English terminology

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English terminology

Postby mydoghasfleas » Sun May 16, 2010 3:10 pm

Perhaps someone here can help me understand some of the ENGLISH terms used for Pali words. (Or point me to some resources for better understanding.)

I find terms like "volitional formations," "becoming," "rapture" and "effluents" (among other terms) not very clear in their meanings.

For instance, "rapture" to me always meant a type of euphoria. Is this really what is meant by this term? Is euphoria a stage of jhana?

Is "volitional formations" just another way of saying "will," or is it more like "intention?" Or is it anything that enters the mind, like the alternate translation of "fabrications" would seem to indicate?

"Becoming" seems to mean a catalyst for action from what I can gather. Is that correct? (As in, "a catalyst for action [becoming] is dependent on clinging.")

Even the way the term "perception" is used seems to be different than how I would normally use the word. (Example: Some people have a perception that Philadelphia is a lousy place to live.)

And I'm totally lost on "effluents."

Any help anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: English terminology

Postby Tex » Sun May 16, 2010 4:03 pm

Hi, bdah.

This is a great resource. It's mostly in Pali, but sometimes you can look up the English word and that will direct you to the Pali counterpart.

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/bu ... ic_idx.htm

Check out the passage on paticca samuppada and hopefully that will help with formations (sankhara) and becoming (bhava).
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: English terminology

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 4:23 pm

i'm right there with you, bdah - very confusing - who's translation is "most correct" - i dunno. Word at a time - i can't find a single source that helps for them all.
Here's a good one for piti from The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation by Henepola Gunaratana

Rapture (piti)
The third factor present in the first jhana is piti, usually translated as joy or rapture. [11] In the suttas piti is sometimes said to arise from another quality called pamojja, translated as joy or gladness, which springs up with the abandonment of the five hindrances. When the disciple sees the five hindrances abandoned in himself "gladness arises within him; thus gladdened, rapture arises in him; and when he is rapturous his body becomes tranquil" (D.i,73). Tranquillity in turn leads to happiness, on the basis of which the mind becomes concentrated. Thus rapture precedes the actual arising of the first jhana, but persists through the remaining stages up to the third jhana.

The Vibhanga defines piti as "gladness, joy, joyfulness, mirth, merriment, exultation, exhilaration, and satisfaction of mind" (Vbh. 257). The commentaries ascribe to it the characteristic of endearing, the function of refreshing the body and mind or pervading with rapture, and the manifestation as elation (Vism.143; PP.149). Shwe Zan Aung explains that "piti abstracted means interest of varying degrees of intensity, in an object felt as desirable or as calculated to bring happiness." [12]

When defined in terms of agency, piti is that which creates interest in the object; when defined in terms of its nature it is the interest in the object. Because it creates a positive interest in the object, the jhana factor of rapture is able to counter and suppress the hindrance of ill will, a state of aversion implying a negative evaluation of the object.

Rapture is graded into five categories: minor rapture, momentary rapture, showering rapture, uplifting rapture and pervading rapture. [13] Minor rapture is generally the first to appear in the progressive development of meditation; it is capable of causing the hairs of the body to rise. Momentary rapture, which is like lightning, comes next but cannot be sustained for long. Showering rapture runs through the body in waves, producing a thrill but without leaving a lasting impact. Uplifting rapture, which can cause levitation, is more sustained but still tends to disturb concentration, The form of rapture most conductive to the attainment of jhana is all-pervading rapture, which is said to suffuse the whole body so that it becomes like a full bladder or like a mountain cavern inundated with a mighty flood of water. The Visuddhimagga states that what is intended by the jhana factor of rapture is this all-pervading rapture "which is the root of absorption and comes by growth into association with absorption" (Vism.144; PP.151)


and The Craft of the Heart by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo (Phra Suddhidhammaransi Gambhiramedhacariya) translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The Five Forms of Rapture
1. Minor rapture (khuddaka piti): Your hair stands on end, and tears come to your eyes, either with or without your being aware of the fact. This happens, not through a sense of sadness, but through a feeling of pleasure, fullness, and satisfaction in a skillful object.

2. Momentary rapture (khanika piti): A shiver runs through the body, and a feeling of satisfaction appears for a flash in the heart, like a flash of lightning or the flicker of lightning bugs.

3. Recurrent rapture (okkantika piti): A stronger sense of thrill comes over the body, like waves washing over a shore.

4. Transporting rapture (ubbega piti): A sense of transporting joy comes welling up through the body to the point where you lose control and start acting or speaking in various ways. For instance, sitting in concentration, you may suddenly raise your hands in adoration or bow down. If the feeling grows really strong, you may not be conscious of what you're doing. You may start speaking, the words coming out on their own without any forethought on your part.

5. Pervading rapture (pharana piti): A flush or tingling sensation spreads through and permeates the body. Sometimes the body itself appears to grow and swell, or else to become very small.

When any one of these forms of rapture arises, you should keep your powers of reference firm. Don't give in to the feeling and don't let it take over. Keep your mind unaffected. Don't lose your sense of your body and mind. Keep your words and actions firmly under control. Don't act under the influence of the feeling. If the sense of rapture comes in a gentle form, well and good; but if it comes in a strong form, and you give in to its power, you can easily get hooked and start jumping to false conclusions. Don't go assuming that you've gained this or reached that, because all of these feelings are inconstant, stressful, and not-self. If you get fixated on them, the mind won't be able to attain proper concentration of any worth or value. If you fall for them, they'll become enemies of your concentration and discernment.


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Re: English terminology

Postby Tex » Sun May 16, 2010 4:24 pm

Also, from the Ven Nyanatiloka's dictionary I linked above, on rapture:

pīti: rapture, enthusiasm (rendered also by joy, happiness); interest it is one of the mental factors or concomitants (cetasika) and belongs to the group of mental formations (saṅkhāra-kkhandha). As, in Sutta texts, it is often linked in a compound word. with 'gladness' (pāmojja) or 'happiness' (sukha), some Western translations have wrongly taken it as a synonym of these two terms. Pīti, however, is not a feeling or a sensation, and hence does not belong to the feeling-group (vedanā-kkhandha), but may be described psychologically as 'joyful interest'. As such it may be associated with wholesome as well as with unwholesome and neutral states of consciousness.

A high degree of rapture is characteristic of certain stages in meditative concentration, in insight practice (vipassanā) as well as in the first two absorptions (jhāna, q.v.). In the latter it appears as one of the factors of absorption (jhānaṅga; s. jhāna) and is strongest in the 2nd absorption. Five degrees of intensity in meditative rapture are described in Vis.M. IV. 94ff. It is one of the factors of enlightenment (bojjhaṅga, q.v.).


I've been a little confused on this one myself. I don't think "euphoria" is quite right, as that indicates (to me at least) a feeling.

I think of piti as somewhat similar to a master musician playing his instrument -- if you've ever seen a concert pianist at work he's completely enraptured by what he's doing and there is a certain joy or mental high going on. I'm not sure if that's correct, though.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: English terminology

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 5:27 pm

Tex wrote:I've been a little confused on this one myself. I don't think "euphoria" is quite right, as that indicates (to me at least) a feeling.

I think of piti as somewhat similar to a master musician playing his instrument -- if you've ever seen a concert pianist at work he's completely enraptured by what he's doing and there is a certain joy or mental high going on. I'm not sure if that's correct, though.

That could well be one of the stages - more confusion - is it only a mental high without physical feelings?

According to some the 1st stage is that wonderful "goose bumps" feeling - 5th stage sounds like Alice in Wonderland. Seems i remember Venerable Ajahn Brahm saying that jhana is better than sex - sounds physical to me - i assume he's referencing that piti - so then sukha would be the cigarette afterwards (the afterglow)???

No wonder we get so confused... anything from goose bumps to that mystical, life-changing religious "union with God" seems to fit...

Understanding jhana and piti through experience rather than a defintion is the only thing that will comfort me.
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Re: English terminology

Postby retrofuturist » Mon May 17, 2010 4:44 am

Greetings bdah,

It is best to learn the meaning of key words terms in Pali, so that regardless of which English word a translator uses, you get the full sense of what was originally intended.

To that end, check out this existing topic...

Pali Dictionaries
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=70

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Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: English terminology

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 17, 2010 5:27 am

bdah wrote:And I'm totally lost on "effluents."


I'm totally over "accumulations".
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: English terminology

Postby mydoghasfleas » Mon May 17, 2010 12:13 pm

Wow, thanks for all the input. Thanks especially to all those who took the time to post excerpts and links. These are all really helpful. It's also helpful to know that I'm not the only one confused by some of these terms.

It's really hard to learn the meaning of the Pali terms, when I find the English terms just as baffling. You've all pointed me to some great resources, though.

Thanks for all your help.
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Re: English terminology

Postby Kim OHara » Tue May 18, 2010 4:20 am

Goofaholix wrote:
bdah wrote:And I'm totally lost on "effluents."


I'm totally over "accumulations".

I can get by without 'adventitious.'
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Re: English terminology

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue May 18, 2010 6:53 am

Many decades ago, a linguistic distinction was made between orthodox post-Paninian Sanskrit, and that used by early Buddhist Sanskrit texts, especially of the Mahayana. The latter became known as "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit".

What we are seeing above, in this thread, is now known in the field as "Buddhist Hybrid English".
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Re: English terminology

Postby tiltbillings » Tue May 18, 2010 8:11 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:Many decades ago, a linguistic distinction was made between orthodox post-Paninian Sanskrit, and that used by early Buddhist Sanskrit texts, especially of the Mahayana. The latter became known as "Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit".

What we are seeing above, in this thread, is now known in the field as "Buddhist Hybrid English".
A genre brought to its pinnacle (or depth ((of despair))) by Jeffery Hopkins (who most here, fortunately, will not have read).
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: English terminology

Postby Dmytro » Tue May 18, 2010 8:41 am

Hi,

bdah wrote:Perhaps someone here can help me understand some of the ENGLISH terms used for Pali words. (Or point me to some resources for better understanding.)


You can use the short glossary to find the Pali equivalents of terms:
http://dhamma.ru/paali/glossari.htm
(it mostly reflects Ven. Thanissaro's terminology)

and then look up these terms in Nyanatiloka's dictionary:
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/dic_idx.html

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Re: English terminology

Postby Nibbida » Thu May 20, 2010 4:24 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:
bdah wrote:And I'm totally lost on "effluents."


I'm totally over "accumulations".

I can get by without 'adventitious.'


Same with "impute."
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Re: English terminology

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 20, 2010 4:28 am

Nibbida wrote:
Same with "impute."
That is a particularly annoying one.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: English terminology

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu May 20, 2010 4:39 am

As any translator will point out, criticizing established terms is easy.
Proposing alternatives that are both accurate and accepted, is not.

Any better suggestions for translations of "asava", "samudaya" (?), "agantuka" and "samaropa"?

(This is not a rhetorical question, as a translator, I'm always interested in what people think of various English Buddhist terms.)
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Re: English terminology

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 20, 2010 4:55 am

Greetings venerable Paññāsikhara,

This sounds like fun. :)

Paññāsikhara wrote:Any better suggestions for translations of "asava"


What about 'contaminants'?

Does that stack up?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: English terminology

Postby Dmytro » Thu May 20, 2010 6:28 am

Hi Paññāsikhara,

Paññāsikhara wrote:As any translator will point out, criticizing established terms is easy.
Proposing alternatives that are both accurate and accepted, is not.


Accepted terms are by definition often outdated and inaccurate, being, for example, tentatively proposed by Thomas Rhys-Davids 80 years ago. He never intended for them to be the last word on the matter.

Any better suggestions for translations of "asava", "samudaya" (?), "agantuka" and "samaropa"?

(This is not a rhetorical question, as a translator, I'm always interested in what people think of various English Buddhist terms.)


Terms require systematic work, as we do at:
http://dhamma.ru/forum/index.php?topic=311.0

I've started a thread on the term 'Āsava':
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=4419

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Re: English terminology

Postby adosa » Fri May 21, 2010 9:14 pm

Hi all,

Throw 'Samma' in the mix. I always accepted it to mean 'Right' until recently listening to a dhamma talk saying a better translation would be 'Harmonious' which then massages my understanding of the eight-fold path a touch.


adosa :shrug:
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