Tipitaka >> Abhidhamma Pitaka >> The Patthanuddesa Dipani
The Buddhist Philosophy of Relations
By Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw, Aggamahapandita, D.Litt.
Translated into English by Sayadaw U Nyana, Patamagyaw of Masoeyein Monastery Mandalay

8. Nissaya Paccaya or the Relation of Dependence

The relation of dependence is of three kinds: coexistent dependence, basic pre-existent dependence, and basic objective pre-existent dependence.

Of these, what is the relation of coexistent dependence? The relation of coexistent dependence embraces all those that are already comprised in the relation of coexistence. Hence the classifications of relation and related things ought here to be understood in the same way as those that have already been set out in the section on the relation of coexistence.

And what is the relation of basic pre-existent dependence? There are six bases--eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and heart. These six bases, during life, are causally related, by way of basic pre-existent dependence, to the seven elements of cognition. The material base itself pre-exists and serves as a standing ground or substratum, and it is therefore called 'basic pre-existent dependence'. Here 'basic' is so called because of its being a standing ground or substratum for mind and mental properties. 'To pre-exist' means to exist beforehand--one thought-moment earlier than its related thing.

Here the rebirth consciousness arises in dependence upon the heartbasis[16] that coexists with it, for there is no pre-existent physical base at that moment. And the first life-continuum arises in dependence upon the same heart-basis which coexists with the rebirth- consciousness. The second life-continuum arises also in dependence upon the heart-basis which coexists with the first life-continuum, and so on with the rest, that is, the third life-continuum arises in dependence upon the heart-basis that coexists with the second life-continuum, and so on and on, until comes the moment of death. Thus should be understood the 'basic pre-existent dependence' which relates to the two elements of cognition, the element of apprehension and the element of comprehension.

Just as a violin sounds only when the violin-bow moves across its strings, and not otherwise, so also the five senses awake only when the five kinds of sense-objects enter the five avenues known as 'five bases', and not otherwise.

The impression is possible only at the static period of the object and of the basis. On account of the impression, the life-continuum vibrates for two moments. And, on account of the vibration of the life- continuum, apprehension occurs. On account of apprehension, the five sense-cognitions are able to arise. Therefore, the five sense-bases (eye, ear, etc.) which have arisen at the nascent instant of the past sub-consciousness, are the 'basic pre-existent dependences' of the five elements of sense-cognition.

Now, at the time of death all the six bases come into being only at the nascent instant of the seventeenth sub-consciousness, reckoned backward from the dying-consciousness. No new bases occur after that seventeenth sub-consciousness. So, at the time of death, all sub- consciousness, all six-door-process-cognitions and consciousness of decease arise in dependence upon these, their respective bases that came into being together with the seventeenth sub-consciousness which has arisen previously to them. This is the causal relation of 'basic pre- existent dependence'.

What is the causal relation of 'basic objective pre-existent dependence'? When one is reflecting and holding the view: 'my mind locates itself in dependence upon the matter which is mine, or myself, or my atta', through craving, conceit, and error; or when one is reasoning or speculating thus: 'my mind locates itself in dependence upon matter which is Impermanence, Ill, and No-soul', there arise mind- door cognitions, such as determining, and so forth. During that time, each of the material bases becomes the standing ground for, and also the object of, each of the mind-door cognitions. Therefore, such and such a heart-basis is causally related to such and such a consciousness and its concomitants, by way of basic objective pre-existent dependence. This is the causal relation of 'basic objective pre-existent dependence'. Hence the relation of dependence is of three different kinds.

Here, the dependence by way of Suttanta should also be mentioned. We know that men, animals, trees, and so forth, stand or rest on the earth; the earth in turn, on the great mass of air; and the air, on the limitless empty space underneath. We also know that men establish themselves in houses; bhikkhus, in viharas or monasteries; devas in celestial mansions; and so on with the whole universe. Thus should we understand that everything is causally related to something else by way of dependence.

End of Nissaya-Relation.

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