Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta (DN22) and non-monastics


Mahãsatipatthãna speak about foundation of mindfulness for the monks, but when lay buddhists read or study this sutta, there is so much to learn, to grasp. so can one say that this sutta is not only for the monastic, but also a highly importnt sutta for lay peole to grasp and to follow?


Greetings @Cultivator and welcome to the forum.

There are a vast number of resources available, and the search function is a great tool.

There are many many audio visual resources as well, and many sutta classes listed. I love learning about suttas in this way.


Greeting Viveka. and thank you.
The reason for my question was in hope of a discussion toward this sutta, I have the Digha Nikãya where this sutta is found, so in my own cultivation it is just one of many suttas i find to be full of wisdom :slight_smile:

And discussion is always a good way to learn more, as long the discussion is kept in a midfull manner :slight_smile:
There are ofcourse many dhamma talks both i writing and in video that one can listen to or read :slight_smile:


Remembering that the Satipatthana sutta deals with mindfulness, recommended reading is “The Noble Eightfold Path” by Bikkhu Bodhi in its entirety. This of course includes a chapter on right mindfulness seen in the context of the noble eightfold path, which is a necessary understanding to see the relevance of the Satipatthana sutta.

A simplified understanding of the Satipatthana sutta begins with that its four foundations deal with body, feelings and mind. The refrain of the sutta lists three stages of development:

“1) In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or externally on the body in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the body in & of itself.

  1. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the body.

  2. Or his mindfulness that ‘There is a body’ is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by [not clinging to] anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.”—DN 22, MN 10.

In stage one the practitioner familiarizes themselves with the specific characteristics of the body (feelings, mind). In stage two they progress to viewing the body (feelings, mind) from the perspective of the fourth foundation, which includes overcoming the hindrances. In the third stage, they have overcome the hindrances.

The fourth foundation lists five sets of categories, and the four noble truths is the overarching framework for understanding how right mindfulness should function. Among the other four, the hindrances are to be abandoned and the factors of enlightenment are to be developed.


Thank you Paul1 for your wonderful answer.
Yes your description of the sutta is very smiliar to the understanding i have come to too.
In my understanding all teaching of the Buddha has the 8 fold path and the 4 noble truths in its foundation. To understand the suttas one must have a deeper understanding of the 8 fold path and to see how the 4 noble truths affect us in daily life, being mindfull toward every thought, action or spoken words we do each moment.


For whatever one data point is worth: my teacher (Ajahn Suchart) practiced this sutta for one year as a lay person. After that year he ordained :joy:


Thank you for your reply AlexM :slight_smile: The sutta must have made an impression on your teacher so strong that monatic life was his only option :slight_smile:


On Anupubbasikkha (gradual practice for monastic), you can find Sati Sampajanna on fifth training stage. You can compare it with Mahasatipatthana Sutta. I think it’s same practice. You can find Anupubbasikkha on this link:

IMO it’s not suitable for a lay person. :thinking:


Why not for lay people? They can cultivate dhamma too


Yes, some lay person like Pukussāti can cultivate this higher training… But a lay person like me with many activities, IMO they can’t even they following the ODM. Before you want to cultivate Satipatthana, there is 4 stages that you must cultivated it before practicing the Satipatthana. :thinking:


Yes that is true :slight_smile:


Greetings @Cultivator, Just a few tips about forum use. Most users skim the topics or opening paragraph to decide whether to engage further in a topic. As such it’s important to have a clear question at the beginning. For example, the aspect of the sutta that you have questions about. As you mentioned above you wanted a dhamma discussion about the sutta, or are you more interested in it’s suitablilty for lay practitioners as per your Opening Post (OP) ?

If you want to target the answers more to Dhamma discussion, I suggest you edit the first paragraph of your OP to reflect it.

Much Metta :slightly_smiling_face:


Greetings Viveka. Thank you for giving me this note about my OP. The Sutta do explain a lot about the monastic mindfulness, but in the way i understand it, this way of being mindfull is fully possible for Lay people too. Since i am no longer a fully lay person but more a full time meditator and cultivator of the dhamma (non monastic) i find this sutta to be of very much importance to any person who follow the buddha dhamma. And since there is both Lay buddhist and monastic people in this forum, i was thinking it would be good for both sides to discuss benefit from this sutta.

But from reading other posts i have discovered that my understanding of what is important and what is worth cultivating within Theravada do seem to be of a different way then most others, this may ofcourse make it difficulty for my self :slight_smile: and not the other way around :slight_smile:


When in doubt, I always go back to basics - 'Does this practice lead to a lessening of suffering? Is it reducing defilements?
If the answer is yes, then I conclude it is on the right path.
As each individual is unique (the causes and conditions are unique) then practice needs to be developed in line with this. Also the motivation and dedication of each person is different, so one may have highly diligent individuals who are lay people as well as those who follow mainly out of a cultural upbringing. As such any generalisations across a whole population can only be taken in a very general sense.

As such, If the Mahasatipatthana sutta helps you in your practice, then it is a good thing - as long as one is mindful of it’s context in terms of the gradual training and Noble 8 fold path :slight_smile:


Your words is from wisdom of the dhamma :slight_smile:


I notice that the Buddha didn’t spend a long time trying to define sati or mindfulness. It is more often linked to what one is being mindful of ie sati must be purposeful- you must know what the torch is aimed at and whether it is mentioned as one of the Buddhist meditations.

As to whether lay people can practice it, of course! Lay people aren’t a static category. The progression from a lay person to a monk or nun is an unbroken progression. Something when you do when it is right for you, with deepening practice, rather than in a forced manner!


Yes your speak the truth :slight_smile:
To be mindfull is something we would benefit greatly from when being in the moment all the time. To not linger in the past or worry anymore about the future. And in my understanding when we are mindfull in the moment we do see our wrongdoings much more clear ,and it is more easy to adjust how we speak, act and think when we see what we did wrong in the past.
And the sutta Mahãsatipatthãna in my understanding explain this in a way that is more and more clear the more we study it and meditate on it :slight_smile:


True, but it does become stop and start. Being mindful all the time is best performed in a retreat, and is setting up for failure as a goal to reach in busy lay life (lay people must find the time to go on retreat, is the conclusion!).


Yes i do agree with you on this.


I find that when my mindfulness is directly to something more specific and inspirational than ‘mindfulness all the time’ I am better at being mindful, and what drives me is the intention to overcome my kilesas, develop tranquility and insight.