THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS : BUDDHA'S SATIPATTHANA SUTTA Charles Day * www.DesMoinesMeditation.

org According to Buddha, studying and practicing his teaching on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (the Satipatthana Sutta) is the surest way to gain enlightenment and insight into the way things really are, i.e., into the reality that all physical phenomena and mental experiences are inherently dissatisfying, impermanent, selfless, and interdependent. Paradoxical as it may seem, these realizations are associated with: Overcoming greed, hatred, and delusion of the sense of a separate self (the Three Defilements, Poisons, or Roots of Suffering);  Increasing experiences of Lovingkindness, Compassion, Appreciative and Altruistic Joy, and Equanimity (the Four Great Virtues, Immeasurables, or Bhrama Viharas);  Ending the inevitable suffering caused by our attachments to desires, aversions, and the delusions of perpetual happiness, permanence, and an enduring, autonomous, and independent self, and by wanting things to be different than the way they are (The Four Noble Truths); and  Attaining the blissful, peaceful state of our already enlightenment nature in which all thoughts, feelings, words, and behaviors are wholesome, spontaneous, appropriate, and beneficial to oneself, others, and the universe.

Buddha said this about the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: “This is the only way, monks, for the purification of beings, for the
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overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the realization of Nirvana, namely the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. What are the four? Herein, a monk lives contemplating the… 1. 2. 3. 4. Body in the body, Feelings in feelings, Consciousness in consciousness, and Mind objects in mind objects (dharmas in the dharmas).

Contemplation of each of these Four Foundations must be done… 1. Ardently, i.e., intentionally and with the appropriate energy, neither too much nor too little, to arouse and maintain mindfulness; 2. With clear comprehension and mindfulness, i.e., with appropriate effort, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom in order to realize the three truths of unsatisfactoriness, impermanence, and selflessness/interdependence; and 3. Abandoning covetousness and grief in the world, i.e., overcoming in the mind greed, craving, attachment and anger, ill will, fear, sadness, negativity, and displeasure. The meditator also contemplates each of the Four Foundations in the following ways: 1. Body in the body (etc., for each of the other Foundations) internally, externally, or both internally and externally; 2. Origination factors in the body (etc.), the dissolution factors in the body (etc.), or both the origination and dissolution factors in the body (etc.); 3. Or his mindfulness is established as 'there is the body (etc.) only'. And that mindfulness is established to the extent necessary to further insight and mindfulness."
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THE FIRST FOUNDATION: MINDFULNESS OF THE BODY 1. Mindfulness of Breath: Awareness of whether it is an in-breath or out-breath, a long breath or short breath, a deep breath or shallow breath, a calm breath or rough breath. Awareness of the beginning, middle, and end of, and the space between each inhalation and exhalation. Awareness of the calming affect which mindful breathing has on the whole physical body. 2. Mindfulness of Postures: Awareness of walking when walking, standing when standing, sitting when sitting, lying down when lying down, bending when bending, and awareness of whatever position or movement characterizes the body in the present moment. 3. Mindfulness with Clear Comprehension: Awareness of the bodily actions of eating, drinking, dressing, washing, brushing teeth, toilet functions, sleeping, waking up, exercising, meditating, taking medications, speaking, and all behavioral actions happening in the present moment. There should also be Mindfulness with Clear Comprehension in balancing the Five Mental Faculties of Mindfulness, Faith and Wisdom, and Energy and Concentration. And finally, there should be Mindfulness with Clear Comprehension in thinking, speaking, and acting in terms of their… a. Purpose: Is the purpose of the thought, speech, or action beneficial, meaningful, skillful, and wholesome for you and others? b. Suitability: Are the time, place, and circumstances of the thought, speech, or action appropriate?
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c. Domain: Are you mindful of the full range of the activity in thinking, speaking, and action as it is experienced within the body and mind? d. Reality: Is the thought, speech, and or action experienced as impersonal, interdependent, and without an autonomous, independent, controlling self? 4. Reflection on the Material Elements of the Body: The body is composed of the elements of earth (solidity), water (fluidity), fire (heat), and wind (movement). The solid element is seen in the first 20 body parts, explained in the next Section 5 below, and the fluid element in the last 12 parts; the heat element is seen is the body's temperature and the movement element in respiration. This reflection assists in recognizing the interrelatedness of the body with the rest of the world through emphasizing how the body is made up of the very same elements as the animal, vegetable, and mineral realms. The next two sections on Body Parts and Cemetery are intended primarily for monks, lay persons committed to celibacy, and those who want to lessen their attachments to sexuality, sensual desires, physical attractiveness, or bodily function. They are not necessarily recommended for married couples, single persons, householders, or lay persons who want to maintain or increase their sensual, bodily, and physical pleasures. Furthermore, these contemplations are definitely not intended to produce repulsion, insensitivity, or indifference toward the body or its functions, because this would only replace the defilement of desire with the defilement of aversion, both of which reflect the delusion of a separate self or ego.. They are intended simply to counter and thereby lessen the attachment to and identification with physical beauty, bodily functions, and desires related to the body for those who want to
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do so. These contemplations are also intended to facilitate experiencing the interdependence of different body parts and their interdependence with the environment. 5. Mindfulness of Parts of the Body: Reflection on the repulsiveness of the 32 Body Parts: Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews (nerves), bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, intestines, spleen, lungs, bowels, stomach, undigested food, feces, brain, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, lymph, saliva, nasal mucus, oil of the joints, and urine. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests an alternative way of contemplating the 32 Body Parts for lay persons. He suggests reflecting on each of the different parts and embracing each part with the energy of mindfulness and smiling to it with recognition, gratitude, and love for its contribution to our existence, to the existence of the mind-body organism. 6. The Nine Cemetery Contemplations: These are to be conttemplated through using the imagination, through viewing physiological text illustrations or photographs of the body, through observing an autopsy, or through observing a dead body in the process of… a. Decomposing after being dead one day, two days, or three days, swelling, festering, turning blue and black; b. Being eaten by birds, animals, and worms; c. Reduced to a skeleton, held together by tendons, with some flesh and blood attached to it; d. Reduced to a skeleton, blood smeared and without flesh, held together by tendons; e. Reduced to a skeleton without flesh and blood; f. Reduced to loose bones, scattered in all directions—here a bone of the hand, here a bone of the foot, a shin bone, thigh bone, pelvis, spine, and skull;
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g. Reduced to bleached bones of shell-like color; h. Reduced to bones more than a year, lying in a heap; i. Reduced to rotten bones, crumbling to dust. In addition to weakening the identification with and attachment to the body, the Contemplation on the 32 Body Parts and the Cemetery Contemplations assist in recognizing the impermanent, impersonal, and insubstantial nature of the body, the interconnectedness and interdependence of the parts with each other and with the external universe, and the illusory nature of the appearance of a whole body/self. Zen teacher Alan Watts described the body as a "skin encapsulated ego." To further understand the illusion of physical appearance, you might imagine your body or a loved one’s body without the skin covering it. It is perfectly all right to also view the body as sacred, as the temple of God. Any point of view about the body can be adopted while acknowledging the reality of its multiple parts and functions. However, it is best not to get too attached to any particular point of view, since both the body and the point of view change with age and points of view and judgements reflect the delusion of self.. THE SECOND FOUNDATION: MINDFULNESS OF FEELINGS Feelings, according to the perspective of the Four Foundations refer to the affective tones of the initial mental reactions to every physical and cognitive experience. Feelings are not to be confused with emotions. Emotions, thoughts, and other cognitive experiences result from an elaboration of the initial feelings and will be dealt with under the category of mental formations in the Third Foundation of Mindfulness. With respect to feelings...

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1. Be mindful of whether the mental feeling or affective tone which accompanies each experience is a. Pleasant (positive), b. Unpleasant (painful, negative) or c. Neutral (neither pleasant nor unpleasant). Again, in Buddhism, the term "feelings" refers specifically to these three basic, root feelings from which all other elaborated emotions, thoughts, and habits are derived. It is critical from a karmic or causal point of view to mindfully identify the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral nature of the feelings as quickly as possible in order to intentionally control and choose one’s subsequent reactions. Without mindfulness of the initial feelings, they spontaneously proliferate into greater emotional intensity and/or a variety of emotional variations of the original basic feeling. Guarding the Sense Doors: This process of mindfully identifying the quality of a feeling as soon as it arises in order to prevent it from proliferating is called "guarding the sense doors." The sense door refers to that moment of mindfulness when one becomes conscious that one of the six sense organs—eye, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and mind—has been stimulated by contact with one of the six sense objects—sight, sound, smell, taste, touch/temperature, or cognition. Such contact produces the six sense consciousnesses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, tactile sensing, and cognizing. It is the feeling that accompanies such consciousness that one strives to be mindful of. 2. Buddha also recommends that we be mindful of whether the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling is (1) worldly (mundane), i.e., based on greed, aversion, or delusion, or (2) spiritual (supramundane), i.e., associated with spiritual values and desires. There are pleasant worldly feelings, pleasant spiritual feelings, unpleasant worldly feelings, unpleasant spiritual feelings, neither
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pleasant nor unpleasant worldly feelings, and neither pleasant nor unpleasant spiritual feelings. For example, one may be grieving over the loss of a job or a divorce (worldly unpleasant feelings) or frustrated over several successive meditations filled with agitation or failure to grow faster spiritually (spiritual unpleasant feelings). Or one may feel joy associated with getting a promotion or falling in love (worldly pleasant feelings) or joy associated with a blissful meditation or feeling that one is growing spiritually (pleasant spiritual feelings). Or one may experience indifference toward a partner or job (neither pleasant nor unpleasant worldly feelings) or about a meditation or one's spiritual progress (neither pleasant nor unpleasant spiritual feelings). Our mindful intention should be to intentionally let go of worldly feelings and cultivate spiritual feelings. 3. A feeling may be determined largely by the object that stimulated it, such as the pleasant feeling generally associated with observing a sunrise or smelling a rose, or the painful feeling associated with stubbing a toe or the smell of a hog lot. Or the feeling may be determined by one's mental disposition or past experiences, such as an unpleasant feeling evoked by a sunrise after a sleepless night, the pleasantness of the hog lot smell to its owner, or music associated with a spouse, depending on whether the relationship is pleasant or unpleasant at the time of hearing it. 4. It should be emphasized that the three basic feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral are conditioned, spontaneous, and dependent on heredity, past experiences, and the stimuli in the present moment. Every experience is accompanied by a pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling. And it is our reaction to this basic feeling that determines whether suffering is caused, perpetuated, increased, lessened, or eliminated. The intentional
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reaction to the initial feeling determines future karmic or causal consequences. For example, we easily grasp onto, indulge, and pursue pleasant feelings, which causes them to develop into emotions related to greed, craving, and attachment. Similarly, reacting to an unpleasant feeling by attempting to push it away, deny it, or reject it causes it to develop into an aversion, ill will, anger, fear, anxiety or upset. And neutral feelings are often reacted to with indifference, insensitivity, or boredom. Mindfulness of a feeling, simply recognizing and accepting it when it arises, coupled with the intention not to react with greed, aversion, or indifference can prevent further defilement of the mind, and minimize present and future suffering. Such mindfulness and allowing a feeling to simply pass away without reacting to it is often followed by an experience of calmness or equanimity, a pleasant spiritual feeling. 5. Again, a feeling arises when contact between one of the six sense organs and its corresponding sense object becomes conscious: eye-sight-seeing, ears-sound-hearing, nose-odorsmelling, tongue-taste-tasting, body-touch/temperature-sensing, mind-mental object-thinking/cognizing. When meditating, a feeling generally arises from conscious contact with the ears (sound), body (touch/temperature), or mind (thoughts). 6. Worth repeating again, guarding the sense doors refers to vigilantly cultivating the capacity to be mindful of a feeling as quickly as possible after it arises and then to intentionally refrain from reacting to it as soon as you become aware of it or as soon as you become aware that it has begun to develop into an emotional variant of greed, aversion, or delusion.

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Guarding the sense doors is one of the most powerful tools in psychological and spiritual growth. It facilitates learning to identify and let go of feelings, thoughts, and emotions, enabling one to become generally calmer, less emotionally reactive, and more proactive in choosing how to respond. It also promotes insight into the unsatisfactory, impermanent, and conditioned nature of feelings, emotions, thoughts, and all physical and mental experiences. We become aware of our conditioned response patterns. 7. When a particularly intense or persistent painful physical or mental feeling arises during meditation, it is first recommended that one become mindful of it, let go of it, and return the attention to the breath. One may need to do this several times when a particularly strong feeling keeps pulling the attention away from the breath. And if the feeling persists, one may want to focus the attention on it for some time, mindfully observing its physical sensory correlates and their continually changing quality, intensity, and location. One may also be mindful of any mental qualities or thoughts associated with the feeling. Then, when the feeling subsides or passes away, return the attention to following the breath. Also when unpleasant feeling arises because of intense physical pain or discomfort and mindfulness and letting go are ineffective in eliminating, alleviating, or accepting the pain, it is quite appropriate to intentionally change the physical position. One may also intentionally change the contents of consciousness or the focus of thoughts when mindfulness is ineffective in letting go of unpleasant feelings and the unpleasant thoughts that accompany them. THE THIRD FOUNDATION: MINDFULNESS OF STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
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In the Buddha's teachings on the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, consciousness is synonymous with mind and has two aspects: (1) the pure illuminating, knowing, or cognizing function and (2) the mind states, mental factors, and objects or contents of consciousness that always accompany the illuminating function of consciousness. One of these mind states is considered so important—feelings—that it constitutes the Second of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Perception and memory are the mind states responsible for identifying, labeling, evaluating, and discriminating among objects. What is critical in contemplating the mind states of consciousness is to be aware, during meditation as well as throughout the day, of whether a mind state, mood, thought or emotion, is wholesome or unwholesome, ethical or moral, skillful or unskillful. As soon as one becomes mindful of the mind state, it should be identified and acknowledged as (1) wholesome, beneficial, or skillful or (2) unwholesome, harmful, or unskillful or (3) neutral or neither wholesome nor unwholesome, skillful nor unskillful or (4) mixed wholesome and unwholesome factors. 1. Unwholesome states include the primary defilements and their secondary variants: a. Desire/greed/lust—pride, false views, arrogance, immodesty, avarice, selfishness, unwholesome excitement, stinginess, possessiveness, etc.; b. Aversion/anger/hatred—anger, malevolence, malice, hypocrisy, jealousy, guile, the wish to harm, fear, resentment, worry, frustration, disappointment, restlessness, guilt, etc. c. Delusion/ignorance—doubt, lack of faith, dullness, carelessness, forgetfulness, lack of faith, distraction, inattentiveness, laziness, confusion, etc.

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2. Wholesome states are those in which the defilements are absent: a. Non-greed—generosity, renunciation, nonattachment, simple living, humility, gratitude, altruism, sharing, etc. b. Non-aversion—lovingkindness, compassion, empathy, caring, goodwill, joy in the success and happiness of others, nonviolence, etc. c. Non-delusion—wisdom, understanding, mindfulness, diligence, faith, confidence, ease, equanimity, peace, etc. Some states are wholesome or unwholesome, depending on circumstances, such as sleepiness, regret, initial thinking, and developing thought. Sleepiness is wholesome when the body and mind need rest but not to avoid responsibility. Regret is wholesome when we have hurt someone but not when it develops into unproductive guilt, which in Buddhist reflects hostility directed to toward oneself. Thinking is wholesome when it helps us see clearly but not when it is scattered or wishes harm to someone. Some mind states arise only under certain circumstances—zeal, determination, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Universal mind states are those that are always present when consciousness arises—contact, attention, feeling, perception, and volition/intention. Intention or volition is considered one of the most critical of all mental factors or mind states because intention is the karmic determinant of whether suffering is prevented, lessened, continued, or increased. Most of the mind states are primarily conditioned by past experiences. They develop out of the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings that arise when mindfulness and/or the intention to refrain from reacting to the initial feelings are not present. The importance of identifying and intentionally preventing the

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proliferation of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings was the subject of the Second Foundation of Mindfulness. Regret and sadness, but not guilt and self-recrimination, may be appropriate reactions to the recognition of unwholesome states when they arise. Wolesome states may arise spontaneously when previous conditioning interacts with present circumstances, mindfulness is not present, and one fails to intentionally refrain from reacting in unwholesome way. In this Third Foundation of Mindfulness, it is the intention to let go of unwholesome states and to cultivate wholesome ones that becomes critically important. Being mindful of the ethical or skillful nature of mental states as quickly as possible after they arise presents another opportunity to intentionally refrain from reacting to unwholesome states and prevent their reinforcement and proliferation into other unwholesome states or manifesting them in unwholesome speech or behavior. On the other hand, mindfulness of wholesome and skillful mind states presents the opportunity to intentionally reinforce and cultivate them. Consciousness is not an enduring or continuously present entity. It is considered a succession of separate and extremely rapid moments of consciousness. A single moment of consciousness is associated with several mind states. The task is to become whenever possible mindful of a specific moment of consciousness and to identify its accompanying mind states as wholesome or unwholesome, let go of the unwholesome ones, and cultivate the wholesome ones. Mindfulness itself is a wholesome mind state and free of defilements. It is a very powerful tool in growing psychologically and spiritually by learning to let go of unwholesome states and to cultivate wholesome ones. Such letting go is sometimes very difficult. For example, if one remains very attached to an
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unwholesome state, such as hatred toward an abusive parent or former spouse or partner, one is likely to experience conflict and vacillation between the states of nonjudgmental mindfulness and the self-protective justification of anger, if abusive memories arise during meditation or anytime. Skillful means of dealing with the anger and the object of the anger need to be developed. 3. The Buddha specifically noted that it is especially helpful to be mindful when consciousness is associated with the presence or absence of the following mind states: a. Consciousness with desire and consciousness without desire; b. Consciousness with aversion and consciousness without aversion; c. Consciousness with delusion and consciousness without delusion; d. Shrunken consciousness—dull, drowsy, unworkable, without energy; e. Distracted consciousness—restless, agitated, worried, scattered; f. Developed, exhaulted, elevated, superior consciousness and undeveloped, not exhaulted, not elevated, not superior consciousness; g. Concentrated consciousness and unconcentrated consciousness; h. Wholesome, liberated consciousness free of defilements and unliberated, unwholesome consciousness with defilements present. Again, the primary objective of practicing the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness is to be mindful of the specific mind state of consciousness, to identify its ethical or skillful quality, and in the case of unwholesome states of consciousness, to intentionally refrain from reacting to them with continued unwholesome thinking
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or manifesting the unwholesome thoughts, moods, or mind states in speech or behavior which is unwholesome, unskillful, or harmful. Such reactions only perpetuate and increase immediate or ultimate suffering. The practice during a period of meditation is to acknowledge when an unwholesome state arises and intentionally let it go and return to the breath. Returning to the breath can be practiced in daily activity as well, as a means of preventing a mind state recognized as unwholesome from intensifying, proliferating or manifesting in unwholesome speech and behavior. And, of course, one should be mindful of intentionally cultivating wholesome mind states, moods, and thoughts. 4. Techniques for weakening unwholesome and strengthening wholesome states: a. Mindfulness reminders during the day (e.g., when the telephone rings, going through a doorway, stopping for a red light, etc.) can be used as opportunities to mindfully note the wholesome or unwholesome state of consciousness occupying the mind at the time of the reminder, to intentionally let go of unwholesome states, and turn the attention to breath and for a few seconds. One may want to reflect on the wholesome states in ways that will intentionally cultivate them. b. Whenever unpleasant, negative, harmful, guilty, frustrating, or hostile thoughts arise during meditation or anytime, lovingkindness phrases can be directed toward the object of your negativity, whether yourself or others. Or compassion phrases can be used, along with reflecting on the suffering that accompanies and produces the negativity or anger. c. Thought substitution can be used by replacing negative thoughts or memories about yourself or others with positive
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thoughts or memories. d. Smile at or complement the person or object of your unwholesome emotions and thoughts; resolve conflicts through gentle conversation and being kind; or buy a gift for the person you feel negative toward, including yourself. These techniques are definitely not intended to help you suppress, repress, or deny aversive feelings or anger. On the contrary, they are intended to help you become even more mindful of unwholesome, negative and angry thoughts, and the suffering they cause you and others, then to acknowledge responsibility for them, and intentionally engage in a activity that will weaken them. THE FOURTH FOUNDATION: MINDFULNESS OF DHARMAS OR MIND OBJECTS In the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, dharmas refer to the objects or content of consciousness. The body, feelings, and mind states focused on in the first three foundations of mindfulness become mind objects when contemplated in this Fourth Foundation. Such objects include all physical, material, and tangible internal and external objects, as well as all mental experiences. This Foundation emphasizes contemplating and understanding five specific major teachings of Buddha in a way that facilitates insight into the unsatisfactory, impermanent, and impersonal, insubstantial, selfless, and interdependent nature of all experience, of mind objects, of the content of consciousness. 1. The Five Hindrances: (l) desire, (2) ill will, (3) dullness and drowsiness, (4) restlessness, remorse, and worry, and (5) doubt and uncertainty. Each hindrance is contemplated as follows: When a desire (or other hindrance) is present, a person knows
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desire is present in me, and when not present, he knows there is no desire in me. He also knows when desire begins to arise and when already arisen desire is abandoned. And he knows when abandoned desire will not arise again in the future. Furthermore, each hindrance is observed internally, functioning within oneself, and externally, as it functions in others. The process of the hindrance coming-to-be in the mind and the process of its dissolution is observed. Or one is just mindful of the presence of the hindrance until understanding and full awareness come about. a. Desire arises because of unwise attention to the attractive, enjoyable, pleasurable aspects of a mind object and can be abandoned by giving wise attention to its impermanent and unsatisfactory qualities and by being mindful of the object without reacting to it. b. Anger, ill will, and aversion arise by giving unwise attention to and dwelling upon the disagreeable or unpleasant aspects of a mind object. Several recommendations have been made to overcome ill will. One can change one's attitude toward the object or become mindful of the disagreeable object without reacting to it. If the disagreeable object is a person, one can practice lovingkindness meditation toward that person or consider giving the troublesome person a gift. One can also reflect on the idea that everyone reaps his own karma, that the difficult person will suffer the consequences of any unwholesome action, or that such is happening to oneself because of one's own previous actions. Also one can be grateful for the opportunity to deal with one's previous unwholesome actions. c. Dullness and drowsiness, also called sloth and torpor, arise
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frequently in meditation, and are caused by unwise attention to boredom, lethargy, and sluggishness in the mind. Recommendations for overcoming such a state include being mindful of it as soon as it arises; using the state itself as an object of attention; stirring up energy by focusing on another object of attention between breaths, such as awareness of the body sitting or the touching sensations of the buttocks on the cushion or chair; imagining a sunrise or bright light; pulling on the ear lobes; meditating in a standing position; opening the eyes slightly; doing walking meditation; or, if all else fails, taking a short nap and then resuming meditation. d. Restlessness, remorse, and worry arise because of unwise attention to a mind object, a thought or emotion which causes stress, agitation, worry, or confusion. To overcome it, one can become mindful of each succeeding thought, making each thought the object of attention, watching the mind react to each thought and watching the thoughts simply rise and fall. One may also turn the attention to an object, a thought or emotion, that will bring calm and peacefulness, such as an image of the Buddha, a flower garden, or a sunset. Or one can focus on the breath as it flows throughout the body, or one can take several deep breaths and focus the attention specifically on the rising and falling of the abdomen. e. Doubt and uncertainty refer specifically to concerns that arise concering one's spiritual path, such as whether the meditation technique or one’s teacher is right or whether another might be better, whether the teachings are beneficial, whether the time and place for practice are right, whether the sangha, group, or organization is helpful, or whether the extent of and manner of committing oneself is appropriate.

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These concerns can be dealt with by reflecting on the historical and universal acceptance of the practice and the scientifically proven benefits experienced by oneself and others; by cultivating confidence and faith balanced by understanding and wisdom; by discussing experiences with respected teachers and other students; and, most importantly, by weighing the positive progress of oneself and others against any harm or lack of progress. Insights into the unsatisfactory, impermanent and impersonal nature of reality and one's illusory sense of self can be both liberating and painful. When accompanied by unpleasant feelings, emotions, and thoughts, these insights may lead to doubts and uncertainty regarding the immediate and ultimate benefits of the path. Only careful and critical examination of one's personal experiences and aspirations can determine whether the doubts or uncertainties that arise are appropriate, and a change in the meditation practice or a different teacher is called for, or whether such doubts reflect one of the aforementioned hindrances to be overcome through continued practice. An experienced and trusted teacher can be very helpful in such an assessment. It should be emphasized that the primary way to overcome any hindrance is always mindfulness, to become mindful of the hindrance when it first arises, to let go of it and return to the breath, and to repeat this process. This process should be repeated as often as the hindrance continues to arise until it is gradually weakened and disappears. Other means are used only when mindfulness and letting go fail to weaken and overcome the hindrance. 2. The Five Aggregates of Clinging, according to Buddha, create the illusion of an independent and autonomous self: They are (1) body or material form, (2) feelings, (3) perceptions, (4) mental formations, and (5) consciousness. Each of these should be
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contemplated as follows: "This is body, material form, this is the arising of material form, and this is the passing away of material form, " and so forth, using the other four aggregates. Furthermore, as was done with the hindrances, each of the aggregates of clinging should be observed internally, as it functions within oneself, and externally, as it functions in others. The process of the aggregate coming-to-be in the mind and the process of its dissolution should also be observed. Or one should just be mindful of the presence of the aggregate until understanding and full awareness come about. a. Body or Material Form: The previous section on the First Foundation of Mindfulness deals with additional means of contemplating the aggregate of Material Form and the Body. b. Feelings: One should be mindful of the presence or absence of feelings, how they arise and pass away, are manifest within oneself and others, come-to-be and are dissolved, or just be mindful of their presence until understanding and full awareness come about. The previous section on the Second Foundation of Mindfulness deals with additional means of contemplating the aggregate of Feelings. c. Perceptions: Perceptions constitute the aggregate or mental factor responsible for identification, discrimination, classification, categorization, and evaluation. One should be mindful of the presence or absence of perceptions, how they arise and pass away, manifest within oneself and others, and come-tobe and are dissolved. Or one should just be mindful of their presence until understanding and full awareness occur. Perception is that aggregate which notes and remembers the distinguishing qualities of an object and is critical in recognition and memory. Like feelings, perceptions are innate, conditioned,
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and learned, so they arise spontaneously based on previous experiences. They may be weakened, strengthened, and modified by new experiences, depending on the associated mental formations—thoughts, emotions and intentions—which occur in reacting to them. Becoming mindful of spontaneous perceptions when they spontaneously arise and then the volitional intentions following them provide opportunities to purposefully influence subsequent perceptions and reactions. Mindfulness makes possible the training and control of mind and the influence of future karma. d. Mental Formations: Mental formations, the fourth aggregate of clinging, refer to all volitional, intellectual, thoughts, emotions, and all cognitive experiences which are concocted, compounded, elaborated, developed, and formed in response to feelings and perceptions. While the aggregates of feelings, perceptions, and mind states are also mental formations, the term here is used to emphasize the specifically compounded reactions to feelings, perceptions, and mind states. One should be mindful the presence or absence of a mental formations, how they arise and pass away, manifest within oneself and others, and come-to-be and are dissolved. Or one should just be mindful of their presence until understanding and full awareness occur. The specific mental formation referred to as the volitional or intentional factor is particularly emphasized because of its critical role in determining future karma and experience. Wholesome intentions lead to immediate or future positive consequences, and unwholesome intentions lead to immediate or future negative consequences.

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e. Consciousness: One should be mindful of the presence or absence of consciousness, how it arises and pass away, manifests within oneself and others, and comes-to-be and is dissolved. Or one should just be mindful of its presence until understanding and full awareness occur. The previous section on the Third Foundation of Mindfulness deals with additional means of contemplating Consciousness and Mind States. Our sense of self, our personality, our ego arises out of the continuous, ever-changing interaction of all of these aggregates. Every individual has a unique and continually changing set of aggregates that depend on his or her continually changing experiences. And because of memory, each persons tends to identify with, become attached to, and cling to his or her habitually conditioned unique set as “me,” “I,” "my personality," or “myself" and this illusory self presumes ownership as “mine” of the person’s mental experiences and physical property. Such identification may be predominately with a particular aggregate and result in greater attachment to it. For example, one person may cling especially to the body and place importance on beauty, youth, athletic ability, or sexual performance. Another may identify more with mental formations, such as a professor or cleric. Another may be more attached to feelings and perceptions, such as an artist, musician, homemaker, or caretaker. And, of course, the aggregates persons identify with or become attached to change depending on time, place, and circumstance, because attachment itself is impermanent and depends on changing causes and conditions. Contemplating the five aggregates of clinging, observing the rising and falling nature of each aggregate and its components, observing how they continually interact to produce experience, and observing their ever-changing impermanent and
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interdependent nature leads to insight into the illusory nature of any permanent, autonomous, independent, or controllable self. The aggregates constituting the sense of a self, like all phenomena, are impermanent, rise and fall from moment to moment, and depend on causes and conditions. So, craving, clinging or attaching to any of them as I, me, mine, or myself only causes suffering. 3. The Six Sense Organs, the Six Sense Objects, and the Six Sense Consciousnesses: Eye-visible form-seeing, ear-soundhearing, nose-smell-smelling, tongue-taste-tasting, body-tactile objects/temperature-sensing, mind-mind objectscognizing/thinking. Mindfulness in terms of the Six Sense Organs and Six Sense Objects refers especially to the accompanying fetters that impede spiritual growth, which arise dependent on contact between a sense organ and sense object, how the fetter is abandoned, and why it may not arise in the future. Ten important fetters are desire, ill will or anger, pride or conceit, false view, doubt, belief in rites and ceremonies, desire for a good or better existence now or after death, envy or jealousy of the possessions or prosperity of others, avarice or stinginess, and ignorance, which accompanies all other fetters. The task is to become mindful of the conscious contact between a sense organ and its object as soon as possible after it occurs and to be mindful of any resulting fetter in order to weaken and prevent unwholesome thoughts and their manifestation in speech and behavior. 4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment: These are mindfulness, investigation of mental objects, energy, rapture, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity. The person knows when the enlightenment factor, and each of the other factors, is present or
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not present in the mind, how it arises, and how it is perfected. These factors are cultivated and perfected sequentially, i.e., each factor depends on the cultivation and perfection of the previous factors. 5. The Four Noble Truths: These Truths are (1) the Universality of Suffering or Unsatisfactoriness, (3) the Origin of Suffering in Attachment to Desires, Aversions, and the Illusory Sense of Self, (3), the End of Suffering through Spiritual Growth and Enlightenment, and (4) The Way to End Suffering through practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Nobel Eightfold Path consist of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. The Noble Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Way to End Suffering because it emphasizes moderation, restraint, and transcendence, rather than the extreme indulgence of desires or severe deprivation of needs These Eight Steps are the last teachings referred to in the Satipatthana Sutra or the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. So, I will conclude this discussion by elaborating briefly on them because they so exquisitely summarize all of the Buddha’s teachings on how to end suffering and attain enlightenment. It should be noted that they are called “Right Steps” or “Right Practices,” not in the sense of being righteous, but because they are considered wise, beneficial, and skillful. 1. Right Understanding: Right Understanding refers to correct understanding of the Four Noble Truths: First, suffering, discontent, or unsatisfactoriness is universal. Second, it is caused by attachment to desires, aversions, and the illusion of an independent, autonomous, and separate sense of self or ego. Third, It can be eliminated and the bliss of enlightenment attained
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by transcending the sense of self or ego and realizing that everybody and everything is interconnected. And fourth, suffering can be overcome and our already enlightened nature realized by practicing the steps on the Noble Eightfold Path. 2. Right Thought (Intention): Refrain from negative thoughts and unwholesome thinking related to greed, anger, harming, and self-centeredness. And cultivate wholesome and harmonious thoughts related to selfless detachment, renunciation, gratitude, generosity, good will, nonviolence, lovingkindness, compassion, appreciate and altruistic joy in the happiness and good fortune of others, and peaceful equanimity, 3. Right Speech: Refrain from lying, deception, and exaggeration; slander, gossip, divisive, and malicious speech; harsh, abusive, and profane speech; and useless, idle, and unnecessary speech. And practice truthfulness and kind speech. 4. Right Action: Refrain from killing and harming living beings; stealing, exploitation, and taking what is not freely given; abusive and inappropriate sexuality and inappropriate and excessive indulgence of any of the senses; and abusing alcohol, drugs, and toxic entertainment and conversations. And practice lovingkindness, compassion, and generosity to others and to yourself. 5. Right Livelihood: Refrain from earning a living or profiting by any means that directly or indirectly causes harm to yourself or others, such as occupations involving cheating, exploitation, deception, and greed; trade in living beings, such as slavery, prostitution, raising animals for slaughter, and butchery; or trade in weapons, meat, poisons, and intoxicants. 6. Right Effort: Diligently, courageously, energetically, and persistently practice cultivating and strengthening wholesome,
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skillful, beneficial, and positive thoughts, speech, and behaviors, and eliminating, avoiding, and letting go of unwholesome, unskillful, harmful, divisive and negative thoughts, speech, and behaviors. 7. Right Mindfulness: Practice meditation and mindful observance of moment-to-moment sensations, perceptions, feelings, emotions, and thoughts without impulsively and unconsciousness reacting with judgements, decisions, commentaries, and stories. 8. Right Concentration: Practice the sustained presentmoment mindfulness that leads to weakening attachments; transcending desires, aversions, and the sense of an autonomous, independent self; and attaining the mental states of pure joy, equanimity, and happiness that are not dependent on external or interval events. SUMMARY OF THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS: !. Mindfulness of the Body: Breath and other body sensations Postures Activities Four elements Thirty-two body parts Nine cemetery contemplations 2. Mindfulness of Feelings: Pleasant Unpleasant Neutral And weather each of the above is worldly or spiritual

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3. Mindfulness of Consciousness and Mind States or 42 qualities that accompany the arising of consciousness, including thinking, imagining, moods, emotions, intentions, etc.) Whether or not mindfulness of mind states is present. Whether the mind state of intention underlying thoughts, emotions, speech, and behaviors is ethically wholesome, unwholesome, or mixed. Whether or not mind states are rooted in the defilements of desire, aversion, or delusion. Whether or not mind states are scattered, distracted, exulted, or concentrated. 4. Mindfulness of Dharmas or Mind Objects (physical and mental objects of experience, especially those referred to in the following five specific teachings of the Buddha: a. Five Hindrances in Meditation and maintaining Mindfulness throughout the day”: Desires Aversions Sloth and torpor or laziness and drowsiness Restlessness, remorse, and worry Doubt and uncertainty b. Five Aggregates of Clinging: These hereditary and conditioned, ever-changing, interacting aggregates constitute the whole of personality, ego, and sense of a separate self that exists at any given moment. The memory of and attachment to them results in the illusory sense of an autonomous, independent, and enduring self. Material form (the body and physical phenomena) Feelings Perceptions
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Mental Formations (especially, volitional intentions) Consciousness c. Six Sense Organs, Six Sense Objects, Six Sense Consciousnesses, and the Fetters that may arise with them: Eye-visible form-seeing Ear-sound-hearing Nose-smell-smelling Tongue-taste-tasting Body-tactile objects and temperature—sensing Mind-mental objects-cognizing and thinking A fetter is any object that impedes spiritual growth. Ten important fetters are sense desire, ill will or anger, pride or conceit, false view, doubt, belief in rites and ceremonies, desire for a good or better existence now or after death, envy or jealousy of the possessions or prosperity of others, avarice or stinginess, and ignorance, which accompanies all the other fetters. d. Seven Factors of Enlightenment Mindfulness Investigation Energy Rapture Tranquility Concentration Equanimity e. Four Noble Truths The universality of suffering The origin of suffering in attachment to desire, aversion, and the illusory sense of self
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The end of suffering through spiritual growth and enlightenment The way to end suffering through practice of the Middle Way or Eightfold Path: Right Understanding Right Thought (Intention) Right Speech Right Action Right Livelihood Right Effort Right Mindfulness Right Concentration REFERENCES Mahasatipatthana Sutta, Digha Nikaya: The Long Discourses of the Buddha (Chapter 22), translated by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, 1987. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Satipatthana Sutta (14 Cassette Tapes), @ l992. Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Noble Eightfold Path (Chapter VI), Buddhist Publication Society, 1994. Venerable U Silananda, The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Wisdom Publications, 1990. Matthew Flickstein, Swallowing the River Ganges: A Five DayTraining Course for Aspiring Dharma Teachers, 1998 S.N. Goenka, Satipatthana Sutta, Vipassana Research Publications, 1998 Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Parallax Press, 1989. Thich Nhat Hanh, Transformation and Healing: Sutra on the Four Ewstablishments of Mindfulness, Parallax Press, 1990. ___________________

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* Revised 1-10. Contact Charlie Day at 515-255-8398, charlesday1@mchsi.com, or www.desmoinesmeditation.org for more information about meditation, Buddhism, sitting groups, retreats, or to discuss meditation experiences.

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