Three Governing Principles For Vipassana – 
Adhipateyya Sutta

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Introduction

For a complete understanding of this sutta within the context intended by an awakened human being, please read the suttas linked inline and at the end of this article. ([x]) Inline links will open in a new window.

Everything the Buddha taught was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and the ongoing stress, suffering and distraction that results from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

 [1]  Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta

[2]  Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the single path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance. [3]  Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

Vipassana in the context of the Buddha’s Dhamma describes the specific introspective insight to be developed through the Eightfold Path. [4] Vipassana – Introspective Insight

In the Adhipateyya Sutta the Buddha clearly teaches the vipassana, the introspective insight, that is to be developed through his Dhamma.

Rather than treating vipassana as a hybrid meditation practice, in the Adhipateyya Sutta the Buddha teaches Jhana meditation as one factor of a complete Eightfold Path that develops the concentration and refined mindfulness necessary for skillful and useful introspective insight. [5] Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas

This sutta shows the primary importance of skillful introspective insight into the clinging relationship between impermanence, fabricated views of self, and the stress and suffering that follows. These three are known as the Three Marks Of Existence.

Herein the “world” is the impermanent environment that a confused self becomes entangled and confused. The Dhamma is the solution to the common problem of ignorance of Four Noble Truths that can only result in stress and suffering, in Dukkha. [6]  The Personal Experience Of Ignorance – Dukkha Sutta

My comments below are in italics.

Three Governing Principles For Vipassana –
Adhipateyya Sutta

Anguttara Nikaya 3:40

The Buddha teaches: “There are three governing principles for the cessation of ignorance:

  1. The self is a governing principle.
  2. The world is a governing principle.
  3. The Dhamma is a governing principle.

These three governing principles relate directly to Anatta – they not-self-characteristic, Anicca – impermanence, and Dukkha – stress and suffering, resolved through the Buddha’s Dhamma.

“How is the self a governing principle for the cessation of ignorance? A skillful disciple having established seclusion and quiet reflects on this: ‘It is not for the sake of robes, alms, lodging, or future becoming that I am practicing the Dhamma. I am afflicted by birth, sickness, aging, and death; by sorrows, regret, pain, distress, and despair; overcome by stress. Perhaps the cessation of this entire mass of suffering can be known!’ [7]  Becoming Explained

‘What if I were to seek the same sort of sensual pleasures that I abandoned? I would lose the way.

‘I will maintain persistence, my mindfulness refined and not confused, my body calm and not aroused, my mind well-concentrated and united with my body.

“The skillful disciple, having established themselves as a governing principle, abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful. The skillful disciple, remains well-focused and pure. This is how a skillful disciple establishes themselves as a governing principle in ending ignorance of Four Noble Truths. 

It is the Eightfold Path that is skillful to develop. Adapted, accommodated, and embellished “dharmas” that fail to develop introspective insight onto Three Marks are unskillful and are to be recognized and abandoned. [8]Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views

“How is the world a governing principle for the cessation of ignorance? A skillful disciple having established seclusion and quiet reflects on this: ‘It is not for the sake of robes, alms, lodging, or future becoming that I am practicing the Dhamma. I am afflicted by birth, sickness, aging, and death; by sorrows, regret, pain, distress, and despair; overcome by stress. Perhaps the cessation of this entire mass of suffering can be known!’

‘‘What if I were to think the same thoughts of sensual pleasures, of ill-will, of harmfulness that I abandoned? Beings are many in the world. There are contemplatives, brahmans, and devas who claim psychic powers. They can see near and far. Even so, they don’t exist. (They have no useful understanding  in teaching the Dhamma as they continue to be distracted by sensuality, ill-will, and the distraction of their magical beliefs.)

“Even so, they would see the unskillful; disciple this way: ‘Here is one who has taken to the Buddha’s Dhamma but they remain overcome by hurtful and unskillful mental qualities.

An unfocused and confused dharma practice can easily be recognized even by those that have no understanding of the Dhamma.

“The skillful disciple reflects in this manner: ‘I will maintain persistence, my mindfulness refined and not confused, my body calm and not aroused, My mind well-concentrated and united with my body.’

“The skillful disciple, having established the world as a governing principle, abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful. The skillful disciple, remains well-focused and pure. This is how a skillful disciple establishes the world as a governing principle in ending ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“How is my Dhamma a governing principle for the cessation of ignorance? A skillful disciple having established seclusion and quiet reflects on this: ‘It is not for the sake of robes, alms, lodging, or future becoming that I am practicing the Dhamma. I am afflicted by birth, sickness, aging, and death; by sorrows, regret, pain, distress, and despair; overcome by stress. Perhaps the cessation of this entire mass of suffering can be known!’

“My Dhamma. Is well-taught by me to be developed here and now. My Dhamma is timeless, encourages verification, entirely relevant, to be directly experienced by the observant disciple for themselves.

“Skillful Disciples are true companions in the well-integrated life who dwell in the well-taught Dhamma. Well-disciplined, they know that laziness and mindlessness will cause them to lose their way.

“The skillful disciple reflects in this manner: ‘I will maintain persistence, my mindfulness refined and not confused, my body calm and not aroused, My mind well-concentrated and united with my body.’

“The skillful disciple, having established my Dhamma as a governing principle, abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful. The skillful disciple, remains well-focused and pure. This is how a skillful disciple establishes my Dhamma as a governing principle in ending ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“These are the three governing principles of my Dhamma.

“There is no secret place in the world for those doing evil.

“The Skillful Disciple knows whether they are well-focused or confused.

“The Skillful Disciple clearly observes themselves that hurtful behavior hides.

“The wise see the fool unrestrained in the world. [9]  Wisdom Of Restraint

“So, govern your self with mindfulness. “Govern the world with wise restraint.

“Established in Jhana, governed by my Dhamma, in thought word, and deed, follow my Dhamma.

“The sage who is engaged in Right Effort in developing their understanding Four Noble Truths will not lose their way.  [3]. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta

“The Skillful Disciple conquers Mara. There is no further becoming. [10]  Mara And Metaphor

“The Skillful Disciple understands the word, a sage, free of ignorance of themselves and the world.

End Of Sutta

Linked Articles For Further Study

  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. Vipassana – Introspective Insight
  5. Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas
  6. The Personal Experience Of Ignorance – Dukkha Sutta
  7. Becoming Explained
  8. Modern Buddhism – A Thicket Of Views
  9. Wisdom Of Restraint
  10. Mara And Metaphor

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

 

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