VISUDDHIMAGGA - THE PATH OF PURIFICATION - Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature


Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and The Noble Eightfold Path.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019




Antojaṭā bahijaṭā,
Jaṭāya jaṭitā pajā,
Taṃ taṃ Gotamo pucchāmi,
Ko imaṃ vijaṭaye jataṃ?

Sīle patiṭṭhāya naro sappāñño,
Cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ,
Ātāpi nipako bhikkhu,
So imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭaṃ.

The inner tangle and the outer tangle,
This generation is entangled in a tangle.
And so I ask of Gotama this question,
Who succeeds in disentangling this tangle?

When a wise man established well in virtue,
Developes consciousness and understanding,
Then as a bhikkhu ardent and sagacious,
He succeeds in disentangling this tangle.

(Sayutta Nikāya)


1. Sīlavisuddhi                                        Purification of virtue
2. Cittavisuddhi                                      Purification of mind
3. Diṭṭhivisuddhi                                   Purification of view
4. Kaṅkhāvitaraṇavisuddhi                   Purification by overcomihg doubt
5. Maggāmaggañaṇadassanavisuddhi Purification by knowledge and vision of the path and not path
6. Paṭipadāñāṇadassaṇavisuddhi         Purification by knowledge and vision of the way
7. Ñāṇadassaṇavisuddhi                        Purification by knowledge and vision

1. Sīlavisuddhi
(a) Pātimokkhasaṃvarasīla    - the virtue of training precepts
(b) Indriyasaṃvarasīla            - the virtue which guards the six sense doors
(c) Ājivapārisuddhisīla            - the virtue which purifies livelihood
(d) Paccayasannissitasīla       - the virtue of reflecting wisely on the four requisites
2. Citta visuddhi
(a) Upacārasamādhi                - Access concentration
(b) Appanāsamādhi                   - Absorption concentration
3. Diṭṭhivisuddhi
(a) Nāmarūpaparicchedañāṇa - Knowledge of understanding characteristics etc., of mental and material phenomena
4. Kañkhāvitaranavisuddhi
(b) Paccayapariggahañāṇa  - Knowledge of discernment of conditions for mental and material phenomena
5. Maggamaggañāṇadassaṇavisuddhi
(c) Sammasanañāṇa                 - Knowledge of comprehension
(d)Udayabbayañāṇa                - Knowledge of rise and fall (tender phase)
6 Paṭipadāñāṇadassanavisuddhi
(d)Udayabbayañāṇa        - Knowledge of rise and fall (mature phase)  
(e)Bhaṅgañāṇa                - Knowledge of dissolution
(f)Bhayañāṇa                   - Knowledge of fearfulness
(g)Ādīnavañāṇa               - Knowledge of danger
(h)Nibbidāñāṇa               - Knowledge of disenchantment
(i)Muccitukamyatāñāṇa  - Knowledge of desire for deliverance (j)Paṭisaṅkhāñāṇa        - Knowledge of reflection
(k)Saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇa - Knowledge of equanimity towards formations
(l)Anulomañāṇa                - Knowledge of conformity
Between VI & VII
(m) Gotrabhuñāṇa                   - Change of lineage
7. Ñāṇadassaṇavisuddhi
(o)Maggañāṇa                           - Path knowledge
(p)Phalañāṇa                              - Fruition knowledge

The main aim of following the Noble Eightfold Path is to achieve the state of Enlighten­ment or the realization of Nibbana. The path for enlightenment has to develop through the seven stages of purification with their corresponding progress of insight stages. If the meditator understands and experiences these stages during practice he will know his own progress accord­ingly. It, therefore, needs to be explained very briefly.

1. Purity of Morality (Sīlavisuddhi)
The application of Right Speech (sammāvācā), Right Action (sammākammanta) and Right Livelihood (sammāājīva) are basic practises for moral purification (sīlavisuddhi). However, before one begins Vipassanā meditation, traditionally, observance of either five or eight moral precepts will be enough for the lay person for the moral purity necessary as the foundation of practice. For those who have ordained as monks or nuns, there is the need to observe restraint according to the disciplinary monastic rules (Patimokkhasaṃvarasīla). However, he meditator is required to control the senses for higher morality and to discipline the, so that the morality of restraining the senses (Indriyasaṃvarasīla), the morality of pure liveli­hood (Ājīvaparisuddhisīla) and the morality of the proper use of requisites (Paccayasannisita­sīla) are essential precepts for the protection of moral purity.

2. Purity of Mind (Cittavisuddhisīla)
When one begins the practice of meditation, the mind wanders, thoughts arise most of the time and the meditator finds it very difficult to control the mind and to concentrate on an object. The minds is not yet full purified. The meditator feels there is no progress in the practice. Therefore, one should try to develop one of three concentrations, access concentration (upacārasamādhi), meditative absorptions (appanāsamādhi) and moment concentration (khaṇikasamādi) (these have been explained previously). Right Effort (sammāvāyāma), Right Awareness (sammāsati) and Right Concentration (sammāsamādhi) are grouped as concentration (Samādhisikkhā) in the Noble Eightfold Path. The medi­ator should develop these three factors in order to purify the mind. The mind always tends to sense objects. If sense objects arise in senses, one reacts with liking or disliking and brings about thoughts which are the cause of the arising of impurities. Sometimes there may be no liking or disliking and no defilements, but there are interruptions and these wandering thoughts become hindrances to the practise. Therefore, one should develop concentration to purify the mind. For the concentration (khaṇikasamādhi), awareness arises objectively and precisely on many different objects in each moment. In this situation, there is no thinking of an object, but only awareness and the mind is well concentrated on the object. Thus, the mind should be free from mental hindrances and awareness must occur uninterruptedly with its respective object, so that through concentration purity of mind is established before one develops Vipassanā.

3. Purity of View (Diṭṭhivisuddhi)
Purification of view generally denotes the overcoming of the false idea of self or entity in the so-called being. The meditator who is endowed with purity of mind observes mental and material processes in each moment and gets to know the mind and body analytically. Just as, if he concentrates on breathing, he comes to know he in-breath is one process and the out-breath is another, so also he is aware that the intervals between the in-breath and its awareness and the out-breath and its awareness arise as different processes. In this way he gets to know as direct experience each mental and material state as a different process. When seeing a visual object with the eye, he knows how to distinguish each single factor involved - the visual object is another, seeing is another and awareness is another. The same applies in the case of the other sense functions. Thus, by observing each process, the meditator analyses mental and material states according to their true essential nature. This is called "Analytical knowledge of mind and body" (Nāmarūpaparicchedañāṇa). When that knowledge has come to maturity, the meditator understands thus: there is in-breath and awareness of it; there is out-breath and awareness of it, but there is no self besides. Understanding thus in these and other instances, he realizes that except for these mental and material states which is no separate being, person or I that exists. This is called purification of view.
"No doer of the deeds is found, no being that may reap their fruits; empty phenomena roll on, this is the only right view."

4. Purity by Overcoming Doubt (Kaṅkhāvitaraṇavisuddhi)
Purity of overcoming doubt is that knowledge which comes about through compre­hending the conditions for the arising of mental and physical phenomena and which is free from all the doubts with regard to oneself, such as: Have I been in the past? Shall I be in the future.' Am I now, or am I not'? The understanding of Dependent Origination, of kamma and rebirth are also included here.
"Who wishes to escape from doubt, should be attentive and alert; And should of mind and body both, perceive the cause and origin.
For as the meditator's concentration and knowledge develops, he realizes cause and effect while observing mind and body. While watching in-breaths and out-breaths, he comes to know that because of the in-breaths, awareness of it arises; as the out-breath comes, aware­ness of it also arises. Likewise when he sees, he knows that because of the visual object seeing arises and because seeing arising, awareness of it also arises etc.. And when he changes his sitting position, he realizes that because of the intention to change, he changes the position of the body; if he stretches a limb, he realizes that because of intention he stretches a limb etc. The meditator distinguishes between cause and effect in each moment. This is the insight that distinguishes between cause and effect (Paccayapariggahañāṇa).
As time passes, the meditator will generally experience many and various painful feel­ings in his body. When he is aware of one feeling, another feeling will arise elsewhere and while that is being awared, again another will appear. Thus the meditator follows each feeling as it arises and he awares of it. But though he is engaged in watching these feelings as they arise, he will only perceive their initial phase of 'arising' and not their final phase of 'dissolu­tion'. And also when mental images arise he is aware of them at the moment of their arising, but is not aware of their moment of dissolution. In this way, the meditator understand and realizes that all mental and material processes are conditioned or conditioning. Apart from these, there is no person or self who performs or governs this phenomenal world. This is called "the purity of insight by overcoming doubt."

5. Purity by Insight and Vision of What is Path and Not Path (Maggāmaggañāṇa­dassaṇavisuddhi)
As the meditator continues the meditation with perfect awareness and concentration, he awares that every process of the mind and body of which he is watching is subject to, they are impermanent, just arising and passing away. Such knowledge is the insight which ob­serves, explores and grasp impermanence (aniccasammassanañāṇa). At the same time he realizes that all of them are not worth cherishing. For the meditator sees them is suffering (dukkhasammassanañāṇa). Further he comprehends absence of self or observes them as the processes of impersonal phenomena (anattānupassanāñāṇa). This comprehension which arises with direct experience is called 'insight by comprehension of phenomena' (sammassanañāṇa).
Furthermore, as the meditator gives his attention to any process of the mind and the body, he is aware the arising and dissolution of each process. This is the insight of rising and passing away (udayabbhayañāṇa). If the meditator observes all mental processes presently and objectively, as a result of insight, various phenomena arises in him, such as, a brilliant light, strong mindfulness, strong or lucid awareness, strong faith, rapture, tranquility of mind, sublime happiness suffusing his body, vigour, equanimity and liking or a subtle attachment. The meditator, at first, is delighted with these experiences as if he has attained his goal. However, as he observes them objectively he realizes these are mere phenomena, subject to change and therefore corruptions of insight. This understanding is the purity by Knowledge and vision of what is path and not-path.

6. Purity by Knowledge and Vision of the Course of Practice (Paṭipadā­ñāṇadassana­visuddhi)
As the meditator continues his practice, watching of arising and passing away becomes accu­rate and mature, keen and strong. The meditator perceives only two factors in each moment - object and awareness. When he gives attention to them, he awares that every factor is dissolution. For instance, when seeing, hearing, smelling or thinking, he does not aware the moment of arising, but of dissolu­tion. This is the arising of the insight of dissolution (Bhaṇgañāṇa). With the development of the insight of dissolution, awareness of fear arises in the wake of the constant and rapid dissolution of all pro­cesses. This is insight with the awareness of fearfulness (Bhayañāṇa). The meditator then sees the whole psychophysical phenomena, so rapidly dissolving, as undesirable and of harmful nature. This is the insight of misery (Ādinavañāṇa). Such psychophysical nature is regarded to be devoid of pleasure or tiresome. This is the insight of disgust (Nibbidañāṇa). These three insights are constituted in one or two kind of insight.
As the meditator experiences all the processes of mind and body, fearfulness, misery and dis­gust, a desire arises to renounce this body-mind complex. This is the insight of desire for deliverance (Muccitukamyatāñāṇa). The meditator then makes a strong effort to develop awareness and concentration. All the processed of physical and mental elements become calm and balanced. Gross or painful feelings disappear. Awareness arises smoothly without any effort and quite spontaneously, and it goes on continually for a longer time than expected, as all mental and physical formations become equanimous. This is the insight of equanimity of formations (Saṅkhārupekkhañāṇa). With the maturing of this insight of equanimity of formations, awareness becomes sharp, occurring two or three times rapidly and without any special effort. This is called insight leading to emergence (vuṭṭhānagāmini).
The last occurrence is insight of adaptation (Anulomañāṇa). Here, vuṭṭhāna means the Noble Path that ascends to and glimpses Nibbāna, gāmini means special insight that proceeds to that Noble Path and anulomañāṇa is the last of Vipassanā insights that, with the realization of impermanence etc., occurs conformably to the preceding Vipassanā insights and to the Noble Path. If the meditator expe­riences this last Vipassanā insight it is called purity by insight and vision in the course of practise. Immediately afterwards, a kind of insight arises that, as it were, falls for the first time into Nibbāna which is avoid of formations since it is the cessation of them. This is called maturity insight (gotrabhūñāṇa). Gotrabhū, literally means the one who has become one of lineage that is by attaining to that insight one enters another lineage. In fact, by the attainment of this insight one moves from he worldling lineage to that of the Noble Ones.

7. Purity by Insight and Vision (Ñāṇadassaṇavisuddhi)
The moment of the arising of path insight (Maggañāṇa) is called purity by insight and vision, the last of the seven purifications. After the insight of adaptation (Anulomañāṇa) ma­turity insight, and path and fruition insights follow in succession. The path insight lasts only for a fleeting moment and realizes the cessation of all processes of conditioning. The insight of fruition is followed by two or three insights of retrospection (Paccavekkhaṇāñāṇa) that con­template the path of Vipassanā, and the path of the Noble ones. Path insight (which signifies purity by insight and vision) and fruition insight are insights of a stream winner (Sotāpanna). The stream winner is one who enters for the first time the stream of the Noble Path, thereby overcoming the concept of an everlasting self, doubts about the path or teachings, and adher­ence to wrong rites and rituals. The stream winner has become free from rebirth in any of the lower realms of existence.
The individual who wishes to attain higher insights and stages of Enlightenment should make an effort to develop Vipassanā insights beginning with the insight of arising and dissolu­tion (Udayabbayañāṇa). This will lead to higher paths and fruition insights through which one eradicates the remaining fetters of defilements. The final stage arrived at is that of the Arahant. For the Arahant there can be no further rounds of rebirth in saṃsāra.

Catupārisuddhisīla (Four types of Purified Virtue)

1. Pātimokkhasaṃvarasīla (Restraint with regard to the Disciplinary Code of the monks)
"Yo naṃ pāti rakkhati, taṃ mocayati apāyikādihi dukkhehi, tasmā taṃ pātimokkhanti vuccati."
Pātimokkha is the virtue of the training precepts or the observance of disciplinary rules. It sets one free from the sufferings of woeful states who protects it, guards it; that is why it is called Pātimokkha.

2. Indriyasaṃvarasīla (Restraint of the senses)
Indriyasaṃvarasīla is the moral virtue which guards the six sense-doors so as not to let mental defilements arise.
"So cakkhunā rupaṃ disvā na nimittaggāhī hoti nānubyañjanaggāhī, yatvādhikaranamenaṃ cakkhundriyaṃ asaṃvutaṃ viharantaṃ abhijjhādomanassā pāpakā akusalā dhammā anvāsaveyyuṃ, tassa saṃvarāya paṭipajjati rakkhati cakkhundriyaṃ, cakkhundriye saṃvaraṃ āpajjati."                                          

"On seeing a visible object with the eye, he apprehends neither the signs nor the particu­lars, through which, if he left the eye-faculty unguarded, evil and unprofitable states of covet­ousness and grief might invade him, he enters upon the way of its restraint, he guards the eye faculty, undertakes the restraint of the eye-faculty."

3. Ājīvapārisuddhisīla (Virtue of Livelihood Purification)      
"Yā pana ājīvahetupaññattānaṃ channaṃ sikkhāpadānaṃ vītikkamassa, kuhanā lapanā nemittikatā nippesikatā lābhena lābhaṃ nijigīsanatāti evamādīnañca pāpadhammānaṃ vasena pavattā micchājīvā virati, idam ājīvapārisuddhisīlaṃ "
''Abstinence from Such wrong livelihood as entails transgression of the training precepts announced with respect to livelihood and entails the evil states beginning with scheming, talking, hinting, belittling, pursuing gain with gain is the virtue of livelihood purification."

4. Paccayasannissitasīla (Virtue with regard to the four requisites)  
"Patisaṅkhā yoniso cīvaraṃ patisevati, yāvadeva sītassa paṭighātaya"ti ādinā nayena  vutto patisaṅkhanapārisuddho catupaccayaparibhogo paccayasannissita­sīlaṃ nāma.
Use of the four requisites that is purified by the reflection stated in the way beginning 'reflecting wisely, he uses the robe only for protection from cold' is called virtue concerning requisites.

Six training precepts
1. On account of livelihood, a bhikkhu proclaims "higher than human state" (Uttarimanussadhamma) that is non-existent.
2. A bhikkhu acts as go-between.
3. A bhikkhu says (indirectly) that one who stays at this monastery is an Arahant.
4. Without being sick, a bhikkhu eats superior food that he has ordered for his own use.
5. Without being sick, a bhikkhuni eats...
6. Without being sick, a bhikkhu eats curry or boiled rice that he has ordered for his own use.

Purification of View (Diṭṭhi  Visuddhi)

Lakkhaṇa-rasa-paccupaṭṭhāna-padaṭṭhānavasena nāmarūpapariggho diṭṭhivisuddhi nāma.
The discernment of mind and matter with respect to their characteristics, functions, manifestations and proximate causes is called Purification of view.
(Abhidhammatthasangaha, Chap. IX)
Nāmarūpānaṃ yathāvadassanaṃ diṭṭhi visuddhi nāma.
Seeing mind and matter as they really and truly are is called Purification of view.
(The Essence of the Path of Purification)
Sabbaṃtaṃ ārammaṇābhimukhaṃ namanato nāmanti vavatthapetabbaṃ.
All that should be defined as mentalities because of its bending onto the object.

So sabbepite arūpadhamme namanalakkhaṇena ekatokatvā namanti passati.
Taking all these immaterial states together under the characteristic of 'bending onto object,' he sees them as 'mentalities'.

Sabbaṃtaṃ ruppanato sītuṇhādinā rūpanti vavatthapetabbaṃ.
All that should be defined as materialities because it is molested by cold, heat etc.
Sabbāni rūpani ruppanalakkhaṇena ekatokatvā etaṃ rūpanti passati.
Taking all these together under the characteristic of 'being molested by cold, heat, etc.,' he sees them as materialities.

Yathāpi nāvaṃ nissāya,
Manussā yanti aṇṇave,
Evameva rūpaṃ nissāya,
Nāmakāyo pavattati.
Just as the men depend on a boat for traversing the sea, so does the mentality occur depending on materiality.

Yathāce manusse nissāya,
Nava gacchanti aṇṇave,
Evameva nāmam nissāya,
Rūpakāyo pavattati.
As the boat depends upon the man for traversing the sea, so does the materiality occur depending on mentality.

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