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How did the two-part compound 打坐 come to mean seated meditation? What is the function of the 打 in that compound?

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According to the 《佛光大辭典》,

打坐

指跏趺而坐 (to sit cross-legged),使心入定 (to settle the mind)。

即指坐禪 (za-zen, to meditate)。

「打」,動作行為之意 (means to do or to act)。

According to the 《汉语大词典》,

打 (36)

谓从事某种工作 (to do some kind of work) 或做出某种行为 (to make some kind of behavior)。

Therefore, the 打 in 打坐 means to do, and 打坐 is to do the 靜坐 (to sit still with a peaceful mind).

Since the purpose of 打坐 is to settle the mind, it refers to meditation.

(dan chose 打(38) in the 《汉语大词典》.)

  • Just to open a bit discussion. I think 打(38) is more appropriete. If you take 打(36), then 坐 has to be a noun word. The only case 坐 could be a noun is when it means 'seat', as in "就坐". I think 坐 in 打坐 should be a verb denoting "to sit", not a noun 'seat'. So, 打(38) make more sense here, because it can take another verb to form a compound word, as in 打扫,打扮, where both 扫 and 扮 are verbs. – dan Oct 20 '18 at 15:34
  • @dan Looking at the synonym「打禪」, the target of「打」should be a noun.「禪」is a noun meaning Buddhist meditation (see en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dhyana). – droooze Oct 21 '18 at 0:43
  • @droooze Yeah, 禅 is a noun for sure. 坐, to sit, should be a verb. 坐 is a noun only as 座位. – dan Oct 21 '18 at 1:03
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One of sense of 打 is:

与某些动词结合为复词,表示进行之意。E.g. 打扫;打扮

It denotes the continuity of an action. So, 打坐 means sit and continue it on and on, that is, meditation.

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打坐 is a whole word meaning meditation. If you separate the character, it doesn't mean anything related to meditation. 打 as a verb means hit.

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