Chronicles of Dhamma: Selected Articles from the Vipassana Newsletter

Chronicles of Dhamma: Selected Articles from the Vipassana Newsletter

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ISBN-13: 9781938754333
Publisher: Pariyatti Publishing
Publication date: 08/01/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 262
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

S. N. Goenka has trained more than 800 assistant teachers who conduct courses in Vipassana centers around the world. He is the author of The Discourse Summaries, The Gracious Flow of Dharma, and Meditation Now. Ian Hetherington has taught Vipassana meditation as a representative of S.N. Goenka since 1993. He is the author of Realizing Change: Vipassana Meditation in Action.

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Chronicles of Dhamma

Selected Articles From the Vipassana Newletter

By Pariyatti Publishing

Pariyatti Publishing

Copyright © 2012 Vipassana Research Institute
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-938754-06-7


Vipassana Teachings — Introduction

The focus of the articles in this section (and associated Words of Dhamma) is specifically on the teaching, both its practice patipatti and theory pariyatti.

The standard exposition of Vipassana meditation is given during a 10-day course and Goenkaji's evening talks are collected in The Discourse Summaries, available at (for password details, please contact your local centre).

"The Buddha's First Discourse" article reminds us how the newly enlightened Siddhartha Gotama spoke to his sceptical friends and explained the Middle Path he had discovered through his own experience of Vipassana meditation. "Work Out Your Own Salvation" is an inspiring talk taken from a short course for old students, where the emphasis is on re-energising one's daily practice. "Sila: The Foundation of Dhamma" is an extract from a public TV broadcast. The article "Kamma — The Real Inheritance" includes excerpts from discourses for long course students on the subject of cause and effect and the practical consequences of our actions. "The Factors of Enlightenment" describes the seven bojjhangas, whose development will lead to full liberation. "The MaNgala Sutta", one of the best-known teachings of the Buddha, lists the many welfares to be attained by a householder despite the hindrances in everyday life. In another extract from a long course discourse, "The Snare of Mara", Goenkaji returns to a familiar theme — the danger in meditation of relishing and becoming trapped by the experience of pleasant sensations, instead of understanding their changing nature and observing them objectively in wisdom. "Metta" is an important part of the practice of Vipassana and this article and accompanying questions and answers clarify what it is and how it should be done. Another of the paramis is discussed in detail in "The Gift of Dana". The following two articles: "Gain the Strength of Dhamma" and "Fulfilling the Teaching of the Buddha" remind students of their responsibilities, having benefited from practising Vipassana at a deeper level, to apply Dhamma in their lives for the benefit of many. In "The Purity of Dhamma" Goenkaji cautions meditators, despite good intentions, to avoid mixing other practices with Vipassana as taught by the Buddha and preserved in this tradition by generations of Teachers, thereby risking compromising its effectiveness. The final article "Discovering the Buddha in the Tipitaka" encourages us to explore the Buddha's words for ourselves to gain confidence, understanding and direction in our practice on the path to liberation.

The Buddha's First Discourse

The following article, condensed slightly for publication in the Newsletter, is by Patrick Given-Wilson, who is Regional Teacher for Australia and New Zealand and author of the summaries of Goenkaji's Satipatthana Sutta discourses.

After his enlightenment, the Buddha gave his first discourse to the five friends who had accompanied him during most of his years of searching. It is called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, the discourse that set in motion the wheel of Dhamma. It summarizes the Buddha's entire teaching.

The sutta starts:

Ekam samayam bhagava Baranasiyam viharati Isipatane Migadaye.

The scene is set in Isipathana, a sacred place near Varanasi frequented by recluses, hermits and other saintly people. Within it, Migada was a deer park and sanctuary where no animal could be killed.

Tatra kho bhagava pañcavaggiye bhikkhu amantesi.

The discourse was given to his five former companions. They were a skeptical audience, believing that the Buddha had failed in his quest because he had given up fasting and physical austerities. As they saw him approach, they agreed to show him no special respect. Nevertheless they listened, impressed by his serenity and the glow on his face.

He declared to them that he had become a Buddha. And to overcome their doubts, he explained how he had achieved enlightenment.

Dveme, bhikkhave, anta pabbajitena na sevitabba. Katame dve?

Two extremes, bhikkhus, should not be practiced by one striving for liberation. What two?

... yo cayam kamesu kamasukhallikanuyogo hino gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasamhito ...

... attachment and clinging to sensual pleasures, which is low, coarse, vulgar, unworthy, and profitless ...

He decisively repudiates the path of sensual pleasures. No one can attain liberation from sensual pleasures by indulging in them. This would have been obvious to his audience. But his second statement would have seemed radical: a decisive repudiation of the ascetic path they had been practicing together.

... yo cayam attakilamathanuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasamhito

... attachment to self-torture, which is painful, unworthy, and profitless.

He then describes the actual path he took, the Middle Path, and states the result:

Ete kho, bhikkhave, ubho ante anupagamma majjhima patipada tathagatena abhisambuddha cakkhukarani ñanakarani upasamaya abhiññaya sambodhaya nibbanaya samvattati

Between these extremes the Middle Path, realized by the Tathagata, gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to nibbana.

"Tathagata" was the term the Buddha used to describe himself. It means literally "thus gone," or one who has walked the path of truth.

He describes this Middle Path as the Eightfold Noble Path:

Ariyo atthangiko maggo, seyyathidam — samma ditthi samma sankappo samma vaca samma kammanto samma ajivo samma vayamo samma sati samma samadhi.

This Noble Eightfold Path, namely — right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

At one level, this was nothing new. The practice of morality already existed in India. Deep samadhis were also practiced, and Gotama himself had practiced these in the past. Pañña was also understood and accepted at least at the intellectual level.

However, the path starts with samma ditthi, and the ditthi (understanding) must be samma (right). That means not only must it be understood, it must also be experienced. Something can only be understood properly if it is actually experienced; otherwise it remains a mere philosophy or view. Similarly, every step on the Noble Eightfold Path is preceded by the word samma: to be right, it has to be experienced.

He then states the keystone of his teaching, the Four Noble Truths. He describes each in turn:

Idam kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkham ariyasaccam: jatipi dukkha, jarapi dukkha, byadhipi dukkho, maranampi dukkham, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampiccham na labhati tampi dukkham — sankhittena pañcupadanakkhandha dukkha.

This, bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of Suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering — in brief the five aggregates of clinging are suffering.

Again at a mundane level, much of this was familiar to his audience. But there was a widespread belief that beings of the highest celestial realms were immortal. And here he states that all birth is dukkha and ends with a comprehensive rejection of clinging to any kind of existence.

Working deep inside, he had realized that any clinging to anything in the field of mind and matter was dukkha, suffering. The truth of dukkha had to be accepted in every aspect of existence. Even the most pleasant, subtle, tranquil experience had to be accepted as dukkha because of its impermanence.

... dukkhasamudayam ariyasaccam: yayam tanha ponobbhavika nandiragasahagata tatratatrabhinandini, seyyathidam kamatanha, bhavatanha, vibhavatanha.

The Noble Truth of the Arising of Suffering is this craving, leading to rebirth, bound up with pleasure and desire, finding delight now here, now there, namely, craving for sense pleasure, craving for existence, and craving for annihilation.

The second Noble Truth is that suffering arises with tanha, craving. Sometimes samudayam is translated as "the cause" of dukkha, but more precisely it means "arising." Dukkha, the agitation, starts as soon as craving, tanha, starts: they are simultaneous. This is experienced by a meditator at a subtle level. This craving is the actual problem that leads to rebirth, ponobbhavika.

He describes three types of craving, or tanha. The first is the craving for sensual pleasures, kamatanha. This can be easily understood, but eradicating it alone is not enough. The second is the craving for any kind of existence, bhavatanhatanha. Even if someone is free of sensual pleasures, there is the craving for survival: "The 'I' must survive. No matter what happens to the world or to other beings, I must be there in whatever plane of existence, to witness it and see it continue. Even liberation is something that 'I' must experience, 'I' must enjoy." This craving gives rise to further rebirths, and so the round of suffering continues. The third and final craving is the desire for annihilation, vibhavatanhatanha. Even craving for the end of existence is still craving.

Idam kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodham ariyasaccam yo tassayeva tanhaya asesaviraganirodho cago patinissaggo mutti analayo.

This, bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Eradication of Suffering: it is the complete eradication of that very craving, giving it up, relinquishing it, the liberation and detachment from it.

This craving must be totally eradicated, so that no root is left. Elsewhere, in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha describes in more detail how the eradication must be complete at every step of the mental process: in every part of the mind, at every sense door.

The fourth Noble Truth is the way to reach that goal, the Eightfold Noble Path.

... dukkhanirodhagamini patipada ariyasaccam: ayameva ariyo atthangiko maggo, seyyathidam — samma ditthi, samma sankappo, samma vaca, samma kammanto, samma ajivo, samma vayamo, samma sati, samma samadhi.

The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the eradication of suffering is this Eightfold Path, namely right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration

In essence, the four Noble Truths are very simple: accept the fact of suffering, understand how it arises, totally eradicate it, and so realize the path to its eradication. But the Buddha's enlightenment was actually to experience it. He elaborated, saying that each noble Truth has to be realized in three different ways. Each truth is not a reality unless it is witnessed, or experienced.

Idam dukkham ariyasaccam ... pariññeyam ... pariññatam.

This Noble Truth of suffering ... is to be experienced fully ... is experienced fully.

The fact of suffering, dukkha, had to first be accepted. But that was mere intellectual knowledge, merely a starting position. The second part was to understand the need to experience directly the entire field of dukkha — pariññeyam — because unless the entire field is experienced, there might be some aspect, some part of dukkha, still considered free from dukkha. However, this was still an intellectual decision. The third step was pariññatam — he had explored the entire field of dukkha only when he had gone beyond dukkha. So even in this first Noble Truth, all the Four Noble Truths are included.

Idam dukkham samudayam ariyasaccam ... pahahatabbam ... pahinam.

This Noble Truth of the arising of suffering ... has to be eradicated ... has been eradicated.

The same applies to the second Noble Truth, dukkha samudaya. Mere acceptance that craving is the cause of dukkha does not help. The craving has to be eradicated: pahahatabbam. But even this is insufficient. The third part must be completed — pahinamtanha must actually be eradicated at the root level, so that not a trace is left. So the second Noble Truth also completes all the Four Noble Truths. If it is pahinam, totally eradicated, one is free from misery.

Idam dukkhanirodham ariyasaccam ... sacchikatabbam ... sacchikatam.

This Noble Truth of the eradication of suffering ... has to be witnessed ... has been witnessed.

The third Noble Truth is the stage where there is no more misery at all — the stage of nibbana. Mere acceptance that there is a stage beyond mind and matter is not enough. It has to be witnessed — sacchikatabbam. Then the third part is sacchikatam — it is witnessed. When that was witnessed, he became free of all misery. All the four Noble Truths are included.

Idam dukkhanirodhagamini patipada ariyasaccam ... bhavetabbam ... bhavitam.

This Noble Truth of the path leading to the eradication of suffering ... has to be developed ... has been developed.

The fourth Noble Truth is the path. Again it has to be experienced fully. Only then can it be said to have been completed. The first step is acceptance that this is the path. The second is the intellectual decision that it has to be developed, bhavetabbam. Both are necessary. But only actually covering the entire path — bhavitam — could liberate him, and by walking it he had accomplished the other three Noble Truths. So all four Noble Truths, when actually experienced, are each complete in themselves and contain all the others.

Therefore, unless each Noble Truth is worked out in three ways, and the four Noble Truths thus become a twelvefold Noble Truth, they cannot give the result of liberation from suffering. If someone merely accepted the truth that there is misery, that there is a cause of misery, that there is total eradication of misery and that there is a way to eradicate the misery, the acceptance would be no more than a philosophy — logical but otherwise no different from any other philosophy. It could not have liberated him.

... pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhum udapadi, ñanam udapadi, pañña udapadi, vijja udapadi, aloko udapadi.

... I had never heard such Dhammas before: vision arose, knowledge arose, wisdom arose, understanding arose, light arose.


Excerpted from Chronicles of Dhamma by Pariyatti Publishing. Copyright © 2012 Vipassana Research Institute. Excerpted by permission of Pariyatti Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The Buddha's First Discourse,
Work Out Your Own Salvation,
Sila: the Foundation of Dhamma,
Kamma — The Real Inheritance,
The Factors of Enlightenment (Bojjhangas),
Mangala Sutta,
The Importance of Daily Meditation,
The Snare of Mara,
The Practice of Mettabhavana in Vipassana Meditation,
The Gift of Dhamma,
Gaining the Strength of Dhamma,
Fulfilling the Teaching of the Buddha,
The Purity of Dhamma,
Discovering the Buddha in the Tipitaka,
Sixty Years Are Over,
Forty Years of New Life,
Farewell Dhamma Brother,
1989: A Double Milestone,
Hail to Dhamma,
Anecdote and Recollections,
The Floodgates of Dhamma Open,
Fruition of Sacca Aditthana - Parts One & Two,
Seventy Years Have Been Completed,
Forty Years of Dhammadana,
Buddha: The Super-Scientist of Peace,
On Pilgrimage with our Teachers,
Pilgrimage to the Land of Dhamma,
Meditation Now — Goenkaji's tour of Europe and North America,
Message from Goenkaji,
Inner Peace for World Peace,
Hatred Never Ceases Through Hatred,
Benazir Bhutto and Vipassana,
Relief for the Earthquake Afflicted,
Course for Cambodians,
On Addiction,
Keeping Our Minds Healthy,
Vipassana in Prisons — Update Issue,
Vipassana at the World Economic Forum,
The Meaning of Happiness,
How to apply Vipassana in Student Life,
Questions and Answers with Young People,
Why I Sit,
Apply Dhamma in Life,
The Swelling Stream of Dhamma,
Dhamma Giri — Tenth Year Commemorative & Silver Jubilee,
No Force Can Stop The Dhamma,
Benefits of Dhamma Service,
The Value of Dhamma Service,
Questions on Dhamma Service,
Torchbearers of Dhamma,
The Blade of Dhamma,
The Global Pagoda — Lighting a Beacon to the World,
Realizing the Dream of Dhamma,
Inauguration of the Global Pagoda 2009,
Vipassana — The Practical Path to Unity in Diversity,

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