Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.1.1
Etaṃ Buddhāna sāsanaṃ (This is the teaching of the Buddhas)

The previous chapter has presented a collection of rather repetitive suttas with the intention for easy recitation from memory. There the Buddha has highlighted the purpose of walking on the path and its objective by emphasising the importance of developing oneself in the Noble Eightfold Path: ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo bhāvetabbo!

The present chapter now presents selected texts that depict the respective parts of the ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo in more detail. The famous introductory verses that are chosen to open this chapter express the essence of the teaching of the Buddhas in a few lines and present the well known summary of the Buddha’s teaching found in the Buddhavaggo of the Dhammapada.

They were enunciated by the Buddha with reference to a question that was tasked by Ānanda, who enquired whether all the Buddhas before him were to give exactly the same admonition and were performing the same Uposatha or whether they used to perform it differently. Ānanda had been dwelling on the thought that the Buddha had given detailed description about the respective lives, enlightenment, disciples etc. of the previous Buddhas but had nothing declared about the performance of Uposatha: ……uposatho pana akathito1, kiṃ nu kho tesampi ayameva uposatho, añño’’ti…… The Buddha replied that as to the contents of the teaching there was not a single difference but also related that the different previous Buddhas used to perform the Uposatha during varying periods of time and then closed with the verses given here.

These divide the ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo in its three segments, starting with the first line which refers to sīla with the respective links of sammāvāco, sammākammanto, sammā-ājīvo. If one follows these they enable and emphasize a base of living a life in harmony with others and oneself by abstaining from any unwholesome actions physical or vocal, which hurt or harm any other beings:–Tattha sabbapāpassāti sabbassa akusalakammassa–Thus: “All evil” is understood as any unwholesome action.

The second line emphasizes the importance of performing wholesome actions that support everyone’s peace and harmony. These positive actions can only be truly maintained by developing the second fragment of samādhi. Beneficial actions need the base of a determined and strong resolve of a concentrated mind and thus get matured by: sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati, sammāsamādhi:–Upasampadāti abhinikkhamanato2 paṭṭhāya3 yāva arahattamaggā kusalassa uppādanañceva uppāditassa ca bhāvanā. –“Performing”: leaving the householder’s life towards the path of arahantship by performing wholesome actions henceforth and cultivating wholesome states that have already arisen.

The ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo gets completed through the remaining sequence of developing the purifying insight of the wisdom of pañña on the base of the remaining links of sammāsaṅkappo and sammādiṭṭhi:–Sacittapariyodapananti pañcahi nīvaraṇehi attano cittassa vodāpanaṃ4 –“Purifying one’s mind”: the purification of one’s mind from the five hindrances5.

The stanzas close with the inspiring summary for everyone but especially for a meditator: ’Anūpavādo6 anūpaghāto7 , pāṭimokkhe ca saṃvaro8; mattaññutā9 ca bhattasmiṃ, pantañca10 sayanāsanaṃ; adhicitte11 ca āyogo, etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.’ – ‘Not to blame, not to harm, to live restrained in accordance with Dhamma, to be moderate in food, to dwell in secluded places and to devote oneself to mental concentration, this is the teaching of the Buddhas.’

Etaṃ buddhāna sāsananti sabbabuddhānaṃ ayamanusiṭṭhi12
“This is the teaching of the Buddhas”: this is the instruction of all the Buddhas

  1. akathito: a + kathito: not + spoken of; related; told
  2. abhinikkhamanato: retiring from the world, devoting oneself to an ascetic life
  3. paṭṭhāya: henceforth, since, after
  4. vodāpanaṃ: purification
  5. These hindrances, the pañca nīvaraṇāni will be taken up at 5.6
  6. anūpavādo: an +upavādo: not + finding fault, complainig
  7. anūpaghāto: an +upaghāto: not + injuring, hurting + and
  8. pāṭimokkhe ca saṃvaro – restraint that is binding for the Bhikkhus according to their rules and precepts laid down in the Vinaya
  9. mattaññutā: matta + aññutā: measure + knowing
  10. pantañca: pantaṃ + ca: remote, distant + and
  11. adhicitta: adhi + citta: higher + mind, meditative mind
  12. ayamanusiṭṭhi: ayam + anusiṭṭhi (pp. of anusāsati): this + instructed, advised
Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.1.1

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Last modified: Monday, 14 December 2015, 8:31 AM