Dammachakka pawathwana Suttha is the first and the foremost sermon delivered by The Buddha after His Enlightenment, to his old colleagues, five ascetics at Migadaya, Isipathana, Baranasa presently Known as Varanasi for purpose of achieving liberation by ending the suffering in the circle of life (samsara). The most essential teaching of The Buddha regarding the truth of the world is encapsulated therein and it denotes a “Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth”. It contains four noble truths as follows;
1. Dukka-ariyasacca – The truth of suffering
2. Dukkasamudaya-ariyasacca – The origin of arising suffering
3. Dukkanirodha-ariyasacca – The cessation of suffering
4. Dukkanirodhagamini patipada-ariyasacca – The way leading to the cessation of suffering
1. Dukka-ariyasacca – The noble truth of suffering
In Pali text dukka means a suffering arising out of incapability of satisfying or not being able to bear or withstand something. But dukka is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but realistic.
It means damma is a realistic view of both the life and the world in an objective manner (yathabutham).Dukka is superficially understood as suffering, sorrow, misery, pain etc. But it has a deeper philosophical meaning such as imperfection, impermanence, insubstantiality etc. It appears that there is no proper English term equivalent to the term dukka in Pali.
The opposite of dukka is suka, which means happiness, Joy, ecstasy and it includes both material and spiritual.It teaches as to how one falls into dukka through attachments and on other hand how to achieve suka through detachments.
Dukka arises as a result of Aniccadukkaparinama dhammawhich includes three important factors, namely;
i. Assad – attraction or enjoyment
ii. Adeenawa - evil consequence or anger or insatiability
iii. Nissarana – freedom or liberation.
Dukkaas taught by The Buddha could be viewed from three aspects.
i. Duka-dukka – ordinary suffering
ii. Viparinama-dukka – dukka originated as a result of a change
iii. Samkara-dukka – dukka as a result of conditioned states Duka-dukka
It includes both the physical and mental suffering which are denominated into eight categories;
“jathipidukka, jarapidukka, vyadipidukka, maranampidukka, apriyehisampayogodukka, piyehivippayogadukka, yamkinchannalabathithampi dukka, sankichchenapanchaupadanakkanda dukka”
All the sufferings of human beings are caught up in one or more of the categories referred to above and they could be summarized as follows;
i. Jathipidukka - dukka as a result of the birth
ii. jarapidukka- dukka as a result of becoming old
iii. vyadipidukka- dukka as a result of sickness
iv. maranampidukka- dukka as a result of death
v. apriyehisampayogodukka - dukka as a result of association of unwholesome persons
vi. piyehivippayogadukka - dukka as a result of distancing from loved ones
vii. yamkinchannalabathi thampidukka - dukka as a result of not receiving desired things
viii. sankichchenapan chaupadanakkandadukka - five aggregate themselves are dukka(chaththarimahabhuthani) Viparinama-dukka
Every being as well as objects are subject to constant change as a matter of universal law. Such change always brings sorrow and pain.
Conditioned state has a greater philosophical meaning. Being “I” only an individual but factually I means only a combination of five aggregates (panchaskanda) and mental force.The attachments to these aggregates themselves produce only dukka.
Five aggregates could be briefly summarized in the following manner;
i. Rupaskanda – aggregate of matters
Being is formed with four great elements (chaththarimahabbhuthani) which means solidity (apo), fluidity (thejo), heat (vayo), motion (patavi). Five material sense organs are made in that include eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. They make the following senses;
Mind and five aggregates are not independent, but inter-dependent as matters are conceived through physical organs
Eye – visible form Ear – sound form
Nose – odour form Tongue – taste/gustatory form
Body – tangible form Mind – mind objects
All realms of matter include in five aggregates of matters and the conception or idea are in the sphere of mind which is called dharmayathana.
ii. Vedanaskanda - aggregate of sensation
Sensations are of three categories:
1. Pleasant sensation
2. Unpleasant sensation
3. Neutral sensation
When the physical contact with the external world communicates with the mental organ, a sensation is formed. Those contacts with the external world are done by the said matters or objects which carry this sensation to the mind. Mind and five aggregates are not independent, but inter-dependent as matters are conceived through the physical organs.
iii. Sannaskanda - aggregate of perception
Perceptions are originated as a result of six faculties do contact with the external world. It may either be physical or mental.
iv. Sankaraskanda – aggregate of mental formation
All volitional activities both good and bad are included in this mantle formation. Since the mind commands in the sphere of all good or bad or neutral acts, it would be considered as volitional or karma. But sensation or perception are not volitional actions which would produce karmic actions. Volitional actions produce the following karmic actions.
Manasikara – attention
Chanda – will
Adhimokka – determination
Sraddha – confidence
Samadhi – concentration
Panna – wisdom
Viriya – energy
Raga – desire
Patiga – hatred
Avijja – ignorance
Mana – conceit
v. Vinnanaskanda – aggregate of consciousness
When the said five physical faculties correspond with the external world, the mind perceives in visible, sound, odour, taste and tangible form enabling the mind to recognizes them and form consciousness. The mind with its experience recognize the nature of a thing or a person. What is perceived by the mind as only a conventional truth but not an ultimate truth. For example, “I” or “you” is in existence of an individual in the context of conventional truth. But in ultimate truth, there is no such existence. In other words, existence of a person is only a designation, but is not in reality.
2. Dukkasamudaya-ariyasacca – The origin of arising dukka
There are three kinds of desires or cravings which originate dukka and could be described as follows; .
i. Craving for sensual pleasure (kamathanha)
ii. Craving for becoming/existence (bhava thanha)
iii. Craving for non-existence (vibhavathanha)
The desire or greed or craving leads to all forms of sufferings and the continuity of a being. Sufferings are originated not in isolation but from aggregates which are of inter-dependence. The condition of the circle of beings is described as Conditional Genesis (paticcasamuppada). Dukka is a result of defilements and impurities (kileshasasawa dharma) in addition to the root cause of greed.
The desire does not limit to attachment to sense pleasure such as wealth and power, but also a desire for attachment to ideas, views, opinions, beliefs, etc. (dhammathanha). All conflicts commencing from a domestic unrest to a world war arrise out of selfishness and desire. Gouthama Buddha preached to Rattapala Thero “unolokoathithothanhadaso” which means “the world lacks and hankers and is enslaved to thirst”.
There are four nutriments (ahara) in the sense of cause or condition necessary for the existence and continuity of beings.They are;
a. Kabalinkarahara – ordinary material food
b. Passahara – contact of sense/organs with the external world
c. Vinnanahara – consciousness
d. Manosancetahara – mental volition or will
Mental volition is the one which leads to exist or to re-exist or to become and so on. All good karma (kusala) yields good effect while bad karma yields bad effects. All good and bad karma come within the cycle of continuity (samsara).
3. Dukkanirodha-ariyasacca – The cessation of dukka
There is a path for emancipation or liberation from suffering and from continuity. One must realize the reality in life to attend the said liberation called Nibbana. Then all suffering comes to a cessation. In short, it is an extinction of thirst.
Dhammachakkapawaththana sutta says “chakkunudapadi – gnanamudapadi – vijjaudapadi – panna udapadi and alokoudapadi”. It means that when one reaches a state of full realization of the truth, it amounts to the dawning of immaculate vision, profound intelligence, insightful knowledge, unfathomable wisdom and exalted enlightenment.
The extinction of desire (ragakayo), the extinction of hatred (dosakkayo), the extinction of illusion (mohakayo), pave the way for uprooting attachment, the cutting off of continuity, the extinction of thirst and finally leads to the cessation of suffering which means Nibbana. In almost all religions, summumbonum can be attained only after the death, but in Buddhism Nirvana could be realized in this very life.
4. Dukkanirodhag aminipatipada-ariyasacca – The way leading to cessation of suffering
This is known as majjamapatipada which means the middle path as it avoids two extremes of happiness (kamasukallikanuyoga) and self-mortification (aththakilamathanuyoga). The middle path discovered by The Buddha is called the Noble Eight-fold Path (arya-attangika-magga) as it has been encapsulated of eight categories which are to be disciplined through three ethical disciplines called sila (ethical conduct), samadhi (mental discipline), panna (wisdom) in the following manner;
Sila (ethical conduct)
1. Sammavacha – right speech
2. Sammakammantha – right action
3. Sammaajeewa – right livelihood
samadhi (mental discipline)
4. Sammavayama – right effort
5. Sammasathi – right mindfulness
6. Samma samadhi – right concentration panna (wisdom)
7. Sammaditti – right understanding
8. Sammasankappa – right thought
Buddha has admonished the manner in which these principles should be practised for the purpose of achieving the ultimate goal,the Nirvana.
The knowledge on the four noble truths is only a mere understanding, it needs a deep intellectual capacity to grasp things in their real terms which is called anubhutha. When one penetrates into the deep understanding it is called pativedha. In simple terms it means seeing a thing in its true nature without prefixed name or label, one could realize the true nature of life and the world. The path leading towards the realization of ultimate reality is laid through self-purification and spiritual and intellectual perfection.