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Foulness

The Visuddhimagga is a fifteen-hundred year old commentary on the Pali Canon, composed in Sri Lanka by the Indian monk Buddhaghosa, which measures roughly one-thousand pages when translated into English. The following few entries are excerpts taken from that text:

"And individually, the bloated [corpse, as a meditation object] suits one who is greedy about shape, since it makes evident the disfigurement of the body's shape. The livid suits one who is greedy about the body's colour, since it makes evident the disfigurement of the skin's colour. The festering suits one who is greedy about the smell of the body aroused by scents, perfumes, etc, since it makes evident the evil smells connected with this sore, the body. The cut-up [body] suits one who is greedy about compactness in the body, since it makes evident the hollowness inside it. The gnawed suits one who is greedy about accumulation of flesh in such parts of the body as the breasts since it makes evident how a fine accumulation of flesh comes to nothing. The scattered suits one who is greedy about the grace of the limbs since it makes it evident how limbs can be scattered. The hacked and scattered suits one who is greedy about a fine body as a whole since it makes evident the disintegration and alteration of the body as a whole. The bleeding suits one who is greedy about elegance produced by ornaments since it makes evident its repulsiveness when smeared with blood. The worm-infested suits one who is greedy about ownership of the body since it makes it evident how the body is shared with many families of worms. A skeleton suits one who is greedy about fine teeth since it makes evident the repulsiveness of the bones in the body. This, it shall be understood, is how the classification of foulness [as a meditation object] comes to be tenfold according to the subdivisions [pertaining to those of] the greedy temperament."

"But as regards the tenfold foulness, just as it is only by virtue of its rudder that a boat keeps steady in a river with turbulent waters and a rapid current... so too [here] owing to the weak hold on the object, consciousness when unified only keeps steady by virtue of applied thought, and it cannot be steadied without applied thought, which is why there is only the first jhana [to be achieved] here, not the second and the rest." -- excerpt from the Visuddhimagga, Ch. VIII, Foulness as a Meditation Subject

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