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These are the most recent talks on this subject. As of December, 2019, There are more than 600 Dhamma talks on this and other teachings of the Buddha in my audio and video archives:

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Wise Restraint Moment By Moment Dhamma Practice Retreat Book
This Our Wise Restraint Retreat Book.

Here is additional information about our retreats: Becoming Buddha Retreats

Wise Restraint Retreat Book Versions

Further down this page is the text of our retreat book, including our retreat schedule. Just below are links to other digital versions of our retreat book. Please email me if you have any difficulty downloading or viewing our book.

These digital books are viewable directly through the links below. For optimized reading (for individual devices), I suggest you download the appropriate file(s) and add them to your reader of choice.

If you are joining our retreat, please familiarize yourself with these suttas.

Wise Restraint Retreat Book ePub

Wise Restraint Retreat Book Mobi

Wise Restraint Retreat Book PDF

Wise Restraint Retreat Book RTF

Wise Restraint Moment By Moment Dhamma Practice Retreat Welcome and Schedule

Welcome

↓ Retreat Schedule ↓

Dear Friends,

Thank you for allowing me the honor of leading our 2022 Becoming Buddha Cross River Meditation Center’s Wise Restraint Moment By Moment Dhamma Practice Retreat. My fellow Dhamma Teacher’s and I hope to establish a most skillful retreat environment.

Much like the setting of the first Buddhist Sangha, a retreat guided by the Eightfold Path will provide refuge from the entanglements of the world and the opportunity to deeply engage with the Buddha’s Dhamma. To that end, be mindful of the eight factors of the Eightfold Path.

The Buddha’s words offer simple and profound guidance:

  • Be mindful of wrong view and remain in Right View.
  • Be mindful of wrong intention and remain in Right Intention.
  • Be mindful of wrong speech and remain in Right Speech.
  • Be mindful of wrong action and remain in Right Action.
  • Be mindful of wrong livelihood and remain in Right Livelihood.
  • Bed mindful of wrong effort and remain in Right Effort.
  • Be mindful of wrong mindfulness and remain in Right Mindfulness
  • Be mindful of wrong meditation and practice Right Meditation.

There is a clear explanation of the Eightfold Path in the Buddha’s words from the Magga-Vibhanga Sutta further on.

Wednesday and Sunday lunch will be an opportunity to practice Right Speech. Our other meals will be taken in Noble Silence. All other times please support yourself and others in the Dhamma and observe Right Speech.

Retreats guided by the Buddha’s Dhamma are not retreats from the Dhamma or from the opportunity for skillful interaction with each other, and so are not silent. Our retreat environment will be very similar to the Buddha’s Sangha 2,600 years ago. A simple observance guided the first Sangha: When gathered as a Sangha, be mindful of the Dhamma and support others in remaining mindful of the Dhamma.

As with the first Sangha, the Eightfold Path will guide our thoughts, our speech, and our actions, providing the ongoing experiential opportunity to deepen and refine mindfulness of all aspects of the Path.

A retreat guided by the Buddha’s Dhamma is an auspicious time to engage deeply in the Dhamma. Skillful and useful insight develops from a quiet and well-concentrated mind supporting the refined mindfulness to view Three Marks Of Existence from Right View.

This is your retreat. This truly is an auspicious time. Gently leave the world, its “spiritual” concepts and ideologies, and its distractions behind, and engage wholeheartedly with these profound teachings.

The world will still be the world Sunday afternoon. By recognizing and abandoning clinging to wrong views, you may very well be quite different!

Be mindful of Right Speech and the entire Eightfold Path. Deepen your understanding. Be gentle with yourself and in your skillful interactions with others. Skillful and practical understanding develops within the Framework of The Eightfold Path.

Take true refuge in the Buddha, his Dhamma, and our wonderful and well-focused Sangha.

Peace, John Haspel

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Our Retreat Schedule

We will hold our Dhamma talks and meditation sessions in the dayroom or lower level of the Timeless Zen Building.

Please arrive a few minutes early.

Wednesday

11:00 AM Check-in (Won Dharma Center Office)

12 Noon Lunch (Right Speech)

1:30 PM Session 1 w/John Haspel

  • The importance of retreat and taking refuge in the Buddha, his Dhamma, and a well-focused Sangha
  • Developing Right View from Wrong View.
  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk:An Auspicious Handful of Leaves – Two Defining Suttas (Linked to Sutta Below)

5:30 Dinner – Noble Silence

7:00 Session 2 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk:The Buddha’s Noble Search for The Noble Path, Ariyapariyesana Sutta

Thursday

6:45 AM Jhana Meditation w/Jen Seiz (Optional)

7:30 Breakfast – Noble Silence

8:45 QiGong with Matt Branham

9:30 Session 3 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Nagara Sutta – The Buddha Describes His Awakening

12 Noon Lunch (Noble Silence)

Free Time (Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood)

5:30 Dinner – Noble Silence

7:00 Session 4 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: The Meaning Of Becoming – What Is Awakening – Three Suttas

Friday

6:45 AM Jhana Meditation w/Kevin Hart (Optional)

7:30 Breakfast – Noble Silence

8:45 QiGong with Matt Branham

9:30 Session 5 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Paticcasamuppada Sutta – Dependent Origination – Ignorance of Four Noble Truths

12 Noon Lunch (Right Speech)

1:30 PM Session 6 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – Four Noble Truths – Context For Dhamma Practice & Sacca Vibhanga Sutta – Analysis Of Four Noble Truths

5:30 Dinner – Noble Silence

7:00 Session 7 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Magga-Vibhanga Sutta – Analysis of The Eightfold Path

Saturday

6:45 AM Jhana Meditation w/David Allen (Optional)

7:30 Breakfast – Noble Silence

8:45 QiGong with Matt Branham

9:30 Session 8 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Satipatthana Sutta – Four Foundations of Mindfulness

12 Noon Lunch (Noble Silence)

Free Time (Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood)

5:30 PM Dinner – Noble Silence

7:00 Session 9 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Anatta Lakkhana Sutta – The Not-Self Characteristic

8:30 Sangha Social – Right Speech in practice (and tasty treats)

Sunday

6:45 AM Jhana Meditation w/David Allen (Optional)

7:30 Breakfast – Noble Silence

8:45 QiGong with Matt Branham

9:30 Session 10 w/John Haspel

  • Jhana Meditation
  • Dhamma Talk: Anapanasati Sutta – Properly Integrated Dhamma Practice

12 Noon Lunch

1:00 PM Retreat Concludes, Sangha Picture and Hugs 

Session 1 Simsapa And Bhaddekaratta Suttas

Session 1 Simsapa And Bhaddekaratta Suttas

AN AUSPICIOUS HANDFUL OF LEAVES TWO DEFINING SUTTAS

SIMSAPA SUTTA
INTRODUCTION

The Simsapa Sutta is more commonly known as the “Handful Of Leaves” sutta. Here the Buddha is describing the pure and direct focus of his Dhamma. He knew the foolishness and cruelty of continuing ignorance of Four Noble Truths by teaching any “dharma” that would develop further confusion and deluded thinking. With great clarity and profound insight grounded in unsurpassed wisdom, and from awakened compassion, he taught a Dhamma free of anything extraneous, protective, or self-serving. It is due to this awakened man’s unconditioned commitment to only Four Noble Truths that the Buddha’s Dhamma continues in relevance and effectiveness 2,600 years after he first taught.

Simsapa Sutta
Samyutta Nikaya 56.31

On one occasion, the Buddha was staying with a group of disciples in a Simsapa (Indian Rosewood) forest in Kosambi. He reached down, picking up a handful of leaves. He then asked those gathered: What is greater, the leaves in my hand or those in the trees?

The disciples replied, “The leaves in your hand are few, the trees have many more.”

“Just as the leaves in the trees are more numerous, the things that I know from direct knowledge are far more numerous than what I teach as my Dhamma. The reason I do not teach these other things is that they are not a part of my Dhamma, they are not related to my Dhamma, and they do not support the principles of a life integrated with the Eightfold Path. These other things do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to calm, to direct knowledge, to cessation, or to self-awakening. These other things do not lead to unbinding (from views ignorant of Four Noble Truths.)

“I teach Four Noble Truths:

  1. This is stress.
  2. This is the origination of stress.
  3. This is the cessation of stress.
  4. The Eightfold Path is the path developing the cessation of stress.

“This is what I teach. I teach these things because they are related to my Dhamma, and they support the principles of a life integrated with the Eightfold Path. These things that I teach lead directly to disenchantment, to dispassion, to calm, to direct knowledge, to cessation, and to self-awakening. These things that I teach lead directly to unbinding (from views ignorant of Four Noble Truths.)

“This is why I teach these things.

“So this is your practice:

  • Understanding stress
  • Understanding the origination of stress
  • Experiencing the cessation of stress.
  • Developing the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of stress.

End of Sutta

Bhaddekaratta Sutta
Introduction

The Bhaddekaratta Sutta teaches the importance of being mindfully present of life as life unfolds. Everything the Buddha taught during his forty-five-year teaching career was in the context of developing an understanding of Four Noble Truths and release from clinging to self-referential views rooted in ignorance of these four truths.

The title of this Sutta means “an auspicious day.” An auspicious day in this context refers to a day that is significantly favorable towards developing awakening as the Buddha defines awakening: Developing a profound understanding of Dukkha and recognizing and abandoning all self-referential views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

Here the Buddha references The Five Clinging Aggregates of form, feelings, perceptions, mental fabrications, and confused consciousness to describe an ignorant view of self. The Buddha teaches the importance of not being distracted to the past or to the future and to remain mindfully present with life as life occurs.

My comments below are in italics.

The Bhaddekaratta Sutta
Majhima Nikaya 131

The Buddha was staying in Savatthi, at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks: “Friends, I will teach you the meaning of an auspicious day:

  • Do not chase after the past or project your thoughts to the future.
  • Not entangled with the world, be mindful only of what is occurring.
  • Free of distraction, well-concentrated, develop compassion informed by wisdom.
  • Mindfully engage with what is skillful.
  • The future is uncertain, and death occurs equally for all.
  • Those who remain mindfully engaged with life as life occurs throughout the day have had a truly auspicious day.

“And how does one avoid chasing after the past? One does not get carried away with the delight that ‘in the past, I had such a form (body), in the past, I had such a feeling, in the past, I had such a perception, in the past I had such a fabrication, in the past I had such a consciousness.’ This is called not chasing after the past.

“And how does one not project their thoughts into the future? One does not get carried away with delight that ‘in the future I might have such a form, in the future I may have such a feeling, in the future I might have such a perception, in the future I might have such a fabrication in the future, I might have such a consciousness.’ This is called not projecting thoughts onto the future.

Notice the I-making through self-referential views in these statements.

“And how does one become entangled with the world? An uninstructed ordinary person lacking understanding of the dhamma sees form as the self or the self as form. Confused, they see feeling as self or as the self as possessing feeling. Confused, they see their perceptions as self or the self as possessing perceptions. Confused, they see their fabrications as self or their self as their fabrications. Confused, they see their consciousness as self or their self as their consciousness. This is what is meant by becoming entangled with the world.

“And how is one not entangled with the world? A follower of the dhamma, who is well-versed and well-trained in the dhamma, does not see form as self or the self possessing form. With Right View established, they do not see feeling as the self or the self possessing feelings. With Right View established, they do not see perceptions as self or the self possessing perceptions. With Right View established, they do not see fabrications as self or the self possessing fabrications. With Right View established, they do not see consciousness as the self or the self possessing consciousness. This is called not being entangled with the world.

“To develop an auspicious day, remain present with your life as your life occurs. Do not chase the past or project your thoughts to the future. Remain free of entanglements with the world and mindful of what is occurring. Be mindful of impermanence and uncertainty. Those that do so will have an auspicious day. So says this Peaceful Sage.”

End of Sutta

Session 2 Ariyapariyesana Sutta

Session 2 Ariyapariyesana Sutta


The Buddha’s Noble Search for a Noble Path


Introduction

The Ariyapariyesana Sutta is one of the most significant suttas in the Sutta Pitaka. Recounting Siddhartha Gotama’s own experience during his search for understanding, the Ariyapariyesana Sutta 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” and the Buddha’s consistent teaching method of clearly describing the difference between his Dhamma and other common and popular dharmas of his time.

I use the word “Dhamma” to define teachings that the Buddha developed through his Noble Search and “dharma” to describe modern Buddhist practices that have adapted, accommodated, diminished, embellished, and often contradict and confuse the original teachings of an awakened human being.

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 a Noble Search must have a focused direction that does not simply reinforce ignorance. The framework and guidance of the Eightfold Path support recognizing and abandoning the fabrications that have arisen from ignorance as described in the Paticca Samuppada Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination.

There are many important themes represented in this sutta. Siddhartha describes his studying with two very popular and powerful teachers who hoped to have him join their community. Siddhartha did not succumb to self-identifying with popular or commonly practiced dharmas. Despite the common attraction and distraction, he maintained his Noble Search for a singular Noble Path.

Siddhartha was not seeking a Dhamma that his associates were enamored with or that he could have a significant position in. He avoided giving legitimacy to a dharma simply due to a charismatic leader, general popularity, or a compulsive non-dual all-religions-are-one view.

He was not seeking a dhamma that reaffirmed familiar, popular, 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 continued delusion.

The Buddha was engaged in a Noble Search that avoided further confusion, distraction, self-reference, and suffering.

His Noble Search was for a Noble Path that culminates in peace and understanding, free of fabricated (wrong) views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Significantly, he continued his search until he established seclusion and disentanglement 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.

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

As the Buddha describes in the Nagara Sutta, he could finally 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.

Siddhartha 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 unproductive 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 confusing, contradictory, and 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, satisfaction, and understanding where peace, satisfaction, and understanding 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 dharmas rooted in ignorance and inherently prone to confusion, delusion, and ongoing disappointment, or using rituals and practices that are themselves rooted in craving, aversion, and delusion that are inherently impermanent and ever-changing, reinforce self-identification, and are shrouded behind the veil of ongoing ignorance.

Becoming stuck in 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 condition 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. By recognizing and abandoning beliefs and practices rooted in ignorance, Siddhartha discovered the simple and direct Eightfold Path that provides focused guidance for Noble Search.

In this way, the recognition and development of the practice and development of Jhana meditation is 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
Siddhartha’s Noble Search For The Noble Path
Majhima 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 his daily meal.

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 who are 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.

We practice Noble Silence when gathered as a Sangha. Noble Silence is also an aspect of the stilling of self-talk developed in the second level of meditative absorption, the second level of Jhana. Noble Silence is informed and initiated by Right Speech.

“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 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. A search or practice seeking to establish a permanent though “improved” or “enlightened” view of self in any physical or non-physical realm directly contradicts an awakened view of Three Marks Of existence and can only further confusion, distraction, delusion, and suffering.

“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.

“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 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.

“Friends, before my self-awakening, when I was still an unawakened 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.

This one statement clearly describes the distraction inherent in the common Mahayana Buddhist “Bodhisattva” path that contradicts and displaces the Noble Eightfold Path.

“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 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” as referring to the cessation of self-identification bringing the “death” of loss and disappointment. “Unborn” is more descriptive of becoming empty of 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.

“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-nine)

“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 dharma and discipline – to become your disciple.’

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

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

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

“So I went to Alara and asked him ‘What is the culmination of your understanding and integration of this dharma? Alara declared that the culmination of his dharma 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 dharma through direct knowledge?

“I quickly developed understanding and fully integrated Alara Kalama’s dharma, having realized 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 dharma?

“Alara told me this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of his dharma. 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 dharma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, or to unbinding. This dharma only seeks to establish a reappearance in the dimension of nothingness.

Siddartha here is evaluating the value of reaching the culmination of Alara’s dharma. 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 dharma 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 dharma and discipline – to become your disciple.’

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

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

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

“So I went to Uddaka and asked him ‘What is the culmination of your understanding and integration of this dhamma?’ Uddaka 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 dharma through direct knowledge?

“I quickly developed understanding and fully integrated Uddaka Ramaputta’s dharma, having realized for myself the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception through direct knowledge. I then asked Uddaka if this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of this dharma?

“Uddaka told me this was the culmination of his understanding and integration of his Dharma. 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 Dharma does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, or to unbinding. This Dharma 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 in ignorance of Four Noble Truths, then perception 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 used in order to continue to ignore its own ignorance.

“I found this Dharma 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 these practices did not bring the understanding he was seeking.

“Seeking the unexcelled peace arising from skillful understanding, I wandered through the Magadhan countrand 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.

“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.’

“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, and 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.’

“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 a metaphor to portray a significant realization that arose in Siddhartha’s, now a Buddha, an awakened human being’s mind. Using metaphor to portray troubled mind states or significant realizations is used throughout the Pali Canon.

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 at 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.

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

“It is as if a pond is permeated with red, white, and blue 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 with 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 to? Who will quickly understand? I thought of Alara Kalama, wise, intelligent, competent, but I heard 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 I 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 had 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 of 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, they took my robe and bowl and prepared a seat. One of my friends took a bowl and washed 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 worthy, 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 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 worthy, 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 describes the difference between Noble Search and ignoble search. As such, the entire Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is not recounted. What is presented here can be seen as a summary of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.

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.

The Buddha here is teaching his five friends the foolishness of seeking to establish a “self” in non-physical realms which h are clearly seen as ignoble, fabricated, and rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“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 at hearing these words.

End Of Sutta

Session 3 Nagara Sutta

Session 3 Nagara Sutta

The Buddha Describes His Awakening


The Nagara Sutta

Samyutta Nikaya 12.65

The Buddha was at Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed those gathered:

“Friends, before my awakening, when I was only an unawakened Bodhisatta, (Sanskrit: Bodhisattva) I came to the realization of the difficulties of the world. The world is born, it ages, it dies, it falls away and returns, but there is no understanding of ending the stress and suffering of aging and death. When will the world understand the cessation of the stress and suffering from aging and death?

“Then I had the thought: What initiates aging and death? What is the requisite condition that aging and death are dependent on for arising?

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From birth as the requisite condition comes aging and death.

“Then I had the thought: What initiates birth? What is the requisite condition that birth is dependent on for arising?

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From becoming as the requisite condition comes birth.

“Then I had the thought: What initiates name-&-form? What is the requisite condition that name-&-form is dependent on for arising?

Name-and-form (Pali: nama-rupa) means self-identification through clinging to forms and self-referential views.

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From consciousness as the requisite condition comes name-&-form.

In the Paticca-Samuppada-Vibhanga Sutta, the sutta on Dependent Origination the Buddha shows it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that is the condition that the arising of mental fabrications depend on, and that the arising of consciousness depends on mental fabrications. Consciousness, then in this context, is ordinary ongoing thinking arising from ignorance. What arises from ignorance can only further ignorance.

“Then I had the thought: What initiates consciousness? What is the requisite condition that consciousness is dependent on for arising?

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From name-&-form as the requisite condition comes consciousness.

What the Buddha is beginning to describe here is the feedback loop caused by self-referential views and relying on these views, rooted in ignorance, to describe reality. This much like “I think, therefore, I am” the famous quote from Rene Descartes who hoped to find an irrefutable statement. His reasoning was that since he could not refute his own existence, it must be that his (self-referential) thoughts prove he existed (as a substantial and sustainable “self.”

Lacking understanding the resulting reality described ignores (continues ignorance) any thought, word, or idea that arises that would challenge these views, now conditioned by ongoing ignorance. Once established, a framework for recognizing this feedback loop is now necessary in order to recognize and abandon these wrong views.

When the Dhamma is developed, it is clearly understood that what constitutes a “self” is always in a constant state of becoming. Consciousness rooted in ignorance can only continue this feedback look, furthering ignorance. The world becomes the mirror feeding back wrong views. As the Buddha’s path is developed, consciousness is framed by the Eightfold Path and becoming awakened, becoming Buddha, is now possible.

“Then I had the thought: This consciousness turns back at name-&-form and goes no farther. It is to this extent that there is birth, aging, death, falling away, and returning. This is where ignorance is established. From (self-referential views) name-&-form is the requisite condition that brings consciousness and from (self-referential views) consciousness is the requisite condition that brings name-&-form.

“Then I had the thought: The six-sense base (five physical senses and consciousness) is dependent on the condition of name-&-form, dependent on self-referential views, and this is the origination of the entire mass of suffering.

The Buddha is stating that it is being stuck in the feedback loop of self-referential views, seeing all objects, events, views, and ideas from the perspective of “ME” and how objects, events, views, and ideas may affect ME one way or another I.e.: not getting what is wanted, receiving what is not wanted, ongoing disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences, all arise from the initial ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“Vision arose, understanding arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illuminating insight arose within me with regard to things never known before.

“Then I had the thought: What is the condition that the cessation of the stress of aging and death is dependent on?

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From the cessation of birth (birth of ignorance) as the requisite condition comes the cessation of the stress of aging and death.

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From the cessation of consciousness (thinking rooted in ignorance) as the requisite condition comes the cessation of name-&-form.

“From my appropriate mindfulness came a breakthrough of understanding: From the cessation of name-&-form as the requisite condition comes the cessation of consciousness.

“I have attained the following path to awakening:

  • From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness.
  • From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form.
  • From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media.
  • From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact.
  • From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling.
  • From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving.
  • From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging and maintaining.
  • From the cessation of clinging and maintaining comes the cessation of becoming.
  • From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth.
  • From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, regret, pain, distress, & despair all cease.

“This is the cessation of the entire mass of stress. Vision arose, understanding arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illuminating insight arose within me with regard to things never known before.

The confusion that often arises in modern Buddhism is taking these teachings out of the context of Dependent Origination and The Four Noble Truths. Each of these statements, when seen in the proper context, shows that ignorance of Four Noble Truths originates the process of becoming stuck in a feedback loop of wrong views, a thicket of views.

When wisdom and understanding is developed through the Eightfold Path, then “giving birth” to further views rooted in ignorance ceases and the conditions that the stress of aging and death, of sorrow, regret, pain, distress, & despair are dependent on all cease.

“In this way I saw a timeless path to be traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones. And what is this timeless path traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones?* Just this noble eightfold path:

“Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Meditation.

“This is the ancient timeless path traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones. I followed this path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of (the stress of) aging & death, direct knowledge of the origination of (the stress of) aging & death, direct knowledge of the cessation of (the stress of) aging & death, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of (the stress of) aging & death.

“I followed this path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of birth… becoming… clinging… craving… feeling… contact… the six sense media… name-&-form… consciousness, direct knowledge of the origination of consciousness, direct knowledge of the cessation of consciousness, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of consciousness. I followed that path.

“Following it, I came to direct knowledge of fabrications, direct knowledge of the origination of fabrications, direct knowledge of the cessation of fabrications, direct knowledge of the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of fabrications. Knowing this directly, I have revealed it to monks, nuns, male lay followers & female lay followers, so that this undefiled life has become powerful, rich, detailed, well-populated, wide-spread, proclaimed among many beings.”

End Of Sutta

Session 4 The Meaning Of Becoming

Session 4 The Meaning Of Becoming

The Loka, Bhava, and Mula Suttas


WHAT IS AWAKENING?
THREE DEFINING SUTTAS

There is much confusion as to the meaning of “becoming.” Due to this confusion, great license is taken in interpreting what is meant by becoming as taught by the Buddha. This confusion and the following misapplication of the Dhamma can be avoided by simply looking at the Buddha’s own words from the following three suttas.

Depending on the context, becoming can refer to immediately giving birth to another moment rooted in ignorance, giving rise to further confusion, deluded thinking, and suffering, giving rise to further becoming a “self’ prone to suffering.

In the context of remaining ignorant and future becoming, becoming refers to the becoming that would give rise to a future birth, lacking present self-identification, but continuing the experience of suffering rooted in ignorance. Continuing the impersonal experience of suffering does not establish a “permanent self.” Continuity obscure impermanence but does not negate impermanence.

In the overall context of impermanence and the arising and passing away of all phenomena, becoming and non-becoming refers to the arising – becoming – and the passing away – non-becoming – of stress.

Consciousness rooted in ignorance and influenced by the five physical senses can only reinforce deluded wrong views unless the Eightfold Path is developed to interrupt the ongoing process of becoming. It is for precisely this reason that the Buddha taught an Eightfold Path.

Consciousness rooted in ignorance “conditions” thinking in such a way that continually either ignores or “embraces” suffering, as described in the Loka Sutta: “The world is aflame. Rooted in ignorance, the world is afflicted by sensory contact and perceives suffering as ‘self.’ Rooted in ignorance, it misunderstands ‘self’ and becomes anything other than ‘self.’

The twelve observable causative links of Dependent Origination:

  • From ignorance as a requisite condition comes fabrications. (when this is that is)
  • From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
  • From consciousness as a requisite condition comes Name-And-Form.
  • From Name-And-Form as a requisite condition comes to Six Sense Base.
  • From the Six Sense Base as a requisite condition comes contact.
  • From contact as a requisite, condition comes feeling.
  • From feeling as a requisite, condition comes craving.
  • From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging and maintaining.
  • From clinging and maintaining as a requisite condition comes becoming.
  • From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
  • From birth, as the requisite condition, comes sickness, aging, death, sorrow, regret, pain, distress, and despair. Such is the origination of the entire mass of confusion, deluded thinking, and suffering.

My comments within the suttas are in italics.

The Loka Sutta
Udana 3

The newly awakened Siddartha, now Buddha, was enjoying the peace of release. Established in concentration, he observed the world around him. He noticed human beings aflame with the fires born of the defilements of passion, aversion, and deluded consciousness.

Realizing the significance of what he was seeing, he thought:

“The world is aflame. Rooted in ignorance, the world is afflicted by sensory contact and perceives suffering as ‘self.’ Rooted in ignorance, it misunderstands ‘self’ and becomes anything other than ‘self.’

“Becoming anything other than self, the world clings to becoming, is afflicted by becoming, and yet delights in that very becoming. Where there is delight, there is fear. Where there is fear, there is stress.

Fear arises from clinging to what is delightful and fearing the loss of what is delightful.

“The life integrated with the Eightfold Path is lived for the abandoning of becoming. Those that say that escape from becoming is by non-becoming are never released from becoming, I declare.

“Stress (Dukkha) arises in dependence on becoming ‘self.’ With the ending of clinging to ‘self’ and maintaining ‘self,’ no stress will arise.

“Look at the world: Human beings afflicted with ignorance crave for and cling to becoming. All forms of becoming, anywhere, in any way, are impermanent, stressful, always subject to change.

“Knowing this – the arising and the passing away – from Right View craving for becoming and non-becoming is abandoned.

The arising and the passing away refer to all phenomena. All phenomena are impermanent, including the phenomenon of “self.” As the Buddha teaches in the Anatta-Lakkhana Sutta in the next chapter: “Now what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, is (not) fit to be regarded as: ‘This is mine, this is I, this is myself’?”

“From the abandonment of craving for becoming and non-becoming comes unbinding. For those unbound from lack of clinging and maintaining, there is no further becoming. They have conquered ignorance, completed the task, and have gone beyond becoming. (a self rooted in ignorance)

In this context, self-referential views resulting in self-identifying as “I am suffering” results in craving for becoming anything other than a “suffering self” and craving for non-becoming. Rather than understanding impermanence and that all phenomena arise and pass away impersonally, wrong views of self obscures impermanence, creating the appearance of a continuing self and continues the experience of dukkha. This describes the interrelationship of the Three Marks of existence and the feedback loop the Buddha describes in the Nagara Sutta.

End Of Sutta


The Bhava Sutta

Even during the Buddha’s time, there was confusion regarding the meaning of becoming. Here, Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and chief attendant, asks for clarity:

On one occasion, Ananda went to the Buddha, bowed, and sat to one side. He was unsure of the meaning of becoming and so asked the Buddha, “Becoming, becoming, to what extent is there becoming?”

“Ananda, if there were no karma ripening within the feeling-property, would the feeling-property be noticed?”

Karma is the present unfolding of past intentional actions, moderated by the present quality of mindfulness. The “feeling-property,” “form-property,” and the “formless-property” relate to the Five Clinging-Aggregates. The form/formless-property also relates to the arising and passing away of stress.

“No, wise teacher.”

“In this way, karma is the field, consciousness, the seed, and craving the moisture. The consciousness of human beings rooted in ignorance and bound by craving is established in wrong view. Established in wrong view, renewed becoming is produced.

“If there is no karma ripening in the form-property, would the form-property be noticed?”

This one sentence contains the implication of the entire Dhamma. With no karma left to “ripen,” there are no self-referential views clinging to form. With no self-referential views remaining – no self-identity clinging to impermanent phenomena –  the form-property now is simply a reference point for life dispassionately unfolding.

“No, wise teacher.”

“In this way, karma is the field, consciousness the seed, and craving the moisture. The consciousness of human beings rooted in ignorance and bound by craving is established in wrong view. Established in wrong view, renewed becoming is produced.

“If there is no karma ripening in the formless-property, would the formless-property be noticed?”

“No, wise teacher.”

“In this way, karma is the field, consciousness the seed, and craving the moisture. The consciousness of human beings rooted in ignorance and bound by craving is established in wrong view. Established in wrong view, (ignorance) renewed becoming is produced.”

With past intentional actions (karma) providing the environment for ongoing thinking (consciousness) rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths and sustained – given sustenance – by craving, one can only “become” continually subject to confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences – dukkha.

This sutta also points to what, for many is another confusing aspect of the Dhamma: Is it not craving/desire to desire awakening? This is simply a wrong view giving rise to another extreme view. The brilliance of the Buddha is his realization that in order to overcome the common human problem of conditioned thinking – ongoing “consciousness” rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths – there would need to be a way – a “path” – that would provide the framework to recognize conditioned thinking within conditioned thinking.

Right Intention, the second factor of the Eightfold Path, is holding the intention – being mindful of the intention to recognize and abandon craving and clinging rooted in ignorance. Right Intention can be seen as desire but it is certainly skillful desire as intention determines the direction and ultimate conclusion of one’s Dhamma practice.

This is the purpose of the entire Middle Way Eightfold Path. The refined mindfulness of the Eightfold Path, given direction by Right Intention and supported by the concentration developed through Right Meditation – Jhana meditation – brings the ability to recognize the feedback loop of self-referential views and inclines the mind towards becoming awakened.

The problem of becoming awakened while continuing to be affected by conditioned mind is resolved by developing the framework of the Eightfold Path for ones’ Dhamma practice, and one’s life. This is illustrated in the Mula Sutta in the following chapter.

End Of Sutta

The Mula Sutta

In this sutta the Buddha asks the assembled monks a rhetorical question:

“Monks, if those of other sects ask you ‘In what are all phenomena rooted, how do they come into play, what is their origination, how are they established, what is their foundation, what is their governing principle, what is their defining state, what is their heartwood, where do they gain footing, and what is their cessation?’ On being asked this you should reply:

“All phenomena are rooted in desire.

“All phenomena come into play through attention.

“All phenomena have contact as their origination.

“All phenomena have feeling as their establishment.

“All phenomena have concentration for their foundation.

“All phenomena have mindfulness as their governing principle.

“All phenomena have discernment as their defining state.

“All phenomena have release as their heartwood.

“All phenomena gain footing in impermanence.

“All phenomena have unbinding as their cessation.

End Of Sutta

Session 5 Paticca-Samuppada Sutta Dependent Origination

Session 5 Paticca-Samuppada Sutta Dependent Origination

DEPENDENT ORIGINATION AND THE STRESS OF IGNORANCE OF FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

Introduction

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

His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the singular path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance.

From ignorance of Four Noble Truths, all manner of suffering arises

As has been shown in the Nagara Sutta, the Buddha “awakened” to the profound understanding that the common human problem of the underlying unsatisfactory nature of life is rooted in ignorance. In the ancient language of the Pali Canon, this unsatisfactory experience is known as Dukkha. The origination of Dukkha is explained in the Buddha’s teaching of Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination shows that it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths, through twelve observable causative links, that all manner of confusion, delusion, and suffering, in a word, Dukkha, arises.

Dependent Origination is the Buddha’s teaching on how personal phenomena arise within the environment of anicca, impermanence. The entire purpose of the Dhamma is to bring understanding of Four Noble Truths. It is within the context of Four Noble Truths that understanding of Dependent Origination develops. Understanding Dependent Origination brings awareness of the relationship between the Five Clinging-Aggregates and the impermanent phenomenal world.

The Five Clinging-Aggregates are physical and mental factors that, through individual intentional clinging, a personality is formed. This self-created ego-personality perceives that it is a permanent, substantial, and sustainable self. Once formed, the fabricated ego-self tenaciously insists on establishing its “self” in every object, event, view, and idea that occurs.

Dependent Origination directly shows the 12 causative links that determine the experiences of a self-referential ego-personality. In the Paticca-Samuppada-Vibhanga Sutta, the Buddha presents the 12 causative links of Dependent Origination. Each of these 12 links are required, or “dependent” on the prior condition in order to give rise to a “self” that will experience dukkha. Rooted in ignorance, (of Four Noble Truths) it is through a continued confused and deluded “wrong view” that “anatta” continues to establish itself in every object, event, view, or idea that occurs. This is known as continued “I-making,” or simply, conceit.

The importance of these teachings is to understand that the origination of all clinging views of an ego-self are rooted in ignorance. Once understood, craving and clinging can be abandoned and the 12 causative links in the chain of dependencies unbound. The process of ongoing confusion and stress comes to an end.

Once Dependent Origination is clearly understood, seeking understanding through magical, mystical or esoteric teachings will be seen as distraction and continued I-making.

Once Dependent Origination is clearly understood, the distracting futility of modern Buddhism substituting rituals, precepts, and practices rooted in ignorance as “Dharma” practice are abandoned.

Attempts to attract the attention of gods and devas, or to establish the self in a “higher” or more pleasant realm, will be seen as rooted in ignorance and abandoned.

The Buddha awakened to the profound understanding that from ignorance, through twelve observable causative conditions, the ongoing process of stress and suffering is formed. He summarized this understanding when he presented his first teaching.

The Buddha’s first discourse was the foundational teachings of The Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths summarize the entire Dhamma.

The First Noble Truth describes the condition caused by ignorance, the noble truth of dukkha (unsatisfactoriness, stress, unhappiness, disenchantment).

The Second Noble Truth describes the truth of individual craving and clinging as the origination of a personal experience of dukkha.

The Third Noble Truth states that cessation of individual contributions to dukkha is possible.

The Fourth Noble Truth is the truth of the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of dukkha.

It is the development of The Eightfold Path that unbinds clinging to ignorant views, ends dukkha, and brings awakening.

Nibbana (Sanskrit: Nirvana) is a Pali word, that describes the awakened mind state. Nibbana means extinguished or unbound. Cessation of dukkha is the extinguishing of all wrong views that initiate craving, and the unbinding of all clinging attachments.

As seen in the previous section, the Buddha taught three linked characteristics of life in the phenomenal world, or “Three Marks of Existence. These three characteristics are Anicca, Anatta, and Dukkha – impermanence, not-self, and stress.

All things in the phenomenal world are subject to impermanence, including what appears as self. All things in the phenomenal world arise and fade away WITHIN the phenomenal world. Nothing is permanent and nothing arises of its own accord.

The Buddha avoided any attempt to define a self in any manner. He simply and directly taught that wrong views rooted in ignorance that establishes a self are “Anatta,” Not-Self.

The Buddha left unanswered any questions that would seek to make permanent and substantial that which is inherently impermanent and insubstantial.

The Buddha never addressed questions directly that would not lead to ending craving and clinging and cessation of dukkha. Answering questions about the nature of self originating from a deluded belief (in self) would only reinforce delusion and lead to more delusion, confusion suffering. These questions were consistently left unanswered, as they were improper questions rooted in ignorance.

The Buddha described these questions as arising from “Inappropriate views not fit for attention. These views will continue to generate confusion and suffering.”

The Buddha teaches what is fit for attention while maintaining the context of The Four Noble Truths:

  • Understanding Stress.
  • Understanding the Origination of Stress.
  • Understanding the Cessation of Stress.
  • Understanding the path leading to the cessation of Stress.

“As one attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts and practices.”

Grasping at precepts and practices refers to assuming an inherent “ground of being.” From this assumed fabrication preserving the self through engaging in ritualistic or ideological practices becomes reasonable.

If engaging or following popular doctrines, teachers, or rituals develops further self-grasping, it should be recognized as deluded and abandoned.

The continued preoccupation with defining and maintaining a self creates ongoing confusion and suffering. Understanding views rooted in ignorance brings liberation.

As one develops an understanding of the Dhamma, it is important to always be mindful of the context and intent of the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha consistently emphasized to be mindful of what he taught and why: “I teach the origination of Dukkha and the path leading to the cessation of Dukkha, nothing more.”

The Buddha avoided any issues that would prove to be a distraction to his stated purpose. In fact, The Buddha could have nearly as accurately stated: “I teach the origination of distraction and the cessation of distraction.” It is the ongoing preoccupation with Dukkha that distracts from life as life occurs. It is the self-referential preoccupation with stress and unhappiness that distracts from a life of lasting peace and happiness. It is the distraction of dukkha that prevents awakening.

Life in the phenomenal world is often experienced as both arbitrary and personal and predetermined and unavoidable.

Dependent Origination explains the process of the formation of an ego-personality, a “self,” and the personalization of impersonal worldly events.

Holding the view that discrete impersonal objects, events, views, and ideas are occurring to “you” or for your benefit or detriment is the personalization of impersonal worldly events. This is “I-making.”

Recognizing and abandoning the ongoing process of I-making brings the refined mindfulness of an awakened human being.

An awakened human being experiences life fully present with life as life occurs without the confining craving and clinging conditioned mind that clouds perception and maintains confusion and unsatisfactoriness.

Understanding the process of “I-making” develops the heightened wisdom, heightened virtue, and heightened concentration necessary to refine thinking and reverse the formation of the ego-personality.

Dependent Origination is the Buddha’s teaching on how (apparently) personal phenomena arises within the impersonal environment of impermanence.

The purpose of the Dhamma is to end ignorance through developing a profound understanding of The Four Noble Truths. It is within the context of Four Noble Truths that understanding Dependent Origination develops.

Understanding Dependent Origination brings awareness of the relationship between the Five Clinging-Aggregates and the phenomenal world. The Five Clinging-Aggregates are physical and mental factors that cling together to form a personality identified as self – an ego-personality. Dependent Origination explains the 12 causative links that determine the experiences of the ego-personality.

The Five Clinging-Aggregates are the personal experience of confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointment.

In the Paticca-Samuppada-Vibhanga Sutta, the Buddha presents the 12 causative links of Dependent Origination. Each of these 12 links are required to cause the “self” to experience Dukkha.

Notice the direct teaching here on how confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointment – Dukkha – originate in ignorance. From this initial ignorance – of Four Noble Truths – the feedback loop of self-referential views maintained by confused thinking continues. Also, notice there is nothing in this sutta that could be seen as a creation myth or to suggest a doctrine of interdependence, interconnectedness, or inter-being.

It is from a misunderstanding, misapplication, or complete dismissal of this fundamental sutta that resulted in contradictory and confusing alterations and adaptations to the Buddha’s Dhamma.

My comments below are in italics.

The Paticca-Samuppada-Vibhanga Sutta
Suttasamyutta Nikaya 12.2

The Buddha was at Savatthi, at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. There he addressed those assembled: “Friends, I will describe in detail Dependent Origination. Listen carefully. And what is Dependent Origination?

  • From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications.
  • From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness.
  • From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.
  • From name-and-form as a requisite condition comes the six-sense-base.
  • From the six -sense-base as a requisite condition comes contact.
  • From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.
  • From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.
  • From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging and maintaining.
  • From clinging and maintaining as a requisite condition comes becoming.
  • From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.
  • From birth as a requisite condition comes aging, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress and despair.”

Then the Buddha describes in slightly more detail, and in reverse order, each of the 12 links:

“Now, what is aging and death? Aging is decrepitude, brokenness, graying, decline, weakening of faculties. Death is the passing away of the Five Clinging-Aggregates, the ending of time, the interruption in the life faculties.

“Now what is Birth? Birth is the descent, the coming forth, the coming to be. Birth is the appearance of the six sense-bases and the Five Clinging-Aggregates.

“Now what is becoming? Becoming is sensual becoming, form becoming and formless becoming.”

This is explaining that the belief in a self is reinforced by sensory contact and is proliferated by believing in an individual sustainable personality being born, i.e.: becoming a permanent form. This belief is rooted in ignorance of the Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha is explaining becoming the personal experience of suffering – Five Clinging-Aggregates.

It is also ignorance of The Four Noble Truths to hold the belief that an ego-personality becomes formless at death but survives physical death as the same personality, either in an eternal formless state or being reborn as the same “soul.”

Becoming, birth, sickness, old age, death, and non-becoming is the environment of Dukkha caused by ignorance. The links of clinging, craving, feeling, contact, the six-sense-base, name-and-form, consciousness, and fabrications are all part of the process of a self arising from ignorance. This process is maintained by continued ignorance, furthering karma.

The Buddha then describes how clinging to the notion of self maintains this feedback loop of the six-sense base establishing a self and maintaining the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

“And what is clinging and maintaining? There are four types of clinging: clinging to sensory stimulus, clinging to views (conditioned thinking), clinging to precepts and practices, and clinging to a doctrine of self.”

The Buddha is cautioning against developing or maintaining practices that are given validity simply from the “positive” feeling developed or the “positive” or commonly accepted views reinforced. Engaging in rituals or practices that continue a doctrine of self in any realm, physical or otherwise, are to be recognized as rooted in ignorance and abandoned.

The Buddha here has taken a methodical route from the ultimate result of ignorance, suffering, back to the Second Noble Truth or the origination of individual contributions to Dukkha – craving and clinging. Along the way, he describes what is clung to: a self that is dependent on continued craving and continued clinging to sensory stimulus to be maintained.

Profound understanding of any one of these links begins to unravel the entire causative chain. For example, a profound understanding that phenomena contacting senses develops feelings, and that feeling develops craving (for more self-affirming contact with worldly phenomena) brings dispassion for constant sensory stimulation.

This develops the understanding that contact framed by ignorance via sensory stimulus is the direct result of the belief in an ego-self, (name & form) and not an inevitable life experience.

Seeing this process clearly de-personalizes the life experience. From this understanding, life experience no longer will define and maintain an ego-personality.

The implications of this realization can be unsettling at first if one is engaging the Dhamma to “fix” a flawed self. There is nothing substantial to fix, or to actualize. What is impermanent and insubstantial is to be seen as such and simply abandoned.

Remember that what is abandoned when this process of I-making is interrupted is only a fabricated ego-personality that is stuck in confusion and unsatisfactory experiences. Once understood, the release from the burden of an ego-personality brings the continual experience of lasting peace and happiness.

It is also important to remember that the teachings on Dependent Origination are given to develop understanding of Four Noble Truths. Dependent Origination explains the process of how all personal phenomena arise so that understanding of the distraction of dukkha is understood. Dependent Origination teaches Right View while pointing out that holding wrong (ignorant) views is the cause of all confusion and suffering.

The establishment of anatta, an ego-personality, within an environment of anicca, resulting in the unsatisfactoriness and confusion of dukkha, is not an arbitrary or chaotic development from which there is no liberation.

There is no substantive difference between impermanence, individual confusion, and resulting in individual suffering.

The Four Noble Truths are universal truths applicable to all human experience.

Understanding Dependent Origination within the context of The Four Noble Truths is the key to unbinding from the endless karmic entanglements caused by the desire to maintain an ego-self.

The Buddha describes how craving arises from feeling, and how feeling is caused by contact:

“And what is craving?

“There are six classes of craving: Craving for forms.

  • Craving for sounds.
  • Craving for smells.
  • Craving for tastes.
  • Craving for physical sensations.
  • Craving for ideas.

“And what is feeling?

“Feeling has six classes as well:

  • Feeling arising from eye-contact.
  • Feeling arising from ear-contact.
  • Feeling arising from nose-contact.
  • Feeling arising from taste-contact.
  • Feeling arising from body-contact.
  • Feeling arising from intellect-contact.

“This is called feeling.

“And what is contact?

  • Phenomena contacting the eye.
  • Phenomena contacting the ear.
  • Phenomena contacting the nose.
  • Phenomena contacting the tongue.
  • Phenomena contacting the body.
  • Phenomena contacting the intellect.

“This is contact with the six-sense-base.

“And what is name and form?

  • Feeling
  • Perception.
  • Intention.
  • Attention (all mental aspects)
  • Contact.

“Discriminating self-referential consciousness is name. The elements of water, fire, earth, and wind, that which make up physical forms, are called form.

“Name-and-form is discriminating consciousness bound to or clinging to physical form.

“And what is consciousness?

“There are six classes of consciousness:

  • Eye-consciousness.
  • Ear-consciousness.
  • Nose-consciousness.
  • Tongue-consciousness.
  • Body-consciousness.
  • Intellect-consciousness.

Through the six-sense base, contact with the world is made and mental fabrications, including objectifying a self-referential ego-self, is formed.

“And what are fabrications?

“There are three fabrications:

  • Bodily fabrications.
  • Verbal fabrications.
  • Mental fabrications.

All three fabrications are caused by a wrong view of self. Fabrications result in a personality bound to physical form that is perceived as “I” or “me”.

The Buddha describes ignorance:

“And what is ignorance?

  • Ignorance is not knowing stress.
  • Not knowing the origination of stress.
  • Not knowing the cessation of stress.
  • Not knowing the (Eightfold) path leading to the cessation of stress.

“This is called ignorance.

All confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointment and suffering – Dukkha – arise from ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha relates Dependent Origination back to his first teaching, on Four Noble Truths, and teaches that from ignorance of Four Noble Truths comes all confusion and suffering.

Gaining understanding of The Four Noble Truths is wisdom. Wisdom brings an end to ignorance and an end to the distraction, confusion, and suffering caused by ignorance. Wisdom brings an end to the delusion of a permanent, substantial, and sustainable self.

When all ignorance is abandoned, awakening arises.

The Buddha continues:

“Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications.

“From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness.

“From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-and-form.

“From the cessation of name-and-form comes the cessation of the six-sense-base.

“From the cessation of the six sense-base comes the cessation of contact.

“From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling.

“From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving.

“From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging and maintaining.

“From the cessation of clinging and maintaining comes the cessation of becoming.

“From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth.

“From the cessation of birth comes the cessation of sickness, aging, death, sorrow, pain, distress, despair and confusion. Wisdom brings the cessation to the entire mass of stress and suffering.

End of Sutta

Session 6 Four Noble Truths - Appropriate Context For Dhamma Practice

Session 6 Four Noble Truths – Appropriate Context For Dhamma Practice

DHAMMACAKKAPPAVATTANA SUTTA & SACCA VIBHANGA SUTTA ANALYSIS OF FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

 DHAMMACAKKAPPAVATTANA SUTTA
Introduction

The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is the very first teaching ever presented by the Buddha. It occurred a few weeks after Siddhartha Gotama awakened and gained full human maturity – complete understanding of the human life experience.

For a few weeks after his awakening, Siddhartha carefully considered if it was possible to teach to others his profound understanding of the nature of suffering (Dukkha) arising due to wrong views of self (Anatta) within an impermanent, ever-changing environment (Anicca). Developing the wisdom of a Buddha is developing insight into these Three Marks Of Existence.

As described in the Paticca-Samuppada Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination, the conditions that Dukkha is dependent on arise from ignorance of Four Noble Truths. As shown and taught in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the Eightfold Path is the middle-way that avoids extreme views that would continue wrong views rooted in ignorance of the Four Noble Truths described in this sutta. The Eightfold Path is the path developed by Dhamma practitioners that brings wisdom and awakening.

It is the self-identification with ongoing suffering – clinging or joining with suffering – that obscures impermanence through the continuation of self-referential unsatisfactory experiences.

The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path to develop the concentration supporting the refined mindfulness necessary to integrate the Eightfold Path as the framework for recognizing and abandoning all wrong views rooted in ignorance.

The entire forty-five-year teaching career of the Buddha was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths to bring wisdom, understanding, and profound insight into Three Marks Of Existence.

This very first teaching was presented to the five ascetics he had previously befriended, all seeking understanding.

My comments below are in italics.

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
Setting The Wheel Of Dhamma In Motion
SAMYUTTA NIKAYA 56:11

I have heard that on this occasion, the Buddha was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipathana. There he addressed the group of five:

“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. This behavior is base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable. It is devoted to self-affliction. That which is devoted to self-affliction is (always) painful and ignoble. Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way is realized by the Tathagata. This middle way produces vision and knowledge. This middle way leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to unbinding.

“One who has gone forth” refers to one who has gained understanding framed by the Eightfold Path and no longer craves after or clings to the impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas of the world.

“And what is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that brings vision and direct knowledge, that leads to calm and to self-awakening and unbinding? The middle way is precisely this Noble Eightfold Path:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Meditation

“This is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that brings vision and direct knowledge, that leads to calm and to self-awakening and unbinding.

“Tathagata” means “One who has gone forth” and is the word the Buddha used when referring to himself. By using this word, the Buddha established his life and his teachings as a continual reference to the Eightfold Path. “Unbinding” refers to the culmination of the path – abandoning clinging to views rooted in ignorance of these Four Noble Truths.

“I teach the truth of stress (Dukkha) and the truth of the path leading to the cessation of stress. Nothing More.

“This is the noble truth of stress:

“Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful. Sorrow, regret, pain, distress, and despair are stressful. Furthermore, association with the unbeloved is stressful and separation from what is loved is stressful. Not getting what is craved for is stressful. In short, the Five Clinging Aggregates are stressful.

“Five Clinging Aggregates” are form, feelings, perceptions, mental fabrications, and ongoing thinking rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Five Clinging Aggregates describe the ongoing personal experience of stress. Gaining insight into Five Clinging Aggregates is gaining insight into Three Marks Of Existence.

“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming (rooted in ignorance) and accompanied by passion and delight, (in becoming) relishing now here and now thereby craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

“Relishing nowhere and now thereby craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming” means compulsive seeking to establish a “self” rooted in ignorance in every thought, word, and idea that occurs.

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

The previous statement describes the purpose of a Buddha’s Dhamma. The following statement provides the focus and framework for Dhamma practice and points directly to the Eightfold Path:

“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 Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Meditation.

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘Dukkha (stress) occurs.’ (First Noble Truth)

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: The noble truth of stress is to be understood.

Understanding the nature of stress, its arising and passing away, is the task associated with the First Noble Truth. Understanding that ignorance of the impermanence of all conditioned phenomena, including what constitutes a “self,” initiates craving and clinging. This initial ignorance then allows for “clinging” wrong views of self – mental fabrications – to impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas.

This unknowingly – mindlessly – establishes disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences, Dukkha, as personal experiences given an individual personality from this initial ignorance. Life experience established in ignorance can only lead to continuing confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointing experiences.

It isinsight into Anicca, impermanence, and Anatta, the Not-Self characteristic, that brings wisdom and knowledge of “things never heard before” and results in awakening as the Buddha describes awakening:

“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before:

  • The noble truth of stress has been understood.

The Eightfold Path develops the skills of concentration and refined mindfulness necessary to support accomplishing the tasks associated with developingunderstanding of Four Noble Truths. Profound and penetrative understanding of the origination and cessation of stress, of Dukkha, is awakening:

“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.
  • This noble truth of the origination of stress has been abandoned.

This refers to the Second Noble Truth.

“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.’

This refers to the Third Noble Truth.

“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.

This last refers to the Fourth Noble Truth, the truth of the path developing profound and penetrative insight into Three Marks Of Existence. The Eightfold Path provides simple and direct guidanceof an awakened human beings Dhamma.

“Monks, as long as my knowledge & vision concerning these Four Noble Truths was not pure, I did not claim to have directly self-awakened. My self-awakening is unexcelled in the cosmos even with its deities, Maras, & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & Brahmans, its royalty & common folk.

Here the Buddha is declaring that his Dhamma surpasses the “spiritual” practices of his time for all beings, regardless of their understanding or social position.

The Buddha continues: “But as soon as my knowledge & vision concerning these Four Noble Truths was truly pure, then I did claim to have directly self-awakened, an awakening unexcelled in the cosmos. Knowledge & vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’

“Unprovoked is my release” refers to the emptiness of ignorance in the Buddha’s mind. Having become empty of ignorance, there is no longer the condition present – ignorance – to “provoke” craving, clinging, or any thought, word, or deed rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“This is the last birth” is the Buddha’s declaration that the conditions giving rise to the birth of life experiences arising from ignorance of Four Noble Truths and resulting in Dukkha no longer exist. The Buddha has emptied himself of ignorance.

“There is now no further becoming” means that having emptied himself of ignorance, becoming further established in ignorance is abandoned and becoming awakened, Becoming Buddha is achieved.

That is what the Blessed One said. The group of five monks were delighted at his words. While this discourse was being given, Venerable Kondanna declared: “All conditioned things that arise are subject to cessation.”

Kondanna now understands the impermanence of all phenomena arising from the “condition” of ignorance.

Having heard Kondanna, the Buddha exclaimed: “So you really know, Kondanna? So you really know? You are now “Anna Kondanna – Kondanna, who knows and understands.”

End Of Sutta

Sacca Vibhanga Sutta
Analysis Of Four Noble Truths

INTRODUCTION

In the Sacca-Vibhanga Sutta, one of the Buddha’s chief disciples, Sariputta, presents a complete analysis of the Four Noble Truths, including a simple and direct explanation of the Eightfold Path.

Sariputta teaches in plain and simple terms the qualifications one should look for in choosing a skillful Dhamma teacher and what an authentic Dhamma practice must be based on: “Sariputta is able to declare, teach, describe, set forth, reveal, explain, and make plain the Four Noble Truths in detail.”

The reference in this sutta to established Brahmans, disincarnate “beings”, and imagined creator gods as having no more understanding of Four Noble Truths as ordinary human beings is common throughout the Buddha’s Dhamma.

A critical aspect of the Dhamma is that ignorance that arises within, and is resolved within individual human beings through their own individual Right Effort, as described in this sutta, through direct engagement with an Eightfold Path. The Buddha referred to imaginary, disincarnate beings, devas, and gods to show that even though these fabricated beliefs were as widespread as as they are today, they are merely metaphors for a confused, distracted, and conflicted minds lacking understanding of Four Noble Truths.

Simply put, an awakened human being’s Dhamma, as seen here and throughout the Buddha’s Dhamma, resolves solely within the mind and body of each individual Dhamma practitioner.

My comments below are in italics.

Sacca-Vibhanga Sutta
Analysis Of Four Noble Truths
MAJJHIMA NIKAYA 141

On one occasion, the Buddha was staying at the Deer Park in Isipathana. He addressed those gathered: “Friends, it was here that I set in motion the unexcelled Wheel Of Dhamma. My Dhamma cannot be corrupted by any brahman, deva, Mara, Brahma, or anyone in the entire world.

“No one can corrupt the revelation, declaration, the description, the structure, the explanation, and the clear and direct teaching of Four Noble Truths:

  1. The Noble Truth of stress and suffering.
  2. The Noble Truth of the origination of stress.
  3. The Noble Truth of the cessation of stress.
  4. The Noble Truth of the Eightfold Path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.

“Friends, associate with wise disciples such as Sariputta and Moggallana. Sariputta and Moggallana are well-trained, focused, wise, and sympathetic to those developing a life integrated with the Eightfold Path.

“Sariputta is like a mother giving birth and Moggallana is like the nurse that attends to the baby. Sariputta trains others on developing the Dhamma, Moggallana, to the highest culmination.

This last may seem to show Sariputta as a lesser teacher. The Buddha always held Sariputta as his most effective Dhamma teacher. When seen clearly, it is much more difficult to introduce an ordinary person to the Dhamma than to continue to support the development of one already engaged with the Eightfold Path. Both Sariputta and Moggallana were critical support to the Buddha and the original Sangha.

“Sariputta is able to declare, teach, describe, set forth, reveal, explain, and make plain the Four Noble Truths in detail.”

Having said these words, the Buddha left for the days abiding.

Sariputta then addressed those gathered: “Friends, it was here that the Tathagata set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma. This Dhamma cannot be corrupted by any Brahman, deva, Mara, Brahma, or anyone in the entire world. No one can corrupt the revelation, declaration, the description, the structure, the explanation, and the clear and direct teaching of Four Noble Truths:

  1. The Noble Truth of stress and suffering.
  2. The Noble Truth of the origination of stress.
  3. The Noble Truth of the cessation of stress.
  4. The Noble Truth of the Eightfold Path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.

“Friends, what is the noble truth of stress and suffering?

  • Birth is stressful.
  • Sickness is stressful.
  • Aging is stressful.
  • Death is stressful.
  • Sorrow, regret, pain, distress, and despair are all stressful.
  • Not getting what is desired is stressful.
  • Receiving what is undesired is stressful.
  • In short, the Five-Clinging-Aggregates are stressful.

The Five Clinging-Aggregates are the ongoing personal experience of stress and suffering in an impermanent world – the personal experience of Anicca, anatta, and Dukkha.

It is the Eightfold Path that develops useful Vipassana, useful introspective insight into these Three Marks Of Existence.

“And what is birth? Whatever takes birth. The descent, the coming-to-be, the coming forth, the arising of the Five-Clinging-Aggregates, the fabrication of sensuous realms of diverse beings. This is called birth.

One of the grossest misunderstandings of the Buddha’s Dhamma is what he taught as Karma and Rebirth.  Rather than teaching Karma and Rebirth as a magical and mystical system of behavior modification through reward and punishments, reward based on ambiguous “merit” and good deeds with the ultimate reward in vague realms of emptiness or nothingness or eternal establishment in some form of Buddhist “heaven” and punishment similar to all other salvific religions in some type of “hell”, the Buddha taught Karma is the conditioning of past intentional acts manifesting in the present moment that is moderated by the present level of mindfulness. If what is held in mind continues to be rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths, then individual experience of what one is “giving birth” to in the present moment can only “give birth” to continued ignorance in the present moment. Holding in mind the framework and guidance of the Eightfold Path will “give birth” to a present-moment-experience that continues the non-distracted development of wisdom of Four Noble Truths.

Many translations state “acquisition of (sense) spheres of the diverse beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth” rather than the content-relevant “the fabrication of sensuous realms of diverse beings. This is called birth.” The improper (relevant to context) translation encourages a subtle grasping-after establishment on speculated and imaginary non-physical realms that the Buddha consistently and emphatically taught to abandon.

“And what is aging? Aging is (increasing) decrepitude, brokenness, graying, wrinkling, decline of life-force, diminishing of mental faculties, of diverse beings. This is called aging.

“And what is death? Death is the passing away, the breaking up, the disappearance, the completion of time, the casting off of the body, the interruption of the life faculty, and the dissolution of the Five Clinging-Aggregates of diverse beings. This is called death.

“And what is sorrow? Sorrow is sadness, this suffering of misfortune, being touched by pain. This is called sorrow.

“And what is regret? Regret is the grieving, the crying, the weeping, the wailing, the regret of suffering from misfortune, of being touched by pain. This is called regret.

“And what is pain? Pain is bodily pain, bodily discomfort, pain, or discomfort from bodily contact. This is called pain.

“And what is distress? Distress is mental pain and mental discomfort, pain, or discomfort from mental contact. This is called distress.

“And what is despair? Despair is despondency and desperation of anyone suffering from misfortune or touch buy a painful thing. This is called despair.

“And what is the stress of not getting what is desired? In those beings subject to birth, the wish arises, ‘May I not be subject to birth, may birth not come to me.’ Wishing does not bring cessation. This is the stress of not getting what is desired.

“Furthermore, In uninformed human beings subject to birth, sickness, aging, death, sorrow, regret, pain, distress, and despair the wish arises ‘O, may I not be subject to birth, sickness, aging, death, sorrow, regret, pain, distress, and despair. May these not befall me.’ These things are not avoided by wishing. This is the stress of not getting what is desired.

The result of continued grasping after continued establishment of a fabricated view of self clinging to any impermanent phenomena, including the fabricated phenomena of external realms and the fabricated belief of salvific intervention of beings from external imaginary realms, is what is referred to here. Wishing to avoid any experience that is determined by simply having a human life is rooted in self-referential wrong views of self and always results in continued distraction and continued stress and suffering.

“And what are the Five Clinging-Aggregates that continue stress?

  1. The clinging-to-form-aggregate.
  2. The clinging-to-feeling-aggregate.
  3. The clinging-to-perception-aggregate.
  4. The clinging-to-fabrication-aggregate.
  5. The clinging-to-consciousness-aggregate.

“These are the Five Clinging-Aggregates that continue stress.

“This, friends, is the Noble Truth of Stress.

“And what is the Noble Truth of the origination of stress? The very craving that makes for becoming father ignorant, craving clinging to passion and delight (after what is craved including adapted, accommodated and/or embellished modern dharmas), entranced here and there with craving for sensuality, craving for continued becoming (further ignorant), craving for non-becoming (escape from the effects of ignorance rather than cessation of ignorance, annihilation into nothingness, emptiness, non-duality). This is called the Noble Truth of the origination of stress.

Wise and skillful disciples understand the Dhamma is practiced within individual life as life unfolds. Each moment holds the potential to become further ignorant or become further awakened.

“And what friends is the Noble Truth of the cessation of stress? The renunciation, the relinquishment, the release, the letting go, the remainder less fading away and complete cessation of craving. This is called the Noble Truth of the cessation of stress.

“And what is the Noble Truth of the path of Dhamma practice that leads directly to the cessation of stress? This path is the Noble Eightfold Path:

  1. Right View. Right View is knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress, knowledge with regard to the Eightfold Path of practice leading to the cessation of stress. This is Right View.
  2. Right Intention. Right Intention is maintaining mindfulness of the intention for renunciation, for freedom from ill-will, for harmlessness, for cessation. This is Right Intention.
  3. Right Speech. Right Speech is abstaining from lying, abstaining from divisive speech, abstaining from abusive speech, and abstaining from gossip and idle chatter. This is Right Speech.
  4. Right Action. Right Action is abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, and abstaining from sexual misconduct. This is Right Action.
  5. Right Livelihood. Right Livelihood is when a skillful disciple of the Noble Ones has abandoned dishonest livelihood and provides for themselves with honesty. This is Right Livelihood.
  6. Right Effort. Right Effort is when a skillful disciple of the Noble Ones (internally) generates the skillful desire, who is persistent, who remains mindful of their intent for the non-arising of unskillful qualities that have yet arisen, who remains mindful of their intent for the abandoning of unskillful qualities that have arisen, who remains mindful for maintaining non-confusion and for increasing, developing, and the culmination of skillful qualities that have yet arisen. This is Right Effort.
  7. Right Mindfulness. Right Mindfulness is when a skillful disciple of the Noble One’s remains mindful of the body in and of itself while remaining ardent, alert, and mindful of putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. Right Mindfulness is when a skillful disciple of the Noble One’s remains mindful of feelings in and of themselves while remaining ardent, alert, and mindful of putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. Right Mindfulness is when a skillful disciple of the Noble One’s remains mindful of thoughts in and of themselves while remaining ardent, alert, and mindful of putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. Right Mindfulness is when a skillful disciple of the Noble One’s remains mindful of the (present) quality of mind in and of itself while remaining ardent, alert, and mindful of putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. This is right mindfulness.
  8. Right Meditation. Right Meditation is when a skillful disciple of the Noble Ones has established seclusion from sensuality and unskillful mental qualities. They 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.

This first Jana is simply the initial pleasant calming that occurs from taking refuge in seclusion and becoming mindful of the breath in the body.

“Furthermore, the ending of the defilements depends on the Second Jhana, which is the stilling of directed thought and evaluation. This Second Jhana is experienced as rapture and pleasure born of concentration. Free of directed thought and evaluation, the joy of concentration permeates their entire mind and body.

This second Jhana is a deepening awareness of the mind calming in the body as a point of concentration.

“Furthermore, the ending of the defilements depends on the Third Jhana, which is the fading of rapture. They remain equanimous, mindful, alert, sensitive to pleasure. With the fading of rapture, this pleasant abiding permeates their entire mind and body.

This third Jhana is characterized by the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, and the meditator can now experience the subtle pleasure of a mind calmly united with the body. This is a pleasant abiding free of comparison to what is no longer present.

“Furthermore, the ending of the defilements depends on the Fourth Jhana, which is the abandoning of evaluation. They 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. The Fourth Jhana which is a pleasant abiding. This is Right Meditation.

This fourth Jhana is simply a deepening level of concentration and resulting pleasant abiding that remains at peace no matter what arises. This pleasant abiding is the defining characteristic of a well-concentrated mind having integrated the Eightfold Path.

“This is the Noble Truth of the Eightfold Path of practice that leads directly to the cessation of stress.

“Friends, it was here that the Tathagata set in motion the unexcelled Wheel Of Dhamma. This Dhamma cannot be corrupted by any Brahman, deva, Mara, Brahma, or anyone in the entire world. No one can corrupt the revelation, declaration, the description, the structure, the explanation, and the clear and direct teaching of Four Noble Truths.”

This is what Venerable Sariputta said. Gratified, those in attendance were delighted in Venerable Sariputta’s words.

End Of Sutta 

Session 7 Magga-Vibhanga Sutta Analysis of the Path

Session 7 Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
Analysis of the Path

Introduction

In the Nagara Sutta, the newly awakened Siddhartha Gotama, now a Buddha, explains the path he discovered and then taught as the path to becoming free of ignorance and become Rightly Self-Awakened:

“In this way, I saw a timeless path to be traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones. And what is this timeless path traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones? Just this noble eightfold path:

Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Meditation.”

The Eightfold Path is the Fourth Noble Truth, the truth of the path developing the cessation of confused and deluded thinking ignorant of Four Noble Truths. It is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that results in all manner of distracting, disappointing, and unsatisfactory experiences.

“Timeless” refers to the timeless nature of these Four Truths. These Four Truths remain true throughout the unfolding of time. Ongoing ignorance requires a reference to linear time, a mind constantly reverberating between past experiences and future desires, distracted from what is occurring. (Thank You, Jen for this description!)

The Buddha awakened to a profound understanding of the arising and passing away of stress and suffering known within the Dhamma as Dukkha. This fundamental teaching is Dependent Origination, which clearly states that from ignorance of Four Noble Truths, all manner of confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing suffering (Dukkha) arise. Everything the Buddha would teach for his forty-five-year teaching career was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths to develop profound insight of Three Marks Of existence.

The single path the Buddha taught to overcome ignorance of Four Noble Truths is this Eightfold Path. Adapting, accommodating, embellishing, diminishing, or dismissing outright the Eightfold Path only results in a “spiritual” or “religious” practice that can only ignore an awakened human being’s teaching. This is a common, subtle, and powerful strategy of a mind rooted in ignorance of these Four Truths to continue to ignore its own ignorance.

The simple and direct path that an awakened human being established as the “Heartwood of His Dhamma” brings a calm and peaceful mind, a mind resting in equanimity, to anyone who avoids distraction and wholeheartedly engages with the path.

The title of this sutta literally means Suffering-Analysis.

Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
Analysis Of The Eightfold Path
Samyutta Nikaya 45.8

I have heard that at one time, the Buddha was staying in Savatthi at Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery.

There he addressed those assembled:

“Friends, I will now give you a detailed analysis of the Noble Eightfold Path. Listen mindfully.

This is the Noble Eightfold Path:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Meditation

And what is Right View?

  • Knowledge with regard to stress
  • Knowledge with regard to the origination of stress
  • Knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress
  • Knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress

This, friends, is Right View.

And what is Right Intention?

  • Being mindful of the intention to recognize and abandon wrong views
  • Being mindful of the intention to remain free from ill will
  • Being mindful of the intention to remain harmless to all beings

This, friends, is Right Intention

And what is Right Speech?

  • Abstaining from lying
  • Abstaining from divisive speech
  • Abstaining from abusive speech
  • Abstaining from gossip
  • Abstaining from idle chatter

This, friends, is Right Speech.

And what is Right Action?

  • Abstaining from taking life
  • Abstaining from taking what is not freely given
  • Abstaining from sexual misconduct

This, friends, is Right Action.

And what is Right Livelihood?

  • Right Livelihood abandons dishonest livelihood.
  • Right Livelihood is honest Livelihood.

This, friends, is Right Livelihood.

And what is Right Effort?

  • Right Effort is effort developing the skillful desire and ongoing persistence to avoid unskillful qualities that are not present.
  • Right Effort is effort developing the skillful desire and ongoing persistence to abandon unskillful qualities that are present
  • Right Effort is effort developing the skillful desire and ongoing persistence to establish skillful qualities that are not yet present
  • Right Effort is effort developing the skillful desire and ongoing persistence to  end confusion and increase the full development of skillful qualities that are present

This, friends, is Right Effort.

And what is Right Mindfulness?

  • Right Mindfulness is remaining mindful of the body free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful of abandoning greed and reaction to worldly events.
  • Right Mindfulness is remaining mindful of feelings arising and passing away free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful of abandoning greed and reaction to worldly events.
  • Right Mindfulness is remaining mindful of mental qualities arising and passing away free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful of abandoning greed and reaction to worldly events.
  • Right Mindfulness is remaining mindful of the quality of mind arising and passing away free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful of abandoning greed and reaction to worldly events.

This, friends, is Right Mindfulness.

And what is Right Meditation?

  • For one who has developed Right Meditation their concentration increases and they withdraw from the need for sensual stimulation
  • For one who has developed Right Meditation their concentration increases and they withdraw from unskillful mental qualities
  • For one who has developed Right Meditation their concentration increases and they enter and remain in the first Jhana, the first level of meditative absorption, which is joyful engagement and pleasure in the Dhamma born from withdrawal, and accompanied by directed thought and mindful evaluation.
  • For one who has developed Right Meditation their concentration increases and their directed thoughts and mindful evaluation quiets. They enter and remain in the second Jhana, the second level of meditative absorption, which is joyful engagement and pleasure born of deepening concentration free from directed thought and mindful evaluation and confident within.
  • For one who has developed Right Meditation their concentration increases and their joyful engagement fades. Equanimity arises with mindfulness of pleasure in a mind united with the body. They enter the third Jhana. The wise know this as equanimous and mindful – a pleasant abiding.
  • For one who has developed Right Meditation their concentration increases, their mind rests in equanimity, neither pleasure nor pain have a footing. They enter and remain in the Fourth Jhana. Their mindfulness and equanimity is pure, free of wrong views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

This, monks, is Right Meditation.”

This is what the Buddha declared. Those gathered were gratified and delighted at his words.

End Of Sutta

Session 8 Satipatthana Sutta Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Session 8 Satipatthana Sutta
Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Introduction

In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha teaches the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as the framework for what occurs during meditation and as a reference for mindfulness in all areas of a Dhamma practitioner’s moment-by-moment life.

Four Noble Truths are the context for meditation practice. Jhana meditation is practiced for deepening concentration. It is the concentration developed during meditation that supports the refined mindfulness necessary for integration of the Eightfold Path as the framework for Dhamma Practice.

In the Satipatthana, the Buddha first teaches the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as instruction for Jhana meditation.

Much is made of the detailed account of the different breaths and bodily functions to imply that the Buddha is teaching to manufacture the experience of these differences. This contradicts the fundamental teaching to not establish a self in any event or isolated experience. What is described here is a simple dispassionate mindfulness of what is occurring.

My comments below are in italics.

Satipatthana Sutta
Four Foundations Of Mindfulness
Majjhima Nikaya 120

On one occasion, the Buddha was in Kammasadhamma, where he addressed those assembled:

“Friends, there are four frames of reference – four foundations of mindfulness – that are required for the purification of all beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and regret, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for establishing the right method of practice, and for complete unbinding. What are these four?

  1. Being mindful of the breath in the body, determined and alert and abandoning craving and aversion to what is occurring.
  2. Being mindful of feelings arising from the six-sense base, determined and alert and abandoning craving and aversion to what is occurring.
  3. Being mindful of thoughts arising from the six-sense base, determined and alert and abandoning craving and aversion to what is occurring.
  4. Being mindful of the present quality of mind, determined and alert and abandoning craving and aversion to what is occurring.

The six-sense base is the five physical senses and conscious thought. It is through the six-sense base that self-referential contact and self-identification (attachment) with phenomena is established. Feelings in this reference is any disturbance in the mind and conscious thought is ongoing thinking that is rooted in ignorance prior to awakening.

The First Foundation Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness Of The Breath In The Body

“And how does one remain mindful of the breath in the body in and of itself?

“Finding a secluded spot – the shade of a tree or an empty hut – sitting erect with legs crossed in front, placing attention on the breath.

“Remaining mindful of the breath – breathe in and breathe out. Mindful of the breath, long or short, breathe in and breathe out. Training yourself to be sensitive to the breath and calming any bodily fabrication. Ever mindful, calming the body with each in-breath and each out-breath.

“Remaining mindful of the breath in the body – mindful of the in-breath and the out-breath – the arising and passing away of phenomena with regard to the body.

“In this way, one remains mindful internally and externally with regard to the body. With no self-reference, calmly noticing ‘there is a body,’ remaining independent of, and not clinging to anything in the world.

The first foundation of mindfulness is being mindful of the breath in the body. This is the initial establishment of the breath in Jhana meditation. Quieting the mind and developing concentration begins by putting aside thoughts as thoughts arise and becoming mindful of the breath.

  • Concentration is the foundation that supports refined mindfulness.
  • Being mindful of what is occurring in relation to The Eightfold Path is refined mindfulness.
  • Being mindful of the breath in the body is the foundation of developing understanding of an ego-personality and its relation to the distraction of stress.
  • Being mindful of the breath in the body interrupts outer-focused clinging conditioned thinking and begins to quiet the mind with directed inner mindfulness.
  • Being mindful of the in-breath and the out-breath brings mindfulness to the arising and passing away of all phenomena. Notice that there is no specialness or applied emphasis attached to the normal breathing cycle.

What is being described here is simple and direct mindfulness of the breath.

Supported by the concentration developed in Jhana meditation, the Buddha then teaches how to apply mindfulness outside of formal meditation:

  • When walking, be mindful of walking.
  • When standing, be mindful of standing.
  • When sitting, be mindful of sitting.
  • When lying down, be mindful of lying down.
  • In any function, be mindful that ‘there is a body.’
  • When going about, looking this way and that, be fully mindful.
  • When bending or reaching, be fully mindful.
  • When carrying a bowl or a cloak, be fully mindful.
  • When eating, drinking, or savoring food, be fully mindful.
  • When eliminating waste, be fully mindful.
  • When walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, talking or silent, be fully mindful.

“In this way, one remains mindful of the breath in the body – the in-breath and the out-breath.

“In this way, one remains mindful of the breath in the body – the arising and the passing away of the body – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world.

“Just as a person with good eyesight, emptying a bag full of mixed grains, would know ‘this is wheat, this is rice, these are beans, these are sesame seeds.’ In this same way one remains mindful from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, encased in skin, there is hair, nails, teeth, tendons, bones, marrow, organs, feces, phlegm, blood, urine, sweat, fat, tears, saliva, mucous, and fluid in the joints.

“In this way, one is mindful of the four elements – the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the wind element.

The four elements that comprise a human being are impermanent.

“Be mindful of the impermanence of the body to develop dispassion. If left unattended, a corpse decays quickly. It becomes bloated and infested. It is picked at by birds and dogs and other creatures. Eventually, nothing is left but dust.

“Be mindful that ‘this very body, too’ will die and pass away. This is the nature of the world – and unavoidable fate.

“In this way, one remains mindful of the breath in the body – the in-breath and the out-breath.

“In this way, one remains mindful of the arising and the passing away of the body – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world.

“This is how one remains mindful of the breath in the body.”

Without creating and specialness or over-analysis of normal bodily activities or functions, including the impermanence of the body itself, maintain mindfulness of life as life occurs.

What follows teaches a dispassionate mindfulness of feelings arising and passing away, and thoughts arising and passing away. Finally, one becomes mindful of the arising and passing away of the quality of mind.

The Second Foundation Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness Of Feelings

“And how does one remain mindful of feelings in and of themselves?

“When feeling pain, be mindful that there is pain. When feeling pleasure, be mindful that there is pleasure. When feeling neither pleasure nor pain (ambivalence) be mindful that there is neither pleasure nor pain.

“When feeling the pain of the body, be mindful that there is pain of the body. When feeling pain not of the body (a disturbance in the mind) be mindful that there is pain not of the body.

“When feeling pleasure in the body, be mindful that there is pleasure in the body. When feeling pleasure not in the body (an excitement in the mind) be mindful that there is pleasure not in the body.

“When feeling neither pleasure nor pain in the body, be mindful that there is neither pleasure nor pain in the body. When feeling neither pleasure nor pain not in the body, be mindful that there is neither pleasure nor pain not in the body.

“In this way, one remains mindful of feelings and the arising and the passing away of feelings – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world.

“In this way, one remains mindful internally and externally with regard to feelings. This is how one remains mindful of feelings in and of themselves.”

The second foundation of mindfulness is being mindful of feelings. Mindfulness of feelings becomes possible once the mind has quieted enough to hold in mind the breath in the body for a few moments.

Once a tranquil mind state has been achieved and mindfulness of the breath is maintained, notice any feelings, emotional or physical, that arise. If physical pain arises, let go of any thoughts in reference to the feeling. If an emotion such as frustration, anger, fear, resentment, joy, bliss, etcetera, simply recognize that a feeling has arisen. While maintaining mindfulness of the breath, let go of any thoughts in reference to the feeling.

You may want to begin to blame yourself or others to justify the feeling. Put these thoughts aside. You may be drawn to analyze the feeling in some other way. You may ask yourself, where did the feeling come from, what circumstances took place to bring a rise to the feeling? Put these thoughts aside. It is enough to recognize the feeling for what it is while maintaining mindfulness of your breath.

With mindfulness of your breath, let go of the feeling. Let go of the judgment attached to the feeling. Judging a feeling creates clinging and develops emotion. An emotion is a reaction to an event, judging an event in some way.

Reaction caused by judgment further intensifies feeling and further conditions conditioned mind.

Notice that there is no instruction by the Buddha to create self-referential attachment by “embracing” pain or to “breathe into the pain.” This will only further personalize what is intended to be a dispassionate experience of mindfulness of what is occurring. This will only continue clinging to self-referential views.

Notice that this is not instruction to perform an elaborate body scan. This is a subtle way of encouraging further distraction through self-identification with the body. The Buddha’s instruction develops a dispassionate awareness of ‘remaining mindful of feelings and the arising and the passing away of feelings – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world, including impermanent phenomena arising and passing away within the body.

Notice that it is often a reaction to an external event that was perceived through one or more of the six senses that initiated the feeling. It is at the point of contact with the external experience that a personal, self-referential, attachment is made.

Mindfulness of this process develops useful insight into impermanence.

Mindfulness of this process brings understanding of the subtle but pervasive and continual establishment of a self that is prone to confusion and suffering. This is the ongoing process of “I-making” also known as conceit.

Recognition of the initiation of I-making develops the ability to bring continued I-making to cessation.

Mindfulness is a dispassionate focused awareness on whatever is arising in the present moment without being distracted by judgments or discriminating thoughts. Being mindful of feelings as feelings arise allows the feeling to dissipate and allows a tranquil mind to deepen.

If a physical sensation arises, such as pain or discomfort in some area of your body, remain mindful of the sensation of breathing. Note the physical sensation and the immediate self-identification and return your mindfulness to your breath. Again, do not judge the physical sensation in any way. Do not wish that you are not having the experience of discomfort or agitation. Simply note the experience while maintaining mindfulness of your breath.

Being mindful of physical sensations without further judgment often will minimize the sensation. Returning mindfulness to the breath interrupts reaction to physical and emotional feelings.

This is the second foundation of mindfulness: Being mindful that, through contact with the five physical senses and consciousness, feelings arise. Being mindful of feelings, being ardent and aware of feelings as feelings arise, begins to de-condition conditioned mind by interrupting the discursive and self-perpetuating judgment and analysis of feelings.

Simply and dispassionately be mindful of feelings as feelings arise while maintaining mindfulness of the breath.

The Third Foundation Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness Of Thoughts

“And how does one remain mindful of thoughts in and of themselves?

“When thoughts are passionate, be mindful that thoughts are passionate. When thoughts are dispassionate, be mindful that thoughts are dispassionate.

“When there are thoughts of aversion, be mindful that there are thoughts of aversion. When thoughts are free of aversion, be mindful that thoughts are free of aversion.

“When thoughts are deluded, be mindful that thoughts are deluded. When thoughts are free of delusion, be mindful that thoughts are free of delusion.

How does one know delusion? Thoughts and actions that contradict the Eightfold Path are deluded.

“When the mind is constricted, be mindful that the mind is constricted. When thoughts are scattered, be mindful that thoughts are scattered. When the mind is spacious, be mindful that the mind is spacious.

“When thoughts are common, be mindful that thoughts are common. When thoughts are unsurpassed, be mindful that thoughts are unsurpassed.

“When the mind is not concentrated, be mindful that the mind is not concentrated. When the mind is concentrated, be mindful that the mind is concentrated.

“When the mind is not released, be mindful that the mind is not released. When the mind is released, be mindful that the mind is released.

“In this way, one remains mindful internally and externally with regard to thoughts.”

The third foundation of mindfulness is being mindful of the thinking process.With dispassionate mindfulness, notice how thoughts cling to impermanent qualities of mind. Notice if the present quality of mind is agitated or peaceful. Notice if the present quality mind is constricted or spacious. Dispassionately, notice thoughts attached to the quality of mind, often driven by feelings. This begins to develop insight into how thoughts have created confusion and suffering. With insight, you can begin to incline your mind towards release from clinging conditioned mind.

Remember that Jhana meditation is primarily used to develop unwavering concentration. This entire process of noting feelings and thoughts is done with dispassionate mindfulness. Feelings arise that take your attention. Note that a feeling has your attention and return your mindfulness to your breathing. When you find you are distracted by discriminating thoughts related to the changing quality of your mind, simply note the quality of your mind and return your mindfulness to your breath.

The sequence of this sutta is not meant to imply a fixed sequence. In meditation, one becomes mindful of the breath. As the mind calms, one may become mindful of feelings followed by thoughts driven by feelings, or awareness of thoughts may initiate a reaction – a feeling.

Mindfulness during meditation is holding in mind the breath while feelings and thoughts arise and pass away. Being mindful that thoughts are flowing develops your innate ability to control thoughts. Being mindful of thoughts is recognizing that thinking is taking place. Unless concentration is developed, thoughts will “feed” themselves from conditioned thought patterns. This is discursive thinking and is an aspect of clinging mind.

Through refined mindfulness, it becomes clear that thoughts are an ongoing evaluation or judgment of feelings and mental states. Much mental energy and distraction is spent on recollecting harsh or extreme judgments. This is a form of unskillful or unrefined mindfulness. This type of unrefined mindfulness can be debilitating. If left unchecked, this can lead to ever-intensifying emotions that can result in depression and anxiety, or other mental diseases.

Dispassionately remaining ardent and aware of thinking while maintaining mindfulness of the breath in the body will interrupt discursive thinking. This allows the mind to quiet and for concentration to develop. As mindfulness and concentration develop, the afflictions caused by discursive thinking subside and a mind of equanimity, a non-reactive mind, is maintained.

The Fourth Foundation Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness of the Present Quality of Mind

“And how does one remain mindful of the present quality of mind in and of itself? One remains focused on the mind, internally or externally, on the mind itself. One remains focused on the origination of the mind and the arising and the passing away of with regard to the mind itself. One knows ‘there is a mind.’ They remain independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of thoughts in and of themselves.”

The fourth foundation of mindfulness is being mindful of the present (but impermanent) quality of your mind. Is your present quality of mind inclined towards craving, clinging, and the continuation of stress? Is your present quality of mind inclined towards developing wisdom and release from craving and clinging?

Knowing that ‘there is a mind’ is mindfulness of the process resulting in the present quality of mind and that one has control over the present quality of mind.

During meditation, ‘remaining mindful of the present quality of mind’ is dispassionate awareness of the process of feelings and thoughts affecting the present quality of mind and noticing the impermanent quality of all mind states – the arising and passing away of qualities of mind.

This develops the singular quality of samadhi, non-distraction – remaining at peace with less than peaceful mind-states. This is the quality of a well-concentrated mind during meditation and otherwise.

All mind-states are impermanent. Be at peace with less than peaceful mind-states.

The conclusion of the Satipatthana Sutta expands the Four Foundations of mindfulness from formal Jhana meditation to apply these ‘Four Frames of Reference’ first to the Five Hindrances which often arise during meditation.

If one or all of the hindrances arise, simply remain mindful of the particular disturbance and return mindfulness to the breath. When the Hindrances arise outside of meditation, a well-concentrated mind will not be further distracted by the particular hindrance, but will dispassionately notice the arising and passing away of the hindrance.

Applying the Four Foundations of Mindfulness in reference to the Hindrances, or the Aggregates, or the Six-Sense Base, or the Seven Factors of Awakening, or The Four Noble Truths, should not be taken as direction on what to contemplate during meditation. Rather, it is important to remain mindful of the purpose of meditation is to deepen samadhi – non-distraction.

Notice that the last four themes – the Aggregates, the Six-Sense Base, the Seven Factors of Awakening, and The Four Noble Truths – are preceded by the word ‘furthermore’ to show that these are themes to be considered outside of formal meditation but supported by the concentration supporting the refined mindfulness developed during meditation.

During meditation, remain mindful when thoughts are directed towards these themes and return mindfulness to the breath.

In this way, these important themes become integrated into the overall process of Becoming Buddha without becoming a distraction during formal Jhana meditation. This avoids the possibility of getting caught in a feedback loop during meditation and directly contributes to the useful and skillful insight that will arise outside of meditation within the framework and guidance of the Eightfold Path.

Mindfulness Of The Five Hindrances

Notice the guarantors offered by the Buddha. When one completely abandons a hindrance, it will not arise again. Completely abandoning the hindrances is a reasonable goal and skillful reference to progress.

“Remain mindful of the quality of mind in reference to the five hindrances. When sensual desire is present, be mindful that sensual desire is present. When sensual desire is not present, be mindful that sensual desire is not present. Be mindful of abandoning sensual desire when it arises. Be mindful that when sensual desire has been (completely) abandoned, sensual desire will not arise in the future.

“When ill-will is present, be mindful that ill-will is present. When ill-will is not present, be mindful that ill-will is not present. Be mindful of abandoning ill-will when it arises. Be mindful that when ill-will has been (completely) abandoned, ill-will will not arise in the future.

“When laziness and drowsiness are present, be mindful that laziness and drowsiness are present. When laziness and drowsiness are not present, be mindful that laziness and drowsiness are not present. Be mindful of abandoning laziness and drowsiness when it arises. Be mindful that when laziness and drowsiness have been (completely) abandoned, laziness and drowsiness will not arise in the future.

“When restlessness and anxiety are present, be mindful that restlessness and anxiety are present. When restlessness and anxiety are not present, be mindful that restlessness and anxiety are not present. Be mindful of abandoning restlessness and anxiety when it arises. Be mindful that when restlessness and anxiety have been (completely) abandoned, restlessness and anxiety will not arise in the future.

“When doubt and uncertainty are present, be mindful that doubt and uncertainty are present. When doubt and uncertainty are not present, be mindful that doubt and uncertainty are not present. Be mindful of abandoning doubt and uncertainty when it arises. Be mindful that when doubt and uncertainty have been (completely) abandoned, doubt and uncertainty will not arise in the future.

“In this way, one remains mindful of the quality of mind and the arising and the passing away of the qualities of mind – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of the quality of mind in and of itself.”

This is a broader type of mindfulness that notices the quality of your mind that has developed from defining yourself through self-referential experiences driven by feelings and conditioned thinking. Notice when your mind seeks further sensual stimulation. Notice when your mind is distracted by ill-will. Notice when your mind is dull or restless or anxious or distracted by uncertainty. Return mindfulness to the breath. This is developing mindfulness of The Five Hindrances. Mindfulness of Hindrances directed by the Right Intention to abandon Hindrances brings release.

Mindfulness Of The Five Clinging-Aggregates

“Furthermore, one remains mindful of the quality of the mind in reference to The Five Clinging-Aggregates.

  • Remain mindful of form and the arising and passing away of form.
  • Remain mindful of feelings and the arising and passing away of feelings.
  • Remain mindful of perceptions and the arising and the passing away of perceptions.
  • Remain mindful of fabrications and the arising and passing away of fabrications.
  • Remain mindful of consciousness and the arising and passing away of consciousness.

“In this way, one remains mindful of The Five Clinging-Aggregates and the arising and the passing away of The Five Clinging-Aggregates – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of The Five Clinging-Aggregates in and of themselves.”

The Buddha is teaching here to be mindful of self-identification to the Five Clinging-Aggregates. He is teaching to be mindful of the impermanence of each of these aggregates – the arising and passing away of each aggregate.

This relates to Dependent Origination and supports insight into the process rooted in ignorance that confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointment is dependent on. Outside of formal meditation, a well-concentrated mind will become increasingly less self-identified to these impermanent aggregates and become increasingly awakened.

Mindfulness Of The Six-Sense Base

“Furthermore, one remains mindful of the quality of the mind in reference to the six-sense base.

“Remain mindful of the eye-form and the clinging that arises from the eye-form. Be mindful of the arising of clinging to the eye-form. Be mindful that when clinging to the eye-form is (completely) abandoned, clinging to the eye-form will not arise in the future.

“Remain mindful of the ear-form and the clinging that arises from the ear-form. Be mindful of the arising of clinging to the ear-form. Be mindful that when clinging to the ear-form is (completely) abandoned, clinging to the ear-form will not arise in the future.

“Remain mindful of the nose-form and the clinging that arises from the nose-form. Be mindful of the arising of clinging to the nose-form. Be mindful that when clinging to the nose-form is (completely) abandoned, clinging to the nose-form will not arise in the future.

“Remain mindful of the tongue-form and the clinging that arises from the tongue-form. Be mindful of the arising of clinging to the tongue-form. Be mindful that when clinging to the tongue-form is (completely) abandoned, clinging to the tongue-form will not arise in the future.

“Remain mindful of the body-form (touch sense) and the clinging that arises from the body-form. Be mindful of the arising of clinging to the body-form. Be mindful that when clinging to the body-form is (completely) abandoned, clinging to the body-form will not arise in the future.

“In this way, one remains mindful of six-sense base and the arising and the passing away of six-sense base – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of six-sense base in and of themselves.”

Mindfulness of the various sense-based-consciousness brings a profound understanding of creating self-referential views through sense contact and also directly relates to Dependent Origination.

Avoid being distracted by the six-sense base and ‘remain mindful of the six-sense base and the arising and the passing away of six-sense base – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world.’ This includes becoming analytical of what should be dispassionate mindfulness of the six-sense base.

Mindfulness Of The Seven Factors Of Awakening

“Furthermore, one remains mindful of the quality of the mind in reference to the Seven Factors of Awakening.

“Remain mindful that ‘mindfulness is a factor of awakening within me.’ If mindfulness as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that ‘mindfulness as a factor of awakening is not present within me’ and be mindful of how mindfulness as a factor of awakening will arise. (through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of mindfulness as a factor of awakening.

“Remain mindful that investigation of the Dhamma is a factor of awakening. If investigation of the Dhamma as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that investigation of the Dhamma is not present and be mindful of how investigation of the Dhamma as a factor of awakening will arise. (through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of investigation of the Dhamma as a factor of awakening.

“Remain mindful that persistence is a factor of awakening. If persistence as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that persistence is not present and be mindful of how persistence as a factor of awakening will arise. (Through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of persistence as a factor of awakening.

“Remain mindful that joyful engagement with the Dhamma is a factor of awakening. If joyful engagement with the Dhamma as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that joyful engagement with the Dhamma is not present and be mindful of how joyful engagement with the Dhamma as a factor of awakening will arise. (through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of joyful engagement with the Dhamma as a factor of awakening.

“Remain mindful that serenity is a factor of awakening. If serenity as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that serenity is not present and be mindful of how serenity as a factor of awakening will arise. (through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of serenity as a factor of awakening.

“Remain mindful that concentration is a factor of awakening. If concentration as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that concentration is not present and be mindful of how concentration as a factor of awakening will arise. (through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of concentration as a factor of awakening.

“Remain mindful that equanimity is a factor of awakening. If equanimity as a factor of awakening is not present, be mindful that equanimity is not present and be mindful of how equanimity as a factor of awakening will arise. (through appropriate mindfulness)

“Remain mindful of the culmination of the development of equanimity as a factor of awakening.

“In this way, one remains mindful of the Seven Factors of Awakening and the arising and the passing away of the Seven Factors of Awakening – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of the Seven Factors of Awakening in and of themselves.”

Remaining mindful of The Seven Factors of Awakening is mindful acknowledgment of developing the Eightfold Path correctly. Mindfulness of The Seven Factors of Awakening may occur during meditation but should not necessarily be cultivated during meditation. The concentration developed during meditation will provide the spaciousness and focus to notice these seven factors and serve as continued direction.

Mindfulness Of The Four Noble Truths

“Furthermore, one remains mindful of the quality of the mind in reference to The Four Noble Truths.

“Remain mindful of knowing that ‘This is stress, this is the origination of stress, this is the cessation of stress, and this is the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of stress.’

“In this way, one remains mindful of the quality of mind in and of itself internally and externally. One remains mindful of the phenomenon of the origination of qualities of mind and their arising and passing away. There is the knowledge of the maintenance of qualities of mind and their recollection – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of the Four Noble Truths in and of themselves.”

Here the Buddha is bringing together the Four Foundations of Mindfulness applied during meditation and remaining mindful of each factor of the Eightfold Path in Becoming Buddha. Emphasis is on the importance of remaining mindful of the impermanent nature of all phenomena clinging to qualities of mind – the arising and passing away of all self-referential thoughts and attached fabrications.

Notice how this last also relates directly to the Buddha’s description of his awakening in the Nagara Sutta: ‘I came to direct knowledge of fabrications, direct knowledge of the origination of fabrications, direct knowledge of the cessation of fabrications, direct knowledge of the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of fabrications.’

The Effectiveness of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

“Now, if anyone develops these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years one could expect either complete understanding here and now or, if there is any clinging and maintaining remaining, in this present life.

“Let alone seven years, if anyone (perfectly) develops these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for six, or five, or four, or three, or two, or one year, for six months, or three months, for one month, for two weeks, for seven days, one could expect either complete understanding here and now or, if there is any clinging and maintaining remaining, in this present life.

“Friends, this is the direct path for the purification of all beings, for the cessation of sorrow and regret, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for establishing the right method of practice, and for complete unbinding – in other words, these Four Foundations of Mindfulness.”

This is what was said by the Buddha. Hearing these words, those assembled were gratified and delighted.

Perhaps the most important reference in all the Buddha’s Dhamma is contained here. The opportunity to Become Buddha in this present life is often misunderstood in even the more traditional Buddhist schools and directly contradicted in the modern Buddhist lineages. Most modern Buddhist schools claim it will take “endless lifetimes” to develop awakening.

Here the Buddha is stating clearly that through wholehearted engagement with the Eightfold Path anyone can Become Buddha in this present life. Whether seven days or seven years, through a well-concentrated mind and wholehearted mindful engagement with the Eightfold Path, Becoming Buddha is assured.

End of Sutta

Session 9 Anatta Lakkhana Sutta The Not-Self Characteristic and the Five Clinging-Aggregates

Session 9 Anatta Lakkhana Sutta
The Not-Self Characteristic and the Five Clinging-Aggregates

Introduction

The Anatta-Lakkhana Sutta explains how a wrong view of self arises and how the interrelationship between this wrong view of self within an ever-changing environment result in ongoing suffering.

Anatta-Lakkhana Sutta
Samyutta Nikaya 22.59

On one occasion, the Buddha was staying at Benares, in the Deer Park at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five (now) Bhikkhus:

“Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to suffering, and one could have it be any form desired, and stress free. Since form is not-self, it leads to suffering and none can have it be any form desired and stress free.

“Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self, as perceptions are not-self. Fabrications are not-self. Consciousness is not-self. If these aggregates were self, they would not lead to suffering and one could direct these aggregates as one wished. Since these are not-self, they can only lead to suffering and no one can have these (aggregates) be as they wish.

“Bhikkhus, how do you perceive this: is form permanent or impermanent?” The five replied,” Impermanent, venerable Sir.”

“Now is what is impermanent, painful, or pleasant?”

“Painful, venerable Sir.”

“Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, is this fit to be regarded as: ‘This is mine, this is I, this is my self?’

“No, venerable sir.”

“Is feeling permanent or impermanent? Is perception permanent or impermanent? Are fabrications permanent or impermanent? Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?”

“All are impermanent, venerable sir.”

“Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, is this fit to be regarded as: ‘This is mine, this is I, this is myself’”?

“No, venerable sir.”

“So, bhikkhus, any kind of form whatever,

whether past, future or presently arisen,

whether gross or subtle,

whether in oneself or external,

whether inferior or superior,

whether far or near,

must, with right understanding how it actually is, be regarded as: ‘This is not mine, this is not I, this is not myself.’

“And so it follows that any kind of feeling whatever,

any kind of perception, any kind of determination,

any kind of consciousness whatever,

whether past, future or presently arisen,

whether gross or subtle,

whether in oneself or external,

whether inferior or superior,

whether far or near,

must, with right understanding how it actually is, be regarded as: ‘This is not mine; this is not I, this is not myself.’

“Bhikkhus, when a noble follower who has heard the truth sees in this way,

  • They find estrangement in form,
  • They find estrangement in feeling,
  • They find estrangement in perception,
  • They find estrangement in determinations,
  • They find estrangement in consciousness.

“When they find estrangement, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, they are liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that they are liberated. They understand: ‘Birth is exhausted, the integrated life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.”

Now, during this discourse, the hearts and minds of the bhikkhus were liberated from craving, aversion, and deluded thinking.

In most translations, the phrase ‘integrated life’ is referred to as ‘holy life.’ The Buddha did not intend to start a new religion. He taught an Eightfold Path to be integrated in one’s life in order to Become Buddha.

End of Sutta

Session 10 Anapanasati Sutta An Example of Properly Integrated Dhamma Practice

Session 10 Anapanasati Sutta
An Example of Properly Integrated Dhamma Practice

Introduction

The Anapanasati Sutta is a discourse from the Buddha on the proper use of mindfulness during Jhana meditation. The underlying and supportive theme for this sutta is a group of senior monks well-established in the “Heartwood Of The Dhamma” – the Eightfold Path – and their ability to teach a useful and effective Dhamma.

The Anapanasati Sutta is the Buddha’s instruction for integrating refined mindfulness of the foundational Dhamma teachings supported by the concentration developed during Jhana meditation. The purpose of meditation is to deepen concentration to provide the foundation necessary to develop skillful insight of the Three Marks Of Existence and end individual confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing stress and suffering – Dukkha. The Four Noble Truths are the Buddha’s teachings and the referential context for developing understanding and cessation of Dukkha and the two common conditions that give rise to Dukkha – Anicca, impermanence and Anatta, the Not-Self Characteristic. Anicca, Anatta, and Dukkha are the Three Marks Of Existence.

The Three Marks Of Existence describe the common human experience that results from a mind rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

Samadhi, a well-concentrated, non-distracted mind, and Jhanas, the four stages of meditative absorption, are described in the Buddha’s teachings on Jhana.

In order to understand the purpose and intent of any individual sutta, it is of primary importance to understand and to hold in mind the purpose and overall context of the Buddha’s Dhamma. After all, skillful mindfulness means to hold in mind or to recollect.

Often during the Buddha’s time, and continuing today, “Buddhist” teachers promoting dharmas lacking this context and a personal understanding of the Buddha’s direct teachings freely dismiss much of the Buddha’s teachings essential to context and developing understanding. Lacking understanding, one cannot teach understanding. Ignoring the Buddha’s teachings to promote individual or culturally influenced views is another contributing cause of stress and disappointment – Dukkha: Continuing ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha consistently taught that the purpose of his teaching is to understand the arising and passing away of Dukkha and develop emptiness of ignorance of Four Noble Truths. He consistently taught that Dukkha – stress and suffering – arises from self-identifying with craving after, and clinging to, impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas and is rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha consistently taught that the recognition and abandonment of craving and clinging could be mindfully developed. He taught it is the Eightfold Path that develops the recognition and abandonment, the cessation, of craving after, and clinging to, all views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths: “I teach the truth of stress (Dukkha) and the truth of the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of stress. Nothing More.”

The Anapanasati Sutta is taught to emphasize mindfulness of the breath as a stabilizing focus in order to deepen concentration. It is a well-concentrated mind that is necessary to recognize and abandon craving after, and clinging to, wrong views of “self.”

The Anapanasati Sutta is another sutta that is misunderstood and misapplied due to ignoring the context of this sutta and the overall context of the Buddha’s Dhamma. Ignorance is continued by dissecting and over-emphasizing certain sections of this sutta that are only meant to describe discrete experiences that may arise during Jhana meditation.

Over-emphasizing through (self-obsessed and distracting) gross analysis of the common and impermanent experiences that arise during meditation is a subtle form of conceit. Over-emphasizing common impermanent phenomena personalize impermanent and impersonal phenomena. In this sense, personalization is clinging and only serves to maintain distraction.

Conceit is continued I-making rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Continued ignorance of Four Noble Truths only continues the ongoing distraction of Dukkha and brings no insight into the Three Marks Of Existence or Four Noble Truths.

It is in this (self-obsessed and distracting) gross analysis of the ordinary impermanent experiences that arise during meditation that furthers ignorance by creating further distraction. When seen in the overall context of the Buddha’s dhamma, and the specific context of this sutta, it is clear the Buddha is describing these experiences solely to point out to be mindful of the impermanence of the arising phenomena, remain free of distraction, and return mindfulness to the breath. Seeking to generate the experiences described here, or exaggerating their importance through gross analysis, is a subtle but very common form of continuing ignorance through continued “I-Making.”

Notice in this sutta that the Buddha first emphasizes the establishment in these monks of the “Heartwood” of the Dhamma. Heartwood refers to the Four Noble Truths in general and the Eightfold Path specifically. He then presents an elaborate and thorough description of the result in those monks from having established the heartwood. It is only then that he describes the process of remaining free of distraction by always abandoning the distraction of whatever is arising, and returning mindfulness to the breath.

In the context of gaining insight into the Three Marks Of Existence, it is the experiences that arise during meditation that are to be mindful of but not distracted by what is arising and passing away. This application of mindfulness is not for distraction by over-analysis. This proper use of mindfulness is to bring insight into the impermanent nature of all phenomena.

Using mindfulness in this manner is to deepen concentration by avoiding ignorance of what is arising without over-emphasizing what is arising. The modern “mindfulness” movement misunderstands and misapplies the Buddha’s application of mindfulness that often encourages personalizing and clinging to ordinary impermanent phenomena.

It is the attempt to identify with impermanent phenomena that confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointing and unsatisfactory experiences arise. This includes unsatisfactory and confusing “meditation” and “mindfulness” practices.

Anatta is the word the Buddha used to describe the views established to describe a self that is rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. These views are wrong views. Anatta describes these views as “Not-Self.” As these are views rooted in ignorance, understanding the Buddha’s meaning of Anatta then develops the (Right) Intention to recognize and abandon all wrong views.

A “self” – Anatta – rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths is driven by a mind continually distracted by impermanent phenomena. This “self” continues to establish itself by clinging to every thought, word, and idea that arise. This is a self-referential ego-personality that continually personalizes impersonal phenomena – impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas.

Exaggerated analysis – wrong or unskillful mindfulness – of ordinary mental, verbal, and physical fabrications avoids, through continued ignorance, the profound insight gained by abandoning clinging to phenomena and returning mindfulness to the breath-in-the-body.

This singular intentional act of mindfulness brings useful and effective insight into the relationship between anatta – ignorant views of self, and anicca – the impermanence of all phenomena. The proper act of mindfulness directly interrupts the continuing of ignorance by attempting to further establish wrong views of self in every thought, word, and idea that occurs.

It is through recognizing and abandoning distracting but otherwise impermanent and ordinary occurrences during Jhana meditation that the proper application of breath-mindfulness is established. This is how the proper establishment of breath-mindfulness interrupts the ongoing distraction of self-referential conditioned thinking and how profound concentration develops.

This is the proper use of Jhana as taught by an awakened human being.

Notice in this sutta the initial emphasis is on the senior monks who have actually developed the Eightfold Path and are teaching others. The qualities of mind described here are often confused as instruction rather than descriptions of qualities of mind resulting from proper mindfulness of the Heartwood of the Dhamma practice and qualifying these monks to teach the Dhamma.

The Buddha’s emphasis and enthusiasm, and the theme of this sutta is to emphasize the importance of developing the “heartwood,” not on continuing distraction by exaggerating and personalizing ordinary impermanent phenomena or teaching others to exaggerate and personalize, ordinary impermanent phenomena.

An overall understanding of the Heartwood of the Dhamma and being mindful of the situational context of the Anapanasati Sutta is paramount to using this, or any other sutta, skillfully. Lacking this understanding one can only further ignorance. Developing understanding in this manner develops awakened Right View – a penetrating and profound understanding of Anicca, Anatta, and Dukkha, and a mind no longer grasping at objects, events, views, and ideas – a mind resting in equanimity.

In keeping with the overarching context of the Dhamma, I have made contextual edits to the Anapanasati Sutta to minimize repetition and to modernize phraseology.

A note about gender reference: For most of my sutta restorations I have made gender references neutral, when appropriate, and would not change the intent of the teachings. Here, I left the references as they are in the various translations due to the context. The lack of Bhikkunis, (nuns) is not indicative of any gender bias on the Buddha’s part. Rather it places this sutta early in the Buddha’s 45 year teaching career prior to women joining the Sangha or developing it to the wisdom and subtle understanding described here.

Within the sutta, my commentary is italicized.

Anapanasati Sutta
Majjhima Nikaya 118

I have heard that on one occasion, the Buddha was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery. This was during the Uposotha day of the full moon. Many of the elder disciples were with him: Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccayana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and others.

During this time, the elder monks were teaching the Dhamma. They were each teaching novice monks, with groups ranging in size from ten to as large as forty. The new monks were learning quickly and correctly.

The Buddha arrived and was seated in the open air, surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community, he addressed them:

“Monks, I am pleased with what is taking place here and the dedication to develop the Dhamma and the realization of Nibbana. As such, I will remain here at Savatthi for another month through the fourth month of the rains.”

The monks in the surrounding countryside heard this and left for Savatthi to join the Buddha and the Sangha.

A short time later, the Buddha addressed the large but quiet community:

“Monks, this community of monks is free from idle chatter and is established on pure heartwood.

“Established on pure heartwood” refers to developing the refined mindfulness of the Eightfold Path and gaining release from wrong views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. This is the overarching theme and context of this sutta.

“This community is worthy of gifts and worthy of hospitality. This community is worthy of offerings and worthy of respect. This community will bring much good for the world.

“Due to their establishment in the heartwood (of the Dhamma), when a small gift is given to this community, it becomes great and a great gift even greater.

“This community of monks is rare to see in the world. This community of monks is such that it would be worth traveling for leagues, taking along provisions, in order to learn from.

As in the Buddha’s time, a Sangha well-informed and well-focused on Heartwood is “rare to see in the world.”

“In this community of monks, there are monks who are arahants. Arahants are awakened human beings who have fully developed the Eightfold Path and whose mental effluents are ended. These arahants have completed the task and have laid down the burden (of continued I-making, maintaining Anatta). They have attained the true goal and abandoned the fetter of becoming (further ignorant). They are released through Right Understanding. Such is this community of monks.

“In this community of monks, there are monks who, abandoning the five lower fetters, are totally unbound (from clinging to ignorant views), their minds (continually) resting in equanimity. Such are the monks in this community of monks.

Five Lower Fetters

  1. Self-Referential Views (Anatta, I-Making)
  2. Grasping at rituals and practices (that only continued self-referential views)
  3. Uncertainty (lack of conviction)
  4. Craving for sensory stimulation
  5. Ill-will towards oneself and others

“In this community of monks, there are monks who, abandoning the first three fetters, and with the diminishing of passion, aversion, and deluded thinking, have established the Heartwood and will make an ending to stress. They are in the stream (of the Dhamma), resolute, developing the cessation of suffering, (their minds) inclined towards awakening. Such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks, there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for awakening, the noble eightfold path. Such are the monks in this community of monks.

Four Frames Of Reference
Four Foundations Of Mindfulness

  1. Mindful of the breath-in-the-body.
  2. Mindful of feelings arising and passing away.
  3. Mindful of thoughts arising and passing away.
  4. Mindful of the present but impermanent quality of mind.

Here the Buddha is placing the Anapanasati Sutta in the Context of the more extensive Satipatthana Sutta. The Dhamma can only be understood and practically applied within the overall context of Dependent Origination, Four Noble Truths, and Four Foundations Of Mindfulness.

Four Right Efforts

  1. Avoiding inappropriate thoughts, words, and deeds that have yet arisen.
  2. Abandoning inappropriate thoughts, words, and deeds that have arisen.
  3. Developing appropriate thoughts, words and deeds that have yet arisen.
  4. Maintaining appropriate thoughts, words, and deeds for continual development of non-confusion and skillful qualities that have arisen.

Four Bases Of Power

  1. Calm rooted in concentration.
  2. Persistence rooted in concentration.
  3. Right Intention rooted in concentration.
  4. Wisdom rooted in concentration.

Five Faculties

  1. Conviction (Relates to Right Effort).
  2. Enthusiastic Engagement (Relates to Right View and Right Intention).
  3. Right Mindfulness.
  4. Concentration.
  5. Wisdom.

Five Strengths

  1. Conviction (in the Buddha and his Dhamma).
  2. Conscience (regret at misconduct in thought, word, and deed).
  3. Concern (for the suffering that arises from misconduct).
  4. Persistence (for integrating the Eightfold Path as the framework for mindfulness and for one’s life).
  5. Wisdom/Discernment (Penetrative understanding for the arising and passing away of suffering and all phenomena. Discernment is the ability to see things appropriately within the appropriate context. Discernment is a quality of Right View).

Seven Factors Of Awakening

  1. Refined Mindfulness.
  2. Penetrating investigation of the dhamma.
  3. Enthusiasm.
  4. Rapture (joyful engagement with the Dhamma).
  5. Calm.
  6. Concentration.
  7. Equanimity.

Noble Eightfold Path

  1. Right View, Right Understanding.
  2. Right Intention, Right Resolve.
  3. Right Speech.
  4. Right Action.
  5. Right Livelihood.
  6. Right Effort.
  7. Right Mindfulness (Ongoing mindfulness of the Eightfold Path as taught in the Satipatthana Sutta requires a well-concentrated quality of mind),
  8. Right Meditation (Jhana Meditation develops profound concentration).

The Eightfold Path is the path the Buddha taught to overcome ignorance of Four Noble Truths. Jhana is the only meditation method he taught.

The Buddha is consistently and brilliantly specific about his Dhamma. Notice That there is no instruction here, or anywhere in the suttas, to over-emphasize or over-analyze any individual impermanent phenomena. For example:

“In this community of monks, there are monks who remain devoted to the development of goodwill and compassion, to concern and equanimity. They understand the relentless decay of the body and the impermanence (arising and passing away) of all conditioned things. Such are the monks in this community of monks.

Notice how the statement “understanding the arising and passing away” leads to the next instruction. In the context of this entire sutta and specifically in this preceding statement it is clear the Buddha is not teaching to generate distraction by exaggerating one’s mindfulness on any particular breath or to further distraction by manufacturing the duration of breaths or a breath’s eventual “location” in the body.

The Buddha is teaching not to be distracted by whatever arises during meditation and to remain “devoted to mindfulness of in-and-out breathing.” Mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in this context is being mindful of the in-breath – the arising – and the out-breath – the passing away of the breath. In this way, breath-mindfulness – anapanasati – avoids distraction and directly develops concentration and insight into the arising and passing away of the breath and then to all phenomena. This last is lost by the distraction of exaggerated or manufactured focus or “mindfulness” of ordinary impermanent phenomena.

“In this community of monks, there are monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of the in- breath and the out-breath. (Devoted to Jhana meditation)

“Mindfulness of the in- breath and the out-breath, when appropriately developed, is of great benefit. Mindfulness of the in- breath and the out-breath, when appropriately developed, (supports the concentration necessary that) brings the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness to their culmination.

Notice the Buddha’s emphasis here on “appropriately developing mindfulness” of the in-breath and out-breath.

The Buddha concludes this section of the Satipatthana Sutta with the following words that emphasize the proper context and required framework for meditation and mindfulness as he taught meditation and mindfulness:

“Friends, this is the direct path for the purification of all beings, for the cessation of sorrow and regret, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for establishing the right method of practice, and for complete unbinding – in other words, these Four Foundations of Mindfulness.”

“The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, when appropriately developed, bring the Seven Factors For Awakening to their culmination. The Seven Factors For Awakening, when appropriately developed, brings clear knowing (Right Understanding, Right View) and release (from clinging to wrong/ignorant views) to their culmination.

Mindfulness Of In-And-Out Breathing
Jhana Meditation

“Now, how is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing appropriately developed to be of great benefit?

“A monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore.

In the context of the Buddha’s Dhamma, mindfulness means to hold in mind or to recollect specific and appropriate aspects of the Dhamma. “Setting mindfulness to the fore” means to set mindfulness on what follows – the breath, to hold in mind the breath-in-the-body, the First Foundation Of Mindfulness.

As the sole purpose of Jhana meditation is to develop profound concentration, the reference to “training” is to train the mind towards increasing concentration.

Notice the following sequence of instructions. It is from ignoring the overall context of this sutta that significant misunderstandings and misapplications of these instructions occur. In this context, the Buddha describes a Jhana meditation session beginning with being mindful of the breath-in-the-body. This First Foundation of Mindfulness is the foundation – mindfulness of the breath – that the following instructions are supported. If the meditator finds they are taking long breaths, they are to be dispassionately mindful of the (long) breath. If the mediator notices they are exhaling a “long” breath, they are to simply notice that the exhalation is “long” and remain sensitive to the breath in relation to the experience in-the-body.

“Always mindful, (of the breath) he breathes in. Always mindful (of the breath) he breathes out.

“(When) Breathing in long, he notices, ‘I am breathing in long.’

“(When) Breathing out long, he notices, ‘I am breathing out long.’

“Or, (when) breathing in short, he notices, ‘I am breathing in short.

“Or, (when) breathing out short, he notices, ‘I am breathing out short.’

While dispassionately and mindfully noticing the breath:

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’

“Sensitive to the entire body” often is taken as instruction to change one’s focus from the breath to now beginning to incorporate bodily sensations as ever-changing points of focus. This can only further a distracted mind and contradicts the next instruction to “calm bodily fabrications” and contradicts the context of this sutta – breath-awareness. This would also contradict the instructions found in the Satipatthana Sutta to use meditation to deepen concentration to support refined mindfulness. The previous instruction to “set mindfulness to the fore” – on the breath-in-the-body – reinforces the singular importance of remaining mindful of the breath no matter what occurs during meditation.

‘Training one’s self, sensitive to the entire body” in this context is instruction to have a gentle awareness – sensitivity – for what is arising within one’s body without reaction and distraction. This grounds mindfulness to what is arising and passing away within one’s frame of reference and develops mindfulness as a non-distracted (samadhi) ongoing point of reference on the breath-in-the-body.

A distracted mind is detached from the body as a point of reference to what is occurring. When personalizing internal phenomena, the objectification then creates a separate “object” distracting from the intended purpose of Jhana meditation – deepening concentration. Jhana meditation supports the proper application of mindfulness that unifies the mind in the body, establishing moment-by-moment mindfulness – mindfulness of life as life occurs.

The following instruction to “calm bodily fabrications” reinforces this point – to dispassionately remain mindful of whatever fabricated sensations arise, i.e., fabricated by craving and clinging rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths, and return mindfulness “to the fore” – to the breath.

Train the mind to remain focused on the breath with a gentle and detached awareness of whatever is arising.

While dispassionately engaged in breath-mindfulness:

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in, calming bodily fabrication.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out, calming bodily fabrication.’

It is by following the instructions for breath-mindfulness during Jhana meditation that mindfulness of the breath allows for any fabrications – body, verbal, or mental – that arise, to calm and not be further distraction. In doing so concentration increases.

The following continues in this manner. There is no significance to the actual thought, feeling, or assumptive fabrication arising individually. As Jhana meditation is practice for deepening concentration, the Buddha is emphasizing the singular importance to return mindfulness to the sensation of breathing in the body no matter what impermanent quality is arising.

This is further reinforced near the conclusion of this section through the instruction “He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.” Mindfulness of inconstancy, impermanence, then gives rise to dispassion, then to cessation and finally to the mindful awareness that relinquishment of clinging to all self-referential views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths has been developed. This is another reference to the Heartwood Of The Dhamma.

The Buddha closes this section with instruction to remain mindful of the breath in the body while gently holding in mind the qualities developed through meditation when practiced within the proper framework of dispassion arising as a quality of mind. Dispassion is a quality of non-self-reference that supports the cessation of craving for the establishment of a self rooted in wrong views and clinging to those views. Through dispassion, clinging comes to cessation. Finally, relinquishing or abandoning all views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths occurs.

In this manner, it can be clearly seen that the Anapanasati Sutta is consistent with the Satipatthana Sutta and consistent with becoming empty of ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.’

“He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in, calming mental fabrication.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out, calming mental fabrication.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in, calming the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out, calming the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in steadying the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out steadying the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in releasing the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out releasing the mind.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in focusing on dispassion.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in focusing on cessation.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out focusing on cessation.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.’

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.’

“This is how mindfulness of in-and-out breathing is developed and pursued to be of great benefit.

The Four Frames Of Reference
The Four Foundations Of Mindfulness

Here the Buddha is explaining further refining breath-mindfulness during Jhana meditation. Whenever – on whatever occasion – the meditator remains “mindful of the breath-in-the-body, ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world,” the application of mindfulness of in-and-out breathing is appropriately developed to bring the Four Frames of Reference to their culmination.

“Now, how is mindfulness of the in-breath and the out-breath appropriately developed to bring the Four Frames Of Reference, the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness, to their culmination?

“On whatever occasion, a monk breathing in long is mindful of breathing in long, or breathing out long is mindful of breathing out long, or breathing, in short, is mindful of breathing in short or breathing out short is mindful of breathing out short they (continue to) train their mind:

“I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to the body (bringing mindfulness “to the fore” – to what is occurring and uniting the mind within the frame of reference of the breath-in-the-body).

“He trains himself: ‘I will breathe in and breathe out, calming bodily fabrication.’ On this occasion (when this occurs) the monk remains focused on the breath-in-the-body in and of itself (free of distraction) – ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

Most translations use the phrase “in and of itself” which is somewhat ambiguous and easily taken out of the intended context. I will use the phrase “free of distraction” for contextual authenticity. “Free of distraction” directly relates to “ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world” – free of the distraction of the external focus of “craving and distress with reference to the world” which would result from the personalization and over-emphasis of the arising and passing away of ordinary phenomena.

“With reference to the world” refers to a mind clinging to the ‘world’ through wrong views – views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths – as a means of continual self-establishment or I-making. This self-referential view is from a mind disconnected from the body as a frame of reference for what is occurring. Uniting the mind and body through the refined mindfulness taught here ends the defilements of craving, aversion, and ongoing deluded thinking and brings the Four Frames Of Reference – the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness – to culmination.

“I tell you, monks, the in-and-out breath is unsurpassed as a body among bodies. On the occasion that one remains focused on the body free of distraction – ardent, alert, and mindful, they are putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

It is the essence of Dhamma Practice to abandon self-referential views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths by integrating the Heartwood of the Dhamma – the Eightfold Path – and to ‘put aside craving and distress with reference to the world.’

‘Unsurpassed as a body among bodies’ refers to a mind unified with the body and free of the distraction of clinging to external phenomena, i.e.: ‘bodies.’ This is the essence of self-referential views and establishing a self rooted in wrong or ignorant views. A self rooted in ignorance constantly seeks to ‘reference’ itself in every thought word and idea that occurs – other ‘bodies’ and continues to distract a mind separated from the body.

It can clearly be seen here that remaining mindful of the Four Frames Of Reference – the breath-in-the-body, feelings, and thoughts arising and passing away, and a stream of unconditioned thinking free of wrong views establishes a well-concentrated mind supporting the refined mindfulness of Four Noble Truths.

The following describes the results of remaining mindful of the breath while the temporary states described arise and pass away:

“On any occasion, a monk trains himself:

“I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to rapture.

“I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to pleasure,

“I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication,

“I will breathe in and breathe out, calming mental fabrication.

“On this occasion, the monk remains focused on feelings free of distraction – ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world

“I tell you, monks, that mindfulness of in-breaths and out-breaths can be seen as a (singular) feeling among feelings which is why the monk on this occasion remains focused on feelings free of distraction – ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

A “feeling among feelings” is a reference to a calm and well-concentrated mind not distracted by analyzing the constant flow of ever-changing, impermanent mind-states or “feelings” for example the common jargon referring to qualities of mind such as “I’m feeling angry, or happy, or frustrated, etc.”.

Notice the progression of these last two statements. By following these simple and direct instructions, remaining mindful of the in-breath and out-breath no matter what occurs in the mind or body, one develops the concentration and mindfulness in the manner intended free of the distractive need that the experience of Jhana meditation be any different from increasing concentration through mindfulness of the breath.

“Whenever a monk trains himself: ‘I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to the mind, they remain focused on the mind free of distraction – ardent, aware and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

Nearing the conclusion of this sutta, the Buddha is now bringing his description of the overall experience of whatever may occur during breath-mindfulness meditation back to the primary importance of mindfulness of the in-breath and the out-breath.

Remaining mindful of the arising and passing away of the breath with “gentle awareness of the mind” avoids becoming distracted by feelings and thoughts arising and passing away. Just as one whose mind is united with their body would not be distracted by ordinary functions of the body such as the flow of blood or the processing of nutrients, during Jhana meditation – breath-mindfulness meditation – one remains free of the distraction of the ordinary function of the mind – to process thoughts. This also shows that the Buddha does not teach to manipulate mindfulness seeking a trance-like state of mind through blocking sensitivity – blocking gentle awareness – of thoughts. This is another misapplication of meditation, common during the Buddha’s time, that continues today. Seeking a mental state of “nothingness” will produce nothing but ongoing distraction towards a fabricated quality of mind.

When breath-mindfulness is seen in the proper context, it is clear the purpose of meditation is simply to be free of the distraction of clinging or intentionally attaching one thought immediately to the next thought. (Wrong Intention)

This quality of a mind clinging one thought immediately to the next thought is a conditioned mind clinging to views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths and clinging one self-referential thought with the next self-referential thought. This is the primary strategy employed by a mind rooted in ignorance that continues distraction in order to continue to ignore its own ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“Anatta”, a self-referential ego-self must establish itself – cling itself – to every thought, word, and idea that occurs. In the Paticca-Samuppada-Vibhanga Sutta, the primary sutta on Dependent Origination, the ninth link in the 12-link chain of dependencies states that following craving it is “clinging and maintaining” that one becomes further ignorant of Four Noble Truths.

It is the purpose and function of Jhana meditation to increase concentration and not be distracted by the ordinary functions of the mind.

“Whenever a monk trains himself:

‘I will breathe in and breathe out satisfying the mind,

‘I will breathe in and breathe out, steadying the mind,

‘I will breathe in and breathe out, releasing the mind,

“They remain focused on the mind, free of distraction – ardent, aware and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

“When this occurs, the monk remains mindful of the in-breath and the out-breath free of distraction – ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

“I do not say that there is the development of mindfulness of breathing for one who is forgetful (of these instructions) or who is not fully aware (of these instructions.)

“Whenever a monk trains himself:

‘I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to impermanence,’

‘I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to dispassion,’

‘I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to cessation,’

‘I will breathe in and breathe out sensitive to relinquishment’

“On this occasion, the monk remains sensitive to all mental qualities free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world.

“Those who see with wisdom and understanding (Right View) the relinquishment, the abandoning, of craving and distress are those who have established (Right) mindfulness with equanimity.

“When this occurs, this person remains mindful of all mental qualities free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world

“This is how mindfulness of the in-breath and the out-breath is appropriately developed to bring the Four Frames of Reference, the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness, to their culmination.”

When taken in the overall context of the Buddha’s Dhamma and the specific context of “bringing the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness to their culmination” it can then clearly be seen that the instructions for Right Mindfulness and Right Meditation are to increase concentration through Jhana meditation free of distraction of whatever may arise during meditation to support the refined mindfulness necessary to recognize and abandon wrong views that would otherwise distract from recognizing one’s own ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

The Seven Factors of Awakening

“And how are the Four Foundations of Mindfulness appropriately developed to bring the Seven Factors Of Awakening to their culmination?

“Whenever a monk remains focused on the body, free of distraction, ardent, alert, and mindful while putting aside craving and distress with reference to the world, their mindfulness is steady and continuous.

Steady and continuous mindfulness is a quality of mind that is supported by the concentration developed through Jhana meditation. Nearing the conclusion of this teaching, the Buddha is again emphasizing mindfulness of in-breath and out-breath to develop concentration in order to support the refined mindfulness necessary to direct the mind, to hold in mind, the factors of awakening, the Heartwood.

“When mindfulness is steady and continuous, then mindfulness as a factor for awakening becomes directed. When mindfulness is steady and continuous, it forms the foundation for the culmination of its development.

“Remaining mindful in this way, they examine (this quality of) mindfulness. With discernment (Right View), they develop understanding (of this quality) of mindfulness.

“When one remains mindful in this way, examining and developing understanding of this quality of mindfulness with discernment, then mindfulness of certain qualities as a factor for awakening arises.

“This is how (Right) mindfulness is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

“When one examines and comes to a comprehension of mindfulness as a factor of awakening, then with wise discernment, investigation of the Dhamma arises. When investigation of the Dhamma arises in one who examines and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then investigation of the Dhamma arising as a factor for awakening becomes aroused.

“This is how investigation of the Dhamma is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

“When one who examines and comes to a comprehension of investigation of the Dhamma arising as a factor for awakening, with discernment, persevering effort arises. When persevering effort arises in one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persevering effort arising as a factor for awakening becomes aroused.

“This is how persevering effort is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

“When one whose persevering effort arises, joyful engagement with the Dhamma arises. When joyful engagement with the Dhamma arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then joyful engagement with the Dhamma as a factor for awakening becomes aroused.

“This is how joyful engagement with the Dhamma is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

“When one is joyfully engaged with the Dhamma, the body grows calm, and the mind grows calm. When the body and mind of a monk is joyfully engaged with the Dhamma, then tranquility as a factor for awakening arises.

“This is how tranquility is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

“When one who is tranquil, the mind and body calm, the mind develops concentration. When the mind of one who is tranquil and well-concentrated, then concentration as a factor for awakening arises.

“This is how concentration is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

Here the Buddha is bringing the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness and the purpose of Jhana meditation to its ultimate culmination – to establish concentration as the primary purpose of meditation. It is a well-concentrated mind that supports the refined mindfulness necessary to support the integration of the Eightfold Path as the framework for awakening.

Concentration, not personalizing through over-emphasis and gross analysis of impermanent phenomena, is the purpose of Jhana meditation. It can clearly be seen here that the different experiences – ever-changing qualities of mind – that arise during meditation are not in and of themselves subjects for contemplation, examination, or analysis. It is the present quality of mind established in profound concentration that is the foundation for developing the Heartwood Of The Dhamma.

“When one whose concentration is established, equanimity arises. When equanimity arises, then equanimity as a factor for awakening arises.

“This is how equanimity is established as a factor, (a quality) of awakening.

A mind well-concentrated and established in equanimity remains undisturbed and un-distracted by the flow of thoughts and feelings. Resting in equanimity, the purpose and goal of Jhana meditation is fully developed. This last statement relates to the fourth level of meditative absorption (the fourth Jhana) and the concluding section of the Satipatthana Sutta, where the Buddha describes the culmination of the development of Jhana meditation resting on Four Foundations Of Mindfulness:

“Furthermore, one remains mindful of the quality of the mind in reference to The Four Noble Truths.

“Remain mindful of knowing that:

  • This is stress (Understanding Dukkha – First Noble Truth)
  • This is the origination of stress (Craving originates and Clinging maintains Dukkha – Second Noble Truth)
  • This is the cessation of stress (Experiencing the equanimity that results from the cessation of craving and clinging arising from ignorance – Third Noble Truth)
  • This is the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of stress – (Developing and fully Integrating the Eightfold Path – Fourth Noble Truth)’

“In this way, one remains mindful of the quality of mind, free of distraction internally and externally. One remains mindful of the phenomenon of the origination of qualities of mind and their arising and passing away. There is the knowledge of the maintenance of qualities of mind and their recollection – independent of and not clinging to anything in the world. This is how one remains mindful of the Seven Factors of Awakening in and of themselves.

Here the Buddha is bringing together the Four Foundations of Mindfulness developed during meditation and remaining mindful of each factor of the Eightfold Path. Emphasis is on the importance of remaining mindful of the impermanent nature of all phenomena clinging to qualities of mind – the arising and passing away of all self-referential thoughts and attached mental fabrications.

When seen in this proper context, mindfulness of the arising and passing away of all internal and external phenomena develops useful and appropriate insight into the impermanence of all phenomena – Anicca – the misunderstanding of what constitutes a “self,” the Not-Self Characteristic – Anatta – and the resulting confusion, deluded thinking, and ongoing disappointing experiences – Dukkha.

This is how insight – the only insight deemed significantly important by the Buddha – is appropriately developed.

Notice how this last also relates directly to the Buddha’s description of his awakening in the Nagara Sutta:

“I came to direct knowledge of fabrications, direct knowledge of the origination of fabrications, direct knowledge of the cessation of fabrications, and direct knowledge of the Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of fabrications.’

Notice the similarities between the conclusion of the Satipatthana Sutta with these words and the conclusion of the Anapanasati Sutta further on:

“Now, if anyone develops these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years one could expect either complete understanding here and now or, if there is any clinging and maintaining remaining, in this present life.

“Let alone seven years, if anyone (perfectly) develops these Four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for six, or five, or four, or three, or two, or one year, for six months, or three months, for one month, for two weeks, for seven days, one could expect either complete understanding here and now or, if there is any clinging and maintaining remaining, in this present life.

“Friends, this is the direct path for the purification of all beings, for the cessation of sorrow and regret, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for establishing the right method of practice, and for complete unbinding – in other words, these Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

Now the Buddha again emphasizes the singular importance of samadhi, a well-concentrated mind free of the distraction of impermanent feelings, thoughts, and qualities of mind rooted in ignorance of Anicca, Anatta, and Dukkha and, ignorance of Four Noble Truths:

“When one is mindful of the arising and passing away of all internal and external phenomena, their mind and body united, their quality of mind established in concentration and equanimity, the development of Four Foundations Of Mindfulness brings the Seven Factors Of Awakening to culmination.

“This is how the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness are appropriately developed so as to bring the Seven Factors Of Awakening to their useful culmination.”

This concluding section brings to a close the Buddha’s description of how these senior monks became established on the pure “heartwood” of the Dhamma:

Clear Knowing and Release

“And how are the Seven Factors of Awakening appropriately developed so as to bring Right Understanding (Right View) and release (from clinging to wrong/ignorant views) to their culmination?

“When one develops mindfulness in this manner as a factor for awakening, mindfulness is established on seclusion, established on dispassion, established on cessation, established in relinquishment (of clinging to ignorant views.)

“They develop investigation of the Dhamma as a factor for awakening.

“They develop persistence as a factor for awakening.

“They develop joyful engagement as a factor for awakening.

“They develop tranquility as a factor for awakening.

“They develop concentration as a factor for awakening.

“They develop equanimity as a factor for awakening.

“These Seven Factors Of Awakening are dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, and dependent on cessation. These Seven Factors Of Awakening, when fully developed, results in relinquishment of all views rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

“This is how the seven factors for awakening are appropriately developed so as to bring Right Understanding (Right View) and release from clinging to ignorant views to their culmination.”

This is what the Buddha said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Buddha’s words.

End Of Sutta

Closing Commentary

Closing Commentary

The Buddha awakened to the profound understanding that it is ignorance of Four Noble Truths that establishes Dukkha – ongoing stress and disappointment – as the underlying human experience. This teaching is taught prominently in the Paticca-Samuppada sutta, and many other suttas.

The Paticca-Samuppada sutta is commonly known as the Buddha’s teachings on Dependent Origination or Dependent Co-arising. Dependent Origination shows that, from ignorance, through twelve observable requisite conditions, suffering arises. The specific ignorance that leads to all manner of suffering is ignorance of Four Noble Truths. The Buddha’s very first teaching was the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta in order to establish the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination as the context for his entire teaching career, and the many thousands of individual suttas preserved in the Pali Canon.

Every teaching the Buddha would present over his forty-five-year teaching career was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truth. Modern “dharmas” that substitute, embellish, or ignore these primary teachings will always lack the proper context for understanding the Buddha’s direct teachings.

Much confusion arises in modern Buddhism from taking one sutta out of the context of the Buddha’s Dhamma. Confusion and ignorance of Four Noble Truths is continued  by dissecting complete suttas and taking sections of complete suttas out of context to “authenticate” a contradictory “dharma.”

If looked at closely you will see that a mind that is inclined towards distraction will interpret an isolated sutta or isolated sections of a suttas to further distraction. This is a subtle but common and pervasive strategy to continue to ignore ignorance of Four Noble Truths.

Useful and effective insight – Vipassana – occurs with the mindfulness of the purpose and intent of an awakened human being, and in the context this awakened human being taught, Dependent Origination, and Four Noble Truths. In the proper context, the Satipatthana Sutta and the Anapanasati Sutta can then be appropriately seen as instruction for developing Right Mindfulness through the proper engagement of Right Meditation.

In conclusion, the Buddha’s words on the importance of avoiding continuing ignorance by continued ignorance of his teachings provide further context to be mindful of:

Buddha’s words from the Digha Nikaya 16

“In any doctrine and discipline where the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, no contemplative, whether stream-enterer or arahant is found. But, in any doctrine and discipline where the Noble Eightfold Path is found, contemplatives enter the stream of my Dhamma and awakening is the culmination. The Noble Eightfold Path is found in this doctrine and discipline, and right here there are contemplatives developing the Heartwood completely. Other teachings are empty of knowledgeable content. And if the monks dwell rightly, this world will not be empty of arahants.”

Peace

John Haspel, June 2022

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