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What does "internally, externally, internally externally" mean?


#1

There were many occasions mentioned in the Sutta such as Contemplating body in the body internally , externally , internally externally ? Anyone care to share ?


#2

Hi, I took the liberty of changing the topic’s title to make the question clearer. Please feel free to revert it.


#3

You may find useful the thread:
https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=8462


#5

What does “within and without” mean in practical terms, and how is it different than the commentarial MN 10 explanation of internal and external being “ones own body” and “other peoples bodies”? The link to the article that presumably would have explained it is dead.
https://www.bcbsdharma.org/#Satipatthana

from that dhammawheel thread:

Another line of inquiry is linguistic. For example, we know that the Sutta Nipāta is very old because certain case endings and grammatical constructions are recognized as archaic. This isn’t just a philological matter: it may help a modern meditator better understand what the Buddha is teaching. For example, the Theravādan Satipatthāna Sutta commentaries explain “internal” and “external” to mean “in yourself” and “in somebody else,” and there are some sutta passages that echo this. However, in an older passage of the Sutta Nipāta that is also echoed later, the Buddha is said to describe “internal” and “external” differently, in ways that could be very important for our practice: it’s skillful to investigate sense phenomena originating from without as well as within, or both. This is a simpler and more pragmatic understanding, and also fits the context of the Satipatthāna Sutta better because the yogi has been told to practice in solitude, not in the presence of others, and to begin in the body and its energies—internally.


#6

Archive:
http://web.archive.org/web/20110521084513/http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/fullmoonInsightJournal.html#Satipatthana


#7

What has been my experience, and very useful in my practice, is briefly thus:

Internally: Contemplating my personal contact with the sense spheres, 5 aggregates/bundles of clinging, namarupa/viññana, hinderances, my interaction with experience, my reactions, my intentions, my awareness, my interactions with others, etcetera.

Externally: Noticing all of the above in others helps me see the above from another perspective, allowing awareness to arise of things in myself and get a clearer understanding of how the mind works.

Internally & externally: Contemplating how interactions with others produces a range of actions and reactions from myself and others.

There are other ways of interpreting this teaching, this is just what I have noticed in action.


#8

Thanks for that working link, I read the article, and it still comes up short in actually explaining what “within” and “without” means:

Another line of inquiry is linguistic. For example, we know that the Sutta Nipāta is very old because certain case endings and grammatical constructions are recognized as archaic. This isn’t just a philological matter: it may help a modern meditator better understand what the Buddha is teaching. For example, the Theravādan Satipatthāna Sutta commentaries explain “internal” and “external” to mean “in yourself” and “in somebody else,” and there are some sutta passages that echo this. However, in an older passage of the Sutta Nipāta that is also echoed later, the Buddha is said to describe “internal” and “external” differently, in ways that could be very important for our practice: it’s skillful to investigate sense phenomena originating from without as well as within, or both. This is a simpler and more pragmatic understanding, and also fits the context of the Satipatthāna Sutta better because the yogi has been told to practice in solitude, not in the presence of others, and to begin in the body and its energies—internally.
Notice that this also involves a comparative type of inquiry. If the meaning of a word or phrase is unclear, one searches for its uses elsewhere, but is careful to remember that many words—like “internally”—have fluid semantic fields that have evolved over time.

The article ends shortly after that with no further elaboration.

So I assume he means within = anatomical body phenomena + whatever is going on internally within ones mind, and without = any thing that’s not within, which is broader than “external” referring to only other sentient beings.


#10

There is an article by Bhikkhu Cintita titled Name and Form: nāmarūpa in the suttas. On pg 22 he writes:

Investigating the self.
The self is a special case. It is generally fabricated as a constant presence, permanent and in control. It is that which sees, that which hears, that which decides. It is the experiencer, it is what craves and what hates. It is also an abstraction, but one that does not exist “out there,” but rather in the inner space created by the split between subjective and objective. Our primary practice in deconstructing the self is introspection, which is to objectify the subjective world. In general we tend to identify the subjective world with our own bodies and with the mental aspects of experience. However, the boundary between subject and object can be stretched as much as we like, revealing its artificiality. Recall that consciousness can alight wherever it likes within the world of experience. We can contemplate our breath, for instance, viewing it independent of our intention to breath. In this way we can objectify the breath, noting its qualities as if we were watching someone else’s breath. In this case aspects of the inner tactile name-and-form lead to contact with, and attention to, experiences attributed to things that, although located within our own body, are conceptually treated exactly like things “out there,” and viewed through the sense doors. Given that our feelings, perceptions and volitions are already attributed to things “out there,” even out inner mental states can be objectified in this way.

It should be noted that almost all themes of mindfulness meditation, for instance, those enumerated in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, are easily regarded as part of the internal world of feelings and of one own body. We generally don’t contemplate the things most readily interpreted as “out there,” such as trees, cows or houses. Notable exceptions are the charnel ground contemplations, but even there the tendency is to visualize equivalent conditions in one’s own body. Given this, it is significant that the “insight” refrain of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta begins with the following statement:

In this way he abides contemplating body/feelings/mind objects as body/feelings/mind
objects internally, or he abides contemplating body/feelings/mind objects as
body/feelings/mind objects externally, or he abides contemplating body/feelings/mind objects
as body/feelings/mind objects both internally and externally. (MN 10)

This is often interpreted as having to do with contemplating one’s own body, for instance, then others’ bodies, but I am convinced something more subtle is going on here. When we abide contemplating internally, we let the inner name-and-form be the inner name-and-form and resist the tendency to objectification. When we abide contemplating externally, we give way to objectification and displacement. When we contemplate both internally and externally, we keep both in mind; this is most revealing of the way we fabricate the external reality, for both the beginning and end of the process are laid bare. Earlier we considered circumstances in which we can resist the marked tendency to fabricate an external reality, for instance, in the case of music, and even shift from the internal to the external name-and-form.

For him, the instruction is about working with our perception and our tendency to see things as internal vs external.


#11

The “internally, externally, internally externally” bit has puzzled me too. The following short passage immediately leapt to mind as being somewhat relevant at the time. Perhaps one possible view of the general kind of direction the “internally, externally, internally externally” is heading in. It’s from p.200 of Nyanatiloka Thera’s rather nice sutta anthology: “The Buddha’s Path to Deliverance”:

MN 106
"I am not anywhere anything to any one, and there belongs not to me anywhere anything in any regard."

The monk has comprehended the fourfold emptiness, for (1) he nowhere sees his own self, (2) he can nowhere discover it as belonging to someone else, (3) he nowhere sees another’s self, (4) he can nowhere discover it as belonging to himself in any regard. see Vism XXI,7.


#12

Internally means in one’s own self; externally means outside one’s self; and internally/externally means seeing with wisdom that inside and outside are essentially the same, for example, that the earth element inside and outside are just the earth element.


Nibanna, the Deathless, and Self
#13

It is reflected in this sutta:

"And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property? Anything internal, within oneself, that’s hard, solid, & sustained [by craving]: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that’s hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property & the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: ‘This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.’ When one sees it thus as it actually is present with right discernment, one becomes disenchanted with the earth property and makes the earth property fade from the mind. MN140

:anjal:

with metta


#15

That’s how I understand it too, but I wasn’t sure why I had that understanding, whether it was because I actually read an EBT sutta passage that explicitly said that, or it was a result reading Ven. Bodhi’s translation footnotes for satipatthana related passages that explained it that way.

When I have time I can probably look up the exact sutta references from Ven. Analayo’s 2 books on 4sp (his 2nd book looks at 4sp from Agama sources), or Bhante Sujato’s HIstory of Mindfulness.


#16

“Outside one’s self” might be looking at the direction coming from the “outside” to one’s self - as a suggestion? Naturally, this way seems less easy to contemplate than the “internally”. How would you contemplate on (your) body, feelings, mind and mind-objects “externally”? Sometimes I feel I get a glimpse of looking at self as if from the outside, as an outside observer. Has not been able to practice such way intentionally though. It seems it would required some sort of detachment from self, but then the feelings, mind and mind-objects seem to lose the detail… I know the doctrine about the relativeness of “self”, but we are still supposed to practice internally (understood) as well as externally (somewhat understood but not managed well), and then both internally and externally. I have greatly appreciated the notes in this forum, and will look forward to more suggestions.


#17

Given that the basic distinction appears to be inside and outside the body, I take this to mean other peoples’ bodies, feelings and mind-states. Just considering the body, I suppose “external” could also mean what you can see and touch, basically your skin.