Proposed new translations of the Satipatthana Suttas
- In an effort to support my contemplative insights I have recently been
concentrating my studies on the various suttas in the Pali canon that are dedicated
to meditation, consciousness and cognition. I have found I have a conflict
over some of the uses of words, like 'consciousness' and 'mind,' in the
translations that have been available to us.
I have spent some time examining these suttas in search of the intent that I
believe was behind the Buddha's discourses, and I have informed my study
through reflecting upon my 30 years of meditation practice. This reflection and
contemplation has confirmed my belief that our language of consciousness and
cognition is not properly represented in the present translations of these
ancient documents. A classic example of what I believe is the incorrect use of our
language of gnosis, consciousness and cognition is in the use of the word
'consciousness' which too often seems to imply that through meditation we are
seeking an unconscious state, which cannot be true.
Also the Pali term 'citta' is often translated as 'mind.' Mind in the
English language means "The faculty of thinking, reasoning, and applying knowledge,"
whereas in the Pali canon and other Buddhist literature it is often used to
represent bare essential awareness. In this case I believe the word
'consciousness' would be far more appropriate for the Pali term 'citta' than is the word
Also there are numerous unsuccessful compound words used in these
translations, like 'eye-consciousness' which should be replaced by something that uses
our language more effectively, such as 'visual perception.' I have therefore
gone through the translations of the three suttas (Anapanasati,
Maha-satipatthana and Satipatthana) from the Pali by Bhikkhus Nanamoli, Bodhi and Thanissaro,
Nyanasatta Thera, and Maurice Walshe, and I have made suggestions for changes.
And, I have uploaded them to the web (please see the URL below).
If you examine these recent uploads I believe you will find them far more
readable and accessible. And, for ease of use they are in Acrobat Reader .PDF
format as well as MS Word. I also find the translations of the canon far too
heavily waited on the male sex, which is somewhat offensive to present Western
cultural values. Therefore I have removed many of the gender specifying
references as well.
The files uploaded are:
Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118)
Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22)
Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10)
Bahiya Sutta, Udana I.10
They are available at this URL: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/files/
Best regards to you,
editor, Southwest Insight E'letter
moderator, Ecstatic Buddhism
moderator, Jhana Support Group