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Saŋyutta Nikāya,
V: MahāVagga
47. Satipaṭṭhana Saŋyutta
5. Amata-Vagga

Sutta 41

Amata Sutta


Translated from the Pali by Michael Olds.



[1][pts][bodh][than] I HEAR TELL:

2. Once upon a time Bhagava, Savatthi-town revisiting, Anathapindika's Jeta-forest park.

There then The Lucky Man said this to the beggars:


And the beggars responding, "Bhante!"
the Lucky Man said:

"Four, beggars, are the settings-up of mind for living steadfast in heart.

Let not the deathless pass you passed.[1]

What four?

Here, beggars, a beggar, lives in the body over-seeing the body, ardent, comprehending, minding, removing worldly wants and disappointments.

Here, beggars, a beggar, lives in sensation over-seeing sensations, ardent, comprehending, minding, removing worldly wants and disappointments.

Here, beggars, a beggar, lives in the heart over-seeing mental states, ardent, comprehending, minding, removing worldly wants and disappointments.

Here, beggars, a beggar, lives in the Dhamma[2] over-seeing the Dhamma, ardent, comprehending, minding, removing worldly wants and disappointments.

These four, beggars, are the settings-up of mind for living steadfast in heart.

Let not the deathless pass you passed.



Pali Olds Woodward Bhk. Thanissaro Bhk. Bodhi
sūpaṭṭhitacittā steadfast in heart mind well-established mind well-established mind well-established
satipaṭṭhānā settings up of mind station of mind establishings of mindfulness establishments of mindfulness
Mā vo amataṃ panassa Let not the deathless pass you passed. But let not that be to you the Deathless. Don't let the deathless be lost to you Do not let the Deathless be lost on you.
sampajāno comprehend composed alert clearly comprehending
kāye kāyānupassī viharati lives in the body over-seeing the body abides in body contemplating body remains focused on the body in and of itself dwells contemplating the body in the body
vedanā sensation feelings feelings feelings
cittā heart/mental states mind/mind mind mind
dhammā Dhamma mind-states mental qualities phenomena


[1]Mā vo amataṃ panassa.

Woodward translates: "But let not that be to you the Deathless." and footnotes:
"I.e., do not confuse the means with the end. Cf. Pts. of Controversy, 104 n:[sub 1] 'The Andhakas (and others) held the opinion that the objects of mindfulness (namely, the body, etc.) were themselves (the conscious subject) mindfulness. (This they deduced from this passage.)[sub 2]

Bhk. Bodhi translates: "Do not let the Deathless be lost on you." and footnotes:
"Mā vo amataṃ panassa. Spk offers no help, but I take panassa to be an aorist of panassati. Woodward has apparently understood it as pan'assa and translates ... [as above] ... But pana here would be syntactically out of place.

PED: Pana (indecl.) [doublet of Sanskrit puna(h.) with different meaning (see puna), cp. Geiger, Pāli Gr. * 34] adversative and interrogative particle, sometimes (originally, cp. puna "again, further") merely connecting and continuing the story. - (1) (adversative) but, on the contrary J I.222; II.159; VvA 79 (correl. with tāva). ca pana "but" J I.152; atha ca pana "and yet" D I.139; J I.279; na kho pana "certainly not" J I.151; vā pana "or else" Vin I.83; Dh 42; Sn 376, 829. - (2) (in questions) then, now J II.4 (kiṃ p.), 159 (kahaṃ p.); VvA 21 (kena p.); PvA 27 (katamaṃ p.). - (3) (conclusive or copulative) and, and now, further, moreover D I.139 (siyā kho p. be it now that ...); Sn 23, 393, 396, 670; J I.278; PvA 3.

PED: Panassati [pa+nassati, cp. also BSk praṇāsha Divy 626] to be lost, to disappear, to go to ruin, to cease to be M I.177; S II.272 (read panassissati with BB); J V.401; VI.239; Th 1, 143.

PED: Nassati (v. intr.) [Ved. nash; nashyati and nashati, cp. Gr. ne/kus, nekro/s (corpse), ne/ktar ("overcoming death" = nec+tr*, cp. tarati); Latin neco, noceo, noxius] to perish, to be lost or destroyed, to disappear, come to an end Sn 666 (na hi nassati kassaci kammaṃ); It 90; J I.81, 116, 150; pret. nassaŋ (prohib.) Sn 1120, pl. anassāma M I.177; aor. nassi A III.54 (mā nassi prohib.); J IV.137 (cakkhūni -iṃsu: the eyes failed); fut. nassisati J I.5; cond. nassissa J II.112. - Causative nāseti (q. v.).

Sorting through the confusion here, it appears that what is influencing Woodward's translation is whether or not satipaṭṭhānā, 'setting up mind' is the same thing as sati, 'mind' and whether or not having set up 'mind' is the same thing as having attained upekkha, objective detachment, liberation.
The position here takes it's clue from the use in the Way where the term for the seventh step is 'sammā sati' not 'sammā satipaṭṭhānā'. Setting up mind is not the same thing as having set up mind. The first is the practice for the attaining of the second. This is a matter of terminology only.
Setting up mind, satipaṭṭhānā, incorporates by the inclusion of the Four Truths as part of what is to be set up The Eight Dimensional Way and by that 'sammā sati'. The set up mind sammā sati, is described as having attained to being 'not downbound to anything at all in the world', the equivalent of being objectively detached.
Setting up mind describes the process of setting up mind, having set up mind describes the state of the set up mind, the Way describes the various states of the set up mind.
The term Satipaṭṭhānā, because it includes methodologies for the beginner (settings-up, trainings) that are not found in the set up mind, can only be used as a description of a method, it is one-sided in that respect.
The terms 'Sammā sati' and the other steps of The Way may be used in the beginning and middle for describing tools, 'methods,' when they are used as ways to form behavior and judge progress in the attaining of the states described, at the end for describing the attained state. They serve both ends.
As high as the praise is for the four satipaṭṭhānā Gotama never states that they are anything more than the means to the end. They are the 'one sure way' to the Deathless, not a description of the Deathless itself.
On the other hand there is no call either to read this passage as anything other than an exhortation to get busy. Woodward seems to have been distracted by the debate.

For more on this see SN 5 47 42 Olds.


[sub 1] The controversy arises not from this passage, but from the first lines of the following sutta [SN 5 47 42] which is translated by Woodward: 'Monks, I will teach you both the arising and the ending of the four stations of mindfulness.'
'catunnam bhikkhave satipaṭṭhānāṃ samudayañ ca atthagamañ ca dessissāmi.'
'I will describe for you arising and settling down in the four settings-up of Mind, beggars.'

[sub 2]Points of Controversy, p. 104 f.: 9. Of Applications in Mindfulness. Controverted Point. — That all mental states are applications in mindfulness.[sub 3] From the Commentary. — The groups holding special views who arose later, to wit, the Andhakas, comprising the sub-groups of the Pubbaseliyas, Aparaseliyas, Rājagirikas, and Siddhaṭṭhikas, held the opinion that the objects of mindfulness, namely, the body and the rest, were themselves [the conscious subject:] mindfulness. This they deduced from the passage in the 'Satipaṭṭhāna-Saŋutta': 'I will show you, bhikkhus, the induction and the cessation of applications in mindfulness.' To break down this opinion, the Theravādin puts the question. ...

[sub 3]'applications in mindfulness' = satipaṭṭhānā.


[2]Dhamma. See SN 5.47.35 Olds footnote 1


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