Pali Term: Sati

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tiltbillings
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby tiltbillings » Sat May 11, 2013 10:31 am

Alex123 wrote:
porpoise wrote:So why do you think this phrase is included? And is it actually referring to an aspect of mindfulness, or to an additional quality?


IMHO, one needs to remember Dhamma principles (such as anatta) when observing the present states.
Probably not, but then that is a discussion for a different sub-forum.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam
Damned if I know.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Dmytro
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby Dmytro » Thu May 16, 2013 11:26 am

Alex123 wrote:IMHO, one needs to remember Dhamma principles (such as anatta) when observing the present states.


Yes, such a practice is described in Ahuneyya vagga (AN iv.14):

8. Anattānupassīsuttaṃ

‘‘Sattime, bhikkhave, puggalā āhuneyyā pāhuneyyā dakkhiṇeyyā añjalikaraṇīyā anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassa. Katame satta? Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo sabbasaṅkhāresu anattānupassī viharati, anattasaññī, anattapaṭisaṃvedī satataṃ samitaṃ abbokiṇṇaṃ cetasā adhimuccamāno paññāya pariyogāhamāno. So āsavānaṃ khayā anāsavaṃ cetovimuttiṃ paññāvimuttiṃ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharati. Ayaṃ, bhikkhave, paṭhamo puggalo āhuneyyo pāhuneyyo dakkhiṇeyyo añjalikaraṇīyo anuttaraṃ puññakkhettaṃ lokassa.


18 Non-Self (translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

"Bhikkhus, there are these seven kinds of persons who are worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, an unsurpassed field of merit for the world. What seven?
(1) "Here, bhikkhus, some person dwells contemplating non-self in all phenomena, perceiving non-self, experiencing, constantly, and uninterruptedly focusing on it with the mind, fathoming it with wisdom. With the destruction of taints, he has realized for himself with direct knowledge, in this very life, the taintless liberation of mind, liberation by wisdom, and having entered upon it, he dwells in it. This is the first kind of person worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, an unsurpassed field of merit for the world. ..."

Satipatthana sutta, being concise, emphasizes the result of non-appropriation - when the consciousness does no longer need a support, and remains unsupported :

Atthi kāyoti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya patissatimattāya. Anissito ca viharati. Na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.

"Or indeed his mindfulness is established with the thought: 'The body exists,' to the extent necessary just for knowledge and remembrance, and he lives independent and clings to naught in the world."

which, paradoxically, is attained with the use of special meditational support:

1146. Ārammaṇe taṃ balasā nibandhisaṃ
Nāgaṃ'va thambhamhi daḷhāya rajjuyā,
Taṃ me suguttaṃ satiyā subhāvitaṃ
Anissitaṃ sabbabhavesu hehisi.

51. I'll bind you by strength to the meditation-base
as elephant to post by a strong rope bound;
well-guarded by me, well-grown with mindfulness,
you shall, by all becomings, be without support.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .khan.html

Tasmātiha te gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: 'na cakkhuṃ upādiyissāmī. Na ca me cakkhunissitaṃ viññāṇaṃ bhavissatī'ti. Evaṃ hi te gahapati, sikkhitabbaṃ. Tasmātiha te gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: 'na sotaṃ upādiyissāmi. Na ca me sotanissitaṃ viññāṇaṃ bhavissatī'ti. Evaṃ hi te gahapati, sikkhitabbaṃ. Tasmātiha te gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: 'na ghānaṃ upādiyissāmī. Na ca me ghānanissitaṃ viññāṇaṃ bhavissatī'ti. Evaṃ hi te gahapati, sikkhitabbaṃ. Tasmātiha te gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: 'na jivhaṃ upādiyissāmi. Na ca me jivhanissitaṃ viññāṇaṃ bhavissatī'ti. Evaṃ hi te gahapati, sikkhitabbaṃ.
Tasmātiha te gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: 'na kāyaṃ upādiyissāmi. Na ca me kāyanissitaṃ viññāṇaṃ bhavissatī'ti. Evaṃ hi te gahapati, sikkhitabbaṃ. Tasmātiha te gahapati, evaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ: 'na manaṃ upādiyissāmī. Na ca me manonissitaṃ viññāṇaṃ bhavissatī'ti. Evaṃ hi te gahapati, sikkhītabbaṃ.

[Ven. Sariputta:] "Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: 'I won't cling to the eye; my consciousness will not be dependent on the eye.' That's how you should train yourself. 'I won't cling to the ear... nose... tongue... body; my consciousness will not be dependent on the body.' ... 'I won't cling to the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on the intellect.' That's how you should train yourself.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Buddha gives similar instructions to Mettagu in Sutta-nipata:

‘‘Yaṃ kiñci sampajānāsi, (mettagūti bhagavā)
Uddhaṃ adho tiriyañcāpi majjhe;
Etesu nandiñca nivesanañca, panujja viññāṇaṃ bhave na tiṭṭhe.

‘‘Evaṃvihārī sato appamatto, bhikkhu caraṃ hitvā mamāyitāni;
Jātiṃ jaraṃ sokapariddavañca, idheva vidvā pajaheyya dukkhaṃ’’.

Whatever you're alert to,
above, below,
across, in between:
dispelling any delight,
any laying claim
to those things,
consciousness should not take a stance
in becoming.
The monk who dwells thus
— mindful, heedful —
letting go of his sense of mine,
knowing right here would abandon
birth & aging,
lamentation & sorrow,
stress & suffering.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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tiltbillings
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:26 pm

The following is from a chapter by Ven Bodhi in Contemporary Buddhism, Vol. 12, No. 1, May 2011. What Ven Bodhi has to say here is an excellent corrective to much of what has been stated above, giving us a sense of the richness of the language and thought given to us by the Buddha. I tried to catch all the misspelling, and I did not add the diacritics.

WHAT DOES MINDFULNESS REALLY MEAN? A CANONICAL PERSPECTIVE
Bhikkhu Bodhi

[page] 22

2. The meaning of sati

A problem in hermeneutics, with intimate bearings on the actual practice of
meditation, concerns the exact meaning of the word sati both in general and in
relation to Buddhist contemplative activity. We take the rendering 'mindfulness'
so much for granted that we rarely inquire into the precise nuances of the English
term, let alone the meaning of the original Pali word it represents and the
adequacy of the former as a rendering for the latter. The word 'mindfulness' is
itself so vague and elastic that it serves almost as a cipher into which we can read
virtually anything we want. Hence we seldom recognize that the word was chosen
as a rendering for sati at a particular point in time, after other terms had been tried
and found inadequate.

In Indian psychology apart from Buddhism, the word smrti, the Sanskrit
equivalent of Pali sati, normally means memory. Thus Monier-Williams, in his
Sanskrit-English Dictionary, defines smrti as 'remembrance, reminiscence, thinking
of or upon, calling to mind ... memory.'3 The Buddha's discourses, too, still
preserve this meaning in certain contexts, as we will see. But we should not give
this excessive importance. When devising a terminology that could convey the
salient points and practices of his own teaching, the Buddha inevitably had to
draw on the vocabulary available to him. To designate the practice that became
the main pillar of his meditative system, he chose the word sati. But here sati no
longer means memory. Rather, the Buddha assigned the word a new meaning
consonant with his own system of psychology and meditation. Thus it would be a
fundamental mistake to insist on reading the old meaning of memory into the
new context.

It would not be a mistake, however, to try to determine how the word sati
acquired its new application on the basis of the older meaning, Unfortunately for
us, the Nikayas or early discourse collections do not formally define sati in the clear
expository manner that we are accustomed to finding in modern textbooks or in

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scholarly studies of meditation practice. For four centuries, the Buddhist scriptures
were preserved and transmitted orally, from one generation of reciters to the next.
This method of transmission required that the compilers of the Buddha's
discourses compress the main points into simple repetitive formulas that were
conducive to easy memorization. Thus when we consult the texts to find out what
they mean by sati, what we mostly encounter, instead of lucid explanations, are
operational demonstrations that indicate, in practical terms, how sati functions in
Buddhist psychology and meditation practice. It is from these that we must tease
out the word's implications, testing them against each other and evaluating them
by personal reflection and experience.

The first scholar, it seems, to render sati as 'mindfulness' was the great British
translator T. W. Rhys Davids, founder of the Pali Text Society. His comment in the
introduction to his translation of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta still shows
remarkable acumen:

      Etymologically Sati is Memory. But as happened at the rise of Buddhism to so
      many other expressions in common use, a new connotation was then attached
      to the word, a connotation that gave a new meaning to it, and renders 'memory'
      a most inadequate and misleading translation. It became the memory,
      recollection, calling-to-mind, being-aware-of, certain specified facts. Of these the
      most important was the impermanence (the coming to be as the result of a
      cause, and the passing away again) of all phenomena, bodily and mental. And it
      included the repeated application of this awareness, to each experience of life,
      from the ethical point of view.4

The Nikayas employ two recurrent formulas to illustrate the meaning of sati.
One harkens back to the old meaning of memory; the other refers to its
occurrence in relation to the four satipatthanas. We meet the first in SN 48:9,
which provides an analysis of the five spiritual faculties: faith, energy, mindfulness,
concentration, and wisdom. The sutta briefly defines each with a short formula,
the 'faculty of mindfulness' (satindriya) as follows:

      And what, monks, is the faculty of mindfulness? Here, the noble disciple is
      mindful, possessing supreme mindfulness and alertness, one who remembers
      and recollects what was done and said long ago. This is called the faculty of
      mindfulness.5

The operative expression in Pali here is sarita anussarita, 'one who
remembers and recollects.' Both words are agent nouns derived from the verb
sarati, 'to remember' or 'to be mindful'; the first is simple, the second is prefixed
with anu. While the two words, taken in isolation, might be interpreted as referring
either to remembrance or mindfulness, the phrase 'what was done and said long
ago' (cirakatampi cirabhasitampi) favours interpreting sati here in terms of
memory.

However, in the next sutta, SN 48:10, the five faculties are defined again. The
faculty of mindfulness is first defined, as in the preceding sutta, as the ability to

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recollect what was done and said long ago. But then, as if admitting that this
definition is inadequate, the text adds the stock formula on the four
establishments of mindfulness: 'He dwells contemplating the body in the body
... phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having
removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is called the
faculty of mindfulness.'6 This indicates that the compilers of the texts were not
satisfied with the simple definition in terms of memory but felt the need to
supplement it with another definition that underscores its connection with
meditation practice. The next sutta, SN 48:11, raises the question: 'What is the
faculty of mindfulness?' and answers: The mindfulness that one obtains on the
basis of the four establishments of mindfulness: this is called the faculty of
mindfulness.'7 Here, sati as memory is not brought in at all. One might suggest
that sati as mindfulness, in the sense of a lucid awareness of the present, enables
sati to function as memory. While this may be factually true, the texts themselves
make no such suggestion but simply juxtapose the two formulations without
explanation.

We find this ambivalence in the meaning of sati emerge from two otherwise
parallel expositions on the seven factors of enlightenment (satta bojjhahga). The
first enlightenment factor is mindfulness (satisambojjhahga), which is followed in
order by investigation, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity. The
earlier sutta, SN 46:3, opens with the Buddha praising the benefits of associating
with monks fully accomplished in the training, one benefit being that a monk gets
to hear the Dhamma from them. Having heard the Dhamma from them, 'the monk
recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over. By doing so, on that occasion the monk
arouses, develops, and fulfills the enlightenment factor of mindfulness.'8 In this
passage, invisible in the English translation, mindfulness (sati) as an enlightenment
factor is derived from the act of recollecting and reflecting on the teaching one
has heard. The two verbs used are anussarati and anuvitakketi. The first is an
augmented form of sarati, 'to remember,' from which the noun sati is derived; the
second is the basis for the noun vitakka, thought or reflection. The discourse
continues through the other six factors of enlightenment and ends with the fruits
of the practice.

Taken on its own, this text seems to reinforce the interpretation of sati as the
exercise of memory. However, in another sutta, SN 54:13, the Buddha treats each
of the four establishments of mindfulness as a springboard to the seven factors of
enlightenment. And so, when a monk 'dwells contemplating the body in the body
... phenomena in phenomena, on that occasion the monk arouses, develops, and
fulfills the enlightenment factor of mindfulness.'9 Once mindfulness has arisen, the
other factors of enlightenment arise in turn, culminating in 'true knowledge and
liberation.' This text has the same scaffolding as the earlier one, but here the
enlightenment factor of mindfulness emerges not from memory, not from
recollecting teachings that one has heard, but from direct contemplation of the
body, feelings, mind, and experiential phenomena.

25

There is one Pali word used by the commentaries to clarify the meaning of
sati which, I think, testifies to an attempt to underscore the new role being
assigned to it. This word is upatthana. Upatthana means, firstly, 'setting up,
establishing,' which is what one does with mindfulness. Already in the Nikayas the
word is closely connected with sati. The compound satipatthana is itself composed
of sati and upatthana. The four satipatthanas are the four establishments of
mindfulness, a process of setting up mindfulness, distinguished as fourfold by way
of its objective domains. This analysis indicates that to establish mindfulness is not
to set about remembering something that occurred in the past, but to adopt a
particular stance towards one's present experience. I characterize this as a stance of
observation or watchfulness towards one's own experience. One might even call
the stance of sati a 'bending back' of the light of consciousness upon the
experiencing subject in its physical, sensory, and psychological dimensions. This
act of 'bending back' serves to illuminate the events occurring in these domains,
lifting them out from the twilight zone of unawareness into the light of clear
cognition.

The sense of 'presence' pertaining to the word upatthana comes out more
explicitly in a canonical exegetical work called the Patisambhidamagga, which
glosses each of the five faculties with another term through which it is to be
'directly known' (abhihheyyam). Thus the faculty of faith is to be directly known as
conviction: the faculty of energy, as exertion; the faculty of mindfulness, as
presence (upatthanatthena satindriyam); the faculty of concentration, as non-
distraction; and the faculty of wisdom, as seeing.10 Here, sati is equated with
upatthana not in the sense that the meditator 'establishes mindfulness,' but in the
sense that mindfulness is itself an act of establishing presence. Mindfulness
establishes the presence of the object and thereby makes it available to scrutiny
and discernment.

This interpretation brings out the impact the practice of sati has on its
objective field. On the one hand, we might say that it brackets the 'objectification'
of the object that occurs in our everyday interactions with the world, whereby we
treat objects as things 'out there' subservient to our pragmatic purposes. On the
other hand, sati makes the objective field 'present' to awareness as an expanse of
phenomena exhibiting their own distinctive phenomenal characteristics, as well as
patterns and structures common to all conditioned phenomena. The net effect is
to make the objective field clearly available for inspection. The Visuddhimagga
supports this hypothesis when it states that sati has as its manifestation 'directly
facing the objective domain' (visayabhimukhabhavapaccupatthana).11 We might
characterize mindfulness in this sense, in the simplest terms, as lucid awareness.12

I believe it is this aspect of sati that provides the connection between its two
primary canonical meanings: as memory and as lucid awareness of present
happenings. Sati makes the apprehended object stand forth vividly and distinctly
before the mind. When the object being cognized pertains to the past— when it is
apprehended as something that was formerly done, perceived, or spoken— its
vivid presentation takes the form of memory. When the object is a bodily process

26

like in-and-out breathing or the act of walking back and forth, or when it is a
mental event like a feeling or thought, its vivid presentation takes the form of lucid
awareness of the present.

In the Pali suttas, sati has still other roles in relation to meditation but these
reinforce its characterization in terms of lucid awareness and vivid presentation.
For example, the texts include as types of mindfulness recollection of the Buddha
(buddhanussati), contemplation of the repulsiveness of the body (asubhasanna),
and mindfulness of death (maranassati); for each brings its objective domain
vividly before the mind. The Metta Sutta even refers to meditation on lovingkindness
as a kind of mindfulness.13 In each of these cases, the object is a
conceptual phenomenon— the qualities of the Buddha, the repulsiveness of the
body, the inevitability of death, or lovable living beings— yet the mental pose that
attends to them is designated mindfulness. What unites them, from the side of the
subject, is the lucidity and vivacity of the act o f awareness, and from the side of the
object, its vivid presentation.

Apart from the meditative context, sati enters the noble eightfold path in
another role that cannot be overlooked if we are to determine its exact meaning.
This is as a guarantor of the correct practice of all the other path factors. M N 117
draws distinctions between the wrong (miccha) and right (samma) versions of the
first five path factors, from views to livelihood. After making each distinction, it
then explains how right view, right effort, and right mindfulness occur in
association with each path factor. Taking right intention as an example, the text
reads: 'One understands wrong intention as it is and right intention as it is; this is
one's right view One makes an effort to abandon wrong intention and to
acquire right intention: this is one's right effort. Mindfully one abandons wrong
intention and mindfully one acquires and dwells in right intention: this is one's
right mindfulness.'14 The same stipulation is laid down with regard to the other
factors, including right speech, right action, and right livelihood, thus ensuring
that one mindfully embraces the ethical constituents of the path.

This explanation makes problematic the common interpretation of
mindfulness as a type of awareness intrinsically devoid of discrimination,
evaluation, and judgment. While such a depiction of mindfulness has gained
currency in the popular literature on meditation, it does not square well with the
canonical texts and may even lead to a distorted view of how mindfulness is to be
practiced. There are certainly occasions when the cultivation of mindfulness
requires the practitioner to suspend discrimination, evaluation, and judgment,
and to adopt instead a stance of simple observation. However, to fulfill its role as
an integral member of the eightfold path mindfulness has to work in unison with
right view and right effort. This means that the practitioner of mindfulness must at
times evaluate mental qualities and intended deeds, make judgments about
them, and engage in purposeful action. In conjunction with right view,
mindfulness enables the practitioner to distinguish wholesome qualities from
unwholesome ones, go od deeds from bad deeds, beneficial states of mind from
harmful states. In conjunction with right effort, it promotes the removal of

27

unwholesome mental qualities and the acquisition of wholesome qualities. It is
only in this way that the practice of mindfulness can lay a foundation for correct
wisdom to arise and extirpate the roots of suffering.

36

NOTES

3. Monier-Williams (2005, 1272).
4. Rhys Davids (1910). Cited from unpaginated online version.
5. SN V 197 (CDB 1671). The formula also occurs at AN 5:14 and AN 7:4 as a
definition of the power of mindfulness.' Interestingly, the Chinese parallels to SN
48:9 (SA 646 at TII 182b19) and AN 5:14 (SA 675 atT II 185c12) define the faculty
and power of mindfulness, respectively, by way of the four bases of mindfulness.
This might have resulted from standardization made at a time when the old
meaning of memory had faded even further into the background.
6. SN V 198 (CDB 1672).
7. SN V 200 (CDB 1673).

37

8. SN V 67 (CDB 1571).
9. SN V 329-33 (CDB 1780-85).
10. Patis I 20. Though included in the Pali Canon, the Patisambhidamagga obviously
dates from a period later than the old Nikayas, which contain the Buddha's
discourses. The work was a major influence on the Visuddhimagga, which often
quotes from it.
11. Vism 464. See Nanamoli (1991, 14.141).
12. I hesitate to use the word 'awareness' without qualification as a rendering of sati,
for this word has been chosen to represent a number of Pali technical terms
ranging from vinnana (consciousness) and citta (mind) to sati, sampajanaa, and
vijja (penetrative knowledge).
13. Recollection of the Buddha is at AN 6:10, AN 6:25, etc. Contemplation of the
body's repulsiveness is at DN 22.5 (LDB 337) and MN 10.10 (MLDB 147) and
elsewhere. Mindfulness of death is at AN 6:19 and AN 6:20. Sn v. 151 says about
meditation on loving-kindness: etam satim adhittheyya, 'one should resolve on
this mindfulness.'
14. MN 117.10-15 (III 72-73; MLDB 935[/i]-36).
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam
Damned if I know.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

tamin0
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby tamin0 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:31 am

What I take away from Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay is that sati is not a state of being. It is an activity. If one must use a noun to translate sati, Simone Weil’s “attention” deserves some consideration. The way Simone Weil uses “attention” in her book Gravity and Grace conveys action and reminds us that to end suffering means to wake up.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:17 am

tamin0 wrote:What I take away from Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay is that sati is not a state of being. It is an activity.


The best description I've heard of sati as an activity is "paying attention". Or more accurately the foundational stage of sati, what some call "bare attention".
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric

Ahern = Element
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby Ahern = Element » Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:56 am

:spy:
Last edited by Ahern = Element on Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

Ahern = Element
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby Ahern = Element » Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:07 am

Spiny Norman wrote:The best description I've heard of sati as an activity is "paying attention". Or more accurately the foundational stage of sati, what some call "bare attention".

If an ordinary man is lustfully or indulgently "paying attention" to a naked or "bare" voluptuous woman, is this 'sati'? :shrug:

The Blessed One said, "Suppose, monks, that a large crowd of people comes thronging together, saying, 'The beauty queen! The beauty queen!' And suppose that the beauty queen is highly accomplished at singing & dancing, so that an even greater crowd comes thronging, saying, 'The beauty queen is singing! The beauty queen is dancing!' Then a man comes along, desiring life & shrinking from death, desiring pleasure & abhorring pain. They say to him, 'Now look here, mister. You must take this bowl filled to the brim with oil and carry it on your head in between the great crowd & the beauty queen. A man with a raised sword will follow right behind you, and wherever you spill even a drop of oil, right there will he cut off your head.' Now what do you think, monks: Will that man, not paying attention to the bowl of oil, let himself get distracted outside?"

"No, lord."

"I have given you this parable to convey a meaning. The meaning is this: The bowl filled to the brim with oil stands for mindfulness [leading to the mind being] immersed in the body. Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, hand it the reins and take it as a basis, give it a grounding, steady it, consolidate it, and undertake it well.' That is how you should train yourselves."

Sedaka Sutta: At Sedaka

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:54 am

Ahern wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:The best description I've heard of sati as an activity is "paying attention". Or more accurately the foundational stage of sati, what some call "bare attention".

If an ordinary man is lustfully or indulgently "paying attention" to a naked or "bare" voluptuous woman, is this 'sati'? :shrug:


Clearly not, but I did say that paying attention was just the foundational stage of sati. Obviously sati involves much more than paying attention, and includes sati sampajanna, wisdom. It's also clear from the suttas that sati isn't a stand-alone activity, it works closely with the other path factors.
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric


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