This is an early post; re-written February 6, 2021; revised August 27, 2022; May 5, 2023 (#6 added)
What Is Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda?
1. Kusala-Mūla version of Paṭicca Samuppāda (PS) describes the way to Nibbāna. It is not described in even the current Theravada texts, even though it is in the Tipiṭaka. Since the time Buddhghosa wrote Visuddhimagga, all Theravada texts followed his books instead of Tipiṭaka.
- That means the PS process for attaining Nibbāna has NOT been described for over 1500 years. No wonder the Nibbāna has been hidden for all these years.
- Kusala-Mūla (pronounced “moola”) PS describes the PS process for acting with alobha, adosa, and amoha with an understanding of the Four Noble Truths. That goes beyond the mundane versions of alobha, adosa, and amoha. We will discuss that below.
- Of course, the Kusala–Mūla PS process is unknown to the world without Buddha’s true teachings.
- By the way, the word “kusala” comes from “ku” (defilements)+ “sala” (abandon.) Thus, kusala kammā leads to the removal/abandonment of defilements (akusala.)
Regular Version of Alobha, Adosa, Amoha Keeps One in the Rebirth Process
2. One is born in this world due to the six root causes.
- One is born in the apāyā or dugati (and also subjected to suffering even when born in good realms) due to bad gati arising MAINLY due to lōbha, dōsa, and mōha. The Akusala-Mūla PS operates when actions, speech, and thoughts occur with these three root causes; see, “Akusala-Mūla Paṭicca Samuppāda. “
- One is born in the “good realms” or sugati (and also experiences mundane sense pleasures) due to “good gati” developed by acting with conventional or mundane alobha, adosa, and amoha. For example, one can engage in “good deeds” like giving, helping out others, etc., or cultivate jhāna. Those are done with mundane versions of alobha, adosa, and amoha and can lead to rebirths in human, Deva, and Brahma realms. However, they WILL NOT lead to Nibbāna, i.e., stopping the rebirth process.
- It is ONLY when one is acting with alobha, adosa, and amoha (and comprehension of Four Noble Truths/Tilakkhana/Paṭicca Samuppāda) that those actions lead to Nibbāna via “Kusala-Mūla Paṭicca Samuppāda“ that e are discussing now.
- The above points are also discussed in detail in “Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna).”
There Are Two Tiers of Alobha, Adosa, Amoha
3. The uniqueness in Buddha Dhamma reveals two tiers (or levels) of alobha, adosa, and amoha.
- All religions teach that it is good to act with alobha, adosa, and amoha. Of course, the Buddha advised that too.
- However, if one is to stop future suffering in the rebirth process, one MUST see the dangers of remaining in the rebirth process. This can be stated in three different ways of understanding: Four Noble Truths, Paṭicca Samuppāda, and Tilakkhana.
- With that understanding, alobha, adosa, and amoha elevate to a new level. One is now engaged in “good deeds,” not seeking “good rebirths” but to be released from the rebirth process. In other words, now, one’s goal is to attain Nibbāna.
- Good deeds done without a deeper understanding of the Four Noble Truths are puñña kammā. One gets “good rebirths” with puñña kammā. When one starts understanding the Four Noble Truths, such actions AUTOMATICALLY become kusala kammā and help attain Nibbāna.
- This is discussed in detail in “Kamma, Saṅkhāra, And Abhisaṅkhāra – What Is “Intention”? | Pure Dhamma.”
Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda Involves Kusala Kamma
4. It is the Kusala-Mūla Paṭicca Samuppāda process that leads to Nibbāna. That is why this PS process starts with “Kusala-Mūla paccayā saṅkhāra.”
- As we know, the Akusala-Mūla Paṭicca Samuppāda process maintains the rebirth process. Puñña kamma done with mundane versions of alobha, adosa, and amoha are ALSO included in “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” in the Akusala-Mūla Paṭicca Samuppāda process. See “Kilesa – Relationship to Akusala, Kusala, and Puñña Kamma.”
- It is critical to understand this distinction. The mundane versions of alobha, adosa, and amoha still lead to Akusala-Mūla PS cycles that keep one in the rebirth process. It is ONLY AFTER one starts comprehending the Four Noble Truths (or the working of the Paṭicca Samuppāda processes or Tilakkhana) that one will start operating under the Kusala-Mūla PS process leading to Nibbāna.
- Now we can look at the steps in the Kusala-Mūla PS process.
Steps in the Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda Process
5. The steps in this Kusala-Mūla cycle are (Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga):
“Kusala-Mūla paccayā saṅkhāro, saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇa paccayā nāmarupaṃ, nāmarupa paccayā salāyatanaṃ, salāyatana paccayā phasso, phassa paccayā vedanā, vedanā paccayā pasādo, pasāda paccayā adhimokkho, adhimokkha paccayā bhavo, bhava paccayā jāti, jāti paccayā jarā maraṇaṃ. Evametesaṃ dhammānaṃ samudayo hoti.“
Here I have marked in blue the terms different from those in the Akusala-Mūla PS. Let us briefly translate the terms. Here I am describing both pavutti and upapatti PS together.
- With Kusala-Mūla as a condition, one accumulates puññābhi saṅkhāra WITH the comprehension of the Four Noble Truths. Those may be called Kusala-Mūla saṅkhāra.
- Such Kusala-Mūla saṅkhāra arises in the mind when doing deeds with lokottara alobha, adosa, amoha. THEREFORE, one does not wish for anything other than Nibbāna because one’s mind automatically rejects anything within the 31 realms.
6. In the above verse, “dhammānaṃ samudayo hoti” refers to four types of “special dhammā“ that arise due to the Kusala-Mūla PS process.
- As we discussed in the post, “What are Rūpa? – Dhammā are Rūpa too!” dhammā means “to bear things in this world.” When one cultivates the Noble Path as an Ariya (Noble Person), one attains four stages magga phala: Sotapanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, and Arahant.
- Dhammā referred to in the above verse are those that “bear” those four magga phala.
Kusala-Mula Saṅkhāra Lead to Kusala-Mula Viññāṇa
7. With Kusala-Mūla saṅkhāra as condition, a Kusala-Mūla viññāṇa arises.
- Because the saṅkhāra was generated with a Kusala-Mūla deed, only a Kusala-Mūla viññāṇa arises: “paṭi +ichcha sama uppāda.” The characteristic of this Kusala-Mūla viññāṇa is the desire (chanda, not kāmacchanda) for Nibbāna.
- The only expectation in one’s mind is to attain Nibbāna and be free of all future suffering.
Kusala-Mula Viññāṇa Lead to Corresponding Nāmarupa
8. Such Kusala-Mūla viññāṇa lead to corresponding “good” or “Kusala-Mūla” nāmarupa in pavutti Paṭicca Samuppāda or in upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- Those “Kusala-Mūla nāmarupa” are the “mental pictures” that arise in mind and are associated with people and deeds relevant to one’s efforts in attaining Nibbāna. For example, one may think about talking to a Noble friend, and he/she comes to mind. Or, one could be planning an alms-giving, etc.
- At death, the paṭisandhi viññāṇa is again according to the Kusala-Mūla viññāṇa. Thus a birth in the lower four realms is avoided for a Sotāpanna, and a birth in the lower 11 realms (kāma loka) is avoided for an Anāgāmi, for example.
Kusala-Mula Nāmarupa Lead to Kusala-Mula Salāyatana
9. With such nāmarupa as a condition, the corresponding salāyatana arises.
- They are attuned to only meritorious deeds tailored towards Nibbāna in pavutti Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- In the case of new (Ariya) birth, the new existence’s sense faculties arise accordingly. They can never be sense faculties for a realm in the apayas.
Subsequent Steps Arise in the Same Way
10. With a salāyatana as a condition, phasso (contact with that sense faculty) arises.
- Note that this is just “phassa” and NOT “san phassa” or “samphassa” as in “Akusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda.”
- Contacts with the outside world are attuned to seeking Nibbāna. To learn dhamma and to practice dhamma.
11. With phassa as a condition, vedana arises.
- Through such interactions, one enjoys contact with dhamma, true knowledge, and understanding.
Such Contacts Lead to Citta Pasāda Followed by Adhimokkha (Instead of Taṇhā and Upādāna)
12. With such a vedana as a condition, citta pasāda arises.
- The “tranquility of consciousness” is the standard translation for citta pasāda. It is of joyous feeling, lightness of heart.
13. With increasing citta pasāda adhimokkha results.
- Adhimokkha is normally translated as “decision” or “resolve” where saddhā peaks. Here it means the mind is decisively attracted to Nibbāna. The mind cools down.
Ariya Bhava and Ariya Jāti
14. With adhimokkha as a condition, (Ariya) bhava arises. Note that an Ariya bhava arises via ELIMINATING an uppatti bhava. For example, one is “born” an Anāgāmi by eliminating the possibility of rebirths in the 11 realms of kāma loka.
- The resulting existence (or “bhava“) matches that state of mind: “paṭi+ichcha sama uppāda“; one “lives” that experience. In the above example, an Anāgāmi does not have the mindset to be reborn in kāma loka.
- If it is a rebirth at paṭisandhi, an appropriate “bhava” is selected according to the kamma nimitta. Here any “apāyagāmi” kamma seeds acquired in the distant past do not get a chance to come to the forefront, and thus a rebirth in the lower four realms is prevented.
- Of course, at Arahant‘s death, the Kusala-Mūla PS process stops (forever) without grasping a new bhava.
15. With bhava as a condition, jāti arises.
- The appropriate jāti (Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi) will result in an appropriate realm.
16. With jāti as condition, “jāti paccayā jarā maraṇaṃ. Evametesaṃ dhammānaṃ samudayo hoti.”
- Any Ariya is also subject to decay and death as long as he/she is in one of the 31 realms.
- But here, the connection to dukkha is not shown because one is destined to attain Nibbāna. Thus, instead of “jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti” in the Akusala-Mūla PS process, here it ends with “Evametesaṃ dhammānaṃ samudayo hoti.”
- Instead of future suffering, conditions for attaining Nibbāna result in the Kusala-Mūla PS process.
Difference Between Adhimokkha and Upādāna
17. In the Akusala-mula PS that feeds the rebirth process, the critical step of “upādāna paccayā bhavō” leads to the creation of the kamma bhava (energy to feed future rebirths.)
- That upādāna forces the mind to act with avijjā repeatedly and to strengthen that kamma bhava. That is explained in detail in “Difference Between Tanhā and Upādāna.”
- In contrast, in the Kusala-Mūla PS, that step is replaced by “adhimokkha paccayā bhavō.” That bhava is an Ariya bhava (existence as a Noble Person) that makes any existing kamma bhava (created via Akusala-mula PS processes) ineffective.