Dustless (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)


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 & represents greed (lobha), dosa (hatred) & delusion (moha). These are the three roots of unwholesome phenomena. A dustless mind is free from greed, hatred & delusion, which is an arahant’s mind. A mind frees from defilements is a dustless mind.

There are ten defilements; greed, hatred, delusion, conceit, wrong views, doubt, sloth, restlessness, shamelessness & fearlessness of wrongdoing. The defilements (kilesa) are so called because they afflict & torment the mind. They defile beings by dragging them down to a mentally soiled & 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 & Cūlapanthaka. Mahāpanthaka joined the Buddhist order & over time became an arahant.

Cūlapanthaka also followed him & 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 4 months. His brother Mahāpanthaka was very disappointed with him & asked him to leave the order. About that time, doctor Jivaka came to the monastery & invited the Buddha & Sangha 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 & decided to leave the order. The Buddha knew all about it & asked him not to leave. He then gave him a clean white piece of cloth for the practice.

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

Meanwhile, Cūlapanthaka went on rubbing the piece of cloth all the times & repeating the word “rajoharanam” like chanting a mantra all the time. This led to samādhi & 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 Jivaka, the Buddha knew about the progress of Cūlapanthaka’s practice. He sent forth his radiance & 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 & ignorance (raga), (dosa) & (moha).

Only by removing these dust of the mind could achieve the goal & attained arahantship.” Cūlapanthaka got the message & kept on contemplation & in a short time attained arahantship with analytical knowledge. He had ceased to be a dullard & became a dustless person.

There was a more important sutta on taintless or dustless. This was in the Majjima Nikāya called Discourse on Taintlessness-Aṅangana Sutta. Ven. Sariputta gave it to the monks. This sutta was very important for all to know it & look after the mind not to be tainted or soiled. Ven. Sariputta explained four types of individual. These are:

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

So, what are the differences & what happened to them? Ven. Sariputta gave the following answers. The first & 3rd persons are inferior because they do not know their situations (i.e., ignorant). The 2nd & 4th persons are superior because they know their situations (i.e., wise).

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

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

  1. The 2nd person who has mental taints & he knows it. So, he will generate desire, make an effort & develop energy to get rid of that taint. He will pass away with a mind without attachment, anger, bewilderment, taints & impurities. It was like a bowl covered with dirt & dust. The owner cleaned it, used it & not discarded in the dust. It became cleaner & stainless.
  2. The 3rd person who has no mental taints & he does not know it. So, he will become attentive to what is pleasant & 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 & unstained. But it might be left unused & uncleaned by the owner & discarded in the dust. And then, sometimes later it became more stained & tarnished with dirt.
  3. The 4th person who has no mental taints & he knows it. So, he will not be attentive to what is pleasant & his mind will not be corrupted by attachment. He will pass away with a mind without taints & impurities. It was like a bowl quite cleaned & unstained. It might be put into used & cleaned by the owner & not discarded in the dust. It became cleaner & stainless.

Therefore, the first & 3rd persons are living their lives with taint & dying with taints. So they are inferior persons. The 2nd & 4th persons are living their lives without taints & dying without taints. So, both of them are superior persons.

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

Most people are using cell phones or smartphones all the time wherever they are or whatever they are doing. They are more & 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 & lay people may be like the 2nd person. They know the Buddha’s Teaching & follow it. The innocent children are like the 3rd person. If we observe today world education systems from family life, school life & social life, even government level we do not know & see much about moral education or ethics.

Therefore family, school & 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 & environmental problems, we know this point very clear. Buddhist noble beings are like the 4th person (i.e., from the stream winner to the arahant.

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


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


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