Essence of the Maha-Satipatthana Sutta

(Teaching on the Fourfold Path of Mindfulness)

 

This is a direct path for inner purification, achievement of calmness, and undoing of the idea of "self" by means of the four frames of mindfulness. It involves successively placing non-manipulative, non-judgmental awareness on the body, feelings, mind, and mental qualities.

 

1. Body Awareness

Go to a place of peace and quiet. Sit comfortably but with a good erect posture. Bring awareness to the Heart region. Breathe in with awareness; breathe out with awareness. Do not try to control the breathing, just be mindful of it. Be mindful of the whole body in the act of breathing. Cling to nothing.

This practice may easily be extended to walking, standing, and sitting in other circumstances as well; and even to lying down, or kneeling in devotion.

Gradually extend the feeling of gentle, nonmanipulative, nonjudgmental mindful awareness to every activity of ordinary life. Never clinging, never obsessively controlling, never allowing the mindfulness to interfere with the fulfillment of one's activity at the moment.

Become aware of the body as made up of constituent parts, limbs, organs, fluids, and so on, but without any "self" to be found.

Become aware of the body as a part of its environment.

Become aware of the body destined to become a corpse. Study forensics or spend time meditating in graveyards to develop awareness of the body's inevitable, natural tendency to die and decompose, back into its organic materials.

 

2. Feelings

When feeling any negative, painful feeling, simply be aware that it is a negative, painful feeling, without manipulation, without judgment, without clinging.

Do the same for positive, pleasurable feelings. Always non-clinging, always recognizing the nonpresence of a separate "self" in the feeling, always mindful, always nonjudgmental.

Never repress, deny, exaggerate, or otherwise try to superficially control or strategize a feeling.

Feel all feelings as spontaneous arisings. Consider all feelings as fuel to burn off karmic attachments.

 

3. Mind

And how does a practitioner remain focused on the mind in and of itself?

Very simply: When the mind has passion, just notice that the mind has passion.

When the mind is without passion, just notice that the mind is without passion.

When the mind has aversion, just notice that the mind has aversion.

When the mind is without aversion, just discern that the mind is without aversion.

When the mind has delusion, just discern that the mind has delusion.

When the mind is without delusion, just discern that the mind is without delusion.

(If one is unsure whether one is without delusion, just discern that one is unsure!)

When the mind is scattered, just notice that the mind is scattered.

When the mind is concentrated, just notice that the mind is concentrated.

When the mind is not concentrated, just notice that the mind is not concentrated.

When the mind is released from attachment, just notice that the mind is released from attachment.

When the mind is not released from attachment, just notice that the mind is not released from attachment.

In this way, remain mindful of the workings of the mind; always nonjudgmental; always noncontrolling; never clinging, never holding to an idea of a separate "self," never resisting, never suppressing.

 

4. Mental Qualities

And how does a practitioner remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves?

There being sensual desire present within, a practitioner discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within.'

There being no sensual desire present within, just discern that 'There is no sensual desire present within.'

And so it goes for other imagined hindrances such as aversion, laziness, anxiety, and excessive doubt.

In this way one remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or externally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or both internally and externally on mental qualities in and of themselves.

Going a bit more deep, when you're ready: Focus on the phenomenon of origination of mental qualities; then on the phenomenon of the passing away of mental qualities; then on both together.

Throughout all these exercises, one should remain unattached, not clinging to anything in or out of the universe; never judging, never manipulating, never repressing, never exaggerating.

This is how a practitioner remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances.

texts -> contents -> home