How many words in sati?

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greenjuice
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How many words in sati?

Post by greenjuice » Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:27 pm

I've read various advice about using one word or a phrase while meditating, but in Anapanasati Sutta Buddha talks about using full sentences, eg "I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication". So, eg if one relaxes the body at the beginning of a meditation, and is in the process of relaxing the eyebrows, should one use a whole sentence "i am calming the eyebrows", or a phrase "calming the eyebrows", or just one word: "eyebrows"? Or maybe even just one general word "relax" for all body parts when relaxing them?

Also when doing sampajanna eg while washing the dishes, there are additional options, one could use whole sentences for specific things like "i am washing a plate", "i am scrubbing a cup", etc, or a general sentence "i am washing the dishes", or just a phrase "washing the dishes", or just a word, "washing" or "dishes". Which option do you use / what would you recommend?

MartinB
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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by MartinB » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:14 pm

I would say use a single word or no words at all. However, don't use high level concepts like washing. You want to see what it feels like to touch the dishes, feel the water, ...

You can say touching, touching, feeling, feeling.

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:09 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:27 pm
"I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication".
Hi. "Bodily fabrication" is a translation of the Pali "kaya sankhara", which means the "in & out breathing". Step 4 of Anapanasati is about calming the breathing.
Assāsapassāsā kho kāyasaṅkhāro

Breathing is the kāyasaṅkhāro

MN 44; SN 41.6 https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
kaya-sankhara, body-conditioner: the breath, which conditions and influences the body directly.

https://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhik ... athing.htm
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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by MartinB » Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:05 am

My understanding is that there is at least some degree of disagreement about the correct translation.

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:19 am

MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:05 am
My understanding is that there is at least some degree of disagreement about the correct translation.
There is no disagreement about the correct translation of 'assāsapassāsā kho kāyasaṅkhāro'. 'Assāsapassāsā' means 'breathing'. 'Assāsapassāsā' is the 'kāyasaṅkhāro'.

The only disagreement is not applying the definition of 'kāyasaṅkhāro' in MN 44 & SN 41.6 to MN 118.

As for the translation of 'kāyasaṅkhāro' as 'bodily fabrication', this appears meaningless; and appears to be a sign of how translators are either: (i) ridiculous; or (ii) ridicule readers/followers.

However, since you appear to have personally raised an objection to my post with your "understanding", please kindly explain to me:

(i) what the translation "bodily fabrication" is supposed to mean? :shrug:

and

(ii) how this "bodily fabrication" is calmed? :shrug:

Thanks :smile:
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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by MartinB » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am

Here is what Bhikkhu Anālayo wrote on this topic in his book Satipaṭṭhāna:
The third and fourth steps of mindfulness of breathing, alike in both the Ānāpānasati Sutta and the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, are concerned with experiencing the “whole body” (sabbakāya) and with calming the “bodily formation” (kāyasaṅkhāro). In the present context, the “whole body” can be taken literally to refer to the whole physical body. Understood in this way, the instruction points to a broadening of awareness, a shift from the breath alone to its effect on the entire body. According to the commentaries, however, the “whole body” should be understood to refer, more figuratively, to the “body” of the breath. By understanding the “whole body” as the whole breath-body the instruction then indicates full awareness of the beginning, middle, and end stages of each breath. This interpretation can claim support from the same Ānāpānasati Sutta, since the Buddha here identified the breath as a “body” (kãya) among bodies. An argument against this interpretation, however, could be that the cultivation of full awareness of the length of the breath was the task of the previous two steps, knowing a long or a short breath, which already required the meditator to be aware of each breath from beginning to end. One would therefore expect this next step in the progression to introduce a distinctly new feature for contemplation, such as, for example, a shift of awareness to include the whole physical body.

The next step of training is the calming of the “bodily formation” (kãyasaúkhãra). Elsewhere the discourses define the “bodily formation” as in-breathing and out-breathing. This dovetails with the second interpretation above, according to which “whole body” refers to the whole length of the breath. The Paṭisambhidāmagga and the Visuddhimagga indicate that this fourth step of mindfulness of breathing also refers to maintenance of a calm and stable posture, in the sense of calming any inclination to move. Thus the instruction to calm the bodily formations also implies an increase in general bodily calmness, an understanding that fits with the first interpretation mentioned above, taking “body” to refer to the anatomical body. In the end, both interpretations overlap, since a calming of the breath naturally leads to increased bodily tranquillity and vice versa.

Such calming of breath and body can then either become the basis for developing awareness of the inner constitution of the body, as in the subsequent satipaṭṭhāna exercises, or else lead to an awareness of feelings and mental processes, as in the sixteen steps. In both cases this constitutes a natural progression in which the establishment of a basis in bodily calmness enables awareness to proceed to subtler aspects of contemplation.

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by greenjuice » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:43 am

Can i ask people to stop talking off-topic, and discuss what bodily formations are on some thread which is about that. Maybe i shouldnt have quoted that specific part, but

"Just as, bhikkhus, a skillful turner or a turner's apprentice, making a long turn, understands: 'I am making a long turn'; making a short turn, he understands: 'I am making a short turn'; in the same way, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, breathing in long, understands: 'I am breathing in long'; breathing out long he understands: 'I am breathing out long'..." or

"Furthermore, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, while walking, understands: 'I am walking', or while standing he understands: 'I am standing', or while sitting he understands: 'I am sitting', or while lying down he understands: 'I am lying down'."

Anyway, the topic i asked about is - if one does relaxation of the body (going over parts like eyebrows etc) or if one is doing mindful dish-washing, how many words do you think one should use?

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:58 am

MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
Here is what Bhikkhu Anālayo wrote on this topic in his book Satipaṭṭhāna:
Thanks MB. I personally do not regard Anālayo as authoritative.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
The third and fourth steps of mindfulness of breathing
It appears to be "mindfulness with breathing" rather than "mindfulness of breathing". Since the role of mindfulness is to bring right view or sampajjana to mind; it appears not possible to be mindful of breathing. It seems obvious mindfulness does not experience breathing but, instead, consciousness experiences breathings. The words in MN 118 for experiencing breathing are "anupassi", "pajānāti", "paṭisaṃvedī", etc, rather than "sati".
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
are concerned with experiencing the “whole body” (sabbakāya)
It appears "sabbakaya means "all bodies" rather than "whole body". The word "sabba" means "all" rather than "whole" ("kevala"). MN 118 says the breathing is a "body/kaya" among other "bodies/kaya". There are three bodies (kaya), namely, breath-body, physical body (rupa-kaya) and mental body (nama-kaya).
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
and with calming the “bodily formation” (kāyasaṅkhāro).
Sankhara above does not mean "formation". "Sankhara" does not always mean "formation". In MN 44, "sankhara" in kāyasaṅkhāro, vacisaṅkhāro & cittasaṅkhāro appears obviously to be a "causal agent". I suggest to read MN 44 and SN 41.6 carefully, particularly its explanation of "vacisankhara".
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
In the present context, the “whole body” can be taken literally to refer to the whole physical body.
It is not possible to experience the whole body. Regardless, experiencing the whole body is unrelated to Anapanasati. The term "whole body" is meaningless and illogical.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
Understood in this way, the instruction points to a broadening of awareness, a shift from the breath alone to its effect on the entire body.
Anālayo's translation of "whole body" has no logical or literal relationship to his explanation above. However, the Anālayo idea about the effect of the breathing on the entire body conforms exactly to my translation of "kayasankhara" as "body conditioner".

Anālayo began as a student of Ajahn Buddhadasa; before changing schools and following Bhikkhu Bodhi. However, it appears Anālayo possibly took the idea of "the effect of the breathing on the entire body" from Ajahn Buddhadasa yet conformed to the illogical standard translation of "whole body".
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
According to the commentaries, however, the “whole body” should be understood to refer, more figuratively, to the “body” of the breath.
The above Commentary is obviously wrong. Regardless, the commentary called Patisambhidamagga conforms with my explanation; that "sabbe kaya" refers to experiencing the "nama-kaya" and 'rupa-kaya" while knowing breathing in & out. This shows not all "commentaries" are the same.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
By understanding the “whole body” as the whole breath-body the instruction then indicates full awareness of the beginning, middle, and end stages of each breath.
The above appears to conflict with the view of Anālayo about "the effect of the breathing on the entire body" . Please, make up your mind.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
This interpretation can claim support from the same Ānāpānasati Sutta, since the Buddha here identified the breath as a “body” (kãya) among bodies.
No. It does not. The above is simply "kooky". "Awareness of the beginning, middle, and end stages of each breath" has no relationship whatsoever with the breath as a “body” (kãya) among bodies.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
An argument against this interpretation, however, could be that the cultivation of full awareness of the length of the breath was the task of the previous two steps, knowing a long or a short breath, which already required the meditator to be aware of each breath from beginning to end.
Yes. Indeed. Knowing the length of the breath is steps 1 and 2.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
One would therefore expect this next step in the progression to introduce a distinctly new feature for contemplation, such as, for example, a shift of awareness to include the whole physical body.
No. "Sabbe kaya" does not mean "whole physical body". It means "all bodies". "All bodies" means experiencing the effect of the nama-kaya (mind) on the breath-kaya and the effect of the breath-kaya on the rupa-kaya (physical body).
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
The next step of training is the calming of the “bodily formation” (kãyasaúkhãra). Elsewhere the discourses define the “bodily formation” as in-breathing and out-breathing.
Yes, as I said, the discourses define the “bodily conditioner” as in-breathing and out-breathing.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
This dovetails [joins together] with the second interpretation above, according to which “whole body” refers to the whole length of the breath.
No it does not refer to the "whole length of the breath". 1st Anālayo says it is the effect of the breath, then Anālayo says it is the whole body, then Anālayo says it is the start-middle-end of breath, now Anālayo says it is the whole length of the breath. Please. Make up your mind, Anālayo. :roll:
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
The Paṭisambhidāmagga
It seems Anālayo has deliberately overlooked what the Paṭisambhidāmagga says about step 3.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
and the Visuddhimagga indicate that this fourth step of mindfulness of breathing also refers to maintenance of a calm and stable posture, in the sense of calming any inclination to move.
The above is obviously irrelevant and wrong; given Anapanasati can be practised in all four postures, including walking meditation. Anālayo appears to be saying the Buddha's instructing of practising in all four postures is false.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
Thus the instruction to calm the bodily formations also implies an increase in general bodily calmness, an understanding that fits with the first interpretation mentioned above, taking “body” to refer to the anatomical body.
No. Anālayo already admitted the discourses define the “bodily formation [sankhara]” as in-breathing and out-breathing.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
In the end, both interpretations overlap, since a calming of the breath naturally leads to increased bodily tranquillity and vice versa.
The breathing is called the "kaya sankhara" or "body conditioner" because a calming of the breath naturally leads to increased bodily tranquillity. Anālayo was taught this by Ajahn Buddhadasa.

However, the "vice versa" is not necessarily true. Sitting still in meditation without a calm mind will not result in a calming of the breathing. Therefore, Anālayo appears wrong with his idea about "vice versa".
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
Such calming of breath and body
Calming the breath results in calming the body. "Calming" the body does not result in calming the breath" because the body cannot be directly calmed. The body only be calmed when the mind is calmed. The proper sequence is: (i) calming the mind > (ii) calming the breath > (iii) calming the body.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
can then either become the basis for developing awareness of the inner constitution of the body, as in the subsequent satipaṭṭhāna exercises, or else lead to an awareness of feelings and mental processes, as in the sixteen steps.
No. There is no such thing as "calming the body" without calming the mind & calming the breath.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
In both cases
"Both cases" do not exist, in reality.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
this constitutes a natural progression
No. The natural progression is:

1. Establishing mindfulness or a relatively calm mind, which means a mind without hindrances & unwholesome states.

2. Relatively calm mind results in calming breathing.

3. Calming breathing results in relaxation of physical body.
MartinB wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:04 am
in which the establishment of a basis in bodily calmness enables awareness to proceed to subtler aspects of contemplation.
No. MN 118 teaches the meditator "establishes mindfulness to the fore". It does not teach the meditator "establishes bodily calm". As I logically suggested, there cannot be a calm body without a calm mind. Sitting still with a still body but an erratic mind will result in a very stressed body.

Kind regards :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:13 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:00 am

greenjuice wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:43 am
Can i ask people to stop talking off-topic, and discuss what bodily formations are on some thread which is about that. Maybe i shouldnt have quoted that specific part, but
Thanks GJ but its not really off-topic. The instruction is not about "relaxing the eye-brows" (despite the fact that relaxing the eye-brows may be very helpful for meditation and establishing a calm mind). Regards :smile:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by Volo » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:08 am

greenjuice wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:27 pm
I've read various advice about using one word or a phrase while meditating, but in Anapanasati Sutta Buddha talks about using full sentences, eg "I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication". So, eg if one relaxes the body at the beginning of a meditation, and is in the process of relaxing the eyebrows, should one use a whole sentence "i am calming the eyebrows", or a phrase "calming the eyebrows", or just one word: "eyebrows"? Or maybe even just one general word "relax" for all body parts when relaxing them?
Sounds more like Schultz's Autogenic training than ānāpānasati practice.
Also when doing sampajanna eg while washing the dishes, there are additional options, one could use whole sentences for specific things like "i am washing a plate", "i am scrubbing a cup", etc, or a general sentence "i am washing the dishes", or just a phrase "washing the dishes", or just a word, "washing" or "dishes". Which option do you use / what would you recommend?
None. Just know you are washing the dishes or (imo better) focus on your primary object (i.e. breath).

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:09 am

Generally I would advise using single-word observations, keep it simple, and direct. So "sitting", "standing", "walking", etc.

I often use the sense bases as a structure for maintaining mindfulness off the cushion, it's one of the methods in the fourth frame of satipatthana (see MN10 below). So "sights", "sounds", "sensations", etc.

I also find the word "stillness" helpful.

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:24 am

Volo wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:08 am
greenjuice wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:27 pm
I've read various advice about using one word or a phrase while meditating, but in Anapanasati Sutta Buddha talks about using full sentences, eg "I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication". So, eg if one relaxes the body at the beginning of a meditation, and is in the process of relaxing the eyebrows, should one use a whole sentence "i am calming the eyebrows", or a phrase "calming the eyebrows", or just one word: "eyebrows"? Or maybe even just one general word "relax" for all body parts when relaxing them?
Sounds more like Schultz's Autogenic training than ānāpānasati practice.
Also when doing sampajanna eg while washing the dishes, there are additional options, one could use whole sentences for specific things like "i am washing a plate", "i am scrubbing a cup", etc, or a general sentence "i am washing the dishes", or just a phrase "washing the dishes", or just a word, "washing" or "dishes". Which option do you use / what would you recommend?
None. Just know you are washing the dishes or (imo better) focus on your primary object (i.e. breath).
The primary object when washing dishes isn't likely to be the breath though. It would be the sensation of warm water on your hands, or whatever.

To use the language of satipatthana, "He knows 'I am washing dishes'..." But how does he know? What aspects of that experience is he paying attention to, exactly?
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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by Laurens » Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:30 pm

greenjuice wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:43 am
Can i ask people to stop talking off-topic, and discuss what bodily formations are on some thread which is about that. Maybe i shouldnt have quoted that specific part, but

"Just as, bhikkhus, a skillful turner or a turner's apprentice, making a long turn, understands: 'I am making a long turn'; making a short turn, he understands: 'I am making a short turn'; in the same way, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, breathing in long, understands: 'I am breathing in long'; breathing out long he understands: 'I am breathing out long'..." or

"Furthermore, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu, while walking, understands: 'I am walking', or while standing he understands: 'I am standing', or while sitting he understands: 'I am sitting', or while lying down he understands: 'I am lying down'."

Anyway, the topic i asked about is - if one does relaxation of the body (going over parts like eyebrows etc) or if one is doing mindful dish-washing, how many words do you think one should use?
Personally I don't think this is instructing a person to literally think the words "I am walking" and so forth. Rather just to be present when walking to know that is what you are doing rather than being preoccupied by something else.

Some people might find noting beneficial, I don't, but it is a practice used by some. This tends to be a simple one word note so 'walking' rather than 'I am walking'. When washing dishes you could think 'washing'. The word isn't so important the knowing is.

I've done a fair bit of body relaxation and tension release during meditation, I find that something simple like 'let go' helps as it can apply to distracting thoughts, and tension in the body. You could use that. Or something like 'calming'. Really though the words aren't so important it's what you're doing that counts.
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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by greenjuice » Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:30 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:00 am
Thanks GJ but its not really off-topic. The instruction is not about "relaxing the eye-brows" (despite the fact that relaxing the eye-brows may be very helpful for meditation and establishing a calm mind). Regards :smile:
I did not ask what the instruction was. I asked, and i quote: "eg if one relaxes the body at the beginning of a meditation, and is in the process of relaxing the eyebrows, should one use a whole sentence "i am calming the eyebrows", or a phrase "calming the eyebrows", or just one word: "eyebrows"?" Note how my question starts - eg if one relaxes the body etc, including the eyebrows. I didn't ask is this body relaxation or eyebrow inclusion part of the 'instruction'. I asked if one does it how many words should one use. That's why the topic is called how many words.
Last edited by greenjuice on Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How many words in sati?

Post by greenjuice » Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:36 pm

Volo wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:08 am
Sounds more like Schultz's Autogenic training than ānāpānasati practice.
eg Thanissaro in his guided meditations speaks of relaxing the body (face, neck, shoulders, etc), and i do remember reading a guided meditation which includes specifically the forehead /eyebrows, although i can't remember who was the author. Looking at this autogenic training, don't know why do they use "my arm is heavy" and "my arm is warm" instead of "my arm is relaxed", will look into that..

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