Good contemporary book on Paṭiccasamuppāda

I find this book on Paṭiccasamuppāda written by Ven. Piyadassi Thera (posted on BPS) is very helpful and the basic tenets are easy to be understood. What’s more, it is accords to the Pali canon and commentaries.

Has anyone read this book before?

If not, I strongly recommend it. This should be the main introductory book for any serious buddhist to study Paṭiccasamuppāda teachings.

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Very good book, very clear.

"On close analysis, it becomes clear that in this dependent
origination, paṭicca-samuppāda, in this repeated process of
rebirth, in this cycle of existence, there is nothing
permanent, no enduring soul-entity that passes from one
birth to the next. All dhammas are causally dependent, they
are conditioned (sabbe dhammā paṭiccasamuppannā), and this
process of events is utterly free from the notion of a
permanent soul or self.
The Buddha declares: “To believe the doer of the deed will
be the same as the one who experiences its results (in the
next life), this is the one extreme. To believe that the doer of
the deed and the one who experiences its results are two
different persons, this is the other extreme. Both these
extremes the Tathāgata, the Perfect One, has avoided and
taught the truth that lies in the middle of both, namely:
“Through ignorance conditioned are the kamma formations
and so on (see formula). Thus arises this whole mass of
Hence the ancients said:

“There is no doer of a deed
Or one who reaps the deed’s result;
Phenomena alone flow on—
No other view than this is right.
For here there is no Brahma God,
Creator of the round of births;
Phenomena alone flow on—
Cause and component their condition.” [40

I must say … by seeing this way, a huge chunk of Sakkaya-Ditthi is gone… I can’t see any reason why should anyone sees Rupa,Vedana, Sañña, Saṅkhāra and Viññāṇa as Self or Soul now…

Even the notion “I” is not belong to oneself and non-existent as real but merely for speech purpose…

I think this is why Buddha said in Dhammapada:

Verse 62: “I have sons, I have wealth”; with this (feeling of attachment) the fool is afflicted. Indeed, he himself is not his own, how can sons and wealth be his?

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This is the negative aspect and it makes seeking for nibanna has no purpose, since if there is no soul why bother with future rebirths?

The positive aspect is that although there is no soul, the resulf of kamma persists and this causes repeat rebirths. Rebirths means sickness, old age, and death.

Although there is no “I” as a soul, there is “I” which is the continuation of past kamma, present kamma, and future kamma.

I often joke with some friends by wishing them “parinibbāna paccayo hotu”
They don’t like that. :slight_smile:

In any case, I think that “modern” of the book is sort of light, but it is quite good for a modern writing. I thought the Mexican Abhidhamma Videos were quite good and also ven Nyanatiloka’s Buddhist Fundamentals Book
The latter should be required reading for serious classical theravādans


Other devas had more sophisticated queries. One deva, for example, asked the Buddha if an arahant could use words that refer to a self:

“Consummate with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say ‘I speak’?
And would he say ‘They speak to me’?”

This deva realized that arahantship means the end of rebirth and suffering by uprooting mental defilements; he knew that arahants have no belief in any self or soul. But he was puzzled to hear monks reputed to be arahants continuing to use such self-referential expressions.

The Buddha replied that an arahant might say “I” always aware of the merely pragmatic value of common terms:

“Skillful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.”

The deva, trying to grasp the Buddha’s meaning, asked whether an arahant would use such expressions because he is still prone to conceit. The Buddha made it clear that the arahant has no delusions about his true nature. He has uprooted all notions of self and removed all traces of pride and conceit:

“No knots exist for one with conceit cast off;
For him all knots of conceit are consumed.
When the wise one has transcended the conceived
He might still say ‘I speak,’
And he might say ‘They speak to me.’
Skillful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.” (KS I, 21-22; SN 1:25)

There is also Paṭiccasamuppāda Dīpanī which I think might strike a balance between the lightness of modern book and the heavyness of Visuddhi Magga.

“I” is an ambiguous word. Although I=self does not exist, I=person does exist, otherwise how can we differentiate one person with another. And since a person=nama+rupa, and nama+rupa=dhamma, and dhamma exists, a person exists, although neither nama or rupa is atta.

I=person is often meant in person to person communication, while I=self is often used in self-talk.

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Dear Charles,

I guess that you know the thing, but phrase it in a non-classical way. The reason that we have to be careful about the wording is that the Blessed One has warned about phrasing.

In order to believe future rebirths, we don’t need to name(in ultimate sense) aggregates as a ‘soul’. We can say there are aggregates (or a conditioned generation of momentary aggregates).

In classical words, I = self = person.

I think we can say it in brief as “Khandas does exist until nibbana”
yet more accurately it is something like below:
“Conditioned generation of momentary aggregates does exist until nibbana” or
“Paccayayatta, anicca, dukkha and anatta khanda parampara does exist until nibbana”.

If we take it as “a generation of khandas (khanda-santati)”, then it is unique.

I think you know that there is only dhammas but have taken the word ‘person’ as a synonym for ‘dhammas’. In that sense it is correct, but the Blessed one has warned us to use correct phrasing in order not to be misunderstood by the future generation.

Some more on conventional and ultimate:
The Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy - PTS)and Commentary (the Debates Commentary) (On
the Person, p 41)

Even in such expressions as `there is the person who works for his
good’(DN iii, 232), (MNi, 341, 411), (AN ii, 95) and so on, there is no
such person as bodily and mental aggregates, known in their specific
general senses. Given bodily and mental aggregates, it is customary to
say such and such a name, a family. Thus, by this popular turn of
convention, expression, is meant: “there is the person.” This is the
here. “”""

The Buddhas have two kinds of discourse, the popular and the
philosophical. Those relating to a being, a person, a deva, a brahma
so forth, are popular discourses, while those relating to
impermanence,ill, soul-less, the aggregates, the elements, the
senses, the
application of mindfulness, the intent contemplation, and so forth,
discourses on highest meaning.

But popular discourse they teach
consistently and in conformity with truth according to the method
selected. And highest-meaning discourse, too. they teach consistently and in conformity with truth according to the method selected. Thus it is said: The Enlightened One, best of speakers, spoke two kinds of truth, namely, the popular and that of highest meaning, a third is not got at (i.e known). There is another way of putting it. The teaching of the Exalted One is of two kinds, the highest-meaning teaching consisting of the aggregates, and so forth, and the popular teaching consisting of butter-jar,’ and so
forth. The Exalted One does not, indeed, overrun consistency. Hence,
the mere expression “there is the person who,” must not command
The highest meaning has been declared by the Teacher, without
transgressing the concept. So another wise man also should not , in explaining the highest meaning overrun a concept.