The Doctrine of Paticcasamuppada

by U Than Daing | 1996 | 18,306 words

This book deals with Paticcasamuppada (‘dependent origination’): a Pali compound consisting of three words: 1) Patticca, which means “because” and “dependent upon”, 2) Sam, which means “well”, 3) and Uppada, which means “arising of effect through cause”. So dependent on ‘cause’ there arises ‘effect’; hence it is known in English as “Law of Depe...

Chapter 2 - Sections, Links, Factors And Periods

(refer to the Diagram)

a. Right in the middle there are Avijja and Tanha which are called the Roots.

b. There are twofold Saccas (1) Samudaya and Dukkha. As this is the Vatta Desana the other two Saccas, i.e. Magga and Nirodha are shrouded in Ignorance (Avijja).

c. There are four sections -

  1. Past Causal Coutinuum,
  2. Present Causal Resultant,
  3. Present Causal Continuum,
  4. Future Causal Resultant.

d. There are twenty factors -

  1. Past Causal Factors, i.e. Avijja, Sankhara, Tanha, Upadana and Bhava:
  2. Present Result ant Factors, i.e. Vinnana, Namarupa, Salayatana, Phassa and Vedana:
  3. Present Causal Factors, i.e. Tanha, Upadana, Bhava, Avijja and Sankhara: and
  4. Future Causal Resultant Factors. i.e. Vinnanam, Namarupa, Salayatana, Phassa, Vedana.

e. There are twelve links i.e.

  1. Avijja,
  2. Sankhara,
  3. Vinnana,
  4. Namarupa,
  5. Salayatana,
  6. Phassa,
  7. Vadana,
  8. Tanha,
  9. Upadana,
  10. Bhava,
  11. Jati,
  12. Jara,
  13. Marana.

f. Three periods,

  1. Past,
  2. Present and
  3. Future.

g. Three Vattas, i.e.

  1. Kilesa Vatta,
  2. Kamma Vatta,
  3. Vipaka Vitta.

h. There are three connections

  1. Past Cause and Present Resultant,
  2. Present Cause and Present Resultant and
  3. Present Cause and Future Resultant.

The Buddha taught Paticcasamuppada in accordance with Khandhas after observing the vanishing or disappearing of the same giving rise to another or in other words according to the law of Causal Continuum with subsequent passing away or dissolution.

The late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw after careful observation of Khandhas drew this Diagram as per attached and as such the Yogi will be able to comprehend the Paticcasamuppada is nothing but his own Khandhas and the Khandhas are nothing but the process of arising and passing away: and the process of arising and passing away is nothing but sorrow and suffering: and sorrow and suffering is nothing but Dukkha Sacca.

This is what Khandhas intrinsically are which must be comprehended are cognised by insight knowledge. Only by comprehension and cognition of it the Sassata, Uccheda and Sakkaya Ditthis be eliminated. Therefore the Yogis are urged to try and comprehend what the Khandhas show, reveal, signify and indicate.

Below is the English rendering of Maha Thera Sayadaw own verse.

Pivoted on Avijja and Tanha there arise Nama Rupa, because of Upadana and Bhava, just like the seed from the tree and the tree from the seed, the same causal continuum goes on ad infinitun. Because of Nama Rupa there arises Kamma, the True fact of this Causal continuum may be understood and appreciated with wisdom that this is not the work of the Creator-God or Great Brahma.

Another short verse.
Two in the Root, two in Sacca
Four are the Groups;
Links numbering twelve well.
Threefold Rounds and same in number connection;
Three Periods, consisting twenty factors.

Ananda Thera once said to the Buddha that to him the Doctrine of Paticcasamuppada did not seem to be deep and profound.

The Buddha replied that the Doctrine of Paticcasamuppada was deep indeed and deep as it appeared and for three times the Buddha forbade him to say so.

The Buddha said Ananda. It is due to the lack of thorough knowledge and wisdom of penetrating into this doctrine that beings become entangled like a matted ball of thread, like munja grass and rushes, unable to pass beyond the woeful states of existence and samsara, the cycle of rebirths'.

Hence it is advised that this doctrine be read and studied at the time when one is not occupied with other matters and completely at leisure. It can be said that the following benefits can be obtained by doing so.

1. When the Yogi fully comprehends the tenor of the doctrine of Paticcasamuppada he will possess the penetrative knowledge of arising and disappearing, that is, when the process of arising of Khandhas is apprehended in accordance with Law of Causality the (Uccheda) Annihilationist Wrong view can be eliminated, and when the process of passing away of old Khandhas and arising of new ones is fully apprehended in accordance with the Law of Causalty the (Sassata) Eternalist Wrong view can be eliminated.

When the intending Yogi is fully comprehensive and cognisant of the phenomenon of the arising and perishing which is nothing but the process of the cause and effect in which there is neither being, men, women nor self he can be said to be free from the shrouded veil of Atta or Sakkaya Ditthi (Egoism) for a time (Tadanga Pahana).

2. Paccaya Pariggaha nana (knowledge of Causal Law) can be gained when he is comprehensive of the process of arising and perishing as the result of the Causal Law.

3. Being fully comprehensive and cognisant that depending on or because of Avijja and Tanha and Sankhara there come into being the Pancakkhandha (5 aggregates or components) I the Yogi can dispel the wrong view of

4. Right understanding of the doctrine of Paticcasamuppada will enable the Yogi to realise that Khandhas are nothing but cumulative aggregation of the ceaseless process of the arising and perishing of physical and mental phenomena, i.e. Rupa, Vedana, Sanna, Sankhara and Vinnana. Ultimately the Yogi may attain the penetrative insight that after all Pancakkhandha is none other than the great mass of sorrow and suffering.

When the above four points are fully apprehended by the Yogi of Tadanga pahana (temporarily) he will be free from the danger of falling into the Apayagati (woeful existance in the next existence.)

Intending Yogis are advised that this doctrine should be fully understood, before they enter into actual meditation so that they may reap the benefits of the first noble, the second, the third and the fourth noble stages according to their Saddha (confidence), Panna (wisdom) and Viriya (effort).

Footnotes and references:


Wrong view that the universe is created by a Supreme being,


Wrong view that the meritorious deeds and demeritorious deeds will bring about neither merit nor demerit,


Wrong view that there is no cause to an effect, All things happen without a cause.Causeless wrong view.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: