32 parts of body meditation

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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budo
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32 parts of body meditation

Post by budo » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am

Does anyone do this? It's 31 parts but the Vissuddhimagga adds brain making it 32.

If you do, what benefits have you derived from it?

I find it trains more of the discrimination factor for when you have too much sloth, it's a better exercise to take up. I find doing it in bed at night keeps me awake, whereas anapanasati will put me in a dream state.

Most sources seem to be vissuddhimagga based, I haven't really researched what the patisambhidamagga and other commentaries say about the practice, only that the Sarvastivadans used it first to weaken sensual desire before doing anapanasati.
12.1 The Abandoning of Sensual Desire

Herein, monastics, what is the cultivation of meditation which, when practised, developed, made much of, leads to the abandoning of sensual desire?

Here, monastics, a monastic who has gone to the wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty place, in regard to this very body – from the sole of the feet upwards, from the hair of the head down, bounded by the skin, as it is placed, as it is disposed, full of manifold impurities, reflects with right wisdom as it really is:

There are in this body:

Hairs of the head, body hairs, nails, teeth, filth, skin,
flesh, bones, sinews, nerves, kidneys,
heart, spleen, pleura, intestines, mesentery,
upper stomach, food, stomach, liver, excrement,
tears, sweat, spit, mucus, grease, synovial fluid,
marrow, fat, bile, phlegm, suppuration,
blood, skull, brain,

(thus on this body) full of manifold impurities he reflects with right wisdom as it really is.

Just as though, monks, there were a granary with open doors at both ends, full of various and manifold kinds of corn varieties: grain, sesame, mustard, mung beans, meal and beans, and a man with good vision looking round would understand: these are bearded grains, these are fruit-grain, even so, monastics, a monastic in regard to this very body – as it is placed, as it is disposed, reflects thus.

This is the cultivation of meditation which, when practised, developed, made much of, leads to the abandoning of sensual desire.
https://suttacentral.net/arv11/en/anandajoti

This one is quite different from the suttas and vissuddhimagga which use.

Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin
Flesh, sinews, bone, bone marrow, kidneys
Heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs
Bowels, mesentry/intestines, gorge, dung, (brain)
Bile, phelgm, pus, blood, sweat, fat
Tears, grease, spittle, snot, joint oil, urine

Some resources

- https://www.bps.lk/olib/mi/mi022.pdf
- https://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/body.html
- http://www.32parts.com/

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mikenz66
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:07 pm

budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
Most sources seem to be vissuddhimagga based, I haven't really researched what the patisambhidamagga and other commentaries say about the practice, only that the Sarvastivadans used it first to weaken sensual desire before doing anapanasati.
For that reason, it's an approach that I understand is commonly given to new monks. I've found it useful for that purpose, and you can actually build quite a lot of concentration with it, as it can be a kind of visualised mindfulness of the body.

I must admit, I haven't had the patience to go through all the parts. The recommendation of one of my monastic teachers was that the head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin were plenty to reduce sensual desire, and I've found that quite effective.

Bhikkhu Analayo has a satipatthana approach (and a PDF that explains his reasoning, based on comparisons of different versions of the sutta), which includes a body-scanning approach to body parts here: https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/439/talk/26718/

:heart:
Mike

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budo
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by budo » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:48 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:07 pm
budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
Most sources seem to be vissuddhimagga based, I haven't really researched what the patisambhidamagga and other commentaries say about the practice, only that the Sarvastivadans used it first to weaken sensual desire before doing anapanasati.
For that reason, it's an approach that I understand is commonly given to new monks. I've found it useful for that purpose, and you can actually build quite a lot of concentration with it, as it can be a kind of visualised mindfulness of the body.

I must admit, I haven't had the patience to go through all the parts. The recommendation of one of my monastic teachers was that the head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin were plenty to reduce sensual desire, and I've found that quite effective.

Bhikkhu Analayo has a satipatthana approach (and a PDF that explains his reasoning, based on comparisons of different versions of the sutta), which includes a body-scanning approach to body parts here: https://dharmaseed.org/teacher/439/talk/26718/

:heart:
Mike
Thanks for the resources Mike!

It took me about 3 days of on and off recalling to commit the full order of the 32 parts to memory. The PDF guide I linked to explains how to do it by recalling the parts in order and in reverse order several times.

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DooDoot
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by DooDoot » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:52 pm

budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
Does anyone do this? It's 31 parts but the Vissuddhimagga adds brain making it 32.
The "brainy matter in the skull" is the only body part meditation I do because it completely depersonalizes aggregates; particularly regarding external aggregates or external nama-rupa (mind-bodies). Since all mentality comes from the brain, it is an easy practise of anatta; particularly in relation to external forms. All that exists is organisms propelled by the electrodes & chemicals & neurons in the "brainy matter in the skull". Simply picture or visualise an external organism without a brain. It isn't rocket science to discern there is nothing but biological elements. No personalities or people.
budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
when you have too much sloth
I recommend jhana for overcoming sloth. In SN 48.10, the Buddha said to reach jhana by making "letting-go" the meditation object.
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.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

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Volo
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by Volo » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:38 am

budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
It's 31 parts but the Vissuddhimagga adds brain making it 32.
Brain is also mentioned occasionally in the suttas. Khp-3 has 32 parts. Also brain is mentioned in Snp 1.11
194. Bound together by bones and sinews,
plastered with skin and flesh,
covered by the epidermis,
the body is not seen as it really is — (2)

195. as filled with intestines,
filled with the stomach,
with the liver and bladder,
the heart, lungs, kidneys, and spleen; (3)

196. with snot and saliva,
with sweat and fat,
with blood and oil of the joints,
with bile and grease. (4)

197. Further, from its nine openings
impurity flows constantly:
muck from the eyes,
wax from the ears, (5)

198. snot from the nostrils;
and from the mouth one sometimes
vomits bile and vomits phlegm;
sweat and dirt flow from the body. (6)

199. Then its hollow head
is filled with the brain.

Led on by ignorance, the fool
conceives it as beautiful. (7)

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budo
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by budo » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:17 am

Volo wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:38 am
budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
It's 31 parts but the Vissuddhimagga adds brain making it 32.
Brain is also mentioned occasionally in the suttas. Khp-3 has 32 parts. Also brain is mentioned in Snp 1.11
194. Bound together by bones and sinews,
plastered with skin and flesh,
covered by the epidermis,
the body is not seen as it really is — (2)

195. as filled with intestines,
filled with the stomach,
with the liver and bladder,
the heart, lungs, kidneys, and spleen; (3)

196. with snot and saliva,
with sweat and fat,
with blood and oil of the joints,
with bile and grease. (4)

197. Further, from its nine openings
impurity flows constantly:
muck from the eyes,
wax from the ears, (5)

198. snot from the nostrils;
and from the mouth one sometimes
vomits bile and vomits phlegm;
sweat and dirt flow from the body. (6)

199. Then its hollow head
is filled with the brain.

Led on by ignorance, the fool
conceives it as beautiful. (7)
Interesting, I wonder if this is the original list as it seems more logically ordered

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Pseudobabble
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:23 am

budo wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:17 am
Volo wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:38 am
budo wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:48 am
It's 31 parts but the Vissuddhimagga adds brain making it 32.
Brain is also mentioned occasionally in the suttas. Khp-3 has 32 parts. Also brain is mentioned in Snp 1.11
194. Bound together by bones and sinews,
plastered with skin and flesh,
covered by the epidermis,
the body is not seen as it really is — (2)

195. as filled with intestines,
filled with the stomach,
with the liver and bladder,
the heart, lungs, kidneys, and spleen; (3)

196. with snot and saliva,
with sweat and fat,
with blood and oil of the joints,
with bile and grease. (4)

197. Further, from its nine openings
impurity flows constantly:
muck from the eyes,
wax from the ears, (5)

198. snot from the nostrils;
and from the mouth one sometimes
vomits bile and vomits phlegm;
sweat and dirt flow from the body. (6)

199. Then its hollow head
is filled with the brain.

Led on by ignorance, the fool
conceives it as beautiful. (7)
Interesting, I wonder if this is the original list as it seems more logically ordered
Or perhaps a later interpolation.
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"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


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frank k
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by frank k » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:57 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:23 am

Or perhaps a later interpolation.
Not perhaps, it's a late addition.
I consider it disrespectful to the Buddha to refer to the practice as 32 body parts.
The number 32 also is reminiscent of 32 marks of a great man, another late addition that really doesn't belong in the EBT.
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dharmacorps
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Re: 32 parts of body meditation

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:01 pm

I've been trying to incorporate this practice into my repertoire. The advice I have gotten is to use the first 5 parts and focus on them in depth. I have found doing all 32 parts sometimes because almost like an anatomical body scan.

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