The three levels of attha

Hi there, I am trying to figure out the source of a certain concept:

Conducting one’s life so as to attain the three levels of attha, the benefits that are the objectives of life:

  • First level: the temporal objective or present benefit (ditthadham-mikattha)
  • Second level: the spiritual objective or further benefit (samparayikattha)
  • Third level: the highest objective or greatest benefit (paramattha)

Any ideas? I have not been able to find a canonical source.


“In the Buddha’s Words” by Bikkhu Bodhi addresses these three divisions with multiple sutta references, while the concept is commentarial:

"The Pali commentaries demonstrate the broad scope of the
Dhamma by distinguishing three types of benefit that the Buddha’s
teaching is intended to promote, graded hierarchically according to
their relative merit:

  1. welfare and happiness directly visible in this present life (dittha-dhamma-hitasukha), attained by fulfilling one’s moral commitments
    and social responsibilities;
  2. welfare and happiness pertaining to the next life (samparayika-hitasukha), attained by engaging in meritorious deeds;
  3. the ultimate good or supreme goal (paramattha), Nibbana, final
    release from the cycle of rebirths, attained by developing the
    Noble Eightfold Path.
    While many Western writers on Early Buddhism have focused on
    this last aspect as almost exclusively representing the Buddha’s original teaching, a balanced presentation should give consideration to all
    three aspects. Therefore, in this chapter and those to follow, we will be
    exploring texts from the Nikayas that illustrate each of these three
    facets of the Dhamma."

True. Thanks.

Aren’t all these covers directly or indirectly in DN 1?

The three atthas are separately of frequent occurrence in the EBTs, but it’s not until the KN’s Niddesa that they get combined into a threefold scheme for classifying different levels of teaching.

      1. in terms of what takes priority.