Samadhi (best English translation?)

Explore the ancient language of the Tipitaka and Theravāda commentaries
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tiltbillings
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by tiltbillings »

mikenz66 wrote:Welcome back Venerable! :group:

I wonder if this ambiguity in Pali compounds is a disadvantage (because the meaning seems unclear) or an advantage (giving a rich set of multiple meanings). :thinking:

:anjali:
Mike
It is simply a fact, which allows for playing with multiple meanings.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
Another possible etymological analysis of "samādhi" is "samā" (even) and "dhi" (intellect), a state of total equilibrium ("samā") of a detached intellect ("dhi").
Right... that's how I understand samadhi and what I was getting at with my one word "clarity" definition.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Mr Man
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Mr Man »

I think the translation of a word and the definition of a word a actually two different things.

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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Gena1480 »

concentration has different levels
calm,stilling,one-pointless
and deep samadhi which is like a grenade blows up next to you
calm is like stretching
stilling is like holding
one pointless is like working
deep samadhi is rare since it follows by realization of not-self
metta

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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Buckwheat »

Retro,
My only Pali vocabulary is only about 30-40 words, but I like your translation as clarity. It's a pretty easy, common word found in non-Buddhist contexts. I am a fan of those kinds of translations.

I have to ask, is "samma samadhi" a narrow focus like an ostrich with it's head in the ground, or unwavering focus that faces distractions unwaveringly like a mountain standing tall in a storm. If Samma Samadhi is like the mountain, I like your word clarity. Otherwise, concentration seems more apt.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Cittasanto »

David N. Snyder wrote:I have seen it also translated as 'tranquility' and also 'one-pointedness of mind'.
Where? these are completely different words passadhi & cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ respectivly

Retro - I like focus, clarity seams strange to me as although it is a clear mind state it ignores the undistractedness of it, but concentration I feel adds to much emphasis on one aspect of samadhi, which is given credibility with the number of references to the jhanas, but ignores other infrequent occurrences, such as in MN117 which seams to me to give a more every day doing stuff/not just sitting meditation feel to the practice of Sammasamadhi.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Buckwheat »

Please excuse my poor example above. Ostrich head in the ground is more fear than concentration. I meant to convey a sense of focus where other things are blocked out or repressed. That would contrast with the view of one that has a small acknowledgement of the distraction but never wavers from the real object of concentration. Clarity seems to convey that second sense, where the distraction is not repressed, but it is kept in check so that the object of concentration is seen with unwavering clarity.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Bakmoon »

I think a really good translation in both connotation and denotation is the word "collectedness." I like this translation in particular because it it expresses the meaning of the term in a way that doesn't imply force or the constriction of awareness to a single point (although it still leaves that as an open posibility), and gives people a better sense of what meditation is.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Kumara »

I too find concentration to be a poor translation for samadhi. My meditation teacher, Sayadaw U Tejaniya, prefers stability or stability of mind. In terms of meaning, I think it’s really good as it makes sense in terms of practice—much better than concentration. However, I wasn’t satisfied. I set out to find the best translation, and here’s the result:

Samādhi is the noun for the verb samādhiyati.
Samādhiyati is the passive form for the active verb samādahati.
Samādahati: sam “together” + ādahati “put, place”. So, it means “put together” or “place together”. The English word compose shares a strikingly similar origin: com “together” + ponere “put, place”. (Source: http://www.myetymology.com/english/composure.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and http://dictionary.reference.com/etymology/compose" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) In modern usage, both words can also mean “to still or calm down the mind”.

Composed also share strikingly similar meaning as samāhita (participle of samādahati), which means “settled, composed, collected”. Both denotes a mental state that is not scattered, not “all over the place” (so to speak), but gathered, collected, composed.

Extrapolating from that, the noun samādhi should rightly mean “composure, collectedness”.It is probably the best English equivalent of samādhi.

I’m in the midst of writing an article (which is becoming a booklet) on this among other things related to samādhi. I’m pleasantly surprise to find this discussion on the very topic that set me off on a research spree! Shall share the work with you all when I’m done with it.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Brizzy »

Kumara wrote:I too find concentration to be a poor translation for samadhi. My meditation teacher, Sayadaw U Tejaniya, prefers stability or stability of mind. In terms of meaning, I think it’s really good as it makes sense in terms of practice—much better than concentration. However, I wasn’t satisfied. I set out to find the best translation, and here’s the result:

Samādhi is the noun for the verb samādhiyati.
Samādhiyati is the passive form for the active verb samādahati.
Samādahati: sam “together” + ādahati “put, place”. So, it means “put together” or “place together”. The English word compose shares a strikingly similar origin: com “together” + ponere “put, place”. (Source: http://www.myetymology.com/english/composure.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and http://dictionary.reference.com/etymology/compose" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) In modern usage, both words can also mean “to still or calm down the mind”.

Composed also share strikingly similar meaning as samāhita (participle of samādahati), which means “settled, composed, collected”. Both denotes a mental state that is not scattered, not “all over the place” (so to speak), but gathered, collected, composed.

Extrapolating from that, the noun samādhi should rightly mean “composure, collectedness”.It is probably the best English equivalent of samādhi.

I’m in the midst of writing an article (which is becoming a booklet) on this among other things related to samādhi. I’m pleasantly surprise to find this discussion on the very topic that set me off on a research spree! Shall share the work with you all when I’m done with it.
:goodpost:

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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Kumara »

Bakmoon wrote:I think a really good translation in both connotation and denotation is the word "collectedness." I like this translation in particular because it it expresses the meaning of the term in a way that doesn't imply force or the constriction of awareness to a single point (although it still leaves that as an open posibility), and gives people a better sense of what meditation is.
Collectedness is a very suitable word. It feels so, so right. It's the word of my choice for samādhi before I considered composure. With this two to choose from, I experimented with the various grammatical forms and usage to see how they compare. When I came to "cittaṁ samādaha", I realise that it can evoke a funny image. "Let us all collect ours minds. Now, if I can just remember where I put mine..."

Don't get me wrong, Bakmoon. Collectedness is still an excellent choice. For the purpose of translation though, I find that composure is more suitable.

Update on my writing on samādhi: I've just finished my second draft. Now it's with my teacher, Āyasmā Aggacitta for reviewing.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Buckwheat »

I'm starting to come around to really liking "absorption". I'm starting to see focus as implying the watcher and the watched, whereas when one is really focused on the breath, there's not so much the self focusing on the breath as much as the mind absorbed by the breath and vice versa. Collectedness seems to convey a similar meaning, but I just don't like the word linguistically. And I want to save composure as a replacement for equanimity. Just my opinions.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by Kumara »

Buckwheat wrote:I'm starting to come around to really liking "absorption". I'm starting to see focus as implying the watcher and the watched, whereas when one is really focused on the breath, there's not so much the self focusing on the breath as much as the mind absorbed by the breath and vice versa. Collectedness seems to convey a similar meaning, but I just don't like the word linguistically. And I want to save composure as a replacement for equanimity. Just my opinions.
"Absorption" does describe the Visuddhimagga type of jhana very well, but for the Sutta type, it's completely off.
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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by tiltbillings »

Kumara wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:I'm starting to come around to really liking "absorption". I'm starting to see focus as implying the watcher and the watched, whereas when one is really focused on the breath, there's not so much the self focusing on the breath as much as the mind absorbed by the breath and vice versa. Collectedness seems to convey a similar meaning, but I just don't like the word linguistically. And I want to save composure as a replacement for equanimity. Just my opinions.
"Absorption" does describe the Visuddhimagga type of jhana very well, but for the Sutta type, it's completely off.
"Completely off" is, of course, reasonably debatable, but then it depends upon what is meant by absorption and also if there are instances in the suttas that look like absorption practice where the meditator is unaware of his surroundings, as in not hearing a storm or feeling a whack to the head.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Samadhi (best English translation?)

Post by John1122 »

I've heard it translated as discipline among many other things.

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