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The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 56. Saccasaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on the Truths

II. Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma

11 (1) Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma
Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Bārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. [421] There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus of the group of five thus:
    “Bhikkhus, these two extremes should not be followed by one who has gone forth into homelessness. What two? The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathāgata has awakened to the middle way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is that middle way awakened to by the Tathāgata, which gives rise to vision … which leads to Nibbāna? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This, bhikkhus, is that middle way awakened to by the Tathāgata, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.
    “Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.
    “Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination.
    “Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it.
    “Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: [422] it is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration.
    “‘This is the noble truth of suffering’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of suffering is to be fully understood’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of suffering has been fully understood’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of the origin of suffering is to be abandoned’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of the origin of suffering has been abandoned’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of the cessation of suffering is to be realized’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of the cessation of suffering has been realized’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering is to be developed’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering has been developed’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “So long, bhikkhus, as my knowledge and vision of these Four Noble Truths as they really are in their three phases and twelve aspects was not thoroughly purified in this way, [423] I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when my knowledge and vision of these Four Noble Truths as they really are in their three phases and twelve aspects was thoroughly purified in this way, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is the liberation of my mind. This is my last birth. Now there is no more renewed existence.’”
    This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, the bhikkhus of the group of five delighted in the Blessed One’s statement. And while this discourse was being spoken, there arose in the Venerable Kondañña the dust-free, stainless vision of the Dhamma: “Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.”
    And when the Wheel of the Dhamma had been set in motion by the Blessed One, the earth-dwelling devas raised a cry: “At Bārāṇasī, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, this unsurpassed Wheel of the Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One, which cannot be stopped by any ascetic or brahmin or deva or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.” Having heard the cry of the earth-dwelling devas, the devas of the realm of the Four Great Kings raised a cry: “At Bārāṇasī … this unsurpassed Wheel of the Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One, which cannot be stopped … by anyone in the world.” Having heard the cry of the devas of the realm of the Four Great Kings, the Tāvatiṃsa devas … the Yāma devas … the Tusita devas … the Nimmānaratī devas … the Paranimmitavasavattī devas … the devas of Brahmā’s company raised a cry: “At Bārāṇasī, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, this unsurpassed Wheel of the Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One, [424] which cannot be stopped by any ascetic or brahmin or deva or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.”
    Thus at that moment, at that instant, at that second, the cry spread as far as the brahmā world, and this ten thousandfold world system shook, quaked, and trembled, and an immeasurable glorious radiance appeared in the world surpassing the divine majesty of the devas.
    Then the Blessed One uttered this inspired utterance: “Koṇḍañña has indeed understood! Koṇḍañña has indeed understood!” In this way the Venerable Koṇḍañña acquired the name “Aññā Koṇḍañña—Koṇḍañña Who Has Understood.”

12 (2) Tathāgatas
“‘This is the noble truth of suffering’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in the Tathāgatas vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.
    “‘This noble truth of suffering is to be fully understood’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in the Tathāgatas vision … and light.
    “‘This noble truth of suffering has been fully understood’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in the Tathāgatas vision … and light.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering’ … ‘This noble truth of the origin of suffering is to be abandoned’ … ‘This noble truth of the origin of suffering has been abandoned’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in the Tathāgatas vision … and light.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of suffering is to be realized’ … [425] ‘This noble truth of the cessation of suffering has been realized’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in the Tathāgatas vision … and light.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering is to be developed’ … ‘This noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering has been developed’: thus, bhikkhus, in regard to things unheard before, there arose in the Tathāgatas vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light.”

13 (3) Aggregates
“Bhikkhus, there are these Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering? It should be said: the five aggregates subject to clinging; that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging … the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging. This is called the noble truth of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? It is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering? It is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it. This is called the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration. This is called the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering. [426]
    “These, bhikkhus, are the Four Noble Truths.
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

14 (4) Internal Sense Bases
“Bhikkhus, there are these Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.
    “And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering? It should be said: the six internal sense bases. What six? The eye base … the mind base. This is called the noble truth of suffering.”
    (The rest of the sutta is identical with §13.)

15 (5) Remembrance (1)
“Bhikkhus, do you remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me?”
    When this was said, a certain bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: [427] “Venerable sir, I remember the Four Noble Truths taught by the Blessed One.”
    “But how, bhikkhu, do you remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me?”
    “I remember suffering, venerable sir, as the first noble truth taught by the Blessed One. I remember the origin of suffering as the second noble truth taught by the Blessed One. I remember the cessation of suffering as the third noble truth taught by the Blessed One. I remember the way leading to the cessation of suffering as the fourth noble truth taught by the Blessed One. It is in this way, venerable sir, that I remember the Four Noble Truths taught by the Blessed One.”
    “Good, good, bhikkhu! It is good that you remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me. Suffering, bhikkhu, is the first noble truth taught by me: remember it thus. The origin of suffering is the second noble truth taught by me: remember it thus. The cessation of suffering is the third noble truth taught by me: remember it thus. The way leading to the cessation of suffering is the fourth noble truth taught by me: remember it thus. In this way, bhikkhu, remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me.
    “Therefore, bhikkhu, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

16 (6) Remembrance (2)
“Bhikkhus, do you remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me?” [428]
    When this was said, a certain bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, I remember the Four Noble Truths taught by the Blessed One.”
    “But how, bhikkhu, do you remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me?”
    “I remember suffering, venerable sir, as the first noble truth taught by the Blessed One. For if any ascetic or brahmin should speak thus: ‘This is not the first noble truth of suffering taught by the ascetic Gotama; having rejected this first noble truth of suffering, I will make known another first noble truth of suffering’—this is impossible.
    “I remember the origin of suffering as the second noble truth taught by the Blessed One…. I remember the cessation of suffering as the third noble truth taught by the Blessed One…. I remember the way leading to the cessation of suffering as the fourth noble truth taught by the Blessed One. For if any ascetic or brahmin should speak thus: ‘This is not the fourth noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering taught by the ascetic Gotama; having rejected this fourth noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering, I will make known another fourth noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—this is impossible.
    “It is in this way, venerable sir, that I remember the Four Noble Truths taught by the Blessed One.”
    “Good, good, bhikkhu! It is good that you remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me. Suffering, bhikkhu, is the first noble truth taught by me: remember it thus. For if any ascetic or brahmin should speak thus … (as above) … [429] ‘This is not the fourth noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering taught by the ascetic Gotama; having rejected this fourth noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering, I will make known another fourth noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—this is impossible.
    “In this way, bhikkhu, remember the Four Noble Truths taught by me.
    “Therefore, bhikkhu, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

17 (7) Ignorance
Sitting to one side, that bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘ignorance, ignorance.’ What is ignorance, venerable sir, and in what way is one immersed in ignorance?”
    “Bhikkhu, not knowing suffering, not knowing the origin of suffering, not knowing the cessation of suffering, not knowing the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called ignorance, bhikkhu, and it is in this way that one is immersed in ignorance.
    “Therefore, bhikkhu, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

18 (8) True Knowledge
Then a certain bhikkhu approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘true knowledge, true knowledge.’ What is true knowledge, venerable sir, and in what way has one arrived at true knowledge?” [430]
    “Bhikkhu, knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the origin of suffering, knowledge of the cessation of suffering, knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: this is called true knowledge, bhikkhu, and it is in this way that one has arrived at true knowledge.
    “Therefore, bhikkhu, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

19 (9) Implications
“‘This is the noble truth of suffering’: such has been made known by me. In this statement, ‘This is the noble truth of suffering,’ there are innumerable nuances, innumerable details, innumerable implications.
    “‘This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering’: such has been made known by me. In this statement, ‘This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering,’ there are innumerable nuances, innumerable details, innumerable implications.
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

20 (10) Actual
“Bhikkhus, these four things are actual, unerring, not otherwise. What four?
    “‘This is suffering’: this, bhikkhus, is actual, unerring, not otherwise. ‘This is the origin of suffering’: this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. ‘This is the cessation of suffering’: this is actual, unerring, not otherwise. [431] ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’: this is actual, unerring, not otherwise.
    “These four things, bhikkhus, are actual, unerring, not otherwise.
    “Therefore, bhikkhu, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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