At one time the Fortunate One was staying near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana. There the Fortunate One addressed the group of five practitioners:

“Practitioners, these two extremes should not be cultivated by one who has gone forth. What two? Indulgence in sensual pleasures, which is low, crude, ordinary, ignoble, and pointless. And indulgence in self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and pointless. Avoiding these two extremes, the Thus-Gone woke up by understanding the middle way of practice, which gives vision and knowledge, and leads to peace, direct knowledge, awakening, and nirvana.

And what is that middle way of practice? It is simply this noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi. This is that middle way of practice, which gives vision and knowledge, and leads to peace, direct knowledge, awakening, and nirvana.

Now this is the noble truth of misfortune. Rebirth is unfortunate; old age is unfortunate; illness is unfortunate; death is unfortunate; association with the disliked is unfortunate; separation from the liked is unfortunate; not getting what you wish for is unfortunate. In brief, the five grasping aggregates are unfortunate.

Now this is the noble truth of the origin of suffering. It’s the [selfish] desire that leads to future rebirth, mixed up with relishing and greed, taking pleasure in various different realms. That is, desire for sensual pleasures, desire to continue existence, and desire to end existence.

Now this is the noble truth of the cessation of misfortune. It’s the fading away and cessation of that very same [selfish] desire with nothing left over; giving it away, letting it go, releasing it, and not adhering to it.

Now this is the noble truth of the practice that leads to the cessation of misfortune. It is simply this noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi.

‘This is the noble truth of misfortune.’ Such was the vision, knowledge, wisdom, realization, and light that arose in me regarding teachings not learned before from another. ‘This noble truth of misfortune should be completely understood.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of misfortune has been completely understood.’ Such was the vision that arose in me …

‘This is the noble truth of the origin of misfortune.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the origin of misfortune should be given up.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the origin of misfortune has been given up.’ Such was the vision that arose in me …

‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of misfortune.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of misfortune should be realized.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of misfortune has been realized.’ Such was the vision that arose in me …

‘This is the noble truth of the practice that leads to the cessation of misfortune.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the practice that leads to the cessation of misfortune should be developed.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the practice that leads to the cessation of misfortune has been developed.’ Such was the vision, knowledge, wisdom, realization, and light that arose in me regarding teachings not learned before from another.

As long as my true knowledge and vision about these four noble truths was not fully purified in these three perspectives and twelve aspects, I didn’t announce my supreme perfect awakening in this world with its gods, Māras, and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its gods and humans.

But when my true knowledge and vision about these four noble truths was fully purified in these three perspectives and twelve aspects, I announced my supreme perfect awakening in this world with its gods, Māras, and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its gods and humans.

Knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘My freedom is unshakable; this is my last rebirth; now there’ll be no more future lives.’”

That is what the Fortunate One said. Satisfied, the group of five practitioners was happy with what the Fortunate One said.

And while this discourse was being spoken, the stainless, immaculate vision of the Dharma arose in Venerable Koṇḍañña: “Everything that has a beginning has an end.”

And when the Fortunate One rolled forth the Wheel of Dharma, the earth gods raised the cry: “Near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana, the Fortunate One has rolled forth the supreme Wheel of Dharma. And that wheel cannot be rolled back by any ascetic or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.”

Hearing the cry of the Earth Gods, the Gods of the Four Great Kings … the Gods of the Thirty-Three … the Gods of Yama … the Joyful Gods … the Gods Who Love to Create … the Gods Who Control the Creations of Others … the Gods of Brahmā’s Host raised the cry: “Near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana, the Fortunate One has rolled forth the supreme Wheel of Dharma. And that wheel cannot be rolled back by any ascetic or brahmin or god or Māra or Brahmā or by anyone in the world.”

And so at that moment, in that instant, the cry soared up to the Brahmā realm. And this galaxy shook and rocked and trembled. And an immeasurable, magnificent light appeared in the world, surpassing the glory of the gods.

Then the Fortunate One expressed this heartfelt sentiment: “Koṇḍañña has really understood! Koṇḍañña has really understood!”

And that’s how Venerable Koṇḍañña came to be known as “Koṇḍañña Who Understood”.


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This work by Bhikkhu Sujato, revised by Jay Forrest is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a public domain work at https://suttacentral.net/. Please reference it as: R-Sujato.

For more information: https://jayforrest.org/r-sujato-translation-explained/