At Sāpuga
Sāpuga Sutta  (AN 4:194)

On one occasion Ven. Ānanda was staying among the Koliyans, near the Koliyan town named Sāpuga. Then a large number of Koliyan-sons from Sāpuga went to him and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there Ven. Ānanda said to them, “TigerPaws,1 these four factors for exertion with regard to purity have been rightly expounded by the Blessed One who knows & sees—the Worthy One, the Rightly Self-awakened One—for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of unbinding.2 Which four? The factor for exertion with regard to purity of virtue, the factor for exertion with regard to purity of mind, the factor for exertion with regard to purity of view, and the factor for exertion with regard to purity of release.

“And what, TigerPaws, is the factor for exertion with regard to purity of virtue? There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Pāṭimokkha, consummate in his behavior & sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults. This is called purity of virtue. (The thought,) ‘I will make complete this sort of purity of virtue when it is not yet complete, or I will protect it here & there with discernment when it is complete’: Any desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness,3 & alertness there is called the factor for exertion with regard to purity of virtue.

“And what, TigerPaws, is the factor for exertion with regard to purity of mind? There is the case where a monk—quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities—enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ With the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—he enters & remains in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called purity of mind. (The thought,) ‘I will make complete this sort of purity of mind when it is not yet complete, or I will protect it here & there with discernment when it is complete’: Any desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness there is called the factor for exertion with regard to purity of mind.

“And what, TigerPaws, is the factor for exertion with regard to purity of view? There is the case where a monk discerns, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress… This the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’ This is called purity of view. (The thought,) ‘I will make complete this sort of purity of view when it is not yet complete, or I will protect it here & there with discernment when it is complete’: Any desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness there is called the factor for exertion with regard to purity of view.

“And what, TigerPaws, is the factor for exertion with regard to purity of release? That same noble disciple—endowed with this factor for exertion with regard to purity of virtue, this factor for exertion with regard to purity of mind, and this factor for exertion with regard to purity of view—makes his mind dispassionate with regard to phenomena that are conducive to passion, and liberates his mind with regard to phenomena that are conducive to liberation.4 He—having made his mind dispassionate with regard to phenomena that are conducive to passion, and having liberated his mind with regard to phenomena that are conducive to liberation—touches right release. This is called purity of release. (The thought,) ‘I will make complete this sort of purity of release when it is not yet complete, or I will protect it here & there with discernment when it is complete’: Any desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness there is called the factor for exertion with regard to purity of release.

“These, TigerPaws, are the four factors for exertion with regard to purity that have been rightly expounded by the Blessed One who knows & sees—the Worthy One, the Rightly Self-awakened One—for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of unbinding.”

Notes

1. Young Koliyans apparently went by this name. See AN 8:54.

2. See the opening passage in DN 22.

3. Note the active role that mindfulness plays in this refrain. It is not a passive or bare awareness. On this point, see the description of right mindfulness in MN 117 and of mindfulness as a governing principle in AN 4:245. See also the book, Right Mindfulness.

4. In NDB, this last phrase is translated as, “he… emancipates his mind through the things that bring emancipation.” However, the terms, “things that bring emancipation/phenomena that are conducive to liberation”—vimocanīyesu dhammesu—are in the locative case, which means “with regard to” rather than “through.” Thus the phrase is saying, not that the monk liberates the mind by means of those phenomena, but that he liberates the mind from those phenomena. In other words, he frees himself not only from attachment to phenomena that lead to passion, but also from attachment to phenomena—such as virtue, concentration, and discernment—that lead to release. This underlines the point that purity of virtue, mind, and view—as factors of the path—are one thing, whereas release is something else. See the simile of the raft in MN 22.

See also: DN 16; MN 24; AN 10:51; AN 10:93; Sn 4:9