The Discourse about the
Ways of Attending to Mindfulness

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Contemplation of the Body

The Section about In-breathing and Out-breathing

And how, monks, does a monk dwell contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body?

Here, monks, a monk who has gone to the wilderness, or has gone to the root of a tree, or has gone to an empty place, sits down. After folding his legs crosswise, setting his body straight, The absolutives here and in the next line are connected with the finite verbs assasati and passasati (as in Ñāṇamoli's translation of MN 10), and not with nisīdati in the preceding line, in which case the folding of the legs, setting the body straight, and establishment of mindfulness would all occur before he sat down!01 and establishing mindfulness at the front, Parimukhaṁ means at the front, or perhaps, around the mouth, i.e. it is a vague area, not meant to be confined to one particular spot or place, which would have been easy to designate if that is what was meant (like specifying oṭṭha, the lip). It is of course the mindfulness that is important in the practice, not the breathing as such, which only provides a basis for the mindfulness.02 being very mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.

While breathing in long, he knows “I am breathing in long”,
or, while breathing out long, he knows “I am breathing out long”;
or, while breathing in short, he knows “I am breathing in short”,
or, while breathing out short, he knows “I am breathing out short”.

Experiencing Paṭisambhidāmagga says: body means the two bodies - the mind-body and the physical body; this would seem to mitigate against breathing meditation being taken solely as a body-based meditation.03 the whole body I will breathe in, The instruction here changes from the present tense for breathing to the future tense. The reason for this change is that once the mind is settled on the breath he needs to deliberately cultivate mindfulness to progress further in the practice. 04 like this he trains,
experiencing the whole body I will breathe out, like this he trains;
calming the bodily process I will breathe in, like this he trains,
calming the bodily process I will breathe out, like this he trains.

Just as, monks, a clever turner or turner's apprentice while making a long turn knows “I am making a long turn”, or, while making a short turn knows “I am making a short turn”, The choice of simile here is surely significant, as the turner knows not just what is happening, but how he is making it happen, so that knowledge of the intention is also included in the practice.05

just so, monks, a monk while breathing in long, knows “I am breathing in long”,
or, while breathing out long, he knows “I am breathing out long”;
or, while breathing in short, he knows “I am breathing in short”,
or, while breathing out short, he knows “I am breathing out short”.

Experiencing the whole body I will breathe in, like this he trains,
experiencing the whole body I will breathe out, like this he trains;
calming the bodily process I will breathe in, like this he trains,
calming the bodily process I will breathe out, like this he trains.

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, The context seems to indicate that contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body means contemplating the transient, ownerless nature of the body, as is signified by the references to origination and dissolution (samudaya & vaya [= anicca]) on the one hand; and the impersonal knowledge “there is a body” (atthi kāyo [= anattā]) on the other. Suffering, the other of the three characteristics of existence (tilakkhaṇa) is implied in impermanence. And similarly in regard to the other contemplations.06 or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, That we are really talking about others' bodies, and not the internal and external parts of our own body, is confirmed by the Abhidhamma Satipaṭṭhānavibhaṅga (translated elsewhere on this website), where the grammar excludes any other interpretation.07 or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, See DP, ajjhattaṁ (and °bahiddhā) for these meanings. In Janavasabhasutta (DN 18,26) it says: here ... a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body, ardent, with full awareness, mindfully aware, after removing avarice and sorrow regarding the world; while he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body there he becomes perfectly concentrated, perfectly clear, and, being perfectly concentrated, perfectly clear, he generates knowledge and insight regarding the external bodies of others. Similarly in regard to the contemplation of feelings, mind, and the nature of things.08 or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, The translation follows the commentary, which says: just as far as, this designates, and is limited to, purpose. This is what is said: whatever mindfulness is established is not for another reason. Then the meaning of as far as (is necessary for) a measure of knowledge is so as to increase more and more, further and further, knowledge and mindfulness, for the increase of mindfulness and full awareness. For the same word in Sanskrit having this meaning see SED under mātra. This seems to me to make much better sense than the usual translation of for just knowledge and remembrance (Way); or for mere understanding and mere awareness (VRI). See also MN 22, near the end, where saddhamatta is translated by Ñāṇamoḷi and Bodhi (MLDB) as sufficient faith, and pemamatta as sufficient love.09 and he dwells independent, Comm: he lives independent because he is not dependent on wrong views or craving.10 and without being attached to anything in the world. Comm: he doesn't grasp (anything) thinking: this is my self or this belongs to my self.11

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

The Section about In-breathing and Out-breathing is Finished