acintya (P. acinteyya; T. bsam gyis mi khyab pa; C. bukesiyi) is translated as "inconceivable," "imponderable," "incomprehensible," "beyond thought," etc. It refers to that which is beyond conceptualization.
The Buddhist Dictionary states:
- [acinteyya is] 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.
- 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.
Within the discourses
- 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.
The Buddha mentioned the first of the four imponderables in S.56.41:[web 3]
- "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).
The term is used to describe the ultimate reality that is beyond all conceptualization. Thoughts here-about should not be pursued, because they are not conducive to the attainment of liberation.
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 3]
- 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
- 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
- Nyanatiloka Thera (2019), Nyanaponika Thera, ed., Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Pariyatti Publishing
|This article includes content from the November 2014 revision of Acintya on Wikipedia ( view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0.|