Mindfulness in everyday life


Which suttas deal with mindfulness in everyday life (outside of formal meditation practice) and how can they be practically applied for a lay person?

Many thanks.

I consider SN 47.2 (= SA 622) on mindfulness (sato) and awareness (sampajaano) in everyday life, which also can be applied to a lay person in practice.

SN 47.2 really just gives the 4 foundations of mindfulness and the situational awareness formula from the Sekha Paṭipadā. as for example at DN 2 the latter is certainly applicable “off the mat”.

I found Venerable Analayo’s essay on Sampajañña helpful for this. He cites several suttas (in PTS format)

Mindfulness in everyday life is there is the Satipatthana Suttas (MN 10 and DN 22). It explains about being mindful in different postures which we usually take up during the day. Sitting, standing, walking and lying down etc.
What needs to be stressed is that the type of mindfulness that is encouraged in Buddhism is the mindfulness that is within the limits of ethics and restraint. For example one may say that one mindfully engages in the activity of gambling or mindfully enjoys one’s dessert. Sure there is some mindfulness there but however this does not come under Right Mindfulness. These two examples will come under Wrong Mindfulness Micca Sati.

The suttas do not deal with that sort of information in detail firstly because they are mostly directed at the level of monks, and secondly they speak in principles of doctrine. AN 9.20 touches broadly on how laypeople should progress beyond mundane right view to insight:

“If one were to develop even for just a finger-snap the perception of inconstancy, that would be more fruitful than the gift, the great gift, that Velāma the brahman gave”

The OP question implies understanding the vipassana process, which includes knowing the meaning of the cause/effect relationship between sila and samadhi and how the development of panna occurs. That is the aim of applying mindfulness to everyday life, the progressive development of (transcendent) right view. The principle of that in doctrinal form is given in MN 117, where right view is developed in a spiral manner:

" “One makes an effort for the abandoning of wrong view & for entering into right view: This is one’s right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one’s right mindfulness.[2] Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.”

MN 117 and its practical relevance- previous testimony:

The development of right view proceeds as a result of investigation of actions applied to the second and third noble truths.

The best practical exposition of this is in MN 19 where the Buddha describes the thinking that allowed him to progress towards awakening, and how development of right view takes place by investigating the results of two types of thought, and the consequent elimination and development process which in doctrinal form is the four great endeavours of right effort. In the sutta the Buddha-to-be also refers to the fact that applying mindfulness to everyday life is tiring, and how external input should be balanced with periods of contemplation.