The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana

Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana” step involves different types of nāmarupa and salāyatana depending on whether it is an idapaccayātā or a upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.

Āyatana and Indriya

1. First, let us discuss the difference between a āyatana and an indriya.

- We have six sense faculties: eyes (cakkhu), ears (sōta), nose (ghāna), tongue (jivhā), body (kāya), and the mind (manō). These are the indriya.
- Our initial sense inputs (what we see, hear, etc.) are due to kamma vipāka, specifically due to our birth with a body that can be exposed to various sensory events. At the moment of experience, these sense faculties act as indriya. For example, when we see an attractive person on the road, that is just “seeing the event” with the cakkhu indriya.
- However, based on those initial sensory experiences, we may INTENTIONALLY use those indriya to "enjoy that ārammana." Then those indriya become āyatana. In the above example, if we get attached to that attractive person and keep looking at that person, then we are using our eyes as cakkāyatana. In the same way, sota indriya becomes sotāyatana, and so on for all six.
- They are called salāyatana since there are six of them.

2. There is no equivalent English word for āyatana, so we will keep using indriya and āyatana from now on.

- By the way, pañca indriya (saddhā, sati, viriya, samādhi, paññā) are an entirely different set compared to this set of 6 indriya.
- In general, “indriya” means a “dominant faculty.” Those that are dominant in the interactions with the external world are the 6 indriya in #1; those dominant in spiritual advancement are the 5 indriya in pañca indriya.

Examples of Indriya Becoming Āyatana

3. For example, I am walking on the road and see a nice house. I just happened to see it, and my eyes (cakkhu indriya) were working as indriya; they just presented a picture of that house to my mind. It is a neutral event.

- However, if I form an attachment to the house, I start looking at it for a while (with cakkāyatana). I am thinking about how nice that house is and even about building one like that. At that point, I am using my mind as a āyatana too (mana indriya now becomes manāyatana).
- I have formed greedy thoughts about the house, and now I am accumulating new kamma by generating vaci saṅkhāra (talking to myself with vitakka/vicāra). I use my eyes and mind both as āyatana (cakkhāyatana and manāyatana): I keep looking at the house and keep thinking greedy thoughts.

Indriya Become Āyatana With Abhisaṅkhāra

4. In many cases, when we experience a sensory event through one indriya, we may start using some or all of the indriya as āyatana. In another example, someone offers us a piece of a tasty cake (which is a kamma vipāka). We get the taste of the cake with the tongue (jivhā), and like it so much we may use all six āyatanas to accumulate more kamma (smell and touch it and then ask for the recipe and think about how to make it or where to buy it).

- Those “extra activities” that we do with āyatana COULD BE abhisaṅkhāra (depending on whether greed was involved.) But just eating a cake is not abhisaṅkhāra; see, “Kāma Guna, Kāma, Kāma Rāga, Kāmaccanda”.
- Most of the time, we use our sense faculties as indriya: we see, hear, etc., many things in a day but ignore most of them. But when we experience something that we have a craving for, we start using our sense faculties as āyatana.
- Both types of akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda cycles operate only when we use our sense faculties as āyatana.
- An Arahant ALWAYS uses his/her sensory faculties as indriya. He/she will see, hear, etc., just like us, but will not get “attached to” anything.

5. However, we DO NOT use our indriya as āyatana in most situations. For example, I may become thirsty. Then I need to think about getting a glass of water or asking someone for a glass of water. Both involve vaci saṅkhāra. Then I drink water that involves kāya saṅkhāra (moving body parts.) Those are kammically neutral and NOT abhisaṅkhāra.

- In another example, suppose a robber attacks you with a knife in an isolated place. If possible, you would want to disarm him without killing or hurting him too much in the process. If that is not possible, you may want to try to run away. All those activities involve kāya saṅkhāra. But they NOT abhisaṅkhāra that involve greed, anger, or ignorance (lobha, dosa, moha.) The INTENTION (cetanā) there is to avoid injury to both.

Salāyatana Means Different Things in The Two Types of PS

6. Salāyatana has somewhat different meanings in the idapaccayātā and upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda cycles. That is very much like for nāmarūpa that we described in the previous post,

- At birth (especially in a new bhava or existence), we get a “new set of sense faculties” or indriya. For example, if a human is reborn as a Brahma, A Brahma will have only eyes, ears, and mind. There will be only three indriya (or āyatana) instead of six for the human. But we keep the term “salāyatana” in the Paṭicca Samuppāda as a generic term.
- Thus in upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda, we are concerned with forming a brand new set of āyatana for a new existence (bhava).
- However, when we consider the idapaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda series, we are concerned with how the six āyatanas for a human change from even moment to moment. In particular, the issue is whether they are being used as āyatana or indriya.

Nāmarūpa paccayā Salāyatana” at Patisandhi (Upapatti PS)

7. At the end of existence (bhava), a given lifestream makes a “big jump” from one kind of existence to another. At that time, the base level of viññāna for the lifestream makes a jump, and this is basically the “nāma” of the nāmarūpa. The nāmarūpa for the new existence also has a different blueprint for the new physical body, the “rūpa” part.

- As we did in the previous post, let us consider the case of a lifestream making a transition from a human to a deer. The basic level of viññāna changes from a human to a much lower level of a deer. This new level of viññāna together with the blueprint for the deer is in the new nāmarūpa of the “deer gandhabba” that comes out of the body of the dead human, as we saw before.
- Now when this gandhabba descends to the womb of a female deer, that baby deer starts to grow. Six sense faculties (indriya) suitable for a deer grows in that womb, which may become salāyatana at times in the future after the birth.

8. In another example, a human who exhausted his kammic energy for the human bhava at death and became a Deva in one of the Deva realms. At the cuti-paṭisandhi transition in the last citta vithi of that human, the human gandhabba dies. In the next moment, a Deva gandhabba is born.

- All devas are born fully formed. There is no need for a mother’s womb. That is an ōpapātika birth.
- When that human dies, his body becomes inert like a log. At that very instant, a fully-formed Deva appears in the appropriate Deva world.
- That Deva will have sense faculties appropriate for a Deva. Those are the indriya for the new existence. Those indriya can become āyatana at times depending on the activities of that Deva.

Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana” During a Lifetime (Idapaccayātā PS)

9. During a given lifetime of a deer, human, or a Brahma, that lifestream will have a basic set of indriya (that become āyatana at times) appropriate for that existence: the sense faculties for a human are different from that of a deer or a Brahma.

- But during that lifetime, those āyatana will have minor changes (compared to the drastic changes at paṭisandhi) depending on the activity. Idapaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda cycle describes such changes.

An Example in Idapaccayātā PS

10. In the previous post, we discussed the case of a thief who is planning a theft; see #4 of “Viññāna Paccayā Nāmarūpa.” His viññāna about the theft led him to generate appropriate nāmarūpa (the visuals in his mind of how the theft is to be carried out).

- When he plans the theft, he will use his sense faculties as āyatana to do the “preparatory work.” He will read about the place to be robbed or ask around for relevant information, etc. Each time he does a specific act (whether thinking, seeing, hearing, etc.), the Idapaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda cycles operate.
- Now when he is about to steal, his indriya become āyatana. All his sense faculties will be on high alert. He is watching and listening carefully for anything unexpected, and his whole body becomes tense, pumped with adrenaline.
- All his āyatana will be employed to carry out the task. He will be using his body, eyes, and ears as āyatana. The act of stealing the watch is done with kāyāyatana (kāya āyatana) and involves kāya abhisaṅkhāra. It is an abhisaṅkhāra because it involves greed.
- In comparison, getting the same watch by paying for it is a kāya saṅkhāra where the body is used as an indriya. Both times he used the hand to hold the watch. It is the INTENTION (cetanā) that determines whether the body was used as an āyatana (with kāya abhisaṅkhāra) or an indriya (kāya saṅkhāra.)
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Phassa paccayā Vēdanā….to Bhava

It is critical to understand that “phassa paccayā vedanā” in akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda processes is really “samphassa paccayā samphassa-jā-vedanā.”

Difference Between Phassa and Samphassa

1. In a previous post, we discussed the difference between “phassa” and “samphassa.” See, “Difference between Phassa and Samphassa.” To summarize:

- “Phassa” is pure mental contact. It is just seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, or just an arbitrary thought that comes to the mind without one’s own likes/dislikes. Phassa is a universal cetasika and is present in ALL cittā.
- An ordinary person will also have “phassa” when sense inputs come in as kamma vipāka. For example, one may walk down the street and see an expensive ring on the road. That initial “seeing” is due to a kamma vipāka; that involves only “phassa.” But now, greedy thoughts arise, and he picks it up and quickly puts it in his pocket. He did that action with “samphassa” (with greedy thoughts.)
- Thus the akusala-mūla Paṭicca samuppāda involves “salāyatana paccayā samphassa,” even though it is normally written as “salāyatana paccayā phassa” in the “uddesa” or “brief” statement; see #3 below.
- Only an Arahant will always have just “phassa” and at no time “samphassa.”

Difference Between Indriya and Āyatana

2. We also discussed the difference between “indriya” and “āyatana,” i.e., how we can use our sense faculties either way. See, “Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana.” As discussed there, these six indriya are different from the five indriya in pañca indriya, which are sati, samādhi, saddhā, viriya, and paññā.

- Our basic sense faculties are the six “indriya.” When used with craving/anger/ignorance, they become “āyatana.” Since there are six of them, there are six “āyatana” or “salāyatana.”

Brief and Detailed Explanations (Uddesa, Niddesa, Paṭiniddesa)

3. Akusala-mūla Paṭicca samuppāda processes start with ignorance (avijjā), and we start accumulating kamma by using our 6 indriya as “salāyatana.” At such times, our sensory faculties make “defiled contacts” or “samphassa” as discussed in the above-mentioned posts.

- Therefore, it is clear that the step “salāyatana paccayā phassa” should really be “salāyatana paccayā samphassa.” But for brevity, “salāyatana paccayā phassa” is used.
- In the same way, the next step of “phassa paccayā vēdanā” is really “samphassa paccayā samphassa-jā-vēdanā.”
- It is common practice to write verses in brief in the Tipiṭaka. Such verses need to be explained in detail as I try to do in these posts. See, “Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa.”

Detailed Explanation With an Example

4. Let us take an example to go over the steps of the Paṭicca samuppāda up to now as a review. Suppose there is a teenager who comes to associate with friends that belong to a street gang. They tell him that one needs to enjoy life and has to do “whatever it takes” to make money to enjoy life. If the parents do not have close contact with the teenager, there is no one to explain the perils of such a way of life, and he embraces this wrong vision or “micchā diṭṭhi.”

- Thus due to ignorance (avijjā), the teenager starts doing things, speaking, and thinking like those gang members: “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.”
- Then what occupies his mind most of the time are thoughts (saṅkhāra) related to gang activities and seeking pleasures by using drugs and alcohol: “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāna.” Thus, a corresponding “defiled mindset” occupies his mind at those times. During gang activities, his thoughts are focused on them, and what is in his subconscious during other times is also related to such activities.
- That, in turn, leads to “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa“. He thinks about and visualizes various gang activities: How to sell drugs to make money and how he will enjoy the rest of the time hanging out with the gang.
- Thus all his six sense faculties become “āyatana“: they all are used to find ways to optimize the gang activities and to think about ways to “have to fun”: “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana.”
- Thus inevitably, the sense contacts he makes are attuned for such activities: “salāyatana paccayā phassa” or more explicitly, “salāyatana paccayā samphassa.” Those sensory contacts are defiled with greed, hate, and ignorance.
- Accordingly, most of his feelings are associated with such defiled sense contacts: He gets angry dealing with rival gangs, takes pleasure in beating them up, gets pleasure from drinking and using drugs, etc. Thus “(sam)phassa paccayā samphassa-jā-vēdanā” ensues.

Getting Attached (Taṇhā)

5. Now, we can see how he gets more and more absorbed in gang activities; he gets pleasure from them. Gang activities become regular habits. He gets “stuck” or “gets attached to gang activities” via both greed and hate. This is “samphassa-jā-vēdanā paccayā taṇhā“; see, “Taṇhā – How we attach via Greed, Hate, and Ignorance.”

- The more he continues such activities, it will become harder to dissociate from them. He thinks about those activities even when not actively doing them. Those start working in his “subconscious”; he dreams about them, etc.
- We need to remember that consciously thinking (or talking to oneself) is also vaci saṅkhāra and are kamma that will bring vipāka.

Upādāna Makes One “Fully Engaged”

6. Such strong attachments to gang activities lead to “upādāna“: Upādāna (“upa” +”ādāna,” where “upa” means “close” and “ādāna” means “pull” or “attract”; thus gang activities becomes very close him. Those are what he thinks, speaks, lives, all day long: “taṇhā paccayā upādāna.”

- He may especially get attached to certain specific activities. Alcohol, drugs, or even beating up other people or killing them. And such a specific thing would be his favorite, and that is what he will follow enthusiastically, and others will also encourage.
- He will spend most of his time with those gang members. They will enjoy doing their favorite things together.
- Thus, now he (his mind) will go through all the steps of PS starting with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” repeatedly. This is where one really accumulates kammic energies for new existences (bhava.)

7. This leads to the preparation of future “existence” or “bhava.” For example, suppose his gang becomes notorious for hurting rival gang members. They take pleasure in beating up someone or, in some cases, even killing someone. He will acquire the mindset of a violent animal. He will become easily agitated and angry.

This is “upādāna paccayā bhava“.

- His “bhava” has drastically changed from that of an innocent teenager to that of a violent animal at times.

Paṭicca Samuppāda Is Not a Linear Process

8. Thus, we can see that this progression from “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” to “upādāna paccayā bhava” does not happen in a linear sequence.

Some steps go back and forth. For example, “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” is inevitably also followed by the reverse “saṅkhāra paccayā avijjā,” i.e., the more wrong things he does, that also solidifies his ignorance. When he starts enjoying those immoral acts, he will tend to think that it will provide him happiness in the future. kāmacchanda (strong greed) and vyāpāda (strong hate), the two main components of the five hindrances.

- The five hindrances will suppress his ability to think clearly, and avijjā (ignorance) will grow; thus, “saṅkhāra paccayā avijjā” will also take place.
- There can be many such “inter-loops” that tend to strengthen the downward progression of that teenager.

The Concept of Bhava

9. Let us discuss the concept of a “bhava” in a bit more detail.

- Every time we do a saṅkhāra (a bodily act, speech, or a thought), a corresponding kamma (basically an action) is done. In Buddha Dhamma, too, action will trigger a reaction (or a response or a result) just like in physics. But when dealing with mental phenomena, the reaction (kamma vipāka) can come later, sometimes many lives later.
- This is why science has not yet realized the way to handle mental phenomena. Since most “reactions” (kamma vipāka) come later in this life, or even in future lives, it is not easy to see these “action/ reaction” or “kamma/kamma vipāka” relationships.

Not All Saṅkhāra Are Bad

10. Not all kamma are the same. Some kamma (and corresponding saṅkhāra) are harmless, i.e., they are not potent. Anyone who lives in this world (even an Arahant until death) has to do saṅkhāra to live: An Arahant has to walk, speak, think about things, and all these can be considered to be kamma (saṅkhāra). In some cases, they are put in the category of kriya to separate them specifically.

- In akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda, we are concerned with kamma involving greed, hate, and ignorance. Anytime that happens, such kamma (via saṅkhāra) are potent. They can bring about significant results or kamma vipāka.
- The clearly strong kamma (saṅkhāra) are called abhisaṅkhāra (or kamma patha.) Killing one’s parents is an abhisaṅkhāra. Since it is immoral, it is called an apuññābhisaṅkhāra (apuñña+abhisaṅkhāra). It will lead to horrible consequences (STRONG kamma vipāka).
- Saving the life of a human is also an abhisaṅkhāra. Since it is a moral one, it is called a puññābhisaṅkhāra (puñña + abhisaṅkhāra). It will lead to good consequences.
- As we discussed above, those good or bad consequences may not be apparent even in this life. But they can bear fruit in future lives.

Paṭi Icca” Leading to “Sama Uppāda

11. How the consequences or “reactions” or kamma vipāka due to good or bad kamma are brought about involves the concept of a “bhava,” which can also be called a “kamma bījā” or a “kamma seed.”

- Every time one does a good or bad kamma, the potential to bring about its results remains with him/her. And the more one does the same, the kammic energy grows. It is said that such acts prepare a “bhava” or existence corresponding to that kamma. In fact, this is the meaning of Paṭicca Samuppāda (“paṭi icca” leading to “sama uppāda“); see, “Paṭicca Samuppāda – “Pati+ichcha” + “Sama+uppāda.”
- For example, as the above-discussed teenager keeps doing his violent acts, he makes a “bhava” or a “kamma seed” appropriate for bringing about their consequences.
- During a lifetime, these “bhava” mostly bring about environments suitable for conducting similar acts. It becomes his “state of existence” or “bhava.” He keeps acting violently and may even act like an animal at times. His “animal-like gati” or “animal-like habits” will grow.
- This “bhava” is called a “kamma bhava,” and he may “born” in that existence many times during the lifetime. The idapaccayā Paṭicca samuppāda describes that.
- Of course, when this bhava gets stronger with maintaining that lifestyle, it may grow to be strong enough to bring birth in an actual “animal bhava.” That is described in the upapatti Paṭicca samuppāda.

Idappaccayatā Paṭicca Samuppāda

12. Going back to our example, it becomes easier for that teenager to get that state of existence (bhava.). He is provoked easily, and he can hurt someone without much remorse. Thus whole “Idappaccayatā Paṭicca Samuppāda” cycle can run many times during a day.

- This is why stopping such actions early is important. If one has learned correct “ānāpāna” or “satipatthāna,” then one would know not to keep doing such acts.
- This is also why the environment (parents, family, friends, teachers, etc.) plays such a huge role in one’s life at a young age. We all have both good and bad tendencies (“gati“) coming from previous lives. Which of those get to grow depends on how one’s life is directed by the environment, especially at a young age. When one is old enough, one could, of course, make even drastic changes with effort.

Upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda

13. As a given “kamma bhava” gets stronger with repeated actions, it can become a “upapatti bhava,” i.e., the kamma seed has now become strong enough to provide a patisandhi (rebirth) to a new bhava or existence at the end of the current existence (bhava) as a human; this is the cuti-patisandhi transition that happens in the last citta vithi of the human existence.

- Details of this have been discussed in other posts and will be discussed in the next post as well, but the important thing here is the concept of a strong kamma seed that can give rise to a new existence (rebirth) or a “upapatti bhava.”
- Such strong kamma seeds suitable for upapatti bhava can grow over many lifetimes as well.
- We all likely have many such good and bad strong kamma seeds that we have acquired in our previous lives. From all those good and bad kamma seeds potent enough to provide patisandhi, the most strong one comes to the forefront of the mind at death (if the kammic energy for the present bhava as a human is exhausted). We will discuss this in detail in the next post, but the difference between “bhava” and “jāti” has been discussed in “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Bhava paccayā Jāti….Jarā , Marana,…

An existence (bhava) can result in this life (kamma bhava) or in future lives (upapatti bhava). Both types lead to more suffering in the end. Repetition of kamma bhava (i.e., engaging in similar activities) adds to kammic energies (kamma bija) that can fuel future upapatti bhava.

Kamma Bhava and Upapatti Bhava

1. In a previous post (“Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana“), we discussed how repeated immoral actions of a teenager could bring about a specific type of existence (bhava) during the current life. That is a “temporary existence” (in that example as an alcoholic,). Still, it creates kammic energy that will remain as kamma bhava.

- We also discussed how such kamma bhava could get stronger with time and become strong enough to lead to a whole new existence at death. This is called a upapatti bhava.
- Therefore, there are two types of “bhava“: those that can bring about “experiences” during the current life (kamma bhava) and those that become strong enough to power a whole new existence (upapatti bhava).
- This is explained in the “Paṭic­ca­samup­pāda­ vibhaṅga“ ( “Tattha katamo upādāna paccayā bhavo? Bhavo duvidhena—atthi kamma bhavo, atthi upapatti bhavo“, i.e., “What is upādāna paccayā bhavo? Two types of bhavakamma bhava and upapatti bhava“.
- This is why the Buddha emphasized the importance of the Idapaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda. Avijjā is NOT there all the time. Any unwise action done at a given time is due to avijjā present AT THAT TIME. See, “Avijjā Sutta (AN 10.61)“: “Purimā, bhikkhave, koṭi na paññāyati avijjāya: ‘ito pubbe avijjā nāhosi, atha pacchā samabhavī’ti. Evañcetaṁ, bhikkhave, vuccati, atha ca pana paññāyati: ‘idappaccayā avijjā’ti.” Thus, avijjā may arise based on the conditions at a given time, especially depending on the ārammaṇa (sensory input.)
- One’s actions (kamma) DURING a lifetime accumulate and eventually lead to rebirths. Of course, in some cases, a single immoral action (like killing a human) can lead to a bad rebirth.

Bhava as a “Seed”

2. Another way to look at the concept of a “bhava” is to treat it as a seed. As we discussed in the previous post when we do any act with ignorance (and greed or hate), that helps the growth of a kamma seed (kamma bhava.) With more related kamma done, that seed can grow and bring a new birth (jāti) in the future (with upapatti bhava.) This concept of a kamma seed is easier to comprehend.

- Just like a normal seed has the potential to give rise to a plant, a kamma seed (or a “bhava“) has the potential to bring about a “jāti” or a “birth,” either during this life or in preparing a new life.
- Of course, once the Arahanthood is attained, that Arahant will not grasp a new bhava (since there is no upādāna.) Thus even if there could be many kamma seeds, they don’t get to “germinate.” Ven. Angulimals’s account is a good example. See, “Account of Angulimāla – Many Insights to Buddha Dhamma.”
- I write it as jāti (which is the conventional English term used), but it really is pronounced “jāthi.” See, “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1″ posted on Feb 08, 2020: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155

An Example from the Previous Post – Bhava and Jāti During a Life

3. Let us take the example of the teenager that we discussed in the previous post, “Phassa paccayā Vēdanā….to Bhava“. Because of the influence of his friends, the teenager starts dealing and using drugs and gradually gets drawn into the gang to become a gang member, and eventually starts doing violent acts of beating and killing people.

- When he did the first beating, his friends probably encouraged or even forced him to do it. Now let us suppose that he did not have a saṃsāric habit of doing that kind of violent act. So, when he did the first act, that energized a small kamma seed (or a “bhava.“)

4. The next time he did something similar, this initial kamma seed made it easier for him to do the second act. Once he did that, the seed got bigger, and the next time he may not need much encouragement, and so on. The more he does it, the more easily he can get into that “bhava,” i.e., the stronger the kamma seed becomes.

- This is none other than many idapaccayātā PS cycles running that start with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” (doing immoral deeds due to avijjā), and leading to “upādāna paccayā bhava,” making that bhava (or kamma seed) strong.

- This is another way of expressing “habit (gati; pronounced “gathi”) formation” that I have discussed in many other posts. The more one does acts suitable for a certain “bhava,” the viññāna for similar behavior grows, and it is easier for one to be “born” in a corresponding state; this is “pati+ichcha” leading to “sama+uppāda” as pointed out in the introductory post, “Paṭicca Samuppāda – “Pati+ichcha”+” Sama+uppāda.”
- Thus, the more the teenager does violent acts, the easier it becomes for him to be “born in that state,” i.e., easier for him to do similar acts.
In other words, repeated saṅkhāra leads to strengthening the corresponding mindset or viññāna, and it propagates down the Paṭicca samuppāda series to make “kamma bhava.”

5. Now let us consider when that kamma seed or “kamma bhava” gives rise to a “jāti” in idapaccayātā Paṭicca samuppāda. One day, his drug deal is sabotaged by a rival gang member, and he gets angry. Now he is easily “born” in that “animal-like violent state.” He starts beating up that guy. This is a “jāti” or “birth” in a violent existence.

- When the beating is almost done, that “jāti” is almost over with; it is at the “jarā” (decay) stage, and when it is done, that is the end or death (“marana“) of that “jāti.”
- Thus when that episode is over, that temporary “jāti” of “a violent existence” is over.
- The rest of it, “sōka, paridēva, dukkha, dōmanassa,” or many forms of suffering, comes later in that life or even in future births. The kamma seed that helped him do that act itself got even stronger.

6. That violent action now gives rise to another kamma seed.

- Now, if during that confrontation with the other rival gang member, he himself gets beaten up, then that is due to a kamma vipāka of that new kamma.
- In either case, that “birth” or ‘jāti” (the confrontation with the rival gang member) would give him only misery at the end: “sōka, paridēva, dukkha, dōmanassa.”
- Many such idapaccayātā samuppāda cycles can operate during even a day, and he may be “born” repeatedly in that confrontational state. Some may be minor, like getting mad at his friends, but some could be violent. He has prepared the “bhava,” and he can get into “jāti” or be “born in that bhava” easily.
- Just like when a seed is made, it is easy to get that seed to germinate. Once we prepare a “bhava,” it is easy to be born in that type of existence.

7. Now, we can see that a “bhava” or a “kamma seed” is the potentiality for a particular kind of existence or a “state of mind” during the current life itself.

- He can now easily transition to that “state of mind” (or bhava). For example, he may be having a good time with his family and be in a “normal state of mind.” Then he gets a phone call from a fellow gang member asking for his help with gang-related activity.
- He will instantly be transitioned to the “gang mentality” and be born a gang member. Then he will engage in whatever gang activity.
- But any birth (or jāti) will come to an end. When that activity is over, he may come home and be part of the family life.
- However, that “bad jāti” will ALWAYS lead to “jarā, marana, soka, parideva, dukkha domanassa.” Even if that particular was successful and he leaves there happily, that ACTIVITY will lead to suffering in the future. He had accumulated more kammic energy for that “bad bhava.”

8. But the important thing to remember is that “bhava paccaya jātidoes not mean he is guaranteed to be born in that state. He will likely be born in that state under suitable conditions, for example, upon urged by friends.

- But if he comes to his senses and realizes the perils of such actions, he can make an effort and slowly degrade the potency of that kamma seed. The first thing is to stop doing those more violent acts. If the teenager has enough determination and has moral support from his family, he may get into the moral path.
- If he determines to change, it will be hard in the beginning. It is like trying to stop a moving car. If the car has a lot of speed, it takes a bigger effort to stop. It is easier to stop a slowly moving car before it gains speed. In the same way, it is easier to revert if one realizes that one is on the wrong path early.

Same Example – Future Bhava and Jāti (via Upapatti PS)

9. If the teenager does not change his ways but only gets involved more and more with the violent activities, then that kamma seed (or kamma bhava) will grow bigger and can become strong enough to energize a whole new existence (rebirth) or “upapatti bhava.” Or he can even make a single huge kamma seed by killing someone.

- We all are likely to have acquired several or even many such large bad kamma seeds (i.e., many bad “upapatti bhava“) suitable to yield rebirths in the lowest four realms; we have no way of finding out.
- Of course, we are also likely to have many good kamma seeds (i.e., many good “upapatti bhava“) suitable to yield rebirths in the higher realms.

No Control Over the Next Bhava (in Upapatti PS)

10. And we do not have any control over which “upapatti bhava” is selected at the end of the current bhava. The strongest with the most “upādāna” associated with it gets to the front automatically. The Buddha gave a simile to explain how this selection of a “upapatti bhava” or a strong kamma seed happens at the cuti-patisandhi transition at death.

- Imagine a barn that keeps the cows in for the night. In the morning, all the cows are anxious to get out and roam around. But when the gate opens, it is the strongest cow that has come to the front and is out of the gate when it is opened. The weaker ones don’t even make an effort to be at the front.
- Just like that, it is the strongest “kamma seed” or a “patisandhi bhava” that wins at the cuti-patisandhi transition.
- Let us get back to the teenager that we discussed above. If the kamma seed that he nourished during this life as a violent person with “animal-like” behavior is the strongest one of all his accumulated kamma seeds, then it will bring about an animal existence at the cuti-patisandhi transition.

11. A Buddha could analyze such a upapatti Paṭicca samuppāda cycle in finer details to pinpoint even what type of animal it would be. This is because a Buddha can see not only a person’s whole history in the present life but going back to many eons; thus, he could see which kamma seed will bring the next existence and exactly which kind of “gati” are embedded in that kamma seed. We can only discuss the general trends, and here we have discussed only the main ideas of how these Paṭicca samuppāda cycles operate.

- Going back to the teenager, In this case, it is the upapatti Paṭicca samuppāda cycle that operates, and “bhava paccayā jāti” here leads to the birth in a new existence as an animal using that upapatti bhava.

Many Births Within a Upapatti Bhava – For Humans and Animals

12. Once born in such an animal existence, that animal will grow and then start old age (“jarā“) and eventually die (“marana“).

- The kammic energy of that kamma seed may not deplete in just one birth (this applies only to humans and animals.)
- Since most animals have shorter lifetimes, only a fraction of that kammic energy is likely to have been spent. That animal will keep going through many similar births (“jāti“) until the energy of that kamma seed is spent. It is said that many animals keep coming back to the same life many hundreds of times.

13. This is the difference between “bhava” and “jāti.” Once one gets a new existence or “bhava,” one could have many births (“jāti“) in that existence until the energy of the kamma seed is totally spent. See, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.”

- Thus we can see that the last step of “jāti paccayā jarā, marana, sōka, paridēva, dukkha, dōmanassa” will be with “him” for a long time to come. It is not just one birth but many that will correspond to that existence as that animal.
- In general, when one is in the human “bhava,” one could be reborn many times before the energy of that “good kamma seed” is depleted. This is why some children can recall previous recent lives. However, it is tough to get another “human bhava“; see, “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm.”
- However, especially in Deva and Brahma realms, there is only one birth during that existence as a Deva or a Brahma.

Kamma Seeds Removed for Those With Magga Phala? – No

14. Before closing this section, let us discuss another important point. We mentioned earlier that everyone had accumulated numerous good and bad kamma seeds strong enough to give rise to good and bad rebirths. Then the question arises: Does a person attain the Sōtapanna stage (i.e., make bad rebirths in the lowest four realms void) by eliminating all those corresponding bad kamma seeds?

- While it is possible to reduce the potency of kamma seeds and maybe even eliminate some, it may not be possible to remove all. The Ariya Metta Bhāvanā may remove many kamma seeds, as discussed in the “Bhavana (Meditation)” section, but there could be leftovers. It is said that the Buddha had 11 instances of bad kamma vipāka, including a back problem.
- Therefore, it is very likely that we all have many good and bad kamma seeds strong enough to energize many good and bad rebirths.
- What happens at the cuti-patisandhi moment involves the “upādāna paccayā bhava” step in the upapatti Paṭicca samuppāda cycle. As we recall, this is the step that is responsible for energizing “upapatti bhava” as well as “kamma bhava.”
- But this same step is involved in grasping the strongest “upapatti bhava” at the end of the current “bhava.” If a person dies and if that was the last possible human birth for him/her, then at the dying moment, that comes closest, and he/she will willingly grasp it because that will match the dominant “gati” of him/her.

15. Let us consider the case of the violent teenager again. Suppose he continued with his violent acts and built up a “upapatti bhava” suitable for a violent animal. Then at the dying moment, he could see in his mind (like in a dream) a rival gang member trying to “steal a drug deal”; he will also see a gun close by. By his instincts, he will get angry, grab the gun, and shoot that person. This is an example of a “gati nimitta.”

- That is the “upādāna paccayā bhava” step for the new existence. He has willingly grasped the mindset of an animal, and he will be born as an animal. His next thought-moment is in that animal that comes out of that dead body of the teenager as a “gandhabba” with an invisible fine body.
- This is described in detail in other posts; it needs more background material in “manomaya kaya” for understanding the technical details, but that is not critical here. However, now we can understand how a new existence is grasped at the end of a “bhava” in the upapatti Paṭicca samuppāda cycle.

16. Let us now go back to how a Sōtapanna avoids such bad rebirths even if he/she has many bad kamma seeds. Suppose that Sōtapanna has the same kind of kamma seed as that teenager (could be from a previous life) and that it is strong enough to come to the forefront of his/her mind at the dying moment.

- What happens is that a Sōtapanna will not grab the gun and shoot that person even if it is his/her worst enemy doing something that could make him/her mad. His/her mindset or “gati” has been permanently changed. Thus “upādāna paccayā bhava” step will not be executed for that kamma seed.
- In that case, now the next potent upapatti bhava will come to the forefront. If that is also a bad one suitable for rebirth in the lowest four realms, that will be rejected. Eventually, he/she will grasp a rebirth compatible with his/her “gati” at that dying moment, which for a Sōtapanna will never be the “gati” of a being in one of the four lowest realms. This happens automatically and very quickly. We do not have conscious control over it.
- Thus one’s rebirth will be determined by how one lives (and had lived previous lives). If one lived like an animal, one would be born an animal no matter how much one wishes to have a “good birth.” As we discussed above, the real danger is that we do not know how we had lived our previous lives.
- This is why Paṭicca samuppāda means “pati + ichcha” leading to “sama” + “uppāda” or what one grasps willingly and habitually is what one that will operate automatically at the dying moment; see, “Paṭicca Samuppāda – “Pati+ichcha”+” Sama+uppāda.”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna)

Lōka Samudaya is not about the “creation of a whole new world.” When someone dies and is reborn, that is the “arising of a new world.” The stopping the rebirth process is lōka nirōdhaya, same as Nibbāna.

Meanings of Samudaya and Nirōdhaya

1. Lōka Samudaya (“san” “udaya“) means “arising of this suffering filled world.” Lōka nirōdhaya (“nir” “udaya“) means “stopping the arising of this world.” “This world” means the wider world of 31 realms.

- However, as we have discussed before, the meanings of words (whether Pali or in any language) need to be understood in the context. Thus, lōka Samudaya is not about the “creation of a whole new world/universe.” Let us consider an example to understand the implied meaning.

Clarification With an Example

2. Suppose a Deva dies and is reborn a Brahma. Deva‘s world is very different from the Brahma world. A Deva can experience all 6 sensory experiences, but a Brahma cannot experience taste, smell, or physical touch, and thus food, odors, and solid bodies are absent in Brahma loka. Thus, when Deva dies, that is the end of his “Deva world,” and now he is born in an entirely different Brahma world.

- Why is death not the end for that Deva? It is not the end because that “lifestream” had accumulated kammic energies (kamma bija) to initiate not only a Brahma bhava but many more bhava into the future. So, when Brahma dies in the future, he may be reborn in another realm, including the animal realm. Compared to a few billion people, there are billions of times animals on this Earth (number of ants is many trillions); see #2 of “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm.” I will post this at Dhamma Wheel in a few days.
- That example illustrates the following: (i) Within the rebirth process, one’s world in one realm ends periodically. But that is not the end because there are enough bhava energies accumulated to sustain existences (bhava) among many realms well into the future. (ii) That process would end ONLY when avijjā (and taṇhā) are removed without a trace, i.e., upon attaining the Arahant stage. At the end of that existence, that “pure mind” would not grasp (upādāna) a new bhava. See, “Concepts of Upādāna and Upādānakkhandha.”
- Another critical point is that most rebirths are in the lowest four realms (apāyās.) That is why there is NET suffering in the rebirth process.
- Therefore, lōka Samudaya means the accumulation of new bhava (kammic energy.) Lōka nirōdhaya means Nibbāna.

Cause and Effect in Buddha Dhamma – Paṭicca samuppāda

3. The above example in #2 provides a long-term view of “life.” Most of us tend to live this life and don’t worry about what happens after we die. The above worldview of the Buddha is different from two other worldviews: (i) All other major religions say there can be a place of permanent happiness (heaven) after death. (ii) Materialists (or atheists) believe that death is the end, and there is no need to seek Nibbāna. See “Origin of Life” starting on June 29, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755

- But Budha Dhamma is based on the causes and effects of those causes. As long as there are causes (hētu) for the world to arise for a given living being, that living being will be reborn repeatedly. During that rebirth process, there will be much more suffering in the apāyās than any temporary happiness experienced in the “good realms” at or above the human realm.
- With the removal of those causes (lōbha, dōsa, mōha), the rebirth process will stop, and one would be free of suffering and would have attained Nibbāna.

What Is Nibbāna?

4. The ultimate answer lies in the following description in Abhidhamma. When reduced to the “ultimate realities,” there are only 4: citta, cetasika, rupa, and Nibbāna.

- The first three belong to “this world of 31 realms.” Nibbāna does not have anything that belongs to this world
- The absence of ANYTHING of this world in Nibbāna is stated clearly in many suttās. Details in “Nibbāna “Exists,” but Not in This World.”

Life in the 31 Realms Arise Due to 6 Root Causes

5. There are six root causes (mūlika hētu) that lead to the arising of one’s world: lōbha (greed), dōsa hate/anger), mōha (having ten types of micchā diṭṭhi) and alōbha (non-greed), adōsa (non-hate/anger), amōha (absence of mōha). Those latter 3 are only “superficial” and thus are mundane versions of alōbha, adōsa, amōha.

- When one acts with one or more of lōbha, dōsa, mōha, one is giving rise to kamma bīja (kammic energy) that can lead to rebirth in the four “bad realms” or the apāyās. In other words, one is generating bad abhisaṅkhāra or “apuñña abhisaṅkhāra,” therefore, “bad viññāna” etc., which lead to “bad bhava” and “bad jāti” (see, “Paṭicca Samuppāda“).
- In the same way, one or more of mundane alōbha, adōsa, amōha, give rise to kamma bīja that can lead to rebirth in the “good realms” at or above the human realm. There, one is generating good abhisaṅkhāra or “puñña abhisaṅkhāra” with “good viññāna,” etc., which lead to “good bhava” and “good jāti.”

There Are No “Good Reams” In Ultimate Reality

6. However, those “good realms” at and above the human realm are also NOT free from suffering. Old age and death are inevitable in any realm.

- To look at it from another point of view, the two sets of 3 root causes are like the two faces of a coin. It is not possible to get rid of just one face of a coin.
- It is only when one really comprehends the Four Noble Truths (closer to Anagami/Arahant stages) that one can clearly understand the futility and dangers of rebirths in ANY realm of “this world.”
- That is why one must follow the path sequentially. See, “Is It Necessary for a Buddhist to Eliminate Sensual Desires?“

Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha Lead to Apāya Births – Mundane Alōbha, Adōsa, Amōha to Births in Good Realms

7. Lōbha, dōsa, mōha are food (āhāra) for the apāyās (the lowest 4 realms.) That is why they are called kilēsa or “impurities.” That means they are food for the kamma bīja that give rise to births in the apāyās.

- In the same way, mundane alōbha is food or āhāra for the human (manussa) and Deva realms.
- Mundane versions of alōbha and adōsa are āhāra for the Brahma realms.
- Both alōbha and adosa involve some level of amoha, but not necessarily paññā (the wisdom that comes from understanding the Noble Truths.).
- However, amōha is not a cētasika (mental factor.) Thus, it is the paññā cētasika that one cultivates in the Noble Eightfold Path. Optimization of paññā happens at the Arahant stage.

All 6 Root Causes With Mundane Amoha Sustain the Rebirth Process

8. Therefore, all six root causes lead to the continuation of the rebirth process. However, one needs to work to stop only the three “bad root causes” to stop the rebirth process (AND cultivate paññā): “rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayoidaṁ vuccati nibbānan’ti.” See “Sāmaṇḍaka Sutta – SN 39.1“

- The path to Nibbāna involves the reduction of the three immoral roots and the cultivation of the three mundane moral roots AND paññā.
- To attain Nibbāna, one MUST be in a good realm. Therefore, the first objective is to avoid births in the apāyās. The three bad roots (lōbha, dōsa, mōha) are also called kilēsa (or keles or impure) because they can lead to rebirths in the apāyās.
- Once one is born in a good realm (especially the human realm), one can learn the Noble Truths from a Nobel Person (Ariya) and, with sufficient work, comprehend them. That will elevate mundane amoha to paññā gradually.

Paññā Is Not Mundane Amoha – It Is Comprehension of Noble Truths

9. Mundane amoha is just the absence of lobha (greed) and dosa (hate/anger.) The deeper (lokottara) amoha is paññā (wisdom,) comprehension of the Four Noble Truths (which is the same as comprehending Paṭicca Samuppāda or Tilakkhana.) If one understands one of those three, one would understand the other two as well.

- When one comprehends the Four Noble Truths, one will lose the desire to be reborn in the “good realms” too. That is the same as “seeing the anicca nature.” It is also the same as truly understanding how the cultivation of various types of saṅkhāra (with avijjā) leads to births among the 31 realms.
- When one’s paññā becomes optimum at the Arahant stage, one's MIND will not go through the “upādāna paccayā bhava” step in Paṭicca Samuppāda leading to ANY rebirth. See, “Concepts of Upādāna and Upādānakkhandha.”
- That is why completing the eighth step of Sammā Samādhi in the Noble Eightfold Path enables one to get to Sammā Ñāna stage (when paññā is optimized.) Then one attains Sammā Vimutti (complete release from this world), i.e., “dasa aṅgehi samannāgatō Arahant.”
Before we discuss lokottara amoha, let us discuss the six root causes a bit more.

Moha and Mundane Amoha Can Arise in Any Average Human (Puthujjano)

10. Thoughts can arise in mind with EITHER moral roots (based on mundane amoha) OR immoral roots (based on moha.)

- Moral deeds (puñña kamma) are done with mundane amoha and involve puñña abhisaṅkhāra (puññābhisaṅkhara.) Immoral deeds (pāpa kamma) done with moha involve apuñña abhisaṅkhāra (apuññābhisaṅkhara.).
- Puñña kammā make a mind joyful and bring good vipāka. Pāpa kammā leads to a stressed-out mind and leads to bad vipāka.
- For an average human, avijjā remains as anusaya (hidden) even with mundane amoha. This is why a puñña kamma done by an average person is not strictly a kusala kamma. They belong to puññābhisaṅkhara that arise with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.”

Kusala-Mula Paccayā Saṅkhāra” In Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda

11. When someone starts following the Noble Path, that avijjā anusaya will be removed in stages. Thus, at least some puñña kamma will be effectively kusala kamma.

- That is why the type of saṅkhāra in the kusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda are kusala-mula paccayā saṅkhāra.“ Thus such saṅkhāra may be called kusala saṅkhāra.” We will discuss this in a future post.
- “Kusala” comes from “ku” + “sala,” or getting rid of immoral (“ku“). All kusala kammā involve the three “good roots” of alōbha, adōsa, amōha AND with comprehension of the Noble Truths.
- As we know, puññābhisaṅkhara come under “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” in akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda. See #6 of “Saṅkhāra – What It Really Means.” on Nov 01, 2018 (p. 43): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=630
- By Arahanthood, all puñña kamma would be kusala kamma, but since an Arahant would not have defilements, there are no akusala to deal with. Thus, any puñña kamma done by an Arahant is a puñña kriyā (just a good deed without kammic power.)

Difference Between Puñña Kammā and Kusala Kamma

12. Puñña kammā are meritorious actions that CAN lead to rebirth in the higher realms. However, when one does puñña kammā without any comprehension of the Noble Truths, avijjā is involved indirectly; this is called “upanisa paccayā,“ and I need to write a post on that. Even though done with mundane amoha, avijjā contributes indirectly to puñña kammā.

- This is explained by the “Sabhiya Sutta (Snp 3.6)” in #4 of “Kusala and Akusala Kamma, Puñña and Pāpa Kamma.”

13. Therefore, one can do puñña kamma without getting rid of avijjā, i.e., without cultivating paññā. Most people engage in giving, have compassion for others, etc. That is a crucial point to remember.

- Anyone who has any of the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi HAS NOT removed mōha, and thus HAS NOT started cultivating paññā. Such a person can still do good deeds (like giving.) However, their javana power is not high compared to someone who has removed the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi.
- By the way, the javana power of kusala citta goes up even more when one starts comprehending Tilakkhaṇa. In the Abhidhamma language, javana power is high in “ñāṇa sampayutta citta,” where ñāna is wisdom (paññā). And paññā grows with increasing comprehension of the Noble Truths/Tilakkhaṇa/Paṭicca samuppāda.

Two Eightfold Paths

14. Before getting to the Noble Eightfold Path, one must follow the mundane eightfold path; see, “Mahā Cattārisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty)” on Oct 23, 2018  (p.42): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=615

- Therefore, “good deeds” are done at two levels: within the mundane eightfold path, one can do puñña kamma. More and more of the same deeds become “kusala kamma” as one starts comprehending the Noble Truths; see, “Puñña Kamma – Dāna, Sīla, Bhāvanā.”
- In other words, puñña kamma are “contaminated” to some degree, and they become more potent kusala kamma in the Noble Path with the increasing comprehension of Tilakkhana.
- For example, in “mundane alōbha,” one loses craving for some things and is willing to share those with others. In “lōkuttara alōbha,” one just loses craving by seeing the worthlessness of things in this world.

Until Comprehending Noble Truths, All Kamma Perpetuate the Rebirth Process

15. It is inevitable that even the most moral “average person (puthujjano)” WILL generate “bad abhisaṅkhāra” either during this life or in the future life until one REMOVES the three bad root causes from the mind via comprehending Tilakkhaṇa. Until then, they remain as anusaya and come to the surface under suitable conditions.

- For example, X may see an enticing object, and greed (lōbha) may come to his mind.
- But at another time, X may see a hungry person and may buy that person a meal with MUNDANE non-greed (alōbha), non-hate (adōsa), and amōha.
- An Arahant has removed all six root causes. But he/she may provide a meal to a hungry person out of paññā (wisdom) — doing the appropriate thing; it is also called a kriyā, an action without kammic consequences.

Nibbāna – Complete Elimination of lōbha, dōsa, mōha

16. Suppression or temporary absence of lōbha, dōsa, mōha lead to mundane levels of alōbha, adōsa, and amōha. At that time, one would be able to comprehend the Four Noble Truths and cultivate paññā when paññā peaks at the Arahant stage of Nibbāna, lōbha, dōsa, and mōha leave without any residue.

- Once one comprehends the futility and dangers of remaining in the rebirth process, one will do “good deeds,” not expecting anything in this world. In other words, one would engage in “good deeds” only with the expectation of attaining Nibbāna, i.e., to stop the rebirth process.
- That is what is meant by “seeing the anicca nature.” All our efforts with the expectation of happiness in this world are only an illusion. All such efforts are with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā.” Then one would only engage in “kusala-mula paccayā saṅkhāra.”
- That is a central idea to comprehend. As one progresses on the mundane eightfold path — removing the 3 immoral roots — ten types of micchā diṭṭhi will disappear. At that time, it will be possible to comprehend the Four Noble Truths/Paṭicca samuppāda/Tilakkkhana and paññā will start to grow, and all 6 root causes for rebirths among the 31 realms will diminish and disappear. That is lōka nirōdhaya or Nibbāna.


17. This was a long post. I tried to include as many key points as possible. But it is highly condensed and one needs to read the links to find details.

- Loka samudaya happens with akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada processes: “Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda” and “Akusala-Mūla Upapatti Paṭicca Samuppāda” that we have discussed.
- Lōka nirōdhaya is attained via “Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda.” I will discuss this in a future post.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I promised to post, "How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm.” That was an old post at and I have re-written it with a new title.

Rebirth – Connection to Suffering in the First Noble Truth

Rebirth in the lowest four realms is responsible for the “long-term suffering” that the Buddha pointed out in the First Noble Truth. Even though there is less suffering in the higher realms, most rebirths are in the lower realms. That is why there is NET suffering the rebirth process by a huge margin.

Living a Moral Life Is Not Enough

1. Many people believe that if we live a “good, moral life,” a human rebirth or rebirth in higher deva worlds is guaranteed. That is a misconception. Even if we do not accumulate a single new bad kamma in this life, we may have accumulated many bad kamma in past lives. That is why it isn’t easy to get a human existence (bhava).

- Evidence for rebirth is at “Evidence for Rebirth.” Rebirth can occur not only as a human but in any of the 31 realms. Most suffering in the cycle of rebirth occurs in the lowest four realms: niraya (hell), asura, animal, and peta realms. Of those four, only the animal realm is visible to us. They are collectively called the apāyās.
- Getting a “human existence (bhava)” is rare. But once one grasps a human bhava, one could be born (jāti) many times as a human until the kammic energy for that human bhava is exhausted. That is why children can recall past lives. In between consecutive human births, that lifestream exists in the nether world or “para lōka” as a gandhabba with a subtle body; see, “Hidden World of the Gandhabba: Netherworld (Para Lōka).”
- The 31 realms of existence are described in “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma.”

Most Rebirths Are in the Four Lowest Realms

2. Starting with the “Nakhasikhā Sutta (56.51)” there are about 80 suttās in the Saṁyutta Nikāya 56 that describe the chance of rebirths in good realms (human and above) compared to those in the lowest 4 realms.

- Here is the English translation at Sutta Central: “A Fingernail (SN 56.51)“: You can go through the whole series there.
- Those suttās specifically state the rarity of rebirth in a “good realm” and the common occurrence of rebirths in bad realms. Many suttās state specifically that for a sentient being in any realm, rebirths will be mostly in the niraya (hell), animal (tiracchāna), hungry-ghost (peta) realms; see SN 56.102 through SN 56. 131.
- Another version of the Nakhasikhā Sutta is in Saṁyutta Nikāya 20, summarized below.
- Before that, it is good to emphasize the difference between a human bhava and births with a human body (jāti) within that human bhava.

Human Bhava Is Rare – But It Can Last a Long Time

3. Some people ask the following question: If human birth is so rare, why do rebirth accounts indicate human rebirth only after few years of death? The answer lies in the fact that it is a human bhava that is rare.

- When a sentient being born a human, that “human bhava” has a specific kammic energy associated with it, say several thousand years worth. In that case, the person may be born (jāti) many times with a human body. In between, that human lives with only a manomaya kāya (i.e., as a gandhabba.)
- For example, if a Deva dies and gets a human bhava, then at the cuti-paṭisandhi moment, a human gandhabba is born into human bhava. After some time, that gandhabba gets into a womb, and a human baby is born. When that human grows old and dies, there is still much more time left in the human bhava. Thus, the gandhabba comes out of that dead body and waits for another womb. See “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein” and “Cuti-Patisandhi – An Abhidhamma Description.”
- In most other realms (i.e., Deva, Brahma), there is only one jāti within that bhava. Multiple jāti within a bhava is common in the human and animal realms.
- It isn’t easy to get a human bhava, but once in a human bhava, one can be born tens or even hundreds of times as a human. A given animal may be reborn thousands or even millions of times in that animal realm to exhaust that kammic energy.
- Of course, we cannot see realms other than the human and the animal realm. We can easily discern the rarity of human bhava by comparing the number of humans to the number of animals. While there are only about 8 billion humans, there are multiple trillions of ants alone! But modern science has shown that billions of microscopic sentient beings live in a single human body. Let us discuss that next.

The abundance of Animal Life Compared to Human Life

4. Even though the similes given in the suttās below may seem to be out-of-proportion with the realities, it is not. Modern science has given a boost to Buddha Dhamma by making many things clear. Ordinary humans were not aware of the existence of innumerable microscopic living beings until the invention of the microscope in the 1500s. In 1676, Van Leeuwenhoek reported the discovery of micro-organisms. He observed numerous tiny living beings in a glass of water; see,"Microscope" :
Here is a short video showing countless such microscopic creatures:

- If you go out and dig a bit of dirt, there could be millions of living organisms there. There may be a few humans in a household, but possibly billions or even trillions of microscopic living beings. The oceans cover two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, and the living creatures there are much more densely packed. And there are beings in other 29 realms that we cannot see. Seven billion or so humans in this world are indeed a thumb-full compared to countless living creatures associated with the Earth (as the Buddha stated in the Nakha­sikha Sutta; see below).
- Uncountable sentient beings are living in the water. One can actually “see” such microscopic beings in a glass of water if one develops abhiññā powers; see “Power of the Human Mind – introduction.” One time, a bhikkhu who had developed abhiññā skills but had not becomes an Arahant saw the presence of a large number of microscopic beings in a glass of water. He tried to filter them out but was unsuccessful and became distraught. The Buddha told him that “it is not possible to live in this world without harming other beings. It is necessary to live this life to attain Nibbāna” and to drink the water. The INTENTION there is to quench the thirst; see “How to Evaluate Weights of Different Kamma.”
- Modern science has confirmed that millions of living beings are on a single human body (and any other large animal). Scientists have used sophisticated instruments to see such microscopic creatures. See, “There are as Many Creatures on your Body as there are People on Earth!“.
- Now, let us briefly discuss a few of the suttās mentioned in #2 above.

The Rarity of Human Existence

5. As mentioned in #2 above, the Nakha­sikha Sutta (SN 20.2): provides a good analogy of rare human existence. We have that opportunity, and we should not waste it.


At Sāvatthī. Then the Buddha, picking up a little bit of sand on his fingernail, addressed the bhikkhus: “What do you think, bhikkhus? Which is more: the little bit of sand on my fingernail, or this great Earth?”

Bhante, the great earth is far more. The little bit of sand on your fingernail is tiny. Compared to the great Earth, those cannot be compared or even imagined; it is not even a significant fraction.”

“In the same way, bhikkhus, sentient beings reborn as humans are few as this bit of sand on my fingernail. But those not reborn as humans are many as the sand on this great Earth. Therefore, you should strive diligently and without delay to end this suffering in the rebirth process”.

6. Another favorite sutta of mine is the Dutiya­chig­gaḷa­yuga ­Sutta (SN 56.48):


Bhikkhus, suppose that this great Earth had become one mass of water, and a man would throw a yoke with a single hole upon it. An easterly stream would move it eastward. A westerly stream would move it westward; a northerly flow would move it northward. A southerly stream would move it southward.

There was a blind turtle that would come to the surface once every hundred years. What do you think, bhikkhus, would that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole?”

“It would be a rare occurrence, Bhante, that the blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, would insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole.”

“So too, bhikkhus, how extremely rare that one is born a human.

You have this rare chance now, bhikkhus, to be not only born a human but be born while a Tathāgata has arisen in the world. While the Dhamma and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata shines in the world.

Therefore, bhikkhus, you should strive without delay to understand the following. ‘This is suffering (dukkha). This is the cause of suffering (dukkha samudaya). This is how that cause can be removed (dukkha nirōdhaya). And this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkha nirōdha gāmini patipadā).’”

The other related issue is that this rebirth process is NOT going to stop until one truly comprehends the FACT that existence in this world of 31 realms is not only unfruitful, but it is DANGEROUS. That is the “anicca nature” in Tilakkhana.
This rebirth process has no “discernible beginning,” as stated by the Buddha. We have suffered mightily, and this is the opportunity of a rare human life to end that suffering.

Unimaginable Length of the Rebirth Process

7. There are 20 suttās in Saṁyutta Nikāya 15 (SN 15.1 through SN 15. 20) that provide various analogies to describe the length of the rebirth process. Let us look at the Assu Sutta (SN 15.3):


First, the Buddha made the famous statement: “Anamataggoyam bhikkhave, samsarō pubbā kōti na pannāyati avijjā nivārananam sattānam taṇhā-samyōjananam sandhāvatam samsāratam.“

- Translated: “Bhikkhus, this rebirth process has no discernible (na pannāyati) beginning. Beings whose minds are covered by ignorance and are bound to this rebirth process with bonds of craving.“

The rest of the sutta is as follows:

“What do you think, bhikkhus: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while trapped in this rebirth process or the water in the four great oceans? (crying because of being born into a bad birth or being separated from loved ones in good births).”

“As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Bhante, the tears we have shed while trapped in this beginning-less rebirth process is greater than the waters in the four great oceans.”

“Excellent, bhikkhus. It is good that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me. That is the larger: the tears you have shed while trapped in this beginning-less rebirth process — not the water in the four vast oceans.

Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while trapped in this beginning-less rebirth process are greater than the water in the four vast oceans.

Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father, death of a brother, death of a sister, death of a son, death of a daughter, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth. The tears you have shed over diseases while trapped in this beginning-less rebirth process would fill the four vast oceans.

Why is that? The beginning of this rebirth process is not discernible.”

- In another analogy in SN 15.13, the blood from uncountable times where one is killed while born a specific animal (deer or cow, for example) is more than the water in the four oceans.


1. As pointed out in those 20 suttās (SN 15.1 through SN 15. 20), Buddha used many analogies to describe the unimaginable length of the rebirth process (Saṁsāra): it is infinite. There is no discernible beginning to “sentient life.” The principle of Causality dictates that there can be no “beginning.”

- Infinity is hard to comprehend. Scientists have only recently realized this; see “Infinity – How Big Is It?“ and “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin.”
- Many scientists are now discussing these “hard to fathom” ideas about infinity. Of course, they are unaware of Buddha’s teachings. See, for example, “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch (2011).

2. The other suttās discussed in #2 above emphasize that it is rare to be born a human, Deva, or a Brahma in this rebirth process.

3. Therefore, each of us has spent MOST of that time in the suffering-filled lowest 4 realms (apāyās.) Even though the realms at and above the human realms have much less suffering compared to the apāyās, the time spent in those higher realms would have been insignificant.

- This is why it is unwise to seek rebirths in higher realms. Even though the lifetime in a Deva/Brahma realm can be many millions of years, that is INSIGNIFICANT compared to the time spent in the apāyās over the long run.
- We CANNOT avoid births in the lower realms as long as we do not comprehend these facts (Noble Truths) about this world. The deeper one’s understanding is, the clearer it becomes. Then one’s taṇhā and upādāna for “worldly pleasures” will AUTOMATICALLY diminish and disappear. That CANNOT be forced.

4. That is the suffering addressed in the First Noble Truth (the truth about suffering or “dukkha sacca“.) The Second Noble Truth is about the causes for that suffering (the truth about “dukkha samudaya“.) The Third Noble Truth says we can stop future suffering by eliminating those causes (the truth about “dukkha nirodhaya“.). The Fourth Noble Truth is the way to achieve that goal (the truth about “dukkha nirodha gāmini patipadā. “)

- Most human beings head to the apāyās because they are unaware of the ten immoral actions; see “Ten Immoral Actions – Dasa Akusala” and “How to Evaluate Weights of Different Kamma.” It is also essential to know the baseline procedure to avoid such immoral actions and to cultivate moral behavior; see, “Punna Kamma – Dāna, Sīla, Bhāvanā.”
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Introduction - What is Suffering?

"Dukkha Sacca" Means "The Truth About Suffering"

1. "Dukkha sacca" (the latter pronounced "sachcha") refers not only to suffering hidden in the rebirth process but also to the elimination of it.

- Buddha never denied that there are "pleasures to be had" in this world. In fact, he pointed out that there are Deva and Brahma realms where there are enhanced sensual (kāma) and jhānic pleasures compared to the "pleasures" available in the human world.
- But the problem is that ANY given sentient living being spends much more time in the four lowest realms (apāyās) than the time spent in the human, Deva, and Brahma realms (in the rebirth process.) See, "Rebirth – Connection to Suffering in the First Noble Truth."
- Therefore, there is NET suffering in the rebirth process by a HUGE margin.

Misconceptions About Dukkha Sacca (First Noble Truth)

2. Many people are addicted to the temporary "peace of mind" achieved by breath meditation or similar "meditation techniques." But that deals with only "superficial suffering." The Buddha pointed out that there is much harsher suffering in the rebirth process.

- Buddha Dhamma is all about ending that harsher and longer-term suffering AND getting to a state with ABSOLUTELY NO suffering. "Nibbānic bliss" or "happiness in Nibbāna" refers to the bliss of not having to experience even a trace of suffering.
- A crude analogy is someone who has had a migraine headache all his life and finally getting rid of it. However, it is only an analogy, because rupa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāna are all ABSENT in Nibbāna (after the death of an Arahant.)
- That is the implication of not having the 3 ultimate realities of citta, cetasika, rupa in Nibbāna. So while Nibbāna exists, we cannot describe it in terms of our terminology.
- See #4 of the post, "Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna)."

Nibbānic Bliss Is About Total Absence of Suffering

3. This is also explained, for example, in the "Nibbānasukha Sutta (AN 9.34)." The verse "Nibbānaṁ paramaṁ sukhaṁ" DOES NOT refer to a "sukha vedanā" in the sense of a feeling because there are no vedanā in Nibbāna. See, “Nibbāna “Exists,” but Not in This World.”

- Many people equate "jhānic experiences" with Nibbāna. Jhāna are the mental states of Brahma worlds, and thus,  jhānic experiences belong to "this world of 31 realms." Any sentient being, including any animal, had attained jhāna and had been born in Brahma worlds many times in their deep past!
- Nibbāna is simply the total absence of ANY suffering. That is the "Nibbānic bliss." We cannot compare that to any "sukha vedanā" experienced by any person, Deva or Brahma. That is why Prince Siddhattha and many kings and wealthy people gave up those "princely lives" to seek Nibbāna.
- So, how bad is this suffering in the rebirth process?

Understanding “True Suffering” – It Is in the Rebirth Process

4. in the post "Rebirth – Connection to Suffering in the First Noble Truth," we discussed references in the Tipiṭaka that MOST rebirths are in the four lowest realms (apāyās.) We can only see the suffering in one of them, the animal realm.

- The Buddha has discussed, in detail, the types of suffering in the other three apāyās. For example, in the "Bālapaṇḍita Sutta (MN 129)" and "Devadūta Sutta (MN 130)" the Buddha explains, in detail, the kind of suffering encountered in various lower realms.
English translation of the first one: "The Foolish and the Astute (MN 129.)": sutta explains that a person who engages in immoral activities ("bālo" or a "fool") can expect the consequences (kamma vipāka) both in this life and in future existences in the apāyāsThe account of the experiences in the niraya (lowest realm) is terrifying. 
- A related sutta is the "Pāyāsi Sutta (DN 23)." It is about the wrong views that there is no rebirth process, etc. See the English translation there: "With Pāyāsi (DN 23)": For those who have doubts about the validity of the rebirth process or the existence of apāyās, it is a good idea to read the above suttās.

Luckily We Don't Remember Our Previous "Bhava"

5. As we discussed in the post "Rebirth – Connection to Suffering in the First Noble Truth," we are reborn with human bodies many times during a "human bhava" that can last many thousands of years is why some children can recall their past HUMAN lives. Those rebirths took place during the SAME human bhava.

- Some yogis with abhiññā powers can see their RECENT bhava just before the current bhava. Almost all of them are likely to have had Brahma bhava just before the current human bhava. As we have discussed, it is unimaginably hard to get a human bhava FROM a human or lower bhava (ie.., from the apāyās.)  Furthermore, those who can easily cultivate jhāna are VERY likely to have had a Brahma bhava just before this human bhava. - Therefore, such yogis may be able to see their previous Brahma bhava. But there are no accounts of anyone recalling an animal or other existences in the apāyās.
- Thus, different bhava are isolated, and it is difficult to "look back," especially past existences in the lower realms.
- That is fortunate because it would give nightmares to recall such levels of suffering in the apāyās described in #4 above. However, we can get an idea about the level of suffering in the apāyās also from the following sutta.

Sattisata Sutta (SN 56.35) - Take That Deal!

6. In the "Sattisata Sutta (SN 56.35)," the Buddha advised bhikkhus to commit all their waking time to strive for Nibbāna. To drive the point home, the Buddha gave an analogy. It is a short sutta, and I will translate it below. Good English translation at Sutta Central: "A Hundred Spears (SN 56.35)":

“Bhikkhus, suppose there was a man with a remaining life span of a hundred years. Someone would say to him: ‘Come, good man, in the morning they will strike you with a hundred spears; at noon they will strike you with a hundred spears; in the evening they will strike you with a hundred spears. And you, good man, being struck day after day by three hundred spears will live a hundred years. Then, after a hundred years have passed, you will make the breakthrough to the Four Noble Truths and Nibbāna. That is guaranteed if you agree to bear that suffering."

“It is a wise decision, bhikkhus, for that man to accept the offer. For what reason? Because this saṁsāra is without a discoverable beginning. You have suffered mightily by uncountable blows by spears, blows by swords, blows by axes, etc.  (and will do so in the future too unless you attain Nibbāna.)

However, bhikkhus, I do not say that the path to Nibbāna is accompanied by suffering or displeasure. Rather, the path to Nibbāna is accompanied only by happiness and joy.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, you should strive to understand: ‘This is suffering. These are causes for that suffering. The removal of those causes will lead to the cessation of suffering. This is the way to the cessation of suffering.’”

Mistranslations of Some Suttās and Suppression of Selected Suttās

7. As you all would have seen, many people ignore those suttās. They say those suttās are "later additions" or "have been distorted after the Buddha." Then they pick and choose a few suttās and mistranslate them to prove their point! For example, in his first discourse, Buddha stated,".ayamantimā jāti, natthi dāni punabbhavo’ti." OR "..this is the last birth. There is no more gasping of a repeated bhava." Is "Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11)" a later addition?

- I am willing to discuss ANY sutta in Tipiṭaka. But please refrain from just expressing OPINIONS or quote other mistranslations. We are discussing Buddha's teachings. You may disagree, and that is fine, but don't distort his teachings. Buddha's teachings ARE contrary to the "accepted norms" and that is exactly why we all have been trapped in this suffering-filled rebirth process for SO LONG! The verse, "pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu cakkhuṁ udapādi, ñāṇaṁ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi..." ("such was the vision, knowledge, wisdom, penetrating vision, and the way to separate from the world, that arose in me regarding these teachings not heard before.." ) appears 8 times in that first discourse of the Buddha for this reason. 
- The Buddha explained what kind of suffering to be expected and explained HOW such horrible suffering arises (dukkha samudaya) and HOW we can stop it from arising (dukkha nirodhaya.) Of course, the way to achieve that is the Noble Eightfold Path. To follow that Path, one MUST first understand the first 3 Noble truths.
- By the way, Buddha also explained that suffering is not caused by one's soul (or ātman.) There is no such thing, to begin with. Paṭicca Samuppāda starts with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra." That process will proceed irrespective of a specific "soul." There is only a "satta (satva)" engaged in generating saṅkhāra due to avijjā. See #3 of "Five Aggregates and Tilakkhaṇa – Introduction." This is a deeper point that I will discuss in detail in upcoming posts.

Dukkha Samudaya - Explained by Akusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda

8. The two main akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda schemes describe the mechanisms whereby suffering in this world arises (dukkha samudaya.)

- The "Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda" describes how we accumulate kammic energies during our lives. Such kammic energies "pile-up" and lead to future existences, mostly in the apāyās, and that is described in "Akusala-Mūla Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda."
- As we have seen, any birth "in this world" WILL lead to suffering: Starting with "avijjā paccaya saṅkhāra" those cycles ALWAYS end up with “jāti paccayā jarā, marana, soka-paridēva-dukkha-dōmanassupāyasā sambhavan’ti” and the "whole mass of suffering."

Dukkha Nirodhaya - Explained by Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda

9. The "Kusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda" describes the process of eliminating suffering.

- "Kusalamūla paccayā saṅkhāra" WILL lead to births of Ariyās (Sotapanna through Arahant.) But, since they are also born into this world, the cycle still ends with old age and death: "jāti paccayā jarā maraṇaṃ. Evametesaṃ dhammānaṃ samudayo hoti.”
- But upon the death of an Arahant, there is the total absence of suffering. Thus, it will lead to the end of suffering.

Two Types of Saṅkhāra in Dukkha Samudaya and Dukkha Nirodhaya

10. Those saṅkhāra generated with avijjā (we can call them "akusala saṅkhāra") will perpetuate the rebirth process and will lead to more suffering.

- On the other hand, "kusala saṅkhāra" generated with paññā (comprehension of the Noble Truths) will lead to the Arahanthood and the stopping of the rebirth process. That is Nibbāna, the total absence of suffering!

Connection to the Root Causes

11. As we saw in the previous post, "Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna)" "akusala saṅkhāra" arise due to lobha, dosa, moha, and the mundane versions of alobha, adosa, amoha.

- To generate "kusala saṅkhāra" one must cultivate the lokottara (deeper) versions of alobha, adosa, amoha with comprehension of the Noble truths/Paṭicca Samuppāda/Tilakkhana. Note that those three (Noble truths/Paṭicca Samuppāda/Tilakkhana) are equivalent, and I may just refer to just any one of them in most cases.
- To complete the discussion on suffering, we need to discuss the three categories of suffering.

Three Categories of Suffering

12. The three categories of suffering are stated in the Dukkhatā Sutta (SN 45.165): "...Dukkha dukkhatā, saṅkhāra dukkhatā, vipariṇāma dukkhatā—imā kho, bhikkhave, tisso dukkhatā."

- It does not make sense to try to translate the names of the 3 categories: Dukkha dukkhatā, saṅkhāra dukkhatā, vipariṇāma dukkhatā. Instead, it is better to understand the meanings of those 3 types of suffering. Here, dukkhatā means "type of dukkha."
- Thus, we can say that the 3 categories of suffering are dukkha-dukkha, saṅkhāra-dukkha, and vipariṇāma-dukkha.

Worst Is the Dukkha-Dukkha

13. As the name implies, the strongest suffering is the dukkha-dukkha that arises DIRECTLY due to kamma vipāka. That category is associated with major types of suffering (serious injuries, diseases like cancer, etc.) that we face DURING  a lifetime. Of course, when born in an apāya, most of that existence is filled with dukkha-dukkha.

- Therefore, most of the suffering that we discussed above comes under dukkha-dukkha.
- We will discuss all three categories in more detail in the next post: "Introduction -2 – The Three Categories of Suffering."
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

A good English discourse on kamma and rebirth that I saw in another thread at Dhamma Wheel:

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