Sutta Study: the Saccavibhanga Sutta

Sutta Study: the Saccavibhanga Sutta February 19, 2009

In this sutta, Sariputta, a key disciple of the Buddha, recounts the teaching of the Four Noble Truths.

Today my interest is in mainly linguistic analysis of the last couple paragraphs of the sutta, in which Sariputta describes Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

We can begin with the location of the sutta. It is found in the Vibhaṅgavaggo of the Uparipaṇṇāsapāḷi portion of the Majjhimanikāya in the Suttapiṭaka.

In English, this sutta, or discourse, is called the Classification of Truth Discourse. It is in the Classification (Vibanga) Section (vagga) of the Many (paṇṇāsa = literally 50, but figuratively meaning many) Furthering (Upari) Texts (pāḷi) – or maybe a more graceful translation is “the furthering of many texts.” Basically, I assume, it is a section of texts that give further exegesis of already established ideas.

[wow, this is taking forever]

Ok, the Majjhimanikaya is the “Middle-length Discourses” (that was easy) of the Discourse-basket (Suttapitaka) of the Buddha’s teachings. And this is Discourse 141.

Now for the last two key sections, first in the English translation, and then in Pali.

“And what is right mindfulness? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves… the mind in & of itself… mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This is called right mindfulness.

“And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right concentration.

“This is called the noble truth of the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.


(#371 here)

‘‘Katamā cāvuso, sammāsati? Idhāvuso, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati…pe… citte cittānupassī viharati… dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, ayaṃ vuccatāvuso – ‘sammāsati’’’.

‘‘Katamo cāvuso, sammāsamādhi? Idhāvuso, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati, vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati, pītiyā ca virāgā upekkhako ca viharati…pe… tatiyaṃ jhānaṃ… viharati, ayaṃ vuccatāvuso – ‘sammāsamādhi’. Idaṃ vuccatāvuso – ‘dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ’’’.

Sigh. Time’s up for today. Practice your sammāsati and sammāsamādhi, attain some jhāne, and have a wonderful day.

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