"Monks, [likewise] before I attained supreme Enlightenment, while I was still a Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'This world, alas, has fallen into sore distress. There is being born, growing old, dying, passing over and being reborn. But from all this suffering, from decay and death, no way of release is apparent. Surely there must be some way of release discoverable from this suffering, this decay-and-death.'
"Then, monks, this thought occurred to me 'What being present does decay-and-death come to be? What conditions decay-and-death?' Then, monks, as I considered this thoroughly, the insight and comprehension dawned on me: 'Birth being present, death-and-decay comes to be; decay-and-death is conditioned by birth.' Then the thought occurred to me: 'What being present does birth come to be? What conditions birth?... becoming... grasping... craving... feeling... contact... the six sense-bases... name-form... consciousness... (kamma-) formations?...' Then, as I considered this thoroughly, the insight and comprehension dawned on me: 'Ignorance being present the formations come to be; the formations are conditioned by ignorance.' And so we have it like this: 'Conditioned by ignorance are the formations, conditioned by the formations is consciousness... So there comes about the arising of this entire mass of suffering.'
"'Arising, arising!' — At this thought, monks, there arose in me, concerning things unheard of before, vision, knowledge, understanding, light.
"Then, monks, the thought occurred to me: 'By the absence of what does decay-and-death not come to be?' Then, monks, as I considered this thoroughly, the insight and comprehension dawned on me: 'In the absence of birth, decay-and-death does not come to be; from the ceasing of birth comes the ceasing of decay-and-death... becoming... grasping... craving... feeling... contact... the six sense-bases... name-form... consciousness... the formations... by the ceasing of ignorance comes the ceasing of the formations... So comes about the cessation of this entire mass of suffering.'
"'Cessation, cessation!' — At this thought, monks, there arose in me, concerning things unheard of before, vision, knowledge, understanding, light."
- Sakyamuni. The designation is found here only in the superscription, and is rare in the Pali Canon (Childers in his dictionary deprecates its use in Western writings), though later frequently used in Mahaayaana writings to distinguish the Buddha Gotama (Sanskrit Gautama) from other Buddhas there referred to. Here too, other Buddhas have just been mentioned (see n. 2).
- Preceding sections have told the same story about Gotama's predecessors, the Buddhas Vipassii, Sikhii, Vessabhu, Kakusandha, Ko.naagamma, and Kassapa. All those who attain Buddhahood are assumed to undergo the same basic experiences, at immense intervals of time.
- This term, in Theravaada Buddhism, is applied to one who is on his way to becoming a Buddha, thus normally to Gotama before his enlightenment (but also to the previous Buddhas mentioned in n. 2, before their enlightenment). The more famous Sanskrit term Bodhi-sattva means literally "Enlightenment-Being." It may however be a false Sanskritization for Bodhi-sakta (which would also be Bodhi-satta in Pali) "one who is attached to or desires to gain Enlightenment." See relevant article in EB [Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Colombo 1961], and Har Dayal, The Bodhisattva Doctrine in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature, London 1932. For an instance of Mahaayaana influence on the Theravaada commentarial tradition see also Bhikkhu Bodhi, The All-Embracing Net of Views (BPS 1978), pp. 49f, 254-330.
- Yoniso manasikaaraa: a frequent expression. Yoni (lit. "womb") means "source, foundation," etc. The modern idiom might be "investigation in depth."
- Sankhaaras, i.e., wholesome or unwholesome volitional activities of body, speech or mind (see BD [Buddhist Dictionary, by Ven. Nyaa.natiloka (2nd ed. by Ven. Nyaa.naponika, Colombo 1972)] s. v. sankhaara (I) 1.)
- Cakkhu: lit. "eye." "Knowledge with the sense of vision" (SA [Sa.myutta Nikaaya A.t.thakathaa (commentary)]).
- Ñaa.na: "As meaning what is known" (SA).
- Paññaa: "wisdom." As meaning "penetration" (SA).