The Discourse about the
Ways of Attending to Mindfulness

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Contemplation of the Body

The Section about the Nine Charnel Grounds

The First Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, A charnel ground is a place where bodies were left on the ground, sometimes elevated ground, to be devoured by animals or birds. 19 dead for one day, or dead for two days, or dead for three days, bloated, discoloured, having become quite rotten. More exactly, vinīlaka means blue-coloured.20 He then compares it with his very own body (thinking): In most countries these days there are no charnel grounds and it is not so easy to find abandoned bodies to do this practice, so monks in Buddhist countries often visit morgues or dissection rooms in hospitals. If actual dead bodies are not available, it is always possible to use one's imagination. The point of the exercise is not morbidity, but insight, so a degree of spiritual maturity and stability should be established before attempting the practice, which should preferably be done under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Monks in the time of the Buddha who did this practice without guidance started killing themselves (see the opening to Pārājika III in the Vinaya Suttavibhaṅga).21 “This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The First Charnel Ground)

 

The Second Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, being eaten by crows, or being eaten by hawks, or being eaten by vultures, or being eaten by dogs, or being eaten by jackals, ChS has an expanded list, which includes herons, tigers, and leopards.22 or being eaten by various kinds of worms. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Second Charnel Ground)

 

The Third Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, a skeleton, with flesh and blood, bound together by tendons. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking): “This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Third Charnel Ground)

 

The Fourth Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, a skeleton, without flesh, smeared with blood, bound together by tendons. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Fourth Charnel Ground)

 

The Fifth Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, a skeleton, no longer having flesh and blood, bound together by tendons. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Fifth Charnel Ground)

 

The Sixth Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, with bones no longer bound together, scattered in all directions, Literally: scattered in the main and intermediate directions.23 with a hand-bone here, with a foot-bone there, with a knee-bone here, with a thigh-bone there, with a hip-bone here, with a bone of the back there, with the skull here. There are many variations in the lists given in the various editions here. BJT adds: ankle-bone; shoulder-bone; neck-bone and tooth-bone. ChS is different in content and order, and also in spelling in some cases: ankle-bone, rib-bone, shoulder-bone, neck-bone and jaw-bone. Similar variations occur in Only which adds: rib-bone, chest-bone, arm-bone, shoulder-bone, neck-bone, jaw-bone and tooth.24 He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Sixth Charnel Ground)

 

The Seventh Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, having white bones, like the colour of a conch. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Seventh Charnel Ground)

 

The Eighth Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, a heap of bones more than a year old. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Eighth Charnel Ground)

 

The Ninth Charnel Ground

Moreover, monks, it's as if a monk might see a body thrown into a charnel ground, rotten bones that have become like powder. He then compares it with his very own body (thinking):

“This body also has such a nature, has such a constitution, has not gone beyond this.”

* * *

Thus he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body in regard to himself and in regard to others, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of dissolution in the body, or he dwells contemplating the nature of origination and dissolution in the body, or else mindfulness that “there is a body” is established in him just as far as (is necessary for) a full measure of knowledge and a full measure of mindfulness, and he dwells independent, and without being attached to anything in the world.

In this way, monks, a monk dwells contemplating (the nature of) the body in the body.

(The Ninth Charnel Ground)

The Fourteen Contemplations of the Body are Finished