Lord Buddha said that we should practise Asubha sanna (perception of the non-beautiful). Does it mean that we have to let go Subha sanna (perception of the beautiful) completely ? Are there anything that is Subha in this world?

As I know, The world is a Asubha thing. We can not find any subha thing in this world at all. So anything that is not related to the world is Subha. Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha help us to get rid of this world. That means they are Subha things. The conclusion is that we shouldn't have any Subha sanna towards anything other than Triple jems. Am I right?


4 Answers 4


The word subhasaññānuvattinī occurs exactly once in the five Nikayas and it warns of a danger:

Thig5.3:1.1: Due to improper attention, I was racked by desire for pleasures of the senses. I was restless in the past, lacking control over my mind. Overcome by corruptions, pursuing perceptions of the beautiful, I gained no peace of mind. Under the sway of lustful thoughts, thin, pale, and wan, for seven years I wandered, full of pain,

Perceptions of the beautiful should not be confused with the third liberation:

AN8.66:3.1: Subhanteva adhimutto hoti.
AN8.66:3.1: They’re focused only on beauty.

The third liberation results from the heart's release by love.

SN46.54:12.9: The apex of the heart’s release by love is the beautiful, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

The heart's release by love is mettācetovimutti, it is not the heart's release by the perception of beauty.

So although the Triple Gem is certainly beautiful, we should have proper attention towards the Triple Gem instead of merely perceiving them as beautiful.

AN2.126:1.1: “There are two conditions for the arising of right view. What two? The words of another and proper attention.

  • I realise this is an old question, but would you happen to know why SN46 ceases at the dimension of nothingness?
    – user17652
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 8:14
  • 1
    @Nueromax, that's a great question probably not best answered in a comment on a post about beauty. I'd say that SN46.54 pertains to deep meditation and is limited by the scope of deep meditation. Deep meditation is conditioned. It has a beginning and it has an end. When it ends, MN121 may be useful: "They understand: ‘This field of perception is empty of the perception of the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance." There may be better answers
    – OyaMist
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 14:00

To seek refuge only in the Tripple Gems, good householder, is the quality starting with entering the stream of Dhamma, the quality possessed by those heading toward the Deathless.

Once this refuge has been gained, one can let go of the perception of attractiveness of all in the world of senses. But just to be sure, it isn't wise to let go before not having gained the haven, as it would just turn into desire for not-becoming, yet the path requires Bhava in a sense of gati, not agati.


[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other worldbinding trades, but for an escape from this wheel]


Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta, and Asubha Vs Nicca, Sukha, Atta, and Subha mainly intend for monks, not for laypeople. However, when you progress in the path you acquire these qualities gradually.

  • Morananussati has been praised for all by the Buddha, as well the reflecting of backwards in the world, good householder, and that there would be two different ways, that of lay and monks, is just a usually excusion. Truth, reason, decay and way is one. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 4:22

Subha sometimes is used in a kusala context. For example, in 8 vimokkhas, one of them is subha, and the commentaries explain subha there as: 1779 subha footnote from bodhi Subhant’eva adhimutto hoti. Mp: “By this what is shown are jhānas based on extremely purified color kasiṇas, such as blue, etc.” Mp points out that Paṭis, a canonical exegetical treatise, defines the emancipation on the beautiful as the four immeasurable states (loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity); see Paṭis II 39,14–26. It seems that the first emancipation comprises the first two bases of overcoming; the second, the second two bases of overcoming; and the third, the remaining four bases of overcoming.

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