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In the Buddhist tradition, satipaṭṭhāna (Pāli; Skt. smṛtyupasthāna) refers to a "foundation" (paṭṭhāna; pasthāna) for or "presence" (upaṭṭhāna; upasthāna) of "mindfulness" (sati; smṛti). Cattāro satipaṭṭhānā is the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, bases for maintaining moment-by-moment mindfulness and for developing mindfulness through meditation. Buddha taught satipatthana as the direct path to Enlightenment. In contemporary times the practice is most associated with Theravada Buddhism. The method is also known as the Vipassana meditation. It is the 7th factor and correct mindfulness that can fully realize the Noble Eightfold Path. These four foundations for mindfulness are:

  • mindfulness of the body (Pali: kāyā): kāyasati and/or kāyagatāsati[1] (S. kāyasmṛti)
  • mindfulness of feelings (or sensations) (vedanā): vedanāsati (S. vedanāsmṛti)
  • establishment mindfulness of mind (or consciousness) (cittā): cittasati (S. cittasmṛti)
  • mindfulness of mental objects (or qualities) (dhammā): dhammāsati (S. dharmasmṛti)



Path Factors

Satipaṭṭhāna is a compound term that has been analyzed (and thus translated) in two ways: sati-paṭṭhāna ("foundation of mindfulness"), and sati-upaṭṭhāna ("presence of mindfulness").[2]


Satipaṭṭhāna is a way of implementing the right mindfulness (sammā-sati) and, less directly, the right concentration (sammā-samādhi) parts of the Noble Eightfold Path. Satipaṭṭhāna meditation develops the mental factors of vipassana (insight) and samatha (calm). Satipaṭṭhāna is practiced most often in the context of Theravada Buddhism although the principles are also practiced in most traditions of Buddhism which emphasize meditation such as the Soto Zen tradition.[3]

The four satipaṭṭhāna are one of the seven sets of bodhipakkhiyādhammā (Pali for "states conducive to enlightenment") identified in many schools of Buddhism as a means for achieving Enlightenment or Awakening (bodhi).

Traditional scriptures

In the Pali Canon, the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta ("Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness," MN 10) explains how to systematically cultivate mindful awareness. Additionally, in the Samyutta Nikaya is a chapter entitled, Satipaṭṭhāna-samyutta, which contains 104 of the Buddha's discourses on the satipaṭṭhānas[4] including two popular discourses delivered to the townspeople of Sedaka, "the Acrobat" (Thanissaro, 1997a) and "the Beauty Queen" (Thanissaro, 1997b).

See also


  1. ^ Mindfulness in Early Buddhism: New Approaches through Psychology and Textual Analysis of Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources by Tse-fu Kuan. Routledge:2008 ISBN-10: 0415437377 pgs i, 9, 81[]
  2. ^ See Anālayo (2006), pp. 29-30; and, Bodhi (2000), p. 1504. Anālayo argues from an etymological standpoint that, while "foundation [paṭṭhāna] of mindfulness" is supported by the Pali commentary, the term paṭṭhāna (foundation) was otherwise unused in the Pali nikayas and is only first used in the Abhidhamma; in contrast, the term upaṭṭhāna (presence or establishment) can in fact be found throughout the nikayas and is readily visible in the Sanskrit equivalents of the compound Pāli phrase satipaṭṭhāna (Skt., smṛtyupasthāna or smṛti-upasthāna). Thus Anālayo states that "presence of mindfulness" (as opposed to "foundation of mindfulness") is more likely to be etymologically correct. Like Anālayo, Bodhi assesses that "establishment [upaṭṭhāna] of mindfulness" is the preferred translation. However, Bodhi's analysis is more contextual than Anālayo's. According to Bodhi, while "establishment of mindfulness" is normally supported by the textual context, there are exceptions to this rule, such as with SN 47.42 (pp. 1660, 1928 n. 180) where a translation of "foundation of mindfulness" is best supported.
  3. ^ For an example of a Zen master's explicit use of this type of meditation, see Nhat Hanh (2005).
  4. ^ Samyutta Nikaya, Ch. 47. See Bodhi (2000), pp. 1627ff.


  • Anālayo (2006). Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications. ISBN 1-899579-54-0.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-168-8.
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich (trans. Annabel Laity) (2005). Transformation and Healing : Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness . Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press. ISBN 0-938077-34-1.

External links



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