Pratitya-samutpada and I-ness

Pratityasamutpada is one of the 4 doctrines of Buddhist Philosophy. The word Pratityasamutpada translates to ‘Dependent Origination’. The doctrine claims that every effect has a cause and every phenomenon that arises is because of some cause. The Pratityasamutpada can be explained with a simple example of A (cause) → B (effect), when condition A exists only then effect B arises. And -A → -B, if condition A does not exist then effect B does not arise. In simpler terms, an effect arises only and only if there exists a cause for its rise.

Therefore, the existence of metaphysical entities like God, soul etc is denied by this doctrine because nothing can come into existence on its own will. Everything has a cause and effect cycle, and the metaphysical entities fail to fulfil this condition. This cause and effect connection is also known as the ‘causal link or ‘causal nexus’.

If we try to understand the translation of the word Pratityasamutpada, i.e. Dependent Origin, we can infer that the origin of every object, event or phenomenon is dependent on something else. And everything that exists in this world did not come into being on its independent will but as an effect of some cause.

Since everything is dependent, conditional, subject to death and birth therefore Pratityasamutpada states that everything in the world is impermanent.

Pratiyasamutpada is contained in the 2nd and 3rd noble truths. The reason why suffering comes into being is due to ‘existence’. Thus, suffering is samsara (the cycle of death and birth) and the path to eliminate this suffering is Nirvana.

Buddha gave the 12 links of the causal wheel of dependent origin which are as followed:

(1) Ignorance (avidya).

(2) Impressions of karmic forces (samskara).

(3) Initial consciousness of the embryo (vijnana).

(4) Psycho-physical organism (nama-rupa).

(5) Six sense-organs including mind (sadayatana).

(6) Sense-object-contact (sparsha).

(7) Sense-experience (vedana).

(8) Thirst for sense-enjoyment (trsna).

(9) Clinging to this enjoyment (upadana).

(10) Will to be born (bhava).

(11) Birth or rebirth (jati).

(12) Old age and death (jara-marana).

Avidya or ignorance, which refers to the false concept of ‘I’ or ‘Individuality’, leads to the bearing and breeding of Karma which in turn leads to rebirth, and this in turn leads to suffering in life. The consciousness is believed to be the only entity that persists even after death and this consciousness serves as the connecting link between past life and a new birth. (connecting link between old and new). Nirvana is the only way to cease his consciousness and thereby prevent rebirth and suffering.

If we simplify this ‘I’ concept, you’ll realise how most of your life’s perspective begins with ‘I’. For instance, “I don’t want to do this.” “It’s because of me that this happened.” “I’m so not worth it.” 

Because of this ‘I’ – ness you grow blind to the facts, situations and even the feelings of another person. That’s why you need to eradicate this egoistic ‘I’ ness and shape it to the one that’ll be beneficial for you. Not tormenting.