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Early Indian and Theravada Buddhism: Soteriological Controversy and Diversity By Brad ...

Chapter 1:  The Pāli Nikāyas
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Early Indian and Theravada Buddhism:

Chapter 1

The Pāli Nikāyas

Directions Taken in the
Texts on Meditation

There is, bhikkhus, that sphere where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no air; no sphere consisting of the infinity of space, no sphere consisting of the infinity of consciousness, no sphere consisting of nothingness, no sphere consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; neither this world nor any other world nor both; neither sun nor moon. Here, bhikkhus, I say there is no coming, no going, no staying, no deceasing, no arising. Not fixed, not movable, it has no support. Just this is the end of suffering. (Udāna 8.1)

Prior to this study, most extended treatments of the noble persons and their paths have focused on the four most frequently occurring types, known throughout almost all Buddhist traditions as the four paths (paṭipanna) and four fruits (phala). Given that these hierarchical designations of spiritual progress have already been treated thoroughly and clearly by other scholars,1 they will not be examined in much detail in this study. However, because they do serve as fundamental indicators of progress along the path, their significance should be briefly discussed here. These four levels of attainment by which Buddhist practitioners