Dīgha Nikāya

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Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume IV

Dīgha Nikāya

Dialogues of the Buddha
Part III

Sutta 33

Saṅgīti Suttantaɱ

The Recital


Translated from the Pali by T.W. Rhys Davids and
C.A.F. Rhys Davids

Public Domain

Originally published under the patronage of
His Majesty King Chulālankarana,
King of Siam
by The Pali Text Society, Oxford


[214] [207]

There are Triple Doctrines, friends, which are perfectly set forth by the Exalted One who knows, who sees.

Herein there should be a chanting by all in concord, not a wrangling, that thus this holy life may persist and be long maintained.

That may be for the welfare and happiness of many folk, for compassion on the world, for the good, the welfare, the happiness of devas and of men.

Which are these?

[3.01][wlsh][olds] 1. Three bad 'roots' (or conditions): — greed, hate, dullness.

[3.02][wlsh][olds] ii. Three good 'roots': — disinterestedness, love; intelligence.[1]

[3.03][wlsh][olds] iii. Three kinds of evil conduct, to wit, in act, word and thought.

[215] [208] [3.04][wlsh][olds] iv. Three kinds of fine conduct, to wit, in act, word and thought.

[3.05][wlsh][olds] v. Three kinds of bad thoughts,[2] to wit, thoughts of sense-desire, of enmity, of cruelty.

[3.06][wlsh][olds] vi. Three kinds of good thoughts, to wit, thoughts of renunciation,[3] of amity, of kindness.

[3.07][wlsh][olds] vii. Three kinds of bad purposes...[as in v.].[4]

[3.08][wlsh][olds] viii. Three kinds of good purposes thoughts of renunciation, of amity, of kindness.

[3.09][wlsh][olds] ix. Three kinds of bad notions...[as in v.].

[3.10][wlsh][olds] x. Three kinds of good notions thoughts of renunciation, of amity, of kindness.

[3.11][wlsh][olds] xi. Three bad elements, to wit, of sense-desire, enmity, cruelty.

[3.12][wlsh][olds] xii. Three good elements, thoughts of renunciation, of amity, of kindness.

[3.13][wlsh][olds] xiii. Other three elements, to wit, the sphere of sense-desire, that of the brahma-world, that of the higher heavens.[5]

[3.14][wlsh][olds] xiv. Other three elements, to wit, the sphere of the brahma-world, that of the higher heavens, that of cessation.[6]

[3.15][wlsh][olds] xv. Other three elements, to wit, low, medium and sublime spheres.[7]

[216] [3.16][wlsh][olds] xvi. Three [directions of] craving, to wit, craving for the pleasure of this life, craving for life to come, craving for life to end.

[209] [3.17][wlsh][olds] xvii. Other three [directions of] craving, to wit, craving for life in the spheres of sense, for life in the brahma (rūpa) world, for life in the higher worlds.

[3.18][wlsh][olds] xviii. Other three [directions of] craving: — craving for life in the lower spheres, for life in the higher spheres, for cessation.[8]

[3.19][wlsh][olds] xix. Three 'fetters,' to wit, the false opinion concerning individuality, doubt, inverted [judgment] as to rule and ritual.[9]

[3.20][wlsh][olds] xx. Three intoxicants, to wit, the poisons[10] of sensuality, future life and ignorance.

[3.21][wlsh][olds] xxi. Three [planes of] rebirths, to wit, the universe of sense-desire, that of the lower and that of the higher worlds.

[3.22][wlsh][olds] xxii. Three quests: — that of sensuous enjoyment, that of life renewed, that of [problems[11] connected with] the religious life.

[3.23][wlsh][olds] xxiii. Three forms [of conceit], to wit(1),'I am better than...,' (2) 'I am equal to ...,' (3) 'I am worse than...'[12]

[3.24][wlsh][olds] xxiv. Three periods, to wit, past, future, present.[13]

[210] [3.25][wlsh][olds] xxv. Three limits, to wit, individuality,[14]its rising, its cessation.[15]

[3.26][wlsh][olds] xxvi. Three [modes of] feelings, to wit, pleasant, painful and neutral feeling.

[3.27][wlsh][olds] xxvii. Three states of suffering, to wit, pain, conditioned existence, change.[16]

[217] [3.28][wlsh][olds] xxviii. Three 'heaps,' to wit, that of wrong-doing entailing immutable evil results, that of well-doing entailing immutable[17] good results, and that of everything not so determined.

[3.29][wlsh][olds] xxix. Three doubts,[18] to wit, doubts, perplexity, inability to decide, dissatisfaction concerning past, future and present.

[3.30][wlsh][olds] xxx. Three things which a Buddha[19] has not to guard against: a Buddha, friends, is pure in conduct whether of act, or speech, or thought. There is no misdeed of any kind concerning which he must take good care lest another should come to know of it.

[3.31][wlsh][olds] xxxi. Three obstacles,[20] to wit, lust, hate, illusion.

[211] [3.32][wlsh][olds] xxxii. Three fires, to wit, lust, hate, illusion.

[3.33][wlsh][olds] xxxiii. Other three fires, to wit, the fire of the worshipful, the fire of the head of the household, the fire of those worthy of offerings.[21]

[3.34][wlsh][olds] xxxiv. Threefold classification of matter, to wit, as visible and resisting, as invisible and resisting, as invisible and unresisting.[22]

[3.35][wlsh][olds] xxxv. Three accumulations,[23] to wit, complexes of merit, of demerit, of influctuate [results].[24]

[218] [3.36][wlsh][olds] xxxvi. Three kinds of persons, to wit, the learner, the adept, he who is neither.[25]

[3.37][wlsh][olds] xxxvii. Three kinds of seniors, to wit, an aged layman, an eminent bhikkhu, a bhikkhu officially ranked as 'senior.'[26]

[3.38][wlsh][olds] xxxviii. Three bases by merit accomplished, to wit, the bases[27] composed of giving, of virtue, of study.

[3.39][wlsh][olds] xxxix. Three bases for reproof, to wit, that which has been seen, that which has been heard, that which one suspects.[28]

[3.40][wlsh][olds] xl. Three uprisings of desires connected with sense: (1) There are beings, friends, whose sense-desires are bound up with the objects thereof, and they are in subjection to such desire. Such are human beings, [212] some devas and some reborn to [one of the four] evil destinies. (2) There are beings who have desires for that which [they have] creates; such are the devas so called (Nimmānarati), who having created one thing after another are in subjection to such desires. (3) There are beings who have desires for the creations of others; and get these into their power; such are the devas[29] so called (Paranimmita-vāsavatti).

[3.41][wlsh][olds] xli. Three happy rebirths:—(1) There are beings, friends, who [in a former birth] having continually produced, dwell now in happiness; such are the devas of the Brahmā group. (2) There are beings who are soaked and steeped in happiness, full of it, pervaded by it. They from time to time pour forth ecstatic utterance saying: 'Oh the bliss of it!' Ah what happiness!' Such are the Radiant Devas.[30] (3) There are beings who are similarly filled with happiness ... pervaded by it; they, serenely blissful, experience only sublime [219] happiness. Such are the Luminous Devas.[31]

[3.42][wlsh][olds] xlii. Three kinds of knowledge: that of the learner, that of the adept, that of him who is neither.

[3.43][wlsh][olds] xliii. Other three kinds of knowledge: — knowledge that is thought out, knowledge that is learned (from another), knowledge that is gained by [cultural] development.[32]

[3.44][wlsh][olds] xliv. Three kins of armour: — that of doctrine learnt, that of detachment,[33] that of knowledge.

[3.45][wlsh][olds] xlv. Three faculties: — that of coming to know the unknown, that of knowing, that of perfected knowledge.[34]

[213] [3.46][wlsh][olds] xlvi. Three kinds of vision, to wit, the eye of flesh, the heavenly eye, the eye of insight.[35]

[3.47][wlsh][olds] xlvii. Three courses of training, to wit, the higher morality, the higher mental training, the higher insight.[36]

[3.48][wlsh][olds] xlviii. Three [branches of] culture, to wit, the culture of sense-impressions,[37] of mind, of insight.

[3.49][wlsh][olds] xlix. Three supreme things, to wit, that of vision, that of procedure, that of freedom.[38]

[3.50][wlsh][olds] l. Three species of concentration:[39] — that of mental application followed by sustained thought, that of sustained thought without mental application, that of concentration without either.

[3.51][wlsh][olds] li. Other three species of concentration: — concentrative insight into 'emptiness,' 'signlessness,' 'end of baneful longing.'[40]

[3.52][wlsh][olds] lii. Three purities, to wit, of action, speech and thought.

[220] [3.53][wlsh][olds] liii. Three factors of the anchorite,[41] to wit, a certain attitude respecting conduct, respecting speech, respecting thought.

[3.54][wlsh][olds] liv. Three proficiencies, to wit, proficiency as to progress, regress, and the means of success.[42]

[3.55][wlsh][olds] lv. Three intoxications, to wit, the pride of health, the ride of youth, the pride of life.

[3.56][wlsh][olds] lvi. Three dominant influences [on effort]: to wit, the influence of self-[criticism], the influence of the community, the influence of spiritual things.

[214] [3.57][wlsh][olds] lvii. Three bases of discourse, to wit (1) discourse may be concerned with the past: — 'Such things were in the past'; (2) discourse may be concerned with the future: — 'So will it be in time to come,' or (3) with the present: — 'So has it come to pass at the present day.'

[3.58][wlsh][olds] lviii. Three branches of wisdom, to wit, knowledge of one's former lives, knowledge of the decease and rebirth of beings, knowledge in the destruction of the 'intoxicants.'[43]

[3.59][wlsh][olds] lix. Three states, to wit, deva-consciousness, the divine states, the Ariyan state.[44]

[3.60][wlsh][olds] lx. Three wonders, to wit, the wonder of mystic power, the wonder of manifestation, the wonder of education.[45]

These, friends, are the Triple Doctrines perfectly set forth by the Exalted One who knows, who sees.

Hereon there should be a chanting by all in concord, not a wrangling, that thus this holy life may persist and be long maintained.

That may be for the welfare and happiness of many folk, for compassion on the world, for the good, the welfare, the happiness of devas and of men.


[1] Literally, the negatives of the three in 1. They are invested, in Pali, with a positive force; they are contraries, logically speaking, not contradictories. B. allows an alternative reading: akusala-mūlaɱ means either 'bad root' or 'root of all that is bad.' 'Bad,' for a Buddhist, means 'productive of painful result,' 'demeritorious.'

[2] Vitakkā: an unspecialized expression in the Nikāyas; in Abidhamma, inception of cogitative activity. Cf. 213

[3] Nekkhamma. B. does not analyze this term. By the context it is the contrary of kāma (sense-desire). 'All good states are nekkhamma-dhātu.' Comy.

[4] Sankappa. 'There is no difference in the meaning (content, attha) of sankappa and vitakka.' Comy. Cf. Compendium, p.238.

[5] Arūpadhātu. Here dhātu is used to mean the place reached in rebirths (āgataṭṭhānasmiṅ bhavena), says B., and describes the three in the terms used in Dhs. (Bud. Psy. Eth.), §§1281-6. It will be seen that the lowest (5) spheres are included in the universe of sense desire (Kāma; below, 3.40, 3.41.).

[6] Nibbāna is here referred to. Comy. Cf. below, 3.18

[7] I.e., the twelve classes of bad thoughts (Bud. Psy. Eth., § 365, f.), all other worldly (secular) thoughts, and (3) the nine spiritual thoughts. Comy. In the 'Bahudhātuka Sutta' (M. III, 61 f.), dhātu's are enumerated in one category of 18, three of 6, one of 3, and one of 2.

[8] Here taken in the sense of 'for life to end' (3.16), the Uccheda or Annihilationist view. See Vibhanga, 365 f., where the 3 threes are defined, and which B. quotes. B. concludes: 'What did he teach in this section (3.16-3.18)? That under the aspect of lusting, all ideas of life are based on [what is termed] taṇhā, and as all taṇhā is permeated (pariyāditvā) by sensuous craving, he shows the other two forms as deduced (niharitvā) from that.' Cf. above, 3.16.

[9] See Expositor i, 65. B.'s note on the first runs: belief in the actual existence of a kāya consisting in body and mind — i.e., of a soul (attā) in either of them.

[10] 'Āsava, in the sense of surrounding, or of flowing up to ... e.g., from the eye (or sight) a flowing, percolating, rolling on into the object ... Abhidhamma, adding diṭṭhi (erroneous opinion), gives four.' Comy. Cf. Dhs., §§ 1096-1100, and above, p. 175, n.1.

[11] Brahmacariyesanā — i.e., eschatological problems, concerning the soul and its beginning, nature, and ending (antagāhikā diṭṭhi). See Vibh., p.366.

[12] See Vibh. 367; S. I, 12 (20); III, 48. The first form, says B., besets kings and recluses; the second, the king's officials; the third form is characteristic of servants (?).

[13] Addhā. The Four Nikāyas use addhānaṅ, e.g., A. V. 32; S. I, 140. B. distinguishes between the religious and philosophical denotation of addhā (Suttanta-, Abhidhamma-pariyāyuā). In the former, 'the present' refers to one span of life; 'the past' is time prior to this span of life; 'the future' is time after decease from this life. In the latter, the present is any threefold instant (nascent, static, cessant); past and future precede and follow that.

[14] Sakkāyo. 'The five aggregates (body and mind) of grasping.' Comy.

[15] 'The discontinuance, extinction (nibbāna) of both.' Comy.

[16] The first dukkhatā is painful feeling, the second is neutral feeling, but is our oppressed awareness of the tyranny of birth, old age, and dissolution. The third is pleasant feeling, but with the accompanying sense of liability to be plunged into sorrow. Such is the substance of B.'s comment.

[17] Niyata: certain, fixed. The first are the crimes enumerated in Points, 80, n. 5; df. p. 177, n.1; the second, the fourfold Path and its fruits. On 'heap' see op. cit. XXI, 7

[18] B. reads tamā for kankhā: 'obfuscations.'

[19] Tathāgata, here clearly meaning a Buddha, at least according to commentarial tradition, since B. proceeds to show the little difference in the case of 'other Arahants,' who needed to take care. He instances the conduct of Sāriputta in the 'Cātuma-sutta,' M. I, 459, explaining the latter's motive. Cf. Ang. IV, 82, where the 'friends' is omitted.

[20] Literally, 'somewhats.' The secondary meaning is paraphrased by 'palibodho.' Cf. B. here, and Comy. on Dhp. 200 (III, 258).

[21] I.e., the ministry due to parents, to children, wife and dependents, and to the religious world. Ang. IV, 45; cf. II, 70.

[22] Or non-reacting. A psycho-physical category. See Bud. Psy. Eth., §§ 754-6. The third kind is also applicable to very subtle matter. Comy.

[23] Saṅkhāra: — because 'they compound co-existent states and states of future-life-results; they make a heap (rāsiɱ).' Comy. But cf. above, p.204, n.2.

[24] Aneñjabhisankhāro: — it compounds what is immovable ... has become result, is immaterial ... a synonym for will for rebirth in the Arūpa heavens. Comy. Cf. S. II, 82 f.; Vibh. 135, 340.

[25] I.e., the puthujjana, or 'man in the street,' average person.

[26] Whom the novices speak of as 'thera.' Comy.

[27] Grounds for profit, advantages.

[28] To be consulted in detail in the Sāmanta pāsādikā (B.'s Comy. on the Vinaya). Comy.

[29] These two curiously named groups are the highest stages of life in the 'sensuous universe.' Cf. below, p.241

[30] Devā Ābhassarā. Cf. Kindred Sayings, p. 144, and Compendium, p. 138.

[31] Subhakiṇha devas; ninth in the Rūpa worlds. For tesan taṅ yeva the Comy. reads te santam eva, santam meaning paṇitaṅ.

[32] Cf. Bud. Psy., p. 130.

[33] Detachment of body (solitude), of mind (purity), and from the conditions of rebirth. Comy.

[34] Cf. Bud. Psy. Eth., §§ 296, 364a, 555; Vibh., p. 124; P.P., p.2; Yam. II, 61.

[35] Cf. Iti-vuttaka, § 61.

[36] Cf. A. I, 235; Buddhism (by Mrs. Rhys Davids), 1912, p. 199 f.

[37] Kāyo, usually, in Abidhamma, referring to the psycho-physical mechanism of sense. Culture is literally making to become, developing.

[38] B. refers these to categories of Path, Fruit, and Nibbāna, with alternative assignments.

[39] Samādhi. Cf. M. III, 162; S. IV, 360; A. IV, 300; Compendium 95.

[40] Cf. Bud. Psy. Eth., p. 91 f.; Compendium 216.

[41] Moneyyāni: munibhāvakarā dhammā. Comy.

[42] Ayo, apāyo, upāyo; derivatives from i, to go. The second more usually covers all evil rebirth.

[43] Or Āsavas. On the annexation, with the meaning above given, of the adjective te-vijjo, see Psalms of the Sisters, 26, n. 2. B. exegetically paraphrases vijjā as tamaṅ vijjhati, pierces the gloom, i.e., of the unknown.

[44] The first is the conscious experience of the 'Eight Attainments' or Jhānas, the second that of the Four Exercises in sublime emotion (cf. I, p. 317 f.), the third is that of the Fruitions.

[45] See I, p. 277 f.


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