Heaviside wrote: LonesomeYogurt wrote:
It's important, first of all, to note that the first two steps are not something that one really practices, at least in the same way that one practices the next 14.
(1) While breathing in long he fully comprehends: I breathe in long. While breathing out long he fully comprehends: I breathe out long. 16
(2) While breathing in short he fully comprehends: I breathe in short. While breathing out short he fully comprehends: I breathe out short.
(3) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe out.17
(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18
A very helpful response for me, but I wonder about the meanings of the two words I highlighted in red. For me, this is the thorniest problem in understanding the suttas. For instance these two terms seem so imprecise and indefinite.
In physics, "bodies" means material objects, and the only meaning of "body conditioner" I can think of at the moment refers to something my wife uses in the shower!
Taking nothing away from LY's eventual reply to you, I find it helpful to realize that whenever you read something in which you are unable to make out the intended meaning, especially if is a translation from another text such as this (Pali to English) that it is best to find other translations (or someone whose translations you feel relatively comfortable relying upon, such as what follows) to compare in order to perhaps be able to discern the meaning as it was originally intended. Sometimes even the original intent is questioned by practitioners (both experienced and inexperienced), at which point it is helpful to have someone experienced in the practice to help guide you through one meaning or another.
In Bhikkhu Nanamoli's translation of this important sutta as published in the Wisdom Book edition of the Majjhima Nikaya
(and edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi), he renders the passage as follows:
18. "Breathing in long, he understands: 'I breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands: 'I breathe out long.' Breathing in short, he understands: 'I breathe in short'; or breathing out short, he understands: 'I breathe out short.' He trains thus: 'I shall breath in experiencing the whole body' [of breath]; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body [of breath].' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in tranquillizing the bodily formations'; he trains thus; 'I shall breathe out tranquillizing the bodily formations.'
Thus, in the first instance, the term "all bodies" in LY's translated version would be equivalent to the reference to "the whole body [of breath]" in the second translation. This provides a whole new perspective for what might have been intended by the passage. Meaning that the practitioner calms the "whole body of the breath," which might mean from the inhalation through to the exhalation, the body of the breath being the tranquilization of the entire process of the breath.
So, too, in the second instance, where the term/phrase "body-conditioner" is used in LY's translated version which would be equivalent to the reference to "bodily formation" in the second translation. In this instance, bodily formation can refer to perceptions of the body as they are formed in the mind, thus tranquilizing the "bodily (mental) formations."
And while I recommend using the Wisdom Publication editions of the Nikayas as one's source for the translations of the discourses, it is because I have profited from these excellent translations (and their explanatory footnotes, which are indispensable) in my own practice. At any rate, whichever way one wants to view these translations as they relate to practical advice in meditation, it will serve one well to have the assistance of an experienced practitioner to help guide one through the avenues of ambiguity.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV