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Fundamentals of Buddhism

Today, in this tenth session, we are going to take
up a very important topic in Buddhist studies and this is
the teaching of dependent origination. I am aware of the
fact that many people believe that dependent origination
is a very difficult subject and I would not say that there
is no truth in that belief. In fact, on one occasion
Ananda remarked that despite its apparent difficulty, the
teaching of dependent origination was actually quite
simple; and the Buddha rebuked Ananda saying that in
fact the teaching of dependent origination was very
deep. Certainly in the teaching of dependent origination
we have one of the most important and profound
teachings in Buddhism. Yet I sometimes feel that our
fear of dependent origination is to some extent
unwarranted. There is nothing particularly difficult, for
instance, in the term dependent origination. After all, we
all know what dependent means, and what birth,
origination or arising means. It is only when we begin to
examine the function and application of dependent
origination that we have to recognize the fact that we
have a very profound and significant teaching. Some
indication of this can be gained from the Buddha’s own
statements. Very frequently, we find that the Buddha
expressed His experience of enlightenment in one of
two ways, either in terms of having under stood the
Four Noble Truths, or in terms of having understood the
nature of dependent origination. Again, the Buddha has
often mentioned that in order to attain enlightenment
one has to understand the Four Noble Truths; or
similarly, one has to understand dependent origination.