SuttaCentral

What does this part of anapanasati means?

Hi again , I will be grateful if you help ms to understand this part of anapanasati:

"trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the mental formation’; trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the mental formation’; trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the mental formation’; trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the mental formation’ "

Please just use suttas ,I mean don’t use abhidhamma and visuddhimagga please

Metta, thanks

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Could you please type a link to the Sutta Central passage you are referring to? That will help us all begin with the original Pali, rather than one translator’s rendition in English.

This is from the second tetrad which is essentially concerned with the cultivation of the feeling of joy. Feelings link the body with the mind, and Buddhism is interested in the higher feelings which are associated with mind, that’s why the terminology is “calming mental fabrications:”

“Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind. That’s why perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications.”—MN 44

Calming feeling means developing a skill of tranquillization following the opposite activity of developing joy which is energetic, and corresponding to the two contrasting groups in the seven factors of awakening, investigation (insight) and serenity (SN 46.53). To progress further on the path it is necessary to be in command of skills to exert energy then calm it. It is required to go through the process of exerting the energy to develop joy to understand the experience of calming it. This is to maintain balance between serenity and insight to preserve wellbeing.

The key aspect of the second tetrad is developing joy which has ramifications for the entire practice, and follows the development from the first and second jhanas (feeling), to the equanimity of the third, and the awareness (mental) of the fourth (AN 5.28). This progession from body to feeling to mind parallels the first three tetrads and foundations.

How to develop joy in the body:

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This passage can be found in SN 54.1 and MN 118, among others.

Regarding the term used, I think SN 41.6 has the closest thing we can get to an early canonical answer of what these three “formations” are. It looks like MN 44 has the same passage.

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The link to Bhante Sujato’s translation of MN 118 does not contain the phrase “mental formations”. I think if you work backwards from “mental formations” you will find the Pali word “saṅkhāra”.

Bhante Sujato translates “kāyasaṅkhāra” as “body’s motion”. That’s pretty straightforward.

Or perhaps it is “cittasaṅkhāra” that is what is referred to (Bhikkhu Bodhi translates that as mental formation). Bhante Sujato translates that as “emotion”.

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The second tetrad is all about the ‘feeling’ foundation of mindfulness. Piti and sukha, rapture and bliss are mentioned arising in the first and second sentence of the second tetrad. The third and fourth sentences could be referring to the passing away of those same rapture and bliss as that stage is passed, vedana being one of the cittasankhara and rapture and bliss falling cleanly into vedana or feelings.

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Thanks @Mat for your answer , if you have time, could you help me with this other part of anapanasati?

“They practice breathing in observing cessation. They practice breathing out observing cessation. They practice breathing in observing letting go. They practice breathing out observing letting go.”

What’s the difference between “cessation”(nirodha) “and letting go”(Paṭinissagga)?

I thought that cessation means the end of craving(tanha), but I am not sure about “letting go”…

Thanks🙏

Thanks @paul1 , @llt , @greenTara for your help too, metta :slightly_smiling_face::pray:

Yes, there are numerous translations of sankhara, one of the most common of which is “formation”. That’s a more literal translation. Bhikkhu Bodhi, for example, uses “formation” commonly. A few other common translations are “synthesis”, “volition”, and “fabrication”.

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He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.’ [14] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on dispassion.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.’ [15] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on cessation.’ He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.'Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing

Step 14, refers to dispassion or the ending of craving, due to watching impermanence in a repetitive manner. With the ending of craving, phenomena all begin to cease. This is nirodha. or the fading of the six sense bases, as I understand it.

[16] He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.’ He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'MN118

This is the final fading of all defilments, as I understand it.

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Thanks for all @Mat :pray::wheel_of_dharma::wheel_of_dharma: