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Summary of Majhima Nikaya 26: Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search 1

Homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Highest Self—Enlightened One!

Rasika Wijayaratne

Published: 2015-10-24


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The sutta takes place ar Savatti, in Jeta’s grove. It starts with the Lord Buddha and Venerable Ananda joining a group of monks for a Dhamma discussion at the hermitage of Rammaka the brahman. The Lord Buddha and Venerable Ananda join the monks and the Lord Buddha asks the monks what they were discussing. The monks state that they were discussing about the Lord Buddha. The Lord Buddha praises the monks and says that they were right to do that, as when they gather, they should either talk on a Dhamma (Buddhist) topic or remain silent (noble silence).

The Lord Buddha then says that there are two kinds of searches in the world; the ignoble and noble searches. The ignoble search is while one is subject to birth, ageing, illness, death, sorrow and defilement one also seeks happiness is that which is also subject to birth, ageing, illness, death, sorrow and defilement. These are spouses, children; male and female slaves (i.e. servants, workers, etc.); farm animals such as goats, sheep, fowl, pigs, elephants, cattle, horses and mares and gold and silver (i.e. wealth, property, etc.).

The Lord Buddha says the ones on the ignoble search are totally infatuated with these (above mentioned) things which are subject to birth, ageing (decay), illness, death, sorrow and defilement, While being subject to birth, ageing (decay), illness, death, sorrow and defilement they seek happiness in what is also subject to birth, ageing (decay), illness, death, sorrow and defilement.


“The Life of the Lord Buddha (English Subtitles) 2—2.” Click on the video to play it. View Full Video >
The noble search on the other hand, is while being subject to birth, ageing (decay), illness, death, sorrow and defilement, one seeks the end to these, the unbinding from these, i.e. Nibbana.

The Lord Buddha then explains to the monks how he renounced the life of a prince and went in search of Nibbana as an ascetic. He details how he went to the two teachers Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta and having mastered their teachings, did not gain Nibbana. He then strove by himself and gained Nibbana and also Sammasambuddhahood. He then reflects that it would be too difficult to teach the Dhammma to the world as many would not understand it, as most are caught up in various forms of attachment. He concludes that it would be tiresome for him to teach the Dhamma so decdes to dwell at ease.

The Brahma Sahampati (deva) reads these thoughts in the Lord Buddha’s mind with his mind, and alarmed, appears before the Lord Buddha. Having thus appeared he appeals to the Lord Buddha to teach the Dhamma as there will be some who understand the Dhamma. The Lord then surveys the world with the eye of the Awakened One (Commentary: using his super—normal faculties) and sees people of various levels spiritual development, much like various coloured lotuses at various heights in a pond. The Lord Buddha then decides to teach the Dhamma and informs Brahma Sahampati of this.

The Lord Buddha then considers who he should teach the Dhamma to first and remembers his former ascetic teachers Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. But divine beings then inform the Lord Buddha that they both passed away very recently, to which the Lord Buddha thinks that they have both suffered a great loss to not hear the Dhamma.


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He then remembers the five ascetics who helped him while he performed austerities. He uses his divine eye (Commentary: super—normal powers) and sees that they are staying near Varanasi in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then having stayed at Uruvela for as long as he liked, he wandered in stages to Varanasi.


“The Life of the Lord Buddha (English Subtitles) 2—4.” Click on the video to play it. View Full Video >
He meets Upaka the Ajivaka (Commentary: on the way) and he the later asks the Lord Buddha who his teacher is, to which the Lord Buddha replies that he is enlightened, without counterpart in the world and has no teacher.

The Lord Buddha wandering in stages, arrives at Varanasi, at the Deer Park in Isipatana. He meets the five ascetics there and tells them that the can teach them the path to Nibbana (enlightenment). The five ascetics are doubtful but then the Lord Buddha speaks to them and ends their doubts. He then teaches them the Dhamma over time and they all gain Nibbana.

The Lord Buddha then explains of the five strands of the senses; forms seen by the eye, sounds heard by the ear, aromas smelled by the nose, tastes tasted by the tongue and tactilse sensations felt by the body (i.e. object to skin, nerve, etc. contact). All of these can be agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire and enticing. He says that any brahmins or contemplatives (spiritual aspirant) caught up in these, without seeing their drawback or how to overcome them, are said to have met with ruin, as Mara (Commentary: death) can do with his as he pleases, much like a hunter can do anything to a deer caught in a trap set him. But a brahmin or contemplative NOT tied to these sense pleasures is said to not have fallen into misfortune as Mara cannot do with him as he pleases, much like a deer not caught in any traps set by a hunter, who thus cannot do anything to the deer.


Click on the image to download a larger version.

The Lord Buddha then explains how a monks who is withdrawn from negative mental qualities (kilesa) and from sense pleasures, gaines the various levels of jhanas or mental absorptions. A monk who does this he explains, is one who has blinded Mara. He then explains how a monk then completely ends all mental defilements and gains Nibbana, thus becoming invisible to Mara, having gone beyond Mara’s range.

May all be happy and well!

Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html

Photos: http://www.worldtravelserver.com/travel/en/india/airport_hakimpet_airport/photo_59026675-lotus-pond.html

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