part2.JPG (9105 bytes)

by The Lord Buddha

Doctrine of The Birth and Evolution of Life (Paticcasamuppada)
The term Paticcasamuppam.gif (839 bytes)da is the combined form of Paticca and Samuppam.gif (839 bytes)da, the former meaning inter-dependent or inter-related, whereas the latter referring to the simultaneous or synchronized occurrence. Thus the combined form means the Buddha's Doctrine of Life, explaining its birth, continuity and evolution, describing what interdependent factors there are and how they are all inter-related, This is therefore the law of nature, existing by itself even before the birth of the Buddha and then to exist like that eternally. Hence the Buddha's Sayings, first of all concerning the Three Common Characteristics of Existence, as follows : pra_08.JPG (6005 bytes)
"Whether the Tatham.gif (839 bytes)gata is born or not, O Bhikkhus, that the Sanm.gif (839 bytes)kham.gif (839 bytes)ras are impermanent, that Sanm.gif (839 bytes)kham.gif (839 bytes)ras are all in a state of flux (i.e. destructible); and that all the Dhammas are Anattam.gif (839 bytes), are what exist eternally like that, never becoming otherwise.  Now the Tatham.gif (839 bytes)gata has realised in all respects and has consequently told the world and taught the world about it, has formulated the rules concerning it, opened it to the world, elucidated it and made it easy to understand."

- from the Dhammaniyamasutta of the Anguttaranikaya, Tikanipata, Page 368, No.576

Secondly, referring to the Doctrine of Dependent Origination or the Chain of Twelve Causation, as some scholars put it, the Buddha said,
"Whether the Tatham.gif (839 bytes)gata is born or not, the truths that where there is Sanm.gif (839 bytes)kham.gif (839 bytes)ra (Volition), where there is Sanm.gif (839 bytes)kham.gif (839 bytes)ra there is Consciousness (including Name-and-Form, Six sense-doors, Contact, Feeling, Desire, Attachment, properties of Name-and-Form, Birth, and Old age, Death, Grief, Lamentation, Physical sufferings, Sorrow, Distress) are always like that, being constant, changeless. The Tatham.gif (839 bytes)gata has realized these truths in all respects and taught the world about them, has formulated the rules concerning them, opened them to the world, elucidated them and made them easy to understand.''

-Samyuttanikaya, Page 30 No.61, Nidanavagga.

1. The Doctrine of Dependent Origination Is the Law of (the Nature of) Life.
     Its Realization Results in the Absence of God the Creator.
  1. The already mentioned Sayings of the Buddha Himself are evidence of how the Three Common Characteristics and the Doctrine of Dependent Origination are the laws of nature existing by themselves, being thereby built or established by nobody. They have been existing like that from time immemorial and will be existing like that again for nobody knows how long in the future. The Buddha is not their creator. He is only their discovered and, having discovered them, undertook to teach them to sentient beings.
  1. The Twelve Links in the Chain of Inter-dependent Factors may be interpreted as the links in the chain of the law of nature or the Cycle of Life or even the Law of Sanm.gif (839 bytes)sam.gif (839 bytes)ra i.e. of rebirths and redeaths. Dr. Rhys Davids, a Buddhist well versed in the Scriptures as well as in science, has aptly given the Doctrine another term i.e. the Cosmic Law. This indicates the fact that all lives in the cosmos are bound to function in accordance with this Law. Moreover, it is considered applicable as well to the lifeless things, all of which are intricately interwoven with the rest in an endless cycle. This in such a way as it is impossible to determine what is the beginning, and where or when it should be. The cycle is therefore beginningless and endless, since none of them can take birth or exist absolutely without some other factors in this circle. This is unlike the doctrine of God or Divine Being, who is held to have the absolute i.e. beginningless and endless existence. However, he is able to create the world and everything, in it, including the laws governing everything and all things.
  1. For those who believe in The Law Dependent Origination, they are convinced of the truth that life, based on the Buddha's proclamation ''There being Consciousness, there is Mind-and-Body'', originates from Consciousness, not from any Divine Being. who was able to create the first man and woman. This is something like a scientist who, having obtained the same results through repeated experiments under similar conditions, has come to the conclusion that things occur and change through the laws and circumstances governing them, which may be called the law of nature. This is without any interfering power of any outside being anywhere.


2. Understanding of This Law Leads to Understanding of the Truths Concerning Heaven and Hell.

With the correct understanding of the Law of Dependent Origination as earlier explained, a person is endowed with complete confidence in Consciousness, together with other concomitant Links, as the creators of life, which means life after life in the evolutionary process. This includes, not the life of human beings only, but also that of animals and plants. It is the understanding through one's own conviction and confidence, not merely through scriptures. This is because the whole laboratory of data and fact can be obtained within one's own mind-and-body, which can be applied as a stepping-stone for grasping other corollary truths such as those of other people, animals, and including rebirths and redeaths after the dissolution of this conscious mind-and-body. The Buddha's Saying in this respect may be referred to as follows :

''The Noble Disciples (from the Stream-winner upwards) are in the position to understand this earth (i.e. their minds-and-bodies), the worlds of Yama (realms of woe), this world (of human beings) and the worlds of celestial beings.''

-from the Dhammapada, Part 3, Pathavikatha.

             As far as the characteristics of a Stream-winner are concerned, there are, first of all, the three abandonments required of him as follows :

1) Wrong concepts regarding self;
2) doubts (of which there are 8 kinds) and
3) unreasonable, superstitious clinging to outward trappings.
Second comes the group of five positive, cultivated virtues viz. 1,2,3) to have an established, unshaken belief in the  Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sanm.gif (839 bytes)gha;
4) to be firmly established in Sim.gif (834 bytes)la or Precepts; and
5) to understand the Doctrine of Dependent Origination.

-From Samyuttanikaya, Mahavagga, Page 448

        It is obvious from the already mentioned Saying of the Buddha Himself how a Noble Disciple clearly understands from what life is born, how it is born and what are the contributing factors of man's life. That a Noble Disciple is said once again to be able to know this world, together with the worlds or realms of bliss and those of woe, points to the fact that such a disciple has an unswerving belief how Karma or Karmic results survive the body's death and follow their doers life after life in various planes or dimensions of life.

3. Correct Understanding of This Law is Indispensable for Correct Understanding of Life.


  1. The general belief concerning a human birth that man is born through he coming together of parents may not be wrong unless it is taken as a complete or an absolute truth. Such an absolute concept is sure to give rise to the idea that man's life begins just in the mother's womb and life consequently it is bound to end with the dissolution of the body created by the parents, there being no other existence before the womb and after the tomb, so to speak. This is in Buddhism called Ucchedaditthi or Natthikaditthi, the concept of Annihilationism or Nothingness. It is destructively harmful to both oneself and mankind as a whole. A person overwhelmed by such a concept is as a rule never afraid or ashamed of evil, lacking faith in Karmic results, be they the good or the evil ones, and thus being in a position to condescend to doing any evil of any magnitude, caring nothing of the virtue of gratitude or the whisper of conscience. The Buddha's words in the Apannakasum.gif (842 bytes)tta of the Middle Section, in the Middle Sayings, Page 101-102, No. 105 may serve to confirm this fact.
  2. On the other hand, those who know the Principle of Dependent Origination, understanding how ''There being Consciousness, there is Mind-and Body,'' are encouraged by the fact that everybody of us used to be born before and as such is destined to be born again as long as there is a grain of Kilesa or Defilement in their minds. This is inevitable coupled with the understanding that whatever they have done, be it good or evil, is sure to belong to them and to follow them to bear fruits either in this life or any of the lives to come. To them the Buddha's Saying "As one sows, so one reaps" has a deeper meaning and a long-range effect on their minds than many other people can imagine. The shame of evil is such that they cannot do evil even if they know they will be unseen and unknown at the moment. On the other hand, to do good unseen and unsung does not discourage them, either. These are instances of the benefits to be obtained from a sincere belief in the Doctrine of Dependent Origination.
4. Summary of the Doctrine of Dependent Origination
  1. This Doctrine consists of Twelve Items or Links of the Chain, a thorough understanding of all of which inevitably takes a long discussion and a lot of time and effort. Following, therefore, will be explained the item ''There being Consciousness, there is Mind-and-Body'', which is indispensable first of all to its application for solving the problems of life, at least reducing the miseries encountered in the drama of daily living. It has been observed that a person, however wealthy and prominent in social status, cannot be expected to enjoy those temporal blessings as much as they should be. Their gains appear to produce more, instead of less, pains and problems. Their causes may be traced, back and forth, to the preceding and the Twelve Links of the Chain which say ''There being Ignorance, there is Will: There being Will, there is Consciousnesss'' etc. and then ''There being Birth, there are Old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, physical diseases, grief and restlessness, Such is how the mass of sufferings occurs in an inter-related manner.''

What is worth noting from the above Links is the fact of Avijjam.gif (839 bytes) or Ignorance. This is Ignorance of how ''There being Consciousness, there is to be Mind-and-Body'' Now a person, ignorant of this truth, no matter how wealthy or prominent he is socially, just cannot help being plagued by suffering of some kind or degree. As such that person is never in a position to go beyond the realm of sufferings and problems. Those in such a position are most likely to fall into an evil way of some kind or another, with evil results so befall them either in this life or in the hereafter or both. This as long as they have not done away with their own Ignorance. Hence the Buddha's Saying to Venerable aam.gif (860 bytes)nanda.

"It is through not realising the Law of Dependent Origination, O aam.gif (860 bytes)nanda, that sentient beings cannot transcend the realms of woe and the Cycle of Rebirths and Redeaths. They become frustrated, being like a knot of inextricably entangled thread or a lump of Munjapabbajja grass that is intricately interwoven. Sentient beings trapped in this entanglement can not go beyond the realms of woe and the Cycle of Rebirths and Redeaths''

-from the Mahanidanasutta, Dighanikaya, in the Long Sayings.

  1. There is what can be called a summary of the Law of Dependent Origination in the Buddha's Own Words as follows :
"Should Consciousness, O not aam.gif (860 bytes)nanda, not descend into tile mother's womb, would Mind-and-Body take birth therein?'' To which Venerable Ananda replied, ''No, Lord.''

"It is because of this fact, O aam.gif (860 bytes)nanda, that I say, There being Consciousness, there is Mind-and-Body.''

- from the Mahanidanasutta, Dighanikaya, of the Mahavagga, in the Long Sayings.

Such is evidence of the Buddhist attitude or concept confirming how merely the coming together of mother and father cannot produce a being within the womb. There is to be an additional factor i.e. a Mind-and-Body in the fertilized egg so that the egg can develop to harbour a new life. There are the following points to consider to facilitate the understanding of the Buddha's Words :

2.1 What is the agent transforming the various ingredients in the mother's blood into substances required to nurture the life of the embryo and later the fetus? What, for instance, is the force behind the transformation of calcium into the bones of the body?
2.2 Why is it that the body's organs and their functions are all purposeful? Why, in other words, does each of them obviously serve some purpose? This may be seen in the fact that we can explain for what purpose each of them exists as it does.

               It is advisable that the above two points should be thoughtfully and impartially considered as often as possible. In fact, as regards the first point, there are sure to be many people concluding that it is just its nature like that; that calcium in the mother's blood should be transformed into the baby's bones. This has been seen to be so from time immemorial, so they argue, and it is just pointless to raise the question 'why'?. This may be compared with the falling of an apple, which before Newton stopped to think, had been taken for grant, with all further reasoning and thought bound to stop at that. Now, it has been accepted as being result of the Law of Gravity. But it is a paradoxical fact that there is little further thought concerning our own life or body and mind. Few, if any, people would care to think about the two items mentioned before. We prefer to conclude naively that it is natural and then stop there.

5. Creative Power of Consciousness

Another instance may be seen in the case of the Buddha at the time when He was Prince Siddhattha. Seeing an old man, a sick man and a corpse, he asked his charioteer, Channa why a person should be like that. The answer, he received to the effect that it is man's nature to be so, did not satisfy him. Like Newton, who wondered why the apple should not fall, i.e. float, upwards, the Buddha started wondering why man should be in such a miserable situation and whether or not there should be a way out of those 'natural' miseries. His research and the resultant discovery He had made known to the world consists in the Doctrine of Dependent Origination, which said to the effect that the mother's blood, for instance, can be transformed into the baby's bones or that all the organs and their functions of the body are intended to serve some purpose are due to the Creative Power of Consciousness. This is independent of the Will or interference of any Divine Being anywhere. It is the all-inclusive law and as such it means that every form of life is under the province of this 'cosmic law'. The creative power of Consciousness is therefore supreme in the cosmos. It is the purposeful energy of force, not a blind one. That its 'Will' Power is all-embracing may be seen and confirmed by the following facts.

  1. The Buddha possessed a kind of Insight by which He was able to see life after death. He repeatedly saw, through His Insight-eye, the fact common to all lives that immediately after the death of the body there to be another body complete with life, also with limbs and organs, including sense-doors viz. eyes, ears, nose, tongue parallel to those of the dissolved body. Such a body can move, with its limbs and organs functioning the way they used to do on the crude physical body left behind. This means such a body is not only the product of any parents coming together. It may be called the astral body, being born through the creative power of one's own Consciousness.
  2. The Buddha also possessed the Insight by which He was able to recollect former lives, both those of His own and others of anybody He wanted to know, This is the additional evidence proving how each life, on a wider perspective, does not begin within the mother's womb. On the contrary, each of us used to be born and to die uncountable times before coming here this time.
  3. Besides the twofold Insight mentioned above, the Buddha was equipped with what was called Manomayiddhi, one aspect of which is that He was able to withdraw, or to project, His astral body whenever He wanted to. This is the third proof showing how the body is really created by the inherent power of Consciousness since the astral body so created is generally similar to the crude, physical body. It is active, supple and workable, not rigid or stiff but in several aspects more active and manoeuverable. It is less crude i.e. more refined and thus, unlike the crude body which has to undergo a long period of systematic and gradual growth, spontaneously, or simultaneously, takes the shape appropriate to itself at a given moment. It takes just one moment of the mind for its fully-fledged growth and is no less real than its physical counterpart although it is invisible to the untrained eyes.
  4. These aspects of Insight enabled the Buddha to realise beyond doubt the truth how it is one's own force of Consciousness that creates one's mind-and-body. This force, or we may call it an energy, is 'Divine' in the sense that it survives the death of the body, no matter whether the body is killed in a global flood, a conflagration or a nuclear holocaust. Although the spaceship our home were to become the late planet Earth, yet sentient beings cannot be destroyed by that means. They will certainly live on in some other cosmic frequencies or dimensions of life. Their Consciousness still remains and as such their life cannot be lost. Where there is Consciousness; there is sure to be life, in one or another form or frequency. This is the general law concerning Consciousness, the only exception being those in the formless realms, who possess only Consciousness without form or body. Of course, this is a subtle truth most difficult for the minds without Insight to realise firsthand. However, there are still some evidence or data that can be applied as stepping-stones leading to the understanding of, and thus the confidence in, the Buddha's depth of knowledges as follows :
6. Stepping-stones to Understanding
  1. Substances like wood or paper will be transformed into ashes if they are burned off by fire, which acts as the agent of transformation and which is in Buddhism called Tejodham.gif (839 bytes)tu, literally the element of fire. Now, food swallowed that can be transformed into the energy nurturing the functions of the system, must first of all be transformed into energy. Just imagine what is the agent that changes the substances in the blood into the various organs of the body. Some may prefer to call it 'nature' or, more precisely, the nature of the body, and stop at that. But it is worth noting that what is called nature and the law of nature cannot exist just by itself or out of nothing. It must depend also on other laws and, more important, it cannot create anything out of nothing. An engineer building, a machine is required first of all to know the laws governing that machine and is then to build it in accordance with such laws. In other words, it is man who builds a machine; not the laws that can build it. Besides, whatever machine is built must again conform to the builder's wishes, which are, strictly speaking, the builder's will or purpose. Thus every part or piece of the machine can be found to serve a specific purpose, It is not built or created at random i.e. not by chance.
  2. An instance may be seen in the movement of the air we call wind. Whatever sound is caused by it is meaningless compared with the flow of air from a person's mouth in the form of words spoken. In the latter case it becomes voice and gives a definite meaning implied by the speaker. This obviously is because it is pronounced by the 'Will.' This may be referred to the Buddha's Saying, "There being Consciousness (characterised by Will), there is Mind-and-Body." The term Vinnnm.gif (847 bytes)nnnm.gif (847 bytes)am.gif (839 bytes)na or Consciousness here implies the Bhavanga or unconscious level, which may be rendered subconscious or super-conscious. Sometimes it is translated life-continuum, implying the uninterrupted stream of life. It is from this level or strata that there arise the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking. All these through the sense-doors of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and brain, the latter involving sensation, emotion, thought and others. These are tangible and circumstantial evidence of how Consciousness (Vinnnm.gif (847 bytes)nnnm.gif (847 bytes)am.gif (839 bytes)na) is the creator of the body, in contrast to the concept that it is created just by nature or by a Divine Being. The Buddha was able to study life, both before the womb and after the tomb, both of His own and of others, and also to create or project at 'Will' an astral body out of the physical counterpart. He based His Doctrine on such Insights, saying, for instance, ''There being Consciousness, there is Mind-and-Body.''
7. The Three Answers

So there are three answers to the question as to by whom, or by what, our life was created. The first is nature ; the second a Divine Being ; and the third one our own Consciousness. An individual is free to decide and select whichever answer is most agreeable to his or her own inclination.

It should again be noted that, referring to the formula ''There being Consciousness, there is Name-and-Form'' although it connotes the fact that without Consciousness there would not be Name-and-Form, yet the meaning should not be taken as absolute. For even with Consciousness present, there are other supplementary factors to be taken into account. This as far as birth in this visible world is concerned. A parallel may be seen in the case of the seed, which is to grow into a plant or a tree. Without the seed, there would be no plant or tree, this is true, but the seed alone, without other supplementary factors such as soil, moisture and temperature that are decide appropriate to the growth of that kind of seed, it cannot be expected to grow into a tree.

But in the cases of birth as an Opapam.gif (839 bytes)tika beings, the presence of Consciousness alone is enough to produce the Name-and-Form corresponding to the quality of that Consciousness. Thus, referring to the birth in the world of human beings, the presence of parents, together with their coming together, is not enough for the birth of a being. This is the connotation of the term Paccaya in Pali referring to the indispensable factors. Whether other supplementary factors will have to be taken into account or not, depends on the case in question as earlier mentioned. This, therefore, is contrary to what most people take for grant that birth in the world of human beings depends on parents as the indispensable factors and then on the physical environment such as temperature and moisture and no more. Few, if any, have stopped to consider how significant is the role played by Consciousness. This is because most people are satisfied with the concept that it is 'natural' that a human being should be born that way. This concept has therefore blocked all further thought and research thereby preventing them from being aware of the inherent flaw as a result thereof. It is through this ignorance that all efforts have been directed solely towards technological development for the sake of economic and social wellbeing. This is the target of material developement at the expense of the spiritual counterpart. What results from this gross negligence is plain to see.

  1. On the other hand, a sincerre and whole-hearted belief in a Divine Being supposed to be the creator of the universe and all things in it can also produce results no less beneficial. Those people, knowing how they are at all times under the all-seeing eyes of that Divine Being, who is omnipotent and omniscient, are courageous enough to avoid doing evil and to do good unseen and unsung by human beings. In his concept, that Divine Being can mete out justice to all, in proportion to their merit or deservedness, be it a reward or a punishment. His justice is therefore perfect and unlike manmade laws, admits of no failure nor favouritism whatever. These good points cannot be denied.
  2. But there is no such benefit to be expected of those who sincerely and whole-heartedly believe in the ''Law of Nature'' and rest satisfied at that. To them it is just natural that big fishes should eat small fishes and the strong should bully the weak. Thus it is inevitable, being by no means an evil, if those who are stronger or more influential should take advantage of those less fortunate. That people are born with desire, lust and greed is again 'natural' and not immoral; it is the stupid attempt to do away with those defilements since it is to them going pitifully and uselessly against 'nature.' It is the ''mission impossible'', so they argue.

Such is how the Whole-hearted and self-complacent trust in 'nature' is a blind alley, propelling no more thought or research and leading the believers into the mire of what the Buddha referred to in the Apannakasum.gif (842 bytes)tta as Ucchedaditthi or Natthikaditthi; the doctrine of Annihilationism or Nothingness. For them there is no brake nor acceleration helping them to avoid evil and do good at all, not to mention any attempt for purifying the mind. The laws of morality are to them meaningless and worthless.

  1. Now for those have correctly understood the meaning and purpose of the Buddha's Formulas in the Doctrine of Dependent Origination. It is obvious how the wellspring of morality, the sincere and devoted attempt to do good and avoid evil, will take its birth from within their own minds. They are convinced of the truth that it is through morality that they will be delivered from supering. In the same manner, how much they will be happy and prosperous depends on how much merit or wholesome actions they have accumulated. These truths become clear and obvious to them in the same way as manner of which most people will readily obey what the physicians advise them to avoid and to consume. Such people are willing to follow the rules of health and sanitation although in some cases mean having to abstain from what they would otherwise take delight in doing or eating.

That the Noble Disciples are absolutely reliable in matter of morality is due to the fact that they have realized now ''There being Consciousness, there is Name-and-Form'' or, in simple terms, how they, or rather their lives--suffering and happiness, decline and prosperity, are the outcome of their minds or, to be more precise, their attitudes of minds. These included also all outward results such as wealth, fame power, retinue, wholesome environments or realms to which they are born, -- all beings undeniablys are born of the inward source i.e. their attitudes of minds, which have spurred them to such and such avoidance and cultivation. In short, all are consequences of their own merit and evil they have themselves accumulated.

By way of comparison, of the three kinds of beliefs concerning the wellspring of morality viz. from Nature, from God and from One's own Accumulation, the first i.e. one based on Nature is most unreliable and insecure. The second one i.e. from a Divine Being or an all-powerful God can be relied upon as producing the fear of being detected and punished in case of disobedience or violation. Yet it is an absence of freedom, making a humble and submissive servant of one who believes so. The third, which stimulates a person's self-conviction and self-control, is one by which the believers are given full freedom of decision after it has been made known what would be waiting for them, should they choose to do and not to do so and so.

One significant fact regarding the Doctrine of Dependent Origination is the fact that its coverage is both extensive and refined. In simple terms, it is both wide and deep in meaning. For its understanding to be comprehensive a devoted study coupled with equally devoted practice is required. This takes time and, as a matter of course, efforts. What has been dealt with so far concerns only one of the Twelve Formulas of Links i.e. ''There being Consciousness, there is Name-and-Form,'' which can be regarded as the synopsis of the rest. One essential truth remains to be studied and understood as far as the above mentioned Formula is concerned. This is its reverse aspect or another side of the coin saying ''There being Name-and-Form, there is Consciousness.'' With both aspects understood, the knowledge as a result can be said to be reliable and secure.

8. The Benefits to be Acquired
In conclusion, the benefits to be acquired from understanding this Doctrine may be quoted from one of the Sayings of the Buddha Himself as follows:
"It has been a tradition for the Buddhas in the past, present and future that they must realise how 'There being Consciousness, there is Name-and-Form' and also how 'There being Name-and-Form, there is Consciousness, etc.' This is what is required of them all, --without realization in all aspects of which they could not have declared themselves Buddhas.''

-from the Mahapadanasutta, Page 37, No. 39 and Mahanidanasutta, Page 74, No. 60 both in the Mahavagga of the Long Sayings.


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