Another voice in the jhana debates

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Re: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby Sylvester » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:20 pm

daverupa wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:The action denoted by the present tense samanupassati looks to me to be a very ruminative activity. How is that supposed to happen in the 2nd jhana onwards, as presented in AN 4.124, when vitakka and vicāra have disappeared?

Vitakka & vicāra aren't necessary, saññā is.


This is a useful point to bear in mind. Satipatthana functions similarly, with or without the ruminative aspect but alongside saññā throughout.


Hi ya.

In fact, I seriously doubt the ruminative theory of mindfulness. Suttas such as MN 19 and MN 78 at the borders of jhana seem clear that vitakka and vicara are affective inclinations of the mind towards renunciation, non illwill and harmlessness. That seems to be the focus of such sankappa/intentions as antidotes towards unwholesome thoughts, which are invariably couched in affective terms of sensuality, illwill and harmfulness. See Dmytro's thread on vineyya.
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Re: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby Sylvester » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:34 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I think while it is legitimate to acknowledge that the Sarvas and Sautrantikas understood their Indic languages well enough, it should be apparent from one of our previous posts that doctrinal evolution plays a very significant role in interpretation, eg the vitakka definitions taken up by the Yogacarins.

That may be your conclusion, but I've seen no reason to conclude that the Yogācāra definition of vitakka is the result of doctrinal evolution. But at any rate, vitakka isn't sufficiently defined in the suttas to give a precise understanding of exactly what it was originally intended to mean in each context that it's used.


Well if you wish to discount the competing definition which I quoted from the Taisho, that won't change the fact that that school was either uncertain about its vocabulary or using 2 sets of definition for different contexts.

I don't see any imprecision in the suttas about what vitakka means, especially in the fringes around the borders of
mindfulness and jhana. It's invariably renunciation, non illwill and harmlessness in the Pali suttas and Sarva sutras.


Sylvester wrote:This isn't my concern in appealing to medieval Buddhism to interpret Early Buddhism.

The notion of the presence of vipassanā in the jhānas isn't the result of grammatical confusion. It has ancient roots in mainstream Indian Buddhism.


The meaning of vipassana can itself be the subject of its own tome.
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Re: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:47 pm

Just thought I'd add another voice to the jhana debates:

http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html

On this page if you go to the first talk on MN 118 the Anapanasati sutta and skip 47 minutes into the talk Bhikkhu Bodhi explains how he used to think that the commentaries were correct in their description of the 3rd stage of anapanasati but that now he thinks that it means that one experiences the whole physical body but with the main point of reference from which the experience of the whole body emanates still being the nostrils and he goes on to say that he thinks this relates to the jhana similes and the experience of jhana. Anyway, I just thought some people might want to know.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby alan... » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:50 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:Just thought I'd add another voice to the jhana debates:

http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html

On this page if you go to the first talk on MN 118 the Anapanasati sutta and skip 47 minutes into the talk Bhikkhu Bodhi explains how he used to think that the commentaries were correct in their description of the 3rd stage of anapanasati but that now he thinks that it means that one experiences the whole physical body but with the main point of reference from which the experience of the whole body emanates still being the nostrils and he goes on to say that he thinks this relates to the jhana similes and the experience of jhana. Anyway, I just thought some people might want to know.


interesting. in his translation of MN 118 he notated it with a simple suggestion that the reader see the section on anapanasati in the visuddhimagga (if i remember correctly). perhaps he wrote that before he came to this conclusion?
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Re: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:06 am

Yes, I believe that is the case. If you listen to the talk (and skip 47 minutes in if you want) he says that he used to follow the commentary but that now he thinks it may be mistaken. If you haven't listened to it I would recommend doing so when you have the time.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby daverupa » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:18 pm

Sylvester wrote:In fact, I seriously doubt the ruminative theory of mindfulness... vitakka and vicara are affective inclinations of the mind


Interesting phrasing, which I grok. I also doubt the ruminative models I've seen, but was simply using your terms from an earlier post with a misunderstanding of your point. As you had said,

The action denoted by the present tense samanupassati looks to me to be a very ruminative activity. How is that supposed to happen in the 2nd jhana onwards, as presented in AN 4.124, when vitakka and vicāra have disappeared?


The answer seems to be that vitakka and vicara are affective inclinations, not ruminative activity. Are you on both sides here?
    "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: Another voice in the jhana debates

Postby Sylvester » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:20 pm

That's true dave. I did say that in the context of the border of mindfulness and jhana, the vitakka vicara are affective. But does that exclude this formation from being ruminative elsewhere? Eg in the sequel to jhana when one regains the ability to reflect. What hope can there be for rumination such as reflection in 2nd jhana upwards even if one grants that this formation functions ruminatively in jhana? One of the pitfalls, I suppose, of arguing by showing the internal inconsistency of the position I disagree with.

So, yes, I'm for the affective inclination interpretation but I won'tbe able to resist the temptation to mount the ruminative counter-argument against the chatty jhana theories.
:tongue:
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