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The Buddha's Mindfulness Practice
Ven. Nyanatiloka (Buddhist Dictionary) edited by Wisdom Quarterly
The Four "Foundations of Mindfulness," literally "awareness of mindfulness" (sati-upatthāna), are the systematic contemplation of:
"The only [or the direct] way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering of the right path, and to the realization of nirvana is the Four Foundations of Mindfulness."
After these introductory words and upon the question which these four are, it is said that the meditator dwells in contemplation of the body (the four elements), the feelings (sensations), the mind (four of the five khandhas), and the mind-objects "ardent, clearly conscious and mindful, after putting away greed and grief with regard to the world."
These four contemplations are in reality not separate exercises but, on the contrary, at least in many cases, especially in the meditative absorptions (jhanas), as things inseparably associated with each other.
Thereby the Satipathāna Sutra forms an illustration of the way in which these four contemplations relating to the Five Aggregates (khandha) simultaneously come to be realized, and finally lead to insight into the impersonality (not-self nature) of all existence.
(1) The contemplation of the body (kāyanupassanā) consists of the following exercises: More