Desire for Self-healing

Lay Practice of Satipaṭṭhāna in Contemporary China

In: Asian Medicine

Abstract

This practice report describes how Chinese meditators understand the “four foundations of mindfulness” (satipaṭṭhāna, sinianzhu 四念住) as a remedy for both mental and physical suffering. In the tradition of Theravāda Buddhism, satipaṭṭhāna is particularly recognized as the core knowledge for understanding the relationship between mind and body, and the core practice leading to liberation from suffering. Based on interviews with Chinese meditation practitioners, this study develops three main themes concerning how they have alleviated afflictions through the practice of satipaṭṭhāna. The first theme highlights how practitioners learn to overcome meditation difficulties with “right attitude.” The second theme is about practicing awareness with “six sense doors” open in order to facilitate the balance of the “five faculties.” The third theme explores how practitioners cultivate daily life practice through an understanding of the nature of mind and body as impermanent and as not-self. This paper details how these themes and embodied practices of satipaṭṭhāna constitute ways of self-healing for urban educated Buddhists in the contemporary Chinese context.

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