A comparison of the (Maha)Satipatthana Sutta

Just finished reading the middle length discourse. It’s my first sutta I’ve actually read all the way through. (I’m new to this.) VERY interesting! I see in the longer discourse that a lot is added about the Truth of Suffering. I don’t understand why there is a middle length discourse and a longer one. Did 2 different people remember these differently and they developed separately or did someone purposefully cut something out of one? I feel like my question about what can be known is answered at length in this sutta. (Thanks to you and all in this thread.)


I’m so glad you read the sutta and found it interesting. It’s really a foundational text for many Theravadin Buddhists.

As for why there are two versions in two different nikayas, well, that’s a very good question! (Although not really related to the ‘knowing’ question.)

It seems more likely that material was added to the longer version. But some people feel the sutta is somewhat of a ‘composite’, that it was assembled of various pieces at some later time, rather than a teaching the Buddha gave as one piece. I believe Ven. Sujato has written a whole book that addresses this issue!

That being said, I think the instructions contained in the text are extremely valuable, and regardless how the sutta was remembered or constructed, deserves much attention and study.

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May there be many more!

If you want to go with a “non-text-critical” approach, one could easily imagine that the Buddha would sometimes want to go into more detail sometimes than others. Or if his audience needed to focus more on the body section, he might leave out some of the detail in the Dhamma section. Really, if one imagines the Buddha’ 40 year teaching career the possibilities are endless. And perhaps not that important.


Snowbird, I thought of that…that the Buddha may have given this talk multiple times. Then, I told myself ‘no’ because at the beginning it said…

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the land of the Kurus, near the Kuru town named Kammāsadamma.

But maybe “So have I heard” means the person was not there. So maybe a few different people heard this story. I guess it was so long ago…who knows what really happened. Not important…just some questions that entered my mind. I hope I do continue to read and learn. :slight_smile: Thanks for your help!


Thank you so much for your input!

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That whole book

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Hi. I do not know the DN particularly well however I do recall browsing it many years ago (prior to donating my DN to a Buddhist library). While I am happy to be corrected, my guess is the DN, apart from DN 22, does not contain any detailed & complete teachings about meditation, the four noble truths or dependent origination. For example, DN 2 refers to meditation but seems to go straight to the advanced jhanas. DN 15 refers to dependent origination but has little or no content on some of the conditions. Therefore, my impression is DN 22 offers the less advanced more user-friendly Satipatthana instructions plus gives a full exposition on the Four Noble Truths similar to MN 141, which also offers more details on some aspects of dependent origination (such as the six-fold consciousness or the proper definitions of ‘jati/birth’, old age & death) not found in DN 15. In summary, I imagine each Nikaya should have sufficiently ‘complete’ dhamma in it therefore I guess DN 22 was required to make the DN more thorough & complete so it could serve as a stand-alone text/Nikaya. :slightly_smiling_face:

For example, the MN contains many references to the four noble truths and dependent origination, such as MN 9, MN 18, MN 26, MN 28, MN 37, MN 38, MN 44, MN 87, MN 115, MN 117, MN 137, MN 140, MN 141, MN 143, MN 148, MN 149, etc, and has many teachings about meditation & the jhanas, such as MN 4, MN 10, MN 19, MN 62, MN 111, MN 118, MN 119, MN 131, MN 149, etc. :melting_face:

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This thread was split from Pajānāti or “knowing” - What can we know?


I would say that some says that the likeliness seems low inside conservative traditions, as well.

Yes, this seems a good answer.

There are many suttas of this type where some suttas have two versions.
Eg: Kammavibhanga, Vedalla … etc.

Wish you good luck with your endeavours!


That’s a good observation. Actually the four noble truths as a whole receive more coverage in Digha Nikaya 22 than in Majhima Nikaya 10. That’s because they form the overarching framework for understanding how right mindfulness should function.


Interesting! Thanks Carl! :slight_smile: This will be a reference for me.

awesome! thanks for the whole book!! :star:

Hello. The comparison made by Bhante Sujato seems literally from the suttas (apart from Step 9). For example:

The first tetrad evidently describes the process of gradually settling and calming the breath. Contemplation of feelings is described purely as the bliss of samatha; there is no place for contemplation of pain here, and apparently no need for it. Contemplation of the mind is even more explicitly framed in terms of samādhi experiences. Page 249