The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Rebirth is instant..
What do you mean by that? What happens at that instant of death?

When a human (say X) dies what happens at that moment?
a) Is X (or the lifestream of X) going to a mother's womb instantly to be reborn human?
b) Is X going to be born in a different realm at that instant?

If a gandhabba is not involved, one of the above two possibilities HAS to take place.

We need to logically think through the process without just making statements. Please take the time and respond. Please provide evidence from the Tipitaka to support your statements. Also, please do not quote others.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by confusedlayman »

Lal wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:12 pm
Rebirth is instant..
What do you mean by that? What happens at that instant of death?

When a human (say X) dies what happens at that moment?
a) Is X (or the lifestream of X) going to a mother's womb instantly to be reborn human?
b) Is X going to be born in a different realm at that instant?

If a gandhabba is not involved, one of the above two possibilities HAS to take place.

We need to logically think through the process without just making statements. Please take the time and respond. Please provide evidence from the Tipitaka to support your statements. Also, please do not quote others.

do u agree that energy exposed from ur body (exothermic like) makes changes with energy around ur body which in turn changes enerugy in ur locality which in turn changes energy in ur country and to globe and to cosmos and to far cosmos and to place where mind cant comprehend? some of the energy cognized by instruments and expeirence and most of them not. first read about this in physics or chemistry and i shall explain next point.
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

first read about this in physics or chemistry and i shall explain next point.
Thank you. Yes. I am ready to hear your explanation of bhava and jati.
- I am also interested in the answers to the specific two questions in my last reply regarding what happens when person X dies.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Fear of Nibbāna (Enlightenment)


1. I have presented an outline of the Buddha Dhamma in the “Wider Worldview of the Buddha” subsection. As explained there, the key message of the Buddha is that future suffering can be stopped only by stopping the rebirth process, i.e., by attaining Nibbāna. Now I need to clarify a few things.

- The main issue that I want to address is the “fear of Nibbāna.” That arises with the wrong view of “I exist.” Then the implication is that by stopping the rebirth process “I will be extinct.” It is also a wrong view to say that “I do not exist.” It is true that “I exist now as a human.” In the future, I may exist as Deva, Brahma, or an animal, based on the cumulative effect of my kamma (causes) up to now.
- If I attain the Arahanthood in this life, then after my death I will not exist anywhere in the 31 realms of this world. I would merge with Nibbāna.
- These days there are many unfruitful discussions about whether a “self” exists or not. As the Buddha pointed out, that is the wrong starting point to discuss the life-cycle. A given life-stream evolves according to causes (kamma.) When the ability for past kamma to bring their vipāka is stopped (i.e., taṇhā or upādāna stopped,) then that process will stop and one merges with Nibbāna at the death of that last physical body.
- The Buddha clearly stated that Nibbāna exists. See, “Nibbāna “Exists”, but Not in This World.” in the next post in a couple of days.
- I have discussed the Buddhist concept that while a “self with gati” exists until one attains Nibbāna, that is NOT a “permanent self” like a soul. See, for example, previous posts on “Anattā (Mundane Interpretation) – No ‘Unchanging Self’,” “An Apparent “Self” Is Involved in Kamma Generation,” and “Paṭicca Samuppāda – A “Self” Exists Due to Avijjā.” Also see, “Yamaka Sutta (SN 22.85) – Arahanthood Is Not Annihilation but End of Suffering.” at ... ihilation/

2. We will re-visit that deeper concept in upcoming posts again, in a systematic way.

- First, I would like to explain in simple terms that there is no need to be fearful about “stopping the rebirth process.”
- I did a Google search and found the following comments by two people in online discussion forums. Those are representative of the comments of many others and thus I would like to address those.

First Myth – Fear of “Vanishing” or “Extinction” Equated to Nibbāna

3. The following are extractions from the comments of Person 1.

- “I started taking the Buddhist path not long ago, less than three years ago. At that time, life felt too heavy and it felt like it was pushing me towards not wanting to play the game anymore. So Buddhism seemed like the way to go.”
- “I can’t forget the first time I faced the idea of vanishing from this existence forever, the true death; never being able to come back once I ‘saw it’. Nevertheless, I kept investigating. “
- “Then I contemplated the idea of being trapped in this. Existence has no way out, anywhere you go there is still existence. In other words ‘What if it has been like this for millions, billions of years, maybe even for eternity?”
- “But if enlightenment is the only escape, I am afraid of never being able to come back. I am afraid everything is just an illusion, that there aren’t others, just images and I’m alone. Sometimes I fear there isn’t even enlightenment to save me. My question is: Am I going crazy? Am I getting it all wrong?”

There Are Those Who Want to “End the Existence”

4. First of all, think about the mindset of those who commit suicide. Why do those people want to leave this world? Most of them probably do not believe in rebirth. But they just “wanted out” because they could not bear whatever the suffering that they were experiencing.

- In fact, that is the mindset of living-beings in the apāyā. They just want to “end it all.” But no matter how much they “want out,” that will not happen. That is a good example of the suffering expressed by the Buddha in the verse, “yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ,” or “not to get what one desires (icchā) is suffering”, in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11.)
- In the Saccavibhaṅga Sutta (MN 141), Ven. Sariputta explains the meaning of that verse: “Katamañcāvuso, yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ? Jātidhammānaṃ, āvuso, sattānaṃ evaṃ icchā uppajjati: ‘aho vata mayaṃ na jātidhammā assāma; na ca vata no jāti āgaccheyyā’ti. Na kho panetaṃ icchāya pattabbaṃ.“
- Translated (the answer to the question asked): “In a living-being subject to (some) births the wish (desire) arises, ‘Oh, may I not be subject to such a birth, and may that birth not come to me.’ But such a desire will not be fulfilled (and thus one will be subjected to suffering.)”

5. Thus, it is only when faced with physical pain/mental stress that one wishes it would just go away. Many people become interested in Buddhism when they run into either physical problems (getting sick or starting various body ailments due to old age) or mental problems (day-to-day stresses or even depression.)

- They can, of course, get relief from those issues by living a simple life and abstaining from immoral deeds.
- But then they start reading about Nibbāna as “ending of one’s existence” and then they freak out. That is what happened to Person 1 above.

Life in “Good Realms” Is Short-Lived

6. We normally do not realize the kind of harsh suffering experienced by many living beings. Of course, we can see only the animal realm other than the human realm. Even then, we do not pay much attention to the suffering of animals. In fact, we are conditioned to “not see” or “not recognize” the suffering of many animals that is in full display.

- For example, people enjoy watching animal shows on TV where, for example, a tiger chases a deer, catches up with it and eats it alive.
- Those who enjoy fishing do not see the suffering of a fish that is subjected to excruciating pain, with its mouth pierced by the hook, and unable to breathe outside water. But unlike some animals, fish cannot show emotion, which is a part of their kamma vipāka.
- On the other hand, we can clearly see many animals showing their suffering by either yelling out or by their facial expressions.
- All those animals had been humans at some point in the rebirth process!

7. Suffering in the other three realms of the apāyā is much worse. Therefore, those are the births (jāti) that we would not want for sure.

- The point is that as long as we are in the rebirth process, such births cannot be avoided. Such births are much more likely than human birth just based on the statistics we can verify.
- For example, there are less than eight billion people on Earth. But there are a million times more ants on Earth! There are a trillion TYPES OF lifeforms on Earth; see, “The Largest Study of Life Forms Ever Has Estimated That Earth Is Home to 1 TRILLION Species.” : ... on-speciesThese are mind-boggling numbers! That is not counting the other three realms in the apāyā that we cannot see.
- That is why the Buddha said that a human bhava (existence) is VERY rare. Any “pleasures” that we experience as a human is of VERY SHORT duration. The suffering that the Buddha taught was the suffering in the rebirth process where a given living-being spends much more time in the apāyā.
- Now we turn to the issue of “fear of non-existence in this world.”

We Are “Effectively Not in Existence” During at Least a Third of a Day

8. Even though we may fear “extinction out of existence,” we are not aware of “our existence” during sleep. We are not conscious while we sleep, especially during the deep sleep cycle. Most of the time, we go to sleep and until we wake up the next morning, we are completely unaware of our existence in the world.

- We don’t think about that normally. But I became acutely aware of this fact when I was made unconscious for over 9 hours during my brain surgery. I remember losing consciousness after the injection of the drug. The next thing I was aware of was when I came out of the drug-induced unconsciousness state.
- While unconscious or in deep sleep, we are (effectively) “not in this world.”
- When an Arahant dies, it will be like in such an “unconscious state (as far as this world is concerned)” forever. But he/she would have merged with Nibbāna. The Buddha clearly stated that Nibbāna exists. We just cannot explain it in terms of the concepts (rupa, citta, cetasika) in this world. See, “Nibbāna “Exists”, but Not in This World.” in the next post.
- There is no overlap between “this world of 31 realms” and Nibbāna (full Nibbāna or Parinibbāna.) They are mutually exclusive. One is either “in this world” or “in Parinibbāna.” Either the Buddha or any of the Arahants who have passed away are not in this world anymore.
- Once an Arahant dies and merges with Nibbāna, there will be no more deaths. Attainment of Nibbāna is by removing ALL causes for the birth and death cycle (with complete removal of avijjā.) That is why Nibbāna is also called “deathless.”

Comments of Person 2

9. The second comment that I chose was from Person 2. Some of the selected parts are below.

- “..I was meditating yesterday and had this weird “experience.” It freaks me the hell out because it was like I was never there. I’m just feeling scared now after that experience. It felt extremely beautiful to me yesterday but right now I’m just freaking out for some reason. My mind is just racing with the thought “I don’t want to die” and I’m just having an existential crisis.”
- “I’m wishing I never did any of this meditation or consciousness work in the first place because it’s making me think that I can delude myself into thinking I’m alive but I’ve always been dead and have just been an empty void. I feel like I’m going insane. I’m just feeling a wave of negativity.”
- “I know that the way I’m phrasing it is silly but I’m just curious about people who are completely enlightened (if such a thing is 100% possible). Are these people like talking corpses? All these words can come out their mouth and it looks like they’re alive, but they’re really dead?”

Can One Lose Perception While Meditating?

10. The first part of Person 2’s comment is to do with meditation. What he experienced was a “perception-less meditative state” or an “asañña samādhi.”

- Such a state is reached by focusing on getting rid of ALL thoughts that come to the mind. That is NOT Buddhist meditation. In Buddhist meditation, one stops ONLY those thoughts that are immoral. One would CULTIVATE good or moral thoughts.
- One who cultivates such an anariya meditation may be reborn in the asañña realm. That realm has a very long lifetime and there are no thoughts arising. It is like being unconscious for a billion years! Of course, that life will also end and one would be back in another realm.

Is An Arahant a Zombie?

11. Now, let us discuss the second highlighted comment from Person 2. An Arahant does not lose perception like in the case above in #10. A living Arahant “engages with the external world” just like anyone else.

- The only difference is that a living Arahant WILL NOT generate greedy, angry, or unwise thoughts.
- But he/she will recognize people as his/her mother, friend, an attractive person/object. He/she will experience the sweetness of sugar or the bitterness of vinegar, etc. Until the death of the physical body, an Arahant will live like any other human.

Nibbāna is Escape From Suffering – Two Types of Nibbāna

12. The Sinhala word for Nibbāna is “Nivana” or “Niveema” (නිවන/නිවීම.) That means “a cooling down.”

- Ādittapariyāya Sutta (SN 35.28) is one of the early discourses of the Buddha. In that sutta, the Buddha said that the world is burning. That means the mind of anyone who embraces the world as good and fruitful is always “burning” or “under stress.” That stress goes away at the first stage of Nibbāna (saupādisesa Nibbaba) experienced by a living Arahant.
- However, a living Arahant has a physical body that arose due to past kamma. That body can experience bad kamma vipāka from the past. After the death of that physical body, an Arahant will not be reborn and that is the end of any and all suffering. That is anupādisesa Nibbāna or Parinibbāna (full Nibbāna.)

13. Finally, if anyone has other issues related to this topic, this is a good time to discuss them. This kind of discussion will help clarify issues that I may not have thought about, but others may have.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Nibbāna “Exists”, but Not in This World


1. Misconceptions about Nibbāna arise because the true meaning of it had been hidden for many hundreds of years. In the previous posts in this series, I have described what Nibbāna is. See, “Nibbāna.” section at ... nibbana-2/

- The question many people have is, “what happens to an Arahant upon death?”. One simply is not reborn anywhere in the 31 realms of this world. It is called Parinibbāna (“pari” + Nibbāna“; meaning “full Nibbāna“).
- Until Parinibbāna, an Arahant lives like a normal person and is subjected to kamma vipāka. However, “stressful thoughts that arise due to greed, anger, and ignorance” do not arise in a living Arahant. Until the death of the physical body, an Arahant has saupadisēsa Nibbāna, i.e., Nibbāna is not complete.

2. It is not possible to “describe” Nibbāna (or more precisely what happens after Parinibbāna) in terms of the terminology rooted in “this world”. Not a single word that we use can be used to describe what Nibbāna is like.

- We simply do not have any “data” or “concepts” or “terminology” that pertain to Nibbāna because those would be totally foreign to us living in “this world”.
- One crude analogy would be trying to explain to a fish what life is like outside the water. A fish would not understand the need to breathe air instead of water.
- Another would be like trying to explain to a person who has time-traveled from thousand years ago, how radio or television works. He would not have sufficient “data” to be able to comprehend how radio or TV works.

Suttā on Nibbāna

3. But Nibbāna “exists” because one can attain it. But it does not exist in this world of 31 realms.

- There are four suttā in the Udāna section of the Anguttara Nikāya that explain Nibbāna (Udāna 8.1 through 8.4.)
- Once you open a sutta at the Sutta Central website, click on the left-most drop-down to choose one of several languages. This is a good resource; consider making a donation if you find it useful. Note: I am not associated with Sutta Central.
- Of source, the translations are incorrect frequently for key Pāli words, as is the case for many websites/books. But at least one can see the correct Pāli version.

Paṭhama Nibbāna Paṭisaṃyutta SuttaNibbāna Exists

3. Let us look at the first sutta, “Paṭhama Nibbāna Paṭisaṃyutta Sutta“: It says, “Atthi, bhikkhave, tadāyatanaṃ, yattha neva pathavī, na āpo, na tejo, na vāyo, na ākāsānañcāyatanaṃ, na viññāṇañcāyatanaṃ, na ākiñcaññāyatanaṃ, na nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṃ, nāyaṃ loko, na paraloko, na ubho candimasūriyā. Tatrāpāhaṃ, bhikkhave, neva āgatiṃ vadāmi, na gatiṃ, na ṭhitiṃ, na cutiṃ, na upapattiṃ; appatiṭṭhaṃ, appavattaṃ, anārammaṇamevetaṃ. Esevanto dukkhassā”ti.”.

- Let us consider the first part: “atthi, bhikkhave, tadāyatanaṃ“. Here “atthi” means “exists”, and “tadāyatana” is another word for Nibbāna. Tadāyatana comes from “tath” + “āyatana“, where “tath” (pronounced “thath”) means “perfect” and “āyatana” means “faculties”. Phonetically, the combined word is “tadāyatana” (pronounced “thadaayathana”).
- It is a good idea to be familiar with how to spell Pāli words with the “Tipiṭaka English” convention. It is DIFFERENT from “Standard English.” See, “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1 and “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 2" on Feb 08, 2020 (p. 78) : viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155
- Thus the translation of “Atthi, bhikkhave, tadāyatanaṃ” is, “Bhikkhus, Nibbāna exists (where everything is perfect)”.

4. The second part in the blue says what can be said about Nibbāna. First, “appatiṭṭhaṃ, appavattaṃ, anārammaṇamevetaṃ” means, “It is without support (causes), unmoving, without any ārammaṇa (thought object.)” The last part in the blue, “Esevanto dukkhassā”ti” means, “it is the end of suffering.”
• Therefore, those sentences in the blue state ALL that one can say about Nibbāna.
• The rest of that verse (in the red) says what is ABSENT in Nibbāna.

Paṭhama Nibbāna Paṭisaṃyutta Sutta – What is Absent in Nibbāna

5. The first part marked in deep red is, “there is no patavi, āpo, tējo, vāyo (mahā bhūta) there; there is no ākāsānañcāyatana, no viññāṇañcāyatana, no ākiñcaññāyatana, no nevasaññānāsaññāyatana; furthermore, there is no “this world (that we experience), there is no para loka (where gandhabbā live, see, “Hidden World of the Gandhabba: Netherworld (para loka)”: ... para-loka/); and the Moon or the Sun would not arise there” (candimasūriyā is Moon and the Sun).

The second part marked in red says, “Bhikkhus, I say there is surely no coming and going between ayam loko and para loko, no living in either of those, no passing away (cuti), no birth.”

- The absence of patavi, āpo, tējo, vāyo means NOTHING made of matter that we see around us (people, animals, trees, other planets or stars) is there in Nibbāna.
- So, all that we experience (including jhāna) will not be there, after Parinibbāna, as discussed in #2 above.
- And, of course, there is no gandhabba going back and forth between “ayam loko” and “para loko.”
- Our terminology regarding ANYTHING AT ALL simply does not apply there.

Without Nibbāna There Would Not Be an End to Suffering

6. The Tatiya Nibbāna Paṭisaṃyutta Sutta (Udāna 8.3) has the following key verse: “Atthi, bhikkhave, ajātaṃ abhūtaṃ akataṃ asaṅkhataṃ. No ce taṃ, bhikkhave, abhavissa ajātaṃ abhūtaṃ akataṃ asaṅkhataṃ, na yidha jātassa bhūtassa katassa saṅkhatassa nissaraṇaṃ paññāyetha. Yasmā ca kho, bhikkhave, atthi ajātaṃ abhūtaṃ akataṃ asaṅkhataṃ, tasmā jātassa bhūtassa katassa saṅkhatassa nissaraṇaṃ paññāyatī”ti

Translated:Bhikkhus, “not born”, “not formed”, “not made”, “not conditioned” exists. For Bhikkhus, if there had not been that which is “not born”, “not formed”, “not made”, “not conditioned”, an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned cannot be discerned. But Bhikkhus, since there is a “not born”, “not formed”, “not made”, “not conditioned”, an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned is evident.”

- The “not born”, “not formed”, “not made”, “not conditioned” is Nibbāna. It is reached by eliminating all that is formed, made, and conditioned.
- In other words, “this world” comes to existence (for a given person) because of the bhava and jāti built via defiled thoughts (saṅkhāra) generated due to avijjā (in the Paṭicca Samuppāda process.) With the cessation of avijjā, that mechanism or process stops and no more rebirths will be possible. That results in Nibbāna.
- There are two more companion suttā that describe Nibbāna: “Dutiyanibbānapaṭisaṃyutta Sutta (Ud 8.2)” and “Catutthanibbānapaṭisaṃyutta Sutta (Ud 8.4).” The translations available there are good enough to get further insights. All four suttā can be accessed from the link in #3.

The Fire Analogy

7. One time, the inquisitor Vaccagotta (there is a whole series of suttā in the Vaccagottavagga of the Samyutta Nikāya about his probing questions put forth to the Buddha), asked the Buddha what happens to an Arahant upon death: “Where would he/she go?”.

- The Buddha showed him a burning fire, and asked him, “when this fire is extinguished, can you say where it went?”. Vaccagotta understood. When the fire is extinguished, it simply is not there anymore. That is all one can say. In the same way, when an Arahant dies, he/she is not reborn and thus cannot be “found” anywhere in the 31 realms.
- On the other hand, someone with abhiññā powers (with the cutūpapāda ñāna) can see where a normal person is reborn upon death. That life-stream exists somewhere in the 31 realms.

Rāgakkhayo Dosakkhayo MohakkhayoIdaṃ Vuccati Nibbānan

8. The Buddha could only explain to us the way to attain Nibbāna, by relinquishing our desire for worldly things based on the unsatisfactory nature (or the anicca nature) of this world.

- The Buddha said, “rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayoidaṃ vuccati nibbānan” ti“, i.e., one attains Nibbāna via getting rid of rāga, dōsa, mōha in ones' mind. Thus cleansing our minds is the only way to Nibbāna. See, for example, Nibbānapañhā Sutta (SN 38.1) and Sāmaṇḍaka Sutta (SN 39.1.)
- However, it is not possible to even start on “rāgakkhaya” until one gets to the Sōtapanna stage. “Rāgakkhaya” attained partially at the Anāgami stage (via removal of kāma rāga) and fully at the Arahant stage (via removal of rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga). A Sōtapanna reduces dōsa to paṭigha level (removed at the Anāgāmi stage), and mōha to avijjā level (removed at the Arahant stage).
- In the new section, “Living Dhamma“, we discuss these points and start from a basic level, even without referring to deeper concepts like rebirth.

Nibbāna Reached In Stages

9. The point is that Nibbāna is to be comprehended in stages.

- The very first stage of Nibbāna or “Niveema” or “cooling down” can be experienced even before getting to the Sōtapanna stage. In fact, it is not possible to get to the Sōtapanna stage by skipping this step.
- To attain the Sōtapanna stage one MUST comprehend the anicca nature of this world to some extent. In order for the mind to grasp that concept, it must be free of the “coarse defilements” or “panca nivārana” or “five hindrances” that cover one’s mind.
- For that one MUST live a moral life, start contemplating Buddha Dhamma, and experience the “cooling down” that results.

10. Many people try to attain or comprehend Nibbāna by reading about deep concepts about what it is. There are so many books out there on explaining what Nibbāna is, by people who may not have experienced even the basic “cooling down” or “nirāmisa sukha“.

- They try to explain concepts like sunyata or “emptiness” and bodhicitta; see, “What is Sunyata or Sunnata (Emptiness)?“. That is a complete waste of time because as we saw above, it is not possible to describe Nibbāna with words that we know.
- Rather, one starts experiencing Nibbāna in stages. One can start experiencing the RELIEF or COOLING DOWN that results when one starts living a moral life and start discarding dasa akusala in STAGES.
- Furthermore, it is important to understand that one does not start on the Path by first comprehending the anicca nature; the anicca nature will gradually become clear.
- The Buddha clearly stated the importance of following a gradual Path in the “Maha Chattarisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty)“. Also, see, “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart“.
- Even a person who does not believe in rebirth can start from this level: “Living Dhamma“. This and any relevant post can be easily found at by using the "Search" box on top right. Just enter the relevant word(s) in that box.

Nibbāna Is Not a Dhamma – It Is a Paramatta Dhamma

11. In the post, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma – Introduction“, we saw that everything that EXISTS, can be put into four ultimate constituents (paramatta dhamma):
(i) Thoughts (citta)
(ii) Thought qualities or mental factors (cētasika)
(iii) Matter (rūpa)
(iv) Nibbāna

- Any dhamma in this world is normally a COMBINATION of ALL THREE of the first three paramatta dhamma. Note that dhammā “bear” things in this world.
- The fourth paramatta dhamma in the list above, Nibbāna, does not exist within the 31 realms. But Nibbāna exists, i.e., it can be attained. An Arahant merges with Nibbāna at the death of his/her physical body.
- Nibbāna is NOT dhamma. It does not “bear” anything in this world.

Nibbāna Can Be Experienced in Nirōdha Samāpatti

12. Let us discuss some relevant characteristics of an Arahant, i.e., one who has attained Nibbāna. He/she cannot experience Nibbānic bliss (experience of full Nibbāna) unless getting into Nirōdha Samāpatti. An Arahant can experience Nirōdha Samāpatti for a maximum of seven days at a time.

- When an Arahant is in Nirōdha Samāpatti, there are no citta or thoughts flowing through his/her mind. There is no breathing and is not very different from a dead body (other than the fact that the body of the Arahant will have normal body temperature.) The point is, that Arahant will not be able to explain to us “the experience of Nibbāna“. In our terminology, all he/she can say is that he/she did not experience any “worldly thoughts”.
- At other times, an Arahant will be experiencing “this world” just like another human: he/she will recognize people/things, sounds, smells, etc. The only exception is that thoughts burdened with rāga, dōsa, mōha cannot arise: Asobhana (non-beautiful) cetasika are absent in those thoughts; see, “What Are Kilesa (Mental Impurities)? – Connection to Cetasika“.
- But he/she will be engaged in puñña kriya (meritorious deeds like delivering discourses), just like the Buddha did; they are just “actions”, and are not puññābhisaṅkhāra or puñña abhisaṅkhāra.

Nibbāna and Parinibbāna

13. Here is another interesting point. Some Arahants may have kammic energy for the “human bhava” left when he/she dies; see, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“ on Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=630. But still, there will not be another rebirth for any Arahant in this world of 31 realms.

- The reason is that the “status of the Arahanthood” could not be borne (or sustained) by any other “finer body” than a dense human body. For example, if he/she were to be reborn human, then a human gandhabba need to come out of the dead human body; see, “gandhabba (Manomaya Kaya)“. But the fine body (trija kaya) of the gandhabba cannot “bear” the energy associated with an Arahant.
- In the same way, the fine, subtle “bodies” of a Deva or a Brahma also cannot sustain the mind of an Arahant. Thus, if a Deva or a Brahma attains the Arahanthood, they will immediately attain Parinibbāna. In other words, there are no living Arahants in Deva or Brahma realms.

14. We can consider the following analogy to make clear what happens. A heater-coil is immersed in water, can “bear” the current that passes through it, while immersed in boiling water. But if we take a coil out of the water, it will burn. The heater coil cannot “bear” the current passing through it unless immersed in water.

- In the same way, the “Arahanthood” can be “borne” or be “sustained” only with a solid human body. Once the gandhabba comes out of that body –upon the death of that physical body — the “Arahanthood” cannot be “borne” by that very fine body. In fact, the “Arahanthood” cannot be “borne” by an even a layperson for more than 7 days. Once attaining the “Arahanthood“, one must become a Bhikkhu within 7 days, or one will die because a layperson cannot “bear” the “Arahanthood“.
- With Parinibbāna (death of an Arahant)” the Nibbāna is complete”. The Sinhala word is “pirinivana“, where “nivana” is Nibbāna and “piri” means “full” or “complete”.
- Therefore, Nibbāna exists. But one who has attained “full Nibbāna” or Parinibbāna will no longer be in this world of 31 realms. One would be totally free of any and all sufferings in this world, including harsh sufferings in the apāyā.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda – Introduction

The uniqueness of Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism)

Kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda are closely related, with saṅkhāra bridging the gap. We will get to the role of saṅkhāra in the next post.

1. Many Eastern religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism) believe in kamma and rebirth. So, what is the difference in Buddhism?

- Abrahamic religions do not believe in rebirth. But they also teach that the way to get to a state of permanent happiness is to live a moral life. That means one needs to do good kamma and avoid doing bad kamma.
- On the other hand, all religions other than Buddhism are based on finding a permanent existence of happiness in a heavenly world. Buddha Dhamma does not promise sensory pleasures in a heavenly realm. Attachment to sensory pleasures is what leads to future suffering.
- By the way, Buddhism is not a religion. It is a fully self-consistent world view. When one comprehends that world view, one can see a permanent solution to the problem of suffering.
- Understanding the Four Noble Truths first requires understanding that suffering exists in the rebirth process. That understanding will reveal three more truths at the same time. (i) The Causes of future suffering, (ii) that those causes CAN BE REMOVED, and (iii) the WAY to stop that suffering from arising. Therefore, it is necessary to first understand the “previously unknown suffering” that the Buddha revealed to the world.

2. Buddhism (Buddha Dhamma) says the following.

(i) There is no existence in this world where suffering is absent permanently. There are existences in higher-realms that are almost suffering-free, but they also have limited lifetimes.
(ii) Even if one does good deeds and lives a moral life, one can have bad future births because of kamma from previous lives.
(iii) On the other hand, even if one has lived immorally in this life, it is possible to attain Nibbāna in this life.

- Those three points may not be clear. In the next few posts, I will address those issues.
- The answers to those questions will also clarify the following. The Buddha taught that it is not a good starting point to insist on whether a “self” exists or not. Instead, we need to start by investigating how future births (and thus future suffering) arise. Just like in science,
- Like science, Buddha Dhamma is based on the Principle of Causality. Nothing can happen without causes. Yet, NOT all causes inevitably lead to their outcomes. That is a crucial point to understand too.

Causes and Conditions Bring Future Births

3. If all causes just lead to their consequences, then kamma would lead to deterministic outcomes. For example, some religions teach that immoral deeds WILL lead to their results. So, they try to find ways to remove existing bad kamma. That is what the Buddha also tried to do for six years while striving to attain the Buddhahood.

- On the night of his Enlightenment, the Buddha discovered that causes could bring their effects (results) ONLY if the right conditions are there. That is Paṭicca Samuppāda, the Principle of Causes and Conditions. But one must understand what those conditions are. That is why Paṭicca Samuppāda is a profound concept.
- By the way, Paṭicca Samuppāda pronounced, “patichcha samuppaada.” The way Pāli words are written is different from standard English; see, “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1” and “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 2” on Feb 08, 2020 (p. 78): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155
- Paṭicca Samuppāda explains how causes lead to their effects UNDER suitable conditions. Therefore, we do not need to remove past kamma. We can purify our minds so that CONDITIONS for those bad kamma to bring vipāka will be absent. That is how Angulimāla, who killed almost a thousand people, was able to attain the Arahanthood; see below.
- Since this principle of CAUSES and CONDITIONS is a crucial point, let us discuss this a bit more with that analogy of a seed.

An Example of the Requirement of Conditions

4. An apple seed has the POTENTIAL to bring an apple tree to life, so the CAUSE is there in the seed.

- Suppose one prepares a plot by preparing the soil, providing water, and plants the seed there. If sunlight is also available, the apple seed will germinate, and an apple tree will grow. Those are the necessary CONDITIONS for that apple seed to germinate and give rise to an apple tree.
- However, if one keeps the apple seed in a cool, dry place, it will not germinate, i.e., necessary CONDITIONS are not present in that case for an apple tree to come to life. After a long time, the seed will become a “dud” and will never be able to give rise to a tree.
- Furthermore, when an apple seed is planted, a mango tree will not result from that, only an apple tree. The RESULT (vipāka) is according to the CAUSE (kamma or more specifically kamma bīja).

Example From Tipiṭaka – The account of Angulimāla

5. In the same way, someone who attains the Arahanthood may have done highly immoral deeds even in the present life. But he/she would have eliminated the CONDITIONS that can bring the results of those deeds to fruition.

- The account of Angulimāla is a good example to illustrate this point. He had killed almost a thousand people. Thus he had done enough bad kamma to be born in the apāyā many times. Yet he was able to attain the Arahanthood in a few weeks! See, “Account of Angulimāla – Many Insights to Buddha Dhamma.” at ... -insights/ This is an important post, and I will post it here in a few days.
- When one does a bad kamma, a kamma bīja (kamma seed) is created. Under suitable conditions, that kamma seed can “germinate” and lead to a new birth, just as a seed can lead to the birth of a plant. We will discuss how such a kamma seed is created by one’s powerful thoughts (javana citta.)
- However, unlike in the case of plant seed, even potent kamma CANNOT bring vipāka to an Arahant to bring rebirth. In the case of Angulimāla, the strong bad kamma of killing almost a thousand people was done in the same life that he attained Parinibbāna. At his death, those kammic energies were there, but his mindset would not grasp them, i.e., the “upādāna paccāyā bhava” step in PS would not take place.
- Of course, we need to discuss that last point in detail in the upcoming posts.

6. Furthermore, the result (if it manifests) is compatible with the kamma. That is analogous to only an apple tree arising due to an apple seed. Akusala kamma (an immoral deed) will only lead to a birth in the apāyā. It will not lead to a birth in the human realm or a higher realm.

- Similarly, a kusala kamma (a good deed) will not lead to a birth in the apāyā. It will only lead to a birth in a good realm.
- Most importantly, even if the causes are there, corresponding results (vipāka) would not materialize if necessary conditions are not fulfilled.
- We all have done uncountable kusala and akusala kamma in our previous lives. We need to be mindful to make conditions for good kamma to bring their vipāka AND for bad kamma not to bring their vipāka.
- So, we can see why both CAUSES and CONDITIONS play roles in our daily life and in the rebirth process.

“Self” and “No-Self” Are Misleading Concepts

7. We can get some insights about the concept of a “self” from the fact that an Arahant would not have a rebirth. If a permanent “self” existed, it would be impossible for an Arahant to attain Parinibbāna and to end the rebirth process. That means there was no everlasting “self” like a “soul” or an “Atman” or “ātma.”

- However, that Arahant was possibly born in most of the 31 realms uncountable times in the past. During a human existence, for example, there was a “self” living his/her life. He/she was making his/her decisions.
- When that Arahant was born an animal, it would have had the mindset of an animal. When born In a Deva realm, that Deva would have enjoyed sensual pleasures for a long time.
- Therefore, the idea that there is “no-self” while one is living life does not make sense either. There is obviously “a self,” making decisions about how to live life. Even a wild animal has to decide how to get the next meal.

8. We can summarize as follows. While we live this life, we cannot deny that we exist. On the other hand, the idea of a “self” is a temporary one. That ‘self” keeps changing even during life, but will change drastically when grasping a “new bhava.” Thus, it is also not correct to talk about an “everlasting self.”

- The “sense of a self” goes away entirely only at the Arahant stage. Until then, we need to try to comprehend WHY it is unfruitful to take anything in this world to be “mine.”
- That does not mean one needs to start giving away everything that one owns. We have responsibilities to fulfill. Furthermore, the “giving” and “letting go” will happen AUTOMATICALLY as the mindset changes. I have personally experienced that.
- Another critical point is that having the “big picture” helps clarify many issues. That may sound contradictory, but that is true. See, “The Framework of Buddha Dhamma.”

The Bigger Picture of 31 Realms

9. As we discussed in many previous posts, our world is much more complicated than what we can experience with our limited senses. I will summarize some relevant key points to the current discussion.

- The 31 realms in our world belong to three types of “lōka” or “worlds.” The “kāma lōka” has 11 realms, including the human realm. There are 16 realms in “rūpa lōka” where rūpāvacara Brahmā live. Then, there are four realms in “arūpa lōka” for arūpāvacara Brahmā.
- Those higher-lying two lōkā are the simplest. In those 20 realms, there is only jhānic pleasure. A human can experience all those by cultivating jhāna. The lower four jhānā correspond to the jhānic experiences of the 16 rūpāvacara Brahma realms. The higher four correspond to the four arūpāvacara Brahma realms. All those Brahmā do not have “dense bodies” like ours. Their “bodies” have very little matter. They are even harder to “see” than even gandhabbā.
- The remaining 11 realms are in the kāma lōka. Sensory pleasures associated with eating, smelling, and body touches are available only in those 11 realms. Living beings in those 11 realms have relatively “dense solid bodies” or karaja kaya. There is a complex variety of “bodies” in kāma lōka. We can see very high complexity even within the animal realm. In general, Devā in the six realms have “bodies” much lighter than ours but denser than Brahma.

What Leads to Rebirth in Different Realms?

This has answers from the close relationship between kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda, where saṅkhāra plays a key role.

10. To be born in those higher 20 realms, a human must cultivate jhānā.

- It is not necessary to follow Buddha Dhamma to cultivate either type of jhānā and to be born in those higher 20 realms. Anāriya (or non-Noble) meditation techniques (breath and kasina meditations) can be used to cultivate those anāriya jhāna.
- However, that birth in a Brahma realm lasts only for the duration of the life there. Then one will be born back in the kāma lōka based on the strongest kamma vipāka that comes to the mind of that Brahma at the dying moment.
- Rebirths in various realms in the kāma lōka are much more complex. We will discuss those in the next post, where we will discuss the role of saṅkhāra.


11. We have discussed other ways of looking at the basic principles in Buddha Dhamma before. See, for example, “The Framework of Buddha Dhamma.” on Feb 23, 2020 (p.78) : viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155

- The above is a simple summary of yet another way. We will continue to explore the connection between kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda in the next post.
- It is essential to grasp the basic framework from different “vantage points.” Then we can slowly get into more profound aspects.
- Reviewing the “bigger picture” from different angles is necessary to get an idea of the beginning-less rebirth process. The world is complex, and understanding it is like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle. It takes a real effort, but it becomes joyful when one gets some traction.
- Once one starts understanding the essential aspects, one will see the value of the Buddha, his Dhamma (teachings), and the Sangha, who understood this profound Dhamma and transmitted it faithfully over 2500 years. That is real faith (saddhā.)
- This series of posts on posts started with the post, "Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin" on Jun 29, 2019 (p. 73): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Account of Angulimāla – Many Insights to Buddha Dhamma


1. Angulimāla had killed 999 people but was able to attain the Arahanthood within a few weeks after meeting the Buddha. His life story can help us understand how and why even vipāka for such highly immoral deeds can be overcome.

Even though the laws of kamma play an important role in Buddha Dhamma, one can overcome the consequences of such highly immoral actions. That is by comprehending the more fundamental principle of causality: one can bypass all such kamma vipāka (all future suffering) by getting rid of avijjā and taṇhā (the root causes).
The following two posts at also discuss kamma and kamma vipāka: “What is Kamma? – Is Everything Determined by Kamma?” and “How to Evaluate Weights of Different Kamma.” It is easy to find relevant posts by entering a keyword ("kamma" in this case) at the Search box on the top right.

2. I highly -recommend a good account of the life story of Angulimāla here: “Angulimāla – A Murderer’s Road to Sainthood.” ... el312.html

- Reading that account first will help with the discussion below.

Brief Summary of Angulimāla’s Life

3. To summarize the critical points in the story of Angulimāla:

- He was called Ahimsaka (“Harmless”) as a boy and was an excellent student. He was the best in class at the premier learning institute of that day in Takkasila (Taxila). His peers were jealous and tried to convince the teacher that Ahimsaka was plotting to take his job.
- The teacher finally believed those false accusations and came up with a way to get Ahimsaka killed. When Ahimsaka finished his studies and asked how he can pay for his education, the teacher said: “You must bring me a thousand human little fingers of the right hand.”
- That is how Ahimsaka became a killer and came to be known as “Angulimāla” because he started wearing some of those cut fingers in a garland around his neck.

4. Angulimāla had killed 999 people and was about to kill his mother to get the last finger when the Buddha intervened.

- The quick-witted Angulimāla was able to comprehend a few verses that the Buddha uttered and asked the Buddha to ordain him right there.
Ven. Angulimāla became an Arahant soon afterward.
- Later on, the Buddha reminded Ven. Angulimāla that he had now been “born” a Āriya (Noble Person), even though he had killed so many people when he was a murderer. This concept of changing “bhava” even during a given existence discussed below.

First Observation – Importance of Gati and Environment

5. The first thing we can see is that obedient and well-behaved Ahimsaka became a murderer because of his teacher’s influence. External influences (family, friends, etc.) can be a crucial factor in changing one’s gati (pronounced “gathi”) loosely translated as “character.” (Note that Pāli words are written not in “standard English,” but with an adopted “Tipiṭaka English” convention. See, “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1″ and “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 2.”)

- That is why parents must always be on the lookout on what kind of friends a child has. Friends can have a considerable influence on a child.
- That is also true for adults. One must get away from those who pull in wrong directions and make new associations along “good directions.”
- Gati are discussed in many posts at this site. One can find a list of relevant posts by entering “gati” in the “Search” box on the top right.

Second Observation – There is no “unchanging self“

6. The second thing we can see is that there is no “unchanging self.”

- Harmless Ahimsaka became a violent murderer in Angulimāla and killed almost 1000 people.
- Then that violent Angulimāla, the murderer, became a Noble Person within a short time after meeting the Buddha and within weeks Ven. Angulimāla became an Arahant too!

7. In the “bigger picture” of the “three lōkas” and “31 realms”, we saw that the “lifestream of any living being” can change from “good to bad,” “bad to good,” “good to bad again,” etc an uncountable times in the beginning-less rebirth process.

- We all have been in the highest Brahma realm and the lowest apāya too. But we all have spent most of that time in the suffering-filled apāyās.
- The only way to get out of this “ceaseless wandering in the rebirth process (sansāra or samsāra)” is to become an Arahant, as Ven. Angulimāla did.
- The first step is to attain the Sōtapanna stage to be free of at least the four lowest realms (apāyā).

Third Observation – There is a Causal Link (“Sort of a Self”)

8. However, as we discussed in the previous post, it is not possible to say that “there is no-self” either.

- Nothing happens without a reason or a cause (at least one, but usually many causes).
- A human is reborn an animal or a Brahma due to a reason. There is a CONNECTION between two adjacent “bhava” or existences.
- Ahimsaka did not become Angulimāla without causes. One cause was the influence of his peers on the teacher. Then Ahimsaka blindly followed the instructions of the teacher.
- But then all that reversed due to the influence of the Buddha.

9. That is why it is also incorrect to say, “there is no-self.” There is always a “self” — living at least momentarily — that is responsible for how that “self” evolves in the future.

- But that “changing self” can and will change between “good’ and “bad” based on many factors. Key factors are self’s deeds and external influences on that “self” at any given time.

Fourth Observation – Two Types of “Bhava” or Existence

10. Another critical point is that one could be born in a “temporary bhava” or “temporary existence” DURING this life. As we saw, Angulimāla switched “temporary bhava” from an innocent boy to a murderer, and back to an Arahant!

- For example, a person who drinks habitually is not drunk all the time. He is in a “drunken bhava” or “drunken existence” while he is intoxicated. The next day he is sober and would not be in a “drunken bhava” until he drinks again.
- In the same way, one is in an “angry bhava” when she gets angry. But after the anger subsides, she is not in that “existence” or “bhava” anymore.
- Temporary bhava (or transient existences) explained via “Idapaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda” processes (those operate during a given life). Even though only one type of Paṭicca Samuppāda is presented in the textbooks today, there are different types.

11. When one habitually gets into such a “temporary bhava” repeatedly, then that becomes a cultivated gati or habit/character.

- In that case, it could lead to a new “uppatti bhava” (or “bhava associated with rebirth”) too. For example, when one gets angry all the time and then one day kills another human, that could lead to rebirth in an apāya. That is a “more permanent bhava” that can last a long time.
- That is the more common Paṭicca Samuppāda cycle, i.e., the “Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.”
- The section on “Paṭicca Samuppāda” is a must-read.

Fifth Observation – Going Back and Forth in the Rebirth Process

12. So, there could be some periods in the rebirth process where one mostly does “good deeds,” cultivates “good gati,” and thus gets “good bhava” and therefore “good births” (jāti). We discussed the difference between bhava and jāti in the post: “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.”

- Then, one’s gati may change to “bad gati,” especially when one comes under “bad influences and associates.” In that case, one may start on a “downward path” and eventually one’s gati will become harmful to the extent that one will get a “bad bhava.”
- We can see such examples around us. We all have seen good children becoming drug addicts and then becoming even murderers due to evil associations. The opposite happens too, when a violent person may change those bad gati and become a “good citizen” under the right influences.
- That is what we all have been doing (going back and forth between good and bad existences), in this beginning-less rebirth process.

Sixth Observation – Angulimāla’s Realization

13. When Angulimāla was chasing the Buddha and could not get even close to the Buddha. To quote from the account referenced above, Angulimāla stopped and called out, “Stop, monk! Stop, monk!”

“I have stopped, Angulimala. You stop, too.”

- That got Angulimāla to thinking, and he started asking why the Buddha — while still walking — said that he had stopped. The Buddha explained that he had stopped his samsāric wandering (rebirth process) and had overcome all suffering.
- That is when Angulimāla gained insight and became Ven. Angulimāla.

14. Therefore, the critical point to understand is that it is NOT ENOUGH just to do “good deeds,” even though that is a must.

- One MUST take another step and realize that we have been trapped in this rebirth process filled with (mostly) suffering due to two reasons.
- Let us briefly discuss those two CRITICAL points.

Seventh Observation – The Critical Discovery of the Buddha

15. First, until a Buddha comes to the world (meaning a human attains the Buddhahood by purifying the mind to the greatest extent), humans are unaware of the “wider world view” with “three types of lōkas” and 31 realms.

- Even though one could be occasionally born in “good realms” at or above the human realm, beings are reborn mostly in the lowest four realms (apāyās) due to misdeeds done in seeking sense pleasures.
- Of course, there is suffering in any realm, but it is less in higher realms.
- Therefore, most of rebirths lead to much suffering. That is the essence of the First Noble Truth.

16. Secondly, until a Buddha comes to the world, it is not known how to escape from this endless rebirth process filled with suffering.

- There have been, and there will always be teachers who realize that misdeeds lead to unfortunate rebirths and good deeds lead to good rebirths, and teach that to others.
- But it is only a Buddha that can figure out that doing good deeds is not enough. One needs to see the anicca nature of this world of 31 realms. That means even if one gets a rebirth in the highest realm with long lifetimes of billions of years, one will end up in despair and eventual death.
- Then one gets back to the same cycle of rebirths, where one will inevitably do evil deeds (due to cravings or sense temptations) and will be born in the apāyā.

Eighth Observation – The Root Cause for Suffering

17. Therefore, the key is to realize that one needs to REMOVE the tendency to be tempted by sense desires.

- One needs to “see” that anicca nature, i.e., it is a waste of time to seek happiness in this world. That will sooner or later lead to rebirth in the apāyā (dukkha). Therefore, in the end, one will become helpless (anatta), when born in an apāya.
- It is not possible to forcefully suppress cravings under “strong sense temptations.” When one sees the “anicca nature,” cravings are automatically removed (in four stages of Nibbāna).
- That is the Second Noble Truth, the cause of future suffering.

Ninth Observation – The Way to Nibbāna

18. Once the “big picture” of the 31 realms — together with how one WILL BE born among them due to one’s actions (kamma) — is understood, one would have removed the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi.

- That is because that “complete picture” requires the rebirth process, laws of kamma, etc.

19. Then one can begin to understand the “unfulfilling and dangerous nature of the wider world of 31 realms” or the “anicca nature.”

- That “anicca nature” explains how “dukkha” or suffering arises, and one will become helpless (anatta) in the rebirth process. Those are three main characteristics (anicca, dukkha, anatta) that are called Tilakkhana (and they are inter-related).
- That is when one attains the Sōtapanna stage of Nibbāna.

20. That is why anicca has nothing to do with “impermanence,” and “anatta” has nothing to do with a “self” or a “non-self.”

- That knowledge about Tilakkhana or the “true nature of this world” is available only in Buddha Dhamma.
- Until a Buddha comes to this world and DISCOVERS that “bigger picture,” no one will be able to see that “bigger picture.” Thus humans are unaware of the dangers in remaining in this cycle of rebirths filled with suffering.

Tenth Observation – Kamma Vipāka Will be Effective Until Death of an Arahant

21. Even though Ven. Angulimāla had attained the Arahanthood, he was getting injured by “stone-throwers” regularly. Most of the time, those stones were not directed at him, but he was getting hit accidentally.

- As described in the above essay, “with blood running from his injured head, with his bowl broken, and with his patchwork robe torn, the venerable Angulimala went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming, and he told him: “Bear it, brāhmanā, bear it, brāhmanā! You have experienced here and now the ripening of kamma whose ripening you might have experienced in hell over many a year, many a century, many a millennium.”
- If Angulimāla died without being saved by the Buddha, he would have suffered in the apāyā for an unimaginable time!

22. As we had discussed before, even a Buddha cannot avoid some of kamma vipāka. The physical body in this life arose due to past kamma, and many aspects associated with that body cannot be changed.

- At the death of the physical body, there are no more rebirths anywhere in the 31 realms. Then, there is no way for any kamma vipāka to materialize (come to fruition). That is why the physical death of an Arahant is called “Parinibbāna” or “complete Nibbāna.”
- There will be absolutely no suffering after the Parinibbāna.

23. Therefore, we can see that there are many insights in the accounts of notable personalities in the Tipiṭaka. They are all consistent with the core teachings.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Kāma Assāda – A Root Cause of Suffering

Kāma Assāda – Sensory Pleasures

1. Kāma assāda, or simply “kāma,” means “sensory pleasures.” We all like and crave sensory pleasures. An average human likes to eat tasty foods, smell perfumes, and experience soothing bodily contacts, including sex. He/she also wants to see related objects and listen to related sounds. Thus, an average human enjoys such sensory events through all five physical senses.

- Besides, we also tend to endlessly think about such “pleasures” and how to get more of them. Thus, we use all six senses to “enjoy sensual pleasures.” That leads to kāma taṇhā, one of the three types of taṇhā: kāma taṇhā, bhava taṇhā, vibhava taṇhā.
- The Buddha pointed out that we are trapped in the suffering-filed rebirth process because of this tendency to value sensory pleasures or kāma assāda. That is another way to discuss the “previously unknown suffering” that the Buddha introduced in his first discourse, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. The dangers in kāma assāda stated there as one extreme way to live life, or “kāmasukhallikānuyogo.”
- It is important to note that Buddha rejected the opposite extreme, too (“attakilamathānuyogo.”) There is no need to force oneself to eat less or to eat not-tasty food, be subject to unpleasant bodily contacts, etc. The “middle way” is to live a simple life away from both extremes and to contemplate and comprehend the “true nature of this world 31 realms.”
- It is not easy to comprehend the bad consequences/danger (ādinava) of kāma assāda. We will go through a systematic analysis.

Connection to the Previous Post

2. In the previous post, we discussed that causes (kamma bija) are not enough to bring about their results (kamma vipaka.) Just because one has done bad kamma does not mean one will have to face adverse consequences, especially unfortunate rebirths. The same is true for good kamma.

- We all have done enough good and bad kamma to sustain the rebirth process over billions of years. However, even Angulimala, who killed almost a thousand people, was able to nullify that kamma. He did that by purifying his mind (attaining Arahantship) and removing avijjā and taṇhā that fuel the Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda process.
- That indirect way of “overcoming” a kamma bija is called kammakkhaya. It does not destroy any previous kamma bija. Instead, one would remove the conditions for such kamma bija to “germinate.” As we know, the removal of avijjā will stop the tendency to attach to “worldly things” (taṇhā). Then, the “upādāna paccayā bhava” step in Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda will not take place.
- The key message of the Buddha was that the rebirth process in “this world” is filled with suffering. When one comprehends that “hidden suffering” of “this world,” one will strive to overcome the rebirth process and to attain Nibbāna.
- “This world” (“ayam loko”) consists of three loka: kāma loka (with 11 realms,) rupa loka (with 16 realms,) and the arupa loka (with four realms.) As we know, at the Sotapanna stage, one overcomes rebirths in the four lowest realms (apāyā.) Rebirths in all realms in kāma loka will stop at the Anāgāmi stage. At the Arahanthood, rebirths in all three lokā (i.e., in all 31 realms) will end, and Nibbāna realized.

Most Living Beings Are Trapped in the Four Lowest Realms (Apāyā)

3. Over 99% of the living beings are trapped in the four lowest realms (apāyā) in the kāma loka. It is extremely difficult to get rebirth in a higher realm.

- For example, there are less than eight billion people on Earth. But there are a million times more ants on Earth! There are a trillion types of lifeforms on Earth; see, “The Largest Study of Life Forms Ever Has Estimated That Earth Is Home to 1 TRILLION Species.” ... on-species These are mind-boggling numbers! That is not counting the other three realms in the apāyā that we cannot see.
- While it is hard to get rebirth in the human and Deva realms, it is EVEN HARDER to get rebirths in rupa loka and arupa loka, collectively called Brahma loka. That is because one has to overcome (at least temporarily suppress) kāma rāga (craving for sensory pleasures) to get a birth in a Brahma realm. If one can attain a jhāna, that means one has at least temporarily suppressed (during this lifetime) attachment to sensory pleasures, especially desire for sex.
- That is why it is tough for most people to attain jhāna.

Easy to Describe and Hard to Imagine Life in the Two Brahma Loka

4. Those Brahmā do not need “solid, dense bodies” like ours since they have overcome the desire for physical touch, taste, and smell. Solid, dense bodies are required for those three sensory contacts.

- Rupāvacara Brahmā still have cravings for seeing and listening. But those two functions can be achieved without dense bodies and just with the two corresponding pasāda rupa. A pasāda rupa is a suddhāṭṭhaka that is “energized” by kammic energy. A rupāvacara Brahma also has hadaya vatthu (seat of mind), another “energized” suddhāṭṭhaka.
- Those living-beings in the highest loka, the arupāvacara Brahma loka, have only the mind. They have given up the desire to see and hear as well. Thus, they just have hadaya vatthu, just a single suddhāṭṭhaka!
- It is not easy for an average human to even imagine such lifeforms. Only a Buddha can discover such details about the “wider world of 31 realms.”
- Anyway, the point is that it is much easier to explain the lifeforms in the highest 20 realms. Furthermore, they mainly experience jhānic pleasures. Therefore, even sensory experience is easy to explain. That was briefly discussed in the previous post, “Kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda – Introduction.”

Eleven Realms in Kāma Loka Are Very Complex – Simplest Are the Deva Realms

5. Compared to the higher-lying 20 Brahma realms, life in the 11 realms in kāma loka is very complex.

- The 6 Deva realms in the kāma loka are the simplest. They have opapātika births (instantaneous births) without a “growth stage” like ours. Even though they have all five physical senses, their “physical bodies” are much less dense, almost like the gandhabbā.
- As we have discussed, a gandhabba is born with a mental body that is similar to a Brahma. That means just with a hadaya vatthu and a set of pasāda rupa. Then that gandhabba can absorb aroma (scents) and become a bit denser, but still cannot be seen by average humans. See, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept.” A Deva is similar to a gandhabba that has a “bit more dense body” than just the mental body.
- Devā enjoy sensory pleasures and do not experience significant bodily ailments or diseases. Thus, the main difference between them and Brahmā is while Brahmā enjoy jhānic pleasures, Devā enjoy sensual pleasures or kāma assāda.

Complexity Starts at the Human Realm

6. As we know, suffering is the highest in the lowest four realms including the animal realm.

- Therefore, the human realm is unique. Some humans enjoy life, almost like some Devā, without even any health problems. Then are others who suffer almost like some animals due to either financial or health issues. Furthermore, a human could cultivate jhāna and enjoy jhānic pleasures like Brahmā.
- Brahmā and Devā are content with their sensual or jhānic pleasures. It is mostly those who had attained magga phala as humans who are interested in following the Path. On the other hand, those in the apāyā do not have the mental capacity even to comprehend Dhamma.
- That is why the human realm is the best-suited to follow the Noble Path. Humans can comprehend Dhamma. Furthermore, other than a relatively few, they do experience enough suffering to be motivated to think about the problem of suffering.
- In this and a few upcoming posts, we will focus more on the reasons for living-beings to be born in all these different realms. That will help us understand the critical principles of Paṭicca Samuppāda.

Overview of the Three Lokā

7. We know that causes are not ENOUGH to bring rebirths in respective realms, as discussed in the previous post, “Kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda – Introduction.” But causes are NECESSARY to bring rebirth in a given realm. Without a cause, there cannot be a rebirth in a given realm.

- A discussed in that post, one MUST cultivate a jhāna to get rebirth in a Brahma realm. A rupāvacara jhāna leads to rebirth in one of 16 realms in the rupāvacara Brahma realms (in rupa loka). An arupāvacara jhāna will lead to rebirth in an arupāvacara Brahma realm (in arupa loka).
- Of the three types of loka, kāma loka is the “default loka” for living beings. Living beings have cravings for sensory pleasures (kāma assāda.) and that is kāma rāga. One who has very strong kāma rāga, and is willing to do immoral deeds to enjoy them, has lobha.
- Those with lobha also have a higher version of patigha, and that is dosa. One acting with lobha/dosa can do immoral deeds (pāpa kamma) and make kamma bija suitable to bring rebirths in the apāyā (four lowest realms in kāma loka.)
- To summarize, lobha/dosa are strong versions of kāma rāga/patigha; see, “Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Patigha, Avijjā.”
- Those with kāma rāga/patigha are capable of engaging in moral actions (puñña kamma.) Such puñña kamma are the causes to bring “good rebirths” in the human realm or the six Deva realms.
- The bottom line is that living-beings in kāma loka have strong cravings for sensual pleasures (kāma rāga.) Until those cravings are removed, it is not possible to overcome rebirths in kāma loka.
- As we know, even a Sotapanna has kāma rāga. It is only at the Anāgāmi stage that kāma rāga are removed.

Craving for Sensory Pleasures Is the Root of Most Suffering

8. From the above discussion, it should be clear that suffering in the rebirth process can be attributed to the innate tendency of living-beings to crave sensual pleasures (i.e, to have kāma rāga.)

- When they do immoral deeds (pāpa kamma) in their pursuit of sensual pleasures, they build-up kammic energies (kamma bija) to bring about rebirths in the apāyā.
- Even those who just enjoy sensual pleasures (without doing immoral deeds like killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, etc) they cannot “escape” the realms in the kāma loka. This is clear in the “taṇhā paccayā upādāna” and “upādāna paccayā bhava” steps in Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- In order to overcome or transcend the kāma loka, one MUST lose the cravings for sensual pleasures or kāma assāda. I will try to use the term “kāma assāda” in the future since it relates directly to kāma loka. Here “assāda” means “pleasures” and thus kāma assāda are sensual pleasures (taste, smell, and touches including sex.)

Dangers in Kāma Assāda

9. What we discussed above is an essential teaching of the Buddha that is hidden these days. The Buddha described “kāma assāda” or just “kāma” to be very dangerous.

- Bhaya Sutta (AN 6.23) “‘ Bhayan’ti, bhikkhave, kāmānametaṃ adhivacanaṃ; ‘dukkhan’ti, bhikkhave, kāmānametaṃ adhivacanaṃ; ‘rogo’ti, bhikkhave, kāmānametaṃ adhivacanaṃ;..” OR “‘Danger’, ‘suffering’, ‘disease’,..are terms for sensual pleasures.”
- Bhaya Sutta (AN 8.56), “‘ danger’ is a term for sensual pleasures. ‘Suffering’, ‘disease’, ‘infected wound’, ‘pierced by spear’, etc. are terms for sensual pleasures. And why is ‘danger’ a term for sensual pleasures? Someone who is caught up in sensual greed and shackled by lustful desire is not freed from dangers in the present life or in lives to come. That is why ‘danger’ is a term for sensual pleasures..”
- See the English translations there for more details. Some of the words for kāma are not translated correctly, but one can get the idea.
- There are many suttā that emphasize the hidden dangers in kāma assāda or kāma rāga. For example, Mahādukkhakkhandha Sutta (MN 13), Cūḷadukkhakkhandha Sutta (MN 14), Cūḷadhammasamādāna Sutta (MN 45), and many others discuss the ādinava or “bad and dangerous consequences of indulging in sensual pleasures, i.e., dangers of kāma assāda.
- I have given the links to the Pāli versions of those suttā at Sutta Central. One can access translations to several languages, including English, by clicking on the “down arrow” above the name of the sutta.

10. We will make the connection of various types of rebirths to saṅkhāra and Paṭicca Samuppāda in the next post.

- All posts in this series with, “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin" on Jun 29, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Gati (Habits/Character) Determine Births – Saṃsappanīya Sutta

Gati (Habits/Character) is a key concept

1. Gati (Habits/Character) is a key concept that has been hidden for hundreds of years, just like the true meanings of anicca and anatta. I just did a search for the keyword “gati” on Tipiṭaka at the Sutta Central and came up with “515 results for gati.”: At the end of the post, I will discuss one sutta as an example, which describes how one with “crooked gati” is a candidate to be “reborn crooked.”

- Any given person thinks, speaks, and acts based on his/her views. If started with wrong views, one tends to go in the wrong direction. That is why Sammā Diṭṭhi or “correct views” comes first in the Noble Eightfold Path.
- Avijjā and micchā diṭṭhi go together. See, for example, “Avijjā Sutta (SN 45.1).”
- Any person will have a certain set of gati at a given time, based on avijjā and micchā diṭṭhi at that time. As one makes progress on the path, avijjā and micchā diṭṭhi will be reduced and one’s bad gati will be reduced too.
- Gati is a common Sinhala word with the same meaning as in Pāli, so it would be easier for a Sinhala-speaking person to understand this post (ගති. “බලු ගති” තිබෙනවානම් බලු උපතක් ලබන්න පුළුවනි.)
- An introduction to gati at, “The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Āsava)” on Oct 25, 2018 (p.43). Further information at, "How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View", on  Nov 28, 2018 (p. 50).
- It is also important to know the difference between standard English and “Tipiṭaka English.” See, the previous posts, “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1” and “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 2.”: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155, Feb 08, 2020

Five Main Types of Gati

2. The Buddha explained that there are five main types of gati. The Gati Sutta (AN 9.68): “Pañcimā, bhikkhave, gatiyo. Katamā pañca? Nirayo, tiracchānayoni, pettivisayo, manussā, devā—imā kho, bhikkhave, pañca gatiyo. Imāsaṃ kho, bhikkhave, pañcannaṃ gatīnaṃ pahānāya … pe … ime cattāro satipaṭṭhānā bhāvetabbā”ti.
Translated: “Bhikkhus, there are five character qualities (gati). What five? (Those belonging to) hell, the animal realm, the ghost realm, humans (manussā), and Devā. To eliminate those five types of gati, you should cultivate Satipaṭṭhānā.”

- In the Saṅgīti Sutta (DN 33): “Pañca gatiyo—nirayo, tiracchānayoni, pettivisayo, manussā, devā.”
- By the way, Saṅgīti Sutta provides definitions of many key Pāli words.
- It is to be noted that all six Deva and 26 Brahma realms are included in the Deva category in many suttā, including the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. See #7 of, “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – Introduction.” at ... roduction/

3. In many English translations, the Pāli word “gati” is mistranslated as “destination.” But the correct translation is “habits/character” as explained in detail in the links in #1 and also at #8 below. We can also see that in other suttā, for example, in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta (DN 16.)

- In the Anāvattidhammasambodhiparāyaṇa section: of Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, Venerable Ānanda asks the Buddha about several people who had recently died: “sāḷho nāma, bhante, bhikkhu nātike kālaṅkato, tassa kā gati, ko abhisamparāyo?” OR “the monk named Sāḷha has passed away in Nādika. What is his gati (that led to the new birth) and where has he been reborn?”
- However, it is true that one with “bad gati” (or dugati), for example, will have a “bad destination” (or duggati.) Similarly, one with “good gati” (or sugati) will have a “good destination” (or sugati.) Note the subtle difference in dugati and duggati, whereas the same word “sugati” is used for both “gati” and “destination.”
- Now, let us look at the connections between gati, saṅkhāra, and rebirths in various realms.

Connection to Paṭicca Samuppāda

4. As we know, Paṭicca Samuppāda dictates future existences (bhava) and births (jāti.) One generates (abhi)saṅkhāra due to avijjā and engages in three types of abhisaṅkhāra. See, for example, Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra Nov 03, 2018 (p.43) and
Sankhāra – What It Really Means Thu Nov 01, 2018 (p. 43). It is essential to understand those posts.

- As explained there, those three types of abhisaṅkhāra are, puññābhisaṅkhāra (puñña abhisaṅkhāra), apuññābhisaṅkhāra (apuñña abhisaṅkhāra), and āneñjābhisaṅkhāra (āneñja abhisaṅkhāra.)
- Those lead to various types of rebirths, per Paṭicca Samuppāda.

5. We can understand the connection between those three types of abhisaṅkhāra and the five types of gati, in simple terms, as follows.

- Apuñña abhisaṅkhāra (in the mind) lead to the ten types of akusala kamma and thus lead to rebirths in the apāyā. In other words, such kamma committed by those with niraya, tiracchāna, and peta gati.
- On the other hand, one with manussa or deva gati does punna kamma with puñña abhisaṅkhāra. They lead to rebirths in the human, Deva, and the 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms. It is to be noted that cultivation of the four lower jhana falls under puñña abhisaṅkhāra.
- Āneñja abhisaṅkhāra are cultivated while practicing the highest four jhānā leading to rebirths in the four arupāvacara Brahma realms. It is interesting to note that “ānenja” means “un-dying” and thus “permanent.” Ancient yogis (including Alara Kalama and Uddakarama Putta) thought these realms have infinite lifetimes and equated rebirths there to the cessation of the rebirth process. Of course, the Buddha found out that those also have finite lifetimes, even though extremely long, lasting eons (billions of years).
- Also see, Kamma Done with Sankhāra - Various Types of Sankhāra; May 3, 2019 (p.72).viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=512253#p512253

Good Realms Are Sugati and Bad Realms Are Duggati

6. There are several suttā that discuss various types of behaviors that lead to good and bad rebirths. Those with “good gati” tend to reborn in “realms with good gati” or “sugati” (“sukha” + “gati.”) On the other hand, those with “bad gati” tend to reborn in “realms with bad gati” or “duggati” (“dukkha” + “gati.”)

- For example, see, “Dukkha Sutta (AN5.3),” “Dukkha Sutta (AN6.75),”

7. The last verse of the “Vīṇopama Sutta (35.246)” is informative: “Evameva kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu rūpaṃ samanvesati yāvatā rūpassa gati, vedanaṃ samanvesati yāvatā vedanāya gati, saññaṃ samanvesati yāvatā saññāya gati, saṅkhāre samanvesati yāvatā saṅkhārānaṃ gati, viññāṇaṃ samanvesati yāvatā viññāṇassa gati. Tassa rūpaṃ samanvesato yāvatā rūpassa gati, vedanaṃ samanvesato … pe … saññaṃ … saṅkhāre … viññāṇaṃ samanvesato yāvatā viññāṇassa gati. Yampissa taṃ hoti ahanti vā mamanti vā asmīti vā tampi tassa na hotī”ti.”

Translated: “So too, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu investigates a rupa to see the connection to gati in that rupa, he investigates feelings to see the connection to gati in those feelings, he investigates a perception to see the connection to gati in that perception, he investigates saṅkhāra to see the connection to gati in that saṅkhāra, he investigates viññāṇa to see the connection to gati in that viññāṇa. Through those investigations, whatever notions of ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘I am’ had occurred to him before no longer occur to him.”

- The Buddha described a living being as a “collection” of the five aggregates: rupa, vedana, sanna, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. A living-being, in any of the 31 realms, arises due to a certain paṭisandhi viññāṇa cultivated with a certain gati.
- What this deep sutta is saying that when one understands the Paṭicca Samuppāda process, one would be able to “see” how various types of gati lead to corresponding rebirths.
- Now we will discuss the Saṃsappanīya Sutta which explains how a human can be reborn a “creeping creature” like a snake.

Saṃsappanīya Sutta (AN 10.216)

8. In this sutta, the Buddha has explained that one who engages in dasa akusala has “bad gati” or “dugati” or “crooked/bad character.” Such people are eligible for rebirth in “bad realms” or “duggati.”

- Similarly, one who abstains from dasa akusala has “good gati” or “sugati” or “straight/good character.” Such people are eligible for rebirth in “good realms” or “sugati.“
I am going to skip some standard verses and translate (explain) the critical verses to provide the essence.
- “Bhikkhus, I will explain to you how creeping, crooked creatures like snakes are born in this world.”

“Crooked Kamma” Done With “Crooked Gati” Lead to “Crooked Births”

9. “And what, bhikkhus, is that explanation of the Dhamma on creeping creatures? Bhikkhus, living-beings are the owners of their kamma, the heirs of their kamma. They have kamma as their origin, kamma as their bondage, bound to their kamma. Whatever kamma they do, good or bad, they will inherit the corresponding vipāka.

- In the following, the numbers refer to each of the dasa akusala.
(1) “Consider someone who destroys life. He is murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. He is crooked in bodily actions, speech, and thoughts. His bodily kamma, verbal kamma, mental kamma are all crooked. His gati is crooked and his rebirth is crooked ( jimhā gati, jimhupapatti, where “jimhā” is “crooked” and “jimhupapatti” is “jimhā” + “upapatti“).
- For one with a crooked gati and rebirth, I say, there is one of two destinations: either the exclusively painful hells or a species of creeping animal. And what are the species of creeping animals? The snake, the scorpion, the centipede, the mongoose, the cat, the mouse, and the owl, or any other animals that creep away when they see people.
- Thus a being is reborn from a being, meaning one is reborn through one’s deeds. When one has been reborn, one makes more (defiled) sensory contacts (to be born again.) It is in this way, I say, that beings are the heirs of their own kamma.

(2) “Similarly, someone takes what is not given … (3) … engages in sexual misconduct … (4) … speaks falsehood … (5) … speaks divisively … (6) … speaks harshly … (7) … indulges in idle chatter … (8) … is full of greed … (9) … has a mind of ill will and intentions of hate … (10) … holds the ten types of micchā ditthi. He creeps along by body, speech, and mind. His bodily kamma is crooked … His gati crooked and his rebirth is crooked….
- Thus a being is reborn from a being, meaning one is reborn through one’s deeds. When one has been reborn, one makes more (defiled) sensory contacts (to be born again.) It is in this way, I say, that beings are the heirs of their own kamma.

“Straight Kamma” Done With “Straight/Honest Gati” Lead to “Good Births”

10. “Bhikkhus, beings are the owners of their kamma, the heirs of their kamma. They have kamma as their origin, kamma as their relative, kamma as their resort. Whatever kamma they do, good or bad, they are its heirs.

(1) “Consider someone who has abandoned the destruction of life. With the weapons laid aside, conscientious and kindly, he dwells compassionate toward all living beings. He does not engage in crooked bodily actions, speech, and thoughts. His bodily kamma, verbal kamma, mental kamma are all straight. His gati are straight and his rebirth is straight (good.)
- For one with a straight gati and rebirth, I say, there is straight gati (uju gati; where “uju” means “straight”) and births (ujupapatti). They have rebirths in either pleasurable heavens or eminent families, such as those of affluent householders, families that are rich, with great wealth and property, abundant gold and silver, abundant treasures and belongings, abundant wealth and grain.
- Thus a being is reborn from a being, meaning one is reborn through one’s deeds. When one has been reborn, one makes more (defiled) sensory contacts (to be born again.) It is in this way, I say, that beings are the heirs of their own kamma.

(2) “Having abandoned the taking of what is not given, someone abstains from taking what is not given … (3) … abstains from sexual misconduct … (4) … abstains from false speech … (5) … abstains from divisive speech … (6) … abstains from harsh speech … (7) … abstains from idle chatter … (8) … is without longing … (9) … is of goodwill … (10) … holds correct views. He does not creep along by body, speech, and mind. His bodily kamma is straight … His gati are straight and his rebirth is straight….
- Thus a being is reborn from a being, meaning one is reborn through one’s deeds. When one has been reborn, one makes more (defiled) sensory contacts (to be born again.) It is in this way, I say, that beings are the heirs of their own kamma.
Bhikkhus, beings are the owners of their kamma, the heirs of their kamma. They have kamma as their origin, kamma as their relative, kamma as their resort; whatever kamma they do, good or bad, they are its heirs.

11. Again, it is necessary to understand the posts referred to above.
- All posts in this series with, “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin" on Jun 29, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I have revised the post, starting at #4 about 8 hours later.

I am starting a new series on the “Five Aggregates.” This will be another way to learn Buddha Dhamma from a different point-of-view. It is probably simpler than the series on the "Origin of Life" that started with the post “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin" on Jun 29, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755

Five Aggregates – Introduction


1. Five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) represent ANY given living-being. In a series of posts, I will try to explain this concept by addressing the following points.

- Most people today, including many scientists, believe that a “person” exists as long as the physical body exists. We are born (due to no apparent reason), then we live our lives, and when we die, that is the end of the story. Enjoy life while it lasts! That is the “materialist view.”
- Then there are people belonging to various religions who believe that at the end of this life, we will either go to hell or merge with the Creator (in heaven) for an eternity. For them, there is something in us in addition to the physical body. That is the “soul” that either goes to hell or heaven. We can call this the “soul theory” for simplicity. In Hinduism, it is a little bit different, but primarily the same result. They believe that the “mental body” or the “ātman” goes through many “re-incarnations,” but the ultimate destiny is to merge with “Mahā Brahma” and to exist there forever.
- Those are straightforward concepts to grasp. But they do not have a solid “scientific” or logical foundation. Neither “theory” explains how each of us came to existence. The Buddha’s explanation is very different and based on the Principle of Causality, and that is Paṭicca Samuppāda. However, it takes a real effort to understand fully.
- This is going to be another way that I will try to explain Buddha Dhamma. It could be simpler than my previous approaches. Of course, they are all self-consistent. The most recent series of posts based on a bit deeper analysis is at the series on “Origin of Life” that I referred to above.

Mind and Matter – Where Is the Connection?

2. How consciousness arises is THE critical issue that no one else but a Buddha can provide a logical and self-consistent answer. Materialists are focusing on the brain as the origin of thoughts or consciousness. However, that is a futile effort since inert matter (atoms and molecules) can NEVER give rise to “mental phenomena” like pain, joy, jealousy, greed. That should be self-evident!

- The proponents of an “unchanging soul” BELIEVE (without any evidence or a proof-of-principle) that consciousness (and thoughts) arise in a “mental body” and that mental body (soul or ātman) detaches from the physical body at death and goes to hell or heaven.
- The Buddha said that there is a “mental body” (gandhabba) that detaches from the physical body, but that mental body is not an unchanging entity like a “soul” or an “ātman.” Furthermore, that mental body can take many different forms based on the existence in one of the 31 realms of existence. For example, the mental-body of a human is very different from that of an animal, a Deva, or a Brahma. There is no unchanging “soul” or an “ātman.” That should be very clear since, at Parinibbāna of an Arahant, no trace of that Arahant left in “this world of 31 realms.” There was NOTHING of the essence, to begin with!

The Irrelevant Issue of a “No-Self” in Buddha Dhamma

3. So, it should be quite clear that the idea of a permanent “self” is absent in Buddha’s teachings. However, the Buddha taught that it is also not correct to say a “self’ does not exist for an average human. In other words, a “self” exists until one fully comprehends that the root cause of saṃsāric suffering is the perception (saññā) of a “self” or “me.” See, “An Apparent “Self” Is Involved in Kamma Generation.” on Nov 03, 2019 (p.76): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1125

- An average human has both the wrong diṭṭhi of a “me” and also the saññā (perception) of a “me.” It is better to use the word “me” than “self” because that is precisely how the Buddha explained it.
- The wrong diṭṭhi of a “me” goes away at the Sotapanna stage. The false perception of a “me” (or the sense of “me”) goes away only at the Arahant stage. More information on diṭṭhi can be found at, Wrong Views (Miccā Ditthi) – A Simpler Analysis Wed Oct 24, 2018 (p.43) and in following discussions there. Posts on saññā at, “Saññā – What It Really Means,” 0n September 14, 2018 (p. 31).
- At the end of the “Origin of Life” series, it was shown that any person creates his/her own future lives! See, "Origin of Life – One Creates One’s Own Future Lives" on Jan 26, 2020: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1155
- In the present series of posts, I will try to show the same with this simpler analysis.

A Living-Being – Body and Mind

4. Each living-being (whether we see them or not) has a body and a mind. Some of the “bodies” in other realms are so subtle that we cannot see them. Nevertheless, a living-being has at least a “trace of matter.”

- Furthermore, our mind is not working at all times. While we are in a deep sleep, we are “totally out of this world.” It is as if we did not exist during that time. That is especially true if one becomes unconscious. That is a critical point to understand.
- We need to realize that we do not have either an “unchanging body” or “an unchanging mind.” Even during a lifetime, both those change moment-to-moment. The physical body (part of rupa) is different from rūpakkhandha.

Rupa Versus Rupakkhandha

5. The Buddha included all types of matter that one has encountered at any time in one huge “collection” or “aggregate.” That is the “rupa aggregate” or “rupa khandha” or “rupakkhandha.”

- That means what is in the rūpakkhandha are not real (physical) rupa. Whatever observed becomes just a mental imprint or a memory, moments after observed. I will discuss this in detail in the next post.
- The Buddha divided the mind or “mental aspects” into four categories: vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. These entities arise and fade away, but a record of them exists (going back to an untraceable beginning.) Those “collections” or ‘aggregates” are vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññāṇakkhandha.

The Five Aggregates Describe any "Living-Being"

6. As we will see, a living-being together with his/her all experiences can be described entirely in terms of those five aggregates. The Buddha showed that those five entities arise and fade away in a manner fully explained in terms of causes and their effect. There is no hidden “soul” or an “ātman.”
- However, at any given time, there is a “person” with a set of gati (habits/character) responsible for the actions done at that time. It is not an automated process. That is why we cannot say that there is no ‘self’ up to the Arahant stage. There is a “self” doing things on his/her own. Of course, only until seeing the futility of such “doings” or “(abhi)saṅkhāra.”
- That last bullet point is what we need to understand. We will discuss that systematically, this time with a little bit different approach.

One Type of Consciousness (Vipāka Viññāṇa) Arises With an Ārammana

7. We tend to think of the mind as our own. But in reality, our consciousness arises based on two conditions.

- First, we must be awake, and a sensory event must trigger one of the six senses. If someone is unconscious, no matter how loud we talk, he will not hear. No matter how hard we shake him, he will not feel, etc.
- Second, one of our six senses must be stimulated by an external sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, or a memory. The first five come through our five physical senses, and the sixth are the thoughts that come to our mind directly.
- An “external trigger” that initiates a new consciousness is called an ārammana. Such an ārammana comes to the mind via one of the five physical sensory-inputs or directly to the mind. Then one of the six consciousness (viññāṇa) arise. These are vipāka viññāṇa. They just come in due to prior kamma, as kamma vipāka.
- These types of vipāka viññāṇa arise via, for example, “Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjāti cakkhu viññāṇaṃ.” See, “Contact Between Āyatana Leads to Vipāka Viññāna” on Sep 02, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1095

Second Type of Consciousness (Kamma Viññāṇa) May Arise Based on an Ārammana

8. If that external “thought object” or “ārammana” is of interest, then we start generating CONSCIOUS THOUGHTS about that ārammana.

- At this point, our consciousness switches to a new type called a kamma viññāṇa. That is because this new consciousness is more than just “consciousness” or “awareness.” Now we are interested in pursuing what we have seen, heard, etc. and to “accomplish something more.”
- For example, a friend may offer a piece of cake, and the taste of that cake is a vipāka viññāṇa. But if we generate a craving for that cake, we may want to taste it again in the future. We may start thinking about how to either buy it or make it, and ask the friend about those two possibilities. That future expectation is in the new type of kamma viññāṇa generated via “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.”
- In other words, now we have gone beyond “just experiencing the taste of the cake” or the “vipāka viññāṇa.” Now we have a future expectation to taste it again with a “kamma viññāṇa” generated via our conscious thoughts (vaci saṅkhāra.)
- Stated in another way, we have initiated a Paṭicca Samuppāda process with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” and “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa.” That viññāṇa is a kamma viññāṇa.

A Living-Being – Body With a Mind Interacting With the External World

9. What we discussed above in summary form is what our lives are all about. We have a physical body with a mind. The physical body gets sensory inputs from the external world. Then we think about them and pursue some sensory inputs that we like and try to avoid those we do not like.

- In that process, we create new kamma that leads to the arising of a new body when the current body dies.
- Of course, the types of bodies that arise in future lives depend on the types of kamma that we do, based on those sensory experiences. If one kills another person to acquire that person’s wealth, then one will be reborn in a bad realm (apāyā.) If one generates compassionate thoughts about hungry people and offer them food, one may be reborn in a good realm.
- That is how the rebirth process continues.


10. We have laid the framework to look at the conscious life and the rebirth process from a viewpoint based on the five aggregates or pañcakkhandha.

- In this analysis, the whole world is divided into just five categories. One is the rupa aggregate, the “collection of MEMORIES of all rupa” or the rūpakkhandha. That includes memories of all “material objects,” including our physical bodies and all external objects that one has seen in all previous lives. We will discuss that in the next post.
- The other four aggregates or “heaps” or “collections” of four types of mental entities: vedanā (feelings), saññā (perception), saṅkhāra (thoughts), and viññāṇa (vipāka viññāṇa or kamma viññāṇa.)
- We will discuss each category in detail in future posts.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Difference Between Rūpa and Rūpakkhandha


1. Difference Between rūpa and rūpakkhandha is necessary to understand. Translation of rūpakkhandha as “form aggregate,” gives the wrong impression that it is a collection of “solid objects.”

- Instead of memorizing Pāli words, we need to understand what is meant by such Pāli words and use the Pāli words when there is ambiguity. Many key Pāli words do not have equivalent English words.

What Is a Rupa?

2. Before we understand the difference between a “rūpa” and “rūpakkhandha,” we need to understand what the Buddha meant by a “rūpa.” The Pali word “rūpa” customarily translated as “form.”

- The definition of a rūpa is in many places in the Tpiṭaka, for example, SN 22.56 and SN 22.57. In simple terms, ” A rūpa consists of the four great elements, or is derived from the four great elements.”
- A rūpa made of the four great elements is not necessarily a solid object like a tree (those are vaṇṇa rūpa.) Types of energy are included in the rūpa category. All sensory inputs to the five physical senses are rūpa.

3. Therefore, we can see that light, sound, odors, taste, and touch are all associated with rūpa. It is only within the past 100 years or so that scientists admitted that matter and energy are the same.

- In modern-day terms, rūpa are either “solid matter” (human bodies, trees, houses, etc.) OR “energy” (light, sound, heat, etc.). With Einstein’s formula of E = mc^2, modern science acknowledged that matter and energy are intrinsically the same.
- In terms of Buddha Dhamma, all those rūpa are collections of suddhāṭṭhaka, the “smallest unit of rūpa.” We usually call visible objects “matter.” And invisible energy forms (like heat, sound) “energy.” Both types consist of suddhāṭṭhaka. A suddhāṭṭhaka is the smallest unit of energy/matter in Buddha Dhamma. It is unimaginably tiny, billions of times smaller than an atom, or even an electron, in modern science.
- The 28 types of rūpa are listed in “Rupa (Material Form) – Table.” ... rial-form/ As we can see, especially the ten types of rūpa on the right-hand side of the Table are not what we usually think of as “matter.”

Khandha Means a “Collection” or an “Aggregate”

4. Before we discuss rūpakkhandha, it also helps to understand what is meant by a “khandha.” In Pāli (and Sinhala), it means a “heap” or a “pile.” In Sinhala, a hill or a “pile of things” is called a “kanda” (කන්ද). So, aggregate is not a bad translation for khandha (ඛන්ධ in Sinhala for the Pāli word).

- A heap or an aggregate of rūpa is a rūpa khandha. It rhymes as “rūpakkhandha.” We have seen this in kind of combination of words (sandhi) in Pāli terms like Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which is Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta.
- Another example is dhammassavana. “Dhamma savana” rhymes as dhammassavana. “Dhamma savana” is listening to dhamma (a discourse).”

Rūpakkhandha is all Mental

5. It is essential to realize that rūpakkhandha is all mental. It is NOT a “collection of material things” as the term “form aggregate” may imply. Towards the end of the “Mahāhatthipadopama Sutta (MN 28),” Ven. Sariputta explains rūpakkhandha.

- Just the presence of an object, a sound, odor, taste, or touch is not enough to be included in rūpakkhandha. For example, if X is sitting in a pitch dark room, X will not see anything there, even though there may be many objects in the room. If X shines a flashlight on a chair, then X will be able to see the chair. If the image of the chair registers in the mind of X, then it becomes a part of the rūpakkhandha for X.
- Let us take another example. Two people, X and Y, are in a room reading books, and X is fully absorbed in reading, but Y has not much interest in his book. Y hears a dog barking and that sound registers in his mind, i.e., the “dog bark” becomes a part of his rūpakkhandha. However, even though that sound would have reached X’s ears too, his attention was entirely focused on the book, and he did not hear the “dog bark.” Thus, the “dog bark” is NOT a part of X’s rūpakkhandha.
- Now it should be quite clear that each person has his/her rūpakkhandha.

Rūpakkhandha is Unimaginably Huge!

6. Let us look in a bit more detail to see that these rūpakkhandha are “mental impressions” of rūpa and NOT the rūpa that are out there.

- A critical point is that when we experience a rūpa, that present moment is quickly gone. Most of rūpakkhandha is what one has already experienced. In fact, everything that we have experienced in all our past rebirths are in the rūpakkhandha!
- Those rūpā that one has seen in the past are one’s atita rūpā, including anything that one ever saw (including in previous births). Obviously, these cannot be physical rupā. They are just memories of a rūpa that existed in the past. For example, one may remember a tree in the backyard when one was a child. That tree is no longer there, but one can still “see” that tree in one’s mind. Same for one’s dead parents or grandparents who may be no longer alive.
- Any rūpa about the future or an anāgata rūpa (for example, a sketch of the type of house one is thinking about building) can change with time. That does not even involve a real rūpa.
- Any rūpa that one sees at present (paccuppanna rūpa) goes to the category of atita rūpa in a split second. Even if we never see that object again, that memory will be there.

More Types of Rūpa in Rūpakkhandha

7. Internal (ajjhatta) rūpa are those that are part of oneself: all body parts, including the ones inside the body. External (bahiddha) rūpa are, of course, anything outside of one’s body. Coarse (olārika) rūpa are what we call “solid matter,” and fine (sukuma) rūpa are “energy” (heat, sound, etc.).

- There are rūpa that are not "good" (hīna), and there are others that are "good" (panita).
- Some rūpa are located far (dūre), and some are located near (santike).
- Therefore, we see that there could be some overlaps between these categories.
- Many of these in the rūpakkhandha we have not even seen. For example, we have a mental impression of our hearts, but we have not seen our hearts. We may not have seen some landmarks like the Chinese Great Wall, but only pictures of them. Yet, we do have mental impressions of those.
- Altogether there are 11 types included in rūpakkhandha. The Khandha sutta (SN 22.48) (among many other suttā) summarizes what is included in rūpakkhandha. “Yaṃ kiñci, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ (atita, anāgata, paccuppanna) ajjhattaṃ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṃ vā sukhumaṃ vā hīnaṃ vā paṇītaṃ vā yaṃ dūre santike vā, ayaṃ vuccati rūpakkhandho.

Difference Between Rūpa and Rūpakkhandha

8. Now we can see the main difference between rūpa and rūpakkhandha.

- A rūpa is either of the following two kinds. A solid object that one sees with one ‘s eyes or touches with one’s body (a person, a person’s body or a body part, a tree, a planet, star, etc.) Those are what we usually call “solid objects.” Then there are other sensory inputs coming through the other three sense doors (smells, tastes, or sounds).
- Rūpakkhandha are MENTAL IMPRESSIONS of all external rūpā that one has EXPERIENCED. They are NOT tangible or have any energy in them. One’s rūpakkhandha is INFINITE. It has records of ALL one has seen in ALL past lives going back and back in time without “an actual beginning.”
- That is why those with iddhi (supernormal) powers can recall events that took place billions of years ago. The Buddha, of course, recalled how he received first “niyata vivarana” or confirmation that he will become a Buddha trillions of years ago, from Buddha Deepankara. We will discuss that in upcoming posts.

9. Let us take another example to visualize this difference between actual rūpa and rūpakkhandha.

- The twin towers in New York destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attack.
- If one had seen those twin towers in New York, one could still recall them in one’s mind. Those physical structures are not there anymore, but they are in one’s rūpakkhandha!
- But the actual rūpa that were there in New York are no longer there.

Rūpakkhandha Is Personal

10. Since we have seen very different things in our lives (and in past lives), our rūpakkhandha are very different. Each has his/her rūpakkhandha.

- We can also see that each has his/her vēdanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññānakkhandha.
- All of them can be analyzed in the same way.
- We will discuss the other four “khandhā” or “aggregates” in the next post.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Rūpakkhandha (Form Aggregate) and Rūpa Upādānakkhandha (Clinging Form Aggregate)

Introduction – What Is Rūpupādānakkhandha?

1. In the previous post, “Difference Between Rūpa and Rūpakkhandha,” we discussed the difference between rūpa and rūpakkhandha.

- In simple terms, rūpa are the “visuals, sounds, odors, tastes, and touches due to solid bodies.” Note that rūpa is a generic term. It indicates any such rūpa existing anywhere and does not pertain to any given person.
- On the other hand, rūpakkhandha has one’s “mental impressions” of ALL such rūpa that we have experienced (including in previous lives), experiencing now, and hope to experience in the future. Thus, rūpakkhandha is specific to a given person. Each person has his/her rūpakkhandha.
- The word rūpa upādānakkhandha or rūpupādānakkhandha comes from a combination of three words: rūpa, upādāna, and khandha. Therefore, rūpa upādānakkhandha is part of rūpakkhandha that we crave (i.e., would like to experience again.)

Meanings of Upādāna and Tanhā

2. Tanhā means “attaching to things in this world” with greed, hate, and ignorance. Most times, taṇhā is incorrectly translated as “craving.”

- The word taṇhā comes from “thán” + “,” where “thán” rhymes like in “thatch” and means “a place and “” means getting attached or fused. That can happen not only with greed but also with anger and ignorance. see, “Tanhā – How we Attach via Greed, Hate, and Ignorance.” ... ignorance/ Note that “tan” in taṇhā pronounced like in “thunder.” There are three types of taṇhā. Vibhava taṇhā is removed at the Sōtapanna stage and kāma taṇhā removed at the Anāgami stage. Bhava taṇhā is eliminated only at the Arahant stage. See, “Kāma Tanhā, Bhava Tanhā, Vibhava Tanhā.”
- Upādāna (“upa” + “ādāna” where “upa” means “close” and “ādāna” means “pull”) means “pull and keep close.” One tries to pull and keep close only things that one desires. See, “Difference Between Tanhā and Upādāna.” ... d-upadana/This post will take some time to digest. But it will help one clearly understand both those terms and the difference between them.
- There are four types of upādāna. Those are diṭṭhupādāna (wrong views,) silabbatupādāna (rituals,) kāmupādāna (for sensual pleasures,) and attavādupādāna (sense of “me” or “mine.”) The first two removed at the Sotapanna stage, third at the Anāgāmi, and the fourth at the Arahant stage of Nibbāna. Note the combination of words. For example, diṭṭhupādāna is a combination of diṭṭhi and upādāna.

Upādāna – To “Keep Close”

3. Therefore, upādāna means things or memories that we tend to “keep close” (in mind.) Our way of thinking, speaking, and doing things is dictated by different types of upādāna.

- Therefore, rūpupādānakkhandha means those mental impressions of “visuals, sounds, odors, tastes, and touches due to solid bodies” that we like and would like to experience again. In other words, those are the experiences we desire or crave for. That is a small fraction of one’s rūpakkhandha. A given person has no interest in most of the rūpakkhandha.
- The Pali word that describes “desire” is icca. Sometimes the word “iccha” with the emphasis on the last “ca‘” sound is used to mean a “strong desire.” As we will see in a few posts, this connection will help us clarify the First Noble Truth on suffering in another way.
- As an aside, you may want to refresh the memory on the fact that Pali words are written/pronounced differently compared to “standard English.” See, “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1 and Part 2” on Feb 08, 2020 (p. 78)

Upādāna Is Different from Taṇhā

4. When an arammana (thought object) comes to our mind, we may FIRST instinctively “attach” to it. Then it is at the upādāna stage that we keep on thinking, speaking, and doing things with the expectations. Those future expectations are either to enjoy something or to avoid things that one does not like. It is at that second stage that we accumulate new kamma, as explained in “Difference Between Tanhā and Upādāna.” That leads to “bhava” formation, which in turn, will lead to future rebirth (jāti.)

- What I mentioned above are four steps in Paṭicca Samuppāda: “vedana paccayā taṇhā,” “taṇhā paccayā upādāna,” “upādāna paccayā bhava,” and “bhava paccayā jāti.” See details at “Paṭicca Samuppāda”
- It is critical to realize that those things that we do to acquire new kamma are done with saṅkhāra. Furthermore, we do saṅkhāra both at “avijja paccayā saṅkhāra” AND “taṇhā paccayā upādāna.” That is discussed in detail with the help of a graphic in the post, “Difference Between Tanhā and Upādāna.”
- Most Paṭicca Samuppāda cycles start NOT with “avijja paccayā saṅkhāra,” but with “taṇhā paccayā upādāna,” as explained in that post.

What We Normally Call “Form” Is Also in Rūpakkhandha

5. We normally assign the word “form” or “rūpa” to things we see, including our bodies as well as all external objects and living beings. As I explained above, sounds, odors, tastes, and body touches also arise due to “rūpa.” As we discussed in #7 of the previous post, “Difference Between Rūpa and Rūpakkhandha,” the 11 types of rūpa included in the rūpakkhandha include paccuppanna rūpa or any rūpa that is being experienced at any given moment.

- One important rūpa that one experiences most of the day is one’s own body (ajjhatta rūpa.)
- Therefore, one’s physical body (more correctly mental impression of it) is part of rūpakkhandha.
- Even though we perceive that these are existing “things,” they have momentary existence in a deeper sense. I will give a quick example. A fly lives only a few days (let us say six days.) That fly would age and die in six days. If we see that fly in three days, it would have aged, and its body would be different from that we saw six days ago. When we keep reducing the “time interval,” we realize that even a moment later, it is not the same fly.
- The same argument holds for our bodies too. It changes over our lifetime, and that is the cumulative effect of momentary changes. That is why the Buddha said that you could not touch the same person twice! (If anyone remembers the sutta, please let me know: [email protected].)
- As we will see in future posts, “dhammā” experienced by the mind is also a form of rūpa in Buddha Dhamma. That last category is “anidassanaṃ, appaṭighaṃ” or “cannot be seen or touched.”

We Do Not Attach to “Physical Objects” but to Our “Mental Impressions” or “Rūpakkhandha

6. A given object, whether it is inert or living, is NOT the CAUSE for attachment (taṇhā and upādāna.) Rather, it is the “way that we perceive that object” based on our gati, that we attach.

- Think about a person that you don’t like. As you know, there are many other people, including his/her spouse, children, friends, etc. who may like that person. The reason that you don’t like that person is based on your gati. By the way, both you and that person may be considered “good citizens” by most other neutral observers.
- Suppose a guest coming to dinner brings a bottle of alcohol (say, whiskey.) The husband may be happy to see it, but the wife (who may be trying to discourage the husband from having too many drinks) could be irritated. Now, if the guest brought a video game for their child, the child would be delighted. But both parents may become somewhat unhappy thinking that the child may spend too much time playing video games.
- These are the things that we need to contemplate while doing insight mediation (Vipassanā.) That is the best way to understand key concepts in Buddha Dhamma, like Paṭicca Samuppāda. We need to apply what we learn in practical situations.
- Therefore, it is not an external rūpa that makes us attach (taṇhā.) It is our gati (which are related to our anusaya) that make us attach to CERTAIN TYPES of rūpa. The following example illustrates how the same rūpa may or may not lead to taṇhā even in a given person.

Rūpakkhandha to Rūpa Upādānakkhandha – Instant Change

7. The following is said to have 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. She had not even seen any pictures of the boy, who was now a teenager.

- When she came home, she learned that the boy was visiting a neighbor, and she started walking there. On the way, a teenager playing with some friends on the road bumped into her. She became irritated and admonished the boy.
- But then another person on the street said, “Don’t you recognize your son? Well. How can you? You have been away all this time”. Hearing that, she asked, “Oh, is that my son?” and immediately ran back to hug him.
- He was “just another teenager” until she came to know that he was her son. But the moment she realized that it was her son, the whole situation changed. His figure was not another “rūpa” in her “rūpakkhandha.” Now, he became a part of her rūpa upādānakkhandha or rūpupādānakkhandha.


8. I hope you can get further clarification on the difference between “rūpa,” “rūpakkhandha,” and “rūpupādānakkhandha” from the above discussion. You may want to review the previous two posts as well: “Five Aggregates – Introduction” and “Difference Between Rūpa and Rūpakkhandha,”

- Just like the concept of anicca, this again is a fundamental concept to understand, so please try to read through slowly at a quiet time and grasp the concepts. As the Buddha said, “at the end, what matters is understanding a concept, not memorizing words.”
- When I first grasped this concept, it was like turning the lights on in a previously dark area that I did not even know existed! That is a good example of what the Buddha meant by “alōkō udapādi. “
- We need to realize that rūpakkhandha does not arise by itself. All five khandha or aggregates rise together.
- Each person has his/her rūpakkhandha or the way he/she perceives the material rūpa in the world. That rūpakkhandha has associated with it the other four khandhā (vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa) and thus comprise the pañcakkhandha. And pañca upādānakkhandha, or what one has cravings for, is a small part of that.
- We will discuss that in the next post.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Arising of Five Aggregates Based on an Ārammaṇa


1. Five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) is a critical concept to understand. In the previous three posts, we discussed how the mind makes a “mental imprint” of a rūpa, whether it is due to sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, or a dhammā. See, “Five Aggregates – Introduction,” “Difference Between Rupa and Rūpakkhandha,” and “Rūpakkhandha and Rūpa Upādānakkhandha.”

- Therefore, it is critical to understand that what is registered in the mind is not a rūpa but the “mental imprint” of it. That single imprint is part of rūpakkhandha. However, the mind sees not just a single “snapshot,” but the whole rūpakkhandha. We will clarify that point in #9 below.
- Furthermore, based on that rūpakkhandha, the mind generates vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Those also involve “aggregates” or “collections,” as we will discuss below.
- We NEVER experience a single imprint of a rūpa or a single citta with vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. The mind ALWAYS deals with all five AGGREGATES. That is a critical issue to understand. Please ask questions if not clear.

The Role of an Ārammaṇa

2. The mind becomes active only after getting an ārammaṇa. An ārammaṇa is an external rūpa (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, dhammā) that comes to one of the six senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.)

- A signal representing that external rūpa is “captured” by the sense door (say the eyes) and sent to the brain. The brain processes it and passes it to the mind. That is discussed a bit more in #5 below. The critical point is that the mind receives a “mental imprint” of that external rūpa. That “mental imprint” or the “signal” or the “image” registers in the MIND.
- The four mental parameters arise with the “image” or the “imprint” of the external rūpa. Therefore, the “mental imprint” is also in the “vipāka viññāṇa.” That is what we “see,” “hear,” etc. (cakkhu viññāṇa, sota viññāṇa, etc.) We will discuss a second type of “kamma viññāṇa” below.
- From the above discussion, it is clear that it is not possible to separate such “mental parameters.” It is not possible to separate awareness (vēdanā) from recognition (saññā,) or both those from the overall cognition (viññāṇa) and many kinds of “plans” or ‘possible actions” (saṅkhāra) that arise in mind.
- The word ārammaṇa is explained in detail in “Chachakka Sutta – No “Self” in Initial Sensory Experience.”

Mental Components of Pañcakkhandha (Five Aggregates)

3. Before we start discussing the four mental “aggregates,” it is a good idea to review the core entities: vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. They arise in a MIND when an external “thought-object” or an ārammaṇa comes to one of the six senses.

- When an external rūpa (sight, sound, etc.) comes to a “sense door” (eyes, ears, etc.), we become aware of it. That is vēdanā. A pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling accompanies vēdanā.
- At the same time, we recognize what it is. Whether it is one’s mother or a tree, a dog bark or voice of the mother, etc., that recognition of the “thought-object” is saññā.
- Based on the recognition of the “thought-object” to the ārammaṇa, we generate our response or reaction to that ārammaṇa. Those responses/reactions are saṅkhāra. The initial “reaction’ is automatic and generates vēdanā and saññā (citta/mano saṅkhāra.) That means we immediately feel and recognize that rūpa. But if we start consciously creating more thoughts, those arise with two more cetasika called vitakka and vicāra. Such thoughts involve vaci saṅkhāra. If we then take bodily actions, those require kāya saṅkhāra. Therefore, we think, speak, and act with the three types of saṅkhāra.
- The overall “state-of-the-mind’ is viññāṇa. It is much more than just “consciousness.” Viññāṇa is complicated but falls into two broad categories. Vipaka viññāṇa is the overall sensory experience due to an ārammaṇa (that viññāṇa may be called consciousness.) If we start generating plans on what we saw, heard, etc., then that becomes a kamma viññāṇa with future expectations. That kamma viññāṇa is much more than “consciousness.”

What We Experience Is the Cumulative Effect of Many Citta

4. Therefore, those four entities arise together within a split-second, in the first citta.

- But the contents of citta keep changing as they arise in rapidly. Cittā (plural) always occur in packets (citta vithi,), and many of those arise in rapid succession.
- By the time we become aware of the ārammaṇa, the initial citta has evolved, and millions of citta may have run through the mind. That is how those parameters get “bundled up” and experienced as “aggregates” or “khandha.”
- Let us briefly go through that process step-by-step.

Creation of a “Mental Imprint” in the Mind

5. The mind must first re-create an image or an imprint of the rūpa that triggers the whole process. Let us first clarify how the mind first re-creates an image or an imprint of the rūpa that triggers the entire process of generating vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.

- When an ārammaṇa comes to one of the five physical sense faculties, the brain prepares an imprint of the corresponding rūpa. For example, when looking at a tree, the eyes capture an image of that tree. That image then goes to the brain, where it is processed. At that point, there is not even an “image” like a photograph. It is just a “signal” created by the brain. Even scientists do not know what kind of “signal” or “information” the brain generates or exactly how we “see” a tree.
- Similar processes happen with the other sensory inputs. A sound comes to the ear as a “pressure wave” in air. The eardrum vibrates accordingly, and that vibration is somehow “converted” to a sound. That “sound” is heard only by the mind!
- Yes. Eyes cannot see, and ears cannot hear, etc. The brain cannot see, hear either. It is the MIND that experiences all six sensory inputs. Sense faculties and the brain work together to convert those external signals to a form that can be “felt” by the mind. Kammic energy controls all that.

The Critical Role of the Hadaya Vatthu

6. If you start thinking about it, you will realize how complicated that process is where an external rupa can lead to “thoughts” with “feelings.” That is the “hard problem of consciousness” that scientists and philosophers are trying to solve. See, “Hard Problem of Consciousness.”: ... sciousness

- The bottom line is that it happens only in a hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind.) Only kammic energy can create a hadaya vatthu and the associated pasāda rupa. Details at “Body Types in 31 Realms – Importance of Manomaya Kaya.”
- When those signals generated by the brain are transmitted to the hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind,), it can interpret those signals as visuals, sounds, etc.
- That is the solution to the “hard problem of consciousness.” Abhidhamma describes the solution in great detail.
- Think about that for a while. When we see a tree, there is no trace of a “picture of a tree” inside the brain! The mind creates that picture, and it goes into rūpakkhandha. That is another way to see the difference between rūpa (a tree in the front yard) and rūpakkhandha (the mental imprint of that tree in mind.)

All Five “Mental Impressions” Arise Together!

7. The registration of that “mental imprint of a rūpa” in mind automatically leads to the arising of four mental parameters (nāma dhamma) in mind. Those are vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.

- Therefore all five parameters (“mental imprint of a rūpa” and vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa) arise together!
- Now let us discuss how the evolution of these into “collections” or “aggregates” or “khandha” within a split-second.

Those Five “Mental Impressions” Quickly Evolve into Five Aggregates

8. The citta arises and evolves in nine stages during its lifetime of less than a billionth of a second. See, “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta).” on September 18, 2018 (p. 31). It is not necessary to know the details. I am trying to provide the “baseline picture.” Those who are interested can look into the details in that post.

- First, only mano saṅkhāra arises. The Buddha defined mano saṅkhāra as “vēdanā and saññā,” so saṅkhāra in this first citta has only vēdanā and saññā and no other cetasika (mental factors.)
- However, if the ārammaṇa is of interest (depending on one’s gati,), the mind starts adding more “cetasika.” Among the first are vitakka and vicāra. That starts the “deliberation process” in mind about various aspects of that ārammaṇa. Now, we are at the vaci saṅkhāra stage, and based on one’s gati (and the specific ārammaṇa) more cetasika (good or bad) may be added in.
- Therefore, by the time we become aware of the ārammaṇa, the mind is at the initial stages of vaci saṅkhāra. We may speak out at this stage if we become interested in the ārammaṇa. By the way, by this time, viññāṇa has changed to a kamma viññāṇa, because, now one is doing “vaci kamma.”
- If we become even more interested in the ārammaṇa, we may start doing things physically with kāya saṅkhāra.
- As an example, think about what happens when someone is mugged while walking on the street. In an instant, he would recognize what is happening, who is attacking and may try to fight back. It is always a good idea to analyze a real-life situation to clarify.

All Five Entities Instantly Become Five Aggregates

9. We started this post to consider what happens when a “mental imprint” registers in the mind due to an ārammaṇa (i.e., external rūpa,) However, not only that “snapshot” but the whole rūpakkhandha contributed to the arising of a citta with vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Let us clarify that now.

- Let us consider the first citta that arises due to the sight of a tree. As we discussed above, the brain generates a “mental imprint” of that tree and sends it to the hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind.) As we discussed in #2 above, the mind recognized what kind of a tree it is (to generate saññā) in the very first citta that received that “mental imprint” of the tree. For that recognition to happen, it must have compared that image with old “memories” of various types of trees and recognized it as an apple tree, for example.
- That means mind was not only dealing with that single “picture” sent by the brain but all of the rūpakkhandha! We remember that rūpakkhandha includes all past rūpa that one has experienced. For an average human, the mind will be able to recollect only those rūpa that one has experienced in this life.
- Thus, if one has not seen an apple tree (at least a picture of beforehand,), then one would NOT be able to recognize it as an apple tree. That is just a simple example.
- While this much detail is not necessary, it is good to realize how complicated this process of generating a citta is. And that happens in a billionth of a second! That is why the Buddha said that the mind is the fastest entity in the world. See, “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta).”

Let us briefly review the four mental entities that arise in mind together with the “mental impression” of an external rūpa. That means the arising of the five aggregates or pañcakkhandha!

Vēdanā – Registration of the Experience as “Good,” ‘Bad,” or “Neutral”

10. Vēdanā comes from (“” + “danā”) which means “වීම දැනවීම” in Sinhala. That means to “become aware of something” when an ārammaṇa (thought object) comes to one of the six sense doors.

- When we sense something, first, we become aware of it. That is vēdanā.
- If the ārammaṇa comes through the physical body, that could be a sukha vēdanā, dukkha vēdanā, or adukkhamasukha vēdanā (meaning pleasant feeling, painful feeling, and neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.) These are the vipāka vēdanā.
- An ārammaṇa coming through any of the other five senses is initially felt as “neutral.” However, the mind MAY generate “samphassa-jā-vēdanā(incorporating "san") following that. See #11 below.

Two Types of Vēdanā

11. Based on vipāka vēdanā, we MAY generate “mind-made vēdanā” or “samphassa-jā-vēdanā.” This is where DEFILEMENTS (or "san") are incorporated. See, "List of “San” Words and Other Pāli Roots" Feb 20, 2019 (p. 67) and "San" is not clear? This may be helpful if one has an open mind" Feb 26, 2019 (p. 71): link to the first one: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=990

- For example, a sukha vēdanā COULD awaken our rāga anusaya. Then we may generate kama sankappa (or sensual thoughts.) These are sōmanassa vēdanā (pleasant feelings) created by the mind.
- On the other hand, a dukkha vēdanā COULD trigger paṭigha anusaya, leading to dōmanassa vēdanā (angry thoughts) generated by the mind. That could happen, for example, if one accidentally cuts his finger while chopping an onion.
- Based on an adukkhamasukha vēdanā (coming through any of the six senses,) one MAY generate either sōmanassa or dōmanassa vēdanā out of ignorance (triggered by avijjā anusaya.) For example, one sees his enemy trip and fall, and a sōmanassa vēdanā may arise. In the above two cases also avijjā anusaya is there.
- Such a “samphassa-jā-vēdanā” arises due to saṅkhāra generated via avijjā, i.e., “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.” They do not occur in an Arahant. In all others, they may arise depending on one’s gati (or types of anusaya left.)
- For details, see, “Vipāka Vēdanā and “Samphassa jā Vēdanā” in a Sensory Event.” on Sep 30, 2019 (p.74): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1095

Saññā -Perception/Recognition

12. Saññā is, at the very fundamental level, the recognition of an external stimulus. But it is more than that. We not only recognize that a given object is, say, a dog. But some people may be able to categorize it to be a bulldog. Thus saññā about a particular object depends on the person and his/her prior experiences.

- The same is true for the other four senses. When we hear a sound, we recognize what it is, say a bird singing. Some may be able to say what type of bird it is; some may not be. Any smell, taste, or touch works the same way. Without saññā, we cannot identify things around us, and also cannot communicate with each other meaningfully.
- One of the 31 realms of existence is the “Asañña realm.” There, beings have no saññā or perception. Thus in principle, those beings are without any awareness. Nothing registers in mind. If anyone has attained the 7th jhāna, the “Neva saññā Na’saññā, “then that person knows what it is like to born in the Asañña realm.
- Saññā is described in more detail in, “Saññā – What It Really Means” on September 14, 2018 (p. 31).

Saṅkhāra – Our Response/Reaction to the External Stimulus

13. Saṅkhāra are our reaction to a given ārammaṇa. Three types of saṅkhāra are defined and discussed in the “Cūḷavedalla Sutta (MN 44).” Let us summarize them now.

- Citta/mano saṅkhāra are saññā and vedanā. Therefore, citta/mano saṅkhāra arise with ALL citta.
- Vitakka and vicāra are vacī saṅkhāra because vitakka and vicāra arise before speaking can occur.
- Breathing is kāya saṅkhāra since ALL bodily activities (whether they have kammic consequences or not) depend on breathing (assāsa passāsā kāyikā ete dhammā kāyappaṭibaddhā).
- However, in both vacī and kāya saṅkhāra what counts for kamma generation is what kind of cetasika (good or bad) arise during those activities. For example, the act of stealing involves “bad” kāya saṅkhāra. Here, the greed cetasika is in kāya saṅkhāra.
Further details at, “Sankhāra – What It Really Means” “Vacī Saṅkhāra – Saṅkappa (Conscious Thoughts) and Vācā (Speech),” and “Kamma, Saṅkhāra, and Abhisaṅkhāra – What Is “Intention”?“

ViññāṇaVipaka Viññāṇa and Kamma Viññāṇa

14. At the beginning of experiencing an ārammaṇa (external rupa,) there is the only vipāka viññāṇa. Since the ārammaṇa may come through any of the six sensory inputs, they can be of six types: cakkhu, sōta, ghāna, jivhā, and kāya viññāna. They arise via, for example, “Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjāti cakkhuviññāṇaṃ” for “eye-consciousness” when seeing a rupa rupa. See, “Contact Between Āyatana Leads to Vipāka Viññāna.”

- But if we then start generating vacī or kāya saṅkhāra, that means we have become interested in that ārammaṇa. Then we will be making NEW kamma with kamma viññāṇa. That takes place in the Paṭicca Samuppāda steps, “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra; saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa.” See, “Paṭicca Samuppāda.” :
- Therefore, both those type are in the viññāṇakkhandha.

Importance of Comprehending Key Pāli Words

15. Even though this post is a bit long, I hope it includes a lot of critical information that will help clarify the concept of the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha.)

- The above descriptions on vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa are just summaries.
- But I hope one can see that it is idiotic/dangerous to use English translations for saṅkhāra and viññāṇa as “mental formations” and “consciousness.” One will never be able to understand Buddha Dhamma with such interpretations.
- If one does not understand saṅkhāra (especially vacī and kāya saṅkhāra,), one would NOT be sandiṭṭhika. (or be able to “see” how one accumulates defilements or “san.”) See, “Paṭhamasandiṭṭhika Sutta (AN 6.47)” The English translations are not too bad, and one can get a good idea. However, the meaning of “sandiṭṭhika” is in the words itself: “san” + “diṭṭhi” or the “ability to see “san.”
- There is a subsection on “San” which I highly recommend.
- Furthermore, the terms “form aggregate” and “five aggregates” should be used with an understanding of what is meant by them.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Memory Records- Critical Part of Five Aggregates

The Critical Role of Memories

1. Memory records (nāmagotta) are a critical component of the Five Aggregates (pañcakkhandhā.) Most people would not think of memories as a part of pañcakkhandhā. But as we will see below, we cannot live without our memories!

- As we discussed in the previous posts on “The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha),” each of the past rupā that we have ever experienced is in the Five Aggregates. Vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāna — that arose with EACH of those rupā in the past — are also in the Five Aggregates. All of them cumulatively play a critical role in the present moment.
- Let us take some simple examples to illustrate this. Suppose someone gives you a plate with a couple of pieces of pizza. How do you know that it is food and you can eat it? That it is “pizza”?
- You may think that this is a silly question. It is not. Unless you had prior experience with eating pizza, you would NOT know what it is.

2. Think about leaving for work in the morning. Unless you REMEMBER where you work and how to get there, you will not be able to “go to work.”

- You wake up in the morning and need to go to the bathroom. But if you don’t remember where the bathroom is, or even what a “bathroom” is, what would you do?
- By the way, this is why babies need diapers. They have no perception (saññā) of “going to the bathroom” until their brains develop. They do not have the ability to recall their memory records.
- Our lives will be IMPOSSIBLE to live without our memories!
- You see someone coming toward you. How do you recognize that figure as a “man” or a “woman,” let alone that it is your mother?
- More examples in “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta).” I will post this in a few days since it will be helpful.

How Our Memory Works Is a “Miracle”

3. We discussed this process to some extent in the previous post, “Arising of Five Aggregates Based on an Ārammaṇa,” You may want to read that post as needed, especially #2 through #9. I am not going to discuss some of that here. It is critical to understand those initial posts to get a good idea before we get to the next post. It is a good idea to print all four posts in this series so far, and have them ready to review.

- Now we are going to look at exactly where these memories reside and how a mind recalls them so quickly. As we know, any situation that we considered in #1 and #2 above “is not a big deal.”
- When we see a pizza, we know exactly what it is, without having to think. When we leave for work, we do not stop and plan the trip. We just get in the car and drive or walk to the right bus stop/subway, etc. We “know” what a bathroom is and where it is in the house.

Difference Between a Human and a Robot

4. However, a robot CANNOT do any of the above, UNLESS it is pre-programmed in detail. For any robot to do any specific task, a HUMAN needs to think about all possible scenarios and write a “computer code.” That is why “artificial intelligence” WILL NEVER materialize. Scientists will be able to make fancy robots to do REPETITIVE and COMPLEX tasks. But robots will NEVER be able to THINK. They will not be able to recognize anything that has not been pre-programmed to its computer memory.

- A human can recognize an object INSTANTLY. For example, it can “scan” memories of eating pizza and identify what type of pizza it is, how it would typically taste. And it does that within a split second!
- I highly recommend reading the post, “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta),” which I will post in a few days.

Mind – Hadaya Vatthu and a Set of Pasada Rupa

5. That fantastic accomplishment of “instant recognition of things” happens in our minds. The mind is NOT in the brain, even though the brain plays a crucial role in mental phenomena. The mind is associated with the mental body, which is referred to as manomaya kāya or gandhabba in the Tipiṭaka. In essence, that mental body consists of a hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind) and a set of pasāda rupa. See, "Human Life – A Mental Base (Gandhabba) and a Material Base (Cell)" Jul 05, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=521454#p521454 and "Clarification of “Mental Body” and “Physical Body” – Different Types of “Kāya” on Jul 20, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=521454#p521454. Other posts published around that time may provide further information.

- That mental body cannot be seen even with the most sophisticated microscope scientists have today. As we know, they can “see” individual atoms. But a gandhabba is a million times smaller (in weight) than an atom.
- Yet, that mental body is the essence of a human (or any living-being.) The physical body is just a shell that allows us to taste, smell, and touch.
- That mental body (gandhabba) can come out of the physical body in some situations. See, “Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Manōmaya Kāya.” It can see and hear better outside the physical body, but of course, cannot taste, smell, and touch.
- Furthermore, those who cultivate jhāna to the fourth jhānic state can then develop iddhi powers and bring their gandhabba out of the physical body at will. Then they can travel anywhere (including far away Deva/Brahma realms) as well, or go through walls and mountains as described in some suttā. See “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?“ on  Jul 28, 2019 (p. 73): viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=523126#p523126
- That mental body or the gandhabba has the truly ESSENTIAL parts of a human: hadaya vatthu and a set of pasāda rupa.

Only Kammic Energy Can Create a Gandhabba

6. Kammic energy controls the creation and function of a hadaya vatthu and a set of pasāda rupa. WE create them in our javana cittā! Each new bhava is associated with a hadaya vatthu and a set of pasāda rupa. The number of pasāda rupa vary from five for kama loka, two in rupa loka, to none in arupa loka.

- That is why scientists will NEVER be able to CREATE life. It can only manipulate the conditions for an existing gandhabba to build a physical body. See, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” and “Cloning and Gandhabba.” on Jan 05, 2020: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1140
- To be more precise, when we do strong kamma, we create energies that are released and will reside in the kamma bhava. Good strong kamma create energies that can lead to the creation of “mental bodies” for “good realms.” Similarly, strong bad kamma make conditions for rebirths in “bad realms.”
- Our memories are also in the kamma bhava. All energies decay with time. When “kammic energies” in the kamma bhava decay, they become just “memory records.” The Pali word for such memory records is “nāmagotta.“

Rupa Loka and “Nāma Loka

7. There are six “dhātu” that make up our world of 31 realms: pathavī dhātu, āpo dhātu, tejo dhātu, vāyo dhātu, ākāsa dhātu, viññāṇa dhātu. See, “Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta (MN 140).”

- All internal (in one’s body) and external rupa (not rupakkhandha) are made of pathavī dhātu, āpo dhātu, tejo dhātu, vāyo dhātu and they exist in ākāsa dhātu (space). Therefore, the physical world (rupa loka) is associated with the first five types of dhātu.
- We experience all rupa with the help of our five physical sense faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) and the five pasāda rupa. Experience (arising of thoughts) happens in the hadaya vatthu (seat of mind), as mentioned in #6. Of course, the hadaya vatthu, and the five pasāda rupa are the essence of the gandhabba, our “mental body.”

8. Nāma dhammā (vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāna) arise in cittā (loosely called “thoughts”) at the hadaya vatthu. See #6, #7 of “Arising of Five Aggregates Based on an Ārammaṇa.“

- An imprint of a rupa (that is in the physical world) arises with viññāna as we discussed in the previous four posts in “The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha),” Furthermore, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāna are experienced as “aggregates” or “collections” or “khandha” and NOT as individual entities.
- As soon as that thought passes through a mind, a RECORD of it goes to the viññāṇa dhātu. That viññāṇa dhātu is also called the “nāma loka.” Let us discuss that now.
- It is essential to note that both the rupa loka and the nāma loka exist in “our world of 31 realms.”

Rupa and “Nāma

9. The mental attributes (nāma) and physical attributes (rupa) are DEFINED, for example, in 2.3.3. Suttantikadukanikkhepa of Dhammasaṅgaṇī of the Tipiṭaka:
Tattha katamaṃ nāmaṃ? Vedanākkhandho, saññākkhandho, saṅkhārakkhandho, viññāṇakkhandho, asaṅkhatā ca dhātu—idaṃ vuccati nāmaṃ.
Tattha katamaṃ rūpaṃ? Cattāro ca mahābhūtā, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṃ upādāya rūpaṃ—idaṃ vuccati rūpaṃ.

- That means, “Vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, viññāṇakkhandha are “nāma dhamma.”
- “The four great elements (pathavī, āpo, tejo, vāyo) together with upādāya rūpa (those that arise due to upādāna for worldly things made of the great elements) belong to rupa.
- Such upādāya rūpa arise in our javana citta (or in kamma viññāna.) Those are the “subtle rupa” that are seeds for future existences (bhava.) They make up the “kamma bhava.” They have energies BELOW the suddhāṭṭhaka level. See, “The Origin of Matter – Suddhāṭṭhaka.”: ... dhatthaka/
- As we have discussed, hadaya vatthu and each pasāda rupa is ” an energized suddhāṭṭhaka. Therefore, kammic energies are unbelievably small, yet they have amazing power.

Kamma Bhava in Nāma Loka

10. A record of ANY experience is captured in the four aggregates of vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāna. Those are Vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, viññāṇakkhandha. That memory record in the “nāma loka” is “nāmagotta.” However, if that experience involved kamma generation, then there will be a kammic energy (kamma bhava) associated with it.

- Section 1 of the “Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga (1. Suttantabhājanīya)”( defines kamma bhava: “Tattha katamo kamma bhavo? Puññābhisaṅkhāro, apuññābhisaṅkhāro, āneñjābhisaṅkhāro—ayaṃ vuccati “kamma bhavo”. Sabbampi bhavagāmi kammaṃ kamma bhavo.
- That says all kamma done with abhisaṅkhāra will be in the kamma bhava. They can bring kamma vipāka until that energy decays naturally, which could take billions of years.
- Those “bhavagāmi kammaṃ” (meaning strong kamma that can sustain the rebirth process) will be there in the kamma bhava.

While Rupā Will Decay Over Time, Nāma Record (Nāmagotta) Does Not Decay

11. While rupā in the rupa loka last only finite times, a record of one’s experiences permanently remains in the nāma loka. That PERMANENT memory record is “nāmagotta.”

- That is stated clearly in the “Najīrati Sutta (SN 1.76)” as, “Rūpaṃ jīrati maccānaṃ, nāmagottaṃ na jīrati” or “Physical form (bodies of living beings and inert matter) decay and die, memory records (nāmagotta) do not decay.
- Of course, we have a limited ability to RECALL past memories, especially memories from past lives. However, some children can recall their previous life. Those who have cultivated abhiññā powers can recall many past lives.

12. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot grasp everything in this post. I will expand on some of them in upcoming posts. But it is necessary to read the recommended posts.

- I have spent the past ten years studying Buddha Dhamma. Even these days, I learn new things that make the “big picture” a bit more clear. Once getting some traction, the process will become easier and enjoyable.
- It has been an amazing experience and I hope I can share that with as many people as possible.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Here is the post that will hopefully help further clarify the concepts of the post published a couple of days ago.

Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)


1. Even though only one word in the English language (“thought”) is used to describe “a unit of cognition” or “a thought,” the Buddha explained that such a “thought” arises as a citta, and goes through nine stages of “contamination” to become viññānakkhandha. What we experience is this viññānakkhandha of the “aggregate of viññāna.” See, “The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha)” that we have been discussing over the past several posts.

- However, even a contaminated citta is still called a citta for convenience even in the suttā. So, one needs to determine what is meant depending on the context. One needs to have an idea of those nine stages.
- Some of these terms in the nine stages are used interchangeably as “a thought” in many textbooks and internet sites on Buddhism (e.g., citta, mano, viññāna), and that is NOT correct.

2. I will make this post simple because everyone must get the basic idea of how a thought is “contaminated” within a split second.

- It is not possible to stop the contamination of a citta within such a short time. I have seen even some well-known and respected Dhamma teachers say that one can willfully keep a “pabhassara citta” (uncontaminated citta) from being contaminated.
- I hope this post will make it clear that such a thing is not possible. One’s cittā are contaminated depending on one’s gati and the sensory input (ārammaṇa) in question. The key to STOPPING cittā from getting contaminated is to change one’s gati over time.
- That is done by following the Noble Path, and specifically by practicing the correct Ānapāna and Satipaṭṭhāna Bhāvana, not the "fake breath meditation." That will become clear by the end of the post.

Nine Stages of a Thought (Citta)

3. Those nine stages of contamination during the lifetime of the fundamental unit of cognition (within a billionth of a second) are citta, manō, mānasan, hadayaṃ, pandaran, manō manāyatanam, mana indriyam (or manindriyam), viññāna, viññānakkhandha. A Tipiṭaka reference is given in the post, “Pabhassara Citta, Radiant Mind, and Bhavaṅga.” ... -bhavanga/

- Amazingly, these nine steps occur within a split second, and the Buddha said there are billions of citta arising within the blink of an eye. Each citta has three stages: uppāda, ṭhiti, bhaṅga. Those nine steps occur before it comes to the bhaṅga or the termination stage.
- It may be hard to believe, but we can prove this to be true with the following example.

4. Suppose three people A, B, C are sitting in a small coffee shop. They are all facing the door, and person X walks in. Suppose that person X is a close friend of A, worst enemy of B, and that C does not know X at all. We will also assume that all are males.

- So, let us see what happens within a split second. A recognizes X as his friend, and a smile comes to his face. B recognizes X as his enemy, and his face gets darkened.
- On the other hand, C’s mind does not register anything about X, and X is just another person to him. He immediately goes back to whatever he was doing.

5. That is an example of a “cakkhu viññāna,” a “seeing event.” It is over within a split second, just like taking a photo with a camera takes only a split second, where the image in captured on the screen instantaneously.

- However, something very complicated happens in a human mind when a “seeing event” occurs.
- It is critically important to go slow and analyze what happens so that we can see how complicated this process is (for a human mind) to capture that “seeing event.” It is much more complicated than just recording “a picture” in a camera.

6. Within that split second, A recognizes X as his good friend, and pleasant emotions arise in his mind, and he becomes happy. B recognizes X as his worse enemy, and bad emotions arise in his mind, and he becomes angry. On the other hand, C identifies X as a man or a woman, and no feelings occur in him.

- We don’t think twice about these observations usually. But if one carefully analyzes what happens, one can easily see that this is an amazingly complex process.
- How does the SAME “seeing event” (seeing X) lead to all these very different changes in the minds of three different people? (and the emotions even show up on their faces!)
- No one but a Buddha can see this fast time evolution of a citta.
-The Buddha has analyzed this process in minute detail. We will discuss only the critical basic features here.

Nothing Faster in the World Than the Arising of a Citta

7. Buddha said it is hard to find any phenomena in this world that change faster than the mind: “Aṅguttara Nikāya (1.48)“.

The short sutta says: “Nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, aññaṃ ekadhammampi samanupassāmi yaṃ evaṃ lahuparivattaṃ yathayidaṃ cittaṃ. Yāvañcidaṃ, bhikkhave, upamāpi na sukarā yāva lahuparivattaṃ cittan”ti.”
Translated: “I consider, bhikkhus, that there is no phenomenon that comes and goes so quickly as citta. It is not easy to find an analogy (a simile) to show how quickly citta can change.”

Three Features of a Seeing Event (Cakkhu Viññāna)

8. The “seeing event” has three essential features:

- One gets into an emotional state (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, which is called sukha, dukha, and upekkha in Pāli), and that is vedanā.
- One recognizes the object, and that is called saññā.
- Based on vedanā and saññā, one also generates other mental factors (cetasika) such as anger, joy. Those are none other than saṅkhāra.
- Of course, this holds for all six types of vipāka viññāna.

9. Viññāna is the overall sense experience encompassing all those three: vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra.

- But viññāna can be more than the sum of those three. See, “Viññāna – What It Really Means.” ... lly-means/
- We can safely say that viññāna (or more correctly viññānakkhandha) is the overall sensory experience, INCLUDING one’s expectations based on that sensory experience. That is why one’s facial expressions may change too, according to such expectations.

10. So, we can see that those three people, A, B, and C will have three different “states of mind” upon that seeing event (ārammaṇa).

- That “mindset” with a set of vedanā, saññā, and saṅkhāra is called a viññāna.
- Viññāna is the overall sensory experience that includes all those. And that takes place within a split second.
-There are six types of vipāka viññāna corresponding to the six sense faculties.

11. Several key important basic features come out from this simple example.

- There is no single entity called “viññāna.” When we hear something a “sōta viññāna” arises, when we taste something a jivhā viññāna occurs, etc. Altogether there are six types of vipāka viññāna that are associated with the six sense faculties we have. Those are cakkhu (see), sōta (hear), ghāna (smell), jivhā (taste), kāya (touch), and manō (mind).
- Any of those will lead to the following outcomes: Sukha, dukha, or upekkha vedanā arise. One recognizes what type of picture, sound, etc. and that is (saññā). Then other types of cetasika arising (called saṅkhāra) depending on the ārammana (sound heard, etc.) AND the “nature” of the person (character/habits or gati).
- This last one, the “nature” of a person, is called that person’s gati (sometimes written as gathi; that is how it is pronounced). Each person has a unique (but changing) set of good and bad gati. I am not going to discuss this here, but there are many posts on the website on gati.

Dependence on the “Thought Object” (Ārammaṇa)

12. Let us take a different scenario. Let us assume that X is B’s girlfriend — who is not in good terms with A — and that C is a young male who has never seen X.

- Now, we see that the moods of A and B will reverse. A will be instantaneously unhappy to see X, and B will be happy to X.
- Regarding C, the situation could be different than before. If X appears attractive to him, C may instantaneously form a lustful state of mind.

13. So, we see that the type of cakkhu viññāna depends on primarily two things. It depends on the particular person experiencing it, and the sense object in question (it is called an ārammaṇa in Pāli).

- In the above two cases, A and B experienced different types of vipaka viññāna (seeing something "good" or "bad"). But their experiences reversed when the sense object changed (situation in #4 versus that in #12).
- In the case of C seeing an attractive woman, even though he had no prior contact with her, lustful viññāna arose in C, due to his “lustful” gati.
- If C were an Arahant, C would only generate a upekkha viññāna when seeing the X. An Arahant has removed all gati; one needs to learn about gati to fully understand this point.

14. Now we see that for a given person, there is no permanently set good or bad viññāna. What kind of viññāna arises depends on the gati of the person and the sense object.

- We usually call someone a “good person” based on his/her overall character, i.e., if that person displays more “good character” than “bad character” over time. But only an Arahant can be called a “definitely a moral person,” acting 100% morally all the time.
- Even though this is a complex subject, the basic features are those mentioned above. One needs to analyze different situations in one’s mind to get these ideas firmly grasped. That is real vipassanā meditation!
- One needs to understand how the mind works to make progress on the Path. The Buddha said that his Dhamma had never been known to the world. And it has the MIND in the forefront. Furthermore, the mind is the most complex entity in the world.

Simple Explanation of the Nine Steps

15. The first stage, citta, is just awareness that comes with the “uncontaminated” vedanā and saññā and five other universal mental factors (cetasika): phassa, cetanā, manasikara, ekaggatā, and jivitindriya. One is just aware that one is alive and is experiencing something.

- At the “manō” stage, the mind has “measured” what the object is (මැනීම in Sinhala). For example, whether it is a tree or a human or a bird.
- In the next “mānasan” stage, the mind can distinguish among different species. For example, whether it is just a woman or one’s mother or whether it is a parrot or a hummingbird. That is the “pure and complete awareness”: one sees the external world as it is. An Arahant‘s mind will not contaminate beyond this stage.

16. At the next “hadayaṃ” (හාද වීම in Sinhala) phase, the mind gets attached to the object (or repulsed by it) based on one’s prior experiences and gati.
- This attachment gets stronger in the next several stages and by the time reaches the viññāna stage, it can be fully “corrupted.”
- Finally, that viññāna gets incorporated to the aggregate of viññāna or the viññānakkhandha. With each thought, the viññānakkhandha grows.

17. One crucial observation is that C’s mind stopped at the “mānasan” stage in the first example above. (that is only partially correct, but we don’t need to get to details here). However, in the second example, it got contaminated.

- Of course, an Arahant‘s mind will never get contaminated beyond the “mānasan” stage for ANY sense object.
- Specifically: no lobha, dosa, or moha will arise in an Arahant regardless of what the sense input is.

18. Hopefully, the above basic description will clarify how a citta gets contaminated automatically according to one’s personality (gati) and the sense object.

- The critical point is that we do not have control over those initial citta that arises automatically at the first exposure to the sense object.
- However, when we become aware of this initial response, we CAN control our subsequent citta by being mindful. That is the key to Ānapāna and Satipaṭṭhāna meditations and is a different topic. For details, see “Bhāvanā (Meditation)” and “Living Dhamma” and “Paṭicca Samuppāda” sections.

19. Finally, another critical point is that the six types of viññāna that we just discussed are all vipāka viññāna. These arise due to past kamma, i.e., as kamma vipāka.

- Then there are kamma viññāna that we create ourselves; see, “Kamma Viññāna – Link Between Mind and Matter.” ... nd-matter/
- When the Buddha said that we need to stop defiled kamma viññāna from arising, he was referring to the kamma viññāna. We have control over kamma viññāna. But we do not have control over vipāka viññāna, which are due to past kamma.
- Details on kamma viññāna in the post “Do I Have “A Mind” That Is Fixed and “Mine”?“ ... -and-mine/. One’s state of mind at a given moment depends on one’s gati (character and habits) AND the external sense object.
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