4. Investigation (vīmaṃsā)

Vimamsā: ‘investigation, inquiry, pondering’, is one of the 4 roads to power iddhi-pāda and one of the 4 factors of predominance see: paccaya

Discernment, contemplation,


  • Question: Is that vīmamsā?
  • Ajahn Chah: It means understanding cause and result.
  • Question: Then the teachings talk about chanda, satisfaction; viriya, exertion; citta (the four iddhipāda, ‘bases for accomplishment’).
  • Ajahn Chah: When there’s satisfaction, is it with something that is correct? Is exertion correct? Vīmamsā has to be present with these other factors.
  • Question: Are citta and vīmamsā different?
  • Ajahn Chah: Vīmamsā is investigation. It means skillfulness or wisdom. It is a factor of the mind. You can say that chanda is mind, viriya is mind, citta is mind, vīmamsā is mind. They are all aspects of mind, they all can be summarized as ‘mind,’ but here they are distinguished for the purpose of pointing out these different factors of the mind. If there is satisfaction, we may not know if it is right or wrong. If there is exertion, we don’t know if it’s right or wrong. Is what we call mind the real mind? There has to be vīmamsā to discern these things. Investigating the other factors with wise discernment, our practice gradually comes to be correct and we can understand the Dhamma.
  • Ajahn Chah: But Dhamma doesn’t bring much benefit if we don’t practice meditation. We won’t really know what it is all about. These factors are always present in the mind of real practitioners. Then even if they go astray, they will be aware of that and be able to correct it. So their path of practice is continuous. Others’ words can’t measure your practice. And you don’t realize the Dhamma because of what others say. I mean the real Dhamma. The teachings others can give you are to show you the path, but that isn’t real knowledge. When people meet the Dhamma, they realize it specifically within themselves. So the Buddha said, “The Tathāgata is merely one who shows the way.” When someone is ordained, I tell them, “Our responsibility is only this part: The reciting ācariya have done their chanting. I have given you the Going Forth and vows of ordination. Now our job is done. The rest is up to you, to do the practice correctly.”