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Re: vitakka and vicára

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  • Jeffrey S. Brooks
    Hello Ivan, and thank-you for your very interesting contribution to this dialog. It seems that firm-grip and sustained-grip might indicate concentration. I
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 3, 2004
      Hello Ivan, and thank-you for your very interesting contribution to
      this dialog. It seems that firm-grip and sustained-grip might
      indicate concentration. I do not know what else it would.

      Best regards,

      Jeff Brooks

      --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "societe_bouddhiste_gotama"
      <societe_bouddhiste_gotama@y...> wrote:
      > In the recent French translation of the Visuddhimagga (which, in
      > fact, is the best one, surpassing a lot the English translation of
      > Nanamoli), Christian Maës transaltes vittakka and vicaara as "prise-
      > ferme" (firm-grip) and "application-soutenue" (sustained-
      > application) and thus does not make any reference to the thinking-
      > process.
      >
      > Hope this helps,
      > with metta,
      > Ivan
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, macdocaz1@a... wrote:
      > > A critic of the translation of the Pali terms 'vitakka'
      > and 'vicára'
      > >
      > > I have been studying the Pali canon in English translation as a
      > means of
      > > providing canonical support for my subjective contemplative
      > experiences. Through
      > > this study I have come across a few key areas that seem like
      > errors in
      > > translation. The Pali terms 'vitakka' and 'vicára' are two of
      > those words that seem
      > > to be incorrectly translated. I have appended to this post a copy
      > of a
      > > definition for the Pali words 'vitakka' and 'vicára' from
      > NYANATILOKA's, Manual of
      > > Buddhist Terms and Doctrines.
      > >
      > > There you will find NYANATILOKA translates 'vitakka' and 'vicára'
      > as
      > > "thought-conception and discursive thinking', (or 'applied and
      > sustained thought')."
      > > I do not believe the historic Buddha was intending that one arrive
      > at jhana
      > > through an intellectual activity, but one of subjective
      > investigation through
      > > meditation, therefore not as a process of thinking and reasoning.
      > >
      > > I believe it must be an erroneous translation of the Pali words
      > > "vitakka-vicára" to say that through an intellectual pursuit, such
      > as "applied and
      > > sustained thought" the Buddha said one can arrive at jhana. On
      > the Jhana Support
      > > Group, we have found no evidence to support a belief
      > that "intellectual
      > > investigation," or "applied and sustained thought," or "thought-
      > conception and
      > > discursive thinking" will ever lead anywhere other than ignorance
      > delusion and doubt
      > > (dukkha).
      > >
      > > I believe vitakka and vicára, if they lead to jhana, must be
      > better
      > > translated as 'concentration' in which one "turns and returns
      > one's mind," or "applies
      > > and reapplies" one's attention to one's meditation object. It is
      > however
      > > possible that the Pali language might be inadequate to make the
      > distinction
      > > between concentration and discursive thinking.
      > >
      > > Thank-you very much for your time. If you care to discuss this
      > further,
      > > then please respond to me either here, or directly off-list, or on
      > the Jhana
      > > Support Group.
      > >
      > > Kindest regards,
      > >
      > > Jeff Brooks
      > >
      > > Jhana Support Group
      > > A support group for ecstatic contemplatives
      > > website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/
      > > Subscribe: Jhanas-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
      > >
      > > From the Buddhist Dictionary
      > > Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines,
      > > by NYANATILOKA
      > > http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/u_v/vitakka_vicaara.htm
      > >
      > > vitakka-vicára
      > >
      > > 'thought-conception and discursive thinking', (or 'applied and
      > sustained
      > > thought') are verbal functions (vací-sankhára: s. sankhára) of the
      > mind, the
      > > so-called 'inner speech ('parole interieure'). They are
      > constituents of the 1st
      > > absorption (s. jhána), but absent in the higher absorptions.
      > >
      > > (1) "Thought-conception (vitakka) is the laying hold of a thought,
      > giving it
      > > attention. Its characteristic consists in fixing the consciousness
      > to the
      > > object.
      > >
      > > (2) "Discursive thinking (vicára) is the roaming about and moving
      > to and fro
      > > of the mind.... It manifests itself as continued activity of mind"
      > (Vis.M. IV).
      > >
      > > (1) is compared with the striking against a bell, (2) with its
      > resounding;
      > > (1) with the seizing of a pot, (2) with wiping it. (Cf. Vis . IV.).
    • John Kelly
      Jeff, Thanks for raising such an interesting topic. These are indeed difficult words to translate accurately in English. Concerning their application in the
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 4, 2004
        Jeff,
        Thanks for raising such an interesting topic. These are indeed
        difficult words to translate accurately in English. Concerning
        their application in the jhanas, I think you're right on in
        interpreting them as applied and sustained concentration.

        I learned from Sister Dipankara (a Burmese bhikkhuni from the Pau
        Auk monastery) that vitakka means turning the mind strongly to the
        object of concentration, and vicara is the holding of one's
        attention firmly on that object. Knowing a little French as I do,
        it appears that the translations Ivan gave us capture this well too.

        metta,
        John
        --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey S. Brooks" <macdocaz1@a...>
        wrote:
        > Hello Ivan, and thank-you for your very interesting contribution to
        > this dialog. It seems that firm-grip and sustained-grip might
        > indicate concentration. I do not know what else it would.
        >
        > Best regards,
        >
        > Jeff Brooks
        >
        > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "societe_bouddhiste_gotama"
        > <societe_bouddhiste_gotama@y...> wrote:
        > > In the recent French translation of the Visuddhimagga (which, in
        > > fact, is the best one, surpassing a lot the English translation
        of
        > > Nanamoli), Christian Maës transaltes vittakka and vicaara
        as "prise-
        > > ferme" (firm-grip) and "application-soutenue" (sustained-
        > > application) and thus does not make any reference to the
        thinking-
        > > process.
        > >
        > > Hope this helps,
        > > with metta,
        > > Ivan
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, macdocaz1@a... wrote:
        > > > A critic of the translation of the Pali terms 'vitakka'
        > > and 'vicára'
        > > >
        > > > I have been studying the Pali canon in English translation as
        a
        > > means of
        > > > providing canonical support for my subjective contemplative
        > > experiences. Through
        > > > this study I have come across a few key areas that seem like
        > > errors in
        > > > translation. The Pali terms 'vitakka' and 'vicára' are two of
        > > those words that seem
        > > > to be incorrectly translated. I have appended to this post a
        copy
        > > of a
        > > > definition for the Pali words 'vitakka' and 'vicára' from
        > > NYANATILOKA's, Manual of
        > > > Buddhist Terms and Doctrines.
        > > >
        > > > There you will find NYANATILOKA translates 'vitakka'
        and 'vicára'
        > > as
        > > > "thought-conception and discursive thinking', (or 'applied and
        > > sustained thought')."
        > > > I do not believe the historic Buddha was intending that one
        arrive
        > > at jhana
        > > > through an intellectual activity, but one of subjective
        > > investigation through
        > > > meditation, therefore not as a process of thinking and
        reasoning.
        > > >
        > > > I believe it must be an erroneous translation of the Pali
        words
        > > > "vitakka-vicára" to say that through an intellectual pursuit,
        such
        > > as "applied and
        > > > sustained thought" the Buddha said one can arrive at jhana.
        On
        > > the Jhana Support
        > > > Group, we have found no evidence to support a belief
        > > that "intellectual
        > > > investigation," or "applied and sustained thought,"
        or "thought-
        > > conception and
        > > > discursive thinking" will ever lead anywhere other than
        ignorance
        > > delusion and doubt
        > > > (dukkha).
        > > >
        > > > I believe vitakka and vicára, if they lead to jhana, must be
        > > better
        > > > translated as 'concentration' in which one "turns and returns
        > > one's mind," or "applies
        > > > and reapplies" one's attention to one's meditation object. It
        is
        > > however
        > > > possible that the Pali language might be inadequate to make
        the
        > > distinction
        > > > between concentration and discursive thinking.
        > > >
        > > > Thank-you very much for your time. If you care to discuss
        this
        > > further,
        > > > then please respond to me either here, or directly off-list,
        or on
        > > the Jhana
        > > > Support Group.
        > > >
        > > > Kindest regards,
        > > >
        > > > Jeff Brooks
        > > >
        > > > Jhana Support Group
        > > > A support group for ecstatic contemplatives
        > > > website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/
        > > > Subscribe: Jhanas-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
        > > >
        > > > From the Buddhist Dictionary
        > > > Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines,
        > > > by NYANATILOKA
        > > > http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/u_v/vitakka_vicaara.htm
        > > >
        > > > vitakka-vicára
        > > >
        > > > 'thought-conception and discursive thinking', (or 'applied and
        > > sustained
        > > > thought') are verbal functions (vací-sankhára: s. sankhára) of
        the
        > > mind, the
        > > > so-called 'inner speech ('parole interieure'). They are
        > > constituents of the 1st
        > > > absorption (s. jhána), but absent in the higher absorptions.
        > > >
        > > > (1) "Thought-conception (vitakka) is the laying hold of a
        thought,
        > > giving it
        > > > attention. Its characteristic consists in fixing the
        consciousness
        > > to the
        > > > object.
        > > >
        > > > (2) "Discursive thinking (vicára) is the roaming about and
        moving
        > > to and fro
        > > > of the mind.... It manifests itself as continued activity of
        mind"
        > > (Vis.M. IV).
        > > >
        > > > (1) is compared with the striking against a bell, (2) with its
        > > resounding;
        > > > (1) with the seizing of a pot, (2) with wiping it. (Cf. Vis .
        IV.).
      • Jeffrey S. Brooks
        Thank-you John, for your kind support on this interesting, and somewhat troublesome translation. Kindest regards, Jeff Brooks
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 8, 2004
          Thank-you John, for your kind support on this interesting, and
          somewhat troublesome translation.

          Kindest regards,

          Jeff Brooks

          --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "John Kelly" <palistudent@y...> wrote:
          > Jeff,
          > Thanks for raising such an interesting topic. These are indeed
          > difficult words to translate accurately in English. Concerning
          > their application in the jhanas, I think you're right on in
          > interpreting them as applied and sustained concentration.
          >
          > I learned from Sister Dipankara (a Burmese bhikkhuni from the Pau
          > Auk monastery) that vitakka means turning the mind strongly to the
          > object of concentration, and vicara is the holding of one's
          > attention firmly on that object. Knowing a little French as I do,
          > it appears that the translations Ivan gave us capture this well too.
          >
          > metta,
          > John
          > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey S. Brooks" <macdocaz1@a...>
          > wrote:
          > > Hello Ivan, and thank-you for your very interesting contribution to
          > > this dialog. It seems that firm-grip and sustained-grip might
          > > indicate concentration. I do not know what else it would.
          > >
          > > Best regards,
          > >
          > > Jeff Brooks
          > >
          > > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "societe_bouddhiste_gotama"
          > > <societe_bouddhiste_gotama@y...> wrote:
          > > > In the recent French translation of the Visuddhimagga (which, in
          > > > fact, is the best one, surpassing a lot the English translation
          > of
          > > > Nanamoli), Christian Maës transaltes vittakka and vicaara
          > as "prise-
          > > > ferme" (firm-grip) and "application-soutenue" (sustained-
          > > > application) and thus does not make any reference to the
          > thinking-
          > > > process.
          > > >
          > > > Hope this helps,
          > > > with metta,
          > > > Ivan
          > > >
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, macdocaz1@a... wrote:
          > > > > A critic of the translation of the Pali terms 'vitakka'
          > > > and 'vicára'
          > > > >
          > > > > I have been studying the Pali canon in English translation as
          > a
          > > > means of
          > > > > providing canonical support for my subjective contemplative
          > > > experiences. Through
          > > > > this study I have come across a few key areas that seem like
          > > > errors in
          > > > > translation. The Pali terms 'vitakka' and 'vicára' are two of
          > > > those words that seem
          > > > > to be incorrectly translated. I have appended to this post a
          > copy
          > > > of a
          > > > > definition for the Pali words 'vitakka' and 'vicára' from
          > > > NYANATILOKA's, Manual of
          > > > > Buddhist Terms and Doctrines.
          > > > >
          > > > > There you will find NYANATILOKA translates 'vitakka'
          > and 'vicára'
          > > > as
          > > > > "thought-conception and discursive thinking', (or 'applied and
          > > > sustained thought')."
          > > > > I do not believe the historic Buddha was intending that one
          > arrive
          > > > at jhana
          > > > > through an intellectual activity, but one of subjective
          > > > investigation through
          > > > > meditation, therefore not as a process of thinking and
          > reasoning.
          > > > >
          > > > > I believe it must be an erroneous translation of the Pali
          > words
          > > > > "vitakka-vicára" to say that through an intellectual pursuit,
          > such
          > > > as "applied and
          > > > > sustained thought" the Buddha said one can arrive at jhana.
          > On
          > > > the Jhana Support
          > > > > Group, we have found no evidence to support a belief
          > > > that "intellectual
          > > > > investigation," or "applied and sustained thought,"
          > or "thought-
          > > > conception and
          > > > > discursive thinking" will ever lead anywhere other than
          > ignorance
          > > > delusion and doubt
          > > > > (dukkha).
          > > > >
          > > > > I believe vitakka and vicára, if they lead to jhana, must be
          > > > better
          > > > > translated as 'concentration' in which one "turns and returns
          > > > one's mind," or "applies
          > > > > and reapplies" one's attention to one's meditation object. It
          > is
          > > > however
          > > > > possible that the Pali language might be inadequate to make
          > the
          > > > distinction
          > > > > between concentration and discursive thinking.
          > > > >
          > > > > Thank-you very much for your time. If you care to discuss
          > this
          > > > further,
          > > > > then please respond to me either here, or directly off-list,
          > or on
          > > > the Jhana
          > > > > Support Group.
          > > > >
          > > > > Kindest regards,
          > > > >
          > > > > Jeff Brooks
          > > > >
          > > > > Jhana Support Group
          > > > > A support group for ecstatic contemplatives
          > > > > website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jhanas/
          > > > > Subscribe: Jhanas-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
          > > > >
          > > > > From the Buddhist Dictionary
          > > > > Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines,
          > > > > by NYANATILOKA
          > > > > http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/u_v/vitakka_vicaara.htm
          > > > >
          > > > > vitakka-vicára
          > > > >
          > > > > 'thought-conception and discursive thinking', (or 'applied and
          > > > sustained
          > > > > thought') are verbal functions (vací-sankhára: s. sankhára) of
          > the
          > > > mind, the
          > > > > so-called 'inner speech ('parole interieure'). They are
          > > > constituents of the 1st
          > > > > absorption (s. jhána), but absent in the higher absorptions.
          > > > >
          > > > > (1) "Thought-conception (vitakka) is the laying hold of a
          > thought,
          > > > giving it
          > > > > attention. Its characteristic consists in fixing the
          > consciousness
          > > > to the
          > > > > object.
          > > > >
          > > > > (2) "Discursive thinking (vicára) is the roaming about and
          > moving
          > > > to and fro
          > > > > of the mind.... It manifests itself as continued activity of
          > mind"
          > > > (Vis.M. IV).
          > > > >
          > > > > (1) is compared with the striking against a bell, (2) with its
          > > > resounding;
          > > > > (1) with the seizing of a pot, (2) with wiping it. (Cf. Vis .
          > IV.).
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