Vitakka & Vicara – What do they mean?


Or: How do i find my way to the first jhana?Vitakka

Let’s say your meditation topic is Anapanasati (remembering the breath). So you would concentrate on breathing. If that is all you do, very soon, you would find yourself lost in millions of thoughts. Hopelessly washed away.

Now you make the following change to your practice:

With each breathing in you mentally note “in” with each breathing out you note “out”. Thatliterally is vitakka, or “thought“. Simple, as the Buddha mentioned. This thought will therefore help you to remember (lit. for sati, maintaining in your mental presence) the breathing (anapana).

Now, what the heck is “vicara“? It is gliding (literally ‘moving about’)! You don’t just think one thought and watch the breath. No, you have to repeat the thought and try to “glide”, “abide”, “skid”, “slide”, “dwell”, “ride” (all words denote a prolonged abiding, which…

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