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"experiencing the whole body", [sabbakāya], interpretations & controversy

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  • "experiencing the whole body", [sabbakāya], interpretations & controversy

    Venerable Sirs,

    After much studying of the Suttas and sifting through the various opinions on the interpretation of 'whole body' in the 3rd line of the 1st tetrad in MN118:
    sabbakāyapaṭisaṁvedī assasissāmī ti sikkhati,
    he trains like this: experiencing the whole body I will breathe in
    I am left feeling very confused as to whether this means [body of breath] (being aware of the breath sensations from the beginning, to middle, to end at a chosen spot) or the [flesh body] (being aware of the breath sensations through the physical body as a whole). There are very reliable sources on both ends...

    from the wikipedia entry on MN118:
    the whole "breath body" (as indicated in the sutta itself [Nanamoli, 1998, p. 7: "I say that this, bhikkhus, is a certain body among the bodies, namely, respiration."], as perhaps supported by the Patisambhidamagga [Nanamoli, 1998, p. 75], the Visuddhimagga [1991, pp. 266–267], Nyanaponika [1965, pp. 109–110], and Brahm [2006, p. 84]) or the whole "flesh body" (as supported by Bhikkhu Bodhi's revised second translation of the sutta [in Nanamoli & Bodhi, 2001, see relevant footnote to MN 118], Buddhadasa [1988, p. 57], Goenka [1988, pp. 29–30], Nhat Hanh [1988, p. 26] and Rosenberg [1998, pp. 40, 43])
    I've spend some time experimenting with both methods of practice and i feel the difference in interpretations has serious implications for the direction and experience of the meditation. the [body of breath] interpretation seems to make more sense in my practical experience but the Suttas, specifically the jhana similes seem to paint a clear picture of the [flesh body]. Any input you have on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your time and help with this matter,

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