the first jhana and thinking.

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby 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.

Postby 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:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15880&hilit=inductive+claim&start=40#p227271

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.

Postby 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.

Postby 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.

Postby 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.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby 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. :)
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby 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.

Postby 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.

Postby 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.
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby 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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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:12 am

Ñāṇa wrote: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.


The same could be said of you Geoff, when you cherry-picked one tiny section from the Peta, to make your point, when the context furnished by the preceding section goes against your case. This to me is not an issue of ecumenism, but of intellectual vigour and full disclosure. I think it speaks volumes that in your reliance on the Peta, you've consistently (until just above) not quoted the Peta's very simple definition of what vitakka means in the 1st Jhana formula.
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Nyana » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:33 am

Sylvester wrote:The same could be said of you Geoff, when you cherry-picked one tiny section from the Peta, to make your point, when the context furnished by the preceding section goes against your case. This to me is not an issue of ecumenism, but of intellectual vigour and full disclosure. I think it speaks volumes that in your reliance on the Peta, you've consistently (until just above) not quoted the Peta's very simple definition of what vitakka means in the 1st Jhana formula.

I quoted almost the entire passage here more than two years ago. In the previous reply in this thread I simply quoted that particular excerpt from the Peṭakopadesa as a comparison to how vitakka & vicāra are defined as two types of "mental discourse" (manojalpa) in non-Pāli sources.
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:57 am

My apologies for missing that.
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Sylvester » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:59 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:In the previous reply in this thread I simply quoted that particular excerpt from the Peṭakopadesa as a comparison to how vitakka & vicāra are defined as two types of "mental discourse" (manojalpa) in non-Pāli sources.



While I note your intent in citing those bits from the Peta concerning vitakka-vicāra to tie in with the Kosa's definition of the 2 as manojalpa, I for one do not see the utility of juxtaposing a rather medieval definition onto a much earlier concept. If one were to look for a Sarvastivadin definition that is more contemporaneous with the Peta’s, perhaps a better candidate than the Abhidharmakosa would be the Sarva’s much earlier text in the Sangitiparyaya . Unsurprisingly, the Sarva’s early definition of vitarka mirrors the Peta’s for vitakka. This can be found in the Taisho from T26n1536_p0377a26(00) to T26n1536_p0378a27(00) here -

http://www.cbeta.org/result/normal/T26/1536_003.htm

A 2-fold analysis of vitarka (尋) is given, starting with the analysis of bad vitarka into three (三不善尋)and then moving onto the exposition on the 3 good vitarka (三善尋). The 3 bad vitarka are 欲尋恚尋害尋 (of sensual desire, ill-will, cruelty). The text then goes on to describe the 3 good vitarka, namely 出離尋無恚尋無害尋 (of renunciation, non ill-will, non-cruelty). Both listings are preceded by the word 謂, the Chinese for yad idam, which functions to close the listing. Like the Peta, there is no definition offered of vicāra. You will doubtless recognise that this early Sarva treatment on vitarka is no different from another Pali work, ie DN 33, which has strong correspondences to the Sangiti Sutra.

At least, at this stage of Sarvastivadin and Theravadin scholasticism, the definition of vitarka/vitakka was less concerned with vitarka's connection with rumination, but more with its role as wholesome or unwholesome mental kamma and its effect on meditation. That seems to be the objective of suttas such as MN 19, MN 78, SN 14.12 etc. The much later treatment given by the Abhidharmakosa represents not merely a semantic shift, but a doctrinal evolution from the early ideas that managed to get preserved in the Peṭakopadesa and Sangitiparyaya. From the conceptions in suttas such as MN 19 and MN 78 that paint these "vitakka" or "thoughts/intentions" as antidotes to specific anusayā that hinder samatha, the Kosa marks the evolution of the term as part of vipaśyanā.

As such, I don't really feel comfy correlating the Kosa's manojalpa characterisation with the Peta's similes for and comparisons of vitakka and vicāra. Those merely serve as analogies.
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Nyana » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:48 pm

Sylvester wrote:From the conceptions in suttas such as MN 19 and MN 78 that paint these "vitakka" or "thoughts/intentions" as antidotes to specific anusayā that hinder samatha...

MN 19 seems to be one of the main canonical sources for much of the later commentarial explanations of this subject. And this is the case in both early and later commentary, which often explain vitakka in terms of the three thoughts of renunciation, of non-aversion, and of harmlessness and/or explain vitakka & vicāra as antidotes to sensual pleasures and unskillful phenomena as per the first jhāna formula. All of this is included in the Peṭakopadesa explanation.

Sylvester wrote:...the Kosa marks the evolution of the term as part of vipaśyanā.

In the Sarvāstivāda and Yogācāra systems samatha & vipassanā are both employed to overcome the hindrances for the attainment of mundane jhāna, and for abiding in jhāna, and for the attainment of supramundane path of seeing, etc.

The manojalpa definition isn't from the Kośa. Vasubandhu gives it in his Pañcaskandhaprakaraṇa. The same definition is given in the Abhidharmasamuccaya. And Yaśomitra gives a very similar definition which he attributes to "ancient teachers" in his commentary on the Kośa (Sphuṭārthā Abhidharmakośavyākhyā). There is also lengthy analysis of vitakka & vicāra along these lines in the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra. I thought I had an earlier Sarvāstivāda source as well, but looking through my notes I don't see one.

But at any rate, these sources either predate or are roughly contemporary with the Visuddhimagga. And they give a distinctly different analysis of vitakka & vicāra from what Buddhaghosa offers, as do the Peṭakopadesa and the Vimuttimagga.

Sylvester wrote:As such, I don't really feel comfy correlating the Kosa's manojalpa characterisation with the Peta's similes for and comparisons of vitakka and vicāra.

That's fine.
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby reflection » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:32 pm

Hi Alan,

Instead of comparing various sources of text, you can also watch the mind. Compare a meditation where there are thoughts with a meditation where there are no thoughts for quite a while. Now which one was more peaceful? It'll be the one with no thoughts. It's this kind of peaceful meditation we want to develop, because the more peaceful, the happier. It doesn't really matter what name we give it. To call it jhana or not, to have a pali source for it or not, doesn't change a thing to the experience itself. Once you are in this kind of meditation, thoughts about how to call it, won't arise anyway.

With metta,
Reflection
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Sylvester » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:59 am

Thank you Geoff. I think the manojalpa definition is uniquely Yogacara (but see below). While it has its utility in the context of vipaśyanā as understood by the Yogacarins, I am hesitant to apply it to the early suttas to interpret vitakka, since the early canonical 3-vitakka model is clearly geared towards samatha. Perhaps there is something useful to be gleaned from the Yogacarins' understanding of vitakka and vipassana, since many of the Pali vipassati proxy verbs have to function in the presence of vitakka. That still needs to be studied.

If you have a copy of the Mahāyāna-saṃparigraha-śāstra, I note that the Chinese translation of this text's explanation of manojalpa (意言) does not seem restricted to only a vipaśyanā context. Tellingly, the word nimitta pops up here (相), wherein the respective function of vitarka (覺) and vicāra (觀) as manojalpa is reduced simply to 見識 (encountering/being introduced to) and 相識 (familiarising) respectively. These could be the 2 nimitta of manojalpa at their most "basic". Alternatively, the Chinese is saying that vitarka encounters the nimitta, while vicāra familiarises with the nimitta; based on the syntax, the 2nd reading seems more likely. Either way, it sounds rather like the Peṭakopadesa and the Vimuttimagga analogies. The Chinese is available here-

http://tripitaka.cbeta.org/ja/T31n1595_007

Whether the translator correctly rendered the 2 Indic words into "encountering"and "familiarising" can be the matter for further study.

On a personal note, I just realised that my dad's personal name is Majestic Nimitta! :rofl:
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Nyana » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:53 am

Sylvester wrote:I think the manojalpa definition is uniquely Yogacara (but see below).

The relationship between Yogācāra, Sautrāntika, and Sarvāstivāda is rather complex in terms of the historical development of ideas. For example, it's been suggested that the oldest strata of the Yogācārabhūmiśāstra predates what are commonly considered to be specifically "Yogācāra" doctrines. The same could be said of much of the Abhidharmasamuccaya. Also, many of Vasubandhu's references to Sautrāntika ideas in the Abhidharmakośabhāsya have close correspondences in various sections of the Yogācārabhūmi.

Sylvester wrote:Perhaps there is something useful to be gleaned from the Yogacarins' understanding of vitakka and vipassana, since many of the Pali vipassati proxy verbs have to function in the presence of vitakka. That still needs to be studied.

There's really no way of sidestepping the role of interpretation when explaining sutta source passages. The suttas themselves offer enough diversity and lack of specifics to be open to a few different interpretations on these subjects. And most commentators, both ancient and modern, don't restrict vipassanā to functioning only in the presence of vitakka.

Sylvester wrote:Whether the translator correctly rendered the 2 Indic words into "encountering"and "familiarising"can be the matter for further study.

The Chinese translations are a valuable resource, but there are still enough Sanskrit texts available which deal directly with this subject to offer a good starting point for investigating what these Indian commentators were saying.

Sylvester wrote:On a personal note, I just realised that my dad's personal name is Majestic Nimitta! :rofl:

:smile:
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby Sylvester » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:58 am

Perhaps Geoff. There are enough knotty passages to warrant resort to exegetical material. But it should be obvious that my skepticism about certain Abhidharmic/Abhidhammic innovations which are inconsistent with the suttas leads me to think that these are best taken with a pinch of salt. As I've said before, I have the optimism of those into Early Buddhism studies that much of the suttas are clear enough not to be lensed thru later material, to the extent that they are inconsistent.

:anjali:
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Re: the first jhana and thinking.

Postby manas » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:08 pm

It occurred to me recently, that in the first jhana, 'restlessness' has been surmounted, but not 'thinking'. But could it be that many persons conflate the two (thinking and restlessness) when they are actually two different things? This might be a long-standing source of much confusion.
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