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Majjhima Nikaya

Majjhima Nikāya
141 Saccavibhaṅga Sutta
Discourse on the Analysis of the Noble Truths

Arahant Sariputta explains in detail the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Thus have I heard: On one occasion the Blessed One was living in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Bārāṇasi. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks saying, “Monks.” “Oh Bhante,” those monks replied to the Blessed One. Thereupon the Blessed One taught this:

“Monks, in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Bārāṇasi, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the fully enlightened Buddha set in motion the matchless Wheel of Dhamma which cannot be stopped by any recluse, brāhmin, devā, Māra, or Brahma, or anyone in the world. That is to say, it was the proclamation of the Four Noble Truths, the teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Four Noble Truths.

“Of what Four Noble Truths? It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of Suffering. It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering. It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

“Monks, the matchless Wheel of Dhamma set in motion by the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the fully enlightened Buddha, in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Bārāṇasi, cannot be stopped by any recluse, brāhmin, devā, Māra, or Brahma, or anyone in the world. That is to say, it was the proclamation of the Four Noble Truths, the teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Four Noble Truths.

“Monks, cultivate the friendships of Sāriputta and Moggallāna; associate with Sāriputta and Moggallāna. They are wise and helpful to their companions in the holy life. Monks, Sāriputta is like a mother, Moggallāna like a nurse. Monks, Sāriputta trains others for the fruit of stream-entry, Moggallāna for the higher attainments.

“Monks, Sāriputta is very skilled in the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Four Noble Truths.”

So said the Blessed One. Having said this, the Sublime One rose from his seat and went into his dwelling. Then, soon after the Blessed One had gone, the Venerable Sāriputta addressed the monks saying, “Venerable friends.” “Venerable friend,” replied those monks to the Venerable Sāriputta.

Then the Venerable Sāriputta taught this discourse: “Friends, in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Bārāṇasi, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the fully enlightened Buddha, set in motion the matchless Wheel of Dhamma which cannot be stopped by any recluse, brāhmin, devā, Māra, or Brahma, or anyone in the world. That is to say, it was the proclamation of the Four Noble Truths, the teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Four Noble Truths.

“Of what Four Noble Truths? It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of Suffering. It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering. It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering. It was the proclamation, teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

And what, friends, is the Noble Truth of Suffering? Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering; grief, crying, bodily pain, mental pain, and despair are suffering; not getting what one desires, that too, is suffering. In brief, the five aggregates of clinging are suffering.

And what, friends, is birth? It is the birth of beings in the various orders of beings; their coming to birth, descending into a womb, generation of a specific birth, the appearance of the aggregates, and obtaining the sense bases. This, friends, is called birth.

And what, friends, is ageing? It is the ageing of beings in the various orders of beings; their old age, brokenness of teeth, grayness of hair, wrinkling of skin, decline of lifespan, and weakness of faculties. This, friends, is called ageing.

And what, friends, is death? It is the passing of beings from the various orders of beings; their passing away, dissolution, disappearance, dying, completion of time, breaking up of the aggregates, and laying down of the body. This, friends, is called death.

And what, friends, is sorrow? Friends, it is sorrow, sorrowing, sorrowfulness; inward sorrow, and inward intense sorrow by one who has encountered some misfortune or is affected by some painful state. This, friends, is called sorrow.

And what, friends, is crying? Friends, it is wail and cry, wailing and crying; wail and crying of one who has encountered some misfortune or is affected by some painful state. This, friends, is called crying.

And what, friends, is pain? Friends, it is bodily pain, bodily discomfort, and painful, unpleasant feeling born of bodily contact. This, friends, is called pain.

And what, friends, is grief? Friends, it is mental pain, mental discomfort, and painful, uncomfortable feeling born of mental contact. This, friends, is called grief.

And what, friends, is despair? Friends, it is trouble and despair; the tribulation and desperation of one who has encountered some misfortune or is affected by some painful state. This, friends, is called despair.

And what, friends, is the suffering of not getting what one wishes?

“Friends, to beings subject to birth, there comes the wish: ‘Oh, might we not be subject to birth! Oh, might birth not come to us!’ But this is not to be obtained by mere wishing. Therefore, not getting what one desires is suffering.

“Friends, to beings subject to ageing there comes the wish: ‘Oh, might we not be subject to ageing! Oh, might ageing not come to us!’ But this is not to be obtained by mere wishing. Therefore, not getting what one desires is suffering.

“Friends, to beings subject to sickness there comes the wish: ‘Oh, might we not be subject to sickness! Oh, might sickness not come to us!’ But this is not to be obtained by mere wishing. Therefore, not getting what one desires is suffering.

“Friends, to beings subject to death there comes the wish: ‘Oh, might we not be subject to death! Oh, might death not to come to us!’ But this is not to be obtained by mere wishing. Therefore, not getting what one desires is suffering.

“Friends, to beings subject to sorrow, pain, crying, grief and despair, there comes the wish: ‘Oh, might we not be subject to sorrow, pain, crying, grief and despair! Oh, might sorrow, pain, crying, grief and despair not come to us!’ But this is not to be obtained by mere wishing. Therefore, not getting what one desires is suffering.

And what, friends, are the five aggregates of clinging that, in brief, are suffering? They are: the material form aggregate of clinging, the feeling aggregate of clinging, the perception aggregate of clinging, the formations aggregate of clinging, and the consciousness aggregate of clinging. Friends, these are the five aggregates of clinging that, in brief, are suffering. This friends, is called the Noble Truth of Suffering.

And what, friends, is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering? It is this craving which produces re-existence, accompanied by passionate lust, and finding delight now here, and now there; namely, craving for sense-pleasures, craving for existence and craving for non-existence. Friends, this is called the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering.

And what, friends, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering? It is the complete cessation of that very craving; giving it up, relinquishing it, liberating oneself from it, and detaching oneself from it. Friends, this is called the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.

And what, friends, is the Noble Truth of the Way leading to the Cessation of Suffering? It is just this Noble Eightfold Path that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

And what, friends, is right view? It is the knowledge of suffering, the knowledge of the origin of suffering, the knowledge of the cessation of suffering, and the knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering. This, friends, is called right view.

And what, friends, is right intention? It is the intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, and intention of non-harming. This, friends, is called right intention.

And what, friends, is right speech? Refraining from false speech, refraining from divisive speech, refraining from harsh speech, and refraining from idle chatter. This, friends, is called right speech.

And what, friends, is right action? Refraining from killing living beings, refraining from stealing, and refraining from sexual misconduct. This, friends, is called right action.

And what, friends, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned wrong livelihood, earns his living by right livelihood. This, friends, is called right livelihood.

And what, friends, is right effort? Here a monk generates desire for the non-arising of unarisen evil unwholesome states, and thus, he makes effort, arouses energy, makes his mind determined, and strives hard.

“He generates desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states, and thus, he makes effort, arouses energy, makes his mind determined, and strives hard.

“He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states and thus, he makes effort, arouses energy, makes his mind determined, and strives hard.

“He generates desire for the continuance, non-disappearance, strengthening, increase, and fulfillment by development of arisen wholesome states, and thus, he makes effort, arouses energy, makes his mind determined, and strives hard. This friends, is called right effort.

And what, friends, is right mindfulness? Here a monk abides contemplating the body in the body ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away greed and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings in feelings ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away greed and grief for the world. He abides contemplating the mind in the mind ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away greed and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects in mind-objects ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away greed and grief for the world. This friends, is called right mindfulness.

And what, friends, is right concentration? Friends, here, detached from sensual pleasures detached from unwholesome states, a monk enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.

“With the stilling of applied and sustained thought, he enters upon and abides in the second jhāna, which has self-confidence and singleness of mind, without applied and sustained thought with rapture and pleasure born of concentration.

“With the fading away of rapture, he abides in equanimity and mindful and fully aware, still feeling pleasure with the body, he enters upon and abides in the third jhāna, on account of which, noble ones announce: “He has a pleasant abiding, who has equanimity and is mindful.”

“With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the earlier disappearance of joy and grief, he enters upon and abides in the fourth jhāna, which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and purity of mindfulness and equanimity. This friends, is called right concentration.

“This friends, is called the Noble Truth of the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

“Friends, in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Bārāṇasi, the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the fully enlightened Buddha, set in motion the matchless Wheel of Dhamma which cannot be stopped by any recluse, brāhmin, devā, Māra, or Brahma, or anyone in the world. That is to say, it was the proclamation of the Four Noble Truths, the teaching, laying down, establishing, revealing, analyzing, and clarifying of the Four Noble Truths.”

The Venerable Sāriputta taught this discourse. Those monks rejoiced and delighted in the discourse, taught by the Venerable Sāriputta.

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Majjhima Nikāya 141 Saccavibhaṅga Sutta: Discourse on the Analysis of the Noble Truths

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Notes:

This is one of the best suttas to remember if we want to know the Noble Eightfold Path in detail.

Further Reading:

The Buddha's first sermon, Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma, SN 56:11

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