Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 15: Existence and Inexistence

2. Two Kinds of Views (2)

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, “There are two kinds of views. What are the two? They are the views of existence and the views of inexistence. Of those, which are the views of existence? They are the view of desire existence, view of form existence, and view of formless existence.

3. “What is the view of desire existence? This refers to the five desires. What are the five desires? They are forms seen by the eye that are extremely desirable, esteemed, and thought about. Having never abandoned forms, worldly people revere them. When the ear hears sounds … nose smells odors … tongue tastes flavors … body feels tender touches … mind cognizes notions … These are said to be the views of existence.[1]

4. “What are the views of inexistence? They are the view of permanence, view of impermanence, view of something being destroyed, view of nothing being destroyed, view of being limited, view of being limitless, view of having a self, view of no self, view of having life, view of no life, view of other selves, view of other lives … These sixty-two views are called views of inexistence and unreal views. These are said to be the views of inexistence.[2]

5. “Therefore, monks, you should abandon these two kinds of views. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”

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


  1. These are said to be the views of existence. Unfortunately, the definitions of the next two views of form and formless existence have been abbreviated away or lost. Presumably, they would have been related to the form and formless realm heavens. [back]
  2. These are said to be views of inexistence. This definition may at first seem strange until we remember that the sixty-two views as found in the Brahmajāla Sūtra (DN 2 and DĀ 21) are broadly speculative views about the past and future. Outside of the Sarvāstivādins, Buddhists didn’t consider the past and future existent. Thus, this particular definition of existence and inexistence is based on the three times: The present world is existence and the past and future are inexistence.
    I’ve not yet found another source that defines these two views in this way, but this passage would be a point against the possibility that this EĀ belonged to a Sarvāstivāda canon. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 30 August 2023