Are the Satipathana suttas not original? (DN22, MN10)

Very old post from Dhamma Wheel.

I don’t hold the view that the Satipatthana Sutta is a forgery. Near the end of this talk, however, it sounds like Ajahn Sujato calls it a forgery, and I’m sure he knows a lot more about these things than I do. In light of this, I’m wondering whether others here might have knowledge about discussions or debate regarding the authenticity of the Satipatthana Sutta.

In this book, Ajahn Sujato offers more details, although he does not come right out and say the sutta is a forgery the way he seems to in the talk referenced above. I imagine some here are familiar with his videos on You Tube in which he offers educated criticism about approaches to meditation based on the sutta (and, worth noting, also offers some praise for them).

Thoughts? Insights? Does it matter?

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THE SATIPAṬṬHĀNA SUTTAS by Ven. Sujatoṭṭhana-suttas/

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I am so so very confused and somewhat alarmed:

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I am studying MN10, the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta. The term satipatthana is common, hence the alarm. I also cannot find the term ‘forgery’ in the given link.

Am no expert, but I have read Anālayo’s book “Perspectives on Satipaṭṭhāna”, which does go into the similarities and differences between MN 10 and two parallels (from Ekottarika-Āgama and Madhyama-Āgama) in depth. Overall, there are not too many differences between the three versions for the feeling and mind sections. However, there’s a fair bit of variation between the parallels in the body and dhāmmas sections. There are, though, practices common to all three parallels in those sections. In the body section, these would be the meditations on anatomical parts, the elements and the corpse. In the dhāmmas section, the awakening factors are common to all and the five hindrances crop up in two parallels. I suppose there’s a certain argument that those shared elements probably formed the original earlier core (and other items in the body and dhāmmas sections were added on later from elsewhere in the canon somewhat haphazardly to flesh out the lists a bit, though there’s a logic to the additions). Anālayo’s satipaṭṭhāna practice approach puts the shared elements in the foreground.

EDIT: hadn’t realized a free pdf for “Perspectives on Satipaṭṭhāna” book had gone up on Analayo’s academic homepage here.


Bhante Sujato’s free book, “history of mindfulness” is excellent and well worth reading. I’ve read Analayo’s two books on the subject as well, and there are other books, but IMO “history of mindfulness” is a must read. It will open your eyes about how suttas are transmitted, and diverge in the different lineages.

Two of the Chinese parallels are worth studying as well. They have some extremely interesting things not in the Theravada. The Theravada MN 10, and especially the DN 22(?) mahasatipatthana sutta, once I learned the truth about them I just abandoned them, never look at it again. Sujato’s satipatthana mula, linked above, I chant once a week.

But what I consider the real satipatthana essential collection, that I chant every day, is:
SN 54.3 suddhika sutta, 16 APS (ananapanasati)
AN 6.29 udayi sutta
SN 46.2 kaya sutta, or if i’m short on time, SN 54.2, for a “real bojjhanga paritta”, not the fake one in most chanting books. SN 46.2 also gives you the key instructions, step by step to getting jhana, replacing the similar section in theravada’s MN 10 which is kind of interesting in an abhidhammic sense, but useless for the practical “what action do I need to focus to every moment, right now, all the time” to get super samadhi and S&S
AN 4.41 (the portion not already covered by AN 6.29)
AN 3.16 which covers critically importnat things MN 10 doesn’t, that should be remembered and executed every day, all the time:

3 qualities lead to destruction of āsavā's
    (STED Saṃvarap-padhānaṃ, indriyesu gutta-dvāro)
    proper way to eat
    proper way to sleep

and a few other miscellaneous things covering the maranasati category, that is offensively not even mentioned in MN 10.

I take B.Sujato’s thesis in “history of mindulfness” even farther, and I would say the best satipatthana sutta is “no satipatthana sutta”. In other words, don’t box yourself into a limited world of what other people (whose wisdom may not live to impressive credentials or superficial appearance of sagacity) think satipatthana is. Instead, read SN 46, SN 47, the relevant AN suttas, and do what I do above and assembly your own “satipatthana collection” of what you think the most crucial elements are, memorize it, and execute those instructions all the time. Always question authority.


Thanks for the link to the Satipaṭṭhāna Mūla (had forgotten about that, has been quite a while since I read that book). “History of Mindfulness” is IMO definitely a very nice book: starts off with an excellent intro to the EBTs and parallels in general (probably a very good starting point to find out about these) before then diving into satipaṭṭhāna proper. IIRC B.Sujato casts an even wider net in terms of satipaṭṭhāna sources and therefore ends up with an even more slimmed down core (and so consequently even likelier to have been in the original source) with just anatomical parts in the body section. Actually it is pretty cool to have this reconstruction organized into the sutta-like “Satipaṭṭhāna Mūla”.

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If you go to Access to Insight you find many.

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Saying it’s a forgery is too much. It has been clearly subject to a process of evolution, and that process has been more extensive than for most suttas. Crucially though, it is the latest and most inauthentic sections that are most emphasized in modern times. Given the scale of development, the evolution of the text persisted well into sectarian times, hence I would place it in the very latest strata of texts in the Pali nikayas.

Moreover, it is the only substantial sutta that has been subject to major editing revisions in modern times. The history is not yet established, but by the 6th, and even it seems the 5th counil in the late 19th century, MN 10 Satipatthana had been expanded with all the additional material on the 4 noble truths from DN 22 Mahasatipatthana. My guess is that this was a 19th century Burmese innovation.

When restored to the likely original core, the most noteworthy thing is that the content that explicitly deals with vipassana disappears: i.e. contemplating rise and fall, etc. That is, except for the 4th satipatthana, which is where vipassana finds its original home in this teaching. Satipatthana is primarily samatha; i.e. the basic purpose of it is to get into jhana. This is not an inference: it is stated explicitly in the suttas. (MN 44: "the four satipatthanas are the basis for samadhi = cattāro satipaṭṭhānā samādhinimittā)


Wow. OK. Everything I’ve tried with MN10 just works. I’ve been assuming it to be canonical, complete and not at all controversial.

Thank you all for inviting a deeper consideration.

I am quite spun quite around. :see_no_evil:



So, which one has been edited and is likely a remix sutta, DN22 or MN10?

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Well, they both are. MN 10 was presumably finalized in the early sectarian period, and the four noble truths material added to DN 22 somewhat later, probably in Sri Lanka. But it may not have been until the 19th century that the extra material was subsequently added from DN 22 to MN 10.

We don’t have any firm dates on this, but at least it was later than the commentaries and subcommentaries, for they comment extensively on the 4 NT material in DN 22, but not MN 10.


In your opinion what is contemplation on Dhamma?
What is the contemplation of Citta?
What is the difference of above two?
Very short answer is suffice.

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For the tag to work you need to add spaces in between things.

I think bhante @sujato 's translation of MN118 may help you:

And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated so as to fulfill the four kinds of mindfulness meditation?
Whenever a mendicant knows that they breathe heavily, or lightly, or experiencing the whole body, or stilling the body’s motion—at that time they’re meditating by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
For I say that the in-breaths and out-breaths are an aspect of the body.
That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while experiencing rapture, or experiencing bliss, or experiencing these emotions, or stilling these emotions—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
For I say that close attention to the in-breaths and out-breaths is an aspect of feelings.
That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while experiencing the mind, or gladdening the mind, or immersing the mind in samādhi, or freeing the mind—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
There is no development of mindfulness of breathing for someone who is unmindful and lacks awareness, I say.
That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while observing impermanence, or observing fading away, or observing cessation, or observing letting go—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
Having seen with wisdom the giving up of desire and aversion, they watch over closely with equanimity.
That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

That’s how mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, fulfills the four kinds of mindfulness meditation

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Isn’t this Four Noble Truths?

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No it isn’t .

It’s very specific to the context of were one finds himself/herself once the previous steps have been fulfilled.

It’s related to the four noble truths as it relates to the ennobling task of practicing right mindfulness and developing the respective awakening factor.

At least that’s how I make sense of it.


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observing impermanence - Dukkha Satya
or observing fading away - Samudaya Satya
or observing cessation - Nirodha Satya
or observing letting go - Magga Satya
This is how I understand it.

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Cool. Makes sense.
This topic is related:

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On the topic of the Satipaṭṭhāna Mūla, I had started this little project awhile back:

I didn’t want to post it until it was finished, but I’m not sure when I’ll have the time. It’s a work in progress.


It is interesting how this particular sutta(s) was so added to. Since the topics that can be deduced to have been added (such as breath meditation, noble truths, etc) appear elsewhere in many suttas, one might speculate that this was a conscious or unconscious effort to provide a single overview of meditation practice.

The claim about this being the (direct/whatever) path is presumably unique to the sutta. How early is that? And is is in the parallels ?

And what about these passages. Are they in the parallels?

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the body internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the body exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world. That’s how a mendicant meditates …

That basic message about observing origination and vanishing is clearly not unique, but perhaps this is a somewhat unique expression of it?

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Not necessarily.
It depend on your objectives.
There is Magga and Magga Satya.
If you are talking about Magga it is about Jhana.
If you are talking about Magga Satya it is Vipassana.
Noble Eightfold Path factors are not mutually exclusive.
If you are teaching you can teach them as mutually exclusive but if you practice they all are mutully inclusive.
Medical student may learn heart and lungs as two separate things but in practice they are inter related.

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