If Sampajanna is clear comprehension and Vipassana is clearly seeing how or are they distinguishable?

3 Answers 3


Sampajanna is a prerequisite for right concentration. Vipassana is a result of right concentration.

Mindfulness > sampajanna > concentration > vipassana > liberation > nibbana

Sampajanna is a product of active volition & mindfulness; what is called 'wise or careful attention' (yoni­so­ma­nasikāro); as described in AN 10.61:

Mindfulness and clear comprehension, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for mindfulness and clear comprehension? It should be said: careful attention (yoni­so­ma­nasikāro). AN 10.61

Vipassana is the automatic seeing of ultimate truth that occurs when the mind is clear & concentrated, as described in AN 11.2.

For a person whose mind is concentrated, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I know & see things as they actually are.' It is in the nature of things that a person whose mind is concentrated knows & sees things as they actually are. AN 11.2

Sampajanna (applied wisdom) is the preliminary wisdom that mindfulness (remembering; recollection) brings to mind to establish meditation. Again, to quote AN 10.61:

The four establishments of mindfulness, too, I say, have a nutriment; they are not without nutriment. And what is the nutriment for the four establishments of mindfulness? It should be said: ... mindfulness and clear comprehension. AN 10.61

For example, when meditation is established, sampajanna applies the types of wisdoms listed below, when required:

  1. observing breathing brings peace therefore it is beneficial to observe the breathing

  2. craving & attachment cause suffering & disturbances therefore I should meditate without craving & attachment

  3. this hindrance harms myself & harms another therefore it should be abandoned

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa has explained 'sampajanna' & 'vipassana' below:

sampajanna, wisdom-in-action, ready comprehension, clear comprehension: the specific application of panna as required in a given situation.

vipassana, insight: literally, "clear seeing," to see clearly, distinctly, directly into the true nature of things, into aniccam-dukkham-anatta. Vipassana is popularly used for mental development practiced for the sake of true insight. In such cases, the physical posture, theory, and method of such practices must not be confused with true realization of impermanence, unsatisfactori­ness, and not-self. Vipassana cannot be taught.


Sampajanna is wisdom as it meets up with and immediately confronts a problem, as it deals with and wipes out that problem -- this is wisdom-in-action. It is only that wisdom specifically related and applied to a particular situation or event. The word "wisdom" (paññä) encompasses many meanings and understandings, we can't even begin to estimate its content. However, the word "sampajanna" is far more limited in its meaning. It is exactly that wisdom directly needed for the problem that confronts us. Active wisdom isn't general, it is a matter of particulars.

We can compare wisdom (paññä) with the medicine chest in our house. In it we store a wide variety of drugs, pills, capsules, ointments, powders, and syrups for possible use. When we're actually sick, we must choose from among the many the one drug which will be effective in treating our ailment. We can't take them all; we take just what is needed to cure our illness here and now. The same is true for wisdom. Understand that there's an incredible amount of what we call paññä, but that we only apply a little bit at a time. We apply just that portion which can take care of the immediate situation. Know how to use the Dhamma, the paññä, which is exactly relevant to our situation and problem. The Dhamma or wisdom which controls that situation and problem is what we call "sampajanna."

The Scientific Cure of Spiritual Disease


In sampajaññaṃ 4 --asammohasampajañña is vipassana.

sampajaññaṃ 4 = clear comprehension; clarity of consciousness; awareness

  1. sātthakasampajaññaṃ - clear comprehension of purpose.
  2. sappāyasampajaññaṃ - clear comprehension of suitability.
  3. gocarasampajaññaṃ - clear comprehension of the domain in physical and mind.
  4. asammohasampajañña - clear comprehension of non-delusion, or of reality.

see: http://84000.org/tipitaka/dic/d_item.php?i=189

  • asammohasampajañña is not vipassana. asammohasampajañña is viewing the mind during meditation and knowing clearly the mind is not meditating with self-view & other delusions. kind regards Jul 7, 2017 at 21:31
  • @Dhammadhatu Vipassanā in bhaṅgañaṇa-uddesa (k.n.paṭisam.) refer to balava-vipassanā. So the lower ñāṇa also vipassanā, too. Because dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇa, in paṭisambhidāmagga, contemplate about paṭiccasamuppāda, too.
    – Bonn
    Jul 8, 2017 at 14:50
  • Sampajañña, in the third of 4 samādhibhāvanā in saṅgītisutta also is taught "See vatthu of vedanā to make it apparent for sampajañña". This method also is appear in visuddhimagga diṭṭhivisuddhiniddesa (method to do when the nāma are not appear to ñāṇa). See the sutta context and it's commentary for more detail.
    – Bonn
    Jul 9, 2017 at 1:16

In short Sati with Sampajanna is Samma Sati which is Vipassana.

From this it becomes evident that according to the Buddha, whenever there is sammasati or satipatthana, it is always with sampajanna. That means it is with panna (wisdom). Otherwise it is mere sati, which is mere remembrance or awareness.

Source: Sampajanna-the Constant Thorough Understanding of Impermanence by VRI

  • Sati is not vipassana, seriously. sammasati, in maggasacca, is adhicittasikkha, in tisikkha.
    – Bonn
    Jul 7, 2017 at 15:15
  • Sati + Sampajanna = Vipassana Jul 8, 2017 at 4:31
  • So, sati+sampajanna are sila and samadhi, too.
    – Bonn
    Jul 8, 2017 at 6:27
  • This is Right Mindfulness which comes under Samadhi Jul 8, 2017 at 6:31
  • Seriously. Sati and sampajañña always appear in the third jhāna context, too. Sati-Sampajañña of Right Mindfulness in 3th jhāna is samatha. It is not just vipassanā. Sati-Sampajañña is sīla and samatha, too. The example "pītiyā ca virāgā upekkhako ca vihāsiṃ sato ca sampajāno, sukhañca kāyena paṭisaṃvedesiṃ". You must memorize tipitaka, to learn it. You can not just read it to understand tipitaka.
    – Bonn
    Jul 8, 2017 at 21:17

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