Visuddhimagga (the pah of purification)

by Ñāṇamoli Bhikkhu | 1956 | 420,758 words | ISBN-10: 9552400236 | ISBN-13: 9789552400236

This page describes The Taste of the Noble Fruit of the section The Benefits in Developing Understanding 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.

3. Not only the removal of the various defilements but also the experience of the taste of the noble fruit is a benefit of the development of understanding. [699]

For it is the fruitions of stream-entry, etc.—the fruits of asceticism—that are called the “noble fruit.” Its taste is experienced in two ways, that is to say, in its occurrence in the cognitive series of the path, and in its occurrence in the attainment of fruition. Of these, only its occurrence in the cognitive series of the path has been shown (XXII.3f.).

4. Furthermore, when people say that the fruit is the mere abandoning of fetters[1] and nothing more than that, the following sutta can be cited in order to convince them that they are wrong: “How is it that understanding of the tranquilizing of effort is knowledge of fruit? At the moment of the stream-entry path right view in the sense of seeing emerges from wrong view, and it emerges from the defilements and from the aggregates that occur consequent upon that [wrong view], and externally it emerges from all signs. Right view arises because of the tranquilizing of that effort. This is the fruit of the path” (Paṭis I 71), and this should be given in detail. Also such passages as, “The four paths and the four fruits—these states have a measureless object” (Dhs §1408), and, “An exalted state is a condition, as proximity condition, for a measureless state” (Paṭṭh II 227 (Be)), establish the meaning here.

5. However, in order to show how it occurs in the attainment of fruition there is the following set of questions:

  1. What is fruition attainment?
  2. Who attains it?
  3. Who do not attain it?
  4. Why do they attain it?
  5. How does its attainment come about?
  6. How is it made to last?
  7. How does the emergence from it come about?
  8. What is next to fruition?
  9. What is fruition next to?

6. Herein, (i) What is fruition attainment? It is absorption in the cessation in which the noble fruition consists.

(ii) Who attains it? (iii) Who do not attain it? No ordinary men attain it. Why? Because it is beyond their reach. But all Noble Ones attain it. Why? Because it is within their reach. But those who have reached a higher path do not attain a lower fruition because the state of each successive person is more tranquilized than the one below. And those who have only reached a lower path do not attain a higher fruition because it is beyond their reach. But each one attains his appropriate fruition. This is what has been agreed here.

7. But there are some who say that the stream-enterer and once-returner do not attain it, and that only the two above them attain it. The reason they give is that only these two show achievement in concentration. But that is no reason, since even the ordinary man attains such mundane concentration as is within his reach. But why argue here over what is and what is not a reason? Is it not said in the texts as follows?

“Which ten states of change-of-lineage arise [700] through insight?

“For the purpose of obtaining the stream-entry path it overcomes arising, occurrence … (etc., see XXII.5) … despair, and externally the sign of formations, thus it is change-of-lineage.

“For the purpose of attaining the stream-entry fruition …

“For the purpose of attaining the once-return path …

“For the purpose of attaining the once-return fruition …

“For the purpose of attaining the non-return path …

“For the purpose of attaining the non-return fruition …

“For the purpose of attaining the Arahant path …

“For the purpose of attaining the Arahant fruition …

“For the purpose of attaining the void abiding …

“For the purpose of attaining the signless abiding it overcomes arising, occurrence … (etc.) … despair, and externally the sign of formations, thus it is change-of-lineage” (Paṭis I 68).[2] From that it must be concluded that all Noble Ones attain each their own fruit.

8. (iv) Why do they attain it? For the purpose of abiding in bliss here and now. For just as a king experiences royal bliss and a deity experiences divine bliss, so too the Noble Ones think, “We shall experience the noble supramundane bliss,” and after deciding on the duration, they attain the attainment of fruition whenever they choose.[3]

9. (v) How does its attainment come about? (vi) How is it made to last? (vii) How does the emergence from it come about?

(v) In the first place its attainment comes about for two reasons: with not bringing to mind any object other than Nibbāna, and with bringing Nibbāna to mind, according as it is said: “Friend, there are two conditions for the attainment of the signless mind-deliverance;they are the non-bringing to mind of all signs, and the bringing to mind of the signless element” (M I 296).

10. Now, the process of attaining it is as follows. A noble disciple who seeks the attainment of fruition should go into solitary retreat. He should see formations with insight according to rise and fall and so on. When that insight has progressed [as far as conformity], then comes change-of-lineage knowledge with formations as its object.[4] And immediately next to it consciousness becomes absorbed in cessation with the attainment of fruition. And here it is only fruition, not path, that arises even in a trainer, because his tendency is to fruition attainment.

11. But there are those[5] who say that when a stream-enterer embarks on insight, thinking, “I shall attain fruition attainment,” he becomes a once-returner, and a once-returner, a non-returner. They should be told: “In that case a non-returner becomes an Arahant and an Arahant, a Paccekabuddha and a Paccekabuddha, a Buddha. For that reason, and because it is contradicted as well by the text quoted above, none of that should be accepted. Only this should be accepted: fruition itself, not path, arises also in the trainer. And if the path he has arrived at had the first jhāna, his fruition will have the first jhāna too when it arises. If the path has the second, so will the fruition. And so with the other jhānas.” This, firstly, is how attaining comes about. [701]

12. (vi) It is made to last in three ways, because of the words: “Friend, there are three conditions for the persistence of the signless mind-deliverance: they are the non-bringing to mind of all signs, the bringing to mind of the signless element, and the prior volition” (M I 296–97). Herein, the prior volition is the predetermining of the time before attaining;[6] for it is by determining it thus, “I shall emerge at such a time,” that it lasts until that time comes. This is how it is made to last.

13. (vii) Emergence from it comes about in two ways, because of the words: “Friend, there are two conditions for the emergence from the signless minddeliverance: they are the bringing to mind of all signs, and the non-bringing to mind of the signless element” (M I 297). Herein, of all signs means the sign of materiality, sign of feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness. Of course, a man does not bring all those to mind at once, but this is said in order to include all. So the emergence from the attainment of fruition comes about in him when he brings to mind whatever is the object of the life-continuum.[7]

14. (viii) What is next to fruition? (ix) What is fruition next to? In the first case (viii) either fruition itself is next to fruition or the life-continuum is next to it. But (ix) there is fruition that is (a) next to the path, (b) there is that next to fruition, (c) there is that next to change-of-lineage, and (d) there is that next to the base consisting of neither perception nor non-perception.

Herein, (a) it is next to the path in the cognitive series of the path. (b) Each one that is subsequent to a previous one is next to fruition. (c) Each first one in the attainments of fruition is next to change-of-lineage. And conformity should be understood here as “change-of-lineage”; for this is said in the Paṭṭhāna: “In the Arahant, conformity is a condition, as proximity condition, for fruition attainment. In trainers, conformity is a condition, as proximity condition, for fruition attainment” (Paṭṭh I 159). (d) The fruition by means of which there is emergence from the attainment of cessation is next to the base consisting of neither perception non-perception.

15. Herein, all except the fruition that arises in the cognitive series of the path occur as fruition attainment. So whether it arises in the cognitive series of the path or in fruition attainment:

Asceticism’s fruit sublime,
Which tranquilizes all distress,
Its beauty from the Deathless draws,
Its calm from lack of worldliness. [702]

Of a sweet purifying bliss
It is the fountainhead besides,
Whose honey-sweet ambrosia
A deathless sustenance provides.

Now, if a wise man cultivates
His understanding, he shall know
This peerless bliss, which is the taste
The noble fruit provides; and so

This is the reason why they call
Experience here and now aright
Of flavour of the noble fruit
A blessing of fulfilled insight.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

“It is the Andhakas, etc., who maintain this; for they take the sutta wrongly which says, ‘“Arahantship” is said, friend Sāriputta; what is Arahantship?—The destruction of greed, the destruction of hate, the destruction of delusion: that is what is called Arahantship” (S IV 252), taking it literally and asserting that nothing exists called Arahantship and that it is only the abandoning of defilements that is so called by common usage. And they deny that there are any other fruitions” (Vism-mhṭ 891).

[2]:

The quotation in the Vism texts does not quite agree with the Paṭis text (Ee) where (as the sense demands) the words “bahiddhā saṅkhāranimittaṃ” do not follow the four fruitions and the two abidings but only the four paths.

[3]:

“Although they are resultant states, nevertheless the states of fruition attainment occur in the noble person only when he chooses since they do not arise without the preliminary work and do so only when they are given predominance” (Vism-mhṭ 895).

[4]:

“Why does change-of-lineage not have Nibbāna as its object here as it does when it precedes the path? Because states belonging to fruition are not associated with an outlet [as in the case of the path]. For this is said: ‘What states are an outlet? The four unincluded paths’ (Dhs §1592)” (Vism-mhṭ 895).

[5]:

“Those of the Abhayagiri Monastery in Anurādhapura” (Vism-mhṭ 895).

[6]:

“The ‘volition’ is attaining after deciding the time limit in this way, ‘When the moon, or the sun, has gone so far, I shall emerge,’ which is an act of volition” (Vism-mhṭ 897).

[7]:

“It is because he is called ‘emerged from attainment’ as soon as the life-continuum consciousness has arisen that ‘he brings to mind that which is the object of the life-continuum’ is said. Kamma, etc., are called the object of the life-continuum (see Ch. XVII, §133ff.)” (Vism-mhṭ 897).

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