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SN 2.12.1
SN 2.12.35

The trick, in all cases here, is not to attempt to find the 'cause' of a thing, i.e., dukkha, but to find the one single thing without which dukkha cannot appear, i.e., hunger/thirst, tanha.

The second 'Truth' does not say: The cause of dukkha is tanha. It does say, the thing supporting the appearance of dukkha is tanha.

However this word is translated [result's in, has the repercussion of, rebounds as, — or, the other way around: depends on, is rooted in, grounded in — causes] it should be kept in mind that it was possible for Sariputta to achieve Stream-entry by hearing just the below quote. In other words, if it is not possible using this quote in translation for one to attain Stream-entry by that, it is not translated properly.

Both Nyanaponika Thera and Bhk. Thanissaro translate as a general statement that the Buddha points out the causes of all things.

Listening to the Buddha explain the cause of each thing one at a time, one might get the idea (if it were 'cause') that 'cause' was to be understood, but simply being told that he does explain the causes does not give us the cause or explanation of anything. There is no new ground there for the arising of the Eye of Dhamma.

Also, I do not see how it can be said, as it so often is, that the notion of causes was revolutionary at the time when there are a half dozen words for cause in the Pali.

Again, understanding that things arise from causes does not help in understanding how they can be brought to an end.

The farmer understands the cause of the growth of his crops as at one time the rain, at another time the sun, and so forth; and similarly he understands the failure of his crop to grow from various perspectives [ditthis, points of view].

Being told that things are 'caused' doesn't move things ahead. Being told that, however the crop is caused, at root it depends ultimately on the farmer having planted the seeds; that if he wants to 'cause' no crop to appear he must not plant seeds. I don't think he would get too far in his effort to not have a crop if he planted seeds and all the other necessary factors were in place and favorable and he concentrated his efforts on trying to get the sun not to shine. Although we do see that there are those who are able to make rain.

What is needed is the idea that things being caused (however they are caused) are dependant on 'doing', making happen, driving them [hetu], impelling them to be, acting to cause, intending to cause. Understanding that one also understands how to end things. The thing to end being dukkha.

Sitting there, reviewing this brief Dhamma, one may think: All things experienced by an individual are repercussions. Do no percussing (doing, making happen, driving) and there will be no repercussions resulting from that!
Seeing that is seeing with the Dhamma Eye.

Remember Sariputta: "The ending of becoming is Nibbana."

Which points to the grave danger here for those close to the flame! Mrs. Rhys Davids, carried away by her self-importance, thinking that her own way of seeing things, with her love of life and glorification of being, is the way of the Buddhas, heaps scorn on the notion that Sariputta could ever have said such a thing. But anyone who has seen becoming for what it is: just simply the becoming of dukkha, knows that the ending of becoming is Nibbana.



Ye dhamma hetuppabhava||
tesam hetum Tathāgato aha,||
tesañ ca yo nirodho||
evam vadi mahā samano|| ||

What things are driven to become
of the driving does the Tathāgata speak
and so by such their end.
So goes the Great Shaman's word.
— Michael Olds

"Of all those things that from a cause arise,
Tathagata the cause thereof has told;
And how they cease to be, that too he tells,
This is the doctrine of the Great Recluse."
— Nyanaponika Thera

Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
   their cause
   and their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathagata,
  the Great Contemplative.
— Bhk. Thanissaro

Those things which proceed from a cause,
of these the Truth-finder has told the cause,
And that which is their stopping
— the great recluse has such a doctrine.
— Horner

Pali MO Hare Horner Punnaji Bodhi Nanamoli Nyanaponika Rhys Davids (Mrs)Rhys Davids Thanissaro Walshe Woodward Warren
Hetu Drives, impels; driving force, compelling reason Cause Cause Cause Reason, Cause, 'for which'



SN 2 37:

Ko pana bho Kaccāna, hetu ko paccayo yena samaṇāpi samaṇehi vivadantīti?

[Mahā Kaccāno:]
Diṭṭhirāga-vinivesa-vinibandha-paligedha-pariyuṭṭhānajjhosāna-hetu kho brāhmaṇa, samaṇāpi samaṇehi vivadantīti.


'Pray, master Kaccāna, what is the reason, what is the cause, why nobles quarrel with nobles, brāhmins with brāhmins, and householders with householders?'

'They do so because of their bondage and servitude to sensual lusts, their greed for sensual lusts; because they are possessed by attachment to the lusts of sensuality.'

MO: 'Driven by'.



Ole Holtin Pind, discussing the term 'Paṭicca-samuppada'.

This compound is somewhat peculiar. pa.ticca is an absolutive. Now absolutives do not normally occur as first member in compounds. In the present case we need a syntactical complement to understand it e.g. a noun in the accusative like hetum or kara.nam or any other term in the accusative. As you can imagine the fact that absolutives normally denote actions preceding the action denoted by the finite verb, provided that the two actions have the same agent, this particular compound has generated a heated controversy among Buddhists interested in grammar, because the action denoted by the absolutive normally precedes that of the finite verb. Now all we can say is that pa.ticcasamuppaada means "origination dependent (on something)." The usual translation "dependent origination" is meaningless and ungrammatical, besides being not very intelligent considering the canonical context, in addition to the grammatical constraints on the semantics of absolutives. Cf. the vinaya term pa.ticcakamma which means "an action that is due (to someone else, i.e. caused by someone else)." For instance, the crime that someone who has made you commit would be a pa.ticcakamma. In short, it is a "syntactical compound" in the sense that it is syntactically dependent upon an explicit or implicit term that is independet and syntactically external to the terms of the compound. Therefore the peculiar term "syntactical compound."
— Ole Holtin Pind



Pali Text Society
Pali English Dictionary
Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids and William Stede


Hetu: [Vedic hetu, from hi to impel] 1. cause, reason, condition S I.134; A III.440 sq.; Dhs 595, 1053; Vism 450; Tikp 11, 233, 239. In the older use paccaya and hetu are almost identical as synonyms, e. g. n'atthi hetu n'atthi paccayo D I.53; aṭṭha hetū aṭṭha paccayā D III.284 sq.; cp. S III.69 sq.; D II.107; M I.407; A I.55 sq., 66, 200; IV.151 sq.; but later they were differentiated (see Mrs. Rh. D., Tikp introd. p. xi. sq.). The different between the two is explained e. g. at Nett 78 sq.; DhsA 303. - There are a number of other terms, with which hetu is often combd, apparently without distinction in meaning, e. g. hetu paccaya kāraṇa Nd2 617 (s. v. sankhā); mūla h. nidāna sambhava pabhava samuṭṭhāna āhāra ārammaṇa paccaya samudaya: frequent in the Niddesa (see Nd2 p. 231, s. v. mūla). In the Abhidhamma we find hetu as "moral condition" referring to the 6 mūlas or bases of good and bad kamma, viz. lobha, dosa, moha and their opposites: Dhs 1053 sq.; Kvu 532 sq. - Four kinds of hetu are distinguished at DhsA 303 = VbhA 402, viz. hetu-, paccaya-, uttama-, sādhāraṇa-. Another 4 at Tikp 27, viz. kusala-, akusala-, vipāka-, kiriya-, and 9 at Tikp 252, viz. kusala-, akusala-, avyākata-, in 3X3 constellations (cp. DhsA 303). - On term in detail see Cpd. 279 sq.; Dhs. translation ** 1053, 1075. - abl. hetuso from or by way of (its) cause S V.304; A III.417. - acc. hetu (*-) (elliptically as adv.) on account of, for the sake of (with gen.); e. g. dāsa-kammakara-porisassa hetu M II.187; kissa hetu why* A III.303; IV.393; Sn 1131; Pv II.81 ( = kiṃ nimittaṃ PvA 106); pubbe kata- by reason (or in consequence) of what was formerly done A I.173 sq.; dhana- for the sake of gain Sn 122. - 2. suitability for the attainment of Arahantship, one of the 8 conditions precedent to becoming a Buddha Bu II.59 = J I.14, 44. 3. logic Miln 3.
-paccaya the moral causal relation, the first of the 24 Paccayas in the Paṭṭhāna Tikp 1 sq., 23 sq., 60 sq., 287, 320; Dukp 8, 41 sq.; Vism 532; VbhA 174.
-pabhava arising from a cause, conditioned Vin I.40; DhA I.92.
-vāda the theory of cause, as adj. "proclaimer of a cause," name of a sect M I.409; opp. ahetu-vāda "denier of a cause" (also a sect) M I.408; ahetu-vādin id. J V.228, 241 ( = Jtm 149).

Pabhava: (m. and nt.) [from pa+bhu, cp. Ved. prabhava] production, origin, source, cause M I.67; S I.181; II.12; It 37 (āhāra-netti-); Sn 728, 1050; Nd2 under mūla (with syn. of sambhava and samuṭṭhāna etc.); J III.402 = VI.518.

Paṭicca: [ger. of pacceti, paṭi+i; cp. BSanskrit pratītya] grounded on, on account of, concerning, because (with acc.) M I.265 (etaṃ on these grounds); S III.93 = It 89 (atthavasaŋ); J II.386 ( = abhisandhāya); Sn 680, 784, 872, 1046; SnA 357; DhA I.4; PvA 64 (maraṇaṃ), 164, 181 (kammaṃ), 207 (anuddayaṃ). See also following -vinīta trained to look for causality M III.19.

Pacceti [paṭi+i] to come on to, come back to, fig. fall back on, realise, find one's hold in D I.186 ("take for granted," cp. note Dial. I.252); M I.309 (kaṃ hetuṃ), 445 (id.); S I.182 ("believe in," C. icchati pattheti); Sn 662, 788, 800, 803, 840 = 908; Dh 125 ( = paṭieti DhA III.34); Nd1 85, 108 ( = paccāgacchati), 114;Pv II.320 ( = avagacchati PvA 87); Nett 93; Miln 125, 313; PvA 116 (bālaṃ), 241 (agree to = paṭijānāti). ger. paṭicca (q. v.). Cp. paccāgacchati -pp. paṭīta (q. v.).


Oxford English Dictionary

Percuss: [f. L. percuss-, ppl. stem of percutSre to strike or thrust through, f. per- 1 + quatSre to shake, strike, dash, etc.] trans. To strike so as to shake or give a shock to; hence gen. to strike, hit, knock, give a blow to. Also fig. Obs. (in general sense).

Repercussion: 6. a. A blow or stroke given in return; also fig. a return of any kind of action, a responsive act, a resulting effect or implication; an unwanted or unintended reverberation. Freq. pl.



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