the first jhana and thinking.

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daverupa
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by daverupa » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:40 pm

Perhaps I am forgetful, but while much relies on it, DN 9 does seem to be something of an outlier. Since it stitches the four jhanas to the immaterial attainments - a late maneuver - I am wary of letting very much hinge on it. I think it was probably the result of an absorptive teaching style employed by the Digha reciters with brahmin discussants, which became habitual only towards the end of the period of closure undergone by the various reciter traditions.

:shrug:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Sylvester » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:04 am

Modus.Ponens wrote: Regarding the thought during that state (neither perception nor non-perception), I think we have to distinguish the coarseness of thoughts involved in different levels of jhana.
And you say this, despite the standard 2nd jhana pericope stating avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ, a clear negation of thoughts? And you say this despite the MN 128 formula which admits of vicāramatta (a modicum of vicāra) only in the 2nd level?
Of course that during access concentration thoughts arise, but they are subtler than the thoughts in normal mind. And what to say of the "thoughts" that venerable Sariputa had, described in MN111? Certainly they are a form of thinking, but not on the same level as the normal everyday thoughts.
Please point out where in MN 111, the thinking verbs and thought nouns are to be found, and why you think those verbs and nouns are associated with thoughts/thinking.
The same can be extrapolated to the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. Thinking in terms of black and white is a sure way to miss some of the message of the Buddha. For example: can metta be felt in 4th jhana? If you think in black and white, it can't, but in the suttas the Buddha advises to pursue metta to the 4th jhana. Meditation is a nuanced set of experiences, so you can only put a label on it to a certain point.
If you are referring to SN 46.54, please explain what it is you are trying to prove here. That sutta does not look like a metta practice sutta per se, since it states quite unequivocally that it's concerned with the development of the 7 bojjhaṅgā accompanied by metta (mettāsahagatena). That looks to be a very straightforward instruction to practice with sammāsaṅkappā. If you were not thinking of SN 46.54, pls do explain the source of your propositions above.
To sum it up, yes, the sutta seems to be pointing that a thought can occur during 8th jhana and the meditator can still mantain that state. It says that the thought occurs to him as he was in 8th jhana and then it says that if he were to think then he would get out of that atainment. So how can he think, remain in the atainment and then, only if he thinks he would get out of the atainment? Wouldn't he automaticaly get out of the atainment once the thought arose in him? Surely it must be due to differences in subtleness of thoughts.
Fair enough, if you rely on Ven T's translation. For me the translation does not work, as it ignores a very common Pali idiom found in tassa evaṃ hoti. The subject here is the ṭhita, not the saññagga. Notice how the ta pronoun and ṭhita are both in the genitive. The Pali simply says that he thought about the ṭhita; it does not say that he thought during the ṭhita.
I didn't understand a word of the argument of locative/temporal. If you want to make a convincing argument you have to explain yourself to the majority of us, including the OP, who don't know pali. Arguing the way you do, which is your strategy in all these jhana debates, puts you in a position that no one can challenge you unless they realy know pali. And even then the pali ignorants, such as myself, will not be able to make an informed choice. In other words, with this strategy you never lose. So I'll consider your argument null, for now.
Sorry, but you don't get to dictate what "strategy" is acceptable or otherwise by your argumentum ad misericordiam. I don't appeal to the lowest common denominator. What's important is to slowly, if painfully point out, the perils of foisting all sorts of misprojections on the Dhamma, based on some poor translation or unfamiliarity with Pali.

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Sylvester » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:20 am

daverupa wrote:Perhaps I am forgetful, but while much relies on it, DN 9 does seem to be something of an outlier. Since it stitches the four jhanas to the immaterial attainments - a late maneuver - I am wary of letting very much hinge on it. I think it was probably the result of an absorptive teaching style employed by the Digha reciters with brahmin discussants, which became habitual only towards the end of the period of closure undergone by the various reciter traditions.

:shrug:

My dear, you've been tantalising us with your doubts about the formless attainments being a non-Buddhist intrusion into the texts. When will you deign to give us your sustained thoughts as to why this is so? Even Gombrich assigns to the formless attainments a real Buddhist slant as spatial metaphors of mental development (see his "Ancient Indian Cosmology", 1975). He does not seem to think it was tainted by the earlier cosmologies; if anything, his account of the Buddhist arupas paint them almost as innovations on the Indian landscape (at least, based on what texts have come down to us).

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Modus.Ponens » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:03 am

Sylvester wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote: Regarding the thought during that state (neither perception nor non-perception), I think we have to distinguish the coarseness of thoughts involved in different levels of jhana.
And you say this, despite the standard 2nd jhana pericope stating avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ, a clear negation of thoughts? And you say this despite the MN 128 formula which admits of vicāramatta (a modicum of vicāra) only in the 2nd level?
Of course that during access concentration thoughts arise, but they are subtler than the thoughts in normal mind. And what to say of the "thoughts" that venerable Sariputa had, described in MN111? Certainly they are a form of thinking, but not on the same level as the normal everyday thoughts.
Please point out where in MN 111, the thinking verbs and thought nouns are to be found, and why you think those verbs and nouns are associated with thoughts/thinking.
The same can be extrapolated to the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. Thinking in terms of black and white is a sure way to miss some of the message of the Buddha. For example: can metta be felt in 4th jhana? If you think in black and white, it can't, but in the suttas the Buddha advises to pursue metta to the 4th jhana. Meditation is a nuanced set of experiences, so you can only put a label on it to a certain point.
If you are referring to SN 46.54, please explain what it is you are trying to prove here. That sutta does not look like a metta practice sutta per se, since it states quite unequivocally that it's concerned with the development of the 7 bojjhaṅgā accompanied by metta (mettāsahagatena). That looks to be a very straightforward instruction to practice with sammāsaṅkappā. If you were not thinking of SN 46.54, pls do explain the source of your propositions above.
To sum it up, yes, the sutta seems to be pointing that a thought can occur during 8th jhana and the meditator can still mantain that state. It says that the thought occurs to him as he was in 8th jhana and then it says that if he were to think then he would get out of that atainment. So how can he think, remain in the atainment and then, only if he thinks he would get out of the atainment? Wouldn't he automaticaly get out of the atainment once the thought arose in him? Surely it must be due to differences in subtleness of thoughts.
Fair enough, if you rely on Ven T's translation. For me the translation does not work, as it ignores a very common Pali idiom found in tassa evaṃ hoti. The subject here is the ṭhita, not the saññagga. Notice how the ta pronoun and ṭhita are both in the genitive. The Pali simply says that he thought about the ṭhita; it does not say that he thought during the ṭhita.
I didn't understand a word of the argument of locative/temporal. If you want to make a convincing argument you have to explain yourself to the majority of us, including the OP, who don't know pali. Arguing the way you do, which is your strategy in all these jhana debates, puts you in a position that no one can challenge you unless they realy know pali. And even then the pali ignorants, such as myself, will not be able to make an informed choice. In other words, with this strategy you never lose. So I'll consider your argument null, for now.
Sorry, but you don't get to dictate what "strategy" is acceptable or otherwise by your argumentum ad misericordiam. I don't appeal to the lowest common denominator. What's important is to slowly, if painfully point out, the perils of foisting all sorts of misprojections on the Dhamma, based on some poor translation or unfamiliarity with Pali.
Wow. It was actualy easier to prove that you're wrong than I thought it would be. Without pali arguments (which would be similar to me giving you a lecture on Lie groups without you even knowing what topology is and demanding that you understand what I'm saying), you have no argument. Basicaly, as I have seen in many different discussions on many topics, when you need to have a technical discussion of the pali involved it means that those who are starting those pali arguments don't have a sound argument in the first place. The Buddha spoke informaly in the suttas. He didn't speak with absolute rigor, which, only then, would make a technical pali discussion necessary. If you can't put it in english, your argument is most likely null (as is the present case).
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:09 am

Greetings Alan, all,

For anyone interested, here's a previous discussion closely related to this topic...

Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=10355" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Sylvester » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:02 am

Modus.Ponens wrote: Wow. It was actualy easier to prove that you're wrong than I thought it would be. Without pali arguments (which would be similar to me giving you a lecture on Lie groups without you even knowing what topology is and demanding that you understand what I'm saying), you have no argument. Basicaly, as I have seen in many different discussions on many topics, when you need to have a technical discussion of the pali involved it means that those who are starting those pali arguments don't have a sound argument in the first place. The Buddha spoke informaly in the suttas. He didn't speak with absolute rigor, which, only then, would make a technical pali discussion necessary. If you can't put it in english, your argument is most likely null (as is the present case).

If you think this non-sequitor will not be called out as eel-wriggling, you're sadly mistaken. My inability to understand topology does not mean that the subject and propositions advanced must be reduced to the dumbest level, so as to cater simply to my inability. It just means that I should stay out of topological conferences, instead of pretending that a pop digest of the science should dictate how the subject is to be understood.

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by daverupa » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:16 pm

Sylvester wrote:... doubts about the formless attainments being a non-Buddhist intrusion into the texts. When will you deign to give us your sustained thoughts as to why this is so? Even Gombrich assigns to the formless attainments a real Buddhist slant as spatial metaphors of mental development (see his "Ancient Indian Cosmology", 1975). He does not seem to think it was tainted by the earlier cosmologies; if anything, his account of the Buddhist arupas paint them almost as innovations on the Indian landscape (at least, based on what texts have come down to us).
Here is the embryonic shape to the thing:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 40#p227271" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I would add that there is a family resemblance among some choppy explanations in the Nikayas: formless attainment details, cosmology details, and path attainment details. This nexus seems to comprise an important part of an early confusion.

I do not deign to sustain thoughts on the matter as often as I might since it's unpopular and can end up being contentious, and all that for an inductive claim I haven't fleshed out a full argument for. These days, at least, it doesn't tend to receive attention one way or the other, so I just wave its flag and move on.

The danger is cherrypicking, of course, but while I can see formless attainments as being innovative, this would be over and above the four jhanas and would not reflect the daily bhavana of the early Sangha.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Sylvester » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:43 pm

Ok, fair enough. I get slightly different mileage from the traditional presentation that the arupas are aspects of the 4th jhana, at least from the affective dimension. That much seems to be suggested by texts such as MN 106 and MN 140.

I would have thought that Wynne would figure prominently in your arsenal, but I guess even he is too heretical in his suggestion that the Nikayas and Agamas became contaminated very early with an absorption model of jhana.

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by daverupa » Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:14 pm

Sylvester wrote:I would have thought that Wynne would figure prominently in your arsenal, but I guess even he is too heretical in his suggestion that the Nikayas and Agamas became contaminated very early with an absorption model of jhana.
Wynne, Vetter, and others, but I've not yet put together a graduate-level paper on the thing.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Modus.Ponens » Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:33 pm

Sylvester wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote: Wow. It was actualy easier to prove that you're wrong than I thought it would be. Without pali arguments (which would be similar to me giving you a lecture on Lie groups without you even knowing what topology is and demanding that you understand what I'm saying), you have no argument. Basicaly, as I have seen in many different discussions on many topics, when you need to have a technical discussion of the pali involved it means that those who are starting those pali arguments don't have a sound argument in the first place. The Buddha spoke informaly in the suttas. He didn't speak with absolute rigor, which, only then, would make a technical pali discussion necessary. If you can't put it in english, your argument is most likely null (as is the present case).

If you think this non-sequitor will not be called out as eel-wriggling, you're sadly mistaken. My inability to understand topology does not mean that the subject and propositions advanced must be reduced to the dumbest level, so as to cater simply to my inability. It just means that I should stay out of topological conferences, instead of pretending that a pop digest of the science should dictate how the subject is to be understood.
You're basicaly saying that am a pop buddhist, a superficial adherent. Just because I don't know pali it doesn't mean I'm a superficial buddhist. That's not a valid standard. And I'm not evading anything. I'm simply unable to debate pali. It's like you're arguing with me in french and expect me to know what you're talking about even though neither I nor the OP knows the language in which you're speaking.

I don't care what you think of me, or what you think my aproach is. What I care about is that alan... has the correct information on jhana.

I repeat: I have observed many discussions along the years of e-sangha, websangha and dhamma wheel. And when someone argues with "That translation is wrong. The pali word X should be translated as Y", the discussion is most likely on the wrong path already (and this is such an example). If you think expert made translations such as Bhikkhu Bodhi's are wrong, and all you do is correct the translation, based on what your preconceptions of the subject (in this case, jhana) are then there's something wrong with your argument.

EDIT: I eliminated the last part of the post for private reasons. You can answer whatever you want, Sylvester, I don't realy care. Alan... please read those threads. You'll benefit from the discussion even if you choose the path of visuddhimagga jhanas.
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by SarathW » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:50 pm

Hi Alan
The way I understand is that only time you do not have thoughts is, when a person is dead!
When a person is in Neither perception nor non perception stage also have some thoughts.
However an Arhant in a Nirodha Samapatti stage will not have consciousness and hence no thoughts.
Please correct me if I am wrong. :)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Sylvester » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:38 am

Modus.Ponens wrote: You're basicaly saying that am a pop buddhist, a superficial adherent. Just because I don't know pali it doesn't mean I'm a superficial buddhist. That's not a valid standard.
Oh I agree. A “Buddhist” can be measured from any number of angles, some important aspects (for me) being faith and practice. But critical faculties are another dimension that can be measured, and if that Buddhist is somewhat short on the linguistic abilities, he will have no ability to access primary material, not to speak of accessing it superficially.
And I'm not evading anything. I'm simply unable to debate pali. It's like you're arguing with me in french and expect me to know what you're talking about even though neither I nor the OP knows the language in which you're speaking.
That has got to be one of the feeblest analogies I’ve seen. What’s happening here is nothing like your French debate. We are arguing in English over your insistence that an English translation that you rely on should be exempt from critical scrutiny, just because you cannot keep pace with the scrutiny. If you refuse to go into primary material and insist that secondary material is the only legitimate source, why should your yardstick prevail? Sure, I will grant that Pali discussions can have a very alienating effect on those riled by Paliphilia, but respectfully, that is no reason why bad translations should not be openly discussed and criticised. Which brings me to your next point -

I don't care what you think of me, or what you think my aproach is. What I care about is that alan... has the correct information on jhana.
And you think you have the monopoly on such correct information, based on patently inaccurate translations? Why do you think you deserve the pulpit, based on such translations? Note that I’m not even making the claim that the correct information on jhana is contained within correct translations – that is a matter of faith and experience which has to be felt by each person. While your enthusiasm is laudable, you have to accept that online, you have no business shouting down dissent by appealing to your inability to engage the debate. Why can’t you just acknowledge that this debate is not for you but is open to others with the inclination or the ability to engage it?

I repeat: I have observed many discussions along the years of e-sangha, websangha and dhamma wheel. And when someone argues with "That translation is wrong. The pali word X should be translated as Y", the discussion is most likely on the wrong path already (and this is such an example). If you think expert made translations such as Bhikkhu Bodhi's are wrong,
Tut tut, since when in this thread have I dissed BB’s translation? For that matter, are we even talking about the same BB? The BB I know from the MN, SN and AN translations is rather fond of diving into intricate grammatical analyses, taking on both modern commentators and the ancient Commentaries. BB is the gold standard, given his demonstrated willingness to wean himself away from the "traditional" understanding, beginning tentatively with the MN and culminating now in the AN translation.

and all you do is correct the translation, based on what your preconceptions of the subject (in this case, jhana) are then there's something wrong with your argument.
Oooh, this is quite new to me. Might you happen to have the technical name for this fallacy? I’ve not encountered this is my study of Logic. Is there a corresponding fallacy to describe the "argument" that resists proper translation due to entrenched preconceptions?

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Dmytro » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:26 am

Hi Alan,
alan... wrote:"enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation."

many teachers teach that the first jhana is full absorption with one pointedness of mind and no thought. but this quote as well as specific talks by the buddha on someone thinking while in the first jhana make it seem otherwise.
Vitakka (directed thought) is different from haphazard thinking about this and that.

Ñāṇa quoted above an excellent early explanation from Petakopadesa:

"Vitakka is like a text-reciter who does his recitation silently. Vicāra is like him simply contemplating it (anupassati)."

This explanation is echoed in the reliable early manual, Vimuttimagga.

The examples of how 'vitakka' helps jhana can be found in Dvedhavitakka sutta and Mahanama sutta. Vitakka-santhana sutta also offers some hints.

In more detail, the role of 'directed thought' is explained in Keeping the Breath in Mind and Lessons in Samadhi by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo.

An 'absorption' is pretty much useless if doesn't offer a possibility of investigation.

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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Sylvester » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:50 am

Dmytro wrote:
Ñāṇa quoted above an excellent early explanation from Petakopadesa:

"Vitakka is like a text-reciter who does his recitation silently. Vicāra is like him simply contemplating it (anupassati)."
Dear Dmytro

At the risk of sounding like a Pali nitpicker, shouldn't the whole text from the Peṭakopadesa have been cited, instead of just this section -
Yathā paliko tuṇhiko sajjhāyaṃ karoti evaṃ vitakko, yathā taṃyeva anupassati evaṃ vicāro.
When you look at section 72 of the Hārasampātabhūmi, I think a totally different picture of what the Petakopadesa said about vitakka and vicāra in 1st Jhana mean will emerge. Context is everything, wouldn't you agree? Here we have the text furnishing the context -
Tattha alobhassa pāripūriyā nekkhammavitakkaṃ vitakketi. Tattha adosassa pāripūriyā abyāpādavitakkaṃ vitakketi. Tattha amohassa pāripūriyā avihiṃsāvitakkaṃ vitakketi. 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.

Vitakkāti tayo vitakkā – nekkhammavitakko abyāpādavitakko avihiṃsāvitakko. Tattha paṭhamābhinipāto vitakko, paṭiladdhassa vicaraṇaṃ vicāro. 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. 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. 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. 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.
What has been quoted (by yourself and Geoff) is just the highlighted text, which gives a limited selection of similes to illustrate the differences and relationship between vitakka and vicāra in situations other than 1st Jhana. There are other similes in the text to draw out these relationships (eg the sight from afar versus recognition upclose, or the energetic bird versus the gliding bird), but I question why these similes were omitted.

What is significantly not mentioned in these citations is the Petakopadesa's actual definition of vitakka in the context of 1st Jhana-
Vitakkāti tayo vitakkā – nekkhammavitakko abyāpādavitakko avihiṃsāvitakko
It's the good old vitakkā from MN 19 and "mundane" sammāsaṅkappa of MN 117. Vicāra is not defined, since the entire listing of similes are there to draw out the relationship between vitakka and vicāra, thus rendering a definition of vicāra redundant.

I really would not cherry-pick from which of the similes work, since there is nothing in the Petakopadesa to suggest "investigation" was intended. It expressly identifies vitakka with the standard listing of 3 saṅkappa (ie the intention of renunciation, non-illwill and non-cruelty). This ties in perfectly with how these 3 intentions cease without remainder in 2nd Jhana : MN 78.

Nyana
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Post by Nyana » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:58 am

Sylvester wrote:What has been quoted (by yourself and Geoff) is just the highlighted text, which gives a limited selection of similes to illustrate the differences and relationship between vitakka and vicāra in situations other than 1st Jhana. There are other similes in the text to draw out these relationships (eg the sight from afar versus recognition upclose, or the energetic bird versus the gliding bird), but I question why these similes were omitted.

What is significantly not mentioned in these citations is the Petakopadesa's actual definition of vitakka in the context of 1st Jhana-
Vitakkāti tayo vitakkā – nekkhammavitakko abyāpādavitakko avihiṃsāvitakko
This isn't the Pāli sub-forum. The relevant passage in English is as follows:
  • 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.

    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.

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

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

    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].

    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....

    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. Evaluation is like full comprehension. Directed thought is the analytical understanding of language and the analytical understanding of knowledge. Evaluation is the analytical understanding of dhamma and the analytical understanding of meaning. 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.
This entire section is a word-commentary on the first two jhāna factors of the first jhāna formula. And that's exactly how it's used in the Vimuttimagga where these same descriptions and similes are given explicitly in the context of describing the jhāna factors of the first jhāna.

Buddhist meditation is far more diverse, dynamic, and multidimensional than you seems willing to admit. Not only is this diversity evident in the textual records of the Suttapiṭaka, the Abhidhammapiṭaka, and the commentaries, it's also evident in the methods taught by the teachers of the Thai forest tradition, the Burmese Vipassanā tradition, and every other Buddhist meditative tradition. Meditation is a tool to calm the mind so that dhammas can be seen clearly, leading to discernment and dispassion. It isn't an end in itself.

And the entire path is provisional from beginning to end. It's up to each individual to walk the path and figure out how to make the necessary adjustments to their personal situation as they go along. The path isn't going to develop in precisely the same way for any two people. Trying to pin down meditation in the most restrictive terms possible by interpreting the texts in the most extreme terms possible in order to attempt to somehow disprove or discredit other well tested modes of practice displays a fixation that's rooted in a fiction. The path is more inclusive than that.

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