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The Discourse about the
Ways of Attending to Mindfulness
Summary 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.01
Thus I heard:
at one time the Fortunate One was dwelling amongst the Kurus Kurūsu is plural and means amongst the Kurus, or amongst the Kuru people, with the implication: in the Kuru country.02 near a market town of the Kurus named Kammāssadamma. 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 Fortunate One stayed in the jungle nearby (though quite why that should change the case is unclear, as the locative regularly means near or nearby).03
There the Fortunate One addressed the monks (saying): “Monks!” “Venerable Sir!” those monks replied to the Fortunate One, and the Fortunate One said this:
“This is a one-way path, monks, for the purification of beings, 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).04 for the overcoming of grief and lamentation, for the extinction of pain 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.05 and sorrow, for attaining the right way, for the direct realisation Sacchi- = sa (one’s own) acchi (eye); with one’s own eyes, directly experiencing or realising.06 of Nibbāna, that is to say, the four ways of attending to mindfulness. 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.07
Here, Comm: here means in this Sāsana; which seems to be a little narrow, as many people today appear to be practising mindfulness 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).08 monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body, ardent, Comm: ardent means having (enough) ardour to burn away the defilements in the three realms of existence, this is a name for (strong) energy.09 fully aware, and mindful, after removing 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. 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. 10 avarice and sorrow regarding the world. Comm: 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.11
He dwells contemplating (the nature of) feelings in feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.
He dwells contemplating (the nature of) the mind in the mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.
He dwells contemplating (the nature of) things in (various) things, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world.
The Summary is Finished
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last updated: October 2011