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Live in A Body Overseeing the Body

This is in response to a question that came up during the on-line translation of The Book of Ones; and specifically #402 and following.

K2: What does it mean "body overseeing the body;" "senses overseeing the senses"?

To begin with, this particular phrase has been a troublesome one for all translators.

The Pali is: kāye kāya-anu-passī viharati

Literally: body body-over-seeing residing

anu = to, along, up; on, an; after (PED: modifying (directional) element with well-defined meaning (along) ... 1. With verbs of motion: "along towards" a. the motion viewed from the front backward = after, behind) [I remember it with the thought: "After you, Alphonse," with the bowing and motion of the arm indicating that the follower should pass ahead.]

Rhys Davids translates: "let a brother, as to the body, continue so to look upon the body"

Horner Translates: "a monk fares along contemplating the body in the body,"

Woodward translates: "If he dwell in body contemplating body,"

Warren translates: "a priest lives, as respects the body, observant of the body,"

Walshe translates: "a monk abides contemplating body as body,"

Nanamoli translates: "a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body,"

And see Nyanasatta Thera's Translation and note 1 on the meaning of this phrase.

[If you remember my rendition of the Satipatthana , you will notice that my real change in the meaning is not so much in this phrase as in the following: ātāpī (here "with such energy"): I think we were intended to view the body as in flames, but in this translation of the Ones I have caved in to the conventional understanding.]

I have: "live in a body overseeing body" etc (you need to include the "live in a" part for the expression to make sense).

I take the meaning to be from the point of view of one who fundamentally[1] has a choice to not live here in a body: That is, that choosing to live here (or finding one's self living here) in this world in a body, live watching over the body (taking care, guarding against it's weaknesses, observing its true nature as an ending thing, as not belonging to or being under one's control [that is, in terms of it's being subject to change, old age, and death - it's behavior is to be controlled by our conscious decision making]). ... or, in other words, doing what the sutta instructs.

In the senses is the same, but for one who is focused on the experiences of the senses ... one whose center is on what he sees, etc. (of course most of us (humans) do all of these to certain degrees) (however, there are beings, even in human form, that are virtually completely unaware of their body, etc.).

The next two, which will follow are "in the Heart" and "in the Dhamma"; these should be understood to mean one who lives primarily in the emotions and one who lives primarily focused on the Dhamma.

In the Pali "Citta" or "Heart" is understood to include "Mind"; I understand this in the way intended by our expression "the seat of the emotions." The way this term is defined[2] is more complex than the way we usually understand emotions, and I take the meaning to be that an "emotion" is a Confounding — a further refined Confounding — of the sense impressions and the reaction in mind to them which are themselves Confoundings, that has become a thing unto itself[3] The main goal is to view the phenomena as changing, not self and a vehicle for Dukkha such that one abandons any desire and attachment to emotions. This is not the process as practiced in psychology, of disecting the emotion, just the opposite, it is the recognition of the emotion and the categorization of it in very broad terms.

Living here in the Dhamma is the most difficult to sort out because it is, for those of us who are not Arahant, the goal. The idea is, in my understanding, most clearly put in the famous simile of the raft: Standing on this bank of a raging river, subject to all kinds of Dukkha, and seeing the other side, free from Dukkha, but seeing no bridge or ferry to take one across; one gathers sticks and twigs and limbs (of wisdom) and binds them together with yarn (sutta) and makes a raft. Then, struggling mightily with arm and leg one crosses over. At this point the fool reflects: "this raft has been very useful to me, how about if I hoist it up on my head and carry it around?" The well-advised lets the raft go - through training he has "become" Dhamma. He doesn't think about Dhamma, he doesn't think "I am Dhamma", he doesn't think "Dhamma is Mine", he doesn't think "Dhamma is a Part of Me," he doesn't think "I am a Part of Dhamma", but his mind has evolved to such an extent that whatsoever is done, whether by thought, word, or deed, reflects Dhamma without attachment.

Long answer.

K2: Do you mean with consciousness of, with awareness of?"

Short answer: Yes.

This is the trouble with translations. You have a choice: do you stick to the text, thinking that by so doing you will most accurately portray the intended meaning (hoping you do not have a subtle misunderstanding of some words), or do you present the meaning in the generally understood terms of the audience and take your chances on whether or not you have an accurate understanding of the original intentions. I usually go with the idea that I understand the meaning! But in this "first draft" of the Ones, I am sticking to a pretty much word for word style.

K2: Also what do you mean by "recollection"?

This is pretty much covered above: it means that one remembers that what one is overseeing is changeable, not self, and a vehicle for Pain. One is "recollecting" High View.


[1] See: Dhammatalk: On Bhava and Vibhava

[2] See the Satipatthana Sutta section on the emotions.

[3] For example, say, taking the blending (confounding) of a number of roots and seeds in the form of what is known as Curry Powder, and putting it in a cast iron skillet with some onions and Ghee, and putting it on a fire, and, in a few minutes enjoying the "aroma".

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