Word of The Buddha
Outline of the teachings of the Buddha in the words of
the Pali canon
translated, and explained by Nyanatiloka
now, is Right Understanding?
The Four Truths
To understand suffering; 2. to understand the origin of suffering;
3. to understand the extinction of suffering; 4. to understand
the path that leads to the extinction of suffering. This is
called Right Understanding.
Merit And Demerit
when the noble disciple understands what is karmically wholesome,
and the root of wholesome karma, what is karmically unwholesome,
and the root of unwholesome karma, then he has Right Understanding.
now is `karmically unwholesome' (akusala)?
Destruction of living beings is karmically unwholesome
Stealing is karmically unwholesome
Unlawful sexual intercourse is karmically unwholesome
Lying is karmically unwholesome
Tale-bearing is karmically unwholesome
Harsh language is karmically unwholesome
Frivolous talk is karmically unwholesome
Covetousness is karmically unwholesome
Ill-will is karmically unwholesome
Wrong views are karmically unwholesome.
ten are called `Evil Courses of Action' (akusala-kammapatha).
what are the roots of unwholesome karma? Greed (lobha) is a
root of unwholesome karma; Hatred (dosa) is a root of unwholesome
karma; Delusion (moha) is a root of unwholesome karma.
I say, these demeritorious actions are of three kinds: either
due to greed, or due to hatred, or due to delusion.
`karmically unwholesome' (a-kusala) is considered every volitional
act of body, speech, or mind, which is rooted in greed, hatred,
or delusion. It is regarded as akusala, i.e. unwholesome or
unskillful, as it produces evil and painful results in this
or some future existence. The state of will or volition is
really that which counts as action (kamma). It may manifest
itself as action of the body, or speech; if it does not manifest
itself outwardly, it is counted as mental action.
state of greed (lobha), as also that of hatred (dosa), is
always accompanied by ignorance (or delusion; moha), this
latter being the primary root of all evil. Greed and hatred,
however, cannot co-exist in one and the same moment of consciousness.
now, is `karmically wholesome' (kusala)?
To abstain from killing is karmically wholesome
To abstain from stealing is karmically wholesome
To abstain from unlawful sexual intercourse is karmically
To abstain from lying is karmically wholesome
To abstain from tale-bearing is karmically wholesome
To abstain from harsh language is karmically wholesome
To abstain from frivolous talk is karmically wholesome
Absence of covetousness is karmically wholesome
Absence of ill-will is karmically wholesome
Right understanding is karmically wholesome
ten are called `Good Courses of Action' (kusala-kamma-patha).
what are the roots of wholesome karma? Absence of greed (a-lobha
= unselfishness) is a root of wholesome karma; absence of hatred
(a-dosa = kindness) is a root of wholesome karma; absence of
delusion (a-moha = wisdom) is a root of wholesome karma.
The Three Characteristics (ti-lakkha.na)
when one understands that corporeality, feeling, perception,
mental formations and consciousness are transient (subject to
suffering, and without a self), also in that case one possesses
any one say that he does not wish to lead the holy life under
the Blessed One, unless the Blessed One first tells him whether
the world is eternal or temporal, finite or infinite: whether
the life-principle is identical with the body, or something
different; whether the Perfect One continues after death, etc.-such
a one would die ere the Perfect One could tell him all this.
is as if a man were pierced by a poisoned arrow and his friends,
companions or near relations should send for a surgeon; but
that man should say: `I will not have this arrow pulled out,
until I know, who the man is that has wounded me: whether he
is a noble man, a priest, a tradesman, or a servant'; or: `what
his name is, and to what family he belongs'; or: `whether he
is tall, or short, or of medium height'. Truly, such a man would
die ere he could adequately learn all this.
the man who seeks his own welfare, should pull out this arrow-this
arrow of lamentation, pain, and sorrow.
whether the theory exists, or whether it does not exist, that
the world is eternal, or temporal, or finite or infinite-yet
certainly, there exists birth, there exists decay, there exist
death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair, the extinction
of which, attainable even in this present life, I make known
for instance, that there is an unlearned worldling, void of
regard for holy men, ignorant of the teaching of holy men, untrained
in the noble doctrine. And his heart is possessed and overcome
by Self-illusion, by Scepticism, by Attachment to mere Rule
and Ritual, by Sensual Lust, and by Ill-will; and how to free
himself from these things, he does not in reality know.
(sakkaaya-di.t.thi) may reveal itself as:
`Eternalism': bhava- or sassata-di.t.thi, lit. `Eternity-Belief',
i.e. the belief that one's Ego, Self or Soul exists independently
of the material body, and continues even after the dissolution
of the latter.
`Annihilationism': vibhava- or ucchcda-di.t.thi, lit. `Annihilation-Belief',
i.e. the materialistic belief that this present life constitutes
the Ego, and hence that it is annihilated at the death of
the material body.
the ten `Fetters' (samyojana), see "The
Ten Fetters" on page  32.
knowing what is worthy of consideration, and what is unworthy
of consideration, he considers the unworthy, and not the worthy.
unwisely he considers thus: `Have I been in the past? Or, have
I not been in the past? What have I been in the past? How have
I been in the past? From what state into what state did I change
in the past?
I be in the future? Or, shall I not be in the future? What shall
I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? From what
state into what state shall I change in the future?'
the present also fills him with doubt; `Am I? Or, am I not?
What am I? How am I? This being, whence has it come? Whither
will it go?'
Six Views About The Self
with such unwise considerations, he adopts one or other of the
six views, and it becomes his conviction and firm belief: `I
have a Self', or: `I have no Self', or: `With the Self I perceive
the Self', or: `With that which is no Self, I perceive the Self';
or: `With the Self I perceive that which is no Self'. Or, he
adopts the following view: `This my Self, which can think and
feel, and which, now here, now there, experiences the fruit
of good and evil deeds: this my Self is permanent, stable, eternal,
not subject to change, and will thus eternally remain the same'.
there really existed the Self, there would also exist something
which belonged to the Self. As, however, in truth and reality
neither the Self, nor anything belonging to the Self, can be
found, is it not therefore really an utter fools' doctrine to
say: `This is the world, this am I; after death I shall be permanent,
persisting, and eternal'?
are called mere views, a thicket of views, a puppet-show of
views, a toil of views, a snare of views; and ensnared in the
fetter of views the ignorant worldling will not be freed from
rebirth, from decay, and from death, from sorrow, pain, grief
and despair; he will not be freed, I say, from suffering.
learned and noble disciple, however, who has regard for holy
men, knows the teaching of holy men, is well trained in the
noble doctrine; he understands what is worthy of consideration,
and what is unworthy. And knowing this, he considers the worthy,
and not the unworthy. What suffering is, he wisely considers;
what the origin of suffering is, he wisely considers; what the
extinction of suffering is, he wisely considers; what the path
is that leads to the extinction of suffering, he wisely considers.
Sotapanna or `Stream-Enterer'
by thus considering, three fetters vanish, namely; Self-illusion,
Scepticism, and Attachment to mere Rule and Ritual.
those disciples, in whom these three fetters have vanished,
they all have `entered the Stream' (sotaapanna).
than any earthly power,
than all the joys of heaven,
than rule o'er all the world,
the Entrance to the Stream.
Ten Fetters (Sa.myojana)
are ten `Fetters'-samyojana-by which beings are bound to
the wheel of existence. They are:
to mere Rule and Ritual (siilabbata-paraamaasa)
for Fine-Material Existence (ruupa-raaga)
for Immaterial Existence (aruupa-raaga)
Noble Ones (Ariya-puggala)
who is freed from the first three Fetters is called a `Stream
- Enterer' (in Pali: Sotaapanna) i.e. one who has entered
the stream leading to Nibbaana. He has unshakable faith
in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, and is incapable of breaking
the five Moral Precepts. He will be reborn seven times,
at the utmost, and not in a state lower than the human world.
who has overcome the fourth and the fifth Fetters in their
grosser form, is called a Sakadaagaami, lit. `Once-Returner'
i.e. he will be reborn only once more in the Sensuous Sphere
(kaama-loka), and thereafter reach Holiness.
Anaagaami, lit. `Non-Returner', is wholly freed from the
first five Fetters which bind one to rebirth in the Sensuous
Sphere; after death, while living in the Fine-Material Sphere
(ruupa-loka), he will reach the goal.
Arahat, i.e. the perfectly `Holy One', is freed from all
the ten Fetters.
of the aforementioned four stages of Holiness consists of
the `Path' (magga) and the `Fruition', e.g. `Path of Stream
Entry' (sotaapatti-magga) and `Fruition of Stream Entry'
(sotaapatti-phala). Accordingly there are eight types, or
four pairs, of `Noble Individuals' (ariya-puggala).
`Path' consists of the single moment of entering the respective
attainment. By `Fruition' are meant those moments of consciousness
which follow immediately thereafter as the result of the
`Path', and which under certain circumstances, may repeat
innumerable times during life-time.
further details, see B. Dict.: ariya-puggala, sotaapanna,etc.
and Supermundane Understanding
I say, Right Understanding is of two kinds:
The view that alms and offerings are not useless; that there
is fruit and result, both of good and bad actions; that
there are such things as this life, and the next life; that
father and mother, as also spontaneously born beings (in
the heavenly worlds), are no mere words; that there are
in the world monks and priests, who are spotless and perfect,
who can explain this life and the next life, which they
themselves have understood: this is called the `Mundane
Right Understanding' (lokiya-sammaa-di.t.thi), which yields
worldly fruits and brings good results.
But whatsoever there is of wisdom, of penetration, of right
understanding conjoined with the `Path' (of the Sotaapanna,
Sakadaagaami, Anaagaami, or Arahat)-the mind being turned
away from the world and conjoined with the path, the holy
path being pursued: this is called the `Supermundane Right
Understanding' (lokuttara-sammaa-di.t.thi), which is not
of the world, but is supermundane and conjoined with the
there are two kinds of the Eightfold Path:
The `mundane' (lokiya), practised by the `Worldling' (puthujjana),
i.e. by all those who have not yet reached the first stage
of Holiness; 2. The `supermundane' (lokuttara) practised
by the `Noble Ones' (ariya-puggala).
With Other Steps
in understanding wrong understanding as wrong and right
understanding as right, one practises `Right Understanding'
(1st factor); and in making efforts to overcome wrong understanding,
and to arouse right understanding, one practises `Right
Effort' (6th factor); and in overcoming wrong understanding
with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind in
the possession of right understanding one practises `Right
Mindfulness' (7th factor). Hence, there are three things
that accompany and follow upon right understanding, namely:
Right Understanding, Right Effort, and Right Mindfulness.
from All Theories
if any one should put the question, whether I admit any
theory at all, he should be answered thus: The Perfect One
is free from any theory, for the Perfect One has understood
what corporeality is, and how it arises and passes away.
He has understood what feeling is, and how it arises and
passes away. He has understood what perception is, and how
it arises and passes away. He has understood what the mental
formations are, and how they arise and pass away. He has
understood what consciousness is, and how it arises and
passes away. Therefore I say, the Perfect One has won complete
deliverance through the extinction, fading-away, disappearance,
rejection, and getting rid of all opinions and conjectures,
of all inclination to the vain-glory of `I' and `mine'.
Perfect Ones (Buddhas) appear in the world, or whether Perfect
Ones do not appear in the world, it still remains a firm
condition, an immutable fact and fixed law: that all formations
are impermanent (anicca), that all formations are subject
to suffering (dukkha); that everything is without a Self
Pali: sabbe sankhaaraa aniccaa, sabbe sankhaaraa dukkhaa,
sabbe dhammaa anattaa.
word `sankhaaraa' (formations) comprises here all things
that are conditioned or `formed' (sankhata-dhamma), i.e.
all possible physical and mental constituents of existence.
The word `dhamma', however, has a still wider application
and is all-embracing, as it comprises also the so-called
Unconditioned (`unformed', asankhata), i.e. Nibbaana.
this reason, it would be wrong to say that all dhammas are
impermanent and subject to change, for the Nibbaana-dhamma
is permanent and free from change. And for the same reason,
it is correct to say that not only all the sankhaaras (=sankhata-dhamma),
but that all the dhammas (including the asankhata-dhamma)
lack an Ego (an-attaa).
corporeal phenomenon, a feeling, a perception, a mental
formation, a consciousness, which is permanent and persistent,
eternal and not subject to change, such a thing the wise
men in this world do not recognize; and I also say that
there is no such thing.
A. I. 15
it is impossible that a being possessed of right understanding
should regard anything as the Self.
and Discussions About the Ego
if someone should say that feeling is his Self, he should
be answered thus: `There are three kinds of feeling: pleasurable,
painful, and indifferent feeling. Which of these three feelings
do you consider as your Self?' Because, at the moment of
experiencing one of these feelings, one does not experience
the other two. These three kinds of feeling are impermanent,
of dependent origin, are subject to decay and dissolution,
to fading-away and extinction. Whosoever, in experiencing
one of these feelings, thinks that this is his Self, must
after the extinction of that feeling, admit that his Self
has become dissolved. And thus he will consider his Self
already in this present life as impermanent, mixed up with
pleasure and pain, subject to arising and passing away.
If any one should say that feeling is not his Ego, and that
his Self is inaccessible to feeling, he should be asked
thus: `Now, where there is no feeling, is it then possible
to say: "This am I?"
Or, another might say: `Feeling, indeed, is not my Self,
but it also is untrue that my Self is inaccessible to feeling,
for it is my Self that feels, my Self that has the faculty
of feeling'. Such a one should be answered thus: `Suppose
that feeling should become altogether totally extinguished;
now, if after the extinction of feeling, no feeling whatever
exists there, is it then possible to say: "This am
say that the mind, or the mind-objects, or the mind-consciousness,
constitute the Self, such an assertion is unfounded. For
an arising and a passing away is seen there; and seeing
the arising and passing away of these things, one would
come to the conclusion that one's Self arises and passes
S. XII. 62
would be better for the unlearned worldling to regard his
body, built up of the four elements, as his Self, rather
than his mind. For it is evident that the body may last
for a year, for two years, for three, four, five, or ten
years, or even for a hundred years and more; but that which
is called thought, or mind, or consciousness, arises continuously,
during day and night, as one thing, and passes away as another
S. XXII. 59
whatsoever there is of corporeality, of feeling, of perception,
of mental formations, of consciousness whether past, present
or future, one's own or external, gross or subtle, lofty
or low, far or near: of this one should understand according
to reality and true wisdom: `This does not belong to me;
this am I not; this is not my Self.'
show the impersonality and utter emptiness of existence,
Visuddhi-Magga XVI quotes the following verse:
suffering exists, no sufferer is found,
deed is, but no doer of the deed is there.
is, but not the man that enters it.
path is, but no traveller on it is seen'.
Present and Future
now, any one should ask: `Have you been in the past, and
is it untrue that you have not been? Will you be in the
future, and is it untrue that you will not be? Are you,
and is it untrue that you are not?' - you may reply that
you have been in the past, and that it is untrue that you
have not been; that you will be in the future, and that
it is untrue that you will not be; that you are, and that
it is untrue that you are not.
the past only that past existence was real, but unreal the
future and present existence. In the future only the future
existence will be real, but unreal the past and the present
existence. Now only the present existence is real, but unreal,
the past and future existence.
he who perceives the `Dependent Origination' (pa.ticca-samuppaada),
perceives the truth; and he who perceives the truth, perceives
the Dependent Origination.
just as from the cow comes milk, from milk curd, from curd
butter, from butter ghee, from ghee the skim of ghee; and
when it is milk, it is not counted as curd, or butter, or
ghee, or skim of ghee, but only as milk; and when it is
curd, it is only counted as curd: just so was my past existence
at that time real, but unreal the future and present existence;
and my future existence will be at that time real, but unreal
the past and present existence; and my present existence
is now real, but unreal the past and future existence. All
these are merely popular designations and expressions, mere
conventional terms of speaking, mere popular notions. The
Perfect One indeed makes use of these, without however clinging
S. XLIV 4
he who does not understand corporeality, feeling, perception,
mental formations and consciousness according to reality
(i.e. as void of a personality, or Ego) nor understands
their arising, their extinction, and the way to their extinction,
he is liable to believe, either that the Perfect One continues
after death, or that he does not continue after death, and
Two Extremes (Annihilation and Eternity Belief) and the Middle
if one holds the view that the vital principle (jiva; `Soul')
is identical with this body, in that case a holy life is
not possible; and if one holds the view that the vital principle
is something quite different from the body, in that case
also a holy life is not possible. Both these two extremes
the Perfect One has avoided, and he has shown the Middle
Doctrine, which says:
Ignorance (avijjaa) depend the `Karma-formations' (sankhaaraa).
the Karma-formations depends `Consciousness' (vi˝˝aa.na;
starting with rebirth-consciousness in the womb of the mother).
Consciousness depends the `Mental and Physical Existence'
the mental and physical existence depend the `Six Sense-Organs'
the six sense-organs depends `Sensorial Impression' (phassa).
sensorial impression depends `Feeling' (vedanaa).
feeling depends `Craving' (ta.nhaa).
craving depends `Clinging' (upaadaana).
clinging depends the `Process of Becoming' (bhava).
the process of becoming (here: kamma-bhava, or karma-process)
depends `Rebirth' (jaati).
rebirth depend `Decay and Death' (jaraa-marana), sorrow,
lamentation, pain, grief and despair.
arises this whole mass of suffering. This is called the
noble truth of the origin of suffering.
god, no Brahma can be called
maker of this wheel of life:
phenomena roll on,
on conditions all."
in Visuddhi-Magga XIX).
S. XII. 51
disciple, however, in whom Ignorance (avijjaa) has disappeared
and wisdom arisen, such a disciple heaps up neither meritorious,
nor demeritorious, nor imperturbable Karma-formations.
term sankhaaraa has been rendered here by `Karma Formations'
because, in the context of the Dependent Origination, it
refers to karmically wholesome and unwholesome volition
(cetanaa), or volitional activity, in short, Karma.
threefold division of it, given in the preceding passage,
comprises karmic activity in all spheres of existence, or
planes of consciousness. The `meritorious karma-formations'
extend also to the Fine-Material Sphere (ruupaavacara),
while the `imperturbable karma-formations' (ane˝jaabhisankhaaraa)
refer only to the Immaterial Sphere (aruupaavacara).
through the entire fading away and extinction of this `Ignorance',
the `Karma-formations' are extinguished. Through the extinction
of Karma-formations, `Consciousness' (rebirth) is extinguished.
Through the extinction of consciousness, the `Mental and
Physical Existence' is extinguished. Through the extinction
of the mental and physical existence, the `Six Sense-Organs'
are extinguished. Through the extinction of the six sense-organs,
`Sensorial Impression' is extinguished. Through the extinction
of sensorial impression, `Feeling' is extinguished. Through
the extinction of feeling, `Craving' is extinguished. Through
the extinction of craving, `Clinging' is extinguished. Through
the extinction of clinging, the `Process of Becoming' is
extinguished. Through the extinction of the process of becoming,
`Rebirth' is extinguished. Through the extinction of rebirth,
`Decay and Death', sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and
despair are extinguished. Thus takes place the extinction
of this whole mass of suffering. This is called the noble
truth of the extinction of suffering.
because beings, obstructed by ignorance (avijjaa) and ensnared
by craving (tanhaa) seek ever fresh delight, now here, now
there, therefore fresh rebirth continually comes to be.
A. III. 33
the action (kamma) that is done out of greed, hatred and
delusion (lobha, dosa, moha), that springs from them, has
its source and origin in them: this action ripens wherever
one is reborn, and wherever this action ripens there one
experiences the fruits of this action, be it in this life,
or the next life, or in some future life.
through the fading away of ignorance, through the arising
of wisdom, through the extinction of craving, no future
rebirth takes place again.
A. III. 33
the actions which are not done out of greed, hatred and
delusion, which have not sprung from them, which have not
their source and origin in them: such actions, through the
absence of greed, hatred and delusion, are abandoned, rooted
out, like a palm-tree torn out of the soil, destroyed, and
not able to spring up again.
A. VIII. 12
this respect one may rightly say of me: that I teach annihilation,
that I propound my doctrine for the purpose of annihilation,
and that I herein train my disciples; for certainly I do
teach annihilation-the annihilation, namely, of greed, hatred
and delusion, as well as of the manifold evil and unwholesome
Paticca Samuppaada, lit, the Dependent Origination, is the
doctrine of the conditionality of all physical and mental
phenomena, a doctrine which, together with that of Impersonality
(anattaa), forms the indispensable condition for the real
understanding and realization of the Buddha's teaching.
It shows that the various physical and mental life-processes,
conventionally called personality, man, animal, etc., are
not a mere play of blind chance, but the outcome of causes
and conditions. Above all, the Pa.ticca-Samuppaada explains
how the arising of rebirth and suffering is dependent upon
conditions; and, in its second part, it shows how, through
the removal of these conditions, all suffering must disappear.
Hence, the Pa.ticca-Samuppaada serves to elucidate the second
and the third Noble Truths, by explaining them from their
very foundations upwards, and giving them a fixed philosophical
following diagram shows at a glance how the twelve links
of the formula extend over three consecutive existences,
past, present, and future:
1. Ignorance (avijjaa)
Karma Process (kamma-bhava) 5 causes: 1, 2, 8, 9, 10
2. Karma-Formations (sankhaaraa)
3. Consciousness (vi˝˝aa.na)
Rebirth-Process (upapatti-bhava) 5 results: 3-7
4. Mental and Physical Existence (naamaruupa)
5. 6 Sense Organs (sa.l-aayatana)
6. Sense-Impression (phassa)
7. Feeling (vedanaa)
8. Craving (ta.nha)
Karma Process (kamma-bhava) 5 causes: 1, 2, 8, 9, 10
9. Clinging (upaadaana)
10. Process of Existence (bhava)
11. Rebirth (jaati)
Rebirth-Process (upapatti-bhava) 5 results: 3-7
12. Decay and Death (jaraa-marana)
links 1-2, together with 8-10, represent the Karma-Process,
containing the five karmic causes of rebirth.
links 3-7, together with 11-12, represent the Rebirth-Process,
containing the five Karma-Results.
it is said in the Patisambhidaa-Magga:
causes were there in past,
fruits we find in present life.
causes do we now produce,
fruits we reap in future life.
in Vis. Magga XVII)
a full explanation see Fund. III and B. Dict.
and Introduction | 1
| 2 | 3
| 4 |