This book is a thorough and insightful guide to this deceptively simple yet profound teaching. Unlike other popular books on the subject, he is not out to establish the exclusive validity of one particular system of meditation as against others. Rather, his aim is to explore the sutta as a wide-ranging and multi-faceted source of guidance which allows for alternative interpretations and approaches to practice. His analysis combines the detached objectivity of the academic scholar with the engaged concern of the practitioner for whom meditation is a way of life rather than just a subject of study.
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All Rights Reserved. These are my personal opinions and interests in psychology. I am not a psychologist so my conclusions should not replace specific professional help. These reviews are only meant to spark discussion and motivate people to read books that are not typically in a school curriculum. Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Bhikkhu Analayo For those who have floundered in many different Buddhist traditions and want a solid foundation of Early Buddhist teachings, the following review highlights some of the works of Bhikkhu Analayo who is one of the best scholars of Early Buddhist texts.
He was born in Germany in , and ordained as a novice in Sri Lanka in He became known for his work on comparing the Pali and Chinese Buddhist Canon. As instructions change with Buddhist lineages, many practitioners feel that the differences in the texts matter in defining what good practice is.
His philosophy is that these early scriptures point to more accuracy and reliability when they agree. The way to read it is understanding the role of definition and how the differences in definition matter.
The practice of Satipatthana, as defined in the book, requires the establishment of four mental qualities which can be taken to represent the mental faculties of effort, wisdom, mindfulness, and concentration. To develop these qualities requires practicing diligence effort , to know experiences clearly wisdom , to be mindful, and to be free from desires and discontent concentration and equanimity.
Desire must be cultivated to have it, but the strange situation of creating a desire only to let go of desire seems logically circular. The mind strains less as the desire is naturally relinquished, but in the meantime, having desire can animate continued practice before the goal is reached. The Buddha once compared the balanced effort needed for proper progress to the tuning of a lute, whose strings should be neither too tight or too loose.
As practice matures you can put just enough effort to come back and then resume your continuity. A good goal would be to think when you need to think and then naturally let it drop with an adequate bit of effort that increases or decreases according to how strongly fixated you are. More effort when it is required and less effort if it is enough. As practice deepens, less effort is required. Clearly knowing With clear knowing there are a range of definitions which include a presence of deliberateness, awareness of impermanence, and clear knowledge for overcoming unwholesomeness and establishing wholesomeness.
This clear knowing can be viewed as a progression to clearly know the purpose of progress to awakening, to clearly know the suitability of conduct that is careful and dignified, especially for one who is living like a monk or a nun. The third quality is called pasture which relates to the inappropriateness of being distracted by sensuality, compared to the sense-restraint required for the proper pasture of a monk or nun.
As wisdom is developed, clear knowledge starts losing its delusion. When the goal is learning, then success is all around. When the goal is an outcome then the mind gears up to make those preferences happen, often with a lot of mental pressure. The actual instructions for contemplation of feelings or of states of mind, for example, use direct speech to formulate the conceptual labels to be used when practicing.
This unmistakably envisions that satipatthana meditation involves the use of concepts. A practice like the labeling technique employed in the Mahasi tradition does in this respect seem to reflect quite well what the early discourses suggest actual practice to have been about.
This equanimity along with the prior attributes prepares the practitioner to see the futility of clinging to anything in experience until the mind surrenders the stress at arhatship. This is represented with clarity in a figure of four cones where the four qualities are applied to all experiences.
Since consciousness is involved in all four cones it is a good reminder to not look at it as a solid place for the self.
Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Bhikkhu Analayo
Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization (Paperback)