MEDITATION = AWARENESS

by
The Most Ven Dr M Vajiragnana

Introduction | Meditation is Awareness | Techniques | Insight Meditation

CONDENSED VERSION OF SATIPATTHANA SUTTA

  1. The Foundations of Mindfulness
  2. Body
  3. Feelings
  4. Mind
  5. Mental Objects

 

THE FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS

Thus have I heard. The Blessed One was once living among the Kurus, at Kammassadamma, a market town of the Kuru people. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and spoke as follows:

This is the direct way, Bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbana, namely the Four Foundations (four forms of Presence) of Mindfulness. What are the four?

Here a bhikkhu, ardent, clearly comprehending things and mindful, lives observing (the activities of) the body, having overcome covetousness and repugnance towards the world (of body); observing feelings, having overcome covetousness and repugnance towards the world (of feelings);observing (the activities of) the mind, having overcome covetousness and repugnance towards the world (of mind); observing mental objects, having overcome covetousness and repugnance towards the world (of mental objects).

1. BODY - And how does a bhikkhu live observing (the activities of) the body?

[1. Breathing]

Here Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree or to some empty place, sits down, with his legs crossed, keeps his body straight and his mindfulness alert.

Ever mindful he breathes in, and ever mindful he breathes out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows “I am breathing in a long breath”; breathing out a long breath, he knows “I am breathing out a long breath”; breathing in a short breath, he knows “I am breathing in a short breath”; breathing out a short breath, he knows “I am breathing out a short breath”.

“Experiencing the whole (breath-)body, I shall breathe in”: thus he trains himself. “Experiencing the whole (breath-)body, I shall breathe out”: thus he trains himself. “Calming the activity of the (breath-)body, I shall breathe in”: thus he trains himself, “Calming the activity of the (breath-)body, I shall breathe out”: thus he trains himself

Thus he lives observing (the activities of) the body internally, or externally, or both internally and externally. He lives also observing origination-factors in the body, or dissolution-factors in the body, or origination- and dissolution-factors in the body. Or his mindfulness is established to the extent necessary just for knowledge and awareness that the body exists and he lives unattached, and clings to naught in the world. In this way Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing (the activities of) the body.

[2. Postures of the Body

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu knows when he is going, “I am going”. He knows when he is standing, >“I am standing”. He knows when he is sitting, “I am sitting”. He knows when he is lying down, “I am lying down”. Or he knows just how his body is disposed.

Thus he lives observing (the activities of) the body internally, or externally.......

[3. Full Attention ]

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu applies full attention either in going forward or back; in looking straight on or looking away; in bending or in stretching; in wearing robes or carrying the bowl; in eating, drinking, chewing or savouring; in attending to the calls of nature; in walking, in standing, in sitting; in falling asleep, in waking; in speaking or keeping silence. In all these he applies full attention.

Thus he lives observing (the activities of) the body.

[4. Repulsiveness of the Body]

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reflects on this very body enveloped by the skin and full of manifold impurity, from the sole up, and from the top of the hair down, thinking thus: “There are in this body hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, midriff, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, stomach, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid, urine”.

Just as if there were a double-mouthed provision-bag full of various kinds of grain such as hill paddy, paddy, green gram, cow-peas, sesamum and husked rice, and a man with sound eyes, having opened that bag, were to reflect thus: This is hill paddy, this is paddy, this is green gram, this is cow-pea, this is sesamum, this is husked rice. Just so, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reflects on this very body enveloped by the skin and full of manifold impurity, from the sole up, and from the top of the hair down, thinking thus: There are in this body hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth..... synovial fluid, urine.

Thus he lives observing the body.......

[5. Material Elements ]

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reflects on this very body, as it is, and it is constituted, by way of the material elements: “There are in this body the element of earth, the element of water, the element of fire, the element of wind”.

Just as if, Bhikkhus, a clever cow-butcher or his apprentice, having slaughtered a cow and divided it into portions, would be sitting at the junction of four high roads; in the same way, a bhikkhu reflects on this very body, as it is, and it is constituted, by way of the material elements: “There are in this body the elements of earth, water, fire and wind”.

Thus he lives observing the body.......

[ 6. Nine Cemetery Objects ]

(1) And further, Bhikkhus, just as a bhikkhu sees a body dead one, two, or three days swollen, blue and festering, thrown onto the cemetery, so he applies this perception to his own body thus: “Verily, my own body, too, is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it”.

Thus he lives observing the body.....

(2) And further, Bhikkhus, just as a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery, being eaten by crows, hawks, vultures, dogs, jackals or by different kinds of worms, so he applies this perception to his own body thus: “Verily, my own body, too, is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it”.

Thus he lives observing the body.....

(3) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to a skeleton with some flesh and blood attached to it, held together by the tendons......

(4) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to a skeleton, blood­besmeared and without flesh, held together by the tendons......

(5) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to a skeleton, without flesh and blood, held together by the tendons......

(6) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to disconnected bones, scattered in all directions - here a bone of the hand, there a bone of the foot, a shin bone, a thigh bone, the pelvis, spine and skull......

(7) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to bleached bones of conch-like colour.....

(8) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to bones, more than a year old, lying in a heap......

(9) And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu sees a body thrown onto the cemetery reduced to bones, rotten and become dust. . . .so he applies this perception to his own body thus: “Verily, my own body, too, is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it”.

Thus he lives observing the body.......

2. FEELINGS

And how Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live observing feelings?

Here, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu when experiencing a pleasant feeling knows: “I experience a pleasant feeling”; when experiencing a painful feeling, he knows: “I experience a painful feeling”; when experiencing a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, he knows: “I experience a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling”. When experiencing a pleasant worldly feeling, he knows: “I experience a pleasant worldly feeling”; when experiencing a pleasant spiritual feeling, he knows: “I experience a pleasant spiritual feeling”; when experiencing a painful worldly feeling, he knows: “I experience a painful worldly feeling”; when experiencing a painful spiritual feeling, he knows: “I experience a painful spiritual feeling”; when experiencing a neither-pleasant-nor-painful worldly feeling, he knows: “I experience a neither-pleasant-nor-painful worldly feeling”; when experiencing a neither-pleasant-nor-painful spiritual feeling, he knows: “I experience a neither-pleasant-nor-painful spiritual feeling”.

He lives in this way observing feelings internally,... or externally, or.... internally and externally. He lives observing origination-factors in feelings, or dissolution-factors in feelings, or origination- and dissolution-factors in feelings. Or his mindfulness is established to the extent necessary just for knowledge and awareness that feeling exists, and he lives unattached, and clings to naught in the world. In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing feelings.

3. MIND

And how, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live observing mind?

Here, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu knows the mind with lust, as being with lust; the mind without lust, as being without lust; the mind with hate, as being with hate; the mind without hate, as being without hate; the mind with ignorance, as being with ignorance; the mind without ignorance, as being without ignorance; the shrunken state of mind as the shrunken state; the distracted state of mind as the distracted state; the developed state of mind as the developed state; the undeveloped state of mind as the undeveloped state; the state of mind with some other mental state superior to it, as being the state with something mentally superior to it; the state of mind with no other mental state superior to it, as being the state of mind with no other mental state superior to it; the concentrated state of mind as the concentrated state; the unconcentrated state of mind as the unconcentrated state; the liberated state of mind as the liberated state; and the unliberated state of mind as the unliberated state.

He lives in this way observing the mind internally, or externally, or internally and externally.

He lives observing origination-factors in mind, or dissolution-factors in mind, or origination and dissolution factors in mind. Or his mindfulness is established to the extent necessary just for knowledge and awareness that mind exists, and he lives unattached, and clings to naught in the world. In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing mind.

4. MENTAL OBJECTS

And how, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live observing mental objects?

[ Five Hindrances ]

Here, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing the Five Hindrances as mental objects.
And how, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live observing the Five Hindrances as mental objects?

(1) Here, Bhikkhus, when sense-desire is present, a bhikkhu knows: “Sense-desire is in me”, or when sense­desire is not present, he knows: “There is no sense­desire in me”. He knows how the non-arisen sense-desire arises; he knows how the arisen sense-desire disappears; and he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sense-desire comes to be.

(2) When anger is present, he knows: “Anger is in me”....

(3) When torpor and languor are present, he knows: “Torpor and languor are in me”....

(4) When restlessness and worry are present, he knows: “Restlessness and worry are in me”....

(5) When doubt is present, he knows: “Doubt is in me”, or when doubt is not present, he knows: “There is no doubt in me”. He knows how the non-arisen doubt arises; he knows how the arisen doubt disappears; and he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned doubt comes to be.

In this way he lives observing mental objects internally, or externally, or internally and externally. He lives observing origination-factors in mental objects, or dissolution-factors in mental objects, or origination-and dissolution-factors in mental objects. Or his mindfulness is established to the extent necessary just for knowledge and awareness that mental objects exist, and he lives unattached, and clings to naught in the world. In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing the five hindrances as mental objects.

[ Five Aggregates ]

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing the five aggregates of clinging as mental objects.

And how, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live observing the five aggregates of clinging as mental objects?

Here, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu thinks: Thus is material form; it arises in this way; and it disappears in this way. Thus is feeling; it arises in this way; and it disappears in this way. Thus is perception; it arises in this way; and it disappears in this way. Thus are mental formations; they arise in this way; and they disappear in this way. Thus is consciousness; it arises in this way; and it disappears in this way.

Thus he lives contemplating mental objects internally, etc. In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the five aggregates of clinging as mental objects.

[ Six Sense-Bases

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the six internal and the six external sense-bases as mental objects.

How, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live contemplating the six internal and the six external sense-bases as mental objects?

Here, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu knows the eye and visual forms, and the fetter that arises dependent on both (the eye and forms); he knows how the non-arisen fetter arises; he knows how the arisen fetter disappears; and he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be.

He knows the ear and sounds......the nose and smells...... the tongue and flavours...... the body and tangible objects....the mind and mental objects, and the fetter that arises dependent on both; he knows how the non-arisen fetter arises; he knows how the arisen fetter disappears; and he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be.

In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating mental objects internally, etc...... In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the six internal and six external sense-bases as mental objects.

[ Seven Factors of Enlightenment ]

And further, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhus lives observing the Seven Factors of Enlightenment as mental objects.

How, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live observing the Seven Factors of Enlightenment as mental objects?

(1) Here, Bhikkhus, when the Enlightenment-factor of Mindfulness is present, the bhikkhu knows:

“The Enlightenment-factor of Mindfulness is in me”; or when the Enlightenment-factor of Mindfulness is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Mindfulness is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of Mindfulness arises; and how the perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of Mindfulness comes to be.

(2) When the Enlightenment-factor of the Investigation of mental objects is present, the bhikkhu knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of the Investigation of mental objects is in me”; when the Enlightenment-factor of the Investigation of mental objects is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of the Investigation of mental objects is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of the Investigation of mental objects arises and how perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of the Investigation of mental objects comes to be.

(3) When the Enlightenment-factor of Energy is present, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Energy is in me”; when the Enlightenment-factor of Energy is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Energy is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of Energy arises, and how perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of Energy comes to be.

(4) When the Enlightenment-factor of Joy is present, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Joy is in me”; when the Enlightenment-factor of Joy is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Joy is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of Joy arises, and how perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of Joy comes to be.

(5) When the Enlightenment-factor of Relaxation (of body and mind) is present, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Relaxation is in me”; when the Enlightenment-factor of Relaxation is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Relaxation is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of Relaxation arises, and how perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of Relaxation comes to be.

(6) When the Enlightenment-factor of Concentration is present, he knows: “The Enlightenment­factor of Concentration is in me”; when the Enlightenment-factor of Concentration is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Concentration is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of Concentration arises, and how perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of Concentration comes to be.

(7) When the Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity is present, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity is in me”; when the Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity is absent, he knows: “The Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity is not in me”; and he knows how the non-arisen Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity arises, and how perfection in the development of the arisen Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity comes to be.

Thus he lives observing mental objects internally, etc...... Thus, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives observing the Seven Factors of Enlightenment as mental objects.

[ Four Noble Truths ]

And further Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the Four Noble Truths as mental objects.

How, Bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live contemplating the Four Noble Truths as mental objects?

Here, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu knows, “This is Dukkha(suffering)”, according to reality; he knows, “This is the origin of Dukkha” according to reality; he knows, “This is the Cessation of Dukkha” , according to reality; he knows, “This is the Path leading to the Cessation of Dukkha”,according to reality.

Thus he lives contemplating mental objects internally, etc...... In this way, Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu lives contemplating the Four Noble Truths as mental objects.

Bhikkhus, whosoever practises these four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: Highest Knowledge (Arahantship), here and now, or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of Non-returning.

Bhikkhus, let alone seven years. Should any person practise these four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for six years....for five years.... four years..... three years.....two years...... one year, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: Highest Knowledge, here and now, or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of Non-returning.

Bhikkhus, let alone a year. Should any person practise these four Foundations of Mindfulness in this manner for seven months… for six months… five months… four months… three months… two months…. a month…half a month, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: Highest Knowledge, here and now, or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of Non-returning.

Bhikkhus, let alone half a month. Should any person practise these four Foundations of Mindfulness, in this manner, for a week, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: Highest Knowledge, here and now, or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of Non-returning.

Because of this was it said: “This is the direct way, Bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbana, namely the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.”

This the Blessed One said. Satisfied, the Bhikkhus rejoiced at his words.

(Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta no.10)





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my deepest appreciation and sincere gratitude to Joe Upton and Richard Jones for their valuable suggestions and for editing my notes.

Also my acknowledgements and thanks are due to Venerable Bodagama Chandima Thera and The Corporal Body of The Buddha Educational Foundation, Taipei for printing the book.

M.Vajiragnana

London Buddhist Vihara,
Dharmapala Building
The Avenue
Chiswick
London W4 1UD.

September, 1995

Most Ven Dr M Vajiragnana was the former head of the London buddhist Vihara.
He passed away on 15 December 2006.

Note: This booklet is available from
the London Buddhist Vihara