SarathW said, I hope Lal may have a translation for this.
- Anapana Sati was practiced even before the Buddhas time
- Anapana Sati taught by Buddha consist of four Satipathanas
Here is evidence from the Tipitaka supporting those statements:
1. According to the Ānāpānassati Sutta (MN 118): "..Ānāpānassati, bhikkhave, bhāvitā bahulīkatā cattāro satipaṭṭhāne paripūreti. Cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvitā bahulīkatā satta bojjhaṅge paripūrenti. Satta bojjhaṅgā bhāvitā bahulīkatā vijjāvimuttiṃ paripūrenti."
Translated, "..Ānāpānassati, when used (bhāvitā) and used frequently (bahulīkatā), cultivates four types of Satipattāna. Cattāro satipaṭṭhāna, when used and used frequently cultivates Sapta Bojjanga. Sapta Bojjanga when used and used frequently leads to the full release (Nibbana or Arahanthood)".
Exactly the same statement was made in the Ananda Sutta (SN 54.13). In fact, most of the suttas in Ānāpāna Saṃyutta (SN 54) has that or the following phrase, "..“Ānāpānassati, bhikkhave, bhāvitā bahulīkatā mahapphalā hoti mahānisaṃsā". Here, "mahappalā" means the four Noble phala: Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, Arahant.
Therefore, it is quite clear that Ānāpānassati, by itself, can lead to all the way to the Arahanthood.
2. The question is, "Can breath meditation, by itself
, lead to Arahanthood? I think this is the first question that needs to contemplated by those who believe that Ānāpānassati means breath meditation.
Nibbana is "ragakkhayo Nibbanam, dosakkhayo Nibbanam, mohakkhayo Nibbanam". If Ānāpānassati means breath meditation, how could keeping the mind on one's breath by itself
REMOVE raga, dosa, moha from one's mind?
3. The conventional (and erroneous teaching by most Thervadins to day) is that one needs to get to samadhi with Ānāpānassati and then one needs to do Vipassana or insight mediation to attain magga phala.
However, from the above suttas it is quite clear that Ānāpānassati by itself can
lead to even the Arahanthood! Therefore,Ānāpānassati is much deeper than keeping one's mind on the breath.
Of course this erroneous interpretation is not of recent origin. It can be traced back to Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga, see, https://puredhamma.net/historical-background/buddhaghosas-visuddhimagga-a-focused-analysis
4. This incorrect version of Ānāpānassati was there even before the Buddha. In the Arittha Sutta (SN 54.06), the Buddha, upon finding out that Bhikkhu Arittha was practicing the incorrect breath meditation as Ānāpānassati told him, "..Atthesā, ariṭṭha, ānāpānassati, nesā natthī’ti vadāmi. Api ca, ariṭṭha, yathā ānāpānassati vitthārena paripuṇṇā hoti taṃ suṇāhi, sādhukaṃ manasi karohi; bhāsissāmī”ti.
Translated, "..There is that ānāpānassati, Arittha. I don't say that there isn't. But I will describe the real (yathā) ānāpānassati, listen and pay close attention. I will speak."
Furthermore, that incorrect version of breath meditation was used by yogis at that time even to attain higher jhana. However, those anariya jhana are attained by just SUPPRESSING defilements (raga, dosa, moha), and will not lead to ANY magga phala. Those who cultivate such anariya jhana will also have next birth in Brahma realms, but after that they can be reborn even in the apayas.
SarathW said, -He gives a new interpretation to:
"Herein, monks, a monk who has gone to the forest, or to the foot of a tree, or to an empty place, sits down cross-legged, holding his back erect, arousing mindfulness in front of him."
Forest: Does not mean physically moving to a forest.
You are quoting an incorrect translation of the sutta. The correct translation of the verse, “Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu aranna gato vä rukkhamüla gato vä sunnägära gato vä nisidati pallankaṃ äbhujitvä, ujuṃ käyaṃ paṇidhäya, parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvä”, is discussed in detail in, "https://puredhamma.net/sutta-interpretations/maha-satipatthana-sutta/prerequisites-for-the-satipatthana-bhavana/
To quote from the above post on the translation of "rukkhamula":
“rukkha” is “tree” and “mūla” is the “root”; even though the top of a tree sways back and forth with the wind, the tree trunk close to the root is very stable. Thus “rukkhamūla gatō vā” means getting to a stable mindset. In the conventional interpretation is says, “having gone to the foot of a tree”.
As mentioned in that post, both interpretations can be used, i.e., those days it was not uncommon to "go a foot of a tree" and meditate. But the deeper meaning is more important. The other terms have deeper meanings too as discussed there.