Can each satipatthana object itself develop the seven factors of awakening or is this an error/ambiguity in the formula?
as I had understood it was necessary to develop the 4 satipatthanas to develop the 7 factors of awakening but in the section of the MN 118 that talks about “the factors of awakening” it seems not to be so… each satipatthana seems to be self-conclusive without the need of others… which led me to think that maybe “the formula itself is not so literal”…
It is also the same with the Brahma Viharas (as opposed to the satipatthanas) in SN 46,54… it seems that each brahma vihara can do the same, although curiously they have the same structure as the MN 118 in the mentioned part …
The Anapanasati tetrads and the four foundations of mindfulness are structured on body, feelings mind and insight. The first three foundations are each appropriate to individuals according to temperament (different temperaments : AN 4.162), for example the second foundation is more accessible to those with the feeling temperament. All three tetrads and foundations are the subject of the fourth when insight is developed.
The main point about SN 46.54 is that the brahma-viharas can result in awareness release (jhana), but never discernment release. Under the fourth foundation of mindfulness are listed the seven factors of awakening and the five hindrances. In SN 46.51 these two groups are set against each other. The removal of the hindrances can assist jhana, or in a wider scenario it can contribute to total release.
“Development” is a word in the suttas which signifies a stage following “establishment.” It indicates a lengthy process:
"And how are the four frames of reference developed & pursued so as to bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination?
“ On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady & without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady & without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.”—MN 118
The Anapanasati sutta and the Satipatthana sutta cover a process which encompasses levels from beginning to culmination.
"1. The first frame of reference forms the foundation for the other three. In
other words, you can practice focusing on feelings, mind states, or mental
qualities while being mindful and alert to the body in and of itself.
The fourth frame of reference is useful primarily for keeping unskillful
mental states at bay. In other words, it frames attention in a way that’s
helpful for subduing greed and distress with reference to the world outside
the focus of your concentration, and ultimately to the world of becoming
induced by the concentration itself.
The practice of establishing mindfulness on any of the four frames of
reference can bring the seven factors for awakening to the culmination of
their development; and, through that culmination, lead to clear knowing and
I think statement (1) is questionable because on the one hand body is the main foundation throughout the suttas, on the other mind and body are separate entities.
Think of it like a fractal hologram: each aspect of the path contains the rest of the path, but in less detail. So the more you practice the more different aspects, the more fully it is developed. One part can substitute for another to some degree, because each contains them all.
Less esoterically, the first of the awakening factors is mindfulness, which then promotes the growth of all the remaining factors. So the more you develop mindfulness in any way the more you grow the other awakening factors.
In practice the Anapanasati sutta forms the basis of skills for the Satipatthana sutta. Particularly important is the development of awareness of the body in the first tetrad, leading to development of joy in the second, which then forms the basis for recognition of feelings not of the flesh in the second foundation of mindfulness. The Anapanasati sutta refers to these as ‘trainings,’ and the activation of bodily responses is something that has to be developed. For example awareness of the breath in the entire body has to be developed as it is not an accustomed energy circuit response.
"We’re here to train the mind to be its own best friend. One very visceral way of doing this is to focus on your breath. When the Buddha analyzes the way you cause yourself suffering, very early on in the list he says that if you’re ignorant of what’s really going to work, then even the way you breathe can lead to suffering.
So let’s focus on the way we breathe. Where do you sense the breath right now? When you close your eyes, what sensations let you know that now the breath is coming in, now the breath is going out? Focus on them. They can be in any part of the body at all, for “breath” here means the flow of energy. Sometimes you’ll sense the breath as the feeling of the air moving in and out of the nose, but it can also be the rise and fall of the abdomen, the rise and fall of the chest. Sometimes those movements send ripples out to different parts of the body, so that you can sense even in your arms or your legs whether you’re breathing in or breathing out. So wherever you find it convenient to focus, focus on the breath sensations there.
Then allow them to be comfortable. In other words, don’t put too much pressure on them as you focus on them. At the same time, notice how long an in-breath feels good. At what point does the in-breath start feeling uncomfortable? Just breathe in as long as is comfortable, and then allow yourself to breathe out. Breathe out only as long as is comfortable, and then breathe back in again. Try to sensitize yourself to what feels good right now in terms of the breathing.
Think of the whole body breathing in, the whole body breathing out, with every cell in your body bathed with breath energy. When you think of the breath in that way, what kind of breathing feels good? You might find, as you start thinking in that way, that the breath gets deeper. If that feels gratifying, fine. If it feels uncomfortable, change the rhythm. Just think, “What would be more comfortable right now?” and see what the body does in response. Think of yourself as hovering around the breath. You’re not squeezing it out; you’re not forcing it in; you’re just staying very close to it, watching it, letting it adjust in whatever way feels good. Give it some space to adjust. Sometimes you might want to nudge it a little bit and see what longer breathing would feel like, or what shorter breathing would feel like, faster, slower, deeper, more shallow, and then notice what happens."—Thanissaro
In practice this process goes on in the second foundation of mindfulness to develop the passive group of three of the factors of awakening:
"Is passion-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all pleasant feeling?
“No… There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With that he abandons passion. No passion-obsession gets obsessed there.”—MN 44
When the factors of awakening are developed it doesn’t happen miraculously but is a work process of changing views, thoughts, and resulting perceptions. For example the investigation of bodily energies in the first tetrad leads to energy and joy as a causal sequence when it’s successful, and so the requirements of the second tetrad are fulfilled. This results in a change of views about the source of pleasure in the body, and a transformation of thinking and interpretation of externals. Similarly the discrimination between feelings of the flesh which the practitioner formerly relied on, and feelings not of the flesh, requires investigation and when successful results in a reorientation of views, thoughts and perceptions about the cause and location of pleasure.
“ Any time one examines, investigates, & scrutinizes internal qualities with discernment, that is analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening. And any time one examines, investigates, & scrutinizes external qualities with discernment, that too is analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening. Thus this forms the definition of ‘analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening,’ and it is in this manner that it is two.”—SN 46.52
The causal sequence of the factors of awakening begins with investigation, mindfulness being a governing factor applying to to the sequence as a whole:
 Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining, analyzing, & coming to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.
 In one who examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, unflagging persistence is aroused. When unflagging persistence is aroused in one who examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persistence as a factor for Awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.
“ In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor for Awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.”—SN 46.6