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Teaching of the Buddha in His Own Words
Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka
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The Buddha’s Teaching
In His Own Words

Texts selected, arranged,
and translated by

Bhikkhu Ñā􏰁amoli

Buddhist Publication Society
Kandy • Sri Lanka

The Wheel Publication No. 428/29/30

Published in 1999
Reprinted 2004

Copyright © 1999 Buddhist Publication Society
BPS Online Edition © (2008)

Digital Transcription Source: BPS Transcription Project

For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted and redistributed in
any medium. However, any such republication and redistribution is to be made available to the
public on a free and unrestricted basis, and translations and other derivative works are to be
clearly marked as such.

Contents

Abbreviations …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
Publisher’s Note ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
The Buddha’s Teaching…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

What Is the Dhamma? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
There is No First Beginning…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
The Four Noble Truths………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
I The Truth of Suffering……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 10
II The Truth of the Origin of Suffering………………………………………………………………………………… 13
III The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering………………………………………………………………………….. 14
IV The Truth of the Way ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 16

(1) Right View………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
(2) Right Intention ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24
(3) Right Speech……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
(4) Right Action ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25
(5) Right Livelihood…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 25
(6) Right Effort …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26
(7) Right Mindfulness ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 26
(8) Right Concentration ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 30

The Noble Eightfold Path in Practice …………………………………………………………………………………… 33
The Means …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 36
The End……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 37

Notes ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 38

AN A􏰀guttara Nikāya
DN Dīgha Nikāya
Iti Itivuttaka
Khp Khuddakapā􏰃ha
MN Majjhima Nikāya
Sn Suttanipāta

SN Sa􏰄yutta Nikāya
Ud Udāna
Vin Vinaya

Abbreviations

2

Voices

Narrator One. A commentator, or compeer, of the present time, who introduces the others, and
who represents a dispassionate onlooker with some general knowledge of the events.

Narrator Two. A commentator who supplies historical and traditional information contained
only in the medieval Pali commentaries (mainly those of the fifth century by the Elder
Buddhaghosa). His functions are to give the minimum of such material needed for historical
clarity and, occasionally, to summarize portions of the Canon itself.

First Voice. The voice of the Elder Ānanda, the disciple and personal attendant of the Buddha,
who recited the Discourses (or Suttas) at the First Council, held at Rājagaha three months
after the Buddha’s attainment of final Nibbāna.

Second Voice. The voice of the Elder Upāli, disciple of the Buddha, who recited the Discipline (or
Vinaya) at the First Council.

3

Publisher’s Note

The present Wheel booklet contains Chapter 12 of Bhikkhu Ñā􏰁amoli’s classic compilation, The
Life of the Buddha according to the Pali Canon
. The purpose of that book, now in print for 27 years,
had been to construct a biography of the Buddha by piecing together all the relevant material
scattered throughout the Vinaya and the Sutta Pi􏰃akas. Since the Buddha’s life was in many
respects inseparable from his teaching, Ven. Ñā􏰁amoli had included, in the middle of the book,
an anthology of texts dealing with the teaching, which he entitled “The Doctrine.” In his
introduction he described his purpose thus:

In Chapter 12 the main elements of doctrine have been brought together roughly following
an order suggested by the Discourses. No interpretation has been attempted, … but rather
the material has been put together in such a way as to help the reader make his own. A
stereotyped interpretation risks slipping into one of the types of metaphysical wrong view,
which the Buddha himself has described in great detail. If Chapter 12 is found rather
forbidding, let the last words of Anāthapi􏰁􏰅ika be pleaded in justification for its
inclusion….

The “last words of Anāthapi􏰁􏰅ika,” the Buddha’s chief patron, were: “Let such (profound) talks
on the Dhamma be given to the laity. There are some with little dust in their eyes who are
wasting through not hearing such talks on the Dhamma. Some of them will gain final
knowledge of the Dhamma.”

Several readers had suggested to the publisher that Chapter 12 of Life of the Buddha could well
stand on its own as an excellent little handbook of the Buddha’s teachings, useful for study,
reflection, and meditation. With this aim it is being issued as a separate Wheel booklet. The
structure of the anthology is based on the formula of the Four Noble Truths and the eight factors
of the Noble Eightfold Path, which the Buddha announced in his First Sermon at Benares and
returned to again and again throughout his ministry. Within this framework Ven. Ñā􏰁amoli has
incorporated a wide variety of texts which throw new and illuminating spotlights on the subtle
implications of these familiar formulas.

We hope this booklet will fulfil the purpose for which it is being published.

4

What Is the Dhamma?

The Buddha’s Teaching

Narrator One. What is the “Dhamma” that was “well proclaimed” by the “Supreme Physician”?
Is it an attempt to make a complete description of the world? Is it a metaphysical system?

First Voice. The Blessed One was once living at Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove. A deity called
Rohitassa came to him late in the night, paid homage to him and asked: “Lord, the world’s end
where one neither is born nor ages nor dies nor passes away nor reappears: is it possible to
know or see or reach that by travelling there?”

“Friend, that there is a world’s end where one neither is born nor ages nor dies nor passes
away nor reappears, which is to be known or seen or reached by travelling there—that I do not
say. Yet I do not say that there is ending of suffering without reaching the world’s end. Rather it
is in this fathom-long carcase with its perceptions and its mind that I describe the world, the
origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the way leading to the cessation of the
world.

“It is utterly impossible
To reach by walking the world’s end;
But none escape from suffering
Unless the world’s end has been reached.
It is a Sage, a knower of the world,
Who gets to the world’s end, and it is he
By whom the holy life has been lived out;
In knowing the world’s end he is at peace
And hopes for neither this world nor the next.”

SN 2:36; AN 4:46

The Blessed One was once living at Kosambī in a wood of si􏰄sapā trees. He picked up a few
leaves in his hand, and he asked the bhikkhus: “How do you conceive this, bhikkhus, which is
more, the few leaves that I have picked up in my hand or those on the trees in the wood?”

“The leaves that the Blessed One has picked up in his hand are few, Lord; those in the wood
are far more.”

“So too, bhikkhus, the things that I have known by direct knowledge are more: the things that
I have told you are only a few. Why have I not told them? Because they bring no benefit, no
advancement in the holy life, and because they do not lead to dispassion, to fading, to ceasing,
to stilling, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. That is why I have not told them.
And what have I told you? ’This is suffering; this is the origin of suffering; this is the cessation of
suffering; this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ That is what I have told you. Why
have I told it? Because it brings benefit, and advancement in the holy life, and because it leads to
dispassion, to fading, to ceasing, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.
So, bhikkhus, let your task be this: ’This is suffering, this is the origin of suffering, this the
cessation of suffering, this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

SN 56:31

Narrator One. It is not, then, an attempt to make some complete description of the world, either
internal or external. Is it a metaphysical system—a consistent logical construction—and if so,
what premiss is it based on?

5

First Voice. Once when the Blessed One had gone into Rājagaha for alms the naked ascetic
Kassapa went up to him, and after greeting him, he said: “We would ask Master Gotama
something, if Master Gotama would consent to give an answer.” — “It is not the time for
questions, Kassapa; we are among houses.” He asked a second and a third time and received the
same reply. Then he said: “It is not much we want to ask, Master Gotama.” — “Ask, then,
Kassapa, whatever you like.”

“How is it, Master Gotama, is suffering of one’s own making?” — “Do not put it like that,
Kassapa.” — “Then is suffering of another’s making? — “Do not put it like that, Kassapa.” —
“Then is suffering both of one’s own and another’s making?” — “Do not put it like that,
Kassapa.” — “Then is suffering neither of one’s own nor another’s making but fortuitous?” —
“Do not put it like that, Kassapa.” — “Then is there no suffering?” — “It is not a fact that there is
no suffering: there is suffering, Kassapa.” — “Then does Master Gotama neither know nor see
suffering?” — “It is not a fact that I neither know nor see suffering: I both know and see
suffering, Kassapa.”

SN 12:17

Once too the wanderer Uttiya went to the Blessed One, and after greeting him, he sat down at
one side. Then he asked: “How is it, Master Gotama, the world is eternal: is only that the truth
and everything else wrong?” — “That is not answered by me, Uttiya.” — “Then the world is not
eternal: is only that the truth and everything else wrong?” — “That too is not answered by me,
Uttiya.” — “The world is finite: is only that the truth and everything else wrong?” — “That too
is not answered by me, Uttiya.” — “Then the world is infinite: is only that the truth and
everything else wrong?” — “That too is not answered by me, Uttiya.” — “The soul is the same
as the body: is only that the truth and everything else wrong?” — “That too is not answered by
me, Uttiya.” — “Then the soul is one and the body another: is only that the truth and everything
else wrong?” — “That too is not answered by me, Uttiya.” — “After death a Perfect One is: is
only that the truth and everything else wrong?” — “That too is not answered by me, Uttiya.” —
“Then after death a Perfect One is not: is only that the truth and everything else wrong?” —
“That too is not answered by me, Uttiya.” — “Then after death a Perfect One both is and is not:
is only that the truth and everything else wrong?” — “That too is not answered by me, Uttiya.”
— “Then after death a Perfect One neither is nor is not: is only that the truth and everything else
wrong?” — “That too is not answered by me, Uttiya.”

“But why does Master Gotama decline to answer when I ask him these questions? What then
is answered by Master Gotama?”

“I teach the Dhamma to disciples from direct knowledge, Uttiya, for the purification of
beings, for surmounting sorrow and lamentation, for ending pain and grief, for attainment of
the true goal, for realizing Nibbāna.”

“Master Gotama, does that Dhamma provide an outlet from suffering for all the world, or for
half, or for a third?”

When this was said, the Blessed One remained silent.

Then the Venerable Ānanda thought: “The wanderer Uttiya must not conceive any such
pernicious view as ’When the monk Gotama is asked a question peculiar to me and to no one
else and he founders and does not answer, is it because he is unable?’ That would be long for his
harm and suffering.” So he said to him: “Friend Uttiya, I shall give you a simile; for some wise
men here get to know through a simile the meaning of what is said.

“Suppose a king had a city with strong ditches, ramparts and bastions, and a single gate, and
he had a wise, clever, sagacious gate-keeper there who stopped those whom he did not know

6

and admitted only those whom he knew; and since he had himself gone round the path
encircling the city and had seen no gaps in the ramparts or any hole even big enough for a cat to
pass through, he might conclude that living beings above a certain size must go in and out
through the gate—so too, friend Uttiya, a Perfect One’s concern is not that ’All the world shall
find an outlet by this, or a half, or a third,’ but rather that ’Whoever has found or finds or will
find an outlet from the world of suffering, that is always done by abandoning the five
hindrances (of desire for sensuality, ill will, lethargy-and-drowsiness, agitation-and-worry, and
uncertainty), defilements that weaken understanding, and by maintaining in being the seven
factors of enlightenment with minds well established on the four foundations of mindfulness.’

“Your question which you put to the Blessed One was framed in the wrong way; that was
why the Blessed One did not answer it.”

AN 10:95

On another occasion the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and exchanged
greetings with him. Then he asked: “How is it, Master Gotama, does self exist?” When this was
said, the Blessed One was silent. “How is it, then, Master Gotama, does self not exist?” And for a
second time the Blessed One was silent. Then the wanderer Vacchagotta got up from his seat
and went away. Not long after he had gone the Venerable Ānanda asked the Blessed One:
“Lord, how is it that when the Blessed One was questioned he did not answer?”

“If, when I was asked ’Does self exist?’ I had answered ’Self exists,’ that would have been the
belief of those who hold the theory of eternalism. And if, when I was asked ’Does self not exist?’
I had answered ’Self does not exist,’ that would have been the belief of those who hold the
theory of annihilationism. Again, if, when asked ’Does self exist?’ I had answered ’Self exists,’
would that have been in conformity with my knowledge that all things are not-self? And if,
when asked ’Does self not exist?’ I had answered ’Self does not exist,’ then confused as he
already is, Ānanda, the wanderer Vacchagotta would have become still more confused,
assuming: ’Surely then I had a self before and now have none.’”

SN 44:10

At one time the Blessed One was living at Sāvatthī, and at that time a number of wandering
monks and brahmans of various sects had gone into Sāvatthī for alms. They had differing views,
opinions, and notions, and they relied for support on their differing views. There were some
monks and brahmans who asserted and believed that “The world is eternal: only this is true,
everything else is wrong,” and some who asserted and believed each of the other nine views.
They quarreled, brawled, wrangled, and wounded each other with verbal darts: “The Dhamma
is like this; the Dhamma is not like this! The Dhamma is not like this; the Dhamma is like this!”

Then a number of bhikkhus, on their return from their alms round, told the Blessed One
about it. The Blessed One said: “Bhikkhus, there was once a certain king in Sāvatthi. He told a
man: ’Come, man, get together all the men in Sāvatthī who have been born blind.’ — ’Yes, sire,’
he replied. And when he had done so, he told the king, who said, ’Then show them an
elephant.’ He did so, saying, ’You men blind from birth, an elephant is like this,’ and he showed
the elephant’s head to some and its ear to others and its tusk to others and its trunk to others
and its body to others and its foot to others and its rump to others and its tail to others and the
tuft at the end of its tail to others. Then he went to the king and told him what he had done.

“So the king went to the men blind from birth, and he asked them: ’Has an elephant been
shown to you?’ — ’Yes, sire.’ — ’Then describe what the elephant is like.’ Now those who had
been shown the head said ’Sire, the elephant is like a jar,’ and those shown the ear said ’It is like
a winnowing basket,’ and those shown the tusk said ’It is like a post,’ and those shown the
trunk said ’It is like a plough’s pole,’ and those shown the body said ’It is like a granary,’ and

7

those shown the foot said ’It is like the base of a column,’ and those shown the rump said ’It is
like a mortar,’ and those shown the tail said ’It is like a pestle,’ and those shown the tuft at the
end of the tail said ’It is like a broom.’ They fought among themselves with their fists, crying:
’The elephant is like this; it is not like this! The elephant is not like this; it is like this!’ But the
king was pleased.

“So too the wanderers of other sects are blind and eyeless. That is why they quarrel, brawl,
wrangle, and wound each other with verbal darts: ’The Dhamma is like this; the Dhamma is not
like this! The Dhamma is not like this; the Dhamma is like this!’”

Ud 6:4

Narrator One. So it would appear to be a mistake to call the Buddha’s teaching either an attempt
to describe the world completely or a metaphysical system built up by logic. Is it, then, an
ethical commandment, a revealed religion of faith, or simply a stoical code of behaviour? Before
an attempt can be made to find answers to those questions, some sort of a survey of the
doctrines taught is needed. The material contained in the Discourses seems, in fact, to be rather
in the nature of material for a map, for each to make his own map, but all oriented alike. These
oriented descriptions of facets of experience, in fact, enable a person to estimate his position and
judge for himself what he had better do.

The Discourses offer not so much a description as a set of overlapping descriptions. Close
examination of existence finds always something of the qualities of the mirage and of the
paradox behind the appearance. The ends can never be made quite to meet. The innumerable
different facets presented in the Suttas with countless repetitions of certain of these facets in
varying combinations and contexts remind one of a collection of air photographs from which
maps are to be made. The facets in the Discourses are all oriented to cessation of suffering, the
four points of their compass being the Four Noble Truths. Let us try to make a specimen map
out of some of this material. In this case, since a start has to be made somewhere, we can start
for our baseline with birth, which, like death, is to the ordinary man an everyday fact and at the
same time an insoluble mystery.

There is No First Beginning
Narrator Two. Is consciousness conceivable without a past? Can it be said to have a beginning?

First Voice. “Bhikkhus, the round is beginningless. Of the beings that travel and trudge
through this round, shut in as they are by ignorance and fettered by craving, no first beginning
is describable.”

SN 15:1

“That both I and you have to travel and trudge through this long round is owing to our not
discovering, not penetrating, four truths. What four? They are: (I) the noble truth of suffering,
(II) the noble truth of the origin of suffering, (III) the noble truth of the cessation of suffering,
and (IV) the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.”

DN 16

The Four Noble Truths
Narrator Two. Now here is a description of the Four Noble Truths.

First Voice. I. “What is the noble truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering,
sickness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are
suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not

8

to get what one wants is suffering; in short, the five aggregates affected by clinging are
suffering.”
1

SN 56:11

II. “What is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? It is craving, which renews being, and is
accompanied by relish and lust, relishing this and that: in other words, craving for sensual
desires, craving for being, craving for non-being. But whereon does this craving arise and
flourish? Wherever there is that which seems lovable and gratifying, thereon it arises and
flourishes.”

DN 22

“It is with ignorance as condition that formations come to be; with formations as condition,
consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form; with name-and-form as
condition, the sixfold base for contact; with the sixfold base as condition, contact; with contact as
condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with
clinging as condition, being; with being as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing and
death come to be, and also sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; that is how there is
an origin to this whole aggregate mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the origin of
suffering.”

AN 3:61

III. “What is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering? It is the remainderless fading and
cessation of that same craving, the rejecting, relinquishing, leaving and renouncing of it. But
whereon is this craving abandoned and made to cease? Wherever there is that which seems
lovable and gratifying, thereon it is abandoned and made to cease.”

DN 22

“With the remainderless fading and cessation of ignorance there is cessation of formations; with
cessation of formations, cessation of consciousness … with cessation of birth, ageing and death
cease, and also sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; that is how there is a cessation
to this whole aggregate mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the cessation of
suffering.”

AN 3:61

IV. “What is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering? It is this Noble
Eightfold Path, that is to say: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right
livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.”

DN 22

“Of these Four Noble Truths, the noble truth of suffering must be penetrated to by full
knowledge of suffering; the noble truth of the origin of suffering must be penetrated to by
abandoning craving; the noble truth of the cessation of suffering must be penetrated to by
realizing cessation of craving; the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering
must be penetrated to by maintaining in being the Noble Eightfold Path.”

SN 56:11 and 29 (adapted)
“These Four Noble Truths (Actualities) are real, not unreal, not other than they seem.”

SN 56:27
Narrator One. The Four Noble Truths are each analysed and defined in detail.

9

I The Truth of Suffering

Narrator Two. It was said that the truth of suffering was “in short, the five aggregates affected by
clinging.” Here are definitions of them.

First Voice. “What are the five aggregates affected by clinging? They are the (material) form
aggregate affected by clinging, the feeling aggregate affected by clinging, the perception
aggregate affected by clinging, the formations aggregate affected by clinging, and the
consciousness aggregate affected by clinging.”

DN 22

“Why does one say ’form’? It is deformed (ruppati), that is why it is called ’form’ (rūpa).
Deformed by what? By cold and heat and hunger and thirst, by contact with gadflies, gnats,
wind, sunburn and creeping things.”

SN 22:79

“What is form? The four great entities and any form derived upon them by clinging are called
form.”

SN 22:56

“Whatever in oneself, belonging to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung to (organic), such as
head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin; flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys; heart,
liver, midriff, spleen, lights; bowels, entrails, gorge, dung, or whatever else in oneself, belonging
to oneself, is solid, solidified, and clung to: that is called earth element
2 in oneself. Now earth
element in oneself and external earth element are only earth element.

“Whatever in oneself … is water, watery, and clung to, such as bile, phlegm, pus, blood,
sweat, fat; tears, grease, spittle, snot, oil of the joints, urine, or whatever else in oneself … is
water, watery, and clung to: that is called water element in oneself. Now water element in
oneself and external water element are only water element.

“Whatever in oneself … is fire, fiery, and clung to, such as that whereby one is warmed, ages,
and is consumed, and whereby what is eaten, drunk, chewed and tasted gets digested and
assimilated, or whatever else in oneself … is fire, fiery, and clung to: that is called fire element in
oneself. Now fire element in oneself and external fire element are only fire element.

“Whatever in oneself … is air, airy, and clung to, such as upgoing winds (forces), down-going
winds (forces), winds (forces) in the belly and in the bowels, winds (forces) that pervade all the
limbs, in-breath and out-breath, or whatever else in oneself … is air, airy, and clung to: that is
called air element in oneself. Now air element in oneself and external air element are only air
element.

“Also whatever in oneself … is space, spatial, and clung to, such as ear-hole, nose-hole,
mouth-door, and that (aperture) whereby what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted is
swallowed, and that wherein it is contained, and that whereby it passes out below, or whatever
else in oneself … is space, spatial, and clung to: that is called space element. Now space element
in oneself and external space element are only space element … And space element has nowhere
any standing of its own.”

MN 62

“Any form whatever, whether past, future, or present, in oneself or external, coarse or fine,
inferior or superior, far or near, that is affected by taints and provocative of clinging: that is
called the form aggregate affected by clinging.”

SN 22:48

10

“Why does one say ’feeling’? It is felt, that is why it is called feeling. Felt as what? Felt as
pleasure, as pain, or as neither-pain-nor-pleasure.”

SN 22:79; cf. MN 43

“Whatever is felt bodily or mentally as pleasant and gratifying is pleasant feeling. Whatever is
felt bodily or mentally as painful and hurting is painful feeling. Whatever is felt bodily or
mentally as neither gratifying nor hurting is neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling…. Pleasant
feeling is pleasant in virtue of presence and painful in virtue of change. Painful feeling is painful
in virtue of presence and pleasant in virtue of change. Neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling is
pleasant in virtue of knowledge and painful in virtue of want of knowledge.”

MN 44

“There are these six bodies of (such) feeling: feeling born of eye-contact, of ear-contact, of nose-
contact, of tongue-contact, of body-contact, and of mind-contact.”

SN 22:56

“Any feeling whatever … that is affected by taints and provocative of clinging: that is called the
feeling aggregate affected by clinging.”

SN 22:48

“Why does one say ’perception’? It perceives, that is why it is called perception. Perceives what?
It perceives, for example, blue and yellow and red and white.”

SN 22:79

“There are these six bodies of perception: perception of (visible) forms, of sounds, of odours, of
flavours, of tangibles, and of ideas.”

SN 22:56

“Any perception whatever … that is affected by taints and provocative of clinging: that is called
the perception aggregate affected by clinging.”

SN 22:48

“Why does one say ’formations’? They form the formed, that is why they are called formations.
What is the formed that they form? (Material) form as the state (essence) of form is the formed
(compounded) that they form (compound); feeling as the state of feeling is the formed that they
form; perception as the state of perception is the formed that they form; formations as the state
of formations is the formed that they form; consciousness as the state of consciousness is the
formed that they form.”
3

SN 22:79

“Three kinds of formations: formation of merit (as action which ripens in pleasure), formation of
demerit (as action which ripens in pain), and formation of imperturbability (as action, namely,
meditation, which ripens in the formless states, which for as long as they last are unperturbed
by perception of form, resistance, or difference).”

DN 33

“Three formations: in-breaths and out-breaths belong to a body, these are things bound up with
a body, that is why they are a bodily formation. Having previously thought and explored, one
breaks into speech, that is why thinking and exploring are a verbal formation. Perception and
feeling belong to consciousness, these are things bound up with consciousness, that is why they
are a mental formation.”

11

MN 44; cf. MN 9

“What are formations? There are six bodies of choice:4 choice among visible forms, sounds,
odours, flavours, tangibles, and mental objects.”

“Choice I call action.”

SN 22:56

AN 6:63

“Any formations whatever … that are affected by taints and provocative of clinging: these are
called the formations aggregate affected by clinging.”

SN 22:48

“Why does one say ’consciousness’? It cognizes, that is why it is called consciousness. Cognizes
what? It cognizes, for example, the sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, alkaline, unalkaline, salty, and
unsalty.”

SN 22:79

“What does that consciousness cognize? It cognizes, for example, that there is pleasure, that
there is pain, that there is neither-pain-nor-pleasure.”

MN 43, 140

“There are these six bodies of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-, nose-, tongue-, body-, and
mind-consciousness.”

SN 22:56

“Consciousness is called after the conditions due to which it arises. When consciousness arises
due to eye and forms, it is called eye-consciousness; due to ear and sounds, ear-consciousness;
… due to mind and ideas, mind-consciousness.”

MN 38

“Feeling, perception and consciousness are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is impossible to
separate each from each in order to describe their different potentialities; for what one feels, that
one perceives, and what one perceives, that one cognizes. By bare mind-consciousness disjoined
from the five sense-faculties the (external) base consisting of infiniteness of space can be known
thus ’infinite space’; the (external) base consisting of infiniteness of consciousness can be known
thus ’infinite consciousness’; and the (external) base consisting of nothingness can be known
thus ’there is nothing at all.’ A knowable idea is understood by the eye of understanding.”

MN 43

“Consciousness depends for its being upon a duality (the duality of the in-oneself and the
external bases for contact).”

SN 35:93

“Any consciousness whatever, whether past, future or present, in oneself or external, coarse or
fine, inferior or superior, far or near, that is affected by taints and provocative of clinging: that is
called the consciousness aggregate affected by clinging.”

SN 22:48

“These five aggregates affected by clinging have desire for their root…. The four great entities
(of earth, water, fire, and air) are the cause and condition for describing the form aggregate.
Contact is the cause and condition for describing the aggregates of feeling, perception, and

12

formations. Name-and-form is the cause and condition for describing the consciousness
aggregate.”

MN 109

“Whatever monks or brahmans recollect their past life in its various modes, they all recollect the
five aggregates affected by clinging or one or another of them.”

SN 22:79

II The Truth of the Origin of Suffering
Narrator Two. Here are detailed definitions of the second noble truth.

First Voice. “These five aggregates affected by clinging have desire for their root…. The
clinging is neither the same as the five aggregates affected by clinging, nor is it something apart
from them. It is the desire and lust comprised in them that is the clinging there.”

“That comes to be when there is this; that arises with the arising of this.”5

MN 109

MN 38

“(In the statement of dependent arising:)6 What is ageing? In the various orders of beings, it is
any being’s ageing, old age, brokenness of teeth, greyness of hair and wrinkledness, decline of
life and weakening of sense-faculties. What is
death? In the various orders of beings, it is any
being’s passing, passing away, dissolution, disappearance, dying, completion of time,
dissolution of aggregates, laying down of the carcase. What is
birth? In the various orders of
beings, it is any being’s birth, coming to birth, precipitation in a womb, generation,
manifestation of aggregates, acquisition of bases for contact. What is
being? Three kinds of being
are: being in the mode of sensual desire, being in the mode of form, being in the mode of the
formless. What is
clinging? There are four varieties of clinging: clinging as the habit of sensual
desire, clinging as the habit of wrong view, clinging as the habit of (misapprehension of) virtue
and duty,
7 and clinging as the habit of self-theories. What is craving? There are six bodies of
craving: craving for visible forms, sounds, odours, flavours, tangibles, and ideas. What is
feeling?
There are six bodies of (the three sorts of) feeling: feeling born of eye-contact, of ear-contact, of
nose-contact, of tongue-contact, of body-contact, and of mind-contact. What is
contact?8 There
are six bodies of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact,
mind-contact. What is the
sixfold base? It is the eye-base, ear-base, nose-base, tongue-base, body-
base, and mind-base. What is
name-and-form?9 What is called name comprises feeling, perception,
choice,
10 contact, and attention; what is called form comprises the four great entities and any
forms derived upon them by clinging; so this name and this form are what is called name-and-
form. What is
consciousness? There are six bodies of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-
consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, and mind-
consciousness. What are
formations? Three formations are: the bodily formation, verbal
formation, and mental formation. What is
ignorance? It is nescience about suffering, about the
origin of suffering, about the cessation of suffering, and about the way leading to the cessation
of suffering.”

SN 12:2

“Dependent on eye and visible forms, eye-consciousness arises; the coincidence of the three is
contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; that is how there is
an origin to suffering (and so with ear … mind).”

SN 12:43

13

“Inflamed by lust, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overwhelmed by them and his mind
obsessed, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, and for the affliction of
both, and experiences pain and grief.”

AN 3:55

“Being are owners of actions, heirs of actions, they have actions as their progenitor, actions as
their kin (and responsibility), actions as their home-refuge; it is actions that differentiate beings
into the inferior and superior.”

MN 135

“What is old action? Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind, are old action (already) determined and
chosen that must be experienced to be seen. What is new action? It is whatever action one does
now, whether by body, speech, or mind.”

SN 35:145

“This body is not yours or another’s, but is past action (already) determined and chosen that
must be experienced to be seen.”

SN 12:37

“It is choice that I call action; it is in choosing that a man acts by body, speech, and mind. There
are actions whose ripening will be experienced in hell, in the animal womb, in the realm of
ghosts, among human beings, and in heavenly worlds. Actions ripen in three ways: they can
ripen here and now, on reappearance, or in some life-process beyond that.”

AN 6:63

“Actions done out of lust or hate or delusion ripen wherever an individual selfhood is
generated, and wherever those actions ripen, there their ripening is experienced, whether here
and now or on next reappearance or in some life-process beyond that.”

AN 3:33

“There are four incalculables, which cannot be calculated, an attempt to calculate which would
lead to frustration and madness. What four? They are the objective field of the Buddhas, the
objective field of one who has acquired the meditations, the ripening of action, and the
calculation of the world.”

“The world is led by mind.”

III The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
Narrator Two. Here are detailed definitions of the third truth.

AN 4:77
SN 1:72

First Voice. “That does not come to be when there is not this; that ceases with the cessation of
this.”

MN 38

“Dependent on eye and visible forms, eye-consciousness arises; the coincidence of the three is
contact; with contact as condition, there arises what is felt as pleasant or as painful or as neither-
painful-nor-pleasant. If, on experiencing the contact of pleasant feeling, one does not relish it or
welcome it or accept it, and if no underlying tendency in one to lust for it any longer underlies
it—if, on experiencing the contact of painful feeling, one does not sorrow or lament or beat one’s

14

breast, weep and become distraught, and if no underlying tendency in one to resistance to it any
longer underlies it—if, on experiencing the contact of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, one
understands, as it actually is, the arising, disappearance, gratification, dangerous inadequacy,
and escape, in the case of that feeling, and if no underlying tendency in one to ignorance any
longer underlies it—then, indeed, that one shall make an end of suffering by abandoning the
underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by eliminating the underlying tendency to
resist painful feeling, and by abolishing the underlying tendency to ignore neither-painful-nor-
pleasant feeling: that is possible.”

MN 148

“When lust, hate, and delusion are abandoned, a man does not choose for his own affliction or
for others’ affliction or for the affliction of both. In that way there comes to be Nibbāna here and
now, without delay, inviting inspection, onward-leading, and experienceable by the wise.”

AN 3:55

“Actions done out of non-lust, non-hate, and non-delusion, done when lust, hate, and delusion
have disappeared, are abandoned, cut off at the root, made like a palm stump, done away with,
and are no more subject to future arising.”

AN 3:33

“Formless states are more peaceful than states of form; cessation is more peaceful than formless
states.”
11

It 73

“There is that (external) base where no earth (is), or water or fire or air or base consisting of
infinity of space or base consisting of infinity of consciousness or base consisting of nothingness
or base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception or this world or the other world or
moon or sun; and that I call neither a coming nor a going nor a staying nor a dying nor a
reappearance; it has no basis, no evolution, no support; it is the end of suffering.

“The Unaffected is hard to see;
It is not easy to see Truth.
To know is to uncover craving;
To see is to have done with owning.

“There is an unborn, an un-brought-to-being, an unmade, an unformed. If there were not, there
would be no escape described here for one who is born, brought to being, made, formed. But
since there is an unborn, an un-brought-to-being, an unmade, an unformed, an escape is
therefore described here for one who is born, brought to being, made, formed.”

Ud 8:1–3

“There are two elements of Nibbāna. What two? There is the element of Nibbāna with result of
past clinging still left, and the element of Nibbāna without result of past clinging left. What is
the element of Nibbāna with result of past clinging still left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant with
taints exhausted, who has lived out the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden,
reached the highest goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and who is completely liberated
through final knowledge. His five sense faculties remain, owing to the presence of which he still
encounters the agreeable and disagreeable, still experiences the pleasant and painful. It is the
exhaustion of lust, of hate, and of delusion in him that is called the element of Nibbāna with
result of past clinging still left. And what is the element of Nibbāna without result of past
clinging left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant who has lived out the life … and is completely
liberated through final knowledge. All in him that is felt will, since he does not relish it, become

15

cool here in this very life: this is called the element of Nibbāna without result of past clinging
left.”

It 44
“That which is the exhaustion of lust, of hate, and of delusion, is called Nibbāna.”

“Just as a flame blown by the wind’s force,
Upasīva,” said the Blessed One,
“Goes out, and designation applies to it no more,
So too the Silent Sage,

Being freed from the name-body,
Goes out, and designation applies to him no more.”
“Then when he has thus gone out,
Does he exist no more?
Or is he made immortal for eternity?
So may it please the Sage to make this plain to me,
Because it is a state that he has understood.”
“There is no measuring of one who has gone out,
Upasīva,” said the Blessed One,
“And nothing of him
Whereby one could say aught of him;
For when all ideas have been abolished,
All ways of saying, too, have been abolished.”

IV The Truth of the Way

Sn 5:7

Narrator Two. The fourth noble truth is the Noble Eightfold Path. Each of its eight components
needs a separate definition.

(1) Right View

First Voice. “Just as the dawn heralds and foretells the rising of the sun, so right view heralds
and foretells the penetration to the Four Noble Truths according as they really are.”

SN 56:37

Narrator Two. Right view has many facets. Let us take them one by one, beginning with
“ripening of action,” which, in certain forms and with some reservations, is also shared by other
teachings.

First Voice. “Right view comes first.12 How? One understands wrong view as wrong view, and
one understands right view as right view. What is wrong view. The view that there is nothing
given, offered or sacrificed,
13 no fruit or ripening of good and bad actions, no this world, no
other world, no mother, no father, no apparitional beings, no good and virtuous monks and
brahmans who have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declare this world and the
other world: this is wrong view.

“What is right view? There are two kinds of right view: there is that affected by taints, which
brings merit and ripens in the essentials of existence; and there is the noble ones’ right view
without taints, which is supramundane and a factor of the path.

16

SN 38:1

“What is right view affected by taints? The view that there is what is given, offered and
sacrificed, and that there is fruit and ripening of good and bad actions, and there is this world
and the other world and mother and father and apparitional beings and good and virtuous
monks and brahmans who have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declare this
world and the other world: this is right view affected by taints which brings merit and ripens in
the essentials of existence.

“And what is the noble ones’ right view? Any understanding, understanding faculty,
understanding power, investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, right view as path factor, in
one whose mind is ennobled and taintless, who possesses the path, and who maintains it in
being: this is the noble ones’ right view without taints, which is supramundane and a factor of
the path.”

MN 117

Narrator Two. Again, it is right view of dependent arising—the basic structure of the “teaching
peculiar to Buddhas” and the first of the new discoveries made by the Buddha. Nothing can
arise alone, without the support of other things on which its existence depends.

Second Voice.

“The Perfect One has told the cause
Of causally arisen things;
And what brings their cessation too:
Such is the doctrine preached by the Great Monk.”

“The spotless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in him: All that is subject to arising is
subject to cessation.”

Vin Mahāvagga 1:23

First Voice. “That comes to be when there is this; that arises with the arising of this. That does
not come to be when there is not this; that ceases with the cessation of this.”

MN 38

“He who sees dependent arising sees the Dhamma; he who sees the Dhamma sees dependent
arising.”

MN 28

“Whether Perfect Ones appear or not, there remains this element, this structure of things
(phenomena), this certainty in things, namely: specific conditionality. A Perfect One discovers
it.”

SN 12:20

“If there were no birth altogether in any way of anything anywhere … there being no birth, with
the cessation of birth, could ageing and death be described?” — 􏰂o, Lord.” — “Consequently
this is a reason, a source, an origin, a condition, for ageing and death.” (And so on with the
other pairs in the formula of dependent arising.)

DN 15

“Lord, ’right view, right view’ is said. What does ’right view’ refer to?” — “Usually, Kaccāyana,
this world depends upon the dualism of existence and non-existence. But when one sees the
world’s origin as it actually is with right understanding, there is for him none of (what is called)
non-existence in the world; and when he sees the world’s cessation as it actually is with right
understanding, there is for him none of (what is called) existence in the world.

17

“Usually the world is shackled by bias, clinging, and insistence; but one such as this (who has
right view), instead of allowing bias, instead of clinging, and instead of deciding about ’my self,’
with such bias, such clinging, and such mental decision in the guise of underlying tendency to
insist, he has no doubt or uncertainty that what arises is only arising suffering, and what ceases
is only ceasing suffering, and in this his knowledge is independent of others. That is what ’right
view’ refers to. ’(An) all exists’ is one extreme; ’(an) all does not exist’ is the other extreme.
Instead of resorting to either extreme, a Perfect One expounds the Dhamma by the middle way:
’It is with ignorance as condition that formations come to be; with formations as condition,
consciousness; with consciousness…’ (And so on with both arising and cessation.)”

SN 12:15

“If one asserts: ’He who makes (suffering) feels (it): being one existent from the beginning, his
suffering is of his own making,’ then one arrives at eternalism. But if one asserts: ’One makes
(suffering), another feels (it): being one existent crushed out by feeling, his suffering is of
another’s making,’ then one arrives at annihilationism. Instead of resorting to either of these
extremes, a Perfect One expounds the Dhamma by the middle way: … (that is, by dependent
arising and cessation).”

“All beings are maintained by nutriment.”

SN 12:17

DN 33; AN 10:27, 28; Khp 2

“What is nutriment? There are these four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that
already are, and for the assistance of those seeking renewal of being: they are physical food as
nutriment, gross or subtle, contact as the second, choice as the third, and consciousness as the
fourth.”

SN 12:63; MN 38

Narrator Two. The very essence of right view is, however, understanding of the Four Noble
Truths, which embrace dependent arising and constitute the “teaching peculiar to Buddhas.”
They formed the subject of the First Sermon.

First Voice. “What is right view? It is knowledge of suffering, of the origin of suffering, of the
cessation of suffering, and of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called right
view.”

SN 45:8; DN 22
(I) “’Four venomous snakes’ is a name for the four great entities (of earth, water, fire, and air).”

“Form is like a lump of froth,
Feelings like a water bubble,
Perception too is like a mirage,
Formations like a plaintain trunk.
14
And consciousness, the Sun’s Kinsman shows,
Seems nothing but a conjuring trick.”

SN 35:197

SN 22:95

“The six bases in oneself can be termed an empty village; for whether a wise man investigates
them as to the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind, they appear alike hollow, empty, and void.
The six external bases can be termed village-raiding robbers; for the eye is harassed among
agreeable and disagreeable forms, the ear among such sounds, the nose among such odours, the

18

tongue among such flavours, the body among such tangibles, and the mind among such mental
objects.”

(II) “In the world I see this generation
Racked by craving for being,
Wretched men gibbering in the face of Death,
Still craving, hoping for some kind of being.
See how they tremble

Over what they claim as ’mine,’
Like fishes in the puddles of a failing stream.”

SN 35:197

Sn 4:2

(III) “This is (the most) peaceful, this is (the goal) superior (to all), that is to say, the stilling of all
formations, the relinquishing of all essentials of existence, the exhaustion of craving, cessation,
Nibbāna.”

(IV) “The greatest of (worldly) gains is health;
Nibbāna is the greatest bliss;
The eightfold path is the best of paths,
To lead in safety to the Deathless.”

AN 10:60

MN 75

Narrator Two. Again it is right view of the three general characteristics of impermanence,
suffering (or insecurity), and not-self, which express comprehensively what dependent arising
expresses structurally. They were the subject of the Second Sermon.

First Voice. “There are three formed characteristics of what is formed:15 arising is evident, fall
is evident, and alteration of what is present is evident. There are three unformed characteristics
of what is unformed: no arising is evident, no fall is evident, and no alteration of what is present
is evident.”

AN 3:47

“When one understands how form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness (and how
the eye, etc.) are impermanent, one therein possesses right view.”

SN 22:51; 35:155

“All is impermanent. And what is the all that is impermanent? The eye is impermanent, forms
are impermanent, eye-consciousness … eye-contact, whatever is felt as pleasant, painful, or
neither-painful-nor-pleasant born of eye-contact is impermanent. The ear, etc…. The nose, etc….
The tongue, etc…. The body, etc. … The mind is impermanent, mental objects … mind-
consciousness … mind-contact … whatever is felt … born of mind-contact is impermanent.”

“What is impermanent is suffering, what is suffering is not-self.”

SN 35:43

SN 35:1; 22:46

“Whether Perfect Ones appear or not, there remains this element, this structure of things
(phenomena), this certainty in things: All formations are impermanent; all formations are
suffering; all things are not-self.”

AN 3:134

19

“Bhikkhus, I do not dispute with the world: the world disputes with me. One who proclaims the
Dhamma disputes with no one in the world. What wise men in the world say there is not, that I
too say there is not; and what wise men in the world say there is, that I too say there is. Wise
men in the world say there is no permanent, everlasting, eternal form which is not subject to
change, and I too say that there is none. (And so too of the other four aggregates.) Wise men in
the world say that there is impermanent form, which is suffering and subject to change, and I
too say that there is. (And so with the other four aggregates.)”

“This body is impermanent, it is formed and dependently arisen.”

SN 22:94

SN 36:7

“It would be better for an untaught ordinary man to treat as self this body, which is constructed
upon the four great entities, than mentality.
16 Why? Because this body can last one year, two
years … a hundred years; but what is called ’mentality’ and ’mind’ and ’consciousness’ arises
and ceases differently through night and day, just as a monkey ranging through a forest seizes a
branch, and, letting that go, seizes another.”

SN 12:61

“Fruitful as the act of giving is … yet it is still more fruitful to go with confident heart for refuge
to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha and undertake the five precepts of virtue….
Fruitful as that is … yet it is still more fruitful to maintain loving-kindness in being for only as
long as the milking of a cow … fruitful as that is … yet it is still more fruitful to maintain
perception of impermanence in being only for as long as the snapping of a finger.”

AN 9:20 (condensed)

“Whosoever relishes the eye, etc., relishes suffering, and he will not be freed from suffering, I
say.”

SN 35:19

“What is the ripening of suffering? When someone is overcome, and his mind is obsessed by
suffering, either he sorrows and laments, and beating his breast, he weeps and becomes
distraught, or else he undertakes a search externally: ’Who is there that knows one word, two
words, for the cessation of suffering?’ I say that suffering either ripens in confusion or in
search.”

AN 6:63

“That anyone should see formations as pleasure … or Nibbāna as suffering, and have a liking
that is in conformity (with truth) is not possible. (But the opposite) is possible.”

AN 6:99

“All form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, of whatever kind, whether past,
future, or present, in oneself or external, coarse or fine, inferior or superior, far or near, should
be regarded as it actually is thus: ’This is not mine, this is not what I am, this is not my self.’”

SN 22:59

“That in the world by which one perceives the world and conceives conceits about the world is
called ’the world’ in the Noble One’s Discipline. And what is it in the world with which one
does that? It is with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.”

“It is being worn away (lujjati), that is why it is called ’the world’ (loka).”

20

SN 35:116

SN 35:82

“ ’Void world, void world’ is said, Lord; in what way is ’void world’ said?” — “It is because of
what is void of self and self’s property that ’void world’ is said, Ānanda. And what is void of
self and self’s property? The eye … forms … eye-consciousness … eye-contact … any feeling …
born of eye-contact … The ear, etc…. The nose, etc…. The tongue, etc…. The body, etc…. The
mind, etc…. any feeling whether pleasant, painful, or neither-painful-nor-pleasant born of
mind-contact is void of self and self’s property.”

SN 35:85

“When a bhikkhu abides much with his mind fortified by perception of impermanence, his
mind retreats, retracts, and recoils from gain, honour, and renown instead of reaching out to it,
just as a cock’s feather or a shred of sinew thrown on a fire retreats, retracts, and recoils from it
instead of reaching out to it…. When he abides much with his mind fortified by perception of
suffering in impermanence, there is established in him vivid perception of fear, of laxity,
indolence, idleness, negligence, and failure in devotion and reviewing, as of a murderer with
poised weapon…. when he abides much with his mind fortified by perception of not-self in
suffering, his mind is rid of the conceits that treat in terms of ’I’ and ’mine’ this body with its
consciousness and all external signs.”

AN 7:46

Narrator Two. The rationalized “self-theory,” which is called, in whatever form it may take,
“both a view and a fetter,” is based upon a subtle fundamental distortion in the act of
perceiving, the “conceit ’I am,’” which is “a fetter, but not a view.” Now self-theories may or
may not be actually formulated; but if they are, they cannot be described specifically without
reference to the five aggregates. For that reason they can, when described, all be reduced to one
of the types of what is called the “embodiment view,”
17 which is set out schematically. These are
all given up by the stream-enterer, though the conceit “I am” is not.

First Voice. “How does there come to be the embodiment view?” — “Here the untaught
ordinary man who has no regard for noble ones and is unconversant with their Dhamma and
Discipline … sees form as self, or self as possessed of form, or form as in self, or self as in form.
(And so with each of the other four aggregates: feeling, perception, formations, and
consciousness.) A well-taught noble disciple does not do this.”

MN 44; MN 109

“The untaught ordinary man who has no regard for noble ones … gives unreasoned (uncritical)
attention in this way: ’Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was
I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in
the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what
shall I be in the future?’ Or else he wonders about himself now in the presently arisen period in
this way: ’Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Whence has this being come? Whither is it
bound?’

“When he gives unreasoned attention in this way, then one of six types of view arises in him
as true and established: ’My self exists’ or ’My self does not exist’ or ’I perceive self with self’ or
’I perceive not-self with self’ or ’I perceive self with not-self’ or some such view as ’This is my
self that speaks and feels and experiences here or there the ripening of good and bad actions;
but this my self is permanent, everlasting, not subject to change, and will endure as long as
eternity.’ This field of views is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the
contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views. The untaught ordinary man

21

bound by the fetter of views is not freed from birth, ageing and death, sorrow and lamentation,
pain, grief, and despair: he is not freed from suffering, I say.”

MN 2

“Bhikkhus, there are two kinds of (wrong) view, and when deities and human beings are in
their grip, some hang back and some overreach; it is only those with vision that see.

“How do some hang back? Deities and human beings love being, delight in being, enjoy
being; when the Dhamma is expounded to them for the ending of being, their hearts do not go
out to it or acquire confidence, steadiness, and decision. So some hang back.

“And how do some overreach? Some are ashamed, humiliated, and disgusted by that same
being, and they look forward to non-being in this way: ’Sirs, when with the dissolution of the
body this self is cut off, annihilated, and accordingly after death no longer is, that is the most
peaceful, that is the goal superior to all, that is reality.’ So some overreach.

“And how do those with vision see? Here a bhikkhu sees whatever has come to being as
come to being. By seeing it thus he has entered upon the way to dispassion for it, to the fading
and ceasing of lust for it. That is how one with vision sees.”

It 49

“Bhikkhus, the possession that one might possess that were permanent, everlasting … do you
see any such possession?” — 􏰂o, Lord.” — “…The self-theory clinging whereby one might cling
that would never arouse sorrow and … despair in him who clung thereby; do you see any such
self-theory clinging?” — 􏰂o, Lord.” — “… The view as support that one might take as support
that would never arouse sorrow and … despair in him who took it as support; do you see any
such view as support?” — 􏰂o, Lord.” — “…Bhikkhus, there being self, would there be self’s
property?” — “Yes, Lord.” — “And there being self’s property, would there be self?” — “Yes,
Lord.” — “Bhikkhus, self and self’s property being unapprehendable as true and established,
then would not this view — ’This is the world, this the self; after death I shall be permanent,
everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, I shall endure as long as eternity’—be the pure
perfection of a fool’s idea?”—“How could it not be, Lord? It would be the pure perfection of a
fool’s idea.”

MN 22

“Whenever any monks or brahmans see self in its various forms, they all of them see the five
aggregates affected by clinging, or one or another of them. Here an untaught ordinary man who
disregards noble ones … sees form as self, or self as possessed of form, or form as in self, or self
as in form (or he does likewise with the other four aggregates). So he has this (rationalized)
seeing, and he has also this (fundamental) attitude ’I am’; but as long as there is the attitude ’I
am’ there is organization of the five faculties of eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body. Then there is
mind, and there are ideas, and there is the element of ignorance. When an untaught ordinary
man is touched by feeling born of the contact of ignorance, it occurs to him ’I am’ and ’I am this’
and ’I shall be’ and ’I shall not be’ and ’I shall be with form’ and ’I shall be formless’ and ’I shall
be percipient’ and ’I shall be unpercipient’ and ’I shall be neither percipient nor unpercipient.’
But in the case of the well-taught noble disciple, while the five sense faculties remain as they are,
his ignorance about them is abandoned and true knowledge arisen. With that it no more occurs
to him ’I am’ or … ’I shall be neither percipient not unpercipient.’”

SN 22:47

Narrator Two. The ordinary man is unaware of the subtle fundamental attitude, the underlying
tendency or conceit “I am.” It makes him, in perceiving a percept, automatically and

22

simultaneously conceive in terms of “I,” assuming an I-relationship to the percept, either as
identical with it or as contained within it, or as separate from it, or as owning it. This attitude,
this conceiving, is only given up with the attainment of arahantship, not before. (See e.g. MN 1
and MN 49.)

First Voice. “ ’I am’ is derivative, not underivative. Derivative upon what? Derivative upon
form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness.”

SN 22:83

“When any monk or brahman, with form (and the rest) as the means, which is impermanent,
suffering, and subject to change, sees thus ’I am superior’ or ’I am equal’ or ’I am inferior,’ what
is that if not blindness to what actually is?”

SN 22:49

(Questioned by elders, the Elder Khemaka said:) “I do not see in these five aggregates affected
by clinging any self or self’s property … yet I am not an arahant with taints exhausted. On the
contrary, I still have the attitude ’I am’ with respect to these five aggregates affected by clinging,
although I do not see ’I am this’ with respect to them…. I do not say ’I am form’ or ’I am feeling’
or ’I am perception’ or ’I am formations’ or ’I am consciousness,’ nor do I say ’I am apart from
form … apart from consciousness’; yet I still have the attitude ’I am’ with respect to the five
aggregates affected by clinging although I do not see ’I am this’ with respect to them.

“Although a noble disciple may have abandoned the five more immediate fetters (see below),
still his conceit ’I am,’ desire ’I am,’ underlying tendency ’I am,’ with respect to the five
aggregates affected by clinging remains as yet unabolished. Later he abides contemplating rise
and fall thus: ’Such is form, such is its origin, such its disappearance’ (and so with the other
four), till by so doing, his conceit ’I am’ eventually comes to be abolished.”

SN 22:89

Narrator Two. Lastly, we come to the ten fetters, which are progressively broken by the four
stages of realization.

First Voice. “An untaught ordinary man who disregards noble ones … lives with his heart
possessed and enslaved by the embodiment view, by uncertainty, by misapprehension of virtue
and duty,
18 by lust for sensuality, and by ill will, and he does not see how to escape from them
when they arise; these, when they are habitual and remain uneradicated in him, are called the
more immediate fetters.”

MN 64

“The five more remote fetters are: lust for form, lust for the formless, conceit (the conceit ’I am’),
distraction, and ignorance.”

DN 33

“There are bhikkhus who, with the exhaustion of (the first) three fetters, have entered the
stream, are no more subject to perdition, certain of rightness, and destined to enlightenment.
There are bhikkhus who, with the exhaustion of three fetters and the attenuation of lust, hate,
and delusion, are once-

returners: returning once to this world, they will make an end of suffering. There are bhikkhus
who, with the destruction of the five more immediate fetters, are destined to reappear
spontaneously elsewhere and will there attain final Nibbāna, never returning meanwhile from
that world. There are bhikkhus who are arahants with taints exhausted, who have lived out the

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life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, reached the highest goal, destroyed the
fetters of being, and who are completely liberated through final knowledge.”

MN 118
“That which is the exhaustion of lust, of hate, and of delusion is called arahantship.”

SN 38:2

“When a bhikkhu travels in many countries, learned people of all stations will ask him
questions. Learned and inquiring people will ask ’What does the venerable one’s teacher tell,
what does he preach?’ Rightly answering you can say: ’Our teacher preaches the removal of
desire and lust.’ And if you are then asked ’Removal of desire and lust for what?’ you can
answer: ’Removal of desire and lust for form (and the rest).’ And if you are then asked ’But
what inadequacy (danger) do you see in those things?’ you can answer: ’When a person is not
without lust and desire and love and thirst and fever and craving for these things, then with
their change and alteration, sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair arise in him.’ And
if you are then asked ’And what advantage do you see in doing thus?’ you can answer: ’When a
person is free from lust and desire and love and thirst and fever and craving for form, feeling,
perception, formations, and consciousness, then, with their change and alteration, no sorrow
and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair arise in him.”

SN 22:2

(2) Right Intention

Narrator Two. The survey of right view is now concluded. The next factor of the Noble Eightfold
Path is right intention.

First Voice. “What is right intention? It is the intention of renunciation, the intention of non-ill
will, the intention of non-cruelty: this is called right intention.”

SN 45:8; DN 22

“When a noble disciple has clearly seen with right understanding, as it actually is, how little
gratification sensual desires provide and how much pain and despair they entail, and how great
is their inadequacy, and he attains to happiness and pleasure dissociated from sensual desires
and unwholesome states, or to something higher than that, then he is no more interested in
sensual desires.”

MN 14

“Even if bandits brutally severed him limb from limb with a two-handled saw, he who
entertained hate in his heart on that account would not be one who followed my teaching.”

MN 21
“He does not choose for his own affliction, or for others’ affliction, or for the affliction of both.”

MN 13

(3) Right Speech

Narrator Two. These two factors of right view and right intention together constitute (the group
of path factors) “understanding” (
paññā). Now the third factor, right speech.

First Voice. “What is right speech? Abstention from lying, slander, abuse, and gossip; this is
called right speech.”

24

SN 45:8; DN 22

“Here someone abandons lying: when summoned to a court or to a meeting or to his relatives’
presence or to his guild or to the royal family’s presence and questioned as a witness thus ’So,
good man, tell what you know,’ then, not knowing, he says ’I do not know,’ knowing, he says ’I
know,’ not seeing, he says ’I do not see,’ seeing, he says ’I see’; he does not in full awareness
speak falsehood for his own ends or for another’s ends or for some petty worldly end.

“He abandons slander: as one who is neither a repeater elsewhere of what is heard here for
the purpose of causing division from these, nor a repeater to these of what is heard elsewhere
for the purpose of causing division from those, who is thus a reuniter of the divided, a promoter
of friendships, enjoying concord, rejoicing in concord, delighting in concord, he becomes a
speaker of words that promote concord.

“He abandons abuse: he becomes a speaker of such words as are innocent, pleasing to the ear
and lovable, as go to the heart, are civil, desired of many and dear to many.

“He abandons gossip: as one who tells that which is seasonable, factual, good, and the
Dhamma and Discipline, he speaks in season speech worth recording, which is reasoned,
definite, and connected with good.”

MN 41

(4) Right Action
Narrator Two. And the fourth factor, right action.

First Voice. “What is right action? Abstention from killing living beings, stealing, misconduct
in sensual desires: this is called right action.”

SN 45:8; DN 22

“When a lay follower possesses five things, he lives with confidence in his house, and he will
find himself in heaven as sure as if he had been carried off and put there. What are the five? He
abstains from killing living beings, from taking what is not given, from misconduct in sensual
desires, from speaking falsehood, and from indulging in liquor, wine, and fermented brews.”

AN 5:172–73

(5) Right Livelihood
Narrator Two. And the fifth factor, right livelihood.

First Voice. “What is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple abandons wrong livelihood and
gets his living by right livelihood.”

SN 45:8; DN 22

“Scheming (to deceive), persuading, hinting, belittling, and pursuing gain with gain; this is
called wrong livelihood (for bhikkhus).”

MN 117

“There are five trades that a lay follower should not ply. What five? They are: trading in
weapons, living beings, meat, liquor, and poisons.”

AN 5:177

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(6) Right Effort

Narrator Two. These last three factors, right speech, action, and livelihood, constitute (the group
of path factors) “virtue” (
sīla). They are known as the preliminary stage of the path. Now comes
the sixth factor, right effort.

First Voice. “What is right effort? Here a bhikkhu awakens desire for the non-arising of
unarisen evil unwholesome states, for which he makes efforts, arouses energy, exerts his mind,
and endeavours. He awakens desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states, for
which he makes efforts…. He awakens desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states, for
which he makes efforts…. He awakens desire for the continuance, non-corruption,
strengthening, maintenance in being, and perfecting, of arisen wholesome states, for which he
makes efforts, arouses energy, exerts his mind, and endeavours: this is called right effort.”

SN 45:8; DN 22

(7) Right Mindfulness
Narrator Two. Now comes the seventh factor, right mindfulness.

First Voice. “What is right mindfulness? Here a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a
body, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covertousness and grief for the world.
He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent…. He abides contemplating consciousness
as consciousness, ardent…. He abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects, ardent,
fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. This is called
right mindfulness.”

SN 45:8; DN 22

“How does a bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as a body? Here a bhikkhu, gone to the
forest or to the root of a tree or to a room that is void, sits down; having folded his legs
crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, just mindful he
breathes in, mindful he breathes out.
19 As a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long
turn, understands ’I make a long turn,’ or when making a short turn, understands ’I make a
short turn,’ so, breathing in long, the bhikkhu understands ’I breathe in long,’ or breathing out
long, he understands ’I breathe out long’; breathing in short, he understands ’I breathe in short,’
or breathing out short, he understands ’I breathe out short.’ He trains thus: ’I shall breathe in
experiencing the whole body (of breaths)’; he trains thus: ’I shall breathe out experiencing the
whole body (of breaths).’ He trains thus: ’I shall breathe in tranquillizing the bodily formation
(function)’; he trains thus: ’I shall breathe out tranquillizing the bodily formation (function).’
20

“He abides contemplating the body as a body in this way either in himself, or externally, or in
himself and externally.
21

“Or else he contemplates in the body either its factors of origination, or its factors of fall, or its
factors of origination and fall.

“Or else mindfulness that ’There is a body’ is established in him to the extent of bare
knowledge and remembrance of it while he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the
world.

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

“Again, when walking, a bhikkhu understands ’I am walking’; or when standing, he
understands ’I am standing’; or when sitting, he understands ’I am sitting’; or when lying down,

26

he understands ’I am lying down.’ Or whatever position his body is in, he understands it to be
so disposed.

“He abides contemplating the body as a body … externally.
“Or else he contemplates … the factors or origination and fall.
“Or else mindfulness … not clinging to anything in the world.
“That also is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

“Again, a bhikkhu is fully aware in moving to and fro, in looking ahead and away, in flexing
and extending the limbs, in wearing the outer cloak of patches, the bowl and other robes, in
eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting, in evacuating the bowels and making water, and he is
fully aware and mindful in walking, standing, sitting, going to sleep, waking, talking, and
keeping silent.

“He abides contemplating….

“That also is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

“Again, as though there were a bag with two openings full of many sorts of grain, such as hill
rice, red rice, beans, peas, millet, and white rice, and a man with good sight had opened it and
were reviewing it: ’This is hill rice, this is red rice, this is beans, this is peas, this is millet, this is
white rice’; so too a bhikkhu reviews this body up from the soles of the feet and down from the
top of the hair as full of many kinds of filth: ’There are in this body head-hairs, body-hairs, nails,
teeth, skin; flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys; heart, liver, midriff, spleen, lights;
bowels, entrails, gorge, dung; bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat; tears, grease, spittle, snot, oil-
of-the-joints, and urine.’

“He abides contemplating….

“That also is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

“Again, as though a skilled butcher or his apprentice had slaughtered a cow and were seated
at the four crossroads with it cut up into pieces; so too, in whatever position a bhikkhu finds this
body, he reviews it according to the elements: ’There are in this body earth element, water
element, fire element, and air element.’

“He abides contemplating….

“That also is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

“Again, a bhikkhu judges this same body as though he were looking at a corpse thrown on a
charnel ground, one-day dead, two-days dead, three-days dead, bloated, livid, and oozing with
matter: ’This body too is of such a nature, will be like that, is not exempt from that.’

“He abides contemplating….

“That also is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

“Again, a bhikkhu judges this same body as though he were looking at a corpse thrown on a
charnel ground, being devoured by crows, kites, vultures, dogs, jackals, and the multitudinous
varieties of worms: … as though he were looking at a corpse thrown on a charnel ground, a
skeleton with flesh and blood, and held together by sinews: … a fleshless skeleton smeared with
blood and held together by sinews:… a skeleton without flesh or blood, held together by sinews:
… bones without sinews, scattered in all directions, here a hand-bone, there a foot-bone, there a
shin-bone, there a thigh-bone, there a hip-bone, there a back-bone, there a skull: … bones
bleached white, the colour of shells: … bones heaped up, more than a year old: … bones rotted

27

and crumbled to dust: ’This body too is of such a nature, will be like that, is not exempt from
that.’

“He abides contemplating….
“That also is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.
“And how does a bhikkhu abide contemplating feelings as feelings?

“Here, when feeling a pleasant feeling, a bhikkhu understands ’I feel a pleasant feeling’;
when feeling a painful feeling, he understands ’I feel a painful feeling’; when feeling a neither-
painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands ’I feel a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.’ When
feeling a materialistic pleasant feeling,
22 he understands ’I feel a materialistic pleasant feeling’;
… (and so with the other two). When feeling an unmaterialistic pleasant feeling, he understands
’I feel an unmaterialistic pleasant feeling’; … (and so with the other two).

“He abides contemplating feelings as feelings in this way either in himself, or externally, or in
himself and externally.

“Or else he contemplates in feelings either their factors of origination, or their factors of fall,
or their factors of origination and fall.

“Or else mindfulness that ’There are feelings’ is established in him to the extent of bare
knowledge and remembrance of it while he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the
world.

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating feelings as feelings.

“And how does a bhikkhu abide contemplating consciousness as consciousness?

“Here a bhikkhu understands consciousness affected by lust as affected by lust, and that
unaffected by lust as unaffected by lust. He understands consciousness affected by hate as
affected by hate, and that unaffected by hate as unaffected by hate. He understands
consciousness affected by delusion as affected by delusion, and that unaffected by delusion as
unaffected by delusion. He understands contracted consciousness as contracted, and distracted
consciousness as distracted. He understands exalted consciousness as exalted, and that
unexalted as unexalted. He understands surpassed consciousness as surpassed, and that
unsurpassed as unsurpassed.
23 He understands concentrated consciousness as concentrated, and
that unconcentrated as unconcentrated. He understands liberated consciousness as liberated,
and that unliberated as unliberated.

“He abides contemplating consciousness as consciousness in this way either in himself, or
externally, or in himself and externally.

“Or else he contemplates in consciousness its factors of origination, or its factors of fall, or its
factors of origination and fall.

“Or else mindfulness that ’There is consciousness’ is established in him to the extent of bare
knowledge and remembrance of it while he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the
world.

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating consciousness as consciousness.

“And how does a bhikkhu abide contemplating mental objects as mental objects?

“Here, a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the five
hindrances.
24 How is that done? Here, when there is desire for sensuality in him, he understands
’There is desire for sensuality in me’; or when there is no desire for sensuality in him, he
understands ’There is no desire for sensuality in me’; and also he understands how there comes

28

to be the arising of unarisen desire for sensuality, and how there comes to be the abandoning of
arisen desire for sensuality, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned
desire for sensuality. When there is ill will in him … When there is lethargy and drowsiness in
him … When there is agitation and worry in him … When there is uncertainty in him … he
understands how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned uncertainty.

“He abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in himself, or externally, or in
himself and externally.

“Or else he contemplates in mental objects either their factors of origination, or their factors of
fall, or their factors of origination and fall.

“Or else mindfulness that ’There are mental objects’ is established in him to the extent of bare
knowledge and remembrance of it while he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the
world.

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the
five hindrances.

“Again, a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the five
aggregates affected by clinging. How is that done? Here a bhikkhu understands: ’Such is form,
such its origin, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origin, such its disappearance;
such is perception, such its origin, such its disappearance; such are formations, such their origin,
such their disappearance; such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.’

“He abides contemplating….

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the
five aggregates affected by clinging.

“Again, a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the six
bases in oneself and external. How is that done? Here a bhikkhu understands the eye and visible
forms and the fetter that arises owing to both; he understands how there comes to be the arising
of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how
there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter. He understands the ear and
sounds … the nose and odours … the tongue and flavours … the body and tangibles … the
mind and mental objects and the fetter that arises owing to both; … and he understands how
there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“He abides contemplating….

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the
six bases in oneself and external.

“Again, a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the
seven enlightenment factors. How is that done? Here, when there is the mindfulness
enlightenment factor in him, a bhikkhu understands ’There is the mindfulness enlightenment
factor in me’; when there is no mindfulness enlightenment factor in him, he understands ’There
is no mindfulness enlightenment factor in me’; and he understands how there comes to be the
arising of the unarisen mindfulness enlightenment factor and how there comes to be the
development and perfection of the arisen mindfulness enlightenment factor. When there is the
investigation-of-states enlightenment factor in him … the energy enlightenment factor in him …
the happiness enlightenment factor in him … the tranquillity enlightenment factor in him … the
concentration enlightenment factor in him … the equanimity enlightenment factor in him …
and he understands how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen equanimity

29

enlightenment factor and how there comes to be the development and perfection of the arisen
equanimity enlightenment factor.

“He abides contemplating….

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the
seven enlightenment factors.

“Again, a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the Four
Noble Truths. How is that done? Here a bhikkhu understands according as it actually is: ’This is
suffering’ and ’This is the origin of suffering’ and ’This is the cessation of suffering’ and ’This is
the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’

“He abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in himself, or externally, or in
himself and externally.

“Or else he contemplates in mental objects either their factors of origination, or their factors of
fall, or their factors of origination and fall.

“Or else mindfulness that ’There are mental objects’ is established in him to the extent of bare
knowledge and remembrance of it while he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the
world.

“That is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects in terms of the
Four Noble Truths.

“Bhikkhus, were anyone to maintain in being these four foundations of mindfulness for seven
years … let alone for seven years … for seven days, then one of two fruits could be expected of
him: either final knowledge here and now, or else non-return.”

DN 22; MN 10

“Bhikkhus, I shall expound to you the origin and disappearance of the four foundations of
mindfulness: the body has nutriment for its origin, and it disappears with cessation of
nutriment; feelings have contact for their origin, and they disappear with cessation of contact;
consciousness has name-and-form for its origin, and it disappears with cessation of name-and-
form; mental objects have attention for their origin, and they disappear with cessation of
attention.”

SN 47:42

“All things have desire for their root, attention provides their being, contact their origin, feeling
their meeting-place, concentration confrontation with them, mindfulness control of them,
understanding is the highest of them, and deliverance is their core.”

AN 8:83

“Would one guard oneself, then the foundations of mindfulness should be cultivated; would
one guard others, then the foundations of mindfulness should be cultivated. Who guards
himself guards others; who guards others guards himself.”

SN 47:19

(8) Right Concentration
Narrator Two. Now we come to the eighth and last factor, right concentration.

First Voice. “What is right concentration?

30

“Here, quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu
enters upon and abides in the first meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring,
with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion.”

DN 2; DN 22; MN 39; SN 45:8

“Just as a skilled bath man or his apprentice heaps bath-powder in a metal basin, and sprinkling
it gradually with water, kneads it up till the moisture wets his ball of bath powder, soaks it, and
extends over it within and without though the ball itself does not become liquid; so too, the
bhikkhu makes happiness and pleasure born of seclusion drench, steep, fill, and extend
throughout this body, so that there is nothing of his whole body to which it does not extend.”

DN 2; MN 39

“With the stilling of thinking and exploring he enters upon and abides in the second meditation,
which has self-confidence and singleness of mind without thinking and exploring, with
happiness and pleasure born of concentration.”

DN 2; DN 22; MN 39; SN 45:8

“Just as if there were a lake whose waters welled up from below, having no inflow from the
east, west, north, or south, nor yet replenished from time to time with showers from the skies,
then the cool fount of water welling up from the lake would make the cool water drench, steep,
fill, and extend throughout the lake, and there would be nothing of the whole lake to which the
cool water did not extend; so too, the bhikkhu makes happiness and pleasure born of
concentration drench, steep, fill, and extend throughout this body, so that there is nothing of his
whole body to which they do not extend.”

DN 2; MN 39

“With the fading away as well of happiness he abides in equanimity, and, mindful and fully
aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, he enters upon and abides in the third meditation, on
account of which the noble ones announce: ’He has a pleasant abiding who is an onlooker with
equanimity and is mindful.’”

DN 2; DN 22; MN 39; SN 45:8

“Just as, in a pond of blue or white or red lotuses, some lotuses are born under the water, grow
under the water, do not stand up out of the water, flourish immersed in the water, and the
water drenches, steeps, fills, and extends throughout them to their tips and to their roots, and
there is nothing of the whole of those lotuses to which it does not extend; so too, the bhikkhu
makes the pleasure divested of happiness drench, steep, fill, and extend throughout this body,
so that there is nothing of his whole body to which it does not extend.”

DN 2; MN 39

“With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous disappearance of joy and
grief, he enters upon and abides in the fourth meditation, which has neither pain nor pleasure,
and the purity of whose mindfulness is due to equanimity.”

DN 2; DN 22; MN 39; SN 45:8

“Just as if a man were sitting clothed from head to foot in white cloth, and there were nothing of
his whole body to which the white cloth did not extend; so too the bhikkhu sits with pure bright
cognizance extending over his body and there is nothing of his whole body to which it does not
extend.”

DN 2; MN 39;

31

“What is the noble ones’ right concentration with its causes and its equipment? It is any
unifiedness of mind that is equipped with the other seven factors of the path. Right view comes
first: one understands wrong view, intention, speech, action, and livelihood, as wrong; one
understands right view, intention, speech, action, and livelihood, as right, each of two kinds,
that is, either associated with taints and ripening in the essentials of existence, or supramundane
and a factor of the path. One makes efforts to abandon wrong view and the other four, and to
acquire right view and the other four: this is one’s right effort. Mindfully one abandons the
wrong and enters upon the way of the right: this is one’s right mindfulness.”

MN 117 (condensed)

Narrator Two. These last three factors, right effort, mindfulness, and concentration, together
constitute “concentration.” The eight, with right knowledge and right deliverance, are called the
“ten rightnesses,” which constitute the “certainty of rightness” attained with the path of stream-
entry. Before leaving the subject of concentration, though, there are four more stages attainable
called the four “formless states.” They are extra to “right concentration,” merely refinements of
the fourth meditation.

First Voice. “With the complete surmounting of perceptions of form, with the disappearance
of perceptions of resistance, by not giving attention to perceptions of difference, (aware of)
’infinite space,’ a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the base consisting of infinity of space.

“Again, by completely surmounting the base consisting of infinity of space, (aware of)
’infinite consciousness,’ he enters upon and abides in the base consisting of infinity of
consciousness.

“Again, by completely surmounting the base consisting of infinity of consciousness, (aware
that) ’there is nothing at all,’ he enters upon and abides in the base consisting of nothingness.

“Again, by completely surmounting the base consisting of nothingness, he enters upon and
abides in the base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

“The four meditations are not called effacement in the Noble One’s Discipline; they are called
in the Noble One’s Discipline, a pleasant abiding here and now. The four formless states are not
called effacement in the Noble One’s Discipline; they are called in the Noble One’s Discipline,
quiet abidings.”

MN 8

“This bhikkhu (who practises these eight attainments) is said to have blindfolded Māra, to have
(temporarily) deprived Māra’s eyesight of it s object and become invisible to the Evil One.”

MN 25

Narrator Two. None of these eight attainments is claimed as peculiar to the Buddhas’ teaching.
The practice of them without right view leads only to heaven, but not to Nibbāna. The teaching
peculiar to Buddhas is the Four Noble Truths. A ninth attainment, the “attainment of cessation,”
is described as reached only in the two highest stages of realization and is thus peculiar to
Buddhas and their disciples.

First Voice. “By completely surmounting the base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-
perception, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the cessation of perception and feeling, and his
taints are exhausted by his seeing with understanding. Then a bhikkhu is said to have
blindfolded Māra, to have deprived Māra’s eyesight of its object and become invisible to the
Evil One, and, what is more, to have gone beyond all attachment to the world.”

MN 25

32

“When a wise man, established well in virtue,
Develops consciousness and understanding,
Then as a bhikkhu, ardent and sagacious,
He succeeds in disentangling this tangle.”

“Bhikkhus, if one man were to travel and trudge through one age, then the heap, the pile, the
mass of his bones would be as high as this Vepulla Hill, if they were collected and the store
were not destroyed.”

It 24

“Suppose a man threw into the ocean a yoke with one hole in it, and then the east wind blew it
west and the west wind blew it east and the north wind blew it south and the south wind blew
it north; and suppose there were a blind turtle that came up to the surface once at the end of
each century. How do you conceive this, bhikkhus, would that blind turtle eventually put his
head through that yoke with the one hole in it?”

“He might, Lord, at the end of a long period.”

“Bhikkhus, the blind turtle would sooner put his head through that yoke with a single hole in
it than a fool, once gone to perdition, would find his way back to the human state.”

MN 129

“Bhikkhus, the Dhamma well proclaimed by me thus is frank, open, evident, and stripped of
padding. In this Dhamma well proclaimed by me thus, any who have simply faith in me, simply
love for me, are destined for heaven.”

MN 22

“What should be done for the disciples out of compassion by a teacher who seeks their welfare
and is compassionate, that I have done for you. There are these roots of trees, these rooms that
are void: meditate, bhikkhus, do not delay lest you regret it later. This is our instruction to you.”

MN 8; MN 152
Narrator Two. That concludes the survey. But how is the Way actually followed?

The Noble Eightfold Path in Practice

First Voice. One morning the Venerable Ānanda dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, he
went into Sāvatthī for alms. He saw Jā􏰁usso􏰁i the brahman driving out of Sāvatthī in a chariot
drawn by four mares, all in white: white steeds, white harnesses, white chariot, white
upholstery, white sandals; and he was even being fanned with a white fan. When people saw
this, they said: “What a divine vehicle! Now that is like a divine vehicle!”

On his return, the Venerable Ānanda told the Blessed One about it, and he asked: “Lord, can
a divine vehicle be pointed to in this Dhamma and Discipline?”

“It can, Ānanda,” the Blessed One said. “’Divine vehicle’ is a name for the Noble Eightfold
Path; and so is ’vehicle of Dhamma,’ and so is ’peerless victory in battle’; for all the components
of the Noble Eightfold Path culminate in the expulsion of lust, hate, and delusion.”

SN 45:4

“(Once a child is conceived and with birth and the growth of youth) his sense faculties mature,
then he becomes furnished and invested with the five strands of sensual desires and exploits
them: forms cognizable through the eye that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likable,

33

SN 1:23

connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust; likewise sounds cognizable through the
ear, odours cognizable through the nose, flavours cognizable through the tongue, and tangibles
cognizable through the body.

“On seeing a visible form with the eye, hearing a sound with the ear, smelling an odour with
the nose, tasting a flavour with the tongue, touching a tangible with the body, cognizing an idea
with the mind, he lusts after it if it is likable, or has ill will towards it if it is dislikable. He abides
without mindfulness of the body established and with mind limited while he does not
understand as they actually are the deliverance of mind and deliverance by understanding
wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Engaged as he is in favouring
and opposing, when he feels any feeling, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-
pleasant, he relishes that feeling, affirms and accepts it. Relishing arises in him when he does
that. Now any relishing of those feelings is clinging. With his clinging as condition, being; with
being as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing and death come to be, and also sorrow
and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. That is how there is an origin to this whole aggregate
mass of suffering.

“Here a Perfect One appears in the world, accomplished and fully enlightened, perfect in true
knowledge and conduct, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of men to be tamed, teacher of
gods and men, enlightened, blessed. He declares this world with its deities, its Māras and its
Brahmās, this generation with its monks and brahmans, with its princes and men, which he has
himself realized by direct knowledge. He teaches a Dhamma good in the beginning, the middle,
and the end, with the meaning and the letter, and he announces a holy life that is utterly perfect
and pure.

“Some householder, or his son, or one born in some clan, hears that Dhamma. On hearing it,
he has faith in the Perfect One. Possessed of that faith, he considers: ’Household life is crowded
and dirty, life gone forth is wide open. It is not easy, living in a household, to lead a holy life as
utterly perfect and pure as a polished shell. Suppose I shaved off hair and beard, put on the
yellow robe, and went forth from the home life into homelessness?’

“And on another occasion, abandoning perhaps a small, perhaps a large fortune, abandoning
perhaps a small, perhaps a large circle of relatives, he shaves off his hair and beard, puts on the
yellow robe, and goes forth from the home life into homelessness.

“Being thus gone forth and possessing the bhikkhus’ training and way of life, he abandons
killing living beings, abstaining therefrom with rod and weapon laid aside; gentle and kindly,
he abides compassionate to all beings. He abandons taking what is not given, abstaining
therefrom by taking only what is given; expecting only what is given, he abides pure in himself
by not stealing. He abandons in celibacy; he lives the celibate life as one who lives apart,
abstaining from vulgar lechery. He abandons false speech, abstaining therefrom by speaking
truth; cleaving to truth when he speaks, he is trustworthy, reliable and undeceiving of the
world. He abandons slander…. He abandons abuse…. He abandons gossip … he speaks in
season speech worth recording, which is reasoned, definite, and connected with good.
25

“He abstains from injuring seeds and plants. He eats only in one part of the day, refraining
from food at night and late meals. He abstains from dancing, singing, music, and theatrical
shows; from wearing garlands, smartening with scents, and embellishing with unguents; from
high and large couches; from accepting gold and silver, corn, raw meat, women and girls,
bondswomen and bondsmen, sheep and goats, poultry and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses and
mares, fields and lands; from going on errands; from buying and selling; from false weights,
false metals, and false measures; from cheating, deceiving, defrauding, and trickery; from
mutilating, executing, imprisoning, robbery, plunder, and violence.

34

“He is content with robes to protect the body, with almsfood to sustain the belly, so that
wherever he goes he takes everything with him, just as whenever a winged bird flies it flies
using its own wings. Possessing this store of the noble ones’ virtue, he feels in himself a bliss
that is blameless.

“He becomes one who, on seeing a form with the eye, apprehends no signs and features
through which, if he left the eye faculty unguarded, evil unwholesome states of covetousness
and grief might invade him; he practises the way of its restraint, he guards the eye faculty, gives
effect to restraint of the eye faculty. (Likewise, on hearing a sound with the ear, smelling an
odour with the nose, tasting a flavour with the tongue, touching a tangible with the body, and
cognizing an idea with the mind.) Possessing this noble ones’ faculty restraint, he feels in
himself an unsullied bliss.

“He comes to be fully aware when moving to and fro … and keeping silent.26

“Possessing this store of the noble ones’ virtue, and this noble ones’ faculty restraint, and this
noble ones’ mindfulness and full awareness, he resorts to a secluded resting place—to the forest,
a tree root, a rock, a ravine, a mountain cave, a charnel ground, a jungle thicket, an open space, a
heap of straw. On returning from his alms round after the meal, he sits down, folding his legs
crosswise, setting his body erect, and establishing mindfulness in front of him.

“Abandoning covetousness for the world, he abides with a mind devoid of covetousness; he
purifies his mind from covetousness. Abandoning ill will and hatred, he abides with no thought
of ill will, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings; he purifies his mind from ill will
and hatred. Abandoning lethargy and drowsiness, he abides with a mind free of lethargy and
drowsiness, percipient of light, mindful and fully aware; he purifies his mind from lethargy and
drowsiness. Abandoning agitation and worry, he abides unagitated with mind stilled in himself;
he purifies his mind of agitation and worry. Abandoning uncertainty, he abides with a mind
that has outgrown uncertainty, questioning no more about unwholesome states; he purifies his
mind of uncertainty.”

MN 38

“Suppose a man borrowed a loan and undertook works and the works succeeded so that he
repaid all the money of the old loan and there remained over some extra for his wife and
children; then on considering that, he was glad and joyful; or suppose a man was afflicted,
suffering and gravely ill and his food did not sustain him and his body had no strength, but
later he recovered from the affliction and his body regained strength; or suppose a man were
imprisoned in a prison-house, but later he was released from imprisonment safe and sound with
no loss to his property; or suppose a man were a bondsman, not self-dependent but dependent
on others and unable to go where he wanted, but later he was freed from that bondage and was
self-dependent, independent of others and a freeman able to go where he wanted; or suppose a
man with property and goods entered on a road across a desert, but later he crossed over the
desert safe and sound with no loss to his property; then on considering that, he was glad and
joyful; so too, when these five hindrances are unabandoned in himself, a bhikkhu sees them
respectively as a debt, a disease, a prison-house, a bondage, and a road across a desert; and
when they are abandoned in himself, he sees that as unindebtedness, health, release from
prison, freedom from bondage, and a land of safety.”

MN 39

“Having abandoned the five hindrances, mental imperfections that weaken understanding, then
quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states, he enters upon and
abides in the first meditation … the second meditation … the third meditation … the fourth
meditation.

35

“On seeing a form with the eye, hearing a sound with the ear, smelling an odour with the
nose, tasting a flavour with the tongue, touching a tangible with the body, cognizing an idea
with the mind, he does not lust after it if it is likable; and he has no ill will towards it if it is
dislikable. He abides with mindfulness of the body established and a measureless state of mind
while he understands as they actually are the deliverance of mind and deliverance by
understanding wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having thus
abandoned favouring and opposing, when he feels any feeling, whether pleasant or painful or
neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he does not relish that feeling or affirm or accept it.

“When he does not do that, his relishing of those feelings ceases. With cessation of his
relishing, cessation of clinging; with cessation of clinging, cessation of being; with cessation of
being, cessation of birth; with cessation of birth, ageing and death cease, and also sorrow and
lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; that is how there is a cessation to this whole aggregate
mass of suffering.”

MN 38

The Means

“Suppose a man wanting a snake saw a large snake, and when he wrongly grasped it by its coils
or its tail, it turned back and bit him, on which account he came to death or deadly suffering—
why? because of his wrong grasp of the snake—; so too, some misguided men learn the
Dhamma without examining the meaning of the teachings with understanding, so they acquire
no liking for meditating upon them. Learning it instead for the sake of carping and rebuttal of
criticism, they fail to appreciate the purpose for which the Dhamma is learnt, and they find that
the teachings being wrongly grasped by them, for long conduce to their harm and suffering.

“But suppose a man who wanted a snake saw a large one, and when he caught it in a forked
stick and rightly grasped it by the neck, then for all it might wrap its coils about his hand or arm
or limbs, still he would not on that account come to death or deadly suffering; so too some
clansmen learn the Dhamma and examine the meaning of the teachings with understanding, so
that they acquire a liking for meditating upon them. Not learning it for the sake of carping and
rebuttal of criticism, they appreciate the purpose for which the Dhamma is learnt, and they find
that those teachings being rightly grasped by them, for long conduce to their welfare and
happiness.

“Bhikkhus, suppose a traveller saw a great expanse of water, whose near shore was
dangerous and fearful and whose further shore was safe and free from fear, but there was no
ferry or bridge. Then after considering this, he collected grass and branches and twigs and
leaves and bound them together into a raft, supported by which, and making efforts with his
hands and feet, he got safely across. Then, when he had got across, he thought: ’This raft has
been very helpful to me since by its means I got safely across; suppose I hoist it on my head or
load it on my shoulder and go where I mean to go?’ Now would he be doing what should be
done with a raft?” — 􏰂o, Lord.” — “What should he do with it? If, when he got across, he
thought: ’This raft has been very helpful to me since by its means I got safely across; suppose I
haul it up on dry land or set it adrift on the water and go where I mean to go?’, then that is how
he is doing what should be done with the raft. So I have shown you how the Dhamma
resembles a raft in being for the purpose of crossing over, not for grasping. Bhikkhus, when you
know the Simile of the Raft (then even good) teachings should be abandoned by you, how much
more so bad teachings.”

MN 22 (condensed)

36

The End

“Cessation of lust, of hate, and of delusion is the Unformed (Unconditioned), the End, the
Taintless, the Truth, the Other Shore, the Subtle, the Very Hard To See, the Unweakening, the
Everlasting, the Undisintegrating, the Invisible, the Undiversified, Peace, the Deathless, the
Superior Goal, the Blest, Safety, Exhaustion of Craving, the Wonderful, the Marvellous, Non-
distress, the Naturally Non-distressed, Nibbāna, Non-affliction (Unhostility), Fading of Lust,
Purity, Freedom, Independence of Reliance, the Island, the Shelter, the Harbour, the Refuge, the
Beyond.”

SN 43:1–44

37

Notes

1 The “five aggregates affected by clinging” (pañcupadānakkhandhā) are best regarded as five
convenient “classes” or categories under which any arisen component of experience (in its widest
sense) can be grouped for analysis and discussion; they have no existence of their own separate from
the components that represent them. Their representatives do not occur separately. Also they are
structurally interdependent, rather as a glass tumbler implies at once the feature of material (glass),
affective (attractiveness, or the reverse or indifference), individual characteristics (shape, colour,
etc.), determined (formed) utility (all these constituting the 􏰀ame-and-form”), and consciousness of
all this, which it is not.

2 “Earth” represents solidity, “water” cohesion, “fire” both temperature and ripening, “air” both
extension (distension) and motion.

3 “Whatever has the characteristic of forming should be understood, all taken together, as the
formations aggregate…. (It) has the characteristic of agglomerating … (and) its function is to
accumulate.”
The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga), tr. by Ñā􏰁amoli, XIV, 131.
4 Other renderings of cetanā (here “choice”) are “volition” and “intention.”

5 This is in the sense of necessary condition.
6 On dependent arising see The Path of Purification, Ch. XVII.
7 Sīlabbatūpādāna—clinging to rites and rituals.

8 “Contact” is the contact between the “in-oneself” and the “external” (e.g. eyesight-cum-seen),
which is only made possible by the presence of consciousness (e.g. eye-consciousness). It is thus a
basic factor in the essential complexity of anything arisen, perceived and formed, whether five-
sensory or idea or both.

9 􏰂ame-and-form” is the perceiving and the percept together, experienced and recognized (􏰀amed”).
It is the “imagery-cum-matter,” which together make the individualized and determined subjective
perception of an object; but it does not, in the Suttas, include the consciousness in virtue of which
that is possible. Later literature include the consciousness within 􏰀ame,” thus favouring an
underivable “mind-matter” opposition.

10 See note 4 above.

11 It is necessary to avoid confusing the “formless” (arūpa), which is a variety of being (bhava), with
the “unformed” (or “unconditioned,”
asa􏰀khata), which is what has no formation (or condition,
sa􏰀khāra). The latter is a term for Nibbāna. The “formless” is always conditioned.

12 The details of the first three truths have so far given only analytical details. Here we also have
descriptions of how they should be viewed.

13 That means that there is no moral significance in these acts.
14 A plantain or banana trunk consists of nothing but sheaths with no core.

15 “Formed” is sa􏰀khata, also rendered “compounded” or “conditioned”; “unformed” is asa􏰀khata,
also rendered “uncompounded” or “unconditioned.” The latter is identified as Nibbāna.

16 Citta: mind, mentality, cognizance.

17 “Embodiment”: sakkāya = sa (either “existing” or “own”) plus kāya (body). The identification of self
(attā) with one or more of the five aggregates thus constitutes an “embodiment” of that self, and that
establishes a wrong view.
Sakkāyadi􏰃􏰃hi is more usually rendered “personality view.”

18 Or “attachment to rites and rituals” (sīlabbataparāmāsa).

38

19 The exercise described is one in mental observation, not in bodily development or breath-control
as in hatha yoga. This sutta, the Satipa􏰃􏰃hāna Sutta, is much recited today as a basis for meditating.
Its subject, the establishment of mindfulness, forms the cornerstone of the Buddha’s instruction.

20 According to the Commentary, “externally” means someone else’s body, etc. (but it could also
refer to pure objectivity seen in one’s own body too); this first paragraph of the refrain emphasizes
concentration. The second paragraph, on origination and fall (decay), refers to insight (right view).
The third paragraph describes the full awareness in one who has attained final realization.

21 According to the Commentary, “experiencing the whole body (of breaths)” means being fully
aware of the entire in-breath and out-breath. “Tranquilizing the bodily formation” means making
the breath become increasingly subtler and calmer.

22 “Materialistic” (āmisa) refers to such physical things as food, clothing, etc.; here the feeling
connected with them.

23 “Contracted” by lethargy; “exalted” from the sensual state to a state of meditation; “surpassed” in
meditation or in realization.

24 “Hindrance” should be taken rather in the sense of, as it were, a hedge that keeps one in the traffic-
stream of lust, hate, and delusion, rather than an obstacle that blocks the way.

25 See “right speech” section for full text.
26 See “right mindfulness” section for full text.

39

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has a vital message for all people.

Founded in 1958, the BPS has published a wide variety of books and booklets covering a great
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Buddha-In His Own Words

Sen Kollura
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Those are the collection of Quotes by Gautama Buddha of who he is and
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