Dhamma Talk – Vipassana Bhumi 1.6



When one listens to a dhamma talk, the
BuddDhamma Wheelha’s teachings will enhance mindfulness and wisdom. It will help one in the gaining of happiness. The highest goal is the freedom from all defilements, or the ending of suffering. It is important to practice without any wanting – to do it naturally. Even though our goal is the path, the fruits of practice, and nibbana, there is no need for craving. Try to do your best at the present moment – it will help to accumulate the factors of enlightenment. When you practice sila( morality), samadhi( concentration) and panna( wisdom) correctly in each moment, they will lead us closer to nibbana and eventually we will reach that goal.

Today’s dhamma talk title is “ Dependent Origination or Paticcasamuppada in Pali”, which is the 6 th Vipassana Bhumi. This will conclude this section of Vipassana Bhumi. It begins with the first one, the Five Aggregates, the second one which is the Contact Bases, the third one which is the Elements, the fourth one which is the Four Noble Truths, and the fifth one which is the Faculties.

The sixth one is Dependent Origination, which is hard to describe and hard to understand. It cannot be discussed in detail here, so I will try to summarise and focus the talk about the content that can be applied along with the practice.

The Pali word ” Paticcasamuppada” means the dhamma that is the cause and the factors. All of the dhamma does not occur by accident – it happens because there is a cause that makes it happen that way. The result also does not happen by chance – there was a reason for it. There is a factor for that to happen, which effects the next event and continues on and on, just like a chain reaction. It creates the ongoing cycle of birth.

The origin of Paticcasamuttapada arises from the ignorance ( avijja), which creates the volitional formations( sankhara).


(Avijja paccaya sankhara).

The ignorance is the situation of not knowing, having delusions, or knowing about things that are not important , or not knowing about things that are important. For example, the knowledge about how to build war weapons or all worldly knowledge is conventional, which do not lead to the end of suffering.

These ignorances( avijja) are:

1. Not knowing about suffering. Life is suffering or is unsatisfactory, but the ignorance can cover that up. The majority of people see that being born is not suffering. Because of the ignorance, they could not see that the cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death happening all the time is suffering.

2. Not knowing the cause of suffering, which is craving ( tanha). Without knowing it, one will accumulate the craving or do anything under the influence of craving. What they are accumulating is suffering.

People who have a wholesome job may even work with that underlying craving. They may want to become rich and famous, so they struggle and suffer from having the underlying craving. They are not happy with what they have. There is no end for the craving. They do not see that the craving is the real cause of suffering, which leads them to create more unwholesome acts. It can occur by being aggressive, misleading , bullying others, etc. The result is suffering in the present and in the future.

If one is not aware of his craving for pleasant sight, sound, odor, taste or touch, that person will keep on searching for more to satisfy himself. He may not get it, or lose what he has gotten, or he may have a fear of change. All of these are suffering. It can be compared to a drug addict who only seeks more of his drug. Since the craving does not stop, he will seek for more of his drug until he dies. He thinks that it is the way to end his suffering, but instead it creates more suffering because the craving has increased. It is the same way when a person is attached to pleasant sights, sounds, odors, tastes or touches. He will struggle because of the craving. So suffering will go on without an end because of not knowing that the craving is the cause of suffering.

3. Not knowing the end of suffering. This is not knowing what can really truly end suffering. Very few people have interest in meditation in order to reach nibbana because they do not know that it can end suffering.

4. Not knowing the way to end suffering. This is when they do it incorrectly, especially doing the unwholesome acts which create more suffering. When doing something wholesome that is still very worldly, it can not really end suffering. It does not matter how much money, power, or status they have – millionaires or even billionares still suffer. People will have more interest in entertainment than practicing mindfulness or vipassana. They do not realize that entertainment will create more suffering rather than end it. Like for instance with insects, they are attached to the light and die from it. Human beings who are attached to sensual pleasures will continue to suffer since they don’t know the way out.

The majority of people do not know about the past aggregates(khanda), contact bases( ayatana), or elements( dhatu) that they have been born with in the past. They don’t know how to be born again in the future. They don’t know about the past and the future life. They don’t know about Dependent Origination( paticcasamuppada). They don’t know the dhamma that is the cause and the effect. The only way to see the elements or contact bases to be the cause and the effect of suffering is by developing mindfulness and wisdom. If not, they will continue to suffer.

Avijja( ignorance) is not knowing about the subjects that one should know about, or knowing the subjects that one should not know. The ignorance creates the volitional formations( sankhara). There are three types: meritorious volitional formations( punnabhisankhara), demeritorious volitional formations( apunnabhisankhara), impurturbable volitional formations( anenjabhisankhara).

Demeritorious volitional formation is rather straightforward. The unwholesome act is due to ignorance, which can be done through speech – for example, using harsh words – or false speech. It can be done by bodily actions, such as killing, stealing, or having sexual misconduct. It can also be done by the mind by having bad thoughts, or wishing others harm, etc. Ignorance is the cause for having intention(cetana) that creates unwholesome acts through the body, speech and mind.

Meritorious volitional formation creates meritorious acts by having the right act, right speech and right mind. These are performing merit, doing dana, keeping precepts(sila), meditation( bhavana), being humble, listening to the dhamma, helping others, rejoicing in the another’s wholesome deed, etc. However, these meritorious acts can have an underlying ignorance as well. Doing dana with a wish for being born rich and beautiful, or being born in the heavenly realms is a wish for suffering. Every birth is suffering, no matter which realm you are born into. All births and deaths are suffering. Deva realm does not experience aging, but their lives also end in death. So they, too, cannot escape suffering. You can be born rich or with beauty, but you still suffer from aging, sickness and death. The ignorance will cover this up so that you do not see what is suffering, and do not see the danger in the cycle of birth. The Buddha did not praise the benefit of birth, no matter which realm you were born into. It is compared to the feces which is dirty. It may be the product of good food, but it is still dirty, smelly, and loathsome. Every realm of existence is suffering, so the one who wishes for birth is wishing for suffering. This is because he did not know the truth, and did not have the right understanding about nibbana. So they are not interested in practicing the dhamma in order to liberate themselves. Most people still do merit making while having avijja( ignorance). This lasts until they gain some wisdom and see that their merit making was done to liberate themselves from the cycle of birth, and from suffering.

People who practice vipassana have their aims at the liberation from suffering. Even when they offer dana or keep precepts, they aim at detaching from defilement and rebirth, which is the opposite from the majority of people who do it with avijja( ignorance).

Impurturbable volitional formations will result in being reborn in the immaterial brahma realm. There is ignorance behind it also, since there is a need to get out of suffering but they don’t know how. Being born in the brahma realm is still suffering because they will be there only for a period of time. After death there is a chance to be born again, maybe in the lower realms. When practicing jhana, they will see that the body is the source of suffering. They will try to detach from the body, but they still have the mind. The power of immaterial jhana will result in being born with the mind only. They still have ignorance as a cause behind it.


(Sankhara paccaya vinnanam)

Whenever there is ignorance of any kind, there will be two kinds of consciousness. The first one arises at conception (patisandhi vinnana), followed by the sustaining consciousness( pavatti vinnana). Seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching consciousness will arise and continue to arise, depending on where the birth occurs.

Demeritorious volitional formation will result in being born in the lower realms, including being born in a hell realm, being a hungry ghost, a titan, or an animal.

Meritorious volitional formation will result in being born as a human, a deva or a material brahma.

Impurturbable volitional formation will result in being born as an immaterial brahma .

Birth will be accompanied by the resultant kamma (vipaka vinnana), which allows us to see, hear, smell, taste and touch, according to our meritorious or demeritorious acts. As a human, seeing bad sights, hearing bad sounds, tastes or smells of unpleasant things are the result of previous unwholesome kamma. The opposite is true – wholesome acts will result in positive experiences.


( Vinnana paccaya nama rupam)

After conception, the first mind (citta) or consciousness that arises will be accompanied by the materiality (rupa). This is the first form as a result of the kamma. In humans, it appears as a drop of clear liquid where the mind locates (hadaya rupa) along with the form that specifies male or female characters (bhava rupa). This happens according to the past kamma.

The mentality is the mental factor (cetasika) that arises at the same time as the mind.


(Nama rupa paccaya salayatanam)

The material forms the nerves in the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. The mind will perceive through these inner contact bases.


( Salayatana paccaya phasso)

When the outer contact bases come into contact with the inner contact bases, then contact will arise.

Seeing arises when the color comes into contact with the eye nerve. There is a gathering of color, eyes, and eye consciousness. Hearing arises when the sound comes into contact with the ear nerve. There is a gathering of sound, ear, and ear consciousness. Smelling arises when the odor comes into contact with the nose nerve. There is gathering of odor, nose, and nose consciousness. Tasting arises when the flavor comes into contact with the tongue nerve. There is a gathering of flavor, tongue, and tongue consciousness. Body sensation arises when body contact ( hard, soft, cold, hot, tension, relaxation) comes into contact with the body nerve. This is the gathering of body contact, body, and body consciousness.


(Phassa paccaya vedana)

Feeling arises when there is a contact through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. It can be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.


(Vedana paccaya tanha)

Craving (tanha) is the wanting or the attraction to the pleasaurable, unpleasurable or neutral feeling that arises from the six sense doors. These are called kama tanha which is the craving of the form, sight, sound, smell, taste, body contact and thought. The other two cravings are bhava tanha and vibhava tanha.

Bhava tanha is the attraction to the state of being that they were born into, which is usual for most beings. For example, a worm is attracted to being born a worm without knowing about the suffering that comes with it. There is a wrong view of permanency (sassataditthi). These are the persons who are attached to the self, that this life is one’s self or that it belongs to us. When death arrives, the self will leave the body and seek another birth and continue, on and on. So the self is seemingly permanent, which is the wrong view.

Vibhava tanha is the attraction to being gone. Some people understand that there is a real self while being alive, but there is nothing left after death. This is related to the wrong view of total loss (ucchedaditthi). The satisfaction and attraction are due to being gone.

All these tanha are from vedana.


( Tanha paccaya upadanam)

Craving creates clinging. Strong craving will make a person hold on to the condition. When we love someone, there is tanha. When we cling on to that person to be ours, that is upadana. The degree is stronger, or it can be the wrong view or wrong clinging.

There are four types of clinging:

1. Kamupadana is clinging to the sensual pleasures.

2. Ditthupadana is clinging to the wrong view. For example, clinging to the wrong belief that there is no kamma, no merit or demerit, your good actions may not bring good results.

3. Silappadupadana is clinging to the wrong rules or precepts. For example, some may believe in behaving like animals, or following the wrong precepts.

4. Attavadhupadana is clinging to the wrong view related to self, that the five aggregates( khanda) are self. They would cling onto these body, feeling, perception, volitional formation, and consciousness – that they are self.

This is the basis for Sakkaya ditthi, or having wrong view that the form is us, we have a body, or that the body is in us. Feelings of happiness or unhappiness are in us, that they belong to us. Perception is us, belongs to us. To like or dislike is us, that they belong to us. To believe thought and consciousness are ours, etc.

There is no way of escaping from these wrong views if we do not practice vipassana ( insight meditation), especially concerning sakkaya ditthi. Laypeople usually have this wrong view when they perform merit making or do any wholesome act where they would want this self to be well. The vipassana meditator will observe the form and mentality ( rupa and nama or body and mind). These are paramattha dhamma (ultimate truths), so they will appear and vanish. After repeated observation, the meditator will realize that there is no permanent self in this body and mind. So they can get rid of the wrong view one moment at a time. When they continue to practice mindfulness and observe, they will have a chance to progress until reaching enlightenment. This is when the wrong views are totally eradicated. Sotapanna (Stream entry) is the first stage of enlightenment in which the personal wrong view (sakkayaditthi) will be completely gone.


( Upadana paccaya bhavo)

Becoming allows us to perform wholesome or unwholesome acts.


( Bhava paccaya jati)

Becoming creates the materiality and mentality( rupa and nama or body and mind).


(Jati paccaya maranam soka parideva dukkha domanass upayasa sambhavanti)

After birth, the whole mass of the suffering in the body and mind will follow.

Living beings usually carry the deep fundamental defilements (asavas) which flow out from the mind. There are three types of asavas, they are kama sava, bhavasava and ditthasava. All these three deep defilements are the factors for the outflow of ignorance (avijjasava), which creates the cycle of birth and death that keeps on repeating. We have been born into uncountable lives, so we have repeatedly suffered from birth, old age, illness, and death. If collected, the tears from crying can be more than the sum total of water in the oceans. We still have to go through the same cycle again and again, without an end in sight.

Vipassana practice is the way to cut through the cycle. We can start developing mindfulness by following the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, or following the Eightfold path. The well developed awareness will help us observe the input that comes through the six sense doors where the contacts arise. Know it when seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, contacting, and thinking occurs. Watch the feelings(vedana) that arise with the contact, then craving and clinging will follow. It is especially important to observe when there is contact. If you cannot catch it, then observe the next step which is the feeling that follows. It can be pleasant, unpleasant, gladness or sadness, etc. Craving will follow those feelings. So know it when you like the taste of what you eat, catch it and let go. If you try to have the awareness when contact arises, craving will not follow. There will be no like or dislike.

The mindful mind is wholesome because it can end the cycle of birth. When mindfulness occurs frequently, insight will develop one day. It will become clear to us that these are merely form and mentality dhamma ( rupa and nama or body and mind). They are not us, and do not belong to us. Insight (panna) is the knowledge that can eradicate the ignorance (avijja), just like the light that dispels darkness. But insight has to depend on mindfulness – there is no other way. Studying or acquiring any kind of knowledge will not help us to gain wisdom. Even practicing tranquility meditation (samatha samadhi) does not lead to vipassana insight. You will attain samadhi (peaceful mind) by focusing on the signs, the crystal ball, or light, etc. The mind will be peaceful, but insight will not develop.

In order to gain insight the mind has to focus on the ultimate dhamma( paramattha), which is the rupa( form) and nama ( mentality) that appears at each moment. There are only six contact bases that need to be watched. These are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind – they present themselves as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, body contact, feeling/ thought. Watch what appears at the present moment, not the seeing or hearing that has already passed. Insight cannot develop from watching things in the past or in the future. We can think, imagine or investigate, but the knowledge will only be at the thinking level ( cintanana). The true insight( bhavananana) only depends on the mindfulness that is used to observe the present condition. We have to be aware during the moment that the action is taking place. What was seen is in the past and what will be seen is in the future. These are the same with other sensations as well. Each condition will appear in a very short duration, so we need to let go of it right away. Do not wait for it to happen, either. Know only the one that appears. The truth can be revealed in a fraction of a second. Sometimes the feeling may appear to be continuous, but in fact it appears and then vanishes quickly. When watching carefully we will see that interruption. When seeing these repeatedly the insight will develop and avijja (ignorance) can be eradicated.

Through the entire cessation of this ignorance, the volitional formations cease.

There is no volitional formation left in the mind of the arahat ( enlightened ones). They will give dana, keep precepts, meditate, but it will not be meritorious volitional formation (punnabhisankhara). There is no demeritorious (apunnabhi sankhara) either. The mind will be an acting mind (kiriya citta), volitional formation is also the acting one. There will be no continuing process that can bear fruit. They can do wholesome acts without any result.

It is different in laypeople that meritorious deed can result in birth in the higher realms, which still is suffering. Demeritorious act will result in being born into the opposite direction. So being above the merit and demerit means being free from suffering. There is only an acting mind ( kiriya citta). So there is no more volitional formations( punnabhi sankhara, apunnabhi sankhara, anenjabhi sankhara) left.

Through the cessation of volitional formation, consciousness ceases.

There is no consciousness to arise at conception.

Through the cessation of consciousness, mentality and materiality ceases.

There is no form (rupa) or mentality(nama) to be formed.

Through the cessation of mentality and materiality, the sixfold base ceases.

There will be no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind to receive any contact.

Through the cessation of the six fold base, contact ceases. Through the cessation of contact, feeling ceases. Through the cessation of feelings, craving ceases. Through the cessation of craving, clinging cease. Through the cessation of clinging, becoming ceases. Through the cessation of becoming, birth ceases. Through the cessation of birth, aging and death cease, and sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Thus, there is a cessation of this whole mass of suffering.

When ignorance ceases the whole cycle comes to an end. The enlightened one ( Arahat), while being alive, still has the contact through the six contact bases.This is the result of the past, which will not continue in the future. The mind will not be disturbed by these contacts. The suffering will be gone. There is no wholesome or unwholesome mind, only the mind of activity.

The Dependent Origination ( paticca samuppada) ends when ignorance( avijja) is destroyed. This is the result of vipassana insight. The practice starts from being mindful, being aware of every movement. There is no other way to be liberated. If we do not start now, there are many possibilities of danger awaiting us in the future.

1. Birth into the lower realms: born in hell, being a hungry ghost, a titan or an animal. It is very scary to be born into these realms.

2. Birth into the human realm is still uncertain because of the delusion. If we were born as an animal it will be very difficult to escape and come back to being human again. It is very likely to be born into many lifetimes as animals. Even being a human, we may have the wrong views from listening to the incorrect teachings. It will lead us to do or believe wrongly. There is no way to guarantee that we will not break the precepts, such as taking others’ lives, or cheating others.

We have to remind ourselves of the dangers that are awaiting for us, so that we see the necessity to build up the mindfulness and wisdom as much as we can in this life. If we can attain the first stage of enlightenment ( Sota panna), it will guarantee the certainty of closing the door to the lower realms. Rebirth into the higher realms will be secured, and the full enlightenment can be possible within seven life times.

If, for some reason, we cannot reach that level, it is worth it to gain some wisdom such as seeing the rising and vanishing of the rupa and nama or see the impermanent natures( anicca), unsatisfactoriness( dukkha ) and nonself( anatta). This can be called Cula Sotapanna. It is not an ordinary effort to reach this level, since it is the main entry to the right path, or is the right direction that can be followed all the way to reach nibbana. Mindfulness is needed in order to observe the rising and vanishing of the rupa and nama to see the three characteristics. Even knowing what is the rupa and the nama, or knowing the difference between the conventional dhamma ( panyatti) and the ultimate dhamma ( paramattha), is better than not knowing it at all. We are used to living in the conventional world, and not knowing that it is not real. Even that, if we can focus on the conventional condition, but stay with it long enough, we can gain some tranquility. This is also a wholesome mind, which is much more beneficial than people who had never meditated or have the unwholesome mind that is full of greed, hatred and delusion. Worse than that is one who did not realize that what he did was an evil act.

We are very lucky to be born as human beings and to have found the path that can lead to the end of suffering. More than that, we are fortunate to have started on the dhamma path. So we must pay our full attention and continue to put full effort into the practice.

I wish you happiness and progress in the dhamma.

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