The Discourse about the
Ways of Attending to Mindfulness

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Contemplation of the Body

The Section about Applying the Mind to Repulsiveness As noted in the Introduction it appears from the other versions of the Satipaṭṭhāna practice in the Pāḷi discourses and from comparative studies of the texts in the early traditions that this section on replulsiveness is the only original section in Kāyānupassanā, which means that the rest of the meditations described in the discourse are later additions, which gives it special relevance. It should also be noted that traditionally the subject for meditation (kammaṭṭhāna) described here (hairs of the head, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, etc.) is the first subject given to a newly ordained monastic, and may be taken as an introduction to the practice of mindfulness right at the beginning of the monastic's life.01

Moreover, monks, a monk in regard to this very body - from the sole of the feet upwards, from the hair of the head down, bounded by the skin, and full of manifold impurities - reflects (thus):

“There are in this body:

hairs of the head, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin,
flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys,
heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs,
intestines, mesentery, undigested food, excrement, Only adds the brain, here and in the repetition below, which is an addition to the formula made in Medieval times. The list up to this point is of the items that have a preponderance of the earth-element, the ones after this point have a preponderance of the water-element. 02
bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat,
tears, grease, spit, mucus, synovial fluid, urine.” This is, of course, merely meant to be indicative of the sort of things found in the body, not a comprehensive list thereof, as can also be confirmed from the simile below where examples of grain are given, not a complete list of all known grains.03

Just as though, monks, there were a bag open at both ends, full of various kinds of grain, such as: hill rice, white rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, chickpeas; and a man with good vision having opened it were to reflect (thus): “This is hill rice, this is white rice, these are mung beans, these are sesame seeds, these are chickpeas”; even so, monks, a monk in regard to this very body - from the sole of the feet upwards, from the hair of the head down, bounded by the skin, and full of manifold impurities - reflects (thus):

“There are in this body,

hairs of the head, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin,
flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys,
heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs,
intestines, mesentery, undigested food, excrement,
bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat,
tears, grease, spit, mucus, synovial fluid, urine.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, 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, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

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

The Section about Applying the Mind to Repulsiveness is Finished