Ekagga vs Ekodibhāva

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.”

Compare MN 138 with its Chinese parallel. It appears that the Pali version got its negation with respect to saṇṭhita in the wrong sequence. The Chinese reads more logically.

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So if I’ve got this right, the uddesa in the Chinese @ MA 164 includes a negated version, whereas the Pali does not.

And just to try and match it up, from the brief statements:

(1) 心出外灑散, (2) 心不住內, (3) 不受而恐怖。
(1) 心不出外不灑散,(2) 心住內,(3) 不受不恐怖。
(1) Bahiddhā viññāṇe avikkhitte avisaṭe sati, (2) ajjhattaṃ asaṇṭhite, (3) anupādāya aparitassato

And from the expositions:

Kathañcāvuso, bahiddhā viññāṇaṃ vikkhittaṃ visaṭanti vuccati?
Kathañcāvuso, bahiddhā viññāṇaṃ avikkhittaṃ avisaṭanti vuccati?

Kathañcāvuso, ajjhattaṃ saṇṭhitanti vuccati?
Kathañcāvuso, ajjhattaṃ asaṇṭhitanti vuccati?

Kathañcāvuso, anupādā paritassanā hoti?
Kathañcāvuso, anupādānā aparitassanā hoti?


The Chinese reads more logically, doesn’t it?

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So therefore:

is the same as

[MN 138]

na viveka­ja­pīti­su­khā­nu­sāri viññāṇaṃ hoti
na viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­gadhi­taṃ
na viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­vini­bandhaṃ
na viveka­japīti­su­khas­sāda­saṃ­yoja­na­saṃ­yuttaṃ

na samā­dhi­ja­pīti­su­khā­nusāri viññāṇaṃ hoti
na samā­dhi­ja­pīti­su­khas­sāda­gadhi­taṃ
na samā­dhi­ja­pīti­su­khas­sāda­vini­bandhaṃ
na samā­dhi­ja­pīti­su­khas­sāda­saṃ­yoja­na­saṃ­yuttaṃ

na upekkhānusāri viññāṇaṃ hoti
na upekkhā­su­khas­sāda­gadhi­taṃ
na upekkhā­su­khas­sāda­vini­bandhaṃ
na upekkhā­su­khas­sāda­saṃ­yoja­na­saṃ­yuttaṃ

na aduk­kha­masu­khā­nu­sāri viññāṇaṃ hoti
na aduk­kha­ma­su­khas­sāda­gadhi­taṃ
na aduk­kha­ma­su­khas­sāda­vini­bandhaṃ
na aduk­kha­ma­su­khas­sāda­saṃ­yoja­na­saṃ­yuttaṃ


Hi Chan

I think AN 3.101 is referring to a nice, well established jhana.

Those sections from MN 138, on the other hand, are said to be describing the meditator who is ajjhatta saṇṭhita. Owing to this weird situation, we have the Theravada tradition struggling to explain asaṇṭhita positively, and treating saṇṭhita negatively. Everywhere else in the suttas, saṇṭhita is a positive quality leading up to concentration.

However, in the Chinese, the negation is reversed. The poor meditation is said to be owing to the meditator being 不住內 (ajjhatta asaṇṭhita). This is in contrast to the Pali which attributes the poor meditation to the meditator being ajjhatta saṇṭhita.

It appears that the laudable quality of being ajjhatta saṇṭhita was accidentally negated into ajjhatta asaṇṭhita, most probably owing to its proximity to the laudable qualities avikkhitta avisaṭa, both of which are laudable in negative form.

If the Pali text is corrected, it should read as (using Ven T’s translation) -

"And how is the mind said to be internally unsettled? There is the case where a monk, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. His consciousness follows the drift of the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal, is tied to… chained… fettered, & joined to the attraction of the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal. …

And how is the mind said to be internally settled? There is the case where a monk, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. His consciousness does not follow the drift of the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal, is not tied to… chained to… fettered, or joined to the attraction of the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal.


In the effort of trying to relate ekodibhuto and ekodibhava, it lead to taking ‘di’ as in ‘dvi’. Looking on it again; i thought of another ‘di’ usage in Malay language.
It is a common word in Malay, usually used to state that something is being done or completed.

My guess is B @Sujato may look at the Malay use of the word ‘di’ as in ‘disatukan’ ie. consolidated; which is acceptable to say like ‘Semangat mereka disatukan’ that means ‘Spiritually, they are united’.
[Side track: In fact the word ‘mereka’ (meaning many people) seems to be derived from the word ‘eka’ which is original just one. I wonder the ‘mer’ part comes from ‘meru’?]

The Malay use ‘di’ in front of ‘eka’ (‘satu’ in Malay), not after. The question is if there is the possibility that the Malay has gone through 1500+ years development in their language; the placement of ‘di’ is reverted?

@SarathW1, In Sinhalese, is there such usage or development of ‘di’?

Sorry I cant help with this.

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:+1: :clap:
The translation with “internally unsettled” & “internally settled” appear to be better as it is more relevant to the rest of the text related to clinging and non-clinging. And it appears to distinguish the fruition jhana and non-fruition jhana.

So it seem that in fruition jhana; does it means that there is no ekaggata & which is probably why ekaggata is not specified in jhana phrase?

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Hi atipattoh

I suspect it is not really related to the non-fruition jhana. I take my cue from the other 2 qualities, ie avikkhitta and avisaṭa. In one context, these pop up as a pair in AN 5.51 in the context of the 5 Hindrances -

Evañhi so, bhikkhave, majjhe nadiyā soto avikkhitto avisaṭo abyādiṇṇo dūraṅgamo ceva assa sīghasoto ca hārahārī ca.

In such a case, the current in the middle of the river would not be dispersed, spread out, and divided, so that the river could travel a long distance, with a swift current, carrying along much flotsam.

On the other hand, you have Iti 94 which talks about the situation where if consciousness is not as such plus it is asaṇṭhita, then there is no rebirth. I don’t see any Agama parallel for Iti 94, so it seems to confirm the Pali reading of MN 138.

On balance, I think Iti 94 has also suffered a textual corruption like MN 138.

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Hi Sylvester,
After you put in the word ‘settled’ & ‘unsettled’, that there appears a different picture. I use to take BB translation as ‘stay in jhana for a period of time’ (stuck) compare to ‘hit and run’ (unstuck) which is pretty odd.
When i tally the ‘internally unsettled’ to passage on ‘agitation caused by clinging’ & ‘internally settled’ to passage on ‘non-agitation caused by lack of clinging’ that distinguishing self view; looks pointing to distinguishing ordinary man from ariyas whereas ariyas does not cling on to the aggregates as self view.