SuttaCentral

How to tranquillize bodily and mental formations


#1

Read and understood it differently when explained by different teachers what really are
Bodily formations - heat, cold, pain ?
Mental formations - thoughts, perception, will?

MN118 says below in two different translations, how do you practically still or tranquillize these formations? - By peace, by enduring pain, changing postures or objects or other ways?

“ They practice breathing in stilling the body’s motion. They practice breathing out stilling the body’s motion.

‘पस्सम्भयं कायसङ्खारं अस्ससिस्सामी’ति सिक्खति, ‘पस्सम्भयं कायसङ्खारं पस्ससिस्सामी’ति सिक्खति. (1)

he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body of breath.’ He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the bodily formation’

They practice breathing in stilling these emotions. They practice breathing out stilling these emotions.

‘पस्सम्भयं चित्तसङ्खारं अस्ससिस्सामी’ति सिक्खति, ‘पस्सम्भयं चित्तसङ्खारं पस्ससिस्सामी’ति सिक्खति. (2)

He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the mental formation.’“


#2

In simple terms, I think it means that when the body relaxes, then the mind relaxes too.


#3

No no, it clearly says they practice and train here so there’s a will and effort involved which seems followed by relaxation of body and mind


#4

This might help!


#5

Sure, it’s a practice. Relaxing the breath relaxes the body, which in turn relaxes the mind.


#6

Guhatthaka Sutta: The Cave of the Body

Satto guhāyaṃ bahunābhichanno,
Tiṭṭhaṃ naro mohanasmiṃ pagāḷho;
Dūre vivekā hi tathāvidho so

Staying attached to the cave,
covered heavily over[1],
a person sunk in confusion is far from seclusion

[1] “Covered heavily over” with defilements and unskillful mental qualities.

For me it’s about letting go of the body.


#7

So how do you “let go” of the body, practically speaking?


#8

Letting it be, not obsessing about it, not giving it a thought like the comfortable clothes on our backs.

Sorry, I don’t have any references.


#9

Read through relevant sections here, question still remains are they right bodily fabrication

How do you tranquillize bending down, trembling and shaking by remaining still? How is missing

Is it forcefully sitting?
Is it being at peace and keep moving body to adjust?
Is it saying welcome pain (as per by Ajahn Brahm) And giving it loving kindness, really don’t know how to here?
Is it ignoring the pain and focusing on breath itself?
Is it swiftly keep changing bodily formations

Same with mental formations are they just perception and feelings or experiences and how do you tranquillize them

Some say stay with the thought watch it arise and fade, thoughts of past or future so stay with them or ignore, and many more

Need a tranquilizer pill here


#10

To clarify what the words in MN118 mean. If you look at MN44 (SuttaCentral), the kāyasaṅkhāro or bodily formation and cittasaṅkhāro or mental formation mentioned in MN118 are said to be:

“But ma’am, what is the physical process? What’s the verbal process? What’s the mental process?” “Breathing is a physical process. Placing the mind and keeping it connected are verbal processes. Perception and feeling are mental processes.”

In terms of what sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī means, people debate about this. Does it mean the whole body, or the whole breath? If you look at Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation on SuttaCentral you’ll see “of breath” in a light grey font after the term ‘whole body’ (SuttaCentral). This is sometimes added to clarify that sabbakāya refers to the whole of the breath, not the whole of the body. Some people disagree with this, but I think it’s verified by the fact the all other three parts of the first tetrad are about the breath, and by a statement also found in MN118 where it says (SuttaCentral):

“[…]I say that this is a certain body among the bodies, namely, in-breathing and out-breathing.


#11

It takes effort to restrain unskillful qualities (e.g., daydreaming about winning the lottery).
It takes effort to give up unskillful qualities (e.g., inappropriate curiosity)
It takes effort to develop skillful qualities (e.g., being mindful of breathing)
It takes effort to preserve skillful qualities (e.g., patience)

Which efforts apply to any given student/teacher combination will change because we’re all different. The teachings span all of the above. Notice that the efforts to restrain/give-up are very similar, differing only in the how the effort is applied. In the title of the original post, we have “tranquilize”, which is definitely a bit on the “cease and desist” side of restraint compared with the effort to give up. Sometimes letting go is harder than restraining. Sometimes restraining is harder than letting go. Both work, but one path will always be steeper and faster. Other suttas discuss the slow/fast aspect.

So a direct answer to the original post might be the most difficult yet quickest path:

Just let go. Bodily and mental formations all end. It is the holding on that keeps them going.


#12

Letting go seems to be the recommendation here

And here as well

So letting go seems the tranquilizer pill :pill: here, though none clearly explains how to let go, it seems like if someone don’t know how to raise a baby, let go the baby someone else will take care of the baby and if baby survives will grow as well


#13

So how do you “let go” of the body, practically speaking?

Haven’t “let go” of the body :slight_smile: [If someone came at me with a pointed stick or a bunch of blueberries or a banana, it would be my identification with the body that would be defending me, not some wise non-harming metta. ;)] Noticing the three characteristics is my guess, especially anatta :slight_smile: But also anatta (noticing the arising and passing of bodily formations on experiential level, noticing what’s sanna, what’s vedana, noticing the three characteristics in them, for, by example, noticing perception of ‘arm’ and how that changes, is stressful (on subtle level) and goes on by itself (anatta)) Also noticing elements, earth - solidity - rupa, is ungovernable (anatta), subject to change and stressful when identified with. So we have some choice in some other direction towards tranquility, to ‘let go’

For instance, if we cut a bit of hair off & look at it, we don’t identify with it (anatta). So on for the whole body contemplations mentioned in the suttas with 32 parts, etc

It seems to me conceivable to in-principle care for the body from metta and not identify with it.

As for “tranquillising the bodily formation” I just read it as “calming down” this might be by say, noticing some particularly “loud” part of the body, maybe a pain, giving it some attention and noticing three characteristics, so it can be let go of (that is, not impinge on consciousness via subtle identification with).

I don’t know!


#14

Sorry, the mind is not a physical thing so it is much harder than describing a physical action. What i can say is, as a healthy human being your mind already knows how to let go. Other wise, life will be unbearable and you’ll be in the asylum or worse. Actually you woudnt be able to even fall asleep at night if it didn’t let go.

Have you ever seen flowing water? Have you ever seen still water? If your mind is peaceful, it’s like still, flowing water. Have you ever seen still, flowing water? There! You’ve only seen flowing water and still water. You’ve never seen still, flowing water. Right there, right where your thinking can’t take you: where the mind is still but can develop discernment. When you look at your mind, it’ll be like flowing water, and yet still. It looks like it’s still, it looks like it’s flowing, so it’s called still, flowing water. That’s what it’s like. That’s where discernment can arise
-Ajahn Chah


#15

I’ve moved this topic to the Watercooler as it doesn’t seem to be discussing EBTs.

& it’s a good moment to remind everyone that, while general discussion of practice issues is OK in the Watercooler, D&D isn’t the right place to describe personal experiences in any detail.


#16

For interest, I did an SC search on “letting go”.

It looks to me like the result of practice rather than a method, the cessation of clinging and craving


#17

Patisambhidhamagga has an explaination. Unfortunately there is no english translation available in suttacentral.

Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ
Kathaṃ ‘‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmī’’ti sikkhati, ‘‘passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmī’’ti sikkhati? Katamo kāyasaṅkhāro?
How does he train as, “I will breathe in calming the bodily-fabrication”. How does he train as, “I will breathe out calming the bodily-fabrication”. (passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ)

What is bodily-fabrication?
The long in-breaths are bodily. These phenomena that are bound to the body are bodily-fabrication. He trains, (by) calming, dissolving, tranquillizing those bodily-fabrications.

The long in-breaths are bodily.These phenomena that are bound to the body are bodily-fabrications. He trains (by) calming, dissolving, tranquillizing those bodily-fabrications. (Also) the short in-breaths and short out-breaths.

The in-breaths, experiencing the whole body and the out-breaths, experiencing the whole body are bodily. These phenomena that are bound to the body are bodily-fabrications. He trains, (by) calming, dissolving, tranquillizing those bodily-fabrications.

Those kind of bodily-fabrications such as bending forward and backward of the body, contracting and stretching, moving, throbbing, trembling, quaking – he trains as, “I will breath-in calming (those kind of) bodily-fabrication”; he trains as, “I will breath out calming (those kind of) bodily-fabrication”.

Those kind of bodily-fabrications such as not bending forward and backward of the body, not contracting and stretching, not moving, not throbbing, not trembling, not quaking, peaceful, subtle – he trains as, “I will breath-in calming (those kind of) bodily-fabrication”; he trains as, “I will breath out calming (those kind of) bodily-fabrication”.

Thus indeed, he trains as, “I will breathe in calming the bodily-fabrication”; he trains as, “I will breathe out calming the bodily-fabrication”. When it is so (when calming thus), the citta which has the breath-as-object does not arise; the subtle in and out breaths does not arise; the mindfulness of in and out breaths does not arise; the concentration based on the mindfulness of in and out breaths does not arise; the wise one who is endowed with this does not attain and also does not produce that (‘calming’).

Thus indeed, he trains as, “I will breathe in calming the bodily-fabrication”; he trains as, “I will breathe out calming the bodily-fabrication”.
When it is so (when calming thus), the citta which has the breath-as-object does arise; the subtle in and out breaths does arise; the mindfulness of in and out breaths does arise; the concentration based on the mindfulness of in and out breaths does arise; the wise one who is endowed with this does attain and produce that (‘calming’).

Like what?
Just like when a bronze gong is first struck, coarse sounds arise. When the clear, distinct, sharp, mark of the coarse sound stops, subtler sounds arise after that. When the clear, distinct, sharp mark of the subtle sound stops, the mind which has the object of the mark of the subtle sound arises (next) after that.

In the same way, first coarse in and out breaths arise. When the decipherableness, observability, locatableness of the mark of the coarse breath stops, the subtler sounds arise next. When the decipherableness, observability, locatableness of the mark of the subtle breaths stops, the mind which has the object of the mark of the subtle breath arises next.

When it is so (when calming thus), the citta which has the breath-as-object does arise; the subtle in and out breaths does arise; the mindfulness of in and out breaths does arise; the concentration based on the mindfulness of in and out breaths does arise; the wise one who is endowed with this does attain and produce that (‘calming’).

Passambhayaṃ cittasaṅkhāraṃ
How does he train as, “I will breathe in calming the mental-formation”; he train as, “I will breathe out calming the mental-formation”? (passambhayaṃ cittasaṅkhāraṃ)

What is mental-formation?
The mental factors of perception and sensation, in terms of long in-breath – these phenomena are mind-bound, mental-fabrications. He trains, (by) calming, dissolving, tranquillizing those mental-fabrications.
The mental factors of perception and sensation, in terms of long out-breath – these phenomena are mind-bound, mental-fabrications. He trains, (by) calming, dissolving, tranquillizing those mental-fabrications.
…in terms of breathing in, experiencing the mental-fabrication…
The mental factors of perception and sensation, in terms of out-breath, experiencing mental-fabrication – these phenomena are mind-bound, mental-fabrications. He trains, (by) calming, dissolving, tranquillizing those mental-fabrications.

In and out breaths, calming mental-fabrications is the sensation. The establishing is mindfulness. The contemplating is knowledge. The establishing of ‘sensation’ is not mindfulness. The establishing of mindfulness is only mindfulness. By that mindfulness, by that knowledge, he contemplates that ‘sensation’.
ĀNĀPĀNASSATIKATHĀ


#18

When you practice mindfulness meditation, you stop body movements by sitting crossed leg (lotus/halflotus) where you do not need extra oxigen /air to do so. When someone runs, he consumes large amount of air which give rise to coarse breath. But when you sit erect in cross legged position, calm your breath making it more gentle. However, you are not doing anything other than sitting still to calm your breath down.

Then you start calming your mind down. However, this is not intentional, but a result of increased concentration and the focus of mind. When someone is aware of his breath and keeps his mind only on breath calms the breath more. Therefore, the breath become more and more subtle.

4.A willingness arises while breathing in and breathing out long in and out breaths that are deemed long. Due to the willingness, he breathes in a long breath that is more subtle than that.
5.Due to the willingness, he breathes out a long breath that is more subtle than that.
6.Due to the willingness, he breathes in and breathes out long breaths that are more subtle than that.
7.Gladness arises, as he breathes in and breathes out long breaths that are more subtle than that, through the willingness. Due to the gladness, he breathes in a long breath that is more subtle than that.
8.Due to the gladness, he breathes out a long breath that is more subtle than that.
9.Due to the gladness, he breathes in and breathes out long breaths that are more subtle than that.

In this way the breath becomes subtle and subtle where it becomes undetectable in fourth jhāna.

You cannot intentionally or forcefully calm your breath down to achieve tranquilized mental formations. It is a result of redusing your kilesas (impurities) down temporarily.


#19

Thank you Bhante!
Who did this translation? It is excellent.


#20

No idea, but he was in this forum as I remember.