- The Rice Seedling Sutra
- Cover Page
- Title Page
- The Rice Seedling: A Mahayana Sutra
- 1. How to Seek Reality by Means of Buddha’s Teaching on Dependent Arising
- 2. Analysis of the Divine Creator
- 3. Is Dependently Arisen Production Actual Production?
- 4. How Phenomena Exist
- 5. The Trainings of the Three Types of Persons
- 6. Escaping the Wheel of Life
- 7. The Factors of Dependent Arising
- 8. How the Self Exists
- About the Author
1. How to Seek Reality by Means of Buddha’s Teaching on Dependent Arising
THE PURPOSE OF GIVING THE NAME “DEPENDENT ARISING”
The Sage, the Buddha, is regarded as the unsurpassed teacher or guru of all beings because he understood and taught the way of dependent arising through his own direct experience. The Buddha perceived that all living beings are afflicted with a variety of problems because, as an initial cause, they misconceive the way things are. Motivated by the wish to show precisely the ontological status of all things in order to completely free all beings from these problems, the Teacher — the Buddha — revealed the truth of dependent arising.
The main cause of all the troubles in the world is our ignorance. This is twofold. First, we do not precisely understand the dependent arising of causes and effects — in other words, how effects depend on their respective causes for their production. Second, we do not think about how things derive their respective identities and become an object of the mind merely by our imputing a term or concept onto their parts — their so-called basis of imputation. We think instead that if we searched for what they truly are, we would be able to find them. For instance, we each have an ever-present and instinctual notion of “I” and “mine” to which a self appears to exist in its own right and that assents to this appearance. Based on this, we conceive things in two groups: (1) anything associated with ourselves — “myself,” “mine,” “my family,” “my race,” “my country,” “my religion,” and so on — and (2) anything associated with others — that is to say, everything else. We then have attachment for the former and hostility for the latter, and all our other problems ensue.14
If you reflect deeply on dependent arising, you will understand that whatever identity things have is established in dependence on a collection of causes and conditions as well as on a basis of imputation and imputing terms and concepts. With this key point, you see that things such as “self” and “other” are established merely by conceptualization, and from this you can easily understand that they lack intrinsic existence. The mere fact that things arise dependently induces certain knowledge that all actions and their agents can function even though they lack intrinsic existence. The knowledge that things are empty of intrinsic existence overcomes the eternalistic view that things have intrinsic existence. The knowledge that things are able to perform functions despite lacking intrinsic existence automatically destroys the nihilistic view that things lacking intrinsic existence cannot perform functions.
Furthermore, those who believe they are inherently superior or inherently inferior to others, who are attached to an intrinsic notion of themselves as high status or low status, experience trouble in this life and will experience trouble in lives to come. Those who think that their high or low status or their particular occupation is a dependent arising, in either a coarse or subtle sense, and in accordance with this understanding, make timely effort to adopt what needs to be done and cast aside what needs to be abandoned will easily achieve happiness and well-being in this and future lives.
Thus the Teacher explained to his disciples that the mind of a supreme deity could not create the helpful or harmful things that are the basis of our joy or sorrow. He also taught that such things are not produced causelessly, from a principal nature, or from a permanent entity called “time.”4 Rather, he said, they arise dependently, based on their respective causes and conditions. This teaching eliminates any misconception of how things are produced and illuminates how they actually are. Accordingly, it is principally up to you yourself to clear away the suffering that you do not want and to achieve the happiness that you do want. The teaching of dependent arising is the Buddha’s unsurpassed act of skillful means to help you understand what you should do in order to eliminate suffering and achieve happiness.
All things arise in dependence on their respective causes and conditions; they do not arise without a cause. And not just any cause can produce any effect. Rather, when the causes and conditions endowed with the specific and particular potential for producing each phenomenon come together and undergo a sequential transformation, the effect arises. Thus the products of both the animate and inanimate worlds need not arise in dependence 15on the expressed will or thought of a divine creator, such as Īśvara, who thinks, “I will cause this to arise.”
Furthermore, effects are not caused by a permanent entity called “time,” a permanent partless particle, or a single indivisible cause. All causes and conditions are composite — they invariably have parts — and none of these causes and conditions can produce an effect without themselves undergoing transformation. No cause reaches its resultant state or is somehow transferred to its resultant state without undergoing some change. Moreover, it is not the case that the causes and conditions cease and then the effects somehow arise; nor is it the case that the continuum of the causes ceases and thereafter the effects arise. Instead, the cessation of the causes and the production of the effects are simultaneous and connected without any cessation of the continuum. It is just like the two sides of a scale, where when the one side goes down the other side simultaneously goes up.
Therefore, when the Blessed One spoke the term “dependent and linked arising” (for which dependent arising is a contraction), he was using “dependent,” or “dependent on causes and conditions,” to refute the view of objects being produced causelessly and being established independently. He was using “linked” to refute the view that things arise from a discordant cause — an enduring, changeless cause. He was using “arising” to show that effects are not completely nonexistent, nor are they independently established; rather, they fully arise from their own causes and conditions, dependently. Consequently, the Blessed One used the convention “dependent and linked arising” with respect to things for two purposes: (1) to end the misconception that composite things exist from their own side, independently, and to end thereby the faults that ensue from this misconception, and (2) to show that with respect to all dependently arisen phenomena, all presentations of actions and agents are coherent in being mere dependent imputations.
THE DEFINITION OF THE DEPENDENT ARISING OF COMPOSITE PHENOMENA
The Rice Seedling Sutra says:
Because this exists, this occurs; because this arose, this arises; this is called dependent arising. That is, dependent on ignorance, conditioning factors occur . . .16
Thus all composite things have causes, and effects do not exist at the time of their causes. Therefore effects are not the same entity as their causes.
“Because this [causes and conditions] exists, this [effects] occurs” means that composite things do not arise from a divine creator, such as Īśvara, thinking, “I will produce this.” Rather, when these causes and conditions (which are concordant with the effects they produce) exist — that is, when a variety of causes and conditions exist — a variety of new effects (which are composite things) will certainly arise. Thus these new effects arise from causes that are not a divine creator’s thought.
Also, when these effects that are composite things are produced, they do not come from causes and conditions that are unitary, partless, or permanent in the sense of being unchanging — in other words, any discordant causes such as partless particles and so on. The sutra states that because the specific and ever-changing causes and conditions of the effects were produced, they will produce these effects: “because this arose, this arises.” Accordingly, effects arise from many causes that are impermanent and have parts.
Moreover, a composite thing does not arise from a permanent cause, as this would not have the capacity to give rise to it. It is not the case that just any cause with the capacity to generate an effect gives rise to just any effect. Rather, a specific cause — one with a capacity that corresponds to the effect that it will produce — gives rise to the effect. Thus the sutra states, “dependent on ignorance, conditioning factors occur,” indicating that composite things arise from causes that have the capacity to produce them.5
In short, composite things are produced from their specific existent causes and conditions. If these specific causes and conditions do not exist, then these composite phenomena are not produced. Therefore the citation from sutra above affirms with certainty that effects are produced from causes that have a direct relationship with their effects in that the effects ensue once the causes exist and do not arise when the causes are absent.
In the Sutra Explaining the First Factor of Dependent Arising and Its Divisions and other sutras on dependent arising, the question arises, “What is dependent arising?” This question asks, what are the causes and conditions of external and internal things, and how do they produce the composite things that are their effects? As he did in the Rice Seedling Sutra above, the Buddha responds:17
Because this exists, this occurs; because this arose, this arises; this is called dependent arising. That is, dependent on ignorance, conditioning factors occur . . .6
The Buddha implies that the definition of the dependent arising of composite phenomena is production through the three causes: (1) production from a cause that is not a divine creator’s thoughts, (2) production from [multiple] impermanent causes, and (3) production from a cause that has the capacity to give rise to the effect.
Again, in the Sutra Enumerating Phenomena Called “Discerning the Divisions of Existence and the Rest,” the Buddha, in response to a question regarding the definition of dependent arising, elaborates on production from the three causes:
O monks! There are three defining characteristics of dependent arising: (1) production from a cause that is not a divine creator’s thoughts, (2) production from [multiple] impermanent causes, and (3) production from a cause that has the capacity to give rise to the effect.7
The Rice Seedling Sutra adds two more to this list — production from existing causes and production from selfless causes — thereby giving a clear and detailed explanation of both internal and external dependent arisings from the viewpoint of all five defining characteristics.
In his Verses on the Rice Seedling Sutra, Nāgārjuna says:
Nothing is produced from itself or from other,
from both, or from “time,”
from a divine creator, such as Īśvara,
from a principal nature, or without a cause.
An arising from causes and conditions
comes from beginningless time;
thus you assert that external things arise
in dependence on the five causes.818
Also, Nāgārjuna says in his Extensive Commentary on the Rice Seedling Sutra:
Aside from seeds and so forth
there are no other causes;
Īśvara and causelessness
contradict the obvious and so on.9
As a commentary to this verse he says, “Seeds and so forth produce sprouts and so forth. Īśvara, the principal nature, time, and the like are not the causes of sprouts, for these causes would be just like flowers growing in the sky: not perceived either by direct perception or by inference.”
DEPENDENT ARISING OF COMPOSITE PHENOMENA
The Rice Seedling Sutra explains the dependent arising of a composite phenomenon by using a rice seedling as an illustration. If a rice seedling were produced without any causes or conditions, it would have to be produced constantly in all places or it would never be produced anywhere at any time. Instead, it is sometimes produced and sometimes not produced, so we can establish that it has causes and conditions.
Some might assert, as did some Indian philosophers, that the seedling already exists at the time of its causes and conditions and that it is simply not yet manifest. But if the seedling had already been produced and existed at that time, it would then be unnecessary for it to be produced yet again by its causes and conditions. Furthermore, if we postulate that the seedling’s causal continuum is somehow broken and that it is produced from something other than its causal continuum, the effect (the seedling) would have to be independent of its causes. As it would be produced without any relationship to its causes and conditions, anything would be able to produce it.
Nothing that is indivisibly unitary, unchangeably permanent, and substantially independent can give rise to an effect. Thus causes with such characteristics cannot produce a rice seedling. Instead, the seedling must be produced from a cause that is a composite thing, is dependently arisen, has multiple parts, and changes every moment. Therefore, as we will investigate 19in more detail in the next chapter, there can be no master of the world, no divine creator who creates the world merely by thinking it. The world is definitely created from causes and conditions.
An assemblage of causes and conditions such as a seed, water, fertilizer, warmth, and moisture produces the seedling. This assemblage carries a capacity that corresponds with the production of its effect and is connected to the effect — the seedling — through a gradual transformation, moment by moment. It is impossible for this seedling to arise from a cause that does not itself undergo momentary change or without this process of change contributing to the production of the effect.
A cause has the quality of producing the entity of its effect; in other words, it has the property of reaching its effect. The only way for a cause to produce its effect is through a gradual process of transformation of the cause. Given that an effect cannot occur without some aspect of the cause undergoing transformation, there can be no cause that becomes its effect directly. Nevertheless, it is not the case that an effect occurs only after the cause has completely ceased to exist, such that the continuum of the cause has been cut. It is instead like the two sides of a scale, where when the one side goes down, the other side simultaneously goes up; when the cause ceases to exist, the effect occurs simultaneously. Therefore the effect arises in a way that is linked to the cause.
In this manner, a seedling does not exist at the time of its causes and conditions; that is to say, it does not exist simultaneously with its cause. Moreover, it does not come from somewhere else later on. A seedling is a dependent arising that appears and disappears like a magician’s illusion: it arises suddenly, composed from causes at a certain point in the continuum of momentary transformations of its causes, and when it ceases to exist, it does not go somewhere else.
It is impossible for any effect or cause to be established independently. All transformations within a continuum do not arise and cease on their own but do so by the power of their specific causes and conditions. In the collection of causes and conditions there is a constant change or flux; they are never static. The effect arises in a way that is linked or connected to the constantly changing continuum of causes. This is then aptly called “the dependent and linked arising of composite phenomena.”
In the same manner, a rice seedling is not produced in isolation but from 20the transformation that is the dependent arising of its causes and conditions; no independent divine creator or master of the universe is involved. A rice seedling is momentary in the sense that the rice seedling of the first moment has ceased to exist in the second moment of the rice seedling. So the second moment of a rice seedling did not exist previously. It was produced newly and adventitiously from its causes and conditions — that is, from both the preceding moment that is part of a continuum of rice seedling moments that are of similar type and conditions such as warmth, moisture, and air. It is not the case that a portion of the rice seedling’s continuum that has already been produced lingers on.
Therefore all external and internal composite things — rice seedlings, people, thoughts — are produced in dependence on an aggregation of their multiple and varied causes and conditions, which are specific to each thing, composed of parts, and ever changing. When these things are produced, it is impossible for them to be produced as singular partless things. Since any effect is produced only from an assemblage of multiple and varied parts, it is impossible for it to come into being without depending or relying on a collection of parts, which is its basis of imputation.
DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS OF HOW AN EFFECT DEPENDS ON ITS CAUSES
Since even essentialists — those who say that the identity of individual phenomena relies on their possessing a fixed essence or nature — assert that effects arise in dependence on their causes, they must ultimately deny any mode of existence that is independent of causes and conditions, just as consequentialists do.10 Therefore one may wonder how consequentialists differ from essentialists with respect to their understanding of the dependent arising of composite phenomena. Different essentialists make various assertions with regard to composite phenomena. Some say that things arise causelessly, whereas others assert various discordant causes, such as a divine creator, a partless particle, a permanent principle called “time,” a principal nature, or a permanent being. These various positions can be subsumed within four alternatives: (1) production from self — effects arise from causes that are the same nature as themselves, (2) production from other — effects arise from causes that exist in and of themselves, (3) production from both 21self and other, and (4) production from no cause (i.e., causeless production). Thus they assert production from one of these four.
That the production of effects via these four alternatives is unfeasible has already been explained above. Therefore, although essentialists say that effects arise in dependence on their causes, they do not in fact assert how effects do arise — how they arise from causes that are concordant with them.
Unlike essentialists, consequentialists do not assert that all effects — sprouts or anything else — arise from causes such as the above-mentioned four alternatives. Rather, they assert that an effect arises newly and suddenly from a stream of its specific, ever-changing causes to which it is linked. Candrakīrti states in his Entering the Middle Way (6.114):
do not arise causelessly,
from a cause such as a divine creator,
or from both themselves and others;
they arise dependently.
THE GENERAL MEANING OF DEPENDENT ARISING
Consequentialists do not qualify only composite phenomena as dependently arisen. Rather, they describe all phenomena — composite and noncomposite — as dependent arisings. Noncomposite phenomena are things like space (in the sense of a mere lack of obstructive contact). In this broad meaning of dependent arising, dependent does not mean only dependent on the causes and conditions that give rise to the effects but also dependent on a basis of imputation — its parts and so forth — and dependent on the conventional terms and concepts that are the tools of imputation. It also refers to the mutual dependence of such causally unconnected things as the near hill and the far hill, or short and long. The word arising not only means production (from causes and conditions) but is also understood as “existence” or “establishment.” Therefore, from the viewpoint of this broader sense of the term dependent arising, consequentialists assert that all phenomena — composite and noncomposite — are dependent arisings. As Nāgārjuna states in his Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way (24.19):22
Since there is no phenomenon
that is not dependently arisen,
there is no phenomenon
that is not empty.
Thus the term dependent arising applies to all phenomena because all phenomena are dependent on their basis of imputation — their parts and so forth — and then are established as an object of the mind in relation to that basis of imputation and in dependence on imputing terms and concepts. In other words, it refers to phenomena being dependent on their parts and so forth, being apprehended as the basis of imputation, and then being established in dependence on imputation by terms and concepts.
For instance, the establishment or existence of a carriage is completed when you identify its parts (the wheels, chassis, and so on), which are apprehended as the basis of imputation, and then conceptually impute to them the conventional designation “carriage.” Therefore a carriage is established in dependence both on its parts and on imputing terms and concepts.
Likewise, with respect to the example of the Buddha’s cousin Devadatta walking on the road, his walking is established by merely imputing, “Devadatta is walking on the road” in dependence on Devadatta, the road, the lifting up and placing down of his feet, and so on. Other than this establishment of Devadatta’s walking in dependence on the basis of imputation and the imputing terms and concepts, where is there an independent action of Devadatta walking? If there were such an independent action of walking, then its ontological status would not be encompassed by merely imputing “Devadatta is walking on the road”; it would necessarily exist in its own right. Were this the case, then when you searched among the bases of imputation, you should find it and should be able to say, “Here is the action of walking.” In this manner, the Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way refutes this findability after it analyzes whether this walking exists in the road, in the movement of the feet, and so on.
ANOTHER WAY OF ESTABLISHING DEPENDENCE
Devadatta being a doer of an action is established in dependence on the action he performs. The action also is established in dependence on the 23doer. Aside from this, there is no way to establish the doer or the action as essentially existent. The Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way (8.12) says:
The doer depends on the action,
the action is dependent on the doer;
except for arising dependently,
there is no other way they are established.
Likewise, Madhyamaka texts such as the Fundamental Verses refute essential existence with respect to parts and wholes, objects of cognition and valid cognitions, producers and products, and so on. They then reveal these things to be dependent arisings that are posited as interdependent or mutually dependent. For instance, dependent on the far hill we posit the near hill, and dependent on the near hill we posit the far hill. They exist interdependently but do not exist otherwise as such. It is the same with east and west, self and other, and so forth.
To establish such things as fire and smoke to be cause and effect is also done on the basis of their being mutually dependent. The fire’s nature being hot and burning and its being the cause of smoke is established in dependence on the fuel and smoke, respectively, just as firewood is established in dependence on fire. Therefore, the consequentialist Prāsaṅgikas assert that not only is the effect dependent on its cause but the cause is also established in dependence on its effect. Candrakīrti’s Clear Words commentary on Nāgārjuna’s text states:
Therefore the four valid cognitions establish knowledge of the world’s objects.11 They too are interdependently established. Once valid cognitions exist, they have their objects of cognition; and once objects of cognition exist, they have their valid cognitions. Both valid cognitions and objects of cognition are not established by their own intrinsic essence.12
Buddhapālita’s commentary says:
It is like this: due to interdependence, there is fire in dependence on firewood, and there is firewood in dependence on fire.1324
Nāgārjuna’s Precious Garland (1.48) says:
When this is, that arises,
like short when there is long.
Due to the production of this, that is produced,
like light from the production of a flame.
The Verse Summary Sutra states:
Air depends on space, and the body of water depends on this air;
the great earth depends on this water, and beings depend on the great earth.
In this way beings experience their karma.
Consider: How else would space serve as a base for something?14
The master Haribhadra’s Commentary on the Verse Summary Sutra explains:
The verse states “on space” and so forth. For example, this universe evolves in stages that are dependent on each other. Air depends on space, the body of water depends on air, the golden earth depends on the body of water, the great earth depends on the golden earth, and the world system comprised of the four continents is dependent on the great earth. Then the resources of living beings form. Consider how karma is the root cause of this. How else could space — defined as the absence of all things — serve as the base? What need is there to mention everything for which air is the basis?15
Thus this world’s environment and the beings that use its resources have all been interdependent and interconnected right from the beginning of this world. At the present moment, too, the fact that all beings — humans and so on — are alive is dependent on the external and internal elements — earth, water, fire, air, empty space, and so forth.
The living beings that inhabit this world are dependent on this world’s environment. The great earth that is part of this world’s environment depends on the body of water, which in turn depends on the great mass of air. This air depends on empty space. This empty space — the mere absence 25of all things — serves as the basis for the things that cause beings to experience happiness and suffering: their bodies, the earth and its resources, and so on. The period of time that it remains as such is dependent on these beings’ karma. If this were not true, the empty space of the present could not become a suitable basis for air and so on. Thus the citation states that beings’ karma is the root cause of the world’s environment and its inhabitants.
Hence dependent arising is taught in two sets of two: (1) the dependent arising of dependence on something else to establish something’s identity (e.g., far and near, cognition and its object) and the dependent arising of dependence on something else’s attributes (e.g., good and bad); and (2) the dependent arising of dependent imputation (e.g., an object of imputation and its basis) and the dependent arising of dependent production (e.g., effects and their causes).
HOW PHENOMENA ARE ESTABLISHED IN DEPENDENCE ON THEIR BASIS OF IMPUTATION
The rice seedling is produced just from an aggregation of a variety of factors, composite causes and conditions that are constantly undergoing change — its seed, the four great elements, the element of empty space, and so on. When the rice seedling is produced, it is produced not as one singular thing but only as an aggregation of various things. The individual parts and the aggregation are not the rice seedling, and there is no entity other than these parts that is the rice seedling. When we nonetheless say, “This is a rice seedling,” we are imputing a conventional term on a basis of imputation that consists of different parts, such as the upper and lower halves, the color, and so on. This mere imputation of “rice seedling” encompasses the ontological status of the rice seedling. Not content with just this, however, we search for that which is the rice seedling, the object of the imputation “rice seedling.” When we do, we find no rice seedling that is the parts — the bases of imputation — or something other than the parts. Therefore this rice seedling is a dependent arising that is established in dependence on its parts and imputing terms and concepts.
If any one part of the basis of imputation were found to be the rice seedling itself, it would be incorrect to assert that the rice seedling arises in dependence on the basis of imputation and the imputing terms and 26concepts. However, none of the parts can be found to be the rice seedling, and yet the rice seedling does exist by mere imputation of “rice seedling,” by imputing the term and concept to the basis of imputation, its parts. Therefore the rice seedling exists in dependence on its parts and its imputing terms and concepts. We cannot identify the rice seedling as existing without depending on its parts and imputing terms and concepts, so we establish the rice seedling to be a dependent arising.
Just as the rice seedling is established in this way in dependence on its parts, the individual parts themselves — the upper and lower portions, the color, and so on — are established in dependence on their basis of imputation — their parts — and the imputing terms and concepts. If, after dividing parts into parts in this way, you arrive at some microscopic particle, this particle, providing it has an identity, will certainly have multiple sides, such as east and west, and depend on many other particles. For this reason, consequentialists assert that it is impossible to have a partless, indivisible, solitary particle. Why is this so? As long as something is a particle, it must be established by way of its imputing terms and concepts and the many parts that are its basis of imputation. So in a consequentialist system, the impossibility of a partless particle establishes all particles to be dependent arisings.
THE UNFINDABILITY OF THE IMPUTED OBJECT
From the beginning, you need to understand the following. When the different Buddhist philosophical schools speak of something being established dependently or of something not being established independently, they are using similar terminology. However, they differ in the extent of the dependence and the range of independence they assert, with some views being more coarse and other views being more subtle. Therefore, when they similarly use the expression “empty of being established independently,” their positions range from gross to subtle.
For example, for essentialists the fact that a rice seedling is produced in dependence on its causes and conditions is enough grounds to claim that, on analysis, it must be found to exist independently, intrinsically, from its own side, and in its own right. The position of consequentialists is quite the opposite. They state that a rice seedling gains its identity in dependence on the constant change of a great variety of causes and conditions, and that this seedling — the result — has numerous parts. The rice seedling is fully estab27lished merely through its being imputed, “This is a rice seedling,” by term and concept in dependence on these parts — its colors, shape, upper and lower parts, and so forth. It is only when you are still not satisfied with this, and you look further for that which is this rice seedling — this imputed object — that you never find it either in the individual parts of the seedling or in the collection of these parts. Thus consequentialists assert that not even the slightest particle is independently established, intrinsically established, and so forth.
For the Buddhist essentialists, the schools other than the Prāsaṅgikas, sutras like the Rice Seedling Sutra are able to refute some gross levels of independence, such as independence in the sense of being permanent (that is, not dependent on causes and conditions), but they insist that the way a rice seedling exists cannot be fully established through merely being designated “rice seedling.” The object imputed as “seedling” must be findable to be the objectively existent object imputed, such that you say, “This is it.” The consequentialist Prāsaṅgikas, however, assert that a rice seedling is not an object that exists objectively; rather, they posit that it exists in dependence on its parts and in dependence on the conventions that are the imputing names and concepts. Thus only in the Prāsaṅgika school do they know how to set forth the concept of the subtle dependent arising that repudiates the notion of the objective existence of an object; none of the other schools of tenets know how to do this.
HOW DEPENDENT ARISING REFUTES THE OBJECT OF NEGATION
Therefore the existence of any object is fully established by merely being designated as such and such by its imputing conventions — terms and concepts — in dependence on your mind having apprehended its parts and so forth to be its basis of imputation. Anything not established in this manner, then, would be posited to exist independently or to exist by way of its intrinsic essence. Thus Candrakīrti’s Commentary on the Four Hundred Stanzas states:
Self [in the term selflessness] refers to the intrinsic nature or essence of things that is independent of anything else. The lack of this kind of self is selflessness. Based on the division [of the 28basis of selflessness] into persons and objects (dharmas), there is the selflessness of persons and selflessness of objects.16
It would not be feasible for anything with independent existence to possess multiple parts or to exist in dependence on its parts and its imputing terms and concepts. To exist in dependence on something else requires having parts. To put this another way, were a sprout, for example, to exist independently, with an essence that you could find, then it would have to exist only in isolation, without depending on causes and conditions, and would not be identified as an aggregation of the elements and so forth that serve as its basis of imputation. However, this is not the case. Instead, forms such as seedlings exist as entities that are an aggregation of the eight substances.17 In the absence of those substances they would no longer exist. Therefore objects exist dependently and cannot exist objectively from their own side.
If a thing were partless, it would be untenable for it to exist dependently or conventionally. Once an individual phenomenon exists dependently and conventionally, it is tenable for it to have parts and have a nature that is manifold. Therefore something being a dependent arising refutes its having an independent or objective existence. This reasoning is profound and subtle and the ultimate reason for this kind of refutation.
The Buddha was considering the above-mentioned way that a rice seedling is produced [from causes and conditions] and exists [by way of depending on its basis of imputation and imputing terms and concepts] when he looked at a rice seedling and told his monks that whoever understands the dependent arising of a rice seedling understands the ontological status of the Buddha Jewel and the Dharma Jewel. The Buddha did not invent the way of dependent arising and the way of emptiness. Rather, he just clearly taught — through his own power,
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