Contemplation of the body

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

Contemplation of the body

Postby Nicro » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:20 pm

How are you supposed to do this meditation? I would like to start practicing it, but don't understand how to. Is it merely thinkingg of hair or nails, skin etc.. and and thinking of why they are loathsome?
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Reductor » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:00 pm

If you look at the wording you will see that your own body is to be seen as the sack. So I think of each part in turn and direct my attention to where in or on my body that part is. When I think of the hair of head I direct attention to the scalp and feel at the scalp. Thinking of joint fluid I feel my knees. Thinking of spleen I feel my back. Thinking of lungs I feel my chest. Heart I feel in mid chest.

You get the idea. When thinking of a part and feeling an area of the body you will naturally think other thoughts about the part or the feeling, which is a helpful contemplation. You'll learn a lot with those thoughts and this practice.

Hope that helps.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Nicro » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:03 pm

So basically direct attention to a specific body part and watch the thoughts that arise concerning said body part?
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby bodom » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:04 pm

Nicro wrote:How are you supposed to do this meditation? I would like to start practicing it, but don't understand how to. Is it merely thinkingg of hair or nails, skin etc.. and and thinking of why they are loathsome?



See the Visuddhimagga.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby cooran » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:08 pm

This might be of assistance:

Contemplation of the body ¬ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 20Body.pdf

with metta
Chris
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Reductor » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:14 pm

Yes, as simple as that. Just make sure you are always feeling the body. You won't have to think 'loathsome' about any of them, as it will be obvious.

Note when you feel aversion, and then relax it away and keep going. Key is steady contemplation and feeling of body with the list as a guide.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:20 pm

Nicro wrote:How are you supposed to do this meditation? I would like to start practicing it, but don't understand how to. Is it merely thinkingg of hair or nails, skin etc.. and and thinking of why they are loathsome?
Are the bits of the body loathsome?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Reductor » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:45 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Nicro wrote:How are you supposed to do this meditation? I would like to start practicing it, but don't understand how to. Is it merely thinkingg of hair or nails, skin etc.. and and thinking of why they are loathsome?
Are the bits of the body loathsome?


Depends on how you define the word. Certainly each body bit, when taken seperately, lacks the sign of beauty.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 30, 2011 1:59 am

thereductor wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Nicro wrote:How are you supposed to do this meditation? I would like to start practicing it, but don't understand how to. Is it merely thinkingg of hair or nails, skin etc.. and and thinking of why they are loathsome?
Are the bits of the body loathsome?


Depends on how you define the word. Certainly each body bit, when taken seperately, lacks the sign of beauty.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How would you define "loathsome?" The word itself is fairly clear as to what it means.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby pegembara » Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:57 am

Maha-satipatthana Sutta

Under the the section on body contemplation[kayaupassana]. The intention is to reduce the attraction to the body and to see its true nature leading to dispassion regards the body.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby ground » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:21 am

Of course the body and its parts are not loathsome. Why should they be so?
But conditioning yourself to experience loathsomeness and mentally comparing this to experiencing beauty or attractiveness in the context of the body may entail insight that such kinds of experiences are simply conditioned by thought. Seeing this clearly there is dispassion as to the body. The appearances of bodies become "neutral".

Practicing the experience of loathsomeness can provide you a means to neutralize experience of attached attractiveness instantaneously.

Kind regards
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Reductor » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:34 am

tiltbillings wrote:Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How would you define "loathsome?" The word itself is fairly clear as to what it means.


Yea, the word is in the dictionary: causing feelings of loathing; disgusting; revolting; repulsive

It has an a connotation of aversion don't you think?

If indeed loathsome is an english stand in for 'asubha', then I would instead define it as 'not-attractive'; lacking the power to attract, I am not enamoured with it, and so do not seek it. It should undermine lust for the human body, not arouse aversion.

To contemplate the 32 parts is to construct a view of the body which then acts as foundation for this perception of 'not-attractive'. To then dwell in asubha continually is to maintain this perception in place of the perception 'beautiful', which itself arises dependent on a persons natural view of the body prior to practice.

And I agree with TMingyur that this practice provides insight into the role conditioning plays, into the construction of sankharakhanda and its mutability, thus robbing the process of its allure.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:53 am

thereductor wrote:If indeed loathsome is an english stand in for 'asubha', then I would instead define it as 'not-attractive'; lacking the power to attract, I am not enamoured with it, and so do not seek it. It should undermine lust for the human body, not arouse aversion.

Agreed. Aversion is the natural result of seeing the body (one's own or any other's) as 'loathsome' and it is not helpful or skillful. At most, it might be a temporary counterbalance to the (common) excessive attraction to the body. Equanimity is the long-term aim. After all, having a body and looking after its needs is essential to the continuation of this precious human life.

:namaste:
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:12 am

Greetings thereductor and kim

I have encountered this issue previously.
"Repulsiveness" and "Loathsomeness" are english words that are so loaded with aversion that I think it best to revert to the Pali. As Kim said, the aim of the contemplation of the loathsomeness of the body is to develop equanimity, as per the contemplation of the repulsiveness of nutriment.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby Nyana » Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:37 am

thereductor wrote:If indeed loathsome is an english stand in for 'asubha', then I would instead define it as 'not-attractive'; lacking the power to attract, I am not enamoured with it, and so do not seek it. It should undermine lust for the human body, not arouse aversion.

"Loathsomeness" isn't the best translation of asubha. "Unattractiveness" is better, for the reasons already given. In practice, it's the recognition (saññā) of the undesirable aspects of the human body. AN 10.60 Girimānanda Sutta:

    Now what, Ānanda, is the recognition of unattractiveness (asubhasaññā)? Here, Ānanda, a monk reflects upon this body, from the soles of the feet upwards, from the hair of the head down, bounded by skin, and filled with manifold impurities: ‘In this body there are head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, undigested food, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, mucus, synovial fluid, and urine.’ Thus, regarding this body he remains contemplating what is unattractive. This, Ānanda, is called the recognition of unattractiveness.

The Visuddhimagga offers a good method for breaking down the list of body parts into smaller lists of five or six items to be reflected upon at a time and memorized. The commentary on the Vibhaṅga recommends a six month program of intensive retreat to systematically learn this practice.

And as AN 7.49 informs us, the purpose of the practice is to develop equanimity or dislike regarding the body, and thereby abandon lust for sexual intercourse. AN 7.49 Dutiyasaññā Sutta:

    ‘The recognition of unattractiveness, monks, when developed and cultivated, is of great fruit and benefit; it merges with the death-free, has the death-free as its end.’ Thus it was said. In reference to what was it said?

    Monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of unattractiveness, his mind shrinks away from, recoils, pulls back, and is not drawn toward the attainment of sexual intercourse, and either equanimity or dislike are established. Monks, just as a cock’s feather or a piece of tendon, when thrown into a fire, shrinks away, recoils, pulls back, and is not drawn in; in the same way, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of unattractiveness, his mind shrinks away from, recoils, pulls back, and is not drawn toward the attainment of sexual intercourse, and either equanimity or dislke are established.

    If, monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of unattractiveness, his mind inclines toward the attainment of sexual intercourse, or if admiration continues, then he should know, ‘I have not developed the recognition of unattractiveness, there is no stepwise distinction in me, I have not obtained the strength of development.’ In that way he is fully aware there. But if, monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of unattractiveness, his mind shrinks away from, recoils, pulls back, and is not drawn toward the attainment of sexual intercourse, and either equanimity or dislike are established, then he should know, ‘I have developed the recognition of unattractiveness, there is stepwise distinction in me, I have obtained the strength of development.’ In that way he is fully aware there.

    ‘The recognition of unattractiveness, monks, when developed and cultivated, is of great fruit and benefit; it merges with the death-free, has the death-free as its end.’ Thus it was said. And in reference to this it was said.

Equanimity (upekkhā) is the optimal mental quality to be developed by this practice, and dislike (pāṭikulyatā) is a stage leading to equanimity. Pāṭikulyatā is related to the term paṭikkūla (paṭi+kūla, lit. "against the slope") which has connotations such as "inclining away," "disagreeable," "impure," etc. The commentaries highlight the recognition of impurity (paṭikkūlasaññā) and attention to impurity (paṭikkūlamanasikāra).

All the best,

Geoff
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Re: Contemplation of the body

Postby squarepeg » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:34 pm

I try to think of it as a festering, disgusting, pile of crap that is worthless for anything but dying and causing pain from slight discomfort to full blown panic. All these thoughts only cause aversion if you identify the body as "you". Dispassion is the aim, is it not? as far as dispassion goes i dont think its possible to think of the body as too loathsome, its extremly loathsome. For each of us it is the most loathsome thing in the universe!
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"
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