SN 22.82 and MN 109 state:

The four great elements, bhikkhu, are the cause (hetu) and condition (paccayo) for the manifestation (paññāpanāya) of the form (rupa) aggregate.

Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate.

Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the perception aggregate.

Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the formations (sankhara) aggregate.

Nāmarūpaṃ is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.

Paññāpanāya: This might have been rendered "for the description of the form aggregate". Paññāpanā is literally "making known" and something is "made known" either by becoming manifest or by being described. Footnote: Bhikkhu Bodi

Dependent origination states:

And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition (paccaya) come formations (sankhara). From formations as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes nāmarūpaṃ. From nāmarūpaṃ as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging. From clinging as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

In addition, Dependent Origination defines nāmarūpaṃ as:

Feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention — these are called nāma. The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements — these are called rūpa.

Obviously, there appear to many contradictions between SN 22.82 and Dependant Origination, which include:

  • Rupa caused (hetu) by elements vs rupa conditioned (paccaya) by consciousness

  • Sankhara caused (hetu) by contact vs sankhara conditioned (paccaya) by ignorance.

  • Feeling, perception & intention caused (hetu) by contact vs contact conditioned (paccaya) by sense media conditioned (paccaya) by feeling, perception & intention (nāma).

  • Consciousness caused (hetu) by namarupa vs namarupa conditioned (paccaya) by consciousness.

Is there a contradiction here? Why is this so? How is this resolved?

  • 2
    i don't fully understand why you think there is a contradiction here, rather than different ways of describing something, like how a "tree" can also be "vegetation". maybe add more detail?.
    – user2512
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 2:44
  • The question is for the purpose of stop thinking dogmatically & robotically and to analyse & think deeply about the teachings. Regards Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 6:26
  • 4
    but i don't see how they can be contradictory, unless you are being dogmatic. best wishes
    – user2512
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 15:53
  • They are contradictory because the 1st is about both paññāpanāya & mere aggregates and the 2nd is about samudhaya (origination of suffering) & aggregates subject to clinging. This is also supported by SN 22.56. Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 20:03

5 Answers 5


It's a sublime Dharma, hard to understand, so let's examine some analogies.

Modern physics says that there are electromagnetic waves, such as radio waves and visible light. We can imagine them as some surface where waves spread from the center:

radio waves

We can understand them by analogy with ocean waves:

ocean waves

But there is a big difference: waves in the ocean have water beneath and wind above. So the surface is "material".

Electromagnetic waves, however, don't have anything beneath and anything above. It's an imaginary surface.

Now let us examine what is consciousness. We often imagine it as a result of contact of two things:

  • an organ of perception
  • and something that influences that organ of perception.

Thus we can say that consciousness is a result of contact.

It looks like ocean waves: there is something beneath (water, an organ of perception) and something above (wind, perceived object).

We can say that consciousness doesn't exist if there is no contact of organ of perception and object of perception.

Usually we imagine consciousness as some space that exists independently of everything else; when things appear in that space, they become perceived.

But Dharma asks us: are we sure that there is that immutable, metaphysical space called Consciousness?

We only know directly that consciousness appears when there is contact of organ and object. Does consciousness really exist apart from that?

If we examine that question, we can conclude that there is no actual reason to claim that consciousness exists constantly and independently; it's just our mental model.

Though we can speak about the reality as Only Consciousness (and sometimes it's useful), that is just our modeling; in direct perception Consciousness doesn't really exist (as something absolute or independent).

That helps to realize emptiness - no self - of all things and objects.

Actually all objects are our mental models we create from fluid momentary appearances.

Objects do not exist in themselves. They are only our way to associate individual sense data.

Then we can make another step and say that "objects of perception" and "organs of perception" are in fact our mental models.

The primary phenomena are momentary appearances. "Waves of consciousness".

It's like there are waves, like electromagnetic waves, but we imagine them as ocean waves, with something beneath and something above. In fact, for direct observation something appears. And then we build some mental models on top of that - adding there dualities, like "object" and "organ", or "mind" and "matter".

Consider this: looking at sea, we see waves, and we conclude that there is water beneath and wind above.

Likewise, from "consciousness" we conclude there are forms and mentations of them (rupa & nama).

So various explanations are possible: that from nama-rupa consciousness appears, and that from consciousness nama-rupa appear.

In both cases we talk about the process of creation of mental models.

Awakening and liberation from delusion means we drop thinking of mental models as real things.

It's very sublime Dharma, very hard to understand without direct contemplation.

  • 6
    @Dhammadhatu, a mind entangled in prejudices usually can't understand anything outside of his scope of views. First of all it needs to be trained to refrain from judgments.
    – chang zhao
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 0:59
  • My answer explains that there's no contradiction in those Buddha's words. But there are many contradictions and misconceptions in deluded minds, so they misunderstand sublime Dharma and develop vexations rather than get benefit. Instead of engaging in theoretical stirring they should train in discipline.
    – chang zhao
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 1:26
  • 3
    Very good, I like this answer.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 17:56
  • Liked a wrong answer based in wrong view? While this answer did not even address the whole question, I am confident this answer was refuted, here: buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/22131/… Why don't you attempt to answer the sutta question analytically & thoughtfully using the information in the question & sutta principles rather than falling back on conditioned dogma that is unrelated to the question. Thanks Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 19:42
  • I too think, that this is a very good answer. Upvoted.
    – user2424
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 18:16

When you have questions of this kind, it is good to refer to the next two levels of Dhamma. One can always find the correct meanings to the key words that come up in reading the Sutta Pitaka in other two levels of Dhamma. They are the Vibhanga (The Book of Divisions) of the Abhidamma Pitaka, and the Pattäna Dhamma.

In the Suttas what you normally find is the most basic of the given key word, or theme, or concept. It is only in the other two levels that we get to find the deeper meaning. In reading these, one will see that what is meant by hetu is the root causes, and not just other superficial causes.

Paccaya means condition / conditions. There are 24 “paccaya” or “conditions” that can actually cause an effect to materialize; these are called “Pattäna Dhamma". Three such paccaya, are “hetu paccaya", “annantara samanantara paccaya”, and “annamanna paccaya”.

Hetu, or Root causes, are three if you take it as raga, dosa, and, moha. It is of six type if taken as lobha, dosa, and, moha (for akusala kamma), and alobha, adosa, and amoha (for kusala kamma). Then there are other Conditions.

Lets take the germination of a seed to understand the role of conditions or paccaya. The root condition to bring into existence a tree is embedded in a seed; this is called annantara paccaya. But suitable conditions for that seed to germinate are in fertile soil with adequate sunlight and water; this is called samanantara paccaya. Therefore, both annantara and samanantara paccaya must be satisfied to bring a tree to existence.

Since PS describes the “cause and effect” in Buddha Dhamma, most people think “avijja paccaya sankhara” means “avijja causes sankhara”, or that “sankhara paccaya vinnana” means “sankhara causes vinnana”. Any effect must have a cause. But there can be possible causes without leading to any effects.

The causes for bringing up a new tree are embedded in a seed. But just because a seed is there, a tree is not going to appear. If the seed is kept in a cool, dry place, one could keep it that way for a long time. Or one could burn or crush the seed, and it will not bring up a tree.

In order for causes to bring about corresponding effects, suitable conditions must be present. That is what paccaya means. When such suitable conditions are present, causes will bring about corresponding effects. Thus when some effect is brought about, it is called “paccuppanna“, i.e., born (“uppanna“) via suitable conditions (“paccaya“); of course if the root causes must be there to begin with).

In the above example, if one plants that seed (cause) in a the ground and provides water, nutrients, and sun light (suitable conditions), then the seed could germinate and grow to a tree (effect or the result).

  • The topic owner is buddhadāsa's student, anti abhidhammist. He also denied rebirth and try to cut it off tipitaka, too. So he can not understand your answer, at all. Even if I use just sutta's pali, to connect together, to answer him, he still denied.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 21:05
  • I feel hugely sympathetic towards dhammadhatu as he has only the English translations of the Dhamma to go with. That is why he sees that there is only one Paticca samuppada (PS). If he sees that it is one of many PS, he would have named it as Akusala-Mula PS. For instance there is a kusala-mula PS (Avyakruta PS) and it does not have Ignorance (avidya), Rupa [only has Nama], Salayatana [has Pattayatana instead], Craving, and Clinging. This is the PS of the Arahants (the Enlightened Ones) Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 21:22

Each reality has many aspects in self because it is arised by many causes, except nibbāna. Also, those, many aspects of each reality, are the answers that why it, each reality, makes many effects, too.

Buddha taught just some aspect or some paccaya of an effect, because of the ability of listener. It doesn't mean an effect has just that paccaya in that sutta. Buddha can not teach everything to low ability people. Buddha choose some part of reality and sammuti, that proper for specific listener, then author each sutta to make that listener access to insight 4 noble truths to enlighten. If too much the listener may bored, but if too less the listener may doubt.

But in the full ability such as sāriputta, buddha teach him full causes and effects. So commentary said that abhidhamma, that is very advance in detail of realities (causes and effect), was learned by sāriputta.

This topic is the reason that why buddha taught abhidhamma to sāriputta, and why commentaries often said that abhidhamma is vipassanā's object. Also, the answer that why Mun Bhuridatta often carries abhidhammatthasaṅgaha pocket book with himself.

The Answer

Rupa caused (hetu) by elements vs rupa conditioned (paccaya) by consciousness.

4 great matters, 24 matters' elements and some consciousnesses are causes for each other in the same time by sahajātapaccaya.

See: Palileyyakasuttaṃ, anupadasuttaṃ and mahātaṇhakkhayasutta.

Sankhara caused (hetu) by contact vs sankhara conditioned (paccaya) by ignorance. Feeling, perception & intention caused (hetu) by contact vs contact conditioned (paccaya) by sense media conditioned (paccaya) by feeling, perception & intention (nāma). Consciousness caused (hetu) by namarupa vs namarupa conditioned (paccaya) by consciousness.

Vedanā/saññā/sankhara-khandha (akusala[included avijjā], kusala, and āneñja-kusala) caused by contact (phassa), that caused by 18 dhātū (eye-color-eye consciousness,...). 6 āyatana (in 18 dhātu) caused by nāma-rūpa because of sahajāta-paccaya (see the first answer). Nāma-rūpa caused by consciousness because of mano pubbaṅgamādhammā (indriya-paccaya). Indriya-paccaya is one part of sahajāta-paccaya. Consciousness caused by saṅkhāra because of mano pubbaṅgamādhammā, too.


sankhara-paṭiccasamuppāda is apuññā[included avijjā]/puññā/ānañjābhisaṅkhāra that caused by contact (phassa), also. Loop.

See: use pali, that I gave, to search yourself, such as kusalasaññā, domanassā pāpakā akusalā (for vedanā), etc.

You must recite tipitaka to understand this answers. Also, you must notice the real life, too. This topic is about life, not just alphabet. For the example "can phassa arise without vedanā?", "Has or not self cakkhu-samphassajāvedanā, without color&consciousness?", etc.

  • Mano is consciousness. Buddha use the difference words in the same sutta, to avoid misunderstanding in difference type of consciousness. But some many low quality students of thai, buddhadāsa and many bikkhu in his age, can't understand this high level pali study. Because thai buddhism loose our ancient study system in colonized war. So, I have to learn this from burmar.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 6:00
  • Every book has it's own method to read. It is the important job of the author to write the book's reading method. The writer, who have not done it, is not professional. And he is Irresponsible.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 6:11
  • No, thinking are manoviññāna.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 6:20
  • You never read this pali, "manasāpi dhammaṃ vijānāti"? (khaṇasuttaṃ)
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 6:26
  • This phrase has no "saha" word, so can not translate as "with". Your translation is out of pali-rule.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 6:42

I have a 2nd answer to my wonderful, insightful & important question.

In his SN, Bhikkhu Bodhi has made the footnote:

Paññāpanāya: This might have been rendered "for the description of the form aggregate". Paññāpanā is literally "making known" and something is "made known" either by becoming manifest or by being described.

This word 'paññāpanāya' is found in many suttas in relation to the teaching activity of the Buddha as 'declaration'. The Pali dictionaries say:

paññāpana neuter declaration; preparation; (of seats, etc.)
paññāpana neuter disclosure, discovering MN.iii.17; SN.iii.59; declaration Dhs-a.11. fr. paññāpeti paññapeti pa + ñā + āpe regulates or make a rule; makes known; declares; prepares (a set, etc.).

SN 22.82 concludes with the verse:

These are the ten questions The bhikkhu came to ask: Two about the aggregates, Whether the same, can there be, Designation and the cause, Two about identity, One each on gratification And this body with consciousness.

It was the questioner who used the term "what is the cause for paññāpanāya" (ko hetu ko paccayo paññāpanāya).

Thanissaro explanation is non-sense, illogical & without conviction, as follows:

Delineation (paññapana) literally means, "making discernible." This apparently refers to the intentional aspect of perception, which takes the objective side of experience and fabricates it into discernible objects. In the case of the aggregates, the four great existents, contact, and name-&-form provide the objective basis for discerning them, while the process of fabrication takes the raw material provided by the objective basis and turns it into discernible instances of the aggregates. This process is described in slightly different terms in SN 22.79.

Importantly, this topic paragraph from SN 22.82 refers to the mere five aggregates rather than the five aggregates subject to clinging.

This is the same causality as SN 22.56, although SN 22.56 is about aggregates subject to clinging, which states:

And what is form? The four great existents and the form derived from them: this is called form. From the origination of nutriment comes the origination of form. From the cessation of nutriment comes the cessation of form.

And what is feeling? These six classes of feeling — feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of tongue-contact, feeling born of body-contact, feeling born of intellect-contact: this is called feeling. From the origination of contact comes the origination of feeling. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling.

And what is perception? These six classes of perception — perception of form, perception of sound, perception of smell, perception of taste, perception of tactile sensation, perception of ideas: this is called perception. From the origination of contact comes the origination of perception. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of perception.

And what are fabrications? These six classes of intention — intention with regard to form, intention with regard to sound, intention with regard to smell, intention with regard to taste, intention with regard to tactile sensation, intention with regard to ideas: these are called fabrications. [b][u]From the origination of contact comes the origination of fabrications[/u][/b]. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of fabrications.

And what is consciousness? These six classes of consciousness — eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness: this is called consciousness. From the origination of name-&-form comes the origination of consciousness. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness.

I have come to the conclusion the term 'paññāpanāya' in SN 22.82 and MN 109 is idiosyncratic to the questioner rather than a term the Buddha would ideally use because the term is not used in SN 22.56, which is an unprompted discourse.

Also, at the end of SN 22.82, the Buddha did not say in the closing verse that the bhikkhu came to ask to about 'paññāpanāya'. Instead, the Buddha remarked the bhikkhu came to ask about 'the cause' (hetunā).

It seems the questioner asked about the cause of 'paññāpanāya' & the Buddha has given a slightly different answer about the mere cause (hetu) of the mere aggregates.

In conclusion, SN 22.82 is only about what causes the aggregates existentially. It is not about how the aggregates are affected by the Dependent Origination of ignorance.


SN 22.82 appears to be about 'paññāpanāya', namely, how the aggregates manifest or come to be known. Therefore it uses the word 'hetu', which means preceding 'cause'.

SN 12.2 (dependent origination) is about 'samudhaya', namely, the origination of suffering, which is about how the aggregates found multiples times within the multiple conditions (paccaya) are tainted by ignorance leading to suffering.

Therefore, the two teachings (SN 22.82 & SN 12.2) appear completely different & unrelated to each other.

SN 22.82, in particular, shows how dependent origination (SN 12.2) is not about the reincarnation, come into existence &/or knowing (paññāpanāya) of the aggregates but about how the aggregates are tainted by ignorance & leading to suffering.

  • 2
    Why do you ask a question, put a bounty on it, recieve 2 answers, one of which is actually a well-made answer, and then answers your own question, thereafter accepting it, so none of the other contributors will recieve the bounty? I think this is not good practice.
    – user2424
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 19:30
  • I sincerely thought both other answers were totally irrelevant. Neither answer made any reference to the respective suttas. Others are welcome to make an answer & receive the bounty (since the bounty is still open since I cannot give the bounty to myself). regards Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 19:34
  • My question is an excellent question. Resistance to the question reflects very poorly upon students who seem to want to cling to established dogma rather than reflect closely upon teachings. Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 19:35
  • So bias. You decide to disconnect sutta with sutta, although the pali words can connect together because you disagree with rebirth. Oh! my buddha, he is tipitaka cutter.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 19:36
  • 3
    Until you using theravāda tipitaka, theravāda people can vote down you. Because at 1st saṅgāyanā, saṅgha made the unanimous decision to keep all rules without cut/add/modify buddha's paññatti. But you try to cut some part of buddha's paññatti off by disconnect the reference of sutta, so theravāda people can vote down you.
    – Bonn
    Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 19:48

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