Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.



Suffering, Buddhist views of origination of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-F073-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 19, 2024, from

Article Summary

The Sanskrit term pratītyasamutpāda (Pāli, paṭiccasamuppāda) literally translates as ‘arising [of a thing] after encountering [its causes and conditions]’. This term, conventionally translated as ‘dependent origination’, ‘conditioned co-arising’ or ‘interdependent arising’, signifies the Buddhist doctrine of causality. This doctrine is usually applied to explain the origin of suffering (duḥkha) as well as the means of liberation from it. According to the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha discovered the law of dependent origination during his meditation on the night he attained his awakening. According to traditional accounts, he saw all his former lives and the lives of all other beings, understood the principle governing transmigration, and found the way of liberation. He then formulated the so-called Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path and the Law of Dependent Origination. The twelve elements of the chain of dependent origination were designed to explain the mechanism of entanglement of a sentient being in a wheel of consecutive lives, and, at the same time, to explain how this entanglement is possible without admitting the concept of a permanent principle, like ‘self’, ‘ego’, and the like. These twelve members are: (1) ignorance, (2) formations (volitional dispositions), (3) consciousness, (4) name and form, (5) six bases of cognition, (6) contact, (7) feeling, (8) desire, (9) attachment, (10) existence, (11) rebirth, (12) ageing and death. In addition to the twelvefold formula, there is also the so-called ‘general formula’ of dependent origination, which goes ‘when this is, that arises; when this is not, that does not arise.’

Citing this article:
Mejor, Marek. Suffering, Buddhist views of origination of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-F073-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches




Related Articles