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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.

 

 
 
  CLASSICS
 

Anapanasati Sutta
(Mindfulness of Breathing Sutta)

Majjhima Nikaya 118

Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)
Translation revised October 3, 1999

Copyright 1999 Thanissaro Bhikku

This translation is reproduced with permission from AccessToInsight.org where you can find similar translations of more than 600 suttas.

 

INTRODUCTION

One of the most important texts for beginning and veteran meditators alike, this sutta is the Buddha's "roadmap" to the entire course of meditation practice, using the vehicle of breath meditation. The simple practice of mindfulness of breathing leads the practitioner gradually through sixteen successive phases of development, culminating in full Awakening.


THE TEXT

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother, together with many well-known elder disciples -- with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccayana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching and instructing. Some elder monks were teaching and instructing ten monks, some were teaching and instructing twenty monks, some were teaching and instructing thirty monks, some were teaching and instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught and instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion -- the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the Pavarana ceremony -- the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

"Monks, I am content with this practice. I am content at heart with this practice. So arouse even more intense persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. I will remain right here at Savatthi [for another month] through the 'White water-lily' month, the fourth month of the rains."

The monks in the countryside heard, "The Blessed One, they say, will remain right there at Savatthi through the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains." So they left for Savatthi to see the Blessed One.

Then the elder monks taught and instructed even more intensely. Some elder monks were teaching and instructing ten monks, some were teaching and instructing twenty monks, some were teaching and instructing thirty monks, some were teaching and instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught and instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion -- the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains -- the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

"Monks, this assembly is free from idle chatter, devoid of idle chatter, and is established on pure heartwood: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly to which a small gift, when given, becomes great, and a great gift greater: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that it is rare to see in the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly -- the sort of assembly that it would be worth traveling for leagues, taking along provisions, in order to see.

"In this community of monks there are monks 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: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of the first set of five fetters, are due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, and delusion, are once-returners, who -- on returning only one more time to this world -- will make an ending to stress: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, are stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference...the four right exertions...the four bases of power...the five faculties...the five strengths...the seven factors of awakening...the noble eightfold path: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of good will...compassion...appreciation...equanimity...[the perception of the] foulness [of the body]...the perception of inconstancy: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of in-and-out breathing.

"Mindfulness of in-and-out breathing, when developed and pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-and-out breathing, when developed and pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed and pursued, bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination. The seven factors of awakening, when developed and pursued, bring clear knowing and release to their culmination."


[Mindfulness of In-and-Out Breathing]

"Now how is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. [3] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. [4] He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes.

"[5] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture. [6] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure. [7] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes. [8] He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes.

"[9] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind. [10] He trains himself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind. [11] He trains himself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind. [12] He trains himself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind.

"[13] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy. [14] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading], and to breathe out focusing on dispassion. [15] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on cessation, and to breathe out focusing on cessation. [16] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment."


[The Four Frames of Reference]

"[1] Now, 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 the bodily processes: 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.

"[2] 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 processes; trains himself to breathe in...and...out calming mental processes: 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.

"[3] 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.

"[4] 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 their culmination."


[The Seven Factors Of Awakening]

"And how are the four frames of reference developed and pursued so as to bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination?

"[1] On whatever occasion 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, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady and without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady and without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[2] Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining, analyzing, and coming to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[3] In one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, unflagging persistence is aroused. When unflagging persistence is aroused in one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persistence as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[4] In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[5] For one who is enraptured, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body and mind of an enraptured monk grow calm, then serenity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[6] For one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- the mind becomes concentrated. When the mind of one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[7] He oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[Similarly with the other three frames of reference: feelings, mind, and mental qualities.]

"This is how the four frames of reference are developed and pursued so as to bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination."


[Clear Knowing and Release]

"And how are the seven factors of awakening developed and pursued so as to bring clear knowing and release to their culmination? There is the case where a monk develops mindfulness as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening...persistence as a factor of awakening...rapture as a factor of awakening...serenity as a factor of awakening...concentration as a factor of awakening...equanimity as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in relinquishment.

"This is how the seven factors of awakening, when developed and pursued, bring clear knowing and release to their culmination."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.

 

This page was published on December 12, 1999 and last revised on May 13, 2000.


Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.