjuna start with Causation?, Philosophy East and West, Volume 44, Number 2 April 1994 
  • Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-289223-2 
  • Goldstein, Joseph (2002), One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, HarperCollins 
  • Harvey, Peter (1990), An Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press 
  • Hoffman, Frank J.; et al. (1996), Pāli Buddhism, Routledge 
  • Hopkins, Jeffrey (1983), Meditation on Emptiness, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 978-0861710140 
  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche (2009), How Things Exist: Teachings on Emptiness, Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, Kindle Edition 
  • Lopez, Donald S. (2001), The Story of Buddhism, HarperCollins 
  • Mabja Tsondru (2011), Ornament of Reason, Snow Lion 
  • Ronkin, Noa (2009), Edelglass; et al., eds., "Theravada Metaphysics and Ontology", Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-532817-2 
  • Schilbrack, Kevin (2002), Thinking through Myths: Philosophical Perspectives, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-25461-2 
  • Smith, Huston; Novak, Philip (2009), Buddhism: A Concise Introduction, HarperOne, Kindle Edition 
  • Sogyal Rinpoche (2009), The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Harper Collins, Kindle Edition 
  • Thich Nhat Hanh (1999), The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Three River Press 
  • Williams, Paul (2002), Buddhist Thought, Taylor & Francis, Kindle Edition 
  • Walpola Rahula (2007), What the Buddha Taught, Grove Press, Kindle Edition 
  • Wayman, Alex (1990), Budddhist Insight. Essays by Alex Wayman, Motilall Banarsidass 


  1., samutpada
  2. 1 2 3 4 Encyclopædia Britannica. "Buddhism (religion)," Accessed 25 February 2011.
  3. Nalanda Translation Committee, Dependent Arising/Tendrel

Further reading

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