barcsimalsi wrote:What vitakka actually means?
Initial thought, Application of thought, mental factor...
Different label of words gave different impression towards its meaning, looking forward to understand more about it.
From the Nina Van Gorkom's book on cetasikas:
The Visuddhimagga ( IV,88) defines vitakka as follows:
... Herein, applied thinking (vitakkama) is applied thought (vitakka); hitting upon, is what is meant. It has the characteristic of directing the mind onto an object (mounting the mind on its object). Its function is to strike at and thresh- for the mediator (2 The Visuddhimagga deals with vitakka in the section on samatha. The meditator is someone who cultivates samatha.) is said, in virtue of it, to have the object touched and struck at by applied thought. It is manifested as the leading of the mind onto an object...
The Atthasalini (Book I, Part IV, Chapter I, 114) gives a similar definition. This commentary uses a simile of someone who wants to "ascend" the king's palace and depends on a relative or friend dear to the king to achieve this. In the same way the citta which is accompanied by vitakka depends on the latter in order to "ascend" to the object, to be directed to the object. Vitakka leads the citta to the object so that citta can cognize it.
What gave rise to vitakka?
Can vitakka arise without the mind coming into contact with external objects or mental objects?
Vitaka arises with most cittas, except for the 5 pairs of sense consciousness (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching- which can be the result of either wholesome or unwholesome kamma), and the jhana cittas from the second stage up.
Vitaka arises because of numerous conditions: kamma condition; vipaka condition ; conascence condition etc....It doesn't arise at someone's will. In case of the development of samatha, when it hist again and again the same object, it arises because of natural decisive condition (in particular object-natural decisive condition), among other conditions. Understanding more details about this allow us to understand more about anattaness and about the true nature of samatha bhavana....
Vitaka has to arise with citta, since cetasikas can only arise together with citta. When a citta arises, it arises to experience an object, be it nama, rupa or just a concept, or Nibanna. So vitaka never arises without citta, and it always experiences an object.
More details on vitaka can be found in the book mentioned above:http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas10.html