The Mahasatipatthana Sutta, recited by Ananda at the First Buddhist council.
The four frames of reference (4): body, sensation, mind and mental qualities.
Observation of the body (6): breathing, posture, alertness, repulsiveness, primary elements, and the nine kinds of corpses.
The nine kinds of corpses (9): few days dead, eaten by animals; skeleton with flesh and tendons; skeleton with blood, but no flesh, held by tendons; skeleton with no blood and no flesh, held by tendons; scattered bones; bleached bones; old bones piled in a heap; reduced to dust.
Observation of sensations (6): pleasant with attachment, pleasant without attachment, unpleasant with attachment, unpleasant without attachment, neutral with attachment, neutral without attachment.
Observation of mind (8): craving/free from craving, aversion/free from aversion, delusion/free from delusion, scattered/collected, undeveloped/developed, inferior/superior, not concentrated/concentrated, not liberated/liberated.
Observation of mental qualities…
Five hinderances (5): sense desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, agitation and remorse, uncertainty.
Five aggregates (5): physical phenomenon, sensation, perception, mental formations, consciousness.
Six sense bases (6): eye/visible objects, ear/sounds, nose/odors, tongue/tastes, body/touch, mind/mental contents.
Seven factors of enlightenment (7): mindfulness, discrimination, effort, rapture, serenity, concentration, equanimity.
Four noble truths (4): suffering, origin of suffering, cessation of suffering, path to cessation.
Eightfold path (8): understanding, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration.
The Four Methods Of Establishing Mindfulness
This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding — in other words, the four frames of reference. Which four?
- Mental Qualities
The Body In And Of Itself
Thus he dwells observing the phenomenon of arising in the body, thus he dwells observing the phenomenon of passing away in the body, thus he dwells observing the phenomenon of arising and passing away in the body.
Awareness of breath, as it is, deep or shallow, fully conscious of the entire breath, feeling the whole body, letting agitation in the body die down.
When he gains more concentration, he perceives the cause and the actual appearing of the aggregate of physical phenomena which is the body. He also perceives the cause and the actual dissolution of the aggregate of physical phenomena which is the body. He also perceives both the actual appearing and the actual dissolution of the aggregate of physical phenomena which is the body, with their causes.
Walking, standing, sitting, lying down. Awareness of the body as it is, internally and externally. Perceiving the arising and passing away of the aggregate physical phenomena that make up the body. Remaining detached from clinging and wrong views.
Thus he develops his awareness to such an extent that there is mere understanding along with mere awareness. In this way he dwells detached, without clinging towards anything in the world of mind and matter. This is how, monks, a monk dwells observing body in body.
In all activities and all parts of daily life, diligently maintaining alert awareness of the arising and passing away of the aggregate physical phenomena that make up the body.
A monk reflects on this very body, that is covered with skin and full of impurities of all kinds from the soles of the feet upwards and from the hair of the head downwards, considering thus: “In this body, there are hairs of the head, hairs of the skin, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidney, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, stomach with its contents, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid and urine.
Reflecting on the individual constituents of the body: organs, fluids, fat, bones, stomach contents, hair, teeth, nails, skin… understanding the body is not thing in itself, but is a collection of displeasing and unattractive parts.
Just as if, monks, a skilful cow-butcher or his apprentice, after having slaughtered a cow and having divided it into portions, would sit down at the junction of four roads; in the same way, monks, a monk reflects on this very body, however it is placed or disposed, considering the material elements: “In this body, there is the earth-element, the water-element, the fire-element and the air-element.
Reflect on the body as a composition of earth element, water element, fire element, and wind element.
Nine Kinds Of Corpses
And further, the bhikkhu is firmly mindful of the fact that there is only the aggregate of physical phenomena. That mindfulness is solely for gaining insights progressively, solely for gaining further mindfulness stage by stage. The bhikkhu remains detached from craving and wrong views, without clinging to any of the five khandhas that are continuously deteriorating. Bhikkhus, it is in this way that the bhikkhu keeps his mind steadfastly on the body perceiving its true nature.
Reflecting on corpses and knowing that one's own body is of the same nature.
- A corpse a few days dead, swollen and blue.
- A corpse eaten by animals
- A corpse reduced to a skeleton, with some flesh still, held together by tendons.
- A corpse reduced to a skeleton, with no flesh left, but smeared with blood, held together by tendons.
- A corpse reduced to a skeleton, no flesh or blood left, held together by tendons.
- A corpse reduced to scattered bones.
- A corpse reduced to bleached bones.
- A corpse reduced to old bones piled up in a heap.
- A corpse reduced to dust.
Sensation In And Of Itself
Here, monks, a monk, while experiencing a pleasant sensation, understands properly, “I am experiencing a pleasant sensation”; while experiencing an unpleasant sensation, he understands properly, “I am experiencing an unpleasant sensation”…
Awareness of the arising and passing away of sensations, and their causes. Understanding that there is just sensation in and of itself.
- Pleasant sensation with attachment
- Pleasant sensation without attachment
- Unpleasant sensation with attachment
- Unpleasant sensation without attachment
- Neutral sensation with attachment
- Neutral sensation without attachment
Mind In And Of Itself
Or his mindfulness that ‘There is a mind’ is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself.
Awareness of the arising and passing away in the mind. Understanding that there is just mind in and of itself.
- The mind has craving or is free from craving
- The mind has aversion or is free from aversion
- The mind has delusion or is free from delusion
- The mind is scattered or is collected
- The mind is undeveloped or is developed
- The mind is inferior or is superior
- The mind is not concentrated or is concentrated
- The mind is not liberated or is liberated
Mental Qualities In And Of Themselves
Bhikkhus, when sense-desire is present in him, the bhikkhu following my Teaching knows, ‘There is sense-desire in me’; or when sense-desire is not present in him, he knows, ‘There is no sense-desire in me’. Besides, he knows how the sense-desire which has not yet arisen comes to arise; and he knows that the sense-desire that has arisen comes to be discarded; and he knows that the discarded sense-desire will not arise in the future.
- Sense desire
- Ill will
- Sloth and torpor
- Agitation and remorse
In this way he remains focused internally on the mental qualities in & of themselves, or focused externally… unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves with reference to the five clinging-aggregates.
- Physical phenomenon
- Mental formations
Six Sense Bases
Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu following my Teaching is conscious of the eye, is also conscious of visible objects, and knows any fetter that arises dependent on both the eye and the visible object. Besides, he knows how a fetter which has not yet arisen comes to arise; and he knows that the fetter that has arisen comes to be discarded; and he knows that the discarded fetter will not arise in the future.
- The eye and visible object
- The ear and sounds
- The nose and odors
- The tongue and tastes
- The body and touch
- The mind and contents of the mind
Seven Factors Of Enlightenment
And again, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu keeps his mind steadfastly on the mental phenomena of the seven enlightenment factors, and perceives that they are just phenomena without any entity or soul. And, bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu keep his mind steadfastly on the seven bojjhanga, and perceive their soulless nature?
Four Noble Truths
Bhikkhus, the bhikkhu following my Teaching knows ‘This is dukkha’ as it really is; he knows ‘This is the origin of dukkha’ as it really is; he knows ‘This is the cessation of dukkha’ as it really is; he knows ‘This is the practice of the Path leading to the cessation of dukkha’ as it really is.
Now what is the noble truth of stress? Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful; separation from the loved is stressful; not getting what one wants is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.
- Origin Of Suffering
- Cessation Of Suffering
- Path To Cessation
The Path To Cessation
And what is the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress? Just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
- Right Understanding
- Right Intention
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
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