A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby CecilN » Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:32 am

Zom wrote:I can confirm Ven. Sujato's statement, that even long before jhana you can have absolutely still mind without any single thought for a long period of time....

Does this mean 'metta-jhana' is not possible, such as to mentally recite "May all beings..." on the in-breath and "...be happy" on the out-breath? Thanks

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:52 am

According to the commentaries the "Metta phrases" would be dropped before jhana. I don't think the suttas specify such phrases.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Buddha Vacana » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:50 am

mikenz66 wrote:According to the commentaries the "Metta phrases" would be dropped before jhana. I don't think the suttas specify such phrases.

Perhaps not Metta, but abyapada:

AN 10.176 wrote:He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. [He thinks,] 'May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!'

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 7:00 am

Thanks for that reference!

However, it doesn't seem to be specifically about jhana:
“And how is one made pure in three ways by mental action? There is the case where a certain person is not covetous. He does not covet the belongings of others, thinking, ‘O, that what belongs to others would be mine!’ He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. [He thinks,] ‘May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!’ He has right view and is not warped in the way he sees things: ‘There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.’ This is how one is made pure in three ways by mental action.
https://suttacentral.net/en/an10.176/23

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Buddha Vacana » Sun Jan 01, 2017 7:51 am

No it's not, but MN 78 as showed in the O.P. clearly states that abyapada-sankappa can be present up to the second jhana, and given that abyapada is defined at AN 10.176 by a mental phrase, I think this makes a pretty strong case.

Abyāpanna-citto hoti appaduṭṭha-mana-saṅkappo: ‘ime sattā a-verā hontu a-byāpajjā, an-īghā sukhī attānaṃ pariharantū’ti.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Mkoll » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:31 am

Dmytro wrote:Thank you for the detailed and careful study!

Yes, thank you. I think you have a pretty good argument.
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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby CecilN » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:00 am

Mkoll wrote:Yes, thank you. I think you have a pretty good argument.

Buddha Vacana wrote:As we can see here, when the meditator is working with « thoughts of the Dhamma » (dhammavitakka), the text speaks of « his concentration, » that is not calm or refined, and that has « not yet reached unity » (ekodibhāva). This word is very telling, because it comes up in the second jhana formula, as one of its characteristics:

This argument is not "pretty good", i.e., it is not conclusive, because the words "cittaṃ ekaggaṃ" preceding the 1st jhana found in MN 19 are not found in AN 3.101. In MN 19, verbal thoughts stop before cittaṃ ekaggaṃ.
MN 19 wrote:Āraddhaṃ kho pana me, bhikkhave, vīriyaṃ ahosi asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. So kho ahaṃ, bhikkhave, vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehiakusala: dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihāsiṃ. Vitak­ka­vicārā­naṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihāsiṃ.

***
Buddha Vacana wrote:If in the context of jhana, by saying that ‘vitakka’ is present, the Buddha meant that the mind is directing itself towards the object, while there would be no ‘thoughts’, then he could also have used other much less misleading terms, such as ‘manasikāra’.

This argument is refuted by MN 111, which includes ‘manasikāra’ as a constituent of every jhana.

Buddha Vacana wrote:Bhante now tries to convince the reader that not only ‘vitakka’ has a completely different meaning in the context of jhana, but so do all other words in the formulas. This is probably the least convincing argument in this article.

Sujato, Brahmavamso & Buddhadasa (in 1971) are merely three authors sharing the same view that 'vitakka' & 'vicara' are not verbal thought but movements of the citta indicative of incomplete composure. Buddhadasa compared vicara to a calf tied to a post that continues "prancing" around the post. Page 205: http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Buddhadas ... nasati.pdf , starts page 203 & then in the context of the 1st jhana on page 211.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Mkoll » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:59 am

CecilN wrote:This argument is not "pretty good"

That is your opinion, CecilN/Element/Deeele/whatever other smurf accounts you're using. It's not necessarily shared by everyone.

In the future, if you'd like to present a counter-argument to someone's post that I happen to simply compliment without adding further points or ideas, please do so without quoting me. It is unnecessary to make your counter-argument and impels me to reply. Thanks.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Buddha Vacana » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:40 am

CecilN wrote:In MN 19, verbal thoughts stop before cittaṃ ekaggaṃ.

I don't quite understand what is the logic behind this assumption. I have demonstrated that MN 19 does not present a fully linear progression, so what is mentioned later in the text doesn't necessarily come later in actual practice moment to moment.

MN 19 wrote:Āraddhaṃ kho pana me, bhikkhave, vīriyaṃ ahosi asallīnaṃ, upaṭṭhitā sati asammuṭṭhā, passaddho kāyo asāraddho, samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ. So kho ahaṃ, bhikkhave, vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehiakusala: dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihāsiṃ. Vitak­ka­vicārā­naṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja vihāsiṃ.

If your argument to demonstrate that thoughts have stopped before the first jhana is that the expression "cittaṃ ekaggaṃ" appears before the formula, you probably assume that "cittaṃ ekaggaṃ" implies ending of thought (perhaps you are equating this with ekaggata as understood in the Vsm, tell me if I am wrong, but that's the only way I can make sense of your argument). If that is so, well, you may want to reconsider the meaning of ekaggata in the suttas, which (paralleling the case of vitakka) is obviously not as narrow as the Vsm understands it:

Buddha Vacana wrote:viewtopic.php?f=43&t=20612&start=80#p408054

AN 5.151: one should be ekaggacitta while listening to a Dhamma talk
suṇanto saddhammaṃ ... avikkhittacitto dhammaṃ suṇāti ekaggacitto yoniso ca manasi karoti.

while listening to the good Dhamma ... one listens to the Dhamma with an undistracted and one-pointed mind; one attends to it appropriately.


AN 4.12: one should have cittaṃ ekaggaṃ while walking:
“carato cepi ... samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ, carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ... samitaṃ āraddhavīriyo pahitatto’ti vuccati

if while walking ... his mind is concentrated and one-pointed, then that bhikkhu is said to be ... continuously energetic and resolute while walking.



Buddha Vacana wrote:If in the context of jhana, by saying that ‘vitakka’ is present, the Buddha meant that the mind is directing itself towards the object, while there would be no ‘thoughts’, then he could also have used other much less misleading terms, such as ‘manasikāra’.

This argument is refuted by MN 111, which includes ‘manasikāra’ as a constituent of every jhana.

Yeah but MN 111, like MN 117 has serious authenticity problems, as far as I am aware. And also, this doesn't render my argument ineffective in any way. Even if MN 111 had no authenticity problem, it would still be quite confusing to explain such an important distinction in only one sutta (or is it found anywhere else?).

Buddha Vacana wrote:Bhante now tries to convince the reader that not only ‘vitakka’ has a completely different meaning in the context of jhana, but so do all other words in the formulas. This is probably the least convincing argument in this article.

Sujato, Brahmavamso & Buddhadasa (in 1971) are merely three authors sharing the same view that 'vitakka' & 'vicara' are not verbal thought but movements of the citta indicative of incomplete composure. Buddhadasa compared vicara to a calf tied to a post that continues "prancing" around the post. Page 205: http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Buddhadas ... nasati.pdf , starts page 203 & then in the context of the 1st jhana on page 211.

Sorry, we don't take arguments of authority.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby CecilN » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:13 pm

Buddha Vacana wrote:AN 5.151: one should be ekaggacitta while listening to a Dhamma talk
suṇanto saddhammaṃ ... avikkhittacitto dhammaṃ suṇāti ekaggacitto yoniso ca manasi karoti.

while listening to the good Dhamma ... one listens to the Dhamma with an undistracted and one-pointed mind; one attends to it appropriately.


AN 4.12: one should have cittaṃ ekaggaṃ while walking:
“carato cepi ... samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ, carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ... samitaṃ āraddhavīriyo pahitatto’ti vuccati

if while walking ... his mind is concentrated and one-pointed, then that bhikkhu is said to be ... continuously energetic and resolute while walking.

These arguments are not strong because they refer to one-pointedness is specific contexts, such as listening & walking; just as MN 19 refers to one-pointedness is the specific context of "concentration". Since when did concentration imply active verbal thinking?

Tireless energy was aroused in me and unremitting mindfulness was established, my body was tranquil and untroubled, my mind concentrated and unified. MN 19

****
Buddha Vacana wrote:Yeah but MN 111, like MN 117 has serious authenticity problems, as far as I am aware.

Sorry, we don't take arguments of authority. Who has proposed authenticity problems? Sujato & his group? It sounds like your argument has been self-contradicted twice, in that: (i) it relied on the authority of Sujato & his group (who try to debunk MN 117 because MN 117 treats their beloved "re-birth" as 2nd rate dhamma); and (ii) the Sujato group is the very group you are trying to debunk with this thread. You will have to do better than to write-off MN 117 and MN 111, which are dhamma well-spoken.

Also, your 'manasikara' argument in itself is weak because 'manasikara' implies pondering, discernment & reflectiveness, which possibly may fall into the wisdom faculty rather than concentration faculty.

Vitakka refers to 'thought', which is like a 'blip' arising out of what is calm & stable. Vitakka is obviously better than manasikara.

Buddha Vacana wrote:Sorry, we don't take arguments of authority.

Generally, I would fully agree with you here but the issue here is those that have actually experienced real jhana will always disagree with you. It is similar to an astronaut that has experienced floating in space & an astronomer from earth attempting to argue by using a telescope that floating in space is not possible. Buddhism is an experiential tradition. Those that spent years meditation in forest before they became teachers probably have more authority. If they tell you that your ideas or "over-estimation" about jhana is not jhana, why would they do that? Out of conceit? To put you down? If that was so, is not the whole faith in the Sangha is destroyed?

Sorry, but as I honestly advised MKoll, your arguments are not "pretty good".

Therefore, allow me to ask you a question for you to reply to: "What types or manner of thinking (vitakka) do you expect or believe occur in the 1st jhana?" Thanks

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Buddha Vacana » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:27 pm

CecilN wrote:These arguments are not strong because they refer to one-pointedness is specific contexts, such as listening & walking; just as MN 19 refers to one-pointedness is the specific context of "concentration". Since when did concentration imply active verbal thinking?

What they demonstrate is that the meaning of the expression is not very narrow. You don't have any evidence that it should mean something completely different in different contexts, or do you? Actually if you take Occam's razor, saying that the meaning is not clear involves less assumptions than saying it has a definite and narrow yet unverifiable meaning.

Buddha Vacana wrote:Yeah but MN 111, like MN 117 has serious authenticity problems, as far as I am aware.

Sorry, we don't take arguments of authority. Who has proposed authenticity problems?

This is not an argument of authority. It's an argument coming from comparative studies. Actually, I proposed that authenticity problem, see my article Early and late in MN 117. This is also heavily corroborated by Bhante Analayo's The Mahācattārīsaka-sutta in the Light of its Parallels. Anyway, as I said this is not even the point. The fact that manasikara is mentioned in MN 111 doesn't make up for the fact that it is not mentioned in the first jhana pericope, in place of vitakka, which would be an utterly misleading term to use.

Sujato & his group? It sounds like your argument has been self-contradicted twice, in that: (i) it relied on the authority of Sujato & his group (who try to debunk MN 117 because MN 117 treats their beloved "re-birth" as 2nd rate dhamma); and (ii) the Sujato group is the very group you are trying to debunk with this thread. You will have to do better than to write-off MN 117 and MN 111, which are dhamma well-spoken.

:roll:

Also, your 'manasikara' argument in itself is weak because 'manasikara' implies pondering, discernment & reflectiveness, which possibly may fall into the wisdom faculty rather than concentration faculty.

Did you not say that manasikara is mentioned as part of the concentration faculty for each jhana in MN 111? :roll:

According to Ven. Nyanatiloka:
manasikàra: ‘attention’, ‘mental advertence’,
‘reflection’.
1. As a psychological term, attention belongs to the
formation-group (sankhàra-kkhandha; s. Tab. II) and is
one of the 7 mental factors (cetasika) that are insepar-
ably associated with all states of consciousness
(s. cetanà). In M. 9, it is given as one of the factors
representative of mind (nàma) It is the mind’s first
‘confrontation with an object’ and ‘binds the associated
mental factors to the object.’ It is, therefore, the promi-
nent factor in two specific classes of consciousness:
i.e. ‘advertence (àvajjana, q.v.) at the five sense-doors’

Now, I am not an expert on the exact meaning of manasikara in the suttas, so if this definition of Ven. Nyanatiloka turns out to be erroneous, I might have to remove that example from my article. But it still needs to be proven (I'll have a closer look). Anyway, in the end, it doesn't change much my argument, just that this particular example, in case it does turn out to be that way, is not appropriate. But the other ones I provided ("cittaṃ abhinīharati" or "cittaṃ paṇidahitabbaṃ") clearly are from their context, there is no question about it.


Buddha Vacana wrote:Sorry, we don't take arguments of authority.

Generally, I would fully agree with you here but the issue here is those that have actually experienced real jhana will always disagree with you.

:roll:
We are trying to get past circular arguments.

It is similar to an astronaut that has experienced floating in space & an astronomer from earth attempting to argue by using a telescope that floating in space is not possible. Buddhism is an experiential tradition. Those that spent years meditation in forest before they became teachers probably have more authority. If they tell you that your ideas or "over-estimation" about jhana is not jhana, why would they do that? Out of conceit? To put you down? If that was so, is not the whole faith in the Sangha is destroyed?

Not all people who are highly developed agree with your understanding of jhana. So arguments of authority just don't work.

allow me to ask you a question for you to reply to: "What types or manner of thinking (vitakka) do you expect or believe occur in the 1st jhana?" Thanks

I have already answered in the O.P. See my quote from MN 78.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Buddha Vacana » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:16 am

Buddha Vacana wrote:
CecilN wrote:Also, your 'manasikara' argument in itself is weak because 'manasikara' implies pondering, discernment & reflectiveness, which possibly may fall into the wisdom faculty rather than concentration faculty.

Did you not say that manasikara is mentioned as part of the concentration faculty for each jhana in MN 111? :roll:

According to Ven. Nyanatiloka:
manasikàra: ‘attention’, ‘mental advertence’,
‘reflection’.
1. As a psychological term, attention belongs to the
formation-group (sankhàra-kkhandha; s. Tab. II) and is
one of the 7 mental factors (cetasika) that are insepar-
ably associated with all states of consciousness
(s. cetanà). In M. 9, it is given as one of the factors
representative of mind (nàma) It is the mind’s first
‘confrontation with an object’ and ‘binds the associated
mental factors to the object.’ It is, therefore, the promi-
nent factor in two specific classes of consciousness:
i.e. ‘advertence (àvajjana, q.v.) at the five sense-doors’

Now, I am not an expert on the exact meaning of manasikara in the suttas, so if this definition of Ven. Nyanatiloka turns out to be erroneous, I might have to remove that example from my article. But it still needs to be proven (I'll have a closer look).

So I had a closer look, and it appears that my claim was quite correct. We do find examples in the suttas where manasikara refers to paying attention to the meditation object. I will just give one quote that should be enough to settle the issue:
MN 118
assāsapassāsānaṃ sādhukaṃ manasikāraṃ
careful attention to in-&-out breaths

The same expression recurs a few times in the Anapana Samyutta

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby CecilN » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:05 am

Buddha Vacana wrote: This is also heavily corroborated by Bhante Analayo's The Mahācattārīsaka-sutta in the Light of its Parallels.

This article is poor. The scholarship is poor. For example, this article cannot even distinguish between the term "without effluents' or 'liberation from the effluents' with the 'destruction of the effluents'. There are many suttas that refer to non-arahants acheiving (some) liberation (respite) from the effluents without destroying the effluents completely. MN 117 correctly states that those that try to censure it are themselves censured due to having wrong view. MN 117 is essentially a faultless sutta, regardless of who composed or spoke it.

MN 118
assāsapassāsānaṃ sādhukaṃ manasikāraṃ
careful attention to in-&-out breaths

Yes. This is fine. However, why would the 4th jhana not be subjected to attention?

Not all people who are highly developed agree with your understanding of jhana. So arguments of authority just don't work.

This cannot be true. Again, you are appealing to authority. Who exactly are these alleged "highly developed" people that believe active verbal thinking remains in the 1st jhana?

Jhana is a supernormal state thus it would not be supernormal if thinking remained in it.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Buddha Vacana » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:43 am

:roll:

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Zom » Mon Jan 02, 2017 1:53 pm

Does this mean 'metta-jhana' is not possible, such as to mentally recite "May all beings..." on the in-breath and "...be happy" on the out-breath? Thanks


If we take Ajahn Brahm's explanation - you enter jhana on the inner feeling of metta, not on reciting words. Again, from my personal experience, I can confirm that such feeling can be generated (without any kinds of inner speeches, however, not without imaginary situations which let this feeling appear).

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:33 pm

Hi,

CecilN wrote:"What types or manner of thinking (vitakka) do you expect or believe occur in the 1st jhana?"


Acarn Lee Dhammadharo puts it beautifully:

To think of the breath is termed vitakka, directed thought.
...
1. The first jhana has five factors. (a) Directed thought (vitakka): Think of the breath until you can keep it in mind without getting distracted.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html


"Vitakka" as a term underwent a significant semantic shift. To recover its early meaning, let's explore early sources, starting with Vimuttimagga.
I'll quote Professor Bapat's work on Vimittimagga:

Upatissa also adds another interesting simile, among several others, in which he compares vitakka to a strong man muttering sutta to himself, while vicāra is like pondering over the meaning of the sutta. At the close of his remarks on this subject, Upatissa says that vitakka is equivalent to nirutti-paṭisambhidā, and paṭibhāna-paṭisambhidā, while vicāra is equivalent to attha-paṭisambhidā, and dhamma-paṭisambhidā.[2]

--------------------------------------------
2.See Peṭakopadesa, VIIth Chapter, p. 158, (p. 191 of the Burmese printed edition): Yathā bāliko huṃhiko (tuṇhiko, according to the printed edition) sajjhāyaṃ karoti evaṃ vitakko, yathā taṃ yeva anupassati evaṃ vicaro ... ... Niruttipaṭisaṃbhidāyaṃ ca vitakko, dhammapaṭisambhidāyaṃ ca atthapaṭisambhidāyaṃ ca vicāro.


In "Questions of Milinda", namely, an answer to question on what is "samadhi', "vitakka" is clearly explained "kama-vitakka, byāpādavitakka, vihiṃsāvitakka".

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby CecilN » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:39 pm

Zom wrote:If we take Ajahn Brahm's explanation - you enter jhana on the inner feeling of metta, not on reciting words. Again, from my personal experience, I can confirm that such feeling can be generated (without any kinds of inner speeches, however, not without imaginary situations which let this feeling appear).

Twice now a declaration from you of attaining jhana. :bow:

I would say jhana produces metta rather than metta produces jhana. I would imagine in jhana, the mind is awash with so much bliss & well-being that so much metta naturally exudes.

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:42 pm

Geoff Shatz writes:

With directed thought and evaluation (savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ)

In the thought-world of the Pāḷi discourses, directed thought (vitakka) is closely related to resolve (saṅkappa). MN 78 Samaṇamuṇḍika Sutta tells us that unskillful resolves cease in the first jhāna and that skillful resolves (kusalā saṅkappā) consisting of the resolve of renunciation (nekkhammasaṅkappa), the resolve of non-aversion (abyāpādasaṅkappa), and the resolve of harmlessness (avihiṃsāsaṅkappa) don’t cease until the second jhāna. This provides some context as to the meaning and significance of directed thought and evaluation (vicāra) in the standard jhāna formula. The Samaṇamuṇḍika Sutta states:

And what are skillful resolves? Being resolved on renunciation, on non-aversion, on harmlessness. These are called skillful resolves. What is the cause of skillful resolves? Their cause, too, has been stated, and they are said to be recognition-caused. Which recognition? — for recognition has many modes and permutations. Any renunciation-recognition, non-aversion-recognition, or harmlessness-recognition: That is the cause of skillful resolves.

Now where do skillful resolves cease without trace? Their stopping, too, has been stated: There is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, enters and remains in the second jhāna, which has internal serene-clarity and unification of mind free from thought and evaluation, and has joy and pleasure born of composure. This is where skillful resolves cease without trace.


Of course, any experienced meditator with proficiency in attention training knows that adventitious discursive thinking inhibits the calming of the mind. And so the directed thought and evaluation of the first jhāna is more refined than adventitious discursiveness. It’s the skillful application of the cognitive faculty to a particular theme of focus, without lapsing from that focus. To be effective, directed thought and evaluation must necessarily work in concert with the concomitant application of mindfulness and sustained attention. In this way, directed thought and evaluation help to serve as causal factors for the abandoning of the hindrances, the arising of the other jhāna factors, as well as aiding in the maintenance of the jhāna factors once the first jhāna has been successfully entered.

This understanding of directed thought and evaluation finds support in the early para-canonical Peṭakopadesa, which in it’s analysis of the jhāna factors is closer to the suttas than are the definitions given in the Abhidhammapiṭaka. Regarding directed thought and evaluation in the first jhāna formula, Peṭakopadesa 7.72 offers the following word-commentary:

Tatthaalobhassa pāripūriyā nekkhammavitakkaṃ vitakketi. Tattha adosassa pāripūriyā abyāpādavitakkaṃ vitakketi. Tattha amohassa pāripūriyā avihiṃsāvitakkaṃ vitakketi.

Here, for fulfilling non-passion he thinks the thought of renunciation. Here, for fulfilling non-aggression he thinks the thought of non-aversion. Here, for fulfilling non-delusion he thinks the thought of harmlessness.

Tattha alobhassa pāripūriyā vivitto hoti kāmehi. Tattha adosassa pāripūriyā amohassa pāripūriyā ca vivitto hoti pāpakehi akusalehi dhammehi, savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.

Here, for fulfilling non-passion he is secluded from sensual pleasures. Here, for fulfilling non-aggression and fulfilling non-delusion he is secluded from unskillful phenomena. And so he enters and remains in the first jhāna, which includes directed thought and evaluation, as well as joy and pleasure born of seclusion.

Vitakkāti tayo vitakkā – nekkhammavitakko abyāpādavitakko avihiṃsāvitakko.

Directed thought: There are three kinds of directed thought, namely the thought of renunciation, the thought of non-aversion, and the thought of harmlessness.

Tattha paṭhamābhinipāto vitakko, paṭiladdhassa vicaraṇaṃ vicāro.

Here, directed thought is the first instance while evaluation is the evaluation of what is thereby received.

Yathā puriso dūrato purisaṃ passati āgacchantaṃ, na ca tāva jānāti eso itthīti vā purisoti vā yadā tu paṭilabhati itthīti vā purisoti vā evaṃ vaṇṇoti vā evaṃ saṇṭhānoti vā ime vitakkayanto uttari upaparikkhanti kiṃ nu kho ayaṃ sīlavā udāhu dussīlo aḍḍho vā duggatoti vā. Evaṃ vicāro vitakke appeti, vicāro cariyati ca anuvattati ca.

Just as when a man sees someone approaching in the distance he does not yet know whether it is a woman or a man, but when he has received [the recognition] that “it is a woman” or “it is a man” or that “it is of such color” or that “it is one of such shape,” then when he has thought this he further scrutinizes, “How then, is he ethical or unethical, rich or poor?” This is examination. With directed thought he fixes. With examination he moves about and turns over [what has been thought].

Yathā pakkhī pubbaṃ āyūhati pacchā nāyūhati yathā āyūhanā evaṃ vitakko, yathā pakkhānaṃ pasāraṇaṃ evaṃ vicāro anupālati vitakketi vicarati vicāreti. Vitakkayati vitakketi, anuvicarati vicāreti. Kāmasaññāya paṭipakkho vitakko, byāpādasaññāya vihiṃsasaññāya ca paṭipakkho vicāro. Vitakkānaṃ kammaṃ akusalassa amanasikāro, vicārānaṃ kammaṃ jeṭṭhānaṃ saṃvāraṇā.

And just as a winged bird first accumulates [speed] and then accumulates no more [speed when gliding], so too, directed thought is like the accumulation, and evaluation is like the outstretched wings which keeps preserving the directed thought and evaluation....

Yathā paliko tuṇhiko sajjhāyaṃ karoti evaṃ vitakko, yathā taṃyeva anupassati evaṃ vicāro. Yathā apariññā evaṃ vitakko. Yathā pariññā evaṃ vicāro. Niruttipaṭisambhidāyañca paṭibhānapaṭisambhidāyañca vitakko, dhammapaṭisambhidāyañca atthapaṭisambhidāyañca vicāro. Kallitā kosallattaṃ cittassa vitakko, abhinīhārakosallaṃ cittassa vicāro . Idaṃ kusalaṃ idaṃ akusalaṃ idaṃ bhāvetabbaṃ idaṃ pahātabbaṃ idaṃ sacchikātabbanti vitakko, yathā pahānañca bhāvanā ca sacchikiriyā ca evaṃ vicāro.

Directed thought is like a text-reciter who does his recitation silently. Evaluation is like him simply contemplating it. Directed thought is like a lack of full comprehension (apariññā). Evaluation is like full comprehension (pariññā). Directed thought is the analytical understanding of language (niruttipaṭisambhidā) and the analytical understanding of knowledge (paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā). Evaluation is the analytical understanding of dhamma (dhammapaṭisambhidā) and the analytical understanding of meaning (atthapaṭisambhidā). Directed thought is the mind’s skill in pleasantness. Evaluation is the mind’s skill in endeavor. Directed thought is about this being skillful, this unskillful, about this to be developed, this to be abandoned, this to be verified. Evaluation is like the abandoning, the development, the verification.

Imesu vitakkavicāresu ṭhitassa duvidhaṃ dukkhaṃ na uppajjati kāyikañca cetasikañca; duvidhaṃ sukhaṃ uppajjati kāyikañca cetasikañca. Iti vitakkajanitaṃ cetasikaṃ sukhaṃ pīti kāyikaṃ sukhaṃ kāyikoyeva. Yā tattha cittassa ekaggatā, ayaṃ samādhi. Iti paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ pañcaṅgavippahīnaṃ pañcaṅgasamannāgataṃ.


And so, in light of the above sutta and early commentarial passages we can see that narrowly interpreting vitakka and vicāra as “initial and sustained attention” or “initial and sustained intention” represents a later semantic shift in the meaning of these terms in the context of jhāna which isn’t supported by their occurrence in the suttas and early commentarial sources such as the Peṭakopadesa.1 Moreover, in the list of mental factors given in MN 111, which the meditator can discern individually as they occur by employing clear seeing (anupadadhammavipassanā) while abiding in jhāna, we find vitakka as well as attention (manasikāra) and intention (cetanā) listed. If any of these three terms were synonyms for the same mental referent then there would be no way to differentiate between them, and it would have been pointless for this discourse to mention all three phenomena.

http://measurelessmind.ca/jhana.html

Vimuttimagga quotes extensively this passage from the Peṭakopadesa explicitly in the context of explaining the jhāna factors of vitakka & vicāra in the first jhāna. See The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga), pp. 87-88.

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Dmytro
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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:47 pm

Now let's compare these early descriptions with independent sources, first, from Jaina tradition:

Commentary on Tattvarth Sutra of Vacaka Umasvati

The Types :

Like the other types of dhyana sukla dhyana too is divided into four subtypes. The four are designated as follows :
(1) Prthaktvavitarka‑savicara.
(2) Ekatvavitarka‑nirvicara.
(3) Suksmakriya‑pratipatin.
(4) Vyuparatakriyanivrtti (or Samucchinnakriyanivrtti)

The Nature :

The first two subtypes of sukla dhyana have got a common seat ‑ that is to say, both are performed by a person versed in the Purva‑texts; and that exactly is why both have to do with vitarka or scriptural knowledge. However, even if they are mutually similar inasmuch as vitarka is present in both they are dissimilar inasmuch as the first is characterized by prthaktva or difference but the second by ekatva or non‑difference. Similarly, the first subtype is characterized by vicara or transition while the second is devoid of it. Hence it is that the first is given the designation prthaktva‑vitarkasavicara, the second the designation Ekatvavitarka‑avicara. Thus when a performer of dhyana ‑ in case he happens to be versed in the Purva texts then on the basis of such a text, otherwise on the basis of whatever scriptural text he is conversant with ‑ takes up for consideration an inanimate entity like atom etc. or a conscious entity like soul and undertakes in relation to its numerous modes like permanence, destruction, tangibility, non‑tangibility etc. and with the help of the various nayas like dravyastika, paryayastika etc. a reflection dominated by difference ‑ at the same time when on the basis of whatever scriptural knowledge is available to him he in the interest of reflection swithces on from one object of the form of substance to another, from a substance to a mode, or from one mode to another, or when similarly in the interest of reflection he switches on from a meaning to a word or from a word to a meaning or, lastly, when he gives up one of yogas ‑ e.g. that pertaining to manas in order to take up another, then the dhyana concerned is called prthaktvasavitarkasavicara. For in this dhyana, on the basis of vitarka or scriptural knowledge and in relation to one substance the variety ‑ bheda or prthaktva ‑ of its modes is reflected over from various viewpoints, again likewise on the basis of scriptural knowledge there is in it a transition from one meaning to another, from one word to another, from the meaning to the word, from the word to the meaning, also from one type of yoga to another. On the contrary, when a performer of dhyana on the basis of whatever scriptural knowledge is available to him takes up for consideration some one object of the form of mode and undertakes in relation to it a reflection dominated by oneness or non‑difference, again when sticking to some one of the three types of yoga ‑ viz. those pertaining to manas, speech, body ‑ he introduces no change in the form of a transition from word to meaning or vice versa or from one type of yoga to another, then the dhyana concerned is called ekatvavitarka avicara. For in this dhyana even if it is based on scriptural knowledge, there is mainly a reflection over ekatva or oneness ‑ that is, over abheda or non‑difference and there is introduced in it no change as to meaning, word or yoga. As for these two subtypes of dhyana when one's practice of the first that is dominated by difference has become firm, only then is one enabled to perform the second that is dominated by non‑difference. Thus just as the poison of a snake etc. circulating throughout the body is, by means of a magical chant or the like, concentrated on the spot stung, similarly, one's mind unsteadily wandering about amidst the multifarious objects of the world is, by means of dhyana, made steady by being concentrated on some one object. When the steadiness of mind thus becomes firm then just as a burning mass of fire becomes extinct in case all fuel minus a little one ‑ or all fuel whatsoever ‑ is withdrawn away from it so also does the mind, which in the above manner has been made steady be being concentrated on some one object, ultimately becomes absolutely calm. That is to say, its fickleness is done away with and it becomes free of all wavering ‑ with the result that all concealment vitiating knowledge is dissolved and omniscience Lord, during the course of the process called cessation of yoga, ultimately takes recourse to just a subtle bodily yoga while putting an end to all the remaining yogas, then this act of his is called suksmakriyapratipati dhyana. For at this stage there proceed on only the subtle bodily activities like inbreathing and outbreathing ‑ and there is no possibility of a downfall from it. When even the subtle bodily activities like inbreathing and outbreathing ‑ and there is no possibility of a downfall from it. When even the subtle bodily activities like inbreathing and outbreathing cease altogether and the constituent units of the soul concerned become free of all wavering then the state is called samucchinnakriya‑
nivrtti‑dhyana. For in this state there takes place no activity whatsoever ‑ whether gross or subtle and whether pertaining to manas, or to speech or to body; nor does this state ever come to an end. Through the instrumentality of this fourth subtype of dhyana all asrava and all bandha case altogether, all karma is annihilated, and moksa is attained. In the third and fourth subtypes of sukla dhyana no sort of scriptural knowledge is made a basis; hence the two are also called analambana or 'those devoid of a basis.'

‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑
1. The course of the process is supposed to run as follows : First of all, with the help of the gross yoga of body the gross yoga of speech and manas are rendered subtle. Then with the help of the subtle yogas of speech and manas the gross yoga of body is rendered subtle. Then with the help of the subtle yoga of body is rendered subtle. Then with the help of the subtle yoga of body the subtle yoga of speech and manas are stopped altogether. Lastly, the subtle yoga of body too is stopped altogether.

http://www.ibiblio.org/jainism/database ... ttvrth.doc

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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Postby CecilN » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:49 pm

Dmytro wrote:Acarn Lee Dhammadharo puts it beautifully:

To think of the breath is termed vitakka, directed thought.
...
1. The first jhana has five factors. (a) Directed thought (vitakka): Think of the breath until you can keep it in mind without getting distracted.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html

I recall reading this beginner's book when I was a complete novice in Thailand. It is 'yogic' meditation & will not lead far. Thinking of (craving for) the breath will not reach jhana or even supramundane neighbourhood concentration. This is because the very thinking & intention is coarse & an obstacle to refined samadhi.

Ajahn Brahmavamso's book is far more advanced/refined, which uses a 'letting go" method to naturally connect with the breath. The AB book matches the suttas that instruct "vossagga" as the method (SN 48.10; MN 118 last paragraphs).

Whenever the mind/consciousness moves towards & stays with the breath, that is vitakka & vicara. For example, if the mind itself falls into the body & naturally tracks the sensations of the breathing, that touching & tracking the breath sensation is vitakka & vicara. No intentional thinking is required or involved (in relation to the breath). The mind's only intention is abandonment (vossagga). When consciousness moves up & down within the physical body like a yo-yo in its following of the breathing, that moving up & down like a yo-yo is vitakka & vicara (in the context of samadhi meditation).


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