Buddhist path of liberation is indeed a process of purification of mind. Its preliminary step is found in the training of Sīla, which finds expression through right speech, right actions and right livelihood. The follower mainly to get rid of the mental defilements such as craving, aversion and ignorance practices these three steps of the Noble Eightfold path. It is evident that the wrong speech, wrong actions and wrong livelihood lead to the development of those defilements in the mind. Through the training of conduct (Sīla) most of the rough defilements can be restrained.
In Buddhist path of liberation, mental purification is a necessary condition for arising insight into the ultimate reality. Without having the insight into the reality, the complete eradication of defilements (Nirodha or Nibböa) is impossible. The crucial factor for mental development is the mental culture, which comprises right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration in the Buddhist path. Right effort and right mindfulness are the supportive factors for the right concentration. The concentration or the one-pointedness of the mind is possible through meditation, which is of two kinds namely, Samatha Bhvan and Vipassan Bhvan
Samatha Bhvan is a form of meditation which leads to mental concentration where defilements are still retain in very subtle forms. As the result of this type of mental concentration one can attain higher kinds of Jhns or trances. The liberation, which is the complete cessation of defilements, cannot be achieved through mere mental concentration alone. In this respect, one has to find Vipassan meditation, which leads to both mental concentration as well as insight knowledge into the ultimate reality.
Satipa hna sutta delivered by the Buddha, presents the system of meditation which leads to both mental concentration and insight into the nature of reality. The nature of reality is nothing but the impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and soullessness or non-substantiality (anatta). Items of meditation given in this Sutta by the Buddha are quite conducive to look at the nature as it is or in other words to look at the three characteristics of the nature.
The distinguished characteristic of the Satipa hāna Sutta, discourse of the Setting-up of Mindfulness is that the most items given in the Sutta are directly related to the life of the man. Speaking on this special feature of Satipa hāna Sutta, venerable Walpola Rahula says in his What the Buddha Taught: “The ways of meditation given in this discourse are not cut off from life, no do they avoid life, our daily activities, our sorrows and joys, our words and thoughts, our moral and intellectual occupation”.
There are many guidebooks written on Satipa hāna Sutta. It is no doubt that however many books are written on the Sutta so far value of it becomes more illuminative for the most important discourse ever given by the Buddha on mental development is the Satipa hāna Sutta. Therefore it is certain that the present booklet written by venerable Dr. Bokonnoruwe Devananda may broaden and brighten up the knowledge of the readers of the meditation on the four foundations of mindfulness.
Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa
Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies
International Buddhist Collage, Thailand
A humble word from the Composer …….
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all whose generous assistance and co-operation helped bring my work to readers in the United States, the West and Asia.
I am extremely grateful to Most Venerable Buttawatte Saranankara Nayaka Maha Thero, the abbot of the Sri Lanka Buddhist Maha Vihara in Malaysia and other all co-monks who have extended their unstinting and generous support in publishing this booklet. I gratefully thank the Most Venerable Kokkavita Wipulasara Thero, abbot of the Florida Buddhist Vihara, for providing me with the opportunity to practice the Dhamma here in the United States. Likewise, I am indebted to the Venerable M. Ananda Thero, resident monk of the Florida Buddhist Vihara, for his most gracious support.
I heartily thank Kathy Nappier for her editorial services and for organizing the volunteers who so generously donated their time, support or other valuable input in bringing this book to the United States and other corner of the world as well: Mr.Vijaya Samarawickrama also has done a great job in pursuit of this work. Likewise, I am most beholden to all devotees-named and unnamed- who have graciously and unselfishly provided for my necessities during my pursuit in this work. I, indeed, must remember the great name, Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa, Dean, Faculty of Religious Studies International Buddhist College, Thailand, respectfully who wrote an excellent preface. Prof. Senarath Vijayasundara also helped me in many ways to make this work perfect, so my due grateful thanks always goes to him.
I am also grateful to Madam Lucia Sng for her and others’ generous contribution towards the printing cost and all other Buddhist Organization, Association for undertaking the publication
I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr.Joe Kleinberg for his beautiful cover art and his invaluable technical assistance in the publication of this book.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Christine Walters, Adjunct Instructor, University of South Florida, Tampa for her beautiful proof reading and invaluable technical assistance in the publication of this book
As always, my special thanks are due Mr. Karunarathne and Mrs. K. Weliwatta who have always assisted me in my religious services in Sri Lanka. And last, but by no means least it is my very great and happy duty to express deepest appreciation to all my Dhamma teachers and my beloved parents and brothers and sisters.