Cattaro Satipatthana = "The Four Arousings of Mindfulness." Four in relation to classes of objects of mindfulness.
Why did the Buddha teach just Four Arousings of Mindfulness and neither more nor less? By way of what was suitable for those capable of being trained.
In regard to the pair of the dull-witted and the keen-witted minds among tamable persons of the craving type and the theorizing type, pursuing the path of quietude [samatha] or that of insight [vipassana] in the practice of meditation, the following is stated: For the dull-witted man of craving type the Arousing of Mindfulness through the contemplation of the gross physical body is the Path to Purity; for the keen-witted of this type, the subtle subject of meditation on the feeling. And for the dull-witted man of the theorizing type the Path to Purity is the Arousing of Mindfulness through a subject not too full of distinctions, namely, consciousness [citta]; for the keen-witted of this type, the subject which teems with distinctions, namely the contemplation on things of the mind — mental objects [dhammanupassana].
For the dull-witted man, pursuing quietude, the First Arousing of Mindfulness, body-contemplation, is the Path to Purity, by reason of the feasibility of getting at the mental reflex; for the keen-witted of this type, because he does not continue to stay in the coarse, the second Arousing of Mindfulness, the contemplation on feeling, is the Path to Purity.
And for the dull-witted man pursuing the path of insight, the subject of meditation without many distinctions, the contemplation on consciousness, is the Path to Purity; and for the keen-witted of this type the contemplation on mental objects which is full of distinctions.
retrofuturist wrote:1.) the earlier steps help sharpen the mind for the later steps
retrofuturist wrote:2.) Each step reveals more penetrative insight than the last
retrofuturist wrote:3) I don't think the Buddha was offering them up as a platter of options, rather a cohesive program.
zavk wrote:He suggested that, 'From awareness of the main object of meditation, the dynamics of contemplation can at any given moment lead to any of the other satipatthana exercises, and then revert to the main object.' This reading suggests that one does indeed need to proceed systematically by starting with one of the satipatthana--so we cannot accurately say that it is a 'platter of options.' But because the contemplation can give rise at any moment to any other satipatthana exercises, the systematic approach only applies to a certain extent, that is, the 'system' is really an open and porous one--so we cannot accurately say that is a 'cohesive program' either.
zavk wrote:Noted, Retro. So perhaps I shouldn't have attributed those ideas directly to Soma Thera but to those who composed the commentaries who, one might assume, were writing from within their specific context of experience.
retrofuturist wrote:Perhaps, yet I'm still inclined to think that if the "cleaving what is really a multi-faceted practice into self-contained units" (your words, but good words!) is what the Buddha intended, he would have said so for himself. .....it's hard to imagine the Buddha being so remiss as to leave out something so significant to one's application of the teaching.
The first section of the Satipatthana Sutta proper introduces the four satipatthanas as the" direct path" to realization. The passage reads:
Monks, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of dukkha and discontent, for acquiring the true method, for the realization of Nibbana, namely, the four satipatthanas.'
The qualification of being a "direct path" occurs in the discourses almost exclusively as an attribute of satipatthana, thus it conveys a considerable degree of emphasis. Such emphasis is indeed warranted, since practice of the "direct path" of satipatthana is an indispensable requirement for liberation. As a set of verses in the Satipatthana Samyutta point out, satipatthana is the" direct path" for crossing the flood in past, present, and future times.
"Direct path" is a translation of the Pali expression ekayano maggo, made up of the parts eka, "one", ayana, "going", and magga, "path". The commentarial tradition has preserved five alternative explanations for understanding this particular expression. According to them, a path qualified as ekayano could be understood as a "direct" path in the sense of leading straight to the goal; as a path to be travelled by oneself "alone"; as a path taught by the "One" (the Buddha); as a path that is found "only" in Buddhism; or as a path which leads to "one" goal, namely to Nibbana. My rendering of ekaayano as "direct path" follows the first of these explanations. A more commonly used translation of ekiiyano is "the only path", corresponding to the fourth of the five explanations found in commentaries.
In order to assess the meaning of a particular Pali term, its different occurrences in the discourses need to be taken into account. In the present case, in addition to occurring in several discourses in relation to satipatthana, ekayano also comes up once in a different text. This is in a simile in the Mahasihanada Sutta, which describes a man walking along a path leading to a pit, such that one can anticipate him falling into the pit. This path is qualified as ekayano. In this context ekayano seems to express straightness of direction; than exclusion. To say that this path leads "directly" to the pit would be more fitting than saying that it is "the only" path leading to the pit.
Of related interest is also the Tevijja Sutta, which reports two Brahmin students arguing about whose teacher taught the only correct path to union with Brahma. Although in this context an exclusive expression like "the only path" might be expected, the qualification ekayano is conspicuously absent. The same absence recurs in a verse from the Dhammapada, which presents the noble eightfold path as "the only path". These two instances suggest that the discourses did not avail themselves of the qualification ekayano in order to convey exclusiveness.
Thus ekayano, conveying a sense of directness rather than exclusiveness, draws attention to satipatthana as the aspect of the eightfold path most "directly" responsible for uncovering a vision things as they truly are. That is, satipatthana is the "direct path” because it leads" directly" to the realization of Nibbiina.
This way of understanding also fits well with the final passage of the Satipatthana Sutta. Having stated that satipatthana practice can lead to the two higher stages of realization within a maximum of seven years, the discourse closes with the declaration: "because of this, it has been said - this is the direct path". This passage highlights the directness of satipatthana, in the sense of its potential to lead to the highest stages of realization within a limited period of time.
(From pp. 27-29.)
zavk wrote:It's interesting that you mention the phrase 'only path' because Analayo examines the definition of the term and raises some questions about how we might understand it. It was one of the things that struck me early in his book. I won't type it out but will post again when I find the time to scan and OCR the two pages or so.
Peter wrote:I recall Bhikkhu Bodhi saying this might be more accurately translated as "one going way" as in "for one who develops this path their practice will end up at Nibbana and no where else. This seems to be the gist of Ven. Analayo's comments as well.
"The only way" = The one way [Ekayanoti ekamaggo]. There are many words for "way." The word used for "way" here is "ayana" ("going" or road). Therefore, "This is the only way, O bhikkhus [ekayano ayam bhikkhave maggo]" means here: "A single way ("going" or road), O bhikkhus, is this way; it is not of the nature of a double way [ekamaggo ayam bhikkhave maggo na dvedhapathabhuto]."
Or it is "the only way" because it has to be trodden by oneself only [ekeneva ayitabbo]. That is without a companion. The state of being companionless is twofold: without a comrade, after abandoning contact with the crowd, and in the sense of being withdrawn (or secluded) from craving, through tranquillity of mind.
Or it is called "ekayana" because it is the way of the one [ekassa ayana]. "Of the one" = of the best; of all beings the Blessed One is best. Therefore, it is called the Blessed One's Way. Although others too go along that way, it is the Buddha's because he creates it. Accordingly it is said: "He, the Blessed One, is the creator of the uncreated path, O Brahman." It proceeds (or exists) only in this Doctrine-and-discipline and not in any other. Accordingly the Master declared: "Subhadda, only in this Doctrine-and-discipline is the Eightfold Way to be found." And further, "ekayana" means: It goes to the one [ekam ayati] — that is, it (the way) goes solely to Nibbana. Although in the earlier stages this method of meditation proceeds on different lines, in the latter, it goes to just the one Nibbana. And that is why Brahma Sahampati said:
Whose mind perceiving life's last dying out
Vibrates with love, he knows the only way
That led in ancient times, is leading now,
And in the future will lead past the flood.6
As Nibbana is without a second, that is, without craving as accompanying quality, it is called the one. Hence it is said: "Truth is one; it is without a second."
Why is the Arousing of Mindfulness intended by the word "way"? Are there not many other factors of the way, namely, understanding, thinking, speech, action, livelihood, effort, and concentration, besides mindfulness? To be sure there are. But all these are implied when the Arousing of Mindfulness is mentioned, because these factors exist in union with mindfulness. Knowledge, energy and the like are mentioned in the analytically expository portion [niddese]. In the synopsis [uddese], however, the consideration should be regarded as that of mindfulness alone, by way of the mental disposition of those capable of being trained.
Some [keci], however, construing according to the stanza beginning with the words, "They do not go twice to the further shore [na param digunam yanti]"7 say, "One goes to Nibbana once, therefore it is ekayana." This explanation is not proper. Because in this instruction the earlier part of the Path is intended to be presented, the preliminary part of the Way of Mindfulness proceeding in the four objects of contemplation is meant here, and not the supramundane Way of Mindfulness. And that preliminary part of the Path proceeds (for the aspirant) many times; or it may be said that there is many a going on it, by way of repetition of practice.
In what sense is it a "way"? In the sense of the path going towards Nibbana, and in the sense of the path which is the one that should be (or is fit to be) traversed by those who wish to reach Nibbana.
Regarding "the only way" there is the following account of a discussion that took place long ago.
The Elder Tipitaka Culla Naga said: "The Way of Mindfulness-arousing (as expounded in our Discourse) is the (mundane) preliminary part (of the Eightfold Way)."
His teacher the Elder Culla Summa said: "The Way is a mixed one (a way that is both mundane and supramundane)."
The pupil: "Reverend Sir, it is the preliminary part."
The teacher: "Friend, it is the mixed Way."
As the teacher was insistent, the pupil became silent. They went away without coming to a decision.
On the way to the bathing place the teacher considered the matter. He recited the Discourse. When he came to the part where it is said: "O bhikkhus, should any person maintain the Four Arousings of Mindfulness in this manner for seven years," he concluded that after producing the consciousness of the Supramundane Path there was no possibility of continuing in that state of mind for seven years, and that his pupil, Culla Naga, was right. On that very day, which happened to be the eighth of the lunar fortnight, it was the elder Culla Naga's turn to expound the Dhamma. When the exposition was about to begin, the Elder Culla Summa went to the Hall of Preaching and stood behind the pulpit.
After the pupil had recited the preliminary stanzas the teacher spoke to the pupil in the hearing of others, saying, "Friend, Culla Naga." The pupil heard the voice of his teacher and replied: "What is it, Reverend Sir?" The teacher said this: "To say, as I did, that the Way is a mixed one is not right. You are right in calling it the preliminary part of the Way of Mindfulness-arousing." Thus the Elders of old were not envious and did not go about holding up only what they liked as though it were a bundle of sugar-cane. They took up what was rational; they gave up what was not.
Thereupon, the pupil, realising that on a point on which experts of the Dhamma like his learned teacher had floundered, fellows of the holy life in the future were more likely to be unsure, thought: "With the authority of a citation from the Discourse-collection, I will settle this question." Therefore, he brought out and placed before his hearers the following statement from the Patisambhida Magga: "The preliminary part of the Way of Mindfulness-arousing is called the only way."8 And, in order to elaborate just that and to show of which path or way the instruction in our Discourse is the preliminary part, he further quoted the following also from the Patisambhida Magga: "The Excellent Way is the Eightfold way; four are truths; dispassion is the best of things belonging to the wise; besides that Way there is no other for the purifying of vision. Walk along that Way so that you may confound Death, and put an end to suffering."9
zavk wrote:[Please start from two posts up]
The flexible interpretation of the satipatthana contemplations in actual practice can be illustrated by taking a cross section, as it were, through the direct path of satipatthana. Such a sectional view would resemble a twelve-petalled flower (see Fig 15.2 below), with the main object of contemplation (here the breath is used as an example) constituting the centre of the “flower”.
From awareness of the main object of meditation, the dynamics of contemplation can at any given moment lead to any of the other satipatthana exercises, and then revert to the main object. That is, from being aware of the process of breathing, for example, awareness might turn to any other occurrence in the realm of body, feelings, mind, or dhammas which has become prominent, and then revert to the breath. Otherwise, in the event that the newly-arisen object of meditation should require sustained attention and deeper investigation, it can become the new centre of the flower, with the former object turned into one of the petals.