Magganga Dipani

The Manual of the Constituents of the Noble Path

by Mahathera Ledi Sayadaw, Aggamahapandita, D.Litt.

Translated into English by U Saw Tun Teik, B.A., B.L.
Edited by The English Editorial Board

Note to the electronic version:

This electronic version is reproduced directly from the printed version The text is an English translation from the original Burmese. No attempt has been made to to change any of the English phraseology. The reason for putting this book into electronic media is that the book is out of print and the text has been found very a valuable source of inspiration to those practising Vipassana meditation, despite using English language which is somewhat archaic.

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

Veneration to Him, the Most Exalted, the Purified, the Supremely Enlightened Buddha.

The Eightfold Noble Path:

  1. samma-ditthi -Right View
  2. samma-sankappa -Right Thought
  3. samma-vaca -Right Speech
  4. samma-kammanta -Right Action
  5. samma-ajiva -Right Livelihood
  6. samma-vayama -Right Effort
  7. samma-sati -Right Mindfulnes
  8. samma-samadhi -Right Concentration.
  1. Samma-ditthi

    Three kinds of Right View or Right Understanding: kammassakata samma-ditthi--Right View or Understanding that in the case of beings only two things, wholesome and unwholesome actions performed by them, are their own properties that always accompany them wherever they may wander in many a becoming or world-cycle; dasavatthuka samma-ditthi-- Right Understanding of the ten kinds of subjects; catu-sacca samma- ditthi--Right Understanding of the four Realities or the Four Truths.

  2. Samma-sankappa

    Three kinds of Right Thought:

    1. nekkhama sankappa: right thought free from greed and sensuous desire, aiming at an escape from the round of rebirths.
    2. abyapada-sankappa: right thought for the welfare of all beings.
    3. avihimsa-sankappa: right thought for the non-injury of all beings.
  3. Samma-vacca

    Four kinds of Right Speech:

    1. musavada, virati: refraining from telling lies.
    2. pisunavaca virati: refraining from backbiting and calumny.
    3. pharusavaca virati: refraining from using abusive language, words, speech hurtful to others.
    4. samphappalapa virati: refraining from frivolous talk such as telling legends and fables or which is fruitless for this world and the next.
  4. Samma-kammanta

    Three kinds of Right Action:

    1. panatipata virati: refraining from killing and injuring living beings.
    2. adinnadana virati: refraining from taking property which is not given.
    3. kamesumicchacara virati: refraining from taking intoxicants and from unlawful sexual intercourse with those who are still in the care of parents or guardians.
  5. Samma-ajiva

    Four kinds of Right Livelihood:

    1. duccarita micchajiva virati: in the case of laity, refraining from wrong livelihood by means of immoral paysical and verbal actions.
    2. anesana micchajiva virati: in the case of monks and hermits, refraining from wrong livelihood, e.g. by means of giving fruits and flowers to laymen to curry favour.
    3. kuhanadi micchajiva virati: in the case of monks and hermits, refraining from trickery and deceptions by means of working wonders.
    4. tiracchana vijja micchajiva virati: in the case of monks and hermits, refraining from wrong livelihood, e.g. by means of performing base arts such as reading signs and omens, which are against the rules and practice of the Order.
  6. Samma-vayama

    Four kinds of Right Effort:

    1. anuppannanam akusalanam dhammanam anuppadaya vayamo: making effort in the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path so that those vices that have never arisen during the present existence may not arise even for a moment in future existences.
    2. uppannanam akusalanam dhammanam pahanaya vayamo: making effort in the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path so that those vices that have already arisen or are arising during the present existence may be dispelled and may not arise even for a moment in future existences.
    3. anuppannanam kusalanam dhammanam uppadaya vayamo: making effort in the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path so that the thirty- seven bodhipakkhiya-dhamma (factors pertaining to Enlightenment) that have never arisen during the present existence may arise here and now.
    4. uppannanam kusalanam dhammanam bhiyyo bhavaya vayamo: putting forth effort in the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path so that the virtues such as morality that have already arisen and are arising during the present existence-may develop unceasingly until the attainment of anupadisesa-nibbana.
  7. Samma-sati

    Four kinds of Right Mindfulness:

    1. kayanupassana satipatthanam: application of mindfulness to the contemplation of the body-group, such as in-breathing and out-breathing.
    2. vedananupassana satipatthanam: application of mindfulness to the contemplation of the feeling-group, such as painful and pleasurable feelings.
    3. cittanupassana satipatthanam: application of mindfulness to the contemplation of the consciousness-group, such as consciousness rooted in lust (saraga,) or in anger (sadosa), etc.
    4. dhammanupassana satipatthanam: application of mindfulness to the contemplation of mind-objects, such as sensuous lust (kammacchanda).
  8. Samma-samadhi

    Four kinds of Right Concentration:

    1. patthamajhana samadhi: concentration of the first jhana produced by fixing one's attention on one of the objects of samatha tranquillity such as kasina.[1]
    2. dutiyajjhana samadhi: concentration of the second jhana produced by fixing one's attention on one of the objects of samatha, such as kasina.
    3. tatiyajjhana samadhi: concentration of the third jhana produced by fixing one's attention on one of the objects of samatha such as kasina.
    4. cututthajjhana samadhi: concentration of the fourth jhana produced by fixing one's attention on one of the objects of samatha such as kasina.

Exposition of the Three Kinds of Samma-ditthi

Kammassakata Samma-ditthi

Sabbesatta kammadayada, kamayoni, kammabandhu kammappatisarana yam kammam karissanti kalyanam va papakam va tassadayada bhavissanti.

Sabbe satta kammassaka: There exist such properties as elephants, horses, vehicles, cattle, fields, buildings, gold, silver, jewels, etc. Those properties can be said to belong to us in the present existence before we pass away. But when we pass away those properties do not accompany us beyond death. They are like properties which we borrow for some time for our use. They are liable to destruction during the present existence. As those properties which beings possess do not accompany them to their new existences, they cannot be claimed as properties belonging to those beings. The Buddha therefore said, 'sabbe satta kammassaka.' The only property of all beings that accompanies them is their own volitional action. Only the mental, verbal and physical volitional actions of beings always accompany them in this as well as in future existences. They are not liable to destruction by fire, water, thieves, robbers, etc.

Herein, physical action means all movements of such parts of the body as hands and legs, etc. 'Vaci kamma' verbal action means all verbal expressions made by means of the mouth, tongue and throat. 'Mano kamma' mental action means the functioning of the mind. These physical, verbal and mental actions are known as three kamma in the Buddhist teachings.

All beings perform these three kamma at all waking hours. All their work great or small is performed by means of these three kamma. These three kamma become inert when a person is asleep. In the case of a dead person the three kamma cease to function as far as that body is concerned. This is how the three kamma operate in all beings.

These three kamma have two aspects: three good kamma, and three bad kamma. There good kamma are of two kinds: good kamma which has its result ripening during the present existence, and good kamma which has its result ripening during the future existences. The three bad kamma are of two kinds: bad kamma having its result ripening in this existence, and bad kamma having its result ripening in future existences.

Analysis of the Good and Bad Kamma

Ten kinds of immoral conduct:

  1. panatitipata: injuring and killing living beings
  2. adinadana: taking or destroying animate and inanimate properties which are not given
  3. kamesumicchacara: committing sexual misconduct
  4. musavada: telling lies
  5. pisunavaca: backbiting and calumny
  6. pharusavaca: using abusive language
  7. samphappalapa: taking part in frivolous conversation
  8. abhijjha: covetousness
  9. byapada: malevolence
  10. miccha-ditthi: wrong views.

All kinds of physical, verbal and mental actions that are free from these ten kinds of immoral conduct, comprising all kinds of livelihood, acquiring wealth and seeking knowledge, are good volitional actions which have to be performed for this very existence.

All kinds of physical, verbal and mental actions that involve these ten kinds of immoral conduct and that comprise all kinds of livelihood, are bad volitional actions which are performed for this very existence.

Two Kinds of Kamma for Future Existences

The types of kamma performed in this present existence, physical, verbal and mental, with a view to ripening in future existences, are also divided into two kinds: three good kamma (having result in future existences), and three bad kamma (having result in future existences).

All kinds of physical, verbal and mental kamma that are free from the ten kinds of immoral conduct and comprise alms-giving, fast-day observance, conduct, practising meditation, taking refuge in and paying respects to the Three Gems (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha), are known as good kamma done in this present life with a view to ripening in future existences, to being reborn in a good abode.

If any one of the ten kinds of immoral conduct be performed, whether for ripening in this existence or in the future, that kamma leads one to the lower planes in future existences. So it is known as bad kamma having its result ripening in future existence.

In this way one should differentiate the good and bad kamma and contemplate all the three kinds of kamma which are performed everywhere, on land, in water, and in the sky.

Having seen with our eyes the three kamma which are performed in this world, we can also comprehend that all beings, on land, in water and in the sky, have been performing these three kamma in their past existences of endless world-cycles and will also perform them in the future.

Like this universe there are in the four directions, infinite universes in which all beings in water, and land and in the sky are performing these three kamma.

Having discerned all these, it is quite apparent that all beings live by these three kamma done by themselves. They enjoy happiness by virtue of these three kamma. By performing the three good kamma they enjoy various beneficial results and by performing the three bad kamma they encounter various kinds of misery and suffering. The three kamma are their own property which can never be destroyed by fire, water, thieves, robbers and so forth. Though one may own nothing, not even a single coin, he can achieve happiness if he has mental kamma in the form of knowledge and wisdom. So, the Buddha declared 'sabbe satta kammassaka.' All beings have the three volitional kamma as their own property.

The Result of Present Kamma

Those who wish to acquire worldly gains, such as wealth, governmental standing and honour in this life, can achieve their wish if they exert themselves to acquire education and knowledge, If it be that such worldly gains can be had without acquiring education and knowledge and by merely worshipping God, the believers in God may not perform physical, verbal and mental kamma such as trading, farming, learning arts and sciences. Instead, they may perform only the act of worshipping God.

As a matter of fact, it is not so. Like the Buddhists, the Christians, Mohammedans, etc., are performing the three kinds of kamma, and for this reason they acquire worldly gains. It is not God but the three kinds of kamma that give these to them.

The Result of Past Kamma

Just as we can see with our eyes that in this life the worldly gains are not given by God but are acquired by one's own kamma, similarly we can realise that beneficial results of being reborn in a wealthy family or in the deva world are not by virtue of worshipping God but by virtue of past kamma such as alms-giving, observance of morality and so forth, performed in previous existences. One who is reborn in a wealthy family becomes the owner of the riches of that family. That is, all his possessions are due to his past kamma. Here, the analogy of vegetation should be given.

The process of the formation and growth of vegetation is commonly ascribed to the seed. According to the Abhidhamma, the element of kinetic energy (tejo) which is known as caloricity (utu) is said to be the cause. The seed is nothing but the element of kinetic energy. That element of kinetic energy is the real seed.

At the beginning of the world, before the existence of seeds, vegetation grew from tejo. Later that vegetation produced fruits and seeds from which trees grew successively.

In the same way all beings have kamma as their seeds of becoming: wholesome kamma as alms-giving, morality, etc; and unwholesome kamma as taking others' lives, etc.

The process of becoming as men and animals is due to the past kamma in previous existences. On account of the wholesome kamma, etc., they are reborn as men and devas, and because of the unwholesome volitional kamma they are reborn in four lower worlds: hell, animal world, peta world, and asuraka world.

Previous vegetation produces seeds from which fresh vegetation rises. Thus seeds from the tree and trees from the seeds appear successively: a cycle of seeds and trees. Similarly, beings have seeds of kamma in their previous existences. From these seeds of kamma new existences appear. Thus beings perform kamma which in turn gives rise to new becomings successively.

Trees have physical phenomena only. A tree yields many fruits from which many trees are grown. In the case of beings, they have two kinds of phenomena: physical and mental phenomena. Of these two, the mental factor is the chief. One mental factor can produce not more than one new mental factor (i.e. the patisandhivinnana rebirth consciousness). Therefore, although beings have many seeds of wholesome and unwholesome kamma in one existence, one mental factor of the previous existence, i.e. volition (cetana) produces in the next existence only one mental factor. Since many new mental factors are not produced, one corporeality-group of the past existence gives rise to not more than one corporeality-group in the next becoming.

Earth, water, sun, moon, stars, and so forth, come into existence from the seeds of kinetic energy which go under the name of caloricity. It is not that they were created by God. Beings such as men, animals, etc., come into new successive existences because of the seeds of their past kamma performed in previous world-cycles of existences. Such view is known as Right View (samma-ditthi). To hold that God creates them is wrong view (miccha-ditthi). It is the wrong view of those who, not knowing fully the operative power of kamma and utu, imagine that they were created by God. Thus with a view to making people abandon wrong view, and rely upon kamma, knowledge and wisdom, the Buddha said, 'sabbe satta kammassaka'.

Now there are such things as legacies and heirs. These legacies can be called our property only before we die; but when we pass away we have to leave them behind. They do not accompany us to the next existence. They are also liable to be destroyed by fire, water, thieves and robbers before our death, or they may be exhausted by us.

As for the three kinds of kamma performed by beings, they are alwavs theirs in their future existences. They are never destroyed bv fire, etc. For this reason, kamma is said to be the only property inherited by beings. Beings are sure to reap the results of their own kamma in future existences. The wholesome kamma performed by feeding dogs, pigs, fowls and birds can result in a hundred happy existences. The wholesome kamma performed by feeding virtuous monks can give rise to a countless number of happy existences as man and deva. Giving alms worth about a quarter of a kyat in this present life can yield beneficial results worth more than a thousand kyats in future existences. If a person kills an animal, such as a fish, fowl or pig, he may be killed in more than a thousand future existences.

In this world, if a tiny banyan seed is planted, a big banyan tree will grow up bearing innumerable fruits in more than a thousand years. Similarly, if a mango seed or a jack-fruit seed is planted, big mango trees and big jack-fruit trees will grow and bear more than a hundred thousand fruits for many years.

Thus in the case of trees, a small seed is able to yield more than hundred thousand fruits, leaves, branches and twigs. Similarly, a seed of wholesome kamma such as alms-giving, morality, meditation, practised at one time, can yield more than a hundred thousand good results successive future existences. A seed of unwholesome kamma by killing a being can yield evil and painful results in numerous following existences.

Such banyan seeds, mango seeds and jack-fruit seeds may be compared to the seed of physical, verbal and menal actions. A small seed from which arise numerous leaves, fruits, branches and twigs may be compared to a seed of kamma that produces many effects in the following successive existences.

If a person performs one kamma, the effects always accompany him in many existences yielding good or bad results at the opportune moments. One can never get rid of that kamma, but he has to enjoy or suffer its results under appropriate circumstances. So the Buddha declares, 'sabbe satta kammadayada'.

Sabbe Satta Kammayoni

There are several causes for the growth of a banyan tree: the banyan seed, the earth, and the water. Of these causes, the banyan seed is the primary cause; the earth and water are the secondary causes. In the same way, in getting wages by working as a labourer, the present kamma, i.e working as a labourer, is the primary cause. The place for working, the spade, the basket and the employers who pay wages are the secondary causes.

The wholesome past kamma, i.e. alms-giving, morality, etc., which causes one to be reborn as a human being, and the unwholesome kamma by taking others lives, etc., which cause one to be reborn as an animal are the primary causes similar to the banyan seeds. The parents are the secondary causes, just as the earth and water are for the growth of a banyan tree.

In the same way, with regard to the present good and evil results, one's own kamma performed in the present existence with wisdom and knowledge or otherwise is the primary cause. So also, one's own wholesome kamma as alms-giving, morality, etc., and unwholesome kamma as killing beings, performed in previous existences, are the primary causes of good and evil results. The parents are not the primary causes, nor is it anything to do with God, For this reason, the Buddha said, 'sabbe satta kammayoni.'

Sabbe Satta Kammabandhu

Now, there are parents, brothers, sons, relatives, teachers and friends whom we love and rely upon, but they can be loved and relied upon only for a short period, i.e. before our death. However, one's own physical, verbal and mental kamma are constant companions which accompany one and give happiness and prosperity to one in future existences. So the wholesome kamma alone is one's real relative or friend which should be esteemed and relied upon. Therefore, the Buddha declares, 'sabbe satta kammabandhu.'

Sabbe Satta Kammappatisarana

In this phrase, 'refuge' means reliance upon or taking shelter for protection against troubles and dangers. In the world those who wish to enjoy, long life have to rely upon food and drink. Food and drink protect persons from the danger of starvation. The danger of starvation cannot befall those who have sufficient food and drink. Similarly it is necessary to rely upon doctors and medicine for protection against ailments and diseases, and to rely upon weapons for protection against enemies. In the same way, all kinds of refuge are resorted to for different purposes.

'Refuge' does not mean only worshipping. It also has the meaning of reliance upon and taking shelter or protection, as mentioned above. We take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, teachers and those who are nobler than us by paying homage to them.

In this life a man without property will soon get into trouble. Fearing that trouble, we have to rely upon kamma by doing such work as will give us money and property. Lack of wholesome kamma will lead to the lower worlds where one has to suffer greviously. Fearing such suffering, one has to perform wholesome kamma which can lead one to be reborn as a man or deva in the existences to come. The present kamma of working with knowledge and wisdom can save us from danger in the present life, and wholesome kamma such as alms-giving and moraliy can save one from the lower worlds in future existences.

We have to rely, on the present kamma of working for avoiding dangers in this present existence. We have to rely on wholesome kamma also for avoiding suffering in the lower worlds in future existences.

The Buddha, therefore, preaches 'sabbe satta kammappatisarana.'

Herein we should analyse several kinds of refuge. In Buddhism there are four kinds of taking refuge for the future:

  1. taking refuge in the Buddha
  2. taking refuge in the Dhamma
  3. taking refuge in the Sangha
  4. taking refuge in one's own wholesome kamma.

For example, there are in this world four kinds of refuge for sick persons:

  1. refuge in a chief doctor
  2. refuge in good medicine
  3. refuge in assistant doctors
  4. refuge in following their directions with faith.

Of the above-mentioned four refuges, the chief doctors and the assistants are the refuge of the patient as they are capable of prescribing good and suitable medicines for particular diseases. The medicine is the refuge of the patient in that it can cure him of his disease. The patient's sensible action in following the directions are also his refuge, as without such actiom on his part the other three refuges would be ineffective for the cure of the disease. So all four are the real refuges of the patient.

Those who commit evil deeds and indulge in sensual pleasures resemble sick persons; the Buddha resembles the chief doctor who is expert in curing diseases; the monks resemble the assistant doctor; and the Dhamma resembles the medicine. The physical, verbal and mental wholesome kamma resemble the sensible action of the patient in following the directions. In this way there are four kinds of refuge in Buddhism. The three refuges of the above four: Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha exist only during the Buddha Sasana. They do not exist outside it.

The refuge of wholesome kamma exists both within and outside the Buddha Sasana. We can never be free from kamma which is operating all the time in this universe as well as in other innumerable universes.

This discourse of 'sabbe satta kammassaka' is also applicable to all the universes both within and outside the Buddha Sasana. It is for this reason that the refuge of kamma alone and not the three refuges of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is dealt with in this discourse.

These are the four kinds of refuges to rely upon with a view to acting wisely in this existence and being reborn in happy existences. Saranam, usually translated 'refuge', means that which can save, give support or protection. Thus food and drink are the support of beings for long life. Medicines and diet are the support for the cure of diseases. Kings or rulers are protection against the danger of dacoits and robbers. Buildings are the refuge for living comfortably and safely. Boats and steamers are for sea and riverine voyages. The earth is for support. Similarly water, fire and air are the supports for respective purposes. In this way there are numerous refuges in this existence. This is the exposition about the different kinds of refuge in Buddhism.

In other religions only one refuge, the refuge of God, is known. So whatever comes into existence or is destroyed is attributed to God. I shall make this more clear. In other religions, such as Christianity and Mohammedanism, the true meaning of refuge is not understood and the respective followers regard God as their only refuge. Since they believe only in one refuge, they take it for granted that the appearance and disappearance of the world and of beings are due to the power of God. They believe that God saves those who have faith in him by his supernormal power. With this power he can wash away all sins and evils of beings and give them eternal happiness and eternal life after death. The good and evil results of beings depend on the will of God.

They disbelieve in kamma thinking that kamma is not the cause of such results. It is most surprising that those who are really performing kamma entirely disregard their own acts. Kamma means physical, verbal and mental actions of practising the teachings of a particular religion. The auspicious act of baptism, worshipping and praying to God daily, obeying his commandments, etc., are really kamma. These people believe that God saves only those who perform such deeds but not those who do not do so; but they do not realise that such deeds are really 'kamma'.

In those religions also, as in Buddhism, there are four kinds of refuge. In Buddhism they are the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha and kamma. But in those religions they are:

  1. refuge in God
  2. the commandments of God
  3. prophets, such as Christ and Mohammed, and priests
  4. their own kamma in the performance of their religious rites and duties.

The priests and missionaries of those religions do not realise that in their religions also there are several kinds of refuge. So they regard God as their only refuge and disregard their kamma. Consequently they believe that the good and evil, prosperity and ruin, happiness and suffering of all beings are created only by God and are not due to any other cause. They do not know that there are various and different causes for these.

In this world, is it simply by worshipping and praying to God that the poor who desire wealth can get it, or would they get it by the present kamma of working diligently as a labourer, farmer, trader, etc.? The answer is: wealth is not usually obtained by worshipping and praying to God. On the other hand, acquisition of property by performing the present kamma is quite evident in this world. Therefore, it is believeable that acquiring property in this life is due to the present kamma and has nothing to do with God.

God has no power to give property to anyone. Only the present kamma can do so. If God had such power to give wealth, his faithful followers would have no occasion to perform present kamma, they would be enjoying riches given by him; and those who are not his followers would not get any property although they were diligently performing the present kamma. But it is not so. The devout followers of God have to perform the present kamma in order to acquire wealth and property; and those who are not his followers also can acquire it, if they desire, by performing the present kamma. For this reason, the acquisition of wealth in this life is the result of the present kamma. It is not the gift of God.

Similarly, if one desires education and knowledge, one can get it by performing the present kamma of studying and learning. They cannot, as a rule, be acquired by worshipping God. If one wishes to be a government officer, one will have to study government rules and regulations. Government posts cannot, as a rule, be obtained by worshipping and praying to God. Thus we can see with our eyes that all the worldly gains are obtainable only by the power of the present kamma and not by the power of God.

The believers in God believe that by worshipping God faithfully they are freed from all their sins and evils. However, as a rule the sick are not cured by taking refuge in God only. On the other hand we have seen with our own eyes that the present kamma of medicine and diet has cured them.

What a surprising thing it is to hold that they would be freed from the result of their sins in the next existence by worshipping God while even a disease such as ringworm, is not usually cured by praying to God in this life. Again, since even trifling wealth cannot as a rule be acquired by merely praying to God in this life, it is also surprising that they believe they would by praying to God go after death to heaven, where they can enjoy a life of eternal happiness.

Now, having seen with our own eyes that wealth and happiness that have not previously been attained in this life are achieved by virtue of present kamma and not by favour of God, we can fully believe that there is no other refuge than the present kamma for acquisition of wealth and happiness in this life. In the same way we can believe that the attainment of the higher planes of existence after death is also due to the wholesome kamma. It has nothing to do with God. God cannot make one who is without such wholesome kamma to be reborn on a happy plane of existence. Those who have such kamma can attain the higher states of existences although they do not pray to God.

Various beneficial results in the next existence means either rebirth as a member of a well-to-do or ruling family, or rebirth in the deva and Brahma world as a powerful deva, sakka or Brahma and so forth. Hence the Buddha declares, 'sabbe satta kammappatissarana.'

[Note on kammadayada: A being has two khandha: rupakkhanda and namakkhandha (corporeality-group and mind-group). The corporeality group consists of head, hands, legs, etc. Mind-group means thoughts and consciousness.

Of these two, the corporeality group comes to dissolution once in each existence. It has different shapes or forms in each existence. As for the mind-group, there is no break in its process. It continually arises in succession from one existence to another. Good kamma causes it to arise in successive happy existences. Wherever the mind group arises, there a new and different corporeality-group comes to be formed. The bad kamma causes the mind-group to arise in lower states of existence.]

Here ends the discourse on 'kammassakata samma-ditthi'.

Dasavatthuka Samma-ditthi

Ten kinds of right understanding:

  1. Atthi dinnam: Right Understanding that alms-giving, if performed with benevolence, in a previous existence, yields beneficial results in subsequent existences.
  2. Atthi yittham: Right Understanding that liberality, if extended with belief in past kamma and with faith in and respect for the virtuos qualities of recipients, yields beneficial results in future existences.
  3. Atthi hutam: Right Understanding that, gifts, even on a small scale, (ahuna, pahuna) if made in previous existences with good will, beneficial results in future existences
  4. Atthi sukata dukkatanami kammanam phalam vipako: Right Understanding that cruel deeds done to beings in previous existences yield bad results in subsequent existences, and that refraining from such evil acts yields beneficial results.
  5. Atthi mata: Right Understanding that good and evil deeds done to one's mother yield good and evil results respectively in subsequent existences.
  6. Atthi pita: Right Understanding that good and evil deeds done to one's father yield good and evil results respectively in subsequent existences.
  7. Atthi satta opapatika: Right Understanding that there really exist beings by apparitional rebirth who are invisible to human eyes. Beings by apparitional rebirth means those that do not take conception in the womb of a mother. Due to the force of their previous kamma they are born complete with the limbs and organs of the body which will not develop further but remain as they are.

    Beings suffering in eight hells; peta, asuraka, earthly devas, ogres, nagas and garudas; devas of the six heavenly worlds, the Brahmas of the twenty Brahma planes consisting of three planes of the first jhana, three planes of the second jhana, three planes of the third jhana, seven planes of the fourth jhana, and four arupa planes; all these beings are known as 'beings by apparitional rebirth'.

    Of the twenty Brahma planes, the Brahma of great power lives in the lowest three planes of the first jhana. That Brahma is regarded as god in other religions in which higher planes existing above those three are not known.

    The sun, moon, stars and constellations in the sky are the heavenly mansions of devas. By seeing these heavenly abodes one can visualise the existence of higher planes of the devas, sakkas, and Brahmas.

    Even when men are close to these beings, they are unable to see them with their human eyes. Only when these beings make their forms visible, and then only can men see them. They are invisible to human eyes like the god, angels and devils in other religions.

    The belief that there really exist such beings by apparitional rebirth is called samma-ditthi.

  8. Atthi ayam loko and
  9. atthi paroloko: Right Understanding that this world (ayam loko) is the human world, and the other world consists of the four lower worlds (hell, the worlds of animals, petas and asurakas), the deva worlds and the Brahma worlds.

    In other religions, hell, the worlds of petas and asurakas, and the higher deva and Brahma planes are not known properly.

    Another interpretation is that there are in this universe the human world, the four lower worlds, and the heavenly deva and Brahma worlds which are termed as 'ayam loko'. Similarly to the east, west, south and north of this universe there are infinite universes which are termed 'paro-loko'. These universes are not known in other religions.

  10. Atthi loke samanabrahmana samaggata sammapatipanna ye imanca lokam paranca lokam sayam abhinna sacchikatva pavedenti. There are higher spiritual knowledge (abhinna) and omniscience (sabbannuta-nana). Monks and brahmins who exert themselves diligently in fulfilling the perfections (paramita) and practising samatha and vipassana bhavana in this human world can achieve such nana. Personages who have achieved such nana appear in this world from time to time.

    Of these two kinds of nana, some are capable of gaining only abhinna and they can see with this nana the four lower worlds, the six deva worlds, and some of the Brahma worlds, as if with their natural eye. Some are capable of achieving both abhinna and sabbannuta-nana and they can see clearly all of the countless beings, infinite worlds and universes. Personages who have both nana are called 'Buddha'.

    These two kinds of personages appear in this human world from time to time and impart their knowledge of this world and the other worlds, but it is only a Buddha who can explain the round of rebirths and existence of universes.

    Three kinds of belief, namely: belief that those personages of higher spiritual knowledge and omniscience appear in this world from time to time, belief in them and their teachings, and belief in the existence of the other worlds, constitute the right understanding or view. Those who have this right understanding entertain no doubt that the Buddha, appears only in the human world, and not in the heavenly worlds.

    In other religions, where there is no such right understanding, they imagine that the all-knowers, the all-seers, the omniscient ones appear only in the highest heavens and not in the human world.

    However, there are two kinds of power: the power of kamma and the power of nana. In the case of kamma, the power of jhana is most effective. It can cause one to arise in the highest plane as a Brahma with a long span of life. It cannot, however, cause one to become an Omniscient Buddha. That Brahma has no nana with which he can see all and know all.

    Only in this human world can one work for sabbannuta-nana, and only one who perseveres diligently to achieve that nana can become omniscient.

    It is only in the Buddha Dhamma that profound, sublime and wonderful Teachings exist, and it is because they belong to the sphere of nana (knowledge and wisdom).

    In this life, to strive to become a wealthy person is one way, and to acquire insight-knowledge and thus become a teacher of beings is another way. To strive to become a great Brahma is similar to striving to become a wealthy man, and to strive as a bhikkhu or hermit for acquiring insight-knowledge is like striving to become a great teacher. Another example is: birds have wings to fly about in the sky but they do not possess knowledge and wisdom like man. Men have knowledge and wisdom but they have no wings and are unable to fly about in the sky.

    The Brahma's kamma of jhana resembles the wings of birds. The insight-knowledge of the monks and hermits resembles the knowledge and wisdom of men.

    The Brahmas and the devas live in the highest planes of existence due to the power of jhana and kamma, but they have no insight-knowledge and omniscience.

    Thus the right understanding (nana, knowledge or wisdom) which enables one to believe: that the Buddha who sees all and knows all appears only in this human world and not not in the higher planes of existence; that only the monks and brahmins of the human race who are endowed with abhinna and subbannuta can clearly discern the condition of the kappa and universes, the beings who are running the round of samsara and how the wholesome and unwholesome kamma operate; that the teachings of those monks and brahmins in the Sutta, Vinaya and Abhidhamma are true, is known as'atthi loke samanabrahamana samma-ditthi'.

    The wrong understanding or belief (miccha-ditthi) is that the God who knows all and sees all cannot appear in the human world but only in the highest heavenly abode, and that there cannot be many gods but only one, and that God, being the highest and noblest, must be eternal and free from old age, disease, death, etc.

    Detailed explanations of the wrong views are given in our Samma-ditthi Dipani, The Manual of Right Views.

Note 1

Thirty-two kinds of talk obstructing fruition and rebirth in higher planes.

  1. rajakatha--talk about kings
  2. corakatha--talk about robbers
  3. mahamattakatha--talk about ministers of state
  4. senakatha--talk about armies
  5. yuddhakatha--talk about battles
  6. annakatha--talk about food
  7. panakatha--talk about drinks
  8. vatthakatha--talk about clothing
  9. sayanakatha--talk about dwellings
  10. malakatha--talk about garlands
  11. gandhakatha--talk about perfumes
  12. natikatha--talk about relations
  13. yanakatha--talk about vehicles
  14. gamakatha--talk about villages
  15. nigamakatha--talk about market towns
  16. nagarakatha--talk about towns
  17. jamapadakatha--talk about districts
  18. itthikatha--talk about women[2]
  19. surakatha--talk about heroes
  20. visikhatha--talk about streets
  21. kumbatthanakhata--talk about watering places
  22. pubbapetakatha--talk about relatives who have passed away
  23. nanattakatha--tittle-tattle
  24. lokakkhayikakatha--talk about the origin of the world
  25. samuddakkhayikakatha--talk about the origin of the ocean
  26. (numbers 27 to 32 are known as itibhavabhavakatha)--talk about eternity belief
  27. talk about annihilation belief
  28. talk about worldly gain
  29. talk about worldly loss
  30. talk about self-indulgence
  31. talk about self-mortification.

Note 2

Twenty-one kinds of wrong livelihood for bhikkhus.

  1. vejjakammam karoti--medical practice
  2. dutakammam karoti--acting as a messenger
  3. pahinakammam karoti--doing things at the behest of laymen
  4. gandam phaleti--lancing boils
  5. arumakkhanam deti--giving oil for medical application
  6. uddham virecanam deti--giving emetics
  7. adho virecanam deti--giving purgatives
  8. natthutelam pacati--preparing oil for nose-treatment
  9. pivanatelam pacati--preparing oil for medicine
  10. veludanam deti--presenting bamboos
  11. pattadanaml deti--presenting leaves
  12. pupphaddnam deti--presenting flowers
  13. phaladanam deti--presenting fruits
  14. sinanadanam deti--presenting soap-clay
  15. dantakatthadanam deti--presenting tooth-sticks
  16. mukhodakadanam deti--presenting water for washing the face
  17. cunnamattikadanam deti--presenting clay-powder
  18. catukamyam karoti--using flattering speech
  19. muggasupiyam karoti--acting like half-cooked bean soup (speaking half-truths)
  20. paribatyam karoti--fondling children
  21. janghapesaniyam karoti--running errands.

Note 3

Kuhanadi micchajiva--wrong living by means of trickery and deception.

  1. kuhana--making people have an unduly high opinion of oneself to get alms:
    1. by pretending that one does not want to receive alms, but accepts only for the sake of the donors
    2. by pretending that one has attained jhana, magga and phala
    3. by feigning deportment so as to make people think one is an ariya.
  2. lapana--talking to please donors with a view to acquiring gain, honour and remown
  3. nemittikata--inviting offerings by giving all kinds of hints
  4. nippesikata--harassing so as to induce offerings
  5. labhenalabham nijigisanata--giving something with a view to getting something more.


  1.  KASINA is the name for a purely external device to produce and 
      develop concentration of mind and attain the four trances (jhana).
      It consists in concentrating one's full and undivided attention on 
      one visible object as preparatory image (parikamma-nimitta). let 
      us say, a coloured spot or disc, or a piece of earth, or a pond at 
      some distance, etc , until at last one perceives, even with the 
      eyes closed, a mental reflex, the so-called acquired image 
      (uggaha-nimitta.) Now, while continuing to direct one's attention 
      to this image, there may arise the spotless and immovable 
      so-called counter-image (patibhaga-nimitta), and together with it 
      the neighbourhood concentration (upacara-samadhi) will have been 
      reached. While still perservering in the concentration on the 
      object, one finally will reach a state of mind where all 
      sense-activity is suspended, where there is no more seeing and 
      hearing, no more perception of bodily impression and feeling, i e. 
      the state of the first mental absorption, or (jhana) trance. The 
      ten kasina mentioned in the Suttas are: earth-kasina, water, fire, 
      wind, blue, yellow, red, white, space, and consciousness. 'There 
      are ten kasina-spheres: a certain one sees the earth-kasina, 
      above, below, on all sides, undivided, unbounded; a certain one 
      sees the water-kasina, above, below, etc.' (D. 33). (Nyanatiloka's 
      Buddhist Dictionairy).

  2. Talk about men is omitted in accordance with Majjhima Pannasa 
     Atthakatha. p.156. 6th. Synod Edition.

  3. Majjhima Nikaya, Majjhima Pannasa Atthakatha 1) Gahapati Vagga, 
     1) Kandara-kasuttavannana. 6th. Synod Edition pg.4

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