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The nourishments of ignorance

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  • The nourishments of ignorance

    I was giving a talk on the eight things that nourish ignorance. A member of our group asked what the difference was between sati and yoniso manasikara. Given that mindfulness includes memory of the teachings, then sati seems to encompass yoniso manasikara, so I didn't know how to answer, other than to say that perhaps sati covered a wider area than yoniso manasikara. Can someone enlighten me. With gratitude, Mary Dumka, Canmore, Alberta, Canada

  • #2
    Hello Mary,

    I hope you are well. There is a discussion on this topic (sati and yoniso manasikara) on SuttaCentral and Dhamma Wheel. See the links below. I hope they are helpful!

    Warmest Regards.


    • #3
      Hello again Mary,

      I hope you're well. More pertinent to your question are the Sutta retreats by Ajahn Brahmali where he specifically talks about and answers questions regarding sati (mindfulness), sampajanna (clear comprehension), and yoniso manasikara (wise attention/consideration/reflection). I will provide the links to the relevant talks.

      According to Ajahn Brahmali, mindfulness, sampajanna, and yoniso manasikara are closely related. While mindfulness helps us become clearly aware of what is going on, what is happening in the present moment, the second part, sampajanna, lets us know whether that specific mental/bodily action or quality is suitable, whether it serves our practice.

      So, if we are practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, we should ask ourselves whether we are practicing Right Speech, Right action, metta, etc, OR are we practicing anger and other negative qualities. We should know that clearly. This is mindfulness and clear comprehension.

      Then comes yoniso manasikara, which helps us direct our minds in the right way. So, if we know that a certain mental/bodily quality or tendency is inappropriate, yoniso manasikara directs our mind in the right direction. For example, if we know our mind is heading towards anger, we ask ourselves how to avoid that. We contemplate how to direct our mind to go towards metta and compassion instead. We make that shift through yoniso manasikara.

      Hence, yoniso manasikara is more basic and profound. We need it with us all the way on the Path and it's very useful when all these qualities (i.e. mindfulness, clear comprehension, and wise attention/reflection) come together.

      Here's the link to the June 2017, 9-Day Happy Sutta Retreat, Part 7 (Q & A) where Ajahn Brahmali discusses the question. The relevant part you want to listen to is from the beginning to 6:25 (about 6 minutes and 30 seconds) and from 39:55 to 42:00.

      Here's a link to the entire June 2017, Sutta Retreat:

      For another slightly more detailed and profound discussion on yoniso manasikara in relation to other aspects of Dhamma, here is a link to Ajahn Brahmali's June 2018, 9-Day Happy Sutta Retreat, Part 15. Listen to the first half, or about the first 30 minutes:

      Here's a link to the entire June 2018 Sutta Retreat:

      I hope this helps. Take care.

      With metta.



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