An interesting article about dependent origination

Thanks to Simon for pointing out this article:

Unpopular facts about one of Buddhist philosophy’s most popular doctrines

Most of what he says is obviously true. I don’t understand, however, what he has against the three life idea: the twelve links clearly acknowledge two births, at vinnana and jati, so what’s the problem? The only grounds the author criticizes this interpretation on is the Upanisa Sutta, but that simply doesn’t say what he says it does, namely, that all the factors are in ‘this life’. On the contrary, the Balapandita Sutta, for example, clearly does imply a sequence of lives.

I particularly like his suggestion that the use of ‘nama’ is connected with the patriarchal notion of preserving the family ‘name’. It is a complex matter, but it is true that ones’ ‘name’ is often felt to be the only thing that is immortal. This is felt especially among the patriarchs: because of the uncertainty of paternity, a ‘father’ can never be sure if he really ‘survives’ in his children biologically, so the ‘name’ is all he has. The connection between this and dependent origination, if any, is however very abstract. It is important, however, to do as the author has done, and burrow down ‘underneath’ dependent origination to see where the roots of it lie in Indic culture.


2 thoughts on “An interesting article about dependent origination

  1. Dear Bhante

    It looks like Mazard shows the lingering influence of Ven Nanavira…

    There are just so many commentaries on Namarupa as a nidana. You have –

    1. Ven Nanavira’s explanation, based on his understanding of DN 15’s adhivacanasamphassa and patighasamphassa and how that relates Namarupa to Phassa


    2. Ven Nanananda’s explanation, based on the same DN 15 set, but now characterised as “naming” and “striking” respectively

    3. Gombrich (citing Jurewicz) and his theory that the nidanas with Namarupa were Vedic precedents (somewhat like #2) and the Buddha was actually parodying this precedent, but the redactors of the Canon confused the humour with seriousness

    4. Sue Hamilton, also citing Vedic precedents, but her interpretation of Namarupa as that being the conceived/named and the apperceived.

    I’ve not read the Commentarial explanation.

    What are we to make of all of these? It’s enough to make one despair…

  2. Bhante the dialogue reminds me of the old medieval belief when dealing with withches. you had to use the withches name in order to overpower the witch. but i wonderi f it is a continuation of man’s struggle to understand and overpower the conditions and environment of existence through the use of form (language cognition) over formlessness (non verbal felt). Both have the truth of their existence but can they be brought together (grand theory of unification) via the theroy of dependent origination? But m an’s continued crawl from the priordial swamp has always been concerned with naming things it seems to comfort us

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