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Bhikkhu Pesala

An Exposition of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta

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Contents

Foreword

An Exposition of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta

Introduction

Body Contemplation: Mindfulness of Breathing Section

Body Contemplation: Four Postures Section

Body Contemplation: Clear Comprehension Section

Body Contemplation: Attention to Repulsiveness Section

Body Contemplation: Attention to the Elements Section

Body Contemplation: Nine Cemetery Objects Section

Contemplation of Feelings

Contemplation of Thoughts

Contemplation of Mental-objects: Hindrances Section

Contemplation of Mental-objects: Aggregates Section

Contemplation of Mental-objects: Sense Faculties Section

Contemplation of Mental-objects: Enlightenment Factors ­Section

Contemplation of Mental-objects: The Truths Section

The Exposition of the Truth of Suffering

The Exposition of the Truth of the Cause

The Exposition of the Truth of Cessation

The Exposition of the Truth of the Path

#SatipatthanaSuttaForeword

The translation is based partly on that by published the Burma Piṭaka Association, which often refers to the Commentary for clarification of the meaning. I have done my best to make it easy to read and understand rather than striving for literal accuracy.

My own comments on the translation use indentation and colour to distinguish them from the translation. I have added footnote references and hyperlinks for further study. Footnote references to the Pāḷi texts refer to the Roman script edition of the Pali Text Society — in the translations these page numbers are given near the spine or in the body of the text like this: [290], which is where the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta begins (D.ii.290).

A modern translation of the Dīghanikāya by Maurice Walsh is available from Wisdom Books. Other translations by Soma Thera, Ñāṇasatta Thera, and Thanissaro Bhikkhu can be found on the Access to Insight website.

I have adopted the paragraph numbering used by the Pāḷi text of the CSCD Tipiṭaka so that those who know some Pāḷi can easily find the relevant passage referred to in the translation or in my comments. The subheadings in italics are my translations of the section headings found in the CSCD edition. To study the Pāḷi texts, I recommend downloading the CST4 program.

In several places I have added the Pāḷi term in parenthesis. An index serves as a glossary of Pāḷi terms used in the translation.

The entire Pāḷi text is included for the benefit of those who know Pāḷi, or who want to learn it. Reading famous discourses side-by-side with a translation is the most enjoyable way to learn and familiarise oneself with sentence structure. It is no substitute for studying Pāḷi grammar, but it is a good way to start learning for those (like me) who find linguistic studies too daunting. At least, you will build up your vocabulary of common Pāḷi words and stock phrases, which are used frequently throughout the Tipiṭaka.

This first draft will, no doubt, have many imperfections. Nevertheless, I hope it will encourage readers to study this important discourse. All those who gained realisation in the Buddha’s time by listening to a long discourse like this one, or just a single verse, had well-developed perfections as a result of practising meditation in a previous life. In the case of those monks who realised Arahantship at the end of this discourse, they had already been practising meditation before attending the teaching of this discourse. If a meal is precooked, it only needs a few minutes to reheat in a microwave oven. Otherwise, you have to spend many hours to obtain and prepare the ingredients and cook them, to prepare a delicious meal.

Bhikkhu Pesala
October 2016

#Introduction#IntroductionAn Exposition of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta

There are two versions of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta — the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta of the Dīghanikāya, and the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta of the Majjhimanikāya. The CSCD Tipiṭaka text of both versions is identical, but in other editions, the section on the Four Noble Truths found in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta is not expanded fully in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. Below, I give the translation of the longer version.

Satipaṭṭhāna Suttaṃ

372. Evaṃ me sutaṃ — ekaṃ samayaṃ Bhagavā kurūsu viharati kammāsadhammaṃ nāma kurūnaṃ nigamo. Tatra kho Bhagavā bhikkhū āmantesi — “Bhikkhavo”ti. “Bhaddante”ti te bhikkhū Bhagavato paccassosuṃ. Bhagavā etadavoca —

“Thus have I heard — at one time the Blessed One was dwelling among the Kurū people, at Kammāsadhamma, a market town of the Kurū people. There the Blessed One addressed the monks — “Monks!” “Venerable sir,” those monks replied to the Blessed One. Then the Blessed One said:–

At the First Buddhist Council, when Mahākassapa questioned the Venerable Ānanda about this discourse, the Venerable Ānanda replied, “Thus have I heard,” and first gave the details of where it was given, and to whom.

The discourse was given when the Blessed One was dwelling among the Kurū people near the market town of Kammāsadhamma. It should be inferred that the Blessed One was dwelling near the market town, as the monks did not usually stay in built up areas, but in forest groves, cemeteries, or parks on the outskirts. The Jetavana monastery donated to the Saṅgha by Anāthapiṇḍika, for example, was formerly a royal pleasure park belonging to prince Jeta. The text doesn’t actually say where the discourse was given, but simply states that Kammāsadhamma was a market town of the Kurū people. The rest has to be inferred.

The Uddesa, or introduction to the discourse was given by the Blessed One himself, after getting the attention of the assembled monks.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#BodyContemplationMindfulnessofBreathingSectionUddeso

Introduction

373. “Ekāyano ayaṃ, bhikkhave, maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā, soka­paridevānaṃ samatikkamāya dukkhadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamāya ñāyassa adhigamāya nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya, yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā.

“This is the only way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the transcendence of grief and lamentation, for the extinguishing of pain and sorrow, for attaining the right method, for the realisation of nibbāna, that is to say the four foundations of mindfulness.”

“Ekāyano,” is variously translated as “One way” (Maurice Walshe), “The direct path” (Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ajahn Thanissaro), “The one and only way,” (Burma Piṭaka Association), “This is the only way,” (Soma Thera and Nyanasatta Thera). The latter is also the translation in Mahāsi Abroad: Mindfulness — The Only Way, where it says:–

“Ekāyana” means “The Only Way” — there is no other way, no alternative. If you walk straight on along the only road, you will not go astray, as there is no junction, you are sure to reach your destination. Similarly, since Satipaṭṭhāna is the only way, if you continue training yourself in mindful­ness, you will ultimately attain Arahantship, the noble state of complete purity from all defilements.”

The essential meaning, then, is that the Satipaṭṭhāna method is right-mindfulness (sammā-sati) as a factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, and it is this path that is rightly referred to as the only way or the direct way with no junctions or cul-de-sacs. There is no attaining of the right method for one who is unmindful, but for one who practices properly, reaching the destination is guaranteed, and this guarantee is given by the Buddha himself at the end of the discourse.

“Sattānaṃ visuddhiyā,” means “For the purification of living-beings.” However, it should be noted that not all living-beings can follow this path. Animals, Hungry Ghosts, and those in the hell realms are not able to cultivate right-mindfulness. Primarily, it refers to human beings. Although the Buddha was speaking to the monks, many lay people were also present, and no doubt many beings from the celestial realms also came to listen. All such living beings who are not Arahants have minds that are defiled to a greater or less extent by greed, ill-will, and delusion. They are able to remove these mental defilements, and purify their minds by following this path to the end. The farther along the path that they proceed, the more their minds get purified, until the culmination of the path when all defilements are completely and permanently eradicated by the path of Arahantship.

“Sokaparidevānaṃ samatikkamāya” means “For the transcendence of grief and lamentation. Other translators give the translation of soka as “sorrow,” but as will be seen later in the explanation of the four noble truths, soka is much more severe than mere sadness or sorrow as opposed to happiness. It burns and consume the mind like a fire. The PTS dictionary says that it is derived from Skt śoka which means burning grief. When people are afflicted with severe loss, such as the death of a parent, child, or spouse, they are not just sad, but grieve and lament, as they feel immense physical and mental pain. Parideva means lamentation, wailing, crying, weeping, and sobbing. The word samatikkamāya is derived from atikammati = to cross, to go beyond, and the prefix saṃ emphasises completion or perfection. The meaning is therefore “To go completely beyond,” or “To transcend.” One who cultivates this path fully is not only able to suppress their grief, but is able to abandon it entirely.

“Dukkhadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamāya,” means to extinguish pain and sorrow. Here, dukkha means simply physical pain, while domanassa is mental pain or sorrow. The expression “Suriye atthaṅgama,” means the setting of the sun. In hot countries like Bihar where the Buddha mostly taught, the sun is extremely hot and oppressive from early morning to late evening. When it finally falls down to the horizon and sets the burning finally ceases. Physical pain is extremely oppressive, and when it ceases one feels great relief. The mental pain of sorrow, too, is very difficult to bear. The mind feels heavy and unresponsive. Although one wishes only to be happy, sad thoughts pervade the mind and if dwelt upon, only lead to greater despair. When sorrow is replaced by happiness, the mind is again buoyant and optimistic.

“Ñāyassa adhigamāya,” means to attain the right method. When learning any skill, such as driving at first it seems very difficult as there is so much to remember. However, gradually one acquires the necessary knowledge and experience, and one succeeds. Learning to be mindful constantly, throughout the entire day, without the mind wandering here and there, is also very difficult. When Satipaṭṭhāna meditation is taught, the instructor should give only a few basic exercises at first, for example to be mindful of the body postures, breathing, or the abdominal movements. Only later, when the student has mastered that skill to some degree, should more instructions be given to be mindful of feelings, thoughts, and mental states. It will probably take many weeks or months of constant training for the meditator to gain mastery over the mind, and learn to keep it focused on objects arising and passing away in the present moment.

“Nibbānassa sacchikiryāya,” means for the realisation of nibbāna. Only after prolonged and sustained effort can the meditator develop sufficient concentration and insight to pass through the highest stages of insight knowledge and realise nibbāna. That goal can only be realised if the method is thoroughly mastered, then the meditator becomes a Stream-winner who is guaranteed to put an end to all suffering in due course.

“Yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā,” means “That is to say the four foundations of mindfulness.” Sati means mindfulness, upaṭṭhāna means to set up or establish and make firm. In the beginning of the practice, mindfulness is intermittent and unstable., but gradually awareness develops, more objects are noted clearly as they arise and pass away, and mindfulness remains steady in the present moment.

“Katame cattāro? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, citte cittānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ.

“What four? Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having overcome covetousness and sorrow concerning the world; he dwell contemplating feelings in feelings, … he dwells contemplating thoughts in thoughts … he dwells contemplating mental objects in mental objects ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and sorrow concerning the world.”

“Bhikkhave” here means not only monks, but any meditator who sees danger in saṃsāra. Whenever the monks were present in the congregation, unless he was replying to a particular individual, the Buddha would address them as “bhikkhave,” O monks. If nuns (bhikkhuṇī), male lay disciples (upāsaka), and female lay disciples (upāsikā) were also present, it is to be understood that he was also speaking to them too. Likewise, by saying that a monk (bhikkhu) dwells contemplating the body in the body, he also meant any meditator should do the same.

“Kāye kāyānupassī viharati“ means that one dwells contemplating the body in the body,” means that the meditator is mindful of material phenomena within his or her own body.

“Ātāpī” means ardently and enthusiastically. As it says in the Dhammapada, verse 144, “Like a thorough-bred horse touched by the whip, even so be strenuous (ātapino) and zealous (saṃvego).” The right-effort of the Middle Path, which avoids the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification, does not mean a medium effort, or a half-hearted effort, it means a strenuous, persistent, and courageous effort that grows from minute to minute like a forest fire that burns more and more trees and brushwood, the ardent meditator’s mind consumes more and more mental defilements (kilesā) at once whenever they arise.

“Sampajāno” means clearly comprehending and accompanied by knowledge, i.e. that the purpose of observing the meditation object is to understand it’s true nature. Painful sensations and negative emotions arising because of them should be contemplated objectively to realise that they are impermanent, and arise dependent upon conditions. They do not obey one’s wish, and painful feelings are also obviously suffering and unsatisfactory.

“Satimā” means mindfully. The term sati means both mindfulness, and memory or recollection. The object to be contemplated arises first, immediately followed by awareness of it. There is only a material process as the object, and a mental process of knowing it. Apart from those two, there is no person or being who knows.

“Vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ” means having abandoned covetousness (abhijjhā) and sorrow (domanassaṃ) concerning the world (loke). It is vital that a meditator strives with serious intent and commitment to attaining insight. As long as any clinging to the world such as property, relatives, etc., remains they will obstruct the meditator’s progress. That is why it is strongly recommended to leave one’s usual residence and attend a retreat for a sustained period of at least a few weeks, and preferably longer. It may take at least three or four days before the meditator stops thinking about household affairs (or, if a monk or nun, to stop thinking about monastic duties). Then as the retreat comes to an end, during the last day or two, worldly thoughts and plans may arise again as the meditator plans to return home.

“Vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati” means that one dwells contemplating feelings in feelings. There are five kinds of feelings to be contemplated: painful, pleasant, sorrowful, happy, and neutral feelings. It is important that all feelings are faced with equanimity, and as above contemplated ardently, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having abandoned covetousness and grief concerning the world.

“Citte cittānupassī viharati” means that one dwells contemplating thoughts (citta) in the same way. When contact between the five sense-bases and the five sense-objects occurs, feelings of liking, disliking, or indifference arise. Then the mind-door reacts to these sense experiences and thoughts arise regarding them. Memories of sense-objects enjoyed before, or anticipation of those that one plans to enjoy in the future may also arise and stimulate further thoughts. Bad memories or fears regarding unpleasant sense-objects may also arise, giving rise to thoughts with fear, aversion, or worry. All such thoughts should be contemplated whenever they occur.

“Dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati” means that one dwells contemplating mental objects whenever they occur. The scope of mental-objects is extremely broad, and is treated in detail later. It suffices to say here that all such mental-objects should be contemplated whenever they occur, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having abandoned covetousness and grief concerning the world.

The Pāḷi text of this short section should be memorised and could be recited to arouse confidence and enthusiasm before taking up the practice of mindfulness meditation.

Uddeso Niṭṭhito.

The introduction is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#BodyContemplationFourPosturesSectionKāyānupassanā Ānāpānapabbaṃ

Body Contemplation: Mindfulness of Breathing Section

374. “Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu araññagato vā rukkhamūlagato vā suññāgāragato vā nisīdati pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā. So satova assasati, satova passasati. Dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘Dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, dīghaṃ vā passasanto ‘Dīghaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti. Rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘Rassaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, rassaṃ vā passasanto ‘Rassaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti. ‘Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati. ‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati.

“How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating the body in the body? Here, monks a monk, having gone to a forest, to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, having sat down cross-legged, and sitting erect, he establishes mindfulness in front of his face. He breathes in mindfully, he breathes out mindfully. When breathing in a long breath he knows, ‘I breathe in a long breath.’ When breathing in a short breath he knows, ‘I breathe in a short breath.’ When breathing out a long breath he knows, ‘I breathe out a long breath.’ When breathing out a short breath he knows, ‘I breathe out a short breath.’ ‘Experiencing the entire breath I will breathe in,’ he trains himself. ‘Experiencing the entire breath I will breathe out,’ he trains himself. ‘Calming the bodily formations I will breath in,’ he trains himself. ‘Calming the bodily formations I will breath out,’ he trains himself.”

“Araññagato vā rukkhamūlagato vā suññāgāragato vā” means that one should go to a quiet place where one will not be disturbed by people or by noise. To establish concentration is no easy task. A beginner in meditation practice is easily distracted. Meditation centres may be full of people, but they are instructed not to speak unless absolutely necessary, and to move about slowly and mindfully with due consideration for others who are developing concentration. If one is brave enough to retreat to the forest or an empty place such as a cave or a cemetery there are significant benefits to be gained to being away from other people and in the open air or a natural environment, where there may be genuine dangers from wild animals, snakes, poisonous insects, and so forth. It will definitely focus one’s attention with a sense of urgency. One should, of course, not recklessly put oneself in danger if one lacks any kind of knowledge or experience or survival training. A teacher should be sought who can guide you in this kind of ascetic practice.

“Nisīdati pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā” means that one sits cross-legged. Only if one is elderly or disabled should one use a chair or other kind of support. A fit and healthy young or middle-aged person who is unaccustomed to sitting cross-legged for long periods should gradually acquire the necessary skill. It is unnecessary to adopt the full-lotus posture that one sees in many Buddha images, with each foot placed on the opposite thigh, or in half-lotus with one foot on the ground and the other on the opposite thigh. One can adopt the comfortable “Burmese” posture with both legs on the ground, and one in front of the other. The cross-legged posture is the best for sitting for long periods without discomfort. After prolonged practice you should find that you can sustain the same posture without moving for at least one or two hours, if not longer. One should not sit with the feet straight out in front. Not only is it uncomfortable to sustain for long, it is also regarded as disrespectful to point one’s feet towards the Buddha image, or a teacher. You may use whatever cushions you need to raise the lower back or to support the knees so that you can sustain a good posture for a long time.

“Ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya” means that one should sit up straight. A healthy person should not need to lean against a wall for support. At first, one may find it difficult not to slouch, but as mindfulness and concentration develop, it becomes easier to sit straight. If the body is erect and in a comfortable posture, it will be natural to breathe from the diaphragm rather than from the chest. The breathing will become slow and deep, getting the maximum amount of oxygen into the lungs, without any special effort.

“Parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā” means to establish mindfulness in front, or literally in front of one’s face.

“So satova assasati, satova passasati” means that one breathes in and out mindfully. All translation of the Sutta that I looked at have assasati as breathe in, and passasati as breathe out, which is the opposite of the Pali Text Society dictionary. Maurice Walshe notes that the order should possibly be reversed. It does not matter which you noticed first. If you breathe in, you will soon have to breathe out, and vice versa. In calming the breath, which comes later, it seems more natural to breathe in, then to relax and out.

“Dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘Dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti,” means that one knows a long in-breath and “Rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘Rassaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti,” means that one knows a short in-breath. Likewise with long and short out-breaths, one knows them as long or short as appropriate. There should be no attempt to control the breath as if doing yoga. One should simply relax and breath naturally, observing each breath, however as it occurs.

‘Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati,” means that he trains himself to be clearly conscious of the whole stretch of the in-coming breath at its beginning, its middle, and at its end. ‘Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati,” means that he trains himself to be clearly conscious of the whole stretch of the out-going breath at its beginning, its middle, and at its end. This meaning comes from the Commentary. Bhikkhu Bodhi notes that he thinks it should mean experiencing the entire body. I disagree as to do so would distract attention from the breath itself to sensations elsewhere in the body, such as the expansion and contraction of the lungs, or the movements of the diaphragm or abdomen.

In my opinion, attention should be sustained at the nostrils where the breath enters, neither following it down into the chest or abdomen, nor back up through the wind-pipe. Follow the simile of the carpenter who, when cutting wood, is aware that the blade of the saw is moving back and forth, but he fixes his attention only at the point where the teeth are cutting the wood so that he can follow a line drawn on the wood in order to cut it accurately. Likewise, remain aware that the breath is coming in and going out, but focus attention just where the breath touches the nostrils of the upper lip, (or the mouth if your nose is blocked due to a severe cold). Keeping the attention in one place will aid in developing concentration.

‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, means to breath in while calming the bodily formations, i.e. the breathing while breathing in, and ‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati, means to breath out while calming the bodily formations, i.e. the breathing while breathing out. Here, some conscious control is made to relax and breath more slowly and deeply. However, it is important not to do so forcefully or one will very quickly become fatigued or may become hyper-ventilated. It may help to take just one extra deep in-breath, before relaxing with an extra long out-breath, but then one should continue breathing normally. If the mind becomes concentrated, the breathing will slow naturally, and if the mind becomes excited, the breath will quicken. Let nature take its own course with no more than gentle guidance in the right direction.

“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, dakkho bhamakāro vā bhamakārantevāsī vā dīghaṃ vā añchanto ‘Dīghaṃ añchāmī’ti pajānāti, rassaṃ vā añchanto ‘Rassaṃ añchāmī’ti pajānāti evameva kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘Dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, dīghaṃ vā passasanto ‘Dīghaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti, rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘Rassaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti, rassaṃ vā passasanto ‘Rassaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti. ‘Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘Sabbakāya­paṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ti sikkhati.”

“Just, monks, as a skilful turner or a turner's apprentice knows a long pull when a long pull is made, or knows a short pull when a short pull is made, even so, monks, a monk when breathing in a long inhalation is conscious of breathing in a long inhalation, or breathing out a long exhalation is conscious of breathing out a long exhalation, or breathing in a short inhalation is conscious of breathing in a short inhalation, or breathing out a short exhalation is conscious of breathing out a short exhalation. He trains himself to be clearly conscious of the whole of the in-coming breath at its beginning, its middle, and at its end. He trains himself to be clearly conscious of the whole of the out-going breath at its beginning, its middle, and at its end. He trains himself to calm down the strong inhalation as he breathes in. He trains himself to calm down the strong exhalation as he breathes out.

In the time of the Buddha, lathes seem to have been driven by a rope attached to a long bamboo used as a spring. The rope would be pulled to its fullest extent, then released to turn the piece to be carved against the chisel. When only a delicate cut was needed, the rope would only be pulled a short distance for a partial stroke.

The Burma Piṭaka Association translation again stresses the importance of knowing the entire breath from the beginning, through its middle portion, until its end.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati. Samudayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, samudaya­vaya­dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati. ‘Atthi kāyo’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

“Thus he dwells contemplating the body internally (his own body), or he dwells contemplating the body externally (the body of another), or he dwells contemplating both. He dwells contemplating origination factors in the body, or he dwells contemplating dissolution factors in the body, or he dwells contemplating origination and dissolution factors in the body. Or his mindfulness is established with the thought: ‘The body exists,’ just to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. He dwells independent and clings to nothing in the world. Thus, too, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body.”

The commentary explains internally and externally as one’s own body and that of another. Unless one has developed the psychic powers, one will only be able to know the breath of others by inference. While contemplating the in-breaths and out-breaths, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that the body exists, but that is not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard it as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world. (Back)

The mindfulness of breathing section is complete.

Ānāpānapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#BodyContemplationClearComprehensionSectionKāyānupassanā Iriyāpathapabbaṃ

Body Contemplation: Four Postures Section

375. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu gacchanto vā ‘Gacchāmī’ti pajānāti, ṭhito vā ‘Ṭhitomhī’ti pajānāti, nisinno vā ‘Nisinnomhī’ti pajānāti, sayāno vā ‘Sayānomhī’ti pajānāti, yathā yathā vā panassa kāyo paṇihito hoti, tathā tathā naṃ pajānāti.”

“Again, monks, when walking, a monk knows, ‘I am walking,’ or when standing, he knows, ‘I am standing,’ or when sitting he knows, ‘I am sitting,’ or when lying down, he knows ‘I am lying down,’ or however his body is disposed, he knows it.

Although it is said, in conventional language, “I am going,” “I am sitting,” “I am standing,” or “I am lying down,” one’s attention should be focused on the physical phenomena of going, sitting, standing, or lying down, and not merely on the idea of the posture. Actions and movements should be done as slowly as possible paying close attention to the movements of the limbs. If one notes only as “Walking, walking,” the mind may wander easily.

This is even more obvious when standing still. The balance can only be maintained by constant awareness and frequent small movements of the muscles in the legs, feet, and back. After only half an hour of standing one will feel stiffness in the limbs. Of the four postures, standing is the hardest to maintain for long periods.

In noting the posture of sitting, pay attention to the position of the head, shoulders, arms, hands, and legs. If you wish to scratch an itch, do not move your hand at once, but patiently note the sensation until it disappears. If it becomes unbearable, you may scratch it, but in doing so, move the hand slowly while noting all actions needed to do so. If the lower limbs become stiff or painful, again, do not uncross them at once. Patiently note the unpleasant sensations, investigating them systematically to see if they are permanent or impermanent. Do they change their position or their specific characteristics? Do you experience the pain or discomfort as hardness, burning, throbbing, or aching? Painful sensations are the best friend of a meditator. Why? Because they lead to to increased effort, deeper concentration, and insight into the three general characteristics, which are impermanence, unsatisfactoriness or suffering, and not-self or not subject to one’s wish or control. Note painful sensations that arise in sitting meditation for as long as you can bear them — not to make them go away, but to understand them as they really are. If you are in agony, you may move your limbs. Mindfully adjust your sitting posture to relieve the severe pain, then continue to note as before. If the painful sensations reappear, do not change your sitting posture again, but get up from sitting and practise walking meditation.

Meditating while lying down is not recommended during the daytime as you may quickly fall asleep. However, if you are sick, you may have no choice but to practice in the lying posture. At the end of the day, when it is time to sleep, lay down on your right side, and be mindful of the entire body from head to foot, sweeping your attention down from where the head touches the pillow, to the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and feet. Then start again from the top of the head. I find that it helps to maintain a stable posture by placing the right hand on the left shoulder, and the left hand on the right elbow. After finding a posture that is comfortable for you, maintain it for as long as possible without changing it until you fall asleep. If you stay awake for a long time, and if painful sensations should arise, note them as explained above for sitting meditation. If you can note them bravely without changing your posture, you may realise the knowledge of arising and passing away. If you master this skill of noting while lying down until you fall asleep, you may find yourself in the very same posture at the first moment that you awake in the morning. Resume noting as before, and if it is time to get up, mindfully note all actions and movements involved in rising from the bed, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, and so forth. In this way, be mindful of the various movements of the limbs, and the posture of the body, continuously, without missing anything.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati. Samudayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, samudaya­vaya­dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati. ‘Atthi kāyo’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Iriyāpathapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The four postures section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#BodyContemplationAttentiontoRepulsivenessSectionKāyānupassanā Sampajānapabbaṃ

Body Contemplation: Clear Comprehension Section

376. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu abhikkante paṭikkante sampajānakārī hoti, ālokite vilokite sampajānakārī hoti, samiñjite pasārite sampajānakārī hoti, saṅghāṭipattacīvaradhāraṇe sampajānakārī hoti, asite pīte khāyite sāyite sampajānakārī hoti, uccārapassāvakamme sampajānakārī hoti, gate ṭhite nisinne sutte jāgarite bhāsite tuṇhībhāve sampajānakārī hoti.

“Again, monks, a monk, in going and coming practises clear comprehension; in looking ahead or to the side, he practises clear comprehension; in bending and stretching the limbs, he practises clear comprehension; in carrying the double robe and alms-bowl, and wearing the robes, he practises clear comprehension; in eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting, he practises clear comprehension; in defecating and urinating, he practises clear comprehension; in walking, standing, or sitting, in falling asleep and waking up, in speaking or remaining silent, he practises clear comprehension.”

Going and coming means when going into the village for alms and returning after the almsround. It could also mean walking back and forth on the walking path. A meditator should practice clear comprehension when going to the dining hall or returning to his or her room. For monks, the trip into the local village or town for almsfood is a time when the mind is liable to get distracted by sights and sounds. A monk should walk slowly, with the eyes downcast, paying attention to his deportment and how he carries the almsbowl, and wears the robes. The meal time is also a great danger for the meditator. One may see non-meditators busily going about their business, and their senses will also be assaulted by many smells and tastes. When stretching the arms to receive or take food, and when putting it into one’s bowl or onto one’s plate, care should be taken not to spill food or to make a noise.

While eating the meal, monks and meditators should be mindful of all actions and movements involved in taking food, noting carefully putting food into the mouth, tasting it, chewing it, and swallowing it. An unmindful person, when taking food, eats three morsels at once, i.e. they have one in their mouth, another on the spoon waiting to go in, while their eyes are looking at what they might take to eat next. A meditator should eat only one morsel at a time. When looking to see what to eat next, one should note as, “Looking, seeing.” When taking the food with a spoon, one should note as “Taking, taking.” When bringing the foot to the mouth, one should note as “Bringing, bringing.” When putting the food into the mouth, one should note as “Putting, putting.” When chewing the morsel, one should note as “Chewing, chewing.” On tasting the food, whether it is sweet or sour, spicy or delicious, one should note it as “Tasting, tasting.” Finally, one should not as “Swallowing.” Only then, should the meditator look to see what he or she will take to eat for the next morsel. This practice of one morsel at a time is very difficult to maintain, but it should be done to sustain mindfulness and develop concentration. Otherwise, all kinds of unwholesome thoughts about the meal may arise and disturb the meditator’s practice afterwards.

Some time after taking the meal, the meditator will have to visit the bathroom to urinate or defecate. This too, must be done with mindfulness and clear comprehension, taking care to clean oneself properly, and cleaning the toilet to leave it ready for the next person to use.

Walking, standing, and sitting has already been described fully under the four postures, but here too one should practice clear comprehension of one’s intention when going and coming, or remaining still.

A meditator should usually remain silent, but if there is a reason to speak, one must speak. Then one should say no more than is necessary to communicate. When asked by the meditation teacher about one’s practice, a meditator should just report what happened in simple terms, without speculating about the meaning of one’s experiences, nor going off at a tangent about other things that are unrelated to it. While remaining silent to listen to the replies given, a meditator should not interrupt or ask a question until the teacher has finished.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Sampajānapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The clear comprehension section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#BodyContemplationAttentiontotheElementsSectionKāyānupassanā Paṭikūlamanasikārapabbaṃ

Body Contemplation: Attention to Repulsiveness Section

377. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu imameva kāyaṃ uddhaṃ pādatalā adho kesamatthakā tacapariyantaṃ pūraṃ nānappakārassa asucino paccavekkhati — ‘Atthi imasmiṃ kāye kesā lomā nakhā dantā taco, maṃsaṃ nhāru aṭṭhi aṭṭhimiñjaṃ vakkaṃ, hadayaṃ yakanaṃ kilomakaṃ pihakaṃ papphāsaṃ, antaṃ antaguṇaṃ udariyaṃ karīsaṃ [matthaluṅgaṃ],¹ pittaṃ semhaṃ pubbo lohitaṃ sedo medo, assu vasā kheḷo siṅghāṇikā lasikā mutta’nti.

“Again, monks, a monk reflects on this very body encased in skin and full of various foul things from the soles of the feet to the hairs on top of the head — in this body are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin;² flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys;³ heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs;⁴ large intestine, small intestine, stomach, faeces, [brain];⁵ bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat;⁶ tears, grease, saliva, snot, synovial fluid, and urine.”⁷

The Visuddhimagga says that these must be recited verbally in groups in forward and reverse order: the first pentad in forward and reverse order, then the first decad in reverse order, then the third pentad in forward and reverse order, then the first fifteen in reverse order, then the fourth pentad in forward and reverse order, etc. Finally all are recited in reverse order urine, synovial fluid, snot, saliva, grease, tears, fat, sweat, blood, pus, phlegm, bile, brain, faeces, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, lungs, spleen, membranes, liver, heart, kidneys, bone-marrow, bones, sinews, flesh, skin, teeth, nails, body hairs, head hairs. When a candidate for the going-forth has his head shaved, he is given a handful of hair to contemplate while reciting the skin pentad: head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin. This group is easy to visualise since these body parts are visible to the naked eye. Not everyone will have seen the internal body organs, but when head hairs are examined in the hand their true nature becomes clear.

After memorising them all in forward and reverse order, the recitation should be done mentally. After thoroughly memorising the body parts through verbal and mental recitation, one should direct one’s attention to discerning their foul characteristics through visualising them in situ. For further details please refer to the Visuddhimagga,⁸ which describes each of the thirty-two body parts in detail, and how to proceed to absorption.

“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, ubhatomukhā putoḷi pūrā nānāvihitassa dhaññassa, seyyathidaṃ sālīnaṃ vīhīnaṃ muggānaṃ māsānaṃ tilānaṃ taṇḍulānaṃ. Tamenaṃ cakkhumā puriso muñcitvā paccavekkheyya — ‘Ime sālī, ime vīhī ime muggā ime māsā ime tilā ime taṇḍulā’ti. Evameva kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu imameva kāyaṃ uddhaṃ pādatalā adho kesamatthakā tacapariyantaṃ pūraṃ nānappakārassa asucino paccavekkhati — ‘Atthi imasmiṃ kāye kesā lomā … mutta’nti.

“It is, monks, like a bag with an opening at each end, full of various kinds of grain such as hill-paddy, paddy, green gram, cow-pea, sesame and husked rice; and a man with sound eyes, having opened it, should examine and reflect on the contents thus: ‘This is hill-paddy, this is lowland-paddy, this is green gram, this is cow-pea, this is sesame, this is husked rice,’ even so, monks, a monk examines and reflects on this very body, from the soles of the feet to the top of the hair on the head, enclosed by the skin and full of manifold impurities, ‘There are in this body: hair of the head … urine.’”

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Paṭikūlamanasikārapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The attention to repulsiveness section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#BodyContemplationNineCemeteryObjectsSectionKāyānupassanā Dhātumanasikārapabbaṃ

Body Contemplation: Attention to the Elements Section

378. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu imameva kāyaṃ yathāṭhitaṃ yathāpaṇihitaṃ dhātuso paccavekkhati — ‘Atthi imasmiṃ kāye pathavīdhātu āpodhātu tejodhātu vāyodhātū’ti.

“Again, monks, a monk reflects on the elements in this very body however it is disposed — ‘In this body are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the wind element.’”

The earth element means solidity. Hardness and softness are both characteristics of the earth element. The water element means fluidity or cohesion. The fire element means temperature. Hot and cold are both manifestations of the fire element. The wind element means motion, pressure, or vibration. Earth, water, fire, and air are the fundamental material phenomena, not literally earth, water, fire, and air. Even a solid, bone-dry rock contains the element of cohesion, otherwise all of the molecules would collapse in a heap of dust. Even liquid water contains the earth element as anyone who has dived from the 10 m board will tell you that it is hard enough to cause serious injury if you land badly. Even solid carbon dioxide contains the fire element, and it will boil if left at room temperature.

A simile of making bread may make the meaning clearer:– Dry flour manifests the solid qualities of the earth element. When water is added, the dough becomes sticky, which is the element of cohesion. As the dough is kneaded with a vigorous motion, the stickiness disappears, and the softness of the earth element becomes more obvious. When the dough is baked, the fire element changes the dough into bread, when lightness and softness become more obvious. The four elements are present at all times, in all material phenomena. Even hydrogen gas can be compressed to a liquid, and the element of temperature, though very weak, is still present in liquid hydrogen. It is not quite at absolute zero degrees.

“Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, dakkho goghātako vā goghātakantevāsī vā gāviṃ vadhitvā catumahāpathe bilaso vibhajitvā nisinno assa, evameva kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu imameva kāyaṃ yathāṭhitaṃ yathāpaṇihitaṃ dhātuso paccavekkhati — ‘Atthi imasmiṃ kāye pathavīdhātu āpodhātu tejodhātu vāyodhātū’ti.

“Just, monks, as a skilful butcher or a butcher’s apprentice, having slaughtered a cow, and cut it up into portions, sits at a cross-roads. Similarly, monks, a monk reflects on the four elements in this very body however it is disposed — in this body are the elements of earth, water, fire, and air.”

This meditation object is described in the Visuddhimagga⁹ where it is called the defining of the elements (catudhātuvavatthāna), which it says means paying attention to the elements (dhātumanasikāra). Just as a butcher or his apprentice does not think that he is selling a cow, but only pieces of meat, a monk does not think that the four elements are a person, a man, or a living-being. The Mahāsi meditation method uses this body contemplation as it is suitable for one developing insight. As soon as the meditator is able to discern the air element in the movements of the abdomen or limbs, insight into the characteristic of not-self can arise. Long before self-view is removed entirely by the attainment of Stream-winning, the meditator can realise through analytical knowledge of body and mind, knowledge by discerning conditionality, or knowledge of comprehension that there is no person or being, self or soul, but just physical phenomena, and mental phenomena that are aware of them. As it says in The Progress of Insight, “At the moment of breathing in, there is just the rising movement of the abdomen and the knowing of the movement, but there is no self besides.”

A meditator should investigate painful feelings without changing the posture, whenever they occur. What kind of sensation is it? Is it hardness? Is it a burning? Is it throbbing? These are manifestations of the elements of earth, fire, and air respectively. The water element is not directly discernible. Sweat may be experienced as cold, which is the weak fire element. If one is able to discern the primary elements in painful feelings, perceptions of pain or discomfort, and aversion to unpleasant feelings will be overcome. Sensations will be seen as they truly are, as bare phenomena, which are not a person or self, not me nor mine, and also arising dependent on conditions, disappearing when conditions cease (anicca), and not subject to anyone’s control (anatta). They will rightly be regarded as oppressive or suffering (dukkha) for these reasons.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Dhātumanasikārapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The attention to the elements section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofFeelingsKāyānupassanā Navasivathikapabbaṃ

Body Contemplation: Nine Cemetery Objects Section

379. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu seyyathāpi passeyya sarīraṃ sivathikāya chaḍḍitaṃ ekāhamataṃ vā dvīhamataṃ vā tīhamataṃ vā uddhumātakaṃ vinīlakaṃ vipubbakajātaṃ. So imameva kāyaṃ upasaṃharati — ‘Ayampi kho kāyo evaṃdhammo evaṃbhāvī evaṃanatīto’ti.

“Again, monks, if a monk should see a body in the cemetery, one, two, or three days dead, bloated, blue or black in colour, and festering, he compares his own body to it: “This very body too is of the same nature, it will become like that, and it has not transcended that.”

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

“Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu seyyathāpi passeyya sarīraṃ sivathikāya chaḍḍitaṃ kākehi vā khajjamānaṃ kulalehi vā khajjamānaṃ gijjhehi vā khajjamānaṃ kaṅkehi vā khajjamānaṃ sunakhehi vā khajjamānaṃ byagghehi vā khajjamānaṃ dīpīhi vā khajjamānaṃ siṅgālehi vā khajjamānaṃ vividhehi vā pāṇakajātehi khajjamānaṃ. So imameva kāyaṃ upasaṃharati — ‘Ayampi kho kāyo evaṃdhammo evaṃbhāvī evaṃanatīto’ti.

“Again, monks, if a monk should see a body in the cemetery, being devoured by crows, being devoured by hawks, being devoured by vultures, being devoured by herons, being devoured by dogs, being devoured by tigers, being devoured by leopards, being devoured by jackals, or being devoured by various kinds of worms, he compares his own body to it: “This very body too is of the same nature, it will become like that, and it has not transcended that.”

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

“Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu seyyathāpi passeyya sarīraṃ sivathikāya chaḍḍitaṃ aṭṭhikasaṅkhalikaṃ samaṃsalohitaṃ nhārusambandhaṃ … Aṭṭhika­saṅkhalikaṃ nimaṃsalohitamakkhitaṃ nhārusambandhaṃ … Aṭṭhika­saṅkhalikaṃ apagatamaṃsalohitaṃ nhārusambandhaṃ … Aṭṭhikāni apagata­sambandhāni disā vidisā vikkhittāni, aññena hatthaṭṭhikaṃ aññena pādaṭṭhikaṃ aññena gopphakaṭṭhikaṃ aññena jaṅghaṭṭhikaṃ aññena ūruṭṭhikaṃ aññena kaṭiṭṭhikaṃ aññena phāsukaṭṭhikaṃ aññena piṭṭhiṭṭhikaṃ aññena khandhaṭṭhikaṃ aññena gīvaṭṭhikaṃ aññena hanukaṭṭhikaṃ aññena dantaṭṭhikaṃ aññena sīsakaṭāhaṃ. So imameva kāyaṃ upasaṃharati — ‘Ayampi kho kāyo evaṃdhammo evaṃbhāvī evaṃanatīto’ti.

“Again, monks, if a monk should see a body in the cemetery, reduced to a skeleton held together by tendons, with some flesh and blood still adhering to it … reduced to a skeleton held together by tendons, blood-besmeared, fleshless … reduced to a skeleton still held together by tendons, without flesh and blood … reduced to loose bones scattered in all directions — at one place bones of a hand, at another place bones of a foot, at another place ankle-bones, at another place shin-bones, at another place thigh-bones, at another place hip-bones, at another place rib-bones, at another place spinal-bones, at another place shoulder-bones, at another place neck-bones, at another place the jawbone, at another place the teeth, at another place the skull, he compares his own body to it: “This very body too is of the same nature, it will become like that, and it has not transcended that.”

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

“Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu seyyathāpi passeyya sarīraṃ sivathikāya chaḍḍitaṃ aṭṭhikāni setāni saṅkhavaṇṇapaṭibhāgāni … Aṭṭhikāni puñjakitāni terovassikāni … Aṭṭhikāni pūtīni cuṇṇakajātāni. So imameva kāyaṃ upasaṃharati — ‘Ayampi kho kāyo evaṃdhammo evaṃbhāvī evaṃanatīto’ti. Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati. Samudayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, samudaya­vayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati. ‘Atthi kāyo’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati.

“Again, monks, if a monk should see a body in the cemetery, reduced to bleached bones of conch-like colour … reduced to bones more than a year old, lying in a heap … reduced to rotted bones, crumbling to dust, he compares his own body to it: “This very body too is of the same nature, it will become like that, and it has not transcended that.”

These nine cemetery contemplations are difficult to practice. It is hard to find dead bodies even in Asian countries where Buddhism is currently practised. It seems that in the Buddha’s time, dead bodies were wrapped in white cloths and discarded in cemeteries on the edge of the forest. Wild animals would come and eat the remains, and the monks would gather the soiled cloths to wash, dye, and make into robes. It was ecological, as no firewood was needed, no digging of graves was required, and the cemetery grounds were of no value to farmers. They were also lonely places where no one would go for fear of ghosts, and so suitable for reclusive monks or nuns as long as they were courageous.

The best we can manage nowadays, if a devout lay follower or a monastic dies, is to have the body laid out in the monastery for a few days. Public health regulations probably won’t allow us to keep it until it decays completely.

In any case, this meditation method is unsuitable for anyone who might panic for fear of ghosts or wild animals. It is a difficult ascetic practice suitable mostly for well-trained forest monks like Taung Pulu Sayādaw or Ajahn Mun, who were austere monks.

A meditator should select a meditation object that suits his or her temperament. Of the fourteen body contemplations taught in this discourse one should select one as the primary object such as mindfulness of breathing, attention to the elements or the repulsive parts of the body, then augment that with clear comprehension of all daily activities and awareness of the four postures. With mindfulness firmly established on the body, the meditation objects should be extended to include feelings, thoughts, and mental-objects. Begin with whatever is the most obvious, then gradually penetrate what was not apparent at first until becoming aware of the most subtle objects and the factors leading to their arising and disappearance. Whenever the secondary objects, such as feelings, thoughts, or mental-objects such as one of the five hindrances becomes predominant, give it your full attention until it is abandoned, before returning to mindfulness of the body with the primary object or objects.

Navasivathikapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The nine cemetery contemplations section is complete.

Cuddasa Kāyānupassanā Niṭṭhitā.

The fourteen contemplations of the body are complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofThoughtsVedanānupassanā

Contemplation of Feelings

380. “Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sukhaṃ vā vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti. Dukkhaṃ vā vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Dukkhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti. Adukkhamasukhaṃ vā vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Adukkham­asukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti. Sāmisaṃ vā sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Sāmisaṃ sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti, nirāmisaṃ vā sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Nirāmisaṃ sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti. Sāmisaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Sāmisaṃ dukkhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti, nirāmisaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Nirāmisaṃ dukkhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti. Sāmisaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Sāmisaṃ adukkhamasukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti, nirāmisaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno ‘Nirāmisaṃ adukkham­asukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayāmī’ti pajānāti. Iti ajjhattaṃ vā vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati.”

“How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating feelings? Here, monk, a monk, when feeling a pleasant feeling he knows, ‘I feel a pleasant feeling.’ When feeling a painful feeling he knows, ‘I feel a painful feeling.’ When feeling a neutral feeling he knows, ‘I feel a neutral feeling.’ When feeling a pleasant sensual feeling he knows, ‘I feel a pleasant sensual feeling.’ When feeling a pleasant non-sensual feeling he knows, ‘I feel a pleasant non-sensual feeling.’ When feeling an unpleasant sensual feeling he knows, ‘I feel an unpleasant sensual feeling.’ When feeling an unpleasant non-sensual feeling he knows, ‘I feel an unpleasant non-sensual feeling.’ When feeling a neutral sensual feeling he knows, ‘I feel a neutral sensual feeling.’ When feeling a neutral non-sensual feeling he knows, ‘I feel a neutral non-sensual feeling.’”

Sensual feelings connected with lust, greed, or affection are obviously a danger for a meditator, as are feelings of anger, rage, and hatred. The extremely pleasant non-sensual feelings arising from joy, faith, or tranquillity are also a danger, as are feelings connected with aversion to discomfort or disappointment with lack of special insights. All feelings should be contemplated in the light of the three characteristics. They are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self. Although pleasant, non-sensual feelings are obviously not suffering in the usually understood sense of the word, because they are conditioned, they inevitably change and disappear. Therefore, if they are clung to as pleasant, lasting, or as “mine,” when they do change and disappear, suffering will follow. Unpleasant feelings of disappointment or dejection should be noted, until they too are understood and attachment to them is relinquished.

“Ajjhattabahiddhā vā vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati. Samudayadhammā­nupassī vā vedanāsu viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā vedanāsu viharati, samudaya­vayadhammānupassī vā vedanāsu viharati. ‘Atthi vedanā’ti vā panassa sati paccu­paṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati.”

The commentary explains internally and externally as one’s own body and that of another. Unless one has developed the psychic powers, one will only be able to know the feelings of others by inference. While contemplating feelings, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that feelings exists, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard feelings as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world.

Vedanānupassanā Niṭṭhitā.

The contemplation of feelings is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofMental-objectsHindrancesSectionCittānupassanā

Contemplation of Thoughts

381. “Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu citte cittānupassī viharati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sarāgaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Sarāgaṃ citta’nti pajānāti, vītarāgaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Vītarāgaṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Sadosaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Sadosaṃ citta’nti pajānāti, vītadosaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Vītadosaṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Samohaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Samohaṃ citta’nti pajānāti, vītamohaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Vītamohaṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Saṅkhittaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Saṅkhittaṃ citta’nti pajānāti, vikkhittaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Vikkhittaṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Mahaggataṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Mahaggataṃ citta’nti pajānāti, amahaggataṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Amahaggataṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Sa-uttaraṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Sa-uttaraṃ citta’nti pajānāti, anuttaraṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Anuttaraṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Samāhitaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Samāhitaṃ citta’nti pajānāti, asamāhitaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Asamāhitaṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Vimuttaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Vimuttaṃ citta’nti pajānāti. Avimuttaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Avimuttaṃ citta’nti pajānāti.”

“Again, monks, how does a monk dwell contemplating thoughts in thoughts? Here, monks, when a thought with lust¹⁰ is present he know, ‘A lustful thought is present.’ When a thought free from lust is present he knows, ‘A thought free from lust is present.’ When a thought with anger¹¹ is present he knows, ‘A thought with anger is present.’ When a thought free from anger is present he knows, ‘A thought free from anger is present.’ When a deluded thought¹² is present he knows, ‘A deluded thought is present.’ When an undeluded thought is present he knows, ‘An undeluded thought is present.’ When a lazy¹³ (contracted) mind is present he knows, ‘A lazy mind is present.’ When a distracted¹⁴ (restless) mind is present he know, ‘A distracted mind is present.’ When a lofty¹⁵ mind is present he knows, ‘A lofty mind is present.’ When a non-lofty¹⁶ mind is present he knows, ‘A non-lofty mind is present.’ When an inferior¹⁷ mind is present he knows, ‘An inferior mind is present.’ When a superior mind is present he knows, ‘A superior mind is present.’ When a composed¹⁸ mind is present he knows, ‘A composed mind is present.’ When an uncomposed mind is present he knows, ‘An uncomposed mind is present.’ When a liberated¹⁹ mind is present he knows, ‘A liberated mind is present.’ When an unliberated mind is present he knows, ‘An unliberated mind is present.’

In brief, whatever thoughts arises during meditation should be known as they really are. Mindfulness should be maintained to avoid getting carried away by thoughts, whether positive or negative. Joyful, happy, and serene states of mind will develop if the meditator continues to practice diligently. Nevertheless, if progress seems slow, the meditator becomes pessimistic or depressed and is reluctant to continue. If both positive and negative thoughts are noted whenever they occur, the mind will remain equanimous and progress will be steady.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā citte cittānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā citte cittānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā citte cittānupassī viharati. Samudayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṃ viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṃ viharati, samudayavaya­dhammānupassī vā cittasmiṃ viharati, ‘Atthi citta’nti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu citte cittānupassī viharati.”

The commentary explains internally and externally as one’s own body and that of another. Unless one has developed the psychic powers, one will only be able to know the thoughts of others by inference. While contemplating thoughts, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that thoughts exists, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard thoughts as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world.

Cittānupassanā Niṭṭhitā.

The contemplation of thoughts is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofMental-objectsAggregatesSectionDhammānupassanā Nīvaraṇapabbaṃ

Contemplation of Mental-objects:
Hindrances Section

382. “Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati pañcasu nīvaraṇesu. Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati pañcasu nīvaraṇesu?”

“How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating mental-objects in mental-objects? Here, monks, a monk dwell contemplating mental objects in the five hindrances. How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating mental-objects in the five hindrances?

Herein, mental-objects or phenomena (dhammā) includes a wide range of objects for contemplation divided into sections on the five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six sense faculties, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the four noble truths.

The Commentary introduces this section by saying that contemplation of the body dealt with the aggregate of materiality, contemplation of feelings dealt with the aggregate of feelings, and contemplation of thought dealt with the aggregate of consciousness. This section on contemplation of mental-objects (dhammānupassanā) deals with the aggregates of perception and mental formations.

“Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ kāmacchandaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ kāmacchando’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ kāmacchandaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ kāmacchando’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa kāmacchandassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa kāmacchandassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa kāmacchandassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

“Here, monks, when sensual desire is present a monk knows, ‘Sensual desire is present.’ When sensual desire is absent he knows, ‘Sensual desire is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen sensual desire comes to arise, how the arisen sensual desire comes to be abandoned, and how the abandoned sensual desire does not arise again.

Similes for the five hindrances, starting with sensual desire, are given in the Saṃyuttanikāya.²⁰ When water is coloured by yellow, blue, or crimson dye, one is unable to see the reflection of one’s face. Likewise, when the mind is sullied by sensual desire, one is unable to see one’s own benefit. Further similes for the other four hindrances are given below.

The Commentary on the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta says that sensual desire arises due to unwise attention (ayoniso manasikāra) and refers to the Saṃyuttanikāya,²¹ where the Buddha said: “There is, monks, the sign of beauty (subhanimittaṃ). Paying unwise attention to that and cultivating it is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, and for the growth and increase of the sensual desire that has already arisen.” The Commentary then says that sensual desire is abandoned by wise attention (yoniso manasikāra), again referring to the same discourse, where the Buddha said: “There is, monks, the sign of repulsiveness (asubhanimittaṃ). Paying wise attention to that and cultivating it is the nutriment for the non-arising of the unarisen sensual desire and for the abandoning of the arisen sensual desire.

Therefore, when practising Satipaṭṭhāna meditation, if sensual desire arises and if one is unable to expel it by mindful noting, one should pay attention to the sign of repulsiveness by contemplating the thirty-two body parts. In the Mahāsi tradition, this is referred to as one of the four protections. When mindfulness has been restored, and sensual desire has been expelled, one can resume noting as usual.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ byāpādaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ byāpādo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ byāpādaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ byāpādo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa byāpādassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa byāpādassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa byāpādassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

“Here, monks, when ill-will is present a monk knows, ‘Ill-will is present.’ When ill-will is absent he knows, ‘Ill-will is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen ill-will comes to arise, how the arisen ill-will comes to be abandoned, and how the abandoned ill-will does not arise again.

When water is on a fire, steaming and boiling, one is unable to see the reflection of one’s face. Likewise, when the mind is overcome by ill-will, one is unable to see one’s own benefit.

Here, the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta Commentary again refers to the Āhāra Sutta saying that the hindrance of ill-will arises due to unwise attention. “There is, monks, the sign of aversion (paṭighanimittaṃ). Paying unwise attention to that and cultivating it is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen ill-will, and for the growth and increase of the ill-will that has already arisen.” The Commentary then says that ill-will is abandoned by wise attention (yoniso manasikāra), again referring to the same discourse: “There is, monks, the liberation of the heart by loving-kindness (mettā cetovimutti). Paying wise attention to that and cultivating it is the nutriment for the non-arising of the unarisen ill-will and for the abandoning of the arisen ill-will.

When practising Satipaṭṭhāna meditation, if ill-will arises and if one is unable to expel it by mindful noting, one should pay attention to the liberation of the heart by cultivating loving-kindness. Failing that, one should abide in equanimity by reflecting that all beings are the owners of their actions and will inherit the results of their own actions. When mindfulness has been restored, and ill-will has been expelled, one can resume noting as usual.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ thinamiddhaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ thinamiddha’nti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ thinamiddhaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ thinamiddha’nti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa thinamiddhassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa thinamiddhassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa thinamiddhassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

“Here, monks, when sloth and torpor is present a monk knows, ‘Sloth and torpor is present.’ When sloth and torpor is absent he knows, ‘Sloth and torpor is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen sloth and torpor comes to arise, how the arisen sloth and torpor comes to be abandoned, and how the abandoned sloth and torpor does not arise again.

When water is covered by weeds, one is unable to see the reflection of one’s face. Likewise, when the mind is overcome by sloth and torpor, one is unable to see one’s own benefit.

Here, the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta Commentary again refers to the Āhāra Sutta saying that the hindrance of sloth and torpor arises due to unwise attention. “There is, monks, discontent (arati), lethargy (tandī), lazy stretching (vijambhita), drowsiness after meals (bhattasammado). Paying unwise attention to these and cultivating them is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen sloth and torpor, and for the growth and increase of the sloth and torpor that have already arisen.” The Commentary then says that sloth and torpor is abandoned by wise attention, again referring to the same discourse, where the Buddha said: “There is, monks, Stirring up energy, striving, and exertion. Paying wise attention to those and cultivating them is the nutriment for the non-arising of the unarisen sloth and torpor and for the abandoning of the arisen sloth and torpor.²²

Six things are recommended for the abandoning of sloth and torpor: 1) Knowing when one has had enough to eat, 2) Changing of body posture, i.e. walking, standing, sitting, and lying down as appropriate, 3) The perception of light, 4) Dwelling in the open, 5) Good friendship, and 6) Suitable conversation from time to time.

  1. Eating only once a day may be enough for some, while others may need two meals. Meditators don’t usually take more than that. Whatever one’s usual practice is, one should not eat to one’s full satisfaction, but just enough to avoid being famished later.
  2. Only sitting for the entire day is not healthy. One should alternate sitting meditation with walking meditation. Sitting still for long periods is good for concentration, but one should sit correctly to avoid discomfort, and to remain alert. If drowsiness sets in, get up and practise walking meditation. Only walking is also not good. If fatigued after excessive walking one may need to lie down to rest the body, as the Venerable Ānanda did after walking the entire night before the First Buddhist Council. Only then, did his spiritual faculties become balanced. A meditator should therefore be aware, and adjust the periods of walking and sitting as appropriate. Walking after the meal is recommended to dispel any drowsiness before sitting. Lying down may be used during hot weather, but it is generally unsuitable for meditation during the day. Only at the end of a long day’s meditation, should the meditator lie down mindfully to rest until falling asleep.
  3. One may open one’s eyes and look at a source of light such as the sun shining through a window, or at night, the moon and stars.
  4. Dwelling in the open is very effective to dispel sleepiness. In the forest, one is surrounded by the sounds of creeping things, by the movements of the leaves in the wind, and by the sounds of animals, etc. It is hard to fall asleep unless one is genuinely tired.
  5. Staying together with other diligent meditators will encourage you to be diligent too.
  6. When the opportunity arises, listening to the Dhamma from one’s teacher, or having suitable Dhamma discussions will arouse effort and enthusiasm for the practice.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ uddhaccakukkuccaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ uddhacca­kukkucca’nti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ uddhaccakukkuccaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ uddhaccakukkucca’nti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa uddhacca­kukkuccassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa uddhaccakukkuccassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa uddhaccakukkuccassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

“Here, monks, when restlessness and remorse is present a monk knows, ‘Restlessness and remorse are present.’ When restlessness and remorse are absent he knows, ‘Restlessness and remorse are absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen restlessness and remorse come to arise, how the arisen restlessness and remorse come to be abandoned, and how the abandoned restlessness and remorse does not arise again.

When water is stirred by the wind, one is unable to see the reflection of one’s face. Likewise, when the mind is overcome by restlessness, one is unable to see one’s own benefit.

Here, the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta Commentary again refers to the Āhāra Sutta saying that the hindrance of restlessness arises due to unwise attention. “There is, monks, unsettledness of mind (avūpasamo). Paying unwise attention to this and cultivating it is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen restlessness, and for the growth and increase of the restlessness that has already arisen.” The Commentary then says that restlessness is abandoned by wise attention, again referring to the same discourse, where the Buddha said: “There is, monks, peacefulness of mind (vūpasamo). Paying wise attention to that and cultivating it is the nutriment for the non-arising of the unarisen restlessness and for the abandoning of the arisen restlessness.

Six things lead to the abandoning of restlessness and remorse: 1) Great learning, 2) Questioning, 3) Knowing the monastic discipline, 4) Association with the venerable elders, 5) Good friendship, and 6) Suitable conversation.

Monks should understand the monastic discipline, and lay people should understand a lay person’s discipline. Meditators undertake and observe the eight precepts so they should know the right time to eat, and what kinds of things may be taken in the afternoons or evenings to allay hunger pangs. Not watching entertainments, not eating after midday, and observing noble silence will also be very helpful in calming the mind and dispelling restlessness.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ vicikicchaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ vicikicchā’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ vicikicchaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ vicikicchā’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannāya vicikicchāya uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannāya vicikicchāya pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnāya vicikicchāya āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

“Here, monks, when doubt is present a monk knows, ‘Doubt is present.’ When doubt is absent he knows, ‘Doubt is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen doubt comes to arise, how the arisen doubt comes to be abandoned, and how the abandoned doubt does not arise again.

When water is muddy, one is unable to see the reflection of one’s face. Likewise, when the mind is overcome by doubt, one is unable to see one’s own benefit.

Here, the Commentary again refers to the Āhāra Sutta saying that the hindrance of doubt arises due to unwise attention. “There are, monks, things that lead to doubt (vicikicchāṭhānīyā dhammā). Paying unwise attention to these and cultivating them is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen doubt, and for the growth and increase of the doubt that has already arisen.” It then says that doubt is abandoned by wise attention, again referring to the same discourse, where the Buddha said: “There are monks, wholesome and unwholesome states, blameworthy and blameless states, things that should be followed and things that should not, inferior and inferior states, dark and bright states. Paying wise attention and cultivating it is the nutriment for the non-arising of the unarisen doubt and for the abandoning of the arisen doubt.

Many don’t have sufficient knowledge about unwholesome, blameworthy, inferior, and dark states that should not be followed, so they pay attention unwisely and their doubts only increase. The more that wise friends tell them to ignore their doubts and to continue to practise mindfulness meditation, the more stubborn they become. Like a patient who has been made sick by medicine, meditators who read too much, and debate too much about the right method, become difficult to instruct, and remain incurable as long as they don’t abandon their wrong ways of thinking. The instructions are simple: “Be mindful of each and every mental and physical phenomenon that arises throughout the entire day, without missing anything.” That also includes the hindrance of doubt. If it arises, note it until it disappears, then resume contemplating the movements of the abdomen while sitting and the limbs while walking.

There are many different styles of Satipaṭṭhāna meditation — Mahāsi, Mogok, Pa Auk, U Ba Khin, etc. Within each tradition individual teachers may stress various aspects of the practice. By all means try different meditation techniques, but don’t mix them. Follow the teacher’s instructions at the centre where you are practising, and if you find that they don’t work well for you, try a different method. Even the Venerable Sāriputta had no success instructing one monk in the contemplation on the body parts, so he took him to the Buddha, who gave him a unique method suited to his temperament. Contemporary teachers lack the Buddha’s unique abilities, but meditators need a method that suits them. That’s why one should not stay with only the first method that one tries due to a misguided sense of loyalty, nor should teachers put any pressure on their students not to learn from other teachers.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati samudayadhammānupassī vā dhammesu viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā dhammesu viharati, samudayavayadhammānupassī vā dhammesu viharati ‘Atthi dhammā’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissati­mattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati pañcasu nīvaraṇesu.

“Thus he dwells contemplating mental objects internally and externally. While contemplating mental-objects, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that mental-objects exist, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard mental-objects as “I” or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world. Thus, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the mental-objects of the five hindrances.

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Nīvaraṇapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The hindrances section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofMental-objectsSenseFacultiesSectionDhammānupassanā Khandhapabbaṃ

Contemplation of Mental-objects:
Aggregates Section

383. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu. Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu — ‘Iti rūpaṃ, iti rūpassa samudayo, iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo; iti vedanā, iti vedanāya samudayo, iti vedanāya atthaṅgamo; iti saññā, iti saññāya samudayo, iti saññāya atthaṅgamo; iti saṅkhārā, iti saṅkhārānaṃ samudayo, iti saṅkhārānaṃ atthaṅgamo, iti viññāṇaṃ, iti viññāṇassa samudayo, iti viññāṇassa atthaṅgamo’ti.”

“Again, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the mental-objects of the five aggregates of attachment. How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating mental-objects in the mental-objects of the five aggregates of attachment? Here, monks, a monk knows: this is matter, this is the arising of matter, this is the disappearance of matter; this is feeling, … this is perception … this is mental formations … this is consciousness, this is the arising of consciousness, this is the disappearance of consciousness.”

While noting material phenomena one knows, “This is matter, which knows nothing. It arises and passes away thus.” When noting feelings one knows, “This is feeling. It arises and passes away thus.” When one notes colours, shapes, and so forth one knows, “This is perception. It arises and passes away thus.” When one notes striving, doing, and so forth one knows, “These are mental formations. They arise and pass away thus.” When one notes “Thinking,” one knows, “This is consciousness. It arises and passes away thus.”

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu.”

“Thus he dwells contemplating mental objects internally and externally. While contemplating mental-objects, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that mental-objects exist, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard mental-objects as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world. Thus, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the five aggregates of attachment.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Khandhapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The aggregates section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofMental-objectsEnlightenmentFactorsSectionDhammānupassanā Āyatanapabbaṃ

Contemplation of Mental-objects:
Sense Faculties Section

384. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati chasu ajjhattikabāhiresu āyatanesu. Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati chasu ajjhattikabāhiresu āyatanesu?”

“Again, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the six internal and external sense faculties. How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating mental-objects in the six internal and external sense faculties?”

“Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu cakkhuñca pajānāti, rūpe ca pajānāti, yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“Here, monks, a monk knows the eye and sights, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both. He also knows how the unarisen fetter comes to arise, how the arisen fetter comes to be abandoned, and how the abandoned fetter does not arise again.”

“Sotañca pajānāti, sadde ca pajānāti, yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“Here, monks, a monk knows the ear and sounds … arise again.”

“Ghānañca pajānāti, gandhe ca pajānāti, yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“Here, monks, a monk knows the nose and odours … arise again.”

“Jivhañca pajānāti, rase ca pajānāti, yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“Here, monks, a monk knows the tongue and tastes … arise again.”

“Kāyañca pajānāti, phoṭṭhabbe ca pajānāti, yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“Here, monks, a monk knows the body and touches … arise again.”

“Manañca pajānāti, dhamme ca pajānāti, yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

“Here, monks, a monk knows the mind and ideas … arise again.”

This section is summarised in the Buddha’s instructions to Bāhiya and to Mālukyaputta: “When you see, just know that you see it. When you hear, just know that you hear it. When you sense (muta = smell, taste, or touch), just know that you sense it. When you know, just know that you know it.” This instruction is extremely helpful for a meditator. The six senses are like six open windows through which a burglar (mental defilements) can enter at any time. If the six senses are guarded carefully, no mental defilements can intrude. Bāhiya realised Arahantship faster than any other disciple by listening to this very brief instruction while the Buddha was on his almsround. He had exceptional perfections of courageous effort and resolute determination, so he understood at once. Ordinary meditators will need to train themselves with this exercise throughout the whole day especially when they are not practising formal sitting or walking meditation. Meal times are especially dangerous for meditators as there are many sensory inputs. A diligent meditator should take great care to maintain uninterrupted mindfulness of the six sense bases, and the six sense objects while eating.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati chasu ajjhattikabāhiresu āyatanesu.”

“Thus he dwells contemplating mental objects internally and externally. While contemplating mental-objects, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that mental-objects exist, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard mental-objects as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world. Thus, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the six internal and external sense faculties.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Āyatanapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The sense faculties section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#ContemplationofMental-objectsTheTruthsSectionDhammānupassanā Bojjhaṅgapabbaṃ

Contemplation of Mental-objects:
Enlightenment Factors ­Section

385. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati sattasu bojjhaṅgesu. Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammā­nupassī viharati sattasu bojjhaṅgesu? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ satisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ satisambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ satisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ satisambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa satisambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa satisambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“Again, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the seven enlightenment factors. How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating mental-objects in the seven enlightenment factors? Here, monks, when the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is present in him a monk knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of mindfulness is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of mindfulness is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness is developed and reaches maturity.”

The word ‘Buddha’ is the past participle of bujjhati, to understand. Bojjha is from the same verb. Aṅga, here means a factor. The purpose of Satipaṭṭhāna meditation is to establish mindfulness. When the restless and scattered mind settles down in the present moment and learns to focus on realities occurring in the body and mind from moment to moment, the enlightenment factor of mindfulness develops. When it becomes strong the mind is extremely clear and bright like a powerful searchlight. Nothing escapes its attention. However, mere awareness of the body and mind is not enough, the objects must also be examined carefully.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ dhammavicaya­sambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ dhammavicaya­sambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa dhammavicayasambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“When the enlightenment factor of investigation is present in him he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of investigation is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of investigation is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of investigation is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of investigation comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of investigation is developed and reaches maturity.”

In the Milindapañha, the king asks Nāgasena: “How many factors of enlightenment are there?”“Seven, O king,” he replies. The king then asks, “By how many factors does one awaken to the truth?” Nāgasena replies, “By one, investigation of truth, for nothing can be understood without that.” The king asks, “Then why is it said that there are seven?” Nāgasena asks a counter-question, “Could the sword that is in your scabbard cut anything if it was not taken up in the hand?” The king replies, “No venerable sir.” Nāgasena says, “Just so, O king, without the other factors of enlightenment, investiga­tion of truth could not awaken to the truth.”

The factor of investigation is crucial. In practising the four foundations of mindfulness one has to keep investigating the objects of awareness. If pain arises somewhere in the body, bring investigation to bear on it. “What kind of pain is this? Where is it, exactly? Is it permanent, or does it change?” Similarly, with all other objects for contemplation. If you feel restless or doubtful, lazy or drowsy, investigate it. For example, “How do I know that I feel sleepy? Are the eyelids heavy? Am I just getting lazy? Why am I reluctant to note the meditation objects?”

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ vīriyasambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ vīriya­sambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ vīriyasambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ vīriyasambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa vīriya­sambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa vīriya­sambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“When the enlightenment factor of energy is present in him he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of energy is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of energy is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of energy is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of energy comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of energy is developed and reaches maturity.”

If the enlightenment factor of investigation is brought to bear on each meditation object as it occurs, energy and enthusiasm for the practice will develop. An energetic and courageous meditator has no fear of pain, hardship, or difficulties. They are only seen as tests of his or her courage and determination. “If the going gets tough, the tough get going,” as the saying says. Striving with great determination generates more energy, and all obstructions are quickly swept away. A lazy meditator, however, keeps falling away from the practice, and need frequent encouragement from the teacher.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ pītisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ pītisambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ pītisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ pīti­sambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa pītisambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa pītisambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“When the enlightenment factor of joy is present in him he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of joy is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of joy is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of joy is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of joy comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of joy is developed and reaches maturity.”

With continuous effort to be mindful and investigate each meditation object, the mind becomes bright and buoyant. In the early morning, the meditator gets up willingly, enthusiastic to begin another day of practice, and optimistic of attaining fresh insights. He or she may become rather talkative, and in need of restraint by the teacher or fellow meditators.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ passaddhisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ passaddhi­sambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ passaddhisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ passaddhisambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa passaddhi­sambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa passaddhi­sambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“When the enlightenment factor of tranquillity is present in him he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of tranquillity is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of tranquillity is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of tranquillity is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of tranquillity comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of tranquillity is developed and reaches maturity.”

As concentration develops further, the mind becomes less effervescent, and more peaceful. Tranquillity and happiness become more predominant than joy and exhilaration.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ samādhisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ samādhi­sambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ samādhisambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ samādhisambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa samādhi­sambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa samādhi­sambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“When the enlightenment factor of concentration is present in him he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of concentration is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of concentration is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of concentration is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of concentration comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of concentration is developed and reaches maturity.”

When the mind is joyful and happy, concentration comes easily. The meditator can sit or walk for long periods (four hours or longer is not exceptional) without interruption.

“Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ upekkhāsambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Atthi me ajjhattaṃ upekkhā­sambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, asantaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ upekkhāsambojjhaṅgaṃ ‘Natthi me ajjhattaṃ upekkhāsambojjhaṅgo’ti pajānāti, yathā ca anuppannassa upekkhā­sambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti, yathā ca uppannassa upekkhā­sambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti.”

“When the enlightenment factor of equanimity is present in him he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of equanimity is present.’ When the enlightenment factor of equanimity is absent he knows, ‘The enlightenment factor of equanimity is absent.’ He also knows how the unarisen enlightenment factor of equanimity comes to arise, and how the arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity is developed and reaches maturity.”

As concentration matures further, even happiness disappears and equanimity becomes the predominant factor. On the attainment of knowledge of equanimity about formations, the meditator is indifferent to pain or pleasure, and is able to sit for hours without changing the posture, or is able to practise walking for the whole afternoon or all night.

“Iti ajjhattaṃ vā … dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati sattasu bojjhaṅgesu.”

“Thus he dwells contemplating mental objects internally and externally. While contemplating mental-objects, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that mental-objects exist, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard mental-objects as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world. Thus, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the seven enlightenment factors.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Bojjhaṅgapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The enlightenment factors section is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#TheExpositionoftheTruthofSufferingDhammānupassanā Saccapabbaṃ

Contemplation of Mental-objects:
The Truths Section

386. “Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati catūsu ariyasaccesu. Kathañca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammā­nupassī viharati catūsu ariyasaccesu? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ‘Idaṃ dukkha’nti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘Ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘Ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘Ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti.”

“Again, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the mental-objects of the four noble truths. How, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating mental-objects in the mental-objects of the four noble truths? Here, monks, a monk knows as it really is, “This is suffering, this is the origin of suffering, this is the cessation of suffering, this is the path leading to the cessation of suffering.”

I assume that, “Knows as it really is (yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti), refers to Path knowledge, since prior to that the four noble truths are not fully understood. However, even at early stages in the development of insight the three characteristics are understood to some extent. This knowledge will become extremely vivid at the higher stages of insight such as knowledge of fearfulness (bhaya-ñāṇa), knowledge of misery (ādīnava-ñāṇa), and knowledge of disgust (nibbidā-ñāṇa). These three knowledges will lead to knowledge of desire for deliverance (muñcitukamyatā-ñāṇa). Although the meditator may become reluctant to practise meditation at these higher stages of insight, when encouraged by their teacher they will again contemplate mental and physical phenomena with the knowledge of re-observation (paṭisaṅkhānupassanā-ñāṇa) leading to knowledge of equanimity about formations (saṅkhārupekkhā-ñāṇa) and the highest stages of the path. Insight into the other three noble truths will progress as insight into the truth of suffering matures.

Without the benefit of continuous and prolonged insight meditation practice, the four noble truths remain obscured behind the veil of ignorance (avijjā). Although mental and physical phenomena are impermanent (anicca), they are regarded as permanent. Although they are, in fact, unsatisfactory and suffering (dukkha), they are regarded as pleasant and enjoyable. Although they are not-self (anatta), devoid of essence, and do not belong to belong to or obey anyone, they are seen as self, having their own identity, as belonging to oneself, and as obeying one’s wish. This kind of ignorance is unlike not knowing the name of some person or place, or not understanding a foreign language, nor even the correct meaning of one’s own language — it is acceptance of a falsehood while ignoring the truth.

Paṭhama Bhāṇavāro Niṭṭhito.

The first section for recitation is complete.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#TheExpositionoftheTruthoftheCauseDukkhasaccaniddeso

The Exposition of the Truth of Suffering

387. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ? Jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, maraṇampi dukkhaṃ, sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsāpi dukkhā, appiyehi sampayogopi dukkho, piyehi vippayogopi dukkho, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ, saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā.”

“What, monks, is the noble truth of suffering? Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, death is suffering, grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair are suffering, association with the unloved is suffering, separation from the loved is suffering, not getting what one wishes is suffering, in brief the five aggregates of attachment are suffering.”

This is where the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta of the Dīghanikāya and the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta of the Majjhimanikāya diverge in some editions. The Dīghanikāya version expands on each aspect of suffering as below.

388. “Katamā ca, bhikkhave, jāti? Yā tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye jāti sañjāti okkanti abhinibbatti khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo āyatanānaṃ paṭilābho, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, jāti.”

“What, monks, is birth? The coming into existence, the origination, the conception, arising in a new form, the appearance of the aggregates, the acquisition of sense-faculties in various beings — this, monks, is called birth.”

It should be obvious that birth into the human realm is suffering, but the birth of a new baby is usually celebrated as a joyful occasion.. According to the Buddha’s teaching, birth begins at the moment of conception. After spending up to nine or ten months developing in the womb the baby then has to be pushed through a tight space at the time of parturition. As soon as a baby is born it cries for oxygen, then for milk, and longs for soft and gentle contacts. When the baby gets what it wants, the crying stops for a while, but the suffering never ceases. Birth is the basis of suffering, as it leads to all the many other types of suffering, such as pain, disease, aging, and death. When doctors sign a death-certificate they could always put the cause of death as “birth,” because without that none of the other fatal diseases could occur.

Birth into heavenly realms is spontaneous and not at all traumatic like birth into the human, animal, or other lower realms. Nevertheless, it is the basis for all other suffering.

389. “Katamā ca, bhikkhave, jarā? Yā tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ tamhi tamhi sattanikāye jarā jīraṇatā khaṇḍiccaṃ pāliccaṃ valittacatā āyuno saṃhāni indriyānaṃ paripāko, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, jarā.”

“What, monks, is aging? The process of aging and decrepitude, having broken teeth, grey hair, wrinkled skin, the fading of the life-force, the decline of the sense-faculties in various beings — this, monks, is called aging.”

While we are young, we have plenty of energy and can eat whatever we wish. Old people get tired quickly with physical exertion and often have to take care over what they eat. The outward signs of aging like grey hair and wrinkled skin are disliked, so people buy cosmetics to try to conceal the fact that they’re getting old. The sense faculties fade with age, so old people need hearing aids, spectacles, and walking sticks. The degeneration of the mental faculties such as short-term memory loss, slower recall of names and facts, and in many cases now, severe dementia that leaves some elderly people in need of round-the-clock care to make sure that they do not wander off, or forget to eat, and so forth.

390. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, maraṇaṃ? Yaṃ tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ tamhā tamhā sattanikāyā cuti cavanatā bhedo antaradhānaṃ maccu maraṇaṃ kālakiriyā khandhānaṃ bhedo kaḷevarassa nikkhepo jīvitindriyassupacchedo, idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, maraṇaṃ.”

“What, monks, is death? The decease, passing away, dissolution, disap­pear­ance, ending of life, passing away due to completion of the life-span, the breaking up of the aggregates, the discarding of the body, the destruction of the life-faculty of various beings — this, monks, is called death.”

The suffering of death always comes in due course, even if one lives to be over a hundred. However, the threat of death is always present even before the completion of the life-span, due to disease, injury, fire, flood, famine, crime, war, and other dangers. People have to make constant efforts to maintain life and prevent death, even in the most benign of climates and circumstances they must drink and eat regularly, protect themselves from extreme weather, and build and maintain their houses to protect themselves from the elements, as very few can dwell in the open air, under trees, or in caves like the monks did during the first few years of the Buddha’s dispensation. People pay for life-insurance, yet it offers no protection from death at all. All it can do is ensure that their dependants are not left without financial support in the event of their unexpected demise.

The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta,²³ in describing suffering, includes “Disease is also suffering (byādhipi dukkho),” so its omission here is puzzling. Perhaps the Buddha did not mention it because all in the audience enjoyed vigorous good health. As far as I can tell, the Satipaṭṭhāna Commentary does not mention its absence, and the Visuddhimagga does not explain it, but see the footnote for a comment found in the Visuddhimagga Mahāṭīkā.²⁴

In his Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma, the Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw blames the disparity on an error in the Dhammacakka Sutta, saying that “byādipi dukkho” should not be there, as disease is included in the word dukkha of “sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā,” which is missing there.

However, disease is obviously suffering, and the oppression caused by disease is a very good object of contemplation for one who is striving to gain insight. Ailments such as colds and ‘flu, hay-fever, or migraine are at the very least an irritation, and at worst are so debilitating that one can barely maintain mindfulness at all. They come uninvited, and cease only when their causes cease, or after medical treatment, or a change of climate. When sick, a meditator should not stop practising, but may adopt the lying posture if too weak to sit or walk.

391. “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, soko? Yo kho, bhikkhave, aññataraññatarena byasanena samannāgatassa aññataraññatarena dukkhadhammena phuṭṭhassa soko socanā socitattaṃ antosoko antoparisoko, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, soko.”

“What, monks, is grief? The grieving, sorrowing, and anxiety, the inward grief and wretchedness of one beset by any kind of ruinous loss, who is stricken by some painful misfortune — this, monks, is called grief.”

If a close family member dies, if one’s business fails, if one’s home is destroyed, or if a loving relationship falls apart, ordinary people experience great mental distress and even physical suffering. A few are driven to suicide after traumatic personal losses.

392. “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, paridevo? Yo kho, bhikkhave, aññataraññatarena byasanena samannāgatassa aññataraññatarena dukkhadhammena phuṭṭhassa ādevo paridevo ādevanā paridevanā ādevitattaṃ paridevitattaṃ, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave paridevo.”

“What, monks, is lamentation? The weeping and lamenting, the act of weeping and lamenting, the crying and wailing of one beset by any kind of ruinous loss, who is stricken by some painful misfortune — this, monks, is called lamentation.”

It is not unusual even for grown men to weep after the loss of a close relative, but it does nothing to relieve their suffering, but only magnifies it. As it says in the Salla Sutta:–

“One who laments gains nothing. A fool only harms himself, a wise man would lament if it was beneficial. From weeping and grieving, no mental peace can come. It will only lead to greater pain, and bodily harm. He becomes pale and thin, and only harms himself. He cannot raise the dead, so his lamentation is fruitless. One who cannot abandon grief, is dragged further into sorrow. Bewailing the dead, one becomes a slave to grief.” (Sn. vv 588-591)

A meditator should contemplate the suffering of lamentation, and realise the three characteristics. At times, a meditator may grieve and lament over the loss of morality, or failure to attain concentration and insight. However, weeping is useless, one should abandon it, and do what is necessary to re-establish morality and mindfulness.

393. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, kāyikaṃ dukkhaṃ kāyikaṃ asātaṃ kāyasamphassajaṃ dukkhaṃ asātaṃ vedayitaṃ, idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ.”

“What, monks, is pain? The bodily pain and discomfort, the painful and unpleasant feeling produced by bodily contact — this, monks, is called pain.”

Physical pain and discomfort such as heat or cold, are very oppressive. A meditator should face them bravely, stirring up effort to overcome aversion to unpleasant feelings. Instead of changing one’s sitting posture to get rid of pain, a meditator should change his or her attitude and regard pain as a friend in the guise of a foe. Painful sensations are very good meditation objects. They demand your attention, so the wandering mind disappears at once. If the enlightenment factor of investigation is brought to bear onto painful physical sensations or discomfort, one may gain useful insights.

If a mosquito is biting you, do not break your precepts by killing it. If you brush it away, it will keep returning and bite you in other places. Become a blood-donor and let it drink as much as it wants the first time, then it will go away having been satisfied. Contemplate the itching sensations, and gain insight knowledge.

394. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, domanassaṃ? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, cetasikaṃ dukkhaṃ cetasikaṃ asātaṃ manosamphassajaṃ dukkhaṃ asātaṃ vedayitaṃ, idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, domanassaṃ.

“What, monks, is sorrow? The mental pain and distress, the painful and unpleasant feeling produced by mental contact — this, monks, is called sorrow.”

Sorrow (domanassa) is the opposite of happiness (somanassa), so in my opinion this is a more appropriate translation than grief, which is best used for the translation of the term soko, which is more intense than sorrow. The Visuddhimagga reverses the two, using sorrow for soko, and grief for domanassa. The Burma Piṭaka Association translation uses grief for soko, and distress for domanassa. If feeling sad on recalling past event or anticipating some future loss or separation, contemplate the mental feeling and the factors that lead to its arising and disappearance. Having dispelled it with wise attention, one should be optimistic of success.

395. “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, upāyāso? Yo kho, bhikkhave, aññataraññatarena byasanena samannāgatassa aññataraññatarena dukkhadhammena phuṭṭhassa āyāso upāyāso āyāsitattaṃ upāyāsitattaṃ, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, upāyāso.”

“What, monks, is despair? The trouble and despair, the tribulation of one beset by any kind of ruinous loss, who is stricken by some painful misfortune — this, monks, is called despair.”

Despair is the suffering of hopelessness. When overwhelmed by loss or failure one may feel that the task is impossible. If a meditator fails to gain any extraordinary insights after many months or years of practice, he or she may give up and leave the retreat centre, but all is not lost. Insights can arise later due to the impetus gained while on retreat. Despair is just another mental state that one is likely to encounter on the path of insight. If it is contemplated with wise attention, it will be realised as impermanent, suffering, and not-self.

396. “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho? Idha yassa te honti aniṭṭhā akantā amanāpā rūpā saddā gandhā rasā phoṭṭhabbā dhammā, ye vā panassa te honti anatthakāmā ahitakāmā aphāsukakāmā ayogakkhemakāmā, yā tehi saddhiṃ saṅgati samāgamo samodhānaṃ missībhāvo, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho.”

“What, monks, is the suffering of association with the unloved? Having to meet, be and remain in contact, or mingle with sights, sounds, odours, tastes, touches, and mind-objects that are undesirable, unpleasant or unenjoyable, or with beings who desire one’s harm, loss, discomfort, or bondage — this, monks, is called the suffering of association with the unloved.”

In the beginning of this discourse it is said, “Having gone to a forest, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty place …” Why is this said? It is recommended to meditate in such places because one is less likely to be disturbed by sense-objects that might obstruct the development of concentration. Nevertheless, even in the most ideal forest retreat centre, one will inevitably encounter some unpleasant sense-objects. Forests are populated by snakes, biting insects, rodents, noisy birds, and wild animals that might be a source of irritation and danger.

In towns and cities, there may be pleasing sounds such as music, attractive members of the opposite sex, or odours of food cooking, etc., which though pleasing to ordinary people, are disliked by wise meditators. As far as practical, one should avoid sense-objects that are likely to disturb one’s meditation, but if they arise then they should be contemplated to understand the truth of suffering.

397. “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, piyehi vippayogo dukkho? Idha yassa te honti iṭṭhā kantā manāpā rūpā saddā gandhā rasā phoṭṭhabbā dhammā, ye vā panassa te honti atthakāmā hitakāmā phāsukakāmā yogakkhemakāmā mātā vā pitā vā bhātā vā bhaginī vā mittā vā amaccā vā ñātisālohitā vā, yā tehi saddhiṃ asaṅgati asamāgamo asamodhānaṃ amissībhāvo, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, piyehi vippayogo dukkho.”

“What, monks, is the suffering of separation from the loved? Being unable to meet, be or remain in contact, or mix with sights, sounds, odours, tastes, touches and mind-objects that are desirable, pleasant or enjoyable, or with one’s mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, or blood relatives who desire one’s advantage, benefit, comfort, and freedom from bondage — this, monks, is called the suffering of separation from the loved.”

Meditators who have not been away from loved ones before may suffer loneliness or they may miss the comforts that they are used to at home. If such thoughts arise they should be contemplated to understand suffering and the cause of its arising, which is craving.

398. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ? Jāti­dhammānaṃ, bhikkhave, sattānaṃ evaṃ icchā uppajjati — ‘Aho vata mayaṃ na jātidhammā assāma, na ca vata no jāti āgaccheyyā’ti. Na kho panetaṃ icchāya pattabbaṃ, idampi yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ. Jarādhammānaṃ, bhikkhave, sattānaṃ evaṃ icchā uppajjati — ‘Aho vata mayaṃ na jarādhammā assāma, na ca vata no jarā āgaccheyyā’ti. Na kho panetaṃ icchāya pattabbaṃ, idampi yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ. Byādhidhammānaṃ, bhikkhave, sattānaṃ evaṃ icchā uppajjati ‘Aho vata mayaṃ na byādhidhammā assāma, na ca vata no byādhi āgaccheyyā’ti. Na kho panetaṃ icchāya pattabbaṃ, idampi yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ. Maraṇadhammānaṃ, bhikkhave, sattānaṃ evaṃ icchā uppajjati ‘Aho vata mayaṃ na maraṇadhammā assāma, na ca vata no maraṇaṃ āgaccheyyā’ti. Na kho panetaṃ icchāya pattabbaṃ, idampi yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ. Sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsadhammānaṃ, bhikkhave, sattānaṃ evaṃ icchā uppajjati ‘Aho vata mayaṃ na sokaparideva­dukkhadomanassupāyāsadhammā assāma, na ca vata no sokaparidevadukkha­domanassupāyāsadhammā āgaccheyyu’nti. Na kho panetaṃ icchāya pattabbaṃ, idampi yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ.”

“What, monks, is the suffering of not getting what one wishes? In beings subject to birth, monks, the wish may arise: ‘Oh that we were not subject to birth! Oh that new birth would not happen to us!’ However, it is not possible to get such a wish. This is the suffering of not getting what one wishes. In beings subject to aging, monks, the wish may arise: ‘Oh that we were not subject to aging! Oh that we would not get old!’ However, it is not possible to get such a wish. This too is the suffering of not getting what one wishes. In beings subject to disease, monks, the wish may arise: ‘Oh that we were not subject to disease! Oh that we would not get sick!’ However, it is not possible to get such a wish. This too is the suffering of not getting what one wishes. In beings subject to death, monks, the wish may arise: ‘Oh that we were not subject to death! Oh that we would not die!’ However, it is not possible to get such a wish. This too is the suffering of not getting what one wishes. In beings subject to grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair the wish may arise: ‘Oh that we were not subject to grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair! Oh that we would not experience grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair!’ However, it is not possible to get such a wish. This too is the suffering of not getting what one wishes.”

One who expects and hopes to enjoy pleasure and happiness will suffer a great deal, due to not getting what he or she wants. One who is a well-instructed disciple of the Noble Ones cannot avoid the suffering of birth, aging, and so forth. However, he or she does not suffer needlessly due to not getting what he or she wants.²⁵ When things do not turn out as one wishes, a meditator contemplates this fact as the truth of suffering.

399. “Katame ca, bhikkhave, saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā? Seyyathidaṃ: rūpupādānakkhandho, vedanupādānakkhandho, saññupādānak­khandho, saṅkhārupādānakkhandho, viññāṇupādānakkhandho. Ime vuccanti, bhikkhave, saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā. Idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ.”

“What, monks, in brief, is the suffering of the five aggregates of attachment? They are the aggregate of attachment to form, the aggregate of attachment of feelings, the aggregate of attachment to perceptions, the aggregate of attach­ment to mental formations, and the aggregate of attachment to conscious­ness. This, monks, in brief, is called the suffering of the five aggregates of attachment. This, monks, is called the noble truth of suffering.”

Even the Arahants are not free from the five aggregates. They have physical form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. However, they are free from attachment to them, so they no longer suffer. If a meditator is aware of attachment to any of the five aggregates, they should contemplate that as the truth of suffering. For example, people have different views due to different perceptions, and dispute because of that attachment. If a meditator is able to contemplate the attachment to views and perceptions as conditioned phenomena, they can gain insight into the truth of suffering, instead of disputing.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#TheExpositionoftheTruthofCessationSamudayasaccaniddeso

The Exposition of the Truth of the Cause

400. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ? Yāyaṃ taṇhā ponobbhavikā nandīrāgasahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathidaṃ — kāma­taṇhā bhavataṇhā vibhavataṇhā.”

“What, monks, is the noble truth of the cause of suffering? The craving that gives rise to fresh rebirth, accompanied by delight and passion, finding great delight here and there, namely — craving for sensual pleasures craving for existence, and craving for non-existence.”

Many Buddhists perform meritorious deeds hoping to obtain beneficial results such as wealth, long-life, health, or celestial rebirth after death. When the Buddha’s step-brother, Nanda, first ordained he practised meditation hard to obtain the celestial nymphs shown to him by the Buddha to take his mind away from thoughts of his fiancée, who he had left behind to become a monk under the Buddha. This is, no doubt, craving for existence, and is a cause of suffering. A meditator should contemplate any similar thoughts — such as the wish to find a more peaceful meditation centre, to gain worldly benefits, or heavenly rebirth — as the causes of suffering. One should understand them as suffering that leads away from the path.

“Sā kho panesā, bhikkhave, taṇhā kattha uppajjamānā uppajjati, kattha nivisamānā nivisati? Yaṃ loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“When this craving arises, monks, where does it arise? When it establishes itself, where does it establish itself? When it arises and establishes itself, it does so in the delight and pleasure in the world. This is where craving arises and establishes itself.”

Craving arises on hearing about the delightful attributes of other places. In this context, in the world (loke) means in the five aggregates that comprise the world of sense experience. This may be in this human world, or in other realms of existence. Some people, seeing a pampered cat or dog may wish to be reborn as such a pet. If they die with such thoughts, they may get their wish. This shows how dangerous craving for existence can be. It is best to contemplate the suffering aspects of existence to abandon craving for existence. The Buddha did not recommend any existence, saying that even a small piece of excrement smells bad.

“Kiñca loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ? Cakkhu loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati. Sotaṃ loke … Ghānaṃ loke … Jivhā loke … Kāyo loke … Mano loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“Where are delight and pleasure in the world? In the ‘world’ of the eye are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself. In the ‘world’ of the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Rūpā loke … Saddā loke … Gandhā loke … Rasā loke … Phoṭṭhabbā loke … Dhammā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of sights … sounds … odours … tastes … touches … ideas are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

In brief, craving arises in the six sense faculties dependent on contact and feeling. Then craving leads to attachment, and repeated thinking and planning about the object of one’s desires. For example, on tasting a particularly delicious food one may wish to eat it again tomorrow, and the next day, and start pondering about how it was prepared, and so forth.

A meditator should remain constantly mindful on seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking, contemplating the six sense faculties to realise the truth of suffering in the sense bases, sense objects, contact, feeling, perception, and initial and sustained application. It is not possible to prevent contact with the six sense objects. However, a meditator should contemplate all of the various thoughts and impulsions that arise dependent on the six sense faculties to realise that they are nothing but the causes of suffering. If one contemplates in this way, the truth of the cause of suffering can be abandoned.

“Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ loke … Sotaviññāṇaṃ loke … Ghānaviññāṇaṃ loke … Jivhāviññāṇaṃ loke … Kāyaviññāṇaṃ loke … Manoviññāṇaṃ loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of eye-consciousness … ear-consciousness … nose-consciousness … tongue-consciousness … body-consciousness … mind-consciousness are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Cakkhusamphasso loke … Sotasamphasso loke … Ghānasamphasso loke … Jivhāsamphasso loke … Kāyasamphasso loke … Manosamphasso loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of eye-contact … ear-contact … nose-contact … tongue-contact … body-contact … mind-contact are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Cakkhusamphassajā vedanā loke … Sotasamphassajā vedanā loke … Ghānasamphassajā vedanā loke … Jivhāsamphassajā vedanā loke … Kāyasamphassajā vedanā loke … Manosamphassajā vedanā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of feeling born of eye-contact … ear-contact … nose-contact … tongue-contact … body-contact … feeling born of mind-contact are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Rūpasaññā loke … Saddasaññā loke … Gandhasaññā loke … Rasasaññā loke … Phoṭṭhabbasaññā loke. Dhammasaññā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual perception … auditory perception … olfactory perception … gustatory perception … tactile perception … mental perception are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Rūpasañcetanā loke … Saddasañcetanā loke … Gandhasañcetanā loke … Rasasañcetanā loke … Phoṭṭhabbasañcetanā loke … Dhammasañcetanā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual volition … auditory volition … olfactory volition … gustatory volition … tactile volition … mental volition are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Rūpataṇhā loke … Saddataṇhā loke … Gandhataṇhā loke … Rasataṇhā loke … Phoṭṭhabbataṇhā loke … Dhammataṇhā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual craving … auditory craving … olfactory craving … gustatory craving … tactile craving … mental craving are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Rūpavitakko loke … Saddavitakko loke … Gandhavitakko loke … Rasavitakko loke … Phoṭṭhabbavitakko loke … Dhammavitakko loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual initial application … auditory initial application … olfactory initial application … gustatory initial application … tactile initial application … mental initial application are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself.”

“Rūpavicāro loke … Saddavicāro loke … Gandhavicāro loke … Rasavicāro loke … Phoṭṭhabbavicāro loke … Dhammavicāro loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati, ettha nivisamānā nivisati. Idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkhasamudayaṃ ariyasaccaṃ.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual sustained application … auditory sustained application … olfactory sustained application … gustatory sustained application … tactile sustained application … mental sustained application are delight and pleasure, there craving arises and establishes itself. This, monks, is called the noble truth of the cause of suffering.”

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#TheExpositionoftheTruthofthePathNirodhasaccaniddeso

The Exposition of the Truth of Cessation

401. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ? Yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo.”

“What, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering? It is the cessation without remainder of this very craving, its relinquishing and discarding, the liberation and detachment from it.”

“Sā kho panesā, bhikkhave, taṇhā kattha pahīyamānā pahīyati, kattha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati? Yaṃ loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“When this craving, monks, is abandoned, where is it abandoned? When it ceases, where does it cease? When this craving is abandoned and ceases, it is abandoned and ceases to delight and take pleasure in whatever is delightful and pleasurable in the world.”

If sense-objects were not delightful and pleasurable, no one would be attached to them, and no one would suffer due to pursuing them and getting attached to them. When a meditator abandons craving, he or she is no longer enamoured by even the most delightful sensual-objects because their cessation is far superior.

A certain monk, who was formerly a king, attained Arahantship. He went about uttering, “Oh what bliss!” The other monks imagined that he might have been recollecting the pleasures that he formerly enjoyed in the royal palaces and gardens. The Buddha assured them that he was not, but was rejoicing in the bliss of nibbāna. Many fear that cessation may be a complete absence of happiness, but those who contemplate the body understand the taste of nibbāna.

“Kiñca loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ? Cakkhu loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati. Sotaṃ loke … Ghānaṃ loke … Jivhā loke … Kāyo loke … Mano loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“Where are delight and pleasure in the world? In the ‘world’ of the eye are delight and pleasure, there craving ceases and is abandoned. In the ‘world’ of the ear … the nose … the tongue … the body … the mind, there craving is abandoned and ceases, there craving ceases to delight and take pleasure.”

“Rūpā loke … Saddā loke … Gandhā loke … Rasā loke … Phoṭṭhabbā loke. Dhammā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of sights … sounds … odours … tastes … touches … ideas are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ loke … Sotaviññāṇaṃ loke … Ghānaviññāṇaṃ loke … Jivhāviññāṇaṃ loke … Kāyaviññāṇaṃ loke … Manoviññāṇaṃ loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of eye-consciousness … ear-consciousness … nose-consciousness … tongue-consciousness … body-consciousness … mind-consciousness are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Cakkhusamphasso loke … Sotasamphasso loke … Ghānasamphasso loke … Jivhāsamphasso loke … Kāyasamphasso loke … Manosamphasso loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of eye-contact … ear-contact … nose-contact … tongue-contact … body-contact … mind-contact are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Cakkhusamphassajā vedanā loke … Sotasamphassajā vedanā loke … Ghānasamphassajā vedanā loke … Jivhāsamphassajā vedanā loke … Kāyasamphassajā vedanā loke … Manosamphassajā vedanā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of feeling born of eye-contact … ear-contact … nose-contact … tongue-contact … body-contact … feeling born of mind-contact are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Rūpasaññā loke … Saddasaññā loke … Gandhasaññā loke … Rasasaññā loke … Phoṭṭhabbasaññā loke. Dhammasaññā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual perception … auditory perception … olfactory perception … gustatory perception … tactile perception … mental perception are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Rūpasañcetanā loke … Saddasañcetanā loke … Gandhasañcetanā loke … Rasasañcetanā loke … Phoṭṭhabbasañcetanā loke. Dhammasañcetanā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual volition … auditory volition … olfactory volition … gustatory volition … tactile volition … mental volition are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Rūpataṇhā loke … Saddataṇhā loke … Gandhataṇhā loke … Rasataṇhā loke … Phoṭṭhabbataṇhā loke. Dhammataṇhā loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual craving … auditory craving … olfactory craving … gustatory craving … tactile craving … mental craving are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Rūpavitakko loke … Saddavitakko loke … Gandhavitakko loke … Rasavitakko loke … Phoṭṭhabbavitakko loke. Dhammavitakko loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual initial application … auditory initial application … olfactory initial application … gustatory initial application … tactile initial application … mental initial application are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases.”

“Rūpavicāro loke … Saddavicāro loke … Gandhavicāro loke … Rasavicāro loke … Phoṭṭhabbavicāro loke. Dhammavicāro loke piyarūpaṃ sātarūpaṃ, etthesā taṇhā pahīyamānā pahīyati, ettha nirujjhamānā nirujjhati. Idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ.”

“In the ‘world’ of visual sustained application … auditory sustained application … olfactory sustained application … gustatory sustained application … tactile sustained application … mental sustained application are delight and pleasure, there craving is abandoned and ceases. This, monks, is called the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.”

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTop#NotesMaggasaccaniddeso

The Exposition of the Truth of the Path

402. “Katamañca, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ? Ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo seyyathidaṃ — sammādiṭṭhi sammāsaṅkappo sammā­vācā sammākammanto sammā-ājīvo sammāvāyāmo sammāsati sammā­samādhi.”

“What, monks, is the noble truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering? It is this very noble eightfold path, namely: right-view, right-thought, right-speech, right-action, right-livelihood, right-effort, right-mindfulness, and right concentration.”

“Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, dukkhe ñāṇaṃ, dukkhasamudaye ñāṇaṃ, dukkhanirodhe ñāṇaṃ, dukkhanirodhagāminiyā paṭipadāya ñāṇaṃ, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammādiṭṭhi.”

“What, monks, is right-view? Whatever, monks, is knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the cause of suffering, knowledge of the cessation of suffering, and knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of suffering; this, monk, is called right-view.”

“Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo? Nekkhammasaṅkappo abyāpāda­saṅkappo avihiṃsāsaṅkappo, ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave, sammāsaṅkappo.”

“What, monks, is right-thought? Thoughts of renunciation, thoughts free from malice, thoughts free from cruelty; this, monks, is called right-thought.”

“Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammāvācā? Musāvādā veramaṇī pisuṇāya vācāya veramaṇī pharusāya vācāya veramaṇī samphappalāpā veramaṇī, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammāvācā.”

“What, monks, is right-speech? Abstaining from falsehood, abstaining from back-biting, abstaining from abuse, and abstaining from idle-chatter; this, monks, is called right-speech.”

“Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammākammanto? Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī adinnādānā veramaṇī kāmesumicchācārā veramaṇī, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammākammanto.”

“What, monks, is right action? Abstaining from killing living-beings, abstaining from taking what is not given, abstaining from sexual misconduct; this, monks, is called right-action.”

“Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammā-ājīvo? Idha, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako micchā-ājīvaṃ pahāya sammā-ājīvena jīvitaṃ kappeti, ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammāājīvo.”

“What, monks, is right-livelihood? Here, monks, a noble disciple, having abandoned wrong-livelihood, earns a living with a right-livelihood; this, monks, is called right-livelihood.”

“Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāvāyāmo? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu anuppan­nānaṃ pāpakānaṃ akusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ anuppādāya chandaṃ janeti vāyamati vīriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati; uppannānaṃ pāpakānaṃ akusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ pahānāya chandaṃ janeti vāyamati vīriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati; anuppannānaṃ kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ uppādāya chandaṃ janeti vāyamati vīriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati; uppannānaṃ kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ ṭhitiyā asammosāya bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya bhāvanāya pāripūriyā chandaṃ janeti vāyamati vīriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammāvāyāmo.”

“What, monks, is right-effort? Here, monks, a monk generates will, stirs up energy, applies his mind, and strives for the non-arising of evil, unwholesome states that have not yet arisen; generates will, stirs up energy, applies his mind, and strives for the abandoning of evil, unwholesome states that have arisen; generates will, stirs up energy, applies his mind, and strives for the arising of wholesome states that have not yet arisen; generates will, stirs up energy, applies his mind, and strives for the maintenance, non-disappearance, and development of wholesome states that have arisen. This, monks, is called right-effort.”

“Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sammāsati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ; vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ; citte cittānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhā­domanassaṃ; dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammāsati.”

“What, monks, is right-mindfulness? Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having overcome covetousness and sorrow concerning the world; he dwell contemplating feelings in feelings, … he dwells contemplating thoughts in thoughts … he dwells contemplating mental objects in mental objects ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome covetousness and sorrow concerning the world. This, monks, is called right-mindfulness.”

“Katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammāsamādhi? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Pītiyā ca virāgā upekkhako ca viharati, sato ca sampajāno, sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedeti, yaṃ taṃ ariyā ācikkhanti ‘Upekkhako satimā sukhavihārī’ti tatiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Sukhassa ca pahānā dukkhassa ca pahānā pubbeva somanassadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamā adukkhamasukhaṃ upekkhāsatipārisuddhiṃ catutthaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammāsamādhi. Idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ.”

“What, monks, is right-concentration? Here, monks, a monk aloof from sensual thoughts, aloof from unwholesome states, attains to and abides in the first absorption with initial application, sustained application, with joy and bliss born of seclusion [from the hindrances]. With the calming of initial and sustained application, with the mind inwardly tranquil he attains to and abides in the second absorption without initial and sustained application, with joy and bliss born of concentration. With the abandoning of pleasure and pain and the extinguishing of the former happiness and sorrow, he attains to and abides in the fourth absorption purified by equanimity and mindfulness. This, monks, is called right-concentration. This monks, is called the noble truth of the path leading to the cessation of suffering.

403. “Iti ajjhattaṃ vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati. Samudayadhammānupassī vā dhammesu viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā dhammesu viharati, samudayavayadhammānupassī vā dhammesu viharati. ‘Atthi dhammā’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. Evampi kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati catūsu ariyasaccesu.”

“Thus he dwells contemplating mental objects internally and externally. While contemplating mental-objects, he is aware that they arise and pass away. His awareness is established that mental-objects exist, but that they are not a being, nor a person, neither a woman nor a man, not a self nor anything pertaining to a self. He does not regard mental-objects as “I”, or “mine,” thus he clings to nothing in the world. Thus, monks, a monk dwells contemplating mental-objects in the for noble truths.”

The above paragraph should be understood in the same way as explained previously.

Saccapabbaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ.

The truths section is complete.

Dhammānupassanā Niṭṭhitā.

The contemplation of mental-objects is complete.

404. “Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, ime cattāro satipaṭṭhāne evaṃ bhāveyya sattavassāni, tassa dvinnaṃ phalānaṃ aññataraṃ phalaṃ pāṭikaṅkhaṃ diṭṭheva dhamme aññā; sati vā upādisese anāgāmitā.”

“Whoever, monks, thus develops these four foundations of mindfulness for seven years can expect one of two fruits — final knowledge in this very life, or if there is any remainder, the attainment of Non-returning.”

This promise made at the end of the discourse has some conditions attached. In saying that one can expect one of two fruits after seven years the words “Evaṃ bhāveyya,” should not be overlooked. “Thus develops” means that if one develops the four foundations of mindfulness ardently, clearly comprehending, and mindfully for seven years, without taking a break, without relinquishing the burden of contemplation. The meditator must also do so “Having overcome covetousness and sorrow concerning the world.” That is, one must practise with the right motivation, not for the sake of achieving fame or fortune, nor for fear of earning a livelihood in the world, but with a sincere and earnest desire to escape from the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra). This promise was made during an era when the living Buddha was present, and when those who practised under his guidance had excellent perfections (pāramī), so the longest it should take would be seven years, while those with superior perfections could expect to attain final knowledge after only one year, seven months, one month, or only seven days. Thus the Blessed One continued to encourage those in the audience:–

“Tiṭṭhantu, bhikkhave, sattavassāni. Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, ime cattāro satipaṭṭhāne evaṃ bhāveyya cha vassāni … … Pañca vassāni … Cattāri vassāni … Tīṇi vassāni. Dve vassāni … Ekaṃ vassaṃ … Tiṭṭhatu, bhikkhave, ekaṃ vassaṃ. Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, ime cattāro satipaṭṭhāne evaṃ bhāveyya sattamāsāni, tassa dvinnaṃ phalānaṃ aññataraṃ phalaṃ pāṭikaṅkhaṃ diṭṭheva dhamme aññā; sati vā upādisese anāgāmitā.”

“Let alone, monks, seven years. Whoever, monks, thus develops these four foundations of mindfulness for six years … five years … four years … three years … two years … one year … Let alone, monks, one year. Whoever, monks, thus develops these four foundations of mindfulness for seven months can expect one of two fruits — final knowledge in this very life, or if there is any remainder, the attainment of Non-returning.”

Seven months is not very long at all if, at the end of it, one would be guaranteed to attain the final goal or at least Non-returning. A student who has finished his or her degree could afford to take a gap year to ordain temporarily as a monk or nun in order to practice seriously for six months or a year. Even if they could not attain the lowest Path of Stream-winning, whatever insights they could gain during that period would surely be of great benefit to establish their morality, concentration, and wisdom for the remainder of their lives.

“Tiṭṭhantu, bhikkhave, satta māsāni. Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, ime cattāro satipaṭṭhāne evaṃ bhāveyya cha māsāni … Pañca māsāni … Cattāri māsāni … Tīṇi māsāni. Dve māsāni … Ekaṃ māsaṃ … Aḍḍhamāsaṃ … Tiṭṭhatu, bhikkhave, aḍḍhamāso. Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, ime cattāro satipaṭṭhāne evaṃ bhāveyya sattāhaṃ, tassa dvinnaṃ phalānaṃ aññataraṃ phalaṃ pāṭikaṅkhaṃ diṭṭheva dhamme aññā; sati vā upādisese anāgāmitāti.”

“Let alone, monks, seven months. Whoever, monks, thus develops these four foundations of mindfulness for six months … five months … four months … three months … two months … one month … half a month … Let alone half a month, monks. Whoever, monks, thus develops these four foundations of mindfulness for seven days can expect one of two fruits — final knowledge in this very life, or if there is any remainder, the attainment of Non-returning.”

The shortest period mentioned here is seven days. Although that is an extremely brief period of practice, I have heard of one meditator who attained to the knowledge of equanimity after only two weeks. A diligent meditator could surely attain some of the lower stages of insight after a few weeks or months of intensive meditation practice.

Those who fail to attain the Path and its Fruition even after a prolonged period of practice may have some obstructive kamma, or they may just be lazy, or clinging to wrong-views. They might also have made a prior determination to attain Buddhahood. Mostly, those intelligent Buddhists who have read thus far must be trainable individuals (neyya). It is very unlikely that a person with only two-root condition rebirth (dvihetu paṭisandhi) would be interested in books like this. Whatever the case may be, no efforts are wasted. The immature perfections will only become mature through the cultivation of the enlightenment factors. The only person who is truly hopeless of attaining anything worthwhile is the lazy person.

405. “Ekāyano ayaṃ, bhikkhave, maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā sokaparidevānaṃ samatikkamāya dukkhadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamāya ñāyassa adhigamāya nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānāti. Iti yaṃ taṃ vuttaṃ, idametaṃ paṭicca vutta”nti. Idamavoca Bhagavā. Attamanā te bhikkhū Bhagavato bhāsitaṃ abhinandunti.

“That is why it was said: ‘This is the only way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the transcendence of grief and lamentation, for the extinguishing of pain and sorrow, for attaining the right method, for the realisation of nibbāna, that is to say the four foundations of mindfulness.’ Thus spoke the Blessed One. Delighting in what the Blessed One had said, the monks rejoiced.

The usual way of showing appreciation at the end of a discourse is by saying “Sādhu: well-said (three times).

Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṃ Niṭṭhitaṃ Navamaṃ.

The greater discourse on the foundations of mindfulness is complete. The ninth.

This marks the end of the ninth discourse in the second book of the long discourses or the end of the tenth discourse in the first book of the middle-length discourses. The Commentary concludes with “Desanāpariyosāne pana tiṃsa bhikkhusahassāni arahatte patiṭṭhahiṃsūti: On the conclusion of the discourse, thirty thousand monks attained to Arahantship.”

Thirty thousand is a large number of monks, not to mention hundreds of thousands of lay people who were also present. No mention is made of nuns. This is unremarkable, as these are just stock passages in the Pāḷi texts that should not be taken literally.

#AnExpositionoftheSatipatthanaSuttaTopNotes

1. Brain (matthaluṅgaṃ) is added in some texts to make 32 body parts. This group is referred to as the “Brain pentad,” in the Visuddhimagga. Thus there are altogether four pentads and two sextads, totalling thirty-two.

2. The skin pentad. 3. The kidneys pentad. 4. The lungs pentad. 5. The brain pentad. 6. The fat sextad.

7. The urine sextad. 8. Vism.249, Path of Purification p.244ff. 9. Vism.347, Path of Purification p.344ff.

10. Sarāgaṃ = lustful, with passion. All types of greedy thoughts should be included here: desire, greed, craving, covetousness, etc.

11. Sadosaṃ = angry. All types of angry thoughts should be included here: ill-will, aversion, hatred, rage, annoyed, frustrated, disappointed, irritated, etc.

12. Samohaṃ = with delusion. All types of deluded thoughts should be included here: confused, conceited, proud, doubtful, etc.

13. Saṅkhittaṃ = contracted, shrinking back from the task, lazy, bored, pessimistic, etc.

14. Vikkhittaṃ = distracted, restless, agitated, excited, upset, perplexed, etc.

15. Mahāggata = lofty, grown great, elevated, as in the absorptions (jhāna).

16. Amahāggata = non-lofty, thoughts connected with the sensual realm.

17. Sa-uttara = inferior, with other thoughts that are superior to it.

18. Samāhitaṃ = composed, concentrated, not scattered. Access concentration or absorption.

19. Vimuttaṃ = liberated, free from defilements. 20. S.v.121, Saṅgārava Sutta. 21. S.v.102, Āhāra Sutta.

22. S.v.106, Āhāra Sutta.

23. S.v.521. ‘‘Idaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ – jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, byādhipi dukkho, maraṇampi dukkhaṃ, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ – saṃkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā.”

24. “Sickness is not included here because no particular person is meant, and there are persons in whom sickness does not arise at all, like the Venerable Bākula; otherwise it may be taken as already included by suffering itself; for in the ultimate sense sickness is bodily pain conditioned by disturbance of elements.” (Vism-mhṭ 527)

25. Sallatha Sutta, S.iv.207.

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