Notes for Anapanasati and Community

Sangha and Mindfulness of Breathing

This is the first of several essays I want to produce as we study the Anapanasati Sutta, the discourse on the development of mindfulness through breath awareness. This teaching is the only one I’m aware of in the Pali Canon that has a fairly well developed “prelude” extolling the virtues and dedication of the sangha present as the Buddha talked about the cultivation of the four foundations of mindfulness and the seven awakening factors using breath awareness as the primary strategy.

This essay focuses on possible reasons for emphasizing the high quality of practice among the assembled men and women listening to the talk (I’m assuming women were present although this is not explicitly stated in the sutta).

The discourse begins by describing the site, Savatthi, the town where the Buddha lived during most of his years of teaching. At the beginning, he names several of his most senior monks who were teaching many students there at the time. He’s so impressed by their diligent practice that he announces he will remain there for another month.

Here an excerpt, downloaded from the website Access To Insight; the translation is that of Thanissaro Bhikkhu: