Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

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

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:Here are two msgs I posted elsewhere on this topic:
Note 143, page1190 of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Satipatthana Sutta in his MIDDLE LENGTH DISCOURSES OF THE BUDDHA: MA: “Internally”: contemplating the breathing in his own body. “Externally”: contemplating the breathing occurring in the body of another. “Internally and externally”: contemplating the breathing in his own body and in the body of another, with uninterrupted attention. A similar explanation applies to the refrain that follows each of the other sections, except that under the contemplation of feeling, mind and mind-objects, the contemplations externally, apart from those possessing telepathic powers, must be inferential.

Contemplation of the 31 bits of the body must, for the most part, be inferential. The cemetery contemplations are certainly directed, initially, externally, then inferred internally.

As matter of understanding where I am coming from, I see the basis, the bed-rock, practice of the Satipatthana Sutta as being “bare attention,” 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized[ [Udana 10, Instructions to Bahiya]. This serves as a foundation for how everything else unfolds in the Satipatthana Sutta.

In the late 70’s while at a three month retreat at IMS (Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA), halfway through my time there the meditation hall was very quite, even though there were about 100 people sitting there. Very focused. I became aware of the faint sound of the breathing of the person sitting next to me, and I took that as my object of attention rather than my own breath. Of course it was simply the rise and fall of sound, but it was also the breathing of another, it was the mindfulness of breathing of another person. I am not going to talk about the content of my practice or the experiences resulting from my practice, but suffice it to say that even if the commentary’s take on the internal/external business is wrong, it is, from my experience, a potent form of practice that gives rise to both insight and compassion.
For some reason we Theravadin practicioners relish overly complex explanations of relatively simple concepts.

Sometimes things aren’t simple. I do think that the commentary’s gloss of bahiddhaa, “external”, literally, outside, as referring to another’s “body” is reasonable, if not correct. When looking at the various passages throughout the suttas that contain ajjhata, internal/inside, and bahiddhaa that gloss certainly seems to be supported.

If we follow the instructions in the Satipatthana Sutta, in some instances, such as the parts of the body contemplation and the cemetery contemplation and the other body contemplations – postures, breathing, the material elements, the commentaries stance clearly makes sense. Where the difficulty lies is with the obviously interior experiences such as the vedanas, the feelings, and the factors of awakening, and such that are not directly observable, unless one has developed psychic powers, iddhi.

One the other hand with the parts of body contemplations, most of the items listed are not directly observable, so there is a discursive and imaginative element to the practice. The cemetery practice can only be meaningfully applied to oneself via the use of imagination/discursiveness, and so it would be concerning the things such as feelings or factors of awakening in terms of others.

We can certainly mindfully attend to our own feelings as they arise and fall, as we experience them, one might be able to observe a facial expression or hear a statement of what the feeling may be, but as a meditative practice one also may “imaginatively/discursively” explore the feelings of others, just as we might do a parts of the body contemplation with another individual as the object.

It seems to me that the commentary’s explanation makes more sense in the long run than does any of the other explanations offered here. Also, though it is not talked about in this way in the suttas or commentaries of which I am aware, this strikes me as a compassion, anu-kampaa, practice, which is exemplified by this passage:

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
Sn 705
>> 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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legolas
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by legolas » Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:11 am

Ben wrote:I'd really appreciate Ajahn's comments with regards to this section.
My own undestanding is that it relates to the observation of vedanas on the inside of the body and then on the exterior, surface, of the body. As for observing the satipatthanas in others, I'm a little perplexed why the Buddha would give a meditation object that one could not perceive within the framework of one's own nama/rupa complex.
Kind regards

Ben
It is only perplexing if you take that external feelings refer to your own body. The Buddha has designated what external body is, see my previous links. The word external is a beautiful example of how even a clearly obvious meaning can be "played" with to mean something else. If you contemplate the evidence of other peoples feelings by inference, observation and recollection, is that not a perception that occurs within the framework of one's own nama/rupa complex.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:25 am

legolas wrote:If you contemplate the evidence of other peoples feelings by inference, observation and recollection, is that not a perception that occurs within the framework of one's own nama/rupa complex.
And is the perception of the internal gut in the parts of of the body contemplation a direct perception? I have not seen anything that convincingly over-rides the traditional point of view as what internal and external mean.
>> 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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legolas
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by legolas » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:
legolas wrote:If you contemplate the evidence of other peoples feelings by inference, observation and recollection, is that not a perception that occurs within the framework of one's own nama/rupa complex.
And is the perception of the internal gut in the parts of of the body contemplation a direct perception? I have not seen anything that convincingly over-rides the traditional point of view as what internal and external mean.
I don't know what you mean by "direct perception" it certainly is a perception. Are there two types of perception? What you observe, analyse, recollect you will surely have a perception of. As far as tradition goes my previous link seems to cover what is internal and what is external body in the tradition of what the buddha actually taught.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:15 am

legolas wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
legolas wrote:If you contemplate the evidence of other peoples feelings by inference, observation and recollection, is that not a perception that occurs within the framework of one's own nama/rupa complex.
And is the perception of the internal gut in the parts of of the body contemplation a direct perception? I have not seen anything that convincingly over-rides the traditional point of view as what internal and external mean.
I don't know what you mean by "direct perception" it certainly is a perception. Are there two types of perception? What you observe, analyse, recollect you will surely have a perception of. As far as tradition goes my previous link seems to cover what is internal and what is external body in the tradition of what the buddha actually taught.
Geez, you used direct perception first. What do you mean by it?

Also, I would, if I were you, look at Ven Analayo's extended discussion of this issue in his SATIPATTANA: The Direct Path to Realization, pages 94-102.
>> 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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legolas
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by legolas » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:38 am

I am sorry I must have misunderstood, you used the phrase "direct perception" as if it was something different from perception.
I don't really understand your example of the "gut" in relation to internal & external. How does recollection of the gut back up "traditionalist views" on internal & external.
Rather than read Ven Analayo's extended discussion I think you should read http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

If you were to read this sutta and MN 62 you would have the actual teachings.
As it is I will look up the reference you have given.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:18 am

Hi Legolas,

I can't really speak for Tilt, but I don't think he is particularly disagreeing with you. As you say, a straightforward reading of the the Suttas is that external means someone else, and this is the view of the commentaries.

Tilt's point is that the objection "How can you discern XXX in an external person"? is no more of an objection than "How can you discern the internal body parts?" In either case, it's a conceptual meditation rather than a direct experience of a physical or mental object.

The commentarial view is that the Satipatthana Sutta contains some meditation objects that are conceptual (such as the body parts or charnel ground contemplations), and some that are "direct experience" (such as a painful feeling in one's own body or in one's own mind).

Mike

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:22 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Legolas,

I can't really speak for Tilt, but I don't think he is particularly disagreeing with you. As you say, a straightforward reading of the the Suttas is that external means someone else, and this is the view of the commentaries.

Tilt's point is that the objection "How can you discern XXX in an external person"? is no more of an objection than "How can you discern the internal body parts?" In either case, it's a conceptual meditation rather than a direct experience of a physical or mental object.
The commentarial view is that the Satipatthana Sutta contains some meditation objects that are conceptual (such as the body parts or charnel ground contemplations), and some that are "direct experience" (such as a painful feeling in one's own body or in one's own mind).

Mike
I don't have anything to add to this, except that some external things can be directly perceived.
>> 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 mikenz66 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:29 am

Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I don't have anything to add to this, except that some external things can be directly perceived.
Do you mean seeing external forms, etc?

Mike

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:58 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I don't have anything to add to this, except that some external things can be directly perceived.
Do you mean seeing external forms, etc?
Sure, and see my long msg above.
>> 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 legolas » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:19 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I don't have anything to add to this, except that some external things can be directly perceived.
Do you mean seeing external forms, etc?

Mike
Cannot all external things be perceived?

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:32 am

legolas wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:I don't have anything to add to this, except that some external things can be directly perceived.
Do you mean seeing external forms, etc?

Mike
Cannot all external things be perceived?
Another person's guts generally are not.
>> 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 lojong1 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:49 am

Freawaru wrote: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;
If the thought were in 'my mind', I couldn't think of it as invasion of another person's mind, no matter where it came from.

Translations can be leading, as at freawaru's link, and I thought the DN18 quote was going to be an exact copy of the MN10 Pali ajjhatta/bahiddhaa bit with an extended English interpretation added, but the Pali there is different:
The same DN18 quote -- ‘‘‘Taṃ kiṃ maññanti, bhonto devā tāvatiṃsā, yāva supaññattā cime tena bhagavatā jānatā passatā arahatā sammāsambuddhena cattāro satipaṭṭhānā paññattā kusalassādhigamāya. Katame cattāro? Idha , bho, bhikkhu ajjhattaṃ kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Ajjhattaṃ kāye kāyānupassī viharanto tattha sammā samādhiyati, sammā vippasīdati. So tattha sammā samāhito sammā vippasanno bahiddhā parakāyeñāṇadassanaṃ abhinibbatteti. Ajjhattaṃ vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati…pe… bahiddhā paravedanāsu ñāṇadassanaṃ abhinibbatteti. Ajjhattaṃ citte cittānupassī viharati…pe… bahiddhā paracitte ñāṇadassanaṃ abhinibbatteti. Ajjhattaṃ dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Ajjhattaṃ dhammesu dhammānupassī viharanto tattha sammā samādhiyati, sammā vippasīdati. So tattha sammā samāhito sammā vippasanno bahiddhā paradhammesu ñāṇadassanaṃ abhinibbatteti. Ime kho, bho, tena bhagavatā jānatā passatā arahatā sammāsambuddhena cattāro satipaṭṭhānā paññattā kusalassādhigamāyā’’ti. Imamatthaṃ, bhante, brahmā sanaṅkumāro bhāsittha. Imamatthaṃ, bhante, brahmā sanaṅkumāro bhāsitvā deve tāvatiṃse āmantesi –
This explicit reference to external meaning others (parakāye, etc,) is lacking in MN10 and elsewhere.
Oh, abhinibbatteti is highlighted because I thought I saw it used in 're-birth' arguments around the site.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by legolas » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:40 am

tiltbillings wrote:
legolas wrote:
Cannot all external things be perceived?
Another person's guts generally are not.
A recollection and inference of another persons "guts" can be perceived. As I am so are others.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:02 am

legolas wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
legolas wrote:
Cannot all external things be perceived?
Another person's guts generally are not.
A recollection and inference of another persons "guts" can be perceived. As I am so are others.
That is the point, as I said: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 910#p83603" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
>> 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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