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Purification: from Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga

The Visuddhimagga, written by Buddhaghosa, is a renowned commentary that explores the path to purification in the Theravada tradition. Buddhaghosa explains the process of purification through a comprehensive framework known as the “Path of Purification.”

Here are some key points from his teachings:

  1. Threefold Training: Buddhaghosa emphasizes the importance of the threefold training (sila, samadhi, and panna) in the purification process.
      Sila refers to ethical conduct,
      Samadhi to concentration or mental stability, and
      Panna to wisdom or insight.

  2. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: Buddhaghosa highlights the practice of mindfulness as a crucial means of purification. He explains the systematic cultivation of mindfulness on four foundations: body, feelings, mind, and mental objects. Through sustained mindfulness, one gains deeper insight into the nature of reality and gradually purifies the mind.

  3. The Thirty-Seven Factors of Enlightenment: Buddhaghosa describes the development of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment, which include mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity. The cultivation of these factors is considered essential for purification and the attainment of liberation.

  4. Progressing through Stages: Buddhaghosa outlines a systematic and progressive path. He describes the stages of purification that practitioners go through, starting from
        developing moral discipline,
        progressing to concentration, and culminating in
        the cultivation of wisdom.
    This gradual training helps individuals purify their minds step by step, gradually overcoming defilements and realizing higher levels of insight.

  5. The Noble Eightfold Path: Buddhaghosa emphasizes the Noble Eightfold Path as the means to purify one’s actions, speech, and mind. This path includes right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

Buddhaghosa’s teachings in the Visuddhimagga provide a detailed roadmap for practitioners to purify their minds and progress on the path towards liberation.

It highlights the significance of

      • ethical conduct,
      • mindfulness,
      • insight, and
      • the cultivation of wholesome qualities

as essential factors in the process of purification; a systematic training, through which individuals can purify their minds, gradually transform their understanding, and ultimately attain liberation from suffering.