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Question about the way of "noting" the present moment. ( sati, mindfulness )

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  • Question about the way of "noting" the present moment. ( sati, mindfulness )

    Hello, can someone clarify this confusion about the way of "noting" the present moment since English is not my native language and have to "note" phenomena in different language which have different words for the two meanings I will specify next. In the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition the instruction is when standing to note "standing". My qustion is with what meaning: 1.What is called when a person is upright and not moving? (It is called) standing. (as a neutral impersonal description) or 2.What are you doing? - (I am) standing. (as an specific action that is done by a someone/subject) ? Lifting as : This is lifting , or I am lifting, Moving as: This is moving ,or I am moving. I am asking because I don't understand Pali and all english translations on the Accesstoinsight site on Mindfulness like Satipatthana Sutta, Anapanasati Sutta, Kayagata-sati Sutta all state to be noting as of meaning "I am breathing in" ,"I am standing" ,"I am walking" and not as meaning "this is breathing in" ,"this is standing" ,"this is walking" ?

    Kathaṃ ca pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati?

    Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu araññagato vā rukkhamūlagato vā suññāgāragato vā nisīdati pallaṅkaṃ ābhujitvā, ujuṃ kāyaṃ paṇidhāya, parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā. So sato va assasati, sato va passasati. Dīghaṃ vā assasanto ‘dīghaṃ assasāmī’ ti pajānāti,5 dīghaṃ vā passasanto ‘dīghaṃ passasāmī’ ti pajānāti. Rassaṃ vā assasanto ‘rassaṃ assasāmī’ ti pajānāti, rassaṃ vā passasanto ‘rassaṃ passasāmī’ ti pajānāti. ‘Sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ ti sikkhati, ‘sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ ti sikkhati. ‘Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’ ti sikkhati, ‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’ ti sikkhati.


    For example here the english translation is :

    And how, monks, does a monk dwell observing body in body?

    Here a monk, having gone into the forest, or to the foot of a tree, or to an empty room, sits down cross-legged, keeps his body upright and fixes his awareness in the area around the mouth. With this awareness, he breathes in, with this awareness, he breathes out. Breathing in a deep breath, he understands properly:5 "I am breathing in a deep breath." Breathing out a deep breath, he understands properly: "I am breathing out a deep breath." Breathing in a shallow breath, he understands properly: "I am breathing in a shallow breath." Breathing out a shallow breath, he understands properly: "I am breathing out a shallow breath." In this way he trains himself: "Feeling the whole body, I shall breathe in." "Feeling the whole body, I shall breathe out," thus he trains himself. "With the bodily activities calmed, I shall breathe in," thus he trains himself. "With the bodily activities calmed, I shall breathe out," thus he trains himself.


    Is there an specific word in the pali verse for the "I am" part (self view) or is the translation not exactly correct in transmiting the meaning and should be "He knows there is breathing in a deep breath"?
    Thank you in advance and all the best.

  • #2
    Dear Vaselin,

    Yes, "He knows there is breathing in a deep breath" is a good way of putting it.

    The problem with language is that you have to use the words "I am" even though there is no "I", so it is very hard to write a proper sentence - in English or in Pali. There is no specific word for "I am" in Pali, but the subject is implied. It would be very convoluted to try and construct a sentence without a subject.

    So as you put it in "1", it is a "A neutral impersonal description" though not the literal translation.

    Ultimately the point of "noting" is that it helps one cut through the sense of 'someone' doing something. You stop taking your actions so personally. There is just 'standing'. It is not charged with 'me and my doing'.

    Slowly, in degrees, one stops being 'the doer'.

    Good on you for carefully considering this. Keep walking the Path!

    With best wishes,
    Ven Upekkha

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you Ven.Upekkha,

      Many years I have been practising the Mahasi Sayadaw technique.
      But it is begining to seems to me the Buddha's advice was more direct ("When making a long inhalation, I know I am making a long inhalation, When happy ,I know I am happy(as an adjective), rather than "happiness (as a noun). The "abstract" noun meaning seems to separate the experience and perceive it as it were autonomous, unrelated to anything else with phrases as "touching" (noun meaning: This/there is touching - detached from subject) ,rather than "touching" (verb meaning: I know I am touching), "lifting" (noun meaning: This/there is lifting) ,rather than "lifting" (verb meaning: I know I am lifting), each movement or experience is verbalized - as if the lifting ,the touching,the putting down, etc. were something that happened by itself.
      If there is in the pali an indication of a subject (or the first singular of the verb expressing individual action) as you mentioned above then I would incline to think that the "self" point of view noting technique is indeed the correct way to practice. Can these assumptions be confirmed or are not justifiable based on the pali verses of the suttas?

      Thank you again!
      Last edited by Veselin Varbanov; 20th-November-2018, 04:59 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Dear Vaselin,

        There is a tri-linear translation of the Satipatthana Sutta by Piya Tan on the internet. The link is
        http://www.themindingcentre.org/dhar...iya_111203.pdf.

        Hopefully you find the answer to your question there!

        With metta,
        Ven Upekkha

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes very nicely (word by word) written work. Thank you very much Ven Upekkha!

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