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group study Meditative Mindfulness Leading to Insight — Pali Discourses by Gautama Buddha

Group study openly invites people to learn and exchange thoughts together based on premises that are always explicitly pointed out, however loose they might be. Any fixed discussion outcomes aren't called for, but the intent is in personal growth and understanding. It's good to keep mindful and respectful of both what is and what isn't relevant for discussion though.

Roots of Virtue

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Meditative Mindfulness Leading to Insight​


This is not a complete exposition of the essentials of the Buddhist path or even of the Buddhist meditation, but more like a pointer for understanding what is meant by the traditional Buddhist mindfulness. Generally speaking, it's not a good idea to try learning mindfulness alone unless you are completely healthy in body and mind and you have access to superior written instructions.

There is the modern psychologically interpreted variant of shallow mindfulness and its close relative "spacing out" which casual people often seem to call meditation, but this wouldn't qualify as very therapeutic or useful from the perspective of the benefits that can be accessed through genuine methods. Mindfulness trains keeping attention stable and staying present with all sorts of sensory experiences, which is a good skill on its own, but it's incomplete unless the development of insight is introduced. There is a bit mystery involved in insight, but only in the sense that it is pre-conceptual processing at its purest. In a pragmatic sense, we can say that gaining insight often relieves the burden from otherwise oppressive experiences and widens our experiential understanding about what we call as our own "self".

Much of the Buddhist doctrine could be condensed as personally motivated investigation into experiences through the lenses of non-self, dissatisfaction, and impermanence — the Three Marks of Existence. Here personal investigation is pre-conceptual and experiential in the sense that we can discuss it and rationalize why it matters, but understanding it requires training one's attention without any words or verbal explanations getting in the way. A baby is naturally attentive of everything until she acquires the desire to ask "What is that?" and "Why...?" and the other curious questions parents well know, which creates a departure by establishing a trend of rational blather. Verbally reinforced habitual responses are instrumental in diverting pure attention away from what could be important sources of insight. All spiritual practice could be said to be about returning to that same state of primal innocence where attention itself communicates more than any gestures or verbal eloquence. Mindfulness isn't much different than bare attention except having a mindset of unrelenting discipline and self-reflection whether it's going according to the right way or not. When the proper use of mindfulness is understood, then the yogi has a pretty good intellectual foundation — yet more might be needed, hence the Buddhist emphasis on proper conduct and view among other things — for investigating the Three Marks of Existence through various criteria that are particularly conductive to developing liberating insights: that our sense of self has been in error, that dissatisfaction hides something else beneath, and that no experience lasts forever.

There are different nuances and approaches to developing insights based on how exactly to apply mindfulness and how the effective investigation is carried on, but I'm not touching upon those points now. What I'm offering is links and excerpts to the original teachings of Gautama Buddha as recorded in the Pali Sutta texts.




Satipatthana Sutta: The Foundations of Mindfulness

translated from the Pali by Nyanasatta Thera​



This is a very comprehensive text that covers the following topics:

I. The Contemplation of the Body
1. Mindfulness of Breathing​
2. The Postures of the Body​
3. Mindfulness with Clear Comprehension​
4. The Reflection on the Repulsiveness of the Body​
5. The Reflection on the Material Elements​
6. The Nine Cemetery Contemplations​
II. The Contemplation of Feeling
III. The Contemplation of Consciousness
IV. The Contemplation of Mental Objects
1. The Five Hindrances​
2. The Five Aggregates of Clinging​
3. The Six Internal and External Sense Bases​
4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment​
5. The Four Noble Truths​

What should be emphasized from the start is that many of these investigation subjects are very technical and suppose either a proficient yogic skill or keen understanding of Buddhist concepts.
 

Roots of Virtue

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Mindfulness of Breathing​

Middle Discourses 118​


So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in the Eastern Monastery, the stilt longhouse of Migāra’s mother, together with several well-known senior disciples, such as the venerables Sāriputta, Mahāmoggallāna, Mahākassapa, Mahākaccāna, Mahākoṭṭhita, Mahākappina, Mahācunda, Anuruddha, Revata, Ānanda, and others.

Now at that time the senior mendicants were advising and instructing the junior mendicants. Some senior mendicants instructed ten mendicants, while some instructed twenty, thirty, or forty. Being instructed by the senior mendicants, the junior mendicants realized a higher distinction than they had before.

Now, at that time it was the sabbath—the full moon on the fifteenth day—and the Buddha was sitting surrounded by the Saṅgha of monks for the invitation to admonish. Then the Buddha looked around the Saṅgha of monks, who were so very silent. He addressed them:

“I am satisfied, mendicants, with this practice. My heart is satisfied with this practice. So you should rouse up even more energy for attaining the unattained, achieving the unachieved, and realizing the unrealized. I will wait here in Sāvatthī for the Komudi full moon of the fourth month.”

Mendicants from around the country heard about this, and came down to Sāvatthī to see the Buddha.

And those senior mendicants instructed the junior mendicants even more. Some senior mendicants instructed ten mendicants, while some instructed twenty, thirty, or forty. Being instructed by the senior mendicants, the junior mendicants realized a higher distinction than they had before.

Now, at that time it was the sabbath—the Komudi full moon on the fifteenth day of the fourth month—and the Buddha was sitting in the open surrounded by the Saṅgha of monks. Then the Buddha looked around the Saṅgha of monks, who were so very silent. He addressed them:

“This assembly has no nonsense, mendicants, it’s free of nonsense. It consists purely of the essential core. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! An assembly such as this is worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, worthy of hospitality, worthy of a religious donation, worthy of greeting with joined palms, and is the supreme field of merit for the world. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! Even a small gift to an assembly such as this is fruitful, while giving more is even more fruitful. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! An assembly such as this is rarely seen in the world. Such is this Saṅgha of monks, such is this assembly! An assembly such as this is worth traveling many leagues to see, even if you have to carry your own provisions in a shoulder bag.

For in this Saṅgha there are perfected mendicants, who have ended the defilements, completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and are rightly freed through enlightenment. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who, with the ending of the five lower fetters are reborn spontaneously. They are extinguished there, and are not liable to return from that world. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who, with the ending of three fetters, and the weakening of greed, hate, and delusion, are once-returners. They come back to this world once only, then make an end of suffering. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who, with the ending of three fetters are stream-enterers, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha.

In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who are committed to developing the four kinds of mindfulness meditation … the four right efforts … the four bases of psychic power … the five faculties … the five powers … the seven awakening factors … the noble eightfold path. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha. In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who are committed to developing the meditation on love … compassion … rejoicing … equanimity … ugliness … impermanence. There are such mendicants in this Saṅgha. In this Saṅgha there are mendicants who are committed to developing the meditation on mindfulness of breathing.

Mendicants, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated it is very fruitful and beneficial. Mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, fulfills the four kinds of mindfulness meditation. The four kinds of mindfulness meditation, when developed and cultivated, fulfill the seven awakening factors. And the seven awakening factors, when developed and cultivated, fulfill knowledge and freedom.

And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated to be very fruitful and beneficial?

It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut. They sit down cross-legged, with their body straight, and establish mindfulness right there. Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.

When breathing in heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ When breathing out heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’ When breathing in lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ When breathing out lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’ They practice breathing in experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing out experiencing the whole body. They practice breathing in stilling the body’s motion. They practice breathing out stilling the body’s motion.

They practice breathing in experiencing rapture. They practice breathing out experiencing rapture. They practice breathing in experiencing bliss. They practice breathing out experiencing bliss. They practice breathing in experiencing these emotions. They practice breathing out experiencing these emotions. They practice breathing in stilling these emotions. They practice breathing out stilling these emotions.

They practice breathing in experiencing the mind. They practice breathing out experiencing the mind. They practice breathing in gladdening the mind. They practice breathing out gladdening the mind. They practice breathing in immersing the mind in samādhi. They practice breathing out immersing the mind in samādhi. They practice breathing in freeing the mind. They practice breathing out freeing the mind.

They practice breathing in observing impermanence. They practice breathing out observing impermanence. They practice breathing in observing fading away. They practice breathing out observing fading away. They practice breathing in observing cessation. They practice breathing out observing cessation. They practice breathing in observing letting go. They practice breathing out observing letting go.

Mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated in this way, is very fruitful and beneficial.

And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated so as to fulfill the four kinds of mindfulness meditation?

Whenever a mendicant knows that they breathe heavily, or lightly, or experiencing the whole body, or stilling the body’s motion—at that time they’re meditating by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. For I say that the in-breaths and out-breaths are an aspect of the body. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while experiencing rapture, or experiencing bliss, or experiencing these emotions, or stilling these emotions—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. For I say that close attention to the in-breaths and out-breaths is an aspect of feelings. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of feelings—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while experiencing the mind, or gladdening the mind, or immersing the mind in samādhi, or freeing the mind—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. There is no development of mindfulness of breathing for someone who is unmindful and lacks awareness, I say. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of the mind—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

Whenever a mendicant practices breathing while observing impermanence, or observing fading away, or observing cessation, or observing letting go—at that time they meditate observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world. Having seen with wisdom the giving up of desire and aversion, they watch over closely with equanimity. That’s why at that time a mendicant is meditating by observing an aspect of principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of desire and aversion for the world.

That’s how mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, fulfills the four kinds of mindfulness meditation.

And how are the four kinds of mindfulness meditation developed and cultivated so as to fulfill the seven awakening factors?

Whenever a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body, at that time their mindfulness is established and lucid. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of mindfulness; they develop it and perfect it.

As they live mindfully in this way they investigate, explore, and inquire into that principle with wisdom. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of investigation of principles; they develop it and perfect it.

As they investigate principles with wisdom in this way their energy is roused up and unflagging. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of energy; they develop it and perfect it.

When they’re energetic, spiritual rapture arises. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of rapture; they develop it and perfect it.

When the mind is full of rapture, the body and mind become tranquil. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of tranquility; they develop it and perfect it.

When the body is tranquil and they feel bliss, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of immersion; they develop it and perfect it.

They closely watch over that mind immersed in samādhi. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of equanimity; they develop it and perfect it.

Whenever a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of feelings … mind … principles, at that time their mindfulness is established and lucid. At such a time, a mendicant has activated the awakening factor of mindfulness … investigation of principles … energy … rapture … tranquility … immersion … equanimity.

That’s how the four kinds of mindfulness meditation, when developed and cultivated, fulfill the seven awakening factors.

And how are the seven awakening factors developed and cultivated so as to fulfill knowledge and freedom?

It’s when a mendicant develops the awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation of principles, energy, rapture, tranquility, immersion,

and equanimity, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go.

That’s how the seven awakening factors, when developed and cultivated, fulfill knowledge and freedom.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said.

Source: Ānāpānassatisutta translated by Bhikkhu Sujato at SuttaCentral.

 

Roots of Virtue

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Mindfulness Immersed in the Body — Kāyagatā-sati Sutta (MN 119)​


I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. Now at that time a large number of monks, after the meal, on returning from their alms round, had gathered at the meeting hall when this discussion arose: “Isn’t it amazing, friends! Isn’t it astounding!—the extent to which mindfulness immersed in the body, when developed & pursued, is said by the Blessed One who knows, who sees—the worthy one, rightly self-awakened—to be of great fruit & great benefit.” And this discussion came to no conclusion.

Then the Blessed One, emerging from his seclusion in the evening, went to the meeting hall and, on arrival, sat down on a seat made ready. As he was sitting there, he addressed the monks: “For what topic are you gathered together here? And what was the discussion that came to no conclusion?”

“Just now, lord, after the meal, on returning from our alms round, we gathered at the meeting hall when this discussion arose: ‘Isn’t it amazing, friends! Isn’t it astounding!—the extent to which mindfulness immersed in the body, when developed & pursued, is said by the Blessed One who knows, who sees—worthy & rightly self-awakened—to be of great fruit & great benefit.’ This was the discussion that had come to no conclusion when the Blessed One arrived.”

(The Blessed One said:) “And how is mindfulness immersed in the body developed, how is it pursued, so as to be of great fruit & great benefit?

“There is the case where a monk—having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building—sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and establishing mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

Breathing in long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in long’; or breathing out long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out long.’ Or breathing in short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing in short’; or breathing out short, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out short.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.’ And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“And further, when walking, the monk discerns, ‘I am walking.’ When standing, he discerns, ‘I am standing.’ When sitting, he discerns, ‘I am sitting.’ When lying down, he discerns, ‘I am lying down.’ Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“And further, when going forward & returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward & looking away… when bending & extending his limbs… when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe, & his bowl… when eating, drinking, chewing, & savoring… when urinating & defecating… when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, & remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“And further, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: ‘In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.’ Just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain—wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice—and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, ‘This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice’; in the same way, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: ‘In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.’ And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“And further, the monk contemplates this very body—however it stands, however it is disposed—in terms of properties: ‘In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.’ Just as a dexterous butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body—however it stands, however it is disposed—in terms of properties: ‘In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.’ And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“And further, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground—one day, two days, three days dead—bloated, livid, & festering, he applies it to this very body, ‘This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate’…

“Or again, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, & hawks, by dogs, hyenas, & various other creatures… a skeleton smeared with flesh & blood, connected with tendons… a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons… a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons… bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all directions—here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull… the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells… piled up, more than a year old… decomposed into a powder: He applies it to this very body, ‘This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.’

“And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

The Four Jhānas​

“And further, quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. Just as if a dexterous bathman or bathman’s apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder—saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without—would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates… this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born of seclusion. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“Then, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation—internal assurance. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of concentration. Just like a lake with spring-water welling up from within, having no inflow from the east, west, north, or south, and with the skies supplying abundant showers time & again,g so that the cool fount of water welling up from within the lake would permeate & pervade, suffuse & fill it with cool waters, there being no part of the lake unpervaded by the cool waters; even so, the monk permeates… this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of concentration. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born of concentration. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“Then, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhāna, of which the noble ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.’ He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. Just as in a lotus pond, some of the lotuses, born & growing in the water, stay immersed in the water and flourish without standing up out of the water, so that they are permeated & pervaded, suffused & filled with cool water from their roots to their tips, and nothing of those lotuses would be unpervaded with cool water; even so, the monk permeates… this very body with the pleasure divested of rapture. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded with pleasure divested of rapture. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

“Then, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of joys & distresses—he enters & remains in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain. He sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. Just as if a man were sitting covered from head to foot with a white cloth so that there would be no part of his body to which the white cloth did not extend; even so, the monk sits, permeating the body with a pure, bright awareness. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by pure, bright awareness. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & concentrated. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.

Fullness of Mind​

“Monks, whoever develops & pursues mindfulness immersed in the body encompasses whatever skillful qualities are on the side of clear knowing. Just as whoever pervades the great ocean with his awareness encompasses whatever rivulets flow down into the ocean, in the same way, whoever develops & pursues mindfulness immersed in the body encompasses whatever skillful qualities are on the side of clear knowing.

“In whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is not developed, not pursued, Māra gains entry, Māra gains a foothold.

“Suppose that a man were to throw a heavy stone ball into a pile of wet clay. What do you think, monks? Would the heavy stone ball gain entry into the pile of wet clay?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is not developed, not pursued, Māra gains entry, Māra gains a foothold.

“Now, suppose that there were a dry, sapless piece of timber, and a man were to come along with an upper fire-stick, thinking, ‘I’ll light a fire. I’ll produce heat.’ What do you think? Would he be able to light a fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper fire-stick in the dry, sapless piece of timber?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is not developed, not pursued, Māra gains entry, Māra gains a foothold.

“Now, suppose that there were an empty, hollow water-pot set on a stand, and a man were to come along carrying a load of water. What do you think—would he get a place to put his water?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is not developed, not pursued, Māra gains entry, Māra gains a foothold.

“Now, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is developed, is pursued, Māra gains no entry, Māra gains no foothold. Suppose that a man were to throw a ball of string against a door panel made entirely of heartwood. What do you think? Would that light ball of string gain entry into that door panel made entirely of heartwood?”

“No, lord.”

“In the same way, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is developed, is pursued, Māra gains no entry, Māra gains no foothold.

“Now, suppose that there were a wet, sappy piece of timber, and a man were to come along with an upper fire-stick, thinking, ‘I’ll light a fire. I’ll produce heat.’ What do you think? Would he be able to light a fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper fire-stick in the wet, sappy piece of timber?”

“No, lord.”

“In the same way, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is developed, is pursued, Māra gains no entry, Māra gains no foothold.

“Now, suppose that there were a water-pot set on a stand, full of water up to the brim so that crows could drink out of it, and a man were to come along carrying a load of water. What do you think? Would he get a place to put his water?”

“No, lord.”

“In the same way, in whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is developed, is pursued, Māra gains no entry, Māra gains no foothold.

An Opening to the Higher Knowledges​

“When anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness immersed in the body, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

“Suppose that there were a water jar, set on a stand, brimful of water so that a crow could drink from it. If a strong man were to tip it in any way at all, would water spill out?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, when anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness immersed in the body, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

“Suppose there were a rectangular water tank—set on level ground, bounded by dikes—brimful of water so that a crow could drink from it. If a strong man were to loosen the dikes anywhere at all, would water spill out?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, when anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness immersed in the body, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

“Suppose there were a chariot on level ground at four crossroads, harnessed to thoroughbreds, waiting with whips lying ready, so that a dexterous driver, a trainer of tamable horses, might mount and—taking the reins with his left hand and the whip with his right—drive out & back, to whatever place & by whichever road he liked; in the same way, when anyone has developed & pursued mindfulness immersed in the body, then whichever of the six higher knowledges he turns his mind to know & realize, he can witness them for himself whenever there is an opening.

Ten Benefits​

“Monks, for one in whom mindfulness immersed in the body is cultivated, developed, pursued, given a means of transport, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, & well-undertaken, ten benefits can be expected. Which ten?

“[1] He conquers displeasure & delight, and displeasure does not conquer him. He remains victorious over any displeasure that has arisen.

“[2] He conquers fear & dread, and fear & dread do not conquer him. He remains victorious over any fear & dread that have arisen.

“[3] He is resistant to cold, heat, hunger, thirst, the touch of gadflies & mosquitoes, wind & sun & creeping things; to abusive, hurtful language; he is the sort that can endure bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, sharp, stabbing, fierce, distasteful, disagreeable, deadly.

“[4] He can attain at will, without trouble or difficulty, the four jhānas—heightened mental states providing a pleasant abiding in the here & now.

“[5] He wields manifold supranormal powers. Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, & mountains as if through space. He dives in & out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches & strokes even the sun & moon, so mighty & powerful. He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahmā worlds.

“[6] He hears—by means of the divine ear-element, purified & surpassing the human—both kinds of sounds: divine & human, whether near or far.

“[7] He knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness. He knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness. He discerns a mind with passion as ‘a mind with passion,’ and a mind without passion as ‘a mind without passion.’ He discerns a mind with aversion as ‘a mind with aversion,’ and a mind without aversion as ‘a mind without aversion.’ He discerns a mind with delusion as ‘a mind with delusion,’ and a mind without delusion as ‘a mind without delusion.’ He discerns a restricted mind as ‘a restricted mind,’ and a scattered mind as ‘a scattered mind.’ He discerns an enlarged mind as ‘an enlarged mind,’ and an unenlarged mind as ‘an unenlarged mind.’ He discerns a surpassed mind [one that is not at the most excellent level] as ‘a surpassed mind,’ and an unsurpassed mind as ‘an unsurpassed mind.’ He discerns a concentrated mind as ‘a concentrated mind,’ and an unconcentrated mind as ‘an unconcentrated mind.’ He discerns a released mind as ‘a released mind,’ and an unreleased mind as ‘an unreleased mind.’

“[8] He recollects his manifold past lives [lit: previous homes], i.e., one birth, two births, three births, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, one hundred, one thousand, one hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion, (recollecting,) ‘There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.’ Thus he remembers his manifold past lives in their modes & details.

“[9] He sees—by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human—beings passing away & re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: ‘These beings—who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views—with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in a plane of deprivation, a bad destination, a lower realm, hell. But these beings—who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech, & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views—with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destination, a heavenly world.’ Thus—by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human—he sees beings passing away & re-appearing, and he discerns how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

“[10] Through the ending of effluents, he remains in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known and realized them for himself right in the here & now.

“Monks, for one in whom mindfulness immersed in the body is cultivated, developed, pursued, given a means of transport, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, & well-undertaken, these ten benefits can be expected.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

Source: Mindfulness Immersed in the Body — Kāyagatā-sati Sutta (MN 119), translated by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu at dhammatalks.org.


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