This is the English translation of Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw's talk on dhammadāyāda sutta. The talk was given on the anniversary of the Ovāda and Pūjā (admonition and devotion) day in 1970 and it was repeated on a similar occasion in the following year. The fact that Ven. Sayādaw gave the same talk twice leaves no doubt about the deep significance of the sutta.

In fact, dhammadāyāda sutta of Majjhima Nikāya is an important teaching of the Buddha that deserves the serious attention of those who adore the Buddha-dhamma. For the substance of the sutta is that as worthy disciples of the Buddha, Bhikkhus should avoid the pursuit of material wealth and seek the heritage of the Dhamma through the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path. This message of the sutta accords with the basic teachings of the Buddha.

From the Buddhist point of view the root-cause of suffering is desire and so it is necessary for us to overcome desire as much as possible if we want to achieve liberation. This teaching especially concerns the bhikkhus who as dedicated disciples of the Buddha are supposed to have set their heart on Nibbāna. The Buddha founded the Saṅghā as a community of men and women who seek inner peace and liberation through non-attachment. The bhikknus's way of life based on the ideal of non-attachment is familiar to everyone who studies the Vinaya Piṭaka, the division for the Pāḷi Canon that deals with the disciplinary rules for the Buddhist monks.

The bhikkhu is expected to share his daily collection of food with other monks. In the words of the Buddha, "Even if it were his last bit, his last morsel of food, a monk would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were anyone to receive it." (Udāna) The hoarding of food is forbidden and so is the possession of property other than the bare necessities of life. Even so, according to Miss I. B.Horner, an English Pāḷi scholar who has made a special study of Vinaya Piṭaka, some rules relating to the begging bowl "point to a time when communal ownership was more actual then nominal." The Vinaya Piṭaka specifies miscellaneous items of property such as Vihāra, bed, chair, vessel, cockery, etc., which belong to the Saṅghā and cannot be given to an individual monk either by gift or division.

Of all the material objects of human desire the most alluring is gold which has enslaved many people. The bhikkhu is of course strictly forbidden to possess gold or silver and the Vinaya Piṭaka contains detained instructions for dealing with cases of transgression. If a monk has any piece of gold or silver, he is required to confess his transgression to the assembly of Saṅghā and forfeit it. The forfeited object is then handed to an upāsakā (layman) who may throw it away or purchase for the monks what they are permitted to receive. This the monks may all enjoy except the guilty monk. If there is no upāsakā to accept the gold, a trustworthy monk is officially assigned to discard it. He must see to it that the place where it lies is not to be recognized by any sign.

Professor Oldenberg's comment on the Buddhist Saṅghā's prohibition against the possession of gold and silver is worthy of note. He says: "By nothing so clearly as by this prohibition and by the obedience which it has obtained is it guaranteed that the ancient Buddhist Order did really remain free and pure from all hankering after worldly power as well as worldly enjoyment. Never could it have so completely surrendered the possession of gold and therefore all possibility of outer action, had it not been in truth precisely that alone which it professed to be, a community of those who sought for peace and deliverance in separation from everything earthly." ( "The Buddha," p.358)

Of course the Vinaya Piṭaka reflects only the way of life in the early Buddhist Saṅghā. About 200 years after the parinibbāna of the Buddha the first schism occurred over the issue of the acceptance of certain kinds of offering from the laity. It is said that today in Srilaṅkā there are landlords among the bhikkhus and even in Myanmar which prides herself on having preserved the purest Theravāda tradition, the Saṅghā as a whole is a far cry from the ideal society as envisioned by the Buddha. Nowadays many Buddhist monks are bent on seeking their material welfare rather than on living up to the teaching of the Buddha.

This preoccupation of the monks with the pursuit of material wealth is a matter of grave concern to Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw as well as to other Buddhists, monks and lay followers alike, who have the welfare of the Buddha-sāsanā at heart. Hence Ven. Mahāsī Sayādaw's emphasis on the need for the practice of non-attachment in many of his talks. Thus in his discourse on Sallekha sutta he says:  "A bhikkhu should not ask for food, robes or dwelling unless the person who is thus requested happens to be his relative or to have invited him. Neither should he nor other bhikkhus use anything that is received in this way. Asking outright for donations as is being done nowadays is very unbecoming of a bhikkhu. A bhikkhu should not show signs or make indirect remarks that would induce a layman to offer food or robes."

In short, a good bhikkhu is a monk who lives up to the teaching of the Buddha, thereby making the heritage of the Dhamma (Dhamma-dāyāda) the cornerstone of his way of life. Such a bhikkhu need not bother about food, robes and other necessities of life for he is assured of material comforts in a predominantly Buddhist country like Myanmar. In fact, it is a matter of common knowledge that lay buddhists will vie with one another for offering the best food to the monks who are reputed for their moral purity and spiritual attainment.

We believe that the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw's talk on Dhammadāyāda sutta will receive the serious attention of all buddhists, monks and lay followers alike, who have the welfare of the Buddha Sāsanā at heart. It will be appreciated by those who want to understand the Buddha's message and follow his noble teaching for their inner peace and liberation.

Chapter 1






Thāthana Yeikthā has been a Vipassanā meditation center since we came here in 1949. At the beginning there were not many buildings to speak of. A monastery where I dwelt formerly, a mess hall that was not large enough to accommodate more than forty monks at a time, four single wooden dwellings, workers' quarters, these were the only buildings that existed at that time. In place of this auditorium there was a make-shift lecture hall which witnessed the formal opening of the meditation center in December, 1949.

The center started with 25 meditating yogīs. The women yogīs were lodged in thatched bamboo-buildings on the lower ground of the Yeikthā premise while the monks and men yogīs had to stay in a similar building on higher ground. Later on the number of yogīs increased every year. Many new buildings came into existence; at the time of writing there are at least over 300 yogīs all the time, this number going up to 1500 in summer and there is now no vacant land for new buildings.

Now 21 years have passed since the opening of the meditation center at Thāthana Yeikthā. In 1950 I told my disciples to hold an annual meeting at which all the yogīs who had practised vipassanā at the center could gather together for revival of faith and enthusiasm and for close contact and affinity leading to the suffusion of metta (loving kindness) in acts, words and thought.

Then Sir U Thwin, the founder of Thāthana Yeikthā suggested that it would be better to make the meeting also an occasion for admonition and devotion. I had such an idea too but I did not tell any one about it lest I should lay myself open to charges of egoism and self-glorification. So in accordance with Sir U Thwin's suggestion we now call it the annual admonition and pūjā (paying respect) day.

It falls on me to give admonition to the bhikkhus, yogīs and lay disciples who are present on this occasion. This year I propose to give admonition on the basis of the Dhamma-dāyāda sutta that formed the subject of my discourse last year. I wish to talk again about this sutta because it is an important teaching of the Buddha. King Asoka mentioned some teachings of the Buddha repeatedly in his inscriptions because they were profound and worthy of serious consideration. Likewise, I propose to give another talk on dhammadāyāda sutta because of its deep significance and special relevance to modern times. If the monks and laymen live up to this sutta, it will benefit them and contribute to the spread of the Buddha's teaching.


Dhammadāyāda sutta was delivered by the Buddha during his residence in Jetavanna monastery at Sāvatthi. The Buddha preached it because in those days some monks were excessively attached to material goods. Such attachment naturally leads to deficiency in respect of morality, concentration and wisdom and this sutta serves as an antidote to such spiritual decline.


Dhammadāyāda me bhikkhave bhavatha mā āmisadāyāda atthi me tumhesu anukampā 'kinti me sāvakā dhammadāyāda bhaveyyum no āmisadāyāda.'

"Monk! You should inherit the Dhamma from me. You should not remain content with the inheritence of material goods."

Here the Buddha expressed his wish in unmistakeable terms and stressed the importance of the heritage of the Dhamma just like the parents giving instructions to their beloved children before they pass away. Some people fear lest on their death their children by the second marriage should come off second best in the division of inheritance with the lion's share going to the older offspring. So they take steps for the equitable distribution of their wealth or other wise make secret provisions for their younger children. Likewise, the Buddha instructed his disciples to inherit the Dhamma that was the best thing that he had for them. Although he addressed the monks in the sutta, his instruction was also meant for the lay followers who had implicit faith in him.


People usually show much enthusiasm when they inherit the material possessions of their dead parents. Nobody wants to sacrifice his interest for the sake of his brothers and sisters. In fact, everybody is so much consumed with greed that the death of a man often means the break-up of his family and the beginning of ill-will, quarrels and enmity among his offspring. This is a matter of common observation as regards the lay people and the same may be said of the monks who show no less zeal and energy over the inheritance of material goods. The death of a famous Sayādaw is often followed by the scramble among his disciples who lay claim to his possessions on the basis of his alleged bequests, close association or the rights of his religious sects. These claims may be legal or illegal from the standpoint of Vinaya Piṭaka. Under the British government there were many disputes over the inheritance of monasteries and some lay Buddhists had to spend so much money for their law-suits that they were finally reduced to penury. Such legal battles are still being fought in modern times.

Once in response to the request of a lay man I sent a monk to reside at his monastery. Later on a monk at that place wrote to me, asking me to recall the resident monk as the monastery was declared a catusantaka in the time of his monk-teacher. So I had to send a reply, saying that the monk in residence had been sent not for the possession of the monastery but for the spiritual uplift of the local people, that we urge our disciples to inherit not material goods but the Dhamma and that he should deal only with the layman concerned in connection with the monastery. Now the monk whom I sent there is in another place; he has declined the invitation of the layman whose monastery is still vacant.

Again we were once asked to recall a monk whom we had sent to a place at the request of the local people. There was a monk who owned the monastery and in fact he had welcomed our monk. We have nothing to do with such disputes which concern only the lay people. Moreover, we have had to ignore some meditation centers which were forcibly occupied by those who could not teach vipassanā. We do not bother about such cases and leave them entirely in the hands of the lay people concerned. All over the country disputes over the ownership of monasteries are rampant. In the context of Dhammadāyāda sutta this state of affairs should be a cause for deep concern and we are afraid it has discredited the Saṅghā in the eyes of the lay Buddhists.

Many monks are preoccupied with the pursuit of food, robes, monasteries, money, fame, popularity and so forth. Some seek material goods by all possible means even in contravention of the Vinaya rules. Such frantic pursuit of material goods means decline in the practice of the Dhamma and so it runs counter to the teaching of the Buddha.


Now to continue the Pāḷi text in the Dhammadāyāda sutta.

"Atthi me tumhesu anukampā kinti me sāvakā dhammadāyadā bhaveyyum no āmisadāyadā ti-- My disciples, I have compassion for you. So I am concerned about how you should be heirs not of material goods but of the Dhamma."

So the Buddha was motivated by compassion when he urged his disciples to pay serious attention to the inheritance of the dhamma. Not that he wanted them to deny themselves proper food, proper robes, etc. What he warned them against was craving for these things at the expense of the holy life.

The Dhamma which the followers of the Buddha should seek is of two kinds, viz., the real or the supreme Dhamma and the intermediary Dhamma and the Buddha urged his disciples to cherish both the Dhammas. According to the commentary, the supreme Dhamma comprises the four kinds of magga (path) or insight knowledge, viz., sotāpanna, sakadāgāmi, anāgāmi and arahatta maggas, the four fruits ( phala ) corresponding to the four paths and Nibbāna. These are nine supramundane Dhammas that one can realize only on the basis of the Buddha's teaching. The attainment of the four maggas means the attainment of the phalas and Nibbāna. One who attains the first path also attains its phala and one is then on the threshold of Nibbāna. The yogī at this stage is then wholly free from the defilements that lead to the lower worlds. He will be reborn in the human or the deva worlds and he will not have to face sickness, death and other sufferings for more than seven existences. So the Buddha urged his disciples to strive for at least this lowest grade of the heritage of Dhamma.

When the yogī attains the sakadāgāmi magga and phala he is subject to no more than two rebirths in the human and deva-worlds. Again when he realizes the anāgāmi path, he is assured of total liberation from all suffering inherent in the human and deva worlds. He is destined to land in the Brahma world. Then for the yogī who attains Arahatship, it means complete extinction of all sufferings and the Buddha urged his disciples to practise the Dhamma till the attainment of this supreme goal.

The heritage of this supreme Dhamma is primarily meant for bhikkhus. For the lay followers of the Buddha who cannot live up to his teaching, there is the pariyāya or intermediary Dhamma which the commentary describes as alms-giving, a good moral life, observance of sabbath, offering flowers, etc in memory of the Buddha at pagodas, hearing the Dhamma, and so forth. Doing these wholesome deeds leads to rebirth in the human and deva worlds where through hearing and practice of the Dhamma one finally attains Nibbāna. In other words, this intermediary Dhamma is a means to the attainment of the supreme Dhamma.

So every true disciple of the Buddha who has faith and zeal should strive for the four maggas, the four phalas and Nibbāna in the present life. If he cannot attain this object, he should practise dāna, sīla, etc., not merely for happiness in the human and deva worlds but for the attainment of Nibbāna. In other words, he should seek the heritage of both the supreme Dhamma and intermediary Dhamma.

But the Buddha does not want his followers to have craving for material goods. Here the material goods which should not be the objects of attachment are of two kinds. The first kind is the four requisites of life for monks, viz., food, robes, dwelling and medicines. Once a person joins the Saṅghā, he is assured of these requisites. It is easy for him to get them. Nowadays a monk can get even foreign medicines although for ordinary people they are hard to come by. Some monasteries are big and far better than the tumble-down dwellings of many common people. These requisites are easily available thanks to the faith of the lay Buddhists but the Buddha does not want the monks to become attached to them.

Yet there are monks who seek to acquire material goods by means fair or foul., Some pretend to be Arahats and some claim occult powers that are supposed to enable them to advance the material welfare of their followers. To exploit the people in this way for selfish ends is, of course, a flagrant violation of the Vinaya rules binding on all bhikkhus.

The heritage of material goods in the form of the requisites of life concerns only the bhikkhus. As for the laity, there is the other kind of material heritage in the form of higher life in the human and the deva worlds. Many people practise alms-giving, morality, etc., in the hope of attaining heavenly bliss or higher rebirths on earth. Such acts of dāna, sīla, and bhāvanā will not lead to insight-knowledge ( magga-phala ) or Nibbāna. Nor will they guarantee permanent deliverance from the dangers of the lower worlds. On the contrary, the desire for higher rebirths in the sensual worlds of devas or human beings means attachment to material goods that is harmful to moral life and so we are likely to land in the lower worlds where unwholesome kammas overwhelm us.

Even if we attain higher rebirth in the deva and human worlds through good kammas, we are bound to suffer old age, sickness and death. Hence the second kind of material heritage, too, is low, undesirable and not worth striving for. We should not, therefore, set great store by the other worldly bliss, let alone the four necessities of life.

The Buddha warned his disciples against these temptations out of compassion for them. For he saw how attachment to material goods had led some monks to the lower worlds as in the case of one Kapila bhikkhu in the time of Kassapa Buddha, who, because of his greed, had to suffer much in hell. The Buddha was also aware of old age and other evils that lie in store even for those who do good deeds but who crave for sensual pleasure. He knew, too, how Mahā Kassapa, Sāriputra and other disciple acquired psychic power and wisdom through the serious practice of dhamma. Without the heritage of the dhamma we cannot rule out the possibility of rebirth with all its attendant sufferings.

Suffering is inherent in every kind of existence in the form of sickness, old age and death. We need not dwell on the miseries of old age that plague many elderly people around us. Sickness is a universal evil and hospitals are crowded with sick people whose sufferings can not but move us to pity. Even a man who is quite healthy throughout his life has to face a painful disease before his death. As for death it is also inevitable in the deva-worlds. If we do not strive for magga-phala and Nibbāna, we are in for repeated afflictions with these evils in one existence after another and in addition to it there is the dangerous potential for rebirth in the lower worlds.

According to the commentary, the four lower worlds of animals, hells, petas and asurakas are like private dwellings for unmindful persons. Here unmindfulness means failure to guard one-self against evil kammas in words, deeds or thought and against excessive indulgence in sensual pleasure. It also means failure to do good, to practise dāna, sīla and bhāvanā. By and large we dwell at home although we may occasionally spend a day or two at another place. Likewise, the unmindful person spends most of his time in the lower worlds. His rebirths in heaven or on earth are few and far between just like our occasional visits to another man's house. This is usually the lot of common people. The Buddha was deeply concerned about the future of his followers and hence his insistence on the need for the heritage of the Dhamma.

The Buddha also said that he and his disciples would be criticized by other people if they (disciples) cared only for material goods and failed to live up to his teaching. For example, society will put the blame on us if the behaviour of our children leaves much to be desired. So also the people in the time of the Buddha would hold him responsible for the failings of his followers. They would have said that despite his claim to omniscience the Buddha was unable to discipline his followers effectively. On the other hand, if they were wholly committed to the dhamma, the Buddha would surely earn the eulogy of the people.

It is not easy for a person to become the true disciple of the Buddha. Many people have an unwavering faith in the Buddha. Some have even joined the Sangha and devoted all their time and energy to the holy life. But for all their adoration of the Buddha and their zeal and sincerity in the practice of dāna. sīla, etc. there is always the possibility of landing in the lower worlds. For it is only the supreme heritage in terms of magga-phalas and Nibbāna that will ensure real liberation. Hence the Buddha's deep concern for the spiritual welfare of his disciples.


Suppose, says the Buddha, there are two monks who come to see him just as he has finished his meal. Having come from far, they are tired and hungry. The Buddha says that he has surplus food that has to be disposed of and that they may eat it if they like. One of the monks remembers the Buddha's teaching and so he resolves to spend the night in a weak and famished condition. But the other monk eats the food, thus restoring his energy and satisfying his hunger. The Buddha declares that the first monk who rejects the food is more worthy of praise and honour than his companion.

In the eyes of ordinary people there is no reason why the other monk should be blamed. He makes a good use of the food which might otherwise have gone to waste, and by eating it he gains some vitality that makes him zealous and vigorous in the practice of the Dhamma. In fact, the Buddha does not deprecate him but he declares the first monk to be spiritually superior in that his self-denial is conducive to contentment, lessening of defilements, exertion of effort and easy maintenance of one's life.

Buddhism teaches us to control our desire. Unbridled desire leads to frantic pursuit of material objects or the heedless consumption of food, etc. Such wrong actions will be unthinkable for the monk who restrains his desire to the point of declining the Buddha's offer of food. He will be able to overcome evil desires and cultivate contentment for his spiritual uplift. Moreover, it will be easy for his lay supporters to serve his physical needs.

Some monks often grouse over the kind of food, etc., provided by their lay followers. Once there was in Mawlamyaing township an elderly monk who had to be served with chicken curry every day. Even when he went on a journey his lay attendants had to take his favourite food along with them. Again the monk who has had the will to forgo even the food offered by the Buddha will not get disheartened in the face of hardships and privations. His memory of the self-denying experience will rouse him to assert his will, exert his energy, lessen his defilements and minimize the necessities of life.

The simile of the two monks shows the way in which the Buddha teaches his followers. His approach was very gentle and it is like that of the kind-hearted parents who have to discipline their children. He was motivated by great compassion that makes him worthy of reverence and emulation.


After stressing the need for the heritage of the Dhamma, the Buddha left the assembly of monks. Then thera Sāriputrā raised the question as to how far the disciples of the Buddha practised or failed to practise detachment that forms the chief characteristic of the Buddhist way of life. In response to the request of the bhikkhus, Sāriputrā answered the question as follows:

The buddha's way of life is based on detachment ( viveka ) in respect of body, mind, sensual pleasure, etc. But some of his disciples did not follow his example and practise detachment. The viveka (detachment) of the Buddha is of three kinds; kāya-viveka, citta-viveka and upādhiviveka. Kāya-viveka means living in solitude. Instead of seeking company, the Buddha usually lived alone. Solitude is conducive to peace and happiness. The Buddha spent his time in solitude except on occasions which made it necessary for him to have intercourse with other people as, for instance, when he had to preach to them.

Citta-viveka is the synonym for the practice of jhānasamāpatti. The Buddha was perfectly qualified to attain all jhānas.

Upādhi-viveka refers to the extinction of the four upādhis (substrata) of a being that cause suffering. In other words, it means Nibbāna. Nibbāna is devoid of (1) sensual objects, (2) greed, anger and other defilements. (3) abhisaṅkhāras, that is, wholesome and unwholesome kammas and (4) the khandhās or the aggregates of nāma rūpa or mind-body complex. So Nibbāna is labelled upādhi-viveka. It is a quality possessed by the Buddha and the Arahats who can contemplate Nibbāna at any time through arahatta-magga-phala. The yogī who practises vipassanā is partly in possession of upādhi-viveka at the moment of gaining insight into impermanence, suffering and egolessness. For whenever he had insight into these three characteristics of life, he is free from sensual pleasure, defilements, abhisaṅkhāras or khandhās of new existence.

If, without any good reason, the Buddhist monk does not live in solitude, then he is lacking in kāya-viveka or the practice that is the attribute of the Buddha. If he does not practise samādhi, he will have no citta-viveka. If he fails to practise vipassaā, he will not have upādhiviveka. If the disciple does not follow the example of the Buddha and practise the three vivekas or if he does not practise at least kāya-viveka or living in solitude, this means the decline in his spiritual life. The Buddha teaches his followers to remove lobha, dosa and other defilements and so if the disciple cannot live up to this teaching, it means failure to practise the viveka of the Buddha.

The defilements that arise may be overcome either through wise reflection or through mindfulness. But reflection by itself will not help to eradicate it. It is only, if we note instantly and remove the defilements at every moment of seeing, hearing, etc that they find no outlet and pass away and finally when the yogī attains the Ariyan path, they completely cease to arise in the mind and become extinct, root and branch. If you do not thus dispel the defilements through reflection or mindfulness, it means you welcome them in contravention of the viveka practice of the Buddha. The defilements that have to be dispelled are sixteen in number and the elder Sāriputrā describes them in detail in the latter part of his discourse.

Again some disciples zealously seek to acquire material goods and neglect the practice of dhamma. They do not seriously practise morality, let alone samādhi or paññā. If there is practice of vipassanā, it is only perfunctory; the object of their practice is just to gain merit and pāramī or kammic potential for their next lives. Needless to say, total commitment to the Dhamma is out of the question if one is preoccupied with the accumulation of wealth. In other words, pursuit of material goods spells deficiency in the practice of Dhamma and conversely if a monk does not practise the Dhamma seriously, it is to be assumed that he is more interested in worldly possessions. Some monks seek to get money and this flies right in the face of the Vinaya rules that strictly forbid the handling of gold, silver, etc by the bhikkhus.


According to Sāriputrā, some disciples of the Buddha lead the way to degeneration. There are five causes of degeneration called nīvaraṇas or hindrances to the attainment of concentration and wisdom. These are sensual desire, ill-will, laziness, restlessness and doubt. Here laziness ( thinamiddha ) means reluctance to hear or practise the Dhamma and getting bored or dejected during meditational practice. Restlessness ( kukkucca ) is worry or anxiety over one's mistakes in the past and doubt or vicikicchā refers to doubt about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Saṅghā, or about the way to the attainment of magga, phala and Nibbāna.

If a man leads an immoral life, giving himself to drinking, gambling and other vices, his children will follow suit when they grow up. Likewise, the elderly monks who yield to nīvaraṇas and idle away their time are bound to have a demoralizing effect on young members of the Saṅghā. In fact, they lead the way to degeneration. They are somewhat like a person who puts down the burden that he is supposed to carry. For they have abandoned the vipassanā practice that leads to the extinction of defilements. Some give it up after practising it for some time and there are some monks who criticize and discourage those who practise vipassanā. So according to the Dhammadāyāda sutta, such errant monks are blameworthy on three counts. They do not practise detachment that is so much cherished by the Buddha. They make no effort to remove the defilements. What with their excessive craving for material goods, they do not practise vipassanā for the extinction of defilements. So in order to avoid such criticism  by good people, the monks should practise detachment ( viveka ) that the Buddha enjoins on them. At the very least it is up to them to practise kāya-viveka (bodily detachment) or in other words, living in solitude. They should sincerely practise sīla and samādhi to overcome defilements. They should strive at least for the attainment of sotāpatti-magga that ensures freedom from ego-belief and doubt.

The teaching of the Buddha as regards the evil consequences of moral laxity in the Saṅghā applies to all bhikkhus regardless of their age or spiritual status. In fact, the Buddha specifically mentioned the elderly monks, the adult monks and the young monks who are to be censured for their moral deficiency. Here the elderly and the adult monks are those who have spent ten years or five years respectively in the order while the young monks may be those who have only a couple of year's standing in the Saṅghā. So the sutta concerns all monks and every monk is in for criticism if he fails to emulate the Buddha and fails to live up to his teaching.

On the other hand, a monk who practises detachment is worthy of praise because he is following the example of the Buddha; he has overcome defilements and finally he does not care for his material welfare and is therefore not negligent in the practice of the Dhamma.

In commenting on the Buddha's discourse Sāriputrā speaks of " pasamsa- praiseworthy". He uses this word to inspire the monks but what matters most is practice of the Buddha's teaching which makes one a worthy heir of the Dhamma. It is the heritage of the Dhamma that can ensure permanent freedom from samsāric suffering and dangers of the lower worlds. It is this Dhamma heritage that Sāriputrā has in mind when he refers to the praiseworthiness of well-disciplined monks for the inspiration and edification of his listeners.


Then Sāriputrā goes on to describe lobha and dosa as the first two defilements that should be removed. Lobha may be translated as desire, craving, delight, love, clinging, attachment, greed and so forth. Evil-doing is usually motivated by lobha. People suffer because they seek the object of their desire, they have to please those whom they love. Lobha fuels evil and because of its unwholesome nature it leads to suffering in hell. Moreover, it causes repeated rebirths together with the attendant old age. sickness, death and other sufferings.

Dosa means anger, resentment, ill-will, aggressive and destructive desire, etc. Seeing or hearing anything that we dislike makes us angry and unhappy. We yield to anger and kill or ill-treat others and do unwholesome kammas that lead to the lower worlds. If reborn in the human world one has to pay for one's past dosa- motivated acts in terms of brevity of life, sickliness and the like.

There is the right way to overcome greed and anger. It is the middle way between the two extremes of over-indulgence in sensual pleasure and asceticism. Some people spend all the time in gratifying their sensual desire and there are those who practise self-mortification that does not help develop concentration and tranquillity. The Buddha's way avoids the two extremes and this middle way is not to be found in the non-Buddhist systems of thought. It is the Eightfold Noble Path comprising right view, right intention, right effort, and so forth. This Path helps develop the eye of wisdom ( cakkhu-karaṇi ) and insight-knowledge ( ñāṇa-karaṇi ).

The eye of wisdom is so called because it enables us to see clearly and as such it does not differ essentially from insight-knowledge. In the practice of the Eightfold Path we have to watch the process of nāma-rūpa, the mind-body complex or the five aggregates of clinging ( upādānakkhandhā ) that takes place ceaselessly in us. At every moment of seeing, hearing, etc., we note the psycho-physical events. Such mindfulness on the basis of moment-to-moment helps develop a clear insight into the nature of nāma-rūpa.

In the course of the practice we come to make a distinction between nāma and rūpa. Thus in seeing we recognize the eye and the visible object as rūpa and the eye-consciousness and the noting consciousness as nāma; the ear and the sound as rūpa and the ear-consciousness and the noting consciousness as nāma; in smelling, the nose and the odour as rūpa and the nose-consciousness and the noting consciousness as nāma; in eating, tongue and taste as rūpa and taste-consciousness and noting consciousness as nāma; in touching, the sensitivity of the physical body and the tactile object as rūpa and the contact-consciousness and the noting consciousness as nāma; in thinking, the physical base of the mind as rūpa and thinking and the noting consciousness as nāma.

As the Satipaṭṭhāna sutta says,  " Gacchanto va gacchāmiti pajānāti ... ", when the yogī notes standing, sitting, lying, bending, stretching, etc., he distinguishes between nāma and rūpa in the same way. Thus when he notes walking, putting forward the right food, putting it down, etc, he is aware of the distinction between stiffness, movement and the noting consciousness. The same may be said of the abdominal rising and falling and other bodily movements that are noted. This is insight knowledge of the distinction between mind and matter that leaves no room for a living entity. This analytical knowledge of nāma-rūpa (nāmarūpapariccheda-ñāṇa) and purity of view ( diṭṭhivisuddhi ) arise from experience and have nothing to do with logic or speculation. It accords with one of the attributes of the Dhamma, viz., sandiṭṭhiko (each has to realize the Dhamma by himself) and with the Satipaṭṭhāna sutta which stresses the need for practice and personal experience.

There are some people who criticize the Satipaṭṭhāna method of meditation. They say that is not necessary to note ordinary activities such as walking, standing, etc., that are so familiar to us in our everyday life and that these  "drills" will not lead to extraordinary insight-knowledge. This criticism is due to lack of experience in the practice of vipassanā according to Satipaṭṭhāna sutta.

We breathe in and out everyday but few people will question the value of breathing ( ānāpāna ) exercise in mind-training. Non-Buddhist holy men in India practise it but their goal is just to attain samādhi (tranquillity). It does not follow, however, that the practice of in-and-out breathing cannot lead to vipassanā or magga insight. Likewise, we should not assume that the practice of noting one's bodily movements has little to do with the development of mindfulness, concentration and insight-knowledge. For those who do drill are bent on improving their health whereas those who fix their mind on bodily movements hope to develop satī, samādhi and other higher states of consciousness.

Moreover, there are other reasons why we should not belittle the practice of noting what is familiar to us. Thus in the practice of kasina (external devices in mind-training) we use ordinary objects such as earth, water, colour, etc but it is a mistake to think that these devices do not lead to the attainment of jhāna. Some kammaṭṭhāna or bhāvanā exercises involve contemplation of the organs of the body such as hair, teeth, finger-nails or even excreta but it would be naive to lump them together with the daily activities of the sewage workers or the grave-diggers whose daily experience does not mean anything in terms of spiritual uplift.

Criticism of the vipassanā practice that involves noting the familiar is not compatible with the Buddha's teaching about insight-meditation. To note standing, sitting and so forth according to Satipaṭṭhāna method is a far cry from ordinary awareness of physical movements. For ordinary awareness does not call into play sati, samādhi and other higher mental faculties. On the contrary, it is dominated by ignorance which gives rise to illusions of permanence, pleasure and ego-entity. Hence ordinary awareness is closely bound up with greed, anger and other defilements and Satipaṭṭhāna meditation is well calulated to replace ordinary, illusion-ridden awareness with right mindfulness and right concentration ( sammā sati and sammā samādhi ).

But before the yogī has developed concentration, he cannot achieve his object. In the lifetime of the Buddha there were some people with special potential ( pāramī ) who developed vipassanā insight and attained the Ariyan path and its fruition in a short space of time. Nowadays there are a few cases of yogīs who attained samādhi and vipassanā insight in a few days.


The importance of samādhi as sine qua non for vipassanā insight is borne out by the Buddha's teaching: " Samādhim bhikkhave bhavetha samāhito bhikkhave bhikkhu yathābhutam pajānāti-- Monks, you should cultivate samādhi (tranquillity of mind). The monk who has attained samādhi sees things as they really are ( yathābhutam )."

To see a thing as it really is to realize the impermanence of the eye-organ, the visible object, the eye-consciousness and the pleasant or the unpleasant feeling that arises at the sight of an object. The same may be said of the insight into reality at the moment of hearing, touching and so forth. The insight occurs only when samādhi is will developed. In other words, it is only samādhi that leads to insight into reality which is empirical knowledge that has nothing to do with logic or intellect.

Insight into impermanence is the real vipassanā insight. But it does not arise as soon as the yogī develops samādhi. When the mind is so tranquil as to be free from hindrances, it achieves purity. ( cittavisuddhi ). With the purity of mind, the yogī discriminates between body and mind at every moment of noting. This discriminating consciousness emerges not at the beginning of the practice but only when samādhi gains momentum. Then the yogī knows that there are only nāma and rūpa (body and mind), nāma being consciousness and rūpa being the object of the consciousness. He knows that there is nothing, no ego, no living being besides nāma-rūpa. He thus attains the purity of belief. ( diṭṭhi-visuddhi ).

Then as he notes walking, bending, etc the yogī knows the desire to walk as the cause of his walking. So it is the desire to bend his arm that causes it to bend and there is no ego that makes the arm bend. We see because there are the eyes to see and the object to be seen. There is no ego that causes us to see. Thus we distinguish between cause and effect and this is called paccayapariggaha-ñāṇa. This insight-knowledge develops into kaṅkhāvitaraṇa-visuddhi when the yogī realizes that the future as well as the past is also made up of only cause and effect. It is the insight-knowledge that helps remove doubt about one's existence in the past or future. This and other kinds of insight occur when the yogī practises the eightfold path by noting nāmarūpa process on moment-to-moment basis. This special illumination is referred to in the Buddha's teaching as cakkhukaraṇī (causing the eye of wisdom.)

The experience is like that of a blind man who has recovered his sight because of good medicine. Formerly the yogī regarded his ego as the agent of seeing, hearing, etc. He might have heard of the teaching which denies ego and insists on the nāma rūpa or cause and effect as the only reality in the universe.

With the further development of samādhi the eye of wisdom beings the yogī to a still higher insight-knowledge. As he goes on noting the nāma-rūpa process, he becomes aware of the arising and passing away of the object of his mindfulness. This is yathābhūta-ñāṇa which means insight into the arising and passing away of all phenomena. At first the awareness is diffuse, being restricted to the continuity of the same kind of nāma-rūpa. Then the yogī realizes that everything is in a flux, that there is nothing permanent, that all is suffering and devoid of ego-entity. This is samāsana-ñāṇa that arises from reflection.

Then as concentration develops still further, the yogī gains insight into the piecemeal dissolution of phenomena in taking a step forward, in bending the hand, etc. Within one rising and one falling he notes the phenomenon vanishing piece by piece. When he hears something, it is hearing and vanishing that come under his notice in pieces. He does not know the meaning because there is no link between two consecutive sounds. So also when he sees something he notes only the vanishing. This is udayabbaya insight and at this stage the yogī sees lights and experiences ecstasy. He feels very light and comfortable. The mind is very keen and alert so that there is nothing that escapes his attention.

Then when the yogī progresses to bhayañāṇa and notes walking, lifting the foot and putting it down, the appearance of the foot or that of the body becomes dim and only the rigidity and motion remain clear. Even so they are found to vanish one after another as are the other phenomena which the yogī notes in standing, lying, touching, etc. The yogī notes only the vanishing of both the object noted and the noting consciousness. This experience of the yogī affords a real insight into anicca, dukkha and anatta of all phenomenal existence and it accords with the Buddha's teaching -- " Samahito yathābhūtam pajānāti-- The monk whose mind is tranquil sees a thing as it really is. When this vipassanā eye of wisdom is fully developed, the yogī realizes Nibbāna with the knowledge born of the Ariyan path and its fruition ( magga-phala )."

Moreover, the development of the eightfold path through the practice of mindfulness leads to insight, extraordinary knowledge ( abhiññāya ) and penetrative understanding ( sambodha ). Whenever the yogī knows that everything is impermanent, this knowledge rules out the arising of defilement's and on The Ariyan path the defilement's are rooted out. The vipassanā meditation on the eightfold path leads too to Nibbānā. For with the extinction of defilement's, the two cycles or rounds of kammas and kammic fruits in terms of new nāmarūpa also become extinct. This is tadaṅga nibbāna which means temporary extinction of suffering inherent in the round of defilement's, kammas and kammic fruits. Then when the yogī makes further spiritual progress from vipassanā magga to ariya magga, there is the total extinction of defilement's, kammas and nāmarūpa. This is real Nibbāna that stems from the total destruction ( samuccheda pahāna ) of defilement's; it is the goal of the Buddhas and the Arahats that guarantees permanent deliverance from suffering.


The way to this permanent peace and freedom or Nibbāna is the middle Eightfold  Path. Thera Sāriputrā describes it as the way for the elimination of greed and hatred, the way that leads to the eye of wisdom, extraordinary insight-knowledge and extinction of defilements. The insight-knowledge which forms the goal of the path is extraordinary because it makes one aware of the cause-and-effect relationship between mind and matter, their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and egolessness.

The middle way is the eightfold way of life which comprises right views, right intention, right effort, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right mindfulness and right contemplation. This middle way is to be practised through the contemplation of the mind-body process whenever it arises at the moment of seeing, hearing and so forth. Unmindfulness at such moments gives rise to craving in the case of a pleasant sense-object and ill-will in the case of an unpleasant sense-object. With the development of concentration, the yogī becomes aware of the impermanence and conditionality of all phenomena. He does not react to them emotionally and so there is no occasion for the arising of craving and ill-will.

Every moment of mindfulness involves all the eight factors of the middle way. The effort to focus the attention on all phenomena is right effort. To note walking, standing, etc is right mindfulness. To fix the mind exactly on the respective sense-object is right contemplation. These three factors constitute sammā samādhi aspect of the path. Again it is right view to know the real nature of the phenomenon, mental or physical, that is noted. In other words, right view is involved when the yogī realizes the impermanence of all phenomena, and their lack of any ego-entity that may create the illusion of man or woman, attractiveness or repulsiveness. It is right intention to make the mind bent on the real nature of phenomenal existence. This right view and right intention form paññā-magga. Again these two paññā maggas and the three samādhi maggas together form a group called kāraka magga which means working maggas. Unity and co-operation among these maggas is essential to success in vipassanā practice.

Also involved in the vipassanā practice are the three sīla maggas of right speech, right action and right livelihood. For the meditating yogī has already possessed these moral virtues or he is pledged to these moral precepts before he takes up meditation and at the moment of noting a sense-object, he is morally pure because at that time there is no occasion for the emergence of lobha or dosa and this means freedom from wrong speech, wrong action and wrong livelihood.

Thus with the gradual weakening of defilements, the yogī attains the sotāpatti stage on the path that frees him from greed and hatred that are likely to lead him to the lower worlds. At the next stage of sakadāgāmi the gross sensual desire and ill-will become impotent but it is the attainment of the next higher stage, viz., the anāgāmi that ensures the total extinction of these defilements. So at this stage the yogī does not take delight in sensual pleasure nor does anything make him angry. But it is Arahatship that brings about the complete extinction of attachment to life ( bhavarāga ) and other remaining defilements. So the Buddha points out the eightfold middle path for the elimination of lobha and dosa.


Some people believe that it is possible to overcome lobha and dosa through proper reflection. Proper reflection may be helpful occasionally but it is only the practice of vipassanā magga that can help us root out the two major defilements. So even the Bodhistatta himself had to contemplate the five aggregates of clinging and practise vipassanā. It was the progress of vipassanā insight that led to liberation from all defilements and the attainment of Arahatship and Buddhahood. This is borne out by the Mahāpadāna sutta in Digha Nikāya which says that the Bodhisatta who was later to become Vipassi Buddha contemplated the five upādānakkhandhā just before dawn.

Here upādānakkhandhā means the nāmarūpa or the mind-body complex and it is unmindfulness of the nāmarūpa process that gives rise to the illusion of permanence, etc., and consequent attachment to it. Nāmarūpa process was contemplated by every Bodhisatta just before he attained supreme enlightenment and became a Buddha.

So we should bear in mind that every Bodhisatta practised vipassnā magga, attained the four maggas and four phalas (paths and fruitions) and become a Buddha. The same is true of the disciples of the Buddha. They attained sotāpatti, sakadāgāmi, anāgāmi and Arahatship only after contemplating upādānakkhandhā and developing vipassanā insights.

At this meditation center the yogīs become aware of the nature of nāmarūpa while noting the bodily movements, the states of consciousness such as feelings, etc., in accordance with the Satipaṭṭhāna sutta. With the development of concentration they gain real vipassanā insight. These insights involve the cultivation of right views and other vipassanā maggas, thereby ruling out the arising of lobha, dosa, and so forth.

Hence those who practise mindfulness in regard to whatever they do or say or feel or think are the true disciples of the Buddha. They may be monks or lay followers but they are worthy of praise irrespective of sex or age. For they are heirs of the Dhamma in accordance with the advice of the Buddha. The Eightfold Path that forms the object of vipassanā practice may be subdivided into three groups, viz., paññā magga, constituting right views, right intention, sīla maggas (right speech, right action and right livelihood) and samādhi maggas (right effort, right mindfulness and right comtemplation).


            Right effort is of four kinds ( sammappadhāna ). (1) The effort to avoid unwholesome states that have not yet arisen, (2) the effort to overcome the unwholesome states of consciousness that have arisen through vipassanā and magga insights, (3) the effort to develop wholesome states of consciousness, especially vipassanā and magga states and (4) the effort to maintain and develop the wholesome states of consciousness that have already arisen till the attainment of Arahatship. One can exert these kinds of four right efforts only through the practice of vipassanā.


Sammā Sati is explained by the Buddha in terms of four satipaṭṭhānas (Applications of mindfulness) viz., mindfulness in regard to the body ( kāyānupassanā ) in regard to the feelings ( vedanānupassanā ), in regard to the states of consciousness ( cittānupassanā ) and in regard to the mind-objects ( dhammānupassanā ) such as sensual desire, matter, visual objects and so forth. So the yogī can cultivate right mindfulness only if he practises the Satipaṭṭhāna method of meditation.


Sammā samādhi magga is described by the Buddha as the four jhāna samādhis. Hence it comprises the four pādakajhāna samādhis that form the basis of vipassanā practice, the vipassanā khaṇika samādhi that is synonymous with the first jhāna in respect of its character and freedom from hindrances ( nīvaraṇa ) and four magga samādhis.

The practice of samatha vipassanā is essential to the three samādhi maggas. Without it, it makes little sense to speak of the Eightfold Noble-Path. The Eightfold Path is to be found only in the Buddha's teaching and no religion or system of thought that is divorced from the eightfold path can point out the four Ariya maggas that ensure total extinction of defilements. So among those who know nothing about the path there is no sotāpanna, sakadāgāmi, anāgāmi or Arahat. This is what the Buddha told the ascetic Subhadda on the eve of his Parinibbāna.

"Yasmim kho subhadda dhammavinaye ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo na upalabbhati samaṇo pi tatthana upalabbhati dutiyopi tattha samaṇo na upalabbhati tatiyopi tattha samaṇo ni upalabbhati catutthopi tattha samaṇo na upalabbhati" (Mahāparinibbana Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya).

These words embody the last teaching of the Buddha which we should bear in mind and understand as follows.

"There are Dhammacakkapavattana sutta' Anattalakkhaṇa sutta, Mahasatipaṭṭhāna sutta and other suttas which contain my talks on the Dhamma. There are also pārajika, saṅghadiseka, pācitta and other disciplinary rules (vinaya). These suttas and vinaya rules form my teaching. Only those who live up to this teaching are committed to the Eightfold Path and only those who are so committed can attain sotāpanna sakadāgāmi, anāgāmi stages and Arahatship that ensure extinction of defilements. Such Noble Ones (Ariyas) are to be found only among my disciples. Other religions and sects are devoid of fully liberated saints among their followers."

So even if you call yourself a Buddhist, you cannot attain the stages on the holy path if you do not contemplate nāmarūpa process and practise the Eightfold path in accordance with the Buddha's teaching. Without such practice you will not become even a sotāpanna who is assured of deliverance from the lower worlds,"

In the Dhammadāyāda sutta thera Sāriputrā spelled out sixteen or eight pairs of defilements. I have described the first pair, viz., lobha (greed) and dosa (hatred or anger). The second pair is kodha (anger) and upanāha (malice). These are implicit in dosa. According to the commentaries, the pursuit of material goods leads to lobha. If lobha does not attain its objective, it gives rise to dosa and if it is satisfied, there arises lobha for another object. Non-gratification of lobha makes us miserable. Dosa creates hatred of those who do not give us anything or whom we dislike. It infuses lobha in the nine akusala or unwholesome states of consciousness rooted in craving. The nine akusala states are (1) pursuit based on taṇhā or craving (2) getting the object of pursuit (3) deciding as to how to use it (4) taking delight in the decision (5) excessive attachment (6) keeping the object of attachment (7) miserliness (8) guarding the object (9) quarrelling, armed conflict, slander and deception that arise from the need to guard one's possession.

Again kodha is anger and cruelty while upanāha means maliciousness. The unwholesome state of consciousness begins with anger which later on lead to malice. If a person does not get the material good which he seeks, he will give vent to his resentment against anyone who gets it ( kodha ) and if this resentment is revived it becomes malice or upanāha. It is not easy to understand these differentiations as explained in the commentary.


Suffice it to say that generally speaking, all kinds of craving and pleasure may be regarded as lobha and all kinds of anger, frustration and ill-will as dosa. In particular kodha means resentment while upanāha is the Pāḷi term for maliciousness. Both kodha and upanāha are special forms of dosa and both mean anger and malice arising from the pursuit of material goods or any other cause.

Both anger and malice are low and base. We are angry in the face of any unpleasant sense-object. Anger is like a cobra that hisses and raises its hood when it is provoked. Even those who has good and gentle manners are sometimes so sensitive that they give vent to their feelings when they hear something offensive to them. Such an outburst of temper may become the cause for shame and regret. It may also cost the friendship of some people and do damage to the moral reputation of the person concerned.

Some people are likely to bear grudge against anyone who has offended them. We may bear grudge against a person because we think that (1) he has jeopardized our interest in the past or that (2) he is jeopardizing our interest now or that (3) he will jeopardize our interest in future. We may hold a similar belief in regard to his relation with someone whom we love. Again we may believe that a person has done something good for our enemy in the past or that he is doing good for our enemy now or that he will do good for our enemy in future. Hence there are altogether nine reasons for our spitefulness.

Then there are some people who express their annoyance without there being anything to justify it. They would get annoyed with the sun, the wind, the rain or other non-living objects because of their frustration, or any untoward happening. Thus they would curse a material object for their discomfiture, e. g. a stump for causing them to trip and some even give vent to their vindictiveness by kicking or striking it. This is an ugly sign of gross irritability, a sign that characterizes many short-tempered people and that is labelled aṭṭhanakopa in Pāḷi. It is low, base and derogatory to one's moral reputation.

The way to uproot anger and malice is the middle way of the Eightfold Path. There are some things that we can do to overcome them. If, for any reason, we become angry, we should not allow the anger to find an outlet in words or acts. We should also reflect on the evils of anger. If reflection fails to remove it, then we should remember that the person who does or says something offensive to us is merely a nāmarūpa or a psycho-physical phenomenon that has already passed away in common with the contemporary nāmarūpas of ours which are also extinct by the time anger arises in us. Moreover, it is he himself who will have to suffer for his unwholesome act or speech. if we take offence, then we too will have to suffer like him.

A better way to overcome anger  is to note it. This practice is the way of the Eightfold path. The best way is, however, to note just hearing, hearing as soon as we hear something offensive, thereby ruling out the arising of anger. So the yogī tries to be always mindful of every psycho-physical phenomenon at the moment of seeing, hearing, etc in order to head off the arising of defilement from the sensory impressions. If such a practice is not helpful, he will have to remove anger through reflection or mindfulness of the emotion.

If anger is so violent as to become evident in facial expression or verbal reaction, we should check it through reflection or contemplation of nāmarūpa at that moment. Failure to nip it in the bud usually results in uncivilized behaviour, threat, abuse and other emotional outbursts that are disgraceful to us and damaging to friendship with other people. Anger often bedevils those who are close to one another and more often than not it is the close friends or relatives who help us in our crises. So if what a man does or says is offensive to us, we should exercise forbearance in view of what he has done for our good in the past. We should note the unpleasant words and practise self-restraint. Once a yogī said that he remained cool and unruffled through mindfulness when he was reproached by his father-in-law. This accords with the Buddha's teaching: Sute suta mattam bhavissati -- When you hear, fix your mind on bare hearing.


            The Third pair of evils is makkha and palāsa. Makkha is the refusal to acknowledge gratitude to one's benefactor. There is no doubt about the deep debt of gratitude which we owe to our parents. Yet some young people are loath to speak of their gratitude, saying that it is the duty of every man and every woman to care for his or her child or that their parents' concern for their welfare is due to their good kamma in the past. Some deny their indebtedness to their teachers or elders for their intellectual progress and attribute it to their own effort. In point of fact, we should thank a person even for the slight contribution that he has made towards our welfare and it is up to us to do something in return for his service. According to the Buddha, even a lifelong and whole-hearted commitment to support of our parents will not suffice to remove the debt of gratitude that we owe to our parents. It is said, however, that if a parent happens to be a non-believer or a non-follower of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Saṅghā, it is possible to pay the debt by doing something for their spiritual welfare. So ancient teachers describe gratitude to parents as infinite and immeasurable.

Those who are preoccupied with the pursuit of material welfare often become unmindful of their gratitude to their teachers. In the lifetime of the Buddha the monk Kokālika tried to acquire material goods by taking advantage of his association with the two chief disciples Sāriputrā and Moggallāna. Later on when he failed to achieve his object, he made false charges against his benefactors. He turned a deaf ear to the admonitions of the Buddha and so had to pay dearly for his evil deed. According to Saṃyutta Nikāya, he died of a terrible disease and landed in Avīci hell. Prince Ajātasattu's killing of his father for the sake of the throne is also a case of flagrant ingratitude ( makkha ). Today there are people who will not hesitate to wrong their teachers or other benefactors because of their evil desire.

We should be sensible of our gratitude to another person and try to repay his benevolence as far as possible. In the time of the Buddha an old brāhmin Radha wanted to join the Saṅghā but there was no monk who would assume responsibility for his ordination. Then in accordance with the Buddha's instruction Sāriputrā ordained the brāhmin by way of repayment for the spoonful of rice that the latter had once offered to him. Sāriputrā's sense of gratitude is highly laudable and exemplary. Even if we cannot requite another person's good act we must be on guard against doing him a bad turn. If we are tempted to be ungrateful we should remove such ill-feeling through reflection or the practice of mindfulness.


The other evil is pretentiousness or palāsa, the desire to consider oneself on a par with those who are morally or intellectual superior. Some people make undue claims to high morality or deep learning or spiritual attainment and rank themselves with or even above those who really possess these attributes. It is not hard for them to find followers among credulous people. In ancient India there were some deceitful teachers who made pretensions to the enlightenment and wisdom of the Buddha and they did not fail to gain the credence of ignorant people. This pretentiousness is an outright evil which we should try to overcome through the middle path of the Buddha-dhamma.

The next pair of evils that Sāriputrā denounced is envy ( issā ) and miserliness ( macchariya ) It is the tendency of human beings to envy a person who surpass them in respect of wealth, personal appearance, education, official rank and leadership or other laudable attributes. We harbour macchariya when we do not want to see a person in possession of something similar to what we have or when we do not want other persons to have anything to do with the object of our attachment.

There are five kinds of macchariya. (1) Macchariya in regard to accommodation of āvasa macchariya. This concerns especially the monks. It is āvāsa macchariya to monopolize a communal ( saṅghika ) monastery and deny good monks the right to dwell in it. But it is not macchariya if we refuse to admit immoral or quarrelsome monks. The same may be said of buildings meant for the community of yogīs at meditation centers. (2) Kula macchariya or macchariya in regard to followers. It is kula macchariya to claim exclusive attention of one's followers and frown on their association with other monks. It is also macchariya on the part of a layman to have the same kind of possessive attitude vis-a-vis his friends or relatives. But one should not be charged with macchariya if one wants friends or followers to have nothing to do with foolish or immoral persons. (3) Lābha macchariya which is the desire to possess material goods exclusively. But it is not lābha macchariya to deny them to immoral monks or to refuse to give anything which one cannot afford to dispense with as in the case of the bhikkhuni Uppalavaṇṇa who rejected the monk Udayi's request for her underwear.

(4) Vaṇṇa macchariya which is the desire to see others lacking in admirable qualities such as beauty which one possesses. (5) Dhamma macchariya which is the reluctance to share one's knowledge of the Dhamma with other people.

All these kinds of macchariya lead to the lower worlds and evil kammic consequences after death. Envy and miserliness serve no useful purpose but on the contrary they make people unhappy in the present life and hereafter. In Sakkapañhā sutta of Dīgha Nikāya, Sakka, the king of devas, asked the Buddha why people are not free from danger and have to suffer although they seek happiness, peace and security. The Buddha said that the unhappy plight of all living beings is due to the two fetters of issā (envy) and macchariya (miserliness).

There is no doubt about the truth of the Buddha's statement. Because of these two evils people quarrel with one another and make themselves wretched and miserable. Of the two evils macchariya is well-marked in the behaviour of dogs. When a piece of meat is thrown to two frolicking dogs, they will bite each other, consumed by the macchariya for the exclusive possession of the food. There is no need to elaborate since we have described issā and macchariya at length in the discourses on Sakkapañhā sutta and Sallekha sutta.

Still we should like to point out the harmful effects that these two evils may have on the Buddhist religion in Myanmar. The monks who love only material possessions do not want to share their sphere of influence with those who surpass them in some respect. In the case of a monastery where there is no abbot, it is up to them to tell their lay followers to install someone who is noted for his learning, observance of Vinaya rules and devotion to vipassanā practice. But in point of fact most of them do no-want such a person to be among them because they are jealous of their followers and they envy anyone who outshines them in the knowledge and practice of the Dhamma. If we have high regard for the teaching of the Buddha, it is our duty to welcome and give whole-hearted support to those who can effectively contribute to the spiritual uplift of the people.

According to the commentary on the first section of Majjhima Nikāya, those who faithfully and steadfastly practise mindfulness attain sotāpatti path when their vipassanā insight is well developed. The sotāpatti path and its fruition ( magga and phala ) ensures the total extinction of the six defilements including issā and macchariya. This attainment means the permanent deliverance from the dangers of the lower worlds, and the final attainment of Arahatship and Nibbāna after a life-cycle of at most seven rebirths in the human and deva-worlds. So we urge our disciples to be heirs of the Dhamma by trying to attain at least the sotāpatti magga and phala.


The next pair of defilements that we have to deal with is māyā and sātheyya. Māyā means deception which we use to hide our faults and pose as an innocent person., Sātheyya means hypocrisy or making pretensions to qualifications which one does not really have. There are religious hypocrites who pretend to be learned or to be devoted to the practice of austerities or to have acquired psychic powers or to have attained some higher insights in the practice of vipassanā. They resort to tricks and subterfuges to impress foolish people. Once a monk who was preaching said, "Hey! The woman over there! Beware! Do not let your mind wander!" Of course most people lack concentration but every woman in the congregation thought that the monk was speaking to her and his remark served to increase their faith in him as it gave them the impression that he knew their minds supernormally.

The way to overcome the evils of deceptiveness and hypocrisy is the practice of the Eightfold Path. Those who do not practise mindfulness are likely to hide their failings and become pretentious. These two character defects are to be found especially among those who have them as hangovers from their habits in past existences. Anyway, it is necessary for the yogī to remove them if they have set their heart on Nibbāna and liberation. Indeed freedom from deceit and hypocrisy is the essential qualification which the Buddha required of his dedicated disciples when he declared as follows:

Etu viññu puriso asatho amayavi ujujātiko ahamanusasami aham dhammam desemi.

Let anyone who is not deceitful and presumptuous but who is intelligent and sincere come to me. I will instruct him. If he follows my instructions, he is assured of arahatta-phala. that is, the goal of the holy life within a period of time between at least seven days or at most seven years.

The meditation teacher can guide the yogī effectively only if the latter is free from deceit and pretentiousness. The teacher can do nothing for his spiritual progress as long as he is deceptive and hides his faults such as talking and sleeping most of the time instead of practising diligently. The teacher cannot properly guide such a yogī any more than the doctor can cure a patient who denies his illness. Nor can he help the yogī who pretends to be doing well in his practice and to have attained insights. Such a deceitful yogī will fail to make progress just like the patient who pretends to have recovered from his illness.

The yogī should therefore watch his mental process mindfully and guard himself against deception and hypocrisy. With the development of samādhi and the attainment of udayabbaya insight the mind becomes free from these two evils. Once a woman who was overbearing and insolent in her relation with her husband practised mindfulness and became repentant. She confessed her defects and vowed to get rid of them. Thus the practice of mindfulness and the eightfold path is very helpful in our effort to overcome the defilements that cause suffering undermine our moral integrity and prolong the cycle of life.


The next pair of evils that we have to consider is thambha and sarambha. Thambha means impertinence or lack of respect for objects and persons who are worthy of reverence. Some people are loath to show respect for the Buddha images, shrines, elderly persons and so forth by gesture or by saying a few words. The other evil, viz, vanity or sarambha is the desire to do an improper thing just in order to outshine other people. This is exemplified in the case of a man who spends money very extravagantly just to outdo other people in respect of almsgiving. But it is not sarambha if it is pure, sincere and unselfish motives that make a man practise dāna, sīla and bhāvanā in a way unmatched by similar acts of other people. For the characteristics of sarambha are vanity, insincerity and selfishness and as such it is not to be confused with the desire to do one's best for the holy life, the desire which arises from purely wholesome states of consciousness.

These two evils, viz, impertinence ( thambha ) and the desire to outdo other people ostentatiously ( sarambha ) do not usually occur to the yogīs who practise vipassanā sincerely and diligently. But they become extinct only at the stage of Arahatship and so the yogī should be constantly on his guard against them.


The next pair of defilements that deserve our attention is nāma and atimāna. Māna is pride or conceit that may have its origin in one's good family, wealth, physical appearance, intelligence or attendants. Māna is of three kinds, viz., (1) Seyyamāna which is the sense of one's superiority over others in respect of family, social standing, etc. This sense may be true or false. The false sense becomes extinct at sotāpanna stage and the true sense at Arahatta stage on the holy path. (2) Sodisamāna which is the sense of equality with other people. The sense may be true or false, the false sense becoming extinct at sotāpanna stage but the true sense only at the stage of Arahatship.

(3) Hinamāna which means the sense of inferiority in respect of something. It is a feeling that forms the basis not for humility or reverence for other people but for conceit and arrogance. For ironically it makes a man defiant and scornful of what people of higher strata may think of him since he considers them totally foreign to him. He is conceited because what with his uninhibited life-style he enjoys more freedom than those who are superior to him in some respects. Again one can overcome the false sense of inferiority at the sotāparnna stage but the true sense only at the stage of Arahatship.

The other kind of māna is atimāna which means excessive conceit. A man may at first consider himself on a footing of equality with other people but later on this belief may develop into atimāna that leads him to have a highly exaggerated opinion of himself. Excessive conceit is often the character-trait of government officials, religious teachers, leaders and other people who pride themselves on their authority, special qualifications, knowledge, skill or ability or achievement in some fields. But their conceit is so excessive as to make them arrogant and haughty in their interpersonal relations. They often betray their overweening pride in their writings and conversations.

But this kind of conceit bedevils even some yogīs when they attain certain spiritual levels such as udayabbaya insight-knowledge. They may then think that they are making more spiritual progress than their teachers. So we should practise vipassanā to overcome false conceit at the sotāpatti stage and we should try to attain Arahatship to do away with the conceit which we may seek to justify by virtue of some special qualifications that we really possess.


Here the humility of thera Sāriputrā should be a lesson for us.

On one occasion the two chief disciples of the Buddha, Sāriputrā and Moggallāna, took leave of the Lord and went on tour. On seeing Sāriputrā accompanied by many monks, a certain monk became envious. So he approached the Buddha and reported falsely that Sāriputrā had brushed against him and gone his way without making an apology. The Buddha knew the truth but he sent for the thera and told him about the complaint of the monk. Sāriputrā said that it was possible for an unmindful person to have done such a thing. But he was always mindful of his body. Then he referred to the forbearance which he practised by comparing himself with certain objects.

(1) Sāriputrā likens himself to the earth which serves as the dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish, both clean and unclean. It receives all sorts of filth, excrement, pus, sputum and so forth without complaint or disgust. Sāriputrā exercises the kind of forbearance that is so characteristic of the earth.

(2) (3) and (4), Again filth is dumped into water. It is disposed of by fire and air. But water, fire and air neither complain nor show disgust. In the same way Sāriputrā practises forbearance to an extraordinary degree.

(5) Sāriputrā also acts like a piece of cloth with which one cleanses one's feet of dirt. The cloth is patient and free from complaint and so is Sāriputrā.

(6) Sāriputrā adopts the attitude of low-caste Candālas towards the high-caste Brāhmins. When a Candala enters a village, he has to rap with a small stick by way of warning other people of his approach, so that they may be able to avoid contact with him. Thera Sāriputrā says that he has the humility that comes close to the self-abasement of these low-caste Candalas.

(7) Sāriputrā is like the bull with a broken horn which is docile and does not attack any living being.

(8) Sāriputrā loathes his body. He is not pleased with it any more than the young men or women who have bathed and adorned themselves will be pleased with a rotten carcass hung round their necks.

(9) Sāriputrā feels that he is bearing the burden of his body which is like the pot of animal fat with many holes for dripping.

When Sāriputrā thus told the Buddha about his forbearance and humility, the monk who had falsely accused him was stricken with remorse and he apologized to thera for his misdeed. Sāriputrā forgave him and also asked for his forgiveness.

Sāriputrā's humility is indeed exemplary. Many people may not be able to practise humility to a very high degree like the thera or even to get rid of ordinary conceit totally. But we all should try to overcome excessive conceit ( atimāna ).


Now we come to the last pair of defilements, viz., mada and pamāda mentioned in Sāriputrā's discourse. Mada means intoxication with pride and pamāda means unmindfulness. According to the Pali text in Khuddaka Vibhaṅga there are twenty seven kinds of mada. In other words, one may become intoxicated with pride that has its origin in one of the twenty seven features of a good life.

The first feature is jāti or birth. In India this word refers to the caste system. There are four classes of people, viz., kings or nobles, brahmaṇas, merchants and manual workers. The kings and the brahmaṇas are overwhelmed with mada because of their royal blood or learning and this often makes them blind and irrational like the drunkard or an elephant bull that goes berserk under the influence of seasonal secretions of their glands.

Some people may become a prey to mada because of their attachment to their clan, their good health, their youthfulness, their longevity and so forth. For many people mada over the good health or youthfulness is a hindrance to the practice of vipassanā in that it makes them unmindful of the unpredictable nature of death.

Again mada may have its origin in the acquisition of wealth. Some people are so much overwhelmed with vanity over wealth that they take no interest in the practice of mindfulness. Mada over gifts from the lay followers may make a monk so conceited that he becomes slack in the practice of sīla, samatha and bhāvanā that is so much stressed in Dhammadāyāda sutta.

The gift which a lay follower offers as a mark of special reverence is called sakkāra. A monk who receives such offering and is deeply respected by his followers tends to be vain and conceited. This kind of mada concerns especially eminent monks, abbots, teachers and so forth who often become overly egoistic and haughty because of their authority and leadership.

In the time of the Buddha there was a religious teacher called Sañjaya. He had two disciples, Sāriputrā and Moggallāna. On attaining sotāpanna, under the guidance of the Buddha, the two young men told their teacher about their intention to join the holy order of the Buddhist Saṅghā. They urged him to do likewise and practise the Dhamma. Sañjaya declined, saying that as he had been a teacher for a long time, it would be humiliating for him to become a disciple of another teacher. They told him to think twice about what he should do since many people would rally to the Buddha, leaving him virtually without a disciple. Sañjaya then said that the wise people were outnumbered by the fools and so the fools who formed the majority of mankind would come to him while only a few wise men and women would go to the Buddha. He seemed well aware to the Buddha's superiority but was unable to follow the Buddha because of his conceit over leader-ship. Nowadays too there may be some leaders who cannot stomach the idea of practising the Dhamma under the guidance of another teacher. This is a form of mada that makes it impossible for a person to become the heir of the Dhamma.


Now for the other five causes of conceit, viz., (1) having many attendants, (2) abundance of consumer goods, (3) beauty, (4) special knowledge and (5) sharp intelligence. The first two causes do not need elaboration. The third cause concerns especially women.

In the life time of the Buddha Khemā, the chief queen of king Bimbisāra was very much proud of her beauty. She did not go and see the Buddha because she feared that the Lord would belittle her beauty in his sermon. But when she visited the Veluvanna park, the king planned her visit in such a way that she could not avoid seeing the Buddha. Then she was amazed to see a very beautiful girl near the Lord. She now realized that the Lord did not look down upon beautiful women. For here was a girl more beautiful than she and attending on the Lord. In reality the girl was a phantasm created by the Buddha. As the queen looked at the girl, the Buddha exercised his psychic power and made the girl gradually become old, sick and die. The queen became aware of the seeds of disintegration inherent in her body too and when the Buddha preached the Dhamma to her, she attained Arahatship. She became the chief woman disciple of the Lord with the highest distinction in wisdom.

Another woman called Janapadakalyāṇi also did not pay respect to the Buddha because of her conceit over her beauty. But at last she too was forced to see the Lord who led her in the same way to Arahatship. She was known an Nandā therī and she gained distinction in the practice of jhānas. formerly she was under the domination of mada as was the beautiful Pabhavati in Kusa jātaka who scorned king Kusa.

The other two sources of mada are extensive knowledge and sharp intellect. Here knowledge does not mean the insight-knowledge that results from the practice of vipassanā, for the yogī who has attained vipassand insight will never be conceited. It means only the knowledge of worldly affairs or the knowledge ( suta ) of the Buddha's teaching which one acquires through learning.

Sharp intellect ( paṭibhanañāṇa ) is that which enables a man to speak or write impromptu and to be clever in the choice of words that make his speech or writing clear, precise and effective. By virtue of his sharp intellect, he can also argue persuasively and tackle a problem promptly. Such wit and resourcefulness may be the cause for mada.


The next causes for mada are in the case of monks the long period of time spent in the holy order and for the lay people seniority in government service or overbearing attitude toward one's subordinates, practice of austerities ( dutaṅga ), physical endurance as, for example, the ability to travel for many hours, fame or reputation ( yasa ) and accomplishment ( iddhi ).

The fourth cause of mada, viz., yasa literally means having attendants but here 1 think it should refer to fame or reputation. Thus a monk may swell with pride when he gains reputation as a teacher of the Piṭaka or as a preacher or as a meditation teacher. Excessive conceit may bedevil a Government worker who has attained a high official position. The last cause of mada in this group, viz., iddhi means not supernormal power as is usually understood by this term but the unique accomplishment or success that may give rise to excessive conceit.


The other five causes of mada are morality, jhāna, special knowledge or skill, a good height and a well proportioned body. Mada may have its origin in attachment to morality. Those who are morally pure sometimes speak impertinently to those who are not. But it is not mada if a man stresses moral purity with good intentions and without any sign of holier-than-thou attitude. Another cause of mada is attainment of a higher degree of concentration ( upacāra samādhi and appanājhāna samādhi ). But a yogī may sometimes attain these samādhi and speak in contempt of those who do not. Some may fail to attain upacāra samādhi because of lack of sustained effort and it is the duty of meditation teachers to pay special attention to such yogīs but this duty has nothing to do with mada. Those who have attained the real vipassanā khaṇika samādhi are not prone to mada. Again nowadays yogīs who attain jhāna samādhi are rare and cases of excessive conceit or mada arising from attachment to jhāna are virtually non-existent.

On the other hand one may be dominated by mada because of outstanding ability in a traditional branch of learning or an academic field. Again a good height of the body (5 ft. or 6 ft.) which makes a man neither too short nor too tall may be a cause of mada. A person may also possess a well-proportioned body which implies normal height and normal weight or he may possess a body that is totally free from physical defects, and these two attributes may also cause mada. So there are altogether 27 causes of mada that stand in the way of spiritual progress. No wonder that the practice of vipasanā does not appeal to those who are inflated with vanity over their health, wealth, learning or leadership. Some believe that their good moral life or their regular use of the beads obviates the need for the practice of mindfulness. But in fact all these various forms of mada or conceit are harmful to spiritual progress and as such they are to be rejected through reflection of mindfulness.


The last evil that we should overcome for progress on the holy path is pamāda. Pamāda is described in Khuddaka Vibhaṅga as unmindfulness that leads to loss of self-control in respect of improper acts, improper speech and improper thought. This is the worst and the grossest of all the many kinds of pamāda. Killing, stealing and illicit sex constitute bodily pamāda while lying, slandering, abusing and frivolous talk mean verbal pamāda and it is mental pamāda to covet another person's possessions, to plot against his life or to accept false views such as the view denying the law of kamma.

Thus pamāda leads us to do evil in thought, speech and act. It means giving free rein to the mind instead of restraining it just like unleashing an ox and letting it forage at will. The antidote to pamāda is strict observance of the moral precepts. The constant practice of samādhi or concentration wards off pamāda in thought while the practice of vipassanā means the total extinction of pamāda in respect of the object noted with every act of noting.

On the Ariyan holy path the pamādas are uprooted as the yogī makes progress and proceed from one stage to another. Thus at the sotāpatti stage the gross, unwholesome pamādas that lead to flagrant breaches of morality become totally extinct. Then the anāgami magga brings about the total extinction of pamādas that give rise to unwholesome thoughts such as sensual craving and ill-will while the attainment of Arahatta magga ensures the extinction of the other remaining pamādas such as the pamāda that cause the lust for life. But the commentary on Vatta sutta of Majjhima Nikāya says that the yogī at the anāgāmi stage overcomes the four defilements, viz., ill-will, anger, malice and unmindfulness ( pamāda ). So according to that commentary, the defilements that still linger in the anāgami yogī such as lust for life, pride, ignorance, etc do not belong to the category of pamāda.

So in order to overcome totally the defilements associated with pamāda. It is necessary to practise the eightfold path till the attainment of anāgāmi magga.

Pamāda is lack of self-restraint in regard to the five senses. In other words, it is pamāda to think of the sense-objects, to crave for or to take delight in them. So the Buddha instructed the monks that they should use the four requisites, viz., food, robes, medicine and dwelling not to gratify the sensual desire but only for the preservation of life. The infallible remedy for pamāda is the practice of samatha and vipassanā.

Pamāda in the form of indulgence in sensual thoughts is not as coarse as the pamāda that finds and outlet in the violation of basic moral precepts. The preventive measures against pamāda in respect of the sense-objects are proper reflections, constant mindfulness and self-restraint. The best thing to do is to note constantly the nāma-rūpa process such as rising and falling, etc.

Lack of seriousness in the practice of vipassanā is bound to give rise to pamāda in terms of moral transgressions, sensuous thoughts, restlessness and mind-wandering. The yogī cannot be free from pamāda if he is not vigorous, determined, persistent and steadfast in the practice. It is  pamāda to meditate half-heartedly, to meditate off and on, after long intervals or to relax effort or to give up the practice or to fail to meditate continuously and steadfastly.


Readers will now have some idea of  pamāda which we may describe in order of gravity as follows. (1)  Pamāda in its weakest and most delicate form which we may identify with occasional mind-wandering and forgetfulness in noting. (2) Less subtle is the  pamāda that makes us negligent and lets some sense-objects escape our attention. (3) Still worse is the  pamāda that leads to sensual thoughts. (4) More harmful is the  pamāda that causes us to indulge in sensual pleasure. (5) Still more dangerous is the  pamāda that creates the desire to kill, steal, lie or do other evils. (6) The worst  pamāda is that which finds expression in doing evil in deed or speech.

Every Buddhist should try to be free from the last two kinds of  pamāda. The fourth  pamāda should be overcome by khikkhus and lay disciples who practise vipassanā. Yogīs should be always mindful and guard themselves against the third  pamāda, viz., sensual thoughts. If sensual thoughts arise during the practice of mindfulness, they should be promptly noted and rejected. As for those who meditate seriously to attain maggaphala (insight-knowledge) they should strive until they become free from the first two kinds of  pamāda.

Constant noting of the mind-body process on the moment-to-moment basis and the practice of vipassanā magga dhammas leads to sotāpatti magga which ensures the total extinction of six defilements viz., ingratitude, pretentiousness, envy, miserliness, deceptiveness and hypocrisy. At the stage of anāgāmi magga aversion ( dosa or vyāpāda ), anger, maliciousness and unmindfulness become completely extinct. Finally at the arahatta magga greed, impertinence ( thambha ), the unwholesome desire to outdo other people ( sarambha ), conceit, excessive conceit and arrogance or inordinate pride ( mada in the last pair) are uprooted. The total extinction of these sixteen defilements on the attainment of ariya magga is described in the commentary on Vatta sutta of Majjhima Nikāya and other teachings of the Buddha.

According to these commentaries  pamāda is wholly extinct at the anāgāmi magga but there still remains the attachment to life, ignorance, conceit over what one really possess and other defilements. So the yogī will have to continue the practice of the eightfold path until he attains the ariya magga that ensures the total extinction of all other defilements. Only then will the yogī or the bhikkhu become the worthy heir of the Dhamma in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha.

The practice of the eightfold path is essential to the elimination of mada and pamāda. This practice involves the constant introspection of mind-body process or the five aggregates of grasping ( upādānakkhandhā ) that arise from every act of seeing, hearing, etc. With the development of sammā samādhi or vipassanākhaṇika samādhi through such practice, the yogī attains insight into the distinction between nāma that notes and the rūpa (the sense-object) that is noted, and the impermanence of everything. This insight is not ordinary knowledge; it is extraordinary and penetrative. Every moment of such insight means momentary extinction of defilements and eventually there arises the insight-knowledge relating to sotāpatti magga, etc and Nibbāna is realized.

The bhikkhus who attain such insights and overcome defilements are worthy of praise irrespective of their standing in the holy order. They become the real heirs of the dhamma. The Buddha's chief disciple thera Sāriputrā emphasizes the need for the heritage of the dhamma but it is difficult to understand how we should inherit the dhamma in terms of magga, phala and Nibbāna if we do not know how to practise the eightfold path in conformity with the teaching in the Dhammacakkapavattana sutta, Satipaṭṭhāna sutta, Mahāpadāna sutta, etc. But the practice is clear to us and it is not hard for us to teach it as we have practised vipassanā on the basis of these teachings. Those who follow our instructions faithfully will find the practice really beneficial.

The practice of the eightfold path is like taking a good medicine for the treatment of an evil disease. Just as good medicines help us to overcome many kinds of illness, so also the practice of the eightfold path helps us to remove various defilements. First we should practise pubbabhāga magga or vipassanā magga. This practice is effective only if we note the nāmarūpa process in terms of upādānakkhandhā or objects of grasping on moment-to-moment basis. Such practice leads to insight into the real nature of mind and matter, viz., their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, etc. These insights that arise in this way constitute vipassanā maggas such as right views, etc. This is the pubbabhāga or preliminary magga that leads to Ariyan path. When vipassanā magga becomes well-established, there arises the Ariya magga of the eightfold path.


The commentary describes the two ways of practising the eightfold path. Some yogīs practise the samatha- oriented vipassanā while others practise vipassanā- oriented samatha. Some develop upacās samādhi or appanāsamādhi before they practise vipassanā. This is samatha. In other words, the practice of the eightfold path is of two kinds. (1) The practice of vipassanā magga after one has attained samātha samādhi and (2) The practice of vipassanā without first trying to attain samatha samādhi. Samatha samādhi is appāna or jhāna samādhi while upacā samādhi is pre- jhānic samādhi whereby one develops tranquility to the point of being free from hindrances ( nīvaraṇas ).

For some yogīs either of these samādhis forms the basis of vipassanā practice. Vipassanā practice involves insight-knowledge of nāma and rūpa, their cause and effect relationship, their dissolution, impermanence, etc. It finally gives rise to maggas (sotāpatti magga). etc., on the Ariyan path, the gradual elimination of fetters ( samyojanas ) and potential defilements up to Arahatship with the total extinction of all defilements.

The commentary also describes the purely vipassanā practice of Ariya magga. This practice does not presuppose either of the two samatha samādhi but is concerned with the contemplation of the khandhas or nāmarūpa process in terms of their characteristics, viz., impermanence, etc. The contemplation leads to various stages of insight knowledge such as insight into the distinction between mind and matter and so forth. This means the purity of views ( diṭṭhivisuddhi ) which usually arises from purity of mind ( citta-visuddhi ). Now purity of mind presupposes freedom from hindrances and so although this vipassanā practice bypasses the two kinds of samatha samādhi it is based on what is called vipassanā khaṇika samādhi. So although the yogī may dispense with the two kinds of samatha samādhi, he cannot do so with vipassanā khaṇika samādhi which is absolutely essential to vipassanā practice.

The commentary refers to the one-pointed ness of mind that results from attention to the relevant since-objects. Here the relevant objects mean the psycho-physical phenomenon that form the objects of vipassanā contemplation. Vipassanā practice rules out the external objects that have nothing to do with insight into anicca, dukkha, etc., that lead to reflection and discursive thinking.

With the development of samādhi, the yogī never finds his mind wandering. The noting consciousness and the noted object become perfectly adjusted. There is no consciousness that escapes his notice. The mind becomes a succession of noting consciousness. The noted objects vary but they are in tune with the noting consciousness. At such moments the hindrances become totally extinct and there arises tranquility which is termed vipassanā khaṇika samādhi.

On the basis of this samādhi or citta visuddhi (mental purity that arises from it) the practice of mindfulness gradually leads to the insight into the distinction between nāma (mind) and rūpa (matter) which is called nāmarūpaparicchedañāṇa in Pāḷi, then the insight into their cause and effect relationship ( paccayapariggahañāṇa ); then still later on to insight into the arising and passing away or the beginning and end of all phenomena together with the impermanence, etc.

This way of practice begins with the contemplation of nāmarūpa in terms of their characteristic such as impermanence, etc. Therefore in this practice vipassanā insight arises first and samatha or khaṇika samādhi emerges in its wake. In other words, in this practice vipassanā takes precedence over samatha or khaṇika samaādhi emerges in its wake. In other words, in this practice vipassanā takes precedence over samatha.

Hence it is hardly possible to overemphasize the importance of vipassanā practice. It is only vipassanā practice that will lead to the to the to the attainment of magga (the holy path), phala (fruition) and Nibbanā which makes us real heirs of the Dhamma.


Reference is made to the monk Kapila and other vile bhikkhus in the discourse on Dhammadāyadā sutta. The following is the full story of Kapila as mentioned in the commentary on Sutta Nipāta.

After the parinibbāna of Buddha Kassapa there were two brothers Sodhana and Kapila in the holy order. Their mother, Sadhani and sister Tapa too joined the bhikkhunī order. The elder brother studied the Vinaya rules for five years, practised the Dhamma and became an Arahat. The younger brother studied the scriptures devotedly and became a learned monk.

Because of his knowledge of the Dhamma, he had many followers and was well provided with material goods. Puffed up with conceit over his learning, he became presumptuous and arrogant. He would contradict other monks in everything and when they tired to reason with him, he would retort in abusive language. His brother tried to bring him to his senses but it was in vain and at last he was deserted by all the fellow-monks who cherished morality.

He did not lead a good moral life nor did his followers. On one occasion at the gathering of monks he called out for someone who could recite Pātimokkha. Nobody was able to do the job. Then saying, "It does not matter whether or not you hear Pātimokkha. There is no such thing as Vinaya rule", he left the assembly. In this way he did much disservice to the teaching of Kassapa Buddha.

Then his brother Sodhana thera attained parinibbāna on that very day. As for Kapila, on his death he landed in Avīci hell and so did his mother and sister who had reviled good bhikkhus.

In the lifetime of gotama Buddha Kapila was reborn as a big fish because of his residual evil kamma in the river near Sāvatthi. The fish was of golden colour but its mouth emitted evil smell. One day the fish was caught and brought to the king. The king took it to the Buddha and asked the Lord why the fish had a golden colour and a nasty smell. The Buddha described the past existence of the fish as the learned Kapila bhikkhu in the time of Buddha Kassapa. The Lord told the king how Kapila abused the monks who did not agree with him; how he then did things harmful to Kassapa Buddha's teaching; and how as the kammic result of his evil speech he had to suffer and land in the animal world. He had golden colour because of his effort to promote the knowledge of the dhamma and his evil smell was due to his diatribes against other monks.

Then the Buddha asked the fish:
"Are you not the monk Kapila?"
"Yes, I am, the monk Kapila, Venerable Sir,"
"From where did you come?"
"I came from Avīci hell, Venerable Sir?"
"Where is your brother Sodhana?"
"He has attained Parinibbāna, Venerable Sir"
"Where is your mother Sadhani?"
"She is in the great hell, Venerable Sir"
"Where is your sister Tapana?"
"She is also in the great hell, Venerable Sir."
"Where are you going now?"
"I am now going to Avīci hell, Venerable Sir."

Then the fish died and it landed in Avīci hell. The people who heard the story of Kapila were horrified and the Buddha preached the Kapila sutta which begins with the following verse.

Dhamma cāriyam brahmacāriyam
etadahu vasuttamam
pabbajitopi ce hoti
agara anagāriyam

Kapila sutta consists of ten verses ( gāthās ) and the substance of the Buddha's teaching in the sutta is as follows.

The Buddha have taught the ten good deeds and the eightfold path as the noble dhamma. Even though a man has renounced the house-holder's life and led the homeless life of a monk, if he speaks rudely and delights in ill-treating a living being, his life is vile and base and it leads to increase of defilements.

The monk who delights in arguing with other people remains steeped in ignorance. He cannot understand or appreciate the true dhamma that is imparted by a learned person. Because of his ignorance he does not know that it is a defilement leading to hell to make a scurrilous attack on the Arahats who have attained the magga-phala (path and fruition), to contradict them, to say that they know nothing.

The monk who is blind to such evil lands in the lower worlds, passes through one dismal, gloomy existence after another and will undergo much suffering. Just as it is hard to cleanse a big pit that has been full of excrement for many years, so also it is hard for an evil-ridden monk like Kapila to purge himself of all impurities.

So the bhikkhus should recognize a monk like Kapila as one who is steeped in sensual pleasure, sensual thoughts, evil practices and involved in close relations with women of loose character. They should give such a monk a wide berth. They should be united and remove vile, undesirable and bogus monks like Kapila.

After getting rid of the undesirable monk who are given to evil thoughts and evil practices, the bhikkhus should form a community of good monks who live together and practise the dhamma on the basis of unity, harmony and mutual respect. In this way they will gain full insight-knowledge and finally attain Arahatship and Nibbāna that is the end of suffering.

This is the full text of the Buddha's teaching in Kapila sutta. According to the commentary, after hearing the sermon those who had brought the fish joined the holy order, practised the dhamma and before long attained Arahatship.

Pāpabhikkhu sutta, Nidāna vagga, Saṃyutta nikāya

Once while the Buddha was dwelling in Veluvanna monastery at Rājagaha, thera Moggallāna and thera Lakkhaṇa dwelt on the Gijjhakutta hill. One day the two theras came down the hill to go into the city for alms. At a certain place on the way thera Moggallāna smiled. His companion asked him why he smiled. Moggallāna said that it was not yet time to answer the question and that it should be asked in the presence of the Buddha.

After finishing their rounds for alms, the two theras went to see the Buddha. Then before the Buddha thera Lakkhaṇa asked the question again and Moggallāna replied as follows.

"While I was coming down the hill, I saw a monk going in the sky. His robe was burning and so were his bowl and his body. He was howling with pain. He was indeed a peta and on seeing him I was very much surprised to learn that such a being did exist."

Thera Moggallāna was greatly moved with compassion for the pita as well as for all other living beings who would have to reckon with such suffering as long as they remained entangled in the life-cycle ( samsāra ). He smiled because he knew that he had put an end to all such suffering.

Then the Buddha said as follows.

"Bhikkhus, my disciples have so much knowledge that they can see such living beings. They are able to give an eye-witness account in support of my teaching. I saw such living beings at midnight just on the eve of my supreme enlightenment. But I have not told anyone about it before because my revelation would do harm to skeptics. Bhikkhus, that peta was a vile monk in the lifetime of Kassapa Buddha. As a result of his evil kamma he suffered for aeons in hell. Then as the residual effect of his kamma, he is now suffering with his body in flames."

The commentary explains the term pāpabhikkhu (vile bhikkhu).

Pāpa-bhikkhu is the monk who misused the four necessities of life, viz., food, dwelling, robe and medicine that were offered by lay people who believed that they would benefit by giving alms to virtuous monks. The vile monk did not exercise self-restraint in his deed and speech; he acquired material goods by fair means or foul and he gave free rein to his evil propensities. Therefore on his death he suffered in hell and then in the time of Buddha gotama he landed in the world of petas in the form of a monk.

The same may be said of petas who were corrupt bhikkhunīs (nuns) and corrupt sāmaṇeras (novices) in their previous lives. The stories of these petas are to be found in Saṃyutta nikāya and vinaya piṭaka. Such petas were not visible even to the Arahat like thera Lakkhaṇa. Most probably there might have been as many petas as there were corrupt monks and nuns in the lifetime of Kassapa Buddha. They suffered in hell and became petas because in their previous lives they vilified the virtuous monks and did not live in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha.

Hence the paramount importance of practice leading to the real heritage of the Dhamma in terms of magga, phala and Nibbāna or at the very least the second-class heritage of the Dhamma in the form of morality and alms-giving.

May you all be able to practise sīla, samādhi and paññā faithfully and gain the heritage of the Dhamma.!