Digha Nikaya


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Digha Nikaya

Sutta 15

Mahā-Nidānasuttaɱ

Dependant Origination

Incomplete

Translated from the Pali by Henry Clark Warren

Pieced together from fragments published in Buddhism in Translations[1]

 


 

[1][pts][wp][ati][bd] THUS HAVE I HEARD:

On a certain occasion The Blessed One was dwelling among the Kurus where was the Kuru-town named Kammāsadhamma.

Then drew near the venerable Ānanda to where The Blessed One was; and having drawn near and greeted The Blessed One, he sat down respectfully at one side. And seated respectfully at one side, the venerable Ānanda spoke to The Blessed One as follows:

"O wonderful is it, Reverend Sir! O marvellous is it, Reverend Sir! How profound, Reverend Sir, is Dependent Origination, and of how profound an appearance! To me, nevertheless, it is as clear as clear can be."

[2][pts][wp][ati][bd] "O Ānanda, say not so! O Ānanda, say not so! Profound, Ānanda, is Dependent Origination, and profound of appearance. It is through not understanding this doctrine, Ānanda, through not penetrating it, that thus mankind is like to an entangled warp, or to an ensnarled web, or to muñja-grass and pabbaja-grass, and fails to extricate itself from punishment, suffering, perdition, rebirth.

[3][pts][wp][ati][bd] "Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Do old age and death depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'They do.' And if it be asked, 'On what do old age and death depend?' the reply should be, 'Old age and death depend on birth.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does birth depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does birth depend?' the reply should be, 'Birth depends on existence.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does existence depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does existence depend?' the reply should be, 'Existence depends on attachment.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does attachment depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does attachment depend?' the reply should be, 'Attachment depends on desire.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does desire depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does desire depend?' the reply should be, 'Desire depends on sensation.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does sensation depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does sensation depend?' the reply should be, 'Sensation depends on contact.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does contact depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does contact depend?' the reply should be, 'Contact depends on name and form.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Do name and form depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'They do.' And if it be asked, 'On what do name and form depend?' the reply should be, 'Name and form depend on consciousness.'

"Ānanda, if it be asked, 'Does consciousness depend on anything?' the reply should be, 'It does.' And if it be asked, 'On what does consciousness depend?' the reply should be, 'Consciousness depends on name and form.'

"Thus, Ānanda, on name and form depends consciousness;

"On consciousness depend name and form;

"On name and form depends contact;

"On contact depends sensation;

"On sensation depends desire;

"On desire depends attachment;

"On attachment depends existence;

"On existence depends birth;

"On birth depend old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair. Thus does this entire aggregation of misery arise.

[4][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on birth depend old age and death. This truth, Ānanda, that on birth depend old age and death, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were utterly and completely no birth at all for any one into any world, as, namely, for gods into the world of gods; for genii into the world of genii; for ogres into the world of ogres; for demons into the world of demons; for men into the world of men; for quadrupeds into the world of quadrupeds; for winged creatures into the world of winged creatures; for creeping things into the world of creeping things; — suppose, Ānanda, there were no birth for any of these beings into their several worlds: if there were nowhere any birth, pray, on the cessation of birth would there be any old age and death?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in birth the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of old age and death.

[5][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on existence depends birth. This truth, Ānanda, that on existence depends birth, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were utterly and completely no existence at all for any one in any mode, as, namely, existence in the realm of sensual pleasure, existence in the realm of form, existence in the realm of formlessness; — if there were nowhere any existence, pray, on the cessation of existence would there be any birth?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in existence the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of birth.

[6][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on attachment depends existence. This truth Ānanda, that on attachment depends existence, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were utterly and completely no attachment at all of any one to anything, as, namely, the attachment of sensual pleasure, the attachment of heresy, the attachment of fanatical conduct, the attachment of the assertion of an Ego; — if there were nowhere any attachment, pray, on the cessation of attachment would there be any existence?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in attachment the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of existence.

[7][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on desire depends attachment. This truth, Ānanda, that on desire depends attachment, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were utterly and completely no desire at all on the part of any one for anything, as, namely, desire for forms, desire for sounds, desire for odors, desire for tastes, desire for things tangible, desire for ideas; — if there were nowhere any desire, pray, on the cessation of desire would there be any attachment?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in desire the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of attachment.

[8][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on sensation depends desire. This truth, Ānanda, that on sensation depends desire, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were utterly and completely no sensation at all on the part of any one for anything, as, namely, sensation sprung from contact of the eye, sensation sprung from contact of the ear, sensation sprung from contact of the nose, sensation sprung from contact of the tongue, sensation sprung from contact of the body, sensation sprung from contact of the mind; --if there were nowhere any sensation, pray, on the cessation of sensation would there be any desire?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in sensation the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of desire."

 

§

 

[19][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on contact depends sensation. This truth, Ānanda, that on contact depends sensation, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were utterly and completely no contact at all of any organ with any object, as, namely, contact of the eye, contact of the ear, contact of the nose, contact of the tongue, contact of the body, contact of the mind; — if there were nowhere any contact, pray, on the cessation of contact would there be any sensation?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in contact the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of sensation.

[20][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on name and form depends contact. This truth, Ānanda, that on name and form depends contact, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, there were not these different traits, peculiarities, signs, and indications by which are made manifest the multitude of elements of being constituting name; — if there were not these different traits, peculiarities, signs, and indications, pray, would there be any designative contact appearing in form?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Suppose, Ānanda, there were not these different traits, peculiarities, signs, and indications by which are made manifest the multitude of elements of being constituting form; — if there were not these different traits, peculiarities, signs, and indications, pray, would there be any inertia-contact appearing in name?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Suppose, Ānanda, there were not these different traits, peculiarities, signs, and indications by which are made manifest the multitude of elements of being constituting name and the multitude of elements of being constituting form; — if there were not these different traits, peculiarities, signs, and indications, pray, would there be any contact?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in name and form the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of contact.

[21][pts][wp][ati][bd] "I have said that on consciousness depend name and form. This truth, Ānanda, that on consciousness depend name and form, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, consciousness were not to descend into the maternal womb, pray, would name and form consolidate in the maternal womb?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Suppose, Ānanda, consciousness, after descending into the maternal womb, were then to go away again, pray, would name and form be born to life in the world?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Suppose, Ānanda, consciousness were to be severed from a child, either boy or girl, pray, would name and form attain to growth, increase, and development?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly Ānanda, here we have in consciousness the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of name and form.

[22][pts][wp][ati][bd]"I have said that on name and form depends consciousness. This truth, Ānanda, that on name and form depends consciousness, is to be understood in this way. Suppose, Ānanda, that name and form were not to become established, pray, would there, in the future, be birth, old age and death, and the coming into existence of misery's host?"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, here we have in name and form the cause, the occasion, the origin, and the dependence of consciousness.

"Verily, Ānanda, this name and form coupled with consciousness is all there is to be born, or to grow old, or to die, or to leave one existence, or to spring up in another. It is all that is meant by any affirmation, predication, or declaration we may make concerning anybody. It constitutes knowledge's field of action. And it is all that is reborn to appear in its present shape."

 

§

 

[23][pts][wp][ati][bd] "In regard to the Ego, Ānanda, what are the views held concerning it?

"In regard to the Ego, Ānanda, either one holds the view that sensation is the Ego, saying, 'Sensation is my Ego;'

"Or, in regard to the Ego, Ānanda, one holds the view, 'Verily, sensation is not my Ego; my Ego has no sensation;'

"Or, in regard to the Ego, Ānanda, one holds the view, 'Verily, neither is sensation my Ego, nor does my Ego have no sensation. My Ego has sensation; my Ego possesses the faculty of sensation.'[2]

[28][pts][wp][ati][bd] "In the above case, Ānanda, where it is said, 'Sensation is my Ego,' reply should be made as follows: 'Brother, there are three sensations: the pleasant sensation, the unpleasant sensation, and the indifferent sensation. Which of these three sensations do you hold to be the Ego?'

"Whenever, Ānanda, a person experiences a pleasant sensation, he does not at the same time experience an unpleasant sensation, nor does he experience an indifferent sensation; only the pleasant sensation does he then feel. Whenever, Ānanda, a person experiences an unpleasant sensation, he does not at the same time experience a pleasant sensation, nor does he experience an indifferent sensation; only the unpleasant sensation does he then feel. Whenever, Ānanda, a person experiences an indifferent sensation, he does not at the same time experience a pleasant sensation, nor does he experience an unpleasant sensation; only the indifferent sensation does he then feel.

[29][pts][wp][ati][bd] "Now pleasant sensations, Ānanda, are transitory, are due to causes, originate by dependence, and are subject to decay, disappearance, effacement, and cessation; and unpleasant sensations, Ānanda, are transitory, are due to causes, originate by dependence, and are subject to decay, disappearance, effacement, and cessation; and indifferent sensations, Ānanda, are transitory, are due to causes, originate by dependence, and are subject to decay, disappearance, effacement, and cessation. While this person is experiencing a pleasant sensation, he thinks, 'This is my Ego.' And after the cessation of this same pleasant sensation, he thinks, 'My Ego has passed away.' While he is experiencing an unpleasant sensation, he thinks, 'This is my Ego.' And after the cessation of this same unpleasant sensation, he thinks, 'My Ego has passed away.' And while he is experiencing an indifferent sensation, he thinks, 'This is my Ego.' And after the cessation of this same indifferent sensation, he thinks, 'My Ego has passed away.' So that he who says, 'Sensation is my Ego,' holds the view that even during his lifetime his Ego is transitory, that it is pleasant, unpleasant, or mixed, and that it is subject to rise and disappearance.

"Accordingly, Ānanda, it is not possible to hold the view, 'Sensation is my Ego.'

[30][pts][wp][ati][bd] "In the above case, Ānanda, where it is said, 'Verily sensation is not my Ego; my Ego has no sensation,' reply should be made as follows: 'But, brother, where there is no sensation, is there any "I am"?'"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, it is not possible to hold the view, 'Verily, sensation is not my Ego; my Ego has no sensation.'

[31][pts][wp][ati][bd] "In the above case, Ānanda, where it is said, 'Verily, neither is sensation my Ego, nor does my Ego have no sensation. My Ego has sensation; my Ego possesses the faculty of sensation,' reply should be made as follows: 'Suppose, brother, that utterly and completely, and without remainder, all sensation were to cease — if there were nowhere any sensation, pray, would there be anything, after the cessation of sensation, of which it could be said, "This am I"?'"

"Nay, verily, Reverend Sir."

"Accordingly, Ānanda, it is not possible to hold the view, 'Verily, neither is sensation my Ego, nor does my Ego have no sensation. My Ego has sensation; my Ego possesses the faculty of sensation.'

[32][pts][wp][ati][bd] "From the time, Ānanda, a priest no longer holds the view that sensation is the Ego, no longer holds the view that the Ego has no sensation, no longer holds the view that the Ego has sensation, possesses the faculty of sensation, he ceases to attach himself to anything in the world, and being free from attachment, he is never agitated, and being never agitated, he attains to Nirvana in his own person; and he knows that rebirth is exhausted, that he has lived the holy life, that he has done what it behooved him to do, and that he is no more for this world.

"Now it is impossible, Ānanda, that to a mind so freed a priest should attribute the heresy that the saint exists after death, or that the saint does not exist after death, or that the saint both exists and does not exist after death, or that the saint neither exists nor does not exist after death.

"And why do I say so?

"Because, Ānanda, after a priest has been freed by a thorough comprehension of affirmation and affirmation's range, of predication and predication's range, of declaration and declaration's range, of knowledge and knowledge's field of action, of rebirth and what rebirth affects, it is impossible for him to attribute such a heretical lack of knowledge and perception to a priest similarly freed."

 


[1] See: Buddhism in Translations: There is No Ego. (DN 15: Excerpt).Dependent Origination (DN 15: Excerpt) Warren, trans.

[2] From the commentary on the Mahā-Nidāna-Sutta, Providence Manuscript, folio ghāu, b, lines 4 and 5: -- Sensation is my Ego gives the heresy of individuality as based on the sensation-group; My Ego has no sensation, as based on the form-group; and My Ego has sensation; my Ego possesses a faculty of sensation, as based on the perception-group, the predisposition-group, and the consciousness-group. For these three groups have sensation through union with sensation, and possess a faculty of sensation on account of the inseparability of this union.


 

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