It is no exaggeration to say that the Eightfold Path is the most essential practical methodology in primitive Buddhism.The Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta, which is said to represent the first sermon of the Buddha, also states that the Eightfold Path is the way to emancipation. However, the Nikāyas treat the wisdom of the Four Noble Truths as the import of the Right View. Since the Right View is the firststage of the Eightfold Path, it should be a relatively elementary practice. In that case, how can it be the wisdom of the Four Noble Truths? In addition to the Eightfold Path, the Threefold Training (morality, concentration and wisdom) is another essential practical methodology in primitive Buddhism. It may also be said to be a way that leads to emancipation. This brings us to the question of whether these two practical methodologies present different ways to emancipation or whether they present the same way using different forms of expression. This paper compares the practical methodology described in the Mahācattārīsaka-sutta and Cūļahatthipadopama-sutta of the Majjhima-Nikāya and other texts in the Nikāyas, and my conclusions are given below. The Eightfold Path is a helical practical methodology of which Right Concentration represents the core. In order to understand the practical methodology of the Eightfold Path, one must accept the point made in the Mahācattārīsaka-sutta that the Eightfold Path is to be systematically practised. In this scripture, the Eightfold Path is divided into a Defiling(āsava) Eightfold Path and a Transendental (anāsava) Eightfold Path. The Defiling Right View means that one believes the effects of kamma and that enlightened men exist in the world, etc. The Defiling Right View is the motive for practice, and because it also serves to distinguish between the evil path and the right path, it is indispensable. However, it is not the wisdom of the Four Noble Truths. By using this Defiling Right View practice begins. While abandoning Defiling Thought, Defiling Speech, Defiling Action and Defiling Livelihood, one performs one's perfect daily life with the accompaniment of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness. After the completion of perfect daily life there is no reverie and no regret, and through the accompaniment of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration is attained. Then a certain stage is reached in which the wisdom of the Four Noble Truths arises. Here one stage of practice is completed, and the practitioner becames a Stream-Winner (sotāpanna). At this point the Eightfold Path becomes the Transendental Eightfold Path. The wisdom of the Four Noble Truths is the import of the Right View of this Transcendental Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path as described in the scriptures usually corresponds to this Transendental Eightfold Path. Above this stage the eight elements of the Eightfold Path are performed simultaneously. If defilements and passions(kilesa) are completely abondoned, the stage of an arahant is attained. The practical methodology of the Threefold Training consistently explains a method of practise leading from the elementary stage to the final stage, namely, the goal of practise. Even though the practical methodology of the Threefold Training is the same as that of the Eightfold Path, it was only taught as a gradated series. On the other hand, since the Eightfold Path is not only a practical methodology, but also shows the merits of Saints, it was taught as a helical practical methodology.
インド哲学仏教学研究 4, 3-15, 1996-12-20