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Sequence of gradual training

The Buddha’s Path – The Sequence of the Gradual Training (Part 1. Right View)

Read suttas (https://suttacentral.net) & Obtain right view:

A. Mundane right view (of the law of kamma): AN 3.112 (A i 263), AN 4.232, AN 4.235, AN 5.57AN 6.63, MN 41, MN 60, MN 135, MN 136, SN 42.6

Law of Kamma:

“There is [fruit and result of] what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously; there are good and virtuous recluses and brahmins in the world who have themselves realised by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.” (MN 60)
‘There is a cause and condition for the defilement of beings; beings are defiled owing to a cause and condition. There is a cause and condition for the purification of beings; beings are purified owing to a cause and condition. (MN 60)

Cause of kamma:

“Three things, bhikkhus, are causes of the arising of (bad) kamma. Which three? Greed (lobha) is a source of the arising of kamma, aversion (dosa) is a source of the arising of kamma, delusion (moha) is a source of the arising of kamma.
Whatever kamma, bhikkhus, has the nature of greed, is born of greed is caused by lobha, arises from lobha, that kamma is unwholesome, that kamma is blameable, that kamma results in suffering, that kamma leads to the arising of kamma, that kamma does not lead to the cessation of kamma.
Whatever kamma, bhikkhus, has the nature of aversion, …
Whatever kamma, bhikkhus, has the nature of delusion, …
These, bhikkhus, are three causes of the arising of (bad) kamma.
Three things, bhikkhus, are causes of the arising of (good) kamma. Which three? Alobha is a source of the arising of kamma, adosa is a source of the arising of kamma, amoha is a source of the arising of kamma.
Whatever kamma, bhikkhus, has the nature of alobha, is born of alobha is caused by alobha, arises from alobha, that kamma is kusala, that kamma is blameless, that kamma results in happiness, that kamma leads to the cessation of kamma, that kamma does not lead to the arising of kamma.
Whatever kamma, bhikkhus, has the nature of adosa, …
Whatever kamma, bhikkhus, has the nature of amoha, …
These, bhikkhus, are three causes of the arising of (good) kamma.
– AN 3.112 (A i 263). Nidāna Sutta

Diversity in kamma:

“There is kamma to be experienced in hell, kamma to be experienced in the realm of common animals, kamma to be experienced in the realm of the hungry shades, kamma to be experienced in the human world, kamma to be experienced in the world of the devas.” (AN 6.63)
[Ananda:] “One speaks, Lord, of ‘becoming, becoming’. How does becoming take place?”
[Buddha:] “… Ānanda, kamma is the field, consciousness the seed and craving the moisture for consciousness of beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving to become established in [one of the “three worlds”: the sensual realm, the realm of luminous form, the formless realm]. Thus, there is re-becoming in the future.” (AN 3.76)

Result of kamma:

  “The result of kamma is of three sorts, I tell you: that which arises right here & now, that which arises later [in this lifetime], and that which arises following that.” (AN 6.63)
“Now, Ānanda, take the case of the person here who killed living creatures, stealed, and committed sexual misconduct, used speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical, and was covetous, malicious, and had wrong view, and who, when their body breaks up, after death, is reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell. They must have done a bad deed to be experienced as painful either previously or later, or else at the time of death they undertook wrong view. And that’s why, when their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell. But anyone here who kills living creatures, steals, and commits sexual misconduct, uses speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical, and is covetous, malicious, and has wrong view experiences the result of that in the present life, or in the next life, or in some subsequent period.” (MN 136)

Cessation of kamma:

"Monks, these four types of action have been directly realized, verified, & made known by me. Which four? There is action that is dark with dark result. There is action that is bright with bright result. There is action that is dark & bright with dark & bright result. There is action that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of action. …
"And what is action that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of action? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right Samadhi. This is called action that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of action (and ending of kamma).”
(AN 4.235)

Why Beings Fare as They Do after Death:

Ten unwholesome deeds for bad rebirth and ten wholesome deeds for good rebirth (see three-fold conducts below) (MN 41, SN 42.6)
Ten wholesome deeds:
Right bodily conduct: no killing sentient beings, no taking what is not given, no sexual misconduct.
Right verbal conduct: no lying, no gossiping, no harsh/malicious speech, no pointless speech.
Right mental conduct: no covetousness, no ill will, no wrong view of law of kamma.

Kamma and Its Fruits (MN 60, MN 135, MN 130, AN 5.57)

“… beings are owners of their actions, heirs of their actions; they originate from their actions, are bound to their actions, have their actions as their arbitrator. It is action that distinguishes beings as inferior and superior.”
MN 135 explains that killing leads to an unhappy destination or short life; injuring beings leads to an unhappy destination or sickness; being of an angry and irritable character leads to an unhappy destination or ugliness; being of an envious character leads to an unhappy destination or being uninfluential; not giving requisites to recluses or brahmins leads to an unhappy destination or being poor; being obstinate and arrogant and not honouring one who should be honoured leads to an unhappy destination or being low-born; not visiting a recluse or a brahmin and asking them questions about what is wholesome/unwholesome, blameable/blameless, beneficial/unbeneficial, what should be cultivated/what should not be cultivated leads to an unhappy destination or stupidity.
MN 130 contains the most detailed descriptions of the horrors of hell.

The Perils of Saṃsāra

The Stream of Tears
“What do you think, monks? Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, from being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?.. This is the greater: The tears you have shed… Why is that? From an inconceivable beginning, monks, comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, although beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced suffering, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — long enough to become disenchanted with all formations, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.” (SN 15.3)
The Stream of Blood (SN 15.13)

B. Supramundane right view (the Four Noble Truths): SN 56.11; MN 141, MN 114, MN 9, DN 15, DN 16, DN 22, SN 45.8; AN 9.1
“Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.
“Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which brings renewal of being, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for being, craving for extermination.
“Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, detach from it.
“Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right Samadhi”. (SN 56.11)

[*Need to understand dependent origination (including consciousness) to truly understand the second noble truth; need to understand nibbana to truly understand the third noble truth; need to understand the entire sequence of the path to truly understand the fourth noble truth.]

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Hey @Starter , the idea of the “Q & A” category is to get answers for specific questions.
I don’t think the topic you started is aligned with that principle.
Please consider changing it to the “Discussion” category.
Also, as always, have a look at the link below to understand what is expected of you when participating in this virtual space:

:anjal:

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As @Gabriel_L so gently pointed out, this post is misplaced in this topic; but before the post may be moved or perhaps disappear, I’d like to point out a fundamental misunderstanding that it reveals [edit: since they posted it in Q&A surely to gain feedback].

The writer clearly is very sincere and has put many hours into this work. Yet this list inadvertently misrepresents the Buddha’s gradual training. His gradual training begins with generosity, followed by virtue!

Here is a lovely concise analysis of the Buddha’s gradual training:

  1. Generosity (dana)
  2. Virtue (sila)
  1. Heaven (sagga)
  1. Drawbacks (adinava)
  2. Renunciation (nekkhamma)
  3. The Four Noble Truths (cattari ariya saccani)
  4. The Noble Truth of Dukkha (dukkha ariya sacca)
    * Dukkha
    * The round of rebirth (samsara)
  5. The Noble Truth of the Cause of Dukkha (dukkha samudayo ariya sacca)
    * Craving (tanha)
    * Ignorance (avijja)
  6. The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha (dukkha nirodho ariya sacca)
    * Nibbana
  7. The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Dukkha (dukkha nirodha gamini patipada ariya sacca) — The Noble Eightfold Path. The Commentaries group the eight path factors into three divisions:

Discernment (pañña) :

* 1. [Right View](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-ditthi/index.html)  *(samma-ditthi)*
  * [Intentional action](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-ditthi/kamma.html)  *(kamma)*
  * [Admirable friendship](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-ditthi/kalyanamittata.html)  *(kalyanamittata)*
* 2. [Right Resolve](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-sankappo/index.html)  *(samma-sankappo)*

Virtue (sila) :

* 3. [Right Speech](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-vaca/index.html)  *(samma-vaca)*
* 4. [Right Action](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-kammanto/index.html)  *(samma-kammanto)*
* 5. [Right Livelihood](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-ajivo/index.html)  *(samma-ajivo)*

Concentration (samadhi) :

* 6. [Right Effort](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-vayamo/index.html)  *(samma-vayamo)*
* 7. [Right Mindfulness](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-sati/index.html)  *(samma-sati)*
* 8. [Right Concentration](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-samadhi/index.html)  *(samma-samadhi)*
  * [ *Jhana* ](https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-samadhi/jhana.html)

So how could someone work so hard at this topic and yet get it so wrong? The same source explains:

Many Westerners first encounter the Buddha’s teachings on meditation retreats, which typically begin with instructions in how to develop the skillful qualities of right mindfulness and right concentration. It is worth noting that, as important as these qualities are, the Buddha placed them towards the very end of his gradual course of training. The meaning is clear: to reap the most benefit from meditation practice, to bring to full maturity all the qualities needed for Awakening, the fundamental groundwork must not be overlooked. There is no short-cutting this process.

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Hi friends! Well done @starter on putting this list together. It’s a great way to learn more about the suttas and put them into practice!

With deep respect Ayya, I think you are not correct in this. Actually, it’s a common misunderstanding.
Often we mistakenly conflate two similar but separate gradual methods from the suttas; Anupubbikathā and Anupubbasikkhā.

Anupubbikathā = step-by-step “Gradual Instruction” (kathā meaning speech)
Anupubbasikkhā = the "Gradual Training (sikkha meaning training)

Gradual Instruction was given by the Buddha, often to lay people, such as in the talk directed to Suppabuddha in the Udana, below. This Gradual instruction is the sequence that starts with generosity, virtue, etc, ending in the the 4 Noble Truths (right view):

“This one here is able to understand the Dhamma”, and having regard to the leper Suppabuddha he related a gradual talk, that is to say: talk on giving, talk on virtue, talk on heaven, the danger, degradation, and defilement of sensual desires, and the advantages in renunciation—these he explained. When the Gracious One knew that the leper Suppabuddha was of ready mind, malleable mind, unhindered mind, uplifted mind, trusting mind, then he explained the Dhamma teaching the Awakened Ones have discovered themselves: suffering, origination, cessation, path.
(Suppabuddhakuṭṭhi Sutta Ud 5.3)

Then there’s Anupubbasikkhā , Gradual Training, which is different to the Gradual Instruction sequence but has similarities, which laregly accounts for so much confusion about the two. The Gradual Training is explained in detail in suttas such as Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta MN 27 and describe the entirety of the holy life, especially the life of monastics. The Gradual Training starts with the arising of the Buddha in the world (this is also the arising of Right View) who teaches the Dhamma (also Right View):

… a Realized One arises in the world, perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed. He realizes with his own insight this world—with its gods, Māras and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, gods and humans—and he makes it known to others. He teaches Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And he reveals a spiritual practice that’s entirely complete and pure.

A householder hears that teaching, or a householder’s child, or someone reborn in some good family. They gain faith in the Realized One, and reflect, ‘Living in a house is cramped and dirty, but the life of one gone forth is wide open. It’s not easy for someone living at home to lead the spiritual life utterly full and pure, like a polished shell. Why don’t I shave off my hair and beard, dress in ocher robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness?’ After some time they give up a large or small fortune, and a large or small family circle. They shave off hair and beard, dress in ocher robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness.

Once they’ve gone forth, they take up the training and livelihood of the mendicants. They give up killing living creatures, renouncing the rod and the sword. They’re scrupulous and kind, living full of compassion for all living beings…

There follows in detail large sections on virtue, sense restraint, mindfulness and clear comprehension, contentment, , the bliss of blamelessness, overcoming hindrances etc which is what I believe @Starter is referring to above, looking at the flow and sequence ( the formatting could be made a bit clearer with headings etc which would be easier to read)

Here, the author is right to start with Right View for the gradual training.

I love this aspiration!

Many people feel right view is something that only develops at the very end of the path. But Right View is a bit of a recursive loop, in that a modicum of Right View is always required on the spiritual path, even at the very beginning, otherwise we would never make any progress toward the full Right View which liberates. This seems a bit of a paradox especially when we look at the gradual instruction and see that Right View is at the end of the sequence. The reason for this, I think, is that the Buddha is building up confidence in the listener in his teaching and making sure that the development of understanding is based on experiential wisdom, not just faith; so he begins with things that are easy to know for oneself - generosity is good. Ethics are good. You want to go to heaven? The deities got there doing these things… but… there are some drawbacks… can you see them? And so on… only when the Buddha is convinced of his listeners’ ability to l understand does he introduce the 4 Noble Truths, which is probably the classic way we think of Right View, however, the Buddha has been developing the seeds of right view in the conversation all along and those things that he mentioned are also right view.

Right View is needed at the beginning:

“Mendicants, the dawn is the forerunner and precursor of the sunrise. In the same way, right view is the forerunner and precursor of skillful qualities.

Right view gives rise to right thought. Right thought gives rise to right speech. Right speech gives rise to right action. Right action gives rise to right livelihood. Right livelihood gives rise to right effort. Right effort gives rise to right mindfulness. Right mindfulness gives rise to right immersion. Right immersion gives rise to right knowledge. Right knowledge gives rise to right freedom.”
Pubbangama Sutta AN 10.121

Often in the suttas, Right View is defined in various clear and practical ways which seem more applicable to our daily lives and perhaps more easy to attain compared to the lofttier Right View that liberates:

Right View In Brief:

“One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view: this is one’s right view.”
Mahācattārīsaka Sutta MN 117

Right View as the Standard pericope on Kamma and Knowledge

‘There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously; there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’ This is Right View…"

I like that definition above tells us that generosity is actually right view, which neatly dove-tails together the Gradual Instruction (starting with generosity) and (Gradual Training) starting with Right View, doesnt it? And here, we also see the mention of heavens, which also forms part of the gradual instruction sequence too.

Two-fold Division of Right View
This is often called Mundane and Transcendental Right View, the mundane version being worldly and conditioned " that is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions" is the same definition given just above, about giving, sacrifice, rebirth, other worlds etc, and the transcendental being “noble, taintless and surpamundane”, which is Right View as the Path Factor :

“And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path? The wisdom, the faculty of wisdom, the power of wisdom, the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, the path factor of right view in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the noble path and is developing the noble path: this is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path.

“One makes an effort to abandon wrong view and to enter upon right view: this is one’s right effort. Mindfully one abandons wrong view, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right view: this is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three states run and circle around right view, that is, right view, right effort, and right mindfulness…Mahācattārīsaka Sutta MN 117

Right View as the Ten Wholesome Actions
Here again we see the recursive loop where right view is needed to understand what is skillful but is also part of what is skillful.

A noble disciple understands the unskillful and its root, and the skillful and its root. When they’ve done this, they’re defined as a noble disciple who has Right View, whose view is correct, who has experiential confidence in the teaching, and has come to the true teaching…
And what is the skillful? Avoiding killing living creatures, stealing, and sexual misconduct; avoiding speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical; contentment, good will, and right view. This is called the skillful. And what is the root of the skillful? Contentment, love, and understanding. This is called the root of the skillful. Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta MN 9

Right View is Seeing the Four Noble Truths

“And what is right view? Knowing about suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering. This is called right view.”
Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta MN10

Right View is also knowing Dependent Origination, which is how most people think of right view, which seems to put right view far out of reach somehow, making us feel like it is not something we can see right here and now in front of us, when actually, looking at the various ways the Buddha defined Right View, is very tangible and visible to us. Seeing those things mentioned above as right view would very much propel us on the path!

When we see the exclamation of people’s delight in hearing the dhamma and understanding something they had previously been ignorant of, that is a little bit of Right View, too:

“Excellent, sir! Excellent! As if he were righting the overturned, or revealing the hidden, or pointing out the path to the lost, or lighting a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes can see what’s there, the Buddha has made the teaching clear in many ways.
Sāmaññaphala Sutta DN 2

For many of us, hearing the Dhamma for the very first time, and on subsequent hearing is that spark of Right View that spurs us onto the path. In a way, it is that small bit of Right View which we need to make progress, which is why Right View is also at the beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path. This is why it is placed at the beginning of the Gradual Training and also at the end!

Also important of course is yoniso manasakara (wise attention); it wouldn’t matter how much we hear about gradual training or gradual instruction if we aren’t paying wise attention!

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IMHO, the gradual training too seems to occur at two levels.

The Mundane training (for want of a better term) is aimed at the layperson. It is chiefly concerned with understanding the law of Kamma, analyzing one’s defects of character/action and fixing them with a view to achieving a better rebirth. This just skims the basics of Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha and Dependent Origination - all that is needed is to develop sufficient understanding so as to be able to let go of Desire/ Aversion to the extent that one does not commit unskillful actions and becomes more ethical. Samadhi is not essential, but is encouraged. Becoming a stream enterer is the apex of this path.

The Transcendental training is for those with a taste for the higher teachings- Monks and certain motivated laypeople. This digs deeper into the Dhamma, with the aim of going beyond Kamma and therefore, transcending Dukkha. To do this, one must investigate the ultimate nature of what we take to be our Self, Reality and the Experience thereof. This leads to a much deeper understanding of concepts such as Anicca, Anatta and Dependent Origination. Developing good Samadhi (at least first Jhana) is essential to the development of Tranquility and Insight to a level where things can be experientially understood. Once there arises an understanding of the central role of Craving in keeping the process of Everything going, the hindrances can be seen through and put aside. Doing it just once is the fruit of Stream entry. Having let go of it all finally and forever is Nibbana.

This is my current understanding. Please confirm it with a teacher. I feel it may help to be able to classify the suttas better.
:pray: :smiley: :pray:

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Hi @Starter, thank you for sharing your personal sutta research with us for comment, and thereby stimulating an interesting discussion.
Seeing how it didn’t ask a simple question that is easily answered, I’ve moved the discussion to the Discussion category.

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The standard order of anicca, dukkha, anatta is for an important reason, that attempting to grasp impermanent things results in suffering, like attempting to touch a spinning wheel. As with the four noble truths there is a logical progression in the order which should be preserved in the interests of individual understanding:

“Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: is form permanent or impermanent?” — “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” — “Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?” — “Painful, venerable Sir.” — “Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this is I, this is my self’”? — “No, venerable sir.”—SN 22.59

Impermanence itself is a direct experience:

“The other two characteristics of conditioned existence – dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) and anattã (absence of a self) – become evident as a consequence of a direct experience and thereby realistic appreciation of the truth of impermanence. The discourses frequently point to this relationship between the three characteristics by presenting a progressive pattern that leads from awareness of impermanence (aniccasaññã) via acknowledging the unsatisfactory nature of what is impermanent (anicce dukkhasaññã) to appreciating the selfless nature of what is unsatisfactory (dukkhe anattasaññã).

Sustained contemplation of impermanence leads to a shift in one’s normal way of experiencing reality, which hitherto tacitly assumed the temporal stability of the perceiver and the perceived objects. Once both are experienced as changing processes, all notions of stable existence and substantiality vanish, thereby radically reshaping one’s paradigm of experience.”

—-Analayo

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