by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes The Noble Truth of the Path contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as on Pāramitā. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
Though Nibbāna is causeless, not conditioned by any cause and always exists, it is not possible to realise its peace without a cause. It can be realised only through a cause. That cause is nothing but the Noble Practice. Therefore, the Noble Practice that leads to Nibbāna, the Cessation of Suffering, is termed Dukkha Nirodhagāmini Paṭipadā, the Course of Practice that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.
The Middle Path (Majjhima Patipadā)
Living in enjoyment of sensual pleasures in the world fulfilling the demands of craving is not the path for attainment of Nibbāna, the Cessation of Suffering. It is just an ignoble practice called kāmasukhallikānuyoga. Efforts to make oneself suffer by exposure of one’s body to fire or to the sun, by keeping one’s hand raised continuously, with a view to prevent mental defilements from appearing, do not form the way to Nibbāna, the Cessation of Suffering. It is another ignoble practice called attakilamathānuyoga. Avoiding selfindulgence in sensual pleasures on one hand and self-mortification on the other, following only the middle path which is neither too comfortable nor too arduous, like the string of a harp which is neither too taut nor too loose, is the practice that surely leads to Nibbāna. This practice which is neither easy nor difficult is called ‘Majjhimapatipada’, the Middle Course. This very Middle Course is called the Path (Magga), the Way leading to Nibbāna. Wrong view, etc. which are unwholesome, are called duggati-magga or micchā-magga as they lead to the four woeful states (apāya). Right view, etc. which are mundane and wholesome, are called sugati-magga or sammā-magga as they lead to Nibbāna. The Commentary on Sacca
Vibhanga explains that these factors, such as Right View, etc. which constitute Path Consciousness are called Magga because they are sought by those who aspire for Nibbāna; because these factors lead to Nibbāna; and because they find their way to Nibbāna after eradicating mental defilements.
This Path is not of one factor only; it is of eight factors, as will be shown below; hence it is called ‘Atthangika-Magga’, the Path of Eight Constituents, which are:
(1) Sammā-ditthi: Right View (Knowledge of the Truth of Suffering, Knowledge of the Truth of the Cause of Suffering, Knowledge of the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering and Knowledge of the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering. Thus it is the fourfold Knowledge).
(2) Sammā-saṅkappa: Right Thought. (Three kinds of thought, namely, thought of liberating oneself from sensuous defilements (kilesa-kāma) and sensuous objects (vatthu-kāma) as has been explained in the section on the Nekkhama Pāramī, Perfection of Renunciation; thought of not destroying others; and thought of not harming others).
(6) Sammā-vāyāma: Right Exertion (Exertion so as not to give rise to unwholesomeness that has not yet occurred, exertion so as to eradicate unwholesomeness that has occurred, exertion so as to give rise to wholesomeness that has not yet occurred and exertion so as to develop wholesomeness that has occurred).
These eight constituents do not arise simultaneously in the mundane fields; they arise in combination with one another as far as possible. When they come to the supramundane field, however, all the eight rise simultaneously. Only these eight constituents which arise simultaneously at the moment of attaining the supramundane Path are collectively called the Noble Truth of the Path. Thus by the Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering is meant the group of eight factors beginning with Right View that arise as a whole and simultaneously. The Path which is included together with the Fruition and Nibbāna in the collection of supramundane phenomena (magga-phala nibbāna) stands for all these eight constituents which form the Noble Truth of the Path.