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Dharma Sunday: Majjhima Nikāya 13 Material Form

CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us!United States Veteran
edited November 2017 in Buddhism Basics

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving." — SN 56.11

Now that we started with the first two Noble Truths, we will touch briefly on the last two and continue with the Eight-fold Path. Each week will be isolated verses and you can discuss them in relation to the eight-fold path as a guide. Here is An Analysis of the Path

The last two Noble Truths are:

  1. The Cessation of Dukkha

Pondering on Emptiness

Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."
~Sunna Sutta: Empty

  1. Path of Cessation of Dukkha
    Our first topic in the Eight-fold: Right View

When we think of Right View, we tend to think of things like impermanence, emptiness, and suffering. The Buddha also taught about the different things we are attached to such as the certainty of our physical death. Sometimes we are so attached to the "we are going to die" that our needs for material things, though not bad in themselves, becomes somewhat of a way to mask these things decay and we are not here forever. When we die, we leave people we love ones behind us. While we can think of material attachments, if we go deeper, can you separate yourself from the ones you love, your friends, your self? Things to meditate about.

§9 Gratification and Danger in Form (Body)
"And what is gratification in the case of form (body)?

"Suppose there were a girl of warrior-noble cast or brahmin caste or householder stock, in her fifteenth or sixteenth year, neither too tall nor too short, neither too thin nor too fat, neither too dark nor too fair: is her beauty and loveliness then at its height?"

"Yes, venerable sir."

"Now the pleasure and joy that arise in dependence on that beauty and loveliness are the gratification in the case of form.

"And what is danger in the case of form?

"Later on one might see that same woman here at eighty, ninety or a hundred years, aged, as crooked as a roof, doubled up, tottering with the aid of sticks, frail, her youth gone, her teeth broken, grey haired, scanty-haired, bald, wrinkled, with limbs all blotchy: how do you conceive this, bhikkhus, has her former beauty and loveliness vanished and the danger become evident?"

"Yes, venerable sir."

"Bhikkhus, this is the danger in the case of form."

—Majjhima Nikāya 13 The Greater Discourse on the Mass of Suffering

Dharma talk on: Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness, Not Self and Emptiness
~Ajahn Achalo



  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Veteran
    edited November 2017

    In the Sunna Sutta, Ven. Ananda asks the Buddha about the emptiness of the world. The Buddha replies with an exposition of the impersonal nature of the world as it’s experienced. He divides experience of the world into 6 sensory fields corresponding to the 5 primary senses of the human body and the intellect as a sixth. He subdivides each field into 4 sensory components: 1) organ; 2) object; 3) consciousness; and 4) contact. One way to assemble these parts is as the process of experiencing the world. When a sense organ comes into contact with an object, consciousness arises. Another way is as the means of consciousness to experience the world. Consciousness contacts objects through sense organs. Either way, the Buddha states each component in the process is devoid of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Applying this pattern to each component defines each organ, object, consciousness and contact between the three as impersonal and empty. In this way, the world, as experienced through these 6 sensory fields, is impersonal, empty.

    How does this relate to the Third Noble Truth?

    "And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving." — SN 56.11

    In the 12 Nidanas, an application of the Buddha’s doctrine of Dependant Origination, craving arises dependent on feeling, which in turn arises dependent on contact, which arises dependent or the six sense bases, which arise dependent on mentality-materiality, which arises dependent on consciousness, which arises dependent on kamma formations, which arise dependent on ignorance. When one sees the world as empty, the experience of the world as impersonal processes, devoid of a self or of anything pertaining to a self, one sees the world clearly, experiences it clearly, unclouded by ignorance. Seeing clearly the empty, impersonal nature of consciousness, objects, the six sensory fields and contact one becomes disenchanted with them, looses passion for them and lets go of them. In doing so, one relinquishes the conditions for craving, clinging, becoming, and birth, the conditions for dukkha.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I feel like the 3rd noble truth still isn't fully appreciated by us in the west generally.

    Specifically the possibility of total ease and peace. Maybe I'm talking mostly about myself and the way I've approached easing my suffering. I've really only used Buddhism to reduce the negative mental and emotional consequences from enjoying the pleasures in my life.

    If the small taste of peace I've occasionally briefly had from meditation retreats is any indication of the happiness obtainable via cessation of our craving, hatred and delusion there is a greater happiness available to us than the happiness available to us from "worldly" pleasures.

    So I feel like my goal has been moving more towards meditative, "spiritual" feelings of happiness. This feels like a deeper understanding of what the 3rd noble truth is pointing to to me. I don't honestly know how possible it really is as a lay person though.

  • I meant to comment on the second sutta but procrastinated. Now it's Saturday. So, I'll work from memory.

    First, @person, I think it's very possible, because I'm redefining your inspiring post as the Fourth Noble Truth :) , the middle way, the turning away from unwholesome, externally derived happiness to wholesome, internally derived happiness. The sutta outlines an entry point to this path, the threefold contemplation of the gratification, danger and escape from indulgence or deprivation.

    Leaving external gratification or deprivation through the gateway of the threefold contemplation, one walks the middle way by refining internal joys, such as contentment, blameless and meditative bliss.

    Having refined these wholesale qualities, one, for the sake of analogy, exits the path through the same gate, the threefold contemplation of their gratification, the joy and happiness arising from them, the danger, their conditioned, transitory and empty nature, and the escape, the abandoning of desire for them, non-attachment to them.

    Leaving through this gate, one arrives at the destination, the complete development of the Fourth Noble Truth, the complete understanding of the First Noble Truth, the complete abandoning of the Second Noble Truth, the realization of Nibbana, the Third Noble Truth, as it really is.

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