Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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zavk
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by zavk » Mon May 25, 2009 11:01 pm

Yes, thank you too.
With metta,
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by MMK23 » Tue May 26, 2009 9:11 am

Jechbi wrote:Howdy MMK,
Greetings Jechbi!
MMK, are you saying that a bodily application of "internally" and "externally" as described in the Maha-satipatthana Sutta is a modern conception? I've seen differences in how "internally" and "externally" are understood in connection with this sutta, but I don't recall seeing anyone say that an application focused on one's own body is a modern development.
Jechbi, I guess the overall thrust of my point is that the over-cultural trends are in effect a living hermeneutic. By necessity, the modern development of an emphasis on scientism and rationalism (and humanism) is something that resonates throughout most modern attempts at study and interpretation of the dhamma. I have little doubt that this modernist hermeneutic has profoundly influenced interpretation and understanding of the satipatthana suttas, indeed, given their centrality to the modernist vipassana movements it would be nigh on impossible for that lens to have been kept on the shelf. I think in this regard the relevant hermeneutical aspect is the emphasis on experientialism (and the oft-cited kalama sutta) so the interpretation becomes very self-centred, very rationally located within the physical bounds of the local human body.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by Jechbi » Tue May 26, 2009 10:08 am

At least until we stop breathing. ;)
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by zavk » Wed May 27, 2009 12:54 am

MMK23 wrote:Jechbi, I guess the overall thrust of my point is that the over-cultural trends are in effect a living hermeneutic. By necessity, the modern development of an emphasis on scientism and rationalism (and humanism) is something that resonates throughout most modern attempts at study and interpretation of the dhamma. I have little doubt that this modernist hermeneutic has profoundly influenced interpretation and understanding of the satipatthana suttas, indeed, given their centrality to the modernist vipassana movements it would be nigh on impossible for that lens to have been kept on the shelf. I think in this regard the relevant hermeneutical aspect is the emphasis on experientialism (and the oft-cited kalama sutta) so the interpretation becomes very self-centred, very rationally located within the physical bounds of the local human body.
I would second this. But I do this not to suggest that modern interpretations of satipatthana (and by extension the Dhamma) are 'corrupted' or 'wrong' as such. This is merely to recognise the conditionality of our modern understanding. Our understanding of the dhamma is historically and culturally specific. As MMK23 puts it, we cannot put aside the lenses that help us see the dhamma. But even if those lenses allow us to see the Dhamma in powerful ways, we shouldn't forget that we are wearing those lenses, without which we wouldn't have been able to see the dhamma in the first place.

I am not about to give up my practice as such, for it is the 'lens' through which the Dhamma is made intelligible to me. If I discard those lenses, how am I to see the Dhamma? But what I want to always keep in mind is that I am wearing those lenses, and that they are the products of our time and culture. I want to be careful to avoid 'transcendentalizing' those lenses. For any such attempts to transcendentalize our understanding of the Dhamma would miss the fundamental tenets of conditionality and not-self.
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by Jechbi » Wed May 27, 2009 1:08 am

Thanks, zavk. I like that.
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:10 am

Greetings,
zavk wrote:I am, however, curious about the part that says 'internally/externally'. These two terms are not further elaborated in the Satipatthana Sutta. But to sum up Ven. Analayo's arguments very briefly, he examines two ways of interpreting 'internally/externally'.

The first way of interpreting follows the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, which interprets 'internally/externally' to encompass phenomenon arising in oneself and others. So, when one contemplates body/feelings/mind/dhammas, one contemplates them in oneself and in others. We of course cannot read the minds of others. But reading the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, Ven. Analayo suggests that we can direct mindfulness towards the outer manifestations of others (facial expressions, posture, movements, etc) so as to practice satipatthana 'externally'.

The second way of interpretating is suggested by some contemporary teachers who interpret 'internally/externally' to refer to what is inside of the body and what is on the outside of the body--i.e. the surface of the skin. I won't reproduce Ven. Analayo's arguments in detail here. But he more or less argues that while such interpretations are not entirely unfounded and have their practical benefits, they have their limits (e.g. it becomes hard to maintain such a distinction when one begins to contemplate the dhammas).
I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?

Any thoughts?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by Freawaru » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:39 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
zavk wrote:I am, however, curious about the part that says 'internally/externally'. These two terms are not further elaborated in the Satipatthana Sutta. But to sum up Ven. Analayo's arguments very briefly, he examines two ways of interpreting 'internally/externally'.

The first way of interpreting follows the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, which interprets 'internally/externally' to encompass phenomenon arising in oneself and others. So, when one contemplates body/feelings/mind/dhammas, one contemplates them in oneself and in others. We of course cannot read the minds of others. But reading the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, Ven. Analayo suggests that we can direct mindfulness towards the outer manifestations of others (facial expressions, posture, movements, etc) so as to practice satipatthana 'externally'.

The second way of interpretating is suggested by some contemporary teachers who interpret 'internally/externally' to refer to what is inside of the body and what is on the outside of the body--i.e. the surface of the skin. I won't reproduce Ven. Analayo's arguments in detail here. But he more or less argues that while such interpretations are not entirely unfounded and have their practical benefits, they have their limits (e.g. it becomes hard to maintain such a distinction when one begins to contemplate the dhammas).
I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?

Any thoughts?

Metta,
Retro. :)
Hi Retro,

Good idea! :thumbsup:

To me this looks like the most promising theory so far. While being aware of other people is certainly important I don't think one can contemplate their "feelings" - at least not without some telepathy. And as far as I know not even all arahats have this iddhi. The second option has it's limits, too. But as you probably refer to during contemplation there are two perspectives that can even arise simultaneously: As if the object of observation is inside oneself and as if outside (the impression is a bit as if it belongs to someone else).

This is not so surprising actually. In dream our whole scenery is based on our own mind - one can shift perspective from the one who is hunted to the one who hunts for example as both are generated by the same mind. Our general perspective of inside us versus outside us (or ourselves in contrast to other person or physical objects) is mind generated and flexible and can even be dysfunctional (like when people get the feeling it is not themselves who control their body).

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by rowyourboat » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:19 pm

I think the suttas are quite clear without us having to generate our own theories which can muddy the waters a bit:

§ 32. Internal & External. There is the case where a monk remains
focused internally on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, &
mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
As he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, he
becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly
concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge &
vision externally of the bodies of others.
He remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on feelings
in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and
rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives
rise to knowledge & vision externally of the feelings of others.
He remains focused internally on the mind in & of itself — ardent,
alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to
the world. As he remains focused internally on the mind in & of
itself, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear.
Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to
knowledge & vision externally of the minds of others.
He remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on mental
qualities in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there,
and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he
gives rise to knowledge & vision externally of the mental qualities
of others.
— DN 18

Knowing mental qualities of others is not through telepathy- it is part of one of the insight knowledges: sammasana nana- where one realized that ALL phenomena, past present future, near, far, gross, subtle are subject to the same laws of the three characteristics -by inference (even though he has not experienced all phenomena). Otherwise he would not cling to phenomena he has experienced and still cling to others he has not experienced- thereby making nibbana impossible.

with metta
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by Freawaru » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:58 pm

Hi RYB,
rowyourboat wrote:I think the suttas are quite clear
I happen to disagree. :toast:
he gives rise to knowledge & vision externally of the minds of others.
"Externally of the mind of others???" What does this mean?

without us having to generate our own theories which can muddy the waters a bit:

§ 32. Internal & External. There is the case where a monk remains
focused internally on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, &
mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
As he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, he
becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly
concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge &
vision externally of the bodies of others.
He remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on feelings
in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and
rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives
rise to knowledge & vision externally of the feelings of others.
He remains focused internally on the mind in & of itself — ardent,
alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to
the world. As he remains focused internally on the mind in & of
itself, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear.
Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to
knowledge & vision externally of the minds of others.
He remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on mental
qualities in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there,
and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he
gives rise to knowledge & vision externally of the mental qualities
of others.
— DN 18

Knowing mental qualities of others is not through telepathy- it is part of one of the insight knowledges: sammasana nana- where one realized that ALL phenomena, past present future, near, far, gross, subtle are subject to the same laws of the three characteristics -by inference (even though he has not experienced all phenomena).
If he knows this inside another person - the moral issues are severe. I mean, we don't have laws against invading the personal sphere of other persons in this way but if what you suggest is true maybe we should.


Also, it seems to me as if the translation can lead one to think in one direction or in another. Some translations use "internally and externally" and others "in regard to himself - in regard to another" like here http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... assana.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:50 pm

Greetings,
Freawaru wrote:Also, it seems to me as if the translation can lead one to think in one direction or in another. Some translations use "internally and externally" and others "in regard to himself - in regard to another" like here http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... assana.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
This is a good point - does anyone know what the Pali words are that are being translated here as 'internally' and 'externally'?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by rowyourboat » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:11 pm

Internally (ajjatta) he is knowing and seeing it within himself. Externally (bahidda), according to the sutta is about seeing the same things in another. Let's look at this rationally: we can't know the minds of others- if that were the case every arahanth would require very special powers and we know this is not the case (based on suttas). The only way we can know of others is by being mindful of their verbal and non- verbal communication, and understanding that their experience of their bodies and minds are the same as ours.

The point of satipatthana practice is to comprehensively let go (of the four foundations, ie everything) at the deepest level. This level of understanding of others experience is enough to do that.

It's possible to make this a problem but there is no other reasonable way to understand it.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by Freawaru » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:06 pm

Hi RYB,
rowyourboat wrote:Internally (ajjatta) he is knowing and seeing it within himself. Externally (bahidda), according to the sutta is about seeing the same things in another. Let's look at this rationally: we can't know the minds of others- if that were the case every arahanth would require very special powers and we know this is not the case (based on suttas). The only way we can know of others is by being mindful of their verbal and non- verbal communication, and understanding that their experience of their bodies and minds are the same as ours.
I know this is the standard interpretation but frankly I doubt that one CAN know the mind processes of other persons in the same way as one's own (without telepathy that is). But the phrases for "externally" in the satipatthana are identical to the ones for "internally" and I interpret this as being able to know in very the same way, to contemplate in the very same way, meaning one can directly know feeling and so on.
It's possible to make this a problem but there is no other reasonable way to understand it.
I still think Retro's way is quite reasonable. It agrees with experience, is scientifically plausible and interprets the sutta in context of meditation.

What speaks against it from your point of view?

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:53 pm

retrofuturist wrote:

I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?
And how would we know the objective existence of "x" outside of one's experience of "x"?

To quote something I have quoted here before:
Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Taking Occam's razor, the the traditional gloss of "internal" and "external" - which find more support from the suttas, giving us a less convoluted way having to read the texts - is the more meaningful way of reading and practicing the satipatthana. In this I agree strongly with Ven Analayo in his SATIPATTHANA: The Direct Path to Realization., page 94 ff.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:21 pm

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?
And how would we know the objective existence of "x" outside of one's experience of "x"?
Excellent point - it could only be conceptual (i.e. in one's experience only as mind consciousness), but by being part of mind-consciousness it would be little different to the majority of satipatthana contemplations. Maybe seeing the rising and passing away of our conceptual ideas about these things might have some value. Knowing how unarisen conceptualisations come be etc.

I'm certainly not saying what I put forward is indeed the correct and intended understanding of the sutta, but I'd never heard this particular distinction mentioned before, and when reading through Buddharakkhita's translation of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, it's just something that crossed my mind, as a concept, as mind consciousness, which arose and passed away.

:tongue:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Satipatthana | "Internally and Externally"

Post by mettafuture » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:35 pm

What do you think the lines "internally and externally" in the Satipatthana Sutta are referring to?

I think they're referring to ways to contemplate objects within (or during) and outside of (during daily life) meditation practice.

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