Satipatthana Sutta

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The Satipatthana Sutta (P. Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta; C. Nianchu jing), or the Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, is generally regarded as the canonical Buddhist text with the fullest instructions on training in mindfullness (Satipatthana).[1]

According to Bhikkhu Bodhi: "The practice of Satipatthana meditation centers on the methodical cultivation of one simple mental faculty readily available to all of us at any moment. This is the faculty of mindfulness, the capacity for attending to the content of our experience as it becomes manifest in the immediate present."[1]

The title has been translated into English as:

  • Mindfulness Meditation (Sujato)
  • Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness (Bodhi)
  • The Discourse on the Arousing of Mindfulness (Soma Thera)

Text

Pali Canon

This sutta is included the the Majjhima Nikaya of the Pali Canon. The sutta is identified within the canon as:

  • MN 10
  • DN 22

SuttaCentral identifies parallel sections of text within other suttas of the Pali Canon.[2]

Chinese Canon

SuttaCentral identifies several parallel texts within the Chinese Canon.[2]

Translations into English

Translations from Pali:

Translation from SuttaCentral

This translation of the text Mindfulness Meditation (MN 10) is published by SuttaCentral under license CC0 1.0. Translation by Bhikkhu Sujato. SuttaCentral icon square 170px.png

<poem style="border: 2px solid #d6d2c5; background-color: #f9f4e6; padding: 1em;"> Mindfulness Meditation (MN 10)

SO I HAVE HEARD. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kurus, near the Kuru town named Kammāsadamma. There the Buddha addressed the mendicants, “Mendicants!”

“Venerable sir,” they replied. The Buddha said this:

“Mendicants, the four kinds of mindfulness meditation are the path to convergence. They are in order to purify sentient beings, to get past sorrow and crying, to make an end of pain and sadness, to end the cycle of suffering, and to realize extinguishment.

What four? It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.


1. Observing the Body 1.1. Mindfulness of Breathing And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of the body?

It’s when a mendicant—gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut—sits down cross-legged, with their body straight, and focuses their mindfulness right there. Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.

When breathing in heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ When breathing out heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’

When breathing in lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ When breathing out lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’

They practice breathing in experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing out experiencing the whole body.

They practice breathing in stilling the body’s motion. They practice breathing out stilling the body’s motion.

It’s like a deft carpenter or carpenter’s apprentice. When making a deep cut they know: ‘I’m making a deep cut,’ and when making a shallow cut they know: ‘I’m making a shallow cut.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.


1.2. The Postures Furthermore, when a mendicant is walking they know: ‘I am walking.’ When standing they know: ‘I am standing.’ When sitting they know: ‘I am sitting.’ And when lying down they know: ‘I am lying down.’ Whatever posture their body is in, they know it.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.


1.3. Situational Awareness Furthermore, a mendicant acts with situational awareness when going out and coming back; when looking ahead and aside; when bending and extending the limbs; when bearing the outer robe, bowl and robes; when eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting; when urinating and defecating; when walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, and keeping silent.

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally …

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.


1.4. Focusing on the Repulsive Furthermore, a mendicant examines their own body, up from the soles of the feet and down from the tips of the hairs, wrapped in skin and full of many kinds of filth. ‘In this body there is head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, undigested food, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, snot, synovial fluid, urine.’

It’s as if there were a bag with openings at both ends, filled with various kinds of grains, such as fine rice, wheat, mung beans, peas, sesame, and ordinary rice. And someone with good eyesight were to open it and examine the contents: ‘These grains are fine rice, these are wheat, these are mung beans, these are peas, these are sesame, and these are ordinary rice.’


And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally …

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.


1.5. Focusing on the Elements Furthermore, a mendicant examines their own body, whatever its placement or posture, according to the elements: ‘In this body there is the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’

It’s as if a deft butcher or butcher’s apprentice were to kill a cow and sit down at the crossroads with the meat cut into portions.


And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally …

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.


1.6. The Charnel Ground Contemplations Furthermore, suppose a mendicant were to see a corpse discarded in a charnel ground. And it had been dead for one, two, or three days, bloated, livid, and festering. They’d compare it with their own body: ‘This body is also of that same nature, that same kind, and cannot go beyond that.’

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

Furthermore, suppose they were to see a corpse discarded in a charnel ground being devoured by crows, hawks, vultures, herons, dogs, tigers, leopards, jackals, and many kinds of little creatures. They’d compare it with their own body: ‘This body is also of that same nature, that same kind, and cannot go beyond that.’

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.

Furthermore, suppose they were to see a corpse discarded in a charnel ground, a skeleton with flesh and blood, held together by sinews …

A skeleton without flesh but smeared with blood, and held together by sinews …

A skeleton rid of flesh and blood, held together by sinews …

Bones rid of sinews scattered in every direction. Here a hand-bone, there a foot-bone, here a shin-bone, there a thigh-bone, here a hip-bone, there a rib-bone, here a back-bone, there an arm-bone, here a neck-bone, there a jaw-bone, here a tooth, there the skull …

White bones, the color of shells …

Decrepit bones, heaped in a pile …

Bones rotted and crumbled to powder. They’d compare it with their own body: ‘This body is also of that same nature, that same kind, and cannot go beyond that.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That too is how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body.


2. Observing the Feelings And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of feelings?

It’s when a mendicant who feels a pleasant feeling knows: ‘I feel a pleasant feelin

See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Access to insight icon 50px.png The Way of Mindfulness, Message from Bhikkhu Bodhi, Access to Insight
  2. 2.0 2.1 SuttaCentral icon square 170px.png Mindfulness Meditation, SuttaCentral; click down-arrow to view "parallel texts"
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