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Dependent Origination is Profound

Dependent Origination, the core or essence of the Second Noble Truth, is profound. The Venerable Ānanda once told the Buddha that he found Dependent Origination self-evident and easy to comprehend. The Buddha replied,

Ānanda, do not say so. Dependent Origination is so profound that sentient beings are unable to comprehend it. They are unable to understand what I teach; likewise, they are unable to perceive the process of Dependent Origination. Consequently, they are perplexed just like with a ball of entangled thread, a jumble of muñja grass. They cannot free themselves from suffering, states of deprivation [apāya-bhumi], degeneration and transmigration.” — Mahā-nidana Sutta (Dīgha-Nikāya 15)

This tells us not to treat Dependent Origination lightly. Ordinary people (puthujjanas) are used to the concept of a continuing existence. They can only perceive their experience through an ego; therefore, they find Dependent Origination profound and difficult. To them it is unfathomable and intricate, similar to a ball of entangled thread.

Knowledge of Dependent Origination comes naturally to an arhat. An arhat treats it as an open and proven science. An arhat does not cling to anything; he has seen through everything. An arhat already possesses perfect Right Mindfulness; he does not experience suffering, because there is cessation of Dependent Origination.

The Buddha spared no effort to discover the process of Dependent Origination. When the Buddha attained enlightenment, he hesitated to teach because only a handful of people would be able to understand it. In the end, however, the Buddha accepted the burden of developing a method for teaching sentient beings the arcane and profound truth of Dependent Origination because of his great compassion for them. It was a difficult task, even for the Buddha, because only a few people could understand Dependent Origination.

Introduction to Dependent Origination ← Prev | Next → Analysis of Dependent Origination

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