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Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:41 pm
by Strive4Karuna
In the suttas, when the Buddha gets ready for sitting meditation, he crosses his legs, erects the body, and establishes the mindfulness in front. Does this simply mean, having mindfulness established. Can somebody please explain the “in front” part。

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:44 pm
by ryanM
i believe the pali word is "parimukkham" meaning in front of the mouth/stomach. at least those are the interpretations I've heard.

:anjali:

Ryan

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:25 pm
by Sekha
Detailed article with a hint of where the confusion about this word may come from

http://www.buddha-vacana.org/voc/parimukham.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:30 pm
by daverupa
Have a look at the linked comment, and the related .pdf:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 02#p326836
If this is correct, then parimukhaṁ would mean “completely in front”. Also, I would translate upaṭṭhapetvā literally, thus rendering parimukhaṁ satiṁ upaṭṭhapetvā as “having established mindfulness at the forefront”, i.e., as top priority.
It's nothing to do with the mouth or the nose.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:35 pm
by Sekha
daverupa wrote: It's nothing to do with the mouth or the nose.
Well then what do you make of this quote from the Cūḷavagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka?
'Na, bhikkhave, massu parimukhaṃ kārāpetabbaṃ'
the beard is not to be done [=cut/trimmed] parimukhaṃ
(ie. wearing a moustache is not allowed)
massu (śmaśru) is well known in Sanskrit to mean the beard. The interpretation given by the commentary as ure - the chest - seems wrong to me. Commentators may have interpreted the texts to justify their own practices.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:55 pm
by santa100
From Vism VIII.161:
Established mindfulness in front of him (parimukhaí satií upaþþhapetvá) = having placed (þhapayitvá) mindfulness (satií) facing the meditation subject (kammaþþhánábhimukhaí). Or alternatively, the meaning can be treated here too according to the method of explanation given in the Paþisambhidá, which is this: Pari has the sense of control (pariggaha), mukhaí (lit. mouth) has the sense of outlet (niyyána), sati has the sense of establishment (upaþþhána); that is why parimukhaí satií (‘mindfulness as a controlled outlet’) is said” (Paþis I 176). The meaning of it in brief is: Having made mindfulness the outlet (from opposition, forgetfulness being thereby] controlled.4
Also Ven. Analayo's note from his "Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization":
Therefore, although to understand ―in front‖ to indicate the nostril area makes sense in relation to mindfulness of breathing, alternative ways of practice, based on a more figurative understanding of the term, cannot be categorically excluded. In fact, several modern teachers have developed successful approaches to mindfulness of breathing independent of the nostril area. Some, for example, advise their pupils to experience the breath in the chest area, others suggest observing the air element at the abdomen, while still others recommend directing awareness to the act of breathing itself, without focusing on any specific location.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:06 pm
by daverupa
Sekha wrote:
daverupa wrote: It's nothing to do with the mouth or the nose.
Well then what do you make of this quote from the Cūḷavagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka?
Not much; what do you make of the linked paper?

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:18 pm
by Sekha
daverupa wrote:
Sekha wrote: Well then what do you make of this quote from the Cūḷavagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka?
Not much; what do you make of the linked paper?
Your link falls back onto my quote.
Bhante Kumara refers to Thanissaro bhikkhu, who writes:
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.
I am not sure what exactly motivates this conclusion from TB. As I said earlier, the Commentary to this sentence says it means ure - the chest, so it may be all there is to TB's interpretation. However, as I said earlier, it seems that the Pali word massu is derived from the Sanskrit śmaśru meaning the beard, as per the PTS Dictionary.
See also Dmytro's converging conclusion

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:24 pm
by daverupa
Dmytro thinks Early Buddhism is a kind of inappropriate reductionism, and he claims that Analayo's reading (and, thus, Kumara's) is without justification. So it's simply a matter of disagreement for all of us on this matter, I think.

I think a play on words came to be reified by a later tradition that lost sight of the gentle emphatic point about mindfulness being front-&-center, and instead took it as a literal method.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:17 pm
by Sekha
daverupa wrote:I think a play on words came to be reified by a later tradition that lost sight of the gentle emphatic point about mindfulness being front-&-center, and instead took it as a literal method.
Whether the meaning is to be taken literally or not is not very easy to determine. But my point is that one simply cannot state about parimukham that "It's nothing to do with the mouth or the nose." Strong evidence suggests otherwise.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:44 pm
by Alex123
Strive4Karuna wrote:In the suttas, when the Buddha gets ready for sitting meditation, he crosses his legs, erects the body, and establishes the mindfulness in front. Does this simply mean, having mindfulness established. Can somebody please explain the “in front” part。
I wonder if it could mean that one looks on the ground couple feet away like they do in zazen? This idea just jumped into my mind when I've read this q.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 6:48 am
by Kumara
Sekha wrote:
daverupa wrote: It's nothing to do with the mouth or the nose.
Well then what do you make of this quote from the Cūḷavagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka?
'Na, bhikkhave, massu parimukhaṃ kārāpetabbaṃ'
the beard is not to be done [=cut/trimmed] parimukhaṃ
(ie. wearing a moustache is not allowed)
massu (śmaśru) is well known in Sanskrit to mean the beard. The interpretation given by the commentary as ure - the chest - seems wrong to me. Commentators may have interpreted the texts to justify their own practices.
Thanks for that, Sekha. I think your objection is fair. Although we can't say for sure, considering the use of peyyala/repetition, it's possible that "massu" (It should be "massuṁ" actually.) should be applied as in the sentence you formed above. In case others are wondering, what we have is this:
  • “na, bhikkhave, massuṁ kappāpetabbaṁ ... pe ... na massuṁ vaḍḍhāpetabbaṁ... na golomikaṁ kārāpetabbaṁ... na caturassakaṁ kārāpetabbaṁ... na parimukhaṁ kārāpetabbaṁ...(DPR has "massuṁ" as just "massu", which is grammatically wrong. I found a text which has it right: http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gre ... n2cuou.htm)
So, if I were to ignore the commentary (which I'm usually happy to), I'd translate the sentence idiomatically as
  • Monks, the beard is not to be made prominent.
What do you think?

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:13 am
by SarathW
daverupa wrote:Have a look at the linked comment, and the related .pdf:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 02#p326836
If this is correct, then parimukhaṁ would mean “completely in front”. Also, I would translate upaṭṭhapetvā literally, thus rendering parimukhaṁ satiṁ upaṭṭhapetvā as “having established mindfulness at the forefront”, i.e., as top priority.
It's nothing to do with the mouth or the nose.
I tend to agree with David.
To me Parimukham means, stay in the present moment.
What is in the present moment. That is basically the mindfulness.
- Keep your attention on the meditation object
- Your breath
- what ever you see, hear, feel or touch in front of you.

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 3:24 am
by Kumara
Kumara wrote:Although we can't say for sure, considering the use of peyyala/repetition, it's possible that "massu" (It should be "massuṁ" actually.) should be applied as in the sentence you formed above.
On second thoughts, the peyyala elision shouldn't matter. We can assume "na parimukhaṁ kārāpetabbaṁ" as a complete sentence in Pali, and translate it as "[It] is not to be made prominent." (parimukhaṁ = prominent)

The commentary somehow seems to regard "parimukhaṁ" as the subject (i.e. chest hair), which it does seem odd in the context, and even in itself. So, I do agree that "massuṁ" (beard), in the context, should be the subject there.

So, I still consider, as daverupa wrote above, parimukhaṁ has "nothing to do with the mouth or the nose."

Re: Establishing Mindfulness in Front?

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:43 am
by Kumara
I've reworked my writing on the parimukhaṁ debate (Vinaya extension): viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5636&p=488612#p488612