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Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind - Dhamma Wheel

Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

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zavk
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Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby zavk » Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:39 am

With metta,
zavk

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Ben
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Ben » Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:01 am

Hi Zavk

Nice thread! I've never heard of the term, which isn't particularly indicative of anything, but I also did a word search for thitibhutam in the PTS online dictionary: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/ and it came up with nothing.
To my very uneducated proclivities, the description from Ajahn Munn's discourse does seem to infer a first cause but also an original first-born or created self.
Anyway, I'll be intrigued to learn more.
Metta
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:21 pm

With Metta

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby sukhamanveti » Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:55 pm

The thitibhutam sounds similar, both as described and etymologically, to the bhavanga-citta ("life continuum mind" or "constituent of existence mind") of the Patthana in the Abhidhamma Pitaka (also discussed in the Milinda Panha, the Visuddhismagga, & the Abhidhammattha-sanghaha), which is synonymous with the pabhassaram-citta ("luminous mind") of the Anguttara Nikaya and the vinnana-sota ("consciousness stream") of the Digha Nikaya. Bhikkhu Bodhi, in footnote 13 to the AN, calls it the "underlying stream of consciousness." It is unconscious. It accounts for personal continuity across lifetimes apparently. Steven Collins says that the Commentaries see it as the cause or condition of continued existence [Selfless Persons (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999) p. 239]. It looks to me like thitibhutam it is derived form thiti ("stability" or "continuation") and bhuto ("being").

Much more can be said about bhavanga. I am no expert. I haven't studied the subject in detail yet. (I haven't even finished Selfless Persons.) I'm just guessing. Ven. Dhammanando can set the record straight I'm sure.

Ed
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby gavesako » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:23 pm

I think there is nothing so mysterious about it: as it says above, it refers to the "primal mind" (citt derm in Thai), which can be understood as the mental space in which all the conditioning starting with avijja happens. It has to have a "somewhere" to occur in, otherwise avijja would be the first cause, and with the disappearance of ignorance all experience (in the case of an arahant) would also collapse.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Jechbi » Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:52 am

Thank you, venerable. :anjali:

Does that mean that thitibhutam is unconditioned?

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:06 am



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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby gavesako » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:35 am

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby gavesako » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:36 am

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby gavesako » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:39 am

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:53 am

Dear all

I'm sorry, but can someone please indicate whether thitibhutam is a Thai rather than Pali word? If its a Pali word, is anyone able to point to the use of the term thitibhutam in the tipitaka or the ancient commentarial literature?
If so, can one please provide the context in which it is used and/or a definition of the term.
If its a Thai word, is there a synonym in Pali and if it is bhavanga citta, then why didn't Ajahn Chah (and/or others) not use bhavanga citta?
My apologies for the convoluted questions.
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby cooran » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:15 am

Hello zavk, Ben, all,

Here is an occurrence of the term - not sure if this will help or hinder ~
from "Clarity of insight by Ajahn Chah" pps. 14 - 16
"That means you must become your own witness, able to confirm the
results from within your own mind. It's like the example of the sour
fruit. Imagine I told you that a certain fruit was sour tasting and
invited you to try some of it. You would have to take a bite from it
to taste the sourness. Some people would willingly if I told them the
fruit was sour, but if they simply believed that it was sour without
ever tasting it, that belief would be useless (mogha), it wouldn't
have any real value or meaning. If you described the fruit as sour,
it would be merely going by my perception of it. Only that. The
Buddha didn't praise such belief. But then you shouldn't just dismiss
it either: investigate it. You must try tasting the fruit for
yourself, and by actually experiencing the sour taste, you become
your own internal witness. Somebody says it's sour, so you take it
away and, by eating it, find out that it really is sour. It's like
you're making double sure - relying on your own experience as well as
what other people say. This way you can really have confidence in the
authenticity of its sour taste; you have a witness who attests to the
truth. Venerable Ajahn Mun referred this internal witness that exists
within the mind as thitibhutam. The authenticity of any knowledge
acquired simply from other people remains unsubstantiated, it is only
a truth proven to someone else --you only have someone else's word to
go on that the fruit is sour-- you could say that it's a half-truth,
or fifty per cent. But if you actually taste the fruit and find it
sour, that is the one hundred per cent, whole truth: you have
evidence from what other people say and also from your own direct
experience. This is a fully one hundred per cent substantiated truth.
This is thitibhutam: the internal witness has risen within you.

*snip*

What causes wisdom to arise? It comes from contemplating
impermanence, suffering and not-self, and gaining insight into the
truth of the way things are. You have to see the truth clearly and
beyond doubt in your own mind; it has to be like that. There has to
be continuous clear insight. All objects (arammana) that arise into
consciousness are seen to pass away; that cessation is followed by
more arising. After more arising there is further cessation. If you
still have attachment and clinging suffering must arise from moment
to moment, but if you are letting go, you won't create any suffering.
Once the mind is clearly seeing the impermanence of phenomena, we
call it thitibhutam - the internal witness. It is self-sustaining.
Hence in the beginning, you should only accept as the truth about
fifty per cent of the things other people tell you.
On one occasion the Buddha gave a discourse."
http://www.abhayagiri.org/pdf/books/clarity.pdf

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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zavk
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby zavk » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:53 am

With metta,
zavk

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Ben
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:06 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:01 pm


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Ben
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:57 pm

Thank you Venerable.

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: ben.dhammawh[email protected]..

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gavesako
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby gavesako » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:58 pm

This is rather typical of the Thai Ajahns: taking some obscure Pali terms and giving them a new (adapted) meaning that fits their personal experience. It may well be that Ajahn Mun read some Vinaya manual that mentioned this particular term together with a Thai translation, and he thought, "That is a handy term to use for describing some point of Dhamma". Another such term is "sakkhibhuto" which more precisely describes this "internal witness" phenomenon and has been used by Ajahn Chah (and probably Ajahn Mun too). However, in all the English translations it is mis-spelled "sikkhibhuto" and continues to be reprinted in this form, despite me pointing it out (I have not actually checked the Thai versions).

This has been referred to as "Pali languaging" in an interesting article here:
http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala ... 9/30/pali/
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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nathan
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Re: Further explanation of 'thitibhutam', the primal mind

Postby nathan » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:42 pm

I revised this post and it became ridiculously long, as usual, because I thought it could be read as sounding critical of the Ajahns when that was not the intention at all. It would probably have been better for everyone to erase the whole post. May no beings suffer from it.
:computerproblem:


The relationships between underlying mental qualities and conditions are frequently difficult to describe from experience as these are progressively more subtle and elusive as one penetrates further into the workings of the mind. I think it is best to practice investigation and develop skillful insights in the ways specifically prescribed by the Buddha in order to discover directly why He took the approaches He did towards instruction and not others. Describing a root quality of consciousness in this way, as 'primordial consciousness', does little to develop the kind of mindfulness that leads to further development of insight into consciousness in a way that will make sense of these descriptions. I think it makes for a lot of confusion all around. I understand the temptation to try to describe these kinds of insights and I also see the widespread confusion that predominantly results from these attempts. The context would be different for a group of accomplished disciples who have practiced well, have deep insights of their own, and have gathered together to hear a Dhamma talk from Ajahn Mun or Ajahn Chah.

I think it is most expedient to simply practice satipatthana and samathavipassana and develop sufficient concentration and insight to understand what the Ajahns are talking about. Depending on our own understanding and insight these kinds of descriptions of consciousness can either succeed or fail to help us understand the relationships between qualities and conditions of the mind. We can also bear in mind that the forest monks are not trying to explain this in the kinds of terms used by Abhidhamma experts and don't typically contextualize their experience within complex Abhidhamma frameworks as some others may. They are doing their best under the conditions that pertain for them which are typically more direct and experiential. There's is a very practical and down to earth approach that forgoes a lot of that kind of effort in favor of great and sustained effort to practice meditation correctly and effectively and is not as much concerned with becoming exceptional experts in describing it. Perhaps new forest monks will arise who take a more technical approach. Ven. Thanissaro is one who tends to be more intellectual about his descriptions.

I have rarely heard the kind of precise interpretations of conditions regarding the nature of meditative experience from forest monks that we hear from Ven. Dhammanando regarding the suttas and the abhidamma texts. I would love to hear about forest monks who are keen to study Abhidhamma with as much energy as they apply to practice. I would make a beeline for their neighborhood. The closest thing that we seem to have to some kind of technical precision with all of this seems to come from the well known Burmese monastic teachers. It doesn't seem to me as though the teachings are at odds, simply differing in style and substance.

I have also had to choose between long practice of simple and approachable techniques and long study of Abhidhamma under the conditions pertaining to my life. I have greatly appreciated much of the instruction I have received from forest monks to give my energy and attention primarily to practicing meditation correctly and consult complex Abhidhamma formulations sparingly. I can see it would be very time consuming to attempt develop right understanding both ways at the same time. I think if we stick to more practical and straightforward teachings and practice these well then these kinds of descriptions will all fall into place in good time. It does not help to attempt to develop right understanding through meditation in any other way than by doing the meditations. Speaking with great precision about great meditative accomplishments becomes increasingly difficult without a very broad and highly developed understanding. I think we observe that very widely. Accomplishing the path does not really depend on that as much as engaging in the practices with all of ones life and heart and mind.

These kinds of comments from the Ajahns are not false descriptions of the nature of mind as known and experienced under various conditions but these are not intended to be complete explanations of any kind of consistent mental state either but states known by those very advanced on the path meant to inspire us to accomplish the same kind of insight and understanding. These kinds of discussions still give the conventional instructions for right practice consistent with right understanding. The reflections on some of the advanced results of extensive practice are appropriate to that understanding and are understood rightly but are easily misinterpreted by those who do not know the dhamma of consciousness in the same direct manner. I do not think anything contrary to the doctrine is intended to be implied by the use of this term. I do think it makes for a difficult condition to discuss as something that arises apart from other conditions even if and when it can be distinguished from other conditions. All that arises ceases. If the venerable Ajahns had meant to indicate the unconditional they would have simply referred to nibbana. They are talking about consciousness specifically but not as something removed from the context of other conditions.

Perhaps we could attempt to clarify by considering how a consciousness which inclines to nibbana would be conditioned by other conditions as opposed to a consciousness which does not incline to nibbana.
:namaste:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}


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