It is a truism to say that nobody likes suffering and everybody seeks happiness. In this world of ours, human beings are making all possible efforts for prevention and alleviation of suffering and enjoyment of happiness. Nevertheless, their efforts are mainly directed to the physical well-being by material means. Happiness is, after all, conditioned by attitudes of mind, and yet only a few persons give real thought to mental development; fewer still practice mind-training in earnest.
To illustrate this point, attention may be drawn to the commonplace habits of cleaning and tidying up one’s body; the endless pursuits of food, clothing, and shelter; and the tremendous technological progress achieved for raising the material standard of living, for improving the means of transport and communications, and for prevention and cure of diseases and ailments. All these strivings are, in the main, concerned with the care and nourishment of the body. It must be recognized that they are essential. However, these human efforts and achievements cannot possibly bring about the alleviation or eradication of suffering associated with old age and disease, domestic infelicity and economic troubles; in short, with non-satisfaction of wants and desires. Sufferings of this nature are not overcome by material means; they can be overcome only by mind-training and mental development.
Therefore, it becomes clear that the right way must be sought for training, stabilizing, and purifying the mind. This way is found in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta, a well-known discourse of the Buddha, delivered well over twenty-five hundred years ago. The Buddha declared thus:
This is the sole way for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destroying of pain and grief; for reaching the right path, for the realization of Nirvana, namely the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.