The Seven Stages of Purification


The Sixteen Insight Knowledges

  1. Purification of Virtue
  2. Sila (Moral Conduct)

  3. Purification of Mind
  4. Samadhi (Concentration)

  5. Purification of View
  6. The Beginning of the 16 Insight Knowledges (Vipassana)
    1. Knowledge of the Delineation of Mind and Matter

  7. Purification by Overcoming Doubt
    1. Knowledge of Discerning Cause and Condition (includes Cause and Effect, Karma, Dependent Origination)

  8. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of What is Path and Not-Path
    1. Knowledge by Comprehension
      Overcoming the 10 Imperfections of Insight (1)
    2. Knowledge of Contemplation of Arising and Passing Away (beginning stage)

  9. Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Way
    1. Knowledge of Contemplation of Arising and Passing Away (mature stage)
    2. Knowledge of Contemplation of Dissolution
    3. Knowledge of Contemplation of Appearance as Terror
    4. Knowledge of Contemplation of Danger
    5. Knowledge of Contemplation of Disenchantment
    6. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance
    7. Knowledge of Contemplation of Reflection
    8. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations
    9. Knowledge in Conformity with Truth

  10. Purification by Knowledge and Vision
    1. Knowledge of Change of Lineage
    2. Knowledge of Path
    3. Knowledge of Fruit
    4. Knowledge of Reflection

The above is taken principally from MN 24 - Ratha-vinita Sutta (The Relay Chariots Sutta) and
from Ven. Matara Sri Naņarama Mahathera's book The Seven Stages of Purification and the Insight Knowledges.


The details of the first 2 Stages of Purification can be found in the Graduated Training which occurs many times thruout the suttas.


The last 5 Stages - the 16 Insight Knowledges are briefly sketched in many places in the suttas as

The most detailed exposition of the Insight Knowledges found in the suttas is in SN 12.23 - Upanisa Sutta (Transcendental Dependent Arising).

And finally, these Seven Stages form the outline for the Visuddhimagga (Path of Purification), the commentary from about 500 AD. Each stage is discussed in detail and the Insight Knowledges (the last 5 Stages) are dicussed quite excellently in Chapters 18 - 23.

1. The 10 Imperfections of Insight:
  1. Illumination (obhāsa)
  2. Knowledge (ņāna)
  3. Rapture (piti)
  4. Calmness (passadhā)
  5. Happiness (sukha)
  6. Faith (adhimokkha)
  7. Energy (paggaha)
  8. Assurance (upaṭṭhāna)
  9. Equanimity (upekkhā)
  10. Attachment (nikanti)
  Notice that only 1 of the 10 imperfections is an unwholesome state and that 3 of them are even factors of awakening. It's misunderstanding these occurances that is the imperfection, not the states themselves.

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Leigh Brasington / / Revised 02 Nov 12