Taught at Kammāsadamma in the Kuru country. The Buddha tells the monks that the one and only path leading to nibbāna is that of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. These, in brief, are the four ways of directing the mind to the impurities and the transience of the body and mind:
- the body (kāya) — physical structure and activities;
- feelings (vedanā) — the emotional nature, first as bare feeling, then as having ethical implications;
- thoughts (citta) — conscious life or intelligence, considered under ethical aspects;
- mental phenomena (dhamma) — arranged in sections as the five hindrances (nīvaraṇa), the five aggregates (khandhā), the six sense spheres (āyatana), the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhaṅga), and the Four Noble Truths (sacca). D.ii.290‑315.
The sutta is considered to be one of the most important in the Buddhist Canon. It has been translated into various languages, and several commentaries on it are in existence. Its mere recital is said to ward off dangers and to bring happiness, and it is the desire of every Buddhist that he shall die with the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta on his lips, or, at least, with the sound of it in his ears.
The contents of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta are also found in the Majjhimanikāya, divided into two separate discourses — the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta and the Saccavibhaṅga Sutta.