Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

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Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby Dmytro » Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:39 am

Hello Pali friends,

The earliest explanation in Vibhanga clearly states that 'parimukhaṃ' means the area at the tip of the nose (nāsikagge) or at the lip of the mouth (mukhanimitte):

"Parimukha.m sati.m upa.t.thapetvaa"ti tattha katamaa sati? Yaa sati anussati pa.tissati …pe… sammaasati - aya.m vuccati "sati". Aya.m sati upa.t.thitaa hoti supa.t.thitaa naasikagge vaa mukhanimitte vaa. Tena vuccati "parimukha.m sati.m upa.t.thapetvaa"ti.

Vibhangapali .252

Patisambhidamagga and Atthakatha explains 'mukha' as 'niyyāna' - "way out, outlet" (of the breath).

Parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvāti. Parīti pariggahaṭṭho. Mukhanti niyyānaṭṭho. Satīti upaṭṭhānaṭṭho. Tena vuccati – ‘‘parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā’’ti.

Patisambhidamagga 1.176


Bhikkhu Sona quotes Patisambhidamagga-Atthakatha:

"Has the sense of embracing" is in the sense of being embraced. What is embraced? The outlet. What outlet? Concentration based on mindfulness of breathing is itself the outlet, right up to the arahant path. Hence "has the sense of outlet" is said. The meaning of "outlet from the round of rebirths" is expressed by the meaning of the word mukha (mouth) as foremost (front). "Has the sense of establishing" is in the sense of individual essence. The meaning expressed by all these words is: Having made mindfulness an embraced outlet. But some say that "has the sense of embracing'" stands for "embracing as the meaning of mindfulness," and that "has the sense of outlet" stands for "door of entry and exit as the meaning of in-breaths and out-breaths." Then what is meant is: Having established mindfulness as the embraced outlet of the in-breaths and out-breaths.(Note 14, Engl. Ed.; PsA 350-1)


http://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/nimitta.html


"parimukha.m sati.m upa.t.thapetvaati kamma.t.thaan'aabhimukha.m sati.m .thapayitvaa. mukhasamiipe vaa katvaati attho. teneva vibha'nge vutta.m - "aya.m sati upa.t.thitaa hoti sіpa.t.thitaa naasikagge vaa mukhanimitte vaa, tena vuccati parimukha.m sati.m upa.t.thapetvaa"ti (vibha. 537). athavaa pariiti pariggaha.t.tho. mukhanti niyyaana.t.tho. satiiti upa.t.thaana.t.tho. tena vuccati- "parimukha.m satin"ti. eva.m pa.tisambhidaaya.m vuttanayenapettha attho da.t.thabbo. tatraaya.m sa'nkhepo- "pariggahitaniyyaanasati.m katvaa"ti.

Silakkhandhavagga-Atthakatha 1.211


However the article in Pali-English dictionary, referring to the same Patisambhidamagga passage states that:

Parimukha (adj.) [pari+mukha] facing, in front; only as nt. adv. ˚ŋ in front, before, in phrase parimukhaŋ satiŋ upaṭṭhapeti "set up his memory in front" (i. e. of the object of thought), to set one's mindfulness alert Vin i.24; D ii.291; M i.56, 421; S i.170; A iii.92; It 80; Ps i.176 (expld); Pug 68; DA i.210. Also in phrase ˚ŋ kārāpeti (of hair) Vin ii.134 "to cut off (?) the hair in front" (i. e. on the breast) Vin. Texts iii.138, where is quoted Bdhgh's expln "ure loma -- saŋharaṇaŋ."


Perhaps the error is due to explanation of Buddhaghosa, mentioned in the article:

'Parimukhanti ure lomasa.mhara.na.m'

(Parimukhaṃ means cutting off the hair on the breast)

Culavagga-Atthakatha 6.1211

This commentary refers to the passage:

“Na, bhikkhave, massu kappaapetabba.m …pe… na massu va.d.dhaapetabba.m… na golomika.m kaaraapetabba.m… na caturassaka.m kaaraapetabba.m… na parimukha.m kaaraapetabba.m… na a.d.dhaduka.m kaaraapetabba.m… na daa.thikaa .thapetabbaa… na sambaadhe loma.m sa.mharaapetabba.m".

(Bhikkhu, the beard should not be trimmed, the beard should not be enlarged, should not be cut into a ball- or cluster-shape, should not be cut into quadrangular shape, should not be cut around the _mouth_, should not be cut in 'half-dyad', should not be arranged in whiskers, the hair should not be made grown at pudendum.)

Culavagga 2.134 5.Khuddakavatthuuni

Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes in this regard:

"The beard is not to be dressed. The beard is not to grown long. It is not to be dressed as a goatee. It is not to be trimmed as a rectangle. The hair of the chest is not to be dressed. The hair of the stomach is not to be dressed. (The translation of these last two statements follows the Commentary. An alternative translation, not supported by the Commentary, reads them as prohibitions connected with facial hair, in which the first one (parimukhaṃ) could be read as "moustache" and the second (aḍḍharukaṃ or aḍḍhadukaṃ) as "a mutton-chop beard.")"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch01.html


Indeed what a phantasy it would take to dress the hair of the chest and stomach!

So evidently the interpretation of 'parimukhaṃ' as 'in front' ignores the Vibhanga, and is based on the unrelated commentary.

Metta, Dmytro

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby lojong1 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:44 am

Pp.128-129 and notes 47 ff from Anaalayo's Direct Path offer some more sutta contexts for parimukham.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=m8QdXyA ... am&f=false

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby Dmytro » Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:21 pm

lojong1 wrote:Pp.128-129 and notes 47 ff from Anaalayo's Direct Path offer some more sutta contexts for parimukham.


It's, e.g.
- D III 49, M I 274, A IV 437 - overcoming the hindrances;
- A I 183 - divine abodes.

Analayo writes that:

"Both the Abhidhamma and the commentaries take "in front"(parimukhaṃ) to indicate a precise anatomical location. In the discourses, however, the specification "in front" occurs in a variety of contexts, such as, for example, in relation to overcoming the hindrances or to developing the divine abodes (brahmavihara). Although overcoming the hindrances can occur with the aid of mindfulness of breathing, this is not neccessarily the case. In fact, the standard instructions for overcoming the hindrances do not mention the breath. Similarly, the discourses do not relate the development of the divine abodes in any way to the awareness of breath."

Sounds strange, - as if there can be only one 'standard' way of overcoming the hindrances.
Patisambhidamagga describes in detail the overcoming of subtle hindrances in the Anapanasati chapter. Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga follow suit.

Or take Buddha's instructions for overcoming drowsiness, or discoursive thoughts, - he gave multiple inventive ways to do it.

In fact, the Sutta contexts Analayo gives can as well be taken as the evidence of connection between Anapanasati and overcoming the hindrances, or divine abodes.

Too often this "early Buddhism" approach" becomes a kind of reductionism - if it isn't mentioned expressly in the suttas, it's untrue. Given the fact that the descriptions in the suttas are stylized for ease of oral transmission, it's no wonder that lots of things are not mentioned.

This reductionism doesn't prevent Analayo to interpret 'parimukhaṃ' as 'in front' without any real justification.
Last edited by Dmytro on Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:13 pm

The remaining occurrences and absences of parimukham (from Analayo's note):
M I 219
M II 139
A I 184
A III 320
Ud 21, 42, 43, 46, 60, 71 (absent) http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... index.html

Ud 77 English p.93 http://books.google.ca/books?id=kIllG8k ... &q&f=false )
Ud 77: (with mindfulness of the body) "Addasā kho bhagavā āyasmantaṃ mahākaccānaṃ avidūre nisinnaṃ pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya kāyagatāya satiyā ajjhattaṃ parimukhaṃ sūpaṭṭhitāya." http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/tipitaka/18Ud/7/7.8

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:00 pm

Itivuttaka (85), Tikanipata, asubhaanupassii sutta. (Ernst Windisch p.80 http://books.google.ca/books?id=57Q4AAA ... am&f=false )
"...ajjhattaṃ parimukhaṃ sūpaṭṭhitāya...
Asubhaanupassii sutta also contains baahiraa vitakka (not bahidhaa). P.166 http://books.google.ca/books?id=kIllG8k ... ss&f=false

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby frank k » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:39 pm

How then to best translate parimukham, in the context of aanaapaanaa and satipathaana?

I find some of the existing english translations quite unsatisfying. Thanissaro's "setting mindfulness to the fore" (ignoring for the moment the debate between nostril area vs. a figurative "in front") still doesn't make sense to me, from the standpoint of a meditator who reads the 16 steps of the anapana and the prelude section with the instruction on parimukha. What am I actually supposed to do for that instruction? If I'm doing satipatthana and anapana, isn't it already obvious i'm giving sati a prominent emphasis, figuratively putting it in front? What additional meaning is intended by putting mindfulness in front? I assume the Buddha wouldn't be redundant so it seems there is something intended here.
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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby Sylvester » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:32 am

Dmytro wrote:Perhaps the error is due to explanation of Buddhaghosa, mentioned in the article:

'Parimukhanti ure lomasa.mhara.na.m'

(Parimukhaṃ means cutting off the hair on the breast)

Culavagga-Atthakatha 6.1211

This commentary refers to the passage:

“Na, bhikkhave, massu kappaapetabba.m …pe… na massu va.d.dhaapetabba.m… na golomika.m kaaraapetabba.m… na caturassaka.m kaaraapetabba.m… na parimukha.m kaaraapetabba.m… na a.d.dhaduka.m kaaraapetabba.m… na daa.thikaa .thapetabbaa… na sambaadhe loma.m sa.mharaapetabba.m".

(Bhikkhu, the beard should not be trimmed, the beard should not be enlarged, should not be cut into a ball- or cluster-shape, should not be cut into quadrangular shape, should not be cut around the _mouth_, should not be cut in 'half-dyad', should not be arranged in whiskers, the hair should not be made grown at pudendum.)

Culavagga 2.134 5.Khuddakavatthuuni

Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes in this regard:

"The beard is not to be dressed. The beard is not to grown long. It is not to be dressed as a goatee. It is not to be trimmed as a rectangle. The hair of the chest is not to be dressed. The hair of the stomach is not to be dressed. (The translation of these last two statements follows the Commentary. An alternative translation, not supported by the Commentary, reads them as prohibitions connected with facial hair, in which the first one (parimukhaṃ) could be read as "moustache" and the second (aḍḍharukaṃ or aḍḍhadukaṃ) as "a mutton-chop beard.")"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch01.html


Indeed what a phantasy it would take to dress the hair of the chest and stomach!


For good reason -

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby Dmytro » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:35 am

frank k wrote:How then to best translate parimukham, in the context of aanaapaanaa and satipathaana?


Something like "upper lip" or "above the mouth"? With the footnote from Vibhanga as the earliest source:

"the area at the tip of the nose (nāsikagge) or at the [upper] lip of the mouth (mukhanimitte)".

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby frank k » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:43 pm

Dmytro wrote:
frank k wrote:How then to best translate parimukham, in the context of aanaapaanaa and satipathaana?


Something like "upper lip" or "above the mouth"? With the footnote from Vibhanga as the earliest source:

"the area at the tip of the nose (nāsikagge) or at the [upper] lip of the mouth (mukhanimitte)".


doing a quick search on the web, vibhanga is a book in the abhidhamma?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibhanga

In thanissaro's mn 118 translation footnote, he says this about parimukham:
1. To the fore (parimukham): The Abhidhamma takes an etymological approach to this term, defining it as around (pari-) the mouth (mukham). In the Vinaya, however, it is used in a context (Cv.V.27.4) where it undoubtedly means the front of the chest. There is also the possibility that the term could be used idiomatically as "to the front," which is how I have translated it here.

I haven't studied the Vinaya, but in general the Vinaya should be an earlier text than Vibhanga right? So would "in front of the chest" be the best choice if we go by earliest scripture?

I believe the people who tend to translate parimukham idiomatically "in front of" do so to distance themselves as much as possible from the idea of anapana being a practice of immovable attention on a small fixed area around the nostril. Like those translators, I also subscribe to the view that step 3 of anapansati refers to experiencing the whole anatomical body, but I don't have a problem with translating parimukham as nostril or in front of chest. Since step 3 would clarify that one should expand one's attention to encompass the entire physical body. Just as one discards steps 1 and 2 later in the practice, one does not have to remain in the nostril area forever.

Is there an English translation of Vibhanga available online somewhere?
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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby Dmytro » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:28 am

frank k wrote:doing a quick search on the web, vibhanga is a book in the abhidhamma?


Yes, Vibhanga belongs to Abhidhamma-pitaka.

Yet inducing the chronology on the basis of Pitakas is a too сrude approach. More exact layering is necessary:

"The results arrived at concerning the chronology of the Pali canonical listerature are preseented in the subjoined table.
(1) The simple statements of Buddhist doctrines now found, in identical words, in paragraphs or verses recurring in all the books.
(2) Episodes found, in identical works, in two or more of the existing books.
(3) The Silas, the Parayana group of sixteen poems without the prologue, the atthaka group of four or sixteen poems, the sikkhapadas.
(4) The Digha, Vol. l, the Majjhima, the Samyutta, the Anguttara, and earlier Patimokkha code of 152 rules.
(5) The Digha, Vols. II & III, the Thera-Theri-Gatha, the collection of 500 Jatakas, the Suttavibhanga, the Partisambhidamagga, the Puggala-pannatti and the Vibhanga.
(6) The Mahavagga and the Cullavagga, the Patimokkha code completing 227 rules, the Vimanavatthu and Petavatthu, the Dhammapada and the Kathavatthu.
(7) The Cullaniddesa, the Mahaniddesa, the Udana, the Itivuttaka, the Suttanipata, the Dhatukatha, the Yamaka and the Patthana.
(8) The Buddhavamsa, the Cariyapitaka and the Apadana.
(9) The Parivarapatha.
(10) The Khuddakapatha."

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/bcl.htm
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12694

In thanissaro's mn 118 translation footnote, he says this about parimukham:
1. To the fore (parimukham): The Abhidhamma takes an etymological approach to this term, defining it as around (pari-) the mouth (mukham). In the Vinaya, however, it is used in a context (Cv.V.27.4) where it undoubtedly means the front of the chest. There is also the possibility that the term could be used idiomatically as "to the front," which is how I have translated it here.

I haven't studied the Vinaya, but in general the Vinaya should be an earlier text than Vibhanga right? So would "in front of the chest" be the best choice if we go by earliest scripture?


I have written about this Culavagga passage in the OP above. Actually Ven. Thanissaro here supports the commentarial interpretation. In another work (also referenced in the OP above) Ven. Thanissaro writes that: "An alternative translation, not supported by the Commentary, reads them as prohibitions connected with facial hair, in which the first one (parimukhaṃ) could be read as "moustache"".

I believe the people who tend to translate parimukham idiomatically "in front of" do so to distance themselves as much as possible from the idea of anapana being a practice of immovable attention on a small fixed area around the nostril.


I don't think there's a conscious intention. It's rather one of those errors which get repeated as hearsay from one translator to another until the initial reasons are forgotten.

Is there an English translation of Vibhanga available online somewhere?


Here's the Satipatthana section:

http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... avibhanga/

(the explanation of "parimukham" is in the Jhana section of Vibhanga).

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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby frank k » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:35 am

thanks for the links and references Dmytro.
Also on Ven. Ānandajoti's site, I quote here his footnote for parimukham:
http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... ana-02.htm

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.


So my feeling is the translators such as Anālayo, Thanissaro, Ānandajoti, who deliberately choose "front of the body" for parimukham do so to distance themselves from any possibility of meditators interpreting that instruction to lock their spatial awareness into a small area around the nostril.

I understand their position, but at the same time I'm even more baffled about what I am supposed to do (as a meditator trying to follow the anapanasati instructions) with the instruction to idiomatically place "mindfulness to the front". It's like the Federal gov't when they say something vague that sounds important and hope that it's so vague that it can escape scrutiny and criticism. There are times, I'd rather just state something that's definitely wrong and clearly understandable than something wishy washy. Stating parimukham as mouth/nostril area might be wrong, but at least it's clear and definite. And the step 3 instruction referring to entire anatomical body would clear things up.
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Re: Pali Term: Parimukhaṃ

Postby Dmytro » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:32 am

frank k wrote:
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.


So my feeling is the translators such as Anālayo, Thanissaro, Ānandajoti, who deliberately choose "front of the body" for parimukham do so to distance themselves from any possibility of meditators interpreting that instruction to lock their spatial awareness into a small area around the nostril.


Seems like this error is interlocked with the misinterpretation of 'sati' as some kind of present-time awareness of something physical.

Patisambhidamagga-Atthakatha 2.509 explains:

Pakatiassāsapakatipassāse nissāya uppannanimittampi assāsapassāsāti nāmaṃ labhati. Upaṭṭhānaṃ satīti taṃ ārammaṇaṃ upecca tiṭṭhatīti sati upaṭṭhānaṃ nāma.

"'Sati upaṭṭhāna' means that 'sati', having approached, stays on that basis of concentration (ārammaṇa) (i.e. the perceptual image (nimitta) which has arisen due to natural in-and-out-breath)."


The upper lip or tip of the nose area is the proper place to get the perceptual image (nimitta) of air necessary for further development of jhana, since jhana in anapanasati is a subtype of air kasina practice:


Kiṃ pana pathavīkasiṇaṃ ādiṃ katvā aṭṭhikasaññāpariyosānāvesā rūpāvacarappanā, udāhu aññāpi atthīti? Atthi; ānāpānajjhānañhi kāyagatāsatibhāvanā ca idha na kathitā. Kiñcāpi na kathitā vāyokasiṇe pana gahite ānāpānajjhānaṃ gahitameva; vaṇṇakasiṇesu ca gahitesu kesādīsu catukkapañcakajjhānavasena uppannā kāyagatāsati, dasasu asubhesu gahitesu dvattiṃsākāre paṭikūlamanasikārajjhānavasena ceva navasivathikāvaṇṇajjhānavasena ca pavattā kāyagatāsati gahitāvāti. Sabbāpi rūpāvacarappanā idha kathitāva hotīti.

"But is this all the absorption belonging to the consciousness of the sphere of refined form, beginning with the earth kasiṇa and ending in the perception of the skeleton? Or is there anything else?"
"Yes, there is. There is ānāpāna jhāna and the development of kāyagatāsati, which have not been spoken of here."
"Why not?"
"Because ānāpāna jhāna is included in the air kasiṇa; the development of kāyagatāsati arisen by virtue of the fourfold and fivefold jhānas with reference to the hair etc., is included in the colour kasiṇas; the kāyagatāsati produced by virtue of the jhānas attending to the unattractiveness in the thirty-two parts of the body, and that of the jhāna attending to the colours of the nine kinds of corpses in the charnel grounds is included in the ten repulsive things. Thus all the absorptions of consciousness connected with the sphere of refined form have been included here."

Dhammasangani-Atthakatha 200


Ānāpānajjhānassāpi panettha vāyokasiṇe saṅgaho daṭṭhabboti.

"Anapanasati jhana belongs to the group of air kasina."

Abhidhammatika Mya.40


When the representation (nimitta) of air is mastered, it can be gradually spread over the whole body, as described in Vimuttimagga (pages 158-159) and in the works of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo.

I understand their position, but at the same time I'm even more baffled about what I am supposed to do (as a meditator trying to follow the anapanasati instructions) with the instruction to idiomatically place "mindfulness to the front". It's like the Federal gov't when they say something vague that sounds important and hope that it's so vague that it can escape scrutiny and criticism. There are times, I'd rather just state something that's definitely wrong and clearly understandable than something wishy washy. Stating parimukham as mouth/nostril area might be wrong, but at least it's clear and definite. And the step 3 instruction referring to entire anatomical body would clear things up.


Yes, the Buddha's words are precise like mathematical formulas, unlike the words of the government :D


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