SN 12.23
PTS: S ii 29
CDB i 553
Upanisaa Sutta: Upanisaa
translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
Alternate translations: Bodhi | Thanissaro
The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

[1] [At Saavatthii the Blessed One said:]

"Monks, I declare that the destruction of the cankers[2] comes for him who knows and sees, and not for him who does not know and does not see. By knowing what, by seeing what, does the destruction of the cankers come about? 'Such is material form, such is its arising, such is its passing away; such is feeling... such is perception... such are the mental formations... such is consciousness, such is its arising, such is its passing away': for him who knows this, for him who sees this, the destruction of the cankers comes about.

"Regarding this knowledge of destruction, I declare that there is a supporting condition without which it does not arise...[3] What is this supporting condition? Liberation... Liberation has a supporting condition...: Dispassion... Dispassion has a supporting condition...: Disenchantment... Disenchantment has a supporting condition...: Knowledge-and-vision-of-things-as-they-are... Knowledge-and-vision-of-things-as-they-are has a supporting condition...: Concentration... Concentration has a supporting condition...: Happiness... Happiness has a supporting condition...: Tranquillity... Tranquillity has a supporting condition...: Rapture...[4] Rapture has a supporting condition...: Joy... Joy has a supporting condition...: Faith...[5] Faith has a supporting condition...: Suffering...[6] Suffering has a supporting condition...: Birth...[7] Becoming... Grasping... Craving... Feeling... Contact... the Six Sense-Bases... Name-and-Form... Consciousness... the (kamma-) formations... Ignorance...

"Thus, monks, Ignorance is the supporting condition for the (kamma-) formations [etc. to] Birth. Birth for Suffering, Suffering for Faith, Faith for Joy, Joy for Delight, Delight for Tranquillity, Tranquillity for Happiness, Happiness for Concentration, Concentration for Knowledge-and-vision-of-things-as-they-are, Knowledge-and-vision-of-things-as-they-are for Disenchantment, Disenchantment for Dispassion, Dispassion for Liberation, Liberation for Knowledge of the destruction of the cankers."


The final part of this very important sutta is translated as No. 19 in Vol. I of this anthology. See now also Bhikkhu Bodhi, Transcendental Dependent Arising (WH 277-8, 1980).
AAsavaa From aa-savati "flows towards" (i.e., either "into" or "out" towards the observer), thus lit. either "influx" or "secretion." The most generally accepted translation today is "cankers." [Another meaning is "fermentation," hence "intoxicants" is a possible alternative rendering.] The four cankers are those of (1) sense-desire (kaamaasava) (2) desire for continued existence (bhavaasava) (3) wrong views (di.t.thiaasava: cf. SN 12.15, n. 1): and (4) ignorance (avijjaasava) though (3) is often omitted, being doubtless included in (4). The destruction of the cankers is equivalent to Arahantship, and an Arahant is sometimes called khiinaasava.
Upanisaa: a word of various meanings: "support, cause, means," etc. Formally it looks like the Pali equivalent of upani.sad, but it may be a contraction of upanissaya "decisive support" in the list of the 24 Conditions (see BD [Buddhist Dictionary by Ven. Nyanatiloka (2nd ed. by Ven. Nyanaponika, Colombo 1972)], s. v. Paccaya). It is glossed in SA [SN Commentary] as "cause," paccaya "condition."
Piiti. A particularly difficult word to translate. Like passadhi "tranquillity," but unlike sukha "happiness," it belongs to a group of mental formations (sankhaarakhandha), and ranges from "interest" through "zest" to "rapture." The five degrees of piiti are described in VM IV, 94-99 (in Ven. Ñaa.namoli's translation of the text piiti is rendered "happiness" and sukha "bliss").
Saddhaa. This is not blind faith but confidence in the Buddha and his teaching.
Dukkha stands here for the usual "decay-and-death" ( or, in full, "decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair" (
Jaati. All the rest, down to "ignorance" as in the usual formula of Dependent Origination. See Vol. I, nn. 29-30.