Samyutta Nikaya Masthead


[Site Map]  [Home]  [Sutta Indexes]  [Glossology]  [Site Sub-Sections]

The Pali is transliterated as IAST Unicode (āīūṃṅñṭḍṇḷ). Alternatives:
[ ASCII (aiumnntdnl) | Mobile (āīūŋńñţđņļ) | Velthuis (aaiiuu.m'n~n.t.d.n.l) ]

 

Saŋyutta Nikāya,
V: MahāVagga
56. Sacca Saŋyutta
II Dhamma-Cakka-Pavattana Vagga

Sutta 11

Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta

Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Provenance, terms and conditons

 


 

[1][pts][nymo][piya][bodh][olds] I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: 'This is the noble truth of the origination of stress'... 'This noble truth of the origination of stress is to be abandoned'[2] ... 'This noble truth of the origination of stress has been abandoned.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

 


 

First Sutta Resources

 


Contact:
E-mail
Copyright Statement   Webmaster's Page