AN 5.28 - 'paccavekkhati' is 'view', or 'examine'?

It’s like when someone views someone else. Someone standing might view someone sitting, or someone sitting might view someone lying down.

Seyyathāpi, bhikkhave, aññova aññaṃ paccavekkheyya, ṭhito vā nisinnaṃ paccavekkheyya, nisinno vā nipannaṃ paccavekkheyya.

This part has never made much sense to me so I’ve been looking into it.
From the PED

Paccavekkhati: [paṭi+avekkhati] to look upon, consider, review, realise, contemplate

So here we see not merely about looking, but has this sense of review. Now looking at the etymology:

paṭi: directional prefix in well-defined meaning of “back (to), against, towards, in opposition to, opposite.”
avekkhati: to look at, to consider, to see

To me that gives a sense of comparing also, a kind of analysis. And so for this reason, I consider translating it here as ‘examine’, or you could even have in the kind of slang sense, 'check out’.

So then we would have:

It’s like when someone examines someone else. Someone standing might examine someone sitting, or someone sitting might examine someone lying down.

When I read it like this, I have the sense of how easy it is to examine someone sitting when you’re standing above them, checking them out. Same as when you’re sitting, looking at someone who’s lying down, as a doctor might for a patient, or a romantic lover to their partner. And, this gives me the sense of how it should be similarly plain and easy to examine mental objects/states in meditation, as plain and clear as that. And for me that gives an interesting meaning that I could not fathom from the translation with ‘view’.

What do you think?


Viewing from a height implies viewing from a larger context and therefore greater wisdom. As laity we bow to monastics, thereby acknowledging their greater view. From below we accept their gift of wisdom given from the larger context of their view from above.

As I just found out, the verb ‘viewing’ can also have the sense of inspecting:

Inspect (a house or other property) with the intention of possibly buying or renting it.
‘prospective buyers are requested to make an appointment to view the house’

I think I class as being a somewhat normal native English speaker. And I think that it is suitable for a translation to give the meaning it aims to, if at all possible in a very easy way, so that a normal reader can read it and understand the meaning. If the real meaning is contained in a more obscure and uncommon meaning of the word, this will therefore be generally not communicated to any ordinary reader.

I have viewed many houses and flats myself. And yet this side of the meaning of ‘view’ never occurred to me as the word occurs here, even when I had gained more understanding of the Pāli. Because I would never say nor hear anyone saying they will ‘view’ a person. Doctors are perhaps the most common people to look at a person in this sense, and we say they ‘examine’ the person. Also if you want to look at someone’s leg to see how it looks, you never say ‘let me view your leg’. You might say ‘let me look at your leg’, though ‘look at’ only conveys the meaning of examination here due to the context, while in this sutta, we do not have sufficient context for it to take on that meaning, and so it remains a very unspecific type of looking which may just be the same as saying ‘seeing’. So no, it would rather often be say ‘let me examine your leg’. One more option that would be common, is ‘inspect’.

Similarly if a man were to buy a slave, he might examine or inspect his body first. And so on.

I may be wrong in my understanding of the Pāli - if so, please someone tell me. How does anyone here feel, is this type of seeing the type which has some kind of ‘examining’ aspect? It’s the same sense I would have for ‘penetrating wisdom’, which is not the same as mere seeing - it has an active aspect, as the Pāli so far seems to me to have.

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Or, I wonder perhaps this addition of ‘visually’ might help to clarify that it is not a verbal examination:

It’s like when someone visually examines someone else. Someone standing might examine someone sitting, or someone sitting might examine someone lying down.

Examination and inspection are intrusive and judgemental. There is a notion of revealing for inspection and judgement. This is intention is less so in the context of doctors, but is quite definitely so in the context of examining and inspecting soldiers. Since examination and inspection imply intention, they become a bit awkward to use when a Noble One views a lay person. With intention there is a loss of equanimity.

The use of view in a translation can be read in the sense of “a bird’s eye view”. A bird soars above, equanimous to the world below. Of course, a hungry bird would have intention and the sense would change. But for the most part, the conventional use of “a bird’s eye view” or a “mountain view” is simply one of expanse and equanimity. This is actually my reading of the use of view in the OP.

continual self-examination and circumspection in taking any nourishment he may find to eat, reminding himself: “I eat this,seeking not…

Mat would you like to give some explanation if you are expressing some kind of view on this? Thanks.

Paccevekkhana is described as below:

O king, should the strenuous Bhikshu, earnest in effort, practise continual self-examination and circumspection in taking any nourishment he may find to eat…

The action thus performed is:

reminding himself: “I eat this, seeking not after pleasure, nor after excitement, nor after beauty of body, nor after elegance of form, but merely for the preservation of my body, to keep myself alive, as a means of appeasing the pain of hunger, and of assisting me in the practice of the higher life. Thus shall I put an end to all former sorrow, and give no cause for future sorrow to arise; therein shall I be free from blame, and dwell at ease.” This, O king, is the third of the qualities of the cock he ought to have.

Hard to see what you mean without the Pāli. And without you saying anything about your view on this or on what you’re referring to.

It’s right here, if you search:

mahārāja, kukkuṭo pathaviṃ khaṇitvā khaṇitvā ajjhohāraṃ ajjhoharati; evameva kho, mahārāja, yoginā yogāvacarena paccavekkhitvā paccavekkhitvā ajjhohāraṃ ajjhoharitabbaṃ ‘neva davāya na madāya na maṇḍanāya na vibhūsanāya, yāvadeva imassa kāyassa ṭhitiyā yāpanāya vihiṃsūparatiyā brahmacariyānuggahāya, iti purāṇañca vedanaṃ paṭihaṅkhāmi navañca vedanaṃ na uppādessāmi, yātrā ca me bhavissati anavajjatā ca phāsuvihāro cā’ti. Idaṃ, mahārāja, kukkuṭassa tatiyaṃ aṅgaṃ gahetabbaṃ. Bhāsitampetaṃ, mahārāja, bhagavatā SuttaCentral