Sunday, February 24, 2019

MN 19, MN 78, MN 125 ❤️ When Bhikkhu Anālayo met 🔪 Occam's razor

We'll look at MN 125 first 

because it clears up any doubt and removes any wiggle room for equivocators and prevaricators from distorting what (V&V💭) vitakka & vicāra means in first jhāna.
Before first jhana, during first jhana, after first jhana:
(V&V💭)  = directed-thought & evaluation

(you can jump to the specific section of MN 125 you want with the table of contents hyperlinks below)

MN 125 Danta-bhūmi (Tamed-level)

By completely eliminating the standard first jhana formula from the sutta entirely, this gives no wiggle room, no opportunity for people with a wrong interpretation of V&V to try to weasel their way in with a different type of V&V that only works for first jhana.

MN 78 reinforces the same idea as MN 125

MN 78 samaṇa-muṇḍika (the contemplative named mundika)

B.Sujato translates sankappa as "thought".  In most cases, that's fine, but there are some situations where vitakka is not exactly equivalent with sankappa. That's a topic for another day.

B.Thanissaro uses "resolve" which works better.

But the important thing is, for the context we're interested in at the moment, what vitakka is before, during, and after first jhana, vitakka and sankappa are identical (see also MN 19 and MN 117).

So for MN 78, if kusala sankappa don't cease until 2nd jhana, that means
(skillful) kusala sankappa are still live and active in first jhana.
Thoughts (vitakka, sankappa) of  renunciation, good will,  non-harming (the 3 aspects of right intention/samma sankappa) are live and active in first jhana.  For second jhana, thoughts don't just vanish completely, it's more accurate to say they become more refined and subtle. They are no longer 'thoughts', but perceptions (sañña) of renunciation, good will,  non-harming. MN 78 explicitly make that connection, that a diversity of perceptions (sañña) are what thoughts are based on.

In other words, the  V&V💭 vitakka & vicāra of first jhana become 
the more subtle perceptions that  S&S💭 sati & sam-pajāno work with in the remaining 4 jhanas. 

With a clear understanding of the straightforward MN 125 and MN 78, now when you review MN 19 you can see that it doesn't matter if the standard first jhana formula is there or not (for this sutta MN 19). Because it already explicitly describes the type of V&V that operates in first jhana, in addition to the other things that must happen for the samadhi to be of first jhana quality.

MN 19 dve-dhā-vitakka-suttaṃ

The key factor between 'attempting 4 jhanas' and 'success and entering 4 jhanas' is pacification (passaddhi).  The vitakka never changes in meaning before, during, and after first jhana.

In fact the Chinese parallel to this sutta makes this even more clear by completely removing the first jhana formula from the sutta, just as MN 125 did.

MA 102 || MN 19 omits first jhana like MN 125
From Ven. Analayo’s footnotes in MA studies.
40 [49] A complementary case occurs in MN 19 at MN I 117,6 and its parallel MĀ
102 at T I 589c10, where the Chinese version omits the first absorption and
proceeds directly from overcoming wholesome thoughts to the second absorp
tion, whereas the Pāli version does take the first absorption into account.

So if you actually look at what the suttas say instead of biased propaganda from Theravadans, it's very straightforward what V&V means. It means exactly what it says, in simple plain language.

❤️ When Bhikkhu Anālayo met 🔪 Occam's razor is no Valentine's love story.
So what's Bhikkhu Anālayo's strategy in dealing with incontrovertible, straightforward plain speaking evidence?

Tune in to the next installment, where we go into Bhikkhu Anālayo's kitchen to see what he cooked up. We'll examine his specially selected, freshly picked cherries, red herrings, wriggly slippery eels, and bitter melon. I'm getting hungry* just thinking (vitakka) about it.

* no animals were harmed in the making of that cooking simile.
🔗fallacy & cognitive bias

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