Home Previous Up Next

The Buddha

What's New?

Classes

Retreats

Videos

Forums

Books

Mahāsi Sayādaw

Ledi Sayādaw

Other Authors

Bhikkhu Pesala

Discourses

DPPN

Help

Contact Us

Pāḷi Words

Map of India

Related Links

Photos

OpenType Fonts


Parent Folder Previous Page

© You may print any of these books for your own use. However, all rights are reserved. You may not use any of the site content on your own website, nor for commercial distribution. To publish the books, permission must be sought from the appropriate copyright owners. If you post an extract on a forum, post a link to the appropriate page. Please do not link directly to PDF, MP3, or ZIP files. (Updated on 18 August, 2017)




Home Next Page

Mahācattārīsaka Suttaṃ

(M.iii.71)

The Great Forty

Introduction

This important discourse explains the distinction between wrong-view, mundane right-view, and supramundane right-view.

I have removed some repetitions from the translation, which are not indicated: but elisions in the CSCD Pāḷi text are shown by ellipses. The suttas were designed for memorisation to pass down by oral tradition, hence repetitions were commonly used.

In comparing the translations by Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Thanissaro, it was striking to see how different they were. For example, the word “abyāpādasaṅkappo” is translated by Ajahn Thanissaro as  “resolve for freedom from ill will” and by Bhikkhu Bodhi as “the intention of non-ill will.” I translate it as “thoughts of good-will,” as it is positive thoughts, not just the absence of negative thoughts, and the word “cetanā” is usually translated as “intention.” That my own translation is different to both is down to the inherit problem of translating a word or phrase from Pāḷi and conveying the essential meaning in English. I make no claims to be a Pāḷi scholar, but I know the basics, and I can read the texts and commentaries with the help of a dictionary. I give some key Pāḷi words in parenthesis for the benefit of those who want to learn Pāḷi to read the original texts for themselves. Never take any translation at face value. Even the best translations are only one person’s educated guess, and English words are often ambiguous. The best word to use also depends on the context. Sometimes “dukkha” should be translated as “suffering,” but often it is best translated as “unsatisfactoriness.”

Translation

“Thus have I heard — At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi in Prince Jeta’s grove, in the monastery of Anāthapiṇḍika. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks: ‘Monks.’ The monks replied, ‘Venerable sir,’ to the Blessed One, then the Blessed One said — ‘Monks, I will teach about right-concentration with its supports (sa-upanisaṃ) and requisite conditions (saparikkhāraṃ). Listen, and pay careful attention. I will speak.’ ‘Very well, venerable sir,’ those monks replied to the Blessed one. Then the Blessed one said:–

“What, monks, is the noble right-concentration (sammā-samādhi) with its supports and requisite conditions? It is this — right-view (sammā-diṭṭhi), right-thought (sammā-saṅkappo), right-speech (sammā-vācā), right-action (sammā-kammanto), right-livelihood (sammā-ājīvo), right-effort (sammā-vāyāmo), right-mindfulness (sammā-sati); monks, any one-pointedness (ekaggatā) of mind complete with these seven factors is called the noble right-concentration that is complete with its supports and requisite conditions. Therein, monks, right-view is the forerunner (pubbaṅgamā). How, monks, is right-view the forerunner? He knows of wrong-view, ‘This is wrong-view,’ he knows of right-view, ‘This is right-view,’ this is his right-view.

“And what, monks, is wrong-view? ‘There is nothing given (natthi dinnaṃ), nothing offered (natthi yiṭṭhaṃ), nothing sacrificed (natthi hutaṃ). There is no fruit (phalaṃ vipāko) of actions done well or done badly (sukatadukkaṭānaṃ kammānaṃ). There is neither this world (ayaṃ loko), nor the other world (paraṃ loko). There is neither mother (mātā), nor father (pitā).¹ There are no spontaneously arisen (opapātikā) beings (sattā).² There are no recluses (samaṇa) and priests (brāhmaṇā) in the world who, having practised rightly, having realised the existence of this world and the other world by direct knowledge (abhiññā),³ reveal this to others.’ This, monks, is wrong-view (micchā-diṭṭhi).

“And what, monks, is right-view? I say that right-view is of two kinds — right-view with outflows ⁴ that is connected with merit ripening in future existences, and the noble right-view of the supramundane path without outflows. And what, monks, is right-view with outflows that is connected with merit (puññā), ripening in future existences? ‘There is what given, there is what is offered, there is what is sacrificed. There is the fruit of actions done well or done badly. There is this world, and the other world. There is mother and father. There are spontaneously arisen beings. There are recluses and priests in the world who, having practised rightly, having realised the existence of this world and the other world by direct knowledge, reveal this to others.’ This, monks, is right-view connected with merit, ripening in future existences.

“And what, monks, is the path factor of right-view of the supramundane path without outflows? Monks, in one of noble mind (ariyacittassa) without outflows (anāsavacittassa) who possesses the noble path (ariyamaggasamaṅgino), and who is developing the noble path, the wisdom (paññā), the controlling-faculty of wisdom (paññindriyaṃ), the power of wisdom (paññābalaṃ), the enlightenment factor of investigation (dhammavicaya-sambojjhaṅgo), the path factor of right-view (sammādiṭṭhi maggaṅgaṃ), this, monks, is called the supramundane (lokuttarā) path factor (maggaṅgā) of right-view of the path without outflows. He strives to abandon wrong-view and arouse right-view, which is right-effort. He mindfully abandons wrong-view and abides in right-view, which is right-mindfulness. These three states flow from (anuparidhāvanti) right-view and evolve (anuparivattanti) from it, that is to say — right-view, right-effort, and right-mindfulness.

“Therein, monks, right-view is the forerunner. And how, monks, is right-view the forerunner? He knows of wrong-thought, ‘This is wrong-thought,’ he knows of right-thought, ‘This is right-thought,’ this is his right-view.

“And what, monks, is wrong-thought? Thoughts of sensuality (kāmasaṅkappo), thoughts of ill-will (byāpādasaṅkappo), thoughts of cruelty (vihiṃsāsaṅkappo) — this, monks, is wrong-thought.

“And what, monks, is right-thought? I say that right-thought is of two kinds — right-thought with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences, and the supramundane path factor of right-thought of the path without outflows. And what, monks, is right-thought with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences? Thoughts of renunciation (nekkhammasaṅkappo), thoughts of good-will (abyāpādasaṅkappo), and thoughts of compassion (avihiṃsāsaṅkappo). This, monks, is right-thought with outflows connected with merit, ripening in future existences.

“And what, monks, is the path factor of right-thought of the supramundane path without outflows? Monks, in one of noble mind without outflows who possesses the noble path, and who is developing the noble path, the thinking (takko), the initial application of thought (vitakko), the fixing (appanā), and application (byappanā) of the mind, the verbal formation ⁵ (vacīsaṅkhāro) — this, monks, is the supramundane path factor of right-thought of the path without outflows. He strives to abandon wrong-thought and arouse right-thought, which is right-effort. He mindfully abandons wrong-thought and abides in right-thought, which is right-mindfulness. These three states flow from right-thought and evolve from it, that is to say — right-view, right-effort, and right-mindfulness.

“Herein, monks, right-view is the forerunner. And how, monks, is right-view the forerunner? He knows of wrong-speech ‘This is wrong-speech,’ he knows of right-speech, ‘This is right-speech,’ this is his right-view. And what, monks, is wrong-speech? Lying,⁶ slander,⁷ abuse,⁸ and idle chatter ⁹ — this, monks, is wrong-speech. And what, monks, is right-speech? I say that right-speech is of two kinds — right-speech with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences, and the path factor of right-speech of the supramundane path without outflows.And what, monks, is right-speech with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences? He abstains from lying, he abstains from slander, he abstains from abuse, he abstains from idle chatter — this, monks, is right-speech with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences.

“And what, monks is the path factor of right-speech of the supramundane path without outflows? Monks, one of noble mind without outflows who possesses the noble path, and who is developing the noble path, shuns (ārati), avoids (virati), and abstains (veramaṇī) from the four kinds of verbal misconduct — this, monks, is the path factor of right-speech of the supramundane path without outflows. He strives to abandon wrong-speech and arouse right-speech, which is right-effort. He mindfully abandons wrong-speech and abides in right-speech, which is right-mindfulness. These three states flow from right-speech and evolve from it, that is to say — right-view, right-effort and right-mindfulness.

“Herein, monks, right-view is the forerunner. And how, monks, is right-view the forerunner? He knows of wrong-action, ‘This is wrong-action,’ he knows of right-action, ‘This is right-action,’ this is his right-view. And what, monks, is wrong-action? Killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct — this, monks is wrong-action. And what, monks is right-action? I say that right-action is of two kinds — right-action with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences, and the supramundane path factor of right-action of the path without outflows.And what, monks, is right-action with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences?  He abstains from killing (pāṇātipāto), he abstains from stealing (adinnādānaṃ), he abstains from sexual misconduct (kāmesumicchācāro) — this, monks, is right-action with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences.

“And what, monks, is the path factor of right-action of the supramundane path without outflows? Monks, Monks, one of noble mind without outflows who possesses the noble path, and who is developing the noble path, abhors, avoids, and abstains from the three kinds of bodily misconduct — this, monks, is the supramundane path factor of right-action of the path without outflows. He strives to abandon wrong-action and arouse right-action, which is right-effort. He mindfully abandons wrong-action and abides in right-action, which is right-mindfulness. These three states flow from right-action and evolve from it, that is to say — right-view, right-effort, and right-mindfulness.

“Herein, monks, right-view is the forerunner. And how, monks, is right-view the forerunner? He knows of wrong-livelihood, ‘This is wrong-livelihood,’ he knows of right-livelihood, ‘This is right-livelihood,’ this is his right-view. And what, monks, is wrong-livelihood? Scheming (kuhanā),¹⁰ flattery (lapanā),¹¹ hinting (nemittikatā),¹² belittling (nippesikatā),¹³ pursuing gain with gain (lābhena lābhaṃ nijigīsanatā⁴ — this, monks is wrong-livelihood. And what, monks is right-livelihood? I say that right-livelihood is of two kinds — right-livelihood with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences, and the supramundane path factor of right-livelihood of the path without outflows. And what, monks, is right-livelihood with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences?  a noble disciple abandons wrong-livelihood and makes a living with right-livelihood — this, monks, is right-livelihood with outflows that is connected with merit, ripening in future existences.

“And what, monks, is the path factor of right-livelihood of the supramundane path without outflows? Monks, Monks, one of noble mind without outflows who possesses the noble path, and who is developing the noble path, abhors, avoids, and abstains from wrong-livelihood — this, monks, is the supramundane path factor of right-livelihood of the path without outflows. He strives to abandon wrong-livelihood and arouse right-livelihood, which is right-effort. He mindfully abandons wrong-livelihood and abides in right-livelihood, which is right-mindfulness. These three states flow from right-livelihood and evolve from it, that is to say — right-view, right-effort, and right-mindfulness.

“Herein, monks, right-view is the forerunner. And how, monks, is right-view the forerunner? In one of right-view, monks, right-thought arises, in one of right-thought right-speech arises, in one of right-speech right-action arises, in one of right-action right-livelihood arises, in one of right-livelihood right-effort arises, in one of right-effort right-mindfulness arises, in one of right-mindfulness right concentration arises, in one of right-concentration right-knowledge arises, in one of right-knowledge right-liberation aries. Thus, monks, the trainer is endowed with eight factors and the Arahant is endowed with ten factors. (Herein, too, by right-knowledge various unwholesome states cease with the completion of mental development).

“Herein, monks, right-view is the forerunner. And how, monks, is right-view the forerunner? In one of right-view, monks, wrong-view is destroyed. Those various unwholesome states conditioned and brought into being by wrong-view are also destroyed. In one of right-thought, monks, wrong-thought is destroyed … In one of right-speech, monks, wrong-speech is destroyed … In one of right-action, monks, wrong-action is destroyed … In one of right-livelihood, wrong-livelihood is destroyed … In one of right-effort, monks, wrong-effort is destroyed … In one of right-mindfulness, monks, wrong-mindfulness is destroyed … In one of right concentration, monks, wrong-concentration is destroyed … In one of right-knowledge, monks, wrong-knowledge is destroyed … In one of right-liberation, monks, wrong-liberation is destroyed. Those various unwholesome states conditioned and brought into being by wrong-liberation are also destroyed. Various wholesome states are conditioned and brought into being by right-liberation with the completion of mental development.

“Thus, monks, there are twenty states on the wholesome side and twenty states on the unwholesome side — this exposition of the great forty set in motion cannot be turned back by any recluse, or priest, or deva, or māra, or brahma, nor by anyone in the world.

“Monks, whatever recluse or priest thinks that this exposition of the great forty should be censured or reviled there are ten legitimate reasons for his fellows in the holy-life to censure him here and now:–

  1. If he censures right-view he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-view,
  2. If he censures right-thought he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-thought,
  3. If he censures right-speech he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-speech,
  4. If he censures right-action he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-action,
  5. If he censures right-livelihood he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-livelihood,
  6. If he censures right-effort he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-effort,
  7. If he censures right-mindfulness he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-mindfulness,
  8. If he censures right-concentration he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-concentration,
  9. If he censures right-knowledge he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-knowledge,
  10. If he censures right-liberation he would honour and praise those recluses and priests of wrong-liberation.

“Monks, whatever recluse or priest thinks that this exposition of the great forty should be censured or reviled there are ten legitimate reasons for his fellows in the holy-life to censure him here and now. Monks, even those teachers of Okkalā, Vassa and Bhañña, teachers of causelessness, non-action, and nihilism would not think to censure or revile this exposition of the great forty. For what reason? For fear of blame (nindā), insult (byārosana), and reproach (upārambha).”¹⁵ (M.iii.71)

Notes:

1. One’s mother and father are very special. They bring us into this world and give us life. We have a great debt to them that is difficult to repay. Killing one’s own mother or father is a heinous crime with the inevitable result or rebirth in hell after death.

2. There are four modes of birth: 1) womb, 2) egg, 3) moisture, and 4) spontaneous arising. Beings in heaven and hell, hungry ghosts, jealous gods, and brahmā gods arise spontaneously.

3. On the eve of his Enlightenment, the Buddha developed deep states of concentration and gained the higher knowledges that could recall his own previous lives and those of others. Anyone else, with sufficient virtue and effort in developing deep concentration can acquire similar psychic powers, however none can do so to the fullest extent that the Buddhas alone can achieve. Various wrong-views refuted in the first discourse of the Dīghanikāya (the Brahmajāla Sutta) arose in recluses who developed the recollection of previous lives to a limited extent, and therefore came to the wrong conclusions, adopting and teaching their wrong-views.

4. Outflow (āsava) is a difficult term to translate. Bhikkhu Bodhi translates it as “taints,” while Ajahn Thanissaro translates it as “effluents.” The long entry in the PTS dictionary gives “that which flows out,” 1. “spirit, the intoxicating extract or secretion from a tree or flower,” 2. “discharge from a sore,”and 3. psychology a technical term for certain specified ideas which intoxicate the mind. The four outflows are: 1) Sensuality (kāmāsava), 2) Becoming (bhavāsava), 3) Views (diṭṭhāsava), and 4) Ignorance (āvijjāsava). It is clear from this discourse that even mundane right-view leads to fresh existences albeit in fortunate realms, let alone wrong-view, which leads to the lower realms.

5. Right-thoughts such as “May all beings be well and happy,” do not need to be spoken. They may be verbalised internally in the mind-door only. Wrong-thoughts, too, such as “I hope he kills himself,” can create unwholesome mental kamma without uttering a word.

6. Lying (musavāda) is not merely speaking falsehood. There must be the knowledge that it is untrue, and the intention to deceive too. In the Ambalaṭṭhikā Rāhulovāda Sutta the Buddha admonishes his son not to tell lies, saying that recluseship is of little account, overturned, and thrown away for a monk who is not ashamed of telling deliberate lies. He concludes by saying that a monk should not tell a lie even in jest. Telling a deliberate lie is an offence that needs to be confessed, or an offence of defeat if one lies about superior human attainments (uttarimanussa-dhammā). Telling a joke is a minor offence of wrong-speech (dubhāsita). For lay people, telling a lie in court is perjury for which one can go to prison, as one can for obstructing justice. Lies break the fourth precept, but white lies that avoid speaking blunt truths may not if there was no intent to deceive. Each case should be considered carefully on its merits. If in doubt, take the precept again, and try to be more skilful in the future. Telling jokes usually comes under the heading of idle-chatter. However, some lies told to prank someone are cruel, deceitful, and malicious. They do break the fourth precept, and should not be done.

7. Slander (pisuṇā vācā) is speaking falsehoods to denigrate someone, or malicious tale-bearing to divide others even if the facts are true. If it is not malicious, but spoken to warn someone about another’s bad character or untrustworthiness it is not wrong-speech.

8. Abuse (pharusā vācā) is harsh, vulgar, or sarcastic speech intended to hurt others. If it is speech that is displeasing to others, but aimed at benefit such as when the Buddha criticised wrong-doers with the words “foolish man” (mogha purisa) it is not wrong-speech. Telling those who use abusive speech to be polite may be displeasing to them, but it is not wrong-speech.

9. Idle-chatter (samphappalāpa) is telling jokes and stories of no value, merely for the sake of passing the time or entertainment. Exchanging polite and friendly greetings, “How are you today?” is not idle chatter. A lot of the so-called news that one reads these days certainly falls into this category.

10. These various modes of wrong-livelihood concern those who live on alms. See Vism.23 ff for details. (Lay Buddhists should refer to the Vaṇijja Sutta for the five kinds of livelihood to avoid — trading in weapons, living-beings, flesh, intoxicants, and poisons — and they should avoid breaking the five precepts in the course of earning a living). Scheming (kuhanā) is hypocrisy or deceit, pretending to have qualities that one lacks. For example, pretending to have few wishes in order to receive lavish offerings, or feigning graceful deportment for the sake of fame.

11. Flattery (lapanā) is praising the gift or the donor lavishly in the hope of receiving more. Fondling children, running errands, and all such ingratiating behaviour are wrong-livelihood for monks.

12. Hinting (nemittikatā) is making signs or hints to get offerings. A monk on almsround may wait outside a house or by the gate until someone invites him to accept alms. Buddhist monks do that harass people to give like beggars or street-vendors.

13. Belittling or disparaging (nippesikatā) deprecates the gift or the giver to shame them into giving more or better quality alms.

14. Pursuing gain with gain (lābhena lābhaṃ) means giving small gifts such as forest flowers or fruits out of covetousness (nijigīsanatā) to get greater gifts.

15. The commentary explains these as blame (nindā), striking, insulting (ghaṭṭana), and railing, finding fault (upavāda).