Following the Path:
The 37 Requisites
to Enlightenment

by Ryuei Michael McCormick

The following essay is the first chapter of a book on the life and teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha according to the Pali Canon and/or the Agamas that I have been writing since college. This particular part was written in 1995. I am restricting myself to the Pali Canon and the Agamas in an effort to present only what is likely to have been taught by the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. While this essay and the others which constitute this work in progress are informed by Mahayana and Theravada teachings, my main purpose was just to present what I perceive to be the most straightforward meaning of the canon. In the future, I hope to cover the Mahayana canon in the same way. Ultimately, I hope to take all this material and show how it does or does not relate to the faith, teaching, and practice of Nichiren Buddhism as a source of common sense and spiritual guidance.
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Following the Path

The path to enlightenment does not consist of philosophy and speculation. All of the Buddha's teachings were based on empirical observation and critical analysis; and they always had a practical application as their aim. Those who follow the path to enlightenment must utilize the teachings by diligently weeding out those qualities which will hinder progress while concurrently developing those qualities and practices which will further one's progress.

In traditional Buddhism there are thirty-seven requisites of enlightenment which one must develop if one is to attain the goal. They consist of the eightfold path covered under the four noble truths; five roots; five powers; four perfect efforts; seven factors of enlightenment and four roads to power. These thirty-seven requisites provide a kind of road map for one's Buddhist practice.

The eightfold path of the middle way provides the most fundamental course of development, while the other twenty-nine elements consist of further details and explanations of the eightfold path. The eightfold path can itself be simplified as the threefold training of morality, concentration and wisdom. So, the thirty-seven requisites can be simply understood as an explanation of the threefold training.

At this point, we will turn to the five roots and the five powers because they indicate the way that we should approach the practice of the threefold training. The five roots are faith, exertion, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom, and they are considered to be latent faculties which can be developed by anyone through proper discipline and training. When the five roots have been developed, they are called the five powers. It is these five powers which enable us to follow the demands of the threefold training.

The first is the power of faith, which should be understood as confidence or trust. Buddhism is not a creed which we can benefit from by merely professing it's tenets. We must experience for ourselves the four noble truths which the Buddha teaches. However, in order to be willing to undergo the discipline and training involved, we must at first have faith in the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. We must believe that the Buddha really did achieve perfect universal enlightenment and is therefore the right teacher; that the Dharma he taught is truly the way to become enlightened; and that the Sangha is the community which truly practices and preserves the Buddha's teachings and can facilitate our own training. Furthermore, we must have confidence in our own abilities, so that we can follow the path through all adversity, obstructions or setbacks, whether internal or external.

In this way, we can adopt the right views of the Buddha, even before they have been personally experienced through our practice. Specifically, right views refers to the knowledge of the four noble truths and all that they entail. Right thought can also be included here also, because the adoption of the Buddha's views will naturally reveal the destructiveness of greed and aggression, and the benefits of an altruistic and unselfish outlook. The power of faith implies the absence of ulterior motives and the presence of a sincere aspiration to accomplish the goal of enlightenment. Together, right views and right thoughts comprise the training of wisdom. At this stage, however, faith takes the place of wisdom. In a sense, faith allows us to borrow the Buddha's wisdom in order to practice correctly, until such time as our own wisdom has been perfected.

So, empowered by faith, we embark upon the development of morality or ethical living. This consists of right speech, right action and right livelihood. Right speech means to refrain from falsehood, slander, abusive language and gossip. Right action means to refrain from killing, stealing and sexual impropriety. Right livelihood means to seek an occupation which does not cause harm to or exploits others, such as selling weapons, alcohol, or slaves, or to engage in fortune telling and other forms of deceit.

The five precepts of Buddhism are basically a reiteration of the demands of right action and right speech with the addition of a prohibition against intoxicants which cloud the mind and destroy one's inhibitions against breaking the other four. The five precepts as expounded by the Buddha to his lay disciples are as follows:
Lay students of the Buddha move away from killing, put an end to killing, rid themselves of all weapons, learn humility before others, learn humility in themselves, practice love and compassion, and protect all living beings, even the smallest insects. They uproot from within themselves any intention to kill. In this way, lay students of the Buddha study and practice the first of the Five Precepts.

Lay students of the Buddha move away from taking what has not been given, put an end to taking what has not been given. They find joy in being generous without expecting anything in return. Their minds are not obscured by greed and craving. They constantly guard their own honesty and uproot from within themselves any intention to take what has not been given. In this way, lay students of the Buddha study and practice the second of the Five Precepts.

Lay students of the Buddha move away from sexual misconduct, put an end to sexual misconduct, and protect everyone - those under the care of their father, mother, or both father and mother; their elder sister or elder brother; their parents-in-law or other in-laws; those of the same sex; the wife, daughter, husband or son of another; and those who have been raped, assaulted, or tortured sexually, or who are prostitutes.*** Lay students of the Buddha uproot from within themselves any intention to commit sexual misconduct. In this way, lay students of the Buddha study and practice the third of the Five Precepts.

Lay students of the Buddha move away from saying what is not true, put an end to saying what is not true. They say only what is true, and they find great joy in saying what is true. They always abide in truth and are completely reliable, never despising others. They have uprooted from within themselves any intention to say what is not true. In this way, lay students of the Buddha study and practice the fourth of the Five Precepts.

Lay students of the Buddha move away from drinking alcohol, put an end to drinking alcohol. They uproot from within themselves the habit of drinking alcohol. In this way, lay students of the Buddha study and practice the fifth of the Five Precepts. (From The Sutra on the White Clad Disciple translated in For a Future to be Possible, pp. 210-211)
In more conservative forms of Buddhism there are additional precepts which are followed to this day depending on the people involved and the circumstances. In the case of the novices who are in training for full ordination, ten precepts are followed. These consist of the five precepts which are given to the laymen and an additional five directed against a life of luxury and distraction. They are: (6) not to wear ornaments or perfume, (7) not to attend singing recitals, dances or other forms of entertainment, (8) not to sleep on soft or luxurious beds, (9) not to eat at irregular hours and (10) not to own valuables such as gold or silver. Upon fully ordination, the monk or nun would take up a full 227 or 311 precepts respectively, including the 10 already stated. These precepts are more specific and stringent applications of the other precepts, as well as precepts governing propriety and good order within the monastic community. Finally, at certain times, such as each quarter of the moon, especially sincere lay people attend ceremonies and lectures at the temples and follow all of the novice precepts, except the prohibition against owning valuables, which would be impractical for lay people.

The precepts and the development of morality is a very fundamental part of the Buddhist path. The precepts lay the groundwork for the further development of mind which will eventually lead to liberation. In taking up the precepts, the follower of the Buddha consciously affirms the most basic values which all people seem to know instinctively. Through the development of basic morality, we are protected from all manner of evil; whether it be the inner torment of a guilty conscience, the social and legal consequences of wrong doing or a future rebirth in unfortunate circumstances. Taking the precepts is also a sign of determination and sincerity. It shows that we are no longer willing to compromise our integrity for worldly gain, because we have aspired to the highest goal. The precepts also cause us to be more mindful of our daily activites; they provide a yardstick by which we can improve our character in every facet of life through exploring their implications in everyday situations.

The precepts are not just negative injunctions either, each of the precepts has a positive value as well. Those who truly follow the precepts against killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking intoxicants as presented in the passage quoted above will naturally develop the qualities of humility, love, compassion, generosity and honesty. Such people will not harm themselves or others; and instead, will seek to protect all beings. Through the following of the precepts, we can cultivate a character that is not only blameless, but pure and worthy of respect.

Morality alone, however, does not bring about liberation. Morality may be the indispensable groundwork, but if the cultivation of the mind does not follow, then it becomes a spiritual dead-end. A morality that is not supported by the practice of concentration and insight can easily wither away or degenerate into puritanical self-righteousness. The upholding of the precepts, therefore, must be accompanied by right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

The path of right effort refers to the four perfect efforts as well as the development of the root of exertion into the power of exertion. Exertion also appears as one of the seven factors of enlightenment and one of the four roads to power. The fact that right effort or exertion under its different aspects accounts for nine of the thirty-seven elements of enlightenment shows how vitally important it is in Buddhist training.

Right effort consists of restraining from unarisen evil and unwholesome mental states, overcoming evil unwholesome mental states that have already arisen, developing wholesome mental states that have not yet arisen and maintaining those wholesome mental states that have arisen. In this way, we can uphold the precepts in mind as well as body and develop those mental states that are conducive to mindfulness and concentration, such as the seven factors of enlightenment, which will be covered under mindfulness.

In Buddhist mental cultivation, one refrains from evil and unwholesome mental states by consciously gaurding the senses. In other words, we should not indiscriminately allow external phenomena to disturb our minds or guide our actions. Guarding the senses means making the effort to critique our environment and reflect before acting impulsively or allowing the mind to get entangled in unhealthy thoughts or desires. Guarding the senses also means staying away from environments and activites that we know are unhealthy and keeping to healthy and uplifting environments and activities, away from temptation and other dangers.

Overcoming already arisen unwholesome thoughts involves the use of one of five methods taught by the Buddha in the Vitakkasanthana (Removal of Distracting Thoughts) Sutta of the Middle Length Discourses. The first is to replace the unwholesome thoughts with wholesome ones, such as the Three Treasures. If we can not wrest the mind away from the unwholesome thoughts, or the wholesome thoughts are not powerful enough, then we can instead contemplate the negative consequences that will inevitably follow if we continue to dwell on or act upon the unwholesome thoughts. If this does not work, then we are urged to simply ignore them, and find something to do which will engage all of our attention. If the thoughts are impossible to ignore and there is no suitable task or distraction at hand, then we should objectify and analyze the thoughts until they lose their urgency and we have discovered their causes and conditions. If even this does not work, then we are advised to remember our spiritual resolve and wait them out until they eventually disperse on their own. By following some or all of these five methods, we should be able to overcome evil unwholesome states of mind that have already arisen.

The development and maintaining of wholesome states of mind involves the practice of right mindfulness and right concentration. So, it is to the practice of mental cultivation through mindfulness and concentration, as well as to the upholding of the precepts, that we must expend our efforts.

Right mindfulness is the path which develops the root of mindfulness into the power of mindfulness through the four foundations of mindfulness, which in turn cultivates the seven factors of enlightenment of which mindfulness is the first factor. This repitition underscores the importantance of mindfulness to Buddhist practice. It is due to right mindfulness that Buddhist mental cultivation can be distinguished from other forms of meditation. Right mindfulness also leads directly to right concentration, and from there into the insight which brings liberation.

The four foundations of mindfulness are what constitutes the path of right mindfulness, and they are: the contemplation of the body, the feelings, mental states and mental objects. Each of these four embraces a multitude of phenomena towards which one's bare attention is to be directed. What this means, is that we must simply pay attention to these phenomena just as they are, without trying to judge them or analyze them or use them as springboards for all kinds of fantasizing or scheming. We should simply take notice of them, and when the mind begins to wander into all kinds of extraneous considerations, such as dwelling on the past or projecting into the future, we just return to the phenomena at hand; thereby cultivating bare attention and abandoning hopes, fears, regrets, brooding, speculation and other forms of dwelling on the past or future or anything other than what is right at hand. This is to be done at all times, so that one is truly dealing with the realities of the present moment instead of with the projections of the mind. In fact, the proper attitude of mindfulness was taught by the Buddha in the following verse:
Let not a person revive the past
Or on the future build his hopes;
For the past has been left behind
And the future has not been reached.
Instead with insight let him see
Each presently arisen state;
Let him know that and be sure of it,
Invincibly, unshakeably.
Today the effort must be made;
Tomorrow Death may come, who knows?
No bargain with Mortality
Can keep him and his hordes away,
But one who dwells thus ardently,
Relentlessly, by day, by night -
It is he, the Peaceful Sage has said,
Who has one fortunate attachment.
(Middle Length Discourse, p. 1039)
The practice of mindfulness does not mean, however, that we restrict our attention only to ourselves. The Buddha's instructions clearly state that we should contemplate the body, feelings, mental states, and mental objects of ourselves or others or both. This probably indicates that we should also be aware of the activites and phenomena around us and how they relate to our own experience. In addition, as we gain a clearer understanding of ourselves, we can begin to have a better understanding of others. Mindfulness should not lead to narcissism but to clear awareness.

In addition, we should be mindful without fixating upon upon what is observed. We should simply watch the arising and vanishing of phenomena and their interactions without getting unduly caught up in it. In sitting meditation we should just sit and observe with pure awareness. In daily life, we should observe and act with clear comprehension.

The contemplation of the body includes mindfulness of the breath, which holds the pride of place among the various practices described by the Buddha due to its capacity to embrace the other three types of contemplation as well as leading through all the various states of concentration and ultimately to liberation. It is also the practice which is recommended for sitting mediation in a quiet place apart from our daily activities for set periods of time. Here is what the Buddha taught regarding mindfulness of the breath:
Monks, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it is of great fruit and great benefit. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it fulfills the four foundations of mindfulness. When the four foundations of mindfulness are developed and cultivated, they fulfill the seven enlightenment factors. When the seven enlightenment factors are developed and cultivated, they fulfill true knowledge and deliverance.

And how, monks, is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and great benefit?

Here a monk, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.

Breathing in long, he understands: "I breathe in long"; or breathing out long, he understands: "I breathe out long." Breathing in short, he understands: "I breathe in short"; or breathing out short, he understands: "I breathe out short." He trains thus: "I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body [of breathe]"; he trains thus: "I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body [of breathe]." He trains thus: "I shall breathe in tranquilising the bodily formation"; he trains thus: "I shall breathe out tranquilising the bodily formation."
(Middle Length Discourse, pp. 943-944)
This is best practiced in the morning before leaving our homes and at night before going to bed. Through beginning and ending each day with a set period of mindfulness, a rhythm and a pattern of mindfulness is set up which eventually begins to permeate the rest of the day as well. This bare attention which is discovered and developed through periods of stillness and quiet will soon take note of the four basic postures of walking, standing, siting and lying down. Eventually, all of ones activities throughout the day will become the subjects of mindfulness, or bare attention. In time, we will no longer act unconsciously, as if on an automatic pilot, but with attentiveness and care.
Again, a monk, when going forward or back, is clearly aware of what he is doing, in looking forward or back he is clearly aware of what he is doing, in bending and stretching he is clearly aware of what he is doing, in carrying his inner and outer robe and his bowl he is clearly aware of what he is doing, in eating, drinking, chewing and savouring he is clearly aware of what he is doing, in passing excrement or urine he is clearly aware of what he is doing, in walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep and waking up, in speaking or in staying silent, he is clearly aware of what he is doing. (The Long Discourses of the Buddha, p. 337)
The ability to maintain clear comprehension throughout our life is a vital skill which involves the ability to pause and take stock of each moment. Clear comprehension includes four different areas of awareness which should be applied to every moment. The first is the clear comprehension of the domain of experiencing in order to recognize how and in what ways we are being affected by any given situation. The next step is to clearly comprehend the purpose of any given action in order to ascertain the goals and intentions behind them. Next, we should clearly comprehend the suitability of any action given the circumstances that we find ourself in. Finally, there is the clear comprehension of non-delusion or reality. This means that we will simply see each situation for what it is without any bias or mental projections. In doing this, we can bring mindfulness and wisdom into every part of our lives.

From mindfulness of bodily activity we can go on to the basic constituents of our physical being. Everything from the details of our anatomy to the four elements of earth, air, fire and water (or matter, movement, heat and liquid) are recollected as the basic facts of existence. This recognition of the components of life then leads to the recognition of their eventual dissolution through contemplating the gradual decompostion of human remains. In this way, the mindfulness of the body covers all the realities of bodily existence.

From mindfulness of the body, its activities, constituents and dissolution, we then begin to observe feelings with the same non-judgemental clear awareness. We become aware of all the pleasant, painful and neutral feelings that occur in each moment and whether they are of a sensual or non-sensual nature. In meditation, this means that we stay with the breath and simply takes note of feelings as they arise, and then return to the state of watchfulness by centering on the breath.

The next step is to become aware of our general state of mind. Unlike feelings, these mental states are overall predispositions within the mind. In other words, we take note of what the mind tends to dwell on or how it tends to interpret or judge different phenomena. The mental states also include the mind's clarity, adaptibility and concentration. So, in becoming mindful of the mind itself, we watch for any greed, anger, or ignorance within the mind. We watch for any mental laziness, prejudices, or unfounded opinions. We take note of any distraction, anxiety or weariness. On the positive side, we also watch for the mind which is free from these things, the mind which is clear, concentrated and has developed pure awareness.

Finally, we become mindful of all the myriad phenomena which can be observed and contemplated by the mind. This includes the five hindrances which prevent one from concentrating the mind and attaining insight, these are: sensual desire, ill will, sloth/torpor, restlessness/remorse, and doubt. In regard to these, one observes whether they are present or not, how they arise, how they are abandoned and how they are prevented from arising in the future.

The arising and disappearance of the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness are also included in the mindfulness of phenomena.

The six senses and their objects are likewise included, namely: eyes and sights, ears and sounds, nose and smells, tongue and tastes, body and tangibles and the mind and mental objects. We should also contemplate the arising of attachments dependent upon the senses and how these attachments can be abandoned and future attachments prevented from arising.

Proceeding from the mindfulness of phenomena are the seven factors of enlightenment which are mental phenomena that lead directly to enlightenment. The first factor is mindfulness itself which is developed through the practice outlined above. Through mindfulness we gain an impartial awareness of the myriad physical and mental phenomena that constitutes our daily life and can begin to investigate these phenomena just as they are without superimposing any subjective considerations. This is the development of the investigation-of-states enlightenment factor. This is followed by the development of tireless energy which is freed when we impartially observe and investigate phenomena instead of wasting our energy and attention on an endless treadmill of anxiety and desire. The energy enlightenment factor is then followed by that of rapture which is the pleasure we feel when all of that energy is released and we are freed from the bonds of worldly anxieties and cares. The rapture enlightenment factor then leads to the state of tranquility, where we finally attained peace. This tranquility enlightenment factor then leads to the enlightenment factor of concentration. At this point, it can be seen how the practice of right mindfulness leads to the development of the seven factors of enlightenment, which in turn leads to right concentration. Concentration then leads to the last enlightenment factor of equanimity. Once we have developed equanimity we are no longer bound by worldly concerns or any other kinds of obsessions or fixations, and are thereby able to attain nirvana, which is the extinction of the fire of ignorant craving which is the source of suffering.

Once we are free of ignorant craving and have a clear awareness and understanding of the true nature of phenomena we can then understand the four noble truths on the basis of our own understanding. So, the four noble truths themselves become the objects of mindfulness, no longer as a mere theory or set of propositions, but as our own experience.
Right concentration, the last part of the eightfold path, is the development of the root of concentration into the power of concentration. Concentration is also one of the seven factors of enlightenment which is developed throught the practice of right mindfulness.
And what, monks, is Right Concentration? Here, a monk, detached from sense-desires, detached from unwholesome mental states, enters and remains in the first jhana, which is with thinking and pondering, born of detachment, filled with delight and joy. And with the subsiding of thinking and pondering, by gaining inner tranquility and oneness of mind, he enters and remains in the second jhana, which is without thinking and pondering, born of concentration, filled with delight and joy. And with the fading away of delight, remaining imperturbable, mindful and clearly aware, he experiences in himself the joy of which the Noble Ones say: "Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness", he enters the third jhana. And, having given up pleasure and pain, and with the disappearance of former gladness and sadness, he enters and remains in the fourth jhana, which is beyond pleasure and pain, and purified by equanimity and mindfulness. This is called Right Concentration. And that, monks, is called the way of practice leading to the cessation of suffering. (The Long Discourses of the Buddha, p. 349)
As one can see, right mindfulness and right concentration overlap and reinforce one another. The practice of mindfulness allows us to become aware of and overcome the five hindrances, namely: lust, ill will, sloth/torpor, restlessness/worry, and doubt. This corresponds to the relinquishing of sense desires and unwholesome mental states which precedes one's entry into the first dhyana or state of absorption. The four dhyanas then describe the deepening of ones concentration until only pure equanimity and mindfulness remain. In many ways the succession of the four dhyanas correspond to the development of the seven factors of enlightenment.

By themselves, these dhyana states lead to temporary freedom from life's troubles. They can also lead to rebirth in the four heavens of the realm of form. They may also lead to further and more refined states of absorption which take as their basis the realms of space, consciousness, nothingness, and the realm of neither perception nor yet non-perception. These four formless trances also provide temporary relief and the possibility of rebirth into the formless heavens. However, none of these states of consciousness alone provide the answer to the problem of birth and death.

Alternatively, the attainment of the dhyanas make it possible to follow the four roads to spiritual power: zeal, energy, purity of mind and investigation. Through concentration and the development of these qualities it is said that we can attain various miraculous powers, including physical transformations (such as multiplying one's body, walking on water, flying through the air), clairaudience, ESP, recollecting past lives, clairaudience and the destruction of the defilements. All but the last of these miraculous powers are relegated to the mundane world of birth and death; though they might facilitate our practice through increasing the scope of our awareness and ability to render compassionate help to others. The last power, the destruction of the defilements, is itself the goal of Buddhist practice. However, it’s attainment does not require the development of the other miraculous powers.

In the final analysis, the true purpose of right concentration in Buddhism is not to attain altered states of consciousness or to secure a place in heaven or even to attain miraculous power. The true purpose is to pave the way for insight into the true nature of form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness in order to realize the four noble truths for oneself and attain nirvana. That is why Buddhist meditation practice is called the practice of concentration and insight.

Once mindfulness and concentration have led to genuine insight, the root of wisdom becomes the power of wisdom. At this point, we no longer need to go by faith or borrowed wisdom, we see the truth for ourselves. Once all the thirty-seven requisites of enlightenment have been followed, we can then successively enter the four classes of holiness. These four classes are referred to as “paths” when one first enters such a state and “fruits” when one realizes the benefits from the path attained. Specifically, the benefits of the four classes refers to our progressive liberation from the ten fetters which keep us trapped in the ordinary life of birth and death and all the suffering, fear and anxiety which makes up that life.

The first class is that of the Stream Winner. They are those who are liberated from the first three of the ten fetters. The first fetter is belief in a self. This is the notion that there is a substantial self which must be looked for and appeased. The next fetter is skepticism in regard to the Three Jewels of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. This kind of skepticism does not refer to a healthy sense of doubt which will lead one to find out for oneself; rather, it refers to lack of trust, either in oneself or in the Three Jewels, which can prevent one from following the path at all. Finally, there is the fetter of superstitious belief in the efficacy of rites and rituals, either to bring about salvation or merely to ensure good fortune or safegaurd oneself against misfortune. This kind of superstition engenders a false security and a dependency which blocks the way to following the true path to salvation as taught by the Buddha. It should be noted that these three fetters primarily deal with beliefs and opinions which prevent one from following the Dharma. These three fetters keep one preoccupied with one's own welfare and the maintenance of the status quo, which then becomes a distrust of the Three Jewels. The Stream Winner is the one who is firmly covinced that only by trusting the Three Jewels and escaping from the constant bondage of self-concern and false security can one achieve liberation. It is said that the Stream Winner who has entered the stream of the true teaching, can follow the precepts perfectly and, at most, will only unergo seven more rebirths before achieving Nirvana.

The second class is that of the Once Returner. The Once Returner has partially overcome the fetters of sensual craving and ill-will. Such feelings may still occur to him, but they no longer hold sway over the mind. For the Once Returner, not only are his ideas and behaviour in accord with the Dharma, but even his emotional life has been tamed. As the name indicates, this saint will only undergo one more rebirth before acheiving Nirvana.

The third class is that of the Non-Returner. The Non-Returner is completely liberated from the fetters of sensual craving and ill will. These negative emotions no longer arise at all. For the Non-Returner, Nirvana will be attained within their present lifetime.

The final class of holiness is that of the Arhat. The Arhat is one who has overcome even the most subtle forms of clinging which are the last five of the ten fetters. The sixth fetter is the craving for existence in fine material form. This is the notion of a continued existence in a spiritual body in some heavenly realm. The seventh fetter is the craving for existence in non-material form. This is the notion of a continued existence as a pure thought form. Both of these are simply more subtle cases of a desire to immortalize a substantial self and show a preoccupation with one's continued existence. It is still selfish craving, though in a much more refined and sophisticated form. The eighth fetter is conceit, which refers to pride in one's accoplishments on the path. Though not necessarily craving, this fetter still betrays a lingering self-centeredness. The ninth fetter is restlessness. Restlessness is the residual need to accomplish something and make one's mark upon the world. It is the habitual need to respond as a self in the midst of the world's demands and temptations. Finally, there is the fetter of ignorance. This is the fetter which obscures the truth revealed by the Dharma which gives rise to the self in the first place. It is not mere intellectual ignorance, for that is broken through by the Stream Winner. This is the ignorance at the core of existence which views the self as a substantial reality and gives rise to all the habits, emotions and ideas which stem from such a view. The Arhat has seen through all this, and has liberated himself from all passions, fixations and false views. The Arhat is one who has achieved the freedom of Nirvana.


*** Note that this precept is enjoining people to protect all of these types of people and is not necessarily condemning extra-marital relations or same-sex relations as such. Also note, that the principle underlying these injunctions is non-harming to either the individuals concerned or to society at large, and that this principle is being applied to an ancient agricultural society and its needs and values. The principle of non-harming would naturally need to be applied differently today.


Fryba, Mirko. The Art of Happiness: Teachings of Buddhist Psychology. Boston: Shambhala, 1989.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. For a Future to be Possible: Commentaries on the Five Wonderful Precepts. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1993.

Maurice, David, ed. The Lion’s Roar: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings Selected from the Pali Canon. London, Rider & Company, 1962.

Nanamoli, Bhikkhu and Bodhi, Bhikkhu, trans. The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995.

Walshe, Maurice, trans. The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995.

Copyright by Ryuei Michael McCormick. 1995, 2002. > Historical Buddha > Next Page > Questions?


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