difference between vyapada sankappa and vihimsa sankappa

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    • #15714


      The sutta’s mention three wrong kinds of thinking or motivation:
      -kama sankappa: sensual thoughts or motivation to enjoy sensual pleasures
      -vyapada sankappa, often translated as ill will
      -vihimsa sankappa, translated as the thought of harming or cruelty.

      The sutta’s are very clear, such thoughts or this kind of motivation must not be accepted or tolerated or followed upon. It leads to suffering for oneself, others and they block wisdom and to NOT lead to Nibbana.

      It must be abandoned immediately and replaced with the right kind of thinking or motivation
      -nekkhamma sankappa, thoughts of renunciation, for example, not giving in with sensual desires
      -avyapada sankappa, not ill will, for example motivation by metta
      -avihimsa sankappa, thoughts of non-cruelty or harming, for example, being motivated with compassion

      I have understood that sankappa here refers to the moment when mind starts to think about something, for example, to help someone or hurt someone. It is the sphere of motivation.

      It seems to be the same as vitakka, at least that’s how i understood this. The mind directs on…harming, caring, killing, helping etc.
      There are also thoughts which feed or support a certain kind of motivation and these are called vicara. These are also bad when they support a bad motivation. supporting thoughts can make an initital bad motivation very strong, i think. In itself, however, is vitakka and vicara not moral or immoral. It depend.

      I tried to explain to myself the difference between vyapada sankappa, often translated as ill will and vihimsa sankappa often translated as the thought of harming or cruelty. It seemed to me that a thought of harming or cruelty is a kind of ill will. But it is mentioned separately, so probably there is a difference.

      This is my question to you, what is the difference?

      kind regards,

    • #15716

      Siebe said: “I tried to explain to myself the difference between vyapada sankappa, often translated as ill will and vihimsa sankappa often translated as the thought of harming or cruelty.”

      Yes. There seems to be just a subtle difference between the two. But the difference is significant.

      Himsa (or vihimsa) applies mostly in the case of hurting someone or especially animals. Avihimsa is not to have that tendency, and to have compassion for all beings.

      Vyapada is the tendency to generate lot of “angry” thoughts or vaci sankhara about an enemy. When one cultivates such vaci sankhara, one’s mind get defiled and one is on a downward path (vyapada comes from “vaya” + “pada” or “towards one’s own destruction”).
      Vera (වයිර in Sinhala) is another word used to give the same meaning of enmity.
      – Of course, avyapada and avera (අවයිර in Sinhala) are the opposites, basically meaning loving kindness.

      We can take some examples to clarify.

      We see some people (especially children but adults too), habitually like to verbally abuse and laugh at others and enjoy that. In the case of animals, they like to hurt or even kill animals for no reason and to enjoy that without any remorse (for example those who like to watch cock-fighting). These are vihimsa sankappa.

      On the other hand, one can form a long-lasting enmity with another PERSON, if one perceives that person has done something bad to oneself or to someone that one loves. Unlike in the previous case, this enmity can last a long time, even through rebirths, if one keeps thinking bad thoughts (vaci sankhara) about that person day in and day out. These are vyapada sankappa.

      Those who tend to cultivate vyapada sankappa can use the following meditation verse:
      Aham avero homi, avyāpajjho homi,
      Anīgho homi, sukhī attānam pariharāmi

      May I be free from enmity; may I be free from ill-will;
      May I be free from anger; May I keep myself at peace.

    • #15721

      Thanks you very much Lal, it is clear to me. It is sometimes shocking to see what kind of bad habitual kind of thinking there is, in myself and others too. Happily there are good thoughts too.

      The sutta’s emphasize also to be not lazy and to strive energetic for the abandonment, the dissappearance of all bad kinds of thoughts or motivation.

      I know for myself i did not give this to much attention and the bad results i have to experience know. It is not like i am a monster, or a demon, but i can see there are bad tendencies which have not been treated correctly.


    • #15724

      From studying the sutta’s on the theme thinking/motivation (sankappa) i can share there are mentioned different ways of abandoning and ending wrong thinking or motivation. Just to list them here:

      -we have to develop and cultivate right thinking
      -we have to develop and cultivate metta (against ill will), karuna (againts cruelty and harming), and uppekkha (againt sensuality).
      -we have to establish mindfulness; focus on the breath can be used to cut of thoughts.
      -we have to learn to guard are senses
      -we have to develop the signless concentration.

      This last is mentioned in SN22.80 together with mindfulness. What is this signless concentration? Is it a kind of concentration where mind does not see any signs like ‘attractive’ (so no greedy thoughts arise), ‘repulsive’ (so not hateful thoughts arise), ‘control’ (so no delusion arises) etc? Or is it something else?


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