More on the "breath body' (sabbakaya
) issue, and Than-Geoff’s view.
He clearly argues strongly for “physical” sense as distinct from the “group” or “body-of-the-breath” sense of kaya
, which I believe has to do with his lineage of interpretation and training (especially Ajaan Lee), and also that his prime goal is practical teaching of the dhamma
, rather than sophisticated abhidhamma
-like analytical interpretations. Similarly as his translations are s/t criticized as to philological details, where his aim is more readability, together with s/t unusual renderings and a s/w poetic style to convey an aura of special meaning to the sutta
language (rather than being more common-language prosaic).
On the other hand, he has characterized the Buddha’s teaching as a “radical phenomenology” (notably in the book Buddhist Romanticism
), which caught my eye. I subsequently asked him about that (last year when he was in town for his annual day-long at IMC, Redwood City, Calif). He doesn’t claim extensive study of phenomenology, and uses the term s/w informally. I do think, though, from the overall tenor of his understanding (his teaching), and from the way he uses the term in that book, that his intuitive grasp of phenomenology is accurate. (I did give him a copy of the article that came up here earlier about Edmund Husserl – the father of phenomenology – and his expression of great interest in the teachings in the Pali Canon through the contemporaneous German translations of Neumann.)
Looking more closely at TG’s analysis (quoted above in bodom
» Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:11 pm), there’s evidence (bolded phrases in the excerpts quoted below) that he means “physical” body in a rather more phenomenological than strictly scientific (externally observed) sense.
“...With step 4 this principle is obvious: You’re trying to calm the effect of the breath on the felt sense of the body
“...it seems best to interpret “body” as meaning “physical body” in all of these contexts, and to interpret “entire body” in step 3 as referring to the entire physical body as sensed from within
That is to say, the body as experienced, as phenomena, in line with the Buddha’s view, rather than as an ontological thing, which is strongly suggested by the (ontologically biased) mundane Western idea of the “physical” body. TG elaborates (in his book) on that idea of “sensed from within” as phenomenological, the locus of applying the dhamma being one’s own private experience, which cannot be fully communicated or known by externally.
Javi wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:55 pm
cjmacie wrote: ↑
Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:22 pm
I hear you cjmacie, and I agree. However the point still stands that some interpret the third anapanasati step as a narrow focus of attention on the breath on a particular spot, this would, phenomenologically, still be different than a broader sense of interoception.
, I believe, works in either case. The mind attends to a single object (actually a phenomenal image or representation) at any one time. If it’s some sense of the whole “body” breathing, that’s the single present “whole” of bodily experience. If it’s the touch of breath at the nostrils, that’s also the single present “whole” of bodily experience at that time. In between the differences are of degree or scope, converging on the unification of samadhi
(which many consider to be what anapanasati
is about). Note that the whole-body scanning technique runs through a succession of foci, from one (perceived) body part to the next. This could be considered rather a khanika-samadhi
exercise across shifting objects, but when the mind attempts to integrate all that into a single mental image / object, “entire” means unified; anapanasati
steps 3 and 4 “sensitive” to that single unification, “calming” the same. The mind isn’t enumerating all those individual part at this point.
Actually, I suspect that Than-Geoff is teaching more a khanika samadhi
(momentary concentration) approach, the broader sensory “breathing body” field more like the Mahasi use of the coarser movement of the abdomen with breathing rather than the relatively “fine-body” approach at the nostrils more suitable or ananpana
/ absorption samadhi
– for practical, introductory reasons, as most Westerners less likely to be able to concentrate as narrowly (the same motivation behind the Mahasi technique). Than-Geoff certainly knows the fully absorbed jhāna
-s, as per his videos talking about them, but for general teaching (reaching the broadest audience), he avoids teaching what he calls “jhāna
-by-the-numbers”. And, as evident elsewhere in his teachings, he emphasizes the application of switching back and forth between concentration and insight, which is the proper end goal of both the khanika-samadhi
and the appana-samadhi
Again, Than-Geoff prefers to avoid abhidhamma
type perspectives, such as the analysis of 5-door sensory mind-moments coupled with immediately succeeding mind-door mind-moments that form perception as mental mirror of the sensory stimuli, as implicit, I sense, in the Buddhadasa presentation of the “material body” and the “mental body”.