The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Pali; Skt. Dharmacakra Pravartana Sūtra; T. chos kyi ‘khor lo’i mdo ཆོས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོའི་མདོ་; C. zhuan fulan jing 轉法輪經; English: The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma) is considered to be a record of the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. According to the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha gave this teaching in Sarnath, India, to the five ascetics (his former companions with whom he had spent six years practicing austerities).
The main topic of this sutta is the Four Noble Truths, which are the central teachings of Buddhism that provide a unifying theme, or conceptual framework, for all of Buddhist thought. This sutta also introduces the Buddhist concepts of the middle way, impermanence, and dependent origination.
Context and structure of the teaching
The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is said to be the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. It is taught that the Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree by the river Neranjara, in Bodhgaya, India, and afterwards, he remained silent for forty-nine days. The Buddha then journeyed from Bodhgaya to Sarnath, a small town near the sacred city of Varanasi in central India. There he met his five former companions, the ascetics with whom he had shared six years of hardship. His former companions were at first suspicious of the Buddha, thinking he had given up his search for the truth when he renounced their ascetic ways. But upon seeing the radiance of the Buddha, they requested him to teach what he had learned. Thereupon the Buddha gave the teaching that was later recorded as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which introduces the fundamental concepts of Buddhist thought, such as the middle way and the four noble truths.
The five ascetics
The Buddha addressed his first teaching, or discourse, to his five former companions, who are commonly referred to as the five ascetics. In this discourse, the Buddha addresses the ascetics as bhikkhus, a term which is normally translated as a Buddhist monk. However, Ajahn Sucitto explains that in this context bhikkhus means “alms-mendicants,” those who live on the free-will offerings of others.
Ajahn Sucitto explains:
- The five bhikkhus at Deer Park were named Kondañña, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanāma, and Assaji. Kondañña was the eldest. Many years previously, as a novice brahmin, he had been invited to the palace of the raja Suddhodana along with seven of his peers to see the baby Siddhattha Gotama [the future Buddha] and give predictions as to his destiny. They all agreed that this baby would be either a great emperor or a Buddha; perhaps this was why he was named Siddhattha, which means “Accomplishes the Goal.” Interestingly, it was Kondañña alone who reckoned that Siddhattha was destined for Buddhahood. Four of the brahmins who had been present at the palace later told their sons to keep their eyes on Siddhattha, as he was destined for greatness. These sons grew up to become the other four of the Group of Five.
The middle way
These five ascetics had renounced worldly life and, at the time of this meeting, they had been practicing severe austerities for many years in order to further their spiritual path and realize the ultimate truth. Therefore, the Buddha began his teaching by addressing their current situation. He affirmed their belief that indulging in sense pleasures would not lead to true freedom. He then stated that their practices of severe austerity, denial of the sense pleasures, would also not lead to the truth. Thus, the Buddha begins the teaching by asserting the position of the middle way, of avoiding extremes of self-indulgence or self-denial. The Buddha asserted that neither of these paths would lead to ultimate truth.
Ajahn Sucitto explains:
- But in the case of the Group of Five, the Buddha was addressing “those who had gone forth.” They were samanas, “strivers”: they needed no recommendation that truth was worth seeking or that they had to apply themselves to it. They just needed to have the means clarified. So here the Buddha addresses them with some advice on the cultivation of right means as an expression and experience of enlightenment itself. And he begins with affirming the view that the ascetics would already have adopted—that chasing after and getting hooked on sense-pleasure is unworthy and useless. He starts where they already are—where every path should start. Then he balances that out by negating the ascetic view: saying that getting caught up with self-mortification was also useless. He thereby cuts away the ground and leaves them dangling in the middle, saying that it is in this “no position” that peace is to be found.
After rejecting the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-denial, the Buddha then asserts that the "middle way" is to follow the noble eightfold path—right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
The four noble truths
After presenting the middle way of the noble eightfold path, the Buddha then explains the four noble truths—the truth of suffering, its cause, its end, and the path to that end. Ajahn Sucitto explains:
- The four noble truths are about “suffering,” how it arises, how it ceases, and a way to bring around that ceasing. These occupy the center of the Buddha’s teaching, because they already are central to human experience. Everyone knows the feeling of lack or loss or conflict in their lives: this is what the Buddha called dukkha, often translated as “suffering,” but covering a whole range of meanings and nuances.
The Buddha asserted that dukkha, or suffering, can be transcended by following the noble eightfold path.
No-self and dependent origination
In this sutta, after presenting the four noble truths, the Buddha then states: "My release is assured. This is the last birth. There is no further becoming.” Here the Buddha is asserting that he has realized selflessness or no-self (Pali: anatta)—the Buddhist view that what we call the "self" does not exist as a singular, independent, permanent entity, but is rather an ongoing process. Therefore, through complete understanding of the four noble truths, the Buddha has removed the causes and conditions for an ordinary rebirth (rebirth in samsara). This phrase can also be understood as an expression of dependent origination.
Realization of impermanence
This sutta then states that while listening to the Buddha's teaching, the eldest of the five ascetics, Kondañña, has the following realization: “Whatever has the characteristic to arise, all that ceases.” This is an essential formulation of the Buddhist view of impermanence (Pali: anicca). The realization of impermanence is considered an important stage on the path to enlightenment. Ajahn Sucitto explains: "... in the Buddha’s discourses, this realization of impermanence represents the first major breakthrough of stream-entry."
The wheel of dharma is set in motion
The sutta then states:
- When the wheel of Dhamma had been set rolling by the Blessed One, the devas of the earth raised the cry: “At Vāranāsi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the incomparable wheel of Dhamma has been set rolling by the Blessed One—and it can’t be stopped by any samana or brahmin or deva or māra or brahma or anyone whomsoever in the world.”
Ajahn Sucitto explains:
- This section of the sutta describes the effect the Buddha’s turning of the wheel of truth had on various celestial realms. The text is noncommittal; it simply states that various divine beings, or devas, [...] hear the teaching and start proclaiming it to each other.
In Ajahn Sucitto's commentary on this sutta, he describes the various realms where the Buddha's teachings were proclaimed.
Light in the world
The sutta concludes with the following passage:
- So in that instant, at that very moment, the word traveled up to the realm of the high divinities. This ten-thousandfold world system trembled and shook and resounded, and a great measureless radiance, surpassing the shining glory of the devas, was made manifest in the world.
- Then the Blessed One uttered the pronouncement: “It is Kondañña who has seen deeply! Kondañña who has seen deeply.” And so it was that the name of Venerable Kondañña became “Kondañña the deep seer.”
Ajahn Sucitto explains the first part of this passage as follows:
- In The Discourse That Sets Turning the Wheel of Truth, the Buddha’s teachings were set rolling and produced a great light. It’s a light that is said to have radiated through the ten-thousandfold world system: from the twenty brahma realms of the highest divinities all the way down through the eight hells. Even down there, according to the accounts, it was a great moment too. In those places of utter gloom, there was an illumination by which the poor wretches could see that there were other beings in the same predicament. By the standards of those places, this was a burst of light. For a moment, some sense of not being alone in the mess lessened the intensity of it. Others have been here, and are here, now. It’s good to remember this. This light has this broad focus and also is long lasting. It continues to shine today. Once again, if we translate cosmological events into events in consciousness, the light that we’ve seen glowing throughout the discourse is the light of wisdom.
Ajahn Sucitto explains the second part of this passage ("It is Kondañña who has seen deeply!") as follows:
- At this time, the Buddha himself makes no mention of all the shining and shaking going on; more to the point, he was more concerned that the Dhamma he had taught had triggered a realization in Kondañña’s mind. If this could be communicated to one person, then there was no reason why it couldn’t be communicated to another. A big wheel of light—encompassing ethics, meditation, and wisdom—had started shining. This was a beginning, and it encouraged the Buddha to continue and develop his teaching.
Modern scholars agree that the teachings of the Buddha were passed down in an oral tradition for approximately a few hundred years after the passing of the Buddha; the first written recordings of these teachings were made hundreds of years after the Buddha's passing. Geshe Tashi Tsering explains:
- The sutras we have now in the Buddhist canon come from actual discourses of the Buddha that were memorized by the Buddha’s disciples and passed down in an oral lineage. Only centuries later were they written down, retaining much of the convention of the oral tradition. The repetition of phrases and even paragraphs was designed for easy memorization, and the whole style was developed to facilitate ritual recitation. As such sutras can be difficult reading, but their content, the actual words of the Buddha, are an infallible map out of the suffering that currently traps us.
Contemporary scholar Richard Gombrich remarks:
- Of course we do not really know what the Buddha said in his first sermon ... and it has even been convincingly demonstrated[lower-alpha 1] that the language of the text as we have it is in the main a set of formulae, expressions which are by no means self-explanatory but refer to already established doctrines. Nevertheless, the compilers of the Canon put in the first sermon what they knew to be the very essence of the Buddha's Enlightenment.
Sanskrit and Pali versions of the text
Differences between Sanskrit and Pali versions
The Sanskrit and Pali versions of this sutta contain minor differences. For example, Tibetan Buddhist scholar Geshe Tashi Tsering states:
- In Tibetan monasteries, as in most traditions within Mahayana Buddhism, the sutras (the discourses of the Buddha) and the shastras (the canonical commentaries) that are studied originate from the Sanskrit-language canon. In this case, however, we are using the sutra translated from the Pali language.[lower-alpha 2] Although it differs slightly in style and structure from the Sanskrit, the differences are minor, and in the West this is the better-known version.
In the Pali Canon, this sutta is contained in the Sutta Pitaka's Saṃyutta Nikāya, chapter 56 ("Saccasamyutta" or "Connected Discourses on the Truths"), sutta number 11. (Thus, an abbreviated reference to this sutta is "SN 56:11").[lower-alpha 3]
A similar account can be found in the Pali Canon's Vinaya Pitaka's Mahākhandhaka.
The Chinese Canon includes editions of this sutra from several different early Buddhist schools, including the Sarvāstivāda, Dharmaguptaka, and Mahīśāsaka schools, as well as an edition translated as early as 170 CE by An Shigao.
The Tibetan Canon includes Tibetan translations of this sutra from both Pali and Sanskrit source texts. The original Sanskrit text on which the Tibetan translation was based is no longer extant.
Translations into English
Translations of the Pali Canon version of this text include:
- Bhikkhu Sujato (trans.), Rolling Forth the Wheel of Dhamma, SuttaCentral
- Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.), Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma
- Ñanamoli Thera (trans.) (1993). Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth. Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.nymo.html.
- Piyadassi Thera (trans.) (1999). Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth. Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.piya.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1993). Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion. Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.than.html.
- Resources for researching the Buddha's First Sutta - contains links to seven different translations of the Pali text by notable Theravada translators
- Thich Nhat Hanh (trans.) (1999). "Discourse on Turning the Wheel of the Dharma: Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta". Included in The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, p. 257.
- Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma (trans.) (1997). "The First Discourse of the Buddha: Turning the Wheel of Dhamma". Included in The First Discourse of the Buddha, Wisdom, pp. 17-20.
- Walpola Rahula (trans.) (2007). "Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth". Included in What the Buddha Taught, Kindle Location 2055.
Translations from the Chinese Canon include:
- Lapis Lazuli Texts: Saṃyuktāgama 379. Turning the Dharma Wheel. This is a translation from the Chinese canon; the Chinese version is based on the Sarvastivadin Sanskrit version of the text (Dharmacakra Pravartana Sutra).
The translations from the Tibetan Canon include:
- The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma; translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
- The Tibetan ‘Missing Translator’s Colophon’ Version of the Dharma Wheel Discourse: translated by Erick Tsiknopoulos (2013) This is a translation of one of two versions of the Dharma Wheel Sutra in Tibetan, known as the 'Missing Translator's Colophon' version (Tib: 'gyur byang med pa). It is has a correlate in Chinese, translated into English by Lapiz Lazuli Texts (see section on translations from Chinese Canon).
Translations from multiple sources include:
- Thich Nhat Hanh (1991), Old Path White Clouds, Parallel Press, Chapter "Turning the Wheel of the Dharma"
- Thich Nhat Hanh has produced a notable rendering of the fist teaching of the Buddha in his biography of the Buddha entitled Old Path White Clouds. Thich Nhat Hanh relied on multiple sources for this rendering. This rendering is also included in Thich Nhat Hanh's book Path of Compassion: Stories from the Buddha's Life. See Turning the Wheel of Dharma
Translation from SuttaCentral
|This translation of the text Rolling Forth the Wheel of Dharma is published by SuttaCentral under license CC0 1.0. Translation by Bhikkhu Sujato.|
Rolling Forth the Wheel of Dhamma
At one time the Buddha was staying near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana. There the Buddha addressed the group of five mendicants:
“Mendicants, 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 Realized One woke up by understanding the middle way, which gives vision and knowledge, and leads to peace, direct knowledge, awakening, and extinguishment.
And what is that middle way? 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 immersion. This is that middle way, which gives vision and knowledge, and leads to peace, direct knowledge, awakening, and extinguishment.
Now this is the noble truth of suffering. Rebirth is suffering; old age is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering; association with the disliked is suffering; separation from the liked is suffering; not getting what you wish for is suffering. In brief, the five grasping aggregates are suffering. Now this is the noble truth of the origin of suffering. It’s the craving that leads to future rebirth, mixed up with relishing and greed, taking pleasure in various different realms. That is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving to continue existence, and craving to end existence. Now this is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering. It’s the fading away and cessation of that very same craving 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 suffering. 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 immersion.
‘This is the noble truth of suffering.’ Such was the vision, knowledge, wisdom, realization, and light that arose in me regarding teachings not learned before from another. ‘This noble truth of suffering should be completely understood.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of suffering has been completely understood.’ Such was the vision that arose in me …
‘This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the origin of suffering should be given up.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the origin of suffering has been given up.’ Such was the vision that arose in me …
‘This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of suffering should be realized.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the cessation of suffering 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 suffering.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the practice that leads to cessation of suffering should be developed.’ Such was the vision that arose in me … ‘This noble truth of the practice that leads to cessation of suffering 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 respects, 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 respects, 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 are no more future lives.’” That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the group of five mendicants was happy with what the Buddha said.
And while this discourse was being spoken, the stainless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in Venerable Koṇḍañña:
“Everything that has a beginning has an end.”
And when the Buddha rolled forth the Wheel of Dhamma, the earth gods raised the cry:
“Near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana, the Buddha has rolled forth the supreme Wheel of Dhamma. 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 Buddha has rolled forth the supreme Wheel of Dhamma. 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 Buddha was inspired to exclaim:
“Koṇḍañña has really understood! Koṇḍañña has really understood!” And that’s how Venerable Koṇḍañña came to be known as “Koṇḍañña Who Understood”.— translated by Bhikkhu Sujato, SuttaCentral
Commentaries in English
- Ajahn Sucitto (2010), Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching, Shambhala
- Bhikkhu Pesala, An Exposition of the Dhammacakka Sutta
- Mahasi Sayadaw (1996–2012), Discourse on the Wheel of Dharma
- Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma (1997), The First Discourse of the Buddha, Wisdom, ISBN 0-86171-104-1.
The following early Buddhist texts include parallel stories of the first turning of the wheel:
- the Sarvāstivādin Lalitavistara
- the Lokottaravādin Mahāvastu.[web 1]
The 26th chapter of the Lalitavistara Sutra contains a version of the first turning that closely parallels the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. The following English translations of this text are available:
- The Play in Full: Lalitavistara (2013), translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee. Translated from Tibetan into English and checked against the Sanskrit version.[web 2]
- Voice of the Buddha: The Beauty of Compassion (1983), translated by Gwendolyn Bays, Dharma Publishing (two-volume set). This translation has been made from French into English and then checked with the original in Tibetan and Sanskrit.
Etymology of Dhammacakkappavattana
- Dhamma (Pāli) or dharma (Sanskrit) can mean a variety of things depending on its context;[lower-alpha 4] in this context, it refers to the Buddha's teachings or his "truth" that leads to one's liberation from suffering.
- Cakka (Pāli) or cakra (Sanskrit) can be translated as "wheel."
- Thus, the term dhammacakka, which can be translated as "Dhamma-Wheel," is a Buddhist symbol that represents the teachings of the Buddha
- Pavattana (Pāli) can be translated as "turning" or "rolling" or "setting in motion."
Alternate translations of title
English translations of this sutta's full title include:
- "Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma" (Bodhi, 2000, pp. 1843–7)
- "Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth" (Piyadassi, 1999)
- "Setting Rolling the Wheel of Truth" (Ñanamoli, 1993)
- "Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion" (Thanissaro, 1993) (Geshe Tashi Tsering, 2005)
- "The Discourse That Sets Turning the Wheel of Truth" (Ajahn Sucitto, 2010)
- "Turning the Wheel of Dhamma" (Dhamma, 1997).
- "The Four Noble Truths Sutra" (Geshe Tashi Tsering, 2005)
- Anattalakkhana Sutta
- Four Noble Truths
- Middle Way
- Noble Eightfold Path
- Three marks of existence
- ↑ In Gombrich (2002, p. 61), Gombrich includes an end note here citing "Norman 1982" (see "#Sources" below).
- ↑ Geshe Tashi Tsering references the Pali version of this sutta (translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi) in his commentary on the four noble truths.
- ↑ In the Pali Text Society redaction of the Pali Canon, this sutta is found in the Samyutta Nikaya's fifth volume's page 420; and, thus, an alternate referent for this text is "S v.420."
- ↑ For instance, in the context of the objects of mindfulness, dhamma refers to "mental objects" (see, Satipatthana Sutta).
- ↑ Ajahn Sucitto 2010, pp. 10-12.
- ↑ Dhamma 1997, pp. 22-24.
- ↑ Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Locations 163-169.
- ↑ Gethin 1998, p. 25.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Thich Nhat Hanh 1991, Kindle Locations 1822-1884.
- ↑ Thich Nhat Hanh 1999, pp. 6-8.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Ajahn Sucitto 2010, p. 18.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Ajahn Sucitto 2010, pp. 21-22.
- ↑ Ajahn Sucitto 2010, pp. 33-34.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Ajahn Sucitto 2010, p. 171.
- ↑ Ajahn Sucitto 2010, p. 184.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Ajahn Sucitto 2010, p. 193.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Ajahn Sucitto 2010, pp. 215-216.
- ↑ Ajahn Sucitto 2010, pp. 216-217.
- ↑ Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Locations 170-174.
- ↑ Gombrich 2002, p. 61.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Locations 242-245.
- ↑ The Sūtra of the Wheel of Dharma
- ↑ Thich Nhat Hanh 1999, p. 257.
- ↑ Dhamma 1997, pp. 17-20.
- ↑ Walpola Rahula 2007, Kindle Location 2055.
- ↑ Thich Nhat Hanh 1991, Kindle Location 7566.
- ↑ Thich Nhat Hanh 2012, p. 81.
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 Geshe Tashi Tsering 2005, Kindle Location 174.
- ↑ Anandajoti (2010), "Introduction," retrieved 18 May 2010 from http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Earliest-Discourses/index.htm.
- ↑ A Play in Full: Lalitavistara (2013), translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
- Anandajoti Bhikkhu (trans.) (2010). The Earliest Recorded Discourses of the Buddha (from Lalitavistara, Mahākhandhaka & Mahāvastu). Kuala Lumpur: Sukhi Hotu. Also available on-line at http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Earliest-Discourses/index.htm.
- Ajahn Sumedho (2002), The Four Noble Truths, Amaravati Publications
- Ajahn Sucitto (2010), Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching, Shambhala
- Bhikkhu Bodhi (translator) (2000), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, Boston: Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-331-1
- Dhamma, Ven. Dr. Rewata (1997), The First Discourse of the Buddha, Wisdom, ISBN 0-86171-104-1
- Gombrich, Richard (1988, repr. 2002). Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-07585-8.
- Geshe Tashi Tsering (2005), The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume I, Wisdom, Kindle Edition
- Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press
- Goldstein, Joseph (2002), One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, HarperCollins
- Harvey, Peter (1990), Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press
- Norman, K.R. (1982). "THe Four Noble Truths: a problem of Pali syntax" in L.A. Hercus et al. (ed.), Indological and Buddhist Studies: Volume in Honour of Professor J.W. de Jong on his Sixtieth Birthday. Canberra, pp. 377–91.
- Thich Nhat Hanh (1991), Old Path White Clouds, Parallax Press
- Thich Nhat Hanh (1999), The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Three River Press
- Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), Path of Compassion: Stories from the Buddha's Life, Parallax Press
- Walpola Rahula (2007), What the Buddha Taught, Grove Press, Kindle Edition
- Saṃyutta Nikāya 56.11 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu with links to alternative translations.
- Saṃyukta Āgama version translated into English
- Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta read aloud (talking book) by Guy Armstrong
- Romanized Pāli version with English translation
- Resources for researching the Buddha's First Sutta - contains links to seven different translations by notable Theravada translators
- Word-by-word semantic analysis with translation on the side
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