Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby JhanaStream » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:30 am

Sekha wrote:I am digging the issue, and I find out that ekaggata actually does not mean 'one-pointedness' in some suttas, and that it is a mental state in which one still handles thoughts:

AN 5.151
“pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato suṇanto saddhammaṃ bhabbo niyāmaṃ okkamituṃ kusalesu dhammesu sammattaṃ. katamehi pañcahi? na kathaṃ paribhoti, na kathikaṃ paribhoti, na attānaṃ paribhoti, avikkhittacitto dhammaṃ suṇāti, ekaggacitto yoniso ca manasi karoti.
Bhikkhus, endowed with five things by listening to the good Teaching it is possible to enter the righteous way in wholesome states. What five? Not enjoying talking, not enjoying boasting, not enjoying life, listening to the Teaching with an undisturbed mind, and thinking wisely with the mind concentrated.

My opinion is ekaggacitto here means 'single minded'; to be single minded when engaging wise reflection. I am not sure 'concentration', in the sense of samadhi, is an appropriate rendering. However, in respect to jhana, ekaggacitto is single minded in respect to concentration (samadhi).

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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby Sekha » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:47 am

correct. There are many errors in sister upalavanna's translation and this one slipped in through my carelessness. Indeed 'single minded' seems to be an appropriate rendering.

But this is only a detail, it does not change anything to my argument nor the discussion.
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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby Sekha » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:41 am

What has been said merits a further development:
JhanaStream wrote:You are overlooking the fact ekaggata occurs prior to the description of the jhanas.

There are a only 3 suttas where citassa ekaggata or an equivalent is clearly mentioned before the first jhana. Those are: MN 4, MN 19, AN 8.11. This is a rather weak evidence for your claim, as one may well consider that those suttas, just like MN 117, have been influenced by abhidhammic doctrines.

Here is a list of suttas featuring the 'gradual path' presenting the practices in a progressive way, and none of them mentions ekaggata before the first jhana:
MN 27, 38, 39, 51, 53, 60, 76, 79, 94, 101, 107, 112, 125
DN 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
An 4.198, AN 10.99.
That is 27 suttas altogether.

So my previous remark still needs to be addressed in the case of these 27 suttas even before paying attention to the above mentioned 3 suttas:
Sekha wrote:So, if it [citassa ekaggata] is a sine qua non prerequisite to the first jhana that implies that thoughts subside - and the Buddha makes great deal of handling thoughts - why on earth would he keep total silence on the issue?

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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby Dmytro » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:44 am

Hi David,

djlewis wrote:Anyway, why would the Buddha ascribe such a crucial characteristic/function to two supposedly distinct elements of the Eightfold Path? Or am I being too pedantic (and modern?) to expect that kind of crisp orthogonality. In any case, my gut interpretation says that these are about Concentration, not Mindfulness. Or maybe it's saying that Mindfulness is never present without some measure of Concentration?


"Sati" - remembrance (aka mindfulness), as a part of the Eightfold Path, belongs to the "Group of concentration" (samadhi-khandha), along with right effort and right concentration.
It is indeed akin to concentration, as can be seen from the Mahanama sutta, where Buddha explains how remembrance (sati) leads to concentration:

[1] "There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Similarly, remembrance of a suitable basis (arammana) is a direct way to samadhi. For example, remembrance of breath (anapana-sati) leads to samadhi with element of air as a basis. This basis becomes predominant (agga), and the mind becomes "eka-agga" (with one basis predominant).

Present-time awareness, often confused with 'sati', is in Pali "sampajañña".
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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby Nyana » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:49 pm

:goodpost:
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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby gavesako » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:24 pm

Sekha wrote:
JhanaStream wrote:
Sekha wrote:This is completely baseless.

I am digging the issue, and I find out that ekaggata actually does not mean 'one-pointedness' in some suttas, and that it is a mental state in which one still handles thoughts:

AN 5.151
“pañcahi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato suṇanto saddhammaṃ bhabbo niyāmaṃ okkamituṃ kusalesu dhammesu sammattaṃ. katamehi pañcahi? na kathaṃ paribhoti, na kathikaṃ paribhoti, na attānaṃ paribhoti, avikkhittacitto dhammaṃ suṇāti, ekaggacitto yoniso ca manasi karoti.
Bhikkhus, endowed with five things by listening to the good Teaching it is possible to enter the righteous way in wholesome states. What five? Not enjoying talking, not enjoying boasting, not enjoying life, listening to the Teaching with an undisturbed mind, and thinking wisely with the mind concentrated.

Here it is clear that while being 'ekaggacitta' one 'manasi karoti' (reflects/attends), which, as made clear at MN 2, refers to thinking:
So evaṃ ayoniso manasi karoti: ‘ahosiṃ nu kho ahaṃ atītamaddhānaṃ? Na nu kho ahosiṃ atītamaddhānaṃ? Kiṃ nu kho ahosiṃ atītamaddhānaṃ?
This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past?

So it seems that the suttas are contradicting themselves when they define samadhi as 'citassa ekaggata'.. this requires some further analysis.



There is no contradiction in the Suttas if we do not introduced our preconceived notions about what certain terms should mean. One can have a focused mind (ekaggacitto) and still be listening to Dhamma and paying attention is an appropriate way, just as one can be in meditation with some vitakka & vicara (mental thought activity going on) and also sustain a focused attention on this process, which then leads to a deeper stillness.

By the way, I think the first two factors above should be better translated: "He does not oppose the talk, does not oppose the speaker, does not oppose (criticize) himself..."

:buddha1:
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Re: Concentration vs Mindfulness in the Visuddhimagga

Postby Sekha » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:45 pm

gavesako wrote:There is no contradiction in the Suttas if we do not introduced our preconceived notions about what certain terms should mean. One can have a focused mind (ekaggacitto) and still be listening to Dhamma and paying attention is an appropriate way, just as one can be in meditation with some vitakka & vicara (mental thought activity going on) and also sustain a focused attention on this process, which then leads to a deeper stillness.

:thumbsup:
Thank you, bhante. Eventually, this is what this sutta proves: the meaning of the words have become rigid over time, but they were originally more flexible. So ekaggata doesn't necessarily mean 'one-pointedness' as some (otherwise very respectable) teachers of the Vsm try to make us believe. I see this as an argument opposing the abhidhamma and Vsm stand on ekaggata as a factor of first jhana and (as a consequence) vitakka-vicara meaning 'initial and sustained application of the mind to the object'.

gavesako wrote:By the way, I think the first two factors above should be better translated: "He does not oppose the talk, does not oppose the speaker, does not oppose (criticize) himself..."

Probably, I didn't pay much attention to them, I just copied Sister Upalvanna's rendering as it was not the center of my interest.
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