The Satipaṭṭhāna Method

The technical vocabulary that circles around satipaṭṭāna gets jumbled up in modern teachings and scholarship, often with a failure to clearly distinguishing the various factors involve, or their interworkings. There is some question about whether Pali sati, conventionally translated into English as ‘mindfulness,’ refers to memory or to some special form of awareness of the present situation. The compound satipaṭṭāna, whose conventional translation ‘foundations of mindfulness’ or ‘establishment of mindfulness’ is based on a mistaken etymology, seems in most contexts to designates a far more specific contemplative practice than the name suggests. Sammāsati, ‘right mindfulness,’ seems sometimes to be equated with this specific practice, then in other places seems to be understood as having much wider applicability.

termChartI hope in this paper to disenjumble a bit the semantics of these terms, and others associated with satipaṭṭhāna, and to highlight some aspects of their interworkings that are commonly missed, that are described in the EBT (early Buddhist texts), where I will argue that they are used quite consistently and unambiguously. I will argue that the much of the confusion around what these terms mean arises from not being clear that the core meaning of satipaṭṭhāna is not a specific contemplative practice, but rather a method of attentive recollection that is applicable in a wide array of specific practices, only one among them the contemplation of factors of our experiential world.

. . .  MORE: SatipatthanaMethod.pdf

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