MN 10 The Resting Places of Awareness

MN 10 The Resting Places of Awareness

Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta #

 

 

[This sutta is an elaboration on the topic of wise awareness (Sammā-Sati). A fair advice should be said that there are a lot of misunderstandings about this sutta. This discourse should not be regarded as direct meditation instructions, but rather, how to ‘live’ (Viharati) with wise awareness and how to look at reality and relate to it in a wise manner, in all situations. Ending with an elaboration of the eight-spoked path being part of the conditioned process of life. 

 

            This sutta’s particular strength relies mostly on its exposition of the Buddha’s wise outlook on reality. For a better understanding of how to practice meditation and how the four resting places of awareness relate to meditation practice, one should refer to the Ānāpānasati Sutta (MN 118) which serves as an essential introduction to this sutta.]

 

 

Thus I have heard,

 

On one occasion, the Awakened One was dwelling in the Kuru region,

in a town of the Kurus named Kammāsadhamma. 

 

There he addressed the monks saying:

‘Monks!’

‘Bhadante!’ The monks replied.

 

The Awakened One said this:

 

“This is the one-way path, [1] monks,

For the inner cleansing of beings,

For the soothing of sorrow and sadness,

For the fading away of hurt and anxiety,

For the arising of true understanding,

For the realization of Nibbāna, that is:

 

The four resting places of awareness.”[2]

 

What four?

 

Here, one meditates;

 

(1) Resting one’s awareness on the body,

Knowing it as body.[3]

Intent, fully conscious and present[4]

Letting go of tensions and distractions.[5]

 

(2) Resting one’s awareness on sensations,

Knowing them as sensations. 

Intent, fully conscious and present,

Letting go of tensions and distractions.

 

(3) Resting one’s awareness on mind, 

Knowing it as mind.

Intent, fully conscious and present,

Letting go of tensions and distractions.

 

(4) Resting one’s awareness on mental states, 

Knowing them as mental states. 

Intent, fully conscious and present,

Letting go of tensions and distractions.[6]

 

[1. Awareness of Body] #

 

[1. Cultivating Awareness with each Breath] #

 

How does one meditate,

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body?

 

Here one goes to a secluded place, 

at the root of a tree

an empty cabin, 

 

Sits down with legs folded

With one’s body upright

And calms one’s awareness about oneself.[7]

 

Present, on the inhale, present on the exhale.

 

(1) One knows a long as long breath.

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

(2) One knows a short breath as short breath.

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

(3) He trains: “To experience the entire body”

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

(4) One trains: To Calm the tension in the body”

Breathing in and breathing out.[8]

 

[Analogy of the Wood Turner]

 

Just as a skilled wood turner;

(1) Carving a long taper on his lathe knows:

He is carving a long taper.

(2) Carving a short taper on his lathe knows:

He is carving a short taper.[9]

 

 

In the same way monks:

 

(1) One knows a long as long breath.

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

(2) One knows a short breath as short breath.

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

(3) He trains: “To experience the entire body”

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

(4) One trains: To Calm the tension in the body”

Breathing in and breathing out.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’[10]

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.[11]

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.[12]

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent, [13]

Not latching on to anything.[14]

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[2. Daily Activities]

 

Again monks,

When walking, 

one knows to be walking[15]

When standing, 

one knows to be standing,

When sitting, 

one knows to be sitting,

When laying down, 

one knows to be laying down,

And however one directs one’s body, 

one knows it to be just that.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[3. Full Consciousness] #

 

Again monks,

One is fully conscious,

While going forward and coming back;

One is fully conscious,

Looking ahead and looking down;

One is fully conscious,

Moving and extending [one’s body];

One is fully conscious,

Wearing the saṅghāṭi,[16] 

Carrying one’s bowl and robes;

One is fully conscious,

While eating, drinking,

Chewing and swallowing;

One is fully conscious,

While evacuating and urinating;

One is fully conscious,

While walking, standing, sitting,

Sleeping and waking up,

Talking and keeping silent.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[4. Unattractiveness] #

 

Or else monks,

One remembers the body,

From the sole of one’s feet up,

From the tip of one’s hair down,

As a bag of skin made up of many distasteful things.

 

There is in this body:

Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin

Flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow,

Kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs,

Insides of the bowels, contents of the stomach, excreta,

Bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat,

Tears, grease, saliva, mucus, synovial fluid and urine.

 

 

Just as if there was a bag, 

Open on both ends 

Which was filled with all kinds of grains like: 

White rice, brown rice, 

peas, beans, sesame and savage rice. 

 

Then a person would open the bag and see:

Here is white rice, brown rice, 

peas, beans, sesame and savage rice. 

 

In the same way, 

From the sole of one’s feet up

From the tip of one’s hair down

As a bag of skin made up of many distasteful things.

 

There is in this body:

Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin

Flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow,

Kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs,

Insides of the bowels, contents of the stomach, excreta,

Bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat,

Tears, grease, saliva, mucus, synovial fluid and urine.

 

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[5. Elements] #

 

Or else one reflects about this very body 

here-standing, here-put into motion:

 

‘There is in this body: 

The earth element,

The water element, 

The fire element 

And the air element.’

 

Just as if a skilled butcher,

Having put down a beef, 

Would divide it in its different parts.

 

In the same way, 

One reflects about this very body,

Here-standing,

Here put into motion:

 

‘There is in this body: 

The earth element,

The water element, 

The fire element 

And the air element.’

 

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[6. Nine Cemetery Recollections] #

 

[1. One or two Days]

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a person were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery,

Which had been dead for one, two or three days,

Swollen, bluish, oozing matter.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[2. Devoured]

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

Devoured by crows and 

Devoured by eagles

Devoured by vultures 

Devoured by cranes

Devoured by jackals

Devoured by tigers

Devoured by leopards

Devoured by lions

Devoured by all kinds of insects

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[3. With Flesh and Blood]

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

A skeleton with flesh and blood,

Held together by ligaments

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[4. Without Flesh and with Blood]

 

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

A skeleton without flesh but full of blood,

Held together by ligaments.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[5. Without Flesh and Blood]

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

A skeleton with its flesh and blood all gone,

Held together by ligaments.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[6. Scattered Bones]

 

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

Bones disconnected, scattered all over:

there, a hand bone

there, a foot bone

there, a shin bone

there, a leg bone

there, a thigh bone,

there, a hip bone,

there, a rib bone

there, a vertebra

there, a shoulder blade

There, a neck bone

There, a jaw bone

There, a tooth

There, a skull.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[7. White Bones]

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

Bones having bleached white like shells.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[8. Heap of Bones]

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

Bones heaped of three years.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

[9. Bone Dust]

 

On another occasion,

One remembers one’s own body,

Just as if a monk were to look upon

a discarded corpse in an open cemetery

Bones putrid, breaking down into dust.

 

One understands this body:

Alas, this body is of the same nature, 

Before long, it will become the same.

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own body, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of a body outside, one knows it to be simply ‘body,’

Aware of one’s own body or a body outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘body.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the body,

Aware of the passing nature of the body,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the body.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is body”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the body

Knowing it as body.

 

 

[2. Awareness of Sensations] #

 

How does one meditate, 

Resting one’s awareness on the sensations

Knowing them as sensations?

 

Here, 

Experiencing a pleasant sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing a pleasant sensation.’

 

Experiencing an unpleasant sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing an unpleasant sensation.’

 

Experiencing a neutral sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing a neutral sensation.’

 

Experiencing a pleasant physical sensation, one knows:[17]

‘I am experiencing a pleasant physical sensation.’

 

Experiencing a pleasant mental sensation, one knows:[18]

‘I am experiencing a pleasant mental sensation.’

 

Experiencing an unpleasant physical sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing an unpleasant physical sensation.’

 

Experiencing an unpleasant mental sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing an unpleasant mental sensation.’

 

Experiencing a neutral physical sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing a neutral physical sensation.’

 

Experiencing a neutral mental sensation, one knows:

‘I am experiencing a neutral mental sensation.’

 

[Oneself & Others]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own sensations, 

one knows them to be simply ‘sensations,’

Aware of sensations outside,

one knows them to be simply ‘sensations,’

Aware of one’s own sensations or sensations outside, 

one knows them all to be just ‘sensations.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the sensations,

Aware of the passing nature of the sensations,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the sensations.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There are sensations”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on sensations

Knowing them as sensations.

 

[3. Awareness of Mind] #

 

How does one meditate, 

Resting one’s awareness on mind,

Knowing it as mind.

 

Here,

One understands when mind is desiring: 

Mind is desiring. 

When mind is free of desire,[19] one understands: 

Mind is free desire.

 

When mind is angry, one understands: 

Mind is angry.

When mind is free from anger,[20] one understands: 

Mind is free of anger.

 

When mind is deluded, one understands: 

Mind is deluded.

When mind is undeluded,[21] one understands: 

Mind is undeluded.

 

When mind is constricted, on understands: 

Mind is constricted.

When mind is scattered,[22] one understands: 

Mind is scattered.”

 

When mind is expansive, on understands: 

Mind is expansive.’

When mind is unexpansive,[23] one understands: 

Mind is unexpansive.

 

When mind has more to do, one understands: 

Mind has more to do.

When mind has no more to do, [24] one understands: 

Mind has no more to do.

 

When the mind is collected, one understands: 

Mind is collected.

When mind is agitated,[25] one understands: 

Mind is agitated.’

 

When mind is Liberated, one understands: 

‘Mind is liberated.’

When the mind is not liberated,[26] one understands: 

‘Mind is not liberated.’

 

[Inside & Outside]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own mind, 

one knows it to be simply ‘mind,’

Aware of a mind outside, 

one knows it to be simply ‘mind,’

Aware of one’s own body or a mind outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘mind.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the mind,

Aware of the passing nature of the mind,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the mind.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There is mind”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on the mind

Knowing it as mind.

.

 

[4. Awareness of Mental States] #

 

[1. Hindrances as Hindrances] #

 

How does one meditate, 

Resting one’s awareness on mental states,

Knowing them as mental states?

 

Here,

One rests one’s awareness on mental states,

Knowing them as only mental states,

Regarding the five hindrances.

 

How?

 

[1. Outward Longing]

 

  1. When there is outward longing within, one understands:[27]

‘There is outward longing within me.’

When there is no outward longing within, one understands:

‘There is no outward longing within me’

 

  1. One understands how new outward longing arises.[28]
  2. One understands how old outward longing is released,[29]
  3. And one understands how outward longing does not arise.[30]

 

[2. Impatience]

 

  1. When there is dislike within, one understands:[31]

‘There is dislike within me.’

When there is no dislike within one, one understands:

‘There is no dislike within me’

 

  1. One understands how inexistent dislike arises.
  2. One understands how existent dislike is released,
  3. And one understands how dislike does not come up.

 

[3. Laziness and Dullness]

 

  1. When there is lazy dullness within, one understands:[32]

There is lazy dullness within me.’

When there is no lazy dullness within one, one understands:

‘There is no lazy dullness within me;’

 

  1. One understands how new lazy dullness arises;
  2. One understands how old lazy dullness is released;
  3. And one understands how lazy dullness does not arise.

 

[4. Worry and Agitation]

 

  1. When there is agitation within, one understands:[33]

There is agitation within me.’

When there is no agitation within one, one understands:

‘There is no agitation within me’

 

  1. One understands how inexistent agitation arises.
  2. One understands how existent agitation is released,
  3. And one understands how agitation does not come up.

 

[5. Doubt]

 

  1. When there is doubt within, one understands:[34]

There is doubt within me.’

When there is no doubt within one, one understands:

‘There is no doubt within me’[35]

 

  1. One understands how inexistent doubt arises;[36]
  2. One understands how existent doubt is released;[37]
  3. And one understands how doubt does not come up.[38]

 

[Oneself & Others]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own mental states, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states;’

Aware of mental states outside, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states;’

Aware of one’s own mental states or mental states outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘mental states.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the mental states,

Aware of the passing nature of the mental states,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the mental states.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There are mental states”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on mental states

Knowing them as mental states.

 

[2. Fabrics of Self] #

 

On another occasion,

One rests one’s awareness on mental states,

Knowing them as only mental states 

In connection with the Five Fabrics of the Self.[39]

 

How?

 

Here a monk knows:

[1. Shapes]

These are shapes, [40]

These are shapes manifesting,[41]

These are shapes fading away;[42]

 

[2. Sensations]

These are sensations,

These are sensations manifesting,

These are sensations fading away;

 

[3. Conceptions]

These are concepts, [43]

These are concepts manifesting,

These are concepts fading away.

 

[4. Thoughts]

These are thoughts,

These are thoughts manifesting,

These are thoughts passing away;

 

[5. Cognitions]

This cognition,[44]

This is cognition manifesting,

This is cognition fading away.

 

 

[Oneself & Others]

 

Thus one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own mental states, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of mental states outside, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of one’s own mental states or mental states outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘mental states.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the mental states,

Aware of the passing nature of the mental states,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the mental states.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There are mental states”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on mental states

Knowing them as mental states.

 

[3. Six Senses] #

 

On another occasion,

One rests one’s awareness on mental states,

Knowing them as only mental states 

In connection with the six inner senses and their objects.[45]

 

How?

 

[1. The Eye]

Here,

One knows the eye,

One knows shapes,

One knows the arising of tension because of these two, [46]

One knows inexistent tension when it arises,[47]

One knows the release from arisen tension,[48]

One knows the maintaining of released tension.[49]

 

[2. The Ear]

One knows the ear,

One knows sounds,

One knows the arising of tension because of these two, 

One knows inexistent tension when it arises,

One knows the release from arisen tension,

One knows the maintaining of released tension.

 

[3. The Nose]

One knows the nose,

One knows sounds,

One knows the arising of tension because of these two, 

One knows inexistent tension when it arises,

One knows the release from arisen tension,

One knows the maintaining of released tension.

 

[4. The Tongue]

One knows the tongue,

One knows flavors,

One knows the arising of tension because of these two, 

One knows inexistent tension when it arises,

One knows the release from arisen tension,

One knows the maintaining of released tension.

 

[5. The Body]

One knows the body,

One knows tangibles,

One knows the arising of tension because of these two, 

One knows inexistent tension when it arises,

One knows the release from arisen tension,

One knows the maintaining of released tension.

 

[6. The Mind]

One knows the mind,

One knows mental states,

One knows the arising of tension because of these two, 

One knows inexistent tension when it arises,

One knows the release from arisen tension,

One knows the maintaining of released tension.

 

[Oneself & Others]

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own mental states, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of mental states outside,

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of one’s own mental states or mental states outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘mental states.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the mental states,

Aware of the passing nature of the mental states,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the mental states.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There are mental states”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on mental states

Knowing them as mental states.

 


 

 

[4. Supports of Awakening] #

 

On another occasion,

One rests one’s awareness on mental states,

Knowing them as only mental states 

In connection with the seven supports of awakening.

 

How?

 

[1. Awareness]

 

Here, 

When the support of awakening of awareness is present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of awareness 

Is present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of awareness is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of awareness 

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands when awareness arises.[50]

Ones understands the perfecting of awareness by development.[51]

 

[2. Discernment]

 

When the support of awakening of discernment is present, 

one understands: 

‘The support of awakening of discernment

Is not present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of discernment is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of discernment

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands discernment when it arises.

Ones understands the perfecting of discernment by development.

 

[3. Liveliness]

 

Here, when there is the support of awakening of liveliness,[52] 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of liveliness 

Is present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of liveliness is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of liveliness

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands liveliness when it arises.

Ones understands the perfecting of liveliness by development.

 

[4. Joy]

 

When the support of awakening of joy is present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of joy 

Is present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of joy is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of joy 

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands joy when it arises.[53]

Ones understands the perfecting of joy by development.

 

[5. Calm]

 

When the support of awakening of calm is present,[54] 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of calm 

Is present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of calm is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of calm 

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands calm when it arises.

Ones understands the perfecting of calm by development.

 

[6. Mental Collectedness]

 

When the support of awakening of collectedness is present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of mental collectedness

Is present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of collectedness is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of mental collectedness 

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands mental collectedness when it arises.

Ones understands the perfecting of mental collectedness by development.

 

[7. Steadiness on Mind]

 

When the support of awakening of steadiness is present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of mental steadiness 

Is present within me.’

 

When the support of awakening of steadiness is not present, 

one understands: 

 

‘The support of awakening of mental steadiness 

Is not present within me.’

 

One understands mental steadiness when it arises.

Ones understands the perfecting of steadiness by development.

 

[Oneself & Others]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own mental states, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of mental states outside, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of one’s own mental states or mental states outside, 

one knows it all to be just ‘mental states.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the mental states,

Aware of the passing nature of the mental states,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the mental states.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There are mental states”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on mental states

Knowing them as only mental states.

 

[5. Awakened Understandings] #

 

On another occasion,

One rests one’s awareness on mental states,

Knowing them as only mental states 

In connection with The Four Awakened Understandings.

 

How?

 

Here one understands as it is:

What is tension,

What is its increase,

What is its release,

What is the practice that culminates in its release.

 

[Oneself & Others]

 

Thus, one meditates, 

Aware of one’s own mental states, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of mental states outside, 

one knows them to be simply ‘mental states,’

Aware of one’s own mental states or mental states outside, one knows it all to be just ‘mental states.’

 

[Changing]

 

Aware of the arising nature of the mental states,

Aware of the passing nature of the mental states,

Aware of the arising and passing nature of the mental states.

 

[As it is]

 

And by simply knowing: “There are mental states”

Awareness progressively settles.

 

In this way, one meditates, 

Knowing for oneself,

Present to oneself, 

Independent,

Not latching on to anything.

 

This is how one meditates, 

Resting one’s awareness on mental states

Knowing them as mental states.

 

[Conclusion] #

 

Monks, 

Should these four resting places of awareness 

Be developed for seven years,

 

Either of these two results can be expected:

Full Understanding here and now;

Or if there are some remnants of attachments: 

Non-return. [55]

 

It may be so monks, in seven years.[56]

 

Monks,

Should these four resting places of awareness be developed for six years…

 

Five years…

Four years…

Three years…

Two years…

One year…

 

It may be so monks, in one year.

 

Monks,

Should these four resting places of awareness be developed for seven months…

 

Either of these two results can be expected:

Full knowledge here and now;

Or if there are some remnants of holding;

Non-return.

 

It may be so monks, in seven months.

 

Monks,

Should these four resting places of awareness be developed for seven months…

Five months…

Four months…

Three months…

Two months…

One month…

Half a month…

 

It may be so monks, in half a month.

 

Monks,

Should these four resting places of awareness be developed for seven months,

 

Either of these two results can be expected:

Full knowledge here and now;

Or if there are some remnants of attachment; 

Non-return.

 

 

This is the one-way path, monks,[57]

For the inner cleansing of beings,

For the soothing of sorrow and sadness,

For the fading away of hurt and anxiety,

For the arising of true understanding,

For the realization of Nibbāna, that is:

 

The four resting places of awareness.

 

This was my statement, and this is the reason for my speech.[58]

 

So said the Awakened One.

Glad at heart, the monks rejoiced in his words.


[1] Ekāyano maggo: The Buddha is here very skillfully using Vedic vocabulary and concepts, which was predominant at that time, to explain his teaching. “Ekāyana: In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, “ekayāna” is used as a metaphor for the spiritual journey. ‘Vedānāṃ vāk ekayānam;’ ‘the one destination of the Vedas is the spirit of the word”. 

[2] “Ekāyano ayaṃ, bhikkhave, maggo, sattānaṃ visuddhiyā, sokaparidevānaṃ samatikkamāya dukkhadomanassānaṃ atthaṅgamāya ñāyassa adhigamāya nibbānassa sacchikiriyāya, yadidaṃ cattāro satipaṭṭhānā.

[3] Kāye kāyānupassī viharati: Aware of body as body – Anupassanā, (f.) (abstr. of anupassati, cf. Sk. anudarśana) looking at, viewing, contemplating, consideration, realization

[4] Ātāpī sampajāno satimā

[5] Vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ: Not holding on or pushing away anything in the world, without judgements or opinions, without holding on or repressing anything, without opinions and concepts. Wise Practice (Sammā Vāyamo) is part of Wise Awareness. Because without the right kind of effort, which here is to let go, detach and calm down, Wise awareness cannot be. Wise Awareness is the product of Wise Practice. It is the extension of Wise Practice.

[6] These four resting places are often interpreted as ‘objects of meditation,’ where one should ‘direct’ or ‘incline’ the mind to ’press against’ these objects. This wrongly acquired idea creates a lot of problems. The reason why the Buddha praised these four resting places of awareness was because of their natural occurrence. There is no need to direct or incline the mind to any of those, in fact, they simply are, naturally. The very reason why these are special is because they are the natural resting places of awareness. They arise, naturally, when we stop trying to control our minds and we let go of the desire to control everything in our experience, i.e. Liberation. This is why it is also said “not holding on or pushing away anything in the world.” These four resting places become incrementally clearer as we let go of tension and distractions and uplift the mind with joy, as it is clearly explained in the MN 118 the Ānāpānāssati Sutta, cultivating awareness with each breath. To understand how the Buddha taught meditation, one might wish to move away from the term ‘object of meditation’ and perhaps replace it by ‘development (of wholesome mental states)’ which is very different. The four resting places of awareness are not objects of meditation, they are…well… the natural resting places of our awareness. This is what arises when one lets go of all ‘objects.’ Just as in the desert where everything has been stripped away. What remains are the bare dunes, the sand, the sky and the clouds in the sky. Wherever the mind lays its attention, it encounters either one of these four things. Similarly, a meditator’s mind, once it is stripped from the hindrances encounters either one of four things, body, sensations, mind and mental states.

[7] Parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā.

[8] This is but a brief, incomplete version of the Buddha’s meditation instructions on cultivating awareness, using the breath as a reminder. For the complete sequence, refer to MN 118 Ānāpānassati Sutta – The Breath as a Reminder.

[9] This is natural, nothing is forced here. This is all happening naturally, someone is simply ‘aware.’ The wood turner is not ‘trying’ to know what kind of taper he is turning, he simply knows, that is why he is skilled.

[10] Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati. This may be confusing to some people. What the Buddha is saying here is that all bodies, whether one’s own or other’s, whether far or near, whether long or short, personal or external, all bodies should be seen as what they truly are with accurate discernment as: ‘This is just body.’ Not judging, not sticking any concept to it, simply ‘body’.

[11] Samudayadhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati, vayadhammānupassī… To be able to know arising and passing away, one must take a step back, and not become involved; to not become involved, one must let go; to let go, one must relax as it was mentioned in the meditation instructions. By calming down, awareness arises. With awareness, one sees the changing nature of body and mind.

[12] ‘Atthi kāyo’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti

[13] Nissita (adj.) [Sk. niśrita, pp. of nissayati] hanging on, dependent on, inhabiting; attached to, supported by, living by means of, relying on, being founded or rooted in, bent on — anissita: unsupported, not attached, free, emancipated… Independent.

[14] yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati. This is not an object of meditation, it is what we are aware of when we let go of all objects of meditation.

[15] bhikkhu gacchanto vā ‘gacchāmī’ti pajānāti,

[16] The outer robe of a monk.

[17] Sāmisaṃ  vā sukhaṃ vedanaṃ vedayamāno

[18] Nirāmisaṃ

[19] Sarāgaṃ – Vītarāgaṃ

[20] Sadosaṃ – Vītadosaṃ

[21] Samohaṃ – Vītamohaṃ

[22] Saṅkhittaṃ: Constricted. Vikkhittaṃ: Doubt, confusion, restlessness. These are the five hindrances.

[23] Mahaggataṃ – Amahaggataṃ

[24] Sauttaraṃ – Anuttaraṃ

[25] Samāhitaṃ – Asamāhitaṃ

[26] Vimuttaṃ – Avimuttaṃ

[27] santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ kāmacchandaṃ

[28] yathā ca anuppannassa kāmacchandassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti,

[29] yathā ca uppannassa kāmacchandassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti,

[30] yathā ca pahīnassa kāmacchandassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti.

[31] Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ byāpādaṃ: Byāpādaṃ: Dislike, very often manifests as what is commonly called impatience.

[32] Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ thinamiddhaṃ

[33] Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ uddhaccakukkuccaṃ

[34] Santaṃ vā ajjhattaṃ vicikicchaṃ

[35] The Buddha here brilliantly explains how to use, in very practical terms, the Four Awakened Understandings (Four Noble Truths). Starting with the first understanding: ‘Knowing when a distraction arises.’

[36] Second understanding: ‘Knowing its cause.’

[37] Third understanding: ‘Knowing the release of tension’

[38] Fourth understanding: ‘Knowing the path to release the tension.’ By continually practicing the eight-spoked path, distractions slowly stop coming up.

[39] Constituents, fabrics, materials, building blocks of the ego.

[40] ‘iti rūpaṃ: Images, Form, shape, matter, materiality, physical reality.

[41] iti rūpassa samudayo: Incoming, coming up, manifesting, arising, increase

[42] iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo: Fading, calming

[43] saññā

[44] viññāṇaṃ

[45] chasu ajjhattikabāhiresu āyatanesu

[46] yañca tadubhayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati saṃyojanaṃ tañca pajānāti. First Awakened Understaning.

[47] yathā ca anuppannassa saṃyojanassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti. Second Awakened Understanding.

[48] yathā ca uppannassa saṃyojanassa pahānaṃ hoti tañca pajānāti. Third Awakened Understanding.

[49] yathā ca pahīnassa saṃyojanassa āyatiṃ anuppādo hoti tañca pajānāti. Fourth Awakened Understanding. These are also the Four Wise Undertakings.

[50] anuppannassa satisambojjhaṅgassa uppādo hoti tañca pajānāti,

[51] yathā ca uppannassa satisambojjhaṅgassa bhāvanāya pāripūrī hoti tañca pajānāti. (1)

[52] Dedication, devotion, initiative, liveliness, vivacity, endurance, vitality, application, determination

[53] Not all kinds of joy, this is the Support for Awakening of Joy. Not worldly joy, the joy of mental development.

[54] Passivity,

[55] Yo hi koci, bhikkhave, ime cattāro satipaṭṭhāne evaṃ bhāveyya sattavassāni, tassa dvinnaṃ phalānaṃ aññataraṃ phalaṃ pāṭikaṅkhaṃ diṭṭheva dhamme aññā; sati vā upādisese anāgāmitā.

[56] Tiṭṭhantu, bhikkhave, sattavassāni.

[57] Ekayano maggo: A one-way path because when a wise meditator continuously lets go of tension and distractions, one purifies these four resting places of awareness, inevitably sinking down the inner path of wise understanding, mental clarity and liberation. Practicing in this way, there are no other options but to realize the final goal, Unbinding, Nibbāna.

[58] Iti yaṃ taṃ vuttaṃ, idametaṃ paṭicca vuttan”ti.