This course involves lessons which lead students through a stepwise, progressive enumeration of groups of Dhammas similar to that found in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. The Course is broken up into Eight Units with each unit providing enough material for a suggested two weeks of in-depth study. The course discussion forum hosted through Discord can be reached through the link to the right.

1.1 – Mindfulness and Clear Comprehension (Sati & Sampajañña)


Mindfulness (sati) and clear comprehension (sampajañña) lie at the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching. The knowing mental quality of mindfulness, rather than appearing in isolation as it often does in secular contexts, regularly shows up in the Buddha’s early discourses paired with the discriminative factor of clear comprehension or alertness. In this lesson, these two mindstates will be examined in their native context of the Pali Canon and through the discerning writings of ancient and modern commentators who have tried to put them into lived practice.

You may download the topic’s flashcard deck on Quizlet or Anki for further study.

Pre-test yourself

1) Definitions

  1. Sati
    1. mindfulness
    2. awareness
    3. memory
  2. Sampajañña
    1. clear comprehension (Payutto; TW Rhys Davids; Bodhi; Soma)
    2. alertness (Thanissaro)
    3. clear knowing (Anālayo)
    4. Extra: constant thorough understanding of impermanence (VRI); full awareness (Nhat Hanh); attention, consideration, discrimination, comprehension, circumspection (PED); introspection (Wallace)

Review (Click text for answer)

2) Sutta Selections

  1. Sati
    1. SN 48.10
    2. DN 22 
  2. Sampajañña
    1. SN 47.35 

Review (Click text for answer)

3) Ancient Commentary

  1. Sati
    1. “Sati has the sense of establishment (upaṭṭhāna)” [Visuddhimagga]
  2. Sampajañña (4 types) [Commentary to the Sāmaññaphala Sutta]
    1. Clear Comprehension as to Purpose (Pāli: sātthaka): refraining from activities irrelevant to the path.
    2. Clear Comprehension as to Suitability (sappāya): pursuing activities in a dignified and careful manner.
    3. Clear Comprehension as to Domain (gocara):[12] maintaining sensory restraint consistent with mindfulness.
    4. Clear Comprehension as to Non-delusion (asammoha): seeing the true nature of reality.

Review (Click text for answer)

4) Modern Commentary

  1. Sati
    1. Bhante Nyanaponika “The Power of Mindfulness”
    2. Ajahn Sumedho “Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless”
    3. Ajahn Thanissaro “Mindfulness Defined”
    4. Extra: Bhante Gunaratana
  2. Sampajañña
    1. VRI article

Review (Click text for answer)