What is "paggahanimittaṃ"?

In Nimitta Sutta - AN 3.103 (A i 255)

“A monk intent on heightened mind should attend periodically to three themes: he should attend periodically to the theme of concentration; he should attend periodically to the theme of uplifted energy; he should attend periodically to the theme of equanimity.”

“Adhicittamanuyuttena, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā tīṇi nimittāni kālena kālaṃ manasi kātabbāni – kālena kālaṃ samādhinimittaṃ manasi kātabbaṃ, kālena kālaṃ paggahanimittaṃ manasi kātabbaṃ, kālena kālaṃ upekkhānimittaṃ manasi kātabbaṃ.”

What is “paggahanimittaṃ” (uplifted energy)? What practice I should apply for it?

Thank you for your advice.


PTS dictionary has:
Paggaha & Paggāha [fr. paggaṇhāti] 1. exertion, energy; (a) paggaha: D iii.213 (v. l. paggāha, also °nimitta); Ps ii.8 (°cariyā), 20 (°ṭṭha); DA i.63 (viriy — indriyassa °lakkhaṇa); 426 Paggaha & Paggāha Pacca°…”

“Nimitta” as “theme”(which gives away translation by Thanissaro?) here just ties each of the three things as the “three themes”.

Maybe the practical sense is along the lines of “persevere”, “keep trying”, or even “try harder” (as Pa Auk Sayadaw urges on his students), as in the famous last words of the Buddha.

(Where are the philologists here, who would probably have something to add?)

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I would suggest to use the ‘search’ function here & examine how the word is used in other suttas & texts, such as:

Na kāyappacālakaṃkāyappacālakaṃ antaraghare nisīditabbaṃ. Kāyaṃ paggahetvā nisīditabbaṃ. Yo anādariyaṃ paṭicca kāyappacālakaṃ antaraghare nisīdati kāyaṃ olambento, āpatti dukkaṭassa.

One should not go (sit down) amidst the houses swaying the body. One should go (sit down) holding the body straight. Whoever out of disrespect, the body swaying, goes (sits down) amidst the houses bending the body, there is an offence of wrong-doing.


Punapuna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, dubbhikkhaṃ hoti dussassaṃ dullabhapiṇḍaṃ, na sukaraṃ uñchena paggahena yāpetuṃ. Ayaṃ, bhikkhave, tatiyo asamayo padhānāya.

(3) “Again, there is a famine, a poor harvest, a time when almsfood is difficult to obtain and it is not easy to subsist by means of gleaning. This is the third unfavorable occasion for striving.

AN 5.54


Sakaṃ cittaṃ pasādetvā,
paggahetvāna añjaliṃ;
pakkamiṃ uttarāmukho.

Bījaniṃ paggahetvāna,
satthā lokagganāyako;
Bhikkhusaṃghe ṭhito santo,
imā gāthā abhāsatha.



Tasmātiha, moggallāna, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: ‘na uccāsoṇḍaṃ paggahetvā kulāni upasaṅka­mis­sāmī’tiupasaṅkamati. Evañhi te, moggallāna, sikkhitabbaṃ. Sace, moggallāna, bhikkhu uccāsoṇḍaṃ paggahetvā kulāni upasaṅkamati, santi hi, moggallāna, kulesu kic­cakara­ṇīyāni. Yehi manussā āgataṃ bhikkhuṃ na manasi karonti, tatra bhikkhussa evaṃ hoti: ‘kosu nāma idāni maṃ imasmiṃ kule paribhindi, virattarūpā dānime mayi manussā’ti. Itissa alābhena maṅkubhāvo, maṅkubhūtassa uddhaccaṃ, uddhatassa asaṃvaro, asaṃvutassa ārā cittaṃ samādhimhā

“Furthermore, Moggallana, should you train yourself: ‘I will not visit families with my pride lifted high.’ That is how you should train yourself. Among families there are many jobs that have to be done, so that people don’t pay attention to a visiting monk. If a monk visits them with his trunk lifted high, the thought will occur to him, ‘Now who, I wonder, has caused a split between me and this family? The people seem to have no liking for me.’ Getting nothing, he becomes abashed. Abashed, he becomes restless. Restless, he becomes unrestrained. Unrestrained, his mind is far from concentration.

AN 7.61


Thank you. I am confusing what practice we should effort in the second thing of this Sutta. Is it Vipassana? Because if we effort to keep mindfulness in breathes or something like that, it means we are practicing “samadhi”. However, Samadhi is in first thing of Sutta.

Can we understand that: practice “samadhi” - effort practice “Vipassana” - practice Upekkhā (equanimity)?

This sutta can be found at AN 3.102 on Sutta Central.

In the Pali suttas, there are three trainings (AN 3.89), namely:

The training in heightened virtue, the training in heightened mind, the training in heightened discernment (wisdom). AN 3.89

The whole of AN 3.102 is only about concentration or ‘heightened mind’ (adhicitta).

Therefore, AN 3.102 discusses three different qualities of heightened mind (adhicitta), namely:

  1. concentration (samā­dhi)

  2. uplifted energy (pagga­ha)

  3. equanimity (upekkhā).

‘Paggaha’ appears to mean to not let the mind get lazy, drowsy, slothful or ‘sink’ into the tranquillity of concentration. Often, when people develop concentration, their head starts to nod because the concentration is making their mind sleepy.

Therefore, ‘paggaha’ appears to mean to make the mind energetically alert, bright & awake.

AN 3.102 appears to be about ‘balancing’ the qualities of concentration. It states:

If the monk intent on heightened mind were to attend solely to the theme of concentration, it is possible that his mind would tend to laziness.

Therefore, ‘pagga­ha’ appears to be the opposite of laziness or drowsiness.

AN 3.102 provides a simile for balancing these three themes for heightened mind:

Just as if a goldsmith or goldsmith’s apprentice were to set up a smelter. Having set up the smelter, he would fire the receptacle. Having fired the receptacle, he would take hold of some gold with his tongs and place it in the receptacle. Periodically he would blow on it, periodically sprinkle it with water, periodically examine it closely. If he were solely to blow on it, it is possible that the gold would burn up. If he were solely to sprinkle it with water, it is possible that the gold would grow cold. If he were solely to examine it closely, it is possible that the gold would not come to full perfection. But when he periodically blows on it, periodically sprinkles it with water, periodically examines it closely, the gold becomes pliant, malleable, & luminous. It is not brittle, and is ready to be worked. Then whatever sort of ornament he has in mind—whether a belt, an earring, a necklace, or a gold chain—the gold would serve his purpose.

Therefore, the practise is ‘pagga­ha’ appears to be to not allow concentration to make the mind sleepy & foggy.

Kind regards


I provided the correct answer above. Instead of reciting Pa Auk Sayadaw, maybe we can read the actual sutta instead. That might save us lots of time.



Well, I believe Acariya Tan combines the two, namely AN 3.101 & AN 3.102.
Their thematic relation is obviously substantive.

Anywho, my offer stands, Monsieur Macie
Anicca, obviously. :spider: :smoking:

Possibly. But for the purpose of this forum, it is easy if people can click on the right link.

I was not criticising Teacher Tan but helping readers here find the sutta :seedling:

Understand. I do appreciate for your clearly advice. Thank you.

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[quote=“Ngoc, post:4, topic:5453, full:true”]…Can we understand that: practice “samadhi” - effort practice “Vipassana” - practice Upekkhā (equanimity)?

To address your basic question – what practice to apply in view of this quotation.

It seems the sutta discusses not the details, the how-to, of any specific practice (e.g. sila/virtue, samadhi/concentration, or panna /insight-wisdom), but rather the perspective of pacing and balancing effort in pursuing one’s whole practice – how to know when it’s best to actively increase effort, when to actively lessen it, and when to just stand back and observe for a while.

I would suggest seeking advice from someone skilled in guiding others along the way, like V. Sujato, Bramali, Dhammanando etc. here, or some teacher of that caliber you may have personal access to. It’s a matter relative to an individual at a particular stage of their practice.

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What do you think about “nimitta” here as meaning “cause”, rather than “sign”?

@Deeele provided an answer of an appropriate caliber. I think only someone that can provide answers of an appropriate caliber can judge whether another is of an appropriate caliber.

The Buddha said: “One stuck in the mud cannot pull another out of the mud” (MN 8). Similarly, someone stuck in the mud cannot judge teachers who are skilled or not in guiding others.

I think @Deeele’s answer was correct, skilled & of appropriate caliber. I think @Deele’s answer & benevolent efforts warrant gratitude (kataññu) & appreciation (mudita). The Buddha taught one should be grateful for the smallest gift (let alone larger gifts). :innocent:

No. It obviously does not mean this. @Deeele wisely & skilfully suggested to read the sutta rather than to always resort to & depend on “teachers” as though they a gods or our parents. The Buddha is the perfect teacher. The subject matter was explained clearly in the sutta, including with a simile.

Kind regards :buddha:

Someone heaping praise on themselves in the 3rd person is not something ya see everyday.


[quote=“Deeele, post:11, topic:5453”]
No. It obviously does not mean this. @Deeele wisely & skilfully suggested to read the sutta rather than to always resort to & depend on “teachers” as though they a gods or our parents.
[/quote]Did you mean to post this message from a different account? Or are you trying a new method of anattā bhāvanā where you refuse to say “I”?


How would you construe this passage (in the OP) with respect to the use, meaning of nimitta?

(Recalling your extensive comments on the use of this term back in DhammaWheel discussions.)