Internally, externally and both internally and externally

Have been contemplating this for quite some time. I am coming to the conclusion that the definition of having awareness of another’s body internally and externally in subjective experience is flimsy.

To view both internally and externally I take to be of one’s own body not someone else’s. Only the imagination, using personal experience as a guide, can be used to attempt to ‘see’ another’s experience. This is delusion surely.
I take the meaning to be having a subjective experience and objective experience of it at the same time. Both Internal and external experience of one’s own experience at the same time.

Any thoughts.


And not just the body - the other 5 sense spheres also. Venerable Analayo talks on this in ‘Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization’, starting ~page 108 digital (94 printed). I’ve linked rather than copy+paste because the full document has metric binloads of useful references.


Hi thanks, I have the book. He does discuss a variety of theories which are interesting. I agree however that to experience another’s experience would require super natural powers. The words of the Buddha are so rich and interlaced on a dimensional scale that I find the theory, ‘made up by other’s’, of knowledge of other’s experience a little lacking. It’s something to keep pondering on.


Sorry, if don’t get it wrong, you take other body as externally? Is it?

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That is the explanation given in ‘Satipatthana the direct path to awakening’ by Analayo. It was not expressed by the Buddha so there is confusion to the meaning of the whole phrase given in the refrain. Eg “…in regard to the body he abides contemplating the body internally…externally…both internally and externally.”
We can highlight the HE as an expression that the HE experiences in the first person.
Another point are the words or the combination of words, that explain that it is the experience of others. Their structure and usage is not the same as the Buddha’s in his dimensional terms. As said it is other people saying this, trying to understand what is meant by the phrase.
The Buddha did say you must experience for yourself and not to take his word or anyone else’s on any matter. Everything unfolds through experience in practice and life. A shift in insight changes perspective.
Today, from my very limited experience, is that external is an objective view of the self, of HE that is having the subjective experience.

To answer, no, I am saying the opposite. That it is ones own experience externally.

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It seems to me that the idea of “externally” meaning another body, etc, is only a problem if one has the view that everything in the sutta is about direct experience. Yet the section on body parts, and the charnel ground contemplations, would seem to involve a certain amount of visualisation, thinking, and extrapolation. Of course, there are some things that are readily apparent in others, particularly when sitting in a group - breathing for example.

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Hi Thanks.
This is exactly what is being grappled. I am thinking that it is about direct experience. Viewing external bodies is not about experiencing their bodies. It is about the experience you have while this is happening. The experience of revulsion, leading to disenchantment SN12.61.

When you see someone else breathing your experience is not their experience of the breath. If the person is breathing in a distasteful manner, your experience is of revulsion. If the person is breathing in a pleasant manner your experience may be to copy and breath in the same way. Covetousness.

It is about your experience.

If I were to take a piggyback ride on someone heading for enlightenment, would I also gain enlightenment by observing his journey.

This kind of question gets the wheel of samsara spinning.

With Metta.