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Satipatthana, removing craving and aversions

sati
mindfulness
satipatthānas
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#1

a monk fares along contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly conscious (of it), mindful (of it) so as to control the covetousness and dejection in the world; he fares along contemplating the feelings in the feelings, ardent, clearly conscious (of them), mindful (of them) so as to control the covetousness and dejection in the world; he fares along contemplating the mind in the mind, ardent, clearly conscious (of it), mindful (of it) so as to control the covetousness and dejection in the world; he fares along contemplating the mental objects in the mental objects, ardent, dearly conscious (of them), mindful (of them) so as to control the covetousness and dejection in the world.- I.B. Horner translation

Ajhan Sujato’s translation:

They meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.
vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ;
They meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world

My question should this sentence about getting rid of craving and dejection, be about a prerequisite, or the eventual result of practicing the Four foundations of Mindfulness (satipatthana)? Also a second question is how to translate domanassa here? :grin:


#2

vineyya’ is an absolutive, which here rather means ongoing action, “removing”, “getting rid of”:

https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=15707

Domanassa’ is mind-based unhappiness.

So one gets rid of this mind-based unhappiness in the process of Satipatthana practice.


#3

As well as the statement from the Satipatthana sutta introduction referring to actively “subduing greed and distress with reference to the world”(Thanissaro), there is also a refrain following each of the four foundations which refers to it again, this time in a completed form:

“In this way, in regard to the body 1) he abides contemplating the body internally, or he abides contemplating the body externally, or he abides contemplating the body both internally and externally. Or, 2) he abides contemplating the nature of arising in the body, or he abides contemplating the nature of passing away in the body, or he abides contemplating the nature of both arising and passing away in the body. Or, 3) mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and continuous mindfulness. And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.” (Analayo)

This is because there are three progressive levels of practice in the refrain, and “the third stage is obviously more advanced than the other two, for instead of a meditator having to subdue greed and distress with reference to the world, a meditator on this level has become independent, not sustained by anything in the world.”—Thanissaro.

According to the commentaries “greed (desire) and distress (anger)” is an abbreviation of the five hindrances in total.


#4

for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief - Nyanasatta thero

having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief _Soma thera


#5

I think there’s some evidence that mindfulness leads to overcoming the five hindrances, as we see overcoming them is mentioned in the Dhammanupassana. Also we find cravings and aversions in the cittanuapassana.

I wondered if some extremely gross defilements might need to be overcome in before practicing mindfulness. This however would be addressed in Right effort. As for the five hindrances, the similes that describe them are about clarity of water- very much like working with the mind, that is, meditation. When the mind clears from these hindrances there is clarity of mind. It’s said that one reason for retention of learnt texts is not being under the influence of the five hindrances.


#6

The hindrances are abandoned before “meditation”, this is shown in DN 2 where the abandonment process precedes meditation in the text. This abandonment can be a long process. In the introduction to the Anapanasati sutta MN 118, the Buddha gives a progression of ascending stages of practice dependent on reduction of the fetters. In the stage immediately before stream entry, mindfulness and the four exertions of right effort take precedence:

“"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference… the four right exertions”

Abandoning the Hindrances
"Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, this noble restraint over the sense faculties, this noble mindfulness and alertness, and this noble contentment, he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

"Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.”—DN 2

In the introduction to the Satipatthana sutta, “ardent, alert and mindful” is repeated, where “ardent” refers to the four great endeavours of right effort.

“And how is one ardent? There is the case where a monk, (thinking,) ‘Unarisen evil, unskillful qualities arising in me would lead to what is unbeneficial,’ arouses ardency. (Thinking,) ‘Arisen evil, unskillful qualities not being abandoned in me…’ … ‘Unarisen skillful qualities not arising in me …’ … ‘Arisen skillful qualities ceasing in me would lead to what is unbeneficial,’ he arouses ardency. This is how one is ardent.”—SN 16.2


#7

I briefly checked the 'quite old" dhammawheel thread, and I don’t agree with the “continuous” interpretation offered there.

The example given by Ven @Dhammanando does not, in my view, support the conclusion. He gives the example where someone “having picked up” (gahetvā) a bag, walks with it. The carrying of the bag and the walking are simultaneous. However, gahetvā refers to not to carrying, but to picking up. The act of picking up the bag is completed before the walking. The absolutive is commonly used in this perfective sense. I have no great objections to the idea that it can be used in a simultaneous sense, but this example does not establish that conclusion.

But this is tangential to the main point. Long ago ven @brahmali pointed out that the problem with the interpretation of this phrase is that it over-emphasizes the ambiguous vineyya, when the more useful term is abhijjhadomanassa. This is used in two important doctrinal tropes:

  1. sense restraint.
  2. satipatthana.

The purpose of practicing sense restraint is precisely to curb these two things:

If the faculty of sight were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of desire and aversion (abhijjhādomanassā) would become overwhelming. For this reason, they practice restraint, protecting the faculty of sight, and achieving its restraint.

Obviously sense restraint is one of the basic practices in the Gradual Training that prepares the way for satipatthana, i.e. mindfulness meditation. There is no reason to think that such a specific term has two distinct meanings.

Thus the phrase abhijjhādomanassā does not refer to the complete five hindrances, but to the coarser forms of these that are abandoned via sense restraint. Since a practitioner is taught to achieve a reasonable level of sense restraint before undertaking mindfulness meditation, the absolutive in the context of satipatthana does indeed have a perfective sense.


#8

Sense restraint is the function of the first right effort, the effort to avoid:

And what, mendicants, is the effort to restrain? When a mendicant sees a sight with their eyes, they don’t get caught up in the features and details. If the faculty of sight were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of desire and aversion would become overwhelming. AN 4.14 SC

And as AN 7.63 points out, right effort is a function of mindfulness:

“With mindfulness as his gatekeeper, the disciple of the noble ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity. “

Mindfulness can direct the employment of either right effort or right concentration depending on the state of the mind. In cases when the hindrances are strong, right effort needs to be activated. When the hindrances are not threatening, right concentration is chosen:

"Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: He would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing.”

[…]

"Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: While resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of ‘those cows.’ In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of 'those mental qualities. —MN 19