The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

perhaps you need revisit what saṅkhāra means and how it is used, in what context etc.
Yes. That is a good idea.

The following are the relevant posts:

Sankhāra – What It Really Means Thu Nov 01, 2018 (p. 43)
Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra Nov 03, 2018 (p.43)
- Both at: ... &start=630

Connection Between Sankhāra and Viññāna, Dec 29, 2018 : ... &start=840

Vinnana and Sankhara – Connection to Paticca Samuppada Jan 01, 2019 (P. 57): ... &start=840
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote: Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:18 pm
perhaps you need revisit what saṅkhāra means and how it is used, in what context etc.
Yes. That is a good idea.
you wrote
Lal wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:58 am - “Rūpaṃ attato samanupassati” means, “regards form (meaning one’s body) as “me” in one of four ways. In the same way, that person may consider each of the other four aggregates as “me” in one of four ways.
- Thus, considering each of the five aggregates in four ways “to be mine”, leads to the “self-view” or ‘identity view”. That is “twenty-types of sakkāya diṭṭhi” or “vīsativatthukā sakkāya diṭṭhi.” See, “Nayasamuṭṭhāna” of Nettipakaraṇa.
- Anyone who has not heard the correct explanation of sakkāya diṭṭhi is an “uninformed/ignorant” human or assutavā puthujjano. That is why most people today belong to this category. Even when explained, some people have a hard time grasping this “previously unheard Dhamma.”
Regarding form as "me". It is entire sentence with brackets - "regarding form as me" is saṅkhāra. It is not about the form being my self or i am in the self etc.
“Rūpaṃ attato samanupassati” refers to the clinging aggregates, nutriment. Rupa has nutriment, that rupa doesn't arise without cause.

*Sutta, wrote: They regard form as self.rūpaṃ attato samanupassati.But that regarding is just a conditioned phenomenon.Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, samanupassanā saṅkhāro so.
Lal wrote: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:09 pm Katamā cānanda (ca Ananda), sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aniccha saññā?

Idhānanda (Idha Ananda) bhikkhu sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati.

Ayaṃ vuccatānanda (vuccati Ananda), sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aniccha saññā.


“Ananda, What is the (correct) perception of all saṅkhāra?

“Ananda, all saṅkhāra are like meatless bones, without substance, to be rejected like urine and feces.”

“That is Ananda, how one should perceive all saṅkhāra.”

11. Here the Buddha is describing the characteristics of all saṅkhāra (“sabba” is “all”).

- “Aṭṭi” is “bone”. A dog enjoys chewing a bone. But a bone has no nutrition or taste. Most of the time, the dog’s gum starts bleeding, and that is what it tastes. But the dog does not realize that and values a bone very highly.
- “Hara” is “substance”, and “harāyati” is without substance.
- Furthermore, “ji” and “gu” (pronounced “Jee” and “goo”) are the Pāli and Sinhala words for “urine” and “feces”. As we already know, “icca” (Pronounced “ichcha”) means “like”. Thus “jiguccati” pronounced “jiguchchathi” means “it is no different than liking urine or feces”. Note that “jiguccati” is “ji” + “gu” + iccati” means “a liking for urine and feces.”
- All (abhi)saṅkhāra should be avoided (but this applies only at the Arahant stage).
"..Idhānanda (Idha Ananda) bhikkhu sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati.." it refer to chandarāga - the upādāna in upādānakhandha.

*Sutta, wrote: The desire and greed for the five grasping aggregates is the grasping there.”Yo kho, āvuso visākha, pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu chandarāgo taṃ tattha upādānan”ti.
in sum, when you read Sutta saying about there is no self, or talking about anatta, anicca etc it is about ­saṅ­khā­ra. And citta is freed by non-clinging refer to the "chandarāgo", as of considering saṅkhāra as non-desireable - like urine and feces.

* mn 75, wrote:These sentient beings who are not free from sensual pleasures—being consumed by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with passion for sensual pleasures—have impaired sense faculties. So even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to touch, they have a distorted perception that they are pleasant.
Ime ca, māgaṇḍiya, sattā kāmesu avītarāgā kāmataṇhāhi khajjamānā kāmapariḷāhena pariḍayhamānā upahatindriyā dukkhasamphassesuyeva kāmesu sukhamiti viparītasaññaṃ paccalatthuṃ.
it says you like "urine and feces" due distorted perception(viparītasañña). By this you can have idea what the upādāna is.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Atta – Two Very Different Meanings

First, “atta (attā)” is pronounced with the “th” sound, as in “metta (mettā)”. See, #12 of “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1”

Words With Double Meanings in English

1. A number of English words are spelled the same way and pronounced the same way, but have different meanings. For example, let us consider the word, “mine.”

- The word mine is a possessive adjective. For example, “That house is mine” means the house belongs to me.
- Mine is also a noun. It can refer to a place where minerals (coal, gold, etc) are dug out of the earth.
- A mine (or landmine) also refers to a bomb that is buried underground. It can explode when someone steps on it or drives over it. They are used in war.
- There are many other words like that. We need to know which meaning to use based on the context (how it is used). Another simple word is right. It means a direction in “turn right at the traffic light”. But it means something entirely different in, “you are right” meaning “you are correct.”

Atta (and Attā) – Two Very Different Meanings

2. Many Pāli words have double meanings. In addition, many Pāli words have a mundane meaning and a deeper meaning. We need to know which one to use depending on the situation.

- One becomes good at figuring out which meaning is relevant in a given context, only after having a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma. A good understanding comes especially with practice, not merely by reading about Buddha Dhamma.
- That is why it is not a good idea to resort to Pāli dictionaries alone. See, “Pāli Dictionaries – Are They Reliable?“
- Pāli word “atta” has two frequently used meanings. One is the mundane meaning of “person” or “self.” Let us discuss that first.

Atta Meaning “Person” or “Self” in Mundane Usage

3. There are many Tipiṭaka verses, where “atta” means a “person.” The following are several examples.

- “Attānaṃ damayanti paṇḍitā” in Dhammapada verse 6.80 means “The wise persons control themselves”.
- “Attano sukhamicchati” in Dhammapada verse 21.291 means “one seeks one’s own happiness.” Also, note the word iccha (desire) in “sukhamicchati” is “sukham” + “icchati.”
- In the Attadīpa Sutta (SN 22.43), “attadīpā viharatha” means “make an island of yourself,” meaning “one has to seek one’s own refuge.”

Various Wrong Views based on “Person” or “Self”

4. Humans always wondered what it is that feels like “me”. What defines a “me” or a “self” or “attā“? Based on such thinking, they come to various wrong conclusions or wrong views about a “self.”

- In the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) the Buddha described 62 types of wrong views that people have.
- All these wrong views can be divided into primarily two categories (the other views are variations of these two.) In the terminology used today, we can list those two categories as follows.

Permanent Soul (Sassata Vāda): A given person has a permanent soul in Abrahamic religions (or ātma or ātman in Hinduism.) When the physical body dies, “the soul” or “ātma” gets hold of another existence. In Abrahamic religions, that next existence is forever in either heaven or hell. In Hinduism, one may go through many “incarnations” and would finally merge with Mahā Brahma to attain a permanent existence.

Materialistic View (Ucceheda Vāda): When the present life ends, no more future lives or existences. The material body is solely responsible for generating our thoughts (in the brain.) Many scientists today belong to this category.

5. The verse describing sassata vāda: “Tatra, bhikkhave, ye te samaṇabrāhmaṇā sassatavādā sassataṃ attānañca lokañca paññapenti ..”

means, “when those ascetics and brahmins assert that the self and the cosmos are eternal ..”
- Sassata means “eternal.”

The verse describing uccheda vāda: “Tatra, bhikkhave, ye te samaṇabrāhmaṇā ucchedavādā sato sattassa ucchedaṃ vināsaṃ vibhavaṃ paññapenti ..” meaning, “they assert the annihilation of an existing being..”
- Uccheda means to “break off” or “cut off.” Materialists believe that we just live this life.

With the Mundane Meaning of Atta, Anatta is Not Used as Its Opposite

6. Therefore, in ALL of the above cases, the word “atta” refers to what we traditionally call a “self.”

- In simple terms, materialists have the wrong view that a “self” has only this life.
- People in the other camp have the wrong view that a “soul” is forever.
- The Buddha pointed out that both views are wrong. A “self” would come to existence as long as appropriate causes and conditions are there. But there is no “permanent self” like a soul. An Arahant would not be reborn. He/she would have removed those causes and conditions for rebirth.
- In both cases, the word “anatta (or anattā)” is NEVER used to indicate the opposite of attā as a "person". The word “anatta” is NEVER used to indicate that a “self is absent.” For example, in the Ānanda Sutta (SN 44.10) Vacchagotta comes to the Buddha asked “Master Gotama, is it correct to say that there is a “self”?” He used the phrase, “atthi attā” to ask whether there is a “self.” Then he phrased it the opposite way and asked, ” is it not correct to say that there is a “self”?” There he used the phrase, “na atthi attā” to ask whether a “self” does not exist. See, “Anattā (Mundane Interpretation) – No “Unchanging Self”

Now, let us discuss the absolute or paramattha meaning of “attā.” Here, the opposite of attā (or “anatta“) indicates two facts: (i) Any worldly thing does not have an essence. (ii) One would become helpless at the end if one attaches to those worldly things. These meanings need to be used in the context of the three characteristics of nature or Tilakkhana.

Anatta As a Characteristic of Nature – No Essence in Worldly Things

7. This usage of the word “anatta” indicates “no refuge” or “no essence” to refer to THINGS IN THIS WORLD. It could also mean one would become “helpless” at the end if one pursues worldly things with greed or cravings. This involves the deeper meaning of “atta” being “with refuge” or “with essence.”

- One would be safe and protected by overcoming the anatta nature. That is Nibbāna. Only Nibbāna has the “atta” nature.
- In this context, the three words anicca, dukkha, and anatta describe CHARACTERISTICS of this world. They have NOTHING TO DO with the context of a “self” directly.
- In brief, anicca means that “worldly things” cannot be maintained to anyone’s satisfaction in the long-run. Those “worldly things” include not only material things but also mental attributes, among them vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.
- IF someone craves them and attaches to them, then that person will be subjected to future suffering. That comes in two parts. First, one would become distressed because those desires will not be fulfilled at the end. Secondly, if one does immoral actions to get them, then one will have to face bad consequences of such actions (including rebirths in bad existences.)
- Thus, in the end, attachment to worldly things will be of “no essence.” Those struggles would be in vain and are fruitless. One would become helpless by pursuing such efforts.

Anattha and Attha Are Strong Versions of Anatta and Atta

8. I have explained in a previous post that the words “iccha” and “aniccha” have the same meanings as “icca” and “anicca” but with stronger emphasis. See, “Icca, Nicca, Anicca – Important Connections.”

- In the same way, “atta” and “anatta” in the present context have stronger versions indicated by “attha” and “anattha.”
- In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11), the Buddha described a person engaged in kāmasukhallikānuyoga or attakilamathānuyoga as “anatthasaṃhito.”
- The verse at the beginning of the sutta is, “Yo cāyaṃ kāmesu kāmasukhallikānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasaṃhito, yo cāyaṃ attakilamathānuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaṃhito.”
- Here, the word “anatthasaṃhito” (anattha + san + hito) means an anariya or an ignorance average person is helpless because of the wrong views.

9. Furthermore, “attha” also indicates “truth” (“artha” in Sinhala) and “anattha” indicates “untruth or useless” (“anartha” in Sinhala) depending on the context. None of these words are used in the context of a “self.”

- The above verse could also be explained as an anariya engaging in useless activities (either indulging in sense pleasures or going to the other extreme of self-mortification.) Either activity does not have any meaning or essence.

Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Closely Related Characteristics of This World

10. Anicca, dukkha, anatta are CHARACTERISTICS of this world. The word “anatta” in that context DOES NOT mean “no-self” or anything like that. However, a given person can BECOME anatta (helpless) by attaching to things of anicca nature that lead to suffering (dukkha.) But a person with magga phala has overcome that state of “helplessness” and has become an Ariya with refuge (atta.)

- The opposites of anicca, dukha, anatta (ie., nicca, sukha, atta) are characteristics of Nibbāna. See, “Tilakkhana – English Discourses“
- One gets to Nibbāna by renouncing “this world of 31 realms.”
- One attains Nibbāna by first realizing the anicca, dukkha, anatta NATURE of this world. Only then that one would have understood the Four Noble Truths.
- Only then it is possible to grasp that the Fourth Noble Truth of “the path to Nibbāna” is the Noble Eightfold Path. That Noble Path starts with Samma Ditthi, which is the “clear vision” that this world is of anicca, dukkha, anatta NATURE of the world with 31 realms.

“Previously Unheard Dhamma” of the Buddha

11. That is a very succinct description of Buddha Dhamma, the “previously unheard teachings that can only come from a Buddha.”

- The common perception is that one can find long-lasting happiness in this world. That there are so many “mind-pleasing things” in this world worth pursuing. If one makes a determined effort, one can “succeed in life” and “be happy.”
- The Buddha agreed that there are many “mind-pleasing things” in this world.
- But the Buddha taught that there is suffering hidden in those apparent ‘mind-pleasing” things. That hidden suffering is hard to see, and that is why not everyone can understand Buddha Dhamma. Without making a determined effort, it may not be possible.

An Analogy – Assutavā Puthujjano Is Not Different From a Fish Biting Into a Tasty Bait

12. The Buddha gave the following analogy. A fish bites into a tasty bait, because it cannot see the hook hidden in it. The fish only see the “tasty bait” and cannot see the hook, string, fishing pole, and the person holding that pole. If it could see the “whole picture” it would not even go close to that bait.

- In the same way, it is only a Buddha who can “see” the “bigger picture” with the 31 realms with the four suffering-filled realms and the rebirth process. Due to the ignorance of that “wider worldview,” living-beings spend most of the time in those four lowest realms.
- An “assutavā puthujjano” or an “ignorant average human” is unable to see that hidden suffering. That is why most living-beings spend most of their samsaric journey within the four lowest realms. They get trapped there and become helpless. They become “anatta” or “without refuge” at the end. See, “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi – “Me and Mine” View“
- I have discussed those three words in many posts in the section “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta” and also in the recently revised section on “The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha).” It was also discussed with another approach in the “Origin of Life” section. Each person is different and one of those could be appropriate for a given person. In the end, they all converge to the same point and one would be able to see that they are all self-consistent.

Evidence That Anatta Does Not Mean “No-Self”

13. There are many suttā in the Smayutta Nikāya that discuss anicca, dukkha, anatta, and the relationships among them. Specifically SN 22, SN 23, and SN 35.

- For example, Koṭṭhikaanatta Sutta (SN 35.164) states, “Cakkhu kho, koṭṭhika, anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Rūpā anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Cakkhusamphasso anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Yampidaṃ cakkhusamphassapaccayā uppajjati vedayitaṃ sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā tampi anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo …”

Translated: “The eye, sights, eye-consciousness, and eye “san-contact” (samphassa) are without essence: you should give up the desire/cravings for them. The pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling that arises conditioned by eye “san-contact” (samphassa) is also without essence. You should give up the desire for it.”

- That statement is then repeated for the ear, tongue, nose, body, and mind. It applies anything and everything in this world!

Can Eye-Consciousness Have a “Self”?

14. Most other translations state all those entities that I highlighted above are “not-self.” See, “With Koṭṭhita on Not-Self” which states, “The eye, sights, eye-consciousness, and eye contact are not-self..”

- How can eye-consciousness possibly have a “self”? How can eye contact have a “self”? What does it mean to say they have “no-self”? Even a child should be able to see that statement does not make any sense!

Anything In This World Has Anatta Nature

15. In fact, as stated in the sutta in #13 above (and MANY other suttā) ANYTHING that exists in this world is of anatta nature. They are all without any essence.

- It starts with the anicca nature of ALL worldly things. That means no one can maintain anything in this world to one’s satisfaction over the long run.
- But people try to do that impossible task because they crave many things in this world. But in the end, they would only suffer. That is partly because they do immoral deeds to acquire those “things” and end up having to face bad kamma vipāka. The verse “yad aniccaṃ taṃ dukkhaṃ” or the verse, “Yam pi icchaṃ na labhati tam pi dukkhaṃ” expresses that fact.
- That process will gradually move anyone to more and more suffering. One will eventually end up in the apayā with much suffering, and at that point, one would be truly helpless (anatta.) That is what is meant by, “yaṃ dukkhaṃ tad anattā.“
- That verse, “yad aniccaṃ taṃ dukkhaṃ, yaṃ dukkhaṃ tad anattā” appears in numerous suttā in the Tipiṭaka. That is how living-beings become helpless in the rebirth process (by engaging in immoral deeds) in their quest of seeking “sensory pleasures.”
- That is the “previously unheard Dhamma” of the Buddha.
Last edited by Lal on Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:15 pm Can Eye-Consciousness Have a “Self”?

14. Most other translations state all those entities that I highlighted above are “not-self.” See, “With Koṭṭhita on Not-Self” which states, “The eye, sights, eye-consciousness, and eye contact are not-self..”

- How can eye-consciousness possibly have a “self”? How can eye contact have a “self”? What does it mean to say they have “no-self”? Even a child should be able to see that statement does not make any sense!
Atta means subjective, individual. Eye is anatta, not subjective or individual. Other quality of something being anatta is that it can't be commanded, wrote: “Mendicants, the arising of eye consciousness …“Yo kho, bhikkhave, cakkhuviññāṇassa uppādo ṭhiti … pe …jarāmaraṇassa pātubhāvo … pe …
mind consciousness …yo manoviññāṇassa uppādo ṭhiti … pe …
is the manifestation of old age and death.jarāmaraṇassa pātubhāvo.
Sense organ consciousness is appearance of old age and death. So if you can move the eye right now then at that moment eye is ajjhatta, it appears not dead and you can reasonably assume it is not dead thus at that moment it is safe to say it is atta without contradicting Sutta but comprehended it.

It seem you yourself can't understand simple things said in a complicated way.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto » wrote:So let them not identify with the eye, let them not identify in the eye, let them not identify from the eye, let them not identify: ‘The eye is mine.’cakkhuṃ na maññeyya, cakkhusmiṃ na maññeyya, cakkhuto na maññeyya, cakkhu meti na maññeyya;
Let them not identify with sights …rūpe na maññeyya …
. wrote:They regard form as self.rūpaṃ attato samanupassati.
But that regarding is just a conditioned phenomenon.Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, samanupassanā saṅkhāro so.
. wrote: “Koṭṭhita, you should give up desire for what is not-self.“Yo kho, koṭṭhika, anattā tatra te chando pahātabbo.
And what is not-self?Ko ca, koṭṭhika, anattā?

The eye,Cakkhu kho, koṭṭhika, anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo.sights,Rūpā anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo.eye consciousness,Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo.
sakkaya ditthi, identity view.

sankha(countable, visible etc) versus immeasurable, boundless. It means when you use eyes you are using them in a limited way wrote:Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I live unperturbed, with dart drawn out.’Tasmātiha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu cepi ākaṅkheyya ‘anejo vihareyyaṃ vītasallo’ti,
aren't it just refer to the ākāsānañcāyatana and other dimensions.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I am starting on a new series of posts.

Buddhahood Controversies – Introduction


1. Buddhahood is a term that remains mired in controversy. In upcoming posts in this section, I will discuss three topics that have intrigued many people over the years. That will help cultivate faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, Saṅgha.

- The wisdom and capabilities of a Buddha. We will clarify the implications of the three types of knowledge of a Buddha mentioned in #8 below.
- Current scientific knowledge is compatible with most of the “supernormal capabilities” of a Buddha. Scientists have not taken the time to do an in-depth analysis. Of course, most scientists do not know enough about Buddha Dhamma (or physics) to do such an analysis.
- We will also discuss how the teachings of the previous Buddha (Buddha Kassapa) were transmitted as Vedic teachings in distorted form. That is why there are so many common terms in Buddhism and Hinduism, like kamma (karma), jhāna (dhyāna), and even Paṭicca Samuppāda (Pratītyasamutpāda.) Of course, Buddha’s Ānapānasati meditation was misinterpreted as “breath meditation.” All those concepts were there (just like now) at the time of the birth of Prince Siddhattha. We will discuss Tipiṭaka accounts where the Buddha pointed that out.

It is easier for an average human to grasp the mundane meanings (and difficult to grasp the deeper meanings.) That is why periodically those mundane explanations come up disguised as Buddhist teachings as well.

Buddha Is a Title

2. Buddha is a title. Buddha is a human who becomes “Enlightened” or attains the Buddhahood. However, It is necessary to understand his teachings to a higher level to figure out the meaning of the word “Buddha.”

- A Buddha has the “perfect mind.” With a perfect mind, a Buddha knows everything about the world. Even though he lived more than 2500 years ago, he described the universe much of the same way that scientists have found out just within the past 100 years. And he provided many more details about our world (much more than the scientists) as we will discuss.
- One is not born a Buddha. The Buddhahood is attained or achieved. There have been many Buddhā in the past, and there will be many in the future. For example, the Buddha we are discussing now is Buddha Gotama. There was Buddha Kassapa immediately before him (a long time ago) and the next Buddha will be Buddha Maitreya.
- it is a rare occurrence to have a Buddha in the world. Sometimes, billions of years can go by without a Buddha. See #14 of “Pāramitā and Niyata Vivarana – Myths or Realities?” See the note at the end of this post regarding references.
- Before we get into the knowledge of a Buddha, let us discuss some basic facts about Buddha Gotama.

Prince Siddhattha

3. Buddha Gotama was born with the name of Siddhattha (Siddhārtha in Sinhala or Sanskrit) and his parents were Suddhodana and Mahā Māyā. Suddhodana was a king, and Prince Siddhattha was brought up in luxury. For example, in the Mahā Parinibbāna Sutta (DN 10), the Buddha says that he had four palaces for the four seasons. An English translation at, “The Great Discourse on the Buddha’s Extinguishment.”:

- Scattered throughout many suttā in the Digha Nikāya and Majjhima Nikāya are accounts of various stages of the life of the Buddha (before and after Enlightenment.) I will refer to a few below. It is a good idea to read them. Most translations are good enough, especially regarding such life accounts. Only when deep Dhamma concepts are discussed one needs to be careful about the correctness of the translation.
- A brief account of Prince Siddhattha’s life can be found, for example, at “Basic Buddhist Concepts.”: ... ncepts.htm More details — extracted from the Tipiṭaka –at, “A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life – Readings from the Pāli Canon.“:
- At the age of sixteen, Prince Siddhattha married princess Yasodhara. They were happily married for thirteen years and had a son, Rāhula. Yet, Prince Siddhattha was not satisfied. He felt a sense of “discontent” or “dissatisfaction” lingering even while immersed in a luxurious life.
- We will briefly go through a series of events that led to a drastic change in Prince Siddhattha. Those four events are the Four Great Omens.

Four Great Omens

4. On his rare visits outside the palaces, one day Prince Siddhattha saw an old person. He had never seen an old person. His faithful companion, Channa, explained that everyone gets old.

- On a subsequent visit, he saw a sick person and learned that everyone becomes sick. On the third visit, he saw a dead body and was told that one day he would die too. Those three encounters got him to think deeply about life and his discontent with life grew steadily.
- On a subsequent fourth visit outside the palace, the prince saw a recluse, spiritual seeker, and his calm demeanor intrigued the prince. Channa explained to him that there were many recluses like that. They were discontent with life and were in search of a solution to the universal problems associated with life. Those are sicknesses, getting old, and dying.
- As we note below, people at the time of the Buddha were familiar with the concepts of rebirth. Therefore, they knew about the “cycle of suffering in the rebirth process.”
- With the sight of the recluse, prince Siddhattha realized that he would also need to give up the lay-life and pursue the path to end that suffering associated with the perpetual cycle of birth, old age, sicknesses, and death. One dies only to be reborn to go through the same cycle!

Influence of Teachings of Buddha Kassapa

5. Remnants of the teachings of the Buddha Kassapa from the deep past had come down through Vedic teachings. This is a critical point. As we will see later, the Buddha explained that only the mundane interpretations of Buddha Kassapa’s teachings had survived.

- For example, people at that time were quite familiar with the laws of kamma, the rebirth process, five (or eight) precepts, and even Nibbāna. However, Vedic brahmins had used the Sanskrit language to transmit those teachings and used Sanskrit words karma and nirvāna for the Pāli words kamma and Nibbāna.
- In another example, per Tipiṭaka, queen Mahā Māyā had regularly observed eight precepts.
- That is also why there were so many recluses who were trying to figure out the way to Nibbāna (nirvāna), freedom from suffering in the rebirth process. Some of them thought that by cultivating jhāna and getting rebirth in a Brahma realm is nirvāna (or end of suffering.) We will discuss that in the next post.

Renunciation – Becoming a Recluse

6. Shortly after seeing the recluse, Prince Siddhattha left the palace in the middle of the night. Channa led him out on his horse Kanthaka. The prince cut his hair and put on robes suitable for an ascetic. Let us call him ascetic Siddhattha or the Bodhisatta.

- First, the Bodhisatta went to two of the well-known yogis of the day, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta. They taught him all they knew. He was able to get the highest jhāna (Neva­saññā ­nā­ sañ­ñāyata­na) in a short time. Those teachers thought that they had attained Nibbāna.
- But the Bodhisatta realized that one could not get to Nibbāna merely by suppressing defilements (greed, anger, and ignorance) with breath meditation or mundane versions of kasina mediation. He realized attaining Nibbāna requires the removal of defilements for “complete purification.”
- The Buddha has discussed those interactions with Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta in the “Mahāsaccaka Sutta (MN 36),” “Ariyapariyesana Sutta (MN 26)” and various other suttā.
- You can access translations to English and several other languages by clicking the “down arrow” just above the name of the sutta at Sutta Central.

Six Years of Extreme Asceticism

7. After leaving Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, the Bodhisatta tried various methods of subjecting his body to extreme hardships. Other than pursuing mundane jhāna/kasina, many yogis at that time thought one could remove defilements by inflicting such punishments to the body.

- Shortly after leaving Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, the Bodhisatta met five companions, Kondañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assajī. They were impressed with the Bodhisatta‘s determination and were convinced that one day he will become a Buddha.
- By the way, the word Buddha (and Bhagavath) also came down in Vedic teachings. Bhagavad Gita (or “Recitals of Bhagavad”), for example, has many Vedic teachings that originally came from Buddha Kassapa. Of course, most concepts ended up with mundane interpretations.
- For example, “Brahmāyu Sutta (MN 91)” provides a detailed account of brahmin Brahmāyu who was well-versed in the three Vedā (tiṇṇaṃ vedānaṃ pāragū). At the beginning of the sutta, brahmin Brahmāyu recites the qualities of a Buddha: ‘itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavā’ti. Then he sends his pupil to the Gotama Buddha to check whether he has the “thirty-two marks of a great man (dvattiṃsamahāpurisalakkhaṇāni).” How would brahmin Brahmāyu know about the qualities of a Buddha? It had come down in Vedic teachings! It is good to read the English translation: “With Brahmāyu.”:
- During most of those six years, the Bodhisatta subjected his body to various forms of hardship. The Buddha discussed those unimaginable sufferings in several suttā, including the “Mahāsaccaka Sutta (MN 36).”

Enlightenment (Attaining Buddhahood)

8. Finally, the Bodhisatta realized that subjecting the body to suffering is not the way to cleanse the mind of defilements. The Bodhisatta had to undergo six years of unnecessary suffering due to a hard-to-overcome bad kamma that he had committed against Buddha Kassapa. He had verbally abused Buddha Kassapa. I will just provide the link to the English translation of the sutta, MN 81: “With Ghaṭikāra.”:

- On a Full Moon day in May, the Bodhisatta sat at the foot of a Bodhi tree with a firm determination to attain the Buddhahood. The Buddha described the account of the events during that night in the “Bodhirājakumāra Sutta (MN 85)” among several others.

During the night the Buddha achieved three types of higher knowledge:

(I) Ability to recall one’s past lives (pubbe nivāsānussati ñāṇa),
(ii) The ability to see any living being’s cuti (end of bhava) and patisandhi (grasping of a new bhava). This is the cutūpapāta ñāṇa.
(iii) The attainment of the Buddhahood with āsavakkhaya ñāṇa. That involved grasping the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to Nibbāna.

- The Bodhisatta was now a fully-awakened Buddha or a Sammāsambuddha. He had gained knowledge about the wider world of 31 realms, how beings are born in those realms according to Paṭicca Samuppāda, etc. It was not mere speculation. He visited those realms and confirmed his findings, as we will discuss.

Events After the Enlightenment

9. The Vinaya Pitaka provides a detailed account of events following the Enlightenment. Here is the English translation, “1. Going forth (Pabbajjā).” : Another resource is discussed in “The Life of the Buddha” by Bhikkhu Nānamoli” at I highly recommend reading those accounts. It provides a good idea of the initiation of the Buddha Sāsana, or the “ministry of the Buddha.”

- Of course, the translations of some critical Pāli words are not correct there, especially anicca and anatta. That occurs in the account where the five ascetics attain Arahanthood over several days of the discussion of the first two suttā, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11) and the Anattalakkhana Sutta (SN 22.59) as I have discussed in many posts.
- Other than the description of deep Dhamma concepts, most English translations of suttā are good. Accounts on Buddha’s life in many suttā in the Digha Nikāya and Majjhima Nikāya fall into that category.
- However, even then, most translators themselves have doubts about the various abilities of the Buddha. They openly express their doubts even about the validity of the rebirth process, or Buddha’s ability to visit various Deva and Brahma realms (even the existence of such realms), to go through walls, to “touch the Sun and the Moon,” etc. See, “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?“ that was posted earlier at Dhamma Wheel on Jul 28, 2019 (p. 73).

The Buddha stated that he never taught anything that he had not verified by himself. Buddha Dhamma is not philosophy. Most “experts” who express such opinions are not even true Buddhists (in the sense of comprehending deep concepts in Buddha Dhamma.) They are “secular Buddhists” who do not believe in rebirth, the FOUNDATION of Buddha Dhamma. Furthermore, they have no background in science (particularly in physics), and do not realize that many “mystical phenomena” are not contradictory to modern physics!

Note on references: As I had mentioned before, I am going to save some time for me by not providing links for posts at The easiest way to find a given post is to just copy the title and enter that in the "Search" box at the top right of The first search result is normally the post in question. Furthermore, one can also see other relevant posts for those keywords. The "Search" function strips off irrelevant words like "and", "the" etc.
- Some of those posts have also been posted here at Dhammawheel.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part I

Pāṭihāriya (prātihārya in Sanskrit and ප්‍රාතිහාර්ය in Sinhala) is a supernormal ability or a miracle. Several suttā in the Tipiṭaka discuss them.

Kevaṭṭa Sutta (DN 11)

1. I will extract a few relevant portions of the text from the English translation, “To Kevaṭṭa (DN 11).”: I did not choose the other English translation since it translated “pāṭihāriya” as “a demonstration” rather than a “miracle.” Anyone can do a demonstration. A pāṭihāriya can be performed only by someone with “supernormal capabilities”. As we will see below, these powers are mind-boggling!

- At the beginning of the sutta, Kevaṭṭa, a young householder, comes to the Buddha and says the Buddha should instruct his disciples to perform “miracles” to convince more people to embrace Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha refuses, but explains that there are three types of “miracles.”
- The Buddha replies: “Kevaṭṭa, there are three types of miracles which I have taught, having myself understood and realized them. And what are the three? The miracle of psychic power, the miracle of telepathy, and the miracle of instruction.”

The Miracle of Psychic Power (iddhi Pāṭihāriya)

2. “And what, Kevaṭṭa, is the miracle of psychic power (iddhi pāṭihāriya)?

“Here, Kevaṭṭa, a monk wields various psychic powers: He becomes many and then becomes one again. He appears and vanishes, goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He can dive in and out of the Earth as if it were water, and he walks on water without sinking as if it were Earth. Sitting cross-legged, he travels through space like a winged bird. He can touch and stroke the Sun and the moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises mastery as far as the Brahma-world.”

(The above verse explaining supernormal abilities appears in many suttā, including DN 2, DN 10, DN 28, MN 6, MN 73, MN 77, SN 12.70, SN 16.9, SN 51.11, SN 51.17, AN 3.60, AN 3.101, AN 5.23, AN 6.2, AN 10.97)

- Then the Buddha points out to Kevaṭṭa, that someone who has learned the “Gandhāra Charm” (“Gandhāra Trick” would be a better translation) can do some of that too. That is why the Buddha prohibited the display of such abilities. (Apparently, Gandhāra Trick can be compared to the “magic tricks” performed by magicians like David Copperfield today. However, the Gandhāra Trick seems to be much more powerful than any magic tricks performed today.)

The Miracle of Telepathy (Ādesanā Pāṭihāriya)

3. “And what, Kevaṭṭa, is the miracle of telepathy (ādesanā pāṭihāriya)?

- “Here, a monk reads the minds of other beings, of other people, reads their mental states, their thoughts, and ponderings, and says: ‘That is how your mind is, that is how it inclines, that is in your heart.'”
- Then the Buddha points out that those who have mastered the “Manika Charm” can read other people’s minds as well. Therefore, that also is not impressive.

The Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsanī Pāṭihāriya)

4. “And what, Kevaṭṭa, is the miracle of instruction (anusāsanī pāṭihāriya)?

- “Here, Kevaṭṭa, a monk teaches in this way: ‘Reason in this way, do not reason in that way. Consider this and not that. Get rid of this habit, train yourself, and live life like that.’ This, Kevaṭṭa, is what is called ‘The miracle of instruction.’
- The Buddha goes on to explain in great detail the fruits of such instructions by a learned bhikkhu who has learned Dhamma from the Buddha. How he learns to live a moral life and to cultivate Ariya jhāna by REMOVING defilements. Then the Buddha explains that SOME OF THEM can cultivate all those supernormal powers mentioned above as well.
- First, let us look at the scope and implications of the “psychic powers” (iddhi bala.) All these are performed by a purified mind.

Psychic Powers (Iddhi Pāṭihāriya) – Unimaginable

5. Technological advances drive modern society. Scientists have studied properties of MATTER in great detail and have used those new findings to create “innovative devices” that help us work more efficiently. For example, they can build robotic machines that can do a lot of work that cannot be done by humans.

- So, it is indeed a “miracle” that Ven. Cūḷapanthaka created a thousand “copies” of himself to do work around the temple. Once the work is complete, he can make them disappear. That is what is referred to as “He becomes many and then becomes one again” in #2 above. Relevant information on Ven. Cūḷapanthaka at, “Cūḷapanthaka” and “Dhammapada Verse 25 – Cūlapantaka Vatthu.” ... verse=025a
- Let us discuss a few more of these “miracles” to see how amazing they are.

Traveling Through the Air With Physical Body

6. Another modern technological advance is to be able to travel long distances with cars, airplanes, and rockets. These became possible due to the collective efforts of many thousands of scientists starting from the time of Galileo and Newton, over 300 years ago.

- However, as stated in the above accounts of Ven. Cūḷapanthaka, traveling through the air with one’s physical body is possible after cultivating iddhi bala. That is what is referred to as, “Sitting cross-legged, he travels through space like a winged bird” in #2 above.

7. All these “psychic powers” have their basis in highly concentrated energy produced in the javana citta of the yogi. Yes. even other yogis at the time of the Buddha had cultivated SOME of these powers via cultivating anariya jhāna. They could, for example, travel through the air carrying their physical bodies.

- As we know, javana cittā generate kammic energies that lead to future births. See, “Javana of a Citta – The Root of Mental Power.”
- The intensity or the power of javana citta can be vastly increased for those who have cultivated pāṭihāriyā powers. Such a yogi can set up an “energy field” around his physical body, and that energy-field can be controlled to move the physical body as he wishes.
- The video below demonstrates the basic idea of “electromagnetic levitation.” A yogi would create such an “energy field” around his body and control it to move the body.

- By the way, these days one can buy various “levitating things” like “levitating globes.”

Traveling to a Star System “In an Instant” – With Manomaya Kāya

8. The closest star (possibly with a set of planets) to us is four light-years away. That means if a rocketship travels at the speed of light, it would take four years to get there. For comparison, the distance from the Earth to our Moon would take only 1.5 SECONDS. Therefore, a rocketship traveling at the speed of light will take only 1.25 SECONDS to arrive at the Moon! But our rocketships take about 3 days to get to the Moon. Therefore, with a modern rocketship, it would take about 600 YEARS to get to the NEAREST star.

- The capabilities of the Buddha (and some of his disciples with pāṭihāriyā powers) can be truly astounding. The Buddha could travel anywhere among the 10,000 “world-systems” (dasasahassi lokadhātu). A “world-system” is a set of planets associated with a star, where one planet would have life. In our “Solar system,” the Sun is the star, and life is based on Earth. See, “31 Realms Associated with the Earth.”
- Therefore, it is mind-boggling to even imagine someone traveling to a star that is thousands of light-years away in an instant. Of course, the Buddha would travel such vast distances only with his “mental body” (manōmaya kāya or gandhabba.)
- By the way, Brahmā from such 10,000 world-systems can visit Earth too. They have “bodies” that are equivalent to our mental bodies. They do not have dense physical bodies. Brahmā from the 10,000 world-systems came to listen to the first discourse of the Buddha, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.
- Many suttā state that the Buddha would arrive in a Brahma world within the time taken for someone to straighten a bent arm, i.e., less than a second! That is how Brahmā from other world systems came to listen to Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. “Brahma bodies” are almost equivalent to manōmaya kāya of a gandhabba. (In comparison, a modern rocketship takes three days to get to the Moon.)
- Nothing analogous to such fast travel has been even discussed in modern physics yet. I suspect that this is related to the recently established “non-locality” (or “quantum entanglement”) in quantum mechanics: “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma – Introduction.

Going Through Walls, Mountains, etc.

9. Compared to “traveling through air with the physical body” discussed in #6,#7 above, a much more complex technique comes into play when “going through walls or diving into the Earth.” I have not seen such an action attributed to anariya yogis. In this case, one breaks down the physical body to the elementary level of suddhāṭṭhaka.

“Matter” is mostly empty space. An atom is virtually empty. This basic idea is illustrated in the first 3 minutes of the following video.

“Solid Matter” Is Mostly Empty Space!

10. We can get an idea about “how empty” and atom is, by just watching the first 3 minutes of the above video. As shown there, an atom is more than 99.999% empty!

- Then why is it that we cannot go through a wall? The answer is that two atoms cannot get too close to each other due to electromagnetic forces. That is not discussed in the above video. In a solid, two atoms cannot come too close, because the outer “electron cloud” of one atom will repel that of the second atom. Therefore, even a steel bar is mostly empty space.
- However, the Buddha taught that matter can be reduced a level below that of electrons and protons. That is the suddhāṭṭhaka level where there are no electromagnetic interactions (like the repulsion among electrons.) All the “material stuff” in a physical body can be reduced to an invisible suddhāṭṭhaka level. Scientists now know that an atom is divisible to smaller parts. The recently detected Higgs boson could be at the suddhāṭṭhaka level.
- But scientists cannot reduce bulk matter to the suddhāṭṭhaka level. Moreover, they cannot take an object like an apple, break it down to below the atomic level, and then put it all back together. But one with high-end iddhi powers can do that!
- Such a yogi can reduce one’s own body to the suddhāṭṭhaka level, move it all to another location very quickly and then put it back together! This was discussed in a bit more different way in #6 through #10 in the post, “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?“ that I posted on Jul 28, 2019 (p. 73): ... 26#p523126
- That approach of reducing the “material stuff” in a body to a form that can be transported to far destinations at high speed and then “re-assembling” back to the original form is part of science fiction these days, see “teleportation.”: I remember watching the popular movie “The Fly (1986 film).”: In that movie, a fly gets into the “teleportation machine” with the human, and the “re-assembly” at the other end produced a “human fly”!

Comparison With Modern Technology

11. As we can begin to see, modern science and Buddha Dhamma have two very different approaches for dealing with even material phenomena. Science is exclusively based on the study of inert matter. Buddha Dhamma can explain material properties in terms of mental phenomena. Of course, the scientists are still way behind the Buddha.

- From what we discussed above, just think about one comparison. While the Buddha was able to visit Deva and Brahma worlds within a split-second, scientists have only made it to the Moon and that takes three days.
- The scientists are not even aware of the existence of Deva and Brahma realms.
- Deva and Brahma realms are up there above the Earth. They have very little “matter” and that is why scientists cannot see them or their habitats. Our rocketships can go through their habitats without them even noticing it.
- The closest analogy that we have is the depiction of a gandhabba in the 1990 movie “Ghost.’ See, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept” on Jan 18, 2020: ... start=1155 We can get a good idea of why we cannot see Devā or Brahmā (or their habitats) from watching that movie. Devā or Brahmā have “bodies” even more subtle compared to a human gandhabba.
- Unless the scientists can figure out how to implement teleportation, they will not be able to even travel to the nearest star with rocketships. The “mind-based” technique of the Buddha is based on a different paradigm.
- In the Sīsapāvana Sutta (SN 56.31), Buddha stated that he taught only a small fraction of what he knew. See, “In a Rosewood Forest.”:
- There is no need to study or learn about iddhi pāṭihāriya in detail. I am providing this account to establish the following point. By controlling the mind, even a single person can get ahead of many hundreds of years of scientific effort. We will discuss the other two “miracles” in the next post.

Additional Resources

1. There is a Wikipedia article, “Miracles of Gautama Buddha.“: ... ama_Buddha

2. The above video is the second of a series of videos. More information on atoms in the following set of videos:

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part II


1. A different paradigm involves controlling material phenomena in Buddha Dhamma compared to modern science. For example, scientists have developed rocket technology to travel to the Moon. The Buddha was able to travel much further and much faster with “mind power” 2600 years ago. We discussed some examples in the previous post; see, “Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part I.”

- The mind-based approach of Buddha Dhamma is much more powerful. Such unimaginable powers MAY ARISE automatically by just cleansing or purifying one’s mind. However, only certain people can develop such abilities to control material phenomena. They had cultivated such powers in recent past lives.
- What is the use of being able to fly through the air like a bird or being able to travel to the Sun instantly and touch it if one is to born as an animal or worse in a future life?
- Controlling material phenomena is of no use to get a resolution to the universal problem of suffering associated with the rebirth process.
- That is why the Buddha explained to Kevaṭṭa that the miracle of instruction is the most important. Only a Buddha or a true disciple of the Buddha can provide such guidance as to how one can understand the problem of saṃsāric suffering and learn how to overcome it.

The Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsana Pāṭihāriya)

2. In the Kevaṭṭa Sutta (DN 11), the Buddha explains to Kevaṭṭa that a Buddha (Tathāgata) arises in the world with the perfect knowledge about the world. Then anyone could learn his teachings and follow them to reach full release from future suffering via attaining Nibbāna (Arahanthood.) The Buddha in that sutta describes the steps a Bhikkhu would go through, but the process is similar (and less strict) for a lay-follower.

- He would Iive a moral life, abstaining from killing/hurting other living-beings, without using improper forms of speech, and also controlling greed and anger. Most of all, he would learn the true nature of this world and remove many ingrained wrong views about this world. See, “Micchā Diṭṭhi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage.”
- Most of the first half of the sutta describes the recommended (more strict) lifestyle of a bhikkhu. It is a good idea to read the second half starting with the section on “Restraint of the Sense Faculties.” See the English translation, “To Kevaṭṭa (DN 11).”
- The Buddha advised a “middle-of-the-way” lifestyle that is away from both making one’s body to hardships AND indulgence in sense pleasures.
While following the Buddha’s path, some people may also attain the ability to control material phenomena with psychic power (iddhi pāṭihāriya.) Let us specifically discuss that briefly now.

What Are Iddhi?

3. Iddhi means “to cultivate” or to “grow” or “to make better.”

- Those “supernormal” abilities that we discussed in the previous post result from cultivating four mental capabilities (Cattāro Iddhipādā.) They are chanda (desire for spiritual development/to attain Nibbāna,) citta (the mindset for that goal,) viriya (the effort,) and vīmaṃsā (figuring out the way by investigating.) The “Vibhaṅga Sutta (SN 51.20)” discusses those factors in detail. It is a good idea to read the English translation there and also “Iddhipada-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of the Bases of Power.”
- Note that chanda here does not refer to the desire for sensual pleasures (icchā.) Instead, it relates to a yearning for spiritual progress (for anariya yogis) and the desire to attain Nibbāna for those who are on the Noble Eightfold Path.
- While anariaya yogis can attain some supernormal powers, those achieved by Ariyā (Noble Persons with magga phala) are much more potent or powerful. Furthermore, an anariya yogi could lose those abilities (just like the ability to get into anariya jhāna) even in this lifetime.

Anariya Iddhi Powers Are Temporary

4. The Tipiṭaka account of Devadatta clearly illustrates this point. He was able to cultivate anariya jhāna and had developed some supernormal powers (iddhi) as well.

- By performing some supernormal tasks, Devadatta was able to impress Prince Ajātasattu. Having assumed the form of a young boy clad in a girdle of snakes, he appeared in Prince Ajātasattu’s lap. Prince Ajātasattu was highly impressed and became a devout follower. Devadatta started thinking about “replacing Buddha to lead the order of Saṅgha.” With that thought, Devadatta lost his supernormal capabilities.
- Still, Devadatta did not lose his ambition to “become the Buddha.” Later on, he tried to take the life of the Buddha in several attempts. In the end, he was born in an apāya.
- The details are in the section starting with “The story of Devadatta” at, “Schism in an Order (Saṅghabheda).”: It is a long read up to the end of the post, but it is worthwhile.

What Is the Basis of Such Iddhi Powers?

5. This is where we start understanding the basis of “mental power.”

- A mind burdened with greed, anger, and ignorance (about the real nature of this world) has no “strong and beneficial” abilities. Instead, such minds create “dark kammic energies,” leading to unpleasant kamma vipāka in general and also rebirths in “bad realms.” We know that those undesired realms are the apāyā or the four lowest realms. The Pali terms for those three bad causes are lobha, dosa, moha.
- If a mind is absent from those three primary defilements, then actions (kamma) by such a “non-contaminated mind” create “clean kammic energies.” Those lead to good kamma vipāka and rebirths in the 27 “good realms” lying at and above the human realm. In the absence of lobha, dosa, and moha, a mind creates kammic energies with, of course, alobha, adosa, amoha. Those are the three good causes.

Births in the Four Lowest Realms Arise Due to Actions with Lobha, Dosa, Moha

6. The “dark energies” associated with thoughts associated with lobha, dosa, moha create “kammic energies” that can bring births (jāti) in the apāyā. Those energies are “bhava” in the Paṭicca Samuppāda process. Therefore, “bhava paccayā jāti” means a “bad bhava” leads to a corresponding “bad birth.”

- With the more robust the level of ignorance (moha,) the easier it is to do the seven akusala kammā. Those are false, hurtful, deceitful, and vain speech and killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct.
- A mind that free of lobha, dosa, moha (i.e., with alobha, adosa, amoha) is a “moral mind”. It would know the difference between moral deeds and immoral deeds. In particular, it would try to avoid the seven akusala kammā done with speech and bodily actions.

Births Above the Human Realm Arise Due to Actions with Alobha, Adosa, Amoha

7. There are 26 realms above the human realm (six Deva, sixteen rupāvacara Brahma, and four arupāvacara Brahma realms.) Such births arise due to bhava energies created with thoughts devoid of greed and anger. Here deep ignorance or moha is absent and, thus, amoha. However, as we will see, there is still ignorance about the true nature of the world (avijjā) left in mind.

- In other words, births in the 26 “good realms” arise due to the three root causes of alobha, adosa, amoha.
Because of that, lives in those realms are relatively free of harsh sufferings.
- If we look at the lifetimes of those realms, they become longer for higher realms. See, “31 Realms of Existence.”
- The human realm is also “good,” but there is significant suffering too. So, we need to treat the human realm differently from the other 30 realms. We discuss that now.

The Human Realm is Unique

8. Human births could arise due to combinations of all six root causes.

- There are three main types of humans. Some have tihetuka births, meaning that particular human birth was due to a kamma with the three “good roots” of alobha, adosa, amoha. Another set of humans have only two good roots (dvihetuka births), either alobha/amoha or adosa/amoha. The third type has only one good root of amoha. Those are ahetuka births because they are “unfortunate births.” (The word “ahetuka” here does not mean the absence of even a single good root)
- It is not possible to distinguish between tihetuka and dvihetuka births. But it is relatively easy to identify ahetuka births because they have little intelligence.
- All three types of humans experience both good and bad kamma. Even tihetuka people can come down with disease or injury. Even though the Deva realms also belong to the kāma loka (just like the human realm,) the bodies of Devā are not dense enough to cause any diseases/injuries.
- The root causes and how they lead to rebirths discussed in, “Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna).”

Second Uniqueness of the Human Realm

9. The human realm is also unique in the following way. Most rebirths are determined while in the human realm. Then they spend the lives in either lower or higher realms until the corresponding kamma vipāka are “paid off.” For example, a given human may do some bad deeds suitable for births in apāya but may change the lifestyle and cultivate jhāna. So, he/she would have created both good and bad bhava. Since developing a jhāna is an anantariya kamma, a Brahma birth will come at his/her death. But unless he/she had attained a magga phala, a birth in an apāya will result after exhausting time in the Brahma realm.

- As we remember from the post, “Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27),” a newly-formed Earth would be entirely populated by humans (with Brahma-like subtle bodies.) But with time, cravings arise due to anusaya, and those with “bad gati” will be reborn in lower realms. If a Buddha does not appear in a given eon, most humans end up in the lower realms sooner. It is a complex issue.
- More details on anusaya at, “Āsava, Anusaya, and Gati (Gathi).”

Living-Beings in Lower Realms Have Denser Bodies in General

10. In general, living-beings in the kāma loka (four lower realms, the human realm, and six Deva realms) have dense bodies with five sense faculties. In most cases, sensing odors, tastes, and bodily-touches REQUIRE dense bodies.

- Most living-beings have a craving for those “close-proximity” sense pleasures. They like to eat tasty foods, smell sweet odors, and to engage in sex. As long as a living-being does not lose cravings, they WILL NOT be free from the kāma loka. Now, some may cultivate anariya jhāna and be born in a Brahma realm but will return to the human realm at the end of that life.
- As we mentioned earlier, Devā do enjoy such ‘close contacts,” but those contacts are “softer.” In Pali, the word “olarika” implies “close contacts with dense bodies in human and lower realms.” In the Deva realms, the contacts and bodies are “sukuma” or softer. Devā also can be born in the apāyā after they exhaust their Deva lifetimes.

The Journey Among the 31 Realms Is Perpetual

11. The above process has been going on for any of us from a time that is not possible to trace back. That is the saṃsāric journey or the rebirth process.

- Unfortunately, most of those births are in the four lower realms or apāyā. But, of course, we would not know all this unless we learn it from a Buddha or a disciple of the Buddha.
- The “suffering” in the First Noble Truth is the harsh suffering in the apāyā. Any pain and suffering that we FEEL NOW are due to past causes. We need to use appropriate medical treatments to alleviate such suffering.
- The First Noble Truth of Suffering refers to the harsh FUTURE suffering associated with the rebirth process. The good news is that the Buddha also explained how to stop that future suffering.

The Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsana Pāṭihāriya) of a Buddha

12. The above description of the real nature of our world with 31 realms and a beginning-less rebirth process is not known to the world in the absence of a Buddha. Only a Buddha can discover them and explain it to the world. Furthermore, a Buddha also provides instructions on how to stop the perpetual suffering in the rebirth process.

- Those two aspects involve the “Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsana Pāṭihāriya)” of a Buddha.
- The other two “miracles” of psychic powers and telepathy are just two byproducts. But, as the Buddha told Kevaṭṭa in the Kevaṭṭa Sutta (DN 11), those are not that different from “magic tricks.” They are real and not magic, as I have explained in “Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part I” and “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism? ” Still, they are not of long-term value.
- What is the use of being able to fly through the air like a bird or being able to travel to the Sun instantly and touch it if one is to born as an animal or worse in a future life?
- In the same way, what is the use of accumulation of billions of dollars in this life, only to be reborn an animal in a future life?
- This is why the Buddha advised us to focus on attaining Nibbāna. At least the Sotapanna stage of Nibbāna.
- We will focus on the “Miracle of Instruction of a Buddha” in the upcoming posts. Then it will become apparent, from yet another angle, the uniqueness of Buddha Dhamma.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I will start a new series of posts on "Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach."

Introduction – A Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma

A Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma

1. Buddha Dhamma is the Grand Unified Theory (a theory that explains everything about this world) that scientists are seeking. They do not realize it because the correct version of it, with its deeper aspects, has not been available in English. There are two major relevant points.

- First, scientists will never get to a Grand Unified Theory until they realize that mental phenomena must be a part of such a theory. Modern science only focuses on just “material phenomena.” The reason is the following incorrect assumption by them: Psychological (mental) aspects arise from matter. The Buddha taught that it is the other way around: Mind is the forerunner of ALL phenomena, mental and material.
- The second point is the following. When scientists propose a brand new theory, they just use a set of assumptions. Some assumptions (axioms) are revolutionary and opposed by other scientists at the beginning. We will discuss such a prominent case below. The point is that they are not starting off with a truly essential set of axioms that cover mental as well as physical phenomena.

I will use the standard scientific method in this series of posts. I will start with a set of “assumptions,” even though those are NOT ASSUMPTIONS for a Buddha. Upon attaining the Buddhahood, a Buddha DISCOVERS those fundamental laws of Nature.

What Is a Scientific Approach?

2. Most of the time, science makes progress in a gradual step-by-step way. An existing scientific theory is “tweaked” to get a better agreement with new experimental results.

- However, In some cases, scientists come with “previously unheard” theories to explain new observations. Most other scientists are first skeptical about such a drastically new approach. But if it turns out to be able to explain observations, then it becomes accepted over time.
- Such a “revolutionary change” is a paradigm change. A good example is theories on atomic structure. There, paradigm changes happened twice within the past 100 years, as we will see below.

Western Theories of the Atom Started with Democritus

3. Around the time of the Buddha, Democritus (400 B.C.E.) proposed that all matter is made of indivisible particles called atoms. But nothing much was known about atoms at that time.

- Democritus just assumed that if one keeps cutting in half a piece of a given material (say, an aluminum foil), it will reach a stage where it would not be possible to cut. That ultimate “indivisible” unit, he called an “atom.”
- That picture has changed drastically over the years, especially within the past 150 years or so.
- Of course, Buddha’s ultimate unit of matter was a suddhāṭṭhaka. It is also electrically-neutral, just as Democritus’ atom. However, a mind can create a suddhāṭṭhaka with javana citta. A suddhāṭṭhaka is a billionth times smaller than an atom in modern science. See, “The Origin of Matter – Suddhāṭṭhaka.”

Modern Theories of the Atom

4. John Dalton, in 1803, proposed a modern theory of the atom. He suggested that different materials are made of different atoms and that a given atom cannot be broken down into smaller parts.

- For example, an oxygen atom would be eight times bigger than a hydrogen atom, but an oxygen atom CANNOT be made by combining eight hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen and oxygen have different types of “building blocks” or different atoms.
- Dalton was able to make some progress with his model.

Plum-Pudding Model of the Atom by J. J. Thomson

5. In the late 1800s, there were many experiments on electrical discharges. J. J. Thomson discovered that negatively-charged electrons could be removed from an atom. Since atoms are electrically neutral, in 1904, he proposed that an atom is made of a positively-charged material with electrons embedded in it.

- That is analogous to plums embedded in a pudding. Thus, it came to be known as the “plum-pudding model” of an atom. See, “Plum Pudding Model” for that model of an atom.
- The following video illustrates this point:

- Therefore, the indivisibility of the atom was no longer accepted. Yet, Thomson’s model still preserved one aspect of the original model of Democritus. An atom could be visualized as a “single unit” with two kinds of particles packed together. Later on, a neutral particle (neutron) was also found to be inside an atom.

Rutherford’s Discovery of Mass-Concentrated Nucleus

6. Soon after that another English physicist, Ernest Rutherford, directed small alpha particles (much smaller than an atom) to a thin gold foil. He observed that most particles went right through the foil. However, some got deflected and a few even bounced back. It appeared that the atoms were mostly empty space, but there was something dense and small in there that bounced off some of the projectile particles.

- Based on those experiments, Rutherford, in 1911, proposed a radically new theory of the atom. He proposed that the positively-charged component of an atom be in a tiny volume in comparison to the rest of the atom. That central volume also contained the bulk of the mass of the atom. This region would be known as the “nucleus” of the atom. Negatively-charged electrons would be outside that nucleus, but Rutherford did not propose a model for that “outer layer” of the atom with electrons.

Bohr’s Planetary Model of the Atom

7. In 1913, Niels Bohr came up with another paradigm change for atomic structure. He purposed that the electrons “revolved around” a tiny nucleus, a small core that contained all the protons. That is similar to the structure of the Solar System, where the planets revolve around the Sun.

- Thus, some called it the “planetary model” another name for the “Bohr Model.” : planetary model of the atom was able to explain many experimental observations.

- Atoms of different materials have different numbers of protons (and electrons). For example, a hydrogen atom has one proton in the nucleus and one electron moving around it. An oxygen atom has eight protons and eight electrons, etc. 
- However, Bohr’s planetary model unable to explain a growing number of other observations.

Quantum Mechanics

8. In the end, the planetary model of the atom was replaced by another change of paradigm. That was the modern quantum mechanical treatment of the atom. It was first postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1925, using Heisenberg’s matrix mechanics.

- Many other scientists including Einstein, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schrödinger contributed to the development and refinement of the new quantum theory. They postulated the occurrence of energy in discrete quantities (quanta) in order to explain phenomena such as the spectrum of black-body radiation, the photoelectric effect, and the stability and spectra of atoms. Thus the name “quantum mechanics.”
- In quantum theory, the position of an electron in an orbital cannot be specified. One could only calculate the likelihood of an electron being at a given location. It is known as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. See, “Copenhagen interpretation.”:
- That is the accepted theory at present. However, there are still many unresolved issues in quantum mechanics. Even though it is able to calculate the results of ANY experiment, it is “too abstract” for many, including Einstein. The current position is summarized by the sentence “Shut up and calculate!” as discussed in the above post, “Copenhagen interpretation.” I have discussed a new interpretation of quantum mechanics, “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma – Introduction.”

Ability to Explain Observations – Primary Requirement of a Scientific Theory

9. The determining factors of a scientific theory are the ability to explain observations and self-consistency. It does not matter how crazy the new theory appears to be, as long as it meets those two criteria. As we saw above, quantum theory is accepted today despite not being an “understandable” theory.

- In fact, as long as a theory fulfills those criteria, objections by even the most prominent scientists cannot prevent a good theory from taking hold.
- For example, Einstein opposed quantum theory. He tried to come up with a “better explanation” until he died. Despite his objections, quantum theory became firmly established.
- Quantum theory, in its current form, is incomprehensible to even many scientists. The problem is that it is just a mathematical tool to make calculations. Even physicists do not have an “intuitive grasp” of the underlying aspects of quantum mechanics.

Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma

10. In this section, we will use the above discussed “scientific approach.” We will start with the “new theory about the world” put forth by the Buddha. It was a revolutionary theory 2600 years ago and still remains a revolutionary theory today.

- Just like even Einstein was unable to come to terms with the quantum theory, many people today find it difficult to comprehend Buddha Dhamma.
- However, much of the current confusion lies in the fact that many people are not aware of the “full and complete theory” of Buddha Dhamma. They have seen only parts of Buddha’s theory and conclude that those ideas are too “esoteric” or “mystical.”
- Yet, unlike quantum mechanics, anyone can understand Buddha Dhamma, if the basic principles are understood.
- I hope that by presenting a “complete theory” using a “bottom-up approach” we can take a fresh perspective of some concepts like kamma, rebirth, and Nibbāna.

The Necessary Components of Buddha Dhamma

11. We need to convince ourselves of the validity of the basic concepts in Buddha Dhamma before being able to comprehend the deeper teachings like Paṭicca Samuppāda, Tilakkhana (anicca, dukkha, anatta,) and the Four Noble Truths.

- Those basic concepts (equivalent to “assumptions” or “axioms” in scientific theories) are the laws of kamma, the existence of 31 realms, and the rebirth process within those realms.
- However, those concepts are not assumptions. They are laws of Nature, discovered by a Buddha. When one starts understanding (and practicing) Buddha Dhamma, one will see the truth of that statement.


1. Wikipedia article, “Scientific method“:

2. Here is another video that provides a somewhat different perspective of the evolution of theories of atoms:

Note: I am going to save some time for me by not providing links for posts at The easiest way to find a given post is to just copy the title and enter that in the "Search" box at the top right of The first search result is normally the post in question. Furthermore, one can also see other relevant posts for those keywords. The "Search" function strips off irrelevant words like "and", "the" etc.
- Some of those posts have also been posted here at Dhammawheel.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Theories of Our World - Scientific Overview

We will first briefly discuss three main “theories” about our world. Then we will start a broader discussion of Buddha’s description of this world.

Our World – According to Modern Science

1. Western science has been studying our world since the time of the ancient Greeks. But its focus has been on the material world. There have been investigations on TWO fronts. The structure of matter and the origin of life.

- Investigations on the structure of matter started with Socrates and Aristotle. As discussed in the previous post, Democritus proposed the first atomic theory, and it has evolved into current studies on quantum physics. See, “Introduction – A Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma” and Ref. 1 below.
- The second front is on the origin of life or the study of the living world. That includes plants and conscious life. See, “History of biology.” : Modern science believes that living cells evolved FROM inert matter (“abiogenesis.”) See Ref. 2 for more details.
- Both conscious and non-conscious (plant) life have living cells as the basis. See, “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin.” posted on Jun 29, 2019: ... 55#p518755
- There is a separate area of research looking into the question of how consciousness (or mental phenomena) can arise from inert matter. See “Consciousness.”: As discussed there, modern science CANNOT explain the origin of conscious life.

Our World – Religious Explanation

2. Of course, the other prevailing explanation of the origin of life is that a Creator created the whole world, including all the stars, planets, our Earth, and the first forms of life on Earth.

- Even though easiest to state, this explanation has no factual basis. One HAS TO accept it based purely on the faith of a Creator.
- See, for example, “Evidence for Creation.”:

Our World – Buddhist Explanation

3. Even though Buddha Dhamma (commonly known as Buddhism) is normally considered a religion, it is NOT a religion in the sense described in #2. It can be treated as a scientific theory, as we will do in this series of posts.

- Buddha Dhamma provides a complete description of our world.
- However, the Buddha did not try to provide detailed descriptions of material phenomena. He taught that finding out such details will only take precious time away from the urgent need to find the truth about the unimaginable suffering associated with the rebirth process.
- Therefore, much of the Sutta Piṭaka and the Vinaya Piṭaka focus on the “problem of suffering” and how to stop future suffering in the rebirth process.
- As we know, Buddha’s teachings are contained in three Piṭaka or Tipiṭaka. The third one, Abhidhamma Piṭaka, describes in great detail the building blocks of our world. That includes both material (rupa) and mental (citta and cetasika) aspects. If one is interested in figuring out those details, not in the other two Piṭaka, one needs to understand the Abhidhamma material.
- However, it is not necessary to go to great depths of Abhidhamma to get an idea about the underlying principles. In the upcoming posts, we will do such a simplified analysis. That discussion will augment the series of posts on “Origin of Life” starting on Jun 29, 2019: ... 55#p518755

Overview of Modern Science

4. The focus of modern science is on figuring out the origin and the behavior of matter. Scientists consider mental phenomena to be secondary and to arise from inert matter! Most scientists believe that mental phenomena arise in the brain.

- There are several proposals on how the mind (or thoughts) can arise from matter. But there is no credible theory that comes even close to begin to explain it. See “Consciousness”:
- A critical outcome of this approach is that modern science falls under the “annihilation view” (uccheda diṭṭhi.) That wrong view says that life ENDS at the death of the physical body.

Evidence Against Proposed Scientific Theories of the Mind

5. Since mental phenomena are supposed to arise in the brain, that conclusion (in red in #4) leads to two critical implications.

- The death of the brain — thus the death of a human — is the ABSOLUTE end of that life. There no way to “transfer” the memories of one life to another. Thus, the rebirth process is COMPLETELY ruled out in modern science.
- Furthermore, it also RULES OUT the possibility of Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) including Near-Death Experiences (NDE.)
Let us briefly discuss evidence regarding those three areas.

Evidence from Rebirth Accounts

6. I will just provide one account here. In their book, “Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot”, by Bruce and Andrea Leininger detail the amazing story of their son’s recount of a past life.

Here is a recent youtube video on it:

- More rebirth accounts discussed in, “Evidence for Rebirth” at

Evidence from Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE)

7. In his book, “Travels,” the famous author of the Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton (1988, p. 307) mentions his ability to “shift my awareness out of my body and move it around the bedroom,” and he says, “..I didn’t think anything about it… I assumed that anybody could do it..”.

- A similar account has been given by a woman recently who also thought that “everybody could do it”: ... d=22825927
- The book “Consciousness Beyond Life”, by Pim van Lommel (2010) gives detailed accounts of case studies by a renowned cardiologist.
- A series of books, including “Journeys of the Body,” has been written by Robert A. Monroe based on his experiences.

Evidence from Near-Death Experiences (NDE)

8. Only a few people have the ability to experience OBE at will. Typically, OBE happens under stressful conditions, most commonly during heart operations. These have a special name of near-death experiences (NDE.) The following video provides a good summary of NDE accounts.

- There are many books on NDE. “Consciousness Beyond Life” by Pim van Lommel (2010) gives detailed accounts of case studies of NDE experienced by people undergoing heart operations.
- A recent book, “Dying to be me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing,” by Anita Moorjani (2012), describes the NDE experience of her in detail.

Current Philosophical Ideas on Consciousness

9. When science is unable to make much progress, philosophers put forth their ideas. In fact, physics evolved from philosophy.

- There are many ideas in philosophy about consciousness, including one (for example, by Daniel Dennett) that says consciousness is not real!
- The following video is a presentation by David Chalmers, a leading philosopher on consciousness. He makes much more sense and gets to the heart of the issue.

Consciousness Is a Fundamental Aspect of Nature

10. In the following video presentation, David Chalmers makes some points that are important.

- Around 8 minutes, he explains that science, at present, cannot accommodate consciousness.
- Then he proposes to investigate the possibility that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of nature that CANNOT be derived from other entities (such as matter.)
- Another philosopher who also believes that consciousness cannot be derived is Thomas Nagel. He discusses that in his book in Ref. 3. That is indeed what the Buddha explained, as we will discuss in the next post.

Further Information

1. The scientific effort on a single theory to explain material phenomena, “Grand Unified Theory.”: ... e%20force.

2. Scientific studies on the emergence of life from inert matter, “Abiogenesis.”: ... molecules.

3. Thomas Nagel, “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” (2012).

4. There is evidence emerging from several investigations that a brain is not necessary to have conscious experiences. I encourage watching the following video.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis

Mind and matter go together in Buddha Dhamma. It is one meaning of “nāmarupa.” It starts at a level much finer than the atomic level in modern science. It is even below the elementary particle level.

The Three Basic Building Blocks of Buddha Dhamma

1. Everything in this world arises out of three building blocks: citta, cetasika, and rupa.

- An analogy in modern science is to start with electrons, protons, and neutrons (elementary particles would be even more fundamental). A tasty cake, an oak tree, or a nuclear bomb all have origins in those fundamental particles.
- In the same way, Buddha Dhamma (the theory) can start with those three fundamental entities. They can describe all mental phenomena as well as material phenomena.
- On the other hand, modern science can describe ONLY material phenomena. It just ASSUMES that mental phenomena come out of material phenomena. But that assumption has NOT been validated. See the previous post, “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”
- Modern science cannot explain how a living-being is born. It seems to say that “it just happens.” We will discuss that below.

Connection Between Mind and Matter

2. In Buddha Dhamma, analysis of rupa directly provides the connection between mind and matter.

- In Abhidhamma, there are 28 types of rupa. However, there are only a few types of rupa that are sufficient to start our discussion here.
- We will start with six types of rupa directly related to the mind and are essential in sensing the external world. First, there is hadaya vatthu, the “seat of the mind,” where thoughts (citta) arise. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and body touching sensations are sensed at five pasāda rupa: cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, and kāya.
- We are accustomed to the idea that we see things with our eyes, hear with our ears, etc. But all those five physical sense faculties just have inert matter. Inert matter cannot “sense” or “feel” anything.
- Scientists go one step further and say that eyes, ears, etc. only capture the corresponding visual, auditory,..signals. They say that it is in the brain that those sensations are processed and “detected.” But they have no idea how such a “feeling” or “sensation” can arise in a brain. After all, the brain itself is made of inert atoms and molecules!

Brain Sends Those Signals to the “Actual Sensing Units”

3. It is correct that the brain processes those sensory signals captured by eyes, ears, etc. However, there is nothing in the brain that actually “detect” or “experience” those signals.

- As mentioned above, those actual sensing units are the hadaya vatthu and the five pasāda rupa. I will stick to these Pāli terms, and you will see that it is necessary to do so. The English vocabulary does not have corresponding words.
- Now, we need to discuss two issues. Where are those six “sensing units” located? Also, how can they “feel” or “sense” those signals? Let us consider the latter question first.
- It is kammic energy that creates those six elementary sensory units (hadaya vatthu and the five pasāda rupa of cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya) at the beginning of a new existence. For simplicity, let us call those six entities “sensing units.” In some existences, there are less than six. For example, a rupāvacara Brahma has only three, and an arupāvacara Brahma has only one (just hadaya vatthu.)
- ONLY kammic energy can create those special types of rupa. They have a trace of matter (suddhāṭṭhaka) AND also the ability to “feel” or “experience” the sensory inputs. That is the FUNDAMENTAL connection between mind and matter.

Kammic Energy – Origin of Life

4. It is the kammic energy created by a STRONG previous kamma that leads to a new existence as a result (vipāka) of that kamma.

- For example, if person X kills another person, then that person X would have created a kammic seed (or a kamma bija) that can germinate and give rise to existence in hell. If the kamma were rape, that would create a kammic seed to be born an animal. The vipāka (result) is according to the kamma. That is described in detail in “Paṭicca Samuppāda.”:
- At the beginning of a new existence, kammic energy creates a set of “sensing units” appropriate for that existence. All living-beings in the kāma loka (six Deva realms, the human realm, and the four apāyā) have all six units listed in #3 above.

Examples of Various Existences

5. Without getting deeper into Paṭicca Samuppāda, let us try to get the basic idea of that process. It just says that an existence corresponds to the kamma that gave rise to that existence.

- Someone who cultivates one of the four highest jhāna (arupāvacara jhāna) will be born as an arupāvacara Brahma. Someone in such an arupāvacara jhāna does not experience any of five sensory inputs (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching). As a result (vipāka) of cultivating such a jhāna, one would be born in the corresponding arupāvacara realm (there are four such realms.) An arupāvacara Brahma cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch anything. He has only a hadaya vatthu, and thus, can only think (just like the experience in an arupāvacara jhāna.) A hadaya vatthu is the LEAST bit of matter that can sustain mind (mental activity.)
- Therefore, existence as an arupāvacara Brahma is the simplest. One is free of burdens of making a living to buy houses, cars, or even food. There is no need to eat. That “Brahma body” only has a hadaya vatthu, which is so small that a Brahma cannot be seen even with the finest microscope scientists have. Kammic energy sustains that "body" with just an unimaginably small amount of "matter."
- At the next higher level of “complexity” are the 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms. As you can guess now, birth in a rupāvacara Brahma realm is a vipāka of cultivating rupāvacara jhāna. A human can get into a rupāvacara jhāna by suppressing or removing the cravings for close-contact sensory pleasures (eating, smelling, and touching.) The bottom line is that a rupāvacara Brahma can only see and hear in addition to being able to think. Thus, a rupāvacara Brahma would have only cakkhu and sota pasāda rupa in addition to hadaya vatthu. Thus he would have only three “sensing units.”
- It is only in the kāma loka (six Deva realms, the human realm, and the four apayā) that living-beings have all six “sensing units” listed in #3 above. Births in kāma loka are much more complex, and that is where one needs a better understanding of Paṭicca Samuppāda to describe various births such as animal and hell beings. Of course, those births in the four apayā) are due to akusala kamma.

A Human Gandhabba Is a Set of Six “Sensory Units”

6. At the beginning of human existence, kammic energy creates a human gandhabba (or a manomaya kāya) with a hadaya vatthu and five pasāda rupa. That is the basic mind and matter overlap (nāmarupa) in a human.

- Just like it is impossible to see a Brahma, it is not possible to see a gandhabba. A gandhabba is almost like a Brahma, but with a full set of pasāda rupa.
- After created by kammic energy, a gandhabba stays with that “invisible body” may be for even many years. When a “matching womb” becomes available, it is pulled into that womb by kammic energy.
- Modern science can explain the growth of a baby, starting with an embryo in a womb. But it CANNOT explain how that baby became CONSCIOUS.
The conception of a human baby (i.e., creating an embryo from an inert zygote) happens when a gandhabba comes into the womb and merges with the zygote. For details, see “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception.” on Jan 05, 2020: ... start=1140

Many Physical Bodies For a Single Mental Body (Gandhabba)

7. Therefore, a human being does not start with a physical body, i.e., with physical eyes, ears, etc. or the brain. As the Buddha explained, a physical body is a temporary residence for a human gandhabba. Within a human existence (that may last thousands of years), a gandhabba may acquire MANY different physical bodies. See, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.” on Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43): ... &start=630

- When the gandhabba is trapped inside a physical body, it has to get external sensory signals indirectly. The eyes, ears, etc. capture those sensory signals, which are then processed by the brain. We will discuss how the brain transfers that information to the gandhabba in a future post.
- It is a human existence (bhava) that is hard to get. But within a human bhava, one may be born many times with different human bodies. That is why we have so many rebirth stories where one is reborn within several years.
- For the duration of a human bhava, one will have ONLY ONE mental body (manomaya kāya), also known as gandhabba. Of course, that gandhabba may undergo some changes. But it will last the whole duration of that human bhava.

Pāli Word for Eye Is Not Cakkhu – It Is Nayana or Akkhi

8. Most people do not realize the following critical fact. Pāli words for eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the body, are nayana (or akkhi), kaṇṇa, nāsā (or nāsikā), jivhā, and sarīra or deha or kāya.

- The Pāli words cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya refer to the five pasāda rupa associated with the manomaya kāya (gandhabba).
- Thus, two words could be used in both ways either to refer to a physical sense faculty or a pasāda rupa (jivhā and kāya).
- While inside a physical body, a gandhabba is shielded from the external world. We will discuss how pasāda rupā receive signals from the physical sensory faculties in the next post.
- In the Abhidhamma analysis of rupa, the five pasāda rupa are listed as five fundamental types of rupa. Thus, it is clear that cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya DO NOT refer to eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the physical body!
- On p. 236 of Ref. 1, they are listed as “sensitive phenomena”. If you look at p. 237, the Pāli term is “pasāda rupa“. The five types of pasāda rupa are #5 through #9 in Table 6.1 on p. 237. This may be more clear in the Table in the following post.
- In Ref. 1, the description of rupa is in Chapter VI (pp. 234-263.)
- By the way, I will use Ref. 1 as the standard text on Abhidhamma for this series of posts. I have provided a link to the free pdf version. Ref. 2 is good as well.

Summary – Special Types of Rupa With Ability to “Sense”

9. There are six “sensing units” (created by kammic energy) that have the ability to “sense’ or “experience.” That kammic energy is created with citta and cetasika. Therefore, it is a cyclic process (and why the rebirth process has no beginning!). We will discuss that intricate mind and matter connection in upcoming posts.

- We started the post by pointing out that citta, cetasika, and rupa can describe EVERYTHING in this world.
- In the above, we went through a simple description of the arising of a living-being with a set of “sensing units.” That particular living-being will then do more kamma and create the seeds for more future births.
- That is how the rebirth process continues.
- However, by understanding this relationship between mind and matter, we have the ability to avoid “bad births” and also to attain Nibbāna. We will get into details in future posts.


1. “Comprehensive_Manual_of_Abhidhamma,” by Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000.) ... dhamma.pdf

2. “Buddha Abhidhamma – Ultimate Science,” by Dr. Mehm Tin Mon. Both are free publications. Click the link to open the pdf: ... in-Mon.pdf
Last edited by Lal on Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I thought of providing the Table of 28 types of rupa for convenience.

Rupa (Material Form) – Table

Concretely Produced (Nipphanna)

I. Great Elements (Mahā Bhuta)

1. Pathavi (Extension/Hardness)
2. Apo (Cohesion/Fluidity)
3. Tejo (Heat/Hotness)
4. Vāyo (Motion/Pushing & Supporting)

II. Internal (Pasāda) Rupa

5. Cakkhu (eye element)
6. Sota (ear element)
7. Ghāna (nose element)
8. Jivhā (tongue element)
9. Kāya (body element)

III. Gocara (Objective) Rupa

10. Vaṇṇa (visible)
11. Sadda (Sound)
12. Gandha (Smell)
13. Rasa (Taste)
* Phoṭṭhabba (Tangibility, warmth, and movement) comes
from 3 mahā bhuta of pathavi, tejo, vāyo

IV. Bhava Rupa

14. Itthi (Feminine)
15. Purisa (Masculine)

V. Hadaya (Mind Base)

16. Hadaya Vatthu (seat of the mind)

VI. Life

17. jīvitindriya (Life faculty)

VII. Nutritional

18. Oja (Nutriment)

Abstract (Anipphanna Rupa)

VII. Limiting Phenomenon

19. Ākāsa dhātu (space element)

IX. Communicating (Viññatti) Rupa

20. Kāya Viññatti
21. Vaci Viññatti

X. Mutable (Vikāra) Rupa

22. Lahutā (lightness)
23. Mudutā (Elasticity)
24. Kammaññatā (weildiness)

XI. Material Qualities (Lakkhana Rupa)

25. Upacaya (production)
26. Santati (continuity)
27. Jaratā (Decay)
28. Aniccatā (Dissolving)

There are nine rupa created ONLY by kammic energy at the paṭisandhi moment. Those are the five pasāda rupa (#5 through #9), and four other rupa (#14 through #17) including the seat of mind (hadaya vatthu). 
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Sensual Pleasures – The Hidden Suffering

Sensual Pleasures (Kāma Assāda)

1. The word sensual means gratification of physical senses. It may have a sexual connotation, but not necessarily. We will use that word in that sense to represent the meaning of the Pāli word “kāma.”

- Such sensory contacts occur in close proximity. The three main “close sensory contacts” involve eating, smelling, and body touches (including sex.) However, visuals and sounds also are used to enhance these three sensory experiences.
- Therefore, “kāma rāga” means craving for sensual pleasures (tasty foods, nice fragrances, bodily comforts, etc.) not just for sex. See, “What is “Kāma”? It is not Just Sex.”
- All five sensory contacts are available in most of the lowest 11 realms (four apāyā, human realm, and six Deva realms.) Thus, kāma loka includes those 11 realms.
- However, those sensual pleasures (kāma assāda) come at a price. There is much suffering in kāma loka, as we will see below.

What Is a Body (Kāya)?

2. In the previous post, we saw that out of 31 realms in this world, living-beings in 20 realms do not have physical bodies like ours. Brahmā in those 20 realms have only a trace of matter. They cannot be seen even with the best scientific instruments available today. See “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.” Therefore, we need to abandon our perception of “solid, dense” bodies like ours to be universal.

- There is also the following related issue. We conventionally translate the Pāli word “kāya” as “body.” Now, we are only used to “physical, dense bodies” like ours or animals. The idea of a living being with very little matter (and thus invisible to us) is strange to most of us.
- However, the Pāli word “kāya” means a “collection.” As we know, a living being is a collection of five aggregates (pancakkhandha) in Buddha Dhamma. An entity that can support those five aggregates has a “kāya.”
- In English, also we sometimes use “body” as a collection or aggregate. Some examples are “body of water” and “body of evidence.”
- Brahma has a set of “bare minimum” (a trace of) rupa that can support the five aggregates, as discussed below. A “kāya” of a living being is a collection of aggregates of mind and matter.
- The Pāli word for a physical body is “sarīra” even though the word “kāya” is sometimes used.

Why Do Humans Need Dense Physical Bodies?

3. Then, a question comes up. Why do humans need physical bodies? We discussed that human (and animal) life also starts with an “invisible body” (gandhabba), just like for a Brahma. A dense physical body arises later on when that gandhabba gets into a womb. See the previous post, “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.” Why doesn’t the gandhabba stays with that invisible body?

- We need physical bodies to taste the food, smell nice odors, have sex, etc. Those sensory experiences REQUIRE dense bodies. We highly value those “bodily-contacts” and constantly think, speak, and work to get more.
- But there is a “hidden price to pay” for close-contact sensory pleasures. Such dense bodies are prone to diseases, injuries, and body pains. - Unfortunately, such problems are not very evident at a young age, and for most people, by the time they realize these problems, it is too late. Their brains are getting weak too, and they may not be able to learn the deeper teachings of the Buddha.
- Most living-beings in the 11 realms of kāma loka have dense bodies. The bodies of Devas are a bit less dense but dense enough to experiences those three sensory inputs. The word “kāma” implies such close contacts.
- Let us consider a different approach to see the “drawbacks” and “dangers” in sensual pleasures. Let us look into how Brahmā in 20 realms (out of 31 realms in the world) overcome the desire for sensual pleasures and live for billions of years in “jhānic bliss” in those realms.

Sufferings Due to “Dense Bodies” Is Absent in Brahma Realms

4. Out of the 31 realms of our world, the higher-lying 20 realms of Brahmā are absent from any suffering (diseases like cancer, injuries, brain defects, or even body aches). As we discussed in #2, those Brahmā do not have dense bodies like ours.

- Their “physical bodies” have just an unimaginably small amount of “matter” that is a billion times smaller than an atom in modern science. It is better to call it an invisible “magnetic body” or an “energy field.” Some people think these Brahmā have ONLY the mind, but that is not correct. The Buddha stated that the mind could not exist without a material base. These Brahmā have “bodies” with the least amount of matter in Buddha Dhamma, a suddhāṭṭhaka.
- Furthermore, there is no need to eat since there is no dense physical body to maintain. The subtle “body” of a Brahma is sustained by kammic energy.
- Of course, “bodies” that are invisible is a strange notion to many people. That is why the Buddha said his Dhamma has never been known to the world.
- How do those Brahmā get such “invisible bodies” that are not subject to any suffering (illnesses, injuries, hunger, etc.)?

Births in Arupāvacara Brahma Realms

5. As briefly mentioned in the previous post, one can be born in those four realms by cultivating the four highest jhāna. In fact, those who cultivate such jhāna enjoy the same life experiences of arupāvacara Brahmā (with just the ability to think.)

- Anariya yogis get to such jhāna using various techniques, but abstaining from sensual pleasures is a requirement. Such anariya yogis normally stay away from sensual attractions by living in forests, especially away from women. But Noble Persons (Ariyas) get to such jhānā by cultivating wisdom and comprehending the dangers of sensual pleasures. Once getting to Ariya jhāna, one could associate with even the most beautiful women without being tempted. For example, an Anāgāmi has no kāma rāga.
- The four arupāvacara Brahma realms correspond to optimum levels of mettā, karuṇā, muditā, upekkhā.
- For details, see “The Four Sublime States” by Nyanaponika Thera: ... el006.html To quote from that article, “Brahma is free from hate; and one who assiduously develops these four sublime states, by conduct and meditation, is said to become an equal of Brahma (Brahma-samo). If they become the dominant influence in his mind, he will be reborn in congenial worlds, the realms of Brahma. Therefore, these states of mind are called God-like, Brahma-like.“
- These arupāvacara Brahmā (in the four highest realms) have the “smallest bodies” of all living beings. In the Abhidhamma language, they only have the “seat of the mind” (hadaya vatthu) for thinking. They do not have any of the five “physical senses” of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or body touches.

Births in Rupāvacara Brahma Realms

6. Rupāvacara Brahmā have only a “bit more complex bodies” with the addition of two pasāda rupa of cakkhu and sota. They can see and hear, in addition to being able to think. As we know, the 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms lie below the 4 arupāvacara Brahma realms. See, “The Thirty-one Planes of Existence”: ... /loka.html

- Note that rupāvacara Brahmā can “see” and “hear’ without having physical eyes and ears like humans. I explained in the previous post (“Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.”) that we do not see or hear with our physical eyes and ears. Our physical eyes are like cameras that only “take pictures” of the external world for the gandhabba trapped inside the dense physical body. Also see, “Vision Is a Series of “Snapshots” – Movie Analogy.” on Oct 14, 2019: ... start=1125
- A human can be assured of birth in a rupāvacara Brahma realm by cultivating rupāvacara jhāna. The 16 realms in rupāvacara Brahma loka correspond to the four lower jhānā at various “strengths.”
- Even to get to the four lower jhāna corresponding to the 16 realms in rupāvacara Brahma loka, one needs to suppress at least the desire for sensual pleasures (or “kāma rāga“) in addition to abstaining from immoral deeds (dasa akusala.) That is why all suttā on jhāna have a verse with, “vivicceva kāmehi, vivicca akusalehi dhammehi.” or “withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from akusala thoughts.” See, “Jhānic Experience in Detail – Sāmañ­ña­phala Sutta (DN 2)” on March 4, 2019 (p. 71): ... 94#p504394

Why Do People Cultivate Jhāna?

7. Sensory pleasures due to “close contacts” (eating, smelling, sex, and other “bodily-comforts”) come at a price, as we discussed in #3. Such “close-contacts” are possible ONLY with a complex, dense body. However, such a dense body is subjected to various types of ailments.

- In addition, the ability of the physical body to provide such sensory experiences GO DOWN with age. At old age, the taste buds don’t work well. One may not be able to smell the roses as one used to. And, one’s sexual capabilities go down as well. One can clearly see such drawbacks.
- Furthermore, there is also a hidden danger in such cravings for sense pleasures. The pursuit of sense pleasures INEVITABLY lead to immoral deeds sooner or later. People kill, rape, steal, and lie to get possession of “material things” that provide those sensory contacts. Such actions are papa kamma (or strong immoral deeds) that can lead to bad results (vipāka). In particular, they can lead to rebirth in the “bad realms’ or apāyā.
- Ancient yogis (even before the Buddha,) realized that sense pleasures (kāma assāda) have such bad consequences. They saw that by staying away from such sense pleasures, one could GET INTO jhānic states. So, they went deep into forests, stayed away from society in general, and from women in particular. They focused their minds on “neutral objects” such as one’s breath or a kasina object. With such techniques, they were able to get to both rupāvacara and arupāvacara jhānic states.

Why Are Such “Non-Buddhist” Jhāna Techniques Are Useless in the Long Run?

8. We remember that ascetic Siddhattha (before attaining the Buddhahood) learned such mundane jhāna techniques from two yogis, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Ramaputta. The Bodhisatta realized that such techniques do not remove kāma rāga from one’s mind, but can only SUPPRESS them.

- While cultivation of such a jhāna will lead to rebirths in a Brahma realm, the existence in that realm WILL END once that kammic energy runs out. Then one can be reborn in an apāya in the future. The only PERMANENT solution is to end the rebirth process. That DOES NOT mean extinction, because there is no “soul-type entity” going through the rebirth process. See, “What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream.” For a deeper analysis, “Yamaka Sutta (SN 22.85) – Arahanthood Is Not Annihilation but End of Suffering.” Both those at
- The Bodhisatta spent six more years pursuing the way to permanently REMOVE kāma rāga (and other defilements) from the mind.

The Permanent Solution Is Nibbāna

9. Upon attaining the Buddhahood, the Buddha realized that one must first understand the unfruitfulness and dangers in pursuing such sensory pleasures. That is the ONLY way to PERMANENTLY remove cravings for sensual pleasures and to avoid rebirths in the apāyā due to INEVITABLE temptations in kāma loka.

- Just with that understanding of the anicca nature, one becomes a Sotapanna and be free of rebirths in the apāyā. That is when one ENTERS the Noble Path.
- Then, by following that Noble Path, one can become free of kāma rāga first, and stop rebirths anywhere in kāma loka at the Anāgāmi stage.
- The main point is that birth in ANY of the 31 realms of this world WILL end up in death. Even the “relatively peaceful” life in a Brahma realm will end in death. There is no refuge anywhere in the 31 realms. Therefore, the ONLY permanent solution is to stop any and all rebirths. Of course, that process starts with understanding the overall rebirth process among the 31 realms. That understanding is embedded in the Four Noble Truths (and Tilakkhana.)
- We are going through this process to get a better understanding of that grand scheme of things.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Kammic Energy Leads to Consciousness

Kammic energy leads to consciousness in all living beings. In this post, I am not going to refer to a specific type of consciousness (like cakkhu viññāṇa or mano viññāṇa) but just the ability to generate any types of viññāṇa in any of the 31 realms. Let us first recap our discussion so far in the new section, “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach,” started on Aug 02, 2020.

Kammic Energy Leads to Consciousness

1. In this new section, we discuss Buddha Dhamma using a novel approach. One critical point is that the essence of ANY living being is a set of “sensing faculties” created by kammic energy.

- As we remember from the previous few posts, the main difficulty with the scientific community’s current efforts is identifying how feelings (consciousness) can arise in the brain made of inert matter. As some philosophers have pointed out, consciousness is NOT derived from matter. See, “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”
- In simple terms, the Buddha said that there is a set of elementary units of matter with the ability to facilitate CONSCIOUSNESS. See “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.”
- Those are the hadaya vatthu (seat of mind) and a set of five pasāda rupa (cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya). These are UNIQUE bits of matter with the ABILITY to EXPERIENCE things in the world. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of comprehending the uniqueness of these six entities.
- Kammic energy leads to consciousness because kammic energy alone can create those six entities.

Why Life Cannot Be Created in a Laboratory

2. Those six “sensing faculties” (unimaginably small) can ONLY be created by kammic energy. That kammic energy is produced in THOUGHTS (specifically javana citta.) We will discuss this in detail in the future.

- That is why it will NEVER be possible to CREATE life (a conscious living being) in a laboratory. Consciousness does not arise in a chemical process or by increasing the processing power of computer chips.
- Kammic energy leads to consciousness, and our minds create kammic energy. Thus, we create our own future lives!

Seeds (Kamma Bija) for New Existences

3. It is kammic energy that produces seeds (kamma bija) that give rise to a new set of “sensing units” for future existences.

- “Good seeds” generated by good kamma (puñña abhisaṅkhāra) can give rise to good rebirths (in human and higher realms.) Births in the highest four Brahma realms are due to āneñja abhisaṅkhāra, a special kind of “good abhisaṅkhāra.”
- Bad rebirths (in the four lowest realms or apāyā) arise due to “bad seeds” generated by immoral kamma (apuñña abhisaṅkhāra)
- However, a seed cannot germinate and give rise to life if one has lost the craving for doing the corresponding kamma. Thus, one attains Nibbana by cultivating paññā (wisdom) and getting rid of attachment to worldly things (taṇhā.) We will discuss that later, but it has been discussed in other sections.
- First, let us discuss different types of kamma bija with some examples.

Good Seeds and Bad Seeds

4. Person X likes to enjoy sensory pleasures to the extent that he/she is willing to do any immoral deed to enjoy them. If X kills a human, that mindest is very powerful and creates a kamma bija that can lead to rebirth in hell. If X kills an animal that generates a “smaller kamma bija,” but if X keeps killing animals regularly, that kamma bija will get stronger and, at some point, will be strong enough to lead to rebirth in hell.

- There is a person Y who engages in good deeds. That person enjoys feeding those in need (bhikkhus, poor people, animals, etc.) He/she would instinctively help those who fall into hard times and is able to forgive actions by others. Such a person builds up strong good kamma bija to give rise to rebirths in human and higher realms.
- Then there is person Z who has understood the drawbacks of sensory pleasures. He/she has a natural tendency to cultivate jhāna by minimizing engaging in sensory pleasures and dasa akusala in general. The first four jhāna fall under puñña abhisaṅkhāra and can lead to rebirths in the 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms. The higher jhāna fall under āneñja abhisaṅkhāra and can lead to births in the 4 arupāvacara Brahma realms.
- Those are a few examples of the types of abhisaṅkhāra (or kamma) that keep us bound to the rebirth process. They ALL fall under “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” in the akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process. In the detailed explanation of that step, those saṅkhāra are described as “apuñña abhisaṅkhāra, puñña abhisaṅkhāra, and āneñja abhisaṅkhāra.” See, #11 through #13 in “Kamma, Saṅkhāra, and Abhisaṅkhāra.” on Nov 24, 2019: ... start=1140
- Our own kammic energy leads to consciousness (in future lives.) That consciousness may arise in any of the 31 realms.

The essence of a Living Being – The “Primary Sensory Units”

5. “Awareness” happens at hadaya vatthu, the seat of the mind. “Seeing” happens at the hadaya vatthu with the help of cakkhu pasāda rupa. Similarly, “hearing” happens at the hadaya vatthu with the help of sota pasāda rupa. The other three physical senses work the same way with ghāna, jivhā, and kāya pasāda rupa.

- In addition, hadaya vatthu can recall past memories.
- Based on those six types of external signals, thoughts arise in the hadaya vatthu.
- That happens in EVERY living-being. Every living being has a maximum of six of those “sensory units.”

Living Beings in Most Realms Have Only “Primary Sensory Units”

6. In the post, “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis,” we noted that living beings in 20 of the 31 realms in this world have only such sensory units and nothing else (no physical bodies.)

- The 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms have hadaya vatthu and two pasāda rupa.
- The 4 arupāvacara Brahma realms have only the hadaya vatthu.
- They all have just a “mental body” and no “solid body” like ours. But our gandhabba is similar to them.

Dense Bodies In Kāma Loka

7. The situation is the 11 realms of kāma loka is more complex. That complexity is necessary to accommodate “close sensory contacts” of smell, taste, and body touch. Such contacts are not possible for the mental body (gandhabba); see, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept.” on Jan 18, 2020 ... start=1155

- A gandhabba needs to get into a womb and make a physical body to experience “close sensory contacts” of taste, smell, and touch. That process is described in “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception.” on Jan 05, 2020.
- However, it is not the dense body that FEELS or EXPERIENCES those sensory contacts. Sensory experience happens ONLY at hadaya vatthu with the help of the corresponding pasāda rupa.
- Depending on the type of the “physical body,” there are different mechanisms to transfer the information generated in the “physical body” to the corresponding pasāda rupa and then to the hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind.)
- However, if the “mental body” (gandhabba) comes out of a human’s physical body, it can see and hear without having eyes and ears. There are many verified accounts of such Out-of-Body Experiences. See, “Mental Body (Gandhabba) – Personal Accounts” and “Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Manōmaya Kāya.” at
- Also, see the Wikipedia articles, “Out-of-body experience” “Near-death experience.”

Our Dense Physical Bodies are Just “Shells”

8. Out dense physical bodies weighing tens of kg (or hundreds of pounds) DO NOT sense ANYTHING.

- The crucial mental body (gandhabba) with the six “sensing units” is “trapped” inside the physical body. That allows it to experience the three additional senses of smell, taste, and touch. However, it also forces the gandhabba to experience “seeing” and “hearing” with physical eyes and ears.
- Therefore, a gandhabba trapped inside a physical body cannot sense ANYTHING without the aid of the five physical senses AND the brain.
The (physical) sensory faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) can be considered mechanical instruments to capture external signals. For example, eyes are like two cameras taking pictures.
- It is the brain that analyzes the sensory signals captured by those five “sensing equipment.” But the brain does not EXPERIENCE anything either. It breaks down those signals to a level that can be received by the five pasāda rupa. Then each pasāda rupa transfers that information to the hadaya vatthu. That is when we EXPERIENCE such a signal.
- Therefore, the brain is just a very fancy computer. Of course, the design of the brain is also by kammic energy, as is the design for all body parts. That "design" or the "blueprint" is in the gandhabba. We will discuss those details in the “Buddhist model” in a future post.

Complexity In the Kāma Loka

9. The simplest in the kāma loka are the 6 Deva realms. Devas are born with “full physical bodies.” Such “bodies” are like ours but much more subtle. We can’t see Devas either.

- On the other hand, we know a lot about how our physical bodies and brains work, thanks to many scientists’ efforts over the past hundred years or so. Animal bodies work pretty much the same way.
- However, scientists have the wrong idea that such experiences are FELT in the brain, and it is the brain that generates our thoughts. Some scientists and philosophers are beginning to realize that, as we discussed to some extent in “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”


10. I am going through this slowly because it is critically important to understand the basic structure of “our world.”

- “Our world” is much more complex than what we can directly experience. We can only “see” two realms: the human and animal realms.
- That “wider world view” can be seen ONLY by a Buddha with a highly-purified mind. It covers 31 realms in total.
- Kammic energy leads to consciousness (or life) in all those realms.
- It is necessary to understand how births occur in each realm. As we discussed above, the root causes are the types of kamma we commit based on how we think, speak, and take actions based mainly on vaci and kāya saṅkhāra. We do not have DIRECT control over mano saṅkhāra. They arise automatically due to our gati (character/habits.) But we CAN control vaci and kāya saṅkhāra and thereby control our gati. See, “Gati (Habits/Character) Determine Births – Saṃsappanīya Sutta.” on Apr 12, 2020: ... start=1185
- We have discussed those aspects in other sections. But we will go through some of them as needed here. I will also refer to other sections since it is not possible to cover everything in one section.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

The new series on the fundamentals of Buddha Dhamma shows that it is built around a "wider world" with many possible existences and a continued rebirth process among those realms.
-Most people in Western societies are not familiar with the concept of rebirth. However, that is changing, because there is a lot of evidence emerging, and scientists and philosophers are beginning to take it seriously. That is why I included a recent conference on the subject at the beginning of the following post.

Evidence for Rebirth


One needs to look at the mounting evidence without any preconceived ideas. There is no plausible way to explain these accounts from a purely “materialistic” point of view, i.e., that consciousness arises from inert matter.

Here is a video of a recent discussion on Western research on children’s past lives, Near Death Experiences, etc:

Rebirth Accounts

The late Professor Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia conducted over 20 years of research on the authenticity of rebirth accounts, which is being continued by Professor Jim Tucker.

- Several books about rebirth have been written by these two professors. A good book is “Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation” by Ian Stevenson. By the way, Professor Stevenson became a Buddhist later on in his life presumably because of his studies (see, “Rebirth as Doctrine and Experience” by Francis Story (2003); first edition 1975). He mentions this in the introduction he wrote to this book by Francis Story; I have scanned that introduction: “Introduction to “Rebirth by Francis Story – Ian Stevenson“.
- Here is a video that discusses the work of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, Dr. Jim Tucker, and colleagues at the University of Virginia:

- In their book, “Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot”, by Bruce and Andrea Leininger detail the amazing story of their son’s recount of a past life, mentioned in the above video. Here is an ABC News report on the story:

- Here is another story of the rebirth of a Civil War General:

- Here is a three-year-old chanting Buddhist suttā (and doing a very good job). Can a three-year-old memorize such complex lines of suttā?

- Also see the post, “Boy Who Remembered Pāli Suttas for 1500 Years.” This is a true story about a boy (Dhammaruwan) who recited complex and lengthy Pāli suttā at five years of age, that sounded very different from current chantings. Furthermore, he remembers accounts of his previous life 1500 years ago, when he accompanied the famous Buddhaghosa on his trip to Sri Lanka.

Evidence for Rebirth Much Stronger Than Perceived

1. Many people say that direct “proof” for rebirth cannot be given; it is actually the other way around. If one’s memories are in the brain (as science believes), then all those memories will be lost when one dies. There is no “physical connection” between the brains of those involved in the rebirth stories.

- Therefore, even if just one of those rebirth accounts can be proven to be true, then there is no way to explain that in any way other than rebirth. How can the brain in this life recall memories from the brain in a previous life?
If there is a connection between two lives that lived in two geographical locations (also separated by time), there is no explanation for that in current science, i.e., no way to make a connection between the DNA of those two “persons”. A purely materialistic view cannot explain it.
- Recent findings in science show that matter in different locations are entangled at a fundamental level; see, “Quantum Entanglement – We Are All Connected“. Also, “a living being just goes from one physical body to another”; see, “Who Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream“.

2. Also, it is by having this presumption of rebirth that all of the seeming anomalies and inequalities of life can be explained; see, “Vagaries of Life and the Way to Seek Good Rebirths“.

- And how could we ever explain the birth of such prodigies as Jeremy Bentham, who already in his fourth year could read and write Latin and Greek? John Stuart Mill, who at the age of three read Greek and at the age of six wrote a history of Rome? Babington Macaulay, who in his sixth year wrote a compendium of world history? Beethoven, who gave public concerts when he was seven; or Mozart, who already before his sixth year had written musical compositions? Voltaire, who read the fables of Lafontaine when he was three years old?
- Does it not seem infinitely more probable that all these prodigies and geniuses, who in many cases came from illiterate parents, had already in previous births laid the foundations for their extraordinary faculties?
Here is a list of child prodigies from Wikipedia. You will recognize many of the names:
List of Child Prodigies:

Here is the link to Wikipedia article on child prodigies:

Child Prodigy :

Healing with Hypnosis

The late Dr. Richard Feynman was skeptical about the claims in hypnosis studies until he subjected himself to hypnosis in two different occasions. In both instances, he verified for himself that if done correctly hypnosis works. He describes these two cases in his book, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” (1985), pp. 66-68.

- Therefore, hypnosis provides yet another set of “supporting material”. There are many cases of people remembering past lives when hypnotized. It is hard to evaluate the validity of most such cases.
- However, there is a branch of hypnosis that uses it as therapy. Some people seem to have “phobias” based on a horrific event from a past life. They cannot figure out why they have these phobias, but when a hypnotist brings out that experience, they become cured. Here is a 20/20 documentary of three such cases, where they vouch for the authenticity of the therapy sessions:

There are hundreds of youtube videos on rebirth stories and also many on child prodigies and hypnosis-based curing of certain ailments.

Following books are also good reads:

- “Many Lives, Many Masters”, by Brian Weiss (1988).
- “Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation”, by Gina Cerminara (1988).
- “Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child” by Carol Bowman (1998)
- “Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives”, Jim B. Tucker (2013).

OBE and NDE Studies

There is an ever-growing number of reports of Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE) and Near-Death Experiences (NDE) that not only support rebirth but also are consistent with the concept of a “manōmaya kāya“; see, “Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Manōmaya Kāya” and other related posts.

Here is a popular youtube video on presentation of a physician on Near-Death Experiences:

There are many youtube videos, but here are three recent books on these two subjects:

- “Consciousness Beyond Life”, by Pim van Lommel (2010) gives detailed accounts of case studies by a renowned cardiologist.
- “Brain Wars” by Mario Beauregard (2012) is a book by a scientist on NDE, OBE, and the mind-body problem in general.
- “Dying to be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing”, by Anita Moorjani (2012) is a personal story of a cancer survivor who had been diagnosed to die within a few weeks but had an “unexplainable recovery” within days during which time she had an out-of-body experience.


1. Some of you may be wondering whether there is an inconsistency here. I have repeatedly mentioned that the Buddha clearly stated that it is extremely rare to be born a human. Yet, from the above rebirth case studies it appears that people have been born in the human realm in successive lives. If it is so hard to attain a human birth, how can this be?

2. There is nothing inconsistent. The key problem here is another misinterpretation. “Bhava” or existence is not the same as a “jāti” or a birth; see, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“ ON Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43): ... &start=630

- A living being, upon exhausting the kammic energy for one existence, grabs hold of another strong kammic potential for the next existence. A human existence (bhava) can last thousands of years. Yet, each human birth (jāti) lasts only about 100 years. Therefore, there can be many births (jāti) within human existence (bhava.)
- In between successive human births, that human lives in para loka with just the “mental body” or manōmaya kāya. Another word for that entity is gandhabba. The concept of gandhabba is explained in simple terms at, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept”
on Jan 18, 2020: ... start=1155
- The same is true for the animal realm. The life of a dog is less than 20 years, but a “dog bhava” can last thousands or more years.

3. Thus, if one has done a highly meritorious deed, and at some point in samsāra (rebirth process) latches on to that “kamma seed” (see, “Saṅkhāra, Kamma, Kamma Bīja, Kamma Vipaka“), that energy may be able to sustain that existence for many rebirths.

- In these cases, when physical death occurs BEFORE exhausting the energy of the kamma seed, the manōmaya kāya (also called gandhabba) leaves the dead body and waits until a suitable womb is ready; see, “Manomaya Kaya (Gandhabba) and the Physical Body“. In this case, the gandhabba may carry the physical resemblance to the next life, including scars of any significant wounds, birthmarks, etc.
- When rebirth takes place there, the new physical body could have many resemblances to the old body. In many rebirth cases, such physical resemblances have been confirmed (as in the case of the civil war general in one of the above videos).

4. In summary, it is important to remember that in Paṭicca Samuppādapulling closer" (upādāna) that leads to existence (bhava): for example, existence as a dog.

That existence (bhava) may have enough kammic energy to support many repeated births as a dog. Therefore, once a given bhava or existence is grasped, the next step of “bhava paccayā jāti“, will lead to repeated births as a dog until that kammic energy is exhausted; see, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“.

5. On the other hand, if the kammic energy for that “bhava” has run out by the time death occurs, then a new “bhava” will be grasped at the death moment.

- For example, a human may exhaust the kammic energy for that human existence (bhava) and grasp a kammic seed for a bhava (existence) of an elephant. In that case, an “elephant gandhabba” will come out of the dead body of the human. Then it will stay in that “mental body” until a matching “elephant womb” appears. That means the mother elephant needs to have gati similar to this new elephant.

6. It may be difficult to grasp these concepts initially. One needs to look up the links given and may need to go back several layers to grasp these ideas. It is not possible to explain everything in one post. Buddha Dhamma can be very deep if one wants to really comprehend how nature works.
Last edited by Lal on Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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