Four nutriments in the context of Satipathana?

In relation to the following Sutta can you explain how you understand the following?
I also wish to know the difference between four nutriments and the Paccaya in Dependent Origination.

“With the origination of name-and-form there is the origination of mind. With the cessation of name-and-form there is the passing away of mind.

“With the origination of attention there is the origination of phenomena. With the cessation of attention there is the passing away of phenomena.”

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Great question! :anjal:

This is one of the rare contexts where satipatthana, which is normally a method of samatha meditation to attain jhana, is applied in the context of understanding causality, i.e. vipassanā. This results in some unusual usages.

  1. Āhāra as the origin of the body is just ordinary food, it does not refer to the four nutriments.
  2. Contact as the cause of feeling is the same as dependent origination.
  3. Name and form as the origin of citta mirrors the relation between viññāṇa and name and form in dependent origination. Here, citta and viññāṇa are synonyms. The difference is that viññāṇa is usually used in contexts relating to the first noble truth and passages that analyze the nature of suffering, whereas citta falls under the fourth noble truth and is “to be developed”, primarily through samatha meditation. The somewhat blurry lines between these terms result in this unique usage.
  4. Manasikāra as the origination of dhammas only makes sense when it is understood that here dhamma refers only to the hindrances and awakening factors, and maybe the four noble truths. This is, in fact, specified in the commentary to this passage. Translating dhammas here as “phenomena” (in the general sense) or “mind objects” is incorrect. It could be rendered as “principles”.

As to the four nutriments and dependent origination, you’ll need to be more specific.


Ven. Ñāṇananda addresses this sutta in his Nibbāna sermons :

And later, he mentions AN 10.58 :

So, should we take dhammas as ‘phenomena’ or ‘principles’ ?


Please stay with the topic.
Perhaps we should create a new topic.
I personal prefer “mind object” as the translation for Dhamma.

It would be useful to get the contextual meaning clarified here. But, yes, a new topic might be good.

Description of dhammā here as “arisen from contact” makes clear that mental processes are meant, namely, as explained in the Commentary, feeling (vedana), recognition (sanna) and volition (sankhara):

So atthato tayo aruupino khandhaa vedanaakkhandho sa~n~naakkhandho sa’nkhaarakkhandhoti.

Dhammapada-Atthakatha 1.22

These three aggregates arise from contact:

And attention contributes to their origination.

As for nutriments, you can see on the diagram above the links from craving (tanha) to four nutriments, as described in Mahatanhasankhaya sutta:

"Bhikkhus, these are the four finds of supports for the maintenance of beings that have arisen and as help for those seeking birth. What four? First is material food, coarse or fine; the second is contact; mental volition is the third and consciousness is the fourth.

"Bhikkhus, from what do these four supports originate, rise, take birth and develop?

"These four supports originate, rise, take birth and develop from craving.

The sutta appears to be stating:

  1. The physical body arises due to nutriment (physical food) & will pass away if it does not obtain nutriment.

  2. Feelings arise due to sense contact & pass when contact passes.

  3. Citta arises due to having a body & mind (nama-rupa) & ceases when mind-body cease.

  4. The (practise & realisation of the) Dhamma path & truth arises due to attention (as described in AN 10.58; AN 10.61, etc) & passes when attention passes (refer to AN 10.61).

There appear to be two types of four nutriments:

  1. Four nutriments that support for the maintenance of ‘beings’ (‘sattānaṃ’). SN 23.2 & SN 5.10 describe a ‘being’ (‘satta’) as a ‘view’ & attachment. Therefore, these four nutriments that support ‘beings’ develop from craving via dependent origination, as described in MN 38.

  2. Four nutriments that are neutral, such as described in SN 12.63. These four nutriments enlightened ones use in ‘moderation’, without craving or attachment, as described in SN 12.63.

Therefore, the four nutriments appear to only relate to Dependent Origination when they support the maintenance of the self-view of ‘beings’ (‘sattānaṃ’).

When the four nutriments are used by a Buddha, they do not relate to Dependent Origination because Dependent Origination is the ‘wrong path’ (per SN 12.3).

To conclude, in my opinion, SN 47.42 appears to not be about Dependent Origination (except for the 4th satipatthana), since the 1st three satipatthana appear to be describing mere physical & cognitive processes/causation, i.e., idappaccayatā , rather than the origination of suffering, i.e., paticcasamuppada .


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From my understanding they both refer to causal connections. However nutriment may refer to more prolific potential effects (via the cause): Consciousness (Vinnana) is said to proliferate when there is attachment. Contact (phassa) gives rise to not one effect, but feelings, perceptions and fabrications. Intention (cetana) can give rise to karma vipaka, further causal pathways etc, and the food maintains the body to experience all these possible pathways.

with metta

This topic was discussed here by some of us.

[quote=“sujato, post:3, topic:4962”]
This is one of the rare contexts…[/quote]


This sutta (SN 47.42) appears to directly state the four satipatthana are the body, feelings, mind & dhamma principles, thus appears to support the translation of ‘satipatthana’ as ‘foundations of mindfulness’ rather than your view in ‘A History of Mindfulness’ (page 185) of ‘establishings of mindfulness’ (which I personally agree with, from a practical point of view).

Could you kindly offer your comments about this?

Thank you :seedling:

I need more info about the cessation part of 3 and 4.
ie: How with the cessation of attention there is the passing away of phenomena.”

That upaṭṭhāna means “establishment” is shown in dozens if not hundreds of occurrences. We can’t use one passage in an unusual context to change a well established meaning.

This makes sense if we consider that, as usual in the context of the hindrances and awakening factors, what we are talking about here is attention that is yoniso or ayoniso, “rational” and “irrational”. If a meditator pays attention in the wrong way, hindrances increase and awakening factors diminish. If they pay attention in the right way, hindrance diminish and awakening factors increase.


Both Ajahn Sujato & myself have posted our view that the word ‘phenomena’ is not the appropriate translation of ‘dhamma’ here. I would suggest to disregard the Nanananda views found on DW.

Please kindly thoroughly read the answer I have offered, which has already answered your new question here.

Kind regards :sheep:

Thank you. My assumption made in my question is probably not accurate, anyway, since mindfulness established in relation to the body will pass away if the body passes away.

Regards :seedling:

Thanks. I missed that thread completely.

Also, SN 47.42 appears to not be about Dependent Origination because the two core terms found in it are ‘samudayañca’ & ‘atthaṅgamañca’. While ‘samudayañca’ can be used to refer to the origination of suffering, ‘atthaṅgamañca’ seems to not equate with the term ‘nirodha’ (‘cessation’).

My understanding is ‘atthaṅgamañca’ refers to a passing away that can re-arise, such as when the sun sets in the evening & arises the next morning. Where as ‘nirodha’ refers to a permanent cessation.

Atthaṅgamañca’ is found in contexts, such as the following, which are not about dukkha samudhaya or dukkha nirodha by merely about the nature of things:

There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five aggregates: ‘Such is form, such its origination (samudayo), such its passing away (atthaṅgamo). Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.’

AN 4.41

Regards :seedling:

In Puttamansa Sutta, there is no mention of Dhamma. Is there any reason for this?

"There are, O monks, four nutriments[1] for the sustenance of beings born, and for the support of beings seeking birth.[2] What are the four?

"Edible food, coarse and fine;[3] secondly, sense-impression;[4] thirdly, volitional thought;[5] fourthly, consciousness.[6]

SN 47.42 appears to only refer to nutriment in relation to the 1st satipatthana. Thus, your new question here appears to be not relevant to SN 47.42. :seedling:

[quote=“SarathW1, post:18, topic:4962”]
for the sustenance of beings born… [/quote]

‘Beings’ born are devoid of Dhamma. That is why they are ‘born’.

‘A being,’ lord. ‘A being,’ it’s said. To what extent is one said to be ‘a being’?

Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be ‘a being.’

Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling… perception… fabrications…

Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be ‘a being.’

Just as when boys or girls are playing with little sand castles: as long as they are not free from passion, desire, love, thirst, fever & craving for those little sand castles, that’s how long they have fun with those sand castles, enjoy them, treasure them, feel possessive of them.

SN 23.2