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What is Sati? (mindfulness)

by Tissa Weeraratna

Sati. The main tool one has to use to understand the nature of you. (Mind and Matter.)


Sati does not mean "to concentrate or focus. Balanced attention on breathing. Freely and natural breathing help physical and mental problems.
SATI, = mindfulness, attention, awareness, recall, recollection: the mind's ability to know and observe itself. Sati is the vehicle and transport mechanism for pañña, without sati wisdom cannot be developed, retrieved, or applied. Sati is not memory or remembering, although related to them. Nor is it mere heedfulness or carefulness. Sati allows us to be aware of what we are about to do. It is characterized by speed and agility

Sati SAMPAJAÑÑA, wisdom-in-action, functional wisdom, ready comprehension, clear comprehension. While pañña (wisdom) is developed, or "stored up," through introspection and insight, sampajanna is the immediate and specific application of wisdom to, and into, a particular situation or experience. While panna understands that "everything is void," sampajanna understands that "this is void." All understanding relies on mindfulness for its appearance, recall, and application.sati and panna must work together. Pañña depends on sati. It arises through mindfulness of life's experiences and is applied to present experience through mindfulness. Yet, without sufficient wisdom, mindfulness would be misused.( Panna= wisdom )

Suffering is because we do not see or ignorant of the causes that determine suffering. Ask this question. Within my own life experience how do I see this actually happening? One has to realise the fact that one is ignorant of the causal forces that determines things. (Avijja paccaya sankara) With out our knowledge causal forces are engaged in creating existential suffering (Bhava-dukkha) Conditioning forces are at liberty to create conditions that make you suffer. How to stop this? Only sati and sati sampajanna will help to understand a process is taking place, name of this process, Principle of Dependent Origination.

We have to realise that because of ignorance suffering Originate. Please let me say to you what is ignorance in Buddha dhamma language is the feeling, what I experience is named as me and my self. The proof of that ignorance is the fact that one thinks all that living experience is mine. This is why non-seeing leads you from delusion to further delusion. Sankhara means formations dependent on conditions. Mindfulness helps you to see this. This is not enough. Sati Sampajanna has to come in here to see that intentional action is me and my self (Kamma) but all sankharas are not kamma. One has to see Sankharakkandha as one of the five aggregates of all mental formations which include intention,cetana that leads to action that is kamma. SatiSampajanna can now find merit, demerit and samadhi (quiet, happy, steady mind)

Sankhara means things upon which other things depend. Sati, mindfulness of the five aggregates of mental formation will give us a better understanding of what is meant by Sankharakkandha. One has to understand three parts of Sankharakkandha that is Body (kaya) Speech (vaci) and mind (citta) what is body-determination (Kaya-sankara)? Answer is in and Out breath. What is speech (vici-sankara) Answer thinking and consider. What is mind (citta-sankhara) Answer perception and feeling. Kaya is the physical body, the material organism.Kaya-sankhara providing the answer to the question What is the cause? (hetu) what is the condition?(paccaya), what are the condition essential for the body to exist? One important condition is “In and out breathe” (Anapanasati)

Dhamma provides the most essential factor on which the body depends for it existence “ In and out breath. ( assasa – passasa ) Many conditions are necessary for the body, to keep the body alive it is inseparable from your body breathing in and out. „Anapanasati" is the Pali term for the practice of mindfulness with breathing. Learn things you experience within this fathom long body. This is what Buddha did. (vaci Sankhara) Speech. It is thinking that breaks in to words. Mind (citta Sankhara) The most essential factor to the mind or consciousness is to express itself. To manifest it self, for it to be. Combination of two factors “perception and feeling” (sanna and vedana) They are mind (citta sankhara) They are the result (paccaya), root (hetu)cause.Mind has to know of naming and feeling. This is consciousness.

Now the mind starts to give the feelings, as pleasurable, unpleasurable or neutral. Conditions (Sankara) dose not take place without the necessary conditions. Consciousness depends upon a combination of conditions (sankhara) that bring consciousness to light. A consciousness arising dependent on eye and forms is reckoned as an eye consciouness.Depending on sound and ear contact hear consciousness take place. Nose and Smell, Tongue and flavour, body and contact feeling take place and so on. Or what we say body-consciousness. Mind consciousness is little deferent because it has no direct contact to the out side world. It can only contact the out side world, eye, ear, nose, tongue and the body.

Please note that mind is dependent on eye, ear, smell, taste and boy feeling. Only then a consciousness takes place. This is an automatic process. Ask the question, how I can develop Sati or mindfulness. Every instance of change of posture one should make a mental note of the action, as well as of the intention which impelled that action. The mental noting should always register the preceding thought as well. Like, intending to stand, when you are standing be mindful standing: standing. One has to keep on practising mindfulness like this again and again. One day knowledge of mind and mater are understood together with their cause and condition so that the knowledge of mind and mater and the knowledge of cause and conditioning arise simultaneously. By developing this knowledge, the purification by Overcoming Doubt is attained.

A trained Mind has this rare ability to be mindful and watch impartially the processors taking place in the body and mind. If this is well practised, . A person who has this knowledge’s, that is. 1) Knowledge of Mind and matter (nama-rupa) 2) Cause and conditioning(paccayaparggahanana) 3) Knowledge of Equanimity of formation (Sankara Upekkhanana) can and will understand the nature of one self. We have to work with mindfulness (sati): the mind's ability to know and observe it self. Just keep your attention cantered on the breathing in a balanced way. One practice mindfulness at the present moment. Buddha said, Nibbbana is right here and now. How far is it from sati to Nibbana? This is not measured in kilometres or time. Nibbana is gratis when Ego is abandoned.

New Life is life in which the problems and questions about suffering (dukkha) have faded and disappeared.

Sri Lanka