Four right exertions

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Thirty-seven factors of enlightenment
Sets of factors
1-4: Four foundations of mindfulness
5-8: Four right exertions
9-12: Four bases of miraculous power
13-17: Five spiritual faculties
18-22: Five powers
23-29: Seven aspects of enlightenment
29-35: Eightfold path
Related topics

The Four Right Exertions (Pali: sammappadhāna; Skt.: samyak-pradhāna or samyakprahāṇa) are one of the seven sets of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment.

The presentation of these exertions varies slightly between the Pali and Sanskrit traditions.

Pali tradition

In the Pali tradition, the four right efforts (sammappadhāna) are identified as:[1]

(1) the effort to discard evil states that have arisen,
(2) the effort to prevent the arising of unarisen evil states,
(3) the effort to develop unarisen wholesome states,
(4) the effort to augment arisen wholesome states.

According to the Pali Abhidharma literature, the four right exertions are identical with "right effort" (sammā-vāyāma) of the Noble Eightfold Path.[1]

Sanskrit tradition

In the Sanskrit tradition, the four right efforts are commonly known as the four genuine restraints (Skt. catvāri samyakprahāṇāni; Tib. ཡང་དག་པར་སྤོང་བ་བཞི་, Wyl. yang dag par spong ba bzhi) or four genuine abandonments . They are indentifed as:

  1. to avoid generating any negative states that have not arisen (Tib. མི་དགེ་བ་མ་སྐྱེས་པ་མི་བསྐྱེད་པ་, Wyl. mi dge ba ma skyes pa mi bskyed pa)
  2. to abandon negative states that have arisen (Tib. མི་དགེ་བ་སྐྱེས་པ་སྤོངས་བ་, Wyl. mi dge ba skyes pa spongs ba)
  3. to generate virtuous states that have not arisen (Tib. དགེ་བ་མ་སྐྱེས་པ་བསྐྱེད་པ་, Wyl. dge ba ma skyes pa bskyed pa)
  4. not to allow any virtuous states that have arisen to deteriorate and to develop them further (Tib. དགེ་བ་སྐྱེས་པ་སྤེལ་བ་, Wyl. dge ba skyes pa spel ba)

The Sutra of the Ten Bhumis says:

"To avoid generating unvirtuous dharmas that have not arisen, one develops the intention, one applies effort, one is diligent, and one takes hold of the mind and settles it correctly. It is the same in order to abandon unvirtuous dharmas that have arisen, and in order to generate virtuous dharmas that have not arisen. In order to maintain whatever virtuous dharmas have arisen without allowing them to deteriorate, to expand them, to develop them further and to bring them to completion, one develops the intention, applies effort and so on."
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Alternate translations

Also known as:

  • Four Right Efforts (Buswell)
  • Four Supreme Efforts (Bodhi)
  • Four Great Efforts
  • Four types of diligence (Dharmachakra)
  • Four Right Exertions
  • Four Proper Exertions
  • Four Right Endeavors
  • Four Right Strivings

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bikkhu Bodhi: 2012, Chapter 7


  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2012), A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha. Pariyatti Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
  • Buddhaghosa, Bhadantacariya & Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli (trans.) (1999). The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.
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