Sunday, March 29, 2020

AN 5.55 lust contrasted against first jhana's blameless pleasure



5kg = panca kāma-guṇā = 5 sensuality strings

While first jhana is not explicitly specified this sutta, it's consonant with the same theme. That VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana) which emphasizes samatha kung fu of 5 body senses being shut down, an impressive feat in its own right, has nothing to do with the superpower of first jhana, which is to deeply understand that the pleasure of being free of lust and desire for 5kg, is far superior.

example of expert meditator teacher who could to VRJ with 5 senses shut down. Turns out he was cheating on his wife, had something like 10 mistresses over many years, some of them were paid sex workers, and likely money was coming from Dhamma teaching donations from his students. He is just one recent example among many throughout the history of meditators who could do VRJ.

He could do VRJ jhanas and arupa samadhi, but he couldn't do a proper EBT first jhana where 'secluded from sensual pleasure' doesn't mean the 5 senses are shut off, it means exactly what the words look like, the ability to abide in spiritual pleasures which are free of worldly sensual pleasures and sexual desire.

Comprehensive gloss of vivicc’eva kāmehi from STED...

The function of vitakka and vicara in first jhana, is not to shut off the 5 sense faculties, but to think, ponder, and:
Ye ca kāme pariññāya,
... completely understand sensual pleasures

AN 5.55 excerpt

...
Yañhi taṃ, bhikkhave, sammā vadamāno vadeyya:
For if anyone should be rightly called ‘an all-round snare of Māra’, it’s females.
‘samantapāso mārassā’ti mātugāmaṃyeva sammā vadamāno vadeyya:
‘samantapāso mārassā’ti.
Sallape asihatthena,
You might chat with someone who has knife in hand.
pisācenāpi sallape;
You might even chat with a goblin.
Āsīvisampi āsīde,
You might sit close by a viper,
yena daṭṭho na jīvati;
whose bite would take your life.
Na tveva eko ekāya,
But never should you chat
mātugāmena sallape.
one on one with a female.
Muṭṭhassatiṃ tā bandhanti,
They captivate the unrememberful
pekkhitena sitena ca;
with a glance and a smile.
Athopi dunnivatthena,
Or scantily clad,
mañjunā bhaṇitena ca;
they speak charming words.
Neso jano svāsīsado,
It’s not good to sit with such a person,
api ugghātito mato.
even if she’s injured or dead.
Pañca kāmaguṇā ete,
These five kinds of sensual stimulation
itthirūpasmiṃ dissare;
are apparent in a woman’s body:
Rūpā saddā rasā gandhā,
sights, sounds, tastes, smells,
phoṭṭhabbā ca manoramā.
and touches so delightful.
Tesaṃ kāmoghavūḷhānaṃ,
Those swept away by the flood of sensual pleasures,
kāme aparijānataṃ;
not comprehending them,
Kālaṃ gati bhavābhavaṃ,
make their priority transmigration—
saṃsārasmiṃ purakkhatā.
time and destination, life after life.
Ye ca kāme pariññāya,
But those who completely understand sensual pleasures
caranti akutobhayā;
live fearing nothing from any quarter.
Te ve pāraṅgatā loke,
They are those in the world who’ve crossed over,
ye pattā āsavakkhayan”ti.
having reached the ending of defilements.”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Comprehensive gloss of vivicc’eva kāmehi from STED 1st Jhāna


 'vivicc’eva kāmehi' of first jhana = seclusion from sensuality, 

seclusion from desire for sensual pleasure,
seclusion from desire for sensual pleasure objects.

Surveying every reference  of first jhana formula in the suttas, you can verify it yourself. Whenever first jhana occurs in a gradual samadhi training sequence, the kama/kamehi being referenced will also be explicitly explained prior to first jhana formula in the form of:
1. kāma sankappo or kāma vitakka, desire of sensual pleasure in opposition to nekkhamma sankappo/vitakka (renunciations thoughts and resolves).  (AN 6.73AN 6.74AN 6.75).
2. 5kg = panca kāma-guṇā = 5 sensuality strings
3. kāmacchanda, the first of the 5niv⛅ = pañca nīvaraṇā = 5 hindrances
4. kāma, raga, or lobha of the 3am 😈🌱= 3 a-kusala mulani = 3 un-skillful roots, The Unholy Trinity, aka 3 aggi 🔥(fire)

 Athough kāma in some contexts in Theravada scripture (not sure if it occurs in EBT?) can mean objects of the 5 senses, rather than desire for sensual pleasure objects, in first jhana context, this is never the case. Even in Abhidhamma Vibhanga.

Viveka, vivicc'eva means:

Secluded. Specifically in this context, secluded from sensuality, sensual pleasure and desire for them. There can be both mental and physical seclusion, but by far the only one that matters in the end, is mental seclusion from sensuality based on wisdom.

Where physical seclusion may be implied in the EBT, would be in passages such as MN 150, where the physical seclusion is meant as a preliminary training aid to develop the samadhi and practice.

 It absolutely never means the 5 senses of the body are shut off, that one has entered an arupa/formless attainment as late Theravada Abhidhamma such as Vism. claims (in contradiction to EBT and even early Abhidhamma).

(MN 150):

te āyasmanto araññavanapatthāni pantāni senāsanāni paṭisevanti. Natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā ye disvā disvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā sotaviññeyyā saddā ye sutvā sutvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā ghānaviññeyyā gandhā ye ghāyitvā ghāyitvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā jivhāviññeyyā rasā ye sāyitvā sāyitvā abhirameyyuṃ, natthi kho pana tattha tathārūpā kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā ye phusitvā phusitvā abhirameyyuṃ.

[T]hose venerable ones resort to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest. For there are no forms cognizable by the eye there of a kind that they could look at and delight in. There are no sounds cognizable by the ear there of a kind that they could listen to and delight in. There are no odors cognizable by the nose there of a kind that they could smell and delight in. There are no flavors cognizable by the tongue there of a kind that they could taste and delight in. There are no tactual objects cognizable by the body there of a kind that they could touch and delight in.


(whenever you see nekkhamma, especially in jhāna context, it's being contrasted against its akusala/unskillful opposite, kāma, sensuality)



People often forget the 👑-8fold-☸ noble-eightfold-path

is a causal sequence, where thoughts of renunciation based on samma sankappo's nekkhama-sankappo, feed directly into samma samadhi's first jhana formula's "with directed thought and evaluation". For example, in first jhana, you may have the thought, "wow, I'm free of lust and 5 hindrances, and it feels GREAT!", so long as the excitement and intensity of that thought does not block kaya-passadhi (bodily pacification of 7 awakening factor sequence). 

正見 zhèng jiàn
1👁 sammā-diṭṭhi
right-view
正思惟 Zhèng sīwéi
2💭 sammā-saṅkappo
right-resolve 
正語 Zhèng yǔ
3💬 sammā-vācā
right-vocalization
正業 zhèng yè
4🏃 sammā-kammanto
right-action
正命 zhèng mìng
5👑 sammā-ājīvo
right-livelihood
正精進 zhèng jīngjìn
6🏹 sammā-vāyāmo
right-effort
正念 zhèngniàn
7🐘 sammā-sati
right-remembering
正定 zhèngdìng
8🌄 sammā-samādhi
righteous-undistractible-lucidity





From studyinevery reference to STED 4j🌕 formula, and examining what happens right before first jhāna, we can see the pattern. Whenever first jhana occurs in a gradual training context, almost always what comes right before the first jhana formula is a contrast with 5kg, or 5niv (full STED above). 





There are only 2 suttas in the canon titled "first jhana"

So it's worth taking a close look at what it has to say regarding 'vivicceva kamehi'.


You can click the links above to carefully study the full suttas (they're short), but in summary, the 3 wrong and right samma sankappos are contrasted against each other, and the 5 hindrances are listed. Here is a particularly important part of AN 6.73 that most people will miss. Most people will just look at it quickly and go, "ok, 5 hindrances, let's move on...", and miss this very important point:

(item #6 is method 2 of MN 20, i.e. first jhana purifying itself to qualify for 2nd jhana)

Cha, bhikkhave, dhamme pahāya bhabbo paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharituṃ.
But after giving up these six [bad] dharmas you can enter and remain in the first jhāna.
Katame cha?
What six?
Kāma-c-chandaṃ,
1. Desire for sensual pleasures,
byāpādaṃ,
2. ill will,
thina-middhaṃ,
3. dullness and drowsiness,
uddhacca-kukkuccaṃ,
4. restlessness and remorse,
vicikicchaṃ,
5. doubt,
kāmesu kho panassa ādīnavo
6. And the drawbacks of sensual pleasures
na yathā-bhūtaṃ samma-p-paññāya su-diṭṭho hoti.
have not been {well-seen}, as-they-actually-are, (with) right-discernment.
Ime kho, bhikkhave, cha dhamme pahāya bhabbo
After giving up these six [bad] dharmas
paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharitun”ti.
you can enter and remain in the first jhāna.”


The sixth item is method #2 from MN 20, the type of skillful thoughts we think to purify our mind, our view, to properly learn to notice, acknowledge, and gain an intuitive understanding that lust, passion, sensual thoughts are dangerous, lead directly to dukkha. And their skillful kusala opposite, 'nekkhama' thoughts of renunciation, lead to and feed the fire of first jhana. Vitakka thoughts have a crucial role in first jhana. They're like the kindling  used to stoke and build up a fire before it's a big blaze and can sustain itself.  It's a critical part of gradual samadhi training, before one has learned the skill of entering into samadhi directly by pacification (passaddhi-sam-bojjhanga). 

So to destroy the meaning of vitakka (thinking) in first jhana, as Vism. and Ajahn Brahm do, is doing great harm to Buddhism. In the EBT, samatha and vipassana in jhana are conjoined, not separate entities to be practiced at different stages independently of each other, as the passage above clearly shows. 


KN Pe 7.72: word cmy on four jhānas

is the earliest Theravada 4 jhana formula gloss. It agrees completely with the pure EBT passages quoted above. (first paragraph 72. talks about tīṇi akusala-mūlāni (3 unskillful roots) and 5niv (hindrances) removal.
♦ tattha a-lobhassa pāripūriyā nekkhamma-vitakkaṃ vitakketi.
576. Here, for non-greed fulfillment, renunciation-thoughts (he) thinks.
tattha a-dosassa pāripūriyā abyāpāda-vitakkaṃ vitakketi.
for non-hatred fulfillment, non-ill-will-thoughts (he) thinks.
tattha a-mohassa pāripūriyā avihiṃsā-vitakkaṃ vitakketi.
for non-delusion fulfillment, non-harm-thoughts (he) thinks.
tattha a-lobhassa pāripūriyā vivitto hoti kāmehi.
577. “Here, for fulfilling non-passion he is secluded from sensual pleasures.
tattha a-dosassa pāripūriyā
Here, for fulfilling non-aggression and
a-mohassa pāripūriyā ca vivitto hoti pāpakehi akusalehi dhammehi,
fulfilling non-delusion he is secluded from unskillful phenomena.
savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ
And so he enters and remains in the first jhāna,
paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
which includes directed thought and evaluation, as well as joy and pleasure born of seclusion.
♦ vitakkāti tayo vitakkā —
578. Directed thought: There are three kinds of directed thought, namely
nekkhammavitakko
the thought of renunciation,
abyāpādavitakko
the thought of non-aversion,
avihiṃsāvitakko.
and the thought of harmlessness.
tattha paṭham-ābhinipāto vitakko,
579. Here, directed thought is the first instance
paṭiladdhassa vicaraṇaṃ vicāro.
while evaluation is the evaluation of what is thereby received.




Lets look at some Theravada Non EBT glosses

Te Ab Vb 10: Bojjhaṅga
Te Ab Vb 12: Jhana
Vimt. Vimutti-magga
Vism. Vi-suddhi-magga



“Vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehī”ti tattha katame kāmā? Chando kāmo, rāgo kāmo, chandarāgo kāmo, saṅkappo kāmo, rāgo kāmo, saṅkapparāgo kāmo— ime vuccanti “kāmā”.
“Aloof from sense pleasures, aloof from unskilful dhammas” means: Therein what are sense pleasures? Wish is sense pleasure, lust is sense pleasure, lustful wish is sense pleasure, thought is sense pleasure, lust is sense pleasure, lustful thought is sense pleasure. These are called sense pleasures.
Tattha katame akusalā dhammā? Kāmacchando, byāpādo, thinaṃ, middhaṃ, uddhaccaṃ, kukkuccaṃ, vicikicchā—ime vuccanti “akusalā dhammā”.
Therein what are unskilful dhammas? Wish for sense pleasure, ill-will, sloth, torpor, distraction, remorse, doubt. These are called unskilful dhammas.
Iti imehi ca kāmehi imehi ca akusalehi dhammehi vivitto hoti. Tena vuccati “vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehī”ti.
Thus from these sense pleasures and from these unskilful dhammas he is aloof. Therefore this is called “aloof from sense pleasures, aloof from unskilful dhammas”.

conclusion: Abhidhamma agrees with EBT on what kamehi means in first jhana: lust, passion, sensual desire, etc., and not "5 sense faculties shutting off"

Q. Since separation from demeritorious states is preached and lust as a demeritorious state is already within it, why should separation from lust be separately preached?
A. Lust is conquered through emancipation. Every Buddha's teaching can remove the defilements well. “The separation from lust is renunciation'. This is the teaching of the Buddha. It is like the attainment of the first meditation, jhāna. The thought connected with the perception of lust partakes of the state of deterioration.
Thereby lust is connected with the defilements. With the dispersion of lust all defilements disperse. Therefore, separately, the separation from lust is preached.
And again, thus is separation from lust: After gaining emancipation, a man accomplishes the separation from lust.


conclusion: vimt., which is based on canonical abhdhamma, also agrees with EBT and does not contradict it. No mention of "5 body senses shut off" here.


Visuddhi-magga

Their gloss is quite long, so will not be reproduced in this article. The latter portion of the first jhana gloss, seems to quote Abhidhamma gloss above. Prior to that, they seem to support the idea of kamehi referring to objects of sensual pleasure rather than 'desire for sensual pleasures' as the Earlier Buddhist texts, and Abhidhamma and Vimt. states. But note that it's an ADDITIONAL meaning of kamehi, not REPLACING the existing incontrovertible meaning of 'desire for sensual pleasures'.



From the Nyanatiloka's dictionary: (summarize Theravada including Vism. understanding of seclusion)
  • viveka

'detachment', seclusion, is according to Niddesa, of 3 kinds:
  • (1) bodily detachment (kāya-viveka), i.e. abiding in solitude free from alluring sensuous objects;
  • (2) mental detachment (citta-viveka), i.e. the inner detachment from sensuous things;
  • (3) detachment from the substrata of existence (upadhi-viveka).
In the description of the 1st absorption,
  • the words "detached from sensuous things" (vivicc' eva kāmehi) refer, according to Vis.M. IV, to 'bodily detachment';
  • the words "detached from karmically unwholesome things" (vivicca akusalehi dhammehi) refer to 'mental detachment';
  • the words "born of detachment" (vivekaja), to the absence of the 5 hindrances.



Rupert Gethin glosses vivicc’ eva kāmehi of first jhāna


vivicc’ eva kāmehi must mean ‘quite separated / secluded from kāma-s’; so the question is what are kāma-s exactly. I don’t think kāma means ’sense pleasures’. Early on (e.g. already in Peṭ and in NiddI) the exegetical tradition explains kāma-s as twofold: (1) ‘desires' as affliction/defilement (kilesa-kāma), namely taṇhā for the objects of the five senses, and (2) ‘desires’ as the objects of those desires (vatthu-kāma), namely  the objects of the five senses themselves (visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, the objects of touch). So I take vivicc’ eva kāmehi to mean ‘quite separate/secluded from desires for the objects of the senses / from the objects of sense-desires. That certain words in Pali/Sanskrit can mean both the action and the object that action is directed towards is quite common. In fact this happens in all languages. So in English ’thought’ can mean both ’thinking’ and the object of thinking (what is thought about); ‘attachment’ can mean both being attached and then thing one is attached to; kāma in Pali is exactly like this, even though the English word ‘desire’, which is often used to translate kāma, is not so.


That jhāna is separate or secluded from the objects of the five sense is, of course, why it is rūpāvacara as opposed to kāmāvacara. The attainment of jhāna marks a radical transformation of mind.


gloss of avacara (spheres of consciousness)

excerpt:
  • the sensuous sphere (kāmāvacara),
  • the fine-material sphere (rūpāvacara),
  • the immaterial sphere (arūpāvacara).

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Śarīra (cremated relics) of Mahā Moggallāna and Sāriputta, multiplied



(from wikipedia)
Śarīra is a generic term referring to Buddhist relics, although in common usage it usually refers to pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped objects that are purportedly found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters. Relics of the Buddha after cremation are termed dhātu in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.[1] Śarīra are held to emanate or incite 'blessings' and 'grace' (Sanskrit: adhiṣṭhāna) within the mindstream and experience of those connected to them.[2] Sarira are also believed to ward off evil in the Himalayan Buddhist tradition.

Terminology
Śarīraḥ (pronounced sharirah) means "body" in Sanskrit. When used in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit texts to mean "relics", it is always used in the plural: śarīrāḥ. The term ringsel is a loanword from the Tibetan language. Both of these terms are ambiguous in English; they are generally used as synonyms, although according to some interpretations, ringsels are a subset of śarīras.


Relics of Sariputta and Moggallana

A friend gave me one small relic from each of them, unfortunately no pictures in the linked article above to compare with mine.

Here are mine:
30 second video showing the sarira that are there now (4 of them)


cel phone cameras don't seem to be able to take detailed pictures of very small items



A note from my friend describing what was originally given to me 10 years ago (2 items: 1 sarira belonging to sariputta, and 1 belonging to moggallana).



the crystal container in which the sarira are stored in, placed next to a buddha statue in a meditation room.

Packaging material of the crystal container,  and small silk bag that held the 2 original sarira.

crystal container opened, showing contents with 4 sarira today.

4 sarira removed from container

1. The first one on left, is Sariputta. You can't see the detail from the picture, but it's kind of white yellowish bony color.
2. next one, brown, is moggallana
3. 3rd one, is white, and it's not a broken fragment of #1.
4. The last one is translucent, maybe just slightly green tint, not quite a perfect sphere shape but pretty close. This one doesn't resemble any of the original two at all.





Just out of curiosity, I sniffed each of the sarira to see if at had any odor. One of them smelled a little of what you would expect earth or gravel to smell like. My mom said it was very disrespectful to the Buddha and arahants for me to sniff. I disagreed.

More details of the story later, after I confirm some details with my friend who originally gave me the sarira.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

SN 7.9 lucid24: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, always in jhāna and samādhi 🌄, equated with metaphor of fire 🔥

Jhāna also means 'burning', and samādahati is putting together the kindling to a fire.
Two important points to make in this short article:

1. jhana and samadhi both often use a metaphor of a fire. Based on passages like this, 'jhana' being a fire that burns away defilements seems to be what the Buddha intended, and not just a fanciful commentary explanation as I originally thought.

2. the Buddha expects his disciples to be in jhana and samadhi all the time. Several passages in the EBT, such as this one, make that point explicitly. 'nicca' = permanent, constant. Noble silence means second jhana, and 'pleasant abiding' (dittha dhamma sukha vihara) is a code phrase for 3rd jhana.

2b. always in jhana and samadhi means all postures, all activities, not just formal sitting practice.

excerpt from SN 7.9

SN 7 all suttas
Atha kho sundarikabhāradvājo brāhmaṇo saṃviggo lomahaṭṭhajāto yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā ekamantaṃ aṭṭhāsi.
Then Sundarika the brahmin, shocked and awestruck, went up to the Buddha, and stood to one side.
Ekamantaṃ ṭhitaṃ kho sundarikabhāradvājaṃ brāhmaṇaṃ bhagavā gāthāhi ajjhabhāsi:
The Buddha addressed him in verse:
“Mā brāhmaṇa dāru samādahāno,
“When you’re kindling the wood, brahmin,
Suddhiṃ amaññi bahiddhā hi etaṃ;
don’t imagine this is purity, for it’s just an external.
Na hi tena suddhiṃ kusalā vadanti,
Experts say that those who wish for purity
Yo bāhirena parisuddhimicche.
through externals will not find it.
Hitvā ahaṃ brāhmaṇa dārudāhaṃ,
I’ve given up kindling firewood, brahmin,
Ajjhattamevujjalayāmi jotiṃ;
now I just light the inner flame.
Nicc-agginī nicca-samāhitatto,
Always blazing, always undistractify-&-lucidifyd,
Arahaṃ ahaṃ brahmacariyaṃ carāmi.
I am a perfected one living the spiritual life.
Māno hi te brāhmaṇa khāribhāro,
Conceit, brahmin, is the burden of your possessions,
Kodho dhumo bhasmani mosavajjaṃ;
anger your smoke, and lies your ashes.
Jivhā sujā hadayaṃ jotiṭhānaṃ,
The tongue is the ladle and the heart the fire altar;
Attā sudanto purisassa joti.
a well-tamed self is a person’s light.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

SJS six day meditation self retreat - schedule, starting now

Sautrantika Jhana Society


Self meditation retreat.
A few friends and I are doing a virtual cyber retreat together the next 6 days.
At 7pm we video conference to chat about Dhamma for  about 30min.
The rest of the day, no internet or non Dharma media consumption or activity.
Follow a schedule similar to this, honor system.
Feel feel to join, and write it about daily or share your experiences afterwards.
Have a great retreat!

3/17 – 3/23

6 AM – 7:30 AM Meditation
7:30 – 8:30 AM Exercise/Walking Meditation/Taichi
8:30 – 9:30 AM Breakfast
9:30 - 10:30 AM Walking Meditation/Taichi
10:30 AM – 12 PM Meditation
12 – 1 PM Nap / Chore
1 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch Break
2 PM – 3:30 PM Walking Meditation/Taichi
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Meditation
4:30 PM – 6 PM Relax/read/snack
6 PM -7 PM Chore Time
7 PM – 8:30 PM Reading / Dhamma Discussions
8:30 PM – 10 PM Meditation

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sautrantika Jhana Society


a few thoughts on first jhana

There's only one thing you need to get an authentic taste of genuine first jhana. Passadhi - pacification/relaxation, the 5th step before the 6th step samadhi in the 7 awakening factors.
Everyone can do this. You have to use that skill to fall asleep. Or enjoy lying on a sandy tropical beach.
It's really that simple. The trick is, until you've put in enough time to melt your energy blockages, you won't get a full body pervasion of piti & sukha (rapture and pleasure) as described in AN 5.28.
The hard part, is during the ice melting phase and charging up of your jhana battery, meditation can be unpleasant and/or even painful. Depending on health, age, previous accumulated credits from virtue and meditation, this can take anywhere from weeks, to months before you've gotten a strong enough taste of pleasure to convince yourself that a full first jhana of AN 5.28 is possible.
One of my dreams is to help form a jhana society of practitioners who can competently do, and lead meditation sitting groups to help others learn the skill of first jhana. At the minimum though, IMO, meditators would need to at least commit to a daily practice at least as much as Transcendental Meditation (TM) meditators follow. Two twenty minute sessions per day. One in the morning, one in the afternoon.
And another commitment, and this is really important, is to train samadhi 24/7, even while you're working, following the principles of ✴️MN 20 Vitakka-saṇṭhāna. Even when you're working, you should be a master of thought,
ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, bhikkhu
This (is) called, **********, (a) monk
vasī vitakka-pariyāya-pathesu.
(who is a) master (of) thought-order-pathways.
yaṃ vitakkaṃ ākaṅkhissati
The thoughts (he) wishes,
taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati,
those thoughts (he) thinks.
yaṃ vitakkaṃ n-ākaṅkhissati
The thoughts (he does) not wish,
na taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati.
those thoughts (he does) {not} think.

What do you guys think? Am I just a crazy dreamer, or is it feasible to form a society of jhana meditators who can commit and do this?

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

why does 16aps breath meditation only supress vitakka, and not vicara?


Re: detailed audit showing even in Vism. vitakka in 31 body parts and first jhana means 'thinking', not 'initial applica

Post by frank k » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:46 am
That's a tough passage to understand, but I don't really understand how that supports your case.
Volo wrote: 
Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:27 am
...So, Vimuttimagga is indeed in a good accordance with Vism in treating vitakka, and clearly distinguishes vitakka as jhāna factor from vitakka as thinking.
definition of discursive:
1.
digressing from subject to subject.

Here's the passage again, expanded a little so you can see the context better. It's explaining how 4sp satipatthana fulfills 7sb awakening factors, and why anapana is said to remove vitakka (discursive thinking). Clearly is talking about MN 118, the latter part of the sutta.
THE SEVEN ENLIGHTENMENT FACTORS
Q. How are the seven enlightenment factors fulfilled through the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness?
A. If the yogin practises the (four) foundations of mindfulness, he is able to abide non-confused in mindfulness; this is called the enlightenment factor of mindfulness. That yogin, abiding in mindfulness, investigates subjection to ill, impermanence and phenomena; this is called the enlightenment factor of inquiry into states. Inquiring into states (dhammd) thus, he strives earnestly without slackening; this is called the enlightenment factor of exertion. Developing exertion, he arouses joy (Pīti) that is clean; this is called the enlightenment factor of joy (Pīti). Through the mind being full of joy (Pīti), his body and mind are endowed with calm; this is called the enlightenment factor of calm. Through calmness his body attains to ease and his mind is possessed of concentration; this is called the enlightenment factor of concentration. Owing to concentration, the mind acquires equanimity; this is called the enlightenment factor of equanimity. Thus because of the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness, the seven enlightenment factors are fulfilled.

Q. How are freedom and wisdom fulfilled through the practice of the seven enlightenment factors ?
The yogin who has practised the seven enlightenment factors much, gains in a moment the wisdom of the Path and the Fruit of freedom. Thus because of the practice of the seven enlightenment factors, wisdom and freedom are fulfilled.
A. All formations are endowed with directed thought (vitakka) according to planes.
Q. That being so, why is only directed thought (vitakka) suppressed in mindfulness of respiration, and not the other (vicara) 
?
A. It is used here in a different sense. Discursiveness is a hindrance to meditation, jhāna. In this sense, it is suppressed. Why is air contact pleasant ? Because it calms the mind. It is comparable to the soothing of a heavenly musician's (gandhabba's) mind with sweet sounds. By this discursive thinking is suppressed. And again, it is like a person walking along the bank of a river. His mind is collected, is directed towards one object and does not wander. Therefore in mindfulness of respiration, the suppression of discursive thinking is taught.
Mindfulness of respiration has ended.
What this passage is talking about (the part Volo is questioning), is the that vitakka in first jhana, being somewhat discursive in nature, can change meditation topics as needs arise (see AN 8.63). For example, one could use vitakka to switch from anapana to metta, to 4sp.
Since we are now fixed (appana in the original sense of the word) on the topic of anapana breath meditation, and are happily absorbed in first jhana, there is no longer a need for vitakka to discursively consider and switch to another meditation topic. But vicara is still active in first jhana of anapanasati, to consider/ponder/evaluate subtle aspects of the breath that are relevant to once perception of breath (sañña) in first jhana.

The simile at the end of the passage, which Volo neglected to include, makes all this clear. It's not that the ability to think 'discursively' (change meditation topics) is impossible in anapana first jhana, it's just that the nature of anapana and kayagata, is that by one's attention pleasurably engaged in observing physical processesses, there is no desire or need to change meditation topics.