In Upanisa Sutta Suffering is noted as a supporting condition for faith, I have a faint idea of how this could be, but I have a hard time following it as I did all other supporting conditioned listed in a successive order. Could you please shade a light.

Thanks a mil

Faith, monks, also has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for faith? 'Suffering' should be the reply.

Upanisa Sutta: Discourse on Supporting Conditions_translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

4 Answers 4


The sutta lists links of dependent origination, backwards.

So I'd read it as "With existence as condition, birth. With birth as condition, suffering. With suffering as condition, faith."

I expect it means faith in the four noble truths, for example: i.e. because of (conditioned by) suffering you agree with the noble truths (including the first noble truth), and develop confidence in the Buddha's teaching.

Note that suffering is the end or final result of samsara ... and faith is the beginning or first step towards liberation. So this sutta lists two sequences of links (the conditions of suffering and the conditions of liberation), and links the two together there.

There is a longer article on the sutta here, which talks about how faith arises, and a shorter one here.

You might possibly be confused by the term "supporting condition": other translations may include "proximate condition", "requisite condition", "prerequisite".

  • @ Chris Thank you.
    – user10552
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 18:28
  • So, in upanissa-commentary said that suffering refer to suffering that buddha or buddhasāvaka explain to the listener who can understand suffering-explanation of buddha. Then the listener has faith arise because of that explained suffering.
    – Bonn
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 22:23

Suffering drove Prince Gautama to renounce his comfortable life and find the path to the end of suffering. Hence suffering should be enough to motivate us to have faith in the path found by Gautama Buddha.

From the Sukhamala Sutta:

'Subject to birth, subject to aging,
subject to death,
run-of-the-mill people are repelled by those who suffer
from that to which they are subject.
And if I were to be repelled
by beings subject to these things,
it would not be fitting for me,
living as they do.'

As I maintained this attitude —
knowing the Dhamma
without acquisitions —
I overcame all intoxication
with health, youth, & life
as one who sees
renunciation as rest.

For me, energy arose,
Unbinding was clearly seen.
There's now no way
I could partake of sensual pleasures.
Having followed the holy life,
I will not return.

You can find the definition of the faith (or conviction) follower and dhamma follower in the Kitagiri Sutta and the Vinnana Sutta (and the other suttas in SN25).

  • It is interesting to note that it was not his own suffering that drove the prince to seek an end to it, but the realization of the truth of the suffering of all people (beings). Perhaps the supporting condition of wisdom and realization is compassion?
    – user2341
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 11:23

It is said in the suttas that one who is suffering will sink even more in suffering or will begin a search out of it. Now when one hears the Dhamma that initial suffering helps the person to have faith in the Path.

Also when one is enjoying the sensual pleasures of the world, somone like a prince, on hearing the Dhamma faith may not be established in him.


Suffering motivates the practice of mindfulness meditation, only if (1) a person understands what type of experience constitutes suffering, (2) a person understands the causes of such suffering, and (3) a person understands how mindfulness meditation removes the causes of such suffering. There is a psychology behind mindfulness meditation that is not easy to understand. You can ask a meditation master who is accustomed to Western students. Or you can read my book on meditation.

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