What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:54 am

frank k wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:49 am
https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... n-16.html

excerpt: Translation (from pali) I've chosen the literal translation of near-the-mouth. In Theravada Pali Vinaya, pari-mukha is used in the context of facial hair or chest hair being in front of you.

But what does it actually mean? To have 'sati' established 'near the mouth', or 'in front of you'?

Three logical possibilities 1) spatial coordinates only (in front of you, near mouth, face, chest) 2) figurative only, not a literal interpretation of spatial coordinates, like "focusing on task at hand" 3) both one and two (it's possible the Buddha meant both, just like if you're using a cel phone, you're literally and figuratively focusing on the task in your hand)
I take it figuratively, an instruction to establish
mindfulness at the beginning of the practice.
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by sunnat » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:54 am

To Light a Fire
A Dhamma Discourse
by

The Venerable Webu Sayadaw (believed by many to have been an arahant) 1896-1977

translated from the Burmese by
Roger Bischoff
© 1994
WEBU SAYADAW: You have taken the moral precepts, now practice them. Only when your practice of morality (sila) is perfect can you fulfill your aspirations for awakening. Having perfected yourselves in morality, you have to perform various other meritorious practices, and these can take you to the pinnacle and the fulfillment of your aspirations.

The teachings of the Buddha are enshrined in the Tipitaka. These teachings were not given by the Buddha just to be preached and studied. You are good people; you have to practice the teachings with unwavering effort from the time you obtain them in order to escape from this suffering.

Do not get confused about the teachings. We don't have to know many techniques, only one; but that we should know clearly. If we establish one technique with strong effort and get rid of all doubts then, without asking anyone else, we shall find the answers.

Choose one technique and practice it steadfastly. If you focus your mind at the small spot where the air touches when you breathe in and out, then there will be no wanting, no aversion or delusion, and as these three are absent, you are immediately out of suffering.

So, for a short moment Your mind is pure. Now, if your last mind-moment came up at this time and you died, would there be anything to be worried about or to be afraid of?...
https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/webu/bl122.html

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by frank k » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:51 pm

https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... ttas.html

excerpt:
parimukha: 57 occurrences in the pali suttas
searching for "parimuk":

parimukhaṃ (57)
of the 57, about 18 are STED 16 APS 🌬️ 😤
of the 57, 15 of those are STED sit down & remove 5niv ⛅ :
(searching suttas with 'abhijjhaṃ loke pahāya vigatābhijjhena') follow the gradual samadhi training formula of DN 2 (sit down, remove 5niv, using 7sb enter 4j)

Most of the remaining 22 of 57 references are a slight variation of STED sit down & remove 5niv ⛅.

If you want to be sure of what a pali word means, you need to look at every reference in the suttas and make sure it's coherent and consistent throughout.
The conclusion of this study, is that pari-mukha can not mean the physical spatial location "around the mouth", as late Theravada interprets it.
In the sitting meditation context, pari-mukha is not about the spatial location "in front" at all. The spatial interpretation just happens to work for 16 APS (breath meditation). But it doesn't work for all of the other Buddhist meditations designated which are non-breath related.

conclusion: Pari-mukha is a figure of speech.
Similar to these English figures of speech:
1. Focus on the task at hand
2. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
3. Follow your nose
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by Volo » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:56 pm

frank k wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:51 pm
The conclusion of this study, is that pari-mukha can not mean the physical spatial location "around the mouth", as late Theravada interprets it.
There is an obvious example (of which you are aware of) in the Canon (Cv.V.27.4), where parimukham means actual place on the human body. It is said that the monks shouldn't cut the hair on the parimukham, which commentary explains to be the chest (although it's not explicitly stated in the Vinaya itself that the chest is what is meant), but still if we accept "in front" in this case meaning "chest" I see no reason, why "in front" cannot refer to the area around nostrils when it is used in describing ānāpānasati. But you make a biased "conclusion" that it "cannot mean the physical location...", etc.

Okay, one could say (as Ven Thanissaro did) that in some ceases parimukham had been used figuratively. May be also in the ānāpānasati instructions not a particular place on the body is meant. Or one even could say that there are some chances that it was referring to chest, etc. Although all these are speculations, still they might be considered. But to say it "cannot mean" is clearly biased, it's preaching not a study.

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by frank k » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:22 pm

Volo wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:56 pm
Okay, one could say (as Ven Thanissaro did) that in some ceases parimukham had been used figuratively. May be also in the ānāpānasati instructions not a particular place on the body is meant. Or one even could say that there are some chances that it was referring to chest, etc. Although all these are speculations, still they might be considered. But to say it "cannot mean" is clearly biased, it's preaching not a study.
Even looking at the pali references alone, 57 occurrences which I've detailed with pail+english, is enough to see that parimukha can't be spatial location focus near the mouth. About 18 of the 57 are breath meditation, but almost all the rest are general meditation and other meditation subjects, such as brahma vihara, or even vipassana meditation. Explain why you would need to focus attention at the physical mouth area to do either of those meditations?

Now when you also take into consideration the EBT of the chinese agamas (including breath meditation), where it NEVER means spatial location, always the figurative meaning of making sati establishment (or another topic) your main priority. In Mahayana buddhism (such as pure land practices which have nothing to do with facial/mouth perception), and in contemporaneous chinese non-buddhist literature, that same expression used for pari-mukha in chinese is not spatial, it means the figurative "main priority".

Also, see B. Sujato's comments on the prati-mukha (vs. parimukha) and sanskrit EBT.

http://lucid24.org/tped/p/parimukha/book/index.html


Taking all that into account, I have no doubt pari-mukha in sitting meditation is definitely not spatial face area focus.
Even the 57 pali sutta references alone is enough to establish that.
That's funny you would accuse me of a biased study.
If you look through the references in my study where I participated in forum discussions, you can see as early as 6 years ago, I was translating pari-mukha as (near the mouth), even though I felt in breath meditation both literal (spatial) and figurative meanings were intended.
It was after a friend kept complaining to me about my pari-mukha translation being wrong, that I did a detailed study, and came to a conclusion.
And this was after I queried the experts recently:
https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... in-16.html
Does that article sound like someone jumping to a biased conclusion?

All I care is about is truth and integrity. I translated it wrong for 6 years, and I admit it. I changed as soon as I was convinced I was wrong.
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by Volo » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:18 am

frank k wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:22 pm
About 18 of the 57 are breath meditation, but almost all the rest are general meditation and other meditation subjects, such as brahma vihara, or even vipassana meditation.
Among those, which are not about ānāpānasati, most describe abandoning hindrances/entering jhāna (usually by the Buddha), and we know ānāpānasati was his main object. Therefore you cannot use these cases as a prove.
Explain why you would need to focus attention at the physical mouth area to do either of those meditations?
Because I don't argue about figurative meaning, but it can also mean actual place on the body.
Now when you also take into consideration the EBT of the chinese agamas (including breath meditation), where it NEVER means spatial location,
I'm strictly against using Chinese Agamas to verify the meaning of obscure term. It's similar to using Ven Sujato's translations to verify the meaning of a term. Every translator has his way of translating certain words if the translation doesn't have any footnotes (as is the case for Agamas and bhikkhu Sujato's translations) we don't know, whether he was puzzled in this case, why he chose to translate it this way and rejected other possibilities, etc.
in contemporaneous chinese non-buddhist literature, that same expression used for pari-mukha in chinese is not spatial, it means the figurative "main priority".
:jumping:
Also, see B. Sujato's comments on the prati-mukha (vs. parimukha) and sanskrit EBT.
Few quotes from Ven Sujato:
Sujato wrote:Parimukha is indeed a somewhat obscure idiom, but I think it is mostly just a synonym for mindfulness.
Gabriel wrote:The vinaya in Pi Tv Kd 15 at least has parimukha in a very literal sense, as a body part where hair grows (why is it translated as chest?), that would speak against a purely idiomatic use?
One of the mysteries of life. Here it obviously means “around the mouth”.
What concerns Sanskrit, I cannot do a detailed study, but just searching in MW gives:
प्रतिमुख
(H3) प्रति--मुख [p= 662,3] [L=131720] n. the reflected image of the face Harav.
[L=131721] (in dram.) a secondary plot or incident which hastens or retards the catastrophe , the Epitasis (also °खसंधि) Das3ar. Prata1p. Sa1h. Sch.
[L=131722] an answer Sa1h.
(H3B) प्रति--मुख [L=131723] mf(आ or ई)n. standing before the face , facing R. BhP. Vajracch.
(H3B) प्रति--मुख [L=131724] mf(आ or ई)n. being near , present R.
(H3B) प्रति--मुख [L=131725] mf(आ or ई)n. (ibc. or अम् ind. ) towards , in front , before Gr2S. Mn. MBh.
(H3B) प्रति--मुखी [L=131726] (f.) w.r. for -मुखरी q.v. Sam2gi1t.
(H3C) प्रति--मुखम् [L=131726.1] ind. , »प्रतिमुख 131725, towards , in front , before Gr2S. Mn. MBh.
At least here no figurative meaning of "giving the highest priority" or "being mindful". So Sanskrit doesn't seem to help in excluding or accepting any of the possibilities.
That's funny you would accuse me of a biased study.
If you look through the references in my study where I participated in forum discussions, you can see as early as 6 years ago, I was translating pari-mukha as (near the mouth), even though I felt in breath meditation both literal (spatial) and figurative meanings were intended.
It was after a friend kept complaining to me about my pari-mukha translation being wrong, that I did a detailed study, and came to a conclusion.
And this was after I queried the experts recently:
https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... in-16.html
Does that article sound like someone jumping to a biased conclusion?
I wasn't here 6 years ago, and don't know, what you had written back then. I reply only to the current post. Non biased researcher would agree there is no possibility to make a final solid conclusion purely on the Nikayas and Vinaya (although he might of course have his personal preferences).
Last edited by Volo on Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

sentinel
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by sentinel » Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:13 am

in the agama it was translated as , the establishment (which is) in advance to it .


Pari mukha ,
Pari (sanskrit) around
Mukha (sanskrit) opening part / face
:coffee:

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by ToVincent » Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:58 pm

You're right.
- the chief , principal , best (ifc. = having any one or anything as chief ) ŚBr. MBh.

But, as I said earlier, it also means:
- Introduction, commencement , beginning ; also [ -mukhādi ] cf. the use of [ आदि ādi beginning , commencement. - a firstling]. Br. MBh.

Again: https://justpaste.it/4sil5

-------------
frank k wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:51 pm
If you want to be sure of what a pali word means, you need to look at every reference in the suttas and make sure it's coherent and consistent throughout.
That is one of the major mistake, when it comes to translation.
"Anicca" has for instance, several meanings depending on contexts. The same goes for "sati", etc.
It has to be coherent within the context; not "throughout" the different suttas.
.
.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... - In this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by Volo » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:13 pm

ToVincent wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:58 pm
You're right.
- the chief , principal , best (ifc. = having any one or anything as chief ) ŚBr. MBh.

But, as I said earlier, it also means:
- Introduction, commencement , beginning ; also [ -mukhādi ] cf. the use of [ आदि ādi beginning , commencement. - a firstling]. Br. MBh.

Again: https://justpaste.it/4sil5
From your link:
Sanskrit:
परि pari
- towards , to (RV. AV.)

मुख mukha
- introduction , commencement , beginning (Br. MBh.)
First, mukha in Sanskrit has an obvious meaning as "mouth", "face" + Some derivatives from this ("beak", "muzzle", "opening", etc). Second, the word, which is used in Sanskrit is pratimukha, and not parimukha.

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:52 pm

Volo wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:18 am
Non biased researcher would agree there is no possibility to make a final solid conclusion purely on the Nikayas and Vinaya (although he might of course have his personal preferences).
You might want to examine yourself to see who really has the bias. I would be perfectly content to just translate pari-mukha as "in-front" without qualifications in square brackets. It's only because late Theravada has popularized a narrow, biased, wrong interpretation of parimukha that a corrective comment is necessary to keep people from going astray in their meditation practice.

My translation of pari-mukha as "in-front [, making it the main priority]", it's clear that the square brackets are adding comments not explicitly stated in the raw translation.

16 APS breath meditation is exquisitely designed, general purpose and versatile enough to allow for the late Theravada interpretation (among many valid ways of practicing 16APS). The problem is late Theravada deliberately misconstrues some of the key terms, such as pari-mukha,sabba kāya, etc, to take what is very versatile meditation, into a narrow interpretation that excludes the other more mainstream breath meditation practices. If you trace the devolution of 16 APS from EBT pali and agama, to KN Ps, to Vimt., to Vism., the Vism. interpretation of 16 APS is a completely grotesque disfigured animal compared to the noble versatile creature in the original.
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:06 pm

A friend who was arguing that the literal (spatial) interpretation of parimukha in all contexts was a more natural ockham's razor approach to interpret parimukha, I don't agree. Here are some examples in English to show the figurative approach to interpret face/head/mouth is universal across time, cultures, languages.

face [mukha] the facts [Dharma].
con-front [mukha] the truth [Dharma].
tackle a problem head [mukha] on.
heads [mukha] up! {idiom for "be alert/sampajano!"}
In your face [mukha]! {you've just personally witnessed some dharma/truth you can't deny} example: In basketball, if someone slam dunks a basketball on your head, they might say that to taunt you.

Dhamma is what Sati remembers.
so establishing Sati is actually very close to the common English expressions:
face [mukha] the facts [Dharma].
con-front [mukha] the truth [Dharma].
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by Volo » Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:36 pm

frank k wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:52 pm
You might want to examine yourself to see who really has the bias. I would be perfectly content to just translate pari-mukha as "in-front" without qualifications in square brackets. It's only because late Theravada has popularized a narrow, biased, wrong interpretation of parimukha that a corrective comment is necessary to keep people from going astray in their meditation practice.

My translation of pari-mukha as "in-front [, making it the main priority]", it's clear that the square brackets are adding comments not explicitly stated in the raw translation.

16 APS breath meditation is exquisitely designed, general purpose and versatile enough to allow for the late Theravada interpretation (among many valid ways of practicing 16APS). The problem is late Theravada deliberately misconstrues some of the key terms, such as pari-mukha,sabba kāya, etc, to take what is very versatile meditation, into a narrow interpretation that excludes the other more mainstream breath meditation practices. If you trace the devolution of 16 APS from EBT pali and agama, to KN Ps, to Vimt., to Vism., the Vism. interpretation of 16 APS is a completely grotesque disfigured animal compared to the noble versatile creature in the original.
So, who is biased here? I just pointed out that your position (i.e. "this interpretation is definitely wrong") excluds the passage, where Buddha himself used parimukha referring to the place on the body. What do we get in return? - A blistering tirade of cursing the commentaries with all possible abuses. Anyway, I just wanted to point to the other readers, that they should be careful with this type of "studies".

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by ToVincent » Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:14 pm

Volo wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:13 pm

First, mukha in Sanskrit has an obvious meaning as "mouth", "face" + Some derivatives from this ("beak", "muzzle", "opening", etc). Second, the word, which is used in Sanskrit is pratimukha, and not parimukha.
I don't know about the "obviousness" of "face"; but I know for a fact that in the Monnier Williams dictionary, it has the meaning of "beginning, commencement, etc." A meaning that goes across Buddha's time in the Indian litterature - Brahmanas and Mahabharata).

As far as "pari" is concerned, it does exist in Sanskrit. And it has the same meaning than "prati"? - that is to say "towards".
No problem if you want to use prati, instead of pari !?!?

________


To frankk:

In SA 803 (/SN 54.1), and the following suttas that have a parallel for it, parimukha is translated on the suttacentral dictionary as 面前: in front of one's face.
繫念面前
繫念 xi niàn: to fix the mind, attention, or thought on.
面前 miànqián: in front of oneʼs face

But if one looks closer on www.buddhism-dict.net/
one sees that 前 means "the fore part"; but also "before" or "prior". While 面 means "face", but also "direction".
Therefore, 繫念面前 might as well mean "to turn (or fix) the mano towards the prior direction". That is to say towards the namarupa nidana, where anapana does genuinely originate, when it comes to the internal - instead of coming from the external ayatana, (when one has the wrong view of one external/internal blissful and continuous universal self, as in the Upanishadic and later Vedanta creed).

The same way as one should turn the mano towards the origin (yoniso manasikara).
Both being an intermediary step, before experiencing and understanding the all process (that is to say: "according to how things have come to be" - yathabutha).
.
.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... - In this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by Volo » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:20 pm

ToVincent wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:14 pm
I don't know about the "obviousness" of "face"; but I know for a fact that in the Monnier Williams dictionary, it has the meaning of "beginning, commencement, etc."
Then you are probably also familiar with the very first translation in MW dictionary:

मुख [p= 819,3] [L=164836] n. (m. g. अर्धर्चा*दि ; ifc. f(आ , or ई). cf. Pa1n2. iv , 1 , 54 , 58) the mouth , face , countenance RV (Rigveda). &c , &c

MW lists also many other similar or derived renderings. Therefore I called it "obvious".

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Re: What does pari-mukha mean in 16 APS anapana sati?

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:49 pm

ToVincent wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:14 pm

To frankk:

In SA 803 (/SN 54.1), and the following suttas that have a parallel for it, parimukha is translated on the suttacentral dictionary as 面前: in front of one's face.
繫念面前
繫念 xi niàn: to fix the mind, attention, or thought on.
面前 miànqián: in front of oneʼs face

But if one looks closer on www.buddhism-dict.net/
one sees that 前 means "the fore part"; but also "before" or "prior". While 面 means "face", but also "direction".
Therefore, 繫念面前 might as well mean "to turn (or fix) the mano towards the prior direction". That is to say towards the namarupa nidana, where anapana does genuinely originate, when it comes to the internal - instead of coming from the external ayatana, (when one has the wrong view of one external/internal blissful and continuous universal self, as in the Upanishadic and later Vedanta creed).

The same way as one should turn the mano towards the origin (yoniso manasikara).
Both being an intermediary step, before experiencing and understanding the all process (that is to say: "according to how things have come to be" - yathabutha).
.
.
As I was saying a few posts above, the phenomena of figurative idioms that are derived from concrete physical spatial location similes is universal, timeless, crosses languages and cultures.

面前 miànqián: in front of oneʼs face

Literally, that is referring to physical spatial location in Chinese, and that English translation of Chinese is accurate.
But the Chinese Agama experts say it only has a figurative meaning (and not spatial), not just in the Agama Chinese EBT, but in contemporaneous Ancient Chinese non-buddhist literature.

In the same way, from Pali pari-mukha to English we also translate "in front" is accurate. But to interpret it correctly, you have to look at enough contexts.
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