Tuesday, November 12, 2013


The Eight Fold Path – The Path to end SufferingDhammapada Verses (273-276)  

“If you follow this path you will reach the termination of suffering. This path has been revealed by me, after realising the extractions of arrows.”

“If you follow this path you will reach the termination of suffering. This path has been revealed by me, after realising the extractions of arrows.”

   The Eight Fold path is the Middle Way discovered by the Buddha for the realisation of Nibbana. It consists of: 

  •  Right understandings (samma ditthi) Right thoughts (samkappa)

  • Right speech (samma vaca)

  • Right action (samma kammanta)

  • Right livelihood (samma ajiva)

  • Right effort ((samma vayama)

  • Right mindfulness (samma sati)

  • Right concentration (samma samadi)

This is the unique path of Enlightenment. These eight factors are the eight mental states found in the supramundane consciousness which has Nibbana for its object.

“Eso va maggam natthi anno dassanassa visuddhiya”

“There is no other path for purity of vision than this one.” Those who travel along the path indicated by the Buddha to reach purity of vision, have to practice the technique of meditation by which purity of vision is achievable.

A truth seeker attains this stage through seven stages. In consequence, this process is characterized as “Sapta Visuddhi,” (seven stages of purity)


On one occasion when the Blessed One was living at Rajagaha in the Jeta Grove, a number of Bikkhus who had spent the Rains there in the Blessed One’s native land came to see him. The Blessed one asked the Bikkhus, “Which Bikkhu in my native land is esteemed by the bikkhus there, by his companions in the holy life?" ( lives under the practice of the "Ten Useful Talks) –(Refer to the ten useful talks - Part 1) - http://dhamma-stream.blogspot.com.au/ .

“Venerable Sir, The Venerable Punna Mantaniputta is so esteemed in the native land by the bikkhus there, by his companions in the holy life” replied the bikkhus. In that occasion, it occurred to the Venerable Sariputta , that it is a great gain for the Venerable Punnamantaniputta for his wise companions in the holey life. He then praised him point by point in the Teacher’s presence.

When Venerable Punnamantaniputta heard that the Blessed one had arrived at Savasti and was living in Jeta’s grove, he set out to wander by stages and reached Rajagaha. At that time, a series of questions were being asked by the Venerable Sariputta, from the Venerable Punna Mantaniputta, such questions as; “Is it for the sake of purification of virtue, is it for the sake of purification of view, Is it for the sake of purification by over- coming doubt, purification of knowledge, vision, and that the holy life is one lived under the Blessed one?”

Ven. Puanna Mantaniputta answered the questions asked by Ven. Sariputta, Through the help of a simile. The Venerable showed how to travel to Sakata and between Savasti and Sakata by the use of seven relay chariots This was because the traveling in between the two places was too long. At each destination he had to dismount from the previous chariot and mounted on the next one which was readily available for him.

Venerable Punna Mantaniputta then explained, the importance of practicing the seven purities, and how each one is helpful in reaching Nibbana. The Venerable said, “So too, friend, purification of virtue is for the sake of reaching purification of mind: purification of mind is for the sake of reaching purification of view: purification of view is for the sake of reaching purification by overcoming of doubt: purification by over- coming doubt is for the sake of reaching purification by knowledge and is lived under the Blessed one.”

Venerable Sariputta replied, “It is wonderful, friend, it is marvelous! Each profound question has been answered, point by point by the Venerable Punna Mantaniputta as a learned disciple who understands the Teacher’s Dispensation correctly. It is a gain for his companions in the holy life.”

“It is wonderful friend, it is marvellous! Each profound question has been posed, point by point by the Ven. Sariputta as a learned disciple, who understands the Teacher’s Dispensation correctly, said Venerable Punnamantaniputta. It is a gain for his companions in the holey life” Thus it was that these two great beings rejoiced in each other’s good words.

Later when Ven. Punnamantaniputta came to know that it was the great Ven. Sariputta that he was spoken to, said, “Indeed friend, we did not know that we were talking with Ven. Sariputta, the disciple who is like the teacher him-self. If we had known that this was him, we should not have said too much.”

The seven stages of purity consist of:

1. Sila visuddhi (purity of morals)
2. Citta vissudi (purity of mind)
3. Ditthi vissudi (purity of views
4. Knkavitarana vissudhi (purity of the conquest of doubts)
5. Maggamagga nanadasana vissudhi (purity of knowledge and insight into the right and wrong path)
6. Patipada nanadassana visuddhi (purity of knowledge and insight into progress)
7. Nanadassana vissuddhi (purity of knowledge and insight into the noble path)

(1). Silavisuddhi – purity of morals- The person with an impure character has always fear that others would find fault with him or bring shame on him or take revenge on him. Similarly his conscious troubles him saying that he has done something wrong. The mind of the non- virtuous person is debilitated by such thoughts. Therefore the person whose mind is debilitated will not gain any results if he turns to meditation. Like a tree which is planted on infertile soil, his/her mind will not be able to attain wisdom by concentration. Therefore if a person wishes to concentrate and reach the exalted state or attain the correct path by meditation, must, first of all, prepare the way for meditation, just as a farmer prepares the land for cultivation. If it is a lay person, he/she must act according to the ways of a lay person and wishes to be virtuous, must at the minimum observe the five precepts. If it is a monk or a nun, one must act according to their precepts. Virtue will arise when all defilements are eradicated. Therefore, one must try one’s best to purify oneself by leading a virtues life instead of feeling that he/she is unable to lead a virtuous life and give up meditation. .

(2). Cittavisuddhi – purity of mind – It is very difficult to realize the nature of nama rupa (mind and matter) as they are covered by illusions of the existence of individuals, males, females, persons and other concepts. The knowledge of name rupa which we gather from books is insufficient to for us to eradicate our defilements and attain the path leading to salvation and enlightenment. Knowledge from books is knowledge at second hand which has not been experienced as it has not been realized by the individual himself. It is not self-realization.
To attain the correct path we require more than knowledge from books; we require a clear philosophy which we can comprehend for ourselves. This philosophy can be realised only by meditation and meditation alone. Just as a person sharpens one’s knife before one begins to cut anything hard, in order to understand the nature of nama rupa the meditator must first prepare his/her mind. When his/her mind is free from hindrances, he/she attains Citta-visuddhi.

To purify our minds we must increase our powers of concentration. The nature of the mind is not to concentrate for a long time on one object, but to wander from object to object. The person who is traveling at a very fast speed is unable to comprehend any one thing he/she sees on the side of the road as his/her mind which has not attained concentration and wonders from object to object and cannot comprehend the true nature of things. When, by insight meditation, we are concentrating on the real nature of mind and matter, if the mind does not abide for a long time on this, it will begin to wonder from object to object very fast. Such a mind will not be able to grasp the ultimate reality. If one is unable to do so, the wisdom of insight meditation would not arise in one quickly. Therefore, if one wishes to develop insight wisdom quickly, one must concentrate and prepare one’s mind for such a venture.

After diligent practice a person will attain the ability to keep his mind concentrated on one object for a long time. This ability in the mind concentration is attained by mental discipline (samadi). Without allowing in the intervening period for anything else to enter one’s mind, if one is able to keep one’s mind concentrated on one object for a long time he/she is in a state of trance. There are also yogis who at the very beginning develop a high state of insight wisdom without developing concentration. Therefore, there is no harm if those who do not like to develop concentration can develop pure insight wisdom. Of those who develop insight wisdom after concentration there are some who attain this insight wisdom while they are in a trance. Still others develop concentration up to a certain point and when they have reached the first stage of concentration they are able to attain to insight wisdom. Others develop concentration and insight wisdom at the same time and meditate making us of both these factors at the same time. Of this system, to achieve insight wisdom after training a state of trance does not suit the present day. If one does so it may happen that for a long time one may not be able to achieve insight wisdom.The best system that can be followed seems to be that at first a person must develop one’s concentration and thereafter adopt the method of developing both concentration and insight wisdom.

(3). Dittivisuddhi – Purity of views – To purify one’s mind by meditating on the Buddha or by understanding any other system of meditation one must commence with ditthi visuddhi bhavana. What is Atma ditthi drusti? Athma dhitthi drusti means not considering mind and matter as mind and matter, my- self as myself, mother as mother, father as father, an enemy as enemy, a friend as a friend, and considering other varied individuals as beings in the same character and treating them and accepting them as such. This is Atma drusti. Sakkayaditthi is another name for it. (Sakkayaditti means belief in a soul or self). Insight wisdom means considering the nature of mind and matter as mind and matter it-self and not as oneself or as father, mother or another being. This insight wisdom which is free from atma drusti is called ditthi visuddhi. The brief explanation of ditthi visuddhi is purity of wisdom.

The beginning of insight meditation is ditthi visuddhi bhavana (meditation). The yogi will have to spend very long time to acquire this ditthivisuddhi-pure wisdom. He must master correctly the ditthivisuddhi. If the yogi tries to go forward without correctly mastering the ditthivisuddhi his meditation practice will be confused. This should be mastered in the manner in which the doctrine of mind and matter can be seen as my-self, mother or father or any other individual just as we peel the bark of a banana tree and then make our wisdom into separate sections. This meditation has to be developed till we get rid of my father, my brother, my son, i.e., the conception of considering them as beings and individuals and until we can see and analyse them as I am not I, and my father is not my father is not my father and consider them as just constitutions of matter and mind.

Reference - The Middle Length Discourses - Translated by Bikkhu Nanamoli and Bikkhu Bodhi

The remaining four stages of purity will be discussed in the next publication

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