I'm looking for a sutta in which the Buddha is recalling past lives, including, I believe, lives as the great Brahma, and asks himself on account of what actions he ascended to a position of such great power; he investigates and answers that it was because of three things. I remember two--abstention and giving--but can't remember the third. If anyone knows what passage I am talking about it would be much appreciated.

  • i remember it.. i will look it up for you but maybe someone can help faster.. On this occasion, Buddha looked back 91 aeons and saw during that during that period he had never fell into anything unfortunate.. i recall 3 things at the end of this sutta, Dana (giving), Dhabba (spell check me- self controlled when hit by sensual desires , and indriya samvara - sila or control of faculties.
    – user5056
    Jul 5, 2016 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


The 3 qualities:

  • dānassa giving
  • damassa self-control (or desires can't control you)
  • saññamassā'ti restraint (have control over your faculties)

§ 22. {Iti 1.22; Iti 14}

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "Monks, don't be afraid of acts of merit. This is another way of saying what is blissful, desirable, pleasing, endearing, charming — i.e., acts of merit. I am cognizant that, having long performed meritorious deeds, I long experienced desirable, pleasing, endearing, charming results. Having developed a mind of good will for seven years, then for seven aeons of contraction & expansion I didn't return to this world. Whenever the aeon was contracting, I went to the realm of Streaming Radiance. Whenever the aeon was expanding, I reappeared in an empty Brahma-abode. There I was the Great Brahman, the Unconquered Conqueror, All-seeing, & Wielder of Power. Then for thirty-six times I was Sakka, ruler of the gods. For many hundreds of times I was a king, a wheel-turning emperor, a righteous king of Dhamma, conqueror of the four corners of the earth, maintaining stable control over the countryside, endowed with the seven treasures[1] — to say nothing of the times I was a local king. The thought occurred to me: 'Of what action of mine is this the fruit, of what action the result, that I now have such great power & might?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'This is the fruit of my three [types of] action, the result of three types of action, that I now have such great power & might: i.e., giving, self-control, & restraint.'"

Train in acts of merit
that bring long-lasting bliss —
develop giving,
a life in tune,
a mind of good-will.
Developing these
three things
that bring about bliss,
the wise reappear
in a world of bliss

  • Dean, Thank you!
    – Adamokkha
    Jul 5, 2016 at 17:00
  • yup. i remember because self-control, and restraint were just too similar to me and required quite a few readings to put them together from many sutta. I have to say- my own conclusion-, anapanasati covers both self-control and restraint. example in many sutta, when one is touched by an object of sensuality, he quickly discards it, goes back to breathing, and equanimity remains. that's self-control or unmovable by sensualities. Another sutta, anapanasati is a rope that ties 5 animals (5 faculties) to a strong post. That sutta explains the benefit of controlling of 5 faculties.
    – user5056
    Jul 5, 2016 at 20:08
  • MN 1 is also useful, which equates the above-mentioned godly states to various jhanas. That said, it is difficult to believe the Buddha would teach the above worldly drivel to bhikkhus, as though those bhikkhus would aspire to be Brahma (who is considered to be deluded in many suttas). Its easy to speculate the reason why Sunnata-Buddhism became instinct in India; Jul 5, 2016 at 21:44
  • MN 1 is also useful, which equates the above-mentioned godly states with various jhanas. Jul 5, 2016 at 21:51

In Sutta Nipāta - Māgha Sutta - 3.5. To Māgha on Giving

Who can be cleansed, released and Awakened? With what does the self to the Brahma-world go? O Sage, when asked reply to me—one who doesn’t know— for the Radiant I’ve seen with my eyes as Brahmā today and it’s true that you’re the same as Brahmā for us. In the Brahma-world, how does one arise, O Refulgent One?

The sacrificiant who achieves triple success in sacrifice, achieves their results through such gift-worthy ones; so perfected in sacrifice and complying with others’ requests, that one arises, I say, within the Brahma-world.

  • Thank you for your answer but this isn't what I was looking for.
    – Adamokkha
    Jul 4, 2016 at 17:55

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