The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings Lal,

Wishing you all the best with your recovery.

Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Sam Vara »

I've just caught up with this thread, having had some time away. I'm wishing you all the best for a speedy and successful recovery, Lal.

:heart: :anjali:
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Thank you very much, Paul and Sam!
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Coëmgenu »

Lal wrote: Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:44 pm It has been 3 weeks since I underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor in the frontal lobe. I just wanted to provide an update and to thank everyone for having such “compassionate thoughts”
I had no idea. I am glad you managed to recover. Many are not so lucky and many end with serious disabilities that would prevent them from even posting on a Web forum, simple as that may seem.

I am glad that your practise has enabled you to overcome this trial and that your karma has allowed you to continue your endeavour. We have our disagreements, some of them strong, but I am glad that you are here to post given the alternative.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Thank you, Coëmgenu!

Yes. It could have been worse. But I have no illusions. This physical body is subjected to the “anicca nature”, and anything can happen anytime. I may get hit by a car and die today.

We know that Ven. Moggallana was beaten to death. He got away from the attackers a few times using his abhinna powers, but then realized that it was inevitable due to a strong kamma vipaka from the past. Even the Buddha had back pains and some other ailments until the death of his physical body.

As long as there is a jati (meaning a physical body associated with the mental body), there will be “jara, marana, soka, parideva, dukkha, domanassa, upayasa”, or the “whole mass of suffering”. That is how suffering is defined in Paticca Samuppada or even in the first sutta: Dhammacakkappavattana sutta.

Thus even an Arahant will have to undergo some suffering due to past kamma, as long as his/her physical body is alive. All suffering ends only after the death of the physical body of an Arahant.

“Nibbanic bliss” is not a “sukha vedana” as some people believe. It is the absence of even a trace of suffering. And that is possible ONLY when any birth in any of the 31 realms in this world is stopped from arising. All births (jati) in the 31 realms of this world are associated with at least a trace of a physical body (it is just a suddhashtaka -- or the smallest unit of matter -- in the arupavacara brahma realms).
- Sukha vedana arise due to a physical body. However, there is a heavy price to pay for that sukha vedana, in terms of dukha vedana. This is easiest to see when people do immoral things to get sukha vedana.
- The "net effect" of having a physical body is much more suffering than any temporary sukha vedana. This is the hardest part for most people to understand.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by jagodage »

Dear Lal

I would like to ask your opinion on the comment you have on 08.04.2019 @ 06.44 .

That one should remove all the 10 link in the P S. Suppose that one is able to break the chain of P S in any one of link, then he will got released from Samsara.Is it possible?

With Metta
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

All those links in the Akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada are broken at the Arahanthood.

However, the key step that is removed at the Arahanthood stage is avijja.

When one fully comprehends how suffering arises, one’s avijja is completely removed, i.e., one’s panna is optimized.
- After that one will not generate abhisankhara (i.e., new kamma). One’s vinnana will be replaced by panna (one will NOT lose consciousness), etc.
- Therefore, all the steps following avijja will not arise, and thus no more suffering will arise AFTER the death of the Arahant.
- This was briefly explained in the post, "Anulōma and Patilōma Paticca Samuppāda" on March 14, 2019.

However, there will be some physical suffering due to past kamma vipaka until the death of the physical body of the Arahant.
Please let me know if I should explain any of those steps following avijja.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Complexity of the Mind - Viññāna and Sankhāra

1. Even though science has made great progress in the understanding of the material world, science has achieved very little progress regarding mind phenomena.
- In fact, the words viññāna and sankhāra have no corresponding words in English. It is absurd to translate viññāna as "consciousness".I looked up the definition of consciousness.
- Normally it is defined as, "the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings" or "the awareness or perception of something by a person". That is definitely not what is meant by viññāna.

2. As I have discussed recently, viññāna arises only when one acts with avijjā: "avijjā paccaya sankhāra" and "sankhāra paccaya viññāna". Thus, viññāna can arise only if one acts with avijjā or ignorance. The Buddha did not act with viññāna (i.e., did not generate kamma viññāna) after attaining the Buddhahood. But he had perfectly good consciousness.
- Viññāna is a very complex word. Even though I had simplified viññāna as "defiled consciousness", that is also not adequate. There are two types of viññāna: vipāka viññāna and kamma viññāna; see the post, "Two Types of Viññāna – We Have Control Over Kamma Viññāna” on August 21, 2018 (p. 23). viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=330

3. Sankhāra has a much deeper meaning than just "mental formations", even though that is better than the translation for viññāna.
- Sankhāra are defined in the Tipitaka as three kinds: manō sankhāra, vaci sankhāra, and kāya sankhāra. They all arise in the mind, but have differences:  thoughts that arise automatically in the mind are called manō sankhāra; when we consciously think about something, those are vaci sankhāra (speaking out is also included);see, "Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra", Nov 03, 2018 (p.43): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=630
- When we move the body with our thoughts, those thoughts are kāya sankhāra.

4. Sankhāra in "avijjā paccaya sankhāra" in akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada are really abhisankhāra that lead to rebirth.
- Even an Arahant will generate sankhāra (all three types of manō sankhāra, vaci sankhāra, and kāya sankhāra) in order to live in this world until the physical body dies. However, an Arahant will not generate any type of abhisankhāra.
- Abhisankhara are again divided into three categories of apunna abhisankhāra, punna abhisankhāra, and ānenja abhisankhāra. Those lead respectively to immoral actions (leading to births in the apāyās), moral actions (leading births in the good realms of human, deva, and rupāvacara brahma realms), and arupāvacara jhāna (leading to rebirth in arupāvacara brahma realms).
- Therefore, just translating sankhāra as "mental formations" is not very useful in describing what they really are; see, "Sankhāra – What It Really Means", Nov 01, 2018 (p. 43):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=630

5. In order to understand the severity of this problem, let us examine a presentation by the philosopher John Searle, "Our Shared Condition - Consciousness".

6. In my opinion, John Searle is one of few philosophers who comes even close to understanding mind phenomena. Some philosophers/scientists do not even believe that consciousness is real. They say: "..Science is objective, consciousness is subjective, therefore there cannot be a science of consciousness". Whether there can be a "science of consciousness" or not, consciousness is real, as Searle points out.
- Some others object, "..Maybe consciousness exists, but it can't make any difference to the world. How could spirituality move anything?". In response, Searle points out: "..I decide consciously to raise my arm, and the damn thing goes up".

7. John Searle is also quite correct that consciousness is not an illusion. As he points out, only a conscious living being can decide to move a body part, say raise a hand.
- But to be perfectly correct, consciousness is not what moves an arm. One needs to make a "conscious effort" to move the arm, i.e., one makes a determination to raise the hand. That is what is called kāya sankhāra: conscious thoughts that lead to moving body parts.
- However, it is important to realize that the energy to raise the hand does not come from the mind. Mind just initiates the process and the brain sends the necessary commands to the muscles to raise the hand; energy for such muscle movements comes from the food we eat.
- Just like an on-board computer carries out the commands of the pilot flying a plane, the brain acts like a computer and carries out the commands given by the mind.

8. Kāya sankhāra are defined as "assāsa passāsā kāya sankhāra" or "breathing in and out is done with kāya sankhāra". Such kāya sankhāra are done by us all through our lives, and that is the most basic kāya sankhāra.
- Even though we do not realize it, breathing in and out involves "thinking at the lowest level" or with "atiparittarammana citta vithi". Those citta vithi do not have javana citta and thus we do not "feel them".
- Those kāya sankhāra involved in breathing stop when one gets into fourth jhāna samapatti. Then one is relieved of even the tiniest effort involved in breathing.
- Kāya sankhāra are involved in any bodily movement. Unless those bodily movements lead to kammic effects (good or bad), they do not become abhisankhāra leading to rebirth.

9. Vaci sankhāra also can be just sankhāra (thinking/speaking about normal activities) or abhisankhāra with kammic consequences.
- Both vaci and kāya abhisankhāra can lead to rebirth.
- Manō sankhāra -- which arise automatically -- do not lead to rebirths.

10. Modern science cannot explain sankhāra (more correctly how a person moves body parts or speaks on his/her volition). English language does not have an equivalent word for "sankhāra". Furthermore, as explained above, "consciousness" should not be used as the English translation for "viññāna".
- It is better to use those Pāli words (sankhāra and viññāna) and to learn what is meant by them.
- That is what has been the practice in Sinhala language. If you look at the Sinhala translation of the Tipitaka, the words viññāna and sankhāra are used without providing Sinhala translations for those two words. In fact, I do not believe that there are Sinhala words for viññāna and sankhāra.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

To continue with the previous post:

Kamma Done with Sankhāra - Various Types of Sankhāra

Origin of the Words Sankhāra and Sansāra

1. As we saw in the previous post, sankhāra involves EVERYTHING that we do, to live in “this world” of 31 realms. These include breathing, walking, eating, pretty much everything we do.
- Anything anyone does, need to start as a thought in one's mind. For example, to raise a hand, one's mind needs to decide on that first, even though it appears automatic.
- Anything one does, starts with a thought of "san", i.e., something to do with "this world". All these belong to sankhāra ("san" +  "khāra" or action).
- Even an Arahant has to be engaged in sankhāra until Parinibbāna or death of the physical body.

2. Sankhāra become abhisankhāra when acting with greed, hate, and ignorance; see, “Nibbāna – Is it Difficult to Understand?“. The prefix “abhi” means “strong”. Actions done with such abhisankhāra can lead to future rebirths.
- An Arahant does not generate abhisankhāra, i.e., thoughts with greed, hate, and ignorance.As long as one keeps generating abhisankhāra one is not free from the rebirth process.
- As long as one is trapped in the rebirth process, one is not free of suffering.

3. Therefore, the sansaric process -- or the rebirth process -- is fueled by abhisankhāra
- The word sansāra comes from "san" +  "sāra" where  "sāra" means "beneficial".
- One will have the perception that "this world is beneficial or fruitful" as long as one cannot grasp the fact that most births in the this world are filled with suffering.
- Even though some realms (like human, deva, and brahma) may have long stretches of "pleasures", those are negligible compared to long stretches of suffering in the apayas (the four lower realms including the animal realm).
For a discussion on the key word "san", see,  "What is “San”? Meaning of Sansāra (or Samsāra)" Jan 09, 2019 (p. 59); Jan 10, 2019 (p. 59) to p. 60: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=870

Connection Between Sankhāra and Kamma

4. kamma is any action by us via body, speech, and thoughts (kāya, vaci, and manō kamma).
- Those three types of kamma are initiated by our thoughts, i.e., kāya, vaci, and manō sankhāra.
- So, you can see that kamma and sankhāra are closely related.
- The Buddha said, "cetana ham Bhikkhave kammam vadami", i.e., "Bhikkhus, I say kamma is intention". That intention is in sankhāra, embedded in the types of cetasika (mental factors) as we will see below.
- "Intention" depends on the types of cetasika (mental factors) in a thought (citta). For example, in a thought with "greedy intention", will have the lōbha (greed) cetasika, but it may also have issa (jealousy) cetasika.

5. Let us take some examples to illustrate this relationship. If you swing your arm, that is a kāya kamma, i.e., that action involved moving a body part. That was initiated by kāya sankhāra (thought of swinging the arm) generated in the mind.
- Now, if you swung your arm to get hold of a cup, that is a kammically neutral action (kamma) or a just a sankhāra. You did not do either a moral or immoral act. The intention was to grab a cup, and that did not involve any immoral or moral action.
- On the other hand, if you swung your arm to hit someone, then it was done with anger. So, the dōsa cetasika (anger) was in your thoughts.  So, it was an apunnābhi sankhāra. It can also be called a akusala/apunna kamma or an immoral deed.
- If you put your arms together to pay respects to the Buddha at a temple, that was done with saddhā cetasika (out of reverence for the Buddha) and thus it was a punnābhisankhāra.  It can be also called a kusala/punna kamma or a moral deed.

6. Now we can see that kāya and vaci kamma are initiated by the mind (via kāya and vaci sankhāra).
- Manō sankhāra are thoughts that comes automatically to the mind when a sense object is experienced.
- Then if that object is of interest, we start generating conscious thoughts (speaking to ourselves) without talking and then we may speak out; both these are vaci sankhāra.
- If we then start moving body parts to respond, then those are done with kāya sankhāra.

7. Thus it is important to note that kāya sankhāra are also thoughts. They are responsible for body movements, i.e., kāya kamma.
- In other words, all sankhāra are generated by the mental body (gandhabba). It gives commands to the brain to move body parts or to move lips and tongue to speak; see, "Our Mental Body – Gandhabba" and other posts on gandhabba.
- Therefore, kāya kamma, vaci kamma, and manō kamma are all done by the respective types of sankhāra: kāya, vaci, and manō sankhāra.

Sankhāra and Kamma Can be Good or Bad

8. Sankhāra can be understood in a deeper sense by realizing that types of sankhāra  generated are defined by the types of cetasika (mental factors) in one's thoughts. 
- Some citta (thoughts) do not have either good (sōbhana) cetasika or bad (asōbhana) cetasika. Such citta are said to have kammically neutral sankhāra. These kammically neutral sankhāra involve only the types of cetasika like vedana, saññā, viriya that do not belong to either sōbhana or  asōbhana categories.
- Kammically relevant sankhāra (or abhisankhāra) involve either sōbhana cetasika (for kusala kamma or moral deeds) or asōbhana cetasika (for akusala kamma or immoral deeds).
- Therefore, it is easy to see that abhisankhāra that involve sōbhana cetasika  are punna abhisankhāra or punnābhisankhāra. Those that involve asōbhana cetasika are apunnābhisankhāra; see, "Cetasika (Mental Factors)".

9. Knowing a bit of Abhidhamma can be helpful in clarifying certain key dhamma concepts. It is not hard to learn. Since Abhidhamma was finalized after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha (see, "Abhidhamma – Introduction"), these details are not in the Suttās.
- Now we can get a new perspective for cetasika, in terms of "san". As we know, "san" is what keep us in the rebirth process or sansāra; see, "What is “San”? Meaning of Sansara (or Samsara)".
- We can see that those asōbhana cetasika are what give rise to "san" in apunnābhi sankhāra, lead to rebirth in the bad realms.
- On the other hand, sōbhana cetasika are what give rise to "san" in punnābhi sankhāra, lead to rebirth in the good realms.

Do We Need to Avoid Good Sankhāra (Punna Abhisankhāra)?

10. However, this does not mean we should stay away from punnābhi sankhāra. In fact, we MUST engage in punnābhi sankhāra, in order to avoid rebirth in the bad realms and also to cultivate morality and also to prepare the necessary environment (especially to be healthy and to avoid poverty).
- The Buddha has emphasized the need to engage in meritorious deeds (punnābhi sankhāra) in many Suttās; see, for example, "Sumana Sutta (AN 5.31)":
- Nibbāna is attained via realizing the fruitlessness in rebirth anywhere in the 31 realms, and for that one needs to comprehend anicca, dukkha, anatta, and for that one needs to attain the correct mindset by engaging in punna kamma (punnābhi sankhāra).

Punnābhisankhāra Are Also Done With Avijjā

11.  In "Paṭic­ca­samup­pāda ­Vibhaṅga"(, the term “avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā” in akusala-mula Paticca Samuppāda (that leads to suffering) is explained as follows: “Tattha katame avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā? Puññā­bhi­saṅ­khāro, apuññā­bhi­saṅ­khāro, āneñjā­bhi­saṅ­khāro, kāyasaṅkhāro, vacīsaṅkhāro, cittasaṅkhāro“.
Translated: “What is avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā? Puññā­bhi­saṅ­khāra, apuññā­bhi­saṅ­khāra, āneñjā­bhi­saṅ­khāra, kāyasaṅkhāra, vacīsaṅkhāra, cittasaṅkhāra“. (here, cittasaṅkhāra is the same as manōsaṅkhāra).

- It needs to be noted that these are all abhisaṅkhāra, even though the verse is simplified as "avijjā paccayā saṅkhārā".
- There are two categories of saṅkhāra mentioned there: one category refers to types of kamma accrued (three types of abhi­bhi­saṅ­khāra). The other refers to whether they are done by the body, speech, or the mind ( kāyasaṅkhāra, vacīsaṅkhāra, cittasaṅkhāra).
- Therefore, sankhāra has a much deeper meaning than just "mental formations", even though that is better than the translation for viññāna as consciousness.

Instead of Punnābhisankhāra an Arahant will do Punna Kiriyā

12. A question may arise how puññā­bhi­saṅ­khāra (or meritorious thoughts) arise with avijja.
- A simple answer is that until one FULLY comprehends anicca, dukkha, anatta (i.e., that anywhere in this world of 31 realms is not devoid of suffering), one does even meritorious deeds with expectation of "good outcomes/ good rebirths" in this world.

13. Once one FULLY comprehends anicca, dukkha, anatta (i.e., when one becomes an Arahant), one's punnābhi sankhāra will turn into punna kiriyā without kammic consequences. Thus one will do meritorious deeds without any expectations (this is what is meant by "vinññāna nirōdha" too).
- Then those meritorious actions will not lead to rebirth even in the "good realms". An Arahant does not wish to be reborn in any realm, because he/she has seen the "anicca nature" of all 31 realms. This is a subtle point.This last part may not be clear to everyone. This is the "previously unheard Dhamma"  that is hard to grasp ("pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu" that the Buddha mentioned in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta).
- As we get into further details, it will become clearer.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Viññāna – Much More Than Just Consciousness

1. Viññāna means “without ñāna” or without wisdom, i.e., with ignorance. Viññāna could also mean “defiled viññāna”, i.e., not knowing the consequences of doing dasa akusala.
- When one attains the Arahanthood, when one's paññā (wisdom) will be optimized and one will have “undefiled or clear viññāna”
- there are many suttās that clearly state “viññāna nirōdha“, or stopping the arising of viññāna (defiled viññāna) leads to Nibbāna.

A succinct statement can be found in the “Dvaya­tānu­passa­nā­sutta (Sutta Nipata 3.12)“:“Yaṃ kiñci dukkhaṃ sambhoti,Sabbaṃ viññāṇapaccayā;Viññāṇassa nirodhena,Natthi dukkhassa sambhavo“.

Translated: “Whatever suffering that arises, all that arises due to viññāṇa; With not arising of viññāṇa, there is no existence with suffering“.
- A detailed explanation is at, “Anidassana Viññāṇa – What It Really Means“ at
- Here, I will introduce the concept of viññāṇa in a simple way. In the simplest form, viññāṇa is any type of expectation even without moral/immoral implications.

2. Viññāna includes or encompasses the following: our feelings (vēdanā), perceptions (saññā), and a set individual mental factors (cētasika). They all arise  together, and the set of cētasika that arise is dependent on each person’s gati (habits/character). If you are not familiar with Abhidhamma, don’t worry about it. I will take a simple example to illustrate viññāna below.
- Five of the six types of viññāna are strictly vipāka viññāna. These are the five types of viññāna associated with the five physical senses.
- We become aware of something in our physical world via cakkhu viññāna (seeing), sōta viññāna (hearing), ghāna viññāna(smelling), jivhā viññāna (tasting), and kāya viññāna (touching); these are due to past kamma vipāka.
- When one of our five physical senses detects something in our physical world, one of those five types of viññāna arise. If we get interested in them, we start generating manō viññāna and doing kamma.
- Let us take a simple example to clarify those basic ideas.

3. When a man X sees a young woman (Y), that is called a “seeing event” or cakkhu viññāna. Suppose  the woman has just come to X’s workplace as a new employee.
- With that cakkhu viññāna, X recognizes Y as an attractive female and that is called saññā; X may generate “happy feelings” when seeing Y and that is vēdanā.
- If X gets interested in Y, then X may also generate lust in his mind with subsequent manō viññāna, and start generating manō, vaci, and kāya sankhāra; see the previous post.

4. With the establishment of this new viññāna, there is now an expectation in X’s mind of getting a date to go out with Y, and may be getting to marry Y someday.
- That is a manō viññāna that stays hidden in X’s mind. It has the expectation of getting an opportunity to have a close relationship with Y.
- That idea will remain hidden in X’s mind and can re-surface at appropriate times, especially when seeing Y again, or when someone mentions Y’s name for example. This is "viññāna paccayā sankhāra" in Paticca Samuppāda.
- The more X will engaging in generating such sankhāra, that viññāna will also strengthen; that is the "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" in Paticca Samuppāda.

5. Thus both "sankhāra paccayā viññāna" and "viññāna paccayā sankhāra" will be operating back and forth, and will keep strengthening that viññāna.

This is what is meant in many suttas by saying that "viññāna will grow" as one keeps doing sankhāra. 

For example, in the "Cetanā Sutta (SN 12.38)" " Yañca, bhikkhave, ceteti yañca pakappeti yañca anuseti, ārammaṇametaṃ hoti viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā. Ārammaṇe sati patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa hoti. Tasmiṃ patiṭṭhite viññāṇe virūḷhe āyatiṃ punabbha­vā­bhi­nib­batti hoti. Āyatiṃ punabbha­vā­bhi­nib­bat­tiyā sati āyatiṃ jāti jarāmaraṇaṃ soka­pari­deva­duk­kha­do­manas­supāyāsā sambhavanti. Evametassa kevalassa duk­khak­khan­dhassa samudayo hoti".

Translated: "“Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this focus (ārammaṇa) a basis for the maintenance of viññāna. When there is an ārammaṇa there is a support for the establishing of viññāna. When viññāna is established and grown, there is the arising of future renewed existence (punabbha­va). When there is the future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering".

6. So, let us assume that X has been seeing Y for a few days and may be even got to talk to her a few times (vaci and kāya sankhāra are associated those activities). Each time X interacts with Y, that “viññāna for having a close relationship with Y” will grow in X’s mind.
- Furthermore, X will be thinking about Y often (which is generating vaci sankhāra), that will also help make that “viññāna for having a close relationship with Y” to grow.
- That happens via “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” step in Paticca Samuppāda.

7. Several days later, X finds out that Y is married, when her husband comes to meet her at work.
- He could clearly see that she is happily married and there is no point in even thinking about having a relationship with her.
- In an instant, X’s “viññāna for having a close relationship with Y” will be eliminated. (for most people).
- When the reality of the situation is comprehended by the mind, corresponding viññāna will be stopped. This is what is meant by "viññāna nirōdha".

8. Therefore, it is important to see that a viññāna (or an expectation) will be eliminated as soon as one realizes the futility (or the dangers) of that expectation.

- At a deeper level, all of one's highly immoral types of viññāna will be permanently removed when one will be able to see the futility/dangers in engaging in immoral deeds. That is when one attains the Sōtapanna stage via comprehending Tilakkhana.
- Next, one’s expectation for seeking pleasures in this world will be totally removed when one realizes the futility — and dangers — in seeking such sense pleasures. That is when one attains the Anāgāmi stage of Nibbāna.
- Once one becomes an Anāgāmi, one is at a stage where one can start seeing the futility of jhānic pleasures and start getting rid of rupa rāga and arupa rāga (or the futility of born in the rupāvacara and arupāvacara realms. That is when one becomes an Arahant.
- Therefore, the way to Nibbāna is a step-by-step process; see, “Is It Necessary for a Buddhist to Eliminate Sensual Desires?“ at

9. There are many types of viññāna that we can have. The minor ones are just expectations of getting something done or buying something or getting new job, etc.
- Sankhāra or “thinking of that expectation and making plans to get it done also by speaking and doing things (that includes vaci sankhāra and kāya sankhāra)” will make that viññāna to grow. This comes via the “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” step.
- In another example, suppose X is thinking about buying a certain type of car. That idea or expectation will be “at the back of his mind” all the time. If he sees a car like that on the road, then that viññāna will be awakened, and he will start thinking about it again. Now, one day X buys that car. Then that viññāna will also disappear since he will no longer interested in buying a car. That expectation has been fulfilled.
- Therefore, a viññāna will “take hold in the and grow” only as long as one has a desire AND one believes that it can be fulfilled.

10. I gave those two examples to illustrate the basic concept. But more complex types of viññāna can grow based on certain types of activities that X engages in, and those can become patisandhi viññāna that can lead to rebirths.
- For example, if X constantly engages in helping others, donating time and money to charities, etc, he would be cultivating the mindset of a dēva (even without knowing). Then that “moral viññāna” would grow with time and may lead to a rebirth in a dēva realm.
- If one is constantly thinking and planning to make money by exploiting/deceiving others, he/she is doing vaci/kāya sankhāra that will be feeding a "bad viññāna" that can lead to a birth in the apāyās.
- Therefore, viññāna can be various types.
- However, there are six basic types of viññāna. The above examples all belong to “manō viññāna“, except the cakkhu viññāna that was involved when X saw Y.

11. As we discussed in #2, there are five basic types of viññāna just bring external sense objects (pictures, sounds, tastes, smells, and touches) to our mind.
- Then manō viññāna takes over, and will decide to act on it — and if needed — makes “future expectations” or “future plans”. Therefore, it is the manō viññāna that has expectations for the future.
- We ignore most of the things we see, hear, etc. But if we get attracted to something, then we will be going back to see, hear, etc and may be making other related plans too. That is all done with manō viññāna.

12. Obviously, patisandhi viññāna is a very important manō viññāna. It can determine future births.
- This is a complex subject, but when one engages in highly immoral deeds, the patisandhi viññāna that grows may not be what one desires.
- For example, suppose X is a serial rapist. He gets a temporary sense satisfaction by raping women. What he does not know is that he is cultivating a viññāna that is appropriate for an animal. So, he could get an animal birth because of that immoral viññāna he is cultivating.
- So, hopefully you can see the connection between viññāna and gati (pronounced “gathi”) too. Gati (character qualities/habits) is an important concept that has been hidden in recent years.

13. When one attains the Sōtapanna stage of Nibbāna, one would see the futility of such immoral and briefly-lived sense pleasures. Then such types of “immoral viññāna” would not be cultivated in his mind.
- In other words, one’s “hidden immoral gati” will be permanently removed at the  Sōtapanna stage.
- That is comparable to X losing the “viññāna for having a close relationship with Y” in #3 to #7 above. In that case, X clearly saw the uselessness of having that viññāna, and it died.
- It would be a good idea to read and understand posts on gati:
The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas) Thu Oct 25, 2018 (p.43)Post on habits (Pali word “gati”, but gati is more that habits) on August 18, 2018 (p. 22).How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View  Nov 28, 2018 (p. 50)Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein Sat Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43)Gati to Bhava to Jāti – Ours to Control Nov 15, 2018 (p. 47).

14. I made this discussion simple in order to get two main ideas across, which are:
- Viññāna is a complex concept. This is why it not appropriate to translate viññāna as just “consciousness”.
- Manō viññāna arise due to sankhāra (“san” + “khāra“). We cultivate  those via “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” in the Paticca Samuppāda cycles.
- This is why “san” is a key root word in Pāli; see, "What is “San”? Meaning of Sansāra (or Samsāra)", Jan 09, 2019 (p. 59); Jan 10, 2019 (p. 59) to p. 60 and "List of “San” Words and Other Pāli Roots", Feb 20, 2019 (p. 67).

15. As I have said many times, Buddha Dhamma is deep. It takes an effort to learn. Just translating deep suttas word-by-word or just reading those translations will not be of much benefit in the long run.
- Of course some suttas can be translated word-by-word, like the Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65): Those are basic suttas that provide guidelines to live a moral life. But deep suttas that discuss anicca, anatta, or Nibbāna require a more deeper knowledge of the basics like what is meant by saññā, viññāna, sankhāra, etc.
- It is best to learn the meanings of these key words and just use them, instead of translating them as a single English word. I hope you can see why, with the above discussion on viññāna.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I am using more and more Pali words now. But if you have been keeping up with past posts, it should not be difficult to understand the material. As I have emphasized many times, there are no equivalent English words for many key Pali words.

Now we are at the third step of Paticca Samuppada.

Viññāna Paccayā Nāmarūpa” in Idappaccayā Paticca Samuppāda

1. Nāmarupa can have different, but related, meanings in different contexts. Namarupa in the standard Paticca Samuppāda is different from the “nāmarūpa” involved in idappaccayā Paticca Samuppāda which takes place moment-to-moment.

- Basically, idappaccayātā means “what happens at this moment depending on the conditions at this moment”. Thus, it describes “events in real time” that bring vipāka in real time, as well as vipāka in the future.
- The standard Paticca Samuppada process describes how vinnana energy created within this lifetime leads to future births (i.e., vipāka in future lives via future births).

2. Therefore, the standard Paticca Samuppada can be called “uppatti Paticca Samuppāda” and the other can be called idappaccayā Paticca Samuppāda; here “uppatti” means “birth”.
- We will discuss the “uppatti Paticca Samuppada” later.
- Let us first discuss the namarupa involved in idappaccaya Paticca Samuppada, i.e., how a jāti can arise in the current life, based on one’s avijjā (ignorance) and sankhāra (thoughts, speech, and actions).
- Jāti is not restricted to “births as a human, a deva, an animal”. Many different jati (births) arise during the current life itself:
- We will discuss two examples below which explain how a “thief” and a “drunkard” are “born” during the current life itself.

3. The “nāmarūpa” involved in idappaccaya Paticca Samuppada mainly refer to those “visual images” created by the person when forming an “expectation” (viññāna) to achieve/maintain a certain goal.
- Here, “nāma” refers to whatever the “name” given to the subject involved in the Paticca Samuppada process, and “rupa” are the associated objects themselves. Thus, the corresponding “namarupa” are the mental images of the subjects in question.

4. Let us take an example. When a thief plans to steal something (say a watch from a store), the process starts with “avijjā paccayā sankhāra”; he starts thinking about the plan because of his ignorance of the consequences.
- Here “nama” or the name is “watch” and “rupa” is the watch itself. But “namarupa” is the mental image of that watch: That is formed in HIS MIND.
- He starts doing vaci sankhara first: thinking to himself about how to go about stealing the watch. This is “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” and that gives rise to viññāna for stealing the watch.

5. With that vinnana (expectation), now he starts visualizing the stealing process. How he would find a suitable time, and may be distract store employees someway and to pick it up.
- Now more namarupa become involved: he also makes visuals of how he will be actually doing the stealing: “nāmarūpa” are the visuals he has in his mind to get the job done.

6. The more he thinks and makes plans (i.e., makes more and more nāmarūpa in his mind, that future expectation for stealing that object (i.e., the viññāna for it) will get stronger.
- Here the Paticca Samuppada process runs backwards, “namarupa paccaya vinnana”. This is called an “aññamañña paticca samuppāda”.
- These forward and backward steps may run back and forth while he is planning the robbery, and the Buddha said that both vinnana and namarupa get stronger due to this feedback. They depend on each other and feed on each other.
- The more he thinks about it, the stronger those viññāna and nāmarūpa get.
- Ven. Sariputta provided a simile for this inter-dependence between vinnana and namarupa saying it is like two bundles of hay leaning against each other and supporting each other without any other support.

7. Let us take another case of a teenager who is influenced by his peers to drink alcohol. Because of his ignorance about the consequences, he engages in such activities and also in planning activities: “avijjā paccayā sankhāra”.
- Here sankhāra include not only drinking activities but also planning. Therefore, all three types of sankhara are involved: mano, vaci, and kaya sankhara.
- While he is participating in drinking he is doing kaya sankhara; he will be constantly talking about having such parties and those are vaci sankhara; it is also in the subconscious and many times a day they come back to his mind as mano sankhara. All these are included in “sankhāra paccayā viññāna”.
- By the way, what Sigmond Freud called the "subconcious" is really this viññāna. It is an expectation that remains hidden even when the teenager in this case is occupied with other activities.

8. Most people do not realize it, but that process of “thinking and talking to oneself” (vaci sankhara) can make a big impact in the formation of namarupa and the cultivation of vinnana. Many people spend hours and hours doing that assuming it does not contribute to “vinnana (or kamma) formation”; but it does play a strong role (Vaci sankhara was discussed in the post, "Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra", Nov 03, 2018, p.43).

- In the above example, even when he is not drinking, those mano sankhara come to the mind automatically and he starts consciously thinking about drinking activities: he visualizes pictures of “party scenes”, including friends, bottles of his favorite drink, any food that goes with it, etc.
- That conscious thinking is also vaci sankhara, and those also strengthen the vinnana via, “sankhara paccaya vinnana”.
- Now those mental pictures that arise during that process are nāmarūpa that arise due to “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa”. Therefore, Paticca Samuppada steps do not just flow in one way. They can run forward and backward.

9. If the teenager keeps his bad habit of drinking, he gets trapped in that bhava (state of mind of a drunkard), the more jāti that occurs, i.e., more frequently he will be drunk. When one gets really drunk, one tends to behave like an animal without any sense of decency, and the long-term consequences could be rebirth as an animal.
- If that "viññāna of a drunkard" stays strong to the time of death (cuti-patisandhi moment at the end of his human bhava), it could lead to a new uppatti bhava via the uppatti Paticca Samuppāda process mentioned in #1 above. Such a strong viññāna is called a patisandhi viññāna.
- The important point is that such a patisandhi viññāna is likely to give rise to rebirth in the animal realm. We will discuss the patisandhi viññāna later in the discussion of uppatti Paticca Samuppāda.

10. In both these examples, it is clear that those reverse steps also occur: “nāmarūpa paccayā viññāna“, can happen, and does happen, together with “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa”. The more one visualizes related nāmarūpa, the stronger that viññāna gets.
- As we saw above, this happens in other steps too (for example, “sankhara paccaya vinnana” and “vinnana paccaya sankhara”) and such is referred to as an “aññamañña paticca samuppāda step”. Here “aññamañña” means “inter-dependent”.
- This is especially true also for the “sankhāra paccayā viññāna”. The more stronger the viññāna gets, one is more likely to engage in same kind of acts, i.e., sankhāra, i.e., “viññāna paccayā sankhāra”. They feed on each other. This happens a lot in habit (gati) formation.
- We have discussed the concept of gati (habits/character) previously: "The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas)", Oct 25, 2018 (p.43); Post on habits (Pali word “gati”, but gati is more that habits) on August 18, 2018 (p. 22); "How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View",  Nov 28, 2018 (p. 50).
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana in Idapaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda

1. First, let us discuss the difference between an 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 and when we experience them, we are using our sense faculties as indriya. For example, when we see an attractive person while on the road, that is just “seeing event” with the cakkhu indriya.
- However, based on those initial sense experience, we may INTENTIONALLY use those indriya to do more of those acts. 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.
- Since there are six of them, they are called salāyatana.
- There is no equivalent English word for āyatana, so we will keep using indriya and āyatana from now on.

2. For example, I am walking on the road and see a nice house. I just happened to see it due to a kamma vipāka, 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.

- But now if I start looking at it for a while (with cakkāyatana) thinking how nice that house is and how nice it would be to live in a house like that, then I will be using my mind as an āyatana too (mana indriya now becomes manāyatana).
- I have formed greedy thoughts about the house and now I am accumulating new kamma (sankhāra) via my eyes and mind by using them both as āyatana (cakkhāyatana and manāyatana).

3. In many cases, when we experience a sense event due to 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 abhisankhāra. But just eating a cake given is not abhisankhāra; see, “Kāma Guna, Kāma, Kāma Rāga, Kāmaccanda”: ... amaccanda/.
- 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 have a craving (anusaya) for, then we start using our sense faculties as āyatana.
- The akusala-mula paticca samuppāda cycle operates only when we use our sense faculties as āyatana.
- An Arahant ALWAYS uses his/her sense faculties as indriya; he/she will see, hear, etc just like us, but will not get “attached to” anything.

4. Just like for nāmarūpa that we described in the previous post, salāyatana has somewhat different meanings in the idapaccayatā and patisandhi paticca samuppāda cycles.

- 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, that brahma will have only eyes, ears and the mind; there will be only three indriya (or āyatana), instead of six for the human. But we keep the term “salāyatana” in the paticca samuppāda as a generic term.
- Thus in patisandhi paticca samuppāda, we are concerned with the formation of a brand new set of āyatana for a new existence (bhava).
- However, when we consider the idapaccayatā paticca samuppāda series, we are concerned with how the six āyatanas for a human change from even moment to moment depending on the nāmarūpa that cultivate in the mind at that moment, as we saw above.

5. In the previous posts we discussed the case of a thief who is planning a theft. We saw how his viññāna about the theft leads to him generating nāmarūpa, the visuals in his mind of how the theft is carried out.

- When he is planning the theft, he will use his sense faculties as āyatana to do the “preparatory work”. He may read about the place to be robbed, ask around for relevant information, etc. Each time he does a specific act (whether thinking, seeing, hearing, etc), a separate paticca samuppāda cycle operates, and we will discuss this in the next post, by going through all the steps.
- Now when he is about to carry out the theft, his indriya transform or attune for the task and 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.
- He will use all his āyatana to carry out the task, as needed: To run away, if he is about to be caught or after getting what he wanted, using his body, eyes, and ears.
- There are many, many paticca samuppāda cycles that were associated with each act at the planning and execution stages.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

We saw earlier that the step “avijjā paccayā sankhārā” in Paticca Samuppāda really means “avijjā paccayā abhisankhārā”; see, "Kamma Done with Sankhāra - Various Types of Sankhāra"; May 3, 2019 (p.72): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=512253#p512253

Here we will see that “salāyatna paccayā phassa” really means “salāyatna paccayā samphassa”.

Difference between Phassa and Samphassa

1. No differentiation is made between “phassa” and “samphassa” in most current explanations of paticca samuppāda. Both word phassa and samphassa are most times translated as “contact” in many English translations; see, for example, “Chachakka Sutta (MN 148)” and the English translation there: “The Six Sets of Six“:

- However, as we will see below, “samphassa” has a very different meaning than “phassa” and makes the connection of how our instinctive reactions to external sense experiences arise based on our “samsāric habits” or “gati“.
- With the distinction made between “phassa” and “samphassa“, the true meanings become clear in suttas like “Chachakka Sutta (MN 148)“.

2. When our eyes make contact with an external object, that is not “phassa“. That is just like a camera taking a picture; that picture is sent to the brain, which processes and sends that “snapshot” to the mind. The mind then makes contact with this “snapshot” or “image” and this is what “phassa” really is: It is a mental contact.

- When the mind makes that contact with that image of the external object, a citta arises (actually a series of citta called citta vīthi; see, “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)“: ... ght-citta/) and that is what we experience; in fact what we experience is the cumulative effect of many such citta vīthis that arise in a very short time, and this cumulative effect we call a “thought”.
- Some of the seven universal mental factors that arise with the citta instantaneously identifies the object. Furthermore, based on our “gati” (character/habits) the mind forms an opinion on what is seen and will generate “additional feelings” of joy or sorrow.
- For example, a young lady looking at a dress may form a liking for it. Another person seeing his enemy will form a dislike. A teenager, upon hearing a song may form a liking for it, etc.
- This “mental contact” happens instantaneously. We do not have any control over it, and it is purely based on our “gati“. But since our actions based on that initial reaction takes some time, we still have time to control our speech or bodily actions. Even if bad thoughts come to our mind, we can stop any speech or bodily actions. This is what is supposed to be done with “kāyānupassanā” in “satipatthāna meditation”.

3. Now, let consider what happens when an Arahant sees or hears similar things. He/she will see or hear the same thing as any other person. But since an Arahant has removed all such samsāric habits or “gati“, he/she will not be attracted to it or repelled by it.

- An Arahant has removed all such defiled “gati” which are closely related to cravings or “āsava“. An Arahant has removed all “āsava“; this is what is meant by “āsavakkhaya” at the Arahanthood. This is a technical detail that may be clear to some; but don’t worry about it if it does not.
- To put it in another way, an Arahant sees, hears, …things as they really are without any bias added.

4. We can now see the difference between “phassa” and “samphassa“.

- In the case of an Arahant, there is only “phassa” or mere contact with the external sense input. An Arahant will thus “see” or “hear” or “smell” or “taste” or “feel” the same things as any other person. But an Arahant will not be attached or repulsed by that sense experience.
- For example, the Buddha identified different people. But he did not form a special liking for Ven. Ananda (his personal assistant) or had any hateful thoughts about Devadatta who tried to kill him. He treated the poorest person the same way as he treated a king.
- The Buddha ate most delicious food offered by the kings and also ate the meager meals offered by poor people without any preference.
- In all those sense contacts, it was just “phassa“, and not “samphassa“.

5. On the other hand, an ordinary person will form a like or a dislike for some of the sense inputs (but not for all).

- If a like or dislike is formed, then that sense contact is “san phassa“(“san” + “phassa“, where “san” is what we accumulate to extend the samsāric journey; see, “What is “San”?“). It rhymes as “samphassa“.
- This “combination effect” or “Pāli sandhi” leads to the pronunciation of many “san” words with a “m” sound: “san” + “mā” to “sammā“; “san” “yutta” to “samyutta“; “san” “bhava” to “sambhava“; “san” “sāra” to “samsāra“; see, "What is “San”? Meaning of Sansāra (or Samsāra)", Jan 09, 2019 (p. 59); Jan 10, 2019 (p. 59) to p. 60 AND “List of “San” Words and Other Pāli Roots“, Feb 20, 2019 (p. 67):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=990
- Thus, when one sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches something, whether there is going be any likes or dislikes towards that sense experience depends on that person, or more specifically the “gati” of that person.

6. “Samphassa” is intimately connected to one’s “gati” or habits most of which come from our past lives, even though some may be strengthened or weakened by what we do in this life. We may even start forming new “gati” in this life.

- There are many posts at this site that discuss “gati“, and at the very basic level both “ānapāna” and “satipatthāna” meditations are all about removing bad “gati” and cultivating good “gati“;see, " The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas) Oct 25, 2018 (p.43). For more details, see, “9. Key to Anapanasati – How to Change Habits and Character (Gathi)“: ... ter-gathi/.
- “Samphassa” is also intimately connected to the relationships we have with other people and material things. Any kind of sense input on such people/things will automatically generate “samphassa“.
- On the other hand, an Arahant has removed all bonds with people/things, and thus will generate only “phassa“.

7. Let us discuss some examples to illustrate how “samphassa” arises. First let us look at the connection with those people/things in the world that we have special relationships with or what we “upādana“, i.e., like to either keep close to like to stay away from.

- Think about the worst “enemy” you have. When you even think about that person X, you generate distasteful feelings. But that person’s family will have loving thoughts about that person. Here, you and X’s child (for example), would have generated very different “samphassa” when thinking, seeing, hearing, about X.
- When you travel by car or bus and looking out of the window, you may see zillion things, but those are just “seeing”; you don’t pay much attention to them. They are “phassa“. But now if you happen to see a beautiful house, it piques your interest and you may even turn back and take another good look at it, and may be even think about how nice it would be to live in a house like that. That is “samphassa“.

8. Our samsāric habits (“gati“) play a key role in generating “samphassa“.
- Some people enjoy harassing animals; they pay to go see cockfighting. Others are repulsed by that. Those are samsāric habits. So, the scene of two animals fighting for life leads to the enjoyment of some and to the disgust of others; both are “samphassa“, but one is obviously immoral. The other is moral but still keeps one bound to samsāra; this latter statement may take time to digest.
- Ladies, in general, like nice clothes, jewellery, etc. and men are more into sports. When a husband is watching sports on TV the whole day, the wife may not have any interest and may even get angry at him for not paying attention to other things that need to be done around the house.
- These and zillion other things come from our samsāric habits.

9. Now let us see how one’s perception of what is “valuable” can lead to “samphassa“. Suppose someone inherits a valuable gem from his father. Every time he sees it or even thinks about it, he becomes happy. But his mind is also burdened by it, since he is worried that he may lose it; he is keeping it in a safe and has put burglar alarms in the house just to protect that gem.

- Now, suppose one day he gets to a professional to evaluate the gem and finds out that it is really worthless. He may not even believe that initially, but once it sinks in that it is indeed worthless, he will become “detached” from it. He will no longer keep it in the safe and may even throw it away in disgust.
- Now he may be generating either neutral or hateful thoughts about the SAME OBJECT that he once loved so much. Nothing changed about the “gem”; it is still the same object as before. What has changed is his PERCEPTION of the value of that object. Whereas he generated “samphassa” on thinking or seeing that object before, now he may generating just “phassa” (neutral feelings) or “samphassa” with quite opposite feelings of disgust.

10. Let us take another example that was given by one of my teacher Theros. This one clearly shows how transition from “phassa” to “samphassa” or the other way around can happen very quickly.

- This happened many years ago in Sri Lanka. A mother had to go overseas when her son was less than a year old. She had been overseas for many years and came back to meet her son. Apparently, she had not even seen any pictures of the boy, who was now a teenager. When she gets home, she is told that the boy is visiting a neighbor and she starts walking there. On the way she bumps into a teenager; the teenager apologizes and she resumes walking. But then another person on the street says, “Don’t you recognize your son? Well. How can you? You have been away all this time”. Hearing that, she says, “Oh, is that my son?” and immediately runs back and hugs him.
- She clearly saw the boy when he bumped into her and apologized. But at that time, he was just a teenager to her. That “seeing” event involved “phassa“.
- But when someone pointed out that it was her son, the whole perception of the boy took a big leap in an instant. Now she looks at the same boy with the whole new set of “mental baggage”. Now it is not just a teenager, but her son; there is attachment involved. Now when she looks at him it is “samphassa” that is involved.

11. Now we can also see how “samphassa” lead to an intensified vēdanā or feelings. This is called “samphassa jā vēdanā” or “vēdanā arising due to samphassa”.

- She had neutral thoughts (may be even some annoyance) when the boy bumped into her apologized. But when she learned that it was her son, her feelings turned instantly to joy.
- To take a bit more further, if that teenager then got hit by car after several minutes, that joy would turn instantly to sorrow.
- All these different types of “vēdanā” arise based on the type and level of “attachment” to a given object, in this case the boy.

12. Therefore, now we can see that the step, “phassa paccayā vēdanā” in Paticca Samuppāda really is “samphassa paccayā samphassa jā vēdanā”.

- More details on how “samphassa” leads to samphassa jā vēdanā can be found at: "Vedana (Feelings)", Nov 06, 2018 (p. 44), and "Vēdanā (Feelings) Arise in Two Ways": ... -feelings/
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Phassa paccayā Vēdanā….to Bhava

1. In the previous post, we discussed the difference between “phassa” and “samphassa“. To summarize:
- An Arahant will always have “phassa“, whether it is due to a kamma vipāka (i.e., a sense impression comes in due to a kamma done in the past) or whether he/she is using the sense faculties for a given purpose. Here “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.
- An ordinary person will also have “phassa” when sense inputs come in as kamma vipāka. For example, one may be walking down the street and happen to see an expensive ring on the road. That initial “seeing” is due to a kamma vipāka. But now he gets interested in it and picks it up and examines it; those follow-up acts may be done with “samphassa“, which in turn lead to more kamma generating future kamma vipāka.
- Thus the akusala-mūla paticca samuppāda involves “salāyatana paccayā samphassa“, even though it is normally written as “salāyatana paccayā phassa“.

2. “Phassa” is the pure mental contact. “Samphassa” is the mental contact that has incorporated one’s own likes/dislikes about the sense contact.

- In an earlier post, we also talked about the difference between “indriya” and “āyatana“, i.e., how our sense faculties can be used in either way. Note: These six indriya are different from the indriya in panca indriya, which are sati, samādhi, saddha, viriya, andpaññā.
- Our basic sense faculties are the “indriya“; when they are used with likes/dislikes they become “āyatana“. Since there are six of them there are six “āyatana” or “salāyatana“.

3. In the akusala-mūla paticca samuppāda series that describe how our actions that start with ignorance (avijjā) eventually lead to suffering, what comes to play is “salāyatana“, i.e., “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana“. Thus, we are talking about instances where we use our sense faculties as “āyatana“.
- Therefore, it is clear that the next step should be “salāyatana paccayā samphassa” instead of the normally used, “salāyatana paccayā phassa“.
- But conventionally “salāyatana paccayā phassa” is used because it rhymes better that way. One is supposed to know that it is really “samphassa” that comes into play here.

4. Let us take an example to go over the steps of the paticca samuppāda up to now as a review. Suppose there is a teenager who come to associate 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 contacts with the teenager, there is no one to explain to him the perils of such a way of life, and he embraces this wrong vision or “miccā ditthi“.
- Thus due to ignorance (avijjā), the teenger starts doing, speaking, and thinking like those gang members: “avijjā paccayā sankhāra“. We need to remember that all our actions and speech start with kāya and vaci sankhāra.
- Then what occupies his mind most of the time is thoughts related to gang activities and seeking pleasures by using drugs and alcohol: “sankhāra paccayā viññāna“. During gang activities his thoughts are focused on them, and what is in his subconscious during other times is also related to such activities.
- This 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 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“. Most of his sense contacts are defiled with greed, hate, and ignorance.
- Accordingly, most 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 vēdanā” ensues.

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 “vēdanā paccayā tanhā“; see, “Tanha – 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 sankhāra and are kamma that will bring vipāka.

6. Such strong attachments to gang activities this 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: “tanhā paccayā upādāna“.

- Among those gang activities, he may especially get attached to certain specific acts: could be 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.
- Within the gang there may be a sub-unit that mostly he hangs with. They will enjoy doing their favorite things together, and the gang may assign specific tasks to them which they are known to do well.

7. This leads to preparation of future “existence” or “bhava“. For example, suppose his sub-unit 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.

8. This progression from “avijjā paccayā sankhāra” to “upādāna paccayā bhava” does not happen in a linear sequence.
- Some steps go back and forth. For example, “avijjā paccayā sankhāra” is inevitably also followed by the reverse “sankhāra 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 is what will provide him happiness in the future. His mind will be more and more covered with kamaccanda (strong greed) and vyapada (strong hate), the two main components of the five hindrances.
- His ability to think clearly will be suppressed by the five hindrances, and avijjā (ignorance) will grow; thus “sankhāra paccayā avijjā” will also take place.
- There can be many such “inter-loops” that tend to strengthen the downward progression of that teenager.

9. Let us discuss the concept of a “bhava” in more detail. Since many people get confused with the terms “bhava” and “jāti“, it is important to be able to distinguish between the two.

- Every time we do a sankhāra (which can be a bodily act, speech, or a thought) a corresponding kamma (basically an action or speech) is done. In Buddha Dhamma too, every action has a reaction 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” come later in this life, or even in future lives, it is not easy to see these “action/ reaction” or “kamma/kamma vipāka” relationships.

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

- But what we are concerned with kamma that involve greed, hate, and ignorance. Anytime that happens those kamma (sankhāra) are potent. They can bring about significant results or kamma vipāka.
- The clearly strong kamma (sankhāra) are called kamma patha (or abhisankhāra). Killing one’s parents is a kamma patha or a abhisankhāra; since it is immoral, it is called an apunnabhisankhara (apunna+abhisankhāra). It will lead to very bad consequences (kamma vipāka).
- Saving the life of a human is also a abhisankhāra; since it is a moral one, it is called a punnabhisankhara (punna + abhisankhāra). It will lead to very good consequences.
- As we discussed above, those good or bad consequences may not be apparent even in this life; but they are likely to bear fruit in future lives.

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 called a “kamma beeja” 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, that potential (or energy) grows. It is said that such acts prepare a “bhava” or existence appropriate for that kamma.
- For example, as the above discussed teenager keeps doing his violent acts, he is making 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 gathi” 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. That is described by the idapaccayā paticca samuppāda that we are discussing now.
- Of course, when this bhava gets stronger with maintaining that life style, it may grow to be strong enough to bring in a birth in an actual “animal bhava”. That is described in the uppatti paticca samuppāda which we will discuss later.

12. Going back to our example, it becomes easier for that teenager to get that state of existence (bhava); he can be provoked easily and he can hurt someone without much remorse. Thus whole “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” cycle can run many times during a day as we will discuss in the next post.

- 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 young age. We all have both good and bad tendencies (“gathi“) coming from previous lives. Which ones get to grow further depends on how one’s life is directed by the environment especially at young age. When one is old enough one could of course make even drastic changes with effort.

13. As a given “kamma bhava” gets stronger with repeated actions, it can become a “uppatti 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 things here is the concept of a strong kamma seed that can give rise to a new existence (rebirth) or a “uppatti bhava“.
- Such strong kamma seeds suitable for uppatti bhava can grow over many lifetimes as well.
- It is likely that we all 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 that are 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“ on Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43)

We will discuss more details in the next post that will wrap-up this series on idapaccayā paticca samuppāda: “Bhava paccayā Jati….Jara, Marana,…“.
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Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by 2600htz »

Hello Lal:

I hope you are doing well with your health issue.

I was reading your website because i love the way you write - the abhidhamma section -.
There you explain the "nine stages of a citta" (I dont have any abhidhamma background, it never caught my interest, only suttas).
It seems the "nine stages of a citta" are just another way of describing dependent origination?. That was the impression i got. That would be one question, do you think that that´s right or not.

The second question is about the part where you state "the minute structure of a citta can only be seen by a Buddha" (Abhidhamma introduccion section). Is that stating "only a Buddha can see the nine stages of a citta", or it is talking about even more minute "subatomic" details. If its talking about even more minute details, then at what stage, or after what insight could someone state via direct knowledge (not just pondering the topic): "there are nine stages on a citta, i was able see it").

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