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TAINTS

sava)

All the suttas below have parallels in Chinese, Sanskrit or Tibetan.

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The three taints are:
- Craving for sensual pleasure.
- Craving for existence.
- Ignorance.

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SEVEN KINDS OF PERSONS

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What kind of person is one liberated-by-wisdom? Here some person does not contact with the body and abide in those liberations that are peaceful and immaterial, transcending forms, but his taints are destroyed by his seeing with wisdom. This kind of person is called one liberated-by-wisdom. I do not say of such a bhikkhu that he still has work to do with diligence. Why is that? He has done his work with diligence; he is no more capable of being negligent.

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, puggalo paññāvimutto? Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo ye te santā vimokkhā atikkamma rūpe āruppā te na kāyena phusitvā viharati, paññāya cassa disvā āsavā parikkhīṇā honti. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, puggalo paññāvimutto. Imassapi kho ahaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno ‘na appamādena karaṇīyan’ti vadāmi. Taṃ kissa hetu? Kataṃ tassa appamādena. Abhabbo so pamajjituṃ.
MN 70
SN 35.134 
(see the other kinds of persons and liberations)

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Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu does not dwell devoted to development, even though such a wish as this might arise in him: ‘Oh, that my mind might be liberated from the taints by nonclinging!’ yet his mind is not liberated from the taints by nonclinging. For what reason? It should be said: because of nondevelopment. Because of not developing what? Because of not developing the four establishments of mindfulness … the four right strivings … the four bases for spiritual power … the five spiritual faculties … the five powers … the seven factors of enlightenment … the Noble Eightfold Path.
SN 22.101

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DESTRUCTION OF THE TAINTS
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“Bhikkhus, there are these three taints. What three? The taint of sensuality, the taint of existence, the taint of ignorance. These are the three taints. The Noble Eightfold Path is to be developed for direct knowledge of these three taints, for the full understanding of them, for their utter destruction, for their abandoning.”
Tayome, bhikkhave, āsavā. Katame tayo? Kāmāsavo, bhavāsavo, avijjāsavo—ime kho, bhikkhave, tayo āsavā. Imesaṃ kho, bhikkhave, tiṇṇannaṃ āsavānaṃ abhiññāya pariññāya parikkhayāya pahānāya … pe … ayaṃ ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo bhāvetabbo”ti.
SN 45.163

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Taints (defilements) should be known. The cause of taints… The diversity in taints… The result of taints… The cessation of taints… The path of practice for the cessation of taints should be known.’ Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said?

“There are these three kinds of taints: the defilement of sensuality, the defilement of becoming, the defilement of ignorance.

“And what is the cause of taints? Ignorance is the cause of taints.

“And what is the diversity in taints? There are taints that lead to hell, those that lead to the animal womb, those that lead to the realm of the hungry shades, those that lead to the human world, those that lead to the world of the devas. This is called the diversity in taints.

“And what is the result of taints? One who is immersed in ignorance produces a corresponding state of existence, on the side of merit or demerit. This is called the result of taints.

“And what is the cessation of taints? From the cessation of ignorance is the cessation of taints; and just this noble eightfold path—right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right samādhi—is the way leading to the cessation of taints.

“Now when a disciple of the noble ones discerns taints in this way, the cause of taints in this way, the diversity of taints in this way, the result of taints in this way, the cessation of taints in this way, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of taints in this way, then he discerns this penetrative holy life as the cessation of taints.

“‘Taints should be known. The cause of taints… The diversity in taints… The result of taints… The cessation of taints… The path of practice for the cessation of taints should be known.’ Thus it has been said, and in reference to this was it said.

Āsavā, bhikkhave, veditabbā … pe … āsava­nirodha­gāminī paṭipadā veditabbāti, iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ. Kiñcetaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ? Tayome, bhikkhave, āsavā - kāmāsavo, bhavāsavo, avijjāsavo.

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, āsavānaṃ nidānasambhavo? Avijjā, bhikkhave, āsavānaṃ nidānasambhavo.

Katamā ca, bhikkhave, āsavānaṃ vemattatā? Atthi, bhikkhave, āsavā nirayagamanīyā, atthi āsavā tiracchā­na­yoni­gamanīyā, atthi āsavā petti­visa­ya­gamanīyā, atthi āsavā ­manus­sa­loka­gamanīyā, atthi āsavā deva­loka­gamanīyā. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, āsavānaṃ vemattatā.

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, āsavānaṃ vipāko? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, avijjāgato tajjaṃ tajjaṃ attabhāvaṃ abhinibbatteti puññabhāgiyaṃ vā apuññabhāgiyaṃ vā, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, āsavānaṃ vipāko.

Katamo ca, bhikkhave, āsavanirodho? Avijjānirodho, bhikkhave, āsavanirodho. Ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo āsava­nirodha­gāminī paṭipadā, seyyathidaṃ - sammādiṭṭhi … pe … sammāsamādhi.

Yato kho, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako evaṃ āsave pajānāti, evaṃ āsavānaṃ nidāna­sam­bha­vaṃ pajānāti, evaṃ āsavānaṃ vemattataṃ pajānāti, evaṃ āsavānaṃ vipākaṃ pajānāti, evaṃ āsavānaṃ nirodhaṃ pajānāti, evaṃ āsavānaṃ nirodhagāminiṃ paṭipadaṃ pajānāti, so imaṃ nibbedhikaṃ brahmacariyaṃ pajānāti āsavanirodhaṃ. Āsavā, bhikkhave, veditabbā … pe … āsava­nirodha­gāminī
paṭipadā veditabbāti. Iti yaṃ taṃ vuttaṃ idametaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ.

Kammaṃ, bhikkhave, veditabbaṃ … pe … kamma­nirodha­gāminī
paṭipadā veditabbāti, iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ. Kiñcetaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ? Cetanāhaṃ, bhikkhave, kammaṃ vadāmi. Cetayitvā kammaṃ karoti—kāyena vācāya manasā.
AN 6.63

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Bhikkhus, by the destruction of the taints, in this very life I enter and dwell in the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, realizing it for myself with direct knowledge.
SN 16.9/10/11

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“Bhikkhus, form is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ When one sees this thus as it really is with correct wisdom, the mind becomes dispassionate and is liberated from the taints by nonclinging.
SN 22.45

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With the extermination of form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness, that bhikkhu, resolving thus: ‘It might not be, and it might not be for me; it will not be, and it will not be for me,’ can cut off the lower fetters.”

“Resolving thus, venerable sir, a bhikkhu can cut off the lower fetters. But how should one know, how should one see, for the immediate destruction of the taints to occur?”

“Here, bhikkhu, the uninstructed worldling becomes frightened over an unfrightening matter. For this is frightening to the uninstructed worldling: ‘It might not be, and it might not be for me; it will not be, and it will not be for me.’ But the instructed noble disciple does not become frightened over an unfrightening matter. For this is not frightening to the noble disciple: ‘It might not be, and it might not be for me; it will not be, and it will not be for me.’

“Consciousness, bhikkhu, while standing, might stand engaged with form … engaged with feeling … engaged with perception … engaged with volitional formations; based upon volitional formations, established upon volitional formations, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion.

“Bhikkhu, though someone might say: ‘Apart from form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from volitional formations, I will make known the coming and going of consciousness, its passing away and rebirth, its growth, increase, and expansion’—that is impossible.
SN 22.55 (strict parallel in SA 64)

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And what are the taints, what is the origin of the taints, what is the cessation of the taints, what is the way leading to the cessation of the taints? There are these three taints: the taint of sensual desire, the taint of being, and the taint of ignorance. With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of the taints. The way leading to the cessation of the taints is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
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When a noble disciple has thus understood the taints, the origin of the taints, the cessation of the taints, and the way leading to the cessation of the taints, he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust, he abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion, he extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit ‘I am,’ and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering.
MN9

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Here, with the destruction of the taints, some person has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it.
AN 4.5

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When my mind was thus concentrated, purified, cleansed, unblemished, rid of defilement, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the destruction of the taints. I understood as it really is: ‘This is suffering’; I understood as it really is: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; I understood as it really is: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; I understood as it really is: ‘This is the
way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ I understood as it really is:
‘These are the taints’; I understood as it really is: ‘This is the origin of the taints’; I understood as it really is: ‘This is the cessation of the taints’; I understood as it really is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the taints.’

“When I knew and saw thus, my mind was liberated from the taint of sensuality, from the taint of existence, and from the taint of ignorance.

AN 8.11 - MN 2 - MN 27 - MN 36 - MN 65

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And how, bhikkhus, should one know, how should one see, for the immediate destruction of the taints to occur? Here, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self. That regarding, bhikkhus, is a formation. That formation—what is its source, what is its origin, from what is it born and produced? When the uninstructed worldling is contacted by a feeling born of ignorance-contact, craving arises: thence that formation is born.
“Thus, bhikkhus, that formation is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen; that craving is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen; that feeling is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen; that contact is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen; that ignorance is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. When one knows and sees thus, bhikkhus, the immediate destruction of the taints occurs.

Kathañca, bhikkhave, jānato kathaṃ passato anantarā āsavānaṃ khayo hoti? Idha bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano ariyānaṃ adassāvī ariyadhammassa akovido ariyadhamme avinīto, sappurisānaṃ adassāvī sap­purisa­dhammassa akovido sap­purisa­dhamme avinīto rūpaṃ attato samanupassati. Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, samanupassanā saṅkhāro so. So pana saṅkhāro kiṃnidāno kiṃsamudayo kiṃjātiko kiṃpabhavo? Avijjā­samphas­sa­jena, bhikkhave, vedayitena phuṭṭhassa assutavato puthujjanassa uppannā taṇhā; tatojo so saṅkhāro. Iti kho, bhikkhave, sopi saṅkhāro anicco saṅkhato paṭic­ca­samup­panno. Sāpi taṇhā aniccā saṅkhatā paṭic­ca­samup­pannā. Sāpi vedanā, sopi phasso anicco saṅkhato paṭic­ca­samup­panno. Sāpi avijjā aniccā saṅkhatā paṭic­ca­samup­pannā. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, jānato evaṃ passato anantarā āsavānaṃ khayo hoti.
SN 22.81

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Him I call deluded, Aggivessana, who has not abandoned the taints that defile, bring renewal of being, give trouble, ripen in suffering, and lead to future birth, ageing, and death; for it is with the non-abandoning of the taints that one is deluded. Him I call undeluded who has abandoned the taints that defile, bring renewal of being, give trouble, ripen in suffering, and lead to future birth, ageing, and death; for it is with the abandoning of the taints that one is undeluded.
Yassa kassaci, aggivessana, ye āsavā saṅkilesikā ponobbhavikā sadarā dukkhavipākā āyatiṃ jātijarāmaraṇiyā appahīnā, tamahaṃ ‘sammūḷho’ti vadāmi. Āsavānañhi, aggivessana, appahānā sammūḷho hoti. Yassa kassaci, aggivessana, ye āsavā saṅkilesikā ponobbhavikā sadarā dukkhavipākā āyatiṃ jātijarāmaraṇiyā pahīnā, tamahaṃ ‘asammūḷho’ti vadāmi. Āsavānañhi, aggivessana, pahānā asammūḷho hoti.
MN 36

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Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and see. Who knows and sees what?
Wise attention and unwise attention. When one attends unwisely, unarisen taints arise and arisen taints increase....
MN 2

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He understands thus: ‘There is this, there is the inferior, there is the superior, and beyond there is an escape from this whole field of perception.’

“When he knows and sees thus, his mind is liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, and from the taint of ignorance.
MN 7

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‘Friends, through an internal deliverance, through the destruction of all clinging, I dwell mindfully in such a way that the taints do not flow within me and I do not despise myself.’ Being asked thus, venerable sir, I would answer in such a way.”

“Good, good, Sāriputta! This is another method of explaining in brief that same point: ‘I have no perplexity in regard to the taints spoken of by the Ascetic; I do not doubt that they have been abandoned by me.’”
SN 12.32

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“What do you think, bhikkhus, can a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed generate a meritorious volitional formation, or a demeritorious volitional formation, or an imperturbable volitional formation?”

“No, venerable sir.”
SN 12.51

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Here, householder, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. He considers this and understands it thus: ‘This first jhāna is conditioned and volitionally produced. But whatever is conditioned and volitionally produced is impermanent, subject to cessation.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world.
MN 52 (see the rest of the sutta - higher jhānas and results)
See also MN 64

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“And what, bhikkhus, is right view? Right view, I say, is twofold: there is right view that is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions; and there is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path.

“And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is affected by the taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions? ‘There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously; there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.’ This is right view affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions.

“And what, bhikkhus, is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path? The wisdom, the faculty of wisdom, the power of wisdom, the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, the path factor of right view in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the noble path and is developing the noble path: this is right view that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path.
MN 117

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Sisters, there are these seven enlightenment factors through the development and cultivation of which a bhikkhu, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints.
MN 146

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This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, those bhikkhus delighted in the Blessed One’s statement. And while this discourse was being spoken, the minds of the thousand bhikkhus were liberated from the taints by nonclinging.
SN 35.28 - SN 35.75 - SN 35.121

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Bhikkhus, by possessing three qualities, a bhikkhu lives full of happiness and joy in this very life, and he has laid a foundation for the destruction of the taints. What are the three? He is one who guards the doors of the
sense faculties, who is moderate in eating, and who is devoted to wakefulness.
SN 35.239

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One who has expunged lust and hate
Along with the taint of ignorance,
Has crossed this ocean so hard to cross
With its dangers of sharks, demons, waves.
SN 35.229

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Note: 
Āsava should not be confounded with pariñña (full understanding), or the goal of asceticism (sāmaññattho).

"And what, bhikkhus, is full understanding? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion. "
Katamā ca, bhikkhave, pariññā? Yo, bhikkhave, rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo.
SN 22.23 - SN 22.106 - SN 23.4 

Or

"And what, bhikkhus, is the goal of asceticism? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion. This is called the goal of asceticism."
Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sāmaññattho? Yo kho, bhikkhave, rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo
SN 45.36

The other suttas using rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo have no parallels.

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