I am rereading this answer and I am confused by the quote:

when this exists - that exists. Arising of this leads to arising of that. When this doesn't exist - that doesn't exist. Cessation of this leads to cessation of that.

Let's suppose this is true, and let's consider an event X. By the statement, we should be able to find an event Y which caused X. Similarly for Y till ad infinitum. I think it is reasonable to assume that if we have a set of events in the present X_1,X_2,X_3..., when we repeat this process , all of their "root events" will start to become the same because things happen in context of each other.

For example, I give my friend 5 dollars, then I also lose 5 dollars, now going back a step would go into the event of how the thought of me giving my friend 5 dollars came into our mind or my mind.

Now, we apply extrapolate this idea through all events in the present, then it would be that they're all rooted at a very small set of events. And if one is to yet to apply the claim again, it maybe that all these events are caused by the same event.

So, what would be these fundamental events which led the universe into motion according to buddhism?

  • "we should be able to" ... "I think it is reasonable to assume" Preferences are activities / actions: be careful, be heedful. Arising of this leads to arising of that. Cessation of this leads to cessation of that. Sep 3, 2022 at 14:28
  • After doing a long research, the independent scholar Jayarava, concludes that motivation behind Dependent Origination would not be to explain everything (including the physical and the mental world), but to give an account on how mental processes arise and cease. Here you can find his paper on it here (whether you agree with it or not is up to you): jayarava.org/writing/paticca-samuppada-theory-of-everything.pdf Sep 3, 2022 at 14:56

3 Answers 3


As the Buddha explained many times, it's not 'Y => X', it's '(A,B,C,D..Q) => X'.

In other words, every individual phenomenon that we can call out and delineate in a spatiotemporal continuum of phenomena is a samskara (~bundle, assembly) of many, many, Many factors and conditions coming together at that time and in that place, them together forming or constituting that emergent phenomenon.

Removing or modifying just one of those factors affects the phenomenon in some way, and removing some of the necessary factors makes the phenomenon lose its shape entirely, to a point when we say the phenomenon no longer exists.

Of course, an individual phenomenon is a simplification, there are no boundaries drawn in space or in time, marking the phenomena for us. We draw these boundaries in our minds, based on our observations, generalizations, and conceptualizations.

In any case, your assumption that all phenomena must converge to a single God Phenomenon that started the spawning of all the other ones is just that, an assumption. If you take the '(A,B,C,D..Q) => X' model it's not at all evident that phenomena converge backwards to a fewer number of predecessors. In fact I'd say it's almost kinda clear they don't. Especially if you remember that phenomena are delineated by an observer and their delineation (and therefore their number!) depends on the scale and mode of observation.

Anyway, that statement about causality that Buddha made was not meant to explain the cosmology of the material universe. It was meant to be put to practice for improving one's karma, removing the causes of clashes and discords that we experience as sufferings, and attaining peace.

One part of that practice is accepting the inevitability of all assembled (conditioned) phenomena X eventually ceasing to be themselves when their constituent factors '(A,B,C,D..Q)' morph beyond their present arrangement.

Another famous application of the same principle is the Second Noble Truth which declares that suffering, just like all phenomena, emerges as a bundle of causes and conditions coming together and therefore (Third Noble Truth) can be made to disband by removing one or more of its necessary conditions.

Good question, thank you. And I really liked the song you linked in your profile. Check out this one: https://youtu.be/MTIzsTv1ENY


The Buddha taught that a first cause/an origin to the universe cannot be found so the question is not valid.

  • Wouldn't that be in contradicton with the invariant law theN? Sep 3, 2022 at 14:15
  • No because it turns into pure speculation. The Buddha also taught that such questions are not possible to answer and will only agitate the mind. Please see this link on the teaching: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acinteyya#Four_imponderables .
    – user24100
    Sep 3, 2022 at 14:17
  • 1
    @TrystwithFreedom This answer is right. Please see AN 4.77 and SN 15.3.
    – ruben2020
    Sep 3, 2022 at 15:56

There are no contradictions here; it is quite simple! As @Daydream Castle's simple answer illustrates!

The cause or origin of the universe cannot be found. It doesn't mean that the cause of form was nothing, nor does it mean the cause of form was something. At the level of concepts, it's not possible to 'work that out'.

What was the cause of your belly button fluff? Was it the clothes you wore? Or was it the shop from where you bought the clothes? Perhaps the cause of your belly button fluff was the makers of the clothes? Or the plant that grew the cotton from which the clothes were made? Maybe it was photosynthesis - the sun working in combination with the earth to help grow the cotton plant? What about the solar system and the intricate elliptical trajectories of the planets and the sun?

Everything is intimately connected in a way that cannot be encompassed by the mere vocabulary. There isn't an assembly of words that can reconcile with how everything 'seems' dependent on everything else.

So, the next time you pull out some belly button fluff, inspect it carefully and understand that it occurred in the most fascinating, intimate and all-encompassing way!

  • 1
    Ha ha, reducing cosmologic mysteries to a belly button fluff, absolutely love it. Wait no, it's not reducing cosmology, it's actually empowering a piece of fluff by saying that you could ask as many questions about its origin than anything else, big or small. Ho well, still love the analogy.
    – Hoki
    Apr 7, 2023 at 14:19

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