Satipatthana sequencing

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby nathan » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:11 am

I think the satipatthana frames of reference are discernibly distinct avenues of lived experience. There is specifically this and that to be distinctly discerned, investigated, known and understood. This is distinct from that, etc.. Thereby one is prepared to be mindful of whatever arises and of what it is.

In concentration practice each specific part of the whole is exclusively investigated at first repeatedly, then sustainedly and developing in this way towards a single pointedly encompassing nondual absorption in the object. In insight practice the attention goes where it will in various ways and to various extents. All of the khandhas arise in rapid sequences in all parts of the body and mind in all sorts of combinations. Along with overcoming grasping at and averting from these objects there is also overcoming the ignorance of the object which is the primary obstacle to clear knowing. Pleasant, painful, neither? In fact it is as many as all or none of these, it is the object du jour - of that moment. Thus the task is to take it as it comes and to endeavor to fully know it for exactly what it is, a sensation, a mental object, wholesome, harmful, etc..

In regards to Ven. Soma's comments I bear in mind that he was addressing the western readership of his day. We have such rich resources widely available now. Not so long ago it was not this way at all. It is quite possible that much of his potential readership was ignorant of the subject of meditation entirely. Even if not always the case this is an introductory work suitable for those who are.

When one is a complete beginner and entirely on their own advice that one begin with as suitable object are probably good instructions for getting the concentration necessary to begin to do insight with some effectiveness. Early on one needs every advantage just to figure out what meditating is or can be. If one better understands, then they have the suttas of the Buddha and I am sure Ven. Soma also has this in mind in providing a translation of the sutta. I much appreciated his writing in coming to my own better understanding back in the day. He was a fine writer and admirable bhikkhu imho.

In regards to the sutta, yes I do think it is a presented as a naturally sequential course of study just as it is, step by step, most likely to always be the best course, having been spoken in this way by the Buddha Himself. When the objects are clearly knowable then there is the overcoming of all delusion and ignorance to get done. Serious lotta work for lotta serious people!

I hope that fits in to the flow for now.

metta and upekkha
Last edited by nathan on Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby nathan » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:00 am

Manapa wrote:Hi Ben Retro, & All
"Enlightenment is only a moment away"
the length of that moment is another thing though

I personally think the time frames given are concerning the right method mentioned in the start, the full practice done correctly, remember Ananda took longer than 7 years under the Buddhas teachings to gain enlightenment.
As I recall and understand this, Ven. Ananda was busy as the Buddha's personal attendant, very busy, most every day. When he was not allowed into the first council as he was still a stream entrant and the Buddha was now dead as soon as Ven. Kasapa insisted he must be an Arahat to attend he completed the task in less than a day. I would not underestimate Ven. Ananda's capacities.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby nathan » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:17 pm

Thanks for the well informed discussion everyone.

The comments on comments have brought more comments to mind. Go figure.

On the broader question of how to apply the satipatthana practices; until it's been fully perfected in every way this form of satipatthana could not by nature of the practitioner be performed perfectly in some kind of methodical sequential manner.

A capacity for exhaustive insight via satipatthana could be employed as one way of specifying what necessitates a determination of complete mastery towards a full analytical understanding of dhamma supportive of the four analytical knowledges. This may be why great asceticism was employed to that end even by Arahats.

The elimination of all ignorance obscuring the range of knowables from a fully applicable mindful attention to the known does appear to be necessary for full awakening. Does one need to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the knowable and of extant causes and results to enable the full awakening? It is necessary to master this understanding fully in some way but what of this knowing the known is the path and what is the known in the known upon full awakening? There is both the gradual practice processes of training in knowing and the ultimate resultant kinds of the ways of ultimate knowing.

The degree of insight development necessary for further progress on the path of insight at each successive point on the path is always more insight than the degree of insight necessary previously. The insight gained pertains to all of the frames of reference. How much each new development of insight needs to be applied to the whole of experience can vary a lot. One might progress from one nana to another very quickly in one specific frame of reference and then remain in others examining all of these frames of reference for a long period of time.

Until it is perfected satipatthana can be practiced methodically in this specifically sequential way or not. Why not? Once competent in all these forms of mindfulness one could do satipatthana all the time no matter what sequences are experienced. Regardless of how satipatthana mindfulness is applied in practice any improvement in overall understanding supports the development of further progress of insight throughout the moments of practice and experience. I don't think we have to consider this as a rigidly inflexible course of practice only as a whole practice. This Satipatthana Sutta is one sutta presenting a central way of developing understanding among many which present these forms and modes of purifying the process of investigation into the entire nature of lived experience.

These suttas are definitely meditation instructions. I think the complete necessary meditation instructions are comprehensively presented by the Buddha in many ways within the whole of His discourses. A Noble or a learned teacher is always desirable. The greatest of them all has passed but his words have never been so accessible to so many of us as today. It is wonderful what this has done for everyone's understanding. It is like protestants finally getting handed a bible for the first time in a millenia! I'm curious what even more sophisticated questions and comments the Buddha's discourses will attract in the next hundred years. Any knowable yet nearly imponderably deep subjects can be plumbed usefully for a long time before they dry up.

Ven. Analayo's book is great, thanks for posting the extracts Zavk. It is a book, once again, written for the audience of our day and the much larger audience of very learned and accomplished practitioners for whom again english is the first or only accessible language. It would be difficult to try to give the two works a fair comparison. Someone today can read both. Clearly Ven. Analayo's book is more helpful for those of intermediate understanding than Ven. Soma's book while an advanced understanding is less likely to rely on books nearly as much at all.

The better I understand Dhamma, the more fully content I am with the discourses straight up, they encompass so much and are so well put. However my fuller understanding develops, through further study of writings or by further self discipline the details all continue to enhance the same overall picture of the the truth. Any true commentary retains that degree of truthfulness that it truly has. Beyond this, comment is best considered in terms of it's particular intent on the part of the writer and the requirements of the given readership at that time. We might note that the suttas themselves are so rich in potent meaning and importance that they might support nearly limitless commentary dependent upon...conditions. Fortunately there are reasonable limits to useful, helpful or beneficial comment or I would be completely insufferable!
:smile:

metta and upekkha
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby phil » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:46 am

Hi all

Some mention above re the Bhikkhu Bodhi MN talks on this sutta. (Rather long, about 10 hours for the whole sutta, but very helpful in my opinion.)

At the very beginning of the talks, he raves (so to speak) about a certain book on satipatthana by a fellow monk. Repeatedly says how excellent it is and that anyone who really wants to better understand satipatthana should read it. Does anyone remember the title, and can anyone who has read it tell us a bit about what it says re this thread topic? Thanks.

Metta,

Phil
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(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:03 am

Hi Phil,

Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization
by Analayo
http://www.windhorsepublications.com/Ca ... ductID=681
http://www.amazon.com/Satipatthana-Dire ... 1899579540

Metta
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby phil » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Phil,

Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization
by Analayo
http://www.windhorsepublications.com/Ca ... ductID=681
http://www.amazon.com/Satipatthana-Dire ... 1899579540

Metta
Mike



Thanks Mike, that's the one.

Metta,

Phil
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:47 pm

Greetings,

Analayo's text has been mentioned above (in particular a section from later in the book), but as I go through the text now, I see that the matter of sequencing is actually covered off quite early in the piece in Chapters 1.2 & 1.3.... for anyone interested in checking that out.

:reading:

:meditate:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby Ben » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:33 am

Hi Paul
Jump to Ch IV.4 and check out the satipatthana sequencing in the Anapana Sutta.
kind regards

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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby catmoon » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:25 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Comments, questions, corrections, criticisms, slaps around the face... whatever is relevant... are all appreciated.

:meditate:

Metta,
Retro. :)


*SLAP* :jumping:


Retro, are you in danger of constructing a pet theory?

It seems clear to me that the idea is that there are these four objects of meditation, any of which may be used to progress as far as desired. By placing them in rigid sequence, it seems to me that you condemn all meditators to spending three fourths of their time meditating with an object unsuited to them!
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:40 pm

Greetings Catmoon,

catmoon wrote:By placing them in rigid sequence, it seems to me that you condemn all meditators to spending three fourths of their time meditating with an object unsuited to them!

The sequence is not rigid, but not irrelevant either. If sati is already strong enough to attend to dhammas, then why not dive right in? That's where the delusions of self will become untangled.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:27 pm

In my experience the four establishments can only be seperated on paper. In actual contemplation they may arise in any sequence and or order. In Nyanaponika thera's heart of buddhist meditation pg. 58 he recommends focusing on a few selected contemplations and turning attention to the other contemplation's when an opportunity in the course of pactice arises.

Bodhi in ACM pg. 279 says " The four foundations of mindfulness have a single essence, which consists of mindful contemplation of phenomenon. They are differentiated in so far as this mindful contemplation is to be applied to four objects."

Ps 1 240 also says that "It is only by way of differing objects that they are distinguished.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:32 pm

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:In my experience the four establishments can only be seperated on paper.

What about those which are sensory inputs versus those which are responses to those inputs?

What do you make of Nathan's earlier comment?

Nathan wrote:I think the satipatthana frames of reference are discernibly distinct avenues of lived experience.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:27 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:In my experience the four establishments can only be seperated on paper.

What about those which are sensory inputs versus those which are responses to those inputs?

What do you make of Nathan's earlier comment?

Nathan wrote:I think the satipatthana frames of reference are discernibly distinct avenues of lived experience.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I fail to see the ability to seperate sense input from the reaction or vedana as it is dependently arisen.

"'From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. If there were no contact at all, in any way, of anything anywhere — i.e., contact at the eye, contact at the ear, contact at the nose, contact at the tongue, contact at the body, or contact at the intellect — in the utter absence of contact, from the cessation of contact, would feeling be discerned?" DN 15
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:28 am

As for nathans comment distinct yes but not seperate. This is just my limited understanding. How will i know im wrong if im not corrected?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:36 am

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:I fail to see the ability to seperate sense input from the reaction or vedana as it is dependently arisen.


Well the matter of dependent origination is precisely why I ask, although in the sutta quotation you provided, it stopped before getting to tanha (craving), which is itself dependent arisen from vedana. I think this as an important step to observe, and of course, one more associated with the latter aspects of the satipatthana sequence.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:02 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:I fail to see the ability to seperate sense input from the reaction or vedana as it is dependently arisen.


Well the matter of dependent origination is precisely why I ask, although in the sutta quotation you provided, it stopped before getting to tanha (craving), which is itself dependent arisen from vedana. I think this as an important step to observe, and of course, one more associated with the latter aspects of the satipatthana sequence.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Agreed.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby Freawaru » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:06 pm

Hi Retro,

I have been wondering about these character classes in Theravada for I don't see them as useful or correct regarding meditation practice so far. What I do find on the other hand is that practice and access of the object of sati depends on my current state. For example, when I am agitated and wake and "nervous", extrovert, it is more easy to be mindful of consciousness than feelings or the body. When I am tired and mentally slow it is more easy to observe the body (breath etc) than thoughts or feelings. When my mind is wake and keen and "introvert" dhamma becomes accessible. It seems to me more a matter of what object frame is dominant at the given moment than an actual "character class" of persons that can access this or that frame more easily.

retrofuturist wrote:
In the introduction to Soma Thera's commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta there is talk, based on the traditional commentarial expositions about choosing one frame of reference as your "preliminary object of contemplation"

All the four different objects of mindfulness: body, feeling, consciousness and mental objects, have to be understood before one reaches sanctitude. According to character, temperament and cognizing slant, one can make however only one of these the preliminary object of contemplation. It is often the case that owing to a lack of proper understanding of oneself one has to try all objects before one gets to know what suits one best for the preliminary work. The choice is made more difficult by the fact that most of us have no clear-cut natures and are a mixture of a little of every possible human characteristic. In these circumstances there is no alternative to the method of trial and error. But the earnest ones will find their way with persistence and sustained effort.

By character there are two types determined by the excess of sensuous qualities of craving, or of the asensuous qualities of abstract beliefs that make up their personality. The craving type is generally extrovert; the other is generally introvert. According to temperament there are those whose mental functioning is slow, those who are languid mentally and those who are mentally keen, the nervous type. But here it must be understood that the terms languid and nervous have no necessary connection with calm and excitement. The nervous often keep cool when the languid fluster. The nervous type is sensitive, but strong and vigorous and keen. The nervous think forcefully and clearly. The languid are sluggish, inert, and weak, unclear, discursive, and often mixed-up in thought. Cognizing slant is either intuitive or intellective.

According to character and temperament the body-object is recommended for the languid extravert and the feeling-object for the nervous extrovert. For the languid introvert the consciousness-object is recommended, and for the nervous introvert, mental objects.

According to cognizing slant and temperament the body-object is pointed out for the mentally slow who belong to the intuitive kind which makes concentration its vehicle for progress, and for the mentally keen of this kind the feeling-object. For the mentally slow who belong to the intellective kind which makes insight its vehicle the consciousness-object is recommended, and to the mentally keen of this kind the mental object.

Further, contemplation on the body destroys the delusion of beauty; that on feeling destroys the delusion of pleasure; contemplation on consciousness dispels the delusion of permanence; and that on mental objects, the delusion of the soul.




For example to start with the satipatthana sutta (the long breath) I need to slow down my mind first. To relax body and thoughts, emotions, feelings etc, to make them slow, weak, languid. Only then the more subtle aspects of the body become accessible. Obviously, one does not need to relax body and thoughts to practice sati on the feelings. On the contrary. It is more easy to discern whatever arises as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral when the mind is in any extrovert state and so on. When relaxing my mind, making it weak, for sleep or daydreaming, etc, it is most easy to practice the consciousness-objects while observing the mental object requires quite some sharpness of mind.

So I would say it is more a matter of understanding oneself first, which frame of reference is more accessible than the others at any given time to decide for an object of sati.

I know this is not as teachers like Soma Thera seem to teach it but it works for me.
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:12 pm

Freawaru wrote:So I would say it is more a matter of understanding oneself first, which frame of reference is more accessible than the others at any given time to decide for an object of sati.

I know this is not as teachers like Soma Thera seem to teach it but it works for me.

My recollection of the book is that he discusses the usual Mahasi-style stuff, and that's exactly what is taught - be aware of whatever arises. Of course, one uses rising-falling etc if nothing else arises...

Metta
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby bodom » Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:55 pm

I came across an interesting and relevent passage in Analalayo's satipatthana commentary in which he quotes an article by Goenka entitled "Sensation the Key to Satipatthana" pg. 22 note 16. In this article Goenka proposes that "Since the "body" is to be experienced via "feelings", which at the same time are related to the "mind" by being "mental objects" , by observing bodily sensations one can cover all four satipatthanas.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Satipatthana sequencing

Postby catmoon » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:00 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Catmoon,


The sequence is not rigid, but not irrelevant either. If sati is already strong enough to attend to dhammas, then why not dive right in? That's where the delusions of self will become untangled.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I feel quite unsure that I understand what exactly you are saying.

It seems to me you are advocating using all objects of meditation. The reason not to do this is that you would not want an excitable person to use an object that excites the mind, or you would not want a tranquilizing object if you tend to torpor. And so on.
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