Bhava Sutta

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Bhava Sutta

Postby jandg » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:40 pm

I just read an item by Piya Tan regarding this sutta which raised a question for me (I've been practicing for only 8 months so having questions raised is pretty much my default mode). While discussing volition he stated that "For example, if we habitually make the aspiration (patthana) for a heavenly birth, that thought is reinforced in the subconscious as a latent tendency or habitual karma. At the moment of dying, this habitual karma is very likely to dominate us, resulting our being reborn in such a place".

I admittedly know less than nothing after only 8 months of study and practice but this idea of "accumulation of aspirations" doesn't feel quite right within what I think I know about the Theravadan view. Of course, he was a Theravadan monk so......

Anyhow, any illumination will be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Bhava Sutta

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:42 am

Greetings jandg,

Was the sutta and commentary online? If so, can you please provide a link?

Thanks.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Bhava Sutta

Postby Sylvester » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:28 am

Piya's essay is here -

http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... 7-piya.pdf

The relevant part says -

Volition (cetanā) is another word for karma: “Volition, bhikshus, is karma, I say! Having intended,
one creates karma through body, speech and mind.” (A 6.63).5 This refers to any “intentional” action
through the body, speech, or mind, that is motivated by any of the three unwholesome roots (greed, hate,
or delusion). Such actions may be conscious or unconscious. For example, is we habitually make the
aspiration (patthāna) for a heavenly birth, that thought is reinforced in the subconscious as a latent tendency
or habitual karma. At the moment of dying, this habitual karma is very likely to dominate us, resulting
in our being reborn in such a place.


In this pithy little passage, he's woven several threads together concerning the 2nd nidana of Dependant Origination, ie with sankharas as condition, consciousness [comes to be].

Firstly, the unconscious kamma, or perhaps more appropriately, the kamma performed without awareness (asampajana). That's alluded to in SN 12.25, Bhumija Sutta.

Next is the reference to "latent tendency". This is his (and the traditional) translation of anusaya. Now, the more standard presentation of DO's 2nd nidana would say that sankharas (in DO) are a reference to cetana. Yet, SN 12.38, Cetana Sutta suggests that anusayas themselves can be the condition for consciousness. Taking Ven Thanissaro's translation -

Staying at Savatthi... [the Blessed One said,] "What one intends, what one arranges, and what one obsesses about (lies with): This is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing [or: an establishing] of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

"If one doesn't intend and doesn't arrange, but one still obsesses (lies with) [about something], this is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such [too] is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.



Where he translates the Pali verb anuseti as "obsesses", I've supplied the more traditional and literal "lies with".

This passage is really speaking about the situation where there is no intention, but there are anusayas (implied by the anuseti). It appears from this sutta that "sankhara" in DO's 2nd nidana may need to be given a broader reading than the more well-known cetana.
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Re: Bhava Sutta

Postby jandg » Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:53 pm

Kinda heady stuff for a mere beginner, but thanks to all
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Re: Bhava Sutta

Postby santa100 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:03 am

Hi Jandg, it's possible that the moment-of-dying kamma might influence the next becoming of the individual. But it won't last as long as the habitual kamma that was re-inforced frequently during a person's lifetime. There're a lot of cases like that in life. For example, a baby was born into a wealthy and famous family, and it was quite beautiful and intelligent. But then it fell ill and die early around the age of 4 or 5. One possible explanation is that this individual in his previous life, used to generate lots of negative kamma throughout most of his life. But then right before he dies, for some reason he happened to generate one wholesome act of compassion toward other people. Due to this "last-minute" wholesome kamma, it influences his rebirth into a good environment with good conditions. But it soon worn out and his massive negative kamma took over: he died young and was reborn in a less favorable environment..
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Re: Bhava Sutta

Postby Sylvester » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:41 am

Don't worry. Give yourself time.

The anusaya-s model provides the explanation for the suffering of suffering (what the Sallatha Sutta describes as cetasika vedana). When one grieves, one is said to lie with patighanusaya (the underlying tendency to aversion). Habituality of mental inclinations affects everyone, and a striking example is given by the Buddha for the anusayas that afflict even an infant. In MN 64, such an infant is specifically identified as subject to anusayas, even as MN 78 says that an infant acts without "evil resolves".

The anusaya-s are more difficult to tackle than bad kamma, and more than sila is required to tackle them. Meditation, especially the satipatthanas, are required to quell them.
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