Friday, May 28, 2010

The Significance of Understanding Sattipathana Sutta In Meditation Practice

From the last posting about Joseph Goldstein's Dhamma talks, there was a quote by a psychologist cum Dhamma teacher, Chien Hoong mentioned about 'Anyone who is serious about meditation should have a good understanding of Satipattana Sutta.' Let us go a bit more into why the comprehension of the Satipatthana Sutta or the Discourse of Four Foundation of mindfulness is so important in the practice of mindfulness meditation.

It is important to understand Buddhism as a discipline or process rather than as a belief system. The Buddha did not teach doctrines about seeing enlightenment by mere faith, but rather taught people how to work their way through gaining enlightenment themselves. Furthermore, Buddha taught satipatthana as the direct path to Enlightenment. 

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The Satipatthana Sutta and the Mahasatipatthana Sutta are two of the most popular and important discourses in the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. Both content of the discourses relate the meditation practice with the right approach to the development of 'satipatthana', which is a term for mindfulness or the awareness at the present moment. The only different between these two discourses are Mahasatipatthana Sutta is longer and more detailed. With the constant and proper maintaining of the moment-by-moment mindfulness, one can gain discernment through the direct experiences of his or her meditation practice based on the four foundations of mindfulness.

These four foundations are no other than mindfulness of the body (kaya), mindfulness of feelings (vedana), mindfulness of the mind or consciousness (citta), and mindfulness of mental objects or qualities (dhamma). Based on these four factors, one can contemplating any of these objects when they are practising meditation. By paying close attention to the present experience, one begin to see both inner and outer aspects of reality as aspects of the mind.

For example, one sees that the mind is successively having chattering communication with commentary or judgement. By noticing that the mind is successively making commentary, one has the ability to carefully observe those thoughts, seeing them for what they really are without aversion or judgement. Those who are practising mindfulness realise that 'thoughts are just thoughts.' One can be free to release a thought when one realises that the thought may not be concrete reality or absolute truth, thus one is also free from getting caught in the commentary. The purpose of such mindfulness practice is recognising different types of experience from the context or the mind within which they occur.

According to the Satipatthana Sutta, everyone is able to realise enlightenment through direct experience. It is through mindfulness that we experience directly, with no mental filters or psychological barriers between us and what is experienced. Any activity such as preparing food, cleaning floors or simply just walking which is done mindful can be a form of meditation, and mindfulness is possible practically all the time. So be mindful with your life, just a famous Zen saying 'If you miss the moment, you miss your life. How much of our lives have we missed?'

Samurai Beng


Inward Path Publisher 
would like to wish 
all Dhamma seekers 
'A Happy Vesak Day'

In conjunction of Vesak Day, Inward Path Publisher is releasing a book about mindfulness meditation based on satipatthana with the title of 'Comprehensive Instructions on Mindfulness Meditation' by Sayadaw U Silananda.

To order a FREE copy, please visit 
(postage charges apply according to your country)

We also have other new releases 
this Vesak Day for free


Towards The End Of Forgiveness: The Story of Angulimala
by Bhikkhu Bodhidhmma
(Book with audio CD)

Numerical Dhamma I
A compilation of Buddhist quotes from Anguttara Nikaya and other discourses
(Book only)

 Metta Meditation & Positive Attitudes
by Visu Teoh
(Book with audio CD)

Also find other titles on Mindfulness