Four genuine restraints

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Four genuine restraints (Skt. catvāri samyakprahāṇāni; Tib. ཡང་དག་པར་སྤོང་བ་བཞི་, yangdakpar pongwa shyi, Wyl. yang dag par spong ba bzhi) — the second group of practices in the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment, practised at the middle level of the path of accumulation. They are:

  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."

Alternative Translations

  • Four proper efforts[1] (Andy Rotman)
  • true restraint (Dharma Publishing)
  • Four perfect endeavours (84000/David Jackson)


  1. "Although samyakprahāṇāni is more literally "proper abandonings," the exegetical traditions in Buddhist Sanskrit, as in Pāli, understand these to be proper efforts (samyakpradhānāni)." Andy Rotman, Divine Stories Part 1, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2008, p. 452