Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta

MN 10
PTS: M i 55
Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta
(Foundations of Mindfulness)

Thus have I heard.

On one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Kurus at Kammāsadhamma, a market town of the Kurus. There he addressed the bhikkhus thus: “Bhikkhus.” — “Venerable sir,” they replied. The Blessed One said this:

“Bhikkhus, there is this path, a sure way, for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and despair, for the attainment of knowledge, and for the realization of Nibbāna, namely, the four foundations for mindfulness.

“What are the four? Here, a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having set aside desire and grief in regard to the world. He abides observing feeling in feeling, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having set aside desire and grief in regard to the world. He abides observing mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having set aside desire and grief in regard to the world. He abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having set aside desire and grief in regard to the world.

1. Contemplation of the Body

[Mindfulness of Breathing]

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide observing the body in the body? Here a bhikkhu, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree, or out in the open air, sits down, folds his legs crosswise, makes his body erect, and establishes mindfulness in front of him—mindful, he breathes in; mindful, he breathes out. Breathing in long, he knows, ‘I am breathing in long.’ Breathing out long, he knows, ‘I am breathing out long.’ Breathing in short, he knows, ‘I am breathing in short.’ Breathing out short, he knows, ‘I am breathing out short.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe in experiencing the whole body.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe out experiencing the whole body.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe in calming the bodily formation.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe out calming the bodily formation.’

“Just as a skillful turner or turner’s apprentice, making a long turn, knows, ‘I am making a long turn,’ or making a short turn, he knows, ‘I am making a short turn’; so too, breathing in long, a bhikkhu knows, ‘I am breathing in long,’ or breathing out long, he knows, ‘I am breathing out long,’ or breathing in short, he knows, ‘I am breathing in short,’ or breathing out short, he knows, ‘I am breathing out short.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe in experiencing the whole body.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe out experiencing the whole body.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe in calming the bodily formation.’ He trains thus: ‘I will breathe out calming the bodily formation.’

“In this way he abides observing the body in the body internally, or he abides observing the body in the body externally, or he abides observing the body in the body both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in the body its arising factors, or he abides observing in the body its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in the body both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body.

[The Four Postures]

“Again, bhikkhus, when walking, a bhikkhu knows, ‘I am walking.’ When standing, he knows, ‘I am standing.’ When sitting, he knows, ‘I am sitting.’ When lying down, he knows ‘I am lying down.’ Exactly how his body is disposed, so he knows it.

“In this way he abides observing the body in the body internally, or he abides observing the body in the body externally, or he abides observing the body in the body both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in the body its arising factors, or he abides observing in the body its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in the body both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body.

[Clear Comprehension]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is one who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when going forward and returning; who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when looking ahead and looking away; who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when flexing and extending his limbs; who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when wearing his robes and carrying his outer robe and bowl; who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when eating, drinking, and tasting; who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when defecating and urinating; and who acts with clear comprehension, fully aware when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, speaking, and keeping silent.

“In this way he abides observing the body in the body internally, or he abides observing the body in the body externally, or he abides observing the body in the body both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in the body its arising factors, or he abides observing in the body its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in the body both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body.

[Repulsiveness—The Bodily Parts]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reviews this same body up from the soles of the feet and down from the top of the hair, bounded by the skin and full of many kinds of impurity thus: ‘In this body, there are head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, contents of the stomach, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid, and urine.’

“Just as though there were a bag with an opening at both ends full of many kinds of grain, such as hill rice, red rice, beans, peas, millet, and white rice, and a person with good eyesight were to open it and review it thus: ‘This is hill rice, this is red rice, these are beans, these are peas, this is millet, this is white rice’; so too, a bhikkhu reviews this same body up from the soles of the feet and down from the top of the hair, bounded by the skin and full of many kinds of impurity thus: ‘In this body, there are head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, contents of the stomach, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid, and urine.’

“In this way he abides observing the body in the body internally, or he abides observing the body in the body externally, or he abides observing the body in the body both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in the body its arising factors, or he abides observing in the body its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in the body both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body.

[Elements]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reviews this same body, however it be placed or disposed, with regard to the elements thus: ‘In this body, there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’

“Just as though a skilled butcher or butcher’s apprentice had killed a cow and was seated at the crossroads with it cut up it into pieces; so too, a bhikkhu reviews this same body, however it be placed or disposed, with regard to the elements thus: ‘In this body, there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.’

“In this way he abides observing the body in the body internally, or he abides observing the body in the body externally, or he abides observing the body in the body both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in the body its arising factors, or he abides observing in the body its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in the body both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body.

[The Nine Cemetery Contemplations]

“Again, bhikkhus, just as a bhikkhu might see: (1) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, having been dead for one, two, or three days, swollen, discolored and festering; (2) a body thrown aside in a cemetery being eaten by crows, hawks, vultures, dogs or jackals; (3) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to a skeleton with some flesh and blood held together by tendons; (4) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to a skeleton without flesh but smeared in blood and held together by tendons; (5) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to a skeleton having lost its flesh and blood but held together by tendons; (6) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to disconnected bones, having lost whatever held them together, scattered in all directions—a hand-bone here, a foot-bone there, a leg-bone here, a thigh-bone there, a hip-bone here, a back-bone there, a rib-bone here, a breast-bone there, an arm-bone here, a shoulder-bone there, a neck-bone here, a jaw-bone there, a tooth here, and a skull there—; (7) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to bleached bones looking white like a conch shell; (8) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to bones lying in a heap for more than a year; (9) a body thrown aside in a cemetery, reduced to bones that have crumbled and have turned to dust—he then compares this same body with them thus: ‘This body, too, is of the same nature, it will be like that, it is not beyond that.’

“In this way he abides observing the body in the body internally, or he abides observing the body in the body externally, or he abides observing the body in the body both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in the body its arising factors, or he abides observing in the body its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in the body both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is a body’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides observing the body in the body.

2. Contemplation of Feeling

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide observing feeling in feeling? Here, when feeling a pleasant feeling, a bhikkhu knows, ‘I am feeling a pleasant feeling.’ When feeling an unpleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling an unpleasant feeling.’ When feeling a neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling a neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling.’ When feeling a worldly pleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling a worldly pleasant feeling.’ When feeling an unworldly pleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling an unworldly pleasant feeling.’ When feeling a worldly unpleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling a worldly unpleasant feeling.’ When feeling an unworldly unpleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling an unworldly unpleasant feeling.’ When feeling a worldly neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling a worldly neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling.’ When feeling an unworldly neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling, he knows, ‘I am feeling an unworldly neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling.’

“In this way he abides observing feeling in feeling internally, or he abides observing feeling in feeling externally, or he abides observing feeling in feeling both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in feeling its arising factors, or he abides observing in feeling its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in feeling both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is feeling’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing feeling in feeling.

3. Contemplation of Mind

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide observing mind in mind? Here, a bhikkhu knows mind with desire as ‘mind with desire,’ and mind without desire as ‘mind without desire.’ He knows mind with hate as ‘mind with hate,’ and mind without hate as ‘mind without hate.’ He knows mind with delusion as ‘mind with delusion,’ and mind without delusion as ‘mind without delusion.’ He knows constricted mind as ‘constricted mind,’ and distracted mind as ‘distracted mind.’ He knows exalted mind as ‘exalted mind,’ and unexalted mind as ‘unexalted mind.’ He knows surpassed mind as ‘surpassed mind,’ and unsurpassed mind as ‘unsurpassed mind.’ He knows steadied mind as ‘steadied mind,’ and unsteadied mind as ‘unsteadied mind.’ He knows liberated mind as ‘liberated mind,’ and unliberated mind as ‘unliberated mind.’

“In this way he abides observing mind in mind internally, or he abides observing mind in mind externally, or he abides observing mind in mind both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in mind its arising factors, or he abides observing in mind its ceasing factors, or he abides observing in mind both its arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is mind’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing mind in mind.

4. Contemplation of Mental Phenomena

[The Five Hindrances]

“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena? Here, a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a bhikkhu abide observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the five hindrances? Here, when sensual desire is present in him, he knows, ‘Sensual desire is present in me,’ and when sensual desire is not present in him, he knows, ‘Sensual desire is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sensual desire, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sensual desire.

“When ill will is present in him, he knows, ‘Ill will is present in me,’ and when ill will is not present in him, he knows, ‘Ill will is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of unarisen ill will, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen ill will, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned ill will.

“When sloth and torpor are present in him, he knows, ‘Sloth and torpor are present in me,’ and when sloth and torpor are not present in him, he knows, ‘Sloth and torpor are not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of unarisen sloth and torpor, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen sloth and torpor, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned sloth and torpor.

“When restlessness and worry are present in him, he knows, ‘Restlessness and worry are present in me,’ and when restlessness and worry are not present in him, he knows, ‘Restlessness and worry are not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of unarisen restlessness and worry, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen restlessness and worry, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned restlessness and worry.

“When doubt is present in him, he knows, ‘Doubt is present in me,’ and when doubt is not present in him, he knows, ‘Doubt is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of unarisen doubt, and how there comes to be the abandoning of arisen doubt, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of abandoned doubt.

“In this way he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena internally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena externally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in mental phenomena their arising factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena their ceasing factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena both their arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there are mental phenomena’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the five hindrances.

[The Five Aggregates]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the five aggregates of clinging. And how does a bhikkhu abide observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the five aggregates of clinging? Here, a bhikkhu knows, ‘Thus is material form, thus its arising, thus its cessation; thus is feeling, thus its arising, thus its cessation; thus is perception, thus its arising, thus its cessation; thus are mental formations, thus their arising, thus their cessation; thus is consciousness, thus its arising, thus its cessation.’

“In this way he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena internally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena externally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in mental phenomena their arising factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena their ceasing factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena both their arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there are mental phenomena’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the five aggregates of clinging.

[The Six Sense Bases]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the six internal and external sense bases. And how does a bhikkhu abide observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the six internal and external sense bases? Here, a bhikkhu knows the eye, he knows visible forms, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“He knows the ear, he knows sounds, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“He knows the nose, he knows odors, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“He knows the tongue, he knows flavors, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“He knows the body, he knows tactile objects, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“He knows the mind, he knows mental phenomena, and he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both; and he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen fetter, and how there comes to be the abandoning of the arisen fetter, and how there comes to be the future non-arising of the abandoned fetter.

“In this way he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena internally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena externally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in mental phenomena their arising factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena their ceasing factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena both their arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there are mental phenomena’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the six internal and external sense bases.

[The Seven Enlightenment Factors]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the seven enlightenment factors. And how does a bhikkhu abide observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the seven enlightenment factors? Here, when the mindfulness enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The mindfulness enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the mindfulness enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The mindfulness enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen mindfulness enlightenment factor, and how the arisen mindfulness enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“When the investigation of mental phenomena enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The investigation of mental phenomena enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the investigation of mental phenomena enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The investigation of mental phenomena enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen investigation of mental phenomena enlightenment factor, and how the arisen investigation of mental phenomena enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“When the energy enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The energy enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the energy enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The energy enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen energy enlightenment factor, and how the arisen energy enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“When the rapture enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The rapture enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the rapture enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The rapture enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen rapture enlightenment factor, and how the arisen rapture enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“When the tranquility enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The tranquility enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the tranquility enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The tranquility enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen tranquility enlightenment factor, and how the arisen tranquility enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“When the concentration enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The concentration enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the concentration enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The concentration enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen concentration enlightenment factor, and how the arisen concentration enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“When the equanimity enlightenment factor is present in him, he knows, ‘The equanimity enlightenment factor is present in me,’ and when the equanimity enlightenment factor is not present in him, he knows, ‘The equanimity enlightenment factor is not present in me.’ And he also knows how there comes to be the arising of the unarisen equanimity enlightenment factor, and how the arisen equanimity enlightenment factor comes to fulfillment by development.

“In this way he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena internally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena externally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in mental phenomena their arising factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena their ceasing factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena both their arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there are mental phenomena’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the seven enlightenment factors.

[The Four Noble Truths]

“Again, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the Four Noble Truths. And how does a bhikkhu abide observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the Four Noble Truths? Here, a bhikkhu knows as it actually is, ‘This is dukkha.’ He knows as it actually is, ‘This is the origin of dukkha.’ He knows as it actually is, ‘This is the cessation of dukkha.’ He knows as it actually is, ‘This is the path leading to the cessation of dukkha.’

“In this way he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena internally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena externally, or he abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena both internally and externally. Or else he abides observing in mental phenomena their arising factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena their ceasing factors, or he abides observing in mental phenomena both their arising and ceasing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there are mental phenomena’ is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides unattached, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a bhikkhu abides observing mental phenomena in mental phenomena with reference to the Four Noble Truths.

Conclusion

“Bhikkhus, if anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in this way for seven years, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

“Let alone seven years, bhikkhus. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in this way for six years, for five years, for four years, for three years, for two years, or for one year, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

“Let alone one year, bhikkhus. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in this way for seven months, for six months, for five months, for four months, for three months, for two months, for one month, or for half a month, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

“Let alone half a month. If anyone should develop these four foundations of mindfulness in this way for seven days, one of two fruits could be expected for him: either final knowledge here and now, or if there is a trace of clinging left, non-return.

“So it was with reference to this that it was said: ‘Bhikkhus, there is this path, a sure way, for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and despair, for the attainment of knowledge, and for the realization of Nibbāna, namely, these four foundations for mindfulness.’

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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