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Satipatthána Sutta

Frames of Reference

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

 

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in the Kuru country. Now there is a town of the Kurus called Kammasadhamma. There the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Monks."

"Venerable sir," the monks replied.

The Blessed One said this: "This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for the attainment of the right method, and for the realization of Unbinding -- in other words, the four frames of reference. Which four?

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

 

 Body

"And how does a monk remain focused on the body in and of itself?

[1] "There is the case where a monk -- having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building -- sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication. Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, discerns that he is making a long turn, or when making a short turn discerns that he is making a short turn; in the same way the monk, when breathing in long, discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short...He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication, and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or externally on the body in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the body in and of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and remembrance. And he remains independent, un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[2] "Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns that he is walking. When standing, he discerns that he is standing. When sitting, he discerns that he is sitting. When lying down, he discerns that he is lying down. Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...un-sustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[3] "Furthermore, when going forward and returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward and looking away...when bending and extending his limbs...when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe and his bowl...when eating, drinking, chewing, and savoring...when urinating and defecating...when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...un-sustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[4] "Furthermore...just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain -- wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice -- and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, 'This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice,' in the same way, monks, a monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: 'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...un-sustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[5] "Furthermore...just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body -- however it stands, however it is disposed -- in terms of properties: 'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...un-sustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[6] "Furthermore, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground -- one day, two days, three days dead -- bloated, livid, and festering, he applies it to this very body, 'This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate'...

"Or again, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, and hawks, by dogs, hyenas, and various other creatures...a skeleton smeared with flesh and blood, connected with tendons...a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons...a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons...bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all directions -- here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull...the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells...piled up, more than a year old...decomposed into a powder: He applies it to this very body, 'This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or externally on the body in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the body in and of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and remembrance. And he remains independent, un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

 

 Feelings

"And how does a monk remain focused on feelings in and of themselves? There is the case where a monk, when feeling a painful feeling, discerns that he is feeling a painful feeling. When feeling a pleasant feeling, he discerns that he is feeling a pleasant feeling. When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he discerns that he is feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.

"When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a painful feeling of the flesh. When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh. When feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh. When feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh. When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh. When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh.

"In this way he remains focused internally on feelings in and of themselves, or externally on feelings in and of themselves, or both internally and externally on feelings in and of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to feelings, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to feelings, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to feelings. Or his mindfulness that 'There are feelings' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and remembrance. And he remains independent, un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on feelings in and of themselves.

 

 Mind

"And how does a monk remain focused on the mind in and of itself? There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion.

"When the mind is restricted, he discerns that the mind is restricted. When the mind is scattered, he discerns that the mind is scattered. When the mind is enlarged, he discerns that the mind is enlarged. When the mind is not enlarged, he discerns that the mind is not enlarged. When the mind is surpassed, he discerns that the mind is surpassed. When the mind is unsurpassed, he discerns that the mind is unsurpassed. When the mind is concentrated, he discerns that the mind is concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, he discerns that the mind is not concentrated. When the mind is released, he discerns that the mind is released. When the mind is not released, he discerns that the mind is not released.

"In this way he remains focused internally on the mind in and of itself, or externally on the mind in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the mind in and of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the mind, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the mind, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the mind. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a mind' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and remembrance. And he remains independent, un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the mind in and of itself.

 

Mental Qualities

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

[1] "There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of un-arisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no further appearance in the future of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth and drowsiness, restlessness and anxiety, and uncertainty.)

"In this way he 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. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and remembrance. And he remains independent, un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances.

[2] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five aggregates for clinging/sustenance. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five aggregates for clinging/sustenance? There is the case where a monk [discerns]: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception...Such are fabrications...Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the mental qualities in and of themselves, or focused externally...un-sustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five aggregates for clinging/sustenance.

[3] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the six fold internal and external sense media. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the six fold internal and external sense media? There is the case where he discerns the eye, he discerns forms, he discerns the fetter that arises dependent on both. He discerns how there is the arising of an un-arisen fetter. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of a fetter once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no further appearance in the future of a fetter that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining sense media: ear, nose, tongue, body, and intellect.)

"In this way he remains focused internally on the mental qualities in and of themselves, or focused externally...un-sustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the six fold internal and external sense media.

[4] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the seven factors of awakening. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the seven factors of awakening? There is the case where, there being mindfulness as a factor of awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor of awakening is present within me.' Or, there being no mindfulness as a factor of awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor of awakening is not present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of un-arisen mindfulness as a factor of awakening. And he discerns how there is the culmination of the development of mindfulness as a factor of awakening once it has arisen. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining factors of awakening: analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, and equanimity.)

"In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or externally...un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the seven factors of awakening.

[5] "Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the four noble truths. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the four noble truths? There is the case where he discerns, as it is actually present, that 'This is stress...This is the origination of stress...This is the cessation of stress...This is the way leading to the cessation of stress.'

"In this way he 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. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and remembrance. And he remains independent, un-sustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the four noble truths...

 

Conclusion

"Now, if anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven years, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here and now, or -- if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance -- non-return.

"Let alone seven years. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for six years...five...four...three...two years...one year...seven months...six months...five...four...three...two months...one month...half a month, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here and now, or -- if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance -- non-return.

"Let alone half a month. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven days, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here and now, or -- if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance -- non-return.

"'This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for the attainment of the right method, and for the realization of Unbinding -- in other words, the four frames of reference.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.

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