Contemplation of the Dhammas: Dhammānupassanā (Maṅgala Sutta – Protection with Blessing)

By Venerable Uttamo Thera(尊者 鄔達摩 長老)

Condensed, the four satipatthāna objects only have mind & body. Contemplation of the body is called rūpapariggaha – discernments of the body. Contemplation of the feelings & mind is called nāmapariggaha – discernments of the mind. Combined the body & the mind contemplations become dhammānupassanā.

In the contemplation of the body – the contemplation is on the real material phenomena. They are arising by causes & conditions. They are originating from kamma, consciousness, temperature & nutriment (kamma, citta, utu, āhāra).

Some material phenomena are not by causes, the outcomes of the real material phenomena. They are called non-concrete matters (anipphanna rūpa), as an, e.g. the space element. There are 28 matters; 18 are concrete & 10 non-concrete matters. In contemplation of matters, only contemplate the 18 concrete matters, e.g., the four great elements. In contemplation of the mind, only contemplate the mundane mind with their mental states. Because they create the suffering of the round of existence.

Among the five path factors (contemplating mind), sati & ñāna (paññā) are the main important factors. Because sati takes the object & ñāna contemplates. The meaning of dhamma is quite extensive. Therefore define its meaning accordingly with its function.

If not, it can be confused. If taking dhamma as nature, then it includes everything, even Nibbāna. The main meaning of dhamma is not a being & not a soul (nisatta & nijiva). Combine with others have to understand as has its nature. So it includes all. Contemplation of dhammas is in 5 sections.

[1] The hindrances (nīvarana)
[2] The aggregates (khandhas)
[3] The sense-spheres (āyatana)
[4] The awakening factors (bojjhaṅga)
[5] The Four Noble Truths (the four ariyasacca).

Why the Buddha only divided these five dhammas? Dhamma is extensive & these only are important. In the world, it is very important to distinguish what is important & what is not or unimportant. Most human beings are wasting their precious times & energies in unimportant things & matters. This point is very important to take care, reflect & act in our daily lives accordingly.

[1] The five hindrances – The 5 Nīvaranas:

The 5 hindrances are;

<1> sensual desire (kāmacchanda),
<2> aversion (byāpāda),
<3> sloth-&-torpor (thina-middha),
<4> restlessness-&-worry (uddhacca-kukkucca)
<5> doubt (vicikicchā).

In the practice of samatha or vipassanā to remove them far away is very important. If not, the practice cannot progress. Even wholesome dhammas cannot arise. These hindrances are the causes for the defilement of the mind. It weakens knowledge. Even it can defile the purified mind (e.g., some yogis lost their samādhi which had been developed).

For each hindrance, the yogi has to know them in 5 points.--Sensual desire:

<1> There is sensual desire in me

<2> There is no sensual desire in me. Contemplate & checking the hindrance. This is not only arising now, but also happen very often. Some ask, this is practice or not. Sayadaw said that this was contemplation. If we do not reflect & check, how do we know it exists or not. With knowledge, we can correct it. This point is very important. Usually, people only are thinking about what things they have or not have? (e.g., money, power, fame…etc.) So people are always thinking with defilements (kilesa)

<3> He knows how unarisen sensual desire can arise or why it happens? Have to find out the causes. Why it happened, the Buddha not mentioned it here? But he taught in other suttas. E.g., lust arises because of wrong attention (ayoniso) on the beauty of the object. Therefore defilement arises & increases when the problem has arisen.

<4> How can the arisen sensual desire be removed? When it happens & how to remove it? Can be removed lust by contemplating the unattractiveness of the object (asubha).

<5> How can a future arising of the removed sensual desire be prevented? The other hindrances are also contemplated in these ways if we can find out the answers & try to remove them. And then contemplating dhammas internally, externally & both. With the development, the yogi discerns the arising & passing away in dhammas, etc.

[2] The aggregates: the Khandhas:

The yogi contemplates dhammas in terms of the five aggregates of clinging in the following ways. The Buddha taught three ways; -- Body aggregate (rūpakkhanda)

<1> Such is material form – knowing its nature
<2> Such is its arising
<3> Such is its passing away

The other four khandhas of; feeling, cognition volitions & consciousness are also in the same way for contemplations.

[3] Sense-spheres: Āyatanas:

The yogi contemplates dhammas in terms of the six internal & external sense-spheres, in the following ways. With the contacts of the six internal sense-spheres (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body & mind) & the six external sense-spheres (forms, sounds, odors, flavors, tangibles & mind objects) the six consciousness arise.

It is not necessary with every contact & fetter (samyojana) arises. If it is arising, then find out the causes. There are ten fetters; belief in a substantial & permanent self; doubt, dogmatic clinging to particular rules & observations, sensual desire, aversion, craving for fine material existence, craving for immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness & ignorance.

The Buddha’s instruction:

“He knows the eye, he knows forms, & he knows the fetter that arises dependent on both, & he also knows how an arisen fetter can arise, how an arisen fetter can be removed & how a future arising of the removed fetter can be prevented.” The other internal & external sense-spheres also know in this way.

The instruction can be put into simple terms. 1. With the contact of sense doors & sense objects, mind-consciousness arises, etc. 2. fetters can arise 3. Why does it happen? 4. How to remove it? 5. What has to be done for removing it?

And then the yogi contemplates the dhammas internally, externally & both; seeing the arising & passing away in dhammas, etc.

[4] The awakening factors: Bojjhaṅgas:

These are the mental qualities that provide the conditions conducive to awakening. Just as rivers incline & flow towards the ocean, they incline towards Nibbāna. There are 7 bojjhaṅgas;

<1> Mindfulness (sati),
<2> investigation of dhammas (dhamma-vicaya)
<3> energy (viriya),
<4> joy (piti),
<5> tranquillity (passaddhi),
<6> concentration (samādhi)
<7> equanimity (upekkhā).

Why the Buddha taught the bojjhanga dhammas? As a human being, it is very important to know about the unwholesome dhammas. So that we cannot fall into it. Also, as a human being, it is very important to know about wholesome dhamma. So that we can develop it. If we observe the world today & will know how important these points are (e.g., political conflicts, society problems, immorality, all sorts of pollutions, etc. are happening more than before).

If we know our mind by checking & observing, it becomes clear that what should have to be done & what should not have to be done, what is proper & what is not proper, what is beneficial & what is not beneficial, etc.

The instruction for awakening factors is: “If mindfulness (sati) is present in the yogi, he knows that mindfulness awakening factor in him. If mindfulness not present in him & knows that also.

The yogi knows how the unrisen mindfulness factor can arise. And how the arisen mindfulness factor can be perfected by development. The above instruction can be mentioned in simple ways. Contemplate for;

<1> I have sati,
<2> I don’t have sati,
<3> How to make it arises?,
<4> How to develop it?

The other six awakening factors are also practiced in these ways after that contemplating dhammas internally, externally & both. With the development, the yogi discerns the nature of arising & passing away in dhammas, etc.

[5] The Four Noble Truths: The 4 Ariyasaccas:

The final exercise among the satipatthāna contemplations is the four noble truths. The instruction is: The yogi knows as it is; “This is dukkha, this is the arising of dukkha, this is the cessation of dukkha & this is the way leading to the cessation of dukkha.”

The four noble truths have been explained quite in details before. Therefore give only a rough idea. In the Buddha’s first discourse, the penetration of the truths had three levels each; study, practice & realization.

Only we know the teaching that it can be practiced. With the practice, only one can have the realization. The Buddha was like a doctor. The four noble truths were like; disease (dukkha), virus (craving-tanhā), health (Nibbāna) & medicine (The path factors).

<1> The first truth of dukkha – Dukkha has to be understood

<2> The 2nd truth of the cause of dukkha – its origination has to be abandoned. Craving/tanhā has to be abandoned.

<3> The 3rd truth of the cessation of dukkha – Its cessation has to be realized. This is the realization of Nibbāna or the ending of dukkha.

<4> The 4th truth of the way to the cessation of dukkha – The practical path to this realization has to be developed.

This is the Noble Eightfold Path.Therefore the four noble truths are the outcome of the practice. For the penetration of dukkha thoroughly, one must do the vipassana practice, which is sīla, samādhi & paññā. With the practice going on until to the ending of vipassanā process where dukkha (the five khandhas – mind and body) & the cause (craving/tanhā) are ceased. This is Nibbāna.

The Prediction:

Near the end of the satipatthāna discourse, the Buddha gave the prediction or guarantee for the yogis who had practiced diligently without wavering would have the following results. For seven years could be expected final knowledge (arahant) or non-returning (anāgāmi).

Let alone seven years – 6 years – 5 years – 4 years – 3 years – 2 years – one year – 7 months – 6-months – 5 months – 4 months – 3 months – 2 months – one month – half a month and seven days, one of 2 fruits could be expected for him.

These were not exaggerations. The Burmese monk, Soon Loong Sayadaw (1877 - 1952) had his final realization within four months (i.e., from the beginning of the practice to the final realization, four paths & fruits within four months. The year was 1920. For Sayadaw’s life & his practice see Jack Kornfield’s book – Living Buddhist Masters).

This section on the 32nd highest blessing of seeing the noble truths is the most important of all the blessings. It is connecting with the whole Buddhist practices to end dukkha. Therefore I want to present more on this section. Actually; 30th blessing – austerity, 31st blessing – celibacy, 32nd blessing – seeing noble truths & the 33rd blessing – realizing Nibbāna are connecting with practices.

Satipatthāna Practice for Everyone:

The following Dhamma notes are from the Dhamma talk given by the Ven. Dr. Nandamalarbhivamsa. Without practicing satipatthāna, no-one can realize paths & fruits (magga & phala). There were enough evidence about this in some suttas. The Nalanda Sutta (from Satipatthāna saṁyutta) & Mahā-parinibbāna Sutta had mentioned this point.

Ven. Sariputta answered to the Buddha was: Every bodhisatta of the past had to abandon the hindrances with samādhi practice, had to concentrate on the satipatthāna practice, and had to develop the awakening factors (bojjhaṅgas) and became a Buddha.

The Buddha accepted his answer. Ven. Ānanda also mentioned the same thing; everyone by abandoning the hindrances, contemplations of the satipatthāna & developing the awakening factors became a noble being. Some writers wrote: “Did satipatthāna cut off the wrong view (ditthi) or craving (tanhā)?”

The Buddha Dhamma is cutting off all defilements (kilesas). The differences were only in the number of defilements which had been abandoned. E.g., the stream-winner (i.e., sotāpanna) has been cut off all wrong views & some amount of greed, anger & delusion.

Some amount of greed, anger & delusion here means, these defilements which can send a being to the woeful planes of existence. Ven. Sariputta asked Ven. Anuruddha as in what extent a yogi could be called a trainee (sekha) (someone realized anyone of the lower stages before the arahantship).

Ven. Anuruddha said that someone had developed some parts of satipatthāna was called a trainee (still in training). And after fully developed, it called one beyond training (asekha – an arahant).

In the Sala Sutta (from Satipatthāna-saṁyutta), the Buddha asked the novices & young monks to practice satipatthāna. What was the reason? For understanding the nature of the body, the feelings, the mind & the dhammas. It was practicing to know about them as it was (yathābhūtam). For becoming someone beyond training (asekha) had to practise to the point of full understanding.

After becoming an arahant also had to practise satipatthāna. For what reason? For peaceful abiding in fruition state (phala samāpatti)

In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, there is a section called Satipatthāna Vagga. It has ten suttas. There the Buddha mentioned the reasons for practicing satipatthāna.

[1] For not breaking the five precepts (pañcasīla).

[2] To abandon the five hindrances (pañca-nīvarana). Therefore to remove all unwholesome dhammas is satipatthāna practice.

[3] Sensual objects are binding the mind. To remove them or stay away from them, has to practice satipatthāna.

[4] To cut off the lower five fetters (samyojanas); i.e., identity view, doubt, clinging to particular rules & observances, sensual desire & aversion. This refers to become an anāgāmi (non-returner). These three lower fetters send beings to take rebirth in sensual realms.

[5] To be free from the five destinations (gati); i.e., hells, animals, hungry ghosts (peta), humans & deities. Also called the 31 realms of existence. This refers to become an arahant.

[6] For abandoning of the five kinds of selfishness (macchariya) or avarice (These are: with dwelling place, connections with relatives & supporters, on fortune & wealth, on beauty & fame & with Dhamma).

[7] To cut off the five higher fetters (i.e., the desire for becoming material jhānic gods, & immaterial jhānic gods, conceit, restlessness & ignorance). This refers to become an arahant.

[8] To move away from the barriers of the mind (cetokhila); such as doubts in the Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha& the practice, hate & aversion to one’s companions in practice, etc. With all these barriers in mind & the practice not going smoothly.

[9] There are shackles of the mind (cettovinibandha); such as sensual objects, one’s body, physical forms, material jhānic existences, etc. People have sīla or practicing sīla for the desiring of them. So, it needs to be freed from it. For removing them have to practise satipatthāna.

[10] For extinguishing of bodily dukkha, mental dukkha, sorrow & lamentation.

Practicing satipatthāna for these 10 points are connecting with the seven results mentioned in the introductions & the end of the satipatthāna sutta; i.e., for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of dukkha & discontent, for acquiring the true method & for the realization of Nibbāna.

cited from (posted on 2019-11-22)

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