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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 39 Insight Meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein examines a key teaching from the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha’s discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness, which he called the direct path to liberation. T he simple, although not always easy, practices of vipassana are all rooted in one important discourse of the Bud- dha: the Satipatthana Sutta. Satipatthana is often translated as “foundation of mindful- ness,” but another, and perhaps more helpful, translation is “way of establishing mindfulness.” Traditionally, there are four: mindfulness of the body, feelings, mind, and dhammas. In terms of awareness of the different aspects of our experi- ence, the slight shift in translation—from “foun- dation” to “way”—has important implications: it gives more emphasis to the process of awareness itself, rather than to the particular objects of our attention. There is an element of the Satipatthana Sutta that stands out by virtue of the frequency of its repetition. It is a refrain that occurs thirteen dif- ferent times in the discourse, following each of the specific meditation instructions pertaining to the four foundations of mindfulness. In this way, in regard to the body [feelings, mind, dhammas] one abides contemplating the body [feelings, mind, dhammas] internally, or one abides contemplating [each] externally, or one abides contemplating [each] both inter- nally and externally. One abides contemplat- ing the nature of arising in the body [feelings, mind, dhammas]... the nature of passing away in [each]... or the nature of both arising and passing away in [each]. Mindfulness that “there is a body” [feelings, mind, dhammas] is established in one to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and continuous mindfulness. And one abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how in regard to the body [feelings, mind, dhammas] one abides contemplating [each]. Through the repetition of the refrain, the Bud- dha reminds us again and again of the essential aspects of the practice: • Contemplating our experience internally, externally, and both; • Contemplating the nature of impermanence: the arising, the passing away, and both the arising and passing away in regard to our experience; The Four Foundations of Mindfulness PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN ENGLISH (Opposite) Javan Buddha WWW.BRIANENGLISHART.COM