Dhamma, also called Dharma, refers to the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha was a holy man and teacher who achieved enlightenment. Before his enlightenment, he was a noble person called Siddhartha Gautama. The Buddha taught people how to follow the path to enlightenment through good living and understanding his insights. These teachings were later written down and are now known as the Dhamma (or Dharma).
Pratityasamutpada is the idea of ‘dependent origination’ or ‘conditionality’. This idea is crucial in Buddhist thought. It is one of the key principles of the Buddha’s teaching, or Dhamma. It can best be understood as the interconnectedness of everything in existence.
Dependent origination means that nothing exists without something else causing it to exist. In other words, nothing has an independent origin and everything is dependent for its origin on something else. The Dhamma contains a list of states of mind that are themselves dependent on previous states of mind.
The principle of conditionality explains that because existence is dependent on previous or connecting factors, it is conditional. This means that one thing can only happen because of conditions that already exist. It also means that if conditions change or cease to exist, aspects of existence dependent on these conditions also change or cease to exist.
These two connected concepts – dependent origination and conditionality – are a way to understand and make sense of life. For example, they explain that:
Looking for the dependent origin of craving helps Buddhists to overcome it. Buddhists should try to treat all beings with loving kindness because everything is interconnected and all actions affect others.
An essential part of the Buddha’s Dhamma is the Three lakshanas, also called the Three Marks of Existence. ‘Lakshanas’ can be translated as ‘marks’ or ‘signs’. These are three fundamental marks (or signs) of reality, sometimes also called the Three Universal Truths.
The Story of Nagasena and the Chariot is recorded in a book called the Milinda Panha, which translates as The Questions of Milinda. It recounts conversations between a Buddhist wise man called Nagasena and a king called Milinda.
In this story, Milinda asks Nagasena to explain the idea of anatta, or ‘no self’. Nagasena points to the king’s chariot. The king agrees that the axel is not the chariot, and nor are the wheels, frame or harness. What the king thinks of as a ‘chariot’ is made of several separate elements. There is no ‘chariot’. Likewise, the ‘self’ is made up of several separate and changing elements, and there is no single entity called a ‘self’.
What does dukkha mean?
The unsatisfactoriness of existence, or the suffering caused by existence, which nobody will escape.