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    The prime purpose of the technique is to achieve inner silence.[edit]

    • "Practitioners are tutored to avoid being disrupted by passing thoughts and to nudge themselves into concentrating on the breathing once again."
      • (a note of dissent) The above might well be consistent with received wisdom but it only reflects the the long held misunderstanding of the technique of anapana-sati. The prime purpose of the technique is to achieve inner silence. Maintaining alertness is the chief difficulty (typically beginners fall asleep). Awareness of the breath is a self monitoring device, when the meditator loses the awareness of their breathing it is because they have instead invested the focus of attention on thoughts and images i.e. they have lost mental alertness and fallen into habits of mind. The first concern for the meditator is to become aware of the fact of fascination he/she has for their own thoughts. Suspending that habitual fascination is the beginning of meditation. If after many years of practice a person can for longish periods of time sit relaxed and alert, with the mind silent, they can then deepen their practice by using a more subtle self monitoring device. This is where vipassana comes in. The key here is not body sensations so much as the fact that these sensations are constantly changing. When awareness of the changing experience of sensations is lost it is an aid to recognising the loss of mental alertness. Anapana-sati will help a person become aware of their stream of consciousness as it is, which will take many years, where-as vipassana tends to open up conscious awareness of the subconscious, Typically the chief difficulty, in vipassana, is falling into the dreamstate even though seemingly awake, hence the value and need for a self monitoring device built in. I hope that is useful. - anon

    To explain the above more simply, the stream of consciousness goes by somewhat unnoticed. In just the same way that someone living on a busy road after a while does not hear the traffic, the thoughts we have go by. But if the traffic stops and there is silence instead, suddenly we notice how noisy things are. In just the same way as we develop the skill of sitting in silence (or as it is expressed in Buddhism - calm abiding) the capacity for simply noticing what we do with our minds develops. Inner silence is not as difficult or strange as might first appear. It is something everyone does easily and automatically whenever they pay attention to something. For instance to listen to and hear someone speaking we stop focusing on our own thoughts, in other words we suspend the inner conversation we have with ourselves. Another example is if while watching a television documentary if we start to actively think about something we lose awareness of what we are watching. So typically, when we do watch a documentary we automatically suspend thought. In meditation practice this is all we are trying to achieve as a first result. It is only difficult because there is no external stimulus to focus upon, but the act of suspending thought is simple enough in itself.

    The reason I voice my dissent strongly is that anapana (and the related vipassana) is usually taught in such away that the meditator focuses their effort on the breath and to maintaining unbroken constant awareness of it. This is unfortunate because it turns anapana into merely a concentration exercise. It is the suspension of the thoughts which is important and as stated this is not mysterious. The effort needs to be directed towards that end. The awareness of the breathing is a very useful tool but only as a method for maintaining alertness. Habits of mind are the main obstacle and the tendency to drift into the customary state of reverie is very strong. The awareness of the breath has to be something which is incorporated into what one is aware of - not made the focus of the attention in some attempt to subdue the mind. It seems a splitting of hairs but in fact it will make a crucial difference in result.

    The breath is usually a subliminal experience, to notice ones own breathing it is necessary to raise one's level of alertness just a little bit. Maintaining that alertness is the key to not drifting into habitual states of reverie. But the task of noticing the breath has to done gently, perhaps in the same way that one might feel the warmth of the sun on your back or the the breeze blowing across your face. Definitely not some kind of strained effort to notice the breath and nothing but the breath.

    • (adding to the above) Is it not short-sighted to claim, as the article does, that "practising this form of meditation as a part of the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the removal of all defilements (kilesa) and finally to the attainment of nibbāna (nirvana)." Mindfulness (of breathing) meditation is precisely that tool for building the foundation (samadhi) to conduct the subtler practice of Vipassana, that is, the practice of gaining insight into the most subtle defilement, (spiriorance (ajjiva). I think a distinction is needed, that one form of meditation is, strictly speaking, a concentration tool, which removes what we might otherwise call the gross defilements to make room for the much more important practice of pentrating to the absolute root of dukkha: ignorance (in tanha).
    I've titled the comments above because there previously was no title.
    In brief response to the idea that the goal of anapanasati is to, "achieve inner silence," I'd like to say that this point has been raised in several key moments throughout history, notably by proponents of The Northern School, who professed that to sit without thoughts was the goal of Buddhism and equivalent to enlightenment. This position was refuted by Hui-neng, the semi-legendary leader of The Southern School, who was later revered as The Sixth Patriarch by many of the modern schools of Zen as the founder of the lineage. A similar argument occured in Tibet, in an event Tibetans know as the Samye debates, where a member of the Northern School of Ch'an debated with a member of Indic Buddhism, and from these debates the Tibetan tradition sees its origins in Indic Buddhism, the winner of the debates.
    So, the point has some relevance to anapanasati and Buddhism and so on, but it is a complex point at least. Therefore if it is to be mentioned on this page then it needs to have proper references and all significant sides of the debate as it has occured in Buddhist history. Thanks. makeswell (talk) 21:56, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

    no merge[edit]

    this article shoudn't be merged with breath control. compare the two articles. breath control is that - CONTROLLING the breath. anapana has nothing to do with controlling the breath, but watching the NATURAL in and out breath.

    I agree. Anapanasati is different from Pranayama, which is breath control. makeswell (talk) 03:52, 11 January 2011 (UTC)


    Is the word Sanskrit or Pali? AnonMoos 18:27, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

    Pali, I'll add it. Obhaso 21:20, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

    What's up with the name?[edit]

    I'm curious if there is a good reason why this article is titled Anapana instead of Anapanasati? The sati, "mindfulness" is what makes the phrase into a form of meditation. The Pali Canon never (as far as I know, and I know, never say never...) simply refers to Anapana but always to Anapanasati, Mindfulness of breathing" May I change the name of the article? Obhaso 21:23, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

    Done. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:02, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
    I am not sure if the image I recently added is representative. Please feel free to remove if it is not. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 22:12, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

    anapanaSati... contemplation of breathing--Esteban Barahona alias Samael Cero ^_^_^ (talk) 03:59, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

    Ānāpānasati is incorrect. There is double "s": Ānāpānassati.[citation needed] The page must be renamed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:22, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

    Link with pranayama[edit]

    The first part of this new section is helpful but I wonder if the second paragraph is not too far off the main topic. It's good material, but is this the rigth place for it? Paul 17:57, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

    Pranayama and anapana are quite separate practices with definite aims. Pranayama is a yogic discipline aimed at the accumulation of prana in the body as part of the hatha yoga practice of bringing about the suitable conditions for the arising of kundalini.
    Anapana is primarily a Therevadin Buddhist meditation technique aimed at developing the skill of silencing the conscious activity of the mind and thereby enabling the practitioner to tackle more difficult tasks of bringing subconscious mental activity into conscious awareness which in turn is silenced. The technique employed in this case is vipassana.
    The two techniques (ie pranayama and anapana) are complimentary and indeed possibly share the same ancestry prior to the advent of buddhism as it is known today anon 14 2 07

    Bliss or Pleasure?[edit]

    According to Bhikkhu Thanissaro's translation the 6th stage of Anapanasati is Experiencing Pleasure, rather than Bliss, which is more distinct from rapture. What do you think? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:09, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

    bliss... which is a form of pleasure; but one that leads to nirvaana (and that is rare; see 2 fetters: craving of rupa-dhyaanas and arupa-dhyaanas; they are the last "addiction"... so to speak)--Esteban Barahona alias Samael Cero ^_^_^ (talk) 04:00, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

    Makeswell edits[edit]

    I've removed them because they are not in accordance with policy: Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, textbook, or scientific journal: While Wikipedia has descriptions of people, places and things, an article should not read like a "how-to" style owners manual, advice column (legal, medical or otherwise) or suggestion box. This includes tutorials, walk-throughs, instruction manuals, game guides, and recipes. Sylvain1972 (talk) 14:43, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

    kk makeswell (talk) 21:56, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

    add a Mindfulness section[edit]

    I think it'd be great to add a section on Mindfulness (Buddhism) and how mindfulness of breathing is a part of that. makeswell (talk) 19:45, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

    Anapanasati in the Tibetan tradition[edit]

    It seems that the current first sentence of the section 'In the Tibetan tradition', "In the Tibetan Buddhist lineage, anapanasati is done to calm the mind in order to prepare one for the practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen." is at odds with the rest of the section in which there is a vague defense of anapanasati with claims that Tibetans simply didn't understand certain writers.

    I have heard a seasoned (Tibetan) monk say that in Tibetan sanghas anapanasati is done to prepare for Mahamudra, while in Theravada sanghas anapanasati is done for its own benefits. makeswell (talk) 04:07, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

    The Tibetan section is indeed long, unbalanced, and rambling at times... It focuses too much on what the Tibetan tradition "lacks" rather than how anapana is practiced in it. Tengu800 (talk) 01:28, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
    It is no longer than the Chinese section. I don't believe it is unbalanced or rambling either. Makeswell basically correct in that anapansmrti is considered a complete practice in the Theravada and many Mahayana traditions but only a preparatory practice in the late Indian and Tibetan traditions. It makes sense that the section spends time clarifying this distinction, because it is a very important one. It does not imply that the Tibetan tradition "lacks" anything, aside from the one reference about how certain teachings of Vasubandhu may not have been transmitted, which then informs the later perspective. I also changed the first sentence to make it more clear that anapanasmrti is considered a preparatory practice for more than just Mahamudra and Dzogchen.Sylvain1972 (talk) 18:20, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

    Anapanasati revisited[edit]

    I've restored some of the material deleted--in my view it is valuable information, and the section was not terribly long. Zahler was one of the experts in this area, and as far as I know her assertions are not controversial or contested.Sylvain1972 (talk) 14:07, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

    In response to the reversion of my edit by Sylvain, which Sylvain1972 mentions above, I just wanted to go over some reasons I had for removing two big chunks of Zahler quote. I removed the material because it was repeated twice, once by paraphrasing it and again by directly quoting it, thus adding to the length of the article without adding to the informtion provided within it. This change, amongst others, was reverted.

    The paraphrase went thus,

    Two of the most important Mahāyāna philosophers, Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, in the Śrāvakabhūmi chapter of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra and the Abhidharma-kośa, respectively, make it clear that they consider ānāpānasmṛti a profound practice leading to vipaśyanā (in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha in the Sutra pitika).[1]

    The direct quote went thus,

    The practice tradition suggested by the Treasury itself--and also by Asaṅga's Grounds of Hearers--is one in which mindfulness of breathing becomes a basis for inductive reasoning on such topics as the five aggregates; as a result of such inductive reasoning, the meditator progresses through the Hearer paths of preparation, seeing, and meditation. It seems at least possible that both Vasubandhu and Asaṅga presented their respective versions of such a method...

    The paraphrase went thus,

    However, as scholar Leah Zahler has demonstrated, "the practice traditions related to Vasubandhu's or Asaṅga's presentations of breath meditation were probably not transmitted to Tibet."[2] Asaṅga correlates the sixteen stages ānāpānasmṛti with the four smṛtyupasthānas in the same way that the Ānāpānasmṛti Sutra does, but because he does not make this explicit the point was lost on later Tibetan commentators.[3]

    and the direct quote went thus,

    It seems at least possible that both Vasubandhu and Asaṅga presented their respective versions of such a method, analogous to but different from modern Theravāda insight meditation, and that Gelukpa scholars were unable to reconstruct it in the absence of a practice tradition because of the great difference between this type of inductive meditative reasoning based on observation and the types of meditative reasoning using consequences (thal 'gyur, prasaanga) or syllogisms (sbyor ba, prayoga) with which Gelukpas were familiar. Thus, although Gelukpa scholars give detailed intepretations of the systems of breath meditation set forth in Vasubandu's and Asaṅga's texts, they may not fully account for the higher stages of breath meditation set forth in those texts. . . it appears that neither the Gelukpa textbook writers nor modern scholars such as Lati Rinpoche and Gendun Lodro were in a position to conclude that the first moment of the fifth stage of Vasubandhu's system of breath meditation coincides with the attainment of special insight and that, therefore, the first four stages must be a method for cultivating special insight.[4]

    So, the material seemed (and seems) to me to be repeated twice, once in paraphrase and again in direct quote. I removed the direct quote instead of the paraphrase because I found the direct quote to be very difficult for someone unversed in the subject to comprehend. I also removed the direct quote that follows because I found it even more opaque than the preceding quotes,

    Zahler continues, "it appears . .that a meditative tradition consisting of analysis based on observation—inductive reasoning within meditation—was not transmitted to Tibet; what Gelukpa writers call analytical meditation is syllogistic reasoning within meditation. Thus, Jamyang Shaypa fails to recognize the possibility of an 'analytical meditation' based on observation, even when he cites passages on breath meditation from Vasubandhu's Treasury of Manifest Knowledge and, especially, Asaṅga's Grounds of Hearers that appear to describe it."[5]

    In conclusion I'd strongly suggest that we decide to remove either the direct quote or the paraphrase in order to reduce redudancy in the article and lightly push that we select the direct quote instead of the paraphrased material for removal, or place it as a reference or note to the paraphrase. makeswell (talk) 02:11, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

    I'd suggest that your two assertions are somewhat at odds. If the material is difficult, which I would concede that it can be, I'd say the paraphrase is a helpful exegesis rather than a redundancy. But the fact of the matter is, one has to delve into this material somewhat before it becomes accessible. On those rare occasions when I read wikipedia articles on various topics in science, for instance--about diseases, technology, or astrophysics, say--I often find them very difficult. But I do not think they should be simplified to the point that they are immediately comprehensible to the average reader.Sylvain1972 (talk) 16:43, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
    Okay, I'll concede. I do think though that it is a too lengthy way to say, 'Asanga thought anapanasati led to vipasana but later commentators did not.'
    It is saying a little more than that though, and something that is not strictly arcane. It provides the context to understand why mindfulness of breathing is understood so differently in a contemporary Tibetan Buddhist center as opposed to a contemporary Theravada center.Sylvain1972 (talk) 16:58, 5 October 2011 (UTC)


    apāna (apa-āna) means "fart" in Sanskrit - or as Monier-Williams quaintly puts it "that of the five vital airs which goes downwards and out at the anus; ventris crepitus." (talk) 07:58, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

    1. ^ Study and Practice of Meditation: Tibetan Interpretations of the Concentrations and Formless Absorptions by Leah Zahler. Snow Lion Publications: 2009 pg 107-108)
    2. ^ Study and Practice of Meditation: Tibetan Interpretations of the Concentrations and Formless Absorptions by Leah Zahler. Snow Lion Publications: 2009 pg 108)
    3. ^ Zahler 119-126
    4. ^ Zahler 108, 113
    5. ^ Zahler 306