Kāye kāyānupassī viharati

Renderings

kāye kāyānupassī viharati: he abides contemplating the nature of the body

Introduction

Three components

Kāye kāyānupassī has three components.

1) A noun in the locative case (kaye)

2) an intermediate noun (kaya)

3) anupassī, which means ‘a contemplator,’ but is functionally a present participle (i.e. ‘contemplating’), and confirmed as such in both DOP and PED (under anupassi).

Threefold structure in other phrases

This threefold structure occurs in other similar phrases:

• He abides contemplating the wretchedness (i.e. the wretched nature) of the body
kāye ādīnavānupassī viharati (A.5.110).

• He abides contemplating the unloveliness (i.e. the unlovely nature) of the body
kāye asubhānupassī viharati (A.5.111).

The aspect that is contemplated is seen here to be the nature of the object that is in the locative case. About this, Bodhi says:

• “In each case, the word conjoined with anupassī is the aspect that is contemplated, and the word in the locative case is the sphere in relation to which that aspect is contemplated. Analogously, in kāye kāyānupassī viharati, the kāya conjoined with anupassī is the aspect that is contemplated (the “bodiness” of the body) and the locative kāye is the domain in relation to which that aspect is contemplated” (NDB n.197).

By comparison, in kāye kāyānupassī, the intermediate kaya means body-nature, or, as Bodhi puts it, ‘bodiness.’ This leads to our phrase: ‘he abides contemplating the nature of the body.’

Confirmation: kāye kāyānupassī equals kāye asubhānupassī

Because unloveliness is the nature of the body, it should be possible to demonstrate that kāye kāyānupassī equals kāye asubhānupassī, which would confirm our rendering. That these phrases are equivalentis obvious in the comparison of these two passages:

• In this (wretched human) body there are head hairs… urine. Thus he abides contemplating the unloveliness of this (wretched human) body.
atthi imasmiṃ kāye kesā… muttan ti. Iti imasmiṃ kāye asubhānupassī viharati (A.5.109).

• In this (wretched human) body there are head hairs… urine. Thus he abides contemplating the nature of the body internally.
atthi imasmiṃ kāye kesā… muttan ti. Iti ajjhattaṃ vā kāye kāyānupassī viharati (D.2.293).

Illustrations

Illustration: kāye kāyānupassī viharati, abides contemplating the nature of the body

“And how is a bhikkhu mindful?
Kathañca bhikkhave bhikkhusatohoti:

In this regard a bhikkhu abides contemplating the nature of the body, vigorously, fully consciously, and mindfully, having eliminated greed and dejection in regard to the world (of phenomena).
idha bhikkhave bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ

He abides contemplating the nature of sense impressions… the nature of the mind… the nature of certain objects of the systematic teachings… In this way a bhikkhu is mindful.
Vedanāsu vedanānupassī viharati… Citte cittānupassī viharati… Dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati… Evaṃ kho bhikkhave bhikkhu sato hoti (S.5.142).