Thinking [in words]
See also Vicara
See discussions: "Rethinking Vitakka"
Words and Thoughts
SN 2.21.1: Moggallaana describes how vitakka and vicara obstructed his ability to sustain the second jhaana
MN 111 §6-10: where various factors of jhaana including perception, wanting, and mental study remain even after vitakka and vicara have been supressed.
MN 19: where vitakka and vicara are described as of two sorts, those concerning unskillful states which should be supressed and those which cause no fear, but which, nevertheless, if overdone, cause bodily fatigue. The simile likens vitakka and vicara to cows that need to be restrained but once restrained can be managed by mindfulness.
DN 34 §5.9 which does not mention vitakka and vicara specifically but which describes situations of verbal thinking in a context identical to the first jhana.
|Pali||MO||Hare||Horner||Punnaji||Bodhi||Nanamoli||Rhys Davids||(Mrs)Rhys Davids||Thanissaro||Walshe||Woodward|
|Vitakkaa||thinking, re-thinking, thought, word-thought||speculative thought [AN 7.50], applied thought, reflections, thought, perceptions||initial thought, thought, thoughts||conceptual thought (with vicara)||thinking, applied thought||applied thought||mental application, thoughts||thoughts, initial application||directed thought||thinking|
Pali Text Society
Pali English Dictionary
Edited by T. W. Rhys Davids and William Stede
Vitakka: [vi+takka] reflection, thought, thinking; "initial application".... - kaama-, vihi.msaa-, vyaapaada- (sensual, malign, cruel thought): D III.226; S II.151 sq.; III.93; A I.148, 274 sq.; II.16, 117, 252; III.390, 428. Opp. nekkhamma-, avyaapaada-, avihi.msaa- A I.275; II.76; III.429. - vitakka is often combd with vicaara or "initial and sustained application" Mrs. Rh. D.; Cpd. 282; "reflection and investigation" Rh. D.; to denote the whole of the mental process of thinking (viz. fixing one's attention and reasoning out, or as Cpd. 17 expls it "vitakka is the directing of concomitant properties towards the object; vicaara is the continued exercise of the mind on that object."... Both are properties of the first jhaana (called sa-vitakka sa-vicaara) but are discarded in the second jhaana (called a-). See e. g. D. I.37; S IV.360 sq.; A IV.300; Vin III.4;... Note. Looking at the combn vitakka+vicaara in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one and the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, like jaanaati passati, without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Sangha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general. The explns of Commentators are mostly of an edifying nature and based more on popular etymology than on natural psychological grounds.