This is an early post; revised May 10, 2018; re-written February 6, 2021; #2 revised February 10, 2021
What Is Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda?
1. Kusala-mula 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-mula (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 kamma are those that lead to 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, mōha. The akusala-mula 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 experience mundane sense pleasures) due to “good gati” developed by acting with conventional or mundane alobha, adosa, 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, 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, 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, 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 in remaining in the rebirth process. This can be stated in three different ways of understanding: Four Noble Truths, Paṭicca Samuppāda, Tilakkhana.
- With that understanding, alobha, adosa, amoha elevate to a whole 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 “Kusala and Akusala Kamma, Puñña and Pāpa Kamma.”
Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda Involves Kusala Kamma
4. It is the kusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process that leads to Nibbāna. That is why this PS process starts with “kusala-mula paccayā saṅkhāra.”
- As we know, the akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process maintains the rebirth process. Puñña kamma done with mundane versions of alobha, adosa, amoha are ALSO included in “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” in the akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process. See “Kusala and Akusala Kamma, Puñña and Pāpa Kamma.”
- It is critical to understand this distinction. The mundane versions of alobha, adosa, 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-mula cycle are (Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga):
“kusalamūla 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 that are different from the terms in the akusala-mula PS. Let us briefly translate the terms. Here I am describing both pavutti and upapatti PS together.
- With kusala-mula as a condition, one accumulates puññābhi saṅkhāra WITH the comprehension of the Four Noble Truths. Those may be called
- kusala-mula saṅkhāra.
- Such kusala-mula saṅkhāra arises in a 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.
Kusala-Mula Saṅkhāra Lead to Kusala-Mula Vinnana
6. With kusala-mula saṅkhāra as condition, a kusala-mula viññāṇa arises.
- Because the saṅkhāra was generated with a kusala-mula deed, only a kusala-mula viññāṇa arises: “paṭi +ichcha sama uppāda.” The characteristic of this kusala-mula 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 Vinnana Lead to Corresponding Nāmarupa
7. Such kusala-mula viññāṇa lead to corresponding “good” or “kusala-mula” nāmarupa in pavutti Paṭicca Samuppāda or in upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- Those “kusala-mula nāmarupa” are the “mental pictures” that arise in the mind are associated with people and deeds relevant to one’s efforts in attaining Nibbāna. For example, one may be thinking about talking to a Noble friend, and he/she comes to the mind. Or, one could be planning an alms-giving, etc.
- At death, the patisandhi viññāṇa is again according to the kusala-mula 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
8. With such nāmarupa as condition, corresponding salāyatana arise.
- 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
9. 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.
10. 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 Adhimokka (Instead of Taṇhā and Upādāna)
11. 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.
12. With increasing citta pasāda adhimokkha results.
- Adhimokka is normally translated as “decision” or “resolve” where saddhā peaks. Here it means the mind is decisively attracted towards Nibbāna. The mind cools down.
Ariya Bhava and Ariya Jāti
13. With adhimokkha as a condition, (Ariya) bhava arises.
- The resulting existence (or “bhava“) matching that state of mind: “paṭi+ichcha sama uppāda“; one “lives” that experience.
- If it is a rebirth at patisandhi, 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 an Arahant’s death, the kusala-mula PS process stops (forever) without grasping a new bhava.
14. With bhava as a condition, jāti arises.
- The appropriate jāti (Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi) will result in an appropriate realm.
15. 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-mula PS process, here it ends with “Evametesaṃ dhammānaṃ samudayo hoti.”
- Instead of future suffering, conditions for attaining Nibbāna result with the kusala-mula PS process.