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.
must first know the eleven states of dependent arising to better
understand the subject:
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.
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.
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.
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
The Buddha Discovered Dependent Arising
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:
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?
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.
condition to Aging & Death. Aging & Death comes from Birth.
I meditated on it again in another
condition to Volitional Action.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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]
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.
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