The Orderliness of the Dhamma
Dhamma-niyāma Sutta  (AN 3:137)

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks, saying, “Monks.”

“Yes, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, “Whether or not there is the arising of Tathāgatas, this property stands—this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All fabrications are inconstant.

“The Tathāgata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, makes it plain: All fabrications are inconstant.

“Whether or not there is the arising of Tathāgatas, this property stands—this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All fabrications are stressful.

“The Tathāgata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, makes it plain: All fabrications are stressful.

“Whether or not there is the arising of Tathāgatas, this property stands—this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self.1

“The Tathāgata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it, makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted at his words.

Note

1. The suttas are inconsistent on the question of whether unbinding counts as a phenomenon (dhamma). Iti 90, among others, states clearly that it is. AN 10:58 calls unbinding the ending of all phenomena. Sn 5:6 quotes the Buddha as calling the attainment of the goal the transcending of all phenomena, just as Sn 4:6 and Sn 4:10 state that the arahant has transcended dispassion, said to be the highest phenomenon. If the former definition applies here, unbinding would be not-self. If the latter, the word phenomenon (as more inclusive than fabrication) would apply to the non-returner’s experience of the deathless (see AN 9:36). The arahant’s experience of unbinding would be neither self nor not-self, as it lies beyond all designations (see DN 15). Even the arahant, at that point, would be undefined, as beings are defined by their attachments, whereas there are no attachments by which an arahant could be defined as existing, not existing, both, or neither (SN 23:2).

See also: MN 35; SN 22:23; SN 35:23–24; AN 6:43; AN 7:58; Dhp 277–279