Loathesomeness of Food

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:24 am

We may be talking about two different practises Pink Trike. If my misunderstanding of the OP has thereby dragged the thread off topic I apologise to Khalil Bodhi. It was his mention of a " daily practise" to modify his eating patterns that led to my interpretation of his intent.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby catmoon » Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:36 am

I got an impromptu education on the loathsomeness of food today. Turns out a friend of mine got a lunch invitation from some wealthy businessmen. Things like chicken feet and jellyfish started arriving on his plate. He was also injured during lunch by some kind of dumpling that you break open with your hands, but is filled with some kind of scalding hot filling. He proudly related that during lunch he neither gagged no cried out in pain.

I suppose if every meal was like that, I would have less trouble understanding the whole loathsomeness thing. But I'd still have a hard time seeing that the things he was putting in his mouth were "food".
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby cooran » Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:02 am

Hello all,

Those with a copy of the Visuddhi Magga will find an explanation in Chapter XI Description of Concentration - Conclusion (Samadhi-niddesa)
Perception of the Repulsiveness of Nutriment
page 372 to 380 (paras 1~26).

metta
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:52 am

5. One who wants to develop that perception of repulsiveness in nutriment should learn the meditation subject and see that he has no uncertainty about even a single word of what he has learned. Then he should go into solitary retreat and review repulsiveness in ten aspects in the physical nutriment classified as what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted, that is to say, as to going, seeking, using, secretion, receptacle, what is uncooked (undigested), what is cooked (digested), fruit, outflow, and smearing.
6. Herein, as to going: even when a man has gone forth in so mighty a dispensation, still after he has perhaps spent all night reciting the Enlightened One’s words or doing the ascetic’s work, after ha has risen early to do the duties connected with the shrine terrace and the Enlightenment Tree terrace, to set out the water for drinking and washing, to sweep the grounds and to see to the needs of the body, after ha has sat down on his seat and given attention to his meditation subject twenty or thirty times and got up again, then he must take his bowl and outer robe, he must leave behind the ascetic’s woods that are not crowded with people, offer the bliss of seclusion, possess shade and water, and are clean, cool, delightful places, he must disregard the noble ones’ delight in seclusion and he must set out for the village in order to get nutriment, as a jackal for the charnel ground.
-- para 5-6, Ch 11: Concentration – Conclusion: nutriment and the elements, Vism.

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:01 am

Thanks for that Ben.

:anjali:
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:15 am

Ben wrote:
5. One who wants to develop that perception of repulsiveness in nutriment should learn the meditation subject and see that he has no uncertainty about even a single word of what he has learned. Then he should go into solitary retreat and review repulsiveness in ten aspects in the physical nutriment classified as what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted, that is to say, as to going, seeking, using, secretion, receptacle, what is uncooked (undigested), what is cooked (digested), fruit, outflow, and smearing.
6. Herein, as to going: even when a man has gone forth in so mighty a dispensation, still after he has perhaps spent all night reciting the Enlightened One’s words or doing the ascetic’s work, after ha has risen early to do the duties connected with the shrine terrace and the Enlightenment Tree terrace, to set out the water for drinking and washing, to sweep the grounds and to see to the needs of the body, after ha has sat down on his seat and given attention to his meditation subject twenty or thirty times and got up again, then he must take his bowl and outer robe, he must leave behind the ascetic’s woods that are not crowded with people, offer the bliss of seclusion, possess shade and water, and are clean, cool, delightful places, he must disregard the noble ones’ delight in seclusion and he must set out for the village in order to get nutriment, as a jackal for the charnel ground.
-- para 5-6, Ch 11: Concentration – Conclusion: nutriment and the elements, Vism.

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Thanks, Ben. The practice I did apparently derived from this.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:25 am

No problem Sanghamitta and Pink.
Its a pleasure to provide this material for members who may not have access to the Vism.
I'll transcribe the section paragraphs when I get some extended and uninterrupted time over the next few days.
Its pretty amazing stuff.
metta

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:49 am

Paragraphs Seven to 10.
7. And as he goes thus, from the time when he steps down from his bed or chair he has to tread on a carpet[6] covered with the dust of his feet, geckos’ droppings, and so on. Next he has to see the doorstep[7], which is more repulsive than the inside of the room since it is often fouled with the droppings of rats, bats[8], and so on. Next to the lower terrace, which is more repulsive than the terrace above since it is smeared with the droppings of owls, pigeons[9], and so on. Next the grounds[10], which are more repulsive than the lower floor since they are defiled by old grass and leaves blown about by the wind, by sick novices’ urine, excrement, spittle and snot, and in the rainy season by water, mud, and so on. And he has to see the road to the monastery, which is more repulsive than the grounds.
8. In due course, after standing in the debating lodge[11] when he has finished paying homage at the Enlightenment Tree and the shrine, he sets out thinking ‘Instead of looking at the shrine that is like a cluster of pearls, and the Enlightenment Tree that is as lovely as a bouquet of peacock tail feathers, and the abode that is as fair as a god’s palace, I must now turn my back on such a charming place and go abroad for the sake of food’; and on the way to the village, the view of a road of stumps and thorns and an uneven road broken up by the force of water awaits him.
9. next, after he has put on his waist cloth as one who hides an abscess, and ties his waist band as one who ties a bandage on a wound, and robed himself in his upper robes as one who hides a skeleton, and taken out his bowl as one who takes out a pan for medicine, when he reaches the vicinity of the village gate, perhaps the sight of an elephant’s carcase, a horse’s carcase, a buffalo’s carcase, a human carcase, a snake’s carcase, or a dog’s carcase, awaits him, and not only that but he has to suffer his nose to be assailed by the smell of them.
10. So, this repulsive [experience] beginning with the carpet that has to be trodden on and ending with the various kinds of carcases that have to be seen and smelt, [has to be undergone] for the sake of nutriment: ‘Oh, nutriment is indeed a repulsive thing!’

Notes:

[6] Paccattharana – ‘carpet’: the word normally means a coverlet, but here, according to Pm (p. 339), it is ‘a spread (attharana) consisting of a rug (cilimika) to be spread on the ground for protecting the skin’.
[7] For pamukha – ‘doorstep’, perhaps an open upper floor gallery here, see Ch. XIII, §6.
[8] Jatuka – ‘bat’ = khuddaka-vagguli (Pm. 339): not in PTS Dict.; see Ch. XIII, §97.
[9] Paravata – ‘pigeon’: only spelling parapata given in PTS Dict.
[10] For this meaning of parivena see Ch IV note 37.
[11] Vitakka-malaka – ‘debating lodge’: Pm (p. 339) says: [i]’”Kattha nu kho ajja bhikkhaya caritabban” ti adina vitakkamalake’ (‘in a lodge for thinking in the way beginning “where must I go for alms today?”’).


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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:25 am

11. How as to seeking? When he has endured the repulsiveness of going in this way, and has gone into the village, and is clothed in his cloak of patches, he has to wander in the village streets from house to house like a beggar with a dish in his hand. And in the rainy season wherever he treads his feet sink into water and mire up to the flesh of the calves.[12] He has to hold the bowl in one hand and his robe up with the other. In the hot season he has to go about with his body covered with the dirt, grass and dust blown about by the wind. On reaching such and such a house door he has to see and even to tread in gutters and cesspools covered with blue-bottles and seething with all the species of worms, all mixed up with fish washings, meat washings, rice washings, spittle, snot, dogs’ and pigs’ secrement, and what not, from which flies come up and settle on his outer cloak of patches and on his bowl and on his head.
12. And when he enters a house, some give and some do not. And when they give, some give yesterday’s cooked rice and stale cakes and rancid jelly, sauce and so on.[13] Some, not giving, say ‘Please pass on, venerable sir’, others keep silent as if they did not see him. Some avert their faces. Others treat him with harsh words such as ‘Go away, you bald-head!’ When he has wandered for alms in the village in this way like a beggar, he has to depart from it.
13. So this [experience] beginning with the entry into the village and ending with the departure from it, which is repulsive owing to the water, mud, etc that has to be trodden in and seen and endured, [has to be undergone] for the sake of nutriment: ‘Oh, nutriment is indeed a repulsive thing!’

Notes:
[12] Pindika-mamsa – ‘flesh of the calves’ = janghapindikamamsapadesa (Pm 340). Cf Ch VIII, §97, also AA 417. Not in this sense in PTS Dict.
[13] Kummasa – ‘jelly’: usually rendered ‘junket’, but the Vinaya commentaries give it as made of corn (yava)

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Freawaru » Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:15 am

Hello Khalil Bodhi,

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the contemplation of the loathsome aspects of food either as a daily life practice or formal meditation. I'm interested specifically as it relates to a commitment to moderation in eating. Any feedback will be appreciated. Metta.


I think this can be a very dangerous practice if one is not ready for it. It is not a good idea to meddle with one's mind like that. The goal of these kind of practices is not to eat less or to judge food as disgusting but to achieve the ariya iddhi. Meaning: it is a high level practice and should only be practiced when one is already a jhana master and has achieved several iddhis so that one has an idea what this is all about.

'Noble power' ariya-iddhi is the power of controlling one's ideas in such a way that one may consider something not repulsive as repulsive and something repulsive as not repulsive, and remain all the time imperturbable and full of equanimity.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... dic3_i.htm


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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:03 am

Paragraphs 14 - 16:
14. How as to using? After he has sought the nutriment in this way and is sitting at ease in a comfortable place outside the village, then so long as he has not dipped his hand into it he would be able to invite a respected Bhikkhu or a decent person, if he saw one, [to share it]; but as soon as he has dipped his hand into it out of desire to eat he would be ashamed to say ‘Take some’. And when he has dipped his hand in and is squeezing it up, the sweat trickling down his five fingers wets and dry crisp food there may be and makes it sodden.
15. And when its good appearance has been spoilt by his squeezing it up, and it has been made into a ball and put into his mouth, then the lower teeth function as a mortar, the upper teeth as a pestle, and the tongue as a hand. It gets pounded there with the pestle of the teeth like a dog’s dinner in a dog’s trough, while he turns it over and over with his tongue; then the thin spittle at the tip of the tongue smears it, and the thick spittle behind the middle of the tongue smears it, and the filth from the teeth in the parts where a tooth-stick cannot reach smears it.
16. When thus mashed up and besmeared, this peculiar compound now destitute of the [original] colour and smell is reduced to a condition as utterly nauseating as a dog’s vomit in a dog’s trough. Yet, notwithstanding that it is like this, it can still be swallowed because it is no longer in range of the eye’s focus.
This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to using.


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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:14 am

Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:Hello Khalil Bodhi,
Khalil Bodhi wrote:Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the contemplation of the loathsome aspects of food either as a daily life practice or formal meditation. I'm interested specifically as it relates to a commitment to moderation in eating. Any feedback will be appreciated. Metta.


I think this can be a very dangerous practice if one is not ready for it. It is not a good idea to meddle with one's mind like that. The goal of these kind of practices is not to eat less or to judge food as disgusting but to achieve the ariya iddhi. Meaning: it is a high level practice and should only be practiced when one is already a jhana master and has achieved several iddhis so that one has an idea what this is all about.

'Noble power' ariya-iddhi is the power of controlling one's ideas in such a way that one may consider something not repulsive as repulsive and something repulsive as not repulsive, and remain all the time imperturbable and full of equanimity.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... dic3_i.htm


I think you're confusing two different things. You mention an advanced practise. What we are talking about here is not particularly advanced, it is one of the 40 meditation objects (as in the Visuddhimagga quotes that Ben has been reproducing). Many of us have used this as part of our genearal mindfulness practise while on retreats (and sometimes in daily life), as I've described in previous posts on this thread. It's not about aversion, or changing the underlying feeling, it's about seeing things as they are...

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:20 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:Hello Khalil Bodhi,
Khalil Bodhi wrote:Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the contemplation of the loathsome aspects of food either as a daily life practice or formal meditation. I'm interested specifically as it relates to a commitment to moderation in eating. Any feedback will be appreciated. Metta.


I think this can be a very dangerous practice if one is not ready for it. It is not a good idea to meddle with one's mind like that. The goal of these kind of practices is not to eat less or to judge food as disgusting but to achieve the ariya iddhi. Meaning: it is a high level practice and should only be practiced when one is already a jhana master and has achieved several iddhis so that one has an idea what this is all about.

'Noble power' ariya-iddhi is the power of controlling one's ideas in such a way that one may consider something not repulsive as repulsive and something repulsive as not repulsive, and remain all the time imperturbable and full of equanimity.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... dic3_i.htm


I think you're confusing two different things. You mention an advanced practise. What we are talking about here is not particularly advanced, it is one of the 40 meditation objects (as in the Visuddhimagga quotes that Ben has been reproducing). Many of us have used this as part of our genearal mindfulness practise while on retreats (and sometimes in daily life), as I've described in previous posts on this thread. It's not about aversion, or changing the underlying feeling, it's about seeing things as they are...

Metta
Mike


Thanks Mike for the clarification.

Freawaru, I'm definitely not attempting to eat less or cultivate an aversion for food. What I am attempting to do is simply see food as it is without becoming completely intoxicated and heedless. I'm nowhere near being a jhana master, I'm still working on mastering dana and sila. I appreciate your concern and I will, of course, proceed carefully but I really don't see a need to fear anything at all. Metta.

Mike

P.S.

My inspiration for this thread can be found in the Ganakamoggallana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.107.horn.html here:

Moderation in eating
"As soon, brahman, as a monk is guarded as to the doors of the sense-organs, the Tathagata disciplines him further, saying: 'Come you, monk, be moderate in eating; you should take food reflecting carefully, not for fun or indulgence or personal charm or beautification, but taking just enough for maintaining this body and keeping it going, for keeping it unharmed, for furthering the Brahma-faring,4 with the thought: Thus will I crush out an old feeling, and I will not allow a new feeling to arise, and then there will be for me subsistence and blamelessness and abiding in comfort.'
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:28 am

Thanks, Ben for reproducing this:
Ben wrote:[Visudhmagga XI.15] And when its good appearance has been spoilt by his squeezing it up, and it has been made into a ball and put into his mouth, then the lower teeth function as a mortar, the upper teeth as a pestle, and the tongue as a hand. It gets pounded there with the pestle of the teeth like a dog’s dinner in a dog’s trough, while he turns it over and over with his tongue; then the thin spittle at the tip of the tongue smears it, and the thick spittle behind the middle of the tongue smears it, and the filth from the teeth in the parts where a tooth-stick cannot reach smears it.

This is what I see when eating mindfully on retreat. The teeth, tongue, saliva, and food do a crazy dance...

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 22, 2009 1:45 am

Thank you Mike for your kind words.
I had a 'repulsivness of food' experience last night when my wife and I attended a screening of the Australian movie 'Van Diemen's Land'
http://www.vandiemensland-themovie.com/
If you watch movies then it is one to look out for. Its very confronting in places.

I'll attempt to finish transcribing the Vism section on repulsiveness on food today.
metta

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 22, 2009 2:20 am

17. How as to secretion? Buddhas and Paccekabuddhas and Wheelturning Monarchs have only one of the four secretions consisting of bile, phlegm, pus and blood, but those with weak merit have all four. So when [the food] has arrived at the stage of being eaten and it enters inside, then in one whose secretion is bile is in excess it becomes as utterly nauseating as if smeared with thick madhuka oil; in one whose secretion of phlegm is in excess it is as if smeared with the juice of nagabala[14] leaves; in one whose secretion of pus is in excess it is as if smeared with rancid buttermilk; and in one whose secretion is blood is in excess it is as utterly nauseating as if smeared with dye. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to secretion.
18. How as to receptacle? When it has gone inside the belly and is smeared with one of these secretions, then the receptacle it goes into is no gold dish or crystal or silver dish and so on. On the contrary, if it is swallowed by one ten years old, it finds itself in a place like a cesspit unwashed for ten years. If it is swallowed by one twenty years old, thirty, forty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety years old, if it is swallowed by one a hundred years old, it find itself in a place like a cesspit unwashed for a hundred years. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to receptacle.
19. How as to what is uncooked (undigested)? After this nutriment has arrived at such a place for its receptacle, then for as long as it remains uncooked it stays in that same place just described, which is shrouded in absolute darkness, pervaded by draughts,[15] tainted by various smells of ordure and utterly fetid and loathsome. And just as when a cloud out of season has rained during a drought and bits of grass and leaves and rushes and the carcases of snakes, dogs and human beings that have collected in a pit at the gate of an outcaste village remain there warmed by the sun’s heat until the pit becomes covered with froth and bubbles, so too, what has been swallowed that day and yesterday and the day before remains there together, and being smothered by the layer of phlegm and covered with frith and bubbles produced by digestion through being fermented by the heat of the bodily fires, it becomes quite loathsome. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to what is uncooked.
20. How as to what is cooked? When it has been completely cooked there by the bodily fires, it does not turn into gold, silver, etc., as the ores[16] of gold, silver, etc., do [through smelting]. Instead, giving off froth and bubbles, it turns into excrement and fills the receptacle for digested food, like brown clay squeezed with a smoothing trowel and packed into a tube, and it turns into urine and fills the bladder. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to what is cooked.
21. How as to fruit? When it has been rightly cooked, it produces the various kinds of ordure consisting of head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, and the rest. When wrongly cooked it produces the hundred diseases beginning with itch, ring-worm, smallpox, leprosy, plague, consumption, coughs, flux, and so on. Such is its fruit. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to fruit.
22. Howas to outflow? On being swallowed, it enters by one door, after which it flows out by several doors in the way beginning ‘Eye-dirt from the eye, ear-dirt from the ear’ (Sn 197). And on being swallowed it is swallowed even in the company of large gatherings. But on flowing out, now converted into excrement, urine and etc, it is excreted only in solitude. On the first day one is delighted to eat it, elated and full of happiness and joy. On the second day one stops one’s nose to void it, with a wry face, disgusted and dismayed. And on the first day one swallows it lustfully, greedily, gluttonously, infatuatedly. But on the second day, after a single night has passed, one excretes it with distate, ashamed, humiliated and disgusted. Hence, the Ancients said:
23.
‘The food and drink so greatly prized-
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck –
Go in all by a single door,
But by nine doors come oozing out.
‘The food and drink so greatly prized –
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck –
Men like to eat in company,
But to excrete in secrecy.
‘The food and drink so greatly prized –
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck –
These a man eats with high delight,
And then excretes with dumb disgust.
‘The food and drink so greatly prized –
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck –
A single night will be enough
To bring them to putridity’.
This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to outflow.


Notes:
[14] Nagabala – a kind of plant; not in PTS Dict.
[15] Pavana – ‘draught’: not in this sense in PTS Dict. See Ch XVI, §37.
[16] Dhatu – ‘ore’: not in this sense in PTS Dict. See also Ch XV, §20.

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:26 am

Dear members

Please keep your posts on-topic as off-topic posts are removed without warning.
Repeat offences may attract disciplinary action.
Thanks for your cooperation.

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:21 pm

24. How as to smearing? At the time of using it he smears his hands, lips, tongue and palate, and they become repulsive by being smeared with it. And even when washed, they have to be washed again and again in order to remove the smell. And, just as, when rice is being boiled, the husks, the red powder covering the grain, etc., rise up and smear the mouth, rim and lids of the cauldron, so too, when eaten it rises up during its cooking and simmering by the bodily fire that pervades the whole body, it turns into tartar, which smears the teeth, and it turns into spittle, phlegm, etc., which respectfully smear the tongue, palate, etc.; and it turns into eye-dirt, ear-dirt, snot, urine, excrement, etc., which respectfully smear the eyes, ears, nose and nether passages. And when these doors are smeared by it, they never become either clean or pleasing even though washed every day. And after one has washed a certain one of these, the hand has to be washed again. [17] And after one has washed a certain one of these, the repulsiveness does not depart from it even after two or three washings with cowdung and clay and scented powder. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to smearing.
25. As he reviews repulsiveness in this way in ten aspects and strikes at it with thought and applied thought, physical nutriment becomes evident to him in its repulsive aspect. He cultivates that sign [18] again and again, develops and repeatedly practices it. As he does so, the hindrances are suppressed, and his mind is concentrated in access concentration, but without reaching absorption because of the profundity of physical nutriment as a state with an individual essence. But perception is evident here in the apprehension of the repulsive aspect, which is why this meditation subject goes by the name ‘perception of repulsiveness in nutriment’.
26. When a Bhikkhu devotes himself to this perception of repulsiveness in nutriment, his mind retreats, retracts and recoils from craving for flavours. He nourishes himself with nutriment without vanity and only for the purpose of crossing over suffering, as one who seeks to cross over the desert eats his own dead child’s flesh (S.ii, 98). Then his greed for the five cords of sense desire comes to be fully understood without difficulty by means of the full understanding of the physical nutriment. He fully understands the materiality aggregate by means of the full-understanding of the five cords of sense desire. Development of mindfulness occupied with the body comes to perfection in him through the repulsiveness of ‘what is uncooked’ and the rest. He has entered upon a way that is in conformity with the perception of foulness. And by keeping to this way, even if he does not experience the deathless goal in this life, he is at least bound for a happy destiny.
This is the detailed explanation of the development of the perception of repulsiveness in nutrition.

Notes:
[17] ‘”A certain one” is said with reference to the anal orifice. But those who are scrupulously clean by nature wash their hands again after washing the mouth, and son on’ (Pm 342)
[18] ’”That sign”: that object as the sign for development, which sign is called physical nutriment and has appeared in the repulsive aspect to one who gives his attention to it repeatedly in the ways already described. And there, while development occurs through the repulsive aspect, it is only the dhammas on account of which there comes to be the concept of physical nutriment that are repulsive, not the concept. But it is because of the occurrence of development is contingent only upon the dhammas with an individual essence, and because the profundity is due to that actual individual essence of dhammas that have individual essences, that the jhana cannot reach absorption in it through apprehension of the repulsive aspect. For it is owing to profundity that the first pair of truths is hard to see’ (Pm 342-343)

End of perception of repulsivenss in nutrition, Ch. XI, Visuddhimagga.


kind regards

Ben
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Freawaru » Sun Nov 22, 2009 6:36 pm

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:Hello Khalil Bodhi,
Khalil Bodhi wrote:Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the contemplation of the loathsome aspects of food either as a daily life practice or formal meditation. I'm interested specifically as it relates to a commitment to moderation in eating. Any feedback will be appreciated. Metta.


I think this can be a very dangerous practice if one is not ready for it. It is not a good idea to meddle with one's mind like that. The goal of these kind of practices is not to eat less or to judge food as disgusting but to achieve the ariya iddhi. Meaning: it is a high level practice and should only be practiced when one is already a jhana master and has achieved several iddhis so that one has an idea what this is all about.

'Noble power' ariya-iddhi is the power of controlling one's ideas in such a way that one may consider something not repulsive as repulsive and something repulsive as not repulsive, and remain all the time imperturbable and full of equanimity.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... dic3_i.htm


I think you're confusing two different things. You mention an advanced practise. What we are talking about here is not particularly advanced, it is one of the 40 meditation objects (as in the Visuddhimagga quotes that Ben has been reproducing). Many of us have used this as part of our genearal mindfulness practise while on retreats (and sometimes in daily life), as I've described in previous posts on this thread. It's not about aversion, or changing the underlying feeling, it's about seeing things as they are...

Metta
Mike


But it is not about seeing things as they are - at least not in the way it is practiced. Feeding is an instinct. A positive instinct. Even our preference for sugar is instinctual. I think to watch instincts at work is an advanced level because they are very deep. To be just mindful of them would not require to see them as loathsome, nor would seeing them as they are. But that is just my idea of it. If you don't get eating disorders afterwards it is okay, I suppose.

Just be careful, the deeper one's meditation the more easy it becomes to manipulate one's mind. A technique that might not have produced negative effects years ago might cause them now. And I don't consider Visuddhimagga as a beginners practice, either, btw.

For moderating one's eating behaviour I would recommend to both be mindful of the behaviour itself and to enhance one's body awareness (the body itself tells one what is required and what not).
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:37 am

Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:But it is not about seeing things as they are - at least not in the way it is practiced. Feeding is an instinct. A positive instinct. Even our preference for sugar is instinctual. I think to watch instincts at work is an advanced level because they are very deep. To be just mindful of them would not require to see them as loathsome, nor would seeing them as they are. But that is just my idea of it. If you don't get eating disorders afterwards it is okay, I suppose.

Well, looking at our intentions ("instincts" if you like), is a key part of the teachings that I have had. (This is the standard Mahasi approach.) I think you're over-interpreting the word "loathsome". As I said, if you eat mindfully on a retreat you start to realise the drawbacks, including the way the nice food draws your mind to it, and the not so nice repels it, the amount of time it takes, the way it makes you feel sleepy afterwards, how you have to excrete it later, etc, etc. Perhaps "Tediousness of food" would be a better translation...

I might add that I have not done this as a "primary practise", just at mealtimes. Other times it's regular walking and sitting. If I were to use it as my primary meditation practise I'd want to have the guidance of a teacher.

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