Pondering 'right thought' defined in MN 117


Yes, these terms do occur, but only in one passage. In SA 784, the sutra before the one we’re discussing, which defines the eightfold path in a standard way. It defines right intentions as:


But SA 785 defines worldly right intention as:


So, it would appear that SA 785 is defining it a little differently, but the Pali doesn’t make this distinction.

MA 189 defines right intention as:


Here, a different Chinese term for “thought” 念 is used. It’s the same term used to translate mindfulness and remembering, but it can mean a thought as well.

This is how it generally goes with parallel comparisons. We can get a good idea about a term’s meaning, but knowing exactly which Indic term was in the original is difficult unless it’s a common stock passage or term that we know was invariable across sectarian canons.

Yes, especially when it’s occurring with vicara, it was common in the middle period of Chinese translations.

Ah! Yes. So, it goes back to the EBTs. I think it was the Yogacarabhumi where I saw this schema in the past.

Nice table, BTW.

Yes, Hirakawa gives that reading for this term. This is the only passage that it occurs in the Chinese Agamas, though.


覺(觀) not a good choice for vitakka (vicara) .
覺 sometimes taken as 想 , 想 and 念 close but not the same . 想 is the mind with form . 念 is present state of mind .

正志出要覺、無恚覺、不害覺 not a good choice either .

正志:正確的意向;right inclination of mind .

ie renouncing (sensuality) intention ,
non iil will intention and non harming intention .