Tonight I will introduce the practice of contemplating the thirty-two parts of the body at our weekly meditation group. This traditional way of investigating the body supports the development of both concentration and insight, and dispels attachment to concepts about the body. This blog post provides a basic list of the parts and a reminder of the steps in the contemplation. I recommend working with each group for some period of time, before tackling the full list of parts.
Group 1: head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin,
Group 2: flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys,
Group 3: heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs,
Group 4: intestines, mesentery, contents of the stomach (gore), excrement, brain,
Group 5: bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat,
Group 6: tears, grease, saliva, snot, fluid of the joints (sonovial fluid), and urine.
Steps for the practice:
Memorize in forward and reverse order.
Visualize/see each part in terms of color, shape, location, and surrounding matter.
Contemplate one group at a time, then combine groups until you can easily review the 32 parts forward and backward.
Contemplate these parts as they occur within your body. Also contemplate them in other people’s bodies.
See the world of bodies as collections of parts, not-self, not so personal, not so appealing, nothing to become enthralled with or attached to.
Then review the body parts seeing their repulsive characteristics. Let the repulsive perception support dispassion toward the body.