Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 8: Asura

6. The Factors of the Path

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks: “When one person appears in the world, the thirty-seven factors of the path appear in the world. What are the thirty-seven factors of the path? It’s the four abodes of mindfulness,[1] four mental abandonments,[2] four spiritual abilities, five faculties, five powers, seven factors of awakening,and eight true practices[3] that then appear in the world. Who is that one person? He is called the Tathāgata, the Arhat, and the Correctly and Perfectly Awakened One.

3. “Therefore, monks, always obey the Buddha. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

4. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


  1. four abodes of mindfulness. C. 四意止, G. cadu spaduvaṭ́hana, S. catvāri smṛty-upasthānāni, P. cattāro satipaṭṭhāna. This is an older C. translation that lit. means four “mental calmings,” or perhaps “mental stops.” [back]
  2. four mental abandonments. C. 四意斷, S. catvāri samyakprahāṇāni, P. cattāro sammappadhāna. It would appear that a phonetic change of S. pradhāna (P. padhāna) resulted in the equiv. of S. prahāṇa (G. prahana) being adopted in many Buddhist texts. As a result, early C. translations often interpreted “four right efforts” as “four right abandonments,” as this was the literal meaning of S. prahāṇa. Here, the term 意 has been added by the C. translator to convey the psychological nature of the concept, which involves avoiding bad things and nurturing good ones that arise in one’s mind. [back]
  3. eight true practices. C. 八眞行. This may be an alterate epithet for the eightfold path, perhaps equiv. to S. aṣṭa sucaritāni. Sucarita (“practiced well”) was often translated to C. as “wonderful conduct” (妙行), so it’s conceivable that 眞行 could translate this term, too. Elsewhere in EĀ, the noble eightfold path is translated as we would expect (C. 賢聖八品道). [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 15 February 2023