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

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

Post by Buddha Vacana » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:32 pm

Sankappa and vitakka are often interchangeable. For example when they are both broken down into kama-vitakka/sankappa, nekkhamma-vitakka/sankappa, (a)byapada-vitakka/sankappa, (a)vihimsa-vitakka/sankappa, which is the case at MN 78.

When one makes an assumption that sankappa has a completely different meaning, it needs to be duly supported by independent observations, otherwise Occam's razor takes a toll.

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

Post by CecilN » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:36 pm

Buddha Vacana wrote:Sankappa and vitakka are often interchangeable. For example when they are both broken down into kama-vitakka/sankappa, nekkhamma-vitakka/sankappa, (a)byapada-vitakka/sankappa, (a)vihimsa-vitakka/sankappa, which is the case at MN 78.

When one makes an assumption that sankappa has a completely different meaning, it needs to be duly supported by independent observations, otherwise Occam's razor takes a toll.
Wrong. So far, Sujato remains undefeated on this thread.
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.

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

Post by Buddha Vacana » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:12 pm

CecilN wrote:
Buddha Vacana wrote:Sankappa and vitakka are often interchangeable. For example when they are both broken down into kama-vitakka/sankappa, nekkhamma-vitakka/sankappa, (a)byapada-vitakka/sankappa, (a)vihimsa-vitakka/sankappa, which is the case at MN 78.

When one makes an assumption that sankappa has a completely different meaning, it needs to be duly supported by independent observations, otherwise Occam's razor takes a toll.
Wrong. So far, Sujato remains undefeated on this thread.
:popcorn:

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

Post by Dmytro » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:29 am

Hi CecilN,

Australian Brahmic Buddhism and Brahmavamso's approach have already been discussed in detail in the threads:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7521
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7360

Regards

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

Post by Dmytro » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:38 am

Hi,
CecilN wrote:
Dmytro wrote: On the contrary, proper vitakka and vicara allow to remove hindrances. This is the super-secret highly advanced method described by the Buddha.
Please quote. Thanks.
Dvadhavitakka (MN 19) and similar suttas have already been quoted here. One removes kama-vitakka/sankappa, byapada-vitakka/sankappa, vihimsa-vitakka/sankappa, by cultivating nekkhamma-vitakka/sankappa, abyapada-vitakka/sankappa, avihimsa-vitakka/sankappa.

Regards

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

Post by CecilN » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:27 am

Dmytro wrote:Australian Brahmic Buddhism and Brahmavamso's approach have already been discussed in detail in the threads:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7521
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7360
Did the Buddha himself post on these links?
Dmytro wrote:Dvadhavitakka (MN 19) and similar suttas have already been quoted here. One removes kama-vitakka/sankappa, byapada-vitakka/sankappa, vihimsa-vitakka/sankappa, by cultivating nekkhamma-vitakka/sankappa, abyapada-vitakka/sankappa, avihimsa-vitakka/sankappa.
This is for hindrances. The stage from subduing/ending hindrances to jhana remains a long road & still requires a different practice, as the Buddha taught in SN 48.10 and MN 118 about "vossagga". Brahmavamso is not teaching "Australian dhamma" since the "vossagga" Brahmavamso is instructing is Pali rather than Australian.
Idha, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako vos­saggā­rammaṇaṃ karitvā labhati samādhiṃ, labhati cittassa ekaggataṃ

There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind.

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sati­sam­boj­jhaṅ­gaṃ bhāveti vivekanissitaṃ virāganissitaṃ nirodha­nissitaṃ vos­sagga­pari­ṇāmiṃ

Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the mindfulness enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in relinquishment.

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

Post by Zom » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:38 pm

Twice now a declaration from you of attaining jhana.
I didn't say I attain jhana. I said I can generate metta feeling which you can take as an object of concentration, and, according to Ajahn Brahm, such concentration can lead you into a jhana.

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

Post by Buddha Vacana » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:58 pm

I have updated a part of the article:

The little ‘thought’ experiment

Bhante next seeks to prove his point with a little experiment:
« Let me give you a test. Sit quietly, now, for five minutes. Watch your mind, and notice what happens when you think and when you don’t think.

Okay, done now? What happened? Well, let me guess: most of the time you were thinking of this or that, but occasionally there were spaces of silence. And those spaces of silence were more peaceful. Even this much, even just a few minutes of sitting quietly, and you can experience the peace of a quiet mind. And yet in jhana you’re still thinking? Impossible! »
Since we jump here from premise to conclusion without detailing much of the underlying logic, I will try to elucidate what has been implied in this argumentation. The statement reads as if it meant « anyone can experience occasional spaces of silence within five minutes of sitting for meditation, therefore having a silent mind is a state that is easily attainable by anyone, so if the definition of the first jhana entails that you’re still thinking once you have reached it, then a state more advanced than the first jhana is trivially attained in a few minutes by any beginner. Impossible! »

In other words, the idea here is to compare the experience of having « occasional spaces of silence » with the experience of the first jhana, and then conclude that the former cannot be more refined than the latter. But is it really appropriate to compare « occasional spaces of silence » with a jhana state?

Well, each of the jhanas is described in the suttas with the formula « he enters and remains in the xxx jhana » (xxx jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati). This means that in order to be considered as having attained any jhana, one has to « enter and remain » in that state, which implies that the experience must be stable and stretch for a certain period of time. This type of experience is, temporally speaking, of such different nature from « occasionally experiencing spaces of silence » that it doesn’t make sense to compare the two, let alone rank them.

It’s a bit like comparing a toddler playing on a trampoline with an airplane pilot preparing to take off on the landing strip and saying, while the latter has just begun his run, before he has even started pulling on the stick, that the toddler takes off and flies higher than him. This is why this argument looks very much like a non sequitur.
« Not to mention jhana, anyone who has been on a meditation retreat will have experienced those blessed moments, sometimes several minutes or longer, when the mind is clear, still, and silent. Not all the hindrances are gone, and not all the jhana factors may be present, yet there is a degree of stillness. »
Here Bhante suggests that anyone who has been on a meditation retreat has experienced moments when the mind is clear, still and silent, while not all hindrances are gone. Well, then, let’s see which hindrance might have been present in a « silent » mind:

- not craving, because it always arises with a distracting object
- not aversion, because the mind cannot be clear, still and silent with aversion
- not doubt, because again it arises with thoughts
- obviously not agitation and worry
- that leaves us with lethargy and sleepiness. But then again, the mind would not be « clear ».

Therefore I have some doubt that the experience Bhante is referring to here is even possible.

What is possible, on the other hand, is that the mind would be still, the hindrances would be largely reduced, but the first jhana would still not kick in, because one is not skilled in inducing pāmojja (serene joy), which is an essential trigger for the first jhana, as described in many suttas.

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

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:03 pm

Dmytro wrote:And now with Yogasutra:

vitarka-vicharanandasmitanugamat sanprajnatah

Cognitive contemplation is accompanied by reasoning, deliberation, bliss and the awareness of pure being (asmita). (17)

...
http://www.primordialsalt.com/2016/11/12/yoga-sutras/
Is yogasutra patanjali's? circa 400 CE?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali
http://www.audtip.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Audio Sutta Recordings

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

Post by Dmytro » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:10 pm

frank k wrote:Is yogasutra patanjali's? circa 400 CE?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali
Yes, these Yoga Sutras. However, Wikipedia isn't to be trusted about the dates of such texts, since there's a strong Indian religious lobby behind their dating to time immemorial.

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

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:20 pm

Buddha Vacana wrote:I have updated a part of the article:
...

What is possible, on the other hand, is that the mind would be still, the hindrances would be largely reduced, but the first jhana would still not kick in, because one is not skilled in inducing pāmojja (serene joy), which is an essential trigger for the first jhana, as described in many suttas.
Not just pamojja is a mental trigger. Pīti, which appears in the first two jhanas and prior to first jhana in the 7 awakening factors as the piti-sambjjhanga, has the same function as pamojja. I.e. being a mental trigger, something we develop to help cause first jhana to happen. See SN 46.2 and SN 46.3 for very explicit and obvious use of vitakka and vicara in the verbal type of thinking sense in a causal chain leading to jhana.

SN 47.10 then shows, by differentiating between "directed" and "undirected" development how the mental trigger of piti+pamojja happens with V&V (vitakka & vicara) and without V&V.

The main problem with Ajahn Brahm's camp on their understanding of V&V is they're not looking at the relevant EBT sutta passages relating to V&V objectively to see what the possible range of meaning is. They're already starting off with an assumption of Jhāna being of the Visuddhimagga type, and then cherry picking EBT passages to support that understanding, and ignoring the many passages where it's very clear V&V in fist jhāna is a verbal type of thinking. Their defense and counter argument against the verbal thinking of EBT first jhāna is also based on that unproven assumption. They don't offer any evidence, textual or experiential, to show why very profound states of samādhi experienced and taught by Ajahn Lee, Bhante Gunaratana, Thanissaro, Arahant Upatissa (Vimuttimagga) are not genuine EBT jhāna.

Bhante G, Ven. T (thanissaro) on the other hand, have written very clearly and show EBT textual evidence why their interpretation is correct, and clearly show the evidence why the Vism. interpretation of V&V in first jhāna is a redefinition of the term jhāna, vitakka, and vicara.
http://www.audtip.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Audio Sutta Recordings

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

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:22 pm

Dmytro wrote:
frank k wrote:Is yogasutra patanjali's? circa 400 CE?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali
Yes, these Yoga Sutras. However, Wikipedia isn't to be trusted about the dates of such texts, since there's a strong Indian religious lobby behind their dating to time immemorial.
What approximate time range historically would you see it in? Vimuttimagga is around 1 CE, Vism. is around 500 CE.
http://www.audtip.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Audio Sutta Recordings

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

Post by frank k » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:33 pm

Someone on the thread posted a few times, hilariously, that "Sujato's article on vitakka and vicara is still undefeated!"

This reminds me of what Michael Jordan said about himself. Jordan is considered by many basketball experts/historians to be the greatest basketball player of all time, because he had no weakness in his complete game. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but this is what Jordan said on why he thinks he's the greatest: "Because I can score on my guy any time I want, he can't stop me from scoring. And I can shut him down and keep him from scoring."

Similarly, if you're going to be the MIchael Jordan of the V&V argument, you need to show EBT passage evidence of why your interpretation is correct, and you need to show EBT evidence on why the other guy's interpretation is incorrect. If you just cherry pick and score a few empty points, but can't stop the onslaught of points from the opponent, you won't be "undefeated" for long.
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Re: A. Sujato's Why Vitakka Doesn't Mean 'Thinking' in Jhana

Post by Dmytro » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:31 am

frank k wrote:What approximate time range historically would you see it in? Vimuttimagga is around 1 CE, Vism. is around 500 CE.
Between Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga.

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

Post by Buddha Vacana » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:03 am

frank k wrote: Not just pamojja is a mental trigger. Pīti, which appears in the first two jhanas and prior to first jhana in the 7 awakening factors as the piti-sambjjhanga, has the same function as pamojja. I.e. being a mental trigger, something we develop to help cause first jhana to happen. See SN 46.2 and SN 46.3 for very explicit and obvious use of vitakka and vicara in the verbal type of thinking sense in a causal chain leading to jhana.

SN 47.10 then shows, by differentiating between "directed" and "undirected" development how the mental trigger of piti+pamojja happens with V&V (vitakka & vicara) and without V&V.

The main problem with Ajahn Brahm's camp on their understanding of V&V is they're not looking at the relevant EBT sutta passages relating to V&V objectively to see what the possible range of meaning is. They're already starting off with an assumption of Jhāna being of the Visuddhimagga type, and then cherry picking EBT passages to support that understanding, and ignoring the many passages where it's very clear V&V in fist jhāna is a verbal type of thinking. Their defense and counter argument against the verbal thinking of EBT first jhāna is also based on that unproven assumption. They don't offer any evidence, textual or experiential, to show why very profound states of samādhi experienced and taught by Ajahn Lee, Bhante Gunaratana, Thanissaro, Arahant Upatissa (Vimuttimagga) are not genuine EBT jhāna.

Bhante G, Ven. T (thanissaro) on the other hand, have written very clearly and show EBT textual evidence why their interpretation is correct, and clearly show the evidence why the Vism. interpretation of V&V in first jhāna is a redefinition of the term jhāna, vitakka, and vicara.
I mentioned only pamojja because in many suttas it is described as the trigger for piti.
Thanks for the references, they seem indeed to be noteworthy.

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