13 May
Posted in: Homework, Practice, Suttas
By    Comments Off on Out Loud, Four Times

Out Loud, Four Times

Part of the CDL homework for this month is to read the Satipatthana Sutta (text on the Foundations of Mindfulness) — OUT LOUD, FOUR TIMES — including all the repetitive parts, which are usually only written out fully the first time they occur, then indicated by ellipses on the MANY occasions when they occur after that. The sutta in book form (with ellipses) is only about 10 pages long, but it is QUITE repetitive, so the actual out-loud reading takes about 20 minutes or more. (When it’s chanted in Pali, it can take about an hour.) The language of the text is somewhat archaic and the style is highly formulaic, so while the study of the practices outlined in the text can be fascinating (and profoundly transformative) the actual READING of the text can be….well…boring.

Here’s a sample: In this way, in regard to the body he abides contemplating the body internally, or he abides contemplating the body externally, or he abides contemplating the body both internally and externally. He abides contemplating the nature of arising in the body, or he abides contemplating the nature of passing away in the body, or he abides contemplating the nature of both arising and passing away in the body. 

(See what I mean?)

But anyway, I did it. All four time.

And I loved it!

The first reading was kind of a slog. And the second wasn’t much better. But then I got into a groove on the third reading, and by the fourth, there was an aliveness to it that I definitely had not expected. Partly it was the rhythm of the repetition. Partly it was the chant-like quality of the phrasing. But mostly, I think, it was something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. Something to do with simultaneously saying and hearing the words….the combination of the physical sensation of reading the syllables aloud and the mental experience of understanding the words but not quite “getting” them (because of the archaic usage and phrasing)…that triggered a way of saying and hearing the words that was closer to feeling them than to either speaking or listening.

Very interesting.


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