Another take on Satipatthana and Jhana

satipatthana is closely akin to the 4 buddhist jhanas, latter being a more elegant version of the practice. It is gotta be, right? I agree with Polak, not in the details, though.

There is this unusual sutta in the Satipatthana samyutta, that the theravadin seems to have missed, but not the Sarvastivadin. The sutta is unique, called Origination SN 47.42

First establishment refers to the origination of the body due to origination of nutriment, and cessation of body is due to the stopping of food channel.

The one who wants to take a short cut to nibbana, can do this using “Son’s flesh” only.

It is the most dramatic sutta in the entire Buddhist canon, yet many fail to grasp its importance. Why did the compassionate SammaSambuddha, resort to a shocking simile. The nightmare of parents crossing desert feeding on jerky made of own son’s flesh, infant? A mother would faint, at the suggestion, right?

If only I could, I mean not feed on meat made of dried son’s flesh, but that is exactly what I do, when I give in to sensual pleasures.

There is this hidden factor to the metaphor…

In the comprehension of physical food, passion for the five strings of sensuality are also to be comprehended, the sight, the aroma, the taste, the tactility, just the thought of food, right?

There is no fetter bound by which a disciple of the noble ones would come back again to this world— when passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended. I read this in the buddhist literature, whoever the commentator who thought it up is a genius, she connected the dots, 'cause this is exactly what Buddha meant by this simile.

It applies in all situations, six senses, right? the unholy world of sensophere, which the holy has to negotiate.

A short cut to Nibbana, that requires steel of resolve.

any thoughts?


Thank you for the recommendation of SN47.42. :pray:

In particular, the line:

SN47.42:1.10: Principles originate from attention. When focus ends, principles end.”

Helps me understand:

MN44:20.2: “They experience three kinds of contact: emptiness, signless, and undirected contacts.”


Ummm…you could also contemplate
the cyclic process of topsoil~ plant food~ animal food~ your body~ death~ breakup of the body~ conversion to topsoil… :thinking:
What you eat is essentially a mixture of dead bodies… whether plant, animal or human… …


Dear Karl_Lew: I apologise, got the notice of your reply, only today. I tend to think of signless and emptiness as the same. Undirected contact? what do you mean here? Bare cognition.
You might find Thanissaro’s translation interesting too. He made a very quaint foot note there.
I think this sutta is the key to lost Satipatthana. Here is Thanissaro’s foot note.
This discourse is unusual in that it identifies the word satipatthana , not with the standard formula of the process of establishing mindfulness, but with the objects that form the frame of reference for that process. For example, instead of identifying the first satipatthana as, “There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — subduing greed & distress with reference to the world,” it identifies it simply as “body.”
The day I read this sutta, everything fell into place.
With love

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It is true “What you eat is essentially a mixture of dead bodies… whether plant, animal or human” but somehow it does not shock me…coming from a very science related background, but eating my only son’s flesh, gag me with a spoon. I am about to throw up. Point well taken however
With love

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The practices differ but the Buddha also confirms that they can be understood to mean the same thing.

SN41.7:4.1: And what is the heart’s release through emptiness? It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, and reflects like this: ‘This is empty of a self or what belongs to a self.’ This is called the heart’s release through emptiness.
SN41.7:5.1: And what is the signless heart’s release? It’s when a mendicant, not focusing on any signs, enters and remains in the signless immersion of the heart. This is called the signless heart’s release. This is the way in which these things differ in both meaning and phrasing.

Thank you. :pray:


Thanks for bringing up Citta samyutta, to be honest with you once I racked my brain over these terms. Terms clearly seen in Buddhaghosa’s commentaries, I put them aside as commentarial mental proliferations, eventually. At a certain stage, (my take) that stuff got into the canon?? The lately manufactured suttas like the two veddala suttas and citta samyutta, are examples of these. My personal take: they were concocted to support the 4th-8th meditative states, that were clearly of Upanisad origin. Buddha had rejected Arupa Jhanas, even though several suttas speak of these. I think Polak would agree, and also Alex Wynn.
such a long story… and obviously some Theravadins do not like to hear this, or any criticism of the Satipatthana suttas. Unfortunately there is Analayo, great as a translator, not so great at interpretations of satipatthana and jhana?
did not mean to be negative…it just came out
Be well!

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Actually, the Buddha comments on all the views in DN1. Remarkably, he says:

DN1:3.72.4: In the same way, all of these ascetics and brahmins who theorize about the past or the future are trapped in the net of these sixty-two grounds, so that wherever they emerge they are caught and trapped in this very net.

This is quite the remarkable sutta in this way because the Buddha enumerates the mental proliferations. And he points beyond. DN1 is a warning to step back from the mental proliferations. Indeed, as I am studying MN64 this week, I see that the Buddha discusses the impermanence of experience in these practices.

MN64:14.1: Furthermore, a mendicant, going totally beyond the dimension of infinite space, aware that ‘consciousness is infinite’, enters and remains in the dimension of infinite consciousness. They contemplate the phenomena there as impermanent … They turn their mind away from those things …

I personally haven’t had any mental conflict reading the four nikayas. I actually find the self-consistency of the EBTs quite extraordinary.


You wrote “I actually find the self-consistency of the EBTs quite extraordinary” you do??? Actually I finally get someone who knows something to chat with, and you are not offended by my thinking otherwise. I bow to you!
OK here is the point, the only point in the doctrine is meditation, this I learnt from Erich Frauwallner. One cannot read the suttas and understand what is told, before trying jhana at a rudimentary level. Without that, many engage in mental proliferations as to how to? I mean the understanding. The biggest inconsistency in the nIkaya is in the “How to meditate” OK so we know Satipatthana is an elegant fake. If that were not inconsistency enuf, take the 4 jhanas. Buddha found 4 jhanas ample, for awakening. Then we find these arupas stacked above these, and folks praise these without understanding these are not Buddha’s teachings, Buddha rejected these. In the 8 fold path Samma samadhi is only the 4 buddhist jhanas, What is the need for 4 arupas. Are they not of upanishad origin? Yes I know many buddhists think the way you do, i am in the minority … a small minority. Have you read Maryla Falk? If you do things will come undone, an amazing schlolar… She takes you thru Upanisads, Mahayana and Theravada and makes one’s eyes open. It is a long story that cannot be told in short. But over time…in samsara perhaps we can enrich each other. Have a safe day, safe from the travails of samsara
With love


I studied Zen for many years and have practiced what is essentially the first step of Satipatthana for decades. It has stabilised my impulses and brought peace into my life.

SN47.40:1.4: It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Upon discovering the EBTs I was astounded by Satipatthana. It is not fake and does indeed work for me with progression up through principles.

Regarding the formless meditations, the Buddha mastered many with the help of teachers such as Ven. Uddaka. So, yes, that is pre-existing.

MN26:16.13: When I said this, Uddaka, son of Rāma, declared the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

The very concept of formless attainments opened up new perspectives for me. I am losing my sight and the ability to see and recognize forms. The formless meditations are therefore quite important to read about. That is my personal need for the arupas.

The Buddha did NOT say the jhanas are sufficient for awakening. What he did say is this:

MN8:7.1: It’s possible that some mendicant, with the giving up of pleasure and pain, and the ending of former happiness and sadness, might enter and remain in the fourth absorption, without pleasure or pain, with pure equanimity and mindfulness. They might think they’re practicing self-effacement. But in the training of the noble one these are not called ‘self-effacement’; they’re called ‘blissful meditations in the present life’.

The conceit “I am” is a fetter. Blissing out in meditation does not release that fetter, that underlying tendency. However, meditation does provide leverage for releasing that fetter. In other words, one has to work at it with the help of meditation.

About Maryla Falk, I find that many people recommend different authors. But very few take the time and effort to read and study the EBTs themselves. After reading many different Buddhist authors, I gave up and found the EBTs, which are actually much clearer and effective for my own practice. I’d rather discuss the EBTs and compare our understanding of them. I did try to read Maryla, but it was for me just easier to read the EBTs. She used too many words.


I will reply in small fragments, just this today, regarding Maryla Falk, true it is a very difficult read, for she is an astounding scholar who completely understood Upanisads, an experience I sorely lack. She filled in the blanks for me. Aside from being a scholar she also meditated in India for several years, and this comes across in her work.
I only read her after reading the nikayas over and over again, to make sense of the contradictions that appear there. For instance according to Analayo Satipathana involves meditating on objects.
Yet the same canon calls such meditation donkey meditation. Tell me your take on Sandha sutta? AN11.9 ???
Upanisad reading is recommended for everyone who needs to understand how conflicting ideas got into the canon. I do not have the time to read these, so I take the word of Maryla Falk.
It took me a couple of months to get through it, but it was all worth it. All the disparities in the canon were wiped away, for I understood which was Buddha’s teaching, and which was not.
Regarding the Arupas, the Buddha left his teachers, because these did not lead to end of suffering.
He never denied that Arupas lead one to Brahma worlds. This was not his goal.
Salleka sutta intends to wipe defilements, it is not meant for gaining insight. Pl read Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnotes.
With love

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I don’t agree with this statement :slight_smile: IN the nicest way of course!! :slight_smile:
There are many paths into the Dhamma, and each one suits different people with different skills and characteristics - and it really depends on where one is in the journey. (By this I mean past lives as well)

There are many places in the suttas where the gradual training is discussed. Virtue and morals (sila) are necessary for the development of Jhanas. As such, one needs to put the whole of the 8 fold Noble path into practice. The highest levels of the Jhanas are already advanced practices.

One of the things that can be very confusing is that the cause and effect of the path may appear quite linear. However, in practice this isn’t really the case. Rather I find it more like a cascade of deepening spirals :smiley: Each time round, understanding of each of the 8 factors deepens and practice is developed. As it deepens, ones understanding changes, from the mundane to the transcendental, and practice gradually becomes perfected. It is this complexity and inter-relatedness of the path, that really necessitates practice, rather than just knowledge and intellectual understanding :slight_smile:

with much metta :pray: :sunflower: :revolving_hearts:


I agree with the things you say, I am not sure about different paths though. Buddha mentions only the 8-fold path. The 4 buddhist jhanas is one step of that path, i.e. Samma samadhi. Samma samadhi does not include Arupas however. 8-fold path includes sila, samadhi and panna, there is no dispute regarding this. I was referring to Samma Samadhi, only here. We know that sila, samadhi, panna go hand in hand. Without Samadhi, there is no wisdom, and without wisdom there is no samadhi. When I said understanding I did not mean an intellectual understanding at all. Intellectual understanding only leads to mental proliferations. What good does that do? If knowledge get us to ending of samsara, then all scholars would be nibbanized. Paramatthaka Sutta Sn4.5 of Atthakavagga
805 One should not form any view in the world, not through knowledge, and not even through virtue or vows, not presenting oneself ‘equal’, one should not even think one is inferior or better
806 Letting go of what one appropriates, one does not form a dependence even on knowledge
With love



I couldn’t find this donkey :slightly_smiling_face: but on a more serious note, AN11.9 only mentions about a colt and a thoroughbred(Arahant).

But perhaps I understand what you are trying to say. Are you saying that Satipatthana is a signless abiding?

Firstly I think, Satipatthana and signless meditation are two different things. This can be demonstrated by the following;

There are these three unskillful thoughts.
Sensual, malicious, and cruel thoughts.
And where do these three unskillful thoughts cease without anything left over?

In those who meditate with their mind firmly established in the four kinds of mindfulness meditation; or who develop signless immersion.

But I can understand why you would call it a state without taking an object though. The suttas explains it as one’s own territory where mara can’t get hold of oneself.

You should roam inside your own territory, the domain of your fathers.

If you roam inside your own territory, the domain of your fathers, Māra won’t find a vulnerability or get hold of you.

And what is a mendicant’s own territory, the domain of the fathers?

It’s the four kinds of mindfulness meditation.


Anyone can read her “Nāma-rūpa and dharma-rūpa: origin and aspects of anancient Indian conception” at

Thanks for quoting SN 47.42. The four nutriments scheme has been something which has actually puzzled me (recently listened to MN38 where they cropped up again). It’s something I had just put aside. However, that SN 47.42 does look like a really nice insight into them (links to the four satipatthanas does look a nice explanation).

That’s something that’s not obvious to me. I’m not very familar with Polak’s work. In the sets within the 37 Bodhipakkhiyādhammā, mindfulness always is listed before concentration where they occur. The stock definition of right concentration is the four jhanas. The stock definition of right mindfulness is the four establishments. For the seven enlightenment factors, there are quite a few steps in between, investigation of dhammas etc. There certainly seems to be a sequential aspect to developing these seven factors. Seems to me that practices like in the suttas relating to anapanasati and satipatthana would start by trying to establish sati with concentration as a later natural consequence of such practice.

I also think many of the details of the original meditation practice are a bit mysterious in the suttas (looking through a clouded glass). I’ve seen quite a few interpretations, approaches and ideas. Most rely and turn on a very small number of key suttas. I suppose the issue is is that one person’s “key” sutta is another person’s “outlier” or later “inauthentic” sutta.


I found these prior topics and links useful for aspects of this discussion :slight_smile:


Dear Lankaputra: Regarding the donkey, don’t blame me, It is our very own Ven. Sujato who labelled the Sandha “Donkey sutta” I spent the Lock down, locked down in all the talks he made on Youtube, and I decided to become active in Sutta Central. In one of his talks he was talking about “Donkey meditation” Like you do, I had thought of it as the meditation of the “foolish colt” He made the teaching far more affective by calling it “Donkey” So there the genius lies right at Sutta Central. Spend some time listening to his many videos, that will get you so much nearer to end of suffering. His sense of humor is frigging amazing.
As for your statements on “Signless” yes yes yes, several suttas have soaked these up, my take after wasting time with those, Buddhaghosa went into frigging elaboration of meditation calling them signless, wishless, selfless etc. and whatever else. After wasting many hours on these, one returns to Madhupindika, and finds all the answers right there. That is my short answer. The four jhanas and the Four Satipatthans rely on the same principle, i.e. leaving behind all objects. Once the consciousness is hung up on an object, it gives rise to subject and object. It has to be freed from all objects, to accomplish anything. That is why the Arahant is free. I hope I have addressed all issues, if I did not pl. nudge me.
you appear to be a fast learner, pleasure interacting you.
Happy Vesak!
PS I will respond to my others friends later, gotta take a shower. It is morning here.
PSS Also remember there are many suttas written by fervent Abhidhammikas, after the time of Buddha, or some suttas were tempered with. So Teachings other than Buddha’s are in the canon. Sometimes finding Buddha’s words is like finding a needle in a haystack…slightly joking…
Yes but be careful!


I think the following passage is the relevant part you are referring (?)

Mendicant, a person is beset by concepts of identity that emerge from the proliferation of perceptions.

If they don’t find anything worth approving, welcoming, or getting attached to in the source from which these arise,

just this is the end of the underlying tendencies to desire, repulsion, views, doubt, conceit, the desire to be reborn, and ignorance. This is the end of taking up the rod and the sword, the end of quarrels, arguments, and fights, of accusations, divisive speech, and lies

I think there might be a difference between what Ven Analayo calls an object and what you are referring to as an object. If an Arahants consciousness does not take an object, by definition she would be unconscious. But I don’t think that’s what you meant. Can you clarify further what you mean by object with reference to MN18?

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My Dearest Lankaputra: you wrote I think there might be a difference between what Ven Analayo calls an object and what you are referring to as an object. If an Arahant’s consciousness does not take an object, by definition she would be unconscious
I do not think so, some buddhists are brainwashed including Ven Analayo (not a put down, I adore him for translating Madhyama agama etc) , or let me say it differently, they have formed the VIEW that this is how it is. That without an object a subject cannot exist, in other words, consciousness exists. But consciousness does not exist. It is constantly renewed, if you understood “Son’s flesh” that basically in a nutshell is the entire Buddha Dhamma. In Kaccayanagotta Buddha says “Our samsaric brain is hooked on the opium of Being or non-being”. We just cannot think otherwise. Perhaps that is why when he got enlightened, he wanted to shut up and go back to bed. But that intruder Brahma Sahampathi, won’t leave him in peace. And the rest is history. I wish Buddha had gone back to sleep right after awakening, joking… now we have the nuisance of folks arguing over consciousness for a zillion years. But the problem is also Upanisads. After Buddha passed away folks had no teacher. There was no stability politically in North India. Teaching was orally transmitted, imagine the influences they were under, pandemics, wars, currying favor with royalty, for mere “existence” and of course Brahmins had a major influence, as did Upanisads. Upanisad ideas infiltrated the canon, they knew “consciousness” of a different flavor, a thing that was going to unite with Brahman after the death. In Buddha’s land there was 'no consciousness as such’ to join with anything else. Nibbana was it. But lots of folks had trouble with it. Who wants to expire if they believed “consciousness exists” it is like saying “I count for nothing” what an insult. Everyone wants to be counted, thus the necessity of God too, either Christian or Hindu, the golden CRUTCH. I will be saved by the view of God. Anyways I think it is kinda same thing when you tell me dear Son of Lanka, “if an object vanishes, the subject or consciousness vanishes, becomes unconscious
As for the Arahant, she is disconnected from the “Tree of Being” she does not need that kind of worldly awareness to be present in front of our eyes, that subject object duality. She is here as long as the remnant of body remains. Thereafter we do not see her anymore.
When Vacca asked Buddha the ten questions, he kept silent. The questions make sense only if you are stuck on aggregates as permennacies. Your question on Arahant sounds the same to me. I can only keep silent. Go meditate, but not sitting hours and hours as folks brag about. Meditation would be if you could hold or come to terms with that awareness like Bahia did. You and I are having a friendly conversation, becoming a wee bit enlightened each moment, but neither are you or me on that side of the conversation nor this side of the conversation…yet this process of conversations carries on.
Do you get my drift dear One? Until you get to that point, you will never figure out why the Ararhant is fully aware and not unconscious. Don’t give Analayo so much power as to screw up your Dhammavicaya, the second factor of Seven Awakenig factors. This thread has a different take on Samma sati or Samma Samadhi. One can say that is another view also, but Buddha did not despise all views. Some views are worth holding on to, until worldly consciousness vanishes, and the connection to the “Tree of Being” is lost
With utmost love