Understanding what is "cattaro satipatthana" bhavana

regards and greetings to venerable sangha & my dear dhamma friends,

i am looking for accurate translations of the following (and analytical discussions with this community on the meditative aspects of the bhavana of ‘cattaro satipatthana’ thereafter):

  1. Yesañca susamāraddhā, niccaṃ kāyagatāsatīti gāthāya vuttāya kāyagatāsatiyā vuttā vedanāgatā cittagatā dhammagatā ca sati catunnaṃ satipaṭṭhānānaṃ ekena satipaṭṭhānena. Na hi cittaṃ ekasmiṃ viññāṇaṭṭhitiyā pavattati, nānāsu gatīsu pavattati, kāyagatāsatiyā vuttāya vuttā vedanāgatā cittadhammagatā ca. Na hi kāyagatāsatiyā bhāvitāya satipaṭṭhānā cattāro bhāvanāpāripūriṃ na gacchanti. Evaṃ tassadisesu dhammesu vuttesu sabbadhammā vuttā ca bhavanti
  • Tipiṭaka (Mūla) Suttapiṭaka Khuddakanikāya Peṭakopadesapāḷi 5. Pañcamabhūmi
  1. Tattha katamā bhāvanāya samāropanā? Yathāha bhagavā ‘‘tasmātiha tvaṃ bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharāhi, ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ’’. Ātāpīti vīriyindriyaṃ. Sampajānoti paññindriyaṃ. Satimāti satindriyaṃ. Vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassanti samādhindriyaṃ. Evaṃ kāye kāyānupassino viharato cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Kena kāraṇena? Ekalakkhaṇattā catunnaṃ indriyānaṃ. Catūsu satipaṭṭhānesu bhāviyamānesu cattāro sammappadhānā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Catūsu sammappadhānesu bhāviyamānesu cattāro iddhipādā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Catūsu iddhipādesu bhāviyamānesu pañcindriyāni bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Evaṃ sabbe . Kena kāraṇena? Sabbe hi bodhaṅgamā dhammā bodhipakkhiyā niyyānikalakkhaṇena ekalakkhaṇā, te ekalakkhaṇattā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti. Ayaṃ bhāvanāya samāropanā.
  • Tipiṭaka (Mūla) Suttapiṭaka Khuddakanikāya Nettippakaraṇapāḷi 4. Paṭiniddesavāro
  1. Desanāhāravibhaṅgo 16. Samāropanahāravibhaṅgo)

Sabbaṃ dhammaṃ pariññāya yaṃkiñci vedanaṃ vediyati sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā. So tāsu vedanāsu aniccānupassī viharati, virāgānupassī viharati, nirodhānupassī viharati, paṭinissaggānupassī viharati. So tāsu vedanāsu aniccānupassī viharanto virāgānupassī viharanto nirodhānupassī viharanto paṭinissaggānupassī viharanto na kiñci loke upādiyati…

  • Tipiṭaka (Mūla) Suttapiṭaka Aṅguttaranikāya Sattakanipātapāḷi 6. Abyākatavaggo
  1. Pacalāyamānasuttaṃ)
  1. ‘‘Tisso imā, bhikkhave, vedanā. Katamā tisso? Sukhā vedanā, dukkhā vedanā, adukkhamasukhā vedanā – imā kho, bhikkhave, tisso vedanā. Imāsaṃ kho, bhikkhave, tissannaṃ vedanānaṃ pariññāya cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā.
    ‘‘Katame cattāro? Idha bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ; vedanāsu…pe… citte…pe… dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Imāsaṃ kho, bhikkhave, tissannaṃ vedanānaṃ pariññāya ime cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā’’ti. Navamaṃ.
  • Tipiṭaka (Mūla) Suttapiṭaka Saṃyuttanikāya Mahāvaggapāḷi 3. Satipaṭṭhānasaṃyuttaṃ
    3.Satipaṭṭhānasaṃyuttaṃ 5. Amatavaggo 9. Vedanāsuttaṃ

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in particular - i pray for your kind attention to the following lines in the above quoted references and request to analyze its implications on the bhavana of the cattaro satipatthana.

= catunnaṃ satipaṭṭhānānaṃ ekena satipaṭṭhānena.

= Evaṃ kāye kāyānupassino viharato cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchanti.

= Sabbaṃ dhammaṃ pariññāya yaṃkiñci vedanaṃ vediyati sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā.

= tissannaṃ vedanānaṃ pariññāya ime cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā’’ti. tissannaṃ vedanānaṃ pariññāya ime cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā’’ti.

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can the vedananupassana of kayasamphassaja vedana as practiced in the tradition of sayagyi u ba khin said to be the holistic bhavana of cattaro satipatthana in the light of the above references [read along with Paṭhamagelañña Sutta]?

with regards and much metta,

manish

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Welcome to the forum, dhammachakka, I hope you’ll find the information you are seeking, and interesting discussion as well. :pray: :slight_smile:

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This has a bearing on your question:

"These three methods of insight meditation could be considered as being based in particular on mindfulness of bodily postures (Mahāsi), 5 on mindfulness of feelings (Goenka); and on mindfulness of the four elements (Pa Auk), as shown in figure 1.6 "

Although these three approaches differ at the outset, they are unified in the use of the insight knowledges. All the Burmese approaches rely on the Visuddhimagga, so your question deals with a comparison between that and the suttas. Advanced practitioners recognize the Vism. as a helpful resource for practice.

dear Paul

many thanks for your reply.

i am not looking for any organizational methodology comparison but trying to comprehend the many facets & approaches to practice the bhavana of cattaro satipatthana - as taught by the bhagava in the mahasatipatthana sutta. if practiced exactly as the lord says, each approach is the bhavana of cattaro satipatthana and is paripunno & parisuddho.

i will be grateful if we could begin with accurate translations of all the quotes and thereafter consider the subject in the light of all these quotes.

with much metta

manish

Translation is not the universally accepted way of understanding the suttas. Indeed the Buddha taught the method of ‘comparing meaning’ (agreement of one sutta with those already known) as the way of furthering that knowledge.

“Hearing the Dhamma, he remembers it. Remembering it, he penetrates the meaning of those dhammas. Penetrating the meaning, he comes to an agreement through pondering those dhammas. There being an agreement through pondering those dhammas, desire arises.”—-MN 95

“Having a sense of the dhamma” is another relevant skill (AN 7.64), that is knowing the overall direction of dhamma thought will enable penetration of new material. The Anapanasati sutta is a precursor to the Satipatthana, and the ideas in the latter can be found in their infancy in the former. The first thing to note is that both are based on the same framework of body, feelings, mind (the third and fourth stages deal with mind), the order showing that feelings are an intermediary between body and mind. In the Anapanasati sutta first tetrad is seen the training of sensitivity to the entire body, which unavoidably leads to awareness of bodily feelings, the subject of the second tetrad, which goes on to training in sensitivity to pleasant feelings.

The Satipatthana second foundation goes further in recognizing both pleasant and painful feelings, and discriminating between bodily and mental feelings. This is a key point in the development of practice in light of the fact that sensuality cannot be overcome unless replaced by pleasant feelings not-of-the flesh, that is the mind cannot function without food of one type or another. Note the Buddha’s method for overcoming sensuality includes not only insight, but serenity as indispensable in a pincer strategy:

"I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened bodhisatta, saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, but as long as I had not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, I did not claim that I could not be tempted by sensuality. But when I saw as it actually was with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and I had attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, that was when I claimed that I could not be tempted by sensuality.”—-MN 14

Hi Dhammachakka, welcome to the forum. Thanks for the question, which I will try to answer for you.

Just a tip, if you spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with markdown, you’ll be able to format your posts in a way that makes it easier for readers to understand what you are saying. Here’s a nice tutorial.

of the four satipatthanas by one satipatthana

It’s a bit difficult to translate this sentence fragment by itself. But the sense of this in context is that all four of the satipatthanas are included in the one satipatthana, namely mindfulness of the body.

For one thus meditating observing an aspect of the body the four satipatthanas become fully developed.

Having fully understood all phenomena: whatever feeling is felt, whether pleasant, painful, or neutral.

This fragment is not entirely comprehensible out of context. The passage goes on to say that one contemplates these as impermanent and lets go attachment.

“With the full comprehension of the three feelings these four satipatthanas are developed”

You have repeated the Pali phrase, this is a mistake.

I have never practiced in this tradition, unlike Vens @Akaliko and @Vimala so perhaps they have some thoughts.

But for those not familiar with Pali, you raise a question that has been put many times before. The U Ba Khin and Goenka meditations emphasize the scanning of bodily sensations, which they describe as vedanānupassanā. However some say that what they are referring to as vedanā is often closer to what the suttas call phoṭṭhabba, i.e. the physical sensation of touch. Such touch sensations of course give rise to vedanā of pleasant, painful, or neutral. The question, if I understand it correctly, is whether such a practice fully encompasses the four satipatthanas as described here.

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Indeed there is an emphasis on phoṭṭhabba but this is not what is meant by vedanā in the U Ba Khin and Goenka traditions. It is only a starting point from where to look at vedanā. The idea is that all experiences have a resonance in the body that we can feel as pleasant, painful or neutral. Not just on a mental level but also on a bodily level. For instance if you are stressed you might get tension in your shoulder muscles. Bhante Analayo has written extensively about this and has also been a Goenka teacher for many years. One of his criticisms about this is that it is too focussed on the feelings at the skin-level and not enough emphasis on mental feelings.

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“too focussed on the feelings at the skin-level and not enough emphasis on mental feelings.”

Clearly it depends on the stage of practice as the second foundation focuses on this discrimination. In the early stages it is necessary to abandon the verbal level and focus on the more immediate sense-contact which is determined through feeling (SN 36.10). This applies particularly to western practioners because of the strong cultural emphasis and distraction of the verbal level there.

“Thus, perceptual data of the five external senses, in all their permutations and combinations, finally come to be assigned names and pigeon-holed as ‘things.’ This convenient but superficial indentation beclouds the mind and prevents the immediate understanding of sense-contact (phassa). Its mode of apperception, therefore, is largely a process of ‘imagining’ and ‘figuring-out’ of objects located in the darkness of ignorance, and in its blind groping, the phenomenon of sense-contact as such, hardly receives any serious attention.”—-Nanananda, note to SN 1.61

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regards and veneration at the feet of the sangha, ven. bhante

i am very thankful & grateful for your reply.

i am continuing to ponder over the vipassana kammatthana in the sayagyi u ba khin/Goenkaji tradition from the canonical perspective. i may write after exploring this issue a bit more deeply.

meanwhile, i am considering the Paṭhamagelaññasutta as the direct & unambiguous confirmation from bhagava Himself that vipassana of tisso vedana at the level of kayasamphassaja vedana (kāyaṃ paṭicca) covers all the 4 satipatthanas (because the sati is samma sati) and this vipassana on kayasamphassaja vedana is the road to the coolness of nibbana (sītībhavissantī).

i pray to you, venerable to kindly consider replying to the following queries:

a) is my understanding correct that Paṭhamagelaññasutta talks exclusively about kayasamphassaja vedana because the bhagava clearly defines vedana as kāyaṃ paṭicca (in this particular sutta)?

b) am i right in my understanding that the bhavana of nama-rupa done in any way as per any chapter or section of the mahasatipatthana sutta is complete bhavana of cattaro satipatthana because samma sati itself covers all the 4 satipatthana (i.e. the entire field of nama-rupa) and that each chapter or section of the mahasatipatthana sutta is complete in itself which is proven by the same line at the end of each section/chapter (which is the state of anatta followed by nibbanic dip):
Yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati?

c) is my understanding correct that kāyaṃ paṭicca vedana can only mean kayasamphassaja vedana because cakkhusamphassaja vedana or manosamphassaja vedana, for example, will be cakkhu paticca / hadayavatthu paticca?
and…venerable, is it this covered under nissaya paccayo & purejata paccayo of the patthanas?
what is the difference between paticca & nissaya in this context?

d) am i right if i am considering the Paṭhamagelaññasutta as the direct & unambiguous confirmation from bhagava Himself that vipassana of tisso vedana at the level of kayasamphassaja vedana (kāyaṃ paṭicca) covers all the 4 satipatthanas (because the sati is samma sati) and this vipassana on kayasamphassaja vedana is the road to the coolness of nibbana (sītībhavissantī)?

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venerable,
may i have the permission to request you to translate three short pali paragraphs - two of which are already quoted in my question (& which may help to further confirm that sayagyi u ba khin method of vipassana is paripunno and parisuddho bhavana of cattaro satipatthana)?
i may re-send just the relevant portions again if you may kindly permit me to do so.

your compassionate help may be for the benefit of many because it may help in eradicating the vicikiccha of many, ven. bhante.

with veneration, much metta and gratitude at the feet of the sangha,

manish

(PS: re: formatting - i will be careful in future. i seek forgiveness)

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