Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa
‘Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti.
When the Buddha repeatedly emphasises sammādiṭṭhi being the forerunner, preceding all other parts of the Noble Eightfold Path, it cannot be misinterpreted as mere chronological order. Whenever the Buddha stresses this, not only in the Mahācattārīsakasutta, but also in various other suttas1 this needs to be rightly understood by anyone walking the path: ‘‘Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, dukkhe ñāṇaṃ, dukkhasamudaye ñāṇaṃ, dukkhanirodhe ñāṇaṃ, dukkhanirodhagāminiyā paṭipadāya ñāṇaṃ, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi.” Only if sammādiṭṭhi is fully understood (and achieved) in its three dimensions will it generate a necessary and appropriate foundation for one’s proper intention and zeal to accomplish the Four Noble Truths in their twelvefold ways, as explained in the Dhammacakkappavattanasutta.2 This fundamental motivation to realize all remaining parts of the Eightfold Noble Path is based on proper discrimination of the knowledge of the truth of suffering, the knowledge of the obligation of what ought to be done and the knowledge of the fact that the three rounds for all the four truths have been realized3 – this understanding lays the base for proper effort to achieve one’s goal. Then every other constituent of the path will be pursued with sammādiṭṭhi, the proper knowledge that any micchā action necessarily will result in dukkha within and without and will foster the determination to walk the path of dukkhanirodhagāminiyā paṭipadāya to the end.
The Mahācattārīsakasuttavaṇṇanā highlights that there are two kinds of sammādiṭṭhi as forerunner, sammādiṭṭhi derived from Vipassanā and sammādiṭṭhi that belongs to the path: ‘Sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hotīti dvidhā sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti purecārikā vipassanāsammādiṭṭhi ca maggasammādiṭṭhi ca.’
It is on the base of sammādiṭṭhi gained through Vipassanā, which investigates the stages of mental conditioned reactions (saṅkhāra) as aniccā, dukkhā and anattā, that the stage of maggasammādiṭṭhi is achieved - that is through perfection by thorough examination, removing and extinction of all defilements, similar to sprinkling cold water from a jar on the head a thousand times: - ‘Vipassanāsammādiṭṭhi tebhūmakasaṅkhāre aniccādivasena parivīmaṃsati4; maggasammādiṭṭhi pana parivīmaṃsanapariyosāne5 bhūmiladdhaṃ6 vaṭṭaṃ samugghāṭayamānā7 vūpasamayamānā sītudakaghaṭasahassaṃ8 matthake āsiñcamānā viya uppajjati.’ Vipassanāsammādiṭṭhi is compared to a farmer, who, in order to be able to plant seeds, cuts down a tree and uses fire to clear the ground completely of all remains, whilst similarly vipassanāsammādiṭṭhi investigates in a first step in detail9 aniccā, dukkhā and anattā, then on the base of full examination/realization of these, maggasammādiṭṭhi arises through the desire to cut asunder all saṅkhāra. This aspiration and realization result in the saṅkhāra not-enduring and ultimate removal.
This selected passage from the Mahācattārīsakasutta describes, similar to the previous selections, in detail10 the proper approach for someone who sincerely follows the Buddha’s teaching. Again this is divided into the two categories:
· someone who has not yet reached the state of an ariyasāvako but is training, developing right view along with right livelihood and
· someone who has achieved the state of an ariyasāvako, attained supramundane right view and effortlessly maintains right livelihood.
The Buddha then summarizes:‘‘Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Sammādiṭṭhissa, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo pahoti, sammāsaṅkappassa sammāvācā pahoti, sammāvācassa sammākammanto pahoti, sammākammantassa sammāājīvo pahoti, sammāājīvassa sammāvāyāmo pahoti, sammāvāyāmassa sammāsati pahoti, sammāsatissa sammāsamādhi pahoti, sammāsamādhissa sammāñāṇaṃ pahoti, sammāñāṇassa sammāvimutti pahoti. Iti kho, bhikkhave, aṭṭhaṅgasamannāgato sekkho, dasaṅgasamannāgato arahā hoti. (Tatrapi sammāñāṇena aneke pāpakā akusalā dhammā vigatā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti)11.” - “Therefore, Bhikkhus, right view comes first. And how, Bhikkhus, does right view come first? It is on the base of right view that right thought originates. And it is on base of right thought that speech originates. And it is on base of right speech that right action originates. And it is on base of right action that right livelihood originates. And it is on base of right livelihood that right effort originates. And it is on base of right effort that right awareness originates. And it is on base of right mindfulness that right concentration originates. And it is on base of right concentration that right knowledge originates. And it is on base of right knowledge that right liberation originates. In this way, Bhikkhus, the one under training is endowed with eight factors, one who is an Arahant, is endowed with ten factors. (In this way through right knowledge manifold unwholesome states are gone and one has arrived at full perfection).”
“Tatra, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti. Kathañca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgamā hoti? Sammādiṭṭhissa, bhikkhave, micchādiṭṭhi nijjiṇṇā12 hoti. Ye ca micchādiṭṭhipaccayā aneke pāpakā akusalā dhammā sambhavanti te cassa nijjiṇṇā honti. Sammādiṭṭhipaccayā aneke kusalā dhammā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Sammāsaṅkappassa, bhikkhave, micchāsaṅkappo nijjiṇṇo hoti…pe… sammāvācassa, bhikkhave, micchāvācā nijjiṇṇā hoti… sammākammantassa, bhikkhave, micchākammanto nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāājīvassa, bhikkhave, micchāājīvo nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāvāyāmassa, bhikkhave, micchāvāyāmo nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāsatissa, bhikkhave, micchāsati nijjiṇṇā hoti… sammāsamādhissa, bhikkhave, micchāsamādhi nijjiṇṇo hoti… sammāñāṇassa, bhikkhave, micchāñāṇaṃ nijjiṇṇaṃ hoti… sammāvimuttassa, bhikkhave, micchāvimutti nijjiṇṇā hoti. Ye ca micchāvimuttipaccayā aneke pāpakā akusalā dhammā sambhavanti te cassa nijjiṇṇā honti. Sammāvimuttipaccayā ca aneke kusalā dhammā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti.” – “Therefore, Bhikkhus, right view comes first. And how, Bhikkhus, does right view come first? It is, Bhikkhus, on the base of right view that wrong view gets eliminated. The manifold unwholesome states that arise on the base of wrong view also get eliminated and the manifold wholesome states that arise on the base of right view get developed and fulfilled. Likewise, Bhikkhus, on base of right thought wrong thought gets eliminated; ……; on base of right speech wrong speech gets eliminated; ……; on base of right action wrong action gets eliminated;……; on base of right livelihood wrong livelihood gets eliminated;……; on base of right effort wrong effort gets eliminated;……; on base of right awareness wrong awareness gets eliminated;……; on base of right concentration wrong concentration gets eliminated;……; on base of right knowledge wrong knowledge gets eliminated;……and on base of right liberation wrong liberation gets eliminated. The manifold unwholesome states that arise on the base of wrong liberation also get eliminated and the manifold wholesome states that arise on the base of right liberation get developed and fulfilled.”
Even so this section on micchāājīvo and sammāājīvo is clearly addressed to the Bhikkhus; its essence will be the same for laymen and monks alike13. Making all efforts to pursue the path on the base of sammādiṭṭhi will serve beneficial results to one and all!
1. see Pubbaṅgamasuttaṃ, quoted at introduction to lesson 3.2.2, but also Avijjāsuttaṃ, Maggasaṃyuttaṃ, Mahāvaggo, Saṃyuttanikāyo and Vijjāsuttaṃ, Samaṇasaññāvaggo, Dasakanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo
3. They are fulfilled twelvefold: tiparivaṭṭaṃ dvādasākāraṃ yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇadassanaṃ suvisuddhaṃ ahosi. by realizing each one in the following manner: idaṃ—pariññeyyan’ti me—pariññātan’ti—(first noble truth); — idaṃ—pahātabban’ti me—pahīnan’ti me—(second noble truth); — idaṃ—sacchikātabban’ti me—sacchikatan’ti me—(third noble truth);—idaṃ—bhāvetabban’ti me—bhāvitan’ti me—(fourth noble truth).
4. parivīmaṃsati: examine
5. parivīmaṃsanapariyosāne: parivīmaṃsana + pariyosāne: thorough examination + conclusion, perfection
6. bhūmiladdhaṃ: bhūmi + laddhaṃ: stage, state + achieved, gained, obtained
7. samugghāṭayamānā: removal
8. sītudakaghaṭasahassaṃ: sīta + udaka + ghaṭa + sahassaṃ: cold + water + vessel + thousand
9. Yathā hi khettaṃ kurumāno kassako paṭhamaṃ araññe rukkhe chindati, pacchā aggiṃ deti, so aggi paṭhamaṃ chinne rukkhe anavasese jhāpeti, evameva vipassanāsammādiṭṭhi paṭhamaṃ aniccādivasena saṅkhāre vīmaṃsati, maggasammādiṭṭhi tāya vīmaṃsanatthaṃ saṅkhāre puna appavattivasena samugghāṭayamānā uppajjati, sā duvidhāpi idha adhippetā.
11. The quote in brackets appears in the Chatta Saṅgayana Tipiṭaka published by VRI. It seems to say, that for an Arahant the possession of the last two factors is realized by his own evaluating knowledge and realization that all impurities have been destroyed along with the fruit thereoff and the attainment of Arahantship has been experienced as freedom from all defilements: ‘Sammāñāṇassa sammāvimuttīti ettha pana maggasammāsamādhimhi ṭhitassa maggapaccavekkhaṇaṃ sammāñāṇaṃ pahoti, phalasammāsamādhimhi ṭhitassa phalapaccavekkhaṇaṃ sammāñāṇaṃ pahoti. Maggapaccavekkhaṇasammāñāṇe ca ṭhitassa maggasammāvimutti pahoti, phalapaccavekkhaṇasammāñāṇe ṭhitassa phalasammāvimutti pahotīti attho. Ettha ca ṭhapetvā aṭṭha phalaṅgāni sammāñāṇaṃ paccavekkhaṇaṃ katvā sammāvimuttiṃ phalaṃ kātuṃ vaṭṭatīti vuttaṃ’. (Mahācattārīsakasuttavaṇṇanā)
12. nijjiṇṇā: destroyed, overcome
13. It is addressed to Bhikkhus who ‘earn’ their ‘living’ and maintain their needs by depending on householders to support them. The Buddha here highlights that the contact between Bhikkhus and householders should be free from any reproachable conduct that the Bhikkhus could be blamed. See also the next lesson: 3.6.15 Sīlappabhedakathā. The proper livelihood for householders was explained at lesson: 3.6.2. Vaṇijjāsutta
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