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Causality As Soteriology: An Analysis of The Central Philosophy of Buddhism
Hakuin's Daruma

Hsueh-Li Cheng, University of Hawaii at Hilo
Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol.9 1982
Copyright © 1982 by Dialogue Publishing Company, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

 The central message of the Buddha—suffering, its origin, its cessation and the way leading to its cessation—is directly concerned with causality. Therefore, causality has been the central issue in Buddhist thought.(1) The Buddha is reported to have said, "He who sees the pratiityasamutpaada (causality or dependent co-arising) sees the Dharma (Truth), and he who sees the Dharma, sees the pratiityasamutpaada.''(2) Many people hold that all Buddhists have accepted the principle of causality as the objective law governing the constituents of the universe although they have different expressions of the meaning of the pratiityasamutpaada. Some scholars even claim that the Buddha and his disciples believed causality is "necesarily," "eternally," and "universally," as well as "objectively," valid.(3)

But in fact, not all Buddhists regard causality as the objective law of the world. It is debatable that the Buddha believed in the absolute validity of the principle of causation. According to Naagaarjuna, the father of Mahaayaana Buddhism, pratiityasamutpaada is sunyataa (empty); causality is neither rationally nor empirically verificable. For the Maadhyamikas, the concept of causality as the cosmic principle or reality of all things is as untenable as the concepts of aatman and dharmas. The Buddha's use of causality is soteriological in character; his teaching of pratityasamutpaada did not aim to give a description or an explanation of the universe,but to"empty" one's attachments.

Once all illusions are cleared up, causality should be discarded. Naagaarjuna's school of thought is known as the San-lun Tsung(a) (the Three Treatises School) in China, Korea and Japan, for it is based upon three main texts; namely, (1) the Middle Treatise (Chung-lun), (2) the Twelve Gate Treatise. (Shih-erh-men-lun), and (3) the Hundred Treatise (Pai-lun). According to Chinese San-lun masters, one should study these texts together in order to gain a broad philosophical understanding of Buddhist thought.(4) But contemporary Buddhist scholars have seldom studied them together(5) and hence inadequately hold that the Maadhyamikas accept causality as the governing principle of all phenomena(6) or "the nature of reality."(7) Naagaajuna is even said to be "Hiinayaanistic" or "Abhidharmic" in asserting the validity of the chain of twelve causal conditions.(8) Other scholars claim that the Maadhyamikas "raise causality (pratiityasamutpaada) to the level of the transcendental."(9) But in fact the Maadhyamikas accept neither empirical nor transcendental justification of the principle of causality. The first thing Naagaarjuna wanted to do in the Twelve Gate Treatise was to criticize various views of causality, and the first point he wanted to make was that the chain of twelve causal conditions and all other causal relations are not justifiable. For the Madhyamikas, pratiityasamutpaada is not a metaphysical theory nor specualtion on the world. Like Emptiness and the Middle Way, it is primarily a pedagogic tool (chiao-ti); it has no intellectual validity, merely practical value, helping sentient beings rid themselves of ignorance and illusions. If any one fails to see the "empty" nature of this device, he cannot see the Buddha's Dharma.

The main purpose of this paper is to present from Chinese sources the San-lun Madhyamika treatment of the problem of causality. In what follows, I will first show how the San-lun Madhyamikas repudiate the intellectual justification of causality as the ultimate principle of the universe and clarify Nagarjuna's standpoint concerning the chain of twelve causal conditions. I will then expound the San-lun Madhyamika teaching of pratiityasamutpaada as Emptiness and the Middle Way, and reveal how they use causality as a soteriological device to refute various erroneous views. Finally, the central message of Buddhism will be briefly re-examined in the light of the Maadhyamika teaching of causality as soteriology.


The so-called pratityasamupada is traditionally given in the following formula:

"When this is, that is;
This arising, that arises;
When this is not, that is not;
This ceasing, that ceases."(10)

Most people interpret this principle as saying:

"When this entity exists, that entity exists;
This entity arising, that entity arises;
When this entity does not exist, that entity does not exist;
This entity ceasing, that entity ceases."

They give ontic status to the principle, interpreting the terms "this" and "that" in the formula as referring to entities or objects which possess essential nature or self-nature. The principle of causal relation is the objective law governing the constituents of the universe. This is the onotological interpretation of causal relation, which most early scholastic Buddhists seemed to follow. For them, this principle gives "the real description" of the reality of the universe. Whatsoever exists is a cause; cause and existence are synonymous.

The notion of causation is used by Hinayana Buddhists to describe both moral and physical phenomena. The principle of causal relations shows necessary connections between various events and can be stated as a moral law and a physical law. When the principle is enunciated as a moral law, it means that there are good deeds and rewards for them; and there are bad deeds and punishments.(11) When the principle is stated as a physical law, it means that every individual fact is conditioned by or dependent on something else; pratiityasamutpaada is the causal law regulating the rise and fall of all factors or elements (dharmas).(12) There are four "external" causal conditions (wai-yin-yuuan)(13) and twelve "internal" causal conditions (nei-yin-yuuan)(14) which are usually enumerated in early Buddhist treatises. Each of these is conditioned (paticcasamuppanna) as well as conditioning (paticcasamuppaada) .(15) When viewed from the antecedent cause, each is an effect, but when viewed from the effect, each is a cause. The chain or cycle of twelve causal conditions is the true picture of the wheel of existence. The principle of causality was believed by early Buddhists to be "objectively," "necessarily," and "eternally" as well as "universally" valid.(16) But according to Nagarjuna, the thesis that pratiityasamuttpaada is the objective law governing the constituents of the world can be stated and known only from the standpoint of conventional truth. Ordinary experience seems to show that a thing or event is never found by itself alone, but always together With others which stand around it and constitute its circumstances and "causal conditions." Causality is useful in our ordinary life. However, were we to try to find out intellectually what a causal relation or a causal process actually is, we would be baffled.

Naagaarjuna argued that it is impossible to explain the relationship between a cause and an effect and to relate entities. Any view of causation leads to certain contradictions or absurdities. In his writings, he critically examined many possible relationships between cause and effect. (17) Naagaarjuna used the tetralemma as the main logical apparatus to investigate the rational explanation of causal relationships. The so-called tetralemma states that there are four possible views for every aspect of reality: (1) thesis, (2) antithesis, (3) both thesis and antithesis, and (4) neither thesis nor antithesis. If there is a causal relation among things in the universe, Naagaarjuna asked, what is that relation? Is an effect already real in a cause and then is produced by the cause? Is an effect at the outset unreal in a cause and yet is produced by the cause? Is an effect both real and unreal in a cause and then is produced by the cause? Is an effect neither real nor unreal in a cause and yet is produced by the cause?(18) By showing that all these causal relations cannot be established, Naagaarjuna argued that causal production is really impossible.

"An effect is real in a cause and then is produced by the cause," for the Maadhyamikas, this is an absurd statement. For the so-called effect is that which is caused, made or produced. But before causal making or production, there is not that which is made or produced. How can there be any effect in the cause? If the so-called effect is not that which is made, but that which is yet to be made, an effect cannot be real in a cause either, for that which is yet to be made is not yet real. How can it be real in a cause? Furthermore, if an effect is already real in a cause, why must it be produced again? It is like that which has been done does not need to be done, and that which has been achieved does not need to be achieved. Nothing new is produced and hence there cannot be a causal production in this case. If there were causal production, then there would be sons, grandsons, great-grandsons and great-great-grandsons in the womb of a mother, for effects are, in principle, already real in a cause;but this is absurd. Besides if an effect is already real in a cause, the so-called "cause" would be only a location and cannot be called a cause. It may be argued that the claim that "an effect is real in a cause and then is produced by the case" means that an effect is "potentially real" in a cause and becomes "actually real" later on. But, for the Maadhyamikas, this is unintelligible. For how can one and the same thing or entity be potential and actual in that way? If it were real in that way, it would have two opposite or different essences or natures, and hence would not be "one" and the "same" thing. Moreover, if an effect were potentially real in a cause, it should be observable, for whatever can be conceived to exist can be perceived to exist. But the effect is not perceivable before production. So the thesis that an effect is real in a cause and then is produced by the cause cannot be established.(19)

On the other hand, one cannot claim that an effect is at the outset unreal in a cause and yet is produced by the cause. Nagarjuna argued that if an effect is unreal in a cause and yet is produced by the cause, then, in principle, anything should be capable of being produced from anything else. For example, carts, horses, food and other things would be produced from strings. If "something" can be produced from "nothing," why are only rugs produced from strings? Actually, if an effect were at the outset unreal in a cause, there would be no "particular or distinct" relation between the two and hence the one would not be the "real cause" of the other.(20) Thus in Madhyamika thought, the denial of the thesis that an effect is real in a cause does not entail the validity of the antithesis that an effect is unreal in a cause. Nagarjuna's critical analysis of causality was not meant to establish any view of causation but to refute all possible views. For him, the third view that an effect is both real and unreal in a cause is also untenable. "For 'real' and 'unreal' are contradictory in nature. How can those that are contradictory in nature be together?"(21) The third view may mean that an effect is partially real and partially unreal in a cause, and hence it does not involve a contradiction.However, this viewpoint implies (1) that an effect can be real in a cause and then is produced by the cause and (2) that an effect can be unreal in a cause and yet is produced by the cause. But both (1) and (2) have already been shown to be untenable. So the third viewpoint is also unten able. According to Naagaarjuna, to say that an effect is neither real nor unreal in a cause is tantamount to accepting that there is no causal relation between the cause and the effect. If there is no causal relation, how can one be called a cause, and the other an effect? So one cannot say that an effect is neither real nor unreal in a cause.(22)

Thus Naagaarjuna refuted all possible rational explanations of causal relation and thereby showed that causal relations are empty. Since causal relations cannot be established, it makes no sense to say that all things an "causally related" and that there is a "necessary connection" between cause and effect. Naagaarjuna also argued that causality as such cannot be established. Hence it also makes no sense to assert that causation is universal and uniform. If there is a reality of casuality or an act of causal production, it must be "self-caused, " "other-caused, " "both self-caused and other-caused," or "noncaused." A thing cannot cause itself. If a thing causes itself, it is the subject and the object at the same time. But this is impossible because the subject and the object are two different things. A thing cannot be said to be caused by another either. If a thing is caused by another, it has the other as its substance. But how can they have the same substance? If they have the same substance, they are one and the same thing. The so-called other cannot be called "other." And one cannot say that a thing is both self-caused and other-caused either, for this implies that there can be the acts of self-caused production and other-caused production. But this is impossible because there can be neither self-caused nor other-caused production. For Naagaarjuna, the act of non-caused production is not possible because "a thing is caused by no cause" is a contradiction in terms and hence makes no sense. If something can come from no cause, anything can be the cause of anything else;but this is absurd. A cause is often defined or described as either a necessary condition or a sufficient condition or as both necessary and sufficient conditions for the occurrence of an event. As pointed out, early Buddhists held that all things are conditioned by four causal conditions. The Maadhyamikas contented that these conceptual and other ontological interpretations of causation cannot be the right description of the occurrence of real events or entities in the world. They argued that it is unintelligible to hold that there are real events or entities in causal conditions, or that real events or entities are con ditioned or dependent upon something else. Naagaarjuna asked, "How is it possible for a real event or an entity which has essential nature to be something which is caused?"(23) According to him, it involves contradiction, for "to be caused" is "to be conditioned"or "to be dependent upon something else." But a real event is supposed to have a certain definite or essential nature; and a thing which has essential nature is not something which is produced, but something which is independent of other things.(24) If an entity is caused, it is something which is dependent upon something else. But this is impossible. So the causal principle cannot be the causal principle of entities or real events.

People might argue that, although causal relation or causality cannot be established on rational or logical grounds, it can be established by experience.Our past experience shows us that there is a causal relation between thing. For example, when we examine our empirical facts we see that sesame oil is always produced out of sesame, but we have never seen sesame oil produced out of sand. So our experiences justify our claim that there is a causal relation between oil and sesame, but not between oil and sand. Hence we seek oil in sesame, not in sand. But, for Naagaarjuna, the principle of causation cannot be justified even by experience. The observation of the constant conjunction of events does not justify the principle of causation. To say that we do observe is not a good answer, but rather it just begs the question. Why? If causation had been established, then one could say that since we have seen that sesame produces oil but have never seen sand produce oil, we seek oil in sesame but not in sand. However, whether there is such a thing as causation or production has not yet been established, and hence one cannot legitimately make that claim. Therefore, the example that we have seen sesame produce oil is based upon the very notion of causation which is to be established. In short, according to Naagaarjuna, any "empirical" justification of the principle of causation assumes the very principle it tries to prove.(25) One of the main reasons why Buddhists have spent so much time in discussing causality is that they want to know the nature of human life. The so-called chain of twelve causal conditions (shih-erh-yin-yuan)(h) is often given to explain the causal process of human existence. Naagaarjuna's position about the reality of the chain of twelve causal conditions is not clearly presented in the Sanskrit Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa and the Chinese Middje Treatise.(26) This has made many Madhyamika scholars perplexed about Nagarjuna's viewpoint and even led them to think that his position is Hinayanistic. For example, Kenneth K. Inada says,

With the discussion of Nirvaana in the last chapter (Chapter XXV of the Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa) the treatment from the stanpoint of the Mahayana had basically come to a close. In this chapter and the final one to follow (Chapters XXVI andd XXVII of the Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa), Nagarjuna goes into the analysis of Hinayanistic doctrines. The present chapter discusses the twelvefold causal analysis which is the basis of the endless process of suffering incurred by all living beings. The discussion is Hinayanistic and it reveals that the source of trouble lies in ignorance which in turn initiates all kinds of mental conformations...The discussion of the doctrine of causal analysis indicates the strong influence of Hinayanistic or Abhidharmic teachings during this period.(27)

It seems that the question whether Naagaarjuna's standpoint is Hinayaanistic can be solved by study of the first chapter of the Twelve Gate Treatise in which he has clearly presented his view of the chain of twelve causal conditions, and demonstrated that the chain of twelve causal conditions cannot be conceived as the causal law of the, world. He even used a scriptural passage from the Seventy Treatise to support his standpoint:

[The chain of twelve] causal conditions really have no production. If it is said that they have production, do they have it in one mind-moment or in many mind-moments? (28)

The chain of twelve causal conditions are supposed to be the internal causal phenomena of the world (nei-yin-yuan-fa).(i) Naagaarjuna argued that if they are the real causal law of the world, they must happen or be produced (a) in one mind-moment, or (b) in many mind-moments. But one cannot say that all twelve causal factors appear in one mind-moment, for if they occur in one mind-moment, then causes and effects happen at the same time. This is impossible because a cause is supposed to be prior to an effect. Nor can one say that the twelve causal factors appear in many mind-moments, for if they occur in many different mind-moments, they are distinct from one another and have no particular relation to each other. Each would occur within a certain particular mind-moment and then disappear within that mind-moment. If this is the case, how can anyone of them be a causal condition? Thus, the cases, (a) and (b) , cannot be established, and hence the chain of twelve causal conditions cannot conceivably be the real internal causal law: they are empty.

As pointed out, early Buddhists considered that the principle of causation was a moral law as well as a physical law: for any good deed, there must be a reward; and for any bad deed, there must be a punishment. But the Madhyamikas argue that the "necessary connection" between a good deed and a reward and between a bad deed and punishment cannot be rationally explained and justified.(29) They are not "objective laws" in the world nor in society, but just the subjective projection of the mind. Naagaarjuna said, "Defilements, karmas, doers, rewards, and punishments are all similar to mirages,dreams, shadows and echoes."(30)


According to the San-lun Maadhyamikas, the Buddha is a pragmatic teacher. The chief aim of his teachings is not to make a report about the world but to help people to get rid of ignorance and illusions so as to obtain salvation. In order to save all sentient beings, the Buddha has presented different teachings to different people in compliance with their abilities. All statements given by the Buddha are simply skillful means (fang-pien, upaaya). In the strict sense, they are nothing but words and letters, and should not be considered as standing for any definite entities or realities in the world. Actually, the entities which the words are supposed to denote are empty. They are "utterly empty, like a dream, like a phantom, nothing but the thoughts of deluded worldings."(31) Kumaarajiva (344-413 A.D.), who introduced Maadhyamika Buddhism to China,(32) said, "Not apprehending and not craving the dharma is my Buddha-Dharma."(33)

Although all verbal and conceptual teachings and doctrines of the Buddha are empty, without absolute intellectual validity, they have practical value. They can help people to gain enlightenment. According to Chi-tsang(k) (549-623 A.D.), the greatest Chinese San-lun Maadhyamika master, they serve as "convenient means to lead sentient beings and to enable
them to be free from various attachments."(34) Like all other teachings of the Buddha, pratityasamutpaada, according to the Maadhyamikas, should not be understood as an actual description of the reality of the universe but rather as a soteriological device. It is presented by the Buddha as a tool of salvation. For the Madhyamikas, although causality is neither rationally justifiable nor empirically verifiable, it can serve as a useful means of helping people rid themselves of ignorance and illusions. Naagaarjuna did not deny that, from the practical, conventional point of view, all things appear to be produced from causes and conditions. What he did deny was that this causal principle can be proved and that it is the "ultimate principle" of the universe. Naagaarjuna's critique of causality does not "raise causality to the level of the transcendental" as some scholars say it does.(35)

Naagaarjuna seemed to find that while people are searching for the knowledge of the true-nature of things, they tend to describe the true state of things as "real" or "unreal" and advocate absolutism or nihilism. The Buddha's teaching of pratiityasmutpaada serves to keep one from falling into these extreme views. The true state of things cannot be absolutely real, because all things appear to be impermanent and are dependent upon causes and conditions. If a thing is absolutely existent, it should be self-existent and is not subject to causal change. But things seem to be dependennt upon something else and are subject to change. So the true nature of things cannot be absolutely real. Nor can the true nature of things be absolutely unreal. If all things are absolutely non-existent, there would be no changing phenomena and sensible appearances would not arise. But myriad things do appear to arise from various causal conditions and hence cannot be absolutely non-existent. This point was succinctly stated by Seng-chao(1)(374-414 A.D.) as follows:

For what reason? If you say that they exist, their existence arises non-absolutely. If you say that they non-exist, their forms have taken shape. Since they have forms and shapes, they cannot be the same as the non-existent. So, this explains the idea of the emptiness of the non-absolute.(36)

Thus, pratiityasamutpaada performs the same "soteriological" function as the Middle Way and Emptiness in avoiding the extreme views of absolutism and nihilism:hence Nagarjuna once said, "It is pratiityasamutpaada that we call Emptiness;it is a provisionary name; it is also the Middle Way."(37) In Madhyamika thought, Emptiness, the Middle Way and pratiityasamutpaada are interchangeable. The word "empty" or "emptiness," for the Maadhyamikas, has no meaning by itself but obtains a meaning in the process of salvation. The doctrine of emptiness is not a metaphysical theory;it is, instead, primarily a soteriological device for eliminating extreme views so that one may be "empty" of any attachment. The doctrine was first expressed as the doctrine of the Middle Way in the Buddha's First Sermon.(38) The so-called Middle Way is a way of emptiness as it is a path refuting all speculative reasonings. Like the Middle Way, pratiityasamutpaada is essentially a way of emptiness; it is a path for freeing one from conceptual speculation. Naagaarjuna opened the Middle Treatise with these words:

I salute the Buddha,
The foremost of all teachers.
He has taught
The doctrine or dependent co-arising (pratiityasamutpaada),
The cessation of all conceptual games.(39)

The Buddha's teachings of Emptiness, the Middle Way and pratiityasamutpaada all have the same purpose, namely, the liberation of one's mind from metaphysical speculation. Conceptual reasoning, for the Maadhyamikas, is often the svabhaavic or substantive way of thinking. When one is engaged in philosophical reasoning he tends to ascribe a definite nature or essence to an object, thing or event. The object is believed to possess a determinate or substantial nature,and is regared as the ultimate reality or basic element of the universe. Traditional Hindu philosophers employed this way of thinking and held that AAtman is the ultimate reality of the universe. Early scholastic Buddhists also used the svabhaavic way of thinking and held that dharmas are the real constituents of the world. For the Maadhyamikas, the monistic philosophy of traditional Hinduism is an extreme view, and the pluralistic philosophy of scholastic Buddhism is another extreme view. All those philosophers have the same error, namely, the svabhaavic way of reasoning. Pratiitysamutpaada has been used by the Madhyamikas to refute this. The concept of a definite nature or real essence (whether it is ascribed to AAtman, dharmas or other ontological entities) is contradictory to or at least incompatible with the empirical phenomena that things are subject to causal change. So it cannot be used to describe the true state of our experience. Consequently, it is unintelligible to use Atman, dharmas or other ontological entities to explain the reality of the universe. Naagaarjuna said, "Things are produced from various conditions, and hence have no self-nature (tzu-hsing,(m) svabhaava). If they have no self-nature, how can there be such things?''(40) Thus causality serves as a means to refute the concept of self-nature and thereb to eliminate the ontologization of any entiey or object.

The Buddha's teaching of pratiityasamutpaada, according to the Maadhyamikas, is concerned not only with the conceptual description of the reality of the universe but also with the conceptual explanation of human behavior. The fatalist claims that all things are causally determined and man cannot shape his future, while the fortuitist argues that everything happens by chance and man is not responsible for his actions. For the Buddha, fatalism and fortuitism were two extreme views: either one could make human responsibility and religious discipline impossible. He refuted them by teaching pratiityasamutpaada. Fatalism is untenable because it is contradictory to the empirical fact that the existence of everything is conditional and subject to change. Moreover, the absolute "necessary connection" beween events cannot be established and hence it makes no sense to hold that all things are absolutely predetermined and man cannot change his future. Fortuitism is also untenable because it is also contradictory to the fact that all things are dependent upon causal conditions. Thus, pratityasamutpada is, again, used as a way of avoiding the extreme views of fatalism. and fortuitism, and hence makes human responsibility and reigious discipline possible. So pratiityasamutpaada is given to "save" or to
acount for the possibility of moral evaluation and religious
training in daily life.(41)


The way of pratiityasamutpaada as Emptiness and the Middle Way is essentially the way of salvation. To see pratiityasamutpaada is to have the unattached insight that all things are empty and that all speculative reasonings are unintelligible and should be eliminated. This unattached insight is enlightenment. It, for the Maadhyamikas, is the central message of the Buddha's Dharma. So, the Buddha said, "He who sees the pratiityasamutpaada sees the Dharma, and he
who sees the Dharma sees the pratiityasamutpaada.'' The aim of the Buddha's Dharma is not to find the cause of suffering or to have a conceptual understanding of any causal phenomenon, but rather to see that all things, including suffering and its cause, are empty, and hence to cease all conceptualization. So, when someone wanted to discuss the cause of suffering with the Buddha, he remained silent:

'Is suffering made by itself?' The Buddha kept silent
and did not answer. 'World-honoured! If suffering is not
made by itself, is it made by other?' The Buddha still
did not answer. World-honoured! Is it then made by itself
and other? ' The Buddha still did not reply.
'World-honoured! Is it then made by no cause at all?' The
Buddha still did not answer. Thus as the Buddha did not
answer these four questions, we should know that suffering
is empty."(42)

The so-called Four Noble Truths, according to San-lun Buddhists, were given by the Buddha from the practical, conventional standpoint. Ordinary people believe in the "reality" of suffering and the "universal" and "objective" validity of causality. In order to help sentient beings to obtain enlightenment, the Buddha used words, such as "suffering" and "happiness," "the origin of suffering" and "the cessation of suffering," "cause" and "effect," "true" and "false," to expound his Dharma. Actually, all the words and statements he made are empty. Naagaarjuna said, "Words have no essence. Whatever is expressed by them is also without essence."(43)

The Buddha's verbal teachings, for Naagaarjuna and his San-lun followers, are merely instruments to assist people in eliminating conceptualization so that they may be "empty" of all intellectual and emotional attachments. Once one realizes this "empty" nature of the Buddha's Dharma, he will have abandoned conceptual speculation of everything, even the Four Noble Truths. Naagaarjuna said,

"In Suunyataa (emptiness) one gives up conceptualization or playing the language game."(44)
"Things are not obtainable,
Conceptualizations are eliminated.
There is neither man nor place (nirvaana).
The Buddha has nothing to say either."(45)

If one is attached to causality and insists on speculating about the cause of suffering, he cannot see the Buddha's Dharma.


1. See David J. Kalupahana, Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1975. See also T. R. V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, London, Allen and Unwin, 1970, p. 166, and N. Dutt, Aspects of Mahaayaana Buddhism and Its Relations to Hiinayaana. London, Luzac, 1-930,p.51.
2. Majjhima-nikaaya,I,190-191.
3. See David J. Kalupahana, Op. Cit., pp. 89-109. See also T. R. V. Murti, OpCit., pp. 167-168. Scholars such as Fritjof Capra compare the Buddhist concept of the pratiityasamutpaada to the 'bootstrap" theory of high-energy physics The so-called bootstrap theory holds that the universe is an extremely complex dynamical mechanism which is self determining. In terms of high energy sub atomic particles (hadrons), each particle helps generate other particles which in turn generate it. The whole set of particles generates itself this way, or pulls itself up by its bootstraps. The existence, quality and characteristic of each particle is determined or defined by its relation to all other particles. For this new interpretation of the Buddhist theory of causality, see Fritjof Capra, "Bootstrap and Buddhism," American Journal of Physics 42, Jan., 1974, pp. 15-19;see also Donald W. Mitchell, "Buddhist Theories of Causation," Philosophy East and West vol. 25, 1 Jan., 1975, pp. 104-106.
4. These works comprise the canonical literature of the Ssu lun Tsung(n) (the Four Treatises School), the Pan-jo Tsung(o) (the Wisdom School), the K'ung Tsung(p) (the Emptiness School, the Chung-tao Tsung(q) (the Middle Way School) , the Cheng-shih Tsung(r) (the Satyasiddhi School), the Ching-t's Tsung(s) (the Pure Land School) and the Hua-yen Tsung(t) (the Garland School).
5. Modern Maadhyamika scholars have paid little attention to the Twelve Gate Treatise which exists only in Chinese. They accept the Prasannapadaa of Candrakirti (c. 600-650 A.D.) as the authentic Mulamadhyamakakaarikaa of Nagarjuna and usually use it as the main source of Madhyamika thought. Actually, the Chinese three treatises were composed more than two hundred years before the Prasannapadaa was written.
6. T.R.V.Murti, Op.Cit.
7. See Frederick J. Streng, "The Significance of Pratiityasamutpaada for Understanding the Relationship between Samvrti and Paramaarthasatya in Nagarjuna, " The Problem of Two Truths in Buddhism and Vedaanta, ed. by Mervyn Sprung, Boston, D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1973, pp. 27, 30 and 36.
8. See Kenneth K. Inada, Naagaarjuna: Translation of His Mulamadhaymakakaarikaa With An Introductory Essay, Tokyo,The Hokuseido Press, 1970, p. 160.
9. David J. Kalupahana, Buddhist Philosophy: A Historical Analysis, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1976,p. 139.
10. See Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1962), p. 53; Majjhima-nikaaya, III (PTS edition) , p. 63; Samyutta-nikaya. II (PTS edition),pp.28 and 95.
11. This sometimes called the special theory of causation; see Th. Stcherbatsky, Buddhist Logic, vol. 1,p..136.
12. This is called the general theory of causation. Ibid.
13. The so-called four conditions are the following: (a) The cause condition (yinyuan).(u) This acts as the chief cause, for example, the wlnd and water that cause the wave. (2) The sequential condition (tz'u-ti-yuan).(v) This immediately follows a preceding condition, such as waves following one another.(3) The appropriating condition (yuan-yuan) .(w) This is the objective (or subjective) environment,like the basis or the boat. (4) The upheaving condition (tseng-shang-yuan).(x) This is that which brings all conditions to the climax, such as the last wave that upsets the boat.
14. The twelve internal causal conditions can be stated as follows: (1)suffering, such as old age and death; which
is due to (2) birth; which is due to (3) formation of being; which is due to (4) our mental clinging to objects; which is due to (5) thirst or desire for objects; which is due to perception; which is due to (7) contact; which is due to (8) the six sense organs;which are due to (9) name-form; and these cannot happen without (10) conscious mind; which is due to (11) the will to live;which is due to (12)ignorance.
15. Walpola Rahula,Op. Cit.,p.54.
16. See David J. Kalupahana, Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, pp. 89-109.
17. For example, he critically discussed the following possible causal relations:
(1) An effect is real in a cause (or an assemblage of causes and conditions), or an effect is unreal in
a cause.
(2) A cause gives to an etfect a causal nature before it ceases to be, or a cause does not give to an
effect a causal nature before disappearing.
(3) A cause and an effect appear together simultaneously, or a cause and an effect do not appear together
(4) A cause becomes an effect, or a cause does not become an effect. (5) A cause is within an effect,
or an effect is within a cause.
(6) A cause is identical with an effect, or a cause is different from an effect. Generally speaking, the way Naagaarjuna criticized each relation is more or less the same. In this paper I will briefly discuss the first of these relationships and show how he critically analyzed pratiityasamutpaada. For a detailed discussion, see the first three chapters and the last four chapters of the Twelve Gate Treatise.
18. The issue of whether an effect is already real in a cause or at the outset unreal in a cause is also the issue of whether an effect pre-exists in a cause or not.
19. The Twelve Gate Treatise, II, (Taishoo 1568) , pp 160b-161c.
20. Ibid., pp. 161c-162a;the Middle Treatise, I:6.
21. Ibid.,p, 162a;the Mlddle Trearise,I:7.
22. (Ibid.
23. The Middle Treatise. XV:1 and 2a.
24. Ibid.,XV:2b.
25. The Twelve Cate Treatise. II,p.161c-162a.
26. Naagaarjuna stated the chain of twelve causal conditions in Chapter XXVI.
27. Kenneth K. Inada, Op. Cit. A. K. Warder even claims that Naagaarjuna's philosophy as a whole is not against Hiinayaanism. See Warder's article, "Is Nagarjuna a Mahayanist?" in The Problem of Two Truths in Buddhism and Vedaanta, pp. 78-88.
28. The Twelve Gate Treatise. I:2.
29. Sea the Middle Treatise, XVII: 1-32.
30. Ibid.,XVII:33.
31. Kumaarajiiva, Ta-ch'eng-ta-i-chang(y) (Taisho 1856), section 12.
32. He translated the Middle Treatise, the Twelve Gate Treatise and the Hundred Treatise into Chinese.
33. Kumaarajiiva, Op. Cit., section 15.
34. Chi-tsang, San-lun-hsuan-i(z) The Profound Meaning of Three Treatises, Taishoo 1852,p. 7.
35. David J. Kalupahana, Buddhist Philosophy: A Historical Analysis, pp. 138-139.
36. Seng-chao, Chao-lun,(aa) part II.p. 152.
37. The Middle Treatise, XXIV: 18.
38. For a detailed discussion of the San-lun Maadhyamika doctrines of Emptiness and the Middle Way, see my article, "Zen and San-lun Maadhyamiks Thought: Exploring the Theoretical Foundation of Zen Teachings and Practices," which will be published in Religious Studies, September, 1979.
39. The opening statement of the Middle Treatise
40. The Twelve Gate Treatise. 1:1, See also the Middle Treatise, I; 2, 13 and XV:1-4
41. See the Twelve Gate Treatise, VIII and the Middle Treatise, XXIV.
42. The Twelve Gate Treatise, X,p. l66a.
43. Naagaarjuna,Hui-cheng-lun,(ab) 25.
44. The Middle Treatise, XVIII: 5. For the San-lun MaadhyamikaS,language is like a game. 'The meaning of a term lies in the context rather than in an "object" outside the language.
45. Ibid.,XXV:24