There is No First Beginning
NARRATOR TWO: Is consciousness conceivable without a past? Can it be said to have a beginning?
"Bhikkhus, the round is beginningless. Of the beings that travel and trudge through this round, shut in as they are by ignorance and fettered by craving, no first beginning is describable."
"That both I and you have to travel and trudge through this long round is owing to our not discovering, not penetrating, four truths. What four? They are: (I) the noble truth of suffering, (II) the noble truth of the origin of suffering, (III) the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, and (IV) the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering."
The Four Noble Truths
NARRATOR TWO: Now here is a description of the Four Noble Truths.
"What is the noble truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; association with the loathed is suffering, dissociation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering; in short, the five aggregates affected by clinging are suffering."
"It is with ignorance as condition that formations come to be; with formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, the sixfold base for contact; with the sixfold base as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, being; with being as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing and death come to be, and also sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; that is how there is an origin to this whole aggregate mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering."
"With the remainderless fading and cessation of ignorance there is cessation of formations; with cessation of formations, cessation of consciousness... with cessation of birth, ageing and death cease, and also sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair; that is how there is a cessation to this whole aggregate mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the cessation of suffering."
"Of these Four Noble Truths, the noble truth of suffering must be penetrated to by full knowledge of suffering; the noble truth of the origin of suffering must be penetrated to by abandoning craving; the noble truth of the cessation of suffering must be penetrated to by realizing cessation of craving; the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering must be penetrated to by maintaining in being the Noble Eightfold Path."
SN 56:11 and 29 (adapted)
"These Four Noble Truths (Actualities) are real, not unreal, not other than they seem."
NARRATOR ONE: The Four Noble Truths are each analysed and defined in detail.
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1. The "five aggregates affected by clinging" (pańc'upadanakkhandha) are best regarded as five convenient "classes" or categories under which any arisen component of experience (in its widest sense) can be grouped for analysis and discussion; they have no existence of their own separate from the components that represent them. Their representatives do not occur separately. Also they are structurally interdependent, rather as a glass tumbler implies at once the feature of material (glass), affective (attractiveness, or the reverse or indifference), individual characteristics (shape, colour, etc.), determined (formed) utility (all these constituting the "name-and-form"), and consciousness of all this, which it is not. [Back to text]