The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Nāma Loka and Rupa Loka – Two Parts of Our World

Nāma Loka Is One of Two Parts of Our World

1. We have a “mental world (nāma loka)” as well as a “material world (rupa loka).” The material world is the same for all of us. But each person creates one’s own mental world based on that material world. We briefly discussed that in the previous post, “Ārammaṇa Plays a Critical Role in a Sensory Event.”

- A mind experiences the material world with the help of the five physical senses. Then it will make plans to re-live any “pleasurable experiences” again and again. That is related to greed or lobha (a reduced version is kāma rāga or the craving for sensory pleasures.)
- If it were a “bad experience,” the mind would avoid any such future experiences by taking various actions. Such actions may involve dosa (hatred), or its reduced version is paṭigha (“friction” or “annoyance.”)
- Both of the above actions will lead to future suffering. That suffering can be greatly-enhanced if someone’s actions include strong dasa akusala. Such a “totally covered” mind has moha and can lead to immediate and harsh suffering.
- But even those who live moral lives cannot escape future suffering because they are not aware of the “real nature” of the world. They have a lower version of moha (i.e., avijjā), the ignorance referred to in the Four Noble Truths.

Previously Unknown Teachings

2. That last bullet point about the future suffering is unknown to the world in the absence of a Buddha. Only a Buddha can discover that our world is much more expansive (with 31 realms), where life in some of the realms can be full of suffering.

- Other religions teach that one would be guaranteed “future happiness” in heavenly worlds if one lives a moral life.
With his knowledge about a much wider world of 31 realms, the Buddha showed that there is no realm in this world where one can avoid suffering. - - Furthermore, suffering in the lowest four realms (apāyā) can be quite harsh.
- Therefore, the key question is, how is it possible that one who lives a moral life is still subjected to suffering in future births?
- The explanation is in the “previously unheard Dhamma” of a Buddha. In the current series of posts, we first need to understand our “nāma loka.” Of course, there are other ways to get there, mainly by just realizing the dangers of pursuing sense pleasures.

Everything in the World Belongs to One of Six Dhātu

3. The Buddha categorized everything in the world into six types of dhātu: pathavi, āpo, tejo, vāyo, ākāsa, and viññāṇa. The conventional translation of the word “dhātu” is “element,” but in this context “essence” may be a better translation.

- We are quite familiar with our “physical world” made of pathavi, āpo, tejo, vāyo spread out in space (ākāsa dhātu.) Therefore, those five dhātu associate with the rupa loka.
- The sixth, viññāṇa dhātu, is associate with the nāma loka.
- When one dissociates with the world of 31 realms, one merges with Nibbāna dhātu. See, “Nibbānadhātu Sutta (Iti 44).”

Viññāṇa Dhātu Is Nāma Loka

4. Viññāṇa dhātu INCLUDES all mental entities: vedana,saññā,saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.

- Here, viññāṇa is a bit complex. It is of two types. (1) Vipaka viññāṇa arises when we experience something with any of the six senses. Thus, it can be one of the six types of viññāṇa: cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivha, kāya, mano. They arise as kamma vipāka or RESULTS of kamma. (2) Kamma viññāṇa arises ONLY in mind as mano viññāṇa.
- Unlike vipāka viññāṇa, kamma viññāṇa has ENERGY. That energy arises in javana citta when we DO kamma.
- As we see, the experiences through any of the six senses give to “mental entities” that are in viññāṇa dhātu.
- In other words, it is the mind that experiences both parts of our world.

Viññāṇa Dhātu Is Very Different From Other Five Dhātu

5. According to modern science, our mental world is a byproduct of the material body (specifically the brain.) It only deals with the rupa loka and disregards the nāma loka (viññāṇa dhātu) altogether.

- Modern science is not equipped to tackle the mind yet. Unlike material objects that are inert and thus follow pre-set rules (like Newton’s laws of motion,) the mind of EACH PERSON is unique. Thus, while we can accurately predict the path of a rocket, we cannot predict any given person’s actions.
- The Buddha explained that the mind is the precursor to the material world. That is a complex subject, but I hope you are at least beginning to get the idea that our future rebirths (and thus any physical bodies in future births) arise due to our thoughts (specifically javana citta, which arise when we engage in strong kamma.)

No Spatial Boundaries In Nāma Loka (Viññāṇa Dhātu)

6. Another unique feature of the mind (or nāma loka or viññāṇa dhātu) is that there are no “spatial locations” or “spatial boundaries” in viññāṇa dhātu. We cannot ask WHERE it is located. It is everywhere and anywhere. See the previous post, “Ārammaṇa Plays a Critical Role in a Sensory Event.”

- The absence of spatial boundaries in nāma loka becomes apparent when we realize that we only access the nāma loka while dreaming.
- The arupāvacara Brahmas do not have access to the rupa loka. As we have discussed, they do not have any of the five physical senses or the corresponding five pasāda rupa. They have the hadaya vatthu, which can only recall memories. Those memories come directly to the hadaya vatthu since they don’t have brains.

The Best Way to Visualize Viññāṇa Dhātu – Dreams

7. When we dream, our minds are ONLY in the nāma loka. As we have discussed before, all five physical senses “go to sleep” while we sleep, which is when we dream.

- We see, hear, smell, taste, touch WITH OUR MINDS when we dream.
- As we know, there are no “spatial locations” in dreams. We see a dream. We cannot say where it was. If we see a jungle, our mind is there. We feel as if we are in a jungle.

Nāma Loka and Rupa Loka Co-Exist

8. When we dream, our five physical senses become inactive. In a primitive way, our minds detach from ākāsa dhātu. A mind is then in just viññāṇa dhātu. That is why we don’t perceive “locations” in dreams. We see people, buildings, trees, etc., but a location is not defined.

- Another way to state that is to say viññāṇa dhātu normally co-exists with the ākāsa dhātu. However, when we dream, the mind detaches from ākāsa dhātu (since the five physical senses are not active) and is engaged only with the viññāṇa dhātu (nāma loka.)

Mind Separates From Rupa Loka After the Fourth Jhāna

9. A mind detaches from the rupa loka when transcending the fourth jhāna, the highest rupāvacara jhāna. This is a technical point that can be skipped by those not familiar with Abhidhamma/jhāna.

- One is aware ONLY of the “infinite space” (no other rupa) when one gets to the fifth jhāna or the “ākāsānañcāyatana” (meaning “infinite space”.) - - When one transcends the ākāsānañcāyatana and gets to the viññāṇañcāyatana (or infinite viññāṇa.) This is when the mind (viññāṇa) “decouples” or “separates” from “space.” Now the mind has absolutely no awareness of space or the rupa loka.
- That is why the highest four jhānā are “arupāvacara jhāna.” Arupa means “without rupa.” The only rupa there would be a trace of matter associated with hadaya vatthu of arupāvacara Brahmā. Even in ākāsānañcāyatana, there is only space and no other “rupa.”

Kamma Bhava Is Also In Nāma Loka

10. The nāma loka encompasses (includes) kamma bhava. The appropriate bhava manifests under the right conditions. If we drink too much alcohol, we get drunk and get to a mindset of a drunkard. We may stay in that “drunkard existence” for a few hours.

- At the moment of death (if it is at the end of human bhava,) a mind will grasp a new bhava (existence) and instantaneously be born in that existence at the CORRESPONDING spatial location. For example, if one can grasp a Deva existence, one will be instantaneously born in that Deva realm a thousand miles above the Earth.
- That is also why a human can be born INSTANTANEOUSLY as a Deva in a Deva realm at the end of the human bhava. Grasping of a patisandhi viññāṇa of a Deva happens instantaneously at the corresponding spatial location (in a Deva realm). The viññāṇa dhātu does not have spatial restrictions. It is EVERYWHERE, so to speak!
- That happens because the viññāṇa dhātu is normally “merged with” ākāsa dhātu. They overlap. Thus, based on the type of patisandhi viññāṇa, one will automatically be born in the appropriate spatial location in ākāsa dhātu.
- That is a very brief description. But it is enough for now to get the basic idea.

A Gandhabba Is Totally Shielded From Both Loka While Inside a Physical Body

11. A gandhabba is totally shielded from both the rupa loka and the nāma loka while inside a human body.

- As discussed in previous posts, a gandhabba accesses the outside material world (rupa loka) using the five physical senses of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body. It accesses the nāma loka using the “transmitter” and “receiver” in the brain. See, “Brain and the Gandhabba.” It is good to review posts in that subsection.
- For a gandhabba inside a physical body, sensory signals from outside must come through the five “physical sensors” mounted on the body (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body.) The brain plays a vital role in transferring those signals to the gandhabba inside.
- In the same way, memories experienced by the gandhabba “go out” to the viññāṇa dhātu via a “transmitter” in the brain. Old memories in viññāṇa dhātu “come back” via a “receiver” in the brain. Recent findings in medical science allowed us to identify the “transmitter” as we discussed.

Consequences of a Gandhabba Trapped and Isolated Inside a Physical Body

12. Even though viññāṇa dhātu is everywhere, it is NOT present inside the physical human body. The “entrapment” of a gandhabba inside a physical body is a kammic effect, as we discussed before.

- This is also why an Arahant does not attain Parinibbāna until the death of the physical body. The “subtle body” of a gandhabba cannot “bear the Arahanthood” and dies instantly when it comes out of the dead body of an Arahant.
- That is also why there are no Arahants in Brahma loka. As soon as a Brahma attains the Arahanthood, the death of the subtle Brahma body follows.

Buddhist Model of Memory Preservation and Retrieval

13. All memories (from an untraceable beginning) are in nāma loka or viññāṇa dhātu, which may also be called “viññāṇa plane” or “nāma loka.” Of course, our kammic energies (kamma bija) are also in nāma loka.

- Those “physical entities” that we see, hear, etc. reside in ākāsa dhātu.
- We are quite familiar with our “physical world” spread out in space (ākāsa dhātu.) Thus, we automatically tend to carry over those concepts to viññāṇa dhātu. However, the viññāṇa dhātu is very different from the ākāsa dhātu. There are no spatial restrictions in viññāṇa dhātu.
- Thus, we cannot talk about a “specific location” for memories. They are just in nāma loka. That is why memories can be recalled without any effort, whether on Earth or the Moon.

Summary of Discussion So Far

14. We have been discussing the role of the brain in our mental activities; see, “Brain and the Gandhabba.” In this Buddhist model of human life, the human body is just a “shell” controlled by the “mental body” or gandhabba. See “Gandhabba in a Human Body – an Analogy.”

- Human existence is not limited to a single life of about 100 years with a human body. Like in many other realms, human existence can be very long, at least several thousand years. See, “Bhava and Jnāmati – States of Existence and Births Therein.” Therefore, each of us could have lived previous human lives within the current human existence (bhava.) If so, some of us may be able to recall one or two past lives. But it is very rare to recall a previous life in another existence, for example, a Deva bhava or an animal bhava.
- As we have discussed, the gandhabba can smell, taste, and touch only inside a physical body. The brain acts as the intermediary in all sensory interactions when the gandhabba is inside a physical body.
- The brain also helps recall memories in the nāma loka, as we discussed above—more details in future posts about that memory recall process.
- In a previous couple of posts, we discussed the role of the brain in some special situations, including total or partial “vegetative states.”

- Posts in this subsection at “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach” started on Aug 02, 2020 (p. 84):
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by coconut »

Do you have a sutta source for any of things you wrote about Ghandhabbas?
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

coconut wrote: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:08 pm Do you have a sutta source for any of things you wrote about Ghandhabbas?
"Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipitaka" posted on Oct 28, 2018 (p.43): ... &start=630
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Today, I will start a new subsection on a systematic approach to study the Tipiṭaka.

Tipiṭaka – The Uniqueness of Buddha Dhamma

The Need for a Systematic Approach

1. Tipiṭaka (Tripiṭaka in Sanskrit) is the Pāli Canon, which contains the teachings of the Buddha. It is self-consistent. It is also a vast collection of texts (in 57 volumes) divided into three sections (Piṭaka) of Sutta, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma.

- How would one even begin to understand that vast material? That is especially a daunting task for someone who has had no prior exposure to Buddha Dhamma.
- Two main issues need to be looked at. (1) Understand the primary and ultimate goal of a Buddhist, (2) Cultivate familiarity with key Pāli words that CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be translated into English.
- Just trying to understand various suttas (with the difficulty of comprehension in a wide range) could be a waste of time. First, one needs to focus on a few suttas that provide the Buddha’s key message. But that itself requires understanding the meanings of some key Pāli words.
- In the new section, “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach,” I am trying to address both those issues. This new subsection will hopefully clarify some related issues.

The Uniqueness of Buddha Dhamma

2. A Buddha is a unique “being.” Even though born a human, he transcended his human birth and attained the Buddhahood. The Buddhahood is a title attained by those who can purify their minds to the utmost. For example, Einstein had a much higher level of “intelligence” than an average human, but a Buddha’s mind is infinitely superior. A Buddha appears in the world very rarely, once in many billions of years.

- A Buddha can “see” the true and complete characteristics of our world. Thus, Buddha Gotama revealed a world of 31 realms that is much more vast and complex than the two realms (human and animal) that are discernible to an average human.
- He also revealed to us a rebirth process that has no discernible beginning. A given “lifestream” evolves from one existence to another among the 31 possible realms.
- Rebirth is not a random process. It follows the principle of causation (causes lead to results; with the removal of causes, no results can manifest.) Translated to Buddha Dhamma, birth results from previous actions DONE WITH greed, anger/hate, and ignorance. With the removal of those “defilements” from a mind, the rebirth cycle will stop since necessary causes have been removed.
- But why would one want willingly to make an effort to stop the rebirth process? Before getting to that, we first need to look at the two main prevailing world views.

False Premise of Other Religions

3. World’s major religions are based on two fundamental premises: (1) If you live a moral life, you get to go to heaven forever, and (2) If you live an immoral life, expect to suffer forever in hell. Such a claim appear sound and logical, and most people are attracted to that simple premise. See, “Wrong View of Creationism (and Eternal Future Life) – Part 1 and Part 2” on Aug 11, 2019 and Aug 19, 2019: ... 26#p523126

- However, the Buddha taught that just living a moral life WILL NOT guarantee the removal of future suffering. Permanent removal of future suffering REQUIRES stopping the rebirth process.
- By living a moral life, one MAY get a “good birth” in the next life, but that WILL NOT stop future subsequent births with harsh suffering.
By the way, if someone says one “should not criticize other religions,” that statement is made out of ignorance. One needs to be able to criticize false premises, no matter where they are found. If one finds a similar issue in Buddha Dhamma, one should bring it up for discussion. I have discussed some such issues at, “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?” on Jul 28, 2019: ... 77#p522377 and “Myths or Realities?“ section at
- Real compassion is to help others understand the true nature of our complex world. That will enable one to get rid of an unimaginable amount of future suffering. Of course, it is up to each individual to decide whether to accept any given explanation about the world’s nature.
- The second major false premise is the view that life ends with the physical body’s death.

Rebirth is Not True? – Another False Premise

4. In the materialistic view, one lives only the present life, ending with the physical body’s death. In this view, there are absolutely no consequences to one’s actions (other than for breaking the mundane laws.) For example, if you kill another human, you may go to jail (if caught,) but there would be no other consequences.

- The book “Free Will” by the atheist intellectual Sam Harris provides the rationale of a “materialist.” At the beginning of the book, he described heinous crimes committed by two individuals, Hayes and Komeisarjevsky. Then on page 4, he writes, “as sickening as I find their behavior, I have to admit that if I were to trade places with one of these men, atom to atom, I would be him: There is no extra part of me that could decide to see the world differently or to resist the impulse to victimize other people.” (highlighting mine.)
- That quote embeds the essence of materialism. A person is just an assembly of atoms and molecules, nothing more. Also, see “Views on Life – Wrong View of Materialism” on Aug 04, 2019: ... 26#p523126
- But then the question arises, “why is Sam Harris NOT CAPABLE of such heinous crimes?” Those crimes were not done at the spur of the moment. They had planned those crimes. I don’t think Sam Harris or any other decent human is CAPABLE of committing such PLANNED crimes. One would first need to get into such a defiled mindset. Hitler planned and killed millions of Jews. Not many people are CAPABLE of such actions.
- Both types of major wrong views discussed above arise because one is not aware of the complex web of causes and effects discussed in detail in the Tipiṭaka. Can things happen without causes?

Nothing Happens Without Reasons/Causes

5. Modern science agrees that nothing happens without a cause(s). In the past, people believed that earthquakes, floods, floods, etc. happen due to the “will of the Creator God.” Now we know that there are natural causes for each of those, and there is no need to invoke a Creator.

- In the same way, if one wins a million dollars in a lottery or breaks a leg in an accident, that would not be the “will of a higher intelligence.” Those are results (vipāka) of previous good/bad actions (kamma.)
- Similarly, there are reasons (root causes) why some people are born healthy and wealthy, some are born at the opposite end, and an infinite variety in between. By the way, all those animals had been humans in past lives too.
- Therefore, just by using that causation principle, one can come to the reasonable conclusion that there must be causes for the diversity of births. One is born poor due to the causes (bad actions) from a previous life. Similarly, one is born an animal because one had behaved like an animal in human existence in the past. A Deva in a Deva realm is born there because of good deeds in past lives.
- There are also reasons why criminals like Hayes and Komeisarjevsky or Hitler are capable of acts of violence. Their defiled minds led them to behave like animals.
- There are reasons (causes) for anything to happen. It is just that finding those root causes is not easy because the world is complex. The rebirth process is necessary for the laws of kamma to bring forth such a variety of possible outcomes within life and from life-to-life.
- Only a Buddha can provide that complete picture. Out of that picture emerges the way to stop future suffering altogether.

Buddhist Explanation Requires a Wider World View

6. The principle of causation that explains all that is Paṭicca Samuppāda. That is at the heart of Tipiṭaka text. I have tried to explain it in various ways. See, for example, “Origin of Life” on Jun 29, 2019: ... 55#p518755

- I have recently started another, more fundamental approach in the series, “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach.” But such approaches are needed ONLY IF one has doubts about the rebirth process or the other underlying aspects like laws of kamma.
- In the Buddha’s days, too, there were people with both wrong views discussed in #3 and #4. There were teachers like Makkhali Gosala, Ajita Kesakambali, Purana Kassapa, Pudhaka Kaccayana, Sanjaya Belatthiputta, and Nigantha Nataputta who taught various versions of wrong views as described in the Tipiṭaka.
- The Buddha engaged them in some occasions to illustrate the soundness of Buddha Dhamma. See, for example, “Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1),” “Aggañña Sutta (DN 27),” and “Cūḷasaccaka Sutta (MN 35).”

The Need to Correctly Interpret the Tipiṭaka

7. Therefore, the basic framework to explain the deep and complex true nature of this world of 31 realms is in the Tipiṭaka. Various aspects are in all three sections (Piṭaka) of the Tipiṭaka: Sutta, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma.

- A Dhamma teacher needs to have the following qualifications: (1) Know the meanings of key Pāli words. (2) The ability to explain succinct and deep verses in the Tipiṭaka.
- Both those REQUIRE the translator to be an Ariya or a Noble Person who has attained the Sotapanna stage.
- Let me make an analogy to explain that.

8. Suppose a medical text needs to be translated from English to French.

- Would it be possible for a person well-versed in English and French to do a good job, UNLESS he/she is also a SPECIALIST in that particular field of medicine?
- Translating a text REQUIRES a deep understanding of the SUBJECT.
- Translating Pāli text in the Tipiṭaka to English REQUIRES much more than English proficiency and some knowledge in Pāli. A CLEAR understanding of the DEEP CONCEPTS in Buddha Dhamma is NECESSARY.
- It is not just a matter of learning Pāli grammar and to use various Pāli-English dictionaries that are available.
- In this particular case, the SPECIALIST is a Noble Person. One MUST be at least a Sotapanna to be able to explain even the basic concepts correctly.

Which Interpretation Is Correct?

9. Of course, the question arises: “How would one know whether anyone claiming to be an Ariya (Noble Person) is indeed one or not?” Any person can make that claim. The Buddha allowed one to make that declaration if one is certain that he/she has been “freed from the rebirths in the apāyā” or has attained the Sotapanna stage. See, for example, “Dutiyabhayaverūpasanta Sutta (SN 55. 29)”: The same passage appears in the “Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (DN 16).”

- That is where each person has to make the decision. If two teachers claim to have the “correct explanation” AND those two are very different, only one is right or closer to the truth. It is up to each person to decide who could be right based on the totality of writings from those two.
- Of course, even an Ariya can make mistakes. Unless one is a Sammā Sambuddha Like Buddha Gotama, one COULD make mistakes. However, those mistakes would be MINOR compared to the key mistakes that an anariya is BOUND TO make. One is an anariya until becoming at least a Sotapanna Anugāmi (who has begun to understand the Noble Truths on Suffering.)

Understanding the “Hidden Suffering”

10. To understand the key message of the Buddha, it is necessary to understand the “big picture” of a rebirth process among 31 realms. The Tipiṭaka explains it in detail. Without an idea of that big picture, it does not make sense to try to “attain Nibbāna.” Attaining Nibbāna MEANS “stopping the rebirth process.”

- One would NOT want to stop a “good thing” from happening over and over. If repeated births is a “good thing,” the Buddha would not have labored for 45 years to convince us that many future births for an anariya (one who has not understood the Noble Truths) will be filled with unbearable suffering.
- The Buddha explained that humans (and other living beings) are incapable of seeing the hidden dangers of the rebirth process.
- The average human perceives that worldly things bring happiness. In the contrary, craving for those worldly things can ONLY lead to unimaginable suffering in future lives. Such cravings CANNOT be willfully suppressed. Those cravings NATURALLY go away when one starts comprehending the real nature of this world.
- That is the “previously unheard Dhamma” of a Buddha. It goes against all the prevailing views that we discussed above.
We will continue that discussion in the next post.

- Posts in this subsection at “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach” started on Aug 02, 2020 (p. 84):
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Pāli Canon Is Self-Contained but Requires Detailed Explanation

Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. That collection has all the necessary teachings of the Buddha. However, the key concepts need to be explained in detail by a Noble Person (an Ariya.)

Initial Oral Transmission

1. After the passing away of the Buddha, his teachings were handed down ORALLY from one generation to the next over about five hundred years. It had been prepared for easy oral transmission. That becomes clear when one listens to the recital of a given sutta. As a child, I had memorized several suttas without much difficulty.

- That is the reason for the Pāli Canon survived entirely in content over that long period of oral transmission. There were groups of bhikkhus who memorized overlapping sections and passed them down. 
- During that period of oral transmission, four Sangayanas (Councils) were recited, and the content was verified.
- That material was written down in that exact form when it became possible to preserve written material for a long time; see #2 below. 
- The Pāli Canon was written down at the Fourth Buddhist Council around 5 BCE. Details at “Sutta – Introduction.“ That is why the Pāli Canon (Tipiṭaka) can be trusted to have the Buddha's original teachings.

The Authenticity of the Tipiṭaka

2. After the initial writing, the whole Tipiṭaka was periodically re-written on specially prepared ōla (palm) leaves over the next 2000 years. The leaves deteriorated over time and needed to be re-written every 100 years or so. Even though that was a very labor-intensive process (there are 57 large volumes in the modern printed version of the Pāli Canon), it served another important purpose.

- Sinhala language (both spoken and written) changed over the past 2000 years. The need to re-write it every 100 or so years made sure that the Sinhala script changes were taken into account. That assured authenticity.
- The following video gives an idea about how those leaves were prepared and what tools were used to write with:

3. The fourth Buddhist Council was the last Council attended exclusively by Arahants. The writing of the Pāli Canon took place during that Council. That provides credence to the authenticity of the Tipiṭaka. Of course, no one can dispute that the three Piṭaka are inter-consistent and also consistent within each Piṭaka.

- The discourses of the Buddha were said to have been delivered in Māgadhi (“maga” + “adhi” or Noble path) language. The written form was called the Pāli. But Pāli does not have its own script, so it was written down with Sinhala script.
- That also provides a clear way of sorting out the Mahāyāna literature. They are all in Sanskrit and never in Pāli. Mahāyānic philosophers wrote all the Sanskrit suttā (more correctly sutrā) in Sanskrit.
- Furthermore, the Tipiṭaka was NEVER translated to Sanskrit. The Buddha prohibited that. See, “Preservation of the Buddha Dhamma.”

“Double-Meanings” of Many Keywords

4. The Sutta Piṭaka contains the bulk of the original discourses delivered by the Buddha. It had been specially put into a format suitable for easy oral transmission.

- The Buddha knew that Buddha Dhamma would be going through periods of decline where bhikkhus capable of interpreting the suttā will not be present. Thus the suttā were composed in a way that only the “conventional” meaning is apparent. That was a necessary step to preserve the suttā, especially before writing became commonplace.
- It is important to remember that Ven. Ananda had memorized all the suttā which he then recited at the First Buddhist Council, just three months after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha.
- Ven. Ananda was Buddha’s personal assistant over the last few decades of the Buddha’s life. It is likely that the Buddha condensed each sutta and Ven. Ananda memorized each of them. The Buddha synthesized each sutta in a “double meaning” way for them to survive the “dark periods.” That point will become clear as we discuss further.
- Then, at the first Buddhist Council, all the suttā were recited and were sorted into various categories (Nikāyās). We still have that same Sutta Piṭaka.
- The Vinaya Piṭaka also remains in the same original form. Only the Abhidhamma Piṭaka was finalized at the Third Buddhist Council. Then all three finalized Piṭakas were written down at the Fourth Council. See, “Preservation of the Buddha Dhamma.”

Need for Detailed Explanations

5. The critical point here is that a sutta is a CONDENSED version of discourse in many cases. For example, the Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta was delivered to the five ascetics overnight. Imagine how many written pages would be if written verbatim! Yet, it was summarized in a few pages. The same is true for all the important suttā. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to transmit all those thousands of suttā.

- Each Pāli keyword (like ānāpāna, anicca, and anatta) is packed with a lot of information. Commentaries (called “Attha Kathā”) were written to expound on the meaning of important Pāli words and also to explain the key verses (like “yē dhammā hetuppabbavā..”)

Importance of the Commentaries

6. Thus, deep suttas were meant to be used with the commentaries. Many Pāli suttā are not supposed to be translated word-by-word.

- Most of those Sinhala commentaries were burned down in the Anuradhapura era; see, “Incorrect Theravada Interpretations – Historical Timeline.“
- Fortunately, three original commentaries written by the main disciples of the Buddha (Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Kaccayaṃa, etc.) during the time of the Buddha had been included in the Pāli Canon (in the Khuddhaka Nikāya) and thus survived. The current revival of pure Dhamma by Waharaka Thero and a few other Theros in Sri Lanka is partially due to their perusal of these three documents (Patisambhidamagga Pakarana, Petakopadesa, and Nettippakarana).
- Once the deeper meanings stay hidden for long times, only a few with the Patisambhidā Ñāna can understand AND explain even those three commentaries. Certain jāti Sotapannas are born with that the Patisambhidā Ñāna from time-to-time. Waharaka Thero was one of them. From the time of Buddhaghosa, the deeper meanings had been hidden until Waharaka Thero unearthed them in recent years.

Tipiṭaka Transmitted With Mundane Meanings During “Dark Periods”

7. Therefore, there are “dark periods” when bhikkhus with the Patisambhidā Ñāna are not born for long times. During such times, people use conventional interpretations. And that served the purpose of keeping the suttā intact, especially before written texts became common. Even though people understood only the mundane versions, the text was faithfully transmitted.

- A perfect example is the Ānāpānasati Sutta (some of which are also part of the Mahā Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta). As we discussed in “What is Anapana?”, the conventional meaning of the word ānāpāna is to tie up “āna” with breath inhaling and “āpāna” with breath exhaling. That was consistent with the breath meditation that has been there in the world at any time. Many yogis practiced it at the time of the Buddha. He learned those methods from such yogis before attaining the Buddhahood.
- Other examples are the translation of the keywords of anicca and anatta as impermanence and “no-self.” Even though those two meanings are embedded in the correct meanings, the deeper meanings are broader. There is no English word that has the same meaning as anicca (or anatta.) - Even the word “dukkha” DOES NOT refer to just the suffering that one feels. Rather, Dukkha Sacca (Noble Truth on Suffering) is about the CAUSES of FUTURE suffering.
- The true meanings of those words will EMERGE as we systematically go through the upcoming posts.

Explanation of Dhamma – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Patiniddēsa

8. A deep dhamma concept may appear in the Pāli Canon (especially in the Sutta and Abhidhamma) as just an “uddēsa” or “utterance.”

- “Niddēsa” is a “brief explanation” that appears in one of the three commentaries mentioned above. Finally, “patiniddēsa” means explaining in detail with examples to clarify complex or “knotty” points by a bhikkhu (or a knowledgeable layperson) during a discourse (or in a text today.) See “Sutta – Introduction.”
- For example, in the suttas on Anulōma Paṭicca Samuppāda it is stated in the uddēsa version: “avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā, saṅ­khā­ra ­pac­cayā viññāṇaṃ, .. ending in “.. Evametassa kevalassa duk­khak­khan­dhassa samudayo hotī” ti OR “the whole mass of suffering.” The STOPPING of the “the whole mass of suffering” is stated in the niddesa version in Patilōma Paṭicca Samuppāda as, “avijjā nirodhā saṅ­khā­ra­ nirodho, saṅ­khā­ra ­nirodhā viññāṇa nirodho,..” ending with “end of the whole mass of suffering.”
- However, both saṅkhāra and viññāṇa arise in an Arahant. That seems to be a contradiction when it is stated that saṅ­khā­ra ­nirodhā (cessation of saṅ­khā­ra) and viññāṇa nirodhā (cessation of viññāṇa.)
- In the commentary Patisambhidamagga Pakarana, it is clarified in the short form (niddēsa) to say that those saṅkhāra removed by an Arahant are [i]abhisaṅkhāra[/i] and that only kamma viññāṇa do not arise in an Arahant.
- Then, that needs to be explained in detail (patiniddēsa) as in the post, “Anulōma Patilōma Paṭicca Samuppāda – Key to Sōtapanna Stage.” posted on March 14, 2019 (p.71): ... start=1050

It Is an Offense to Misinterpret Buddha Dhamma

9. It is an offense to misinterpret suttā or other material in the Pāli Canon. That is in several suttā in the "Bālavagga of Aṅguttara Nikāya 2":

- For example, AN 2.23 is a short sutta that says: “Bhikkhus, these two misrepresent the Buddha. What two? One who explains what was not spoken by the Buddha as spoken by him. And one who explains what was spoken by the Buddha as not spoken by him. These two misrepresent the Buddha. These are two who slander the Tathāgatā.”


10. The following are the key points from the above discussion that I wish to emphasize:

- Many suttā are designed to convey “conventional” meanings while keeping the “deep meanings” embedded in them.
- It is those “deep meanings” that bring out the uniqueness of Buddha Dhamma.
- Word-to-word translation of the suttā does not convey the message of the Buddha. Examples are critical Pāli words like ānāpāna, anicca, and anatta.
- The surviving three original commentaries in the Pāli Canon (Tipiṭaka) can verify the keywords/phrases’ deep meanings. Once a Noble Person clarifies them with Patisambhidā Ñāna, any other Noble Person can explain those meanings to others.

Posts in this subsection at “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach” started on Aug 02, 2020 (p. 84): ... 63#p573863
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

A correction (shown in red) for #8 of the above post:

8. A deep dhamma concept may appear in the Pāli Canon (especially in the Sutta and Abhidhamma) as just an “uddēsa” or “utterance.”

Niddēsa” is a “brief explanation” that appears in one of the three commentaries mentioned above. Finally, “patiniddēsa” means explaining in detail with examples to clarify complex or “knotty” points by a bhikkhu (or a knowledgeable layperson) during a discourse (or in a text today.) See “Sutta – Introduction.”
- For example, in the suttas on Anulōma Paṭicca Samuppāda it is stated in the uddēsa version: “avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā, saṅ­khā­ra ­pac­cayā viññāṇaṃ, .. ending in “.. Evametassa kevalassa duk­khak­khan­dhassa samudayo hotī” ti OR “the whole mass of suffering.” The STOPPING of the “the whole mass of suffering” is stated also in the uddēsa version in Patilōma Paṭicca Samuppāda as, “avijjā nirodhā saṅ­khā­ra­ nirodho, saṅ­khā­ra ­nirodhā viññāṇa nirodho,..” ending with “end of the whole mass of suffering.”
- However, both saṅkhāra and viññāṇa arise in an Arahant. That seems to be a contradiction when it is stated that saṅ­khā­ra ­nirodhā (cessation of saṅ­khā­ra) and viññāṇa nirodhā (cessation of viññāṇa.)
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Vinaya Piṭaka – More Than Disciplinary Rules

Vinaya Piṭaka contains much more information than Vinaya rules for bhikkhus/bhikkhunis.

Introduction – Need to Consult All Three Piṭaka

1. The Buddha said that if there is any doubt or a concept that is not clear, one should check with Sutta, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma. These basically refer to the Tipiṭaka (three baskets) of Sutta Piṭaka, Vinaya Piṭaka, and Abhidhamma Piṭaka.

- Most people refer to the Sutta Piṭaka and forget about the other two. Abhidhamma Piṭaka is a bit hard to understand, and without a firm grasp of basics, it is harder.
- Most people think that the Vinaya Piṭaka is just for the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. But there are sections in the Vinaya Piṭaka that have details that are not in the other two Piṭaka.
- The following article provides details of the Vinaya Piṭaka: “Vinaya Piṭaka – The Basket of the Discipline.” We will only discuss some key features :
- For someone who is “new to Buddhism,” the introductory article by Bhikkhu Bodhi could be useful: “The Buddha and His Dhamma.” ... el433.html

A Balanced Approach – Importance of the Vinaya Piṭaka

2. It is prudent to use a balanced approach to learn Buddha Dhamma. Instead of diving into analyzing deep suttas, one needs first to get an idea about the Buddha, the necessary moral background, and basic concepts like kamma and rebirth.

- In the beginning, both the Sutta Piṭaka and Vinaya Piṭaka can be quite helpful. One should get into Abhidhamma only after getting a good idea about the background, key concepts, and the ultimate goal.
- While the Sutta Piṭaka discusses dhamma concepts, the Vinaya Piṭaka provides the background settings for the following two cases: (1) for many suttas, and (2) for many Vinaya rules.

Background for Key Suttas

3. The Vinaya Piṭaka provides an illuminating background account for many suttas.

- For example, the Mahāvagga ( of the Vinaya Piṭaka has a chronological account of the events following Buddha’s Enlightenment. The English translation at Sutta Central is good: “On Awakening” :
- That account describes in detail Buddha’s daily activities following the attainment of the Buddhahood. It also explains in detail how the Buddha delivered and discussed, over several days, the material condensed in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11) to the five ascetics.
- That is why some highly-condensed suttas SHOULD NOT be translated word-by-word. It takes many posts to discuss in detail, even just the key verses of a deep sutta. See, “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta” : ... ana-sutta/

Background for Vinaya Rules

4. For many years after the Buddha’s Enlightenment, there were no rules for the bhikkhus. Those who ordained as bhikkhus in those early years had fulfilled most of their “pāramitā” and did not need much clarification of dhamma concepts. They also were ‘self-disciplined,” and it was not necessary to impose rules.

- Most Vinaya rules were set up to handle particular situations where one or more bhikkhus had done things that were not appropriate. The Vinaya Piṭaka provides background accounts for many such cases. Such accounts provide insights into dhamma concepts as well as providing reasons for enacting such rules.
- For example, there was no rule for the bhikkhus to abstain from eating after Noon. There were few other reasons to impose that rule, but one reason was to discipline those who started wearing robes to “live an easy life.” That rule was enacted probably after 20 years or so, and by that time, most people had become faithful followers of the Buddha. They held bhikkhus in high regard and took care of all their needs.
- There is an account in the Vinaya Piṭaka for another reason for that rule. One bhikkhu went for an alms-collection after dark, and a woman had thrown dirty water from a cooking pot at the bhikkhu because she could not see him.

5. Here is another example. Any bhikkhu commits a pārājika offense (which is one of the four most serious offenses) by declaring supermundane attainments like jhana or magga phala (uttarimanussadhamma), knowing that he does not have such attainments.

- Of course, any bhikkhu (or a layperson) can declare genuine attainment if the need arose. But if it is done without really having such attainments that is a pārājika offense for a bhikkhu. He must give up the robes since he would not be able to make progress.
- That Vinaya rule was enacted after a group of bhikkhus decided to make such claims to receive alms during a famine. That account is described in the Vinaya Piṭaka: “The training rule on telling truthfully” :
- There were reasons for enacting each of the 227 rules for bhikkhus and 311 rules for bhikkhunis. Those accounts are given in the Vinaya Piṭaka.

“The Life of the Buddha” Is a Good Resource

6. The book, “The Life of the Buddha” by Bhikkhu Nānamoli is good to read and keep as a reference for two reasons:

- It provides a chronological record of the Buddha’s life (after the Buddhahood),
- Detailed accounts of significant events by combining accounts in the suttā with those taken from the Vinaya Piṭaka.

7. For example, it provides the background for delivering some major suttā or verses.

- For example, there is a detailed account (pp. 55-60) of how the Buddha had to perform even a few miracles to convince Uruvela Kassapa, his two brothers, and 1000 of their followers before they agreed to listen to the Āditta Pariyāya Sutta (SN 35.28) or the Fire Sermon (page numbers quoted are for the 2001 First BPS Pariyatti edition.)
- So, we can see that it was not easy in those early days for the Buddha to convince some of the ascetics who had their own beliefs of what Nibbāna was about.

8. The subsequent chapters provide a good chronological account of what happened until the Parinibbāna. One can get a sense of which major suttā were delivered at around what time.

- There are accounts on the two chief disciples, and short accounts of other important personalities such as Anāthapiṇḍika, Angulimāla, Visākha, etc. Chapter 7 describes the formation of the order of bhikkhunis.
- Several encounters with the Māra Devaputta are scattered throughout the book.
- One paragraph on p. 109 is on how the Buddha visited the Tāvatimsa deva realm and delivered Abhidhamma. A summary was conveyed to Ven. Sariputta expanded it with the help of his students to the form that we have today.
- There is a chapter on Devadatta, which describes events that are not found in suttā: For example, how he attained (anāriya) jhānās and iddhi (super-normal powers) powers and using those iddhi powers how he appeared on the lap of Prince Ajatasattu as a baby wrapped in snakes.
It provides a good account of Devadatta’s efforts to take the life of the Buddha and how he lost all those super-normal powers and jhānās at the end.
- More at “The Life of the Buddha” by Bhikkhu Nānamoli” : ... -nanamoli/

An Example From the Book

9. I will provide the following as an example of what is in this book that is not available in any sutta. It describes how the five ascetics attained the Sōtapanna stage over several days with the delivery and discussions of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.

Here is a direct quote from p. 45 of the book (starting from the point where the Buddha had just finished the first delivery of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta):

“Then Aññata Koṇḍañña, who had seen and reached and found and penetrated the Dhamma, whose uncertainties were left behind, whose doubts had vanished, who had gained perfect confidence and became independent of others in the Teacher’s Dispensation, said to the Blessed One: “Blessed One, I wish to go forth under the Blessed One and to receive the full admission?”

“Come, bhikkhu,” the Blessed One said, “The Dhamma is well proclaimed. Live the holy life for the complete ending of suffering.” And that was his full admission.

Then the Blessed One taught and instructed the rest of the bhikkhus with a talk on the Dhamma. As he did so, there arose in the venerable Vappa and the venerable Bhaddiya, the spotless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma. All that is subjected to arising is subjected to cessation. They, too, asked for and received the full admission.

These, having seen dhamma, attained dhamma, knowing dhamma … having attained without the help of another full confidence in the teacher’s instruction, spoke thus to the Blessed One: “May we, Blessed One, receive the going forth in the Blessed One’s presence, may we receive ordination?”

Then living on the food they brought to him, the Blessed One taught and instructed the rest of the bhikkhus with a talk on the Dhamma. All six lived on the food brought back by the three of them. Then there arose in the venerable Mahānāma and the venerable Assaji the spotless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma, and they too asked for and received the full admission”.

More Resources on Background Material

10. The following is also a good resource: “A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life: Readings from the Pali Canon” :

That post has extractions for various suttas and provides accounts before and after the Enlightenment.
Another one (presumably tailored to young children) is: “A Young People’s Life of the Buddha” :
In the next post, I will provide an overview of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Barry8888 »

Reading this thread, made me really sad...

Searching through various ideology and religions, finally landed on Buddha Dhamma. It is the Dhamma that stopped me from wandering here and there searching for meaningless status...

I thought the Buddha Dhamma that flourished in the buddhist land: Thailand and Sri Lanka would be a good place for further learning the Dhamma. Well, things not going well...

In Thailand, there exists numerous buddhist cults that selling amulets or black magics stuffs, and there is even a senior Thai monk called Luang Phor Reusi Lingdam claimed to receive direct teachings from the First Buddha (to which it is not found in Suttas or even history).

And now Sri Lanka, there exists this group of people claim to 'rediscover' Buddha Dhamma and making false claims on Buddha's fundamental teachings on impermanence. What a shame! Distorting the Dhamma and relabeling Buddha's great teachings to some sort of eternalism, yet think themselves on the side of Truths, not knowing they are preparing themselves for Great Schism soon.

I guess just like what Buddha said, trust no one and strive diligently by yourself according Dhamma. Dhamma (Suttantapitaka) would be the final resort.
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