2

Can anyone -- who knows chinese -- explain whether the interpretation of the cryptic formula in the Chinese agama parallel to MN 10 is the same as my interpretation?

My interpretation is that "seeing body as body" means "seeing the body according to reality as it actually is" -- rather than how the Theravada commentary interprets it, i.e. "body in body" as meaning "you contemplate body in isolation of the 3 other frames of 4sp".

Here is the chinese sarvastivada MA 98 || MN 10 (B. Analayo trans.)

“Now I, being the Tathāgata of the present, free from attachment and fully awakened, have attained unsurpassable and complete awakening by abandoning the five hindrances, which defile the mind and weaken wisdom, by dwelling with the mind well established in the four satipaṭṭhānas, and by cultivating the seven factors of awakening.

“What are the four? [They are] the satipaṭṭhāna of contemplating the body as a body, in the same way [the satipaṭṭhāna] of contemplating feelings [as feelings], [the satipaṭṭhāna of contemplating] mind [as mind], and the satipaṭṭhāna of contemplating dharmas as dharmas.

https://suttacentral.net/ma98/lzh/taisho

「云何為四?觀身 如身念處,如是觀覺、心、法如法念處。云何觀 身如身念處?比丘者,行則知行,住則知住,坐 則知坐,臥則知臥,眠則知眠,寤則知寤,眠 寤 則知眠寤。如是比丘觀內身如身,觀外 身如身,立念在身,有知有見,有明有達, 是謂比丘觀身如身。復次,比丘觀身如身, 比丘者,正知出入,善觀分別,屈伸低昂,儀 容庠序,善著僧伽梨及諸衣鉢,行住坐臥,眠 寤語默皆正知之。如是比丘觀內身如身, 觀外身如身,立念在身,有知有見,有明有 達,是謂比丘觀身如身。

For reference, this is how I translate and interpret the Pali 4sp formula:

Meaning of the cryptic 4sp🐘 formula

He abides, continuously seeing the body as a body, [as it actually is, according to reality]...
He abides, continuously seeing the experienced-sensations as experienced-sensations, [as it actually is, according to reality]...
He abides, continuously seeing the mind as mind, [as it actually is, according to reality]...
He abides, continuously seeing the ☸Dhamma as ☸Dhamma, [as it actually is, according to reality]...

There's a fuller post explaining and justifying my interpretation is at http://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-real-meaning-of-cryptic-formula-in.html

  • 2
    I tried to edit for clarity, please correct if I made a mistake, especially in the second paragraph. – ChrisW Jul 23 at 16:45
3

"seeing body as body" and "body in body" both means "seeing the body according to reality as it actually is". This is to see the body without any additional interpretations or view. Essentially seeing what is there as it is.

This does not mean "you contemplate body in isolation of the 3 other frames of 4sp". You can choose to if you want to as your main focus, but any of the 4sp one cannot do purely in an isolated manner as one influences the other. E.g. if you are doing kayanupassana this influence vedena. Following highlights how the 4 elements (part of kayanupassana) influence feelings.

vedana can certainly be connected with three of the four mahabhuta (elements), which are collectively known as rupa. These three are pathavi (earth element), tejo (fire element) and vayo (air element). Apo (water element) is too subtle to touch, or is so subtle that one finds difficulty in feeling it. Now, to illustrate the connection between vedana and the three bhuta, when you have a cramp, which is the tightening of the muscles, it is pathavi; when you feel temperature of the body it is tejo; when you suffer from pain in the stomach, it may be something to do with vayo, for when the air in your stomach is stuck and finds no vent to get out, you have that experience of unpleasant feeling called pain. The connection of vedana with these mahabhuta makes it all the more manifest and helps one realize its true nature.

Source: Vipassana and Vedana as Understood by a Novice by U Tin Lwin

  • Also any of the 4sp you cannot do purely isolated as one influences the other., that: isn't it a contradicion of Upasakas answer, in and of itself? At the beginning, yes, but that is the purpose of the encouragement 'in and of itself' isn't it also the starter of Upasaka answer? Right here and now to put into frame of referance, satipatthana. – Samana Johann Jul 23 at 18:17
2

Prajnaparamita in 10,000 lines, that user12901 linked, says the following:

Moreover, Śāradvatī­putra, the maturity of a great bodhisattva being also entails the four applications of mindfulness which are correctly retained by skill in means. If you ask what these four are, they may be described as follows:

(1) Great bodhisattva beings who are diligent, alert, and mindful, after eliminating worldly covetousness and sadness without apprehending anything, with regard to the inner body, continue to observe the physical body, without generating any apperceptions dependent on the physical body. Similarly, those who are diligent, alert, and mindful, after eliminating worldly covetousness and sadness without apprehending anything, with regard to the outer body, continue to observe the physical body, without generating any apperceptions dependent on the physical body. Similarly, those who are diligent, alert, and mindful, after eliminating worldly covetousness and sadness without apprehending anything, with regard to the inner and outer body combined, continue to observe the physical body, without generating any apperceptions dependent on the physical body.

(2) Those who are diligent, alert, and mindful, after eliminating worldly covetousness and sadness without apprehending anything, with regard to inner feelings, outer feelings, and combined inner and outer feelings, continue to observe feelings, without generating any apperceptions dependent on feelings.

(3) Those who are diligent, alert, and mindful, after eliminating worldly covetousness and sadness without apprehending anything, with regard to the inner mind, the outer mind, and the combined inner and outer mind, continue to observe the mind, without generating any apperceptions dependent on the mind.

(4) Those who are diligent, alert, and mindful, after eliminating worldly covetousness and sadness without apprehending anything, with regard to inner phenomena, outer phenomena, and combined inner and outer phenomena, continue to observe phenomena, without generating any apperceptions dependent on phenomena.

The comment says:

The expression “without apprehending anything” [means] without perceiving anything as inherently existing.

Also, the word "apperceptions" here translates the Sanskrit word "vijnapti" which means "interpretation".


As was pointed out in other answers, Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates this piece as "body (etc) in and of itself". In his awesome book, Wings of Awakening, he explains that it means that the meditator must enter "phenomenological mode", where all phenomena are studied as they appear to the raw observation, without adding the typical worldly interpretations and attitudes.


Buddha himself teaches the following practice in Bahiya Sutta:

Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.

The way I understand all this is, Sathipattana is not some separate meditation practice, but actually training to dwell in suchness. Which means, laying aside all preconceptions, biases, attachments, judgements and side-taking. What's left is completely purified perception of things as they are, yathabhuta, without "asava"s.

  • there's some overlap with thanissaro's "body in and of itself" with my interpretation, but mine is wider and more general. For example, you can 'see the body as a body as it actually is' without having to ONLY restrict yourself to phenomological body part observation. And in the dhamma-anupassana frame, our interpretations are radically different. – frankk Aug 23 at 16:04
  • 1
    "As it actually is" is waaay to ambiguous IMO. There is a reason all teachers, ancient and modern emphasize nonjudgmental awareness, freedom from the known, no preconceptions, etc. The examples I quoted above make it clear that what we are talking about is (overcoming) imputation or projection, not merely seeing things "as they actually are, according to our preconceptions" – Andrei Volkov Aug 23 at 16:50
  • 'as it actually is' comes from 'yatha bhuta', and it's not realization based on projection and preconceptions. 'yatha bhuta' is used to describe when arahants, stream enterers perceive reality. And my interpretation is based on satipatthana samyutta's SN 47.4, where yatha bhuta is explicitly used to describe all 4 frames. Non judgmental awareness has it's place, but it is absolutely not the definition of 'sati' as many modern teachers wrongly teach. – frankk Aug 24 at 8:18
  • Alright, I hear you but aren't you going against all the textual evidence I brought above? – Andrei Volkov Aug 24 at 11:30
  • 1
    Prajnaparamita adds unique details about not apprehending and not generating apperceptions dependent on X. – Andrei Volkov Aug 25 at 22:21
1

Householder, Upasaka Frank, Interested,

even traditional translations often use mentioned translations, but those can be not assumed of being made by path practicing Venerables.

As far as traced, my person has only seen Ven. Thanissaro transporting it well in/with "in and of itself", also explaining the approach well, meaning not putting in relation to anything. Neither a perception of it, or when rupa or nama "really" is traced => no I, not I, my, not-my-making of what one likes to be mindfull, inwardly, outwardly... no "sakka", giving into, "kaya" group.

May Nyom simply try to known by himself.

One having not attained Jhana or still firm in Sakaya (giving into group, relation - viewing) ditthi, is not capable to understand of what "in and of itself", "considered by itself" ("an und für sich", a sallop used way of speech in German to cut off what is not essence) means.

My person discussed that also with Ven. Ariyavaṃsa Thera on PP, lets see if possible to add a link... here: Satipaṭṭhāna – setting up mindfulness (one may be careful in regard of the danger of sakkaya-ing in philosphy there). So only in and of itself to be investigated. Althought Venerable prefers the traditional translation, discussion and reaction proofs the right understanding and may serve also those used to traditional sanna, sign, word, in regard of the to-liberation-leading essence, meaning, attha, of this grammatical conjunction.

(Note that this Gift of Dhamma is not meant for trade, exchange, stacks, entertainment and akusala deeds, but as a share of merits and continue such for release)

  • 1
    thanks for the linked threads, i'll check it out – frankk Jul 23 at 17:20
1

Without answering the question, You also have the tibetan suttas, but ofc they may not be parallel to the suttas in pali. Since those people use sanskrit, you have to search for smṛti or mindfulness directly for instance http://translator-tools.84000.co/glossary-items.html?term=mindfulness

in the The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom in Ten Thousand Lines, they claim

Application of mindfulness which, with regard to feelings, observes feelings

http://read.84000.co/translation/UT22084-031-002.html#UT22084-031-002-4055

Perhaps there is also some parallel suttas in gandhari? for instance in http://www.buddhism.org/?p=926 http://www.buddhism.org/?p=930 and the books A Gāndhārī Version of the Rhinoceros Sūtra and https://books.google.com/books?id=UoV5Dz20oo4C&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=mindfulness#v=onepage&q=mindfulness&f=false

The texts in gandhari are here https://www.gandhari.org/a_manuscripts.php

  • interesting. looking at the sanskrit though, even then the english translation with "with regard to body they contemplate body", the sanskrit only shows one 'kaya' in there. – frankk Jul 24 at 11:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.