The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and The Four Noble Truths

Introduction : The Texts

The Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutra is a compilation of the Satipaṭṭhāna and the Saccavibhanga Sutras.

The Satipaṭṭhāna Sutra teaches The Foundations of Mindfulness.
The Saccavibhanga Sutra teaches The Four Noble Truths.

The Saccavibhanga and Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's Four Noble Truths are identical, and this is the most detailed version of the Truths in the Pali scriptures.

English translations of the Saccavibhanga Sutra give only a paraphrased form of the Second and Third Truths. They are also sometimes paraphrased in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna.

The reason for this is that they are extremely long and are possibly thought boring e.g. they both repeat the same phrases 61 times. However, this detail is essential in order to correctly understand them.

The full version of the Second and Third Truths is available in most of the modern translations of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna.

Introduction : The Translations

K.E.Neumann translated the entire Pali Cannon into German in the 1890s (he died in 1915 and was published posthumously in 1929). His name is largely forgotten. In fact, Buddhists have largely discreditted him and all his pioneering work, because he was a Christian and therefore perhaps didn't understand Buddhism correctly.

Christians missionaries were spread all over the globe, long before Buddhists came to Europe. Many of these early missionaries were very enterprising people and they were linguists, they had to speak the local languages and understand the people they were preaching to.

Nyanaponika Thera, was a German who became a Buddhist monk. He is highly revered for his translations. It is generally unknown that Nyanaponika Thera's first English version of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna was merely translated from K.E.Neumann's German to English. It was published in 1962. He gave Neumann no credit for his pioneering work.

Unfortunately K.E.Neumann, (and then Nyanaponika Thera) paraphrased the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's Second and Third Truths.

The wording of Neumann's translation is as good as modern translations. The only problem is that it reduces the Second and Third Truths to a few short paragraphs. These reduced circa 2,480 words to 370 words, and are so short that they fail to convey the depth of the ideas.

The majority of modern Western thinking about Buddhism has been done on the basis of these paraphrased translations.

Recently online we have at least three fully independent complete versions of all Four Noble Truths.

Independent modern translations in English, French, Spanish, and Farsi, are all up to modern translation standards and roughly compatible in meaning, (only disagreeing significantly in the 6th step of the eightfold path).

5 English – 3 full translations : 2 paraphrased
2 French – both complete and good, based on Thanissaro
3 Deutsch – 2 paraphrased versions, 1 translation of Thanissaro
1 Farsi – full translation
Spanish and Italian texts are heavily paraphrased and have been omitted.

1. Namo Tassa, Bhagavato Arahato, Sammāsambuddhassa
Pali Tipitaka
Copyright Vipassana Research Institute
(Note: my browser says this page is unsafe. In my experience this is a totally safe page, but it isn't set up for https. In my opinion, by a small margin this is the most interesting translation; for example "rolling in thoughts" in the 2nd and 3rd truth.)

2. Translated from the Pali by Burma Piṭaka Association

3. Translated by U Jotika & U Dhamminda (1986)

4. Translated by Thanissaro bhikkhu (the Thai edition of MN10 which includes the 4 truths) – (paraphrased 2nd and 3rd Truth)

5. Nyanaponika Thera 1962. "The Heart of Buddhist Meditation" Rider & Co. London. 1962. The first translation of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna in English with heavily paraphrased 2nd + 3rd Truths. (Originally published in Germany as "Der einzige Weg" Verlag Christiana Konstanz 1956 – without the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna text, presumably due to K.E.Neumann's copyright).


Sutta Tipakaāsatipaṭṭhāna.htmlCette traduction est basée sur la traduction originale de Vénérable Dhammapâlita Bhikkhu. Elle tient aussi compte de la version anglaise de Thanissaro Bhikkhu traduite par Jeanne Schut, notamment dans sa dernière partie.

Tipiṭaka – Sutta Pitaka
Traduction proposée par le webmestre, avec le support du travail effectué par Thanissaro Bhikkhu, le VRI, et Middle length discourses of the Buddha de Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli et Bhikkhu Bodhi.


Dies erfordert ein Vorwort.

Die ersten Übersetzungen wurden von K. E. Neumann vor 1902 angefertigt – er starb 1915. Seine Übersetzungen erschienen erst 1929. Dies war das erste, das in einer europäischen Sprache veröffentlicht wurde.

Nyanaponika Thera (auch ein Deutscher) kopierte die Version von K. E. Neumann und erstellte die erste englische Übersetzung, die 1962 veröffentlicht wurde.

Also, ein tolles Zeugnis deutscher Forschungs- und Übersetzungsarbeit des letzten Jahrhunderts... wie es sich in der Heimat Martin Luthers gehört.

Heutzutage wird K. E. Neumann (K.E.N.) oft überarbeitet und korrigiert. Die deutschen Online-Übersetzungen sind sehr verwirrt und verwirrend. Oft wird nicht erkannt, wer die Korrekturen vorgenommen hat oder dass es sich um eine Korrektur von K.E. Neumanns Arbeit handelt.

Ich hoffe ein deutscher Buddhist wird meine Verwirrung bald verdeutlichen.

Nach ausgiebiger Recherche, finde ich die englischen und französischen Übersetzungen vollkommen ausreichend. Es lohnt sich einfach nicht nur aus akademischen Gründen weiterzuforschen.

Eine alte, möglicherweise originelle Übersetzung von K.E.Neumann
die gleiche Fassung wie
Die 2. und 3. Edle Wahrheiten sind sehr verkürzt.

Ein moderne Überarbeitung ist
der 2. und 3. Edle Wahrheiten sind weniger verkürzt, aber immer noch zu kurz, um sie wirklich zu verstehen.

neu in 2016
Übersetzt aus dem Pali von Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Übersetzung ins Deutsche von: Samana Johann
Ich finde in dieser Übersetzung aus dem Englischen keine große Klarheit – die älteren Versionen sind immer noch klarer.

There was also a full translation in Farsi.
I have a PDF copy and could send it to you – they seem to have taken it down.
Vipassana Research Institute
Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, Nashik, Maharashtra, India

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