Guy E. Dubois

Dhamma is Spontaneous

Dhamma is Spontaneous

Spontaneous is the antonym of ingrained. The opposite of conditioned. Of manipulated. Spontaneous leaves nothing standing of what the dhammanuvatti [1] perceives in his delusion as ‘fixed’.

Spontaneous is space: shapeless, nameless, timeless, without dimension, unsullied. Without a past, without a future, without desire, without revulsion, without attachment. The fullness of the present. Of the here-and-now. The sudden deep recognition of the essence of what manifests itself. The sacred of impermanence in every moment. The arising and decay as a perpetual, continuous process.[2] Arise and decay (udayabbaya).[3] Everything becomes one in impermanence. In conjunction with everything else. Everything Intertwined. Holistic. The large manifests itself within the small and the small manifests itself within the large. Unborn. Deathless. Experiencing this is waking up spiritually. Awakening. Being intimate with all things. The perfect wisdom.

Spontaneous means “following the current.” Going with the flow. With the law of nature. It means being open to the process.[4] Perfectly open to Dhamma.[5] Spontaneous is “being in non-time, non-place, non-form, non-movement and non-thought, while observing what is observed when there are no observations. [6] Spontaneous means putting our usual way of responding ‘on hold’. Pause and look intently and equanimous at what is going on in the now.[7] Being open to the now makes us more spontaneous. Free.

Spontaneous is looking as just looking. Hearing as hearing. Smelling as smelling. Tasting as tasting. Feeling as feeling. Considering thinking as mere ephemeral[8] thoughts. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and thinking in itself – ‘an sich’ is the real reality of the moment. Sensory experiences without content.[9] Without preference. Without revulsion. Without judgment.[10] Without opinion. Without any personal additive. Without words and without concepts. So that the letter of the Dhamma does not become more important than its spirit.

Understanding the Dhamma requires no words, no visualization, no speculation, no imagining (faith). Understanding the Dhamma the ‘seeing’ of the process (paticcasamuppāda)[11] is not acquired by worshiping Buddha statues,[12] neither by performing endless series of prostrations, nor by the circumambulation of stupas.

When insight does not lead to spiritual transformation and liberation for the dhammanuvatti it completely ignores the essence. Only what is essential is worth it. Everything that is second-hand or hearsay eventually exposes itself as false and unreal. And is not worth the name ‘insight’.

Insight is gained by recognizing, acknowledging and realizing the impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless nature of all phenomena (tilakkhaṇa). In this way sobering up and detachment is developed (nibbidā), passionlessness (virāga) is unfolded, calmness (upasama) is created and inner peace (santi) established. Constant mindfulness (sati) on the tilakkhaṇa is the only practice that leads the dhammanuvatti to final liberation: enlightenment is seeing the impermanence of all things. And the equanimous acceptance of this insight. Only through permanent meditation does the dhammanuvatti realize these characteristics within himself as intrinsic insights: all phenomena are composed,[13] changeable and impermanent; there is no happiness without suffering; everything that exists does not exist in itself, but only in interrelatedness.

Spontaneous is thinking without thoughts. Thinking is a function; thinking is not synonymous with being. From thinking ‘an sich’ the dhammanuvatti does not become wise. Wisdom can only arise when the practitioner goes beyond thinking – even if his limp, conditioned (manipulated) psychophysical structure can only realize this for a few seconds. Wisdom is spontaneously created by experiential experience (paccanubhoti).[14]

When the dhammanuvatti manages to release his flow of thought (viññāṇa-sotā), everything becomes one: everything flows; everything vibrates; everything pulsates. There is only emptiness there.[15] Brightness. Space. The limitless, all-encompassing space.

At that moment without thinking – what in Zen is called ‘hishiryo’[16] – the dhammanuvatti reaches his original self. He realizes himself. This original nature is a reality that is not ‘labeled’. It is pure. Without the addition of personally charged dramas and stories.

When, on the other hand, the seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and thinking of the dhammanuvatti is obscured by his preferences and his rejections, he builds ‘his’ world. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and thinking versus the perception of what is seen, heard, smelled, tasted, felt and thought, makes the distinction between absolute reality (paramattha) and phenomenal, conceptual reality (pannati).

Perceived reality is subjective, unreliable, inaccurate, unstable, distorted (saññā-vipallāsa).[17] It is a sham world that is permanently created by the dhammanuvatti.[18] An illusion (maya). When the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ appears, spontaneity disappears. When the ‘I’ presents itself, the defilement begins: desire, hatred and ignorance. He is isolated from the whole thing. The dhammanuvatti becomes a separate particle: identification with its ‘I’ is the source of selfishness and is the direct cause of dukkha.[19] He becomes a small satellite that fills space with delusion: I see; I hear; I smell; I taste; I feel; I think. He systematically builds up his “world.” About what he thinks or wants (or just doesn’t want) to be. He is snowballed by ideas and concepts. He identifies. He is committed to this existence. Desiring it more and more (taṇhā), which increases his attachment to existence as long as it grows. He is ‘born’ over and over again. He permanently creates and recreates his own world. And he becomes an integral part of the cycle of ‘becoming’ (bhava).[20] Samsāra’s noose.

In the Dutiyabhaddiya-Sutta[21], the Buddha articulates the awakening of the dwarf Bhaddiya as follows:

“He has broken the cycle[22]
and freed himself from his desires.[23]
This river has dried up: it no longer flows.[24]
Broken, the cycle has come to a standstill.[25]
Just this is the end of dukkha!”[26]

In reality, all aggregates (khandhas) that compose man are subject to the tilakkhaṇa. They’re without a core of existence. They are without ‘self’; Without ‘I’. That is their ‘nature’ (sabhava), their ‘characteristic’ (lakkhaṇa). However, the fact that they are ’empty’ of any essence is a great opportunity: their instability enables spontaneous transformation. After all, things can only transform if they do not possess a persistent core. Anattā – the understanding that nothing exists on its own and that nothing persists – forms the exquisite antidote to attachment (upādāna)[27] and the disruptive emotions that result from it.

In the Anattalakkhana-Sutta[28] the Buddha says:

“Monks, form (rūpa) is without itself. Monks, feelings (vedanā) are without self. Monks, perceptions (saññā) are without self. Monks, formations (sankhāras)[29] are without self. Monks, consciousness (viññāṇa) is without self.”

Anything that is impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless should be considered as “This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self”. This is the result of correct insight (sammā-ditthi). Anything that is not yours, which you are not, which is not ‘self’ cannot be taken away from you, you should not secure it, not justify it. This creates selflessness. An existence without pride. Modest. Non-assertive. Without ‘I’.

This is how all the seeing, hearing, smelling, tastes, feeling and thinking of the dhammanuvatti becomes ‘spontaneous’. Free. Unbound. Not colored by personal premises, hypotheses, approval and disapproval, likes and dislikes. So the dhammanuvatti ‘sees and knows’ reality as it really is and not as he wants reality to be. Yatha bhuta nana dassana.[30] By looking at things as they really are the dhammanuvatti awakens. He wakes up. He does not come to self-realization by striving for the divine, for the otherworldly. Not by looking away from reality, but by considering reality objectively with alert mindfulness. And accepts this objective reality.

Therefore a “well-taught noble disciple who considers this with perfect insight, grows disenchanted with physical form, with sensations with feeling, with perception, with sankhāras and with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate and his mind (mano)[31] is liberated. His mind liberated, there arises the knowledge that his mind has been liberated. He understands: ‘Birth has been destroyed, the holy life has been lived (magga brahma-cariya),[32] what had to be done is done (katam karniyam),[33] and there is no further rebirth in any state of existence (naparam itthattaya).’”[34]


[1] Dhammanuvatti → Dhamma + anuvatti: Dhamma = the Teaching; anuvatti = act, behave accordingly. Dhammanuvatti = a person who lives, behaves and acts in accordance with the Dhamma. A follower of the Dhamma. The Buddha used this word to indicate his followers.

[2] The basic characteristic of all phenomena is that the arise and decay. From moment-to-moment. Except we don’t see it. We don’t want to see it. That is why ānāpānasati (*) is so immensely important as a meditation technique. A technique that we can always fall back on. Our base camp. Inhalation, exhalation, arising, decay, no breath equal to the previous one, nor to the next. Breathing as a miniature model for the whole of existence. The whole existence is imbued with arising and decay. With impermanence. With anicca.

This also applies to every meditation we do, to every meditation technique we apply. Therefore, every meditation session must be a discovery. Always something new. Not a copy of the previous one. Depending on the condition of the practitioner and the circumstances of the moment. All that manifests itself to us is a snapshot of the process. From energy to transformation. Transformation is the natural state – the so-ness – of all things. Dhamma.

(*) ānāpānasatianapana+sati: anapana = incoming and outgoing breath; sati = attention, mindfulness, perceptiveness. Ānāpānasati = attention to the respiratory cycle.

[3] Udayabbaya: arising and decay, increase and decrease, up and down, birth and death.

Udayabbayānupassanā-ñāṇa: the 4th phase of the sixteen insights (solana-nana) realized by the dhammanuvatti by constantly, intensively drawing attention to the arising and decay. For this purpose, the dhammanuvatti meditates on the three characteristics (ti-lakkhaṇa) of existence in his own mind/body complex. For detailed explanations, see my book: Dubois, Guy, (2019), Satta-visuddhi – De Zeven Zuiveringen p. 233 et seq.

[4] The ‘process’: how you call it has no importance whatsoever. Absolute Reality. Consciousness. Space. Paramattha. Dhamma…

The ‘process’ is to see and know – ‘experience’ – that existence is a continuously variable process caused by causal factors. That the process of existence is permanently determined by countless cause-and-effect relationships. All this arises in complete dependence. That everything is connected to everything. Indra’s web. Paticcasamuppāda. The Buddha said, “If you see paticcasamuppāda, you will see the Dhamma.” Whoever realizes this in him/herself will gain insight into his countless past lives. Sees in detail the eternal process of arising and decay. Sees the endless cycle of birth and death. But also sees how everything flows together. Sees the Middle Way, which is the right measure between the speculative notions of eternalism (sassata-ditthi) and nihilism (uccheda-ditthi). Sees the ‘process’ that extends across all eras and universes (*). Anyone who experiences this will see that birth and death are only rites of passage in an everlasting process. That birth is not a starting point, nor death is an end point. Thus the dhammanuvatti realizes in itself the unborn (ajata) and the deathless (amata). And experiences that he/she is an integral part of the ‘process’. That this ‘process’ is his/her original nature. That he/she is the ‘process’.

(*) see the Maha-Saccaka-Sutta, Majjhima-Nikaya 36, de Breet, Jan & Janssen, Rob, (2004), de verzameling van middellange leerredes, Deel I, Suttas 1-50 p. 388 e.v: the first vigil – the first insight of ‘triple knowledge’ – of Siddhattha Gotama just before his awakening.

[5] Dhamma is used here in the sense of the law of nature, the cosmic law, the ‘process’. A good description can be found in the Uppada-Sutta, Anguttara-Nikaya 3.136 – ‘Monks, whether a Tathāgata appears in the world or not, this Dhamma, this natural law persists, this process of natural principles is immutable: all conditioned phenomena are impermanent; all conditioned phenomena are unsatisfactory; all conditioned phenomena are selfless (free, shortened personal translation of the Uppada-Sutta).

[6] De woorden van de oude Cheng, Boeddhistisch Dagblad, dd. 24 juni 2020. Zie ook: de Groot, Arjen (1988), Meester Tsjeng over het geheim van de oorspronkelijke geest, Uitgeverij Kairos, Soest, Nederland

[7] Schrödinger, Erwin, (2008), My View of the World, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK – “Hence this life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear: Tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as ‘I am in the East and in the West, I am below and above, I am this whole world’. Thus you can throw yourself flat on the ground, stretched out upon Mother Earth, with the certain conviction that you are one with her and she with you. You are as firmly established, as invulnerable as she, indeed a thousand times firmer and more invulnerable. As surely she will engulf you tomorrow, so surely she will bring you forth anew to new striving and suffering. And not merely ‘someday’: now, today, every day she is bringing you forth, not once but thousands upon thousands of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over. For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.”

[8] ephemeral → ekahikaeka+ahika: eka = one, one single; ahika. Ekahika = literally translated ‘for one day’, here in the sense of ‘changing from moment to moment’.

[9] Dhammuttamo, Achariya, (2020), Concept en werkelijkheid in vipassana, Boeddhistisch Dagblad, dd. 20 august 2020 – “By shifting the attention from the content to the act of looking, the dhammanuvatti is detached from identification with the seen and is only in the process of following the functioning of his/her own perception. This creates attentiveness on the body, on feeling, on thinking, and on the objects of consciousness without any involvement with the quality or content of the mental objects.”

[10] Observing without judgment is synonymous with ‘non-thinking’, in the sense of not identifying with the content of the thoughts.

[11] The 12 chains of Dependent Genesis (paticcasamuppāda): with ignorance (avijjā) as a condition formations (sankhāras) arise → with formations as a condition consciousness (viññāṇa) arises → with consciousness as a condition body/mind (nāma-rūpa) arises→ with body/min as a condition the six senses (salāyatana) arise → with the six senses as a condition contact (phassa) arisies → with contact as a condition feeling (vedanā) arises → with feeling as a condition desire (taṇhā) arises → with desire as a condition attachment (upādāna) arises → with attachment as a condition ‘becoming’ (bhava) arises→ with ‘becoming’ as a condition birth (jati) arises → with birth as a condition, aging, death and dukkha (Jarāmaraṇa) arise.

[12] The first 500 years after the death (Parinibbāna) of the Buddha there were no Buddha statues. If one wished to depict the Buddha, one did so by using symbols: by depicting the bodhi tree, or a stupa, or a fleeting footprint in the sand, or by the depiction of an empty throne. The first Buddha statues were produced during the Kushana period (first to third century AD), and especially during the reign of King Kanishka, who was an adept of the Dhamma, and under whose rule the 4th Buddhist Council was held in Kashmir. The southern capital of the Kushana Empire was Madhura. It is especially in this city that under Kanishka’s rule many statues were produced that were found on the sites of the Middle Country. Best known are the Gandhara statues, where Greek influence is unmistakable.

Note: minimalism has a sensory price: it shrivels ceremonial traditions, rites and rituals; it extinguishes the immersive music of mantras; it scales the pleasant smell of incense. But it opens the door to essence: it reinforces the dhammanuvatti’s insight into the Dhamma. After all, understanding Dhamma is an experiential experience that takes place exclusively inside the dhammanuvatti, not through the manifestation of external forms. The dhammanuvatti that realizes the Dhamma within himself is a long way from Buddha-rūpa. By the way, never forget that desire for rites, rituals, ceremonies, specific techniques, etc… (silabbata parāmāsa) is one of the three chains (sayojana) that prevent the dhammanuvatti from entering the stream.

See also: Singh, Rana, (2009), Where The Buddha Walked. A Companion to the Buddhist Places of India p. 43-44

[13] ‘compound’: conditioned. Created by countless causes (hetu) and conditions (paccaya).

[14] paccanubhoti pati + anu + bhu + a: experience, realize, experience experientially. If the practitioner considers the words merely as ‘words’ or ‘concepts’, he will see the Dhamma. The most important is experiential experience. Direct experience. Knowledge at experience level. Direct seeing.

[15] Hsin Tao, (2018), Listening to Silence, Tricycle Magazine, Winter 2018 – “(When) you just listen, without attachment, to a sound, to silence or to the contrast between the two, then there is no attachment at all … Eventually, you will reach a point where listening still takes place, but where the object has disappeared. In other words, there is still consciousness, but what you are aware of is emptiness.”

[16] Hishiryo: It means thinking-beyond-thinking that compares, measures, calculates. Hishiryo is seeing without thinking: if you think, you are going to make choices and with the choice you have made you will identify. By making choices, you perpetuate the ‘I’ system. By being equanimously and attentive, the dhammanuvatti can put himself above any choice. ‘Seeing without thinking’ just (?) means: stop thinking; stop that stream of thoughts (viññāṇa-sotā), that tsunami of mind-chatter. Just come to your original self. When the dhammanuvatti experiences life in this way, he enters a world without separations. Without duality. In everything he does, he’s complete, he’s one, he realizes himself. He is fully aware that “the moon is reflected as much in the ocean as in a dewdrop.”

[17] ‘distorted perception’ → transl. of ‘saññā-vipallāsa’(*). A dhammanuvatti can correct these perceptual distortions by seeing and understanding reality (janami passami) as it really is (yatha bhuta) and by accepting and realizing this reality (= recognizing and becoming one with it) within himself. The power of vipassanā (= “seeing things as they really are”) leads the dhammanuvatti to “see and understand” the true nature of things (i.c. the true nature of existence). Which amounts to understanding the impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) and selflessness (anattā) of all conditioned phenomena (tilakkhaṇa). Perfect insight (sammā-ditthi) boils down to the ‘seeing and understanding’ of the Four Noble Truths in its three rotations (tiparivatta) and twelve aspects (dvadasakara), which means that each of the Four Noble Truths must be known and understood (pariyatti); practiced (patipatti) and realized (pativedha). Thus, perfect insight boils down to understanding dukkha (dukkha ñāṇa); understanding the cause of dukkha (dukkha samudāya ñāṇa); understanding the end of dukkha (dukkha nirodha ñāṇa) and understanding the path leading to the end of dukkha (dukkha nirodha gamini paipadāya ñāṇa). Vipassanā is therefore no more or less than the personal realization of the Four Noble Truths. Vipassanā is the embodiment of the essence of the Buddha sāsana.

(*) See vipallasa-sutta, Anguttara-Nikaya 4.49

[18] It is extremely important to realize that a dhammanuvatti will never achieve the real vipassana phase (= ‘seeing things as they really are’) without an effective understanding of what is conceptual on the one hand and reality on the other hand while seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, thinking. In vipassana meditation, every meditation object should be considered as it really is (yatha bhuta). Sensory, conceptual reality can never be the goal of vipassana meditation. The vipassana meditator should focus his attention on the general characteristics to which all mental and physical phenomena are subjected. He must draw his attention to the three characteristics (tilakkhaṇa) of the phenomena, i.c. on their impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoryness (dukkha) and selflessness (anattā). Recognizing these three characteristics helps the dhammanuvatti to detect the illusory nature of his perception of the phenomena and to discover and realize their ‘true nature’ (= absolute reality). Put another way: by objectively observing the tilakkhaṇa in phenomena, the dhammanuvatti describes reality as it is, not as he (used to) dream them. In other words, the tilakkhaṇa is a correct description of samsāra and is diametrically related to Nibbāna which does not possess these characteristics. By applying this ‘technique’ of perceptiveness (Satipahāna) to the mind/body complex (nāma-rūpa), i.c. to the five aggregates (khandhas = body, feeling, perception, formations and consciousness) that compose the ‘I’, reality unfolds: Through the continuous observation of the four fields of mindfulness – body (kāyānupassanā); feeling (vedanānupassanā); mind (cittānupassanā) and mental objects (dhammānupassanā) – the dhammanuvatti finally realizes the Four Noble Truths.

[19] The ego or the ‘I’ stands for the ‘self’ that directs everything to the wheel of life. It is that ‘self’ that demands, attracts and tries to hold on to or provoke disgust and repel things. It’s this ‘me’ that thinks it’s got everything under control. It’s that part of ourselves that causes dukkha. Although this ‘I’ lives and determines our lives at many times, it is this ego that obscures reality. Enlightenment (sambodhi) is the awakening from the obfuscation of the ego. Awakening is not so much a permanent state (cf. anattā: nothing is permanent; everything is unstable), but rather a continuous process.

[20] Buddhadasa, Bhikkhu, (1998), Heartwood of the Bodhitree, Wisdom Publications, USA, p. 101 – ‘Birth means the emergence of the feelings of ‘I’ and ‘of me’.’

Samyutta-Nikaya 1.69 – ‘The world is chained to desire. Destruction of desire liberates the world. Giving up desire breaks the chains’.

[21] Dutiyabhaddiya-Sutta, Ud. VII.2

[22] ‘he has broken the cycle (vatta)’ = a metaphor for the destruction of the eternal circle of samsāra (birth, death and rebirth; but also death and rebirth of the tainted mind – kilesa vatta). Desire (taṇhā), attachment (upādāna) and ‘becoming’ (bhava) are the current activities that lead to future ‘birth’. And as such to the continuation of the cycle of samsāra. Etymological the meaning of ‘samsāra’ is: ‘aimless and directionless wandering’. Very appropriate.

[23] “he has broken the cycle and freed himself from his desires” → transl. of “acchecchi vattam byaga nirasam.”

Desire in the broadest sense of the word: not only the desire for sexual gratification but desire for all possible forms of sensory saturation (kāma taṇhā) such as: desire for food; drink; money; material possessions; fame; power; longing for some result (politics; religious; sport…); desire for spiritual perfection; for awakening… But also the desire for existence (bhava taṇhā) and the desire for non-existence (vibhava taṇhā). These three taṇhās that are the cause of our suffering; of our misery(dukkha).

Andrew Olendzki: “We are used to thinking of freedom as being free to do what we want, but the Buddha sees it as being free from wanting.”

[24] ‘this river has dried up: it no longer flows’ → tranls. of ‘visukkha sarita na sandati’.

[25] ‘broken, the cycle has come to a standstill’ → transl. of ‘chinnam vattam na vattati’.

[26] ‘Just this is the end of dukkha!’→ transl. of ‘es ev anto dukkhassati’.

Dukkha stands for the suffering of birth, old age, death, sadness, pain, mourning, despair, the proximity of people and things we don’t like, the absence of people and things we do love, not getting what we desire – all this is dukkha. When we examine the nature of the conditioned phenomena in an ever deeper and subtler way, we see that all phenomena are essentially always unsatisfactory in nature.

[27] upādāna: attach, grab, grasp. It is a thorough form of desire (taṇhā). The Visuddhimagga distinguishes 4 types of attachment: sensory attachment (kāma-upādāna → kāmupādāna); attachment to opinions (ditthi-upādāna → ditth’upādāna); attachment to rules and rituals (silabbata-upādāna → silabbatupādāna) and attachment to the ‘I’ personality view (attavada upādāna → atta-vādupādāna).

[28] Anattalakkhana-Sutta, Samyutta-Nikaya 10.59 pm. Schematically, the Anattalakkhana-Sutta boils down to this: disenchantement (nibbidā) → become dispassion (virāga) → unwinding, calming down (upasama) → internal peace = ‘becoming cool’ (ajalitaa+jalita: a = not; jalita = on fire), freeing oneself from ‘becoming’ = freeing oneself from the kilesas by seeing things as they really are (yatha bhuta) + accepting them equally (upekkhā) (*). Seeing things as they really are and accepting equally leads the dhammanuvatti to Nibbāna. “Awakening” summarized in four Pali words: nibbidāvirāgaupasamaNibbāna. Thus, these 4 concepts become 4 shelves for the raft with which the dhammanuvatti crosses to the Other Shore: “Birth is at its end, the holy life is lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no further state of existence.” This text indicates in the suttas that a bhikkhu had come to Nibbāna.

(*): upekkhā: equanimity; an equanimous mind that is not disturbed by profit or loss; by honor or dishonor; by praise or disdain; by pleasure or sorrow. These are called the Eight Worldly Winds – See the Lokavipatti-Sutta, Anguttara-Nikaya 8:6

[29] sankhāras: mental formations, habit patterns, mentally conditioned phenomena. These impulsive reactions to stimuli from the outside world lead to ignorance (moha), desire (lobha, taṇhā), anger (dosa) and attachment (upādāna). Sankhāras lead to recurring ‘becoming’ (bhava) and suffering (dukkha). So the bottom line in vipassana meditation is to see that all sankhāras (like all phenomena) are impermanent. Their character is to arise and perish again. They disappear to reappear the next moment. This is how sankhāras multiply. The dhammanuvatti who observes mindful with objective equanimity develops wisdom: he stops the process of multiplication and starts the process of elimination. He stops the permanent ‘creation process’ (bhava); he stops the stream of consciousness (viññāṇasota). This is how the fuel for ‘being’ is used up. Thus the fire is extinguished, he frees himself from dukkha and comes to inner peace.

[30] ‘Yatha bhuta nana dassana’ → yatha+bhuta+nana+dassana: yatha = true, what is true; bhuta = the nature of something, the nature; ñāṇa = insight, (deep) knowledge, knowing; dassana = look at, see. Yatha bhuta nana dassana = freely translated: ‘seeing and knowing’ reality as it really is. A synonym for this sentence is: yatha bhuta janami passami: janami = know: passami = see.

[31] mano: the mind. Mano is formed by the combination of the following four aggregates (khandhas): consciousness (viññāṇa); perception (saññā); feelings (vedanā) and mental formations (sankhāras).

[32] magga brahmacariya: this is the ‘sacred’ life that stems from the development of the Eightfold Path (ariya atthangika magga).

[33] katam karniyam: this refers to the realization by the dhammanuvatti of the Four Noble Truths (cattari ariya saccani). The optimum of wisdom is seeing the Four Noble Truths. Cfr. the Maha-Vedala-Sutta, Majjhima-Nikaya 43: “A person who possesses wisdom understands what dukkha is; understands the cause of dukkha; understands the cessation of dukkha and understands the path leading to the cessation of dukkha. A person who does not possess wisdom does not understand what dukkha is; does not understand the cause of dukkha; does not understand the cessation of dukkha and does not understand the way leading to the cessation of dukkha. The purpose of wisdom is direct [experiential] insight; the goal is penetrating insight. The goal is to prevail.”

Katam karniyam is ‘what had to be done is done’. In concrete terms: understanding suffering (dukkha sacca); releasing the cause of suffering (samudāya sacca); realizing the end of suffering (nirodha sacca) and cultivating the path leading to the end of suffering (magga sacca).

[34] naparam itthattaya: this is the complete extinction of all ‘being’ by the dhammanuvatti. The fire of ‘becoming’ (bhava) no longer gets fuel.

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About Guy E. Dubois

Guy E. Dubois (1947) has translated various parts of the early Buddhist texts into Dutch, provided them with commentary and makes them available for free on SuttaCentral. He is also the author of several works on the teachings of the Buddha. These can be read online, for those who prefer to hold a real book in their hands, they can be ordered at

The author himself wants to remain true to his initial objective: he does not wish to earn anything from Dhamma. Guy: "Whenever any 'profit' is generated it will go to dana." As a yogi, he is completely unbound with respect to any Buddhist tradition. Thus, he interprets the Dhamma in a free-spirited manner. As such, he is - in the literal sense of the word - a "homeless person," a bhikkhu, a mendicant, who gives his dhutanga (practice) substance in a very personal way. In his books he combines a virulently liberal attitude to life with a great affection for the deep insights of the Buddha.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276