Global Warming
Right! That’s it! I’m leaving!
The Highest Source of Happiness
Book Review: Theravāda Buddhism and the British Encounter
Sutta Study: Contemplation of Stilling / Epithets for Nibbāna

Global Warming

by Bhikkhu Nyanatusita

“Everything is burning,” said the Buddha in one of his first discourses. He continued by explaining that the world of the senses is burning with the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion. Now, when the effects of global warming are becoming apparent in many parts of the world, this statement of the Buddha may also be taken in a more literal and material sense: the world’s atmosphere is rapidly heating up due to greed-driven human activity. The internal and external reflect each other, so, in one sense, it is not surprising that modern people, burning with inner greed, hatred, and delusion, are heating up the external atmosphere through their actions.

Global warming is a concept that denotes the temperature increase in the earth’s atmosphere due to the huge emissions of carbon dioxide emitted by human activity, mostly through the inconsiderate combustion of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal. Although climate scientists have been warning against the potentially disastrous effects of global warming for decades, no large-scale counter-measures have been taken so far. Scientists say that global warming will cause increasingly extreme weather patterns: greater heat, greater cold, stronger wind, more or less rain. The increasing warmer temperatures are causing the ice caps in the North and South Poles to melt, which results in rising sea levels. A recent research project that analysed trapped air in the Antarctic ice core concluded that the present levels of carbon diode are the highest in 800, 000 years, that the fastest increase during that period was during the last seventeen years, and that a similar hike in carbon diode levels has never happened in less than a thousand year period up to now. One of the researchers involved said that there is nothing in the ice core that gives us any reason for comfort and that changes of carbon diode levels in the past have always been accompanied by climate change. Although sceptics, especially in the USA, doubt that human activity is responsible for global warming, suggesting that it could be a natural occurrence, leading climate scientists and politicians such as Al Gore and Tony Blair connect global warming to the ever increasing combustion of fossil fuels. The recent UN report on global warming also puts the blame on human activity with great certainty.

Global warming is a global problem in the sense that it is caused globally and has effects globally. The emission of carbon diode in one area of the world will have effects on the climate everywhere. Thus, even if the emission of carbon diode is reduced in Europe, the great increase of carbon diode emissions in rapidly developing countries such as India or China will cause this reduction to have no effect.

At the end October, the Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, said that the world was facing “nothing more serious, more urgent, or more demanding of leadership” than climate change. Speaking at the launching of a major economic report commissioned by the British Treasury, Blair said there was “overwhelming scientific evidence” that climate change was taking place and that the consequences of failing to act would be “disastrous.” According to the report, “Our actions over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.”

A recent UN report, the Global Biodiversity Outlook, states the need for unprecedented effort to slow down the decline in the richness of natural systems throughout the world. More species of animals and plants are becoming extinct now than at any time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. And this is all due to human activity. The misuse of modern technology causes our natural environment to collapse in such a way that eventually it might not be able to support people anymore.

Last year, I had first hand experience of the effects of global warming when visiting Europe. When I grew up in the Netherlands, it was a cool and drizzly country even in summer. However, when I was there at the end of June, a tropical heat wave started to envelope the whole of Northern Europe, and in some areas temperatures soared above 35°c. These extreme heat waves were unknown in Northern Europe until a few years ago. When the heat wave was over, unprecedented tropical rainstorms inundated streets. In Autumn the trees carried their leaves for weeks longer than they normally would have, and the first frost, which would normally already come at night by mid-October, only came late January and then only for a few days. Daffodils and other flower that would normally flower in March, already started to flower in January.

As a consequence of the rising temperatures, plants, animals, fish, insects, and diseases, which would normally only be found in distant southern European areas with mild winters and warm summers, have started to appear in the Netherlands during the last few years. Due to the warmer weather, southern creatures find conditions suitable in the north and rapidly move up. Another consequence of the heat waves in Europe was that yields of crops were affected, and consequently the prices of certain foods such as milk and bread went up. With a large part of the Netherlands being land below sea level that is only protected by dykes from the sea, Dutch government organisations are naturally taking global warming seriously. Serious plans have been made on how to deal with drastically rising sea levels, and what to do when the large rivers that flow through the Netherlands overflow due to rapidly melting snow in the Alps in spring and heavy rains in summer. In Switzerland, where I also went, I was told that the glaciers on the mountains are disappearing, and, where there previously was ice and snow on the mountains during the summer, now there is none.

Recent plans for shifting over from fossil fuels to nuclear power would increase the risk of nuclear disasters, and, besides this, the building, maintaining, and especially the decommissioning of nuclear plants and the storage of nuclear waste uses tremendous amounts of energy obtained from fossil fuels. There is no guarantee that future societies, which might not have the same resources as we have now, will be able to handle nuclear waste left over from us. Moreover, uranium is an even more limited resource than oil, and economically viable extraction might finish within twenty years. Alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, are attractive alternatives, but, as these technologies don’t create large-scale industries and income for governments, their introduction has been slow.

There is no need to go into more detail as there are plenty of articles on the effects of global warming in newspapers and magazines. Therefore, the rest of this essay will concentrate on the attitudes of people that are underlying causes for the problem and how the Buddha’s teaching could help to resolve this dangerous situation.

Among the family and friends I talked to in the Netherlands there was a general acknowledgement that the climate is changing; however, when one touches upon the causes and results of it, then a visible uneasiness arises, and the topic is changed. For many, it is difficult to accept that human activity can change the climate. Weather has always been something that has been considered unpredictable and uncontrollable. In pre-modern times, and still, in traditional cultures, it was supposed that gods who controlled the weather, and the only thing that humans could do was to try to placate such gods by making offerings. With the rise of the scientific technological worldview, the consequent belief in an all-controlling god responsible for the weather vanished. Statistical research in the Netherlands has shown that when fertilisers and pesticides first started to be used on a large scale in the 1950s, church attendance in farming communities drastically dropped because farmers no longer needed to solicit the help of God for a successful harvest. Even then, although the weather could be predicted to a fairly accurate degree, it was not believed that humans could influence or control the weather. Now, however, it has become apparent that humans are responsible for the increasingly extreme weather patterns that are appearing in many parts of the world. A reasonable argument for this possibility is that, if people are responsible for such drastic changes in the natural world as the holes in the ozone layer in the stratosphere, the drying up of the Aral Sea in the former USSR, and the spread of deserts in various parts of the world, then why couldn’t people cause the atmosphere to heat up?

Even if it dawns on people that the climate is changing, they don’t see that it is caused by their lifestyles. Because they don’t seriously take into account the effects it could have on their own lives and on the lives of their children; they don’t see the need to change their habits. In Buddhism this would be an aspect of the mental fire of delusion or mental blindness. Most people don’t want to think about the prospect of having to live in a world with increasingly extreme weather conditions combined with increasingly limited natural resources to compensate for the calamities—such as floods, famines, mass refugee movements, and wars—caused by it. The Buddha, however, encouraged his followers to be realistic. He recommended reflecting on the five future dangers—old age, sickness, famine, war, and schism in the Sangha’ss an impetus to put forth effort to attain Nibbāna. He warned that when there are famines and wars, there will be many refugees moving to places where there are no famine and war. These refuges will become crowded, making meditation practice hard. (AN 5:78)

The Buddha taught that all mental and physical actions are accompanied and conditioned by a certain view or attitude, what is called a diṅṅhi in Pali. People act in accordance with their views.. According to the Buddha, if one’s view is wrong, the consequent actions will be unwholesome; likewise, if one’s view is right, the consequent actions will be wholesome. Wholesome action leads to the well-being and happiness of oneself and others, and unwholesome action to the detriment and harm of oneself and others. It is to be noted that, according to the Buddha, right view needs to be based on a proper understanding of his teachings. The aspect of harmlessness is an important part of right view. Tyrants like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin, at least initially, may have sincerely believed that they were doing good, but their ideas of goodness were not founded on the qualities of harmlessness and virtue. Therefore, millions of innocent people, who were considered obstacles to the ‘utopian’ societies that they had in mind, were put in concentration camps and murdered. Likewise, the creators of the atomic bomb believed that they were doing a good thing.

Professor Peter Singer has pointed out in his book, How are we to Live? that beneath the limitless consumerist greed that has enveloped the world, especially in America, there is the view that “greed is good.” This view has its roots in the Protestant doctrine that work is a divine calling and that wealth is a sign of divine grace. This view lies behind the manic work ethic, and the extravagance and grandiosity that characterises American society. It also lies behind the theory of unlimited economic growth as the way to global prosperity and happiness. However, what lies at the end of this road of economic growth? The whole of humanity living in mansions and driving Rolls Royces? A study done some years ago suggested that there were enough resources on the earth to supply all its inhabitants a modest, but comfortable, life. However, due to an excessive and reckless consumption of these resources and their consequent exhaustion, such an ideal might never be realised.

The Calvinistic view got joined to the materialistic, scientific world-view, which, in the minds of many of its adherents, eventually promises a scientific, technological solution for any problem’s “scientific, technological salvation.” Technological science has made life much more comfortable for many. However, it has also produced disastrous inventions such as nuclear weapons. The inventors of technology often don’t think about how their inventions might be abused, when limited, short-term financial and economic benefits are put ahead of long-term negative effects. A good example of the abuse of an apparently beneficial technological invention is the combustion engine, which has led to great short-term benefits, but which is also responsible for great pollution and global warming, which might lead to even more disastrous consequences than nuclear weapons. So far, the use of nuclear weapons has been limited due to evidence of immediately visible horrendous results.

In the case of global warming, although the effects seem at first unclear and slow, scientists are warning us, there will be no way it can be stopped once it has started. The carbon dioxide and methane now put into the atmosphere will not leave it for decades. The comfortable view that technology is eventually going to solve all problems can be considered a wrong view. It is wrong in the sense that is the nature of the world to be uncontrollable. New problems will always crop up. Due to a wrong, unrestrained use of technology, modern humanity could end up off worse-off than its less technologically advanced, but perhaps more sensible and content ancestors. It is important to reflect on the ancient Jātaka story of the immature magician’s apprentice who brought a dead tiger to life with a spell he had mastered, at which point the tiger devoured his saviour. In a similar way, the abuse of technology, due to greed and deluded wrong views, could destroy humanity or a large part of it.

Psychological studies have pointed out that people who are living in countries at the bottom of the scale of economic prosperity, such as the Himalayan state of Bhutan and the Pacific island of Vanuatu, are often relatively much happier than those who live in countries that are at the top, such as the USA. Thus, ironically, it would seem that it is not the people in the richest societies who are happiest, but the ones in less affluent ones. The main reason for this difference is that most people living in such humble countries don’t have the view that happiness lies in the endless accumulation of more wealth, and that, in order to be happy, one needs to have the latest type of car, better than that of one’s neighbours. The perspective on life that causes such ‘poor’ peoples’ relative happiness has naturally evolved out of the need for contentment with the limited natural resources available to them. In any case, whether we want it or not, the impending oil shortages will eventually make us adapt to a simpler, more limited life-style.

The Buddha encouraged contentment and simplicity. His teaching goes against the worldly stream of craving. In contrast to the belief that happiness lies in getting more, the Buddha said, “contentment is the greatest wealth.” In Asia, where most Buddhists live, people are thoughtlessly embracing Western consumerist lifestyles. For example, the rich buy luxurious off-road vehicles. Just as in the West, these vehicles are rarely employed for their actual purpose, but rather for going shopping and taking children to school. A coalition of Christian and environmental groups in the USA recently launched a campaign to reduce fuel consumption with the motto “What would Jesus drive?” Buddhist leaders should also encourage their followers to live simple, less environmentally abusive life-styles. The threat of Christian missionaries is a popular topic among Buddhist leaders in Asia, however, global warming and the widespread destruction and pollution of the environment due to thoughtless consumerism, seems to be relatively much more of a threat to Buddhism, and should also become a major issue for Buddhist leaders. It is an irony that conversion to Christian doctrine is paid so much attention to, while the popular adaptation by Buddhists of the destructive, consumerist lifestyle that is a result of Christian doctrine is not criticised.

The Buddha encouraged a simple, frugal, and contented lifestyle as being conducive to happiness: “One should be … contented and easy to support, … having a frugal lifestyle …” (Sn 144) The wise King Asoka gave similar advice in his third Rock Edict: “… moderation in expenditure and moderation in possessions are good.” Qualities such as moderation and frugality do not entail the foregoing of all comfort and happiness, but entail the simplification of one’s lifestyle, the development of a sense of responsibility, and an awareness about the consequences of one’s lifestyle. Because Buddhist laypeople don’t identify themselves with the Buddha in the same way that Christians do with Jesus, it would be difficult to imagine a campaign with the motto, “What would the Buddha drive?” Nevertheless, the timeless teachings of the Buddha are all about the extinguishing of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion. They are actual and modern in encouraging people to live in a frugal and contented manner.

If people can be convinced that their wrong views towards life are fundamentally destructive to themselves and others and that simplicity and contentment are the greatest wealth, they will accept more harmless and wholesome ways of life. Hopefully, this will help prevent the climate from changing for the worse.

Right! That’s it! I’m leaving!

Another of the consequences of anger that we should keep in mind is that it destroys our relationships and separates us from our friends. Why is it that having spent many happy years with a companion, when they make one mistake which hurts us badly, we get so angry that we end the relationship forever? All the wonderful moments we have shared together count as nothing. We only see that one dreadful mistake and destroy the whole thing. It doesn’t seem fair. If you want to be lonely, then cultivate anger.

A young Canadian married couple that I knew were finishing up a work contract in Perth. When planning their return to their hometown of Toronto, they had the ingenious idea of sailing to Canada. They planned to buy a small yacht and, with the help of another young married couple, sail it across the Pacific to Vancouver. There they would sell the yacht, recover their investment and have the deposit for their next home. Not only did it make sound financial sense, but it was also an adventure of a lifetime for the two young couples.

When they had arrived safely in Canada, they sent a letter to my monastery describing the wonderful journey. In particular, they related one incident that showed how stupid we can be when we are angry, and the reason anger must be resolved.

In the middle of their journey, somewhere in the Pacific, many, many kilometres from the nearest land, their yacht’s engine broke down. The two men changed into work gear, went down into the small engine compartment and tried to repair the engine. The two women were sitting on the deck, enjoying the warm sun and reading magazines.

The engine compartment was hot and very cramped. To the men, it seemed as if the engine was being willful and didn’t want to be fixed. Big steel nuts wouldn’t turn to the spanner, small but vital screws would slip and fall into the most inaccessible greasy recess, and leaks just wouldn’t stop leaking. Frustration bred irritation, first with the engine, then with each other. Irritation grew quickly into anger. Then anger exploded into the madness of rage. One of the men had had enough. He threw down his wrench and shouted, ‘Right! That’s it! I’m leaving.’

Such is the madness of anger that he went to his cabin, cleaned up, changed clothes and packed his bags. He then appeared on deck, still fuming, in his best jacket with his bags in either hand. The two women said they nearly fell off the boat, they were laughing so much. The poor man looked around to see ocean, everywhere, as far as the horizon in every direction. There was nowhere to go.

The man felt such a fool; he reddened with embarrassment. He turned and went back to his cabin. He then unpacked, got changed, and returned to the engine compartment to give a hand. He had to. There was nowhere else to go.

From Opening the Door of Your Heart by Ajahn Brahmavamso. This book is only for sale in Sri Lanka. Non-BPS-members and retailers cannot order this book outside of Sri Lanka. Foreign BPS members, however, can order it from the BPS.

The Highest Source of Happiness

The highest happiness is the bliss of attaining stages of enlightenment. With each stage, our load in life is lightened, and we feel greater happiness and freedom. The final stage of enlightenment, permanent freedom from all negative states of mind, brings uninterrupted, sublime happiness. The Buddha recommended that we learn to let go of our attachments to the lower forms of happiness and focus all of our efforts upon finding the very highest form of happiness, enlightenment.

But he also encouraged people to maximise their happiness at whatever level they can. For those of us who cannot see beyond the happiness based on sense pleasures, he offered sage advice for avoiding worldly troubles and for finding optimal worldly happiness, for example, by cultivating qualities leading to material success or a satisfying family life. For those with the higher ambition to be reborn in blissful realms, he explained just how to accomplish that goal. For those interested in reaching the highest goal of full enlightenment, he taught how to achieve it. But whichever kind of happiness we are seeking, we make use of the steps of the Eightfold Path.

From p. 8 of Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness—Walking the Buddha’s Path, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, published by Wisdom Publications, Boston, pp. 266. Available in Sri Lanka from the BPS bookshop for rs. 975, - Members can get a ten percent discount.

BPS Website

The BPS website is gradually being expanded and improved upon by our website designer Asantha Sarath. All Wheel Publications and many other BPS publications will eventually be offered for free download from the BPS Online Library. At the moment about hundred “Wheels” are being digitalized and proofread. Several volunteers living in various places in the world, such as Thailand and the USA, are helping with proofreading, formatting, and offering help in other ways. The BPS is very grateful for their kind assistance in this massive project.

Online Ordering

Soon, with the help of the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, the BPS will set up an online ordering system so that customers can order BPS books online from our BPS website and pay online by credit card. It will also be possible to pay membership online.

New Publications

Within Our Own Hearts by Ayya Khema; The Importance of Wise Reflection by Steve Weissman


Taste of Freedom by Ajahn Chah; Being Nobody, Going Nowhere by Ayyā Khemā; Practical Insight Meditation by Mahāsi Sayādaw; The Progress Of Insight by Mahāsi Sayādaw; Satipaṅṅhāna Vipassana by Mahāsi Sayādaw; The Life of the Buddha by Ñāṅamoli Bhikkhu; The Root of Existence by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Forthcoming reprints

Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Pali Glossary by Ñāṅamoli Thera, Modern Buddhist Masters (formerly called Living Buddhist Masters) by Jack Kornfield, In This Very Life by Sayādaw U Paṅḍita, The Jhānas in Theravada Buddhism by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana, All Embracing Net of Views by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Udana & Itivuttaka by John Ireland.

Nyanatiloka Dhammadāna Fund

In 1911 the German monk Nyanatiloka set up a Buddhist education project to support the Rodiya people at Kaduganawa near Kandy because Christian missionaries were trying to convert them to Christianity. The Rodiyas are a deprived group of people who have been rejected from the Sinhalese caste system. The son of the Rodiya chieftain became a Buddhist monk under Nyanatiloka and eventually became the abbot of the Island Hermitage.

In commemoration of Nyanatiloka, the BPS plans to set up a fund to provide some Indian boys from deprived strata within Indian society with the opportunity to have a high standard monastic education in the Subodhārāma monastic school near Kandy. The curriculum encompasses Pali, Sanskrit, English, Buddhist Philosophy, meditation, etc. The teenage boys will become novices in India before they come to Sri Lanka. After the novices have had their education, which will last for several years, they will hopefully return to India and teach Buddhism to their countrymen. Although there are many Buddhists in India now, especially due to the efforts of the reformer Ambedkar, there is a great lack of competent teachers and monks. By sponsoring these boys, we can help with bringing back Buddhism to its place of origin.

The fund will soon be set up. More information will be put on our website. This project will be organised by Ken and Visakha Kawasaki, formerly of the Buddhist Relief Fund. For more information please email them at or write to them at the BPS.

Visit of Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

After an absence of four years, Ven. Bodhi, the President of the BPS, visited Sri Lanka for two weeks in April and gave a series of lectures on the Uraga Sutta from the Sutta Nipāta at the BPS. In Colombo he gave a lecture on the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta at the BMICH. The President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mahinda Rājapaksa, conferred the lengthy, honorary title of ‘Sāsana Sobhana Vishva Kīrthi Sri Pariyapti Vishārada,‘ which can be translated as ‘Universally Renown Adornment of the Dispensation and Preeminent in the Accomplishment of Study’ to him.

Book Review

Theravāda Buddhism and the British Encounter—Religious, missionary and colonial experience in nineteenth-century Sri Lanka; by Elizabeth J. Harris. Published by Routledge, Oxon 2006. 274pp.

This latest work of the British scholar Elizabeth Harris is an in-depth study of the British Christian encounter with Sinhalese Theravada Buddhism in the nineteenth century. It gives an overview on how the British gradually came to understand Sinhalese Theravada Buddhism and clarifies the roots of certain modern perceptions and problems. For example, the nineteenth-century British, puritan preference for the rational, textual aspects in Buddhism, while dismissing the traditional ritual and cosmological aspects, would apply to most Westerners today, too. It also shows how the Sinhalese Buddhist suspicion regarding Christian proselytising has its roots in this period.

In the first three parts of the book, the author focuses on the perceptions of British writers—mostly Christian missionaries, but also colonial officials, travellers, scholars, Theosophists, and early British Buddhists—with regard to Sinhalese Buddhism. She does so through contrasting the writings of contemporary British writers in various epochs of the nineteenth century. What emerges is an accurate picture of how the perceptions of Sinhalese Buddhism by the British gradually changed. First the perceptions were hostile and distorted, based on the biassed Protestant perceptions of externals such as Buddha images and (non-Buddhist) ‘devil dances’, but then gradually changed to the sympathetic and romantic such as in the poem Light of Asia by Edwin Arnold, and finally to more accurate and sympathetic depictions based on in depth studies of the living tradition and textual studies with the help of local Buddhists such as the writings of Dickson and Rhys Davids.

In Part I, dealing with the period 1796–1830, the first British writers selected by Harris were still somewhat confused about the identity of the Buddha due to lack of accurate information. Some, seeing the worship of Buddha images and depictions of the twenty-eight Buddhas, were uncertain whether he was a miracle-working god or an historical figure. Others thought he was an atheist reformer and saviour who was deified by his followers. The same confusion applies to the Buddha’s teaching, which was seen by most as irrational, materialistic, and nihilistic. A few writers, however, were impressed by the Buddhist system of ethical wisdom and the reasoning ability of Buddhists.

In Part II, dealing with the period 1830–1870, attention is paid to the misperceptions and misguided conversion efforts of Protestant Christian missionaries. The British colonial system had fully established itself by this period, and the colonialists were self-confident and arrogant, seeing the British colonial effort as the bearer of enlightened civilization to the uncivilised. Along with this, even more arrogant British missionaries saw the British colonial success as an indication from God to spread Christianity. They started to make strong, but mostly unsuccessful, efforts to convert the Buddhist ‘heathen.’ The missionaries believed that Buddhism taught the ultimate annihilation of the soul and denied the all-creating Christian god and that this cold void led to the idolatry and demon worship they witnessed in Ceylon. Christian missionary scholars such as Spencer and Gogerly, although giving more accurate and detailed information about Buddhism due to their studies and translations of Buddhist texts in Pali and Sinhala, tried to ridicule Buddhism. Their textual studies were aimed at undermining Buddhism. Nevertheless, Spencer’s first works, although he himself did not appreciate this fact at all, ironically enough, sparked a positive interest in Buddhism from influential Europeans, such as Schopenhauer and Wagner.

By the middle of the 19th century, though, not all British scholars were negative to Buddhism. Two scholars, Forbes and Knighton, were sympathetic towards Buddhism and the Sinhalese people. In contrast to the missionaries, they praised the rationality of Buddhism. However, like Spencer and Gogerly, they took their stance on the ‘pure’ canonical texts, condemning the cosmological and commentarial texts, dismissing the ritualistic and superstitious practice of contemporary Buddhists, and glorifying the purity of the past.

Part III deals with the significant period 1870–1900. In the West, Christianity started to lose ground, and a generation of free thinkers appeared. Buddhism, along with other Oriental religions and cultures, was romanticised. The major spark leading to the popularisation of Buddhism in the West was the publication of the poem, The Light of Asia, by Sir Edwin Arnold in 1879, giving a positive, romantic portrait of the life of the Buddha, depicting him as a compassionate hero. After this, even some Christian missionaries appeared more tolerant and appreciative of Buddhism, although Christianity was now depicted as the fulfilment of Buddhism. Other missionaries, in response to the growing interest of Westerners who regarded Buddhism as pure, rational and scientific, became even more adamant in stressing the atheism, nihilism, idolatry, and other satanic aberrations coming out of Buddhism.

Another major development during this period was that Sinhalese Buddhist monks, trying to defend Buddhism against the Christian missionaries, successfully adopted Christian missionary tactics in defence of Buddhism. The Pānadura debates between the Christian missionaries and Ven. Guṅānanda were a turning point in the revival of Buddhism. The debates were publicised in the West, and aid for the Sinhalese Buddhist revival came from Western free-thinkers, theosophists, and converts to Buddhism. However, this aid was often fuelled more by anti-Christian sentiments than by a deep understanding of Buddhism and Sinhalese culture.

British scholars sympathetic to Buddhism, such as Childers and Dickson, were the first to interpret the texts and Buddhist practice with the aid of the living tradition. They refused to divorce the texts from the actual practice. Dickson focused on Buddhism as practised by the Sangha and laypeople, while the lexicographer Childers built up a friendly, humble, pupil-like relationship with the Sinhalese scholar-monk Vaskaduve Subhūti.

The British understanding of Buddhism was greatly facilitated by the textual studies of Rhys Davids, the founder of the Pali Text Society. Rhys Davids applying historical criticism, was convinced that the pure Buddhism could be found only in the Theravada textual tradition and was dismissive of the living traditions in Sri Lanka and, especially, of the Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism practised in other parts of Asia. He once proudly stated that Japanese students could improve their knowledge of Buddhism under the guidance of professors in the West.

Western Theosophists came to Sri Lanka in the 1880s, most notably Madame Blavatsky, C.W. Leadbeater, and Colonel Olcott. They were received warmly and were probably the first Westerners to publicly avow Buddhism, taking the three refuges and the five precepts. However, their understanding and adaptation of Buddhism was inconsistent and not whole-hearted. While Olcott promoted a pure, non-esoteric Buddhism, Blavatsky and Leadbeater were mainly interested in the esoteric and the occult. Even Olcott, the author of the influential Buddhist Catechism and the founder of Buddhist schools and societies, who stayed on in Sri Lanka after Blavatsky and Leadbeater had left, privately regarded the Theosophist’s Buddhism as identical with “the Wisdom-Religion of the Aryan Upanishads and the soul of all ancient world-faiths.” Olcott’s continued alliance with Theosophism and his dislike for Buddhist devotional rituals eventually led to a rift with Sinhalese revivalists such as Anāgārika Dhammapāla, nevertheless, due to his great assistance in the revival of Sinhalese Buddhism, Olcott remains a hero in the eyes of many Sinhalese.

In chapter 15, the life and Buddhist writings of Änanda Metteyya, one of the first British monks and the first Buddhist missionary to England, are discussed. He was also the first Westerner to give detailed and accurate explanations of Buddhist meditation, which he had learned in Burma. The contents of this chapter are largely identical with Änanda Metteyya: His Life and Mission, published by the BPS as Wheel 420/422.

In the last two parts of the book, Harris moves from the historical to the critical. In Part IV, building on earlier parts of the book, she presents a detailed critique of the concept of ‘Protestant Buddhism’ or ‘Reformed Buddhism.’ This concept is used by scholars to denote a reformist form of Buddhism that arose in the late nineteenth century that appears to be quite different from traditional Buddhism: rationalistic, textually puristic, individualistic, and lay-oriented. According to Harris, this form of Buddhism was the creation of neither the West nor the East, but arose through the interaction of both in this period. The direct role of Westerners, such as Rhys Davids and Olcott, in this movement has been overestimated by scholars presenting them as the initiators through their translations and catechisms. It is clear that Westerners did not initiate lay meditation practice because earlier scholars, such as Dickson, had reported on meditation as a traditional lay practice. Furthermore, the most thorough description of meditation during this period comes not come from Sri Lanka, but from Burma via Änanda Metteyya. Descriptions of Buddhism as a rationalistic, philosophical religion and the Buddha as a reformer were already made by scholars much earlier in the nineteenth century. They, in turn, based some of their statements on the answers given by Buddhist monks to the questionnaires of the inquisitive Dutch governor Falck in the second half of the eighteenth century. The monks’ answers show the devotional and cosmological elements of ‘traditional Buddhism, ‘ but they also show rational aspects of ‘Reformed Buddhism, ‘ such as an active, ethical path for both the lay and ordained. Thus, the reformist movement drew on elements that were already existent in the tradition. Renewed interest in meditation was not initiated by Westerners, but rather arose under the influence of the Burmese tradition.

According to Harris, the key to the development of Reformed Buddhism lies not with Western orientalists, but rather in the adaptation of the arguments of Western opponents of Christianity by Buddhist revivalists who wished to counter Christian missionary writings. In reaction to the missionaries’ arguments that Buddhism was ineffective, irrational, unscientific, and nihilistic, the defenders of Buddhism had to present it in the opposite way. They could do so by emphasising the rational core existing in the Buddhist texts that they were familiar with, but also by showing irrationalities in the Bible that had been pointed out by Western sympathisers.

Part V deals with the negative outcome of the encounter with the Christian missionaries in the nineteenth century. Prior to this period, Sinhalese Buddhists were quite tolerant in general, and many of them saw nothing wrong with being externally a Christian and internally a Buddhist. They found it difficult to understand the exclusive attitudes of the Christian missionaries and their failure to worship the Buddha. In their view, there was nothing wrong with combining the two systems, as long as the Buddha was placed above Jesus. This tolerant and pragmatic attitude was not new to Buddhism: when ancient Buddhist missionaries went to non-Buddhist areas, they did not try to win people over by condemning the local religions, but rather by absorbing these into the Buddhist system. However, the Christian missionaries misapprehended and scorned this tolerance. In their view, humanity could be saved only by Jesus. In fact, some missionaries were quite pleased when a more defensive form of Buddhism arose that they could now confront.

Although the missionaries were initially treated with kindness and courtesy by the Sangha, these gestures were not reciprocated by the missionaries, who sought their presence only in order to learn how to undermine Buddhism. This abuse of good will and the contempt for Buddhism eventually led to a sense of mutual betrayal and a reciprocal contempt for Christianity. Sinhalese Buddhists initially responded by appealing to the colonial government that religious tolerance be upheld and that literature offensive to any religious group be banned. However, the government responded to this only occasionally by warning missionaries. When these appeals failed, other methods were tried. Treatises with reasoned Buddhist arguments against the Christians’ arguments were spread. However, when Gogerly published his polemic and confrontational work Kristiyāni Prajñapti (‘The Evidences and Doctrines of the Christian Religion’) in 1848, the Sangha rose strongly against Gogerly’s accusation of not teaching ‘pure’ Buddhism and against his attempt to undermine that Buddhism through rational arguments. After this, the tone of the encounter changed: Christian preachers regularly encountered rebuke and abuse. New Buddhist leaders appeared. Buddhist printing presses, Buddhist societies, Buddhist schools, etc., were founded. Debates with Christians that were earlier avoided were successfully taken on. Thus, Sinhalese Buddhists confidently and successfully challenged Christianity by drawing on Christian forms, such as the Sunday school.

The outcome of this encounter was that Sinhalese Buddhism, became reformed and modernised, but, at the same time, its adherents became more defensive, apprehensive, and intolerant. One of the consequences of the Buddhist revival in the 20th century was the rising Sinhala Buddhist nationalism of the 1950s. Influenced by the legacy of the nineteenth-century revival, this movement tried to compensate for what Buddhism had suffered under colonialism, successfully challenging what was viewed as the hegemony of the English language and the disproportionate percentage of Tamils in positions of power. In 1956, the year of the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha, a Sinhala nationalist party won the elections. It made Sinhala the official language through the Sinhala Only Act and made pledges to restore Buddhism to its rightful pre-colonial status. Similar to the situation in the nineteenth century, there were frequent warnings in the Buddhist newspapers and magazines about suspected threats to Buddhism. According to Harris, many Sinhala Buddhists admitted to her that the Sinhala Only Act was a mistake. Understandable as it was as a post-colonial reaction, combined with the government rhetoric about restoring Buddhism, it eventually had disastrous consequences in that it caused the Sri Lankan Tamils to lose confidence in the national government, and, thus, paved the way to the current armed conflict. The feelings of victimhood and betrayal that Sinhala Buddhists experienced in the 19th century currently carries on through feelings of beleaguerment regarding suspected alliances of Tamil tigers, Christian missionary groups, foreign NGOs, etc. It also carries on in the support for the use of armed force against the LTTE as the only way to stop this conflict.

The title of the book is overly general as the book deals only with the British Buddhist encounter in Ceylon. However, there was also a British-Theravada encounter in Burma, Siam, and other parts of Asia. Thus, in my opinion, Reformed Buddhism was not a movement confined to Sri Lanka, but rather a pan-Asian movement. Reformers, such as King Mongkut in Siam and Ledi Sayādaw in Burma, initiated similar movements that arose out of the confrontation and interaction with the British and the West. King Mongkut, the founder of the reformist Dhammayuttika monastic sect, was a promoter of a rationalistic, scientific Buddhism and downplayed the mythological aspects of traditional Buddhism. The Burmese scholar Ledi Sayādaw was an active missionary and scholar who corresponded with scholars in Britain. Even in Sikkim, the British educated King Sidkeang—influenced by Alexandra David-Néel, Bhikkhu Sīlācāra, and Bhikkhu Ñāṅatiloka’sttempted to reform Sikkimese Lamaist Buddhism in the early twentieth century.

There were close contacts between Ceylonese Buddhists, Burmese Buddhists, and Siamese Buddhists that supported the reformist efforts in Sri Lanka. For example, the printing presses that were used by Buddhists for printing the first Buddhist books in Ceylon were donated by the King of Siam. The Thai Prince Prisdang, who was accepted into the Sinhalese Sangha by Vaskaduv÷ Subhūti in the late nineteenth century, planned to unify the Sinhalese Sangha with the help of the Thai King Chulalongkorn. He set up a Buddhist school in Guṅānanda’s temple in Kotahenna in Colombo. The new examination system at Vidyodaya College, that Harris mentions on p. 186, could indeed have had its roots in Thailand, but there it would have arisen out of influence of the British education system that came in vogue there in King Chulalonkorn reign. Thus, I agree with Harris that more research needs to be done on the interactions between Theravada countries during this period. Further, a study should be made on the Buddhist reactions to Christian missionary efforts and British Colonialism in Burma and Siam in the nineteenth century. It is likely that many parallels to what happened in Ceylon will be found. However, in Siam the main threat that had to be countered by way of reform and modernization was colonialism, not Christian missionary activity.

Although there are similarities with the nineteenth-century encounter with Christian missionaries, it appears to me that the current Sinhalese sentiments of victimhood and the support for the use of arms as a legitimate response by some Sinhala Buddhist groups that Harris mentions would come more out of the influence of Sinhalese historical treatises such as the Mahāvaṃsa, which glorify the struggles of Buddhist Sinhalese kings against South Indian invaders. What was new in the nineteenth-century encounter was that the Christian missionaries directly tried to challenge and undermine the Buddhist teachings through writing, preaching, and debate, while earlier invaders were content with destroying and looting temples. Moreover, the South Indian invaders came from a similar culture, and therefore there was no major cultural conflict. However, in nineteenth century Sri Lanka, besides the encounter with a hostile, exclusionist religion, there was also another far-reaching cultural encounter taking place, that is, the encounter of a mediaeval agricultural culture with modernity. Sinhalese Buddhists also had to face such as challenges such as Western education, technology, science, urbanisation, and the global economy, which are all, in one way of another, the result of the Reformation in Europe. Thus, the Buddhist-Christian debates and the Buddhist reformist movement, which became the symbol of successfully facing the Christian challenge, could perhaps also be seen as the symbol of Sinhalese Buddhist culture successfully facing the wider challenges that modernity brought.

The section dealing with the life and writings of Änanda Metteyya in the early 20th century, although informative, steps out of the nineteenth century Sri Lankan context of the book and, therefore, seems somewhat out of place. Although Metteyya initially encountered Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, he did not stay for long and became a monk in Burma. His writings and missionary efforts were mostly based on his studies and practice in Burma.

One correction: on p. 216 Harris mentions that there are over a hundred Western Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka today. There are only about thirty, and this has been so for decades.

The price of the book, £ 65, is very expensive in relation to its size. Hopefully, an inexpensive Asian edition of the book will be published in the future. The same observation applies for the other books published in the Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism series.

Sutta Study: The Contemplation of Stilling
and the Epithets for Nibbāna in the Pali Canon

by Bhikkhu Ñāṅatusita

One of the contemplations, anussati, recommended by the Buddha is the recollection or contemplation of stilling, upasamānussati. The Pāli word upasamānussati—a compound consisting of upasama and anussati—is usually translated as “recollection of peace,” however, upasama has a slightly different and wider meaning than just “peace,” which is denoted by the word santi in Pāli. In its “active” or practice aspect (as action-noun) upasama means “stilling,” “calming,” “quieting,” “tranquilising,” “ceasing,” whereas in its “passive” or attainment aspect it means “stillness,” “calmness,” “ceasing,” etc. Thus, “recollection of stilling” would seem more appropriate as a translation.

An example of the usage of upasama is: “this is the ultimate stilling, namely, the stilling of greed, hatred, and delusion,” (MN 140.28, eso … paramo upasamo yadidaṃ rāgadosamohānaṃ upasamo).

An example of its verbal form upasam(m)ati is, “A great blazing fire ceases (or ‘stills’) without fuel, when the conditions have ceased, (it) is called ‘quenched’” (AN 6:43, mahāgini pajjalito anāhārūpasamati, saṅkhāresūpasantesu nibbuto ti pavuccati.” An example of its related (or variant) [1] form vūpasama is:

Alas, all conditions are transient, of the nature to arise and cease,
having arisen, they cease—their stilling is happiness. [2]

These usages, thus, show the two aspects of the contemplation: firstly, it is the contemplation of the process of stilling all mental and physical activities through the practice of samatha and vipassanā, and, secondly, it is the contemplation of the aspects of the final attainment, Nibbāna, the happy state of complete stillness and calm.

Upasamānussati is a contemplation little known and little practised. The contemplation is only mentioned in a few suttas in the Pali Canon, and its practice is not explained. In the Aṅguttara Nikāya (AN 1:16.10) it is said to be leading to detachment, stilling, and Nibbāna.

According to the Theravāda tradition, as represented in the Pāli Commentaries and the classical meditation manual called The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) (ch. 8, § 245ff), this contemplation has as its object the qualities of Nibbāna, i.e., the stilling of all suffering (sabbadukkhūpasamasaṅkhātassa nibbānassa guṅā). According to this treatise only a noble person (ariya) can do this practice to the full extent, but adds that a worldling (puthujjana) who values stilling can pay attention to it, because even through hearsay the mind gains confidence in stilling. The Visuddhimagga states that the practice will lead to access concentration through the suppression of hindrances and the arising of the jhāna factors. The benefits are sleeping and waking happily, calm faculties and mind, conscience and shame, confidence, respect by fellow monks, resolution to (attain) the superior (state of Nibbāna), and a good destiny if one does not attain a higher state.

Interestingly, the Path of Freedom, the English translation of the Chinese translation of the meditation manual called Vimuttimagga (pp.177f), describes a different approach. In this treatise, “stilling” is defined as the complete stilling of physical and mental movements or perturbations (iñjita). The method of practice is to recollect a bhikkhu who has developed stillness and how he eventually became an Arahant, an awakened being, through the gradual stilling of all mental activities and through the destruction of all defilements. One finally recollects that when the Arahant attains final Nibbāna at the breakup of the body, everything (i.e., the five khandhas) is stilled. Like the Visuddhimagga, the Vimuttimagga states that the practice will lead to access concentration, but it does not mention that one needs to be an Ariya in order to successfully practise it.

A way of practising not mentioned that in these manuals, but which would also be a valid way of practising this recollection, is to contemplate a peaceful, calm meditative state one has previously had oneself, how one did attain this state, and what were its benefits—similar to the Bodhisatta recollecting his meditative experience as a boy sitting under the rose-apple tree. Focusing the mind in this way, leads to calm and stillness.

The commentary (A-a II 22) to the Aṅguttara Nikāya explains that the recollection has the stilling of all suffering as object (sabbadukkhūpasamārammaṅa). It adds that the stilling can also be twofold, firstly, the final, absolute stilling of Nibbāna (accantūpasama), and, secondly, the stilling through destruction (of defilements) (khayūpasama), which is the way (magga) to Nibbāna.

A canonical contemplation (AN 4:114, etc.) on Nibbāna is: “This is peaceful, this is excellent, namely, the calming of all conditions, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, fading away, cessation, quenching.” (etaṃ santaṃ etaṃ paṅītaṃ yadidaṃ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṅinissaggo taṅhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṃ). The Visuddhimagga recommends one to recollect Nibbāna through a similar contemplation given in AN 4:34: “As far as there are phenomena that are conditioned or unconditioned, fading away is declared to be the best of them, that is the quelling of intoxication, the dispelling of thirst, the abolition of reliance, the cutting off of the round (of rebirth), the destruction of craving, fading away, cessation, quenching,” (yāvatā dhammā saṅkhatā vā asaṅkhatā vā virāgo tesaṃ dhammānaṃ aggaṃ akkhāyati, yadidaṃ madanimaddano, pipāsavinayo, ālayasamugghāto, vaṅṅupacchedo, taṅhakkhayo, virāgo, nirodho, nibbānan-ti.) The Visuddhimagga adds that the contemplation can also be done through the qualities of stilling as given in the Asaṅkhata Saṃyutta (SN 43), etc.

It should be noted that Nibbāna is not necessarily the primary epithet given for the final aim of Buddhist practice, although it is the most commonly used one. In the Asaṅkhata Saṃyutta, Nibbāna is only given as the thirty-fourth in a list of forty-four epithets, starting with the Unconditioned (asaṅkhata).

In order to facilitate the contemplation of the qualities of Nibbāna, I have prepared a list which comprises all epithets that can be found within the limits of the main texts of the Sutta Piṅaka. There are more epithets in later, exegetical texts such the Niddesa, Paṅisambhidāmagga, Netti, etc. The epithets listed refer only to the state of Nibbāna, not to the state of the Arahant. Although some epithets are used for both states (e.g., in the suttas, anāsava is normally used as an attribute of the Arahant), there are many epithets used just for the arahat (e.g. aneja “unshakeable,” and akiñcana “not owning anything”) that do not denote the state of Nibbāna, at least not in the main Canonical texts. A list of the epithets for the Arahant would require another, much larger article.

The epithets are sometimes accompanied by superlatives such as parama or anuttara—e.g., parama santi, the ultimate peace—but because they are not always used, these superlatives have been put in brackets or left out.

In the Pāli Canon, Nibbāna is said to be a state, and one regularly finds an epithet being classified as a state, e.g. nibbānapada “the state of Nibbāna,” santipada “the state of peace,” nibbānadhātu “the Nibbāna element,” and amatadhātu, “the deathless element” Other classifiers, although not used in compounds, are dhamma (state, condition), ṅhāna (state, condition) and āyatana (sphere, base, state). These classifiers are usually not included in the list. Occasionally, where the context makes it clear that Nibbāna is referred to, the classifiers are used in isolation, e.g., SN 5:1, Sn 764–65.

For convenience, the epithets have been divided into sections of epithets sharing a common focus:

Stillness and peace

upasama, “the stillness” or “the calm,” MN 3.8, 11.15, 140.28, Dhp 205, Sn 737

(parama) santi, “(the ultimate) peace,” AN 4:23, It 77, Th 6, 32, Thī 212, It 43, 87, Sn 204, 915

anuttara santivarapada, “the unexcelled state of sublime peace,” MN 26:17

sabbasaṅkhārasamatha, “the calming of all conditions,” AN 4:114, Sn 732

anārambha, “the exertionless,” Sn 745

passaddhi, “the serene,” or “the tranquil,” AN 9:58, MN 144.11

Non conflict, Solitude

viveka/paviveka, “the solitude” or “the seclusion,” Dhp 205, AN 6:55, Th 640, Sn 915, SN 1:1, It 38

asambādha, “the uncrowded,” Thī 512

asapatta, “that which is without rivalry,” Thī 505, 512

nirupatāpa, “the untroubled,” or “that which is without vexation,” Thī 512

akhalita, “the faultless,” Thī 512


khema, “the secure,” SN 43:28, AN 9:52, Th 227, Thī 350

(anuttara) yogakkhema, “the (unexcelled) security from bondage,” MN 26.12, Thī 6, 8

saraṅa, “the refuge,” SN 43:43, Th 305, Dhp 194

nissaraṅa, “the escape,” Ud 8:3, Iti 43, SN 5:1

tāṅa, “the shelter,” or “the protection,” SN 43:42, Th 412

abhaya, “that which is free from fear,” AN 9:52, SN 6:3.4 (Th 708–09)

akutobhaya, “that which has no fear from anywhere,” AN 4:23

dīpa, “the island,” SN 43:40, Sn 1094, Th 412

leṅa, “the shelter,” SN 43:41

tittha, “the landing place” or “the harbour,” Th 766

pārimaṃ tīraṃ, khemaṃ appaṅibhayaṃ, “the further shore, safe and free from danger,” SN 35:238

niyyāna, “the way out” or “the deliverance,” Sn 170, 172 (Cf. MN 11.15)

Happiness, Relief, the Rnd of Suffering

(parama) sukha, “the (ultimate) happiness,” Dhp 203–204, It 43

nibbānasukhā paraṃ natthi, “there is nothing else like the happiness of Nibbāna,” Thī 476

susukha, “the great happiness,” Th 227, Ud 2:8

anuttara vimuttisukha, “the supreme peace of release,” AN 5:180

sama bhūmibhāga ramaṅīya, “the delightful stretch of level ground,” SN 22:84

anītika, “the unailing,” SN 43:32, Sn 1147

avyādhi, “the diseaseless,” MN 26.12

ārogya, “the healthy” or “the freedom from disease,” Sn 749, MN 75.19ff.

pipāsavinaya, “the dispelling of thirst,” AN 4:34, It 90

paramaṃhita, “the ultimate welfare,” Sn 233

avyāpajjha, “the freedom from harm,” SN 43:35, AN 6:55, Th 640

dukkhassa anta, “the end of suffering,” Ud 8:1, Dhp 275, 376

dukkhanirodha “the cessation of suffering,” MN 9.17, It 43

yattha dukkhaṃ nirujjhati “where suffering ceases,” Th 227, Sn 726

dukkhakkhaya “the destruction of suffering,” Sn 732, MN 140.25

asoka, “the sorrowless,” MN 26.13, Th 227, 723, Thī 514

bhāranikkhepana, “the putting down of the burden,” SN 22:22, Th 708 (Th 604)


mutti, “the freedom,” SN 43:38

anālaya, “that which is not reliant,” SN 43:39, 46:11

vimutti, “the release” or “the deliverance,” MN 44.29, It 109, Th

vimokkha, “the release” or “deliverance,” Th 906, 1098, Thī 506, 906, SN 1:1

sabbaganthappamocana, “the freedom from all bonds,” AN 4:23, It 102

sabbasaṃyojanakkhaya, “the destruction of all fetters,” Th 176

sabbūpadhipaṅinissagga, “the relinquishment of all acquisitions,” AN 4:114, MN 140.27

(sabba) upadhisaṅkhaya, “the annihilation of (all) acquisitions,” AN 4:23, 6:56

Permanence, Stillness

amata, “the deathless,” or “where there is no death,” SN 43:25, MN 26.13, Thī 513, Sn 225

ajarā, “the agingless,” or “where there is no ageing,” MN 26.13, Thī 511, 513

ajarāmaraṅapada, “the state without ageing and death,” Thī 513

asaṅkuppa, “the unshakeable,” Sn 1149

asaṃhīra, “the indestructible” or “the immovable,” Sn 1149. (See SED saṃhṛ and saṃhāra.)

dhuva, “that which is constant,” or “that which is stable,” SN 43:20, It 43

akampita, “that which does not tremble,” SN 5:7

acala sukha, “the unshakeable happiness,” Ud 8.10, Thī 352, MN 144.11

accuta, “that which does not pass away,” SN 22:95, Dhp 225, Sn 1086, Th 212

apalokita, “that which does not disintegrate,” SN 43:21

anata, “the uninclined,” SN 43:13, MN 144.11, Ud 8.2

nippapañca, “that which is without proliferation,” SN 43:23, AN 6:15, Th 902, 990

cutūpapāto na hoti, “(where) there is no passing away and reappearing,” MN 144.11, Sn 902, Ud 8.1

na ṅhitiṃ, na cutiṃ, na upapattiṃ, “(where there is) no staying, no passing away, no reappearing,” Ud 8.1

āgatigati na hoti, “(where) there is no coming and going (into existence),” MN 144.11, Ud 8.1

yattha na jāyati, na jīyati, na mīyati, na cavati, na uppajjati, “where one is not born, does not age, nor die, nor pass away, nor arise,” SN 2:3.6, AN 4:45, MN 49


suddhi/visuddhi, “purity,” SN 43:37, Th 415, Dhp 277

susukkasukka, “the very pure,” or “the very bright,” Th 212

asaṅkiliṅṅha, “the undefiled,” MN 26.13

virāga, “the fading away,” or “that which is without desire,” SN 43:36, Sn 225

viraja, “the stainless,” Th 227, It 43, Ud 8.8

anāsava, “the taintless,” SN 43:14 (Th 704)

āsavakkhaya, “the destruction of taints,” Th 116, 198, 218

nekkhamma, “the renunciation” or “the freedom from desire,” AN 3:39, 6:55, Th 640, Dhp 181, 272, Th 691

Other than saṃsāra

ajāta, “the unborn,” or “where there is no birth,” Ud 8:3, It 43, MN 26.13

asamuppanna, “the unarisen,” It 43

abhūta, “the unbecome,” Ud 8:3, It 43

akata, “the unmade,” Ud 8:3, It 43

asaṅkhata, “the unconditioned” or “the uncompounded,” SN 43:1, Th 725, Ud 8:3, It 43–44

yassa natthi upamā kvaci, “that for which there is no likeness,” Sn 1149 (Th 1013)

na tena dhammena sam’atthi kiñci, “there is nothing equal to that state,” Sn 225

appaṅibhāga, “that which is without counterpart,” MN 44.29 [3]

appaṅisaraṅa, “that which is without recourse,” SN 48.42 [4]

disā agatapubbā, “the direction never gone before,” AN 4:114

pāra, “the far shore,” SN 43:16, Dhp 85–86

maccuddheyyapāraṃ, “the far shore of the realm of death,” Sn 1146, SN 4:4

agati yattha mārassa, “where Māra has no access,” SN 5:7

anāpara, “the matchless,” Sn 1094

anidassana, “the unmanifest,” SN 43:22, DN 11.85

appamāṅa, “that which is measureless,” AN 4:67

paṅisotagāmi, “that which is going against the stream,” MN 26.19

aputthujjanasevita, “that to which worldings do not resort,” SN 5:7

appatiṅṅha, “that which is without support,” Ud 8:1

appavatta, “that which is without continuation,” Ud 8:1

anārammaṅa, “that which is without basis,” Ud 8:1

atakkāvacara, “that which is not within the range of thought,” MN 26.19, It 43

sabbesu dhammesu samūhatesu, “when all phenomena have been removed,” Sn 1076

n’eva idha vā huraṃ vā ubhayam antarena, “(where) there is no here nor beyond nor in between,” MN 144.11, Ud 8:2

tadāyatanaṃ, yattha neva pathavī, na āpo, na tejo, na vāyo, na ākāsānañcāyayanaṃ, na viññāṅañcāyatanaṃ, na ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ, na nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ, nāyaṃ loko, na paraloko, na ubho candimasuriyā, “that sphere where there is no earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind, nor sphere of endless space, nor the sphere of endless consciousness, nor the sphere of nothingness, nor the sphere of neither perception nor non perception, nor this world, nor the other world, neither sun nor moon,” Ud 8:1


nirodha, “the cessation,” Sn 755, AN 9:58, It 43

lokanta, “the end of the world,” SN 2:3.6, 35:116, AN 4:45–46

lokanirodha, “the cessation of the world,” AN 4:23

bhavanirodha, “the cessation of existence,” SN 12:68, AN 10:7, MN 9.29

yamhi nirujjhanti bhavāni sabbaso, “when existences completely cease” It 44

jīvitassa saṅkhayā añño punabbhavo natthi, “at the annihilation of life, there is no other further existence” Th 493

natthi dāni punabbhavo, “now there is no further existence,” Th 344, 908

vaṅṅupaccheda, “the cutting off of the round (of rebirth),” It 90

(sabba) kammakkhaya, “the destruction of (all) kamma,” AN 4:23, SN 5:8

jātimaraṅassa anta, “the end of birth and death,” Sn 467

jarāmaccuparikkhaya, “the complete destruction of old age and death,” Sn 1094

jātikkhaya, “the destruction of birth,” It 99, Sn 743

vikkhīṅo jātisaṃsāro, “the journeying on in births is annihilated, “Th 344, 908, SN 9:6, Sn 746, MN 22.32

saṃsārā vinaḷīkatā, sabbā gati samucchinnā, “the journeying on has been demolished, all destinations have been cut off,” Th 216

khaya, ”the destruction,” Sn 225, It 44, Th 491, 723

sakkāyanirodha, “the cessation of identity,” MN 44:4, SN 22:105, 35:136, Sn 766

āhārānaṃ nirodha, “the cessation of the nutriments,” Sn 747, Th 702

viññāṅanirodha, “the cessation of consciousness,” Sn 734

abhedi kāyo, nirodhi saññā, vedanā sītir-ahaṃsu sabbā, vūpasamiṃsu saṅkhārā, viññāṅaṃ attham āgamma, “the body breaks up, perception ceases, all feelings become cold, mental activities become still, consciousness comes to an end,” Ud 8:9  [5]

naññe dhamme bhavissanti, “(when) there will be no other phenomena,” Th 907, (Th 708)

vosāna, “the finish,” Th 784

rāgadosamohakkhaya, “the destruction of lust, anger, and delusion” SN 38:1, 45: 6–7, Ud 8:5, It 44, MN 140.28

taṅhakkhaya, “the destruction of craving,” SN 23:2, AN 4:114

taṅhāsaṅkhaya, “the annihilation of craving,” AN 6:55, Th 640

taṅhāya asesavirāganirodho, cāgo, paṅinissaggo, mutti, anālayo, “the remainderless cessation of craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance upon it,” SN 22:22, 46:11

upādānasaṅkhaya, “the annihilation of attachment,” AN 6:55, Th 640


sacca, “the truth,” SN 43:15, MN 140.26, Ud 8.2, SN 4:4, 5:1

amosadhamma, “that which doesn’t have a false nature,” Sn 758, MN 140.26

asammoha, “that which is free from delusion,” AN 6:55, Th 640


nibbāna, “the extinguishing “or “the quenching,” SN 43:34, Th 906, Sn 235

nibbuti, “the quenching” or “the allaying,” Sn 238, 917, Th 32, Th 702

sītibhāva, “the state of coolness,” AN 6:85, Thī 362

ajalita, “that which does not burn,” SN 5:7

kāyassa bhedā uddhaṃ jīvitapariyādānā idheva sabbavedayitāni anabhinanditāni sītibhavissanti, sarirāni avasissanti, “at the breaking up of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here, (only) physical remains will be left” SN 12: 51, It 44


agga, “the highest,” AN 4:34, It 90, Th 1142

parama, “the ultimate,” Dhp 184

paṅīta, “the sublime,” SN 43:26, SN 48:50, MN 26.19, AN 4:114, Sn 225

anuttara, “the unexcelled,” MN 26.18, Th 723

uttama, “the supreme,” MN 78.14, Th 212

vara, “the excellent,” Sn 235


(uttama) attha, “the (supreme) goal,” Dhp 403, Th 176

parāyaṅa, “the destination,” SN 43:44, MN 44.29

atthaṃ mahantaṃ gambhīraṃ duddasaṃ nipuṅaṃ aṅuṃ, “the goal that is great, profound, hard to see, subtle, fine,” Th 4, 71

susukhumanipuṅattha, “the goal which is very fine and subtle,” Th 210

accantaniṅṅhā, “the absolute conclusion,” MN 107.13, SN 22:4

accantapariyosāna, “the absolute end,” SN 22:4

brahmacariyapariyosāna, “the end of the holy life,” SN 45:6, MN 44.29


acchariya, “the wonderful,” SN 43:31

abbhuta, “the amazing,” SN 43:31

siva, “the auspicious,” SN 43:27, Thī 137


sududdasa / duddaso, “that which is (very) hard to see,” SN 43:18, MN 26.19, Th 4, 212

duranubodho, “that which is hard to understand,” MN 26.19

nipuṅa, “that which is subtle,” SN 43:17, MN 26.19, Th 4, 212

aṅu, “that which is fine,” or “that which is minute,” MN 26.19, Th 4, 1161

sukhuma, “that which is delicate,” or “that which is fine,” Th 220, 1160

gambhīra, “that which is profound,” MN 26.19, Th 4

paṅḍitavedanīyā, “that which can be experienced by the wise,” MN 26.19

rāgarattā na dakkhinti, tamokkhandhena āvaṅā, “it is not discerned by those delighting in lust, wrapped in the darkness (of ignorance)” MN 26.19


  1. The Critical Pali Dictionary, in the entry upasama, suggests that the correct reading is tesaṃ upasamo sukho. There seems to be no discernable difference in meaning between upasama and vupasama. The latter form seems to be used when it is easier to pronounce, usually after a vowel, than upasamo. [Back]
  2. Anicca vata sa?khara, uppadavayadhammino, uppajjitva nirujjhanti, tesa? vupasamo sukho. (SN 6:15) [Back]
  3. Although the word appaþibhaga is not found in the text, it is implied. The com. to this sutta states that Nibbana is appaþibhaga. [Back]
  4. Although the word appa?isara?a is not found in the text, it is implied. The com. to this sutta states that Nibbana is appa?isara?a. [Back]
  5. This refers to the complete cessation of the five khandhas at the passing away of the Arahant, in this case the Buddha. Cf the Dvayatanupassanasutta (Sn 3:12), SN 22:78, and the cessation of the khandhas as implied in the cessation of the twelve links of paþiccasamuppada in SN 12:21 & 23. The Pali text is in the past tense, but to bring it in line with the other epithets, it has been put it in the present tense. [Back]