This week, we will discuss the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, or the Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion. This is the first sermon that Buddha gave to the five ascetics after reaching enlightenment, and contain one of the most fundamental thoughts in Buddhism.
We will look at one primary text and two discourses:
You may find the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.harv.html — Thanissaro Bhikkhu is a big figure in Pali translations, but I liked the Peter Harvey version better. There are different translations on that site, so browse around! If you want a more word-by-word translation, please go to http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samyutta/maha/sn56-011.html.
We will also look at A Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma by The Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw, and Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel: Talks on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism by Venerable Master Sheng Yen. Ven. Sayādaw was a notable figure in Theravada Buddhism, and Ven. Sheng Yen was a dharma heir and key figure in Chan Buddhism.
For the Sayādaw text, we will read sections from Part 4 to 7 which explicate The Four Noble Truths, from the 1st truth (p. 84 – 113: or p. 87 – 113), 2nd truth (p. 114 – 150: or p. 114 – 124, 145 – 150), 3rd and 4th truth (p. 151 – 197: or p. 151 – 159, 169 – 171, 172, 195 – 197). We will also read Part 3 which explains the Noble Eightfold Path (p. 58 – 84: or p. 58 – 64, 70 – 71, 74 – 76, 82 – 84). I know it looks like a lot of reading, but if you look at the book, its pages are quite small, so hopefully it won’t be too much.
For the Sheng Yen text, feel free to read all of it.
You don’t have to read both of the texts — they are slightly different perspectives on the same topic. We are only reading to have a better understanding of the Sutta, not to discuss the texts academically. However, I do highly advise reading all of the Sayādaw text if possible.