Sampajañña (Pāli; Skt.: samprajanya) means "clear comprehension," "clear knowing," "constant thorough understanding of impermanence," "fully alert" or "full awareness," as well as "attention, consideration, discrimination, comprehension, circumspection."
Sampajañña is a Pali term used in Theravada suttas; the equivalent Sanskrit term samprajaña is found in Sanskrit texts employed (in translation) by a variety of meditation teachers such as Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and in the Tibetan tradition.
From the Pali Canon
- Herein (in this teaching) a monk lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief;
- he lives contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief;
- he lives contemplating consciousness in consciousness, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief;
- he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief.
- purpose (Pāli: sātthaka): refraining from activities irrelevant to the path.
- suitability (sappāya): pursuing activities in a dignified and careful manner.
- domain (gocara): maintaining sensory restraint consistent with mindfulness.
- non-delusion (asammoha): seeing the true nature of reality (see three characteristics).
Critical to Right Mindfulness' purpose (Nyanaponika)
- ... I should add that Ven. Nyanaponika himself did not regard “bare attention” as capturing the complete significance of satipaṭṭhāna, but as representing only one phase, the initial phase, in the meditative development of right mindfulness. He held that in the proper practice of right mindfulness, sati has to be integrated with sampajañña, clear comprehension, and it is only when these two work together that right mindfulness can fulfill its intended purpose.
Use day and night (Nhat Hanh)
- This exercise is the observation and awareness of the actions of the body. This is the fundamental practice of the monk. When I was first ordained as a novice forty-eight years ago, the first book my master gave me to learn by heart was a book of gathas to be practiced while washing your hands, brushing your teeth, washing your face, putting on your clothes, sweeping the courtyard, relieving yourself, having a bath, and so on.
- ... If a novice applies himself to the practice of [this] ... exercise, he will see that his everyday actions become harmonious, graceful, and measured. Mindfulness becomes visible in his actions and speech. When any action is placed in the light of mindfulness, the body and mind become relaxed, peaceful, and joyful. [This] ... exercise is one to be used day and night throughout one's entire life.