Visuddhimagga I-6

So panāyaṃ visuddhimaggo katthaci vipassanāmattavaseneva desito. Yathāha –

‘‘Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccāti, yadā paññāya passati;

Atha nibbindati dukkhe, esa maggo visuddhiyā’’ti. (dha. pa. 277);




Ñ(I,6): In some instances this path of purification is taught by insight alone, according as it is said:

'Formations are all impermanent:

When he sees thus with understanding

And turns away from what is ill,

That is the path to purity' (Dh. 277). [3]

Sayādaw U Sīlānanda: [insight = vipassanā].

Ñ footnote: 'The words "insight alone" are meant to exclude, not virtue, etc., but serenity (i.e. jhāna), which is the opposite number in the pair, serenity and insight.

This is for emphasis. But the word "alone" actually excludes only that concentration

with distinction [of jhāna]; for concentration is classed as both access and

absorption (see Ch. IV, §32). Taking this stanza as the teaching for one whose

vehicle is insight does not imply that there is no concentration; for no insight

comes about without momentary concentration. And again, insight should be

understood as the three contemplations of impermanence, pain, and not-self; not

contemplation of impermanence alone' (Pm. 9-10).

Katthaci jhānapaññāvasena. Yathāha –

‘‘Yamhi jhānañca paññā ca, sa ve nibbānasantike’’ti. (dha. pa. 372);

[PTS 003]有些地方,则作禅与慧的意思。所谓:


Ñ: And in some instances by jhāna and understanding, according as it is, said:

'He is near unto nibbāna

In whom are jhāna and understanding' (Dh. 372).

Bhikkhu Jotinanda: Here's the explanation of Mahā-Ṭīkā:

"By jhāna and understanding: by serenity (samatha) and insight (vipassanā). And here 'jhāna' means the the jhāna that serves as the basis for insight. In whom...are jhāna and understanding: That person who having made jhāna the basis, arouses insight, and exert [himself] in it - This is the meaning here."

Katthaci kammādivasena. Yathāha –

‘‘Kammaṃ vijjā ca dhammo ca, sīlaṃ jīvitamuttamaṃ;

Etena maccā sujjhanti, na gottena dhanena vā’’ti. (ma. ni. 3.387; saṃ. ni. 1.48);




Ñ: And in some instances by deeds (kamma), etc., according as it is said:

'By deeds, vision and righteousness,

By virtue, the sublimest life

By these are mortals purified,

And not by lineage and wealth' (M.iii,262).

Sayādaw U Sīlānanda: [By deeds, vision and righteousness = By action, knowledge and Dhamma]; [By virtue, the sublimest life = By virtue and noble way of life].

Bhikkhu Jotinanda: Mahā-Ṭīkā offers 2 alternative explanations, both referring to the Noble Eightfold Path:

1) deed/action (kamma) = volition of the path (magga); vision/knowledge (vijjā) = right-view; virtue (sīla) = right-speech and right-action; noble way of life = right-livelihood; Dhamma = the remaining Dhammas of the four ariyan paths i.e. the remaining phenomena associated with the 4 ariyan/noble paths, which is not already mentioned.

2) action = right-action; knowledge = right-view and right-thought; Dhamma = Concentration, right-effort and right-mindfulness; virtue = right-speech and right-livelihood; noble way of life = the noble way of life of such a noble individual.

Katthaci sīlādivasena. Yathāha –

‘‘Sabbadā sīlasampanno, paññavā susamāhito;

Āraddhavīriyo pahitatto, oghaṃ tarati duttara’’nti. (saṃ. ni. 1.96);




Ñ: And in some instances by virtue, etc., according as it is said:

'He who is possessed of constant virtue,

Who has understanding, and is concentrated,

Who is strenuous and diligent as well,

Will cross the flood so difficult to cross' (S.i,53).

Chew: “susamāhito” = “concentrated”?

Han: Yes.

su + samāhita = well + composed, collected of mind, concentrated.

Katthaci satipaṭṭhānādivasena. Yathāha –

‘‘Ekāyano ayaṃ, bhikkhave, maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā…pe… nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya, yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā’’ti (dī. ni. 2.373).



Ñ: And in some instances by the foundations of mindfulness, etc., according as it is said: 'Bhikkhus, this path is the only way for the purification of beings ... for the realization of nibbāna, that is to say, the four foundations of mindfulness' (D.ii,290);

Sammappadhānādīsupi eseva nayo.


Ñ: and similarly in the case of the right efforts, and so on.

Imasmiṃ pana pañhābyākaraṇe sīlādivasena desito.


Ñ: But in the answer to this question it is taught by virtue and the other two.

Han: “and the other two” is not in the Pāḷi text nor in Burmese book.

Chew: “But in the answer to this question it is taught by virtue, etc.”?

Han: Han: It is to be noted that this path of purification is taught by
(i) in some instances, vipassanāmatta vaseneva.
(ii) in some instances, jhāna paññā vasena.
(iii) in some instances, kammādivasena.
(iv) in some instances, sīlādivasena.
(v) in some instances, satipaṭṭhānādivasena.
(vi) in some instances, sammappadhānādīsupi.

But in the answer to this question it is taught by sīlādivasena.

Bhikkhu Jotinanda: Regarding your exchange with Dr. Han. Your suggestion “But in the answer to this question it is taught by virtue, etc.” is correct. Ven. Ñm. translate ādi as "the other two". This is not a literal translation. Ādi is usually translated as "beginning with" or "etc." Here Ven. Ñm. takes "etc." as samādhi and paññā. And so "the other two." This translation, although not literal, is not wrong as it still preserve the meaning.

It is interesting to note here that according to Ven. Buddhaghosa the Visuddhimagga that he is about to write is about only one among the many methods of purification taught by the Buddha. If we look at all the methods mentioned here we see that all of them involves, in some ways, employing the Noble Eightfold Path to arouse the insight necessary for the highest purification.

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Acknowledgment: Thanks to Buddhist Publication Society (BPS) and Venerable Nyanatusita for allowing me to use the English translation of the Visuddhimagga (The Path Of Purification) by Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa, translated from the Pāḷi by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, as part of a combined Chinese English translation.

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