SN 56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks:

“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 in connection with sensuality: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable; and that which is devoted to self-affliction: painful, ignoble, unprofitable. Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way realized by the Tathāgata—producing vision, producing knowledge—leads to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to unbinding.

“And what is the middle way realized by the Tathāgata that—producing vision, producing knowledge—leads to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to unbinding? Precisely this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the middle way realized by the Tathāgata that—producing vision, producing knowledge—leads to stilling, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to unbinding.

Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming—accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there—i.e., craving for sensuality, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

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.

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 resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

“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.’

“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.’

“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 realized’ … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of stress has been realized.’

“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.

“And, monks, as long as this—my three-round, twelve-permutation knowledge & vision concerning these four noble truths as they have come to be—was not pure, I did not claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, in this generation with its contemplatives & brahmans, its royalty & commonfolk. But as soon as this—my three-round, twelve-permutation knowledge & vision concerning these four noble truths as they have come to be—was truly pure, then I did claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, in this generation with its contemplatives & brahmans, its royalty & commonfolk. Knowledge & vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked8 is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of five monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words. And while this explanation was being given, there arose to Ven. Kondañña the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.

And when the Blessed One had set the Wheel of Dhamma in motion, the earth devas cried out: “Near Vārāṇasī, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by contemplative or brahman, deva, Māra, or Brahmā, or anyone at all in the cosmos.” On hearing the earth devas’ cry, the Devas of the Four Great Kings took up the cry… the Devas of the Thirty-three… the Devas of the Hours… the Contented Devas… the Devas Delighting in Creation … the Devas [Muses?] Wielding Power over the Creations of Others… the Devas of Brahmā’s Retinue took up the cry: “Near Vārāṇasī, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by contemplative or brahman, deva, Māra, or Brahmā, or anyone at all in the cosmos.”

So in that moment, that instant, the cry shot right up to the Brahmā worlds. And this ten-thousand-fold cosmos shivered & quivered & quaked, while a great, measureless radiance appeared in the cosmos, surpassing the effulgence of the deities.

Then the Blessed One exclaimed: “So you really know, Kondañña? So you really know?” And that is how Ven. Kondañña acquired the name Añña-Kondañña—Kondañña who knows.


Read this translation of Saṁyutta Nikāya 56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net, SuttaFriends.org, or Ancient-Buddhist-Texts.net. Or listen on PaliAudio.com.

AN 5.196 Supina Sutta: Dreams

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, five great dreams appeared to him. Which five?

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this great earth was his great bed. The Himalayas, king of mountains, was his pillow. His left hand rested in the eastern sea, his right hand in the western sea, and both feet in the southern sea. When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this was the first great dream that appeared to him.

“And further, when the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, a woody vine growing out of his navel stood reaching to the sky. When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this was the second great dream that appeared to him.

“And further, when the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, white worms with black heads crawling up from his feet covered him as far as his knees. When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this was the third great dream that appeared to him.

“And further, when the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, four different-colored birds coming from the four directions fell at his feet and turned entirely white. When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this was the fourth great dream that appeared to him.

“And further, when the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, he walked back & forth on top of a giant mountain of excrement but was not soiled by the excrement. When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this was the fifth great dream that appeared to him.

“Now, when the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, and this great earth was his great bed, the Himalayas, king of mountains, was his pillow, his left hand rested in the eastern sea, his right hand in the western sea, and both feet in the southern sea: this first great dream appeared to let him know that he would awaken to the unexcelled right self-awakening.

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, and a woody vine growing out of his navel stood reaching to the sky: this second great dream appeared to let him know that when he had awakened to the noble eightfold path, he would proclaim it well as far as there are devas & human beings.

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, and white worms with black heads crawling up from his feet covered him as far as his knees: this third great dream appeared to let him know that many white-clothed householders would go for life-long refuge to the Tathāgata.

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, and four different-colored birds coming from the four directions fell at his feet and turned entirely white: this fourth great dream appeared to let him know that people from the four castes—brahmans, noble-warriors, merchants, and laborers—having gone forth from the home life into homelessness in the Dhamma & Vinaya taught by the Tathāgata, would realize unexcelled release.

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, and he walked back & forth on top of a giant mountain of excrement but was not soiled by the excrement: this fifth great dream appeared to let him know that the Tathāgata would receive gifts of robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites to cure the sick, but he would use them unattached to them, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to them), and discerning the escape from them.

“When the Tathāgata—worthy & rightly self-awakened—was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, these five great dreams appeared to him.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.196 Supina Sutta. Dreams by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net.

Snp 3.11 Nālakasutta: Nālaka the Seer

Asita the seer, in his mid-day meditation,
saw the Group of Thirty—
Sakka the king, and devas dressed in pure white
     exultant, ecstatic—
holding up banners, cheering wildly,
& on seeing the devas so joyful & happy,
having paid his respects, he said:

“Why is the deva community
     so wildly elated?
Why are they holding up banners
& waving them around?
Even after the war with the Asuras
     —when victory was the devas’,
     the Asuras defeated—
even then there was nothing hair-raising like this.
Seeing what marvel
are the devas so joyful?
     They whistle,
     they sing,
     play music,
     clap their hands,
     dance.
So I ask you, who live on Mount Meru’s summit.
Please dispel my doubt quickly, dear sirs.”

“The Bodhisatta, the foremost jewel,
     unequaled,
has been born for welfare & happiness
     in the human world,
in a town in the Sakyan countryside,
     Lumbini.
That’s why we’re contented, so wildly elated.
He, the highest of all beings,
the ultimate person,
a bull among men, highest of all people,
will set turning the Wheel [of Dhamma]
in the forest named after the seers,
like a strong, roaring lion,
the conqueror of beasts.”

Hearing these words,
Asita quickly descended [from heaven]
and went to Suddhodana’s dwelling.
There, taking a seat, he said to the Sakyans:
     “Where is the prince?
     I, too, want to see him.”
The Sakyans then showed
to the seer named Asita
     their son, the prince,
     like gold aglow,
burnished by a most skillful smith
in the mouth of the furnace,
blazing with glory, flawless in color.
On seeing the prince blazing like flame,
pure like the bull of the stars
going across the sky
     —the burning sun,
     released from the clouds of autumn—
he was exultant, filled with abundant rapture.
The devas held in the sky
a many-spoked sunshade
of a thousand circles.
Gold-handled whisks
waved up & down,
but those holding the whisks & the sunshade
     couldn’t be seen.

The coiled-haired seer
named Dark Splendor,
seeing the boy, like an ornament of gold
on the red woolen blanket,
a white sunshade held over his head,
received him, joyful in mind & pleased.
And on receiving the bull of the Sakyans,
longingly, the master of mantras & signs
exclaimed with a confident mind:
     “This one is unsurpassed,
     the highest of the biped race.”

Then, foreseeing his own imminent departure,
he, dejected, shed tears.
On seeing him weeping,
the Sakyans asked:
     “But surely there will be
     no danger for the prince?”
On seeing the Sakyans’ concern
he replied, “I foresee for the prince
     no harm.
Nor will there be any danger for him.
This one’s not insignificant: Be assured.
     This prince will touch
     the ultimate self-awakening.
He, seeing the utmost purity,
will set rolling the Wheel of Dhamma
through sympathy for the welfare of many.
His holy life will spread far & wide.

     But as for me,
my life here has no long remainder.
My death will take place before then.
     I won’t get to hear
the Dhamma of this one with the peerless role.
That’s why I’m stricken,
     afflicted, & pained.”

He, having brought the Sakyans
abundant rapture,
the follower of the holy life
left the inner chamber and,
out of sympathy for his nephew,
urged him on toward the Dhamma
of the one with the peerless role:
“When you hear from another the word,
     ‘Awakened One,’
or ‘Attaining self-awakening,
he lays open the path of the Dhamma,’
go there and, asking him yourself,
     follow the holy life
under that Blessed One.”

Instructed by the one
whose mind was set on his benefit,
          Such,
seeing in the future the utmost purity,
Nālaka, who had laid up a store of merit,
awaited the Victor expectantly,
guarding his senses.
On hearing word of the Victor’s
turning of the foremost wheel,
     he went, he saw
the bull among seers. Confident,
he asked the foremost sage
about the utmost sagacity,
now that Asita’s forecast
had come to pass.

Nālaka:
“Now that I know
Asita’s words to be true,
I ask you, Gotama,
you who have gone
to the beyond of all dhammas.
I’m intent on the homeless life;
I long for the almsround.
Tell me sage, when asked,
the highest state of sagacity.”

The Buddha:
“I’ll teach you
a sagacity          hard to do,
          hard to master.
Come now, I’ll tell you.
Be steadfast. Be firm.
Practice even-mindedness,
for in a village
there’s praise & abuse.
Ward off any flaw in the heart.
Go about calmed & not haughty.
High & low things will come up
like fire-flames in a forest.
Women seduce a sage.
     May they not seduce you.
Abstaining from sexual intercourse,
abandoning various sensual pleasures,
be unopposed, unattached,
to beings moving & still.
     ‘As I am, so are these.
     As are these, so am I.’
Drawing the parallel to
     yourself,
neither kill nor get others to kill.
Abandoning the wants & greed
where people run-of-the-mill are stuck,
     practice with vision,
     cross over this hell.

Stomach not full,
moderate in food,
modest,
not being greedy,
always not hungering for wants:
     One without hunger
     is one who’s unbound.

Having gone on his almsround, the sage
should then go to the forest,
     approaching the root of a tree,
     taking a seat.
The enlightened one, intent on jhāna,
should find delight in the forest,
should practice jhāna at the foot of a tree,
attaining his own satisfaction.
Then, at the end of the night,
he should go to the village,
     not delighting in an invitation
     or gift from the village.
Having gone to the village,
the sage should not go
forcing his way among families.
Cutting off chatter,
he shouldn’t utter a scheming word.
     ‘I got something,
     that’s fine.
     I got nothing,
     that, too, is good.’
Being such with regard to both,
he returns to the very same tree.
Wandering with his bowl in hand
     —not dumb,
     but seemingly dumb—
he shouldn’t despise a piddling gift
nor disparage the giver.
High & low are the practices
proclaimed by the contemplative.
They don’t go twice to the further shore.
This [unbinding] isn’t sensed only once.
In one who has no attachment—
the monk who has cut the stream,
abandoning what is
& isn’t a duty—
     no fever is found.

I’ll teach you
sagacity:Be like a razor’s edge.
Pressing tongue against palate,
     restrain your stomach.
Neither be lazy in mind,
nor have many thoughts.
Be free of raw stench,
     independent,
having the holy life as your aim.
Train in     solitude
          & the contemplative’s task,
     Solitude
     is called
     sagacity.
Alone, you truly delight
     & shine in the ten directions.

On hearing the fame of the enlightened
     —those who practice jhāna,
     relinquishing sensuality—
my disciple should foster
     all the more
     shame & conviction.

Know from the rivers
in clefts & in crevices:
Those in small channels flow
                    noisily,
     the great
     flow silent.

Whatever’s deficient
     makes noise.
Whatever is full
     is quiet.
The fool is like a half-empty pot;
one who is wise, a full lake.

A contemplative who speaks a great deal
     endowed with meaning:
     Knowing, he teaches the Dhamma;
     knowing, he speaks a great deal.
But he who,
     knowing, is restrained,
     knowing, doesn’t speak a great deal:
He is a sage
     worthy of sagehood.
He is a sage,
     his sagehood attained.”


Read this translation of Sn 3.11 Nālaka by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net.

Snp 3.2 Padhānasutta: Exertion

To me—
     my mind resolute in exertion
     near the river Nerañjarā,
     making a great effort,
     doing jhāna
     to attain rest from the yoke—

Nāmuci came,
     speaking words of compassion:
“You are ashen, thin.
     Death is in
     your presence.
Death
has 1,000 parts of you.
Only one part
is your life.
Live, good sir!
Life is better.
          Alive,
     you can do
     acts of merit.
Your living the holy life
and performing the fire sacrifice
will heap up much merit.
     What use is exertion to you?
Hard to follow
—the path of exertion—
hard to do, hard
to sustain.”

Saying these verses,
Māra stood in the Awakened One’s presence.
And to that Māra, speaking thus,
the Blessed One
said this:

“Kinsman of the heedless,
     Evil One,
come here for whatever purpose:
I haven’t, for merit,
even the least bit of need.
Those who have need of merit:
Those are the ones
Māra’s fit to address.

In me are
          conviction
          austerity,
          persistence,
          discernment.
Why, when my mind is resolute,
do you petition me
     to live?
This wind could burn up
     even river currents.
Why, when my mind is resolute,
shouldn’t my blood dry away?
As my blood dries up,
gall & phlegm dry up,
as muscles waste away,
the mind grows clearer;
mindfulness, discernment,
concentration stand
     more firm.
Staying in this way,
attaining the ultimate feeling,
the mind has no interest
in sensuality.
     See:
     a being’s
     purity!

Sensual passions are your first army.
Your second     is called Discontent.
Your third     is Hunger & Thirst.
Your fourth     is called Craving.
Fifth     is Sloth & Torpor.
Sixth     is called Cowardice.
Your seventh     is Uncertainty.
Hypocrisy & Stubbornness, your eighth.
Gains, Offerings, Fame, & Status
     wrongly gained,
and whoever would praise self
& disparage others:

That, Nāmuci, is your army,
the Dark One’s commando force.
A coward can’t defeat it,
but one having defeated it
     gains bliss.
Do I carry muñja grass?
I spit on my life.
Death in battle would be better for me
     than that I, defeated,
          survive.

Sinking here, they don’t appear,
     some brahmans & contemplatives.
They don’t know the path
by which those with good practices
          go.

Seeing the bannered force
     on all sides—
the troops, Māra
along with his mount—
I go into battle.
May they not budge me
     from
     my spot.
That army of yours,
that the world with its devas
     can’t overcome,
I will smash          with discernment—
as an unfired pot     with a stone.

Making my     resolve mastered,
               mindfulness well-established,
I will go about, from kingdom to kingdom,
training many disciples.
They—heedful, resolute in mind,
doing my bidding—
despite your wishes, will go
     where, having gone,
     there’s no grief.”

Māra:
“For seven years, I’ve dogged
the Blessed One’s steps,
but haven’t gained an opening
in the One Self-Awakened
     & glorious.
A crow circled a stone
the color of fat
     —’Maybe I’ve found
     something tender here.
     Maybe there’s something delicious’—
but not getting anything delicious there,
the crow went away.
Like the crow attacking the rock,
I weary myself with Gotama.”

As he was overcome with sorrow,
his lute fell from under his arm.
Then he, the despondent spirit,
          right there
     disappeared.


Read this translation of Snp 3.2 Padhānasutta: Exertion by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net.

Snp 3.1  Pabbajjāsutta: The Going Forth

I will praise the Going Forth,
how he went forth, the One with Eyes,
how he reasoned and chose the Going Forth.
     “Household life is confining,
          a realm of dust,
     while going forth
          is the open air.”
Seeing this, he went forth.

On going forth,
     he avoided evil deeds in body.
     Abandoning verbal misconduct,
     he purified his livelihood.
Then he, the Buddha, went to Rājagaha,
the mountain fortress of the Magadhans,
     and wandered for alms,
teeming with the foremost marks.
King Bimbisāra, standing in his palace, saw him,
and on seeing him, consummate in marks,
     said this:
“Look at this one, sirs.
How handsome, stately, pure!
How consummate his demeanor!
Mindful, his eyes downcast,
looking only a plow-length before him.
This one’s not like one
from a lowly lineage:
Have the royal messengers hurry
to see where this monk will go.”

They—the messengers dispatched—
followed behind him.
     “Where will this monk go?
     Where will his dwelling place be?”
As he went from house to house—
well-restrained, his sense-doors guarded,
     mindful, alert—
his bowl filled quickly.
Then he, the sage, completing his alms round,
left the city, headed for Mount Paṇḍava.
     “That’s where his dwelling will be.”
Seeing him go to his dwelling place,
three messengers sat down,
while one returned to tell the king.
“That monk, your majesty,
on the flank of Paṇḍava,
sits like a tiger, a bull,
a lion in a mountain cleft.”

Hearing the messenger’s words,
the noble-warrior king
straight away set out by royal coach,
for Mount Paṇḍava.
Going as far as the coach would go,
the noble-warrior king
got down from the coach,
went up on foot,
and on arrival sat down.
Sitting there,
he exchanged courteous greetings,
and after giving friendly greetings,
     said this:
“Young you are, and youthful,
in the first stage of youth,
consummate in stature & coloring
     like a noble-warrior by birth.
You would look glorious
     in the vanguard of an army,
     arrayed with an elephant squadron.
I offer you wealth : Enjoy it.
I ask your birth : Inform me.”

“Straight ahead, your majesty,
by the foothills of the Himalayas,
is a country consummate
in energy & wealth,
inhabited by Kosalans:
     Solar by clan,
     Sakyans by birth.
From that lineage I have gone forth,
but not in hope of sensuality.
Seeing the danger in sensuality
—and renunciation as rest—
          I go to strive.

     That’s where my heart delights.”


Read this translation of Snp 3.1 The Going Forth by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or SuttaFriends.org.

PLEASE NOTE:
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Snp 4.5 Paramaṭṭhakasutta: The Supreme Octet

When dwelling on views
     as “supreme,”
a person makes them
the utmost thing in the world,
&, from that, calls
all others inferior
and so he’s not gone beyond disputes.
When he sees his own advantage
in what’s seen, heard, sensed,
or in habits & practices,
seizing it there
he sees all else, all others,

                    as inferior.

That, too, say the skilled,
is a binding knot: that
in dependence on which
you regard another
     as inferior.
So a monk shouldn’t be dependent
     on what’s seen, heard, or sensed,
     or on habits & practices;
nor should he theorize a view in the world
     in connection with knowledge
     or habits & practices;
shouldn’t take himself
     to be “equal”;
shouldn’t think himself
     inferior or superlative.

Abandoning what he’d embraced,
     not clinging,
he doesn’t make himself dependent
even in connection with knowledge;
doesn’t follow a faction
among those who are split;
doesn’t fall back
on any view whatsoever.

One who isn’t inclined
toward either side
     —becoming or not-,
     here or beyond—
who has no entrenchment
when considering what’s grasped among doctrines,
hasn’t the least
theorized perception
with regard to what’s seen, heard, or sensed.
By whom, with what,
should he be pigeonholed
here in the world?
     —this brahman
     who hasn’t adopted views.

They don’t theorize, don’t yearn,
don’t adhere even to doctrines.

A brahman not led
by habits or practices,
gone to the beyond
     —Such—
     doesn’t fall back.


Read Sutta Nipāta 4.5 The Supreme Octet translated by Ṭhanissaro Bhikkhu on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net.