Satipatthana Sutta

The Satipatthana Sutta is a foundational text for those who practice meditation within any Buddhist tradition. Zen practitioners can easily discern the origins of our practices within its words. The following text is translated by Jason Siff from the shorter of the two versions available. It is edited to remove repeated material and one passage is shifted from its original position as is explained in his introduction to his translation. Among the many translations currently available I found this version particularly accessible. Siff also provides a helpful glossary.

A MODERN TRANSLATION OF THE SATIPATTHANA SUTTA

by Jason Siff

PART ONE

Once, When the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kurus, in a small town they called Kammasadhamma, I heard him address those assembled. Bhikkhus, he said. Bhaddante, they replied. Then he spoke at length. One way is this road, purifying the minds of those who walk it, to go beyond tears and lamentation, to end pain and gloom, to enter final knowledge, to realize quenching in this very life. That is this way: Knowing the four fields now and in recollection. What are these four fields? It is like this, Bhikkhus: A person meditates as one who looks deeply into being within body, moods within feelings, states of consciousness within thoughts, fundamental truths within mental processes,dedicated, knowingly aware, contemplating what he knows, having put away those worldly cares, in which depression and delight take root.

Bhikkhus! How does a person meditate as one who looks deeply into being within body? Bhikkhus! Here, a person having gone into the woods, or under the shade of a tree, or inside an empty house, sits having created a lap, setting his back upright, holding his attention around his face. He breathes in aware of breathing in; he breathes out aware of breathing out. He knows, I breathe in a long breath, or a short one, when breathing in long or short. I breathe out a long breath, or a short one, when breathing out long or short. He learns, I breathe in as one who experiences the whole body, and so breathe out experiencing the whole body. I breathe in calming the body, and so breathe out calming the body. Bhikkhus! As in this example: A person becomes aware of the breath not unlike how a lathe-operator, who is precise in his work, knows when making a small gouge, he has made a small gouge, and when making a large gouge, he has made a large gouge.

Bhikkhus! On another aspect of this practice, a person knowswhen going, I am going when standing, I am standing when sitting, I am sitting and when lying down, I am lying down. Thus again and again his attention is directed on the body,and again and again he knows the body in all of its movements and postures. Bhikkhus! On another aspect of this practice, a person is knowingly aware of coming and going, looking in front of him and looking around, bending his limbs and torso and stretching them, donning his clothes and carrying his personal possessions; he is also knowingly aware of eating, chewing, tasting, drinking, evacuating and urinating, going, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking up, speaking, and being silent. Bhikkhus! On another aspect of this practice, a person goes over in his mind that this body from the soles of the feet to the hair atop the head, encased in skin, filled with various unclean substances, is just this: head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, muscles, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, stomach, excrement, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fatty tissues, tears, oils, saliva, mucus, synovial fluid, and urine.

Bhikkhus! For example, A butcher, who is precise in his work, having slaughtered a cow and divided its parts, stands at his counter and considers each bit. In such a way, a person goes over in his mind the substances in his body. Bhikkhus! On another aspect of this practice, a person goes over in his mind the primary substances that make up this body, as it is constituted and directed: There are, in this body, earth, water, fire,and wind. Bhikkhus! For example, a man has a bag of provisions open so as to reveal all the grain inside. He begins to sort through it: This is long-grain rice, while that is short grain; this is a kidney bean, while that is a soy bean; this is a sesame seed, while that is fine white rice. So too a person goes over in his mind the primary substances that make up this body, as it is constituted, and directed.

Bhikkhus! On another aspect of this practice: If a person were to see a dead body, several days old, bloated with purple splotches and oozing eruptions, he would focus on understanding the body in this way: My body, indeed, this very body which life depends on, is subject to this very same law, this very same condition, this very same consequence of time. Thus he meditates as one who looks deeply into being within body, as it manifests spiritually, materially, or both. He meditates as one who looks deeply into the arising of being the vanishing of being, or both. The body is that. He knows this: its recollection is established. And to that extent, he meditates, without technique, for the purpose of knowledge, of self-recollection, only. Nothing in the world seduces his heart.

PART TWO

Bhikkhus! How does a person meditate as one who looks deeply into moods within feelings?Here, a person, when experiencing happiness, sadness, or neither one of them, knows I am experiencing happiness, or I am experiencing sadness, or I am experiencing neither happiness nor sadness, but something. He knows I am experiencing sensual happiness, and it feels good. I am experiencing deep sorrow, and it feels bad. I am experiencing something that is not sensual happiness, nor deep sorrow, and it does not feel good nor bad. He knows, I am experiencing a transcendent happiness, and am filled with bliss. I am experiencing an existential pain, and am filled with hopelessness. I am experiencing something that is not a transcendent happiness nor an existential pain, that is not ordinary nor of this world. Thus he meditates as one who looks deeply into moods within feelings, as they manifest spiritually, materially, or both. He meditates as one who looks deeply into the arising of moods, the vanishing of moods, or both. Feeling is that. He knows this: its recollection is established. And to that extent, he meditates, without technique, for the purpose of knowledge, of self-recollection, only. Nothing in the world seduces his heart.

PART THREE

Bhikkhus! How does a person meditate as one who looks deeply into states of consciousness within thoughts? Here, a person knows lust consciousness within lustful thoughts, and consciousness without lust within thoughts devoid of lust; hate consciousness within hateful thoughts, and consciousness without hate within thoughts devoid of hate; stupidity consciousness within foolish thoughts, and consciousness without stupidity within thoughts devoid of foolishness;n arrowly-focused consciousness within rigid thinking, and consciousness not narrowly focused within thinking devoid of rigidity; distracted consciousness within scattered thinking, and consciousness not distracted within focused thinking. He knows, from practicing higher meditational states, expanded consciousness, unified consciousness, liberated consciousness, and their absence.This is how he knows higher states of consciousness, and that a state of consciousness exists peerless in its purity.

Thus he meditates as one who looks deeply into states of consciousness within thoughts, as they manifest spiritually, materially, or both. He meditates as one who looks deeply into the arising of states of consciousness, the vanishing of states of consciousness, or both. Thought is that. He knows this: its recollection is established. And to that extent, he meditates, without technique, for the purpose of knowledge, of self-recollection, only. Nothing in the world seduces his heart.

PART FOUR

Bhikkhus! How does a person meditate as one who looks deeply into fundamental truths within mental processes? Here, he meditates on the five-walled cage that imprisons him in samsara. How does a person meditate to remove the walls of this cage? He knows, I am seeking out sensual pleasures, or causing harm, or becoming apathetic and lazy, active and care-worn, or doubting the truth of this teaching. I know when one of these barriers is present, that it is present, and when one of them is absent, that it is absent. I know how it is, that when one of these has not yet arisen, it will arise again; and how it is, when arisen, it will be abandoned; and how it is when completely abandoned, it will not arise ever again.

Bhikkhus! Here, On another aspect of this practice, a person meditates as one who looks deeply into the fundamental truth within the process of becoming and possessing the five aggregates. How? This is my physical form; it has an origin and an end. This is my ability to feel; it too has an origin and an end. This is my ability to perceive; it too has an origin and an end. This is my way of being; it too has an origin and an end. This is my knower of the field; it too has an origin and an end.

Bhikkhus! How does a person meditate as one who looks deeply into the fundamental truth of the process of the six internal and external realms. He knows the organ of sight and visual objects; the organ of hearing and sounds; the organ of smell and scents; the organ of taste and flavors; the organ of touch and sensations; the organ of mind and its cognitions. He knows that upon both parts of each pair coming together, in an instant, a trap ensnares him. He knows this process: the arising of the unarisen traps, the abandoning of the arisen traps, and the non-arising of the abandoned traps ever again.

How does a person meditate as one who looks deeply into the fundamental truth of the process of the seven limbs of wisdom? He knows when he is aware, now and in recollection. He knows when he is investigating into the true nature of his experience. He knows when he is courageous and applies himself. He knows when he is flooded with purified feelings of rapture. He knows when he is calmed, comfortable and at peace inwardly. He knows when he is within a higher state of consciousness, his mind unified, absorbed, malleable and light. And he knows when he is looking on, peacefully, with wisdom guiding his vision. He knows, When any one of these limbs of wisdom is within me, it leads me onward. And when all of these limbs of wisdom are not within me, I remain where I am. He knows how an unarisen limb of wisdom comes to arise, and how an arisen limb of wisdom can be made to flourish thoroughly and fully.

Bhikkhus, on another aspect of this practice, a person meditates as one who looks deeply into the fundamental truth of the four-fold knowledge of his noble quest. What are the four truths of his noble quest? He knows, as a truth anchored deep within his heart,

Knowing reveals pain.

He knows

This pain has its source.

He knows

This pain has its death.

And He knows

This is the path that ends this pain.

Print Friendly


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X