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Suddhatthaka Sutta

On Purity

Translated from the Pali by John D. Ireland
For free distribution only

"'Here I see one who is pure, entirely free of sickness. By seeing him a man may attain to purity!'

"Convinced of that and thinking it 'the highest,' he believes it to be knowledge when he contemplates 'the pure one.'[1] But if by sights man can gain purification or if through such knowledge he could leave suffering behind, then, one who still has attachments could be purified by another. [2] However, this is merely the opinion of those who so assert.

"The true brahmana [3] has said one is not purified by another, nor by what is seen, heard or perceived by the other senses, nor, by the performance of ritual observances. He (the true brahmana) is not defiled by merit or demerit. Having given up what he had previously grasped at, he no longer engages in producing (any kamma). Having left a former object they attach themselves to another, dominated by craving they do not go beyond attachment. They reject and seize, like a monkey letting go of a branch to take hold of another.

"A person having undertaken a ritual act goes this way and that, fettered by his senses. But one with a wide wisdom, having understood and gone into the Dhamma with his experience, does not go this way and that. For a person indifferent towards all conditions, whatever is seen, heard or cognized, he is one who sees it as it really is and lives with clarity of mind. With what could he be identified in the world?

"They do not speculate nor pursue any notion, they do not claim perfect purity. Loosening the knot of clinging with which they are bound, they do not have longing anywhere in the world. The true brahmana who has gone beyond limitations, having understood and seen there is no longer any assumption for him, he is neither disturbed by lust nor agitated by revulsion. For him there is nothing upheld as 'the highest.'"



1. This refers to the old Indian belief in "auspicious sights" (dittha-mangala), the belief that by merely beholding something or someone regarded as a holy object or person, purity, or whatever else is desired, may be gained.

2. By another method, other than that of the Noble Eightfold Path (Comy.); but it could also mean, "by the sight of another person."

3. I.e., the Buddha.

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