The 4 Tasks

Turning the Wheel of Dhamma

This is what I heard. The Teacher was staying at Baranasi in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Then he addressed the group of five bhikkhus.

“There are, bhikkhus, two dead-ends which should not be pursued by one-who-has gone forth. Which two? Addiction to pleasure through indulging in sensuality, which is low, village-like, pertaining to the unawake person, undignified and unfulfilling; and addiction to self-punishment, which is painful, undignified and unfulfilling.

“The middle way, bhikkhus, awakened to by the tathāgata, does not lead to these two dead-ends, but makes for vision and knowledge, is conducive to calming, lucid understanding, awakening, and nibbāna.

“And what, bhikkhus, is this middle way…? It is just this noble eightfold path, that is: right vision, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration…”

“This is dukkha: birth is dukkha, ageing is dukkha, sickness is dukkha, death is dukkha, encountering what is not dear is dukkha, separation from what is dear is dukkha, not getting what one wants is dukkha. This psycho-physical condition is dukkha.

“This is the arising: it is craving, which is repetitive, wallowing in attachment and greed, obsessively indulging in this and that: craving for stimulation, craving for existence, craving for non-existence.

“This is the ceasing: the traceless fading away and cessation of that craving, the letting go and abandoning of it, freedom and independence from it.

“And this is the path: the path with eight branches: right vision, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration.

“‘Such is dukkha. It can be fully known. It has been fully known.’
[ 1st task ]

“’Such is the arising. It can be let go of. It has been let go of.’
[ 2nd task ]

“’Such is the ceasing. It can be experienced. It has been experienced.’
[ 3rd task ]

“’Such is the path. It can be cultivated. It has been cultivated.’
[ 4th task ]

“There arose in me illumination about things previously unknown.

“As long as my knowledge and vision was not entirely clear about the twelve aspects of the four, I did not claim to have had a peerless awakening in this world with its humans and celestials, its gods and devils, its ascetics and priests. Only when my knowledge and vision was clear in all these ways, did I claim to have had such awakening.
“‘The freedom of my mind is unshakable. There will be no more repetitive existence.’”
This is what he said. Inspired, the five delighted in his words. While he was speaking, the dispassionate, stainless dhamma eye arose in Kondanna: “Whatever arises ceases.” [Mv. I, 6.16-28, pp. 15-7. Cf. S. 56:11, pp. 1843-6, tr. SB]

(Source: The Pali Canon – Source Texts for Secular Buddhism. Compiled by Stephen Batchelor)