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Meaning of "discursive thought" - Dhamma Wheel

Meaning of "discursive thought"

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Digger
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Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby Digger » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:18 pm

In the first jhana the term "discursive" thought is used. But discursive can have two completely different meanings. I had always assumed meaning #2 was intended. Is this correct?

1. passing aimlessly from one subject to another; digressive; rambling.
2. proceeding by reasoning or argument rather than intuition.

definition taken from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discursive
Last edited by Digger on Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
He is different. He thinks.

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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 25, 2011 5:31 pm


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:14 pm


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby appicchato » Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:54 pm


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:37 pm

Interesting question. I always interpreted it as thoughts that are followd by "mental words". In other words I interpret it as the "mental verbalization" of what we are thinking.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:53 pm

See thiis (and other) threads:
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=10355

:anjali:
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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:55 pm

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby Digger » Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:07 pm

For Daverupa:

ßHere, householder, the bhikkhu secluded from sensual desires and demeritorious things, with thoughts and discursive thoughts and with joy and pleasantness born of seclusion abides in the first higher state of mind.

source http://www.buddhism.org/Sutras/Agama/An ... aggo-e.htm

Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, a monk enters upon and abides in the first meditative absorption,[3] which is accompanied by thought-conception and discursive thinking

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

For all: I did find one translation that uses the word "directed" which would point to definition #2:

"There is the case where an individual, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.

source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
He is different. He thinks.

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reflection
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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby reflection » Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:45 pm

Vikarra is quite an unclear term and as to translate it with discursive thought is -I think- not a good description in jhana.
Thought is what most people do all day. It does not really have a lot to do with samadi meditation, let alone jhana.

To me vitakka is the force of the mind towards an object, vicara is what draws it away. In meditation they are represented by a sort of swing in the mind towards and away from its object.

I like Ajah Chah's description here:
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... amadhi.htm

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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:42 am

If discursive thought is the translation being drawn from the word "Vicāra then from the definition given by retrofuturist in the link he provides above which is "Vicāra [vi+cāra] investigation, examination, consideration, deliberation....".................from this it seems that discursive thought would be more consistent with the original post's definition #2 which is "2. proceeding by reasoning or argument rather than intuition."
Is this reasonable?
chownah

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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby ground » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:51 am

"Discursive thought" is simply a wrong and misleading translation.

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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:44 am


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:58 am


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby ground » Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:06 am


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby reflection » Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:35 am


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Re: Meaning of "discursive thought"

Postby santa100 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:15 pm

According to Ven. Gunaratana: (ref: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#ch3.2 )

"Sustained Thought (vicara)
Vicara seems to represent a more developed phase of the thought process than vitakka. The commentaries explain that it has the characteristic of "continued pressure" on the object (Vim. 142; PP.148). Applied thought is described as the first impact of the mind on the object, the gross inceptive phase of thought; sustained thought is described as the act of anchoring the mind on the object, the subtle phase of continued mental pressure. Buddhaghosa illustrates the difference between the two with a series of similes. Applied thought is like striking a bell, sustained thought like the ringing; applied thought is like a bee's flying towards a flower, sustained thought like its buzzing around the flower; applied thought is like a compass pin that stays fixed to the center of a circle, sustained thought like the pin that revolves around (Vism. 142-43; PP.148-49).

These similes make it clear that applied thought and sustained thought functionally associated, perform different tasks. Applied thought brings the mind to the object, sustained thought fixes and anchors it there. Applied thought focuses the mind on the object, sustained thought examines and inspects what is focused on. Applied thought brings a deepening of concentration by again and again leading the mind back to the same object, sustained thought sustains the concentration achieved by keeping the mind anchored on that object."


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