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Aṅguttara Nikāya - The Numerical Discourses

3: The Book of the Threes

156. Establishments of Mindfulness

"Bhikkhus, there are these three ways of practice. What three? The coarse way of practice, the blistering way of practice, and the middle way of practice.

(1) "And what, bhikkhus, is the coarse way of practice? Here, someone holds such a doctrine and view as this: ‘There is no fault in sensual pleasures,’ and then indulges in sensual pleasures. This is called the coarse way of practice.

(2) "And what is the blistering way of practice?[n.612] The following list of ascetic practices is also at DN I 166–67; MN I 77–78, 307–8, 342–43. Here, someone goes naked, rejecting conventions, licking his hands, not coming when asked, not stopping when asked; he does not accept food brought or food specially made or an invitation to a meal; he receives nothing from a pot, from a bowl, across a threshold, across a stick, across a pestle, from two eating together, from a pregnant woman, from a woman nursing a child, from a woman being kept by a man, from where food is advertised to be distributed, from where a dog is waiting, from where flies are buzzing; he accepts no fish or meat; he drinks no liquor, wine, or fermented brew.

"He keeps to one house on alms round, to one morsel of food; he keeps to two houses, to two morsels … he keeps to seven houses, to seven morsels. He lives on one saucer a day, on two saucers a day … on seven saucers a day. He takes food once a day, once every two days … once every seven days; thus even up to once every fortnight, he dwells pursuing the practice of taking food at stated intervals.

"He is an eater of greens or millet or forest rice or hide-parings or moss or rice bran or rice scum or sesame flour or grass or cow dung. He subsists on forest roots and fruits; he feeds on fallen fruits.

"He wears hemp robes, robes of hemp-mixed cloth, shroud robes, rag-robes; robes made from tree bark, antelope hides, strips of antelope hide; robes of kusa grass, bark fabric, or wood-shavings fabric; a mantle made of head hair or of animal wool; a covering made of owls’ wings.

"He is one who pulls out hair and beard, pursuing the practice of pulling out hair and beard. He is one who stands continuously, rejecting seats. He is one who squats continuously, devoted to maintaining the squatting position. He is one who uses a mattress of thorns; he makes a mattress of thorns his bed. He dwells pursuing the practice of bathing in water three times daily including the evening. Thus in such a variety of ways he dwells pursuing the practice of tormenting and mortifying the body. This is called the blistering way of practice.

(3) "And what is the middle way of practice? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. This is called the middle way of practice.

"These, bhikkhus, are the three ways of practice."