MN 20 Discursion-together-staying-thread, literal translation draft

Here is the link to my amateurish attempt at a literal translation of MN 20 Vitakkasaṇṭhānasutta.

Personally I’ve found this to be a key teaching as it offers five antidotes to address what I translate as discursive thought (vitakka). It also address’s a lot of ‘No Thought’ teachings which seem to be doing the rounds lately.

In brief according to some English definitions discursive thought can be of two types; either unhealthy or healthy which fits the context of ‘vitakka’ in the Sutta.

So here I’m interpreting the Buddha as showing us how to use healthy discursion as an antidote to unhealthy discursion composed of the three poisons of desire, hatred and delusion. In the process we learn to control and rein it in to the point of gaining complete control over discursive thought with the power to choose when to think and not to think, including also identifying our pride or esteem and abandoning craving.

What I find also of interest is the writing at the end of the text which indicates this Sutta as the second part of the ‘Lions Roar Chapter’, but I can’t seem to find the first part so maybe I’m reading that wrong?

Constructive input and guidance are of course welcome.

Kind regards Ani


The claims in this closing statement in MN 20 seem a bit exaggerated since the methods described mostly apply to short term tactics related to thoughts. To remove the actual source the hindrances themselves, I think they have to be combined with the information here:

This combined approach is recommended as the basis of the practice.

Acchecchi taṇhaṃ, vivattayi saṃyojanaṃ, sammā mānābhisamayā antamakāsi dukkhassā”ti.
Cuts-off-[ Skt. ācchettṛ ]-one-did craving-to, removed-[ Skt. vyāvṛta ]-one-did together-yoking-to. *Congruent esteem-toward-meeting-from end-to-create-one-did bad-space-of.”

The Sutta is claiming that one has cut off craving. I’m not exaggerating, just summarizing what is stated. Maybe I should edit my summary to read ‘cuts off craving’?

Yes you just have to go along with what is there. But shouldn’t the above be “what to think and not to think?”
That is the important part, “The thought he wants to think, that, he thinks; the thought he does not want to think, that, he does not think” (Soma). The rest is a standardised ending also found in MN 2.

" He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and — through the right penetration of conceit — has made an end of suffering & stress."

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Yaṃ vitakkaṃ ākaṅkhissati taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati, yaṃ vitakkaṃ nākaṅkhissati na taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati.

Which-to discursion-to endeavour-[ Skt. ākāṅkṣ ]-one-will-do, that-to discursion-to discursion-one-will-do. Which-to-discursion-to not-endeavour-one-will-do, not that-to discursion-to discursion-one-will-do.

I see your point, basically ‘if one chooses to think on something then they will think on it, if they choose not to think on something then they won’t think on it’. So yes I think you could say ‘what to think and not to think’.


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