saṁskṛta-asaṁskṛta (T. 'dus_byas_'dus_ma_byas) is translated as "conditioned and unconditioned," etc. This term is a classification of all knowable objects within the Sanskrit tradition. It is identified as one of the ten topics of knowledge in the Madhyantavibhaga.
The Khenjuk states:
- Among the conditioned and the unconditioned, conditioned refers to any phenomenon produced from causes and conditions whose individual identity possesses the three aspects of arising, remaining and ceasing. Thus, its defining characteristic (lakṣaṇa) is all phenomena comprised of the five aggregates. In contrast to that, unconditioned refers to any phenomenon not produced from causes and devoid of arising and ceasing.
- With respect to knowable objects, as mentioned earlier, there are numerous systems of classification, such as the eighteen elements and twelve bases and so on, whereby their specific natures, characteristics, functions, and types are explained. However, when all of these phenomena are classified in terms of their essential natures they fall within two categories: those that are produced by causes and conditions that are subject to change, and those that are not produced by causes and conditions that are not subject to change. The first kind is characterized as impermanent or conditioned phenomena, whereas the second type is characterized as permanent or unconditioned phenomena. Those belonging to the first category are referred to as functional things since they perform the function of generating their result. They are called products since they arise from their causes and conditions. They are called conditioned phenomena since they are produced from the aggregation and convergence of causes and conditions. And they are called impermanent since they are states that are subject to disintegration moment by moment. Thus “functional thing,” “product,” “conditioned phenomenon,” and “impermanent” are equivalent with respect to their reference. “That which is capable of function” is the definition of a functional thing. “That which has arisen” is the definition of a product. “That which is fit to arise, cease, and endure” is the definition of a conditioned phenomena. And “that which is momentary” is the definition of impermanent.
- If the category of “conditioned, impermanent phenomena” is further differentiated, it can be classified in terms of three types: (1) material phenomena that are characterized as obstructive, such as what can be seen by the eyes or touched by the hand; (2) those characterized as consciousness, which are non-physical and constitute internal subjective experience alone; and (3) factors that are neither matter nor consciousness but whose ground of imputation is either material or mental phenomena, such as time. The categorization of conditioned phenomena into three classes remained a standard approach among classical Buddhist thinkers.
- Phenomena that are not produced by causes, and conditions that are not subject to change, are designated as nonthings since they do not perform the function of generating a result. They are unproduced since they are not generated by causes and conditions. They are unconditioned since for them the three features of arising, ceasing, and enduring are incompatible. And they are permanent since these are phenomena that do not transform from moment to moment. Terms such as these are used to describe unconditioned phenomena. Thus “nonthing,” “unproduced phenomena,” “unconditioned phenomena,” and “permanent” are equivalent with respect to their reference. “Being devoid of the capacity to perform a function” is the definition of nonthing, “not arisen” is the definition of being unproduced, “not fit to arise, cease, or abide” is the definition of unconditioned phenomena, and “being both a phenomenon as well as being not momentary” is the definition of a permanent entity.
- Permanent phenomena are of two types: eternal permanent phenomena and occasional permanent phenomena. Unconditioned space, for instance, is posited as an example of an eternal permanent phenomenon since it is a permanent phenomenon that exists forever throughout all time. In contrast, the space inside a vase, for example, is posited as an occasional permanent phenomenon since it exists only when the vase exists and ceases to exist when the vase no longer exists.
- Mipham Rinpoche (2002), Gateway to Knowledge, vol. III, translated by Kunsang, Erik Pema, Rangjung Yeshe Publications
- Thupten Jinpa, ed. (2017), Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Volume 1: The Physical World, translated by Coghlan, Ian James, Wisdom Publications
- S. Goodman, "The Conditioned and Unconditioned" Chapter of Mi-pham rgya mtsho's mkhas-pa'i tshul-la 'jug-pa'i sgo, M.A Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1979