Re: savitakka, savicaara - AN2.2 Adhikara.na Vagga (3)
- Dear Nina and Lennart,
thank you for the interesting discussion. I think for every Buddhist meditator, there are many non-Buddhist meditators, and non-meditating Buddhists and non-Buddhists who are also interested to learn about the Buddha's teachings. And we should welcome any genuine open discussions.
Please correct me if I am wrong. My understanding is that with jhana, it is already possible for some to develop some sort of miraculous powers. However, even so, it is still far away from enlightenment. My previous study shows that all schools of Buddhism place great emphasis on samadhi, but each in its own way. However, the emphasis on jhana is less consistent.
--- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, Nina van Gorkom wrote:
> I really hope I do not offend anyone on this list here, but I am very glad to talk about this with Nina, my favorite Abhidhamma expert!
N: Vitakka and vicaara seem rather close, although there is a difference. Hard to know their different characteristics when they actually occur. But it is necessary to know this precisely if one develops jhaana and will abandon them one at a time in order to reach a higher stage. These different jhaanafactors are mentioned in the suttas, and also the fact that they are abandoned, but the Visuddhimagga gives a more detailed explanation. I just touched on a few points, trying to give a further explanation. But I am well aware that we have different vitakkas because of different ways of thinking, due to different accumulated inclinations and background.
- Hi Nina,
>Obviously, meaning of dhamma here as a mental object (as in object of
> > L: I know that soon after the parinibbana many more "ultimate dhammas"
> > where established (i.e. in the various Abhidhamma schools) and even
> > things like "gender" or "vitakka" where included as "ultimate
> > realities" when ultimately (LOL) they are not.
> N: It may be of interest to look at the Anupadasutta (M. 111) where
> Saariputta said: <Ye ca pathamajjhaane dhammaa: vitakko ca vicaaro
> ca piiti ca sukha~nca cittekaggataa ca....>
Not "ultimate reality" as established in later Abhidhamma evolution of the
term but simply saying: "These are the mental objects / things / you can
find when in the first jhana. Context makes this pretty clear, but I guess
it depends again whether you establish meaning of pali terminology from
within the suttas first (context only) and then look at how their meaning
evolved throughout Buddhist history or whether you start with the
interpretation given in commentarial strata first and project their
interpretation on the older sutta texts.
>Okay, hope to understand you correctly: You say that "vitakka" is a
> Vitakka and vicaara are dhammas, and as I understand not just
> conventional terms.
fundamental reality besides the 5 groups of grasping????? To me, vitakka is
just like any other mental stuff, an object - or better even a series of
objects - of the mind. My core Abhidhammapitaka is actually pretty short:
rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinyana
:-) (lots of "abhi" for me already in this short list of "dhammas")
Vitakka and vicara are, as ANY other mental object just mental objects.
Thus they are simply the object of manovinyana.
Thus they are just the rupa of the 5 khandhas or the rupa in nama-rupa.
(rupa here in the meaning of "object" not sight-object which is of course
used in that sense when describing the six senses)..depending on which of
the early classification schemata of the Buddha you would use to describe
"experienced reality" on a fundamental level.
One could take ANY given moment of experience apart and classify it
accordingly as rupa, vedana...vinyana OR alternatively break it into the six
senses. These "lists" are already concepts which hope to further
understanding of reality, why add even more layers of concepts on top? On
the other hand, if it facilitates understanding, probably okay I guess.
But, in reality :-) even the concept of the five groups is just another
"concept" (right, even this moment is just another nama-rupa + vinyana play)
and so it serves us only any good if used for meditation, which in vipassana
allows us to see and know and let go - on this fundamental level, though,
helping us like a snake to shed the sticky skin. If we were to add more skin
while we try to let go of the old skin, it would seem we move actually in
the opposite direction...remembering correctly the Buddha mentioned that
nippapanca is the foremost of the qualities with which to identify the
*Tena hi tvaṃ, anuruddha, imampi aṭṭhamaṃ mahāpurisavitakkaṃ vitakkehi
dhammo nippapañcaratino, nāyaṃ dhammo papañcārāmassa papañcaratino’’’ti. (By
the way, gives us a nice example of the conventional usage of vitakka - if
you go for contextual semantics). AN VIII*
The more categories we start to introduce (i.e. emotions, ideas, theories)
the less fundamental our laser-sharp view at this present moment would
be...we would be assailed by papañca-saññā-sankhā :-) and the laser gets
shifted sideways by "tanha-mana-ditthi" (in that order of complexity).
Vitakko kho devanam inda *papanca*-*sanna*-*sankha*-- nidano ...wow, even
this passage shows vitakka just as a conventional thought :-) The thought as
the origin of concepts coming back to haunt you.
That is why IMHO when I look at references of vitakka, vicara I see Buddha
talk (in most cases) about jhana meditation. Simply in "lay mens terms" That
is not talk on the fundamental level of anicca, dukkha, anatta - which have
to be seen on the rising and falling of nama-rupa + vinyana == six sense. So
basically one level below the "concept" of a "vitakka".
When someone would try to teach us jhana meditation, would not he talk about
things (!sic) like "you have to concentrate on a mental picture of light",
"you have to use a mental label like 'light, light' to keep your
concentration focused on it", "after a while you will feel elated" etc etc.?
Here you have someone mentioning jhana-factors.
Being a Buddhist meditation teacher would not that person THEN tell us to
"now whatever you experience with your concentrated mind, whether it is a
sight, a sound, a taste...a mental object or a mental knowing or mental
feeling - see it as it arises and passes away" ... at this point, the
"vitakka" which before was part of the instruction to attain a state of
concentration using "conventional language" becomes LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE an
object to let go off. Now the moment of experiencing a thought it is *made
a dhamma, a feeling, a knowing-of-the dhamma
Here, at this point, yes, vitakka is just a dhamma. But so is ANYTHING
mental or physical. Why would that "vitakka" now suddenly be an "ultimate
reality". Is there really any sense in adding any other term to the list of
- form, feeling, perception, intention, consciousness?
Could we really get more "ultimate" than that? Sorry, I cannot see vitakka
as a term indicating ultimate reality, to me when I experience a thought (=
vitakka) in that moment it is a combination of these 5 groups of grasping
happening. And when the Buddha talks about "any mental object" he always
used the term "dhamma" instead to imply that "ultimate level". So to me it
appears that usage of "vitakka" as intended in the suttas(!) is purely
conventional... to denote a certain kind of experience (like billion other
words in our language). That might not fit very well with the Abhidhamma
categories, but that would not be the first time they speak a different
language than the suttas.
Very often with these kinds of discussions we probably mean the same thing
anyway and using our own concepts (plus ditthis) we disagree on
words/concepts intending actually the same. :-)
> As to gender, bhavaruupa, I do not find it difficult to understandLet me put it this way: If all you ever are, is just a series of the 5
> that this is one of the ruupas produced by kamma at the first moment
> of our life and then throughout life.
groups of grasping, and they come and disappear from moment to moment, where
can your "gender" be, if not a concept applied or derived from a certain
experience which is shaped by the coming and going of these 5 groups. So
maybe we should rather say "gender" is a concept and thus nothing more than
an empty mental object, a thought or even better: a series of thoughts,
which, in their compactness, create the concept and illusion of "there is
gender" just like "there is an I and it is female/male"...or "I belief
gender is not an ultimate reality". LOL, that thought itself was now a loop
in reality :-)
mettāya & thanks for the opportunity to learn,
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