KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI PAGODA -PATH TO ATTAIN ETERNAL BLISS AS FINAL GOAL
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2017 Sun 16 Oct 2016 2018 Mon 17 Oct 2016 LESSONS from INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University Tipitaka translated in 105 languages http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/digha.html Use http://www.translate.google.com/ from Rector JCMesh J Alphabets Letter Animation ClipartMesh C Alphabets Letter Animation Clipart an expert who identifies experts influenced by Expert and Infulencer Sashikanth Chandrasekharan of Free Online Awaken One With Awareness Mind (A1wAM)+ ioT (insight-net of Things) - the art of Giving, taking and Living to attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal through Electronic Visual Communication Course on Political Science -Techno-Politico-Socio Transformation and Economic Emancipation Movement (TPSTEEM). Struggle hard to see that all fraud EVMs are replaced by paper ballots by Start using Internet of things by creating Websites, blogs. Make the best use of facebook, twitter etc., to propagate TPSTEEM thru FOA1TRPUVF. Practice Insight Meditation in all postures of the body - Sitting, standing, lying, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, martial arts etc., for health mind in a healthy body. Dove-02-june.gif (38556 bytes) through up a levelhttp://sarvajan.ambedkar.orgup a level https://awakenmediaprabandhak. wordpress.com/ Button Plant Green Butterfly E Mail Animation Clip jcs4ever@outlook.com jchandra1942@icloud.com is the most Positive Energy of informative and research oriented site propagating the teachings of the Awakened One with Awareness the Buddha and on Techno-Politico-Socio Transformation and Economic Emancipation Movement followed by millions of people all over the world in 105 Classical languages. Rendering exact translation as a lesson of this University in one’s mother tongue to this Google Translation and propagation entitles to become a Stream Enterer (Sottapanna) and to attain Eternal Bliss as a Final Goal. http://www.speakgif.com/buddha-heart-animated-gif/ Buddha heart ANIMATED GIF - SpeakGif www.speakgif.com Enjoy Buddha heart ANIMATED GIF. A GIF is worth a million words. Explore best animated GIFs on SpeakGIF. Buddha heart ANIMATED GIF Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One What is Theravada Buddhism? Sangha Nibbana the true goal craving ignorance avijja dukkha Birth Analysis of Dependent Co-arising SN 12.2; Uninstructed in Classical English,Afrikaans-Klassieke Afrikaans
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LESSONS



 from

INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University

Tipitaka translated in 105 languages



http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/digha.html
Use
http://www.translate.google.com/
from

Rector
JCMesh J Alphabets Letter Animation ClipartMesh C Alphabets Letter Animation Clipart
an expert who identifies experts influenced by Expert and Infulencer Sashikanth Chandrasekharan


of


Free Online
Awaken One With Awareness Mind
(A1wAM)
+ ioT (insight-net of Things)  - the art of Giving, taking and Living   to attain Eternal Bliss
as Final Goal through Electronic Visual Communication Course on
Political Science -Techno-Politico-Socio Transformation and Economic
Emancipation Movement (TPSTEEM).


Struggle hard to see that all fraud EVMs are replaced by paper ballots by


Start
using Internet of things by creating Websites, blogs. Make the best use
of facebook, twitter etc., to propagate TPSTEEM thru
FOA1TRPUVF.

Practice
Insight Meditation in all postures of the body - Sitting, standing,
lying, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, martial arts etc., for
health mind in a healthy body.







Dove-02-june.gif (38556 bytes)









 through 

up a level
www.tipitaka.net
Tipitaka Network presents Buddhist news and information on Buddhism
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Tipitaka Network presents Buddhist news and information on Buddhism

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jcs4ever@outlook.com
jchandra1942@icloud.com







is the most Positive Energy of informative and research oriented site propagating the teachings of the Awakened One with Awareness the Buddha and on Techno-Politico-Socio
Transformation and Economic Emancipation Movement followed by millions
of people all over the world in 105 Classical languages.




Rendering exact translation as a lesson of this
University in one’s mother tongue to this Google Translation and
propagation entitles to become a Stream
Enterer (Sottapanna) and to attain Eternal Bliss as a Final Goal.

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http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/

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http://buddhisttrends.com/

http://thedailyenlightenment.com/

https://www.dailyzen.com/

http://www.abhayagiri.org/home/

http://www.globalbuddhism.org/jgb/index.php/jgb/

http://www.indology.net/

http://www.pragmaticbuddhism.org/

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/

https://sites.google.com/site/worldreligionsforkids/buddhism





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Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One





What is Theravada Buddhism?



Sangha



Nibbana



the true goal



craving



ignorance



avijja



dukkha



Birth



Analysis of Dependent Co-arising



SN 12.2;



Uninstructed




 

in Classical English,Afrikaans-Klassieke Afrikaans


I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi
in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed the
monks, “Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow
disenchanted with this body composed of the four great elements, might
grow dispassionate toward it, might gain release from it. Why is that?
Because the growth & decline, the taking up & putting down of
this body composed of the four great elements are apparent. Thus the
uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted, might grow
dispassionate, might gain release there.






“But
as for what’s called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness,’ the
uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with
it, unable to grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from
it. Why is that? For a long time this has been relished, appropriated,
and grasped by the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person as, ‘This is me,
this is my self, this is what I am.’ Thus the uninstructed
run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with it, unable to
grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from it.






“It
would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to
the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as
the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great
elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten,
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what’s
called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness’ by day and by night
arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey, swinging
through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs
another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. Letting go of
that, it grabs another one. In the same way, what’s called ‘mind,’
‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness’ by day and by night arises as one thing
and ceases as another.





“The
instructed disciple of the noble ones, [however,] attends carefully
& appropriately right there at the dependent co-arising:



 



“‘When this is, that is.





“‘From the arising of this comes the arising of that.





“‘When this isn’t, that isn’t.





“‘From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.





“‘In other words:





“‘From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.





“‘From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.





“‘From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.





“‘From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.





“‘From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.





“‘From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.





“‘From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.





“‘From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.





“‘From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.





“‘From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.





“‘From
birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow,
lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the
origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.





“‘Now
from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance
comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications
comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of
consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation
of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the
cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From
the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the
cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation
of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the
cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From
the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the
cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire
mass of stress & suffering.’



“Seeing
thus, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with
form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception,
disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness.
1
Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully
released. With full release, there is the knowledge, ‘Fully released.’
He discerns that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task
done. There is nothing further for this world.’”





Note





1.
The discussion here shifts from the framework of dependent co-arising
to that of the five aggregates. It’s a useful exercise to relate the two
teachings, and a good place to start this exercise is with
SN 12.2.



See also: SN 12.2; SN 22.5.




https://engageddharma.com/

DONALD TRUMP IS MARA – BUDDHISM AND THE VOTE

trump-as-mara

 

DONALD TRUMP IS MARA



by Wayne Ren-Cheng


Did that get your attention? Mara whose name means destruction, the
personification of the Desire World, the Buddhist demon that represents
the cravings and passions that delude us into unwholesome choices has a
contemporary avatar in Donald Trump. Mara sought to seduce Siddhartha,
the historical Buddha away from awakening. He claimed that the
experience of enlightenment belonged only to him. Donald Trump seeks to
seduce the American people and their political process. He claims the
experience of truth belongs only to him.


Trump is a personification of the Five Hindrances. He pursues sensual
desire and encourages others to do the same. His ill will toward others
he perceives as not like himself arises in his words and his actions.
Trump engages the world with hatred, envy, fear and greed as his
motivators and causally conditions his supporters to do the same. Doing
this also has the effect of causing the arising of hatred and fear in
those who oppose him. His deep level of ignorance about the world around
him and how his thoughts and actions affect it is the result of his
sloth, torpor and drowsiness. He is too lazy to learn and relies on the
same in his supporters. Restlessness will not allow him to stay on
message, even an unwholesome one. Worry is revealed in Trump’s
thin-skin. Every utterance by another is experienced as a personal
attack. Uncertain of his abilities to succeed he promotes skepticism of
the system in advance of losing. Trump offers an example of the causal
consequences of allowing the five hindrances to dominate a bodymind.


Ronald Reagan was known as the ‘teflon’ president because no scandal
or impropriety seemed to stick to him. Watching the debate on Sunday I
commented to Mary that unlike Reagan, Trump is the deflection candidate.
I said he uses aikido of the ego to redirect controversy. He engages a
force of will, of ego to deny, discredit and defame whatever conflict
arises. Trump rarely denies his unwholesome thoughts and actions.
Instead he redirects the blame for his own misdeeds by accusing others
of similar activities. Mary named this amazing ability . . . ego-kido . .
. an apt description.


A Buddhist knows that all human beings have Buddha-element. Donald
Trump has encased his Buddha-element in a locked silver box, placed that
into a locked gold box, surrounded it with a wall of diamond and then
stuffed it into a deep whole in his bodymind. Then he shoveled all the
negative soil of hatred, greed, envy, and fear over it. Is it possible
for him to rediscover it . . . yes. For that reason every Buddhist must
experience compassion for Trump the human being. That does not require a
VOTE for him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmrme4sozoI

www.youtube.com
More
than 300 religious and spiritual leaders from around the world, Kenyan
musicians, dancers and tribal elders gather for Africa’s first Buddhist
‘Fire and Water’ ritual which is supposed to nurture spiritual
awakening.Duration: 02:05
Published on Mar 5, 2012

More
than 300 religious and spiritual leaders from around the world, Kenyan
musicians, dancers and tribal elders gather for Africa’s first Buddhist
‘Fire and Water’ ritual which is supposed to nurture spiritual
awakening.Duration: 02:05

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG4UWpPtIYg
www.youtube.com
Thirty-five
years ago, the largest statue of Buddha in the southern hemisphere was
built by Dutch architect Louis van Loon at the Buddhist Retreat Center
in Ixopo, South Africa. This poetic and entertaining documentary takes a
look at the influence Buddhism has had on the neighbouring Zulu girl
who grew up nearby. Buddha-like in the way she faces hardship, S’Lungile
Chiliza gives a unique perspective on the presence of the Buddhists and
how they have affected her life.

Published on Oct 4, 2013

Thirty-five
years ago, the largest statue of Buddha in the southern hemisphere was
built by Dutch architect Louis van Loon at the Buddhist Retreat Center
in Ixopo, South Africa. This poetic and entertaining documentary takes a
look at the influence Buddhism has had on the neighbouring Zulu girl
who grew up nearby. Buddha-like in the way she faces hardship, S’Lungile
Chiliza gives a unique perspective on the presence of the Buddhists and
how they have affected her life.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_in_Africa

en.wikipedia.org
Buddhism,
as a major world religion, is practiced in Africa. Though there have
been some conversion amongst Africans, most of the Buddhists in Africa,
are of Asian …

Buddhism in Africa



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia







Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, South Africa is the largest Buddhist pagoda in Africa.


Buddhism, as a major world religion, is practiced in Africa. Though there have been some conversion amongst Africans, most of the Buddhists in Africa, are of Asian, mostly Chinese, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan or Japanese descent.

South Africa is holding the largest Buddhist population in the continent. According to the 2010s estimates, Buddhist adherents (included Taoism and Chinese Folk Religion) áre increasing to between 0.2%[1] 0.3%[2] of the South African population, or between 100 and 150 thousand people while the number of practicing Buddhists maybe low.

The African countries and territories in the Indian Ocean are also having significant Buddhist minorities. Mauritius has the highest Buddhist percentage (between 1.5[3] to 2%[4] of the total population) among African countries due to high number of Chinese people (nearly 40 thousands or 3% of the Mauritian population[5]). But the number of practicing Buddhists is only about 0.4%.[6] And Madagascar is also home of about 20 thousand Buddhists[7] (or about 0.1%[8] of the total population). In the Seychelles and Réunion, Buddhists represented about 0.1%[9][10] to 0.2%[1][11] of the island populations.

In North Africa, about 0.3%[1][12] (or about 20 thousand people) of the Libya’s population are also Buddhists (mostly foreign workers from Asia). There are also two Buddhist centers in Casablanca, Morocco.[13]

There are some Buddhist centers or temples can be found in Sub-Saharan African countries like: Botswana,[14] Cameroon,[15] Cote d’Ivoire,[16] Ghana,[17] Guinea,[18] Kenya,[19] Lesotho,[20] Liberia,[21] Malawi,[22] Mali,[23] Namibia,[24] Nigeria,[25] Senegal, Sierra Leone,[26] Swaziland,[27] Tanzania,[28] Togo,[29] Uganda,[30] Zambia,[31] and Zimbabwe.[32]

There have also been cases of some high-profile celebrities converting to Buddhism such as Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a famous British actor of Nigerian descent.[33]

One of the very few monastics of African descent is Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita from Uganda, founder of the Uganda Buddhist Centre.





Contents


Buddhist population by country





















































































































































































































































































































































































Countries/Territories Practicing Buddhism

(2010’s estimates)
[34]
Chinese Folk Religions

(2010’s estimates)
[35]
Combined numbers
Eastern Africa
 Burundi - - -
 Comoros - - -
 Djibouti - - -
 Eritrea - - -
 Ethiopia 1,327 - 1,327
 Kenya 1,276 1,945 3,221
 Madagascar 5,178 10,357 15,535
 Malawi available[22][36] - -
 Mauritius 3,222 17,292 20,514
 Mayotte (France) - - -
 Mozambique 2,035 4,341 6,376
 Réunion (France) 1,570 - 1,570
 Rwanda - - -
 Seychelles available[9] available[10] -
 Somalia - - -
 South Sudan - - -
 Tanzania 10,157 23,699 33,856
 Uganda 2,005 4,278 6,283
 Zambia 3,927 8,377 12,304
 Zimbabwe 189 402 591
Central Africa
 Angola 1,632 162 1,794
 Cameroon 353 753 1,106
 Central African Republic - - -
 Chad 1,684 3,593 5,277
 Republic of the Congo - 283 283
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 3,734 - -
 Equatorial Guinea - - -
 Gabon - - -
 São Tomé and Príncipe - - -
Northern Africa
 Algeria 5,320 11,350 16,670
 Egypt 1,687 - -
 Libya 20,209 1,773 21,982
 Morocco available[13] - -
 Sudan 982 2,094 3,076
 Tunisia 79 168 247
 Western Sahara - - -
Southern Africa
 Botswana 1,120 111 1,231
 Lesotho available[20] - -
 Namibia available[24] - -
 South Africa 159,220 35,589 194,809
 Swaziland available[27] - -
Western Africa
 Benin - - -
 Burkina Faso available[37] - -
 Cape Verde - - -
 Côte d’Ivoire 9,869 - -
 Gambia - - -
 Ghana 488 707 1,195
 Guinea 8,983 - -
 Guinea-Bissau - - -
 Liberia available[21] - -
 Mali available[23]
 Mauritania - - -
 Niger - - -
 Nigeria 8,458 4,675 13,133
 Senegal 1,679 398 2,057
 Sierra Leone available[26][38]
 Togo available[29][39] - -
Africa 256,383 132,348 388,731






Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, South Africa is the largest Buddhist pagoda in Africa.



1) Classical Afrikaans
2) Klassieke Africaans

2017 Sun 16 Oktober 2016
2018 Mon 17 Oktober 2016
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Die lewering van presiese vertaling as ‘n les van hierdie Universiteit
in ‘n mens se moedertaal na hierdie Google vertaal en voortplanting reg
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as ‘n einddoel.

http://media.kmspks.org/category/awaken-magazine?doing_wp_cron=1476671777.5531549453735351562500

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/

https://www.buddhistdoor.net/

http://buddhisttrends.com/

http://thedailyenlightenment.com/

https://www.dailyzen.com/

http://www.abhayagiri.org/home/

http://www.globalbuddhism.org/jgb/index.php/jgb/

http://www.indology.net/

http://www.pragmaticbuddhism.org/

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/

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Geestelike Gemeenskap van die ware volgelinge van die pad getoon deur die wakker Een

Wat is Theravada Boeddhisme?

Sangha

Nibbana

die ware doel

drang

onkunde

avijja

dukkha

geboorte

Ontleding van afhanklike Co-voortspruit

SN 12.2;

ononderwezen

 

Klassieke Afrikaans, Engels-Klassieke Afrikaans

Ek het gehoor dat aan die een geleentheid die Geseënde Een gebly naby Savatthi in Jeta se Grove, Anathapindika se klooster. Daar
aangespreek hy die monnike, “Monks, ‘n ononderwezen run-of-the-mill
persoon kan groei ontnugterde met hierdie liggaam bestaan ​​uit die vier
groot elemente, kan groei objektiewe daarop, kan vrystelling kry van
dit. Hoekom is dit? Omdat die
groei en agteruitgang, die toegang tot en neer te sit van hierdie
liggaam bestaan ​​uit die vier groot elemente is duidelik. So het die
ononderwezen run-of-the-mill persoon kan groei ontnugterde, kan
objektiewe groei, kan vrystelling daar kry.

“Maar
wat se verstand, ‘’ intellek,” of “bewussyn” die ononderwezen
run-of-the-mill persoon nie in staat ontnugterde daarmee om te groei,
nie objektiewe rigting dit om te groei, nie in staat is om sy vrylating
te bewerkstellig daaruit genoem
.
Hoekom is dit? Vir ‘n lang tyd hierdie is gekruid, bewillig, en
aangegryp deur die ononderwezen persoon run-of-the-mill as: dit is my,
dit is my eie, dit is wat ek is. ”
So die ononderwezen run-of-the-mill persoon nie in staat om te groei
ontnugterde daarmee, nie in staat is om te groei objektiewe daarop, nie
in staat is om sy vrylating te bewerkstellig daaruit.

“Dit
sou beter wees vir die ononderwezen run-of-the-mill persoon om vas te
hou aan die liggaam saamgestel uit die vier groot elemente, eerder as om
die gedagte, soos die self. Hoekom is dit? Omdat hierdie liggaam
bestaan ​​uit die vier groot elemente
gesien
staan ​​vir ‘n jaar, twee jaar, drie, vier, vyf, tien, twintig, dertig,
veertig, vyftig, ‘n honderd jaar of meer. Maar wat is bekend as
‘gedagte,’ ‘intellek, “of” bewussyn “deur die dag en
in
die nag ontstaan ​​as een ding en ophou as ‘n ander. Net soos ‘n aap,
swaai deur ‘n woud woestyn, gryp ‘n tak. loslaat van dit, dit gryp ‘n
ander tak. loslaat van wat dit gryp ‘n ander een. loslaat van wat
dit gryp ‘n ander een. Op dieselfde wyse, wat ‘gedagte,’ ‘intellek,
“of” bewussyn “genoem deur die dag en nag ontstaan ​​as een ding en
ophou as ‘n ander.

“Die opdrag dissipel van die maghebbers, [maar] bywoon noukeurig & toepaslik net daar op die afhanklike mede-voortspruit:

 

“” Wanneer hierdie is, dit wil sê.

“Uit die ontstaan ​​van hierdie kom die ontstaan ​​van daardie.

“” Wanneer hierdie is nie, dit wil sê nie.

“Uit die beëindiging van hierdie kom die beëindiging van daardie.

“‘Met ander woorde:

“Uit onkunde as ‘n vereiste toestand kom fabrications.

“Uit fabrications as ‘n vereiste toestand kom bewussyn.

“Uit die bewussyn as ‘n vereiste toestand kom naam - & - vorm.

“Uit naam - & - vorm as ‘n vereiste toestand kom die ses sin media.

“Uit die ses sin media as ‘n vereiste toestand kom kontak.

“Uit kontak as ‘n vereiste toestand kom voel.

“Uit voel as ‘n vereiste toestand kom drang.

“Uit drang as ‘n vereiste toestand kom klou / lewensmiddele.

“Uit vasklou / lewensmiddele as ‘n vereiste toestand kom raak.

“Uit besig om as ‘n vereiste toestand kom geboorte.

” ‘Van geboorte as ‘n vereiste toestand, dan veroudering en dood,
hartseer, geklaag, pyn, angs, en wanhoop kom in die spel. Dit is die
ontstaan ​​van hierdie hele massa van stres en lyding.


‘En van die remainderless vervaag & beëindiging van daardie onkunde
kom die beëindiging van fabrications Van die beëindiging van
fabrications kom die beëindiging van bewussyn uit die beëindiging van
bewussyn kom die beëindiging van naam -.. & -. Vorm uit die
beëindiging van naam
-
& - vorm kom die beëindiging van die ses sin media uit die
beëindiging van die ses sin media kom die beëindiging van kontak van die
beëindiging van die kontak kom die beëindiging van gevoel uit die
beëindiging van gevoel kom die beëindiging van drang van….
die
beëindiging van drang kom die beëindiging van vasklou / voedsel kry
nie. van die beëindiging van vasklou / lewensmiddele kom die beëindiging
van steeds. van die beëindiging van steeds kom die beëindiging van
geboorte. van die beëindiging van geboorte, dan veroudering en dood,
hartseer, geklaag
, pyn, angs, en wanhoop al gestaak. dit is die beëindiging van hierdie hele massa van stres en lyding. “

“Terwyl
dus die opdrag dissipel van die maghebbers groei ontnugter met vorm,
ontnugterde met gevoel, ontnugter met persepsie, ontnugterde met
fabrications, ontnugterde met consciousness.1 Disenchanted, word hy
objektiewe. Deur dispassion, is hy ten volle vrygestel. Met volle
vrystelling
daar is die kennis, ‘ten volle vrygestel. Hy onderskei wat se geboorte is ten einde, die heilige lewe vervul die taak gedoen. Daar is niks verder vir die wêreld. “

nota

1. Die bespreking hier verskuif vanaf die raamwerk van afhanklike mede-voortspruit aan dié van die vyf aggregate. Dit is ‘n nuttige oefening om die twee leerstellings in verband, en ‘n goeie plek om hierdie oefening te begin is met SN 12.2.

Sien ook: SN 12.2; SN 22.5.

https://engageddharma.com/

Donald Trump IS MARA - Boeddhisme en die stemme
11 Oktober 2016 4 Kommentaar

troef-as-Mara

 

Donald Trump IS MARA

deur Wayne Ren-Cheng

Het dit jou aandag te kry? Mara
wie se naam beteken vernietiging, die verpersoonliking van die begeerte
World, die Boeddhistiese demoon wat die drange en drifte wat ons mislei
in ongesonde keuses verteenwoordig ‘n kontemporêre avatar in Donald
Trump.
Mara probeer om te verlei Siddhartha, die historiese Boeddha weg van ontwaking. Hy het beweer dat die ervaring van verligting behoort net aan hom. Donald Trump poog om die Amerikaanse volk en hul politieke proses te verlei. Hy beweer die ervaring van die waarheid behoort net aan hom.

Trump is ‘n verpersoonliking van die Vyf Hindernisse. Hy streef sensuele begeerte en ander aanmoedig om dieselfde te doen. Sy kwade gevoelens teenoor ander wat hy waarneem as nie self wil ontstaan ​​in sy woorde en sy optrede. Trump
betrokke die wêreld met haat, jaloesie, vrees en gierigheid as sy
motiveerders en oorsaaklik voorwaardes sy ondersteuners om dieselfde te
doen.
Deur dit te doen het ook die effek van wat veroorsaak dat die ontstaan ​​van haat en vrees in die wat Hom teenstaan. Sy
diep vlak van onkunde oor die wêreld rondom hom en hoe sy gedagtes en
optrede beïnvloed dit die gevolg van sy luiheid, traagheid en
lomerigheid.
Hy is te lui om te leer en berus op dieselfde in sy ondersteuners. Rusteloosheid sal nie toelaat dat hy bly op die boodskap, selfs ‘n ongesonde een. Bekommernis is geopenbaar in Trump se dun vel. Elke woord deur ‘n ander ervaar word as ‘n persoonlike aanval. Onseker van sy vermoëns om te slaag hy bevorder skeptisisme van die stelsel in die opmars van die verlies. Trump bied ‘n voorbeeld van die oorsaaklike gevolge van wat die vyf hindernisse tot ‘n bodymind oorheers.

Ronald Reagan was bekend as die “Teflon” president, omdat daar geen skandaal of onbehoorlikheid gelyk te hou by hom. Kyk
na die debat oor Sondag het ek kommentaar gelewer aan Maria dat in
teenstelling met Reagan, Trump is die defleksie kandidaat.
Ek het gesê hy gebruik Aikido van die ego om omstredenheid te lei. Hy betrek ‘n krag van wil, van die ego om te ontken, te diskrediteer en laster alles konflik ontstaan. Trump ontken selde sy ongesonde gedagtes en aksies. In plaas aansture hy die skuld vir sy eie wandade deur beskuldig ander van soortgelyke aktiwiteite. Maria het hierdie ongelooflike vermoë. . . ego-KIDO. . . ‘n gepaste beskrywing.

‘N Boeddhistiese weet dat alle mense het Boeddha-element. Donald
Trump het omhul sy Boeddha-element in ‘n geslote silwer boks, geplaas
wat in ‘n geslote goue boks, omring dit met ‘n muur van die diamant en
dan gestop dit in ‘n diep geheel in sy bodymind.
Dan shoveled hy al die negatiewe grond van haat, gierigheid, afguns, en vrees oor dit. Is dit moontlik vir hom om dit te herontdek. . . Ja. Om dié rede moet elke Boeddhistiese deernis ervaar Trump die mens. Dit beteken nie ‘n stem vir hom eis.

comments (0)
2017 Sun Oct 2016 LESSONS from INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University Please render correct translation in your mother tongue for this Google Translation http://www.speakgif.com/buddha-heart-animated-gif/ Buddha heart ANIMATED GIF Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One What is Theravada Buddhism? Sangha Nibbana the true goal craving ignorance avijja dukkha Birth Analysis of Dependent Co-arising SN 12.2; Uninstructed in Classical English,Afrikaans-Klassieke Afrikaans,
Filed under: Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka
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INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University

Please render correct translation in your mother tongue for this Google Translation



http://www.speakgif.com/buddha-heart-animated-gif/



Buddha heart ANIMATED GIF

Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One

What is Theravada Buddhism?

Sangha

Nibbana

the true goal

craving

ignorance

avijja

dukkha

Birth

Analysis of Dependent Co-arising

SN 12.2;

Uninstructed


 

in Classical English,Afrikaans-Klassieke Afrikaans,



I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi
in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed the
monks, “Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow
disenchanted with this body composed of the four great elements, might
grow dispassionate toward it, might gain release from it. Why is that?
Because the growth & decline, the taking up & putting down of
this body composed of the four great elements are apparent. Thus the
uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted, might grow
dispassionate, might gain release there.






“But
as for what’s called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness,’ the
uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with
it, unable to grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from
it. Why is that? For a long time this has been relished, appropriated,
and grasped by the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person as, ‘This is me,
this is my self, this is what I am.’ Thus the uninstructed
run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with it, unable to
grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from it.






“It
would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to
the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as
the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great
elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten,
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what’s
called ‘mind,’ ‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness’ by day and by night
arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey, swinging
through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs
another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. Letting go of
that, it grabs another one. In the same way, what’s called ‘mind,’
‘intellect,’ or ‘consciousness’ by day and by night arises as one thing
and ceases as another.





“The
instructed disciple of the noble ones, [however,] attends carefully
& appropriately right there at the dependent co-arising:



 



“‘When this is, that is.





“‘From the arising of this comes the arising of that.





“‘When this isn’t, that isn’t.





“‘From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.





“‘In other words:





“‘From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.





“‘From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.





“‘From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.





“‘From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.





“‘From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact.





“‘From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.





“‘From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.





“‘From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.





“‘From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming.





“‘From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.





“‘From
birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow,
lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the
origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.





“‘Now
from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance
comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications
comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of
consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation
of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the
cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From
the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the
cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation
of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the
cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From
the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the
cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire
mass of stress & suffering.’



“Seeing
thus, the instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with
form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception,
disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness.1

Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully
released. With full release, there is the knowledge, ‘Fully released.’
He discerns that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task
done. There is nothing further for this world.’”





Note





1.
The discussion here shifts from the framework of dependent co-arising
to that of the five aggregates. It’s a useful exercise to relate the two
teachings, and a good place to start this exercise is with SN 12.2.



See also: SN 12.2; SN 22.5.


1) Classical Afrikaans
1) Klassieke Afrikaans

2017 Sun Oktober 2016
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Buddha hart animasie advertensie

Geestelike Gemeenskap van die ware volgelinge van die pad getoon deur die wakker Een

Wat is Theravada Boeddhisme?

Sangha

Nibbana

die ware doel

drang

onkunde

avijja

dukkha

geboorte

Ontleding van afhanklike Co-voortspruit

SN 12.2;

ononderwezen

 

Ek het gehoor dat aan die een geleentheid die Geseënde Een gebly naby Savatthi in Jeta se Grove, Anathapindika se klooster. Daar
aangespreek hy die monnike, “Monks, ‘n ononderwezen run-of-the-mill
persoon kan groei ontnugterde met hierdie liggaam bestaan ​​uit die vier
groot elemente, kan groei objektiewe daarop, kan vrystelling kry van
dit. Hoekom is dit? Omdat die
groei en agteruitgang, die toegang tot en neer te sit van hierdie
liggaam bestaan ​​uit die vier groot elemente is duidelik. So het die
ononderwezen run-of-the-mill persoon kan groei ontnugterde, kan
objektiewe groei, kan vrystelling daar kry.

“Maar
wat se verstand, ‘’ intellek,” of “bewussyn” die ononderwezen
run-of-the-mill persoon nie in staat ontnugterde daarmee om te groei,
nie objektiewe rigting dit om te groei, nie in staat is om sy vrylating
te bewerkstellig daaruit genoem
.
Hoekom is dit? Vir ‘n lang tyd hierdie is gekruid, bewillig, en
aangegryp deur die ononderwezen persoon run-of-the-mill as: dit is my,
dit is my eie, dit is wat ek is. ”
So die ononderwezen run-of-the-mill persoon nie in staat om te groei
ontnugterde daarmee, nie in staat is om te groei objektiewe daarop, nie
in staat is om sy vrylating te bewerkstellig daaruit.

“Dit
sou beter wees vir die ononderwezen run-of-the-mill persoon om vas te
hou aan die liggaam saamgestel uit die vier groot elemente, eerder as om
die gedagte, soos die self. Hoekom is dit? Omdat hierdie liggaam
bestaan ​​uit die vier groot elemente
gesien
staan ​​vir ‘n jaar, twee jaar, drie, vier, vyf, tien, twintig, dertig,
veertig, vyftig, ‘n honderd jaar of meer. Maar wat is bekend as
‘gedagte,’ ‘intellek, “of” bewussyn “deur die dag en
in
die nag ontstaan ​​as een ding en ophou as ‘n ander. Net soos ‘n aap,
swaai deur ‘n woud woestyn, gryp ‘n tak. loslaat van dit, dit gryp ‘n
ander tak. loslaat van wat dit gryp ‘n ander een. loslaat van wat
dit gryp ‘n ander een. Op dieselfde wyse, wat ‘gedagte,’ ‘intellek,
“of” bewussyn “genoem deur die dag en nag ontstaan ​​as een ding en
ophou as ‘n ander.

“Die opdrag dissipel van die maghebbers, [maar] bywoon noukeurig & toepaslik net daar op die afhanklike mede-voortspruit:

 

“” Wanneer hierdie is, dit wil sê.

“Uit die ontstaan ​​van hierdie kom die ontstaan ​​van daardie.

“” Wanneer hierdie is nie, dit wil sê nie.

“Uit die beëindiging van hierdie kom die beëindiging van daardie.

“‘Met ander woorde:

“Uit onkunde as ‘n vereiste toestand kom fabrications.

“Uit fabrications as ‘n vereiste toestand kom bewussyn.

“Uit die bewussyn as ‘n vereiste toestand kom naam - & - vorm.

“Uit naam - & - vorm as ‘n vereiste toestand kom die ses sin media.

“Uit die ses sin media as ‘n vereiste toestand kom kontak.

“Uit kontak as ‘n vereiste toestand kom voel.

“Uit voel as ‘n vereiste toestand kom drang.

“Uit drang as ‘n vereiste toestand kom klou / lewensmiddele.

“Uit vasklou / lewensmiddele as ‘n vereiste toestand kom raak.

“Uit besig om as ‘n vereiste toestand kom geboorte.

” ‘Van geboorte as ‘n vereiste toestand, dan veroudering en dood,
hartseer, geklaag, pyn, angs, en wanhoop kom in die spel. Dit is die
ontstaan ​​van hierdie hele massa van stres en lyding.


‘En van die remainderless vervaag & beëindiging van daardie onkunde
kom die beëindiging van fabrications Van die beëindiging van
fabrications kom die beëindiging van bewussyn uit die beëindiging van
bewussyn kom die beëindiging van naam -.. & -. Vorm uit die
beëindiging van naam
-
& - vorm kom die beëindiging van die ses sin media uit die
beëindiging van die ses sin media kom die beëindiging van kontak van die
beëindiging van die kontak kom die beëindiging van gevoel uit die
beëindiging van gevoel kom die beëindiging van drang van….
die
beëindiging van drang kom die beëindiging van vasklou / voedsel kry
nie. van die beëindiging van vasklou / lewensmiddele kom die beëindiging
van steeds. van die beëindiging van steeds kom die beëindiging van
geboorte. van die beëindiging van geboorte, dan veroudering en dood,
hartseer, geklaag
, pyn, angs, en wanhoop al gestaak. dit is die beëindiging van hierdie hele massa van stres en lyding. “

“Terwyl
dus die opdrag dissipel van die maghebbers groei ontnugter met vorm,
ontnugterde met gevoel, ontnugter met persepsie, ontnugterde met
fabrications, ontnugterde met consciousness.1 Disenchanted, word hy
objektiewe. Deur dispassion, is hy ten volle vrygestel. Met volle
vrystelling
daar is die kennis, ‘ten volle vrygestel. Hy onderskei wat se geboorte is ten einde, die heilige lewe vervul die taak gedoen. Daar is niks verder vir die wêreld. “

nota

1. Die bespreking hier verskuif vanaf die raamwerk van afhanklike mede-voortspruit aan dié van die vyf aggregate. Dit is ‘n nuttige oefening om die twee leerstellings in verband, en ‘n goeie plek om hierdie oefening te begin is met SN 12.2.

Sien ook: SN 12.2; SN 22.5.


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2009 Sat Oct 08 2016 to 2016 Sat Oct 2016 LESSONS from INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University The Awakened One A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life Readings from the Pali Canon
Filed under: Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka
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2009 Sat Oct 08 2016

to

2016 Sat Oct 2016

LESSONS



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INSIGHT-NET-Hi Tech Radio Free Animation Clipart Online A1 (Awakened One) Tipiṭaka Research & Practice University

2016

LESSON

The Awakened One

A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life

Readings from the Pali Canon

Readings from the Pali Canon

Theravada Buddhism

A Chronology

first discourse

Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

Translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Four Noble Truths

course of birth and death

The Round of Rebirth

 

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1 (9) THE GOTAMA BUDDHAS LIFE IN CARTOON

http://www.myvideo-box.com/clips/video.php?idclips=27469

 

An ocean of tears

“Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering
this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what
is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in
the four great oceans?… This is the greater: the tears you have
shed…

“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The
tears you have shed over the death of a mother while transmigrating
& wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being
joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing —
are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father… the
death of a brother… the death of a sister… the death of a son… the
death of a daughter… loss with regard to relatives… loss with
regard to wealth… loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed
over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering
this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what
is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than
the water in the four great oceans.

“Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving
are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced
stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries —
enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to
become dispassionate, enough to be released.”

SN 15.3



This precious human birth

“Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with
water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind
from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it
east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south
would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would
come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you
think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one
hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?”

“It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle,
coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck
into the yoke with a single hole.”

“It’s likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state.
It’s likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly
self-awakened, arises in the world. It’s likewise a sheer coincidence
that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the
world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy
& rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine &
discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

“Therefore your duty is the contemplation: ‘This is stressThis is the origination of stressThis is the cessation of stressThis is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’”

SN 56.48



Why do we wander in samsara?

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating four things
that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you
& I. Which four?

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble virtue
that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you
& I.

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble
concentration that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long,
long time, you & I.

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble
discernment that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long,
long time, you & I.

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble release
that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you
& I.

“But when noble virtue is understood & penetrated, when noble
concentration… noble discernment… noble release is understood &
penetrated, then craving for becoming is destroyed, the guide to becoming (craving & attachment) is ended, there is now no further becoming.”

AN 4.1





2015

LESSON

The True Teachings of The Awakened One

What is Theravada Buddhism?

by

John Bullitt

Dhamma

Nibbana

Giving

jhana

Right Concentration

samma Samadhi

The Fourth Noble Truth

The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of dukkha

dukkha nirodha gamini patipada ariya sacca

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Way to the End of Suffering]

 

by
Bhikkhu Bodhi
 

Contents [go up]



Preface [go up]

The essence of the Buddha’s teaching can be summed up in two
principles: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The
first covers the side of doctrine, and the primary response it elicits
is understanding; the second covers the side of discipline, in the
broadest sense of that word, and the primary response it calls for is
practice. In the structure of the teaching these two principles lock
together into an indivisible unity called the dhamma-vinaya, the
doctrine-and-discipline, or, in brief, the Dhamma. The internal unity of
the Dhamma is guaranteed by the fact that the last of the Four Noble
Truths, the truth of the way, is the Noble Eightfold Path, while the
first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, right view, is the
understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Thus the two principles
penetrate and include one another, the formula of the Four Noble Truths
containing the Eightfold Path and the Noble Eightfold Path containing
the Four Truths.

Given this integral unity, it would be pointless to pose the question
which of the two aspects of the Dhamma has greater value, the doctrine
or the path. But if we did risk the pointless by asking that question,
the answer would have to be the path. The path claims primacy because it
is precisely this that brings the teaching to life. The path translates
the Dhamma from a collection of abstract formulas into a continually
unfolding disclosure of truth. It gives an outlet from the problem of
suffering with which the teaching starts. And it makes the teaching’s
goal, liberation from suffering, accessible to us in our own experience,
where alone it takes on authentic meaning.

To follow the Noble Eightfold Path is a matter of practice rather
than intellectual knowledge, but to apply the path correctly it has to
be properly understood. In fact, right understanding of the path is
itself a part of the practice. It is a facet of right view, the first
path factor, the forerunner and guide for the rest of the path. Thus,
though initial enthusiasm might suggest that the task of intellectual
comprehension may be shelved as a bothersome distraction, mature
consideration reveals it to be quite essential to ultimate success in
the practice.

The present book aims at contributing towards a proper understanding
of the Noble Eightfold Path by investigating its eight factors and their
components to determine exactly what they involve. I have attempted to
be concise, using as the framework for exposition the Buddha’s own words
in explanation of the path factors, as found in the Sutta Pitaka of the
Pali canon. To assist the reader with limited access to primary sources
even in translation, I have tried to confine my selection of quotations
as much as possible (but not completely) to those found in Venerable
Nyanatiloka’s classic anthology, The Word of the Buddha. In some
cases passages taken from that work have been slightly modified, to
accord with my own preferred renderings. For further amplification of
meaning I have sometimes drawn upon the commentaries; especially in my
accounts of concentration and wisdom (Chapters VII and VIII) I have
relied heavily on the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification),
a vast encyclopedic work which systematizes the practice of the path in
a detailed and comprehensive manner. Limitations of space prevent an
exhaustive treatment of each factor. To compensate for this deficiency I
have included a list of recommended readings at the end, which the
reader may consult for more detailed explanations of individual path
factors. For full commitment to the practice of the path, however,
especially in its advanced stages of concentration and insight, it will
be extremely helpful to have contact with a properly qualified teacher.

— Bhikkhu Bodhi


Abbreviations [go up]

Textual references have been abbreviated as follows:

DN …. Digha Nikaya (number of sutta)
MN …. Majjhima Nikaya (number of sutta)
SN …. Samyutta Nikaya (chapter and number of sutta)
AN …. Anguttara Nikaya (numerical collection and number of sutta)
Dhp …. Dhammapada (verse)
Vism …. Visuddhimagga

References to Vism. are to the chapter and section number of the translation by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, The Path of Purification (BPS ed. 1975, 1991)



Chapter I [go up]
The Way to the End of Suffering

The search for a spiritual path is born out of suffering. It does not
start with lights and ecstasy, but with the hard tacks of pain,
disappointment, and confusion. However, for suffering to give birth to a
genuine spiritual search, it must amount to more than something
passively received from without. It has to trigger an inner realization,
a perception which pierces through the facile complacency of our usual
encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity perpetually gaping
underfoot. When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily, it can
precipitate a profound personal crisis. It overturns accustomed goals
and values, mocks our routine preoccupations, leaves old enjoyments
stubbornly unsatisfying.

At first such changes generally are not welcome. We try to deny our
vision and to smother our doubts; we struggle to drive away the
discontent with new pursuits. But the flame of inquiry, once lit,
continues to burn, and if we do not let ourselves be swept away by
superficial readjustments or slouch back into a patched up version of
our natural optimism, eventually the original glimmering of insight will
again flare up, again confront us with our essential plight. It is
precisely at that point, with all escape routes blocked, that we are
ready to seek a way to bring our disquietude to an end. No longer can we
continue to drift complacently through life, driven blindly by our
hunger for sense pleasures and by the pressure of prevailing social
norms. A deeper reality beckons us; we have heard the call of a more
stable, more authentic happiness, and until we arrive at our destination
we cannot rest content.

But it is just then that we find ourselves facing a new difficulty.
Once we come to recognize the need for a spiritual path we discover that
spiritual teachings are by no means homogeneous and mutually
compatible. When we browse through the shelves of humanity’s spiritual
heritage, both ancient and contemporary, we do not find a single tidy
volume but a veritable bazaar of spiritual systems and disciplines each
offering themselves to us as the highest, the fastest, the most
powerful, or the most profound solution to our quest for the Ultimate.
Confronted with this melange, we fall into confusion trying to size them
up — to decide which is truly liberative, a real solution to our needs,
and which is a sidetrack beset with hidden flaws.

One approach to resolving this problem that is popular today is the
eclectic one: to pick and choose from the various traditions whatever
seems amenable to our needs, welding together different practices and
techniques into a synthetic whole that is personally satisfying. Thus
one may combine Buddhist mindfulness meditation with sessions of Hindu
mantra recitation, Christian prayer with Sufi dancing, Jewish Kabbala
with Tibetan visualization exercises. Eclecticism, however, though
sometimes helpful in making a transition from a predominantly worldly
and materialistic way of life to one that takes on a spiritual hue,
eventually wears thin. While it makes a comfortable halfway house, it is
not comfortable as a final vehicle.

There are two interrelated flaws in eclecticism that account for its
ultimate inadequacy. One is that eclecticism compromises the very
traditions it draws upon. The great spiritual traditions themselves do
not propose their disciplines as independent techniques that may be
excised from their setting and freely recombined to enhance the felt
quality of our lives. They present them, rather, as parts of an integral
whole, of a coherent vision regarding the fundamental nature of reality
and the final goal of the spiritual quest. A spiritual tradition is not
a shallow stream in which one can wet one’s feet and then beat a quick
retreat to the shore. It is a mighty, tumultuous river which would rush
through the entire landscape of one’s life, and if one truly wishes to
travel on it, one must be courageous enough to launch one’s boat and
head out for the depths.

The second defect in eclecticism follows from the first. As spiritual
practices are built upon visions regarding the nature of reality and
the final good, these visions are not mutually compatible. When we
honestly examine the teachings of these traditions, we will find that
major differences in perspective reveal themselves to our sight,
differences which cannot be easily dismissed as alternative ways of
saying the same thing. Rather, they point to very different experiences
constituting the supreme goal and the path that must be trodden to reach
that goal.

Hence, because of the differences in perspectives and practices that
the different spiritual traditions propose, once we decide that we have
outgrown eclecticism and feel that we are ready to make a serious
commitment to one particular path, we find ourselves confronted with the
challenge of choosing a path that will lead us to true enlightenment
and liberation. One cue to resolving this dilemma is to clarify to
ourselves our fundamental aim, to determine what we seek in a genuinely
liberative path. If we reflect carefully, it will become clear that the
prime requirement is a way to the end of suffering. All problems
ultimately can be reduced to the problem of suffering; thus what we need
is a way that will end this problem finally and completely. Both these
qualifying words are important. The path has to lead to a complete end of suffering, to an end of suffering in all its forms, and to a final end of suffering, to bring suffering to an irreversible stop.

But here we run up against another question. How are we to find such a
path — a path which has the capacity to lead us to the full and final
end of suffering? Until we actually follow a path to its goal we cannot
know with certainty where it leads, and in order to follow a path to its
goal we must place complete trust in the efficacy of the path. The
pursuit of a spiritual path is not like selecting a new suit of clothes.
To select a new suit one need only try on a number of suits, inspect
oneself in the mirror, and select the suit in which one appears most
attractive. The choice of a spiritual path is closer to marriage: one
wants a partner for life, one whose companionship will prove as
trustworthy and durable as the pole star in the night sky.

Faced with this new dilemma, we may think that we have reached a dead
end and conclude that we have nothing to guide us but personal
inclination, if not a flip of the coin. However, our selection need not
be as blind and uninformed as we imagine, for we do have a guideline to
help us. Since spiritual paths are generally presented in the framework
of a total teaching, we can evaluate the effectiveness of any particular
path by investigating the teaching which expounds it.

In making this investigation we can look to three criteria as standards for evaluation:

(1) First, the teaching has to give a full and accurate
picture of the range of suffering. If the picture of suffering it gives
is incomplete or defective, then the path it sets forth will most likely
be flawed, unable to yield a satisfactory solution. Just as an ailing
patient needs a doctor who can make a full and correct diagnosis of his
illness, so in seeking release from suffering we need a teaching that
presents a reliable account of our condition.

(2) The second criterion calls for a correct analysis of the
causes giving rise to suffering. The teaching cannot stop with a survey
of the outward symptoms. It has to penetrate beneath the symptoms to the
level of causes, and to describe those causes accurately. If a teaching
makes a faulty causal analysis, there is little likelihood that its
treatment will succeed.

(3) The third criterion pertains directly to the path itself.
It stipulates that the path which the teaching offers has to remove
suffering at its source. This means it must provide a method to cut off
suffering by eradicating its causes. If it fails to bring about this
root-level solution, its value is ultimately nil. The path it prescribes
might help to remove symptoms and make us feel that all is well; but
one afflicted with a fatal disease cannot afford to settle for cosmetic
surgery when below the surface the cause of his malady continues to
thrive.

To sum up, we find three requirements for a teaching proposing to
offer a true path to the end of suffering: first, it has to set forth a
full and accurate picture of the range of suffering; second, it must
present a correct analysis of the causes of suffering; and third, it
must give us the means to eradicate the causes of suffering.

This is not the place to evaluate the various spiritual disciplines
in terms of these criteria. Our concern is only with the Dhamma, the
teaching of the Buddha, and with the solution this teaching offers to
the problem of suffering. That the teaching should be relevant to this
problem is evident from its very nature; for it is formulated, not as a
set of doctrines about the origin and end of things commanding belief,
but as a message of deliverance from suffering claiming to be verifiable
in our own experience. Along with that message there comes a method of
practice, a way leading to the end of suffering. This way is the Noble
Eightfold Path (ariya atthangika magga). The Eightfold Path
stands at the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching. It was the discovery
of the path that gave the Buddha’s own enlightenment a universal
significance and elevated him from the status of a wise and benevolent
sage to that of a world teacher. To his own disciples he was
pre-eminently “the arouser of the path unarisen before, the producer of
the path not produced before, the declarer of the path not declared
before, the knower of the path, the seer of the path, the guide along
the path” (MN 108). And he himself invites the seeker with the promise
and challenge: “You yourselves must strive. The Buddhas are only
teachers. The meditative ones who practice the path are released from
the bonds of evil” (Dhp. v. 276).

To see the Noble Eightfold Path as a viable vehicle to liberation, we
have to check it out against our three criteria: to look at the
Buddha’s account of the range of suffering, his analysis of its causes,
and the programme he offers as a remedy.

The Range of Suffering

The Buddha does not merely touch the problem of suffering
tangentially; he makes it, rather, the very cornerstone of his teaching.
He starts the Four Noble Truths that sum up his message with the
announcement that life is inseparably tied to something he calls dukkha.
The Pali word is often translated as suffering, but it means something
deeper than pain and misery. It refers to a basic unsatisfactoriness
running through our lives, the lives of all but the enlightened.
Sometimes this unsatisfactoriness erupts into the open as sorrow, grief,
disappointment, or despair; but usually it hovers at the edge of our
awareness as a vague unlocalized sense that things are never quite
perfect, never fully adequate to our expectations of what they should
be. This fact of dukkha, the Buddha says, is the only real
spiritual problem. The other problems — the theological and metaphysical
questions that have taunted religious thinkers through the centuries —
he gently waves aside as “matters not tending to liberation.” What he
teaches, he says, is just suffering and the ending of suffering, dukkha and its cessation.

The Buddha does not stop with generalities. He goes on to expose the different forms that dukkha
takes, both the evident and the subtle. He starts with what is close at
hand, with the suffering inherent in the physical process of life
itself. Here dukkha shows up in the events of birth, aging, and
death, in our susceptibility to sickness, accidents, and injuries, even
in hunger and thirst. It appears again in our inner reactions to
disagreeable situations and events: in the sorrow, anger, frustration,
and fear aroused by painful separations, by unpleasant encounters, by
the failure to get what we want. Even our pleasures, the Buddha says,
are not immune from dukkha. They give us happiness while they
last, but they do not last forever; eventually they must pass away, and
when they go the loss leaves us feeling deprived. Our lives, for the
most part, are strung out between the thirst for pleasure and the fear
of pain. We pass our days running after the one and running away from
the other, seldom enjoying the peace of contentment; real satisfaction
seems somehow always out of reach, just beyond the next horizon. Then in
the end we have to die: to give up the identity we spent our whole life
building, to leave behind everything and everyone we love.

But even death, the Buddha teaches, does not bring us to the end of dukkha,
for the life process does not stop with death. When life ends in one
place, with one body, the “mental continuum,” the individual stream of
consciousness, springs up again elsewhere with a new body as its
physical support. Thus the cycle goes on over and over — birth, aging,
and death — driven by the thirst for more existence. The Buddha declares
that this round of rebirths — called samsara, “the wandering” —
has been turning through beginningless time. It is without a first
point, without temporal origin. No matter how far back in time we go we
always find living beings — ourselves in previous lives — wandering from
one state of existence to another. The Buddha describes various realms
where rebirth can take place: realms of torment, the animal realm, the
human realm, realms of celestial bliss. But none of these realms can
offer a final refuge. Life in any plane must come to an end. It is
impermanent and thus marked with that insecurity which is the deepest
meaning of dukkha. For this reason one aspiring to the complete end of dukkha cannot rest content with any mundane achievement, with any status, but must win emancipation from the entire unstable whirl.

The Causes of Suffering

A teaching proposing to lead to the end of suffering must, as we
said, give a reliable account of its causal origination. For if we want
to put a stop to suffering, we have to stop it where it begins, with its
causes. To stop the causes requires a thorough knowledge of what they
are and how they work; thus the Buddha devotes a sizeable section of his
teaching to laying bare “the truth of the origin of dukkha.” The
origin he locates within ourselves, in a fundamental malady that
permeates our being, causing disorder in our own minds and vitiating our
relationships with others and with the world. The sign of this malady
can be seen in our proclivity to certain unwholesome mental states
called in Pali kilesas, usually translated “defilements.” The most basic defilements are the triad of greed, aversion, and delusion. Greed (lobha)
is self-centered desire: the desire for pleasure and possessions, the
drive for survival, the urge to bolster the sense of ego with power,
status, and prestige. Aversion (dosa) signifies the response of
negation, expressed as rejection, irritation, condemnation, hatred,
enmity, anger, and violence. Delusion (moha) means mental darkness: the thick coat of insensitivity which blocks out clear understanding.

From these three roots emerge the various other defilements —
conceit, jealousy, ambition, lethargy, arrogance, and the rest — and
from all these defilements together, the roots and the branches, comes dukkha
in its diverse forms: as pain and sorrow, as fear and discontent, as
the aimless drifting through the round of birth and death. To gain
freedom from suffering, therefore, we have to eliminate the defilements.
But the work of removing the defilements has to proceed in a methodical
way. It cannot be accomplished simply by an act of will, by wanting
them to go away. The work must be guided by investigation. We have to
find out what the defilements depend upon and then see how it lies
within our power to remove their support.

The Buddha teaches that there is one defilement which gives rise to
all the others, one root which holds them all in place. This root is
ignorance (avijja).1
Ignorance is not mere absence of knowledge, a lack of knowing
particular pieces of information. Ignorance can co-exist with a vast
accumulation of itemized knowledge, and in its own way it can be
tremendously shrewd and resourceful. As the basic root of dukkha,
ignorance is a fundamental darkness shrouding the mind. Sometimes this
ignorance operates in a passive manner, merely obscuring correct
understanding. At other times it takes on an active role: it becomes the
great deceiver, conjuring up a mass of distorted perceptions and
conceptions which the mind grasps as attributes of the world, unaware
that they are its own deluded constructs.

In these erroneous perceptions and ideas we find the soil that
nurtures the defilements. The mind catches sight of some possibility of
pleasure, accepts it at face value, and the result is greed. Our hunger
for gratification is thwarted, obstacles appear, and up spring anger and
aversion. Or we struggle over ambiguities, our sight clouds, and we
become lost in delusion. With this we discover the breeding ground of dukkha:
ignorance issuing in the defilements, the defilements issuing in
suffering. As long as this causal matrix stands we are not yet beyond
danger. We might still find pleasure and enjoyment — sense pleasures,
social pleasures, pleasures of the mind and heart. But no matter how
much pleasure we might experience, no matter how successful we might be
at dodging pain, the basic problem remains at the core of our being and
we continue to move within the bounds of dukkha.

Cutting Off the Causes of Suffering

To free ourselves from suffering fully and finally we have to
eliminate it by the root, and that means to eliminate ignorance. But how
does one go about eliminating ignorance? The answer follows clearly
from the nature of the adversary. Since ignorance is a state of not
knowing things as they really are, what is needed is knowledge of things
as they really are. Not merely conceptual knowledge, knowledge as idea,
but perceptual knowledge, a knowing which is also a seeing. This kind
of knowing is called wisdom (pañña). Wisdom helps to correct the
distorting work of ignorance. It enables us to grasp things as they are
in actuality, directly and immediately, free from the screen of ideas,
views, and assumptions our minds ordinarily set up between themselves
and the real.

To eliminate ignorance we need wisdom, but how is wisdom to be
acquired? As indubitable knowledge of the ultimate nature of things,
wisdom cannot be gained by mere learning, by gathering and accumulating a
battery of facts. However, the Buddha says, wisdom can be cultivated.
It comes into being through a set of conditions, conditions which we
have the power to develop. These conditions are actually mental factors,
components of consciousness, which fit together into a systematic
structure that can be called a path in the word’s essential meaning: a
courseway for movement leading to a goal. The goal here is the end of
suffering, and the path leading to it is the Noble Eightfold Path with
its eight factors: right view, right intention, right speech, right
action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right
concentration.

The Buddha calls this path the middle way (majjhima patipada).
It is the middle way because it steers clear of two extremes, two
misguided attempts to gain release from suffering. One is the extreme of
indulgence in sense pleasures, the attempt to extinguish
dissatisfaction by gratifying desire. This approach gives pleasure, but
the enjoyment won is gross, transitory, and devoid of deep contentment.
The Buddha recognized that sensual desire can exercise a tight grip over
the minds of human beings, and he was keenly aware of how ardently
attached people become to the pleasures of the senses. But he also knew
that this pleasure is far inferior to the happiness that arises from
renunciation, and therefore he repeatedly taught that the way to the
Ultimate eventually requires the relinquishment of sensual desire. Thus
the Buddha describes the indulgence in sense pleasures as “low, common,
worldly, ignoble, not leading to the goal.”

The other extreme is the practice of self-mortification, the attempt
to gain liberation by afflicting the body. This approach may stem from a
genuine aspiration for deliverance, but it works within the compass of a
wrong assumption that renders the energy expended barren of results.
The error is taking the body to be the cause of bondage, when the real
source of trouble lies in the mind — the mind obsessed by greed,
aversion, and delusion. To rid the mind of these defilements the
affliction of the body is not only useless but self-defeating, for it is
the impairment of a necessary instrument. Thus the Buddha describes
this second extreme as “painful, ignoble, not leading to the goal.”2

Aloof from these two extreme approaches is the Noble Eightfold Path,
called the middle way, not in the sense that it effects a compromise
between the extremes, but in the sense that it transcends them both by
avoiding the errors that each involves. The path avoids the extreme of
sense indulgence by its recognition of the futility of desire and its
stress on renunciation. Desire and sensuality, far from being means to
happiness, are springs of suffering to be abandoned as the requisite of
deliverance. But the practice of renunciation does not entail the
tormenting of the body. It consists in mental training, and for this the
body must be fit, a sturdy support for the inward work. Thus the body
is to be looked after well, kept in good health, while the mental
faculties are trained to generate the liberating wisdom. That is the
middle way, the Noble Eightfold Path, which “gives rise to vision, gives
rise to knowledge, and leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to
enlightenment, to Nibbana.”3



Chapter II [go up]
Right View
(Samma Ditthi)

The eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path are not steps to be
followed in sequence, one after another. They can be more aptly
described as components rather than as steps, comparable to the
intertwining strands of a single cable that requires the contributions
of all the strands for maximum strength. With a certain degree of
progress all eight factors can be present simultaneously, each
supporting the others. However, until that point is reached, some
sequence in the unfolding of the path is inevitable. Considered from the
standpoint of practical training, the eight path factors divide into
three groups: (i) the moral discipline group (silakkhandha), made up of right speech, right action, and right livelihood; (ii) the concentration group (samadhikkhandha), made up of right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration; and (iii) the wisdom group (paññakkhandha),
made up of right view and right intention. These three groups represent
three stages of training: the training in the higher moral discipline,
the training in the higher consciousness, and the training in the higher
wisdom.4

The order of the three trainings is determined by the overall aim and
direction of the path. Since the final goal to which the path leads,
liberation from suffering, depends ultimately on uprooting ignorance,
the climax of the path must be the training directly opposed to
ignorance. This is the training in wisdom, designed to awaken the
faculty of penetrative understanding which sees things “as they really
are.” Wisdom unfolds by degrees, but even the faintest flashes of
insight presuppose as their basis a mind that has been concentrated,
cleared of disturbance and distraction. Concentration is achieved
through the training in the higher consciousness, the second division of
the path, which brings the calm and collectedness needed to develop
wisdom. But in order for the mind to be unified in concentration, a
check must be placed on the unwholesome dispositions which ordinarily
dominate its workings, since these dispositions disperse the beam of
attention and scatter it among a multitude of concerns. The unwholesome
dispositions continue to rule as long as they are permitted to gain
expression through the channels of body and speech as bodily and verbal
deeds. Therefore, at the very outset of training, it is necessary to
restrain the faculties of action, to prevent them from becoming tools of
the defilements. This task is accomplished by the first division of the
path, the training in moral discipline. Thus the path evolves through
its three stages, with moral discipline as the foundation for
concentration, concentration the foundation for wisdom, and wisdom the
direct instrument for reaching liberation.

Perplexity sometimes arises over an apparent inconsistency in the
arrangement of the path factors and the threefold training. Wisdom —
which includes right view and right intention — is the last stage in the
threefold training, yet its factors are placed at the beginning of the
path rather than at its end, as might be expected according to the canon
of strict consistency. The sequence of the path factors, however, is
not the result of a careless slip, but is determined by an important
logistical consideration, namely, that right view and right intention of
a preliminary type are called for at the outset as the spur for
entering the threefold training. Right view provides the perspective for
practice, right intention the sense of direction. But the two do not
expire in this preparatory role. For when the mind has been refined by
the training in moral discipline and concentration, it arrives at a
superior right view and right intention, which now form the proper
training in the higher wisdom.

Right view is the forerunner of the entire path, the guide for all
the other factors. It enables us to understand our starting point, our
destination, and the successive landmarks to pass as practice advances.
To attempt to engage in the practice without a foundation of right view
is to risk getting lost in the futility of undirected movement. Doing so
might be compared to wanting to drive someplace without consulting a
roadmap or listening to the suggestions of an experienced driver. One
might get into the car and start to drive, but rather than approaching
closer to one’s destination, one is more likely to move farther away
from it. To arrive at the desired place one has to have some idea of its
general direction and of the roads leading to it. Analogous
considerations apply to the practice of the path, which takes place in a
framework of understanding established by right view.

The importance of right view can be gauged from the fact that our
perspectives on the crucial issues of reality and value have a bearing
that goes beyond mere theoretical convictions. They govern our
attitudes, our actions, our whole orientation to existence. Our views
might not be clearly formulated in our mind; we might have only a hazy
conceptual grasp of our beliefs. But whether formulated or not,
expressed or maintained in silence, these views have a far-reaching
influence. They structure our perceptions, order our values, crystallize
into the ideational framework through which we interpret to ourselves
the meaning of our being in the world.

These views then condition action. They lie behind our choices and
goals, and our efforts to turn these goals from ideals into actuality.
The actions themselves might determine consequences, but the actions
along with their consequences hinge on the views from which they spring.
Since views imply an “ontological commitment,” a decision on the
question of what is real and true, it follows that views divide into two
classes, right views and wrong views. The former correspond to what is
real, the latter deviate from the real and confirm the false in its
place. These two different kinds of views, the Buddha teaches, lead to
radically disparate lines of action, and thence to opposite results. If
we hold a wrong view, even if that view is vague, it will lead us
towards courses of action that eventuate in suffering. On the other
hand, if we adopt a right view, that view will steer us towards right
action, and thereby towards freedom from suffering. Though our
conceptual orientation towards the world might seem innocuous and
inconsequential, when looked at closely it reveals itself to be the
decisive determinant of our whole course of future development. The
Buddha himself says that he sees no single factor so responsible for the
arising of unwholesome states of mind as wrong view, and no factor so
helpful for the arising of wholesome states of mind as right view.
Again, he says that there is no single factor so responsible for the
suffering of living beings as wrong view, and no factor so potent in
promoting the good of living beings as right view (AN 1:16.2).

In its fullest measure right view involves a correct understanding of
the entire Dhamma or teaching of the Buddha, and thus its scope is
equal to the range of the Dhamma itself. But for practical purposes two
kinds of right view stand out as primary. One is mundane right view,
right view which operates within the confines of the world. The other is
supramundane right view, the superior right view which leads to
liberation from the world. The first is concerned with the laws
governing material and spiritual progress within the round of becoming,
with the principles that lead to higher and lower states of existence,
to mundane happiness and suffering. The second is concerned with the
principles essential to liberation. It does not aim merely at spiritual
progress from life to life, but at emancipation from the cycle of
recurring lives and deaths.

Mundane Right View

Mundane right view involves a correct grasp of the law of kamma, the
moral efficacy of action. Its literal name is “right view of the
ownership of action” (kammassakata sammaditthi), and it finds its
standard formulation in the statement: “Beings are the owners of their
actions, the heirs of their actions; they spring from their actions, are
bound to their actions, and are supported by their actions. Whatever
deeds they do, good or bad, of those they shall be heirs.”5
More specific formulations have also come down in the texts. One stock
passage, for example, affirms that virtuous actions such as giving and
offering alms have moral significance, that good and bad deeds produce
corresponding fruits, that one has a duty to serve mother and father,
that there is rebirth and a world beyond the visible one, and that
religious teachers of high attainment can be found who expound the truth
about the world on the basis of their own superior realization.6

To understand the implications of this form of right view we first have to examine the meaning of its key term, kamma. The word kamma
means action. For Buddhism the relevant kind of action is volitional
action, deeds expressive of morally determinate volition, since it is
volition that gives the action ethical significance. Thus the Buddha
expressly identifies action with volition. In a discourse on the
analysis of kamma he says: “Monks, it is volition that I call action (kamma). Having willed, one performs an action through body, speech, or mind.”7
The identification of kamma with volition makes kamma essentially a
mental event, a factor originating in the mind which seeks to actualize
the mind’s drives, dispositions, and purposes. Volition comes into being
through any of three channels — body, speech, or mind — called the
three doors of action (kammadvara). A volition expressed through
the body is a bodily action; a volition expressed through speech is a
verbal action; and a volition that issues in thoughts, plans, ideas, and
other mental states without gaining outer expression is a mental
action. Thus the one factor of volition differentiates into three types
of kamma according to the channel through which it becomes manifest.

Right view requires more than a simple knowledge of the general
meaning of kamma. It is also necessary to understand: (i) the ethical
distinction of kamma into the unwholesome and the wholesome; (ii) the
principal cases of each type; and (iii) the roots from which these
actions spring. As expressed in a sutta: “When a noble disciple
understands what is kammically unwholesome, and the root of unwholesome
kamma, what is kammically wholesome, and the root of wholesome kamma,
then he has right view.”8

(i) Taking these points in order, we find that kamma is first distinguished as unwholesome (akusala) and wholesome (kusala).
Unwholesome kamma is action that is morally blameworthy, detrimental to
spiritual development, and conducive to suffering for oneself and
others. Wholesome kamma, on the other hand, is action that is morally
commendable, helpful to spiritual growth, and productive of benefits for
oneself and others.

(ii) Innumerable instances of unwholesome and wholesome kamma can be
cited, but the Buddha selects ten of each as primary. These he calls the
ten courses of unwholesome and wholesome action. Among the ten in the
two sets, three are bodily, four are verbal, and three are mental. The
ten courses of unwholesome kamma may be listed as follows, divided by
way of their doors of expression:

  1. Destroying life
  2. Taking what is not given
  3. Wrong conduct in regard to sense pleasures
Verbal action:

  1. False speech
  2. Slanderous speech
  3. Harsh speech (vacikamma)
  4. Idle chatter
  5. Covetousness
  6. Ill will
  7. Wrong view

The ten courses of wholesome kamma are the opposites of these:
abstaining from the first seven courses of unwholesome kamma, being free
from covetousness and ill will, and holding right view. Though the
seven cases of abstinence are exercised entirely by the mind and do not
necessarily entail overt action, they are still designated wholesome
bodily and verbal action because they center on the control of the
faculties of body and speech.

(iii) Actions are distinguished as wholesome and unwholesome on the basis of their underlying motives, called “roots” (mula),
which impart their moral quality to the volitions concomitant with
themselves. Thus kamma is wholesome or unwholesome according to whether
its roots are wholesome or unwholesome. The roots are threefold for each
set. The unwholesome roots are the three defilements we already
mentioned — greed, aversion, and delusion. Any action originating from
these is an unwholesome kamma. The three wholesome roots are their
opposites, expressed negatively in the old Indian fashion as non-greed (alobha), non-aversion (adosa), and non-delusion (amoha).
Though these are negatively designated, they signify not merely the
absence of defilements but the corresponding virtues. Non-greed implies
renunciation, detachment, and generosity; non-aversion implies
loving-kindness, sympathy, and gentleness; and non-delusion implies
wisdom. Any action originating from these roots is a wholesome kamma.

The most important feature of kamma is its capacity to produce
results corresponding to the ethical quality of the action. An immanent
universal law holds sway over volitional actions, bringing it about that
these actions issue in retributive consequences, called vipaka, “ripenings,” or phala,
“fruits.” The law connecting actions with their fruits works on the
simple principle that unwholesome actions ripen in suffering, wholesome
actions in happiness. The ripening need not come right away; it need not
come in the present life at all. Kamma can operate across the
succession of lifetimes; it can even remain dormant for aeons into the
future. But whenever we perform a volitional action, the volition leaves
its imprint on the mental continuum, where it remains as a stored up
potency. When the stored up kamma meets with conditions favorable to its
maturation, it awakens from its dormant state and triggers off some
effect that brings due compensation for the original action. The
ripening may take place in the present life, in the next life, or in
some life subsequent to the next. A kamma may ripen by producing rebirth
into the next existence, thus determining the basic form of life; or it
may ripen in the course of a lifetime, issuing in our varied
experiences of happiness and pain, success and failure, progress and
decline. But whenever it ripens and in whatever way, the same principle
invariably holds: wholesome actions yield favorable results, unwholesome
actions yield unfavorable results.

To recognize this principle is to hold right view of the mundane
kind. This view at once excludes the multiple forms of wrong view with
which it is incompatible. As it affirms that our actions have an
influence on our destiny continuing into future lives, it opposes the
nihilistic view which regards this life as our only existence and holds
that consciousness terminates with death. As it grounds the distinction
between good and evil, right and wrong, in an objective universal
principle, it opposes the ethical subjectivism which asserts that good
and evil are only postulations of personal opinion or means to social
control. As it affirms that people can choose their actions freely,
within limits set by their conditions, it opposes the “hard
deterministic” line that our choices are always made subject to
necessitation, and hence that free volition is unreal and moral
responsibility untenable.

Some of the implications of the Buddha’s teaching on the right view
of kamma and its fruits run counter to popular trends in present-day
thought, and it is helpful to make these differences explicit. The
teaching on right view makes it known that good and bad, right and
wrong, transcend conventional opinions about what is good and bad, what
is right and wrong. An entire society may be predicated upon a confusion
of correct moral values, and even though everyone within that society
may applaud one particular kind of action as right and condemn another
kind as wrong, this does not make them validly right and wrong. For the
Buddha moral standards are objective and invariable. While the moral
character of deeds is doubtlessly conditioned by the circumstances under
which they are performed, there are objective criteria of morality
against which any action, or any comprehensive moral code, can be
evaluated. This objective standard of morality is integral to the
Dhamma, the cosmic law of truth and righteousness. Its transpersonal
ground of validation is the fact that deeds, as expressions of the
volitions that engender them, produce consequences for the agent, and
that the correlations between deeds and their consequences are intrinsic
to the volitions themselves. There is no divine judge standing above
the cosmic process who assigns rewards and punishments. Nevertheless,
the deeds themselves, through their inherent moral or immoral nature,
generate the appropriate results.

For most people, the vast majority, the right view of kamma and its
results is held out of confidence, accepted on faith from an eminent
spiritual teacher who proclaims the moral efficacy of action. But even
when the principle of kamma is not personally seen, it still remains a
facet of right view. It is part and parcel of right view because
right view is concerned with understanding — with understanding our
place in the total scheme of things — and one who accepts the principle
that our volitional actions possess a moral potency has, to that extent,
grasped an important fact pertaining to the nature of our existence.
However, the right view of the kammic efficacy of action need not remain
exclusively an article of belief screened behind an impenetrable
barrier. It can become a matter of direct seeing. Through the attainment
of certain states of deep concentration it is possible to develop a
special faculty called the “divine eye” (dibbacakkhu), a
super-sensory power of vision that reveals things hidden from the eyes
of flesh. When this faculty is developed, it can be directed out upon
the world of living beings to investigate the workings of the kammic
law. With the special vision it confers one can then see for oneself,
with immediate perception, how beings pass away and re-arise according
to their kamma, how they meet happiness and suffering through the
maturation of their good and evil deeds.9

Superior Right View

The right view of kamma and its fruits provides a rationale for
engaging in wholesome actions and attaining high status within the round
of rebirths, but by itself it does not lead to liberation. It is
possible for someone to accept the law of kamma yet still limit his aims
to mundane achievements. One’s motive for performing noble deeds might
be the accumulation of meritorious kamma leading to prosperity and
success here and now, a fortunate rebirth as a human being, or the
enjoyment of celestial bliss in the heavenly worlds. There is nothing
within the logic of kammic causality to impel the urge to transcend the
cycle of kamma and its fruit. The impulse to deliverance from the entire
round of becoming depends upon the acquisition of a different and
deeper perspective, one which yields insight into the inherent
defectiveness of all forms of samsaric existence, even the most exalted.

This superior right view leading to liberation is the understanding
of the Four Noble Truths. It is this right view that figures as the
first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path in the proper sense: as the noble
right view. Thus the Buddha defines the path factor of right view
expressly in terms of the four truths: “What now is right view? It is
understanding of suffering (dukkha), understanding of the origin
of suffering, understanding of the cessation of suffering, understanding
of the way leading to the cessation to suffering.”10
The Eightfold Path starts with a conceptual understanding of the Four
Noble Truths apprehended only obscurely through the media of thought and
reflection. It reaches its climax in a direct intuition of those same
truths, penetrated with a clarity tantamount to enlightenment. Thus it
can be said that the right view of the Four Noble Truths forms both the
beginning and the culmination of the way to the end of suffering.

The first noble truth is the truth of suffering (dukkha), the
inherent unsatisfactoriness of existence, revealed in the impermanence,
pain, and perpetual incompleteness intrinsic to all forms of life.

This is the noble truth of suffering. Birth is suffering; aging is
suffering; sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow,
lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; association with
the unpleasant is suffering; separation from the pleasant is suffering;
not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates of
clinging are suffering.11

The last statement makes a comprehensive claim that calls for some attention. The five aggregates of clinging (pañcupadanakkandha)
are a classificatory scheme for understanding the nature of our being.
What we are, the Buddha teaches, is a set of five aggregates — material
form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness — all
connected with clinging. We are the five and the five are us. Whatever
we identify with, whatever we hold to as our self, falls within the set
of five aggregates. Together these five aggregates generate the whole
array of thoughts, emotions, ideas, and dispositions in which we dwell,
“our world.” Thus the Buddha’s declaration that the five aggregates are dukkha in effect brings all experience, our entire existence, into the range of dukkha.

But here the question arises: Why should the Buddha say that the five aggregates are dukkha? The reason he says that the five aggregates are dukkha
is that they are impermanent. They change from moment to moment, arise
and fall away, without anything substantial behind them persisting
through the change. Since the constituent factors of our being are
always changing, utterly devoid of a permanent core, there is nothing we
can cling to in them as a basis for security. There is only a
constantly disintegrating flux which, when clung to in the desire for
permanence, brings a plunge into suffering.

The second noble truth points out the cause of dukkha. From the set of defilements which eventuate in suffering, the Buddha singles out craving (tanha) as the dominant and most pervasive cause, “the origin of suffering.”

This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering. It is this
craving which produces repeated existence, is bound up with delight and
lust, and seeks pleasure here and there, namely, craving for sense
pleasures, craving for existence, and craving for non-existence.12

The third noble truth simply reverses this relationship of origination. If craving is the cause of dukkha, then to be free from dukkha we have to eliminate craving. Thus the Buddha says:

This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering. It is the
complete fading away and cessation of this craving, its forsaking and
abandonment, liberation and detachment from it.13

The state of perfect peace that comes when craving is eliminated is Nibbana (nirvana),
the unconditioned state experienced while alive with the extinguishing
of the flames of greed, aversion, and delusion. The fourth noble truth
shows the way to reach the end of dukkha, the way to the realization of Nibbana. That way is the Noble Eightfold Path itself.

The right view of the Four Noble Truths develops in two stages. The first is called the right view that accords with the truths (saccanulomika samma ditthi); the second, the right view that penetrates the truths (saccapativedha samma ditthi).
To acquire the right view that accords with the truths requires a clear
understanding of their meaning and significance in our lives. Such an
understanding arises first by learning the truths and studying them.
Subsequently it is deepened by reflecting upon them in the light of
experience until one gains a strong conviction as to their veracity.

But even at this point the truths have not been penetrated, and thus
the understanding achieved is still defective, a matter of concept
rather than perception. To arrive at the experiential realization of the
truths it is necessary to take up the practice of meditation — first to
strengthen the capacity for sustained concentration, then to develop
insight. Insight arises by contemplating the five aggregates, the
factors of existence, in order to discern their real characteristics. At
the climax of such contemplation the mental eye turns away from the
conditioned phenomena comprised in the aggregates and shifts its focus
to the unconditioned state, Nibbana, which becomes accessible through
the deepened faculty of insight. With this shift, when the mind’s eye
sees Nibbana, there takes place a simultaneous penetration of all Four
Noble Truths. By seeing Nibbana, the state beyond dukkha, one gains a perspective from which to view the five aggregates and see that they are dukkha
simply because they are conditioned, subject to ceaseless change. At
the same moment Nibbana is realized, craving stops; the understanding
then dawns that craving is the true origin of dukkha. When
Nibbana is seen, it is realized to be the state of peace, free from the
turmoil of becoming. And because this experience has been reached by
practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, one knows for oneself that the
Noble Eightfold Path is truly the way to the end of dukkha.

This right view that penetrates the Four Noble Truths comes at the
end of the path, not at the beginning. We have to start with the right
view conforming to the truths, acquired through learning and fortified
through reflection. This view inspires us to take up the practice, to
embark on the threefold training in moral discipline, concentration, and
wisdom. When the training matures, the eye of wisdom opens by itself,
penetrating the truths and freeing the mind from bondage.



Chapter III [go up]
Right Intention
(Samma Sankappa)

The second factor of the path is called in Pali samma sankappa,
which we will translate as “right intention.” The term is sometimes
translated as “right thought,” a rendering that can be accepted if we
add the proviso that in the present context the word “thought” refers
specifically to the purposive or conative aspect of mental activity, the
cognitive aspect being covered by the first factor, right view. It
would be artificial, however, to insist too strongly on the division
between these two functions. From the Buddhist perspective, the
cognitive and purposive sides of the mind do not remain isolated in
separate compartments but intertwine and interact in close correlation.
Emotional predilections influence views, and views determine
predilections. Thus a penetrating view of the nature of existence,
gained through deep reflection and validated through investigation,
brings with it a restructuring of values which sets the mind moving
towards goals commensurate with the new vision. The application of mind
needed to achieve those goals is what is meant by right intention.

The Buddha explains right intention as threefold: the intention of
renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of
harmlessness.14
The three are opposed to three parallel kinds of wrong intention:
intention governed by desire, intention governed by ill will, and
intention governed by harmfulness.15
Each kind of right intention counters the corresponding kind of wrong
intention. The intention of renunciation counters the intention of
desire, the intention of good will counters the intention of ill will,
and the intention of harmlessness counters the intention of harmfulness.

The Buddha discovered this twofold division of thought in the period
prior to his Enlightenment (see MN 19). While he was striving for
deliverance, meditating in the forest, he found that his thoughts could
be distributed into two different classes. In one he put thoughts of
desire, ill will, and harmfulness, in the other thoughts of
renunciation, good will, and harmlessness. Whenever he noticed thoughts
of the first kind arise in him, he understood that those thoughts lead
to harm for oneself and others, obstruct wisdom, and lead away from
Nibbana. Reflecting in this way he expelled such thoughts from his mind
and brought them to an end. But whenever thoughts of the second kind
arose, he understood those thoughts to be beneficial, conducive to the
growth of wisdom, aids to the attainment of Nibbana. Thus he
strengthened those thoughts and brought them to completion.

Right intention claims the second place in the path, between right
view and the triad of moral factors that begins with right speech,
because the mind’s intentional function forms the crucial link
connecting our cognitive perspective with our modes of active engagement
in the world. On the one side actions always point back to the thoughts
from which they spring. Thought is the forerunner of action, directing
body and speech, stirring them into activity, using them as its
instruments for expressing its aims and ideals. These aims and ideals,
our intentions, in turn point back a further step to the prevailing
views. When wrong views prevail, the outcome is wrong intention giving
rise to unwholesome actions. Thus one who denies the moral efficacy of
action and measures achievement in terms of gain and status will aspire
to nothing but gain and status, using whatever means he can to acquire
them. When such pursuits become widespread, the result is suffering, the
tremendous suffering of individuals, social groups, and nations out to
gain wealth, position, and power without regard for consequences. The
cause for the endless competition, conflict, injustice, and oppression
does not lie outside the mind. These are all just manifestations of
intentions, outcroppings of thoughts driven by greed, by hatred, by
delusion.

But when the intentions are right, the actions will be right, and for
the intentions to be right the surest guarantee is right views. One who
recognizes the law of kamma, that actions bring retributive
consequences, will frame his pursuits to accord with this law; thus his
actions, expressive of his intentions, will conform to the canons of
right conduct. The Buddha succinctly sums up the matter when he says
that for a person who holds a wrong view, his deeds, words, plans, and
purposes grounded in that view will lead to suffering, while for a
person who holds right view, his deeds, words, plans, and purposes
grounded in that view will lead to happiness.16

Since the most important formulation of right view is the
understanding of the Four Noble Truths, it follows that this view should
be in some way determinative of the content of right intention. This we
find to be in fact the case. Understanding the four truths in relation
to one’s own life gives rise to the intention of renunciation;
understanding them in relation to other beings gives rise to the other
two right intentions. When we see how our own lives are pervaded by dukkha, and how this dukkha
derives from craving, the mind inclines to renunciation — to abandoning
craving and the objects to which it binds us. Then, when we apply the
truths in an analogous way to other living beings, the contemplation
nurtures the growth of good will and harmlessness. We see that, like
ourselves, all other living beings want to be happy, and again that like
ourselves they are subject to suffering. The consideration that all
beings seek happiness causes thoughts of good will to arise — the loving
wish that they be well, happy, and peaceful. The consideration that
beings are exposed to suffering causes thoughts of harmlessness to arise
— the compassionate wish that they be free from suffering.

The moment the cultivation of the Noble Eightfold Path begins, the
factors of right view and right intention together start to counteract
the three unwholesome roots. Delusion, the primary cognitive defilement,
is opposed by right view, the nascent seed of wisdom. The complete
eradication of delusion will only take place when right view is
developed to the stage of full realization, but every flickering of
correct understanding contributes to its eventual destruction. The other
two roots, being emotive defilements, require opposition through the
redirecting of intention, and thus meet their antidotes in thoughts of
renunciation, good will, and harmlessness.

Since greed and aversion are deeply grounded, they do not yield
easily; however, the work of overcoming them is not impossible if an
effective strategy is employed. The path devised by the Buddha makes use
of an indirect approach: it proceeds by tackling the thoughts to which
these defilements give rise. Greed and aversion surface in the form of
thoughts, and thus can be eroded by a process of “thought substitution,”
by replacing them with the thoughts opposed to them. The intention of
renunciation provides the remedy to greed. Greed comes to manifestation
in thoughts of desire — as sensual, acquisitive, and possessive
thoughts. Thoughts of renunciation spring from the wholesome root of
non-greed, which they activate whenever they are cultivated. Since
contrary thoughts cannot coexist, when thoughts of renunciation are
roused, they dislodge thoughts of desire, thus causing non-greed to
replace greed. Similarly, the intentions of good will and harmlessness
offer the antidote to aversion. Aversion comes to manifestation either
in thoughts of ill will — as angry, hostile, or resentful thoughts; or
in thoughts of harming — as the impulses to cruelty, aggression, and
destruction. Thoughts of good will counter the former outflow of
aversion, thoughts of harmlessness the latter outflow, in this way
excising the unwholesome root of aversion itself.

The Intention of Renunciation

The Buddha describes his teaching as running contrary to the way of
the world. The way of the world is the way of desire, and the
unenlightened who follow this way flow with the current of desire,
seeking happiness by pursuing the objects in which they imagine they
will find fulfillment. The Buddha’s message of renunciation states
exactly the opposite: the pull of desire is to be resisted and
eventually abandoned. Desire is to be abandoned not because it is
morally evil but because it is a root of suffering.17
Thus renunciation, turning away from craving and its drive for
gratification, becomes the key to happiness, to freedom from the hold of
attachment.

The Buddha does not demand that everyone leave the household life for
the monastery or ask his followers to discard all sense enjoyments on
the spot. The degree to which a person renounces depends on his or her
disposition and situation. But what remains as a guiding principle is
this: that the attainment of deliverance requires the complete
eradication of craving, and progress along the path is accelerated to
the extent that one overcomes craving. Breaking free from domination by
desire may not be easy, but the difficulty does not abrogate the
necessity. Since craving is the origin of dukkha, putting an end to
dukkha depends on eliminating craving, and that involves directing the
mind to renunciation.

But it is just at this point, when one tries to let go of attachment,
that one encounters a powerful inner resistance. The mind does not want
to relinquish its hold on the objects to which it has become attached.
For such a long time it has been accustomed to gaining, grasping, and
holding, that it seems impossible to break these habits by an act of
will. One might agree to the need for renunciation, might want to leave
attachment behind, but when the call is actually sounded the mind
recoils and continues to move in the grip of its desires.

So the problem arises of how to break the shackles of desire. The
Buddha does not offer as a solution the method of repression — the
attempt to drive desire away with a mind full of fear and loathing. This
approach does not resolve the problem but only pushes it below the
surface, where it continues to thrive. The tool the Buddha holds out to
free the mind from desire is understanding. Real renunciation is not a
matter of compelling ourselves to give up things still inwardly
cherished, but of changing our perspective on them so that they no
longer bind us. When we understand the nature of desire, when we
investigate it closely with keen attention, desire falls away by itself,
without need for struggle.

To understand desire in such a way that we can loosen its hold, we need to see that desire is invariably bound up with dukkha.
The whole phenomenon of desire, with its cycle of wanting and
gratification, hangs on our way of seeing things. We remain in bondage
to desire because we see it as our means to happiness. If we can look at
desire from a different angle, its force will be abated, resulting in
the move towards renunciation. What is needed to alter perception is
something called “wise consideration” (yoniso manasikara). Just
as perception influences thought, so thought can influence perception.
Our usual perceptions are tinged with “unwise consideration” (ayoniso manasikara).
We ordinarily look only at the surfaces of things, scan them in terms
of our immediate interests and wants; only rarely do we dig into the
roots of our involvements or explore their long-range consequences. To
set this straight calls for wise consideration: looking into the hidden
undertones to our actions, exploring their results, evaluating the
worthiness of our goals. In this investigation our concern must not be
with what is pleasant but with what is true. We have to be prepared and
willing to discover what is true even at the cost of our comfort. For
real security always lies on the side of truth, not on the side of
comfort.

When desire is scrutinized closely, we find that it is constantly shadowed by dukkha. Sometimes dukkha appears as pain or irritation; often it lies low as a constant strain of discontent. But the two — desire and dukkha
— are inseparable concomitants. We can confirm this for ourselves by
considering the whole cycle of desire. At the moment desire springs up
it creates in us a sense of lack, the pain of want. To end this pain we
struggle to fulfill the desire. If our effort fails, we experience
frustration, disappointment, sometimes despair. But even the pleasure of
success is not unqualified. We worry that we might lose the ground we
have gained. We feel driven to secure our position, to safeguard our
territory, to gain more, to rise higher, to establish tighter controls.
The demands of desire seem endless, and each desire demands the eternal:
it wants the things we get to last forever. But all the objects of
desire are impermanent. Whether it be wealth, power, position, or other
persons, separation is inevitable, and the pain that accompanies
separation is proportional to the force of attachment: strong attachment
brings much suffering; little attachment brings little suffering; no
attachment brings no suffering.18

Contemplating the dukkha inherent in desire is one way to
incline the mind to renunciation. Another way is to contemplate directly
the benefits flowing from renunciation. To move from desire to
renunciation is not, as might be imagined, to move from happiness to
grief, from abundance to destitution. It is to pass from gross,
entangling pleasures to an exalted happiness and peace, from a condition
of servitude to one of self-mastery. Desire ultimately breeds fear and
sorrow, but renunciation gives fearlessness and joy. It promotes the
accomplishment of all three stages of the threefold training: it
purifies conduct, aids concentration, and nourishes the seed of wisdom.
The entire course of practice from start to finish can in fact be seen
as an evolving process of renunciation culminating in Nibbana as the
ultimate stage of relinquishment, “the relinquishing of all foundations
of existence” (sabb’upadhipatinissagga).

When we methodically contemplate the dangers of desire and the
benefits of renunciation, gradually we steer our mind away from the
domination of desire. Attachments are shed like the leaves of a tree,
naturally and spontaneously. The changes do not come suddenly, but when
there is persistent practice, there is no doubt that they will come.
Through repeated contemplation one thought knocks away another, the
intention of renunciation dislodges the intention of desire.

The Intention of Good Will

The intention of good will opposes the intention of ill will,
thoughts governed by anger and aversion. As in the case of desire, there
are two ineffective ways of handling ill will. One is to yield to it,
to express the aversion by bodily or verbal action. This approach
releases the tension, helps drive the anger “out of one’s system,” but
it also poses certain dangers. It breeds resentment, provokes
retaliation, creates enemies, poisons relationships, and generates
unwholesome kamma; in the end, the ill will does not leave the “system”
after all, but instead is driven down to a deeper level where it
continues to vitiate one’s thoughts and conduct. The other approach,
repression, also fails to dispel the destructive force of ill will. It
merely turns that force around and pushes it inward, where it becomes
transmogrified into self-contempt, chronic depression, or a tendency to
irrational outbursts of violence.

The remedy the Buddha recommends to counteract ill will, especially
when the object is another person, is a quality called in Pali metta. This word derives from another word meaning “friend,” but metta
signifies much more than ordinary friendliness. I prefer to translate
it by the compound “loving-kindness,” which best captures the intended
sense: an intense feeling of selfless love for other beings radiating
outwards as a heartfelt concern for their well-being and happiness. Metta
is not just sentimental good will, nor is it a conscientious response
to a moral imperative or divine command. It must become a deep inner
feeling, characterized by spontaneous warmth rather than by a sense of
obligation. At its peak metta rises to the heights of a brahmavihara, a “divine dwelling,” a total way of being centered on the radiant wish for the welfare of all living beings.

The kind of love implied by metta should be distinguished from
sensual love as well as from the love involved in personal affection.
The first is a form of craving, necessarily self-directed, while the
second still includes a degree of attachment: we love a person because
that person gives us pleasure, belongs to our family or group, or
reinforces our own self-image. Only rarely does the feeling of affection
transcend all traces of ego-reference, and even then its scope is
limited. It applies only to a certain person or group of people while
excluding others.

The love involved in metta, in contrast, does not hinge on
particular relations to particular persons. Here the reference point of
self is utterly omitted. We are concerned only with suffusing others
with a mind of loving-kindness, which ideally is to be developed into a
universal state, extended to all living beings without discriminations
or reservations. The way to impart to metta this universal scope
is to cultivate it as an exercise in meditation. Spontaneous feelings of
good will occur too sporadically and are too limited in range to be
relied on as the remedy for aversion. The idea of deliberately
developing love has been criticized as contrived, mechanical, and
calculated. Love, it is said, can only be genuine when it is
spontaneous, arisen without inner prompting or effort. But it is a
Buddhist thesis that the mind cannot be commanded to love spontaneously;
it can only be shown the means to develop love and enjoined to practice
accordingly. At first the means has to be employed with some
deliberation, but through practice the feeling of love becomes
ingrained, grafted onto the mind as a natural and spontaneous tendency.

The method of development is metta-bhavana, the meditation on
loving-kindness, one of the most important kinds of Buddhist meditation.
The meditation begins with the development of loving-kindness towards
oneself.19 It is suggested that one take oneself as the first object of metta
because true loving-kindness for others only becomes possible when one
is able to feel genuine loving-kindness for oneself. Probably most of
the anger and hostility we direct to others springs from negative
attitudes we hold towards ourselves. When metta is directed
inwards towards oneself, it helps to melt down the hardened crust
created by these negative attitudes, permitting a fluid diffusion of
kindness and sympathy outwards.

Once one has learned to kindle the feeling of metta towards oneself, the next step is to extend it to others. The extension of metta
hinges on a shift in the sense of identity, on expanding the sense of
identity beyond its ordinary confines and learning to identify with
others. The shift is purely psychological in method, entirely free from
theological and metaphysical postulates, such as that of a universal
self immanent in all beings. Instead, it proceeds from a simple,
straightforward course of reflection which enables us to share the
subjectivity of others and experience the world (at least imaginatively)
from the standpoint of their own inwardness. The procedure starts with
oneself. If we look into our own mind, we find that the basic urge of
our being is the wish to be happy and free from suffering. Now, as soon
as we see this in ourselves, we can immediately understand that all
living beings share the same basic wish. All want to be well, happy, and
secure. To develop metta towards others, what is to be done is
to imaginatively share their own innate wish for happiness. We use our
own desire for happiness as the key, experience this desire as the basic
urge of others, then come back to our own position and extend to them
the wish that they may achieve their ultimate objective, that they may
be well and happy.

The methodical radiation of metta is practiced first by directing metta
to individuals representing certain groups. These groups are set in an
order of progressive remoteness from oneself. The radiation begins with a
dear person, such as a parent or teacher, then moves on to a friend,
then to a neutral person, then finally to a hostile person. Though the
types are defined by their relation to oneself, the love to be developed
is not based on that relation but on each person’s common aspiration
for happiness. With each individual one has to bring his (or her) image
into focus and radiate the thought: “May he (she) be well! May he (she)
be happy! May he (she) be peaceful!”20
Only when one succeeds in generating a warm feeling of good will and
kindness towards that person should one turn to the next. Once one gains
some success with individuals, one can then work with larger units. One
can try developing metta towards all friends, all neutral persons, all hostile persons. Then metta
can be widened by directional suffusion, proceeding in the various
directions — east, south, west, north, above, below — then it can be
extended to all beings without distinction. In the end one suffuses the
entire world with a mind of loving-kindness “vast, sublime, and
immeasurable, without enmity, without aversion.”

The Intention of Harmlessness

The intention of harmlessness is thought guided by compassion (karuna),
aroused in opposition to cruel, aggressive, and violent thoughts.
Compassion supplies the complement to loving-kindness. Whereas
loving-kindness has the characteristic of wishing for the happiness and
welfare of others, compassion has the characteristic of wishing that
others be free from suffering, a wish to be extended without limits to
all living beings. Like metta, compassion arises by entering into
the subjectivity of others, by sharing their interiority in a deep and
total way. It springs up by considering that all beings, like ourselves,
wish to be free from suffering, yet despite their wishes continue to be
harassed by pain, fear, sorrow, and other forms of dukkha.

To develop compassion as a meditative exercise, it is most effective
to start with somebody who is actually undergoing suffering, since this
provides the natural object for compassion. One contemplates this
person’s suffering, either directly or imaginatively, then reflects that
like oneself, he (she) also wants to be free from suffering. The
thought should be repeated, and contemplation continually exercised,
until a strong feeling of compassion swells up in the heart. Then, using
that feeling as a standard, one turns to different individuals,
considers how they are each exposed to suffering, and radiates the
gentle feeling of compassion out to them. To increase the breadth and
intensity of compassion it is helpful to contemplate the various
sufferings to which living beings are susceptible. A useful guideline to
this extension is provided by the first noble truth, with its
enumeration of the different aspects of dukkha. One contemplates
beings as subject to old age, then as subject to sickness, then to
death, then to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair, and so
forth.

When a high level of success has been achieved in generating
compassion by the contemplation of beings who are directly afflicted by
suffering, one can then move on to consider people who are presently
enjoying happiness which they have acquired by immoral means. One might
reflect that such people, despite their superficial fortune, are
doubtlessly troubled deep within by the pangs of conscience. Even if
they display no outward signs of inner distress, one knows that they
will eventually reap the bitter fruits of their evil deeds, which will
bring them intense suffering. Finally, one can widen the scope of one’s
contemplation to include all living beings. One should contemplate all
beings as subject to the universal suffering of samsara, driven
by their greed, aversion, and delusion through the round of repeated
birth and death. If compassion is initially difficult to arouse towards
beings who are total strangers, one can strengthen it by reflecting on
the Buddha’s dictum that in this beginningless cycle of rebirths, it is
hard to find even a single being who has not at some time been one’s own
mother or father, sister or brother, son or daughter.

To sum up, we see that the three kinds of right intention — of
renunciation, good will, and harmlessness — counteract the three wrong
intentions of desire, ill will, and harmfulness. The importance of
putting into practice the contemplations leading to the arising of these
thoughts cannot be overemphasized. The contemplations have been taught
as methods for cultivation, not mere theoretical excursions. To develop
the intention of renunciation we have to contemplate the suffering tied
up with the quest for worldly enjoyment; to develop the intention of
good will we have to consider how all beings desire happiness; to
develop the intention of harmlessness we have to consider how all beings
wish to be free from suffering. The unwholesome thought is like a
rotten peg lodged in the mind; the wholesome thought is like a new peg
suitable to replace it. The actual contemplation functions as the hammer
used to drive out the old peg with the new one. The work of driving in
the new peg is practice — practicing again and again, as often as is
necessary to reach success. The Buddha gives us his assurance that the
victory can be achieved. He says that whatever one reflects upon
frequently becomes the inclination of the mind. If one frequently thinks
sensual, hostile, or harmful thoughts, desire, ill will, and
harmfulness become the inclination of the mind. If one frequently thinks
in the opposite way, renunciation, good will, and harmlessness become
the inclination of the mind (MN 19). The direction we take always comes
back to ourselves, to the intentions we generate moment by moment in the
course of our lives.



Chapter IV [go up]
Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood
(Samma Vaca, Samma Kammanta, Samma Ajiva)

The next three path factors — right speech, right action, and right
livelihood — may be treated together, as collectively they make up the
first of the three divisions of the path, the division of moral
discipline (silakkhandha). Though the principles laid down in
this section restrain immoral actions and promote good conduct, their
ultimate purpose is not so much ethical as spiritual. They are not
prescribed merely as guides to action, but primarily as aids to mental
purification. As a necessary measure for human well-being, ethics has
its own justification in the Buddha’s teaching and its importance cannot
be underrated. But in the special context of the Noble Eightfold Path
ethical principles are subordinate to the path’s governing goal, final
deliverance from suffering. Thus for the moral training to become a
proper part of the path, it has to be taken up under the tutelage of the
first two factors, right view and right intention, and to lead beyond
to the trainings in concentration and wisdom.

Though the training in moral discipline is listed first among the
three groups of practices, it should not be regarded lightly. It is the
foundation for the entire path, essential for the success of the other
trainings. The Buddha himself frequently urged his disciples to adhere
to the rules of discipline, “seeing danger in the slightest fault.” One
time, when a monk approached the Buddha and asked for the training in
brief, the Buddha told him: “First establish yourself in the starting
point of wholesome states, that is, in purified moral discipline and in
right view. Then, when your moral discipline is purified and your view
straight, you should practice the four foundations of mindfulness” (SN
47:3).

The Pali word we have been translating as “moral discipline,” sila,
appears in the texts with several overlapping meanings all connected
with right conduct. In some contexts it means action conforming to moral
principles, in others the principles themselves, in still others the
virtuous qualities of character that result from the observance of moral
principles. Sila in the sense of precepts or principles represents the formalistic side of the ethical training, sila as virtue the animating spirit, and sila as right conduct the expression of virtue in real-life situations. Often sila
is formally defined as abstinence from unwholesome bodily and verbal
action. This definition, with its stress on outer action, appears
superficial. Other explanations, however, make up for the deficiency and
reveal that there is more to sila than is evident at first glance. The Abhidhamma, for example, equates sila with the mental factors of abstinence (viratiyo)
— right speech, right action, and right livelihood — an equation which
makes it clear that what is really being cultivated through the
observance of moral precepts is the mind. Thus while the training in sila
brings the “public” benefit of inhibiting socially detrimental actions,
it entails the personal benefit of mental purification, preventing the
defilements from dictating to us what lines of conduct we should follow.

The English word “morality” and its derivatives suggest a sense of
obligation and constraint quite foreign to the Buddhist conception of sila;
this connotation probably enters from the theistic background to
Western ethics. Buddhism, with its non-theistic framework, grounds its
ethics, not on the notion of obedience, but on that of harmony. In fact,
the commentaries explain the word sila by another word, samadhana, meaning “harmony” or “coordination.”

The observance of sila leads to harmony at several levels — social, psychological, kammic, and contemplative. At the social level the principles of sila
help to establish harmonious interpersonal relations, welding the mass
of differently constituted members of society with their own private
interests and goals into a cohesive social order in which conflict, if
not utterly eliminated, is at least reduced. At the psychological level sila
brings harmony to the mind, protection from the inner split caused by
guilt and remorse over moral transgressions. At the kammic level the
observance of sila ensures harmony with the cosmic law of kamma,
hence favorable results in the course of future movement through the
round of repeated birth and death. And at the fourth level, the
contemplative, sila helps establish the preliminary purification
of mind to be completed, in a deeper and more thorough way, by the
methodical development of serenity and insight.

When briefly defined, the factors of moral training are usually worded negatively, in terms of abstinence. But there is more to sila
than refraining from what is wrong. Each principle embedded in the
precepts, as we will see, actually has two aspects, both essential to
the training as a whole. One is abstinence from the unwholesome, the
other commitment to the wholesome; the former is called “avoidance” (varitta) and the latter “performance” (caritta).
At the outset of training the Buddha stresses the aspect of avoidance.
He does so, not because abstinence from the unwholesome is sufficient in
itself, but to establish the steps of practice in proper sequence. The
steps are set out in their natural order (more logical than temporal) in
the famous dictum of the Dhammapada: “To abstain from all evil, to
cultivate the good, and to purify one’s mind — this is the teaching of
the Buddhas” (v. 183). The other two steps — cultivating the good and
purifying the mind — also receive their due, but to ensure their
success, a resolve to avoid the unwholesome is a necessity. Without such
a resolve the attempt to develop wholesome qualities is bound to issue
in a warped and stunted pattern of growth.

The training in moral discipline governs the two principal channels
of outer action, speech and body, as well as another area of vital
concern — one’s way of earning a living. Thus the training contains
three factors: right speech, right action, and right livelihood. These
we will now examine individually, following the order in which they are
set forth in the usual exposition of the path.

Right Speech (samma vaca)

The Buddha divides right speech into four components: abstaining from
false speech, abstaining from slanderous speech, abstaining from harsh
speech, and abstaining from idle chatter. Because the effects of speech
are not as immediately evident as those of bodily action, its importance
and potential is easily overlooked. But a little reflection will show
that speech and its offshoot, the written word, can have enormous
consequences for good or for harm. In fact, whereas for beings such as
animals who live at the preverbal level physical action is of dominant
concern, for humans immersed in verbal communication speech gains the
ascendency. Speech can break lives, create enemies, and start wars, or
it can give wisdom, heal divisions, and create peace. This has always
been so, yet in the modern age the positive and negative potentials of
speech have been vastly multiplied by the tremendous increase in the
means, speed, and range of communications. The capacity for verbal
expression, oral and written, has often been regarded as the
distinguishing mark of the human species. From this we can appreciate
the need to make this capacity the means to human excellence rather
than, as too often has been the case, the sign of human degradation.

(1) Abstaining from false speech (musavada veramani)

Herein someone avoids false speech and abstains from it. He speaks
the truth, is devoted to truth, reliable, worthy of confidence, not a
deceiver of people. Being at a meeting, or amongst people, or in the
midst of his relatives, or in a society, or in the king’s court, and
called upon and asked as witness to tell what he knows, he answers, if
he knows nothing: “I know nothing,” and if he knows, he answers: “I
know”; if he has seen nothing, he answers: “I have seen nothing,” and if
he has seen, he answers: “I have seen.” Thus he never knowingly speaks a
lie, either for the sake of his own advantage, or for the sake of
another person’s advantage, or for the sake of any advantage whatsoever.21

This statement of the Buddha discloses both the negative and the
positive sides to the precept. The negative side is abstaining from
lying, the positive side speaking the truth. The determinative factor
behind the transgression is the intention to deceive. If one speaks
something false believing it to be true, there is no breach of the
precept as the intention to deceive is absent. Though the deceptive
intention is common to all cases of false speech, lies can appear in
different guises depending on the motivating root, whether greed,
hatred, or delusion. Greed as the chief motive results in the lie aimed
at gaining some personal advantage for oneself or for those close to
oneself — material wealth, position, respect, or admiration. With hatred
as the motive, false speech takes the form of the malicious lie, the
lie intended to hurt and damage others. When delusion is the principal
motive, the result is a less pernicious type of falsehood: the
irrational lie, the compulsive lie, the interesting exaggeration, lying
for the sake of a joke.

The Buddha’s stricture against lying rests upon several reasons. For
one thing, lying is disruptive to social cohesion. People can live
together in society only in an atmosphere of mutual trust, where they
have reason to believe that others will speak the truth; by destroying
the grounds for trust and inducing mass suspicion, widespread lying
becomes the harbinger signalling the fall from social solidarity to
chaos. But lying has other consequences of a deeply personal nature at
least equally disastrous. By their very nature lies tend to proliferate.
Lying once and finding our word suspect, we feel compelled to lie again
to defend our credibility, to paint a consistent picture of events. So
the process repeats itself: the lies stretch, multiply, and connect
until they lock us into a cage of falsehoods from which it is difficult
to escape. The lie is thus a miniature paradigm for the whole process of
subjective illusion. In each case the self-assured creator, sucked in
by his own deceptions, eventually winds up their victim.

Such considerations probably lie behind the words of counsel the
Buddha spoke to his son, the young novice Rahula, soon after the boy was
ordained. One day the Buddha came to Rahula, pointed to a bowl with a
little bit of water in it, and asked: “Rahula, do you see this bit of
water left in the bowl?” Rahula answered: “Yes, sir.” “So little,
Rahula, is the spiritual achievement (samañña, lit.
‘recluseship’) of one who is not afraid to speak a deliberate lie.” Then
the Buddha threw the water away, put the bowl down, and said: “Do you
see, Rahula, how that water has been discarded? In the same way one who
tells a deliberate lie discards whatever spiritual achievement he has
made.” Again he asked: “Do you see how this bowl is now empty? In the
same way one who has no shame in speaking lies is empty of spiritual
achievement.” Then the Buddha turned the bowl upside down and said: “Do
you see, Rahula, how this bowl has been turned upside down? In the same
way one who tells a deliberate lie turns his spiritual achievements
upside down and becomes incapable of progress.” Therefore, the Buddha
concluded, one should not speak a deliberate lie even in jest.22

It is said that in the course of his long training for enlightenment
over many lives, a bodhisatta can break all the moral precepts except
the pledge to speak the truth. The reason for this is very profound, and
reveals that the commitment to truth has a significance transcending
the domain of ethics and even mental purification, taking us to the
domains of knowledge and being. Truthful speech provides, in the sphere
of interpersonal communication, a parallel to wisdom in the sphere of
private understanding. The two are respectively the outward and inward
modalities of the same commitment to what is real. Wisdom consists in
the realization of truth, and truth (sacca) is not just a verbal
proposition but the nature of things as they are. To realize truth our
whole being has to be brought into accord with actuality, with things as
they are, which requires that in communications with others we respect
things as they are by speaking the truth. Truthful speech establishes a
correspondence between our own inner being and the real nature of
phenomena, allowing wisdom to rise up and fathom their real nature.
Thus, much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech
is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion, on the
truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.

(2) Abstaining from slanderous speech (pisunaya vacaya veramani)

He avoids slanderous speech and abstains from it. What he has heard
here he does not repeat there, so as to cause dissension there; and what
he has heard there he does not repeat here, so as to cause dissension
here. Thus he unites those that are divided; and those that are united
he encourages. Concord gladdens him, he delights and rejoices in
concord; and it is concord that he spreads by his words.23

Slanderous speech is speech intended to create enmity and division,
to alienate one person or group from another. The motive behind such
speech is generally aversion, resentment of a rival’s success or
virtues, the intention to tear down others by verbal denigrations. Other
motives may enter the picture as well: the cruel intention of causing
hurt to others, the evil desire to win affection for oneself, the
perverse delight in seeing friends divided.

Slanderous speech is one of the most serious moral transgressions.
The root of hate makes the unwholesome kamma already heavy enough, but
since the action usually occurs after deliberation, the negative force
becomes even stronger because premeditation adds to its gravity. When
the slanderous statement is false, the two wrongs of falsehood and
slander combine to produce an extremely powerful unwholesome kamma. The
canonical texts record several cases in which the calumny of an innocent
party led to an immediate rebirth in the plane of misery.

The opposite of slander, as the Buddha indicates, is speech that
promotes friendship and harmony. Such speech originates from a mind of
loving-kindness and sympathy. It wins the trust and affection of others,
who feel they can confide in one without fear that their disclosures
will be used against them. Beyond the obvious benefits that such speech
brings in this present life, it is said that abstaining from slander has
as its kammic result the gain of a retinue of friends who can never be
turned against one by the slanderous words of others.24

(3) Abstaining from harsh speech (pharusaya vacaya veramani).

He avoids harsh language and abstains from it. He speaks such words
as are gentle, soothing to the ear, loving, such words as go to the
heart, and are courteous, friendly, and agreeable to many.25

Harsh speech is speech uttered in anger, intended to cause the hearer
pain. Such speech can assume different forms, of which we might mention
three. One is abusive speech: scolding, reviling, or reproving another angrily with bitter words. A second is insult: hurting another by ascribing to him some offensive quality which detracts from his dignity. A third is sarcasm:
speaking to someone in a way which ostensibly lauds him, but with such a
tone or twist of phrasing that the ironic intent becomes clear and
causes pain.

The main root of harsh speech is aversion, assuming the form of
anger. Since the defilement in this case tends to work impulsively,
without deliberation, the transgression is less serious than slander and
the kammic consequence generally less severe. Still, harsh speech is an
unwholesome action with disagreeable results for oneself and others,
both now and in the future, so it has to be restrained. The ideal
antidote is patience — learning to tolerate blame and criticism from
others, to sympathize with their shortcomings, to respect differences in
viewpoint, to endure abuse without feeling compelled to retaliate. The
Buddha calls for patience even under the most trying conditions:

Even if, monks, robbers and murderers saw through your limbs and
joints, whosoever should give way to anger thereat would not be
following my advice. For thus ought you to train yourselves:
“Undisturbed shall our mind remain, with heart full of love, and free
from any hidden malice; and that person shall we penetrate with loving
thoughts, wide, deep, boundless, freed from anger and hatred.”26

(4) Abstaining from idle chatter (samphappalapa veramani).

He avoids idle chatter and abstains from it. He speaks at the right
time, in accordance with facts, speaks what is useful, speaks of the
Dhamma and the discipline; his speech is like a treasure, uttered at the
right moment, accompanied by reason, moderate and full of sense.27

Idle chatter is pointless talk, speech that lacks purpose or depth.
Such speech communicates nothing of value, but only stirs up the
defilements in one’s own mind and in others. The Buddha advises that
idle talk should be curbed and speech restricted as much as possible to
matters of genuine importance. In the case of a monk, the typical
subject of the passage just quoted, his words should be selective and
concerned primarily with the Dhamma. Lay persons will have more need for
affectionate small talk with friends and family, polite conversation
with acquaintances, and talk in connection with their line of work. But
even then they should be mindful not to let the conversation stray into
pastures where the restless mind, always eager for something sweet or
spicy to feed on, might find the chance to indulge its defiling
propensities.

The traditional exegesis of abstaining from idle chatter refers only
to avoiding engagement in such talk oneself. But today it might be of
value to give this factor a different slant, made imperative by certain
developments peculiar to our own time, unknown in the days of the Buddha
and the ancient commentators. This is avoiding exposure to the idle
chatter constantly bombarding us through the new media of communication
created by modern technology. An incredible array of devices —
television, radio, newspapers, pulp journals, the cinema — turns out a
continuous stream of needless information and distracting entertainment
the net effect of which is to leave the mind passive, vacant, and
sterile. All these developments, naively accepted as “progress,”
threaten to blunt our aesthetic and spiritual sensitivities and deafen
us to the higher call of the contemplative life. Serious aspirants on
the path to liberation have to be extremely discerning in what they
allow themselves to be exposed to. They would greatly serve their
aspirations by including these sources of amusement and needless
information in the category of idle chatter and making an effort to
avoid them.

Right Action (samma kammanta)

Right action means refraining from unwholesome deeds that occur with
the body as their natural means of expression. The pivotal element in
this path factor is the mental factor of abstinence, but because this
abstinence applies to actions performed through the body, it is called
“right action.” The Buddha mentions three components of right action:
abstaining from taking life, abstaining from taking what is not given,
and abstaining from sexual misconduct. These we will briefly discuss in
order.

(1) Abstaining from the taking of life (panatipata veramani)

Herein someone avoids the taking of life and abstains from it.
Without stick or sword, conscientious, full of sympathy, he is desirous
of the welfare of all sentient beings.28

“Abstaining from taking life” has a wider application than simply
refraining from killing other human beings. The precept enjoins
abstaining from killing any sentient being. A “sentient being” (pani, satta)
is a living being endowed with mind or consciousness; for practical
purposes, this means human beings, animals, and insects. Plants are not
considered to be sentient beings; though they exhibit some degree of
sensitivity, they lack full-fledged consciousness, the defining
attribute of a sentient being.

The “taking of life” that is to be avoided is intentional
killing, the deliberate destruction of life of a being endowed with
consciousness. The principle is grounded in the consideration that all
beings love life and fear death, that all seek happiness and are averse
to pain. The essential determinant of transgression is the volition to
kill, issuing in an action that deprives a being of life. Suicide is
also generally regarded as a violation, but not accidental killing as
the intention to destroy life is absent. The abstinence may be taken to
apply to two kinds of action, the primary and the secondary. The primary
is the actual destruction of life; the secondary is deliberately
harming or torturing another being without killing it.

While the Buddha’s statement on non-injury is quite simple and
straightforward, later commentaries give a detailed analysis of the
principle. A treatise from Thailand, written by an erudite Thai
patriarch, collates a mass of earlier material into an especially
thorough treatment, which we shall briefly summarize here.29
The treatise points out that the taking of life may have varying
degrees of moral weight entailing different consequences. The three
primary variables governing moral weight are the object, the motive, and
the effort. With regard to the object there is a difference in
seriousness between killing a human being and killing an animal, the
former being kammically heavier since man has a more highly developed
moral sense and greater spiritual potential than animals. Among human
beings, the degree of kammic weight depends on the qualities of the
person killed and his relation to the killer; thus killing a person of
superior spiritual qualities or a personal benefactor, such as a parent
or a teacher, is an especially grave act.

The motive for killing also influences moral weight. Acts of killing
can be driven by greed, hatred, or delusion. Of the three, killing
motivated by hatred is the most serious, and the weight increases to the
degree that the killing is premeditated. The force of effort involved
also contributes, the unwholesome kamma being proportional to the force
and the strength of the defilements.

The positive counterpart to abstaining from taking life, as the
Buddha indicates, is the development of kindness and compassion for
other beings. The disciple not only avoids destroying life; he dwells
with a heart full of sympathy, desiring the welfare of all beings. The
commitment to non-injury and concern for the welfare of others represent
the practical application of the second path factor, right intention,
in the form of good will and harmlessness.

(2) Abstaining from taking what is not given (adinnadana veramani)

He avoids taking what is not given and abstains from it; what another
person possesses of goods and chattel in the village or in the wood,
that he does not take away with thievish intent.30

“Taking what is not given” means appropriating the rightful
belongings of others with thievish intent. If one takes something that
has no owner, such as unclaimed stones, wood, or even gems extracted
from the earth, the act does not count as a violation even though these
objects have not been given. But also implied as a transgression, though
not expressly stated, is withholding from others what should rightfully
be given to them.

Commentaries mention a number of ways in which “taking what is not
given” can be committed. Some of the most common may be enumerated:

(1) stealing: taking the belongings of others secretly, as in housebreaking, pickpocketing, etc.;

(2) robbery: taking what belongs to others openly by force or threats;

(3) snatching: suddenly pulling away another’s possession before he has time to resist;

(4) fraudulence: gaining possession of another’s belongings by falsely claiming them as one’s own;

(5) deceitfulness: using false weights and measures to cheat customers.31

The degree of moral weight that attaches to the action is determined
by three factors: the value of the object taken; the qualities of the
victim of the theft; and the subjective state of the thief. Regarding
the first, moral weight is directly proportional to the value of the
object. Regarding the second, the weight varies according to the moral
qualities of the deprived individual. Regarding the third, acts of theft
may be motivated either by greed or hatred. While greed is the most
common cause, hatred may also be responsible as when one person deprives
another of his belongings not so much because he wants them for himself
as because he wants to harm the latter. Between the two, acts motivated
by hatred are kammically heavier than acts motivated by sheer greed.

The positive counterpart to abstaining from stealing is honesty,
which implies respect for the belongings of others and for their right
to use their belongings as they wish. Another related virtue is
contentment, being satisfied with what one has without being inclined to
increase one’s wealth by unscrupulous means. The most eminent opposite
virtue is generosity, giving away one’s own wealth and possessions in
order to benefit others.

(3) Abstaining from sexual misconduct (kamesu miccha-cara veramani)

He avoids sexual misconduct and abstains from it. He has no
intercourse with such persons as are still under the protection of
father, mother, brother, sister or relatives, nor with married women,
nor with female convicts, nor lastly, with betrothed girls.32

The guiding purposes of this precept, from the ethical standpoint,
are to protect marital relations from outside disruption and to promote
trust and fidelity within the marital union. From the spiritual
standpoint it helps curb the expansive tendency of sexual desire and
thus is a step in the direction of renunciation, which reaches its
consummation in the observance of celibacy (brahmacariya) binding
on monks and nuns. But for laypeople the precept enjoins abstaining
from sexual relations with an illicit partner. The primary transgression
is entering into full sexual union, but all other sexual involvements
of a less complete kind may be considered secondary infringements.

The main question raised by the precept concerns who is to count as
an illicit partner. The Buddha’s statement defines the illicit partner
from the perspective of the man, but later treatises elaborate the
matter for both sexes.33

For a man, three kinds of women are considered illicit partners:

(1) A woman who is married to another man. This includes, besides a
woman already married to a man, a woman who is not his legal wife but is
generally recognized as his consort, who lives with him or is kept by
him or is in some way acknowledged as his partner. All these women are
illicit partners for men other than their own husbands. This class would
also include a woman engaged to another man. But a widow or divorced
woman is not out of bounds, provided she is not excluded for other
reasons.

(2) A woman still under protection. This is a girl or woman who is
under the protection of her mother, father, relatives, or others
rightfully entitled to be her guardians. This provision rules out
elopements or secret marriages contrary to the wishes of the protecting
party.

(3) A woman prohibited by convention. This includes close female
relatives forbidden as partners by social tradition, nuns and other
women under a vow of celibacy, and those prohibited as partners by the
law of the land.

From the standpoint of a woman, two kinds of men are considered illicit partners:

(1) For a married woman any man other than her husband is out of
bounds. Thus a married woman violates the precept if she breaks her vow
of fidelity to her husband. But a widow or divorcee is free to remarry.

(2) For any woman any man forbidden by convention, such as close
relatives and those under a vow of celibacy, is an illicit partner.

Besides these, any case of forced, violent, or coercive sexual union
constitutes a transgression. But in such a case the violation falls only
on the offender, not on the one compelled to submit.

The positive virtue corresponding to the abstinence is, for
laypeople, marital fidelity. Husband and wife should each be faithful
and devoted to the other, content with the relationship, and should not
risk a breakup to the union by seeking outside partners. The principle
does not, however, confine sexual relations to the marital union. It is
flexible enough to allow for variations depending on social convention.
The essential purpose, as was said, is to prevent sexual relations which
are hurtful to others. When mature independent people, though
unmarried, enter into a sexual relationship through free consent, so
long as no other person is intentionally harmed, no breach of the
training factor is involved.

Ordained monks and nuns, including men and women who have undertaken
the eight or ten precepts, are obliged to observe celibacy. They must
abstain not only from sexual misconduct, but from all sexual
involvements, at least during the period of their vows. The holy life at
its highest aims at complete purity in thought, word, and deed, and
this requires turning back the tide of sexual desire.

Right Livelihood (samma ajiva)

Right livelihood is concerned with ensuring that one earns one’s
living in a righteous way. For a lay disciple the Buddha teaches that
wealth should be gained in accordance with certain standards. One should
acquire it only by legal means, not illegally; one should acquire it
peacefully, without coercion or violence; one should acquire it
honestly, not by trickery or deceit; and one should acquire it in ways
which do not entail harm and suffering for others.34
The Buddha mentions five specific kinds of livelihood which bring harm
to others and are therefore to be avoided: dealing in weapons, in living
beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as slave trade
and prostitution), in meat production and butchery, in poisons, and in
intoxicants (AN 5:177). He further names several dishonest means of
gaining wealth which fall under wrong livelihood: practicing deceit,
treachery, soothsaying, trickery, and usury (MN 117). Obviously any
occupation that requires violation of right speech and right action is a
wrong form of livelihood, but other occupations, such as selling
weapons or intoxicants, may not violate those factors and yet be wrong
because of their consequences for others.

The Thai treatise discusses the positive aspects of right livelihood
under the three convenient headings of rightness regarding actions,
rightness regarding persons, and rightness regarding objects.35
“Rightness regarding actions” means that workers should fulfill their
duties diligently and conscientiously, not idling away time, claiming to
have worked longer hours than they did, or pocketing the company’s
goods. “Rightness regarding persons” means that due respect and
consideration should be shown to employers, employees, colleagues, and
customers. An employer, for example, should assign his workers chores
according to their ability, pay them adequately, promote them when they
deserve a promotion and give them occasional vacations and bonuses.
Colleagues should try to cooperate rather than compete, while merchants
should be equitable in their dealings with customers. “Rightness
regarding objects” means that in business transactions and sales the
articles to be sold should be presented truthfully. There should be no
deceptive advertising, misrepresentations of quality or quantity, or
dishonest manoeuvers.



Chapter V [go up]
Right Effort
(Samma Vayama)

The purification of conduct established by the prior three factors
serves as the basis for the next division of the path, the division of
concentration (samadhikkhandha). This present phase of practice,
which advances from moral restraint to direct mental training, comprises
the three factors of right effort, right mindfulness, and right
concentration. It gains its name from the goal to which it aspires, the
power of sustained concentration, itself required as the support for
insight-wisdom. Wisdom is the primary tool for deliverance, but the
penetrating vision it yields can only open up when the mind has been
composed and collected. Right concentration brings the requisite
stillness to the mind by unifying it with undistracted focus on a
suitable object. To do so, however, the factor of concentration needs
the aid of effort and mindfulness. Right effort provides the energy
demanded by the task, right mindfulness the steadying points for
awareness.

The commentators illustrate the interdependence of the three factors
within the concentration group with a simple simile. Three boys go to a
park to play. While walking along they see a tree with flowering tops
and decide they want to gather the flowers. But the flowers are beyond
the reach even of the tallest boy. Then one friend bends down and offers
his back. The tall boy climbs up, but still hesitates to reach for the
flowers from fear of falling. So the third boy comes over and offers his
shoulder for support. The first boy, standing on the back of the second
boy, then leans on the shoulder of the third boy, reaches up, and
gathers the flowers.36

In this simile the tall boy who picks the flowers represents
concentration with its function of unifying the mind. But to unify the
mind concentration needs support: the energy provided by right effort,
which is like the boy who offers his back. It also requires the
stabilizing awareness provided by mindfulness, which is like the boy who
offers his shoulder. When right concentration receives this support,
then empowered by right effort and balanced by right mindfulness it can
draw in the scattered strands of thought and fix the mind firmly on its
object.

Energy (viriya), the mental factor behind right effort, can
appear in either wholesome or unwholesome forms. The same factor fuels
desire, aggression, violence, and ambition on the one hand, and
generosity, self-discipline, kindness, concentration, and understanding
on the other. The exertion involved in right effort is a wholesome form
of energy, but it is something more specific, namely, the energy in
wholesome states of consciousness directed to liberation from suffering.
This last qualifying phrase is especially important. For wholesome
energy to become a contributor to the path it has to be guided by right
view and right intention, and to work in association with the other path
factors. Otherwise, as the energy in ordinary wholesome states of mind,
it merely engenders an accumulation of merit that ripens within the
round of birth and death; it does not issue in liberation from the
round.

Time and again the Buddha has stressed the need for effort, for
diligence, exertion, and unflagging perseverance. The reason why effort
is so crucial is that each person has to work out his or her own
deliverance. The Buddha does what he can by pointing out the path to
liberation; the rest involves putting the path into practice, a task
that demands energy. This energy is to be applied to the cultivation of
the mind, which forms the focus of the entire path. The starting point
is the defiled mind, afflicted and deluded; the goal is the liberated
mind, purified and illuminated by wisdom. What comes in between is the
unremitting effort to transform the defiled mind into the liberated
mind. The work of self-cultivation is not easy — there is no one who can
do it for us but ourselves — but it is not impossible. The Buddha
himself and his accomplished disciples provide the living proof that the
task is not beyond our reach. They assure us, too, that anyone who
follows the path can accomplish the same goal. But what is needed is
effort, the work of practice taken up with the determination: “I shall
not give up my efforts until I have attained whatever is attainable by
manly perseverance, energy, and endeavor.”37

The nature of the mental process effects a division of right effort into four “great endeavors”:

  1. to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states;
  2. to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen;
  3. to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen;
  4. to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.

The unwholesome states (akusala dhamma) are the defilements,
and the thoughts, emotions, and intentions derived from them, whether
breaking forth into action or remaining confined within. The wholesome
states (kusala dhamma) are states of mind untainted by
defilements, especially those conducing to deliverance. Each of the two
kinds of mental states imposes a double task. The unwholesome side
requires that the defilements lying dormant be prevented from erupting
and that the active defilements already present be expelled. The
wholesome side requires that the undeveloped liberating factors first be
brought into being, then persistently developed to the point of full
maturity. Now we will examine each of these four divisions of right
effort, giving special attention to their most fertile field of
application, the cultivation of the mind through meditation.

(1) To prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states

Herein the disciple rouses his will to avoid the arising of evil,
unwholesome states that have not yet arisen; and he makes effort, stirs
up his energy, exerts his mind and strives.38

The first side of right effort aims at overcoming unwholesome states,
states of mind tainted by defilements. Insofar as they impede
concentration the defilements are usually presented in a fivefold set
called the “five hindrances” (pañcanivarana): sensual desire, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and worry, and doubt.39
They receive the name “hindrances” because they block the path to
liberation; they grow up and over the mind preventing calm and insight,
the primary instruments for progress. The first two hindrances, sensual
desire and ill will, are the strongest of the set, the most formidable
barriers to meditative growth, representing, respectively, the
unwholesome roots of greed and aversion. The other three hindrances,
less toxic but still obstructive, are offshoots of delusion, usually in
association with other defilements.

Sensual desire is interpreted in two ways. Sometimes it is
understood in a narrow sense as lust for the “five strands of sense
pleasure,” i.e., agreeable sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches;
sometimes a broader interpretation is given, by which the term becomes
inclusive of craving in all its modes, whether for sense pleasures,
wealth, power, position, fame, or anything else it can settle upon. The
second hindrance, ill will, is a synonym for aversion. It
comprises hatred, anger, resentment, repulsion of every shade, whether
directed towards other people, towards oneself, towards objects, or
towards situations. The third hindrance, dullness and drowsiness, is a compound of two factors linked together by their common feature of mental unwieldiness. One is dullness (thina), manifest as mental inertia; the other is drowsiness (middha), seen in mental sinking, heaviness of mind, or excessive inclination to sleep. At the opposite extreme is the fourth hindrance, restlessness and worry. This too is a compound with its two members linked by their common feature of disquietude. Restlessness (uddhacca) is agitation or excitement, which drives the mind from thought to thought with speed and frenzy; worry (kukkucca) is remorse over past mistakes and anxiety about their possible undesired consequences. The fifth hindrance, doubt,
signifies a chronic indecisiveness and lack of resolution: not the
probing of critical intelligence, an attitude encouraged by the Buddha,
but a persistent inability to commit oneself to the course of spiritual
training due to lingering doubts concerning the Buddha, his doctrine,
and his path.

The first effort to be made regarding the hindrances is the effort to
prevent the unarisen hindrances from arising; this is also called the
endeavor to restrain (samvarappadhana). The effort to hold the
hindrances in check is imperative both at the start of meditative
training and throughout the course of its development. For when the
hindrances arise, they disperse attention and darken the quality of
awareness, to the detriment of calm and clarity. The hindrances do not
come from outside the mind but from within. They appear through the
activation of certain tendencies constantly lying dormant in the deep
recesses of the mental continuum, awaiting the opportunity to surface.

Generally what sparks the hindrances into activity is the input
afforded by sense experience. The physical organism is equipped with
five sense faculties each receptive to its own specific kind of data —
the eye to forms, the ear to sounds, the nose to smells, the tongue to
tastes, the body to tangibles. Sense objects continuously impinge on the
senses, which relay the information they receive to the mind, where it
is processed, evaluated, and accorded an appropriate response. But the
mind can deal with the impressions it receives in different ways,
governed in the first place by the manner in which it attends to them.
When the mind adverts to the incoming data carelessly, with unwise
consideration (ayoniso manasikara), the sense objects tend to
stir up unwholesome states. They do this either directly, through their
immediate impact, or else indirectly by depositing memory traces which
later may swell up as the objects of defiled thoughts, images, and
fantasies. As a general rule the defilement that is activated
corresponds to the object: attractive objects provoke desire,
disagreeable objects provoke ill will, and indeterminate objects provoke
the defilements connected with delusion.

Since an uncontrolled response to the sensory input stimulates the
latent defilements, what is evidently needed to prevent them from
arising is control over the senses. Thus the Buddha teaches, as the
discipline for keeping the hindrances in check, an exercise called the
restraint of the sense faculties (indriya-samvara):

When he perceives a form with the eye, a sound with the ear, an odor
with the nose, a taste with the tongue, an impression with the body, or
an object with the mind, he apprehends neither the sign nor the
particulars. And he strives to ward off that through which evil and
unwholesome states, greed and sorrow, would arise, if he remained with
unguarded senses; and he watches over his senses, restrains his senses.40

Restraint of the senses does not mean denial of the senses,
retreating into a total withdrawal from the sensory world. This is
impossible, and even if it could be achieved, the real problem would
still not be solved; for the defilements lie in the mind, not in the
sense organs or objects. The key to sense control is indicated by the
phrase “not apprehending the sign or the particulars.” The “sign” (nimitta) is the object’s general appearance insofar as this appearance is grasped as the basis for defiled thoughts; the “particulars” (anubyanjana)
are its less conspicuous features. If sense control is lacking, the
mind roams recklessly over the sense fields. First it grasps the sign,
which sets the defilements into motion, then it explores the
particulars, which permits them to multiply and thrive.

To restrain the senses requires that mindfulness and clear
understanding be applied to the encounter with the sense fields. Sense
consciousness occurs in a series, as a sequence of momentary cognitive
acts each having its own special task. The initial stages in the series
occur as automatic functions: first the mind adverts to the object, then
apprehends it, then admits the percept, examines it, and identifies it.
Immediately following the identification a space opens up in which
there occurs a free evaluation of the object leading to the choice of a
response. When mindfulness is absent the latent defilements, pushing for
an opportunity to emerge, will motivate a wrong consideration. One will
grasp the sign of the object, explore its details, and thereby give the
defilements their opportunity: on account of greed one will become
fascinated by an agreeable object, on account of aversion one will be
repelled by a disagreeable object. But when one applies mindfulness to
the sensory encounter, one nips the cognitive process in the bud before
it can evolve into the stages that stimulate the dormant taints.
Mindfulness holds the hindrances in check by keeping the mind at the
level of what is sensed. It rivets awareness on the given, preventing
the mind from embellishing the datum with ideas born of greed, aversion,
and delusion. Then, with this lucent awareness as a guide, the mind can
proceed to comprehend the object as it is, without being led astray.

(2) To abandon the arisen unwholesome states

Herein the disciple rouses his will to overcome the evil, unwholesome
states that have already arisen and he makes effort, stirs up his
energy, exerts his mind and strives.41

Despite the effort at sense control the defilements may still
surface. They swell up from the depths of the mental continuum, from the
buried strata of past accumulations, to congeal into unwholesome
thoughts and emotions. When this happens a new kind of effort becomes
necessary, the effort to abandon arisen unwholesome states, called for
short the endeavor to abandon (pahanappadhana):

He does not retain any thought of sensual lust, ill will, or
harmfulness, or any other evil and unwholesome states that may have
arisen; he abandons them, dispels them, destroys them, causes them to
disappear.42

Just as a skilled physician has different medicines for different
ailments, so the Buddha has different antidotes for the different
hindrances, some equally applicable to all, some geared to a particular
hindrance. In an important discourse the Buddha explains five techniques
for expelling distracting thoughts.43
The first is to expel the defiled thought with a wholesome thought
which is its exact opposite, analogous to the way a carpenter might use a
new peg to drive out an old one. For each of the five hindrances there
is a specific remedy, a line of meditation designed expressly to deflate
it and destroy it. This remedy can be applied intermittently, when a
hindrance springs up and disrupts meditation on the primary subject; or
it can be taken as a primary subject itself, used to counter a
defilement repeatedly seen to be a persistent obstacle to one’s
practice. But for the antidote to become effective in the first role, as
a temporary expedient required by the upsurge of a hindrance, it is
best to gain some familiarity with it by making it a primary object, at
least for short periods.

For desire a remedy of general application is the meditation on
impermanence, which knocks away the underlying prop of clinging, the
implicit assumption that the objects clung to are stable and durable.
For desire in the specific form of sensual lust the most potent antidote
is the contemplation of the unattractive nature of the body, to be
dealt with at greater length in the next chapter. Ill will meets its
proper remedy in the meditation on loving-kindness (metta), which
banishes all traces of hatred and anger through the methodical
radiation of the altruistic wish that all beings be well and happy. The
dispelling of dullness and drowsiness calls for a special effort to
arouse energy, for which several methods are suggested: the
visualization of a brilliant ball of light, getting up and doing a
period of brisk walking meditation, reflection on death, or simply
making a firm determination to continue striving. Restlessness and worry
are most effectively countered by turning the mind to a simple object
that tends to calm it down; the method usually recommended is
mindfulness of breathing, attention to the in-and-out flow of the
breath. In the case of doubt the special remedy is investigation: to
make inquiries, ask questions, and study the teachings until the obscure
points become clear.44

Whereas this first of the five methods for expelling the hindrances
involves a one-to-one alignment between a hindrance and its remedy, the
other four utilize general approaches. The second marshals the forces of
shame (hiri) and moral dread (ottappa) to abandon the
unwanted thought: one reflects on the thought as vile and ignoble or
considers its undesirable consequences until an inner revulsion sets in
which drives the thought away. The third method involves a deliberate
diversion of attention. When an unwholesome thought arises and clamours
to be noticed, instead of indulging it one simply shuts it out by
redirecting one’s attention elsewhere, as if closing one’s eyes or
looking away to avoid an unpleasant sight. The fourth method uses the
opposite approach. Instead of turning away from the unwanted thought,
one confronts it directly as an object, scrutinizes its features, and
investigates its source. When this is done the thought quiets down and
eventually disappears. For an unwholesome thought is like a thief: it
only creates trouble when its operation is concealed, but put under
observation it becomes tame. The fifth method, to be used only as a last
resort, is suppression — vigorously restraining the unwholesome thought
with the power of the will in the way a strong man might throw a weaker
man to the ground and keep him pinned there with his weight.

By applying these five methods with skill and discretion, the Buddha
says, one becomes a master of all the pathways of thought. One is no
longer the subject of the mind but its master. Whatever thought one
wants to think, that one will think. Whatever thought one does not want
to think, that one will not think. Even if unwholesome thoughts
occasionally arise, one can dispel them immediately, just as quickly as a
red-hot pan will turn to steam a few chance drops of water.

(3) To arouse unarisen wholesome states

Herein the disciple rouses his will to arouse wholesome states that
have not yet arisen; and he makes effort, stirs up his energy, exerts
his mind and strives.45

Simultaneously with the removal of defilements, right effort also
imposes the task of cultivating wholesome states of mind. This involves
two divisions: the arousing of wholesome states not yet arisen and the
maturation of wholesome states already arisen.

The first of the two divisions is also known as the endeavor to develop (bhavanappadhana).
Though the wholesome states to be developed can be grouped in various
ways — serenity and insight, the four foundations of mindfulness, the
eight factors of the path, etc. — the Buddha lays special stress on a
set called the seven factors of enlightenment (satta bojjhanga): mindfulness, investigation of phenomena, energy, rapture, tranquillity, concentration, and equanimity.

Thus he develops the factors of enlightenment, based on solitude, on
detachment, on cessation, and ending in deliverance, namely: the
enlightenment factors of mindfulness, investigation of phenomena,
energy, rapture, tranquillity, concentration, and equanimity.46

The seven states are grouped together as “enlightenment factors” both
because they lead to enlightenment and because they constitute
enlightenment. In the preliminary stages of the path they prepare the
way for the great realization; in the end they remain as its components.
The experience of enlightenment, perfect and complete understanding, is
just these seven components working in unison to break all shackles and
bring final release from sorrow.

The way to enlightenment starts with mindfulness. Mindfulness
clears the ground for insight into the nature of things by bringing to
light phenomena in the now, the present moment, stripped of all
subjective commentary, interpretations, and projections. Then, when
mindfulness has brought the bare phenomena into focus, the factor of investigation
steps in to search out their characteristics, conditions, and
consequences. Whereas mindfulness is basically receptive, investigation
is an active factor which unflinchingly probes, analyzes, and dissects
phenomena to uncover their fundamental structures.

The work of investigation requires energy, the third factor of
enlightenment, which mounts in three stages. The first, inceptive
energy, shakes off lethargy and arouses initial enthusiasm. As the work
of contemplation advances, energy gathers momentum and enters the second
stage, perseverance, wherein it propels the practice without
slackening. Finally, at the peak, energy reaches the third stage,
invincibility, where it drives contemplation forward leaving the
hindrances powerless to stop it.

As energy increases, the fourth factor of enlightenment is quickened. This is rapture,
a pleasurable interest in the object. Rapture gradually builds up,
ascending to ecstatic heights: waves of bliss run through the body, the
mind glows with joy, fervor and confidence intensify. But these
experiences, as encouraging as they are, still contain a flaw: they
create an excitation verging on restlessness. With further practice,
however, rapture subsides and a tone of quietness sets in signalling the
rise of the fifth factor, tranquillity. Rapture remains present, but it is now subdued, and the work of contemplation proceeds with self-possessed serenity.

Tranquillity brings to ripeness concentration, the sixth
factor, one-pointed unification of mind. Then, with the deepening of
concentration, the last enlightenment factor comes into dominance. This
is equanimity, inward poise and balance free from the two defects
of excitement and inertia. When inertia prevails, energy must be
aroused; when excitement prevails, it is necessary to exercise
restraint. But when both defects have been vanquished the practice can
unfold evenly without need for concern. The mind of equanimity is
compared to the driver of a chariot when the horses are moving at a
steady pace: he neither has to urge them forward nor to hold them back,
but can just sit comfortably and watch the scenery go by. Equanimity has
the same “on-looking” quality. When the other factors are balanced the
mind remains poised watching the play of phenomena.

(4) To maintain arisen wholesome states

Herein the disciple rouses his will to maintain the wholesome things
that have already arisen, and not to allow them to disappear, but to
bring them to growth, to maturity, and to the full perfection of
development; and he makes effort, stirs up his energy, exerts his mind
and strives.47

This last of the four right efforts aims at maintaining the arisen
wholesome factors and bringing them to maturity. Called the “endeavor to
maintain” (anurakkhanappadhana), it is explained as the effort to “keep firmly in the mind a favorable object of concentration that has arisen.”48
The work of guarding the object causes the seven enlightenment factors
to gain stability and gradually increase in strength until they issue in
the liberating realization. This marks the culmination of right effort,
the goal in which the countless individual acts of exertion finally
reach fulfillment.



Chapter VI [go up]
Right Mindfulness
(Samma Sati)

The Buddha says that the Dhamma, the ultimate truth of things, is
directly visible, timeless, calling out to be approached and seen. He
says further that it is always available to us, and that the place where
it is to be realized is within oneself.49
The ultimate truth, the Dhamma, is not something mysterious and remote,
but the truth of our own experience. It can be reached only by
understanding our experience, by penetrating it right through to its
foundations. This truth, in order to become liberating truth, has to be
known directly. It is not enough merely to accept it on faith, to
believe it on the authority of books or a teacher, or to think it out
through deductions and inferences. It has to be known by insight,
grasped and absorbed by a kind of knowing which is also an immediate
seeing.

What brings the field of experience into focus and makes it accessible to insight is a mental faculty called in Pali sati,
usually translated as “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is presence of mind,
attentiveness or awareness. Yet the kind of awareness involved in
mindfulness differs profoundly from the kind of awareness at work in our
usual mode of consciousness. All consciousness involves awareness in
the sense of a knowing or experiencing of an object. But with the
practice of mindfulness awareness is applied at a special pitch. The
mind is deliberately kept at the level of bare attention, a
detached observation of what is happening within us and around us in the
present moment. In the practice of right mindfulness the mind is
trained to remain in the present, open, quiet, and alert, contemplating
the present event. All judgments and interpretations have to be
suspended, or if they occur, just registered and dropped. The task is
simply to note whatever comes up just as it is occurring, riding the
changes of events in the way a surfer rides the waves on the sea. The
whole process is a way of coming back into the present, of standing in
the here and now without slipping away, without getting swept away by
the tides of distracting thoughts.

It might be assumed that we are always aware of the present, but this
is a mirage. Only seldom do we become aware of the present in the
precise way required by the practice of mindfulness. In ordinary
consciousness the mind begins a cognitive process with some impression
given in the present, but it does not stay with it. Instead it uses the
immediate impression as a springboard for building blocks of mental
constructs which remove it from the sheer facticity of the datum. The
cognitive process is generally interpretative. The mind perceives its
object free from conceptualization only briefly. Then, immediately after
grasping the initial impression, it launches on a course of ideation by
which it seeks to interpret the object to itself, to make it
intelligible in terms of its own categories and assumptions. To bring
this about the mind posits concepts, joins the concepts into constructs —
sets of mutually corroborative concepts — then weaves the constructs
together into complex interpretative schemes. In the end the original
direct experience has been overrun by ideation and the presented object
appears only dimly through dense layers of ideas and views, like the
moon through a layer of clouds.

The Buddha calls this process of mental construction papañca,
“elaboration,” “embellishment,” or “conceptual proliferation.” The
elaborations block out the presentational immediacy of phenomena; they
let us know the object only “at a distance,” not as it really is. But
the elaborations do not only screen cognition; they also serve as a
basis for projections. The deluded mind, cloaked in ignorance, projects
its own internal constructs outwardly, ascribing them to the object as
if they really belonged to it. As a result, what we know as the final
object of cognition, what we use as the basis for our values, plans, and
actions, is a patchwork product, not the original article. To be sure,
the product is not wholly illusion, not sheer fantasy. It takes whatis
given in immediate experience as its groundwork and raw material, but
along with this it includes something else: the embellishments
fabricated by the mind.

The springs for this process of fabrication, hidden from view, are
the latent defilements. The defilements create the embellishments,
project them outwardly, and use them as hooks for coming to the surface,
where they cause further distortion. To correct the erroneous notions
is the task of wisdom, but for wisdom to discharge its work effectively,
it needs direct access to the object as it is in itself, uncluttered by
the conceptual elaborations. The task of right mindfulness is to clear
up the cognitive field. Mindfulness brings to light experience in its
pure immediacy. It reveals the object as it is before it has been
plastered over with conceptual paint, overlaid with interpretations. To
practice mindfulness is thus a matter not so much of doing but of
undoing: not thinking, not judging, not associating, not planning, not
imagining, not wishing. All these “doings” of ours are modes of
interference, ways the mind manipulates experience and tries to
establish its dominance. Mindfulness undoes the knots and tangles of
these “doings” by simply noting. It does nothing but note, watching each
occasion of experience as it arises, stands, and passes away. In the
watching there is no room for clinging, no compulsion to saddle things
with our desires. There is only a sustained contemplation of experience
in its bare immediacy, carefully and precisely and persistently.

Mindfulness exercises a powerful grounding function. It anchors the
mind securely in the present, so it does not float away into the past
and future with their memories, regrets, fears, and hopes. The mind
without mindfulness is sometimes compared to a pumpkin, the mind
established in mindfulness to a stone.50
A pumpkin placed on the surface of a pond soon floats away and always
remains on the water’s surface. But a stone does not float away; it
stays where it is put and at once sinks into the water until it reaches
bottom. Similarly, when mindfulness is strong, the mind stays with its
object and penetrates its characteristics deeply. It does not wander and
merely skim the surface as the mind destitute of mindfulness does.

Mindfulness facilitates the achievement of both serenity and insight.
It can lead to either deep concentration or wisdom, depending on the
mode in which it is applied. Merely a slight shift in the mode of
application can spell the difference between the course the
contemplative process takes, whether it descends to deeper levels of
inner calm culminating in the stages of absorption, the jhanas,
or whether instead it strips away the veils of delusion to arrive at
penetrating insight. To lead to the stages of serenity the primary chore
of mindfulness is to keep the mind on the object, free from straying.
Mindfulness serves as the guard charged with the responsibility of
making sure that the mind does not slip away from the object to lose
itself in random undirected thoughts. It also keeps watch over the
factors stirring in the mind, catching the hindrances beneath their
camouflages and expelling them before they can cause harm. To lead to
insight and the realizations of wisdom, mindfulness is exercised in a
more differentiated manner. Its task, in this phase of practice, is to
observe, to note, to discern phenomena with utmost precision until their
fundamental characteristics are brought to light.

Right mindfulness is cultivated through a practice called “the four foundations of mindfulness” (cattaro satipatthana), the mindful contemplation of four objective spheres: the body, feelings, states of mind, and phenomena.51 As the Buddha explains:

And what, monks, is right mindfulness? Herein, a monk dwells
contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and
mindful, having put away covetousness and grief concerning the world. He
dwells contemplating feelings in feelings… states of mind in states
of mind… phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending and
mindful, having put away covetousness and grief concerning the world.52

The Buddha says that the four foundations of mindfulness form “the
only way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of
sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering
upon the right path and the realization of Nibbana.”53 They are called “the only way” (ekayano maggo),
not for the purpose of setting forth a narrow dogmatism, but to
indicate that the attainment of liberation can only issue from the
penetrating contemplation of the field of experience undertaken in the
practice of right mindfulness.

Of the four applications of mindfulness, the contemplation of the
body is concerned with the material side of existence; the other three
are concerned principally (though not solely) with the mental side. The
completion of the practice requires all four contemplations. Though no
fixed order is laid down in which they are to be taken up, the body is
generally taken first as the basic sphere of contemplation; the others
come into view later, when mindfulness has gained in strength and
clarity. Limitations of space do not allow for a complete explanation of
all four foundations. Here we have to settle for a brief synopsis.

(1) Contemplation of the Body (kayanupassana)

The Buddha begins his exposition of the body with contemplation of the mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati).
Though not required as a starting point for meditation, in actual
practice mindfulness of breathing usually serves as the “root meditation
subject” (mulakammatthana), the foundation for the entire course
of contemplation. It would be a mistake, however, to consider this
subject merely an exercise for neophytes. By itself mindfulness of
breathing can lead to all the stages of the path culminating in full
awakening. In fact it was this meditation subject that the Buddha used
on the night of his own enlightenment. He also reverted to it throughout
the years during his solitary retreats, and constantly recommended it
to the monks, praising it as “peaceful and sublime, an unadulterated
blissful abiding, which banishes at once and stills evil unwholesome
thoughts as soon as they arise” (MN 118).

Mindfulness of breathing can function so effectively as a subject of
meditation because it works with a process that is always available to
us, the process of respiration. What it does to turn this process into a
basis for meditation is simply to bring it into the range of awareness
by making the breath an object of observation. The meditation requires
no special intellectual sophistication, only awareness of the breath.
One merely breathes naturally through the nostrils keeping the breath in
mind at the contact point around the nostrils or upper lip, where the
sensation of breath can be felt as the air moves in and out. There
should be no attempt to control the breath or to force it into
predetermined rhythms, only a mindful contemplation of the natural
process of breathing in and out. The awareness of breath cuts through
the complexities of discursive thinking, rescues us from pointless
wandering in the labyrinth of vain imaginings, and grounds us solidly in
the present. For whenever we become aware of breathing, really aware of
it, we can be aware of it only in the present, never in the past or the
future.

The Buddha’s exposition of mindfulness of breathing involves four
basic steps. The first two (which are not necessarily sequential)
require that a long inhalation or exhalation be noted as it occurs, and
that a short inhalation or exhalation be noted as it occurs. One simply
observes the breath moving in and out, observing it as closely as
possible, noting whether the breath is long or short. As mindfulness
grows sharper, the breath can be followed through the entire course of
its movement, from the beginning of an inhalation through its
intermediary stages to its end, then from the beginning of an exhalation
through its intermediary stages to its end. This third step is called
“clearly perceiving the entire (breath) body.” The fourth step, “calming
the bodily function,” involves a progressive quieting down of the
breath and its associated bodily functions until they become extremely
fine and subtle. Beyond these four basic steps lie more advanced
practices which direct mindfulness of breathing towards deep
concentration and insight.54

Another practice in the contemplation of the body, which extends
meditation outwards from the confines of a single fixed position, is
mindfulness of the postures. The body can assume four basic postures —
walking, standing, sitting, and lying down — and a variety of other
positions marking the change from one posture to another. Mindfulness of
the postures focuses full attention on the body in whatever position it
assumes: when walking one is aware of walking, when standing one is
aware of standing, when sitting one is aware of sitting, when lying down
one is aware of lying down, when changing postures one is aware of
changing postures. The contemplation of the postures illuminates the
impersonal nature of the body. It reveals that the body is not a self or
the belonging of a self, but merely a configuration of living matter
subject to the directing influence of volition.

The next exercise carries the extension of mindfulness a step
further. This exercise, called “mindfulness and clear comprehension” (satisampajañña),
adds to the bare awareness an element of understanding. When performing
any action, one performs it with full awareness or clear comprehension.
Going and coming, looking ahead and looking aside, bending and
stretching, dressing, eating, drinking, urinating, defecating, falling
asleep, waking up, speaking, remaining silent — all become occasions for
the progress of meditation when done with clear comprehension. In the
commentaries clear comprehension is explained as fourfold: (1)
understanding the purpose of the action, i.e., recognizing its aim and
determining whether that aim accords with the Dhamma; (2) understanding
suitability, i.e., knowing the most efficient means to achieve one’s
aim; (3) understanding the range of meditation, i.e., keeping the mind
constantly in a meditative frame even when engaged in action; and (4)
understanding without delusion, i.e., seeing the action as an impersonal
process devoid of a controlling ego-entity.55 This last aspect will be explored more thoroughly in the last chapter, on the development of wisdom.

The next two sections on mindfulness of the body present analytical
contemplations intended to expose the body’s real nature. One of these
is the meditation on the body’s unattractiveness, already touched on in
connection with right effort; the other, the analysis of the body into
the four primary elements. The first, the meditation on
unattractiveness,56
is designed to counter infatuation with the body, especially in its
form of sexual desire. The Buddha teaches that the sexual drive is a
manifestation of craving, thus a cause of dukkha that has to be reduced and extricated as a precondition for bringing dukkha
to an end. The meditation aims at weakening sexual desire by depriving
the sexual urge of its cognitive underpinning, the perception of the
body as sensually alluring. Sensual desire rises and falls together with
this perception. It springs up because we view the body as attractive;
it declines when this perception of beauty is removed. The perception of
bodily attractiveness in turn lasts only so long as the body is looked
at superficially, grasped in terms of selected impressions. To counter
that perception we have to refuse to stop with these impressions but
proceed to inspect the body at a deeper level, with a probing scrutiny
grounded in dispassion.

Precisely this is what is undertaken in the meditation on
unattractiveness, which turns back the tide of sensuality by pulling
away its perceptual prop. The meditation takes one’s own body as object,
since for a neophyte to start off with the body of another, especially a
member of the opposite sex, might fail to accomplish the desired
result. Using visualization as an aid, one mentally dissects the body
into its components and investigates them one by one, bringing their
repulsive nature to light. The texts mention thirty-two parts:
head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones,
marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, large
intestines, small intestines, stomach contents, excrement, brain, bile,
phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, snot, spittle, sinovial
fluid, and urine. The repulsiveness of the parts implies the same for
the whole: the body seen closeup is truly unattractive, its beautiful
appearance a mirage. But the aim of this meditation must not be
misapprehended. The aim is not to produce aversion and disgust but
detachment, to extinguish the fire of lust by removing its fuel.57

The other analytical contemplation deals with the body in a different way. This meditation, called the analysis into elements (dhatuvavatthana),
sets out to counter our innate tendency to identify with the body by
exposing the body’s essentially impersonal nature. The means it employs,
as its name indicates, is the mental dissection of the body into the
four primary elements, referred to by the archaic names earth, water,
fire, and air, but actually signifying the four principal behavioral
modes of matter: solidity, fluidity, heat, and oscillation. The solid
element is seen most clearly in the body’s solid parts — the organs,
tissues, and bones; the fluid element, in the bodily fluids; the heat
element, in the body’s temperature; the oscillation element, in the
respiratory process. The break with the identification of the body as
“I” or “my self” is effected by a widening of perspective after the
elements have come into view. Having analyzed the body into the
elements, one then considers that all four elements, the chief aspects
of bodily existence, are essentially identical with the chief aspects of
external matter, with which the body is in constant interchange. When
one vividly realizes this through prolonged meditation, one ceases to
identify with the body, ceases to cling to it. One sees that the body is
nothing more than a particular configuration of changing material
processes which support a stream of changing mental processes. There is
nothing here that can be considered a truly existent self, nothing that
can provide a substantial basis for the sense of personal identity.58

The last exercise in mindfulness of the body is a series of “cemetery
meditations,” contemplations of the body’s disintegration after death,
which may be performed either imaginatively, with the aid of pictures,
or through direct confrontation with a corpse. By any of these means one
obtains a clear mental image of a decomposing body, then applies the
process to one’s own body, considering: “This body, now so full of life,
has the same nature and is subject to the same fate. It cannot escape
death, cannot escape disintegration, but must eventually die and
decompose.” Again, the purpose of this meditation should not be
misunderstood. The aim is not to indulge in a morbid fascination with
death and corpses, but to sunder our egoistic clinging to existence with
a contemplation sufficiently powerful to break its hold. The clinging
to existence subsists through the implicit assumption of permanence. In
the sight of a corpse we meet the teacher who proclaims unambiguously:
“Everything formed is impermanent.”

(2) Contemplation of Feeling (vedananupassana)

The next foundation of mindfulness is feeling (vedana). The
word “feeling” is used here, not in the sense of emotion (a complex
phenomenon best subsumed under the third and fourth foundations of
mindfulness), but in the narrower sense of the affective tone or
“hedonic quality” of experience. This may be of three kinds, yielding
three principal types of feeling: pleasant feeling, painful feeling, and
neutral feeling. The Buddha teaches that feeling is an inseparable
concomitant of consciousness, since every act of knowing is colored by
some affective tone. Thus feeling is present at every moment of
experience; it may be strong or weak, clear or indistinct, but some
feeling must accompany the cognition.

Feeling arises in dependence on a mental event called “contact” (phassa).
Contact marks the “coming together” of consciousness with the object
via a sense faculty; it is the factor by virtue of which consciousness
“touches” the object presenting itself to the mind through the sense
organ. Thus there are six kinds of contact distinguished by the six
sense faculties — eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact,
tongue-contact, body-contact, and mind-contact — and six kinds of
feeling distinguished by the contact from which they spring.

Feeling acquires special importance as an object of contemplation
because it is feeling that usually triggers the latent defilements into
activity. The feelings may not be clearly registered, but in subtle ways
they nourish and sustain the dispositions to unwholesome states. Thus
when a pleasant feeling arises, we fall under the influence of the
defilement greed and cling to it. When a painful feeling occurs, we
respond with displeasure, hate, and fear, which are aspects of aversion.
And when a neutral feeling occurs, we generally do not notice it, or
let it lull us into a false sense of security — states of mind governed
by delusion. From this it can be seen that each of the root defilements
is conditioned by a particular kind of feeling: greed by pleasant
feeling, aversion by painful feeling, delusion by neutral feeling.

But the link between feelings and the defilements is not a necessary
one. Pleasure does not always have to lead to greed, pain to aversion,
neutral feeling to delusion. The tie between them can be snapped, and
one essential means for snapping it is mindfulness. Feeling will stir up
a defilement only when it is not noticed, when it is indulged rather
than observed. By turning it into an object of observation, mindfulness
defuses the feeling so that it cannot provoke an unwholesome response.
Then, instead of relating to the feeling by way of habit through
attachment, repulsion, or apathy, we relate by way of contemplation,
using the feeling as a springboard for understanding the nature of
experience.

In the early stages the contemplation of feeling involves attending
to the arisen feelings, noting their distinctive qualities: pleasant,
painful, neutral. The feeling is noted without identifying with it,
without taking it to be “I” or “mine” or something happening “to me.”
Awareness is kept at the level of bare attention: one watches each
feeling that arises, seeing it as merely a feeling, a bare mental event
shorn of all subjective references, all pointers to an ego. The task is
simply to note the feeling’s quality, its tone of pleasure, pain, or
neutrality.

But as practice advances, as one goes on noting each feeling, letting
it go and noting the next, the focus of attention shifts from the
qualities of feelings to the process of feeling itself. The process
reveals a ceaseless flux of feelings arising and dissolving, succeeding
one another without a halt. Within the process there is nothing lasting.
Feeling itself is only a stream of events, occasions of feeling
flashing into being moment by moment, dissolving as soon as they arise.
Thus begins the insight into impermanence, which, as it evolves,
overturns the three unwholesome roots. There is no greed for pleasant
feelings, no aversion for painful feelings, no delusion over neutral
feelings. All are seen as merely fleeting and substanceless events
devoid of any true enjoyment or basis for involvement.

(3) Contemplation of the State of Mind (cittanupassana)

With this foundation of mindfulness we turn from a particular mental
factor, feeling, to the general state of mind to which that factor
belongs. To understand what is entailed by this contemplation it is
helpful to look at the Buddhist conception of the mind. Usually we think
of the mind as an enduring faculty remaining identical with itself
through the succession of experiences. Though experience changes, the
mind which undergoes the changing experience seems to remain the same,
perhaps modified in certain ways but still retaining its identity.
However, in the Buddha’s teaching the notion of a permanent mental organ
is rejected. The mind is regarded, not as a lasting subject of thought,
feeling, and volition, but as a sequence of momentary mental acts, each
distinct and discrete, their connections with one another causal rather
than substantial.

A single act of consciousness is called a citta, which we
shall render “a state of mind.” Each citta consists of many components,
the chief of which is consciousness itself, the basic experiencing of
the object; consciousness is also called citta, the name for the
whole being given to its principal part. Along with consciousness every
citta contains a set of concomitants called cetasikas, mental
factors. These include feeling, perception, volition, the emotions,
etc.; in short, all the mental functions except the primary knowing of
the object, which is citta or consciousness.

Since consciousness in itself is just a bare experiencing of an
object, it cannot be differentiated through its own nature but only by
way of its associated factors, the cetasikas. The cetasikas color the
citta and give it its distinctive character; thus when we want to
pinpoint the citta as an object of contemplation, we have to do so by
using the cetasikas as indicators. In his exposition of the
contemplation of the state of mind, the Buddha mentions, by reference to
cetasikas, sixteen kinds of citta to be noted: the mind with lust, the
mind without lust, the mind with aversion, the mind without aversion,
the mind with delusion, the mind without delusion, the cramped mind, the
scattered mind, the developed mind, the undeveloped mind, the
surpassable mind, the unsurpassable mind, the concentrated mind, the
unconcentrated mind, the freed mind, the unfreed mind. For practical
purposes it is sufficient at the start to focus solely on the first six
states, noting whether the mind is associated with any of the
unwholesome roots or free from them. When a particular citta is present,
it is contemplated merely as a citta, a state of mind. It is not
identified with as “I” or “mine,” not taken as a self or as something
belonging to a self. Whether it is a pure state of mind or a defiled
state, a lofty state or a low one, there should be no elation or
dejection, only a clear recognition of the state. The state is simply
noted, then allowed to pass without clinging to the desired ones or
resenting the undesired ones.

As contemplation deepens, the contents of the mind become
increasingly rarefied. Irrelevant flights of thought, imagination, and
emotion subside, mindfulness becomes clearer, the mind remains intently
aware, watching its own process of becoming. At times there might appear
to be a persisting observer behind the process, but with continued
practice even this apparent observer disappears. The mind itself — the
seemingly solid, stable mind — dissolves into a stream of cittas
flashing in and out of being moment by moment, coming from nowhere and
going nowhere, yet continuing in sequence without pause.

(4) Contemplation of Phenomena (dhammanupassana)

In the context of the fourth foundation of mindfulness, the multivalent word dhamma (here intended in the plural) has two interconnected meanings, as the account in the sutta shows. One meaning is cetasikas,
the mental factors, which are now attended to in their own right apart
from their role as coloring the state of mind, as was done in the
previous contemplation. The other meaning is the elements of actuality,
the ultimate constituents of experience as structured in the Buddha’s
teaching.To convey both senses we render dhamma as “phenomena,” for lack of a better alternative. But when we do so this should not be taken to imply the existence of some noumenon or substance behind the phenomena.The point of the Buddha’s teaching of anatta, egolessness, is that the basic constituents of actuality are bare phenomena (suddha-dhamma) occurring without any noumenal support.

The sutta section on the contemplation of phenomena is divided into
five sub-sections, each devoted to a different set of phenomena: the
five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six inner and outer sense
bases, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Four Noble Truths.
Among these, the five hindrances and the seven enlightenment factors are
dhamma in the narrower sense of mental factors, the others are dhamma
in the broader sense of constituents of actuality. (In the third
section, however, on the sense bases, there is a reference to the
fetters that arise through the senses; these can also be included among
the mental factors.) In the present chapter we shall deal briefly only
with the two groups that may be regarded as dhamma in the sense
of mental factors. We already touched on both of these in relation to
right effort (Chapter V); now we shall consider them in specific
connection with the practice of right mindfulness. We shall discuss the
other types of dhamma — the five aggregates and the six senses — in the final chapter, in relation to the development of wisdom.

The five hindrances and seven factors of enlightenment require
special attention because they are the principal impediments and aids to
liberation. The hindrances — sensual desire, ill will, dullness and
drowsiness, restlessness and worry, and doubt — generally become
manifest in an early stage of practice, soon after the initial
expectations and gross disturbances subside and the subtle tendencies
find the opportunity to surface. Whenever one of the hindrances crops
up, its presence should be noted; then, when it fades away, a note
should be made of its disappearance. To ensure that the hindrances are
kept under control an element of comprehension is needed: we have to
understand how the hindrances arise, how they can be removed, and how
they can be prevented from arising in the future.59

A similar mode of contemplation is to be applied to the seven factors
of enlightenment: mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture,
tranquillity, concentration, and equanimity. When any one of these
factors arises, its presence should be noted. Then, after noting its
presence, one has to investigate to discover how it arises and how it
can be matured.60
When they first spring up, the enlightenment factors are weak, but with
consistent cultivation they accumulate strength. Mindfulness initiates
the contemplative process. When it becomes well-established, it arouses
investigation, the probing quality of intelligence. Investigation in
turn calls forth energy, energy gives rise to rapture, rapture leads to
tranquillity, tranquillity to one-pointed concentration, and
concentration to equanimity. Thus the whole evolving course of practice
leading to enlightenment begins with mindfulness, which remains
throughout as the regulating power ensuring that the mind is clear,
cognizant, and balanced.



Chapter VII [go up]
Right Concentration
(Samma Samadhi)

The eighth factor of the path is right concentration, in Pali samma samadhi.
Concentration represents an intensification of a mental factor present
in every state of consciousness. This factor, one-pointedness of mind (citt’ekaggata),
has the function of unifying the other mental factors in the task of
cognition. It is the factor responsible for the individuating aspect of
consciousness, ensuring that every citta or act of mind remains centered
on its object. At any given moment the mind must be cognizant of
something — a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch, or a mental
object. The factor of one-pointedness unifies the mind and its other
concomitants in the task of cognizing the object, while it
simultaneously exercises the function of centering all the constituents
of the cognitive act on the object. One-pointedness of mind explains the
fact that in any act of consciousness there is a central point of
focus, towards which the entire objective datum points from its outer
peripheries to its inner nucleus.

However, samadhi is only a particular kind of one-pointedness;
it is not equivalent to one-pointedness in its entirety. A gourmet
sitting down to a meal, an assassin about to slay his victim, a soldier
on the battlefield — these all act with a concentrated mind, but their
concentration cannot be characterized as samadhi. Samadhi
is exclusively wholesome one-pointedness, the concentration in a
wholesome state of mind. Even then its range is still narrower: it does
not signify every form of wholesome concentration, but only the
intensified concentration that results from a deliberate attempt to
raise the mind to a higher, more purified level of awareness.

The commentaries define samadhi as the centering of the mind and mental factors rightly and evenly on an object. Samadhi,
as wholesome concentration, collects together the ordinarily dispersed
and dissipated stream of mental states to induce an inner unification.
The two salient features of a concentrated mind are unbroken
attentiveness to an object and the consequent tranquillity of the mental
functions, qualities which distinguish it from the unconcentrated mind.
The mind untrained in concentration moves in a scattered manner which
the Buddha compares to the flapping about of a fish taken from the water
and thrown onto dry land. It cannot stay fixed but rushes from idea to
idea, from thought to thought, without inner control. Such a distracted
mind is also a deluded mind. Overwhelmed by worries and concerns, a
constant prey to the defilements, it sees things only in fragments,
distorted by the ripples of random thoughts. But the mind that has been
trained in concentration, in contrast, can remain focused on its object
without distraction. This freedom from distraction further induces a
softness and serenity which make the mind an effective instrument for
penetration. Like a lake unruffled by any breeze, the concentrated mind
is a faithful reflector that mirrors whatever is placed before it
exactly as it is.

The Development of Concentration

Concentration can be developed through either of two methods — either
as the goal of a system of practice directed expressly towards the
attainment of deep concentration at the level of absorption or as the
incidental accompaniment of the path intended to generate insight. The
former method is called the development of serenity (samatha-bhavana), the second the development of insight (vipassana-bhavana).
Both paths share certain preliminary requirements. For both, moral
discipline must be purified, the various impediments must be severed,
the meditator must seek out suitable instruction (preferrably from a
personal teacher), and must resort to a dwelling conducive to practice.
Once these preliminaries have been dispensed with, the meditator on the
path of serenity has to obtain an object of meditation, something to be
used as a focal point for developing concentration.61

If the meditator has a qualified teacher, the teacher will probably
assign him an object judged to be appropriate for his temperament. If he
doesn’t have a teacher, he will have to select an object himself,
perhaps after some experimentation. The meditation manuals collect the
subjects of serenity meditation into a set of forty, called “places of
work” (kammatthana) since they are the places where the meditator does the work of practice. The forty may be listed as follows:

ten kasinas
ten unattractive objects (dasa asubha)
ten recollections (dasa anussatiyo)
four sublime states (cattaro brahmavihara)
four immaterial states (cattaro aruppa)
one perception (eka sañña)
one analysis (eka vavatthana).

The kasinas are devices representing certain primordial qualities.
Four represent the primary elements — the earth, water, fire, and air
kasinas; four represent colors — the blue, yellow, red, and white
kasinas; the other two are the light and the space kasinas. Each kasina
is a concrete object representative of the universal quality it
signifies. Thus an earth kasina would be a circular disk filled with
clay. To develop concentration on the earth kasina the meditator sets
the disk in front of him, fixes his gaze on it, and contemplates “earth,
earth.” A similar method is used for the other kasinas, with
appropriate changes to fit the case.

The ten “unattractive objects” are corpses in different stages of
decomposition. This subject appears similar to the contemplation of
bodily decay in the mindfulness of the body, and in fact in olden times
the cremation ground was recommended as the most appropriate place for
both. But the two meditations differ in emphasis. In the mindfulness
exercise stress falls on the application of reflective thought, the
sight of the decaying corpse serving as a stimulus for consideration of
one’s own eventual death and disintegration. In this exercise the use of
reflective thought is discouraged. The stress instead falls on
one-pointed mental fixation on the object, the less thought the better.

The ten recollections form a miscellaneous collection. The first
three are devotional meditations on the qualities of the Triple Gem —
the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha; they use as their basis standard
formulas that have come down in the Suttas. The next three
recollections also rely on ancient formulas: the meditations on
morality, generosity, and the potential for divine-like qualities in
oneself. Then come mindfulness of death, the contemplation of the
unattractive nature of the body, mindfulness of breathing, and lastly,
the recollection of peace, a discursive meditation on Nibbana.

The four sublime states or “divine abodes” are the outwardly directed
social attitudes — loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and
equanimity — developed into universal radiations which are gradually
extended in range until they encompass all living beings. The four
immaterial states are the objective bases for certain deep levels of
absorption: the base of infinite space, the base of infinite
consciousness, the base of nothingness, and the base of
neither-perception-nor-non-perception. These become accessible as
objects only to those who are already adept in concentration. The “one
perception” is the perception of the repulsiveness of food, a discursive
topic intended to reduce attachment to the pleasures of the palate. The
“one analysis” is the contemplation of the body in terms of the four
primary elements, already discussed in the chapter on right mindfulness.

When such a variety of meditation subjects is presented, the aspiring
meditator without a teacher might be perplexed as to which to choose.
The manuals divide the forty subjects according to their suitability for
different personality types. Thus the unattractive objects and the
contemplation of the parts of the body are judged to be most suitable
for a lustful type, the meditation on loving-kindness to be best for a
hating type, the meditation on the qualities of the Triple Gem to be
most effective for a devotional type, etc. But for practical purposes
the beginner in meditation can generally be advised to start with a
simple subject that helps reduce discursive thinking. Mental distraction
caused by restlessness and scattered thoughts is a common problem faced
by persons of all different character types; thus a meditator of any
temperament can benefit from a subject which promotes a slowing down and
stilling of the thought process. The subject generally recommended for
its effectiveness in clearing the mind of stray thoughts is mindfulness
of breathing, which can therefore be suggested as the subject most
suitable for beginners as well as veterans seeking a direct approach to
deep concentration. Once the mind settles down and one’s thought
patterns become easier to notice, one might then make use of other
subjects to deal with special problems that arise: the meditation on
loving-kindness may be used to counteract anger and ill will,
mindfulness of the bodily parts to weaken sensual lust, the recollection
of the Buddha to inspire faith and devotion, the meditation on death to
arouse a sense of urgency. The ability to select the subject
appropriate to the situation requires skill, but this skill evolves
through practice, often through simple trial-and-error experimentation.

The Stages of Concentration

Concentration is not attained all at once but develops in stages. To
enable our exposition to cover all the stages of concentration, we will
consider the case of a meditator who follows the entire path of serenity
meditation from start to finish, and who will make much faster progress
than the typical meditator is likely to make.

After receiving his meditation subject from a teacher, or selecting
it on his own, the meditator retires to a quiet place. There he assumes
the correct meditation posture — the legs crossed comfortably, the upper
part of the body held straight and erect, hands placed one above the
other on the lap, the head kept steady, the mouth and eyes closed
(unless a kasina or other visual object is used), the breath flowing
naturally and regularly through the nostrils. He then focuses his mind
on the object and tries to keep it there, fixed and alert. If the mind
strays, he notices this quickly, catches it, and brings it back gently
but firmly to the object, doing this over and over as often as is
necessary. This initial stage is called preliminary concentration (parikkamma-samadhi) and the object the preliminary sign (parikkamma-nimitta).

Once the initial excitement subsides and the mind begins to settle
into the practice, the five hindrances are likely to arise, bubbling up
from the depths. Sometimes they appear as thoughts, sometimes as images,
sometimes as obsessive emotions: surges of desire, anger and
resentment, heaviness of mind, agitation, doubts. The hindrances pose a
formidable barrier, but with patience and sustained effort they can be
overcome. To conquer them the meditator will have to be adroit. At
times, when a particular hindrance becomes strong, he may have to lay
aside his primary subject of meditation and take up another subject
expressly opposed to the hindrance. At other times he will have to
persist with his primary subject despite the bumps along the road,
bringing his mind back to it again and again.

As he goes on striving along the path of concentration, his exertion
activates five mental factors which come to his aid. These factors are
intermittently present in ordinary undirected consciousness, but there
they lack a unifying bond and thus do not play any special role.
However, when activated by the work of meditation, these five factors
pick up power, link up with one another, and steer the mind towards samadhi, which they will govern as the “jhana factors,” the factors of absorption (jhananga). Stated in their usual order the five are: initial application of mind (vitakka), sustained application of mind (vicara), rapture (piti), happiness (sukha), and one-pointedness (ekaggata).

Initial application of mind does the work of directing the
mind to the object. It takes the mind, lifts it up, and drives it into
the object the way one drives a nail through a block of wood. This done,
sustained application of mind anchors the mind on the object,
keeping it there through its function of examination. To clarify the
difference between these two factors, initial application is compared to
the striking of a bell, sustained application to the bell’s
reverberations. Rapture, the third factor, is the delight and joy that accompany a favorable interest in the object, while happiness,
the fourth factor, is the pleasant feeling that accompanies successful
concentration. Since rapture and happiness share similar qualities they
tend to be confused with each other, but the two are not identical. The
difference between them is illustrated by comparing rapture to the joy
of a weary desert-farer who sees an oasis in the distance, happiness to
his pleasure when drinking from the pond and resting in the shade. The
fifth and final factor of absorption is one-pointedness, which has the pivotal function of unifying the mind on the object.62

When concentration is developed, these five factors spring up and
counteract the five hindrances. Each absorption factor opposes a
particular hindrance. Initial application of mind, through its work of
lifting the mind up to the object, counters dullness and drowsiness.
Sustained application, by anchoring the mind on the object, drives away
doubt. Rapture shuts out ill will, happiness excludes restlessness and
worry, and one-pointedness counters sensual desire, the most alluring
inducement to distraction. Thus, with the strengthening of the
absorption factors, the hindrances fade out and subside. They are not
yet eradicated — eradication can only be effected by wisdom, the third
division of the path — but they have been reduced to a state of
quiescence where they cannot disrupt the forward movement of
concentration.

At the same time that the hindrances are being overpowered by the
jhana factors inwardly, on the side of the object too certain changes
are taking place. The original object of concentration, the preliminary
sign, is a gross physical object; in the case of a kasina, it is a disk
representing the chosen element or color, in the case of mindfulness of
breathing the touch sensation of the breath, etc. But with the
strengthening of concentration the original object gives rise to another
object called the “learning sign” (uggaha-nimitta). For a kasina
this will be a mental image of the disk seen as clearly in the mind as
the original object was with the eyes; for the breath it will be a
reflex image arisen from the touch sensation of the air currents moving
around the nostrils.

When the learning sign appears, the meditator leaves off the
preliminary sign and fixes his attention on the new object. In due time
still another object will emerge out of the learning sign. This object,
called the “counterpart sign” (patibhaga-nimitta), is a purified
mental image many times brighter and clearer than the learning sign. The
learning sign is compared to the moon seen behind a cloud, the
counterpart sign to the moon freed from the cloud. Simultaneously with
the appearance of the counterpart sign, the five absorption factors
suppress the five hindrances, and the mind enters the stage of
concentration called upacara-samadhi, “access concentration.”
Here, in access concentration, the mind is drawing close to absorption.
It has entered the “neighbourhood” (a possible meaning of upacara) of absorption, but more work is still needed for it to become fully immersed in the object, the defining mark of absorption.

With further practice the factors of concentration gain in strength and bring the mind to absorption (appana-samadhi).
Like access concentration, absorption takes the counterpart sign as
object. The two stages of concentration are differentiated neither by
the absence of the hindrances nor by the counterpart sign as object;
these are common to both. What differentiates them is the strength of
the jhana factors. In access concentration the jhana factors are
present, but they lack strength and steadiness. Thus the mind in this
stage is compared to a child who has just learned to walk: he takes a
few steps, falls down, gets up, walks some more, and again falls down.
But the mind in absorption is like a man who wants to walk: he just gets
up and walks straight ahead without hesitation.

Concentration in the stage of absorption is divided into eight
levels, each marked by greater depth, purity, and subtlety than its
predecessor. The first four form a set called the four jhanas, a word best left untranslated for lack of a suitable equivalent, though it can be loosely rendered “meditative absorption.”63 The second four also form a set, the four immaterial states (aruppa).
The eight have to be attained in progressive order, the achievement of
any later level being dependent on the mastery of the immediately
preceding level.

The four jhanas make up the usual textual definition of right concentration. Thus the Buddha says:

And what, monks, is right concentration? Herein, secluded from sense
pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters and dwells in
the first jhana, which is accompanied by initial and sustained
application of mind and filled with rapture and happiness born of
seclusion.

Then, with the subsiding of initial and sustained application of
mind, by gaining inner confidence and mental unification, he enters and
dwells in the second jhana, which is free from initial and sustained
application but is filled with rapture and happiness born of
concentration.

With the fading out of rapture, he dwells in equanimity, mindful and
clearly comprehending; and he experiences in his own person that bliss
of which the noble ones say: “Happily lives he who is equanimous and
mindful” — thus he enters and dwells in the third jhana.

With the abandoning of pleasure and pain and with the previous
disappearance of joy and grief, he enters and dwells in the fourth
jhana, which has neither-pleasure-nor-pain and purity of mindfulness due
to equanimity.

This, monks, is right concentration.64

The jhanas are distinguished by way of their component factors. The
first jhana is constituted by the original set of five absorption
factors: initial application, sustained application, rapture, happiness,
and one-pointedness. After attaining the first jhana the meditator is
advised to master it. On the one hand he should not fall into
complacency over his achievement and neglect sustained practice; on the
other, he should not become over-confident and rush ahead to attain the
next jhana. To master the jhana he should enter it repeatedly and
perfect his skill in it, until he can attain it, remain in it, emerge
from it, and review it without any trouble or difficulty.

After mastering the first jhana, the meditator then considers that
his attainment has certain defects. Though the jhana is certainly far
superior to ordinary sense consciousness, more peaceful and blissful, it
still stands close to sense consciousness and is not far removed from
the hindrances. Moreover, two of its factors, initial application and
sustained application, appear in time to be rather coarse, not as
refined as the other factors. Then the meditator renews his practice of
concentration intent on overcoming initial and sustained application.
When his faculties mature, these two factors subside and he enters the
second jhana. This jhana contains only three component factors: rapture,
happiness, and one-pointedness. It also contains a multiplicity of
other constituents, the most prominent of which is confidence of mind.

In the second jhana the mind becomes more tranquil and more
thoroughly unified, but when mastered even this state seems gross, as it
includes rapture, an exhilarating factor that inclines to excitation.
So the meditator sets out again on his course of training, this time
resolved on overcoming rapture. When rapture fades out, he enters the
third jhana. Here there are only two absorption factors, happiness and
one-pointedness, while some other auxiliary states come into ascendency,
most notably mindfulness, clear comprehension, and equanimity. But
still, the meditator sees, this attainment is defective in that it
contains the feeling of happiness, which is gross compared to neutral
feeling, feeling that is neither pleasant not painful. Thus he strives
to get beyond even the sublime happiness of the third jhana. When he
succeeds, he enters the fourth jhana, which is defined by two factors —
one-pointedness and neutral feeling — and has a special purity of
mindfulness due to the high level of equanimity.

Beyond the four jhanas lie the four immaterial states, levels of
absorption in which the mind transcends even the subtlest perception of
visualized images still sometimes persisting in the jhanas. The
immaterial states are attained, not by refining mental factors as are
the jhanas, but by refining objects, by replacing a relatively gross
object with a subtler one. The four attainments are named after their
respective objects: the base of infinite space, the base of infinite
consciousness, the base of nothingness, and the base of
neither-perception-nor-non-perception.65
These states represent levels of concentration so subtle and remote as
to elude clear verbal explanation. The last of the four stands at the
apex of mental concentration; it is the absolute, maximum degree of
unification possible for consciousness. But even so, these absorptions
reached by the path of serenity meditation, as exalted as they are,
still lack the wisdom of insight, and so are not yet sufficient for
gaining deliverance.

The kinds of concentration discussed so far arise by fixing the mind
upon a single object to the exclusion of other objects. But apart from
these there is another kind of concentration which does not depend upon
restricting the range of awareness. This is called “momentary
concentration” (khanika-samadhi). To develop momentary
concentration the meditator does not deliberately attempt to exclude the
multiplicity of phenomena from his field of attention. Instead, he
simply directs mindfulness to the changing states of mind and body,
noting any phenomenon that presents itself; the task is to maintain a
continuous awareness of whatever enters the range of perception,
clinging to nothing. As he goes on with his noting, concentration
becomes stronger moment after moment until it becomes established
one-pointedly on the constantly changing stream of events. Despite the
change in the object, the mental unification remains steady, and in time
acquires a force capable of suppressing the hindrances to a degree
equal to that of access concentration. This fluid, mobile concentration
is developed by the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness,
taken up along the path of insight; when sufficiently strong it issues
in the breakthrough to the last stage of the path, the arising of
wisdom.



Chapter VIII [go up]
The Development of Wisdom

Though right concentration claims the last place among the factors of
the Noble Eightfold Path, concentration itself does not mark the path’s
culmination. The attainment of concentration makes the mind still and
steady, unifies its concomitants, opens vast vistas of bliss, serenity,
and power. But by itself it does not suffice to reach the highest
accomplishment, release from the bonds of suffering. To reach the end of
suffering demands that the Eightfold Path be turned into an instrument
of discovery, that it be used to generate the insights unveiling the
ultimate truth of things. This requires the combined contributions of
all eight factors, and thus a new mobilization of right view and right
intention. Up to the present point these first two path factors have
performed only a preliminary function. Now they have to be taken up
again and raised to a higher level. Right view is to become a direct
seeing into the real nature of phenomena, previously grasped only
conceptually; right intention, to become a true renunciation of
defilements born out of deep understanding.

Before we turn to the development of wisdom, it will be helpful to
inquire why concentration is not adequate to the attainment of
liberation. Concentration does not suffice to bring liberation because
it fails to touch the defilements at their fundamental level. The Buddha
teaches that the defilements are stratified into three layers: the
stage of latent tendency, the stage of manifestation, and the stage of
transgression. The most deeply grounded is the level of latent tendency (anusaya), where a defilement merely lies dormant without displaying any activity. The second level is the stage of manifestation (pariyutthana),
where a defilement, through the impact of some stimulus, surges up in
the form of unwholesome thoughts, emotions, and volitions. Then, at the
third level, the defilement passes beyond a purely mental manifestation
to motivate some unwholesome action of body or speech. Hence this level
is called the stage of transgression (vitikkama).

The three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path provide the check
against this threefold layering of the defilements. The first, the
training in moral discipline, restrains unwholesome bodily and verbal
activity and thus prevents defilements from reaching the stage of
transgression. The training in concentration provides the safeguard
against the stage of manifestation. It removes already manifest
defilements and protects the mind from their continued influx. But even
though concentration may be pursued to the depths of full absorption, it
cannot touch the basic source of affliction — the latent tendencies
lying dormant in the mental continuum. Against these concentration is
powerless, since to root them out calls for more than mental calm. What
it calls for, beyond the composure and serenity of the unified mind, is
wisdom (pañña), a penetrating vision of phenomena in their fundamental mode of being.

Wisdom alone can cut off the latent tendencies at their root because
the most fundamental member of the set, the one which nurtures the
others and holds them in place, is ignorance (avijja), and wisdom
is the remedy for ignorance. Though verbally a negative, “unknowing,”
ignorance is not a factual negative, a mere privation of right
knowledge. It is, rather, an insidious and volatile mental factor
incessantly at work inserting itself into every compartment of our inner
life. It distorts cognition, dominates volition, and determines the
entire tone of our existence. As the Buddha says: “The element of
ignorance is indeed a powerful element” (SN 14:13).

At the cognitive level, which is its most basic sphere of operation,
ignorance infiltrates our perceptions, thoughts, and views, so that we
come to misconstrue our experience, overlaying it with multiple strata
of delusions. The most important of these delusions are three: the
delusions of seeing permanence in the impermanent, of seing satisfaction
in the unsatisfactory, and of seeing a self in the selfless.66
Thus we take ourselves and our world to be solid, stable, enduring
entities, despite the ubiquitous reminders that everything is subject to
change and destruction. We assume we have an innate right to pleasure,
and direct our efforts to increasing and intensifying our enjoyment with
an anticipatory fervor undaunted by repeated encounters with pain,
disappointment, and frustration. And we perceive ourselves as
self-contained egos, clinging to the various ideas and images we form of
ourselves as the irrefragable truth of our identity.

Whereas ignorance obscures the true nature of things, wisdom removes
the veils of distortion, enabling us to see phenomena in their
fundamental mode of being with the vivacity of direct perception. The
training in wisdom centers on the development of insight (vipassana-bhavana),
a deep and comprehensive seeing into the nature of existence which
fathoms the truth of our being in the only sphere where it is directly
accessible to us, namely, in our own experience. Normally we are
immersed in our experience, identified with it so completely that we do
not comprehend it. We live it but fail to understand its nature. Due to
this blindness experience comes to be misconstrued, worked upon by the
delusions of permanence, pleasure, and self. Of these cognitive
distortions, the most deeply grounded and resistant is the delusion of
self, the idea that at the core of our being there exists a truly
established “I” with which we are essentially identified. This notion of
self, the Buddha teaches, is an error, a mere presupposition lacking a
real referent. Yet, though a mere presupposition, the idea of self is
not inconsequential. To the contrary, it entails consequences that can
be calamitous. Because we make the view of self the lookout point from
which we survey the world, our minds divide everything up into the
dualities of “I” and “not I,” what is “mine” and what is “not mine.”
Then, trapped in these dichotomies, we fall victim to the defilements
they breed, the urges to grasp and destroy, and finally to the suffering
that inevitably follows.

To free ourselves from all defilements and suffering, the illusion of
selfhood that sustains them has to be dispelled, exploded by the
realization of selflessness. Precisely this is the task set for the
development of wisdom. The first step along the path of development is
an analytical one. In order to uproot the view of self, the field of
experience has to be laid out in certain sets of factors, which are then
methodically investigated to ascertain that none of them singly or in
combination can be taken as a self. This analytical treatment of
experience, so characteristic of the higher reaches of Buddhist
philosophical psychology, is not intended to suggest that experience,
like a watch or car, can be reduced to an accidental conglomeration of
separable parts. Experience does have an irreducible unity, but this
unity is functional rather than substantial; it does not require the
postulate of a unifying self separate from the factors, retaining its
identity as a constant amidst the ceaseless flux.

The method of analysis applied most often is that of the five aggregates of clinging (panc’upadanakkhandha): material form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.67
Material form constitutes the material side of existence: the bodily
organism with its sense faculties and the outer objects of cognition.
The other four aggregates constitute the mental side. Feeling provides
the affective tone, perception the factor of noting and identifying, the
mental formations the volitional and emotive elements, and
consciousness the basic awareness essential to the whole occasion of
experience. The analysis by way of the five aggregates paves the way for
an attempt to see experience solely in terms of its constituting
factors, without slipping in implicit references to an unfindable self.
To gain this perspective requires the development of intensive
mindfulness, now applied to the fourth foundation, the contemplation of
the factors of existence (dhammanupassana). The disciple will dwell contemplating the five aggregates, their arising and passing:

The disciple dwells in contemplation of phenomena, namely, of the
five aggregates of clinging. He knows what material form is, how it
arises, how it passes away; knows what feeling is, how it arises, how it
passes away; knows what perception is, how it arises, how it passes
away; knows what mental formations are, how they arise, how they pass
away; knows what consciousness is, how it arises, how it passes away.68

Or the disciple may instead base his contemplation on the six
internal and external spheres of sense experience, that is, the six
sense faculties and their corresponding objects, also taking note of the
“fetters” or defilements that arise from such sensory contacts:

The disciple dwells in contemplation of phenomena, namely, of the six
internal and external sense bases. He knows the eye and forms, the ear
and sounds, the nose and odors, the tongue and tastes, the body and
tangibles, the mind and mental objects; and he knows as well the fetter
that arises in dependence on them. He understands how the unarisen
fetter arises, how the arisen fetter is abandoned, and how the abandoned
fetter does not arise again in the future.69

The view of self is further attenuated by examining the factors of
existence, not analytically, but in terms of their relational structure.
Inspection reveals that the aggregates exist solely in dependence on
conditions. Nothing in the set enjoys the absolute self-sufficiency of
being attributed to the assumed “I.” Whatever factors in the body-mind
complex be looked at, they are found to be dependently arisen, tied to
the vast net of events extending beyond themselves temporally and
spatially. The body, for example, has arisen through the union of sperm
and egg and subsists in dependence on food, water, and air. Feeling,
perception, and mental formations occur in dependence on the body with
its sense faculties. They require an object, the corresponding
consciousness, and the contact of the object with the consciousness
through the media of the sense faculties. Consciousness in its turn
depends on the sentient organism and the entire assemblage of co-arisen
mental factors. This whole process of becoming, moreover, has arisen
from the previous lives in this particular chain of existences and
inherit all the accumulated kamma of the earlier existences. Thus
nothing possesses a self-sufficient mode of being. All conditioned
phenomena exist relationally, contingent and dependent on other things.

The above two steps — the factorial analysis and the discernment of
relations — help cut away the intellectual adherence to the idea of
self, but they lack sufficient power to destroy the ingrained clinging
to the ego sustained by erroneous perception. To uproot this subtle form
of ego-clinging requires a counteractive perception: direct insight
into the empty, coreless nature of phenomena. Such an insight is
generated by contemplating the factors of existence in terms of their
three universal marks — impermanence (aniccata), unsatisfactoriness (dukkhata), and selflessness (anattata).
Generally, the first of the three marks to be discerned is
impermanence, which at the level of insight does not mean merely that
everything eventually comes to an end. At this level it means something
deeper and more pervasive, namely, that conditioned phenomena are in
constant process, happenings which break up and perish almost as soon as
they arise. The stable objects appearing to the senses reveal
themselves to be strings of momentary formations (sankhara); the
person posited by common sense dissolves into a current made up of two
intertwining streams — a stream of material events, the aggregate of
material form, and a stream of mental events, the other four aggregates.

When impermanence is seen, insight into the other two marks closely
follows. Since the aggregates are constantly breaking up, we cannot pin
our hopes on them for any lasting satisfaction. Whatever expectations we
lay on them are bound to be dashed to pieces by their inevitable
change. Thus when seen with insight they are dukkha, suffering,
in the deepest sense. Then, as the aggregates are impermanent and
unsatisfactory, they cannot be taken as self. If they were self, or the
belongings of a self, we would be able to control them and bend them to
our will, to make them everlasting sources of bliss. But far from being
able to exercise such mastery, we find them to be grounds of pain and
disappointment. Since they cannot be subjected to control, these very
factors of our being are anatta: not a self, not the belongings of a self, just empty, ownerless phenomena occurring in dependence on conditions.

When the course of insight practice is entered, the eight path
factors become charged with an intensity previously unknown. They gain
in force and fuse together into the unity of a single cohesive path
heading towards the goal. In the practice of insight all eight factors
and three trainings co-exist; each is there supporting all the others;
each makes its own unique contribution to the work. The factors of moral
discipline hold the tendencies to transgression in check with such care
that even the thought of unethical conduct does not arise. The factors
of the concentration group keep the mind firmly fixed upon the stream of
phenomena, contemplating whatever arises with impeccable precision,
free from forgetfulness and distraction. Right view, as the wisdom of
insight, grows continually sharper and deeper; right intention shows
itself in a detachment and steadiness of purpose bringing an unruffled
poise to the entire process of contemplation.

Insight meditation takes as its objective sphere the “conditioned formations” (sankhara)
comprised in the five aggregates. Its task is to uncover their
essential characteristics: the three marks of impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness. Because it still deals with the
world of conditioned events, the Eightfold Path in the stage of insight
is called the mundane path (lokiyamagga). This designation in no
way implies that the path of insight is concerned with mundane goals,
with achievements falling in the range of samsara. It aspires to
transcendence, it leads to liberation, but its objective domain of
contemplation still lies within the conditioned world. However, this
mundane contemplation of the conditioned serves as the vehicle for
reaching the unconditioned, for attaining the supramundane. When insight
meditation reaches its climax, when it fully comprehends the
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness of everything formed,
the mind breaks through the conditioned and realizes the unconditioned,
Nibbana. It sees Nibbana with direct vision, makes it an object of
immediate realization.

The breakthrough to the unconditioned is achieved by a type of consciousness or mental event called the supramundane path (lokuttaramagga).
The supramundane path occurs in four stages, four “supramundane paths,”
each marking a deeper level of realization and issuing in a fuller
degree of liberation, the fourth and last in complete liberation. The
four paths can be achieved in close proximity to one another — for those
with extraordinarily sharp faculties even in the same sitting — or (as
is more typically the case) they can be spread out over time, even over
several lifetimes.70
The supramundane paths share in common the penetration of the Four
Noble Truths. They understand them, not conceptually, but intuitively.
They grasp them through vision, seeing them with self-validating
certainty to be the invariable truths of existence. The vision of the
truths which they present is complete at one moment. The four truths are
not understood sequentially, as in the stage of reflection when thought
is the instrument of understanding. They are seen simultaneously: to
see one truth with the path is to see them all.

As the path penetrates the four truths, the mind exercises four
simultaneous functions, one regarding each truth. It fully comprehends
the truth of suffering, seeing all conditioned existence as stamped with
the mark of unsatisfactoriness. At the same time it abandons craving,
cuts through the mass of egotism and desire that repeatedly gives birth
to suffering. Again, the mind realizes cessation, the deathless element
Nibbana, now directly present to the inner eye. And fourthly, the mind
develops the Noble Eightfold Path, whose eight factors spring up endowed
with tremendous power, attained to supramundane stature: right view as
the direct seeing of Nibbana, right intention as the mind’s application
to Nibbana, the triad of ethical factors as the checks on moral
transgression, right effort as the energy in the path-consciousness,
right mindfulness as the factor of awareness, and right concentration as
the mind’s one-pointed focus. This ability of the mind to perform four
functions at the same moment is compared to a candle’s ability to
simultaneously burn the wick, consume the wax, dispel darkness, and give
light.71

The supramundane paths have the special task of eradicating the
defilements. Prior to the attainment of the paths, in the stages of
concentration and even insight meditation, the defilements were not cut
off but were only debilitated, checked and suppressed by the training of
the higher mental faculties. Beneath the surface they continued to
linger in the form of latent tendencies. But when the supramundane paths
are reached, the work of eradication begins.

Insofar as they bind us to the round of becoming, the defilements are classified into a set of ten “fetters” (samyojana)
as follows: (1) personality view, (2) doubt, (3) clinging to rules and
rituals, (4) sensual desire, (5) aversion, (6) desire for fine-material
existence, (7) desire for immaterial existence, (8) conceit, (9)
restlessness, and (10) ignorance. The four supramundane paths each
eliminate a certain layer of defilements. The first, the path of
stream-entry (sotapatti-magga), cuts off the first three fetters, the coarsest of the set, eliminates them so they can never arise again. “Personality view” (sakkaya-ditthi),
the view of a truly existent self in the five aggregates, is cut off
since one sees the selfless nature of all phenomena. Doubt is eliminated
because one has grasped the truth proclaimed by the Buddha, seen it for
oneself, and so can never again hang back due to uncertainty. And
clinging to rules and rites is removed since one knows that deliverance
can be won only through the practice of the Eightfold Path, not through
rigid moralism or ceremonial observances.

The path is followed immediately by another state of supramundane consciousness known as the fruit (phala),
which results from the path’s work of cutting off defilements. Each
path is followed by its own fruit, wherein for a few moments the mind
enjoys the blissful peace of Nibbana before descending again to the
level of mundane consciousness. The first fruit is the fruit of
stream-entry, and a person who has gone through the experience of this
fruit becomes a “stream-enterer” (sotapanna). He has entered the
stream of the Dhamma carrying him to final deliverance. He is bound for
liberation and can no longer fall back into the ways of an unenlightened
worldling. He still has certain defilements remaining in his mental
makeup, and it may take him as long as seven more lives to arrive at the
final goal, but he has acquired the essential realization needed to
reach it, and there is no way he can fall away.

An enthusiastic practitioner with sharp faculties, after reaching
stream-entry, does not relax his striving but puts forth energy to
complete the entire path as swiftly as possible. He resumes his practice
of insight contemplation, passes through the ascending stages of
insight-knowledge, and in time reaches the second path, the path of the
once-returner (sakadagami-magga). This supramundane path does not
totally eradicate any of the fetters, but it attenuates the roots of
greed, aversion, and delusion. Following the path the meditator
experiences its fruit, then emerges as a “once-returner” who will return
to this world at most only one more time before attaining full
liberation.

But our practitioner again takes up the task of contemplation. At the
next stage of supramundane realization he attains the third path, the
path of the non-returner (anagami-magga), with which he cuts off
the two fetters of sensual desire and ill will. From that point on he
can never again fall into the grip of any desire for sense pleasure, and
can never be aroused to anger, aversion, or discontent. As a
non-returner he will not return to the human state of existence in any
future life. If he does not reach the last path in this very life, then
after death he will be reborn in a higher sphere in the fine-material
world (rupaloka) and there reach deliverance.

But our meditator again puts forth effort, develops insight, and at its climax enters the fourth path, the path of arahatship (arahatta-magga).
With this path he cuts off the five remaining fetters — desire for
fine-material existence and desire for immaterial existence, conceit,
restlessness, and ignorance. The first is the desire for rebirth into
the celestial planes made accessible by the four jhanas, the planes
commonly subsumed under the name “the Brahma-world.” The second is the
desire for rebirth into the four immaterial planes made accessible by
the achievement of the four immaterial attainments. Conceit (mana)
is not the coarse type of pride to which we become disposed through an
over-estimation of our virtues and talents, but the subtle residue of
the notion of an ego which subsists even after conceptually explicit
views of self have been eradicated. The texts refer to this type of
conceit as the conceit “I am” (asmimana). Restlessness (uddhacca) is the subtle excitement which persists in any mind not yet completely enlightened, and ignorance (avijja)
is the fundamental cognitive obscuration which prevents full
understanding of the Four Noble Truths. Although the grosser grades of
ignorance have been scoured from the mind by the wisdom faculty in the
first three paths, a thin veil of ignorance overlays the truths even in
the non-returner.

The path of arahatship strips away this last veil of ignorance and,
with it, all the residual mental defilements. This path issues in
perfect comprehension of the Four Noble Truths. It fully fathoms the
truth of suffering; eradicates the craving from which suffering springs;
realizes with complete clarity the unconditioned element, Nibbana, as
the cessation of suffering; and consummates the development of the eight
factors of the Noble Eightfold Path.

With the attainment of the fourth path and fruit the disciple emerges
as an arahant, one who in this very life has been liberated from all
bonds. The arahant has walked the Noble Eightfold Path to its end and
lives in the assurance stated so often in the formula from the Pali
canon: “Destroyed is birth; the holy life has been lived; what had to be
done has been done; there is no coming back to any state of being.” The
arahant is no longer a practitioner of the path but its living
embodiment. Having developed the eight factors of the path to their
consummation, the Liberated One lives in the enjoyment of their fruits,
enlightenment and final deliverance.



Epilogue [go up]

This completes our survey of the Noble Eightfold Path, the way to
deliverance from suffering taught by the Buddha. The higher reaches of
the path may seem remote from us in our present position, the demands of
practice may appear difficult to fulfill. But even if the heights of
realization are now distant, all that we need to reach them lies just
beneath our feet. The eight factors of the path are always accessible to
us; they are mental components which can be established in the mind
simply through determination and effort. We have to begin by
straightening out our views and clarifying our intentions. Then we have
to purify our conduct — our speech, action, and livelihood. Taking these
measures as our foundation, we have to apply ourselves with energy and
mindfulness to the cultivation of concentration and insight. The rest is
a matter of gradual practice and gradual progress, without expecting
quick results. For some progress may be rapid, for others it may be
slow, but the rate at which progress occurs should not cause elation or
discouragement. Liberation is the inevitable fruit of the path and is
bound to blossom forth when there is steady and persistent practice. The
only requirements for reaching the final goal are two: to start and to
continue. If these requirements are met there is no doubt the goal will
be attained. This is the Dhamma, the undeviating law.



Appendix [go up]
A Factorial Analysis of the Noble Eightfold Path
(Pali and English)

I. Samma ditthi …. Right view

dukkhe ñana …. understanding suffering

dukkhasamudaye ñana …. understanding its origin

dukkhanirodhe ñana …. understanding its cessation

dukkhanirodhagaminipatipadaya ñana …. understanding the way leading to its cessation

II. Samma sankappa …. Right intention

nekkhamma-sankappa …. intention of renunciation

abyapada-sankappa …. intention of good will

avihimsa-sankappa …. intention of harmlessness

III. Samma vaca …. Right speech

musavada veramani …. abstaining from false speech

pisunaya vacaya veramani …. abstaining from slanderous speech

pharusaya vacaya veramani …. abstaining from harsh speech

samphappalapa veramani …. abstaining from idle chatter

IV. Samma kammanta …. Right action

panatipata veramani …. abstaining from taking life

adinnadana veramani …. abstaining from stealing

kamesu micchacara veramani …. abstaining from sexual misconduct

V. Samma ajiva …. Right livelihood

miccha ajivam pahaya …. giving up wrong livelihood,

samma ajivena jivitam kappeti …. one earns one’s living by a right form of livelihood

VI. Samma vayama …. Right effort

samvarappadhana …. the effort to restrain defilements

pahanappadhana …. the effort to abandon defilements

bhavanappadhana …. the effort to develop wholesome states

anurakkhanappadhana …. the effort to maintain wholesome states

VII. Samma sati …. Right mindfulness

kayanupassana …. mindful contemplation of the body

vedananupassana …. mindful contemplation of feelings

cittanupassana …. mindful contemplation of the mind

dhammanupassana …. mindful contemplation of phenomena

VIII. Samma samadhi …. Right concentration

pathamajjhana …. the first jhana

dutiyajjhana …. the second jhana

tatiyajjhana …. the third jhana

catutthajjhana …. the fourth jhana



Recommended Readings [go up]

I. General treatments of the Noble Eightfold Path:

  • Ledi Sayadaw. The Noble Eightfold Path and Its Factors Explained. (Wheel 245/247).
  • Nyanatiloka Thera. The Word of the Buddha. (BPS 14th ed., 1968).
  • Piyadassi Thera. The Buddha’s Ancient Path. (BPS 3rd ed., 1979).

II. Right View:

  • Ñanamoli, Bhikkhu. The Discourse on Right View. (Wheel 377/379).
  • Nyanatiloka Thera. Karma and Rebirth. (Wheel 9).
  • Story, Francis. The Four Noble Truths. (Wheel 34/35).
  • Wijesekera, O.H. de A. The Three Signata. (Wheel 20).

III. Right Intentions:

  • Ñanamoli Thera. The Practice of Loving-kindness. (Wheel 7).
  • Nyanaponika Thera. The Four Sublime States. (Wheel 6).
  • Prince, T. Renunciation. (Bodhi Leaf B 36).

IV. Right Speech, Right Action, & Right Livelihood:

  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu. Going for Refuge and Taking the Precepts. (Wheel 282/284).
  • Narada Thera. Everyman’s Ethics. (Wheel 14).
  • Vajirañanavarorasa. The Five Precepts and the Five Ennoblers. (Bangkok: Mahamakuta, 1975).

V. Right Effort:

  • Nyanaponika Thera. The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest. (Wheel 26).
  • Piyadassi Thera. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment. (Wheel 1).
  • Soma Thera. The Removal of Distracting Thoughts.(Wheel 21).

VI. Right Mindfulness:

  • Nyanaponika Thera. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation.(London: Rider, 1962; BPS, 1992).
  • Nyanaponika Thera. The Power of Mindfulness. (Wheel 121/122).
  • Nyanasatta Thera. The Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta). (Wheel 19).
  • Soma Thera. The Way of Mindfulness. (BPS, 3rd ed., 1967).

VII. Right Concentration & The Development of Wisdom:

  • Buddhaghosa, Bhadantacariya. The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga). Translated by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, 4th ed. (BPS, 1979).
  • Khantipalo, Bhikkhu. Calm and Insight. (London: Curzon, 1980).
  • Ledi Sayadaw. A Manual of Insight. (Wheel 31/32).
  • Nyanatiloka Thera. The Buddha’s Path to Deliverance. (BPS, 1982).
  • Sole-Leris, Amadeo. Tranquillity and Insight. (London: Rider, 1986; BPS 1992).
  • Vajirañana, Paravahera. Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice. 2nd ed. (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Buddhist Missionary Society, 1975).

All Wheel publications and Bodhi Leaves referred to above are published by the Buddhist Publication Society.



About the Author [go up]

Bhikkhu Bodhi is a Buddhist monk of American nationality, born in New
York City in 1944. After completing a doctorate in philosophy at the
Claremont Graduate School, he came to Sri Lanka for the purpose of
entering the Sangha. He received novice ordination in 1972 and higher
ordination in 1973, both under the eminent scholar-monk, Ven. Balangoda
Ananda Maitreya, with whom he studied Pali and Dhamma. He is the author
of several works on Theravada Buddhism, including four translations of
major Pali suttas along with their commentaries. Since 1984 he has been
the Editor for the Buddhist Publication Society, and since 1988 its
President.



Notes [go up]

1. Ignorance is actually identical in nature with the unwholesome root “delusion” (moha).
When the Buddha speaks in a psychological context about mental factors,
he generally uses the word “delusion”; when he speaks about the causal
basis of samsara, he uses the word “ignorance” (avijja).

2. SN 56:11; Word of the Buddha, p. 26

3. Ibid.

4. Adhisilasikkha, adhicittasikkha, adhipaññasikkha.

5. AN 3:33; Word of the Buddha, p. 19.

6. MN 117; Word of the Buddha, p. 36.

7. AN 6:63; Word of the Buddha, p. 19.

8. MN 9; Word of the Buddha, p. 29.

9. See DN 2, MN 27, etc. For details, see Vism. XIII, 72-101.

10. DN 22; Word of the Buddha, p. 29.

11. DN 22, SN 56:11; Word of the Buddha, p. 3

12. Ibid. Word of the Buddha, p. 16.

13. Ibid. Word of the Buddha, p. 22.

14. Nekkhammasankappa, abyapada sankappa, avihimsasankappa.

15. Kamasankappa, byapadasankappa, avihimsasankappa. Though kama usually means sensual desire, the context seems to allow a wider interpretation, as self-seeking desire in all its forms.

16. AN 1:16.2.

17. Strictly speaking, greed or desire (raga)
becomes immoral only when it impels actions violating the basic
principles of ethics, such as killing, stealing, adultery, etc. When it
remains merely as a mental factor or issues in actions not inherently
immoral — e.g., the enjoyment of good food, the desire for recognition,
sexual relations that do not hurt others — it is not immoral but is
still a form of craving causing bondage to suffering.

18. For a full account of the dukkha tied up with sensual desire, see MN 13.

19. This might appear to contradict what we said earlier, that metta is free from self-reference. The contradiction is only apparent, however, for in developing metta
towards oneself one regards oneself objectively, as a third person.
Further, the kind of love developed is not self-cherishing but a
detached altruistic wish for one’s own well-being.

20.
Any other formula found to be effective may be used in place of the
formula given here. For a full treatment, see Ñanamoli Thera, The Practice of Loving-kindness, Wheel No. 7.

21. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 50.

22. MN 61.

23. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 50.

24. Subcommentary to Digha Nikaya.

25. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, pp. 50-51.

26. MN 21; Word of the Buddha, p. 51.

27. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 51

28. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 53.

29. HRH Prince Vajirañanavarorasa, The Five Precepts and the Five Ennoblers (Bangkok, 1975), pp. 1-9.

30. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 53.

31. The Five Precepts and the Five Ennoblers gives a fuller list, pp. 10-13.

32. AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 53.

33. The following is summarized from The Five Precepts and the Five Ennoblers, pp. 16-18.

34. See AN 4:62; AN 5:41; AN 8:54.

35. The Five Precepts and the Five Ennoblers, pp. 45-47.

36. Papañcasudani (Commentary to Majjhima Nikaya).

37. MN 70; Word of the Buddha, pp. 59-60.

38. AN 4:13; Word of the Buddha, p. 57.

39. Kamacchanda, byapada, thina-middha, uddhacca-kukkucca, vicikiccha.

40. AN 4:14; Word of the Buddha, p. 57.

41. AN 4:13; Word of the Buddha, p. 58.

42. AN 4:14; Word of the Buddha, p. 58.

43. MN 20; Word of the Buddha, p. 58.

44.
For a full treatment of the methods for dealing with the hindrances
individually, consult the commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta (DN 22,
MN 10). A translation of the relevant passages, with further extracts
from the subcommentary, can be found in Soma Thera, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 116-26.

45. AN 4:13; Word of the Buddha, pp. 58-59.

46. AN 4:14; Word of the Buddha, p.59. The Pali names for the seven are: satisambojjhanga, dhammavicayasambojjhanga, viriyasambojjhanga, pitisambojjhanga, passaddhisambojjhanga, samadhisambojjhanga, upekkhasambojjhanga.

47. AN 4:13; Word of the Buddha, p. 59.

48. AN 4:14; Word of the Buddha, p. 59.

49. Dhammo sanditthiko akaliko ehipassiko opanayiko paccattam veditabbo viññuhi. (M. 7, etc.)

50. Commentary to Vism. See Vism. XIV, n. 64.

51. Sometimes the word satipatthana
is translated “foundation of mindfulness,” with emphasis on the
objective side, sometimes “application of mindfulness,” with emphasis on
the subjective side. Both explanations are allowed by the texts and
commentaries.

52. DN 22; Word of the Buddha, p. 61.

53. Ibid. Word of the Buddha, p. 61.

54. For details, see Vism. VIII, 145-244.

55. See Soma Thera, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 58-97.

56. Asubha-bhavana. The same subject is also called the perception of repulsiveness (patikkulasañña) and mindfulness concerning the body (kayagata sati).

57. For details, see Vism. VIII, 42-144.

58. For details, see Vism. XI, 27-117.

59. For a full account, see Soma Thera, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 116-127.

60. Ibid., pp. 131-146.

61. In what follows I have to restrict myself to a brief overview. For a full exposition, see Vism., Chapters III-XI.

62. See Vism. IV, 88-109.

63. Some common renderings such as “trance,” “musing,” etc., are altogether misleading and should be discarded.

64. DN 22; Word of the Buddha, pp. 80-81.

65. In Pali: akasanañcayatana, viññanañcayatana, akiñcaññayatana, n’eva-sañña-nasaññayatana.

66. Anicce niccavipallasa, dukkhe sukhavipallasa, anattani atta-vipallasa. AN 4:49.

67. In Pali: rupakkhandha, vedanakkhandha, saññakkhandha, sankharakkhandha, viññanakkhandha.

68. DN 22; Word of the Buddha, pp. 71-72.

69. DN 22; Word of the Buddha, p. 73.

70.
In the first edition of this book I stated here that the four paths
have to be passed through sequentially, such that there is no attainment
of a higher path without first having reached the paths below it. This
certainly seems to be the position of the Commentaries. However, the
Suttas sometimes show individuals proceeding directly from the stage of
worldling to the third or even the fourth path and fruit. Though the
commentator explains that they passed through each preceding path and
fruit in rapid succession, the canonical texts themselves give no
indication that this has transpired but suggest an immediate realization
of the higher stages without the intermediate attainment of the lower
stages.

71. See Vism. XXII, 92-103.



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What is Theravada Buddhism?

Sangha

Nibbana

the true goal

craving

ignorance

avijja

dukkha

Birth

Analysis of Dependent Co-arising

 

Dwelling at Savatthi… “Monks, I will describe & analyze dependent co-arising for you.

“And
what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition
come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes
consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes
name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the
six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes
contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From
feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a
requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance
as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite
condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging
& death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come
into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress &
suffering.

Now what is aging and death?
Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of
life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or
that group of beings, that is called aging. Whatever deceasing, passing
away, breaking up, disappearance, dying, death, completion of time,
break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the
life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings,
that is called death.

And what is birth?
Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth,
appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the
various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.

“And what is becoming? These three are becomings: sensual becoming, form becoming, & formless becoming. This is called becoming.

“And what is clinging/sustenance? These four
are clingings: sensuality clinging, view clinging, precept &
practice clinging, and doctrine of self clinging. This is called
clinging.

“And what is craving? These six
are classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving
for smells, craving for tastes, craving for tactile sensations, craving
for ideas. This is called craving.

“And what is feeling? These six
are classes of feeling: feeling born from eye-contact, feeling born
from ear-contact, feeling born from nose-contact, feeling born from
tongue-contact, feeling born from body-contact, feeling born from
intellect-contact. This is called feeling.

“And what is contact? These six
are classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact,
tongue-contact, body-contact, intellect-contact. This is called contact.

“And what are the six sense media? These six
are sense media: the eye-medium, the ear-medium, the nose-medium, the
tongue-medium, the body-medium, the intellect-medium. These are called
the six sense media.

“And what is name-&-form?
Feeling, perception, intention, contact, & attention: This is
called name. The four great elements, and the form dependent on the four
great elements: This is called form. This name & this form are
called name-&-form.

“And what is consciousness? These six
are classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness,
nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness,
intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.

“And what are fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.

“And what is ignorance?
Not knowing stress, not knowing the origination of stress, not knowing
the cessation of stress, not knowing the way of practice leading to the
cessation of stress: This is called ignorance.

“Now
from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance
comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications
comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of
consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation
of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the
cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From
the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the
cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation
of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the
cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From
the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the
cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire
mass of stress & suffering.”

 
 


2013

LESSON

The Awakened One

A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life

Readings from the Pali Canon

Theravada Buddhism

A Chronology

first discourse

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

Translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Four Noble Truths

Breaking free

“Bhikkhus, it is through not realizing, through not penetrating the Four Noble Truths that this long course of birth and death has been passed through and undergone by me as well as by you. What are these four? They are the noble truth of dukkha; the noble truth of the origin of dukkha; the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha; and the noble truth of the way to the cessation of dukkha.
But now, bhikkhus, that these have been realized and penetrated, cut
off is the craving for existence, destroyed is that which leads to
renewed becoming, and there is no fresh becoming.”

DN 16 (with dukkha left untranslated)




The elephant’s footprint

[Ven. Sariputta:]
“Friends, just as the footprints of all legged animals are encompassed
by the footprint of the elephant, and the elephant’s footprint is
reckoned the foremost among them in terms of size; in the same way, all
skillful qualities are gathered under the four noble truths. Under which
four? Under the noble truth of stress, under the noble truth of the
origination of stress, under the noble truth of the cessation of stress,
and under the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the
cessation of stress.”

MN 28




One’s duties with regard to each of the Four Noble Truths

[The Buddha speaks of his Awakening:]

“Vision arose,
insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose
within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This is the noble
truth of stress’… ‘This noble truth of stress is to be comprehended’… ‘This noble truth of stress has been comprehended’…

“Vision arose,
insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose
within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This is the noble
truth of the origination of stress’… ‘This noble truth of the origination of stress is to be abandoned’… ‘This noble truth of the origination of stress has been abandoned.’

“Vision arose,
insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose
within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This is the noble
truth of the cessation of stress’… ‘This noble truth of the cessation of stress is to be directly experienced’… ‘This noble truth of the cessation of stress has been directly experienced.’

“Vision arose,
insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose
within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This is the noble
truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress’…
‘This noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress is to be developed’… ‘This noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress has been developed.’

“And, monks, as
long as this knowledge & vision of mine — with its three rounds
& twelve permutations concerning these four noble truths as they
actually are present — was not pure, I did not claim to have directly
awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its
devas, Maras, & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & priests, its
royalty & commonfolk. But as soon as this knowledge & vision of
mine — with its three rounds & twelve permutations concerning these
four noble truths as they actually are present — was truly pure, then I
did claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening
unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Maras & Brahmas, with its
contemplatives & priests, its royalty & commonfolk. Knowledge
& vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my release. This is the last
birth. There is now no further becoming.’”

SN 56.11




See also:

·         The First Noble Truth

·         The Second Noble Truth

·         The Third Noble Truth

·         The Fourth Noble Truth

·         The Four Noble Truths” (Study Guide)

·         “The Four Noble Truths” in The Wings to Awakening

·         The Nobility of the Truths” (Bhikkhu Bodhi)

 

cartoon drawing showing the 4 Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are:

  1. We all suffer
  2. Our suffering is caused by craving
  3. There is a way to stop craving & suffering
  4. That way is the Noble Eightfold Path

Buddhists believe that when the Buddha became Enlightened, he found
the answer to the question of why there is unhappiness and suffering in
the world. He became free from suffering himself and saw that others
could do the same. He walked a hundred miles to Sarnath to find his five
friends. He wanted to tell them what he had discovered.

The Buddha used a well known Indian medical formula to help explain
the Four Noble Truths to his friends. Buddhists believe that the
Buddha’s teaching is a cure for the world’s illnesses.

  1. What is the illness?
  2. What has caused the illness?
  3. Does a cure exist?
  4. The remedy - what does the patient need to do in order to be cured?

1. THE FIRST NOBLE TRUTH - the illness. The illness is the suffering
and unhappiness that everyone feels at some time in their lives.

2. THE SECOND NOBLE TRUTH - the cause of the illness. The cause of
unhappiness is craving. We tend to want more and more of everything. We
become unhappy with what we have. There is always something else that is
going to make us feel right.

3. THE THIRD NOBLE TRUTH - a cure is possible. It is possible to be
happy and free from craving. This state of perfect freedom and happiness
is the same as Enlightenment.

4. THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH - the remedy. The way to overcome the
craving which causes our unhappiness is to follow the Noble Eightfold
Path. This path is sometimes called The Middle Way; it is a middle way
between extremes. The Buddha had once lived a life of luxury as a
prince. He had also tried a life of extreme hardship - the ascetic life.
He taught that following the Noble Eightfold Path, a middle way, leads
to happiness and freedom from suffering.



2012

LESSON


The True Teachings of The Awakened One

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What is Theravada Buddhism?

by

John Bullitt

Dhamma

Nibbana

Giving

jhana

Right Concentration

samma Samadhi

The Fourth Noble Truth

The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of dukkha

dukkha nirodha gamini patipada ariya sacca

The Noble Eightfold Path

“And this, monks,
is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of
dukkha: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”

SN 56.11




The threefold division of the path

[Visakha, a
layman, ex-husband of Ven. Sister Dhammadinna:] “And are the three
aggregates [of virtue, concentration, discernment] included under the
noble eightfold path, lady, or is the noble eightfold path included
under the three aggregates?”

[Ven. Sister
Dhammadinna:] “The three aggregates are not included under the noble
eightfold path, friend Visakha, but the noble eightfold path is included
under the three aggregates. Right speech, right action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration come under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment.”

MN 44




An ancient path rediscovered

“It is just as if
a man, traveling along a wilderness track, were to see an ancient path,
an ancient road, traveled by people of former times. He would follow
it. Following it, he would see an ancient city, an ancient capital
inhabited by people of former times, complete with parks, groves, &
ponds, walled, delightful. He would go to address the king or the king’s
minister, saying, ‘Sire, you should know that while traveling along a
wilderness track I saw an ancient path… I followed it… I saw an
ancient city, an ancient capital… complete with parks, groves, &
ponds, walled, delightful. Sire, rebuild that city!’ The king or king’s
minister would rebuild the city, so that at a later date the city would
become powerful, rich, & well-populated, fully grown &
prosperous.

“In the same way I
saw an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by the Rightly
Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path, that
ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former
times? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration
I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of
birth… becoming… clinging… craving… feeling… contact… the
six sense media… name-&-form… consciousness, direct knowledge of
the origination of consciousness, direct knowledge of the cessation of
consciousness, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of
consciousness. I followed that path.

“Following it, I
came to direct knowledge of fabrications, direct knowledge of the
origination of fabrications, direct knowledge of the cessation of
fabrications, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of
fabrications. Knowing that directly, I have revealed it to monks, nuns,
male lay followers & female lay followers, so that this holy life
has become powerful, rich, detailed, well-populated, wide-spread,
proclaimed among celestial & human beings.”

SN 12.65




A path to overcome danger

“There are these
three things that are (genuine) mother-&-child-separating dangers.
Which three? The danger of aging, the danger of illness, the danger of
death.

“A mother can’t
get (her wish) with regard to her child who is aging, ‘I am aging, but
may my child not age.’ A child can’t get (its wish) with regard to its
mother who is aging, ‘I am aging, but may my mother not age.’

“A mother can’t
get (her wish) with regard to her child who is growing ill, ‘I am
growing ill, but may my child not grow ill.’ A child can’t get (its
wish) with regard to its mother who is growing ill, ‘I am growing ill,
but may my mother not grow ill.’

“A mother can’t
get (her wish) with regard to her child who is dying, ‘I am dying, but
may my child not die.’ A child can’t get (its wish) with regard to its
mother who is dying, ‘I am dying, but may my mother not die.’

“These are the three things that are (genuine) mother-&-child-separating dangers.

“There is a path,
there is a practice, that leads to the abandoning and overcoming of
these three mother-&-child-uniting dangers and these three
mother-&-child-separating dangers.

“And which is
that path, which is that practice…? Just this very noble eightfold
path, i.e., right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right
livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

“This is the
path, this the practice, that leads to the abandoning and overcoming of
these three mother-&-child-uniting dangers and these three
mother-&-child-separating dangers.”

AN 3.62




Awakenment is accessible only to those who follow this path

“In any doctrine
& discipline where the noble eightfold path is not found, no
contemplative of the first… second… third… fourth order [stream-winner, once-returner, non-returner, or arahant] is found. But in any doctrine & discipline where the noble eightfold path is found, contemplatives of the first… second… third… fourth order are
found. The noble eightfold path is found in this doctrine &
discipline, and right here there are contemplatives of the first…
second… third… fourth order. Other teachings are empty of
knowledgeable contemplatives. And if the monks dwell rightly, this world
will not be empty of arahants.”

DN 16




See also:

·         The Four Noble Truths

·         The Third Noble Truth

·         “The Fourth Truth” in The Wings to Awakening

·         The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1994)

·         Maha-cattarisaka Sutta (MN 117) — The Great Forty

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2011

LESSON

Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One

Guided meditations: You are getting sleeeeepyGuided meditations: You are getting sleeeeepy

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What is Theravada Buddhism?

Sangha

Nibbana

the true goal 

craving

ignorance

avijja

dukkha

No single English word adequately captures the full depth, range, and subtlety of the crucial Pali term dukkha.
Over the years, many translations of the word have been used (”stress,”
“unsatisfactoriness,” “suffering,” etc.). Each has its own merits in a
given context. There is value in not letting oneself get too comfortable
with any one particular translation of the word, since the entire
thrust of Buddhist practice is the broadening and deepening of one’s
understanding of dukkha until its roots are finally exposed and
eradicated once and for all. One helpful rule of thumb: as soon as you
think you’ve found the single best translation for the word, think
again: for no matter how you describe dukkha, it’s always deeper,
subtler, and more unsatisfactory than that.

The definition

Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death
is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha;
association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is
dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five
clinging-aggregates are dukkha.”

SN 56.11




Sariputta’s elaboration

[Ven. Sariputta:]
“Now what, friends, is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful,
aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is
stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what is
wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are
stressful.

“And what is birth?
Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth,
appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] spheres of the
various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.

“And what is aging?
Whatever aging, decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of
life-force, weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or
that group of beings, that is called aging.

“And what is death?
Whatever deceasing, passing away, breaking up, disappearance, dying,
death, completion of time, break up of the aggregates, casting off of
the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this
or that group of beings, that is called death.

“And what is sorrow?
Whatever sorrow, sorrowing, sadness, inward sorrow, inward sadness of
anyone suffering from misfortune, touched by a painful thing, that is
called sorrow.

“And what is lamentation?
Whatever crying, grieving, lamenting, weeping, wailing, lamentation of
anyone suffering from misfortune, touched by a painful thing, that is
called lamentation.

“And what is pain? Whatever is experienced as bodily pain, bodily discomfort, pain or discomfort born of bodily contact, that is called pain.

“And what is distress? Whatever is experienced as mental pain, mental discomfort, pain or discomfort born of mental contact, that is called distress.

“And what is despair?
Whatever despair, despondency, desperation of anyone suffering from
misfortune, touched by a painful thing, that is called despair.

“And what is the stress of association with the unbeloved?
There is the case where undesirable, unpleasing, unattractive sights,
sounds, aromas, flavors, or tactile sensations occur to one; or one has
connection, contact, relationship, interaction with those who wish one
ill, who wish for one’s harm, who wish for one’s discomfort, who wish
one no security from the yoke. This is called the stress of association
with the unbeloved.

“And what is the stress of separation from the loved?
There is the case where desirable, pleasing, attractive sights, sounds,
aromas, flavors, or tactile sensations do not occur to one; or one has
no connection, no contact, no relationship, no interaction with those
who wish one well, who wish for one’s benefit, who wish for one’s
comfort, who wish one security from the yoke, nor with one’s mother,
father, brother, sister, friends, companions, or relatives. This is
called the stress of separation from the loved.

“And what is the stress of not getting what is wanted?
In beings subject to birth, the wish arises, ‘O, may we not be subject
to birth, and may birth not come to us.’ But this is not to be achieved
by wanting. This is the stress of not getting what is wanted. In beings
subject to aging… illness… death… sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair, the wish arises, ‘O, may we not be subject to
aging… illness… death… sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, &
despair, and may aging… illness… death… sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair not come to us.’ But this is not to be achieved
by wanting. This is the stress of not getting what is wanted.

MN 141




A contemporary definition:

Dukkha is:

Disturbance,
irritation, dejection, worry, despair, fear, dread, anguish, anxiety;
vulnerability, injury, inability, inferiority; sickness, aging, decay of
body and faculties, senility; pain/pleasure; excitement/boredom;
deprivation/excess; desire/frustration, suppression;
longing/aimlessness; hope/hopelessness; effort, activity,
striving/repression; loss, want, insufficiency/satiety;
love/lovelessness, friendlessness; dislike, aversion/attraction;
parenthood/childlessness; submission/rebellion; decision/indecisiveness,
vacillation, uncertainty.

— Francis Story in Suffering, in Vol. II of The Three Basic Facts of Existence (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1983)




Only dukkha

“Both formerly & now, it is only dukkha that I describe, and the cessation of dukkha.”

SN 22.86




Three kinds of dukkha

“There are
these three forms of stressfulness, my friend: the stressfulness of
pain, the stressfulness of fabrication, the stressfulness of change.
These are the three forms of stressfulness.”

[Jambukhadika
the wanderer:] “What is the path, what is the practice for the full
comprehension of these forms of stressfulness?”

“Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path, my friend — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the path, this is the practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness.”

SN 38.14

meditation tests prove buddhists right

Adelaide,
Australia — Science can finally prove what Buddhists have sworn by for
centuries - meditation really does sharpen and clear the brain.

Tests
by Adelaide researchers have revealed that as people go further into a
deep meditative state, their brain rhythms shift into a pattern of
focus.

This supports long-standing beliefs that the practice can improve concentration levels and alertness in daily activities.

Scientists at the Flinders
Medical Centre’s Centre for Neuroscience have completed the first
scientific demonstration of brain activity changes in distinct
meditative states.

They measured the electrical
activity in the brain in a group of people as they moved from simple
eyes-closed resting through the five states of meditation as defined in
Buddhist teachings.




See also: First Noble Truth


2009

LESSON

The Awakened One

A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life

Readings from the Pali Canon

Theravada Buddhism

A Chronology

SN 56.11
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

Translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Dhamek Stupa

The first five disciples pay respects to the Wheel of the Dharma at the deerpark of Isipatana.

Image:SarnathWallPaintings.jpg

Image:SarnathWallPaintings2.jpg

Image:SarnathEntrance.jpg

Image:Dharmarajika Stupa.JPG

Image:Sarnath Ashoka Pillar.jpg

Image:Aramaic Inscriptures in Sarnath.JPG

Image:Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.jpg

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Birth of the Buddha [Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, probably Takht-i-Bahi)] Dream of Queen Maya, The [Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, probably Takht-i-Bahi)] Great Departure and the Temptation of the Buddha, The [India (Andra Pradesh, Nagarjunakonda)] The Death of the Buddha [Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)] Fasting Siddhartha [Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)] Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath [Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara)] Buddha's Descent from the Trayastrimsha Heaven [India, Andhra Pradesh, Nagarjunakonda] Model of a stupa (Buddhist shrine) [Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara] Lunette with Buddha surrounded by adorants [Hadda, Afghanistan]
Head of a Buddha [Angkor Borei, Cambodia] Seated Buddha [China] Seated Buddha [Burma; Pyu kingdom] Reliquary (?) with scenes from the life of the Buddha [India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir) or Pakistan] Bookcover with scenes from the life of the Buddha [India or Nepal] Plaque with scenes from the life of the Buddha [India or Burma] Buddha sheltered by a naga [Cambodia] Lotus Sutra [Japan] Unidentified artist: Illustrated manuscript of the Lotus Sutra [Korea]
Unidentified artist: Death of the Historical Buddha (Nehan) [Kyoto, Japan] Unidentified artist: The Birth of the Buddha [Japan]

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks:

There are these
two extremes that are not to be indulged in by one who has gone forth.
Which two? That which is devoted to sensual pleasure with reference to
sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable; and that
which is devoted to self-affliction: painful, ignoble, unprofitable.
Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way realized by the
Tathagata — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to
direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.

And what
is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision,
producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to
self-awakening, to Unbinding? Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right
view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood,
right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the middle
way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing
knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to
Unbinding.

Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:1
Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow,
lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association
with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful,
not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five
clinging-aggregates are stressful.

“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of
stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by
passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e.,
craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for
non-becoming.

“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of
stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation,
relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.

“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice
leading to the cessation of stress: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path —
right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right
livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge
arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard
before: ‘This is the noble truth of stress’… ‘This noble truth of
stress is to be comprehended’… ‘This noble truth of stress has been
comprehended.’

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge
arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard
before: ‘This is the noble truth of the origination of stress’… ‘This
noble truth of the origination of stress is to be abandoned’ 2 … ‘This noble truth of the origination of stress has been abandoned.’

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge
arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard
before: ‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of stress’… ‘This
noble truth of the cessation of stress is to be directly experienced’…
‘This noble truth of the cessation of stress has been directly
experienced.’

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge
arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard
before: ‘This is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the
cessation of stress’… ‘This noble truth of the way of practice leading
to the cessation of stress is to be developed’… ‘This noble truth of
the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress has been
developed.’ 3

“And, monks, as long as this knowledge & vision of mine —
with its three rounds & twelve permutations concerning these four
noble truths as they actually are present — was not pure, I did not
claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled
in the cosmos with its devas, Maras, & Brahmas, with its
contemplatives & priests, its royalty & commonfolk. But as soon
as this knowledge & vision of mine — with its three rounds &
twelve permutations concerning these four noble truths as they actually
are present — was truly pure, then I did claim to have directly awakened
to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas,
Maras & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & priests, its royalty
& commonfolk. Knowledge & vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my
release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of
five monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being
given,
there arose to Ven. Kondañña the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.

And when the Blessed One had set the Wheel of Dhamma in
motion, the earth devas cried out: “At Varanasi, in the Game Refuge at
Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of
Dhamma that cannot be stopped by priest or contemplative, deva,
Mara
or God or anyone in the cosmos.” On hearing the earth devas’ cry, the
devas of the Four Kings’ Heaven took up the cry… the devas of the
Thirty-three… the
Yama devas… the Tusita devas… the Nimmanarati devas… the Paranimmita-vasavatti devas… the devas of Brahma’s
retinue took up the cry: “At Varanasi, in the Game Refuge at Isipatana,
the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that
cannot be stopped by priest or contemplative, deva, Mara, or God or
anyone at all in the cosmos.”

So in that moment, that instant, the cry shot right up to the
Brahma worlds. And this ten-thousand fold cosmos shivered &
quivered & quaked, while a great, measureless radiance appeared in
the cosmos, surpassing the effulgence of the devas.

Then the Blessed One exclaimed: “So you really know,
Kondañña? So you really know?” And that is how Ven. Kondañña acquired
the name Añña-Kondañña — Kondañña who knows.




Notes

1.
The Pali phrases for the four noble truths are grammatical anomalies.
From these anomalies, some scholars have argued that the expression
“noble truth” is a later addition to the texts. Others have argued even
further that the content of the four truths is also a later addition.
Both of these arguments are based on the unproven assumption that the
language the Buddha spoke was grammatically regular, and that any
irregularities were later corruptions of the language. This assumption
forgets that the languages of the Buddha’s time were oral dialects, and
that the nature of such dialects is to contain many grammatical
irregularities. Languages tend to become regular only when being used to
govern a large nation state or to produce a large body of literature:
events that happened in India only after the Buddha’s time. (A European
example: Italian was a group of irregular oral dialects until Dante
fashioned it into a regular language for the sake of his poetry.) Thus
the irregularity of the Pali here is no proof either for the earliness
or lateness of this particular teaching.

2.
Another argument for the lateness of the expression “noble truth” is
that a truth — meaning an accurate statement about a body of facts — is
not something that should be abandoned. In this case, only the craving
is to be abandoned, not the truth about craving. However, in Vedic
Sanskrit — as in modern English — a “truth” can mean both a fact and an
accurate statement about a fact. Thus in this case, the “truth” is the
fact, not the statement about the fact, and the argument for the
lateness of the expression does not hold.

3.
The discussion in the four paragraphs beginning with the phrase,
“Vision arose…,” takes two sets of variables — the four noble truths
and the three levels of knowledge appropriate to each — and lists their
twelve permutations. In ancient Indian philosophical and legal
traditions, this sort of discussion is called a wheel. Thus, this
passage is the Wheel of Dhamma from which the discourse takes its name.

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