Dependent origination

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Dependent Origination (Sanskrit pratītyasamutpāda) is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism.

It has multiple meanings as translated from the Sanskrit. One common interpretation is interdependence which suggests that phenomena (including persons and all living beings) are understood not as discretely existent entities or separate entities. Instead they are coming together of interdependent conditions.[1]

Another aspect of "dependent origination" is that all phenomena, outer and inner, do not appear without any causes. Nor are they caused by a causeless and permanent creator such as the self, time or God. In fact, they arise through the coming together of their own particular causes and conditions.

  • All outer phenomena arise through dependent origination, in the manner of a seed developing into a sprout, for example.
  • And all inner phenomena such as the aggregates arise through dependent origination in the manner of the twelve links.

Other Translations from Sanskrit to English

Dependent origination is one popular translation. There are however many others such as dependent co-arising, interdependent origination, "occurring in dependent connection"; dependent arising, relationistic origination, relativity;

The Six Related Conditions of Dependent Origination

The six related conditions are the five elements plus time:

  1. Earth element which supports
  2. Water which binds
  3. Fire which ripens
  4. Wind or Air which expands
  5. Space which accommodates
  6. Time which gradually changes

These six act as cooperating conditions and assist in the growth from seed to flower of the effects of karma.[2]

See also

Further reading

  • Mipham Rinpoche, Gateway to Knowledge, vol. I, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1997
  • The Dalai Lama, The Meaning of Life, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000 (Revised edition)


  1. Rangjung Yeshe on Dependent Origination
  2. Rigpa Shedra on Dependent Origination Accessed January 3, 2014