CAUSES LEADING TO ATTAINMENT AND PURIFICATION OF CATUPAṬISAMBHIDĀ
So far, the fourfold analytical knowledge (catupaṭisambhidā) has been discussed in detail. As we had come across each kind of knowledge, we might see somewhere the proximate causes or conditions that cause the fourfold analytical knowledge to arise. In other words, under the light of dependent origination from Buddhist perspective, the fourfold analytical knowledge is conditionally arisen. They do not arise without causes; they arise in conjunction of necessary causes conventionally called causes leading to attainment. Moreover, if they have not reached the culmination of purity after arising, they can be purified by other causes, say, causes conducive to purification. In practical terms, these causes better deserve another appellation—the way leading to attainment and purification of catupaṭisambhidā.
6. 1. Causes Leading to Attainment of Catupaṭisambhidā
As we have known, the Vibhaṅga and Paṭisambhidāmagga are genuine informative sources where the fourfold analytical knowledge (catupaṭisambhidā) is found in their full exegesis. Unfortunately, no particular method of practice leading to attainment of the knowledge is described there. The Visuddhimagga also says there is no single practice or development of meditation subject which leads to the attainment of the fourfold analytical knowledge (paṭisambhidāppattiyā pāṭiyekko kammaṭṭhānabhāvanānuyogo nāma natthi). Nevertheless, the Paṭhamapaṭisambhidāsutta is of great appeal, it introduces definite causes conducive to the attainment of catupaṭisambhidā.
The complete mention of the Paṭhamapaṭisambhidāsutta will be described to elucidate the seven factors or causes that lead to the attainment of the fourfold analytical knowledge. At one time, the Buddha said:
“O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is endowed with seven factors, before long, he himself, having comprehended, having realized and having entered the fourfold analytical knowledge, abides therein (Sattahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato bhikkhu nacirasseva catasso paṭisambhidā sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja vihareyya). What seven? Here, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu:
1) Knows correctly thus: ‘this is sluggish state in me’ (‘idaṃ me cetaso līnattan’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti),
2) Knows correctly the internally constricted mind thus: ‘there is the internally constricted mind in me’ (ajjhattaṃ saṃkhittaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘ajjhattaṃ me saṃkhittaṃ cittan’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti),
3) Knows correctly the externally distracted mind thus: ‘there is the externally distracted mind in me’ (bahiddhā vikkhittaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘bahiddhā me vikkhittaṃ cittan’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti),
4) To him the feelings that arise, exist and pass away are comprehensible (tassa viditā vedanā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti),
5) To him the perceptions that arise, exist and pass away are comprehensible (viditā saññā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti),
6) To him the thoughts that arise, exist and pass away are comprehensible (viditā vitakkā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti),
7) He clearly perceives, clearly takes a mental note of, wisely contemplates and penetrates with wisdom the sign of what is proper, what is improper, what is inferior, what is superior, what is defiled and what is purified (sappāyāsappāyesu kho panassa dhammesu hīnappaṇītesu kaṇhasukkasappatibhāgesu nimittaṃ suggahitaṃ hoti sumanasikataṃ sūpadhāritaṃ suppaṭividdhaṃ paññāya).
O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is endowed with these seven factors, before long he himself, having comprehended, having realized and having entered upon the fourfold analytical knowledge, abides therein”.
Following this Sutta is the Dutiyapaṭisambhidāsutta where the Buddha also introduces these very seven factors, and makes sure to his disciples that the venerable Sāriputta being endowed with these seven factors, having comprehended, having realized and having entered upon the fourfold analytical knowledge, abides therein (Sattahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato Sāriputto catasso paṭisambhidā sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharati).
Unexpectedly, the commentary and sub-commentary to these two Suttas offer very little exposition to the subject-matter, and do not comment on these seven factors as causes or conditions for the attainment of the fourfold analytical knowledge. However, it is clear to us that these factors definitely constitute the method or way leading to the comprehension, realization and attainment of the fourfold analytical knowledge, or at least they constitute the indispensable conditions conducive to the goal. One irrefutable reason, which supports such assertion, is that this is the Buddha’s Word, the most authentic guideline recorded in the Pāḷi Canon.
On the other hand, it seems that the bhikkhus and the venerable Sāriputta, to whom the Suttas were given, all are endowed with the special qualities eligible for achieving the fourfold analytical knowledge; the only thing left for them is to put the method described in the Suttas into practice. Whatever it may be, the practice in accordance with the Suttas should be the decisive conditions that give rise to the fourfold analytical knowledge.
Additionally, the Visuddhimagga, though refusing the assertion that there is the specific practice of meditation subject leading to the attainment of the fourfold analytical knowledge, explains, “the necessary condition for the categories of the analytical knowledge is shown by understanding. Depending on the fulfillment of understanding, one attains the fourfold analytical knowledge, but not by any other reason”. Other commentaries similarly state, “One who is well-practised in the Abhidhamma Piṭaka attains the fourfold analytical knowledge due to the fulfillment of understanding” (Abhidhamme suppaṭipanno paññāsampadaṃ nissāya catasso paṭisambhidā pāpuṇāti).
It is important to note here that the Suttas mentioned above is somehow identical with the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta from the aspect of being aware of objects. They both teach how to take mental note of and be fully mindful of sensations (vedanā), mind (citta) and mental states (dhamma), which come into being, stand and then perish. They also teach to do so with the causes and conditions of those phenomena and of material qualities, which come into being, stand and then perish. In brief, these two Suttas served as a cornerstone of crucial conditions—though not as complete as the description concerning the method of cultivating awareness-and-comprehension described in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta—share with the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta a common characteristic, which is the development of insight or understanding. And as verified by the commentaries, the fulfillment of understanding is a necessary condition, it is proper to say that understanding or wisdom faculty, but not faith or concentration faculty, plays the most important role in exercising the attainment of the fourfold analytical knowledge. Faith faculty and concentration faculty are predominant in cultivating virtue (sīla) and in developing meditative absorption (jhāna) respectively. According to the Dhammasaṅganī Aṭṭhakathā and Pārājika Aṭṭhakathā, one who well practises the moral code (Vinaya) attains the three kinds of knowledge (tisso vijjā) due to the perfection of virtue; and one who well trains in Discourses (Sutta) arrives at the six kinds of knowledge (chaḷabhiññā) on account of the accomplishment of concentration.
The fulfillment of understanding (paññāsampatti) here is not concerned with the practice of mindfulness in the present alone; according to the Visuddhimagga Mahāṭīkā, it is the understanding related to the practice in the past and to the association with wise teachers, skill in dialects, learning, and inquiry and so on. This will be further discussed in the issue connected with the conditions conducive to the purification of catupaṭisambhidā.
6. 2. Causes Leading to Purification of Catupaṭisambhidā
As once said above, though the fourfold analytical knowledge has been attained, they are not the same in different persons from the aspect of purity or manifestness. A Noble One who has attained the fourfold analytical knowledge, but not culminated in their most manifest qualities, may purify them by fulfilling the following conditions.
According to the Visuddhimagga and Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā, there are five causes or conditions that determine the quality of the fourfold analytical knowledge, they are:
1) Adhigama: Attainment
2) Pariyatti: Learning
3) Savana: Listening
4) Paripucchā: Questioning, and
5) Pubbayoga: Former practice
‘Attainment’ here means the attainment of Arahatta Path (Arahattappatti). Similarly, ‘learning’ refers to the learning of the Buddha’s Word (Buddhavacanassa pariyāpuṇanaṃ); it is the repeated learning of the Pāḷi Canon. ‘Listening’ is the listening of the Dhamma talks (Dhammasavanaṃ) or of the exposition of the meaning related to the Pāḷi Canon (tadatthasavanaṃ). ‘Questioning’ here refers to the discussion of difficult words and obscure sense of some knotty passages found in the Pāḷi Canon and its commentaries. ‘Former practice’ is the practice of meditation undertaken in the dispensations of former Buddhas (pubbabuddhānaṃ sāsane) or in the past life (atītabhāve). And the practice of meditation here refers to the practice of insight meditation (vipassanānuyogo) up to the vicinity of the knowledge of conformity and change-of-lineage (yāva anulomaṃ gotrabhusamīpaṃ), that is to say, up to the knowledge of equanimity towards formations (saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇaṃ), the highest knowledge arising in the cognitive process of the mundane path.
The Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā makes clear that the fourfold analytical knowledge becomes manifest when a Noble One attains the Arahatship. Likewise, they become manifest when he learns the Buddha’s Word, the Pāḷi Canon, when he listens respectfully to the talks on Dhamma, and when he discusses the meaning of the Pāḷi he has learned. They also become manifest in one who had developed insight knowledge in the past.
Of the five causes mentioned above, the attainment of Arahatship (adhigama) serves as both the cause for the purification of the fourfold analytical knowledge in a Stream-Winner (Sotāpanna), Once-Returner (Sakadāgāmi) and Non-Returner (Anāgāmi), and for that in an Arahant as well. The learning of Scriptures (pariyatti), the listening of the Dhamma talks (dhammasavana) and the discussion of knotty passages in Pāḷi (paripucchā) are the powerful causes for the analyticity of the fourfold analytical knowledge only, but not for the attainment of Arahatship (adhigama); it is the former practice (pubbayoga) that serves as the powerful cause of the attainment of Arahatship. The former practice also serve as the cause of the analyticity, but not as powerful as it is for the attainment of Arahatship.
According to the Vibhaṅga Anuṭīkā, ‘former practice’ is the powerful cause of the attainment of Arahatship, because for the attainment of Arahatship it is a natural cause (sabhāvahetubhāvato); whereas it is also the cause, but not powerful, of the analyticity, because for the analyticity it is not a natural cause (asabhāvahetutāya) i.e. a successive cause (paramparapaccayatāya). That means ‘former practice’ at first serves as a cause for the attainment of Arahatship, the attainment of Arahatship in turn serves as a cause of the analyticity. Without the former practice, there will be no attainment of Arahatship, and without attainment of Arahatship there will be no culmination of analyticity. Therefore, only when the former practice is combined with the attainment of Arahatship, it becomes the powerful cause of the analyticity. That is why it is said ‘dvepi ekato hutvā paṭisambhidā upatthambhetvā visadā karontīti’ i.e. ‘two of them when combined support the fourfold analytical knowledge and make them manifest’.
Thus, we have just discussed the five causes leading to the purification of the fourfold analytical knowledge as given in the Visuddhimagga and Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā. The following eight conditions are made known in the Visuddhimagga, but not in the Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā; and Buddhaghosa Thera in the Visuddhimagga acknowledges that these conditions are proposed by others, but not by him. The eight conditions are as follows:
1) Pubbayoga: Former practice,
2) Bāhusacca: Great erudition,
3) Desabhāsā: Dialects,
4) Āgama: Scriptures,
5) Paripucchā: Inquiry,
6) Adhigama: Attainment,
7) Garusannissaya: Association with teachers,
8) Mittasampatti: Acquisition of good friends.
‘Former practice’ (pubbayoga) as explained above is the practice up to the knowledge of equanimity towards formations (saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇa). ‘Great erudition’ (bāhusacca) is the dexterity in some science (satthesu) and craft (sippāyatanesu). The Visuddhimagga Mahāṭīkā explains that ‘some science and craft’ here means some expertise which bring about welfare, success and faultlessness to beings. ‘Dialects’ (desabhāsā) is the proficiency in the dialects of hundred-and-one kings in the ancient time, especially in the dialect of Magadha. ‘Scriptures’ (āgama) here means the mastery of the Buddha’s Word, even only a chapter of similes (opammavaggamattassapi). The Visuddhimagga Mahāṭīkā (II. 84) makes known that according to some scholars, ‘a chapter of similes’ (opammavagga) refers to the Chapter of Twin Verses in the Dhammapada (Dhp. 1-20), and as to others, it refers to the Book of Pairs in the First Fifty Suttas of Majjhima Nikāya (M. Suttas 31-40). ‘Inquiry’ (paripucchā) here infers to the asking and examining of the meaning of even a stanza. ‘Attainment’ (adhigama) here, unlike the aforesaid one, implies to the state of Stream-Enterer, of Once-Returner, of Non-Returner or of Arahant. ‘Association with teachers’ (garusannissaya) means ‘living with very learned intelligent teachers’. And ‘acquisition of good friends’ (mittasampatti) is the getting of friends whose qualifications are similar to those of teachers.
It is quite clear to see that the set of five conditions mentioned earlier and the present set of eight conditions are comparatively different from the aspect of both quantity and quality. Concerning the aspect of quantity, the condition ‘savana, listening to Dhamma talks’ in the first set is not present in the second; while the conditions—‘bāhusacca, great erudition’, ‘desabhāsā, proficiency in dialects’, ‘garusannissaya, association with teachers’ and ‘mittasampatti, acquisition of good friends’—in the second set are not found in the first one. The condition ‘pariyatti, learning’ in the first set is relatively identical with ‘āgama, scriptures’ in the second; and the rest—‘adhigama, attainment’, ‘paripucchā, inquiry’ and ‘pubbayoga, former practice’—exist in both. With reference to the aspect of quality, the conditions in the first set are more distinctive than those of the second. For instance, the condition ‘adhigama, attainment’ in the first set implies to the achievement of Arahatship, the highest supra-mundane Path, while that in the second infers to any one of the four Paths.
This comparative investigation eventually suggests that the five conditions of the first set mentioned in the Visuddhimagga and Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā are the conditions leading to the purification of the fourfold analytical knowledge, because they are highly distinctive; whereas the eight conditions of the second set proposed by other scholars in the Visuddhimagga are the conditions conducive to the attainment of the knowledge, since they are fairly general. This assertion is also verified at the very beginning by the same treatises. With respect to the five conditions in the first set, the Visuddhimagga and Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā use respectively the phrases ‘pañcahākārehi visadā honti’ and ‘pañcahi kāraṇehi paṭisambhidā visadā honti”, that mean ‘the five conditions by which the fourfold analytical knowledge becomes purified’. Whereas, with reference to the eight conditions in the second set, other scholars in the Visuddhimagga use the phrase ‘paṭisambhidāpaccayā’ i.e. ‘the conditions (for the attainment) of the fourfold analytical knowledge’.
6. 3. Catupaṭisambhidā and Paccavekkhaṇañāṇa
To those who are informed with the study of vipassanā, the fourfold analytical knowledge, particularly the analytical knowledge of result (atthapaṭisambhidā) and the analytical knowledge of cause (dhammapaṭisambhidā), is likely identical with the reviewing knowledge (paccavekkhaṇañāṇa). As a matter of fact, they have something in common as well as something in diverse. To see the fact, it is essential to have in mind a brief glimpse of the reviewing knowledge.
What is called the reviewing knowledge is the reflection undertaken by the disciples, soon after they attained each of the four supra-mundane Fruitions (lokuttaraphala). The disciples classified into the three classes of Trainers (sekkha)—Stream-Enters, Once-Returners and Non-Returners—reflect on the Path (Magga), Fruition (Phala), Nibbāna, defilements abandoned (pahīnakilesa), and defilements still remaining (avasiṭṭhakilesa). The disciples who are Non-trainers (asekkha), the Arahants, however, reflect on the first four, but not the last one because they have no more defilement. It is also said that the Trainers may or may not reflect on the defilements abandoned and those still remaining. Thus, there are a maximum of nineteen types of reflection: five each for each class of the Trainers, and four for Arahants. Each type of reflection is termed ‘knowledge’, and ‘knowledge’ again is named after the action taken, hence ‘reflecting knowledge’ or ‘reviewing knowledge’ (paccavekkhaṇañāṇa). In others words, there are altogether nineteen types of reviewing knowledge that have as objects the Path, Fruition, Nibbāna and defilements, whether abandoned or remaining.
The brief glimpse of the reviewing knowledge described above is enough to give a necessary clue. That the analytical knowledge of result taking the Fruition, Nibbāna and unwholesome phenomena as objects, and the reviewing knowledge taking also the Fruition, Nibbāna and defilements as objects, have two things in common. Firstly, they have the same objects as aforesaid. Secondly, they arise only in Noble Ones (Ariya) both Sekkha and Asekkha, not in worldlings (puthujjana). Nevertheless, they also have something diverse that is, the reviewing knowledge taking Nibbāna as object arises only in the four sense-sphere wholesome cittas and four sense-sphere inoperative cittas, which are associated with knowledge, whereas the analytical knowledge of result taking the same object arises in both those cittas and the four-path and four-fruition cittas (catūsu maggesu catūsu phalesu ca uppajjati).
Similarly, the analytical knowledge of cause making the Path its object and the reviewing knowledge making the same its object have two things in common. One is, they have the same object, and they arise only in Noble Ones (Sekkha and Asekkha), but not in worldlings; and the other is, they both occur in the four sense-sphere wholesome cittas and four sense-sphere inoperative cittas, which are associated with knowledge.
 A. II. 422
 “The internally constricted mind is the mind with sloth-and-torpor” (Ajjhattaṃ saṃkhittaṃ nāma thinamiddhānugataṃ) [AA. III. 163]
 “The externally distracted mind is the mind distracted by five kinds of sense-pleasure” (Bahiddhā vikkhittaṃ nāma pañcasu kāmaguṇesu vikkhittaṃ) [AA. III. 163]
 “The sign means the cause” (Nimittanti kāraṇaṃ) [AA. III. 163]
 A. II. 423
 “Paññāya paṭisambhidāpabhedassa upanissayo pakāsito hoti. Paññāsampattiñhi nissāya catasso paṭisambhidā pāpuṇāti” [Vsm. I. 5]
 DhsA. 24–25; DA. I. 22; VA. I. 20
 D. II. 230f; M. I. 69f
 “Pubbenivāsānussatiñāṇaṃ vijjā, sattānaṃ cutūpapāteñāṇaṃ vijjā, āsavānaṃ khayeñāṇaṃ vijjā” [D. III. 184]
 Iddhividhañaṇa (knowledge of magical power), dibbasotañāṇa (knowledge of divine ear), cetopariyañāṇa (knowledge of the minds of others), pubbenivāsānussatiñāṇa (knowledge of remembrance of past existences), dibbacakkhuñāṇa (knowledge of divine eye) and āsavakkhayañāṇa (knowledge of extinction of cankers) [D. I. 73f]
 DhsA. 24–25; VA. I. 20
 VsmṬ. I. 19
 Vsm. II. 72
 VbhA. 372
 Vsm. II. 72
 VsmṬ. II. 84
 VbhA. 372; Vsm. II. 72; VsmṬ. II. 84
 VbhA. 372
 VbhMlṭ. 193; VsmṬ. II. 84–85
 “Pabhedasseva balavakāraṇāni” [VbhA. 373]
 “Pariyattiyādīnaṃ adhigamassa balavapaccayattābhāvaṃ” [VbhMlṭ. 193]
 VbhA. 373
 VbhAnuṭ. 194
 “Adhigamasahitoyeva pubbayogo pabhedassa balavapaccayo” [VbhAnuṭ. 194]
 VbhA. 373
 “Satthesūti anavajjesu sattānaṃ hitasukhāvahesu ganthesu. Tathā sippāyatanesūti etthāpi” [VsmṬ. II. 84]
 “Desabhāsā nāma ekasatavohārakusalatā. Visesena pana Māgadhike kosallaṃ” [Vsm. II. 72]; “Pubbakāle ekasatarājūnaṃ desabhāsā ekasatavohārā” [VsmṬ. II. 84]
 “Ekagāthāyapi atthavinicchayapucchanaṃ” [Vsm. II. 72]
 “Adhigamo nāma Sotāpannatā vā ...pe... Arahattaṃ vā”
 Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli (trans.), The Path of Purification, p. 488
 Vsm. II. 72
 VbhA. 372
 Vsm. II. 72
 VbhA. 319
Sincere thanks to Bhikkhu Kusalagunna for making this digital version available (Binh Anson, December 2005)
last updated: 303-12-2005