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I was reading through Patisambhidamagga, KN. From page 164, it describes about 'Eighteen kinds of knowledge of imperfections' related to Anapanasati(Mahavagga->Anapanasatikatha).

Following is the except:

1)When he goes in with mindfulness after the beginning, middle and end of the in-breath, his cognizance being distracted internally, both his body and his cognizance are disquieted, perturbed and excited.

2)When he goes out with mindfulness after the beginning, middle and end of the out-breath, his cognizance being distracted internally, both his body and his cognizance are disquieted, perturbed and excited.

3)With such behavior of craving as hope for, and attachment to, in-breath both his body and his cognizance are disquieted, perturbed and excited.

4)With such behavior of craving as hope for, and attachment to, out-breath both his body and his cognizance are disquieted, perturbed and excited.

5)Owing to longing for out-breath in him when he is fatigued by [too long or too short] in-breath is body..

....

Does anybody have a reference to pali canon(not commentary) where it supports the observation of start-middle-end of breath?

  • I read in a book by Nyanaponika, that obvserving the start and end is good for insight into impermanence, while in samatha you sort of go with the "flow" of the breath. – OidaOudenEidos Apr 15 '16 at 12:19
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He trains himself thus: "I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body (of breath)",

He trains himself thus: "I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body (of breath)",

...

Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, understands that he is making a long turn, or in making a short turn, understands that he is making a short turn, so, too, a monk

...

He trains himself thus: "I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body (of breath)",

He trains himself thus: "I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body (of breath)",

Source: Mahā Sati’patthāna Sutta

Experiencing the whole breath is sometimes interpreted as being aware of the start-middle-end of the breath. Also the skilled tuner passage seems to imply such as cited by some in support of this interpretation.

See: How is the Pali Phase "Sabbakayapatisamvedi Assasissami... passasissamiti sikkhati..." Interpreted as per Different Linage?

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In Pali, the word 'sabba kaya" means "all bodies". The Anapanasati Sutta states the "breathing is a body among bodies". These bodies (kaya) are the breath kaya, rupa kaya (physical body) and nama kaya (mental body). The Buddha was not interested in the start, middle & end of the breath. The Buddha was interested in how the mind can calm the breathing, which calms the body. Or, in terms of suffering, how the state of mind disturbs the breathing which disturbs the body. The Buddha was interested in suffering & it cessation. What as been explained is the true meaning of stage 3 of anapanasati.

Refer to Buddhadasa book: Anapanasati: Unveiling the Secrets of Life.

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