Anapanasati Sutta (Nanamoli and Brooks)

Anapanasati Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 118), Mindfulness of the Breathing, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhus Nanamoli and revision by Jeffrey Brooks

Introduction to Mindfulness

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara’s mother, together with many well-known elder disciples — with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder aspirants were teaching and instructing. Some elder monks were teaching and instructing ten monks, some were teaching and instructing twenty monks, some were teaching and instructing thirty monks, some were teaching and instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught and instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion — the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the Pavarana ceremony — the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, one addressed them:

“Monks, I am content with this practice. I am content at heart with this practice. So arouse even more intense persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. I will remain right here at Savatthi [for another month] through the ‘White water-lily’ month, the fourth month of the rains.”

The aspirants in the countryside heard, “The Blessed One, they say, will remain right there at Savatthi through the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains.” So they left for Savatthi to see the Blessed One.

Then the elder monks taught and instructed even more intensely. Some elder monks were teaching and instructing ten monks, some were teaching and instructing twenty monks, some were teaching and instructing thirty monks, some were teaching and instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught and instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion — the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains — the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, He addressed them:

Silent Practice:

“Monks, this assembly is free from idle chatter, devoid of idle chatter, and is established on pure heartwood: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly to which a small gift, when given, becomes great, and a great gift greater: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that it is rare to see in the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly — the sort of assembly that it would be worth traveling for leagues, taking along provisions, in order to see.

(Levels of Attainment)

(Arahant)

“In this community of monks there are monks who are Arahants, whose mental agitation has ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who are released through right gnosis (samma-samadhi: such are the aspirants in this community of monks.

(Anagami)

“In this community of monks there are aspirants who, with the total ending of the first five fetters, are due to be reborn [in the Pure
Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world: such are the aspirants in this community of monks.

(Sakadagami)

“In this community of monks there are aspirants who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, and delusion, are once-returners (sakadagami), who — on returning only one more time to this world — will make an ending to stress: such are the aspirants in this community of monks.

(Sotapanna)

“In this community of monks there are aspirants who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, are stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening: such are the aspirants in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are aspirants who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference… the four right exertions… the four bases of power… the five faculties… the five strengths… the seven factors for Awakening… the noble eightfold path: such are the aspirants in this community of monks.

the Four Brahma Viharas (divine abodes)

“In this community of monks there are aspirants who remain devoted to the development of Loving Kindness (metta)… Compassion (Karuna)…Sympathetic Joy (Mudita)…Equanimity (Upekkha)…[the
perception of the] foulness [of the body]… the perception of inconstancy: such are the aspirants in this community of monks.

Awareness of the Breathing

“In this community of monks there are aspirants who remain devoted to awareness of in-and-out breathing.

“Awareness of in-and-out breathing, when developed and pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Awareness of in-and-out breathing, when developed and pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed and pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed and pursued, bring clear knowing and release to their culmination.

“Now how is awareness of in-and-out breathing developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?

“There is the case where an aspirant, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding one’s legs crosswise, holding one’s body erect, and setting awareness to the fore. Always mindful, one breathes in; mindful one breathes out.

“[1] Breathing in long, one discerns that one is breathing in long; or breathing out long, one discerns that one is breathing out long.

[2] Or breathing in short, one discerns that one is breathing in short; or breathing out short, one discerns that one is breathing out short.

[3] One trains oneself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body.

[4] One trains oneself to breathe in calming bodily agitation (the breath), and to breathe out calming bodily agitation.

“[5] One trains oneself to breathe in sensitive to bliss (piiti), and to breathe out sensitive to ecstasy.

[6] One trains oneself to breathe in sensitive to joy (sukha), and to breathe out sensitive to joy.

[7] One trains oneself to breathe in sensitive to mental agitation (feeling and perception), and to breathe out sensitive to mental agitation.

[8] One trains oneself to breathe in calming mental agitation, and to breathe out calming mental agitation.

“[9] One trains oneself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind.

[10] One trains oneself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind.

[11] One trains oneself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind.

[12] One trains oneself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind.

“[13] One trains oneself to breathe in (mindful of) inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy.

[14] One trains oneself to breathe in mindful of dispassion [literally, fading], and to breathe out mindful of dispassion.

[15] One trains oneself to breathe in mindful of cessation, and to breathe out focusing on cessation (emptiness).

[16] One trains oneself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment.

The Four Frames of Reference

“[1] Now, on whatever occasion an aspirant breathing in long discerns that one is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that one is breathing out long; or breathing in short, discerns that one is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that one is breathing out short; trains oneself to breathe in… and… out sensitive to the entire body; trains oneself to breathe in… and… out calming bodily agitation : On that occasion the aspirant remains focused upon the physical body — ardent, alert, and mindful — subduing greed and anxiety with reference to the world. I tell you, aspirants, that this — the in-and-out breath

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