Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Where we gather to focus on a single discourse or thematic collection from the Sutta Piṭaka (new selection every two weeks)
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piotr
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by piotr »

Hi,
Dmytro wrote:Ven. Analayo, following his teacher, Ven. Nyanaponika, writes on page 58:

"Uninvolved and detached receptivity as one of the crucial characteristics of 'sati' forms an important aspect in the teachings of several modern meditation teachers and scholars. They emphasize that the purpose of 'sati' is solely to make things conscious, not to eliminate them. Sati silently observes, like a spectator at play, without in any way interfering. Some refer to this non-reactive feature of 'sati' as "choiceless" awareness. "Choiceless" in the sense that with such awareness one remains impartially aware, without reacting with likes or dislikes."
This simile gives quite different idea, than the simile used in the suttas:
  • Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this sixth true quality is he endowed.

    — Nagara Sutta: The Fortress (AN 7.63)
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...
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Assaji
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Assaji »

Hi Piotr,
piotr wrote:This simile gives quite different idea, than the simile used in the suttas:
  • Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this sixth true quality is he endowed.

    — Nagara Sutta: The Fortress (AN 7.63)
Thank you for the quote. The misconceptions about "sati" are so deeply embedded in the Western Buddhism that it is rare to encounter a reasonable argument.

Let's replace "mindfulness" in your quote with "remembrance", which is much more natural, taking in account the "remembering & able to call to mind". Then we get:

Just as the royal frontier fortress has a gate-keeper — wise, experienced, intelligent — to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a disciple of the noble ones is endowed with remembrance (sati), highly meticulous, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. With remembrance (sati) as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. With this sixth true quality is he endowed.

(6) Seyyathāpi bhikkhave, rañño paccantime nagare dovāriko hoti paṇḍito viyatto medhāvī aññātānaṃ nivaretā ñātānaṃ pavesetā abbhantarānaṃ guttiyā bāhirānaṃ paṭighātāya, evameva kho bhikkhave, ariyasāvako satimā hoti paramena satinepakkena samannāgato cirakatampi cirabhāsitampi saritā anussaritā. Sati dovāriko bhikkhave, ariyasāvako akusalaṃ pajahati, kusalaṃbhāveti, sāvajjaṃ pajahati, anavajjaṃ bhāveti, suddhaṃ attānaṃ pariharati. Iminā chaṭṭhena saddhammena samannāgato hoti.

— Nagara Sutta: The Fortress

The role of "sati" here is clarified in the Maha-cattarisaka sutta:

So micchādiṭṭhiyā pahānāya vāyamati sammādiṭṭhiyā upasampadāya. Svāssa hoti sammāvāyāmo. So sato micchādiṭṭhiṃ pajahati. Sato sammādiṭṭhiṃ upasampajja viharati. Sāssa hoti sammāsati. Itissime tayo dhammā sammādiṭṭhiṃ anuparidhāvanti anuparivattanti. Seyyathīdaṃ: sammādiṭṭhi sammāvāyāmo sammāsati.

"One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is endowed with remembrance (sato) to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right remembrance (sati). Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right remembrance (sati) — run & circle around right view."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here we see what exactly remembers one endowed with sati.

Ven. Analayo, on page 46, acknowledges that "the noun sati is related to the verb 'sarati', to remember". However on the page 47 he takes a sudden turn and writes that "[in the] context of satipatthana it [sati] is not concerned with recalling past events, but functions as awareness of the present moment". In the footnote he refers to the works of Ven. Nyanaponika, Nyanavira, Rhys Davids and Griffith, and does not give any scruptural references for such an important statement.

Indeed, sati in the context of satipatthana is not concerned with recalling past events. It is concerned with remembering to abandon what is uskillful and developing what is skillful - the point which is traditionally misunderstood in the Western Buddhism.
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Piotr & Dmytro,

Thanks for your posts... it's something to sati.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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James the Giant
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by James the Giant »

So... how does this argument about sati as remembrance and sati as mindfulness make any difference to my meditation practise? What should I be doing instead? Should I throw away everything I have learned and start again?
Dmytro, can you please post a link to some description of what proper practise is, or proper meditation practise should be? Not a sutta please, something in plain English written for those with the meanest of understandings. Thanks!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by tiltbillings »

James the Giant wrote:So... how does this argument about sati as remembrance and sati as mindfulness make any difference to my meditation practise? What should I be doing instead?
It is an interesting issue as to how to understand sati. Quite frankly, as with any number of words in the suttas, the meaning is dependent upon context, not just dictionary meaning. I think, however, those who want to argue a strict dictionary meaning for sati should start a new thread, since that would takes us away from a direct discussion of the book. The issue of sati as memory and as "present moment aweareness" is discussed on pages 46-9.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Brizzy »

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Piotr & Dmytro,

Thanks for your posts... it's something to sati.

Metta,
Retro. :)
So, would that be "rememberance WITH breathing", that is a real possibility.

Metta

Brizzy
Ignorance is an intentional act.
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Brizzy,
Brizzy wrote:So, would that be "rememberance WITH breathing", that is a real possibility.
Sorry, to be mildly off-topic, but the Police come to mind here...
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
I didn't know that Sting was into satipatthana and anapanasati.

:rofl:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view?" (SN 5.10)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Assaji
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Assaji »

Hi James,
James the Giant wrote:So... how does this argument about sati as remembrance and sati as mindfulness make any difference to my meditation practise? What should I be doing instead? Should I throw away everything I have learned and start again?
Dmytro, can you please post a link to some description of what proper practise is, or proper meditation practise should be? Not a sutta please, something in plain English written for those with the meanest of understandings.
You point to the problem I see with many books on the Buddha's teaching, including the book by Ven. Analayo.
Too often this or that practise is presented as the proper meditation practise, which exactly corresponds to the Sutta. Other practises are considered thereby not so proper.

The honest approach would be to acknowledge that Buddha's teaching is partly lost, and we can only reconstruct it in the best way possible. This would provide space for many varieties of reconstruction, and for many possible practises. Then we would also be able to seek constructively for better and better reconstructions of the Buddha's teaching.

I do think that many meditation experts already practice in line with Buddha's instructions on Satipatthana, despite all the misunderstandings. But these misunderstandings may make the description of practice somewhat clumsy. I think that the deeper understanding of the Sutta will help such people to recognize things they are already doing, practice them more efficiently, and describe them more clearly.

For example, what many describe as 'mindfulness' corresponds rather to the Pali 'sampajanna'

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5570" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There are some very useful Sutta instructions on such practice, e.g.

“Katha~nca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajaano hoti? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno viditaa vedanaa uppajjanti, viditaa upa.t.thahanti, viditaa abbhattha.m gacchanti. Viditaa vitakkaa uppajjanti, viditaa upa.t.thahanti, viditaa abbhattha.m gacchanti. Viditaa sa~n~naa uppajjanti, viditaa upa.t.thahanti, viditaa abbhattha.m gacchanti. Eva.m kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajaano hoti.

And how, monks, is a monk mindful? Here, friends, feelings arise known to a monk, known they persist, known they go to an end. Recognitions arise known, known they persist, known they go to an end. Thoughts arise known, known they persist, known they go to an end. In such a way, monks, is a monk mindful.

(Sati sutta, SN 5:180)
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by tiltbillings »

Dmytro wrote:The honest approach would be to acknowledge that Buddha's teaching is partly lost, and we can only reconstruct it in the best way possible. This would provide space for many varieties of reconstruction, and for many possible practises. Then we would also be able to seek constructively for better and better reconstructions of the Buddha's teaching.
Then why is it that you are consistently critical and dismissive of the Burmese vipassana tradition's reconstruction, which was done by highly knowledgeable monks, certainly having far more knowledge of the suttas and Pali than we have seen here from you?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Dan74 »

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Brizzy,
Brizzy wrote:So, would that be "rememberance WITH breathing", that is a real possibility.
Sorry, to be mildly off-topic, but the Police come to mind here...
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
I didn't know that Sting was into satipatthana and anapanasati.

:rofl:

Metta,
Retro. :)
:jumping:

Sting is Buddhist, isn't he? A Vajrayana practitioner, I think and some of their schools are very fond of satipatthana.

:focus:

I struggle to understand how this discerning sati as opposed to bare awareness would happen in meditation. So you sit and proliferate more thoughts about thoughts, more mind states in reaction to mind states?

I thought the Buddha's instruction on discerning the wholesome from the unwholesome were to do with developing and maintaining sila rather than meditation instructions.

Sorry for being dense, I just don't follow, but I would like to understand what Dmytro was arguing for.
_/|\_
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imagemarie
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by imagemarie »

Thank-you for this thread.

It just struck me that putting things down in order to practice "bare awareness", is what happens when I'm on the cushion.
And discerning attention/recollection/mindfulness, is something I largely fail to practice when I am NOT on the cushion.

:smile: Thank-you.

:anjali:
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Nāgariko »

tiltbillings wrote:
James the Giant wrote:So... how does this argument about sati as remembrance and sati as mindfulness make any difference to my meditation practise? What should I be doing instead?
It is an interesting issue as to how to understand sati. Quite frankly, as with any number of words in the suttas, the meaning is dependent upon context, not just dictionary meaning. I think, however, those who want to argue a strict dictionary meaning for sati should start a new thread, since that would takes us away from a direct discussion of the book. The issue of sati as memory and as "present moment aweareness" is discussed on pages 46-9.
The context sati used in ānāpānasati and satipaṭṭhāna would seem to have the same context of use. The meditator intends to bring awareness to the task of contemplating the breath and the 4 paṭṭhānas?
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by tiltbillings »

Dan74 wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I struggle to understand how this discerning sati as opposed to bare awareness would happen in meditation. So you sit and proliferate more thoughts about thoughts, more mind states in reaction to mind states?

I thought the Buddha's instruction on discerning the wholesome from the unwholesome were to do with developing and maintaining sila rather than meditation instructions.

Sorry for being dense, I just don't follow, but I would like to understand what Dmytro was arguing for.
Do you have the book? Have you read the Ven author's discussion of sati?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Assaji
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Assaji »

tiltbillings wrote:Then why is it that you are consistently critical and dismissive of the Burmese vipassana tradition's reconstruction, which was done by highly knowledgeable monks, certainly having far more knowledge of the suttas and Pali than we have seen here from you?
Evidently you are talking about the "bare attention", equated with 'sati' on the page 60 of Ven. Analayo's book.

Since my humble opinion is unlikely to contribute to your knowledge, here is an opinion of Alan Wallace, and his correspondence with Bhikkhu Bodhi:
While mindfulness (sati) is often equated with bare attention, my conversations with—and recent studies of works by—the learned monks Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Analayo, and Rupert Gethin, president of the Pali Text Society, led me to conclude that bare attention corresponds much more closely to the Pali term manasikara, which is commonly translated as "attention" or "mental engagement." This word refers to the initial split seconds of the bare cognizing of an object, before one begins to recognize, identify, and conceptualize, and in Buddhist accounts it is not regarded as a wholesome mental factor. It is ethically neutral. The primary meaning of sati, on the other hand, is recollection, nonforgetfulness. This includes retrospective memory of things in the past, prospectively remembering to do something in the future, and present-centered recollection in the sense of maintaining unwavering attention to a present reality. The opposite of mindfulness is forgetfulness, so mindfulness applied to the breath, for instance, involves continuous, unwavering attention to the respiration. Mindfulness may be used to sustain bare attention (manasikara), but nowhere do traditional Buddhist sources equate mindfulness with such attention.
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha344.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
As you well know, in the current Vipassana tradition as it has been widely propagated in the West, sati is more or less defined as “bare attention,” or the moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental awareness of whatever arises in the present moment. There is no doubt that the cultivation of such mindfulness is very helpful, but, strangely enough, I have found no evidence in traditional Pāli, Sanskrit, or Tibetan sources to support this definition of sati (smṛti, dran pa).
http://shamatha.org/content/corresponde ... kkhu-bodhi" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://shamatha.org/sites/default/files ... ndence.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Assaji
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Re: Satipatthana: The direct path to realization

Post by Assaji »

Hi Dan,
Dan74 wrote:I struggle to understand how this discerning sati as opposed to bare awareness would happen in meditation. So you sit and proliferate more thoughts about thoughts, more mind states in reaction to mind states?

I thought the Buddha's instruction on discerning the wholesome from the unwholesome were to do with developing and maintaining sila rather than meditation instructions.

Sorry for being dense, I just don't follow, but I would like to understand what Dmytro was arguing for.
A very good example is given in the earliest explanation of Anapanasati practice in Patisambhidamagga:
What are the thirteen kinds of knowledge of cleansing (vodana: also connotation of 'brightening')?

(1) Mind that runs after the past is attacked by distrac­tion: by avoiding that he concentrates it in one place, thus mind does not become distracted.
(2) Mind that looks forward to the future is shakable: by avoiding that he composes it there, thus also mind does not become distracted.
(3) Slack mind is attacked by indolence: by exerting it he abandons indolence, thus also mind does not become distracted.
(4) Over-exerted mind is attacked by agitation: by curbing it he abandons agitation, thus also mind does not become distracted.
(5) Enticed mind is attacked by greed: by being fully aware of that he abandons greed, thus also mind does not become distracted.
(6) Repelled mind is attacked by ill-will: by being fully aware of that he abandons ill-will, thus also mind does not become distracted.
http://dhamma.ru/forum/index.php?topic= ... 93#msg9193" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The ancient meditation masters, while observing inbreath and oubreath, were able to discern the specific mental qualities evident in the breath, and were able to abandon the unskillful qualities and develop skillful ones.

As for the Satipatthana practice, the example of it is given in Bhikkhunupassaya sutta:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 656#p88181" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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