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In one Sutta the Buddha said that one should constantly be mindful of the fact of anicca. In the Satipatthana Sutta he said that when one is dressing, eating, speaking etc. one should be aware that he is doing exactly that.

Now my two questions (and yes I know that Sati is more than just present moment awareness in that it can also mean remembering something or calling somethibg helpful to mind)

  1. The aspect of knowing what one is doing is connected with mental noting, right? Because the Buddha never (correct me if Im wrong) mentioned to note something as seeing, seeing, touching, touching.. etc.

  2. If I am not mistaken the Buddha said one should constantly dwell/remind oneself of the fact of anicca but at the same time one should know what one is doing. This is confusing. When does one know when to use "what one is doing-mindfulness" and when to dwell on "impermanence-mindfulness"?

  3. Is continous present moment awareness actually endorsed by the Buddha? Kind of confusing because first of one cannot be mindful all the time and secondly, how is one able to be present aware if one uses sati in the "remembering" sense when for example a hindrance is present?

I think that the word "constant" or "continous" is just a word that puts strong emphasize on a specific activity, but I might be wrong.

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In one Sutta the Buddha said that one should constantly be mindful of the fact of anicca.

Sure. But you need to understand what the terms really mean.

Mindfulness (sati) means to remember.

Anicca is a wisdom (panna).

Sampajanna means 'situational wisdom', which is applying wisdom to a situation.

Mindfulness must remember to apply wisdom.

Therefore, mindfulness & wisdom always operate together.

There cannot be mindfulness without wisdom.

This is why the term 'sati-sampajanna' is often used, as a compound.

This video might help: Buddhist Meditation (4) Sati Sampajanna

This book might help: The Natural Cure for Spiritual Disease by Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

In the Satipatthana Sutta he said that when one is dressing, eating, speaking etc. one should be aware that he is doing exactly that.

Not really.

In the 1st part, about "I am walking, "I am standing", etc, the word is "pajānāti", which means to know. Here, knowing with wisdom is not emphasised. This is more about knowing with concentration.

In the 2nd part, about "going forward, looking ahead", etc, the word is "sampajānakārī". This not only means awareness but having wisdom with awareness.

As the video states, 'sampajanna' is of the wisdom faculty & not of the concentration faculty. Awareness without ready wisdom is not sampajanna.

Now my two questions (and yes I know that Sati is more than just present moment awareness in that it can also mean remembering something or calling somethibg helpful to mind)

Sati is never present moment awareness. Sati is only remembering or calling something to mind. Present moment awareness may be a result or outcome of using mindfulness but mindfulness itself is not present moment awareness -- see this answer for a more detailed explanation.

Present moment awareness is simply a clear consciousness (vinnana), called 'anupassi' ('seeing') in the Satipatthana Sutta.

The aspect of knowing what one is doing is connected with mental noting, right?

Not really but sort of. Noting is a very subtle thing. Noting does not have to be strong thinking, as the Burmese Mahasi teach. The mind can note very silently, such as knowing it is typing on this website.

Because the Buddha never (correct me if Im wrong) mentioned to note something as seeing, seeing, touching, touching.. etc.

Of course he did, in the Satipatthana Sutta, that you mentioned, where it states: "I am walking", etc. However, this is only beginner's practise.

If I am not mistaken the Buddha said one should constantly dwell/remind oneself of the fact of anicca but at the same time one should know what one is doing.

There are many wisdoms apart from anicca. All sati-sampajanna includes some type of wisdom.

The Buddha did not actually teach to constantly remind oneself of anicca because this would mean the mind is always thinking. Instead, one only reminds oneself of anicca when necessary.

To goal of meditation is to stop thinking so the mind has concentration so it can develop calm and then see anicca directly (rather than reminding oneself about anicca).

This is confusing.

What is confusing is your views about it. Yes, you are making it confusing for yourself.

When does one know when to use "what one is doing-mindfulness" and when to dwell on "impermanence-mindfulness"?

When required.

Is continous present moment awareness actually endorsed by the Buddha? Kind of confusing because first of one cannot be mindful all the time and secondly, how is one able to be present aware if one uses sati in the "remembering" sense when for example a hindrance is present?

Your questions are like: "How & when & why do I do this turn when surfing and surf inside the wave when surfing?" before you have even learned to paddle a surfboard & catch a wave.

I think that the word "constant" or "continous" is just a word that puts strong emphasize on a specific activity, but I might be wrong.

I think you are thinking too much. When the mind has developed some calmness, it will begin to understand the teachings and what to do. Developing some calmness does not require too many questions & answers.

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    About this unusual understanding of sati ("Sati is never present moment awareness") I hope the reader of this answer put some time reading the suttas to come to his/her own conclusion about what sati can refer to. – Thiago Aug 9 '17 at 1:04
  • So the answer of Dhammadhatu is wrong concering Sati? – Val Aug 9 '17 at 5:02
  • My answer is not wrong. – Dhammadhatu Aug 9 '17 at 6:05
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The question you are asking is well explained in: The Four Sampajanna, VRI

Maintaining the continuity of the thorough understanding of impermanence based on vedana (sensation)1 is called sampajanna. The Atthakathakara (the commentators) have further explained this term in various ways to clarify its meaning.

A few of these explanations follow-

Samma pakarehi aniccadini janati ti sampajannam.

One who knows in a right way impermanence as well as suffering and egolessness has wisdom, has sampajanna.

Samantato pakarehi pakattham va savisesam janati ti sampajano.

One who understands the totality clearly with wisdom from all angles (of whatever is manifesting) or who knows distinctly has sampajanna.

Samma samantato samanca pajananto sampajano.

One who knows in a right way, in totality through one's own wisdom is sampajana. These definitions convey the same sense as found in the canonical texts of anicca (impermanence), and its continuity. In the commentaries and the subcommentaries, sampajanna is also elaborated in a fourfold way-

  1. satthaka-sampajanna (purposeful sampajanna),

  2. sappaya- sampajanna (beneficial sampajanna),

  3. gocara-sampajanna (domain sampajanna),

  4. asammoha-sampajanna (non-delusion sampajanna).

(1) Satthaka-sampajanna (purposeful sampajanna)

The Pali term satthaka (sa + attha = with meaning) means useful or purposeful. The sense here is in distinguishing between what is useful and what is not. For a meditator who is treading on the path of Dhamma (satthaka), the most useful, purposeful thing is something that can help in the realisation of paramattha sacca (ultimate truth), the cessation of suffering. To attain it, one has to totally eradicate the sankhara, which are the source of all suffering. For this, one has to realize anicca (impermanence), the arising and passing away at the level of sensations. Thus, the usefulness and purposefulness of sampajanna lies only in leading meditators to realize impermanence, which alone is beneficial in the attainment of their life's mission, nibbana. This is the true sense of satthaka sampajanna. The continuity of practice should be maintained in all activities, such as moving forward or backward, going for begging alms, or going to visit a cetiya (shrine) etc.

(2) Sappaya-sampajannam (beneficial sampajanna)

The term sappaya means beneficial. Knowing in totality for one's own benefit with wisdom is sappaya sampajannam.5 The most beneficial thing for a meditator is to move on the path which leads to the attainment of nibbana. The experience of anicca based on body sensation is the most beneficial tool, since by mere observation of its arising and passing away, with objectivity and continuity, one goes beyond the sphere of sensations to a state beyond mind and matter.

(3) Gocara-sampajannam (domain sampajanna)

The literal term gocara (go + cara) means the field where the cow moves, but here the term refers to domain. Technically, when the term is used in meditation, it has two meanings- (i) while a meditator dwells internally, it means the body is the domain of his meditation; (ii) it also means the external movements of the meditator, eg., going for begging alms etc., (gocara).6 Thus the significance of gocara sampajanna lies in maintaining constant thorough understanding of impermanence, both while meditating and while performing worldly activities.7

(4) Asammoha-sampajanna (non-delusion sampajanna)

The term asammoha means non-delusion or without ignorance. It refers to the non-ignorance of having thorough understanding of what is happening both inside and outside the body. The realisation of impermanence is asammoha (non-delusion). Therefore with the experience of anicca, a meditator will be able to understand through direct experience, three of the four paramattha dhamma-citta (consciousness), cetasika (psychic factors), and rupa (material qualities). All these are samkhata dhamma (conditioned). By observing these dhamma objectively as anicca, one reaches the state where there is no arising and passing away, which is the fourth paramattha dhamma-nibbana.

Although the Buddha did not mention these four sampajanna in the Canon they are found in the Atthakatha. If we analyse each of them, we find that they are not separate from one another but have the same goal, the realisation of anicca (anicca-bodha). Anicca-bodha is our real purpose (satthaka). It is beneficial (sappaya) for us and is the domain (gocara) of our meditation, leading to right understanding (asammoha), that ultimately results in the final emancipation- nibbana.

Source: The Four Sampajanna, VRI

  • So dharma teacher Joseph Goldstein is wrong then, that Sati means present moment awareness without defilements? – Val Aug 9 '17 at 4:59
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There are 2 important type of experts: consciousness expert (addhayasaya) and wisdom expert (sampajañña).

When you thinking about your mother, you have not to know the story about her that "she is my father's wife. She is my mother. Her name is Sissy." because you already being an expert in her detail. But you realize that all story automatically while you thinking about your mother. That is called "consciousness expert (addhayasaya)".

Wisdom expert (sampajañña) has the same characterize of consciousness expert, but sampajañña auto clearly comprehends in clauses (pros&cons) and effects (6 benefits & 6 detriment; ānisaṅsa & ādīnava for [1] this life, [2] next lift payojana, [3] nibbāna, [4] self, [5] the others, [6] social).

So you can see many clauses and effects such as paṭiccasamuppāda, kammassakatā, etc. in almost all of tipitaka, commentary, and sub-commentary. Because every things, include supernatural, is clauses and effects. And every effects must will be vanish when their clauses vanish, too (aincca, dukkha, anattā).

Furthermore, sampajañña must arise same time with consciousness, but consciousness can arises without sampajañña. So there are some geniuses, who have autometic unwholesome consciousness to do new bad kamma (cons) to take old good kamma's benefits, these some geniuses have not sampajañña.

For reference:

ñātaṭṭhena ñāṇaṃ (paṭisambhidāmagga, the end of every niddesa, by sāriputta).

ye ye dhammā abhiññātā honti, te te dhammā ñātā honti (paṭisambhidāmagga, abhiññāta niddesa, by sāriputta).

ye ye dhammā abhiññātā honti, te te dhammā ñātā hontiฯsā hi sobhanaṭṭhena abhisaddena ‘‘tesaṃ tesaṃ dhammānaṃ sabhāvajānanavasena sobhanaṃ jānana’’nti katvā abhiññāti vuccatiฯ (paṭisambhidāmagga commentary).

describtion of suttamayapaññā, cintāmayapaññā, bhāvanāmayapaññā (abhidhammapitaka vibhaṅga, taught by buddha to sāriputta, and re-taught in sāriputta's literal by sāriputta).

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  1. The aspect of knowing what one is doing is connected with mental noting, right? Because the Buddha never (correct me if Im wrong) mentioned to note something as seeing, seeing, touching, touching.. etc.

My person likes to correct. It actually needed for every deed (by mind, speech an body) to "know" what's up, to speak in common words. Such can be done by everyone, everywhere and will possible lead to insight.

In regard of this and the question on "keeping on thinking: anicca" it's possible not only for insight, this world and the next of benefit to apply anicca. Especially if just an idea, defilements will use it when things actually matter (in thimes of dislike) and forget it in times when actually of use (when greed arises).

So if not leading a complete contemplative live, especially then, it (the constant repeating of anicca) will propably lead to dangerous householder-equanimity.

To provide here some words of people who practiced:

The Broken Glass

You may say, "Don't break my glass!" But you can't prevent something breakable from breaking. If it doesn't break now, it'll break later on. If you don't break it, someone else will. If someone else doesn't break it, one of the chickens will! The Buddha says to accept this. He penetrated all the way to seeing that this glass is already broken. This glass that isn't broken, he has us know as already broken. Whenever you pick up the glass, put water in it, drink from it, and put it down, he tells you to see that it's already broken. Understand? The Buddha's understanding was like this. He saw the broken glass in the unbroken one. Whenever its conditions run out, it'll break. Develop this attitude. Use the glass; look after it. Then one day it slips out of your hand: "Smash!" No problem. Why no problem? Because you saw it as broken before it broke. See?

But usually people say, "I've taken such good care of this glass. Don't ever let it break." Later on the dog breaks it, and you hate the dog. If your child breaks it, you hate him, too. You hate whoever breaks it — because you've dammed yourself up so that the water can't flow. You've made a dam without a spillway. The only thing the dam can do is burst, right? When you make a dam, you have to make a spillway, too. When the water rises up to a certain level, it can flow off safely to the side. When it's full to the brim, it can flow out the spillway. You need to have a spillway like this. Seeing inconstancy is the Buddha's spillway. When you see things this way, you can be at peace. That's the practice of the Dhamma.

The same is within the practice itself. If we have a wrong understanding of anicca, it's actally aversion and we might cut us of to walk further on the path.

Let my person note in general: Better to try to gain skills next holding all other things would be to sacrify times to just serve and spend time next and near a contemplative. It's not easy to get it right in a "fast-food-way".

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gain by means of trade and exchange]

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