Suttas with other possible versions of the gradual path

Dear Friends

Please present here possible evidence you find of other presentations of the (gradual) Path to Enlightenment, the Fourth Noble Truth. Dr Rod Bucknell did at least two early studies on this in the 80s, identifying around 50 different probable presentations of the Path. I don’t know if the second study is available freely online, if so, please provide a link. I believe I may still have it somewhere. I think it would be good to expand on his work.

Please read his first study to get an idea of the gradual Path in question, available online e.g. from a quick search, here:

I request the presentations be from the first four Nikayas, just as Dr Bucknell’s focus.

To keep the material simple, please start new topics to discuss various presentations, or your opinion as to whether they could be a presentation of the Path. You can already see such topics on this forum, such as the Tenfold Path.

Comparisons of probable different versions of the path, welcome here, in table form, like Dr Bucknell did.

best wishes


Hi all

Having just formatted I.B. Horner’s MN70 translation for SuttaCentral. I started this topic and would like to present the path detailed there compared with what has been called ‘the transcendent dependent origination’ from SN12.23, which is found there alongside the traditional Dependent Origination.

Sorry, it seems like we cannot make tables in this forum, which would display the info better, so below, a cross (x) means, it would seem there is no equivalent term in the relevant sutta.


drawing close…gladness
sit nearby…x
lend an ear…x
hears Dhamma…x
remembers Dhamma…x
tests the meaning…x
approval is born…x
desire is born…rapture
makes an effort…tranquillity
weighs it up…happiness
realises…knowledge and vision of things as they really are
penetrates with wisdom…dispassion
sees…knowledge of destruction

best wishes


Dear Friends

I worked out how to present the info in a table on here. That is, make a table and take a screen shot and upload the screen shot as a picture (jpg).

So, here I present the above table with the 7 Types of Disciples added.

best wishes


I have seen a very comprehesive analysis of gradual training prepared by someone. I can’t locate it right now.

Hi Sarath

this thread is for presentation of evidence of suttas that seem to present a different and clearly gradual version of the path

your post does not do that, please stick to the topic

best wishes

Actually I that particular Schedule provide a comprehensive analysis of all the Sutta. I do not intend to de rail the discussion but to enhance it. Sorry if I misundestood you.

Here I add what I believe are details of the Path to Stream Entry.

I don’t know how much I can add before it becomes unreadable in this forum.

best wishes

Includes various visual maps with sutta citations


Hi Javier

Thanks for that Bh. Jayavara did point me to his work a few years ago.

As you can see, his mapping does not show the pure simplicity found in, what I believe are authentic suttas presenting the path and so, does not match Dr Bucknell’s work that we are following in this post, so this is off topic, sad to say.

Best wishes

I have uploaded a corrected version of this table here:

It was pointed out to me that ‘knowledge of destruction’ and ‘liberation’ are the other way around in the sutta. So that has been changed in the table.

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Here is the table with more comparative suttas, especially, the 16 Steps of Mindfulness of Breathing and 13 Jhāna Factors.

By adding the full set of Jhana factors, extracted from the text, not blindly following the commentary and tradition, I propose that the Jhana (Chan, Zen - Awareness) teaching had been mixed up with Right Concentration at some point and the meme (four stock paragraphs) substituted in places for the term ‘Right Concentration’. This is similar to Dr Bucknell’s proposition re the satta-sadhamma and sati-sampajañña.

(The Academia link has also been updated with this A3 size page, for print settings.)

(For anyone else interested in making such comparative tables, I hope there will be some others: I saved the spreadsheet as a PDF, then converted the PDF to JPG.)

The reference should be AN3.86 not AN3.90.

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Here I compare some (the consistent) well known explanations of the different types of disciples and other teachings.

Changes posted at: (PDF) 4, 6 and 7 disciple types and the gradual path | Brother Joe Smith -

‘striving’ is highlighted and this table seems to show that the SE strives for faith and (a vision of the) Dhamma and the others strive for implementation of the Dhamma (practice), practising the same path (seeing the Five Clung-to Aggregates as impermanent, suffering and not soul) and gradually eradicating the other fetters.

This brings the Buddha’s last words to life for me: ‘strive on with diligence, all conditioned things (emotions, is my preferred translation) are impermanent’.

The 37 bodhipakkhiya dhamma:
Four right exertions
Four foundations of mindfulness
Four bases of power
Five faculties
Five powers
Seven factors of enlightenment
Noble Eightfold path

others- Gradual training (anupubbiya sikkha) MN107, Purifications (visuddhi) in the Ratavinita sutta, MN24.

with metta

Hi Matt

It does not seem you have read the study done by Dr Bucknell, if you have, then please show how the 37 Factors, MN107 and MN24, that you mention, present a gradual path and how that fits with the path pattern identified by him.

I previously included the four Right Exertions (Efforts) in my comparative chart above, showing they cover the whole path, not just the Right Effort of the Noble Eightfold Path. Any intelligent person will work out that effort is needed from the start.

Dr Bucknell has presented good evidence that The Noble Eightfold Path is probably incomplete.


Yes, that indeed reads as step by step, to me.

It is encouraging to see ‘step by step’ presentations of practice. Though the 37bhj do not seem to fit the pattern of the ‘step by step’ path identified by Dr Rod Bucknell back in the 1980s, which I believe is generally authentic, as it follows the pattern of ethics, meditation and wisdom, as the Tenfold Path Does, unlike the ‘Noble Eightfold Path’.

I previously tried to see if the 37bhj fitted in the pattern of the three trainings, but could not do it. If anyone can do it, I’d find that very interesting.

best wishes

This would mean that a stream enterer cannot practice ‘right concentration’ and therefore there are no stream enterers who practice the Noble Eightfold Path. Neither also once returners. That would seem odd.

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