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September 2007
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21 LESSON-For The Gain of The Many For The Welfare of The Many-Monday, Oct 01, 2007-Snap poll is gain for gongress ? -
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21 LESSON-For The Gain of The Many For The Welfare of The Many

only political,sir

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Snap poll is gain for gongress ?

SHRINK IN SNAP POLLS, SAYS IB REPORTFrom Our Delhi BureauNEW DELHI: In the event of a mid-term Lok Sabha polls in near future, theCongress would not gain seats while its allies would shrink, forcing it to have a truck with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to retain power, says atop secret Intelligence Bureau (IB) report prepared for “PM’s Eyes Only.”The silver lining in the report for the Congress is that the biggest loser will be the Bhartiya Janata Party, its main rival and main oppositionparty in Parliament, as its number in the Lok Sabha is assessed to dropfrom present 131 to any where between 95 and 100.The report has been prepared at the instance of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) which directed the IB to get it a hang of the political moodin the country through its own survey, soon after the monsoon session ofParliament had ended in August.It says the Congress will get 150 to 155 seats as against 150 seats it has in the Lok Sabha as of today while the tally of its two main allies –Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad and DMK of M Karunanidhi — willshrink. DMK’s number may drop from the present 16 to anywhere between five and eight while the AIADMK that had drawn blank in the last election mayget 12 to 15 seats. RJD’s strength is expected to fall from 24 to 10-12.Among the losers will be the Samajwadi Party of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav whose number may drop from 38 in the LokSabha to 8 to 10 while Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s BahujanSamaj Party (BSP) may shoot up its strength in the House from 18 to anywhere between 40 and 45, including some seats from outside U.P.The report has assessment of the left and other parties as well but thesame could not be reported as this correspondent had access to only a few pages of the report.A top source in IB said the sample survey was conducted in 28 states withthe help of a 85-point questionnaire drawn up to evaluate how theelectorate would react to various political parties in the event of the polls forced by the left withdrawing support to the UPA Government.The correctness of any such survey or opinion poll depends on the numberof persons interviewed and as such one can not say how far dependable the IB survey is as the figures of persons approached with the questionnaireare not available. A retired IB official said the agency conducts suchsurveys from time to time and the persons interviewed vary from 50,000 to two lakhs, depending upon the subject.


Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Monday, Oct 01, 2007
Mayawati sacks 7,400 more recruits, suspends 7 IPS officers

Special Correspondent

The recruitments were made during Mulayam’s regime

Action based on probe panel report

LUCKNOW: In the third instalment of cancelling the recruitment of police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) constables made during the Mulayam Singh regime in 2005-2006, the Mayawati Government on Sunday sacked 7,400 more recruits and suspended 7 more IPS officers.

With the Sunday’s action, the Bahujan Samaj Party government had sacked a total of 17,848 police and PAC recruits, besides suspending 25 IPS officers of the rank of the IG, DIG and the SSP. Earlier, 6,504 and 3,964 recruits had been sacked in two separate instalments after an inquiry committee detected large-scale irregularities in their selection.

Principal Secretary (Home) J.N. Chamber told journalists that the action was based on the findings of the panel in the recruitment of constables conducted by 18 selection boards at different places in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Chamber said that among the 7,400 dismissed recruits were 1,900 PAC and 1,200 Police Radio Headquarters constables, who were undergoing training after the selection.

The IPS officers suspended were B.K. Bhalla ADG, ATC, Sitapur; A.D. Misra, IG, Inter-State Border Force, Mirzapur; K.K. Saxena, IG, PAC, Lucknow; Malkhan Singh Yadav, IG, Inter-State Border Force, Varanasi; Prabhat Kumar, DIG, PAC, Meerut; G.K. Goswami, Commandant, 11 PAC Battalion, Sitapur; and V.K. Agrawal, DIG, Economic Offences Wing.

Pulled up by panel

Mr. Chamber said seven other IPS officers who were suspended earlier were once again pulled up by the inquiry committee as they were the chairmen of the selection boards. These officers were R.N. Yadav, Daljit Singh Chaudhary, Ramendra Vikram Singh, Shailendra Pratap Singh, Chhavinath Singh, B.B. Bakshi and Akhilesh Mehrotra. He said cases would be filed against the suspended officers and they would also face departmental inquiry.

Junior-level police officers who were members of the 18 recruitment boards were also hauled up by the probe panel. The official said departmental action would be initiated against them.

During the Mulayam regime, police recruitments were conducted by 55 selection boards, which were headed by IPS officers. The probe panel had submitted its report on the selections made by 43 boards.


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20 LESSON-The Awakened One-Conscience
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 7:15 pm

20 LESSON-The Awakened One

Hiri Sutta

Who in the world
is a man constrained by conscience,
who awakens to censure
like a fine stallion to the whip?
Those restrained by conscience
	are rare —
those who go through life
	always mindful.
Having reached the end
	of suffering & stress,
they go through what is uneven
	go through what is out-of-tune
	   in tune.
19 LESSON- True Teachings of The Awakened One-The Prison World vs. the World Outside
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Posted by: site admin @ 6:48 pm

19 LESSON  -True Teachings of The Awakened One

The Prison World vs. the World Outside

Our mind, if we were to make a comparison with the world, is a perpetual prisoner, like a person born in jail who lives in jail, behind bars, with no chance to get out to see the outside world — someone who has grown from childhood to adulthood entirely in a prison cell and so doesn’t know what there is outside; someone who has seen pleasure and pain only in the prison and has never been out to see what kind of pleasure, comfort, and freedom they have in the outside world. We have no way of knowing what kind of happiness and enjoyment they have there in the outside world, how they come and go, how they live, because we are kept in prison from the day we are born until the day we die. This is a comparison, an analogy.

We have only the pleasure and pain that the prison has to offer, with nothing special, nothing obtained from the outside world so that when it enters the prison we could see that, ‘This is something different from the prison world — this is from the outside world, outside the prison;’ so that we could make comparisons and know that, ‘This is like this, that is like that; this is better than that, that is better than this.’ There is nothing but the affairs of the prison. However much the pleasure and pain, however great the deprivations, the difficulties, the oppression and coercion, that’s simply the way it’s been all along from the very beginning — and so we don’t know where to look for a way out or how to free ourselves. We don’t even know where the outside world is, because we have seen only the inside world: the prison where we have always been locked away, oppressed, starved, beaten, tortured, deprived. Even our bedding, food, belongings — everything of every sort — is like that of a prisoner in jail. And yet people like this can still live this way because they have never seen enough of the outside world to be able to make comparisons as to which is better, which is more pleasant, in order to feel inclined to search for a way out to the outside world.

A mind controlled by the power of defilement and mental effluents is like this. It has been imprisoned by various kinds of defilement for aeons and aeons. For example, in our present lifetime, the defilements that hold sway over the hearts of living beings have been with us since the day of our birth. They have kept us in continual custody, never giving us any freedom within ourselves at all. For this reason, we have difficulty imagining what sort of pleasure there could be above and beyond the way things are, just like a person who was born and has always lived in a prison.

What sort of world is the world outside? Is it a good place to visit? A good place to live? The Dhamma proclaims it loud and clear, but hardly anyone is interested. Still, there are fortunately some places where some people are interested. In places where no one proclaims it, where no one speaks of what the outside world — a mind with Dhamma in charge — is like, no one knows what the teachings of the religion are like. No one knows what the happiness that comes from the Dhamma is like. Such people are so surrounded by darkness, so completely drowned in attachment, that not even a single limb shows above the surface, because there is no religion to pull them out. It’s as if the outside world didn’t exist. They have nothing but the prison, the defilements, holding the heart in custody. Born in this world, they have only the prison as their place to live and to die.

A mind that has never known what could give it greater pleasure, comfort, and freedom than it has at present, if we were to make a different comparison, is like a duck playing in a mud puddle under a shanty. It keeps playing there: splat, splat, splat, splat, splat. No matter how dirty or filthy it is, it’s content to play because it has never seen the water of the ocean, of a river, of a lake or a pond large enough for it to swim and immerse its entire body with ease. It has known only the mud puddle that lies stagnant under the shanty, into which things in the shanty get washed down. And so it plays there, thinking it’s fun, swimming happily in its way — why? Because it has never seen water wider or deeper than that, enough to give it more enjoyment in coming and going or swimming around than it can find in the mud puddle under the shanty.

As for ducks that live along broad, deep canals


Welcome! My name is Webster Waterbird. My webbed friends will

, they’re very different from the duck under the shanty. They really enjoy themselves along rivers, lakes, canals, and ponds. Wherever their owner herds them, there they go — crossing back and forth over highways and byways, spreading in flocks of hundreds and thousands. Even ducks like these have their happiness.

What do they stand for?

They stand for the mind. A mind that has never seen the pleasure, the comfort, the enjoyment that comes from the Dhamma is like the duck playing in the mud puddle under the shanty, or those that enjoy swimming in canals, rivers, or lakes.

We at present have our pleasure and happiness through the controlling power of the defilements, which is like the happiness of prisoners in jail. When the mind receives training from the outside world — meaning the Dhamma that comes from the transcendent (lokuttara) Dhammas, from the ‘land’ of nibbana on down, level by level to the human world, revealing every level, every realm — we find that those of us who are inclined, who are interested in the outside world, in happiness greater than that which exists at present, still exist. When we hear the Dhamma step by step, or read books about the outside world — about Dhamma, about releasing ourselves from the pain and suffering we are forced to undergo within our hearts — our minds feel pleasure and enjoyment. Interest. A desire to listen. A desire to practice so as to reap the results step by step. This is where we begin to see the influence of the outside world making itself felt. The heart begins to exert itself, trying to free itself from the tyranny and oppression from within, like that of a prisoner in jail.

Even more so, when we practice in the area of the mind: The more peace we obtain, then the greater the effort, the greater the exertion we make. Mindfulness and discernment gradually appear. We see the harm of the tyranny and the oppression imposed by the defilements in the heart. We see the value of the Dhamma, which is a means of liberation. The more it frees us, the more ease we feel in the heart. Respite. Relief. This then is a means of increasing our conviction in ascending stages, and of increasing our effort and stamina in its wake. The mindfulness and discernment that used to lie buried in the mud gradually revive and awaken, and begin to contemplate and investigate.

In the past, no matter what assaulted us by way of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind, we were like dead people. We held these things to be ordinary and normal. They never provoked our mindfulness and discernment to investigate and explore, searching for beginnings and ends, causes and effects. Even though these things had been our enemies for a long, long time, making their assaults both day and night, we were never interested.

Now, however, we develop an interest. When the heart begins to enter the current of the Dhamma in which it has been trained to the point of developing a basis for mindfulness and discernment, step by step, it is bound to see clearly both what is beneficial and what is harmful, because these things dwell together — benefits and harm — within this heart. The mind develops agility in contemplating and investigating. The heart develops boldness in its explorations. Seeing harm, it tries to remedy it. Seeing benefits, it tries to open the way for them; it tries to foster them in ascending stages.

This is called the mind gradually gaining release from tyranny and oppression — the prison — within. At the same time, it is gaining a view of the outside world, seeing what sort of world it is, seeing whether it’s like the prison that exists at present. Our eyes can see the outside world to some extent, can see how those in the outside world live, how they come and go — and what about us in the prison? What is it like to live overcome by defilements? How does the mind feel as we gain gradual relief from the defilements? We can begin to make comparisons.

Now at last we have an outside world and an inside world to compare! The happiness and ease that come from removing however many of the defilements we can remove, appear. The stress that continues as long as the remaining defilements still exert their influence, we know clearly. We see their harm with our discernment on its various levels and we try continually to remedy the situation without letting our persistence lapse.

This is when mindfulness, discernment, conviction, and persistence stir themselves out to the front lines: when we see both the outside world — however much we have been able to liberate the heart from defilement — and the inside world, where the defilements keep up their oppression and coercion. Before, we never knew what to use for comparisons, because we had never seen anything other than this. Because we were born buried in pain and suffering this way, no pleasure from the outside world — from the Dhamma — ever appeared to us.

What did appear was the kind of happiness that had suffering behind the scenes, waiting to stomp in and obliterate that happiness without giving a moment’s notice.

Now, however, we are beginning to know and see. We see the happiness of the outside, that is, of the outside world, of those who have Dhamma reigning in their hearts; and we see the happiness inside the prison, the happiness that lies under the influence of defilement. We also see the suffering and stress that lie under the influence of defilement. We know this all clearly with our own mindfulness and discernment.

The happiness that comes from the outside world — in other words, from the current of the Dhamma seeping deep into the heart — we begin to see, step by step, enough to make comparisons. We see the outside world, the inside world, their benefits and drawbacks. When we take them and compare them, we gain an ever greater understanding — plus greater persistence, greater stamina — to the point that when anything connected with defilement that used to tyrannize and oppress the mind passes our way, we immediately feel called upon to tackle it, remedy it, strip it away, and demolish it step by step through the power of mindfulness and discernment backed by persistent effort.

The mind will set itself spinning. When its awareness of harm is great, its appreciation of what is beneficial is also great. When the desire to know and see the Dhamma is great, when the desire to gain release is great, persistence will have to become greater in their wake. Stamina and resilience will also come in their wake, because they all exist in the same heart. When we see harm, the entire heart is what sees it. When we see benefits, the entire heart is what sees. When we try to make our way with various methods in line with our abilities, it’s an affair of the entire heart making the effort to free itself.

This is why these things, such as persistence, that are the mind’s tools, the mind’s support, come together. For example, saddha, conviction in the paths (magga) and their fruitions (phala), conviction in the realm beyond suffering and stress; viriya, persistence, perseverance in gaining release for oneself step by step; khanti, stamina, endurance in order to be unyielding in passing over and beyond: All of these things come together. Mindfulness and discernment, contemplating along the way, seeing what is right and what is wrong, will come in their wake.

If we were to speak in terms of the principles of the formal Dhamma as expressed by the Buddha, this is called the path converging (magga-samangi), gradually gathering itself into this single heart. Everything comes together: Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, all the way to Right Concentration, all come gathering into this single heart. They don’t go anywhere else.

Right Action: Our only right undertakings are sitting and walking meditation, because we have reached the stage of precision work where the heart gathers together. The mind is in a state of the path converging — gathering itself into a single heart.

Right View, Right Resolve: These refer to the concerns of discernment, always exploring the affairs of the elements, the khandhas, whatever appears or makes contact, arises and vanishes, whether good or evil, past or future, appearing in the heart. Mindfulness and discernment slash these things to bits step by step without bothering to waste time.

Right Action: On the level of the body, this refers to doing sitting and walking meditation, making the effort to abandon the defilements no matter what our posture. On the level of the heart, this refers to persistence within the mind.

Right Speech: We speak only of the Dhamma. Our conversation deals only with the topics of effacement (sallekha-dhamma), topics of polishing away or washing away defilements and mental effluents from the heart, telling what methods we can use that will utterly end the defilements: This is Right Speech.

Right Livelihood: When the heart feeds on any object that’s its enemy, this is called maintaining a wrong livelihood. Since the object is an enemy of the heart, the heart will have to be clouded. There’s nothing good about it at all. It has to lead to greater or lesser amounts of suffering and stress within the heart in proportion to the heart’s crudeness or refinement. This is called poison. Wrong livelihood. We have to correct it immediately. Immediately.

Any mental object that’s rightful, that leads to happiness, well-being, and ease, is a fitting preoccupation, a fitting food for the heart, providing it with peace and well-being. This is how Right Livelihood is maintained with Dhamma on the ascending levels of training the heart. As for Right Livelihood on the physical level, dealing with food or alms, that applies universally for Buddhists in general to conduct themselves in line with their personal duties.

Right Effort: What sort of effort? This we know. The Buddha taught four kinds of effort: (1) Try to be careful not to let evil arise within yourself. (2) Try to abandon evil that has already arisen. In being careful not to let evil arise, we have to be careful by being mindful. Using mindfulness in trying not to let evil arise means being alert to the mind that thinks and wanders about, gathering suffering and stress into itself. This is because thought-formations of the wrong sort are the origin of stress, and so we should be careful to guard against them. Don’t be careless or complacent. (3) Try to develop what is skillful — intelligence — so as to increase it step by step. (4) Try to safeguard the skillful things that have arisen so as to develop them even further and not let them deteriorate. All of these right exertions apply right within us.

Right Mindfulness keeps watch over the heart. Mindfulness and self-awareness keep constant track of its behavior and activities. Whatever makes contact by way of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, or body, if it doesn’t go into the heart, where does it go? The heart is an enormous place, always ready to be informed of various things, both good and evil. Discernment is what contemplates and deliberates. Mindfulness is what keeps vigilant, inspecting whatever comes in to engage the heart. Whatever the preoccupation, good or evil, mindfulness and discernment contemplate and are selective of what engages the heart. Whatever they see as improper, the mind will reject immediately. Immediately. Discernment is what makes the rejection.

Right Concentration: Our work for the sake of making the defilements quiet through concentration is steady and constant, to the point where the results appear as peace and calm in the heart, as a true place of rest without any distractions coming in to disturb the heart at that moment.

When entering concentration so as to relax the mind, in order to give strength to discernment in its continuing explorations, you should go ahead and really rest — rest in concentration. Enter the calm. Completely stop all thoughts and explorations in the area of discernment. Let the mind settle in and relax. It doesn’t have to think or contrive anything at all related to its work. Let the mind rest comfortably by giving it a single preoccupation. If the mind happens to be extremely engrossed in its investigations so that you can’t rein it in, use ‘buddho’ as a means to drag it in. Make the mind stay with ‘buddho, buddho, buddho.’ Even though the meditation word ‘buddho’ may be a mental contrivance, it’s a contrivance in a single focal idea. Contriving a single focal idea can cause the mind to settle down.

For example, if while we are repeating, ‘buddho, buddho, buddho,’ the mind flashes back to its work because it is engrossed in its unfinished business, we should repeat the meditation word even faster so as not to let the mind go back to its work. In other words, when the mind is at the stage where it is engrossed in its work, we could say — to put it in worldly terms — that we can’t let down our guard, although on this level it’s hard to say that the mind lets down its guard. To get nearer the truth, we should say that we can’t loosen our grip. To put it simply, we can’t loosen our grip. Otherwise the mind will jump back out to work. So at this point we have to be firm with our meditation word. Force the mind to stay with its single preoccupation — ‘buddho’ — as a means of reining the mind in. Repeat ‘buddho, buddho, buddho’ in really close frequency; then ‘buddho’ and the mind will become one. The heart will be firm and calm down, calm down, relaxing, relaxing, setting aside all its work. The mind will become cool and peaceful. This is Right Concentration.

When the time comes to rest, you have to rest like this for it to qualify as Right Concentration. When you’ve had enough, when you see that the mind has regained strength, then simply let go — that’s all — and the mind will spring immediately back to work. It springs out of oneness, of having a single preoccupation, and returns to being two with its work. At this point, the heart gets back to work without worrying about concentration while it is working. In the same way, when centering the mind for the sake of stillness, you don’t have to worry about your work at all.

When resting, you have to rest, in the same way that when eating you don’t have to do any work at all except for the work of eating. When sleeping, sleep peacefully. You shouldn’t be concerned with any work at all. But once you have begun work, you shouldn’t concern yourself with eating and sleeping. Really set your mind on your work. This is called doing a solid piece of work: work in its proper phases, work at the proper time, in keeping with events, ‘Right Action,’ work that doesn’t overstep its boundaries, appropriate work.

The practice of centering the mind is something you can’t neglect. In practicing for the sake of the heart’s happiness, the view that centering the mind, keeping still, serves no purpose is wrong. If someone is addicted to concentration, unwilling to come out and work, that’s improper and should be criticized so that he or she will get down to work. But once the mind has become engrossed in its work, concentration is a necessity in certain areas, at certain times. Ordinarily, if we work without resting or sleeping, we ultimately can’t continue with our work. Even though some of our money gets used up when we eat, let it be used up — because the result is that our body gains strength from eating and can return to its work in line with its duties. Even though money gets used up and the food we eat gets used up, still it’s used up for a purpose: for energy in the body. Whatever gets consumed, let it be consumed, because it doesn’t hurt our purposes. If we don’t eat, where are we going to get any strength? Whatever gets spent, let it be spent for the sake of strength, for the sake of giving rise to strength.

The same holds true with resting in concentration: When we’re resting so as to give rise to stillness, the stillness is the strength of mind that can reinforce discernment and make it agile. We have to rest so as to have stillness. If there is no stillness, if there’s nothing but discernment running, it’s like a knife that hasn’t been sharpened. We keep chopping away — chock, chock, chock — but it’s hard to tell whether we’re using the edge of the blade or the back. We simply have the desire to know, to see, to understand, to uproot defilement, whereas discernment hasn’t been sharpened by resting in stillness — the reinforcement that gives peace and strength in the heart — and so it’s like a knife that hasn’t been sharpened. Whatever gets chopped doesn’t cut through easily. It’s a simple waste of energy.

So for the sake of what’s fitting while resting the mind in its ‘home of concentration,’ we have to let it rest. Resting is thus like using a whetstone to sharpen discernment. Resting the body strengthens the body, and in the same way resting the mind strengthens the mind.

When it comes out this time, now that it has strength, it’s like a knife that has been sharpened. The object is the same old object, the discernment is the same old discernment, the person investigating is the same old person, but once we focus our examination, it cuts right through. This time it’s like a person who has rested, slept, and eaten at his leisure, and whose knife is fully sharpened. He chops the same old piece of wood, he’s the same old person, and it’s the same old knife, but it cuts right through with no trouble at all — because the knife is sharp, and the person has strength.

In the same way, the object is the same old object, the discernment is the same old discernment, the person practicing is the same old person, but we’ve been sharpened. The mind has strength as a reinforcement for discernment and so things cut right through in no time at all — a big difference from when we hadn’t rested in concentration!

Thus concentration and discernment are interrelated. They simply do their work at different times. When the time comes to center the mind, center it. When the time comes to investigate in the area of discernment, give it your all — your full alertness, your full strength. Get to the full Dhamma: the full causes and the full effects. In the same way, when resting, give it a full rest. Practice these things at separate times. Don’t let them interfere with each other — being worried about concentration when examining with discernment, or being preoccupied with the affairs of discernment when entering concentration — for that would be wrong. Whichever work you’re going to do, really make it a solid piece of work. This is the right way, the appropriate way — the way Right Concentration really is.

Once discernment has begun uprooting defilements step by step, the heart develops brightness. The lightness of the mind is one of the benefits that come from removing the things that are hazardous, the things that are filthy. We see the value of this benefit and keep on investigating.

What defilement is, is a weight on the heart. Our mind is like a prisoner constantly overpowered — coerced and tormented — by defilements and mental effluents ever since we were born. When we come right down to it, where is defilement? Where is being and birth? Right here in this same heart. When you investigate, these things gather in, gather in, and enter this single heart. The cycle of rebirth doesn’t refer to anything else: It refers to this single heart that spins in circles. It’s the only thing that leads us to birth and death. Why? Because the seeds of these things are in the heart.

When we use mindfulness and discernment to investigate, we explore so as to see clearly, and we keep cutting in, step by step, until we reach the mind that is the culprit, harboring unawareness (avijja), which is the important seed of the cycle in the heart. We keep dissecting, keep investigating in, investigating in, so that there is nothing left of ‘this is this’ or ‘that is that.’ We focus our investigation on the mind in the same way as we have done with phenomena (sabhava-dhamma) in general.

No matter how much brightness there may be in the heart, we should know that it’s simply a place for the heart to rest temporarily as long as we are still unable to investigate it to the point where we can disperse and destroy it. But don’t forget that this shining star of a heart is actually unawareness.

So investigate, taking that as the focal point of your investigation.

So then. If this is going to be obliterated until there’s no more awareness, leaving nothing at all — to the point where the ‘knower’ is destroyed along with it — then let’s find out once and for all. We’re investigating to find the truth, to know the truth, so we have to get all the way down to causes and effects, to the truth of everything of every sort. Whatever is going to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. Even if ultimately the ‘knower’ who is investigating will be destroyed as well, then let’s find out with our mindfulness and discernment. We don’t have to leave anything remaining as an island or a vantage point to deceive ourselves. Whatever is ‘us,’ whatever is ‘ours,’ don’t leave it standing. Investigate down to the truth of all things together.

What’s left, after the defilement of unawareness is absolutely destroyed, is something beyond the range to which convention can reach or destroy. This is called the pure mind, or purity. The nature of this purity cannot be destroyed by anything at all.

Defilements are conventional realities that can arise and vanish. Thus they can be cleansed, made to increase, made to decrease, made to disappear, because they are an affair of conventions. But the mind pure and simple — the phenomenon called a released mind — lies beyond the range to which any defilements, which are all conventions, can reach and destroy. If the mind isn’t yet pure, it’s a conventional reality just like other things, because conventional things have infiltrated it. Once they are entirely removed, the phenomenon of release is one that no defilement can any longer affect — because it lies beyond range. So what is destroyed?

Stress stops, because the cause of stress stops. Nirodha — the cessation of stress — also stops. The path, the tool that wipes out the cause of stress, also stops. The four Noble Truths all stop together. Stress stops, the cause of stress stops, the path stops, the cessation of stress stops.

But listen! What knows that ‘that stops’ is not a Noble Truth. It lies above the Noble Truths. The investigation of the Noble Truths is an investigation for the sake of this. Once we reach the real thing, the four Noble Truths have no more role to play, no need to be cleansed, remedied, or removed. For example, discernment: Now that we’ve worked to the full extent, we can let go of discernment, with no need to set rules for it. Both mindfulness and discernment are tools in the battle. Once the war is over, the enemy is wiped out, so these qualities are no longer at issue.

What’s left? Purity. The Buddha, in proclaiming the Dhamma to the world, took it from this pure nature. The doctrines of the religion came from this nature, and in the approach he used in teaching, he had to teach about stress because these conditions are directly related to this mind. He taught us to know how to remedy, how to stop, how to strive — everything of every sort — all the way to the goal at the end of the path, after which nothing more need be said. This is purity. The mind has come out to the outside world. It has left the prison and come to the outside world — freedom — never to be imprisoned again.

But no one wants to go to this world, because they have never seen it. This is an important world — lokuttara, the transcendent, a realm higher than other worlds — but we simply call it the outside world, outside of all conventions. We call it a ‘world’ just as a figure of speech, because our world has its conventions, and so we simply talk about it that way.

Think about escaping from this prison. You’ve been born in prison, live in prison and die in prison. You’ve never once died outside of prison. So, for once, get your heart out of prison. You’ll be really comfortable — really comfortable! — like the Buddha and his Noble Disciples: They were born in prison like you, but they died outside of the prison. They died outside of the world. They didn’t die in this world that’s so narrow and confining.


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18 LESSON -Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One-I. The Reasons for Taking Refuge
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18 LESSON-Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One

I. The Reasons for Taking Refuge

When it is said that the practice of the Buddha’s teaching starts with taking refuge, this immediately raises an important question. The question is: “What need do we have for a refuge?” A refuge is a person, place, or thing giving protection from harm and danger. So when we begin a practice by going for refuge, this implies that the practice is intended to protect us from harm and danger. Our original question as to the need for a refuge can thus be translated into another question: “What is the harm and danger from which we need to be protected?” If we look at our lives in review we may not see ourselves exposed to any imminent personal danger. Our jobs may be steady, our health good, our families well-provided for, our resources adequate, and all this we may think gives us sufficient reason for considering ourselves secure. In such a case the going for refuge becomes entirely superfluous.

To understand the need for a refuge we must learn to see our position as it really is; that is, to see it accurately and against its total background. From the Buddhist perspective the human situation is similar to an iceberg:

a small fraction of its mass appears above the surface, the vast substratum remains below, hidden out of view. Owing to the limits of our mental vision our insight fails to penetrate beneath the surface crust, to see our situation in its underlying depths. But there is no need to speak of what we cannot see; even what is immediately visible to us we rarely perceive with accuracy. The Buddha teaches that cognition is subservient to wish. In subtle ways concealed from ourselves our desires condition our perceptions, twisting them to fit into the mould they themselves want to impose. Thus our minds work by way of selection and exclusion. We take note of those things agreeable to our pre-conceptions; we blot out or distort those that threaten to throw them into disarray.

From the standpoint of a deeper, more comprehensive understanding the sense of security we ordinarily enjoy comes to view as a false security sustained by unawareness and the mind’s capacity for subterfuge. Our position appears impregnable only because of the limitations and distortions of our outlook. The real way to safety, however, lies through correct insight, not through wishful thinking. To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions. When we do so, it becomes increasingly clear that we move across a narrow footpath at the edge of a perilous abyss. In the words of the Buddha we are like a traveler passing through a thick forest bordered by a swamp and precipice; like a man swept away by a stream seeking safety by clutching at reeds; like a sailor crossing a turbulent ocean; or like a man pursued by venomous snakes and murderous enemies. The dangers to which we are exposed may not always be immediately evident to us. Very often they are subtle, camouflaged, difficult to detect. But though we may not see them straightaway the plain fact remains that they are there all the same. If we wish to get free from them we must first make the effort to recognize them for what they are. This, however, calls for courage and determination.

On the basis of the Buddha’s teaching the dangers that make the quest for a refuge necessary can be grouped into three general classes: (1) the dangers pertaining to the present life; (2) those pertaining to future lives; and (3) those pertaining to the general course of existence. Each of these in turn involves two aspects: (A) and objective aspect which is a particular feature of the world; and (B) a subjective aspect which is a corresponding feature of our mental constitution. We will now consider each of these in turn.

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17 LESSON-For The Gain of The Many For The Welfare of The Many-U.N. envoy begins Myanmar mission
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17 LESSON For The Gain of The Many For The Welfare The of Many

Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Sunday, Sep 30, 2007

U.N. envoy begins Myanmar mission

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Ibrahim Gambari, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General, began a delicate mission to Myanmar on Saturday, amid expectations from the pro-democracy protesters there that he might “change the dynamics” in their favour.

An atmosphere of tension-filled calm prevailed in Yangon, the scene of anti-junta protest marches for nearly 10 days, as Mr. Gambari arrived there on his way to the country’s administrative capital, Naypyitaw, for talks with the military regime.

Mr. Gambari, who passed through Singapore, is expected to convey a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Myanmar’s military rulers and also urge them to heed the U.N. Security Council’s call for restraint.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is keen that he should convey its strong sentiments to the military rulers in Myanmar, a member-state. He hopes to meet Myanmar’s opposition leaders as well, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the celebrated democracy campaigner in prolonged detention.

During the day, even as the junta’s soldiers and police tightened their grip over Yangon, commercial and cultural centre and former capital, at least 70 protesters gathered for a peaceful rally, according to dissident sources. The troops were said to have chased and attacked the protesters as they sought to march through the streets. Elsewhere in the city, soldiers fired warning shots to disperse small but determined groups, it was said. Witness accounts were relayed over a satellite channel of the Myanmar opposition camp.

The junta beefed up the deployment of soldiers and police in Mandalay as well, besides continuing to blockade Buddhist monasteries, the epicentre of the latest movement for economic and political justice. However, at least 1,000 monks led thousands of other protesters in the town of Pakkoku, where there was little or no deployment of soldiers, it was said. Dissidents in exile could not immediately confirm this.

Dissident spokesman Soe Aung said there were some signs of “disobedience” on the part of soldiers who were reluctant to target protesters. Regardless of this new development, there was no major violence against the demonstrators on Saturday.

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16 LESSON -11-12-2007-The Awakened One-Samyutta Nikaya-Ogha-tarana Sutta
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16 LESSON-11-12-2007-The Awakened One

Photo: Buddha Statue

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Samyutta Nikaya

Ogha-tarana Sutta
Crossing over the Flood
Translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Translator’s note: This discourse opens the Samyutta Nikaya with a paradox. The Commentary informs us that the Buddha teaches the devata in terms of the paradox in order to subdue her pride. To give this paradox some context, you might want to read other passages from the Canon that discuss right effort.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Then a certain devata, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to him, she stood to one side. As she was standing there, she said to him, “Tell me, dear sir, how you crossed over the flood.”

“I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”1

“But how, dear sir, did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?”

“When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”

[The devata:]

At long last I see
a brahman, totally unbound,
who     without pushing forward,
	without staying in place,
has crossed     over
	the entanglements
	of the world.

That is what the devata said. The Teacher approved. Realizing that “The Teacher has approved of me,” she bowed down to him, circumambulated him — keeping him to her right — and then vanished right there.


1. Or: “unestablished.” See Ud 8.1. Related references are in SN 12.38 and SN 12.64.

15 LESSON 15-12-2007-True Teachings of The Awakened One-The Marvel of the Dhamma
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15 LESSON 15-12-2007-True Teachings of The Awakened One

The Marvel of the Dhamma


Ashoka Maurya

Map of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka's rule.

Map of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka’s rule.
The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh established by emperor Ashoka in the third century BC.

The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh established by emperor Ashoka in the third century BC.
Fragment of the 6th Pillar Edicts of Ashoka (238 BC), in Brahmi, sandstones. British Museum.

Fragment of the 6th Pillar Edicts of Ashoka (238 BC), in Brahmi, sandstones. British Museum.

The Ashoka Chakra, featured on the flag of the Republic of India
Silver punch-mark coins of the Mauryan empire, bear Buddhist symbols such as the Dharmacakra, the elephant (previous form of the Buddha), the tree under which enlightenment happened, and the burial mound where the Buddha died (obverse). 3rd century BC.

Silver punch-mark coins of the Mauryan empire, bear Buddhist symbols such as the Dharmacakra, the elephant (previous form of the Buddha), the tree under which enlightenment happened, and the burial mound where the Buddha died (obverse). 3rd century BC.
Distribution of the Edicts of Ashoka and Ashokan territorial limits.

Distribution of the Edicts of Ashoka and Ashokan territorial limits.[7]
Greek Late Archaic style capital from Patna (Pataliputra), thought to correspond to the reign of Ashoka, 3rd century BC, Patna Museum (click image for references).

Greek Late Archaic style capital from Patna (Pataliputra), thought to correspond to the reign of Ashoka, 3rd century BC, Patna Museum (click image for references).
Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by king Ashoka, from Kandahar - Afghan National Museum. (Click image for translation).

Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by king Ashoka, from Kandahar - Afghan National Museum. (Click image for translation).
Buddhist proselytism at the time of king Ashoka (260-218 BC), according to his Edicts.

Buddhist proselytism at the time of king Ashoka (260-218 BC), according to his Edicts.

“The legend of King Asoka, A study and translation of the Asokavadana“, John Strong, Princeton Library of Asian translations.
Ashoka's Major Rock Edict inscription at Girnar

Ashokan Pillar at Vaishali

Ashokan Pillar at Vaishali
This is the famous original sandstone sculpted Lion Capital of Ashoka preserved at Sarnath Museum which was originally erected around 250 BCE atop an Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath. The angle from which this picture has been taken, minus the inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, has been adopted as the National Emblem of India showing the Horse on the left and the Bull on the right of the Ashoka Chakra in the circular base on which the four Indian lions are standing back to back. On the far side there is an Elephant and a Lion instead. The wheel

This is the famous original sandstone sculpted Lion Capital of Ashoka preserved at Sarnath Museum which was originally erected around 250 BCE atop an Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath. The angle from which this picture has been taken, minus the inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, has been adopted as the National Emblem of India showing the Horse on the left and the Bull on the right of the Ashoka Chakra in the circular base on which the four Indian lions are standing back to back. On the far side there is an Elephant and a Lion instead. The wheel “Ashoka Chakra” from its base has been placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.

Those who practice the Dhamma will begin to know the Dhamma or to gain a feel for the Dhamma in the area of meditation more markedly than in other areas, and more extensively. For example, the gratification that comes from being generous is moving in one way, the gratification that comes from maintaining the precepts is moving in another way, the feelings of gratification that come from the different forms of goodness are moving in their own separate ways. This is called finding gratification in skillfulness.

But all of these feelings of gratification converge in the practice of meditation. We begin to feel moved from the moment the mind begins to grow still, when the heart gathers its currents together to stand solely on its own. Even though we may not yet obtain a great deal of stillness from the inward gathering of the mind, we still find ourselves gratified within, in a way we can clearly sense. If the mind or the Dhamma were a material object, there wouldn’t be anyone in the world who wouldn’t respect the religion, because the goodness, the well-being, and the marvels that arise from the religion and from the practicing in line with the teachings of the religion are things desired the world over.

Goodness, well-being, marvels: These are things the world has always desired from time immemorial — with a desire that has never lost its taste — and they are things that will always be desired until the world loses its meaning, or until people become extinct, having no more sense of good and evil. That’s when the world will no longer aspire for these great blessings. The well-being that comes from the marvels — the Dhamma in the area of its results — is something to which all living beings aspire, simply that their abilities differ, so that some attain their aspirations, while others don’t.

But the Dhamma can’t be displayed for the world to perceive with its senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch in the way other things can. Even though there may be other immaterial phenomena similar to the Dhamma — such as smells — still they aren’t like the true Dhamma that is touched by the hearts of those who have practiced it. If the Dhamma could be displayed like material objects, there is no doubt but that the human world would have to respect the religion for the sake of that Dhamma. This is because the Dhamma is something more marvelous than anything else. In all the three levels of existence, there is no greater marvel than in the Dhamma.

The Dhamma can appear as a marvel, conspicuous and clear in the mind. The mind is what knows it — and only the mind. It can’t be displayed in general like material objects, as when we take things out to admire or to show off to others. The Dhamma can’t possibly be displayed like material objects. This is what makes the world lack interest — and lack the things that could be hoped from the Dhamma — in a way that is really a shame.

Even those who want the marvel of the Dhamma don’t know what the marvel is, or what the profundity of the Dhamma is, because the mind has never had contact with that profundity. The eye has never had contact with the marvel. The ear has never obtained any marvel from the current of the Dhamma, because the Dhamma can’t be displayed as a current of sound as other things can. This is one obstacle that prevents people from becoming moved by the Dhamma, that prevents them from fully believing and fully entrusting themselves to the Dhamma in a way consistent with the world’s long-felt hunger for well-being and prosperity.

Each of the Buddhas who has gained Awakening and taught the Dhamma to the world has had to reflect to the full extent of his intelligence and ability on the myriad ways of teaching the Dhamma to the world so that the world could see it as a marvel, inasmuch as the Dhamma can’t be put in shop windows or in public places. This is because the true Dhamma lies in the heart and reveals itself only in words and deeds, which doesn’t excite a gratifying sense of absorption in the same way as touching the Dhamma directly with the heart.

Because there is no way to display the Dhamma directly, the Buddhas display it indirectly through teaching. They point out the causes — the Dhamma of conduct and practices leading to the Dhamma of results at this or that point or this or that level; and at the same time they proclaim the results — the excellence, the marvels of the stages and levels of the Dhamma that can be touched with the heart, all the way to the highest marvel, vimutti, the mental release called nibbana within the heart.

Every Buddha has to devise strategies in teaching the Dhamma so as to bring that marvel out to the world by using various modes of speech and conduct — for example, describing the Dhamma and showing the conduct of the Dhamma as being like this and that — but the actual Dhamma can’t be shown. It is something known exclusively in the heart, in the way in which each Buddha and each arahant possesses this marvel. None of the Buddhas, none of the arahants who possess this marvel are in any way deficient in this regard.

The marvel lies in their hearts — simply that they can’t take the marvel that appears there and display it in the full measure of its wonder. Thus they devise strategies for displaying it in their actions, which are simply attributes of the Dhamma, not the actual Dhamma itself. For instance, the doctrine they teach in the texts is simply an attribute of the Dhamma. Their act of teaching is also just an attribute of the Dhamma. The actual Dhamma is when a meditator or a person who listens to their teachings about the Dhamma follows the Dhamma in practice and touches it stage by stage within his or her own heart. This is called beginning to make contact with the actual Dhamma, step by step. However much contact is made, it gives a sense of gratification felt exclusively within the heart of the person who has gained that contact through his or her own practice.

When it comes to ingenuity in teaching, no one excels the Buddhas. Even so, they reveal only what they see as appropriate for humanity. They can’t reveal the actual Dhamma — for example, by taking out the true marvel in their hearts and unfolding it for the world to see, saying, ‘This is the marvel of the Tathagata, of each Buddha. Do you see it?’ This can’t be done, for here we’re talking about the marvel of the purity of a heart that was previously swamped with defilement like a heap of assorted excrement, but now has become a pure, unsullied nature, or a pure, amazing nature because of the practice of constantly and relentlessly cleansing it. They can’t show that Dhamma to the world, saying, ‘Do you see this? Look at it. Look at it. Feast your eyes till they’re full and then strive to make this treasure your own!’ So instead, they teach by using various strategies for those who practice, describing the path in full detail, in terms both of causes and of results.

What they bring out to show is simply the current of their voices, the breath of their mouths. That’s what they bring out to speak, simply the breath of their mouths. They can’t bring out the real thing. For example, when they say, ‘It’s marvelous like this,’ it’s just sound. The marvelous nature itself can’t be brought out. All they can bring out is the action of saying, ‘That nature is marvelous,’ so that we can speculate for ourselves as to what that marvel is like. Even though this doesn’t remove our doubts, it’s better than if we had never heard about it at all.

But the basic principle in making us come to know and see the marvel of the Dhamma is that first we have to speculate and then we follow with practice. This qualifies as following the principles of the Dhamma the Buddha taught, and this is fitting and proper. No matter what the difficulties and hardships encountered in following the path, we shouldn’t let them form barriers to our progress, because this is where the path lies. There are no other byways that can take us easily to the goal. If our practice is difficult, we have to stick with it. If it’s painful, we have to bear it, because it’s a duty we have to perform, a burden we have to carry while working so as to attain our aims.

The Dhamma of a pure mind is like this: The mind is the Dhamma, the Dhamma is the mind. We call it a mind only as long as it is still with the body and khandhas. Only then can we call it a pure mind, the mind of a Buddha, or the mind of an arahant. After it passes from the body and khandhas, there is no conventional reality to which it can be compared, and so we can’t call it anything at all.

No matter how marvelous that nature, no matter how much it may be ours, there is no possible way we can use conventional realities to describe it or to make comparisons, because that Dhamma, that realm of release, has no conventions against which to measure things or make comparisons. It’s the same as if we were in outer space: Which way is north, which way is south, we don’t know. If we’re on Earth, we can say ‘east,’ ‘west,’ ‘north,’ and ’south’ because there are things that we can observe and compare so as to tell which direction lies which way. We take the Earth as our standard. ‘High’ and ‘low’ depend on the Earth as their frame of reference. How much higher than this, lower than this, north of this, south of this: These things we can say.

But if we’re out in outer space, there is no standard by which we can measure things, and so we can’t say. Or as when we go up in an airplane: We can’t tell how fast or how slow we’re going. When we pass a cloud, we can tell that we’re going fast, but if we depend simply on our eyesight, we’re sure to think that the speed of the airplane is nowhere near the speed of a car. We can clearly see how deceptive our eyesight is in just this way. When we ride in a car, the trees on both sides of the road look as if they were falling in together down on the road behind us. Actually, they stay their separate selves. It’s simply that the car runs past them. Since there are things that we sense, that lie close enough for comparison, it seems as if the car were going really fast.

As for the airplane, there’s nothing to make comparisons with, so it looks as if the plane were dawdling along, as if it were going slower than a car, even though it’s actually many times faster.

This is how it is when we compare the mind of an ordinary run-of-the-mill person with the mind of the Buddha. Whatever the Buddha says is good and excellent, we ordinary people tend to say that it’s not. Whatever we like, no matter how vile, we say that it’s good. We don’t admit the truth, in the same way as thinking that a car goes faster than an airplane.

The practice of attending to the mind is something very important. Try to develop mindfulness (sati) and discernment so that they can keep up with the things that come and entangle the mind. By and large, the heart itself is the instigator, creating trouble continually, relentlessly. We then fall for the preoccupations the heart turns out — and this makes us agitated, upset, and saddened, all because of the thoughts formed by the heart.

These come from the heart itself, and the heart itself is what falls for them, saying that this is this, and that is that, even though the things it names ‘this’ and ‘that’ merely exist in line with their nature. They have no meaning in and of themselves, that they are like ‘’this’ or ‘that.’ The mind simply gives them meanings, and then falls for its own meanings, making itself glad or sad over those things without end. Thus the stress and suffering that result from thought-formations have no end, no point of resolution, just as if we were floating adrift in the middle of the sea waiting to breathe our last breath.

The Buddhas all reached Awakening here in this human world because the human world is rich in the Noble Truths. It’s where they are plain to see. The Noble Truth of stress (dukkha) lies in the human body. Human beings know about stress — because they’re smarter than common animals. The Noble Truth of the origin of stress: This lies in the human heart. The Noble Truth of the path — the path of practice to cure defilement (kilesa), craving (tanha), and mental effluents (asava), which are the things that produce stress: This, human beings also know. What is the path? To put it briefly: virtue, concentration, and discernment. These things human beings know and can put into practice. The Noble Truth of the cessation of stress: This, human beings also know. No matter which of these truths, all human beings know them — although they may not know how to behave toward them or take interest in behaving in line with them, in which case there is no way the Dhamma can help them at all.

The Buddhas thus taught the Dhamma in the human world, because the human world lies in the center of all the levels of existence. We have been born in the center of existence, in the midst of the religion. We should conform correctly to the central point of the religion, so as to comprehend the religion’s teachings that lie in the center of our heart.

The superlative Dhamma lies right here. It doesn’t lie anywhere else. The mind is what can reach the Dhamma. The mind is what knows all dhammas. The affairs of the Dhamma, then, do not lie beyond the mind, which is a fitting vessel for them. Good, evil, pleasure, pain: The mind knows these things before anything else knows them, so we should develop mindfulness and discernment to be resourceful, to keep up with the events that are always becoming involved with the mind in the course of each day.

If we’re intent on investigating the origin of stress, which fans out from our various thought-formations, we will find that it arises without stop. It arises right here in the mind. It’s fashioned right here. Even though we try to make it quiet, it won’t be still. Why? Because of the ‘unquietness’, the thoughts with which the mind disturbs itself, which it forms and sends out towards its preoccupations (arammana) all the time. Once the mind sends out its thoughts, it then gathers in stress for itself. It keeps at it, in and out like this. What goes out is the origin of stress, and what comes back in is stress. In other words, thoughts form and go out as the origin of stress, and when the results come back to the heart, they’re stressful. These things are constantly being manufactured like this all the time.

When we want the mind to have even just a little bit of calm, we really have to force it; and even then these things still manage to drive the mind into forming thoughts whenever we let down our guard. This is how it is with the origin of stress, which is constantly producing suffering. It lies in the heart and is always arising. For this reason, we must use mindfulness and discernment to diagnose and remedy the origin of stress, to keep an eye out for it, and to snuff it out right there, without being negligent. Wherever we sit or stand — whatever our activity — we keep watch over this point, with mindfulness alert to it, and discernment unraveling it so as to know it constantly for what it truly is.

All those who practice to remove defilement practice in this way. In particular, those who are ordained practice by going into the forest to look for a place conducive to their striving in order to wipe out this very enemy. Even when they stay in inhabited areas, or wherever they go, wherever they stay, they keep their attention focused continually, step by step, on the persistent effort to remove and demolish the origin of stress, which is a splinter, a thorn in the heart. Such people are bound to develop more and more ease and well-being, step by step, in proportion to the persistence of their striving.

We can see clearly when the mind is still and settles down: Thought-formations are still, or don’t exist. Turmoil and disturbances don’t occur. The stress that would otherwise result doesn’t appear. When the mind is quiet, stress is also quiet. When thought-formations are quiet, the origin of stress is also quiet. Stress is also quiet. All that remains at that moment is a feeling of peace and ease.

The war between the mind and the defilements causing stress is like this. We have to keep fighting with persistence. We have to use mindfulness and discernment, conviction and persistence to contend with the war that disturbs and ravages the mind, making it stagger and reel within. The disturbances will then gradually be suppressed. Even when there is only a moment of quiet, we will come to see the harm of the thought-formations that are constantly disturbing us. At the same time, we will see the benefits of mental stillness — that it’s a genuine pleasure. Whether there is a lot of stillness or a little, pleasure arises in proportion to the foundation of stillness or the strength of the stillness, which in the texts is called samadhi, or concentration.

A mind centered and still is called a mind in concentration, or a mind gathered in concentration. This is what genuine concentration is like inside the heart. The names of the various stages of concentration are everywhere, but actual concentration is inside the heart. The heart is what gives rise to concentration. It produces it, makes it on its own. When concentration is still, the mind experiences cool respite and pleasure. It has its own foundation set firmly and solidly within.

It’s as if we were under an eave or under the cooling shade of a tree. We’re comfortable when it rains, we’re comfortable when the sun is out, because we don’t have to be exposed to the sun and rain. The same holds true with a mind that has an inner foundation of stillness: It’s not affected by this preoccupation or that, which would otherwise disturb and entangle it repeatedly, without respite. This is because stillness is the heart’s dwelling — ‘concentration,’ which is one level of home for the heart.

Discernment (pañña) is ingenuity, sound judgment, evaluating causes and effects within and without; above, below, and in between — inside the body — all the way to the currents of the mind that send out thoughts from various angles. Mindfulness and discernment keep track of these things, investigating and evaluating them so as to know causes and effects in terms of the heart’s thought-formations, or in terms of the nature of sankhara within us, until we see the truth of each of these things.

Don’t go investigating these things off target, by being clever with labels and interpretations that go against the truth — because in the investigation of phenomena, we investigate in line with the truth. We don’t resist the truth, for that would simply enhance the defilements causing stress at the very moment we think we’re investigating phenomena so as to remove them.

Birth we have already experienced. As for old age, we’ve been growing old from the day of our birth, older and older, step by step. Whatever our age, that’s how long we’ve been growing old, until we reach the end of life. When we’re old to the nth degree, we fall apart. In other words, we’ve been growing old from the moment of birth — older by the day, the month, the year — older and older continually. We call it ‘growing up’, but actually it’s growing old.

See? Investigate it for what it really is. This is the great highway — the way of nature. Don’t resist it. For example, the body is growing old, but we don’t want it to be old. We want it always to be young. This is called resisting the truth — which is stress. Even when we try to resist it, we don’t get anywhere. What do we hope to gain by resisting it and creating stress for ourselves? Actually, we gain nothing but the stress that comes from resisting the truth.

Use discernment to investigate just like this. Whenever pain arises in any part of the body, if we have medicine to treat it, then we treat it. When the medicine can take care of it, the body recovers. When the medicine can’t, it dies. It goes on its own. There’s no need for us to force it not to die, or to stay alive for so-and-so many years, for that would be an absurdity. Even if we forced it, it wouldn’t stay. We wouldn’t get any results and would just be wearing ourselves out in vain. The body has to follow its own natural principles.

When we investigate in line with its truth this way, we can be at our ease. Wherever there’s pain, keep aware of it continually in line with its truth. Whether it hurts a lot or a little, keep aware of its manifestations until it reaches the ultimate point of pain — the death of the body — and that’s as far as it goes.

Know it in line with its truth. Don’t resist it. Don’t set up any desires, because the setting up of desire is a deficiency, a hunger. And hunger, no matter when or what the sort, is pain: Hunger for sleep is pain, hunger for food is pain, hunger for water is pain. When was it ever a good thing?

The hunger, the desires that arise, wanting things to be like this, wanting them to be like that: These are all nothing but disturbances, issues that give rise to stress and pain. This is why the Buddha doesn’t have us resist the truth.

Use your discernment to investigate, to contemplate in line with the natural principles of things as they already are. This is called discernment that doesn’t fly in the face of truth — and the heart can then be at ease.

We study the four ‘Noble Truths’ here in our body. In other words, we study birth, aging, illness, and death, all of which lie in this single heap of elements (dhatu) without ever leaving it. Birth is an affair of these elements. Growing up or growing old, it’s old right here. When there’s illness, it manages to be ill right here, in one part or another. When death comes, it dies right here. So we have to study right here — where else would we study? We have to study and know the things that involve us directly before we study anything else. We have to study them comprehensively and to completion — studying our own birth, our aging, our illness and pain, and completing our study of our own death. That’s when we’ll be wise — wise to all the events around us.

People who know the Dhamma through practicing so that they are wise to the events that occur to themselves, do not flinch in the face of any of the conventional realities of the world at all. This is how it is when we study the Dhamma, when we know and see the Dhamma in the area of the heart — in other words, when we know rightly and well. ‘Mindfulness and discernment that are wise all around themselves’ are wise in this way, not wise simply from being able to remember. They have to be wise in curing doubt, in curing the recalcitrance of the heart, as well as in curing their own attachments and false assumptions so as to leave only a nature that is pure and simple. That’s when we’ll be really at ease, really relieved.

Let the khandhas be khandhas pure and simple in their own way, without our messing with them, without our struggling with them for power, without our forcing or coercing them to be like this or like that. The khandhas are then khandhas, the mind is then the mind, each with its own separate reality, each not infringing on the others as it used to. Each performs its own duties. This is called khandhas pure and simple, the mind pure and simple, without any conventional realities adulterating them. What knows is what knows, the elements are elements, the khandhas are khandhas.

Whatever things may break apart, let them break apart. We have already known them clearly with our discernment. We have no doubts. We’ve known them in advance, even before they die, so when death comes, what doubts can we have? — especially now that they display the truth of their nature for us to see clearly. This is called studying the Dhamma, practicing the Dhamma. To study and practice this way is to follow the same way that sages have practiced and known before us.

All of these conditions are matters of conventional reality — matters of the elements, the khandhas, or the sense media (ayatana). The four khandhas, the five khandhas, whatever, are individual conditions, individual conditions that are separated in line with conventions. Discernment is also a condition; and mindfulness, another condition — conditions of the heart — but they’re Dhamma, means of curing the mind that is clouded and obscured, means of washing away the things that cloud and obscure it, until radiance appears through the power of the discernment that cleanses the heart. Once the heart is radiant, in the next step it becomes pure.

Why is it pure? Because all impurities have fallen away from it. The various misconstruings that are an affair of defilement are all gone from the heart, so the heart is pure. This pure heart means that we have completed our study of ourselves, in line with the statement of the teaching:

vusitam brahmacariyam katam karaniyam:

‘The task of the religion is done, the holy life is complete, there is no further task to be done.’

When the tasks we have had to do — abandoning and striving — are done to completion, we know right here, because delusion lay right here in the heart. We study and practice simply to cure our own delusion. Once we know right here, and delusion is gone, what else is there to know? — for beyond this there is nothing further to know. What else is there for us to be deluded about? We’re no longer deluded, because we know fully all around.

This very state of mind: When at the beginning I referred to the superlative Dhamma, the marvelous Dhamma, I was referring to this very state of mind, this very Dhamma — but it’s something known exclusively within itself, and exists only within itself. It’s marvelous — this we know within our own mind. It’s superlative — this we also know within our own mind. We can’t take it out or unfurl it like other things for other people to see.

So if you want to have any Noble Treasures to show for yourself, practice. Remove all those dirty stains from the heart, and the superlative things I have mentioned will appear by their own nature — in other words, they will appear in the mind.

This is called completing your study of the Dhamma; and your study of the world is completed right here. The ‘world’ means the world of elements, the world of the khandhas that lie right here with each of us, which are more important than the worlds of elements and khandhas belonging to other people, because this world of elements and khandhas lies with us and has been weighing on the heart all along.

When we have studied the Dhamma to the attainment of release, that’s all there is to study. We’ve studied the world to completion and studied the Dhamma in full. Our doubts are gone, and there is nothing that will ever make us doubt again. As the Buddha exclaimed, ‘When dhammas become apparent to the Brahman, earnest and absorbed, doubt comes to an end because the conditions, the factors for continued being and birth, come to an end.’

Once we have reached this level, we can live wherever we like. The war is ended — the war between the mind and defilement, or the war between Dhamma and defilement, is over. This is where we dismantle being and birth. This is where we dismantle the heap of suffering in the round of rebirth — right here in the heart. Since the heart is the wanderer through the cycle of rebirth, we have to dismantle things right here, to know them right here. Once we know, that’s the end of all problems right here.

In this whole wide world there are no problems. The only problem was the issue of the heart that was deluded about itself and about the things that became involved with it. Now that it has completely rectified the way it is involved with things, there is nothing left — and that’s the end of the problem.

From this point on, there are no more problems to trouble the heart until the day of its total nibbana. This is how the Dhamma is studied to completion. The world — the world of elements and khandhas — is studied to completion right here.

So keep striving in order to see the marvel described at the beginning, which was described in line with the truth with no aspect to invite any doubt.

The Buddha and the Noble Disciples have Dhamma filling their hearts to the brim. You are a disciple of the Tathagata, with a mind that can be made to show its marvelousness through the practice of making it pure, just like the Buddha and the Noble Disciples. So try to make it still and radiant, because the heart has long lain buried in the mud. As soon as you can see the harm of the mud and grow tired of it, you should urgently wake up, take notice, and exert yourself till you can manage to make your way free. Nibbana is holding its hand out, waiting for you. Aren’t you going to come out?

Rebelliousness is simply distraction. The end of rebelliousness is stillness. When the heart is still, it’s at ease. If it’s not still, it’s as hot as fire. Wherever you are, everything is hot and troubled. Once it is still, then it’s cool and peaceful wherever you are — cool right here in the heart. So make the heart cool with the practice, because the heat and trouble lie with the heart. The heat of fire is one thing, but the heat of a troubled heart is hotter than fire. Try to put out the fires of defilement, craving, and mental effluents burning here in the heart, so that only the phenomenon of genuine Dhamma remains. Then you will be cool and at peace, everywhere and always.

And so I’ll ask to stop here.

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9-12-2007-Spiritual Comminity og The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One-Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts
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Spiritual Comminity og The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One

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Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts
Bhikkhu Bodhi



Preface [go up]

The first two steps in the process of becoming a lay disciple of the Buddha are the going for refuge (sarana gamana) and the undertaking of the five precepts (pañca-sila samadana). By the former step a person makes the commitment to accept the Triple Gem — the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha — as the guiding ideals of his life, by the latter he expresses his determination to bring his actions into harmony with these ideals through right conduct. The following two tracts were written for the purpose of giving a clear and concise explanation of these two steps. Though they are intended principally for those who have newly embraced the Buddha’s teaching they will probably be found useful as well by long-term traditional Buddhists wanting to understand the meaning of practices with which they are already familiar and also by those who want to know what becoming a Buddhist involves.

In order to keep our treatment compact, and to avoid the intimidating format of a scholastic treatise, references to source material in the tracts themselves have been kept to a minimum. Thus we here indicate the sources upon which our account has drawn. Going for Refuge is based primarily upon the standard commentarial passage on the topic, found with only minor variations in the Khuddakapatha Atthakatha (Paramatthajotika), the Dighanikaya Atthakatha (Sumangalavilasini), and the Majjhimanikaya Atthakatha (Papañcasudani). The first has been translated by Ven. Bhikkhu Ñanamoli in Minor Readings and the Illustrator (London: Pali Text Society, 1960), the third by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera in his The Threefold Refuge (B.P.S., The Wheel No. 76.).

The tract Taking the Precepts relies principally upon the commentarial explanations of the training rules in the Khuddakapatha Atthakatha, referred to above, and to the discussion of the courses of kamma in the Majjhimanikaya (commentary to No. 9, Sammaditthisutta). The former is available in English in Ven. Ñanamoli’s Minor Readings and Illustrator, the latter in Right Understanding, Discourse and Commentary on the Sammaditthisutta, translated by Bhikkhu Soma (Sri Lanka: Bauddha Sahitya Sabha, 1946). Another useful work on the precepts was The Five Precepts and the Five Ennoblers by HRH Vajirañanavarorasa, a late Supreme Patriarch of Thailand (Bangkok: Mahamakut Rajavidyalaya Press, 1975). Also consulted was the section on the courses of karma in Vasubandhu’s Adhidharmakosa and its commentary, a Sanskrit work of the Sarvastivada tradition.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Going for Refuge [go up]

The Buddha’s teaching can be thought of as a kind of building with its own distinct foundation, stories, stairs, and roof. Like any other building the teaching also has a door, and in order to enter it we have to enter through this door. The door of entrance to the teaching of the Buddha is the going for refuge to the Triple Gem — that is, to the Buddha as the fully awakened teacher, to the Dhamma as the truth taught by him, and to the Sangha as the community of his noble disciples. From ancient times to the present the going for refuge has functioned as the entranceway to the dispensation of the Buddha, giving admission to the rest of the teaching from its lowermost story to its top. All those who embrace the Buddha’s teaching do so by passing through the door of taking refuge, while those already committed regularly reaffirm their conviction by making the same threefold profession:

Buddham saranam gacchami
I go for refuge to the Buddha;

Dhammam saranam gacchami
I go for refuge to the Dhamma;

Sangham saranam gacchami
I go for refuge to the Sangha.

As slight and commonplace as this step might seem, especially in comparison with the lofty achievements lying beyond, its importance should never be underestimated, as it is this act which imparts direction and forward momentum to the entire practice of the Buddhist path. Since the going for refuge plays such a crucial role it is vital that the act be properly understood both in its own nature and in its implications for future development along the path. To open up the process of going for refuge to the eye of inner understanding, we here present an examination of the process in terms of its most significant aspects. These will be dealt with under the following eight headings: the reasons for taking refuge; the existence of a refuge; the identification of the refuge objects; the act of going for refuge; the function of going for refuge, methods of going for refuge; the corruption and breach of the going for refuge; and the similes for the refuges.

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8-12-2007-“for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many.”
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 “for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many.”

Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Friday, September 28, 2007

Get to know the results in a jiffy

on 30-09-07 14:00 and 17:00Hrs< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

Special Correspondent

Bangalore: For the first time, people of the State can get to see results of the urban local bodies online, minutes after they are announced.

State Election Commissioner M.R. Hegde told presspersons that the commission and the National Information Centre (NIC) officials would announce the results from the commission’s office here. Mr. Hegde said the NIC had commended the State Election Commission for implementing such a measure for the first time in the country. The results can be accessed at The returning officers have been asked to send the results to the commission soon after the counting is completed.

Most results would be out by 2 p.m. and that of the palikes by 5 p.m. on September 30. He said that Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami had suggested that other States emulate Karnataka. Later, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh took the aid of the State Election Commission and used the software developed by it, he added.

28 Gomti Nagar allotments illegal

Special Correspondent

Inquiry committee recommends cancellation, legal action

Among the beneficiaries are politicians and bureaucrats

Plea challenging panel’s recommendation filed in High Court

LUCKNOW: The controversial allotment of plots to influential persons during the Samajwadi Party regime has come to the fore again with allotments to 28 persons, including relatives of powerful politicians and bureaucrats, in Vipul Khand (Gomti Nagar) by the Lucknow Development Authority being declared illegal. The allotments were made in 2004-2005 when Mulayam Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The inquiry committee headed by Lucknow Divisional Commissioner Vijay Shankar Pandey submitted its report to the Government on Wednesday. In his report, Mr. Pandey has suggested that the allotments be cancelled and legal action initiated.

Mr. Pandey, who is a member of the U.P. IAS Action Group responsible for identifying the most corrupt bureaucrats, has, in his findings, indicted the then LDA Vice-Chairman B. B. Singh (presently under suspension), the then Secretaries of LDA, Rekha Gupta and Vijay Yadav, former LDA joint secretary J. B. Singh and former Housing Commissioner K. L. Meena. He has recommended action against them. However, the Government is no hurry to initiate action on the report and is looking into the legal implications of the move. A senior official of the Chief Minister’s Office said the law department was being consulted. Among the beneficiaries of LDA’s largesse in the form of plots ranging from 300 square metres to 540 square metres were Anita Singh, Special Secretary to the former CM, Shivi Kumar, daughter of Anil Kumar, Principal Secretary to the former CM, and R.C.S. Rawat, father-in-law of Samajwadi Party MP and Mr. Mulayam Singh’s son, Akhilesh Singh Yadav. Ms. Singh was the most powerful bureaucrat in the CM’s Office during the Mulayam regime.

Saroj Chaudhary, wife of former Revenue Minister, Ambika Chaudary, former Chief Town Planner of LDA, C. P. Sharma, former SSP of Lucknow, Navneit Sikera, and the daughters of then Lucknow Divisional Commissioner, R. K.Mittal, and former District Magistrate of Lucknow, R. N. Tripathi were also in the list of allottees.

Four members of the same family belonging to Etawah were the other allottees, as was a close relative of former LDA Vice-Chairman B. B. Singh. Mr. Singh was the District Magistrate of Etawah (Mulayam Singh’s home district) before he was brought in as LDA V-C by the former CM in 2004.

Informed sources said in some cases the allotments were either made on the very same day of submission of the application form to LDA, or the next day. In the case of one allottee, the application was submitted on December 16, 2004, and the allotment was cleared the same day. A relative of a senior bureaucrat submitted the application form on May 4, 2005, and the allotment was cleared on May 5, 2005, sources said.

PTI adds:

An application was moved before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday seeking quashing of a probe panel’s report recommending cancellation of allotment of plots .

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7-12-2007-The Awakened One-Samyutta Nikaya-The Grouped Discourses
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The Awakened One

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Lord Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


The Grouped Discourses


The Samyutta Nikaya, the third division of the Sutta Pitaka, contains 2,889 suttas grouped into five sections (vaggas). Each vagga is further divided into samyuttas, each of which in turn contains a group of suttas on related topics. The samyuttas
are named according to the topics of the suttas they contain. For
example, the Kosala Samyutta (in the Sagatha Vagga) contains suttas
concerning King Pasenadi of Kosala; the Vedana Samyutta (in the
Salayatana Vagga) contains suttas concerning feeling (vedana); and so on.

An excellent modern print translation of the complete Samyutta Nikaya is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000; originally published in two volumes, but now available in a single volume). A fine anthology of selected suttas is Handful of Leaves (Vol. 2), by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (distributed by the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies).

The suttas are numbered here by samyutta (chapter) and sutta,
with the suttas numbered sequentially from the start of each samyutta,
using as a guide the Rhys Davis & Woodward
PTS English translations of the Samyutta Nikaya (The Book of the Kindred Sayings).
The braces {} that follow each sutta and samyutta title contain the
corresponding volume and starting page number, first in the PTS
romanized Pali edition of the Samyutta Nikaya, then in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s Connected Discourses of the Buddha (”CDB”). The translator appears in the square brackets [].

35) Hausa

The tada Daya

Kirki ziyarar:

Ubangiji Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


The harhada ƙawãtaccen zance

The Samyutta Nikaya, na uku rabo daga cikin Sutta Pitaka, ya ƙunshi 2.889 suttas harhada cikin biyar sassan (vaggas). Kowane vagga ne kara zuwa kashi samyuttas, kowanne daga abin da bi da bi ya ƙunshi wata ƙungiya daga suttas a related topics. The samyuttas suna suna, bisa ga batutuwa na suttas suna dauke. Alal misali, Kosala Samyutta (a cikin Sagatha Vagga) ya ƙunshi suttas bisa King Pasenadi na Kosala. da Vedana Samyutta (a cikin Salayatana Vagga) ya ƙunshi suttas bisa ji (vedana); da sauransu.

m zamani buga translation na complete Samyutta Nikaya ne Bhikkhu Bodhi
ta hade ƙawãtaccen zance na Buddha: A New Translation na Samyutta Nikaya
(Boston: hikima Publications, 2000, asali da aka buga a biyu kundin,
amma yanzu akwai a cikin wani aure girma).
A m anthology na zabi suttas ne dintsi na ganye (Vol. 2), da Thanissaro Bhikkhu (rarraba ta Sati Center for Buddhist Nazarin).

suttas an ƙidaya nan da samyutta (sura) da kuma sutta, tare da suttas
ƙidaya sequentially daga farkon kowane samyutta, ta yin amfani da
matsayin mai shiryarwa da Rhys Davis & Woodward PTS English
translations na Samyutta Nikaya (The littafin da danginku Sayings).
braces {} wanda ya bi kowace sutta da samyutta suna dauke da daidai
girma da kuma lokacin da na fara page number, na farko a cikin PTS
romanized Pali edition na Samyutta Nikaya, to, a Bhikkhu Bodhi ta da
alaka ƙawãtaccen zance na Buddha ( “CDB”).
The fassara bayyana a square brackets [].

36) Classical Hawaiian

36) panina Hawaiian

Aoi hoala ae lakou i hana

Mai makaikai:

Ka Haku Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


Ka Hoʻohui ‘e kamailio

Ka Samyutta Nikaya, i ke kolu o ka papa o ka Sutta Pitaka, he 2.889 suttas Hoʻohui ‘iloko o elima pauku (vaggas). Kela
vagga mea hou puunaueia i samyuttas, kela mea keia mea o na mea ma ka
huli he i ka hui o na suttas ma nā kumuhana apau loa.
Na samyuttas ua kapaʻia e like me nā kumuhana apau loa o ka suttas iloko ona. No ka mea, laʻana, ka mea Kosala Samyutta (i loko o ka Sagatha Vagga) loaʻa suttas no ke alii Pasenadi o Kosala; ka Vedana Samyutta (i loko o ka Salayatana Vagga) loaʻa suttas no e manao ana (vedana); a laila.

maikaʻi kēia puka unuhi o ka pau Samyutta Nikaya no Bhikkhu Bodhi i ka
pili ana e kamailio nei o ka Buddha: A New Translation o ka Samyutta
Nikaya (Boston: ka naʻauao Publications, 2000, kope paʻiʻia ma nā puke,
aka, ano, i loaʻa i loko o ka hoʻokahi buke).
A ke olonā anthology o koho suttas, oia kauwahi o ka lau (Vol. 2), e
Thanissaro Bhikkhu (māhele ma ka Sati Center no Buddhist Haʻawina).

suttas ua heluʻia maʻaneʻi ma ka samyutta (mokuna) a me ka sutta, a me
na suttas helu sequentially mai ka hoʻomaka ‘ana o kela a me keia
samyutta, ho ohana e like me ke alakai a ka Rhys Davis & Woodward
PTS English unuhi o ka Samyutta Nikaya (The Book o ka ohana’ōlelo).
koo {} i hahai ma muli o kela a me keia sutta a me ka samyutta ke
kuleana i loko o ka AYEIE ka leo a me ka hoʻomakaʻaoʻao helu, mua i loko
o ka PTS romanized Pali paiia o ka Samyutta Nikaya, alaila, ma ka
Bhikkhu Bodhi ka pili ana e kamailio nei o ka Buddha ( “CDB”).
Ka unuhiʻia ma loko o ka hale brackets [].

37) Classical Hebrew

37) עברית קלאסית

The One מתעורר

ביקור חביב:

לורד סידהרתא גאוטמה בודהה


שיח המקובצים

Samyutta Nikaya, החטיבה השלישית של Sutta Pitaka, מכיל 2889 suttas מקובצי חמישה סעיפים (vaggas). כל vagga מחולק נוספת לתוך samyuttas, שכל אחד מהם בתורו מכיל קבוצת suttas על נושאים קשורים. Samyuttas נקרא על פי הנושאים של suttas שהם מכילים. לדוגמה, Kosala Samyutta (ב Sagatha Vagga) מכיל suttas בדבר המלך Pasenadi של Kosala; ןוךאנה Samyutta (ב Salayatana Vagga) מכיל suttas בנוגע מרגיש (ןוךאנה); וכולי.

הדפסה מודרני מצוין של Nikaya Samyutta המלא הוא שיח ההתחברות של Bhikkhu
בודהי של הבודהה: A New תרגום של Samyutta Nikaya (בוסטון: פרסומי חוכמה,
2000; פורסם במקור בשני כרכים, אבל עכשיו זמין בכרך אחד).
אנתולוגיה קנס של suttas הנבחר הוא חופן עלי (Vol. 2), על ידי Thanissaro Bhikkhu (מופץ על-ידי מרכז סאטי ללימודים בודהיסטים).

ממוספרים כאן samyutta (פרק) ו Sutta, עם suttas ממוספרים ברצף מההתחלה של
כל samyutta, באמצעות כמדריך התרגומים רייס דיוויס וודוורד PTS האנגלית של
Samyutta Nikaya (ספר של פתגמים Kindred).
{} שעוקבת זה Sutta וכותרת samyutta להכיל את הנפח המקביל ומספר עמוד
מתחיל, ראשון PTS Romanized מהדורה פאלי של Samyutta Nikaya, אז בשיח
ההתחברות של Bhikkhu בודהי של בודהה ( “CDB”).
המתרגם מופיע בסוגריים מרובעים [].

38) Classical Hindi

38) शास्त्रीय हिन्दी


कृपया यात्रा:

भगवान सिद्धार्थ गौतम बुद्ध


इकट्ठे सत्संग

संयुक्त निकाय, सुत्त Pitaka के तीसरे डिवीजन, 2,889 suttas पांच वर्गों (vaggas) में बांटा शामिल हैं। प्रत्येक vagga आगे samyuttas, जिनमें से प्रत्येक बदले में संबंधित विषयों पर suttas के एक समूह में शामिल है में विभाजित है। samyuttas suttas वे होते हैं के विषयों के अनुसार नाम हैं। उदाहरण के लिए, कोशल Samyutta (Sagatha Vagga में) कोशल के राजा के विषय में Pasenadi suttas होता है; Vedana Samyutta (Salayatana Vagga में) लग रहा है (Vedana) के विषय में suttas होता है; और इसी तरह।

संयुक्त निकाय का एक उत्कृष्ट आधुनिक प्रिंट अनुवाद है भिक्खु बोधि की
बुद्ध की कनेक्टेड सत्संग: संयुक्त निकाय का एक नया अनुवाद (बोस्टन: बुद्धि
प्रकाशन, 2000; मूल रूप से दो खंडों में प्रकाशित है, लेकिन अब एक ही
मात्रा में उपलब्ध है)।
चुने गए suttas का जुर्माना संकलन पत्तियां की मुट्ठी (वॉल्यूम। 2),
Thanissaro भिक्खु द्वारा (बौद्ध अध्ययन के लिए सती केंद्र द्वारा वितरित)

suttas प्रत्येक samyutta के शुरू से ही क्रमिक रूप से गिने साथ samyutta
(अध्याय) और सुत्त द्वारा यहां गिने जा रहे हैं, एक गाइड के रूप में
संयुक्त निकाय (आत्मीय बातें की पुस्तक) की रिज़ डेविस और वुडवर्ड पीटीएस
अंग्रेजी अनुवाद का उपयोग कर।
{} कि प्रत्येक सुत्त और samyutta शीर्षक का पालन करें, इसी मात्रा और
मूल्य उस पृष्ठ संख्या में होते हैं पहले पीटीएस में, संयुक्त निकाय की
पाली संस्करण romanized तो बुद्ध ( “सीडीबी”) के भिक्खु बोधि जुड़ा हुआ
सत्संग में।
अनुवादक वर्ग कोष्ठक [] में प्रकट होता है।

39) Classical Hmong

Cov paub ib tug

Kindly mus ntsib:

Tswv Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


Cov hoob kawm Discourses

Lub Samyutta Nikaya, peb division ntawm lub Sutta Pitaka, muaj 2.889 suttas grouped ua tsib tshooj (vaggas). Txhua
vagga yog muab faib ntxiv ua samyuttas, txhua tus uas nyob rau hauv lem
muaj ib pab pawg neeg ntawm suttas rau lwm yam ntsiab lus.
Lub samyuttas muaj npe raws li lub ntsiab lus ntawm lub suttas lawv muaj. Piv txwv li, lub Kosala Samyutta (nyob rau hauv lub Sagatha Vagga) muaj suttas txog King Pasenadi ntawm Kosala; lub Vedana Samyutta (nyob rau hauv lub Salayatana Vagga) muaj suttas txog lawm (vedana); thiab thiaj li nyob.

qho zoo heev niaj hnub sau txhais lus ntawm cov ua kom tiav Samyutta
Nikaya yog Bhikkhu Bodhi Lub cob cog Discourses of tus hauj sam: A
Tshiab Neeg txhais lus ntawm cov Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Txawj Ntse
Publications, 2000; Ameslikas luam tawm nyob rau hauv ob tagnrho, tab
sis tam sim no muaj nyob rau hauv ib lub ntim).
Ib tug zoo anthology ntawm xaiv suttas yog tug puv tes ntawm Nplooj
(Vol. 2), los ntawm Thanissaro Bhikkhu (faib los ntawm cov Sati Center
rau tug hauj Studies).

suttas yog suav no los ntawm samyutta (tshooj) thiab sutta, nrog rau
cov suttas suav sequentially los ntawm qhov pib ntawm txhua samyutta,
siv raws li ib daim ntawv qhia lub Rhys Davis & Woodward pts English
translations ntawm cov Samyutta Nikaya (Phau Ntawv ntawm lub ntiaj
kev zawm hniav {} uas ua raws li txhua sutta thiab samyutta title muaj
cov coj volume thiab pib nplooj ntawv, thawj nyob rau hauv lub pts
romanized Pali ib tsab ntawm tus Samyutta Nikaya, ces nyob rau hauv
Bhikkhu Bodhi tus cob cog Discourses of tus hauj sam ( “CDB”).
Lub tshuab txhais lus tshwm nyob rau hauv lub square nkhaus [].

40) Classical Hungarian

40) Klasszikus magyar

A felébredett

Kedves bejelentkezés:

Lord Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


A csoportosított beszédek

A Szamjutta-nikája harmadik felosztása a szutta-pitaka tartalmaz 2889 szuttákban csoportosítva öt szakaszból (vaggas). Minden vagga tovább osztható samyuttas, amelyek mindegyike viszont tartalmazza a csoport szuttákban kapcsolódó témákról. A samyuttas elnevezése a téma a szutták bennük. Például a Kosala Samyutta (a Sagatha Vagga) tartalmaz szuttákban vonatkozó király Paszénadi a Kosala; A védaná Samyutta (a Salayatana Vagga) tartalmaz szuttákban kapcsolatos érzés (védaná); stb.

kiváló modern nyomtatási fordítása a teljes Szamjutta-nikája van
Bhikkhu Bodhi The Connected Párbeszéd a Buddha: egy új fordítást a
Szamjutta-nikája (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000, eredetileg két
kötetben, de már kapható egy kötetben).
A finom antológia kiválasztott szuttákban van maroknyi levelek (Vol.
2), a Thanissaro Bhikkhu (forgalmazza a Sati Center for Buddhist

számozása itt samyutta (fejezet) és Szuttában, a szutták számozással
kezdetétől minden samyutta használva, mint egy útmutató a Rhys Davis
& Woodward PTS angol fordítását Szamjutta-nikája (The Book of a
Vértestvérek közmondások).
kapcsos zárójelek {}, hogy követik egymást Szuttában és samyutta cím
tartalmazza a megfelelő mennyiségű és kezdő oldalszámot, először a PTS
romanizált Pali kiadás a Szamjutta-nikája, majd Bhikkhu Bodhi Connected
Párbeszéd a Buddha ( “CDB”).
A fordító megjelenik a szögletes zárójelben [].

41) Classical Icelandic

Vakna One

Vinsamlegast heimsókn:

Lord Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


Sambyggð orðræðu

The Samyutta Nikaya, þriðja deild Sutta Pitaka, inniheldur 2,889 suttas flokkaðar í fimm hluta (vaggas). Hver vagga er frekar skipt í samyuttas, sem hver um aftur inniheldur hóp suttas á málefni. The samyuttas eru nefnd í samræmi við efni þeirra suttas þeir innihalda. Til dæmis, Kosala Samyutta (í Sagatha Vagga) inniheldur suttas um konung Pasenadi af Kosala; sem Vedana Samyutta (í Salayatana Vagga) inniheldur suttas um líður (Vedana); og svo framvegis.

framúrskarandi nútíma prenta þýðingar heill Samyutta Nikaya er Bhikkhu
Bodhi er tengda orðræðu Búdda: A New Þýðing á Samyutta Nikaya (Boston:
Wisdom Publications, 2000; upphaflega birt í tveimur bindum, en nú í
boði í eitt bindi).
A fínn anthology af völdum suttas er Handfylli af laufum (Vol. 2), með
því að Thanissaro Bhikkhu (dreift af Sati Center for Buddhist Studies).

suttas eru taldir hér með samyutta (kafli) og Sutta, með suttas númeruð
röð frá upphafi hverrar samyutta, nota sem leiðarvísi um þýðingar Rhys
Davis & Woodward PTS ensku af Samyutta Nikaya (The Book í ætt
{} sem fylgja hverri Sutta og samyutta titil innihalda samsvarandi magn
og hefst blaðsíðutal, fyrst í PTS Romanized palí útgáfa af Samyutta
Nikaya, þá í tengdum orðræðu Bhikkhu Bodhi er af Búdda ( “CDB”).
Þýðandinn birtist í hornklofum [].

42) Classical Igbo

42) Oge gboo Igbo

The akpọte n’ụra One

Obiọma nleta:

Jehova Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha


The grouped Ekwesị

The Samyutta Nikaya, nke atọ nkewa nke Sutta Pitaka, e dere 2.889 suttas grouped n’ime ise ngalaba (vaggas). Onye ọ bụla vagga E kewara samyuttas, onye ọ bụla nke bụ nke n’aka nke nwere otu ìgwè nke suttas on isiokwu ndị metụtara ya. The samyuttas na-aha ya dị ka isiokwu nke suttas e dere na ha. Dị ka ihe atụ, ndị Kosala Samyutta (na Sagatha Vagga) nwere suttas banyere Eze Pasenadi nke Kosala; na Vedana Samyutta (na Salayatana Vagga) nwere suttas banyere mmetụta (vedana); were gabazie.

ndị magburu onwe oge a na-ebipụta translation of zuru Samyutta Nikaya
bụ Bhikkhu Bodhi si The ejikọrọ Ekwesị nke Buddha: A New Translation of
the Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Amamihe Publications, 2000; mbụ e bipụtara
ná mpịakọta abụọ, ma ugbu a n’otu mpịakọta).
A ezi anthology nke ahọrọ suttas bụ ọnụ ọgụgụ dị nta nke epupụta (Vol.
2), site Thanissaro Bhikkhu (kesaara ndị Sati Center maka Buddha

suttas ndị ahụ nọmba ebe a site na samyutta (isi) na sutta, na suttas
agukọta sequentially site na mmalite nke ọ bụla samyutta, iji dị ka ihe
nduzi ndị Rhys Davis & Woodward PTS nsụgharị Bekee nke Samyutta
Nikaya (The Book of ndị ikwu Kwuru).
nkwado {} na-eso onye ọ bụla sutta na samyutta aha nwere ndị kwekọrọ
ekwekọ olu na-amalite na peeji nke ọnụ ọgụgụ, mbụ na PTS romanized Pali
mbipụta nke Samyutta Nikaya, mgbe ahụ, na Bhikkhu Bodhi si ejikọrọ
Ekwesị nke Buddha ( “CDB”).
The nsụgharị na-egosi na square brackets [].

43) Classical Indonesian

43) Klasik Indonesia

The Terbangun One

Kunjungan Mohon:

Tuhan Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


The Dikelompokkan Wacana

Samyutta Nikaya, divisi ketiga dari Sutta Pitaka, berisi 2.889 sutta dikelompokkan menjadi lima bagian (vagga). Setiap Vagga dibagi lagi menjadi samyuttas, masing-masing yang pada gilirannya berisi sekelompok sutta pada topik terkait. The samyuttas diberi nama sesuai dengan topik dari sutta yang dikandungnya. Sebagai contoh, Kosala Samyutta (di Sagatha Vagga) berisi sutta tentang Raja Pasenadi dari Kosala; yang Vedana Samyutta (di Salayatana Vagga) berisi sutta tentang perasaan (vedana); dan seterusnya.

cetak modern yang sangat baik dari lengkap Samyutta Nikaya adalah
Bhikkhu Bodhi The Discourses Connected Buddha: A New Terjemahan dari
Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000; awalnya diterbitkan
dalam dua volume, tapi sekarang tersedia dalam volume tunggal).
Sebuah antologi denda sutta yang dipilih adalah Segenggam Daun (Vol.
2), oleh Bhikkhu Thanissaro (didistribusikan oleh Sati Pusat Studi

diberi nomor di sini oleh samyutta (bab) dan sutta, dengan sutta nomor
berurutan dari awal setiap samyutta, menggunakan sebagai panduan yang
Rhys Davis & Woodward PTS Inggris terjemahan dari Samyutta Nikaya
(Kitab ungkapam Kindred).
{} yang mengikuti setiap sutta dan judul samyutta berisi volume yang
sesuai dan mulai nomor halaman, pertama di PTS diromanisasi edisi Pali
dari Samyutta Nikaya, maka dalam Wacana Terhubung Bhikkhu Bodhi untuk
Buddha ( “CDB”).
penerjemah muncul dalam kurung [].

44) Classical Irish

44) Classical hÉireann

An One focail

cuairt kindly:

Lord Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


Na discourses Grúpáilte

An Nikaya Samyutta, an tríú rannán den Pitaka Sutta Tá, 2889 suttas ghrúpáil i gcúig chuid (vaggas). Tá gach vagga tuilleadh ina samyuttas, gach ceann ina bhfuil grúpa suttas ar na hábhair a bhaineann seal. Na samyuttas Ainmnítear réir na topaicí na suttas iontu. Mar shampla, tá suttas bhaineann Rí Pasenadi na Kosala an Kosala Samyutta (i Vagga Sagatha); Tá suttas bhaineann mothú (vedana) an Vedana Samyutta (i Vagga Salayatana); agus mar sin de.

aistriúchán cló iontach nua-aimseartha an iomlán Samyutta Nikaya
Bhikkhu Bodhi An dioscúrsaí Ceangailte an Buddha: A Aistriúchán Nua den
Nikaya Samyutta (Boston: Foilseacháin Wisdom, 2000; foilsíodh ar dtús i
dhá imleabhar, ach ar fáil anois i imleabhar amháin).
Tá díolaim fíneáil de suttas roghnaithe Handful of Duilleoga (Vol. 2),
ag Thanissaro Bhikkhu (dháileadh ag an Ionad do Staidéar Sati

suttas atá uimhrithe anseo le samyutta (caibidil) agus Sutta, leis na
suttas seicheamhach uimhriú ó thús gach samyutta, ag baint úsáide mar
threoir na haistriúcháin Rhys Davis & Woodward PTS Béarla den
Samyutta Nikaya (Leabhar na Sayings Kindred).
bhfuil na braces {} a leanann gach Sutta agus teideal samyutta toirt
comhfhreagracha agus leathanach tosaigh, den chéad uair sa PTS Romanized
Pali eagrán den Nikaya Samyutta, ansin i ndioscúrsaí Ceangailte Bhikkhu
Bodhi ar an Buddha ( “BFC”).
An chuma ar an aistritheoir sna lúibíní cearnacha [].

45) Classical Italian
45) classica italiana


visita gentile:

Signore Siddhartha Gautama Buddha


Discorsi raggruppati

Il Samyutta Nikaya, la terza divisione del Sutta Pitaka, contiene 2.889 sutta raggruppati in cinque sezioni (vaggas). Ogni
Vagga è ulteriormente suddivisa in samyuttas, ciascuno dei quali a sua
volta contiene un gruppo di sutta su argomenti correlati.
I samyuttas sono denominati in base agli argomenti dei sutta che contengono. Ad esempio, il Kosala Samyutta (nel Sagatha Vagga) contiene sutta riguardanti Re Pasenadi di Kosala; il Vedana Samyutta (nel Salayatana Vagga) contiene sutta concernenti sentimento (vedana); e così via.

eccellente traduzione della stampa moderna della completa Samyutta
Nikaya è Discorsi Connected del Buddha del Bhikkhu Bodhi: Una nuova
traduzione del Samyutta Nikaya (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000;
originariamente pubblicati in due volumi, ma ora disponibili in un unico
Una bella antologia di sutta selezionati è manciata di foglie (Vol.
2), per Thanissaro Bhikkhu (distribuito dal Centro Sati per gli studi

sutta sono numerati qui per Samyutta (capitolo) e sutta, con sutta
numerati in sequenza dall’inizio di ogni Samyutta, utilizzando come
guida le traduzioni del Samyutta Nikaya (Il Libro dei Detti Kindred)
Rhys Davis & Woodward PTS inglese.
parentesi graffe {} che si susseguono sutta e titolo Samyutta
contengono il volume corrispondente e partenza il numero di pagina,
prima nel PTS romanizzato Pali edizione del Samyutta Nikaya, poi nel
Discorsi Connected di Bhikkhu Bodhi del Buddha ( “CDB”).
Il traduttore appare tra le parentesi quadre [].

Buddhism in Malaysia

Standing Buddha statue made from brass, found in a tin mine in Pengkalan Pegoh, Ipoh, Perak in 1931.

Buddhism was introduced to the Malays and also to the people of the Malay Archipelago as early as 200 BCE. Chinese written sources indicated that some 30 small Indianised states rose and fell in the Malay Peninsula. Malay-Buddhism began when Indian traders and priests traveling the maritime
routes and brought with them Indian concepts of religion, government,
and the arts. For many centuries the peoples of the region, especially
the royal courts, synthesised Indian and indigenous ideas of Buddhism and that shaped their political and cultural patterns.

Malaysian Buddhist
Sri Dhammananda.jpg
Michelle Yeoh TIFF 2011.jpg
Koh Tsu Koon.jpg
Yap Ah Loy.jpg
Total population
5,620,483 (2010)
Regions with significant populations
Penang · Selangor · Kuala Lumpur · Johor
Malaysian Mandarin · English · Thai · Sinhala · Indian · Malay
Majority Mahayana Buddhism(Chinese· Theravada Buddhism(Sri Lankans and Thais)  · Sukhavana

Kek Lok Si, or “Temple of Sukhāvatī“, in Penang, Malaysia

Che Sui Khor Pagoda in Kota Kinabalu.

Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple (from Lorong Timur), Sentul, Kuala Lumpur


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comments (0)
6-12-2007-The True Teachings of The Awakened One-Straight from the Heart-Thirteen Talks on the Practice of Meditation-
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 5:07 am

The True Teachings of The Awakened One

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Straight from the Heart
Thirteen Talks on the Practice of Meditation
Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno
Translated from the Thai by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu


Note: In these talks, as in Thai usage in general, the words ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ are used interchangeably.

Introduction [go up]

These talks — except for the two marked otherwise — were originally given for the benefit of Mrs. Pow Panga Vathanakul, a follower of Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa who had contracted cancer of the bone marrow and had come to practice meditation at Wat Pa Baan Taad in order to contend with the pain of the disease and the fact of her approaching death. All in all, she stayed at Wat Pa Baan Taad for 102 days, from November 9, 1975 to February 19, 1976; during that period Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa gave 84 impromptu talks for her benefit, all of which were tape recorded.

After her death in September, 1976, one of her friends, M.R. Sermsri Kasemsri, asked permission of the Venerable Acariya to transcribe the talks and print them in book form. Seventy-seven of the talks, plus an additional eight talks given on other occasions, were thus printed in two massive volumes together totaling more than 1,000 pages. Six talks from these two volumes have already been translated into English and published in a book entitled Amata Dhamma.

The talks in the present collection all deal with the practice of meditation, and particularly with the development of discernment. Because their style of presentation is personal and impromptu, they will probably be best understood if read in conjunction with a more systematic introduction to the techniques of meditation, such as the Venerable Acariya’s own book, Wisdom Develops Samadhi, which is available separately or as part of the volume, Forest Dhamma.

The title of the present book is taken from a request, frequently made by the Venerable Acariya to his listeners, that his teachings be taken to heart, because they come straight from the heart.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu
June, 1987

The Language of the Heart [go up]

The Venerable Acariya Mun taught that all hearts have the same language. No matter what one’s language or nationality, the heart has nothing but simple awareness, which is why he said that all hearts have the same language. When a thought arises, we understand it, but when we put it into words, it has to become this or that language, so that we don’t really understand one another. The feelings within the heart, though, are the same for everyone. This is why the Dhamma fits the heart perfectly, because the Dhamma isn’t any particular language. The Dhamma is the language of the heart. The Dhamma resides with the heart.

Pleasure and pain reside with the heart. The acts that create pleasure and pain are thought up by the heart. The heart is what knows the results that appear as pleasure and pain; and the heart is burdened with the outcome of its own thoughts. This is why the heart and the Dhamma fit perfectly. No matter what our language or nationality, we can all understand the Dhamma because the heart and the Dhamma are a natural pair.

The heart forms the core within the body. It’s the core, the substance, the primary essence within the body. It’s the basic foundation. The conditions that arise from the mind, such as thought-formations, appear and vanish, again and again. Here I’m referring to the rippling of the mind. When the mind ripples, that’s the formation of a thought. Labels, which deal with conjecturing, memorizing, and recognizing, are termed sañña. ‘Long’ thoughts are sañña; short thoughts are sankhara. In other words, when a thought forms — ‘blip’ — that’s a sankhara. Sañña refers to labeling and recognizing. Viññana refers to the act of taking note when anything external comes and makes contact with the senses, as when visible forms make contact with the eye and cognition results. All of these things are constantly arising and vanishing of their own accord, and so the Buddha called them khandhas. Each ‘heap’ or ‘group’ is called a khandha. These five heaps of khandhas are constantly arising and vanishing all the time.

Even arahants have these same conditions — just like ordinary people everywhere — the only difference being that the arahants’ khandhas are khandhas pure and simple, without any defilements giving them orders, making them do this or think that. Instead, their khandhas think out of their own free nature, with nothing forcing them to think this or that, unlike the minds of ordinary people in general.

To make a comparison, the khandhas of ordinary people are like prisoners, constantly being ordered about. Their various thoughts, labels, assumptions, and interpretations have something that orders and forces them to appear, making them think, assume, and interpret in this way or that. In other words, they have defilements as their boss, their leader, ordering them to appear.

Arahants, however, don’t. When a thought forms, it simply forms. Once it forms, it simply disappears. There’s no seed to continue it, no seed to weigh the mind down, because there’s nothing to force it, unlike the khandhas governed by defilements or under the leadership of defilements. This is where the difference lies.

But their basic nature is the same: All the khandhas we have mentioned are inconstant (aniccam). In other words, instability and changeability are a regular part of their nature, beginning with the rupa khandha, our body, and the vedana khandha, feelings of pleasure, pain, and indifference. These things appear and vanish, again and again. Sañña, sankhara, and viññana are also always in a state of appearing and vanishing as a normal part of their nature.

But as for actual awareness — which forms the basis of our knowledge of the various things that arise and vanish — that doesn’t vanish. We can say that the mind can’t vanish. We can say that the mind can’t arise. A mind that has been purified thus has no more problems concerning the birth and death of the body and the khandhas; and thus there is no more birth here and there, appearing in crude forms such as individuals or as living beings, for those whose minds have been purified.

But those whose minds are not purified: They are the ones who take birth and die, setting their sights on cemeteries without end, all because of this undying mind.

This is why the Lord Buddha taught the world, and in particular the world of human beings, who know right and wrong, good and evil; who know how to foster the one and remedy the other; who understand the language of the Dhamma he taught. This is why he taught the human world above and beyond the other worlds: so that we could try to remedy the things that are harmful and detrimental, removing them from our thoughts, words, and deeds; try to nourish and foster whatever goodness we might already have, and give rise to whatever goodness we don’t yet have.

He taught us to foster and develop the goodness we already have so as to nourish the heart, giving it refreshment and well-being, giving it a standard of quality, or goodness, so that when it leaves its present body to head for whatever place or level of being, this mind that has been constantly nourished with goodness will be a good mind. Wherever it fares, it will fare well. Wherever it takes birth, it will be born well. Wherever it lives, it will live well. It will keep on experiencing well-being and happiness until it gains the capacity, the potential, the accumulation of merit it has developed progressively from the past into the present — in other words, yesterday is today’s past, today is tomorrow’s past, all of which are days in which we have fostered and developed goodness step by step — to the point where the mind has the firm strength and ability, from the supporting power of this goodness, that enables it to pass over and gain release.

Such a mind has no more birth, not even in the most quiet or refined levels of being that contain any latent traces of conventional reality (sammati) — namely, birth and death as we currently experience it. Such a mind goes completely beyond all such things. Here I’m referring to the minds of the Buddhas and of the arahants.

There’s a story about Ven. Vangisa that has a bearing on this. Ven. Vangisa, when he was a layman, was very talented in divining the level of being in which the mind of a dead person was reborn — no matter who the person was. You couldn’t quite say he was a fortuneteller. Actually he was more a master of psychic skills. When anyone died, he would take that person’s skull and knock on it — knock! knock! knock! — focus his mind, and then know that this person was reborn there, that person was reborn here. If the person was reborn in hell or in heaven, as a common animal or a hungry ghost, he could tell in every case, without any hesitation. All he needed was to knock on the skull.

When he heard his friends say that the Buddha was many times more talented than this, he wanted to expand on his knowledge. So he went to the Buddha’s presence to ask for further training in this science. When he reached the Buddha, the Buddha gave him the skull of an arahant to knock on.

‘All right, see if you can tell where he was reborn.’

Ven. Vangisa knocked on the skull and listened.


He knocked again and listened.


He thought for a moment.


He focused his mind.


He couldn’t see where the owner of the skull was reborn. At his wit’s end, he confessed frankly that he didn’t know where the arahant was reborn.

At first, Ven. Vangisa had thought himself talented and smart, and had planned to challenge the Buddha before asking for further training. But when he reached the Buddha, the Buddha gave him the skull of an arahant to knock on — and right there he was stymied. So now he genuinely wanted further training. Once he had further training, he’d really be something special. This being the way things stood, he asked to study with the Buddha. So the Buddha taught him the science, taught him the method — in other words, the science of the Dhamma. Ven. Vangisa practiced and practiced until finally he attained arahantship. From then on he was no longer interested in knocking on anyone’s skull except for his own. Once he had known clearly, that was the end of the matter. This is called ‘knocking on the right skull.’

Once the Buddha had brought up the topic of the mind that doesn’t experience rebirth — the skull of one whose mind was purified — no matter how many times Ven. Vangisa knocked on it, he couldn’t know where the mind was reborn, even though he had been very talented before, for the place of a pure mind’s rebirth cannot be found.

The same was true in the case of Ven. Godhika: This story should serve as quite some food for thought. Ven. Godhika went to practice meditation, made progress step by step, but then regressed. They say this happened six times. After the seventh time, he took a razor to slash his throat — he was so depressed — but then came to his senses, contemplated the Dhamma, and became an arahant at the last minute. That’s the story in brief. When he died, Mara’s hordes searched for his spirit. To put it simply, they stirred up a storm, but couldn’t tell where he had been reborn.

So the Lord Buddha said, ‘No matter how much you dig or search or investigate to find the spirit of our son, Godhika, who has completely finished his task, you won’t be able to find it — even if you turn the world upside down — because such a task lies beyond the scope of conventional reality.’ How could they possibly find it? It’s beyond the capacity of people with defilements to know the power of an arahant’s mind.

In the realm of convention, there is no one who can trace the path of an arahant’s mind, because an arahant lies beyond convention, even though his is a mind just the same. Think about it: Even our stumbling and crawling mind, when it is continually cleansed without stop, without ceasing, without letting perseverance lag, will gradually become more and more refined until it reaches the limit of refinement. Then the refinement will disappear — because refinement is a matter of conventional reality — leaving a nature of solid gold, or solid Dhamma, called a pure mind. We too will then have no more problems, just like the arahants, because our mind will have become a superlative mind, just like the minds of those who have already gained release.

All minds of this sort are the same, with no distinction between women and men, which is simply a matter of sex or convention. With the mind, there is no distinction between women and men, and thus both women and men have the same capacity in the area of the Dhamma. Both are capable of attaining the various levels of Dhamma all the way to release. There are no restrictions that can be imposed in this area. All that is needed is that we develop enough ability and potential, and then we can all go beyond.

For this reason, we should all make an effort to train our hearts and minds. At the very least, we should get the mind to attain stillness and peace with any of the meditation themes that can lull it into a state of calm, giving rise to peace and well-being within it. For example, mindfulness of breathing, which is one of the primary themes in meditation circles, seems to suit the temperaments of more people than any other theme. But whatever the theme, take it as a governing principle, a refuge, a mainstay for the mind, putting it into practice within your own mind so as to attain rest and peace.

When the mind begins to settle down, we will begin to see its essential nature and worth. We will begin to see what the heart is and how it is. In other words, when the mind gathers all of its currents into a single point, as simple awareness within itself, this is what is called the ‘mind’ (citta). The gathering in of the mind occurs on different levels, corresponding to the mind’s ability and to the different stages of its refinement. Even if the mind is still on a crude level, we can nevertheless know it when it gathers inwardly. When the mind becomes more and more refined, we will know its refinement — ‘This mind is refined… This mind is radiant… This mind is extremely still… This mind is something extremely amazing’ — more and more, step by step, this very same mind!

In cleansing and training the mind for the sake of stillness; in investigating, probing, and solving the problems of the mind with discernment (pañña) — which is the way of making the mind progress, or of enabling us to reach the truth of the mind, step by step, through the means already mentioned — no matter how crude the mind may be, don’t worry about it. If we get down to making the effort and persevere continually with what diligence and persistence we have, that crudeness will gradually fade away and vanish. Refinement will gradually appear through our own actions or our own striving until we are able to go beyond and gain release by slashing the defilements to bits. This holds true for all of us, men and women alike.

But while we aren’t yet able to do so, we shouldn’t be anxious. All that is asked is that we make the mind principled so that it can be a refuge and a mainstay for itself. As for this body, we’ve been relying on it ever since the day we were born. This is something we all can know. We’ve made it live, lie down, urinate, defecate, work, make a living. We’ve used it, and it has used us. We order it around, and it orders us around. For instance, we’ve made it work, and it has made us suffer with aches here and pains there, so that we have to search for medicine to treat it. It’s the one that hurts, and it’s the one that searches for medicine. It’s the one that provides the means. And so we keep supporting each other back and forth in this way.

It’s hard to tell who is in charge, the body or us. We can order it around part of the time, but it orders us around all the time. Illness, hunger, thirst, sleepiness: These are all nothing but a heap of suffering and stress in which the body orders us around, and orders us from every side. We can order it around only a little bit, so when the time is right for us to give the orders, we should make it meditate.

So. Get to work. As long as the body is functioning normally, then no matter how much or how heavy the work, get right to it. But if the body isn’t functioning normally, if you’re ill, you need to be conscious of what it can take. As for the mind, though, keep up the effort within, unflaggingly, because it’s your essential duty.

You’ve depended on the body for a long time. Now that it’s wearing down, know that it’s wearing down — which parts still work, which parts no longer work. You’re the one in charge and you know it full well, so make whatever compromises you should.

But as for the heart, which isn’t ill along with the body, it should step up its efforts within, so that it won’t lack the benefits it should gain. Make the mind have standards and be principled — principled in its living, principled in its dying. Wherever it’s born, make it have good principles and satisfactory standards. What they call ‘merit’ (puñña) won’t betray your hopes or expectations. It will provide you with satisfactory circumstances at all times, in keeping with the fact that you’ve accumulated the merit — the well-being — that all the world wants and of which no one has enough. In other words, what the world wants is well-being, whatever the sort, and in particular the well-being of the mind that will arise step by step from having done things, such as meditation, which are noble and good.

This is the well-being that forms a core or an important essence within the heart. We should strive, then, while the body is still functioning, for when life comes to an end, nothing more can be done. No matter how little or how much we have accomplished, we must stop at that point. We stop our work, put it aside, and then reap its rewards — there, in the next life. Whatever we should be capable of doing, we do. If we can go beyond or gain release, that’s the end of every problem. There will then be nothing to involve us in any turmoil.

Here I’ve been talking about the mind because the mind is the primary issue. That which will make us fare well or badly, meet with pleasure or pain, is nothing else but the mind.

As for what they call bad kamma, it lies within the mind that has made it. Whether or not you can remember, these seeds — which lie within the heart — can’t be prevented from bearing fruit, because they are rooted in the mind. You have to accept your kamma. Don’t find fault with it. Once it’s done, it’s done, so how can you find fault with it? The hand writes and so the hand must erase. You have to accept it like a good sport. This is the way it is with kamma until you can gain release — which will be the end of the problem.

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5-12-2007-Spiritual Community of The True Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One-Sangha is to serve the cause of Buddhism well, “for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many.” -Buddhism in Thailand-Its Past and Its Present-
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Sangha is to serve the cause of Buddhism well, “for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many.”

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Photo: Bangkok

Photo: Thailand

Photo: Thailand


Buddhism in Thailand
Its Past and Its Present
Karuna Kusalasaya

People all over the world who are interested in Buddhism and keep in touch with its news and activities must have heard of the Buddha Jayanti celebrations held a few years ago in all Buddhist countries, including India and Japan. It was in 1957 or, according to the reckoning of some Buddhist countries, in 1956, that Buddhism, as founded by Gotama the Buddha, had completed its 2,500th year of existence. The Buddhist tradition, especially of the Theravada or Southern School such as now prevails in Burma, Ceylon, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, has it that on the completion of 2,500 years from its foundation, Buddhism would undergo a great revival, resulting in its all-round progress, in both the fields of study and practice. Buddhists throughout the world, therefore, commemorated the occasion in 1956-57 by various kinds of activities such as meetings, symposia, exhibitions and the publication of Buddhist texts and literature.

As to whether or not the tradition mentioned above has any truth behind it, the future alone will testify. However, judging from news received from all corners of the globe, it is no exaggeration to say that mankind is taking an ever-increasing interest in Buddhism. As a matter of fact, since the end of the Second World War interest in Buddhism as evinced by people in Europe, America, and Australia has reached a scale unheard of before. Any casual perusal of journals on Buddhism in any of these continents will convince the readers of this statement. It is a matter worth noticing that after the end of the First World War also, Buddhism made great headway in Europe and elsewhere. This phenomenon can perhaps be best explained by the fact that mankind’s spiritual thirst is more sharpened by calamities like war, and that in times of distress mankind realizes Truth better.

The Land of Yellow Robes

Thailand is perhaps the only country in the world where the king is constitutionally stipulated to be a Buddhist and the upholder of the Faith. For centuries Buddhism has established itself in Thailand and has enriched the lives of the Thais in all their aspects. Indeed, without Buddhism, Thailand would not be what it is today. Owing to the tremendous influence Buddhism exerts on the lives of its people, Thailand is called by many foreigners “The Land of Yellow Robes,” for yellow robes are the garments of Buddhist monks. In view of the increasing interest the world is taking in Buddhism and in view of the fact that Thailand is one of the countries where Buddhism still exists as a living force it will not, perhaps, be out of place to know something of the story of how this great faith reached that country.

Buddhism in Thailand: Its Past

Different opinions exist about when, exactly, Buddhism reached that part of the world now officially known as Thailand. Some scholars say that Buddhism was introduced to Thailand during the reign of Asoka, the great Indian emperor who sent Buddhist missionaries to various parts of the then known world. Others are of the view that Thailand received Buddhism much later. Judging from archaeological finds and other historical evidence, however, it is safe to say that Buddhism first reached Thailand when the country was inhabited by a racial stock of people known as the Mon-Khmer who then had their capital, Dvaravati, at a city now known as Nakon Pathom (Sanskrit: Nagara Prathama), about 50 kilometers to the west of Bangkok. The great pagoda at Nakon Pathom, Phra Pathom Chedi (Prathama cetiya), and other historical findings in other parts of the country testify to this fact as well as to the fact that Buddhism, in its varied forms, reached Thailand at four different periods, namely:

We shall now proceed to study each of these periods in detail.

I. Theravada or Southern Buddhism [back up]

That the first form of Buddhism introduced to Thailand was that of Theravada (The Doctrine of the Elders) School is proved by various archaeological remains unearthed in the excavations at Nakon Pathom, such as the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law), the Buddha footprints and seats, and the inscriptions in the Pali language, all of which are in rocks. Such objects of Buddhistic veneration existed in India before the introduction of the Buddha image, which appeared later as a result of Greek influence. Buddhism, therefore, must have reached Thailand during the 3rd century B.C., and it must have been more or less the same form of Buddhism as was propagated by the great Buddhist Emperor Asoka. This form of Buddhism was known as Theravada or Hinayana (The Lower Vehicle) in contradistinction to the term Mahayana (The Higher Vehicle); the two schools having sprung up soon after the passing away of the Buddha. When worship of the Buddha image became popular in India, it also spread to other countries where Buddhism had already been introduced. This is borne out by the fact that many Buddha images, especially those of the Gupta style, had been found in the ruins of Nakon Pathom and the neighboring cities. Judging from the style of the Buddha images found, it can also be assumed that the early Buddhist missionaries to Thailand went from Magadha (in Bihar state, India).

To support the view that the first form of Buddhism introduced to Thailand was that of the Theravada School as propagated by Emperor Asoka, we have evidence from the Mahavamsa, the ancient chronicle of Ceylon. In one of its passages dealing with the propagation of the Dhamma, the Mahavamsa records that Asoka sent missionaries headed by Buddhist elders to as many as nine territories. One of these territories was known as Suvarnabhumi where two Theras (elder monks), Sona and Uttara, were said to have proceeded.

Now opinions differ as to where exactly this land of Suvarnabhumi is. Thai scholars express the opinion that it is in Thailand and that its capital was at Nakon Pathom, while scholars of Burma say that Suvarnabhumi is in Burma, the capital being at Thaton, a Mon (Peguan) town in eastern Burma near the Gulf of Martaban. Still other scholars of Laos and Cambodia claim that the territory of Suvarnabhumi is in their lands. Historical records in this connection being meager as they are, it would perhaps be of no avail to argue as to the exact demarcation of Suvarnabhumi. Taking all points into consideration, one thing, however, seems clear beyond dispute. That is Suvarnabhumi was a term broadly used in ancient times to denote that part of Southeast Asia which now includes Southern Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Malaya. The term Suvarnabhumi is a combination of the words suvarna and bhumi. Both are Sanskrit words; the former means gold and the latter stands for land. Suvarnabhumi therefore literally means Golden Land or Land of Gold. Keeping in view the abundance of nature in that part of Asia just referred to, the term seems but appropriate.

The reason why scholars of Thailand express the view that the capital of Suvarnabhumi was at Nakon Pathom was because of the archaeological finds unearthed in the area surrounding that town. Nowhere in any of the countries mentioned above, not even at Thaton in Burma, could one find such a large and varied number of ancient relics as were found at Nakon Pathom. By age and style these archaeological objects belong to the times of Emperor Asoka and the later Guptas. Even the Great Stupa (Phra Pathom Chedi) at Nakon Pathom itself is basically identical with the famous Sañchi Stupa in India, built by Asoka, especially if one were to remove the shikhara or upper portion. Many Thai archaeologists are of the opinion that the shikhara was a later addition to the pagoda, a result, so to say, of the blending of the Thai aesthetic sense with Indian architectural art. Moreover, the name Pathom Chedi (Pali: Pathama Cetiya) means “First Pagoda” which, in all probability, signifies that it was the first pagoda built in Suvarnabhumi. This would easily fit in with the record of the Mahavamsa — that Theras Sona and Uttara went and established Buddhism in the territory of Suvarnabhumi at the injunction of Emperor Asoka.1 Taking cognizance of the fact that Asoka reigned from 269 to 237 B.C., we can reasonably conclude that Buddhism first spread to Thailand during the 3rd century B.C. It is interesting to note in this connection that the history of the penetration of Indian culture to Southeast Asia also started more or less during the same period.2

II. Mahayana or Northern Buddhism [back up]

With the growth of Mahayana Buddhism in India, especially during the reign of King Kanishka who ruled over Northern India during the second half of the first century A.D., the sect also spread to the neighboring countries, such as Sumatra, Java, and Kambuja (Cambodia). It is probable that Mahayana Buddhism was introduced to Burma, Pegu (Lower Burma) and Dvaravati (now Nakon Pathom in Western Thailand) from Magadha (in Bihar, India) at the same time as it went to the Malay Archipelago. But probably it did not have any stronghold there at that time; hence no spectacular trace was left of it.

Starting from the beginning of the fifth century A.D. Mahayana Buddhist missionaries from Kashmir in Northern India began to go to Sumatra in succession. From Sumatra the faith spread to Java and Cambodia. By about 757 A.D. (Buddhist Era: 1300) the Srivijaya king with his capital in Sumatra rose in power and his empire spread throughout the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago. Part of South Thailand (from Surasthani downwards) came under the rule of the Srivijaya king. Being Mahayanists, the rulers of Srivijaya gave much encouragement and support to the propagation of Mahayana Buddhism. In South Thailand today we have much evidence to substantiate that Mahayana Buddhism was once prevalent there. This evidence is in the form of stupas or chetiyas and images, including votive tablets of the Buddhas and Bodhisattas (Phra Phim), which were found in large number, all of the same type as those discovered in Java and Sumatra. The chetiyas in Chaiya (Jaya) and Nakon Sri Thammarath (Nagara Sri Dharmaraja), both in South Thailand, clearly indicate Mahayana influence.

From 1002 to 1182 A.D. kings belonging to the Suryavarman dynasty ruled supreme in Cambodia. Their empire extended over the whole of present-day Thailand. Being adherents of Mahayana Buddhism with a strong mixture of Brahmanism, the Suryavarman rulers did much to propagate and establish the tenets of the Northern School. There is an interesting stone inscription, now preserved in the National Museum at Bangkok, which tells us that in about 1017 A.D. (B.E. 1550) there ruled in Lopburi, in central Thailand and once a capital city, a king from Nakon Sri Thammarath who traced his ancestry to Srivijaya rulers. The king had a son who later became the ruler of Kambuja (Cambodia) and who, more or less, kept Thailand under the suzerainty of Cambodia for a long time. During this period there was much amalgamation of the two countries’ religions and cultures. The stone inscription under consideration probably refers to one of the Suryavarman kings who had blood relationship with the Srivijaya rulers.

From the inscription just referred to we also learn that at that period the form of Buddhism prevalent in Lopburi was that of Theravada, and that Mahayana Buddhism, already established in Cambodia, became popularized in Thailand only after Thailand had come under the sway of Cambodia. There are no indications, however, that the Mahayana School superseded the Theravada in any way. This was due to the fact that Theravada Buddhism was already on a firm basis in Thailand when the Mahayana School was introduced there. That there were monks of both schools, Theravada and Mahayana, in Lopburi during those days, is indicated in a stone inscription in the Cambodian language, found in a Brahmanic Temple within the vicinity of Lopburi city itself.

Much of the Brahmanic culture which survives in Thailand till today could be traced to its origin from Cambodia during this period. Many of the Cambodian kings themselves were zealous adherents of Brahmanism and its ways of life. This period, therefore, can be termed Mahayana Period. Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindus, took its root deep in Thailand during these times.

III. Burma (Pagan) Buddhism [back up]













In 1057 A.D. King Anuruddha (Anawratha) became powerful in the whole of Burma, having his capital at Pagan (Central Burma). Anuruddha extended his kingdom right up to Thailand, especially the Northern and Central parts, covering areas now known as Chiengmai, Lopburi, and Nakon Pathom. Being a Theravada Buddhist, Anuruddha ardently supported the cause of Theravada which Burma, like Thailand, at first received directly from India through missionaries sent by Emperor Asoka. However, at the time under consideration, Buddhism in India was already in a state of decline, and as contact between Burma and India was then faint, Theravada Buddhism, as prevalent in Burma at that time, underwent some changes and assumed a form somewhat different from the original doctrine. This, at a later stage, became what is known in Thailand as Burma (Pagan) Buddhism. During the period of King Anuruddha’s suzerainty over Thailand, Burmese Buddhism exercised great influence over the country, especially in the North where, owing to proximity, the impact from Burma was more felt.

It is significant that Buddhist relics found in North Thailand bear a striking Theravada influence, whereas those found in the South clearly show their Mahayana connections dating back from Srivijaya days. To a great extent this is due to the fact that, in their heyday of suzerainty over Thailand, the Burmese under Anuruddha were content with Upper Thailand only, while leaving the South practically to be ruled by their Khmer (Cambodian) vassals whose capital was at Lopburi.

From the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. the Thai people, whose original homeland was in the valleys between the Huang Ho and the Yangtze Kiang in China, began to migrate southwards as a result of constant friction with the neighboring tribes. In the course of their migration which lasted for several centuries, they became separated into two main groups. One group went and settled in the plains of the Salween River, Shan States, and other areas and spread on as far as Assam. This group of Thais is called Thai Yai (Big Thai). The other main group moved further South and finally settled in what is today termed Thailand. The latter group of Thais is called Thai Noi (Small Thai). The Thais in present-day Thailand are actually the descendants of these migrant Thais. Of course, in the course of their migration which, as said above, continued off and on for a long time, there had been a great deal of mixture of blood through intermarriage which was only natural. We should always bear in mind that there are several ethnic groups scattered through the length and breadth of Southeast Asia from times immemorial. But even today we can trace the language affinity of the Thais living in widely scattered areas such as Assam, Upper Burma, Southern China, Shan States, Laos, North Vietnam, and Thailand.

After struggling hard for a long time the Thais were able to establish their independent state at Sukhothai (Sukhodaya) in North Thailand. This was probably about 1257 A.D. (B.E. 1800). It was during the period of their movement southwards that the Thais came into contact with the form of Buddhism as practiced in Burma and propagated under the royal patronage of King Anuruddha. Some scholars are of the opinion that as Mahayana Buddhism had spread to China as early as the beginning of the Christian Era, the Thais, while still in their original home in China, must have already been acquainted with some general features of Buddhism. As the Thai migrants grew in strength their territory extended and finally they became the masters of the land in succession to Anuruddha, whose kingdom declined after his death. During the succeeding period, the Thais were able to exert themselves even more prominently in their southward drive. Thus they came into close contact with the Khmers, the erstwhile power, and became acquainted with both Mahayana Buddhism and Brahmanism as adopted and practiced in Kambuja (Cambodia). Much of the Brahmanic influence, such as religious and cultural rites, especially in the court circles, passed on from Cambodia to the Thais during this period, for Hinduism was already firmly established in Cambodia at that time. Even the Thai scripts, based on Cambodian scripts which, in turn, derived their origin from India, were invented by King Ram Kamhaeng of Sukhothai during the period under consideration.

Of the period under discussion it may be observed in passing that Northern Thailand, from Sukhothai District upwards, came much under the influence of Burma (Pagan) Buddhism, while in the central and southern parts of the country many Mahayana beliefs and practices, inherited from the days of the Suryavarmans and the Srivijayas, still persisted.

IV. Ceylon (Lankavamsa) Buddhism [back up]

This is the most important period in the history of the spread of Buddhism to Thailand, for it witnessed the introduction to that country of that form of Buddhism which remains dominant there until today.

About 1153 A.D. (B.E. 1696) Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 A.D.) became king of Ceylon, known in ancient days as Lanka. A powerful monarch and a great supporter of Theravada Buddhism, Parakramabahu did much to spread and consolidate the Dhamma of the Lord in his island kingdom. He it was who caused (according to some scholars of Southern Buddhism) the Seventh Buddhist Council3 to be held under the chairmanship of Kassapa Thera, of Dimbulagala in order to revise and strengthen the Doctrine and the Discipline (Dhamma and Vinaya).

As a result of the efforts of King Parakramabahu the Great, Buddhism was much consolidated in Ceylon and the news spread to neighboring lands. Buddhist monks from various countries, such as Burma, Pegu (Lower Burma), Kambuja, Lanna (North Thailand) and Lanchang (Laos) flocked to Ceylon in order to acquaint themselves with the pure form of the Dhamma. Thailand also sent her Bhikkhus to Ceylon and thereby obtained the upasampada vidhi (ordination rite) from Ceylon, which later became known in Thailand as Lankavamsa. This was about 1257 A.D. (B.E. 1800). Apparently the early batches of Bhikkhus, who returned from Ceylon after studies, often accompanied by Ceylonese monks, established themselves first in Nakon Sri Thammarath (South Thailand), for many of the Buddhist relics bearing definitely Ceylonese influence, such as stupas and Buddha images, were found there. Some of these relics are still in existence today. News of the meritorious activities of these monks soon spread to Sukhothai, then the capital of Thailand, and King Ram Kamhaeng who was ruling at the time, invited those monks to his capital and gave them his royal support in propagating the Doctrine. This fact is recorded in one of the King’s rock inscriptions, dated about 1277 A.D. Since then Ceylon (Sinhala) Buddhism became very popular and was widely practiced in Thailand. Some of the Thai kings, such as King Maha Dharmaraja Lithai of Sukhothai dynasty and King Borom Trai Lokanath of the early Ayudhya Period, even entered the Holy Order or Bhikkhu Sangha according to the ordination rite of Lankavamsa Buddhism by inviting a patriarch from Ceylon, Maha Sami Sangharaja Sumana by name, to be the presiding monk over his upasampada (ordination) ceremony. Many monasteries, stupas, Buddha images and even Buddha footprints, such as the well-known one at Sraburi in central Thailand, were built in accordance with the usage popular in Ceylon. The study of Pali, the language of Theravada or Southern Buddhism, also made great progress, and in all matters dealing with the Dhamma the impact of Ceylon was perceptibly felt.

However, there had been no antagonism between the different forms of Buddhism already in existence in Thailand and the Lankavamsa which had been introduced later from Ceylon. On the contrary they seemed to have amalgamated peacefully, and all had adjusted themselves to one another’s benefit. This is evident in all religious rites and ceremonies of Thailand. Indeed, somewhat characteristic of the Buddhists, there had been a spirit of forbearance in all matters. For instance, even today Brahmanic rites thrive side by side with Buddhistic ceremonies in Thailand and Cambodia, especially in the royal courts.

History repeats itself. Years after, when in Ceylon under King Kirtisri (1747-1781 A.D.) the upasampada ordination was lost due to a decline of Buddhism and upheavals in the country, Thailand (during the reign of King Boromkot, 1733-1758 A.D.) was able to repay the debt by sending a batch of Buddhist monks, under the leadership of Upali and Ariyamuni Theras, who in the course of time established in Ceylon what is known as the Siyamopali Vamsa or Siyam Nikaya, or Siamese Sect, which still is a major sect in that country. Upali worked and died in Sri Lanka, the country he loved no less than his own.

Today, for all purposes, Thailand can be termed a Theravada Buddhist country. There are, of course, a few Mahayana monks and monasteries, but they are mostly confined to foreign communities, chiefly the Chinese. All, however, live at peace and cooperate with one another.

So much for the past of Buddhism in Thailand.

Buddhism in Thailand: Its Present

According to the census taken in 1960 the population of Thailand numbers 25,519,965. Of this number 94% are Buddhists (the rest are mostly Muslims and Christians). This fact itself demonstrates more than anything else how influential Buddhism is in Thailand. In their long history of existence the Thais seem to have been predominantly Buddhists, at least ever since they came into contact with the tenets of Buddhism. All the Thai kings in the recorded history of present-day Thailand have been adherents of Buddhism. The country’s constitution specifies that the King of Thailand must be a Buddhist and the Upholder of Buddhism.

The term “The Land of Yellow Robes” has not been inappropriately applied to Thailand, for two things strike most foreigners as soon as they set foot in that country. One is the Buddhist temple with its characteristic architecture, and the other is the sight of yellow-clad Buddhist monks and novices who are to be seen everywhere, especially in the early hours of dawn when they go out in great numbers for alms. The two sights inevitably remind the foreigners that here is a country where Buddhism is a dominant force in the people’s life. Indeed, to the Thai nation as a whole, Buddhism has been the main spring from which flow its culture and philosophy, its art and literature, its ethics and morality, and many of its folkways and festivals.

For clarity and convenience we shall divide the study of the present state of Buddhism in Thailand into two parts, namely the Bhikkhu Sangha or the Holy Order, and the Laity.

I. The Bhikkhu Sangha or the Holy Order [back up]

The Bhikkhu Sangha or the Holy Order of Buddhist monks has been in existence in Thailand ever since Buddhism was introduced there. According to the 1958 census there were in the whole kingdom of Thailand 159,648 monks; 73,311 novices; and 20,944 monasteries or temples. These are scattered throughout the country, particularly more numerous in the thickly populated areas. The Bhikkhu Sangha of Thailand, being of Theravada or Southern School, observes the same set of discipline (Vinaya) as the Bhikkhu Sanghas in other Theravada countries such as Ceylon, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. In spite of the fact that the government allots a yearly budget for the maintenance and repair of important temples and as stipends for high ranking monks, almost the entire burden for the support of the Sangha and the upkeep of the temples rests with the public. A survey entitled “Thailand Economic Farm Survey” made in 1953 by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Thailand gives the religious cash expenses of the average Thai rural family per year as ranging from 5 to 10 per cent of its total annual cash income. It may be added here that the report concerns the average Thai rural family, and not the urban dwellers, the majority of whom, in Thailand as elsewhere, are less inclined to religion than the country folks.

Two Sects or Nikayas

There are two sects or Nikayas of the Buddhist Order in Thailand. One is the Mahanikaya, and the other is the Dhammayuttika Nikaya. The Mahanikaya is the older and by far the more numerous one, the ratio in the number of monks of the two sects being 35 to 1. The Dhammayuttika Nikaya was founded in 1833 A.D. by King Mongkut, the fourth ruler of the present Chakri Dynasty who ruled Thailand from 1851 to 1868 A.D. Having himself spent 27 years as a Bhikkhu, the King was well versed in the Dhamma, besides many other branches of knowledge, including Pali, the canonical language of Theravada Buddhism. The express desire of the King in founding the Dhammayuttika sect was to enable monks to lead a more disciplined and scholarly life in accordance with the pristine teachings of the Buddha. The differences between the two Nikayas are, however, not great; at most they concern only matters of discipline, and never of the Doctrine. Monks of both sects follow the same 227 Vinaya rules as laid down in the Patimokkha of the Vinaya Pitaka (the Basket of the Discipline), and both receive the same esteem from the public. In their general appearance and daily routine of life too, except for the slight difference in the manners of putting on the yellow robes, monks of the two Nikayas differ very little from one another.

Organization of the Sangha

Formerly, and in accordance with the Administration of the Bhikkhu Sangha Act (B.E. 2484, A.D. 1943), the organization of the Sangha in Thailand was on a line similar to that of the State. The Sangharaja or the Supreme Patriarch is the highest Buddhist dignitary of the Kingdom. He is chosen by the King, in consultation with the Government, from among the most senior and qualified members of the Sangha. The Sangharaja appoints a council of Ecclesiastical Ministers headed by the Sangha Nayaka, whose position is analogous to that of the Prime Minister of the State. Under the Sangha Nayaka there function four ecclesiastical boards, namely the Board of Ecclesiastical Administration, the Board of Education, the Board of Propagation and the Board of Public Works.

Each of the boards has a Sangha Mantri (equivalent to a minister in the secular administration) with his assistants. The four boards or ministries are supposed to look after the affairs of the entire Sangha. The Ecclesiastical Ministerial Council which, by the way, corresponds to the Cabinet, consists of ten members, all senior monks of the Sangha. In addition to this, there is a Consultative Assembly (Sangha Sabha), equivalent to the National Assembly, the members of which number 45, selected from various important monasteries. The Sangha Sabha acts as an Advisory Body to the Ecclesiastical Ministerial Council. Below the Sangha Sabha the administration of the Sangha continues to correspond to the secular administration of the country. All monks and novices (samaneras) have to live in monasteries which are scattered throughout the country. Each monastery has its abbot appointed by the Ecclesiastical Ministerial Council in consultation with local people. It may be pointed out here that all religious appointments in Thailand are based on scholarly achievements, seniority, personal conduct and popularity, and contacts with monks further up in the Sangha.

There is a Department of Religious Affairs in the Ministry of Education which acts as a liaison office between the Government and the Sangha. In general the Department of Religious Affairs works in cooperation with the Ecclesiastical Ministerial Council on all matters affecting the Sangha. For instance, it issues all legal directives concerning the entire community of monks; it keeps record of the Sangha’s property, such as lands etc.; it maintains facts and figures with respect to monks and monasteries. The Religious Affairs Department also prepares the annual budget for the upkeep of the Sangha functionaries and the maintenance and repair of temples etc. It may be added here that all temples and monasteries are State property.

In 1962, the Administration of the Bhikkhu Sangha Act of 1943 was abolished; a new one was enacted instead. By virtue of the new act, the posts of Sangha Nayaka, Sangha Mantris, and Sangha Sabha were abolished. In place of these there is a Mahathera Samagama (Council of the Elders) headed by the Sangharaja himself and consisting of not less than four and not more than eight senior monks (mahatheras) of the two sects (nikayas). The Mahathera Samagama, in collaboration with the Department of Religious Affairs, directly governs the entire Sangha.

Education of Monks

As is well known, the original idea of men’s entering monkhood during the Buddha’s time or shortly later, was to attain liberation from worldly existence in accordance with the teaching of the Master. Such an idea, of course, springs from man’s feeling of aversion to things mundane. In other words, in those far-off days, men entered monkhood with the sole intention of ridding themselves of life’s miseries and of obtaining spiritual freedom or Nirvana. Instances of such self-renunciation are found in the holy books of the Buddhists. With the passage of time, as is only natural, many of the ideals and practices of the early followers of the Buddha underwent modifications. Today, over 2,500 years after the passing away of the Buddha, though the ideal of becoming a Bhikkhu still remains very lofty among Buddhists of all lands, in practice it must be admitted that there have been many deviations from the Master’s original admonitions with regard to the whys and wherefores of man’s entering monkhood. Generalization of any subject matter is often dangerous but it will not be far from truth to say that today, in Thailand as in other Buddhist countries, the practice of Buddhist males entering monkhood is to a considerable extent prompted rather by the dictation of custom, the wish for education and other external considerations than by the desire to attain emancipation. Yet there are also many who join the Sangha through genuine love for a religious life and religious studies, or out of the wish to be of service to Buddhism and their country. Finally, in the Thai Sangha also those are not entirely lacking whose life is vigorously devoted to the aim of ultimate emancipation and to the guidance of others towards that goal. There have been, and still are, saintly and able meditation masters in Thailand, with a fair number of devoted disciples in Sangha and laity. There are also still monks — the so-called thudong bhikkhus — who follow the ancient way of austere living embodied in the “strict observances” or dhutangas.4

In view of the above facts, there are two categories of Buddhist monks in Thailand. One comprises those who become monks for long periods, sometimes for life, and the other those who enter the Order temporarily. To serve in the monkhood even for a short period is considered a great merit-earning attainment by the Thai Buddhists. Even kings follow this age-old custom. For instance, the present ruler, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also observed the custom for a period of half a month some time ago. Government officials are allowed leave with full pay for a period of four months in order to serve in monkhood. The idea is to enable young men to gain knowledge of Buddhism and thereby to become good citizens. Life as a monk gives them practical experience of how an ideal Buddhist life should be. In rural districts the general tendency is still to give more deference to those who have already served in monkhood. Such people are supposed to be more “mature” than those who have not undergone the monk’s life. Moreover, in Thailand wats (monasteries and temples) used to be and are still regarded as seats of learning where all men, irrespective of life’s position, could go and avail themselves of education benefits. This is especially so in the case of economically handicapped males of the countryside. Instances are not lacking in which people have climbed high up on life’s status ladder after obtaining education while in monkhood. There are neither religious restrictions nor social disapproval against monks’ returning to lay life if and when they find themselves unable to discharge their duties as monks.

Cases exist in which, for some reason or the other, men have entered monkhood more than once, although such practice cannot be said to be in the esteem of the public. Looked at from this viewpoint, the institution of entering monkhood in Thailand, apart from being a way of gaining moral and spiritual enlightenment, is a social uplift method by which those not so fortunately placed in life could benefit. Judged from the ideal of adopting a monk’s life as enunciated by the Buddha, whether or not such practice is commendable, is a different story. The fact is that even today when modernism has penetrated deep into Thailand, about one half of the primary schools of the country are still situated in wats. With sex and crimes on the increase in the country, the cry for living a better Buddhist life is being heard more and more distinctly in Thailand today.

The traditional education of monks and novices in Thailand centers mainly on the studies of the Buddhist Doctrine (Dhamma) and Pali, the language in which the Theravada scriptures are written. Of the former, the study of the Doctrine, there are three grades with examinations open to both monks and laymen. Those passing such examinations are termed Nak Dhamm, literally meaning one who knows the Dhamma. The latter, i.e., the study of Pali, has seven grades, starting with the third and ending with the ninth grade. Students passing Pali examinations are called parian (Pali: pariñña = penetrative knowledge); in the Thai language the word parinna is used to mean academic degree. For example, monks and novices passing the first Pali examination are entitled to write “P. 3″ after their names.

Generally the Dhamma and the Pali studies go hand in hand and take at least seven years to complete. The stiffness of the two courses, especially that of the Pali language, can be guessed from the fact that very few students are able to pass the highest grade, the Parian 9, in any annual examination. In the good old days when living was less competitive than now, passing of even the lower Dhamma and Pali examinations used to be of much value in securing good government posts. But now things are quite different; even those successful in the highest Pali examination, the 9th Grade, find it difficult to get suitable employment.

Of late there has developed a new outlook in the education of monks in Thailand. With the rapid progress of science and with the shrinking of the world, Buddhist leaders of Thailand, monks as well as laymen, are awakened to the necessity of imparting broader education to members of the Sangha, if the Sangha is to serve the cause of Buddhism well, “for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many.” As a result of the new outlook there now function in Bangkok two higher institutes of learning exclusively for monks and novices. One is the Mahachulalongkorn Rajvidyalaya, and the other is the Mahamongkut Rajvidyalaya. Both are organized on a modern university footing and both seem to be making satisfactory progress towards that direction. Inclusion in the curriculum of some secular subjects not incompatible with monks’ discipline (Vinaya) is among the notable features of these two institutes; the aim is to give an all-round education to monks in order to enable them to be of better service to the cause of Buddhism amidst modern conditions.

So much for the education of ‘long-term’ monks. As for those who enter the Order temporarily, mostly for a period of three rainy months during the Vassa, or Buddhist Lent, the education is brief and devoted to the main tenets and features of Buddhism only. As pointed out above, such people enter monkhood either by their own genuine desire for knowledge of the Dhamma, by the dictum of custom or, as generally is the case, by the two reasons combined. Monks of this category return to lay life again as soon as the Lent is over. This is the reason why accommodations in monasteries (wats) are usually full during the Lenten period. Nowadays, owing to the pressure of modern life, the custom of temporarily entering monkhood is not so rigorously observed by people living in urban areas as by those in the countryside. The custom has its parallel in Burma, Cambodia, and Laos where Theravada Buddhism prevails.

Wats and Monks

The word “wat” means monastery and temple combined. It is the residence of monks and novices. There are about 21,000 wats in the whole of Thailand. In Bangkok alone there are nearly two hundred wats. Some big wats in Bangkok have as many as 600 resident monks and novices. Wats are centers of Thai art and architecture. Thai culture, to a considerable extent, flows from wats. Wat-lands and constructions thereon are donated by royalty, wealthy people and the public in general. The wat is the most important institution in Thai rural life. The social life of the rural community revolves around the wat. Besides carrying out the obvious religious activities, a wat serves the community as a recreation center, dispensary, school, community center, home for the aged and destitute, social work and welfare agency, village clock, rest-house, news agency, and information center. A wat is headed by a Chao Avas (the abbot) who is responsible for the maintenance of the wat discipline, the proper performance of religious services and rituals, and the general welfare of the inmates. Besides monks and novices, there are also the “temple boys” in wats, who assist monks and novices in various ways, such as bringing and arranging food, cleaning dormitories, washing yellow robes, etc. Usually these boys are related to resident monks in one way or another, and their stay is free of charge. Most of them are students whose homes are far away and who would, otherwise, find it impracticable to get education. This is especially so in Bangkok where accommodation is difficult to get and where all higher seats of learning of the country are situated. The census taken in 1954 reveals that there are as many as 119,044 temple boys in Thailand, which indeed is not a small figure. The institution of the wat, in itself a gift of Buddhism, therefore contributes in no small measure to the social welfare and progress of the Thai Buddhists. The benefits in this respect, of course, are more apparent among the lower strata of society than in the case of the fortunate few on the top.

Apart from engaging themselves in doctrinal studies and observing disciplinary rules (Vinaya) in general, monks are expected to be “friends, philosophers, and guides” of the people. Preaching to masses face to face or over the radio is one of the commonest ways by which monks help the promotion of moral stability among various members of the society. It may not be out of place to reiterate the fact that Buddhism lays great stress on the necessity of leading a morally good life in order to obtain happiness in life here and hereafter. In most of the ceremonies and rituals, whether private or public, monks’ cooperation and benediction are indispensable. Indeed, in the life of the average Thai Buddhists, from the cradle to the grave, monks are persons to whom they constantly turn for moral support.

The role of monks in rural districts is even more important, for there the local wat is not only the religious but also the social center of the community. It is at the wat that people come together and experience a sense of comradeship. Religious rituals and ceremonies held at wats are always accompanied by social activities: they are occasions for people, especially the young, to enjoy themselves in feast, fun and festivities. This aspect of the religious service helps the common folks to relax and satisfies their needs for recreation. Not a few matrimonial alliances started from contacts at wat premises. Acting as a moral and ethical example, monks are the most venerated persons in the countryside Thai society, remaining very close to the hearts of the people. In times of crisis, it is to monks that people bring their problems for counsel and encouragement. With few exceptions, the Sangha has well justified this attitude of respect and honor shown to it on the part of the laity and, on the whole, has lived up to the dignity of the Faith.

II. The Laity [back up]

Throughout its over 2,500 years of existence Buddhism has been closely connected with the lay community. In Pali the word for a male lay devotee is upasaka; upasika is its female equivalent. In the history of Buddhism, right from the time of its founder, there had been numerous upasakas and upasikas whose faith in the Teachings of the Master had contributed largely to the dissemination of the Doctrine. Names of the Buddha’s munificent followers like Anathapindika, Visakha, Asoka, Kanishka, etc., are on the lips of Buddhists even today. Without the patronage of Emperor Asoka, Buddhism probably could not have spread so far and the course of its history might have been different. In India, the land of its birth, as well as in most of the countries where its Message has been accepted, Buddhism has received unstinted support from people of all classes, especially the ruling class. History of the movements of Buddhism in China, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, Tibet, etc., amply justifies this statement. In the case of Thailand too, ever since its introduction to that country, Buddhism has been warmly received and patronized by kings and commoners alike. It is well-known that many of the Thai rulers, not satisfied with being mere lay-devotees, got themselves ordained into monkhood and became famous for their erudition in the Dhamma. King Mongkut, Rama IV, probably stands out as most distinguished among this class of royal devotees. The custom of Thai males entering the Sangha also contributes much to the better understanding and cooperation between the lay community and the monkhood. After all, personal experience is better than mere theoretical knowledge.

The Buddha himself, in one of his discourses, exhorted his followers to discharge their duties well so as to enable the Dhamma to endure long in the world. One of the duties of the lay followers, as taught by the Master, is to look after the needs of monks. Hence it is the traditional practice with lay followers in all Buddhist countries, especially those following Theravada Buddhism, to see that monks do not suffer from lack of the four requisites, namely food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. Although in the present age of competitive economy, when life in any field is not so easy, nobody can say in fairness that monk-life in Thailand suffers greatly from shortage of the above four requisites. As Bhikkhus are not allowed to follow any occupational activities, it is clear that they entirely depend on the laity for their existence. In return for this spontaneous support offered them by the public, monks are expected to live exemplary lives for the benefit of themselves as well as of those who look to them as teachers and guides. We have already seen what moral influence monks have upon the people.

Cooperation between the laity and the Bhikkhu Sangha in Thailand is close and spontaneous. To a very great extent this is due to the fact that in an average Thai family some of its members are certain to be found who have for some time served in the Sangha. To the masses yellow robes are symbol of the Master, and Bhikkhus are upholders of the Dhamma, to be deferred to in all circumstances. It is interesting to note that Bhikkhus or Samaneras found guilty of committing crimes are formally divested of their yellow robes before legal action is taken against them by the State, and this is done invariably under permission of the chief monk or the abbot.

“To do good” (kusala kamma) is a cardinal point in the teachings of Buddhism. Consequently the idea of performing meritorious deeds is very deeply ingrained in the minds of Buddhists. Ways of doing good or making merit (puñña) among the Thai Buddhists are numerous. A man gains merit each time he gives alms to monks or contributes to any religious rituals. To get ordination into monkhood even for a short period, of course, brings much merit. Besides, there are other ways of merit-earning, such as releasing caged birds or freeing caught fishes, plastering gold leaf on Buddha statues or religious monuments, contributing to the construction of a new temple or the repair of an old one, etc. “The Law of Karma” that each action has its corresponding result and the belief in rebirth are two important factors in molding such attitude towards life among the Buddhists. Though Nibbana (Sanskrit: Nirvana), the highest bliss in Buddhism, is aspired to by all good Buddhists, the vast majority of them still think it is not so easy to reach and that they will be reborn again in this world, in heaven or some other world, or — at the very worst — in hell. Hence, as long as they live they must try to do good in order to ensure good results in this very life as well as in the life to come. “Be a light unto yourself. Each man must strive for his own salvation” — these were the Master’s words. In view of this, Theravada Buddhism is often said to have individualistic temper. Nevertheless, it is very tolerant, as the long history of its existence will prove. Indeed, the characteristic tolerance of Buddhism, for instance in Thailand, has always permitted the absorption of many beliefs and practices from other sources which have often served to supplement or expand its concepts or to fill gaps. Animism and Brahmanism may be cited in this connection; the two being important supplements of popular Buddhism in Thailand. A foreign writer has rightly observed that the attitude of the Thai masses towards their religion is of an easy-going nature. They do not bother to distinguish among the various components of their religion; for them it is all of a piece. Only the sophisticated few are concerned with doctrinal logic and purity. Of course, they too know much about its legends, its festivals, its ideals, and its general message that “good will render good.” On the whole it can be said that the Thais enjoy their religion. Religious observances are to them as social and recreational as sacred occasions. And for the vast majority, Buddhism suffices in that it enables them to feel and believe and enjoy.

Buddhist Organizations and the Revival of Buddhism

Organizations among the lay Buddhists of Thailand are recent establishments. Prominent and oldest among them is perhaps the Buddhist Association of Thailand, under Royal Patronage, which now is about 30 years old, having been established in 1933. Having its head office in Bangkok, it maintains branch organizations in almost all major districts of Thailand. Its membership is open to both sexes, irrespective of class, creed, and color. The aim and object of the Buddhist Association of Thailand is to promote the study and practice of Buddhism and to propagate its message in and outside Thailand. Besides arranging regular lectures and discussions on topics concerning the Dhamma, the Association also publishes a monthly journal in the Thai language on the teachings of the Buddha.

Another organization is the Young Buddhists Association which came into being at the close of the Second World War. As its name implies, the Young Buddhists Association takes care of the interest of the young in matters concerning Buddhism. Its primary object is to encourage the young to imbibe the tenets of Buddhism and to live a virtuous life. Chief among its activities are arranging regular lectures and discussions on the Dhamma, issuing publications on subjects dealing with Buddhism in general, and sponsoring meetings of the young on the platform of Buddhism. The Young Buddhists Association also has branches in the districts.

As said earlier the end of the Second World War saw a great revival of interest in Buddhism throughout the world. Even in countries like Thailand where the Doctrine of the Awakened One has been traditionally accepted for generations, people seem to be increasingly eager to know more about the Dhamma. Strange as it may seem, this is partly due to the interest the Occidental World has taken in Buddhism. In times past religion has been more or less regarded in Thailand as “solace of the old.” But with the impact of the West in most matters and with the general interest shown towards Buddhism by Western intelligentsia, the Buddhists of Thailand, especially the younger generations who came into contact with the West, began to evince an inquisitive attitude towards their religion — a heritage which they have all along accepted as their own but which they have cared little to know about its true value. This is no attempt to belittle the exceedingly great importance the Thais attach to their religion. But human nature being what it is, the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” is in most cases not very far wrong. In the Thai language also we have a proverb “klai kleua kin dang” which may be rendered in English as “to have the folly to resort to alkali when one is in possession of salt.”

Having taken root on the soil of Thailand for centuries Buddhism has naturally attracted many appendages to its fold, some of which are not quite in conformity with the teachings of the Master as contained in the Canon (Tipitaka). Many leaders of Buddhistic thought in Thailand have, therefore, come forward to try to purify the Dhamma of the many impurities that have crept into it. Notable among the reformatory groups are the Dhammadana Association in Jaiya, South Thailand, under the leadership of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, and the Buddha Nigama of Chiengmai (North Thailand) started by Paññananda Bhikkhu. The two organizations are showing good efforts in the field of awakening the Buddhists of Thailand to the pristine teachings of the Buddha as treasured in the Pali Tipitaka. The mission is admittedly a difficult one but already a promising start has been made in this direction. Much will also no doubt depend on how things transpire in other spheres of human activities, chiefly economic, social and political. The present is an age of conflict — conflict between mind and body, between spirit and matter. Man must find harmony between the two if peace be his aim in life. And to this task of finding harmony within man Buddhism could contribute in no small measure.


1. The History of Buddhist Thought, by E.J. Thomas.

2. The Discovery of India, by Jawaharlal Nehru, Chapter V (XVI).

3. The counting of the Buddhist Councils (Sangayana or Sangiti) differs in the several Theravada countries. In Ceylon, the above-mentioned Council is numbered as the fifth; and in Burma, its place is taken by the Council of Mandalay (1871), while the last Council in Rangoon (1954-1956) is counted as the sixth. [BPS Editor.]

4. See The Wheel No. 83/84: With Robes and Bowl: Glimpses of the Thudong Bhikkhu Life, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo.

The Buddhist Publication Society is an approved charity dedicated to making known the Teaching of the Buddha, which has a vital message for people of all creeds.

Founded in 1958, the BPS has published a wide variety of books and booklets covering a great range of topics. Its publications include accurate annotated translations of the Buddha’s discourses, standard reference works, as well as original contemporary expositions of Buddhist thought and practice. These works present Buddhism as it truly is — a dynamic force which has influenced receptive minds for the past 2500 years and is still as relevant today as it was when it first arose.

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4-12-2007-Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-Vote for BSP in Elephant Symbol-But, the Bahujan Samaj Party, which was aspiring to cash in on its successes in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has fielded 572 candidates and confident of winning 500 seats -DMs directed to implement drinking water schemes for rural areas immediately
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Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay

Vote for BSP in Elephant Symbol

DMs directed to implement drinking water schemes for rural areas immediately

Lucknow : September 26, 2007 The Uttar Pradesh Government has issued necessary guidelines for the installation of 225 hand pumps each at the sites selected by the Members of Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad. In all, 450 hand pumps would be installed at different selected rural areas of the State during the year 2007-08 under the rural drinking water supply scheme. According to the guidelines issued by the Government of India regarding the installation of hand pumps, the same had to be installed at the un-served bastis. The U.P. Chief Minister, Km. Mayawati is committed to ensure drinking water supply in the rural areas facing problem of potable water. The Government wants to provide quality drinking water supply to all the people of the State. Therefore, the U.P. Government has directed all the divisional commissioners, DMs and CDOs to ensure effective action regarding the installation of the hand pumps as per the G.O. issued today in this regard. ******

Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

3 monks killed in Myanmar crackdown

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: Three Buddhist monks were killed on Wednesday in an attack by security forces on protesters in Yangon, Myanmar, according to the dissident National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB).

The three were beaten up near the iconic Shwedagon pagoda during a clash between the country’s junta and the protesting monks.

It was a day of dramatic defiance by the newly formed All-Burma Monks Alliance and its supporters from all walks of life even as the military regime braced for a crackdown.

By nightfall, another two monks were reported killed in clashes with security forces in Yangon.

But dissidents in exile in Thailand could not confirm this.

The dissidents, as also some Yangon residents, however, confirmed that gunshots were fired by some military personnel. The protesters were also teargassed once.

NCUB spokesman Soe Aung told The Hindu over telephone from Bangkok that on Wednesday too, students and activists belonging to Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy joined the monks in the protest marches.

NCUB general secretary Maung Maung told The Hindu over telephone from the Thailand-Myanmar border that 40 monks, 20 nuns and 20 students were taken to “a police quarantine.”

India’s interests at stake in Myanmar

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi expresses concern and urges regime to be more inclusive and broad based

Developments could upset security calculations in northeast

Bilateral, multilateral negotiations could take a back seat

NEW DELHI: India has expressed concern over the developments in Myanmar and urged its government to be more inclusive and broad based. “India is concerned at and is closely monitoring the Myanmar situation. It is our hope that all sides will resolve their issues peacefully through dialogue. India has always believed that Myanmar’s process of political reform and national reconciliation should be more inclusive and broad-based,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said.

The developments in Myanmar have the potential to upset India’s security calculations in the northeast, besides delaying its attempt to find a firmer foothold in the hydrocarbon sector. Other initiatives that could take a back seat if the situation worsens are a breakthrough in getting an alternate terrestrial route to the northeast via Myanmar and bilateral and multilateral negotiations to promote greater economic cooperation.

The uncertainty in getting offshore exploration blocks ended last week with the signing of production sharing contracts for three deep-water exploration blocks. In addition, India is part of a consortium looking for gas in two more blocks. More business would depend on India engaging more intimately with the current regime, including a second line of credit of $ 20 million to refurbish a refinery.

India bettered its earlier offer to develop the Shitwe port after Myanmar objected to its original plan to develop and update the port facilities. Approved by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the new offer to build the port and hand it over immediately to Yangon was seen as more acceptable to the ruling regime.

“The major shift in the paradigm of the project,” as a highly placed source put it, would have enabled India to build a waterway and a road linking it to Mizoram.

India is engaged with Myanmar on stepping up trade through more land routes as part of its Look-East policy. Mr. Mukherjee is keen that the northeast States are benefited in the process. With the Myanmar government facing a crisis, it would be challenging for it to take a bold decision at this juncture of permitting another country transit facilities, the sources said.

India has invested heavily in shoring up the ruling regime’s military arsenal, though western countries claimed that these could be used for quelling internal unrest. In turn, it has managed to receive support from Myanmar in curbing anti-India militant activity on its territory.

Independents a cause for concern for all mainstream parties

But, the Bahujan Samaj Party, which was aspiring to cash in on its successes in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has fielded 572 candidates and confident of winning 500 seats


Bangalore: Independents numbering 4,618 are likely to determine the outcome of the elections, playing spoilsport to the ambitions of the candidates from the mainstream political parties in the elections to the urban local bodies scheduled to be held for Friday.

In what is looked upon by the State Election Commission as a mini-general election, 18,195 candidates are in the fray for the 4,920 wards in the 209 local bodies, including seven municipal corporations. Of this, there are 4,618 independents followed by Congress with 4,535 candidates, the Janata Dal (Secular) fielding 4,073 candidates and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 4,640 candidates in the fray. The independents and others had made a big show in the last elections held in 2001 winning 1,146 wards tilting the balance of power of one or the other mainstream parties. With their huge number this time also, the independents may play a significant role as king makers, if they repeat their performance in the polls.

Interestingly, the Janata Dal (United), which had a strong presence with 457 members out of 4,938 wards in the elections held in 2001 seemed to be satisfied in fielding less than 100 candidates this time. This may be due to the truncated numbers among its MLAs because of switch over of loyalty by a few of them. The party has fielded 91 candidates. But, the Bahujan Samaj Party, which was aspiring to cash in on its successes in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has fielded 572 candidates and confident of winning 500 seats and the Samajwadi Party headed by the former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa is contesting in 402 wards.

In the last elections, the Congress, despite facing incumbency, won 2,322 wards followed by the BJP with 562 and Janata Dal (Secular) winning 415 seats. Of the eight municipal corporations, seven are going to polls barring Bangalore. Already 85 candidates (22 from the Congress, three from the Janata Dal (Secular) and 43 independents) have won unanimously.

Only one nomination had been received for the ward No.14 in Honnavar Town Panchayat, but even that has been rejected. Only one candidate, who had filed his nomination papers to the 5th ward in the Bhatkal Town Municipal Council had been withdrawn. Because of this reason, no election will be held for these two wards, now. Owing to the merger of areas coming under the seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council around Bangalore in the Bangalore Urban District forming the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the number of wards in the district had come down to 150 from 305. The election to the BBMP was not being held awaiting the judgment from the Karnataka High Court.

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3-12-2007-The Awakened One-Buddha-Teacher of the Devas
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The Awakened One


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Life of the Buddha in pictures

Plate1aa.jpg (3208 bytes) 1. The Birth of the Bodhisatta.
On a full-moon day in the month of May (Visakha) 2600 years ….
Plate2aa.jpg (3117 bytes) 2. Life as a Prince.
Manifold was the variety of all the sensuous delights within the palace, ….
Plate3aa.jpg (2840 bytes) 3. The realities of life.
All King Suddhodana’s efforts to protect his son from the four  …
Plate4aa.jpg (2447 bytes) 4. The Great going forth.
On the day of the Esala full-moon (July) the Crown Prince receives…
Plate5aa.jpg (2746 bytes) 5. Experiment with Asceticism.
For six long years the ascetic Gotama, as Prince Siddhattha was now known, …
Plate6aa.jpg (2902 bytes) 6. Enlightenment.
Discarding both extremes of luxurious living and self mortification ….
Plate7aa.jpg (2840 bytes) 7. The First Discourse.
Having realized the Four Noble Truths - the Noble Truth of Suffering; the Cause of Suffering …
Plate8aa.jpg (2815 bytes) 8. Go now and wander for the welfare of the many.
The Buddha stays on at Isipatana for the rainy season…
9. The law of Causation or Dependent Arising.
After His Enlightenment under the Bodhi-tree at Buddhagaya, the Buddha reflects…
Plate10aa.jpg (2897 bytes) 10. The Philosophy of change.
The Buddha teaches that all conditioned things are in a state of flux or change, and thus …
Plate11aa.jpg (2983 bytes) 11. Unsatisfactoriness of Life.
According to the Buddha, whatever is impermanent is subject to suffering,…
Plate12aa.jpg (2739 bytes) 12. Buddha teaches that all Phenomena is soulless.
When a thing is impermanent, as all...
Plate13aa.jpg (2917 bytes) 13. Freedom of thought.
At times referred to as the Buddha’s Charter of Free inquiry this discourse …
Plate14aa.jpg (2666 bytes) 14. Towards human dignity.
Sunita was a scavenger born into a so called outcaste community.  ….
Plate15aa.jpg (2635 bytes) 15. Equality of women.
It was the Buddha who first gave women her rightful place in a society which had earlier …
Plate16aa.jpg (2895 bytes) 16. Human freedom.
In the time of the Buddha it was common for both men and women to enter into services …
Plate17aa.jpg (2537 bytes) 17. Ministering to the sick.
In spite of the fact that the study and practice of medicine and surgical science has …
Plate18aa.jpg (2599 bytes) 18. Psychic Therapy.
The Buddha speaking on the mind, has also spoken on mental disorders …
Plate19aa.jpg (2761 bytes) 19. Compassion to Animals.
In the Buddha’s time there were various animal sacrifices taking …
Plate20aa.jpg (2982 bytes) 20. Buddhist Economic System.
Many who are not familiar with the Buddha’s Teaching classify it as a religion for the next ..
Plate21aa.jpg (2879 bytes) 21. Buddhist Education.
It is a method of teaching that is based on the mental development of the …
Plate22aa.jpg (3090 bytes) 22. Administration of Justice.
Certain statutes regarding the administration of justice, were ….
Plate23aa.jpg (2831 bytes) 23. World Peace.
In the Buddha’s Teaching the highest emphasis is laid on the …
Plate24aa.jpg (3018 bytes) 24. The Maha Parinibbana.
The Buddha was born as a prince under a tree, gained Supreme ..

Teacher of the Devas

Susan Elbaum Jootla

To My Teachers
My Parents, and
My Husband


I. [go up]

In the canonical formula for contemplation of the Buddha, nine epithets of the Awakened One are mentioned. One of these, likely to be overlooked, is sattha devamanussanam, “teacher of gods and humans.” The present essay focuses on one aspect of this epithet: the Buddha’s role as teacher of the devas or gods. In the pages to follow we will carefully consider the instructions and techniques he used when teaching beings of divine stature. If we study these teachings we will gain deeper understanding of how we should purify our own minds, and by studying the responses of the gods we can find models for our own behavior in relation to the Master and his teaching.

Many religious leaders consider themselves prophets whose authority stems from an Almighty God, but as our epithet implies, the Buddha’s relationship to divinity was very different. He instructed deities, as well as humans, on how to end all suffering (dukkha) by eradicating ignorance and other unwholesome states. The gods came to the Buddha to request instruction and clarification, to support his Sasana or Dispensation, to praise his incomparable qualities, and to pay homage at his feet. Devas and brahmas are often mentioned throughout the Pali canon. They regularly manifest themselves on the human plane and participate in many episodes of the Buddha’s career. Some of these higher beings are foolish, some exceedingly wise; some are barely distinguishable from well-off people, others are extremely powerful, long-lived, and magnificent. The multiple connections between the Buddha and beings of the higher planes can inspire meditators to develop the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the end of suffering.

This essay will explore: (1) the Buddha’s direct instructions to devas and how they can help human meditators practice the Dhamma; (2) how devas, out of gratitude and faith, honor the Buddha and support his Dispensation; and (3) the process of attaining liberation for devas, brahmas, and humans.

The Buddhist universe consists of thirty-one planes of existence (see chart below). Every being lives on one or another of these planes. After death all beings, except the arahants, will be reborn in a realm and under circumstances that accords with their kamma — their volitional actions of body, speech, and mind made in that existence or in any previous one. We will often refer to this chart to indicate where, in the cosmic hierarchy, the deities we meet come from.

Thirty-one Planes of Existence

  • Four planes of the Immaterial Brahma Realm:
    • (31) Plane of Neither Perception-nor-non-Perception
    • (30) Plane of Nothingness
    • (29) Plane of Infinite Consciousness
    • (28) Plane of Infinite Space
  • Sixteen planes of the Fine Material Brahma Realm:
    • 7 Fourth Jhana Planes:
      • 5 Pure Abodes:
        • (27) Highest (Akanittha)
        • (26) Clear Sighted (Sudassi)
        • (25) Beautiful (Sudassa)
        • (24) Serene (Atappa)
        • (23) Durable (Aviha)
      • (22) Non-percipient, matter only, no mind
      • (21) Great Fruit
    • 3 Third Jhana Planes:
      • (20) Third Jhana, highest degree
      • (19) Third Jhana, medium degree
      • (18) Third Jhana, minor degree
    • 3 Second Jhana Planes:
      • (17) Second Jhana, highest degree (Abhassara)
      • (16) Second Jhana, medium degree
      • (15) Second Jhana, minor degree
    • 3 First Jhana Planes:
      • (14) First Jhana, Maha Brahmas
      • (13) First Jhana, Brahma’s ministers
      • (12) First Jhana, Brahma’s retinue
  • Eleven planes of the Sensuous Realm :
    • Seven Happy Sensuous Planes:
      • Six Deva planes:
        • (11) Control others’ creations
        • (10) Rejoice in their own creations
        • (9) Tusita — Delightful Plane
        • (8) Yama
        • (7) Realm of the Thirty-three
        • (6) Catummaharajika — 4 Great Kings
      • (5) Human Beings
    • Four Lower Realms of Woe:
      • (4) Ghosts
      • (3) Asuras
      • (2) Animal realm
      • (1) Hell realms

The lowest area (planes 1-11) is called the sensuous realm; here sense experience predominates. Next comes the fine-material realm (12-27) attained by practicing the fine-material absorptions (rupa-jhanas). Above that is the immaterial realm (28-31) attained by practicing the immaterial absorptions (arupa-jhanas).

Although humans appear to be rather low on the scale, many intelligent deities long for rebirth on the human plane. Why? Because the best opportunity to practice the Dhamma and attain liberation is right here on earth. On the lower four planes, little progress can be made as suffering is gross and unrelenting and the opportunity to perform deeds of merit is rarely gained. The very bliss of the higher planes beclouds the universal characteristics of all phenomena: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and the lack of any lasting, controlling self. And without fully comprehending these principles, there is no motivation to develop the detachment from the world that is essential to liberation.

Before examining the chart in detail, a few notes on terminology are in order. We will use the word “deva” to include deva, devata, and devaputta referred to in the Suttas, as all three terms are almost synonymous. Although “deva” is often used in the Pali texts to refer to all super-human beings, “deva” and “brahma” can generally be distinguished. “Deva” in its more limited sense refers to beings in the six planes immediately above the human one (6-11), the sensuous heavens. When “deva” refers specifically to these sense-sphere beings, the term “brahma” is used for those residing in the fine-material planes (12-27) and immaterial planes (28-31). If in a particular discourse “deva” is used for a being who clearly fits into the category of brahmas (as sometimes happens), we will call him a brahma; if the deva is actually a sense-sphere being (or if his identity is unclear) we will retain “deva.” For variety, we occasionally use “deity” and “god” as translations for deva in all its senses.

Let us now study some features of the chart. The lower beings and humans do not have fixed lifespans, but higher beings do. As you go up the chart from the sixth plane to the thirty-first, each successive group of deities lives longer than the group below it. The lifespans of devas are measured in multiple centuries. The duration of a brahma’s existence can only be expressed in aeons. The Buddha defines these extremely long periods of time by analogy. An aeon is the length of time it would take to wear away a mountain of solid rock six miles high and six miles wide, rubbing over it with a fine piece of muslin once every hundred years. The highest brahmas of the immaterial sphere live for 84,000 aeons.

All beings — human, sub-human, devas, and brahmas — die. All except arahants are reborn in one or another of the thirty-one planes. No being lasts forever. Arahants have eradicated all mental defilements and have thereby eliminated the causes for rebirth with its attendant suffering. They are not reborn after death. Instead, they attain Parinibbana, the complete, permanent cessation of every form of existence. For all non-arahants, death is immediately followed by rebirth. The plane of birth is determined by the kamma that becomes operative at the moment of death. This could be any volition created in the present life or in any previous existence. Even the three lower kinds of noble ones (ariya) must be reborn. They have effaced some of the mental defilements, are assured of eventually attaining Nibbana, and will never again be reborn in the lower planes. Noble ones of the two lower kinds — stream-enterers and once-returners — can be reborn in the deva planes. For anyone who is not an ariya — and this includes most devas and brahmas — the destination of rebirth is uncertain. It may be on the same plane or on a higher one; but most often it is on a lower plane. Rebirth is neither arbitrary nor controlled by a God. It takes place strictly due to kamma, the deeds we have performed and continue to perform all our lives. Brahmas too die and are reborn, and also suffer, even though their lives are so extremely long that they may be deluded into believing they are permanent.1

The devas of the sensuous sphere are said to enjoy sense pleasures in far greater abundance than can be found in the human world. Their bodies emit light and they have subtle sense organs, similar to ours but far more powerful and acute. That is why the supernormal powers of seeing various realms and hearing at great distances are referred to as deva vision and deva hearing. On the deva planes there are stream-enterers and once-returners. For example, Sakka, king of the gods in the heaven of the Thirty-three, became a stream-enterer while discussing the Dhamma with the Buddha, as we will see below.2 However, only few among the devas have any understanding of the Dhamma. In fact, all that is needed to be reborn in these heavens is the meritorious kamma of generosity and good morality. Mental development through meditation is not a prerequisite for rebirth on the higher sensuous planes.

The fine-material brahmas have extremely subtle bodies of light; their powers are great but not unlimited. A being is reborn among these brahmas by cultivating the appropriate jhana, perfecting it, and retaining it at the moment of death. Jhanas are states of deep concentration that can be attained by unifying the mind through meditation. They are all wholesome states of a very lofty and sublime nature. But one can get “stuck internally” in any of the jhanas and thereby block one’s progress towards awakening.3 There are four fine-material jhanas. The beings in the brahma planes spend most of their time enjoying their respective jhanas. Brahmas experience no ill will or hatred, but only because they have suppressed it by their jhana, not because they have uprooted it from their mental continuum. Thus when a brahma is eventually reborn as a deva or human being he or she can again be beset by hatred. (After one birth as a deva or human, a former brahma can even fall to one of the lower planes of the grossest suffering.) The brahmas also are prone to conceit and belief in a permanent self, as well as to attachment to the bliss of meditation. Fine-material brahmas can interact with the human plane if they so choose, but to appear to humans they must, like the devas, deliberately assume a grosser form.4 Later we will meet a number of brahmas who converse with the Buddha.

The immaterial brahmas of the four highest planes have no material bodies whatsoever. They consist entirely of mind. They attained this kind of birth by achieving and maintaining the immaterial jhanas, four kinds of absorption taking non-material objects, and it is this kamma that became operative at their death. These brahmas can have no contact with the human or deva planes, for they have no physical bodies; thus we will rarely mention them. They spend countless aeons in the perfect equanimity of meditation until their lifespan ends. Then they are reborn in the same plane, a higher immaterial plane, or as devas. After that they too can be reborn on any plane at all. So even existence without a body is not the way to permanently eliminate suffering.

Only practicing the Noble Eightfold Path can bring suffering to an end. In fact, immaterial brahmas are in the unfortunate position of being unable to start on the path. This is because one has to learn the Dhamma from the Buddha or one of his disciples to attain the first stage of awakening, to become a stream-enterer. That is why the sage Asita, called by the Buddha’s father to examine the newborn Bodhisatta, wept after predicting that Prince Siddhattha would become a Buddha. The sage knew he was going to die before the prince attained Buddhahood. He had cultivated these immaterial absorptions so he would have to be reborn in the immaterial realm and would thereby lose all contact with the human plane. This meant he would not be able to escape samsara under Gotama Buddha. He was sorely distressed to realize that he would miss this rare opportunity to gain deliverance and would have to remain in the round of rebirth until another Buddha appears in the remote future. He could see into the future and thus understood the precious opportunity a Buddha offers, but he could neither postpone his death nor avoid rebirth into the immaterial realm.

II. [go up]
The Buddha Teaches Deities

The Buddha teaches deities when they visit the human plane where he normally resides,5 and sometimes too by visiting them on the higher planes. On some occasions devas and brahmas come to the Buddha for clarification of Dhamma problems. On other occasions the Buddha becomes aware, through his supernormal knowledge, that a god needs some instruction to correct a wrong view or to goad him further on the path to awakening. Then the Buddha travels to the higher plane and gives the deity a personal discourse.

Once a brahman admirer of the Buddha recounted as best as he could evidence of the greatness of the Buddha. He was trying to convince other brahmans to meet the Buddha. His proof included the fact that “many thousands of deities have gone for refuge for life to the recluse Gotama” (MN 95.9). Devas, like humans, develop faith in the Buddha by practicing his teachings. In Chapter III we will see how grateful devas express this confidence. When devas come to visit the Buddha late at night, their luminous bodies light up the monastery as they pay respects to the Exalted One and ask their questions.

We will start with a god who was agitated by fear arisen from his sensual desire, and conclude with one who becomes a stream-enterer during his conversation with the Buddha.

Devas Come to the Buddha for Help

Subrahma deva

Subrahma deva was not a very sophisticated god; he delighted in sensuality, like many other devas of the sensuous sphere. He had been playing in sport with his thousand nymphs when half of them suddenly vanished. Subrahma used his deva vision to find where they had gone and he saw that they had died and been reborn in a hell realm. Anxious that he and his remaining nymphs might soon suffer the same fate, he came to the Buddha looking for a way to end his fear:

“Always frightened is this mind,
The mind is always agitated
About problems not yet arisen
And about those that have appeared.
If there exists release from fear,
Being asked, please explain it to me.”

The Buddha does not offer simplistic short-term solutions to the suffering beings go through when their loved ones die; he did not console the deva. Instead, he told Subrahma that only by developing wholesome mental states through meditation and by giving up all attachments can anyone find security:

“Not apart from enlightenment and austerity,
Not apart from sense restraint,
Not apart from relinquishing all,
Do I see any safety for living beings.” (KS I, 77; SN 2:17)

The deva and his remaining nymphs apparently comprehended these words, as the commentary says that at the end of this discourse they all became stream-enterers.

How to escape suffering

One deva who came to visit the Buddha seemed to be already trying to practice the Dhamma, for he was concerned about how beings can eliminate their internal and external bondage:

“A tangle inside, a tangle outside,
This generation is entangled in a tangle.
I ask you this, O Gotama,
Who can disentangle this tangle?”

The Buddha replied that to untie these knots of misery one must cultivate morality, mindfulness, concentration, and insight. He added that the arahants are indeed freed from the twists and bonds of rebirth:

“A man who is wise, established on virtue,
Developing the mind and wisdom,
A bhikkhu who is ardent and discerning:
He can disentangle this tangle.

Those in whom lust and hatred too
Along with ignorance have been expunged,
The arahants with taints destroyed:
For them the tangle is disentangled.” (KS I, 20; SN 1:23)

A second deva concerned with liberation spoke a verse which is partly praise of the Buddha and partly a request for teaching. Using various similes from the animal world, this god showed his admiration and reverence for the Exalted One. In the last line, with all humility, he posed the question that the Buddha’s teachings are designed to answer:

“Having approached you, we ask a question
Of the slender hero with antelope-calves,
Greedless, subsisting on little food,
Wandering alone like a lion,
An elephant indifferent to sensual pleasures:6
How is one released from suffering?”

The Buddha treated this deva’s serious query directly and with a minimum of words. He replied that the way out of suffering is to cultivate detachment from the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind:

“There are five sensual cords in the world,
Mind is declared to be the sixth.
Having made desire fade out here,
It is thus one is released from suffering.” (KS I, 25; SN 1:30)

These two gods apparently had already prepared themselves for the Dhamma and did not need the kind of graduated discourse usually given to human beings, which begins with the benefits of generosity and ethics. We can contemplate and practice the Buddha’s advice to the deities to cultivate the detachment and insight that lead to liberation.

Friendship with the good

Once a group of six devas came to visit the Buddha at Savatthi, while he was residing in Jetavana, the monastery offered by Anathapindika. The first deva spoke the following verse:

“One should associate only with the good,
With the good one should foster intimacy.
Having learned the true Dhamma of the good,
One becomes better, never worse.” (KS I, 27; SN 1:31)

The other five concurred and spoke verses that differed only in their point of emphasis. One said association with the good brings wisdom, another that friends dry our tears, another that wise friendship brings one a good reputation, another that it leads to a happy rebirth. The last stated that a good friend is a source of bliss. The Buddha approved their verses and then added one of his own:

“One should associate only with the good,
With the good one should foster intimacy.
Having learned the true Dhamma of the good,
One is released from all suffering.”

Maha-mangala Sutta

The popular Maha-mangala Sutta — the Great Discourse on Blessings — originated when a radiant deva approached the Blessed One at Jetavana and respectfully requested a teaching on the highest good: “Many gods and men, wishing for well-being, have pondered over those things that constitute blessings. Tell us what is the highest blessing (mangalam uttamam).” When gods cannot concur among themselves they go to the Fully Self-Awakened One, “the light of the triple world,” the source of all wisdom. The Buddha enumerated thirty-eight “blessings,” among them: rebirth in a good location, supporting one’s parents, avoiding intoxicants, hearing the Dhamma, and knowing the Four Noble Truths (Sn vv. 258-69). This sutta to a deva is one of the select number of parittas, suttas recited for protection from harm, and is popular among Buddhists even to this day.

A discouraged meditator

A deva named Kamada had been trying to follow the Buddha’s teachings but found the task too demanding. He sounds depressed, as we human meditators feel when we cannot see any “progress” in our practice and lose sight of the long-term perspective. Discouraged, Kamada complained to the Buddha about how difficult it is to practice the Dhamma.

The Buddha took a positive approach. He did not coddle or comfort the deva, but praised those bhikkhus who leave the household life to work steadfastly towards the goal:

“They do even what is difficult to do,
(O Kamada,” said the Blessed One),
“The trainees who are composed in virtue,
Steadfast are they in their hearts.
For one who has entered the homeless life
There comes contentment that brings happiness.”

Kamada remained disconsolate, insisting on the difficulties: “It is hard to win this serene contentment, Blessed One.” The Buddha repeated that some beings do it, those “who love to achieve the mastery of the heart, whose minds both day and night, love to meditate.” Meditation on the universal characteristics of change, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self is the way to ultimate contentment because it leads to detachment from all worldly concerns. Kamada, however, complained that it is hard to compose the mind. The Buddha agreed the task is not easy, but added: “Yet that which is hard to compose, they do compose it” and, calming their restless minds, they attain the stages of awakening.

“The path is impassable and uneven, Blessed One,” the deva complained. He seems to crave some magic to make everything easy. But that is not how the Buddhas teach: they only show the way, and we ourselves must put forth the energy to walk on. Liberation takes consistent, persistent, diligent effort. To Kamada, not yet a noble one, training the mind seemed to be an endless task:

“Though the path is impassable and uneven,
The noble ones walk along it, Kamada.
The ignoble fall down head first,
Straight down on the uneven path;
But the path of the noble ones is even,
For the noble are even amidst the uneven.” (KS I, 68-69; SN 2:6)

Would an arahant say “I” or “mine”?

Other devas had more sophisticated queries. One deva, for example, asked the Buddha if an arahant could use words that refer to a self:

“Consummate with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say ‘I speak’?
And would he say ‘They speak to me’?”

This deva realized that arahantship means the end of rebirth and suffering by uprooting mental defilements; he knew that arahants have no belief in any self or soul. But he was puzzled to hear monks reputed to be arahants continuing to use such self-referential expressions.

The Buddha replied that an arahant might say “I” always aware of the merely pragmatic value of common terms:

“Skillful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.”

The deva, trying to grasp the Buddha’s meaning, asked whether an arahant would use such expressions because he is still prone to conceit. The Buddha made it clear that the arahant has no delusions about his true nature. He has uprooted all notions of self and removed all traces of pride and conceit:

“No knots exist for one with conceit cast off;
For him all knots of conceit are consumed.
When the wise one has transcended the conceived
He might still say ‘I speak,’
And he might say ‘They speak to me.’
Skillful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.” (KS I, 21-22; SN 1:25)

Crossing the flood

Once late at night a deva came into the Buddha’s presence, shedding bright light over the whole of Jetavana. He saluted the Lord, stood to one side, and asked: “How, dear sir, did you cross the flood?” This god knew that the Buddha had gone beyond samsara’s deluge of misery and wanted to learn how he had achieved this.

The Buddha replied: “By not standing still, friend, and by not struggling I crossed the flood.” The deva, perplexed by this paradox, asked for clarification. To clear up the analogy, the Exalted One told him: “When I came to a standstill, friend, then I sank; but when I struggled, then I got swept away. It is in this way, friend, that by not standing still and by not struggling I crossed the flood.” The metaphor describes balanced effort. He “sank” when he did not work hard enough, but if he strained too hard he became agitated and got “swept away.” When he discerned how to cross over with just the right balance between energy and calm, he transcended the flood of suffering fully and permanently. This deva rejoiced that at long last he had met a real arahant, a true holy man:

“After a long time at last I see
A brahman who is fully quenched,
Who by not standing still, not struggling,
Has crossed attachment to the world.” (KS I, 2; SN 1:1)

The delighted deva had correctly perceived what set the Buddha apart from others: he had transcended death, rebirth, and all suffering by eliminating all the mental impurities. The deva began with a modicum of faith in the Buddha and received personal instruction from him. As a result, the commentary indicates, he became a stream-enterer. After the Buddha approved the deva’s verse, he paid respects and departed.


On a similar occasion a deva asked the Buddha to explain the causes of the downfall, or moral decline, of beings. In reply, the Buddha first gave a summary: “He who loves Dhamma progresses, he who hates it declines.” Then he named ten specific dangers to avoid: (1) the company and teachings of the vicious, (2) excessive sleep and talk, (3) being irritable, (4) not supporting aged parents if one has the resources to do so, (5) lying to a monk or Dhamma teacher, (6) being stingy, (7) being conceited about birth, wealth, or community, (8) running around with many women, (9) drinking, gambling, and adultery, and (10) marrying a woman many years younger than oneself.

The Buddha concluded, “Reflecting thoroughly on those causes of downfall in the world, the wise one, endowed with insight, enjoys bliss in a happy state.” Meditation on this negative subject makes wisdom grow, through avoidance, while encouraging insight and bringing pure happiness (Sn vv. 91-115).

Sakka’s questions

Sakka, king of the devas in the heaven of the Thirty-three, played many roles in the Buddha’s mission. He attended on the Bodhisatta at his final birth and at the Great Renunciation, visited the Buddha under the Bodhi Tree, and several times proclaimed his confidence in his unique qualities. A discourse called Sakka’s Questions (DN 21) took place after he had been a serious disciple of the Buddha for some time. The sutta records a long audience he had with the Blessed One which culminated in his attainment of stream-entry. Their conversation is an excellent example of the Buddha as “teacher of devas,” and shows all beings how to work for Nibbana. For these reasons we will study Sakka’s Questions in depth to see what message it has for us today.7

From his vantage point in the Tavatimsa plane, Sakka was a keen observer of the behavior of humans and other beings. He saw that while beings would like to live with each other peacefully, they rarely succeed. Thus his opening question to the Buddha attempted to unravel this contradiction:

“By what fetters, sir, are beings bound — gods, humans, asuras, nagas, gandhabbas, and whatever other kinds there may be — whereby, although they wish to live without hate, harming, hostility or malignity, and in peace, they yet live in hate, harming one another, hostile and malign?”

The Buddha explained that two mental factors — jealousy and avarice — cause all this trouble; from these two qualities almost all the aggression in the world arises. In this way the Buddha began a step-by-step lesson in Buddhist psychology: causes and conditions govern everything that happens in the universe. Sakka next asked about the origin of jealousy and avarice. Behind jealousy and avarice, the Buddha said, lie liking and disliking, and the source of both liking and disliking is desire.

As this is such a basic problem, Sakka wanted to understand even more deeply the causes of desire. The Buddha told him that desire is triggered by thinking. Although he did not specify what sort of thinking, he must have been referring to unsystematic mental activity, the random thoughts in which the untrained mind indulges. When Sakka asked about the cause of thinking, the Buddha said it is the “tendency to mental proliferation.” This is what brings about random thinking, which leads to desire, which in turn culminates in like and dislike. These in turn condition jealousy and avarice, from which arise the conflicts in our daily lives.

Sakka next shifted to a more directly practical issue: “How does one destroy this sequence that leads to so much misery?” He requested the Buddha to explain what should be done to eliminate this tendency to endless proliferation of mental activity. The Buddha replied that one should not blindly follow after every feeling that arises in the mind. Rather, meditators should pursue a feeling — whether it be a pleasant, painful, or neutral one — only if doing so contributes to the growth of wholesome qualities. If we are alert to our reactions and see that pursuing a feeling strengthens unwholesome tendencies, then we should relinquish that feeling. We will not get carried away by desire for more enjoyable feelings or by aversion towards pain and unhappiness.

Sakka once again was very appreciative of the Buddha’s words and he next asked more specifically about the practice of bhikkhus. The deva knew that monks practice the Dhamma to the highest degree, in the purest form. As a god he could not become a monk, but he wanted to discover how monks acquire the restraint required by the monastic disciplinary code. The Buddha replied that the good bhikkhu pursues only bodily conduct, conversation, and goals which are conducive to the growth of wholesome qualities, to the attainment of Nibbana. He rigorously restrains himself from everything detrimental to these aims.

Sakka had one more question about mind training: “How do bhikkhus control their senses?” Again the Buddha spoke of avoiding whatever leads to evil while cultivating the positive, this time referring to all kinds of objects — forms, sounds, odors, tastes, tactile objects, and ideas. This is a basic Dhamma theme: always avoid unwholesome actions while one works to create wholesome kamma.

Sakka wanted to take full advantage of his lengthy audience with the Blessed One, so he embarked on another series of queries. These deal with the variety of religious teachers he had seen in the world. Even a deva can be confused by the range of doctrines taught by “holy” people. He genuinely sought to learn: (1) if these teachers all taught the same thing, and (2) if they are all liberated. How often do we hear today, “All paths lead to the same goal,” or “All spiritual teachings are the same beneath their superficial differences.” But the Buddha, the Fully Self-Awakened One, replied negatively to both of Sakka’s questions. He explained that spiritual teachers do not all teach the same thing because they have different perceptions of the truth. From this it logically follows that they cannot all be fully liberated.

Proclaiming where true liberation lies, the Buddha instructed Sakka that only those “who are liberated by the destruction of craving are fully proficient, freed from the bonds, perfect in the holy life.” When evaluating spiritual teachers, bear in mind that liberation means destroying desire. Sakka approved of the Buddha’s statement and remarked that passion pulls beings to repeated rebirth in happy or unhappy circumstances.

Sakka was so at ease with his Teacher that he then related a story which shows an unexpected aspect of deity-human relationships. Long ago he had gone to various human ascetics for advice on these matters with utterly unilluminating results. None of the yogis that Sakka had hoped to learn from had told him anything. In fact, as soon as they realized he was the king of the devas, one and all decided to become his disciples. Ironically, Sakka found himself in the awkward position of having to tell them what little Dhamma he understood at the time. They had no teachings to give him.

Sakka had been delighted with this whole conversation. He declared that it had given him a unique happiness and satisfaction “conducive to dispassion, detachment, cessation, peace, higher knowledge, enlightenment, Nibbana.” This was the direction he had longed to travel, literally for ages. He had at last made substantial progress with the guidance of the Blessed One.

Inviting Sakka to delve further into his mental processes, the Buddha then asked him what thoughts contribute to this great satisfaction. In his final reply, Sakka declared he was joyful because he foresaw six facts about his future: (1) As king of the devas he had gained “fresh potency of life.” (2) At the end of this life, he would mindfully choose where to be reborn, in a human or higher realm. (3) In that future life too, he would follow the Buddha-Dhamma with wisdom, clear comprehension, and mindfulness. (4) He might attain arahantship in that existence. (5) But if not, he would become a non-returner (anagami) and, after dying there, be reborn in the highest Pure Abode. (6) Finally Sakka knew that that existence would be his last; before it ended he would become an arahant.8

The king of the devas then spoke a verse in gratitude to the Buddha:

“I’ve seen the Buddha, and my doubts
Are all dispelled, my fears are allayed,
And now to the Enlightened One I pay
Homage due, to him who’s drawn the dart
Of craving, to the Buddha, peerless Lord,
Mighty hero, kinsman of the Sun!”

The sutta then indicates that Sakka gained the stainless “vision of the Dhamma” by which he became a stream-enterer. All his uncertainties about the path to final awakening had been dispelled by the Buddha’s masterly replies to his questions, and his own past merits bore their proper fruit.

There is another discourse with Sakka as questioner (MN 37). It is set later on, at the monastery built by the woman lay devotee Visakha for the Buddha in Savatthi. This time Sakka asked the Buddha: “How in brief is a bhikkhu liberated by the destruction of craving… one who is foremost among gods and humans?”

In reply, the Buddha summarized the sequence that leads a bhikkhu to liberation:

“A bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to. When a bhikkhu has heard that nothing is worth adhering to, he directly knows everything… he fully understands everything… whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he abides contemplating impermanence in those feelings, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. Contemplating thus, he does not cling to anything in the world. When he does not cling he is not agitated… he personally attains Nibbana. He understands ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’”

The cycle of dependent origination (paticca-samuppada) explains that contact leads to feeling which in turn conditions craving, and craving causes clinging, which leads to rebirth and suffering. So by contemplating feeling and by seeing it as impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self, the bhikkhu gives up all craving and clinging. That is Nibbana here and now. Delighted, Sakka paid respects to the Buddha and returned to the Tavatimsa deva plane.

The Buddha Goes to Teach Deities

In several episodes the Buddha travels to higher planes to teach the beings dwelling there. While he generally visited the lower brahma planes for this purpose, his most important course of instruction to the gods took place on the Tavatimsa deva plane (No. 7 on the chart). The Pali commentaries report that during the seventh rains retreat after his Enlightenment, the Buddha spent three months in the Tavatimsa heaven teaching the entire Abhidhamma to his mother along with numerous other devas and brahmas. They had gathered there from the various deva planes of ten thousand world systems in order to listen to his exposition of this extremely precise philosophical psychology.9

Only higher beings could have remained sitting in a single posture this long, and continuity of attention is essential for properly grasping the Abhidhamma. “Infinite and immeasurable was the discourse, which went on ceaselessly for three months with the velocity of a waterfall” (Expos 19). But as the Buddha was a human being, his body required normal food. Thus everyday, in the terrestrial forenoon, he created an image of himself to continue preaching in Tavatimsa, while in his natural body he came to earth to collect almsfood and partake of a meal. Venerable Sariputta met him daily at the Anotatta Lake, and there the Buddha summarized for him what he had taught the deities the previous day. Sariputta gradually passed all this material on to his own group of five hundred bhikkhu pupils, elaborating and organizing it to make it easier to comprehend.

The Buddha gave this profound teaching in a higher plane as it demanded super-human attentiveness. His chief student there was his mother, who had died a few days after his birth and was reborn in the Tusita deva-world. By teaching her the most subtle aspects of the Dhamma, the seven sections of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the Buddha expressed his gratitude to his mother for having carried him in her womb and bringing him into this world.

Maha Brahma

The stories of a Buddha going to teach a brahma take place on the plane of Maha Brahma, the third of the fine-material planes (No. 14). Many people worship Maha Brahma as the supreme and eternal creator God, but for the Buddha he is merely a powerful deity still caught within the cycle of repeated existence. In point of fact, “Maha Brahma” is a role or office filled by different individuals at different periods.

The Buddha has directly seen the origins of Maha Brahma and understands what it requires to be reborn in his world. In the Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1) the Buddha describes how a supposed Creator God came to believe himself omnipotent and how others came to rely on his sovereignty. His description was based, not on speculation or hearsay, but on his own direct knowledge. The Buddha explains that when our world system disintegrates, as it regularly does after extremely long periods of time, the lower sixteen planes are all destroyed. Beings disappear from all planes below the seventeenth, the plane of the Abhassara gods. Whatever beings cannot be born on the seventeenth or a higher brahma plane then must take birth on the lower planes in other remote world systems.

Eventually the world starts to re-form. Then a solitary being passes away from the Abhassara plane and takes rebirth on the plane of Maha Brahma. A palace created by his kamma awaits him there: “There he dwells, mind-made, feeding on rapture, self-luminous, moving through the air, abiding in glory. And he continues thus for a long, long time.” After ages pass, he becomes lonely and longs for other beings to join him. It just so happens that shortly after the brahma starts craving for company, other beings from the Abhassara plane, who have exhausted their lifespans there, pass away and are reborn in the palace of Brahma, in companionship with him.

Because these beings seemed to arise in accordance with the first brahma’s wish, he becomes convinced that he is the almighty God: “I am the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher… the Lord, the Maker and Creator, the Supreme Being.” The other brahmas, seeing that he was already present when they took birth in his world, accept his claim and revere him as their creator.

Eventually this misconception of a Creator God spreads to the human plane. One of the other brahmas passes away and is reborn here. He develops concentration and learns to recollect his previous life with Maha Brahma, but none of his lives before that. Recollecting that existence he recalls that Maha Brahma was considered the “father of all that are and are to be… permanent, stable, eternal.” As he is unable to remember further back, he believes this to be absolute truth and propounds a theistic doctrine of an omnipotent Creator God (Net 69-70, 155-66).

The Venerable Ledi Sayadaw, a highly renowned Myanmar scholar-monk of the first part of this century, gave a careful analysis of the powers of Maha Brahma in his Niyama Dipani (MB pp. 138-39). He states that although Maha Brahma can perform all sorts of transformations, he cannot actually create independent creatures, change the kammic law of cause and effect, or keep anyone from growing old or dying. Brahma can use his special powers to transport a man to the brahma plane for a short visit, but he cannot ensure that someone will be reborn there.

Sikhin Buddha and Abhibhu

This story of a former Buddha’s encounter with brahmas was recounted by Gotama Buddha to his disciples as follows. Buddha Sikhin took his chief disciple, Abhibhu, along on a visit to a brahma world where he told him to give a discourse to the brahma, his ministers, and his retinue.10 Venerable Abhibhu then “instructed, enlightened, incited, and inspired” the audience with a talk on Dhamma. But the great brahma and his cohorts did not appreciate what they heard. Instead of paying careful heed to the chief disciple’s words, they felt insulted that a disciple should preach in the presence of the Master. In their pride, they considered themselves worthy of the direct attention of the Buddha himself. Sikhin of course knew the brahmas’ unwholesome thoughts. Without addressing them directly, he urged Abhibhu to continue and “agitate them exceedingly” in order to force them to acknowledge that they were not all-powerful, permanent, or superior to this arahant.

Abhibhu followed his master’s instructions by working supernormal feats while continuing his discourse. Only rarely does a Buddha himself perform supernormal acts or permit one of his disciples to do so in the human plane. But in a brahma world, where deeds that seem impossible to us are the norm, these tactics are appropriate. At times Abhibhu made his body invisible while speaking to the brahmas, at times half visible, at times fully visible. This masterful performance did humble those brahmas. They became more receptive, and realizing the monk was no ordinary human being, they exclaimed, “This is a marvellous thing: the great magic power and might of the recluse!”

Abhibhu then remarked to the Lord that while speaking in a normal voice in the Brahma world, he could make the beings in the surrounding thousand realms hear what he said. The Buddha, deeming this relevant to the occasion, urged him to show his prowess. By projecting and broadcasting his speech, the disciple strove further to stimulate a sense of urgency in the brahmas so they would realize the need to stop the cycle of birth and death. Although the lives of brahmas are full of the bliss of jhana, they remain subject to continual subtle change, to death and rebirth, and to suffering. Abhibhu declaimed:

“Arouse your energy, strive on!
Exert yourself in the Buddha’s Teaching.
Sweep away the army of Death
As an elephant does a hut of reeds.

One who dwells diligently
In this Dhamma and Discipline
Will abandon the wandering on in birth
And make an end to suffering.”

Then Buddha Sikhin and his chief disciple left that brahma realm. They had done everything they could to make the brahmas see their own limitations and encourage them to practice the Dhamma (KS I, 194-96; SN 6:14).

Baka Brahma

A brahma known as Baka once reflected privately that he and his plane of existence were everlasting. He thought that there could be no higher plane of rebirth and was convinced he had overcome suffering. The Buddha discerned his deep-seated wrong view and decided to pay him a visit. When he appeared in that brahma world, Baka Brahma welcomed him formally but immediately announced:

“Now, good sir, this is permanent, this is everlasting, this is eternal, this is total, this is not subject to pass away; for this neither is born nor ages nor dies nor passes away nor reappears, and beyond this there is no escape.” (MN 49)

The Buddha, however, contradicted him, pointing out that every one of his claims was wrong. Just then Mara the Evil One joined the conversation. Mara’s task is to prevent beings from being won over to the Dhamma, to keep them trapped in the cycle of birth and death, his own personal domain.11

Taking possession of one of the brahma’s attendants, Mara urged the Buddha, with a display of sympathy, to accept this brahma as God, the creator of all beings. He told the Buddha that recluses of the past who delighted in things of this life and “who lauded Brahma” won happy births afterwards, while those who rejected Brahma had to endure terrible punishment. The Exalted One let him have his say and then called his number:

“I know you, Evil One. Do not think: ‘He does not know me.’ You are Mara, Evil One, and the Brahma and his assembly and the members of the assembly have all fallen into your hands, they have all fallen into your power. You, Evil One, think: ‘This one too has fallen into my hands, he too has fallen into my power’; but I have not fallen into your hands, Evil One, I have not fallen into your power.”

All beings subject to craving — humans, subhumans, devas, or brahmas — are said to be in Mara’s power because they can all be moved by defilements and must drift along in the current of birth and death. But the Buddha and the arahants have permanently and completely escaped Mara’s ken and power, for they have eliminated all defilements. They have exhausted the fuel of rebirth and thus have vanquished the Lord of Death.

Baka Brahma next speaks up on his own behalf. He reminds the Buddha of his opening statement on permanence. He warns him that it is futile to seek “an escape beyond” his own realm, then he cajoles and threatens him in the same breath: “If you will hold to earth… beings… gods… you will be close to me, within my domain, for me to work my will upon and punish.” The Buddha agrees that if he clung to earth (or any other aspect of existence) he would remain under the control of Maha Brahma (and Mara too), but he adds: “I understand your reach and your sway to extend thus: Baka the Brahma has this much power, this much might, this much influence.” The Buddha points out that beyond the thousandfold world system over which Baka reigns there are planes of existence of which he is totally unaware, and beyond all conditioned phenomena there is a reality that transcends even “the allness of the all” — a consciousness without manifestation, boundless, luminous on all sides — to which Baka has no access. Demonstrating his superiority in knowledge and power, the Buddha uses his psychic powers to humble Baka and his entire assembly. By the end of the discourse, these once haughty beings marvel at the might of the recluse Gotama: “Though living in a generation that delights in being… he has extirpated being together with its root.”12

A brahma with wrong view

Once an unnamed brahma gave rise to the deluded thought, “No recluse is powerful enough to reach my realm.” The Buddha read his mind and proved him wrong by simply appearing before him and sitting at ease in the air above his head, while radiating flames from his body in a dramatic display of supernormal powers. Four great arahant disciples — Mahamoggallana, Kassapa, Kappina, and Anuruddha — independently realized what had happened and decided to join their Master on this brahma plane. Each disciple sat in the air respectfully below the Buddha — but above the brahma — in one of the cardinal directions, shedding fire around himself.

A short dialogue in verse took place between Mahamoggallana, the Buddha’s second chief disciple, and the brahma:

“Today, friend, do you still hold that view,
The same view that you formerly held?
Do you see a radiance
Surpassing that in the Brahma-world?”

“I no longer hold that view, dear sir,
(I reject) the view I formerly held.
Indeed I see a radiance
Surpassing that in the Brahma-world?”
Today how could I assert the view
That I am permanent and eternal?”

According to the commentary to this story, the brahma gave up his belief in his own superiority when he observed the magnificence of the Buddha and the arahants. When the Buddha preached the Dhamma to him, he was established in the fruit of stream-entry and stopped thinking of himself as permanent. When this brahma saw his own impermanence clearly and distinctly for himself, his former tenacious opinion that his world and life were immortal was uprooted. Many aeons of preparation, the brahma’s quick intellect, the Buddha’s perfect timing, and the support of the four arahants bore fruit in the deity becoming a stream-enterer.

After the Buddha and his arahants left and returned to Jetavana, the great brahma wanted to learn more about the powers of bhikkhus. He sent a member of his retinue to ask Mahamoggallana whether there are even more bhikkhus who can perform such feats. Moggallana replied:

“Many are the disciples of the Buddha
Who are arahants with taints destroyed,
Triple knowledge bearers with spiritual powers,
Skilled in the course of others’ minds.” (KS I, 182-84; SN 6:5)

Not only do large numbers of bhikkhus have such special powers and the ability to know other people’s minds, but there are numerous fully purified arahant disciples of the Buddha as well. The emissary was glad to hear this answer, as was the brahma when he received the report.

Maha Brahma knows his own limits

Once a bhikkhu with psychic powers visited the various celestial realms seeking an answer to the question, “Where do the great elements — earth, water, fire, and air — cease without remainder?” An exhaustive inquiry led him from one realm to the next, until he finally came to Maha Brahma. The first three times the monk asked his question, Brahma replied evasively: “Monk, I am Brahma, Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-seeing.” Exasperated, the bhikkhu demanded a decent reply, “Friend, I did not ask if you are Brahma… I asked you where the four great elements cease without remainder.”

At this point Maha Brahma took the monk by the arm, led him aside, and told him, “The brahmas of my entourage believe there is nothing Maha Brahma does not see, there is nothing he does not know, there is nothing he is unaware of. That is why I did not speak in front of them.” Admitting his ignorance, he advised the monk to return to his Master, the Awakened One, who rephrased the question and gave the appropriate answer.

In this discourse we have more evidence that a Buddha is far beyond Maha Brahma in power, teaching skill, and understanding, and much of the proof is volunteered by the Great Brahma himself (DN 11.67-85).

Devas Learn as the Buddha Teaches Humans

We have observed devas and brahmas approach the Buddha and ask him questions and we have followed the Buddha on his journeys to fine-material planes to uproot the delusions of brahmas. The Buddha also instructs gods indirectly, when they overhear him teaching humans. In such situations, devas with the requisite supporting conditions from previous lives can attain awakening along with the human auditors. A number of suttas conclude with a statement that the discourse was applauded by many devas and brahmas who attained one or more of the stages of awakening while listening in. One example is a discourse the Buddha gave to his son Rahula.

The Buddha had been instructing Rahula gradually from the time he was ordained as a novice at seven years of age. The training became more profound as he grew in years and powers of discretion. By the time Rahula was twenty-one, the Buddha decided it was time to lead him towards arahantship. So one day, after the Blessed One had finished his meal, he told the young monk to come along with him to the Blind Men’s Grove near Savatthi for the afternoon. Rahula agreed and followed. But they were not alone, for the text tells us that “many thousands of deities followed the Blessed One, thinking: ‘Today the Blessed One will lead the Venerable Rahula further to the destruction of the taints.’” The commentary says that these gods had been companions of Rahula’s during a previous life in which he first made the aspiration to attain arahantship as the son of a Buddha.

The Buddha sat down at the root of a tree and Rahula also took a seat. The Buddha asked Rahula if each sense organ, each sense object, each kind of sense consciousness, and each kind of contact is permanent or impermanent. Rahula stated that they are all impermanent. We can deduce that the devas, invisibly present, were listening and simultaneously meditating on the appropriate answers. The Buddha asked: “Is what is impermanent pleasant or suffering?” Rahula acknowledged that anything that is impermanent must be unsatisfactory or suffering. Then the Teacher queried: “Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?” “No” came the reply. The invisible audience too must have drawn the same conclusion.

Next the Buddha asked Rahula if the feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness that arise through the contact of the six sense organs with their objects are permanent or not. These are the four mental aggregates that — along with material form — constitute a being. Rahula again said that they are impermanent. He must have deduced that since the contact between the sense organs and their objects changes every instant, the aggregates that derive from them must also be transitory. And again he recognized that whatever is impermanent is unsatisfactory. He also understood that it is untenable to consider anything impermanent and unsatisfactory as “I, mine, or myself,” as the concept of control is at the heart of our ideas of “I” and “mine.”

The Buddha then concluded that once one understands these facts fully, and sees how all these things are causally connected, one becomes disenchanted with all conditioned things:

“Being disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion [his mind] is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘It is liberated.’ He understands: ‘Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of being.’”

That is, he attains full awakening, arahantship, and is no longer subject to rebirth. As Rahula listened to his father’s words, his mind was released from the taints through non-clinging. By fully penetrating the discourse he had become an arahant, fully liberated from suffering.

All the deva and brahma spectators listening to the discourse attained the paths and fruits: “And in those many thousands of deities there arose the spotless immaculate vision of the Dhamma: ‘All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation.’” Some of them, according to the commentary, became stream-enterers, some once-returners, some non-returners, and some arahants. This variety was due to the differences in their prior preparation and present effort at the time of the sutta. Even though this discourse was geared to a young monk, while the Buddha spoke higher beings developed their own insight through hearing it and purified their minds (MN 147; also at SN iv, 105-107).

III. [go up]
Devas and Brahmas Honor the Buddha

Everyone who has even glimpsed the magnificence of the Dhamma feels tremendous esteem for the Buddha. Deities realize that he had dedicated innumerable lifetimes to perfecting himself so that he could teach others the way beyond suffering. Because of their devotion to the Exalted One, devas gratefully come down to the human plane — though the earth is said to be repulsive to their refined senses13 — to express their homage and affirm their devotion to the Supreme Teacher. This is the reciprocal aspect of the Buddha as “teacher of devas”: his deva and brahma disciples acknowledge their debt to their incomparable master. They venerate him for his extraordinary purity and unique capacity to train others. These Dhamma beneficiaries from the higher planes rejoice and offer profound homage to the Buddha because they see, over a broader temporal range than is perceptible to ordinary humans, how he offers beings the way out of the misery of samsara.

We will look at several examples of how the gods paid respect to the Buddha, finishing with the Great Occasion. Not only do these incidents help illuminate the relationship between gods and the Buddha, but they can also serve as sustenance for our own Buddhanussati, meditation on the qualities of the Buddha. This kind of contemplation creates wholesome kamma by increasing our confidence in the Teacher and prepares the mind for deeper concentration and insight.

Sakka’s praises reported by Pañcasikha

Once Pañcasikha, a celestial musician, messenger, and attendant on the deva planes, appeared before the Buddha. He reported that Sakka, king of the gods of the Thirty-three, especially honored the following qualities of the Buddha and his teaching:

1. The Lord has striven out of compassion for beings, like no other teacher they can find.

2. The doctrine he teaches is “well proclaimed by the Blessed One, visible here and now, immediately effective, inviting inspection, onward leading, to be experienced by the wise for themselves.”

3. He distinguishes and proclaims what is good and what is bad.

4. He explains the path to Nibbana.

5. He has taught beings to become learners (i.e., stream-enterers, once-returners, and non-returners) and arahants.

6. Gifts to the Buddha are well-given (because they bear great fruit) and are accepted by him without any conceit.

7. He practices what he teaches and teaches what he practices. There are absolutely no contradictions between his verbal and physical actions.

8. The Lord has gone beyond all doubt and accomplished his aim in regard to the goal and the supreme holy life.

Pañcasikha reported that when Sakka had said all this, the gods of the realm of the Thirty-three were delighted. Sakka then concluded by telling them to cultivate the wish: “May this Blessed Lord continue to live long… free from sickness…” as that would benefit devas and humans (DN 19.1-14). What Sakka recommends is a simple form of meditation on universal love. His audience must have been a group with mixed potential for Dhamma comprehension and he showed them a simple way to create wholesome mental kamma. Since they all agreed that the Buddha was a very great being, they were happy to listen to his praises from Sakka. This induced them to wish him good health so that he could teach more beings the way to Nibbana.

Brahma Sanankumara

Sakka is often shown leading his fellow devas in some Dhamma activity. Here he praises human beings who became noble ones and took rebirth on the plane of the Thirty-three, where they outshine the other gods in fame and splendor:

“The gods of the Thirty-three rejoice, their leader too,
Praising the Tathagata, and Dhamma’s truth,
Seeing new-come devas, fair and glorious
Who’ve lived the holy life, now well reborn.
Outshining all the rest in fame and splendor,
The mighty Sage’s pupils singled out.
Seeing this the Thirty-three rejoice, their leader too,
Praising the Tathagata, and Dhamma’s truths.” (DN 18.13)

For Sakka and his cohorts, the great renown and beauty of the new devas confirm the value of the Buddha’s teachings. They are glad and therefore honor the Buddha and the Dhamma.

This verse comes at the beginning of a complex sutta which makes a number of interesting points about gods. Ven. Ananda had asked the Buddha where many deceased disciples of the Magadha area had been reborn. Before answering, the Buddha directed his mind to find their plane of rebirth. While he was investigating in this way, a deva came to him and announced that he was the former King Bimbisara, a stream-enterer. As a man, he had been a devoted lay disciple for many years and had now been reborn among the Four Great Kings (plane No.6). This deva related to the Buddha a long incident from the past that began with Sakka’s remarks about newly arrived devas. The episode provided the answer to Ananda’s original question.

After Sakka finished speaking, the gods noticed that an unusually brilliant light shone on the assembly. Then its source, Brahma Sanankumara, approached the gathering. The former Bimbisara explained that whenever a brahma descends to a deva plane he assumes a grosser form “because his natural appearance is not such as to be perceptible to their eyes.” Brahma Sanankumara then gave the devas a Dhamma talk in which he surveyed the central teachings of the Buddha. He began by praising the Blessed One’s compassion:

“Since the Lord, out of compassion for the world and for the benefit and happiness of the many, has acted to the advantage of devas and mankind, those… who have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha and have observed the moral precepts have, at death… arisen in the company of… devas.”

Sanankumara concluded his discourse with words of great homage for the Buddha and the Dhamma. He said that if one were to praise the Dhamma as well proclaimed, etc., and then to add “Open are the doors of the Deathless!” one would be speaking in accordance with the highest truth (DN 18.27).

In the final portion of Brahma Sanankumara’s speech, he numbered the stream-enterers and once-returners who had recently been born in the deva planes. But he did not venture to comment on the number of worldlings who had acquired merit:

“But of that other race indeed
Of those who partake of merit,
My mind can make no reckoning,
For fear that I should speak untruth.”

Sanankumara appears in several other suttas, where he always reveres the Buddha and the noble Sangha. One of his stanzas, in which he extols the Buddha, is quoted several times in the Pali canon:14

“The noble clan is held to be
The best of people as to lineage;
But best of gods and humans is one
Perfect in true knowledge and conduct.” (MN 53.25)

Bahiya Daruciriya

In the next story a brahma intervenes to help a human being receive the Dhamma. Bahiya Daruciriya was a non-Buddhist ascetic. The brahma, a non-returner (anagami) from the Pure Abodes,15 had been one of Bahiya’s companions at the time of the previous Buddha Kassapa,16 when they were members of a group of monks who had made a determined effort to win arahantship. Bahiya had then failed in the attempt and was now reborn at the time of Gotama Buddha.

Bahiya had lived as a recluse for many years and he was respected by the multitude as a saint, even to such a degree that Bahiya himself almost came to believe this. But one day, out of compassion for him, his old friend in the Pure Abodes appeared to him in a visible body and shocked him out of his complacency: “You, Bahiya, are neither an arahant nor have you entered the path to arahantship. You do not follow the practice whereby you could be an arahant or enter the path to arahantship.”

This had the desired effect, and Bahiya begged his benefactor, “Then, in the world including the devas, who are arahants or have entered the path to arahantship?” His desire for release from the world was so sincere that he had the humility to admit his limitations and ask for a teacher to show him the true path to holiness.

The brahma replied that a Buddha had arisen in the world and was living at Savatthi: “There the Lord now lives who is the arahant, the Fully Enlightened One. That Lord, Bahiya, is indeed an arahant and he teaches the Dhamma for the realization of arahantship.” As a non-returner since the time of the previous Buddha, the brahma knew precisely what Bahiya needed and he spoke the succinct truth about Buddha Gotama and his teaching. Thanks to the intervention and the guidance of his lofty benefactor, Bahiya Daruciriya was directed to the Blessed One, whose brief and cryptic discourse had such a powerful impact that Bahiya achieved arahantship right on the spot (Ud 1.10, pp.18-19). After his death, the Buddha declared Bahiya the foremost bhikkhu with respect to quickness of understanding.

A goddess honors the Buddha

Once a devata, a goddess named Kokanada, visited the Blessed One at Vesali and recited verses in his praise:

“I worship the Buddha, the best of beings,
Dwelling in the woods at Vesali
Kokanada I am —
Kokanada the daughter of Pajjunna.

Earlier I had only heard that the Dhamma
Has been realized by the One with Vision;
But now I know it as a witness
While the Sage, the Sublime One teaches.

Those ignorant folk who go about
Criticizing the noble Dhamma
Go to the terrible Roruva hell
And experience suffering for a long time.

But those who in the noble Dhamma
Are endowed with acceptance and inner peace,
When they discard the human body,
Will fill up the heavenly hosts of devas.” (KS I,40-41; SN 11:39)

Although this was apparently her first direct encounter with the Buddha, Kokanada understood a great deal about kamma and rebirth. She saw that people are reborn in lower realms (including hell) because they lack insight and disparage the Dhamma. She also perceived that humans can attain deva or brahma births by discerning the Four Noble Truths: suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to its cessation. Her knowledge of Dhamma does not seem to go beyond this.

The Maha-samaya Sutta

The Maha-samaya Sutta, or Discourse on the Great Assembly,17 is the most stunning illustration of higher beings coming to the human plane expressly to pay respects to the Buddha along with the arahants. This “mighty gathering” took place when the Lord returned to the land of his ancestors, near Kapilavatthu. Five hundred recently ordained bhikkhus, from the Sakyan and Koliyan clans, came to him to declare their attainment of arahantship. Devas from many thousands of world systems approached to observe the occasion.

Four brahmas from the Pure Abodes, noticing that most of the other devas had gathered in the Great Wood to see the Buddha and arahants, decided to visit too. So they assumed grosser form, appeared before the Buddha, saluted him, and stood respectfully to one side. The first one announced why they had come:

“Great is the assembly in the forest here, the devas have met
And we are here to see the unconquered Sangha.”

Although “Sangha” can refer either to the community of monks or to all noble disciples, the adjective “unconquered” implies that the brahmas were admiring the arahant monks led by the Buddha.

The second brahma said:

“The monks with concentrated minds are straight:
They guard their senses as the driver does his reins.”

The third used more similes to describe the achievement of arahants:

“Bars and barriers broken, the threshold-stone of lust torn up,
Unstained the spotless seers go, like well-trained elephants.”

The last one spoke these lines:

“Who takes refuge in the Buddha, no downward path will go:
Having left the body he’ll join the deva hosts.” (DN 20.3)

This brahma knew that anyone who has genuine faith in the Buddha will not create kamma that could lead to a lower plane of existence. That is how taking refuge in the Buddha assures us of a deva birth, not some magical power of his.

The Buddha then told the monks that devas and brahmas from the surrounding world systems come frequently to see the Tathagata and the Sangha. It is not Gotama the Sakyan prince that they honor, but Gotama the Buddha and the community of noble ones. The Buddha indicates that this is a general rule. Wise deities used to come to pay obeisance to past Buddhas and will do the same for future ones too.

Then, so the monks could learn their identities, the Buddha announced the names of the groups of devas and brahmas as they presented themselves before him. The list included earth-bound devas, the Four Great Kings with their retinues, asuras, Sakka, residents of the Tusita and Yama planes, occupants of the sun and moon, denizens of the two highest deva planes, and Maha Brahma “shining bright with all his train.” The Buddha related that the devas were saying:

“He who’s transcended birth, he for whom
No obstacle remains, who’s crossed the flood,
Him cankerless, we’ll see, the Mighty One,
Traversing free without transgression, as
It were the moon that passes through clouds.” (DN 20.19)

This discourse illustrates another aspect of the relationship between the Buddha, the Supreme Teacher, and heavenly beings. Some of them only yearn for an audience so they can express their confidence in him, acclaiming him in public.

IV. [go up]
The Role of Devas in the Buddha’s Career

At pivotal moments in the Buddha’s career, deities often played supporting roles. We read of devas showing respect at these turning points, helping him to overcome obstacles, and frequently proclaiming his feats far and wide.

The Bodhisatta’s last birth

At the moment of the Bodhisatta’s final conception the gods rejoiced. They knew that such a special being was arising after the long “darkness of ignorance” that set in when the Buddha Kassapa’s Dispensation disappeared. After having perfected all the paramis, every Bodhisatta is born on the Tusita deva plane (No. 9) in his next to last existence. There he waits until all the requisite conditions on earth are ripe for the rekindling of the Dhamma. Then the Bodhisatta passes away and enters his mother’s womb, and after ten months he is born. The attainment of Buddhahood requires a human existence with its characteristic combination of suffering and pleasure.

From the Venerable Ananda, the Buddha’s personal attendant, we learn about “the Tathagata’s wonderful and marvellous qualities,” which he himself had heard directly from the Buddha:

“Mindful and fully aware… the Bodhisatta appeared in the Tusita deva plane… Mindful and fully aware the Bodhisatta remained in the Tusita deva plane… for the whole of his lifespan… When the Bodhisatta passed away from the Tusita deva plane and descended into his mother’s womb, then a great immeasurable light surpassing the splendor of the gods appeared in the world with its gods, its Maras and its Brahmas, in this generation with its recluses and brahmans, with its princes and its people… When the Bodhisatta had descended into his mother’s womb, four young deities came to guard him at the four quarters so that no humans or non-humans or anyone at all could harm the Bodhisatta or his mother.” (MN 123.7-8)

The conception of a Buddha-to-be in his final body causes unusual physical phenomena in various realms. In fact, certain natural laws govern the major events in the careers of all Buddhas, past, present, and future: “It is the rule, monks, that when a Bodhisatta descends from Tusita into his mother’s womb,” such a light appears and all these special phenomena occur (DN 14.1.17). The devas protect the Bodhisatta’s foetus inside his mother so he can grow perfectly. They shelter the mother so she is at peace, free from sensual desire, and relaxed, enabling the baby to develop in ideal conditions.

The description of his final birth in this discourse shows how important the devas are to this unique baby. Queen Mahamaya gave birth standing under a tree in the woods near the village of Lumbini:

“When the bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, first the gods received him, then human beings… He did not touch the earth. The four young gods [the Four Great Kings of plane No. 6] received him and set him before his mother saying: ‘Rejoice, O queen, a son of great power has been born to you.’… Then a great immeasurable light surpassing the splendor of the gods appeared in the world… And this ten-thousandfold world system shook and quaked and trembled, and there too a great immeasurable light surpassing the splendor of the gods appeared.” (MN 123.17-21)

The recluse Asita, who was associated with the court of the Bodhisatta’s father, witnessed these heavenly celebrations. Asita was visiting the deva worlds at the time so he asked them, “Why are you all so happy and joyful?… I’ve never seen such excitement as this.” The devas explained to him:

“In a village called Lumbini, in the Sakyan country… a bodhisatta has been born! A being set on Buddhahood has been born, a superlative being without comparison, a precious pearl of the health and goodness of the human world. That’s why we’re so glad, so excited, so pleased. Of all beings this one is perfect, this man is the pinnacle, the ultimate, the hero of beings! This is the man who, from the forest of the Masters, will set the wheel of Teaching turning — the roar of the lion, King of Beasts!” (Sn vv. 679-84)

Some of these devas were probably ariyas themselves, and others would have been aware of the infant’s future destiny. They rejoiced that the way to the end of suffering would soon be expounded, and Asita, stirred by their revelation, went to see the new-born child with his own eyes.

Period of renunciation and asceticism

After living a refined life as a prince for many years, the Bodhisatta gradually became dissatisfied with this tedious round of hollow sense pleasures. His paramis, built up for aeons, came to the fore, ripe for the attainment of Buddhahood. He knew he had to find the way to release from suffering, so on the very night his wife gave birth to their only child he renounced the home life to become a recluse. Over the next six years he mastered the stages of concentration under various gurus and tormented his flesh with the most severe ascetic practices. Deities observed his progress from the deva planes and occasionally intervened. For example, when the Bodhisatta considered abstaining from all food, deities came and offered to infuse heavenly food through the pores of his skin, but the Bodhisatta refused:

“Deities came to me and said: ‘Good sir, do not practice entirely cutting off food. If you do so, we shall infuse heavenly food into the pores of your skin and you will live on that.’ I considered, ‘If I claim to be completely fasting while these deities infuse heavenly food… and I live on that, then I shall be lying.’ So I dismissed those deities saying, ‘There is no need.’” (MN 36.27)

The gods, observing the Great Being, would not let him kill himself through voluntary starvation, but he on his part would not allow himself to speak untruth even by implication; thus he would not accept their offer. Although the Bodhisatta undertook long grueling fasts, he still did not come any closer to what he really sought: the way to uproot all the causes of suffering and so end rebirth once and for all.

Under the Bodhi Tree

After the Bodhisatta spent six years pursuing ascetic practices to their limit, he finally set out alone to discover another method to fulfill his aim. He had realized that self-torture was not the solution, so he started to consume normal food again. He walked to the place now known as Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India. There he began to meditate under a tree, using a method he recalled from a spontaneous childhood experience of meditation. He was determined either to attain full liberation then and there or else to die in the attempt.

According to tradition, as the Bodhisatta struggled against Mara beneath the Bodhi Tree, when Mara challenged his right to attain awakening, he asked the earth to witness how he had perfected himself for so long to reach Buddhahood. Many devas and brahmas joined the battle, vouching for his completed paramis. Thereupon Mara, along with his evil troops, was routed and fled the scene. This “calling the earth to witness” is memorialized in innumerable paintings and statues: the Bodhisatta, seated cross-legged in meditation posture, touches the ground by his knee with his right hand, a gesture intended to draw forth its testimony.

In the eighth week following the awakening, while the newly enlightened Buddha was still near the Bodhi Tree, he hesitated to teach the Dhamma, apprehensive that it would be too profound for human comprehension. Brahma Sahampati then became aware of what was going on in the Buddha’s mind. This brahma, according to the commentaries, had become a non-returner under a previous Buddha and resided in one of the Pure Abodes. Distressed at the Buddha’s hesitancy, he thought: “The world will be lost, utterly perish since the mind of the Tathagata, Arahant, Supreme Buddha inclines to inaction and not towards preaching the Dhamma!” So he appeared before the Buddha, respectfully stooped with his right knee to the ground, paid homage and appealed to him to teach:

“Let the Exalted One preach the Dhamma! There are beings with little dust in their eyes; they are wasting from not hearing the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.” (MN 26.20)

The Buddha then gazed out upon the world with his “eye of a Buddha,” and having seen that there are beings “with little dust in their eyes” who would be capable of understanding the truth, he announced, “Open for them are the doors to the Deathless” — a gift that has come down to us through the centuries. Brahma Sahampati was gratified and joyously thought, “Now I am one who has given an opening for the Buddha to teach the Dhamma to beings.” The Brahma then bowed to the Buddha and vanished.18

One might wonder why the Buddha, who had prepared himself for numerous lifetimes just to teach the Dhamma to other beings, needed the prompting of Brahma Sahampati to set out on his mission. The commentary offers two explanations: (1) only after he had attained Buddhahood could the Buddha fully comprehend the actual scope of the defilements saturating the minds of beings and the profundity of the Dhamma; and (2) he wanted a brahma to request him to teach so the numerous followers of Maha Brahma would be inclined to listen to the Dhamma.

Turning the Wheel of the Dhamma

Now that he was committed to transmit the Dhamma, the Lord had to find his first students. He determined that the five ascetics who had assisted him in his struggle for the last few years would be the appropriate auditors. Aware that the group was staying at Isipatana, a royal deer reserve not far from Varanasi, he made his way there in stages. When the ascetics first caught sight of him in the distance, they decided not to greet him, for they believed he had reverted to a comfortable life and had abandoned the search for truth. However, as the Buddha approached, his unique demeanour dispelled this assumption and they listened keenly when he spoke. He taught them the Middle Way between the extremes of asceticism and immersion in sense pleasures, the path which he himself had followed when he abandoned futile austerities. The Buddha next explained the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. While he spoke devas and brahmas paid close attention, and at the conclusion they sounded their applause upwards from the lowest plane of the earth-bound devas, through each of the six sense-sphere deva planes, even up through the Brahma-world:

“The matchless Wheel of Dhamma, which cannot be stopped by any recluse, brahman, deva, Mara, brahma, or by anyone in the world, has been set in motion by the Blessed One in the Deer Park at Isipatana near Varanasi.” (KS V, 360; SN 56:11; also Vin. I,10)

Under the impact of this momentous event, the entire ten-thousandfold world system shook and reverberated, and a brilliant light appeared, far superior to that of all the devas and brahmas, matched only by wisdom illuminating the Truth. The gods were messengers conveying this wonderful news throughout the universe.

When the Buddha was ill

Devas came to the Buddha several times when he was physically unwell. Once the renegade monk Devadatta, who wanted to take over the Sangha by force, hurled a massive boulder at the Buddha. The stone splintered before it hit the Lord, but a small fragment lodged in his foot, causing severe pain. So for some time, the Buddha lay down “mindful and discerning,” observing the painful sensations (KS I, 38-40; SN 1:38). Then a large group of devas came to see the Teacher, anxious for his welfare. Impressed by the perfect equanimity he displayed despite the wound, they spoke in turn, praising him as a bull elephant, a lion, a thoroughbred, a bull, an ox, for his ability to patiently endure painful bodily feelings — “racking, sharp, piercing, harrowing, disagreeable” — mindful and clearly comprehending, without becoming distressed.

A few months before the Parinibbana, the Buddha spent the rains retreat near Vesali, where he suffered from dysentery. According to the Dhammapada Commentary (to vv. 206-8) Sakka, king of the devas, found out the Blessed One was ill and came to nurse him. The Buddha told him not to bother as there were many monks to handle this task, but Sakka stayed on and looked after the Buddha’s physical needs until he had recovered. Some monks were surprised to see the great deva doing such menial chores. The Buddha explained to them that Sakka was so devoted to the Tathagata because he had gained stream-entry by learning the Dhamma from him (see above p.20). The Buddha then pointed out that it is always good to associate with the wise, to be in their presence and learn from the example of their actions as well as from their verbal teachings.

The Parinibbana

Devas and brahmas were active at several phases of the Maha Parinibbana — the Buddha’s final passing away at Kusinara — as recorded in the Maha Parinibbana Suttanta (DN 16). This event was not just the demise of a greatly revered being but it also represented the personal consummation of his teachings. It was the utter, permanent cessation of the aggregates of the one who discovered and taught the way to the end of suffering.

A short while before the Buddha attained final Nibbana, he lay down to rest between two sal-trees. They began flowering profusely, out of season. After some time, the Buddha told the monk who had been fanning him to go away. Then the Venerable Ananda, his devoted attendant, asked him why he had dismissed that monk. The Buddha replied:

“Ananda, the devas from ten world-spheres have gathered to see the Tathagata. For a distance of twelve yojanas around the Mallas’ sal-grove near Kusinara there is not a space you could touch with the point of a hair that is not filled with mighty devas, and they are grumbling, ‘We have come a long way to see the Tathagata. It is rare for a Tathagata, a Fully Enlightened Buddha, to arise in the world, and tonight in the last watch the Tathagata will attain final Nibbana, and this mighty monk is standing in front of the Lord, preventing us from getting a last glimpse of the Tathagata!’” (DN 16.5.5)

The indomitable Ananda, who had permission to ask the Buddha any question, next wanted to know what kinds of devas were around them. The Buddha said he saw lower devas who are “weeping and tearing their hair” in distress, moaning, “All too soon the Blessed Lord is passing away, all too soon the Well-Farer is passing away, all too soon the Eye of the World is disappearing!” But there were devas free from craving who endured this patiently, saying. “All compounded things are impermanent — what is the use of this?” (DN 16.5.6).19

After passing through the successive jhanas, the Buddha finally expired, attaining Parinibbana, the immutable cessation of rebirth. At that moment the earth quaked, as it does whenever Buddhas pass away. Brahma Sahampati, who had entreated the Buddha to teach forty-five years earlier, spoke a verse as a short eulogy:

“All beings in the world, all bodies must break up:
Even the Teacher, peerless in the human world,
The mighty Lord and perfect Buddha has expired.”

Sakka repeated a verse of the Buddha’s on the theme of impermanence.20 While Sahampati used conventional speech adoring the deceased Lord, Sakka spoke in impersonal and universal terms. His verse makes an excellent theme for meditation and is often chanted at Buddhist funerals:

“Impermanent are compounded things, prone to rise and fall,
Having risen, they’re destroyed, their passing is truest bliss.” (DN 16.6.10)

All the “compounded things,” which make up everyone and everything in all the world, come into being and perish. Only when they cease utterly never to rearise (”their passing”) can there be the perfect bliss, Nibbana. These stanzas by the renowned brahma and the king of the devas show how the beings on the higher planes applied their insight into impermanence and suffering, even to the Parinibbana of their Lord and Master.

After they had honored the Buddha’s body for a full week, the Mallas of Kusinara decided it was time for the funeral. They began to prepare for the cremation but could not lift the body and carry it out the southern gate of the city. Puzzled, they asked the Venerable Anuruddha what was wrong. This great elder, renowned for his “divine eye,” told the devotees that the devas had their own ideas of how to arrange the funeral. The deities, he said, planned first to pay “homage to the Lord’s body with heavenly dance and song” and then take it in procession through the city of Kusinara to the cremation site. The devas intended the cremation to be at the Mallas’ shrine known as Makuta-Bandhana. The Mallas were happy to change their plans and proceeded unhindered to arrange the funeral as the devas wished. Out of respect the gods participated in all phases of the funerary proceedings. It is said that “even the sewers and rubbish-heaps of Kusinara were covered knee-high with [celestial] coral tree flowers. And the devas as well as the Mallas… honored the Lord’s body with divine and human dancing and song.”

They transported the body to the Makuta-Bandhana shrine and placed it there. They wrapt it many times in layers of finest cloth, built the pyre of scented wood, and placed the bier bearing the Buddha’s body on top. But when the men tried to light the fire it would not ignite. Again the reason lay with the devas. Anuruddha explained that the devas would not allow the pyre to be lit until the Venerable Maha Kassapa arrived for the cremation. Once Maha Kassapa and his group of bhikkhus had arrived and paid their last respects to the Exalted One’s body, the pyre blazed up spontaneously, burning until almost nothing remained behind. (DN 16.6.22-23)

V. [go up]
Liberation for Humans, Devas, and Brahmas

The encounter with suffering

Human beings, devas, and brahmas are the broad categories of beings in the “happy realms of existence.” The human world is marked by a pervasive admixture of happiness and suffering. This dual nature is the main reason why Buddhas are born here. The uneven quality of human life enables us to realize the unreliable nature of happiness and inspires in us a sense of urgency about the need to win deliverance from suffering.

Unlike the beings in the lower planes, few humans are overwhelmed by unmitigated and excruciating pain. We do, of course, experience physical pain and mental stress, but such experience is generally intermittent. For the most part our suffering is of a more subtle character. We can observe that every pleasure brings along some measure of dissatisfaction. Our contentment is unsteady and secured with difficulty. We must struggle to satisfy our needs and desires, but become anxious the moment we succeed. Even when we are relatively happy we are beset by a deep, subtle kind of suffering. This suffering, which lies below the threshold of painful feeling, stems from the momentary vanishing of all the conditioned formations of body and mind. In spite of our pain, human beings with an inclination for the Dhamma can make the effort to live by the Five Precepts of morality. We can find the energy to train our minds towards the concentration and insight required for awakening.

In contrast, devas see far less of the evident kinds of misery in their daily existence. Some brahmas meet no gross suffering except when they look down at beings on lower planes. Many devas instantly obtain whatever sense object they wish for. Brahmas dwell in sublime bliss and equanimity. In the fine-material and immaterial spheres ill will is suppressed, and without it there is no mental unhappiness.

It is difficult for deities to appreciate that everything changes and to recognize that their present pleasure and bliss do not last forever. Like Baka Brahma, many imagine that they are eternal. The subtler forms of suffering tend to escape them as well. Without help from a Buddha or one of his disciples, they do not understand that the impersonal conditions that will terminate their felicity are already in operation. Many of the higher beings, as we have seen, have no idea that they will die, that their worlds and lives are in flux, that they are not fully in control, but are decaying at every instant. So in spite of their excellent concentration and present opulence, they are even at a disadvantage compared to human beings, who are driven by pain and frustration to seek the path to deliverance.

How then can such beings be induced to meditate? Why should they become concerned with suffering and its cessation? We have indicated the answers to those questions in preceding chapters. This is the job of the Buddha as “teacher of the gods.”

The devas aspire to be human

Some devas long to be reborn as human beings because they are aware of the greater possibility of comprehending impermanence, suffering, and non-self on the human plane. There is no real illness on the deva planes. When a deva faces death, his aura begins to fade and dirt appears on his clothes for the first time. When the gods see these indications of impending death, they tell their friend:

“Go from here, friend, to a good bourn. Having gone to a good bourn, gain that which is good to gain. Having gained that which is good to gain, become firmly established in it.”

The Buddha then explained the devas’ concept of a good birth and of what is “good to gain”:

“It is human existence, bhikkhus, that is reckoned by the devas to be a good bourn. When a human being acquires faith in the Dhamma-Vinaya taught by the Tathagata, this is reckoned by the devas to be a gain that is good to gain. When faith is steadfast in him, firmly rooted, established and strong, not to be destroyed by any recluse or brahman or deva or Mara or brahma or by anyone else in the world, this is reckoned by the devas to be firmly established.”

The last sentence refers to a stream-enterer. Only stream-enterers (and other noble ones) have such steadfast confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. They will definitely attain final awakening and release, and until then will never be reborn on a plane below the human one. To become an ariya is the greatest achievement for any being lost in the round of rebirth. Only by entering the stream to awakening can beings proceed to eliminate all the causes of suffering.

The Buddha explained that the devas view a human existence as an excellent opportunity for growth in morality, giving, faith, and understanding. With compassionate concern for their dying cohort, they say:

“Go, friend, to a good bourn,
To the fellowship of humans.
On becoming human acquire faith
Unsurpassed in the true Dhamma.

That faith made steadfast,
Become rooted and standing firm,
Will be unshakeable for life
In the true Dhamma well proclaimed.

Having abandoned misconduct by body,
Misconduct by speech as well,
Misconduct by mind and whatever else
Is reckoned as a fault,
Having done much that is good
Both by body and by speech,
And done good with a mind
That is boundless and free from clinging,

With that merit as a basis
Made abundant by generosity,
You should establish other people
In the true Dhamma and the holy life.’” (It 83)

The devas urge their friend to become a morally upright human being. He should give up everything unwholesome, be generous, and, once established in faith and meritorious deeds, help spread the Buddha’s message.

Not only do wise gods long for human birth to practice the Dhamma, they also rejoice when they observe people establishing themselves in the way to the cessation of suffering. Such deities are convinced that human beings like these are greater than themselves. In spite of all the magnificent sights, appealing perfumes and tastes, melodious music, and other sensual pleasures they have at their beck and call, these devas understand the unsatisfactory nature of existence sufficiently to value the effort to put an end to samsaric wandering.

In the sutta preceding the one quoted above, the Buddha spoke of “joyous utterances” devas give forth in three situations: (1) when a man is preparing to ordain as a bhikkhu; (2) when a person is “engaged in cultivating the… requisites of enlightenment”;21 and (3) when someone attains the goal, utterly destroying the mental defilements. Whenever devas notice people engaged in the first two deeds, they rejoice saying, “A noble disciple is doing battle with Mara.” When the devas see that someone on the human plane has become fully awakened, they declare: “A noble disciple has won the battle. He was in the forefront of the fight and now dwells victorious.” They commend and extol the arahant in verse (It 82).

Paths to awakening and happy births

The Buddha has explained in many ways that liberation is infinitely more valuable than any state of existence. Even blissful lives in the deva and brahma planes invariably include subtle suffering, end in death, and are followed by uncertain rebirth. In a discourse called “Reappearance according to one’s Aspiration,” he said:

“A bhikkhu possesses faith, virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom. He thinks: ‘Oh, that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might reappear in the company of well-to-do nobles!’ He fixes his mind on that [idea], establishes it, develops it. These aspirations and this abiding of his, thus developed and cultivated, lead to his reappearance there. This, bhikkhus, is the path… that leads to reappearance there.”

The Buddha repeated the same statement in regard to every happy plane as far as the highest realm of existence. The good kamma generated by positive mental qualities, conjoined with the aspiration for a particular birth, can bring about rebirth on that plane. So by cultivating these traits one can be reborn in any of the six deva planes. With the support of the requisite jhana, one can take birth in any of the fine-material or immaterial planes. If, additionally, one has destroyed the five lower fetters and become a non-returner, one can be reborn spontaneously in the Pure Abodes.

The supreme aim, however, is arahantship. If one has purified one’s mind totally of greed, hate, and delusion, one would experience “the destruction of the taints.” Hence the discourse culminates with a monk aspiring for arahantship:

“Oh, that by realizing for myself with direct knowledge, I might here and now enter upon and abide in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints!’ And by realizing for himself with direct knowledge, he here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints. Bhikkhus, this bhikkhu does not reappear anywhere at all.” (MN 120.37)

That bhikkhu’s demise is parinibbana, the end of all possible forms of suffering forever.

Although devas and brahmas have very long lives pervaded by inconceivable bliss, they are not inherently greater than human beings. As we have seen, they are all subject to repeated becoming. A deva may well be reborn on one of the lower planes. Brahmas can fall to a ghostly or hellish existence after one intermediate life as a deva or human. The Buddha states that even lives lasting many aeons in the highest formless planes can end in lower births.

Therefore such lives provide no security, but only temporary remission of the underlying disease, and if they are not dedicated to progress towards Nibbana their value is virtually nil. One who has understood the noble Dhamma will look upon such modes of existence with revulsion and dispassion (see GS V, 41; AN X,29).

Only by becoming an ariya can one be sure that one faces no more lower rebirths and is headed for the complete cessation of samsara. To become a stream-enterer requires three things. One has to (1) develop confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, (2) relinquish any idea that rituals lead to liberation, and most important, (3) eliminate the deep-seated view “I am real and lasting” that characterizes all worldlings. By uprooting that deluded view, noble ones remove their tendency to create the heavy bad kamma that leads to birth in the realms of woe.

Sometimes lay people, not yet ripe enough to desire liberation, asked the Buddha how to be successful in their mundane endeavors or how to be reborn on a celestial plane after death. The Master would reply with a discourse suited to their limited ability and inclination. He would tell them to give generously and live a moral life. He would specifically urge them to observe the Five Precepts without a breach and to undertake the Eight Precepts on special occasions. Generating such good kamma is the way to general well-being, now and after death. These basic steps form the starting point of the gradual training that leads all the way to arahantship. The Dhamma is consistent from start to finish.

When the Buddha describes the entire course of a bhikkhu’s training, from leaving home to arahantship, he devotes considerable attention to the jhanas, the highest form of concentration. One who can keep the mind absorbed on a single object can apply this capacity for attention to insight, the wisdom section of the path. One skilled in jhana can easily discern the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selfless nature of the aggregates for extended periods. The jhanas also create strong wholesome kamma, as they are all associated with some form of wisdom.

Individuals who practice the jhanas but do not reflect on them with insight may think the jhanas permanently efface their unwholesome tendencies. The Buddha found, however, that mental defilements are only suppressed — perhaps for a very long time — by these meditative states. Such absorptions bring bliss and peace here and now, generate wholesome kamma, and may bring rebirth in a plane of the brahma world. However, they do not uproot the latent defilements and thus cannot cut off the root causes of samsara. For this one needs insight-wisdom, the discernment of the three universal marks of impermanence, suffering, and non-self.


Let us human beings apply ourselves wholeheartedly and take up the unique opportunity given by our present birth. In the round of samsara it is extremely rare to rise above the realms of woe, where the way out of suffering cannot be followed, and a human birth is even more favorable to awakening than birth in the realm of the gods. Devas envy us our place, ostensibly so low on the cosmic scale, and wish to be reborn as humans. The Buddha Sasana still thrives, the Dhamma is available in full, there are excellent teachers who are true disciples of the Master, and we are on the best plane for striving.

Final awakening does not bring “eternal life” in some heaven as many religions promise. Nibbana means letting go of everything — relinquishing every state of being anywhere in the cosmos. It is our attachments and cravings, rooted in ignorance, that keep us revolving in samsara’s misery. Wisdom shows how all existence is bound up with suffering and thereby illuminates the futility of all craving for being. Then all old kamma is burnt up and no new fuel for birth is created. The process of birth and death just stops, once and for all. This is not the end of an existing being, as no such being ever was. It is only the end of a process, of the flux of physical and mental phenomena arising and vanishing due to complex networks of causes and conditions. There is no controlling or enduring self of any sort at any time.

What the Buddha taught deities, he taught people; what he taught people, he taught devas and brahmas: just the universal fact of suffering, and the way to the cessation of suffering — morality, concentration, and wisdom.

For the Welfare of Many

The teacher, the great sage,
Is the first in the world;
Following him is the disciple
Whose composure is perfected;
And then the learner training
On the path, one who has
Learned much and is virtuous.

These three are chief
Amongst devas and humans:
Illuminators, preaching Dhamma,
Opening the door to the Deathless,
They free many people from bondage.

Those who follow the path
Well taught by the unsurpassed
Caravan-leader, who are diligent
In the Sublime One’s dispensation,
Make an end of suffering
Within this very life itself. (It 84)

Notes [go up]

In some cases my quotations from existing translations have been modified, especially when quoting from GS. Quotations from MLDB invariably, and from Ud, It, and LDB usually, are exactly as they occur in these contemporary translations. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s draft translation of SN is quoted verbatim.

1. Only ariyas, noble ones, can be sure that they will never suffer the agony of rebirth in one of the lower realms where suffering is incredibly intense and all-pervasive.

2. It seems probable that some devas become anagamis or even arahants while practicing the Buddha’s teachings in the celestial planes, but I cannot cite any canonical texts to support this.

3. This phrase comes from Ven. Mahakaccana’s elucidation of a brief remark by the Buddha: “And how, friends, is the mind called ’stuck internally’? Here, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. If his consciousness follows after the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, then his mind is called ’stuck internally.’… If his consciousness does not follow after the rapture and pleasure born of seclusion… then his mind is called ‘not stuck internally’” (MN 138.12). Clinging to a jhana one has attained can prevent one from attaining awakening.

4. This phenomena is mentioned several times. Once, for example, a bhikkhu named Hatthaka had become an anagami. When he died, he was reborn in the Aviha brahma plane, the lowest of the Pure Abodes. Shortly after arising there he came to see the Buddha. Hatthaka intended to stand “in the presence of the Exalted One,” yet he was “unable to do so, but sunk down, collapsed, could not stand upright.” Seeing this, the Buddha told him, “Create a gross body form.” Once he had done so, he could stand at one side and have a discussion with the Buddha (GS I, 257; AN III, 125).

5. The opening section of the Samyutta Nikaya is devoted entirely to dialogues between the Buddha and various gods.

6. The Pali word naga is used to refer to any powerful creature, particularly the cobra and the bull elephant. In relation to the Buddha and the arahants it is used in this latter sense; see Dhp. Nagavagga (Chap. 23).

7. Direct quotations from the sutta are from the Walshe translation unless otherwise noted. See Bibliography for details of all translations consulted for this discourse.

8. This paragaraph is based on Sister Vajira’s translation.

9. The commentary points out that the Buddha himself first penetrated the Abhidhamma during the fourth of the seven weeks he spent meditating near the Bodhi Tree immediately following his awakening (Expos 16-17).

10. We may deduce that they proceeded to the third plane of the first jhana, No. 14. The brahma must have been the incumbent Maha Brahma, the God All-Mighty of many religions. That would make his ministers and retinue the occupants of the two brahma planes lower than Maha Brahma’s own realm, Nos. 13 and 12 respectively.

11. That the being Mara is a deva on the highest deva plane accentuates the fact that the gods are not necessarily wise or good. Mara also stands for death and defilements.

12. The part of the discourse about the brahmas ends here, but Mara was unhappy with this turn of events and interceded again, urging the Buddha not to share what he had learned with others. See MLDB for the complete sutta (No. 49).

13. The arahant Kumara Kassapa once said, “Human beings are generally considered unclean, evil-smelling, horrible, revolting by the devas,” so they rarely visit this world. See DN 23.9.

14. For example by Ananda at MN 53.25; by the Buddha at DN 3.1.28.

15. The Pure Abodes are the highest fine-material brahma planes (Nos. 23-27) and are populated exclusively by anagamis and arahants. The anagamis will never be reborn on a plane below the Pure Abodes because they have eliminated all traces of ill will and desire for sense pleasures. When they have become arahants in the Pure Abodes, they will, of course, have no more births anywhere at all.

16. The same brahma helped another member of that group attain arahantship under Buddha Gotama. The brahma gave a detailed riddle to Kumara Kassapa and told him to ask the Buddha its meaning. When the bhikkhu received the explanation of the imagery, he attained arahantship. See MN 23.

17. DN 20. See also Sayagyi U Chit Tin, The Great Occasion.

18. This story appears at MN 26.19-21; SN 6:1 (= KS I, 171-74); also at Vin. I, 4-7.

19. “Devas who are free from craving” refers to brahmas from the Pure Abodes.

20. See LDB 290, DN 17.2.17.

21. These are the thirty-seven bodhipakkhiya dhamma, such as the four foundations of mindfulness, etc. See DN 16.3.50.

Abbreviations [go up]

AN …. Anguttara Nikaya
DN …. Digha Nikaya
Dial …. Dialogues of the Buddha (Digha Nikaya)
Expos …. Expositor (trans. of Atthasalini)
GS …. Gradual Sayings (trans. of Anguttara Nikaya)
It …. Itivuttaka
KS …. Kindred Sayings (trans. of Samyutta Nikaya)
LDB …. Long Discourses of the Buddha (trans. of Digha Nikaya)
MN …. Majjhima Nikaya
MB …. Manuals of Buddhism
MLDB …. Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (trans. of Majjhima Nikaya)
MLS …. Middle Length Sayings (trans. of Majjhima Nikaya)
Net …. Net of Views (Brahmajala Sutta)
SN …. Samyutta Nikaya
Sn …. Sutta-nipata
Vin …. Vinaya Pitaka

Bibliography [go up]

References to MN and DN are by sutta and section number of MLDB and LDB respectively; to SN (and its translation KS), by chapter and sutta number, with page numbers of KS; to AN (and its translation GS), by nipata and sutta number, with page numbers of GS; to the Udana, by chapter and section; to It, by sutta number. Verses of SN are from a draft translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi (in progress).

  • Pali Text Society:
    • Kindred Sayings
    • Gradual Sayings
    • Middle Length Sayings
    • The Group of Discourses
    • Dialogues of the Buddha
    • The Expositor
  • Buddhist Publication Society:
    • Udana, trans. John D. Ireland, 1990
    • The Itivuttaka, trans. John D. Ireland, 1991
    • The Dhammapada, trans. Acharya Buddharakkhita, 1985
    • The All-Embracing Net of Views (Brahmajala Sutta), trans. Bhikkhu Bodhi, 1978
    • Sakka’s Quest, trans. Sister Vajira (Wheel No. 10)
  • Wisdom Publications:
    • Long Discourses of the Buddha, trans. Maurice Walshe, 1987, 1995
    • Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, trans. Bhikkhu Ñanamoli & Bhikkhu Bodhi, 1995
  • Other:
    • The Sutta-Nipata, trans. H. Saddhatissa. London: Curzon, 1985
    • Manuals of Buddhism, Ledi Sayadaw. Rangoon, 1981
    • The Great Occasion, Sayagyi U Chit Tin. Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, U.K.

The Buddhist Publication Society is an approved charity dedicated to making known the Teaching of the Buddha, which has a vital message for people of all creeds.

Founded in 1958, the BPS has published a wide variety of books and booklets covering a great range of topics. Its publications include accurate annotated translations of the Buddha’s discourses, standard reference works, as well as original contemporary expositions of Buddhist thought and practice. These works present Buddhism as it truly is — a dynamic force which has influenced receptive minds for the past 2500 years and is still as relevant today as it was when it first arose.

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2-12-2007-True Teachings of The Awakened One-The Edicts of King Asoka-Gandhara’s wonders
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True Teachings of The Awakened One

The Edicts of King Asoka
An English rendering by
Ven. S. Dhammika

Gandhara’s wonders














East Asia: A Cultural, Social, And Political History


Preface [go up]

This rendering of King Asoka’s Edicts is based heavily on Amulyachandra Sen’s English translation, which includes the original Magadhi and a Sanskrit and English translation of the text. However, many parts of the edicts are far from clear in meaning and the numerous translations of them differ widely. Therefore, I have also consulted the translations of C. D. Sircar and D. R. Bhandarkar and in parts favored their interpretations. Any credit this small book deserves is due entirely to the labors and learning of these scholars.

Introduction [go up]

Dhamma sadhu, kiyam cu dhamme ti?
Apasinave, bahu kayane, daya, dane, sace, socaye.

Dhamma is good, but what constitutes Dhamma?
(It includes) little evil, much good, kindness,
generosity, truthfulness and purity.

King Asoka

With the rediscovery and translation of Indian literature by European scholars in the 19th century, it was not just the religion and philosophy of Buddhism that came to light, but also its many legendary histories and biographies. Amongst this class of literature, one name that came to be noticed was that of Asoka, a good king who was supposed to have ruled India in the distant past. Stories about this king, similar in outline but differing greatly in details, were found in the Divyavadana, the Asokavadana, the Mahavamsa and several other works. They told of an exceptionally cruel and ruthless prince who had many of his brothers killed in order to seize the throne, who was dramatically converted to Buddhism and who ruled wisely and justly for the rest of his life. None of these stories were taken seriously — after all many pre-modern cultures had legends about “too good to be true” kings who had ruled righteously in the past and who, people hoped, would rule again soon. Most of these legends had their origins more in popular longing to be rid of the despotic and uncaring kings than in any historical fact. And the numerous stories about Asoka were assumed to be the same.

But in 1837, James Prinsep succeeded in deciphering an ancient inscription on a large stone pillar in Delhi. Several other pillars and rocks with similar inscriptions had been known for some time and had attracted the curiosity of scholars. Prinsep’s inscription proved to be a series of edicts issued by a king calling himself “Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi.” In the following decades, more and more edicts by this same king were discovered and with increasingly accurate decipherment of their language, a more complete picture of this man and his deeds began to emerge. Gradually, it dawned on scholars that the King Piyadasi of the edicts might be the King Asoka so often praised in Buddhist legends. However, it was not until 1915, when another edict actually mentioning the name Asoka was discovered, that the identification was confirmed. Having been forgotten for nearly 700 years, one of the greatest men in history became known to the world once again.

Asoka’s edicts are mainly concerned with the reforms he instituted and the moral principles he recommended in his attempt to create a just and humane society. As such, they give us little information about his life, the details of which have to be culled from other sources. Although the exact dates of Asoka’s life are a matter of dispute among scholars, he was born in about 304 B.C. and became the third king of the Mauryan dynasty after the death of his father, Bindusara. His given name was Asoka but he assumed the title Devanampiya Piyadasi which means “Beloved-of-the-Gods, He Who Looks On With Affection.” There seems to have been a two-year war of succession during which at least one of Asoka’s brothers was killed. In 262 B.C., eight years after his coronation, Asoka’s armies attacked and conquered Kalinga, a country that roughly corresponds to the modern state of Orissa. The loss of life caused by battle, reprisals, deportations and the turmoil that always exists in the aftermath of war so horrified Asoka that it brought about a complete change in his personality. It seems that Asoka had been calling himself a Buddhist for at least two years prior to the Kalinga war, but his commitment to Buddhism was only lukewarm and perhaps had a political motive behind it. But after the war Asoka dedicated the rest of his life trying to apply Buddhist principles to the administration of his vast empire. He had a crucial part to play in helping Buddhism to spread both throughout India and abroad, and probably built the first major Buddhist monuments. Asoka died in 232 B.C. in the thirty-eighth year of his reign.

Asoka’s edicts are to be found scattered in more than thirty places throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most of them are written in Brahmi script from which all Indian scripts and many of those used in Southeast Asia later developed. The language used in the edicts found in the eastern part of the sub-continent is a type of Magadhi, probably the official language of Asoka’s court. The language used in the edicts found in the western part of India is closer to Sanskrit although one bilingual edict in Afghanistan is written in Aramaic and Greek. Asoka’s edicts, which comprise the earliest decipherable corpus of written documents from India, have survived throughout the centuries because they are written on rocks and stone pillars. These pillars in particular are testimony to the technological and artistic genius of ancient Indian civilization. Originally, there must have been many of them, although only ten with inscriptions still survive. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected. Each pillar was originally capped by a capital, sometimes a roaring lion, a noble bull or a spirited horse, and the few capitals that survive are widely recognized as masterpieces of Indian art. Both the pillars and the capitals exhibit a remarkable mirror-like polish that has survived despite centuries of exposure to the elements. The location of the rock edicts is governed by the availability of suitable rocks, but the edicts on pillars are all to be found in very specific places. Some, like the Lumbini pillar, mark the Buddha’s birthplace, while its inscriptions commemorate Asoka’s pilgrimage to that place. Others are to be found in or near important population centers so that their edicts could be read by as many people as possible.

There is little doubt that Asoka’s edicts were written in his own words rather than in the stylistic language in which royal edicts or proclamations in the ancient world were usually written in. Their distinctly personal tone gives us a unique glimpse into the personality of this complex and remarkable man. Asoka’s style tends to be somewhat repetitious and plodding as if explaining something to one who has difficulty in understanding. Asoka frequently refers to the good works he has done, although not in a boastful way, but more, it seems, to convince the reader of his sincerity. In fact, an anxiousness to be thought of as a sincere person and a good administrator is present in nearly every edict. Asoka tells his subjects that he looked upon them as his children, that their welfare is his main concern; he apologizes for the Kalinga war and reassures the people beyond the borders of his empire that he has no expansionist intentions towards them. Mixed with this sincerity, there is a definite puritanical streak in Asoka’s character suggested by his disapproval of festivals and of religious rituals many of which while being of little value were nonetheless harmless.

It is also very clear that Buddhism was the most influential force in Asoka’s life and that he hoped his subjects likewise would adopt his religion. He went on pilgrimages to Lumbini and Bodh Gaya, sent teaching monks to various regions in India and beyond its borders, and he was familiar enough with the sacred texts to recommend some of them to the monastic community. It is also very clear that Asoka saw the reforms he instituted as being a part of his duties as a Buddhist. But, while he was an enthusiastic Buddhist, he was not partisan towards his own religion or intolerant of other religions. He seems to have genuinely hoped to be able to encourage everyone to practice his or her own religion with the same conviction that he practiced his.

Scholars have suggested that because the edicts say nothing about the philosophical aspects of Buddhism, Asoka had a simplistic and naive understanding of the Dhamma. This view does not take into account the fact that the purpose of the edicts was not to expound the truths of Buddhism, but to inform the people of Asoka’s reforms and to encourage them to be more generous, kind and moral. This being the case, there was no reason for Asoka to discuss Buddhist philosophy. Asoka emerges from his edicts as an able administrator, an intelligent human being and as a devoted Buddhist, and we could expect him to take as keen an interest in Buddhist philosophy as he did in Buddhist practice.

The contents of Asoka’s edicts make it clear that all the legends about his wise and humane rule are more than justified and qualify him to be ranked as one of the greatest rulers. In his edicts, he spoke of what might be called state morality, and private or individual morality. The first was what he based his administration upon and what he hoped would lead to a more just, more spiritually inclined society, while the second was what he recommended and encouraged individuals to practice. Both these types of morality were imbued with the Buddhist values of compassion, moderation, tolerance and respect for all life. The Asokan state gave up the predatory foreign policy that had characterized the Mauryan empire up till then and replaced it with a policy of peaceful co-existence. The judicial system was reformed in order to make it more fair, less harsh and less open to abuse, while those sentenced to death were given a stay of execution to prepare appeals and regular amnesties were given to prisoners. State resources were used for useful public works like the importation and cultivation of medical herbs, the building of rest houses, the digging of wells at regular intervals along main roads and the planting of fruit and shade trees. To ensue that these reforms and projects were carried out, Asoka made himself more accessible to his subjects by going on frequent inspection tours and he expected his district officers to follow his example. To the same end, he gave orders that important state business or petitions were never to be kept from him no matter what he was doing at the time. The state had a responsibility not just to protect and promote the welfare of its people but also its wildlife. Hunting certain species of wild animals was banned, forest and wildlife reserves were established and cruelty to domestic and wild animals was prohibited. The protection of all religions, their promotion and the fostering of harmony between them, was also seen as one of the duties of the state. It even seems that something like a Department of Religious Affairs was established with officers called Dhamma Mahamatras whose job it was to look after the affairs of various religious bodies and to encourage the practice of religion.

The individual morality that Asoka hoped to foster included respect (susrusa) towards parents, elders, teachers, friends, servants, ascetics and brahmans — behavior that accords with the advice given to Sigala by the Buddha (Digha Nikaya, Discourse No. 31). He encouraged generosity (dana) to the poor (kapana valaka), to ascetics and brahmans, and to friends and relatives. Not surprisingly, Asoka encouraged harmlessness towards all life (avihisa bhutanam). In conformity with the Buddha’s advice in the Anguttara Nikaya, II:282, he also considered moderation in spending and moderation in saving to be good (apa vyayata apa bhadata). Treating people properly (samya pratipati), he suggested, was much more important than performing ceremonies that were supposed to bring good luck. Because it helped promote tolerance and mutual respect, Asoka desired that people should be well-learned (bahu sruta) in the good doctrines (kalanagama) of other people’s religions. The qualities of heart that are recommended by Asoka in the edicts indicate his deep spirituality. They include kindness (daya), self-examination (palikhaya), truthfulness (sace), gratitude (katamnata), purity of heart (bhava sudhi), enthusiasm (usahena), strong loyalty (dadha bhatita), self-control (sayame) and love of the Dhamma (Dhamma kamata).

We have no way of knowing how effective Asoka’s reforms were or how long they lasted but we do know that monarchs throughout the ancient Buddhist world were encouraged to look to his style of government as an ideal to be followed. King Asoka has to be credited with the first attempt to develop a Buddhist polity. Today, with widespread disillusionment in prevailing ideologies and the search for a political philosophy that goes beyond greed (capitalism), hatred (communism) and delusion (dictatorships led by “infallible” leaders), Asoka’s edicts may make a meaningful contribution to the development of a more spiritually based political system.

The Fourteen Rock Edicts [go up]


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has caused this Dhamma edict to be written.1 Here (in my domain) no living beings are to be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice. Nor should festivals be held, for Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, sees much to object to in such festivals, although there are some festivals that Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does approve of.

Formerly, in the kitchen of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, hundreds of thousands of animals were killed every day to make curry. But now with the writing of this Dhamma edict only three creatures, two peacocks and a deer are killed, and the deer not always. And in time, not even these three creatures will be killed.


Everywhere2 within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi’s domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos,3 everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals.4


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:5 Twelve years after my coronation this has been ordered — Everywhere in my domain the Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradesikas shall go on inspection tours every five years for the purpose of Dhamma instruction and also to conduct other business.6

Respect for mother and father is good, generosity to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans and ascetics is good, not killing living beings is good, moderation in spending and moderation in saving is good. The Council shall notify the Yuktas about the observance of these instructions in these very words.


In the past, for many hundreds of years, killing or harming living beings and improper behavior towards relatives, and improper behavior towards Brahmans and ascetics has increased.7 But now due to Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi’s Dhamma practice, the sound of the drum has been replaced by the sound of the Dhamma.8 The sighting of heavenly cars, auspicious elephants, bodies of fire and other divine sightings has not happened for many hundreds of years. But now because Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi promotes restraint in the killing and harming of living beings, proper behavior towards relatives, Brahmans and ascetics, and respect for mother, father and elders, such sightings have increased.9

These and many other kinds of Dhamma practice have been encouraged by Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, and he will continue to promote Dhamma practice. And the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, too will continue to promote Dhamma practice until the end of time; living by Dhamma and virtue, they will instruct in Dhamma. Truly, this is the highest work, to instruct in Dhamma. But practicing the Dhamma cannot be done by one who is devoid of virtue and therefore its promotion and growth is commendable.

This edict has been written so that it may please my successors to devote themselves to promoting these things and not allow them to decline. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has had this written twelve years after his coronation.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:10 To do good is difficult. One who does good first does something hard to do. I have done many good deeds, and, if my sons, grandsons and their descendants up to the end of the world act in like manner, they too will do much good. But whoever amongst them neglects this, they will do evil. Truly, it is easy to do evil.11

In the past there were no Dhamma Mahamatras but such officers were appointed by me thirteen years after my coronation. Now they work among all religions for the establishment of Dhamma, for the promotion of Dhamma, and for the welfare and happiness of all who are devoted to Dhamma. They work among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Gandharas, the Rastrikas, the Pitinikas and other peoples on the western borders.12 They work among soldiers, chiefs, Brahmans, householders, the poor, the aged and those devoted to Dhamma — for their welfare and happiness — so that they may be free from harassment. They (Dhamma Mahamatras) work for the proper treatment of prisoners, towards their unfettering, and if the Mahamatras think, “This one has a family to support,” “That one has been bewitched,” “This one is old,” then they work for the release of such prisoners. They work here, in outlying towns, in the women’s quarters belonging to my brothers and sisters, and among my other relatives. They are occupied everywhere. These Dhamma Mahamatras are occupied in my domain among people devoted to Dhamma to determine who is devoted to Dhamma, who is established in Dhamma, and who is generous.

This Dhamma edict has been written on stone so that it might endure long and that my descendants might act in conformity with it.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:13 In the past, state business was not transacted nor were reports delivered to the king at all hours. But now I have given this order, that at any time, whether I am eating, in the women’s quarters, the bed chamber, the chariot, the palanquin, in the park or wherever, reporters are to be posted with instructions to report to me the affairs of the people so that I might attend to these affairs wherever I am. And whatever I orally order in connection with donations or proclamations, or when urgent business presses itself on the Mahamatras, if disagreement or debate arises in the Council, then it must be reported to me immediately. This is what I have ordered. I am never content with exerting myself or with despatching business. Truly, I consider the welfare of all to be my duty, and the root of this is exertion and the prompt despatch of business. There is no better work than promoting the welfare of all the people and whatever efforts I am making is to repay the debt I owe to all beings to assure their happiness in this life, and attain heaven in the next.

Therefore this Dhamma edict has been written to last long and that my sons, grandsons and great-grandsons might act in conformity with it for the welfare of the world. However, this is difficult to do without great exertion.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all religions should reside everywhere, for all of them desire self-control and purity of heart.14 But people have various desires and various passions, and they may practice all of what they should or only a part of it. But one who receives great gifts yet is lacking in self-control, purity of heart, gratitude and firm devotion, such a person is mean.


In the past kings used to go out on pleasure tours during which there was hunting and other entertainment.15 But ten years after Beloved-of-the-Gods had been coronated, he went on a tour to Sambodhi and thus instituted Dhamma tours.16 During these tours, the following things took place: visits and gifts to Brahmans and ascetics, visits and gifts of gold to the aged, visits to people in the countryside, instructing them in Dhamma, and discussing Dhamma with them as is suitable. It is this that delights Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, and is, as it were, another type of revenue.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:17 In times of sickness, for the marriage of sons and daughters, at the birth of children, before embarking on a journey, on these and other occasions, people perform various ceremonies. Women in particular perform many vulgar and worthless ceremonies. These types of ceremonies can be performed by all means, but they bear little fruit. What does bear great fruit, however, is the ceremony of the Dhamma. This involves proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for teachers, restraint towards living beings, and generosity towards ascetics and Brahmans. These and other things constitute the ceremony of the Dhamma. Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion, and even a neighbor should say: “This is good, this is the ceremony that should be performed until its purpose is fulfilled, this I shall do.”18 Other ceremonies are of doubtful fruit, for they may achieve their purpose, or they may not, and even if they do, it is only in this world. But the ceremony of the Dhamma is timeless. Even if it does not achieve its purpose in this world, it produces great merit in the next, whereas if it does achieve its purpose in this world, one gets great merit both here and there through the ceremony of the Dhamma.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not consider glory and fame to be of great account unless they are achieved through having my subjects respect Dhamma and practice Dhamma, both now and in the future.19 For this alone does Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desire glory and fame. And whatever efforts Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, is making, all of that is only for the welfare of the people in the next world, and that they will have little evil. And being without merit is evil. This is difficult for either a humble person or a great person to do except with great effort, and by giving up other interests. In fact, it may be even more difficult for a great person to do.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:20 There is no gift like the gift of the Dhamma,21 (no acquaintance like) acquaintance with Dhamma, (no distribution like) distribution of Dhamma, and (no kinship like) kinship through Dhamma. And it consists of this: proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for mother and father, generosity to friends, companions, relations, Brahmans and ascetics, and not killing living beings. Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion or a neighbor should say: “This is good, this should be done.” One benefits in this world and gains great merit in the next by giving the gift of the Dhamma.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, honors both ascetics and the householders of all religions, and he honors them with gifts and honors of various kinds.22 But Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values this — that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions.23 Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one’s own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. And if there is cause for criticism, it should be done in a mild way. But it is better to honor other religions for this reason. By so doing, one’s own religion benefits, and so do other religions, while doing otherwise harms one’s own religion and the religions of others. Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought “Let me glorify my own religion,” only harms his own religion. Therefore contact (between religions) is good.24 One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions.

Those who are content with their own religion should be told this: Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions. And to this end many are working — Dhamma Mahamatras, Mahamatras in charge of the women’s quarters, officers in charge of outlying areas, and other such officers. And the fruit of this is that one’s own religion grows and the Dhamma is illuminated also.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas eight years after his coronation.25 One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died (from other causes). After the Kalingas had been conquered, Beloved-of-the-Gods came to feel a strong inclination towards the Dhamma, a love for the Dhamma and for instruction in Dhamma. Now Beloved-of-the-Gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas.

Indeed, Beloved-of-the-Gods is deeply pained by the killing, dying and deportation that take place when an unconquered country is conquered. But Beloved-of-the-Gods is pained even more by this — that Brahmans, ascetics, and householders of different religions who live in those countries, and who are respectful to superiors, to mother and father, to elders, and who behave properly and have strong loyalty towards friends, acquaintances, companions, relatives, servants and employees — that they are injured, killed or separated from their loved ones. Even those who are not affected (by all this) suffer when they see friends, acquaintances, companions and relatives affected. These misfortunes befall all (as a result of war), and this pains Beloved-of-the-Gods.

There is no country, except among the Greeks, where these two groups, Brahmans and ascetics, are not found, and there is no country where people are not devoted to one or another religion.26 Therefore the killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains Beloved-of-the-Gods. Now Beloved-of-the-Gods thinks that even those who do wrong should be forgiven where forgiveness is possible.

Even the forest people, who live in Beloved-of-the-Gods’ domain, are entreated and reasoned with to act properly. They are told that despite his remorse Beloved-of-the-Gods has the power to punish them if necessary, so that they should be ashamed of their wrong and not be killed. Truly, Beloved-of-the-Gods desires non-injury, restraint and impartiality to all beings, even where wrong has been done.

Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest.27 And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni.28 Here in the king’s domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions in Dhamma. Even where Beloved-of-the-Gods’ envoys have not been, these people too, having heard of the practice of Dhamma and the ordinances and instructions in Dhamma given by Beloved-of-the-Gods, are following it and will continue to do so. This conquest has been won everywhere, and it gives great joy — the joy which only conquest by Dhamma can give. But even this joy is of little consequence. Beloved-of-the-Gods considers the great fruit to be experienced in the next world to be more important.

I have had this Dhamma edict written so that my sons and great-grandsons may not consider making new conquests, or that if military conquests are made, that they be done with forbearance and light punishment, or better still, that they consider making conquest by Dhamma only, for that bears fruit in this world and the next. May all their intense devotion be given to this which has a result in this world and the next.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has had these Dhamma edicts written in brief, in medium length, and in extended form.29 Not all of them occur everywhere, for my domain is vast, but much has been written, and I will have still more written. And also there are some subjects here that have been spoken of again and again because of their sweetness, and so that the people may act in accordance with them. If some things written are incomplete, this is because of the locality, or in consideration of the object, or due to the fault of the scribe.

The Kalinga Rock Edicts [go up]


Beloved-of-the-Gods says that the Mahamatras of Tosali who are judicial officers in the city are to be told this:30 I wish to see that everything I consider to be proper is carried out in the right way. And I consider instructing you to be the best way of accomplishing this. I have placed you over many thousands of people that you may win the people’s affection.

All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men. You do not understand to what extent I desire this, and if some of you do understand, you do not understand the full extent of my desire.

You must attend to this matter. While being completely law-abiding, some people are imprisoned, treated harshly and even killed without cause so that many people suffer. Therefore your aim should be to act with impartiality. It is because of these things — envy, anger, cruelty, hate, indifference, laziness or tiredness — that such a thing does not happen. Therefore your aim should be: “May these things not be in me.” And the root of this is non-anger and patience. Those who are bored with the administration of justice will not be promoted; (those who are not) will move upwards and be promoted. Whoever among you understands this should say to his colleagues: “See that you do your duty properly. Such and such are Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions.” Great fruit will result from doing your duty, while failing in it will result in gaining neither heaven nor the king’s pleasure. Failure in duty on your part will not please me. But done properly, it will win you heaven and you will be discharging your debts to me.

This edict is to be listened to on Tisa day, between Tisa days, and on other suitable occasions, it should be listened to even by a single person. Acting thus, you will be doing your duty.

This edict has been written for the following purpose: that the judicial officers of the city may strive to do their duty and that the people under them might not suffer unjust imprisonment or harsh treatment. To achieve this, I will send out Mahamatras every five years who are not harsh or cruel, but who are merciful and who can ascertain if the judicial officers have understood my purpose and are acting according to my instructions. Similarly, from Ujjayini, the prince will send similar persons with the same purpose without allowing three years to elapse. Likewise from Takhasila also. When these Mahamatras go on tours of inspection each year, then without neglecting their normal duties, they will ascertain if judicial officers are acting according to the king’s instructions.


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:31 This royal order is to be addressed to the Mahamatras at Samapa. I wish to see that everything I consider to be proper is carried out in the right way. And I consider instructing you to be the best way of accomplishing this. All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men.32

The people of the unconquered territories beyond the borders might think: “What is the king’s intentions towards us?” My only intention is that they live without fear of me, that they may trust me and that I may give them happiness, not sorrow. Furthermore, they should understand that the king will forgive those who can be forgiven, and that he wishes to encourage them to practice Dhamma so that they may attain happiness in this world and the next. I am telling you this so that I may discharge the debts I owe, and that in instructing you, that you may know that my vow and my promise will not be broken. Therefore acting in this way, you should perform your duties and assure them (the people beyond the borders) that: “The king is like a father. He feels towards us as he feels towards himself. We are to him like his own children.”

By instructing you and informing you of my vow and my promise I shall be applying myself in complete fullness to achieving this object. You are able indeed to inspire them with confidence and to secure their welfare and happiness in this world and the next, and by acting thus, you will attain heaven as well as discharge the debts you owe to me. And so that the Mahamatras can devote themselves at all times to inspiring the border areas with confidence and encouraging them to practice Dhamma, this edict has been written here.

This edict is to be listened to every four months on Tisa day, between Tisa days, and on other suitable occasions, it should be listened to even by a single person. Acting thus, you will be doing your duty.

Minor Rock Edicts [go up]


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:33 It is now more than two and a half years since I became a lay-disciple, but until now I have not been very zealous.34 But now that I have visited the Sangha for more than a year, I have become very zealous. Now the people in India who have not associated with the gods do so. This is the result of zeal and it is not just the great who can do this. Even the humble, if they are zealous, can attain heaven. And this proclamation has been made with this aim. Let both humble and great be zealous, let even those on the borders know and let zeal last long. Then this zeal will increase, it will greatly increase, it will increase up to one-and-a-half times. This message has been proclaimed two hundred and fifty-six times by the king while on tour.


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:35 Father and mother should be respected and so should elders, kindness to living beings should be made strong and the truth should be spoken. In these ways, the Dhamma should be promoted. Likewise, a teacher should be honored by his pupil and proper manners should be shown towards relations. This is an ancient rule that conduces to long life. Thus should one act. Written by the scribe Chapala.


Piyadasi, King of Magadha, saluting the Sangha and wishing them good health and happiness, speaks thus:36 You know, reverend sirs, how great my faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and Sangha is. Whatever, reverend sirs, has been spoken by Lord Buddha, all that is well-spoken.37 I consider it proper, reverend sirs, to advise on how the good Dhamma should last long.

These Dhamma texts — Extracts from the Discipline, the Noble Way of Life, the Fears to Come, the Poem on the Silent Sage, the Discourse on the Pure Life, Upatisa’s Questions, and the Advice to Rahula which was spoken by the Buddha concerning false speech — these Dhamma texts, reverend sirs, I desire that all the monks and nuns may constantly listen to and remember.38 Likewise the laymen and laywomen. I have had this written that you may know my intentions.

The Seven Pillar Edicts [go up]


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:39 This Dhamma edict was written twenty-six years after my coronation. Happiness in this world and the next is difficult to obtain without much love for the Dhamma, much self-examination, much respect, much fear (of evil), and much enthusiasm. But through my instruction this regard for Dhamma and love of Dhamma has grown day by day, and will continue to grow. And my officers of high, low and middle rank are practicing and conforming to Dhamma, and are capable of inspiring others to do the same. Mahamatras in border areas are doing the same. And these are my instructions: to protect with Dhamma, to make happiness through Dhamma and to guard with Dhamma.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Dhamma is good, but what constitutes Dhamma? (It includes) little evil, much good, kindness, generosity, truthfulness and purity. I have given the gift of sight in various ways.40 To two-footed and four-footed beings, to birds and aquatic animals, I have given various things including the gift of life. And many other good deeds have been done by me.

This Dhamma edict has been written that people might follow it and it might endure for a long time. And the one who follows it properly will do something good.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: People see only their good deeds saying, “I have done this good deed.” But they do not see their evil deeds saying, “I have done this evil deed” or “This is called evil.” But this (tendency) is difficult to see.41 One should think like this: “It is these things that lead to evil, to violence, to cruelty, anger, pride and jealousy. Let me not ruin myself with these things.” And further, one should think: “This leads to happiness in this world and the next.”


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: This Dhamma edict was written twenty-six years after my coronation. My Rajjukas are working among the people, among many hundreds of thousands of people. The hearing of petitions and the administration of justice has been left to them so that they can do their duties confidently and fearlessly and so that they can work for the welfare, happiness and benefit of the people in the country. But they should remember what causes happiness and sorrow, and being themselves devoted to Dhamma, they should encourage the people in the country (to do the same), that they may attain happiness in this world and the next. These Rajjukas are eager to serve me. They also obey other officers who know my desires, who instruct the Rajjukas so that they can please me. Just as a person feels confident having entrusted his child to an expert nurse thinking: “The nurse will keep my child well,” even so, the Rajjukas have been appointed by me for the welfare and happiness of the people in the country.

The hearing of petitions and the administration of justice have been left to the Rajjukas so that they can do their duties unperturbed, fearlessly and confidently. It is my desire that there should be uniformity in law and uniformity in sentencing. I even go this far, to grant a three-day stay for those in prison who have been tried and sentenced to death. During this time their relatives can make appeals to have the prisoners’ lives spared. If there is none to appeal on their behalf, the prisoners can give gifts in order to make merit for the next world, or observe fasts. Indeed, it is my wish that in this way, even if a prisoner’s time is limited, he can prepare for the next world, and that people’s Dhamma practice, self-control and generosity may grow.


Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Twenty-six years after my coronation various animals were declared to be protected — parrots, mainas, aruna, ruddy geese, wild ducks, nandimukhas, gelatas, bats, queen ants, terrapins, boneless fish, vedareyaka, gangapuputaka, sankiya fish, tortoises, porcupines, squirrels, deer, bulls, okapinda, wild asses, wild pigeons, domestic pigeons and all four-footed creatures that are neither useful nor edible.42 Those nanny goats, ewes and sows which are with young or giving milk to their young are protected, and so are young ones less than six months old. Cocks are not to be caponized, husks hiding living beings are not to be burnt and forests are not to be burnt either without reason or to kill creatures. One animal is not to be fed to another. On the three Caturmasis, the three days of Tisa and during the fourteenth and fifteenth of the Uposatha, fish are protected and not to be sold. During these days animals are not to be killed in the elephant reserves or the fish reserves either. On the eighth of every fortnight, on the fourteenth and fifteenth, on Tisa, Punarvasu, the three Caturmasis and other auspicious days, bulls are not to be castrated, billy goats, rams, boars and other animals that are usually castrated are not to be. On Tisa, Punarvasu, Caturmasis and the fortnight of Caturmasis, horses and bullocks are not be branded.

In the twenty-six years since my coronation prisoners have been given amnesty on twenty-five occasions.


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: Twelve years after my coronation I started to have Dhamma edicts written for the welfare and happiness of the people, and so that not transgressing them they might grow in the Dhamma. Thinking: “How can the welfare and happiness of the people be secured?” I give attention to my relatives, to those dwelling near and those dwelling far, so I can lead them to happiness and then I act accordingly. I do the same for all groups. I have honored all religions with various honors. But I consider it best to meet with people personally.

This Dhamma edict was written twenty-six years after my coronation.


Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: In the past kings desired that the people might grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. But despite this, people did not grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, said concerning this: “It occurs to me that in the past kings desired that the people might grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. But despite this, people did not grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. Now how can the people be encouraged to follow it? How can the people be encouraged to grow through the promotion of the Dhamma? How can I elevate them by promoting the Dhamma?” Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, further said concerning this: “It occurs to me that I shall have proclamations on Dhamma announced and instruction on Dhamma given. When people hear these, they will follow them, elevate themselves and grow considerably through the promotion of the Dhamma.” It is for this purpose that proclamations on Dhamma have been announced and various instructions on Dhamma have been given and that officers who work among many promote and explain them in detail. The Rajjukas who work among hundreds of thousands of people have likewise been ordered: “In this way and that encourage those who are devoted to Dhamma.” Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: “Having this object in view, I have set up Dhamma pillars, appointed Dhamma Mahamatras, and announced Dhamma proclamations.”

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, says: Along roads I have had banyan trees planted so that they can give shade to animals and men, and I have had mango groves planted. At intervals of eight krosas, I have had wells dug, rest-houses built, and in various places, I have had watering-places made for the use of animals and men. But these are but minor achievements. Such things to make the people happy have been done by former kings. I have done these things for this purpose, that the people might practice the Dhamma.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: My Dhamma Mahamatras too are occupied with various good works among the ascetics and householders of all religions. I have ordered that they should be occupied with the affairs of the Sangha. I have also ordered that they should be occupied with the affairs of the Brahmans and the Ajivikas. I have ordered that they be occupied with the Niganthas.43 In fact, I have ordered that different Mahamatras be occupied with the particular affairs of all different religions. And my Dhamma Mahamatras likewise are occupied with these and other religions.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: These and other principal officers are occupied with the distribution of gifts, mine as well as those of the queens. In my women’s quarters, they organize various charitable activities here and in the provinces. I have also ordered my sons and the sons of other queens to distribute gifts so that noble deeds of Dhamma and the practice of Dhamma may be promoted. And noble deeds of Dhamma and the practice of Dhamma consist of having kindness, generosity, truthfulness, purity, gentleness and goodness increase among the people.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Whatever good deeds have been done by me, those the people accept and those they follow. Therefore they have progressed and will continue to progress by being respectful to mother and father, respectful to elders, by courtesy to the aged and proper behavior towards Brahmans and ascetics, towards the poor and distressed, and even towards servants and employees.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: This progress among the people through Dhamma has been done by two means, by Dhamma regulations and by persuasion. Of these, Dhamma regulation is of little effect, while persuasion has much more effect. The Dhamma regulations I have given are that various animals must be protected. And I have given many other Dhamma regulations also. But it is by persuasion that progress among the people through Dhamma has had a greater effect in respect of harmlessness to living beings and non-killing of living beings.

Concerning this, Beloved-of-the-Gods says: Wherever there are stone pillars or stone slabs, there this Dhamma edict is to be engraved so that it may long endure. It has been engraved so that it may endure as long as my sons and great-grandsons live and as long as the sun and the moon shine, and so that people may practice it as instructed. For by practicing it happiness will be attained in this world and the next.

This Dhamma edict has been written by me twenty-seven years after my coronation.

The Minor Pillar Edicts [go up]


Twenty years after his coronation, Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, visited this place and worshipped because here the Buddha, the sage of the Sakyans, was born.44 He had a stone figure and a pillar set up and because the Lord was born here, the village of Lumbini was exempted from tax and required to pay only one eighth of the produce.


Beloved-of-the-Gods commands:45 The Mahamatras at Kosambi (are to be told: Whoever splits the Sangha) which is now united, is not to be admitted into the Sangha. Whoever, whether monk or nun, splits the Sangha is to be made to wear white clothes and to reside somewhere other than in a monastery.46

Notes [go up]

1. Girnar version issued in 257 B.C. These fourteen edicts, with minor differences, are found in five different places throughout India. In two other places, they are found minus numbers 11, 12 and 13.

2. Girnar version, issued in 257 B.C.

3. The Cholas and Pandyas were south Indian peoples living outside Asoka’s empire. The Satiyaputras and Keralaputras lived on the southwest seaboard of India. Tamraparni is one of the ancient names for Sri Lanka. On Antiochos see Note 28.

4. By so doing, Asoka was following the advice given by the Buddha at Samyutta Nikaya, I:33.

5. Girnar version, issued in 257 B.C.

6. The exact duties of these royal officers are not known.

7. Girnar version, issued in 257 B.C.

8. This probably refers to the drum that was beaten to announce the punishment of lawbreakers. See Samyutta Nikaya, IV:244.

9. Like many people in the ancient world, Asoka believed that when a just king ruled, there would be many auspicious portents.

10. Kalsi version, issued in 256 B.C.

11. This seems to be a paraphrase of Dhammapada 163.

12. The Greeks (Yona) settled in large numbers in what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan after the conquests of Alexander the Great, although small communities lived there prior to this.

13. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

14. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

15. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

16. Bodh Gaya, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment, was known in ancient times as either Sambodhi or Vajirasana.

17. Kalsi version, issued in 256 B.C. Asoka obviously had the Mangala Sutta (Sutta Nipata 258-269) in mind when he issued this edict. The word here translated as ceremony is mangala.

18. Other versions substitute the following up to the end of the edict.

It has also been said: “Generosity is good.” But there is no gift or benefit like the gift of the Dhamma or benefit like the benefit of the Dhamma. There a friend, a well-wisher, a relative or a companion should encourage others thus on appropriate occasions: “This should be done, this is good, by doing this, one can attain heaven.” And what greater achievement is there than this, to attain heaven?

19. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

20. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

21. Similar to Dhammapada 354.

22. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

23. Asoka probably believed that the essentials (saravadi) of all religions were their ethical principles.

24. (Ta samavayo eva sadhu). This sentence is usually translated “Therefore concord is commendable.” Samavayo however comes from sam + ava + i, “to come together.”

25. Kalsi version, issued in 256 B.C. Kalinga corresponds roughly to the modern state of Orissa.

26. The Buddha pointed out that the four castes of Indian society likewise were not found among the Greeks; see Majjhima Nikaya, II:149.

27. Perhaps Asoka had in mind Dhammapada 103-104.

28. Antiochos II Theos of Syria (261-246 B.C.), Ptolemy II Philadelphos of Egypt (285-247 B.C.), Antigonos Gonatos of Macedonia (278-239 B.C.), Magas of Cyrene (300-258 B.C.) and Alexander of Epirus (272-258 B.C.).

29. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

30. Dhauli version, issued in 256 B.C. These two edicts are found in two different places.

31. Dhauli version, issued in 256 B.C.

32. This is reminiscent of the Buddha’s words: “Just as a mother would protect her only child even at the risk of her own life, even so, let one cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings.” Sutta Nipata 149.

33. Gavimath version, issued in 257 B.C. This edict is found in twelve different places.

34. First Asoka was a lay-disciple (upasaka) and then he visited or literally “went to the Sangha” (yam me samghe upeti). Some scholars think this means that Asoka became a monk. However it probably means that he started visiting Buddhist monks more often and listening to their instructions more carefully.

35. Brahmagiri version.

36. This edict was found inscribed on a small rock near the town of Bairat and is now housed at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta. Its date is not known.

37. This sentence is the converse of a similar one in the Tipitaka: “…that which is well-spoken is the words of the Lord.” Anguttara Nikaya, IV:164.

38. There is disagreement amongst scholars concerning which Pali suttas correspond to some of the text. Vinaya samukose: probably the Atthavasa Vagga, Anguttara Nikaya, 1:98-100. Aliya vasani: either the Ariyavasa Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, V:29, or the Ariyavamsa Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, II: 27-28. Anagata bhayani: probably the Anagata Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, III:100. Muni gatha: Muni Sutta, Sutta Nipata 207-221. Upatisa pasine: Sariputta Sutta, Sutta Nipata 955-975. Laghulavade: Rahulavada Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, I:421.

39. The following seven edicts are from the Delhi Topra version, the first six being issued in 243 B.C. and the seventh in 242 B.C. The first six edicts also appear on five other pillars.

40. Cakhu dane. The meaning is unclear. It may mean that Asoka has given “the eye of wisdom,” but taking into account the context, it more likely means he has stopped blinding as a form of punishment.

41. Similar to the ideas expressed by the Buddha in Dhammapada 50 and 252.

42. The identification of many of these animals is conjectural.

43. The Ajivikas were a sect of ascetics in ancient India established by Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary of the Buddha. The Niganthas are the Jains.

44. This inscription is found on a pillar in Lumbini where the Buddha was born. It was issued in 249 B.C., probably at the time of Asoka’s visit to the place.

45. Allahabad version, date of issue not known. The words in brackets are missing due to damage on the pillar, but they can be reconstructed from the three other versions of this edict.

46. The white clothes of the lay followers rather than the yellow robe of a monk or nun.

Bibliography [go up]

D. R. Bhandarkar, Asoka. Calcutta, 1955

R. Mookerji, Asoka. Delhi, 1962

A. Sen, Asoka’s Edicts. Calcutta, 1956

A. Seneviratna (editor), King Asoka and Buddhism. Kandy. Scheduled for 1993.

D. C. Sircar, Inscriptions of Asoka. Delhi, 1957

The Buddhist Publication Society is an approved charity dedicated to making known the Teaching of the Buddha, which has a vital message for people of all creeds.

Founded in 1958, the BPS has published a wide variety of books and booklets covering a great range of topics. Its publications include accurate annotated translations of the Buddha’s discourses, standard reference works, as well as original contemporary expositions of Buddhist thought and practice. These works present Buddhism as it truly is — a dynamic force which has influenced receptive minds for the past 2500 years and is still as relevant today as it was when it first arose.

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01-12-2007-Spiritual Community of The Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One-Frequently Asked Questions About Buddhism by -Buddhist doctrine and terminology: What is Theravada Buddhism?
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Spiritual Community of The Followers of The Path Shown by The Awakened One

Frequently Asked Questions About Buddhism by

John Bullitt

Over the years I’ve received scores of e-mail queries from people seeking answers to basic questions about Buddhism. Here are my answers to some of the most common ones. These answers reflect my own opinions and interpretations and in no way represent a “definitive” Theravada Buddhist point of view. My hope is that these answers, along with the accompanying links and references to suttas and other texts, will serve as useful hints to steer you towards finding answers of your own.

Buddhist doctrine and terminology: What is Theravada Buddhism?

Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy?

Is Vipassana the same as Theravada?

If we’re all reborn when we die, how does Buddhism explain the world’s increasing population?

If there’s no self, then who gets enlightened?/what gets reborn?/why…?

I hear the word “sangha” used a lot these days in Buddhist circles. What does it really mean? What’s the difference between a Buddha and an arahant?

Have there been other Buddhas?

What’s a “Private Buddha” (paccekabuddha)? Who is Maitreya (Metteyya)?

Practical Buddhism:

How can I find other people with whom to study Dhamma and practice meditation?

There are no meditation centers or other Dhamma students nearby. Can I study Dhamma on my own?

I want to become a Buddhist. How do I do that?

I’d like to have a Buddhist wedding. Any suggestions?

What were the Buddha’s views on divorce? I’d like to arrange a Buddhist funeral. Any suggestions?

What were the Buddha’s views on homosexuality? What were the Buddha’s views on abortion? How should I teach Buddhism to my children? Are Buddhists vegetarian?

Are there any enlightened people in the world nowadays? How can I tell who’s really enlightened?

What are some good beginning books on Buddhism? Where can I find a copy of the complete Pali canon (Tipitaka)?


What’s the relationship between “dana” and “fundraising”?

Is there anything wrong with selling Dhamma books? What’s the big deal about giving them away free of charge?

Buddhist doctrine and terminology Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy?

The Buddha referred to his teachings simply as Dhamma-vinaya — “the doctrine and discipline” — but for centuries people have tried to categorize the teachings in various ways, trying to fit them into the prevailing molds of cultural, philosophical, and religious thought. Buddhism is an ethical system — a way of life — that leads to a very specific goal and that possesses some aspects of both religion and philosophy:

It is a philosophy. Like most philosophies, Buddhism attempts to frame the complexities of human existence in a way that reassures us that there is, in fact, some underlying order to the Universe. In the Four Noble Truths the Buddha crisply summarizes our predicament: there is suffering, it has a cause, it has an end, and there is a way to reach the end. The teachings on kamma provide a thorough and logically self-consistent description of the nature of cause-and-effect. And even the Buddhist view of cosmology, which some may at first find farfetched, is a logical extension of the law of kamma. According to the Dhamma, a deep and unshakable logic pervades the world. It is not a philosophy. Unlike most philosophical systems, which rely on speculation and the power of reason to arrive at logical truths, Buddhism relies on the direct observation of one’s personal experience and on honing certain skills in order to gain true understanding and wisdom. Idle speculation has no place in Buddhist practice. Although studying in the classroom, reading books, and engaging in spirited debate can play a vital part in developing a cognitive understanding of basic Buddhist concepts, the heart of Buddhism can never be realized this way. The Dhamma is not an abstract system of thought designed to delight the intellect; it is a roadmap to be used, one whose essential purpose is to lead the practitioner to the ultimate goal, nibbana. It is a religion. At the heart of each of the world’s great religions lies a transcendent ideal around which its doctrinal principles orbit. In Buddhism this truth is nibbana, the hallmark of the cessation of suffering and stress, a truth of utter transcendence that stands in singular distinction from anything we might encounter in our ordinary sensory experience. Nibbana is the sine qua non of Buddhism, the guiding star and ultimate goal towards which all the Buddha’s teachings point. Because it aims at such a lofty transcendent ideal, we might fairly call Buddhism a religion. It is not a religion. In stark contrast to the world’s other major religions, however, Buddhism invokes no divinity, no supreme Creator or supreme Self, no Holy Spirit or omniscient loving God to whom we might appeal for salvation.1 Instead, Buddhism calls for us to hoist ourselves up by our own bootstraps: to develop the discernment we need to distinguish between those qualities within us that are unwholesome and those that are truly noble and good, and to learn how to nourish the good ones and expunge the bad. This is the path to Buddhism’s highest perfection, nibbana. Not even the Buddha can take you to that goal; you alone must do the work necessary to complete the journey: “Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.”

— DN 16

Despite its non-theistic nature, however, Buddhist practice does call for a certain kind of faith. It is not blind faith, an uncritical acceptance of the Buddha’s word as transmitted through scripture. Instead it is saddha, a confidence born of taking refuge in the Triple Gem; it is a willingness to trust that the Dhamma, when practiced diligently, will lead to the rewards promised by the Buddha. Saddha is a provisional acceptance of the teachings, that is ever subject to critical evaluation during the course of one’s practice, and which must be balanced by one’s growing powers of discernment. For many Buddhists, this faith is expressed and reinforced through traditional devotional practices, such as bowing before a Buddha statue and reciting passages from the early Pali texts. Despite a superficial resemblance to the rites of many theistic religions, however, these activities are neither prayers nor pleas for salvation directed towards a transcendent Other. They are instead useful and inspiring gestures of humility and respect for the profound nobility and worth of the Triple Gem.


1. According to Buddhist cosmology, every living being dwells in one of thirty-one distinct “planes,” of which our familiar human plane is but one. Some of these realms are home to beings (the devas) with unusual powers and extraordinarily subtle and refined physical bodies — or even no body at all. Their god-like status is, however, short-lived; like all living beings, they are mortal and ultimately subject to death and rebirth in other planes according to the purity and skillfulness of their actions (kamma). One of these devas, the Great Brahma, is so clouded by his own delusion that he believes himself to be the all-powerful, all-seeing creator of the universe (see DN 11).

See also:

“The Dhamma: Is it a Philosophy?” in Buddhism in a Nutshell, by Narada Thera “Is it a Religion?” in Buddhism in a Nutshell, by Narada Thera “Two Faces of the Dhamma,” by Bhikkhu Bodhi “The Five Spiritual Faculties,” by Bhikkhu Bodhi “Opening the Door to the Dhamma: Respect in Buddhist Thought & Practice,” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. “The Road to Nirvana is Paved with Skillful Intentions,” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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30-11-2007-Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-Chief Secretary’s meeting with Planning Commission Member held -A compromise formula-Without the Poona Pact, for example, the Bahujan Samaj Party would not have come to power in the last elections in Uttar Pradesh.-‘Caste discrimination cause of suicide’ -Untouchability finds new forms -UP Government to reward Rudra Pratap Singh -Former U.P. Chief Secretary arrested
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Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay

Chief Secretary’s meeting with Planning Commission Member held

New Delhi : September 25, 2007 A high-level meeting between the U.P. Chief Secretary, Mr. Prashant Kumar Mishra and Planning Commission Member, Mr. B.K. Chaturvedi was held here today. After detailed discussions on the size of the annual plan of the State for the year 2007-08, plan size of Rs. 25 thousand crore was approved. This amount is Rs. 6,000 crore more than the last year’s size, which was Rs. 19000 crore. The Chief Secretary apprised of the Planning Commission about the efforts being made by the U.P. Government to make it the frontline State of the country. He said that considering the limited resources available to the state, the Centre should increase its contribution and provide necessary assistance. The Planning Commission appreciated the efforts of the State Government regarding the development and assured that necessary facilities and resources would be provided to the State. During the meeting, Mr. Mishra said that 10 per cent growth rate was being targeted for the 11th Five Year Plan and arrangements were being made for the necessary investments to achieve it. Besides, agriculture sector had been accorded top priority, so that the income of the farmers could be doubled. Moreover, electrification of all the villages of the State was also being targeted during the plan period. The State Government was also targeting to link all the bastis having a population of more than 500 people with the metalled roads, he said. It was agreed upon at the meeting that the number of families subsisting below the poverty line should be brought down to 15 per cent and create employment opportunities for 120 lakh people. It was also agreed upon that the State Government would seek more and more cooperation of the private sector for the development of energy, irrigation and transport sectors and priority would be accorded to these sectors. Mr. Mishra said that it was the top priority of the State Government to provide basic amenities to the people and ensure all round and uniform development of poor, deprived and all other sections of the State and to achieve this target the Centre should provide more and more assistance. The Chief Secretary informed at the meeting that the Government was making all possible efforts to ensure State’s development through its own resources to achieve the 10 per cent growth rate during the 11th Five Year Plan. He said that the State Government had set up Infrastructure Development Department for the development of infrastructure facilities. Through this department, participation of private sector was being focused to accelerate the pace of development of basic facilities in all areas. He said that during this small span of time, schemes worth almost Rs. 50,000 crore had been identified with the cooperation of private sector. The development of sectors like energy, agriculture, road, infrastructure, transport and urban regeneration was the top priority and commitment of the State Government. The schemes to be conducted with the cooperation of private sector included urban regeneration master plan for Lucknow, power generation, 300-500 bed multi-speciality hospital, airports T.I.A.H., Kushinagar and a network of 2600 km. long world class express-way. Mr. Mishra informed during the meeting that the State Government had decided to give shape to an ambitious project with the cooperation of the private sector. Almost 1000 km. long Ganga express-way would be constructed at the left bank of the river. This 8-lane express-way would connect Ballia with NOIDA and it would cost Rs. 28,000 crore. It would help in removing regional imbalances on one hand, while on the other it would ensure all-round development of the backward areas. The selection procedure of the Rs. 44,000 crore schemes to be conducted with the cooperation of the private sector was under progress. It included express-way, multi-super speciality hospital, Taj International Aviation Hub and urban regeneration projects of Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra and other district headquarters. The Chief Secretary said that power was one of the top priorities of the State Government. Several ambitious steps had been taken for the energy programmes of the State, besides rural electrification. He said that the State required 8200-8500 MW of power during the peak hours, while only 6200-6500 MW of power was available through all the resources at present. Thus, there was a gap of 2000-2500 MW of power during the peak hours. He said that there was a need of 10,150 MW of power generation in the State sector during the 11th Five Year Plan. Under it, there was a need of 2000 MW of power generation under the government sector, 2920 MW in joint sector and 5230 MW in private sector. Mr. Mishra pointed out that heavy investment was required for streamlining power generation, transmission and distribution system of the State. Giving information regarding work plan to be implemented by the State Government for the purpose, he said that work had started on the 2000 MW Thermal Power Project. The power generation work of the 1320 MW project jointly set up with the N.T.P.C. was in the final stages. Besides, work was in progress for setting up 2×800 MW Super Power Critical Thermal Power Station jointly with the help of B.H.E.L. Mr. Mishra said that two 765 M.B.A. transmission sub centres have been proposed in the 11th Plan. Ten Proposals having the capacity of 3,300 MW thermal power stations had been received for setting up in private sector. Necessary investment would be made for preventing the power theft and checking the line losses in rural and urban areas. He further said that Government was committed for providing better services to consumers. He said that 62 collection based franchisee were working for electricity billing and revenue realisation work in rural areas and 400 franchisee had been proposed for work in 28,000 villages till March, 2008. The state government was also committed for appointment of minimum one input based franchisee in each district, he added. Keeping in view the new reforms in agriculture sector, strategy had been chalked out for training of farmers, besides soil testing, availability of seeds and fertilisers, balanced use of fertilisers. Under the strategy for ensuring the enough agriculture inputs and its timely availability cooperation of private sector would be sought, besides giving encouragement to private sector participation in agri-based industries, food processing industry, extension services and distribution system. Efforts were being made for extension of agriculture sector and increase in productivity through qualitative production, besides ensuring the cost effective, competitive and remunerative prices of agriculture products to farmers by proper arrangement of distribution and developing a major market. Likewise, special efforts would be given to industrialisation, fisheries, sericulture, animal husbandry and dairy sectors. For providing technical know how and other useful information to farmers a plan had been made with the cooperation of private sector, Chief Secretary said. The chief secretary told meeting that state government had increased the target of fruits, vegetables and potato areas from 30.52 lakh hectare to 44.12 lakh hectare, fisheries from 3.07 lakh to 5.32 lakh metric ton, fish productivity target would be increased from 2,850 kilo hectare to 3800 kilo hectare every year. Under sericulture the area would be increased from 2372 acre to 3954 acre and silk production target would be increased from 30.87 m.ton to 97.90 m.ton. Milk production would be increased from 180.9 lakh m.ton to 294.5 lakh m.ton, meat production from 2002.3 lakh kilo to 3224.7 lakh kilo and egg production target would be increased from 813.5 crore to 1309.05 crore. The chief secretary said that under 11th Plan, Ban Sagar canal, Saryu canal, Rajghat canal, Purvi Ganga canal, Tehari Dam, Jarauli Pump canal, Agra canal modernisation, C.C.S., Lehchura Dam and increase in Hardoi branch irrigation capacity projects were going on due to which 4.15 lakh hectare irrigation capacity would be created. Besides, thirteen new projects-Kanhar irrigation project, HathniKund link channel-II, Sharda Sahayak S.T.-II, Punch Nad Dam, Virat Sagar, Arjun Sahayak, Kachnuda Dam, Madhya Ganga S.T.-II, Bandayu irrigation project, Bharaut Dam, Utari Dam, modernisation of Agra irrigation S.T.-II and Shesh Sharda Sahayak canal system completion would create 10.05 lakh hectare additional irrigation capacity. Mr. Mishra said that under the 11th five-year plan 7,000 new primary schools would be opened. Likewise, during the plan period 70,000 new additional class-rooms, construction of 145 lakh schools boundary walls, appointment of 7000 Shiksha mitra, arrangement of computers and B.R.C. in 51,000 junior high schools, besides the appointment of 1.25 lakh teachers would be made for which new junior high schools would be opened this year. In the year of 2007-08, 31,535 new additional class room, construction of 10,126 lakh schools boundary walls, appointment of 813 shiksha mitras, arrangement of computers and B.R.C. in 1025 junior high schools, besides the appointment of 88,000 teachers had been proposed. Giving the information regarding the efforts in medical and public health sector, the chief secretary said that arrangement of 100-bed would be made in 7 district hospitals, besides the proposal of 770 social franchisee hospitals constructions. 1442 C.H.Cs. and P.H.Cs. buildings would be constructed. The state government had made an arrangement of Rs. 1500 crore for opening five new medical colleges and Rs. 180 crore for opening 12 para medical institutions. For urban malin bastis 153 medical posts would be created. Medical insurance arrangement had been made for the families living below the poverty line in selected districts. Appointment of 1608 medical officers had been made with a view of strengthening the human resource and development of technique. The chief secretary said that in year of 2007-2008 under the road and bridge construction the state government needs Rs. 750 crore for state highway, main district roads and other districts roads construction, Rs. 700 crore for state road project-II, Rs. 35 crore for flyovers, railway over bridge and under head bridge, Rs. 80.70 crore for construction and renovation of bridges and small bridges, Rs. 562.32 crore for renovation of rural roads and Rs. 70.06 crore for traffic security and research works. In year of 2007-08 the target has been fixed for construction of 1500 k.m. state highway and strengthening of main district roads and other districts roads, construction of 700 k.m. roads, under state road project-II, 6 flyover, railway over bridge/under head bridge construction, 70 new big and small bridges construction, 6500 k.m. new rural road construction, besides 5600 k.m. rural roads reconstruction. ********


A compromise formula

Hindustan Times - India - by Ramachandra Guha - September 23, 2007

Seventy-five years ago this week, the poet Rabindranath Tagore travelled across India to visit a friend in prison. This was Mahatma Gandhi who, on September 20, 1932, had begun a fast-unto-death in protest against the decision by the colonial government to award separate electorates to the Depressed Classes (as the Original Inhabitants of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs)were then known).

Already, Muslim representatives to the provincial assemblies were chosen by Muslims alone; now, the British proposed to grant the same concession to the Untouchables as well.

Some commentators saw Gandhi’s opposition to separate electorates as principled. From his early years in South Africa, Gandhi had held untouchability to be a sin against humanity, and against Hinduism. When launching the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920, he had insisted that the abolition of untouchability was a precondition for the attainment of swaraj. Those who so grossly oppressed a section of their own society, he said, had no business claiming that they should themselves be ‘liberated’ from foreign rule.

Other Indians were less inclined to give Gandhi the benefit of the doubt. His prime aim, they argued, was to keep Untouchables within the Hindu fold, for which he was willing to grant them some privileges, but not really rights. These critics pointed to his hesitancy in encouraging inter-dining and inter-marriage among different castes.

In 1932, the leading Indian critic of Gandhi’s views was the great lawyer-economist B.R. Ambedkar. Himself born into an Untouchable caste, Ambedkar was convinced that to look to upper-caste reformers for succour was to court disaster. The Depressed Classes had to fend for themselves; however, if they found themselves in need of a patron, they could more easily trust the British Raj than Gandhi’s Congress party. At least the former were not bound by caste prejudice.

In September-October 1932, Gandhi and Ambedkar were both in London, attending the Second Round Table Conference. Here, Ambedkar argued that it was imperative that “the Depressed Classes are going to be recognised as a community entitled to political recognition in the future constitution of India”. In the new legislatures, which were to be based on election rather than nomination, the Depressed Classes should be allotted seats in proportion to their share in the population. As with the Muslims, said Ambedkar, these representatives must be chosen by the Depressed Classes alone.

Ambedkar’s arguments were contested by Gandhi in the Round Table Conference, as well as in other speeches he made in the United Kingdom. Addressing the Indian Students’ Majlis in London in the first week of November 1931, Gandhi insisted that “separate electorates to the ‘Untouchables’ will ensure them bondage in perpetuity. The Musalmans will never cease to be Musalmans by having separate electorates. Do you want the ‘Untouchables’ to remain untouchables for ever? Well, the separate electorates will perpetuate the stigma… Look at the history of Europe. Have you got separate electorates for the working class or women? With adult franchise, you give the ‘Untouchables’ complete security. Even the orthodox Hindus would have to approach them for votes”.The Conference ended, inconclusively. Meanwhile, back in India, the hardliner Lord Willingdon had been appointed the new Viceroy. On Willingdon’s orders, Gandhi was arrested upon his return, and sent off to Poona’s Yeravada Jail.

On August 17, 1932, the Indian papers announced that the British government had endorsed separate electorates for Untouchables. From his prison cell, Gandhi announced that he would go on a fast against the decision. He thereby hoped not only to stop separate electorates, but also to awaken Hindus to their own ill-treatment of Untouchables. As he put it in a statement to the press, “The problem before responsible Hindus is to consider whether in the event of social, civic or political persecution of the ‘depressed’ classes, they are prepared to face satyagraha in the shape of perpetual fast, not of one reformer like me, but [of] an increasing army of reformers… who will count their lives of no cost to achieve the liberation of these classes and thereby rid Hinduism of an age-long superstition.”

This statement was issued on September 16; four days later, Gandhi commenced his fast. Just before he had his last meal, he received a message of support from Rabindranath Tagore. The poet felt “certain that the supreme appeal of such self-offering to the conscience of our countrymen will not be in vain. Our sorrowing hearts will follow your sublime penance with reverence and love”.

Tagore was speaking here for many of his countrymen, but not all. Ambedkar, for instance, did not follow Gandhi’s fast with ‘reverence and love’ but, rather, with dismay and disenchantment. He felt coerced by Gandhi’s actions, a feeling that intensified when friends and critics alike urged him to drop his demand for separate electorates and thus save the Mahatma’s life. The threat was real; as the historian B.R. Nanda reports, a board of doctors who examined Gandhi said that they were “definitively of the opinion that his condition portended entry into the danger zone”.

Relenting, Ambedkar went to Yeravada to meet Gandhi. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, other leaders were working towards a compromise. This asked Ambedkar to drop his demand for separate electorates; in return, the Depressed Classes would get more seats. (One of the mediators was the great spin bowler from a Original Inhabitants of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs) background, Palwankar Baloo.) After some hard negotiation, the two sides agreed upon the terms of a pact, in which the Depressed Classes would get 148 seats in the provincial legislatures, as against the 71 allotted to them by the British. But they would vote together with caste Hindus.

This ‘Poona Pact’ was approved by Gandhi, and also by the British. Tagore now came to Poona from Bengal to offer his friend a glass of orange juice, and to sing him some verses from Gitanjali. Thus ended what Gandhi’s secretary and biographer Pyarelal called (in a book of that title) ‘The Epic Fast’. Although the fast lasted only a few days, it was truly epic in its consequences. The format it proposed, of an expanded reservation for Depressed Classes within a joint electorate, was later adopted by the Constitution of India, and still forms part of our electoral process today.
Without the Poona Pact, for example, the Bahujan Samaj Party would not have come to power in the last elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The Poona Pact was a genuine compromise, an agreement in which neither party got what they initially wanted. T
he Congress, and Gandhi, wanted universal adult franchise for all Indians, but with no reservation of seats for any particular group. Some Dalit leaders, notably Ambedkar, wanted separate electorates altogether, in which the Depressed Classes would vote apart from caste Hindus.

Ironically, the via media finally arrived at was similar to one proposed by Ambedkar in a submission to the Simon Commission in 1928. There, he had opposed the granting of special privileges to Muslims; as he put it, “the separate or special interests of any minority are better promoted by the system of general electorates and reserved seats than by separate electorates”.

History has vindicated the Ambedkar of 1928, rather than the Ambedkar of 1931-32. Separate electorates would have further stigmatised and ghettoised the Dalits. On the other hand, not to have any reservation at all would merely have consolidated upper-caste dominance. What we finally got, general electorates with reserved seats, has allowed the Dalits to have a profound influence in all constituencies, while ensuring that their own representation in legislatures and in Parliament does not fall below their proportion in the population.


Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Wednesday, September 26, 2007


‘Caste discrimination cause of suicide’

Special Correspondent

‘Anti-Dalit attitude’ led to IISc student’s extreme step, say parents and SSD

SSD inquiry found that some professors were harassing Original Inhabitants of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs) students

IISc denies discrimination and says independent report is due

Bangalore: The suicide of Ajay Srichandra, a Ph.D. student of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on July 28, was a result of caste-related harassment, the Original Inhabitant of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC)  boy’s parents and members of Samata Sainik Dal (SSD) have alleged.


Speaking to presspersons here on Tuesday, M. Venkataswamy, President of SSD, said that they would hold a protest in front of IISc on September 28 against the “anti-Original Inhabitants of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs)  attitude” of some professors in the institution. Mr. Venkataswamy said that Ajay, a student of integrated Ph.D., had not committed suicide in his hostel room due to depression as made out by the police. Members of SSD had conducted an independent inquiry and found that some professors of IISc were harassing and discriminating against Dalit students, he added. B. Chennakrishnappa, Bangalore District President of SSD, said that other students were in the know about it but were not willing to openly admit it.


Ajay’s father Ravindra Kumar, who was also at the press conference, alleged that his son’s suicide note had been tampered with. “I was first told that my son had written a suicide note running to two or three pages. But some pages had been removed by the time I reached here from Hyderabad,” he alleged. SSD has demanded that criminal cases be booked against professors and an independent inquiry conducted into the case by University Grants Commission.


An official at IISc told The Hindu that “there appears to be no harassment of any kind”. The institute has formed a committee to look into the matter, the official said. “A committee was formed immediately after the death of the student. The independent report should be coming through in a few days.”


Untouchability finds new forms


Bageshree S.


Bangalore: The appalling practice of untouchability seems to only assume new and less obvious forms after it is exposed and causes public outrage. The situation in Kadkol village of Basavanabagewadi taluk in Bijapur district, where 80 Original Inhabitant of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs) families were imposed social and economic boycott by Invaders and Their Slaves on July 25, 2006 for daring to draw water from a tank till then reserved for Invaders and Their Slaves , is a case in point.


According to Chalavadi Ramanna of Karnataka Mula Asprushyara Manava Hakkugala Rakshana Vedike, the tank which is at the centre of the controversy, is now not barred to Original Inhabitants of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs). However, in a strange reversal, it is shunned by Invaders and Their Slaves  who allegedly spare no opportunity to pollute it. They routinely leave their cattle to splash around in the tank, which is a source of drinking water, he alleges.


What is even more shocking is that one year and two months after the incident was reported, the authorities are yet to book anyone for practising untouchability and imposing boycott. “The police say it has to be handled by the Civil Rights Enforcement Cell. The cell says that it does not have adequate staff to conduct an inquiry and the police should do it,” says Mr. Ramanna. “As a result, those responsible for the act, including a member of the taluk panchayat and president of Gram Panchayat, are walking free,” he said.


In the meanwhile, the practice of untouchability, banned by the Constitution, continues in various forms. A local Invader’s Slaves  will not give a Original Inhabitant of The Great Prabuddha Bharath (SC/STs) a haircut. “This is not typical of Kadkol. This is the most normal thing in many villages in north Karnataka,” says Mr. Ramanna.


The demands put forward by Karnataka Mula Asprushyara Manava Hakkugala Rakshana Vedike for rehabilitation of the 80-odd families which faced boycott are yet to be fulfilled, barring the demand for housing. Seventy-three people have been identified for giving housing sites. Local political and Invaders and Their Slaves interests, Mr. Ramanna alleges, diverted the loans sanctioned meant for victims to those who did not face social boycott. The other demands, including sanction of lands and creating job opportunities, are not even under consideration at the moment.


The vedike submitted a memorandum with nine demands to the Deputy Commissioner on October 10, 2006.


“The Government has an obligation to rehabilitate people who face social boycott under sections of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, which was enacted in 1955. The sad part is even the victims of atrocities are often not aware of this,” says Mr. Ramanna.

UP Government to reward Rudra Pratap Singh

Special Correspondent


To get the first Kanshi Ram International Sports Award


LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Tuesday announced a cash award of Rs.10 lakh for Rudra Pratap Singh, member of the Indian cricket team that won the inaugural T20 World Cup in Johannesburg in South Africa on Monday.


Singh, who hails from Rae Bareli, will be the first recipient of the Manyavar Kanshi Ram International Sports Award. The award was instituted on Tuesday.


Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Shailesh Krishna told newspersons that the award would be given to Singh by the Chief Minister on an appropriate date. He said the Rae Bareli lad made a significant contribution towards India’s victory over Pakistan in the final.

Mr. Krishna said the International Sports Award would be given to Uttar Pradesh sportsmen in different categories, adding that the recipient has to be a resident of the State. Gold medal winners in individual events in the Olympics would be given a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakh, silver medal winners, Rs 20 lakh and Rs. 15 lakh to bronze medal winners. The prize money for Commonwealth, Afro-Asian and Asian Games in individual events will be Rs. 15 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs. 8 lakh respectively.

The prize money for gold medal winners in Olympic team events will be Rs 15 lakh, Rs 12 lakh for silver medal winners and Rs. 10 lakh for bronze medal winners.


The cash award for team events in Commonwealth, Afro-Asian and Asian games would be Rs. 10, Rs. 8 and Rs. 6 lakh respectively, Mr. Krishna added.


Former U.P. Chief Secretary arrested

Special Correspondent


NEW DELHI: Two years after registering a disproportionate assets case against him, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday arrested the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary, Akhand Pratap Singh, on the charge that he had amassed wealth through corrupt means.

Mr. Singh, a 1967 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, retired as the Chief Secretary in December 2003. He was arrested from his Vasant Kunj farm house in south Delhi.


Case registered in 2005


The CBI registered a case against him on March 22, 2005 and carried out searches at three places in Delhi, seven places in Lucknow, two places in Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh) and four places in Nainital (Uttarakhand).


According to the FIR lodged by the CBI, the accused held various sensitive positions in the Uttar Pradesh government and also at the Centre.


He is accused of acquiring huge property in his name and in the name of his family members and others, besides possessing a ‘benami’ fleet of vehicles.


The CBI alleged that he was leading a life of extravagance and spent enormous amount on the education and marriage of his two daughters.

He had also stashed his ill-gotten earnings in overseas banks and made several private trips abroad, it was claimed.


Over 100 bank accounts, having huge deposits, were also unearthed besides large investments in shares, debentures and luxurious vehicles, the central investigating agency said.

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29-11-2007-Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-NEWS ON PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE-A compromise formula-Without the Poona Pact, for example, the Bahujan Samaj Party would not have come to power in the last elections in Uttar Pradesh. The Poona Pact was a genuine compromise, an agreement in which neither party got what they initially -Uttar Pradesh announces award for R.P. Singh-‘Caste discrimination cause of suicide’ -Untouchability finds new forms -Former U.P. Chief Secretary arrested -Chief Secretary’s meeting with Planning Commission Member held
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Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay

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28-11-2007-The Awakened One-transmigrating & wandering-The Round of Rebirth
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The Awakened One

A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life

Readings from the Pali Canon

Readings from the Pali Canon

Theravada Buddhism

A Chronology

SN 56.11

first discourse

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

Translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Four Noble Truths

course of birth and death

The Round of Rebirth

transmigrating & wandering

The Awakened One

A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life

Readings from the Pali Canon

Readings from the Pali Canon

Theravada Buddhism

A Chronology

SN 56.11

first discourse

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion

Translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Four Noble Truths

course of birth and death

The Round of Rebirth

transmigrating & wandering

The Round of Rebirth


An ocean of tears

“Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?… This is the greater: the tears you have shed…

“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father… the death of a brother… the death of a sister… the death of a son… the death of a daughter… loss with regard to relatives… loss with regard to wealth… loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

“Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.”

SN 15.3

This precious human birth

“Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?”

“It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole.”

“It’s likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It’s likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It’s likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

“Therefore your duty is the contemplation: ‘This is stressThis is the origination of stressThis is the cessation of stressThis is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’”

SN 56.48

Why do we wander in samsara?

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating four things that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you & I. Which four?

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble virtue that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you & I.

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble concentration that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you & I.

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble discernment that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you & I.

“It’s because of not understanding and not penetrating noble release that we have wandered & transmigrated on such a long, long time, you & I.

“But when noble virtue is understood & penetrated, when noble concentration… noble discernment… noble release is understood & penetrated, then craving for becoming is destroyed, the guide to becoming (craving & attachment) is ended, there is now no further becoming.”

AN 4.1

27-11-2007-The True Teachings of The Awakened One-Dhamma-right view
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The True Teachings of The Awakened One

What is Theravada Buddhism?


John Bullitt





Right Concentration

samma Samadhi

The Fourth Noble Truth

The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of dukkha

dukkha nirodha gamini patipada ariya sacca

The Noble Eightfold Path

The Way to the End of Suffering


Bhikkhu Bodhi

right view

Translated from the Pali by

Bhikkhu Ñanamoli


The Translator [go up]

Bhikkhu Ñanamoli was born in England in 1905 and graduated from Exeter College, Oxford. In 1948 he came to Sri Lanka, where he was ordained the following year at the Island Hermitage near Dodanduwa. During his 11 years in the Sangha Ven. Ñanamoli translated into lucid English some of the most difficult texts of Theravada Buddhism. In 1960, on one of his rare outings from the Hermitage, he suddenly passed away due to heart failure.

The Editor [go up]

Bhikkhu Bodhi is a Buddhist monk of American nationality, born in New York City in 1944. After completing a doctorate in philosophy at Claremont Graduate School, he came to Sri Lanka in 1972, and was ordained the same year under the eminent scholar-monk, Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya. Since 1984 he has been Editor for the Buddhist Publication Society, and its President since 1988.

* * *

Bhikkhus, just as the dawn is the forerunner and first indication of the rising of the sun, so is right view the forerunner and first indication of wholesome states.

For one of right view, bhikkhus, right intention springs up. For one of right intention, right speech springs up. For one of right speech, right action springs up. For one of right action, right livelihood springs up. For one of right livelihood, right effort springs up. For one of right effort, right mindfulness springs up. For one of right mindfulness, right concentration springs up. For one of right concentration, right knowledge springs up. For one of right knowledge, right deliverance springs up.

Anguttara Nikaya 10:121

Introduction [go up]

The Sammaditthi Sutta, the Discourse on Right View, is the ninth sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya, the Collection of Middle Length Discourses. Its expositor is the Venerable Sariputta Thera, the Buddha’s chief disciple and the foremost of the Master’s bhikkhu disciples in the exercise of the faculty of wisdom. The Buddha declared that next to himself, it was the Venerable Sariputta who excelled in turning the incomparable Wheel of the Dhamma, in expounding in depth and in detail the Four Noble Truths realized with the attainment of enlightenment. In the Sammaditthi Sutta the great disciple bears ample testimony to the Buddha’s words of praise, bequeathing upon us a discourse that has served as a primer of Buddhist doctrine for generations of monks in the monasteries of South and Southeast Asia.

As its title suggests, the subject of the Sammaditthi Sutta is right view. The analysis of right view undertaken in the sutta brings us to the very core of the Dhamma, since right view constitutes the correct understanding of the central teachings of the Buddha, the teachings which confer upon the Buddha’s doctrine its own unique and distinctive stamp. Though the practice of right mindfulness has rightly been extolled as the crest jewel of the Buddha’s teaching, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that the practice of mindfulness, or any other approach to meditation, only becomes an effective instrument of liberation to the extent that it is founded upon and guided by right view. Hence, to confirm the importance of right view, the Buddha places it at the very beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path. Elsewhere in the Suttas the Buddha calls right view the forerunner of the path (pubbangama), which gives direction and efficacy to the other seven path factors.

Right view, as explained in the commentary to the Sammaditthi Sutta, has a variety of aspects, but it might best be considered as twofold: conceptual right view, which is the intellectual grasp of the principles enunciated in the Buddha’s teaching, and experiential right view, which is the wisdom that arises by direct penetration of the teaching. Conceptual right view, also called the right view in conformity with the truths (saccanulomika-sammaditthi), is a correct conceptual understanding of the Dhamma arrived at by study of the Buddha’s teachings and deep examination of their meaning. Such understanding, though conceptual rather than experiential, is not dry and sterile. When rooted in faith in the Triple Gem and driven by a keen aspiration to realize the truth embedded in the formulated principles of the Dhamma, it serves as a critical phase in the development of wisdom (pañña), for it provides the germ out of which experiential right view gradually evolves.

Experiential right view is the penetration of the truth of the teaching in one’s own immediate experience. Thus it is also called right view that penetrates the truths (saccapativedha-sammaditthi). This type of right view is aroused by the practice of insight meditation guided by a correct conceptual understanding of the Dhamma. To arrive at direct penetration, one must begin with a correct conceptual grasp of the teaching and transform that grasp from intellectual comprehension to direct perception by cultivating the threefold training in morality, concentration and wisdom. If conceptual right view van be compared to a hand, a hand that grasps the truth by way of concepts, then experiential right view can be compared to an eye — the eye of wisdom that sees directly into the true nature of existence ordinarily hidden from us by our greed, aversion and delusion.

The Discourse on Right View is intended to elucidate the principles that are to be comprehended by conceptual right view and penetrated by experiential right view. The Venerable Sariputta expounds these principles under sixteen headings: the wholesome and the unwholesome, the four nutriments of life, the Four Noble Truths, the twelve factors of dependent arising, and the taints as the condition for ignorance. It will be noted that from the second section to the end of the sutta, all the expositions are framed in accordance with the same structure, which reveals the principle of conditionality as the scaffolding for the entire teaching. Each phenomenon to be comprehended by right view is expounded in terms of its individual nature, its arising, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. The grasp of this principle thus makes it clear that any entity taken for examination is not an isolated occurrence with its being locked up in itself, but part of a web of conditionally arisen processes that can be terminated by understanding and eliminating the cause that gives it being.

The right view arrived at by penetrating any of the sixteen subjects expounded in the sutta is discussed in terms of two aspects, both aspects of supramundane penetration. The first is the initial penetration of the supramundane path that transforms a person from a worldling (puthujjana) into a stream-enterer (sotapanna), a noble disciple who has entered irreversibly upon the stream to liberation. This aspect of right view is indicated by the words that open each section, “(one) who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma.” These qualities are attributes only of the stream-enterer and those of higher attainment along the path. The description thus applies to the trainee (sekha), the disciple who has entered the path but has not yet reached its end. The words signify right view as a transformative vision which has revealed the ultimate truths underlying our existence, but which must still be developed further to complete the full transformation it is capable of effecting.

The second aspect of supramundane right view is indicated by the closing words of each section, from “he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust” to “he here and now makes an end of suffering.” This description is fully applicable only to the arahant, the liberated one, and thus indicates that the right view conceptually grasped by the wise worldling, and transformed into direct perception with the attainment of stream-entry, reaches its consummation with the arrival at the teaching’s final goal, the attainment of complete emancipation from suffering.

* * *

The translation of the Sammaditthi Sutta and its commentary presented here has been adapted from manuscripts left behind by Bhikkhu Ñanamoli. The translation of the sutta has been adapted from Ven. Ñanamoli’s complete translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. The version used has been taken from the edition of the complete Majjhima Nikaya translation that I prepared for publication by Wisdom Publications in the United States. This version, tentatively scheduled for release in late 1992, employs extensive substitution of Ven. Ñanamoli’s own technical terminology with my own preferred renderings of Pali doctrinal terms.

The commentary to the Sammaditthi Sutta is from the Papañcasudani, Acariya Buddhaghosa’s complete commentary (atthakatha) to the Majjhima Nikaya. The translation of the commentary has also been adapted from a rendering by Ven. Ñanamoli, contained in a notebook of his that was discovered only a few years ago at Island Hermitage. The terminology used in the notebook version suggests that it was one of Ven. Ñanamoli’s earliest attempts at translation from the Pali; it certainly preceded his translation of the Visuddhimagga, The Path of Purification, first completed at the end of 1953. In adapting the translation, I have naturally replaced the technical terminology used in the notebook version with that used in the sutta. In places I also decided to translate directly from the Pali text rather than adhere to Ven. Ñanamoli’s rendering, which sometimes tended to be literal to the point of awkwardness. A few passages from the commentary that are concerned solely with linguistic clarification have been omitted from the translation.

Passages in the commentarial section enclosed in square brackets are taken from the subcommentary to the Sammaditthi Sutta, by Acariya Dhammapala. Passages in parenthesis are additions either by Ven. Ñanamoli or by myself. The paragraph numbering of the commentarial section follows that of the sutta. The phrases of the sutta that are selected for comment have been set in boldface [Not in this transcription — JTB]. The backnotes are entirely my own.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Part One: [go up]
The Discourse on Right View
(Sammaditthi Sutta)

1. Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Park. There the Venerable Sariputta addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Friends, bhikkhus.” — “Friend,” they replied. The Venerable Sariputta said this:

2. “‘One of right view, one of right view’ is said, friends. In what way is a noble disciple one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at this true Dhamma?”

“Indeed, friend, we would come from far away to learn from the Venerable Sariputta the meaning of this statement. It would be good if the Venerable Sariputta would explain the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”

“Then, friends, listen and attend closely to what I shall say.”

“Yes, friend,” the bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Sariputta said this:

The Wholesome and the Unwholesome

3. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands the unwholesome, the root of the unwholesome, the wholesome, and the root of the wholesome, in that way he is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

4. “And what, friends, is the unwholesome, what is the root of the unwholesome, what is the wholesome, what is the root of the wholesome? Killing living beings is unwholesome; taking what is not given is unwholesome; misconduct in sensual pleasures is unwholesome; false speech is unwholesome; malicious speech is unwholesome; harsh speech is unwholesome; gossip is unwholesome; covetousness is unwholesome; ill will is unwholesome; wrong view is unwholesome. This is called the unwholesome.

5. “And what is the root of the unwholesome? Greed is a root of the unwholesome; hate is a root of the unwholesome; delusion is a root of the unwholesome. This is called the root of the unwholesome.

6. “And what is the wholesome? Abstention from killing living beings is wholesome; abstention from taking what is not given is wholesome; abstention from misconduct in sensual pleasures is wholesome; abstention from false speech is wholesome; abstention from malicious speech is wholesome; abstention from harsh speech is wholesome; abstention from gossip is wholesome; non-covetousness is wholesome; non-ill will is wholesome; right view is wholesome. This is called the wholesome.

7. “And what is the root of the wholesome? Non-greed is a root of the wholesome; non-hate is a root of the wholesome; non-delusion is a root of the wholesome. This is called the root of the wholesome.

8. “When a noble disciple has thus understood the unwholesome, the root of the unwholesome, the wholesome, and the root of the wholesome, he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust, he abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion, he extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit ‘I am,’ and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


9. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

10. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands nutriment, the origin of nutriment, the cessation of nutriment, and the way leading to the cessation of nutriment, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

11. “And what is nutriment, what is the origin of nutriment, what is the cessation of nutriment, what is the way leading to the cessation of nutriment? There are these four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that already have come to be and for the support of those seeking a new existence. What four? They are physical food as nutriment, gross or subtle; contact as the second; mental volition as the third; and consciousness as the fourth. With the arising of craving there is the arising of nutriment. With the cessation of craving there is the cessation of nutriment. The way leading to the cessation of nutriment is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

12. “When a noble disciple has thus understood nutriment, the origin of nutriment, the cessation of nutriment, and the way leading to the cessation of nutriment, he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to greed, he abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion, he extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit ‘I am,’ and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”

The Four Noble Truths

13. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

14. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the way leading to the cessation of suffering, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

15. “And what is suffering, what is the origin of suffering, what is the cessation of suffering, what is the way leading to the cessation of suffering? Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; not to obtain what one wants is suffering; in short, the five aggregates affected by clinging are suffering. This is called suffering.

16. “And what is the origin of suffering? It is craving, which brings renewal of being, is accompanied by delight and lust, and delights in this and that; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for being and craving for non-being. This is called the origin of suffering.

17. “And what is the cessation of suffering? It is the remainderless fading away and ceasing, the giving up, relinquishing, letting go and rejecting of that same craving. This is called the cessation of suffering.

18. “And what is the way leading to the cessation of suffering? It is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration. This is called the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

19. “When a noble disciple has thus understood suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the way leading to the cessation of suffering… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”

Aging and Death

20. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

21. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands aging and death, the origin of aging and death, the cessation of aging and death, and the way leading to the cessation of aging and death, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

22. “And what is aging and death, what is the origin of aging and death, what is the cessation of aging and death, what is the way leading to the cessation of aging and death? The aging of beings in the various orders of beings, their old age, brokenness of teeth, grayness of hair, wrinkling of skin, decline of life, weakness of faculties — this is called aging. The passing of beings out of the various orders of beings, their passing away, dissolution, disappearance, dying, completion of time, dissolution of the aggregates, laying down of the body — this is called death. So this aging and this death are what is called aging and death. With the arising of birth there is the arising of aging and death. With the cessation of birth there is the cessation of aging and death. The way leading to the cessation of aging and death is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

23. “When a noble disciple has thus understood aging and death, the origin of aging and death, the cessation of aging and death, and the way leading to the cessation of aging and death… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


24. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

25. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands birth, the origin of birth, the cessation of birth, and the way leading to the cessation of birth, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

26. “And what is birth, what is the origin of birth, what is the cessation of birth, what is the way leading to the cessation of birth? The birth of beings into the various orders of beings, their coming to birth, precipitation [in a womb], generation, manifestation of the aggregates, obtaining the bases for contact — this is called birth. With the arising of being there is the arising of birth. With the cessation of being there is the cessation of birth. The way leading to the cessation of birth is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

27. “When a noble disciple has thus understood birth, the origin of birth, the cessation of birth, and the way leading to the cessation of birth… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


28. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

29. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands being, the origin of being, the cessation of being, and the way leading to the cessation of being, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

30. “And what is being, what is the origin of being, what is the cessation of being, what is the way leading to the cessation of being? There are these three kinds of being: sense-sphere being, fine-material being and immaterial being. With the arising of clinging there is the arising of being. With the cessation of clinging there is the cessation of being. The way leading to the cessation of being is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

31. “When a noble disciple has thus understood being, the origin of being, the cessation of being, and the way leading to the cessation of being… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


32. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

33. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands clinging, the origin of clinging, the cessation of clinging, and the way leading to the cessation of clinging, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

34. “And what is clinging, what is the origin of clinging, what is the cessation of clinging, what is the way leading to the cessation of clinging? There are these four kinds of clinging: clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, clinging to rituals and observances, and clinging to a doctrine of self. With the arising of craving there is the arising of clinging. With the cessation of craving there is the cessation of clinging. The way leading to the cessation of clinging is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

35. “When a noble disciple has thus understood clinging, the origin of clinging, the cessation of clinging, and the way leading to the cessation of clinging… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


36. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

37. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands craving, the origin of craving, the cessation of craving, and the way leading to the cessation of craving, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

38. “And what is craving, what is the origin of craving, what is the cessation of craving, what is the way leading to the cessation of craving? There are these six classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving for odors, craving for flavors, craving for tangibles, craving for mind-objects. With the arising of feeling there is the arising of craving. With the cessation of feeling there is the cessation of craving. The way leading to the cessation of craving is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

39. “When a noble disciple has thus understood craving, the origin of craving, the cessation of craving, and the way leading to the cessation of craving… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


40. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

41. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands feeling, the origin of feeling, the cessation of feeling, and the way leading to the cessation of feeling, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

42. “And what is feeling, what is the origin of feeling, what is the cessation of feeling, what is the way leading to the cessation of feeling? There are these six classes of feeling: feeling born of eye-contact, feeling born of ear-contact, feeling born of nose-contact, feeling born of tongue-contact, feeling born of body-contact, feeling born of mind-contact. With the arising of contact there is the arising of feeling. With the cessation of contact there is the cessation of feeling. The way leading to the cessation of feeling is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

43. “When a noble disciple has thus understood feeling, the origin of feeling, the cessation of feeling, and the way leading to the cessation of feeling… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


44. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

45. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands contact, the origin of contact, the cessation of contact, and the way leading to the cessation of contact, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

46. “And what is contact, what is the origin of contact, what is the cessation of contact, what is the way leading to the cessation of contact? There are these six classes of contact: eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact. With the arising of the sixfold base there is the arising of contact. With the cessation of the sixfold base there is the cessation of contact. The way leading to the cessation of contact is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

47. “When a noble disciple has thus understood contact, the origin of contact, the cessation of contact, and the way leading to the cessation of contact… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”

The Sixfold Base

48. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

49. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands the sixfold base, the origin of the sixfold base, the cessation of the sixfold base, and the way leading to the cessation of the sixfold base, he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

50. “And what is the sixfold base, what is the origin of the sixfold base, what is the cessation of the sixfold base, what is the way leading to the cessation of the sixfold base? There are these six bases: the eye-base, the ear-base, the nose-base, the tongue-base, the body-base, the mind-base. With the arising of mentality-materiality there is the arising of the sixfold base. With the cessation of mentality-materiality there is the cessation of the sixfold base. The way leading to the cessation of the sixfold base is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

51. “When a noble disciple has thus understood the sixfold base, the origin of the sixfold base, the cessation of the sixfold base, and the way leading to the cessation of the sixfold base… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


52. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

53. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands mentality-materiality, the origin of mentality-materiality, the cessation of mentality-materiality, and the way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

54. “And what is mentality-materiality, what is the origin of mentality-materiality, what is the cessation of mentality-materiality, what is the way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality? Feeling, perception, volition, contact and attention — these are called mentality. The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements — these are called materiality. So this mentality and this materiality are what is called mentality-materiality. With the arising of consciousness there is the arising of mentality-materiality. With the cessation of consciousness there is the cessation of mentality-materiality. The way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

55. “When a noble disciple has thus understood mentality-materiality, the origin of mentality-materiality, the cessation of mentality-materiality, and the way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


56. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

57. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands consciousness, the origin of consciousness, the cessation of consciousness, and the way leading to the cessation of consciousness, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

58. “And what is consciousness, what is the origin of consciousness, what is the cessation of consciousness, what is the way leading to the cessation of consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. With the arising of formations there is the arising of consciousness. With the cessation of formations there is the cessation of consciousness. The way leading to the cessation of consciousness is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

59. “When a noble disciple has thus understood consciousness, the origin of consciousness, the cessation of consciousness, and the way leading to the cessation of consciousness… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


60. Saying, “Good friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

61. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands formations, the origin of formations, the cessation of formations, and the way leading to the cessation of formations, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

62. “And what are formations, what is the origin of formations, what is the cessation of formations, what is the way leading to the cessation of formations? There are these three kinds of formations: the bodily formation, the verbal formation, the mental formation. With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of formations. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of formations. The way leading to the cessation of formations is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

63. “When a noble disciple has thus understood formations, the origin of formations, the cessation of formations, and the way leading to the cessation of formations… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


64. Saying, “Good friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

65. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands ignorance, the origin of ignorance, the cessation of ignorance, and the way leading to the cessation of ignorance, in that way he is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

66. “And what is ignorance, what is the origin of ignorance, what is the cessation of ignorance, what is the way leading to the cessation of ignorance? Not knowing about suffering, not knowing about the origin of suffering, not knowing about the cessation of suffering, not knowing about the way leading to the cessation of suffering — this is called ignorance. With the arising of the taints there is the arising of ignorance. With the cessation of the taints there is the cessation of ignorance. The way leading to the cessation of ignorance is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view… right concentration.

67. “When a noble disciple has thus understood ignorance, the origin of ignorance, the cessation of ignorance, and the way leading to the cessation of ignorance… he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view… and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”


68. Saying, “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus delighted and rejoiced in the Venerable Sariputta’s words. Then they asked him a further question: “But, friend, might there be another way in which a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma?” — “There might be, friends.

69. “When, friends, a noble disciple understands the taints, the origin of the taints, the cessation of the taints, and the way leading to the cessation of the taints, in that way he is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

70. “And what are the taints, what is the origin of the taints, what is the cessation of the taints, what is the way leading to the cessation of the taints? There are three taints: the taint of sensual desire, the taint of being and the taint of ignorance. With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of the taints. The way leading to the cessation of the taints is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

71. “When a noble disciple has thus understood the taints, the origin of the taints, the cessation of the taints, and the way leading to the cessation of the taints, he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust, he abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion, he extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit ‘I am,’ and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma.”

That is what the Venerable Sariputta said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Venerable Sariputta’s words.

Part Two: [go up]
The Commentary to the Discourse on Right View

1. Thus have I heard: the Sammaditthi Sutta.

2. Herein, all such questions spoken by the Elder as ” ‘One of right view, one of right view’ is said, friends. In what way is a noble disciple one of right view…?” or “And what, friends, is the unwholesome…?” — these are questions showing a desire to expound. Herein, since those who know, those who do not know, those outside the Dispensation, those within it, those who speak by hearsay, etc., and those who speak by personal knowledge, say “one of right view,” therefore, taking it as an expression (common) to the many, he touched upon it twice, saying “One of right view, one of right view” is said, friends (sammaditthi sammaditthi ti avuso vuccati). The intention here is this: “Others say ‘one of right view,’ and still others say ‘one of right view.’ Since that is said, in what way, friends, is a noble disciple one of right view in respect of meaning and characteristic?” Herein, one of right view is one possessing a lucid and praiseworthy view (sobhanaya pasatthaya ca ditthiya samannagato). But when this word “right view” is used to signify a state (rather than a person endowed with that state), it then means a lucid and praiseworthy view.1

This right view is twofold: mundane (lokiya) and supramundane (lokuttara). Herein, the knowledge of kamma as one’s own and knowledge which is in conformity with the (Four Noble) Truths are mundane right view; or, in brief, (mundane right view is) all understanding that is accompanied by the taints.2 Understanding connected with the noble paths and fruits is supramundane right view.3 The person possessing right view is of three kinds: the worldling (puthujjana), the disciple in higher training (sekha), and the one beyond training (asekha). Herein, the worldling is of two kinds: one outside the Dispensation and one within the Dispensation. Herein, one outside the Dispensation who believes in kamma is one of right view on account of the view of kamma as one’s own, but not on account of that which is in conformity with the truths, because he holds to the view of self. One within the Dispensation is of right view on account of both. The disciple in higher training is one of right view on account of fixed right view,4 the one beyond training on account of (the right view) that is beyond training.5

But here “one of right view” is intended as one possessing supramundane wholesome right view, which is fixed in destiny and emancipating. Hence he said: whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at this true Dhamma (ujugata’ssa ditthi dhamme aveccappasadena samannagato agato imam saddhammam). Because of its going straight without deviating to either extreme, or because of its going straight by removing all crookedness such as bodily crookedness, etc., supramundane right view is “straight.” One possessing that view also possesses perfect confidence, unshakable confidence, in the ninefold supramundane Dhamma.6 And by becoming disentangled from all the thickets of (wrong) views, by abandoning all the defilements, by departing from the round of rebirths, by bringing the practice to its consummation, he is said to have come by the noble path to this “true Dhamma” proclaimed by the Enlightened One, that is, Nibbana, the plunge into the Deathless.

The Wholesome and the Unwholesome

3. Understands the unwholesome (akusalan ca pajanati): he understands the unwholesome called the ten courses of unwholesome kamma (action), penetrating this by way of function with the understanding that has Nibbana as its object as “This is suffering.” (Understands) the root of the unwholesome (akusalamulan ca pajanati): And he understands the unwholesome root which has become the root condition of that (unwholesome), penetrating this, in the same way, as “This is the origin of suffering.” The same method applies here also in regard to “the wholesome” and “the root of the wholesome.” And, as it is here, so in all the following sections, the understanding of the subject should be understood by way of function.

In that way (ettavata pi): by this much; by this understanding of the unwholesome, etc. He is one of right view (sammaditthi hoti): he possesses supramundane right view of the kind aforesaid. Whose view is straight… and has arrived at this true Dhamma: At this point the summary version of the teaching has been expounded. And this (part of) the teaching itself was brief; but for those bhikkhus it should be understood that the penetration (of the meaning) through right attention occurred in detail.

But in the second section (Section 4) it should be understood that the teaching too, as well as the penetration through attention, is stated in detail.

Herein, the bhikkhus [at the council at the Great Monastery held to rehearse the Pitakas] said: “In the brief exposition the two lower paths are discussed, in the detailed exposition the two higher paths,” taking into account the passage at the end of the sections setting forth the detailed exposition that begins “he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust.” But the Elder (presiding over the council) said: “In the brief exposition the four paths are expounded as a group, and also in the detailed exposition.”7

This query into the brief and detailed expositions which has been cleared up here should be understood in all the following sections in the way stated here. From here on we shall only comment on terms that are new or obscure.

The Unwholesome Courses of Action

4. Herein, firstly, in the detailed exposition of the first section: as regards the passage beginning killing living beings is unwholesome (panatipato kho avuso akusalam), “unwholesome” should be understood by way of the occurrence of unwholesomeness, or as what is opposed to the wholesome, which is to be dealt with below (Section 6). As to characteristic, it is blameworthy and has painful result, or it is defiled. This, in the first place, is the comment upon the general terms here.

But as regards the particular terms, the phrase killing living beings means the slaughter of a living being, the destruction of a living being. And here a living being (pana) is, according to ordinary usage, a being (satta); in the ultimate sense it is the life faculty. “Killing living beings” is the volition to kill on the part of one who is aware, in respect of a living being, that it is a living being, and which (volition), manifesting itself through one or the other of the doors of body and speech, initiates activity resulting in the cutting off of the life faculty.

In relation to beings such as animals, etc., which lack moral qualities (guna), it is less blameworthy in respect of small living beings and more blameworthy in respect of beings with large bodies. Why? Because of the magnitude of the effort involved. And when the effort involved is equal, because of the magnitude of the object (the being killed). In relation to beings such as humans, etc., who possess moral qualities, it is less blameworthy in respect of beings with few good qualities and more blameworthy in respect of beings with great qualities. When the size of the body and moral qualities are equal, however, it is less blameworthy when the defilements and activity are mild, and more blameworthy when they are strong: so it should be understood.

There are five constituents for this (act of killing a living being): a living being, awareness that it is a living being, the mind to kill, activity, and the death (of the being) thereby.

There are six means: one’s own person, command, a missile, a fixed contrivance, a magical spell, supernormal power.

To explore this matter in detail, however, would involve too much diffuseness. Therefore we shall not explore it in detail, or any other subject similar in kind. Those who wish to go into the matter may do so by looking it up in the Samantapasadika, the Vinaya Commentary.8

Taking what is not given (adinnadana): the carrying off of others’ goods, stealing, robbery, is what is meant. Herein, “what is not given” is another’s possession, which the other may use as he likes without incurring penalty or blame. “Taking what is not given” is the volition to steal on the part of one who is aware, in respect of another’s possession, that it is another’s possession, and which (volition) initiates activity resulting in the taking of that thing.

That (taking of what is not given) is less blameworthy when the other’s property is of low value, and more blameworthy when it is of high value. Why? Because of the high value of the object (stolen). When the value of the objects is equal, the act is more blameworthy when the object belongs to one of outstanding qualities, and less blameworthy when the object belongs to one who, in comparison, is inferior with respect to moral qualities.

There are five constituents of this act: another’s possession, awareness that it is another’s possession, the mind to steal, the activity, and the carrying off (of the object) thereby.

There are six means: one’s own person, etc. (as for killing).

And these (acts of stealing) may be classed, according to the way in which they occur, by way of the following: taking by theft, by force, by concealment, by stratagem, by fraud. This here is in brief; the details, however, are given in the Samantapasadika.9

Misconduct in sensual pleasures (kamesu micchacara): here, “in sensual pleasures” (kamesu) means in regard to sexual intercourse. “Misconduct” is entirely reprehensible vile conduct. As to characteristic, sexual misconduct is the volition to transgress bounds occurring through the body door by way of unrighteous intent.

Herein, out of bounds for men, firstly, are the twenty kinds of women, that is, the ten beginning with those protected by the mother, namely, “protected by the mother, protected by the father, protected by the mother and father, protected by the brother, protected by the sister, protected by relatives, protected by the clan, protected by the law, under protection, entailing a penalty”; and the ten beginning with those purchased with money, namely, “one purchased with money, one who lives (with a man) by her own desire, one who lives (with a man) on account of wealth, one who lives (with a man) on account of cloth, one who is given (in marriage with the ceremony of) dipping the hand in water, one who has been (taken to wife and) relieved of her burden-carrying head-pad, one who is a slave and a wife, one who is a servant and a wife, one who is carried off in a raid, one engaged at so much a time.”10

Then, as concerns women, for the twelve kinds of women consisting of the two, namely, under protection and entailing a penalty, and the ten beginning with those purchased with money, other men are out of bounds.

This sexual misconduct is less blameworthy when (the person) out of bounds is without good qualities such as virtue, etc., and more blameworthy when (the person) possesses good qualities such as virtue, etc. There are four constituents of this act: an object which is out of bounds, the mind to engage in that, the effort to engage, and consent to the union of sexual organs.11 The means is single: one’s own person.

False speech (musavada): “false” (musa) is the verbal effort or bodily effort for destroying welfare (made) by one bent on deceiving. “False speech” is the volition initiating the verbal effort or bodily effort of deceiving another on the part of one intent on deceiving. According to another method, “false” means an unreal, untrue case, “speech” the communication of that as being real, true. As to characteristic, “false speech” is the volition of one desiring to communicate to another an untrue case as being true, which (volition) initiates such an act of communication.

This is less blameworthy when the welfare destroyed is slight, and more blameworthy when the welfare destroyed is great. Further, when it occurs on the part of householders who, not wishing to give away some belonging of theirs, say “I do not have it,” it is less blameworthy; when one who is a witness speaks (falsely) for the purpose of destroying another’s welfare, it is more blameworthy. In the case of those gone forth, when it occurs by their saying as a joke, after they have obtained just a little oil or ghee, in the manner of the Puranas, “Today the oil is flowing in the village just like a river,” then it is less blameworthy; but for those who speak (as a witness) saying that they have seen what they have not seen it is more blameworthy.

There are four constituents of this act: an untrue case, the mind to deceive, the appropriate effort, the communicating of that meaning to another. The means is single: one’s own person only. That is to be regarded as the performing of the action of deceiving another by means of the body or by means of something attached to the body or by means of speech. If, through that action, the other understands that meaning, one is bound by the kamma of false speech at the very moment of the volition initiating the action.

Malicious speech, etc.: The kind of speech that creates in the heart of the person to whom it is spoken affection for oneself and voidness (of affection) for another is malicious speech (pisuna vaca). The kind of speech by which one makes both oneself and another harsh, the kind of speech which is also itself harsh, being pleasant neither to the ear nor to the heart — that is harsh speech (pharusa vaca). That by which one gossips idly, without meaning, is gossip (samphappalapa). Also, the volition that is the root cause of these gains the name “malicious speech,” etc. And that only is intended here.

Therein, malicious speech is the volition of one with a defiled mind, which (volition) initiates an effort by body or by speech either to cause division among others or to endear oneself (to another). It is less blameworthy when the person divided has few good qualities, and more blameworthy when such a one has great qualities. Its constituents are four: another person to be divided, the intention to divide, (thinking) “Thus these will be separated and split” or the desire to endear oneself, (thinking) “Thus I shall become loved and intimate,” the appropriate effort, the communicating of that meaning to that person.

Harsh speech is the entirely harsh volition initiating an effort by body or by speech to wound another’s vital feelings. This is an example given for the purpose of making it clear: A village boy, it is said, went to the forest without heeding his mother’s words. Unable to make him turn back, she scolded him angrily, saying: “May a wild buffalo chase you!” Then a buffalo appeared before him right there in the forest. The boy made an asseveration of truth, saying: “Let it not be as my mother said but as she thought!” The buffalo stood as though tied there. Thus, although the means (employed) was that of wounding the vital feelings, because of the gentleness of her mind it was not harsh speech. For sometimes parents even say to their children, “May robbers chop you to pieces!” yet they do not even wish a lotus leaf to fall upon them. And teachers and preceptors sometimes say to their pupils, “What is the use of these shameless and heedless brats? Drive them out!” yet they wish for their success in learning and attainment.

Just as, through gentleness of mind, speech is not harsh, so through gentleness of speech, speech does not become unharsh; for the words “Let him sleep in peace” spoken by one wishing to kill are not unharsh speech. But harsh speech is such on account of harshness of mind only. It is less blameworthy when the person to whom it is spoken has few good qualities, and more blameworthy when such a one has great qualities. Its constituents are three: another to be abused, an angry mind, the abusing.

Gossip is the unwholesome volition initiating an effort by body or by speech to communicate what is purposeless. It is less blameworthy when indulged in mildly, and more blameworthy when indulged in strongly. Its constituents are two: the being intent on purposeless stories such as the Bharata war or the abduction of Sita, etc., and the telling of such stories.12

Covetousness (abhijjha): It covets, thus it is covetousness; “having become directed towards others’ goods, it occurs through inclination towards them” is the meaning. It has the characteristic of coveting others’ goods thus: “Oh, that this were mine!” It is less blameworthy and more blameworthy as in the case of taking what is not given. Its constituents are two: another’s goods, and the inclination for them to be one’s own. For even though greed has arisen based on another’s goods, it is not classed as a (completed) course of kamma so long as one does not incline to them as one’s own (with the thought), “Oh, that this were mine!”

Ill will (byapada): It injures welfare and happiness, thus it is ill will (hitasukham byapadayati ti byapado). Its characteristic is the mental defect (of wishing for) the destruction of others. It is less blameworthy and more blameworthy as in the case of harsh speech. Its constituents are two: another being, and the wish for that being’s destruction. For even though anger has arisen based on another being, there is no breach of a course of kamma so long as one does not wish, “Oh, that this being might be cut off and destroyed!”

Wrong view (micchaditthi): It sees wrongly due to the absence of a correct grasp of things, thus it is wrong view. Its characteristic is the mistaken view that “there is no (result from) giving,” etc. It is less blameworthy and more blameworthy as in the case of gossip. Moreover, it is less blameworthy when not fixed in destiny, and more blameworthy when fixed.13 Its constituents are two: a mistaken manner of grasping the basis (for the view), and the appearance of that (basis) in accordance with the manner in which it has been grasped.

Now the exposition of these ten courses of unwholesome kamma should be understood in five ways: as to mental state (dhammato), as to category (kotthasato), as to object (arammanato), as to feeling (vedanato), and as to root (mulato).

Herein, as to mental state: The first seven among these are volitional states only. The three beginning with covetousness are associated with volition.14

As to category: The eight consisting of the first seven and wrong view are courses of kamma only, not roots. Covetousness and ill will are courses of kamma and also roots; for covetousness, having arrived at the (state of) a root, is the unwholesome root greed, and ill will is the unwholesome root hate.

As to object: Killing living beings, because it has the life faculty as object, has a formation as object. Taking what is not given has beings as object or formations as object. Misconduct in sensual pleasures has formations as object by way of tangible object; but some say it also has beings as object. False speech has beings or formations as object; likewise malicious speech. Harsh speech has only beings as object. Gossip has either beings or formations as object by way of the seen, heard, sensed and cognized; likewise covetousness. Ill will has only beings as object. Wrong view has formations as object by way of the states belonging to the three planes (of being).

As to feeling: Killing living beings has painful feeling; for although kings, seeing a robber, say laughingly, “Go and execute him,” their volition consummating the action is associated only with pain. Taking what is not given has three feelings. Misconduct (in sensual pleasures) has two feelings, pleasant and neutral, but in the mind which consummates the action there is no neutral feeling. False speech has three feelings; likewise malicious speech. Harsh speech has painful feeling only. Gossip has three feelings. Covetousness has two feelings, pleasant and neutral; likewise wrong view. Ill will has painful feeling only.

As to root: Killing living beings has two roots, by way of hate and delusion; taking what is not given, by way of hate and delusion or by way of greed and delusion; misconduct, by way of greed and delusion; false speech, by way of hate and delusion or by way of greed and delusion; likewise for malicious speech and gossip; harsh speech, by way of hate and delusion. Covetousness has one root, by way of delusion; likewise ill will. Wrong view has two roots, by way of greed and delusion.

The Unwholesome Roots

5. Greed is a root of the unwholesome, etc.: It is greedy, thus it is greed (lubbhati ti lobho); it offends against (it hates), thus it is hate (dussati ti doso); it deludes, thus it is delusion (muyhati ti moho). Among these, greed is itself unwholesome in the sense that it is blameworthy and has painful results; and it is a root of these unwholesome (deeds) beginning with killing living beings, for some in the sense that it is an associated originative cause, for some in the sense that it is a decisive support condition. Thus it is an unwholesome root. This too is said: “One who is lustful, friends, overwhelmed and with mind obsessed by lust, kills a living being” (A.3:71/i,216; text slightly different). The same method applies to the state of being unwholesome roots in the cases of hate and delusion.

The Wholesome Courses of Action

6. Abstention from killing living beings is wholesome (panatipata veramani), etc.: Here “killing living beings,” etc. have the same meaning as aforesaid. It crushes the hostile, thus it is abstention (veram manati ti veramani); the meaning is that it abandons the hostile. Or: with that as the instrument one abstains (viramati), the syllable ve being substituted for the syllable vi. This here is, in the first place, the commentary on the phrasing.

But as to the meaning, abstention is refraining (virati) associated with wholesome consciousness. What is stated thus: “For one refraining from killing living beings, that which is on that occasion the leaving off, the refraining” (Vibh. 285), that is the refraining associated with wholesome consciousness. As to kind, it is threefold: refraining in the presence of opportunity, refraining because of an undertaking, and refraining because of eradication (of defilements).

Herein, refraining in the presence of an opportunity (sampattavirati) is to be understood as the refraining which occurs in those who have not undertaken any training rule but who do not transgress when an opportunity for doing so presents itself because they reflect upon their birth, age, learning, etc., like the lay follower Cakkana in the island of Sri Lanka.

When he was a boy, it is said, his mother developed an illness, and the doctor said, “Fresh hare’s flesh is needed.” Then Cakkana’s brother sent him, saying, “Go, dear, and hunt in the field.” He went there. On that occasion a hare had come to eat the young corn. On seeing him it bolted swiftly, but it got entangled in a creeper and squealed “kiri, kiri.” Guided by the sound, Cakkana went and caught it, thinking, “I will make medicine for my mother.” Then he thought again, “This is not proper for me, that I should deprive another of life for the sake of my mother’s life.” So he released it, saying “Go and enjoy the grass and the water with the other hares in the forest.” When his brother asked him, “Did you get a hare, dear?” he told him what had happened. His brother scolded him. He went to his mother and determined upon an asseveration of truth: “Since I was born I am not aware that I have ever intentionally deprived a living being of life.” Straightaway his mother became well.

Refraining because of an undertaking (samadanavirati) is to be understood as the refraining which occurs in those who do not transgress in a particular case because they have undertaken training rules, giving up even their own lives in the undertaking of the training rules and in what is superior to that, like the lay follower who dwelt at Uttaravaddhamana Mountain.

It is said that after undertaking the training rules from the Elder Pingala Buddharakkhita who lived in the Ambariya Monastery, he was plowing a field. Then his ox got lost. Searching for it, he climbed up Uttaravaddhamana Mountain. There a large serpent seized him. He thought, “Let me cut off his head with this sharp axe.” Then he thought again, “This is not proper for me, that I should break a training rule that I have undertaken in the presence of my honored teacher.” Thinking up to the third time, “I will give up my life but not the training rule,” he threw the sharp hand axe that was slung on his shoulder into the forest. Straightaway the creature released him and went away.

Refraining because of eradication (of defilements) (samucchedavirati) is to be understood as the refraining associated with the noble path. After the arising of this even the thought, “I will kill a living being,” does not occur to the noble persons.

This refraining is called “wholesome” (kusala) because of the occurrence of wholesomeness (kosalla); or because of shedding the vile (kucchitassa salanato). Also, evil conduct is commonly called “weeds” (kusa) and it mows this down (lunati), thus it is called “wholesome.”

As in the case of the unwholesome, so for these courses of wholesome kamma the exposition should be understood in five ways: as to mental state, as to category, as to object, as to feeling, and as to root.

Herein, as to mental state: The first seven among these can be both volitions and abstinences; the last three are associated with volition only.

As to category: The first seven are courses of kamma only, not roots. The last three are courses of kamma and also roots. For non-covetousness, having arrived at the (state of) a root, is the wholesome root non-greed; non-ill will is the wholesome root non-hate; and right view is the wholesome root non-delusion.

As to object: The objects of these are the same as the objects of killing living beings, etc. For abstention is spoken of in relation to something which can be transgressed. But just as the noble path, which has Nibbana as object, abandons the defilements, so too should these courses of kamma, which have the life faculty, etc., as object, be understood to abandon the kinds of evil conduct beginning with killing living beings.

As to feeling: All have pleasant feeling or neutral feeling. For there is no painful feeling which arrives at the wholesome.

As to root: The first seven courses of kamma have three roots by way of non-greed, non-hate, and non-delusion in one who abstains by means of consciousness associated with knowledge. They have two roots in one who abstains by means of consciousness dissociated from knowledge.15 Non-covetousness has two roots in one who abstains by means of consciousness associated with knowledge, one root (in one who abstains) by means of consciousness dissociated from knowledge. Non-greed, however, is not by itself its own root. The same method applies in the case of non-ill will. Right view always has two roots, by way of non-greed and non-hate.16

The Wholesome Roots

7. Non-greed is a root of the wholesome (alobho kusalamulam), etc.: Non-greed is not greed; this is a term for the state that is opposed to greed. The same method applies in the case of non-hate and non-delusion. Among these, non-greed is itself wholesome; and it is a root of these wholesome (courses of kamma) beginning with abstention from killing living beings, for some in the sense that it is an associated originative cause and for some in the sense that it is a decisive support condition. Thus it is a wholesome root. The same method applies to the state of being wholesome roots in the cases of non-hate and non-delusion.

Conclusion on the Unwholesome and the Wholesome

8. Now, summing up the meaning of all that has been set forth in brief and in detail, he states the concluding section beginning with the words when a noble disciple. Herein, has thus understood the wholesome (evam akusalam pajanati) means: has thus understood the unwholesome by way of the ten courses of unwholesome kamma as described. The same method applies in the case of the root of the unwholesome, etc.

Up to this point, by a single method, emancipation as far as arahantship has been expounded for one who has the Four Noble Truths as his meditation subject. How? Here, the ten courses of unwholesome kamma with the exception of covetousness, and the (ten) courses of wholesome kamma, are the truth of suffering. These two states — covetousness and the greed which is a root of the unwholesome — are, literally speaking, the truth of the origin. Speaking figuratively, however, all the courses of kamma are the truth of suffering, and all the wholesome and unwholesome roots are the truth of the origin.17 The non-occurrence of both is the truth of cessation. The noble path fully understanding suffering, abandoning its origin, and understanding its cessation is the truth of the path. Thus two truths are stated in their own nature and two are to be understood by way of the guideline of conversion.18

He entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust (so sabbaso raganusayam pahaya): Understanding thus the unwholesome, etc., he abandons in all ways the underlying tendency to lust. He abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion (patighanusayam pativinodetva): and he removes in all ways too the underlying tendency to aversion, is what is meant. Up to this point the path of non-return is stated.19 He extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit “I am” (asmi ti ditthimananusayam samuhanitva): he extricates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit which occurs in the mode of grasping the five aggregates as a group (with the notion) “I am,” due to failure to distinguish any state among them.

Therein, by the phrase the underlying tendency to the view and conceit “I am” (ditthimananusayam) what is meant is the underlying tendency to conceit which is similar to a view (ditthisadisam mananusayam). For this underlying tendency to conceit is similar to a view because it occurs (with the notion) “I am”; therefore it is stated thus. And one who wishes to understand this conceit “I am” in detail should look up the Khemaka Sutta in the Khandhiyavagga (S.22:89/iii,126ff.).

By abandoning ignorance (avijjam pahaya): having abandoned ignorance, the root of the round (of existence). And arousing true knowledge (vijjam uppadetva): having aroused the true knowledge of the path of arahantship which completely extricates that ignorance. At this point the path of arahantship is stated.20 He here and now makes an end of suffering (ditth’eva dhamme dukkhass’antakaro hoti): in this very existence he becomes one who cuts off the suffering of the round.

In that way too (ettavatapi kho avuso): he marks off (this first part of) the teaching; by way of the attention and penetration stated in this exposition of the courses of kamma, is what is meant. The rest is as aforesaid. Thus he concludes the exposition by means of the path of non-return and the path of arahantship.



9. Saying, “Good, friend,”… (etc.)…” and has arrived at this true Dhamma”: Thus, having heard the Venerable Sariputta’s exposition of the four truths under the heading of the wholesome and the unwholesome, the bhikkhus delighted in his words with the statement, “Good, friend,” and rejoiced with the mind that aroused that statement; what is meant is that they agreed by word and approved by mind. Now, because the Elder was competent to give an exposition on the four truths in diverse ways — as (the Blessed One) said: “Bhikkhus, Sariputta is able to propound, to teach, the Four Noble Truths in detail” (M.141/iii, 248); or because he had said “in that way too,” being desirous of giving a further exposition, the bhikkhus, being desirous of hearing the teaching of the four truths by another method, asked him a further question. By asking “But, friend, might there be another way? Would there be another case?” they asked another question additional to that question asked and answered (already) by the Venerable Sariputta himself. Or what is meant is that they asked a question subsequent to the previous one. Then, answering them, the Elder said, “There might be, friends,” and so on.

10. Herein, this is the elucidation of the terms that are not clear. Nutriment (ahara) is a condition (paccaya). For a condition nourishes its own fruit, therefore it is called nutriment.21

11. Of beings that already have come to be (bhutanam va sattanam), etc.: Here come to be (bhuta) means come to birth, reborn; seeking a new existence (sambhavesinam) means those who seek, search for, existence, birth, production. Therein, among the four kinds of generation,22 beings born from eggs and from the womb are said to be “seeking a new existence” as long as they have not broken out of the eggshell or the placenta. When they have broken out of the eggshell or the placenta and emerged outside, they are said to have “come to be.” The moisture-born and the spontaneously born are said to be “seeking a new existence” at the first moment of consciousness; from the second moment of consciousness onwards they are said to have “come to be.”

Or alternatively, “come to be” is born, reproduced; this is a term for those who have destroyed the cankers (arahants), who are reckoned thus: “They have come to be only, but they will not come to be again.” “Seeking a new existence” means they seek a new existence; this is a term for worldlings and disciples in higher training who seek a new existence in the future too, because they have not abandoned the fetter of being. Thus by these two terms he includes all beings in all ways.

For the maintenance (thitiya); for the purpose of maintaining. For the support (anuggahaya): for the purpose of supporting, for the purpose of helping. This is merely a difference of words, but the meaning of the two terms is one only. Or alternatively, “for the maintenance” is for the non-interruption of this or that being by means of the serial connection of arisen states. “For the support” is for the arising of unarisen (states). And both these expressions should be regarded as applicable in both cases thus: “For the maintenance and support of those that have come to be, and for the maintenance and support of those seeking a new existence.”

The Four Kinds of Nutriment

Physical food as nutriment (lit. “food made into a ball”) (kabalinkaro aharo) is nutriment that can be swallowed after making it into a ball; this is a term for the nutritive essence which has as its basis boiled rice, junket, etc.23 Gross or subtle (olariko va sukhumo va): it is gross because of the grossness of the basis, and subtle because of the subtlety of the basis. But because physical nutriment is included in subtle materiality, by way of its individual essence it is subtle only.24 And also that grossness and subtlety should be understood relatively in respect of the basis.

The nutriment of peacocks is subtle compared with the nutriment of crocodiles. Crocodiles, they say, swallow stones, and these dissolve on reaching their stomachs. Peacocks eat such animals as snakes, scorpions, etc. But the nutriment of hyenas is subtle compared with the nutriment of peacocks. These, they say, eat horns and bones thrown away three years before, and these become soft as yams as soon as they are moistened with their saliva. Also, the nutriment of elephants is subtle compared with the nutriment of hyenas. For these eat the branches of various trees, etc. The nutriment of the gayal buffalo, the antelope, the deer, etc., is subtler than the nutriment of elephants. These, they say, eat the sapless leaves of various kinds of trees, etc. The nutriment of cows is subtler than their nutriment; they eat fresh and dried grass. The nutriment of hares is subtler than their nutriment; that of birds is subtler than that of hares; that of barbarians is subtler than that of birds; that of village headmen is subtler than that of barbarians; that of kings and kings’ ministers is subtler than village headmens’; that of a Wheel-turning Monarch is subtler than their nutriment. The earth deities’ nutriment is subtler than that of a Wheel-turning Monarch. The nutriment of the deities of the Four Great Kings is subtler than that of the earth deities. Thus nutriment should be elaborated up to that of the deities who wield power over others’ creations.25 But saying, “Their nutriment is subtle,” the end is reached.

And here, in a basis that is gross, the nutritive essence is limited and weak; in one that is subtle, it is strong. Thus one who has drunk even a full bowl of gruel is soon hungry again and desirous of eating anything; but after drinking even a small amount of ghee, he will not want to eat for the whole day. Therein, it is the basis that dispels fatigue, but it is unable to preserve; but the nutritive essence preserves, though it cannot dispel fatigue. But when the two are combined they both dispel fatigue and preserve.

Contact as the second (phasso dutiyo): The sixfold contact beginning with eye-contact should be understood as the second of these four kinds of nutriment. And this is the method of the teaching itself; therefore it should not be inquired into here, saying “For this reason it is the second, or the third.” Mental volition (manosancetana): volition (cetana) itself is stated. Consciousness (viññanam): any kind of consciousness whatever.

It may be asked here: “If the meaning of condition is the meaning of nutriment, then, when other conditions also exist for beings, why are only these four stated?” It should be said in reply: “It is because they are the special conditions for personal continuity.” For physical nutriment is the special condition for the material body of beings that eat physical nutriment; as regards the group of mental constituents, contact is (the special condition) for feeling, mental volition for consciousness, and consciousness for mentality-materiality. As it is said: “Just as, bhikkhus, this body has nutriment for its maintenance, is maintained in dependence on nutriment, and without nutriment is not maintained” (S.46:2/v,64); and likewise: “With contact as condition, feeling;… with formations as condition, consciousness;… with consciousness as condition, mentality-materiality” (S.12:1/ii,1, etc.).

What is this nutriment, and what does it nourish? Physical nutriment nourishes the materiality with nutritive essence as eighth;26 contact as nutriment nourishes the three feelings; mental volition as nutriment nourishes the three kinds of being; consciousness as nutriment nourishes the mentality-materiality of rebirth-linking.

How? As soon as it is placed in the mouth, physical food as nutriment brings into being the eight kinds of materiality (aforesaid). Then each lump of cooked rice ground by the teeth, on being swallowed, brings into being unit after unit of the eight kinds of materiality. Thus it nourishes the materiality with nutritive essence as eighth.

But with contact as nutriment, when contact productive of pleasant feeling arises it nourishes pleasant feeling; contact productive of painful feeling nourishes painful feeling; contact productive of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling nourishes neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Thus in all ways contact as nutriment nourishes the three kinds of feeling.

In the case of mental volition as nutriment, kamma leading to sense-sphere being nourishes sense-sphere being; kamma leading to fine-material and immaterial being nourishes its respective kind of being. Thus in all ways mental volition as nutriment nourishes the three kinds of being.

But with consciousness as nutriment, it is said that it nourishes, by way of conascence condition, etc., the three (immaterial) aggregates associated with itself at the moment of rebirth-linking and the thirty kinds of materiality that arise by way of triple continuity. Thus consciousness nourishes the mentality-materiality of rebirth-linking.27

And here, by the words “mental volition as nutriment nourishes the three kinds of being,” only the wholesome and unwholesome volition accompanied by taints is meant; by the words “consciousness nourishes the mentality-materiality of rebirth-linking,” only rebirth-linking consciousness is meant. However, these are to be understood indiscriminately as nutriments as well because they nourish the states that are associated with them and originated by them.

The Four Functions

As regards these four kinds of nutriment, physical food as nutriment accomplishes the function of nutriment by sustaining, contact by contacting (touching), mental volition by accumulating, consciousness by cognizing.

How? Physical food as nutriment, by sustaining, is for the maintenance of beings by maintaining the body. For this body, though generated by kamma, is sustained by physical food and stands for ten years or a hundred years up to the end of the life-span. Like what? Like a child which, though given birth by the mother, is nurtured by the milk, etc., given to him to drink by the wet-nurse and thus lives long. Also, as a house is supported by a prop. This too has been said (untraced): “Great king, just as, when a house is collapsing, they prop it up with other timber, and that house, being propped up by other timber, does not collapse, so too this body is supported by nutriment, persists in dependence upon nutriment.”

Thus physical food as nutriment accomplishes the function of nutriment by sustaining. Accomplishing it thus, physical food as nutriment becomes a condition for two material continuities, namely, for that originated by nutriment and that kammically acquired.28 It is a condition for the kamma-born materiality by becoming its preserver. It is a condition for that originated by nutriment by becoming its producer.

Then contact, by contacting the object which is the basis for pleasure, etc., is “for the maintenance of beings” by causing the occurrence of pleasant feeling, etc. Mental volition, accumulating by way of wholesome and unwholesome kamma, is “for the maintenance of beings” because it provides the root of existence. Consciousness, by cognizing, is “for the maintenance of beings” by causing the occurrence of mentality-materiality.

The Four Dangers

Now, while these are accomplishing their function of nutriment by sustaining, etc., four dangers are to be seen: the danger of desire in the case of physical food as nutriment; the danger of approach in the case of contact; (the danger) of accumulating in the case of mental volition; and (the danger) of launching [into a new existence here or there by way of taking rebirth-linking] in the case of consciousness.

What are the reasons (for this)? Because, having aroused desire for physical food, beings face cold, etc., to undertake such work as checking, accounting, etc., and incur not a little suffering. And some who have gone forth in this dispensation seek nutriment through such improper means as the practice of medicine, etc., and they are to be censured here and now, and hereafter they become “recluse ghosts” in the manner described thus in the Lakkhana Samyutta: “And his outer robe was burning, blazing,” etc.29 For this reason, desire itself is to be understood as the danger in physical food as nutriment.

Those who approach contact, who find gratification in contact, commit crimes in respect of others’ guarded and protected belongings, such as their wives, etc. When the owners of the goods catch them with their belongings, they cut them into pieces or throw them onto a rubbish heap, or hand them over to the king; and then the king has various tortures inflicted upon them. And with the breakup of the body, after death, a bad destination is to be expected for them. Thus this entire danger — that pertaining to the here and now and that pertaining to the afterlife — has come about rooted in contact. For this reason, approach is to be understood as the danger in the case of the nutriment contact.

The entire danger in the three realms of existence has come about by the accumulation of wholesome and unwholesome kamma and is rooted in that (accumulation). For this reason, accumulation is to be understood as the danger in the nutriment mental volition.

And in whatever place rebirth-linking consciousness launches (the new existence), in that same place it is reborn by seizing the rebirth-linking mentality-materiality. When it is produced, all dangers are produced, for they are all rooted in it. For this reason, launching is to be understood as the danger in the nutriment consciousness.

The Four Similes

In regard to these nutriments with their dangers, for the sake of eliminating desire for the nutriment physical food, the Fully Enlightened One taught the simile of son’s flesh in the passage beginning thus: “Suppose, bhikkhus, a couple, a man and his wife,…” For the sake of eliminating desire for the nutriment contact, he taught the simile of the flayed cow in the passage beginning thus: “Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a flayed cow…” For the sake of eliminating desire for the nutriment mental volition, he taught the simile of the charcoal pit in the passage beginning thus: “Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a charcoal pit…” And for the sake of eliminating desire for the nutriment consciousness, he taught the simile of the man struck with three hundred spears in the passage beginning thus: “Suppose, bhikkhus, there was a thief, a crook…”30

Therein, taking the essential meaning, there follows a brief interpretation of the meaning. A couple, it is said, a man and his wife, took their son and set out on a desert trail a hundred yojanas long,31 with only limited provisions. When they had gone fifty yojanas their provisions ran out. Exhausted by hunger and thirst, they sat down in some scanty shade. Then the man said to his wife: “My dear, for fifty yojanas on all sides there is neither a village nor a town. Therefore, though a man can do many kinds of work, such as plowing, guarding cattle, etc., it is not possible for me to do that. Come, kill me. Eat half of my flesh, and having made the other half into provisions for the journey, cross out of the desert together with our son.”

The wife said: “Dear husband, though a woman can do many kinds of work, such as spinning thread, etc., it is not possible for me to do that. Come, kill me. Eat half of my flesh, and having made the other half into provisions for the journey, cross out of the desert together with our son.”

Then the man said: “My dear, the death of the mother would mean the death of two, for a young boy cannot live without his mother. But if we both live, then we can beget another child again. Come now, let us kill our child, take his flesh, and cross out of this desert.”

Then the mother said to the son: “Dear, go to your father.” He went, but the father said: “For the sake of supporting this child I incurred much suffering through such work as plowing, guarding cattle, etc. I cannot kill the boy. You kill your son.” Then he said: “Dear, go to your mother.” But the mother said: “Longing for a son I incurred much suffering by observing the cow-observance, the dog-observance, praying to the gods, etc., not to speak of bearing him in my womb.32 It is not possible for me to kill him.” Then she said: “Dear, go to your father.”

The boy died from going back and forth between the father and the mother. Seeing him dead, they wept, and having taken the flesh as described above, they departed. Because that flesh of their son was repulsive to them for nine reasons, it was not eaten for enjoyment nor for intoxication nor for making (the body) strong and beautiful, but only for the purpose of crossing out of the desert.

For what nine reasons was it repulsive? Because it was the flesh of their own offspring, the flesh of a relative, the flesh of a son, the flesh of a dear son, the flesh of a youngster, raw flesh, not beef, unsalted, unspiced. Therefore the bhikkhu who sees the nutriment physical food thus, as similar to son’s flesh, eliminates the desire for it.33

This, in the first place, is the interpretation of the meaning of the simile of son’s flesh.

Then, as regards the simile of the flayed cow: If a cow were stripped of its skin from the neck to the hooves and then set free, whatever it would rest upon would become a basis of pain for it, since it would be bitten by the small creatures living there.34 So too, whatever physical basis or object contact stands upon as its support becomes a basis for the felt pain originating from that basis or object.35 Therefore a bhikkhu who sees the nutriment contact thus, as similar to a flayed cow, eliminates the desire for it. This is the interpretation of the meaning of the simile of the flayed cow.

Then, as regards the simile of the charcoal pit:36 The three realms of being are like a charcoal pit in the sense of a great burning heat (lit., a great fever). Like the two men who grab hold (of a weaker man) by both his arms and drag him towards it, is mental volition in the sense that it drags one towards the realms of being. Therefore a bhikkhu who sees the nutriment mental volition thus, as similar to a charcoal pit, eliminates the desire for it. This is the interpretation of the meaning of the simile of the charcoal pit.

Then, as regards the simile of the man struck with three hundred spears:37 The hundred spears that strike the man in the morning make a hundred wound openings in his body, and without remaining inside they pierce through and fall on the other side; and so with the other two hundred spears as well. Thus his whole body is cut again and again by the spears which come without piercing him in a place where another has already struck. There is no measuring the pain arisen in him from even one of the wound openings, not to speak of three hundred wound openings.

Therein, the time of the generation of the rebirth-linking consciousness is like the time of being struck by a spear. The production of the aggregates is like the production of the wound openings. The arising of the various kinds of suffering rooted in the round (of existence) once the aggregates have been born is like the arising of suffering on account of the wound openings.

Another method of interpretation (is as follows): The rebirth-linking consciousness is like the thief. His mentality-materiality conditioned by consciousness is like the wound openings created by the striking of the spears. The arising of the various kinds of suffering by way of the thirty-two types of torture and the eighty-nine types of diseases in regard to consciousness conditioned by mentality-materiality — this should be regarded as like the arising of severe pain for that man conditioned by the wound openings.

Therefore a bhikkhu who sees the nutriment consciousness thus, as similar to one struck by three hundred spears, eliminates the desire for it. This is the interpretation of the meaning of the simile of the man struck by three hundred spears.

Full Understanding

Thus by eliminating desire in regard to these nutriments, he also fully understands these four nutriments. When these have been fully understood, the entire basis (for them) has also been fully understood. For this has been said by the Blessed One (S.12:63/ii,99-100):

Bhikkhus, when the nutriment physical food has been fully understood, lust for the five cords of sensual pleasure has been fully understood. When lust for the five cords of sensual pleasure has been fully understood, there exists no more any fetter bound by which the noble disciple might come back to this world.

Bhikkhus, when the nutriment contact has been fully understood, the three feelings have been fully understood. When the three feelings have been fully understood, there is nothing further for the noble disciple to do, I say.

Bhikkhus, when the nutriment mental volition has been fully understood, the three kinds of craving have been fully understood. When the three kinds of craving have been fully understood, there is nothing further for the noble disciple to do, I say.

Bhikkhus, when the nutriment consciousness has been fully understood, mentality-materiality has been fully understood. When mentality-materiality has been fully understood, there is nothing further for the noble disciple to do, I say.

The Arising and Cessation of Nutriment

With the arising of craving there is the arising of nutriment (tanhasamudaya aharasamudayo): This is the meaning: “With the arising of craving in the previous (existence) the arising of the nutriments occurs at rebirth-linking (in this existence).” How? Because at the moment of rebirth-linking there is the nutritive essence produced among the thirty types of materiality that have arisen by way of triple continuity.38 This is the kammically acquired physical food as nutriment produced by craving as its condition. But the contact and volition associated with the rebirth-linking consciousness, and that mind or consciousness itself — these are the kammically acquired nutriments of contact, mental volition and consciousness produced by craving as their condition. Thus, in the first place, the arising of the nutriments at rebirth-linking should be understood as occurring with the arising of craving in the previous existence.

But because the nutriments that are kammically acquired and those that are not kammically acquired have been discussed here combined, (the principle of) the arising of nutriment with the arising of craving should be understood to apply also to those that are not kammically acquired. For there is nutritive essence in the kinds of materiality that are aroused by the eight types of consciousness accompanied by greed;39 this is the nutriment physical food that is not kammically acquired yet is produced by conascent craving as its condition. But the contact and volition associated with the consciousness accompanied by greed, and that mind or consciousness itself — these are the nutriments of contact, mental volition and consciousness that are not kammically acquired yet are produced by craving as their condition.

With the cessation of craving there is cessation of nutriment (tanhanirodha aharanirodho): By this there is set forth the cessation of nutriment by the cessation of the craving that had become the condition for both nutriment that is kammically acquired and that which is not kammically acquired. The rest (should be understood) by the method stated, but there is this difference. Here the four truths are stated directly, and as here, so in all the following sections. Therefore one who is unconfused in mind can deduce the truths throughout in what follows.40

12. And in all the following sections the delimiting phrase In that way too, friends (ettavata pi kho avuso) should be construed according to the principle that has been expounded. Here, in the first place, this is the interpretation of it (in the present context). “In that way too”: what is meant is: “the attention and penetration stated by way of the teaching concerning nutriment.” The same method throughout.

The Four Noble Truths

14. Now, delighting and rejoicing in the Elder’s words, after saying as before “Good, friend,” the bhikkhus asked a further question, and the Elder answered them by another exposition. This method is found in all the following sections. Therefore, from here onwards, we shall explain the meaning only of the particular exposition he states in reply, without touching upon such words (as are already explained).

15. In the brief exposition of this teaching, in the phrase (he) understands suffering (dukkham pajanati), “suffering” is the truth of suffering. But regarding the detailed exposition, whatever needs to be said has all been said already in the Visuddhimagga in the Description of the Truths (XVI,13-104).

Aging and Death

21. From here onwards the teaching is given by way of dependent arising (paticca samuppada).

22. Therein, in the section on aging and death, firstly as to the term their (tesam tesam) — this should be understood as a collective designation in brief for the many kinds of beings. For if one were to state (the aging of individuals such as) the aging of Devadatta, the aging of Somadatta, etc., one would never come to an end of beings. But there is no being not included by this term “their.”41 Therefore it was said above: “This should be understood as a collective designation in brief for the many kinds of beings.”

In the various (tamhi tamhi): This is a collective designation for the many (different) orders by way of destiny and birth. Orders of beings (sattanikaye): an indication of the nature of what is designated by the collective designation.

Aging, old age (jara jiranata), etc.: As regards these, “aging” is the description of the nature; “old age” is the description of the aspect; “brokenness,” etc., are descriptions of the function with respect to the passage of time; and the last two terms are descriptions of the normal (process). For this is indicated as to nature by this term aging (jara); hence this is a description of its nature. It is indicated as to aspect by this term old age (jiranata); hence this is a description of its aspect. Brokenness (khandicca): by this it is indicated as to the function of causing the broken state of teeth and nails on account of the passage of time. Grayness (palicca): by this it is indicated as to the function of causing the head hairs and body hairs to turn gray. Wrinkling (valittacata): by this it is indicated as to the wrinkled state of the skin after the withering of the flesh. Hence the three terms beginning with brokenness are descriptions of function with respect to the passage of time. By these evident aging is shown, which becomes evident by the showing of these alterations. For just as the course taken by water or wind or fire is evident from the damaged and broken state, or the burnt state, of the grass and trees, etc., and yet the course that has been taken is not the water, etc., itself, so too the course taken by aging is evident through brokenness of teeth, etc., and it is apprehended by opening the eyes, but the brokenness, etc., themselves are not aging, nor is aging cognizable by the eye.

Decline of life, weakness of faculties (ayuno samhani indriyanam paripako): By these terms it is indicated by means of the normal (process) known as the exhaustion of the life-span and the weakening of the eye faculty, etc., that has become manifest with the passage of time. Hence these last two are to be understood as descriptions of its normal (process).

Therein, because the life-span of one who has reached aging is dwindling, aging is called “decline of life” as a metaphor (for the cause stated in terms) of its effect. And because the eye faculty, etc. — which at the time of youth were quite clear and could easily grasp even subtle objects — become deficient, obscure, unable to grasp even gross objects when one has reached old age, therefore it is called “weakness of faculties” also as a metaphor (for the cause stated in terms) of its effect.

This aging, thus described, is all of two kinds, evident and concealed. Therein, the aging of material phenomena, shown by brokenness, etc., is called evident aging (pakatajara). But in the case of immaterial phenomena, because their alteration in such a way is not visible, their aging is called concealed aging (paticchannajara). Therein, the brokenness that is seen is simply color (vanna) because of the ease of comprehending such things as the teeth, etc. Having seen this with the eye and reflected on it with the mind door, one knows aging thus: “These teeth have been afflicted by aging,” just as one knows the existence of water below when one has noticed the heads of cows, etc., bound to the place where the water is located.

Again, aging is twofold thus: as continuous and as discrete. Therein, continuous aging (avicijara) is the aging of such things as gems, gold, silver, coral, the sun and moon, etc.; it is so called because of the difficulty of perceiving in such things distinct changes in color, etc., at regular intervals, as we can in the case of living beings passing through the decade of childhood, etc., and in the case of vegetation (lit. non-breathing things) such as flowers, fruits, buds, etc. The meaning is: aging that progresses without interval. Discrete aging (savicijara) is the aging of the things other than those, i.e., of the aforesaid things (living beings and vegetation); it is so called because it is easy to perceive in them distinct changes in color, etc., at regular intervals. So it should be understood.

Following this (in the definition of death) the term their (tesam tesam) should be understood by the method stated above (in the definition of aging). Then, in the expression passing, passing away, etc., passing (cuti) is said by way of what has the nature to pass away; this is a collective designation (applying) to one-, four-, and five-aggregate (existence). Passing away (cavanata) is the indication of the characteristic by a word expressing the abstract state. Dissolution (bheda) is an indication of the occurrence of the breaking up of the aggregates (at the time) of passing. Disappearance (antaradhana) is an indication of the absence of any manner of persistence of the aggregates (at the time) of passing, as they are broken like a broken pot.

Dying (maccu marana): death which is called dying. By this he rejects the idea of death as complete annihilation. Completion of time (kalakiriya): time is the destroyer, and this (completion of time) is its activity. By this he explains death in conventional terminology.

Now, to explain death in (terms valid in) the ultimate sense, he next says the dissolution of the aggregates (khandhanam bhedo), etc.42 For in the ultimate sense it is only the aggregates that break up; it is not any so called being that dies. But when the aggregates are breaking up convention says “a being is dying,” and when they have broken up convention says “(he is) dead.”

Here the dissolution of the aggregates is said by way of four- [and five-] constituent being; the laying down of the body (kalevarassa nikkhepo) by way of one-constituent being.43 Or alternatively, the dissolution of the aggregates is said by way of four-constituent being; the laying down of the body should be understood by way of the other two (i.e., one- and five-constituent being). Why? Because of the existence of the body, that is, the material body, in those two realms of being. Or else, because in the realm of the Four Great Kings, etc., the aggregates simply break up and they do not lay anything down, the dissolution of the aggregates is said with reference to them.44 The laying down of the body occurs among human beings, etc. And here, because it is the cause for the laying down of the body, death is called the laying down of the body. Thus the meaning should be understood.

So this aging and this death are what is called aging and death (iti ayan ca jara idan ca maranam idam vuccat’avuso jaramaranam): this is spoken of as “aging and death” by combining the two into one.


26. In the section on birth, in regard to the phrase birth,… their coming to birth, etc., birth (jati) is in the sense of being born; this is stated with reference to those (conceived) with incomplete sense bases. Coming to birth (sanjati) is in the sense of the act of coming to birth; this is stated with reference to those (conceived) with already complete sense bases. Precipitation (or descent, okkanti) is in the sense of being precipitated (descending). This is stated with reference to those born from the egg and from the womb, for they take rebirth-linking as though descending and entering the egg shell or the placenta. Generation (abhinibbatti) is in the sense of being generated. This is stated with reference to those born from moisture or those of spontaneous birth, for these are generated as soon as they become manifest.

Now comes the exposition in (terms valid in) the ultimate sense. Manifestation (patubhava) is the arising. Of the aggregates (khandhanam) is to be understood as (the arising) of one aggregate in the one-constituent realm of being, of four aggregates in four-constituent realms, and of five aggregates in five-constituent realms. Obtaining (patilabha) is the manifestation in continuity. The bases (ayatananam) should be understood as comprising the sense bases arising (at conception) in this or that realm. For when the sense bases become manifest, then they are said to be obtained.

This is called birth (ayam vuccat’avuso jati): by this phrase he comes to the conclusion on birth taught in both conventional terms and in the ultimate sense.

With the arising of being (bhavasamudaya): but here one should understand kammically active being as the condition for birth. The rest by the method stated.


30. In the section on being, sense-sphere being (kamabhava) is kammically active being and resultant being. Therein, kammically active being (kammabhava) is kamma itself that leads to sense-sphere being. For that is called “being” as a designation of the cause in terms of its effect, because it is the cause for resultant being, as when it is said: “The arising of Buddhas is bliss” and “The accumulation of evil is painful” (Dhp. 194, 117). Resultant being (upapattibhava) is the group of kammically acquired aggregates produced by that kamma. For that is called “being” because it exists there. Thus this kamma and this result are both spoken of conjointly as “sense-sphere being.” The same method applies to fine-material being and immaterial being (ruparupabhava).

With the arising of clinging (upadanasamudaya): But here clinging is a condition for wholesome kammically active being only by way of decisive support; it is a condition for unwholesome kammically active being by way of both decisive support and conascence.45 For all resultant being it is a condition only by way of decisive support. The rest by the method stated.


34. In the section on clinging, in regard to the phrase “clinging to sense pleasures,” etc., clinging to sense pleasures (kamupadana) is analyzed thus: by this one clings to the object of sensual pleasure, or this itself clings to it. Or alternatively: that is a sensual pleasure and it is clinging, thus it is clinging to sensual pleasure. It is firm grasping (dalhagahana) that is called clinging. For here the prefix upa has the sense of firmness. This is a designation for the lust for the five cords of sensual pleasure. This is the brief account here. The detailed account should be understood by the method stated thus: “Therein, what is clinging to sensual pleasures? The sensual desire in regard to sensual pleasures,” etc. (Dhs. Section 1214).

So too, that is a view and clinging, thus it is clinging to views (ditthupadana). Or alternatively: it clings to a view, or by this they cling to a view. For the subsequent view clings to the previous view and thereby they cling to the view. As it is said: “Self and the world are eternal; only this is true, anything else is false,” etc. (M.102/ii, 233). This is a designation for the whole field of (wrong) views except clinging to rituals and observances and clinging to a doctrine of self.46 This is the brief account here. The detailed account should be understood by the method stated thus: “Therein, what is clinging to views? There is nothing given,” etc. (Dhs. Section 1215).

So too, by this they cling to rituals and observances, or this itself clings to them, or that is a ritual and observance and clinging, thus it is clinging to rituals and observances (silabbatupadana). For when one adheres to the idea that the cow ritual or cow observance brings purification, that itself is a clinging.47 This is the brief account here. The detailed account should be understood by the method stated thus: “Therein, what is clinging to rituals and observances? (The idea) of recluses and brahmans outside here (i.e., outside the Buddha’s dispensation) that purity (is achieved) by rules,” etc. (Dhs. Section 1216).

Now they assert in terms of this, thus it is a doctrine. By this they cling, thus it is clinging. What do they assert? Or what do they cling to? Self. The clinging to a doctrine about a self is the clinging to a doctrine of self (attavadupadana). Or alternatively: by this a mere doctrine of self is clung to as self, thus it is clinging to a doctrine of self. This is a designation for personality view with its twenty cases. This is the brief account here. The detailed account should be understood by the method stated thus: “Therein, what is clinging to a doctrine of self? Here, the uninstructed worldling who has no regard for noble ones,” etc. (Dhs. Section 1217).

With the arising of craving (tanhasamudaya): here, craving is a condition for clinging to sensual pleasures either by way of decisive support or by way of proximity, contiguity, absence, disappearance and repetition.48 But for the rest (it is a condition) by way of conascence, etc., too. The rest by the method stated.


38. In the section on craving, craving for forms… craving for mind-objects (rupatanha… dhammatanha): these are names for the kinds of craving which occur in the course of a javana cognitive process (javanavithi) in the eye door, etc. Like a name derived from the father, such as Setthiputta (”merchant’s son”) or Brahmanaputta (”brahman’s son”), their names are derived from the object, which is similar to the father [as being the cause (hetu) of it only, not as is the case with “eye-contact,” which is like a name derived from the mother in that (the eye like the mother in relation to her son) is a cause by its nature as a physical support (nissayabhava)].

And here, craving for forms is craving that has forms as its object, craving in regard to forms. When this occurs by finding gratification in visible forms through its nature as sensual lust, it is craving for sensual pleasure (kamatanha). When it occurs by finding gratification in visible forms, thinking “Form is permanent, lasting, eternal,” through its nature as lust accompanied by the eternalist view, then it is craving for being (bhavatanha). When it occurs by finding gratification in visible form, thinking “Form is annihilated, destroyed, and does not exist after death,” through its nature as lust accompanied by the annihilationist view, then it is craving for non-being (vibhavatanha). Thus it is threefold. And as craving for form, so too craving for sound, etc., (are each threefold too). Thus there are eighteen modes of craving. These eighteen in respect of internal visible form, etc., and in respect of external visible form, etc., come to thirty-six. So thirty-six in the past, thirty-six in the future, and thirty-six at present make up a hundred and eight.

Or there are eighteen based on internal form, etc., thus: “On account of the internal there is (the notion) ‘I am,’ there is (the notion) ‘I am such and such,’ ” and so on; and there are eighteen based on external form, etc., thus: “On account of the external there is (the notion) ‘I am,’ there is (the notion) ‘I am such and such,’ ” and so on. Thus there are thirty-six. So thirty-six in the past, thirty-six in the future, and thirty-six at present make up thus the hundred and eight modes of craving (tanhavicaritani; see A. 4:199/ii, 212).

Again, when a classification is made, they reduce to only six classes of craving — in terms of their objects, forms and the rest — and to only three types of craving — craving for sensual pleasure and the rest. Thus:

Craving should be known by the wise
Through description and when described
In detail; it (should be known) again
Through classification of the detail.

With the arising of feeling there is the arising of craving (vedanasamudaya tanhasamudayo): But here the word “feeling” is intended as resultant feeling.49 How is that the condition for craving in respect of the six sense doors? Because of its ability to produce gratification. For it is through the gratification in pleasant feeling that beings become enamored of that feeling, and after arousing craving for feeling and being seized by lust for feeling, they long only for a desirable visible form in the eye door. And on getting it, they find gratification in it, and they honor painters, etc., who provide such objects. Likewise, they long only for a desirable sound, etc., in the ear door, etc. And on getting it, they find gratification in it, and they honor musicians, perfume makers, cooks, spinners and the teachers of the various crafts. Like what? Like those who, being enamored of a child, out of love for the child honor the wet-nurse and give her suitable ghee, milk, etc., to eat and drink. The rest by the method stated.


42. In the section on feeling, classes of feeling (vedanakaya) means groups of feeling. Feeling born of eye-contact… feeling born of mind-contact (cakkhusamphassaja vedana… manosamphassaja vedana): because of what has come down in the Vibhanga thus: “There is feeling born of eye-contact that is wholesome, that is unwholesome, that is indeterminate” (Vibh. 15), the wholesome, unwholesome and indeterminate feelings that occur in the eye door, etc., are named after the physical base, which is similar to a mother, just as some are named after their mother, such as “Sariputta (Lady Sari’s son),” “Mantaniputta (Lady Mantani’s son),” etc.

But the word meaning here is this: feeling born of eye-contact (cakkhusamphassaja vedana) is feeling that is born with eye-contact as the cause. The same method throughout. This, in the first place, is the all-inclusive explanation. But by way of resultant, in the eye-door there are two eye-consciousnesses, two mind elements, three mind-consciousness elements; feeling should be understood as what is associated with these.50 This method also applies in the ear door, etc. In the mind door, (feeling) is associated only with the mind-consciousness elements.

With the arising of contact (phassasamudaya): But here the arising in the five doors of the feelings that have the five physical bases (as their support) occurs with the arising of the conascent eye-contact. For the rest, eye-contact, etc., are conditions by way of decisive support. In the mind door, the arising of feelings (on the occasion) of registration and of the doorless feelings (on the occasions) of rebirth-linking, life-continuum and death occurs with the arising of the conascent mind-contact.51 The rest by the method stated.


46. In the section on contact, eye-contact (cakkhusamphassa) is contact in the eye. The same method throughout. Eye-contact… body-contact (cakkhusamphasso… kayasamphasso): up to this point ten kinds of contact have been stated, namely, the wholesome- and unwholesome-resultants having the five physical bases (as their support). Mind-contact (manosamphassa): by this (he indicates) the remaining twenty-two kinds of contact associated with the mundane resultant (types of consciousness).52

With the arising of the sixfold base (salayatanasamudaya): The arising of this sixfold contact should be understood to occur by way of the arising of the six bases beginning with the eye-base. The rest by the method stated.

The Sixfold Base

50. In the section on the sixfold base, as regards the eye-base (cakkhayatana), etc., whatever should be said has all been said already in the Visuddhimagga in the Description of the Aggregates and in the Description of the Bases (XIV, 37-52; XV, 1-16).

With the arising of mentality-materiality (namarupasamudaya): But here the arising of the sixfold base should be understood to occur from the arising of mentality-materiality according to the method stated in the Visuddhimagga in the Description of Dependent Arising, as to which mentality, which materiality, and which mentality-materiality are a condition for which base (XVII, 206-219).


54. In the section on mentality-materiality, mentality (nama) has the characteristic of bending (namana); materiality (rupa) has the characteristic of being molested (ruppana).53 In the detailed section, however, feeling (vedana) is to be understood as the feeling aggregate, perception (sañña) as the perception aggregate, and volition, contact and attention (cetana phasso manasikaro) as the formations aggregate. While it is certainly the case that other states are included in the formations aggregate, still these three are found in all classes of consciousness, even the weakest. That is why the formations aggregate is here pointed out only by means of these three.

The four great elements (cattari mahabhutani): this is a designation for the four — earth, water, fire and air. The reason why these are called “great elements,” and other determinations concerning them, are all stated in the Visuddhimagga in the Description of the Materiality Aggregate.54

Derived from the four great elements (catunnan ca mahabhutanam upadaya): derived from (upadaya) = having clung to (upadayitva); “having grasped” is the meaning. Some also say “depending upon” (nissaya). And here the reading is completed by adding the word “existing” (vattamanam). The Pali uses the genitive (in the term for the elements) in the sense of a group. Hence the meaning here should be understood thus: the materiality that exists derived from the group of the four great elements.

Thus materiality taken altogether is to be understood as consisting of all the following: the four great elements beginning with the earth element, and the materiality that exists derived from the four great elements, stated in the canonical Abhidhamma to be of twenty-three kinds by analysis into the eye-base, etc.55

With the arising of consciousness (viññanasamudaya): But here the arising of mentality-materiality should be understood to occur with the arising of consciousness according to the method stated in the Visuddhimagga in the Description of Dependent Arising, as to which consciousness is a condition for which mentality, for which materiality, and for which mentality-materiality (XVII, 186-202). The rest by the method stated.


58. In the section on consciousness, eye-consciousness (cakkhuviññana) is consciousness in the eye or consciousness born from the eye. So also with ear-, nose-, tongue- and body-consciousness. But with the other one, i.e., mind-consciousness (manoviññana), mind itself is consciousness. This is a designation for the resultant consciousness of the three (mundane) planes of existence except for the two groups of fivefold consciousness.56

With the arising of formations (sankharasamudaya): But here the arising of consciousness should be understood to occur with the arising of formations according to the method stated in the Visuddhimagga, as to which formation is a condition for which consciousness (XVII, 175-185).


62. In the section on formations, a formation (sankhara) has the characteristic of forming (abhisankharanalakkhana). But in the detailed section, the bodily formation (kayasankhara) is a formation that proceeds from the body. This is a designation for the twenty kinds of bodily volition — the eight sense-sphere wholesome and twelve unwholesome — that occur by way of activation in the bodily door.57 The verbal formation (vacisankhara) is a formation that proceeds from speech. This is a designation for the (same) twenty kinds of verbal volition that occur by way of breaking into speech in the door of speech. The mental formation (cittasankhara) is a formation that proceeds from the mind. This is a designation for the twenty-nine kinds of mental volition — the mundane wholesome and unwholesome — that occur in one sitting alone in thought, and which do not cause activation of the bodily and verbal doors.58

With the arising of ignorance (avijjasamudaya): But here ignorance should be understood as a condition for the wholesome by way of decisive support and for the unwholesome by way of conascence as well. The rest by the method stated.


66. In the section on ignorance, not knowing about suffering (dukkhe aññanam) means not knowing about the truth of suffering. This is a designation for delusion (moha). The same method with respect to “not knowing about the origin of suffering,” and so on.

Herein, not knowing about suffering should be understood in four ways: as to containment (antogadhato), as to physical basis (vatthuto), as to object (arammanato), and as to concealment (paticchadanato). Thus, because of being included in the truth of suffering, it (”not knowing” or ignorance) is contained in suffering; and the truth of suffering is its physical basis by being its support condition; and (the truth of suffering) is its object by being its object condition; and it conceals the truth of suffering by preventing the penetration of its real characteristic and by not allowing knowledge to occur in regard to it.

Not knowing about the origin (of suffering) should be understood in three ways: as to physical basis, as to object, and as to concealment. And not knowing about cessation and the way (to cessation) should be understood in one way only: as to concealment. For non-knowledge only conceals cessation and the way by preventing the penetration of their real characteristics and by not allowing knowledge to occur in regard to them. But it is not contained in them because it is not included in this pair of truths. And these two truths are not its physical basis because they are not conascent. Nor are they its object because of its non-occurrence on account of them. For the last pair of truths are difficult to see because of their profundity, and non-knowledge, which is blind, does not occur there. But the first (pair of truths) is profound in the sense of opposition because of the difficulty in seeing the characteristic of their intrinsic nature; it occurs there by way of obsession by the perversions.

Furthermore: About suffering (dukkhe): to this extent ignorance is indicated as to inclusion, as to physical basis, as to object, and as to function. About the origin of suffering (dukkhasamudaye): to this extent, as to basis, as to object, and as to function. About the cessation of suffering (dukkhanirodhe) and about the way leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkhanirodhagaminiya patipadaya): to this extent, as to function. But without distinction, (in each instance) ignorance is described in terms of its intrinsic nature by the phrase “not knowing.”

With the arising of the taints (asavasamudaya): But here the taint of sensual desire and the taint of being are conditions for ignorance by way of conascence, etc.; the taint of ignorance, only by way of decisive support. And here the ignorance that had arisen previously should be understood as the taint of ignorance. That is a decisive support condition for the ignorance that arises subsequently. The rest by the method stated.

The Taints

70. In the section on the taints, with the arising of ignorance (avijjasamudaya): Here ignorance is a condition for the taint of sensual desire and the taint of being by way of decisive support, etc.; (it is a condition) for the taint of ignorance only by way of decisive support. And here the ignorance that arises subsequently should be understood as the taint of ignorance. The previously arisen ignorance itself becomes a decisive support condition for the subsequently arisen taint of ignorance. The rest by the aforesaid method.

This section is stated by way of showing the condition for the ignorance which heads the factors of dependent arising. Stated thus, the undiscoverability (anamataggata) of any beginning of samsara is established. How? Because with the arising of the taints there is the arising of ignorance, and with the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. Thus the taints are a condition for ignorance, and ignorance is a condition for the taints. Having shown this, (it follows that) no first point of ignorance is manifest, and because none is manifest the undiscoverability of any beginning of samsara is proven.59


Thus in all this sutta sixteen sections have been stated: the section on the courses of kamma, the section on nutriment, the section on suffering, and the sections on aging and death, birth, being, clinging, craving, feeling, contact, the sixfold base, mentality-materiality, consciousness, formations, ignorance and the taints.

As to these, in each individual section there is a twofold analysis — in brief and in detail — amounting to thirty-two cases. Thus in this sutta, in these thirty-two cases, the Four (Noble) Truths are expounded. Among these, in the sixteen cases stated in detail, arahantship is expounded.

But according to the opinion of the Elder, the four truths and the four paths are expounded in the thirty-two cases.60 Thus in the entire Word of the Buddha comprised in the five great Nikayas, there is no sutta except for this Discourse on Right View where the Four (Noble) Truths are explained thirty-two times and where arahantship is explained thirty-two times.

That is what the Venerable Sariputta said (idam avoc’ayasma Sariputto): The Venerable Sariputta spoke this Discourse on Right View, having adorned it with sixty-four divisions — thirty-two expositions of the four truths and thirty-two expositions of arahantship. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Venerable Sariputta’s words.

In the Papañcasudani, the Commentary to the Majjhima Nikaya, the Explanation of the Discourse on Right View is concluded.

Notes [go up]

1. The term sammaditthi is ordinarily used to mean simply a state, the path factor of right view. Here, however, the Pali expression is used as a masculine noun to mean, in the first instance, a person possessing right view; hence it has been rendered “one of right view.” The commentator contrasts this unusual usage of the term with the more common usage where sammaditthi signifies a state (dhamma), that is, the path factor rather than the individual endowed with that state.

2. The knowledge of kamma as one’s own (kammassakatañana) is often expressed in the Suttas thus: “I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma, I spring from my kamma, I am bound to my kamma, I have kamma as my refuge. Whatever kamma I perform, good or bad, of that I am the heir.” In short, it is knowledge of the moral efficacy of action, of the fact that one’s willed deeds fashion one’s destiny. Knowledge in conformity with the truths (saccanulomikañana) is conceptual knowledge of the Four Noble Truths, accompanied by understanding and acceptance of them.

3. The understanding or wisdom (pañña) connected with the paths and fruits is supramundane because its object is the supramundane dhamma, Nibbana, and because it leads to the overcoming of the world.

4. A disciple in higher training (sekha) is one at any of the three lower levels of sanctity — a stream-enterer, once-returner, or non-returner — or one who has reached their respective paths. His right view is said to be fixed in destiny (niyata) because it necessarily leads to final liberation.

5. The “one beyond training” (asekha) is the arahant, so called because he has completed the threefold training in virtue, concentration and wisdom.

6. The ninefold supramundane Dhamma: the four paths, the four fruitions, and Nibbana.

7. The interpretation of “the bhikkhus” and “the Elder” is offered by Sub. Cy., which also presents an alternative interpretation, based on the commentary to the Vatthupama Sutta (M.7) according to which the bhikkhus are the pupils of the Elder Mahasangharakkhita and “the Elder” is the Elder Mahasangharakkhita.

8. See commentary to the third parajika offence.

9. See commentary to the second parajika offence.

10. The meaning of several of these terms, obscure in the original Pali, has been elaborated with the aid of the Sub. Cy.

11. Consent (adhivasana) is included to cover the case where one of the partners is initially an unwilling victim of another’s assault, but during the course of union consents to the act and thereby becomes a participant.

12. These are references to the two great classics of Hindu India, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

13. Wrong views of fixed destiny (niyata micchaditthi) are views which deny the moral efficacy of action or which tend to undermine the foundations of morality. For the most common examples, see D.2/i, 52-56, and M.76/i, 515-18.

14. The chief factor in the first seven courses of kamma is volition; the other three courses are identical with the mental factors of greed, hatred and wrong view, which are associated with volition in the states of consciousness in which they arise.

15. This refers to the Abhidhamma classification of consciousness, according to which wholesome sense-sphere consciousness is of eight types, four associated with knowledge, four dissociated from knowledge. The abstinences, according to the Abhidhamma, occur in sense-sphere consciousness only one at a time on occasions when one deliberately abstains from some wrong. In supramundane consciousness all three abstinences — right speech, right action and right livelihood — occur together simultaneously.

16. Right view is synonymous with the mental factor of wisdom (pañña) or non-delusion (amoha); it is always accompanied by the other two wholesome roots, though the latter do not necessarily occur in conjunction with right view.

17. Literally, or in the strict sense (nippariyayena), only covetousness and greed, being synonyms of craving (tanha), count as the origin of suffering. But in a looser or figurative manner of exposition (pariyayena) all the roots are the truth of the origin, since as roots of kamma they help to sustain the round of rebirth and suffering.

18. The guideline of conversion (avattahara) is one of the methods of deduction in the exegetical guide, the Nettippakarana. According to this guideline, an expositor of a sutta is to extract from a particular text a standard doctrinal concept belonging to a dichotomy, and then taking this concept as a basis, he is to show that the other member of the dichotomy is also implied by the passage under consideration, and therefore “turns up” when the first member is mentioned.

19. The path of non-return (anagamimagga) is stated because this path eradicates all sensual lust and aversion.

20. The path of arahantship is implied by the eradication of conceit and ignorance and by the arousing of true knowledge.

21. The verb aharati normally means “to bring,” but here it is rendered as “nourish” to underscore its connection with ahara, nutriment.

22. On the four yoni or modes of generation, see M.12/i, 73.

23. According to the Abhidhamma, the nutriment proper is the material phenomenon called nutritive essence (oja), while the solid food ingested is the mere “basis” (vatthu) of the nutritive essence.

24. The point is that while in conventional terms food substances are distinguished as gross or subtle, this distinction is made in terms of the physical base only. The Abhidhamma classifies nutritive essence as subtle materiality (sukhumarupa); it contrasts with gross materiality (olarikarupa), which includes only the five sense organs and their objects.

25. This is the highest realm among the sense-sphere heavens. Above this come the Brahma realms, where physical nutriment is non-existent.

26. This is the simplest kind of material group (rupakalapa) recognized by the Abhidhamma theory of matter. It consists of the four primary elements, along with color, smell, taste, and nutritive essence. All the more complex material groups also contain these eight phenomena as their foundation. Material groups in a living organism require an input of nutriment in order to endure in continuity.

27. Conascence condition (sahajatapaccaya) is the condition whereby the conditioning state contributes to the arising or maintenance of another state, the conditionally arisen state, when the latter arises simultaneously with itself. Consciousness is a conascence condition for the three other mental aggregates — feeling, perception and mental formations — both at rebirth and during the course of life. At rebirth it is also a conascence condition for the “triple continuity,” i.e., the three material decads of body-sensitivity, sexual determination and the heart-base. Each of these consists of the above-mentioned eight material units along with physical life and, as the tenth factor, the material phenomenon after which it is named.

28. Kammically acquired materiality (upadinnarupa) is matter that is born of kamma. It includes the physical sense faculties, the life faculty, masculinity, femininity, and the coexisting material phenomena in the same group. Though such types of matter are produced by kamma rather than by nutriment, they require nutriment to sustain them in continuity.

29. The Lakkhana Samyutta (S.19/ii, 254-62) describes the torments experienced by beings in the realm of the petas or “afflicted spirits.”

30. These similes are taken from the Puttamamsa Sutta, the Discourse on Son’s Flesh (S.12:63/ii, 97-100). See Nyanaponika Thera, The Four Nutriments of Life (BPS Wheel No. 104/105, 1967), pp. 19-40, for the sutta along with its commentary.

31. A yojana is about seven miles.

32. The cow-observance and the dog-observance are forms of self-mortification which ascetics of the Buddha’s time practiced in the hope of purification; see M.57/i, 387. Apparently, women also observed them for short periods in the hope they would make them fertile.

33. The commentary to the Puttamamsa Sutta develops this analogy in greater detail than the present commentary.

34. The sutta elaborates as follows: If the cow stands, the creatures in the air attack it; if it leans against a wall, the creatures in the wall attack it; if it lies down, the creatures in the ground attack it; if it enters a pool of water, the creatures in the water attack it.

35. Contact arises from the coming together of an object, a physical basis or sense faculty (vatthu), and the corresponding type of consciousness.

36. The simile as given in the sutta is this: Two strong men grab hold of a weaker man by both arms and drag him towards a blazing charcoal pit. He wriggles and struggles to get free because he knows that if he is thrown into the pit, he will meet death or deadly pain.

37. The king’s men arrest a thief and bring him before the king. The king orders him struck with a hundred spears in the morning, another hundred at noon, and a third hundred in the evening. The man survives but experiences deadly pain.

38. See note 27.

39. The eight types of consciousness accompanied by greed are distinguished by the presence or absence of wrong view, by their accompanying feeling which may be pleasant or neutral, and by whether they are spontaneous or prompted.

40. The principle of the Four Noble Truths can be discerned in the format of the exposition: a particular item X, the arising of X, the cessation of X, and the way to the cessation of X.

41. In Pali the repetition tesam tesam, lit. “of them, of them,” is understood to imply complete inclusiveness. The same applies to tamhi tamhi, “in that, in that,” just below.

42. Whereas the previous definitions were framed in conventional terminology, those valid in the ultimate sense (paramatthato) define their subject solely in terms of “ultimate realities” such as aggregates and sense bases.

43. The various realms of existence are analyzed as threefold on the basis of the number of aggregates existing there. One-constituent being is the non-percipient realm (asannibhumi), which includes only the aggregate of material form. Four-constituent being is the four immaterial realms, which contain the four mental aggregates but not the aggregate of material form. Five-constituent being comprises all other realms, in which all five aggregates are present.

44. It seems that in the sense-sphere heavens, at death the beings simply dissipate into thin air, without leaving behind any corpse.

45. Decisive support condition (upanissayapaccaya) and conascence condition (sahajatapaccaya) are the two chief conditions among the twenty-four conditions of the Patthana or Abhidhammic system of conditional relations. Decisive support holds between a conditioning state and a conditioned state that it helps to arise across an interval of time. Conascence condition holds between a conditioning state and a conditioned state that arise simultaneously. See also note 27 above.

46. Clinging to rituals and observances and clinging to a doctrine of self are both types of wrong view, but as they are enumerated as individual kinds of clinging in their own right, they are not included under clinging to views.

47. See above, note 32.

48. These are conditional relations that hold between successive mind-moments in the javana phase of a single cognitive process (cittavithi).

49. Resultant feeling alone is intended here because this is an exposition of the round of existence, and in the formula of dependent arising the factors from consciousness through feeling are classified as the resultant phase of the round.

50. The two eye-consciousness elements are the wholesome-resultant and the unwholesome-resultant; the two resultant mind elements are the wholesome-resultant and the unwholesome-resultant receiving consciousness (sampaticchanacitta); the three resultant mind-consciousness elements are three types of investigating consciousness (santiranacitta).

51. The registration consciousness (tadarammanacitta) is a resultant type of consciousness that occurs through any of the sense doors. Its function is to register the datum that had been the object of the preceding javana series. The rebirth, life-continuum (bhavanga) and death consciousnesses are resultants that are considered to be “doorless” (advarika) because they occur at an inner subliminal level, not through the intercourse of sense organs and sense objects.

52. This refers to the Abhidhamma classification of thirty-two types of resultant consciousness, of which twenty-two remain besides the ten types of sense-consciousness, five resultants of the unwholesome and five of the wholesome. The details are not necessary here.

53. These two definitions involve word plays difficult to reproduce in English. Ven. Ñanamoli has a note suggesting, half flippantly, “minding” for namana and “mattering” for ruppana.

54. In fact the Visuddhimagga discusses the four great elements not in its chapter on the Description of the Aggregates (Ch. XIV), but in the chapter on the meditation subject called the definition of the elements (Ch. XI).

55. Some instances of derived materiality are: the five sense faculties, color, sound, smell, taste, the life faculty, sexual determination, nutritive essence, space, etc.

56. The three planes of existence were enumerated in Section 30. Only resultant consciousness is taken into account here because this is an exposition of the round.

57. The figures for the types of consciousness again come from the Abhidhamma. These types of consciousness can come to expression either through the door of bodily action or the door of speech, or they can remain within and not gain outer expression.

58. The nine types of volition which do not come to expression by body or speech are the five volitions of the five fine-material-sphere jhanas and the four of the four immaterial-sphere jhanas.

59. Elsewhere the Buddha says: “A first point of ignorance cannot be discovered, of which it can be said: Before that there was no ignorance and it came to be after that” (A.10:61/v,113). In that sutta the Buddha cites the five hindrances as the condition for ignorance, but as these in turn presuppose ignorance, the vicious cycle is again established.

60. For the identity of the dissenting Elder, see Section 3 and note 7.

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