First of all a big
to Peter, who pointed me toward these talks
I'm curious if there is any concrete explanation of the mechanism of gandhabba, as described in talk No. 5. My understanding is that it's instantaneous, linking the last moment of death with the first moment of conception in the next rebirth. But it still seems kind of magical. What specifically would connect a death, say, in Alaska with a rebirth half a world a way in Brazil (to pick two random places)? Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi describes the process as being similar to passing a flame from one candle to another, but that's easier to envision, because the candles actually come into contact. How does the gandhabba accomplish contact with embryo?
I've heard it described as energy, like a flash of lightning, like the propogation of a wave, and so on. Those all seem to fall short, because I can envision all of those things. Is there a clearer way to understand how the gandhabba functions? Or is the question itself meaningless or incorrectly conceived?
Much thanks in advance.
I think gandhabbas are best described by poems. Because in the absence of being able to enter the gandabbha realm by means of meditation, any explanation would merely be poetry.
Element wrote:In the book Practical Dependent Origination, I recalled Ajahn Buddhadasa explaining gandabba is merely sperm.
I have not seen Buddha provide any in-depth discussion on the gandabba. I have only seen it merely appears as a word in the suttas and nothing more.
It's a word that has a specific meaning in Indian mythology. And given the contexts in which it's used, it's seems pretty obvious it was an actual being (i.e., in DN 3, Vajrapani the Yakkha is literally flying around, speaking, and the Buddha and Ambattha both see him -- why should yakkhas be literal and not gandharbas, or is Vajrapani merely a metaphor too?). How is it that nature spirits, which are skilled at music and fly through the air, are a metaphor for sperm?
gavesako wrote:I have recently spoken to a man who can clearly remember two of his past lives. One was in the human realm, the other one in a deva realm where everyone has refined bodies and was radiating metta to others. Then at the end of that existence, he felt himself being pulled back into the human realm, and he recognized it was his attachment that was pulling him there: he could see many couples in sexual union at the moment, and he went towards one of them... which became his mother and father.
Given studies in psychology which demonstrate that the faculty of memory is just as creative as it is recollective and in the absence of any convincing anecdotal evidence of a person recollecting a past life beyond all doubt (that is, being independently verified, ruling out the imagination), I would be skeptical of such a claim. Meditation can develop a state of strong creativity, in which a person might conceivably create a false memory of a past life.