Determination (adhiṭṭhāna)

Continuing the discussion from Attraction…What Could This Be?:

Dear Ajahn

Thanks once more for this clarification! I see from your comments (and also Robert’s) that this particular myth was referring to the types of ‘magical’ thinking that one sometimes comes across. I’m grateful for the time taken to answer this. Many thanks Bhante.

If I may just ask a follow up question? It is regarding adittana…not sure if I’ve spelled that right. (I’ve referred to this in my original post/question.) I believe it is translated as ‘determination’. Is this a correct translation? 'Cos I’ve never really been able to get my head 'round this concept. Is it like ‘canda’ in the iddipadas? Sort of setting yourself upon a course of action?

In the past, it’s been put to me in a way in which it comes off as sounding rather like some incredible, almost magical, force! For instance, I vaguely remember being told this story of someone wandering around the city of Perth and he made a determination to get a sandwich or something like that…and through no great agency of his own (or so it seemed!) he was given a sandwich!!!

I imagine this kind of thing works better with a more meditation enriched, malleable sort of mind…nevertheless, I’d be most grateful to get a better sense of what this means on a more conceptual level.

With gratitude and metta.

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Dear Kay,

Yes, adhiṭṭhāna is usually translated a determination. The suttas do not really say much about this, and it really only becomes prominent in later Buddhism, particularly in connection with the Bodhisatta path. This path, according to the Pali commentaries, has ten factors, one of which is determination. My understanding is that this refers to one’s mental ability to keep going, for instance determining never to break any precepts, etc. The example you refer to is not what the Buddhist idea is about.

With metta.


Thank you very much!