The Buddha’s Noble Search For The Noble Path – Ariyapariyesana Sutta

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Introduction

The Ariyapariyesana Sutta is one of the most significant suttas in the Sutta Pitaka. It provides continual guidance on establishing and maintaining an authentic, practical, and effective Dhamma practice. This sutta also clearly explains the underlying motivation for the development of the many confusing and contradictory “dharmas.”   [1}

In this remarkable Sutta, the Buddha uses his own search for understanding as a profoundly wise and compassionate example for our search for understanding. In this sutta, the Buddha teaches that a Noble Search must have a focused direction that does not simply reinforce ignorance by recognizing and abandoning the fabrications that have arisen from ignorance as described in the Paticca Samuppada Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination. [2]

There are many important themes represented here. Siddartha describes his studying with two very popular and powerful teachers who hope to have him join their community. Siddartha did not succumb to self-identifying with popular or commonly practiced dharmas. Despite the common distractions, just as now, he maintained his Noble Search for a singular Noble Path.

Siddartha was not seeking a dhamma that his associates were enamored with or that he could have a significant position in.

He was not seeking a dhamma that reaffirmed familiar but fabricated views.

No understanding can develop from that which is inherently impermanent and is clearly prone to continuing confused and deluded thinking that supports the Three Defilements of craving, aversion, and continue delusion. [3]

He was engaged in a Noble Search that avoided further distraction.

His Noble Search was for Noble Path that culminates in peace and understanding. Significantly, he continued his search until he established seclusion from the influence of common dharmas.

While engaging in a realistic meditation practice that avoided further distraction he was able to recognize the fabricated views rooted in his own ignorance by directly developing concentration,  by directly developing jhana. As described here,  he attained the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke: the unbinding from views ignorant of Four Noble Truths. [4]

Attaining the “unborn” does not only relate to physical birth. Most significantly it relates immediately to becoming empty of clinging to ignorant views which would provoke the ongoing experience of suffering, Dukkha, rooted in views ignorant of Four Noble Truths. [5]

As the Buddha describes in the Nagara Sutta, he was finally able to recognize the feedback loop of self-referential views bound by thinking rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. He became “Rightly Self-Awakened” and freed himself from all wrong views that would provoke the birth of another moment rooted in self-referenced ignorance. [6]

Siddartha Gotama, now Buddha, begins his teaching career by instructing the group of five friends he previously wandered around Northern India with, all seeking understanding. He explains to them his disappointing and useless experience from his studying with teachers who taught self-establishment in imaginary non-physical planes. He explains to them that searching for understanding where only craving, clinging, confusion, distraction, and ongoing disappointment can be found is an ignoble search leading to the many ignoble paths.

Essentially, the Buddha teaches that to engage in a search that is itself directed by ignorance will only ignore ignorance and continually obscure wisdom. A life spent in ignorance of Four Noble Truths is a life spent in an ignoble search for peace and satisfaction where peace and satisfaction cannot be found.

As recounted and taught in the Ariyapariyesana Sutta, Siddhartha Gotama eventually became Rightly Self-Awakened by first realizing that understanding cannot be found by searching in what is inherently prone to confusion, delusion, and ongoing disappointment, or using rituals and practices that are themselves rooted in craving, aversion, and delusion and inherently impermanent and ever-changing, that reinforce self-identification, and are shrouded behind the veil of ongoing ignorance.

The feedback loop of self-referential views reverberating off of ongoing thinking ignorant of Four Noble Truths as described in the Nagara Sutta is the initial foundation that supports the fabricated wrong views that give rise to the compulsion to adapt, accommodate, and embellish a Rightly Self-Awakened human being’s Dhamma.

Siddhartha eventually developed profound understanding and awakened Right View from recognizing and abandoning “spiritual” or “religious” practices that constitute an ignoble search, and the simple and direct Eightfold Path that provides focused guidance for Noble Search.

In this way, it becomes obvious that the meditation method and the recognition and development of the practice and development of Shamatha-Vipassana meditation is singularly paramount to integrating the entire Eightfold Path as an authentic, useful, and effective Dhamma practice

Engaging in the Noble Search brings the possibility for all human beings to become Rightly Self-Awakened through integrating the Noble Eightfold Path.

My comments within the sutta below are in italics.

Ariyapariyesana Sutta – Siddartha’s Noble Search For The Noble Path

Majjhima Nikaya 26

On one occasion the Buddha was in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Monastery. He adjusted his robes and taking his alms-bowl he left for town for alms.

A large group of monks approached Ananda: “It has been a long while since we heard a Dhamma talk from the Great Teacher. It would be for our long-term benefit to hear a Dhamma talk from the Awakened One.”

“Venerable ones, perhaps if you went to the hermitage of Rammaka you will get to listen to a Dhamma talk from the Buddha.”

“We will do as you say, Venerable Ananda.”

The Buddha returned from alms and asked Ananda to accompany him to the Eastern Park and the palace of Migara’s mother for the days abiding. Then, having spent the day in seclusion, the Buddha asked Ananda to accompany him to the Eastern Gatehouse to bathe.

Having bathed, Ananda said to his Teacher “The hermitage of Rammaka is nearby. It is pleasant and delightful. There are many there awaiting your teaching. It would be of benefit to them if, out of sympathy, you were to go there.”

The Buddha agreed and they left for Rammaka’s hermitage. As they approached they heard a Dhamma discussion underway. The Buddha waited for the discussion to end. Hearing silence he cleared his throat and knocked to announce his arrival. Upon entering, he sat on a prepared seat and addressed the sangha.

“For what discussion were you all gathered here?”

“Great Teacher, we were discussing you, and then you arrived.”

“Good! It is fitting that you have gone forth from good families, from home to homelessness, and gather for Dhamma discussion. When you gather as a sangha you should always discuss the Dhamma or practice Noble Silence.

(Noble Silence is practiced when gathered as a sangha and is also an aspect of the stilling of self-talk developed in the second level of meditative absorption, the second level of jhana) [7]

“Friends, there are two types of searching for understanding. There is ignoble searching and Noble Searching.

“And what is ignoble searching?

  • Ignoble searching occurs when a person, subject to birth, seeks happiness in what is also subject to birth.

The profound nature of this singular statement cannot be overlooked. All things that arise are prone to cessation. Seeking happiness by craving for or clinging to anything in the impermanent world is also clinging to or joining with stress, disappointment, and ongoing unsatisfactory experiences.

  • Ignoble searching occurs when a person, subject to sickness, seeks happiness in what is also subject to sickness.
  • Ignoble searching occurs when a person, subject to aging, seeks happiness in what is also subject to aging.
  • Ignoble searching occurs when a person, subject to death, seeks happiness in what is also subject to death.
  • Ignoble searching occurs when a person, subject to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, seeks happiness in what is also subject to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion.

Seeking for understanding in what is subject to confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences will only continue confusion, deluded thinking and ongoing disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences.

“What is subject to birth?

  • Spouses and children are subject to birth.
  • Men and women slaves are subject to birth.
  • Animals of all types are subject to birth.
  • Gold and silver (material wealth) are subject to birth.

“When these are seen as acquisitions one becomes attached and infatuated with these acquisitions. Seeking happiness with what is subject to birth is an ignoble search.

Identifying anything as me, or mine, or joining with by clinging to any object, event, thought, or idea is an acquisition. Wishing for permanence in what is inherently impermanent is rooted in craving, aversion, and deluded thinking – the Three Defilements that arise from ignorance of Three Marks Of Existence. [8]

“Likewise, these are all subject to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion. Seeking happiness with what is subject to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion is ignoble searching.

“And what is Noble Searching?

  • Noble Searching is, while being subject to birth, seeking to understand the suffering of birth, seeking the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding. This is Noble Searching (Unbinding from views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths)
  • Noble Searching is, while being subject to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, seeking what is what is free of sickness, of aging, of death, free of sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, free of greed, aversion, and delusion. This is Noble Searching.
  • Noble searching is seeking the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding. This is Noble searching.

Unbinding from views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths is Awakened Right View.:

  • Understanding Stress (Dukkha)
  • Understanding the origination of stress
  • Understanding the cessation of stress
  • Understanding the Path leading to the cessation of stress. [9]

“Friends, before my self-awakening, when I was still an un-awakened Bodhisatta (Sanskrit: Bodhisattva) being subject to birth, to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, I was seeking happiness with what is subject to birth, to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion.

“Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Why do I, being subject myself to birth, to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, seek what is likewise subject subject to birth, to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion?

“What if I, being subject to birth, were to seek to understand the suffering of birth, seeking the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding.

Some translations call the “unborn” the “deathless” referring to the cessation of self-identification bringing the “death” of loss and disappointment. “Unborn” is more descriptive of becoming empty of the ignorance of Four Noble Truths that would otherwise give “birth” to another moment rooted in ignorance and prone to confusion, delusion, and ongoing unsatisfactory experiences.

“What if I, being subject to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, were to seek understanding of the suffering of sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion?

“What if I were to seek the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding?

Siddartha Gotama here is describing his thought-process prior to going forth into homelessness. [10

“So, at a later time while still a young man, black-haired, early in my life, my parents crying, I shaved off my hair, put on a robe made of rags, and went forth from home to homelessness. (At the age of twenty-six)

“Having gone forth seeking understanding of these things, seeking what is skillful, seeking unexcelled and lasting peace, I went to Alara Kalama. On arrival, I said to him, ‘friend Alara, I want to practice your dhamma and discipline – to become your disciple.’

“Alara said to me ‘You may stay. My dhamma is such that an observant person can soon understand and integrate my knowledge and realize it for themselves through direct knowledge.’

“From reciting and repetition I quickly learned his dhamma. I could affirm that I knew his dhamma.

“I thought that it is not through the mere conviction that Alara Kalama declares that I  understand and have integrated his dhamma and realized it for myself through direct knowledge. Alara Kalama certainly understands and has integrated this dhamma.

“So I went to Alara and asked him ‘What is the culmination of your understanding and integration of this dhamma. Alara declared that the culmination of his dhamma was (establishment in) the dimension of nothingness.

“Then I thought  ‘Not only does Alara Kalama have conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. I also have conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. What if I were to strive to realize for myself this dhamma through direct knowledge?

“I quickly developed understanding and fully integrated Alara Kalama’s dhamma, having realized to for myself the dimension of nothingness through direct knowledge. I then asked Alara if this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of this dhamma?

“Alara told me this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of his dhamma. He then said that it was a great gain for his sangha to have a companion such as myself in their sangha.  He then asked me to lead their sangha together.

“Alara Kalama my teacher, placed me on the same level as himself paying me great honor. But, I had the thought that this dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, or to unbinding. This dhamma only seeks to establish a reappearance in the dimension of nothingness.

Siddartha here is evaluating the value of reaching the culmination of Alara’s dhamma. He is cautious about continuing an ignoble search due to a fabricated vested interest from previous effort and association and praise from Alara Kalama.

“I found this Dhamma unsatisfactory and so I left Alara Kalama and continued the Noble Search.

“As I continued the Noble Search I went to Uddaka Ramaputta. Upon arrival I told him ‘Friend Uddaka, I want to practice your dhamma and discipline – to become your disciple.’

“Uddaka replied ‘You may stay. My dhamma is such that an observant person can soon understand and integrate my knowledge and realize it for themselves through direct knowledge.’

“From reciting and repetition I quickly learned his dhamma. I could affirm that I knew his dhamma.

“I thought that it is not through the mere conviction that Uddaka Ramaputta declares that I  understand and have integrated his dhamma and realized it for myself through direct knowledge. Uddaka Ramaputta certainly understands and has integrated this dhamma.

“So I went to Uddaka and asked him ‘What is the culmination of your understanding and integration of this dhamma. Alara declared that the culmination of his dhamma was (establishment in) the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

“Then I thought  ‘Not only does Uddaka Ramaputta have conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. I also have conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. What if I were to strive to realize for myself this dhamma through direct knowledge?

“I quickly developed understanding and fully integrated Uddaka Ramaputta’s dhamma, having realized to for myself the dimension of nothingness through direct knowledge. I then asked Uddaka if this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of this dhamma?

“Uddaka told me this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of his Dhamma. He then said that it was a great gain for his sangha to have a companion such as myself in their sangha.  He then asked me to lead their sangha together.

“Uddaka Ramaputta, my teacher, placed me on the same level as himself paying me great honor. But, I had the thought that this Dhamma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, or to unbinding. This Dhamma only seeks to establish a reappearance in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

Siddartha evaluates Uddaka Ramapputa’s dharma as he did before with Alara Kalam’s dhamma.

Perception is a belief based on observation framed by view. If a view is rooted ignorance of Four Noble Truths then perdition is based on fabrications arising from ignorance. The imaginary mental establishment in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception is simply the denial of stress, or continued ignorance, rather than recognition and abandonment, of this initial ignorance. The establishment and defense of perceptions arising from fabricated views is the common and pervasive strategy of a mind rooted in ignorance to used in order to continue to ignore its own ignorance.

“I found this Dhamma unsatisfactory and so I left Uddaka Ramaputta and continued the Noble Search.

This recounting of Siddartha’s Noble Search leaves out his time spent in severe ascetic practices while wandering with five other seekers. This is referenced below as he also dismisses asceticism as that these practices did not bring the understanding he was seeking.

“Seeking the unexcelled peace arising from skillful understanding, I wandered through the Magadhan country and arrived in Uruvela. This place was delightful with inspiring forests, a clear-flowing river with shallow banks, and nearby villages for alms. This seemed just right for developing Jhana. [11]

“Friends, (while practicing Jhana) being subject to birth, to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, I realized the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding. Knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’ [12]

“Then I had the thought ‘This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, and hard to realize. This Dhamma is peaceful, refined, and beyond mere conjecture. This Dhamma is subtle and is to be directly experienced by the wise. But the world delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, is devoted to attachment, worships attachment  For a world delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, devoted to attachment, worshiping attachment, conditioned towards self-identification from dependence on ignorance, this Dhamma is hard to see. [13]

“The awakened state is also hard to realize. The awakened state is :

  • The resolution of all fabrications.
  • The relinquishment of all acquisitions.
  • The ending of craving.
  • The development of dispassion.
  • The development of cessation.
  • The development of unbinding.

“If I were to teach the Dhamma and others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me.

“Just then this realization, never known before, occurred to me:

‘I’ll dismiss teaching that which, only with great difficulty, I attained. This Dhamma is not easily realized by those overcome by greed, aversion, and delusion.

‘This Dhamma is difficult to understand, subtle, deep, contrary to common belief. Those delighting in passion, their minds obscured in darkness, will not understand.’

The following portion of this sutta uses metaphor to portray a significant realization that arose in Siddartha’s, now a Buddha, an awakened human being’s mind. The use of metaphor to portray troubled mind states or significant realizations is used throughout the Pali Canon. [14]

Then, Brahma Sahampati became aware of my thoughts: ‘The world is lost, destroyed! The Arahant, the Rightly Self-Awakened One is inclined to dwelling in ease and not teaching his Dhamma!’

“Brahma Sahampati left his realm and came to me. He knelt on his right knee, bowed, and said ‘Rightly Self-Awakened One please teach your Dhamma! Please teach your Dhamma! There are those with just a little dust in their eyes. They are suffering because they will not hear your Dhamma. There are those that are able to understand your Dhamma.’

“Brahmā Sahampati continued: ‘In the past, there appeared among the Magadhans an impure Dhamma devised by the ignorant. Teach your Dhamma to end the pain of birth, sickness, aging, death. Teach your Dhamma to end sorrow, regret, distress, despair, to end greed, aversion, and delusion.  Teach your Dhamma so they can also realize the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding.

‘Just as one standing on a high peak might see people below, you, the wise one, with profound vision, must take your place in the palace of the Dhamma. Free from suffering, look on those suffering, oppressed with birth and aging.

‘You have conquered ignorance! Be a great teacher and wander without entanglements. Teach your Dhamma, there will be those who will understand.’

“Mindful of Sahampati’s plea and out of compassion for all beings, From my awakened state, I looked out onto the world. I saw beings with little dust in their eyes, and beings with much. I saw uncluttered beings and dull beings.  I saw beings with good qualities and beings with bad qualities.

“I looked out onto the world and I saw beings hardened in their views, disgraced, in danger.  [12]

“I looked out onto the world and I saw those who would be easy teach my understanding, my Right View.

“It is as if a pond is permeated with red, white, and blues lotus, born and growing immersed in the water. They flourish permeated with cool water from their root to tip never standing above the surface. Even so, some might rise up and emerge from the murky water.

“Seeing thus, I decided to teach my Dhamma, to open to the world the Path To Cessation. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear could come forth in conviction. Those lacking the eyes to see or ears to hear the pure Dhamma I would not teach my refined and pure Dhamma. (It is an aspect of Right Speech to avoid idle or unnecessary speech. Teaching the Dhamma to those who likely will not hear the Dhamma is idle and unnecessary speech.)

“I would teach the pure Dhamma tirelessly and untroubled. Brahmā Sahampati was pleased. He bowed and disappeared.

“Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Who should I first teach the Dhamma? Who will quickly understand? I thought of Alara Kalama, wise, intelligent, competent but I heard that he had passed a week ago. I thought what a great loss it was to my friend, Alara. He would have quickly learned my Dhamma.

“Then I thought of Uddaka Rāmaputta. He too is wise, intelligent, competent. But Heard he had passed just last night. It was a great loss to my friend Uddaka, as well. He too would have quickly learned my Dhamma.

“I then taught of the five friends I wandered with while attending to ascetic practices. I knew they were in the Deer Park at Isipatana. I took my leave to wander in stages to Isipatana. Along the way, I encountered Upaka, the Ajivaka. He noticed my composure, my complexion bright. He inquired ‘On whose account have you gone forth? Who is your teacher? In whose Dhamma do you delight?’

“I told Upaka ‘ I have left the world behind through my own understanding. I am released from all wrong views, from all phenomena. Empty of ignorance, I am free or craving. My realization is taught by none – to whom should I declare as my teacher? I have no teacher as one like me cannot be found. I have no counterpart for I am an Arahant in the world. I am the unexcelled teacher, Rightly Self-Awakened. The fires of passion are cooled. I am unbound. I will set the wheel of the true Dhamma rolling. I am traveling to Kasi. In a world afflicted with the darkness of ignorance, I beat the drum of wisdom!”

“Upaka replied ‘From what you claim you must be the ultimate conqueror.’

“Conquerors like me have abandoned greed, aversion, and delusion. I have conquered all evil qualities. You are correct, Upaka, I am a conqueror.”

“Upaka, unconvinced, shaking his head, took his leave.

“I continued to the Deer Park. From afar, my five friends saw me. I was no longer gaunt from ascetic self-denial. Thinking that I was living luxuriously they decided to not show me respect. As I approached they noticed my awakened state. Standing in respect, took my robe and bowl and prepared a seat. One of my friends took a bowl and began to wash my feet. They, however, addressed me by my familiar name.

“Friends, do not address the Tathagata, a Rightly Self-Awakened One in this way. I am Rightly Self-Awakened, a worthy one. Listen carefully, my friends: I have realized the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding. I will teach you my understanding. Practice as I instruct you and shortly you will also realize the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding.

“The group of five replied: ‘From your practice of the austerities you did not attain any superior state or any higher knowledge or vision worthy of a noble one. How can you now, living luxuriously, straying from your exertion and backsliding into abundance, have attained any superior state or any higher knowledge or vision worthy of a noble one?’

“I replied: ‘The Tathagata is not living luxuriously, or strayed from his exertion, or backslid into abundance. The Tathagata is a worthy one, Rightly Self-Awakened. Listen carefully: I have realized the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding. I will teach you my understanding. Practice as I instruct you and shortly you will also realize the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding, for yourselves right here and now.’

“A second and a third time they doubted me and questioned me in this same manner. I then asked them ‘Have I ever claimed to be a Rightly Self-Awakened One before?’

“You have never before claimed to be Rightly Self-Awakened One .”

“I replied again: ‘The Tathagata is not living luxuriously, or strayed from his exertion, or backslid into abundance. The Tathagata is a worthy one, Rightly Self-Awakened. Listen carefully: I have realized the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding. I will teach you my understanding. Practice as I instruct you and shortly you will also realize the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding, for yourselves right here and now.’

“And so I convinced them of my knowledge and wisdom. Over time, living on alms, I instructed the group of five. Being subject themselves to birth, to sickness, to aging, to death, to sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, to greed, to aversion, to delusion, and (now) understanding the suffering of birth, of sickness, of aging, of death, of sorrow, regret, pain, distress, despair, of greed, of aversion, of delusion, they attained the unborn and the unexcelled release of the yoke, the unbinding.

It must be remembered that this sutta is not meant to be a complete historical account of the Buddha’s six years of searching for understanding. It is meant to describe the difference between Noble Search and ignoble search. As such, the entire Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is not recounted. What is presented here can be seen a summary of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. [15]

The group of five finally realized that their prior search was an ignoble search as they were seeking understanding where none can be found.

“Friends, craving and clinging arises from the five senses:

  • Forms known from the eye, agreeable, pleasing, enticing, enchanting, are linked to sensual desire.
  • Sounds known from the ear, agreeable, pleasing, enticing, enchanting, are linked to sensual desire.
  • Aromas known from the nose, agreeable, pleasing, enticing, enchanting, are linked to sensual desire.
  • Tastes known from the tongue, agreeable, pleasing, enticing, enchanting, are linked to sensual desire.
  • Tactile sensations known from the body, agreeable, pleasing, enticing, enchanting, are linked to sensual desire.

“This is the craving and clinging that arises from the five senses.

(Craving and clinging arising from the five senses is also known as “The five strings of sensuality”)

“Any contemplative, any brahman, any seeker who clings to sensuality in this manner, infatuated and enchanted with sensuality without understanding the suffering that follows or the path to cessation should be known as unfortunate and having met ruin.

“They have lost their minds and the world will have its way with them. It is as if a wild deer were caught in a heap of snares. This deer has met misfortune and ruin – a hunter could do with them what they will.

“In the same manner, any contemplative, any brahman, any seeker who clings to sensuality in this manner, infatuated and enchanted with sensuality without understanding the suffering that follows or the path to cessation should be known as unfortunate and having met ruin. They have lost their minds and the world will have its way with them.

“Now, know this, friends, any contemplative, any brahman, any seeker who no longer clings to sensuality in this manner, not infatuated or enchanted with sensuality, understanding the suffering that follows (craving and clinging) and the path to cessation, should be known as fortunate and will not meet ruin.

“They have control of their minds and the world will not have its way with them. It is as if a wild deer avoided a hunter’s snares. This deer has not met misfortune and has avoided ruin – a hunter could not do with them what they will.

“In the same manner, any contemplative, any brahman, any seeker who does not cling to sensuality in this manner, is not infatuated or enchanted with sensuality, who understands the suffering that follows (craving and clinging) and the path to cessation, should be known as fortunate and will not meet ruin.

“They have control of their minds and the world will not have its way with them.

“It is as if a wild deer is living carefree in all ways. Why is it carefree? Because it has gone beyond the hunter’s range. In the same way, those engaged in the Noble Search established in seclusion from sensuality and unskillful mental qualities enter and remain in the First Jhana. This First Jhana is experienced as rapture born of that very seclusion. It is accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“Furthermore, those engaged in the Noble Search enter and remain in the Second Jhana. This Second Jhana is experienced as rapture and pleasure born of concentration. Free of directed thought and evaluation. With internal assurance, the joy of concentration permeates their entire mind and body. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“Furthermore, those engaged in the Noble Search enter and remain in the Third Jhana which is equanimous and mindful, a pleasant abiding. With the fading of rapture, this pleasant abiding permeates their entire mind and body. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“Furthermore, those engaged in the Noble Search enter and remain in the Fourth Jhana which is pure equanimity and mindful. Being pure, neither pleasure nor pain is seen. They sit permeated in mind and body with pure, bright awareness. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“And further still, those engaged in the Noble Search, with complete abandonment of self-identification to form, with the fading of aversion, with the cessation of craving here and there, they enter and remain in the dimension of infinite space. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“And further still, those engaged in the Noble Search, with complete abandonment of the dimension of infinite space, they enter and remain in the dimension of infinite consciousness. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“And further still, those engaged in the Noble Search, with complete abandonment of the dimension of infinite consciousness, they enter and remain in the dimension of nothingness. Knowing ‘there is nothing,’ they have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“And further still, those engaged in the Noble Search, with complete abandonment of the dimension of nothingness, they enter and remain in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“And further still, those engaged in the Noble Search, with complete abandonment of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, they enter and remain in the cessation of perception and feeling. Free of reaction, knowledge and wisdom well-established, greed, aversion, and delusion are completely overcome. They have become lost to Mara, lost to (the effects of) wrong views.

“Having engaged in the Noble Search, they are unattached to anything in the world (or fabricated from worldly influences). They are as carefree as a deer far removed from a hunter’s range. Why are they are as carefree as a deer far removed from a hunter’s range? Because they have completed the Noble Search and, through their own efforts, gone beyond Mara’s reach, they have gone beyond the reach of ignorance (of Four Noble Truths). Those who have engaged in the Noble Search, who have completed the (Eightfold) Path are said to be Rightly Self-Awakened.

This is what the Great Teacher said. The group of five were delighted from hearing these words.

End Of Sutta

 

  1. Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views
  2. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  3. Fabrications
  4. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  5. Karma And Rebirth
  6. Nagara Sutta – The Buddha Describes His Awakening
  7. Samadhanga Sutta – Five Factors Of Concentration
  8. Three Marks Of Existence – Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha
  9. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  10. Going Forth
  11. Samadhanga Sutta – Five Factors Of Concentration
  12. Becoming Explained
  13. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  14. Mara And Metaphor
  15. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

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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