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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:18 am
by Dmytro
Alex123 wrote:If we look the context in which sati occurs, it suggests far more than mere bare awareness.
Dhammānussati, saṅghānussati, sīlānussati, cāgānussati,devatānussati, ānāpānassati,maraṇassati, kāyagatāsati, upasamānussati...
As the Satipatthana-Vibhanga explains 'sati' in the context of Satipatthana:

“Satimā” ti. Tattha, katamā sati?
“Mindful”. Herein, what is mindfulness?

Yā sati anussati paṭissati sati saraṇatā,
That which is mindfulness, recollection, recall, mindfulness, remembrance,

dhāraṇatā apilāpanatā asammussanatā,
bearing (in mind), not losing, not confusing,

sati 17 Satindriyaṁ Satibalaṁ Sammāsati – ayaṁ vuccati “sati”.
mindfulness, the Faculty of Mindfulness, the Strength of Mindfulness, Right Mindfulness – this is called “mindfulness”.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:31 am
by tiltbillings
Dmytro wrote:
Alex123 wrote:If we look the context in which sati occurs, it suggests far more than mere bare awareness.
Dhammānussati, saṅghānussati, sīlānussati, cāgānussati,devatānussati, ānāpānassati,maraṇassati, kāyagatāsati, upasamānussati...
As the Satipatthana-Vibhanga explains 'sati' in the context of Satipatthana:

“Satimā” ti. Tattha, katamā sati?
“Mindful”. Herein, what is mindfulness?

Yā sati anussati paṭissati sati saraṇatā,
That which is mindfulness, recollection, recall, mindfulness, remembrance,

dhāraṇatā apilāpanatā asammussanatā,
bearing (in mind), not losing, not confusing,

sati 17 Satindriyaṁ Satibalaṁ Sammāsati – ayaṁ vuccati “sati”.
mindfulness, the Faculty of Mindfulness, the Strength of Mindfulness, Right Mindfulness – this is called “mindfulness”.
Interestingly, this text does not contradict Gethin or Vens Bodhi and Nyanaponika.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:35 am
by Dmytro
tiltbillings wrote:Do give us an example of a translation that is not corrupted by Ven Nyanaponika. Let us see what a pure translation, non-corrupted by a particular understanding translation, looks like.
If I may ask, who are the plural 'us' on behalf of whom you are speaking?

And why does this group of people think that Ven Nyanaponika's translation is "corrupted"? I wouldn't say so.

Why should I present here a 'pure translation'? IMHO, a vibrant and living tradition, is alive with the discussion of the key terms. The open discussion of terms is what allows for a future translations to be better.

Since I am a native speaker of Ukrainian and Russian, I work on the translations in these languages, sharing with you my research of the key terms.
I know this research has already been useful for some native English speakers who work on new English translations.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:43 am
by Dmytro
tiltbillings wrote:And it seems like Gethin, in his essay ON SOME DEFINITIONS OF MINDFULNESS, has no problem with "presence of mind" as indicating an aspect of sati, and we see him using both "remember" and 'presence of mind" in the same sentence as indicating aspects of sati:
Are there any problems with 'presence of mind'?

"Definition of PRESENCE OF MIND

: self-control so maintained in an emergency or in an embarrassing situation that one can say or do the right thing"

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictiona ... 0of%20mind" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"Sati" is indeed maintained in such a way thay one can say or do a right thing.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:48 am
by tiltbillings
Dmytro wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Do give us an example of a translation that is not corrupted by Ven Nyanaponika. Let us see what a pure translation, non-corrupted by a particular understanding translation, looks like.
If I may ask, who are the plural 'us' on behalf of whom you are speaking?
Those of us who are reading this thread.
And why does this group of people think that Ven Nyanaponika's translation is "corrupted"? I wouldn't say so.
You seemed to imply that there is a problem with Ven Bodhi's Ven Nyanaponika influenced translations, but if that is not the case, then I am glad to be wrong and delighted to be corrected.
Why should I present here a 'pure translation'? IMHO, a vibrant and living tradition, is alive with the discussion of the key terms. The open discussion of terms is what allows for a future translations to be better.
A vibrant and living tradition, yes, very much so, which is why something such "bare attention" warrants discussion as an idea that helps bring out, highlight, aspects of awareness practice. I find the dismissals of bare attention unfortunate, especially some of the more remarkably stupid ones that liken it to what a sniper does or what an animal or child does. There is definitely value in wanting clarify what is meant by the term and by the practice, and there is value in criticizing some of the fluffy-bunny notions of that tend to divorce it from it Dhamma context.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:55 am
by Dmytro
Hi Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:I have to confess that, try as I might, I find it very difficulty to apply remembrance/recollection as a function of sati in the context of the Satipaṭṭhāna suttas.

Leave aside the fact that sarati as a verb does not pop up. It just feels odd that sati as memory is to be established (paccupaṭṭhita), when all the operative verbs are pajānāti (discerns), sampajānakārī (applies awareness). These all point to something going on when dealing with present-time experiences, especially in the contemplation of feelings where the present participle vediyamāna is employed. What should one be remembering, especially when the most basic formula of mindfulness is reduced to simply -
Atthi (subject of mindfulness)ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya patissatimattāya

...just enough for ñāṇa, just enough for patissati
Satipatthana suttas don't and shouldn't explain the functions of 'sati' - they explain the four ways of establishing 'sati' (sati-upatthana).

The mathematically concise formula from the Satipatthana sutta:

Atthi dhammā ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya patissatimattāya

"Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

is explained in more detail in Dvedhavitakka sutta:

"Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: While resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of 'those cows.' In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of 'those mental qualities.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This formula refers to a certain stage of practice which Ven Thanissaro Bhikkhu calls 'non-fashioning'.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:07 am
by Dmytro
tiltbillings wrote:Those of us who are reading this thread.
AFAIK, everyone reading this thread poses questions and posts messages on his own.
You seemed to imply that there is a problem with Ven Bodhi's Ven Nyanaponika influenced translations, but if that is not the case, then I am glad to be wrong and delighted to be corrected.
I highly respect Ven Bodhi's and Nyanaponika's work. I think they would agree that there is a space for further impovement - and that's what I would like to happen.
A vibrant and living tradition, yes, very much so, which is why something such "bare attention" warrants discussion as an idea that helps bring out, highlight, aspects of awareness practice. I find the dismissals of bare attention unfortunate, especially some of the more remarkably stupid ones that liken it to what a sniper does or what an animal or child does. There is definitely value in wanting clarify what is meant by the term and by the practice, and there is value in criticizing some of the fluffy-bunny notions of that tend to divorce it from it Dhamma context.
I don't dismiss 'bare attention'. May it be used by those who find it useful. It certainly has its merits.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:08 am
by tiltbillings
Dmytro wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:And it seems like Gethin, in his essay ON SOME DEFINITIONS OF MINDFULNESS, has no problem with "presence of mind" as indicating an aspect of sati, and we see him using both "remember" and 'presence of mind" in the same sentence as indicating aspects of sati:
Are there any problems with 'presence of mind'?

"Definition of PRESENCE OF MIND

: self-control so maintained in an emergency or in an embarrassing situation that one can say or do the right thing"

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictiona ... 0of%20mind" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"Sati" is indeed maintained in such a way that one can say or do a right thing.
Yes, well, speaking as a native speaker, doing something with "presence of mind" also implies, carries the idea of, being attentive, focused in doing a task. And notice that Gethin, I would say quite correctly, stated: The characterization of mindfulness as guarding and as like a gatekeeper seems closely related to mindfulness in its capacities of remembering and presence of mind, which is to say, highlighting two aspects of sati/mindfulness -- remembering and presence of mind. The point being that sati is far more than merely remembering.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:21 am
by Dmytro
tiltbillings wrote:Yes, well, speaking as a native speaker, doing something with "presence of mind" also implies, carries the idea of, being attentive, focused in doing a task. And notice that Gethin, I would say quite correctly, stated: The characterization of mindfulness as guarding and as like a gatekeeper seems closely related to mindfulness in its capacities of remembering and presence of mind, which is to say, highlighting two aspects of sati/mindfulness -- remembering and presence of mind. The point being that sati is far more than merely remembering.
It's a very specific remembrance - to apply the 'four right efforts', which alerts to be attentive and focused on the task, as illustrated by your quote from Gethin's article:
tiltbillings wrote:
  • That mindfulness is seen as entailing the accomplishment of a sustained
    presence of mind is perhaps brought out by a particularly vivid simile (S V, 170).
    Mindfulness of the body is likened to the case of a man who must pay attention to
    a bowl brim full of oil that he is carrying on his head. The man must do this before
    a crowd that has gathered to watch the most beautiful girl of the land as she
    dances and sings; and as the man moves between the girl and the crowd with
    bowl on his head, he is followed by another man with a drawn sword who, if he
    spills so much as a drop of the oil, will cut of his head. In such circumstances, it is
    suggested, the man will pay very careful attention to the bowl of oil on his head
    and not be distracted by the crowd or girl; with a similar quality of attention the
    monk should cultivate mindfulness of the body.
    page 274

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:44 am
by tiltbillings
Dmytro wrote:
It's a very specific remembrance - to apply the 'four right efforts', which alerts to be attentive and focused on the task, as illustrated by your quote from Gethin's article:
That mindfulness is seen as entailing the accomplishment of a sustained
presence of mind
is perhaps brought out by a particularly vivid simile (S V, 170).
Mindfulness of the body is likened to the case of a man who must pay attention to
a bowl brim full of oil that he is carrying on his head.
It would seem, by the words Gethin uses here, that the point is that sati, mindfulness, is a bit more than "remembrance." Or "remembrance" is being extended considerably in its meaning, beyond its usual meaning -- mindfulness, sustained presence of mind, paying attention. Sati: mindfulness in its capacities of remembering and presence of mind, an attentive awareness in the moment.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:34 am
by Dinsdale
Dmytro wrote:Some teachers write works specifically addressed to the misconception of 'paying attention' as the whole practice, e.g. Sayadaw U Tejaniya, "Awareness Alone Is Not Enough".
Yes, point taken. I can see that mindfulness has various dimensions, and that acting mindfully is an important one - though I do regard "paying attention" as the foundation of the practice.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:30 am
by Sylvester
Dmytro wrote: Satipatthana suttas don't and shouldn't explain the functions of 'sati' - they explain the four ways of establishing 'sati' (sati-upatthana).

The mathematically concise formula from the Satipatthana sutta:

Atthi dhammā ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya patissatimattāya

"Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thanks Dmytro.

I think the jury is still out on this, since various translators render patissati differently. Both Ven T and Ven Soma have it as "remembrance", while Ven Nyanasatta and the MLDB render it as "mindfulness". To my mind, those refrains which employ the verb pajānāti as evidence of sati being paccupaṭṭhita (established, stationed) seem easier to interpret as simply knowing or being aware, without memory intruding, or even an instruction guiding the process. Perhaps the remembrance aspect of sati is not at the time of the "contemplation"/anupassanā, but rather, sati facilitates recall? This facilitative aspect of sati towards enabling memory seems to be the point in AN 7.63 which you cited earlier.

is explained in more detail in Dvedhavitakka sutta:

"Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: While resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of 'those cows.' In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of 'those mental qualities.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I would agree with this. I note that the satikaraṇīya (lit. doing sati) after the harvest is a lot more relaxed, and perhaps even indulgent. The presence of the cow/good mental states are simply known, unlike the earlier efforts at curbing the cow/bad mental states because he "realises"/passati the disadvantages in letting the cow or bad mental states roam. What I take away from MN 19 is that the passati is the outcome of remembering the work to be done, whereupon the right kind of Right Effort is then brought up to deal with the gross defilements.

Yet, I wonder if sometimes, too much of the wrong type of effort is applied when the hindrances are already subdued to a subtle state. The 4th part of Right Effort is directed towards the maintenance of the positive states that have been aroused. How much energy should be directed to this? AN 3.102 develops the theme further than MN 19's program towards dispelling sensual thoughts etc. We do have the injunction in AN 3.102 to give up dhammavitakkā as the subtlest form of defilement. Should one be remembering things at this point, or should one simply be "aware"?

In fact, at MN 19, the Bodhisatta's practice of meditation also uses the verb pajānāmi, where the Bodhisatta "sees" that the bad mental states lead to affliction. This sort of seeing seems direct and does not appear to be mediated by memory, but simply by insight. That very seeing allows the Bodhisatta to paṭisañcikkhati/consider the afflictions that flow from each mental state. This process simply ends when the defilement "just" disappears (abbhatthaṃ gacchati). The 2 meditation verbs here do not seem to me to be marshalling great amounts of memory, especially in the context of MN 19 where the Bodhisatta seemed to have been conducting an experiment, ie no prior experience to fall back on.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:40 am
by tiltbillings
Sylvester wrote: . . .
Good stuff. Thanks.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:20 am
by Hanzze
There is no such thing as "seeing" (insight) at the stage of mindful, how could that be?

'There are mental qualities' for expample needs comparison to come to the conclusion of 'There are mental qualities'. Mindfullness without the function of remembering can be nothing but dullness, of cause it could be also concentration but I doubt it, if sati is understood as "being just aware"

I also wonder how somebody would watch his cows, while not constantly remembering them. In daydreaming the cows would get simply lost. The cowherd is simply more relexed as the cows would no more damage the fruits. Still he is watching them to get not lost.

This sutta may point more out to the preconditions for mindfulness.

Re: Pali Term: Sati

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:54 am
by Dmytro
Hi Sylvester,

As Hanzze wrote above, one has to remember what exactly to watch for and what to do regarding the observations.

Nagara sutta (AN 7.63) you mentioned says: "With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the disciple of the ones abandons what is unskillful, develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy, develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity."

Even if the cows are in their proper pasture, and one can relax, it's important to remember about the cows.
Yet, I wonder if sometimes, too much of the wrong type of effort is applied when the hindrances are already subdued to a subtle state. The 4th part of Right Effort is directed towards the maintenance of the positive states that have been aroused. How much energy should be directed to this?
That's a good question.

An extended description of fourth right effort in Samvarappadhana sutta involves keeping the attention on certain perceptual image (nimitta) or selective recognition (sanna):

katamañca bhikkhave anurakkhaṇappadhānaṃ? Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu uppannaṃ bhaddakaṃ samādhinimittaṃ anurakkhati aṭṭhikasaññaṃ pulavakasaññaṃ vinīlakasaññaṃ vipubbakasaññaṃ vicchiddakasaññaṃ uddhumātakasaññaṃ. Idaṃ vuccati bhikkhave anurakkhaṇappadhānaṃ.

http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ggo-p.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

That's a very subtle effort. In some other suttas (e.g. Vitakka-santhana sutta MN 20, Capala sutta AN 7.58 ) Buddha also recommends redirecting the attention as a foremost and preferable method. Such effort is almost unnoticeable.
In fact, at MN 19, the Bodhisatta's practice of meditation also uses the verb pajānāmi, where the Bodhisatta "sees" that the bad mental states lead to affliction. This sort of seeing seems direct and does not appear to be mediated by memory, but simply by insight. That very seeing allows the Bodhisatta to paṭisañcikkhati/consider the afflictions that flow from each mental state. This process simply ends when the defilement "just" disappears (abbhatthaṃ gacchati). The 2 meditation verbs here do not seem to me to be marshalling great amounts of memory, especially in the context of MN 19 where the Bodhisatta seemed to have been conducting an experiment, ie no prior experience to fall back on.
How could the Bodhisatta steadily see and discern two kind of thoughts, and apply proper efforts, if he didn't maintain the remembrance of what he was doing?
Sati is the necessary start for any purposeful activity, and it is always useful. In the sequence of the "Seven Awakening factors", described in MN 19, it is on the first place.