What is being 'directly experienced' in SN 48.50 Āpaṇa Sutta?

We have this passage:

“And, venerable sir, when he has again and again strived in such a way, again and again recollected in such a way, again and again concentrated his mind in such a way, again and again understood with wisdom in such a way, that noble disciple gains complete faith thus: ‘As to these things that previously I had only heard about, now I dwell having contacted them with the body and, having pierced them through with wisdom, I see.’

What is being ‘contacted with thebody’(/directly experienced)? Is it the direct experience of all of these?:

‘This samsara is without discoverable beginning. A first point is not discerned of beings roaming and wandering on, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving. But the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance, the mass of darkness: this is the peaceful state, this is the sublime state, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbana.’

That is what it appeared to be referring to to me, but I really want to be sure. Does anyone know for sure, or have an opinion? Thanks!

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Bhikkhu Brahmāli has written elsewhere here on discourse about the usage of the word kāya. In many contexts it has the meaning of “personally”. I imagine it’s something like being an eyewitness and declaring “I was there, I saw it with my own eyes!”.


Yes, I am aware of different people’s take on kāya. I am doing some extensive research into this topic. Hence needing to get a few things clarified. If anyone can help with this question, I would be really grateful!

Along with this question, for clarifying the meaning of kāya in these contexts, I am also needing some clarification on these topics, which are some of the points of my research I am a bit stuck on:

I will be happy to share the results of my research when I’m done. Any help with these points is greatly appreciated! :pray:

I also believe that’s the general sense of the meaning, “I was there, personally witnessed it with my physical body”, but it doesn’t answer conclusively whether kaya as “body” in this instance is meant literally or figuratively, or both. Taking the literal meaning doesn’t remove the figurative one.

In another context, for example one touching peaceful experiences with formless samadhi attainments “with the body”, again to me this is ambiguous. While one is not at that moment “physically” touching the peaceful attainment, they still required that physical body as a vehicle to be able to attain that formless samadhi.

Even in English, I think someone might say something like “I saw it with my own eyes” to convey that something was directly experienced personally, as opposed to second hand knowledge heard from someone else’s direct experience, or by imagination, or by deduction, etc. Whereas the actual experience perhaps not visual with the eyes, not literally and physically seeing, but maybe kinaesthetic by hearing, touch, or even reliable psychic powers.

B.Bodhi leaves kāyena translated literally as “body” in those types of situations as I recall, meaning its just as ambiguous in English as in Pali.

Bhante Sujato translates the “kāyena” in the STED (standard EBT definition) of 3rd jhāna as “personally experiences”. Every other English translation I’ve ever seen has a literal “experience pleasure with the body (kāyena).” I will tackle this issue in more detail another time.

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Yes. However, I think that it is not the same as saying

I think it is being specific in saying: