Buddhism Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta
Bhikkhu Anālayo
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 September 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 March 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0217


The Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta, found as the tenth discourse in the Majjhima-nikāya of the Theravāda Pāli canon, is a central resource for instructions on the practice of mindfulness, on which see the separate Oxford Bibliographies article Sutta (Pāli/Theravada Canon). A closely similar discourse under the title Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna-sutta occurs as the twenty-second discourse in the Dīgha-nikāya of the Pāli canon, differing from the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta in providing a more extensive coverage of the last of the meditative contemplations listed in both discourses, concerned with the four noble truths. The Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta has two parallels preserved in Chinese translation in discourse collections of other schools, namely, the ninety-eighth discourse in a Madhyama-āgama collection found in the Taishō edition as entry 26, probably based on an Indic original of Sarvāstivāda provenance, and the first discourse in chapter 12 of an Ekottarika-āgama collection found in the Taishō edition as entry 125, whose school affiliation is a matter of continuing discussion among scholars, the most often voiced hypothesis being a Mahāsāṃghika affiliation. The different versions agree in presenting the practice of satipaṭṭhāna as covering four areas of contemplation: body, feeling, mental states, and dharmas. Another and historically later text that takes up only the fourth of these is the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna-sūtra. The Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta has served as the basis for a revival of insight meditation in Buddhist Asia as well as influencing the clinical use of mindfulness in the West.

Translations of Pāli Versions

English translations of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna-sutta and the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta can be found as part of renderings of their respective Pāli discourse collections, in the case of the Dīgha-nikāya in Rhys Davids 1910 and Walshe 1987 and in the case of the Majjhima-nikāya in Horner 1967 and Ñāṇamoli 2005. Another source of information on the practice of mindfulness is the Satipaṭṭhāna-saṃyutta, which has been translated in Bodhi 2000. The exegesis in the Pāli Abhidhamma on the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta has been translated in Thiṭṭila 1969; the Pāli commentary on the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta has been translated into German in Ñāṇaponika 1973 and into English in Soma 1981.

  • Bodhi, trans. “Connected Discourses on the Establishments of Mindfulness.” In The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Saṃyutta Nikāya. Vol. 2. Edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi, 1627–1667. Boston: Wisdom, 2000.

    English translation of the Satipaṭṭhāna-saṃyutta.

  • Horner, I. B., trans. “Discourse on the Applications of Mindfulness (Satipaṭṭhānasutta).” In The Collection of the Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima-Nikāya). Vol. 1. Edited by I. B. Horner, 70–82. London: Pali Text Society, 1967.

    English translation of the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta of the Majjhima-nikāya.

  • Ñāṇamoli, trans. “Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta: The Foundations of Mindfulness.” In The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Vol. 1. Edited by Bhikku Bodhi, 145–155. Boston: Wisdom, 2005.

    English translation of the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta of the Majjhima-nikāya.

  • Ñāṇaponika, trans. Kommentar zur Lehrrede von den Grundlagen der Achtsamkeit (Satipaṭṭhāna), mit Subkommentar in Auswahl. Konstanz, Germany: Christiani, 1973.

    German translation of the commentary on the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta together with excerpts from the sub-commentary. Originally published in 1951.

  • Rhys Davids, T. W., trans. “Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Suttanta: Setting-up of Mindfulness.” In Dialogues of the Buddha. Vol. 2. Translated from the Pāli of the Dīgha Nikāya. Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids, 327–346. London: Oxford University Press, 1910.

    English translation of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna-sutta of the Dīgha-nikāya, preceded by a five-page introduction to the discourse.

  • Soma, trans. The Way of Mindfulness: The Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta Commentary. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1981.

    English translation of the commentary on the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta, together with excerpts from the sub-commentary. Originally published in 1941.

  • Thiṭṭila, P. A., trans. “Analysis of the Foundation of Mindfulness.” In The Book of Analysis (Vibhaṅga): The Second Book of the Abhidhammapiṭaka. Translated from the Pāḷi of the Burmese Chaṭṭasaṅgīti Edition. Edited by P. A. Thiṭṭila, 251–270. London: Pali Text Society, 1969.

    English translation of the exegesis on the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta in the Vibhaṅga, the second book in the Pāli Abhidhamma collection.

  • Walshe, Maurice, trans. “Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness.” In Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha. Edited by M. Walshe, 335–350. London: Wisdom, 1987.

    English translation of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna-sutta of the Dīgha-nikāya.

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