Introduction 3.7.0 Proceeding Further on the Path - the Wholesome Base of Sīla is only a Precondition!

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.7.0 Right Effort – Sīlalakkhaṇapañho 

Proceeding Further on the Path - the Wholesome Base of Sīla is only a Precondition!


Yo panattamano1 hoti, sīlasampattiyā idha;

Kammaṭṭhānānuyogamhi, na uppādeti mānasaṃ.

Tuṭṭhassa sīlamattena, aghaṭantassa2 uttari;

Tassa taṃ ṭhitibhāgiyaṃ3, sīlaṃ bhavati bhikkhuno.


Sampannasīlo ghaṭati, samādhatthāya4 yo pana;

Visesabhāgiyaṃ5 sīlaṃ, hoti etassa bhikkhuno.

Atuṭṭho sīlamattena, nibbidaṃ yonuyuñjati6;

Hoti nibbedhabhāgiyaṃ7, sīlametassa bhikkhunoti8.



Someone who, delighted with the base of sīla that he has attained,

Never rouses his mind further to engage in the practise of meditation,

Satisfied with one’s moral standards he does not engage himself to further progress,

Such sīla carries the characteristic of being conducive to stagnation.


But who, endowed in sīla, strives, with concentration for his aim,

That Bhikkhu’s sīla in its function is conducive to distinction.

Who feels dissatisfied with practising only sīla and engages himself to weariness of the worldly life as well,

Through such an aspiration sīla gains the quality of being conducive to insight.

     Walking the path of Dhamma demands continuous steps forward - it knows no stagnation or any standstill; there is no place for self-contentment! The above quotation from the Visuddhimagga communicates a sincere warning that ongoing efforts are advised!

     This chapter chooses selected texts to highlight sammāvāyāmo and enters thus into the last section of the pathsamādhi-khanda. It will not fully satisfy a serious follower of the Buddha’s teaching having achieved a necessary, wholesome base of sīla! He will feel the urge to proceed acquiring and developing the missing constituents of the Path: sammāvāyāmo, sammāsati and sammāsamādhi!

     For such a person more is required than just leading a purified life – it is the demand towards a meditator to dedicatedly pursue the practise of paṭipatti! Whatever theoretically consents to ‘what one ought to do’, whatever he may appreciate as the theory of pariyatti – to really fully benefit from the path requests applied realisation of paṭivedha. This naturally commands effort, determination, perseverance and purpose: Consequently and regularly on a daily base one needs to retire from the world, relax on one’s cushion, close one’s eyes to face and work with all inner mental impediments one may encounter to achieve mental calm:


Uṭṭhahatha nisīdatha, daḷhaṃ sikkhatha santiyā;

Mā vo pamatte viññāya9, maccurājā amohayittha10 vasānuge.11


Arise! You should sit up! Perseveringly train yourselves towards peace!

May not the King of Death catch you negligent!

He could delude you and bring you under his control!


     The selected words from the Buddha hope to render support with such a wholesome dedication - yet the first indroducing text, a quotation from the Milindapañho, is chosen to support the essence of the openiong stanzas and once more to inspire to self-reflection and to arouse energy to walk further!

     But it is also selected to re-introduce the reader to this inspiring book12, the Milindapañho, a later addition to the Pāli-canon which is generally arranged in the Khuddakanikāyo13. The Milindapañho covers a wide field of questions, queries, ‘dilemmas’ and conundrums regarding the teaching of the Buddha. These are presented as questions raised by King Milinda to his counterpart, the Venerable Nagasena, an Arahant, who solves all doubts satisfactory by using similes and counter questions - demonstrating wisdom and wide knowledge. It is said that both, in their previous existence during the Buddha Kassapa had taken a respective vow at the shores of the Gaṅgā to attain Nibbana - listening to the sound of its waves14. While the future King Milinda expressed his wish: “May I be ready in saying the correct thing instantly and carry all before me like this flow of waves!” the coming to be Venerable Nagasena expressed the following desire: “May I be able to solve promptly all questions put to me and to explain in thorough replies!”

     Before King Milinda finally encountered the Venerable Nagasena, the historical narrative describes the unfulfilled spiritual quest of King Milinda – similar to the tale of the restless King of Māgadhaṃ; Ajātasattu in the Sāmaññaphalasutta – who visits all kind of ascetics to get his questions replied. Only when he finally approaches the Venerable Nagasena and his disciples, King Milinda gets filled with fear as he feels that now he has found his master:

…… “Na tādisaṃ bhayaṃ āsi, ajja tāso yathā mama.

Nissaṃsayaṃ15 parājayo, mama ajja bhavissati;

Jayo ca nāgasenassa, yathā cittaṃ na saṇṭhita’’nti.


……There hasn’t been such fear to me, as I do experience it today

Certainly I will encounter defeat this day

Victory will be for Nagasena, as my mind in not composed at all.”


     Even so King Milinda expresses such fear of being defeated as if it were a combat; the conversation proves all the characteristics of a congruent dialogue where controversies are solved in a peaceful manner without any polemic challenges. The manifold similes do satisfy King Milinda who expresses his happiness as a rule with the words that conclude the respective conundrum and generally lead to the next: ‘‘Acchariyaṃ, bhante nāgasena, abbhutaṃ, bhante nāgasena, aticitrāni16 pañhapaṭibhānāni visajjitāni, yadi buddho tiṭṭheyya sādhukāraṃ dadeyya, sādhu sādhu nāgasena, aticitrāni pañhapaṭibhānāni visajjitānī’’ti. – “Wonderful, Bhante Nāgasena, extraordinary, Bhante Nāgasena! Your prompt replies are splendid! If the Buddha was still here he would approve. Well said, well said, Nāgasena, your prompt replies are splendid!”


     In the present example Venerable Nagasena emphasizes that it is the characterisitc quality of sīla, that sīla is the foothold, the base of all the wholesome states:patiṭṭhānalakkhaṇaṃ sīlaṃ sabbesaṃ kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ.’ Nagasena uses the following vast compound which points to all the necessary qualities[17] that need to be achieved in order to reach the final goal: indriyabalabojjhaṅgamaggaṅgasatipaṭṭhānasammappadhānaiddhipādajhānavimokkhasamādhisamāpattīnaṃ:

· indriyabala - mastery over the sense-faculties (5): saddhābalaṃ,  vīriyabalaṃ,  satibalaṃ,  samādhibalaṃ, paññābalaṃ / (saddhindriyaṃ, vīriyindriyaṃ, satindriyaṃ, samādhindriyaṃ, paññindriyaṃ)

· bojjhaṅga - factors of enlightenment (7): satisambojjhaṅgassa dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgassa  viriyasambojjhaṅgassa  pītisambojjhaṅgassa passadhisambojjhaṅgassa samādhisambojjhaṅgassa upekkhāsambojjhaṅgassa

· maggaṅga - constituents of the path: ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo, seyyathidaṃ– sammādiṭṭhi sammāsaṅkappo sammāvācā sammākammanto sammā-ājīvo sammāvāyāmo sammāsati sammāsamādhi

· satipaṭṭhāna - establishment of awareness (4): kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, citte cittānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ.

· sammappadhāna - right endeavours (4): saṃvarappadhānaṃ, pahānappadhānaṃ, bhāvanāppadhānaṃ, anurakkhaṇāppadhānaṃ

· iddhipāda - psychic powers (4): chandasamādhipadhānasaṅkhārasamannāgataṃ iddhipādaṃ, vīriyasamādhipadhānasaṅkhārasamannāgataṃ iddhipādaṃ, cittasamādhipadhānasaṅkhārasamannāgataṃ iddhipādaṃ …  vīmaṃsāsamādhipadhānasaṅkhārasamannāgataṃ  iddhipādaṃ18.

· jhāna - states of absorbtion (4): paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ - vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ; dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ - vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ;  tatiyaṃ jhānaṃ: pītiyā ca virāgā upekkhako ca viharati, sato ca sampajāno, sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedeti, yaṃ taṃ ariyā ācikkhanti ‘upekkhako satimā sukhavihārī’ti; catutthaṃ jhānaṃ - sukhassa ca pahānā dukkhassa ca pahānā pubbeva somanassadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamā adukkhamasukhaṃ upekkhāsatipārisuddhiṃ.

· vimokkha – deliverance (8): rūpī rūpāni passati; ajjhattaṃ arūpasaññī, bahiddhā rūpāni passati, subhanteva adhimutto hoti, sabbaso rūpasaññānaṃ samatikkamā paṭighasaññānaṃ atthaṅgamā nānattasaññānaṃ amanasikārā ‘ananto ākāso’ti ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati, sabbaso ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ samatikkamma ‘anantaṃ viññāṇa’nti viññāṇañcāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati; sabbaso viññāṇañcāyatanaṃ samatikkamma ‘natthi kiñcī’ti ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati; sabbaso ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ samatikkamma nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ upasampajja viharati; sabbaso nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ samatikkamma saññāvedayitanirodhaṃ upasampajja viharati19.

· samādhi – concentration (4): see jhāna

· samāpatti - final attainment (9): paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ, dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ, tatiyaṃ jhānaṃ, catutthaṃ jhānaṃ, ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ, viññāṇañcāyatanaṃ, ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ, nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ, saññāvedayitanirodho20.


The way to final attainment starts with sīla which paves the Path – may many get encouraged to walk it!


1. panattamano: pana + attamano: further + joy, delighted

2. aghaṭantassa: a + ghaṭantassa (gen.): not + applying

3. ṭhitibhāgiyaṃ: ṭhiti + bhāgiyaṃ: stability, duration + conducive to, partaking of

4. samādhatthāya: samādhi + atthāya (dat.): concentration + goal

5. visesabhāgiyaṃ: visesa + bhāgiyaṃ: distinction + conducive to, partaking of

6. yonuyuñjati: yo + anuyuñjati: who engages in, practises

7. nibbedhabhāgiyaṃ: nibbedha + bhāgiyaṃ: penetration, insight + conducive to, partaking of

8. Sīlappabhedakathā, Visuddhimaggo

9. viññāya: vijānāti (ger.): perceive, understand, discern

10. amohayittha: muyhati - moheti (caus.; aor.; deceive, bewilder, delude

11. Uṭṭhānasuttaṃ, Cūḷavaggo, Suttanipātapāḷi, Khuddakanikāye

12. See previous examples of the interesting dialogue between King Milinda and the Venerable Nagasena at: 1.3.2 - Orimatīrasuttaṃ - The Hither and the Further Shore;

2.1.1. Kesamuttisuttaṃ - 1: - Don‘t Believe in Tradition, in Hearsay, in Teachers but your own Experience, understanding what is unwholesome;

2.1.7 Paṭhamapaṭipadāsuttaṃ - How to Walk the Path Correctly and

3.1.5 Paṭhamaparisuddhasuttaṃ - Perfectly Pure-1

13. Even so experts suggest that the date of this inspiring text is of late origination - around 150 B.C., - it is a highly appreciated text among the Pāli-books. King Milinda is identified with Greek King Menader, who’s predecessor King Demetrius ruled a vast kingdom including Punjab and Gandhara at around 189-167B.C.

14. Kacavaraṃ chaḍḍetvā nahānatthāya gaṅgātitthaṃ gato gaṅgāya ūmivegaṃ gaggarāyamānaṃ disvā ‘‘yāvāhaṃ nibbānaṃ pāpuṇāmi, etthantare nibbattanibbattaṭṭhāne ayaṃ ūmivego viya ṭhānuppattikapaṭibhāno bhaveyyaṃ akkhayapaṭibhāno’’ti dutiyampi patthanaṃ paṭṭhapesi. Sopi bhikkhu sammajjanisālāya sammajjaniṃ ṭhapetvā nahānatthāya gaṅgātitthaṃ gacchanto sāmaṇerassa patthanaṃ sutvā ‘‘esa mayā payojitopi tāva evaṃ pattheti, mayhaṃ kiṃ na samijjhissatī’’ti cintetvā ‘‘yāvāhaṃ nibbānaṃ pāpuṇāmi etthantare nibbattanibbattaṭṭhāne ayaṃ gaṅgāūmivego viya akkhayapaṭibhāno bhaveyyaṃ, iminā pucchitapucchitaṃ sabbaṃ pañhapaṭibhānaṃ vijaṭetuṃ nibbeṭhetuṃ samattho bhaveyya’’nti patthanaṃ paṭṭhapesi.

15. nissaṃsayaṃ: ni + s + saṃsaya: not + doubt

16. aticitra: ati + citra: splendid, exceptional

17. The following also constitute the 37 bodhipakkhiyadhamma: indriyabalabojjhaṅgamaggaṅgasatipaṭṭhānasammappadhānaiddhipāda

18. chandasamādhipadhānasaṅkhārasamannāgataṃ iddhipādaṃ translated literal as: psychic power of concentration of zeal, intention, dedication endowed with endeavour and volitional effort. Likewise the other three iddhipāda should be translated.

The meaning is that through zeal, energy, consciousness or respectively investigation achievment of concentration is acquired through endeavour and volitional effort.

19. Vimokkhasuttaṃ, Bhūmicālavaggo, Dutiyapaṇṇāsakaṃ, Aṭṭhakanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo

20. Yāni ca kho imāni, bhikkhave, nissāya dve āyatanāni – nevasaññānāsaññāyatanasamāpatti ca saññāvedayitanirodho ca, jhāyīhete, bhikkhave, samāpattikusalehi samāpattivuṭṭhānakusalehi samāpajjitvā vuṭṭhahitvā sammā akkhātabbānīti vadāmī’’ti. – I say, those two spheres, Bhikkhus, the atttainment of the shpere of neither-perception nor non-perception and the  cessation of perception and sensation should be made well known by those who are skilled in the attainment thereof, who are skilled in emerging thereof and who are skilled in both, the attainment and emerging! (Jhānasuttaṃ, Mahāvaggo, Paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, Navakanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo)


Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.7.0

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Last modified: Tuesday, 9 August 2022, 7:13 PM