Sunday, February 24, 2019

hierarchy of perception, thinking, proliferation (in and outside of jhāna)

First, note that suttas clustered together sequentially often develop a theme that runs through them, so if you were to only read one of the cluster in isolation, you'd miss some important ideas.

MN 19, MN 20, deal with first and second jhana as the primary focus.
MN 18 has some important foundation groundwork that establishes a hierarchy on where thinking (vitakka) fits in, from the most raw sensory data, through proliferation of obsessive complex thinking and building a story and identity around that.

Cakkhu + rūpe + viññāṇaṃ → phasso → vedeti (vedanā) → sañjānāti → vitakketi → papañceti
eye + forms + consciousness → contact → feel → perceive → think → proliferate

* So consciousness (viññāṇaṃ) is the most raw sensory data.
* From 12ps (dependent co-origination) we know 6 sense bases (which include physical body) come before contact (phassa).
* experienced-sensation (feeling, vedana) builds on top of consciousness (viññāṇaṃ) and adds more information including physical body. Vedana is usually classified as 3 types: pain, pleasure, neither-pain-nor-pleasure.
* perception (sañña) builds on top of vedana.
* thinking (vitakka) builds on a diversity of perception (sañña) .
* proliferation (papanca) builds on obsessive thinking

example 1: you see a person you recognize and know to be a liar

* consciousness (viññāṇaṃ): raw sensory data of external forms you see with the eye. colors, shape, etc.
*  experienced-sensation (feeling, vedana): on initial contact, before perception kicks in, memory kicks in, perhaps vedana is primarily a neutral feeling. Later, after recognizing what you see is a person, not an inanimate object, and a person you know, etc, then perhaps you would experience painful feelings of anger, disgust, etc. While the suttas usually work with 3 types of feelings, sometimes vedana, vedeti, pati-samvedeti, and even with viññāṇa seems to talk about a type of understanding/wisdom/knowing/experiencing that is more complex than raw sensory data.
*  perception (sañña): Perception builds on what the vedana "sensed/experienced/felt". So we have perceptions that what we see is a person, a person we know, a liar.
* thinking (vitakka): Here's where the expression  vaci-sankhara (thoughts we think before we vocalize them) helps distinguish between perceptions and thinking. The liar perceived by sañña is an instantaneous non-verbal knowing. Vitakka builds on that perception by verbalizing it, with mental labels, imagery, words, usually in the form of communicable speech. "That's lying liar is a bad person who tells lies."
* proliferation (papanca): proliferation builds on the thinking by adding much more thinking and building an identity and narrative around that. "That lying liar has lied to me in the past, probably plans to tell a lie to trick me into doing something I don't want to do. But I'm not going to fall for his lie this time."

AN 4.41 samādhi-bhāvanā-sutta

Recall, the third and fourth jhana explicitly references sati and sampajano.
And in this sutta AN 4.41, #3 S&S is describing what one can and should do in third jhana, when not in #1 "pleasant abiding mode" to recharge one's energy.

Katamā ca, bhikkhave, samādhi-bhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā
{and} what, *********, concentration-development, when developed (and) pursued,
Sati-sampajañ-ñāya saṃvattati?
(to) mindfulness-(and)-clear-comprehension (it) leads?
Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno
Here, monks, a-monk:
viditā vedanā uppajjanti,
known (are) feelings (as they) arise,
viditā upaṭṭhahanti,
known (as they are) attended-upon,
viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti.
known (as they) go to} disappear.
viditā saññā uppajjanti,
known (are) perceptions (as they) arise,
viditā upaṭṭhahanti,
known (as they are) attended-upon,
viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti.
known (as they) go to} disappear.
viditā vitakkā uppajjanti,
known (are) thoughts (as they) arise,
viditā upaṭṭhahanti,
known (as they are) attended-upon,
viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti.
known (as they) go to} disappear.
Ayaṃ, bhikkhave, samādhi-bhāvanā bhāvitā bahulīkatā
This, *********, concentration-development, when developed (and) pursued,
Sati-sampajañ-ñāya saṃvattati.
mindfulness-(and)-clear-comprehension (it) leads-to.

As with MN 18, you see the same hierarchy, from more raw sensory data to the more complex versions with added stuff. Each level of the hierarchy is a higher level of abstraction.

MN 78 samaṇa-muṇḍika (the contemplative named mundika)

Again, MN 78,  like MN 19, MN 20, MN 125, intimately and in detail explaining what's going inside the four jhānas, follows the same hierarchy feeling -> perceptions -> thinking (vitakka and sankappa)

Ime ca, thapati, kusalā saṅkappā kiṃsamuṭṭhānā? Samuṭṭhānampi nesaṃ vuttaṃ. ‘Saññāsamuṭṭhānā’tissa vacanīyaṃ. Katamā saññā? Saññāpi hi bahū anekavidhā nānappakārakā. Nekkhammasaññā, abyāpādasaññā, avihiṃsāsaññā—itosamuṭṭhānā kusalā saṅkappā.
And where do these skillful thoughts stem from? Where they stem from has been stated. You should say that they stem from perception. What perception? Perception takes many and diverse forms. Perceptions of renunciation, love, and kindness—skillful thoughts stem from this.

SN 40 Moggallāna Saṃyutta

These suttas deal with the impurities that arise when one is learning the jhanas.
Guess what form they arise in? 
You got it, perceptions.
For the first jhana, the impurities that interrupt and break one out of first jhana, come in the form of perceptions of sensuality. 

For the second jhana,
So khvāhaṃ, āvuso, vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharāmi.
And so … I was entering and remaining in the second jhāna.
Tassa mayhaṃ, āvuso, iminā vihārena viharato vitakkasahagatā saññāmanasikārā samudācaranti.
While I was in that meditation, perceptions and attentions accompanied by directing-thought beset me.

Having thought (vitakka) would interrupt and break you out of second jhana, but the underlying perceptions, the non-verbal perceptions bubbling underneath the thought, can still happen and not break you out of second jhana, and even the higher jhanas.

Besides SN 40, there are a few other suttas dealing with impure jhanas with the same idea, and again, perceptions are lower on the hierarchy than thought (vitakka).


There is no basis, no evidence in the EBT, for Ajahn Brahm, B. Sujato, B. Analayo claiming that there's a special kind of  V&V just for first jhana.

V&V is the same before, during, and after first jhana.
thinking & evaluation.

They're wrong and they know it. That's why they avoid talking about the EBT suttas I've audited above that provide incontrovertible evidence against their false claims, and they can't provide any evidence in support of it.

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