Introduction

Let's get started. In this video, Elizabeth outlines the content for Unit 1: The Common Thread.

Unit 1: The Common Thread

Welcome! In this unit, we'll introduce our topic for the course: pratityasamutpada. This ancient Sanskrit word is commonly translated as "dependent arising." Dependent arising is the realization that everything depends on something else for its existence. When we truly see this, we are freed from our habitual state of disconnection from each other and reality.

Firstly, we'll try to understand dependent arising in a bigger context. There are so many expressions of Buddhism, it can be hard to understand how they relate to each other. This variety of teachings shows how adaptive the dharma—Buddhist teachings—can be, and how closely it can fit our lives. However, this variety doesn't mean that anything goes. There is a common thread that runs throughout all Buddhist traditions: dependent arising. 

We'll talk about what the Buddha said about dependent arising, and take a look at what it might mean for us personally. We'll look at the early "first turning" teachings on dependent arising, and then the later "second turning" teachings that constitute the Mahayana path. It is primarily this Mahayana path that will inform our investigation.

Finally, we'll look at the various ways people have translated pratityasamutpada to highlight different aspects of this insight into the nature of reality.