Wisdom Library Logo

Ten Kinds Of Foulness


  1. the bloated (corpse) counteracting delight in beauty of proportions
  2. the livid... beauty of complexion
  3. the festering... scents and perfumes
  4. the cut-up... wholeness or compactness
  5. the gnawed... well-fleshed body
  6. the scattered... grace of limbs
  7. the hacked and scattered... grace of body as a whole
  8. the bleeding... ornaments and jewelry
  9. the worm-infested... ownership of the body
  10. the skeleton... having fine bones and teeth

11-20 recommended for greed characters.

These and similar lists in the Satipatthana Sutta reflect the time when disposal of corpses upon charnel-grounds was common. Now, however, even in Buddhist lands they are difficult to find, let alone in Western countries. Teachers in Thailand at the present time stress that one's own body is to be seen in these ways as a vision (nimitta) arising in the course of mind-development. As these can be fearful, one should have the instruction of a skilled teacher for dealing with such visions, when they can be of great advantage. It may be stressed here that there is nothing morbid in contemplating such sights, interior or exterior, as these. The body's decay is just something natural, but normally it is not seen because people do not like to admit this. Instead of facing bodily decay and bringing it out into the open, dead bodies are even made to look attractive by embalmers and cosmeticians; and where this cannot be done, they are stowed away in beautiful coffins with bright flowers, etc. Buddhist training makes one look squarely at those aspects of life which normally (that is, with craving) are not considered "nice," and makes one calmly face them in respect of one's own mind and body.

first previous index next last