Counting the Breath in Kum􀆘rajīva’s Meditation Texts

Dr. Fa Qing

Abstract


Mindfulness of breathing (ānāpānasmṛti) is one of the meditation methods taught by the Buddha. In the early sūtras, the mindfulness of breathing was explained under sixteen modes.  The early texts also explained the four methods of practice breathing.  In the Northern tradition, mindfulness of breathing was developed as the six gates.  “Counting the breath” is stressed for those who have more discursive thoughts.  Kumārajīva translated and compiled the meditations texts based on Indian meditation masters.  He also teaches mindfulness of the Buddha as the Bodhisattva’s meditation practice.  Kumārajīva’s Dhyāna Sūtra helps the Chinese in understanding better the earlier translated meditation texts.  The mindfulness of breathing is a great tool for modern people to practice meditation.  Counting breath is more effective for removing discursive thoughts, thus good for the beginners.  It is the perfect meditation method for modern people.


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