Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

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Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby starter » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:26 am

Hi friend,

I just noticed that in Ven. Thanissaro's translation of DN22: "There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]".

I don't know the pali word used for "the fore", but according to the inserted note, it seems that we should probably set our mindfulness to the front of the chest? To me the chest part is more sensible during breathing and it's probably better than focusing on the nostril, which is too restricted and could cause blood fixation on that spot. But why none of the translations I've found so far actually translated "the fore" into "the front of the chest"?

Metta,

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Re: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby bodom » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:45 am

we should probably set our mindfulness to the front of the chest?...To me the chest part is more sensible during breathing and it's probably better than focusing on the nostril,


Thanissaro's interpretation here is one of many. Some prefer watching the breath at the nostrils, others the chest and still others the abdomen. Use what works best for you in your sitting practice.

I don't know the pali word used for "the fore",


I have consulted Analayo's Satipatthana commentary, the Pali word is parimukkham, translated as "in front". Analayo says it can be understood literally or figuratively.

Here is the footnote on page 128:

This ambiguity arises because mukkha can assume a variety of meanings, among them "mouth" and "face", and also "front" and "top", cf. T.W. Rhys Davids.


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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: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby starter » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:16 am

Hi bodom,

Thanks a lot for the help. Then I wonder why Ven. Thanissaro indicated "lit. the front of chest", which doesn't seem to be the case. Metta,

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Re: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby Reductor » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:49 am

Its also important to try different places to see which one does it for you, rather then get hung up on the literalness of the word. Esp. when that word is already ambiguous.

But since the experience of body is step 3 in anapanasati, I would suggest you start your meditation by focusing on the more general sense of breathing rather than narrow your focus to a particular spot. After you have those first two steps well in hand, then find a bodily fixation point.

That's not really pertinent to the OP I know, but its a tip that comes to mind just now.

Best of luck.
Michael

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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: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby starter » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:58 pm

Hi thereductor,

Thanks for your helpful tip. I split this topic to a new thread in Meditation subforum:

Anapanasati - better the whole body breathe in/out or fix on one spot?

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Re: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:32 pm

bodom wrote:I have consulted Analayo's Satipatthana commentary, the Pali word is parimukkham, translated as "in front". Analayo says it can be understood literally or figuratively.



I've always assumed it was intended figuratively, and that "setting mindfulness to the fore" means making mindfulness the number one priority during the practice.

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Re: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby yuttadhammo » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:10 am

Seems there are two interpretations:

Parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā ti kammaṭṭhānābhimukhaṃ satiṃ ṭhapayitvā, mukhasamīpe vā katvāti attho. Teneva vuttaṃ ‘‘ayaṃ sati upaṭṭhitā hoti sūpaṭṭhitā nāsikagge vā mukhanimitte vā’’ti. Mukhanimitta nti cettha uttaroṭṭhassa vemajjhappadeso daṭṭhabbo, yattha nāsikavāto paṭihaññati; atha vā parī ti pariggahaṭṭho, mukha nti niyyānaṭṭho, satī ti upaṭṭhānaṭṭho; tena vuccati ‘‘parimukhaṃ sati’’nti evaṃ paṭisambhidāyaṃ (paṭi. ma. 1.164) vuttanayenapettha attho daṭṭhabbo. Tatrāyaṃ saṅkhepo ‘‘pariggahitaniyyānaṃ satiṃ katvā’’ti.

-- Vibhaṅga Atthakathā (Jhānavibhaṅgo, Suttantabhājanīyaṃ, Niddesavaṇṇanā)


ayaṃ sati upaṭṭhitā hoti sūpaṭṭhitā nāsikagge vā mukhanimitte vā
This sati is established, well established at the tip of the nose or mark of the mouth.

Mukhanimitta nti cettha uttaroṭṭhassa vemajjhappadeso daṭṭhabbo, yattha nāsikavāto paṭihaññati
"Mark of the mouth" - and here the middle area of the upper lip should be understood, wherever the air from the nose strikes.

(This is the vibhaṅga interpretation)

parī ti pariggahaṭṭho, mukha nti niyyānaṭṭho, satī ti upaṭṭhānaṭṭho
"pari" - the meaning is "taking up". "mukha" - the meaning is "a vehicle for release". "sati" - the meaning is "establishing".

(This is the Paṭisambhidāmagga interpretation)

I had a silly argument about this with an overly-learned monk here who claims that based on the word parimukha, watching the rising and falling of the abdomen is not the Buddha's teaching. It's silly, because it doesn't really matter what part of the body you focus on, it is all anicca, dukkha, and anatta, and therefore a proper subject of meditation practice.
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Re: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:35 am

I think it means the foremost importance, nothing to do with a physical position.
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"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Setting mindfulness to the fore--lit. the front of chest?

Postby Dmytro » Fri Dec 17, 2010 10:21 am

Hi Starter,

starter wrote:I just noticed that in Ven. Thanissaro's translation of DN22: "There is the case where a monk — having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building — sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect and setting mindfulness to the fore [lit: the front of the chest]".


The source of such translation is analysed in detail in the thread devoted to the term 'parimukham':

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=5636

Metta, Dmytro
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