The Doctrine of Paticcasamuppada

by U Than Daing | 1996 | 18,306 words

This book deals with Paticcasamuppada (‘dependent origination’): a Pali compound consisting of three words: 1) Patticca, which means “because” and “dependent upon”, 2) Sam, which means “well”, 3) and Uppada, which means “arising of effect through cause”. So dependent on ‘cause’ there arises ‘effect’; hence it is known in English as “Law of Depe...

Chapter 15 - Vipassana Meditation

Satipatthana Suttas universally known in the Buddhist world. As there are four Satipatthanas, they are like four stairways to a Pagoda. By whichever stairway one uses, the platform of the Pagoda can be reached.

They are:

  1. Kayanupassana: contemplation on Rupa (components);
  2. Vedananupassana: contemplation on sensations or feelings;
  3. Cittanupassana: contemplation on mind or consciousness;
  4. Dhammanupassana: contemplation on Sacca.

It is important to note that by taking up Kayanupassana, one does not exclude the remaining three Anupassanas. The only difference is in emphasis or predominance or propensity. It should be noted that in penultimate para of every chapter of Satipatthana, there are such sentences as

'Samudaya Dhammanupassiva viharati,
Vayadhammanupassiva viharati,
samudaya vayadhammanupassiva viharati.'

These three points are important factors in Vipassana meditation therefore until and unless these three points are contemplated it will always remain a Satipatthana which means only 'mindfulness' or 'awareness.' It will not come up and develop to the stage of Vipassana. Generally Yogis in spite of their noble intentions and earnestness can be said to be stranded either in mindfulness or one-pointedness of mind (samadhi) which is no doubt necessary up to a certain stage, that is, in building up Samadhi.

Moreover, in the same Sutta, it will be seen that in the ultimate paragraph of every chapter there is a sentence

'Atthi Ka yotiva panassa sati paccuppatthita hoti'.

It means, in the Yogi there is only mindfulness or awareness of in and out breathing.

There is another sentence,

'Yivadeva Ni namattaya patisatimattaya Anissitosa viharati.'

It means, in this Yogi has gradually developed his insight.

At this point, the Yogi reaches Vipassana state, therefore he does not look upon Kaya, Vedana, Citta or Dhamma as his nor does he think

'I am meditating. It is I, who meditate, or my concentration is very good, my mindfulness on Anapana is very satisfactory.'

'Naca Kinci loke upadiyati.'

The Yogi does not cling to any Kaya, Vedana, Sanna or Sankhara or Vinnana as I, or as my Kaya, or Vedana or Citta.'

'Evampikho Bhikkhave Kaye Kayanupassi viharati.'

It means really this is indeed the way that a Yogi meditates on Kayanupassana.

It can be safely said without any prejudice that a close and careful inquiry about the present day Vipassana. meditation will reveal that most of the Yogis reach only halfway because generally the most important point in Satipatthana Sutta has been overlooked, i.e. 'Samudaya Vaya Dhammanupassiva Viharati which is the central core.



According to the late Maha Thera Mogok Sayadaw, Satipatthana is divided into three parts:

  1. Satipatthana (mindfulness or Awareness);
  2. Satipatthana Bhavana (Contemplation on arising and perishing);
  3. Satipatthana gaminipatipada (The path leading to the cessation of Sankhara or Arising and Vanishing).

To elucidate: -

1. Fixing of concentrating the mind on any given object, i.e. inbreathing or outbreathing or nothing of the movement of body or mind, it is called Satipatthana.

2. Contemplation of Rupa, Vedana, Citta or Dhamma and their arising and instantly passing away (Samudaya Vaya Dhammnupassiva.) is Satipatthina Bhavana.

3. The Knowledge of conditioned phenomena i.e. arising and perishing of Khandha (aggregates) as disgusting is called Satipatthana gaminipatipada, the path leading to the termination or cessation of Samkhara or arising and vanishing. It is to be noted that Anussati falls into the category of Samatha, whereas Anupassana; is Vipassana, and until and unless there is knowledge of arising or vanishing of Khandhas as Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta, it never amounts to Vipassana.

The Buddha said to Susima Paribbajaka,

'Susima, Moggova Phalamva Nasamadhi nisandho, nasamakhinisanso, nasamadhi nipphati.
Vipassanaya panesa nisandho vipassanayanisanso, vipassanaya nipphatti.'

It means, Susima, it is not because of Samadhi that Magga phala are realised and attained but because of Vipassana that Magga phala are realised and attained. It is Vipassana which can only bear fruit, which can only bring about the required result and can be fulfilled by its virtue by which only can the Magga phala be attained.

The Buddha said,

'Pubbhekho Susima Dhammathitinanam pacca nibbidananam,'

It means

'O Susima Yathabhutananam (Penetrative knowledge of what actually and really is in our being which is always arising and vanishing) comes first and Nibbidananam follows after that.

In other words, the Yogi with his penetrative insight realises firstly that the phenomenon of arising and vanishing is nothing out suffering, and secondly there arises in him the knowledge that the conditioned phenomena are repugnant, disgustful and utterly undesirable.

It is obvious now that the Buddha taught that by two stages of insight the final enlightenment can be realised. Whereas in the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta the Buddha taught that it can be realized by three stages of Wisdom, Sacca Nana, Kicca Nana and Kata Nana.

Therefore those well intending Yogis are advised not to follow the long and tedious path but to try to take short cut which is taught by the Buddha.