Thought and examination (Vitakka and Vicara) after composure?

It appears that you find Vitakka and Vicara in first Jhana as well as before first Jhana.
How this is possible.
The following video discuss this matter in detail.
But I am not happy with any of the answers given.
What is your answer?

i don’t understand the problem: all the jhana factors, except perhaps unification, are present before first jhana. The ingredients exist before the meal does.


The question is how Vitakka and Vicara still in first Jhana.
Ven Aggacitta gives some examples from Chinese Agama and the opinion of Ven. Analayo.
From counter 28.2 on wards.
Then he says it appears that there is a glitch in the Sutta.

So what is your opinion?

The question is:
There is Vitakka and Vicara in first Jhana as well as before first Jhana.
How this is possible?

Why would it not be possible?

I watched the ending of the video you posted and if I understand you correctly, you are asking why there’s still thought and examination in the first jhana, if the Buddha gave up thinking before he entered the first jhana?

The short answer is that vitakka and vicara don’t mean full blown thinking and pondering in the first jhana but rather placing the mind or applying the mind (vitakka) and keeping it connected or sustaining it there (vicara). So the Buddha gave up grosser forms of thinking and pondering but some fine traces of these processes still remain in the first jhana.

This was already covered in this topic you yourself started:

I think MN 78 will solve the mystery of the nature/function of vitakka-vicara in the 1st Jhana.


Thanks so according to MN 78:

  • Un wholesome thoughts ceased in first Jhana and wholesome thoughts ceased in second Jhana.

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“Thoughts” seem to be a vague translation for saṅkappā. Imagine, an entire element of the Noble Eightfold Path could completely disappear in the 2nd Jhana.

See also -

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Isn’t this Sati?

[quote=“Sylvester, post:9, topic:3385”]Imagine, an entire element of the Noble Eightfold Path could completely disappear in the 2nd Jhana.
Why not? MN 78:

“katame ca, thapati, kusalā saṅkappā? nekkhammasaṅkappo, abyāpādasaṅkappo, avihiṃsāsaṅkappo: ime vuccanti, thapati, kusalā saṅkappā.
"And what are skillful resolves? Being resolved on renunciation (freedom from sensuality), on non-ill will, on harmlessness. These are called skillful resolves.

So, it seems, kusalā saṅkappā = sammāsaṅkappā

And then:

“ime ca, thapati, kusalā saṅkappā kuhiṃ aparisesā nirujjhanti? nirodhopi nesaṃ vutto. idha, thapati, bhikkhu vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā … pe … dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati; etthete kusalā saṅkappā aparisesā nirujjhanti.

Now where do skillful resolves cease without trace? Their cessation, too, has been stated: There is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhana… This is where skillful resolves cease without trace.


Great points! I’d like to expand a little bit on what I think you’re getting at.

It could be pointed out that the sammāsaṅkappā are phrased in the negative. In other words, more about absence — absence of negative saṅkappā (wishes/intentions/resolves/aims). That the sammāsaṅkappā are positive qualities, they are positive only in so far as their definition, their defining characteristic, is in turning away from the negative qualities of unskillful aims.

  • nekkhammasaṅkappo:
    Specifically, 1st jhāna is viveka kāmehi (seclusion from sensual desire / sensuality) — I would say that sounds like the fulfillment of nekkhammasaṅkappo (for the duration of jhāna at least).

  • abyāpādasaṅkappo & avihiṃsāsaṅkappo:
    The 1st jhāna is also vivicca akusalehi dhammehi (seclusion from unwholesome states) — this I would say covers the other two sammāsaṅkappā (abyāpādasaṅkappo and avihiṃsāsaṅkappo) in so far as being secluded from unwholesome states would necessarily include seclusion from any sort of ill-will or harmful intentions. Then, in the 2nd jhāna, as you have quoted, it seems skillful aims also cease. So we could conclude that there are then no saṅkappā (kusalā nor akusulā) from 2nd jhāna onwards, I think this could be interpreted not as an absence of sammāsaṅkappā but rather as the fulfillment of such — no sensuality, no ill-will, no harmfulness.

I guess this begs the question, what kind of kusalā saṅkappā are present in 1st jhāna? To me, at least, I would think that nekhamma is fulfilled in the 1st, but perhaps abyāpādasaṅkappo and avihiṃsāsaṅkappo could still be active in some sort of subtle form. What do y’all think?