Dustless (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)


revised on 2020-05-29


By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)


A person mind is dustless. What does it mean? Here dust is a metaphorical term and represents greed (lobha), dosa (hatred) and delusion (moha). These are the three roots of unwholesome phenomena. A dustless mind is free from greed, hatred and delusion, which is an arahant’s mind. A mind freeing from defilement is a dustless mind.

There are ten defilements: greed, hatred, delusion, conceit, wrong views, doubt, sloth, restlessness, shamelessness and fearlessness of wrongdoing. The defilements (kilesa) are so called because they afflict and torment the mind. They defile beings by dragging them down to a mentally soiled and deprived condition. There was an interesting story connected with dust. This was the story of Cūlapanthaka.

Ven. Cūlapanthaka:

He was a grandson of a banker of Rājagaha. The banker had two grandsons, Mahāpanthaka and Cūlapanthaka. Mahāpanthaka joined the Buddhist order and over time became an arahant.

Cūlapanthaka also followed him and became a monk. He was born as a dullard because of his past kamma. At the time of the Buddha Kassapa, he had made fun of a very dull monk. This kamma took fruit in this life. Even the slightest fault could become a big result. Therefore, we have to be careful about all our actions.

Even he could not memorize a verse in four months. His brother Mahāpanthaka was very disappointed with him and asked him to leave the order. About that time, doctor Jīvaka came to the monastery and invited the Buddha and Saṅgha to his house for a meal. Mahāpanthaka was in charge of assigning the monks to meal invitations.

So, he left out Cūlapanthaka from the list. When Cūlapanthaka knew this and decided to leave the order. The Buddha knew all about it and asked him not to leave. He then gave him a clean white piece of cloth for the practice.

The Buddha instructed him by sitting in front of the Perfumed Chamber (The Buddha’s dwelling place) and rubbed the piece of cloth all the time and repeated the word “rajoharaṇa” which mean taking on impurity. And then with the monks, the Buddha went to Jīvaka’s place.

Meanwhile, Cūlapanthaka went on rubbing the piece of cloth all the times and repeating the word “rajoharaṇa” like chanting a mantra all the time. This led to samādhi and after some time the piece of cloth became soiled. Cūlapanthaka came to realize the impermanent nature of all conditioned phenomena.

From the house of doctor Jīvaka, the Buddha knew about the progress of Cūlapanthaka’s practice. He sent forth his radiance and appeared in front of him. The Buddha gave him the following instruction. “It was not only the piece of cloth was made dirty by the dust, but within oneself also there existed the dust of passion, ill-will and ignorance (rāga), (dosa) and (moha). One could achieve the goal and attained arahantship only by removing these dusts of the mind.” Cūlapanthaka got the message and kept on contemplation and in a short time attained arahantship with analytical knowledge. He had ceased to be a dullard and became a dustless person.

There was a more important sutta on taintless or dustless. This was in the Majjhima Nikāya called Discourse on Taintlessness—Anaṅgaṇa Sutta (MN. 5). Ven. Sāriputta gave it to the monks. This sutta was very important for all to know it and look after the mind not to be tainted or soiled. Ven. Sāriputta explained four types of individual. These are:

  1. A person has mental taints in his mind and does not know about it.
  2. A person has mental taints in his mind and knows about it.
  3. A person has no mental taint in his mind and does not know about it.
  4. A person has no mental taint in his mind and knows about it.

So, what are the differences and what happened to them? Ven. Sāriputta gave the following answers. The first and third persons are inferior because they do not know their situations (i.e., ignorant). The second and fourth persons are superior because they know their situations (i.e., wise).

  1. The first person who has mental taints, and he does not know it. So, he will not generate desire, nor make an effort and not develop energy to get rid of that taint. He will pass away with a mind with attachment, anger, bewilderment, taints and impurities.

Ven. Sāriputta gave the example of a bronze bowl. A bronze bowl was brought from a shop and covered with dust and dirt. The owner did not clean it, unused and discarded in the dust. And then, sometimes later it became more stained and tarnished with dirt.

  1. The second person who has mental taints, and he knows it. So, he will generate desire, make an effort and develop energy to get rid of that taint. He will pass away with a mind without attachment, anger, bewilderment, taints and impurities. It was like a bowl covered with dirt and dust. The owner cleaned it, used it and not discarded in the dust. It became cleaner and stainless.
  2. The third person who has no mental taints, and he does not know it. So, he will become attentive to what is pleasant, and his mind will be corrupted by attachment. He will pass away with a mind of taints and impurities. It was like a bowl quite clean and unstained. But it might be left unused and uncleaned by the owner and discarded in the dust. And then, sometimes later it became more stained and tarnished with dirt.
  3. The fourth person who has no mental taints, and he knows it. So, he will not be attentive to what is pleasant, and his mind will not be corrupted by attachment. He will pass away with a mind without taints and impurities. It was like a bowl quite cleaned and unstained. It might be put into using and cleaned by the owner and not discarded in the dust. It became cleaner and stainless.

Therefore, the first and third persons are living their lives with taint and dying with taints. So, they are inferior persons. The second and fourth persons are living their lives without taints and dying without taints. So, both of them are superior persons.

What about human beings today? We can contemplate the current world situation with the above standards. Majority of human beings are like the first persons; they have taints and impurities, but they do not know about it. With the existence of many different types of media in today's world, the minds are more and more tainted and soiled.

Most people are using cell phones or smartphones all the time wherever they are or whatever they are doing. They are more and more like drug addicts. Very few media are wholesome because it does not make money. Business people also know this point. Out of over-greedy, they use many different kinds of bait to hook or trap foolish people.

Some Buddhist monks and lay people may be like the second person. They know the Buddha’s Teaching and follow it. The innocent children are like the third person. If we observe today world education systems from family life, school life and social life, even government level we do not know and see much about moral education or ethics.

Therefore, family, school and society do not know what is wholesome or unwholesome, and they learn everything from the media. With a lot of tainted education, people will have a tainted life. In today world with many social and environmental problems, we know this point very clear. Buddhist noble beings are like the fourth person (i.e., from the stream winner to the arahant.

For the anāgāmin and arahant they do not have any interest in worldly matters. They are immune to it.) Nobody is born as a dustless person. It will come out by studying and practicing the Buddha’s Dhamma. To achieve the highest blessing and protection, we should not miss this chance. If not, saṁsāra will never end for us.


revised on 2020-05-29; cited from https://oba.org.tw/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=4702&p=37000#p37000 (posted on 2019-11-22)


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