Monday, May 5, 2014


Dhammapada Verses (292&293)

“Yam hi kiccam tadapaviddham - akiccam pana kayairati
Unnalanam pamattanam 
tesam vaddhanti asava” 

While residing near the town of Bhaddiya, the Buddha spoke these verses, with reference to some monks.

Once certain monks, who were staying in the town of Bhaddiya, made some slippers out of some reeds and grasses. When the Buddha was told about this, he said,”Venerables, you have entered the Sangha for the sake of attaining ‘arahatta phala.’ Yet, you are now striving hard only in making slippers and decorating them.” The monks were given instructions on the meditation technique of the comprehension of the constitution of the body and its real nature. At the end of the discourse, these monks attained arahtship.

“If one were to practice constantly on the mindfulness of physical reality, maintaining steady attention on what has to be done, they will shun what should not be done. The blemishes of those mindful, alert will get eroded.” (Dhammapada- 292)
Contemplation on the Repulsiveness of the Body
Beings, who are deluded by ignorance, erroneously considering their physical bodies as agreeable, pleasing and permanent, according to their past practices in samsaric existence, extend their journey through samsara. By craving and conceit too they extend their samsaric existence. They are subject to various kinds of suffering and they do not gain any relief. If they are to give up this dangerous path and get on to the path leading to happiness, they should understand the realities regarding the physical body. The reality of the body could be known by means of the meditation on repulsiveness. 

Kayagatasati Bhavana (Patikkulamanasikara Bhavana) or Repulsiveness or Impurities
Meditation on the Repulsiveness of the Body/foulness (Asubaya):
Out of the forty Samata subjects of meditation, meditation on the impurities of the body is one of the four protective meditation techniques along with recollections of the Buddha, metta/loving-kindness practice and recollection of death. Most Buddhist practitioners are encouraged to practice these four meditation techniques more often.
These four objects of meditation offer protection, shape one’s attitudes and behaviour which are conducive to spiritual progress and promote devotees along the path to deliverance. The Buddha declared that if one meditates on foulness and well- practiced, it can give great benefit by abandoning the arisen thoughts of lust. During the early stages of meditation, it is possible that thoughts of lust arise in one. They may be based on a past or a present object. When such disturbances arise the primary subject of the meditator cannot be contemplated upon without casting a way of arisen lust. Such lust should be immediately abandoned. The meditation that is directly opposed to lust is meditation on foulness (impurities).

In Buddhist scriptures, this practice involves mentally identifying 31 parts of the body, contemplated upon in various ways.  According to Girimananda Sutta, contemplation on foulness can be classified in the following manner:

 "And what, Ananda, is contemplation of foulness? Herein, Ananda, a monk contemplates this body upward from the soles of the feet, downward from the top of the hair, enclosed in skin, as being full of many impurities. In this body there are head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, intestinal tract, stomach, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucous, synovium (oil lubricating the joints), and urine. Thus he dwells contemplating foulness in this body. This, Ananda, is called contemplation of foulness.”

["Girimananda Sutta: Discourse to Girimananda Thera" (AN 10.60), translated from the Pali by Piyadassi Thera. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013]


“In individual canonical discourses, this type of 
contemplation is identified as a contributor to a variety of mundane and transcendental goals. For instance, in the Girimananda Sutta (AN 10.60), Ven. Ananda's recitation of this and other contemplations immediately cures an ailing monk.[10] In the Sampasadaniya Sutta (DN 28), Ven. Sariputta declares that meditating on these 31 body parts leads to "the attainment of vision, in four ways", and briefly outlines how this method can be used as a springboard by which one "comes to know the unbroken stream of human consciousness that is not established either in this world or in the next".[11] In addition, in the Iddhipāda-samyutta's Vibhanga Sutta (SN 51.20), this meditation subject is used to develop the four bases of power (iddhipāda) by which one is able to achieve liberation from suffering.[12
“While the Pali Canon invariably includes this form of contemplation in its various lists of "mindfulness" meditation techniques,[13] the compendious 5th-century CE Visuddhimagga identifies this type of contemplation (along with mindfulness of breathing) as one of the few body-directed meditations particularly suited to the development of concentration (Vism. VIII, 43).”[14] (Thannissaro Bhikkhu-

Methods of Contemplation

A canonical formulation of how to meditate on these is:
“Just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain – wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice – and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, 'This is wheat. This is rice. These are "mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice'; in the same way, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things [as identified in the above enumeration of bodily organs and fluids]." 

In regards to this and other body-cantered meditation objects, the Mahasatipattana Sutta provides the following additional context and expected results:

"In this way [a monk] remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or externally on the body in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the body in & of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the body, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the body, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the body. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a body' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world." 

Kaya-gata sati: mindfulness with regard to the body-sometimes this refers only to the contemplation on the thirty-two parts of the body, and sometimes to all various meditations comprised under the contemplation of the body (kayanupassana), consisting partly in concentration (samta) exercises, partly in insight (vipassana) exercises. On the other hand, the commentary (sivatika) mentioned in the first satipattana are nearly the same as the term contemplations of loathsomeness (asuba_bahavana) whereas else where the contemplation of the thirty two-parts of the body is called the reflection on impurity (patikkula-sanna). 

Visuddhimagga gives a detailed description and explanation of the method of developing the contemplation on the thirty two parts of the body. This exercise can produce the first absorption only (Jana).

Visuddhinagga states: by repeating the words of this exercise one will become well acquainted with the wording, the mind will not rush here and there; the different parts will become distinct and appear like a row of fingers, or a row of hedge-poles. Now, just as one repeats the exercise in words, one should do it also in mind. The repeating in mind forms the condition for the penetration of the characteristic marks. He/she who thus examines the parts of the body as to colour, shape, region, locality and limits and considers them one by one, and not too hurriedly, as something loathsome, to such a one, while contemplating the body, all these things at the same time are appearing distinctly clear. But also when keeping one’s attention fixed outwardly such as to the bodies of other beings and when all the parts appear distinctly, then all men and animals moving about lose appearance of living beings and appear like heaps like many different things. And it looks as if those foods and drinks, being taken by them, were being inserted into this heap. Now while again one is; conceiving the idea “disgusting” – omitting in due course several parts- gradually the attainment-concentration (appana-samadi, ie, the concentration of the Jana) will be reached in this connection, the appearing of forms is called the acquired image (uggaha-nimitta), the arising of loathsomeness, however, the counter-image (patibaga-nimitta). 

It is mentioned in the Vissudhimagga that even one who is learned in the Tripitaka should also make this recital. It is also mentioned there that two learned bhikkhus who obtained their meditation subjects from Arahat Maliyadeva attained Sotapatti by this recitation alone over a period of four months.
In a few discourses, these 31 body parts are contextualized within the framework of the Great Elements so that the earth element is exemplified by the body parts from head hair to feces, and the water element is exemplified by bile through urine.

A few other discourses preface contemplation of these 31 body parts in the following manner:
"Herein ... a monk contemplates this body upward from the soles of the feet, downward from the top of the hair, enclosed in skin, as being full of many impurities."[17]

“The 31 identified body parts in pātikūlamanasikāra contemplation are the same as the first 31 body parts identified in the "Dvattimsakara" ("32 Parts [of the Body]") verse (Khp. 3) regularly recited by monks.[18] The thirty-second body part identified in the latter verse is the brain (matthaluga).[19] The Visuddhimagga suggests the enumeration of the 31 body parts implicitly includes the brain in aṭṭhimiñja, which is traditionally translated as "bone marrow".[20]  (

This meditation means the comprehension of the constitution of the body and its real nature. According to the teachings of the Buddha, the body of a being is made up of thirty-two impurities. These thirty-two impurities are classified into four groups of five, and two groups of six...
For this purpose the meditation subject of the five body parts up to the skin, will be taught in brief. 


Therefor the first group of five impurities, thus classified, should be reflected on from beginning to end and from end to beginning. After that you should reflect on the second group of five impurities from beginning to end and from end to beginning... There after you should reflect on the impurities of the first and the second group together from the beginning to the end and from the end to the beginning. After having practiced meditation on the third group, also in a reflective manner, you should reflect on all the other groups also by reflecting them in a similar manner. This meditation should be practiced by the following methods.

Objects of contemplation
This mediation involves meditating on 32 different body parts:

(1)       Kesa, loma, nakha, danta, taco
  (Head hair, body hair, nails, teeth, skin)
(2)       Marisam, naharu, atti, athiminja, vakkam.
   (Flesh, sinew, bones, bone, marrow, kindney)
(3)       Hadayam,  ayakinam, kilomakan, pihakam, papphasam.
 (Heart, liver, midriff, spleen, lungs)
(4)       Antam, antaguam, udariyam, karisam, mattalungam.
  (Bowels, entrails, gorge, dung, brain).
(5)       Pittam, semham, pubbo, lohitam, sedo, medo
   (Bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat)
(6)       Assu, vasa, khelo, simghania, lasika, muttam.
  (Tears, grease, spittle, snot, oil for the joints, urine)

According to the post-canonical Pali commentary to the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, one can develop "seven kinds of skill in study" regarding these meditation objects through:
(1) Vacasa
(2) Manasa
(3) Vannato
(4) Santhanato
(5) Disato
(6) Okasato
(7) Paticchadato

1.   Vachasa means meditation by reflecting on the above mentioned thirty-two impurities repetition of the body parts verbally
2.   Manasa means while repeating the body parts mentally
3.   Vannato means meditation of such impurities as hair, etc., while discerning the body parts individually in terms of each one's colour
4.   Santhanto means meditation by reflecting of the body while discerning the body parts individually in terms of each one's shape.   
5.   Disato means by reflecting on the impurities of the body while determining the situation of the parts as above or below the navel, on the upper part or lower side of the body directionally.
6.   Okasato means meditation by reflecting on such impurities while determining the place in the body acquired by these parts. (discerning the body part's spatial location)
7.   Paricchedato means meditation by reflecting on such impurities, each of them taken separately.

 This meditation should be practised by the above seven methods.
Facts to be known about this meditation
The meditator in training who desires to practice, meditation on the five body parts up to the skin should understand:

   Reciting aloud in words
     Reciting mentally in silence
     Colour of the hair etc.
.   Shape or form
.   Direction of situation of the pairs i.e., Above the navel or below the navel
.   Where located and in what space
.   Delimitation and boundary

Recitation in words helps mental recitation and mental recitation helps in the understanding of the characteristics of foulness. Recitation should be done in three ways:
In order,
In reverse order,
In both order and reverse order, in the procedure indicated below:

Colour Shape etc.

1. Hairs of the head
a.   Black in colour
b.   In shape, round and long
c.   By direction, situated above the navel
d.   By location, situated on the skin covering the skull
e.   Boundary wise, they are rooted in the skin about the amount of the tip of a rice grain deep ending up in space and bounded all round by each other.

2.   Hairs of the Body
a.   Black or blackish or brown in colour
b.   In shape like the palm roots with the tips bent
c.   By direction, situated both above and below
d.   By location, except the palms of the hand and soles of the feet and where the hairs of the head are established, located on the skin covering the body.
e.   Boundary wise, they are rooted a louses head deep in the skin covering the body and ending up in space and bounded all round by each other.
This can be done in the similar way with the Nails, Teeth, and Skin and so on.

One may receive great benefits if completes the Preliminaries in the following order:
Taking refuge in the Triple Gem, Seeking forgiveness, offering of life. 

Offering of merit, transferring merits, reviewing of the Sila, Admonishing  
oneself and contemplates the other three 

protective meditation techniques.


How to progress further to Vipassana/Insight


The following abstract of meditation instructions on Vipassana meditation techniques were abstracted from “THE FOUR SATIPATTHANA, THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS” A guided meditation given by Venerable Luang Phor Sanong Katapunyo, Abbot of Wat Sanghathan Temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand)

"Hair, body hair, nails, teeth, and skin are dirty things and are never clean.
If you don’t take care of them they will become very ugly. Examine 
inside your body and you will find: flesh, sinews, ligaments, skeleton, 
a heart, lungs, 
and the liver. Look inside to your skeleton, the bones are something 
that will change. How you foresee them to change, they will really follow
to be like that. If you just hold the pictures of the bones, this will be
Samadhi, but if you investigate into their changing nature, this will cause 
Wisdom to arise. See the changing condition of your body according to 
the states of body and mind. As you see your body and organs change,
look at the plain elements within them. You just note the different things 
you find within your body and put them right in front of you.

The skin is one mountain, the flesh another mountain, sinews and
ligaments are still another pile; liver, kidneys, intestines, the 
abdomen -- separate 
them into piles.  Blood, pus, bile, clear water, and saliva -- separate each 
of them into parts. The fluid part is Water, the hard part is Earth, the
 part with temperature is Fire, the moveable part is VAYA, or the Wind
When the body dies the elements fall apart. When the breath stops and
leaves the body, only 3 elements remain: Earth, Water and Fire. So we
see the outer condition of the body as rising, staying for a while and 
ceasing. The inside of the body follows this same law of impermanence.
So we see that we should not hang onto them as me or mine, as his or
hers, as a being, as a person.
Bring it all back to yourself. Every time you examine like this you will 
see it like that. Separating the body into its parts and portions, you will 
not find a Self, a being. See how your legs go one way, the arms
another way, nose and eyes go different ways. When you distinguish
hair, body, hair, nails, teeth, skin, skeleton separated into different parts
and portions, already you will not find me or mine, him or her or any
person anymore.
You know the Heart, the Heart is the One who knows. Know happiness,
know suffering, know calmness, know no calmness. The Heart has the 
wisdom to distinguish these things. The Heart has the wisdom, the ability
to see through and distinguish the real conditions of the inner and outer
body. The body is happy, the body is suffering, and the body has aches
and pain. Inspect the body and you know a suffering feeling if you sit 
unmoved for a long time. This is a physical feeling. If we sit with pain in
the body, the Heart will be affected and become restless. This is then 
a mental feeling.

Now we come to the last aspect of his teaching. If the meditator comes to recognize through the practice of asubha kammatthana that the body is unclean and unattractive, and has become proficient in his practice, the following step is required to progress further to vipassana, or insight practice. Venerable Ajahn Sao would recommend that we practise analysing the entire body into 4 components: Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire. Hair of the head, hair of the body, teeth, skin, nails, bones, etc. all have the predominant characteristic of the hardness, which is characteristic of earth. Why should hair be regarded as the earth element? Because when the hair decomposes it must change into earth. The meditator practises to see that all these aspects of the body are actually earth element, and continues to practise until a nimitta of this appears. This is the realization which goes deeper than just intellectual or surface understanding.
The next element is water. This contains pus, sweat, blood, spittle, mucous, urine, and whatever other parts of the body having the characteristic of liquid. Parts of the body which are imbued with the characteristic of water, we call the water element. We are told to contemplate this and see that these things are really just water.
The warmth or heat which is in the body is called the heat element (fire element).

The wind element is the wind in the upper and lower parts of the body. The in and out breath is an example of the wind element.
We are told to investigate the body as a thing which is composed of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. There are only elements, not a person or a self. This body is merely a heap of four elements coupled with the impersonal birth consciousness (patisandhi vinnana). We grasp onto the perception that there is a self. The perception of self is defilement, manifesting as craving, conceit, views and clinging. When you see this body as only four elements, not a person, a self, a human being, or a him, her, we or us, the meditator realizes the perception of anatta or non-self. That is,
 he or she will come to see that this body is non-self. By reflecting on the four elements, the meditator will come to see in a deep and profound way the truth of anatta. A nimitta of not self may arise. The meditator will see deeply that this body is truly the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. The heart will realize intuitively that there is nothing in the body other than these four elements. When the mind realizes that there is truly no self, no person whatsoever, how can it not progress in the development of vipassana? I would like to request that you all consider this entire body as nothing more than the four elements. In practising in this way you will be able to intuitively realize that this body is not self. This truth accords with the Pali words of the Buddha “Sabbe Dhamma Anatta” – all things are not self.

If you are truly sincere in your practice, don’t go and suspect these methods of practice. What I have related to you today is the teaching of Venerable Ajahn Sao. What the great masters teach is always absolutely correct, but of course, it is up to you to realize the truth for yourself.
Nuggets of a Teaching
1 Meditation, the natural way

The teaching of the Buddha is a teaching for intelligent people. It isn’t a teaching for someone to believe in blindly without reason. The Buddhist religion teaches people to learn about nature and the laws of nature. If someone asked me, “What is Dhamma?” I would answer, “Dhamma is nature”. “What is nature?” To this I answer, “it is our body and mind.”
The samadhi of the Buddha is the samadhi which notes what is going
on in everyday life. This is more important than sitting in formal practice. The teaching of samadhi which must be taught is the samadhi that is concerned with the things which are closest to us. You don’t need to know about or be interested in the things which people boast about. You need to know thoroughly your own body and mind. As for the body, you need to know the coarse nature of the body as it must always be in a state of constant change and movement, be it standing, walking, sitting, lying down, eating, drinking, doing, talking and thinking.
This is the way of body and mind."   
[THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS OF MINDFULNESS” A guided meditation given by Venerable Luang Phor Sanong Katapunyo, Abbot of Wat Sanghathan Temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand]

Visit this site for more information :

No comments:

Post a Comment