The Wings to Awakening

PART II: B. THE FOUR FRAMES OF REFERENCE

The four frames of reference (satipatthana) are a set of teachings that show where a meditator should focus attention and how. This dual role-the "where" and the "how"-is reflected in the fact that the term satipatthana can be explained etymologically in two ways. On the one hand, it can be regarded as a compound of sati (mindfulness, reference, the ability to keep something in mind) and patthana (foundation, condition, source), thus referring to the object that is kept in mind as a frame of reference for giving context to one's experience. Alternatively, satipatthana can be seen as a compound of sati and upatthana (establishing near, setting near), thus referring to the approach (the how) of keeping something closely in mind, of maintaining a solid frame of reference. Scholars are divided as to which interpretation is right, but for all practical purposes they both are. The Buddha was more a poet than a strict etymologist, and he may have deliberately chosen an ambiguous term that would have fruitful meanings on more than one level. In the practice of the frames of reference, both the proper object and the proper approach are crucial for getting the proper results. In fact, as we shall see, the taking of a proper object entails the beginning of the proper approach, and the approach ends by taking as its objects the qualities of mind developed in the course of pursuing the approach itself. In other words, as we mentioned in the Introduction concerning the Buddha's Awakening, the "what" merges with the "how" as the "how" of the investigation ultimately becomes what gets investigated.

The texts give two different pictures of the role that the frames of reference play in the practice. Some [33, 34, 36] state that developing the frames of reference is a precondition for jhana, which then forms a basis for transcendent discernment. Others [27, 43] make no mention of jhana, stating that one goes directly from the frames of reference to the transcendent. On the surface, this would seem to indicate that there are two alternate paths: one with and one without jhana. This reading, though, contradicts the many passages maintaining that jhana is necessary for the development of transcendent discernment [165, 166, 171, 173, 178; some of these passages simply say "concentration" instead of jhana, but there seems to be every reason to assume that concentration here means right concentration, which is nothing other than jhana]. Thus we must look for an alternative reading, and we find one suggested by passages indicating that the development of the frames of reference implicitly entails the full development of the seven factors of Awakening. Because these factors are closely associated with jhana, this would indicate that the proper development of the frames of reference necessarily incorporates, in and of itself, the practice of jhana.

This reading is confirmed by 29, which states that the way to develop the frames of reference is through the noble eightfold path, which includes jhana. It is also confirmed by 31, which describes how the frames of reference relate to the sixteen steps of breath meditation. As we shall see in III/E, these sixteen steps are also a description of how jhana is developed and then used as a vehicle for fostering discernment and ending the effluents of the mind. Thus, we can view the outline of frames-of-reference practice as a description of the stages in the mindful mastery of jhana and its application to the ending of the effluents.

The proper objects that act as frames of reference are four: the body in and of itself, feelings in and of themselves, the mind in and of itself, and mental qualities in and of themselves. The "in and of itself" here is important. To take the body as a frame of reference in this way, for instance, means that one views it not in terms of its function in the world-for then the world would be the frame of reference-but simply on its own terms, as it is directly experienced. In other words, one is not concerned with its relative worth or utility in terms of the values of the world-its beauty, strength, agility, etc.-but simply what it is when regarded in and of itself.

The four objects that act as frames of reference fall into two classes. The first class-the body, feelings, and the mind-act as the "given" objects of meditation practice: what experience presents, on its own, as an object for meditation. The meditator takes any one of these objects as a frame of reference, relating all of experience to his/her chosen frame. For example, although one will experience feelings and mind states in the course of taking the body as a frame of reference, one tries to relate them to the experience of the body as their primary frame. A feeling is viewed as it affects the body, or the body affects it. The same holds for a mind state. An analogy for this practice is holding an object in one's hand. When other objects come into contact with the hand, one is aware that they are making contact, but one does not let go of the object in one's hand in order to grasp after them.

The second class of objects-mental qualities (dhamma)-denotes the qualities of mind that are developed and abandoned as one masters the meditation. The list of "dhammas" given in 30 would seem to belie the translation "mental qualities" here, as they include not only the five hindrances and seven factors of Awakening, which are obviously mental qualities, but also the five aggregates, the six sense media, and the four noble truths, which would seem to fit better with another meaning of the word dhamma, i.e., "phenomena." However, if we look more closely at each of these other classes, we will see that they actually deal with variant forms of abandoning the hindrances and developing the factors of Awakening.

The section on the sense media focuses less on the media than on the abandoning of the fetters-passion and delight (S.XLI.1; MFU pp. 52-53)-associated with those media. The section on the aggregates describes a state of practice that is elsewhere [149] identified as a developed form of concentration, in which the aggregates that comprise the state of jhana form the object of analysis [173]. The section on the noble truths describes a state of practice that elsewhere [169] is said to require the sort of mental stability and clarity found only in jhana. Thus all the approaches to "dhammas in and of themselves" would appear to be variations on the abandoning of the hindrances and the development of the factors of Awakening. Because the stated function of the frames of reference is to bring about the culmination of the factors of Awakening, and through them the development of clear knowing and release [92], the translation of dhamma as "mental quality" seems an appropriate way to keep that function in mind and to avoid getting lost in the details of its different aspects.

There is historical support for this interpretation as well. The Vibhanga, an ancient Abhidhamma text, includes only the hindrances and the factors of Awakening in its discussion of this heading. The same holds true with the Sarvastivadin version of this discourse, preserved in Chinese translation. Scholars have questioned whether these two texts should be taken as evidence that the original discussion of dhamma here included only these two topics. The issue is impossible to decide from the texts available to us, but a case can be made for concluding that, regardless of what the original version may have been, the early tradition regarded the abandoning of the hindrances and the development of the factors of Awakening as encompassing all the factors that might be included under this heading.

Each of the four objects of mindfulness is said to be sufficient for bringing about Awakening [44]. This point is easy to understand if we look at the approach taken to each of the objects, for then it becomes clear that the approach ultimately involves the development of mental qualities in and of themselves, regardless of what object is first taken up for meditation.

That approach falls into three stages. The first stage-here taking the body as an example-is simply called the frame of reference [29]:

There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

Four terms here are key. "Remaining focused" (anupassin) can also be translated as "keeping track." This denotes the element of concentration in the practice, as one tries to stay with one particular theme in the midst of the welter of experience. "Ardent" (atapi) denotes the factor of effort or exertion in the practice; the Commentary equates this with right exertion, which contains an element of discernment in its ability to distinguish skillful from unskillful mental qualities. "Alert" (sampajano) means being clearly aware of what is happening in the present. This, too, relates to discernment. "Mindful" (satima) literally means being able to remember or recollect. Here it means keeping one's task in mind. The task here is a dual one-remaining focused on one's frame of reference, and putting aside the distractions of greed and distress that would come from shifting one's frame of reference back to the world. In other words, one tries to stay with the phenomenology of immediate experience, without slipping back into the narratives and world views that make up one's sense of the world. In essence, this is a concentration practice, with the three qualities of ardency, alertness, and mindfulness devoted to attaining concentration. Mindfulness keeps the theme of the meditation in mind, alertness observes the theme as it is present to awareness, and also is aware of when the mind has slipped from its theme. Mindfulness then remembers where the mind should be focused, and ardency tries to return the mind to its proper theme as quickly and skillfully as possible. In this way, these three qualities help to seclude the mind from sensual preoccupations and unskillful mental qualities, thus bringing it to the first jhana.

Passage 33 confirms this reading by equating the successful performance of this first stage in the practice with the first jhana, whereas 35-36 give advice on how to bring the mind to concentration if this method does not work: focus on the problem of the mind's not settling down, and bring the mind to an inspiring theme that will accomplish the desired end.

When the method does work, 33 describes the next step as a variation on the basic exercise:
Remain focused on the body in and of itself, but do not think any thoughts connected with the body.
This, it says, takes the mind to the second jhana, where directed thought and evaluation are abandoned. From there the mind can go up to the fourth [72].

These points may be illustrated with some meditation techniques that are currently popular in the West: In a "mental noting" practice, mindfulness is a matter of remembering to keep up the noting, alertness means seeing whatever phenomena arise to be noted, and ardency is a matter of sticking with the noting relentlessly and being ever more quick and precise in one's alertness. In terms of the factors constituting jhana practice, the mindfulness and alertness here would be related to directed thought, ardency to singleness of preoccupation, while alertness aimed at evaluating the results of the noting-and ardency in keeping the "pressure" of the noting just right-would be related to evaluation. If this practice is then conducted in line with the texts, it should reach a stage where the mind settles down into the singleness of the first jhana. Then the meditator would be encouraged to stop the noting, so that the mind could engage in subtler mindfulness and alertness, and thus enter the second jhana.

In a "scanning" or "body sweep" practice, mindfulness means remembering to stick with the process of scanning the body, while alertness would mean seeing the subtle sensations of the body being scanned. Ardency would mean sticking with the scanning process, and trying to be ever more sensitive to the subtlest sensations. As in the previous case, these activities are related to factors of jhana, and the process, if conducted in line with the texts, should culminate in a state of full-bodied singleness, at which time the motion of the scanning can be brought to stillness, and the mind can enter deeper concentration.

In "breath" practice, mindfulness means keeping the breath in mind as the theme of the meditation, alertness means being sensitive to the sensations of the breath. Ardency means sticking with the process relentlessly, as well as taking up the stages of "training" [31; III/E], in which one tries to be aware of the entire body with each in and out breath, and to let the breath sensations grow calm. In terms of jhana factors, mindfulness would be related to directed thought, alertness to evaluation, and ardency to singleness of preoccupation. As awareness fills the body and the breath grows calm, one's alertness stays steadily with the breath, and the mind enters the singleness of jhana. At this point, one no longer needs consciously to direct the mind to the breath or to enlarge one's awareness any further. Thus the mind, as above, can develop subtler mindfulness and alertness, and so enter the second jhana.

According to 32, once concentration has been established on one's own body in this way, it may give rise to a similar "knowledge and vision" of the bodies of other people. Knowledge and vision, here, seems to denote intuitive knowledge through the psychic powers that some people develop through concentration. If used properly, this knowledge can help develop a sense of dispassion toward the processes of existence, as one sees that all bodies, even the most desirable, are subject to the same common shortcomings of being inconstant, stressful, and not-self.

Whether one pursues this meditation with one's own body or the bodies of others, it comes under the first stage of practice, as indicated by the following phrase:

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or externally on the body in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the body in and of itself.

Once the first stage has produced a solid state of concentration, the second stage-the development of the frame of reference [29]-can begin:

One remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body.

The "phenomena of origination and passing away" covers three sorts of events: conditioned occurrences in the object that forms one's frame of reference itself (in this case, the body); events in the other two "object" frames of reference (feelings and mind); or events in the "approach" frame of reference, i.e., the mental qualities that are developed (or interfere with) the process of taking a frame of reference to begin with. For instance, when focused on the body, one may notice the arising and passing away of breath sensations in the body. Or one might notice the arising and passing away of feelings of pleasure or mental states of irritation while one remains anchored in the body. Or one might notice lapses of mindfulness in one's focus on the body.

In each of these cases, if the origination and passing away is of neutral events such as the aggregates, one is directed simply to be aware of them as events, and to let them follow their natural course unimpeded so as to see what factors accompany them and lead to their origination. As for events that are connected with the presence or absence of skillfulness, however, one is encouraged to manipulate and experiment with them so as to observe and further understand their causal interrelationships. This will enable one to become skillful in maximizing skillful mental qualities and minimizing unskillful ones. In other words, one develops insight into the process of origination and passing away by taking an active and sensitive role in the process, just as one learns about eggs by trying to cook with them, gathering experience from one's successes and failures in attempting increasingly difficult dishes.

The need for active participation in the practice explains why meditation must begin by mastering a particular technique, rather than passively watching whatever may arise in the present. The technique gives shape to one's present input into the present moment and makes one more sensitive to this aspect of this/that conditionality. It also provides an active context for appreciating mental qualities as they help or hinder one's success in the technique. Eventually, when one's sensitivity is sufficiently well developed, one can go beyond the technique to explore and master the process of causality as it functions in developing skillful qualities in the mind.

This process can be illustrated with the passage devoted to equanimity. In the first step, as one is still in the beginning stages of observing the mind in its attempts at meditation, one simply discerns the presence and absence of equanimity.

There is the case where, there being equanimity as a factor of Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Equanimity as a factor of Awakening is present within me.' Or, there being no equanimity as a factor of Awakening present within, he discerns that 'Equanimity as a factor of Awakening is not present within me.'

In watching the course of this arising and passing away as one tries to bring the mind to the equanimity of jhana, one should begin to see patterns of cause and effect in what does and doesn't work. This enables one skillfully to give rise to equanimity even when it is not present of its own accord, and-once it is present-can strengthen it until it reaches the point of utmost development:

He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen equanimity as a factor of Awakening. And he discerns how there is the culmination of the development of equanimity as a factor of Awakening once it has arisen.

A similar process is recommended for events in the "object" frames of reference. This is shown by the standard description of the sixteen steps of breath meditation [31]. One trains oneself to breathe conscious of the entire body, or to breathe sensitive to feelings of rapture and pleasure, as this training fosters the factors of jhana. One trains oneself to satisfy, steady, and release the mind, as this training brings mastery over the stages of jhana. Passage 179 makes a similar point, directing the meditator to replace unskillful forms of distress, joy, and equanimity with more skillful versions of the same emotions, and then replacing skillful distress with skillful joy, and skillful joy with skillful equanimity.

As this process leads to stronger and more refined states of concentration, it refines one's sensitivity to the fact that the grosser one's participation in the process of origination and passing away in the mind, the grosser the level of stress that results. This leads one to let go of the grosser levels of one's participation as one is able to detect them. This can have one of two results. (1) It may lead to even more refined states of concentration, as one abandons the factors that obscure equanimity, or as one focuses one's equanimity on ever more refined objects. (2) Or, as one becomes able to focus on the activity involved even in refining equanimity, one comes to realize that it, too, is a process of input into the present, fabricated for the sake of non-becoming [182]. Thus, as a sense of dispassion develops toward equanimity, one goes beyond it to a state called non-fashioning (atammayata) [179], through the third and final stage of frames-of-reference practice:

Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body (feeling, mind, mental quality)' is maintained [simply] to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world.

This stage corresponds to a mode of perception that the Buddha in M.121 terms "entry into emptiness":
Thus he regards it [this mode of perception] as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: "there is this."

This is the culminating equipoise where the path of the practice leads unmediated to a state of non-fashioning and from there to the fruit of Awakening and release.

Some meditators, reading the two preceding passages, try to step immediately to the stage of non-fashioning without first having gained the inner sensitivity to cause and effect, action and non-action, that comes from developing concentration. In practice, though, this doesn't work. Only through that sensitivity can the basic causal relationships of dependent co-arising and this/that conditionality be discovered. This discovery is needed to give rise to a sense of dispassion-as one grows more and more disenchanted with the inconstant and artificial nature of all mental phenomena and develops a strong desire to gain release from them. It is also needed to uncover the precise point of non-fashioning between becoming and non-becoming where that release can be found.

As we shall see in later sections (in particular, III/E and III/H), the basic pattern of the three stages in frames-of-reference meditation-

  • focusing on events in and of themselves in the present moment,
  • understanding their causal relationships with other events by learning to manipulate them skillfully, and then
  • arriving at a state of fully developed equipoise, transcending even one's skill, free from any present input into the causal network- is basic to all aspects of Buddhist meditation practice. Among other things, it underlies the stages in breath meditation, the mastery of concentration, and the strategy of discernment leading to the transcendent. Thus it should be kept firmly in mind as one reads passages not only in this section, but also throughout the entire book.

The texts contained in this section, for the most part, provide added details to the outline sketched here. For example, 45-46 provide a variation on stage two by showing how mindfulness can be developed into equanimity by manipulating perceptions, viewing loathsome objects as unloathsome, and unloathsome objects as loathsome, etc. Anyone attempting these perception games needs firm powers of concentration and sharp discernment so as not to become obsessed with perceptual distortions (saa vipallasa). If handled properly, though, the process of manipulation gives important insights into the way the mind labels its objects, and can drive home lessons on the arbitrary nature of perception and the need not to be deceived by it.

The same point holds true for the contemplation of body parts mentioned in 30. This contemplation has been denounced in Western circles for promoting a negative self-image, but here it is necessary to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy negative images of one's own body. An unhealthy negative image is one that views the bodies of other people as attractive, and one's own as unattractive. This is unhealthy in that it creates feelings of inferiority concerning one's own body, compounded by lust and desire for the bodies of others. A healthy negative image sees that all bodies, no matter how attractive, young, or healthy they may seem at the skin level, are composed of the very same parts, all equally unattractive. The livers and intestines of even the most attractive people, if paraded down a walkway, would never capture a title in a beauty contest; if featured in an advertisement, they wouldn't sell. Thus there is no real reason to feel that one's body is inherently inferior to theirs. This perception of the equality of all bodies, if handled properly, is healthy in that it helps liberate one not only from feelings of inferiority but also from the disease of lust and desire, promoting a sense of dispassion toward lustful thoughts in general. As this theme of contemplation is developed through hands-on manipulation of one's perception of the body, it enables one to realize that, when reduced to their simple "bodyness," as bodies in and of themselves, all bodies are on a par, and that questions of attractiveness and unattractiveness derive ultimately from the context of one's frame of reference. One sees that the obstacles to equanimity and higher insights in the practice are not so much the objects of lust or hatred as they are the terms and contexts in which those objects are perceived. This insight can form the basis for perceptual skills that can act as a very liberating antidote to the mind's tendency to self-delusion.

One passage contained here that does not deal with the stages of frames-of-reference meditation is 47. This passage focuses on a charge that has been often leveled at Early Buddhism: that the practice it recommends is essentially selfish, in that one is striving simply for one's own welfare. The Buddha answers this charge by denying any radical distinction between one's own true welfare and that of others. To work for the true welfare of others is to work for one's own true welfare; to work for one's own is to work for theirs. The first point can be illustrated by a number of passages in this collection-showing, for example, how expressions of gratitude to one's parents can foster one's own true happiness [123, 124], how support for contemplatives enables one to hear the Dhamma [128], how virtuous conduct toward other people and their possessions strengthens mindfulness [27], and how attitudes of good will, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity foster concentration and release the mind from obstructive mental qualities [98]. Thus, the quality of one's assistance to others cannot help but have an effect on the development of one's own mind.

As for the reverse dynamic-the way in which working for one's own welfare works for the welfare of others-the Buddha illustrates this point with an perceptive analogy for the interaction of living beings: two acrobats balancing on the end of a pole. If one acrobat loses balance, both will fall. For both to stay balanced, each must maintain his or her own balance. This analogy indicates that the act of developing good qualities in one's own mind is, in itself, an act of kindness to others. One protects them from the detrimental effects of one's uncontrolled anger, etc., and exposes them to the beneficial effects of one's own mindfulness, equanimity, and other skillful qualities. Thus it is not possible to practice the frames of reference properly without the rest of the world's benefiting to a greater or lesser degree. And in a world where no one can keep the balance of another person, the example of one's own skill in keeping balance is an instructive gift for those with the eyes to see and the intelligence to take one's example to heart.

Once one has attained full Awakening and needs to do nothing more for one's own welfare, one continues to act for the welfare of others within the framework of three frames of reference [179], different from the four discussed in this section. The three are: the ability to remain (1) untroubled, mindful, and alert when others do not respond to one's teachings; (2) equanimous, mindful, and alert when some do and some do not respond to one's teachings; and (3) untroubled, mindful, and alert when others do respond to one's teachings. In other words, one's mental balance is so firm that other beings' success or failure in responding to one's help cannot disturb the mind. It is only in this context-the three frames of reference following full Awakening-that the Buddha allows for the possibility of helping others with no thought for one's own welfare, for at that point one's true welfare has no further needs. The Awakened person lives out the remainder of his/her life, insofar as his/her kamma allows, for "the welfare of the many, the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world" [Mv.11.1].

26. Imagine a tree devoid of branches and leaves: Its buds don't grow to maturity, its bark doesn't grow to maturity, its sapwood doesn't grow to maturity, its heartwood doesn't grow to maturity. In the same way, when-there being no mindfulness or alertness-a person is devoid of mindfulness or alertness, the prerequisite for a sense of conscience and concern [for the results of wrong-doing] becomes spoiled. There being no sense of conscience and concern...the prerequisite for restraint of the senses becomes spoiled. There being no restraint of the senses...the prerequisite for virtue becomes spoiled. There being no virtue...the prerequisite for right concentration becomes spoiled. There being no right concentration...the prerequisite for knowledge and vision of things as they actually are present becomes spoiled. There being no knowledge and vision of things as they actually are present, the prerequisite for disenchantment and dispassion becomes spoiled. There being no disenchantment and dispassion, the prerequisite for knowledge and vision of release becomes spoiled....

Now imagine a tree abundant in its branches and leaves: Its buds grow to maturity, its bark grows to maturity, its sapwood grows to maturity, its heartwood grows to maturity. In the same way, when-there being mindfulness and alertness-a person is abundant in mindfulness and alertness, the prerequisite for a sense of conscience and concern becomes abundant. There being a sense of conscience and concern...the prerequisite for restraint of the senses becomes abundant. There being restraint of the senses...the prerequisite for virtue becomes abundant. There being virtue...the prerequisite for right concentration becomes abundant. There being right concentration...the prerequisite for knowledge and vision of things as they actually are present becomes abundant. There being knowledge and vision of things as they are actually present, the prerequisite for disenchantment and dispassion becomes abundant. There being disenchantment and dispassion, the prerequisite for knowledge and vision of release becomes abundant.
A.VIII.81

27. Uttiya: It would be good, Venerable Sir, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief so that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, and resolute.

The Buddha: In that case, Uttiya, you should purify what is most basic with regard to skillful mental qualities. And what is the basis of skillful mental qualities? Well-purified virtue and views made straight. Then, when your virtue is well-purified and your views made straight, in dependence on virtue, established in virtue, you should develop the four frames of reference....Then, when in dependence on virtue, relying on virtue, you develop the four frames of reference, you will go beyond the realm of Death.
S.XLVII.16

28. Mindful and Alert. Stay mindful, monks, and alert. This is our instruction to you all. And how is a monk mindful? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world [213]. This is how a monk is mindful.

And how is a monk alert? There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Discernment (vl: perception) is known to him as it arises, known as it persists, known as it subsides. This is how a monk is alert. So stay mindful, monks, and alert. This is our instruction to you all.
S.XLVII.35

29. Analysis. I will teach you the frames of reference, their development, and the path of practice leading to their development. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak.

Now, what are the frames of reference? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. These are called the frames of reference.

And what is the development of the frames of reference? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, remains focused on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, remains focused on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

He remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to feelings...with regard to the mind...with regard to mental qualities, remains focused on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, remains focused on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to mental qualities-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. This is called the development of the frames of reference.

And what is the path of practice to the development of the frames of reference? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is called the path of practice to the development of the frame of reference.
S.XLVII.40

30. In Detail. This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for the attainment of the right method, and for the realization of Unbinding-in other words, the four frames of reference. Which four?

There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world [213]. He remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

BODY
And how does the monk remain focused on the body in and of itself?

[a] There is the case where a monk-having gone to the wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty building-sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [parimukham: in the Abhidhamma, this is translated literally as "around the mouth"; in the Vinaya, the same term is used to mean the front of the chest]. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication [the breath] and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication. Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, discerns that he is making a long turn, or when making a short turn discerns that he is making a short turn; in the same way the monk, when breathing in long, discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short....He trains himself to breathe in calming bodily fabrication, and to breathe out calming bodily fabrication.

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or externally on the body in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the body in and of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[b] Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns that he is walking. When standing, he discerns that he is standing. When sitting, he discerns that he is sitting. When lying down, he discerns that he is lying down. Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it.

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[c] Furthermore, when going forward and returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward and looking away...when bending and extending his limbs...when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe and his bowl...when eating, drinking, chewing, and savoring...when urinating and defecating...when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert.

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[d] Furthermore...just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain-wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice-and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, 'This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice,' in the same way, monks, a monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: 'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.' [66]

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[e] Furthermore...just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body-however it stands, however it is disposed-in terms of properties: 'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, and the wind property.'

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or focused externally...unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

[f] Furthermore, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground-one day, two days, three days dead-bloated, livid, and festering, he applies it to this very body, 'This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate'...

Or again, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, and hawks, by dogs, hyenas, and various other creatures...a skeleton smeared with flesh and blood, connected with tendons...a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons...a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons...bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all directions-here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull...the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells...piled up, more than a year old...decomposed into a powder: He applies it to this very body, 'This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.'

In this way he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, or externally on the body in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the body in and of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself.

FEELINGS
And how does a monk remain focused on feelings in and of themselves? There is the case where a monk, when feeling a painful feeling, discerns that he is feeling a painful feeling. When feeling a pleasant feeling, he discerns that he is feeling a pleasant feeling. When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he discerns that he is feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.

When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a painful feeling of the flesh. When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh. When feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh. When feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh. When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh. When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns that he is feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh.

In this way he remains focused internally on feelings in and of themselves, or externally on feelings in and of themselves, or both internally and externally on feelings in and of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to feelings, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to feelings, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to feelings. Or his mindfulness that 'There are feelings' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on feelings in and of themselves.

MIND
And how does a monk remain focused on the mind in and of itself? There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion.

When the mind is restricted, he discerns that the mind is restricted. When the mind is scattered, he discerns that the mind is scattered. When the mind is enlarged, he discerns that the mind is enlarged. When the mind is not enlarged, he discerns that the mind is not enlarged. When the mind is surpassed, he discerns that the mind is surpassed. When the mind is unsurpassed, he discerns that the mind is unsurpassed. When the mind is concentrated, he discerns that the mind is concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, he discerns that the mind is not concentrated. When the mind is released, he discerns that the mind is released. When the mind is not released, he discerns that the mind is not released.

In this way he remains focused internally on the mind in and of itself, or externally on the mind in and of itself, or both internally and externally on the mind in and of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the mind, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the mind, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the mind. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a mind' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the mind in and of itself.

MENTAL QUALITIES
And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves?

[a] There is the case where a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. And how does a monk remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances? There is the case where, there being sensual desire present within, a monk discerns that 'There is sensual desire present within me.' Or, there being no sensual desire present within, he discerns that 'There is no sensual desire present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen sensual desire. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of sensual desire once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no further arising in the future of sensual desire that has been abandoned. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining hindrances: ill will, sloth and drowsiness, restlessness and anxiety, and uncertainty.)

In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or externally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or both internally and externally on mental qualities in and of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five hindrances. [131-147; 159]

[b] Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five aggregates for sustenance/clinging. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five aggregates for sustenance/clinging? There is the case where a monk [discerns]: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception...Such are fabrications...Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'

In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or focused externally...unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the five aggregates for sustenance/clinging. [149; 170; 173; 199-207]

[c] Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the sixfold internal and external sense media. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the sixfold internal and external sense media? There is the case where he discerns the eye, he discerns forms, he discerns the fetter that arises dependent on both. He discerns how there is the arising of an unarisen fetter. And he discerns how there is the abandoning of a fetter once it has arisen. And he discerns how there is no further appearance in the future of a fetter that has been abandoned. (Similarly with the ear, nose, tongue, body, and intellect.)

In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or focused externally...unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the sixfold internal and external sense media.

[d] Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the seven factors of awakening. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the seven factors of awakening? There is the case where, there being mindfulness as a factor of awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor of awakening is present within me.' Or, there being no mindfulness as a factor of awakening present within, he discerns that 'Mindfulness as a factor of awakening is not present within me.' He discerns how there is the arising of unarisen mindfulness as a factor of awakening. And he discerns how there is the culmination of the development of mindfulness as a factor of awakening once it has arisen. (The same formula is repeated for the remaining factors of awakening: analysis of qualities, persistence, rapture, serenity, concentration, and equanimity.)

In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or externally...unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the seven factors of awakening.

[e] Furthermore, the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the four noble truths. And how does he remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the four noble truths? There is the case where he discerns, as it is actually present, that 'This is stress...This is the origination of stress...This is the cessation of stress...This is the way leading to the cessation of stress."

In this way he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or externally on mental qualities in and of themselves, or both internally and externally on mental qualities in and of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to mental qualities, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to mental qualities, or on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to mental qualities. Or his mindfulness that 'There are mental qualities' is maintained to the extent of knowledge and recollection. And he remains unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves with reference to the four noble truths. [184-240]

Now, if anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven years, then one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis [the knowledge of Awakening] right here and now, or-if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance-non-return.

Let alone seven years. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for six years...five...four...three...two years...one year...seven months...six months...five...four...three...two months...one month...half a month, then one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here and now, or-if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance-non-return.

Let alone half a month. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven days, then one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here and now, or-if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance-non-return.

'This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and distress, for the attainment of the right method, and for the realization of Unbinding-in other words, the four frames of reference.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.
M.10

31. In practice. Now, how is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to culmination?

On whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that he is breathing out long; or breathing in short, discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that he is breathing out short; trains himself to breathe in...and... out sensitive to the entire body; trains himself to breathe in...and...out calming bodily fabrication: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this-the in-and-out breath-is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to rapture; trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to pleasure; trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to mental fabrication; trains himself to breathe in...and...out calming mental fabrication: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this-close attention to in-and-out breaths-is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to the mind; trains himself to breathe in...and...out satisfying the mind; trains himself to breathe in...and...out steadying the mind; trains himself to breathe in...and...out releasing the mind:

On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in one of confused mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on inconstancy; trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on dispassion; trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on cessation; trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on relinquishment: On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. He who sees clearly with discernment the abandoning of greed and distress is one who oversees with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

This is how mindfulness of in-and-out breathing is developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to culmination.
M.118

32. Internal and External. There is the case where a monk remains focused internally on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on the body in and of itself, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge and vision externally of the bodies of others.

He remains focused internally on feelings in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on feelings in and of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge and vision externally of the feelings of others.

He remains focused internally on the mind in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on the mind in and of itself, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge and vision externally of the minds of others.

He remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on mental qualities in and of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge and vision externally of the mental qualities of others.
D.18

33. Mindfulness and Concentration. Having abandoned the five hindrances-imperfections of awareness that weaken discernment-the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. Just as if an elephant trainer were to plant a large post in the ground and were to bind a forest elephant to it by the neck in order to break it of its forest habits, its forest memories and resolves, its distraction, fatigue, and fever over leaving the forest, to make it delight in the town and to inculcate in it habits congenial to human beings; in the same way, these four frames of reference are bindings for the awareness of the noble disciple, to break him of his household habits, his household memories and resolves, his distraction, fatigue, and fever over leaving the household life, for the attainment of the right method and the realization of Unbinding.

Then the Tathagata trains him further: 'Come, monk, remain focused on the body in and of itself, but do not think any thoughts connected with the body. Remain focused on feelings in and of themselves, but do not think any thoughts connected with feelings. Remain focused on the mind in and of itself, but do not think any thoughts connected with mind. Remain focused on mental qualities in and of themselves, but do not think any thoughts connected with mental qualities.' With the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, he enters the second jhana....
M.125

34. Monks, those who are new, not long gone-forth, only recently come to this doctrine and discipline, should be roused, encouraged, and exhorted by you to develop the four frames of reference [in this way]:

'Come, friends, remain focused on the body in and of itself-being ardent, alert, with your minds unified, clear, concentrated, and single-minded for knowledge of the body as it actually is. Remain focused on feelings in and of themselves...focused on the mind in and of itself...focused on mental qualities in and of themselves-being ardent, alert, one-pointed, with your minds unified, clear, concentrated, and single-minded for knowledge of mental qualities as they actually are.'

Monks, even those who are learners-who have yet to attain their hearts' desire, who stay resolved on the unsurpassed security from bondage-even they remain focused on the body in and of itself-being ardent, alert, one-pointed, with their minds unified, clear, concentrated, and single-minded for complete comprehension of the body. They remain focused on feelings in and of themselves...focused on the mind in and of itself...focused on mental qualities in and of themselves-being ardent, alert, one-pointed, with their minds unified, clear, concentrated, and single-minded for complete comprehension of mental qualities.

Even those who are Arahants-whose mental effluents are ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who are released through right gnosis-even they remain focused on the body in and of itself-being ardent, alert, one-pointed, with their minds unified, clear, concentrated, and single-minded, disjoined from the body. They remain focused on feelings in and of themselves...focused on the mind in and of itself...focused on mental qualities in and of themselves-being ardent, alert, one-pointed, with their minds unified, clear, concentrated, and single-minded, disjoined from mental qualities.

So even those who are new, not long gone-forth, only recently come to this doctrine and discipline, should be roused, encouraged, and exhorted by you to develop the four frames of reference [in this way].
S.XLVII.4

35. Taking Note. Suppose that there is a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful cook who has presented a king or a king's minister with various kinds of curry: mainly sour, mainly bitter, mainly peppery, mainly sweet, alkaline or non-alkaline, salty or non-salty. He does not take note of (lit: pick up on the theme of) his master, thinking, 'Today my master likes this curry, or he reaches out for that curry, or he takes a lot of this curry, or he praises that curry'....As a result, he is not rewarded with clothing or wages or gifts. Why is that?

Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful cook does not pick up on the theme of his own master.

In the same way, there are cases where a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on the body in and of itself, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements [Comm: the five Hindrances] are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact (does not pick up on that theme). He remains focused on feelings in and of themselves...the mind in and of itself...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in and of themselves, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact. As a result, he is not rewarded with a pleasant abiding here and now, nor with mindfulness and alertness. Why is that? Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk does not take note of his own mind (does not pick up on the theme of his own mind).

Now suppose that there is a wise, experienced, skillful cook who has presented a king or a king's minister with various kinds of curry....He takes note of his master, thinking, 'Today my master likes this curry, or he reaches out for that curry, or he takes a lot of this curry or he praises that curry'....As a result, he is rewarded with clothing, wages, and gifts. Why is that? Because the wise, experienced, skillful cook picks up on the theme of his own master.

In the same way, there are cases where a wise, experienced, skillful monk remains focused on the body in and of itself...feelings in and of themselves...the mind in and of itself...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in and of themselves, his mind becomes concentrated, his defilements are abandoned. He takes note of that fact. As a result, he is rewarded with a pleasant abiding here and now, together with mindfulness and alertness. Why is that? Because the wise, experienced, skillful monk picks up on the theme of his own mind.
S.XLVII.8

36. Directing and Not Directing the Mind. Ananda, if a monk or nun remains with mind well established in the four frames of reference, he/she may be expected to realize greater-than-ever distinction.

There is the case of a monk who remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on the body in and of itself, a fever based on the body arises within his body, or there is sluggishness in his awareness, or his mind becomes scattered externally. He should then direct his mind to any inspiring theme [Comm: such as recollection of the Buddha]. As his mind is directed to any inspiring theme, delight arises within him. In one who feels delight, rapture arises. In one whose mind is enraptured, the body grows serene. His body serene, he feels pleasure. As he feels pleasure, his mind grows concentrated. He reflects, 'I have attained the aim to which my mind was directed. Let me withdraw [my mind from the inspiring theme].' He withdraws and engages neither in directed thought nor in evaluation. He discerns, 'I am not thinking or evaluating. I am inwardly mindful and at ease.'

Furthermore, he remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in and of themselves, a fever based on mental qualities arises within his body, or there is sluggishness in his awareness, or his mind becomes scattered externally. He should then direct his mind to any inspiring theme. As his mind is directed to any inspiring theme, delight arises within him. In one who feels delight, rapture arises. In one whose mind is enraptured, the body grows serene. His body serene, he is sensitive to pleasure. As he feels pleasure, his mind grows concentrated. He reflects, 'I have attained the aim to which my mind was directed. Let me withdraw.' He withdraws and engages neither in directed thought nor in evaluation. He discerns, 'I am not thinking or evaluating. I am inwardly mindful and at ease.'

This, Ananda, is development based on directing. And what is development based on not directing? A monk, when not directing his mind to external things, discerns, 'My mind is not directed to external things. It is not attentive to what is in front or behind. It is released and undirected. And furthermore I remain focused on the body in and of itself. I am ardent, alert, mindful, and at ease.'

When not directing his mind to external things, he discerns, 'My mind is not directed to external things. It is not attentive to what is in front or behind. It is released and undirected. And furthermore I remain focused on feelings... mind...mental qualities in and of themselves. I am ardent, alert, mindful, and at ease.'

This, Ananda, is development based on not directing.

Now, Ananda, I have taught you development based on directing and development based on not directing. What a teacher should do out of compassion for his disciples, seeking their welfare, that I have done for you. Over there are [places to sit at] the foot of trees. Over there are empty dwellings. Practice jhana, Ananda. Do not be heedless. Do not be remorseful in the future. That is our instruction to you all.
S.XLVII.10

37. Proper Range 1. Once a hawk suddenly swooped down on a quail and seized it. Then the quail, as it was being carried off by the hawk, lamented, 'O, just my bad luck and lack of merit that I was wandering out of my proper range and into the territory of others! If only I had kept to my proper range today, to my own ancestral territory, this hawk would have been no match for me in battle.'

'But what is your proper range?' the hawk asked. 'What is your own ancestral territory?'

'A newly plowed field with clumps of earth all turned up.'

So the hawk, without bragging about its own strength, without mentioning its own strength, let go of the quail. 'Go, quail, but even when you have gone there you won't escape me.'

Then the quail, having gone to a newly plowed field with clumps of earth all turned up and climbing up on top of a large clump of earth, stood taunting the hawk, 'Now come and get me, you hawk! Now come and get me, you hawk!'

So the hawk, without bragging about its own strength, without mentioning its own strength, folded its two wings and suddenly swooped down toward the quail. When the quail knew, 'The hawk is coming at me full speed,' it slipped behind the clump of earth, and right there the hawk shattered its breast.

This is what happens to anyone who wanders into what is not his proper range and is the territory of others.

For this reason, you should not wander into what is not your proper range and is the territory of others. In one who wanders into what is not his proper range and is the territory of others, Mara gains an opening, Mara gains a foothold. And what, for a monk, is not his proper range and is the territory of others? The five strands of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable by the eye-agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable by the ear...Smells cognizable by the nose...Tastes cognizable by the tongue...Tactile sensations cognizable by the body-agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. These, for a monk, are not his proper range and are the territory of others.

Wander, monks, in what is your proper range, your own ancestral territory. In one who wanders in what is his proper range, his own ancestral territory, Mara gains no opening, Mara gains no foothold. And what, for a monk, is his proper range, his own ancestral territory? The four frames of reference....This, for a monk, is his proper range, his own ancestral territory.
S.XLVII.6

38. Proper Range 2. There are in the Himalayas, the king of mountains, difficult, uneven areas where neither monkeys nor human beings wander. There are difficult, uneven areas where monkeys wander, but not human beings. There are level stretches of land, delightful, where both monkeys and human beings wander. In such spots hunters set a tar trap in the monkeys' tracks, in order to catch some monkeys. Those monkeys who are not foolish or careless by nature, when they see the tar trap, will keep their distance. But any monkey who is foolish and careless by nature comes up to the tar trap and grabs it with its paw, which then gets stuck there. Thinking, 'I'll free my paw,' he grabs it with his other paw. That too gets stuck. Thinking, 'I'll free both of my paws,' he grabs it with his foot. That too gets stuck. Thinking, 'I'll free both of my paws and my foot,' he grabs it with his other foot. That too gets stuck. Thinking, 'I'll free both of my paws and my feet as well,' he grabs it with his mouth. That too gets stuck. So the monkey, snared in five ways, lies there whimpering, having fallen on misfortune, fallen on ruin, a prey to whatever the hunter wants to do with him. Then the hunter, without releasing the monkey, skewers him right there, picks him up, and goes off as he likes.

This is what happens to anyone who wanders into what is not his proper range and is the territory of others. For this reason, you should not wander into what is not your proper range and is the territory of others....
S.XLVII.7

39. Mindfulness of the Body. There is the case where a monk, seeing a form with the eye, is obsessed with pleasing forms, is repelled by unpleasing forms, and remains with body-mindfulness unestablished, with limited awareness. He does not discern, as it actually is present, the release of awareness, the release of discernment where any evil, unskillful mental qualities that have arisen utterly cease without remainder. (Similarly with ear, nose, tongue, body, and intellect.)

Just as if a person, catching six animals of different ranges, of different habitats, were to bind them with a strong rope. Catching a snake, he would bind it with a strong rope. Catching a crocodile...a bird...a dog...a hyena...a monkey, he would bind it with a strong rope. Binding them all with a strong rope, and tying a knot in the middle, he would set chase to them.

Then those six animals, of different ranges, of different habitats, would each pull toward its own range and habitat. The snake would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the anthill.' The crocodile would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the water.' The bird would pull, thinking, 'I'll fly up into the air.' The dog would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the village.' The hyena would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the charnel ground.' The monkey would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the forest.' And when these six animals became internally exhausted, they would submit, they would surrender, they would come under the sway of whichever among them was the strongest. In the same way, when a monk whose mindfulness immersed in the body is undeveloped and unpursued, the eye pulls toward pleasing forms, while unpleasing forms are repellent. The ear pulls toward pleasing sounds...the nose pulls toward pleasing smells...the tongue pulls toward pleasing tastes...the body pulls toward pleasing tactile sensations...the intellect pulls toward pleasing ideas, while unpleasing ideas are repellent. This, monks, is lack of restraint.

And what is restraint? There is the case where a monk, seeing a form with the eye, is not obsessed with pleasing forms, is not repelled by unpleasing forms, and remains with body-mindfulness established, with immeasurable awareness. He discerns, as it actually is present, the release of awareness, the release of discernment where all evil, unskillful mental qualities that have arisen utterly cease without remainder. (Similarly with ear, nose, tongue, body, and intellect.)

Just as if a person, catching six animals of different ranges, of different habitats, were to bind them with a strong rope...and tether them to a strong post or stake.

Then those six animals, of different ranges, of different habitats, would each pull toward its own range and habitat....And when these six animals became internally exhausted, they would stand, sit, or lie down right there next to the post or stake. In the same way, when a monk whose mindfulness immersed in the body is developed and pursued, the eye does not pull toward pleasing forms, and unpleasing forms are not repellent. The ear does not pull toward pleasing sounds...the nose does not pull toward pleasing smells...the tongue does not pull toward pleasing tastes...the body does not pull toward pleasing tactile sensations...the intellect does not pull toward pleasing ideas, and unpleasing ideas are not repellent.

This, monks, is restraint.

The 'strong post or stake' is a term for mindfulness immersed in the body.

Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, give it a means of transport, give it a grounding. We will steady it, consolidate it, and set about it properly.' That's how you should train yourselves.
S.XXXV.206

40. Suppose, monks, that a large crowd of people comes thronging together, saying, 'The beauty queen! The beauty queen!' And suppose that the beauty queen is highly accomplished at singing and dancing, so that an even greater crowd comes thronging, saying, 'The beauty queen is singing! The beauty queen is dancing!' Then a man comes along, desiring life and shrinking from death, desiring pleasure and abhorring pain. They say to him, 'Now look here, mister. You must take this bowl filled to the brim with oil and carry it on your head in between the great crowd and the beauty queen. A man with a raised sword will follow right behind you, and wherever you spill even a drop of oil, right there will he cut off your head.' Now what do you think, monks: Will that man, not paying attention to the bowl of oil, let himself get distracted outside?

No, lord.

I have given you this parable to convey a meaning. The meaning is this: The bowl filled to the brim with oil stands for mindfulness immersed in the body. Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, give it a means of transport, give it a grounding. We will steady it, consolidate it, and set about it properly.' That's how yyou should train yourselves.
S.XLVII.20

41. With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established,
restrained with respect to the six
media of contact,
always concentrated, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.
UD.III.5

42. Whoever pervades the great ocean with his awareness encompasses whatever rivulets flow down into the ocean. In the same way, whoever develops and pursues mindfulness immersed in the body encompasses whatever skillful qualities are on the side of clear knowing.

When one thing is practiced and pursued, the body is calmed, the mind is calmed, thinking and evaluating are stilled, and all qualities on the side of clear knowing go to the culmination of their development.

Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body.

When one thing is practiced and pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body.

Those who do not taste mindfulness of the body do not taste the Deathless. Those who taste mindfulness of the body taste the Deathless. Those who are heedless of mindfulness of the body are heedless of the Deathless.

Those who comprehend mindfulness of the body comprehend the Deathless.
A.I.225, 227, 230,
235, 239, 245

43. The Deathless. There are these four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains focused on the body in and of itself, he abandons desire with regard to the body. As he abandons desire with regard to the body, he realizes the Deathless.

He remains focused on feelings in and of themselves...mind in and of itself... mental qualities in and of themselves-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. As he remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves, he abandons desire with regard to mental qualities. As he abandons desire with regard to mental qualities, he realizes the Deathless.
S.XLVII.37

44. It is just as if there were a great pile of dust at a four-way intersection. If a cart or chariot came from the east, that pile of dust would be totally leveled. If a cart or chariot came from the west...from the north...from the south, that pile of dust would be totally leveled. In the same way, when a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself, then evil, unskillful qualities are totally leveled. If he remains focused on feelings...mind... mental qualities in and of themselves, then evil, unskillful qualities are totally leveled.
S.LIV.10

45. Now when Ven. Anuruddha was meditating in solitude, this train of thought appeared in his awareness: 'Whoever neglects the four frames of reference neglects the noble path going to the right ending of stress. Whoever undertakes the four frames of reference undertakes the noble path going to the right ending of stress.'

Then Ven. Maha Moggallana, as soon as he perceived with his awareness the train of thought in Ven. Anuruddha's awareness-as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm-appeared in front of Ven. Anuruddha and said to him, 'To what extent are the four frames of reference undertaken?'

Anuruddha: 'There is the case, my friend, of a monk who internally remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, remains focused on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, remains focused on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

'Externally he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body....

'Internally and externally he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, remains focused on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, remains focused on the phenomenon of origination and passing away with regard to the body-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

'If he wants, he remains percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome. If he wants, he remains percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome. If he wants, he remains percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome and what is. If he wants, he remains percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not. If he wants-in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not-cutting himself off from both, he remains equanimous, alert, and mindful. [98; 181]

(Similarly with regard to feelings, mind and mental qualities.)

'It is to this extent, my friend, that the four frames of reference are undertaken....'
S.LII.1

46. It is good for a monk if, at the appropriate times, he remains percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome. It is good if, at the appropriate times, he remains percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome....percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome and what is...percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not. It is good if, at the appropriate times-in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not-cutting himself off from both, he remains equanimous, alert, and mindful.

Now, with what purpose should a monk remain percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome? 'Don't let passion arise within me in the presence of things that excite passion.' With this purpose should a monk remain percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome.

And with what purpose should a monk remain percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome? 'Don't let aversion arise within me in the presence of things that excite aversion'....

And with what purpose should a monk remain percipient of loathsomeness in the presence of what is not loathsome and what is? 'Don't let passion arise within me in the presence of things that excite passion. Don't let aversion arise within me in the presence of things that excite aversion'....

And with what purpose should a monk remain percipient of unloathsomeness in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not? 'Don't let aversion arise within me in the presence of things that excite aversion. Don't let passion arise within me in the presence of things that excite passion'....

And with what purpose should a monk-in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not-cutting himself off from both, remain equanimous, alert, and mindful? 'Don't let passion-in any object, in any place, in any amount-arise within me in the presence of things that excite passion. Don't let aversion-in any object, in any place, in any amount-arise within me in the presence of things that excite aversion. Don't let delusion-in any object, in any place, in any amount-arise within me in the presence of things that excite delusion.' With this purpose should a monk-in the presence of what is loathsome and what is not-cutting himself off from both, remain equanimous, alert, and mindful. [98; 181]
A.V.144

47. Protecting Oneself and Others. Once upon a time, monks, a bamboo acrobat, having erected a bamboo pole, addressed his assistant, Frying Pan: 'Come, my dear Frying Pan. Climb up the bamboo pole and stand on my shoulders.'

'As you say, Master,' Frying Pan answered the bamboo acrobat and, climbing the bamboo pole, stood on his shoulders.

So then the bamboo acrobat said to his assistant, 'Now you watch after me, my dear Frying Pan, and I'll watch after you. Thus, protecting one another, watching after one another, we'll show off our skill, receive our reward, and come down safely from the bamboo pole.'

When he had said this, Frying Pan said to him, 'But that won't do at all, Master. You watch after yourself, and I'll watch after myself, and thus with each of us protecting ourselves, watching after ourselves, we'll show off our skill, receive our reward, and come down safely from the bamboo pole.'

What Frying Pan, the assistant, said to her Master was the right way in that case.

Monks, a frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after myself.' A frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after others.' When watching after oneself, one watches after others. When watching after others, one watches after oneself.

And how does one, when watching after oneself, watch after others? Through pursuing [the practice], through developing it, through devoting oneself to it. This is how one, when watching after oneself, watches after others.

And how does one, when watching after others, watch after oneself? Through endurance, through harmlessness, and through a mind of kindness and sympathy. This is how one, when watching after others, watches after oneself.

A frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after myself.' A frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after others.' When watching after oneself, one watches after others. When watching after others, one watches after oneself.
S.XLVII.19

48. Then, when the Blessed One had entered the Rains Retreat, there arose a severe illness within him. Sharp and deadly were the pains, but he bore them mindfully, alert, and unperturbed. The thought occurred to him, 'It would not be proper for me to enter total Unbinding without addressing my attendants and without taking leave of the community of monks. Why don't I, suppressing this illness with persistence, remain resolved on the fabrication of life?' So he suppressed the illness with persistence and remained resolved on the fabrication of life. His illness abated.

Then he recovered from the illness. Soon after his recovery he came out of his dwelling and sat down in the shade of the building, on a seat prepared for him. Then Ven. Ananda approached him and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat down to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, 'What a happy sight to see the Blessed One in comfort! What a happy sight to see the Blessed One at ease! Because of the Blessed One's sickness my own body felt as if it were drugged. I lost my bearings. Things were unclear to me. Yet I still took a measure of comfort in the thought that the Blessed One would not enter total Unbinding as long as he hadn't given at least some pronouncement concerning the community of monks.'

'What more does the community of monks want from me, Ananda? I have taught the Dhamma without an inner or an outer version. The Tathagata has no closed fist with regard to teachings. Whoever has the thought, 'I will rule the community of monks,' or 'The community of monks is dedicated to me,' he should give some pronouncement concerning the community of monks. But the Tathagata has no such thoughts. So why should he give some pronouncement concerning the community of monks?

'I am old now, Ananda, and aged. My years have turned eighty. Just as an old cart is kept going with the help of bamboo strips, it seems to me as if the Tathagata's body is kept going with the help of bamboo strips. The only time the Tathagata's body feels at ease is when, not attending to any theme at all, and with the cessation of certain feelings, he enters and remains in the theme-less concentration of awareness. Therefore each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. Remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge. And how does a monk remain with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? How does he remain with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings...mind...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. This is how a monk remains with his self as an island, his self as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge, with the Dhamma as an island, the Dhamma as his refuge, without anything else as a refuge. For those who-now or after I am gone-remain with their self as an island...the Dhamma as their refuge, without anything else as a refuge, they will be the highest of the monks who desire training.'
D.16


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