Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.
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Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:53 am

Greetings!

I'm wondering if the following method of practicing the 7th path factor (right mindfulness) is in accordance with the Satipatthana Sutta:

http://www.buddhismaustralia.org/mahasi.htm

"In the Satipatthana Sutta the method, how to practise Insight Meditation is explained in detail. It is divided into Four Main Divisions, namely,

(1) Contemplation on Body, "i.e Mindfulness of Bodily Activities", such as, Walking, Standing, Sitting, etc.,

I would add the contemplations on the breathing, the four elements of the body, the repulsiveness of the living body (bodily parts), and the decay of the dead body (the nine charnel ground contemplations). And these contemplation involves comparisons and reflections (instead of only labeling) such as: ‘This body too is of the same nature, it will be like that, it is not exempt from that fate.’

(2) Contemplation of Feelings, i. e., Mindfulness of Feelings, such as, Pleasant, Unpleasant, Neutral, etc.,

I would add ... of two groups of feelings -- mental and bodily: presence or absence. And such contemplation also involves comparisons and reflections such as:

"In this way he abides contemplating feelings as feelings internally, or he abides contemplating feelings as feelings externally, or he abides contemplating feelings as feelings both internally and externally." [such contemplations lead to the penetration that all bodies/feelings/mind states/Dhammas have the same nature of anicca]

(3) Contemplation of Mind, i.e., "Mindfulness of Thoughts, such as, Thinking, Reflecting", etc.,

I would instead contemplate the presence or absence of greed, hatred, or delusion, and other [i]states of mind such as being collected/focused or scattered/distracted, exalted or unexalted, broad/surpassed or narrow/unsurpassed, concentrated or unconcentrated, liberated or unliberated. Contemplation of these mind states are quite different from just labeling "thinking, reflecting, ...".

and

(4) Contemplation of "Mind-object, i.e., such as, Mindfulness of Seeing, Hearing, Touching, etc."

I would rather translate the 4th mindfulness as mindfulness of Dhammas (the nature of things taught by the Buddha), and the contemplation starts from the five hindrances (because only hindrance free mind can see the truth):

"And how does a bhikkhu abide contemplating Dhammas as Dhammas in terms of the five hindrances? Here, there being sensual desire in him, a bhikkhu understands: ‘There is sensual desire in me’; or there being no sensual desire in him, he understands: ‘There is no sensual desire in me’; and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sensual desire.’

Then the contemplation proceeds with the five aggregates, the six bases, the seven enlightenment factors, and the four Noble Truths. Each contemplation involves examining, reflecting, investigating, ..., instead of merely labeling "seeing, hearing, ...", which still belongs to bodily activities to my understanding.


Welcome your input. Metta to all and happy new year!
Last edited by starter on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:02 am

I agree that the description of the third satipatthana seems poorly translated. I tend to think of that as more like "mood" or "state of mind", which goes along with the instruction in the sutta.

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:23 am

Dear starter,

I don't have any experience with the Mahasi method of meditation but it seems to work well for many people. I'm sure it can work if you're eager to try it and know a skilled teacher or spiritual friend who's experienced with the method.

Another way to practice Right Mindfulness that is relatively simple in theory is via Ānāpānasati which fulfills all four foundations of mindfulness via different ways of mindfulness of breathing.

"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.
-MN 118

:anjali:
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:06 pm

Hello Mike and Mkoll,

Thanks for your input. I tend to believe that Ānāpānasati which fulfills all four mindfulness via different ways of mindfulness of breathing should be practiced only after the establishment of the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana), which is probably why MN 10 was taught very early but MN 118 was at the very end. Without establishing the 4 foundations of mindfulness and gaining an understanding of the nature of body, feeling, mind states, and Dhammas (the nature of things as taught by the Buddha), I'm afraid Ānāpānasati alone won't fulfill the 7th path factor, right mindfulness.

May all of us much progress in our Dhamma practice and much peace in the coming new year!

Metta to all!

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Mkoll » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:35 pm

starter wrote:I tend to believe that Ānāpānasati which fulfills all four mindfulness via different ways of mindfulness of breathing should be practiced only after the establishment of the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana), which is probably why MN 10 was taught very early but MN 118 was at the very end.


Dear starter,

I respect you and your view however I don't think that what you wrote above, and I underlined and bolded, is true. If it isn't true, it can't be used for justification.

We can't say why the suttas are in the order they are in or who put them in that order. The Buddha certainly didn't put them in that order: they were written down hundreds of years after he died!

In conclusion, I will cite one paragraph from Ven. Bodhi in his introduction to The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya:

There is also no particular pedagogical sequence in the suttas, no unfolding development of thought. Thus while different suttas illuminate each other and one will fill in ideas merely suggested by another, virtually any sutta may be taken up for individual study and will be found comprehensible on its own. Of course, the study of the entire compilation will naturally yield the richest harvest of understanding.
page 19-20, 3rd edition

Metta to you as well!

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James

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby EmptyCittas1by1 » Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:38 pm

The right way to practice right mindfulness is to be mindful of everything which occurs in your immediate experience, rather than being only conceptually mindful. The things in the Satipatthana sutta are things you need to understand. In our ignorant nature, we really only have a conceptual or dull understanding of what the breath even is. But the more we practice mindfulness of breathing, the more we understand what it is. It sounds so simple, but we really don't know what breathing really is because we haven't developed mindfulness of breathing to the point where we gain insight. It's just like how we have a intellectual understanding that all things are impermanent. It seems so simple and obvious, but we don't understand it at all. If we did, we wouldn't cling to things.

You're supposed to be mindful every second of the day. Obviously you cannot practice mindfulness of breathing all day. But you can be mindful of sitting, walking, etc. When greed/hate/delusion arises, you shift your mindfulness from the body towards that. But since we're ignorant, we really don't know what "greed" or "hatred" or "delusion" is really like. We only have an idea of it. So when we experience an unwholesome thought, we direct our awareness towards it in a balanced manner (not slack, not forced), without a preconceived notion of what it is. We don't understand what it is until we gain insight by being mindful of it as it comes and goes. This is how you would gain insight into that thought's nature. There will be no "greed", only its impermanent nature and its inclination towards future suffering. The thought itself can be described as greed, but this is only a way to differentiate it from other thoughts. It only has the nature of impermanence, suffering, and not-self. But even those things are empty. This makes me wonder: is Zen really Theravadin Buddhism without the conceptualization of things? They practice mindfulness all the time... anyway:

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

This sutta really tells us that mindfulness is the path. The "concentration" part of the threefold training is what really sets the ball rolling.

"One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong view & for entering into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view."

"One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong action & for entering into right action: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong action & to enter & remain in right action: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right action."

When one practices mindfulness, one is developing the whole entire transcendent eightfold path at every moment. Mindfulness brings insight (right view), insight leads to understanding that all is suffering, so it leads to renunciation (right intention). Mindfulness prevents unwholesome actions and brings wholesome ones (right action). Mindfulness prevents unwholesome speech and only brings wholesome speech (right speech). And so on. Read the sutta to find out more about the real aspects of the path.

We all know that being mindful all day can be difficult, maybe even impossible in places like our jobs. But it's one of the most (if not the most) important parts of the path. There's a reason why Ajahn Chah put a lot of emphasis on it. His Biography on youtube and his Dhamma talks are great motivators. Check em out :twothumbsup:
"Eat little! Sleep little! Speak little! Whatever it may be of worldly habit, lessen them, go against their power. Don't just do as you like, don't indulge in your thought. Stop this slavish following. You must constantly go against the stream of ignorance. This is called "Discipline." When you discipline your heart, it becomes very dissatisfied and begins to struggle. It becomes restricted and oppressed. When the heart is prevented from doing what it wants to do, it starts wandering and struggling. Suffering becomes apparent to us."

— Ajahn Chah

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Fri Jun 20, 2014 12:48 am

Hello friends,

Thanks for all your input. I read SN 47 today, and glad to find a collection of suttas on Satipaṭṭhāna. After pondering about SN 47, I realized how to

saṃyutta nikāya 47
connected discourses on the establishments of mindfulness

8. The Cook

i. The incompetent cook

“Bhikkhus, suppose a foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook were to present a king or a royal minister with various kinds of curries: sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, sharp, mild, salty, bland.

“That foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook does not pick up the sign of his own master: ‘Today this curry pleased my master, or he reached for this one, or he took a lot of this one, or he spoke in praise of this one; or the sour curry pleased my master today, or he reached for the sour one, or he took a lot of the sour one, or he spoke in praise of the sour one; or the bitter curry … or the pungent curry … or the sweet curry … or the sharp curry … or the mild curry … or the salty curry … or the bland curry pleased my master … or he spoke in praise of the bland one.’

“That foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook does not gain gifts of clothing, wages, and bonuses. For what reason? Because that foolish, incompetent, unskilful cook does not pick up the sign of his own master.

“So too, bhikkhus, here some foolish, incompetent, unskilful bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating the body in the body, his mind does not become concentrated, his corruptions are not abandoned, he does not pick up that sign. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, his mind does not become concentrated, his corruptions are not abandoned, he does not pick up that sign.

“That foolish, incompetent, unskilful bhikkhu does not gain pleasant dwellings in this very life, nor does he gain mindfulness and clear comprehension. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that foolish, incompetent, unskilful bhikkhu does not pick up the sign of his own mind [BT: he does not take note of his own mind].

ii. The competent cook

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a wise, competent, skilful cook were to present a king or a royal minister with various kinds of curries: sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, sharp, mild, salty, bland.

“That wise, competent, skilful cook picks up the sign of his own master: ‘Today this curry pleased my master … or he spoke in praise of the bland one.’

“That wise, competent, skilful cook gains gifts of clothing, wages, and bonuses. For what reason? Because that wise, competent, skilful cook picks up the sign of his own master.

“So too, bhikkhus, here some wise, competent, skilful bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating the body in the body, his mind becomes concentrated, his corruptions are abandoned, he picks up that sign. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. While he dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, his mind becomes concentrated, his corruptions are abandoned, he picks up that sign.

“That wise, competent, skilful bhikkhu gains pleasant dwellings in this very life, and he gains mindfulness and clear comprehension. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that wise, competent, skilful bhikkhu picks up the sign of his own mind.” [takes note of his own mind]

[Mainly from http://suttacentral.net/en/sn47.8, with minor changes.]

What I learned from this sutta is that we should be observant/mindful of our own mind and clearly comprehend our mind states, so that mindfulness and clear comprehension can be cultivated and developed, and right effort can be exerted.

Metta to all!

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:27 am

mikenz66 wrote:I agree that the description of the third satipatthana seems poorly translated. I tend to think of that as more like "mood" or "state of mind", which goes along with the instruction in the sutta.


I agree. From a practical point of view I think the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 3rd frame of reference.
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:37 am

Spiny Norman wrote: From a practical point of view I think the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 3rd frame of reference.


Hi do you mean the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 4th frame of reference?
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:31 am

Awareness of the hindrances seems to be there in the third satipatthana (mind state/mood) (greed, hatred, delusion, etc).
suttacentral.net/en/mn10#m15
Here a bhikkhu understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion. ...


The difference in the fourth satipatthana is the understanding of how to deal with them:
http://suttacentral.net/en/mn10#m15
Here, there being sensual desire in him, a bhikkhu understands: ‘There is sensual desire in me’; or there being no sensual desire in him, he understands: ‘There is no sensual desire in me’; and he also understands how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sensual desire.’

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:51 am

starter wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: From a practical point of view I think the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 3rd frame of reference.


Hi do you mean the 5 hindrances are a useful starting point for the 4th frame of reference?
:anjali:


Mind states ( 3rd frame ) are made up of mental objects ( 4th frame ). Like what we see is made up of colour and shape.

So for example if the hindrance of sensual desire is present then we could observe a mind with sensual desire. Obviously there would be other mental objects present in such a mind state, but sensual desire is likely to be dominant. And the inclusion of the hindrances in the 4th frame suggests that the presence / absence of the hindrances is an important thing to notice.
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby starter » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:19 am

Hi Mike and Spiny Norman,

Thanks for the input. I tend to think that the following sutta about the 3rd frame of mindfulness teaches us to categorize the mind states into the presence and absence of greed/hate/delusion (in addition to the other states of the mind as summarized above), when practicing the establishing of the mindfulness of mind states. I'd rather start with the last three of the ten unwholesome deeds (unrighteous greed/covetousness, ill will, and wrong view -- plus cruelty/harmfulness) instead of starting with the presence/absence of the five hindrances.

suttacentral.net/en/mn10#m15
"Here a bhikkhu understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion..."

I prefer to translate the 4th frame of reference into "the nature of things taught by the Buddha" (which specifically refer to the systematic training on the five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six bases, the seven enlightenment factors, and the four Noble Truths), instead of "mind objects" (which can be anything and doesn't capture the important systematic training here).

Just my two cents. Metta to all!

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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:14 pm

starter wrote:I prefer to translate the 4th frame of reference into "the nature of things taught by the Buddha" (which specifically refer to the systematic training on the five hindrances, the five aggregates, the six bases, the seven enlightenment factors, and the four Noble Truths), instead of "mind objects" (which can be anything and doesn't capture the important systematic training here).


I agree. Personally I think the 4th frame is best understood as a set of guidelines or frameworks for dhamma vicaya, ie the investigation of experience.
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby thljcl » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:47 am

Let’s take an in-depth look on the understanding of MN 10 by referring to Buddha’s explanation found in other suttas from the Four Nikayas.
1. SN=Connected Discourses
2. DN=Long Discourses
3. MN=Middle-Length Discourses
4. AN=Numerical Discourses

From MN 10
“Bhikkhus, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of true way, for the realization of Nibbana – namely four foundations of mindfulness.”

From SN 47.1

“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 Nibbana, that is, the four establishments of mindfulness.”

Bhikkhu Bodhi renders “ekayana magga” as “direct path” in MN 10, which means it leads only to one direction. Similarly from SN 47.1, Bhikkhu Bodhi renders it as “one-way path”. He does not indicate that Four Establishments of Mindfulness as an exclusive path; even though that phrase could be literally translated as “the only path”. Is four establishments of mindfulness is the only path to Nibbana?

From SN 47.9

“…Therefore, Ananda, dwell with yourself as your own island, with yourself as your own refuge, with no other refuge; dwell with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge. And how, Ananda, does a bhikkhu dwell with himself as his own island, with himself as his own refuge, with no other refuge; with Dhamma as his refuge, with no other refuge? He dwells contemplating body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world…”

The above passage clearly indicates the exclusivity of “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”, which shows that Buddha says that “Four Establishments of Mindfulness” is the only path. In fact, Buddha also calls it “Middle Way” in AN 3.156.

From AN 3.156
“And what is the middle way of practice? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. This is called the middle way of practice”

From AN 10.61

“What is the nutriment for true knowledge and liberation? It should be said: seven factors of enlightenment. … What is the nutriment for seven factors of enlightenment? It should be said: four establishments of mindfulness”

“Nutriment” in AN 10.61 is being understood as condition. It means that by practicing Four Establishments of Mindfulness, once its practice is complete, it fulfills seven factors of enlightenment; seven factors of enlightenment in turn fulfills “true knowledge and liberation”.

Is four establishments of mindfulness the only path to Nibbana? The answer is yes, I would say.

From MN 10
“What are the four? Here, a bhikkhu abides contemplating body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-object as mind-object, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.”

Comparing the above paragraph with the English translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi in SN 47.1
“Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. 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.”

Both translations are made by Bhikkhu Bodhi with some notable differences. “mind-objects” are being rendered as “phenomena” in SN by Bhikkhu Bodhi. As a matter of fact, “phenomena” actually fit the context better compared with “mind-objects”, which I would explain later.

From MN 10
“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as the body? … Or else he contemplating in the body its nature of arising, or he abides contemplating its nature of vanishing, or he abides contemplating in the body its nature of both arising and vanishing…
And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating feelings as feelings? … Or else he abides contemplating in feelings their nature of arising, or he abides contemplating in feelings their nature of vanishing, or he abides contemplating in feelings their nature of both arising and vanishing …
And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating mind as mind? … Or else he abides contemplating in mind its nature of arising, or he abides contemplating in mind its nature of vanishing, or he abides contemplating in mind its nature of both arising and vanishing …
And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects? … Or else he abides contemplating in mind-objects their nature of arising, or he abides contemplating in mind-objects their nature of vanishing, or he abides contemplating in mind-objects their nature of both arising and vanishing …”

Compared with SN 47.40

From SN 47.40

“And what, bhikkhus, is the development of the establishment of mindfulness? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwell contemplating the nature of origination in the body; he dwells contemplating the nature of vanishing in the body; he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and vanishing in the body – ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to world. He dwells contemplating the nature of origination in feelings … he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in mind … he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in phenomena; he dwells contemplating the nature of vanishing in phenomena; he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and vanishing in phenomena – ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is called the development of the establishment of mindfulness.”

The term “arising” is rendered as “origination” by Bhikkhu Bodhi in SN. The “origination” here actually carries the meaning of arising with cause. The nature of origination and vanishing also means impermanence, suffering, and non-self. It is being further clarified in a number of suttas, which I would cite here.

From SN 47.42

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you the origination and passing away of the four establishments of mindfulness. Listen to that.
And what, bhikkhus, is the origination of the body? With the origination of nutriment, there is the origination of body. With the cessation of nutriment, there is the passing away of the body.
With the origination of contact, there is the origination of feeling. With the cessation of contact, there is the passing away of feeling.
With the origination of name-and-form, there is the origination of mind. With the cessation of name-and-form, there is the passing away of mind.
With the origination of attention, there is the origination of phenomena. With the cessation of attention, there is the passing away of phenomena.”

Buddha’s explanation of origination and passing away of the four establishments of mindfulness, is not found in both MN 10 and DN 22. However, contemplation of origination and passing away of suffering is key to the practice of four establishments of mindfulness. Arguably, SN 47.42 merely briefly describes the immediate cause of origination and passing away of four establishments of mindfulness. The more detailed explanation, which requires pondering, are found in many suttas in various angles in Book of Causation, Book of the Aggregates, and Book of the Six Sense Bases of Connected Discourses.

From SN 12.40

“And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination? With birth as condition, aging and death comes to be… With existence as condition, birth comes to be…. With clinging as condition, existence comes to be… With craving as condition, clinging comes to be… With feeling as condition, craving comes to be… With contact as condition, feeling comes to be… With six sense bases as condition, contact comes to be… With name-and-form as condition, six sense bases come to be… With consciousness as condition, name-and-form come to be… With volitional formation as condition, consciousness comes to be… With ignorance as condition, volitional formation comes to be…
And what, bhikkhus, are the dependently arisen phenomena? Aging-and-death, bhikkhus, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. Birth is impermanent… Existence is impermanent… Clinging is impermanent… Craving is impermanent… Feeling is impermanent… Contact is impermanent… Six sense bases are impermanent… Name-and-form is impermanent… Consciousness is impermanent… Volitional formations are impermanent… Ignorance is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation. These, bhikkhus, are called the dependently arisen phenomena.”

From SN 35.1

“Bhikkhus, the eye is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine. This I am not. This is not my self.’
The ear is impermanent… The nose is impermanent… The tongue is impermanent… The body is impermanent… The mind is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine. This I am not. This is not my self.’
Seeing thus, bhikkhus, an instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards the eye, revulsion towards the ear, revulsion towards the nose, revulsion towards the tongue, revulsion towards the body, revulsion towards the mind. Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his mind is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘it is liberated’. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’”

From SN 35.4

“Bhikkhus, the form is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine. This I am not. This is not my self.’
The sound is impermanent… The odor is impermanent… The taste is impermanent… The tactile object is impermanent… The mental phenomena is impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself. What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine. This I am not. This is not my self.’
Seeing thus, bhikkhus, an instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards the form, revulsion towards the sound, revulsion towards the odor, revulsion towards the taste, revulsion towards the tactile object, revulsion towards the mental phenomena. Experiencing revulsion, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his mind is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: ‘it is liberated’. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’”

From MN 137

“‘The six internal bases should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? There are the eye-base, the ear-base, the nose-base, the tongue-base, the body-base, and the mind-base. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six internal bases should be understood.’
‘The six external bases should be understood.’ So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? There are the form-base, the sound-base, the odor-base, the flavor-base, the tangible-base, and the mind-object-base. So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘The six internal bases should be understood.’”

“Flavor” in MN is rendered as “taste” in SN; “tangible” MN is rendered as “tactile object”; “mind-object” in MN is rendered as “mental phenomena”. “Six Internal Bases” in MN is rendered as “Six Internal Sense Bases” in SN; it is also known as “Six Sense Bases”. “Six External Bases” in MN is rendered as “Six External Sense Bases” in SN.

The complexity of dependent origination could not be explained in any single sutta, which only cover one aspect of it.

With regards to mindfulness of the body, the “body” here actually encompasses a broader meaning than the “physical body”, even though it does include the meaning of conventional “physical body”.

From SN 12.11

“Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that have already come to be and for the assistance of those about to come to be. What four? The nutriment edible food, gross or subtle; second, contact; third, mental volition; fourth consciousness. These are four kinds of nutriment for the maintenance of beings that have already come to be and for the assistance of those about to come to be.
Bhikkhus, these four kinds of nutriment have what as their source, what as its origin, from what it is born and produced? These four kinds of nutriment have craving as their source, craving as their origin; they are born and produced from craving.
And this craving has what as its source, what as its origin, from what it is born and produced? This craving has feeling as its source, feeling as its origin; it is born and produced from feeling. … contact … six sense bases … name-and-form … consciousness … volitional formations … ignorance
Thus with ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be … consciousness … Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes the cessation of volitional formations … Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.”

Thus, the “body” here could refer to the current and future existence hence the suffering.
“With the origination of nutriment, there is the origination of the body.”
In fact, three of the four kinds of nutriment actually relate to each other as condition as well. The complexity of dependent origination is that it has many-to-many relationship in many cases.

From SN 12.2

“And what, bhikkhus, are called the volitional formations? There are these three kinds of volitional formations: the bodily volitional formation, the verbal volitional formation, and the mental volitional formation. These are called volitional formations.”

From SN 22.56

“…And what, bhikkhus, are volitional formations? There are these six classes of volition: volition regarding forms, volition regarding sound, volition regarding odors, volition regarding tastes, volition regarding tactile objects, volition regarding mental phenomena. This is called volitional formations. With the arising of contact, there is the arising of volitional formations. With the cessation of contact, there is the cessation of volitional formations….”

Hence, while contact has craving as its source, it also has six sense bases as its source; while mental volition has craving as its source, it also has contact as its source; consciousness has craving as its source, it also has mental volition as its source; while the edible food, gross or subtle, has craving as its source, it may be derived from four great elements, earth, fire, air, and water.

In MN 10, Buddha tells several ways a person can develop mindfulness of the body
1. Mindfulness of breathing
2. The Four Postures
3. Full Awareness, rendered as Clear Comprehension in SN by Bhikkhu Bodhi
4. Foulness – the Bodily Parts
5. Elements – Earth, Water, Fire (Rendered as Heat in SN), and Air
6. The Nine Charnel Ground Contemplation

However, it should be understood the six things are merely “stepping stones” toward the actual path that is the mindfulness of the body; these “stepping stones” are not necessarily be “stepped on” in actual practice. The actual practice of mindfulness of the body, with or without any one of the above “stepping stones”, could be summarized as contemplating the origination and passing away in the body; or more generally, the contemplation of dependent origination. Even though it is being mentioned in MN 10, it may not be immediately obvious to the readers considering a considerably large number of words are being used to describe the six “stepping stones”. SN 47.40 makes it pretty clear-cut though.

In MN 10, likewise, in Mindfulness of mind-objects, rendered as phenomena in SN, Buddha also tells several stepping stones that the practitioner can use
1. The Five Hindrances
2. The Five Aggregates
3. The Six Internal Bases and Six External Bases
4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment
5. The Four Noble Truths

Again, these stepping stones are helpful but not necessarily required in the actual practice.

One phrase that pops up quite frequently in the description of four establishments of mindfulness is “clear comprehension” or “full awareness”. The exercising of “clear comprehension” is crucial to the practice of “four establishments of mindfulness”; while it is being mentioned in MN 10, it’s not being explained what it means. Again, we based our understanding from other suttas.

The practice of four establishments of mindfulness is sometimes being described as “mindfulness and clear comprehension”; the change of nomenclature is used to emphasize “clear comprehension”; but clear comprehension is necessary in the practice of “mindfulness”

From SN 47.2

“Bhikkhus. A bhikkhu should dwell mindful and clearly comprehending: this is our instruction to you.
And how, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is mindful? Here, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena … ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world.
And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is one who act with clear comprehension when going forward and returning; when looking ahead and looking aside; when drawing in and extending limbs; when wearing his robes and carrying 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. ”

From MN 10

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is one who acts in full awareness when going forward and returning; who acts in full awareness when looking ahead and looking away; who acts in full awareness when flexing and extending his limbs; who acts in full awareness when wearing his robes and carrying his outer robes and bowl; who acts in full awareness when eating, drinking, consuming food, and tasting; who acts in full awareness when defecating and urinating; who acts in full awareness when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent. In this way he abides contemplating the body as a body internally, externally, and both internally and externally…”

Clearly, both are talking about the same practice; but in MN 10, the practice of “clear comprehension” serves as a stepping stone toward the practice of mindfulness of the body. Besides, there is another description of the practice of “clear comprehension” not found in MN 10.

From SN 47.35

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, for a bhikkhu feelings are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. Thoughts are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. Perceptions are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu exercises clear comprehension.”

Arguably, the practice of “clear comprehension” being described in SN 47.35 actually encompasses the practice being described in SN 47.2 or MN 10; because volitional formations, whether it is through body, speech, or mind, are rooted from volition, craving, thought or intention. Craving has feeling as its source. Feeling and perceptions have contact as their sources. This practice of clear comprehension requires careful attention to feeling, perception, thought and their sources.

Understood together as mindfulness and clear comprehension, the practitioner contemplates the origination and passing away of dependently arisen phenomena while paying attention to his own feelings, perception, and thought to see the dependently arisen phenomena and dependent origination.

From SN 12.10

“Bhikkhus, before my enlightenment, while I was still a bodhisatta, not yet fully enlightened …
Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me: ‘when what exists does aging-and-death come to be? By what is aging-and-death is conditioned?’ Then, bhikkhus, through careful attention, there took place in me a breakthrough by wisdom: ‘when there is birth, aging-and-death comes to be; aging-and-death has birth as its condition.
…existence…clinging…craving…feeling…contact…six sense bases…name-and-form…consciousness…volitional formations…ignorance…
‘origination, origination’ – thus bhikkhus, in regards to things unheard before there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light”

From AN 10.61

“The four establishments of mindfulness, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for four establishments of mindfulness? It should be said: the three kinds of good conduct. … restraint of sense faculties … mindfulness and clear comprehension … mindfulness and clear comprehension, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment of mindfulness and clear comprehension? It should be said: careful attention…”

From AN 3.68
“‘But, friends, what is the reason unarisen lust arises and arisen lust increases and expands?’ You should answer: ‘An attractive object’. For one who attends careless to attractive object, unarisen lust arises and arisen lust increases and expands. This, is the reason unarisen lust arises and arisen lust increases and expands.
‘But, friends, what is the reason unarisen hatred arises and arisen hatred increases and expands?’ You should answer: ‘A repulsive object’. For one who attends careless to repulsive object, unarisen hatred arises and arisen hatred increases and expands. This, is the reason unarisen hatred arises and arisen hatred increases and expands.
‘But, friends, what is the reason unarisen delusion arises and arisen delusion increases and expands?’ You should answer: ‘careless attention’. For one who attends carelessly, unarisen delusion arises and arisen delusion increases and expands. This, is the reason unarisen delusion arises and arisen delusion increases and expands.”

From SN 45.7

“This, bhikkhu, is a designation for the element of Nibbana: the removal of lust, the removal of hatred, the removal of delusion. The destruction of the taints is spoken of in that way.”

Careless attention serves as the cause of the arising the dependently arisen phenomena; while careful attention is the cause of mindfulness and clear comprehension. Attention, itself, has cause, not without cause.

Hence, “With the origination of attention, there is the origination of phenomena. With the cessation of attention, there is the passing away of phenomena.”

From SN 12.2

“And what, bhikkhus, is name-and-form? Feeling, perception, volition, contact, attention, this is called name. The four great elements and the form derived from four great elements: this is called form. Thus this name and this form are together called name-and-form…
With consciousness as condition, name-and-form comes to be…”

From SN 14.30

“Bhikkhus, there are these four elements. What four? The earth element, the water element, the heat element, and the air element. These are the four elements.”

As attention is one of the five things that is called name, it arises with consciousness as its source.

From SN 12.23
“Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and does not see. For one who knows what, for one who knows what, for one who sees what, does the destruction of the taints come about? ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its passing away; such is feeling… such is perception… such are volitional formations… Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away’: it is for one who knows thus, for one who sees thus, that the destruction of the taints comes about.”

From SN 45.163

“Bhikkhus, there are these three taints. What three? The taint of sensuality, the taint of existence, and the taint of ignorance. These are the three taints.”

SarathW
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby SarathW » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:21 am

Can mindfulness be simple as this?
:thinking:
=====================

Bhante G
http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/410/talk/1713/

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:47 pm

SarathW wrote:Can mindfulness be simple as this?
:thinking:
=====================


Simple doesn't mean easy. ;)
"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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Re: Right way to practice Right Mindfulness?

Postby thljcl » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:06 pm

Dear SarathW, thanks for sharing the audio talk given by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana.

From what I’ve heard from Gunaratana, I realized that he advocated the use of mindfulness of breathing to fulfill four establishments of mindfulness. Again, I use the same abbreviation as follows:
1. Connected Discourses=SN
2. Middle-Length Discourses=MN
3. Long Discourses=DN
4. Numerical Discourses=AN

I gave my account on the practice on mindfulness of breathing and four establishments of mindfulness based on suttas found in four Nikayas.

Before getting into discussion of “Mindfulness of Breathing” and “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”, let’s take a look on the exact steps taken when one practices “Mindfulness of Breathing”.

From SN 54.1

“And, how bhikkhus, is mindfulness of breathing, developed and cultivated, so that it is of great fruit and benefit?
Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, having gone to forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, sits down. Having folded his leg crosswise, straightened his body, and set up mindfulness in front of him, just mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.
Breathing in long, he knows: ‘I breathe in long’; or breathing out long, he knows: ‘I breathe out long.’ Breathing in short, he knows: ‘I breathe in short’; or breathing out short, he knows: ‘I breathe out short’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing the whole body, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing the whole body, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Tranquilizing the bodily formation, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Tranquilizing the bodily formation, I will breathe out.’
He train thus: ‘Experiencing rapture, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing rapture, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Experiencing happiness, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing happiness, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Experiencing mental formation, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing mental formation, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Tranquilizing the mental formation, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Tranquilizing the mental formation, I will breathe out.’
He train thus: ‘Experiencing the mind, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing the mind, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Gladdening the mind, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Gladdening the mind, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Concentrating the mind, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Concentrating the mind, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Liberating the mind, I will breathe in.’; he train thus: ‘Liberating the mind, I will breathe out.’
He train thus: ‘Contemplating impermanence, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Contemplating impermanence, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Contemplating fading away, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Contemplating fading away, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Contemplating cessation, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Contemplating cessation, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Contemplating relinquishment, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Contemplating relinquishment, I will breathe out.’
It is, bhikkhus, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated in this way that it is of great fruit of benefit.”

The narration of the practice of “Mindfulness of Breathing” can also be found on MN 118. Recall how one exercises “clear comprehension” on SN 47.2 and SN 47.35.

From SN 47.2

“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.”

From SN 47.35

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, for a bhikkhu feelings are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. Thoughts are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as understood as they pass away. Perceptions are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as understood as they pass away. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu exercises clear comprehension.”

Note that clear comprehension is being exercised while standing, walking, sitting, falling asleep, etc… In short, it is being exercised all the time by the practitioner. On the other hand, the practice of “Mindfulness of breathing” is merely being practiced without speaking, standing, defecating, urinating, etc. Such a practice is a specific example of how “four establishments of mindfulness” can be practiced; that is it does not include all scenarios where “clear comprehension” can be exercised.

In the description of “Mindfulness of Breathing” given in SN 54.1 and MN 118, the practitioner remains in sitting position; he basically restricts his volitional formations to very few. We normally do not need think about breathing to breathe; in biology, breathing, just like the beating of heart, can happen without volition; because its activity actually rested on a nervous system without going through our brain. On the other hand, in the practice of “Mindfulness of Breathing”, “breathing in” and “breathing out” are called bodily formations; that is not without reasons.

From SN 41.6

Venerable Kamabhu spoke to Citta the Householder thus: “In-breathing and out-breathing are bodily formation … these things are dependent on body.”

From MN 44

Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna spoke to lay follower Visakha thus: “In-breathing and out-breathing, friend Visakha, are the bodily formation”

The Blessed One (Buddha) told lay follower Visakha thus: “the Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna is wise, Visakha, the Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna has great wisdom. If you had asked me the meaning of this, I would have explained it to you the same way that the Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna has explained it. Such is its meaning, and you should remember it.”

In our day-to-day life, breathing is not usually bodily volitional formation; that is, we do not think about it before we breathe. The same can be said for the beating of heart. However, we can consciously hold our breathe, breathe in long, breathe out long, breathe in short, breathe out short; just as what is being said in SN 54.1 and MN 118. On that occasion, breathing becomes volitional formation; more specifically, the bodily formation.

After sitting down, the practitioner of “Mindfulness of Breathing” basically stops all others bodily formations, or “tranquilizing bodily formations”; doing just “breathe in” and “breathe out”. While doing it, he pays attention to it to be aware of “breathe in” and “breathe out”. That’s right. What he is doing is certainly exercising “clear comprehension”; even though “clear comprehension” can be exercised in other cases as well.

Whether to “breathe in long” or “breathe in short”, the practitioner does so by having the intention or thought of doing it first, then only he can actually do it. When he knows that he wants to breathe in long or breathe in short, he understands the thought of “breathe in long” or “breathe in short” as they arise, as they remain present, as they pass away. While he “breathes in” and “breathes out”, he also pays attention to the arising and passing away of feelings; which is being described as “He train thus: ‘Experiencing rapture, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing rapture, I will breathe out.’ He train thus: ‘Experiencing happiness, I will breathe in’; he train thus: ‘Experiencing happiness, I will breathe out.’” With the attention given to “breathe in” and “breathe out”, having been contacted through body and mind, he understands the perception as they arise, as they remain present, as they pass away.

While he is practicing “mindfulness of breathing”, he would experience various states of mind. At the beginning, he tranquilizes “mental formation”. Since his volitional formations are being reduced to very few, perception and feeling arise in dependence on contact; as he directs his attention to “breathe in” and breathe out”; contact arises in dependence of mind; on that occasion, perception and feeling are called “mental formation” due to their dependence on mind. He gradually focuses on “breathe in” and “breathe out”.

From SN 41.6

Venerable Kamabhu spoke to Citta the Householder thus: “Perception and feeling are mental, these things are dependent on body.”

In the process of concentrating his mind, he is avoiding eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, and body-contact.

From AN 5.113

“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu is capable of entering and dwelling in right concentration. What five? Here, a bhikkhu can patiently endure forms, sounds, tastes, and tactile objects.”

“Contemplating impermanence”, “Contemplating fading away”, “Contemplating Cessation” and “Contemplating Relinquishment” are referring to the practice of “Contemplation of Dependent Origination” or the “Contemplation of Origination and Passing Away of Four Establishments of Mindfulness”.

Because only when one knows and sees how feeling arises, seeing the conditions as impermanent, suffering, nonself, then “relinquishment of craving” is possible.

From SN 36.8

“Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwell thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this contact. But this contact is impermanent, conditioned, and dependently arisen. So when a pleasant feeling has arisen in dependence on a contact that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in contact and in pleasant feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to lust in regard to contact and in regard to pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.
Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwell thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a painful feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a painful feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this contact. But this contact is impermanent, conditioned, and dependently arisen. So when a painful feeling has arisen in dependence on a contact that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in contact and in painful feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to aversion in regard to contact and in regard to painful feeling is abandoned by him.
Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwell thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this contact. But this contact is impermanence, conditioned, and dependently arisen. So when a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling has arisen in dependence on a contact that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanent in contact and in neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to contact and in regard to pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.”

“Contemplating impermanence”, “Contemplating fading away”, “Contemplating Cessation” and “Contemplating Relinquishment” are not being elaborated in MN 118 but are elaborated in SN 36.8.

In both MN 118 and SN 54.10, it is stated that the practice of “Mindfulness of Breathing” can fulfill “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. It is worth noted though, in both suttas, the emphasis is given on the practice of “Mindfulness of Breathing”, rather than “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. It does not give much explanation on how it can fulfill “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. But if you actually compare both practices; you can understand why “Mindfulness of Breathing” can be used as a “tool” to fulfill “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”; even though both practices are not identical, strictly speaking.

To avoid causing confusion, I can’t help but point out several fallacies that were spoken by Gunaratana. As I explained, “Mindfulness of Breathing” and “Four Establishments of Mindfulness” are not identical; “Mindfulness of Breathing” is not a component of “Four Establishments of Mindfulness either; it’s just one of the many practices that can fulfill “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. When we speak of “Mindfulness” in Dhamma, we generally refer to “Four Establishments of Mindfulness” or “Mindfulness and Clear Comprehension”, rather than “Mindfulness of Breathing”.

When one begins to practice mindfulness; that is his training of “four establishments of mindfulness” is incomplete. It is understandable that he still has underlying tendency to lust, hatred, and delusion. He could not possibly pay attention without having his mind being affected by taints. Gunaratana claimed that giving the right attention is to note “breathe in”, “breathe out”, “feelings” without lust, hatred, and delusion.

Later, he gave a contradictory statement, saying that when air was being inhaled; the pleasant feeling would arise because of this action; clinging to this feeling invariably arises; it’s nature; not that the practitioner wants to cling to pleasant feeling.

His statement on the arising of clinging, to say the least, is partially true. While it is true that craving arises in dependence on feeling; but it has other conditions as well. Another notable condition for the arising of craving is ignorance. That is, for one who does not know and see the origination and passing away of phenomena, craving would arise whenever feeling arises; for the one whose taints are destroyed, it also being said of him having completely destroyed craving; that it is not subject to future arising. Without craving as condition, clinging does not arise.

From SN 23.2

“For the destruction of craving, Radha, is Nibbana.”

He also said that it was possible to have good intention without mindfulness, albeit it would bring bad result. That is completely false. The story that he cited as an example did not support it. Given the complexity of topics, I normally did not want to mention it as it would further lengthen the already-lengthy post. So bear with me, please.

Whenever some people spoke of “right mindfulness” of Noble Eightfold Path, that is Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration, they always thought “Four Establishments of Mindfulness” is the only “definition” given in the suttas as “Right Mindfulness”. In fact, “Right Mindfulness” in Noble Eightfold Path can have two related meanings; only one of them refers to “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”.

From SN 40.47

“And, what, bhikkhus, is the way leading to the development of the establishment of mindfulness? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. This is called the way leading to the development of four establishment of mindfulness”

Clearly, in SN 40.47, “right mindfulness” does not refer to “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. The two-fold meanings of Noble Eightfold Path is being clarified and explained in MN 117. What is being explicitly said is that right view, right intention, right speech, right action and right livelihood are all two-fold. One is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in acquisitions; the other is noble, taintless, and supramundane, a factor of the path. What about right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration? They are two-fold too, arguably; but their development are tied to the development of the two-fold right view, right intention, right speech, right action and right livelihood are all two-fold; otherwise it wouldn’t be twenty factors on the side of wholesome and twenty factors on the side of unwholesome, which include two-fold right knowledge, and right deliverance.

From MN 117

“And how does right view come first? One understands wrong intention is wrong intention and right intention is right intention: that is one’s right view …
One makes an effort to abandon wrong intention and develop right intention: that’s one’s right effort. Mindfully one abandons wrong intention and enters upon and abides in right intention: this is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three states run and circle around right intention, that is, right view, right effort, and right mindfulness.”

One would at least needs “right mindfulness” that is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in acquisitions to have right intention. The other important point to be made from MN 117 is that Noble Eightfold Path with the factors of noble, taintless, and supramundane is being fulfilled by the practice of “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”; as such the right mindfulness that is noble, taintless, and supramundane is arguably refer to “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”, even though it’s not being explicitly stated so.

The supramundane right view is said as “Enlightenment Factor of Discrimination of States”, which is one of the seven factors of enlightenment; all seven factors of enlightenment is fulfilled by Four Establishments of Mindfulness. Right Effort is being explained as “Four Right Strivings”. The practice to develop wholesome qualities and abandon unwholesome qualities is done by “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. All other factors are being developed by when “right view”, “right mindfulness”, and “right effort” are being developed.

What could be said of the one’s intention to observing precept is that his intention is still affected by taints; in some cases, we still call it “right intention”; because it’s a step towards the right direction of suffering less, despite the fact that he has not even begun to strive for the goal of Nibbana.

The goals of “precepts” is very different from the goal of “Four Establishments of Mindfulness”. Observing “precepts” alone generally does not lead to Nibbana; but it does lead to better rebirth, or even lays the foundation for the precepts observer to follow the path to Nibbana.


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