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Satipatthana (Pali: satipaṭṭhāna; S. smṛtyupasthāna; T. dran pa nye bar bzhag pa; C. nianchu; J. nenjo), or Foundations of Mindfulness, is a method of establishing (upatthāna) mindfulness (sati) as described in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. This method is commonly referred to as the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
In this method, mindfulness is applied to four domains:
- mindfulness of the body,
- mindfulness of feelings/sensations
- mindfulness of consciousness
- mindfulness of dhammās
Bhikkhu Bodhi states:
- 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. What the Buddha shows in the [Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta] is the tremendous, but generally hidden, power inherent in this simple mental function, a power that can unfold all the mind's potentials culminating in final deliverance from suffering.
This practice, enumerated as four factors, is included in the Thirty-seven factors of enlightenment.
Satipaṭṭhāna is a compound term that has been parsed (and thus translated) in two ways, namely Sati-paṭṭhāna and Sati-upaṭṭhāna. The separate terms can be translated as follows:
- Sati - Pali; Sanskrit smṛti. Smṛti originally meant "to remember," "to recollect," "to bear in mind," as in the Vedic tradition of remembering the sacred texts. The term sati also means "to remember." In the Satipațțhāna-sutta the term sati means to remember the wholesome dhammās, whereby the true nature of phenomena can be seen, such as the five faculties, the five powers, the seven awakening-factors, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the attainment of insight.
- Upaṭṭhāna (Sanskrit: upasthāna) - "attendance, waiting on, looking after, service, care, ministering"[web 1]
- Paṭṭhāna - "setting forth, putting forward;" in later Buddhist literature also "origin," "starting point," "cause."[web 2]
The compound terms have been translated as follows:
- Sati-upaṭṭhāna - "presence of mindfulness" or "establishment of mindfulness" or "arousing of mindfulness," underscoring the mental qualities co-existent with or antecedent to mindfulness.
- Sati-paṭṭhāna - "foundation of mindfulness," underscoring the object used to gain mindfulness.
While the latter parsing and translation is more traditional, the former has been given etymological and contextual authority by contemporary Buddhist scholars such as Bhikkhu Analayo and Bhikkhu Bodhi.[note 1]
Anālayo argues from an etymological standpoint that, while "foundation [paṭṭhāna] of mindfulness" is supported by the Pāli commentary, the term paṭṭhāna (foundation) was otherwise unused in the Pāli nikayas and is only first used in the Abhidhamma. In contrast, the term upaṭṭhāna (presence or establishment) can in fact be found throughout the nikayas and is readily visible in the Sanskrit equivalents of the compound Pāli phrase satipaṭṭhāna (Skt., smṛtyupasthāna or smṛti-upasthāna). Thus Anālayo states that "presence of mindfulness" (as opposed to "foundation of mindfulness") is more likely to be etymologically correct.
Like Anālayo, Bodhi assesses that "establishment [upaṭṭhāna] of mindfulness" is the preferred translation. However, Bodhi's analysis is more contextual than Anālayo's. According to Bodhi, while "establishment of mindfulness" is normally supported by the textual context, there are exceptions to this rule, such as with SN 47.42[note 2] where a translation of "foundation of mindfulness" is best supported. Soma uses both "foundations of mindfulness" and "arousing of mindfulness."
Four domains or aspects
Traditionally, mindfulness is thought to be applied to four domains, "constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths." The four domains are:
- mindfulness of the body;[web 3]
- mindfulness of feelings or sensations (vedanā);
- mindfulness of mind or consciousness (citta); and
- mindfulness of dhammās.
Mindfulness of dhammas
"Dhammā" is often translated as "mental objects". According to Anālayo translating dhamma as "mental object" is problematic for multiple reasons. The three prior satipatthāna (body, sensations, mind) can become mental objects in themselves, and those objects, such as the hindrances, aggregates and sense bases, identified under the term dhamma are far from an exhaustive list of all possible mental objects. Anālayo translates dhammā as "mental factors and categories," "classificatory schemes," and "frameworks or points of reference to be applied during contemplation".
Anālayo quotes Gyori as stating that contemplation of these dhammā "are specifically intended to invest the mind with a soteriological orientation." He further quotes Gombrich as writing that contemplating these dhammā teaches one "to see the world through Buddhist spectacles."
Within Buddhist teachings
In the Satipatthana Sutta the term sati means to remember the dharmas, whereby the true nature of phenomena can be seen. According to Paul Williams, referring to Erich Frauwallner, mindfulness provided the way to liberation, "constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths."[note 3] According to Vetter, dhyāna may have been the original core practice of the Buddha, which aided the maintenance of mindfulness.
The four foundations of mindfulness are one of the seven sets of "states conducive to enlightenment" (Pāli bodhipakkhiyādhammā) identified in many schools of Buddhism as means for progressing toward bodhi (awakening). In the Noble Eightfold Path, they are included in sammā-sati and, less directly, sammā-samādhi. Sati is recommended as a "one-way path" for the purification from unwholesome factors, and the realization of Nibbana.[note 4]
In the Pāli Canon, this framework for systematically cultivating mindful awareness can be found in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta ("Greater Discourse on the Foundation of Mindfulness," DN 22); the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta ("Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness," MN 10), and throughout the Satipaṭṭhāna-samyutta (SN, Chapter 47). The Satipaṭṭhāna-samyutta itself contains 104 of the Buddha's discourses on the satipaṭṭhānas including two popular discourses delivered to the townspeople of Sedaka, "the Acrobat"[web 4] and "the Beauty Queen".[web 5]
The Sutta Pitaka contains texts in which The Buddha is said to refer to the fourfold establishment of mindfulness as a "direct" or "one-way path" for purification and the realisation of nirvana.[note 5]
The Chinese Tripitaka also contains two parallels to the Satipatthana sutta; Madhyama Āgama No. 26 and Ekottara Agama 12.1. The four foundations of mindfulness are also treated in various Abhidharma works in the major Buddhist traditions such as the Abhidharmakosha, the Yogacarabhumi-sastra and the Visuddhimagga.
- For the traditional use of the translation, "foundations [paṭṭhānā] of mindfulness," see, e.g., Gunaratana (2012) and U Silananda (2002). For appraisals supporting the parsing of the suffix as upaṭṭhāna, see, e.g., Anālayo (2006), pp. 29-30; and, Bodhi (2000), p. 1504.
- pp. 1660, 1928 n. 180
- Frauwallner, E. (1973), History of Indian Philosophy, trans. V.M. Bedekar, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Two volumes., pp.150 ff
- "Bhikkhus, this is the one-way path for the purification of beings,
- for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation,
- for the passing away of pain and displeasure,
- for the achievement of the method,[subnote 1]
- for the realization of Nibbāna,
- that is, the four establishments of mindfulness.[subnote 2] The wholesome establishments of mindfulness are contrasted with the unwholesome qualities of the five strands of sensuality, namely pleasant sensations from the eye, the ear, the tongue and the body.
- See the Satipatthana sutta (MN 10; DN 22); as well as SN 47.1, 47.18 and 47.43. These five discourses are the only canonical sources for the phrase, "ekāyano ... maggo" (with this specific declension).
The Pāli phrase "ekāyano ... maggo'" has been translated as:
- "direct path" (Bodhi & Gunaratana, 2012, p. 12; Nanamoli & Bodhi, 1995; Thanissaro, 2008)
- "one-way path"(Bodhi, 2000, pp. 1627-8, 1647-8, 1661)
- "the only way" (Nyanasatta, 2004; Soma, 1941/2003)
- "the one and only way" (Vipassana Research Institute, 1996, pp. 2, 3)
- Bodhi (2000, SN 47 n. 123, Kindle Loc. 35147) notes: "Spk [the commentary to the Samyutta Nikaya] explains the 'method' (ñāya) as the Noble Eightfold Path...."
- SN 47.1 (Bodhi, 2000, p. 1627). Also see DN 22, MN 10, SN 47.18 and SN 47.43.
- The Way of Mindfulness, Access to Insight
- Sharf 2014, p. 942.
- Sharf 2014, p. 942-943.
- Anālayo (2006), pp. 29-30
- Bodhi (2000), p. 1504
- Soma (1941/2003)
- Williams 2000, p. 46.
- Kuan 2008, p. i, 9, 81.
- (Pāli: kāya-sati, kāyagatā-sati; Skt. kāya-smṛti)
- (Pāli vedanā-sati; Skt. vedanā-smṛti)
- (Pāli citta-sati; Skt. citta-smṛti)
- (Pāli dhammā-sati; Skt. dharma-smṛti)
- Anālayo 2006, pp. 182-86
- Anālayo 2006 p. 183
- Anālayo 2006 p. 183, nn. 2, 3
- Gyori 1996, p. 24
- Gombrich 1996, p. 36
- Vetter 1988.
- SN 47.6 (Thanissaro, 1997) and SN 47.7 (Olendzki, 2005).
- Samyutta Nikaya, Ch. 47. See Bodhi (2000), pp. 1627ff.
- Gombrich, Richard F. (1996). How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings. Cited in Anālayo (2006). London: Athlone Press. ISBN 0-415-37123-6.
- Gyori, Thomas I. (1996). The Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipatthāna) as a Microcosm of the Theravāda Buddhist World View (M.A. dissertation). Cited in Anālayo (2006). Washington: American University.
- Kuan, Tse-fu (2008), Mindfulness in Early Buddhism: New Approaches through Psychology and Textual Analysis of Pāli, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-43737-7
- Sharf, Robert (2014), "Mindfulness and Mindlessness in Early Chan" (PDF), Philosophy Est & West, Volume 64, Number4, October 2014, pp. 933-964
- Williams, Paul; Tribe, Anthony (2000), Buddhist Thought, Routledge
- Vetter, Tilmann (1988), The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, BRILL
- The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary, Upaṭṭhāna
- The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary, Paṭṭhāna
- Salient sections of the Pāli canon on kāya-sati (kāya-gatā-sati): http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/g_m/kaaya_gata_sati.htm
- The Acrobat, Thanissaro, 1997a
- The Beauty Queen, Thanissaro, 1997b
- Anālayo (2006). Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications. ISBN 1-899579-54-0
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-168-8.
- Gunaratana (2012). The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English. Boston: Wisdom Pub. ISBN 978-1-61429-038-4.
- Nanamoli, Bhikkhu and Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.) (1995), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. Somerville: Wisdom Pubs ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
- Nhat Hanh, Thich (trans. Annabel Laity) (2005). Transformation and Healing : Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness . Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press. ISBN 0-938077-34-1.
- Nyanasatta Thera (2004). Satipatthana Sutta: The Foundations of Mindfulness (MN 10). Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.nysa.html.
- Nyanaponika Thera (1954). The Heart of Buddhist Meditation.
- Olendzki, Andrew (2005). Makkata Sutta: The Foolish Monkey (SN 47.7). Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.007.olen.html.
- Silananda (2002). The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Boston: Wisdom Pub. ISBN 0-86171-328-1.
- Soma Thera (1941; 6th ed. 2003). The Way of Mindfulness. Kandy: BPS. ISBN 955-24-0256-5. Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wayof.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997). Sakunagghi Sutta (The Hawk) (SN 47.6). Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.006.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997a). Sedaka Sutta: At Sedaka (The Acrobat) (SN 47.19). Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.019.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997b). Sedaka Sutta: At Sedaka (The Beauty Queen) (SN 47.20). Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.020.than.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2008). Satipatthana Sutta: Frames of Reference (MN 10). Available at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.010.than.html.
- Vipassana Research Institute (trans.) (1996). Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta: The Great Discourse on Establishing Mindfulness. Seattle, WA: Vipassana Research Publications of America. ISBN 0-9649484-0-0.
- Polak, Grzegorz (2011), Reexamining Jhana: Towards a Critical Reconstruction of Early Buddhist Soteriology, UMCS
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Satipatthana|
- Agendas of Mindfulness, Dhammatalks.org
- Satipaṭṭhāna-related discourses in the Pāli Canon:
- Commentary on the Satipatthana sutta
- Link to free online class on Satipaṭṭhāna given by Sayadaw U Silananda
- "Satipatthana Vipassana" or "Insight through Mindfulness," by Mahasi Sayadaw
- Global Online Satipatthana Recitation
- Saddhamma Foundation Information about practicing Satipatthana meditation.
- The Four Foundations of Mindfulness - from the Satipatthana Sutta: D.22
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