Attributes of an Arahant

Attributes of an Arahant

The teach­ing of Bud­dhism is prac­ti­cal and empha­sizes things that lead to insight and well-being.1 Bud­dhism does not encour­age con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing and debat­ing over things that should be realised through prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion, unless it is nec­es­sary for basic under­stand­ing. In rela­tion to the study of Nib­bā­na, rather than dis­cussing the state of Nib­bā­na direct­ly, it may be of more val­ue to study those per­sons who have real­ized Nib­bā­na, as well as the ben­e­fits of real­iza­tion appar­ent in the life and char­ac­ter of such per­sons.

We can gain some insight into the nature of ara­hants by look­ing at the epi­thets used for them in the scrip­tures. Here is a selec­tion of these epi­thets, which express appre­ci­a­tion for their virtue, puri­ty, excel­lence, and degree of spir­i­tu­al attain­ment:

  • Anup­pat­ta-sadattha: one who has attained well-being.
  • Ara­hant: ‘wor­thy one’; a per­son far from men­tal defile­ment.
  • Asekha: one who has fin­ished train­ing; a per­son not requir­ing train­ing; a per­son pos­sess­ing the qual­i­ties of an adept (asekha-dham­ma).
  • Kata karaṇīya: a per­son who has done what had to be done.
  • Khīṇāsa­va: a per­son free from men­tal taints (āsa­va).
  • Mahā-purisa: a per­son great in virtue; one who acts for the wel­fare of the many­folk; one who has self-mas­tery.
  • Ohitab­hāra: one who has laid down the bur­den.
  • Para­ma-kusala: a per­son pos­sess­ing supe­ri­or whole­some qual­i­ties.
  • Parikkhīṇa-bha­va-saṁy­o­jana: one who has destroyed the fet­ters (saṁy­o­jana), which bind peo­ple to exis­tence.
  • Sam­madaññā-vimut­ta: a per­son released through con­sum­mate knowl­edge.
  • Sam­pan­na-kusala: a per­son per­fect­ed in whole­some­ness.
  • Utta­ma-purisa: a supreme per­son; a most excel­lent per­son.
  • Vusi­ta­vant or vusi­ta brah­macariya: a per­son who has ful­filled the holy life.

Many oth­er terms were orig­i­nal­ly used by oth­er reli­gious tra­di­tions, but their mean­ing was altered to accord with the essen­tial prin­ci­ples of Dham­ma-Vinaya, for exam­ple:

  • Ariya (or ariya-pug­gala): a noble per­son; an excel­lent per­son; a per­son who has devel­oped non-vio­lence towards all beings. Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to mem­bers of the first three castes or to those who are ‘noble’ (Aryan) by birth.
  • Brāh­maṇa: a ‘true brah­man’; a per­son who has passed beyond evil by aban­don­ing all unwhole­some qual­i­ties. Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to mem­bers of the high­est caste.
  • Dakkhiṇeyya: one wor­thy of offer­ings. Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to those brah­mans who were wor­thy of a reward for con­duct­ing sac­ri­fices.
  • Kevalī or kebalī: a ‘whole’ per­son; a ‘com­plete’ per­son. Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to the high­est indi­vid­ual in the Jain reli­gion.
  • Nahā­ta­ka: one who has been ‘cer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly bathed’; one who has ‘bathed in the Dham­ma’; one who has puri­fied his or her voli­tion­al actions (kam­ma); one who is a refuge for all beings. Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to a brah­man who passed through a rit­u­al of bathing and was ele­vat­ed in sta­tus.
  • Samaṇa: a tran­quil per­son; one who has quelled the defile­ments. Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to renun­ciants in gen­er­al.
  • Vedagū: a per­son who has arrived at knowl­edge; one who is well-versed in knowl­edge and who is released from attach­ment to sen­sa­tions (vedanā). Orig­i­nal­ly, this term referred to a brah­man who had fin­ished study­ing the three Vedas.2

To under­stand the nature of an ara­hant it is nec­es­sary to con­sid­er the epi­thets in the con­text of the teach­ings in which they are men­tioned, for exam­ple: the Three Taints (āsa­va), the Three Train­ings (sikkhā), the Ten Qual­i­ties of an Adept (asekha-dham­ma), the Ten Fet­ters (saṁy­o­jana), and the holy life (brah­macariya) as the Eight­fold Path.

Many Bud­dhists tend to describe the attrib­ut­es of an ara­hant and of oth­er awak­ened beings from a per­spec­tive of nega­tion, by deter­min­ing those defile­ments that have been aban­doned or dis­pelled. For exam­ple, a stream-enter­er has elim­i­nat­ed the first three fet­ters (saṁy­o­jana); a once-return­er has elim­i­nat­ed these three fet­ters and fur­ther atten­u­at­ed greed, hatred, and delu­sion; a non-return­er has elim­i­nat­ed the first five fet­ters; and an ara­hant has elim­i­nat­ed all ten fet­ters. Alter­na­tive­ly, they define an ara­hant briefly as ‘one who is with­out greed, hatred and delu­sion’ or ‘one who is free from defile­ment.’ Such def­i­n­i­tions are use­ful in that they are clear and pro­vide sim­ple stan­dards of eval­u­a­tion. But they are lim­it­ed; they do not clear­ly demon­strate the excep­tion­al char­ac­ter­is­tics and promi­nent fea­tures of awak­ened beings, nor do they describe how such beings live vir­tu­ous lives and ben­e­fit the world at large.

In fact, there are many terms and pas­sages describ­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics of an ara­hant in affir­ma­tive ways. Many descrip­tions or expla­na­tions of ara­hants, how­ev­er, cov­er a wide range of sub­ject mate­r­i­al, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to sum­ma­rize the pos­i­tive attrib­ut­es in a clear­ly defined, well-ordered way. Oth­er­wise, they recount spe­cif­ic inci­dents and indi­vid­u­als, but do not describe attrib­ut­es com­mon to all ara­hants.

An impor­tant term in this con­text is bhāvi­tat­ta, which is lit­er­al­ly trans­lat­ed as ‘one who has devel­oped him­self’ or ‘one who is self-developed.’3 This term is used for all ara­hants: the Bud­dha, the Silent Bud­dhas (pac­ce­ka-bud­dhā), and all ara­hant dis­ci­ples of the Bud­dha. For exam­ple, in the Mahā­parinib­bā­na Sut­ta, while the Bud­dha is trav­el­ling to the place of his final pass­ing away, he is referred to as the ‘Devel­oped One.’

Sur­round­ed by and amidst the group of monks, the Bud­dha trav­elled to the riv­er Kakut­thā,4 and bathed in and drank from its clear, bright, clean waters…. He trav­elled to the Man­go Grove and said to the bhikkhu Cun­da­ka: ‘Lay out an out­er robe fold­ed into four lay­ers for me to lie upon.’ And thus prompt­ed by the great Adept (bhāvit­ta), Cun­da­ka quick­ly laid out an out­er robe fold­ed into four lay­ers.5

A sim­i­lar expres­sion is found in the ques­tion by the brah­man stu­dent Met­tagū:

Blessed One, I wish to make an inquiry. Please tell me the mean­ing; I will thus con­sid­er the ven­er­a­ble sir to be a mas­ter of knowl­edge (vedagū), a ful­ly devel­oped one (bhāvi­tat­ta). From where does all this abun­dant and diverse suf­fer­ing in the world come?6

The Bud­dha com­pared a ‘ful­ly devel­oped one’—an ara­hant who is well-versed in the Dham­ma (bahus­sa­ta)—to a clever ship cap­tain, who is able to guide many peo­ple across the seas and reach their des­ti­na­tion in safe­ty, as is illus­trat­ed in the Nāvā Sut­ta:

Just as one who boards a stur­dy boat, ful­ly equipped with oars and a barge-pole, who is expe­ri­enced and skil­ful, know­ing the meth­ods for han­dling a boat, is able to assist many oth­ers to cross over the waters, so too, one who is a mas­ter of knowl­edge (vedagū), a ful­ly devel­oped one (bhāvi­tat­ta), a high­ly learned one (bahus­su­ta), sta­ble and unshak­en by world­ly things, endowed with wis­dom, is able to help those who are pre­pared to lis­ten in order to inves­ti­gate the Dham­ma and reach ful­fil­ment.7

The Loka Sut­ta is sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous sut­ta, but cov­ers a broad­er sub­ject mat­ter, as is evi­dent from the fol­low­ing pas­sage:

Monks, these three kinds of per­sons, appear­ing in the world, appear for the ben­e­fit of many, for the hap­pi­ness of many, for the com­pas­sion­ate assis­tance of the world—for the wel­fare, the ben­e­fit, and the hap­pi­ness of devas and human beings. Which three?

Here, the Tathā­ga­ta appears in the world. He is the Noble One, the Ful­ly Enlight­ened One, per­fect in con­duct and under­stand­ing, the Accom­plished One, the Know­er of the worlds, the Peer­less Train­er of those to be trained, Teacher of gods and humans, the Awak­ened One, Bestow­er of the Dham­ma. He teach­es the Dham­ma, beau­ti­ful in the begin­ning, beau­ti­ful in the mid­dle, beau­ti­ful in the end; he reveals the Holy Life of com­plete puri­ty, both in the spir­it and in let­ter. Monks, this first kind of per­son, when appear­ing in the world, appears for the ben­e­fit of many, for the hap­pi­ness of many, for the com­pas­sion­ate assis­tance of the world—for the wel­fare, the ben­e­fit, and the hap­pi­ness of devas and human beings.

Fur­ther­more, there is a dis­ci­ple of that same Teacher who is an ara­hant, one whose mind is free from the taints … lib­er­at­ed as a con­se­quence of thor­ough knowl­edge. That dis­ci­ple teach­es the Dham­ma, beau­ti­ful in the begin­ning, beau­ti­ful in the mid­dle, beau­ti­ful in the end; he reveals the Holy Life of com­plete puri­ty, both in the spir­it and in let­ter. Monks, this is the sec­ond kind of per­son, when appear­ing in the world, who appears for the ben­e­fit of many, for the hap­pi­ness of many, for the com­pas­sion­ate assis­tance of the world—for the wel­fare, the ben­e­fit, and the hap­pi­ness of devas and human beings.

Fur­ther­more, there is a dis­ci­ple of that same Teacher who is still in train­ing, still prac­tis­ing, eru­dite, engaged in vir­tu­ous con­duct and obser­vances (sīla-vat­ta). That dis­ci­ple also teach­es the Dham­ma, beau­ti­ful in the begin­ning, beau­ti­ful in the mid­dle, beau­ti­ful in the end; he reveals the Holy Life of com­plete puri­ty, both in the spir­it and in let­ter. Monks, this is the third kind of per­son, when appear­ing in the world, who appears for the ben­e­fit of many, for the hap­pi­ness of many, for the com­pas­sion­ate assis­tance of the world—for the wel­fare, the ben­e­fit, and the hap­pi­ness of devas and human beings.

The Teacher, the Supreme Seek­er, is first in the world;

Fol­low­ing him, the dis­ci­ple, adept (bhāvi­tat­ta);

And then the dis­ci­ple in train­ing (sekha-sāva­ka), still prac­tis­ing, eru­dite, engaged in vir­tu­ous con­duct and obser­vances.

These three kinds of peo­ple are supreme among the devas and human beings.

They radi­ate light, pro­claim the truth, open the door to the Death­less,

And help to lib­er­ate the many­folk from bondage.

Those who fol­low the noble Path, well-taught by the Teacher, the unsur­passed Leader—

If they heed the teach­ings of the Well-Far­er—

Will put an end to suf­fer­ing in this very life.8

Note, how­ev­er, that this term bhāvi­tat­ta is most often used in poet­ic vers­es, rather than in prose. This is most like­ly because it is con­cise and can be used eas­i­ly in verse as a replace­ment for longer, more drawn-out terms and phras­es. Anoth­er rea­son why this short term bhāvi­tat­ta tends not to be used in prose is because its mean­ing is not clear­ly defined. As there are not the same con­straints in prose as there are in poet­ic com­po­si­tion, for clar­i­ty sake, longer terms and phras­es can be used.

At this point it is use­ful to ask what terms and phras­es are used in prose instead of the term bhāvi­tat­ta. To answer this ques­tion let us look at an expla­na­tion found in the Tip­iṭa­ka. The thir­ti­eth vol­ume of the Tipiṭaka—the Cūḷaniddesa—which is con­sid­ered to be a col­lec­tion of teach­ings by the ‘com­man­der’ and chief dis­ci­ple Ven. Sāriput­ta, elu­ci­dates some of the Buddha’s sut­tas con­tained in the Sut­ta­nipā­ta. One pas­sage in the Cūḷanid­de­sa explains the term bhāvi­tat­ta as it appears in the ques­tion by the brah­man stu­dent Met­tagū, cit­ed above:

How is the Blessed One a Ful­ly-Devel­oped One (bhāvi­tat­ta)? Here, the Blessed One has devel­oped the body (bhāvi­ta-kāya), has devel­oped moral con­duct (bhāvi­ta-sīla), has devel­oped the mind (bhāvi­ta-cit­ta), has devel­oped wis­dom (bhāvi­ta-paññā). (He has devel­oped the Four Foun­da­tions of Mind­ful­ness, the Four Right Efforts, the Four Paths to Suc­cess, the Five Fac­ul­ties, the Five Pow­ers, the Sev­en Fac­tors of Enlight­en­ment, the Eight­fold Path. He has aban­doned the defile­ments, pen­e­trat­ed the unshake­able truth, real­ized ces­sa­tion.)9

Now let us look at a prose pas­sage by the Bud­dha describ­ing the four areas of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta), which are con­sid­ered an expan­sion on the con­cept of a ‘devel­oped one’ (bhāvi­tat­ta):

Monks, there are these five future dan­gers as yet unarisen that will arise in the future. You should rec­og­nize them and make an effort to pre­vent them. What five?

In the future there will be monks who are unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom. Despite being unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom, they will give full ordi­na­tion to oth­ers but will not be able to guide them in high­er vir­tu­ous con­duct (adhisīla), high­er mind (adhicit­ta), and high­er wis­dom (adhipaññā).10 These ordainees too will be unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom. They in turn will give full ordi­na­tion to oth­ers but will not be able to guide them in high­er vir­tu­ous con­duct, high­er mind, and high­er wis­dom. These ordainees too will be unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom. Thus, monks, through cor­rup­tion of the Dham­ma comes cor­rup­tion of the dis­ci­pline, and from cor­rup­tion of the dis­ci­pline comes cor­rup­tion of the Dham­ma. This is the first future dan­ger as yet unarisen that will arise in the future. You should rec­og­nize it and make an effort to pre­vent it.

Again, in the future there will be monks who are unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom. Despite being unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom, they will give depen­dence11 to oth­ers but will not be able to guide them in high­er vir­tu­ous con­duct, high­er mind, and high­er wis­dom. These pupils too will be unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom. They in turn will give depen­dence to oth­ers but will not be able to guide them in high­er vir­tu­ous con­duct, high­er mind, and high­er wis­dom. These pupils too will be unde­vel­oped in body, moral­i­ty, mind, and wis­dom. Thus, monks, through cor­rup­tion of the Dham­ma comes cor­rup­tion of the dis­ci­pline, and from cor­rup­tion of the dis­ci­pline comes cor­rup­tion of the Dham­ma. This is the sec­ond future dan­ger as yet unarisen that will arise in the future. You should rec­og­nize it and make an effort to pre­vent it….12

This afore­men­tioned teach­ing by the Bud­dha is con­nect­ed to some essen­tial Dham­ma prin­ci­ples:

A. Bhāvi­tat­ta13 is a ‘word of praise’ (guṇa-pada), a term describ­ing the virtue or supe­ri­or qual­i­ty of the Bud­dha and of ara­hants, as those who have devel­oped them­selves and com­plet­ed their spir­i­tu­al train­ing. When one expands on the mean­ing of this term into the four­fold devel­op­ment of phys­i­cal devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-kāya), moral devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-sīla), men­tal devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-cit­ta), and wis­dom devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-paññā), this per­tains to the teach­ing on the four kinds of cul­ti­va­tion (bhā­vanā): cul­ti­va­tion of the body (kāya-bhā­vanā), of vir­tu­ous con­duct (sīla-bhā­vanā), of the mind (cit­ta-bhā­vanā), and of wis­dom (paññā-bhā­vanā).

Here, one needs to know some fun­da­men­tals of the Pali lan­guage. The term bhāvi­ta is used either as an adjec­tive or an adverb, describ­ing the qual­i­ties of an indi­vid­ual. The term bhā­vanā, on the oth­er hand, is a noun, describ­ing an action, a prin­ci­ple, or a form of prac­tice. There is a com­pat­i­bil­i­ty between these terms in that bhāvi­ta refers to some­one who has engaged in bhā­vanā. There­fore, one who is devel­oped in body (bhāvi­ta-kāya) has engaged in phys­i­cal cul­ti­va­tion (kāya-bhā­vanā), one who is devel­oped in vir­tu­ous con­duct (bhāvi­ta-sīla) has engaged in moral cul­ti­va­tion (sīla-bhā­vanā), one who is devel­oped in mind (bhāvi­ta-cit­ta) has engaged in men­tal cul­ti­va­tion (cit­ta-bhā­vanā), and one who is devel­oped in wis­dom (bhāvi­ta-paññā) has engaged in wis­dom cul­ti­va­tion (paññā-bhā­vanā).

This is equiv­a­lent to say­ing that an ara­hant is one who has com­plet­ed the four­fold cul­ti­va­tion: he or she is accom­plished in phys­i­cal cul­ti­va­tion, moral cul­ti­va­tion, men­tal cul­ti­va­tion, and wis­dom cul­ti­va­tion.

To clar­i­fy this mat­ter, here is a brief descrip­tion of the four kinds of cul­ti­va­tion (bhā­vanā):

Phys­i­cal cul­ti­va­tion (kāya-bhā­vanā): body devel­op­ment; to devel­op one’s rela­tion­ship to sur­round­ing mate­r­i­al things (includ­ing tech­nol­o­gy) or to the body itself. In par­tic­u­lar, to cog­nize things by way of the five fac­ul­ties (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body) skil­ful­ly, by relat­ing to them in a way that is ben­e­fi­cial, does not cause harm, increas­es whole­some qual­i­ties, and dis­pels unwhole­some qual­i­ties.

Moral cul­ti­va­tion (sīla-bhā­vanā): devel­op­ment of vir­tu­ous con­duct; to devel­op one’s behav­iour and one’s social rela­tion­ships, by keep­ing to a moral code, by not abus­ing or injur­ing oth­ers or caus­ing con­flict, and by liv­ing in har­mo­ny with oth­ers and sup­port­ing one anoth­er.

Men­tal cul­ti­va­tion (cit­ta-bhā­vanā): to devel­op the mind; to strength­en and sta­bi­lize the mind; to cul­ti­vate whole­some qual­i­ties, like lov­ing-kind­ness, com­pas­sion, enthu­si­asm, dili­gence, and patience; to make the mind con­cen­trat­ed, bright, joy­ous, and clear.

Wis­dom cul­ti­va­tion (paññā-bhā­vanā): to devel­op and increase wis­dom until there aris­es a com­pre­hen­sive under­stand­ing of truth, by know­ing things as they are and by gain­ing a clear insight into the world and into phe­nom­e­na. At this stage one is able to free the mind, puri­fy one­self from men­tal defile­ment, and be lib­er­at­ed from suf­fer­ing. One lives, acts, and solves prob­lems with pen­e­tra­tive aware­ness.

When one under­stands the mean­ing of bhā­vanā (‘cul­ti­va­tion’), which lies at the heart of the afore­men­tioned ways of prac­tice, one also under­stands the term bhāvi­ta (‘devel­oped’), which is an attribute of those who have com­plet­ed their spir­i­tu­al prac­tice and ful­filled the fours kinds of cul­ti­va­tion:

Phys­i­cal devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-kāya): this refers to those who have devel­oped the body, that is, they have devel­oped a rela­tion­ship to their phys­i­cal envi­ron­ment and to their phys­i­cal bod­ies; they have a healthy, con­tent­ed, and respect­ful rela­tion­ship to things and to nature; in par­tic­u­lar, they expe­ri­ence things by way of the five sens­es, say by see­ing or hear­ing, mind­ful­ly and in a way that fos­ters wis­dom. They con­sume things with mod­er­a­tion, deriv­ing their true ben­e­fit and val­ue. They are not obsessed or led astray by the influ­ence of pref­er­ences and aver­sions. They are not heed­less; rather than allow­ing sense stim­uli to cause harm, they use them for ben­e­fit; rather than being dom­i­nat­ed by unwhole­some states of mind, these indi­vid­u­als nur­ture whole­some states.

Moral devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-sīla): this refers to those who have devel­oped vir­tu­ous con­duct and devel­oped their behav­iour. They act vir­tu­ous­ly in regard to soci­ety, by keep­ing to a moral code and liv­ing har­mo­nious­ly with oth­ers. They do not use phys­i­cal actions, speech, or their liveli­hood to oppress oth­ers or to cre­ate con­flict, but instead they use these activ­i­ties for self-devel­op­ment, for assist­ing oth­ers, and for build­ing a healthy soci­ety.

Men­tal devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-cit­ta): this refers to those who have devel­oped their minds. As a result, their minds are lucid, joy­ous, bright, spa­cious, and hap­py. Their minds are full of vir­tu­ous qual­i­ties, like good­will, com­pas­sion, con­fi­dence, grat­i­tude, gen­eros­i­ty, per­se­ver­ance, for­ti­tude, patient endurance, tran­quil­li­ty, sta­bil­i­ty, mind­ful­ness, and con­cen­tra­tion.

Wis­dom devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta-paññā): this refers to those who have trained in and devel­oped wis­dom, result­ing in an under­stand­ing of the truth and a clear dis­cern­ment of things accord­ing to how they real­ly are. They apply wis­dom to solve prob­lems, to dis­pel suf­fer­ing, and to puri­fy them­selves from men­tal impu­ri­ties. Their hearts are lib­er­at­ed and free from afflic­tion.

B. A note­wor­thy pas­sage in this sut­ta is where the Bud­dha states that those monks who have failed to devel­op their body, vir­tu­ous con­duct, mind, and wis­dom, will become pre­cep­tors and teach­ers, but will be unable to guide their pupils in high­er virtue, high­er mind, and high­er wis­dom (i.e., in moral con­duct (sīla), con­cen­tra­tion (samād­hi), and wis­dom (paññā)).

It is inter­est­ing that, when he describes the qual­i­ties of a teacher, he men­tions the four kinds of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta), but when he describes the sub­ject of study—the teach­ing or the prin­ci­ples of practice—he men­tions the three­fold train­ing, of moral con­duct, con­cen­tra­tion, and wis­dom. (In full, these are referred to as the ‘train­ing in high­er virtue’ (adhisīla-sikkhā), the ‘train­ing in high­er mind’ (adhicit­ta-sikkhā), and the ‘train­ing in high­er wis­dom’ (adhipaññā-sikkhā).)

This dis­tinc­tion may raise sev­er­al doubts. First, why doesn’t the Bud­dha use com­ple­men­tary or cor­re­spond­ing terms here? Wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to say that one who is not devel­oped (bhāvi­ta) in the four ways is unable to guide some­one else in the four­fold cul­ti­va­tion (bhā­vanā), or con­verse­ly, one who hasn’t com­plet­ed the three­fold train­ing is unable to guide some­one else in moral con­duct, con­cen­tra­tion, and wis­dom?

More­over, the fac­tors in these teach­ings are near­ly iden­ti­cal. The dual teach­ing on cul­ti­va­tion (bhā­vanā) and the attrib­ut­es of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta) con­tains the four fac­tors of body, vir­tu­ous con­duct, mind, and wis­dom. The Three­fold Train­ing, on the oth­er hand, con­tains the fac­tors of vir­tu­ous con­duct, con­cen­tra­tion (i.e., ‘mind’—citta), and wis­dom. There­fore, wouldn’t it have been less con­fus­ing if the Bud­dha had stuck to one or the oth­er of these two teach­ings, rather than com­bine them?

Many Bud­dhists are famil­iar with the sequence of prac­tice of sīla, samād­hi, and paññā, and this three­fold prac­tice is con­sid­ered to be com­plete in itself. They are gen­er­al­ly unfa­mil­iar, how­ev­er, with this extra fac­tor of ‘body’ (kāya), and may won­der why it is added and what it means.

Here, let us sim­ply con­clude that the Bud­dha pre­sent­ed these two dis­tinct teach­ings in the same con­text: in ref­er­ence to the attrib­ut­es of a teacher he men­tioned the four aspects of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta), while in ref­er­ence to the sub­ject of teach­ing he men­tioned the three­fold train­ing (sikkhā).

In the next sec­tion we can look at the rea­son why he made this dis­tinc­tion.

C. A sim­ple, short answer for why the Bud­dha used these two dis­tinct teach­ings in the same con­text is that they have dif­fer­ent objec­tives or goals. The teach­ing on the attrib­ut­es of a teacher aims to describe the dis­cernible char­ac­ter­is­tics of a teacher, in the man­ner of eval­u­at­ing whether some­one has com­plet­ed spir­i­tu­al train­ing and is ready to teach oth­ers. The teach­ing on the sub­ject of study on the oth­er hand aims to describe the con­tent and sys­tem of practice—to describe what and how to train in order obtain desir­able results.

Most impor­tant­ly, a true study or train­ing entails a nat­ur­al process of devel­op­ing one’s life; this process accords with laws of nature and there­fore the sys­tem of train­ing must be estab­lished cor­rect­ly in har­mo­ny with caus­es and con­di­tions found in nature.

Let us first exam­ine the sub­ject of study, that is, the three­fold train­ing. Why is this train­ing com­posed of only three fac­tors? Again, one can answer this sim­ply by say­ing that this train­ing per­tains to the life of human beings which has three facets or three spheres of activ­i­ty. These three fac­tors com­bine to make up a person’s life, and they pro­ceed and are devel­oped in uni­son.

These three fac­tors are as fol­lows:

1. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and inter­ac­tion with the world: per­cep­tions, asso­ci­a­tion, rela­tion­ships, behav­iour, and respons­es vis-à-vis oth­er peo­ple and exter­nal objects by way of the dvāra—the door­ways or channels—which can be described in two ways:

Door­ways of cog­ni­tion (phas­sa-dvāra): the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body (along with the meet­ing point of the mind, these com­prise six doorways).14

Door­ways of voli­tion­al action (kam­ma-dvāra): body and speech (along with the meet­ing point of the mind, these com­prise three door­ways).

This fac­tor can be sim­ply called ‘inter­ac­tion with the world’ and rep­re­sent­ed by the word sīla (‘con­duct’).

2. The mind: the activ­i­ty of the mind, which has numer­ous atten­dant fac­tors and prop­er­ties. To begin with, one must have inten­tion, also referred to as voli­tion, delib­er­a­tion, deter­mi­na­tion, or moti­va­tion. More­over, people’s minds usu­al­ly con­tain pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive qual­i­ties, strengths and weak­ness­es. The mind expe­ri­ences feel­ings of plea­sure and dis­com­fort, ease and dis-ease, and feel­ings of indif­fer­ence and com­pla­cen­cy. There are reac­tions to these sen­sa­tions, like plea­sure and aver­sion, and desires to acquire, obtain, flee, or get rid of, which influ­ence how one expe­ri­ences things and how one acts, for exam­ple whether one looks at some­thing or not, what one choos­es to say, and to whom one speaks. This fac­tor is sim­ply called the ‘mind’ (cit­ta) or the domain of con­cen­tra­tion (samād­hi).

3. Wis­dom: knowl­edge and under­stand­ing, begin­ning with suta—knowl­edge acquired through for­mal edu­ca­tion or by way of the news media—up to and includ­ing all forms of devel­op­ment in the domain of thought (cin­tā-visaya) and the domain of knowl­edge (ñāṇa-visaya), includ­ing: ideas, views, beliefs, atti­tudes, val­ues, attach­ments to var­i­ous ideas and forms of under­stand­ing, and spe­cif­ic per­spec­tives and points of view. This fac­tor is called ‘wis­dom’ (paññā).

These three fac­tors oper­ate in uni­son; they are inter­con­nect­ed and inter­de­pen­dent. A person’s inter­ac­tion with the world by way of the sense faculties—by way of the door­ways of cognition—and through phys­i­cal and ver­bal behav­iour (fac­tor #1) is depen­dent on inten­tion, feel­ings, and var­i­ous oth­er con­di­tions in the mind (fac­tor #2). And this entire process is depen­dent on the guid­ance by wis­dom and intel­li­gence (fac­tor #3). The extent of one’s knowl­edge deter­mines the range of one’s thoughts and actions.

Sim­i­lar­ly, the men­tal fac­tors of say deter­mi­na­tion and desire (fac­tor #2) rely on an inter­ac­tion by way of the sense fac­ul­ties and phys­i­cal and ver­bal behav­iour (fac­tor #1) in order to be ful­filled and sat­is­fied. And this process is deter­mined and reg­u­lat­ed by one’s beliefs, thoughts, and under­stand­ing (fac­tor #3), which are sub­ject to change and adjust­ment.

Again, the oper­a­tion and devel­op­ment of wis­dom (fac­tor #3) depends on the sense fac­ul­ties, say of see­ing or hear­ing, depends on the move­ment of the body, say of walk­ing, seiz­ing, orga­niz­ing, seek­ing, etc., and applies speech to com­mu­ni­cate and inquire (fac­tor #1). And this process relies on men­tal prop­er­ties, for exam­ple: inter­est, desire, for­ti­tude, per­se­ver­ance, cir­cum­spec­tion, mind­ful­ness, tran­quil­li­ty, and con­cen­tra­tion (fac­tor #2).

The nature of human life is com­prised of these three inter­re­lat­ed, inter­de­pen­dent fac­tors. They com­prise an inte­grat­ed whole, which can­not be added to or sub­tract­ed from. As life is com­prised of these three fac­tors, any train­ing designed to help peo­ple to live their lives well must address the devel­op­ment of these three areas of life.

Spir­i­tu­al train­ing is thus divid­ed into three sec­tions, known as the three­fold train­ing. This train­ing is designed to devel­op these three areas of life to be com­plete and in har­mo­ny with nature. These three fac­tors are devel­oped simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and in uni­son, result­ing in an inte­grat­ed sys­tem of prac­tice.

From a rough per­spec­tive one may see these three fac­tors in a sim­i­lar way as to how they are some­times out­lined in the scrip­tures, of rep­re­sent­ing three major stages in prac­tice, of moral con­duct, con­cen­tra­tion, and wis­dom. This per­spec­tive gives the appear­ance that one prac­tices these fac­tors as dis­tinct steps and in an ordered sequence, that is, after train­ing in moral con­duct one devel­ops con­cen­tra­tion, which is then fol­lowed by wis­dom devel­op­ment.

By view­ing the three­fold train­ing in this way one sees a sys­tem of prac­tice in which three fac­tors are promi­nent at dif­fer­ent stages, begin­ning with a coarse fac­tor and lead­ing to more refined fac­tors as one pro­gress­es through the stages:

  • The first stage (moral con­duct) gives promi­nence to the rela­tion­ship to one’s exter­nal envi­ron­ment, to the sense fac­ul­ties, and to phys­i­cal actions and speech.
  • The sec­ond stage (con­cen­tra­tion) gives promi­nence to a person’s inner life, to the mind.
  • The third stage (wis­dom) gives promi­nence to knowl­edge and under­stand­ing.

Note, how­ev­er, that at each stage the oth­er two remain­ing fac­tors always func­tion and par­tic­i­pate.

This per­spec­tive pro­vides an overview, in which one focus­es on the chief activ­i­ty at each stage of the process. One gives promi­nence to each of the three fac­tors respec­tive­ly, so that coars­er fac­tors are ready to sup­port the growth and pro­mote suc­cess of more refined fac­tors.

Take for exam­ple the task of cut­ting down a large tree. First, one must pre­pare the sur­round­ing area so that one is able to move about eas­i­ly, safe­ly, and secure­ly (= sīla). Sec­ond, one must pre­pare one’s strength, courage, seri­ous-mind­ed­ness, mind­ful­ness, resolve, non-dis­tract­ed­ness, and skill in han­dling an axe (= samād­hi). Third, one must have a prop­er tool, like a good qual­i­ty sharp­ened axe of the cor­rect size (= paññā). If one ful­fils these three require­ments one suc­ceeds in cut­ting down the tree.

In regard to one’s reg­u­lar, dai­ly life, how­ev­er, a clos­er analy­sis reveals that these three fac­tors are con­stant­ly func­tion­ing in an inter­re­lat­ed, inter­de­pen­dent way. There­fore, in order for peo­ple to tru­ly engage in effec­tive spir­i­tu­al prac­tice, one should encour­age them to be aware of these three fac­tors. They should devel­op these fac­tors in uni­son, by includ­ing skil­ful reflec­tion (yon­iso-man­asikāra), which helps to increase under­stand­ing, and mind­ful­ness (sati), which helps to bring about true suc­cess.

In regard to one’s spir­i­tu­al prac­tice, no mat­ter what activ­i­ty one is involved in, one is able to inspect and train one­self accord­ing to the prin­ci­ples of the three­fold train­ing. One thus aims to engage in all three of these factors—virtuous con­duct, con­cen­tra­tion, and wisdom—simultaneously and in all sit­u­a­tions. When involved in an activ­i­ty, one con­sid­ers whether one’s actions result in the afflic­tion or dis­tress of oth­ers, whether they cause harm, or whether they are con­ducive to assis­tance, sup­port, encour­age­ment, and devel­op­ment of oth­ers (= sīla). Dur­ing such activ­i­ties, what is the state of one’s mind? Is one act­ing out of self­ish­ness, mal­ice, greed, hatred, or delu­sion, or is one act­ing say with kind­ness, well-wish­ing, faith, mind­ful­ness, effort, and a sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty? While engaged in an activ­i­ty, is the mind agi­tat­ed, anx­ious, con­fused, and depressed, or is it calm, hap­py, joy­ous, con­tent, and bright? (= samād­hi). When engaged in an activ­i­ty, does one act with clear under­stand­ing? Does one dis­cern its pur­pose, objec­tive and relat­ed prin­ci­ples? Does one rec­og­nize its poten­tial ben­e­fits and draw­backs, and ful­ly under­stand the way to adjust and improve the activ­i­ty? (= paññā).

In this way skilled per­sons are able to train and inspect them­selves, and eval­u­ate their prac­tice, at all times and in all sit­u­a­tions. They cul­ti­vate all three fac­tors of the three­fold train­ing in a sin­gle activ­i­ty.

Mean­while, the devel­op­ment of the three­fold train­ing from the per­spec­tive of three dis­tinct stages unfolds auto­mat­i­cal­ly. From one per­spec­tive a per­son devel­ops the three­fold train­ing in an ordered sequence. But from anoth­er per­spec­tive the simul­ta­ne­ous, uni­fied prac­tice of these three fac­tors is tak­ing place and assist­ing in the suc­cess­ful advance­ment of the so-called ‘three-stage’ train­ing.

In this con­text, some­one who delves deeply into the details of spir­i­tu­al prac­tice will know that at the moment of awakening—at the moment of real­iz­ing Path, Fruit, and Nibbāna—all eight fac­tors of the Noble Path, which are clas­si­fied into the three groups of sīla, samād­hi, and paññā, are com­plet­ed and oper­ate as one, act­ing to elim­i­nate the defile­ments and to bring about ful­fil­ment.

To sum up, the sys­tem of Bud­dhist spir­i­tu­al training—the three­fold train­ing (tis­so sikkhā)—is based on a rela­tion­ship between req­ui­site fac­tors and accords with spe­cif­ic laws of nature. Human life is com­prised of three factors—of con­duct with the out­side world (sīla), men­tal activ­i­ties (cit­ta), and under­stand­ing (paññā)—which act in uni­son and are inter­de­pen­dent in bring­ing about spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment.

When describ­ing the prin­ci­ples of spir­i­tu­al prac­tice, the Bud­dha referred to these three aspects of train­ing (sikkhā). We now arrive at the ques­tion: ‘Why did the Bud­dha adopt a new mod­el of the four fac­tors of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta) when he described the attrib­ut­es of a teacher?’

As men­tioned ear­li­er, this ques­tion can be answered eas­i­ly by say­ing that these two mod­els have dif­fer­ent aims and objec­tives. The three­fold train­ing is to be applied in real life—to be prac­tised in accord with a sys­tem in har­mo­ny with nature. The fac­tors of devel­op­ment are intend­ed for self-exam­i­na­tion. Here, one need not be con­cerned with the order of nature. The empha­sis here is on get­ting a clear pic­ture of one’s per­son­al qual­i­ties. If one dis­cerns these clear­ly, they will by their very nature be con­nect­ed to the three fac­tors of train­ing.

This is obvi­ous by inspect­ing the first fac­tor of sīla, which refers to one’s inter­ac­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the world, one’s appre­hen­sion of the world, and one’s actions in rela­tion to the world.

As men­tioned above, we inter­act with the world by way of two sets of ‘door­ways’ (dvāra): the first set entails the door­ways of cog­ni­tion (phas­sa-dvāra), usu­al­ly referred to as the sense fac­ul­ties (indriya)—our aware­ness of the world by way of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body. The sec­ond set entails the door­ways of voli­tion­al action (kam­ma-dvāra), through which we act towards and respond to the world (towards peo­ple, towards soci­ety, and towards oth­er objects in our exter­nal envi­ron­ment) by phys­i­cal and ver­bal ges­tures.

Here lies the dis­tinc­tion. In regard to inter­act­ing with the world, at any one moment (or to speak at a more refined lev­el, at any one mind-moment) we only com­mu­ni­cate with the world through one of the spe­cif­ic door­ways, and one can exam­ine this process by apply­ing either of the two sets of door­ways.

In respect to the three­fold train­ing, in which sīla, samād­hi and paññā are part of an inte­grat­ed sys­tem, the inter­ac­tion with the world by way of any one of the var­i­ous door­ways com­pris­es the train­ing in ‘con­duct’ (sīla); the fac­tors of the mind (samād­hi) and under­stand­ing (paññā) con­sti­tute dis­tinct fac­tors. The entire inter­ac­tion with the world through the var­i­ous doorways—both the door­ways of cog­ni­tion and the door­ways of voli­tion­al action—is includ­ed here in the fac­tor of sīla. For this rea­son the three­fold train­ing is com­prised of three fac­tors.

In respect to the attrib­ut­es of a teacher, one need not con­sid­er the inte­grat­ed func­tion­ing of the three fac­tors con­tained in the three­fold train­ing. Here, one is dis­tin­guish­ing between dif­fer­ent fac­tors for the pur­pose of inves­ti­ga­tion. It is pre­cise­ly here at the fac­tor of con­duct (sīla) where a sep­a­ra­tion is made, that is, one dis­tin­guish­es a person’s inter­ac­tion with the world accord­ing to one or the oth­er of the two sets of door­ways:

  • Door­ways of cog­ni­tion (phas­sa-dvāra; usu­al­ly referred to as the sense fac­ul­ties—indriya): the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body (along with the meet­ing point of the mind, these com­prise six door­ways); these door­ways enable seeing/looking, hearing/listening, smelling, tast­ing, and tan­gi­ble con­tact (cul­mi­nat­ing at the mind as cog­ni­tion of men­tal objects—dham­māram­maṇa).
  • Door­ways of voli­tion­al action (kam­ma-dvāra): body and speech (along with the meet­ing point of the mind, these com­prise three door­ways); these enable phys­i­cal actions and speech (and by des­ig­nat­ing the start­ing point of voli­tion­al action—the mind—this also includes think­ing).

The Bud­dha sep­a­rat­ed these two sub­sidiary fac­tors of con­duct (sīla), deter­min­ing them as the first two fac­tors in the four kinds of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta). He dis­tin­guished the first fac­tor, of inter­ac­tion with the world by way of the door­ways of cog­ni­tion or the sense fac­ul­ties, and labeled it as ‘devel­op­ment of the body’ (bhāvi­ta-kāya). (The term ‘body’—kāya—here refers to the ‘col­lec­tion of five door­ways’—pañ­ca-dvāri­ka-kāya). The Bud­dha thus gave great empha­sis to one’s inter­ac­tion with the world, in par­tic­u­lar to cog­ni­tion by way of the five sens­es. Peo­ple tend to over­look this first fac­tor, but in rela­tion to spir­i­tu­al prac­tice it is con­sid­ered of para­mount impor­tance in Bud­dhism, espe­cial­ly in regard to mea­sur­ing a person’s devel­op­ment.

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant to the present era, which is referred to as the Age of Infor­ma­tion or the IT Age. The devel­op­ment of peo­ple in regard to this fac­tor deter­mines the fork in the road between direct wis­dom cul­ti­va­tion and get­ting bogged down in delu­sion. This prin­ci­ple of ‘phys­i­cal devel­op­ment’ can be used as a sign warn­ing peo­ple from los­ing their way, and encour­ag­ing them to use infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy to advance civ­i­liza­tion in a prop­er direc­tion.

In ref­er­ence to mea­sur­ing people’s spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment, the sec­ond sub­sidiary fac­tor, of inter­act­ing with the world by way of the door­ways of voli­tion­al action (kam­ma-dvāra), con­sti­tutes ‘moral devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-sīla), and is equiv­a­lent to the sec­ond part of the train­ing in high­er virtue (adhisīla-sikkhā). ‘Men­tal devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-cit­ta) and ‘wis­dom devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-paññā) cor­re­spond to the train­ing in high­er mind (adhicit­ta-sikkhā) and the train­ing in high­er wis­dom (adhipaññā-sikkhā), respec­tive­ly.

Note that this con­cept of ‘phys­i­cal devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-kāya), which here has been defined as a devel­op­ment of one’s inter­ac­tion with the world by way of the five sense fac­ul­ties, is some­times explained dif­fer­ent­ly, by defin­ing the term kāya lit­er­al­ly as the ‘body’ or as refer­ring to mate­r­i­al objects.

If one expands the mean­ing of bhāvi­ta-kāya in this way, then the def­i­n­i­tion of the sec­ond fac­tor of ‘moral devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-sīla) is adjust­ed accord­ing­ly, as fol­lows: ‘moral devel­op­ment’ refers to the cul­ti­va­tion of one’s rela­tion­ship to oth­er human beings or to one’s engage­ment with soci­ety, to pro­mot­ing peace­ful coex­is­tence, coop­er­a­tion, har­mo­ny, and mutu­al sup­port.

These alter­na­tive def­i­n­i­tions of these two fac­tors are con­nect­ed to the teach­ing on four­fold vir­tu­ous conduct—on the four kinds of ‘pure con­duct clas­si­fied as virtue’ (pārisud­dhi-sīla):

  • Pāṭimokkha-saṁ­vara-sīla: virtue as restraint in regard to the Pāṭimokkha, the chief dis­ci­pli­nary code of the monas­tic sang­ha.
  • Indriya-saṁ­vara-sīla: virtue as sense restraint; to receive sense impres­sions, like sights and sounds, mind­ful­ly, in a way con­ducive to wis­dom and true ben­e­fit, and not to be dom­i­nat­ed by unwhole­some qual­i­ties.
  • Ājī­va-pārisud­dhi-sīla: virtue as puri­ty of liveli­hood: to earn one’s liv­ing right­eous­ly and in a pure man­ner.
  • Pac­caya-paṭi­se­vana-sīla (or pac­caya-san­nis­si­ta-sīla): to use the four req­ui­sites wise­ly, ben­e­fit­ing from them by under­stand­ing their true pur­pose and val­ue; to know and con­sume in mod­er­a­tion; not to con­sume with crav­ing.

Those aspects per­tain­ing to one’s rela­tion­ship to the world by way of the body, or to one’s engage­ment with mate­r­i­al objects and with nature, are part of the fac­tor on ‘phys­i­cal devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-kāya). Those aspects per­tain­ing to one’s rela­tion­ship to soci­ety or to one’s com­mu­ni­ty are part of the fac­tor on ‘moral devel­op­ment’ (bhāvi­ta-sīla).15

Hav­ing intro­duced these prin­ci­ples, the fol­low­ing descrip­tion of the attrib­ut­es of ara­hants cor­re­sponds to the teach­ing on the four kinds of devel­op­ment (bhāvi­ta): phys­i­cal, moral, men­tal, and wis­dom devel­op­ment.

Be aware, how­ev­er, that, although these four kinds of attrib­ut­es are dis­tin­guished from one anoth­er, they are not com­plete­ly sep­a­rate. Their main fea­tures are high­light­ed for the pur­pose of under­stand­ing, but in the actu­al process of devel­op­ment they are inter­con­nect­ed and are cul­ti­vat­ed in an inte­grat­ed way. In par­tic­u­lar, they are nev­er inde­pen­dent from wis­dom.

*****

1 See some of the Buddha’s key prin­ci­ples at: A. II. 172–3; D. III. 134–5; M. I. 395.

2 Some of these words are fre­quent­ly used, while oth­ers occur infre­quent­ly. See, e.g.: M. I. 235, 280, 446–7; M. II. 29; S. III. 61–2; A. V. 16, 221–22; Nd. II. 10. The last few words in par­tic­u­lar were adopt­ed from ancient Brah­man­is­tic expres­sions, although giv­en a new mean­ing to accord with Bud­dhist prin­ci­ples. For exam­ple, brāh­maṇa orig­i­nal­ly referred to some­one who has tran­scend­ed evil by bathing in holy rivers, e.g., the Ganges. In Bud­dhism, how­ev­er, this term refers to being free from evil as a con­se­quence of prac­tis­ing in accord with the Eight­fold Path, or is used as a metaphor, in ref­er­ence to one who has ‘bathed in the Dham­ma.’

3 These trans­la­tions are of the Pali word bhāvi­tat­to, which is equiv­a­lent in mean­ing to the phrase: attā­naṃ bhāvetvā vaḍḍhetvā ṭhi­to. A bhāvi­tat­ta refers to one who has devel­oped him- or her­self and is estab­lished in such cul­ti­va­tion; SA. [1/196].

4 [The author spells this riv­er Kakud­hā.]

5 D. II. 135.

6 Sn. 202 (in the ‘six­teen ques­tions’—soḷasa-pañhā).

7 Sn. 56.

8 It. 78–9 (also known as the Bahu­janahi­ta Sut­ta). Note that the third type of per­son refers to awak­ened dis­ci­ples who are still in train­ing (sekha)—i.e., they not yet ara­hants; they are not yet ‘ful­ly devel­oped’ (bhāvi­tat­ta).

9 Nd. II. 14 (the sec­tion in paren­the­ses is con­sid­ered an elab­o­ra­tion on the main expla­na­tion). The pas­sage in Pali: Kathaṃ bha­gavā bhāvi­tat­to bha­gavā bhāvi­takāyo bhāvi­tasī­lo bhāvitacit­to bhāvi­ta­pañño (bhāvi­tasati­paṭṭhāno bhāvi­tasammap­pad­hāno bhāvi­taid­dhipā­do bhāvitin­driyo bhāvita­ba­lo bhāvitabo­j­jaṅ­go bhāvi­ta­m­ag­go pahī­nakile­so paṭivid­dhākup­po sac­chikatanirod­ho).

10 I.e., in sīla, samād­hi, and paññā.

11 I.e., they will for­mal­ly accept oth­ers as their stu­dents.

12 A. III. 105–106.

13 Occa­sion­al­ly oth­er terms with a sim­i­lar mean­ing are used instead of bhāvi­tat­ta, in par­tic­u­lar the term atta-dan­ta (‘one who has trained him­self’; ‘self-tamed’), as in the verse prais­ing the Bud­dha: manuss­ab­hū­taṃ sam­bud­dhaṃ attadan­taṃ samāhi­taṃ … devāpi taṃ namas­san­ti (‘Indeed, although a human being, The Per­fect­ly Enlight­ened One has achieved self-mas­tery, whose heart is well-cul­ti­vat­ed … even the devas ven­er­ate him.’)—A. III. 345–6.

14 When refer­ring to their func­tion or ben­e­fit for prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion these six door­ways of cog­ni­tion are gen­er­al­ly called the six ‘sense spheres’ (āyatana); when refer­ring to them while they are func­tion­ing or oper­a­tive they are gen­er­al­ly called the six ‘sense fac­ul­ties’ (indriya).

15 For more on this sub­ject, see Appen­dix 2.