Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Medium Discourses

Chapter 1: Sevens

10. Ending the Contaminants

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha traveled to Kuru and stayed at the Kuru town of [Karmasadharma].

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “It’s because of knowing and seeing that the contaminants can be ended, not by not knowing and not seeing. How can the contaminants be ended because of knowing and seeing?

Right Consideration

3. “There is right consideration and consideration that’s not right. If someone doesn’t rightly consider, contaminants of desire yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase.

4. “If someone rightly considers, contaminants of desire yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease.

5. “Still, ordinary fools don’t listen to the right teaching, don’t meet true friends, and don’t know the noble teaching. They aren’t disciplined by the noble teaching and don’t know the teaching as it truly is.

6. “When someone doesn’t rightly consider, contaminants of desire yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase.

7. “When someone rightly considers, contaminants of desire yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease.

8. “Because someone doesn’t know the teaching as it truly is, they think things that shouldn’t be thought and don’t think things that should be thought. Because they think things that shouldn’t be thought and don’t think things that should be thought, contaminants of desire yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase. Contaminants of existence [432a] and ignorance yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase.

9. “Well-versed noble disciples hear the right teaching and meet true friends. They are disciplined by the noble teaching and know the teaching as it truly is.

10. “When someone doesn’t rightly consider, contaminants of desire yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise will arise, and those that have already arisen will readily increase.

11. “When someone rightly considers, contaminants of desire yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease.

12. “After knowing the teaching as it truly is, they don’t think things that shouldn’t be thought and think things that should be thought. Because they don’t think things that shouldn’t be thought and think things that should be thought, contaminants of desire yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease. Contaminants of existence and ignorance yet to arise won’t arise, and those that have already arisen will readily cease.

Seven Things That Stop the Contaminants

13. “There are seven things that stop the contaminants, afflictions, and grief. What are the seven? There are contaminants stopped by seeing, contaminants stopped by guarding, contaminants stopped by avoiding, contaminants stopped by using, contaminants stopped by tolerating, contaminants stopped by removing, and contaminants stopped by considering.

1. Seeing

14. “How are contaminants stopped by seeing? Ordinary fools can’t hear the right teaching, don’t meet true friends, and don’t know the noble teaching. They aren’t disciplined by the noble teaching and don’t know the teaching as it truly is. Because they don’t rightly consider, they then think, ‘I have past lives.’ ‘I have no past lives.’ ‘What were the causes of my past lives?’ ‘What were my past lives?’ ‘I’ll have future lives.’ ‘I’ll have no future lives.’ ‘What will be the causes of my future lives?’ ‘What will be my future lives?’

15. “They doubt themselves. ‘What does this mean?’ ‘What is this?’ ‘Where did this sentient being come from?’ ‘Where will it go?’ ‘What were the causes for its existence in the past?’ ‘What will be the causes for its existence in the future?’

16. “They make such considerations that aren’t right. From six views, the view arises accordingly: ‘There really is a soul.’ That view arises and gives rise to ‘There really is no soul.’ That view arises and gives rise to ‘The soul sees the soul.’ That views arises and gives rise to ‘The soul sees what’s not the soul.’ That view arises and gives rise to ‘What’s not the soul sees the soul.’ That view arises and gives rise to ‘The soul speaks, knows, acts, teaches, initiates actions, and initiates teachings. It’s born in one place or another and receives the results of good and bad [acts],’ or ‘It certainly comes from nowhere, certainly doesn’t exist, and certainly won’t exist.’

17. “This is called the downfall of views, being moved by views, and being tied by the bond of views. Because of them, ordinary fools then experience the pains of birth, old age, illness, and death.

18. “Well-versed noble disciples hear the right teaching and meet true friends. They are disciplined by the noble teaching and know the teaching as it truly is. They know suffering as it truly is. They know suffering’s accumulation, know suffering’s cessation, and know the path to suffering’s cessation as they truly are.

19. “After thus knowing them as they truly are, the three fetters then are ended, which are belief in the individual, adherence to precepts, and doubt. After ending the three fetters, they attain stream entry. They won’t fall into bad states and are certainly headed for right awakening. They’ll experience at most seven existences. After seven rebirths up in heaven or among humans, they’ll readily attain the limit of suffering.

20. “If someone doesn’t know and see, then affliction and grief will arise. When they know and see, affliction and grief won’t arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by seeing.

2. Guarding

21. “How are the contaminants stopped by guarding? A monk who guards the eye faculty as it sees forms observes what’s impure with right consideration. Someone who doesn’t guard the eye faculty doesn’t rightly consider it because they observe it as pure. If someone doesn’t guard their faculties, then affliction and grief will arise. When they are guarded, affliction and grief won’t arise.

22. “So it is when someone’s ear … nose … tongue … body … mind faculty perceives things. Someone who guards their mind faculty observes what’s impure with right consideration. Someone who doesn’t guard the mental faculty doesn’t rightly consider it because they observe it as pure. If someone doesn’t guard their faculties, then affliction and grief will arise. When they are guarded, affliction and grief won’t arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by guarding.

3. Avoiding

23. “How are the contaminants stopped by avoiding? A monk who sees a bad elephant then will avoid it. Bad horses, bad cattle, bad dogs, venomous snakes, bad paths, ditches, pits, hedges, rivers, deep springs, mountains, cliffs, bad associates, bad friends, bad heretics, bad villages, and bad homes should all be avoided by a monk if other religious practitioners who share the same dwelling would cause people without doubts to become doubtful [of him]. If they aren’t avoided, affliction and grief will arise. When they are avoided, affliction and grief won’t arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by avoiding.

4. Using

24. “How are the contaminants stopped by using? Suppose a monk uses robes not for profit, not because of pride, and not for ornamentation but only because of insects, wind, rain, cold, heat, and modesty.

25. “Suppose he uses food not for profit, not because of pride, and not for the rich pleasure of it but only to make his body long-lasting, to remove afflictions and grief, to live the religious practice, because he wishes an illness to end and new illnesses not to arise, and to abide in comfort and without illness for a long time.

26. “Suppose he uses a house, a hut, a floor, or bedding not for profit, not because of pride, and not for ornamentation but only for rest from weariness and to sit quietly.

27. “Suppose he uses hot water and medicine not for profit, not because of pride, and not for the rich pleasure of it but only to remove illness and discomfort, to manage his life root, and to be comfortable and without illness. If these things aren’t used, affliction and grief will arise. When they are used, affliction and grief won’t arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by using.

5. Tolerating

28. “How are the contaminants stopped by tolerating? A monk makes effort to end what’s bad and unwholesome and cultivate good qualities, so he always has the idea of rising [early]. He concentrates his mind and endeavors. His body’s skin, muscles, sinews, bones, blood, and marrow become withered, but he doesn’t abandon his efforts. Only when he obtains what he seeks will he abandon his effort.

29. “Again, a monk can tolerate hunger, thirst, cold, heat, biting and stinging insects, the oppression of wind and sun, and harsh sounds. He can also tolerate being caned. When he encounters illnesses or extreme pain and when his life is about to end, he’s capable of tolerating such unpleasantness. If someone doesn’t tolerate them, affliction and grief will arise. When they are tolerated, affliction and grief will not arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by tolerating.

6. Removing

30. “How are the contaminants stopped by removing? Suppose a monk gives rise to thoughts of desire that have not been removed or abandoned. He gives rise to thoughts of anger and thoughts of harmfulness that have not been removed or abandoned. If someone doesn’t remove them, affliction and grief will arise. When they are removed, affliction and grief won’t arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by removing.

7. Considering

31. “How are the contaminants stopped by considering? Suppose a monk considers the first awakening factor of mindfulness, supported by seclusion, lack of desire, and complete cessation which lead to escape. He considers qualities, effort, joy, calm, concentration, and the seventh awakening factor of equanimity, supported by seclusion, lack of desire, and complete cessation which lead to escape. If someone doesn’t consider them, affliction and grief will arise. When they are considered, affliction and grief won’t arise. This is called stopping the contaminants by considering.

32. “Suppose a monk sets out to stop the contaminants by seeing, and they are stopped because of seeing … to stop the contaminants by guarding, and they are stopped because of guarding … to stop the contaminants by avoiding, and they are stopped because of avoiding … to stop the contaminants by using, and they are stopped because of using … to stop the contaminants by tolerating, and they are stopped because of tolerating … to stop the contaminants by removing, and they are stopped because of removing … to stop the contaminants by considering, and they are stopped because of considering. He’s called a monk who was once bound by all the contaminants and who’s now free. He can reach the limit of suffering with right knowledge.”

33. The Buddha spoke thus. The monks who heard what the Buddha taught rejoiced and approved.


Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 2 July 2020