Acinteyya

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Translations of
acinteyya
English imponderable,
incomprehensible
Pali acinteyya
Sanskrit acintya
Chinese bukesiyi
Japanese fukashigi
Korean pulgasaūi
Tibetan bsam gyis mi khyab pa
Thai อจินไตย

Acinteyya (Pali; Sanskrit: acintya) is defined as "that which cannot or should not be thought, the unthinkable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, that which transcends the limits of thinking and over which therefore one should not ponder."[web 1]

In the Acintita Sutta, the Buddha identified four imponderables (acinteyya):[1][web 2]

  • The range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha.
  • The range of powers that one may obtain while absorbed in jhana.
  • The precise working out of the results of kamma.
  • Conjecture about the origin, etc., of the world.

Acinteyya (Sanskrit: acintya)is commonly translated as "imponderable", "incomprehensible" or "beyond thought".

Within the discourses

Acintita Sutta

The four imponderables are identified in the Acintita Sutta as follows:[1][web 3]

These four imponderables are not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about them would go mad & experience vexation. Which four?
The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha]….
The jhana-range of one absorbed in jhana [i.e., the range of powers that one may obtain while absorbed in jhana]….
The results of kamma….
Speculation about [the first moment, purpose, etc., of] the cosmos is an imponderable that is not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about these things would go mad & experience vexation.

S.56.41

The Buddha mentioned the first of the four imponderables in S.56.41:[web 1]

"Therefore, o monks, do not brood over the world as to whether it is eternal or temporal, limited or endless .... Such brooding, O monks, is senseless, has nothing to do with genuine pure conduct (s. ādibrahmacariyaka-sīla), does not lead to aversion, detachment, extinction, nor to peace, to full comprehension, enlightenment and Nibbāna, etc." (S.56.41).

Etymology

The term is used to describe the ultimate reality that is beyond all conceptualization.[2] Thoughts here-about should not be pursued, because they are not conducive to the attainment of liberation.[2]

In the Theravada tradition, it is also defined as:

That which cannot or should not be thought, the unthinkable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, that which transcends the limits of thinking and over which therefore one should not ponder.[web 1]

Synonymous terms are avyākrta[2] "indeterminate quesions,"[3] and atakkāvacara,[4] "beyond the sphere of reason."[4]

References


Web references


Sources

  • Ajahn Sumedho (2002), The Four Noble Truths, Amaravati Publications 
  • Ajahn Sucitto (2010), Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching, Shambhala 
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2000), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, Boston: Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-331-1 
  • Bhikkhu Sujato (2012), A History of Mindfulness, Santipada 
  • Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2010), Wings to Awakening: Part I (PDF), Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA 
  • Bhikkhu Thanissaro (1997), Tittha Sutta: Sectarians, AN 3.61, retrieved 12 November 2007 
  • Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2010), Wings to Awakening: Part I (PDF), Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA 
  • Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez Jr., Donald S., eds. (2013), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University Press 
  • Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press 
  • Moffitt, Phillip (2008), Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, Rodale, Kindle Edition 
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich (1999), The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Three River Press 
  • Rahula, Walpola (2007), What the Buddha Taught, Grove Press, Kindle Edition 
  • Trungpa, Chogyam (2009), The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation (edited by Judy Leif), Shambhala 
  • Tulku, Ringu (2005), Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism, Snow Lion 
This article uses material from the November 2014 revision of Acinteyya on Wikipedia ( view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikipedia logo