XI. Concentration—Conclusion: Nutriment and the Elements

1 Perception of Repulsiveness in Nutriment

§1 [337/395] 341 Now comes the description of the development of the perception of repulsiveness in nutriment, which was listed as the “one perception” [47] next to the immaterial states (III.105).

Herein, it nourishes (āharati, lit. “brings on”), thus it is nutriment (āhāra, lit. “bringing on”). That is of four kinds as: physical nutriment, nutriment consisting of contact, nutriment consisting of mental volition, and nutriment consisting of consciousness. [48]

§2 [338/396] But what is it here that nourishes (brings on) what? Physical nutriment (kabaliṅkārāhāra) nourishes (brings on) the materiality of the octad that has nutritive essence as eighth: [49] contact as nutriment nourishes (brings on) the three kinds of feeling; mental volition as nutriment nourishes (brings on) rebirth-linking in the three kinds of becoming; consciousness as nutriment nourishes (brings on) mentality-materiality at the moment of rebirth-linking.

§3 Now, when there is physical nutriment there is attachment, which brings peril; when there is nutriment as contact there is approaching, which brings peril; when there is nutriment as mental volition there is rebirth-linking, which brings peril. [50] And to show how they bring fear thus, physical nutriment should be illustrated by the simile of the child’s flesh ( [S] II 98 ), contact as nutriment by the simile of the hideless cow ( [S] II 99 ), mental volition as nutriment by the simile of the pit of live coals ( [S] II 99 ), and consciousness as nutriment by the simile of the hundred spears ( [S] II 100 ).

§4 But of these four kinds of nutriment it is only physical nutriment, classed as what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted, that is intended here as “nutriment” in this sense. The perception arisen as the apprehension of the repulsive aspect in that nutriment is, “perception of repulsiveness in nutriment.”

§5 [339/397] One who wants to develop that perception of repulsiveness in nutriment should learn the meditation subject and see that he has no uncertainty about even a single word of what he has learnt. Then he should go into solitary retreat and 342 review repulsiveness in ten aspects in the physical nutriment classified as what is eaten, drunk, chewed, and tasted, that is to say, as to going, seeking, using, secretion, receptacle, what is uncooked (undigested), what is cooked (digested), fruit, outflow, and smearing.

§6 1. Herein, as to going: even when a man has gone forth in so mighty a dispensation, still after he has perhaps spent all night reciting the Enlightened One’s word or doing the ascetic’ s work, after he has risen early to do the duties connected with the shrine terrace and the Enlightenment-tree terrace, to set out the water for drinking and washing, to sweep the grounds and to see to the needs of the body, after he has sat down on his seat and given attention to his meditation subject twenty or thirty times [51] and got up again, then he must take his bowl and [outer] robe, he must leave behind the ascetics’ woods that are not crowded with people, offer the bliss of seclusion, possess shade and water, and are clean, cool, delightful places, he must disregard the Noble Ones’ delight in seclusion, and he must set out for the village in order to get nutriment, as a jackal for the charnel ground.

§7 And as he goes thus, from the time when he steps down from his bed or chair he has to tread on a carpet [52] covered with the dust of his feet, geckos’ droppings, and so on. Next he has to see the doorstep, [53] which is more repulsive than the inside of the room since it is often fouled with the droppings of rats, bats, [54] and so on. Next the lower terrace, which is more repulsive than the terrace above since it is all smeared with the droppings of owls, pigeons, [55] and so on. Next the grounds, [56] which are more repulsive than the lower floor since they are defiled by old grass and leaves blown about by the wind, by sick novices’ urine, excrement, spittle and snot, and in the rainy season by water, mud, and so on. And he has to see the road to the monastery, which is more repulsive than the grounds.

§8 [340/398] In due course, after standing in the debating lodge [57] when he has finished paying homage at the Enlightenment Tree and the shrine, he sets out thinking, “Instead of looking at the shrine that is like a cluster of pearls, and the Enlightenment Tree that is as lovely as a bouquet of peacock’s tail feathers, and the abode that is as fair as a god’s palace, I must now turn my back on such a charming place and go abroad for the sake of food;” and on the way to the village, the view of a road of stumps and thorns and an uneven road broken up by the force of water awaits him.

§9 Next, after he has put on his waist cloth as one who hides an abscess, and tied his waist band as one who ties a bandage on a wound, and robed himself in his upper robes as one who hides a skeleton, and taken out his bowl as one who takes out a pan for medicine, 343 when he reaches the vicinity of the village gate, perhaps the sight of an elephant’s carcass, a horse’s carcass, a buffalo’s carcass, a human carcass, a snake’s carcass, or a dog’s carcass awaits him, and not only that, but he has to suffer his nose to be assailed by the smell of them.

Next, as he stands in the village gateway, he must scan the village streets in order to avoid danger from savage elephants, horses, and so on.

§10 So this repulsive [experience] beginning with the carpet that has to be trodden on and ending with the various kinds of carcasses that have to be seen and smelled, [has to be undergone] for the sake of nutriment: “Oh, nutriment is indeed a repulsive thing!”

This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to going.

§11 2. How as to seeking? When he has endured the repulsiveness of going in this way, and has gone into the village, and is clothed in his cloak of patches, he has to wander in the village streets from house to house like a beggar with a dish in his hand. And in the rainy season wherever he treads his feet sink into water and mire up to the flesh of the calves. [58] He has to hold the bowl in one hand and his robe up with the other. In the hot season he has to go about with his body covered with the dirt, grass, and dust blown about by the wind. On reaching such and such a house door he has to see and even to tread in gutters and cesspools covered with blue-bottles and seething with all the species of worms, all mixed up with fish washings, meat washings, rice washings, spittle, snot, dogs’ and pigs’ excrement, and what not, from which flies come up and settle on his outer cloak of patches and on his bowl and on his head.

§12 And when he enters a house, some give and some do not. And when they give, some give yesterday’s cooked rice and stale cakes and rancid jelly, sauce and so on. [59] Some, not giving, say, “Please pass on, venerable sir,” others keep [341/399] silent as if they did not see him. Some avert their faces. Others treat him with harsh words such as: “Go away, you bald-head.” When he has wandered for alms in the village in this way like a beggar, he has to depart from it.

§13 So this [experience] beginning with the entry into the village and ending with the departure from it, which is repulsive owing to the water, mud, etc., that has to be trodden in and seen and endured, [has to be undergone] for the sake of nutriment: “Oh, nutriment is indeed a repulsive thing!”

This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to seeking. 344

§14 3. How as to using? After he has sought the nutriment in this way and is sitting at ease in a comfortable place outside the village, then so long as he has not dipped his hand into it he would be able to invite a respected bhikkhu or a decent person, if he saw one, [to share it]; but as soon as he has dipped his hand into it out of desire to eat he would be ashamed to say, “Take some.” And when he has dipped his hand in and is squeezing it up, the sweat trickling down his five fingers wets any dry crisp food there may be and makes it sodden.

§15 And when its good appearance has been spoilt by his squeezing it up, and it has been made into a ball and put into his mouth, then the lower teeth function as a mortar, the upper teeth as a pestle, and the tongue as a hand. It gets pounded there with the pestle of the teeth like a dog’s dinner in a dog’s trough, while he turns it over and over with his tongue; then the thin spittle at the tip of the tongue smears it, and the thick spittle behind the middle of the tongue smears it, and the filth from the teeth in the parts where a tooth-stick cannot reach smears it.

§16 When thus mashed up and besmeared, this peculiar compound now destitute of the [original] colour and smell is reduced to a condition as utterly nauseating as a dog’s vomit in a dog’s trough. Yet, notwithstanding that it is like this, it can still be swallowed because it is no longer in range of the eye’s focus.

This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to using.

§17 4. How as to secretion? Buddhas and Paccekabuddhas and Wheel-turning Monarchs have only one of the four secretions consisting of bile, phlegm, pus and blood, but those with weak merit have all four. So when [the food] has arrived at the stage of being eaten and it enters inside, then in one whose secretion of bile is in excess it becomes as utterly nauseating as if smeared with thick madhuka oil; in one whose secretion of phlegm in excess it is as if smeared with the juice of nāgabalā leaves; [60] in one whose secretion of pus is in excess it is as if smeared with rancid buttermilk; and in one whose secretion of blood is in excess it is as utterly nauseating as if smeared with dye. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to secretion.

§18 5. How as to receptacle? When it has gone inside the belly and is smeared with one of these secretions, then the receptacle it goes into is no gold dish or crystal or silver dish and so on. On the contrary, if it is swallowed by one ten years old, it finds itself in a place like a cesspit unwashed for ten years. 345 If it is swallowed by one twenty years old, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety [342/400] years old, if it is swallowed by one a hundred years old, it finds itself in a place like a cesspit unwashed for a hundred years. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to receptacle.

§19 6. How as to what is uncooked (undigested)? After this nutriment has arrived at such a place for its receptacle, then for as long as it remains uncooked it stays in that same place just described, which is shrouded in absolute darkness, pervaded by draughts, [61] tainted by various smells of ordure and utterly fetid and loathsome. And just as when a cloud out of season has rained during a drought and bits of grass and leaves and rushes and the carcasses of snakes, dogs and human beings that have collected in a pit at the gate of an outcaste village remain there warmed by the sun’s heat until the pit becomes covered with froth and bubbles, so too, what has been swallowed that day and yesterday and the day before remains there together, and being smothered by the layer of phlegm and covered with froth and bubbles produced by digestion through being fermented by the heat of the bodily fires, it becomes quite loathsome. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to what is uncooked.

§20 7. How as to what is cooked? When it has been completely cooked there by the bodily fires, it does not turn into gold, silver, etc., as the ores [62] of gold, silver, etc., do [through smelting]. Instead, giving off froth and bubbles, it turns into excrement and fills the receptacle for digested food, like brown clay squeezed with a smoothing trowel and packed into a tube, and it turns into urine and fills the bladder. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to what is cooked.

§21 8. How as to fruit? When it has been rightly cooked, it produces the various kinds of ordure consisting of head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, and the rest. When wrongly cooked it produces the hundred diseases beginning with itch, ring-worm, smallpox, leprosy, plague, consumption, coughs, flux, and so on. Such is its fruit. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to fruit.

§22 9. How as to outflow? On being swallowed, it enters by one door, after which it flows out by several doors in the way beginning, “Eye-dirt from the eye, ear-dirt from the ear” ( [Sn] 197 ). And on being swallowed it is swallowed even in the company of large gatherings. But on flowing out, now converted into excrement, urine, etc., it is excreted only in solitude. 346 On the first day one is delighted to eat it, elated and full of happiness and joy. On the second day one stops one’s nose to void it, with a wry face, disgusted and dismayed. And on the first day one swallows it lustfully, greedily, gluttonously, infatuatedly. But on the second day, after a single night has passed, one excretes it with distaste, ashamed, humiliated and disgusted. Hence the Ancients said:

§23

The food and drink so greatly prized—
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck—
Go in all by a single door,
But by nine doors come oozing out.
[343/401] The food and drink so greatly prized—
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck—
Men like to eat in company,
But to excrete in secrecy.
The food and drink so greatly prized—
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck—
These a man eats with high delight,
And then excretes with dumb disgust.
The food and drink so greatly prized—
The crisp to chew, the soft to suck—
A single night will be enough
To bring them to putridity.

This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to outflow.

§24 10. How as to smearing? At the time of using it he smears his hands, lips, tongue and palate, and they become repulsive by being smeared with it. And even when washed, they have to be washed again and again in order to remove the smell. And, just as, when rice is being boiled, the husks, the red powder covering the grain, etc., rise up and smear the mouth, rim and lid of the cauldron, so too, when eaten it rises up during its cooking and simmering by the bodily fire that pervades the whole body, it turns into tartar, which smears the teeth, and it turns into spittle, phlegm, etc., which respectively smear the tongue, palate, etc.; and it turns into eye-dirt, ear-dirt, snot, urine, excrement, etc., which respectively smear the eyes, ears, nose and nether passages. And when these doors are smeared by it, they never become either clean or pleasing even though washed every day. And after one has washed a certain one of these, the hand has to be washed again. [63] And after one has washed a certain one of these, the repulsiveness does not depart from it even after two or three washings with cow dung and clay and scented powder. This is how repulsiveness should be reviewed as to smearing.

§25 As he reviews repulsiveness in this way in ten aspects and strikes at it with thought and applied thought, physical nutriment 347 becomes evident to him in its repulsive aspect. He cultivates that sign [64] again and again, develops and [344/402] repeatedly practices it. As he does so, the hindrances are suppressed, and his mind is concentrated in access concentration, but without reaching absorption because of the profundity of physical nutriment as a state with an individual essence. But perception is evident here in the apprehension of the repulsive aspect, which is why this meditation subject goes by the name of “perception of repulsiveness in nutriment.”

§26 When a bhikkhu devotes himself to this perception of repulsiveness in nutriment, his mind retreats, retracts and recoils from craving for flavours. He nourishes himself with nutriment without vanity and only for the purpose of crossing over suffering, as one who seeks to cross over the desert eats his own dead child’s flesh ( [S] II 98 ). Then his greed for the five cords of sense desire comes to be fully understood without difficulty by means of the full understanding of the physical nutriment. He fully understands the materiality aggregate by means of the full-understanding of the five cords of sense desire. Development of mindfulness occupied with the body comes to perfection in him through the repulsiveness of “what is uncooked” and the rest. He has entered upon a way that is in conformity with the perception of foulness. And by keeping to this way, even if he does not experience the deathless goal in this life, he is at least bound for a happy destiny.

This is the detailed explanation of the development of the perception of repulsiveness in nutriment.

2 Defining of The Elements

2.1 Word Definitions

§27 Now comes the description of the development of the definition of the four elements, which was listed as the “one defining” next to the perception of repulsiveness in nutriment (III.105).

Herein, “defining” (vavatthāna) is determining by characterizing individual essences. [65] [The compound] catudhātuvavatthāna (“four-element defining”) is [resolvable into] catunnaṃ dhātūnaṃ vavatthānaṃ (“defining of the four elements”). “Attention given to elements,” “the meditation subject consisting of elements” and “defining of the four elements” all mean the same thing.

This is given in two ways: in brief and in detail. It is given in brief in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta ( [D] II 294 ), and in detail in the Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta ( [M] I 185 ), the Rāhulovāda Sutta ( [M] I 421 ), and the Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta ( [M] III 240 ).

2.2 Texts and Commentary in Brief

§28 [345/403] It is given in brief in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, for one of quick understanding whose meditation subject is elements, as follows: “Bhikkhus, just as though a skilled butcher or butcher’s apprentice had killed a cow and were seated at the crossroads 348 with it cut up into pieces, so too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reviews this body however placed, however disposed, as consisting of elements: In this body there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element” [66] ( [D] II 294 ).

§29 The meaning is this: just as though a clever butcher, or his apprentice who worked for his keep, had killed a cow and divided it up and were seated at the crossroads, reckoned as the intersection of the main roads going in the four directions, having laid it out part by part, so too a bhikkhu reviews the body, however placed because it is in some one of the four postures and however disposed because it is so placed, thus: In this body there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, and the air element.

§30 What is meant? Just as the butcher, while feeding the cow, bringing it to the shambles, keeping it tied up after bringing it there, slaughtering it, and seeing it slaughtered and dead, does not lose the perception “cow” so long as he has not carved it up and divided it into parts; but when he has divided it up and is sitting there, he loses the perception “cow” and the perception “meat” occurs; he does not think “I am selling cow” or “They are carrying cow away,” but rather he thinks “I am selling meat” or “They are carrying meat away”; so too this bhikkhu, while still a foolish ordinary person—both formerly as a layman and as one gone forth into homelessness—does not lose the perception “living being” or “man” or “person” so long as he does not, by resolution of the compact into elements, review this body, however placed, however disposed, as consisting of elements. But when he does review it as consisting of elements, he loses the perception “living being” and his mind establishes itself upon elements. That is why the Blessed One said: “Bhikkhus, just as though a skilled butcher … were seated at the crossroads … so too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu … air element.”

2.3 In Detail

§31 [346/404] In the Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta it is given in detail for one of not over-quick understanding whose meditation subject is elements—and as here so also in the Rāhulovāda and Dhātuvibhaṅga Suttas—as follows:

“And what is the internal earth element, friends? Whatever there is internally in oneself that is hard, harsh, [67] and clung to (acquired through kamma), that is to say, head hairs, body hairs, teeth, nails, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone marrow, kidney, heart, liver, midriff, spleen, lungs, bowels, entrails, gorge, dung, or whatever else there is internally in oneself that is hard, harsh, and clung to—this is called the internal earth element” ( [M] I 185 ). 349

And: “What is the internal water element, friends? Whatever there is internally in oneself that is water, watery, and clung to, that is to say, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, spittle, snot, oil of the joints, and urine, or whatever else there is internally in oneself that is water, watery, and clung to—this is called the internal water element” ( [M] I 187 ).

And: “What is the internal fire element, friends? Whatever there is internally in oneself that is fire, fiery, and clung to, that is to say, that whereby one is warmed, ages, and burns up, and whereby what is eaten, drunk, chewed and tasted gets completely digested, or whatever else there is internally in oneself that is fire, fiery, and clung to—this is called the internal fire element” ( [M] I 188 ).

And: “What is the internal air element, friends? Whatever there is internally in oneself that is air, airy, and clung to, that is to say, up-going winds, down-going winds, winds in the belly, winds in the bowels, winds that course through all the limbs, in-breath and out-breath, or whatever else there is internally in oneself that is air, airy, and clung to—this is called the internal air element” ( [M] I 188 ).

§32 Here is the commentary on the words that are not clear. Internally in oneself (ajjhattaṃ paccattaṃ): both these words are terms for what is one’s own (niyaka), since what is one’s own is what is produced in one’s own self (attani jātaṃ); the meaning is, included in one’s continuity (sasantati-pariyāpanna). This is called “internal” (ajjhanaṃ = adhi + attā, lit. “belonging-to-self”) because it occurs in self (attani—locative case) just as in the world, speech among women (itthīsu—loc. case) is called “[speech] belonging-to-women” (adhitthi). And it is called, “in oneself” (paccattaṃ) because it occurs owing to self (attānaṃ paṭicca). [68]

§33 Hard: rigid. Harsh: rough. Herein, the first is a word for the characteristic, while the second is a word for the mode; for the earth element is characterized as hard, but its mode is rough, which is why it is called “harsh.” Clung to: taken firmly [by kamma]; the meaning is, firmly taken, seized, adhered to, as “I,” “mine” (see §89f.).

§34 That is to say: the word seyyathidaṃ (“that is to say”) is a particle; its meaning is, “What is that?” Next, showing what that is, “head hairs, body hairs,” etc., is [347/405] said. And here the brain must be added since it has to be understood that the earth element needs to be described in twenty modes. Or whatever else: the earth element included in the remaining three portions.

§35 350 It flows (appoti), flows on (pappoti), to such and such a place as a state of streaming, thus it is water (āpo). The watery (āpo-gata) is what is gone (gata) among such various kinds of water (āpo) as the kamma-originated, and so on. What is that? It is what has the water element’s characteristic of cohesion.

§36 Fire (tejo) [is definable] as heating (tejana). The fiery (tejo-gata) is what is gone (gata), in the way already described, among the kinds of fire (tejo). What is that? It is what has the characteristic of heat. Whereby: by means of which the fire element, when excited, this body is warmed, becomes heated by the state of one-day fever, [69] and so on. Ages: whereby this body grows old, reaches the decline of the faculties, loss of strength, wrinkles, grayness, and so on. Burns up: whereby, when excited, it causes this body to burn, and the person cries out, “I am burning, I am burning!” and longs for ghee a hundred times washed and for gosīsa sandalwood ointment, etc., and for the breeze of a fan. And whereby what is eaten, drunk, chewed and tasted gets completely digested: whereby the boiled rice, etc., that is eaten, or the beverage, etc., that is drunk, or the hard food consisting of flour biscuits, etc., that is chewed, the mango fruit, honey, molasses, etc., that is tasted, gets completely cooked; gets its juice, etc., extracted, is the meaning. And here the first three kinds of fire element [that is to say, “is warmed,” “ages,” and “burns up”] are of fourfold origination (XX.27ff.), while the last is only kamma-originated.

§37 Air (vāyo) [is definable] as blowing (vāyana). The airy (vāyo-gata) is what is gone (gata), in the way already described, among the kinds of air. What is that? It is what has the characteristic of distension. [70] Upgoing winds: winds (forces) mounting upwards that cause the occurrence of vomiting, belching, and so on. Down-going winds: winds (forces) descending downwards that expel excrement and urine. Winds in the belly: winds (forces) outside the bowels. Winds in the bowels: winds (forces) inside the bowels. Winds that course through all the limbs: winds (forces) that produce flexing, extending, etc., and are distributed over the limbs and the whole body by means of the network of veins (nerves). In-breath: wind in the nostrils entering in. Out-breath: wind in the nostrils issuing out. And here the first five are of fourfold origination. In-breath and out-breath are consciousness-originated. 351 [348/406] In each instance the phrase or whatever else comprises respectively the water element, the fire element, or the air element included in the other three portions.

§38 So the four elements have been detailed in forty-two aspects, that is to say, the earth element in twenty aspects, the water element in twelve, the fire element in four, and the air element in six.

This, firstly, is the commentary on the texts here.

2.4 Method of Development in Brief

§39 As regards the method of development here, however, to discern the elements in detail in this way, “The head hairs are the earth element, the body hairs are the earth element,” appears redundant to a bhikkhu of quick understanding, though the meditation subject becomes clear to him if he gives his attention to it in this way: “What has the characteristic of stiffenedness is the earth element, what has the characteristic of cohesion is the water element, what has the characteristic of ripening (maturing) is the fire element, what has the characteristic of distending (supporting) is the air element.” But when one of not over-quick understanding gives his attention to it in this way, it appears obscure and unevident, and it only becomes plain to him if he gives his attention to it in the first-mentioned way. Why?

§40 Suppose two bhikkhus are reciting a text with many elided repetitions, then the bhikkhu with the quicker understanding fills out the elided repetitions once or twice, after which he goes on doing the recital with only the two end parts of the elisions. Here the one of less quick understanding says, “What is he reciting? Why, he does not even give one time to move one’s lips! If the recitation is done like this, when shall we ever get familiar with the text?” and so he does his recitation filling out each elision as it comes. Then the other says, “What is he reciting? Why, he never lets one get to the end of it! If the recitation is done like this; when shall we ever get to the end of it?” So too, the detailed discerning of the elements by head hairs, etc., appears redundant to one of quick understanding, though the meditation subject becomes clear to him if he gives his attention to it in brief in this way, “What has the characteristic of stiffenedness is the earth element,” and so on. But when the other gives his attention to it in this way, it appears obscure and unevident, and it only becomes plain to him if he gives his attention in detail by head hairs and so on.

§41 So firstly, one of quick understanding who wants to develop this meditation subject should go into solitary retreat. Then he should advert to his own entire material body and discern the elements in brief in this way: “In this body what is stiffenedness or harshness is the earth element, what is cohesion or fluidity [71] 352 is the water element, what is maturing (ripening) or heat is the fire element, what is distension or movement is the air element.” And he should advert and give attention to it and review it again and again as “earth element, water element,” that is to say, as mere elements, not a living being, and soulless.

§42 As he makes effort in this way it is not long before concentration arises in him, which is reinforced by understanding that illuminates the classification of [349/407] the elements, and which is only access and does not reach absorption because it has states with individual essences as its object.

§43 Or alternatively, there are these four [bodily] parts mentioned by the General of the Dhamma [the Elder Sāriputta] for the purpose of showing the absence of any living being in the four great primary elements thus: “When a space is enclosed with bones and sinews and flesh and skin, there comes to be the term ‘material form’ (rūpa)” ( [M] I 190 ). And he should resolve each of these [as a separate entity], separating them out by the hand of knowledge, and then discern them in the way already stated thus: “In these what is stiffenedness or harshness is the earth element.” And he should again and again advert to them, give attention to them and review them as mere elements, not a living being, not a soul.

§44 As he makes effort in this way, it is not long before concentration arises in him, which is reinforced by understanding that illuminates the classification of the elements, and which is only access and does not reach absorption because it has states with individual essences as its object.

This is the method of development when the definition of the elements is given in brief.

2.5 Method of Development in Detail

§45 The method given in detail should be understood in this way. A meditator of not over-quick understanding who wants to develop this meditation subject should learn the elements in detail in the forty-two aspects from a teacher, and he should live in an abode of the kind already described. Then, when he has done all the duties, he should go into solitary retreat and develop the meditation subject in four ways thus: (1) with constituents in brief, (2) with constituents by analysis, (3) with characteristics in brief, and (4) with characteristics by analysis.

2.5.1 (1) With Constituents in Brief

§46 Herein, how does he develop it with constituents in brief? Here a bhikkhu does his defining in this way, “In twenty of the parts what has the stiffened mode is the earth element,” and he does his defining thus, “In twelve parts the liquid called water with the mode of cohesion is the water element,” 353 and he does his defining thus, “In four parts what matures (what has the mode of ripening) is the fire element,” and he does his defining thus, “In six parts what has the mode of distending is the air element.” As he defines them in this way they become evident to him. As he again and again adverts to them and gives his attention to them, concentration arises as access only.

2.5.2 (2) With Constituents by Analysis

§47 However, if his meditation subject is not successful while he develops it in this way, then he should develop it with constituents by analysis. How? Firstly, the bhikkhu should carry out all the directions given for the thirty-two-fold aspect in the description of mindfulness occupied with the body as a meditation subject (VIII.4878), namely, the sevenfold skill in learning and the tenfold skill in giving [350/408] attention, and he should start with the verbal recitation, in direct and reverse order, of the skin pentad and so on, without omitting any of it. The only difference is this: there, after giving attention to the head hairs, etc., as to colour, shape, direction, location, and delimitation, the mind had to be fixed by means of repulsiveness (VIII.83), but here it is done by means of elements. Therefore at the end of each part after giving attention to head hairs, etc., each in the five ways beginning with colour (VIII.83), attention should be given as follows.

§48 These things called head hairs grow on the inner skin that envelops the skull. Herein, just as when kuṇṭha grasses grow on the top of an anthill, the top of the termite-mound does not know, “Kuṇṭha grasses are growing on me,” nor do the kuṇṭha grasses know, “We are growing on the top of a termite-mound,” so too, the inner skin that covers the skull does not know, “Head hairs grow on me,” nor do the head hairs know, “We grow on inner skin that envelops a skull.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what are called head hairs are a particular component of this body, without thought, [morally] indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid (stiffened) earth element.

§49 Body hairs grow on the inner skin that envelops the body. Herein, just as, when dabba grasses grow on the square in an empty village, the square in the empty village does not know*, “Dabba* grasses grow on me,” nor do the dabba grasses know, “We grow on the square in an empty village,” so too, the inner skin that envelops the body does not know, “Body hairs grow on me,” nor do the body hairs know, “We grow on inner skin that envelops a body.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what are called body hairs are a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§50 Nails grow on the tips of the fingers and toes. Herein, just as, when children play a game by piercing madhuka-fruit kernels with sticks, the sticks 354 do not know, “Madhuka-fruit kernels are put on us,” nor do the madhuka-fruit kernels know, “We are put on sticks,” so too, the fingers and toes do not know, “Nails grow on our tips,” nor do the nails know, “We grow on the tips of fingers and toes.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what are called nails are a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§51 Teeth grow in the jaw bones. Herein, just as, when posts are placed by builders in stone sockets and fastened with some kind of cement, [72] the sockets do not know, “Posts are placed in us,” nor do the posts know, “We are placed in sockets,” so too, the jaw bones do not know, “Teeth grow in us,” nor do the teeth know, “We grow in jaw bones’.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what are called teeth are a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§52 Skin is to be found covering the whole body. Herein, just as, when a big lute is covered with damp ox-hide, the lute does not know, “I am covered with damp ox-hide,” nor does the damp ox-hide know, “A lute is covered by me,” so too, the [351/409] body does not know, “I am covered by skin,” nor does the skin know, “A body is covered by me.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called skin is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§53 Flesh is to be found plastered over the framework of bones. Herein, just as, when a wall is plastered with thick clay, the wall does not know, “I am plastered with thick clay,” nor does the thick clay know, “A wall is plastered with me,” so too, the framework of bones does not know, “I am plastered with flesh consisting of nine hundred pieces of flesh,” nor does the flesh know, “A framework of bones is plastered with me.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called flesh is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§54 Sinews are to be found in the interior of the body binding the bones together. Herein, just as, when withies and sticks are bound together with creepers, the withies and sticks do not know 355 “We are bound together with creepers,” nor do the creepers know, “Withies and sticks are bound together by us,” so too, the bones do not know, “We are bound by sinews,” nor do the sinews know, “Bones are bound together by us.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what are called sinews are a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§55 As to the bones, the heel bone is to be found holding up the ankle bone, the ankle bone holding up the shin bone, the shin bone the thigh bone, the thigh bone the hip bone, the hip bone the backbone, the backbone the neck bone, and the neck bone is to be found holding up the cranium bone. The cranium bone rests on the neck bone, the neck bone on the backbone, the backbone on the hip bone, the hip bone on the thigh bone, the thigh bone on the shin bone, the shin bone on the ankle bone, the ankle bone on the heel bone.

§56 Herein, just as, when bricks, timber or [blocks of dried] cow dung are built up, those below do not know, “We each stand holding up those above us,” nor do those above know, “We each rest on those below us,” so too, the heel bone does not know, “I stand holding up the ankle bone,” nor does the ankle bone know, “I stand holding up the shin bone,” nor does the shin bone know, “I stand holding up the thigh bone,” nor does the thigh bone know, “I stand holding up the hip bone,” nor does the hip bone know, “I stand holding up the backbone,” nor does the backbone know, “I stand holding up the neck bone,” nor does the neck bone know, “I stand holding up the cranium bone,” nor does the cranium bone know, “I rest on the neck bone,” nor does the neck bone know, “I rest on the backbone,” nor does the backbone know, “I rest on the hip bone,” nor does the hip bone know, “I rest on the thigh bone,” nor does the thigh bone know, “I rest on the shin bone,” nor does the shin bone know, “I rest on the ankle bone,” nor does the ankle bone know, “I rest on the heel bone.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what are called bones 356 are a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§57 [352/410] Bone marrow is to be found inside the various bones. Herein, just as, when boiled bamboo sprouts, etc., are put inside bamboo joints, etc., the bamboo joints, etc., do not know, “Bamboo sprouts, etc., are put in us,” nor do the bamboo sprouts, etc., know, “We are inside bamboo joints, etc.,” so too, the bones do not know, “Marrow is inside us,” nor does the bone marrow know, “I am inside bones.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called bone marrow is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§58 Kidney is to be found on each side of the heart flesh, being fastened by the stout sinew that starts out with a single root from the base of the neck and divides into two after going a short way. Herein, just as, when a pair of mango fruits are bound together by their stalk, the stalk does not know, “A pair of mango fruits is bound together by me,” nor do the pair of mango fruits know, “We are bound together by a stalk,” so too, the stout sinew does not know, “Kidneys are bound together by me,” nor does the kidney know, “I am bound together by a stout sinew.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called kidney is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§59 Heart is to be found in the inside of the body near the middle of the frame of the ribs. Herein, just as, when a piece of meat is placed near the framework of an old cart, the inside of the framework of the old cart does not know, “A piece of meat is placed near the middle of me,” nor does the piece of meat know, “I am near the middle of the inside of the framework of an old cart,” so too, the inside of the framework of the ribs does not know, “A heart is near the middle of me,” nor does the heart know, “I am near the middle of the inside of a framework of ribs.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called heart is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§60 Liver is to be found inside the body, near the right side between the two breasts. Herein, just as, when a twin lump of meat is stuck on the side of a cooking pot, the side of the cooking pot does not know, “A twin lump of meat is stuck on me,” nor does the twin lump of meat know, 357 “I am stuck on the side of a cooking pot,” so too, the right side between the breasts does not know, “Liver is near me,” nor does the liver know, “I am near a right side between two breasts.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called liver is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§61 As to the midriff, the concealed midriff is to be found surrounding the heart and kidney, while the unconcealed midriff is to be found covering the flesh under the skin in the whole body. Herein, just as, when meat is wrapped in a rag, the meat does not know, “I am wrapped in a rag,” nor does the rag know, “Meat is wrapped in me,” so too, the heart and kidney, and the flesh in the whole body, do not know, “I am concealed by midriff,” nor does the midriff know, “Heart and kidney, and flesh in a whole body, are concealed by me.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called midriff is a particular [353/411] component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§62 Spleen is to be found near the upper side of the belly lining on the left side of the heart. Herein, just as, when a lump of cow dung is near the upper side of a barn, the upper side of the barn does not know, “A lump of cow dung is near me,” nor does the lump of cow dung know, “I am near the upper side of a barn,” so too, the upper side of the belly lining does not know, “Spleen is near me,” nor does the spleen know, “I am near the upper side of a belly lining.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called spleen is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§63 Lungs are to be found inside the body between the two breasts, hanging over the heart and liver and concealing them. Herein, just as when a bird’s nest is hanging inside an old barn, the inside of the old barn does not know, “A bird’s nest is hanging in me,” nor does the bird’s nest know, “I am hanging inside an old barn,” so too, 358 the inside of the body does not know, “Lungs are hanging in me,” nor do the lungs know, “We are hanging inside such a body.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called lungs is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§64 Bowel is to be found inside the body extending from the base of the neck to the excrement passage. Herein, just as, when the carcass of a large beheaded rat snake [73] is coiled up and put into a trough of blood, the red trough does not know, “A rat snake’s carcass has been put in me,” nor does the rat snake’s carcass know, “I am in a red trough,” so too, the inside of the body does not know, “A bowel is in me,” nor does the bowel know, “I am in a body.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called the bowel is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§65 Entrails are to be found in the interspaces between the twenty-one coils of the bowel, binding them together. Herein, just as, when ropes are found sewing together a rope ring for wiping the feet, the rope ring for wiping the feet does not know, “Ropes are to be found sewing me together,” nor do the ropes know, “We are to be found sewing together a rope ring,” so too, the bowel does not know, “Entrails are to be found binding me together,” nor do the entrails know, “We are to be found binding a bowel together.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called entrails is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§66 Gorge is what is eaten, drunk, chewed and tasted that lies in the stomach. Herein, just as, when a dog’s vomit lies in a dog’s bowl, the dog’s bowl does not know, “Dog’s vomit is lying in me,” nor does the dog’s vomit know, “I am lying [354/412] in a dog’s bowl,” so too, the stomach does not know, “Gorge is lying in me,” nor does the gorge know, “I am lying in a stomach.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called gorge is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§67 Dung is to be found at the end of the bowel, which resembles a bamboo joint eight fingerbreadths long and is called the “receptacle for digested food.” 359 Herein, just as, when soft brown clay is impacted in a bamboo joint, the bamboo joint does not know, “Brown clay is in me,” nor does brown clay know, “I am in a bamboo joint,” so too, the receptacle for digested food does not know, “Dung is in me,” nor does the dung know, “I am in a receptacle for digested food.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called dung is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§68 Brain is to be found in the interior of the skull. Herein, just as, when a lump of dough is put inside an old gourd rind, the gourd rind does not know, “A lump of dough is in me,” nor does the lump of dough know, “I am inside a gourd rind,” so too, the inside of the skull does not know, “Brain is in me,” nor does the brain know, “I am inside a skull.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called brain is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.

§69 As to bile, the free bile, which is bound up with the life faculty, is to be found soaking the whole body, while the local bile is to be found in the bile container (gall-bladder). Herein, just as, when oil has soaked a cake, the cake does not know, “Oil soaks me,” nor does the oil know, “I soak a cake,” so too, the body does not know, “Free bile soaks me,” nor does the free bile know, “I soak a body.” And just as, when a kosāṭakī (loofah) creeper bladder is filled with rain water, the kosāṭakī creeper bladder does not know, “Rain water is in me,” nor does the rain water know, “I am in a kosāṭakī creeper bladder,” so too, the bile bladder does not know, “Local bile is in me,” nor does the local bile know, “I am in a bile bladder.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called bile is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§70 Phlegm is to be found on the surface of the stomach and measures a bowlful. Herein, just as, when a cesspool has a surface of froth, the cesspool does not know, “A surface of froth is on me,” nor does the surface of froth 360 know, “I am on a cesspool,” so too, the surface of the stomach does not know, “Phlegm is on me” nor does the phlegm know, “I am on the surface of a stomach.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called phlegm is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§71 Pus has no fixed location. It is to be found wherever the blood stagnates and goes bad in a part of the body damaged by wounds caused by splinters and thorns, and by burns due to fire, or where boils, carbuncles, etc., appear. Herein, just as, when a tree oozes gum through being hit by, say, an axe, the parts of the [355/413] tree that have been hit do not know, “Gum is in us,” nor does the gum know, “I am in a part of a tree that has been hit,” so too, the parts of the body wounded by splinters, thorns, etc., do not know, “Pus is in us,” nor does the pus know, “I am in such places.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called pus is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§72 As to blood, the mobile blood is to be found, like the bile, soaking the whole body. The stored blood, is to be found filling the lower part of the liver’s site to the extent of a bowlful, wetting the kidney, heart, liver and lungs. Herein, the definition of the mobile blood is similar to that of the free bile. But as to the other, just as, when rain water seeps through an old pot and wets clods and stumps below, the clods and stumps do not know, “We are being wetted with water,” nor does the water know, “I am wetting clods and stumps,” so too, the lower part of the liver’s site, or the kidneys, etc., respectively do not know, “Blood is in me,” or “We are being wetted,” nor does the blood know, “I fill the lower part of a liver’s site, am wetting a kidney, and so on.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called blood is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§73 Sweat is to be found filling the openings of the pores of the head hairs and body hairs when there is heat due to fires, etc., and it trickles out of them. Herein, just as, when 361 bunches of lily bud stems and lotus stalks are pulled up out of water, the openings in the bunches of lilies, etc., do not know, “Water trickles from us,” nor does the water trickling from the openings in the bunches of lilies, etc., know, “I am trickling from openings in bunches of lilies, etc.,” so too, the openings of the pores of the head hairs and body hairs do not know, “Sweat trickles from us,” nor does the sweat know, “I trickle from openings of pores of head hairs and body hairs.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called sweat is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§74 Fat is the thick unguent to be found pervading the whole body of one who is stout, and on the shank flesh, etc., of one who is lean. Herein, just as, when a heap of meat is covered by a yellow rag, the heap of meat does not know, “A yellow rag is next to me,” nor does the yellow rag know, “I am next to a heap of meat,” so too, the flesh to be found on the whole body, or on the shanks, etc., does not know, “Fat is next to me,” nor does the fat know,”I am next to flesh on a whole body, or on the shanks, and so on.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called fat is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, thick-liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§75 Tears, when produced, are to be found filling the eye sockets or trickling out of them. Herein, just as, when the sockets of young palm kernels are filled with water, the sockets of the young palm kernels do not know, “Water is in us,” nor [356/414] does the water in the sockets of the young palm kernels know, “I am in sockets of young palm kernels,” so too, the eye sockets do not know, “Tears are in us,” nor do the tears know, “We are in eye sockets.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called tears is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§76 Grease is the melted unguent to be found on the palms and backs of the hands, on the soles and backs of the feet, on the nose and forehead and on the points of the shoulders, when heated by fire, and so on. Herein, just as, when rice gruel has oil put on it, the rice gruel does not know, “Oil is spread over me,” nor does the oil know, “I am spread over rice gruel,” so too, the place consisting of the palm of the hand, etc., 362 does not know, “Grease is spread over me,” nor does the grease know, “I am spread over places consisting of the palm of the hand, and so on.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called grease is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§77 Spittle is to be found on the surface of the tongue after it has descended from the cheeks on both sides, when there is a condition for the arising of spittle. Herein, just as, when a hollow in a river bank is constantly oozing with water, the surface of the hollow does not know, “Water lies on me,” nor does the water know, “I lie on the surface of a hollow,” so too, the surface of the tongue does not know, “Spittle that has descended from cheeks on both sides is on me,” nor does the spittle know, “I have descended from cheeks on both sides and am on the surface of a tongue.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called spittle is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§78 Snot, when produced, is to be found filling the nostrils or trickling out of them. Herein, just as, when a bag [74] is loaded with rotting curd, the bag does not know, “Rotting curd is in me,” nor does the rotting curd know, “I am in a bag,” so too, the nostrils do not know, “Snot is in us,” nor does the snot know, “I am in nostrils.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called snot is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§79 Oil of the joints is to be found in the hundred and eighty joints serving the function of lubricating the joints of the bones. Herein, just as, when an axle is lubricated with oil, the axle does not know, “Oil lubricates me,” nor does the oil know, “I lubricate an axle,” so too, the hundred and eighty joints do not know, “Oil of the joints lubricates us,” nor does the oil of the joints know, “I lubricate a hundred and eighty joints.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called oil of the joints is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§80 [357/415] Urine is to be found inside the bladder. Herein, just as, when a porous pot is put upside down in a cesspool, the porous pot does not know, “Cesspool filtrate is in me,” nor does the cesspool filtrate know, “I am in a porous pot,” so too, the bladder does not know, 363 “Urine is in me,” nor does the urine know, “I am in a bladder.” These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So what is called urine is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, liquid water element in the mode of cohesion.

§81 When he has given his attention in this way to the body hairs, etc., he should then give his attention to the [four] fire components thus: That whereby one is warmed—this is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being; it is fire element in the mode of maturing (ripening).

That whereby one ages …

That whereby one burns up …

That whereby what is eaten, drunk, chewed and tasted becomes completely digested—this is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being; it is fire element in the mode of maturing (ripening).

§82 After that, having discovered the up-going winds (forces) as upgoing, the down-going winds (forces) as down-going, the winds (forces) in the belly as in the belly, the winds (forces) in the bowels as in the bowels, the winds (forces) that course through all the limbs as coursing through all the limbs, and in-breath and out-breath as in-breath and out-breath, he should give his attention to these [six] air components in this way: What is called up-going winds (forces) is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being; it is air element in the mode of distending.

What is called down-going winds (forces)

What is called winds (forces) in the belly

What is called winds (forces) in the bowels

What is called winds (forces) that course through all the limbs

What is called in-breath and out-breath is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being; it is air element in the mode of distending.

§83 As he gives his attention in this way the elements become evident to him. As he adverts and gives attention to them again and again access concentration arises in him in the way already described.

2.5.3 (3) With Characteristics in Brief

§84 But if his meditation subject is still not successful when he gives his attention to it in this way, then he should develop it with characteristics in brief. How? In the twenty components the characteristic of stiffenedness should be defined as the earth element, and the characteristic of cohesion, which is there too, as the water element, and the characteristic of maturing (ripening), which is there too, as the fire element, and the characteristic of distension, which is there too, as the air element. In the twelve components the characteristic of cohesion should be defined as the water [358/416] element, the characteristic of maturing (ripening), which is there too, as the fire element, the characteristic of distension, which is there too, as the air element, and the characteristic of stiffenedness, which is there too, as the earth element. In the four components the characteristic of maturing (ripening) should be defined as the fire element, the characteristic of distension unresolvable (inseparable) from it as the air element, 364 the characteristic of stiffenedness as the earth element, and the characteristic of cohesion as the water element. In the six components the characteristic of distension should be defined as the air element, the characteristic of stiffenedness there too as the earth element, the characteristic of cohesion as the water element, and the characteristic of maturing (ripening) as the fire element.

As he defines them in this way the elements become evident to him. As he adverts to them and gives attention to them again and again access concentration arises in him in the way already stated.

2.5.4 (4) With Characteristics by Analysis

§85 However, if he still does not succeed with his meditation subject when he gives his attention to it in this way, then he should develop it with characteristics by analysis. How? After discerning head hairs, etc., in the way already described, the characteristic of stiffenedness in head hairs should be defined as the earth element, the characteristic of cohesion there too as the water element, the characteristic of maturing (ripening) as the fire element, and the characteristic of distension as the air element. The four elements should be defined in this way in the case of each component.

As he defines them in this way the elements become evident to him. As he adverts and gives attention to them again and again access concentration arises in him in the way already described.

2.6 Additional Ways of Giving Attention

§86 In addition, attention should be given to the elements in the following ways: (1) as to word meaning, (2) by groups, (3) by particles, (4) by characteristic, etc., (5) as to how originated, (6) as to variety and unity, (7) as to resolution (separability) and non-resolution (inseparability), (8) as to the similar and the dissimilar, (9) as to distinction between internal and external, (10) as to inclusion, (11) as to condition, (12) as to lack of conscious reaction, (13) as to analysis of conditions.

§87 1. Herein, one who gives his attention to them as to word meaning should do so separately and generally thus: [separately] it is earth (pathavī) because it is spread out (patthaṭa); it flows (appoti) or it glides (āpiyati) or it satisfies (appāyati), thus it is water (āpo); it heats (tejati), thus it is fire (tejo); it blows (vāyati), thus it is air (vāyo). But without differentiation they are elements (dhātu) because of bearing (dhāraṇa) their own characteristics, because of grasping (ādāna) suffering, and because of sorting out (ādhāna) suffering (see XV.19). [75] This is how they should be given attention as to word meaning.

§88 [359/417] 2. By groups: there is the earth element described under the twenty aspects (modes) beginning with head hairs, body hairs, and also the water element described under the twelve (modes) aspects beginning with bile, phlegm, etc. Now, as to these:

Colour, odour, taste, and nutritive
Essence, and the four elements—
From combination of these eight
There comes the common usage head hairs;
And separately from these eight [76]
There is no common usage head hairs.

Consequently, head hairs are only a mere group of eight states. Likewise, body hairs, 365 and the rest. A component here that is kamma-originated is a group of ten states, [that is to say, the former eight] together with the life faculty and sex. But it is on account of respective prominence [of stiffenedness or cohesion] that it comes to be styled “earth element” or “water element.” This is how they should be given attention to “by groups.”

§89 3. By particles: in this body the earth element taken as reduced to fine dust and powdered to the size of the smallest atom [77] might amount to an average doṇa measure full; and that is held together [78] by the water element measuring half as much. Being maintained [79] by the fire element, and distended by the air element, it does not get scattered or dissipated. Instead of getting scattered or dissipated, it arrives at the alternative states of the female and male sex, etc., and manifests smallness, bigness, length, shortness, toughness, rigidity, and so on.

§90 [360/418] The liquid water element that is the mode of cohesion, being founded on earth, maintained by fire, and distended by air, does not trickle or run away. [80] Instead of trickling or running away it provides continued refreshments. [81]

§91 And here the fire element that cooks what is eaten, drunk, etc., and is the mode of warming and has the characteristic of heat, being established on earth, held together by water, and distended by air, maintains this body and ensures its proper appearance. And this body, being maintained by it, shows no putrefaction.

§92 The air element that courses through all the limbs and has the characteristic of moving and distending, being founded upon earth, held together by water, and maintained by fire, distends this body. And this body, being distended by the latter kind of air, does not collapse, but stands erect, and being propelled [82] by the other [motile] air, it shows intimation and it flexes and extends and it wriggles the hands and feet, doing so in the postures comprising of walking, standing, sitting and lying down. So this mechanism of elements carries on like a magic trick, deceiving foolish people with the male and female sex and so on.

This is how they should be given attention by particles.

§93 4. As to characteristic, etc.: he should advert to the four elements in this way: “The earth element—what are its characteristic, function, manifestation?” [defining them in this way]: The earth element has the characteristic of hardness. Its function is to act as a foundation. It is manifested as receiving. The water element has the characteristic of trickling. Its function is to intensify. It is manifested as holding together. The fire element has the characteristic of heat. Its function is to mature (maintain). It is manifested as a continued supply of softness. The air element has the characteristic of distending. Its function is to cause motion. It is manifested as conveying. [83] This is how they should be given attention to by characteristic, and so on. 366

§94 5. As to how originated: among the forty-two components beginning with head hairs shown in the detailed treatment of the earth element, etc., the four consisting of gorge, dung, pus, and urine are temperature-originated only; the four consisting of tears, sweat, spittle, and snot are temperature-originated and consciousness-originated only. The fire that cooks what is eaten, etc., is kamma-originated only; in-breath and out-breath are consciousness-originated only; all [361/419] the rest are of fourfold origination. This is how they should be given attention as to how originated.

§95 6. As to variety and unity: there is variety in the specific characteristics, etc., of all the elements; for the characteristic, function, and manifestation of the earth element is one, and those of the water element, etc., are different. But there is unity in them as materiality, great primary, element, state (dhamma), impermanence, etc., notwithstanding the fact that they are various according to [specific] characteristic, etc., and according to origination by kamma and so on.

§96 All these elements are “instances of materiality” (rūpāni) because they do not exceed the characteristic of “being molested” (ruppana). They are “great primaries” (mahābhūta) by reason of “great manifestation,” and so on. “By reason of ‘great manifestation,’ and so on” means that these elements are called “great primaries” for the following reasons, namely: (a) manifestation of greatness; (b) likeness to great creatures; (c) great maintenance; (d) great alteration; and (e) because they are great and because they are entities.

§97 Herein, (a) manifestation of greatness: they are manifested as great both in a continuity that is not clung to (acquired through kamma) and in a continuity that is clung to. For their manifestation of greatness in a continuity that is not clung to is given in the description of the recollection of the Buddha in the way beginning:

Two times a hundred thousand [leagues]
And then four nahutas as well:
This earth, this “bearer of all wealth,”
Has that much thickness, as they tell (VII.41).

And they are manifested on a great scale also in a continuity that is clung to, for instance, in the bodies of fishes, turtles, deities, Dānava demons, and so on. For this is said: “Bhikkhus, there are individual creatures of a hundred leagues in the great ocean” ( [A] IV 207 ), and so on.

§98 (b) Likeness to great creatures: just as a magician turns water that is not crystal into crystal, and turns a clod that is not gold into gold, and shows them, and being himself neither a spirit nor a bird, shows himself as a spirit or a bird, so too, being themselves not blue-black, they turn themselves into blue-black derived materiality, being themselves not yellow … not red … not white, 367 they turn themselves into white derived materiality and show that. In this way they are “great primaries” (mahābhūta) in being like the great creatures (mahābhūta) of a magician. [84]

§99 [362/420] And just as, whomsoever the great creatures such as the spirits (yakkha) grasp hold of (possess), they have no standing place either inside him or outside him and yet they have no standing independently of him, so too, these elements are not found to stand either inside or outside each other yet they have no standing independently of one another. Thus they are also great primaries (mahābhūta) in being equal to the great creatures (mahābhūta) such as the spirits because they have no thinkable standing place [relative to each other].

§100 And just as the great creatures known as female spirits (yakkhinī) conceal their own fearfulness with a pleasing colour, shape and gesture to deceive beings, so too, these elements conceal each their own characteristic and function classed as hardness, etc., by means of a pleasing skin colour of women’s and men’s bodies, etc., and pleasing shapes of limbs and pleasing gestures of fingers, toes and eyebrows, and they deceive simple people by concealing their own functions and characteristics beginning with hardness and do not allow their individual essences to be seen. Thus they are great primaries (mahābhūta) in being equal to the great creatures (mahābhūta), the female spirits, since they are deceivers.

§101 (c) Great maintenance: this is because they have to be sustained by the great requisites. For these elements are great primaries (mahābhūta) since they have become (bhūta), have occurred, by means of the food, clothing, etc., which are great (mahant) [in importance] because they have to be found every day. Or alternatively, they are great primaries (mahābhūta) since they are primaries whose maintenance is great.

§102 (d) Great alteration: the unclung-to and the clung-to are the [basis of] great alterations. Herein, the great alteration of the unclung-to evidences itself in the emergence of an aeon (see XIII.34), and that of the clung-to in the disturbance of the elements [in the body]. For accordingly:

The conflagration’s flame bursts up
Out of the ground and races higher
And higher, right to the Brahmā heaven,
When the world is burnt up by fire.
A whole world system measuring
One hundred thousand millions wide
Subsides, as with its furious waters
The flood dissolves the world beside.
[363/421] One hundred thousand million leagues,
A whole world system’s broad extent
Is rent and scattered, when the world
Succumbs to the air element.
The bite of wooden-mouths can make
The body stiff; to all intent,
When roused is its earth element,
It might be gripped by such a snake.
The bite of rotten-mouths can make
The body rot; to all intent,
When roused its water element,
It might be gripped by such a snake. 368
The bite of fiery-mouths can make
The body burn; to all intent,
When roused is its fire element,
It might be gripped by such a snake.
The bite of dagger-mouths can make
The body burst; to all intent,
When roused is its air element,
It might be gripped by such a snake.

So they are great primaries (mahābhūta) because they have become (bhūta) [the basis of] great (mahant) alteration.

§103 (e) Because they are great and because they are entities: “great” (mahant) because they need great effort to discern them, and “entities” (bhūta = become) because they are existent; thus they are great primaries (mahābhūta) because they are great (mahā) and because they are entities (bhūta).

This is how all these elements are “great primaries” by reason of “great manifestation,” and so on.

§104 Again, they are elements (dhātu) because of bearing (dhāraṇa) their own characteristics, because of grasping (ādāna) suffering, and because of sorting out (ādhāna) suffering (see XV.19), and because none of them are exempt from the characteristic of being elements.

They are states (dhamma) owing to bearing (dhāraṇa) their own characteristics and owing to their so bearing (dhāraṇa) for the length of the moment appropriate to them. [85] They are impermanent in the sense of [liability to] destruction; they are painful in the sense of [causing] terror; they are not self in the sense of having no core [of permanence, and so on]. Thus there is unity of all since all are materiality, great primaries, elements, states, impermanent, and so on.

This is how they should be given attention “as to variety and unity.”

§105 7. As to resolution (separability) and non-resolution (inseparability): they are positionally unresolvable (inseparable) since they always arise together in every [364/422] single minimal material group consisting of the bare octad and the others; but they are resolvable (separable) by characteristic. This is how they should be given attention “as to resolution (separability) and non-resolution (inseparability).”

§106 8. As to the similar and dissimilar: and although they are unresolved (inseparable) in this way, yet the first two similar in heaviness, and so are the last two in lightness; but [for this reason] the first two are dissimilar to the last two and the last two to the first two. This is how they should be given attention “as to the similar and dissimilar.”

§107 9. As to distinction between internal and external: the internal elements are the [material] support for the physical bases of consciousness, for the kinds of intimation, and for the material faculties. They are associated with postures, and they are of fourfold origination. The external elements are of the opposite kind. This is how they should be given attention “as to distinction between internal and external.”

§108 10. As to inclusion: kamma-originated earth element is included together with the other kamma-originated elements because there is no difference in their origination. Likewise the consciousness-originated is included together with other consciousness-originated elements. This is how they should be given attention “as to inclusion.”

§109 11. As to condition: the earth element, which is held together by water, maintained by fire and distended by air, is a condition for the other three great primaries by acting as their foundation. The water element, which is founded on earth, maintained by fire and distended by air, is a condition for the other three great primaries by acting as their cohesion. The fire element, which is founded on earth, held together by water 369 and distended by air, is a condition for the other three great primaries by acting as their maintaining. The air element, which is founded on earth, held together by water, and maintained by fire, is a condition for the other three great primaries by acting as their distension. This is how they should be given attention “as to condition.”

§110 12. As to lack of conscious reaction: here too the earth element does not know, “I am the earth element” or “I am a condition by acting as a foundation for three great primaries.” And the other three do not know, “The earth element is a condition for us by acting as a foundation for three great primaries.” And the other three do not know, “The earth element is a condition for us by acting as our foundation.” And similarly in each instance. This is how they should be given attention “as to lack of conscious reaction.”

§111 13. As to analysis of conditions: there are four conditions for the elements, that is to say, kamma, consciousness, nutriment, and temperature.

Herein, kamma only is the condition for the kamma-originated [elements]; consciousness (citta), etc. [i.e. nutriment and temperature] are not. Consciousness, etc., only are the conditions for the consciousness-originated [elements]; the others are not. Kamma is the producing condition [86] for the kamma-originated [365/423] elements; for the rest it is indirectly the decisive-supportive condition. [87] Consciousness is the producing condition for the consciousness-originated elements; for the rest it is the post-nascence condition, presence condition and non-disappearance condition. Nutriment is the producing condition for the nutriment-originated elements; for the rest it is the nutriment condition, presence condition and non-disappearance condition. Temperature is the productive condition for the temperature-originated elements; for the rest it is the presence condition and non-disappearance condition.

Herein, the kamma-originated great primary is the condition for the kamma-originated great primaries, and also for the consciousness-originated [great primaries]. Likewise are the consciousness-originated [great primary] and the nutriment originated [great primary]. The temperature-originated great primary is the condition for the temperature-originated great primaries, and also for the kamma-originated [great primaries], and so on (cf. XX.27f.).

§112 Herein, the kamma-originated earth element is a condition for the other kamma-originated elements both as conascence, mutuality, support, presence, and non-disappearance conditions and as foundation, but not as producing condition. It is a condition for the other [three] great primaries in a triple continuity (see XX.22) as support, presence and non-disappearance conditions, but not as foundation or producing condition. And here the water element is a condition for the remaining three elements both as conascence, etc., conditions and as cohesion, but not as producing condition. And for the others in a triple continuity it is a condition as support, presence, and non-disappearance conditions too, but not as cohesion or producing condition. And the fire element here is a condition for the other three elements both as conascence, etc., conditions and as maintaining but not as producing condition. And for the others in a triple continuity it is a condition as support, presence, and non-disappearance conditions too, but not as maintaining or producing condition. And the air element here is a condition for the other three elements 370 both as conascence, etc., conditions and as distension, but not as producing condition. And for the others in a triple continuity it is a condition as support, presence, and non-disappearance conditions too, but not as distension or producing condition.

§113 The same method applies in the case of the consciousness-originated, the nutriment-originated, and the temperature-originated earth element, and the rest. And when these elements have been made to occur through the influence of the conascence, etc., conditions:

[366/424] With three in four ways to one due,
And likewise with one due to three;
With two in six ways due to two—
Thus their occurrence comes to be.

§114 Taking each one, beginning with earth, there are three others whose occurrence is due to that one, thus with three due to one their occurrence takes place in four ways. Likewise each one, beginning with earth, occurs in dependence on the other three, thus with one due to three their occurrence takes place in four ways. But with the last two dependent on the first two, with the first two dependent on the last two, with the second and fourth dependent on the first and third, with the first and third dependent on the second and fourth, with the second and third dependent on the first and fourth, and with the first and fourth dependent on the second and third, they occur in six ways with two elements due to two.

§115 At the time of moving forward and moving backward ( [M] I 57 ), the earth element among these is a condition for pressing. That, seconded by the water element, is a condition for establishing on a foundation. But the water element seconded by the earth element is a condition for lowering down. The fire element seconded by the air element is a condition for lifting up. The air element seconded by the fire element is a condition for shifting forwards and shifting sideways (see XX.62f. and [M-a] I 160 ).

This is how they should be given attention “as to analysis of conditions.”

§116 As he gives his attention to them “as to word meaning,” etc., in this way, the elements become evident to him under each heading. As he again and again adverts and gives attention to them access concentration arises in the way already described. And this concentration too is called “definition of the four elements” because it arises in one who defines the four elements owing to the influence of his knowledge.

§117 This bhikkhu who is devoted to the defining of the four elements immerses himself in voidness and eliminates the perception of living beings. Since he does not entertain false notions about wild beasts, spirits, ogres, etc., because he has abolished the perception of living beings, he conquers fear and dread and conquers delight and aversion (boredom); he is not exhilarated or depressed [88] by agreeable and disagreeable things; and as one of great understanding, he either ends in the deathless or he is bound for a happy destiny.

Defining the four elements
Is ever the wise man’s resort;
The noble meditator lion [89]
Will make this mighty theme his sport.

This is the description of the development of the defining of the four elements. 371

3 Development of Concentration—Conclusion

§118 [367/425] This completes in all its aspects the commentary on the meaning of the clause, “How should it be developed?” in the set of questions beginning with “What is concentration?” which was formulated in order to show the method of development of concentration in detail (see III.1).

§119 This concentration as intended here is twofold, that is to say, access concentration and absorption concentration. Herein, the unification [of mind] in the case of ten meditation subjects and in the consciousness preceding absorption [in the case of the remaining meditation subjects] [90] is access concentration. The unification of mind in the case of the remaining meditation subjects is absorption concentration. And so it is developed in two forms with the development of these meditation subjects. Hence it was said above: “This completes in all its aspects the commentary on the meaning of the clause, ‘How should it be developed?’”

3.1 The Benefits of Developing Concentration

§120 The question, (viii) what are the benefits of the development of concentration? was also asked, however (III.1). Herein, the benefits of the development of concentration are fivefold, as a blissful abiding here and now, and so on. For the development of absorption concentration provides the benefit of a blissful abiding here and now for the Arahants with cankers destroyed who develop concentration, thinking, “We shall attain and dwell with unified mind for a whole day.” Hence the Blessed One said: “But, Cunda, it is not these that are called effacement in the Noble Ones’ discipline; these are called blissful abidings in the Noble Ones’ discipline” ( [M] I 40 ).

§121 When ordinary people and trainers develop it, thinking, “After emerging, we shall exercise insight with concentrated consciousness,” the development of absorption concentration provides them with the benefit of insight by serving as the proximate cause for insight, and so too does access concentration as a method of arriving at wide open [conditions] in crowded [circumstances]. [91] Hence the Blessed One said: “Bhikkhus, develop concentration; a bhikkhu who is concentrated understands correctly” ( [S] III 13 ).

§122 But when they have already produced the eight attainments and then, aspiring to the kinds of direct-knowledge described in the way beginning, “Having been one, he becomes many” (XII.2), they produce them by entering upon jhāna as the basis for direct-knowledge and emerging from it, then the development of absorption concentration provides for them the benefit of the kinds of direct-knowledge, since it becomes the proximate cause for the kinds of direct-knowledge whenever there is an occasion. Hence the Blessed One said: [368/426] “He attains the ability to be a witness, through realization by direct-knowledge, of any state realizable by direct-knowledge to which his mind inclines, whenever there is an occasion” ( [M] III 96 ; [A] I 254 ). 372

§123 When ordinary people have not lost their jhāna, and they aspire to rebirth in the Brahmā-world thus, “Let us be reborn in the Brahmā-world,” or even though they do not make the actual aspiration, then the development of absorption concentration provides them with the benefits of an improved form of existence since it ensures that for them. Hence the Blessed One said: “Where do they reappear after developing the first jhāna limitedly? They reappear in the company of the deities of Brahmā’s Retinue” ( [Vibh] 424 ), and so on. And even the development of access concentration ensures an improved form of existence in the happy destinies of the sensual sphere.

§124 But when Noble Ones who have already produced the eight attainments develop concentration, thinking, “We shall enter upon the attainment of cessation, and by being without consciousness for seven days we shall abide in bliss here and now by reaching the cessation that is Nibbāna,” then the development of absorption concentration provides for them the benefit of cessation. Hence it is said: “Understanding as mastery owing to … sixteen kinds of behaviour of knowledge, and to nine kinds of behaviour of concentration, is knowledge of the attainment of cessation” ( [Paṭis] I 97 ; see Ch. XXIII, 18f.).

§125 That is how this benefit of the development of concentration is fivefold as a blissful abiding here and now, and so on.

So wise men fail not in devotion
To the pursuit of concentration:
It cleans defiling stains’ pollution, [92]
And brings rewards past calculation.

§126 And at this point in the Path of Purification, which is taught under the headings of virtue, concentration and understanding in the stanza, “When a wise man, established well in virtue …,” concentration has been fully explained.

The eleventh chapter concluding “The Description of Concentration” in the Path of Purification composed for the purpose of gladdening good people.

Footnotes