Reply To: Vitakkasanthana sutta


The sutta in question is “Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta“.

It is not easy to translate a sutta in a forum response. I will try to make a post in the future. But let me try to give the essence of the sutta.

1. A living being (satta or satva) manifests because of the akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada (PS) processes.
– As you can see the “whole mass of suffering” starts with “avijja paccaya sankhara”. But avijja does not arise without causes.
– Avijja arises when we come across a sensory input that “matches” our gati. We have, in broad terms, lobha gati, dosa, gati, and moha gati.

2. When a sensory input comes that “matches our gati” then we attach to it with samphassa-ja-vedana. See, “Dukkha Samudaya Starts With Samphassa-Jā-Vedanā
– That is when we start acting with avijja, i.e., that is when we start doing (abhi) sankhara with “avijja paccaya sankhara”.

3. Therefore, the key to stopping those akusala-mula PS processes is to stay mindful and stop such attachments.
– The first thing that happens when we come across such a sensory input (arammana) is that we start thinking about it. Those thoughts are vaci sankhara and they arise with vitakka/vicara. They are also called sankappa.
– There are “bad sankappa” or “bad vitakka” associated with lobha, dosa, moha. They are kama vitakka, vyapada vitakka, and vihimsa vitakka (corresponding greed, anger, ignorance). Of course, we need to stop them and cultivate the opposites: nekkamma vitakka, avyapada vitakka, and avihimsa vitakka.

4. The “Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta” discussed five ways to control such bad vitakka. I will briefly list them:
(i) When such bad thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion start arising, one should suppress those thoughts by instead focusing on the opposite vitakka. For example, if it is an angry thought towards someone, one should start generating metta toward that person.
(ii) If that does not work one should think about the bad consequences of such bad vitakka. That such bad thoughts/actions can lead to bad vipaka, both in this life and in future lives.
(iii) One should try to avoid such sensory inputs. For example, avoid coming face-to-face with adversaries, avoid gambling places, etc.
(iv) In some cases, one can look at the root cause for such akusala vitakka to come to mind. For example, if thoughts arise to hit someone, think about why that would be necessary or what would be the real reason for such drastic action. You may realize that it was a misunderstanding that led to the confrontation.
(v) If none of those work, one should stop such bad vitakka by force as the last resort: With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, make firm determination that “I will not sustain such thoughts”. Yes. you need to literally clench the teeth and press the tongue against the roof of the mouth. Try and see. That takes the mind away from those thoughts, because you are focusing on that.

Anyway, I hope you get the idea. Now if you read the translation that you quoted, you may be able to understand it better.