Visuddhimagga (the pah of purification)

by Ñāṇamoli Bhikkhu | 1956 | 388,207 words | ISBN-10: 9552400236 | ISBN-13: 9789552400236

This page describes Change-of-Lineage, Paths, and Fruits of the section Purification by Knowledge and Vision (ñāṇadassana-visuddhi-niddesa) of Part 3 Understanding (Paññā) of the English translation of the Visuddhimagga (‘the path of purification’) which represents a detailled Buddhist meditation manual, covering all the essential teachings of Buddha as taught in the Pali Tipitaka. It was compiled Buddhaghosa around the 5th Century.

1. [672] Change-of-lineage knowledge comes next. Its position is to advert to the path, and so it belongs neither to purification by knowledge and vision of the way nor to purification by knowledge and vision, but being intermediate, it is unassignable. Still it is reckoned as insight because it falls in line with insight.

2. Purification by knowledge and vision properly consists in knowledge of the four paths, that is to say, the path of stream-entry, the path of once-return, the path of non-return, and the path of Arahantship.

[The First Path—First Noble Person]

3. Herein, nothing further needs to be done by one who wants to achieve, firstly, the knowledge of the first path. For what he needs to do has already been done by arousing the insight that ends in conformity knowledge.

4. As soon as conformity knowledge has arisen in him in this way, and the thick murk that hides the truths has been dispelled by the respective force peculiar to each of the three kinds of conformity (see XXI.129f.), then his consciousness no longer enters into or settles down on or resolves upon any field of formations at all, or clings, cleaves or clutches on to it, but retreats, retracts and recoils as water does from a lotus leaf, and every sign as object, every occurrence as object, appears as an impediment.

5. Then, while every sign and occurrence appears to him as an impediment, when conformity knowledge’s repetition has ended, change-of-lineage knowledge arises in him, which takes as its object the signless, nonoccurrence, non-formation, cessation, Nibbāna,—which knowledge passes out of the lineage, the category, the plane, of the ordinary man and enters the lineage, the category, the plane, of the Noble Ones,—which, being the first adverting, the first concern, the first reaction, to Nibbāna as object, fulfils the state of a condition for the path in six ways, as proximity, [673] contiguity, repetition, decisive-support, absence, and disappearance conditions,—which is the culminating peak of insight,—which is irrevocable,—of which it is said:

“How is it that understanding of emergence and turning away from the external[1] is change-of-lineage knowledge?

“It overcomes arising, thus it is change-of-lineage. It overcomes occurrence … [the sign … accumulation … rebirth-linking … destiny … generation … rearising … birth … ageing … sickness … death … sorrow … lamentation … ]. It overcomes despair, thus it is change-of-lineage. It overcomes the sign of formations externally, thus it is change-of-lineage.

“It enters into[2] non-arising, thus it is change-of-lineage. It enters into nonoccurrence, thus it is change-of-lineage … (etc.) … It enters into non-despair, thus it is change-of-lineage. It enters into cessation, Nibbāna, thus it is changeof-lineage.

“Having overcome arising, it enters into non-arising, thus it is change-oflineage …” (Paṭis I 56) and so on, all of which should be quoted.

6. Here is a simile that illustrates how conformity and change-of-lineage occur with different objects though occurring in a single cognitive series with a single adverting. Suppose a man wanted to leap across a broad stream and establish himself on the opposite bank, he would run fast, and seizing a rope fastened to the branch of a tree on the stream’s near bank and hanging down, or a pole, he would leap with his body tending, inclining and leaning towards the opposite bank, and when he had arrived above the opposite bank, he would let go, fall on to the opposite bank, staggering first and then steady himself there; so too this meditator, who wants to establish himself on Nibbāna, the bank opposite to the kinds of becoming, generation, destiny, station, and abode, runs fast by means of the contemplation of rise and fall, etc., and seizing with conformity’s adverting to impermanence, pain or not-self the rope of materiality fastened to the branch of his selfhood and hanging down, or one among the poles beginning with feeling, he leaps with the first conformity consciousness without letting go and with the second he tends, inclines and leans towards Nibbāna, like the body that was tending, inclining and leaning towards the opposite bank; then, being with the third next to Nibbāna, which is now attainable, like the other’s arriving above the opposite bank, he lets go that information as object with the ceasing of that consciousness, and with the change-of-lineage consciousness he falls on to the unformed Nibbāna, the bank opposite; but staggering, as the man did, for lack of [previous] repetition, he is not yet properly steady on the single object. After that he is steadied by path knowledge.

7. Herein, conformity is able to dispel the murk of defilements that conceals the truths, but is unable to make Nibbāna its object. Change-of-lineage is only able to make Nibbāna its object, but it is unable to dispel the murk that conceals the truths.

8. Here is a simile: [674] A man with eyes went out at night, it seems, to find out the conjunction of the stars, and he looked up to see the moon. It was invisible because it was concealed by clouds. Then a wind sprang up and blew away the thick clouds; another blew away the medium clouds; and another blew away the fine clouds as well. Then the man saw the moon in the sky free from clouds, and he found out the conjunction of the stars.

9. Herein, the thick, medium and fine kinds of darkness that conceal the truths are like the three kinds of cloud. The three kinds of conformity consciousness are like the three winds. Change-of-lineage knowledge is like the man with eyes. Nibbāna is like the moon. The dispelling of the murk that conceals the truths by each kind of conformity consciousness is like the successive blowing away of the clouds by each wind. Change-of-lineage knowledge’s seeing the clear Nibbāna when the murk that concealed the truths has disappeared is like the man’s seeing the clear moon in the sky free from cloud.

10. Just as the three winds are able only to blow away the clouds that conceal the moon but cannot see the moon, so the three kinds of conformity are able only to dispel the murk that conceals the truths but cannot see Nibbāna. Just as the man can only see the moon but cannot blow away the clouds, so change-oflineage knowledge can only see Nibbāna but cannot dispel the defilements. Hence it is called “adverting to the path.”

11. For although it is not adverting, it occupies the position of adverting; and then, after, as it were, giving a sign to the path to come into being, it ceases. And without pausing after the sign given by that the change-of-lineage knowledge, the path follows upon it in uninterrupted continuity, and as it comes into being it pierces and explodes the mass of greed, the mass of hate, and the mass of delusion never pierced and exploded before (cf. Paṭis II 20).

12. Here is a simile for this. An archer, it seems, had a target[3] set up at a distance of eight usabhas (about 100 yards), and wrapping his face in a cloth and arming himself with an arrow, he stood on a wheel contrivance (a revolving platform). Another man turned the wheel contrivance, and when the target was opposite the archer, he gave him a sign with a stick. Without pausing after the sign the archer shot the arrow and hit the target.

13. Herein, change-of-lineage knowledge is like the sign with the stick. Path knowledge is like the archer. Path knowledge’s [675] making Nibbāna its object without pausing after the sign given by change-of-lineage, and its piercing and exploding the mass of greed, hate and delusion never pierced and exploded before, is like the archer’s hitting the target without pausing after the sign.

14. And not only does it cause the piercing of this mass of greed, etc., but it also dries up the ocean of suffering of the round in the beginningless round of rebirths. It closes all doors to the states of loss. It provides actual experience of the seven noble treasures.[4] It abandons the eightfold wrong path. It allays all enmity and fear.[5] It leads to the state of the Fully Enlightened One’s breast-born son (see S II 221). And it leads to the acquisition of many hundred other blessings. So it is the knowledge associated with the path of stream-entry, the provider of many hundred blessings, that is called knowledge of the path of stream-entry.

The first kind of knowledge is ended.

[The First Fruition—Second Noble Person]

15. Immediately next to that knowledge, however, there arise either two or three fruition consciousnesses, which are its result. For it is owing to this very fact that supramundane profitable [consciousness] results immediately that it is said, “And which he called the concentration with immediate result” (Sn 226), and “Sluggishly he reaches what has immediate result for the destruction of the cankers” (A II 149), and so on.

16. Some, however, say that there are one, two, three, four, or five fruition consciousnesses. That is inadmissible. For change-of-lineage knowledge arises at the end of conformity’s repetition, so at the minimum there must be two conformity consciousnesses, since one alone does not act as repetition condition. And a single series of impulsions has a maximum of seven [impulsion] consciousnesses. Consequently, that series which has two conformities and change-of-lineage as a third and path consciousness as fourth has three fruition consciousnesses. That which has three conformities and change-of-lineage as fourth and path consciousness as fifth has two fruition consciousnesses. That is why it was said above, “There arise either two or three fruition consciousnesses.”

17. Then some say that which has four conformities and change-of-lineage as fifth and path consciousness as sixth has one fruition consciousness. But that is refuted because it is the fourth or fifth [impulsion] that reaches [the path], not those after that, owing to their nearness to the life-continuum (see IV.75). So that cannot be accepted as correct. [676]

18. And at this point this stream-enterer is called the second noble person. However negligent he may be, he is bound to make an end of suffering when he has travelled and traversed the round of rebirths among deities and human beings for the seventh time.

19. At the end of the fruition his consciousness enters the life-continuum. After that, it arises as mind-door adverting interrupting the life-continuum for the purpose of reviewing the path. When that has ceased, seven impulsions of path reviewing arise. After re-entry into the life-continuum, adverting, etc., arise again in the same way for the purpose of reviewing fruition, and so on. With the arising of these he reviews the path, he reviews the fruition, he reviews the defilements abandoned, he reviews the defilements still remaining, and he reviews Nibbāna.

20. He reviews the path in this way, “So this is the path I have come by.” Next he reviews the fruition after that in this way, “This is the blessing I have obtained.” Next he reviews the defilements that have been abandoned, “These are the defilements abandoned in me.” Next he reviews the defilements still to be eliminated by the three higher paths, “These are the defilements still remaining in me.” And lastly he reviews the deathless Nibbāna in this way, “This is the state (dhamma) that has been penetrated by me as object.” So the noble disciple who is a stream-enterer has five kinds of reviewing.

21. And as in the case of the stream-enterer, so also in the cases of the oncereturner and non-returner. But the Arahant has no reviewing of remaining defilements. So all the kinds of reviewing total nineteen. This is the maximum number. Trainers may or may not have the reviewing of the defilements abandoned and those still remaining. In fact it was owing to the absence of such reviewing that Mahānāma asked the Blessed One, “What state is there still unabandoned by me internally owing to which at times states of greed invade my mind and remain?” (M I 91) all of which should be quoted.

[The Second Path—Third Noble Person]

22. However, after reviewing in this way, either while sitting in the same session or on another occasion, the noble disciple who is a stream-enterer makes it his task to reach the second plane by attenuating both greed for sense desires and ill-will. He brings to bear the faculties,[6] the powers, and the enlightenment factors, and he works over and turns up that same field of formations, classed as materiality, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, with the knowledge that they are impermanent, painful, not-self, and he embarks upon the progressive series of insights.

23. When he has [677] done so, and when, at the end of equanimity about formations, conformity and change-of-lineage[7] knowledge have arisen in a single adverting in the way already described, then the path of once-return arises next to change-of-lineage. The knowledge associated with that is knowledge of the path of once-return.

The second kind of knowledge is ended.

[The Second Fruition—Fourth Noble Person]

24. The fruition consciousness should be understood to follow immediately upon this knowledge in the same way as before. And at this point this oncereturner is called the fourth noble person. He is bound to make an end of suffering after returning once to this world. Next there comes reviewing in the way already described.

[The Third Path—Fifth Noble Person]

25. Now, after reviewing in this way, either while sitting in the same session or on another occasion, this noble disciple who is a once-returner makes it his task to reach the third plane by abandoning, without remainder, both greed for the sense desires and ill-will. He brings to bear the faculties, the powers, and the enlightenment factors, and he works over and turns up that same field of formations with the knowledge that they are impermanent, painful, not-self, and he embarks upon the progressive series of insights.

26. When he has done so, and when, at the end of equanimity about formations, conformity and change-of-lineage have arisen in a single adverting in the way already described, then the path of non-return arises next to change-of-lineage. The knowledge associated with that is knowledge of the path of non-return.

The third kind of knowledge is ended.

[The Third Fruition—Sixth Noble Person]

27. The fruition consciousnesses should be understood to follow immediately upon this knowledge in the same way as before. And at this point this nonreturner is called the sixth noble person. [After death] he reappears apparitionally [elsewhere] and attains complete extinction there without ever returning, without ever coming to this world again through rebirth-linking. Next there comes reviewing in the way already described.

[The Fourth Path—Seventh Noble Person]

28. Now, after reviewing in this way, either while sitting in the same session or on another occasion, this noble disciple who is a non-returner makes it his task to reach the fourth plane by abandoning, without remainder, greed for the finematerial and immaterial, conceit (pride), agitation, and ignorance. He brings to bear the faculties, the powers, and the enlightenment factors, and he works over [678] and turns up that same field of formations with the knowledge that they are impermanent, painful, not-self, and he embarks upon the progressive series of insights.

29. When he has done so, and when, at the end of equanimity about formations, conformity and change-of-lineage have arisen in a single adverting, then the path of Arahantship arises next to change-of-lineage. The knowledge associated with that is knowledge of the path of Arahantship.

The fourth kind of knowledge is ended.

[The Fourth Fruition—Eighth Noble Person]

30. The fruition consciousness should be understood to follow immediately upon this knowledge in the same way as before. And at this point this Arahant is called the eighth noble person. He is one of the Great Ones with cankers destroyed, he bears this last body, he has laid down the burden, reached his goal and destroyed the fetter of becoming, he is rightly liberated with [final] knowledge and worthy of the highest offering of the world with its deities.

31. So when it was said above, “However, purification by knowledge and vision properly consists in knowledge of the four paths, that is to say, the path of stream-entry, the path of once-return, the path of non-return, and the path of Arahantship” (§2), that referred to these four kinds of knowledge to be reached in this order.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

“‘Of emerging and turning away from the external’: it is the understanding of turning away that is being effected, which turning away is emergence from the field of formations; it is termed external because the unformed element’s existence is external” (Vism-mhṭ 866). The unformed element (=Nibbāna) is classed as “external” under the internal (ajjhattika) triad of the Abhidhamma Mātikā (see Dhs 2 and p. 241).

[2]:

Pakkhandati—“enters into is glossed there by anupavisati (enters in Vism-mhṭ (p. 566), which is the sense required and may be taken as based on the idiom in the Suttas, “Cittaṃ pakkhandati pasīdati santiṭṭhati adhimuccati—the mind enters into [that], becomes settled, steady and resolute” (M I 186), which is obviously inappropriate here.

[3]:

Phalakasataṃ—“target”: not in PED. Vism-mhṭ says “Phalakasatan ti asana-sāramayaṃ phalakasataṃ—a “phalakasata” is one made of the heart (pith) of the asana tree.” The “wheel contrivance” resembles a potter’s wheel according to Vism-mhṭ (p.867).

[4]:

The seven (noble) treasures are: faith, virtue, conscience, shame, learning, generosity, and understanding (D III 251).

[5]:

See the five kinds of enmity and fear at S II 68f. Vism-mhṭ, however, says: “The five kinds of enmity beginning with killing living things and the twenty-five great terrors (mahā-bhayāni) are what constitute ‘all enmity and fear’” (Vism-mhṭ 867).

[6]:

For the use of the expression “brings to bear”—samodhāneti in this sense see Paṭis I 181.

[7]:

“Here ‘change-of-lineage’ means ‘like change-of-lineage’; for the knowledge that ushers in the [first] path is called that in the literal sense because it overcomes the ordinary man’s lineage and develops the Noble One’s lineage. But this is called ‘change-of-lineage’ figuratively because of its similarity to the other. It is also called ‘cleansing’ (vodāna) because it purifies from certain defilements and because it makes absolute purification its object. Hence it is said in the Paṭṭhāna, ‘Conformity is a condition, as proximity condition, for cleansing’ (Paṭṭh I 59). But ‘next to change-of-lineage’ is said here because it is said in the Paṭisambhidāmagga that for the purpose of ‘overcoming arising,’ etc., ‘eight states of change-of-lineage arise through concentration’ and ‘ten states of change-of-lineage arise through concentration’ and ‘ten states of change-of-lineage arise through insight’ (Paṭis I 68–69), and it is given in the same way in this page” (Vism-mhṭ 869).

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