SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

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SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:59 am

SN 47.1 Ambapālī

Bhikkhu Bodhi Translation


Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in Ambapālī’s Grove. There the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus!”[122]

“Venerable sir!” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:

“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, for the realization of Nibbāna, that is, the four establishments of mindfulness.[123] What four?

“Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.[124] He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

“This, bhikkhus, 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, for the realization of Nibbāna, that is, the four establishments of mindfulness.”

This is what the Blessed One said. Elated, those bhikkhus delighted in the Blessed One’s statement.


Notes

[122] What follows is the uddesa (condensed statement) of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta (DN 22; MN 10) without the niddesa (elaboration). Full-length commentaries on the text are at Sv III 741-61 and Ps II 244-66; the commentary in Spk is much abridged. The relevant passages, with excerpts from the subcommentary, are translated in Soma, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 35-64.

The commentaries offer two derivations of satipaṭṭhāna: one from sati + upaṭṭhāna, “the establishment of mindfulness”; the other from sati + paṭṭhāna, “the foundation of mindfulness.” The former emphasizes the act of setting up mindfulness, the latter the objects to which mindfulness is applied. While the commentaries lean towards the derivation from sati + paṭṭhāna, the former is certainly more original and is supported by the Skt smṛtyupasthāna. See too the common expressions, upaṭṭhitasati, “with mindfulness established” (e.g., at SN 54:13; V 331,10, etc.) and parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā, “having established mindfulness in front of him” (e.g., at 54:1; V 311,13, etc.). Paṭis, by consistently glossing sati with upaṭṭhāna, also shows a preference for this derivation. For a brief explanation of the expression according to the commentarial method, see Vism 678-79 (Ppn 22:34).

Visuddhimagga XXII.34
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... index.html
    34. “Foundation” (paþþhána) is because of establishment (upaþþhána) by going down
    into, by descending upon, such and such objects.[9] Mindfulness itself as foundation
    (establishment) is “foundation of mindfulness.” It is of four kinds because it occurs
    with respect to the body feeling, consciousness, and mental objects (dhamma), taking,
    them as foul, painful, impermanent, and non-self, and because it accomplishes the
    function of abandoning perception of beauty pleasure, permanence, and self. [679],
    That is why “four foundations of mindfulness” is said.

    [9] The Paþisambhidá (Paþis I 177) derives satipaþþhána from sati (mindfulness) and
    paþþhána (foundation, establishment). The commentaries prefer to derive it from sati
    and upaþþhána (establishment, appearance, and also waiting upon: see M-a I 238). The
    readings of the Ee and Ae eds. disagree here and that of the former has been followed
    though the result is much the same.


[123] Ekāyano ayaṃ maggo is often translated “This is the only way” (Soma) or “This is the sole way” (Nyanaponika), implying that the Buddha’s way of mindfulness is an exclusive path. The commentary to the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, however, gives five explanations of the phrase, of which only one suggests exclusivity (see Sv III 743-44; Ps I 229-30; translated in Soma, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 36-39). Spk here mentions only the first: ekamaggo ayaṃ bhikkhave maggo, na dvedhāpathabhūto; “a single path, bhikkhus, is this path, not a forked path.” Ekāyana magga occurs elsewhere in the Nikāyas only at MN I 74,14-15 foll., where it clearly means a path leading straight to its destination.
MN 76
    Suppose there were a charcoal pit deeper than a man's height full of glowing coals without flame or smoke; and then a man scorched and exhausted by hot weather, weary, parched and thirsty, came by a path going in one way only and directed to that same charcoal pit.

I thus understand the metaphorical use of the phrase to be a way of indicating that satipaṭṭhāna leads straight to “the purification of beings,” etc.; perhaps the way of mindfulness is being contrasted with other types of meditation that do not always lead straight to the goal. For a fuller discussion, see Gethin, The Buddhist Path to Awakening, pp. 59-66. The word should not be confused with ekayāna, “one vehicle,” the central theme of the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra.

Spk explains the “method” (ñāya) as the Noble Eightfold Path. Thus, by developing the path of satipaṭṭhāna, which is mundane in the preliminary phase, one eventually achieves the supramundane path. On ñāya, see II, n. 122.
    Note 122 from Volume II:
      Spk: The method (ñāya) is both dependent origination and the stable knowledge after one has known the dependently arisen. As he says: “It is dependent origination that is called the method; the method is also the Noble Eightfold Path” (untraced). Wisdom here is repeatedly arisen insight-wisdom (aparāparaṃ uppannā vipassanāpaññā).
      Spk-pṭ: Dependent origination is called “the method” because, with the application of the right means, it is what is known (ñāyati) as it actually is in the dependently arisen. But knowledge (ñāṇa) is called “the method” because it is by this that the latter is known.

      Despite the commentators, ñāya has no relation to ñāṇa but is derived from ni + i.

[124] For a translation of the commentarial passage on this basic formula, see Soma, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 51-64. An early word gloss is at Vibh 194-95. Gethin discusses the basic formula, Buddhist Path to Awakening, pp. 47-53.

A few key points: The repetitive phrase “contemplating the body in the body” (kāye kāyānupassī) serves “to determine the object (the body) by isolating it” from other things such as feeling, mind, etc., and to show that one contemplates only the body as such, not as permanent, pleasurable, a self, or beautiful. Similarly in regard to the other three establishments. “Ardent” (ātāpī) connotes energy, “clearly comprehending” (sampajāno) implies wisdom. “Covetousness and displeasure” (abhijjhā-domanassa) are code words for the first two hindrances, and thus their removal may be understood to imply some success in concentration. Thus altogether four of the five spiritual faculties (indriya) are indicated here, and while faith is not mentioned it is clearly a prerequisite for taking up the practice in the first place.

Spk glosses vineyya: tadaṅgavinayena vā vikkhambhanavinayena vā vinayitvā, “having removed: having removed by removal in a particular respect or by removal through suppression.” “Removal in a particular respect” signifies temporary removal by deliberate restraint or by insight, “removal through suppression” temporary removal by the attainment of jhāna. The phrase need not be understood to mean that one must first abandon the hindrances before one starts to develop the four establishments of mindfulness. It would be sufficient to have temporarily suspended “covetousness and displeasure” through dedication to the practice itself.
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Re: SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:37 pm

Hi Mike,

Several thoughts are suggested by this little Sutta. I find it a lot easier than the Satipatthana Sutta, which tends to side-track me; whereas this seems to focus on the essentials.

The two derivations of Satipatthana are rehearsed in lots of places. Prior to reading BB's notes, I had previously thought that the sati + paṭṭhāna, “the foundation of mindfulness.” version made more sense, because I was influenced by Ajahn Thanissaro's insistence that "mindfulness" was essentially mindfulness of something. To be mindful is to bear something in mind. But BB's account of sati + upaṭṭhāna, “the establishment of mindfulness" seems to move us away from what we have to pay attention to, and indicate that the attention itself is what is being cultivated. The mind-state, rather than the object. This is a bit harder to grasp, as it is harder to instantiate in language than the body or feelings, etc, and there are so many poor attempts to describe a particular form of attention that one often slips into thinking about some other quality of the mind instead. Thanissaro warns against conflating it with equanimity, calmness, appreciation, etc.

BB's rendering of Ekāyano ayaṃ maggo is also interesting here. "The only way", with it's exclusivist tone, seems to throw down the gauntlet to other faiths and practitioners. It is the Buddhist equivalent of Christ's "No man comes to the Father except by me". However, "the one-way path" has possibly unintended overtones of the impossibility of backsliding. I hope it is more along the lines of "certain" path. It leads to one place only. That would be most inspiring, at any rate: the idea that if one makes the effort, then one will not end up taking an unprofitable detour.

The repetitive phrase “contemplating the body in the body” (kāye kāyānupassī) serves “to determine the object (the body) by isolating it” from other things such as feeling, mind, etc., and to show that one contemplates only the body as such, not as permanent, pleasurable, a self, or beautiful


This idea (again repeated in many modern commentaries and explanations) has puzzled me somewhat. I think I can understand the basic idea, in that the experience of the body in the present moment is clearly different from ideas about the body. A body merely experienced is not the body experienced as permanent, or beautiful. But later in the Satipatthana Sutta and other longer versions, we are invited to consider the repulsiveness of the body - along with the body's ultimate fate, in the cemetery contemplations. These would seem to be as different from "the body in the body" as the perception of the body as beautiful, or permanent. These may of course be very useful contemplations in that they give rise to other positive states such as Nibbida and Viraga. But practicing them would seem to constitute a move away from

one contemplates only the body as such
.

Any thoughts on this? Maybe the longer (niddesa) versions are intended to be more comprehensive guides to practice, rather than a mere description of setting up mindfulness.

This particular Sutta, of course, avoids that puzzle. That might be why I like it so much, as I can focus on the sati bit more clearly.
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Re: SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:00 pm

Hi Sam,
Sam Vara wrote:The two derivations of Satipatthana are rehearsed in lots of places. Prior to reading BB's notes, I had previously thought that the sati + paṭṭhāna, “the foundation of mindfulness.” version made more sense, because I was influenced by Ajahn Thanissaro's insistence that "mindfulness" was essentially mindfulness of something. To be mindful is to bear something in mind. But BB's account of sati + upaṭṭhāna, “the establishment of mindfulness" seems to move us away from what we have to pay attention to, and indicate that the attention itself is what is being cultivated. The mind-state, rather than the object. This is a bit harder to grasp, as it is harder to instantiate in language than the body or feelings, etc, and there are so many poor attempts to describe a particular form of attention that one often slips into thinking about some other quality of the mind instead. Thanissaro warns against conflating it with equanimity, calmness, appreciation, etc.

Patrick Kearney, among others who I've read/listened to points out that this ambiguity in compound words is quite common in Pali, and it may be deliberate to imply multiple meanings.

As far as the "of something" issue, while conciousness always arises with a particular object, surely one of the points of this practice is to build up the mindfulness so that one is mindful whatever object arises.

Sam Vara wrote:BB's rendering of Ekāyano ayaṃ maggo is also interesting here. "The only way", with it's exclusivist tone, seems to throw down the gauntlet to other faiths and practitioners. It is the Buddhist equivalent of Christ's "No man comes to the Father except by me". However, "the one-way path" has possibly unintended overtones of the impossibility of backsliding. I hope it is more along the lines of "certain" path. It leads to one place only. That would be most inspiring, at any rate: the idea that if one makes the effort, then one will not end up taking an unprofitable detour.

Sound good!
Sam Vara wrote:
The repetitive phrase “contemplating the body in the body” (kāye kāyānupassī) serves “to determine the object (the body) by isolating it” from other things such as feeling, mind, etc., and to show that one contemplates only the body as such, not as permanent, pleasurable, a self, or beautiful


This idea (again repeated in many modern commentaries and explanations) has puzzled me somewhat. I think I can understand the basic idea, in that the experience of the body in the present moment is clearly different from ideas about the body. A body merely experienced is not the body experienced as permanent, or beautiful. But later in the Satipatthana Sutta and other longer versions, we are invited to consider the repulsiveness of the body - along with the body's ultimate fate, in the cemetery contemplations. These would seem to be as different from "the body in the body" as the perception of the body as beautiful, or permanent. These may of course be very useful contemplations in that they give rise to other positive states such as Nibbida and Viraga. But practicing them would seem to constitute a move away from

one contemplates only the body as such
.

Any thoughts on this? Maybe the longer (niddesa) versions are intended to be more comprehensive guides to practice, rather than a mere description of setting up mindfulness.

This particular Sutta, of course, avoids that puzzle. That might be why I like it so much, as I can focus on the sati bit more clearly.

Some, especially Ajahn Brahm, have said that translators make too much of the "body in the body" idiom, and it's just an artifact of Pali grammar. I think Bhikkhu Bodhi also said this in one of his talks.

I can't find any specific references on this but here are some previous discussions:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=11167
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9941

:anjali:
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Re: SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:40 pm

Many thanks for your reply.

As far as the "of something" issue, while conciousness always arises with a particular object, surely one of the points of this practice is to build up the mindfulness so that one is mindful whatever object arises.


Indeed. I think it is a point of emphasis; whereas one formulation leads us to think primarily about our mental state, the other leads us in the direction of objects. The former, though, has been subjected to more fuzzy thinking.

Some, especially Ajahn Brahm, have said that translators make too much of the "body in the body" idiom, and it's just an artifact of Pali grammar. I think Bhikkhu Bodhi also said this in one of his talks.


Ah, that's really interesting. The phrase has always reminded me of the Kantian "Thing in itself" (Ding an Sich) so perhaps I have been reading too much significance into it.
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Re: SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:36 pm

In the following sutta (SN 47.2) the Buddha mentions mindfulness and clear comprehension:

“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should dwell mindful and clearly comprehending: this is our instruction to you.

[Same instructoins on mindfulness]

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is one who acts with clear comprehension when going forward and returning; when looking ahead and looking aside; when drawing in and extending the limbs; when wearing his robes and carrying his outer robe and bowl; when eating, drinking, chewing his food, and tasting; when defecating and urinating; when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, speaking, and keeping silent. It is in such a way that a bhikkhu exercises clear comprehension.


Bhikkhu Bodhi comments:
The same advice is at 36:7 (IV 211,1-19). [SN 37.7 Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation replaces "clear comprehension" with "alertness"]. Spk comments at length on the practice of clear comprehension. For a translation see Soma, The Way of Mindfulness, pp. 83-132, (link above) and Bodhi, Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship, pp. 96-134. Briefly, the four are: (1) clear comprehension of purpose-fulness (sātthaka-sampajañña), discerning a worthy purpose in one’s intended action; (2) clear comprehension of suitability (sappāya-sampajañña), discerning a suitable means of achieving one’s aim; (3) clear comprehension of the resort (gocara-sampajañña), maintaining awareness of one’s meditation subject when engaged in various activities; and (4) clear comprehension as nondelusion (asammoha-sampajañña ), discerning one’s actions as conditioned processes devoid of a substantial self. For a good contemporary explanation, see Nyanaponika, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, pp. 46-57.


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Re: SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:01 am

Some more extracts from the Satipatthanasamyutta:

SN 47.3
“Well then, bhikkhu, purify the very starting point of wholesome states. And what is the starting point of wholesome states? Virtue that is well purified and view that is straight. Then, bhikkhu, when your virtue is well purified and your view straight, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you should develop the four establishments of mindfulness in a threefold way.

    Spk: The view is that of one’s responsibility for one’s own action (kammassakatādiṭṭhi), i.e., belief in kamma and its fruits, which implies as well belief in rebirth.

    BB: The Buddha’s statement here establishes that right view (the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path) and right conduct (factors 3-5) are the basis for the successful practice of mindfulness meditation.

“What four? Here, bhikkhu, dwell contemplating the body in the body internally, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. Dwell contemplating the body in the body externally, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. Dwell contemplating the body in the body internally and externally, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.

    BB: Spk says nothing, but Sv III 765,15-18 and Ps I 249,24-27 explain in regard to mindfulness of breathing: “At one time in his own and at another in another’s respiration-body, he dwells in contemplation of the body. By this there is reference to the time when the yogi’s mind moves repeatedly back and forth (internally and externally by way of object) without laying aside the familiar subject of meditation” (The Way of Mindfulness, p. 74). In relation to the other three establishments, the commentaries give basically the same explanation, without addressing the problem of how one without psychic abilities can contemplate another person’s feelings and states of mind.


SN 47.15, SN 47.16
“When, Uttiya, based upon virtue, established upon virtue, you develop these four establishments of mindfulness in such a way, you will go beyond the realm of Death.”
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Re: SN 47.1 Ambapālī (Satipatthanasamyutta)

Postby Sylvester » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:01 am

mikenz66 wrote:Some, especially Ajahn Brahm, have said that translators make too much of the "body in the body" idiom, and it's just an artifact of Pali grammar. I think Bhikkhu Bodhi also said this in one of his talks.



Yup, the idiom here is to intensify the scope of the verb anupassī. I know BB prefers to render the locative case in kāye, vedanāsu, citte and dhammesu as a spatial locative, but Warder's rendition of this locative as a locative of reference brings out the idiomatic meaning better, ie body-watching with reference to the body. The example AJ Brahm gave would be if we had a peculiar English phrase such as "bird-watching the bird".
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