AN 8.30 how 8 thoughts of Dhamma link to four jhanas directly

link to AN 8.30 full sutta pali + eng

If you carefully examine the content of those 8 thoughts, and then see how seemlessly that transitions into 4 jhanas, how could those 8 vitakka not be the same vitakka in first jhana?

Also notice the eighth thought’s dhammo nip-papañca-ratino,
to this MN 18’s passage
Where does V&V sit in relation to papanca? Is it closer to placing the mind on perceptions, or closer to thinking and proliferation?


Now compare the above (derived from Ven. Thanissaro) to B. Sujato’s version:

4.1First you’ll reflect (vitakkessasi) on these eight thoughts (vitakka) of a great man. Then whenever you want, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, you’ll enter and remain in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, (vitakka & vicara) while placing the mind and keeping it connected.

This is not stylistic preference in translation style, that just doesn’t work. Vitakka needs to carry meaning all the way through that paragraph.

Think about what the Buddha’s follower, hearing that paragraph in Pali, is thinking. It’s another 1000 years before Buddhaghosa is born and popularizes the VRJ jhana with its redefined V&V (vitakka & vicara). Buddhaghosa isn’t there to tell the pali listener, that vitakka has a special meaning just for first jhana.

If the Buddha really had intended for V&V to mean “placing the mind & keeping it connected” for first jhana, he would have to use pali words for the pali listener to convey that meaning. For example, manasi-karoti (attention) to sañña (perceptions) or samādhi-nimitta.

Or else B. Sujato would need to show where exactly in the EBT the Buddha gives V&V that special definition for first jhana. AFAIK that doesn’t exist in the EBT. Otherwise Buddhaghosa would not need to redefine V&V for first jhana in the Vism. and override the authority of the EBT.

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I’m no sutta scholar, but from a practice perspective this does resonate with me. This ‘pleasure’ of being free… much like


Wonderful sutta.


Most of the other sutta passages similar to this, where Dhamma-vitakka, thoughts related to Dhamma teachings, directly lead to samadhi, show the 7sb (awakening factors) or what I call the 7sb+ (just slightly modified form of 7sb without the ‘bojjhanga’ suffix explicit) as the transition.

This sutta really exemplifies so many things that differentiates EBT 4 jhanas from other jhana samadhi systems. You can see how those kind of thoughts don’t lead to more (unproductive) thoughts or proliferation/objectification. They are kindle for the EBT jhana fire, intended to stoke and get the a-vitakka-a-vicara samadhi going, generate a great deal of pamojja and pīti (mental rapture).

Whereas the Vism. model of samadhi/jhana makes jhana into a pure samatha kung fu devoid of vipassana capability.

If you want to know if your first jhana is genuine, this sutta to me acts like a great litmus test, or a Turing test of sorts. Does your first jhana generate a kind of happiness during, after the meditation that has the flavor of seclusion, satisfaction, contentment with the Dhamma (teachings that lead to the end of suffering), such that you would readily choose it without question over pleasures based on 5 cords of sense pleasure? (food, sex, gambling, etc)?

If you choose to practice what you consider fist jhana over food or sex, that’s a strong indicator to me it’s a genuine first jhana. There are plenty of people who are great at samatha kung fu, body disappears, can’t feel their body or hear sounds in their arupa samadhi, but they are no less tempted by good food or sex outside of their meditation despite all of their samatha kung fu prowess. It’s missing the key distinction of the Buddha’s jhana, and that’s what “vivicceva kamehi” (seclusion from sensual pleasure desire) means in first jhana, not the 5 senses being shut off from the mind.


“If that is so, Uttara, then a blind man and a deaf man will have developed faculties, according to what the brahmin Pārāsariya says. For a blind man does not see forms with the eye, and a deaf man does not hear sounds with the ear.”

MN 152 (supreme development of the faculties)


I can really relate to this as each type of state has a particular flavour. note I came to practice first without the theory/instructions… and as such never looked to define the state, but to focus on the outcomes or results of each state.
Now one is not better than the other, but rather they are complimentary and different. Quite frankly, I really struggle with the words to describe the differences… they are subtle and outside of our normal language.

With language, even if we are describing mundane experiences of perception say colour or sound or taste, we only communicate approximately through conventions of language. I can never know if you really see ‘blue’ like I see blue. Or if you hear all the spectrum of certain notes on certain instruments as I do. Sometimes I hear ‘music’ in the movement of air… yet I have nothing but the most approximate ways of communicating this.

The point of my comment here is to highlight that we can never do better than to be ‘approximate’ in our descriptions. I find that being at ease with this makes everything easier… no point to be striving for a non-existent absolute truth in samsara - but to move beyond the duality or a binary conception of existence.



I asked the same questin in DW:
The best reply:

Explanation of what papanca means is already there in Ven. Thanissaro’s Intro. to MN 18 link that you provided. Vitakka/Vicara meanings were also addressed in your previous thread here. The most obvious difference is that papanca always carry a negative connotation while Vitakka/Vicara can be either positive (in the context of being part of the 1st jhana factors) or not, in regular normal perception processes. Other differences were also provided by folks on buddhism.stackexchange and suttacentral forums where you posted the same question.

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V&V should be modified from normal day to day thinking, while in the first jhana.