Vipallasa Sutta: Fabrications

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Introduction

A fabrication is a conclusion or assumption formed from false, misrepresented, or incomplete information. Fabrications are experienced in the mind and body as stress and as disturbance. The Buddha would often describe the underlying substance and the resulting object of fabrications as “like foam on the water.” [1]

Siddartha Gotama awakened to the profound understanding that it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths as the condition that confused and deluded thinking uses to form conclusions – fabrications – that result in ongoing disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences. This primary teaching is the Paticca-Samupaddha Sutta, the sutta on Dependent Origination. [2]

The Buddha taught that by developing profound and complete understanding of Four Noble Truths one would become Rightly Self-Awakened just as he had. [3]

This is the First Noble Truth: Dukkha (stress, disappointment, suffering) arises from ignorance. The Second Noble Truth shows that it is craving for what is fabricated that establishes Dukkha and clinging to fabrications that continues to maintain Dukkha. The Third Noble Truth is that it is possible to recognize and abandon fabrications and “awaken,” to understand stress and abandon this initial ignorance. The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path, the Fourth Noble Truth,  to proved a framework and reference points for achieving just this: recognition of, and abandoning of all views rooted in ignorance.

This concise sutta speaks directly to the heart of the Dhamma and provides simple and direct guidance of the qualities of mind to recognize and abandon and the qualities of mind to develop and maintain.

Ending all fabrications brings direct understanding and complete acceptance of life as life occurs. Ending all fabrications develops an unwavering calm and peaceful mind, the mind of a Buddha.

Vipallasa Sutta: Fabrications

Anguttara Nikaya 4.49

“Friends, there are four fabrications of perceptions, of the mind, of views. These four fabrications are:

  • Confusing permanence with regard to impermanence
  • Confusing pleasant with regard to stressful
  • Confusing self with regard to Not-Self
  • Confusing attractive with regard to unattractive

These are the four fabrications of perception, of the mind, of views.”

“There are four qualities of mind that are not fabricated:

  • Knowing impermanence as impermanence
  • Knowing stress as stress
  • Knowing Not-Self as Not-Self
  • Knowing what is unattractive as unattractive

These are four qualities of mind that are free of fabrication.”

“Perceptions, the mind, and views are fabricated:

  • When perceiving permanence in impermanence
  • When perceiving pleasure in what is stressful
  • When perceiving self in what is not-self
  • When perceiving attractiveness in the unattractive

(Clinging to fabrications)

  • These beings are destroyed by wrong view
  • These beings have lost their minds
  • These beings are bound to ignorance
  • These beings will find no rest, wandering aimlessly from birth to death

“However, when Awakened Ones are present in the world:

  • They bring light into the world
  • They teach the Dhamma that brings an end to stress
  • The wise will listen and regain their senses

“They will clearly know:

  • Impermanence as impermanence
  • Stress as stress
  • Unattractive as unattractive

“Having developed Right View, they abandon ignorance and bring to cessation all confusion, all deluded thinking, all stress and suffering.”

End of Sutta

  1. Phena Sutta
  2. Paticca-Samupaddha Sutta  
  3. Four Noble Truths 

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 and Maurice Walsh, 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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