Conceit and craving needed to attain? (sevitabba and asevitabba mānaṃ)

We sometimes see people suggesting the Buddha praised conceit or tanha as a way to develop the path.

In the Patthana it is indeed said that akusala (e.g conceit, mana) can be a condition for kusala.
Notably, among the 24 paccaya, the section on STRONG-DEPENDENCE CONDITION (upanissayapaccaya):
I use the translation by Narada mahathera of Burma.

(iii) Preceding faulty states are related to subsequent faultless states by strong-dependence condition.

(v) purimā purimā akusalā dhammā pacchimānaṃ pacchimānaṃ kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ kesañci upanissayapaccayena paccayo.
We can see that someone thinks, “well the Buddha did it,and so did his disciples, I too will master this Dhamma” and goes on to develop kusala states that lead in the right way.
And so too Tanha (unwholesome desire) a faulty state can condition kusala dhammas- one wants to learn the Dhamma and gathers information that will be helpful for learning Dhamma.

It can also be a Object condition (aramana paccaya) “Patthana” ,paragraph 408, :

"Faulty state is related to faultless state by object condition.
Learners or common worldlings practise insight into the impermanence, suffer-
ing and impersonality of the faulty (state) …

However one should see the severe limitations of akusala as a condition…It cannot for instance be a Repetition Condition (āsevana paccayo) for kusala dhammas - whereas kusala dhamma is a repetition condition.

."Preceding faultless states (kusala dhammas) are related to subsequent faultless states by repetition-condition. "

And kusala can also be object condition and strong dependence condition…

What it comes down to is that akusala is dominant, almost omnipresent , for the worldling , yet there can still be conditions for kusala to arise and for right view to gradually develop.

I think it is called Dhammacchanda.

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yes, dhammachandha is very necessary.
However it is a different reality from lobha/tanha and these factors are sometimes mistaken for it, especially as chanda can arise with lobha and without.

According to the commentary, this type of akusala (craving for liberation) is something to be (that must be) associated with (sevitabba) but without clinging(nikanti). It is considered a light akusala which doesn’t give a rebirth.
In short: sevitabba akusala

Aṅguttaranikāya » Catukkanipātapāḷi » Indriyavaggo » Bhikkhunīsuttaṃ
“‘taṇhāsambhūto ayaṃ, bhagini, kāyo taṇhaṃ nissāya. Taṇhā pahātabbā’ti, iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ. Kiñcetaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ? Idha, bhagini, bhikkhu suṇāti – ‘Itthannāmo kira bhikkhu āsavānaṃ khayā anāsavaṃ cetovimuttiṃ paññāvimuttiṃ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharatī’ti. Tassa evaṃ hoti – ‘Kudāssu nāma ahampi āsavānaṃ khayā anāsavaṃ cetovimuttiṃ paññāvimuttiṃ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharissāmī’ti! so aparena samayena taṇhaṃ nissāya taṇhaṃ pajahati.
‘Taṇhāsambhūto ayaṃ, bhagini, kāyo taṇhaṃ nissāya. Taṇhā pahātabbā’ti, iti yaṃ taṃ vuttaṃ idametaṃ paṭicca vuttaṃ.

‘This body is produced by craving. Relying on craving, you should give up craving.’
This is what I said, but why did I say it? Take a mendicant who hears this: ‘They say that the mendicant named so-and-so has realized the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. And they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements.’ They think: ‘Oh, when will I too realize the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. …’ After some time, relying on craving, they give up craving. That’s why I said what I said.

Bhikkhunīsuttavaṇṇanā (commentary)
taṇhaṃ pajahatīti idāni evaṃ pavattaṃ paccuppannataṇhaṃ nissāya vaṭṭamūlikaṃ pubbataṇhaṃ pajahati.
Ayaṃ pana paccuppannataṇhā kusalā akusalāti? Akusalā.
Sevitabbā na sevitabbāti? Sevitabbā.
Paṭisandhiṃ ākaḍḍhati nākaḍḍhatīti? Nākaḍḍhati.
Etissāpi pana paccuppannāya sevitabbataṇhāya nikanti pajahitabbāyeva.

(I tried to translate it as follows)

The previous-craving which is the root for (samsaric)circle is eliminated
with the support of the present-craving which is existing as mentioned.
Is this present-craving kusala or akusala? Akusala.
To be associated with or not to be associated with? To be associated with.
Does it bring a rebirth or it does not bring? Does not bring a rebirth.
even for this present-craving-to-be-associated-with, clinging is to be eliminated.

Bhikkhunīsutta Tikā (sub-commentary)
evaṃ pavattaṃ paccuppannataṇhaṃ nissāyāti “Kudāssu nāmāhampi āsavānaṃ khayā”tiādinā nayena anuttare vimokkhe pihaṃ uppādentassa uppannataṇhaṃ nissāya.
Kathaṃ pana lokuttaradhamme ārabbha āsā uppajjatīti? Na kho panetaṃ evaṃ daṭṭhabbaṃ,
na ārammaṇakaraṇavasena tattha pihā pavattati avisayattā puggalassa ca anadhigatabhāvato. Anussavūpaladdhe pana anuttaravimokkhe uddissa pihaṃ uppādento tattha pihaṃ uppādeti nāma. nākaḍḍhatīti kammapathabhāvaṃ appattatāya paṭisandhiṃ na deti.

(I tried to translate it as follows)

“With the support of the present-craving which is existing as mentioned” means:
With the support of the craving arisen in the one who generates craving for unsurpassed deliverance.

How can craving be arisen for transcendental phenomena? It is not to be seen in that way.
There is no craving existing for them (for transcendental phenomena) in the form of sensing the object (ārammaṇakaraṇa) , since they are out of the scope of, and unattained by, the person.
Craving according to what has been heard of ,for unsurpassed deliverance, is said to be generating craving for them.

“Does not bring” means: Does not give a rebirth since it (mentioned craving) does not become a kamma-patha (course of action).

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Great job ekocare!
I wrote a little about this on dsg back in 2001 but your translation really digs into it…

As well as the text by ekocare in the, there is

‘There are two kinds of ta.nhaa: skilful [kusala] and unskilful
[akusala]. Unskilful ta.nhaa leads to sa.msaara, skilful ta.nhaa is for
abandoning, which leads to diminishing [of samsaric activities].’ [87]

I don’t know if you have access to the commentary to the netti ekocare and would give a translation of this section?

here is the link to the commentary that ekocare translated

it has this phrase: after some time, relying on craving, they give up craving.
So aparena samayena taṇhaṁ nissāya taṇhaṁ pajahati

I gave it a try to translate the relevant Netti passage and it’s commentary, though my English is not good.

Nettippakaraṇa >> Paṭiniddesavāra >> Vicayahārasampāta :

Tattha taṇhā duvidhā kusalāpi akusalāpi.
Akusalā saṃsāragāminī, kusalā apacayagāminī pahānataṇhā.

Mānopi duvidho kusalopi akusalopi.
Yaṃ mānaṃ nissāya mānaṃ pajahati, ayaṃ māno kusalo.
Yo pana māno dukkhaṃ nibbattayati, ayaṃ māno akusalo.

There are two kinds of craving as skillful and unskillful.
Unskillful-craving leads to samsara,
and skillful-craving which is the ‘craving that abandons’, leads to diminution.

Conceit is also of two kinds as skillful and unskillful.
The conceit, by which conceit itself is abandoned, is skillful-conceit.
The conceit, which produces suffering, is unskillful-conceit.

Nettippakaraṇa-aṭṭhakathā :

Tattha kusalāti kusaladhammārammaṇā.
kusala-saddo cettha bāhitikasutte (ma· ni· 2.358 ādayo) viya anavajjatthe daṭṭhabbo.
Kasmā panettha taṇhā kusalapariyāyena uddhaṭā?
Heṭṭhā desanāhāre vipallāsahetubhāvena taṇhaṃ uddharitvā tassā vasena saṃkilesapakkho dassito.
Vicittapaṭibhānatāya pana idhāpi taṇhāmukheneva vodānapakkhaṃ dassetuṃ kusalapariyāyena taṇhā uddhaṭā.

Tattha saṃsāraṃ gametīti saṃsāragāminī, saṃsāranāyikāti attho. Apacayaṃ nibbānaṃ gametīti apacayagāminī.
Kathaṃ pana taṇhā apacayagāminīti? Āha “Pahānataṇhā”ti. Tadaṅgādippahānassa hetubhūtā taṇhā.
Kathaṃ pana ekantasāvajjāya taṇhāya kusalabhāvoti? Sevitabbabhāvato.

Yathā taṇhā, evaṃ mānopi duvidho kusalopi akusalopi, na taṇhā evāti taṇhāya nidassanabhāvena māno vutto.
Tattha mānassa yathādhippetaṃ kusalādibhāvaṃ dassetuṃ “Yaṃ mānaṃ nissāyā”tiādimāha. Vuttañhetaṃ bhagavatā –
“Mānamahaṃ, devānaminda, duvidhena vadāmi sevitabbampi asevitabbampī”tiādi.

There, ‘skillful’ means ‘sensing the skillful objects’.
The meaning of the word ‘skillful’ is to be seen as ‘faultless’, as in the bāhitikasutta.
Why is craving mentioned as skillful? In the previous (‘desanāhāra’) chapter, the dark-side is shown, by mentioning craving as a cause of perversion.
For variegated comprehension, craving is mentioned here as skillful, in order to show the pure-side of craving.

There, ‘leading to samsara’ means ‘going to samsara’ or ‘guiding to samsara’.
‘Leading to diminution’ means ‘going to diminution’ or ‘going to Nibbana’
How can craving leads to diminution? That is why it is mentioned as ‘craving that abandons’.
Craving is mentioned as ‘craving that abandons’, which is the cause of temporal-abandoning etc., in order to show how craving leads to diminution.
How can there is a skillfulness in craving which is definitely faulty?
It is because it (is a thing that) should be associated with.

In the same way as craving, the conceit also of two kinds as skillful and unskillful.
In order to show this, conceit is mentioned, using craving as an example.
“The conceit, by which … etc.” is mentioned, in order to show the ‘skillfulness… etc’ meant of conceit.
Indeed, it has been preached by the Blessed One – "Conceit, O’ king of gods!, is of two kinds, as sevitabba and asevitabba, I declare. " …etc.

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So helpful. Much appreciated!

Here is a fun story about Nanda from the DhpA Buddhist Legends
I. 9. Nanda the Elder
Nandattheravatthu (13-14)

Only partially quoted. You can go to Buddhist Legends, I. 9. Nanda the Elder to read the whole thing. it is a classic story and should be read if you don’t know it.

The monks began to discuss the incident in the Hall of Truth: “Brethren, the Buddhas are marvelous! Venerable Nanda became dissatisfied with the Religious Life all because of Janapada-Kaḷyānī; but the Teacher, employing celestial nymphs as a lure, won him to complete obedience.” The Teacher came in and asked them, “Monks, what is it you are sitting here now talking about?” When they told him, he said, “Monks, {1.123} this is not the first time Nanda has been won to obedience by the lure of the opposite sex; the same thing happened in a previous existence also.” So saying, he related the following [28.224]

9 c. Story of the Past: Kappaṭa and the donkey

Actually, we have known them already.
The Seven Factors of Enlightenment by Piyadassi Thera

  1. Mindfulness (sati)
  2. Keen investigation of the dhamma (dhammavicaya)[3]
  3. Energy (viriya)
  4. Rapture or happiness (piti)
  5. Calm (passaddhi)
  6. Concentration (samadhi)
  7. Equanimity (upekkha)

To achieve these seven and samma-ditthi, we must develop: amoha, alobha/araga, adosa, and get rid of sakkaya-ditthi

A Manual of Abhidhamma - Ven Narada - 09 Different Kind of Purity Visuddhibhedo

In the exercises on mental culture pertaining to Insight (24) the section on ‘Purity’ is sevenfold:

  1. Purity of Morals,
  2. Purity of Mind,
  3. Purity of views,
  4. Purity of Transcending Doubts,
  5. Purity of Vision in discerning the Path and Non-Path,
  6. Purity of Vision in discerning the method,
  7. Purity of Vision regarding intuitive wisdom.

There are three Characteristic Marks:

  1. The Characteristic Mark of Impermanence (25),
  2. The Characteristic Mark of Suffering (26), and
  3. The Characteristic Mark of No-soul (27).

There are three Contemplations:

  1. The Contemplation on Impermanence,
  2. The Contemplation on Suffering, and
  3. The Contemplation on No soul.

There are ten kinds of Insight:

  1. Investigating knowledge (28),
  2. Knowledge with regard to the arising and passing away (of conditioned things),
  3. Knowledge with regard to the dissolution (of things),
  4. Knowledge (of dissolving things) as fearful,
  5. Knowledge of (fearful) things as baneful,
  6. Knowledge of (baneful) things as disgusting,
  7. Knowledge as regards the wish to escape from them,
  8. Knowledge of reflecting contemplation (9),
  9. Knowledge of equanimity towards conditioned things (30), and
  10. Knowledge of adaptation (31).

There are three Emancipations (32):

  1. Emancipation through Void (33),
  2. Emancipation through Signlessness (34); and
  3. Emancipation through Desirelessness (3)

There are three Doors of Emancipation:

  1. Contemplation on the Void,
  2. Contemplation on the Signlessness, and
  3. Contemplation on Desirelessness.


Purity of Morals (36) consists of four kinds of perfect discipline, namely:

  1. Moral Discipline as regards the Fundamental Precepts,
  2. Discipline as regards sense-restraint,
  3. Discipline as regards purity of livelihood,
  4. Discipline as regards the four requisites.

Purity of Mind (37) consists of two kinds of concentration, namely,

  1. ‘proximate concentration’, and
  2. ‘established or ecstatic concentration’.

Purity of Views (38) is the understanding of mind and matter with respect to their characteristics, function, mode of appearance, and proximate cause.

Purity of Transcending Doubts (39) is the comprehension of the causes of those very mind and matter.

After comprehending the causes, the meditator, considering the methods of aggregates, etc., formulates in groups the conditioned things of the triple plane, that have arisen with causes, differing according to the past, etc., and that have been comprehended in the foregoing manner. Now he meditates on the three characteristics - impermanence in the sense of dissolution, suffering in the sense of fearfulness, and soullessness in the sense of unsubstantiality - by way of duration, continuity, and momentariness. To him who meditates on the arising and passing away of things by means of the knowledge so named with respect to causes and momentariness there arise -

an aura, joy, quietude, excessive faith, effort, happiness, wisdom, mindfulness equanimity and a liking (for that state).

Purity of Vision in discerning what is the Path and what is not the Path (40), is the determining of characteristics of Path and not Path by understanding an aura etc., as inimical impediments of insight.

Getting rid of these inimical impediments, the meditator reflects on the three Characteristics. Now to him, starting from the knowledge of arising and passing away, and extending up to the knowledge of adaptation, there arise in one continuous stream of contemplation, nine kinds of Insight. By Purity of Vision that discerns the method (41) is meant these nine kinds of knowledge.


When he thus practices contemplation, owing to the ripening of insight (he feels) ‘Now the development (of the path) (42) will arise’. Thereupon arresting the life-continuum, arises mind-door consciousness, followed by two or three (moments of) insight consciousness having for their object any of the Characteristics such as impermanence etc. They are termed ‘preliminary’, ‘proximate’, and ‘adaptation’ (moments) (43).

That knowledge of equanimity towards conditioned things, together with knowledge that conforms (to the truths), when perfected, is also termed 'Insight of emergence leading to the Path (44).

There after the gotrabhu-consciousness (45), having Nibbana as its object occurs, overcoming the lineage of the worldlings, and evolving the lineage of the Ariyas*.

  • The thought-process of a Stream-Winner: manodvaravajjana - parikamma - upacara - anuloma - gotrabhu - magga - phala - phala - bhavanga.

Immediately after that consciousness, the Path (of the Stream-Winner)*, realizing the Truth of suffering, eradicating the Truth of its cause, realizing the Truth of its cessation, and developing the Truth of the Way to its cessation, descends into the (supramundane) appana thought-process.

After that Path-consciousness two or three moments of Fruit-consciousness arise and subside into the life-continuum (46). Then, arresting the life-continuum, the knowledge of reflection occurs.

The wise man reflects (47) on the Path, Fruit, Nibbana, defilements destroyed, and either reflects or does not reflect on the remaining defilements.

Thus the fourfold Path which has to be developed by degrees by means of the sixfold purity is called the ‘Purity of Intuitive Knowledge’ (48).

Herein this is the section on Purity.

  • The thought-process of a Stream-Winner:

manodvarajjana - javana: parikamma - upacara - anuloma - gotrabhu -
magga - phala -phala -bhavanga

Page 116

Akasulamula-vaggo: 3 samyojanas, 5 views, 9 samyojanas, 98 anusayas, their details, scopes,
results, etc
Sakadagamin-vaggo: the germs of passion, etc., still left in the sakadagamins, 9 forms of
pahana-parinna, etc…
Vaggo on man: moral defi lements arising from views, those arising from practices, 4 fruits of
samanna, death and rebirth, regions having no rebirth, etc…