The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 12. Nidānasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on Causation

I. The Buddhas

1 (1) Dependent Origination
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇ˜ika’s Park. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”
    “Venerable sir!” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.” – “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination? With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called dependent origination.
    “But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; [2] with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness, cessation of name-and-form; with the cessation of name-and-form, cessation of the six sense bases; with the cessation of the six sense bases, cessation of contact; with the cessation of contact, cessation of feeling; with the cessation of feeling, cessation of craving; with the cessation of craving, cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of existence; with the cessation of existence, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, those bhikkhus delighted in the Blessed One’s statement.

2 (2) Analysis of Dependent Origination
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination and I will analyse it for you. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination? With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations, consciousness … (as in preceding sutta) … Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is aging-and-death? The aging of the various beings in the various orders of beings, their growing old, brokenness of teeth, greyness of hair, wrinkling of skin, decline of vitality, degeneration of the faculties: this is called aging. [3] The passing away of the various beings from the various orders of beings, their perishing, breakup, disappearance, mortality, death, completion of time, the breakup of the aggregates, the laying down of the carcass: this is called death. Thus this aging and this death are together called aging-and-death.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is birth? The birth of the various beings into the various orders of beings, their being born, descent [into the womb], production, the manifestation of the aggregates, the obtaining of the sense bases. This is called birth.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is existence? There are these three kinds of existence: sense-sphere existence, form-sphere existence, formless-sphere existence. This is called existence.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is clinging? There are these four kinds of clinging: clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, clinging to rules and vows, clinging to a doctrine of self. This is called clinging.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is craving? There are these six classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving for odours, craving for tastes, craving for tactile objects, craving for mental phenomena. This is called craving.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is feeling? There are these six classes of feeling: feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of tongue-contact, feeling born of body-contact, feeling born of mind-contact. This is called feeling.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is contact? There are these six classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact. This is called contact.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the six sense bases? The eye base, the ear base, the nose base, the tongue base, the body base, the mind base. These are called the six sense bases.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is name-and-form? Feeling, perception, volition, contact, attention: this is called name. The four [4] great elements and the form derived from the four great elements: this is called form. Thus this name and this form are together called name-and-form.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. This is called consciousness.
    “And what, bhikkhus, are the volitional formations? There are these three kinds of volitional formations: the bodily volitional formation, the verbal volitional formation, the mental volitional formation. These are called the volitional formations.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is ignorance? Not knowing suffering, not knowing the origin of suffering, not knowing the cessation of suffering, not knowing the way leading to the cessation of suffering. This is called ignorance.
    “Thus, bhikkhus, with ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

3 (3) The Two Ways
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the wrong way and the right way. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the wrong way? With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called the wrong way. [5]
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the right way? With the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering. This, bhikkhus, is called the right way.”

4 (4) Vipassī
At Sāvatthī.
    “Bhikkhus, before his enlightenment, while he was still a bodhisatta, not yet fully enlightened, it occurred to Vipassī, the Blessed One, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One: ‘Alas, this world has fallen into trouble, in that it is born, ages, and dies, it passes away and is reborn, yet it does not understand the escape from this suffering [headed by] aging-and-death. When now will an escape be discerned from this suffering [headed by] aging-and-death?’ … [6–9] …
    “‘Cessation, cessation’—thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before there arose in the Bodhisatta Vipassī vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.”

5 (5) Sikhī
6 (6) Vessabhū
7 (7) Kakusandha
8 (8) Koṇāgamana
9 (9) Kassapa

[10]
10 (10) Gotama the Great Sakyan Sage

(i. Origination)

“Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still a bodhisatta, not yet fully enlightened, it occurred to me: ‘Alas, this world has fallen into trouble, in that it is born, ages, and dies, it passes away and is reborn, yet it does not understand the escape from this suffering [headed by] aging-and-death. When now will an escape be discerned from this suffering [headed by] aging-and-death?’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does aging-and-death come to be? By what is aging-and-death conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is birth, aging-and-death comes to be; aging-and-death has birth as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does birth come to be? By what is birth conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is existence, birth comes to be; birth has existence as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does existence come to be? By what is existence conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is clinging, existence comes to be; existence has clinging as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does clinging come to be? By what is clinging conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is craving, clinging comes to be; clinging has craving as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does craving come to be? By what is craving conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is feeling, craving comes to be; craving has feeling as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does feeling come to be? By what is feeling conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is contact, feeling comes to be; feeling has contact as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does contact come to be? By what is contact conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there are the six sense bases, contact comes to be; contact has the six sense bases as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists do the six sense bases come to be? By what are the six sense bases conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is name-and-form, the six sense bases come to be; the six sense bases have name-and-form as their condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does name-and-form come to be? By what is name-and-form conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is consciousness, name-and-form comes to be; name-and-form has consciousness as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does consciousness come to be? By what is consciousness conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there are volitional formations, consciousness comes to be; consciousness has volitional formations as its condition.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what exists do volitional formations come to be? By what are volitional formations conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is ignorance, volitional formations come to be; volitional formations have ignorance as their condition.’
    “Thus with ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
    “‘Origination, origination’—thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.

(ii. Cessation)

“Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘When what does not exist does aging-and-death not come to be? With the cessation of what does the cessation of aging-and-death come about?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is no birth, aging-and-death does not come to be; with the cessation of birth comes cessation of aging-and-death.’
    “Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: [11] ‘When what does not exist does birth not come to be? By the cessation of what does the cessation of birth come about?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘When there is no existence, birth does not come to be; with the cessation of existence comes cessation of birth.’… ‘When there is no clinging, existence does not come to be; with the cessation of clinging comes cessation of existence.’… ‘When there is no craving, clinging does not come to be; with the cessation of craving comes cessation of clinging.’… ‘When there is no feeling, craving does not come to be; with the cessation of feeling comes cessation of craving.’… ‘When there is no contact, feeling does not come to be; with the cessation of contact comes cessation of feeling.’… ‘When there are no six sense bases, contact does not come to be; with the cessation of the six sense bases comes cessation of contact.’… ‘When there is no name-and-form, the six sense bases do not come to be; with the cessation of name-and-form comes cessation of the six sense bases.’… ‘When there is no consciousness, name-and-form does not come to be; with the cessation of consciousness comes cessation of name-and-form.’… ‘When there are no volitional formations, consciousness does not come to be; with the cessation of volitional formations comes cessation of consciousness.’… ‘When there is no ignorance, volitional formations do not come to be; with the cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations.’
    “Thus with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.
    “‘Cessation, cessation’—thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.”
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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