The Arahant Sutta – Awakening in a Single Paragraph

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The Arahant Sutta is an article on a very succinct teaching where the Buddha describes awakening, or full human maturity, that is remarkable in its simplicity and straightforwardness:

Arahant Sutta

Samyutta Nikaya 22.110

“And when one has seen the five clinging-aggregates as they really are, the arising and the passing away, understanding the attraction and the distraction, seeing the arising of desire and the continued delusion, and being delivered from the five clinging-aggregates, this one is released from clinging, all defilements are destroyed, what must be done has been done, perfection is attained, the burden has been put down, the highest goal attained. This one is liberated by perfect insight” [1]

End of Sutta

Seeing the “five clinging-aggregates as they really are” is understanding Anatta, not-self or a self-referential ego-personality in relation to Anicca, Dukkha, and The Four Noble Truths. It is from a wrong understanding of self clinging to the impermanent environment of human life that all stress and suffering arises.

There is much confusion arising from the concept of not-self. The Buddha never taught nothingness or emptiness as a conceptual environment that is empty yet somehow contains a “self.” He taught that what we believe to be a substantial and permanently identifiable-as-me self is born of ignorance and sustained by continued ignorance. The Buddha taught that what is perceived of a self is not a self and all deluded views that sustain this belief must be let go of if one is to develop lasting peace and happiness.

What is often overlooked is the Buddha continually points to a “one that awakens” as he does repeatedly in this single paragraph. What is this “one that awakens?”

An understanding of the true nature of self arises once all concepts of self that have formed from ignorance of The Four Noble Truths are recognized and put aside.

The perfect example of “one that awakened” is the Buddha. Through Right Understanding he awakened and he continued as the Buddha, providing a way of awakening that has survived 2,600 years!

The awakened mind is attainable by everyone who hears the Dhamma. Awakening occurs when ignorance is replaced by wisdom.

A deluded mind is only capable of creating more delusion until the skillful direction of the Eightfold Path is engaged with. Conditioned views can begin to be let go of. This letting go is creating spaciousness in a mind once prone to continued clinging. The clinging nature of one thought immediately following the next clinging thought is interrupted. As delusional concepts, or conditioned mind, is interrupted, the opportunity for useful insight arises. The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path for developing perfect insight and a calm and liberated mind.

Upon his awakening the Buddha considered if teaching the Dhamma would be effective and if the presentation of the Dhamma could overcome the common and pervasive problem of human conditioned mind and the continual clinging to deluded beliefs. He taught the Eightfold Path to provide a framework to interrupt conditioned thinking allowing for useful insight into the nature of suffering and the recognition and renunciation of craving and clinging.

 

  1. Five Clinging-Aggregates

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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made contextual edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.

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Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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