AN IV 92 Learning Calm and Clarity (1)

AN IV 92 Learning Calm and Clarity (1)


Paṭhamasamādhi Sutta #


“Monks, there are four kinds of people living in this world.


What are they?


Here monks,

(1) Some people obtain mental stillness [1] within,

But they lack the active discernment of [mental] states by seeing wisely. [2]


(2) Some people obtain active discernment of [mental] states by seeing wisely,

But lack mental stillness within.


(3) Some people lack both mental stillness within,

And active discernment of [mental] states by seeing wisely.


(4) Some people obtain both mental stillness within, [3]

And active discernment of [mental] states by seeing wisely. [4]


These are the four kinds of people found living in the world.



[1]   Cetosamathassa: Another use for the word Samatha is in the vinaya for ‘adhikaraṇa samatha’ the ‘settling’ of a formal act. This can be a source of fresh insight into variant interpratations of the word Samatha.

[2] Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo lābhī hoti ajjhattaṁ cetosamathassa, na lābhī adhipaññādhammavipassanāya. Possible interesting parallel between adhi-attaṃ (ajjhataṃ) and adhi-pañña. Cetosamathassa: Calming the mind; dhammavipassanāya: Seeing states with clarity. A brief note here to relate the word ‘vi-passanā’ to wise awareness (sammā-sati) which is constituted of the four ‘anu-passanā’ (kayānupassanā, vedanānupassanā, cittānupassanā, dhammānupassanā). Dhammavipassanāya: seeing states with wise awareness, that is, as they are, without clinging. Vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ.

[3] ajjhattaṁ cetosamathassa: Bhante Sujato: “internal serenity of heart.” Bhikkhu Bodhi: “internal serenity of mind.“ F.L. Woodward: “Mental calm of the self.” Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnote refers to the commentary. Caution should be taken about this. The commentary, unsurprisingly, points to ‘apannā’ from the verb ‘appeti,’ what has come to be known as ‘absorption’ which is a term exclusive to later commentarial additions and the abhidhamma to denote the practice of samādhi and the jhānas, meaning; the word is never used by the Buddha to denote any such practice. Because of this word and its popular choice of meaning as ‘absorption,’ in many cases, even the word jhāna has become called ‘absorption’ which is quite far from the true meaning of the word jhāna itself. A perhaps closer word in pāḷi for ‘absorption’ would be ‘pariyādiyana.’ Here is the definition found in the PED: Appanā (f.) [cp. Sk. arpaṇa, abstr. fr. appeti = arpayati from of , to fix, turn, direct one’s mind; see appeti] application (of mind), ecstasy, fixing of thought on an object, conception… PED: Appeti [Vedic arpayati, Caus. of oti & cchati (cp. icchati2), Idg. *ar (to insert or put together, cp. also *er under aṇṇava) to which belong Sk. ara spoke of a wheel; Gr. ραρίσκω to put together; Lat. arma = E. arms (i. e. weapon), artus fixed, tight, also limb, ars = art. For further connections see aṇṇava] 1. (*er) to move forward, rush on, run into (of river) Vin ii.238; Miln 70. — 2. (*ar) to fit in, fix, apply, insert, put on to (lit. & fig.) (nimba — sūlasmiṁ to impale, C. āvuṇāti)… Once again, the semantic root gives us a list of words alluding to warfare language, comparing meditation to a somewhat violent and forceful act… Interesting link: A.P.Buddhadatta dic. Says ‘āsatta; nirata; vyāvata; parāyana’ under ‘aborbed in’ and the PED says: Āsatta (Pp. of āsajjati), 1. attached to; clinging; 2. accursed. We are quite far from the Buddha’s teaching at that point. MA: ajjhattaṃ cetosamathassāti niyakajjhatte appanācittasamādhissa. I interpret ‘ajjhattaṃ’ as ‘within’ following the reasoning that this mental stillness is gained within oneself, not ‘without,’ not by external objects of the world. To translate this as ‘mental stillness for oneself’, my other choice, seems odd and somewhat falling short of meaning.

[4] Adhipaññādhammavipassanāya: Āyasma Aggacitta calls it: “The higher wisdom that is able to see ‘dhammas’ or ‘things’ distinctly. Bhante Sujato translates it as: “the higher wisdom of discernment of principles.” F.L. Woodward: “the higher wisdom
of insight into things. Bhikkhu Bodhi: “the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena.” The classical translation of ‘adhi’ as ‘higher’ can be problematic in many cases since it tends to denote this aspect of superiority of some people compared to some others. This can easily give a distorted perspective of the Buddha’s teaching. ‘Higher’ can appear slightly pretentious in various contexts. The prefix ‘Adhi’ does not always mean ‘higher’ or ‘superior’ which is a frequent figure of style found in English translations of the pāḷi canon. This again alludes to superiority and supremacy: “the supreme this, the supreme that.” Without being completely wrong, there is a margin between being a humble practitioner in the glory of the Buddha sāsana and trying to prove the superiority of a teaching. Other word choices are available to us, which can nourish a more wholesome and applicable approach. ‘Adhi’ in fact mainly denotes a direction or place, like ‘up to, towards, over’ or ‘gone to, unto, in’ etc… I choose here ‘further’ for its practical purpose and direct application to the practice, not mere theoretical debates. ‘Forward discernment’ insufflates life to the process, it turns the sentence into an active compound which becomes usable to in our direct practice. Because ‘forward discernment’ or more discernment is needed for deepening mental stillness. That is the practice. I am hesitating with other words such as ‘deeper or deepening discernment’ or ‘advanced discernment’ or ‘applied discernement.’ MA: Adhipaññādhammavipassanāyāti saṅkhārapariggāhakavipassanāñāṇassa. Tañhi adhipaññāsaṅkhātañca, pañcakkhandhasaṅkhātesu ca dhammesu vipassanābhūtaṃ, tasmā ‘‘adhipaññādhammavipassanā
’’ti vuccatīti.

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