Articles elaborating the teachings

Satipatthana - Two ways to practice it

The Satipatthana Suttas describe the four areas where we can focus our mindfulness.

These four areas are the body, feeling tone, the mind and Dhamma teachings.  Please follow the links to a more extensive talk on each area, if needed.  This article focuses on the two ways that a meditator can practice satipatthana.

The first method is the non-directed method.  We use this method when our mind is free of the hindrances.  In an alert, keen state, with mindfulness and clear comprehension, we rest our awareness on one of the four focuses.  The Buddha assures us that we will realize the stages of Awakening with this practice.

The second method is the directed method.  We use this when the hindrances arise during our meditation practice.  When this occurs, the Buddha directs us to move our attention from the hindrance to something that inspires us.  This could be recalling a great act of kindness that we saw someone do or heard about them doing.  Or it could be recalling a sutta that inspires us or a poignant sentence from a Dhamma teaching that we have heard or read.  When we feel inspired, gladness arises.  From this rapture (piti) arises and this leads to tranquility (passadhi).  And this leads to happiness (sukha) which evolves into stillness (samadhi......the jhanas).  The jhanas are the ultimate hindrance removers.  The definition of a jhana is the absence of the hindrances.  When we emerge from the jhanas, since we are at least temporarily free of the hindrances, we can continue with the first method of satipatthana, the non-directed method.

This article is based on a sutta study talk by Ajahn Brahm.  He referred to SN 47:8,9,10, 42 in his talk.

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