Teaching Buddha Teaching Buddha

Enlightenment Practices

As Found in the Pali Suttas

Traditionally the are 84,000 Dharma Doors - 84,000 ways to get Enlightened. Maybe so; certainly the Buddha taught a large number of practices that lead to Enlightenment. This web page attempts to catalogue those found in the Pali Suttas (DN, MN, SN, AN, Ud & Sn 1). There are 3 sections:

    

Enlightenment in the context used on this web page refers to Full Enlightenment, Nibbana, 4th Stage, Total Liberation.
The Sutta translations from the Pali are by Thanissaro Bhikkhu unless otherwise noted.

General Practices

The Buddha

From MN 36 (The Longer Discourse to Saccaka):

Excerpt from MN 36:

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then -- quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities -- I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then, following on that memory, came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, ....'

"So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then [the Buddha enters each of the four jhanas]. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives.... This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings.... "This was the second knowledge I attained in the second watch of the night.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the ending of the mental fermentations. I discerned, as it was actually present, that 'This is dukkha...This is the origination of dukkha...This is the cessation of dukkha...This is the way leading to the cessation of dukkha...These are fermentations...This is the origination of fermentations...This is the cessation of fermentations...This is the way leading to the cessation of fermentations.' My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"This was the third knowledge I attained in the third watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose -- as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain."

See also MN 26 (The Noble Search):

"The thought occurred to me, 'Why do I, being subject myself to birth, seek what is likewise subject to birth? Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, why do I seek what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement? What if I, being subject myself to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, were to seek the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding? What if I, being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, seeing the drawbacks of aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, were to seek the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less,, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding?'"

See also MN 85 which combines the stories from MN 26 and MN 36. This sutta (as well as several others) also mentions the five factors of striving:

  1. Faith
  2. Free from Illness and Affliction, possessing a good digestion
  3. Honest and Sincere, shows oneself as one actually is
  4. Energetic in abandoning unwholesome states and undertaking wholesome states
  5. Wise, possessing wisdom regarding rise and disappearance

See also SN 12.65 (the discovery of Dependent Origination):

"The thought occurred to me, 'I have attained this path to awakening, i. e. , from the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media. From the cessation of the six sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging. From the cessation of clinging comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Thus is the cessation of this entire mass of stress. Cessation, cessation. ' Vision arose, clear knowing arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before."

In DN 14 we have an account of a previous Buddha, Vipassi, reaching Buddhahood via the discovery of Dependent Origination. (The bit on the 5 aggregates in 2.21 seems to be a later addition.)

See also MN 19 (Two Kinds of Thought)

Prior to his Enlightenment, the Buddha divided his thoughts in to two classes. This practice ensures that the "inclination of his awareness" generated is that which is helpful for Enlightenment.

"Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with sensuality, abandoning thinking imbued with renunciation, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with sensuality. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with non-ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmfulness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmlessness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmfulness.

"Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with renunciation, abandoning thinking imbued with sensuality, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with renunciation. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with non-ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with non-ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmlessness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmfulness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmlessness."

See also MN 4 for more on the Buddha's practices prior to his Enlightenment.

See also Samyutta Nikaya 22.26:

"It occurred to me: 'The pleasure & joy that arises dependent on form: that is the gratification (allure) of form. The fact that form is inconstant, dukkha, subject to change: that is the danger in form. The removal & abandonment of desire & passion for form: that is the escape from form.' [and similarly for vedana, perceptions, mental formations & consciousness.].... When I directly knew all this as it really is, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect Enlightenment...."

See also Samyutta Nikaya 22.27 for a similar teaching.

The Ennobling Eightfold Path

Samyutta Nikaya 56.11, Samyutta Nikaya 45.8, many other places including a whole book on the Ennobling Eightfold Path in the Samyutta Nikaya: SN 45

The Eightfold Path is of course the major statement of the practices leading to Enlightenment. See Samyutta Nikaya 45.8 for details.

The Gradual Training

The Gradual Training appears in numerous suttas and is the most complete description of the sequence of practices leading to Enlightenment. The most interesting (and complete) version is given in DN 2:

The Gradual Training also appears (sometimes in abbreviated form) in DN 3 - 13; MN 27, 38, 51, 53; AN 5.76 and other suttas as well.

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

DN 22 and MN 10 - plus a whole book on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness in the Samyutta Nikaya: SN 47

This is the most famous set of practices and these two (almost identical) suttas end with a guarantee of Enlightenment, or at least 3 stage:

"Now, if anyone would develop these four foundations of mindfulness in this way for seven years, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or -- if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance -- non-return. Let alone seven years.... Let alone half a month. If anyone would develop these four foundations of mindfulness in this way for seven days, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or -- if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance -- non-return."

The suttas contain, in some detail, 21 practices of mindfulness spread of four domains (or foundations):

  1. Mindfulness of the Body
  2. Mindfulness of Breathing
  3. Mindfulness of the Postures
  4. Mindfulness of Bodily Activities
  5. Mindfulness of the 31 Parts of the Body (the brain is not included in the original list)
  6. Mindfulness of the Four Elements
  7. - 14. Mindfulness of the Stages of Decay of a Corpse

  8. Mindfulness of Vedana (initial reaction to a sense input)
  9. Mindfulness Pleasant, Unpleasant or Neutral Reactions to Sensory Input

  10. Mindfulness of Citta
  11. Mindfulness of Mind States

  12. Mindfulness of Phenomena
  13. Mindfulness of the Hindrances
  14. Mindfulness of the Five Khandas (aggregates) and their arising and passing
  15. Mindfulness of the Six Sense and any fetter that arises dependent on a sense input
  16. Mindfulness of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment
  17. Mindfulness of the Four Ennobling Truths

Mindfulness of Breathing

MN 118

Mindfulness of Breathing outlines 16 steps or lessons for paying attention to the breathing. These 16 steps "bring the four foundations of mindfulness to their culmination." The four foundations of mindfulness generate the first of the seven factors of Enlightenment, which then generates the second, etc. And one develops each Enlightenment factor "as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in relinquishment."

Mindfulness of Breathing occurs in many suttas, MN 118 being the most detailed and famous. There is a whole book on Mindfulness of Breathing in the Samyutta Nikaya: SN 54.

The Five Aggregates (khanda)

MN 109 and many other suttas, including a whole book on the Five Aggregates in the Samyutta Nikaya: SN 22.

These Five Aggregates

are to be seen thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' They are to be seen as not under my control and also to be seen as impermanent, dukkha and therefore not self.

Seven factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga)

SN 46.1 and many other suttas, including a whole book on the Seven factors of Enlightenment in the Samyutta Nikaya: SN 46.

These are not specific practices like those found above, but are factors to be cultivated while practicing:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Investigation of Phenomena
  3. Energy
  4. Rapture (piti)
  5. Tranquility
  6. Concentration
  7. Equanimity
There is also the teaching of the 37 Factors of Enlightenment which appears in many suttas as well (e.g. DN 29 17, SN 22.81).

Transcendental Dependent Origination

SN 12.23 - The Upanisa Sutta

Again, this is not a list of practices but a description of the progress towards Enlightenment:

  1. -  12. The standard 12 links of Dependent Origination, ending with Dukkha
  2. Faith (or Confidence)
  3. Pamojja (Worldly Joy)
  4. Piti (Rapture)
  5. Passaddhi (Tranquility)
  6. Sukha (Happiness or Spiritual Joy)
  7. Samadhi (Concentration or Non-distractedness)
  8. The knowledge and vision of things as they really are
  9. Disenchantment
  10. Dispassion
  11. Liberation (Emancipation, Release)
  12. Knowing and seeing "Such is material form, such is the arising of material form, such is the passing away of material form. Such is feeling... perception... mental formations... consciousness; such is the arising of consciousness, such is the passing away of consciousness"
  13. The destruction of the asavas (fermentations, corruptions, lit. "outflows")

The list is shortened in many suttas (e.g. DN 9) to

Majjhima Nikaya 121

The Shorter Discourse on Voidness indicates one progress thru the 4 higher jhanas, then one attends to the singleness dependent on the signless concentration of mind. One understands "This signless concentration of mind [in which there is only this modicum of disturbance: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.] is conditioned and volitionally produced. But whatever is conditioned and volitionally produced is impermanent, subject to cessation." When one knows and sees thus, one is liberated from the taints.

Majjhima Nikaya 152

In the Discourse on the Development of the Faculties, the Buddha teaches "the unexcelled development of the [sense] faculties.... [W]hen [sensing] a [sense object] with the [sense organ], there arises in one what is agreeable, what is disagreeable, what is agreeable & disagreeable. One discerns that 'This agreeable thing has arisen in me, this disagreeable thing...this agreeable & disagreeable thing has arisen in me. And that is compounded, gross, dependently co-arisen. But this is peaceful, this is exquisite, i.e., equanimity.' With that, the arisen agreeable thing...disagreeable thing...agreeable & disagreeable thing ceases, and equanimity takes its stance."

Samyutta Nikaya 1.1

"When I struggled, I was whirled about. When I stopped, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without struggling, without stopping."

Samyutta Nikaya 22.55

The Buddha exclaims (and explains) "'It should not be, it should not occur to me (should not be mine); it will not be, it will not occur to me (will not be mine)': a monk set on this would break the [five] lower fetters." Further, when asked about total liberation, he teaches "If one abandons passion for the property of [an aggregate], then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no base for consciousness. Consciousness, thus unestablished, not proliferating, not performing any function, is released. Owing to its release, it stands still. Owing to its stillness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, one is totally unbound right within."

Samyutta Nikaya 43

Book 43 of the Samyutta Nikaya indicates that practicing each of the 37 Factors of Enlightenment can lead to Enlightenment. Not much detail is given in these obviously later suttas; the main interesting thing in this collection is the 32 names for Nibbana.

The Fours Bases for Spiritual Power

Samyutta Nikaya 51

Book 51 discusses the 4 bases for spiritual power and often indicates their development and cultivation leads to Enlightenment - see for example SN 51.18.

No I-making, mine-making or conceit

AN 3.32

"thus one should train oneself: 'I shall not entertain any I-making, mine-making or underlying tendency to conceit in regard to this conscious body or to all external objects....'"

Balance Concentration, Energy and Equanimity

AN 3.100

If one properly balances concentration, energy and equanimity, the mind becomes pliant, lucid, wieldy and is well concentrated for the destruction of the asavas.

The Metta Sutta

Sutta Nipata I.8

The famous Metta Sutta ends with 4 qualities to be developed:

  1. By not holding to fixed views,
  2. The pure-hearted one,
  3. having clarity of vision,
  4. Being freed from all sense desires,
which results in that one [Note: #3 above seems to be the result of #2, but any development of clear vision would definitely be an advantage on the spiritual path.]


Practices Taught to a Specific Individual

Many, but not all, of the following were taught after someone came to the Buddha and requested "It would be good, venerable sir, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief such that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute."

Sariputta

MN 111

Entering each of the 8 Jhanas, Sariputta analyzed the factors and saw "the past qualities that had ceased & changed: 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He understood, 'There is a further escape,' and pursuing it, he confirmed that 'There is.'"

He then entered the state of cessation of feeling & perception. "Seeing with discernment, his fermentations were totally ended. He emerged mindfully from that attainment. On emerging mindfully from that attainment, he regarded the past qualities that had ceased & changed: 'So this is how these qualities, not having been, come into play. Having been, they vanish.' He remained unattracted & unrepelled with regard to those qualities, independent, detached, released, dissociated, with an awareness rid of barriers. He understood, 'There is no further escape,' and pursuing it, he confirmed that 'There isn't.'"

However, see below for a different story of Sariputta's Enlightenment. See also AN 4.172.

Mahamoggallana

SN 21.1

As part of Mahamoggallana's practice during the week it took him to become Enlightened, the Buddha instructed him (psychically!) to practice Noble Silence which is a name for the 2nd Jhana. [This would indicate that the commentarial explanation of vitakka and vicara as initial and sustained attention to the meditation subject, has no real basis in the sutta use of these words in relation to the jhanas.]

AN 7.58

Moggallana asks "Briefly, lord, in what respect is a monk released through the ending of craving..." and the Buddha answers "Here, Moggallana, a monk has learned this: 'Nothing is fit to be clung to.' Having heard that all things are unworthy of attachment, he fully knows all things. Fully knowing all things, he fully comprehends all things. Fully comprehending all things, then whatever feeling he experiences -- pleasure, pain, neither pleasure nor pain -- he remains focused on anicca, focused on dispassion, focused on cessation, focused on relinquishing with regard to that feeling. As he remains focused on inconstancy, focused on dispassion, focused on cessation, focused on relinquishing with regard to that feeling, he is unsustained by (does not cling to) anything in the world. Unsustained, he is not agitated. Unagitated, he is unbound right within."

Mahapajapati Gotami

AN 8.53

"Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may definitely hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may definitely hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

[This sutta does not indicate that Mahapajapati Gotami became Enlightened, however we know she did from other sources so these instructions are included.]

Mahakassapa

SN 16.11

"Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: 'I will arouse a keen sense of shame and fear of wrongdoing towards elders, the newly ordained and those of middle status.'
"Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: 'I will listen to the Dhamma with eager ears, attending to it as a matter of vital concern, applying my whole mind to it.'
"Therefore, Kassapa, you should train yourself thus: 'I will never relinquish mindfulness directed to the body connected with joy.'"

Anuruddha

AN 8.30

the Blessed One said to him, "Good, Anuruddha, very good. It's good that you think these thoughts of a great person: 'This Dhamma is for one who is modest, not for one who is self-aggrandizing. This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent. This Dhamma is for one who is reclusive, not for one who is entangled. This Dhamma is for one whose persistence is aroused, not for one who is lazy. This Dhamma is for one whose mindfulness is established, not for one whose mindfulness is confused. This Dhamma is for one whose mind is centered, not for one whose mind is uncentered. This Dhamma is for one endowed with discernment, not for one whose discernment is weak.' Now then, Anuruddha, think the eighth thought of a great person: 'This Dhamma is for one who enjoys non-proliferation, who delights in non-proliferation, not for one who enjoys & delights in proliferation (papañca).'

AN 3.131

Sariputta tells Anuruddha "Friend Anuruddha, when you think: 'With the divine eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, I survey a thousandfold world system,' this is your conceit. (2) And when you think: 'Energy is aroused in me without slackening; my mindfulness is established without confusion; my body is tranquil without disturbance; my mind is concentrated and one-pointed,' this is your restlessness. (3) And when you think: 'Yet my mind is still not liberated from the taints through non-clinging,' this is your remorse. It would be good if you would abandon these three qualities and stop attending to them. Instead, direct your mind to the deathless element." Some time later the Venerable Anuruddha abandoned those three qualities and stopped attending to them. Instead, he directed his mind to the deathless element.

Upali

AN 7.80

"Upali, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities do not lead to utter disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, nor to Unbinding': You may definitely hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to utter disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding': You may definitely hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

[This sutta does not indicate that Upali became Enlightened, however we know he did from other sources so these instructions are included. See also AN 10.99 where Upali is taught the Gradual Training.]

Vacchagotta

MN 73

Vacchagotta practiced the gradual training: serenity and insight, the supernormal powers, and entered and abided in deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom.

Bahiya of the bark-cloth

Ud I.10 (Translated from the Pali by John D. Ireland)

When Bahiya of the bark-cloth approached the Buddha and asked for teachings, the Buddha recognized him by his bark clothing as a follower of one of the early Upanishads which teaches "The unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker, the uncognized cognizer... There is no other seer but he, no other hearer, no other thinker, no other cognizer. This is thy self, the inner controller, the immortal..." (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 3.7.23).

So the Buddha taught him: "Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.' In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya.

"When, Bahiya, for you in the seen is merely what is seen... in the cognized is merely what is cognized, then, Bahiya, you will not be 'with that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'with that,' then, Bahiya, you will not be 'in that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'in that,' then, Bahiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of dukkha."

Punna

MN 145 (this sutta also occurs at SN 35.88)

If one delights, welcomes and remains holding to sense objects that are wished for, desired, agreeable and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust, then there is the arising of delight. With the arising of delight, there is the arising of dukkha. But if one does not delight, welcome and remain holding to such sense objects, delight ceases. With the ceasing of delight is the ceasing of dukkha.

A Certain Bhikkhu (1)

SN 22.35

"If one stays obsessed with [an aggregate], then one is reckoned in terms of it. But if one doesn't stay obsessed with [an aggregate], then one is not reckoned in terms of it."

A Certain Bhikkhu (2)

SN 22.36

"If one stays obsessed with [an aggregate], then that's what one is measured by. Whatever one is measured by, that's how one is classified.. But if one doesn't stay obsessed with [an aggregate], then that is not what one is measured by. Whatever one isn't measured by, that is not how one is classified."

A Certain Bhikkhu

SN 22.63 - 65

"In clinging/conceiving/seeking-delight in the 5 aggregates, one is bound by Mara; in not clinging/conceiving/seeking-delight in the aggregates, one is freed from the Evil One."

A Certain Bhikkhu

SN 22.66 - 70

"You should abandon desire for that which is impermanent/dukkha/nonself/does-not-belong-to-a-self/appears-tantalizing, i.e. abandon desire for each of the 5 aggregates."

Radha

SN 22.71

Any kind of [aggregate], past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near - one sees it as it really is with correct wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.'

Suradha

SN 22.72

Any kind of [aggregate], past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near - having seen it as it really is with correct wisdom thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self,' one is liberated by nonclinging.

Migajala

SN 35.64 [see also SN 35.63 which is very similar]

"Now, there are [sense objects] cognizable via [a sense organ] -- agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. If one does not seek delight in them, welcome them, or remain fastened to them, delight ceases. With the cessation of delight, comes the cessation of dukkha."

Bahiya

SN 35.89

[This is obviously not the famous Bahiya of the bark-cloth from the Udana.] He is to see the 6 senses & 6 sense objects as "Anicca and Dukkha" and thus not fitting "to regard as 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?".

Malunkyaputta

SN 35.95

He is given the same advice as the famous Bahiya of the bark-cloth - "you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; ...."

AN 4.254

"There are, Māluṅkyāputta, these four sources of craving for a bhikkhu. What four? Craving arises in a bhikkhu because of robes, almsfood, lodgings, or for the sake of life here or elsewhere. These are the four sources of craving for a bhikkhu. When, Māluṅkyāputta, a bhikkhu has abandoned craving, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising, he is called a bhikkhu who has cut off craving, stripped off the fetter, and by completely breaking through conceit, has made an end of dukkha."

[I wonder if these are two different monks with the same name whose stories have gotten conflated - most people don't become fully enlightened twice! Or is it one monk whose story has gotten split into two different (but not contradictory) accounts?]

A Certain Bhikkhu

SN 47.3

Purify virtue and view; then develop the 4 foundations of mindfulness in a 3-fold way: internally, externally and both internally & externally.

Bahiya

SN 47.15

[Yet another Bahiya, obviously not the famous Bahiya of the bark-cloth from the Udana.] Purify virtue and view; then develop the 4 foundations of mindfulness

Uttiya

SN 47.16

Purify virtue and view; then develop the 4 foundations of mindfulness

A Certain Bhikkhu

SN 47.46

Dwell restrained by the Patimokkha, accomplished in good conduct and proper resort, seeing danger in the slightest faults; then develop the 4 foundations of mindfulness

A Certain Bhikkhu

SN 47.47

Abandon bodily, verbal & mental misconduct, develop good bodily, verbal & mental conduct; then develop the 4 foundations of mindfulness

Pindola Bharadvaja

SN 48.49

Ven. Pindola Bharadvaja developed and cultivated the faculties of mindfulness, concentration and wisdom

A Certain Bhikkhu (AN 5.56)

AN 5.56

The Buddha advises "I will guard the doors of my sense faculties. I will know the right amount to eat. I will be intent to wakefulness, will gain insight into wholesome qualities and I will abide intent on development of mind in the enlightenment factors in the late and early hours of the night."

Sona

AN 6.55

"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune ('penetrate,' 'ferret out') the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."

A Certain Bhikkhu

AN 8.63

He practiced virtue, then he practiced the 4 brahma viharas & the four foundations of mindfulness as forms of concentration practice, mastered in terms of the levels of jhana.

Nanda

Ud 3.2

The Buddha's half-brother Nanda wants to leave the monkhood and return to lay life because he is longing for his fiancée, 'the loveliest girl in the land.' The Buddha takes him to the heaven of the Thirty-Three and shows him 500 pink footed nymphs, far surpassing the beauty of his fiancée, and promises Nanda he will obtain them if he practices hard. Nanda agrees to remain a monk, but word gets out that he is practicing for the sake of 'nymphs.' He is embarrassed, so practices even harder - and becomes Enlightened. Of course, he then has no desire for nymphs and releases the Buddha from his promise.

Nālaka

Snp 3.11

The nephew of Asita. When Asita realized that he would not live to see the Buddha, he sought out Nālaka and asked him to leave the world at once and become an ascetic and hold himself in readiness to profit by the Buddha's Enlightenment. After the Buddha's awakening, Nālaka asked the Buddha to teach him the way of the sage. The Buddha taught him: Be steadfast. Be firm. Practice even-mindedness. Abstain from sexual intercourse. Neither kill nor get others to kill. Moderate in food, having few wants, go to the forest, meditate at the foot of a tree. Be like a razor's edge. Neither be lazy in mind, nor have many thoughts. Be committed to taintlessness, independent, having the holy life as your aim. Train in solitude & the contemplative's task, Solitude is called sagacity.

Others

Listed below are suttas that indicate someone became Enlightened, but their practice is not clearly given:


Discourses Leading to Enlightenment

Altho these are not Enlightenment practices, they do provide very important topics for practice - thus this section is included. Notice that there are 10 discourses given by the Buddha that led to full Enlightenment, 2 by Sariputta, 1 by Khemaka, plus an additional discourse by the Buddha that led to the 3rd stage of Enlightenment.
  1. The Discourse on Not Self - seeing the 5 aggregates (khandas) as Anicca and Dukkha (impermanent, unreliable and unsatisfactory)
  2. The Fire Sermon - seeing the 6 senses and their objects as aflame with greed, hatred, delusion and Dukkha (unsatisfactory)
  3. Dighanaka Sutta - Sariputta becomes Enlightened thru insight into Vedana (feelings) - (but see also above)
  4. The Great Full-moon Night Discourse - understanding the 5 aggregates (khandas) and seeing them as Anicca and Dukkha (impermanent, unreliable and unsatisfactory)
  5. Rahula (the Buddha's son) - seeing the 6 senses and their objects as Anicca and Dukkha (impermanent, unreliable and unsatisfactory)
  6. Six Sets of Six - fully penetrating the 6 senses, their objects, sense consciousness, contact, vedana and ones reactions to the vedana
  7. Thirty Bhikkhus - which is more, the stream of blood you have shed when you were beheaded as you wandered thru samsara or the water in the great oceans?
  8. A sick, newly ordained bhikkhu - seeing the 6 senses, contact, vedana as Anicca and Dukkha (impermanent, unreliable and unsatisfactory)
  9. Dvayatanupassana Sutta - The Buddha teaches an early form of Dependent Origination; 60 monks become Enlightened.
  10. Aggikkhandopama Sutta - A later sutta that seeks to inculcate ethics via hell-fire and damnation.

  11. Yamaka - Sariputta teaches the 5 aggregates
  12. Bhaddiya - Sariputta instructs Bhaddiya who becomes Enlightened; perhaps by not focusing on 'I am this.'
  13. Khemaka - Khemaka teaches the 5 aggregates and he & 60 monks become Enlightened

  14. Pukkusati - and finally a discourse that led "only" to the 3rd stage of Enlightenment: the elements & foundations of enlightenment

The Discourse on Not Self

SN 22.59

The "2nd Discourse", given to the 5 ascetics. They are to see the 5 aggregates as not under ones control and as "Anicca and Dukkha" and thus not fitting "to regard as 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?".

The Fire Sermon

SN 35.28

The "3rd Discourse", given to 1000 fire worshipers. Each sense is aflame. Sense objects are aflame. Consciousness at each sense is aflame. Contact at each sense is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at each sense -- experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain -- that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

Seeing thus, one grows disenchanted with the each sense, disenchanted with sense objects, disenchanted with consciousness at each sense, disenchanted with contact at each sense. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at each sense, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: One grows disenchanted with that too. Disenchanted, one becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, one is fully released.

Dighanaka Sutta

MN 74

While silting behind the Buddha and fanning him, Sariputta hears a discourse given to his nephew, Long Nails:

"A pleasant vedana is inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing. A painful vedana is also inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing. A neither-pleasant-nor-painful vedana is also inconstant, fabricated, dependently co-arisen, subject to ending, subject to vanishing, fading, ceasing.

"Seeing this, an instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with pleasant vedana, disenchanted with painful vedana, disenchanted with neither-pleasant-nor-painful vedana. Disenchanted, he grows dispassionate. From dispassion, he is released. With release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' He discerns, 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

The thought occurred to [Sariputta], "Indeed, it seems that the Blessed One speaks to us of the abandoning of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge. Indeed, it seems that the One Well-gone speaks to us of the relinquishing of each of these mental qualities through direct knowledge." As Ven. Sariputta was reflecting thus, his mind was released from fermentations through not-clinging.

SN 12.32 is a followup - Sariputta declares his attainment of Enlightenment by answering the Buddha's questions about the elements of Dependent Origination from Birth back to Feeling (vedana). However, see above for a different story of Sariputta's Enlightenment. See also AN 4.172.

The Great Full-moon Night Discourse

MN 109   (this sutta also occurs at SN 22:82)

The Buddha explains the 5 aggregates in detail, pointing out the allure, its drawback and the escape from each: "Monk, whatever pleasure & joy arises dependent on [an aggregate]: that is the allure of [that aggregate]. The fact that [an aggregate] is anicca, dukkha, subject to change: that is the drawback of [that aggregate]. The subduing of desire & passion, the abandoning of desire & passion for [that aggregate]: that is the escape from [that aggregate]." The Buddha then repeats the teaching from SN 22.59 - The 2nd Discourse: Not Self. At the end of the discourse, 60 monks became Enlightened.

Rahula

MN 147 (this sutta also occurs at SN 35:121)

The Buddha's basic approach in this discourse to his son is to take a line of questioning that he usually applies to the five aggregates (see SN 22.59 - The 2nd Discourse: Not Self) and to apply it to the framework of the six senses and their objects as given in SN 35.28 (The 3rd Discourse: The Fire Sermon): seeing them as "Anicca and Dukkha" and thus not fitting "to regard as 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?". See also AN 4.177 - the Buddha teaches Rahula that each of the 4 elements is not me, not mine.

The Six Sets of Six

MN 148

"Dependent on the [sense organ] & [sense object] there arises consciousness at the [sense organ]. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. If, when touched by a feeling of pleasure, one does not relish it, welcome it, or remain fastened to it, then the underlying tendency to passion does not lie latent within one. If, when touched by a feeling of pain, one does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat ones breast or become distraught, then the underlying tendency to resistance does not lie latent within one. If, when touched by a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, & escape from that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie latent within one. That a person -- through abandoning the underlying tendency to passion with regard to a feeling of pleasure, through abolishing the underlying tendency to resistance with regard to a feeling of pain, through uprooting the underlying tendency to ignorance with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, through abandoning ignorance and giving rise to clear knowing -- would put an end to suffering & stress in the here & now: such a thing is possible." At the end of the discourse, 60 monks became Enlightened.

Thirty Bhikkhus

SN 15.13

"This samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not discerned of beings roaming and wandering on hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving. Which is more, the stream of blood you have shed when you were beheaded as you wandered thru samsara or the water in the great oceans? ... For along time you have been cows, buffalo, sheep, goats, deer chickens, pigs; burglars, highwaymen, adulterers and when you were beheaded, again & again, the stream of blood you shed was more than the water in the great oceans."

Yamaka

SN 22.85

Sariputta teaches the 5 aggregates to Yamaka to dissuade him of his view that an Enlightened one is annihilated upon dying. [Not all versions of the sutta indicated Yamaka became Enlightened.]

Khemaka

SN 22.89

Ven. Khemaka teaches the 5 aggregates. During his teaching, both he & 60 monks become Enlightened.

A sick, newly ordained bhikkhu

SN 35.75

The Buddha teaches a sick, newly ordained bhikkhu to see the 6 senses and any contact & vedana arising from them as Anicca and Dukkha.

Bhaddiya

Ud 7.1 & 7.2 (see also Ud 7.5)

Sariputta instructs Ven. Bhaddiya the Dwarf who becomes Enlightened; perhaps by not focusing on 'I am this.'

Dvayatanupassana Sutta

Snp 3.12

The Buddha teaches what appears to be an early form of Dependent Origination and 60 monks become Enlightened.

Aggikkhandopama Sutta

AN 7.68

A hell-fire and damnation talk to inculcate ethics in "one who is of poor conduct, an evil-minded one, a filthy doer of complete wickedness who acts in an underhand manner, who pretends to be a recluse yet is not a recluse, who pretends to lead the holy life yet does not lead the holy life, an inwardly-putrid, impure-natured one." 60 monks become Enlightened; 60 more throw up; 60 more abandoned the training and returned to the lower life. This sutta can hardly be considered a genuine utterance of the Buddha.

Pukkusati

MN 140 - The Exposition of the Elements

"A person has six elements, six bases of sensory contact, eighteen considerations, & four foundations [of enlightenment]. The tides of conceiving do not sweep over one who stands upon these [foundations]. And when tides of conceiving do not sweep over one, one is said to be a sage at peace. One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve the truth, cultivate relinquishment, and train for peace. This is the summary of the exposition of the six elements."


1. DN, MN, SN, AN, Ud & Sn are Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya, Anguttra Nikaya, Udana and Sutta Nipata. All of these are fully covered. The Therigatha (Verses of the Elder Nuns) and Theragatha (Verses of the Elder Monks) are not addressed here - they too contain information about Enlightenment practices, but summarizing their poetry is beyond the scope of this document; besides these should be read in full.


Suttas and Sutta Study Guides
Sutta Database
Access to Insight
MettaNet - Lanka public domain Tipitaka web site
Back to Leigh's Home Page Site Map                   Site Search 


Permalink http://leighb.com/epractices.htm [] Hosted by
Leigh Brasington / / Revised 09 Mar 14