Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṁ
The Long Discourse about the Ways of Attending to Mindfulness

 

Uddeso The titles given in this edition are as they appear in ChS and Only (though Only omits this particular title), which have been extracted from the end titles, which are omitted in those editions. Headings being a modern convenience unknown to the manuscript tradition, BJT omits them, but includes the end-titles. In this edition both have been included for convenience on the one hand, and authenticity on the other.1
Summary

Evaṁ me sutaṁ:
Thus I heard:

ekaṁ samayaṁ Bhagavā Kurūsu Kurūsu is plural and means amongst the Kurus, or amongst the Kuru people, with the implication: in the Kuru country.2 viharati
at one time the Gracious One was dwelling amongst the Kurus

Kammāssadammaṁ Kammāssadammaṁ is an accusative having locative meaning here; according to the commentary the accusative is used because there was no monastery in the town, and the Gracious One stayed in the jungle nearby (though quite why that should change the case is unclear, as the locative regularly means near or nearby).3 nāma Kurūnaṁ nigamo.
near a market town of the Kurus named Kammāssadamma.

Tatra kho Bhagavā bhikkhū āmantesi:
There the Gracious One addressed the monks (saying):

“Bhikkhavo!” ti “Bhadante!” ti te bhikkhū Bhagavato paccassosuṁ,
“Monks!” “Venerable Sir!” those monks replied to the Gracious One,

Bhagavā etad-avoca:
and the Gracious One said this:

“Ekāyano Commonly translated as either the only path or as the direct path. Doctrinally the former has to be excluded as the Buddha taught many paths according to temperament; and sammāsati forms only one part of the Noble Eightfold Path; the direct path on the other hand is really an unfortunate paraphrase, as a one-way street may and may not go directly to its destination, as witness the one-way streets in our cities. Rather the phrase means simply a one-way path, as it is translated here, which makes perfect sense doctrinally (as well as linguistically), as the characteristic of all one-way paths is that there is no turning back, and they lead one on until eventually they reach the conclusion, which, in this case, as we will see at the end, is final knowledge (aññā), or the state of non-return (anāgāmitā).4 ayaṁ, bhikkhave, maggo sattānaṁ visuddhiyā,
“This is a one-way path, monks, for the purification of beings,

sokapariddavānaṁ samatikkamāya, dukkhadomanassānaṁ In this compound dukkha means bodily pain as opposed to mental pain, domanassa or sorrow; but it should be clear that it also implies the ending of all suffering.5 atthaṅgamāya,
for the overcoming of grief and lamentation, for the extinction of pain and sorrow,

ñāyassa adhigamāya, Nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya, Sacchi- = sa (one’s own) acchi (eye); with one’s own eyes, directly experiencing or realising.6
for attaining the right way, for the direct realisation of Nibbāna,

yad-idaṁ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā. The correct parsing of satipaṭṭhāna is sati + upaṭṭhāna (cf. smṛty-upasthāna in BHS) which is recognized but rejected by the commentary, which favours the derivation from sati + paṭṭhāna. Upaṭṭhāna is derived from the verb upaṭṭhāti (itself a variant of upatiṭṭhati), and literally means standing near, therefore attending on, serving. Also related to upaṭṭhāka, an attendant (Ānanda was the Buddha’s main upaṭṭhāka in later years). The word sati is a feminine action-noun derived from the past participle of sarati the basic meaning of which is remembers. The translation of sati as mindfulness is something of a compromise, as sati doesn’t really mean simply mindfulness, which in normal English is synonymic with carefulness; but nor is it simple awareness or bare attention, rather the word seems to combine the two meanings and intends a careful sort of attention to whatever objects are arising in consciousness. If it wasn’t so cumbersome reflective awareness might be more indicative than mindfulness.7
that is to say, the four ways of attending to mindfulness.

Katame cattāro?
Which four?

Idha, Comm: Idhā ti imasmiṁ Sāsane; here means in this Sāsana; which seems to be a little narrow, as many people today appear to be practising satipaṭṭhāna without being within the Sāsana of the Buddha, even though it remains doubtful how far along the path anyone can go without having attained to right view (sammā diṭthi).8 bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī -anupassī nominative from anupassin. The suffix -in here is identical in form, but distinct from, the possessive suffix -in (seen, for instance, in ātāpī which follows on the next line, meaning having or possessing ardour), but carries the meaning of a present participle. This distinction is noticeable in the texts (for another example cf. sabbakāyapaṭisaṁvedī in the Ānāpānapabbaṁ below), but I have been unable to find any reference to it in the Pāḷi Grammars; however, see Whitney SG § 1230, and the follow-up references given there. Its participle-nature is clearly shown by its entering into combination with the auxiliary viharati.

The prefix anu- in these contexts means continuously, or uninterruptedly (doing the action of the verb). For mindfulness to become strong it must be maintained continuously on whatever subject has been taken up.
9
viharati,

Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body,

ātāpī Comm: Ātāpī ti tīsu bhavesu kilese ātāpetī ti ātāpo, viriyassetaṁ nāmaṁ; ardent means having (enough) ardour to burn away the defilements in the three realms of existence, this is a name for (strong) energy.10 sampajāno satimā, vineyya Vineyya is an absolutive (comm: vineyyā ti ... vinayitvā), which is an infinite verbal form syntactically dependent on a finite verb (here viharati). An absolutive signifies that the action is completed (perfected) in the past before the time of the finite verb. This is not, however, a periphrastic construction, as the absolutive is remote from the finite verb, which never happens in periphrasis. Similarly, vineyya is sometimes translated as though it were a present participle: removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world (or some such translation); however, as far as I have ever seen, the logic of the absolutive grammatically always implies that the action is complete before the action of the main verb, no matter what idiom we use in translation. 11 loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ. Comm: Sveva kāyo loko, pañca pi upādānakkhandhā loko; the world of his own body, the world of the five constituents that provide fuel for attachment. The same sort of interpretation is to be applied below to the world of the three feelings, the world of the mind and the world of (the nature of) things.12
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.

Vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati,
He dwells contemplating (the nature of) feelings in feelings,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ.
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.

Citte cittānupassī viharati,
He dwells contemplating (the nature of) the mind in the mind,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ.
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.

Dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati,
He dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things,

ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṁ.
ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.

Uddeso Niṭṭhito
The Summary is Finished