The body (kàya or sarãra) is the physical structure of the individual. According to the Buddha's analysis, the body is one of the five constituents that make up the individual and consists of the elements of solidity, fluidity, caloricity and space (D.II,294). He describes the body as `material, made of the four elements, derived from mother and father, maintained on rice and gruel, impermanent, liable to injury and abrasion, being broken and destroyed, bound up with consciousness and dependent on it' (ettha sitam ettha patibaddham, D.I,76). Following the medical theories of the time, he identified 31 significant body-parts Ý hair of the head, body hair, nails, teeth, skin, muscle tissue, ligaments, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, bowels, stomach, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, body oil, saliva, nasal mucus, lymphatic fluid and urine (M.I,57). Later commentators added a 32nd part, the brain. The ancient Buddhists said that body also has nine orifices (nava sotà); the two eyes, ears and nostrils, the mouth, anus and urethra (Sn.197) and two layers of skin; the epidermis (chavi) and the dermis (camma, A.IV,129). They also identified 60 tendons and ligaments (nahàru, Vism.253).
The Buddha recommended sometimes contemplating the unpleasant aspects of the body. This was not because he believed that the body is disgusting, but to balance the general tendency to regard only its pleasant and desirable aspects. A more realistic and balanced understanding to the body can help lessen personal vanity and cool sexual desire. However, the Buddha also said that physical attractiveness is a blessing to the degree that it does not arouse vanity (A.III,47).
Because of the close connection between body and mind anyone practising meditation has to take into account the state of the body. The Buddha said that `bodily discomfort scatters the mind to externals '(S.V,156). He also said that `when the body is tired, the mind is distorted and when the mind is distorted it is far from concentrated' (M.I,116). Consequently, a relaxed comfortable body is an important prerequisite for successful meditation. See Hygiene and Posture.