The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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mikenz66
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:59 am

That's the way I see it. The whole issue seems quaintly irrelevant scholasticism to me. There are so many mentions of mindfulness of body, breath, feelings, mind states, dhammas in many suttas. It is necessary to consult a variety of suttas to get a full picture, so I don't see the practical importance of the "controversy".

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by Javi » Mon May 11, 2015 12:50 pm

I agree with you guys that at the end of the day the composite nature of the Satipatthana sutta is not a big deal -indeed most Buddhist texts we have are probably composites like this. However I don't think it's irrelevant. Having an understanding of how the texts we read evolved is important, and a cross textual approach allows to surmise which elements are earlier, or part of the original formula of meditation practice. This is not to attack or demean any modern practices which use later traditions or textual recensions (though some scholars do this) but to get a richer and more well rounded understanding of all dhamma practices and their history.

Reading Analayo's work has helped me immensely. It can get very complex and scholarly sometimes but its worth it because you gain a better appreciation of the text and how it all comes together. Also reading the Chinese Madhyama Agama version side by side with the MN version is very eye opening - I think its a good balance since I do agree with Sujato on this point which is that the Pali one seems to lean towards insight as its core practice - hence the expansion of the dhammas section and addition of the 'refrain' - while the Sarvastivadin Agama seems to stress samatha - including jhana descriptions. I also enjoyed Sujato's reconstruction of the Satipatthana Ur-text (or root text) and I think it makes a lot of sense here though at the end of the day these things are very difficult.

What matters here is that Buddhist meditation was and is a very broad tent and I'm happy to see scholarship opening up that tent.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon May 11, 2015 7:54 pm

Javi wrote:I agree with you guys that at the end of the day the composite nature of the Satipatthana sutta is not a big deal -indeed most Buddhist texts we have are probably composites like this.
That's abundantly clear. It seems that it is by the standardized patterns and repetitions that they were assembled and memorised. Clearly many of the SN suttas, for example, are highly standardized, listing all of the possible variations on a theme.
Javi wrote: However I don't think it's irrelevant. Having an understanding of how the texts we read evolved is important, and a cross textual approach allows to surmise which elements are earlier, or part of the original formula of meditation practice.
Well, for one thing, there are many hints in the suttas that there was plenty of personal instruction in addition to the sutta summaries. So searching for "the original meditation practice" in the suttas may be futile. Furthermore, in the case of the satipatthana sutta, all of the parts are present in many other suttas. So whether the aggregates, noble truths, or the refrain about rise and fall of phenomena are mentioned in other versions, says nothing about the earliness or lateness of those ideas.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by Javi » Tue May 12, 2015 5:32 pm

So whether the aggregates, noble truths, or the refrain about rise and fall of phenomena are mentioned in other versions, says nothing about the earliness or lateness of those ideas.
It's not that those ideas are late is that they were added later to the satipatthana formula.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue May 12, 2015 7:38 pm

Yes, I realise that. However, that would only be of practical concern if one's approach was based on only one sutta, and one saw it as a linear series of instruction to be worked though from start to finish.

As I see it, the sutta is one collection (out of thousands of suttas) of possible objects of contemplation, within the four-foundations framework. One can also consult the Satipatthana Samyutta, various suttas on Mindfulness of of the Body, Mindfulness of Breathing, postures, body parts, charnal grounds, feelings, elements, mind states, hindrances, aggregates, factors of enlightenment, four noble truths, etc.

Exactly how one makes use of these objects is a matter of experience, ingenuity, background, preference, etc. It is, in my view, most effectivly done with the guidance of a teacher/experienced companion, as suggested in a number of suttas:
"As for the individual who has attained neither internal tranquillity of awareness nor insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, he should approach an individual who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment... and ask him, 'How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated? How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'The mind should be steadied in this way. The mind should be made to settle down in this way. The mind should be unified in this way. The mind should be concentrated in this way. Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Or, see the introductory portions of the Mindfulness of Breathing sutta, which describes a meditation retreat with senior bhikkhus instructing junior ones.

Some teachers suggest building concentration with the breath to a certain level, then focussing on certain objects (the approach Goenaka teaches, with senation/feeling as the main focus). Others use a grounding object (such as breath) to develop concentration, while also investigating the other objects as they arise (e.g. Mahasi, Thanissaro). And so on. Given the variety of suggestions given in the Satipatthana and other suttas, I don't see any practical issue with any of these approaches.

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by Javi » Fri May 15, 2015 2:04 pm

I agree that we need to interpret the sutta in the context of all the others - in what's called the hermeneutic circle if you will. To understand that context better, we use history and textual analysis to understand how those texts evolved and how they are structured. So its clearly not irrelevant scholasticism.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by mikenz66 » Fri May 15, 2015 9:43 pm

Sure, it can be useful at times. What I was pointing out, though, was that the various lists that may or may not have been added to the Pali version, or lost from other versions, are not "late ideas". They are core lists, such as the Noble Truths, so their addition is, to me, of no consequence. The sutta, after all, seems to be just a list of possible objects, not a step-by-step progression (though the four foundations do seem to be progressively more subtle).

The additions in the Satipatthana sutta are, therefore, is in stark contrast with some other suttas that show signs of later developments. An obvious one is the mundane/supramundane distinctions of MN117 The Great Forty, which appear to be part of abhidhammic developments:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 341#p16848
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 92#p212610

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:34 am

sphairos wrote:
Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:03 pm
In fact, satipaṭṭhāna may very well represent the Buddha's personal final teaching, the comprehensive meditation system, which he designated in the end of his teaching life. Thus the minor textual inconsistencies may reflect the great effort of codification and loss prevention of his greatest and latest personal teaching (built upon jhāna, ānāpānasati, kāyagatāsati, kkhandhā-analysis-meditation etc.).
The marks/qualities of the teachings of the Buddha, which the Satipatthana Sutta does not accord to, include:
"[1] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'

"[2] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
MN 118 Anapanasati Sutta is taught with the above qualities; as is each of the 37 Bodhipakkhiyādhammā. But not Satipatthana Sutta, which includes non-pleasant feelings after the calming of the breath and includes all sorts of dhammas in the 4th satipatthana, such as the five hindrances, which should be overcome or understood at the start of practise.

In support of Ajahn Sujato, a most unlikely supporter is (the late) Ajahn Buddhadasa who said, probably before Bhikkhu Sujato was even born:
They cling to the satipatthana of the Digha-nikaya (Long Discourses) which is not anything more than a long list of names, a lengthy catalogue of sets of dhammas. Although there are whole bunches of dhammas, no way of practice is given or explained there. This is what is generally taken to be satipatthana. Then it is adjusted and rearranged into these and those practices, which become new systems that are called satipatthana practices or meditation.*

Then, the followers of such techniques deny, or even despise, the Anapanasati approach, asserting that it is not satipatthana. In truth, Anapanasati is the heart of satipatthana, the heart of all four foundations of mindfulness. The 16 Steps is a straight-forward and clear practice, not just a list of names or dhammas like in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha-nikaya#22**).

The Anapanasati Sutta, on the other hand, shows how to practice the four foundations in a systematic progression that ends with emancipation from all dukkha. The sixteen steps work through the four foundations, each one developing upon the previous, and supporting the next. Practice all sixteen steps fully and the heart of the satipatthana arises perfectly. In short, the Satipatthana Suttas are only lists of names. The Anapanasati Sutta clearly shows how to practice the four foundations without anything extra or surplus. It does not mention unrelated matters. (B.4)

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhik ... athing.htm

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by sphairos » Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:37 am

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:34 am
sphairos wrote:
Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:03 pm
In fact, satipaṭṭhāna may very well represent the Buddha's personal final teaching, the comprehensive meditation system, which he designated in the end of his teaching life. Thus the minor textual inconsistencies may reflect the great effort of codification and loss prevention of his greatest and latest personal teaching (built upon jhāna, ānāpānasati, kāyagatāsati, kkhandhā-analysis-meditation etc.).
The marks/qualities of the teachings of the Buddha, which the Satipatthana Sutta does not accord to, include:
"[1] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'

"[2] The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
MN 118 Anapanasati Sutta is taught with the above qualities; as is each of the 37 Bodhipakkhiyādhammā. But not Satipatthana Sutta, which includes non-pleasant feelings after the calming of the breath and includes all sorts of dhammas in the 4th satipatthana, such as the five hindrances, which should be overcome or understood at the start of practise.

In support of Ajahn Sujato, a most unlikely supporter is (the late) Ajahn Buddhadasa who said, probably before Bhikkhu Sujato was even born:
They cling to the satipatthana of the Digha-nikaya (Long Discourses) which is not anything more than a long list of names, a lengthy catalogue of sets of dhammas. Although there are whole bunches of dhammas, no way of practice is given or explained there. This is what is generally taken to be satipatthana. Then it is adjusted and rearranged into these and those practices, which become new systems that are called satipatthana practices or meditation.*

Then, the followers of such techniques deny, or even despise, the Anapanasati approach, asserting that it is not satipatthana. In truth, Anapanasati is the heart of satipatthana, the heart of all four foundations of mindfulness. The 16 Steps is a straight-forward and clear practice, not just a list of names or dhammas like in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha-nikaya#22**).

The Anapanasati Sutta, on the other hand, shows how to practice the four foundations in a systematic progression that ends with emancipation from all dukkha. The sixteen steps work through the four foundations, each one developing upon the previous, and supporting the next. Practice all sixteen steps fully and the heart of the satipatthana arises perfectly. In short, the Satipatthana Suttas are only lists of names. The Anapanasati Sutta clearly shows how to practice the four foundations without anything extra or surplus. It does not mention unrelated matters. (B.4)

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhik ... athing.htm
Don't read Ajahn Sujato and Ajahn Buddhadasa, they are not scholars, and be careful in your claims of understanding the Early Buddhist system of thought.
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:50 am

sphairos wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:37 am
Don't read Ajahn Sujato and Ajahn Buddhadasa, they are not scholars, and be careful in your claims of understanding the Early Buddhist system of thought.
If we don't read Ajahn Sujato and Ajahn Buddhadasa, how can we know anything or comment about them? I think Ajahn Sujato and Ajahn Buddhadasa have a right to their opinions. As for Ajahn Buddhadasa:
1. During 1949-1951, Buddhadasa was appointed by the Sangha to be the fifth regional leader for dhamma propagation throughout the 14 provinces of the South.

2. He was chosen to give an important keynote address on behalf of the official Thai monastic delegation to the Sixth Council held in Rangoon in 1954.

3. He was given numerous Honorary Doctorates by Thai universities. In 1980, the Supreme Patriarch visited him at Suan Mokkh and Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University of Mahanikai Order bestowed on him an Honorary Doctorate of Buddhism. From 1982 to 1988 four State Universities in Thailand bestowed on Buddhadasa Honorary Doctorates.

4. His books, both written and transcribed from talks, fill many shelves at the National Library.

https://pub.uni-bielefeld.de/download/2304034/2304041
Regardless, I think when we post about a topic we should provide evidence for our opinions. I think the personal opinion I personally posted is well-evidenced and well-spoken and, at the very least, worthy of consideration. I can't imagine doing all of the work of completing the 1st three Satipatthana and then, in the 4th Satipatthana, observing the Five Hindrances. My opinion inclines to the Satipatthana Sutta is a forgery. :)

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by SarathW » Thu Aug 02, 2018 3:17 am

The links in the OP are broken.
Does anyone have the new links.
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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by thomaslaw » Sat Aug 04, 2018 2:06 am

Jechbi wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:31 am
I don't hold the view that the Satipatthana Sutta is a forgery. Near the end of this talk, however, it sounds like Ajahn Sujato calls it a forgery, and I'm sure he knows a lot more about these things than I do. In light of this, I'm wondering whether others here might have knowledge about discussions or debate regarding the authenticity of the Satipatthana Sutta.

In this book, Ajahn Sujato offers more details, although he does not come right out and say the sutta is a forgery the way he seems to in the talk referenced above. I imagine some here are familiar with his videos on You Tube in which he offers educated criticism about approaches to meditation based on the sutta (and, worth noting, also offers some praise for them).

Thoughts? Insights? Does it matter?

:thanks:
Yes, the Satipatthana Sutta (in MN and DN) is a forgery. The early suttas on Satipatthana are found in the SN 47 Satipatthana Samyutta and SN 54 Anapana Samyutta; e.g. SN 47.2 and SN 54.1. (Cf. pp. 215-6, 225-6 in the Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism by Choong Mun-keat).

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by SarathW » Sat Aug 04, 2018 2:09 am

Yes, the Satipatthana Sutta (in MN and DN) is a forgery.
Ok. Where does it not compatible with Sutta?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: The Satipatthana Sutta a forgery?

Post by LuisR » Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:06 pm

Jesus christ, just when I really start to tackle and study the Satipatthana sutta to meditate the best way possible I discover this thread. First there is the whole debate on who interprets the Sutta properly....... now it might be a forgery!!!???? I am so confused right now I don't know what to do anymore. :toilet:

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