Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.3.11
(What is Perception of Rejection?)

This short extract from the Girimānandasutta is a further description of one more of the ten saññā starting with aniccasaññā1, that if perfected and fully developed will lead to liberation of mind – in the case of the Venerable Girimānanda to the alleviation of his sickness to enable him to get back to engaging in the practice of meditation. Here the text refers to pahānasaññā, the understanding of properly rejecting unwholesome thoughts: “Whatever thoughts of sensual pleasure - thoughts of aversion - thoughts of violence or evil or unwholesome thoughts - that arise, they should be rejected, dispelled, abolished and caused to perish – this is the perception of rejection!”: - “Idhānanda, bhikkhu uppannaṃ kāmavitakkaṃ - byāpādavitakkaṃ - vihiṃsāvitakkaṃ - uppannuppanne pāpake akusale dhamme - nādhivāseti, pajahati, vinodeti, byantīkaroti, anabhāvaṃ gameti! Ayaṃ vuccatānanda, pahānasaññā”

Whoever is successful in these attempts will reach a stage that is described as: “Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vasī2 vitakkapariyāyapathesu3. Yaṃ vitakkaṃ ākaṅkhissati4 taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati, yaṃ vitakkaṃ nākaṅkhissati na taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati. Acchecchi5 taṇhaṃ, vivattayi saṃyojanaṃ, sammā mānābhisamayā antamakāsi dukkhassā’’ – “This Bhikkhus is a Bhikkhu, who has gained control over the succession of thoughts. He will think whatever thought he desires to think, whatever thought he does not want to think, he doesn’t think. He has cut off craving, with fetters removed and with the complete penetration of conceit he has made and end to suffering!”6

To reach this stage the Buddha gives a detailed five-fold progressive description in the Vitakkasaṇṭhānasuttaṃ how all kinds of disturbing thoughts can be removed. He describes that one should avoid getting attracted or attached to any sign of arising thoughts that are connected with unwholesomeness, whether connected with desire, with ill will or with delusion:- “yaṃ nimittaṃ manasikaroto uppajjanti pāpakā akusalā vitakkā chandūpasaṃhitāpi7 dosūpasaṃhitāpi mohūpasaṃhitāpi” – by referring to any sign that is connected to wholesomeness: - “tassa tamhā nimittā aññaṃ nimittaṃ manasikaroto kusalūpasaṃhitaṃ”. In this way those unwholesome thoughts get removed and the mind reaches a state full of tranquillity, quietude and concentration: - “tesaṃ pahānā ajjhattameva cittaṃ santiṭṭhati sannisīdati ekodi hoti samādhiyati”. If still some thoughts of unwholesome character may arise, he may also further remain alert by investigating the danger involved in these thoughts8: -“……tesampi vitakkānaṃ ādīnavaṃ upaparikkhato9 ye pāpakā akusalā vitakkā chandūpasaṃhitāpi dosūpasaṃhitāpi mohūpasaṃhitāpi te pahīyanti te abbhatthaṃ gacchanti……” and again he will reach a calmed and quietened position of the mind to proceed further in his meditation. Again in case of further distracting thoughts of the same impure character he should proceed in the following manner by forgetting them as well as by not paying any attention to them: “……tesaṃ vitakkānaṃ asatiamanasikāro āpajjitabbo……”10 and if necessary to working further by stopping the thought formation process: “…… tesaṃ vitakkānaṃ vitakkasaṅkhārasaṇṭhānaṃ11 manasikātabbaṃ……” If he still shouldn’t be successful then even forcefully he should beat and crush down these still arising thoughts12 even with teeth clenched and the tongue pressed against the upper gum: “……dantebhidantamādhāya jivhāya tāluṃ āhacca13 cetasā cittaṃ abhiniggaṇhato abhinippīḷayato14 abhisantāpayato15……”and any such unwholesome thoughts will get abandoned.

In this way he will reach the state, where he is: “vitakkapariyāyapathesu”

He will only think whatever thought he wants to think and whatever thought he does not want to think, he doesn’t think - Yaṃ vitakkaṃ ākaṅkhissati taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati, yaṃ vitakkaṃ nākaṅkhissati na taṃ vitakkaṃ vitakkessati.

[1] see lesson 3.2.8

[2] vasī: mastering the senses, having power over

[3] vitakkapariyāyapathesu: vitakka + pariyāya + patho (loc.): thought + succession, order + course

[4] ākaṅkhati (fut.): wish, desire

[5] acchecchi: chindati (aor.): cut off, destroyed

[6] Vitakkasaṇṭhānasuttaṃ, Majjhimanikāyo, Mūlapaṇṇāsapāḷi

[7] chandūpasaṃhitāpi: chanda + upasaṃhita +api: wish, desire + connected, accompanied with + and, also, further

[8] These dangers should be comprehended in the following manner: ādīnavo upaparikkhitabbo – ‘itipime vitakkā akusalā, itipime vitakkā sāvajjā, itipime vitakkā dukkhavipākā’ti – These thoughts are unwholesome, they are blameworthy and they result in suffering

[9] upaparikkhati: investigate, examine

[10] asatiamanasikāro āpajjitabbo: a + sati + a + manasikāro āpajjitabbo: should undergo to not remember and not give attention 

[11] vitakkasaṅkhārasaṇṭhānaṃ: vitakka + saṅkhāra + saṇṭhānaṃ: thought + conditioning, cause + formation, composition. Commentary: Tattha vitakkasaṅkhārasaṇṭhānaṃ manasikātabbanti saṅkharotīti saṅkhāro, paccayo, kāraṇaṃ mūlanti attho. – Thus the thought formation process should fix the attention on the formation – the condition, the cause, the reason, the root – this is the meaning. The comparision in the sutta is of a man who walks fast but may consider: “Why am I walking fast?” – then walks slowly – he again considers – “Why am I walking slowly?” and so on till he finally stands, sits and lies down. In the same way the thought formation process should get stopped!

[12] Cetasā cittanti kusalacittena akusalacittaṃ abhiniggaṇhitabbaṃ: By wholesome state of mind unwholesome state of mind should be subdued!

[13] āhacca : āhanati (absol.): strike, to throw, to beat

[14] abhinippīḷayato: abhi + nippīḷayato: crush, subdue

[15] abhisantāpayato: abhi + santāpayato: torment, afflict, constrain


Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.3.11

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Last modified: Friday, 22 February 2019, 2:47 PM