Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:10 am

Greetings,

zavk wrote:I am, however, curious about the part that says 'internally/externally'. These two terms are not further elaborated in the Satipatthana Sutta. But to sum up Ven. Analayo's arguments very briefly, he examines two ways of interpreting 'internally/externally'.

The first way of interpreting follows the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, which interprets 'internally/externally' to encompass phenomenon arising in oneself and others. So, when one contemplates body/feelings/mind/dhammas, one contemplates them in oneself and in others. We of course cannot read the minds of others. But reading the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, Ven. Analayo suggests that we can direct mindfulness towards the outer manifestations of others (facial expressions, posture, movements, etc) so as to practice satipatthana 'externally'.

The second way of interpretating is suggested by some contemporary teachers who interpret 'internally/externally' to refer to what is inside of the body and what is on the outside of the body--i.e. the surface of the skin. I won't reproduce Ven. Analayo's arguments in detail here. But he more or less argues that while such interpretations are not entirely unfounded and have their practical benefits, they have their limits (e.g. it becomes hard to maintain such a distinction when one begins to contemplate the dhammas).


I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?

Any thoughts?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:39 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

zavk wrote:I am, however, curious about the part that says 'internally/externally'. These two terms are not further elaborated in the Satipatthana Sutta. But to sum up Ven. Analayo's arguments very briefly, he examines two ways of interpreting 'internally/externally'.

The first way of interpreting follows the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, which interprets 'internally/externally' to encompass phenomenon arising in oneself and others. So, when one contemplates body/feelings/mind/dhammas, one contemplates them in oneself and in others. We of course cannot read the minds of others. But reading the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, Ven. Analayo suggests that we can direct mindfulness towards the outer manifestations of others (facial expressions, posture, movements, etc) so as to practice satipatthana 'externally'.

The second way of interpretating is suggested by some contemporary teachers who interpret 'internally/externally' to refer to what is inside of the body and what is on the outside of the body--i.e. the surface of the skin. I won't reproduce Ven. Analayo's arguments in detail here. But he more or less argues that while such interpretations are not entirely unfounded and have their practical benefits, they have their limits (e.g. it becomes hard to maintain such a distinction when one begins to contemplate the dhammas).


I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?

Any thoughts?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi Retro,

Good idea! :thumbsup:

To me this looks like the most promising theory so far. While being aware of other people is certainly important I don't think one can contemplate their "feelings" - at least not without some telepathy. And as far as I know not even all arahats have this iddhi. The second option has it's limits, too. But as you probably refer to during contemplation there are two perspectives that can even arise simultaneously: As if the object of observation is inside oneself and as if outside (the impression is a bit as if it belongs to someone else).

This is not so surprising actually. In dream our whole scenery is based on our own mind - one can shift perspective from the one who is hunted to the one who hunts for example as both are generated by the same mind. Our general perspective of inside us versus outside us (or ourselves in contrast to other person or physical objects) is mind generated and flexible and can even be dysfunctional (like when people get the feeling it is not themselves who control their body).
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:19 pm

I think the suttas are quite clear without us having to generate our own theories which can muddy the waters a bit:

§ 32. Internal & External. There is the case where a monk remains
focused internally on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, &
mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
As he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, he
becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly
concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge &
vision externally of the bodies of others.
He remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on feelings
in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and
rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives
rise to knowledge & vision externally of the feelings of others.
He remains focused internally on the mind in & of itself — ardent,
alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to
the world. As he remains focused internally on the mind in & of
itself, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear.
Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to
knowledge & vision externally of the minds of others.
He remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on mental
qualities in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there,
and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he
gives rise to knowledge & vision externally of the mental qualities
of others.
— DN 18

Knowing mental qualities of others is not through telepathy- it is part of one of the insight knowledges: sammasana nana- where one realized that ALL phenomena, past present future, near, far, gross, subtle are subject to the same laws of the three characteristics -by inference (even though he has not experienced all phenomena). Otherwise he would not cling to phenomena he has experienced and still cling to others he has not experienced- thereby making nibbana impossible.

with metta
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby Freawaru » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:58 pm

Hi RYB,

rowyourboat wrote:I think the suttas are quite clear


I happen to disagree. :toast:

he gives rise to knowledge & vision externally of the minds of others.


"Externally of the mind of others???" What does this mean?


without us having to generate our own theories which can muddy the waters a bit:

§ 32. Internal & External. There is the case where a monk remains
focused internally on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, &
mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
As he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, he
becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear. Rightly
concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to knowledge &
vision externally of the bodies of others.
He remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on feelings
in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and
rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives
rise to knowledge & vision externally of the feelings of others.
He remains focused internally on the mind in & of itself — ardent,
alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to
the world. As he remains focused internally on the mind in & of
itself, he becomes rightly concentrated there, and rightly clear.
Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he gives rise to
knowledge & vision externally of the minds of others.
He remains focused internally on mental qualities in & of themselves —
ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with
reference to the world. As he remains focused internally on mental
qualities in & of themselves, he becomes rightly concentrated there,
and rightly clear. Rightly concentrated there and rightly clear, he
gives rise to knowledge & vision externally of the mental qualities
of others.
— DN 18

Knowing mental qualities of others is not through telepathy- it is part of one of the insight knowledges: sammasana nana- where one realized that ALL phenomena, past present future, near, far, gross, subtle are subject to the same laws of the three characteristics -by inference (even though he has not experienced all phenomena).


If he knows this inside another person - the moral issues are severe. I mean, we don't have laws against invading the personal sphere of other persons in this way but if what you suggest is true maybe we should.


Also, it seems to me as if the translation can lead one to think in one direction or in another. Some translations use "internally and externally" and others "in regard to himself - in regard to another" like here http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... assana.htm
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:50 pm

Greetings,

Freawaru wrote:Also, it seems to me as if the translation can lead one to think in one direction or in another. Some translations use "internally and externally" and others "in regard to himself - in regard to another" like here http://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/T ... assana.htm

This is a good point - does anyone know what the Pali words are that are being translated here as 'internally' and 'externally'?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:11 pm

Internally (ajjatta) he is knowing and seeing it within himself. Externally (bahidda), according to the sutta is about seeing the same things in another. Let's look at this rationally: we can't know the minds of others- if that were the case every arahanth would require very special powers and we know this is not the case (based on suttas). The only way we can know of others is by being mindful of their verbal and non- verbal communication, and understanding that their experience of their bodies and minds are the same as ours.

The point of satipatthana practice is to comprehensively let go (of the four foundations, ie everything) at the deepest level. This level of understanding of others experience is enough to do that.

It's possible to make this a problem but there is no other reasonable way to understand it.

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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby Freawaru » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:06 pm

Hi RYB,

rowyourboat wrote:Internally (ajjatta) he is knowing and seeing it within himself. Externally (bahidda), according to the sutta is about seeing the same things in another. Let's look at this rationally: we can't know the minds of others- if that were the case every arahanth would require very special powers and we know this is not the case (based on suttas). The only way we can know of others is by being mindful of their verbal and non- verbal communication, and understanding that their experience of their bodies and minds are the same as ours.


I know this is the standard interpretation but frankly I doubt that one CAN know the mind processes of other persons in the same way as one's own (without telepathy that is). But the phrases for "externally" in the satipatthana are identical to the ones for "internally" and I interpret this as being able to know in very the same way, to contemplate in the very same way, meaning one can directly know feeling and so on.

It's possible to make this a problem but there is no other reasonable way to understand it.


I still think Retro's way is quite reasonable. It agrees with experience, is scientifically plausible and interprets the sutta in context of meditation.

What speaks against it from your point of view?
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:53 pm

retrofuturist wrote:

I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?
And how would we know the objective existence of "x" outside of one's experience of "x"?

To quote something I have quoted here before:

Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf


Taking Occam's razor, the the traditional gloss of "internal" and "external" - which find more support from the suttas, giving us a less convoluted way having to read the texts - is the more meaningful way of reading and practicing the satipatthana. In this I agree strongly with Ven Analayo in his SATIPATTHANA: The Direct Path to Realization., page 94 ff.
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.
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:21 pm

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I wonder if there is a third way... where internal refers to actual experience of x, and external refers to objective existence of x?
And how would we know the objective existence of "x" outside of one's experience of "x"?

Excellent point - it could only be conceptual (i.e. in one's experience only as mind consciousness), but by being part of mind-consciousness it would be little different to the majority of satipatthana contemplations. Maybe seeing the rising and passing away of our conceptual ideas about these things might have some value. Knowing how unarisen conceptualisations come be etc.

I'm certainly not saying what I put forward is indeed the correct and intended understanding of the sutta, but I'd never heard this particular distinction mentioned before, and when reading through Buddharakkhita's translation of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, it's just something that crossed my mind, as a concept, as mind consciousness, which arose and passed away.

:tongue:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Satipatthana | "Internally and Externally"

Postby mettafuture » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:35 pm

What do you think the lines "internally and externally" in the Satipatthana Sutta are referring to?

I think they're referring to ways to contemplate objects within (or during) and outside of (during daily life) meditation practice.
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Re: Satipatthana | "Internally and Externally"

Postby bodom » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:43 pm

There are a few different interpretations on this matter, for a full account see Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Analayo.
http://www.amazon.com/Satipatthana-Dire ... 1899579540

The easiest and most practical way for me is to see "Internal" as representing my experience of Body, Feelings etc. and "External" as others experience of Body, Feelings etc.

: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: Satipatthana | "Internally and Externally"

Postby mettafuture » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:47 pm

bodom wrote:There are a few different interpretations on this matter, for a full account see Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization by Analayo.
http://www.amazon.com/Satipatthana-Dire ... 1899579540

I own it. :D

The easiest and most practical way for me is to see "Internal" as representing my experience of Body, Feelings etc. and "External" as the experience of others.

:anjali:

That method works for some of the meditations, but, for example, how do you contemplate someone else's body?
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Re: Satipatthana | "Internally and Externally"

Postby bodom » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

mettafuture wrote:That method works for some of the meditations, but, for example, how do you contemplate someone else's body?


Analayo covers that pg. 97.

: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: Satipatthana | "Internally and Externally"

Postby Moggalana » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:10 pm

Additionally: Satipatthana Sutta - part 3 - Concentration And Contemplation He talks about contemplating body externally at about 41:00
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby Goedert » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:05 am

zavk wrote:Hi friends,

This line from the story posted by Chris reminded me of something I've been meaning to ask:

"We must constantly keep ourselves under observation--not only others. In fact, let others be our mirror wherein we may discover our own defilements."


In the Satipatthana Sutta, there is a line that goes:

"In this way he abides contemplating the body/feelings/mind/dhammas internally, or he abides contemplating the body/feelings/mind/dhammas externally, or he abides contemplating the body/feelings mind/dhammas both internally and externally..."

This is the part of sutta that Ven. Analayo calls the 'refrain', the modus operandi of satipatthana, if you like. He suggests that the "task of this 'refrain' is to direct attention to those aspects that are essential for the proper practice of each exercise" (p. 92). The refrain also tells us to contemplate the 'arising/passing', with 'bare knowledge and continuous mindfulness' and 'independently without clinging'.

I am, however, curious about the part that says 'internally/externally'. These two terms are not further elaborated in the Satipatthana Sutta. But to sum up Ven. Analayo's arguments very briefly, he examines two ways of interpreting 'internally/externally'.

The first way of interpreting follows the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, which interprets 'internally/externally' to encompass phenomenon arising in oneself and others. So, when one contemplates body/feelings/mind/dhammas, one contemplates them in oneself and in others. We of course cannot read the minds of others. But reading the Abhidhammic and commentarial literature, Ven. Analayo suggests that we can direct mindfulness towards the outer manifestations of others (facial expressions, posture, movements, etc) so as to practice satipatthana 'externally'.

The second way of interpretating is suggested by some contemporary teachers who interpret 'internally/externally' to refer to what is inside of the body and what is on the outside of the body--i.e. the surface of the skin. I won't reproduce Ven. Analayo's arguments in detail here. But he more or less argues that while such interpretations are not entirely unfounded and have their practical benefits, they have their limits (e.g. it becomes hard to maintain such a distinction when one begins to contemplate the dhammas).

So, leaving aside the more contemporary interpretations, I have some questions about the more 'classical' way of understanding 'internally/externally'. Following the sequence stated in the Satipatthana Sutta, one first practices internal contemplation, which then becomes the basis of external contemplation. And finally one contemplates both internally and externally. Ven. Analayo thus opines that "indeed to be aware of one's feelings and reactions enables one to understand the feelings and reactions of others more easily". He adds:

'For a balanced development of awareness, this shift from the internal to the external is of considerable importance. Awareness applied only internally can lead to self-centredness. One can become excessively concerned with what happens with and within oneself while at the same time remaining unaware of how one's action and behaviour affect others. Practicing both internal and external satipatthana can prevent such lopsidedness and achieve a skillful balance between introspection and extroversion' (p. 98).


When we talk about meditation we often speak of it as a kind of introspective practice. But in light of the above, we see that it shouldn't be only introspective. Indeed, the force of introspection should propel one towards a certain extroversion, a greater sensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of others.

So my questions are: Do you actually make a conscious effort to contemplate 'externally'? Should we attempt to do so? Or is this something that happens 'naturally' as we build up the momentum of 'internal' contemplation?

Metta,
zavk


Hello friend. The point is to get the "principle" involve in it, so you will know what is happining in the external.

:namaste:
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:03 am

Moggalana wrote:Additionally: Satipatthana Sutta - part 3 - Concentration And Contemplation He talks about contemplating body externally at about 41:00
Thanks. Joseph Goldstein is one of the better teachers out there. His talks and writings are well worth the time spent. Also, his comments support what I have experienced in terms of the internal/external instructions: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1122#p14316
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: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby Sylvester » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:24 am

I recall Ven Analayo equating the "internal" and the "external" satipatthanas with the first 2 of the 8 Deliverances. It was from his "The Thought World of the Pali Discourses".
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Re: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:23 pm

Sylvester wrote:I recall Ven Analayo equating the "internal" and the "external" satipatthanas with the first 2 of the 8 Deliverances. It was from his "The Thought World of the Pali Discourses".
Do you recall if this is available on line? He obviously talks about this on his book on satipatthana from page 94 for the next several page after. I find Goldstein's commentary and my experience credible.
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: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby bodom » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:27 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I recall Ven Analayo equating the "internal" and the "external" satipatthanas with the first 2 of the 8 Deliverances. It was from his "The Thought World of the Pali Discourses".
Do you recall if this is available on line?


Here ya go tilt.

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/analayo/index.php

: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: Satipatthana: Internal and external contemplation

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:17 pm

bodom wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I recall Ven Analayo equating the "internal" and the "external" satipatthanas with the first 2 of the 8 Deliverances. It was from his "The Thought World of the Pali Discourses".
Do you recall if this is available on line?


Here ya go tilt.

http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/analayo/index.php

:anjali:
Ven Analayo's stuff is always worth reading. In looking through the two texts linked, I find nothing that runs counter to his statements in his book, SATiPATTHANA: The Direct Path to Realization, page 94-102.
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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