What Method Do We Use to End Suffering?

As the ordinary principles always advocate, it is right cultivation, the proper way of living or right living. Proper way of living is using wisdom to defeat ignorance, using knowledge to stop foolish living, or maintaining mindfulness, especially with external contacts. Right living is having perfect Right Mindfulness in life. Thus, there is Wisdom or Right View not foolishness and ignorance in one’s life. Right living is a life without suffering.

The Eleven States of Dependent Arising

The doctrine of dependent origination taught presently is not in accord with the primitive Pali suttas. What is said in the primitive Pali suttas is different from what is being passed on today. In the Pali suttas, the dependent arising is a chain of eleven states, which make up one cycle, whereas the eleven states being explained today encompass three lifetimes: the past, present, and future lifetimes. Such a dependent arising cannot be used in our cultivation.

The primitive Pali suttas state that whenever we experience vexation, the eleven states are mutually dependent and they advance successively to generate a dependent arising. For this reason, dependent arising does not have to encompass three lifetimes, a lifetime, a year, a month, or a day. A complete process of dependent arising and the suffering that ensues can possibly occur and end in an instant. If dependent arising is erroneously taught, it becomes useless and sets off senseless arguments. If it is explained in accordance to the primitive Pali suttas, however, dependent arising can provide significant benefits because it directly resolves our everyday problems.

One must first know the eleven states of dependent arising to better understand the subject:

  1. Ignorance bears Volitional Action: Volitional Action emerges because Ignorance is its supporting condition.
  2. Volitional Action bears Consciousness: Consciousness emerges because Volitional Action is its supporting condition.
  3. Consciousness bears Name-and-Form: Name-and-Form emerges because Consciousness is its supporting condition.
  4. Name-and-Form bears the Six Sense Bases: Six Sense Bases emerges because Name-and-Form is its supporting condition.
  5. Six Sense Bases bears Contact: Contact emerges because the Six Sense Bases is its supporting condition.
  6. Contact bears Feeling: Feeling emerges because Contact is its supporting condition.
  7. Feeling bears Craving: Craving emerges because Feeling is its supporting condition.
  8. Craving bears Clinging: Clinging emerges because Craving is its supporting condition.
  9. Clinging bears Becoming: Becoming emerges because Clinging is its supporting condition.
  10. Becoming bears Birth: Birth emerges because Becoming is its supporting condition.
  11. Birth bears Aging & Death: Aging, sickness, death, anxiety, sorrow, vexation, and suffering emerge because Birth is their supporting condition.

The eleven states are mutually dependent in a complete process of dependent arising. As stated in the Pali suttas, there is no gap between any of the states. Therefore, it is not necessary to classify the first two states as belonging to the past, the next ten states to the present, the remaining state to the future, and thereby explain a process of dependent arising as encompassing three lifetimes. If it is explained as encompassing three lifetimes, how can one take advantage of dependent arising and cultivate to end suffering, when the “cause” is in the present life and the “fruit” is in another? The doctrine of dependent origination being taught today encompasses three lifetimes, thus it is not helpful to our cultivation.

If you study the Pali suttas, you will discover that dependent arising is not like this. It does not need three lifetimes to complete a process. Depending on the circumstance, only one, two, or three instants are sufficient to complete a process.

Suffering Due to Dependent Arising Depends on Clinging

The suffering in dependent arising requires Clinging as supporting condition. For instance, if a farmer who is working under the sun does not cling to “Oh, I feel very hot!” The “very hot” sensation will only be a natural sensation, and not a suffering due to dependent arising. Natural sensation results from external stimulation, but because the mind does not cling to it, there is no personal feeling of suffering. Suffering in dependent arising, however, is vexation experienced due to the mind’s clinging to sensation of external stimulation. Suffering due to dependent arising requires Clinging, and it leads to the emergence of ego. If the farmer becomes agitated by thinking “Because I am a farmer, it is my kamma to do this hard labor,” he will feel dejected. In thinking this way, suffering due to dependent arising emerges.

If the heat generated by the sun on the farmer's body is treated as natural sensation, and there is no Clinging, then the ego will not emerge. Therefore, there is no suffering in a dependent arising. When there is Clinging, suffering develops totally. It is suffering in a dependent arising. If our hand is bleeding from a cut and we feel the pain without Clinging, it is natural sensation and not suffering in a dependent arising. 

Suffering in a dependent arising must come from a complete process of Ignorance, Volitional Action, Consciousness, Name-and-Form, Six Sense Bases, Contact, Feeling, Craving, Clinging, Becoming, Birth, and Aging & Death.

Buddhists understand that when the Six Roots come in contact with the Six Objects, and these Objects have value or significance, then the Six Objects support the emergence of Ignorance. For instance, suffering is not experienced if one sees a tree and stone as insignificant, whereas it will be a different matter if one sees a tiger, woman, or something of significance. If a male dog sees a beautiful woman, the latter will be insignificant to the former. If a young man sees the beautiful woman, however, she will be very significant to him. Here the “seeing” of the male dog is not relevant to dependent arising, but the young man’s “seeing” is.

Tree, weeds, and stones are insignificant in ordinary situation, but a diamond, stone statue of a divinity, or tree with special meaning can cause a dependent arising in the citta. Therefore, we may conclude that when the Six Roots come in contact with the Six Objects, the Six Objects must be significant to the viewer for them to bring about ignorance, foolishness, and confusion. Only in such contacts will Consciousness arise in the instant and advance towards Volitional Action. Volitional Action can generate Name-and-Form making the viewer’s normal body and mind abnormal and wild. Consequently, the body and mind experience suffering.

When the Name-and-Form is transformed, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind become the Six “abnormal and wild” Roots. The process then goes on to the “wild” Contact, Feeling, Craving, Clinging, Becoming, and finally Birth. Birth is the total emergence of ego. Furthermore, because of Clinging, Birth, Aging & Death, or different kinds of suffering can emerge at once.

The above is an example of dependent arising that occurs in everyday life. It is a complete process of the eleven states of dependent arising in an instant. There can be tens or hundreds of dependent arising occurring in a day without our being aware of them. For this reason, saying that the process of dependent arising encompasses three lifetimes is false.

People generally misunderstand the doctrine of dependent origination. Believing that the process of dependent arising encompasses three lifetimes is straying from the original meaning of the primitive Pali suttas. Dependent arising begins and stops with lightning speed. It generates suffering, and occurs in our everyday life.   

The Buddha Discovered Dependent Arising

How did the doctrine of dependent origination originate? In the Samyutta-nikaya, the Buddha spoke of discovering dependent arising after six years of ascetic practice. Following are what the Buddha said in the Pali suttas:

Bhikkhus, before I became enlightened and was still a bodhisattva, I had already realized that all sentient beings experienced suffering in birth, old age, death, and rebirth. If the sentient beings do not know the method for the cessation of suffering, how are they supposed to be free of suffering?

Bhikkhus, I asked, “Why is there old age and death? What are the causal conditions for old age and death?” Because I skillfully endeavored on mind training, I developed Wisdom sight.

Birth is condition to Aging & Death. Aging & Death comes from Birth.
Becoming is condition to Birth. Birth comes from Becoming.
Clinging is condition to Becoming. Becoming comes from Clinging.
Craving is condition to Clinging. Clinging comes from Craving.
Feeling is condition to Craving. Craving comes from Feeling.
Contact is condition to Feeling. Feeling comes from Contact.
Six Sense Bases is condition to Contact. Contact comes from Six Sense Bases.
Name-and-Form is condition to Six Sense Bases. Six Sense Bases comes from Name-and-Form.
Consciousness is condition to Name-and-Form. Name-and-Form comes from Consciousness.
Volitional Action is condition to Consciousness. Consciousness comes from Volitional Action.
Ignorance is condition to Volitional Action. Volitional Action comes from Ignorance.

Thereafter, I meditated on it again in another way:

Ignorance is condition to Volitional Action. 
Volitional Action is condition to Consciousness.
Consciousness is condition to Name-and-Form.
Name-and-Form is condition to Six Sense Bases.
Six Sense Bases is condition to Contact.
Contact is condition to Feeling.
Feeling is condition to Craving.
Craving is condition to Clinging.
Clinging is condition to Becoming.
Becoming is condition to Birth.
Birth is condition to Aging & Death.

Bhikkhus, the people have never heard of wisdom that conquers suffering. The Wisdom sight, Dhamma eye, and brilliance have all come about within me.

This is the dependent arising or chain of suffering the Buddha discovered when he became enlightened. The Buddha also discovered that suffering is generated by the eleven states of dependent arising. When one who is dominated by Ignorance (absence of Right Mindfulness) comes in contact with the surrounding, Consciousness emerges in that instant. Consciousness is not a perpetual entity. It is manifested only when the Roots come in contact with the surroundings. Thereafter, Volitional Action, the motive force for creating new Name-and-Form, emerges rapidly following the manifestation of Consciousness. The new Name-and-Form will then experience suffering, and generate the Six Sense Bases that sustains suffering. Subsequently, Contact, Feeling, Craving, Clinging, Becoming, and Birth (emergence of the ego) emerge one after the other. At this point, the conditions for suffering are complete. 

From what we know about Buddhism and man’s history, the Buddha was the first to discover dependent arising. After he discovered it, he became enlightened. This was how the doctrine of dependent origination originated according to the Pali suttas.

Becoming and Birth in the Language of Dependent Origination

The language of dependent origination is expounded by the Dhamma language, which is used by people who have seen the dhamma, and not by the everyday language, which is used by people who are ignorant of the Buddha Dhamma. 

If we use everyday language to explain dependent origination, there will be confusion and lack of understanding. For instance, the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree was the cessation of Ignorance. With the cessation of Ignorance came the cessation of Volitional Action, Consciousness, and Name-and-Form. Why then did the Buddha not die? When the Buddha attained enlightenment, it was the cessation of Ignorance. With the cessation of Ignorance came the cessation of Volitional Action. Why then did the Buddha not die under the Bodhi tree? It is because the language of dependent of origination is the Dhamma language. Therefore, Birth and Death do not mean the birth or death of the physical body.

If the terms are misunderstood, as when everyday language is used, then a process of dependent arising entails two forms of birth. One is the birth of Name-and-Form (from sexual union of the parents); another is birth in the next life. If there are two births, then dependent arising will be thought to encompass three lifetimes: past, present, and future lifetimes. At this point, a complete process of dependent arising will be disjointed, and it will not be in accord with the Buddha’s doctrine of dependent origination. The amusing part is, even if there are two forms of birth in dependent arising, there are no two forms of death. This is because two forms of death are incomprehensible.

According to the doctrine, the Becoming and Birth in dependent arising do not originate from the mother’s womb but from Clinging, where the experience of an ego develops; it is called Birth. This can be proven by the Pali suttas.

In the suttas, the Buddha said, “Clinging to that which brings delight.” This means when Contact brings on Feeling, no matter if that Feeling is construed as suffering, pleasure, or non-suffering-and-non-pleasure, there is “delight” in it. This is Clinging. Any form of “delight” is Clinging because “delight” sustains Clinging. When there is “delight,” there is Clinging.

“Delight” here refers to satisfaction in perplexity. According to the Buddha, “delight” is Clinging. When we are satisfied with a certain thing, we are holding on to it. There is “delight” in Feeling, thus “delight” is Clinging. Therefore, when we experience Feeling, “delight” emerges at once; it is Clinging. “From Clinging comes Becoming; from Becoming comes Birth; from Birth comes Aging & Death. This is suffering.”

Becoming and Birth come from Feeling, Craving, and Clinging. They do not have to wait for transmigration after physical death to emerge. Becoming and Birth can happen at any time and place. They can happen many times in a day. When Feeling in reaction to Ignorance exists, a certain kind of “delight” due to perplexity develops. This is Clinging; after which Existence/Birth and Birth develop. Therefore, Becoming and Birth emerge in an instant, and they happen many times in a day.

In Dhamma language, the development of the ego and ego possessiveness, which is occurrence of Becoming and Birth, can happen many times in a day, hundreds of times in a month, thousands of times in a year.

Dependent arising is a phenomenon that happens in an instant. It does not encompass three lifetimes. The process of dependent arising occurs in everyday life. Ignorance is the beginning of a process of dependent arising. When Ignorance is eliminated, the process cannot continue; then there is absence of suffering.

The Ego is Not Present in Dependent Arising

The erroneous interpretation of the doctrine of dependent origination is not only unfavorable to the practitioner but also harmful to Buddhism. The belief that dependent arising encompasses three lifetimes, which is not based on the principle of the Pali suttas, is false. It is false based whether on the words or on the meaning of the Pali suttas.

According to the Pali suttas, the Buddha said that dependent arising is successive instants of occurrences due to interdependent conditions. The process starts with Ignorance and ends in suffering. There are no other things involved in the process.

Based on the Buddha’s teaching, therefore, it is apparent that the belief of a dependent arising that encompasses three lifetimes is false. The Buddha’s purpose in teaching the doctrine of dependent origination was to eliminate fallacies, to stop the clinging to self, person, or sentient beings. Hence, the ego is not present in his explanation of the chain of eleven states of dependent arising.

Now, some people explain dependent arising as having an entity that transmigrates three lifetimes. One’s vexation in his past life is said to be the cause of karmic repercussions in his present life. The karmic repercussions in his present life again become a new vexation that will cause karmic repercussions in his next life. Seen this way dependent arising involves an ego, spirit, sentient being, or person that is in transmigration. This was what the Bhikkhu Sati falsely believed. It is against the Buddha’s teachings, where the ego is not present.

The Four Criteria also tell us that the viewpoint of a dependent arising with ego is false because it is contrary to what the Buddha taught. The Pali suttas explain dependent arising as successive instants of occurrences due to interdependent conditions. The ego is not present if the suttas’ original meaning is preserved.   

Everyday Language Cannot Be Used to Interpret the Doctrine of Dependent Origination

Name-and-Form in Everyday Language and the Dhamma Language

As explained before, the doctrine of dependent origination is not to be interpreted in everyday language. If the doctrine is interpreted in everyday language, then the following would have happened: After the Buddha had become enlightened, he died under the Bodhi tree immediately. This is because when Ignorance ceases so do Volitional Action, Consciousness, and Name-and-Form. Thus, the Buddha should have died when his Ignorance ceased. The Buddha did not die, however, but continued to teach his dhamma for the next 45 years. This means the doctrine of dependent origination cannot be interpreted using everyday language. The same goes for the process of dependent arising. The emergence of Name-and-Form cannot be interpreted by everyday language because the Buddha taught that Feeling sustains delight, which in turn gives rise to Craving, Clinging, Becoming, and Birth. The Birth here does not refer to birth of the physical body; likewise, the death does not refer to expiration of the physical body. They refer to Birth and Death in the mind: the Birth and Death of the ego.

Therefore, the Name-and-Form in the doctrine should be interpreted using the Dhamma language. In everyday language, the Name-and-Form is the mind and physical body that continue to exist after one is born. The elaborate abhidhamma says Name-and-Form has countless births in every instant, but in the Dhamma language of the Buddha, each birth originates from contact between Ignorance and the surrounding. The birth will only stop when the contact ceases. According to everyday language, each process of dependent arising has two forms of birth. Because it is incomprehensible, it is explained as involving three lifetimes. Such an interpretation, however, embraces the concept of a continuing existence. 

“State of Seeking Birth” in Everyday Language and the Dhamma Language

The difference of the Dhamma language and everyday language can also be found in interpreting the “state of seeking birth” (sambhavesi). In performing the Buddhist rite for dedication, we recite a portion of the sutta for dedication: “to grant all sentient beings - those that have been born or in the state of seeking birth - happiness.” This refers to two kinds of sentient beings: one that has already been born (bhuta), and one that is seeking birth. This is the interpretation of ordinary people in Thailand and other countries. The sentient beings that have been born are living now, like you and me. As for those who are still in the “state of seeking birth,” there is a consciousness that is without a physical shell moving around seeking birth. This is an interpretation entirely in everyday language, and not according to the Buddha Dhamma. 

Buddhism does not advocate a consciousness or entity that moves around seeking birth [or rebirth, as is usually believed]; it is a belief held by people who embrace the concept of a continuing existence. In Buddhism, consciousness emerges and expires in an instant according to the law of dependent arising. This is my opinion, Buddhism's “state of seeking birth” is interpreted in the Dhamma language; it is different from that of everyday language. Buddhism’s “state of seeking birth” refers to a state that, in the case of ordinary people, is still without vexation; a state where there is still the absence of Craving, Clinging, or holding on to self.

It is normal for Craving, Clinging, and the holding on to ego and ego possessiveness to exist in everyday life, but they are inactive most of the times. For instance, those of you sitting there listening are without the ego because you do not crave or cling to anything. You do not have the illusion of an ego. You are just sitting there, listening naturally, and you are in a normal and blank state. When strong Craving and Clinging emerge, however, intense suffering follows. Ordinary people thus live in two states: where one is “born” because there is Craving, Clinging, and a suffering self, and where one is in a “state of seeking birth.” They are the objects of the Buddhist rite for dedication: those that are “born” and foolish and those that are in a “state of seeking birth” and oblivious of what is happening.

The “state of seeking birth” awaits the birth of the ego and ego possessiveness. It is a sorry state because the ego and ego possessiveness are ready to emerge at any time. When one loses Right Mindfulness, and the ego and ego possessiveness develop out of contact between Ignorance and the surrounding, there is “birth.” This “birth” of the ego and ego possessiveness, caused by greed or anger, is, however, short lived. Once greed or anger disappears, the “born” [birth of the ego] expires and returns to a “state of seeking birth.” Then again, from the “state of seeking birth” comes the “birth” of the ego and ego possessiveness because of craving, anger, hatred, or fear. The process of dependent arising is thus repeated. In each process of dependent arising, “birth” is realized because of causal conditions. When these causal conditions disappear, the “born” expires and returns to a “state of seeking birth.”

This interpretation of the “state of seeking birth” is useful in cultivation because the practitioner can take advantage of and benefit from it; unlike with ordinary people’s interpretation, where the consciousness leaves the body and moves around seeking birth after death. I do not believe the “state of seeking birth” should be interpreted according to everyday language. It is irrelevant to the doctrine of dependent origination, and not beneficial to us. Worse, it embraces the concept of a continuing existence. 

My unorthodox belief can be proven using the Pali suttas. They are found in the record of the material food (kabalinkarahara), contact food (phassahara), thought food (manosancetanahara), and consciousness food (vinnanahara) in the Samyutta-nikaya. The Buddha said the Four Foods [cattaro ahara] enable the “born” to live, and they nourish the “state of seeking birth.”

In explaining the Four Foods, the Buddha also used analogy of the Four Foods in everyday events. We are sentient beings that are “born” and in a “state of seeking birth” at any day. The function of the Four Foods is to continue nourishing the “state of seeking birth,” but their special effect is continually sustaining those that are already “born” (sentient beings that are born).

This example allows everyone to understand that there are two interpretations of the “born” according to everyday language and the Dhamma language. The important thing is for everyone to know which interpretation directly benefits the cultivation of the Buddha Dharma. Only the interpretation according to the Dhamma language can benefit one's cultivation.

We must stop all “births” and “states of seeking birth” by properly cultivating according to the doctrine of dependent origination, and by disallowing the emergence of the ego and “state of seeking birth.” To stop “birth” or the “state of seeking birth,” the Four Foods must be totally eliminated. The Four Foods must not be allowed to become significant and initiate volitional action. With this kind of understanding, our cultivation can benefit from the doctrine of dependent origination.   

Suffering in the Dhamma Language

Suffering has many meanings. In the Dhamma language, it refers to dependent arising. In Pali, there can be suffering, the cause and end of suffering, and the pathway to the cessation of suffering, which is the development and cessation of dependent arising. Suffering has a special meaning in dependent arising. Suffering is due to Ignorance, which bears Volitional Action. Volitional Action bears Consciousness, and the process continues until suffering comes about. This is the development of suffering according to the doctrine of dependent origination.

In the Samyutta-nikaya, dependent arising is referred to as the warped path. What is warped path? It is the process of dependent arising that leads to suffering. What is the True Path? It is the cessation of dependent arising, where the different states gradually die out until suffering is totally eliminated. The True Path is the right path, whereas the warped path is the wrong path.

The meaning of suffering here is different because it refers specifically to suffering after Clinging emerges. Therefore, meritorious kamma is suffering; non-meritorious kamma is suffering; imperturbable kamma is also suffering.

Volitional Action in dependent arising is a causal condition for suffering. Meritorious acts [Volitional Action] can also lead to suffering, but ordinary people do not know this. They believe meritorious acts bear pleasure. The truth is meritorious acts bear meritorious kamma, non-meritorious acts bear non-meritorious kamma, and imperturbable acts bear imperturbable kamma. There is still suffering in these three kinds of act [Volitional Action] because they sustain Clinging. One holds on to meritorious kamma, non-meritorious kamma, and imperturbable kamma because of Clinging. Thus, suffering has special meaning in dependent arising.

It is easy to comprehend that non-meritorious kamma is wrong and suffering, but both meritorious and imperturbable kammas are also suffering and wrong because they bear Clinging. Imperturbable kamma is not affected by meritorious or non-meritorious kamma, but the self is present in it. “Imperturbable” persons are often times called Brahman. Although they are not tainted with meritorious or non-meritorious kamma, the self is still present in them. Their mind may be “imperturbable” while in meditation, but Clinging emerges because the self holds on the ego's imperturbable acts. Therefore, it still is suffering.

Ordinary people believe goodness is preferable. In the language of dependent arising, however, all is suffering. Meritorious kamma is suffering; beauty is suffering; happiness is suffering. As long as something is the result of volitional action, and it can cause successive volitional actions, then it is suffering. As long as the law of dependent arising applies, then it is suffering.

Dependent Arising and the Baby

Dependent arising emerges from Clinging, and not from only thought and feeling. Therefore, it is not applicable to the fetus inside the womb. This is because Ignorance, Craving, and Clinging have not yet developed in the fetus. The Majjhima-nikaya tells about the birth of the baby up to the point where dependent arising occurs. In the sutta, the Buddha explicitly describes how human life is formed.

The Buddha said that when a child sees form through eye consciousness, he experiences craving for the delightful and shows disgust for the disagreeable. Because the child is without Right Mindfulness, Ignorance is present. He is dominated by habit and characteristic, and does not know deliverance through Wisdom. Hence, when he experiences the Five Sensual Desires (sight, sound, odor, taste, and touch), his mind is readily affected by contacts with the surrounding. If Right Mindfulness and Wisdom are present, however, there can be cessation of the notion of goodness and evilness.

Dependent Arising Occurs and Ends in a Flash

We are unaware that a process of dependent arising begins and ends in a flash. Within this very short period of time, the eleven states or twelve links of dependent arising are manifested successively. For instance, when we become angry, suffering emerges. In an instant, we already experience suffering because of anger. We are unaware that all the eleven states, from Ignorance through Birth, occur and end successively in that instant. When our eyes see the surrounding, we experience craving or anger immediately. The process happens in an instant, and it is dependent arising.

The Buddha taught about the mundane world, its cause and cessation, and method for the cessation of the mundane world in the Samyutta-nikaya.

Bhikkhus, how is the mundane world formed? When the eye sees things, eye consciousness is produced. The integration of the three is Contact. Contact is causal condition of Feeling. Feeling is causal condition of Craving. Craving is causal condition of Clinging. Clinging is causal condition of Becoming. Becoming is causal condition of Birth. Birth is causal condition of aging, sickness, and death. Bhikkhus, this is how the mundane world is formed.

A process of dependence arising is the “volitional action of the mundane world” the Buddha spoke of. The emergence of suffering is the volitional action of the mundane world. All these occur when Consciousness emerges through contacts between the Six Sense Bases (Roots) and surrounding (Objects).

It is difficult to detect how Volitional Action, Consciousness, Name-and-Form and Six Sense Bases manifest through the volitional action of Ignorance in two or more successive occurrences of a process of independent arising because they happen in a flash. What we can experience first is Feeling, the feeling of suffering, delight, joy, or melancholy. The cessation of the mundane world is similar to the cessation of suffering. With the end of Ignorance comes the end of Volitional Action; with the end of Volitional Action comes the end of Consciousness, and so on. This was how the Buddha explained it.

A Dependent Arising Within Dependent Arising

The basic principle of dependent arising is quite unique; it is called the “radiant wheel.” Here the process of dependent arising goes into a process of termination of itself [what others call the Transcendental Order of Dependent Origination]. The amusing thing is it shows the “meritorious effect of suffering.”

The Buddha talked about the stages of ending suffering. “I will explain the cessation of influxes (asava) only to wise people or people who see truth.” The Buddha said that when one clearly sees the beginning and end of the Five Aggregates (form, feeling, thinking, volition, consciousness), the influxes within him end because of Wisdom. The Buddha was able to pronounce this Truth because he had seen and realized it.

When influxes end, the Wisdom sight appears and reflects the citta that is now free of influxes. The Wisdom that initiates cessation appears when one abandons greed [becoming dispassionate]. Dispassion comes from disenchantment. Disenchantment is experienced because of ultimate Wisdom or having the Wisdom sight to see Truth. The Wisdom sight to see Truth arises from samadhi. Samadhi arises from bliss. Bliss arises from calmness. Calmness arises from rapture. Rapture arises from contentment. Contentment arises from having faith. Faith is an upshot of suffering.

In the process of dependent arising, suffering comes from Birth. Birth comes from Becoming. Becoming comes from Clinging. Clinging comes from Craving. Craving comes from Feeling. Feeling comes from Contact. Contact comes from Six Sense bases. Six Sense Bases comes from Name-and-Form. Name-and-Form comes from Consciousness. Consciousness comes from Ignorance.

As shown above, the cessation of influxes must proceed in the order of a process of dependent arising, which arrives at faith. If we believe in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, and the cessation of suffering through cultivation, then it is called faith.

Faith is condition to contentment.
Contentment is condition to rapture.
Rapture is condition to calmness.
Calmness is condition to bliss.
Bliss is condition to samadhi.
Samadhi is condition to Wisdom sight to see Truth.
Wisdom sight to see Truth is condition to disenchantment.
Disenchantment is condition to dispassion.
Dispassion is condition to deliverance.
Deliverance is condition to the Wisdom that initiates cessation towards nibbana.  

This shows that the cessation of influxes must start with faith, and faith comes from suffering. This seems paradoxical but without suffering, we would not be forced to seek the protection of the Buddha. When we are like refugees scampering towards the Buddha, we are determined and we believe in the Buddha because we have experienced the burdens of suffering. Therefore, suffering becomes a causal condition of faith. Essentially, suffering becomes a positive experience.

The purpose of the Buddha in explaining that faith comes from suffering is to keep us from feeling sadness, fear, and inadequate. If we apply the doctrine of dependent origination in everyday life, suffering will be the foundation of faith. Faith supports the Buddha Dhamma, helping us to cultivate for the cessation of influxes. Suffering, seen in this light, becomes beneficial.  

Conclusion

1.   The mundane world, its cause and cessation, and method for the cessation of the mundane world result from the beginning or end of a process of dependent arising, which is produced when the Six Roots come in touch with the Six Surroundings. All these happen to man when he is still alive.

2.   The states of dependent arising do not encompass three lifetimes or extend to the next life as is understood using everyday language. The interpretation of “paticca” does not allow such extension. “Paticca” means a chain of mutual dependency. The chain is so closely linked such that nothing can be inserted into it. It is a series of occurrences that cannot be divided into three life existences or lifetimes. Dependent arising is related to the Four Noble Truths, and there is no reason to break up its eleven states.

3.   Dependent arising begins when Contact is experienced by a child who is old enough to understand certain things. The Contact is not one of Wisdom but of Ignorance, an absence of Right Mindfulness. 

4.   The doctrine of dependent origination reveals the truth about the beginning and end of suffering. It does not tell us that man owns suffering and has to retain it over many lifetimes. The owner of suffering is not present; no receiver is present when suffering occurs. The doctrine likewise tells the practical principle of causality. Only the Buddha's doctrine of dependent origination can reveal such Truth.

When I was still a student of Buddhism, I had no choice but to study a doctrine of dependent origination that was against the Buddha’s original proclamation. Later, when I became a teacher of Buddhism, I went against the essence of the Buddha’s doctrine by teaching that the process of dependent arising encompassed three lifetimes. I accept my mistake and ask for forgiveness. I have spent decades studying the doctrine of dependent origination to discover that it is within our grasp, that we can apply it in our everyday life through Right Mindfulness. When we are able to block dependent arising at the instant of a Contact, the Buddha’s doctrine becomes beneficial and practical to us.   

How do we apply the doctrine of dependent origination? When there is contact with surrounding, one has to maintain Right Mindfulness to keep Ignorance from developing into suffering. 

 

I hope everyone will possess the right intelligence to correctly understand the doctrine of dependent origination. My interpretation of the doctrine of dependent origination might be criticized not only by Thai Buddhists but also by Buddhists all over the world because dependent arising is generally understood to extend over lifetimes. I was the target of severe criticisms in Thailand when I explained the concept of void and commented on the adhidhamma before. I am sure my interpretation of the doctrine of dependent origination will likewise be criticized. Nevertheless, because I am Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, I must perform my duty. I know what is right or wrong. I shall oppose to the end anything that I know is harmful to the Buddha Dhamma. I am not afraid of criticisms.

An applicable doctrine of dependent origination is what the Buddha realized and taught. If we embrace it, we can be able to end our suffering. A dependent arising, where the self or a main body is not present, is one that belongs to an ideal and practical doctrine.

I am offering this book to enthusiasts of Buddhism so that they can correctly practise the Buddha Dhamma.

 

Buddhist calendar Year 2521 (1978)  Wisakha Bucha Day [Buddha's birthday]

 

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Notes: The translation is based on my interpretation of ideas in the Chinese version of the book. This is a continuing project, so the contents will be revised and edited from time to time. Information in brackets and word italicization are mine.   

Visit my other pages:

The Impermanence of Dharma , Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra (The Heart Sutra),

and Fundamental of Dependent Origination: Conditions

 

 

Johnson Sumpio

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