The words of Ananda Mahathera who was the Buddha's attendant monk. He
recited the texts of the Dhamma, as he had heard them from the Buddha,
at the First Council of monks (approx. 544 b.c.e.).
This is a polite form of address which was used when monks spoke to
the Buddha. It means ''Blessed One".
The Kuru country was located in North West India near New Delhi.
A bhikkhu is a Buddhist monk who has received full ordination.
"Bhadante" is a polite answer to an elder or superior. Its
approximate meaning would be "Yes, Venerable Sir".
The one and the only way: ekayano, this means that this is: the only
way which surely leads to the benefits listed, there is no other way,
and this way leads to nowhere else. This statement does not need to
be believed in blindly, but as a meditator practises he can verify it
by his own experience.
Cessation (atthanamaya) is generally translated as "destruction"
which might wrongly imply an active attack on the physical and mental
pain. However, the physical and mental pain cease due to lack of craving,
just as a fire is extinguished due to lack of fuel.
Physical and mental pain (dukkha-domanassa) is a compound word which
denotes the whole spectrum of physical and mental pain. Here, dukkha
(du = bad, painful, + kha = empty, space) refers to all types of physical
pain, and domanassa (du = bad, painful + mana = mind) refers to all
types of mental pain including frustration, grief, fear and various
types of phobias and neuroses.
Here naya means the four Noble Paths (ariya magga). The Noble Path is
the name for the consciousness that has Nibbana for its object. The
Four Noble Paths are the path of a Stream Enterer (sotapatti magga),
the path of the Once-returner (sakadagami magga), the path of a Non-returner
(anagami magga), and the path of an Arahat (arahatta magga).
Nibbana (Skt. Nirvana), is a reality experienced by a mind totally free
from greed, hatred, and delusion.
Satipatthana (Sati = mindfulness, awareness of what is occuring + patthana
= that which plunges into and penetrates continuously, again and again)
is the type of mindfulness that penetrates repeatedly into the body,
feelings, mind, and dhammas, and sees the actual reality that is occurring.
This is in contrast to the normal unmindful state in which the mind
bounces or skips over these phenomena. "The four satipatthanas"
might therefore be translated as the "four steadfast mindfulnesses".
The Four satipatthanas in Pali are kayanupassana, vedananupassana, cittanupassana
Kaya is the aggregate of physical phenomena. Here it refers to the corporeal
The phrases, "body as just the body", "feelings as just
feelings", show that the body, feelings, mind, and dhammas are
not to be seen as mine, I or self. This is the natural knowledge that
arises from observing the body, feelings, mind and dhammas with steadfast
mindfulness. It is not a belief. Normally this knowledge is absent due
to lack of steadfast mindfulness.
Diligence (atapi) means bringing the mind back to the object of meditation
again and again no matter how many times it slips away.
Clear understanding (see Note 39)
World (loka) refers to anything that arises and passes away, i.e. the
five aggregates of clinging.
Feelings (vedana) (see Note 45)
Mind (citta) is that which knows, is aware, or is conscious (see Cittanupassana
The word dhamma has a number of meanings according to the context in
which it is used. It can mean: natural phenomena, mental objects, a
state, truth, reality, wisdom, actions, good actions, practice, cause
and offence. Also, in English usage Dhamma (there are no capital letters
in the Pali language) can mean the Teachings of the Buddha or the texts
which contains those teachings.
The main point here is that the place for meditation should be as quiet
and free from people and distractions as possible.
If sitting cross-legged is too painful the meditator will not be able
to sit for very long. The main point is to sit in a comfortable and
alert way. Therefore, a chair may be used. Mindfulness of breathing
can also be developed while standing, walking or lying down.
The mindfulness should be directed to the place at which the breath
makes contact with the upper lip or the tip of the nose depending on
where it is felt in each individual.
The whole breath body (sabbakaya) means the whole breath from the beginning
to the end.
As the mind calms down the breath will also calm down without exerting
any conscious control over it.
It is not necessary to repeat all the above phrases in the mind, but
the essential point is to be aware of the actual phenomena. These phrases
are all examples to show that the meditator has to be aware of the breath
in whichever condition it is in and does not need to control the breath
in any way.
Here "body" means the process of breathing.
The meditator knows by inference that in others, just as in himself,
there is no I or self that breathes but just breathing exists. This
cuts out delusion concerning external phenomena.
This cannot be done at the same time but is done alternately.
The causes of the appearing and the dissolution of the breath are the
existence or the non-existence of the body, the nasal apertures, and
the mind. The actual appearing and the actual dissolution refer to the
actual phenomena of the breath arising and passing away. The main point
here is to be aware of the actual appearing and the actual dissolution
of the breath so as to perceive its impermanent, unsatisfactory and
Wrong view refers to thinking that there is a permanent self or I who
is breathing. If the meditator sees the breath as impermanent, unsatisfactory,
and not self then there will be no craving or wrong view at that time.
See Note 17.
While walking (gacchanto) lit. means while going.
I am walking: Here as elsewhere in this discourse the use of the term
"I" is only a grammatical usage and does not mean that an
"I" really exists. In Pali language it is impossible to construct
a verb without an ending showing a subject, for example,
situation occurs in English where sometimes we have to make up a subject
to make a sentence i.e. "It's raining". Clearly the "It"
does not exist and there is only raining. Similarly there is only walking
and no "I" who is walking.
When the meditator is aware of the actual motion of the legs and body,
that is the sensation of touch and motion, he can be said to "know",
"I am walking". In all the postures he should be aware of
what is actually happening in a similar way.
The meditator should even be aware of movements of the body within a
posture, e.g. while sitting he moves an arm or while lying down he rolls
Body here means the positions, postures, and movements of the body.
The causes of the appearing and the dissolution of the body here and
in subsequent sections are the existence or non-existence of ignorance
of the Four Noble Truths, craving, kamma, and nutriment.
Clear understanding (sampajanna) is of four types: satthaka-sampajanna,
sappaya-sampajanna, gocara-sampajanna and asammoha-sampajanna.
a meditator does any action he should first consider whether that action
is or is not a beneficial action. This prior consideration is called
it is a beneficial action then the meditator should next consider whether
it is suitable or proper. This is called sappaya-sampajanna. For example,
if the meditator wishes to go to a pagoda to meditate this is a beneficial
action. However, if at the time he wishes to go to the pagoda there
is a large crowd gathered for a pagoda festival and there would be many
disturbances because of that, then it would not be suitable.
understanding of the proper field for the mind is gocara-sampajanna.
If the meditator is practising the four satipatthanas this is the proper
field for the mind. If he is thinking about or indulging in sense pleasures
this is not the proper field for the mind.
understanding that sees that all conditioned phenomena are impermanent
and unsatisfactory and that sees all phenomena (including Nibbana) are
not-self is asammoha-sampajanna.
This meditation can be practised in either of two ways. The first way
is to see each part as repulsive and the second way is to see that as
parts or collectively the body is not-self.
develop the perception of not-self the meditator should reflect on each
part and see that they are devoid of consciousness e.g. the hair on
the head does not know it has hair growing on it; what is it that thinks
"This is my hair"? By meditating in this way the meditator
will clearly see the difference between the mind and the body. Also
he will see for himself that it is deluded to view the body as me, as
mine or as self.
Only primary elements (dhatu) and no being or soul.
The primary elements (dhatu) are the natural qualities of matter. The
earth element (pathavi-dhatu) is the quality of hardness and softness
or the degree of solidity. The water element (apo-dhatu) is the quality
of fluidity and cohesion. The fire element (tejo-dhatu) is the quality
of heat and cold. The air element (vayo-dhatu) is the quality of motion,
vibration and support.
four primary elements are present in any given substance but one is
more prominent. The quality of hardness and softness is called earth
element because that is the prominent quality of earth, but, earth also
has the qualities of cohesion, heat and motion. The parts from the hair
of the head up to the brain, in the Patikulamanasika Pabba, are examples
of bodily parts in which the earth element is prominent. The parts from
bile up to urine are examples in which the water element is prominent.
Heat and cold in the body are examples of the fire element. The breath
is an example of the wind element.
In this simile the four high roads represent the four postures. The
butcher or his apprentice represents a meditator who sees the body as
only elements, just as the cow having been divided is no longer seen
as a cow but is seen only as meat.
The meditations based on corpses are best done while or after actually
seeing a corpse. By seeing the reality that the body will one day be
a corpse too, the mind becomes free from attachment to the body.
Vedana (feelings) is not used here in the sense of "emotions",
but refers only to the pleasant, the unpleasant, and the neither pleasant
nor unpleasant feelings that arise, only one at a time, with every consciousness,
(i.e eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-
, and mind-consciousness). It is important to see these feelings
clearly as they are the cause of craving. Also, if the meditator does
not see these clearly then he may think that there is a being experiencing
E.g., bodily comfort and mental happiness.
E.g., bodily pain and mental pain.
Neither pleasant nor unpleasant feeling is the hardest to perceive as
its characteristic is the absence of pleasure and pain. E.g., the neutral
feeling that is normally present on the surface of the eye and the feeling
in the mind when it is neither happy nor unhappy.
E.g., the normal type of pleasure and happiness based on sense pleasures.
E.g., the happiness experienced while seeing the true nature of body
E.g., the unpleasant feeling experienced when one does not obtain the
sense pleasures one wants to obtain.
E.g., the unhappiness experienced by a meditator reflecting on his lack
of progress towards realizing Nibbana.
E.g., the neutral feeling experienced when the mind is calm and detached
from sense pleasures.
The causes of the appearing and the dissolution of feelings are the
existence or non-existence of contact (phassa), ignorance of the Four
Noble Truths, craving and kamma.
Greed (raga) does not just mean strong passion but refers to the whole
range of lust, craving, and attachment to sense pleasures from the weakest
sensual desire to the strongest lust. It can produce only unwholesome
The mind without greed is the wholesome opposite of greed and is the
cause of renunciation, generosity, charity, and giving.
Anger (dosa) always occurs together with mental pain (domanassa). Therefore,
if mental pain is present the meditator should know that anger is also
present. Aversion, ill-will, frustration, fear, and sadness are all
included in this term. Anger can produce only unwholesome actions.
The mind without anger is the wholesome opposite of anger and is the
cause of loving-kindness (metta), friendliness, and goodwill.
Delusion (moha) is the mental concomitant that clouds and blinds the
mind making it unable to discern between right and wrong actions, unable
to perceive the characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness,
and soullessness, and unable to perceive the Four Noble Truths. It is
common to all unwholesome types of consciousness but here it refers
specifically to those types of consciousness associated with doubt,
uncertainty, restlessness, distraction, and confusion.
The mind without delusion is the wholesome opposite of delusion. It
is the wisdom that perceives the impermanent, unsatisfactory and soulless
nature of conditioned phenomena, perceives the Four Noble Truths, and
is able to discern between right and wrong actions.
This is the shrunken mind that is lethargic, indolent, and lacks interest
A diffused, restless state of mind that goes here and there is therefore
The type of mind experienced in the råpa jhanas and aråpa
The mind as generally found in the sensuous (kamavacara) realms (i.e.
As above (Note 64.)
The rupa jhanas and arupa jhanas. Amongst these two the aråpa
jhanas are superior to the råpa jhanas.
The mind with either proximate concentration (upacara samadhi) or absorption
concentration (appana samadhi). A meditator who has no experience of
jhana will not need to be mindful of the concentrated mind, the superior
mind or the developed mind.
The mind without proximate or absorption concentration.
The mind temporarily free from defilements due to insight or jhana.
There are ten defilements (kilesa), namely: greed, anger, delusion,
conceit, wrong views, doubt, sloth, distraction, lack of moral shame,
lack of moral dread (lobho, doso, moho, mano, ditthi, vicikiccha, thinam,
uddhacam, ahirikam, anottapam).
The causes of the appearing and the dissolution of the mind are the
existence or non-existence of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths, craving,
kamma, body and mind (nama and råpa).
The five hindrances are unwholesome mental concomitants that confuse
the mind and obstruct it from achieving wholesome states such as insight
Sense desire is the craving for any of the five types of sense-objects
(i.e. sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile objects). It arises
due to unwise attention to the pleasant aspect of an object. It is discarded
due to the wise attention to the perception of either impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness or soullessness or to the unpleasant aspect of an
object. It is totally eradicated by the path of an Anagami (anagami
Ill-will is the same as anger (see Note 57). It arises due to the unwise
attention to the unpleasant aspect of an object. It is discarded due
to wise attention to the perception of either impermanence, unsatisfactoriness,
or soullessness or to the development of loving-kindness. It is totally
eradicated by the path of Anagami.
Sloth and torpor refer to the state of indolence, dullness of mind and
dullness of mental concomitants. They arise due to unwise attention
to lack of interest, lazy stretching of the body, drowsiness after meals,
and mental sluggishness. They are mental concomitants and do not refer
to physical tiredness. They are discarded due to wise attention to the
perception of either impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, or soullessness
or to the development of energy and exertion. They are totally eradicated
by the path of an Arahat (arahatta magga).
Distraction (uddhacca) refers to the agitated, restless, and unconcentrated
mind. Worry (kukkucca) refers to worrying about past actions that one
has or has not done. They arise due to unwise attention to the things
that cause distraction and worry. They are discarded by wise attention
to the perception of either impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, or soullessness
or to the development of calmness of mind. Distraction is totally eradicated
by the path of an Arahat. Worry is totally eradicated by the path of
Doubt or wavering refers to doubts such as "Is the Buddha really
fully enlightened?"; "Does this practice really lead to the
cessation of dukkha?"; "Have the disciples of the Buddha really
attained enlightenment by this practice?"; "Is there a future
life?"; Was there a past life?". Doubt or wavering arises
due to unwise attention to things that cause doubt. It is discarded
due to wise attention to the perception of either impermanence, unsatisfacturiness,
or soullessness or to the Dhamma. It is totally eradicated by the path
of a Sotapanna or Streamwinner (sotapatti magga).
The cause of the appearing of the hindrances is unwise attention (ayoniso
manasikara). To cause of the dissolution of the hindrances is wise attention
which removes them temporarily and the Four Noble Paths (ariyamagga)
which permanently discards them (See also Notes 71 to 76).
The five aggregates of clinging are the objects depending on which the
four types of clinging arise. The four types of clinging are the clinging
to sense pleasures, the clinging to wrong views, the clinging to the
belief that there are other paths and practices that can lead to happiness
and liberation besides the Eightfold Noble Path, and the clinging to
the view that there is a Self or Soul.
The word råpa refers to everything made of the four primary elements
(i.e. the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the
air element). But here it refers mostly to the corporeal body which
arises together with the remaining four aggregates of clinging.
recognizes or perceives an object by means of a mark. It enables one
to recognize colours such as blue, white or red. It can also wrongly
recognize a rope as a snake.
is that which is aware of an object. Here it refers only to sensuous,
råpa and aråpa types of consciousness and does not include
path or fruition consciousness (magga-phala citta) which are not objects
For the causes of the appearing and the dissolution of the corporeal
body see Note 38; of feelings, perception and mental formations see
Note 54; and of consciousness see Note 70.
Sense bases are those things which extend and expand the range of the
mind. The six internal sense bases are the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body
and mind. The six external sense bases are sights, sounds, smells, tastes,
tactile objects and mental objects.
The fetters (samyojana) are those things which bind one to the rounds
of rebirth. They are: 1. craving for sense pleasures (kamaraga); 2.
anger (patigha), 3. pride or conceit (mana), 4. wrong view (ditthi)
5. doubt or wavering (vicikiccha), 6. the belief that there are other
paths and practices that can lead to happiness and liberation besides
the Eightfold Noble Path (silabbataparamasa), 7. craving for rebirth
in the sensuous, råpa or aråpa worlds (bhavaraga), 8. envy
or jealousy (issa), 9. meanness or stinginess (macchariya), 10. ignorance
of the Four Noble Truths (avijja).
For the causes of the appearing and dissolution of the physical sense
bases see Note 38; of the mind see Note 70; and of mental objects see
Mindfulness is that which watches what is occurring at the present moment
in the body and mind. (Also see Note 11).
All the factors of enlightenment arise due to wise attention and come
to complete development due to the path of an Arahat (arahatta magga).
This is the wisdom or insight that can differentiate the corporeal body
and the mind and perceives both as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self.
This is the balanced mental effort that is generated while being mindful.
This is the interest and lack of boredom that arises due to seeing things
as they really are. It is often associated with a feeling of lightness,
lifting of the body or a thrill of joy that can make the hair on the
body stand up.
With the arising of rapture the mind becomes calm and peaceful. This
is called tranquility.
With the arising of tranquility the mind is not distracted and no longer
wanders here and there but is aware of each object that appears in the
mind. This is concentration.
With the arising of concentration the mind sees each object in a detached
and calm way. It feels neither aversion to pain nor is overpowered by
pleasure but it is calmly and effortlessly observant of the impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness or soullessness of every constituent of body and
mind. This is called equanimity.
The cause of the appearing of the seven factors of enlightenment is
wise attention (yoniso-manasikara) which views phenomena as impermanent,
unsatisfactory and not-self. The cause of the dissolution of the seven
factors of enlightenment is unwise attention (ayoniso-manasikara) which
views phenomena as permanent, satisfactory and as a soul or self.
Birth (jati) refers to both birth and repeated rebirth.
Here dukkha does not just refer to painful feelings but has a wide range
of meaning. Birth, ageing and death are dukkha because they are painful.
Pleasant feelings are dukkha because they are subject to change. The
rest of the five aggregates of clinging are dukkha because they are
oppressed by ceaseless arising and dissolution.
Sorrow, lamentation and anguish are different intensities of mental
pain that arise due to loss or painful states such as loss of a good
reputation, the passing away of relatives or the loss of possessions
through fire, flood, or theft. Sorrow is the weakest and is felt internally
with little outward expression. Lamentation is more intense and results
in outbursts of wailing and crying. Anguish is the most intense and
although one cries and wails there is still deep inexpressible pain
that makes one look exhausted and hopeless.
These things cannot be gained by wishing or prayer. They can only be
gained by attaining the Noble Paths.
The craving for pleasurable sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile
objects is kamatanha. The craving to be born in any sensual; rupa or
arupa worlds, and the attachment to rupa or arupa jhanas, and the craving
associated with the belief in an eternal and indestructible Self or
Soul are all included in the term bhavatanha. The craving that associated
with the wrong view that at death one is annihilated and hence that
there is no rebirth or results of good or bad actions is vibhavatanha.
The word establishes (nivisati) has two aspects. Firstly, the craving
arises at that place and secondly because of happening again and again
it establishes itself there so that it arises habitually whenever the
same object is met or thought about.
The world (loka) refers to the five aggregates of clinging.
Contact (phassa) refers not to the contact of an object with the body
but to the contact of an object with the mind. Thus, when an object,
a sense base and consciousness appear together it is called contact.
Volition (cetana) is the mental concomitant that causes actions of body,
speech, and mind.
Initial thinking (vitakka) searches for, introduces, and moves towards
a new sensual object. Continued thinking (vicara) stays with the same
object and repeatedly thinks about, ponders, and examines that object
in greater detail. They have different meanings when they are associated
with the jhanas, which are all free from craving.
It is important to note that craving arises and is discarded in the
same place and that craving is removed by mindfully observing each object
as it arises at one of the six sense doors and not by mere intellectual
Right View (samma ditthi) develops through several stages. At first
one understands that good actions produce good results, and that bad
actions produce bad results. Next, one understands the impermanent,
unsatisfactory and soulless nature of conditioned phenomena which deepens
the understanding of cause and effect so that only cause and effect
are seen. The last stage is to understand the Four Noble Truths and
to see that if the cause (craving) ceases the result (dukkha) will also
If one has Right View then depending on that Right Thought (samma sankappa)
will arise. Also if one has Right Thought then Right Speech (samma vaca)
and Right Action (samma kammanta) will arise because one's actions are
dependent on one's thoughts.
Tale bearing refers to taking stories from one person to another in
order to create a split between those two people and also to make oneself
liked by the second person, e.g. person A hears person B saying bad
things about person C. Then A goes to C and tells him what B has said
in order to create discord between B and C and to make C like A.
This refers to idle chatter or gossip that is of no benefit to anyone.
Nowadays it is worth considering if this applies to reading and writing
certain types of books.
Only the intentional killing of living beings is meant here and not
unintentional killing such as accidentally stepping on an insect. Something
is called a living being if it possesses consciousness and does not
include plants, bacteria, amoebae, and viruses which according to Buddhism
are without consciousness.
Stealing does not just mean simple theft but also inrcludes smuggling,
tax evasion, and using false weights or measures.
This refers to sexual misconduct (i.e. adultery, rape), drinking alcohol,
and taking drugs.
This refers to obtaining one's livelihood by wrong speech or wrong action.
It includes trading in weapons, in animals for slaughter, in slaves,
in liquor, in drugs, and in poisons.
The word jhana comes from the root jha = to stare. Here it is used to
refer to a degree of concentration in which the mind stares at an object
with such concentration that one is unaware of sights, sounds, smells,
tastes, or tactile objects. There are four types of jhanas mentioned
here which are characterized or differentiated by the mental concomitants
present in each. As mental concomitants of jhana, vitakka and vicara
refer to the initial and sustained application of the mind to a single
object. Just like a man first puts his hand on a shaking object and
then keeps his hand on the shaking object, vitakka puts the mind on
the object and vicara keeps the mind there. At this stage the mind is
still not perfectly calm. In the second jhana the mind is so still that
it stays on one object without any vitakka and vicara. Rapture (piti)
is the same as the enlightenment factor of rapture (see Note 88). Sukha
refers to ease and comfort of body and mind.
The Buddha and his enlightened disciples are Noble Ones (ariya).
The causes of the appearing of dukkha are ignorance of the Four Noble
Truths, craving and kamma. The cause of the dissolution of dukkha is
the Eightfold Noble Path. The cause of the appearing of craving is Feeling.
The cause of the dissolution of craving is the Eightfold Noble Path.
The cessation of dukkha, which is Nibbana, has no arising or passing
away and is therefore not included here.
path leading to the cessation of dukkha is of two kinds: supramundane
(lokuttara) and mundane (lokiya). Both appear due to the four factors
of stream entry. (i.e. associating with virtuous men, hearing the true
Dhamma, wisely considering the Dhammas one has heard, and practising
in accordance with that Dhamma). The lokuttara path cannot pass away
once it has been attained but the lokiya path can pass away due to not
wisely considering the Dhamma one has heard and not practising
in accordance with that Dhamma.
115. An Anagami is an enlightened individual who has eradicated ditthi, vicikiccha, silabbataparamasa, issa, macchariya, kamaraga and patigha (see Note 82) and consequently at death will be reborn in the Pure Abode (Suddhavasa) where he will attain Arahatship. He is called a Non-returner because he will never be reborn again in the sensuous realm (kamaloka). This last section is meant to encourage the meditator with the knowledge that if he practises in a really diligent and consistent way in accordance with this sutta he can expect to attain the total eradication of greed, hatred and delusion, in this very life.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Jotika and U Dhamminda