This course involves lessons which lead students through a stepwise, progressive enumeration of groups of Dhammas similar to that found in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. The Course is broken up into Eight Units with each unit providing enough material for a suggested two weeks of in-depth study. The course discussion forum hosted through Discord can be reached through the link to the right.

1.9 –The Three Dhamma Summaries (Not Doing Any Evil; Cultivating the Wholesome; Purifying the Mind)



The entirety of the Buddha’s teaching can be summarized in a single, three-part sentence : “Abandoning all evil, undertaking the wholesome, purifying one’s own mind: this is the teaching of all Buddhas” (sabba-pāpassa akaraṇaṃ, kusalassa-upasampadā, sa-citta-pariyodapanaṃ, etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ) This sentence which appears as verse 183 of the Dhammapada, is the heart of what is called the “Ovāda-Pāṭimokkha”, or, “The Instructions Toward Freedom” and is given pride of place among the Buddha’s teachings being celebrated with its own holiday on the full moon of February, Māgha-Pūjā. This holiday, during which time these lines are chanted and discussed in monasteries and temples around the world, commemorates when the Buddha first gave this teaching to an assembly of 1,500 Enlightened disciples in the first year of his dispensation. Through examining a variety of translations and by engaging commentary focused on lived practice, this lesson will explore each of the three clauses which make up this central teaching.

You may download the topic’s flashcard deck on Quizlet or Anki for further study.

Pre-test yourself

1) Definitions

  1. Sabba-pāpassa akaraṇaṃ
    1. non-doing (akaraṇaṃ) all/any (sabba) evil (pāpa)
    2. To avoid all evil (Buddharakkhita)
    3. The non-doing of any evil (Thanissaro)
    4. Shun every wickedness (Varado)
    5. (Pali English Dictionary entry) pāpa
    6. (Pali English Dictionary entry) karaṇa
  2. Kusalassa upasampadā
    1. undertaking (upasampadā) the wholesome/skillful (kusala)
    2. To cultivate good (Buddharakkhita)
    3. The performance of what’s skillful (Thanissaro)
    4. Undertake wholesomeness (Varado)
    5. (Pali English Dictionary entry) kusala
    6. (Pali English Dictionary entry) upasampadā
  3. Sa-citta-pariyodapanaṃ
    1. purifying/cleansing (pariyodapanaṃ) one’s own (sa-) mind (citta)
    2. To cleanse one’s mind (Buddharakkhita)li>
    3. The cleansing of one’s own mind (Thanissaro)
    4. Purify consciousness (Varado)
    5. (Pali English Dictionary entry) citta2
    6. (Pali English Dictionary entry) pariyodapanaṃ

Review (Click text for answer)

2) The Three Dhamma Summaries – Dhammapada Verse 183

Review (Click text for answer)

3) Ancient Commentary

  1. Dhammapada Commentary to Verse 183
    1. The Dhammapada Origin Story for this Verse (Translator: Burlingame)
    2. Definition of terms
  2. Visuddhimagga Commentary to Verse 183
    1. Visuddhimagga on ‘Not doing any evil’ (p. 66 of pdf)
    2. Visuddhimagga on ‘Entering upon the profitable’ (p. 67 of pdf)
    3. Visuddhimagga on ‘purifying one’s own mind’ (p. 67 of pdf)
  3. A Treatise on the Pāramis
    1. Acarya Dhammapala “Commentary to the Cariyapitaka”

Review (Click text for answer)

Modern Commentary

  1. Not Doing any Evil (Sabbapāpassa Akaraṇaṃ)
    1. Acharya Buddharakkhita “Positive Response: How to Meet Evil with Good”
    2. Bhikkhu Bodhi “Nourishing the Roots: Essays on Buddhist Ethics”
  2. Undertaking the Wholesome (Kusalassa Upasampadā)
    1. Thanissaro Bhikkhu “Head and Heart Together: Essays on the Buddhist Path”
    2. Ajahn Sucitto “Ways to Cross Life’s Floods”
  3. Purifying One’s Own Mind (Sacitta Pariyodapaṇaṃ)
    1. Ajahn Chah “On Meditation”
    2. Various Teachers – Meditation Methods
    3. Bhikkhu Analayo “Purification in Early Buddhist Discourse and Buddhist Ethics”
  4. Review (Click text for answer)


6) External Links

  1. Not Doing any Evil (Sabbapāpassa Akaraṇaṃ)
    1. Wikipedia – Evil (in Buddhism)
    2. Buddhist Door – Evil
  2. Undertaking the Wholesome (Kusalassa Upasampadā)
    1. Wikipedia – Puññā, Kusala, and Nirvāna
    2. Encyclopedia of Buddhism – Puṇya
  3. Purifying One’s Own Mind (Sacitta Pariyodapanaṇ)
    1. Wikipedia – Buddhist Meditation
    2. Wikipedia – Purity in Buddhism
    3. Encyclopedia of Buddhism – Buddhist Meditation Practices