Vedanānupassanā and Cittānupassanā

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    • #39337

      The following post is from Jorg:

      Kind greetings,
      I’d like to share my interpretations of the vedananupassana and cittanupassana sections of the mahasatipatthana sutta and would like to ask for clarification about some parts.

      1.) The first section of the vedananupassana:
      I assume that:
      Sāmisaṁ vā sukhaṁ vedanaṁ = somanassa vedana
      Sāmisaṁ vā dukkhaṁ vedanaṁ = domanassa vedana
      sāmisaṁ adukkhamasukhaṁ vedanaṁ = amisa upekkhā vedana

      2.) The second section of vedananupassana:
      What does the structure mean exactly at the start of each of the four anupassana:
      vedanāsu vedanānupassī, citte cittānupassī, etc.?

      “Iti ajjhattaṁ vā vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati.”
      My interpretation: Throughout one’s life, one should always be aware of one’s own vedana (any vipaka and samphassa-ja-vedana) and that of others. To be more precise, be aware of the consequences of how one’s saṅkhāra can affect one’s own vedana and how they can affect others’, i.e., we should always diligently try to abstain from Dasa Akusala, for our own sake but especially when they may affect others as well. In a deeper sense, one’s action and speech can cause others to generate defilements as well, thus increasing their suffering. One should also understand and be mindful of the fact that other’s samphassa-ja-vedana can trigger (via their own saṅkhāra) one’s own samphassa-ja-vedana.

      “Samudayadhammānupassī vā vedanāsu viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā vedanāsu viharati, samudayavayadhammānupassī vā vedanāsu viharati.”
      My interpretation: With the same mindset as above, one understands how vipaka vedana arises (due to previous kamma) and prevents it from developing into samphassa-ja-vedana. One also understands the consequences of what happens when any samphassa-ja-vedana arise and are continued to be developed (= formation of kamma bīja and more future suffering (in sansara)) and the way to stop them from arising in the future (by changing one’s gati via controlling one’s vaci/kaya apuññabhisaṅkhāra (and cultivating puññabhisaṅkhāra/Kusala kamma), and through the understanding of this process via contemplation of Buddha Dhamma).

      “‘Atthi vedanā’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.”
      There are too many words unknown to me, so it would be great if I could have a translation of this phrase. This structure is also repeated several times throughout the sutta.

      3.) The first section of Cittanupassana
      My understanding of Cittanupassana is the practice where one should be mindful of the vaci saṅkhāra before they have a chance to develop into speech and kaya saṅkhāra. One should also understand deeply why various things (explained below) come to be, and the consequence of their development in case we’re not mindful of them. These things are a list of various defilements and wholesome qualities and their absence, starting with “san:” greed (raga), dosa, and moha and the absence.
      For example, we need to understand perfectly well why lobha/raga comes to be/comes to arise; how our anusaya and gati allow for the arising of the defiled cetasika in the citta (lobha/raga), leading automatically to taṇhā, which in turn starts the PS cycle (avijā paccaya saṅkhāra) which inevitably ends up in suffering (bhava paccaya jati, jati paccaya jarā, marana, etc.), now and future.
      Furthermore, we need to understand how we get to eliminate these defilements by not letting them develop once they’ve arisen by stopping the mental vaci saṅkhāra, via contemplating their consequences (for oneself but also for other beings due to their effect), and/or by deliberately producing and cultivating puññabhisaṅkhāra (such as compassionate thoughts when anger arises). The goal is to change one’s gati completely, i.e., remove san gati.
      Finally, one also needs to understand deeply that citta don’t get contaminated all the time. They need a trigger (arammana) before that can happen.

      Regarding the other things in the list, correct me if I’m wrong, I see at least one factor that’s related to jhana (Mahaggataṁ), and one to Arahanthood (Vimuttaṁ). I’m not sure what
      Saṅkhittaṁ, Sauttaraṁ, and Samāhitaṁ mean and how they relate to cittanupassana. If I could get any input, that would be extremely helpful.

      Regarding Mahaggataṁ in regard to cittanupassana, I assume it means that one needs to understand how one gets one jhana, how one can cultivate it, and what the consequences/results are when it is cultivated. If I’m missing something, please share your insights.
      What I’m not clear on is this:
      Since developing jhana is not a prerequisite for getting to Arahanthood, is this mentioned as an “optional”? If one hasn’t gotten to jhana, it’s kind of hard to know what it is, after all. Or it means that one understands that one hasn’t reached jhana, and that one shouldn’t long for it since that would grow one’s raga.

      Regarding vimutti, I assume it’s understanding how one can develop on the eightfold noble path (by abstaining from Akusala, cultivating Kusala kamma, etc.) before one reaches Arahanthood, part of which includes contemplating on the release one has already had (etam santam, etam panitam, etc.).

      4.) The second section of cittanupassana
      My interpretation is that this section is a summary, similar to the 2nd section of vedananupassana.
      The first part: “Iti ajjhattaṁ vā citte cittānupassī viharati, bahiddhā vā citte cittānupassī viharati, ajjhattabahiddhā vā citte cittānupassī viharati.”
      I assume it means that one should live one’s entire life being mindful of the processes decribed in the first section. In addition to oneself, one should also live thoughtfully and mindfully how one can affect other beings whenever one “loses control,” i.e., letting the vaci saṅkhāra develop further. And also understand how other beings can trigger you and that you should be mindful of it, besides having compassion for them because they can’t see these processes out of ignorance and, therefore, remain trapped in sansara where they await horrendous suffering, sooner or later.

      “Samudayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṁ viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṁ viharati, samudayavayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṁ viharati.”
      In brief (similar to the vedana section): one should always be mindful whenever defiled citta arise, understand why one should stop them (and where this leads to), thus, stopping them from developing, via understanding their consequences and generating wholesome saṅkhāra instead.

      “‘Atthi cittan’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.”
      Also here, I’m not sure what this part means. If Lal, or anyone else, could share their insight, I’d greatly appreciate it.

      With Metta

    • #39339

      1) Correct.
      – Note that somanassa/domanassa vedana arise due to “samphassa-ja-vedana” or “mind-made vedana”.
      – Once one starts understanding that things in this world are not worth pursuing, such “mind-made vedana” will start decreasing.

      2) Yes. It is important to understand what is meant by “kāye kāyānupassī viharati,” “vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati,” “citte cittānupassī viharati,” and ” dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati.”
      – They mean “to be mindful of kāya, vedanā, citta, and dhamma.”

      Kāya can be interpreted in several ways: (i) real nature of the physical body made up with inert matter (four great elements), (ii) how one acts with the physical body, and, (iii) how such actions arise based on “samphassa-ja-vedana.”

      That last one connects to the next section on vedanā. When “samphassa-ja-vedana” arise, one must contemplate that they arise due to one’s attachments and that such vedana can lead to improper actions with bad consequences. That is simply “vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati,” or being mindful of the real nature of “samphassa-ja-vedana” at all times.

      The section on citta does the same but states a bit differently. When greedy, angry, ignorant thoughts (citta) arise, one must “catch them ASAP” and stop them.

      The last section on dhamma explains the core teachings that explain how “samphassa-ja-vedana” arise and how one gets into trouble by attaching to them and making foolish decisions, thereby extending future suffering.

      B). C). Yes. Nice.

      D) “‘Atthi vedanā’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.”
      – That is what both you and I described above.
      – When one understands the true nature of this world (yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya,) one will live without getting attached to worldly things (anissito ca viharati, where “anissita” means realizing the unfruitfulness of worldly things). The phrase, “ca kiñci loke upādiyati” means similar to the latter: “not to upadana things in this world.”

      3.) “My understanding of Cittanupassana is the practice where one should be mindful of the vaci saṅkhāra before they have a chance to develop into speech and kaya saṅkhāra” and the rest.
      – That is exactly right!

      B) The list of things in the “3. Cittānupassanā” section (see, “Mahāsa­tipa­ṭ­ṭhāna Sutta (DN 22)” are the types of citta to be avoided with wisdom. Those start with “Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sarāgaṁ vā cittaṁ ‘sarāgaṁ cittan’ti pajānāti.” or “one understands, these are greedy citta.” The next one is to see the non-greedy thoughts (and to cultivate them), i.e., “Vītarāgaṁ vā cittaṁ ‘vītarāgaṁ cittan’ti pajānāti.”
      – “Saṅkhitta citta” are “foolish,” and “Vikkhitta citta” are “scattered/excited.” This is the only pair that is not opposite of each other.
      – “Mahaggata citta” are those that transcend kama loka, i.e., sensual pleasures. They can be jhana or the cultivation of Nibbana (transcending jhana as well). “Amahaggata citta” are sensual thoughts.
      – So, for most of the pairs of cittas listed, one type is to be discarded and the opposite to be cultivated.

      C) As explained above, “Mahaggata citta” may be cultivating jhana or progress toward Nibbana.
      As one cultivates the Noble Path, jhanas may be attained on the way.

      D) Yes.

      A) Yes. That is correct.

      B) “Samudaya­dhammā­nu­passī vā cittasmiṁ viharati, vayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṁ viharati, samudaya­va­ya­dhammā­nu­passī vā cittasmiṁ viharati.”
      – This is mainly about how various types of “bad citta” (described under #3) arise (samudaya) and how they can stopped from arising (vaya). For example, suppose a greedy thought arises. Then one should contemplate how it arose via Paticca Samuppada (with attachment to a “mind-pleasing rupa.”)
      C) “‘Atthi cittan’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.”
      – It says that when one cultivates cittanupassana, one’s wisdom will grow, and one will gradually lose attachments to this world (i.e., move toward Nibbana.)

    • #39350

      Thanks a million Lal, this was very illuminating! I can’t express my gratitude enough.

      One final thought here from the verse you translated, “‘Atthi cittan’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati,”
      does the bolded part mean, “When the particular (kaya/citta/vedana/dhamma) anupassana is cultivated….”? Paccupatthi is to cultivate?

    • #39351

      Glad to hear that, Jorg.

      “paccupaṭṭhitā” means something like “when present.” “Sati” means to “have that mindset,” i.e., the comprehension of Noble Truths/PS/Tilakkhana that worldly pleasures are like bait for a fish (leading to future suffering).

      When one engages in anupassanā (in this case, cittānupassanā) with that mindset, one’s wisdom will grow, gradually losing cravings for worldly pleasures which are devoid of value: “yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati.”

      This is why any anupassanā is NOT limited to formal meditation. Whenever an “unfruitful arammana” comes to mind, one should discard that arammana via such contemplation.

    • #39358

      Yes, this is very enlightening, and we are very fortunate. You won’t see this kind of explanation anywhere else, at least not in English, as far as I can see.

      Not too long ago, I heard a very common explanation from a long-time “vipassana meditator” of kāyānupassanā as being mindful of bodily movements, and the formal practice of it is walking meditation:

      One walks slowly, is mindful of one foot lifting the ground, moving forward, touching the ground again. The meditator does this over and over, walking up and down a meditation trail.

      I suppose this does calm the mind down, and this calmness is often mistaken to be removal of defilements.

      Finally, @Jorg, if you haven’t read this old post, you will enjoy it:

      Anussati and Anupassanā – Being Mindful and Removing Defilements

      Here, Lal delved into the word anupassanā (and also anussati).


    • #39361

      Thanks, Lang!

      It is a bit old post. I just revised it a bit.

    • #39374

      Thank you Lal and thank you Lang for the reference. I’m lucky that Lal has already revised it :D

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