The Requisites of Enlightenment

The Requisites of Enlightenment

by Ledi Sayadaw

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938754456
Publisher: Pariyatti Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 129
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Ledi Sayadaw was a well-known and highly respected scholar and meditator monk in Burma. He taught and practiced Vipassana meditation and was the author of more than 100 books, including A Manual of the Excellent Man and The Manuals of Dhamma.

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The Requisites of Enlightenment

A Manual by the Venerable

By Ledi Sayadaw

Pariyatti Publishing

Copyright © 2007 Buddhist Publication Society
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-938754-46-3


The Requisites of Enlightenment (Bodhipakkhiya-dhamma)

I shall now concisely describe the thirty-seven bodhipakkhiya-dhammas, the requisites of enlightenment, which should be practiced with energy and determination by those persons who wish to cultivate tranquillity and insight and thus make worthwhile the rare opportunity of rebirth as a human being within the present Buddha Sasana.

The bodhipakkhiya dhammas consist of seven groups, (totalling thirty-seven factors).

1. Satipatthana, foundations of mindfulness (four factors)

2. Sammapadhana, right efforts (four factors)

3. Iddhipada, bases of success (four factors)

4. Indriya, controlling faculties (five factors)

5. Bala, mental powers (five factors)

6. Bojjhanga, factors of enlightenment (seven factors)

7. Magganga, path factors (eight factors)

The bodhipakkhiya-dhammas are so called because they form part (pakkhiya) of enlightenment or awakening (bodhi) which here refers to the knowledge of the holy paths (magga-ñana). They are dhammas (mental phenomena) with the function of being proximate causes (padatthana), requisite ingredients (sambhara) and bases, or sufficient conditions (upanissaya), of path knowledge (magga-ñana).


The Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipahana)

The word satipatthana is defined as follows:

Bhusam titthati'ti patthanam sati-patthanam. This means: "What is firmly established is a "foundation"; mindfulness itself is such a foundation."

There are four foundations of mindfulness:

1. Kayanupassana-satipatthana (contemplation of the body as a foundation of mindfulness) 2. Vedananupassana-satipatthana (contemplation of feelings as a foundation of mindfulness)

3. Cittanupassana-satipatthana (contemplation of the mind as a foundation of mindfulness)

4. Dhammanupassana-satipatthana (contemplation of mind-objects as a foundation of mindfulness)

1. Kayanupassana-satipatthana means mindfulness which is firmly established on bodily phenomena, such as inhalation and exhalation.

2. Vedananupassana-satipatthana means mindfulness which is firmly established on feelings (sensations).

3. Cittanupassana-satipatthana means mindfulness which is firmly established on thoughts or mental processes, such as thoughts associated with passions or dissociated from passions.

4. Dhammanupassana-satipatthana means mindfulness which is firmly established on phenomena such as hindrances (nivarana), etc.

Of the four, if mindfulness or attention is firmly established on a part of the body, such as on out-breath and in-breath, it is tantamount to attention being firmly established on all things. This is because the ability to place one's attention on any object at one's will has been acquired.

"Firmly established" means, if one desires to place the attention on the out-breath and in-breath for an hour, one's attention remains firmly fixed on it for that period. If one wishes to do so for two hours, one's attention remains firmly fixed on it for two hours. There is no occasion when the attention becomes released from its object on account of the instability of thought-conception (vitakka).

For a detailed account of the satipatthana, see the Satipatthana Sutta.

Why is it incumbent on us to firmly establish the mind without fail on any object such as the out-breath and the in-breath? It is because it is necessary for us to gather and control the six types of consciousness (viññama), which have been drifting tempestuously and untrained throughout the past inconceivably long and beginningless samsara.

I shall make it clearer. The mind tends to flit about from one to another of the six objects of the senses which lie at the approaches of the six sense-doors.

As an example, take the case of a madman who has no control over his mind. He does not even know the mealtime, and wanders about aimlessly from place to place. His parents look for him and give him his meal. After eating five or six morsels of food he overturns the dish and walks away. He thus fails to get a square meal. To this extent he has lost control of his mind. He cannot control his mind even to the extent of finishing the business of a meal. In talking, he cannot control his mind to the extent of finishing or completing a sentence. The beginning, the middle, and the end do not agree with one another. His talk has no meaning. He cannot be of use in any undertaking in this world. He is unable to perform any task. Such a person can no longer be classed as a human being, and he has to be ignored.

This madman becomes a sane and normal person again, if he meets a good doctor and the doctor applies a cure. Thus cured he obtains control of his mind in the matter of taking his meals, and can now eat his fill. He has control over his mind in all other matters as well. He can perform his tasks till they are completed, just like others. Just like others, he can also complete his sentences. This is an example.

In this world, persons who are not insane but who are normal and have control over their minds, resemble such a mad person who has no control over his mind when it comes to the matter of samatha and vipassana. Just as the madman upsets the food dish and walks away after five or six morsels of food, although he attempts to eat his meal, these normally sane persons find their attention wandering because they have no control over their minds. Whenever they pay respects to the Buddha and contemplate his noble qualities, they do not succeed in keeping their minds fixed on those noble qualities, but find their attention being diverted many times on to other objects of thought, and thus they even fail to reach the end of "Iti pi so" (a devotional text, beginning with these words, i.e., "Thus indeed is this Exalted One ...").

It is as if a man suffering from hydrophobia who seeks water feverishly with parched lips, runs away from it with fear when he sees a lake of cool refreshing water. It is also like a diseased man who, when given a diet of relishing food replete with medicinal qualities, finds the food bitter to his taste and, unable to swallow it, is obliged to spit and vomit it out. In just the same way, these persons find themselves unable to approach the contemplation of the noble qualities of the Buddha effectively, and cannot maintain dwelling on them.

If in reciting the "Iti pi so" their recitation is interrupted every time their minds wander, and if they have to start afresh from the beginning every time such an interruption occurs, they will never reach the end of the text even though they keep on reciting a whole day, or a whole month, or a whole year. At present they manage to reach the end because they can keep on reciting from memory even though their minds wander elsewhere.

In the same way, there are persons who, on Uposatha days, plan to go to quiet places in order to contemplate the thirty-two parts of the body, such as kesa (hairs of the head), loma (hairs of the body), etc. or the noble qualities of the Buddha, but who ultimately end up in the company of friends and associates because they have no control over their minds, and because of the upheavals in their thoughts and intentions. When they take part in congregational recitations, although they attempt to direct their minds to the samatha work of the brahma-viharas (sublime states), such as reciting the formula for diffusing metta (loving kindness), because they have no control over their minds, their thoughts are not concentrated but are scattered aimlessly, and they end up only with the external manifestation of the recitation.

These facts are sufficient to show how many persons resemble the insane while performing kusala-kammas.

Papasmim ramate mano

The mind takes delight in evil. (Dhp 116)

Just as water naturally flows down from high places to low places, the minds of beings, if left uncontrolled, naturally approach evil. This is the tendency of the mind.

I shall now draw, with examples, a comparison between those who exercise no control over their minds and the insane person mentioned above.

There is a river with a swift current. A boatman not familiar with the control of the rudder, floats down the river with the current. His boat is loaded with valuable merchandise for trading and selling at the towns on the lower reaches of the river. As he floats down, he passes stretches of the river lined with mountains and forests where there are no harbours or anchorages for his boat. He thus continues to float down without stopping. When night descends, he passes towns and village with harbours and anchorages, but he does not see them in the darkness of the night, and thus he continues to float without stopping. When daylight arrives, he comes to places with towns and villages, but not having any control over the rudder of the boat, he cannot steer it to the harbors and anchorages, and thus, inevitably, he continues to float down until he reaches the great wide ocean.

The infinitely lengthy samsara is like the swift-flowing river. Beings having no control over their minds are like the boatman who is unable to steer his boat. The mind is like the boat. Beings who have drifted from one existence to another in the "suñña" world-cycles, where no Buddha Sasanas appear, are like the boatman drifting down those stretches of the river lined by mountains and forests, where there are no harbours and anchorages. When at times these beings are born in world-cycles where Buddha Sasanas flourish, but are in ignorance of them because they happen to be in one or other of the eight atthakkhanas (inopportune situations), they resemble the boatman who floats down stretches of the river lined by towns and villages with harbours and anchorages, but does not see them because it is night. When, at other times, they are born as human beings, devas or brahmas, within a Buddha Sasana, but fail to secure the paths and the fruits because they are unable to control their minds and put forth effort to practice vipassana exercises of the satipatthanas thus continuing still to drift in samsara, they resemble the boatman who sees the banks lined by towns and villages with harbours and anchorages, but is unable to steer towards them because of his inability to control the rudder, and thus continues inevitably to drift down towards the ocean. In the infinitely lengthy samsara, those beings who have obtained release from worldly ills within the Sasanas of the Buddhas who have appeared, whose numbers exceed the grains of sand on the banks of the river Ganges, are beings who had control over their minds and who possessed the ability of retaining their attention on any desired object at will through the practice of the satipatthanas.

This shows the trend of the wandering, or "course of existence," of those beings who do not practice the satipatthanas, even though they are aware of the fact that they have no control over their minds when it comes to the practice of samatha and vipassana.

Comparisons may also be made with the taming and training of bullocks for the purpose of yoking them to ploughs and carts, and to the taming and training of elephants for employment in the service of the king, or on battlefields.

In the case of the bullock, the young calf has to be regularly herded and kept in a cattle-pen, then a nose rope is passed through its nostrils and it is tied to a post and trained to respond to the rope's control. It is then trained to submit to the yoke, and only when it becomes amenable to the yoke's burden is it put to use for ploughing and drawing carts and thus effectively employed to trade and profit. This is the example of the bullock.

In this example, just as the owner's profit and success depends on the employment of the bullock in the drawing of ploughs and carts after training it to become amenable to the yoke, so does the true benefit of lay persons and bhikkhus within the present Sasana depend on training in samatha and vipassana

In the present Buddha Sasana, the practice of sila-visuddhi resembles the training of the young calf by herding it and keeping it in cattle-pens. Just as, if the young calf is not so herded and kept in cattle pens, it would damage and destroy the properties of others and thus bring liability on the owner, so, too, if a person lacks sila-visuddhi, the three (unwholesome) kammas would run riot, and the person concerned would become subject to worldly evils and to the evil results indicated in the Dhamma.

The efforts to develop kayagatasati resembles the passing of the nose-rope through the nostrils and training the calf to respond to the rope after tying it to a post. Just as when a calf is tied to a post it can be kept wherever the owner desires it to be, and it cannot run loose, so when the mind is tied to the body with the rope of satipatthana, that mind cannot wander but is obliged to remain wherever the owner desires it to be. The habits of a disturbed and distracted mind acquired during the inconceivably long samsara, become weakened.

A person who performs the practice of samatha and vipassana without first attempting body-contemplation, resembles the owner who yokes the still untamed bullock to the cart or plough without the nose-rope. Such an owner would find himself unable to control the bullock as he desires. Because the bullock is wild, and because it has no nose-rope, it will either try to run off the road, or try to break loose by breaking the yoke.

On the other hand, a person who first tranquilizes and trains his mind with body contemplation before turning his mind to the practice of samatha and vipassana will find that his attention will remain steady and his work will be successful.

In the case of the elephant, the wild elephant has first to be brought out from the forest into the field hitched on to a tame, trained elephant. Then it is taken to a stockade and tied up securely until it is tamed. When it thus becomes absolutely tame and quiet, it is trained in the various kinds of work in which it will be employed in the service of the king. It is only then that it is used in state functions and on battlefields.

The realm of sensual pleasures resembles the forest where the wild elephant enjoys himself. The Buddha Sasana resembles the open field into which the wild elephant is first brought out. The mind resembles the wild elephant. Faith (saddha) and desire (chanda) in the sasana-dhamma resemble the tame, trained elephant to which the wild elephant is hitched and brought out into the open. Sila-visuddhi (purification of virtue) resembles the stockade. The body, or parts of the body, such as out-breath and in-breath resemble the post in the stockade to which the elephant is tied. Kayagatasati resembles the rope by which the wild elephant is tied to the post. The preparatory work towards samatha and vipassana resembles the preparatory training of the elephant. The work of samatha and vipassana resembles the king's parade ground or the battlefield. Other points of comparison can also be easily recognized.

Thus I have shown by the examples of the mad man, the boatman, the bullock, and the elephant, the main points of body contemplation, which is by ancient tradition the first step that has to be undertaken in the work of proceeding upwards from sila-visuddhi within the Sasanas of all the Buddhas who have appeared in the past inconceivably long samsara.

The essential meaning is that, whether it be by out-breathing and in-breathing, or by iriyapatha (four postures: going, standing, sitting, lying) or by sampajañña (clear comprehension) or by dhatu-manasikara (advertence of mind on the elements) or by atthika-sañña (contemplation of bones), one must put forth effort in order to acquire the ability of placing one's attention on one's body and its postures for as long as one wishes throughout the day and night at all waking hours. If one can keep one's attention fixed for as long as one wishes, then mastery has been obtained over one's mind. Thus does one attain release from the state of a mad man. One now resembles the boatman who has obtained mastery over his rudder, or the owner of the tamed and trained bullock, or the king who employs the tamed andtrained elephant.

There are many kinds, and many grades, of mastery over the mind. The successful practice of body contemplation is, in the Buddha Sasana, the first stage of mastery over one's mind.

Those who do not wish to follow the way of samatha but desire to pursue the path of pure vipassana which is the way of the sukkha-vipassaka individual, should proceed straight to vipassana after the successful establishment of body contemplation.


Excerpted from The Requisites of Enlightenment by Ledi Sayadaw. Copyright © 2007 Buddhist Publication Society. Excerpted by permission of Pariyatti Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Publisher's Foreword

Editor's Preface

Preface to the Second Edition

Translator's Preface

Introduction 3

The Age of Ariyas (Noble Ones) Still Extant 10

I The Requisites of Enlightenment 25

II The Foundations of Mindfulness 26

III The Four Right Efforts 36

Arisen and Not Arisen Unwholesome Acts 39

Arisen and Not-arisen Wholesome Acts 43

Wrong View 43

Arisen and Not-arisen morality 48

Arisen and Not-Arisen Concentration 50

Arisen and Not-arisen Wisdom 52

IV The Bases of Success 55

Iddhi 55

Iddhipada 57

V The Five Controlling Faculties 61

Faith 61

Energy 63

The Predominance of the Faculties 65

VI The Five Mental Powers 72

VII The Seven Factors of Enlightenment 81

VIII The Eight Path Factors 85

Morality 85

Concentration 88

Wisdom 88

Stream-entry 89

IX How to Practice the Bodhipakkhiya Dhammas 94

X The Heritage of the Sasana 97

Index 103

Glossary 110

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