Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:36 am

Thanks Geoff,
That seems to suggest that the discursive thinking is part of Jhana (as per the texts you have cited). My question, originally to Retro, if that is so - what does that mean in actual practice? How does one maintain vitakka and vicara and not subside into papanca?
Thanks again,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Nyana » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:24 am

Ben wrote:That seems to suggest that the discursive thinking is part of Jhana (as per the texts you have cited). My question, originally to Retro, if that is so - what does that mean in actual practice? How does one maintain vitakka and vicara and not subside into papanca?

By keeping the mind on topic with the aids of appropriate effort (vāyāma) and mindfulness (sati) and plenty of consistent, repeated practice (bhāvanā). It's also worth noting that some meditation subjects (e.g. Buddhānussati, brahmavihārā, asubhasaññā, etc.) are more conducive to sustained mental repetition of phrases than others (ānāpānassati, paṭhavī kasiṇa, etc.).

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:44 am

Thanks again, Geoff

If I may ask another question...

Say, a practitioner take vitakka and vicara to mean initial application and sustained application of the mind on the object of meditation. And that same practitioner experiences a silencing of mind until no discursive thought it present.

What do you think is going on?

kind regards,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Nyana » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:13 am

Ben wrote:What do you think is going on?

What I think is going on on this thread is a good example of semantic relativity due to a sematic shift of the definitions of vitakka, vicāra, & the other jhāna factors.

Ben wrote:Say, a practitioner take vitakka and vicara to mean initial application and sustained application of the mind on the object of meditation. And that same practitioner experiences a silencing of mind until no discursive thought it present.

What do you think Ben: Would that silent mind fulfill the criteria for a "second jhāna"?

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:19 am

I don't know Geoff.
I started this thread following a comment that Retro made - as captured in the OP. As it is very different from my own understanding and experience of samatha practice, I merely wished to explore the difference. With the aim of developing my understanding of the experience of others. If I can develop my understanding of another's experience then perhaps it will help me to better understand their point of view more generally. I'm not interested in debate or positioning myself or anything other than having an exchange on practice and experience with the aim of understanding that of others....And maybe my own as well.
kind regards,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:28 am

Ñāṇa wrote:What do you think Ben: Would that silent mind fulfill the criteria for a "second jhāna"?


To be honest, I don't know.
I've certainly experienced internal silence during samatha but was it jhana, let alone second jhana?
Its something that I would hesitate to ascribe as evidence of a particular attainment. (attainment being such a loaded word...)
kind regards,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:32 am

Ben wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:What do you think Ben: Would that silent mind fulfill the criteria for a "second jhāna"?


To be honest, I don't know.
I've certainly experienced internal silence during samatha but was it jhana, let alone second jhana?
Its something that I would hesitate to ascribe as evidence of a particular attainment. (attainment being such a loaded word...)
kind regards,

Ben
Jhana by whose defintion? The definitions range from very light concentration to heavty duty hard core absorption.

See:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9016&p=140097&hilit=Shankman#p140097
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:37 am

tiltbillings wrote:Jhana by whose defintion? The definitions range from very light concentration to heavty duty hard core absorption.

See:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... an#p140097


Indeed. My conception of jhana probably is closer to the Vism/Abhidhammic definition of what the Jhanas are.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Nyana » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:38 am

Ben wrote:I don't know Geoff.
I started this thread following a comment that Retro made - as captured in the OP. As it is very different from my own understanding and experience of samatha practice, I merely wished to explore the difference. With the aim of developing my understanding of the experience of others. If I can develop my understanding of another's experience then perhaps it will help me to better understand their point of view more generally. I'm not interested in debate or positioning myself or anything other than having an exchange on practice and experience with the aim of understanding that of others....And maybe my own as well.

Indeed. There are different ways of developing samatha. Buddhists have been using dhāraṇī and mantra repetition in combination with sūtra, sādhanā, & pūjā recitation for more than 1500 years to attain samādhi.

(I once saw a tourist's video of a Tibetan shaman putting himself and a group of devotees into an ecstatic trance by reciting a long mantra over and over. Not exactly Buddhadhamma!, but the spoken word is a powerful medium, even moreso when intoned with melody.)

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:43 am

Thank you, Geoff!
Its time for me to meditate.
with metta,

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Nyana » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:45 am

Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Jhana by whose defintion? The definitions range from very light concentration to heavty duty hard core absorption.

See:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... an#p140097


Indeed. My conception of jhana probably is closer to the Vism/Abhidhammic definition of what the Jhanas are.

And that is what I meant by "semantic relativity." The same terms can mean different things to different people. IMO the interview that Tilt supplied briefly addresses the historical situation accompanying the semantic development of these terms.

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:52 am

Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Jhana by whose defintion? The definitions range from very light concentration to heavty duty hard core absorption.

See:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9016&p=140097&hilit=Shankman#p140097


Indeed. My conception of jhana probably is closer to the Vism/Abhidhammic definition of what the Jhanas are.
And I think that is why the idea of vipassana jhana was developed in that these teachers recognized that the there is, indeed, profound concentration that has the characteristic of jhana barring the full scale absorption.

Of course this maybe a side trip from the discussion of Vitakka and Vicara, but maybe not. Ven U Pandita discusses V and V here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html

The first of them is called vitakka. It is the factor of aiming, accurately directing the mind toward an object. It also has the aspect of establishing the mind on the object, so that the mind stays there.

The second factor is vicāra (pronounced “vichara”), generally translated as “investigation” or “reflection.” After vitakka has brought the mind to the object and placed it firmly there, vicāra continues to rub the mind onto the object. You can experience this yourself when observing rising and falling. First you make the effort to be precise in aiming the mind at the rising process. Then your mind reaches the object and it does not slip off. It impinges on the object, rubs against it.
It does not sound like a lot of -- or any -- discursive thinking.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Nyana » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:00 am

tiltbillings wrote:
The first of them is called vitakka. It is the factor of aiming, accurately directing the mind toward an object. It also has the aspect of establishing the mind on the object, so that the mind stays there.

The second factor is vicāra (pronounced “vichara”), generally translated as “investigation” or “reflection.” After vitakka has brought the mind to the object and placed it firmly there, vicāra continues to rub the mind onto the object. You can experience this yourself when observing rising and falling. First you make the effort to be precise in aiming the mind at the rising process. Then your mind reaches the object and it does not slip off. It impinges on the object, rubs against it.
It does not sound like a lot of -- or any -- discursive thinking.

Pretty standard Vism. definitions of the two terms.

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:03 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
The first of them is called vitakka. It is the factor of aiming, accurately directing the mind toward an object. It also has the aspect of establishing the mind on the object, so that the mind stays there.

The second factor is vicāra (pronounced “vichara”), generally translated as “investigation” or “reflection.” After vitakka has brought the mind to the object and placed it firmly there, vicāra continues to rub the mind onto the object. You can experience this yourself when observing rising and falling. First you make the effort to be precise in aiming the mind at the rising process. Then your mind reaches the object and it does not slip off. It impinges on the object, rubs against it.
It does not sound like a lot of -- or any -- discursive thinking.

Pretty standard Vism. definitions of the two terms.
Agreed, so the question is, it would seem, the degree of concentration, and on that, as already noted, opinions vary.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Jhana by whose defintion? The definitions range from very light concentration to heavty duty hard core absorption.

See:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... an#p140097


Indeed. My conception of jhana probably is closer to the Vism/Abhidhammic definition of what the Jhanas are.
And I think that is why the idea of vipassana jhana was developed in that these teachers recognized that the there is, indeed, profound concentration that has the characteristic of jhana barring the full scale absorption.

Of course this maybe a side trip from the discussion of Vitakka and Vicara, but maybe not. Ven U Pandita discusses V and V here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... hanas.html

The first of them is called vitakka. It is the factor of aiming, accurately directing the mind toward an object. It also has the aspect of establishing the mind on the object, so that the mind stays there.

The second factor is vicāra (pronounced “vichara”), generally translated as “investigation” or “reflection.” After vitakka has brought the mind to the object and placed it firmly there, vicāra continues to rub the mind onto the object. You can experience this yourself when observing rising and falling. First you make the effort to be precise in aiming the mind at the rising process. Then your mind reaches the object and it does not slip off. It impinges on the object, rubs against it.
It does not sound like a lot of -- or any -- discursive thinking.


Yes, this hits the nail on the head for me ( with regards to my own experience).
Thanks for posting this, Tilt!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby sublime » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:20 pm

The Buddha explains these in Anapanasati Sutta, "breathing in sensitive to pleasure," etc.

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:23 pm

sublime wrote:The Buddha explains these in Anapanasati Sutta, "breathing in sensitive to pleasure," etc.
You could be a little bit more expansive here as to what you mean.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby sublime » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:04 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
sublime wrote:The Buddha explains these in Anapanasati Sutta, "breathing in sensitive to pleasure," etc.
You could be a little bit more expansive here as to what you mean.


The vitaka-vicara is the part beginning with

""[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'.." and ending with "He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'"

From this exercise in joining thinking and breathing you are into the first jhana. Then you are into the 7 factors of awakening and by the fifth you are into second jhana; at the sixth factor the fourth jhana and progress naturally into the seventh which is nibbana.

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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:31 pm

sublime wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
sublime wrote:The Buddha explains these in Anapanasati Sutta, "breathing in sensitive to pleasure," etc.
You could be a little bit more expansive here as to what you mean.


The vitaka-vicara is the part beginning with

""[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'.." and ending with "He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'"

From this exercise in joining thinking and breathing you are into the first jhana. Then you are into the 7 factors of awakening and by the fifth you are into second jhana; at the sixth factor the fourth jhana and progress naturally into the seventh which is nibbana.
Thanks. Could you say something more about, explain, "thinking" in this context?
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

sublime
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Re: Vitakka and Vicara in Jhana practice

Postby sublime » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:35 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Thanks. Could you say something more about, explain, "thinking" in this context?


Okay this should be straightforward. "I am breathing in..." is thinking. "I am breathing out..." Thinking. "I breathe in feeling pleasure..." thinking this when the body starts to feel pleasure. Like matching the mind to the body, syncing them. Then, you are just aware of the body in the body, no thinking at that point and you are into the 2nd jhana.


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