The Law of Dependent Origination, also known as the Law of Dependent Arising or Pratītyasamutpāda, is a fundamental concept in Buddhism that describes the interdependent nature of all phenomena and the root cause of suffering.
According to the Law of Dependent Origination, all phenomena arise in dependence upon other phenomena. In other words, nothing exists independently or in isolation. Everything is interconnected and arises as a result of multiple causes and conditions.
The Law of Dependent Origination is often depicted in a twelve-fold formula that describes the chain of causation that leads to suffering and rebirth in samsara. This formula begins with ignorance and ends with old age and death, with each link in the chain depending upon the preceding link.
The twelve links in the formula are:
- Volitional formations (mental formations or karma)
- Name and form (mental and physical aspects of experience)
- Six sense bases (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind)
- Contact (the meeting of sense bases and objects)
- Feeling (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral)
- Craving (attachment or aversion to feelings)
- Clinging (holding onto objects or experiences)
- Becoming (the arising of a new existence)
- Old age and death
According to the Law of Dependent Origination, the root cause of suffering is ignorance of the true nature of reality. This ignorance leads to the creation of karma, which perpetuates the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth in samsara. However, through the practice of mindfulness, wisdom, and ethical behavior, it is possible to break the cycle of suffering and achieve liberation from samsara.