Body Scan

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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one_awakening
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Body Scan

Post by one_awakening » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:28 am

Where did the body scan technique come from? I don't believe it was practiced during the Buddha's time.
“You only lose what you cling to”

SarathW
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Re: Body Scan

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:38 am

Can you explain how the body scan is performed?
Thanks.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Sam Vara
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Re: Body Scan

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:00 am

SarathW wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:38 am
Can you explain how the body scan is performed?
Thanks.
Generally, it refers to a meditation technique which involves moving the attention through different parts of the body, noticing and being aware of the sensations that are in each part of the body, before moving on to the next part. The "vipassana" part of the technique taught on Goenka retreats is an intensive form of this. It starts on a small patch on the crown of the head, and then works down to cover each part of the body's surface; and then, in later stages, the interior of the body. Less intensive forms are now very common as a means of relaxation, etc., although it has somehow become associated with "vipassana", as if the term referred to a technique.

If you Google the term, you will find lots of explanations and guided meditations.

I've never seen reference to it in the suttas, and - like the OP - I'm curious as to its origins.

SarathW
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Re: Body Scan

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:05 am

Thanks, Sam

Isn't this the third limb of the first tetrad of Anapanasati?
This is just another way to practice mindfulness of the body.
Body Scan seems to be only one aspect of the 16 steps.
=========
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Sam Vara
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Re: Body Scan

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:18 am

SarathW wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:05 am
Thanks, Sam

Isn't this the third limb of the first tetrad of Anapanasati?
This is just another way to practice mindfulness of the body.
Body Scan seems to be only one aspect of the 16 steps.
=========
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Yes, I guess it is one way of doing one interpretation of that limb. It's certainly a form of mindfulness of the body.

thepea
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Re: Body Scan

Post by thepea » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:42 pm

one_awakening wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:28 am
Where did the body scan technique come from? I don't believe it was practiced during the Buddha's time.
This is how the Buddha practiced and taught meditation.
Goenka explains this In great detail over an 8 day period in the satipatthana sutra course.
Some disagree, I have come to understand that all techniques are basically the same, they are to take the meditator to the depth where wisdom is experienced at a depth of mind/body where change is taking place.
I cannot explain this technique to you or anyone else, you must get established in this over some time then you will be ready to receive satipatthana teachings and grasp the depths of this teaching at the level where the Buddha was instructing and speaking from. Otherwise it is superficial and just leads to arguments and disagreements over ancient Pali words and their current translations.

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Body Scan

Post by JamesTheGiant » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:59 pm

thepea wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:42 pm
This is how the Buddha practiced and taught meditation.
Goenka explains this ....
No, there is no mention anywhere in the suttas of the Buddha practising or teaching the Body Scan. That's just what Goenkaji says. Perhaps he was told this by U Ba Khin but there's absolutely no evidence that the Buddha himself did this.
However, the Body Scan is a good technique, which complies with the Satipatthana sutta teachings. I personally know many good monks who use this technique often.

thepea
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Re: Body Scan

Post by thepea » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:54 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:59 pm
thepea wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:42 pm
This is how the Buddha practiced and taught meditation.
Goenka explains this ....
No, there is no mention anywhere in the suttas of the Buddha practising or teaching the Body Scan. That's just what Goenkaji says. Perhaps he was told this by U Ba Khin but there's absolutely no evidence that the Buddha himself did this.
However, the Body Scan is a good technique, which complies with the Satipatthana sutta teachings. I personally know many good monks who use this technique often.
It is very well explained in the Goenka satipatthana sutra course. But like I said “some disagree”
Have you taken this course?

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Body Scan

Post by JamesTheGiant » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:01 pm

thepea wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:54 pm
It is very well explained in the Goenka satipatthana sutra course. But like I said “some disagree”
Have you taken this course?
Yes, I've done the Satipatthana course twice as a student and once as a server.
Goenkaji says the Buddha used this technique, but without giving any evidence except to say it has been passed down in "pristine purity" from person to person. That could be true, but that body scanning technique is not mentioned specifically in any suttas.
But I do feel it is a very good technique, and it is in line with the suttas.

thepea
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Re: Body Scan

Post by thepea » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:30 pm

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:01 pm
Yes, I've done the Satipatthana course twice as a student and once as a server.
Goenkaji says the Buddha used this technique, but without giving any evidence except to say it has been passed down in "pristine purity" from person to person. That could be true, but that body scanning technique is not mentioned specifically in any suttas.
But I do feel it is a very good technique, and it is in line with the suttas.
I believe it is well explained in the course when discussing vedana. It makes perfect sense that you will not find sutras explaining body scanning technique, As you will not find Goenka writing any explanations regarding this technique. It is not theoretical understanding alone, and requires a depth of wisdom of experience to be accompanied while being explained and as one guides the student deeper into the body and mind.
I’m sure there is many things the Buddha did not explain in sutras for this very reason. This is why it is important that the technique practiced was passed on over the years from teachers to students who became teachers etc... and why Goenka mentions this as verification of this practice.

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one_awakening
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Re: Body Scan

Post by one_awakening » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:45 am

The Goenka body scan involves not just noticing the body, but noticing sensations. This seems like a departure.
“You only lose what you cling to”

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Body Scan

Post by JamesTheGiant » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:53 am

one_awakening wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:45 am
The Goenka body scan involves not just noticing the body, but noticing sensations. This seems like a departure.
Noticing sensations is called Vedananupassana (Contemplation on Sensations).
It's an important type of meditation mentioned many times in the suttas, especially in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta.
2. Observing the Feelings
And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of feelings? It’s when a mendicant who feels a pleasant feeling knows: ‘I feel a pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a painful feeling.’

When they feel a neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a neutral feeling.’

When they feel a carnal pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a carnal pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a carnal painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a carnal painful feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual painful feeling.’

When they feel a carnal neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a carnal neutral feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual neutral feeling.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the feelings internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the body as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that feelings exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world. That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of feelings.
https://suttacentral.net/mn10/en/sujato

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Volovsky
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Re: Body Scan

Post by Volovsky » Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:41 am

I think Goenka's body scanning has it's origin in 4 elements meditation, at least it is similar to 4 elements meditation the way it is taught in Pa-Auk (Vism). The difference is only that in Goenka's approach there is no "classification" of sensations of a particular element (e.g. hardness, softness for earth, etc), but observing just what is felt. The 4 element meditation should be done for the whole body, and scanning is just an easy way to do it.

I doubt scanning originates from "experiencing the whole body" in ānāpānasati. Goenka system is coming from Burma, and Burmese would be reluctant to interpret here "body" differently from traditional way.

pegembara
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Re: Body Scan

Post by pegembara » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:08 am

I believe it has to do with the elements - water/fire/wind/earth etc.

These are tactile elements('touch') of the body (apart from sights/sounds/taste/smells).
"And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property? Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid

"And what is the liquid property? The liquid property may be either internal or external. What is the internal liquid property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's liquid, watery

"And what is the fire property? The fire property may be either internal or external. What is the internal fire property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's fire, fiery

"And what is the wind property? The wind property may be either internal or external. What is the internal wind property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's wind, windy

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
"'The six internal media should be known.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? The eye-medium, the ear-medium, the nose-medium, the tongue-medium, the body-medium, the intellect-medium. 'The six internal media should be known.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said. This is the first sextet.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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one_awakening
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Re: Body Scan

Post by one_awakening » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:02 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:53 am
Noticing sensations is called Vedananupassana (Contemplation on Sensations).
It's an important type of meditation mentioned many times in the suttas, especially in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta.
2. Observing the Feelings
And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of feelings? It’s when a mendicant who feels a pleasant feeling knows: ‘I feel a pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a painful feeling.’

When they feel a neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a neutral feeling.’

When they feel a carnal pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a carnal pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual pleasant feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual pleasant feeling.’

When they feel a carnal painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a carnal painful feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual painful feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual painful feeling.’

When they feel a carnal neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a carnal neutral feeling.’

When they feel a spiritual neutral feeling, they know: ‘I feel a spiritual neutral feeling.’
This refers to feelings not sensations.
“You only lose what you cling to”

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