About Our Logo


Return to Sutra Study Index

Search  

Introduction

Return to Index of This Sutra

The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
"The Turning of the Wheel of Dharma" Sutra
The Buddha's First Sermon

Lesson 4:  The Third Noble Truth: The Cessation of Suffering

Before you read:



The Text



The Text

Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth
translated by
Ņanamoli Thera

.

Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion
translated by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

.

Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth
translated by
Piyadassi Thera

.

"Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, is this: It is remainderless fading and  ceasing, giving up, relinquishing, letting go and rejecting, of that same craving.

.

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

.

"The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of  that very craving, giving it up, relinquishing it, liberating oneself from it, and  detaching oneself from it.

.



 



The Questions



 The Questions

To answer the Questions, please use the Comments page.  Please send your comments on this lesson by Wednesday, July 26, 2006.  (Comments are welcome any time; this "deadline" is just for those keeping pace with the study.)

Question #1: Is the Buddha just being redundant, or is there a real distinction in the various terms used (in Piyadassi Thera's translation, "complete cessation..., giving it up, relinquishing it, liberating oneself from it, and detaching oneself from it")? (see responses)

Question #2: How does "giving up" craving lead to a "cessation of suffering"? That is, what is the mechanism? (see responses)

Application #1: Do you think this is even possible? (see responses)

Application #2: If it is possible, how would one go about it? What would you do first? (see responses)

Application #3: What would be the hardest of your cravings to "give up"? (see responses)

Comments and questions regarding other aspects of this passage are also welcome.

Make your Comments here!



 



The Comments



The Comments



 


Question #1


Question #1: Is the Buddha just being redundant, or is there a real distinction in the various terms used (in Piyadassi Thera's translation, "complete cessation..., giving it up, relinquishing it, liberating oneself from it, and detaching oneself from it")?

Response by James:

I am, unfortunately, no scholar of Pali. I suspect, however, that there are important distinctions in these terms, which are somewhat lost in translation. The Buddha was no thesaurus; he didn't just spin out synonyms for rhetorical effect. His speech was keenly analytical, and when you see a list like this, there are distinctions.

Clearly, in Piyadassi Thera's translation, there are distinctions among, for example, "relinquishing it," "liberating oneself from it," and "detaching oneself from it."

"Relinquishing it" sounds to me like the previous item in the list, "giving it up," though there must be distinctions here, too. This is the letting go of desire, the displacement of my "ego-needs." Certainly, then, "liberation" is a result of this action. And this liberation leads to "detachment," so that one does not form new desires. There is a sequence inherent here (at least in the English of this translation).

(Written July 29, 2006; Posted July 31, 2006)


 


Question #2


Question #2: How does "giving up" craving lead to a "cessation of suffering"? That is, what is the mechanism?

Response by James:

If we accept that desire causes suffering, then the mechanism is obvious.

But does desire cause suffering? And if so, how?

Let's look back at the First Noble Truth (Lesson 2).  It says that suffering takes these forms:

Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering -- in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering.

I am especially interested in the last three, although the first four are instructive, too. The last three:

Association with the unpleasant: Example: Being stuck with the company of a person we don't like.  Clearly, it is my desire to be away from this person that causes the suffering.  There must be some people who find this person's company perfectly acceptable; it is my attitude which causes the suffering.

Dissociation from the pleasant: Example: Being separated from loved ones at holidays.  Clearly, it is my desire to be with them that prevents me from enjoying the company of the people that I am with.

Not to receive what one desires: Example: As the old song says, we overlook an orchid while looking for a rose. When we fixate on something that we desire, it prevents us from enjoying what we have.

And so we can easily see that the source of the trouble is not the condition of being in the presence of the unpleasant, or being away from the pleasant, or not receiving the desired: the problem rests in making the distinction of pleasant vs. unpleasant, desirable vs. undesirable, in the first place! And this is a function of my desire.

As for the first four sources of suffering:

Birth: Logically, had we not been born, we wouldn't suffer.

Aging: I am in L.A. right now, seeing the effects of age on my 84-year-old father. But I would say his suffering is reduced by the fact that he is resigned to it, not fighting it. It's the 65-year-old, I think, who can still roller-blade or go bicycling, who is more likely to "grasp" at youth.

Sickness: Absence of health is one thing; desire for health another.

Death: Ah, the Great Denial. We live as though it will never happen. Or, for some, we live as though it is always happening. Either way, it disproportionately affects the way we live.

(Written July 29, 2006; Posted July 31, 2006)


 


Application #1


Application #1: Do you think this is even possible?

Response by James:

Yes! I have seen it! When a person becomes a monk or nun, the verb often used is that he/she "renounces." This act of renunciation is a key to happiness. True, most monks and nuns still struggle along. But they are headed in the right direction. Letting go is possible, and leads to great reward. The rare layperson, too, is able to achieve this goal.

(Written July 29, 2006; Posted July 31, 2006)


 


Application #2


Application #2: If it is possible, how would one go about it? What would you do first?

Response by James:

I think it's a piece-by-piece process. I try to look at the things I desire most, and either give them up or, more significantly (I think) adjust my attitude about them. I do a little exercise. I ask: "What would happen to me if I had to live without that thing (or person)? Would I survive? Would I learn to be happy again?" The answer is invariably "Yes!" And so I can learn to grasp these things lightly.

I subscribe to "Daily Dharma" from Tricycle Magazine.  On July 28, 2006, they sent out a piece entitled "Love, but only if...":

The near-enemy of love is attachment. Attachment masquerades as love. It says, "I will love you if you will love me back." It is a kind of "businessman's" love. So we think, "I will love this person as long as he doesn't change. I will love that thing if it will be the way I want it." But this isn't love at all--it is attachment. There is a big difference between love, which allows and honors and appreciates, and attachment, which grasps and demands and aims to possess. When attachment becomes confused with love, it actually separates us from another person. We feel we need this other person in order to be happy. This quality of attachment also leads us to offer love only toward certain people, excluding others. (--Joseph Goldstein, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book)

(Written July 29, 2006; Posted July 31, 2006)


 


Application #3


Application #3: What would be the hardest of your cravings to "give up"?

Response by James:

Lila.

(Written July 29, 2006; Posted July 31, 2006)


 

..Contents other than translations (C) 2006 James Baquet

Write to