AN 5.176 seclusion, rapture, implied V&V of first jhana

This is almost 100% B. Sujato translation here, I just added some lines he elided.

viveka (seclusion) of first jhana, according to B. Sujato ‘viveka’ here means secluded from sensual pleasures, not the mind divorced from 5 sense faculties, such that one could not hear sounds, or feel the sting of mosquito bites.

The discourse is addressed to Anathapindika and other lay supporters known for generously providing requisites for the monks and sangha. They are being exhorted to enter and dwell in the pīti of seclusion from sensual pleasures from time to time. You would not expect lay people with busy lay lives to enter a formless samadhi where the mind is divorced from the body, as a first jhana.

While first and second jhana (they contain pīti) are not explicitly stated in this sutta, the Theravada commentary states that is what Sariputta is referring to, and there is no reason to doubt the commentary here.

So if first jhāna’s pīti is derived (in this sutta) from householders getting a strong emotional uplift reflecting on their generosity to sangha, what do you think V&V (vitakka & vicara) means for their first jhana?

Which is more likely:

  1. thinking and pondering their generosity and it’s rewards, leading to rapture, bodily pacification, sukha, samadhi
  2. “placing their minds and keeping it connected” (to what exactly?)

(V&V, jhana, not explicitly mentioned in this sutta)

Not sure he agrees. The text of his translation doesn’t directly support this conclusion, in my opinion.

It seems to me this is the main point we can make, and the subsequent question is completely legitimate.

There are so many hints that the mainstream V&V interpretation is wrong, but people in general have a hard time changing their mind, even when examples given are multiplied by advocates of the “unorthodox” point of view. The person is labeled a conspiracy theorist and/or a lunatic whose opinions aren’t worth reading.

Maybe someone should write yet another book or web page with more extensive analysis? Let’s keep collecting examples.

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According to AN 5.176, his translation mentions 5 things qualifying the viveka, and it doesn’t include the body disappearing and not being able to hear sounds. In the first jhana formula, B. Sujato may interpret viveka differently, but this just goes to show again the duck connundrum. Then you have all of these things, samadhi while walking, piti that is from first jhana and second jhana, but not actually jhana, levitating but not actually being in 4th jhana. How likely is it that the Buddha has hundreds of categories of sub duck species: access duck, neighborhood duck, momentary duck, walking duck, sitting duck, enraptured duck like he’s in jhana but he’s not actually in jhana, enraptured duck that is walking, but not in jhana, etc?

Or maybe the Buddha was a pragmatist and simply called all that “jhana”?
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, quietly abides in noble silence like a 2nd jhana duck, it’s a duck! :duck:

It’s got feathers, so it must be a duck!