EBT definition of 'good at the outset, good in the middle, and good at the end'?

Hi, Does anyone know the meaning of “adi, majjhe, and pariyosana kalyana” in detail? I often read this word in the Sutta like this:

… So dhammaṃ deseti ādikalyāṇaṃ majjhekalyāṇaṃ pari­yosāna­kal­yāṇaṃ sātthaṃ sabyañjanaṃ, kevala­pari­puṇṇaṃ parisuddhaṃ brahmacariyaṃ pakāseti. …

… He teaches Dhamma that is good at the outset, good in the middle, and good at the end, with its correct meaning and wording, and he proclaims the holy life in its fulfilment and complete purity. …

But I didn’t find the meaning in detail except in commentary. Is anyone can help me find the meaning in detail in the Sutta, Vinaya, or other canons?

Many thanks… :anjal:


While I am a aware of an EBT definition of the expression, I speculate this was a figure of speech / idiom of ancient India.

Do the Pali terms work if these were to be used to describe it as a journey along a path?


I also think so, but I don’t want to conclude it too fast.

BTW thanks for changing the title. :slight_smile:

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I don’t think any explanation is given in the four Nikāyas, but there are two explanations that both predate and differ from those given in the Visuddhimagga and Atthakathā.

One is in the Ānāpāna chapter of the Paṭisambhidāmagga where the qualities are applied narrowly to the attainment of the jhānas. It’s too long to quote, but it starts on page 169 of Ñāṇamoli’s translation.

The other is in the Nettippakaraṇa:

Tattha bhagavā akkharehi saṅkāseti, padehi pakāseti, byañjanehi vivarati, ākārehi vibhajati, niruttīhi uttānīkaroti, niddesehi paññapeti.
Tattha bhagavā akkharehi ca padehi ca ugghaṭeti, byañjanehi ca ākārehi ca vipañcayati, niruttīhi ca niddesehi ca vitthāreti.
Tattha ugghaṭanā ādi, vipañcanā majjhe, vitthāraṇā pariyosānaṃ.
Soyaṃ dhammavinayo ugghaṭīyanto ugghaṭitaññūpuggalaṃ vineti, tena naṃ āhu “ādikalyāṇo” ti. Vipañcīyanto vipañcitaññūpuggalaṃ vineti, tena naṃ āhu “majjhekalyāṇo” ti. Vitthārīyanto neyyaṃ puggalaṃ vineti, tena naṃ āhu “pariyosānakalyāṇo” ti.

Herein, the Blessed One explains by letters, displays by terms, divulges by phrases, analyses by moods, exhibits by linguistics, and describes by demonstrations.
Herein, the Blessed One condenses by letters and terms, he expands by phrases and moods, he details by linguistics and demonstrations.
Herein, condensing is the beginning, expanding is the middle, and detailing is the end.
This Dhamma and Vinaya, when it is condensed, guides out (disciplines) the [type of] person who gains knowledge by what is condensed; hence ‘good in the beginning’ is said. When expanded it guides out (disciplines) the [type of] person who gains knowledge by what is expanded; hence ‘good in the middle’ is said. When detailed it guides out (disciplines) the [type of] person who is guidable; hence ‘good in the end’ is said.
(Netti 9; The Guide p. 19)


Kind of like the elements of a good essay?

Many thanks, Bhante… :anjal: Maybe I’ll read Patisambhidamagga later. I don’t have that book, but I know the book is in the library. :grin: