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
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.
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 (panna),
for it provides the germ out of which experiential right view gradually
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
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.
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
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.
translation of the Sammaditthi Sutta and its commentary presented here has
been adapted from manuscripts left behind by Bhikkhu Nanamoli. The
translation of the sutta has been adapted from Ven. Nanamoli'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. Nanamoli's own technical terminology with my own
preferred renderings of Pali doctrinal terms.
commentary to the Sammaditthi Sutta is from the Papancasudani, Acariya
Buddhaghosa's complete commentary (atthakatha) to the Majjhima
Nikaya. The translation of the commentary has also been adapted from a
rendering by Ven. Nanamoli, 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. Nanamoli'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. Nanamoli'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
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. Nanamoli 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. The backnotes are entirely my own.
Nanamoli 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. Nanamoli 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
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
The Commentary to the Discourse on Right
have I heard: the Sammaditthi Sutta.
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
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. Understanding connected with
the noble paths and fruits is supramundane right view.
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, the one beyond
training on account of (the right view) that is beyond training.
"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. 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
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.
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."
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
The Unwholesome Courses of Action
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
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.
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.
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.
six means: one's own person, command, a missile, a fixed contrivance,
a magical spell, supernormal power.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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. The means is
single: one's own person.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!"
(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. 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
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).
to mental state: The first seven among these are volitional states
only. The three beginning with covetousness are associated with
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.
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).
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.
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
The Unwholesome Roots
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
to mental state: The first seven among these can be both volitions and
abstinences; the last three are associated with volition only.
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.
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
feeling: All have pleasant feeling or neutral feeling. For there is
no painful feeling which arrives at the wholesome.
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.
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. 
The Wholesome Roots
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
THE FOUR NUTRIMENTS
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.
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.
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, 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."
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
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
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. 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. And also
that grossness and subtlety should be understood relatively in respect
of the basis.
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. But saying,
"Their nutriment is subtle," the end is reached.
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.
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 (vinnanam):
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"
this nutriment, and what does it nourish? Physical nutriment nourishes
the materiality with nutritive essence as eighth;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
The Four Dangers
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.
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. For this
reason, desire itself is to be understood as the danger in physical food
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.
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.
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
The Four Similes
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 . . . "
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,
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
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
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."
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.
It is not possible for me to kill him." Then she said: "Dear, go to
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.
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.
the first place, is the interpretation of the meaning of the simile of
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.
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. 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.
regards the simile of the charcoal pit:
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.
regards the simile of the man struck with three hundred spears:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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
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;
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.
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
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
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).
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
here onwards the teaching is given by way of dependent arising (paticca
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."
Therefore it was said above: "This should be understood as a
collective designation in brief for the many kinds of beings."
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
explain death in (terms valid in) the ultimate sense, he next says the
dissolution of the aggregates (khandhanam bhedo), etc.
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."
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
called birth (ayam vuccat'avuso jati): by this phrase he comes
to the conclusion on birth taught in both conventional terms and in the
arising of being (bhavasamudaya): but here one should
understand kammically active being as the condition for birth. The
rest by the method stated.
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).
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.
For all resultant being it is a condition only by way of decisive
support. The rest by the method stated.
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).
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.  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.
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 brahmins outside
here (i.e. outside the Buddha's dispensation) that purity (is
achieved) by rules," etc. (Dhs. Section 1216).
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).
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. But for the rest (it is a
condition) by way of conascence, etc., too. The rest by the method
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
("brahmin'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)].
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.
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).
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:
should be known by the wise
Through description and when described
In detail; it (should be known) again
Through classification of the detail.
arising of feeling there is the arising of craving (vedanasamudaya
tanhasamudayo): But here the word "feeling" is intended as
resultant feeling. 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.
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.
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.
This method also applies in the ear door, etc. In the mind door,
(feeling) is associated only with the mind-consciousness elements.
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. The rest by
the method stated.
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).
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
The Sixfold Base
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).
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).
the section on mentality-materiality, mentality (nama) has the
characteristic of bending (namana); materiality (rupa) has
the characteristic of being molested (ruppana).
In the detailed section, however, feeling (vedana) is to be
understood as the feeling aggregate, perception (sanna) 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.
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
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
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.
arising of consciousness (vinnanasamudaya): 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
the section on consciousness, eye-consciousness (cakkhuvinnana)
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 (manovinnana), 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.
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).
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. 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.
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.
the section on ignorance, not knowing about suffering (dukkhe annanam)
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.
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
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
according to the opinion of the Elder, the four truths and the four
paths are expounded in the thirty-two cases.
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.
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 Papancasudani, the Commentary to the Majjhima Nikaya,
the Explanation of the Discourse on Right View is concluded.
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
2. The knowledge of kamma as one's own (kammassakatanana)
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 (saccanulomikanana) is
conceptual knowledge of the Four Noble Truths, accompanied by
understanding and acceptance of them. [^]
3. The understanding or wisdom (panna)
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 (panna) 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
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
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
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
53. These two definitions involve word plays
difficult to reproduce in English. Ven. Nanamoli has a note
suggesting, half flippantly, "minding" for namana and "mattering" for
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
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. [^]