SuttaCentral

Suffering as a gateway to the truth


#21

Well, there’s a reason why not even in the most audacious Buddhist sects, no one speaks of “unconditioned dharmas of the path.” AFAIK, the path is absolutely never the unconditioned in some mystical way. People sometimes speak of “pure dharmas of the path,” but I don’t know if that is EBT language or not, tbh, (which would make an interesting side-discussion in a different thread perhaps) and that language is chosen specifically to avoid “unconditioned dharmas of the path.”

IMO this is a basic Parable of the Raft situation. Perhaps the Raft is assembled from the provisional dharmas of the proverbial stormy sea of saṁsāra, as opposed to “assembled of” the unconditioned dharma(s) of the shore of nirvāṇa, whatever that would mean. The Parable of the Raft is a basic “the path is not the goal” scenario. Because the path is not the goal, the path can be “of suffering,” so to speak. If the Path/Raft is a vital “gateway” of sorts (I am trying to use the language from the title of your thread here), which, without seeing it, navigation can be treacherous and, without entering through it, safety unlikely, then, because it is not the Goal/Shore, it too can be suffering.

IMO.


#22

The raft simile can be interpreted as “the path is not the goal”, or as replacing an ontological mindset (things exist or do not exist) with a pragmatic one (use things skillfully, without attachment). By definition, those who reached the other shore are not in need of such simile. The simile is useful only to those who need it, i.e those who are constructing the raft and trying to reach the other shore.

What i am trying to say is that the relationship between the path and the goal does not seem to be as linear as presented in your post. The act of reduction is extended to the goal “the end of suffering”. The intertwined nature of the four noble truths makes the path begins with right view (which includes knowledge of the third noble truth), Same thing applies to DO where the root cause is presented as “ignorance”, which can be defined as not knowing the four noble truths and/or the three marks of existence.

In light of the above, the duality of the path and the goal (as extremes) and the act of negotiation between the two can be seen as another useful presentation aiming at discovering the middle way, or right grasp, or certainty or whatever we want to call it.

When we think that the path is no longer needed when the goal is reached, same game of language can be extended to the goal: is the goal needed when the goal is reached? When the duality serves its purpose, both seem to be no longer needed.

If the four noble truths are approached as “useful presentation” then contemplating why this presentation can be the basis of an interesting discussion.