Does a cause depend on its effect? If so then it seems especially difficult to think about nothingness being made or created.

This is almost the exact opposite of a question I have asked recently (I'm locked out and looking into that), but not quite.

It's usually said that the cause does depend on the cause, in some way

Nāgārjuna argues that cause and effect cannot be substantially distinct. This is because the effect depends existentially on the cause (if the cause did not exist the effect would not exist) and cause depends at least notionally on the effect (if there was no effect the cause would not be called “cause”). The kind of independence demanded by substantial existence, by existence by svabhāva, is simply not available for things which are cause and effect.

But what this notional dependence means I'm not totally sure.

I'm not asking about nothingness, and am not saying that sunyata is nothingness! That could only be the case if the absolute truth is that nothing exists.

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    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 8:05

4 Answers 4


The cause is not dependant on the effect. The effect is dependant on the cause. The concept of Śūnyatā does not mean nothingness. It just means being empty of a self and being empty of satisfaction and being empty of permanence or stability.


Cause and effect are mutually dependent like father and son. If there is no son there is no father, and if no father then no son.

In this way Nagarjuna proves the non-existence of these things except as appearance/emptiness.

He explains that the cause cannot exist prior to the effect, the effect cannot exist prior to the cause and they cannot come into existence simultaneously. Ergo, it's all smoke and mirrors.


Only some effects cause it cause, such as sahajāta-cause, aññamañña-cause, nissaya-cause, etc., but some can not, such as pakatūpanissaya-cause, anantara-cause, etc.

See saṅghaha chapter 8.


When there is ignorance-touch (avijjā-phassa) the effect becomes cause and wandering-on get's on. When there is no avijjā-phassa the effect ends right there, here and now.

[Note: this is a gift of Dhamma, not thought for trade, stakes, exchanges or other gains subject toward decay and should be deleted if it's not giften to give in Dhammic conditions]

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