The Defilements of the Perfections

When attachment arises, when we have enjoyment and clinging, the ten  perfections are defiled. The defilements of each of the ten perfections are explained as follows:

“Taken separately, discriminating thoughts (vikappa) over gifts and recipients

are the defilement of the perfection of giving.”

Sometimes when we perform deeds of generosity we are selective with regard to the receiver or we have discriminating thoughts about the gifts, by attachment, aversion, fear or delusion. Then the perfection of generosity is defiled, it is not pure. The perfection of generosity should be developed towards all beings, without discrimination. If we have discriminating thoughts over gifts and recipients, we should investigate the characteristic of the perfection of generosity. At such moments it is defiled, it is not pure. We should have a refined knowledge of the perfections in daily life. They have to be developed life after life in the cycle of birth and death so that they reach fulfilment.

We read with regard to the perfection of morality:

“Discriminating thoughts over beings and times

are the defilement of the perfection of virtue.”

Sometimes we can observe morality towards particular persons, to people we respect such as our parents. We may observe morality by showing respect to them in our gestures and speech, but we cannot do the same to other people. Or we may have discriminating thoughts as to the time of observing morality, we observe it only on Uposatha day or a particular day we select to observe the precepts, and then we may believe that we are perfect in morality, although at other days we do not observe morality. That is the defilement of the perfection of virtue or morality. We read further on in the Commentary to the “Basket of  conduct” about the defilement of the other perfections as follows:


“Discriminating thoughts of delight in sense pleasures and existence,

and of discontent with their pacification,

are the defilement of the perfection of renunciation.

Discriminating thoughts of "I" and "mine"

are the defilement of the perfection of wisdom...”

Even when we think in that way of panna, it is already defiled, we have  attachment to the thought of “my panna”. We read further on about the defilement of the perfections:

“Discriminating thoughts leaning to listlessness and restlessness,

(are defilements) of the perfection of energy;

discriminating thoughts of oneself and others,

(are defilements) of the perfection of patience;

discriminating thoughts of avowing to have seen what was not seen, etc.,

(are defilements) of the perfection of truthfulness;

discriminating thoughts perceiving flaws in the requisites of enlightenment

and virtues in their opposites,

(are defilements) of the perfection of determination;

discriminating thoughts confusing what is harmful with what is beneficial,

(are defilements) of the perfection of loving-kindness;

and discriminating thoughts over the desirable and undesirable,

(are defilements) of the perfection of equanimity.

Thus the defilements should be understood.”

At times we can have equanimity with regard to the undesirable but not with regard to the desirable.

The more we understand the Dhamma in detail, the more will we be inclined to practise the Dhamma. Formerly we may have thought that we could not practise the perfections, that they were beyond our reach. However, if we see the benefit of each of the perfections, and if we gradually develop them, they will eventually become accomplished. We can verify for ourselves that listening to the Dhamma and studying it is of the utmost benefit. It will enable us to apply the Dhamma in our daily lives, to develop satipatthana together with all the perfections.

Topic ID  287