Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Place of Vipassana Among the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path

Dhamma talk given by Jotinanda Bhikkhu recently in Sabah.

Ven. Jotinanda is a Malaysian Theravāda Buddhist monk. He was ordained a sāmaṇera (novice monk) in Malaysia in 2001 and later a bhikkhu (full-fledged monk) in Myanmar in 2002. He is interested in Buddhist meditation, especially vipassanā meditation, and also the study of the Dhamma (teaching of the Buddha), particularly where it deals with the practice of vipassanā meditation.

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In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Saṃyutta Nikāya, Mahāvagga, Saccasaṃyutta, Sutta 11), the Buddha declared for the first time the basic foundation of his teaching: the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths.

The first noble truth is the noble truth of suffering (dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ). In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha gave a list of things which are suffering: birth, ageing, sickness, death, meeting with people and things that are displeasing, separation from people and things that are pleasing, and not to have one’s wish fulfilled. We can also add to this list sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. But at the end of the list in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha said: “In short the five-aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.”

So the truth of suffering is, in short, these five-aggregates subject to clinging: the aggregate of materiality, feeling, perception, mental-formations, and consciousness, subject to clinging. If we simplify them we can say that they are mundane mental and physical phenomena (nāma-rūpa). They are the truth of suffering because they have the nature of being subjected to suffering.

The second noble truth is the noble truth of the cause of suffering (dukkha-samudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ). The Buddha traced the cause of suffering to craving that leads to renewed existence or rebirth, that is accompanied by delight and lust, that finds delight here and there in one existence or another. It is this craving that compels and propels beings, at the time of death, to seek rebirth and so be embroiled into yet another cycle of birth, aging, sickness, and death, another cycle of suffering. And as long as craving is present the cycle of suffering will go on and on from one birth to another, each birth marking the beginning of another cycle of suffering.

The third noble truth is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ). Here the Buddha gave us hope. Even though there is suffering in the world there can also be an end to it. Suffering ceases, according to the Buddha, when there is the complete fading away and cessation of its cause i.e. craving.

Not only did the Buddha said that suffering can cease, he even gave us the way of practice, the method to bring suffering to an end. This is the fourth noble truth, the noble truth of the way that leads to the cessation of suffering (dukkha-nirodha-gāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ). This is the Noble Eightfold Path consisting of right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

The Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths, these are the basic foundation of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha taught in ancient Northern India for forty five years and all the discourses that he delivered during this time were, one way or another, based on the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths. But given that these are the basic foundation of the Buddha’s teaching, where does vipassanā comes in? Where can we place vipassanā in the scheme of the Noble Eightfold Path and Four Noble Truths?

Click Link to Read More: Reflection on the Dhamma


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Other Books on Vipassana (Mindfulness)
Till Stocks Last!


Other books about Four Noble Truth

  The four noble truths   Buddha Heart, Buddha Mind: Living the Four Noble Truths   The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching