This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “Monks, there are these three faculties. Which three? The faculty of ‘I am about to know what is not yet finally known,’ the faculty of final knowledge, the faculty of one who has finally known.1 These are the three faculties.”
For a learner in training
along the straight path:
first, the knowledge of ending;
then, from the ending
of the fetter–becoming–
there’s the knowledge,
the gnosis of one released
who is Such:2
‘My release is unprovoked.’3
One consummate in these faculties,
delighting in the peaceful state,
bears his last body,
having conquered Māra
along with his mount.
1. According to the Commentary, the first of these faculties corresponds to the first noble attainment, the path to stream-entry; the second, to the next six attainments, ranging from the fruition of stream-entry to the path to Arahantship; and the third, to the highest attainment, the fruition of Arahantship. The prose portion of this itivuttaka is repeated at AN 3:86, and §102.
2. Such (tādin): see the note to §44.
3. Akuppā. This term is sometimes translated as “unshakable,” but it literally means, “unprovoked.” The reference is apparently to the theory of dhātu, or properties underlying physical or psychological events in nature. The physical properties according to this theory are four: earth (solidity), liquid, heat, and wind (motion). Three of them–liquid, heat, & wind–are potentially active. When they are aggravated, agitated, or provoked–the Pali term here, pakuppati, is used also on the psychological level, where it means angered or upset–they act as the underlying cause for natural activity. When the provocation ends, the corresponding activity subsides.
Although §44 lists two nibbāna properties, these two properties are distinctive in that the experience of nibbāna is not caused by their provocation. Because true release is not caused by the provocation of anything–a fact that is known immediately after the experience itself–it is not subject to change.