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The Satipaṭṭhānasutta

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This book is a new contribution on the subject of mindfulness, having at its core the classic Buddhist meditation text the Satipaṭṭhānasutta (“Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness”) in the original Pāli, translated here into English alongside the comments and explanations of the text by Pemasiri Thera, a contemporary meditation master and scholar from the Theravāda tradition in Sri Lanka. Pemasiri Thera has richly commented on the ancient text, drawing on the larger Tipiṭaka and its commentaries, and provided helpful elucidations of the key concepts from the sutta (awareness, mindfulness, contemplation, etc.) as well as offered new and alternative interpretations and concrete experiential examples from meditation practice. Tamara Ditrich compiled, edited, and translated the Satipaṭṭhānasutta with Pemasiri Thera’s commentary into English and in turn she also contributed her own comments in extensive notes, linking the Thera’s commentary to the Theravāda Buddhist sources and highlighting those aspects that enrich or throw new light on the standard approaches.

The book presents a comprehensive guide for understanding mindfulness by situating it within the larger Theravāda doctrinal framework in a way accessible to contemporary readers. The book will appeal to general and scholarly readers interested in any aspects of the theory and practice of mindfulness, Buddhist teachings or Pāli studies.

Published: Aug 30, 2024

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Tamara Ditrich
Chapter 1
Introducing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (cattāro satipaṭṭhānā) Tamara Ditrich
Chapter 2
Contemplation of the Body (kāyānupassanā) Tamara Ditrich
Chapter 3
Contemplation of Feelings (vedanānupassanā) Tamara Ditrich
Chapter 4
Contemplation of the Mind (cittānupassanā) Tamara Ditrich
Chapter 5
Contemplation of Phenomena (dhammānupassanā) Tamara Ditrich
Chapter 6
Conclusion Tamara Ditrich


The book is an impressive one, it not only contains extensive new material on a vital area of Buddhist meditation practice and theory but manages to link together contemporary commentary with traditional analysis and scholarship. This combination achieves a delicate but unusual balance between respecting the authenticity of the tradition, but nevertheless adding sympathetic analyses, commentary, insights and above all, practical comments.
Detailed explanations from an authentic non-Western source have been ‘curated’ by being translated extremely carefully and then annotated to make the content useful for both academic and non-academic purposes. Without the footnotes and amplifications the work would be only a traditional presentation, however, by adding the technical terms and checking rather widely with traditional commentary and explicatory material there is a solid grounding for the comments and insights presented in the text. This opens intriguing and novel avenues of inquiry while at the same time offering multiple new insights into previous work.
This is a significant new addition to publications in this area where new publications are frequently but re-hashings of earlier contributions. In contrast, this cumulation of comments and added material presents areas for fruitful (re-)examination and exploration, and does so in a way that is accessible to the two major but disparate groups interested in this traditional material: (1) academics and serious students approaching the original classical text (and commentaries) and (2) the much larger international group of users of meditation-related materials from the Buddhist traditions.
This is a wonderful resource and a potential text-book and reference work for students in this area.

Dr. Royce Wiles, Research Associate, New Zealand South Asia Centre, University of Canterbury