Sati/Mindfulness - Remembering what was Done & Said long ago?


It is important to note that it is not “Sati”.
It is “Samma Sati”
That is remembering what is relating to the path and ultimate goal.
That is four Satipathanas.


Samma sadhu. :pray:


Sorry to enter this conversation late, but has anyone else taken note of an 4.189? Here it is, bold mine:

“Mendicants, these four things should be realized. What four?
There are things to be realized directly. There are things to be realized with mindfulness. There are things to be realized with vision. There are things to be realized with wisdom.
What things are to be realized directly? The eight liberations.
What things are to be realized with mindfulness? Past lives.
What things are to be realized with vision? The passing away and rebirth of sentient beings.
What things are to be realized with wisdom? The ending of defilements.
These are the four things to be realized.”

Past lives? It seems pretty clear that sati in this context must involve remembering rather than present moment awareness. Furthermore, it’s not even necessarily memory of the dhamma, but rather stuff from your own personal experience.


Yes, samma sati is satipatthana, which focuses on nupassana (observation), rather than on memory.


With practice, we all dissolve and relinquish the clinging to past pleasure or pain that impinge on the mindfulness of present feelings. We learn to see the past delight that gives rise to a presently arising resentment or sorrow. Mindfulness shows us the conditioned link we forged for ourselves by craving and grasping. This is why mindfulness must involve remembering what was done and said long ago. Mindfulness sees the origin of our present condition.

Given the role that mindfulness plays in our daily practice, bridging as it does past and present, I can only reason that delights clung to voraciously in past lives would necessarily manifest as tendencies in this very life. And that therefore we would naturally conclude that mindfulness is the very means by which past lives would be realized.

How else could it be?


Well the “standard explanation” in AN3.58 (and elsewhere) is that the yogi, upon gaining strong jhana, willfully directs her mind towards recalling past lives:

he enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna, neither painful nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity.
When his mind is thus concentrated, purified, cleansed, unblemished, rid of defilement, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs it to the knowledge of the recollection of past abodes.

However, SN52.22 does report the four (standard) foundations of mindfulness (as described in the first sutta of the saṃyutta) as the path to the recollection of past lives. And, indeed, it has been my experience (just as you describe) that I generally don’t care about my past lives, except when a strong reaction / attachment comes up out of (seeming) nowhere: then I really do desire to recall “where the h*ck did that come from?!” :joy:


Manokamma and sati? What is the relationship?


I think the main reason why some consider sati is about ‘remembering constantly what was done and said long ago’, is because they do not notice the main teachings from SN 47 Satipatthana Samyutta (such as SN 47.2) and SN 54 Anapana Samyutta (such as SN 54.1). Sati in the collections is certainly about awareness (sampajana) in the present moment in the direction of mental attention on ‘restraining covetousness and distress in the world’ (vineyya loke abhijjhaadomanassam) (pp. 215-6, 225-7 The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism).