The mysterious unexplained disappearance of Kāya and Vitakka in the Jhānas by B. Sujato

DN 2, is probably the most detailed sutta we have on the gradual training.
Here, with B. @Sujato 's own translation, you can see why kāya needs to be consistently translated as ‘body’ all the way through, from 7sb awakening factors kaya-passsaddhi, into the four jhanas and their similes. B. Sujato is consistent most of way, except for the 3rd jhana, discussed here link here

7sb with V&V will be addressed later.

In this translation, I’ve numbered the 7sb in round parenthesis. (1,2,3) refer to sati, dhamma-vicaya, viriya-sambojjhanga.

  1. sati remembers the Dhamma teaching on 5niv (5 hindrances)
  2. dhamma-vicaya explores and investigates the Dhamma teaching on 5niv
  3. viriya-sambojjhanga is the vigor awakening factor, executing the Dhamma instructions in remove the 5niv, and raise all kusala Dhammas (akusala dhamma pahanaya, kusala dhamma upasampadaya).

7sb samādhi-sam-bojjhanga = 4 jhānas

DN 2 (B.Sujato trans.)

(1, 2, 3) Tassime pañca nīvaraṇe pahīne attani samanupassato (1, 2, 3) Seeing that the hindrances have been given up in them,
pāmojjaṃ jāyati, joy springs up.
(4) pa-muditassa pīti jāyati, (4) Being joyful, rapture springs up.
(5) pīti-manassa kāyo passambhati, (5) When the mind is full of rapture, the body becomes tranquil.
Passaddha-kāyo sukhaṃ vedeti, When the body is tranquil, they feel bliss.
(6) sukhino cittaṃ samādhiyati. (6) And when blissful, the mind becomes immersed.

(STED first jhana formula)

So vivicceva kāmehi, vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, they enter and remain in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, [with vitakka & vicara].

(first jhana simile)

So imameva kāyaṃ vivekajena pītisukhena abhisandeti parisandeti paripūreti parippharati, nāssa kiñci sabbāvato kāyassa vivekajena pītisukhena apphuṭaṃ hoti. They drench, steep, fill, and spread their body with rapture and bliss born of seclusion. There’s no part of the body that’s not spread with rapture and bliss born of seclusion.

(remaining 3 jhanas and similes complete samadhi-sambojjhanga)

(6 abhiñña and similes would represent #7 upekkha-sam-bojjhanga accomplishing super powers and arahantship)

@Frankk, regarding the title of this post, please do read AN5.10. I think the word “assassination” would be understood by most reasonable people as evidence of at least three qualities mentioned below.

“Mendicants, a disrespectful and irreverent mendicant with five qualities can’t achieve growth, improvement, or maturity in this teaching and training.
What five?
A disrespectful and irreverent mendicant who is faithless …
lazy …
witless can’t achieve growth, improvement, or maturity in this teaching and training.
A disrespectful and irreverent mendicant with these five qualities can’t achieve growth, improvement, or maturity in this teaching and training.

Until the title changes. I will simply ignore what you have said, since the conduct exhibited is not one I would expect from a Noble One.



I changed the topic’s title out of respect and trying to make it more conducive to a constructive discussion.

I strongly recommend @frankk to take a break, enjoy the jhānas, go for a walk, have a nice meal, see a beautiful sunset, visit friends and family, and consider trying alternative ways to share with the community here his views and opinions.

I am personally tired of all this blaming and naming. I know personally Ajahn Sujato and consider him a dear friend, and of course, feel uncomfortable with all this.


Thank you. I shall read this post tomorrow. Right now I just feel sad and would not be open to new thoughts.



@frankk, good morning! I have slept well and hope you have as well.:slightly_smiling_face:

Like you, I also have noticed alternative translations of the same Pali words. Clearly, these inconsistenties have caused you much pain and you would like them corrected so that the Dhamma is not misrepresented when others read such translations.

Because of this, you will find it odd to know that I find joy in these alternative translations by the same person. I find joy because it takes an artist of quite some accomplishment to evoke a specific experience in the viewer. Let us take an example.

Here is a famous painting of a starry night:


You might call this an assassination of the true starry night. And I would agree that it “looks” nothing exactly like any starry night you or I or anyone else has seen. Yet I find joy in this painting. And I recognize the truth of starry night in this painting.

A painting is a translation of reality that conveys an experience. Magnificent paintings are often jarringly inconsistent. Have you seen Picasso?

So I find joy in the inconsistencies between and inside all of the translations of the suttas. Including your own. I find joy in them because they give me a peek into a new perspective that invariably enriches my outlook. Each and every translation is a gift. A labor of love and dedication. A labor of metta.

On a cautionary note, I would say that meditating on inconsistencies is a form of meditation on ugliness. And meditation on ugliness has a high mortality rate.

“Ānanda, why does the mendicant Saṅgha seem so diminished?” –SN54.9

Please do take equal time to meditate on joy and beauty. Equanimity bridges both.



I don’t think Frank’s about to kill himself because he thinks X and Y teacher have false dhyānic attainments.

The monks who died listened to the Buddha.

When a mysterious disappearance of body remains unexplained, but the evidence clearly presented strongly suggests there was a biased motive for the lack of explanation of the disappearance, characterizing that action as ‘assassination’ is more than justified. Bhante @sujato is welcome to clear up the mystery and explain himself.

I seriously doubt that B. Sujato would approve of editing other people’s posts without their consent. We should understand the difference between respect and politeness. Some may find my directness and choice of words impolite, but there is no disrespect intended.

And I understand this as well, which has been puzzling to me. A word such as “assassin” is a word that evokes deep emotional response and is not conducive to rational argument. I myself could not read your post with open eyes seeing that word. It was a word typed either for effect (malice) or from unawareness of its impact on your audience. To many of us, such words are thorns in your good food. When we taste food with a thorn, we simply spit out the whole mouthful. This is why I could not read your post yesterday. It was good food with a thorn. With the thorn removed, the information you posted is consumable and we can then proceed to a discussion on the relevance of inconsistency. With the thorn present, it promotes division and dissent. Politeness is the social convention of simple restraint from placing thorns in food. Politeness is a social convention that promotes broad discussion and a shared understanding by building mutual trust that we all avoid emotional manipulation via charged words. Politicians use charged words. But that is a different topic.

AN6.61 is remarkable in that it shows how the Buddha directly addresses differences of opinion in the Sangha.

Mendicants, you’ve all spoken well in a way. However, this is what I was referring to…

And I feel that this one sentence exactly describes how we should talk to each other. It is a perfect example of Right Speech. :smiley:

The word “assassin…” was not used by the Buddha. The Buddha did not put thorns in his good food.


Maybe people should have an emotional response when they consider a biased translation of V&V and kaya in third jhana can have a profound impact on millions of meditators now and in the future? Many of the most important crucial meditation instructions are terse, and getting important terms wrong has disastrous consequences. I’ve witnessed this first hand, the effect of VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana), and it’s tragic. I’ve personally seen scores of meditators over the years who are perfectly capable of doing first and even second jhana, give up their practice because they believe Vism.'s re-definition of V&V and kaya in the jhanas.

Anyone ever heard of freedom of speech? I support your right to criticize my writing, and boy are you good at exercising that right, to the point where the moderators have threatened to kick me off the forum. Thanks guys!


@frankk, I do not wish you kicked off the forum and I have not asked any moderator to kick you off the forum. I have also not asked any moderator to edit your posts. I am not a part of a conspiracy against you. If anything, I would simply invite you over to breakfast so we could talk. This posting back and forth is exhausting. :rofl:

Like you, I simply am posting what is true for me. I respond to your posts because when I ask myself what it would take to post such a post as you’ve posted, I always arrive at suffering. You are posting from suffering and I am responding from suffering.

We both agree that Bhante Sujato is a translator who uses alternate translations of V&V. There is no dispute there. I love the inconsistency. You hate the inconsistency.

When the two are in conflict, the truth lies in a third way. There is a neutral feeling here that we should explore and not ignore.

Please let us explore this together. :pray:

Since I’ve been a rhinoceros on my own till this year, the above is news to me. I’ve gone rock climbing for decades and avoided formal Buddhism of any sort till this year. Coming back to Buddhism this year after decades away I have seen that very strange things have happened in my decades away. Zen masters punching women students? Sexual predators in robes? What madness is this?

And what you have experienced with the results of poor translations does indeed sound bad. If we make the teachings obscure and unreachable, that is indeed a horrible horrible thing. The teachings themselves say, "In what way is the teaching realizable in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves?” and they go on to explain everything clearly. Indeed, you and I would both roll our eyes and shake our heads at any teacher who said, “You must study for ten years with me before I teach the esoteric secrets of the blue kasina”. You might stay and call out these false teachers. I would just walk away because I have fewer years to live than you.

How should we know the true teaching?

For me it is simple. I simply use the Buddha’s very own statement. And I ask myself:

is it immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves?".

And every Bhante Sujato translation I have read passed that test as verified by personal experience.

With some exceptions…

I have found a few problematic translations that did not seem sensible upon inspection. And in each and every one of those translations that I found discrepancies, Bhante Sujato immediately corrected his translation. You can search this forum for evidence of this.

I have shared how I evaluate truth of translation. Please share how you evaluate truth of translation. Somehow, it feels like we have different measures.

By the way, I have noticed that we have now “mysterious unexplained disappearance” in the title and I have no idea who did that or how that happened, but it made me laugh this morning given all the permutations we have seen.


Be careful with these kind of statements. These are not helpful. You never know what someone is going through. Being one who’s struggled with suicidal thoughts a lot of my life, this would be very troubling if someone said this to me and I was in a depressed state having these thoughts as I was in the past.

Please think before making statements like this. What if the person you wrote this about committed suicide after reading this. How would you feel then?

With Metta


The monks who remained alive had also listened to the Buddha.
Your words reminded me of another kind one who said:

May you live long and prosper

Thank you for sharing your experience. :heart:

I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t think it would be triggering to ponder the lack of suicidal impulse someone might have. I’ll just refrain from the subject in general. There isn’t usually a reason to discuss suicide anyways.


Translations are translations. The original text is intact. A difference in words describing jhana doesn’t change the reality of jhana. This is just one translation work. Bhante @sujato ‘s translation I imagine is perfectly fine for him and is in-line with his own understanding, experience and interpretation. He isn’t necessarily wrong and this translation isn’t a threat to anyone’s practice today or in the future.

I personally prefer the more traditional translation, but that is just in-line with my own understanding, experience, and interpretation which isn’t any more right than his.

Be happy you have an open venue associated with this translation where you can voice this particular concern, but at some point you may need to realize you’re “beating a dead horse.”


On a personal level, I enjoy B. sujato’s writing style for his english translations. But as a translation that’s meant for mass consumption, and I believe it very will likely become the post popular over time, because it’s free, available digitally with very user friendly interface, and written in an easy to understand way, then there’s a responsibility to make sure the translation is unbiased, follows higher standards than just publishing a printed book.

B. Sujato’s V&V translation is not unbiased, and does not follow his own high standards , among them, principle of least meaning and ockham’s razor is usually correct. The V&V of first jhana, translated as he currently has it, is a tremendous obstacle for people in their belief that they can attain first jhana. Similar to lets say 20 years ago before Obama was President, trying to convince young black kids in America that they can get into an ivy league school and become President of the USA. No black kid would believe that. With V&V translated in an unbiased way, every other translator translates V&V the same way in first jhana as it is outside first jhana. An unbiased V&V first jhana, is more like telling young black kids, if you go to school every day, do your homework, you absolutely can graduate an American high school (it’s really not hard). First jhana is more like that. Ajahn Brahm first jhana, is essentially VRJ (vism. redefinition of jhana) without the abhidhamma. And B. Buddhaghosa in Vism. says the odds of being able to get first jhana, is something on the order of between one in 1 billion, or one in 1 million.

The USA has a population has about 300 million, and Barack Obama was one out of 300 million. The US high school education is ridiculously low standard. Anyone, even below average intelligence, if they show up every day, do their homework, can graduate 12 years of school. The difficulty of first jhana is more like that. It’s not hard, it’s just people are actually so lame they don’t do their homework and go to class everyday. If they actually spent 1 hour every day working on first jhana, they could do it after some time. A low quality jhana within 4 years is very attainable.

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I agree with everything you wrote in the post, but you’re missing an important point. This is not just B. Sujato expressing his view in a peer group and us allowing the legitimacy of his view. He’s publishing something that is likely to become the most popular english translation available.

See @crizna’s posts in this thread, 11, and 23

A translator has a responsibility to translate in an unbiased way, and not override conventional meanings of ordinary words. That just wreaks havoc on the rest of the world.

It’s like baking a chocolate cake. What you were talking about is tolerance of people’s freedom to choose and argue merits between whether they use milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate from germany or belgium, how much chocolate to use, etc. But chocolate is chocolate. Ajahn Brahm comes along and says, the Buddha actually means ‘banana’ when it says chocolate.

The cake that comes out is not going to be chocolate cake.


We both want the Dhamma accessible to all. That is clear. We both want an end to esoteric nonsense. And we both want everybody to grasp first jhana quickly and well.

What is less clear to me is how “place the mind and connect it” could be an obstacle. It is indeed exactly what I do. In fact, it is also the exact opposite of sitting in daydreams, which would indeed be a tremendous obstacle.

When I look at minds fed on the internet, I see dis-placement and dis-connection. I see minds habituated to illusion as offered through video cards. I have worked with people who have wistfully wished to vanish into the machine. I have heard this many times. I have seen Matrix and become concerned. This dis-placement and dis-connection is a very clear and present danger to minds fed on the internet. Bhante’s “place the mind and connect it” is for me the exact prescription for this dis-ease I see all around.

How could “place the mind and connect it” be a “tremendous obstacle?”


Hey Frankk, is it possible to keep all this stuff in one thread? I think everyone here has seen enough of all this. Publishing a new thread every week (or every day even) is not helping your cause and its not making the D&D a better place either.

Just a simple request.


The recurring implication that your translations are unbiased stands out as rather peculiar. And the rhetoric that not accepting your view as absolutely authoritative will lead to universal cataclysm (“havoc on the rest of the world”)? Get a grip.