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Requisites of Enlightenment

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw



Beings who encounter a Buddha Sàsana have to set up Purification of Virtue (sìla-visuddhi) first and then strive to acquire the Requisites of Enlightenment (bodhipakkhiya-dhamma), in order to enter the Stream of the Noble Ones (ariya-sota).

I shall now give a brief description of how the practice should be undertaken.

The practice of the seven Purifications (satta visuddhi) amounts to practising the Bodhipakkhiya Dhammà.

In particular, the Purification of Mind (citta-visuddhi) concerns only persons who follow the way of Tranquillity practice (samatha) [1].

The "Purification of Knowledge and Vision of What Is and What Is Not Path" (maggàmagga-nànadassana-visuddhi) concerns only those highly conceited (or self-deceiving) persons (adhimànika) [2] who think that they have attained to the Holy Paths and the Fruits although they have no such attainment.

The Purification of Virtue, the Purification by Overcoming Doubt, the Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way, the supramundane Purification by Knowledge and Vision, -- these apply to many different types of persons.

Of these five Purifications, that of Virtue has been dealt with in the Chapter on the Path Factors, under the Sìla category. It consists of keeping the "Precepts that have Right Livelihood as the eighth" (àjìvatthamaka-sìla).

Purification of Mind (citta-visuddhi) may be undertaken by practicing mindful Body Contemplation (kàyagatà-sati). For that purpose, some take up Mindful-ness on Breathing (ànàpàna sati); and generally, it may be said that if attention can rest on the out-and-in-breath whenever one wishes and in whatever the bodily posture may be, then mindful Body Contemplation is established. Some persons practise that Contemplation by way of the four postures of the body (iriyàpatha), in accordance with the text (Satipatthàna Sutta): "When going, he is aware ‘I am going’" , etc. Others take up "Clear Comprehension" (sati-sampajanna) of bodily activities (see Satipatthàna Sutta). Others, again practise Body Contemplation by attention to the 32 parts of the body. The first five are hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, and are called taca-pancaka, the skin-pentad. If attention can be firmly and steadily placed on these parts at will, in whatever bodily posture, Body Contemplation is established. Attention can also be directed to the bones of the body. Body Contemplation will be established if attention can be steadily and firmly placed on the bones of the head (skull). If, from the beginning, the physical and mental processes (nàma-rùpa) connected with the body (its functions and the attention given to all these processes) can be analytically discerned, and if attention to such work is firm and steady, the work of Body Contemplation is accomplished. This gives concisely the method of mindful Body Contemplation.

The work of Purification of View (ditthi-visuddhi) can be considered accomplished if the six elements (dhàtu; see Note 1, page 97) can be analytically perceived.

In the work of the Purification by Overcoming Doubt (kankhàvitarana-visuddhi), if the causes for the appearance of the six elements mentioned above, can be clearly perceived, it is accomplished. It must be clearly perceived that the causes for the appearance of pathavi, àpo, tejo, vàyo and àkàsa are Kamma, consciousness (citta), temperature (utu) and nutriment (àhàra) [3], and that the causes for the appearance of the six types of consciousness (citta; eye-consciousness, etc.) are the corresponding six objects of perception.

By the "Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way" (patipadà-nànadassana-visuldhi) is meant the three characteristics of Impermanence, Suffering and Not-self. If these three are clearly perceived in the six elements mentioned above, this Purification is attained.

The supramundane Purification by Knowledge and Vision (lokuttara-nànadassana-visuddlii) consists of the knowledge pertaining to the four Holy Paths (of Stream-entry, etc.; magga-nàna).

This shows concisely the five (middle) Purifications.


[1] According to the Visuddhi Magga, also Access Concentration (upacàra-samàdhi) is included in citta-visuddhi. It is this quality of concentration that is required for insight meditation. - (Ed.)

[2] See the kindred term adhimànika, explained in The Wheel 61/62, page 43 (Note 3 to the Discourse on Effacement). - (Ed.)

[3] See "Manual of Insight" (Wheel 31/32), p. 47


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Sincere thanks to Mr. Sunanda Pham Kim Khanh for supplying this electronic copy
(Binh Anson, 05-2002)

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updated: 11-05-2002