Commentary on Sabbasava Sutta?

Hi ! 7 Months ago I started practising some instructions of Sabbasava Sutta. It really helped me. It says that a noble disciple attends to thoughts which are fit for attention and does not attend to those thoughts which are unfit for attention. However, I started letting go of thoughts. I didn’t hold on to any thought for 2 days and it produced in me subtle peace. As soon any thought came, I started letting go of it. However, now I am not able to let go of any thoughts. My mind keeps holding onto it. Don’t know why.

Is there a commentary on Sabbasava Sutta which can guide me to let go of thoughts? I just can’t convert it into action although I know how it’s done. Thanks.

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Hi Abinav :slight_smile:

Could you please give a reference for the Sabbasava sutta, I tried looking it up on SC and didn’t get any results.

Also I’ve moved your topic to discussion, as it is not a single answer/solution you seek, but something that will generate discussion,

May your practice flourish :pray::slightly_smiling_face:


The Sabbasava sutta (MN 2) on appropriate attention doesn’t mean letting go of all thoughts, it is more selective than that, it means letting go of sense impressions or thoughts that are unfit for attention, and holding onto those sense impressions and thoughts that are fit for attention. There are seven methods, six strategies for abandoning and one for developing. The specific fermentations to be abandoned by each strategy and the factors to be developed are described in the sutta. Abandoning and developing is the basic means of progress along the path, and the same process is found in right effort and also under the fourth foundation of mindfulness (MN 10), so it is the fundamental means of transformation in the path.

MN2 should be studied in conjunction with SN 46.51 as it gives insight into the simple psychological working of abandoning and developing.

An overview of the process under the heading of the path factor of right effort:

The strategies in MN 2 are based on the momentary act of attention (manasikara), which is a factor in all states of consciousness and it is the mind’s first encounter with the object. Whether it is appropriate or inappropriate attention is a choice to be made at that encounter, so mindfulness of what is presenting before the mind is necessary. Everything that we do involves a decision that can be towards appropriate or inappropriate attention. In this way experience can be used to lead either towards suffering, or towards freedom from suffering.


You might be interested in reading Piya Tan’s analysis of the Sabbasava Sutta, although it is more academic than practical.


I trust MN20 will help:

The relevance of this sutta is that in between lines it’s telling that , at least for the one who eventually became the Buddha, the path to stilling and stopping thoughts is the very cultivation of the threefold right thought factor of the path.



Hello @Viveka,

The SC search seems to be working correctly. The problem is that the word “Sabbasava” only occurs in MN 2 at the beginning of a compound: “Sabbāsavasutta” in the title, and “sabbāsavasaṃvarapariyāyaṃ” and "sabbāsavasaṃvarasaṃvuto"in the body. Therefore the Sutta is not found when one searches simply for “sabbasava”. Searching for “sabbsavasutta” (no space) works.

I hope this helps.



@JDavid Thank you so much, that is very kind of you :smiley:

with much appreciation and metta :sunflower:

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I have two modern commentaries on it:

  1. By Bhante Yuttadhammo: listen here
  2. By Bhikkhu Bodhi: Lectures one, two, three and four

There is also a whole book written by Ven Buddharakkhita (of the Dhammapada fame) called Mind Overcoming its Cankers. but I don’t believe it is on-line. Here is part. And here is the whole thing.

Until search is improved, we’re all better off just using Google. If you put this into Google search: sabbasava

it will be the first result


So why not assimilate the Google search engine on Suttacentral? Just like ATI does.

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Video in 6 parts of Bikkhu Bodhi discussing the Sabbasava sutta:

(Part 1 begins in proper at about 21m due to problems with the sound system.) A description of how the asavas are the driving force of the wheel of samsara, and how the wheel is kept turning by the moment to moment decisions of unwise attention, or the wheel is disempowered by wise attention.

States that there are no things that are exclusively fit for attention, and no things that are exclusively unfit for attention. The difference consists in the way one attends to them. So we could take the same things that are normally unfit for attention, and if we apply to them wise attention, then they become a basis for the positive development of the mind. A practical example follows.

Part 3 deals with questions of the self, followed by a good Q&A session.

Part 4 is a repeat of Part 3


My experience with the search on Sutta Central usually requires an exact match. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what to enter, so I’ve gotten into the habit of using Google first then going to Sutta Central.


Thank you very much for posting these audio files. I am just now beginning to listen to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s lecture #1, and it is already very helpful. I am hoping to gain an understanding of kamatanha and kamasava, bhavatanha and bhavasava how they are different from one another.
My gratitude for your offering, again.
Renton, WA USA