Help with a few Chinese characters (擊) please?


The following is from Bingenheimer - Studies in Agama Literature, p.68:
[in the beginning of the jhana sequence] 'he sits upright, his mind focused in front of him’
The note says " jinian zaiqian 擊念在前 , a mistake in the Taishō edition. 擊 should be xi 繫 . 繫 念 在 前 is the common translation for what in Pāli is parimukhaṃ satiṃ upaṭṭhapetvā."

Could someone tell me what the uncorrected original meaning was before Bingenheimer corrected it to the parimukham-equivalent?


by the SC Chinese lookup dictionary the character 繫 is recognized as jì and not xì, for example in SA 572

according to this dictionary the meaning differs depending on the pronunciation, and jì means to tie / to fasten / to button up

for rememrance is one of many and not the first in the list meanings, but it fits well with sati which must feature in the phrase

so my amateur constructed reading of the phrase would thus be something along the lines of ‘fixes mindfulness at the front’, the last two characters i believe i can translate without a dictionary


Thanks, I found that meaning of the single character, but have no idea of chinese at all. So if the corrected reading means: 'he sits upright, his mind focused in front of him’
would the uncorrected be: ‘he sits upright, his mind fixed in front of him’? (sorry if I can’t piece it together…)

I I ask about this phrase because parimukham is weird and I hoped to have a variant read in the Chinese agamas…


i now see i tried to respond to a question you hadn’t asked, my apology

the meaning of the 擊 character appears to be hardly compatible with the phrase expected import, so maybe before the normalization it simply didn’t make sense?

parimukham as far as i understand is translated as 在 前 (at the front) unaffected by normalizaton


Oh, I get it, the correction was not about the parimukha part, but the sati part? okay, maybe it didn’t make sense. It would be still nice if someone could piece it together - after all it survived for centuries in that version. Thanks so much!


Can I explain this character variant? and 繫 share a phonetic component; 毄, which indicates a collision. The bottom part indicates meaning. has 手, which means hand, i.e. you are hitting something with your hand. 繫 has 系, which means “thread” (it’s a picture of a reel of silk!), so it indicates “joining”. In summary 擊 =hitting, 繫 = joining. Similar sound, similar idea (collision), different precise semantic context. An easy mistake to make.


So it would mean ‘he sits upright, his mindfulness hitting in front of him’?


Something like that…from the words “a mistake in the Taisho edition”, it seems like the stem text had the correct reading and this is a 20th century editing error? I’m sure that others such as @llt would be able to clarify (I’m just a “carpenter at Lu Ban’s gate”).

What I meant is simply that it’s an easy typo to make.


[quote=“Gabriel, post:1, topic:3343”]
Could someone tell me what the uncorrected original meaning was before Bingenheimer corrected it to the parimukham-equivalent?
[/quote]It is difficult to say without more context…

擊念在前 means something like “hit/strike mind (or mindfulness/smṛti) in front [of]”

I do not mean to be contrarian at all as the definitions we find are largely congruent, but I found a few sources listing the reading of 繫 rather than , and they give the definition of 繫 as

1)to connect; to link
2) to arrest; to imprison
3) to be concerned about

and another dictionary, this one a designed specifically for Buddhist Chinese, gives these listings as plausible:

  1. (verb) to detain / to imprison
  2. (verb) to be concerned / to be mindful of
  3. (verb) to tie / to fasten
  4. (verb) to hang from / to suspend
  5. (verb) to connect / to relate
  6. (noun) a belt / a band
  7. (noun) a connection / a relation

@Gabriel, do you happen to know which āgama Bingenheimer quotes for this example?


Thanks! it’s about
T.100 - BZA 6 – Nanda 2 - Nanda is praised, an equivalent of
T.99 - ZA 0275, and
AN 8.9 Nanda

I’m pretty sure by now from contextual references that -mukha in this compound doesn’t mean mouth or face or front but ‘opening’ which would refer to the opening of the nose since this is where we usually breathe through. Since the Chinese translations don’t seem to carry this connotation it’s just another example for how original meanings went lost and were replaced by disconnected interpretations.


[quote=“Gabriel, post:10, topic:3343, full:true”]
Thanks! it’s about
T.100 - BZA 6 – Nanda 2 - Nanda is praised, an equivalent of
T.99 - ZA 0275, and
AN 8.9 Nanda[/quote]Ok, from this, I can see that the only recension that does the sequence of characters you indicated at the beginning is SA-2 6/BZA 6. The context of the passage, using Marcus Bingenheimer’s translation with some minor notes of little import from myself, is:

By day he wanders about calmly, by night he sits in meditation, dispelling the hindrances in his mind.

In the first part of the night, having washed his feet, he sits upright,

his mind focused in front of him, he enters the stages of concentrative meditation (jhāna)(“at the end of the early evening.” in the Chinese but is missing from this otherwise wonderfully accurate translation).

In the middle part of the night[,] he lies down on his right side, leg resting on leg.

His mind is focused on clarity (I would say “luminosity” but I’m not very familiar with the original), practicing mindfulness[, in the early morning?].

When the last part of the night begins, he again sits upright, his mind focused in front of him.

If we take 繫 to be read as “to be concerned about/to be mindful of”, than we get something like:

mindful[ness] [of] thought in front.

With this added context, the original uncorrected would mean “hitting/striking [the] thought [to the] front”. Not wrong per se, but seemingly violent (!).


excellent! thanks a lot for this detailed review!


This makes lots of sense actually. Whoever has ever slept in the wild knows that the best alarm clock is the dawn!

Not only light shows up but the whole nature around you wakes up and slowly calls you back from sleep.


Hi @Gabriel
擊念 leads to contemplating, observe, letting go; perhaps taking thought, consciousness as intermittent, pulsing.
Whereas 繫念 leads to converging, concentration, fixing; taking thought, consciousness as constant, continuous, permanent kind of understanding; that is how i would understand it.
One can not tie what is not constant, not continuous and not permanent to something else.

I can not remember who wrote ‘ambush’, which i think likely stem from 擊, though it is used to interpret vitakka.

As far as i read it, make sense to me.
擊 --> 入
繫 =/= --> 入
繫 unity of 2 entity with both individualistic remain.
擊 absorption (more violence it seems) with entering entity is dissolved.

於{後夜}{初} means beginning of 3rd part of the night which is 2~3am. 後夜 : 2am~6am.

And @Coemgenu , when you happen to see this in the future, be careful on 初夜 as it depends on the words before and after it;
三更{初夜}明前 would be wrong.
{三更初 } { 夜明前}
would refer to middle part of the night 11pm, a point when there is complete darkness.

Edit: my mistake, i remembered wrongly as 三更初夜明前, and taking it to described ASP16 step 12, a tipping point where luminosity of neighbourhood samadhi is about to be experienced.
The original should be {三更初夜}{月明前}


So would you say that the luminosity is then internal (as it is still pitch dark outside), something like Ganzfeld effect or Closed-eye Hallucinations?


Good question! I have not study hallucination, so hard to say and frankly i can not imagine what exactly is hallucination.

The image of phosphene is interesting. Looks like the scientist tries to take their experience of image that they see when they goes to sleep at night; presenting it in a ‘clearer’ netting image.

I’m not saying that it is not hallucinating, it could be when mistaken non parikamma nimitta as parikamma nimitta. But if one is already experience the luminosity of upacara samadhi, then the parikamma nimitta is no mistake, he has full mindfulness, taking it as a tool of the practice, does not cling on to it, so the hallucination is very very light one, and ‘hallucinating’ is good if it can be of good use.

This explanation does not explain stable parikamma nimitta that mimic the breath, but the term ‘hallucination’ does. But then, when one knows that he is hallucinating when he is hallucinating, how are we going to term this experience? Mindfully hallucinating perhaps, hmm…

Though the luminosity of neighbourhood samadhi is not bright, the source of it still should be from piti-sukha; frankly, i don’t know the details scientifically. If he is hallucinating, when he is mindfully looking for his eye, it’s not there; looking for his nose, it is not there; looking for his back pain, it is not there; concept of the eye, nose , pain not there. But if targeting certain specific point pressure receptor, it has response. Here we have environment of ‘hallucination’ and yet one can mindfully target specific physical senses; so scientifically, perhaps could be term as super non-clinging hallucination.

So luminosity should be internal. The brightness is not the same as looking through closed eye. In bright day light, looking thru closed eyes would see red colour. Light perceived in neighbourhood samadhi is not like that. Looking thru closed eyes in darkness, will have brightness only if we stare at light source such as mobile phone screen, then go to meditate, there will be white patch seen immediately (dark spot with eyes open under residue street lamp light into dark room). This nimitta, i don’t think is useful.


[quote=“gnlaera, post:13, topic:3343”]
This makes lots of sense actually. Whoever has ever slept in the wild knows that the best alarm clock is the dawn!
[/quote]The projected original was probably something closer to clarity, hence the translators decision. Remember when 明 shows up, it is still technically 中夜, the middle part of the night!

Like usual, 明 has tons of meanings depending on what sort of classical literature it pops into. It is good that studiers of āgamāḥ have the nikāyā (and vice-versa), because otherwise the sorts of English-language translations done of them would be as divergent as contemporary translations of the Dàodéjīng, especially given that 明 can sometimes also mean tomorrow, transparent, and understanding (which I think is what the translator chose to phrase as “clarity [of mind]”).[quote=“gnlaera, post:15, topic:3343, full:true”]
So would you say that the luminosity is then internal (as it is still pitch dark outside), something like Ganzfeld effect or Closed-eye Hallucinations?
[/quote]Its probably neither. The only reason I said luminous might be a decent translation is because 明 occasionally means bright/luminous in some of its other usage in other āgamāḥ, and because I am vaguely aware of something in Theravāda discourse called the “luminous mind”. The Pāli probably had something closer to “clear/clarity”. Incidentally, I was trying to look at the Pāli to try to see what guided the translator in these decisions, but I hit a bit of a snag.

I am a little confused by the Nikāya-parallel you offered. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the āgama. Is it only a partial parallel? Maybe I clicked on the wrong link.

LAST EDIT: Nevermind, I think I found the passage. What is a gigantic discourse highly replete with characteristic repetitions in the āgama is a considerably more succinct paragraph in the nikāya. It says [quote] After rising, in the last watch of the night, while walking back and forth and sitting, he purifies his mind of obstructive qualities.[/quote]The word being translated as “purifies” might be “parisodheti”. That definitely is closer to “clear mind” than “bright one”.


[quote=“James, post:18, topic:3343”]
在前 doesn’t mean " in front " .
[/quote]I can only imagine that perhaps Bingenheimer was translating using readings based on the Pāli, even if they may be unlikely or rare? Is this a possibility?


當前 dāngqián

當: 充任,擔任:充~。擔(dān)~
前: 指空間,人面所向的一面;房屋等正門所向的一面;…

For here and now “此时此地”, it would be “當下”

“擊念在前” is pretty straight forward, i assume that you understand Chinese, so perhaps explanation in 吉祥禅风集 pg 48 “一再出发的心” may help.