What is the difference between sati (mindfulness) and sampajañña (awareness, clear comprehension)?
Please provide examples.
Buddhism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Sati means to 'remember' (SN 48.10) or 'bring to & keep in mind' (MN 117).
Sampajana is situational wisdom; the right or thorough understanding of or for a situation.
Sampajana is from the words saṃ & pajāna (cp. pajānāti). It appears suttas such as MN 118, AN 3.121 & SN 12.28 indicate mere pajānāti might be a level of knowing or recognition that is not as complete as sampajana.
For example, in MN 118, pajānāti is only used with the most basic practise, namely, knowing long & short breathing. In AN 3.121, pajānāti is used for the recognition of the arising of defilements (which means the mind does not have thorough understanding; if defilements are arising). In SN 12.28, pajānāti of Dependent Origination is called 'one endowed with a trainee’s knowledge’; ‘one who has entered the stream of the teaching’. Thus, mere pajānāti appears different to saṃ + pajāna, namely, "thorough" or "complete" understanding.
While the suttas do not explain much about sampajana, when SN 47.35 briefly defines 'sampajana', it uses the word "vidita" (pp. of vindati), which means "to understand" or "understood", as Bhikkhu Bodhi appeared to properly translate as "understood" (and Sujato & Thanissaro improperly translated as "known").
And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, for a bhikkhu feelings are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. Thoughts are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. Perceptions are understood as they arise, understood as they remain present, understood as they pass away. It is in this way, bhikkhus, that a bhikkhu exercises clear comprehension.
Thus, it appears obvious "sampajjana" means to thoroughly or completely understand something or a situation with right understanding rather than to have mere "bare awareness". "Bare awareness" without understanding (similar to a small child ignorantly looking non-judgmentally at the ocean, not understanding its danger) is not "sampajana".
Because I understand the diversity of faculties as it applies to this person.
Indriyavemattatā hi me, udāyi, imasmiṃ puggale viditā.
However, I have recognized individual differences.
Api ca mayā puggalavemattatā viditā”ti.
MN 66 & SN 12.17 seem to show Bhikkhu Sujato and particularly Bhikkhus Thanissaro (with his "bare awareness") provide inaccurate translations & explanations of SN 47.35.
In summary, sati delivers & maintains sampajjana. They work together.
Sati is often translated as "mindful of." So Ānāpānasati means: "mindfulness of in-and out-breathing" or "conscious of in-and-out breath" However, part of the act of doing this is partially somatic, your body experiencing itself, your emotions, thoughts, etc. experienced as they are in and of themselves. It's not a purely mental exercise. It's not reflecting on or thinking about, or placing in a conceptual context. Sati, in and of itself, can lead to a profound stillness of mind and body. Sampajañña, on the other hand, uses the mental and emotive faculties to deeply investigate, discriminate, comprehend, and reach conclusions. Principally, to deeply understand the impermanence of all things. Combined with sati, one comprehends Sunyata, emptiness, impermanence, non-existence of a permanent self, and that identifying with self or sense of permanence only leads to suffering in this life.
I believe in Pali Canon they are used synonymically.
In my understanding,
Sampajanna simply means: being self-aware, not getting carried away (esp. by emotions), paying attention to what you're doing.
Sati has a similar meaning, except the emphasis is on remembering the instructions, remembering the teaching, remembering your vows, remembering what you promised you will and won't do and why.