What is the meaning of "in and of itself" in the Maha-satipatthana Sutta DN 22?

  • There is a little one paragraph explanation of that, in the "Translator's Introduction" of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation (which you linked to originally)?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 19:22
  • 1
    The first interpretation focuses on the objects of the meditation practice, the focal points that provide mindfulness with a foundation — or, to use the more idiomatic English phrase adopted here, a frame of reference. Altogether there are four: the body in and of itself; feelings in and of themselves; mind in and of itself; and mental qualities in and of themselves. The "in and of itself" here is crucial. In the case of the body, for instance, it means viewing the body on its own terms rather than in terms of its function in the context of the world 🔽
    – Routcheau
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 20:16
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    🔺(for in that case the world would be the frame of reference). Dropping any concern for how the body's beauty, agility, or strength fits into the world, the meditator simply stays with the direct experience of its breathing, its movements, its postures, its elementary properties, and its inevitable decay. A similar principle applies to the other frames of reference.
    – Routcheau
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 20:16
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    Yes that's the quote -- you've seen that explanation.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 21:19

3 Answers 3


You needs to understand below before reading the main answer at the bottom.

Samatha is understanding of easy escape, using illusion to avoid 5 string. This is in KāyagatāsatiSutta.

Vipassana is understanding of hardest full escape, using reality to perfect finish 5 clinging-aggregates. This is in DN 22 MahāsatipaṭṭhānaSutta.

Why Vipassana is harder than Samatha?

Samatha has higher deep analysis than normal secular, but lower than Vipassana.

You can just clinging on breathe feeling to be happy, but you need to analysis mind's quality and develop it to get the breathe illusion (Paṭibhāga-nimitta) and attain the first Jhāna's happiness.

But it is not enough to attain powerful state of Vipassanā and get Nibbāna. Vipassanā is going meditate after the practitioner's mind is at high quality, CittaVisuddhi. At this state, the practitioner can analysis everything from the lower hell to the top heaven into tiniest elements.

What is the tiniest element?

Every clinging-aggregate has tiniest moment which arise and vanish immediately more than a trillion time in a second. Each moment has many elements which originating it.

The practitioner must analysis everything as uncountable tiniest origins and effects like that every life's moment and analysis all relations of them as they really are when arising. This is called PaṭiccaSamuppāda. The practitioner is thinking like a genius psychologist, chemist, biologist, physicist, thinking together in the same head.

This deepest analysis turn the practitioner's objects into 3 characteristic illusions. 3 characteristics are illustrated from the complex knowledge of the real relationship of every tiniest moment of life.

Why the tiniest arisable moments are so important?

The reality must be possible to arise and must have their real origins more than one, except Nibbāna which is the opposite reality of aggregates.

If the scientist put a little wrong chemistry in a test tube, the experiment must be fail at the end. If the practitioner analysis wrong elements' relations, 3 characteristic illusions are going to disappear in some hidden aggregates, then these some are permanent, pleasure, and controlable.

So, if the practitioner doesn't analysis, these still going on:

  1. Left clinging in the sign or the details which are hidden by the complicated illusions of uncountable realities' relations. Even the 8th Jhana master can't see this clinging.
  2. Blur 3 characteristic illusions.
  3. Releasing some hated aggregates and hold hidden beloved aggregates.
  4. Hidden clinging development. You can see some practitioner become a crazy guy when the time gone by even he work hard on study and practice trough many years because he in blinding on some hidden clinging, then the meditation turn it to a powerful evil after years.
  5. Etc.

What is the meaning of “in and of itself” in DN 22?

One meaning of "in" word in Pali is "each (Ekavacana-Niddhāraṇa)".

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on each body's elements in entire body — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on each feeling's elements in entire feelings... each mind's elements in entire mind... each element's elements in entire elements — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

The "element" in this context means various term. All of term refer to "The dissection of the compact/illusion".

Then you should consider 21 pabba of DN22 like this, you will understand it easily.

This is incomplete. It's too late for this night. I will add more explaination soon.


Theravadin Abhidhamma;

And how does a monk dwell contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself?

Here a monk in regard to himself—from the sole of the feet upwards, from the hair of the head down, bounded by the skin, and filled with manifold impurities—reflects (thus):

There are in this body:

hairs of the head, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, undigested food, excrement, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, spit, mucus, synovial fluid, urine. https://suttacentral.net/vb7/en/anandajoti

  • Almost done. You need to combine DN22, Abhi. Vibhaṅga SatipaṭṭhānaVibhaṅga, KN Paṭisambhidhāmagga Satipaṭṭhānakatha, Their commentaries, and Visuddhimagga together.
    – Bonn
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 3:10
  • Looking forward to your analysis
    – user8527
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 10:46

Thank you very much 🙏🏼

खणः khanas are as illogical as स्वभाव svabhāva can be.

Abhiddhamma is not a metaphysical approach,

not everywhere, not in all Buddhist schools, not in each and every ancient वाद vāda :

The Middle Path is not anti-metaphysical yet.

Because Vipassana is a Practice that precedes any theories.

Thanks again 🙏🏼

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