The Discourse about the Great Emancipation

[The Fourth Chapter for Recitation]

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[27: The Four Noble Things]

Then the Gracious One, having dressed in the morning time, after picking up his bowl and robe, entered Vesālī for alms. After walking for alms in Vesālī, when he was returning from the alms-round after the meal, after looking at Vesālī with an elephant's look, Comm: Buddhānaṁ ... saṅkhalikāni viya ekābaddhāni hutvā ṭhitāni, tasmā pacchato apalokanakāle na sakkā hoti gīvaṁ parivattetuṁ; the Buddhas' (bones) are bound together like a chain, therefore at the time they look behind, they are unable to turn the neck.01 he addressed venerable Ānanda, (saying): “This is the last time, Ānanda, there will be sight of Vesālī for the Realised One. Come Ānanda let us approach Bhaṇḍagāma.” Bhaṇḍa means goods, wares, merchandise, so the village was probably a market-town.02

“Very well, reverend Sir,” venerable Ānanda replied to the Gracious One. Then the Gracious One together with a great Community of monks arrived at Bhaṇḍagāma. There the Gracious One lived near Bhaṇḍagāma.

There the Gracious One said this to the monks: “Because of a lack of understanding and a lack of penetration, monks, of four things both you and I have been wandering and running along (in Saṁsāra) for a long time. Compare this with section 13 above, which is almost identical, but the four things there are the Four Noble Truths. Compare also with the summary of the teaching given at the end of most sections.03

Which four?

  1. Because of a lack of understanding and a lack of penetration of Noble Virtue The Commentary doesn't comment on this section and this and the next 3 terms do not seem to have been defined elsewhere either. Perhaps Ariyasīla would mean the Virtue section of the Eightfold Noble Path (Right Speech, Action and Livelihood); Ariyasamādhi the Concentrated (Development) section (Right Endeavour, Mindfulness and Concentration), Ariyapaññā the Wisdom section (Right View and Thought). Then Ariyavimutti would refer to Right Freedom (Sammāvimutti) and Right knowledge and Insight into Freedom (Sammāvimuttiñāṇadassana) in the extended Tenfold formula.04 both you and I have been wandering and running along (in Saṁsāra) Saṁsarita and Saṁsāra are both derived from the verb saṁsarati, to run on, run along. Saṁsāra implies running on from birth to birth.05 for a long time.

  2. Because of a lack of understanding and a lack of penetration of Noble Concentrated (Development) If the note above is correct then Ariyasamādhi refers to Right Endeavour, Mindfulness and Concentration, which means that Samādhi here must mean something more than simply concentration, being a concentrated development of the mind in various spheres.06 both you and I have been wandering and running along (in Saṁsāra) for a long time.

  3. Because of a lack of understanding and a lack of penetration of Noble Wisdom both you and I have been wandering and running along (in Saṁsāra) for a long time.

  4. Because of a lack of understanding and a lack of penetration of Noble Freedom both you and I have been wandering and running along (in Saṁsāra) for a long time.

(But now) this Noble Virtue has been understood and penetrated, this Noble Concentrated (Development) has been understood and penetrated, this Noble Wisdom has been understood and penetrated, this Noble Freedom has been understood and penetrated. Craving for continued existence has been cut off, what leads to rebirth has been exhausted, there is no continuation in existence.”

The Gracious One said this, and after saying this, the Fortunate One, the Teacher, said something more:

“Virtue, Concentrated (Development), Wisdom, and unsurpassed Freedom,
These things have been understood by the Famous Gotama, This verse seems to have been spoken about the Buddha, not by him (it also occurs, however, with the same ascription, at AN Bks. 4.1 and 7.66).07
Thus after knowing it deeply the Buddha declared the Teaching to the monks,
The Suffering-Ender, the Teacher, the Visionary One Cakkhumā, the Buddha has the physical-eye (maṁsacakkhu), the divine-eye (dibbacakkhu), the wisdom-eye (paññācakkhu), the Buddha-eye, and the All-Round-eye (samantacakkhu).08 who is Emancipated.”

* * *

There also the Gracious One, while living in Bhaṇḍagāma, spoke frequently to the monks about the Teaching, (saying):

“Such is virtue, such is concentration, such is wisdom, when virtue is well-developed it yields great fruit and brings great advantages in regard to concentration, when concentration is well-developed it yields great fruit and brings great advantages in regard to wisdom, when wisdom is well-developed the mind is completely liberated from the pollutants, that is to say: the pollutant of sensuality, the pollutant of (craving for) continued existence, the pollutant of ignorance.”