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Introduction

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

Lesson 6: The Four Noble Truths x The Three Aspects =
 The Twelve Ways

Before you read:



The Text



The Text

Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth
translated by
Ņanamoli Thera

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Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion
translated by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth
translated by
Piyadassi Thera

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"'Suffering, as a noble truth, is this.' Such was the vision, the knowledge, the  understanding, the finding, the light, that arose in regard to ideas not heard by me  before. 'This suffering, as a noble truth, can be diagnosed.' Such was the vision, the  knowledge, the understanding, the finding, the light, that arose in regard to ideas not  heard by me before. 'This suffering, as a noble truth, has been diagnosed.' Such was the  vision, the knowledge, the understanding, the finding, the light, that arose in regard  to ideas not heard by me before.

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"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 stress'... 'This noble truth of stress is to be comprehended'... 'This noble truth of stress has been comprehended.'

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"'This is the Noble Truth of Suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This suffering, as a noble truth, should be fully realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This suffering, as a noble truth has been fully realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.

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"'The origin of suffering, as a noble truth, is this.' Such was the vision... 'This  origin of suffering, as a noble truth, can be abandoned.' Such was the vision... 'This  origin of suffering, as a noble truth, has been abandoned.' Such was the vision... in  regard to ideas not heard by me before.

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"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' 1 ... 'This noble truth of the origination of stress has been abandoned.'

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"'This is the Noble Truth of the Origin (cause) of Suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Origin of Suffering as a noble truth should be eradicated': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Origin of suffering as a noble truth has been eradicated': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.

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"'Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, is this.' Such was the vision... 'This  cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, can be verified.' Such was the vision... 'This cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, has been verified.' Such was the vision... in regard to ideas not heard by me before.

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"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.'

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"'This is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, should be realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Cessation of suffering, as a noble truth has been realized': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.

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"'The way leading to cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, is this.' Such was the vision... 'This way leading to cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, can be developed.' Such was the vision... 'This way leading to the cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, has been developed.' Such was the vision... in regard to ideas not heard by me before.

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"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.' 2

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"'This is the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of suffering': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Path leading to the cessation of suffering, as a noble truth, should be developed': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. 'This Path leading to the cessation of suffering, as a noble truth has been developed': such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.

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"As long as my knowing and seeing how things are, was not quite purified in these twelve aspects, in these three phases of each of the four noble truths, I did not claim in the world with its gods, its Maras and high divinities, in this generation with its monks and brahmans, with its princes and men to have discovered the full Awakening that is supreme. But as soon as my knowing and seeing how things are, was quite purified in these twelve aspects, in these three phases of each of the four noble truths, then I claimed in the world with its gods, its Maras and high divinities, in this generation with its monks and brahmans, its princes and men to have discovered the full Awakening that is supreme. Knowing and seeing arose in me thus: 'My heart's deliverance is unassailable. This is the last birth. Now there is no renewal of being.'"

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"And, monks, as long as this knowledge & vision of mine -- with its three rounds & twelve permutations concerning these four noble truths as they actually are present -- was not pure, I did not claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Maras, & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & priests, its royalty & commonfolk. But as soon as this knowledge & vision of mine -- with its three rounds & twelve permutations concerning these four noble truths as they actually are present -- was truly pure, then I did claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Maras & Brahmas, with its contemplatives & priests, its royalty & commonfolk. Knowledge & vision arose in me: 'Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.'"

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1 Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu's note on "noble truth":
Another argument for the lateness of the expression "noble truth" is that a truth -- meaning an accurate statement about a body of facts -- is not something that should be abandoned. In this case, only the craving is to be abandoned, not the truth about craving. However, in Vedic Sanskrit -- as in modern English -- a "truth" can mean both a fact and an accurate statement about a fact. Thus in this case, the "truth" is the fact, not the statement about the fact, and the argument for the lateness of the expression does not hold.

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2 Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu's note on "the twelve ways":
The discussion in the four paragraphs beginning with the phrase, "Vision arose...," takes two sets of variables -- the four noble truths and the three levels of knowledge appropriate to each -- and lists their twelve permutations. In ancient Indian philosophical and legal traditions, this sort of discussion is called a wheel. Thus, this passage is the Wheel of Dhamma from which the discourse takes its name.

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"As long as my knowledge of seeing things as they really are, was not quite clear in these three aspects, in these twelve ways, concerning the Four Noble Truths,1 I did not claim to have realized the matchless, supreme Enlightenment, in this world with its gods, with its Maras and Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brahmanas, with its Devas and humans. But when my knowledge of seeing things as they really are was quite clear in these three aspects, in these twelve ways, concerning the Four Noble Truths, then I claimed to have realized the matchless, supreme Enlightenment in this world with its gods, with its Maras and Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brahmanas, with its Devas and humans. And a vision of insight arose in me thus: 'Unshakable is the deliverance of my heart. This is the last birth. Now there is no more re-becoming (rebirth).'"

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1 Ven. Piyadasi Thera's note on "the three aspects":
As the previous paragraphs indicate, there are three aspects of knowledge with regard to each of the Four Noble Truths: 1. The knowledge that it is the Truth (sacca-ņana). 2. The knowledge that a certain function with regard to this Truth should be performed (kicca-ņana). 3. The knowledge that the function with regard to this Truth has been performed (kata-ņana). The twelve ways or modes are obtained by applying these three aspects to each of the Four Noble Truths.

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The Questions



 The Questions

To answer the Questions, please use the Comments page.  Please send your comments on this lesson by Wednesday, August 9, 2006.  (Comments are welcome any time; this "deadline" is just for those keeping pace with the study.)

Question #1: What are the "three aspects of knowledge" described in each stanza? (See Piyadassi Thera's note.) What is the logical relationship between them?

Question #2: How do these "three aspects" create "twelve ways"? You might try making a chart to answer this.

Question #3: What do you make of these words (in Piyadassi Thera's translation): "such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before..."?

Question #4: What led the Buddha to this realization: "'Unshakable is the deliverance of my heart. This is the last birth. Now there is no more re-becoming (rebirth)."

Question #5: Buddhism is often said to be "rationalistic," devoid of gods, superstitions, etc. Then why does the Buddha mention here "this world with its gods, with its Maras and Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brahmanas, with its Devas and humans"?

Application #1: Think of some "everyday examples" of the "Three Aspects of Knowledge."

Application #2: Have you ever had an original insight, never framed in human thought before?

Application #3: Have you ever had an realization: "unshakable realization"?

Application #4: What is your position on the existence of "supernaturals"?

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

Make your Comments here!



 



The Comments



The Comments

[Watch here on or about Friday, August 11, 2006]



 

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

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