Ekagga vs Ekodibhāva

Ekaggata is said to be present in first jhana while the expression “ekodibhava” appears only in the second jhana formula, hence some say they are not the same thing.

Some say they mean the same and that they are both present in the first jhana, or that none is present in the first jhana, only the second.

So, do you think they mean the same thing or not, and what are the implications on how we should understand the jhanas?


could you provide the sutta-context and occurrences of ekodhibhava? context and frequency help a lot in assessing the meaning…

Yes, sorry, I didn’t think it was unclear. By the way, I also made a mistake as it is “ekodibhava”. So, here is the context:

vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.

With the stilling of directed thought and evaluation he enters and remains in the second jhāna, which has internal serene-clarity and unification of mind free from thought and evaluation, and has joy and pleasure born of composure.

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After reviewing some suttas I’d carefully say that the two are synonymous. While ekaggata rarely appears in a specific 2nd-jhana-context I think it’s safe to say that it belongs to the samadhi group. Within the jhanas ekodhibhava specifically appears in the 2nd jhana, not the first, since it is based on the end of vitakka-vicara. ekaggata is often not so specific and just refers to samadhi. So they are not perfect synonyms but close enough, I would say, to assume a major overlap.

Btw the suttas that place a unification of mind in the first jhana are a clear minority voice and conflict with a contrary majority plus they create the riddle of how there should be a unification with so much movement in the mind.

If they are synonymous, then how do you reconcile this with the following?

AN 5.151: one should be ekaggacitta while listening to a Dhamma talk

suṇanto saddhammaṃ … avikkhittacitto dhammaṃ suṇāti ekaggacitto yoniso ca manasi karoti.
while listening to the good Dhamma … one listens to the Dhamma with an undistracted and one-pointed mind; one attends to it appropriately.

AN 4.12: one should have cittaṃ ekaggaṃ while walking:

“carato cepi … samāhitaṃ cittaṃ ekaggaṃ, carampi, bhikkhave, bhikkhu … samitaṃ āraddhavīriyo pahitatto’ti vuccati
if while walking … his mind is concentrated and one-pointed, then that bhikkhu is said to be … continuously energetic and resolute while walking.

There you have it, they are not perfectly synonymous after all :slight_smile:
udibhava is also a more specific expression, while gacchati (to go) is more widely applicable and hence more vague. So I guess ‘concentrated’ would catch the meaning better in the cases you mentioned.

Source please?

Is it really necessary? It’s all over the Vsm and in MN 111.

“idha, bhikkhave, sāriputto vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. ye ca paṭhame jhāne dhammā vitakko ca vicāro ca pīti ca sukhañca cittekaggatā ca, phasso vedanā saññā cetanā cittaṃ chando adhimokkho vīriyaṃ sati upekkhā manasikāro — tyāssa dhammā anupadavavatthitā honti.

Oh, absolutely! The Viss represents the views of theravada masters anywhere between 2nd century BCE and the 5th centrury CE. It is pretty useless for an ebt-analysis. When we are left with the suttas as sources the arguments for ekaggata in the 1st jhana become pretty thin. Please keep in mind that even if you find 5 instances there are 100s of the classic fomula where it appears in the 2nd jhana only.

Well I said:

I did not refer to EBTs, but to the opinion of a large part of fellow Theravadins, including many on this forum. I would like to keep everyone in the loop, therefore I think it is appropriate to take their opinion into consideration. :slight_smile:

Hm, this just makes the question if the two terms mean the same infinitely more difficult.
Does a term used in the ebt mean the same as another term used by a 15th century meditation master? Who can tell?

The historical layers in terms are very complex. We can do some research in similar historical strata, but the further they are separated by time and culture the less value any conclusion would have. That’s how I feel at least and hence try to see ebt, commentaries and contemporary practices separately.

In that case you can still discuss the difference between these terms within the EBTs. The question remains entirely the same.

Which I did in the first post :slight_smile: My impression is that they are more or less synonymous in the ebt, but that ekodibhava is specifically to be found in the second jhana, while ekaggata appears more vaguely in the context of samadhi - with some exceptions that you also mentioned that the latter sometimes even more vaguely means concentration/focus/attention

don’t know if it’s been mentioned already, Ven. Sujato recently wrote an essay that examined ekodi-bhava i think.

as for ekaggata appearing in first jhana EBT, leigh breisington’s site, he did a tipitaka search and wrote up an article about it. from what i remember, it only appeared in MN 111, and maybe one other passage, and both were sariputta saying it, not the buddha. sariputta happens to be the patron saint of abhidhamma, so it’s pretty suspicious. i’m inclined to agree with the conclusions leigh draws in that article, which is that vitakka and vicara take the place of the role of ekagatta in first jhana, and that’s why the pitisukha of first jhana is vivekam, born of seclusion, rather than the high quality “samadhijam pitisukham” of second jhana.

It seems Brasington considers ekaggata and ekodi to be synonymous. I am not so sure. Ekaggata in the suttas has a rather broad and non specific meaning. See the quotes I mentioned earlier.
Ekaggata could mean restrained to a particular set of phenomena while ekodi could mean unified, pretty much in the sense that the Vsm understands ekaggata.

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yes, it can be found here

We see different root meanings for ekodi, he favors ‘weaving’ while I read ‘arising’. I couldn’t find a passage that would specify the root meaning, so I guess both are possible…

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Just a bit of trivia. I’ve not finished checking all the parallels but in the SA , it appears that 一心 is used for both cittekaggatta (including the concrete noun forms) and ekodibhava.


It looks like we have hints for both interpretations, that they mean (sometimes?) the same and (sometimes?) something different.

On one hand, we have quotes hinting that they mean something different (AN 5.151 vs DN 19):

AN 5.151: one should be ekaggacitta while listening to a Dhamma talk (so not alone):

suṇanto saddhammaṃ … avikkhittacitto dhammaṃ suṇāti ekaggacitto yoniso ca manasi karoti.
while listening to the good Dhamma … one listens to the Dhamma with an
undistracted and one-pointed mind; one attends to it appropriately.

DN 19 suggests something like singleness (being alone) for ekodi:

‘ekodibhūto’ti ahaṃ bhoto ājānāmi. idhekacco vivittaṃ senāsanaṃ
bhajati araññaṃ rukkhamūlaṃ pabbataṃ kandaraṃ giriguhaṃ susānaṃ
vanapatthaṃ abbhokāsaṃ palālapuñjaṃ, iti ekodibhūto’ti ahaṃ bhoto
I understand “Alone, intent”. That means that one goes off on one’s
own and chooses a lodging in the forest, at the foot of a tree, in a
mountain glen, in a rocky cave, a charnel-ground, in the jungle or on a
heap of grass in the open. This is how I understand “Alone, intent”.

But at the same time, ekodibhava, ekaggata and samadhi also seem to be sometimes equivalent:

We often have the sentence “labhati samadhi, labhati citassekaggata” so it seems that samadhi = citassekaggata

But then there is AN 3.101 and the like:

So hoti samādhi na ceva santo na ca paṇīto nap­pa­ṭippas­sad­dha­laddho na eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato. Hoti so, bhikkhave, samayo yaṃ taṃ cittaṃ ajjhattaṃyeva santiṭṭhati sannisīdati ekodi hoti samādhiyati. So hoti samādhi santo paṇīto paṭippas­sad­dhi­laddho eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato.

So samadhi can be qualified by ekodi or not, suggesting two layers of samadhi, one relatively superficial, the other more serious. Either citassekaggata refers only to ekodibhāvā­dhi­gato samādhi (and then ekagga=ekodi) or it may refer to various states that can be with or without “ekodi” (and then they are different).

And then we have the Chinese parallels that weigh in on the side of equivalence in meaning.

Quite a mixed bag here.

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In the big picture, mere ekodi appears pretty much only in the stock phrase towards samādhi:

ajjhattameva cittaṃ santiṭṭhati sannisīdati ekodi hoti samādhiyati (~20 instances)

or in the 1st-person:

ajjhattameva cittaṃ saṇṭhapemi sannisādemi ekodiṃ karomi samādahāmi (~10 instances)

And it’s only in the dutiya jhāna formula (~60 instances) and in the context of sasaṅkhāraniggayhavāritagato (~5 instances) that we see ekodibhāva. I would take ekodibhūto as distinct in the same way that bhava and bhāva are distinct, eg being vs developing, and also take cittassekaggata off the table by lumping it into the process towards jhāna or its refinement.

Now interestingly, I was skimming through the Vibhaṅga Vagga (131-142) of the Majjhima and encountered a bit in MN 138 that corresponds quite well with this idea though not without its own issues.

Kathañcāvuso, ajjhattaṃ saṇṭhitanti vuccati?

Idhāvuso, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.

Tassa viveka­ja­pīti­su­khā­nu­sāri viññāṇaṃ hoti viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­gadhi­taṃ viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­vini­bandhaṃ viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­saṃ­yoja­na­saṃ­yuttaṃ ajjhattaṃ cittaṃ saṇṭhitanti vuccati.

Kathañcāvuso, ajjhattaṃ asaṇṭhitanti vuccati?

Idhāvuso, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi … pe … paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.

Tassa na viveka­ja­pīti­su­khā­nu­sāri viññāṇaṃ hoti na viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­gadhi­taṃ na viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­vini­bandhaṃ na viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­saṃ­yoja­na­saṃ­yuttaṃ ajjhattaṃ cittaṃ asaṇṭhitanti vuccati.

Namely, the variation is with regards to “cittaṃ/viññāṇaṃ saṇṭhitati” rather than ekodibhāva or ekaggata with asaṇṭhitati being the more desirable one, though I’d note that it’s not entirely clear whether saṇṭhitati here is the same as santiṭṭhati in the stock phrase above. And what’s more is that the Pali source(s) have abbreviated the jhāna formulae in both, implying that in both cases, ekodibhāva is present in the second jhāna and not quite harmonizing all the way with the sasaṅkhāraniggayhavāritagato samādhi and its complement.

One way we might reconcile this is to take the adhigato part of the compound eko­dibhā­vā­dhi­gato as meaning that some already existing ekodibhāva is made to increase in some manner. This way, saṇṭhitati (and santiṭṭhati) are both referring to some compositional action whereas asaṇṭhitati is when there no longer is some kind of volitional exertion (na sasaṅ­khā­ra­nig­gay­ha­vārita­gato) towards composition.

But wait…that doesn’t work…


If we can accept that vitakka-vicara-piti-sukha transforms, parallel(ly) mindfulness transform as well as ekaggata follows in transformation, thus ekaggata shifting its shadow in vitakka-vicara to sato-satta.
Satta as clinging or attach, hanging (and i prefer stay instead of hanging), but here i find attentive would cover the scope of hanging and attach.
An observation on this sentense:
“Ittheke sato sattassa paramadiṭṭhadhammanibbānaṃ paññapenti”
that i’m would believed, as a definition of ekaggata’s present, lays as a shadow in ‘ittheke sato satta’ as in one 'gently mindful, attentive to’; by taking the feminism characteristic of woman (itthi) as in gentle.
In other word, the functionality of ekaggata may very well covered in the summary at the end of each Rupa Jhana passage, though it has been treated mostly as declaration.

“One gently mindful, he attend to and understood (the path of) the supreme dhamma leading to nibbāna; in summary.”