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I prefer the phrase "Connected Causes" to Dependent Origination or the alternatives such as Dependent Arising, Dependent Co-arising and so on, I feel that it is more direct and understandable. But I am not sure if it means exactly the same thing? I do not see this phrase on this site.

Here is a quote from The Biography of Milarepa, I do not have that book anymore, but found this online:

"The clear perception of the Mind Unmodified, and the noble impulse to serve others, appear to be alike, but beware, and confuse them not.
"The spiritual boon which shineth on one as a resultant of Connected Causes, and merit temporal, which bringeth much of worldly goods, appear alike, but beware, and confuse them not."

  • A good question @no comprende. It is more plausible to say "Connected Causes" than Dependent Origination. To tell you why, I will have to quote the original scriptures. It will take time. So you will have to wait at least 2-3 months to get an answer from me. It will take that long to formulate a good answer as what I will write will go against other interpretations of this Pali word “Paticca samuppada”. – Saptha Visuddhi May 9 '17 at 11:02
  • @SapthaVisuddhi I very much appreciate your effort and am willing to wait for the answer. Thank you! – user2341 May 9 '17 at 11:33
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In discussing things with people it helps to use the terminology they use. So even if 'connected causes' is a better way to explain 'dependent origination' - the latter has become a common phrase in English Buddhism. The former is rare.

Without the precise quote it is impossible to determine whether the two are precisely the same thing. However, if the source is a biography, I would think that the meaning is likely close enough within that context.

edited in response to elaborated question:

In this case I would understand the phrase 'Connected Causes' as very simply all the causes that create good circumstances (aka 'worldly good'). The sentence merely states that while it is great to experience the result of good karma, that doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels.

In other words: 'Connected Causes' is simply karma here, I think. And while the spiritual boon may seem the same thing as those great circumstances, it's not. For one thing: good circumstances are rarely used to good spiritual effect.

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I suppose they're similar but not the same.


One difference is, the difference between "cause" and "condition". For example, for a plant to grow, it needs a seed, rain, sun, soil, to be undisturbed, and so on. Is it true to say, for example, that "the soil caused the plant to grow"? I'd say maybe not: instead of the soil being the cause, maybe the seed was the cause ... or maybe the sun ...

To avoid that kind of [slight] misunderstanding, I think it might be more accurate to say that these are "conditions" rather than "causes": that the plant grows "on condition that" it's sunny, that it rains, that the soil is good, that there's a seed, and so on.

So I prefer "condition" instead of "cause".

I find that people also sometimes use "condition" as a verb, even though that's slightly inelegant or uncommon in normal (non-Buddhist) English: they say for example, "the rain conditions the growth of the plant" (instead of "the rain causes").

For I think a similar reason people say "depends on" rather than "caused by": i.e. a plant's growth (and thus the plan't origin or coming-into-being) depends on sunshine, even if it isn't caused by sunshine.


The second difference is, what is it that is being caused or conditioned? When people talk about "dependent origination" based on the Pali canon, I think they're often talking about the 12 Nidanas (the topics of which include Ignorance as a condition of Birth of Death), or maybe the 4 Noble Truths (including craving as a condition of, or origin of, suffering, ad the origin of cessation of suffering).

Conversely I suspect that in a biography of Milarepa, it might be that the term is used to describe the causes or cultivation of boddhicitta.

If that's so then perhaps the "cause" that's mentioned is closer in meaning to the Pali word Bhavana.

  • I think your last sentence is correct, I found a quote and will revise the question to include it. In that sense the phrase might just be a formal designation, but all causes / conditions are equivalent in that we do not have a special term for beneficial results versus harmful ones. Science just says 'cause'. The word 'Origination', to me, is far more powerful and definite than 'cause', so I don't think it is more of an everyday term for what conditions our experience. To me 'conditioning' is associated with physical exercise. Words: can't live with em, can't write on the internet without em! – user2341 May 14 '17 at 21:08
  • Since the last sentence is correct, I edited the answer to mention "bhavana". I think "origination" refers to the "caused", not the "cause": i.e. things 'originate' (a.k.a. 'are originated' or 'come into being') when they're caused and/or when the conditions or prerequisites for their existence are present. I think that condition implies not "cause" but sine qua non. Western logic and/or law distinguishes different kinds of "cause": proximate, ulterior, final., material, etc. – ChrisW May 14 '17 at 21:17
  • The 'cultivation' etymology in your link is beautiful thank you. I guess we are dealing with words scriptures, references that are thousands of years old, so precise definitions are hopeless. We can only dig for insight. – user2341 May 15 '17 at 0:39

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