The Wings to Awakening

by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Part II: The Seven Sets

C. The Four Right Exertions

[ Jump down to passages §§49-62 ]


The four activities included in this set show how effort can be applied to developing skillful qualities in the mind. The basic formula runs as follows:

There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence, upholds & exerts his intent:

These four aspects of effort are also termed guarding, abandoning, developing, and maintaining [§50]. All four play a necessary role in bringing the mind to Awakening, although in some cases they are simply four sides to a single process. The abandoning of unskillful mental qualities can frequently be accomplished simply by focusing on the development of skillful ones, such as mindfulness. The same principle can also act in reverse: in the skillful eradication of unskillful qualities, the skillfulness of the eradication is in and of itself the development of mindful discernment. As we will see when we deal with the seven factors of Awakening [II/G], the act of nourishing a factor of Awakening can in some cases simultaneously starve a hindrance, while the conscious starving of a hindrance can foster a factor of Awakening. Ultimately, though, right exertion requires more than simply abstaining from what is unskillful, for it must apply the basic factors of skillfulness -- mindfulness and discernment -- to gain an understanding of how even skillfulness can be transcended [§61].

Perhaps the most important point in developing right exertion is to realize that the effort to abandon unskillful qualities and to develop skillful qualities must be skillful itself. Unskillful efforts at eradicating unskillful states, even if well intended, can many times exacerbate problems instead of solving them. Treating hatred with hatred, for instance, is less effective than treating it with the kind of understanding developed in the second stage of frames-of-reference meditation [II/B], which sees into causes and effects, and learns how to manipulate causes properly so as to get the desired effects. For this reason, the basic formula for right exertion includes, both implicitly and explicitly, other factors of the path to ensure that the effort is skillfully applied. Three of the qualities that activate the mind in these exertions -- desire, persistence, and intent -- are also members of the bases of power [II/D], where they function as dominant factors in the attainment of concentration. The ability to discriminate between skillful and unskillful qualities, implicit in all of these exertions, requires a certain level of mindfulness and discernment. The skillful qualities that are mentioned most prominently as worthy of development are the seven factors of Awakening, which include mindfulness, analysis of mental qualities, and the factors of jhana, all of which must be reinvested in the process of right exertion to bring it to higher levels of finesse.

Passage §51 gives an idea of right exertion's range of application by listing seven ways in which unskillful qualities can be abandoned: seeing, restraining, using, tolerating, avoiding, destroying, and developing. The passage is deliberately vague as to which types of unskillful qualities respond to which type of treatment, for this is a point that each meditator must discover in practice for him or herself. This emphasis on personal exploration is crucial to the practice of right effort, for it encourages one to be sensitive to what can be discovered with one's own mindfulness and discernment. The same point applies to the question of how much effort must be applied to the practice. The Buddha notes that some meditators will have to undergo painful and slow practice, while others will find that their practice is painful and quick, pleasant and slow, or pleasant and quick [§§84-85]. Thus each has to adjust the effort applied to the practice accordingly. This need for differing levels of effort depends not only on the individual, but also on the situation. In some cases, simply watching an unskillful quality with equanimity will be enough to make it go away; in other cases, one has to exert a conscious effort to get rid of it [§§58-59]. Thus, through observation, one will realize that skillful effort has no room for doctrinaire approaches. The polar extremes of constant exertion to the point of exhaustion and its opposite, a knee-jerk fear of "efforting," are both misguided here, as is the seemingly "middle" way of moderation in all things. The true middle way means tuning one's efforts to one's abilities and to the task at hand [§86]. In some cases, this entails an all-out effort; in others, simple watchfulness. The ability to sense what kind and what level of effort is appropriate in any given situation is an important element in developing the basic requirements for skill -- mindfulness and discernment -- by putting them to use.

We have already noted that right exertion is equivalent to the factor of ardency in frames-of-reference meditation [II/B]. In the first stage of that practice, right exertion functions by keeping the mind with its frame of reference and by warding off unskillful mental qualities that would make it abandon that frame. In the second stage, the function of exertion becomes more refined: warding off the tendency to get involved with "what" is arising and passing away, and keeping the mind applied to its task of manipulating, observing, and mastering the process of origination and passing away as one steers the mind to the stillness of jhana. In the third stage, the function of exertion becomes finer yet, as it maintains a basic "empty" or radically phenomenological awareness of the frame of reference in order to bring the mind to the state of non-fashioning appropriate for the process of Awakening. The equipoise of this state -- beyond the categories of effort or non-effort -- explains the paradox expressed in §62, which states that the mind crosses the flood of rebirth by neither "pushing forward" nor "staying in place," an equipoise that embodies the ultimate skillfulness of right exertion in bringing the mind to a point beyond skill.

Implicit in this discussion of the effort involved in mastering skill to the point of its own transcendence is the fact that the goal of the practice is not an effort to return to a supposedly pure state of childlike awareness prior to social conditionings. Passage §61 makes this fact explicit. According to Buddhist analysis, the state of a child's mind is one, not of purity, but of ignorance filled with the potential for many unskilled qualities. These qualities show themselves in seemingly innocent ways simply because the infant's intellectual and physical powers are weak. Once those powers are strengthened, the mind's potentials become manifest. As one modern teacher has stated, the childlike mind is the source for the round of rebirth. If it were truly pure and fully aware, it would not be susceptible to unskillful social conditioning. Thus the way to purity lies, not in renouncing one's developed intellectual powers, but in developing those powers to higher levels of mastery and skill. This explains why right exertion is a necessary part of the practice.


Passages from the Pali Canon [go to top]


§ 49. There are these four right exertions. Which four? There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. These are the four right exertions.

Just as the River Ganges flows to the east, slopes to the east, inclines to the east, in the same way when a monk develops & pursues the four right exertions, he flows to Unbinding, slopes to Unbinding, inclines to Unbinding.

-- S.XLIX.1


§ 50. There are these four exertions. Which four? The exertion to guard, the exertion to abandon, the exertion to develop, & the exertion to maintain.

And what is the exertion to guard? There is the case where a monk, on seeing a form with the eye, does not grasp at any theme or variations by which -- if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye -- evil, unskillful qualities such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the eye. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the eye. (Similarly with the ear, nose, tongue, body, & intellect.) This is called the exertion to guard.

And what is the exertion to abandon? There is the case where a monk does not acquiesce to a thought of sensuality that has arisen [in him]. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, wipes it out of existence. He does not acquiesce to a thought of ill will...a thought of harmfulness...any evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen [in him]. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, wipes them out of existence. This is called the exertion to abandon.

And what is the exertion to develop? There is the case where a monk develops the mindfulness factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the investigation of qualities factor of awakening...the persistence factor of awakening...the rapture factor of awakening...the serenity factor of awakening...the concentration factor of awakening...the equanimity factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in letting go. This is called the exertion to develop.

And what is the exertion to maintain? There is the case where a monk maintains a favorable theme of concentration -- the skeleton perception, the worm-eaten perception, the livid perception, the festering perception, the falling-apart perception, the bloated perception. This is called the exertion to maintain. [§30]

These are the four exertions.

Guarding & abandoning,
    developing & maintaining:
these four exertions, taught
    by the Kinsman of the Sun
        [the Buddha].

A monk who strives
    ardently at them
reaches the ending
    of stress.

-- A.IV.14


§ 51. The ending of the effluents is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see. For one who knows what & sees what? Appropriate attention & inappropriate attention. When a monk attends inappropriately, unarisen effluents arise, and arisen effluents increase. When a monk attends appropriately, unarisen effluents do not arise, and arisen effluents are abandoned. There are effluents that are to be abandoned by seeing, those that are to be abandoned by restraining, those that are to be abandoned by using, those that are to be abandoned by tolerating, those that are to be abandoned by avoiding, those that are to be abandoned by destroying, and those that are to be abandoned by developing.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by seeing? There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person...does not discern what ideas are fit for attention, or what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas fit for attention, and attends [instead] to ideas unfit for attention. And what are the ideas unfit for attention that he attends to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen effluent of sensuality arises, and the arisen effluent of sensuality increases; the unarisen effluent of becoming...the unarisen effluent of ignorance arises, and the arisen effluent of ignorance increases...This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self...or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self...or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self...or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine -- the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions -- is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from stress. [§218]

The well-taught noble disciple...discerns what ideas are fit for attention, and what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas unfit for attention, and attends [instead] to ideas fit for attention...And what are the ideas fit for attention that he attends to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen effluent of sensuality does not arise, and the arisen effluent of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen effluent of becoming...the unarisen effluent of ignorance does not arise, and the arisen effluent of ignorance is abandoned...He attends appropriately, This is stress...This is the origination of stress...This is the cessation of stress...This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by seeing.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by restraining? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, dwells restrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were to dwell unrestrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty do not arise for him when he dwells restrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty. (Similarly with the ear, nose, tongue, body, & intellect-faculties.) These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by restraining.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by using? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, uses the robe simply to counteract cold, to counteract heat, to counteract the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; simply for the purpose of covering the parts of the body that cause shame.

Reflecting appropriately, he uses almsfood, not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification; but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.'

Reflecting appropriately, he uses lodging simply to counteract cold, to counteract heat, to counteract the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather and for the enjoyment of seclusion.

Reflecting appropriately, he uses medicinal requisites for curing illness simply to counteract any pains of illness that have arisen and for maximum freedom from disease.

The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to use these things [in this way] do not arise for him when he uses them [in this way]. These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by using.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by tolerating.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by avoiding? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, avoids a wild elephant, a wild horse, a wild bull, a wild dog, a snake, a stump, a bramble patch, a chasm, a cliff, a cesspool, an open sewer. Reflecting appropriately, he avoids sitting in the sorts of unsuitable seats, wandering to the sorts of unsuitable habitats, and associating with the sorts of bad friends that would make his knowledgeable friends in the holy life suspect him of evil conduct. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to avoid these things do not arise for him when he avoids them. These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by avoiding.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by destroying? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, & wipes it out of existence. (Similarly with thoughts of ill will, thoughts of cruelty, & evil, unskillful mental qualities.) The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to destroy these things do not arise for him when he destroys them. These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by destroying.

And what are the effluents that are to be abandoned by developing? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, develops the mindfulness as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops the analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening...the persistence as a factor of awakening...the rapture as a factor of awakening...the serenity as a factor of awakening...the concentration as a factor of awakening...the equanimity as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in letting go. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to develop these qualities do not arise for him when he develops them. These are called the effluents that are to be abandoned by developing.

When a monk's effluents that should be abandoned by seeing have been abandoned by seeing, his effluents that should be abandoned by restraining have been abandoned by restraining,

his effluents that should be abandoned by using have been abandoned by using,

his effluents that should be abandoned by tolerating have been abandoned by tolerating,

his effluents that should be abandoned by avoiding have been abandoned by avoiding,

his effluents that should be abandoned by destroying have been abandoned by destroying,

his effluents that should be abandoned by developing have been abandoned by developing,

then he is called a monk who dwells restrained with the restraint of all the effluents. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and -- through the right penetration of conceit -- has made an end of suffering & stress.

-- M.2


§ 52. These are the five factors for exertion. Which five?

[a] There is the case where a monk has conviction, is convinced of the Tathagata's Awakening: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' [§§71-72]

[b] The monk is free from illness & discomfort, endowed with good digestion -- not too cold, not too hot, of moderate strength -- fit for exertion.

[c] He is neither fraudulent nor deceitful. He declares himself to the Teacher or to his wise friends in the holy life in line with what he actually is.

[d] He keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities. He is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities.

[e] He is discerning, endowed with discernment leading to the arising of the goal -- noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress.

These are the five factors for exertion.

-- A.V.53


§ 53. With regard to internal factors, I do not envision any other single factor so helpful as appropriate attention for a monk who is a learner, who has not attained the goal but remains intent on the unexcelled security from bondage. A monk who attends appropriately abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful. [§96]

The quality of appropriate attention
in a learning monk:
Nothing else is so helpful
for attaining the supreme goal.
A monk, striving appropriately,
    reaches the ending of stress.
-- ITI.16


§ 54. With regard to external factors, I do not envision any other single factor like friendship with admirable people in being so helpful for a monk who is a learner, who has not attained the goal but remains intent on the unexcelled security from bondage. A monk who is a friend with admirable people abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful. [§§115; 125]

A monk who is a friend
to admirable people,
-- one reverential, respectful,
doing what his friends advise --
alert, mindful,
attains step by step
    the ending of all fetters.
-- ITI.17


§ 55. A person without ardor, without concern, is incapable of self-awakening, incapable of Unbinding, incapable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage. A person ardent & concerned is capable of self-awakening, capable of Unbinding, capable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage.

Without ardor, without concern,
Lazy, with weak persistence,
Full of sloth & drowsiness,
Shameless, without respect:
This sort of monk is incapable
of touching the supreme self-awakening.
But whoever is mindful & wise,
    absorbed in jhana,
ardent, concerned, & heedful,
cutting the fetter of birth & aging,
touches right here & now
    the unexcelled self-awakening.
-- ITI.34


§ 56. Sariputta: It is said, friend, that a person without ardor, without concern, is incapable of self-awakening, incapable of Unbinding, incapable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage. Now, how is a person without ardor, without concern, incapable of self-awakening, incapable of Unbinding, incapable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage? And how is a person ardent & concerned capable of self-awakening, capable of Unbinding, capable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage?

Maha Kassapa: There is the case where a monk thinks, 'The arising of unarisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' yet he arouses no ardor. 'The non-abandoning of arisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' yet he arouses no ardor. 'The non-arising of unarisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' yet he arouses no ardor. 'The ceasing of arisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' yet he arouses no ardor. This is what it means to be a person without ardor.

And how is one a person without concern? There is the case where a monk thinks, 'The arising of unarisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' yet he feels no concern. 'The non-abandoning of arisen evil, unskillful qualities...The non-arising of unarisen skillful qualities... The ceasing of arisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' yet he feels no concern. This is what it means to be a person without concern. This is how a person without ardor, without concern, is incapable of self-awakening, incapable of Unbinding, incapable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage.

And how is a person ardent? There is the case where a monk thinks, 'The arising of unarisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he arouses ardor. 'The non-abandoning of arisen evil, unskillful qualities...The non-arising of unarisen skillful qualities...The ceasing of arisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he arouses ardor. This is what it means to be ardent.

And how is a person concerned? There is the case where a monk thinks, 'The arising of unarisen evil, unskillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he feels concern. 'The non-abandoning of arisen evil, unskillful qualities...The non-arising of unarisen skillful qualities...The ceasing of arisen skillful qualities would lead to what is unbeneficial,' and he feels concern. This is what it means to be concerned. This is how a person ardent & concerned is capable of self-awakening, capable of Unbinding, capable of attaining the unexcelled security from bondage.

-- S.XVI.2


§ 57. Sariputta: Imagine a bronze bowl brought back from a shop or a smith all covered with dust & dirt, that the owners would neither use nor clean, but would throw away in the dust. Wouldn't that bronze bowl eventually become even more dirty & defiled with time?

Maha Moggallana: Yes, my friend.

Sariputta: In the same way, when an individual with an internal blemish does not discern, as it actually is, that 'I have an internal blemish,' it can be expected of him that he will not generate desire, endeavor, or arouse persistence for the abandoning of that blemish. He will die with passion, aversion, delusion -- blemished & with a mind defiled...

Now imagine a bronze bowl brought back from a shop or a smith all covered with dust & dirt, that the owners would both use & clean, and would not throw away in the dust. Wouldn't that bronze bowl eventually become clean & pure with time?

Maha Moggallana: Yes, my friend.

Sariputta: In the same way, when an individual with an internal blemish discerns, as it actually is, that 'I have an internal blemish,' it can be expected of him that he will generate desire, endeavor, & arouse persistence for the abandoning of that blemish. He will die without passion, aversion, delusion -- unblemished & with a mind undefiled...

Now imagine a bronze bowl brought back from a shop or a smith all clean & pure, that the owners would neither use nor clean, but would throw away in the dust. Wouldn't that bronze bowl eventually become dirty & defiled with time?

Maha Moggallana: Yes, my friend.

Sariputta: In the same way, when an individual with no internal blemish does not discern, as it actually is, that 'I have no internal blemish,' it can be expected of him that he will attend to the theme of beauty. As he attends to the theme of beauty, passion will despoil his mind. He will die with passion, aversion, delusion -- blemished & with a mind defiled...

Now imagine a bronze bowl brought back from a shop or a smith all clean & pure, that the owners would both use & clean, and would not throw away in the dust. Wouldn't that bronze bowl eventually become even more clean & pure with time?

Maha Moggallana: Yes, my friend.

Sariputta: In the same way, when an individual with no internal blemish discerns, as it actually is, that 'I have no internal blemish,' it can be expected of him that he will not attend to the theme of beauty. As he does not attend to the theme of beauty, passion will not despoil his mind. He will die without passion, aversion, delusion -- unblemished & with a mind undefiled. This is the reason, this is the cause why, of the two individuals who are blemished, one [the first] is reckoned to be inferior, and the other superior...and why, of the two individuals who are unblemished, one [the first] is reckoned to be inferior, and the other superior.

Maha Moggallana: Now this word, 'blemish, blemish.' What is the meaning of blemish?

Sariputta: Consorting with evil, unskillful wishes -- this is the meaning of 'blemish.'

-- M.5


§ 58. Even if a monk is not skilled in the ways of the minds of others (not skilled in reading the minds of others), he should train himself: 'I will be skilled in reading my own mind.'

And how is a monk skilled in reading his own mind? Imagine a young woman -- or man -- fond of adornment, examining the image of her own face in a bright, clean mirror or bowl of clear water: If she saw any dirt or blemish there, she would try to remove it. If she saw no dirt or blemish there, she would be pleased, her resolves fulfilled: 'How fortunate I am! How clean I am!' In the same way, a monk's self-examination is very productive in terms of skillful qualities [if he conducts it in this way]: Do I usually remain covetous or not? With thoughts of ill will or not? Overcome by sloth & drowsiness or not? Restless or not? Uncertain or gone beyond uncertainty? Angry or not? With soiled thoughts or unsoiled thoughts? With my body aroused or unaroused? Lazy or with persistence aroused? Unconcentrated or concentrated?'

If, on examination, a monk knows, 'I usually remain covetous, with thoughts of ill will, overcome by sloth & drowsiness, restless, uncertain, angry, with soiled thoughts, with my body aroused, lazy, or unconcentrated,' then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities, just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head...

But if, on examination, a monk knows, 'I usually remain uncovetous, without thoughts of ill will...& concentrated,' then his duty is to make an effort in establishing ('tuning') those very same skillful qualities to a higher degree for the ending of the effluents.

-- A.X.51


§ 59. "And how is striving fruitful, how is exertion fruitful? There is the case where a monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that 'When I exert a [mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion (fading away). When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.' So he exerts a mental fabrication against the [first] cause of stress...and develops equanimity with regard to the [second] cause of stress...Thus the stress [coming from any cause of the first sort] is abolished...& the stress [coming from any cause of the second sort] is abolished.

"Suppose that a man is in love with a woman, his mind ensnared with intense desire & passion. He sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing. What do you think, monks: Would he...feel sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair?"

"Yes, lord..."

"Now suppose the thought were to occur to him, 'I am in love with this woman...When I see her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing, I feel sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Why don't I abandon my desire & passion for that woman?' So he abandons his desire & passion for that woman, and afterwards sees her standing with another man, chatting, joking, & laughing. What do you think, monks: Would he...feel sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair?"

"No, lord..."

"In the same way, the monk, when not loaded down, does not load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure...He exerts a mental fabrication against the [first] cause of stress...and develops equanimity with regard to the [second] cause of stress...Thus the stress [coming from any cause of the first sort] is abolished...& the stress [coming from any cause of the second sort] is abolished.

"Furthermore, the monk notices this: 'When I live according to my pleasure, unskillful mental qualities increase in me & skillful qualities decline. When I exert myself with stress & pain, though, unskillful qualities decline in me & skillful qualities increase. Why don't I exert myself with stress & pain?' So he exerts himself with stress & pain, and while he is exerting himself with stress & pain, unskillful qualities decline in him, & skillful qualities increase. Then at a later time he would no longer exert himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain...

"Suppose that a fletcher were to heat & warm an arrow shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable. Then at a later time he would no longer heat & warm the shaft between two flames, making it straight & pliable. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was heating & warming the shaft...In the same way, the monk...no longer exerts himself with stress & pain. Why is that? Because he has attained the goal for which he was exerting himself with stress & pain."

-- M.101


§ 60. Udayin, there are these four types of people to be found existing in the world. Which four? There is the case where a certain person is practicing for the abandoning & relinquishing of acquisitions. As he is practicing for the abandoning & relinquishing of the acquisitions, memories & resolves associated with acquisitions assail him. He tolerates them. He does not abandon them, destroy them, dispel them, or wipe them out of existence. I tell you, Udayin, that this sort of person is associated, not dissociated. Why is that? Because I have known the diversity of faculties with regard to this type of person.

Again, there is the case where a certain person practicing for the abandoning & relinquishing of acquisitions...is assailed by memories & resolves associated with acquisitions. He does not tolerate them. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. I tell you, Udayin, that this sort of person is associated, not dissociated. Why is that? Because I have known the diversity of faculties with regard to this type of person.

Again, there is the case where a certain person is practicing for the abandoning & relinquishing of acquisitions...Owing to lapses in mindfulness from time to time, he is assailed by memories & resolves associated with acquisitions. Slow is the arising of his mindfulness, but then he quickly abandons [those memories & resolves], destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. Just as when two or three drops of water fall onto an iron pan heated all day: Slow is the falling of the drops of water, but they quickly vanish & disappear. In the same way...slow is the arising of his mindfulness, but then he quickly abandons [those memories & resolves], destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. I tell you, Udayin, that this sort of person is associated, not dissociated. Why is that? Because I have known the diversity of faculties with regard to this type of person. [§181]

Again, there is the case where a certain person, realizing that acquisitions are the root of suffering & stress, is without acquisitions, released in the ending of acquisitions. I tell you, Udayin, that this sort of person is dissociated, not associated. Why is that? Because I have known the diversity of faculties with regard to this type of person.

-- M.66


§ 61. Pañcakanga the carpenter went to where Uggahamana, a follower of Mundika the contemplative (or: the shaven contemplative -- a Jain?), was staying and on arrival, after exchanging pleasantries, sat down to one side. As he was sitting there, Uggahamana said to him, 'I describe an individual endowed with four qualities as being consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. Which four? There is the case where he does no evil action with his body, speaks no evil speech, resolves on no evil resolve, and maintains himself with no evil means of livelihood. An individual endowed with these four qualities I designate as being consummate in what is skillful...an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments.'

Then Pañcakanga the carpenter neither delighted in Uggahamana's words nor did he scorn them. Expressing neither delight nor scorn, he got up from his seat & left, thinking, 'I will learn the meaning of this statement in the presence of the Blessed One.'

Then the carpenter went to where the Blessed One was staying and on arrival, after bowing down to him, sat down to one side. As he was sitting there, he told the Blessed One the entire conversation he had had with Uggahamana.

When this was said, the Blessed One addressed Pañcakanga, saying, 'In that case, then according to Uggahamana's words a stupid baby boy, lying on its back, is consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. For even the thought "body" does not occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would it do any evil action with its body, aside from a little kicking? Even the thought "speech" does not occur to it, so from where would it speak any evil speech, aside from a little crying? Even the thought "resolve" does not occur to it, so from where would it resolve on any evil resolve, aside from a little bad temper? Even the thought "livelihood" does not occur to it, so from where would it maintain itself with any evil means of livelihood, aside from its mother's milk? So according to Uggahamana's words a stupid baby boy, lying on its back, is...an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments.

'If an individual is endowed with these four qualities, I do not designate him as...an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. Rather, he stands on the same level as a stupid baby boy lying on its back...

'I describe an individual endowed with ten qualities as being consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. He should know from experience that "These are unskillful habits," I say. He should know from experience that "That is the cause of unskillful habits," I say. He should know from experience that "Here unskillful habits cease without remainder," I say. He should know from experience that "This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful habits," I say.

'He should know from experience that "These are skillful habits"..."That is the cause of skillful habits"..."Here skillful habits cease without remainder"..."This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful habits," I say.

'He should know from experience that "These are unskillful resolves"... "That is the cause of unskillful resolves"..."Here unskillful resolves cease without remainder"..."This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful resolves" I say.

'He should know from experience that "These are skillful resolves"..."That is the cause of skillful resolves"..."Here skillful resolves cease without remainder"..."This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful resolves," I say.

'Now what are unskillful habits? Unskillful bodily actions, unskillful verbal actions, evil means of livelihood...What is the cause of unskillful habits?...The mind...Which mind? -- for the mind has many modes & permutations...Any mind with passion, aversion or delusion: That is the cause of unskillful habits. Now where do unskillful habits cease without remainder?...There is the case where a monk abandons wrong bodily conduct & develops right bodily conduct, abandons wrong verbal conduct & develops right verbal conduct, abandons wrong livelihood & maintains his life with right livelihood. This is where unskillful habits cease without remainder. And what sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful habits? There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful habits.

'And what are skillful habits? Skillful bodily actions, skillful verbal actions, purity of livelihood...What is the cause of skillful habits?...The mind... Which mind? -- for the mind has many modes & permutations...Any mind without passion, without aversion, without delusion: That is the cause of skillful habits. Now where do skillful habits cease without remainder? ...There is the case where a monk is virtuous, but is not entirely defined by his virtue. He discerns, as it actually is, the release of awareness & release of discernment where his skillful habits cease without remainder. And what sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful habits? There is the case where a monk generates desire...for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the...development & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful habits.

'And what are unskillful resolves? Being resolved on sensuality, on ill will, on harmfulness...What is the cause of unskillful resolves?... Perception...Which perception? -- for perception has many modes & permutations...Any sensuality-perception, ill will-perception or harmfulness-perception: That is the cause of unskillful resolves. Now where do unskillful resolves cease without remainder?...There is the case where a monk, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. This is where unskillful resolves cease without remainder. And what sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful resolves? There is the case where a monk generates desire...for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the...development & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful resolves.

'And what are skillful resolves? Being resolved on renunciation (freedom from sensuality), on non-ill will, on harmlessness...What is the cause of skillful resolves?...Perception...Which perception? -- for perception has many modes & permutations...Any renunciation-perception, non-ill will-perception or harmlessness-perception: That is the cause of skillful resolves. Now where do skillful resolves cease without remainder?...There is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thought & evaluation, enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation -- internal assurance. This is where skillful resolves cease without remainder. And what sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful resolves? There is the case where a monk generates desire...for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the... development & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful resolves.

'Now, an individual endowed with which ten qualities is one whom I describe as being consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. He is endowed with the right view of one beyond training, the right resolve of one beyond training, the right speech...the right action...the right livelihood...the right effort...the right mindfulness...the right concentration... the right knowledge...the right release of one beyond training. [§106] An individual endowed with these ten qualities I designate as being consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments.'

That is what the Blessed One said. Glad at heart, Pañcakanga the carpenter delighted in the Blessed One's words.

-- M.78


§ 62. A deva: Tell me, dear sir, how you crossed over the flood.

The Buddha: I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.

The deva: But how did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?

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

The deva:

At long last I see
an honorable one, totally unbound,
whowithout pushing forward,
    without staying in place,
has crossed over
    the entanglements of the world.
-- S.I.1

The Wings to Awakening

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Revised: Sat 17 October 1998
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