Saṃyutta Nikāya 12

Connected Discourses on Causation

20. Conditions

At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you dependent origination and dependently arisen phenomena. Listen and attend closely, I will speak.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” those bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination? ‘With birth as condition, aging-and-death comes to be’: whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathagata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it. And he says: ‘See! With birth as condition, bhikkhus, aging-and-death.’

“‘With existence as condition, birth’ … ‘With clinging as condition, existence’ … ‘With craving as condition, clinging’ … ‘With feeling as condition, craving’ … ‘With contact as condition, feeling’ … ‘With the six sense bases as condition, contact’ … ‘With name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases’ … ‘With consciousness as condition, name-and-form’ … ‘With volitional formations as condition, consciousness’ … ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations’: whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathagata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it. And he says: ‘See! With ignorance as condition, bhikkhus, volitional formations.’

“Thus, bhikkhus, the actuality in this, the inerrancy, the nototherwiseness, specific conditionality: this is called dependent origination.

“And what, bhikkhus, are the dependently arisen phenomena? Aging-and-death, bhikkhus, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. Birth is impermanent … Existence is impermanent … Clinging is impermanent … Craving is impermanent … Feeling is impermanent … Contact is impermanent … The six sense bases are impermanent … Name-and-form is impermanent … Consciousness is impermanent … Volitional formations are impermanent … Ignorance is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. These, bhikkhus, are called the dependently arisen phenomena.

“When, bhikkhus, a noble disciple has clearly seen with correct wisdom as it really is this dependent origination and these dependently arisen phenomena, it is impossible that he will run back into the past, thinking: ‘Did I exist in the past? Did I not exist in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what did I become in the past?’ Or that he will run forward into the future, thinking: ‘Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future? Having been what, what will I become in the future?’ Or that he will now be inwardly confused about the present thus: ‘Do I exist? Do I not exist? What am I? How am I? This being—where has it come from, and where will it go?’

“For what reason is this impossible? Because, bhikkhus, the noble disciple has clearly seen with correct wisdom as it really is this dependent origination and these dependently arisen phenomena.”