0

I read the following on the internet:

The principle of dependent origination is held to be the law of conventional reality - as such it is a generalized law.

What words of the Buddha are there to support or, otherwise, refute this claim?

3
  • From where you have picked up this statement, there itself it was suggested to read through some sutras and other readings that would help you to understand. However, posing a question here may too hopefully help you! Oct 7, 2023 at 11:36
  • @HomagetoManjushri "Read through some sutras" is not informative as an answer nor a comment -- better to identify which some specific sutra[s] (which I think is what the question is asking for), preferably even with a quote to show how the referenced sutra is answer to the question. So far as I know the one reference you posted is plato.stanford.edu/entries/twotruths-india
    – ChrisW
    Oct 8, 2023 at 8:11
  • Yes, by itself it is not informative. I completely agree. In fact, to do just that would be unkind. I apologise if that is how it appears. But in my answer and comments, I have provided reasons and sources. I have emphasised that it is a vast topic and to say a few things, provide a few references cannot do justice to the depth of Buddha's teachings, especially for people who come across something for the first time. For them, I add the wish that they read more sutras so the answer provided here becomes more meaningful or sensical. Oct 8, 2023 at 8:23

3 Answers 3

1

In the Pali Suttas, there is no such term as "conventional reality". In the Pali Suttas, the word "convention" is simply used to refer to how the enlightened view certain matters pertaining to how the ordinary unenlightened world views things. For example:

“Someone who has given up conceit has no ties, the ties of conceit are all dissipated. Though that intelligent person has transcended identity, they’d still say, ‘I speak’, and also ‘they speak to me’. Skillful, understanding the world’s conventions, they’d use these terms as no more than expressions.”

SN 1.25

In SN 20.7, the Buddha said his core transcendent teachings of ultimate reality are connected to emptiness:

'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."

In MN 117, the doctrine of Dependent Origination is not included in those teachings not connected to emptiness; that are not transcendent:

And what is right view? Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions [of becoming]; there is right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

"And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

"And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

SN 12.12 is merely one of many Pali Suttas demonstrating how Dependent Origination expresses emptiness:

"Who, O Lord, has a sense-impression?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One.

"I do not say that 'he has a sense-impression.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who has a sense-impression?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of sense-impression?' And to that the correct reply is: 'The sixfold sense-base is a condition of sense-impression, and sense-impression is the condition of feeling.'"

"Who, O Lord, feels?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he feels.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who feels?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of feeling?' And to that the correct reply is: 'sense-impression is the condition of feeling; and feeling is the condition of craving.'"

"Who, O Lord, craves?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One. "I do not say that 'he craves.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who craves?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of craving?' And to that the correct reply is: 'Feeling is the condition of craving, and craving is the condition of clinging.'"

"Who, O Lord, clings?"

"The question is not correct," said the Exalted One, "I do not say that 'he clings.' Had I said so, then the question 'Who clings?' would be appropriate. But since I did not speak thus, the correct way to ask the question will be 'What is the condition of clinging?' And to that the correct reply is: 'Craving is the condition of clinging; and clinging is the condition of the process of becoming.' Such is the origin of this entire mass of suffering.

Therefore, as was posted elsewhere, yet rejected by those following heretic ideologies, Dependent Origination is not a man-made "convention" born of ignorance but is a Law of Nature, existing regardless of human perception/realisation of it. Thus the Lord Buddha revealed:

Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands — this regularity of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma, this this/that conditionality. The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, makes it plain, & says, 'Look.' From birth as a requisite condition comes aging & death.

SN 12.20

To reiterate, 'conventions' are man-made phenomena. Thus the Law of Dependent Origination is not a 'conventional reality'.

In individual human bodies you can’t find such distinctions. The distinctions among humans are spoken of by convention.

MN 98

1
  • As much as it is good to have opinions, it does not amount to technical terminlogoies. Comapring the word convention, conventional reality and then having implications is your opinion. It is not the reasoning of BUddha (or for that matter any successive Buddhist Philosopher) Oct 7, 2023 at 11:28
0

The first sutta Dhammacakkapavattana sutta, you find mention of two truths. In other sutras delivered after, there is detailed explanations of two-truths, of samvritti satya and paramartha satya. The two have been translated as conventional truth and ultimate truth. These are words of Buddha.

When the natural law is expressed in conventional language and about the apparent world, it is expressed as dependent origination. When the natural law is expressed from the truth of the highest meaning, it is labelled as ultimate truth.

Furthermore, it has been established by later Buddhist Philosophers (without contradicting the words of the Buddha) that dependent origination and sunyata are two sides of the same coin. Dependent origination is the (generalised law) that explains the phenomenal truth of conventional reality sunyata is the (generalised law) which helps explain the truth of ultimate reality.

EDIT- To infer two-truths from Dhammacakkapavatta sutra may be perhaps difficult (for some people) therefore I add a reference from another sutra where you can explicitly see the articulation of two expressions for the same truth- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an02/an02.025.than.html

Here is an anrticle which may perhaps better guide you in understanding two-truths theory- https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/twotruths-india/#PriLit

4
  • If dependent origination is conventional truth then can you give example of highest truth ? How natural law of highest meaning is expressed? Oct 7, 2023 at 12:47
  • @Dheeraj Verma I appreciate your question. It is not borne out of cynicism. Its expression as sunya (and later on sunyata) articulates the law of highest meaning- patticaya samutpada. Oct 8, 2023 at 7:03
  • @HomagetoManjushri Meditation on emptiness , meditation on impermanence, meditation on ugliness ,meditation on not-self etc all lead to same Nibbana. Why emptiness has highest meaning? Can you provide some reference? Oct 8, 2023 at 7:13
  • 1
    @Dheeraj Verma It's an important and good question. I hope what i write helps you to look more into it. Emptiness of all phenomena, "sarva dharma sunyata-lakshana" is the reason why nirvana is possible in the first place. Suffering or miseries are not objectively real. They are empty of objectivity. And because they are so, it is possible to remove them. The realisation that things are not as how they appear in cultivated through emptiness of self (anatta) and emptiness of all phenomena. This is the reason why the soteriological truth of the highest meaning is expressed using sunyata. Oct 8, 2023 at 8:29
-1

The Law of Dependent Origination is not a "convention" or "conventional reality".

However, the Law of Dependent Origination certainly does explain how (what the enlightened regard as) "ignorant conventions" originate.

The ignorant view of "a being" ("satta") is a delusion & convention in the Buddha's Teaching. SN 5.10 says:

Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view? This is a heap of sheer constructions: Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts, The word 'chariot' is used, So, when the aggregates are present, There's the convention 'a being.'

It's only suffering that comes to be, Suffering that stands and falls away. Nothing but suffering comes to be, Nothing but suffering ceases.

SN 23.2 states:

'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

SN 12.2 explains what Dependent Origination is, including how ignorance causes the delusional conventions of "beings" ("satta") to originate:

And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.

Therefore, while those "conventions" called "beings" originate due to the Law of Dependent Origination, the Law of Dependent Origination itself is not a convention.

It seems many confuse The Law with the results of the law. Just because being imprisoned in jail is undesirable; does not mean having Law is undesirable. Similarly, just because the Law of Dependent Origination describes how conventional delusions of 'self/beings' arise, does not mean the Law itself is delusional or conventional. The Law is merely the natural Law.

0

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .