3.1 Doing Good

Doing Good and Avoiding Evil is Possible

Abandon wrong. It can be done. If it were impossible to do, I would not urge you to do so. But since it can be done, I say to you: ‘Abandon wrong. 

If abandoning wrong brought loss and sorrow, I would not urge you to do so. But since it conduces to benefit and happiness, I urge you.

‘Cultivate the good.’ It can be done. If it can be done, I say to you: ‘Cultivate the good.’

If cultivating the good brought loss and sorrow, I would not urge you to do so. But since it conduces to benefit and happiness, I urge you.

~A. I: 58


To Do Good is an Uphill Task

‘Easy to do are things that are bad and not beneficial to self. But very, very hard to do indeed is that which is beneficial and good.’

~Dh: 163


Reflect Before Acting

‘What do you think, Rahula? What is a mirror for?’

‘To reflect, Sir.’

‘In just the same way you must reflect again and again before doing every act, in speaking every word and in thinking every thought. When you want to do anything you must reflect whether it would conduce to your or other’s harm or both, and if so it is a wrong act, productive of woe and ripening unto woe. If reflection tells you this is the nature of that contemplated fact, assuredly you should not do it. But if reflection assures you there is no harm but good in it, then you may do it.’

~M. I: 415


In Praise of Virtue

‘By deeds, vision and righteousness,

By virtue, the sublimest life -

By these are mortals purified,

And not by lineage and wealth.’

~M. I: 415


Those who Sleep Little

‘Monks, these five sleep little by night they are much awake. What five? A woman longing for a man sleeps little by night, is much awake. So too a man longing for a woman; a thief longing for booty; a minister bent on official business; and a monk longing for release from the bondage of defilements sleeps little at night, is much awake.’

~A. III: 152


3.2 How to Instruct Others

Only a Purified One Can Instruct on Purity

It cannot be, Cunda, that one who is sunk in mud can pull out another who is sunk in mud. It is possible, Cunda, when one not sunk in mud will by himself pull out another who is sunk in mud. When one is not tamed, not trained, not quenched (of defilements), one cannot make another utterly quenched (of defilements).

~M. I: 45


Practicing Morality by Comparing

One may compare one’s behavior with that of others and practice good virtues. Others may be harmful; continue as to this, we will not be harmful. Others may kill living beings, we will avoid killing.

One compares following immoral practices of others and avoids doing them for oneself. Harming living beings, stealing, indulgence in sense pleasure, lying, harsh speech, rough speech, frivolous speech, covetousness, corruptness of mind, wrong view, wrong thought, wrong speech, wrong activity, wrong way of living, wrong endeavor, wrong mindfulness, wrong concentration, wrong knowledge, wrong freedom, sloth and torpor, being puffed up, doubtful, wrathful, rancorous, harsh, spiteful, envious, grudging, treacherous, deceitful, stubborn, proud, difficult to speak to, becoming friends with those who are evil, indolent, lacking in faith, shameless, reckless, of little learning, lazy, with muddled mindfulness, weak in wisdom.

One purifies one’s mind from these immoral practices and develops positive virtues comparing others people’s way of life with that of oneself.

This way of morality is not at all strict individualism. For it is said that one must be good before one tries to purify others. Consideration for the good of others is always intrinsic in this moral practice.



Other Ways to Practice Morality

‘Develop the will or mind to avoid the evil.

Take effort to avoid evil as an uneven road.

Walk along the even road of virtue.

An unskilled state of mind leads downwards,

while a skilled state of mind leads upwards;

so take the path upwards.’

~M. I: 40-46


Be Good to Yourself First

‘Let one first establish oneself in what is proper, and then instruct others. Such a wise man will not be blamed by others.’

~Dh: 158


A Man who Loves himself should Harm No Other

‘The whole wide world we traverse with our thoughts,

And nothing find a man more dear than self.

Since e’er so dear the self to others is,

Let the man who loves himself harm no other man.’

~S. I.: 75


Danger of Drunkenness

‘The householder who delights in self-control, knowing that intoxicants result in loss, should not indulge in taking intoxicants nor should he cause others to do so nor approve of them doing so.’

~SN. V.: 398

‘Fool commit evil deeds as a result of drunkenness and cause other people, who are negligent, to act accordingly; this delusion, this delight of fools.’

~IBID. V.: 399


3.3 Precepts - Sila

‘Morality’ or ‘Virtue’, is a state of mind and intention - cetana manifested in speech or bodily actions. It is the foundation of the whole Buddhist practice, the first of the three kinds of Training (sikkha) in morality, concentration and wisdom. Buddhist morality does beyond mere avoidance of evil actions. Observance of moral principles restrains intrinsic evil tendencies in a person’s mind.


Two Aspects of Precept - Sila

1/ Pakati Sila: Natural moral conduct in Humanism.

2/ Pannatti Sila: Religious disciplinary code for followers to uphold. Some of them are manners, traditions, and customs.

~VISM: 10


Abstinence and Practice - Caritta and Varitta Sila

Morality consists of Performance and Avoidance, that is, the performance of those moral rules which the Blessed One has ordained to be followed, Caritta, and the avoidance of those things that the Blessed One has rejected as not to be followed, Varitta.

~VISM: 11


Purpose of Observing Precepts - Sila

If the purpose of observing Sila is to gain more worldly material wealth and pleasure, it is inferior sila - Hina.

If the purpose is to gain salvation and to serve others, it is excellent Sila - Panita.

1/ Cula Sila: Simply observing the basic principles of good behavior.

2/ Majjhima Sila: Developing higher moral values for his own happiness.

3/ Maha Sila: Actively making an effort to uphold a noble livelihood.

~VISM: 12


Precepts of a Monk

A Bhikkhu is expected to observe four kinds of Sila or Morality:

1/ Patimokkha Sila: Fundamental Moral Code.

2/ Indriya samvara Sila: Morality concerning sense-restraint.

3/ Ajiva parisuddhi Sila: Morality concerning purity of livelihood.

4/ Paccaya sannissita Sila: Morality concerning use of the necessities of life.



3.4 Necessity of Precepts

Wisdom and Virtue are Inseparable Twins

‘Wisdom is purified by virtue, and virtue is purified by wisdom. Where one, so is the other.

The virtuous person has wisdom and the wise person has virtue. The combination of virtue and wisdom is called the highest thing in the world.’

~D. I: 84


What is Great Loss?

Five kinds of loss: Loss of relatives, wealth, health, morality, and right view.

No beings fall into an evil state, a hell-state ... after death because of loss of relatives, wealth or health; but beings do fall into such states by loss of morality and right view.

~D. III: 235


What is the Highest Gain?

Five kinds of gain: Gain of relatives, wealth, health, morality, and right view.

No beings arise in a happy, heavenly state after death because of the gain of relatives, wealth or health; but beings are reborn in such states because of gains in morality and right view.’

~D. III: 235


Advantages of Observance of Sila

There are these five advantages to one of good morality (sila) and of success in morality. What are they? 

1/ In the 1st place, through careful attention to his affairs he gains much wealth.

2/ In the 2nd place, he gets a good reputation for morality and good conduct.

3/ In the 3rd place, whatever assembly he approaches, whether of Khattiyas, Brahmins, householders or ascetics, he does so with confidence and assurance.

4/ In the 4th place, he dies unconfused.

5/ In the 5th place, after death, he arises in a happy state, a heavenly world.

These are the five advantages to one of good morality - sila and of success in morality.

~Dig: 16


Wisdom May Be Found amongst the Outshine Worldlings

‘As upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, a sweet-smelling, lovely lotus may grow, even so amongst worthless beings, a disciple of the Fully Enlightened One outshines the blind worldlings in wisdom.’

~Dh. 58-59


Part 4: THE MIND


4.1 The Forerunner of Everything

No World Without Mind

‘By mind the world is led,

By mind the world is moved.

And all good and bad things

exist in the world because of mind.’

~S. I: 39

Mind is Responsible for Everything

‘Mind foreruns (all evil) conditions. Mind is chief, mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind because of that, pain pursues him, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught ox.’

~Dh: I


4.2 The Mind is Naturally Pure

The Nature of Mind

‘The mind is naturally pure and radiant.

But external objects pollute the mind

Through the influence of senses

And mental faculties or defilements.’

~A. I: 10


Mind Runs Faster Than Anything Else

‘I consider, monks, that there is no phenomenon that comes and goes so quickly as mind. It is not easy to find a simile to show how quickly mind comes and goes.’

~A. I: 9


4.3 An Untrained Mind is Defiled

An Undeveloped Mind

‘As rain penetrates an ill-thatched house. 

So lust penetrates an undeveloped mind.’

~Dh: 13


‘Whatever (harm) a foe may do to a foe,

Or a hater to a hater, an ill-directed mind

Can do far greater harm to oneself.’

~Dh: 42


A Stained Mind Produces Evil Effects

‘Monks, as a cloth that is stained and dirty would be dyed a bad color … a bad realm of existence is to be expected when the mind is stained.’

~M. I: 36


4.4 Mental Impurities

Defilements of Mind

And what, monks, are the defilements of mind? 

‘Greed and covetousness is defilement of mind, malevolence ... anger ... malice ... hypocrisy ... spite ... envy ... stinginess ... deceit ... treachery ... obstinacy ... impetuosity ... arrogance ... pride ... conceit ... indolence are defilements of mind.’

~M. I: 36-37


Elements that Hinder Spiritual Progress

Five doubts:

1/ Doubts about the Teacher - Buddha

2/ Doubts about the Teaching - Dhamma

3/ Doubts about the Order - Sangha

4/ Doubts about the training - Sikkha

5/ Anger and displeasure with fellow practitioners

~M. I: 101-102


The five impurities are appropriately paired off with the hindrances:

1/ Sensual desire is like a bowl of water mixed with brightly colored paints

2/ Ill-will is like a bowl of boiling water

3/ Sloth and torpor is like water covered by mossy plants

4/ Restlessness and worry is like water blown into ripples by the wind, and

5/ Doubt is like muddy water.


Just as the keen-eyed man would not be able to see his reflection in these five hindrances, he does not know and see it is his own good, and good of others, or the good of both.

~SN: 121-124


How to Eliminate Mental Hindrances

In the commentaries, the Buddha’s suggestions on the elimination of the hindrances are organized into a systematic exposition of six measures conducive to the vanquishing of each hindrance.

Nivarana (Ni + var, to hinder, to obstruct) is that which hinders one’s progress or that which obstructs the path to Emancipation and heavenly states. It is also explained as that which ‘muffles, enwraps, or trammels thought.’

There are five kinds of Nivaranas or Hindrances.

1/ Sensual desires - Kamacchanda,

2/ Illwill - Vyapada,

3/ Sloth and Torpor - Thina-Middha,

4/ Restlessness and Worry - Uddhacca-Kukkucca, and

5/ Doubts - Vicikiccha.


1/ Kamacchanda means sensual desires or attachment to pleasurable sense-objects such as form, sound, odor, taste, and contact. This is regarded as one of the Fetters, that binds one to Samsara.

An average person is bound to get tempted by these alluring objects of sense. Lack of self-control results in the inevitable arising of passions.

This Hindrance is inhibited by One-pointedness - Ekaggata, which is one of the five characteristics of Jhanas. It is attenuated on attaining Sakadagami and is completely eradicated on attaining Anagami. Subtle forms of attachment such as Rupa Raga and Arupa Raga (Attachment to Realms of Form and Formless Realms) are eradicated only on attaining Arahantship.

The following six conditions tend to the eradication of sense-desires.

1/ perceiving the loathsomeness of the object,

2/ constant mediation on loathsomeness,

3/ sense-restraint,

4/ moderation in food,

5/ good friendship, and

6/ profitable talk.


2/ Vyapada is illwill or aversion. A desirable object lead to attachment, while an undesirable one leads to aversion. These are the two great fires that burn the whole world. Aided by ignorance these two produce all sufferings in the world.

Illwill is inhibited by Piti or joy which is one of the Jhana factors. It is attenuated on attaining Sakadagami and is eradicated on attaining Anagami.

The following six conditions tend to the eradication of illwill.

1/ perceiving the object with thoughts of goodwill,

2/ constant meditation on loving-kindness - Metta,

3/ thinking that Kamma is one’s own,

4/ adherence to that view,

5/ good friendship, and

6/ profitable talk.


3/ Thina or Sloth is explained as a morbid state of the mind, and Middha as a morbid state of the mental states. A stolid mind is as ‘inert as a bat hanging to a tree, or as molasses cleaving to a stick, or as a lump of butter too stiff for spreading’.

Sloth and torpor should not be understood as bodily drowsiness, because Arahants, who have destroyed these two states, also experience bodily fatigue. These two promote mental inertness and are opposed to strenuous effort - Viriya. They are inhibited by the Jhana factor - Vitakka or Initial Application, and are eradicated on attaining Arahantship.

The following six conditions tend to the eradication of Sloth and Torpor:

1/ reflection on the object of moderation in food,

2/ changing of bodily postures,

3/ contemplation on the object of light;

4/ living in the open,

5/ good friendship and

6/ profitable talk.


4/ Uddhacca is mental restlessness or excitement of the mind. It is a mental state associated with all types of immoral consciousness. As a rule an evil is done with some excitement or restlessness.

Kukkucca is worry. It is either repenting over the committed evil or over the unfulfilled good. Repentance over one’s evil does not exempt one from its inevitable consequences. The best repentance is the will not to repeat that evil.

Both these hindrance are inhibited by the Jhana factor, Sukha or happiness. Restlessness is eradicated on attaining Arahantship, and worry is eradicated on attaining Anagami.

The following six conditions tend to the eradication of these two states:

1/ erudition or learning,

2/ questioning or discussion,

3/ understanding the nature of the Vinaya discipline,

4/ association with senior monks,

5/ good friendship and

6/ profitable talk.


5/ Vicikiccha is doubt or indecision. That which is devoid of the remedy of wisdom is vicikiccha (vi = devoid; cikiccha = wisdom). It is also explained as vexation due to perplexed thinking (vici = seeking; kiccha = vexation).

Here it is not used in the sense of doubt with regard to the Buddha etc., for even non-Buddhists inhibit vicikiccha and gain Jhanas.

As a Getter vicikiccha is that doubt about Buddha etc., but as a Hindrance it denotes unsteadiness in one particular thing that is being done. The commentarial explanation of vicikiccha is the inability to decide anything definitely that it is so. In other words it is indecision.

This state is inhibited by the Jhana factor - Vicara, Sustained Application. It is eradicated on attaining Sotapatti.


The following six conditions tend to its eradication:

1/ knowledge of the Dhamma and Vinaya,

2/ discussion or questioning,

3/ understanding of the nature of the Vinaya Discipline,

4/ perfect confidence,

5/ good friendship, and

6/ profitable talk.



4.5 Trained Mind Brings Happiness and Peace

A Trained Mind Elevates

The trained mind gives one the best:

‘What neither mother, nor father,

Nor any other relative can do,

A well-trained mind does; it elevates one.’

~Dh: 43


Control Your Mind

‘If your mind runs wild among

Sensual pleasures and things that arise,

Quickly restrain it with mindfulness

As one pulls the cow from the corn

~Thag: 446


Real Peace Within

‘Real peace appears within

when mind is free

from defilements;

External objects do not provide peace.’

~Thag: 39


Where is Happiness?

‘Happiness is in the mind

Which is released from worldly bondage.

The happiness of sensual lust

and the happiness of heavenly bliss

Are not equal to a sixteenth part

of the happiness of craving’s end.’

~Ud: 11


No Suffering When Mind is Firm

‘My mind is firm like a rock,

Unattached to sensual things,

Not shaking in the midst

Of a world where all is shaking.

My mind has thus been well developed,

So how can suffering come my way?’

~Thag: 192


Mind is Swift and Should be Trained

‘The mind is hard to check, swift, flits wherever it listeth: to control it is good. A controlled mind is conducive to happiness.’

~Dh: 35


Train Mind to Win Deathlessness

‘Faring far, wandering alone, bodiless, lying in a cave (body) is mind. Those who subdue it are delivered from the bond of death.

~Dh: 37


4.6 Liberated Mind

Why Mindfulness?

‘Mindfulness, O monks, I declare,

is essential in all things everywhere.

It is as salt to curry,

Mindfulness, verily, brings great profit.’

~A. I.: 3


Development of Calm and Insight

‘Two things, monks, should be developed for the understanding of lust, hatred and delusion .... What two? Calm and insight. These two things should be developed for the abandonment, extinction and cessation of lust, hatred and delusion ....’

~A. I.: 100


Concentration is near to Nibbana

‘No concentration is there for the unwise, 

No wisdom in one who lacks concentration;

In whom there is concentration and wisdom,

He truly is in Nibbana’s neighborhood.’

~Dh.: 372


Cessation of Consciousness

‘Where consciousness is signless, boundless, all luminous, that is where earth, water, fire and air find no footing. There are both long and short, small and great, fair and foul. There ‘name and form’ are wholly destroyed. With cessation of consciousness, this is all destroyed.’ 

~DI: 223


4.7 Training the Mind

Rituals Cannot Cleanse the Mind

‘Not flesh nor fish, nor fasting, nakedness,

The shaven head, the matted hair, nor sweat,

nor rough-skin garb, nor solemn celebration

Of sacrificial fire, nor signal penance

of those who here seek immortality;

Not hymns, oblations, rites, feasts of the season

will cleanse a man with doubt not overcome.’

~SN: 249


No Magic Power to Train Mind

‘Three urgent duties are asked of a farmer. What three? The farmer gets his fields well ploughed and harrowed very quickly. Then he puts in the seed very quickly.’

Then, he irrigates it very quickly. But the farmer has no magic power or authority to say,

‘Let my crops spring up today, let them ear tomorrow and on the following day let them ripen.’ No! In due time this will happen.’

In the same way, there are these three urgent duties of a monk. What three?

‘Undertaking the training in higher virtue, higher thought and higher wisdom. But he has no such magic power or authority to say,

‘Today, tomorrow or the next day, let my mind be free from defilements.’

No! In due time this will happen as he undergoes training in these three things. Therefore, you should train yourselves like this:

‘We shall be keen to undertake the training in these three things.’

~A. I: 239F


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