Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Visuddhimagga - Purification By Knowledge and Vision of the Way - Knowledge of rise and fall—II; dissolution

Translated from the Pali
Kandy Sri Lanka


1. [639] Now insight reaches its culmination with the eight knowl-
edges, and knowledge in conformity with truth1
is ninth; these are what
is called purification by knowledge and vision of the way.
The eight should be understood as follows: (1) knowledge of con-
templation of rise and fall, which is insight free from imperfections and
steady on its course, (2) knowledge of contemplation of dissolution, (3)
knowledge of appearance as terror, (4) knowledge of contemplation of
danger, (5) knowledge of contemplation of dispassion, (6) knowledge of
desire for deliverance, (7) knowledge of contemplation of reflexion, and
(8) knowledge of equanimity about formations.
'Knowledge in conformity with truth as ninth' is a term for confor-
So one who wants to perfect this should make these kinds of knowl-
edge his task, starting with knowledge of rise and fall free from imper-
2. But why does he again pursue knowledge of rise and fall? To ob-
serve the [three] characteristics. The knowledge of rise and fall already
dealt with, being disabled by the ten imperfections, was not capable of
observing the three characteristics in their true nature; but once freed
from imperfections, it is able to do so. So he should pursue it again here
in order to observe the characteristics. [640]

3. Now the characteristics fail to become apparent when something is
not given attention and so something conceals them. What is that? Firstly,
the characteristic of impermanence does not become apparent because,
when rise and fall are not given attention, it is concealed by continuity.
The characteristic of pain does not become apparent because, when con-
tinuous oppression is not given attention, it is concealed by the postures.
The characteristic of not-self does not become appparent because, when
resolution into the various elements is not given attention, it is concealed
by compactness.
4. However, when continuity is disrupted by discerning rise and fall,
the characteristic of impermanence becomes apparent in its true nature.

When the postures are exposed by attention to continuous oppression,
the characteristic of pain becomes apparent in its true nature. When the
resolution of the compact is effected by resolution into elements, the
characteristic of not-self becomes apparent in its true nature.
5. And here the following differences should be understood: the imper-
manent, and the characteristic of impermanence; the painful, and the
characteristic of pain; the not-self, and the characteristic of not-self.
6. Herein, the five aggregates are impermanent. Why? Because they
rise and fall and change, or because of their non-existence after having
been. Rise and fall and change are the characteristic of impermanence;
or mode alteration, in other words, non-existence after having been [is
the characteristic of impermanence].
7. Those same five aggregates are painful because of the words, 'What
is impermanent is painful' (S.iii,22). Why? Because of continuous op-
pression. The mode of being continuously oppressed is the characteristic
of pain.
8. Those same five aggregates are not-self because of the words, 'What
is painful is not-self (S.iii,22). Why? Because there is no exercising of
power over them. The mode of insusceptibility to the exercise of power
is the characteristic of not-self.
9. The meditator observes all this in its true nature with the knowledge
of the contemplation of rise and fall, in other words, with insight free
from imperfections and steady on its course.
10. When he repeatedly observes in this way, and examines and investi-
gates material and immaterial states, [to see] that they are impermanent,
painful, and not-self, then if his knowledge works keenly, formations
quickly become apparent.
Once his knowledge works keenly and forma-
tions quickly become apparent, he no longer extends his mindfulness to
their arising or presence or occurrence or sign, but brings it to bear only
on their cessation as destruction, fall and breakup.
11. When insight knowledge has arisen in him in this way so that he
sees how the field of formations, having arisen thus, ceases thus, it is
called contemplation of dissolution at that stage,
with reference to which
it is said:
'Understanding of contemplation of dissolution, after reflecting on
an object—how is this knowledge of insight?
'Consciousness with materiality as its object arises and dissolves.
Having reflected on that object, he contemplates the dissolution of that
' "He contemplates": how does he contemplate? He contemplates as

impermanent, not as permanent; he contemplates as painful, not as pleas-
ant; he contemplates as not-self, not as self; he becomes dispassionate,
he does not delight; he causes fading away of greed, he does not inflame
it; he causes cessation, not origination; he relinquishes, he does not
grasp. Contemplating as impermanent, he abandons the perception of
permanence. Contemplating as painful, he abandons the perception of
pleasure. Contemplating as not-self, he abandons the perception of self.
Becoming dispassionate, he abandons delight. Causing fading away, he
abandons greed. Causing cessation, he abandons originating. Relinquish-
ing, he abandons grasping.
'Consciousness with feeling as its object ... Consciousness with
perception as its object ... with formations as its object ... with con-
sciousness as its object ... with eye as its object ... (etc.—see Ch. XX,
§9) ... with ageing-and-death as its object ... Relinquishing, he aban-
dons grasping.
'The substitution of the object,
The transference of understanding,
The power of adverting—these
Are insight following reflection.
'Defining both to be alike
By inference from that same object,
Intentness on cessation—these
Are insight in the mark of fall.
'Having reflected on the object
Dissolution he contemplates,
Appearance then as empty—this
Is insight of higher understanding.
'Skilled in the three contemplations,
And in the fourfold insight too,
Skilled in the three appearances,
The various views will shake him not.
'Knowledge is in the sense of that being known and understanding
in the sense of the act of understanding that. Hence it was said: "Under-
standing of contemplating dissolution, after reflecting on an object, is
knowledge of insight'*' (Ps.i,57f.).
12. Herein, after reflecting on an object is having reflected on, having
known, any object; the meaning is, having seen it as liable to destruction
and fall. Understanding of the contemplation of dissolution: any under-
standing of the contemplation of the dissolution of the knowledge arisen
after reflecting on the object as liable to destruction and fall is called

knowledge of insight. [642] How has the meaning of a question showing
desire to expound.
13. Next, in order to show how that comes about, consciousness with
materiality as its object, etc., is said. Herein, consciousness with materi-
ality as its object arises and dissolves: rupdrammanatd c it tarn uppajjitvd
bhijjati [is the equivalent of] rupdrammanarh cittarh uppajjitvd bhijjati;
or the meaning is rupdrammanabhdve cittarh uppajjitvd bhijjati [alterna-
tive grammatical substitution]. Having reflected on that object: having
reflected on, having known, that object consisting of materiality; the
meaning is, having seen it as liable to destruction and fall. He contem-
plates the dissolution of that consciousness: by means of a subsequent
consciousness he contemplates the dissolution of that consciousness with
which that object consisting of materiality was seen as liable to destruc-
tion and fall. Hence the Ancients said: 'He sees with insight both the
known and the knowledge'.
14. He contemplates (anupassati): he sees always accordingly (anu anu
passati); the meaning is, he sees again and again in various modes.
Hence it is said: 'He contemplates': how does he contemplated? He con-
templates as impermanent, and so on.
15. Herein, dissolution is the culminating point of impermanence, and
so the meditator contemplating dissolution contemplates the whole field
of formations as impermanent, not as permanent} Then, because of the
painfulness of what is impermanent and because of the non-existence of
self in what is painful, he contemplates that same whole field of forma-
tions as painful, not as pleasant, he contemplates it as not-self not as
16. But what is impermanent, painful, not-self, is not something to de-
light in; and what is not something to delight in is not something to
arouse greed for; consequently, when that field of formations is seen as
impermanent, painful, not-self, in accordance with the contemplation of
dissolution, then he becomes dispassionate, he does not delight; he causes
fading away of greed, he does not inflame it. When he does not inflame
greed thus, he causes cessation of greed, not its origination, which hap-
pens firstly by means of mundane knowledge;
the meaning is, he does
not cause origination.
17. Or alternatively, having thus caused the fading away of greed, and
caused the cessation of the seen field of formations, he causes the cessa-
tion of the unseen too by means of inferential knowledge, he does not
originate it. He gives attention only to its cessation, he sees only its
cessation, not its origin, is the meaning.
18. Progressing in this way, he relinquishes, he does not grasp. What is
meant? [What is meant is that] this contemplation of impermanence, etc.,

is also called both 'relinquishment as giving up' and 'relinquishment as
entering into' (see Ps.i,194) because, by substitution of opposite quali-
ties, it gives up defilements along with aggregate producing kamma-for-
mations, and because, by seeing the unsatisfactoriness of what is formed,
[643] it also enters into, by inclining towards, nibbana, which is the
opposite of the formed. Therefore the bhikkhu who possesses that [con-
templation] gives up defilements and enters into nibbana in the way
stated, he does not grasp (cling to) defilements by causing rebirth, nor
does he grasp (cling to) a formed object through failing to see its unsatis-
factoriness. Hence it was said: he relinquishes, he does not grasp,
19. Now in order to show which states are abandoned by these three
kinds of knowledge, contemplating as impermanent, he abandons the
perception ofpermanencey etc., is said. Herein, delight is craving accom-
panied by happiness. The rest is as already stated.
20. As to the stanzas: the substitution of the object [means that] after
seeing the dissolution of materiality, there is the substitution of another
object for that first object by seeing the dissolution of the consciousness
by which the dissolution [of materiality] was seen. Transference of un-
derstanding is the abandoning of rise and the specializing in fall. The
power of adverting is the ability, after seeing the dissolution of material-
ity, to advert immediately for the purpose of seeing the dissolution of the
consciousness that had that dissolution as its object. Are insight follow-
ing reflection: this is called contemplation of dissolution after reflecting
on an object.
21. Defining both to be alike by inference from that same object: the
meaning is that by inference, by induction, from the object seen by
actual experience he defines both [the seen and the unseen] to have a
single individual essence thus, 'The field of formations dissolved in the
past, and will break up in the future, just as it does [in the present]'. And
this is said by the Ancients:
'With vision of those present purified
He infers those past and future to be alike;
He infers that all formations disappear,
Like dew-drops when the morning sun comes up'.
22. Jntentness on cessation: after thus giving to both a single definition
based on their dissolution, he thus becomes intent on cessation, in other
words, on that same dissolution. The meaning is that he attaches impor-
tance to it, inclines, tends, leans towards it. Are insight in the mark of
fall: what is meant is that this is called insight into the characteristic of
23. Having reflected on the object: having first known the object con-
sisting of materiality, and so on. Dissolution he contemplates: having

seen the dissolution of that object, he contemplates the dissolution of the
consciousness that had that as its object. [644]
24. Appearance then as empty: while he is contemplating dissolution in
this way, he succeeds in making [formations] appear as void thus, 'Only
formations breakup; their breakup is death; there is nothing else at all'.
Hence the Ancients said:
'Aggregates cease and nothing else exists;
Breakup of aggregates is known as death.
He watches their destruction steadfastly,
As one who with a diamond drills a gem'.
25. Is insight of higher understanding: what is meant is that the reflex-
ion on the object, the contemplation of dissolution, and the appearance
as void are called insight of higher understanding.
26. Skilled in the three contemplations: a bhikkhu who is competent in
the three beginning with contemplation of impermanence. And in the
fourfold insight too: in the four kinds of insight beginning with dispas-
sion. Skilled in the three appearances: and owing to skill in this three-
fold appearance, namely, as liable to destruction and fall, as terror, and
as void.
The various views will shake him not: he does not vacillate on
account of the various kinds of views such as the eternity view.
27. When he no longer vacillates and so constantly bears in mind that
the unceased will also cease, the undissolved will also dissolve, then he
disregards the arising, presence, occurrence and sign of all formations,
which keep on breaking up, like fragile pottery being smashed, like fine
dust being dispersed, like sesamum seeds being roasted, and he sees only
their breakup. Just as a man with eyes standing on the bank of a pond or
on the bank of a river during heavy rain would see large bubbles appear-
ing on the surface of the water and breaking up as soon as they appeared,
so too he sees how formations break up all the time. The Blessed One
said of such a meditator:
'And he who looks upon the world
As one who looks upon a bubble,
As one who looks upon a mirage,
Is out of sight of Death the King' (Dh. 170).
28. When he constantly sees that all formations thus break up all the
time, then contemplation of dissolution grows strong in him, bringing
eight advantages, which are these: abandoning of [false] view of becom-
ing, giving up attachment to life, constant application, a purified liveli-
hood, no more anxiety, absence of fear, acquisition of patience and gen-
tleness, and conquest of aversion (boredom) and sensual delight. [645]
Hence the Ancients said:

'On seeing these eight perfect qualities
He comprehends formations constantly,
Seeing breakup in order to attain
The Deathless, like the sage with burning turban'
(see S.v,440).
Knowledge of contemplation of dissolution is ended.


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