Conveying the Nature of Reality

The Sutta of Conveying the Nature of Reality

(Also known as The Turning of the Wheel of Dharma)

SN 56.11; S v 420

Translated by Christopher J. Ash

 

The flourishing one was staying in Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana, and at this time he instructed the group of five mendicants:

“There are these two extremes, Almsmen, that should not be practised by those who are home-leavers.

“Which two? Precisely this: indulging in sensual pleasures – which is low and vulgar, ordinary, ignoble, and not connected to the goal. And, precisely this: being devoted to suppressing oneself – which is stressful, ignoble and not connected to the goal.

Not going to either extreme, the middle way is completely awakened to by a tathāgata. It brings insight and comprehension; and leads to peace, higher knowledge, complete awakening, to nibbāna.

So what is this middle way completely awakened to by a tathāgata? Just this ennobling eightfold way of life, that is: appropriate view, intention, speech, livelihood, effort, present-moment-recollection, and presence.

This is the middle way completely awakened to by a tathāgata, which brings insight and comprehension; and leads to peace, higher knowledge, complete awakening, and to nibbāna.

Now, Almsmen, for the spiritually ennobled ones, there is dukkha: birth-dukkha, illness-dukkha, death-dukkha, association-with-the-unpleasing-dukkha, separation-from-the-pleasing-dukkha, not-getting-what-one-wants-dukkha. In short, clinging-to-the-fivefold-personality-processes-dukkha.

And, Almsmen, for the spiritually ennobled ones, there is the generation of dukkha. It is precisely with thirst that dukkha arises, bringing repeated rounds of entering into existence, accompanied by passion and delight, and seeking pleasure here and there. That is, thirst for sensual pleasures, thirst for becoming and thirst for non-becoming.

And, Almsmen, for the spiritually ennobled ones, there is the cessation of dukkha; which is the complete dissolution and cessation of exactly that thirst – the relinquishment of it, the rejection of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it.

And, Almsmen, for the spiritually ennobled ones, there is the way of living which is this cessation, namely: appropriate view, intention, speech, livelihood, effort, present-moment-recollection, and presence.

Insight, discernment, wisdom, knowledge and clarity, arose in me, freshly, in stages: ”This is dukkha; this dukkha needs to be properly comprehended; and, this dukkha has been properly comprehended.”

Insight, discernment, wisdom, knowledge and clarity, arose in me. freshly, in stages: ”This is the generation of dukkha; this generation of dukkha is to be abandoned; and, this, the generation of dukkha, has been abandoned.”

Insight, discernment, wisdom, knowledge and clarity, arose in me, freshly, in stages: ”This is the cessation of dukkha; this cessation of dukkha needs to be experienced personally; and, this cessation of dukkha has been experienced personally.”

Insight, discernment, wisdom, knowledge and clarity, arose in me, freshly, in stages: ”This is the way of living which is the cessation of dukkha; this way of living needs to be developed; and, this way of living which is the cessation of dukkha has been developed.”

Upon realising these twelve aspects, there arose in me fresh insight, discernment, wisdom, knowledge and clarity.

As long as my insight and vision, was not well purified, concerning these four realities just as they are, with their three levels, their twelve aspects, I did not, in this world with its progeny – its gods, its māras, its creator-god, its wanderers and priests, its super-humans, and humans – I did not claim to have completely realised full and unsurpassed awakening.

As soon as my insight and vision concerning these things, just as they are, was well purified, then did I claim to have completely realised this full and unsurpassed awakening.

Moreover, the insight and vision arose in me: ‘Immovable is my freedom. This is my last birth. Now there is no cycle of becoming.’”

So the flourishing one instructed them. Being uplifted, the five mendicants were delighted. And with this teaching, the stainless, dust-free vision arose in Kondañña: “Whatever is arising, in every respect it is ceasing.”

Upon the flourishing one conveying the nature of reality, the earth-devas exclaimed with one voice, “The incomparable nature of reality has been conveyed by the flourishing one at Isipatana, the deer sanctuary near Benares, and no recluse, brahmin, deva, māra, brahma, or other being in the world can hinder it.”

The lowest-heaven devas, having heard what the earth-devas said, exclaimed with one voice, “The incomparable nature of reality has been conveyed by the flourishing one at Isipatana, the deer sanctuary near Benares, and no recluse, brahmin, deva, māra, brahma, or other being in the world can hinder it.”

This utterance was echoed and re-echoed in the upper realms, and from lowest-heaven it was proclaimed in the second deva realm, [where Sakka rules], and then to Yama, and then to fourth deva realm, the Tusita heaven, and then up to the fifth deva realm, and on to the Beyond Signs realm.

The devas in the company of Brahma, having heard what the Beyond Signs devas said, proclaimed in one voice, “The incomparable nature of reality has been conveyed by the flourishing one at Isipatana, the deer sanctuary near Benares, and no recluse, brahmin, deva, māra, brahma, or other being in the world can hinder it.”

So it was, in a moment, an instant, a flash, that knowledge of the transmission of the nature of reality travelled up to the world of Brahma, and the ten thousand worlds system trembled, quaked and shook.

The flourishing one joyfully exclaimed: “So, friend Kondañña, you really got it! You really know!’

That is how Añña-Kondañña got his name: ‘Kondañña Who Knows.”

 

© Christopher J. Ash, 2015.

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