Dhamma Topics and their Analysis
(Dhammatthavinicchayo)



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Dhamma Topics

1. The Three Marks

Tilakkhaṇa

from Aniccasuttaṁ, SN 22.45

1. Form (rūpa), monastics, is impermanent (anicca),
2. that which is impermanent is suffering (dukkha),
3. that which is suffering is without self (anatta). The three characteristics here are shown against the five components of mind and body, for the latter see section 4 below. This playing out of one set of factors against another is a characteristic of the discourse style.

That which is without self: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it should be seen with right wisdom as it really is. Seeing like this with right wisdom as it really is the mind becomes dispassionate, and liberated from the pollutants (āsava) without attachment.

1. Feelings (vedanā) are impermanent,
2. that which is impermanent is suffering,
3. that which is suffering is without self.

That which is without self: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it should be seen with right wisdom as it really is. Seeing like this with right wisdom as it really is the mind becomes dispassionate, and liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

1. Perceptions (saññā) are impermanent,
2. that which is impermanent is suffering,
3. that which is suffering is without self.

That which is without self: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it should be seen with right wisdom as it really is. Seeing like this with right wisdom as it really is the mind becomes dispassionate, and liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

1. Volitions (saṅkhāra) are impermanent,
2. that which is impermanent is suffering,
3. that which is suffering is without self.

That which is without self: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it should be seen with right wisdom as it really is. Seeing like this with right wisdom as it really is the mind becomes dispassionate, and liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

1. Consciousness (viññāṇa) is impermanent,
2. that which is impermanent is suffering,
3. that which is suffering is without self.

That which is without self: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it should be seen with right wisdom as it really is.

Seeing like this with right wisdom as it really is the mind becomes dispassionate, and liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

If, monastics, a monastic’s mind is dispassionate towards the form-element (rūpadhātu), it is liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

If, monastics, a monastic’s mind is dispassionate towards the feelings-element, it is liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

If, monastics, a monastic’s mind is dispassionate towards the perceptions-element, it is liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

If, monastics, a monastic’s mind is dispassionate towards the volitions-element, it is liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

If, monastics, a monastic’s mind is dispassionate towards the consciousness-element, it is liberated from the pollutants without attachment.

In liberation it is steady, in steadiness it is content, in contentment it is not disturbed, being undisturbed he personally attains Nibbāna.

Destroyed is rebirth (jāti),
accomplished is the spiritual life (brahmacariya),
done is what ought to be done,
there is no more of this mundane state - this he knows.

2. The Four Noble Truths

Cattāri Ariyasaccāni

from Khandasuttaṁ, SN 56.13

There are, monastics, these four noble truths.

Which four?

1. The noble truth of suffering (dukkha),
2. the noble truth of the arising of suffering (dukkhasamudaya),
3. the noble truth of the cessation of suffering (dukkhanirodha),
4. the noble truth of the practice leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā).

from Saccavibhaṅgasuttaṁ, MN 141 Spoken by Ven. Sāriputta.

1. Now what, venerable friends, is the noble truth of suffering?

Birth is suffering,
also old age is suffering,
also sickness is suffering,
also death is suffering,
also grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair, is suffering,
also not to obtain what one longs for is suffering,
in brief, the five components (of mind and bodily-form) (pañcakkhandha) that provide fuel for attachment are suffering.

2. Now what, venerable friends, is the noble truth of the arising of suffering?

It is that craving (taṇhā) which leads to continuation in existence, which is connected with enjoyment and passion, greatly enjoying this and that, as follows:

{1} Craving for sense pleasures (kāmataṇhā),
{2} craving for continuation (bhavataṇhā),
{3} craving for discontinuation (vibhavataṇhā).

This, venerable friends, is called the noble truth of the arising of suffering.

3. Now what, venerable friends, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering?

It is the complete fading away and cessation without remainder of that craving – liberation, letting go, release, and non-adherence.

This, venerable friends, is called the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.

4. Now what, venerable friends, is the noble truth of the practice leading to the cessation of suffering?

It is this noble path with eight factors, as follows:

{1} Right view (sammā diṭṭhi),
{2} right thought (sammā saṅkappa),
{3} right speech (sammā vācā),
{4} right action (sammā kamanta),
{5} right livelihood (sammā ājīvā),
{6} right endeavour (sammā vāyāma),
{7} right mindfulness (sammā sati),
{8} right concentration (sammā samādhi). For an analysis of the individual factors, see 21 below.

3. The Four Factors of a Stream-Enterer

Cattāri Sotāpattiyaṅgāni

from Saṅgītisuttaṁ, DN 32

There are four factors of a stream-enterer.

1. Here, venerable friends, a noble disciple is endowed with perfect confidence in the Buddha (thus):

Such is he (iti pi so), This and the next two are the most common chants reflecting on the Three Treasures. the Gracious One, the Worthy One, the Perfect Sambuddha, the one endowed with understanding and good conduct, the Fortunate One, the one who understands the worlds, the unsurpassed guide for those people who need taming, the Teacher of gods and men, the Buddha, the Gracious One.

2. Here, venerable friends, a noble disciple is endowed with perfect confidence in the Dhamma (thus):

The Dhamma has been well-proclaimed (svākkhāto) by the Gracious One, it is visible, not subject to time, inviting inspection, onward leading, and can be understood by the wise for themselves.

3. Here, venerable friends, a noble disciple is endowed with perfect confidence in the community (thus):

The Gracious One’s community of disciples are good in their practice (supaṭipanno), the Gracious One’s community of disciples are upright in their practice, the Gracious One’s community of disciples are systematic in their practice, the Gracious One’s community of disciples are correct in their practice, that is to say, the four pairs of persons, the eight individual persons, this is the Gracious One’s community of disciples, they are worthy of offerings, of hospitality, of gifts, and of reverential salutation, they are an unsurpassed field of merit for the world.

4. He is endowed with virtue (sīla) that is agreeable to the noble ones (thus): it is unbroken, It is because of this 4th factor that it is said that the stream-enterer does not break his basic virtuous practices. faultless, unspotted, unblemished, productive of freedom, praised by the wise, unattached to, leading to concentration.

4. The Five Components that provide Fuel for Attachment

Pañcūpādānakkhandhā

from Khandhasaṁyuttaṁ, SN 22.56

There are, monastics, these five components (of mind and bodily-form) that provide fuel for attachment (pañcūpādānakkhandhā).

What five?

1. The bodily-form (rūpa) component that provides fuel for attachment,
2. the feelings (vedana) component that provides fuel for attachment,
3. the perceptions (saññā) component that provides fuel for attachment,
4. the volitions (saṅkhāra) component that provides fuel for attachment,
5. the consciousness (viññāṇa) component that provides fuel for attachment.

1. And what, monastics, is bodily-form?

The four great elementals (mahābhūta) and bodily-form derived from the great elementals.

This, monastics, is said to be bodily-form.

2. And what, monastics, are feelings?

There is, monastics, this group of six feelings:

{1} Feeling arising from eye-contact (cakkhusamphassajā),
{2} feeling arising from ear-contact,
{3} feeling arising from nose-contact,
{4} feeling arising from tongue-contact,
{5} feeling arising from body-contact,
{6} feeling arising from mind-contact.

This, monastics, is said to be feelings.

3. And what, monastics, are perceptions?

There is, monastics, this group of six perceptions:

{1} The perception of forms (rūpasaññā),
{2} the perception of sounds,
{3} the perception of smells,
{4} the perception of tastes,
{5} the perception of tangibles,
{6} the perception of thoughts.

This, monastics, is said to be perceptions.

4. And what, monastics, are volitions?

There is, monastics, this group of six intentions:

{1} An intention based on forms (rūpasañcetanā),
{2} an intention based on sounds,
{3} an intention based on smells,
{4} an intention based on tastes,
{5} an intention based on tangibles,
{6} an intention based on thoughts.

This, monastics, is said to be volitions.

5. And what, monastics, is consciousness?

There is, monastics, this group of six consciousnesses:

{1} Eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññāṇaṁ),
{2} ear-consciousness,
{3} nose-consciousness,
{4} tongue-consciousness,
{5} body-consciousness,
{6} mind-consciousness.

This, monastics, is said to be consciousness.

5. The Six Elements

Cha Dhātuyo

from MN 140, Dhātuvibhaṅgasuttaṁ

There are, monastic, these six elements:

1. The earth element,
2. the water element,
3. the fire element,
4. the wind element,
5. the space element,
6. the consciousness element. The elements are sometimes listed as just the first four, and in later texts as the expanded six we find here.

1. And what, monastic, is the earth element?

The earth element may be internal or may be external.

And what, monastic, is the internal earth element?

Whatever is inside, in oneself, that is hard or has become solid, and is attached to, like this:

{1} Hairs of the head, The following analysis of the parts of the body is found frequently in the texts, particularly as a subject for mindfulness (sati) meditation on the body; see section 15 below. Here the constituents are divided between those that are principally hard, under the earth element, and those that are more watery below.
{2} body hairs,
{3} nails,
{4} teeth,
{5} skin,
{6} flesh,
{7} sinews,
{8} bones,
{9} bone-marrow,
{10} kidneys,
{11} heart,
{12} liver,
{13} pleura,
{14} spleen,
{15} lungs,
{16} intestines,
{17} mesentery,
{18} undigested food,
{19} excrement,

or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is hard or has become solid, and is attached to, this, monastic, is said to be the internal earth element.

Now, that which is the internal earth element, and that which is the external earth element, is only the earth element: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom, one loses interest in the earth element, one detaches the mind from the earth element.

2. And what, monastic, is the water element?

The water element may be internal or may be external.

And what, monastic, is the internal water element?

Whatever is inside, in oneself, that is water, or has become watery, and is attached to, like this:

{20} Bile,
{21} phlegm,
{22} pus,
{23} blood,
{24} sweat,
{25} fat,
{26} tears,
{27} grease,
{28} spit,
{29} mucus,
{30} synovial fluid,
{31} urine,

or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is water, or has become watery, and is attached to, that, monastic, is said to be the internal water element.

Now, that which is the internal water element, and that which is the external water element, is only the water element: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom, one loses interest in the water element, one detaches the mind from the water element.

3. And what, monastic, is the fire element?

The fire element may be internal or may be external.

And what, monastic, is the internal fire element?

Whatever is inside, in oneself, that is fire, or has become fiery, and is attached to, like this:

That by which one is heated, by which one grows old, by which one is burned up, by which what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted, gets completely digested, or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is fire, or has become fiery, and is attached to, that, monastic, is said to be the internal fire element.

Now, that which is the internal fire element, and that which is the external fire element, is only the fire element: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom, one loses interest in the fire element, one detaches the mind from the fire element.

4. And what, monastic, is the wind element?

The wind element may be internal or may be external.

And what, monastic, is the internal wind element?

Whatever is inside, in oneself, that is wind, or has become windy, and is attached to, like this:

Winds that go up, winds that go down, winds in the bowels, winds in the belly, winds that go through the limbs, in-breath, out-breath, or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is wind, or has become windy, and is attached to, this, monastic, is said to be the internal wind element.

Now, that which is the internal wind element, and that which is the external wind element, is only the wind element: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom, one loses interest in the wind element, one detaches the mind from the wind element.

5. And what, monastic, is the space element?

The space element may be internal or may be external.

And what, monastic, is the internal space element?

Whatever is inside that is space, or has become spacy, and is attached to, like this:

Ear-holes, nose-holes, the door of the mouth, and that by which what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted is swallowed, that place where what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted settles, and the lower part by which that which is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted goes out, or whatever else there is that is inside, in oneself, that is space, or has become spacy, airy, or has become airy, open, or has become open, untouched by flesh and blood, and is attached to, that, monastic, is said to be the internal space element.

Now, that which is the internal space element, and that which is the external space element, is only the space element: This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self, like this it ought to be seen, as it really is, with right wisdom.

Having seen it like this, as it really is, with right wisdom, one loses interest in the space element, one detaches the mind from the space element.

6. Then there remains consciousness, purified and cleansed.

What does one cognise with that consciousness?

{1} One cognises: Pleasant,
{2} one cognises: Pain,
{3} one cognises: Neither-painful-nor-pleasant. These are three types of feeling (vedanā) that can be felt.

{1} A contact, monastic, that is experienced as pleasant arises conditioned by pleasant feeling. Experiencing a pleasant feeling one knows: I am experiencing a pleasant feeling. With the cessation of the contact experienced as pleasant, whatever feeling arising from that, that is to be experienced as pleasant, the contact arising conditioned by pleasant feeling, that ceases, that is allayed, that he knows.

{2} A contact, monastic, that is experienced as painful arises conditioned by painful feeling. Experiencing a painful feeling one knows: I am experiencing a painful feeling. With the cessation of the contact experienced as painful, whatever feeling arising from that, that is to be experienced as painful, the contact arising conditioned by painful feeling, that ceases, that is allayed, that he knows.

{3} A contact, monastic, that is experienced as neither-painful-nor-pleasant arises conditioned by neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Experiencing a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling one knows: I am experiencing a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. With the cessation of the contact experienced as neither-painful-nor-pleasant, whatever feeling arising from that, that is to be experienced as neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, the contact arising conditioned by neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, that ceases, that is allayed, that he knows.

6. The Ten Types of Wholesome Deeds

Dasa Kusalakammapathā

from Cundasuttaṁ, AN 10.176

1. Purity by way of body (kāya) is threefold,
2. purity by way of speech (vācā) is fourfold,
3. purity by way of mind (mano) is threefold.

What is the purity by way of body which is threefold?

1. Here, someone, having given up killing living creatures (pāṇātipāta), refrains from killing living creatures.

Having put the stick aside, having put the sword aside, bashful, sympathetic, he lives compassionate and benefitting all living beings.

2. Having given up taking what has not been given (adinnādāna), he refrains from taking what has not been given.

Whatever wealth and provisions belong to another, whether in the village, or the wilderness, he does not steal whatever has not been given.

3. Having given up sexual misconduct (kāmesumicchācāra), he refrains from sexual misconduct.

{1} Whatever (women) are protected by mother,
{2} protected by father,
{3} protected by mother and father,
{4} protected by brother,
{5} protected by sister,
{6} protected by relatives,
{7} protected by clan,
{8} protected by Dhamma,
{9} have a husband,
{10} who are wards,

or even one who has been garlanded (in engagement), not offending against such in practice.

This is the purity by way of body which is threefold.

What is the purity by way of speech which is fourfold?

4. Here, someone, having given up false speech (musāvāda), refrains from false speech.

If to either a council, an assembly, a gathering of relatives, a gild gathering, or a royal court he is brought as a witness (and told): Come friend, what you know, that you speak; then not knowing he says: ‘I do not know’, or knowing he says: ‘I know’, not seeing he says: ‘I did not see’, or seeing he says: ‘I saw’.

Not for the sake of his self, or for the sake of another or for the sake of a trifling material gain, does he speak words that amount to false speech.

5. Having given up malicious speech (pisuṇavācā), he refrains from malicious speech.

Having heard it from here, he does not announce it there in order to break those people up, or, having heard it from there, he doesn’t announce it here in order to break these people up.

Thus he reconciles, reunites and rejoins those who have been broken up, delighting in concord, devoted to concord, rejoicing in concord, he is a speaker of words that bring concord.

6. Having given up rough speech (pharusavācā), he refrains from rough speech.

Whatever words are blameless, pleasing to the ear, loving, heart-endearing, polite, agreeable to the many-folk, pleasing to the many-folk, he is a speaker of such words.

7. Having given up frivolous talk (samphappalāpā), he refrains from frivolous talk.

He is one who speaks on time, who speaks truthfully, who speaks with meaning, who speaks on Dhamma, who speaks on discipline. He is a speaker of timely words worthy of recording, that are reasonable, to the point, and endowed with meaning.

This is the purity by way of speech which is fourfold.

What is the purity by way of mind which is threefold?

8. Here someone is without avarice (anabhijjhālū).

Whatever wealth and provisions belong to another, he is not avaracious for that, (thinking): Alas, what is another’s, that (should be) mine.

9. He is someone with good-will (abyāpannacitta), with intentions that are not corrupt, (thinking):

These beings who are enemies, may they be free from oppression and untroubled, may they take care of themselves and be happy.

10. He is someone with right view (sammādiṭṭhika), who sees correctly, (thinking):

{1} There are gifts,
{2} there are offerings,
{3} there are sacrifices,
{4} there are fruit and result for well-done and badly-done deeds,
{5} there is this world,
{6} there is the next world,
{7} there are (obligations towards) mother,
{8} there are (obligations towards) father,
{9} there are spontaneously born (heavenly) beings,
{10} there are in this world monastics and brahmins who have practiced and attained correctly, those who, themselves having directly realised it with their deep knowledge, make known this world and the next world.

This is the purity by way of mind which is threefold.

These are the ten types of wholesome deeds.

7. The Twelve Factors of Conditional Origination

Dvādasa Paṭiccasamuppādaṅgāni

from Vibhaṅgasuttaṁ, SN 12.2

And what, monastics, is conditional origination (paṭiccasamuppāda)?

1. With ignorance (avijjā) as condition, monastics, there are volitions,
2. with volitions (saṅkhāra) as condition: consciousness,
3. with consciousness (viññāṇa) as condition: mind and bodily-form,
4. with mind and bodily-form (nāmarūpa) as condition: the six sense-spheres,
5. with the six sense-spheres (chāḷayatana) as condition: contact,
6. with contact (phassa) as condition: feeling,
7. with feeling (vedanā) as condition: craving,
8. with craving (taṇhā) as condition: attachment,
9. with attachment (upadāna) as condition: continuation,
10. with continuation (bhava) as condition: birth,
11. with birth (jāti) as condition:
12. old age, death (jarāmaraṇa), grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair (sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsa) (all) arise, and so there is an origination of this whole mass of suffering.

12. And what, monastics, is old-age and death?

For the various beings in the various classes of beings there is aging, agedness, broken teeth, greying hair, and wrinkled skin; the dwindling away of the life span, the decay of the sense faculties.

This is called old age.

For the various beings in the various classes of beings there is a fall, a falling away, a breaking up, a disappearance, a dying, a death, a making of time; the break up of the components (of mind and bodily-form), the throwing off of the body, a cutting off of the life-faculty.

This is called death.

This is old-age, and this is death.

This, monastics, is called old-age and death.

11. And what, monastics, is birth?

For the various beings in the various classes of beings there is birth, being born, appearing, arising, turning up, the manifestation of the components (of mind and bodily-form), the acquisition of the sense-spheres.

This, monastics, is called birth.

10. And what, monastics, is continuation?

There are, monastics, three continuations:

{1} Continuation in the sense worlds,
{2} continuation in the form worlds,
{3} continuation in the formless worlds.

This, monastics, is called continuation.

9. And what, monastics, is attachment?

There are, monastics, these four attachments:

{1} Attachment to sense pleasures,
{2} attachment to views,
{3} attachment to virtue and practice,
{4} attachment to self-theories.

This, monastics, is called attachment.

8. And what, monastics, is craving?

There are, monastics, these six cravings:

{1} Craving for forms,
{2} craving for sounds,
{3} craving for smells,
{4} craving for tastes,
{5} craving for tangibles,
{6} craving for thoughts.

This, monastics, is called craving.

7. And what, monastics, is feeling?

There are, monastics, these six feelings:

{1} Feeling arising from eye-contact,
{2} feeling arising from ear-contact,
{3} feeling arising from nose-contact,
{4} feeling arising from tongue-contact,
{5} feeling arising from body-contact,
{6} feeling arising from mind-contact.

This, monastics, is called feeling.

6. And what, monastics, is contact?

There is, monastics, a group of these six contacts:

{1} Eye-contact,
{2} ear-contact,
{3} nose-contact,
{4} tongue-contact,
{5} body-contact,
{6} mind-contact.

This, monastics, is called contact.

5. And what, monastics, are the six sense-spheres?

{1} Eye sense-sphere,
{3} ear sense-sphere,
{3} nose sense-sphere,
{4} tongue sense-sphere,
{5} body sense-sphere,
{6} mind sense-sphere.

This, monastics, is called the six sense-spheres.

4. And what, monastics, is mind and bodily-form?

{1} Feeling,
{2} perception,
{3} intention,
{4} application of mind.

This is called mind.

The four great elementals and bodily-form derived from the great elementals.

This is called bodily-form.

This is mind, and this is bodily-form.

This, monastics, is called mind and bodily-form.

3. And what, monastics, is consciousness?

There are these six consciousnesses, monastics:

{1} Eye-consciousness,
{2} ear-consciousness,
{3} nose-consciousness,
{4} tongue-consciousness,
{5} body-consciousness,
{6} mind-consciousness.

This, monastics, is called consciousness.

2. And what, monastics, are volitions?

There are these three volitions, monastics:

{1} Volitions expressed by way of body,
{2} volitions expressed by way of speech,
{3} volitions expressed by way of mind.

These, monastics, are called volitions.

1. And what, monastics, is ignorance?

{1} Whatever, monastics, is not knowing suffering,
{2} not knowing the origination of suffering,
{3} not knowing the cessation of suffering,
{4} not knowing the path leading to the cessation of suffering.

This, monastics, is called ignorance.

1. With ignorance as condition, monastics, there are volitions,
2. with volitions as condition: consciousness,
3. with consciousness as condition: mind and bodily-form,
4. with mind and bodily-form as condition: the six sense-spheres,
5. with the six sense-spheres as condition: contact,
6. with contact as condition: feeling,
7. with feeling as condition: craving,
8. with craving as condition: attachment,
9. with attachment as condition: continuation,
10. with continuation as condition: birth,
11. with birth as condition:
12. old age, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair (all) arise, and so there is an origination (samudaya) of this whole mass of suffering.

1. But from the complete fading away and cessation of ignorance, there is the cessation of volitions,
2. from the cessation of volitions, the cessation of consciousness,
3. from the cessation of consciousness, the cessation of mind and bodily-form,
4. from the cessation of mind and bodily-form, the cessation of the six sense-spheres,
5. from the cessation of the six sense-spheres, the cessation of contact,
6. from the cessation of contact, the cessation of feeling,
7. from the cessation of feeling, the cessation of craving,
8. from the cessation of craving, the cessation of attachment,
9. from the cessation of attachment, the cessation of continuation,
10. from the cessation of continuation, the cessation of birth,
11. from the cessation of birth:
12. old age, death, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair (all) cease, and so there is a cessation (nirodha) of this whole mass of suffering.