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

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

Post by SarathW » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:42 pm

So you say that even when the mind is completely still, there still are hindrances. Is it not in contradiction with SN 46.55?
I think what Sutta saying is in normal meditation the hindrances are attenuated.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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

Post by Buddha Vacana » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:53 pm

I just stumbled upon this article that seems relevant to this thread:
http://uk.businessinsider.com/how-to-co ... ?r=US&IR=T
It turns out that if you want to convince someone that your explanation for something is the best way to explain it, you might want to tack on some useless (though accurate) information from a tangentially related scientific field.

It turns out that when you tack on additional information from a respected field of study, people think that makes an explanation more credible.

....

And while this is a new finding, it's just one of several cognitive biases we have in favor of certain types of explanations. We think longer explanations are better than short ones and we prefer explanations that point to a goal or a reason for things happening, even if these things don't actually help us understand a phenomenon.

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

Post by Zom » Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:42 pm

I think what Sutta saying is in normal meditation the hindrances are attenuated.
Actually, sutta doesn't say about meditation at all .)

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

Post by SarathW » Sun Dec 25, 2016 10:37 pm

Zom wrote:
I think what Sutta saying is in normal meditation the hindrances are attenuated.
Actually, sutta doesn't say about meditation at all .)
I can recall that Sutta mentioned the relation between hindrances and meditation. (I cant recall which Sutta)

========
The five hindrances (pañcanivarana) are sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt. This group, the principal classification the Buddha uses for the obstacles to meditation, receives its name because its five members hinder and envelop the mind, preventing meditative development in the two spheres of serenity and insight. Hence the Buddha calls them "obstructions, hindrances, corruptions of the mind which weaken wisdom"(S.v,94).


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#ch3.1
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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Post by Zom » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:32 pm

I can recall that Sutta mentioned the relation between hindrances and meditation. (I cant recall which Sutta)
Yes, but this sutta doesn't speak about meditation -)

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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 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

Post by 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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