SN 46.6: Fulfillment of Satipaṭṭhāna rests solely on developping good conduct (sucarita)?

Here are the relevant quotes from SN 46.6:

“katame pana, bho gotama, dhammā bhāvitā, bahulīkatā cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūrentī”ti?
“But, Master Gotama, what things, when developed and cultivated, fulfil the four establishments of mindfulness?”

“tīṇi kho, kuṇḍaliya, sucaritāni bhāvitāni bahulīkatāni cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūrentī”ti.
“The three kinds of good conduct, Kuṇḍaliya, when developed and cultivated, fulfil the four establishments of mindfulness.”

“kathaṃ bhāvitāni ca, kuṇḍaliya, tīṇi sucaritāni kathaṃ bahulīkatāni cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūrenti? idha, kuṇḍaliya, bhikkhu kāyaduccaritaṃ pahāya kāyasucaritaṃ bhāveti, vacīduccaritaṃ pahāya vacīsucaritaṃ bhāveti, manoduccaritaṃ pahāya manosucaritaṃ bhāveti. evaṃ bhāvitāni kho, kuṇḍaliya, tīṇi sucaritāni evaṃ bahulīkatāni cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūrenti.

And how, Kuṇḍaliya, are the three kinds of good conduct developed and cultivated so that they fulfil the four establishments of mindfulness? Here, Kuṇḍaliya, having abandoned bodily misconduct, a bhikkhu develops good bodily conduct; having abandoned verbal misconduct, he develops good verbal conduct; having abandoned mental misconduct, he develops good mental conduct. It is in this way that the three kinds of good conduct are developed and cultivated so that they fulfil the four establishments of mindfulness.

2 Likes

Looking at the whole sutta, it says sense restraint as the basis for the 3 wholesome conducts. And this sense restraint is of a higher order than what is normally required of lay practitioners.

It says that all 6 contacts of the 6 senses one does not give rise to liking or disliking, or craving or aversion. There is a form of equanimity there already of not rejecting, not following the sense objects, but have inner steadiness, that is samadhi already present as well as the lack of the hinderances of ill will and sensual desires.

With this in place, one not only observes the precepts well by abandoning the unwholesome conducts, but also do good. Not just on morality. But also cultivating good mental conduct. Part of good mental conduct is right view and right attitude/thought with respect to the 4 foundations of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is hard to be established when one’s morality is not well established. Guilt can be present and it is not plesant to be aware of guilt. Indulging in sensual pleasures is also not condusive to mindfulness as it can see the dissatisfaction of sensual desires very clearly. This is why it is hard to be mindful while gaming and how sense restraint can help establish mindfulness. Right attitude about objects seen, not liking or disliking them, but being ok with whatever that arises, just seeing them as they are, comtemplating the body as just a body, not my body etc… Then without liking and disliking pulling and pushing the mind, it can be more still, generating insight which encourages more mindfulness.

To really experience all these, one should try to get an opportunity to train for months in a proper forest monastery.

1 Like

“SN 46.6: Fulfiment [sic] of Satipaṭṭhāna rests solely on developping good conduct (sucarita)?”

With the word “solely” (in the thread title), is it meant to imply both necessary and sufficient for such “fulfillment”?

That is a good question, that could make for an interesting discussion.

One could try to make a case that this is what this part seems to imply:

“katame pana, bho gotama, dhammā bhāvitā, bahulīkatā cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūrentī”ti?
“But, Master Gotama, what things, when developed and cultivated, fulfil the four establishments of mindfulness?”

“tīṇi kho, kuṇḍaliya, sucaritāni bhāvitāni bahulīkatāni cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūrentī”ti.
“The three kinds of good conduct, Kuṇḍaliya, when developed and cultivated, fulfil the four establishments of mindfulness.”

It’s a bit dangerous to zoom in on one part of the sutta and formulate conclusions based on that without a wider context. The dhamma are each related to one another in dependent origination. In this case, the Buddha is highlighting the cause or condition for the 4 establishment of mindfulness to be established. Yet, when we go to the cause of the 3 wholesome conducts, we see sensual restraint. Even that has its causes and conditions, and so on. So it’s good to keep the whole dhamma in wide perspective to know that all of them are to be practised, and when wisdom arises, it can see the cause and conditional relationships between these. When to practise what, what will lead to what and so on. To get that wisdom, the right information needs to be provided, thus this is the purpose of this sutta, to give the meditator the hypothesis of what is the cause for 4 establishment of mindfulness, once they practised and see it happened, it saves time and effort from blindly putting effort everywhere.

Zooming in and not looking at the big picture can lead to practise with rites and rituals, not with wisdom. Attaching to rites and rituals carries the attitude that I just do this, it will lead me to enlightenment. Stream winners are free from attachment to rites and rituals because they can see the big picture with wisdom.

1 Like

Contextually speaking, the idea that developing actions, body and mind ‘fulfils’ (paripurenti) the Four foundations of mindfulness isn’t appropriate to infer from this text, as in the following paragraph it talks of developing the four foundations of mindfulness- to fulfil the 7 factors of enlightenment! If the four foundations of mindfulness were fulfilled at the start there would be no need to mention developing it again in the following paragraph. I wonder if the Pali term for ‘fulfil’ suggests something more like ‘allows’ for the proper development of the four foundations of mindfulness (4FM) or even fulfils the base for developing 4FM.

With metta

That is an interesting question. Maybe I will have time for a contextual analysis of the term in its occurrences throughout the Pali Canon, or maybe someone else will. @Sylvester, perhaps?

I find the idea of a broader context quite important. See this sutta (one of my favourites! :heart: ):

Thus associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up hearing the good Dhamma. Hearing the good Dhamma, becoming full, fills up faith. Faith, becoming full, fills up careful attention. Careful attention, becoming full, fills up mindfulness and clear comprehension. Mindfulness and clear comprehension, becoming full, fill up restraint of the sense faculties. Restraint of the sense faculties, becoming full, fills up the three kinds of good conduct. The three kinds of good conduct, becoming full, fill up the four establishments of mindfulness. The four establishments of mindfulness, becoming full, fill up the seven factors of enlightenment. The seven factors of enlightenment, becoming full, fill up true knowledge and liberation. Thus there is nutriment for true knowledge and liberation, and in this way they become full.

Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountaintop, the water flows down along the slope and fills the clefts, gullies, and creeks; these, becoming full, fill up the pools; these, becoming full, fill up the lakes; these, becoming full, fill up the streams; these, becoming full, fill up the rivers; and these, becoming full, fill up the great ocean; thus there is nutriment for the great ocean, and in this way it becomes full. So too, associating with good persons, becoming full, fills up hearing the good Dhamma….

And what I also find very important is the fact that “the three kinds of good conduct” include mental conduct which sounds quite simple but goes very deep indeed!

4 Likes

So it appears from the quote above and others that this is not the case. It really just means ‘fulfills’.

The question may remain what does manosucarita refer to exactly? There is no clear definition. Vaciduccarita and vacisucarita are defined at AN 4.221 as the 4 verbal a/kusala kammapatha defined at AN 10.176: musāvādo, pisuṇā vācā, pharusā vācā, samphappalāpo and saccavācā, apisuṇā vācā, saṇhā vācā, mantavācā

MN 136 refers to the ten akusala kammapatha collectively as ‘sucarita’, so it can be inferred that manosucarita refers to ‘anabhijjhāluṃ abyāpannacittaṃ sammādiṭṭhiṃ’, although a number of suttas such as AN 4.212 mention sammaditthi separately from the three types of sucarita, so it is no clear whether it is for emphasis or if samaditthi should be considered as not belonging with manosucarita, but one could make the case that it does and it is only for emphasis.

If it means fulfils, then how can the subsequent paragraphs talk about development of the four foundations of mindfulness?

If something doesn’t logically make sense, it has to be assumed that we haven’t quite got the translation right.

with metta

Indeed, it is to explore this question that I created this thread.

I would agree with you on general principle, with caveats however. Considering the following, how can one conclude that paripureti means anything else than ‘fills’?

Restraint of the sense faculties, becoming full, fills up the three kinds of good conduct. The three kinds of good conduct, becoming full, fill up the four establishments of mindfulness. The four establishments of mindfulness, becoming full, fill up the seven factors of enlightenment.

Just as, when it is raining and the rain pours down in thick droplets on a mountaintop, the water flows down along the slope and fills the clefts, gullies, and creeks; these, becoming full, fill up the pools; these, becoming full, fill up the lakes; these, becoming full, fill up the streams; these, becoming full, fill up the rivers; and these, becoming full, fill up the great ocean; thus there is nutriment for the great ocean, and in this way it becomes full.

It is quite clear that at each step, the water reservoir becomes full, overflows and fills the next reservoir. Is there any other possible way to break down the meaning of this passage?

Also, as a side note, and to echo what was recently said on another thread, this passage shows poor understanding of the invisible part of the water cycle, as if all the water on earth came primarily from the rain, and it was the rain that filled the oceans rather than the oceans creating clouds that provide rain.

In Thag17.2 Sāriputta first stanza is:

A mindful person is like one of good conduct,
Or like one who is peaceful;
A heedful person is like one of good intentions,
who is practicing jhāna;
Happy inside, possessing samādhi,
Solitary, contented; that is what they call a monk.

In Pali:

Yathācārī yathāsato satīmā,
Yata­saṅkap­paj­jhāyi appamatto;
Ajjhattarato samāhitatto,
Eko santusito tamāhu bhikkhuṃ.

Not sure it helps much though…

1 Like

Yes, that might imply that to perfect the three types of good conduct, one has to resort to mindfulness. MN 117seems to corroborate this:

Mindfully one abandons wrong view, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right view: this is one’s right mindfulness.

Mindfully one abandons wrong intention, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right intention: this is one’s right mindfulness.

Mindfully one abandons wrong speech, mindfully one enters upon and abides in right speech: this is one’s right mindfulness.

Mindfully one abandons wrong action, mindfully one enters upon and dwells in right action: this is one’s right mindfulness.

Mindfully one abandons wrong livelihood, mindfully one enters upon and dwells in right livelihood: this is one’s right mindfulness.

Right view and right intention would come under mental good conduct, right action would come under bodily good conduct, right speech obviously under verbal good conduct, and right livelihood would come under either of those three depending on the type of livelihood, that can be based primarily on bodily, verbal or mental action.

Maybe satipatthana is just a stronger, more detailed term for sati, in which case MN 117 might provide the beginning of an answer, although at closer inspection it poses actually sati before the completion of the path factors.

Coming back to this remark, perhaps the right translation is simply ‘fills’, in the sense of ‘increase the amount of’, as opposed to ‘complete to the full extent’. When good conduct is practiced to its full extent, then it starts filling mindfulness because as MN 117, mindfulness is required to perfect good conduct, although good conduct in itself is certainly not enough to perfect mindfulness, for which one has to do the formal satipatthana practice.

Maybe another contextual analysis of paripureti could help test the robustness of this guess.

1 Like

See AN 10.61 which supports your reading. I wonder if it has anything to do with the verb being a causative.

1 Like

Not absolutely clear about Pali grammar but this was striking:

nīvaraṇe sāhāre vadāmi, no anāhāre. AN10.61

I wonder if sāhāre could be understood as ‘feeding into’ or even simply as ‘causative’. Paripurenti could be seen as prepare or ‘fulfils the ground for’.

With metta

I think it breaks down into sa+āhāre, meaning the obstructions are ‘with-nutriment, not without-nutriment’. This seems to corroborate the interpretation of paripureti as ‘to fill’ (not necessarily to the brim), in spite of pari refering to completeness and pura meaning full, and paripūro meaning undoubtedly “complete” in some contexts.

AN 5.28:

bhikkhu imameva kāyaṃ vivekajena pītisukhena abhisandeti parisandeti paripūreti parippharati, nāssa kiñci sabbāvato kāyassa vivekajena pītisukhena apphuṭaṃ hoti.

the bhikkhu makes the rapture and happiness born of seclusion drench, steep, fill, and pervade this body, so that there is no part of his whole body that is not pervaded by the rapture and happiness born of seclusion.

MN 27:

“na kho, brāhmaṇa, ettāvatā hatthipadopamo vitthārena paripūro hoti. api ca, brāhmaṇa, yathā hatthipadopamo vitthārena paripūro hoti taṃ suṇāhi, sādhukaṃ manasi karohi, bhāsissāmī”ti.

“At this point, brahmin, the simile of the elephant’s footprint has not yet been completed in detail. As to how it is completed in detail, listen and attend carefully to what I shall say.”

MN 65:

so vivittaṃ senāsanaṃ bhajati araññaṃ rukkhamūlaṃ pabbataṃ kandaraṃ giriguhaṃ susānaṃ vanapatthaṃ abbhokāsaṃ palālapuñjaṃ. tassa tathāvūpakaṭṭhassa viharato satthāpi na upavadati, anuviccapi viññū sabrahmacārī na upavadanti, devatāpi na upavadanti, attāpi attānaṃ na upavadati. so satthārāpi anupavadito, anuviccapi viññūhi sabrahmacārīhi anupavadito, devatāhipi anupavadito, attanāpi attānaṃ anupavadito uttari manussadhammā alamariyañāṇadassanavisesaṃ sacchikaroti. so vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. taṃ kissa hetu? evañhi taṃ, bhaddāli, hoti yathā taṃ satthusāsane sikkhāya paripūrakārissa.

He resorts to some such secluded resting place. While he lives thus withdrawn, the Teacher does not censure him, wise companions in the holy life who have made investigation do not censure him, gods do not censure him, and he does not censure himself. Being uncensured in this way by the Teacher, by wise companions in the holy life, by gods, and by himself, he realises a superhuman state, a distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, he enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Why is that? That is how it is with one who fulfils the training in the Teacher’s Dispensation.

SN 48.12

“pañcimāni, bhikkhave, indriyāni. katamāni pañca? saddhindriyaṃ . pe . paññindriyaṃ — imāni kho, bhikkhave, pañcindriyāni. imesaṃ kho, bhikkhave, pañcannaṃ indriyānaṃ samattā paripūrattā arahaṃ hoti, tato mudutarehi anāgāmī hoti, tato mudutarehi sakadāgāmī hoti, tato mudutarehi sotāpanno hoti, tato mudutarehi dhammānusārī hoti, tato mudutarehi saddhānusārī hotī”ti.

“Bhikkhus, there are these five faculties. What five? The faculty of faith … the faculty of wisdom. These are the five faculties. One who has completed and fulfilled these five faculties is an arahant. If they are weaker than that, one is a nonreturner; if still weaker, a once-returner; if still weaker, a stream-enterer; if stillweaker, a Dhamma-follower; if still weaker, a faith-follower.”