Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries
Post Reply
frank k
Posts: 705
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by frank k » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:26 am

the definition that occurs frequently in books 1 and 2 of Ab are:
Abhi Dhs, 1. cittuppādakaṇḍaṃ, kāmāvacarakusalaṃ, padabhājanī, para. 7 ⇒

7. katamo tasmiṃ samaye vitakko hoti? yo tasmiṃ samaye takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo — ayaṃ tasmiṃ samaye vitakko hoti.

which is the same as MN 117 def. of samma sankappo

but so far I've only see in the vism. under earth kasina first jhana, where vitakka is redefined as 'initial application' . Everywhere else I've seen so far, like above, vitakka is not 'initial application', but 'thinking'. The 'initial application' you could say is 'cetaso abhiniropana' (that is only operative in vism. redefinition of first jhana). And they are a subset of vitakka, not equivalent to vitakka.

So the passage quoted above, which some English translate vitakka as "initial application", like so:
Tattha katamo vitakko? Yo takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo—ayaṃ vuccati “vitakko”.
Therein what is
initial application
? That which is mentation, thinking, thought, fixation, focussing, application of the mind, right thought. This is called initial application.
Is completely wrong. It should be translated:
Tattha katamo vitakko? Yo takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo—ayaṃ vuccati “vitakko”.
Therein what is
thought
? That which is mentation, thinking, thought, fixation, focussing, application of the mind, right thought. This is called initial application.
The abhiniropana is what Vism. earth kasina first jhana uses to say that vitakka/thought INCLUDES "directing the mind" (initial application) and then striking at thrashing at the object. In other words, this specialized use of vitakka is ONLY WITHIN Vism.'s REDEFINITION of first jhana. And 'initial application' is a subset of vitakka/thought, not the other way around. Thought and thinking is not a subset of 'initial application'.

Doing a pali string search within 7 books of abhidhamma produces too many results to look at them all, but it looks like they're all just repeats of
Abhi Dhs, 1. cittuppādakaṇḍaṃ, kāmāvacarakusalaṃ, padabhājanī, para. 7 ⇒

7. katamo tasmiṃ samaye vitakko hoti? yo tasmiṃ samaye takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo — ayaṃ tasmiṃ samaye vitakko hoti.
Can some Abhdhamma experts confirm this is the case?
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 7304
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:44 am

'Vitakka' in jhana does not mean 'initial application', similar to Ven. Sujato's erroneous 'placing the mind'; similar to the erroneous metaphors of hitting a nail with a hammer or sticking a bell with a stick.

Buddhist jhana is not Hindu 'yogic' meditation but, instead, is born of letting go (vossagga - SN 48.10), where the mind itself develops its own vitakka & vicara rather than has the type of vitakka & vicara that is an act of will.

Vitakka in relation to samadhi is simply consciousness moving towards/descending/falling into/onto the object, similar to say, when mindfulness is established, consciousness 'drops/falls' into the body to track the breaking. This is similar to how water falls or flows into a crack or how water sinks/absorbs into a sponge. Similarly, vitakka is the mind naturally moving into or towards an object (which does not require an act of will).

In jhana, vitakka refers to the mind/consciousness moving very subtly towards various features of rapture, similar to how a visitor to the Sistine Chapel may move their eyes towards various paintings on the dome ceiling.

Thus, in respect to jhana, about vitakka, it appears the Abhidhamma might say:
Pe 7 wrote:Tattha paṭhamābhinipāto vitakko, paṭiladdhassa (dat; gen) vicaraṇaṃ (nom; sing) vicāro (nom; sing).

There with first onto falls thought, is obtained roaming examination

paṭhamābhinipāto vitakko = initial descent of thought

https://suttacentral.net/pe7/pli/ms
In other words, according to Abhidhamma, it appears possible the key Pali term describing the character of vitakka in jhana is "nipatati", which means to "sink into; fall into; convene, come together".

It appears to not mean hitting a nail with a hammer or striking a bell with a stick, which is the erroneous "initial application". It means for the mind/consciousness to "flow" into the object; like a stream of water flows into a creek bed for "stream-entry". :smile:
In summary, according to Abhidhamma, it appears vitakka might have the quality/characteristic of "nipāta/nipatati". :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:10 pm, edited 4 times in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 3506
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by robertk » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:58 am

From Nina Van Gorkom's book on cetasikas:

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.

Srilankaputra
Posts: 872
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:56 am
Location: Sri Lanka

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by Srilankaputra » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:12 pm

I am not an expert, but a few thoughts for your consideration.

In the Abhidhamma method of analysis what we would normaly consider as a simple thought like 'is this first jhana?'. Is not a simple process at all. Just to have a thought like that many, many different cittas has to arise in series accompanied by the vitakka cetasika taking many different objects.

But in the first jhana according to Abhidhamma, the series of cittas takes the same object. The vitakka cetasika is then termed appana or arpana. Performing the function of absorbing the mind to the object.
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

frank k
Posts: 705
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by frank k » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:26 pm

Yes, that Vism. quote below is what I'm talking about from earth kasina first jhana.
Is Atthasalini (buddhaghosa's commentary of book 1 of Abhidhamma) the only other places where vitakka gets a redefinition?
Am I correct in saying the 7 canonical books of Theravada abhidhamma all consistently use this definition (same as MN 117 for samma sankappo)
Abhi Dhs, 1. cittuppādakaṇḍaṃ, kāmāvacarakusalaṃ, padabhājanī, para. 7 ⇒

7. katamo tasmiṃ samaye vitakko hoti? yo tasmiṃ samaye takko vitakko saṅkappo appanā byappanā cetaso abhiniropanā sammāsaṅkappo — ayaṃ tasmiṃ samaye vitakko hoti.
That seems to be a case in looking through the thousands of hits that come up searching the string "vitakk" in abhidhamma. But I haven't looked through them all, and would like an expert witness to confirm.
robertk wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:58 am
From Nina Van Gorkom's book on cetasikas:

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.
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

frank k
Posts: 705
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by frank k » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:30 pm

Theravada abhidhamma changed quite a bit over time. How jhana and appana samadhi works in vimutti magga, is a lot closer to what the EBT pali suttas say. In Vimt., appana samadhi means the 5 hindrances are completely suppressed, as opposed to a medicore or low quality first jhana when perceptions/sañña related to 5 hindrances can color the landscape of the mind, like little darts or thorns.
Srilankaputra wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:12 pm
I am not an expert, but a few thoughts for your consideration.

In the Abhidhamma method of analysis what we would normaly consider as a simple thought like 'is this first jhana?'. Is not a simple process at all. Just to have a thought like that many, many different cittas has to arise in series accompanied by the vitakka cetasika taking many different objects.

But in the first jhana according to Abhidhamma, the series of cittas takes the same object. The vitakka cetasika is then termed appana or arpana. Performing the function of absorbing the mind to the object.
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 3506
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:55 am

frank k wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:30 pm
Theravada abhidhamma changed quite a bit over time. How jhana and appana samadhi works in vimutti magga, is a lot closer to what the EBT pali suttas say. In
The Vimuttimagga is not a Theravada text.

User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 971
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:44 am

robertk wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:55 am
frank k wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:30 pm
Theravada abhidhamma changed quite a bit over time. How jhana and appana samadhi works in vimutti magga, is a lot closer to what the EBT pali suttas say. In
The Vimuttimagga is not a Theravada text.
Thanks. :thanks:
.


🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐

Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 3506
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:05 am

Vitakka is conditioned by the other elements that arise with it, and by the object and so on. It may be a predominant factor of the mind at times or very minor.
It arises almost constantly in daily life, but in the initial development of jhana it has a strong presence.

And it assists in vipassana.


Nina van Gorkom again:
http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas10.html
There is another aspect of vitakka I want to mention. Vitakka is one of the factors of the eightfold Path and as such it is called: samma-sankappa, right thinking. Samma-sankappa has to arise together with samma-ditthi, right understanding, in order to be a factor of the eightfold Path (1 The factors of the eightfold Path are: right understanding (see chapter 34), right thinking, right speech, right action and right livelihood (for the last three see Chapter 32), right effort see (Chapter 10). right mindfulness (see chapter 26) and right concentration (see Chapter 61). These factors perform each their specific function so that the goal can ce attained: the eradication of defilements. The reader will also come across the term insight or vipassana and satipatthana. The development of vipassana, the development of satipatthana or the development of the eightfold Path, it all amounts to the development of right understanding of nama and rupa, of ultimate realities. When a realities appears through one of the six doors there can be a moment of investigation of its characteristic: it can be seen as a nama or a rupa, not a person, not a thing. That is the beginning of understanding of its true nature of non-self. At such a moment there is also mindfulness, non-forgetfulness of the reality appearing at the present moment.). When there is right understanding of a nama or rupa which appears, there are both vitakka and vicara accompanying the citta, but vicara is not a factor of the eightfold Path. Samma-sankappa has its specific function as path-factor. Samma-sankappa "touches" the nama or rupa which appears so that samma-ditthi can investigate its characteristic in order to understand it as it is. Thus, samma-ditthi needs the assistance of samma-sankappa in order to develop

SarathW
Posts: 13554
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by SarathW » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:59 am

It appears Vitakka in Abhidhamma is ethically indeterminate as it is a particular mental factor.
if that is the case it should be Sankappa, not Samma Sankappa.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el322.html
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 3506
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:29 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:59 am
It appears Vitakka in Abhidhamma is ethically indeterminate as it is a particular mental factor.
if that is the case it should be Sankappa, not Samma Sankappa.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el322.html
:shrug:
it becomes ' ethical' depending on the other factors associated with it.
In the case of samma Sankappa it arises in conjunction with samma ditthi and samma sati which are exclusively wholesome factors.

SarathW
Posts: 13554
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by SarathW » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:43 pm

Could Vitakka be unwholesome?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 3506
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by robertk » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:51 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:43 pm
Could Vitakka be unwholesome?
Yes sure.

Such as
thought of sense-pleasures (kama-vitakka)
thought of malevolence (vyapada-vitakka)
thought of harming (vihimsa-vitakka )

frank k
Posts: 705
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 4:55 pm

Re: Attention Abhidhamma experts, where in Abhdhamma is vitakka ever defined as "initial application"?

Post by frank k » Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:14 am

https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2 ... hana.html
excerpt:
Even when Vism. Earth Kasina First Jhāna is redefining 'vitakka', it still should be translated as 'thinking'!
Quoted below is Nanamolis Eng. translation of the Vism. passage in question.
He translates vitakka as 'applied thought', and vicara as 'sustained thought'.
U Thittila, translates V&V as 'initial application' and 'sustained application', which is wronger than wrong, because it takes 'thought' completely out of the process.

What I just realized today, is that both translators are wrong, even in the very spot where vitakka is getting redefined in the earth kasina first jhana!
www.lucid24.org/sted : ☸Lucid24.org🐘 STED definitions
www.audtip.org/audtip: 🎙️🔊Audio Tales in Pāli: ☸Dharma and Vinaya in many languages

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests