chapter seven

Right Effort

Right effort is the first of the three concentration factors in the path, and is actually contained in the other two. In right mindfulness, it functions as the sub-factor of ardency; right mindfulness, in turn, acts as the theme of right concentration. In this way, right effort is the nucleus around which the other two factors grow.

We have already noted in the preceding chapter why right effort grows out of right livelihood: The reflection on the drawbacks of feeding, which plays a part in right livelihood and is meant to induce contentment, also induces a sense of saṁvega, an emotion that spurs the mind to aim at gaining total release from the feeding cycle inherent in saṁsāra, the wandering-on through birth and death. However, the relationship between right effort and all the preceding path-factors is more complex than that. MN 117 (§48) notes that right effort—informed with right view and right mindfulness—actually circles around all the factors of the path as it tries to abandon each of the wrong path-factors and develop the right path-factors in their place. And as the analogy in AN 7:63 shows, the soldiers of right effort and the gatekeeper of right mindfulness need the food of right concentration in order to protect the fortress of the practice (§219; §240). In these ways, right effort is in a reciprocal relationship with every other factor of the path.

A distinctive feature of all of the path’s concentration factors is that they’re defined, not with simple lists of terms, but with more complex formulae. In fact, when the standard definitions for the path-factors are written down, more than half the space is filled with the formulae for the concentration factors. This gives some idea of the complexity of the issues involved in practicing concentration in a way that leads to the goal.

For right effort, the formula is this:

“There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful dhammas that have not yet arisen… for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful dhammas that have arisen… for the sake of the arising of skillful dhammas that have not yet arisen… [and] for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful dhammas that have arisen.” — SN 45:8

This formula has three explicit dimensions, and one implicit. The explicit dimensions are these:

• The formula is focused on the distinction between skillful and unskillful dhammas. The term dhamma has a wide range of meanings in the Canon, but here—and in right mindfulness and right concentration—the meanings most relevant include mental quality, act (as in an act of the body, speech, or mind), and phenomenon (around which skillful or unskillful mental qualities might form).

• The formula lists the mental factors needed to motivate and maintain right effort around skillful and unskillful dhammas: desire, endeavor, persistence, and intent.

• It lists four types of right effort, two each for skillful and for unskillful dhammas, depending on whether those dhammas have yet to arise or have already arisen.

The implicit dimension, which surfaces in other passages in the suttas, deals with the issue of balance: how to find the middle point between excessive and deficient effort, so that the amount of right effort is just right.

The close connection between right effort and right concentration is shown in the fact that three of the motivating and maintaining sub-factors—desire, persistence, and intent—are also three of the bases of power (iddhipāda) that underlie the practice of concentration (§SN 51:20). Although the fourth base of power—the discernment factor of discrimination—is not listed in the formula for right effort, it is implicitly there in the fact that each of the four dimensions of right effort receives guidance from the discernment factors of the path: right view and right resolve. In fact, discernment plays such an important role in informing these dimensions that, to understand right effort and put it into practice, you need to know the type of guidance that discernment gives in each case.

Skillful vs. unskillful actions. This is the dimension where right view gives the simplest and most direct guidance to right effort. In distinguishing skillful from unskillful actions—both on the mundane and the transcendent levels—right view keeps right effort focused on the task at hand.

Motivation. Right effort is a matter not only of exerting yourself in the proper way, but also of making yourself want to do so. As right view points out, desire is the root of all phenomena (§9), a fact that is true not only for suffering but also for the path to the end of suffering. Without desire, the path cannot grow. Although there are several suttas stating that, if you bring the beginning steps of the practice to maturity, there is no need to formulate a wish that the ensuing steps will develop (§§202–203), you still need to motivate yourself to undertake the beginning steps and stick with them until they start showing results. It’s like growing a tree: If you water it, there’s no need to wish for it to grow, but you need desire to keep watering it. This is why the motivating and maintaining factors, such as persistence and intent, start with the generation of desire.

Right view aids in fostering the right sort of desire by pointing out the consequences of skillful and unskillful actions. Right resolve, as it aims at non-affliction, then builds on this knowledge to give rise to a sense of heedfulness: the strong sense of the dangers of acting in unskillful ways, and the sense that those dangers can be avoided by acting in skillful ways instead. Just as heedfulness is the root of all skillful dhammas (§205), the desire to act on a sense of heedfulness is the root desire of right effort. Instead of leading to suffering, as most other desires do, it leads to its cessation (§12).

As the Buddha notes, all skillful states are rooted in heedfulness. This fact is reflected in the contemplation, discussed in Chapter 3, for comparing the allure of a course of action with its drawbacks. When you realize that the drawbacks outweigh the allure, the proper response is heedfulness: You want to avoid those drawbacks. The texts give specific examples of how to use this sense of heedfulness, both directly and indirectly, to motivate yourself to engage in right effort.

The direct examples, such as the reflections that §§207–208 recommend for the monk living in the wilderness, focus on the dangers that are ever-present but can be avoided by doing the practice and reaching the goal. Mindfulness of death (§209) is a particularly vivid way to induce heedfulness, but there are also cases where heedfulness can be induced by subtler means. AN 9:41 (§162), for example, shows how reflections on the subtle drawbacks of the lower levels of jhāna can be used to motivate you to try for the higher levels.

The more indirect passages recommend a variety of other emotions and attitudes that, growing out of heedfulness, can be used as means for generating desire to engage in right effort.

Humor: AN 8:80 (§212) uses humor as a way of making the lazy monk look ridiculous: The very conditions that he uses to excuse his laziness are precisely those that a wise monk reflects on skillfully to induce energy.

Goodwill: SN 55:7 and Ud 5:1 (§§213–214) use the principle of enlightened self-interest to induce goodwill and compassion: It would be neither right nor wise to base your happiness on the suffering of others. This reflection is then used to encourage right effort in your search for happiness. Enlightened self-interest—and compassion for yourself—are also used in the example in AN 3:40 (§217) where you take the self as your governing principle: In other words, you originally took on the path for the sake of ending your suffering, so you would not be showing compassion to yourself if you abandoned it.

MN 39 (§215) also uses goodwill as a means for motivating right effort: If you reach the noble attainments, the requisites with which others provide you will bring them great reward.

Shame: Several passages use a healthy sense of shame—the shame that accompanies a wise sense of honor—as a way of motivating right effort. MN 39 notes that if you claim to be a contemplative, you should live up to the standards that would make you a genuine contemplative, i.e., one of the Buddha’s noble disciples. As we noted in Chapter 2, AN 10:48 (§216) deals with a custom common at the time of the Buddha: When a monk was on his deathbed, his fellow monks would ask him if he had gained any particular attainment and, if he had, they would advise him to focus his mind on that attainment. This passage uses this custom as a way of inducing shame: As a point of honor, you will want to be able to say, Yes, you do have a noble attainment, so that you won’t be abashed as death approaches. AN 3:40 induces a sense of shame in reminding you that there are those who can read minds, and you would be embarrassed for them to see unskillful states in yours. Sn 4:7 (§220) also induces a sense of shame, noting the ways in which people will criticize a person who undertook the holy life but then later abandoned it.

And as we have already noted in Chapter 2, the Buddha used a sense of shame to induce his son, Rāhula, to train himself in skillful dhammas (§45).

However, because a sense of shame—if it turns into debilitating remorse over past misdeeds—can actually get in the way of right effort, the Buddha is careful to point out that if you have given in to unskillful mind-states in the past, the honorable course of action is to recognize your mistakes and to resolve not to repeat them, reminding yourself that in putting such mistakes behind you, you actually brighten the world (§69; §§210–211).

Craving & conceit: Ven. Ānanda, in §221 notes that even though craving and conceit should ultimately be abandoned, right effort needs to be motivated by healthy forms of craving and conceit—craving in the sense that you want to attain the goal; conceit in the sense that you tell yourself: If others can do this practice, why can’t I? These motivating emotions are in line with Ven. Ānanda’s remarks in §12, that desire is a necessary part of the path even though desire will be abandoned when the path reaches its goal.

Pride & honor: Closely related to the healthy sense of conceit is the pride that a craftsman takes in mastering his skill. The similes of the archers in §225 and §312 use this sense of pride as motivation to master the skills of the path. Similarly, the similes of the warriors in §§223–224 take the warrior’s sense of honor in not giving in to fear and apply it to the monk’s sense of honor in not giving in to defilement. And as we noted in Chapter 2, §45 uses the simile of the elephant guarding its trunk as an example of how not to be servile to others: Guard your truthfulness in all occasions.

In a similar vein, §196 builds on the desire to live up to the traditions of the noble ones as a motivating factor for developing contentment, and for finding delight in abandoning unskillful dhammas and developing skillful ones. However, it also notes that the pride of following these traditions should not become a pretext for exalting yourself over others who don’t.

AN 7:60 (§226) uses a somewhat different sense of pride and honor as motivation for not acting on anger: If you acted on anger, you would damage yourself in ways that your enemy would find pleasing. In this way, you curb your anger almost out of spite: the desire not to give your enemy the satisfaction of seeing you do something stupid. This example shows the tactical aspect of skillful motivation: Even though a spiteful sense of honor and pride is not the noblest motivation for engaging in right effort, if it’s needed and it works, you use it.

Inspiration: Finally, several passages of a more uplifting sort use a sense of inspiration in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha as motivation to engage in right effort: Here is your chance to practice a well-taught Dhamma (§217); in times of hardship, you now have the chance to emulate the shining examples of the Buddha himself and the great monks and nuns of the past (§115; §222). Let their example inspire you to greater efforts.

Types of effort. The formula for right effort lists four types of effort, which §229 translates into four exertions: the exertion to guard (unarisen unskillful dhammas), the exertion to abandon (arisen unskillful dhammas), the exertion to develop (unarisen skillful dhammas), and the exertion to maintain (arisen skillful dhammas). However, in the standard formula defining right effort, this last type of effort goes beyond simply maintaining a skillful dhamma. It also includes developing it further until it reaches a point of culmination.

These four types of effort derive from the duties of right view both on the mundane and the transcendent levels. The duty to abandon (1) unskillful dhammas on the mundane level and (2) the origination of suffering on the transcendent level here grows into the effort not only to abandon these things, but also to prevent their future arising. Similarly, the duty to develop (1) skillful dhammas on the mundane level and (2) the path to the cessation of suffering on the transcendent level here grows into the effort not only to develop these things but also to maintain them and bring them to the culmination of their development.

Discernment informs these four types of effort by pointing out when they are appropriate and why. The “when” is obvious from the standard formula for right effort: You apply the right type of effort in a timely way, depending on which kinds of dhammas have or have not arisen in your actions. The “why” comes from an understanding of the habits of the mind. Neither innately good nor innately bad, but capable of both good and bad—and very quick to change from one to the other (§227)—the mind has to be trained with a vigilant eye. To prevent it from falling easily into unskillful actions, you have to be on your guard to think strategically about how to avoid things that will incite it in the wrong direction. If skillful states have yet to arise, or are still very weak, you have to make whatever effort you can not to let the moment go to waste.

Of the four types of effort, the first—preventing unskillful dhammas from arising—tends to receive the least attention, perhaps because of the misunderstanding that meditation is simply a matter of staying focused on what’s happening in the present moment. However, as the heedfulness reflections under the heading of “motivation” make clear, it’s because of future dangers that you focus on the present to begin with—not simply to be aware of what’s going on, but to do your duty in line with the four noble truths while you have the chance to do it, and to train the mind for the sake of its future growth. Part of your duty in the present is to plant the seeds for future growth on the path and to develop the skillful dhammas that will prevent unskillful dhammas from arising in the future.

MN 2 (§229) expands on these four types of effort, dividing them into seven: Under guarding are restraining (the senses), using (the requisites while reflecting on their proper use), and avoiding (obvious dangers). Under abandoning are destroying (wrong resolves and other unskillful states) and seeing (which types of questions are not worth attending to). Under developing are seeing (which types of questions are worth attending to) and developing (the seven factors for awakening). And under maintaining is tolerating (painful feelings and hurtful words). The fact that “seeing” comes under both abandoning and developing illustrates an important principle underlying the four types of effort: They are not radically distinct. To prevent unskillful dhammas from arising, and to abandon those that have arisen, you have to develop and maintain skillful dhammas. The differences among the types of effort are simply a matter of emphasis. They are all aimed in the same direction: developing all the right factors of the path.

The amount of effort. As §§230–231 point out, right effort has to be just right in order to yield the desired results. Excessive effort exhausts itself quickly; deficient effort accomplishes very little. The question is, how to determine how much effort is just right?

The suttas answer this question in two ways: in terms of your own level of energy, and in terms of the task at hand.

In terms of your own level of energy, you have to test to see how much you are capable of, and then tune the rest of your practice to your capabilities. AN 6:55 (§231) illustrates this point with the simile of the lute: Apparently, the lute in the Buddha’s time had five strings, so he compared a well-tuned lute to the practice of the five faculties of conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. Just as you tune a lute by getting one string just right and then tuning the other strings to the first string, in the same way, once you have determined the level of your persistence/energy, you tune the rest of your practice to that. For example, on days when your energy is low, you place lower demands on your conviction as to what you can accomplish in terms of mindfulness, concentration, and discernment at that time. When your energy improves, you put more effort into heightening your conviction along with all the other faculties of the mind.

In terms of the task at hand, MN 101 (§232) points out that the causes of suffering come in two sorts: those that go away if you simply look at them with equanimity, and those that require the exertion of fabrication—which, other suttas show, means making a concerted effort in employing any of the three types of fabrication: bodily, verbal, and mental. Here the amount of effort you need to put into skillful fabrication will vary widely with the problem. Sometimes the effort should be gentle; at other times, as §§237–238 make clear, your determination not to be defeated by the defilements has to be extreme.

As for general guidance in how to apply the three types of fabrication in dealing with a cause of stress, §116 outlines the basic vipassanā approach: Learn to label the problematic state of mind for what it is, then look for its origination, its cessation, the path to its cessation, its allure, its drawbacks, and the escape, through dispassion, from it.

Other suttas provide specific advice on how to implement this approach. In some cases, this guidance comes in the form of recommendations as to which skillful mind-states are useful antidotes for specific unskillful states. For example, to overcome hatred, §155 recommends developing goodwill, compassion, or equanimity toward that person; to pay no attention to that person, or to reflect on the fact that that person is the owner of his/her own kamma. Other suttas, such as §115, recommend specific ways of talking to yourself—i.e., verbal fabrications—to overcome distress. And other suttas provide analogies that can be used as skillful perceptions—i.e., mental fabrications—to counteract unskillful mind-states. Examples include the perceptions of goodwill as vast as the earth in §157, or as an attitude to be guarded with your life as a mother would protect her only child in §156.

There are also passages showing that “bodily fabrication” in this context carries not only its meditative meaning, as the in-and-out breath, but also its more general meaning as any bodily action. For example, if fear or terror arise when the body is in a specific posture, §233 recommends maintaining that posture until the fear and terror have subsided. Thag 16:7 (§234) lists 13 ascetic practices that can be adopted to help weaken the mind’s defilements.

There are also passages showing how the various types of fabrication can be combined to counteract specific defilements. Three passages can give an idea of what this might entail.

• The first passage is the discussion of the 16 steps of breath meditation in §257, which shows how verbal fabrication can be used to direct the mind to breathe in various ways, and how breathing—bodily fabrication—can be used to induce skillful states of mind that release the mind from particular defilements.

• The second passage is §235, which recommends five approaches for using the three types of fabrication to rescue the mind from unskillful thoughts. Most prominently, it illustrates each approach with a perception—a mental fabrication—to help keep the approach in mind and to give guidance in how to use it. The first three approaches—replacing the unskillful thought with a skillful one, examining the drawbacks of the unskillful thought, and turning attention away from the unskillful thought while allowing it to run out on its own—also involve verbal fabrication. The fourth approach—relaxing the fabrication of the thought—involves bodily fabrication, in that the breath has to be calmed and relaxed in order to do it. The fifth approach—suppressing the thought while pressing your tongue against the roof of the mouth—employs both bodily and verbal fabrication in order to bring the thought down.

• Finally, there is the questionnaire discussed in Chapter 3 (§123), in which the Buddha applies the three perceptions to the five aggregates as a way of inducing dispassion for them. The three perceptions themselves are examples of mental fabrications. The series of questions and answers that apply them to the five aggregates are examples of verbal fabrication aimed at helping the mind come to the conclusion that the aggregates in question are not worth clinging to. If these fabrications succeed in inducing dispassion for those aggregates, they open the way to an escape from them.

Wrong effort is nowhere defined in the suttas. Apparently, however, any effort that opposes the explicit dimensions of right effort—generating desire to give rise to unskillful dhammas or to maintain and develop them; or to prevent skillful dhammas from arising or to push any existing skillful dhammas aside—would count as wrong effort.

Lessons for discernment. Like the other factors of the path, right effort has a reciprocal relationship with the discernment factors of right view and right resolve. Just as it depends on these factors for general guidance in all four of its dimensions, it in turn exercises discernment and enriches the general strategic approach of discernment with specific tactical experience in applying that approach.

Two of the dimensions of right effort stand out in this regard. The first deals with the question of motivation: As we noted above, the act of generating desire to engage in the four types of right effort can sometimes involve using counterintuitive methods, employing pride, craving, conceit, and even spite whenever necessary to accomplish its aims. In this way, it teaches right view not to be simplistic, and gives it greater psychological nuance and depth.

Also, as §204 points out, your ability to talk yourself into doing skillful things that you don’t like to do, and to talk yourself out of doing unskillful things that you like to do, is a measure of your wisdom. This is a type of wisdom that can be gained only through experience in trying to withstand unskillful habits. Although it’s true that the defilements of the mind can ultimately be overcome only through understanding, there is no way of understanding them well enough if you haven’t struggled with them. It’s like dealing with an enemy: You don’t really know him well until you’ve fought with him and come out victorious.

The same principle—that discernment has to learn from your efforts—also applies to the other dimension of right effort: the act of determining how much effort is just right. While §232 notes that the causes of suffering and stress fall into two categories—those that will go away when you simply look at them, and those that won’t go away until you exert a fabrication against them—it doesn’t give any guidelines for knowing in advance which particular mental state falls into which category. Nor does it tell how much exertion is needed in any particular case. For that kind of specific knowledge, you have to learn from your own efforts. As you gain this sort of tactical discernment that goes beyond “right” to “just right,” detecting the middle way, you raise right view and right resolve to higher and higher levels as you cut away progressively more and more refined levels of ignorance in the mind.

Beyond transcendent right effort. SN 1:1 (§239) describes a level of right effort that occurs on the verge of awakening, after right effort on the transcendent level has completed its duties in line with the four noble truths. In the Buddha’s image, this level of right effort—which corresponds to the final level of right view—involves crossing the flood of becoming and ignorance by neither pushing forward nor staying in place. The Buddha doesn’t explain this paradoxical image—it was apparently intended to subdue the pride of the deva who asked him how he crossed the flood—but we can gain a sense of what he’s talking about by referring to other passages in the texts.

As we noted in Chapter 3, each process of becoming, both on the small scale and on the large, coalesces around a nucleus of desire: the act of craving that relishes “now here, now there.” In fact, this act of craving is what creates the “here” and “there” both for the world of becoming and for your identity within it. Even on the transcendent level of right view, which carries the duty of developing the path, a sense of location is necessary for centering the mind and developing all the other skillful qualities of the path, so on that level of right view there is a need for a “here” and a “there”: There are times when you want the mind to stay here in concentration, and not go there into distractions; there are other times when you want it to go from this state here to that better state there.

But when the path has been fully developed, and right view attains its final level, there is no longer any need for that sense of location. With the final level of right view, the final duty of right effort is to abandon all phenomena, even the sense of “here” and “there” within the mind. With no here and there, there is no need to choose between staying in place here and pushing forward to there. When even these basic orientations in the world can be abandoned, the mind is freed from worlds entirely. As §373 states, in the dimension of nibbāna there is neither coming nor going, and that’s because, as §374 adds, that dimension has neither a here nor a there nor a between-the-two from which you could come or to which you could go. In this way, the last moment of right effort foreshadows the dimension to which it leads.

Readings

Desire Focused on Causes

§ 202. “For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May freedom from remorse arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue.

“For a person free from remorse, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May joy arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that joy arises in a person free from remorse.

“For a joyful person, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May rapture arise in me.’ It is in the nature of things that rapture arises in a joyful person.

“For a rapturous person, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May my body be calm.’ It is in the nature of things that a rapturous person grows calm in body.

“For a person calm in body, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May I experience pleasure.’ It is in the nature of things that a person calm in body experiences pleasure.

“For a person experiencing pleasure, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May my mind grow concentrated.’ It is in the nature of things that the mind of a person experiencing pleasure grows concentrated.

“For a person whose mind is concentrated, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May I know & see things as they have come to be.’ It is in the nature of things that a person whose mind is concentrated knows & sees things as they have come to be.

“For a person who knows & sees things as they have come to be, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May I feel disenchantment.’ It is in the nature of things that a person who knows & sees things as they actually are feels disenchantment.

“For a person who feels disenchantment, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May I grow dispassionate.’ It is in the nature of things that a person who feels disenchantment grows dispassionate.

“For a dispassionate person, there is no need for an act of will, ‘May I realize the knowledge & vision of release.’ It is in the nature of things that a dispassionate person realizes the knowledge & vision of release.” — AN 11:2

§ 203. “Suppose a hen has eight, ten, or twelve eggs: If she doesn’t cover them rightly, warm them rightly, or incubate them rightly, then even though this wish may occur to her—‘O that my chicks might break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely!’—still it is not possible that the chicks will break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely. Why is that? Because the hen has not covered them rightly, warmed them rightly, or incubated them rightly. In the same way, even though this wish may occur to a monk who dwells without devoting himself to development—‘O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!’—still his mind is not released from effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From lack of developing, it should be said. Lack of developing what? The four establishings of mindfulness, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for awakening, the noble eightfold path.…

“But suppose a hen has eight, ten, or twelve eggs that she covers rightly, warms rightly, & incubates rightly: Even though this wish may not occur to her—‘O that my chicks might break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely!’—still it is possible that the chicks will break through the egg shells with their spiked claws or beaks and hatch out safely. Why is that? Because the hen has covered them, warmed them, & incubated them rightly. In the same way, even though this wish may not occur to a monk who dwells devoting himself to development—‘O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!’—still his mind is released from effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From developing, it should be said. Developing what? The four establishings of mindfulness, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for awakening, the noble eightfold path.” — AN 7:68 [See also §18.]

Generating Desire

§ 204. “As for the course of action that is unpleasant to do but that, when done, leads to what is profitable, it’s in light of this course of action that one may be known—in terms of manly stamina, manly persistence, manly effort—as a fool or a wise person. For a fool doesn’t reflect, ‘Even though this course of action is unpleasant to do, still when done it leads to what is profitable.’ So he doesn’t do it, and thus the non-doing of that course of action leads to what is unprofitable for him. But a wise person reflects, ‘Even though this course of action is unpleasant to do, still when done it leads to what is profitable.’ So he does it, and thus the doing of that course of action leads to what is profitable for him.

“As for the course of action that is pleasant to do but that, when done, leads to what is unprofitable, it’s in light of this course of action that one may be known—in terms of manly stamina, manly persistence, manly effort—as a fool or a wise person. For a fool doesn’t reflect, ‘Even though this course of action is pleasant to do, still when done it leads to what is unprofitable.’ So he does it, and thus the doing of that course of action leads to what is unprofitable for him. But a wise person reflects, ‘Even though this course of action is pleasant to do, still when done it leads to what is unprofitable.’ So he doesn’t do it, and thus the non-doing of that course of action leads to what is profitable for him.” — AN 4:115

§ 205. “Just as the rafters in a peak-roofed house all go to the roof-peak, incline to the roof-peak, converge at the roof-peak, and the roof-peak is reckoned the foremost among them; in the same way, all skillful qualities are rooted in heedfulness, converge in heedfulness, and heedfulness is reckoned the foremost among them.” — AN 10:15

§ 206. “And what is heedfulness? There is the case where a monk guards his mind with regard to effluents and qualities accompanied by effluents. When his mind is guarded with regard to effluents and qualities accompanied by effluents, the faculty of conviction goes to the culmination of its development. The faculty of persistence… mindfulness… concentration… discernment goes to the culmination of its development.” — SN 58:56

§ 207. “There is the case where a monk living in the wilderness reminds himself of this: ‘I am now living alone in the wilderness. While I am living alone in the wilderness a snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. So let me arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’…

“And further, the monk living in the wilderness reminds himself of this: ‘I am now living alone in the wilderness. While I am living alone in the wilderness, stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces [in the body] might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. So let me arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’…

“And further, the monk living in the wilderness reminds himself of this: ‘I am now living alone in the wilderness. While I am living alone in the wilderness, I might meet up with vicious beasts: a lion or tiger or leopard or bear or hyena. They might take my life. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. So let me arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’…

“And further, the monk living in the wilderness reminds himself of this: ‘I am now living alone in the wilderness. While I am living alone in the wilderness, I might meet up with youths on their way to committing a crime or on their way back. They might take my life. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. So let me arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’…

“And further, the monk living in the wilderness reminds himself of this: ‘I am now living alone in the wilderness. And in the wilderness are vicious non-human beings [spirits]. They might take my life. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. So let me arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.’…

“These are the five future dangers that are just enough, when considered, for a monk living in the wilderness—heedful, ardent, & resolute—to live for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.” — AN 5:77

§ 208. “There is the case where a monk reminds himself of this: ‘At present I am young, black-haired, endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life. The time will come, though, when aging touches this body. When one is overcome with old age & decay, it’s not easy to pay attention to the Buddha’s teachings. It’s not easy to reside in isolated forest or wilderness dwellings. Before this unwelcome, disagreeable, displeasing thing happens, let me first arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized, so that—endowed with that Dhamma—I will live in peace even when old.’…

“And further, the monk reminds himself of this: ‘At present I am free from illness & discomfort, endowed with good digestion: not too cold, not too hot, of medium strength & tolerance. The time will come, though, when illness touches this body. When one is overcome with illness, it’s not easy to pay attention to the Buddha’s teachings. It’s not easy to reside in isolated forest or wilderness dwellings. Before this unwelcome, disagreeable, displeasing thing happens, let me first arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized, so that—endowed with that Dhamma—I will live in peace even when ill.’…

“And further, the monk reminds himself of this: ‘At present food is plentiful, alms are easy to come by. It is easy to maintain oneself by gleanings & patronage. The time will come, though, when there is famine: Food is scarce, alms are hard to come by, and it’s not easy to maintain oneself by gleanings & patronage. When there is famine, people will congregate where food is plentiful. There they will live packed & crowded together. When one is living packed & crowded together, it’s not easy to pay attention to the Buddha’s teachings. It’s not easy to reside in isolated forest or wilderness dwellings. Before this unwelcome, disagreeable, displeasing thing happens, let me first arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized, so that—endowed with that Dhamma—I will live in peace even when there is famine.’…

“And further, the monk reminds himself of this: ‘At present people are in harmony, on friendly terms, without quarreling, like milk mixed with water, viewing one another with eyes of affection. The time will come, though, when there is danger & an invasion of savage tribes. Taking power, they will surround the countryside. When there is danger, people will congregate where it is safe. There they will live packed & crowded together. When one is living packed & crowded together, it’s not easy to pay attention to the Buddha’s teachings. It’s not easy to reside in isolated forest or wilderness dwellings. Before this unwelcome, disagreeable, displeasing thing happens, let me first arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized, so that—endowed with that Dhamma—I will live in peace even when there is danger.’…

“And further, the monk reminds himself of this: ‘At present the Saṅgha—in harmony, on friendly terms, without quarreling—lives in comfort with a single recitation. The time will come, though, when the Saṅgha splits. When the Saṅgha is split, it’s not easy to pay attention to the Buddha’s teachings. It’s not easy to reside in isolated forest or wilderness dwellings. Before this unwelcome, disagreeable, displeasing thing happens, let me first arouse persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized, so that—endowed with that Dhamma—I will live in peace even when the Saṅgha is split.’…

“These are the five future dangers that are just enough, when considered, for a monk—heedful, ardent, & resolute—to live for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized.” — AN 5:78

§ 209. “Monks, mindfulness of death—when developed & pursued—is of great fruit & great benefit. It gains a footing in the deathless, has the deathless as its final end. And how is mindfulness of death developed & pursued so that it is of great fruit & great benefit, gains a footing in the deathless, and has the deathless as its final end?

“There is the case where a monk, as day departs and night returns, reflects: ‘Many are the [possible] causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces [in the body] might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.’ Then the monk should investigate: ‘Are there any evil, unskillful dhammas unabandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die in the night?’

“If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful dhammas unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful dhammas. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful dhammas.

“But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful dhammas unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die in the night, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy & rapture, training himself day & night in skillful dhammas.

“And further, there is the case where a monk, as night departs and day returns, reflects: ’Many are the [possible] causes of my death. A snake might bite me, a scorpion might sting me, a centipede might bite me. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me. Stumbling, I might fall; my food, digested, might trouble me; my bile might be provoked, my phlegm… piercing wind forces [in the body] might be provoked. That would be how my death would come about. That would be an obstruction for me.’ Then the monk should investigate: ‘Are there any evil, unskillful dhammas unabandoned by me that would be an obstruction for me were I to die during the day?’

“If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful dhammas unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful dhammas. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, relentlessness, mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful dhammas.

“But if, on reflecting, he realizes that there are no evil, unskillful dhammas unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then for that very reason he should dwell in joy & rapture, training himself day & night in skillful dhammas.

“This, monks, is how mindfulness of death is developed & pursued so that it is of great fruit & great benefit, gains a footing in the deathless, and has the deathless as its final end.” — AN 6:20

§ 210. Who once was heedless,

but later is not,

brightens the world

like the moon set free from a cloud.

His evil-done deed

is replaced with skillfulness:

he brightens the world

like the moon set free from a cloud. — Dhp 172–173

§ 211. “It is a cause of growth in the Dhamma & Vinaya of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future.” — DN 2

§ 212. “Monks, there are these eight grounds for laziness. Which eight?

“There is the case where a monk has some work to do. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to do this work. But when I have done this work, my body will be tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the first ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk has done some work. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have done some work. Now that I have done work, my body is tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the second ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk has to go on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to go on this journey. But when I have gone on the journey, my body will be tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the third ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk has gone on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have gone on a journey. Now that I have gone on a journey, my body is tired. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, does not get as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have not gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is tired & unsuitable for work. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fifth ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, gets as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is heavy & unsuitable for work—stuffed with beans, as it were. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the sixth ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk comes down with a slight illness. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have come down with a slight illness. There’s a need to lie down.’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the seventh ground for laziness.

“Then there is the case where a monk has recovered from his illness, not long after his recovery. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have recovered from my illness. It’s not long after my recovery. This body of mine is weak & unsuitable for work. Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. He doesn’t make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the eighth ground for laziness.

“These are the eight grounds for laziness.

“There are these eight grounds for the arousal of energy. Which eight?

“There is the case where a monk has some work to do. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to do this work. But when I am doing this work, it will not be easy to attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the first ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk has done some work. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have done some work. While I was doing work, I couldn’t attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the second ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk has to go on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I will have to go on this journey. But when I am going on the journey, it will not be easy to attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the third ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk has gone on a journey. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have gone on a journey. While I was going on the journey, I couldn’t attend to the Buddha’s message. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fourth ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, does not get as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have not gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is light & suitable for work. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the fifth ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk, having gone for alms in a village or town, gets as much coarse or refined food as he would like for his fill. The thought occurs to him: ‘I, having gone for alms in a village or town, have gotten as much coarse or refined food as I would like for my fill. This body of mine is light & suitable for work. Why don’t I make an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the sixth ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk comes down with a slight illness. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have come down with a slight illness. Now, there’s the possibility that it could get worse. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the seventh ground for the arousal of energy.

“Then there is the case where a monk has recovered from his illness, not long after his recovery. The thought occurs to him: ‘I have recovered from my illness. It’s not long after my recovery. Now, there’s the possibility that the illness could come back. Why don’t I make an effort beforehand for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized?’ So he makes an effort for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. This is the eighth ground for the arousal of energy.

“These are the eight grounds for the arousal of energy.” — AN 8:95

§ 213. “There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones reflects thus: ‘I love life and don’t love death. I love happiness and abhor pain. If I—loving life and not loving death, loving happiness and abhorring pain—were to be killed, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me. And if I were to kill another who loves life and doesn’t love death, who loves happiness and abhors pain, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to the other. What is displeasing & disagreeable to me is displeasing & disagreeable to others. How can I inflict on others what is displeasing & disagreeable to me?’ Reflecting in this way, he refrains from taking life, gets others to refrain from taking life, and speaks in praise of refraining from taking life. In this way his bodily behavior is pure in three ways.

“And further, he reflects thus: ‘If someone, by way of theft, were to take from me what I haven’t given, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me.… If someone were to commit adultery with my wives, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me.… If someone were to damage my well-being with a lie, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me.… If someone were to divide me from my friends with divisive speech, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me.… If someone were to address me with harsh speech, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me.… If someone were to address me with idle chatter, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to me. And if I were to address another with idle chatter, that would be displeasing & disagreeable to the other. What is displeasing & disagreeable to me is displeasing & disagreeable to others. How can I inflict on others what is displeasing & disagreeable to me?’ Reflecting in this way, he refrains from idle chatter, gets others to refrain from idle chatter, and speaks in praise of refraining from idle chatter.” — SN 55:7

§ 214. on that occasion King Pasenadi Kosala had gone with Queen Mallikā to the upper palace. Then he said to her, “Mallikā, is there anyone dearer to you than yourself?”

“No, great king. There is no one dearer to me than myself. And what about you, great king? Is there anyone dearer to you than yourself?”

“No, Mallikā. There is no one dearer to me than myself.”

Then the king, descending from the palace, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Just now, lord, when I had gone with Queen Mallikā to the upper palace, I said to her, ‘Mallikā, is there anyone dearer to you than yourself?’

“When this was said, she said to me, ‘No, great king. There is no one dearer to me than myself. And what about you, great king? Is there anyone dearer to you than yourself?’

“When this was said, I said to her, ‘No, Mallikā. There is no one dearer to me than myself.’”

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Searching all directions

with your awareness,

you find no one dearer

than yourself.

In the same way, others

are thickly dear to themselves.

So you shouldn’t hurt others

if you love yourself. — Ud 5:1

§ 215. The Blessed One said, “‘Contemplatives, contemplatives’: That is how people perceive you. And when asked, ‘What are you?’ you claim that ‘We are contemplatives.’ So, with this being your designation and this your claim, this is how you should train yourselves: ‘We will undertake & practice those dhammas that make one a contemplative, that make one a brahman, so that our designation will be true and our claim accurate; so that the services of those whose robes, almsfood, lodging, and medicinal requisites we use will bring them great fruit & great reward; and so that our going forth will not be barren, but fruitful & fertile.’” — MN 39

§ 216. “‘Can my observant fellows in the holy life, on close examination, fault me with regard to my virtue?’: A person gone-forth should often reflect on this.

“‘What am I becoming as the days & nights fly past?’: A person gone-forth should often reflect on this.…

“‘Have I attained a superior human attainment, a truly noble distinction of knowledge & vision, such that—when my companions in the holy life question me in the last days of my life—I won’t feel abashed?’: A person gone-forth should often reflect on this.” — AN 10:48

§ 217. “There are these three governing principles. Which three? The self as a governing principle, the cosmos as a governing principle, and the Dhamma as a governing principle.

“And what is the self as a governing principle? There is the case where a monk, having gone to a wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, reflects on this: ‘It is not for the sake of robes that I have gone forth from the home life into homelessness; it is not for the sake of almsfood, for the sake of lodgings, or for the sake of this or that state of (future) becoming that I have gone forth from the home life into homelessness. Simply that I am beset by birth, aging, & death; by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs; beset by stress, overcome with stress, (and I hope,) “Perhaps the end of this entire mass of suffering & stress might be known!” Now, if I were to seek the same sort of sensual pleasures that I abandoned in going forth from home into homelessness—or a worse sort—that would not be fitting for me.’

So he reflects on this: ‘My persistence will be aroused & not lax; my mindfulness established & not confused; my body calm & not aroused; my mind concentrated & gathered into one.’ Having made himself his governing principle, he abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is unblameworthy, and looks after himself in a pure way. This is called the self as a governing principle.

“And what is the cosmos as a governing principle? There is the case where a monk, having gone to a wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, reflects on this: ‘It’s not for the sake of robes that I have gone forth from the home life into homelessness; it’s not for the sake of almsfood, for the sake of lodgings, or for the sake of this or that state of (future) becoming that I have gone forth from the home life into homelessness. Simply that I am beset by birth, aging, & death; by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs; beset by stress, overcome with stress, (and I hope,) “Perhaps the end of this entire mass of suffering & stress might be known!” Now if I, having gone forth, were to think thoughts of sensuality, thoughts of ill will, or thoughts of harmfulness: Great is the community of this cosmos. And in the great community of this cosmos there are contemplatives & brahmans endowed with psychic power, clairvoyant, skilled in (reading) the minds of others. They can see even from afar. Even up close, they are invisible. With their awareness they know the minds of others. They would know this of me: “Look, my friends, at this clansman who—though he has in good faith gone forth from the home life into homelessness—remains overcome with evil, unskillful dhammas.” There are also devas endowed with psychic power, clairvoyant, skilled in (reading) the minds of others. They can see even from afar. Even up close, they are invisible. With their awareness they know the minds of others. They would know this of me: “Look, my friends, at this clansman who—though he has in good faith gone forth from the home life into homelessness—remains overcome with evil, unskillful dhammas.”’

So he reflects on this: ‘My persistence will be aroused & not lax; my mindfulness established & not confused; my body calm & not aroused; my mind concentrated & gathered into one.’ Having made the cosmos his governing principle, he abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is unblameworthy, and looks after himself in a pure way. This is called the cosmos as a governing principle.

“And what is the Dhamma as a governing principle? There is the case where a monk, having gone to a wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, reflects on this: ‘It’s not for the sake of robes that I have gone forth from the home life into homelessness; it’s not for the sake of almsfood, for the sake of lodgings, or for the sake of this or that state of (future) becoming that I have gone forth from the home life into homelessness. Simply that I am beset by birth, aging, & death; by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs; beset by stress, overcome with stress, (and I hope,) “Perhaps the end of this entire mass of suffering & stress might be known!” Now, the Dhamma is well-taught by the Blessed One, to be seen here-&-now, timeless, inviting all to come & see, pertinent, to be seen by the observant for themselves. There are fellow practitioners of the chaste life who dwell knowing & seeing it. If I—having gone forth in this well-taught Dhamma & Vinaya—were to remain lazy & heedless, that would not be fitting for me.’

So he reflects on this: ‘My persistence will be aroused & not lax; my mindfulness established & not confused; my body calm & not aroused; my mind concentrated & gathered into one.’ Having made the Dhamma his governing principle, he abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is unblameworthy, and looks after himself in a pure way. This is called the Dhamma as a governing principle.

“These are the three governing principles.” — AN 3:40

§ 218. “Monks, these two bright dhammas guard the world. Which two? Shame & compunction. If these two bright dhammas did not guard the world, there would be no recognition of ‘mother’ here, no recognition of ‘mother’s sister,’ ‘uncle’s wife,’ ‘teacher’s wife,’ or ‘wives of those who deserve respect.’ The world would be immersed in promiscuity, like rams with goats, roosters with pigs, or dogs with jackals. But because these two bright dhammas guard the world, there is recognition of ‘mother,’ ‘mother’s sister,’ ‘uncle’s wife,’ ‘teacher’s wife,’ & ‘wives of those who deserve respect.’” — AN 2:9

§ 219. “Just as the royal frontier fortress has a moat, both deep & wide, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way, the disciple of the noble ones has a sense of shame. He feels shame at [the thought of engaging in] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. He feels shame at falling into evil, unskillful actions. With shame as his moat, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity.…

“Just as the royal frontier fortress has an encircling road, both high & wide, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way, the disciple of the noble ones has compunction. He feels compunction about [the suffering that would result from] bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. He feels compunction about falling into evil, unskillful actions. With compunction as his encircling road, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity.…

“Just as the royal frontier fortress has a large army stationed within—elephant soldiers, cavalry, charioteers, bowmen, standard-bearers, billeting officers, soldiers of the supply corps, noted princes, commando heroes, infantry, & slaves—for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful dhammas and taking on skillful dhammas, is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful dhammas. With persistence as his army, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity.” — AN 7:63

§ 220. “In one given over

to sexual intercourse,

the teaching is muddled

and he practices wrongly:

This is ignoble

in him.

Whoever once went alone,

but then resorts

to sexual intercourse

—like a carriage out of control—

is called vile in the world,

a person run-of-the-mill.

His earlier honor & dignity:

lost.

Seeing this,

he should train himself

to abandon sexual intercourse.

They thought him wise

when he committed himself

to the life alone,

but now that he’s given

to sexual intercourse

they declare him a dullard.

Knowing these drawbacks, the sage

here—before & after—

stays firm in the life alone;

doesn’t resort to sexual intercourse;

would train himself

in seclusion—

this, for the noble,

is highest.

He wouldn’t, because of that,

suppose himself

to be better than others:

He’s on the verge

of unbinding.

People enmeshed

in sensual pleasures,

envy him:

a sage remote,

leading his life

unconcerned for sensual pleasures

—one who’s crossed over the flood.” — Sn 4:7

§ 221. Ven. Ānanda: “‘This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.’ Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, ‘The monk named such-&-such, they say, through the ending of the effluents, has entered & remains in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here-&-now.’ The thought occurs to him, ‘I hope that I, too, will—through the ending of the effluents—enter & remain in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having directly known & realized them for myself right in the here-&-now.’ Then, at a later time, he abandons craving, having relied on craving. ‘This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.’ Thus it was said. And in reference to this was it said.

“‘This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.’ Thus it was said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, ‘The monk named such-&-such, they say, through the ending of effluents, has entered & remains in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having directly known & realized them for himself right in the here-&-now.’ The thought occurs to him, ‘The monk named such-&-such, they say, through the ending of effluents, has entered & remains in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having directly known & realized them for himself right in the here-&-now. Then why not me?’ Then, at a later time, he abandons conceit, having relied on conceit. ‘This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.’ Thus it was said, and in reference to this was it said.” — AN 4:159

§ 222. Ven. Vakkali:

Stricken by sharp, wind-like pains,

you, monk, living in the forest grove

—harsh, with limited range for alms—

what, what will you do?

Suffusing my body

with abundant rapture & joy,

& enduring what’s harsh,

I’ll stay in the grove.

Developing the establishings of mindfulness,

strengths, faculties,

the factors for awakening,

I’ll stay in the grove.

Reflecting on those who are resolute,

their persistence aroused,

constantly firm in their effort,

united in concord,

I’ll stay in the grove.

Recollecting the One Self-awakened,

self-tamed & centered,

untiring both day & night,

I’ll stay

in the grove. — Thag 5:8

§ 223. “Monks, there are these five types of warriors who can be found existing in the world. Which five?

“There is the case of a warrior who, on seeing a cloud of dust [stirred up by the enemy army], falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t engage in the battle.…

“Then there is the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust, but on seeing the top of the enemy’s banner, he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t engage in the battle.…

“Then there is the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust & the top of the enemy’s banner, but on hearing the tumult [of the approaching forces], he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t engage in the battle.…

“Then there is the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust, the top of the enemy’s banner, & the tumult, but when in hand-to-hand combat he is struck and falls wounded.…

“Then there is the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust, the top of the enemy’s banner, the tumult, & the hand-to-hand combat. On winning the battle, victorious in battle, he comes out at the very head of the battle.…

“These are the five types of warriors who can be found existing in the world.

“In the same way, monks, there are these five warrior-like individuals who can be found existing among the monks. Which five?

[1] “There is the case of the monk who, on seeing a cloud of dust, falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t continue in the holy life. Declaring his weakness in the training, he leaves the training and returns to the lower life. What is the cloud of dust for him? There is the case of the monk who hears, ‘In that village or town over there is a woman or girl who is shapely, good-looking, charming, endowed with the foremost lotus-like complexion.’ On hearing this, he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t continue in the holy life. Declaring his weakness in the training, he leaves the training and returns to the lower life. That, for him, is the cloud of dust. This individual, I tell you, is like the warrior who, on seeing a cloud of dust, falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t engage in the battle. Some individuals are like this. This is the first type of warrior-like individual who can be found existing among the monks.

[2] “Then there is the case of the monk who can handle the cloud of dust, but on seeing the top of the enemy’s banner, he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t continue in the holy life. Declaring his weakness in the training, he leaves the training and returns to the lower life. What is the top of the banner for him? There is the case of the monk who not only hears that ‘In that village or town over there is a woman or girl who is shapely, good-looking, charming, endowed with the foremost lotus-like complexion.’ He sees for himself that in that village or town over there is a woman or girl who is shapely, good-looking, charming, endowed with the foremost lotus-like complexion. On seeing her, he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t continue in the holy life. Declaring his weakness in the training, he leaves the training and returns to the lower life. That, for him, is the top of the banner. This individual, I tell you, is like the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust, but on seeing the top of the enemy’s banner, he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t engage in the battle. Some individuals are like this. This is the second type of warrior-like individual who can be found existing among the monks.

[3] “Then there is the case of the monk who can handle the cloud of dust & the top of the enemy’s banner, but on hearing the tumult [of the approaching forces], he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t continue in the holy life. Declaring his weakness in the training, he leaves the training and returns to the lower life. What is the tumult for him? There is the case of the monk who has gone to the wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty building. A woman approaches him and giggles at him, calls out to him, laughs aloud, & teases him. On being giggled at, called out to, laughed at, & teased by the woman, he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t continue in the holy life. Declaring his weakness in the training, he leaves the training and returns to the lower life. That, for him, is the tumult. This individual, I tell you, is like the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust & the top of the enemy’s banner, but on hearing the tumult he falters, faints, doesn’t steel himself, can’t engage in the battle. Some individuals are like this. This is the third type of warrior-like individual who can be found existing among the monks.

[4] “Then there is the case of the monk who can handle the cloud of dust, the top of the enemy’s banner, & the tumult, but when in hand-to-hand combat he is struck and falls wounded. What is the hand-to-hand combat for him? There is the case of the monk who has gone to the wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty building. A woman approaches him and sits down right next to him, lies down right next to him, throws herself all over him. When she sits down right next to him, lies down right next to him, and throws herself all over him, he—without renouncing the training, without declaring his weakness—engages in sexual intercourse. This, for him, is hand-to-hand combat. This individual, I tell you, is like the warrior who can handle the cloud of dust, the top of the enemy’s banner, & the tumult, but when in hand-to-hand combat he is struck and falls wounded. Some individuals are like this. This is the fourth type of warrior-like individual who can be found existing among the monks.

[5] “Then there is the case of the monk who can handle the cloud of dust, the top of the enemy’s banner, the tumult, & hand-to-hand combat. On winning the battle, victorious in battle, he comes out at the very head of the battle. What is victory in the battle for him? There is the case of the monk who has gone to the wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling. A woman approaches him and sits down right next to him, lies down right next to him, throws herself all over him. When she sits down right next to him, lies down right next to him, and throws herself all over him, he extricates himself, frees himself, and goes off where he will.” — AN 5:75

§ 224. “Endowed with four dhammas, monks, a warrior is worthy of a king, an asset to a king, and counts as a very limb of his king. Which four?

“There is the case where a warrior is skilled in his stance, able to shoot far, able to fire shots in rapid succession, and able to pierce great objects. A warrior endowed with these four dhammas is worthy of a king, an asset to a king, and counts as a very limb of his king.

“In the same way a monk endowed with four dhammas is deserving of gifts, deserving of hospitality, deserving of offerings, deserving of respect, an unexcelled field of merit for the world. Which four?

“There is the case where a monk is skilled in his stance, able to shoot far, able to fire shots in rapid succession, and able to pierce great objects. A monk endowed with these four dhammas is deserving of gifts, deserving of hospitality, deserving of offerings, deserving of respect, an unexcelled field of merit for the world.

“And how is a monk skilled in his stance? 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 how a monk is skilled in his stance.

“And how is a monk one who is able to shoot far? There is the case where a monk sees any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near—every form—as it has come to be with right discernment as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.’

“He sees any feeling whatsoever.…

“He sees any perception whatsoever.…

“He sees any fabrications whatsoever.…

“He sees any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle, common or sublime, far or near—every consciousness—as it has come to be with right discernment as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.’

“This is how a monk is one who is able to shoot far.

“And how is a monk one who is able to fire shots in rapid succession? There is the case where a monk discerns, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress’ … ‘This is the origination of stress’ … ‘This is the cessation of stress’ … ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’ This is how a monk is one who is able to fire shots in rapid succession.

“And how is a monk one who is able to pierce great objects? There is the case where a monk pierces right through the great mass of ignorance. This is how a monk is one who is able to pierce great objects right through.

“Endowed with these four dhammas, a monk is deserving of gifts, deserving of hospitality, deserving of offerings, deserving of respect, an unexcelled field of merit for the world.” — AN 4:181

§ 225. On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vesālī at the Gabled Hall in the Great Forest. Then in the early morning, Ven. Ānanda, having adjusted his under robe and carrying his bowl & outer robe, went into Vesālī for alms. He saw a large number of Licchavi boys practicing archery in the stadium building. From a distance they were shooting arrows through a tiny keyhole without missing, one right after the other. On seeing this, the thought occurred to him, “How trained these Licchavi boys are, how well-trained these Licchavi boys are, in that from a distance they can shoot arrows through a tiny keyhole without missing, one right after the other!”

Then, having gone for alms in Vesālī, after his meal, returning from his alms round, Ven. Ānanda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: “Just now, lord, in the early morning, having adjusted my under robe and carrying my bowl & outer robe, I went into Vesālī for alms. I saw a large number of Licchavi boys practicing archery in the stadium building. From a distance they were shooting arrows through a tiny keyhole without missing, one right after the other. On seeing this, the thought occurred to me ‘How trained these Licchavi boys are, how well-trained these Licchavi boys are, in that from a distance they can shoot arrows through a tiny keyhole without missing, one right after the other!’”

“What do you think, Ānanda? Which is harder to do, harder to master—to shoot arrows through a tiny keyhole without missing, one right after the other, or to take a horsehair split into seven strands and pierce tip with a tip?”

“This, lord, is harder to do, harder to master— to take a horsehair split into seven strands and pierce tip with a tip.”

“And they, Ānanda, pierce what is even harder to pierce, those who pierce, as it has come to be, that ‘This is stress’; who pierce, as it has come to be, that ‘This is the origination of stress’… ‘This is the cessation of stress’… ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’

“Therefore, Ānanda, your duty is the contemplation, ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress.’ Your duty is the contemplation, ‘This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’” — SN 56:45

§ 226. “These seven things—pleasing to an enemy, bringing about an enemy’s aim—come to a man or woman who is angry. Which seven?

“…When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—then even though that he may be well-bathed, well-anointed, dressed in white clothes, his hair & beard neatly trimmed, he is ugly nevertheless, all because he is overcome with anger.

“…When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—then even though he sleeps on a bed spread with a white blanket, spread with a woolen coverlet, spread with a flower-embroidered bedspread, covered with a rug of deerskins, with a canopy overhead, or on a sofa with red cushions at either end, he sleeps badly nevertheless.…

“… When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—then even when he suffers a loss, he thinks, ‘I’ve gained a profit’; and even when he gains a profit, he thinks, ‘I’ve suffered a loss.’ When he has grabbed hold of these ideas that work in mutual opposition [to the truth], they lead to his long-term suffering & loss.…

“… When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—then whatever his wealth, earned through his efforts & enterprise, amassed through the strength of his arm, and piled up through the sweat of his brow—righteous wealth righteously gained—the king orders it sent to the royal treasury [in payment of fines levied for his behavior].…

“… When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—whatever reputation he has gained from being heedful, it falls away.…

“… When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—his friends, companions, & relatives will avoid him from afar.…

“… When a person is angry—overcome with anger, oppressed with anger—he engages in misconduct with the body, misconduct with speech, misconduct with the mind. Having engaged in misconduct with the body, misconduct with speech, misconduct with the mind, then—on the break-up of the body, after death—he reappears in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell, all because he was overcome with anger.

“These are the seven things—pleasing to an enemy, bringing about an enemy’s aim—that come to a man or woman who is angry.” — AN 7:60

The Types of Effort

§ 227. “I don’t envision a single thing that is as quick to reverse itself as the mind—so much so that there is no satisfactory simile for how quick to reverse itself it is.” — AN 1:49

§ 228. “There are these four exertions. Which four? The exertion to guard, the exertion to abandon, the exertion to develop, & the exertion to maintain.

“And what is the exertion to guard? There is the case where a monk, on seeing a form with the eye, does not grasp at any theme or variations by which—if he were to dwell without restraint over the faculty of the eye—evil, unskillful dhammas such as greed or distress might assail him. He practices with restraint. He guards the faculty of the eye. He achieves restraint with regard to the faculty of the eye. [Similarly with the ear, nose, tongue, body, & intellect.] This is called the exertion to guard.

“And what is the exertion to abandon? There is the case where a monk does not acquiesce to a thought of sensuality that has arisen (in him). He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, wipes it out of existence. He does not acquiesce to a thought of ill will… a thought of harmfulness… any evil, unskillful dhammas that have arisen (in him). He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, wipes them out of existence. This is called the exertion to abandon.

“And what is the exertion to develop? There is the case where a monk develops mindfulness as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops analysis of dhammas as a factor for awakening… persistence as a factor for awakening… rapture as a factor for awakening… calm as a factor for awakening… concentration as a factor for awakening… equanimity as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion, dependent on dispassion, dependent on cessation, resulting in letting go. This is called the exertion to develop.

“And what is the exertion to maintain? There is the case where a monk maintains a favorable theme of concentration—the skeleton perception, the worm-eaten perception, the livid perception, the festering perception, the falling-apart perception, the bloated perception. This is called the exertion to maintain.” — AN 4:14

§ 229. The Blessed One said, “Monks, the ending of effluents is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see. For one who knows what & sees what? Appropriate attention & inappropriate attention. When a monk attends inappropriately, unarisen effluents arise, and arisen effluents increase. When a monk attends appropriately, unarisen effluents do not arise, and arisen effluents are abandoned. There are effluents to be abandoned by seeing, those to be abandoned by restraining, those to be abandoned by using, those to be abandoned by tolerating, those to be abandoned by avoiding, those to be abandoned by destroying, and those to be abandoned by developing.

[1] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by seeing? There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person—who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma—does not discern what ideas are fit for attention or what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas fit for attention and attends (instead) to ideas unfit for attention.

“And what are the ideas unfit for attention that he attends to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen effluent of sensuality arises in him, and the arisen effluent of sensuality increases; the unarisen effluent of becoming arises in him, and the arisen effluent of becoming increases; the unarisen effluent of ignorance arises in him, and the arisen effluent of ignorance increases. These are the ideas unfit for attention that he attends to.

“And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen effluent of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen effluent of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen effluent of becoming does not arise in him, and the arisen effluent of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen effluent of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen effluent of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to. Through his attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his not attending to ideas fit for attention, both unarisen effluents arise in him, and arisen effluents increase.

“This is how he attends inappropriately: ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it headed?’

“As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self… or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self… or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self… or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine—the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions—is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

“The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones—who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma—discerns what ideas are fit for attention and what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas unfit for attention and attends (instead) to ideas fit for attention.

“And what are the ideas unfit for attention that he does not attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen effluent of sensuality arises in him, and the arisen effluent of sensuality increases; the unarisen effluent of becoming arises in him, and the arisen effluent of becoming increases; the unarisen effluent of ignorance arises in him, and the arisen effluent of ignorance increases. These are the ideas unfit for attention that he does not attend to.

“And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen effluent of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen effluent of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen effluent of becoming does not arise in him, and the arisen effluent of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen effluent of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen effluent of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to. Through his not attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his attending to ideas fit for attention, unarisen effluents do not arise in him, and arisen effluents are abandoned.

“He attends appropriately, This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: self-identity-view, uncertainty, and grasping at habits & practices. These are called the effluents to be abandoned by seeing.

[2] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by restraining? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, dwells restrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were to dwell unrestrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty do not arise for him when he dwells restrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty. [Similarly with the ear-faculty, the nose-faculty, the tongue-faculty, the body-faculty, and the intellect-faculty.]

“These are called the effluents to be abandoned by restraining.

[3] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by using? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, uses the robe simply to counteract cold, to counteract heat, to counteract the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; simply for the purpose of covering the parts of the body that cause shame.

“Reflecting appropriately, he uses alms food, not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification; but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, ‘Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.’

“Reflecting appropriately, he uses lodging simply to counteract cold, to counteract heat, to counteract the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather and for the enjoyment of seclusion.

“Reflecting appropriately, he uses medicinal requisites that are used for curing the sick simply to counteract any pains of illness that have arisen and for maximum freedom from disease.

“The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to use these things (in this way) do not arise for him when he uses them (in this way). These are called the effluents to be abandoned by using.

[4] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the effluents to be abandoned by tolerating.

[5] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by avoiding? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, avoids a wild elephant, a wild horse, a wild bull, a wild dog, a snake, a stump, a bramble patch, a chasm, a cliff, a cesspool, an open sewer. Reflecting appropriately, he avoids sitting in the sorts of unsuitable seats, wandering to the sorts of unsuitable habitats, and associating with the sorts of bad friends that would make his knowledgeable friends in the holy life suspect him of evil conduct. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to avoid these things do not arise for him when he avoids them. These are called the effluents to be abandoned by avoiding.

[6] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by destroying? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, & wipes it out of existence.

“Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will…

“Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of harmfulness…

“Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate arisen evil, unskillful dhammas. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to destroy these things do not arise for him when he destroys them. These are called the effluents to be abandoned by destroying.

[7] “And what are the effluents to be abandoned by developing? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, develops mindfulness as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion… dispassion… cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops analysis of dhammas as a factor for awakening… persistence as a factor for awakening… rapture as a factor for awakening… calm as a factor for awakening… concentration as a factor for awakening… equanimity as a factor for awakening dependent on seclusion… dispassion… cessation, resulting in letting go. The effluents, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to develop these dhammas do not arise for him when he develops them. These are called the effluents to be abandoned by developing.

“When a monk’s effluents that should be abandoned by seeing have been abandoned by seeing, his effluents that should be abandoned by restraining have been abandoned by restraining, his effluents that should be abandoned by using have been abandoned by using, his effluents that should be abandoned by tolerating have been abandoned by tolerating, his effluents that should be abandoned by avoiding have been abandoned by avoiding, his effluents that should be abandoned by destroying have been abandoned by destroying, his effluents that should be abandoned by developing have been abandoned by developing, then he is called a monk who dwells restrained with the restraint of all the effluents. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and—through the right penetration of conceit—has made an end of suffering & stress.” — MN 2

The Amount of Effort

§ 230. “There is the case where a monk develops the base of power endowed with concentration founded on persistence & the fabrications of exertion, thinking, ‘This persistence of mine will be neither overly sluggish nor overly active, neither inwardly constricted nor outwardly scattered’.…

“And how is persistence overly sluggish? Whatever persistence is accompanied by laziness, conjoined with laziness: That is called overly sluggish persistence.

“And how is persistence overly active? Whatever persistence is accompanied by restlessness, conjoined with restlessness: That is called overly active persistence.

“And how is persistence inwardly constricted? Whatever persistence is accompanied by sloth & drowsiness, conjoined with sloth & drowsiness: That is called inwardly constricted persistence.

“And how is persistence outwardly scattered? Whatever persistence is stirred up by the five strings of sensuality, outwardly dispersed & dissipated: That is called outwardly scattered persistence.” — SN 51:20

§ 231. I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rājagaha, on Vulture Peak Mountain. And on that occasion Ven. Soṇa was staying near Rājagaha in the Cool Wood. Then, as Ven. Soṇa was meditating in seclusion [after doing walking meditation until the skin of his soles was split & bleeding], this train of thought arose in his awareness: “Of the Blessed One’s disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance. Now, my family has enough wealth that it would be possible to enjoy wealth & make merit. What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, enjoy wealth, & make merit?”

Then the Blessed One, as soon as he perceived with his awareness the train of thought in Ven. Soṇa’s awareness disappeared from Vulture Peak Mountain—just as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm—appeared in the Cool Wood right in front of Ven. Soṇa, and sat down on a seat laid out. Ven. Soṇa, after bowing down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “Just now, as you were meditating in seclusion, didn’t this train of thought appear to your awareness: ‘Of the Blessed One’s disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from effluents.… What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, enjoy wealth, & make merit?’”

“Yes, lord.”

“Now, what do you think, Soṇa? Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the lute?”

“Yes, lord.”

“And what do you think? When the strings of your lute were too taut, was your lute in tune & playable?”

“No, lord.”

“And what do you think? When the strings of your lute were too loose, was your lute in tune & playable?”

“No, lord.”

“And what do you think? When the strings of your lute were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned to be right on pitch, was your lute in tune & playable?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, Soṇa, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune the pitch of the (five) faculties (to that), and there pick up your theme.”

“Yes, lord,” Ven. Soṇa answered the Blessed One. Then, having given this exhortation to Ven. Soṇa, the Blessed One—as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm—disappeared from the Cool Wood and appeared on Vulture Peak Mountain.

So after that, Ven. Soṇa determined the right pitch for his persistence, attuned the pitch of the (five) faculties (to that), and there picked up his theme. Dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute, he in no long time reached & remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, having directly known & realized it for himself in the here-&-now. He knew: “Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.” And thus Ven. Soṇa became another one of the arahants. — AN 6:55

§ 232. “And how is striving fruitful, how is exertion fruitful? There is the case where a monk, when not loaded down, doesn’t load himself down with pain, nor does he reject pleasure that accords with the Dhamma, although he is not infatuated with that pleasure. He discerns that ‘When I exert a [bodily, verbal, or mental] fabrication against this cause of stress, then from the fabrication of exertion there is dispassion. When I look on with equanimity at that cause of stress, then from the development of equanimity there is dispassion.’ So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity. Thus the stress where there comes dispassion from the fabrication of exertion is exhausted & the stress where there comes dispassion from the development of equanimity is exhausted.” — MN 101

§ 233. “[Prior to my self-awakening,] the thought occurred to me: ‘What if—on recognized, designated nights such as the eighth, fourteenth, & fifteenth of the lunar fortnight—I were to stay in the sort of places that are awe-inspiring and make your hair stand on end, such as park-shrines, forest-shrines, & tree-shrines? …’ So at a later time—on recognized, designated nights such as the eighth, fourteenth, & fifteenth of the lunar fortnight—I stayed in the sort of places that are awe-inspiring and make your hair stand on end, such as park-shrines, forest-shrines, & tree-shrines. And while I was staying there a wild animal would come, or a bird would drop a twig, or wind would rustle the fallen leaves. The thought would occur to me: ‘Is this that fear & terror coming?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘Why do I just keep waiting for fear? What if I were to subdue fear & terror in whatever state they come?’

“So when fear & terror came while I was walking back & forth, I would not stand or sit or lie down. I would keep walking back & forth until I had subdued that fear & terror. When fear & terror came while I was standing, I would not walk or sit or lie down. I would keep standing until I had subdued that fear & terror. When fear & terror came while I was sitting, I would not lie down or stand up or walk. I would keep sitting until I had subdued that fear & terror. When fear & terror came while I was lying down, I would not sit up or stand or walk. I would keep lying down until I had subdued that fear & terror.” — MN 4

§ 234. Ven. Bhaddiya Kāligodhāyaputta

Wearing cast-off cloth, persevering,

delighting in whatever falls into his bowl,

Bhaddiya, son of Godhā,

does jhāna without clinging.

Going for alms, persevering…

Wearing only one triple set of robes, persevering…

Bypassing no donors on his alms round, persevering…

Eating only one meal a day, persevering…

Eating from the bowl, persevering…

Refusing food brought afterwards, persevering…

Living in the wilderness, persevering…

Living at the foot of a tree, persevering…

Living in the open air, persevering…

Living in a cemetery, persevering…

Accepting whatever lodging he’s assigned, persevering,

Not lying down, persevering,

delighting in whatever falls into his bowl,

Bhaddiya, son of Godhā,

does jhāna without clinging. — Thag 16:7

§ 235. “When a monk is intent on the heightened mind, there are five themes he should attend to at the appropriate times. Which five?

“There is the case where evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—arise in a monk while he is referring to & attending to a particular theme. He should attend to another theme, apart from that one, connected with what is skillful. When he is attending to this other theme… those evil, unskillful thoughts… are abandoned & subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it. Just as a dexterous carpenter or carpenter’s apprentice would use a small peg to knock out, drive out, & pull out a large one; in the same way… he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it.

“If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion, or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is attending to this other theme, connected with what is skillful, he should scrutinize the drawbacks of those thoughts: ‘Truly, these thoughts of mine are unskillful… blameworthy… these thoughts of mine result in stress.’ As he is scrutinizing their drawbacks… those evil, unskillful thoughts… are abandoned & subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it. Just as a young woman—or man—fond of adornment, would be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted if the carcass of a snake or a dog or a human being were hung from her neck; in the same way… the monk steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it.

“If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, he should pay no mind & pay no attention to those thoughts. As he is paying no mind & paying no attention to them… those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned & subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it. Just as a man with good eyes, not wanting to see forms that had come into range, would close his eyes or look away; in the same way… the monk steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it.

“If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is paying no mind & paying no attention to those thoughts, he should attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts. As he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts… those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned & subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it. Just as the thought would occur to a man walking quickly, ‘Why am I walking quickly? Why don’t I walk slowly?’ So he walks slowly. The thought occurs to him, ‘Why am I walking slowly? Why don’t I stand?’ So he stands. The thought occurs to him, ‘Why am I standing? Why don’t I sit down?’ So he sits down. The thought occurs to him, ‘Why am I sitting? Why don’t I lie down?’ So he lies down. In this way, giving up the grosser posture, he takes up the more refined one. In the same way… the monk steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it.

“If evil, unskillful thoughts—connected with desire, aversion or delusion—still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then—with his teeth clenched & his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth—he should beat down, constrain, & crush his mind with his awareness. As—with his teeth clenched & his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth—he is beating down, constraining, & crushing his mind with his awareness… those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned & subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, & crush him; in the same way… the monk steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, & concentrates it.” — MN 20

§ 236. “Anuruddha, even I, before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta, perceived both light and a vision of forms. But not long afterward, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why the light and the vision of forms have disappeared?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘Doubt has arisen in me, and on account of the doubt my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms have disappeared. I will act in a way such that doubt doesn’t arise in me again.’

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived light and a vision of forms. But not long afterward, the light and the vision of forms disappeared.… Then the thought occurred to me: ‘Inattention has arisen in me…’ … ‘Sloth-&-torpor has arisen in me…’ … ‘Panic has arisen in me, and on account of the panic my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms have disappeared.’ Suppose, Anuruddha, that a man was traveling along a road, and murderers appeared on both sides. He would, for that reason, feel panic. In the same way, panic arose in me, and on account of the panic my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. [I thought:] ‘I will act in a way such that doubt, inattention, sloth-&-torpor, and panic don’t arise in me again.’

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived light and a vision of forms. But not long afterward, the light and the vision of forms disappeared.… Then the thought occurred to me: ‘Exhilaration has arisen in me, and on account of the exhilaration my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms have disappeared.’ Suppose, Anuruddha, that a man searching for portals to hidden treasure suddenly came across five portals to hidden treasure. He would, for that reason, feel exhilaration. In the same way, exhilaration arose in me.… [I thought:] ‘I will act in a way such that doubt, inattention, sloth-&-torpor, panic, and exhilaration don’t arise in me again.’

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived light and a vision of forms. But not long afterward, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why the light and the vision of forms have disappeared?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘Malaise has arisen in me…’ … ‘Excess persistence has arisen in me, and on account of the excess persistence my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms have disappeared.’ Suppose, Anuruddha, that a man was grasping a baby quail tightly with both hands. It would die right there. In the same way, excess persistence arose in me.… [I thought:] ‘I will act in a way such that doubt, inattention, sloth-&-torpor, panic, malaise, and excess persistence don’t arise in me again.’

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived light and a vision of forms. But not long afterward, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why the light and the vision of forms have disappeared?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘Slack persistence has arisen in me, and on account of the slack persistence my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and vision of forms have disappeared.’ Suppose, Anuruddha, that a man was holding a baby quail loosely. It would fly out of his hand. In the same way, slack persistence arose in me, and on account of the slack persistence my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. [I thought:] ‘I will act in a way such that doubt, inattention, sloth-&-torpor, panic, malaise, excess persistence, and slack persistence do not arise in me again.’

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived light and a vision of forms. But not long afterward, the light and the vision of forms disappeared. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why the light and the vision of forms has disappeared?’ Then the thought occurred to me: ‘A perception of multiplicity has arisen in me…’ … ‘Excess absorption in forms has arisen in me, and on account of the excess absorption in forms my concentration fell away. With the falling away of concentration, the light and the vision of forms have disappeared. I will act in a way such that doubt, inattention, sloth-&-torpor, panic, malaise, excess persistence, slack persistence, a perception of diversity, and excessive absorption in forms don’t arise in me again.’

“So, understanding that ‘doubt is a defilement of the mind,’ I abandoned the doubt defilement of the mind. Understanding that ‘inattention is a defilement of the mind’… sloth-&-torpor is a defilement of the mind’… panic is a defilement of the mind’… malaise is a defilement of the mind’… excess persistence is a defilement of the mind’… slack persistence is a defilement of the mind’… a perception of diversity is a defilement of the mind’… excessive absorption in forms is a defilement of the mind,’ I abandoned the excessive-absorption-in-forms defilement of the mind.

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived light but I did not see forms, or saw forms but did not perceive light for an entire night, for an entire day, and for an entire day and night. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why I perceive light but I do not see forms, or see forms but do not perceive light for an entire night, for an entire day, and for an entire day and night?’ The thought occurred to me, ‘At the time when, not attending to the theme of forms, I attend to the theme of light, that is the time when I perceive light but do not see forms. But at the time when, not attending to the theme of light, I attend to the theme of forms, that is the time when I see forms but do not perceive light for an entire night, for an entire day, and for an entire day and night.

“So—staying heedful, ardent, and resolute—I perceived limited light and limited forms, and immeasurable light and immeasurable forms for an entire night, for an entire day, and for an entire day and night. The thought occurred to me: ‘What is the cause, what is the reason, why I perceive limited light and limited forms, and immeasurable light and immeasurable forms for an entire night, for an entire day, and for an entire day and night?’ The thought occurred to me, ‘At the time when my concentration is limited, my (inner) eye is limited. With a limited eye, I perceive limited light and see limited forms. But at the time when my concentration is immeasurable, my (inner) eye is immeasurable. With an immeasurable eye, I perceive immeasurable light and see immeasurable forms for an entire night, for an entire day, and for an entire day and night.

“When, having understood that ‘doubt is a defilement of the mind’ and having abandoned doubt, having understood that ‘inattention… sloth-&-torpor… panic… malaise… excess persistence… slack persistence… a perception of diversity… excessive absorption in forms is a defilement of the mind,’ and having abandoned excessive absorption in forms, the thought occurred to me, ‘Those defilements of the mind are abandoned in me. What if I were to develop concentration in three ways?

“So, Anuruddha, I developed concentration with directed thought and evaluation. I developed concentration without directed thought but with a modicum of evaluation. I developed concentration without directed thought or evaluation.

“I developed concentration with rapture. I developed concentration without rapture.

“I developed concentration with enjoyment. I developed concentration with equanimity.

“When, in me, concentration with directed thought and evaluation was developed, concentration without directed thought but with a modicum of evaluation was developed, concentration without directed thought or evaluation was developed, concentration with rapture was developed, concentration without rapture was developed, concentration with enjoyment was developed, and concentration with equanimity was developed, knowledge & vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’” — MN 128

§ 237. “For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher’s message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this: ‘The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I.’ For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher’s message & lives to penetrate it, the Teacher’s message is healing & nourishing. For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher’s message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this: ‘Gladly would I let the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if I have not attained what can be reached through manly stamina, manly persistence, manly striving, there will be no relaxing my persistence.’ For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher’s message & lives to penetrate it, one of two fruits can be expected: either gnosis here-&-now, or—if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance—non-return.” — MN 70

§ 238. Ven. Soṇa Poṭiriyaputta

It’s not for sleeping,

the night garlanded

with zodiac stars.

The night, for one who knows,

is for staying awake.

If I were to fall from my elephant’s shoulder,

and a tusker trampled me,

death in battle would be better for me,

than that I, defeated,

survive. — Thag 2:37

Beyond Right Effort

§ 239. Then a certain devatā, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to him, she stood to one side. As she was standing there, she said to him, “Tell me, dear sir, how you crossed over the flood.”

“I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”

“But how, dear sir, did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?”

“When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”

The devatā:

“At long last I see

a brahman, totally unbound,

who

without pushing forward,

without staying in place,

has crossed              over

the entanglements

of the world.” — SN 1:1