Satipatthana – Foundations of Mindfulness


Satipatthana – Foundations of Mindfulness

A Manual for Meditators

compiled and annotated by Tarchin Hearn

Beautiful Teachings on the Satipatthana Sutta:

Tarchin explains how these teachings came into being –
“In Buddhism the suttas or sutras generally refer to the collection of discourses given by the Buddha. They were originally memorised and passed down from teacher to student in an unbroken flow of oral transmission. It was hundreds of years before any of them were written down. Pali is the language that the Buddhist Sutras were preserved in. It was probably very close to the actual language that the Buddha spoke.”

From the Introduction:

“The Buddha saw that wherever there are formations, be they physical or mental, there will be unavoidable unsatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha). Everything lives by eating. Everything is eaten. All things wear out. Collision produces friction. This is the First Noble Truth. He came to see the fundamental causes of dukkha, namely, clinging or grasping, coupled with partial views. This is the Second Noble Truth. Through the very act of bringing a profound degree of friendly enquiry to every moment of experience, he came to realise the cessation of suffering. This is the Third Noble Truth. On reflection, he then clearly understood the path to the cessation of suffering. He described this as the Eight Fold Noble Path. This is the Fourth Noble Truth.”

“The text begins with where to meditate and how to sit. It then directs us to an exploration of the physical body through Anapanasati or mindfulness of breathing. Here we investigate and make friends with the entire phenomena of breathing. These contemplations and enquiries eventually lead to a place of deep stillness and calm. The next step is to learn to carry this clear, responsive, awareness into the midst of activity. Gradually we come to experience directly the interbeingness of the physical body, the fact that the body is a co-operative endeavour of many parts and processes. These studies can lead to the dropping of unhelpful attitudes and assumptions that we may have about the body. Eventually, all physical bodies reveal themselves to be beginningless, endless arisings, embedded in a vast interconnected, interdependent universe. This is the birth of a deep ecological understanding of the physical world and the gateway to realising what is referred to in Buddhist texts as Sunyata or emptiness.”

Download the Satipatthana – Foundations of Mindfulness Commentary and text Here

Also available in hardcopy from Wangapeka Books

This Karunakarma manual evolved from notes that were initially assembled for Tarchin’s own use. They were compiled while teaching a one month Satipatthana retreat and form a collection of useful aspects of Satipatthana along with the references that will allow a student of the Path to go to original sources should that be of interest. The Karunakarma Series are published as A4 coil-bound manuals.

The Satipatthana eBook download is approximately 380k and requires a pdf reader such as Acrobat. Acrobat Reader is free to download from the Adobe website.

An excerpt from Tarchin Hearn’s commentary to the Sutta

The root of a tree is another special place for insight. It is the point where the visible tree disappears into the earth or where the invisible tree emerges into the light. Earth and roots are feeding branches and leaves. Branches, leaves, light and air are feeding the roots. This parallels a place in our experience where the unconscious and the conscious meet and interact. When we are lost in the underground of our being, groping blindly in the dark, there is little or no insight. When we are high up in the branches, we may feel we can see a long way but the roots of our being are often out of sight and we lose connection with the ground of being that we are rooted in, that we are.

Imagine a ‘tree of life’, like Tane Mahuta the great kauri tree in northland New Zealand. It has a huge trunk that supports massive branches in which live numerous other forms of life. Its roots are anchored deep in the earth, the ground of becoming. The root of a tree is a very stable place, but also a very dynamic place as nutriment of different kinds are simultaneously flowing upward and downward, outward and inward. To sit here, at this place that borders both light and dark, knowing and not knowing; a place where the conscious and unconscious are both available, where they can be experienced as not two but as a single interacting process, this is another very fruitful physical place and metaphoric space in which to meditate.

An excerpt from the Satipatthana Sutta
A classical teaching on Anapanasati – Mindfulness of Breathing

1. Mindfulness of Breathing
“And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating, the body as a body? Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in long, he understands: ‘I breathe in long’; or breathing out long, he understands: ‘I breathe out long.’ Breathing in short, he understands: ‘I breathe in short’; or breathing out short, he understands: ‘I breathe out short.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body [of breath]’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body [of breath].’ He trains thus:

‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the bodily formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the bodily formation.’ Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, understands: ’I make a long turn’; or when making a short turn, understands; ’I make a short turn’; so too, breathing in long, a bhikkhu understands: ‘I breathe in long’…..he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the bodily formation.’