Pali Term: Sati

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Dinsdale
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:27 am

Dmytro wrote:Buddha clearly defines 'sati' dozens of times in the suttas, and that for me proves everything. You did not provide any Sutta passages which would explain 'sati' as some 'present moment awareness'.
When I read the Satipatthana Sutta I have the sense that sati has the primary meaning of "paying attention".
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Hanzze » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:44 am

What is attention? Does a stone have attention?
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dmytro » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:58 am

porpoise wrote:When I read the Satipatthana Sutta I have the sense that sati has the primary meaning of "paying attention".
Do you read it in Pali?

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dmytro » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:00 pm

Another place where Rupert Gethin explains the original meaning of 'sati' is his excellent book 'The Buddhist Path to Awakening':

"What the Milindapanha account is suggesting, I think, is that sati should be understood as what allows awareness of the full range and extent of dhammas; sati is an awareness of things in relation to things, and hence an awareness of their relative value. Applied to the satipatthanas presumably what this means is that sati is what causes the practitioner of yoga to 'remember' that any feeling he may experience exists in relation to a whole variety or world of feelings that may be skilful or unskilful, with faults or faultless, relatively inferior or refined, dark or pure. The idea is probably clearest with the regard to feeling (vedana), but, of course, should be extended to cover body (kaya), mind (citta) and dhammas."

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:56 pm

Dmytro wrote:Another place where Rupert Gethin explains the original meaning of 'sati' is his excellent book 'The Buddhist Path to Awakening':

"What the Milindapanha account is suggesting, I think, is that sati should be understood as what allows awareness of the full range and extent of dhammas; sati is an awareness of things in relation to things, and hence an awareness of their relative value. Applied to the satipatthanas presumably what this means is that sati is what causes the practitioner of yoga to 'remember' that any feeling he may experience exists in relation to a whole variety or world of feelings that may be skilful or unskilful, with faults or faultless, relatively inferior or refined, dark or pure. The idea is probably clearest with the regard to feeling (vedana), but, of course, should be extended to cover body (kaya), mind (citta) and dhammas."
Which is to say that sati is not simply remembering. From the same book, page 32, Gethin: "What is meant, I think, is that sati is understood as a quality of mind that 'stands near' or 'serves' the mind; it watches over the mind. One might say that it is a form of 'presence of mind'."
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:31 am

Dmytro wrote:
porpoise wrote:When I read the Satipatthana Sutta I have the sense that sati has the primary meaning of "paying attention".
Do you read it in Pali?
No, I'm not fluent in Pali. I suppose I'm assuming that the translations available are broadly correct, and that the meaning of language is dependent on context and can vary.
Do you see a major problem with sati meaning "paying attention" in the context of the Satipattana Sutta, and if so why?
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:33 am

Dmytro wrote:Another place where Rupert Gethin explains the original meaning of 'sati' is his excellent book 'The Buddhist Path to Awakening':

"What the Milindapanha account is suggesting, I think, is that sati should be understood as what allows awareness of the full range and extent of dhammas; sati is an awareness of things in relation to things, and hence an awareness of their relative value. Applied to the satipatthanas presumably what this means is that sati is what causes the practitioner of yoga to 'remember' that any feeling he may experience exists in relation to a whole variety or world of feelings that may be skilful or unskilful, with faults or faultless, relatively inferior or refined, dark or pure. The idea is probably clearest with the regard to feeling (vedana), but, of course, should be extended to cover body (kaya), mind (citta) and dhammas."
This sounds more like the aspect of clear comprehension?
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:05 am

Dmytro wrote:
piotr wrote:It's good to know that he took it from the Bible (Psalm 8:4) where it is used (more or less) in the sense of remembering about somebody.
Thanks for the reference, Piotr:

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour."

There's also another passage from a popular Anglican prayer:

"Give us grateful hearts, our Father,
for all thy [your] mercies,
and make us mindful of the needs of others;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

http://www.askthepriest.org/askthepries ... ealti.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Just tackling the translation problem from the other direction, in case it helps ...
The Bible quote is from the King James version which appeared about 1611.
Merriam-Webster reckons the word 'mindful' goes back to the 14th century.
My Chambers dictionary gives 'mindful', 'mindfully' and 'mindfulness' under the entry for 'mind', with no comment about them being archaic or obscure. A really good dictionary would give first occurrences and usage of all of them, but I haven't got one that good.
Here - http://pasadenatherapist.wordpress.com/ ... ndfulness/ - are 11 fairly modern definitions of 'mindfulness'.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dmytro » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:17 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Which is to say that sati is not simply remembering. From the same book, page 32, Gethin: "What is meant, I think, is that sati is understood as a quality of mind that 'stands near' or 'serves' the mind; it watches over the mind. One might say that it is a form of 'presence of mind'."
Seems like Rupert Gethin's thoughts evolved gradually, and in his recent article "On some definitions of mindfulness" he speaks straightforwardly about 'remembrance' (see post above http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 48#p205436" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ).

It is sometimes hard to break out of the spell of commonly accepted notions.
Last edited by Dmytro on Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Dmytro » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:35 pm

porpoise wrote:No, I'm not fluent in Pali. I suppose I'm assuming that the translations available are broadly correct, and that the meaning of language is dependent on context and can vary.
Do you see a major problem with sati meaning "paying attention" in the context of the Satipattana Sutta, and if so why?
Translations available represent specific schools of meditational practice. For example, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is a student of Ven. Nyanaponika.

When the sutta speaks of everyday events, the translations agree. However the translations of specific meditational terms can broadly vary depending on the school of practice - e.g. 'sign', 'theme' or 'representation'. Who would have thought that these are translations of the one term, 'nimitta', in the identical context?

Understanding of terms informs the practice. For the beginner this may not be a problem, however for the advanced practice good understanding of terms is essential.
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".

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Alex123 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:02 pm

I ask for forgiveness if this was asked and answered before.

Doesn't consciousness already includes attention to something, awareness of?

So one cant cultivate what already is inherently there. But if by sati we mean remembrance of Dhamma*, then that is something beneficial we can do.

*Example: If one sees attractive person, one should remember "mindfulness of the body" (kāyagatāsati).

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...
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:22 pm

Alex123 wrote:I ask for forgiveness if this was asked and answered before.

Doesn't consciousness already includes attention to something, awareness of?

So one cant cultivate what already is inherently there. But if by sati we mean remembrance of Dhamma*, then that is something beneficial we can do.

*Example: If one sees attractive person, one should remember "mindfulness of the body" (kāyagatāsati).

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...
You seem to want to kick poor "bare awareness" in the teeth and then stomp on it some more. The problem is that your "bare awareness" seems to be a straw man. Since this is the "Classical Mahavihara Theravāda" section the answer to your question can be found in "Classical Mahavihara Theravāda" texts and what is "inherently there" can be cultivated.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:38 pm

Dmytro wrote:
porpoise wrote:No, I'm not fluent in Pali. I suppose I'm assuming that the translations available are broadly correct, and that the meaning of language is dependent on context and can vary.
Do you see a major problem with sati meaning "paying attention" in the context of the Satipattana Sutta, and if so why?
Translations available represent specific schools of meditational practice. For example, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is a student of Ven. Nyanaponika.
So he is; however, there are plently of other translations out there. 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.
Understanding of terms informs the practice. For the beginner this may not be a problem, however for the advanced practice good understanding of terms is essential.
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".
That is a standard variation of the Burmese Vipassana practice.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:28 pm

Dmytro wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Which is to say that sati is not simply remembering. From the same book, page 32, Gethin: "What is meant, I think, is that sati is understood as a quality of mind that 'stands near' or 'serves' the mind; it watches over the mind. One might say that it is a form of 'presence of mind'."
Seems like Rupert Gethin's thoughts evolved gradually, and in his recent article "On some definitions of mindfulness" he speaks straightforwardly about 'remembrance' (see post above . . .).

It is sometimes hard to break out of the spell of commonly accepted notions.
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:
  • The term is related in Buddhist texts to two expressions in Pali, mut.t.hā sati and upat.t.hā sati,
    that literally mean ‘mindfulness that is confused’ and ‘mindfulness that is at hand’,
    but which can perhaps be rendered more idiomatically and even exactly as
    ‘absentmindedness’ and ‘presence of mind’. Mindfulness for Buddhist texts, it
    seems, thus has something of the quality of being ‘on the ball’.
    page 271
  • A simile found elsewhere (S IV 194) likens mindfulness directly to a gatekeeper
    guarding a city (the body) with six gates (the senses). 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. The
    suggestion seems to be that if we have mindfulness then we will remember what
    it is that we should be doing in a given moment (watching the breath, say, or
    paying attention to posture), and thus when perceptions, feelings, states of mind
    and emotions that might interfere with this arise, we will have the presence of
    mind
    not to let them overcome our minds and take hold.
    page 272
  • 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
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Pali Term: Sati

Post by Sylvester » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:58 am

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
If one were remembering "Atthi (subject of mindfulness)", one would be recollecting a past experience, whereas the context makes it clear that present experiences are being meant.

The only verb in those suttas which admits of some form of recollection would be upasaṃharati in the context of the cemetary contemplations where imagination (passeyya sarīraṃ, passa being in the optative) is employed. Paccavekkhati in the context of contemplation of impurity of the body also looks like the work of the imagination, therefore seems appropriate for recollection, unless one interprets this verb as an exercise of psychic powers into the innards.

But generally, the most frequent verb used is pajānāti, which does seem to read like real-time awareness based on the present experience.

If I were to venture a guess, I would say that the trope sati-sampajañña in the Satipaṭṭhāna suttas is nothing more than a set of synonyms arranged according to the waxing syllable principle. You see a hint of this in the reversed set ñāṇamattā patissatimattā above.

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