Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.8.3 Ekadhammasuttaṃ 

The Value of Ānāpānassati and the Fruits gained thereof


‘‘Saddhāyāhaṃ pabbajito, araññe me kuṭikā katā;

Appamatto ca ātāpī, sampajāno patissato’’ti1


“Endowed with faith I left my home and having made a hut in the forest,

I dwelled vigilant, ardent and with constant thorough understanding of impermanence, fully aware.”


     The title of this sutta: ‘Ekadhammasuttaṃ’ can be translated as ‘The sutta about (the) one thing’. It maintains that ‘if this one thing gets developed and increased, it bears great fruit and results in great benefit’. Throughout the Tipiṭaka the Buddha highlights ‘one thing’ with diverse references and under different perspectives that if cultivated leads to positive results2.

     For example, the Paṭhamavaggo of the Ekadhammapāḷi3 itemizes the recollection of the (qualities) of the Buddha4, the Dhamma and the Saṅgha as one thing that, if developed and fulfilled leads to detachment, cessation, tranquillity, wisdom, full enlightenment and Nibbāna. Again, this is followed by the one thing of awareness, upkeep of moral and ethical principles, generosity, respect towards higher beings, practise of Ānāpāna, awareness of the possibility of death that may happen every moment, safeguarding of constant awareness of the body5 and sustaining of mental quietude and inner calm.6

     The current sutta, the Ekadhammasutta now defines as the one thing the practise of, the process and the benefits and result of the practise of Ānāpānassati in the following detailed steps7:

     The process starts with the observation of in-going and out-coming respiration; observation of short or long in-going and out-coming breath; the training of feeling or experiencing the whole body; and from there leads to the training of calming down the bodily activities, all along with the observation of respiration8.

     From here one proceeds to the training of developing the mental qualities of bliss; happiness; the feeling of mental conditioned reaction; the calming of mental conditioned reaction; then moves on to observation of the mind; feeling delight in the mind;  feeling a concentrated mind – which leads to feeling the liberated mind!9 The practitioner needs to put forth and uphold effort incessantly - expressed by the emphasis that points to the training process: “sikkhati” – “thus he trains himself.”

     With this base he further trains himself to understand on the base of his own observation and the development thereof to experience and feel anupassīimpermanence; dispassion; cessation; and relinquishment10.

     A similar process is provided in Kāyānupassanā, the first chapter of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta11, which unfolds with the paragraph about Ānāpāna, then followed by the paragraph on bodily postures and sampajāna. The instruction in these paragraphs is clearly given to those who are ready for direct meditative advice.12

     The proceeding paragraphs of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta on mental loathsomeness, understanding of the elements as well as observation of the obvious decay of the body13 are directed to those who need mental, intellectual or logical support as presented in these paragraphs, on base of which considerations and rational interference may be stirred to move on to meditative practise as explained in the first three paragraphs.

     The definition and explanation of sati in its four constituents – as portrayed in the previous lesson14 – two physical and two mental15 – is likewise analysed in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta16 in all detail which encompasses four respective chapters which are respectively subdivided in this Exploring the Path in the direct Words of the Buddha:

❧ The chapter on Kāyānupassanā17

❧ The chapter on Vedanānupassanā18

❧ The chapter on Cittānupassanā19

❧ The chapter on Dhammānupassanā20

     ‘Sati’- sammāsati’ presents its importance as a necessary base, as a prerequisite and indispensable requirement which can be discerned in its various manifestations when the Path is elucidated:

❧ sati is one of the eight constituents of the Eightfold Noble Path, the second member grouped under the section of samādhi in the triad sammāviriya, sammāsati, sammāsamādhi;

❧ sati is essential in its fourfold application in the cattāro satipaṭṭhānā;

❧ sati is the base and first link of the seven factors of enlightenment21

❧ sati is one of the five supportive strengths22: Pañcimāni,  bhikkhave,  balāni.  Katamāni  pañca?  Saddhābalaṃ,  vīriyabalaṃ,  satibalaṃ,  samādhibalaṃ, paññābalaṃ–imāni kho, bhikkhave, pañca balānī”ti.

❧ sati is likewise one of the five controlling faculties: Pañcimāni, bhikkhave, indriyāni. Katamāni pañca?  Saddhindriyaṃ, vīriyindriyaṃ, satindriyaṃ, samādhindriyaṃ, paññindriyaṃ – imāni kho, bhikkhave, pañcindriyānī”ti23. If the relishing, the inherent danger therein and the escape is fully realized then the fruit of the release of the lower world of existence and the inevitability of full deliverances is ascertained.24

❧ sati therefore also shows its four–fold appearance in the thirty seven bodhipakkhiyā dhammā25

     That is why it said that sati is called the necessary base and a compulsory prerequisite like salt26 that is desirable in all dishes27:

“… Cittañhi satipaṭisaraṇaṃ, ārakkhapaccupaṭṭhānā28 ca sati, na vinā satiyā cittassa paggahaniggaho29 hotī’’ti30.

… Why is this so? Because the mind has sati as its refuge, sati provides protection for the mind and without sati there will be no exertion and no restraint of the mind.”

     Likewise the Buddha points out that sati should be established everywhere:

Satiñca khvāhaṃ, bhikkhave, sabbatthikaṃ vadāmī’’ti.31

and the commentary that compares sati with a minister of state who responsibly takes care of everything:

…evaṃ uddhatassa cittassa niggaṇhanaṃ, līnassa paggaṇhananti32 sabbametaṃ satiyā ijjhati, na sakkā vinā satiyā etaṃ sampādetuṃ33, tasmā evamāha.34

…just like restraining an unbalanced mind and again upraising a slothful mind can all get accomplished successfully by sati and would not be possible without sati – that is why it said so!

‘‘Maraṇe me bhayaṃ natthi, nikanti natthi jīvite;

Sandehaṃ35 nikkhipissāmi,36 sampajāno paṭissato’’ti37

I am not afraid of death, nor do I desire anything from life,

When I will be released of the body I remain with constant thorough understanding of impermanence fully aware.” 

[1] These verses were uttered by a Bhikkhu who became known by the name ofKosalavihāriṃ’ - ‘Dweller of Kosala’. After having heard a discourse by the Buddha, filled with devotion and faith he went forth and settled under a tree in a forest in the Kosala-region. A lay-follower who observed him prepared a hut - kuṭikā - and invited him to meditate and dwell there. After achieving Arahanthood Kosalavihāri uttered these verses and remained living there. Kosalavihārittheragāthā, Khuddakanikāye, Theragāthāpāḷi

[2] see for example the previous sutta/introduction to sampajaññaṃ: 3.8.2 Satisuttaṃ - Remaining Sato and Sampajāno likewise lesson 3.7.5 Akammaniyavaggo & AdantavaggoMastering the Mind

[3] Ekakanipātapāḷi, Aṅguttaranikāyo

[4] Buddhānussati. Ayaṃ kho, bhikkhave, ekadhammo bhāvito bahulīkato ekantanibbidāya virāgāya nirodhāya upasamāya abhiññāya sambodhāya nibbānāya saṃvattatī’’ti.

[5] see 3.8.5 Kāyagatāsativaggo - The Many Benefits derived from the Awareness of the Body

[6] Katamo ekadhammo? Dhammānussati…pe… saṅghānussati… sīlānussati… cāgānussati… devatānussati… ānāpānassati… maraṇassati… kāyagatāsati… upasamānussati.

[7] Further details in regards to these sixteen steps which can be subdivided into four tetrads will be provided in the next lesson: 3.8.4 Ānāpānassatisuttaṃ cont. – How does the full Cultivation of Ānāpānassati nurture full Development of the four Satipaṭṭhāna?

[8]satova assasati, satova passasati’; - ‘dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘dīghaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti’; -  ‘dīghaṃ vā passasanto ‘dīghaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti’; - ‘rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘rassaṃ assasāmī’ti pajānāti’; - ‘rassaṃ vā passasanto ‘rassaṃ passasāmī’ti pajānāti’; - ‘sabbakāyappaṭisaṃvedī’ -‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ

[9]pītippaṭisaṃvedī’ - ‘sukhappaṭisaṃvedī’ – ‘cittasaṅkhārappaṭisaṃvedī’ - ‘passambhayaṃ cittasaṅkhāraṃ’ - ‘cittappaṭisaṃvedī’ -‘abhippamodayaṃ cittaṃ’ - ‘samādahaṃ cittaṃ’ - ‘vimocayaṃ cittaṃ

[10] ‘aniccānupassī’ - ‘virāgānupassī’ - - ‘nirodhānupassī’ - ‘paṭinissaggānupassī’

[11] Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṃ, Mahāvaggapāḷi, Dīghanikāyo

[12] Kāyānupassanā ānāpānapabbaṃ, - Kāyānupassanā iriyāpathapabbaṃ, - Kāyānupassanā sampajānapabbaṃ

[13] Kāyānupassanā paṭikūlamanasikārapabbaṃ, - Kāyānupassanā dhātumanasikārapabbaṃ, - Kāyānupassanā navasivathikapabbaṃ

[14] see lesson 3.8.2 Satisuttaṃ - Remaining Sato and Sampajāno

[15] Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, citte cittānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ, dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ

[16] The exactly same description/sutta appears: Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasuttaṃ, Mūlapariyāyavaggo, Mūlapaṇṇāsapāḷi, Majjhimanikāyo

[17] 3.8.0 to 3.8.5

[18] 3.8.6 to 3.8.11

[19] 3.8.12

[20] 3.8.13

[21] see 3.7.9: Ānāpānassatisutta - Satta Bojjhaṅge – Perfecting the seven Factors of Enlightenment

[22] Katamañca,  bhikkhave,  satibalaṃ?  Idha,  bhikkhave,  ariyasāvako satimā hoti paramena satinepakkena samannāgato, cirakatampi cirabhāsitampi saritā anussaritā. Idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, satibalaṃ. -  Vitthatasuttaṃ Aṅguttaranikāyo, Pañcakanipātapāḷi, Paṭhamapaṇṇāsakaṃ, Balavaggo

[23] Suddhikasuttaṃ …..mahāvaggapāḷi, Saṃyuttanikāyo, Mahāvaggo, Indriyasaṃyuttaṃ

[24] imesaṃ pañcannaṃ indriyānaṃ assādañca  ādīnavañca nissaraṇañca  yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti – ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako sotāpanno avinipātadhammo niyato sambodhiparāyaṇo”ti.

Paṭhamasotāpannasuttaṃ mahāvaggapāḷi, Saṃyuttanikāyo, Mahāvaggo, Indriyasaṃyuttaṃ

[25] A description of the bodhipakkhiyā dhammā can be found at 3.7.0: Right EffortSīlalakkhaṇapañhoProceeding Further on the Path - the Wholesome Base of Sīla is only a Precondition!

[26] tasmā sā loṇadhūpanaṃ viya sabbabyañjanesu… sabbattha icchitabbā

[27] Dasavidhaappanākosallaṃ, Pathavīkasiṇaniddeso, Visuddhimaggo, see also introduction to 3.7.9 Ānāpānassatisutta - Satta Bojjhaṅge – Perfecting the seven Factors of Enlightenment

[28] ārakkhapaccupaṭṭhānā: ārakkha + paccupaṭṭhānā: protection + provision, attending to

[29] paggahaniggaho: paggahaniggaho: exertion + restraint, coercion

[30] Dasavidhaappanākosallaṃ, Pathavīkasiṇaniddeso, Visuddhimaggo

[31] Aggisuttaṃ, Sākacchavaggo, Bojjhaṅgasaṃyuttaṃ, Mahāvagga, Saṃyuttanikāye

[32] paggaṇhanati: (pa + gaṇhāti): strain, exert, put forth

[33] sampādeti: caus. of sampajjati: try to succeed, accomplish, make it happen

[34] Aggisuttavaṇṇanā

[35] sandeho: doubt, one’s body

[36] nikkhipissāmi: I will lay aside, get rid of

[37] Ajitattheragāthā, Khuddakanikāye,Theragāthāpāḷi


Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.8.3

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Last modified: Wednesday, 17 February 2021, 12:18 PM