AN 4.41, per subjective Sujato translation [with DD in brackets], says:

“Mendicants, there are these four ways of developing immersion further. What four?

  1. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to blissful meditation in the present life [in the here & now]. Atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārāya saṁvattati; It’s when a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption … second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption.

  2. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to gaining knowledge [knowing] and vision [seeing]. atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā ñāṇadassanappaṭilābhāya saṁvattati; And so, with an open and unenveloped heart, they develop a mind that’s full of radiance.

  3. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to mindfulness and [situational] awareness. atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā satisampajaññāya saṁvattati; It’s when a mendicant knows [understands; viditā] feelings... perceptions... thoughts... as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno viditā vedanā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṁ gacchanti;

  4. There is a way of developing immersion further that leads to the ending of defilements. atthi, bhikkhave, samādhibhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā āsavānaṁ khayāya saṁvattati. It’s when a mendicant meditates observing [ānupassī] rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates. Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu udayabbayānupassī viharati: ‘Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling, such is the origin of feeling, such is the ending of feeling. Such is perception, such is the origin of perception, such is the ending of perception. Such are choices, such is the origin of choices, such is the ending of choices. Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’

Note: the word "viditā" found in AN 4.41 is also found in MN 111 and in the stock definition of sampajanna in SN 47.35. MN 111 says:

Here, monks, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unwholesome phenomena, Sāriputta attains and remains in the first jhāna, which has thought and consideration, and has rapture and pleasure produced by seclusion. The phenomena which are present in the first jhāna – thought [apprehension], consideration [pondering], rapture, pleasure, mental one-pointedness, sense-contact, feeling, recognition, volition, mentality, interest, resolve, energy, mindfulness, equanimity, and attention – are progressively identified [vavatthita] by him. These phenomena are known [viditā; understood] by him as they arise, as they persist, and as they disappear. He understands in this way: ‘It seems that these phenomena were not present, then they manifested; then after being present, they vanished again.’ In regard to those phenomena, he remains unattracted, unrepelled, independent, unattached, released, unbound, with an unrestricted mind. He understands [pajānāti], ‘There is an escape beyond this.’ Practicing that frequently, he knows [pajānāti] that there is a further escape

Which of the four developments in AN 4.41 above equate/s with vipassana? Why?


1 Answer 1


The Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118) refers to contemplating/observing impermanence that results in dispassion, cessation & relinquishment. The word used in MN 118 for contemplating/observing is "ānupassī"; the same as used in the 4th samadhi development in AN 4.41. This sounds like vipassana. The words "ānupassī" & "vipassana" both include the meaning "to see/seeing" (passa; passati).

Similarly, in the 2nd sermon (SN 22.59), the Buddha explained for the first time how seeing (passaṁ) truly with right wisdom (yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ) impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & not-self results in disenchantment, dispassion & liberation. Again, this sounds like vipassana. Again, it refers to "seeing" (passaṁ).

About vipassana, MN 149 says when the Noble Eightfold Path is developed, two results occurs in tandem, namely, samatha & vipassana. MN 149, further says, about vipassana, samatho ca vipassanā are the things that should be developed by direct knowledge (abhiññā). Vipassana & abhiññā here sound the same as the 'right knowledge' ('samma-nana') refer to in MN 117, which comes into being due to/after/as a result of right concentration; and which itself results in right liberation.

In short, both MN 149 & MN 117 directly say vipassana results from right concentration. In short, the words "ānupassī" & "vipassana" both include & refer to "direct seeing".

Sati-sampajana is often described in the suttas as a protective/preventative practice. For example, MN 38 says:

If the faculty of mind were left unrestrained, bad unskillful qualities of covetousness and displeasure would become overwhelming. For this reason, they practice restraint, protecting the faculty of mind, and achieving its restraint. When they have this noble sense restraint, they experience an unsullied bliss inside themselves. They act with situational awareness (sampajāna) when going out and coming back; when looking ahead and aside; when bending and extending the limbs; when bearing the outer robe, bowl and robes; when eating, drinking, chewing, and tasting; when urinating and defecating; when walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, and keeping silent. When they have this entire spectrum of noble ethics, this noble contentment, this noble sense restraint, and this noble mindfulness and situational awareness (satisampajaññena).

When they see a sight with their eyes, if it’s pleasant they don’t desire it, and if it’s unpleasant they don’t dislike it. They live with mindfulness (sārajjati) of the body established and a limitless heart. And they truly understand the freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom where those arisen bad, unskillful qualities cease without anything left over. Having given up favoring and opposing, when they experience any kind of feeling—pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral—they don’t approve, welcome, or keep clinging to it. As a result, relishing of feelings ceases. When their relishing ceases, grasping ceases.

Bhikkhu Sujato commentates on this, as follows:

Situational awareness is a psychological term popularized in the 1990s. It has to do with the perception of environmental phenomena and the comprehension of their meaning, which is very close to the sense of the Pali term sampajañña. | These acts describe the daily life of a mendicant: going into the village for alms, at which time there are many distracting sights. Then they return, eat their meal, and spend their day in meditation.

In conclusion:

  • AN 4.41 says observing/closely seeing (ānupassī) rise and fall in the five grasping aggregates leads to the ending of defilements. This is the vipassana/direct seeing described in SN 22.59, MN 118 & MN 149 because it leads to the ending/destruction/uprooting of the defilements & liberation.

  • When AN 4.41 refers to developing immersion that leads to mindfulness and situational awareness, this is obviously not vipassana because it does not lead to the uprooting of the defilements. Here, AN 4.41 is simply referring to having mindfulness and situational awareness when feelings, perceptions & thoughts occur so understanding (viditā) them does not allow craving & attachment to arise. The reference to arise (uppajjanti), remain (upaṭṭhahanti), go away (abbhatthaṁ gacchanti) in AN 4.41 is not the same as the rise and fall (udayabbayā) in AN 4.41. Particularly the word upaṭṭhahati does not sound like the momentary/short existence of a phenomena that is required for observing rise & fall. Rise & fall (udayabbayā) is two impressions that signifies seeing impermanence clearly. This relatively 'rapid' impermanence is what is required for deep vipassana that causes disenchantment, dispassion & ends/uproots the defilements. Where as arise (uppajjanti), remain (upaṭṭhahanti), go away (abbhatthaṁ gacchanti) is three impressions & the upaṭṭhahanti can last for a relatively long time. In short, the key word, namely, "viditā", appears not a synonym of "vipassana/anupassi". For example, in MN 66 and SN 12.17, the word "vidita" means "to understand" rather than merely "experience with bare awareness", as follows: "Because I understand the diversity of faculties as it applies to this person. Indriyavemattatā hi me, udāyi, imasmiṃ puggale viditā"; "I have understood individual differences. Api ca mayā puggalavemattatā viditā”ti".

  • Therefore, MN 111 is not referring to 'vipassana' when it says these phenomena are understood (viditā) by him as they arise, as they persist and as they disappear. The word "understand (viditā)" appears to refer to simply not being deluded by those phenomena.

If we not situationally aware (of the context of Buddhism), the word "deluded" includes have self-views towards those phenomena, such as believing: "I/me/mine have/has attained jhana".

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