The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by confusedlayman »

Lal wrote: Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:05 pm The new series on the fundamentals of Buddha Dhamma shows that it is built around a "wider world" with many possible existences and a continued rebirth process among those realms.
-Most people in Western societies are not familiar with the concept of rebirth. However, that is changing, because there is a lot of evidence emerging, and scientists and philosophers are beginning to take it seriously. That is why I included a recent conference on the subject at the beginning of the following post.

Evidence for Rebirth


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

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

Rebirth Accounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evidence for Rebirth Much Stronger Than Perceived

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

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

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

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

Here is the link to Wikipedia article on child prodigies:

Child Prodigy :

Healing with Hypnosis

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

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

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

Following books are also good reads:

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

OBE and NDE Studies

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. It may be difficult to grasp these concepts initially. One needs to look up the links given and may need to go back several layers to grasp these ideas. It is not possible to explain everything in one post. Buddha Dhamma can be very deep if one wants to really comprehend how nature works.
is gandhaba is wanting or craving or conciousness that drags?
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 »

is gandhaba is wanting or craving or conciousness that drags?
The question is not very clear.

If you are asking whether a gandhabba can choose a womb to get into, then the answer is no.
- It is the kammic energy (one could say nature) that pulls a gandhabba to a "matching womb".
- By "matching" it means matching of gati (character/habits).
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Mind Is Not in the Brain

The mind is not in the brain, but the brain is essential for the mind to work as long as the gandhabba is inside the physical body.

Relevant Summary of Previous Posts

1. In the previous posts, we discussed that only in the kāma loka that some living beings have physical bodies with brains. Brahmā in 20 realms do not have physical bodies or brains. See “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis,” “Sensual Pleasures – The Hidden Suffering,” and “Kammic Energy Leads to Consciousness.”

- Of course, modern science is not aware of realms other than the human and animal realms. That is one reason that most scientists believe that consciousness arises in the brain.
- Per Buddha Dhamma, humans and animals (and other beings in kāma loka) REQUIRE physical bodies to have access to close sensory contacts (taste, smell, and touch.) That, in turn, REQUIRES a brain to control the movement of heavy body parts. See, “Our Mental Body – Gandhabba.”
We will discuss that more in the next post.
- But let us first review the current status of scientific research on the efforts by scientists to explain consciousness to arise in the brain.
We already discussed the following roadblock facing “materialistic science”: How can feelings arise in inter matter? That is the “hard problem of consciousness” that philosopher David Chalmers discussed in the video in #9 and #10 of “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”

Mind Is Not in the Brain

2. The following video summarizes the current status of scientists’ attempts to prove that consciousness arises in the brain. Many of them, who spent their whole lives looking into this issue, have concluded the following: The brain does play a role in consciousness. But consciousness does not arise in the brain.

- @ 3 minutes: Neuroscientist Wilder Pennfield argued that “the causal force is missing within the brain that can account for the actions and intentions.” How can intention arise in inter matter?
- @ 4 minutes: There are correlations between the mind and the brain, but correlation does not mean causation. That is where science got stuck. However, it is fully explained in Buddha Dhamma. The brain is just a conduit facilitating body movements. A gandhabba does not have a brain. The brain becomes necessary only where a solid physical body is required for close sensory contacts for sensory pleasures (kāma assada.)

More Comments About the Above Video

3. Around 5 minutes, the author explains the “Visual Binding Problem,” which is a part of a broader “unified perception.” This is important.

- Let me give you another example. Suppose you are in a restaurant and see someone entering the restaurant. It is an old friend you have not seen any many years. But how long does it take you to recognize who it is, and even recall some “good old memories”?
- I discussed that in detail at #4 through #6 in “Amazingly Fast Time Evolution of a Thought (Citta)” on Sep 18, 2018 (p. 31): ... &start=450
- The mind is not in the brain and can work MUCH faster than the brain. In the above examples, recognition happens not in the brain, but in the mind. We will discuss details in future posts.

4. At 8 minutes: Instead of the brain giving rise to mind, the evidence is emerging that the mind can affect the brain. The brain has this property called “plasticity.” That means our thoughts can make some brain changes, especially “re-wiring of neural connections” and even repairing some minor damages to the brain.

- The video in the following section a presentation by neuroscientist Dr. Schwartz mentioned here. He has successfully treated some patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD.)
- In fact, the correct mindful meditation (Satipaṭṭhāna or Ānāpānasati; not breath meditation) can vastly improve brain function in all of us to help grasp deeper aspects of nature. That is what entails following the Eightfold Noble Path. We will get to that in the future.
- At 13:45 minutes: A study found that it is possible to control one’s sexual urges by “applying the mind.” They were able to control brain activity with “mind control.”
- It is clear that the mind is not in the brain because it can affect brain activity.

You Are More than Your Brain

5. More and more scientists and philosophers realize that “you are more than your brain.” A human the freedom and capability to change his/her destiny.

- Dr. Jeffrey Scwartz is a neuroscientist who has developed a novel program to treat OCD successfully. He has written several books on the subject of the mind, including Ref. 1 below.
- Here is a recent presentation of Dr. Schwartz on the subject:

- Dr. Schwartz was one of the early scientists to become aware that we (our minds) are more than our brains. He did most of his studies in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, there have been more studies conducted using new techniques for brain imaging.

More Evidence against Materialism

6. The current Western tradition of thinking is that the only things that really exist are the atoms and the void. Everything else, including the mind, is reducible to matter made of atoms. That world view is “materialism.”

- The following presentation by Dr. Michael Ignor provides a summary of evidence against materialism from recent research by many neuroscientists.

- At 5 minutes: Cutting a brain in half does not lead to significant changes in a person. If the brain gave rise to consciousness, one would expect such a drastic change would lead to a huge change in personality (and perhaps to two personalities). But the changes were insignificant (except that it relieved the patients of susceptibility to seizures.
- At 7 minutes: Research of Dr. Wilder Pennfield showed that probing various areas of the brain could not affect personal characteristics, such as intellect, political biases, habits, etc. There is a “core personality” that does not depend on the brain. But, of course, if the brain is dead, then such attributes cannot manifest.
- More evidence that the mind is not in the brain!

Those in Vegetative States May Be Fully Conscious

7. Another notable fact from the video by Dr. Ignor is that some of the “brain-dead” patients in “vegetative states” could be fully conscious.

- At 9:30 minutes: People who are “brain dead” and are in vegetative states may be “alive inside.” They are just not able to express their feelings because they cannot talk or move body parts. A discussion of Dr. Owen’s brain scan studies (mentioned by Dr. Ignor) is in Ref. 2. There are aspects of the mind that cannot be destroyed even with severe brain damage. I will discuss this more in the next post.
- At 15:30 minutes: Libet experiments on free will that seemed to suggest that humans do not have free will. Also, see, “Neuroscience says there is no Free Will? – That is a Misinterpretation!” More information providing evidence that humans do have free will in Ref. 3.
- At 19:30 minutes: The book by Bennett and Hacker referred to y Dr. Ignor is Ref. 4.
- At 22:20 minutes: Importance of intentionality that we touched on in #2 above. How can intentionality arise from the lifeless matter in a brain?

Teleology – Purpose of Things in the World

8. At 25 minutes, the discussion turns to teleology. Teleology is about “a reason or explanation for something to exist.” See Ref. 5. An acorn grows into an oak tree and not to an apple tree. The blueprint for bringing an oak tree into existence is in that tiny seed. Of course, the acorn needs to germinate and extract all necessary material from the earth to grow into that huge oak tree.

- So, even scientists like Dr. Ignor cannot explain the ROOT CAUSES for either an oak tree or a human being comes into existence. Therefore, they assign that to a Creator. In their view, it is the Creator that designs EVERYTHING in this world. That is the “Teleological argument” for the existence of a Creator: It sometimes goes as “Intelligent Design”: ... rigins%22.
- As Dr. Ignor asks around 26 minutes what the purpose of an eye is. He would say that it was created by the Creator for humans to see. He says that there is a “grand mind” (that of the Creator God) behind the universe. That is because Dr. Ignor is not aware of the “previously unknown theory of the Buddha.”
- But the Buddha said that we create our own future eyes because we like to enjoy seeing things in this world! Again, this needs to be explained in a bigger picture.
- An acorn giving rise to an oak tree is very similar to a gandhabba giving rise to a human body. That gandhabba is unimaginably smaller than an acorn but has the blueprint for the human body. The gandhabba starts building the body while inside the mother’s womb, by taking nutrition from the mother. Once born, the baby starts eating food, and that is how the body of a full-grown adult comes into being. See, "
Human Life – A Mental Base (Gandhabba) and a Material Base (Cell)" on Jul 05, 2019 (p. 73): ... 54#p521454

If Mind Is Separate From the Body, What Happens to It at the Death of the Body?

9. Therefore, there is strong evidence emerging to support the idea that the mind is not in the brain, even though the brain helps facilitate the mind’s workings. That gives rise to the following critical question. If the mind is something more than the brain (and the physical body), what happens to that mind when the body dies?

- For those who have not been exposed to true Buddha Dhamma, there could be only one option. That is the ASSUMPTION that the mind (stated to be “soul”) must be going to either heaven or hell forever.
- But as we have already discussed, the mind creates “seeds” for future lives. Many such “seeds” exist for many future lives (some with physical bodies and brains) for ANY living being. That is why we all have been in this rebirth process from a time that cannot be traced back. See, “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin.”
- The “previously unheard Dhamma” is that living beings themselves are responsible for creating SEEDS for their future lives. Furthermore, living beings are also responsible for creating their environment to live in! That includes living things without consciousness (like vegetation) and the whole environment for all of that to exist. This is a VERY DEEP subject. But we will first address the issue of living beings creating the seeds their future lives.
- Both aspects are explained with Paṭicca samuppāda. We will, of course, first focus on human beings and other living beings.


1. Jeffrey Schwartz, “You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life”, (2012)

2. Dr. Owen’s brain scan studies are discussed in the following video:

3. Alfred R. Mele, “Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will” (2014)

4. M. R. Bennett and P. M. S. Hacker, “Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience” (2003)

5. Wikipedia article, “Teleology.”:
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Gandhabba in a Human Body – an Analogy

Gandhabba in a Human Body Senses Differently Than When Outside

1. The six critical entities in the gandhabba (hadaya vatthu and the five pasāda rupa of cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya) are responsible for the amazing feats of cognition. See, “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis,”

- As we have discussed, a gandhabba has only a trace of matter and is invisible. It is essentially an invisible “mental body.”
- When outside the physical body, a gandhabba can hear and see by itself without having eyes and ears like us. This idea of a living being without a physical body like ours is hard to imagine for us. But Brahmā in the higher 20 realms have such “invisible bodies.”
- Of course, a Brahma or a gandhabba cannot taste, smell, or touch, since they do not have “dense solid bodies.”
- But when trapped inside a physical body, a gandhabba can experience all five sensory inputs. However, now the gandhabba depends on the brain to receive those sensory inputs.
- One way to get the basic idea is to look at the following analogy. This analogy works ONLY for the five physical senses.

A Soldier in a Totally-Enclosed Military Tank

2. Visualize a soldier operating a fully-enclosed military tank. I do not even know whether such “totally-enclosed” military vehicles exist. But one can visualize it. Consider a tank that is essentially a big metal box without even a single window. It has video cameras and microphones mounted on it to capture the scenes and sounds. It also has guns mounted on it that can shoot heavy artillery shells over long distances.

- Let us also assume that the tank’s movement is also fully automated, i.e., the soldier cannot drive it manually.
- There is a sophisticated computer system that controls all those activities. The soldier makes the decisions on where to go, what to shoot at, etc.
- Now, suppose the computer system breaks down completely. The soldier is fully alive but he/she is incapable of knowing what is happening outside. He/she is also incapable of moving the tank or firing its guns. To someone looking from outside, it appears that the tank is “lifeless.” It is no different from a nearby rock.

A Gandhabba inside a Physical Body

3. In the same way, a gandhabba trapped inside a physical body cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or touch anything without the aid of the brain.

- The physical body, just like the military tank, cannot “sense anything.” But it has a set of five “instruments” to interact with the external world (eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and body).
- Then there is a brain, just like the onboard computer in the military tank, that controls those body parts. It performs two types of tasks. (1) Process external signals coming through those five body parts and pass them to the gandhabba inside. (2) It also carries out the instructions given by the gandhabba to control those body parts. Thus the gandhabba speaks and controls body movements with the aid of the brain.
- In the case of extensive brain damage, the gandhabba will not be able to get any information from outside the body. It will also not be able to speak or move body parts either because those tasks are also accomplished by the brain.
- That is why a “brain-dead person” in a “vegetative state” shows no sign of life, as we will discuss.

How Can a Gandhabba Move a Heavy Physical Body?

4. Again the “tank analogy” is helpful. The soldier does not have the energy to move the tank. That energy comes from the fuel in the tank. Therefore, the tank will become “lifeless” if fuel runs out. The computer system will also not have the power to run.

- The physical body, just like the tank, cannot move without energy. That energy comes from the food that the human eats.
- Furthermore, the brain cannot function either without having enough energy provided by the food human eats.
- It turns out that the brain consumes roughly 25% of the energy produced by food digestion. That gives an idea of the immense workload on the brain. It has to process all the information coming in through the five senses AND also to move body parts to speak and to carry out other bodily actions.

More Comparisons Of the Two Cases

5. More bodily actions can be visualized that way. For example, gandhabba cannot throw a stone. But gandhabba in a human body can get the physical body to throw a stone (with the help of the brain.) It takes a lot of energy to throw a stone. But that energy does NOT come from the gandhabba. that comes from the food consumed by the physical body.

- Correspondingly, the soldier cannot throw the heavy artillery. But he/she can set up the computer to aim and fire the guns. The energy to propel heavy projectiles comes from the fuel in the military tank.
- If the computer breaks down, the soldier will be helpless and will not be able to see or hear what is happening outside. Furthermore, he/she will not be able to move the tank or shoot artillery shells. That is just like a “brain-dead person” in a vegetative state (see below.)

Why Can’t the Gandhabba “See-Through” the Physical Body?

6. If a gandhabba outside a human body can travel through walls, and see/hear through walls, why cannot it see and hear without the physical eyes and ears while inside the physical body?

- That is a manifestation of kammic energy dictated by the purpose of the physical body. The physical body arises to provide a way for the gandhabba to experience close contacts of taste, smell, and touch. That NECESSITATES its entrapment inside the physical body.
- Again, the military tank analogy is useful. The soldier will be able to see and hear without the aid of that tank-mounted equipment when he is outside the tank. But while being INSIDE the tank, he CANNOT see outside without the use of the equipment. In the same way, the gandhabba is TOTALLY shielded once inside the physical body.

7. There is another aspect of why a gandhabba in a human body becomes isolated. Kammic influences block the gandhabba from “seeing through the physical body.” That is a mechanism to make the physical body subject to kamma vipāka.

- Some people incur brain damage due to kamma vipāka. Being trapped inside one’s own body and not being able to communicate with others is unimaginably harsh, as we will see below.
- In general, “being trapped inside a heavy body” is one mechanism for humans to “pay for the privilege” of having a physical body to enjoy sense pleasures. Without exception, those who have had out-of-body experiences describe a joyful feeling of “lightness.”

What Happens if the Computer System (Brain) Malfunctions?

8. There are two possible scenarios in each of the cases. Let us consider the tank analogy first.

- a) If part of the onboard computer-controlled circuitry malfunctions, the soldier may be able to do only certain tasks. For example, suppose the circuitry that controls automated driving and the guns malfunctions. Then he would be unable to do anything with the tank (either to move it or to fire the guns.) But he may be still capable of seeing and hearing what is happening outside.
- b) If the computer completely breaks down, then the soldier would be completely isolated. He will not see or hear what is happening outside, in addition to not being able to do anything with the tank.

9. In the case of a gandhabba in a human body, the above two scenarios are analogous to two possible situations for a person in a vegetative state.

- a) If only certain areas of the brain circuitry are damaged (especially the brain stem), that person may be able to see and hear but may be incapable of moving body parts to respond to them.
- b) If the brain is totally damaged, that person may not see or hear AS WELL AS not be able to respond either.
- Yet, the gandhabba inside is alive and well in both those cases, just like the soldier in the tank.
- We will discuss the case of a person in a “vegetative state” in detail in the next post.

How Does A Gandhabba See/Hear When Outside a Physical Body?

10. Another possible question is: “How does the gandhabba see and hear when outside the human body?”

- It is only in the human (and animal) realms that beings communicate via speech (and bodily gestures). In other realms, living beings communicate directly via saññā, one of the five aggregates (pancakkhandha).
- Not all living beings can communicate with all others via saññā (it depends on the realm.) When possible, communications take place via saññā generated in one’s thoughts.

11. That mode of communication is similar to one’s experience with dreams. In a dream, we do not “hear” what others say in the same way when we hear speech normally, i.e., through the ears. In a dream, we perceive what they are saying. We perceive saññā.

- We also do not “see dreams” with our eyes, which are closed while we sleep.
- Here, we need to remember that the “real sensing elements” are not the physical eyes, ears, etc., but the five pasāda rupa: cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, and kāya. See, “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.“

The Blind Woman Who Could See With an Out-of-Body Experience

12. The following real-life account provides a good understanding of the working of the gandhabba in a human body versus outside.

- In some cases, people are born with the cakkhu pasāda rūpa in good condition, but the optic nerve (or the physical eye itself) may be damaged. In that case, they cannot see because the brain is not getting a signal from the eyes.
- But if the gandhabba can come out of the body, it can see by itself. The following video clearly illustrates this situation.

13. Note that she had “never seen anything” in her whole life. It seems that either her physical eyes or the optic nerve/visual cortex in the brain had been damaged at birth. But the cakkhu pasāda rūpa was fully functional. That is why she was able to see when the gandhabba came out of her body.

- However, in other cases, one may be born blind because one may not be born with the cakkhu pasāda rūpa. In that case, even if the gandhabba comes out of the body, it would not be able to see.
- All five sensory faculties are in the gandhabba or the manōmaya kāya. Those signals are first processed by the brain before the signals arrive at the corresponding pasāda rūpa. Then that pasāda rūpa transfers the signal to the hadaya vatthu and it is the hadaya vatthu that really “sees”, “hears”, etc. See “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.“

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Persistent Vegetative State – Buddhist View

Some people in “persistent vegetative state” may have awareness per Buddha Dhamma. (1). As long as the physical body is alive, there is life. (2). Depending on the extent of brain damage, awareness of the external world may or may not be there.

What Is a “Vegetative State” or Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome?

1. A persistent vegetative state is when a person is awake but showing no signs of awareness for an extended time. Such a patient may have awoken from a coma, but still don’t seem to have regained awareness (Refs. 1,2).

- Ref. 1 states, “A vegetative state is when a person is awake but showing no signs of awareness.”
- According to Ref. 2, a person in a vegetative state “completely lack cognitive function.”
- The term “vegetative state” may have come from “vegetable-like” in the sense that the body is obviously alive, but does not show any sign of awareness. A vegetable is also “alive,” but of course, does not have any awareness.
- But there is a clear difference between “being aware” and “being able to communicate that one is aware“. Some people classified to be in a “vegetative state” may be aware but not able to communicate that they are aware. This difference is VERY CLEAR in the Buddhist explanation.

There Could be Awareness in a Person Classified to be in a “Vegetative State”

2. Scientists are beginning to realize that there is a “thinking being” in a human body in a “persistent vegetative state.” In 2010, it was proposed to refer to this condition as unresponsive wakefulness syndrome or UWS (Ref. 3.)

- However, many still consider ANY person in a vegetative state to be “clinically dead.” Disconnecting life-support is legally allowed.
- In Buddha Dhamma, the issues become much clear. The gandhabba is fully alive inside. Since the brain’s areas controlling body movement and speech are disabled, it cannot show awareness. But depending on the condition of the other areas of the brain, it may or may not be aware of the surroundings. That means a person in a vegetative state COULD BE fully aware of his/her surroundings just like a normal person.
- Progress in neuroscience now makes it possible to check whether such a person is aware of the surroundings, even if he/she cannot express that via speech or bodily movements. We will discuss that below. Let us first discuss the general picture per Buddha Dhamma.

A Person in a Persistent Vegetative State – Buddhist Explanation

3. In the previous post, we described the workings of the gandhabba (mental body) and the physical body where the brain plays a significant role.

-One part of the brain (neocortex) provides the gandhabba with the sensory inputs coming through the physical sense faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body.)
- There is a separate brain circuit (brain stem) that controls speech and bodily movements. Per gandhabba‘s instructions, that part of the brain controls the movement of body parts.
- We discussed those two aspects using an analogy of a military tank operated by a soldier. Here, an onboard computer has two circuits: One to bring in external video and audio to the soldier. The other part of the computer-controlled circuit drives the tank and fires the guns mounted on the soldier’s tank per instructions. See, “Gandhabba in a Human Body – an Analogy.”

“Vegetative State” is Proper Terminology If the Brain Is Fully Damaged

4. If there is extensive damage to the onboard computer and all circuits under its control, the soldier is completely isolated. He/she would not be able to see/hear what is happening outside OR to drive the tank or fire its guns.

- Similarly, if the brain is fully damaged, the gandhabba will not be able to see, hear, taste, smell, or touch (It will also not be able to recall any past events as we will discuss later.) Furthermore, since the brain cannot help with speech or other body movements, the gandhabba cannot show any life sign.
- However, the soldier inside the tank is alive. Similarly, the gandhabba inside the physical body is also fully alive.
- It is because that the gandhabba is alive that the physical body stays alive. The physical body can be in that “persistent vegetative state” as long as the gandhabba stays inside AND the physical body is on life-support (food and water provided.)
- Thus, the term “vegetative state” is appropriate in this case, since the gandhabba cannot respond AND is totally unaware of what is going on. In Abhidhamma terminology, the mind is in the bhavaṅga state. There are no “active thoughts” or citta vithi.

If Only the Brain Stem Damaged, Gandhabba May Have “Awareness”

5. Now, let us consider the second possible scenario. If only the brain stem is damaged, that person may see and hear but is incapable of moving body parts to respond to them.

- In the military tank analogy, this is similar to when the computer circuits for driving and firing of guns are damaged. The video and audio equipment are working, so that the soldier can see and hear what is going on outside, but is unable to move the tank or fire its guns. To someone looking from outside, the military tank appears to be totally disabled.
- Similarly, some people who appear to be in persistent vegetative states may be fully aware of what is going on. They have no abilities of body movements and cannot speak or move even a finger. Thus, they are unable to express anything with words or bodily movements.
- The following video is about a woman in a vegetative state for two years and was able to recover. During those two years, she heard and saw what was going on. However, there was “no sign of life” in her other than her vital signs.

Gandhabba of a Person in a Persistent Vegetative State is Fully Alive in All Cases

6. Therefore, as long as the body’s vital functions are intact, the gandhabba inside is alive and well. In other words, the fact that the physical body does not decay MEANS that the gandhabba inside is alive.

- Of course, if life-support disconnected the physical body will die. Then the gandhabba would move out of the dead body.
- Some people in a “vegetative state” may not be able to think in addition to not being able to respond. That is a “strong vegetative state,” as discussed in #4. That is similar to a living being in the asañña realm with no thoughts or perceptions.
- On the other hand, some who are classified to be in a “persistent vegetative state” may be fully aware of what is happening, as discussed in #5.
- The following amazing video describes the accounts of three people who were in vegetative states for years per #5. They recovered and say that they were able to see or hear everything. But they were incapable of even moving a finger, let alone talk, so they could not acknowledge that they knew what was happening.

- Imagine being in a situation like that! Totally helpless. That is one example of anatta nature! This is why anatta means much more than just "impermanence." One can get into situations where one loses any control over one’s situation. Most animals are like that throughout their lives. They have to bear whatever happens.

Is There a Way to Check if a Person In a Vegetative Stats Is Aware of Surroundings?

7. It would be horrible to discontinue life-support for a person who cannot communicate but is fully aware of what is happening. As we saw in the above video, some people in persistent vegetative states CAN see and hear everything. They cannot speak or even make bodily gestures to indicate that they can see and hear.

- Imagine being in such a situation. In some cases, the medical staff and even the family members may be talking about taking away life support! That would be a cruel punishment even though not intended.
- But new imaging technology developments have made it possible to find out whether a given patient is aware, even though unable to communicate. The following video explains the technology. A Neuroscientist Used fMRI to Communicate With People in a Vegetative State:

- According to this doctor, about 1 in 5 patients (from a sample of several hundred in his study) were fully aware! Hopefully, this technique will be adopted in the future before deciding to remove life support.
- Note that the thirst person discussed in the video in #6 (@9.06) underwent this brain scan diagnosis.

The Buddhist Explanations Are Very Clear on Many Moral Issues

8. The prevalent “materialistic view” is making it difficult to understand some critical moral issues with clarity. What we discussed above is just one example.

- Another actively-debated issue is related to the fact that there is no clear understanding of the conception of a baby per materialistic view. The only thing that is universally accepted is that the conception STARTS with the formation of a single cell (zygote) when a sperm cell joins an egg cell in the mother’s womb.
- But that zygote is inert. When does it become alive? Some people even say it is not alive until it is born! Yet, one can clearly see that the baby is alive in the womb with the heart pumping.
- In the Buddhist view, the situation is crystal clear. The inert zygote becomes alive when a gandhabba “descends to the womb” (okkanti) and merges with that zygote. That normally happens within a day or two of sexual intercourse. Thus, the time of conception is well-defined. See, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception.”


1. Brain Foundation article: “Vegetative State (Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome)”: ... kefulness.

2. Wikipedia article: “Persistent vegetative state”: ... tive_state

3. S. Laureys et al., “Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome: a new name for the vegetative state or apallic syndrome (2010)”:

4. An insightful summary;

5. Here is a longer video on two subjects. One was in the vegetative state for 20 years before recovering. She recovered in 2004 but remembers others talking about the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 (@34:30.)

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory

Patient H.M. provided a critical clue to the role of the hippocampus in memory preservation. Studies on him and a few other patients point to direct and indirect roles played by the brain in preserving memories. The Buddhist description and scientific descriptions are the same for habitual (procedural) memory but are different for autobiographical (declarative) memory.

Major Components of the Brain

1. The following diagram shows the brain divided into three regions. The following bullet points provide the KEY FUNCTIONS of each area. It is a crude description but provides a simple picture.


- Thecerebellum (indicated in red) controls body movements. The cerebellum also helps with body balance and remembering repetitive tasks. If there is significant damage to the brain stem, one is likely to die. The brain stem controls vital functions like breathing.
- The limbic system plays a vital role in memory. It also deals with emotions. Components of the limbic system are indicated in black.
- The neocortex (indicated in blue) is the largest area of the brain and manages sensory inputs such as vision and hearing. It is also the “thinking brain.” It wraps around the limbic system, starting from the edge of the cerebellum.

Structural Information on the Three Regions of the Brain

2. The above figure shows a cut of the brain in the middle. Some components of the limbic system have two parts on either side. For example, the hippocampus and amygdala have two identical structures on the brain’s left and right sides.

- On the other hand, the brain stem and cerebellum are single structures.
- The neocortex, in contrast to both those, has different areas specialized for different tasks. Analysis of sensory inputs happens in the back (visual cortex and auditory cortex.) Parts of the frontal cortex manage planning, speech, and related motor control aspects. Neocortex accounts for 76% of the brain.

Overview of Our Discussion So Far

3. Now we can get a better visual of our discussion so far in the previous few posts, especially the post on “Persistent Vegetative State – Buddhist View.” Let us first go over that post.

- The brain stem regulates breathing, heart rate, blood pressure. Therefore, it is likely that people in vegetative states do not have major damage to their brain stems.
- The loss of motor control (body movements) is likely to be due to damage the cerebellum.
The visual and auditory cortexes are close to the cerebellum (figure below). The limbic system is hidden in this view.


- That roughly matches what we discussed in the previous post about different situations of people in vegetative states. For example, suppose there is damage to the cerebellum area, but minimal damage to the visual/auditory cortexes. Such patients may be able to see/hear but not able to respond.
- On the other hand, if visual/auditory cortexes, as well as the cerebellum, are damaged then the patients would not be able to see or hear as well.
- We discussed those two situations in the previous post.

The Opposite of a “Vegetative State” – Living Without Memory

4. Now, let us discuss a few people who were unfortunate to face a different set of problems due to a third region of the brain located close to the middle of the brain. As we can see from the first figure above, the limbic system lies underneath the neocortex and sits above the brain stem/cerebellum area.

- The limbic system is the “emotional center” of the brain because it controls emotions. It has several components, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and thalamus.
- Our focus here is on the hippocampus. As we will see, it plays a major role in memory.
- There are two symmetrically-placed hippocampi on either side of the brain. Both those were surgically removed in a patient who went by the name “patient H.M.”

The account of “Patient H.M.” – Critical Role of Hippocampus

5. Patient H.M. (or Henry Molaison) suffered from frequent bouts of seizures. In 1953, a surgeon removed his hippocampi (on both sides of the brain) in a desperate attempt to solve that problem. It did solve seizures, but HM was left with a peculiar and devastating memory loss.

- His ability to retain NEW memories was lost. He could remember events up to the operation but could not remember anything for more than a few minutes AFTER the operation. The following video explains it in more detail.

- After extensive studies on patient HM (he died in 2008) and on several other patients with memory loss, neuroscientists have concluded that the hippocampus is the component In the brain that strengthens short-term memories to long-term memories and “pass them over to the neocortex.”
- However, they do not know how those memories can be “passed over to another brain region” or how such long-term memories can be kept for long times. In the next post, we will discuss some people’s ability to remember past events in extensive detail. For example, some people can remember what they ate for lunch on a specific arbitrary date several years ago! We will discuss that in upcoming posts.
- The extensive study of patient HM is CRITICALLY important since it allows us to pinpoint one brain component responsible for long-term memories.

Nomenclature of Memory

6. There are some standard terms used by neuroscientists that we need to be aware of. That will help us understand the content in the following videos.

- Autobiographical (or episodic or declarative or explicit) memory is about remembering events, facts, etc. These memories are about dates, events, names, etc. They are the same as nāmagotta in Buddha Dhamma. In Buddha Dhamma, nāmagotta are not in the brain, but in the “viññāṇa plane.” There is a “transmitter” in the brain that transmits memories to the “viññāṇa plane.” Then there is a “receiver” in the brain that makes it possible to recall memories from the “viññāṇa plane.” More on that in upcoming posts.
- The other is habitual (or procedural or implicit) memory or being able to do repetitive tasks like playing the piano, riding a bicycle, brushing teeth, etc. They are related to one’s habits. These memories are “hard-wired” in the brain. It appears that the cerebellum in the brain is where such “memory connections” take place.
- Anterograde amnesia is the failure to store memories after trauma. Retrograde amnesia is the failure to recall memories before the trauma. The loss of the hippocampus leads to anterograde amnesia.

Further Details on Patient H.M.

7. The following video is a bit long. But it provides a lot of information.

- @ 4 minutes: Hippocampi on both sides of the brain surgically removed. After that, he couldn’t remember anything that happened minutes ago. Of course, he could remember events before the operation.
- Imagine the hippocampi to be the “transmitter.” Suppose it transmits new memories to the “viññāṇa plane” where they remain intact forever. - ---Then suppose there is another component (yet unidentified) in the brain that can help recall memories. That “receiver” was working in patient H.M. since he could recall memories formed BEFORE removing the hippocampi.
- We will discuss this “theory” in the next post. But keep this in mind as we continue the discussion here.
- @4:40 minutes: “Declarative memory” is the same as the autobiographical memory mentioned above. “Procedural memory” is the same as “habitual memory.”
- @5:40 minutes: The narrator says there is only one book on patient H.M., But there are two more. See Ref. 1.

8. The Nova clip @7 minutes says that memories are created and erased by chemical processes. But that is not consistent with either Buddha Dhamma or recent findings in science.

- @8:40 minutes: The account of H.M.’s medical problems that led to surgery.
- @10 minutes: Patient H.M. could remember everything that happened before his operation.
- @10:30 minutes: Dr. Milner concluded that the hippocampus MAKES long-term memories. But we will see that there is a better explanation.
- @11:00 minutes: The drawing experiment showed that he could learn repetitive processes. As we will see below, that comes under “habitual memory” (learning a motor skill) controlled by the cerebellum. But, of course, he had no memory of going through those trial runs of drawing the star.
- @12 minutes: Current scientific explanation of memory formation. This explanation is also consistent with Buddha Dhamma. Formation of “habitual memories” or motor skills do appear to take place in the cerebellum.

The Account of Patient E.P.

9. The account of a different person, patient E.P. starts @14:30 minutes. In 1992, E.P. suffered a viral infection that seems to have damaged parts of the limbic system. This is very similar to the case of Clive Wearing that we will discuss below.

- @ 17 minutes: Patient E.P. also did not have the ability to retain memories of events AFTER coming down with the infection. But he remembered events before that. Thus, he does not have autobiographical memories of events AFTER the infection.
- @19:30: The virus destroyed areas around the hippocampus. After that damage, any NEW autobiographical information is not retained. But he remembers everything that happened BEFORE that virus-induced damage. This is similar to the case of patient H.M.
- @22 minutes: The narrator says the hippocampus helps “record the memories.” But as we will see, the hippocampus transmits those memories to the viññāṇa plane.
- @ 24 minutes: Brief discussion of Clive Wearing.
- @25:40 minutes: The account on Dr. Jacopo Annese, who is compiling records of the brains of people with different backgrounds, including those with memory problems.
- @30:10 to 32 minutes: The brain of patient H.M. The discussion relevant to our topic stops at 32 minutes.
- @32 minutes to end: Work of Dr. Annese. He is planning to make a repository of complete brain scans of 1000 people.
- Next, we discuss a third patient who lost ALL his memories AND cannot make ANY memories.

Clive Wearing – Musician With Seven Second Memory

10. Clive Wearing was a reputable musician. A herpes virus damaged his brain (around the limbic system) just over a few days in 1985. Unlike patient H.M. and patient E.P., he cannot recall ANY memories. He can remember only those events within the last seven seconds. His situation is even worse than that of the previous two patients.

- Therefore, he cannot recognize anyone. Even though he cannot remember the name of his wife, he knows that she is a special person in his life.
So, he virtually lives “just in that moment”!
- The following video is a bit long. But it provides a lot of information.

Important Deductions from Clive Wearing’s Case

11. Note in the beginning that he can play the piano, but cannot remember anything that happened even several seconds ago!

- Therefore, his habitual memory is intact (consistent with his cerebellum undamaged.) But he has anterograde AND retrograde amnesia, i.e., total loss of autobiographical memory. Therefore, he seems to have lost both the transmitter (hippocampus) and “receiver” (cannot be identified yet.)
- @ 6:40 minutes: He says it is like being dead. No thoughts of any kind, except the one that passes by. In that sense, his state is a kind of a “vegetative state” even though he can maintain his physical activities.
- @ 9:30 minutes: The account of how he lost memory in several days in 1985.

12. Here are more notable things from the above video:

- @ 10 minutes: How he lost memory within several days. Apparently, the herpes virus crossed the blood-brain barrier and got into the brain. There is an only one-in-a-million chance of that happening!
- @14 minutes; He says he does not have anything to think about. That is why he initially cried all day long. He says it is like being dead.
- @19 minutes: Every moment is the beginning of consciousness! He repeats that at @43 minutes. No thoughts mean like being dead! He was fortunate to be able to play the piano. As we mentioned, such “learned memories” remain hard-wired in the cerebellum. That is a notable difference from “episodic memories,” which are not (and cannot be) “stored” in the brain. We will discuss that in the next post. That is also why he can dress by himself, eat and do other “regular activities” by himself.

13. We can learn a lot about the working of the brain and the gandhabba by carefully analyzing the accounts of patient H.M., patient E.P., and Clive Wearing.

- We will continue the discussion in the next post.


1. Books on patient H.M.: Philip J. Hilts, Memory’s Ghost (1996). Suzanne Corkin Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H. M. (2013). Luke Dittrich Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets (2017).

2. Book on Clive Wearing: Deborah Wearing, Forever Today (2005).

3. One could Google and find much more information on any of these topics. I have provided just enough material to get the basic idea.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Memory Recall for Gandhabba in a Human Body

Memory preservation and recall involve two components in the brain per Buddha Dhamma. We identify the “transmitter” as the hippocampus. The “receiver” is yet to be identified.

Key Points From the Discussion So Far

1. When outside the physical body, a gandhabba can see, hear, and recall memories “directly.” The invisible gandhabba sees and hears with the cakkhu and sota pasada rupa and recall memories directly in hadaya vatthu. Kammic energy creates up to six sensory units, including those three. See “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.”

- When inside a physical body, a gandhabba is TOTALLY shielded from outside. But thanks to that solid, dense body, the gandhabba can taste, smell, and touch things too. But ALL six types of interactions with the external world now REQUIRE a functional brain.
- Using an analogy of a military tank, we discussed how the brain analyzes the sensory inputs coming through five physical senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) and passes them to the gandhabba. See, “Gandhabba in a Human Body – an Analogy.”
- Now, let us discuss the critical role played by the brain in the memory preservation/recall process.

Memory Preservation/Recall for a Gandhabba Inside a Human Body

2. The sights, sounds, tastes, odors, and touchable objects are in the external world. In the same way, our memories are also in the external world.

- Of course, that Buddhist view differs from the scientific view that the memories are “stored” in our brains. See, “Mind Is Not in the Brain.”
- The “physical world” or “rupa loka” that is spread out in space (ākāsa dhātu) is only one part of our world.
- That physical world has a mental counterpart. It is the “mental world” or “nāma loka” associated with the viññāṇa dhātu. Our memories or “nāmagotta” (as well as plans and our kamma bija) are in that nāma loka.

3. Out of the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha), the rupakkhandha encompasses everything associated with the rupa loka. The other four aggregates (vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññāṇakkhandha) are associated with the nāma loka. We will discuss that in more detail in upcoming posts.

- As discussed in the above-mentioned posts, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the physical body brings in the five physical sensory inputs to the gandhabba trapped inside the physical body. The brain plays a key role in processing those sensory inputs and passing them to the gandhabba.
- Two brain components play critical roles in memory preservation/recall for the gandhabba trapped in a physical body. Let us discuss that now.

A Transmitter and a Receiver of Memory in the Brain

4. The five physical senses need to “bring in” external sensory inputs from the physical world. People, animals, and things in the rupa loka can be seen with the eyes. Our physical bodies can touch those things, etc.

- On the other hand, records of our thoughts (nāmagotta) need to be first sent out of the physical body to the nāma loka (viññāṇa dhātu.) Those thoughts arise in the gandhabba inside the physical body. As thoughts arise in gandhabba, the “transmitter” in the brain transmits them to the outside.
- We can recall those records as needed, with the aid of the “receiver” in the brain.

The Critical Roles of the Transmitter and the Receiver

5. If the transmitter in the brain does not work, then records of one’s thoughts cannot be transmitted out to the viññāṇa dhātu. That means those records WILL NOT be saved. If someone’s transmitter stops working, the recording of nāmagotta will stop.

- If the transmitter keeps working, but the receiver stops working, then one will not be able to recall ANY of the memories. However, one’s nāmagotta will continue to accumulate in the nāma loka.
- Of course, if both transmitter and receiver fail, then one’s nāmagotta will not be saved, AND one will not be able to recall ANY memories.

6. Now, let us see what happens when that person dies and is reborn with a human body again. If both the transmitter and receiver work in the new life, then the only problem would be the following.

- If the transmitter had not worked for a certain time period in the previous life, nāmagotta for that period would be missing FOREVER.
- That last scenario would be similar to the case of nāmagotta missing for the time spent in the asañña realm. For that whole time spent in the asañña realm, there would be no thoughts, and thus no “events” to record.

Identification of the Transmitter of Nāmagotta as Hippocampus

7. In the previous post, “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory,” we discussed the case of patient H.M. As explained in #4 in that post, a surgeon removed H.M.’s hippocampus to treat a different medical problem.

- After the surgery, H.M. lost to the ability to recall anything that happened AFTER the operation. But he was able to recall events that took place BEFORE the operation.
- The fact that he was able to recall some memories means that the receiver was working!
- The second clue is that he cannot recall new memories made AFTER the operation, which means the transmitter was removed in operation. Only one small part of the brain (hippocampus) was removed in operation. Thus it is a clear-cut case that the hippocampus is the transmitter!
- By the way, patient E.P. discussed in #9 of that same post had the same issue of not recalling only those memories created AFTER an incident. In that case, a virus attacked E.P.’S brain area that contained the hippocampus. Thus his account is also consistent with the hippocampus being the transmitter.

Receiver Not Yet Identifiable

8. What would happen if the receiver is damaged? Of course, one would not be able to recall anything at all.

- We discussed the case of Clive Wearing in that same post starting at #10. Clive did lose ALL memories. Thus, it is clear that Clive lost the receiver.
However, he lost his memories due to a viral attack just like patient E.P. It was not a specific brain component like for patient H.M.
- There was much more damage to Mr. Wearing’s brain than for patient E.P.’s brain. Some areas in the frontal and temporal lobes and the area around the hippocampus were damaged. There are many small components around the hippocampus (like the amygdala.) I could not find more specific information on the damaged areas of Mr. Wearing’s brain.

9. Thus all we can say is that the receiver could be located close to the hippocampus (in the limbic system) or in the frontal or temporal lobes. That is too wide an area to nail down the identity of the receiver.

- On the other hand, his cerebellum (located in the back of the head) did not have any damage. Thus, he was able to do routine tasks using habitual memory. He was even able to play the piano, as we discussed in that post. As discussed in #12 there, “learned memories” remain hard-wired in the cerebellum. His cerebellum did not have any damage
- But he would not recall playing the piano a minute after he finished playing! He could not recall ANY “episodic memories” because his “memory receiver” was damaged. His transmitter (hippocampus) was also damaged.

Connection to the Ability to Recall Past Lives – Why Scientists Are Wrong

10. Since memories (nāmagotta) remain preserved in the nāma loka (viññāṇa dhātu), they will NEVER be lost. That is why some children can recall their past lives.

- On the other hand, if memories are “stored in the brain,” as some scientists speculate, recalling a past life would be impossible. Thus, even if just ONE one numerous past life accounts is correct, that model has to be discarded.
- Of course, those who cultivate abhiññā powers can recall MANY past lives. The Buddha recalled how he received “niyata vivarana” to become a Buddha from many previous Buddhas who lived billions of years ago! See, “Pāramitā and Niyata Vivarana – Myths or Realities?“
- Further evidence is building up from numerous Near-Death-Experience (NDE) studies conducted by heart surgeons. We discussed those problems with the “memories stored in the brain” theory in the post, “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”

Buddha Dhamma Is Self-Consistent and Compatible With Scientific Findings

11. Buddha Dhamma is fully self-consistent. See, “Buddha Dhamma: Non-Perceivability and Self-Consistency.” All the posts at this website are self-consistent and are consistent with the Tipiṭaka.

- Over the years, scientific theories kept changing to be consistent with new findings. I predict that science WILL discard the idea that memories remain stored in the brain. It is just a matter of time.
- Another piece of recent evidence is the following. Some people can remember what happened in any ARBITRARILY selected day, even several years ago. It Is as though their memories were digitally recorded.
- Our brains are not digital, as proven in recent years. They do not work the same way as digital computers. It is impossible to “record” events in such detail in our brains.
- We will discuss accounts of some of those people with “perfect memories” in the next post.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Autobiographical Memory – Preserved in Nāma Loka

Autobiographical memory (nāmagotta) remains preserved in nāma loka (mental world.) Material things are in the rupa loka (material world.)

Our Two Worlds – Rupa Loka and Nāma Loka

1. Living beings enjoy material things in the rupa loka. We are all familiar with our material world (rupa loka), which has “things” that we can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.

- We also enjoy RECALLING past experiences and also recalling anticipated future events (desires or expectations.) Both those types remain in our mental world (nāma loka.)
- A satta (living being) results when attaching to either of the two. See #6 of “Me” and “Mine” – The Root Cause of Suffering” on Jun 18, 2020: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1200

Autobiographical Memory Versus Habitual Memory

2. When we say “we remember” something, that memory could be of one of two things.

- We remember past events like attending a wedding or a funeral, the birth of a child, etc. that is autobiographical memory. A memory of what one ate for dinner on any arbitrary day, even years ago, fall into the same category. Everything that you did from the moment of waking up to going to bed goes into autobiographical memory.
- On the other hand, remembering how to ride a bike (or play the piano) is also a memory. Even if you don’t ride a bike for many years after learning it, you can recall that memory fairly quickly later on. It would not be like learning to ride a bike for the first time in your life. Such a “capability” is a habitual memory.
- There is recent evidence that some people have exceptional abilities with autobiographical memory. They can recall what happened on any arbitrary day within the past several years in great detail. Let us discuss that now.

Highly-Superior Autobiographical Memories (HSAM)

3. These studies started with Jill Price, who contacted a team of scientists in the early 2000’s about her ability to recall anything from 1974 onwards. Since then, scientists have studied more people with that ability.

- Scientists have coined the term Highly-Superior Autobiographical Memories (HSAM, pronounced H-SAM) to describe their abilities.
- The following video illustrates how astounding their memories are:

Notable Facts

4. It starts with Louise Owen’s account. Note that around 2 minutes, she says she “scanned through April 21 of that year to April 21, 1992.” It is like playing back a recorded file. She started on April 21, 2011 (the year she answered that question) and jumped (in her memory) year-by-year until getting to April 21, 1991. We cannot imagine how she did that, but you can see how quickly she “got to that specific date.” She said she went through 25 twenty-firsts and zeroed-in on the one in 1991. That is amazing! Of course, we cannot even imagine how she accurately described events on all those arbitrary dates given to her.

- @ 4 minutes: It is NOT memorization. Instead, it is the same way we can recall what happened a few hours ago. It just comes to our minds. But, of course, we cannot do that for more than a day or two in the past (unless it is a notable event.)
- @ 4:35: The account of Jill Price, the first person to be identified with HASM ability. But she did not want to meet with the others that we will later in the video. She was the only one who was not happy to have that ability (HSAM.)
- @4:50 Brad Williams, Rick Barron, and Bob Petrella. @ 5:50, the person checking the account of Bod Petrella got the date wrong, not him!
- @6:00 Actress Mary Lou Henner. @ 8:15, she says it is like playing back a DVD! That is not possible with “neuronal connections in the brain” (see below).
- @ 9: 45 The meeting of five of HSAM memory wizards.
- @ 11 minutes: They are all “ordinary people” with no exceptional or unusual capabilities.
- @11:50 They “re-live” their recalled experiences.

Brain Scans of Those With HSAM

5. Here is a list of important information from the above video.

- @1 minute: MRI scans of HSAM people’s brains. Their left temporal lobes and the caudate nucleus (in the limbic system) are somewhat more prominent. As we saw, these are the suspected receiver and transmitters in the brain. See, “Memory Recall for Gandhabba in a Human Body.”
Disregard the comment about the possible connection to OCD (obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Latter studies (see Ref. 2) show that there is no connection.
- @ 6:20: Memories do not need to be “memorable.” They remember mundane, unextraordinary things. Bob remembered 19 seasons of Pittsburgh Steelers football games in 19 seconds! They show on the recorded video playback at 7:33 is t Bob played back in his mind a few seconds ago.
- @ 8:45: Do their memories clutter up their minds, i.e., do all those memories hang around in their minds all the time? No. They call any specific memory as needed, just like scanning through a recording. They can “pull up the right information at the right time.” Dr. McGaugh says it is a puzzle, but it is NOT a puzzle in the Buddhist explanation. Those memories are fully intact in the nāma loka. Those with the ability can extract that information at any time.
- @ 9:35 DNA and other types of testing.

A Recent Account of HSAM With More Information

6. The previous two videos came out soon after finding several people with HSAM abilities. The above video is from 2019 and has further information about two other individuals, Becky and Markie.

- @ 2:10: Becky “re-lives” her old experiences. We saw that in the previous videos too, but this account is more explicit.
- @ 2:50: She can recite any page from any of the seven Harry Potter books. That is truly amazing. She must have read the books very carefully so that each word got “recorded.” It is essential to realize that what is “recorded” as nāmagotta are our thoughts, as they arise.
- @ 5:00: Becky thought everyone could do it. It was a puzzle to her why her Mom could not remember something that happened five years ago!
- @ 7:00: Out of 60 people identified with HSAM capability since 2008, Becky is the only one with autism.
- @ 7:20: Relevant brain regions of HSAM people are not that unusually large, as initially thought (see #4.) However, there may be more connections between brain areas.
- @ 8:20: Account of Markie Pasternak, who remembers every day of her life since age 10.
- @ 10:55: Becky and Markie meet.
- @11:00 minutes: Becky remembers everything from the first year she was born!
- @11:45: Becky is a Harry Potter fan. No wonder she could remember all seven books, page by page.

Current Scientific Hypothesis on Memory Preservation

7. The following short video provides a good idea of the present scientific concept of “memory formation.”

- It says memories “form in the hippocampus” and then “transfer” to other regions in the brain. They came up with that hypothesis after studies on patient H.M. As we have discussed, after removing the hippocampus from patient H.M.’s brain, he lost the ability to recall memories formed AFTER the operation. But since he could remember old memories, scientists concluded that those old memories must have been “transferred” to other regions in the brain.
- That is the ONLY way to explain the accounts by patient H.M. within the “memory stored in the brain” hypothesis. However, they have not explained HOW that transfer process takes place. They would have a hard time explaining the abilities of those with HSAM, in particular.
- @ 1 minute: Discussion of synapses and “long term potentiation” or “stabilization of memories.” But does not jive with memory recall by those with HSAM. Preservation DOES NOT require repetition. EACH EVENT (like remembering what one ate for dinner) remains preserved. As thoughts ARISE in one’s mind, a record is kept instantaneously as nāmagotta. That is hard for us to imagine, but many features about nāma loka (viññāṇa dhātu) are not conducive to our experiences.
- @1:20: Memory records are NOT lost. It is only the ability to recall that is lost. However, people with HSAM have a near-perfect ability to recall memories, vividly displayed by Becky in #6 above. She can remember word-by-word that she had read! But it is true that as one gets older, the “receiver” in the brain gets weaker, and therefore the ability will become less with age.

Difference Between Autobiographical and Habitual Memories

8. The cases of Clive Wearing and patient H.M. that we discussed in “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory” provides a good idea about the difference.

- Clive lost ALL of his past autobiographical memory, presumably due to losing both the “transmitter” and “receiver” of nāmagotta. But he had perfect habitual memory as demonstrated by his ability to conduct daily routines and also being able to play the piano.
- Patient H.M. lost only part of his autobiographical memory since he lost only his transmitter (hippocampus.) His habitual memory also remained intact.
- The above videos are about people with exceptional autobiographical memory. It is likely to be related to better performance of the receiver circuitry in the brain.
- It is a good idea to read previous posts in this series and absorb these key points.

Only Habitual Memories Are Stored In The Brain

9. As we discussed in “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory,” habitual memory involves an entirely different brain region, presumably the cerebellum. These memories get established by repeating a given task over and over until the neural connections become strong (in the cerebellum). Thus, I contend that the scientific model discussed above in #7 pertains ONLY to habitual memories.

- Synaptic wirings are indeed responsible for habit formation (see, “How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View “) on Nov 28, 2018: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=735
- However, it is a stretch to assume that “video-like recordings” of all past events get recorded in neural connections!
- Strengthening of neural circuits DOES NOT happen in autobiographical memory preservation. A record of each thought or action gets preserved! Of course, only a few people can recall most of them.

Further Problems With “Autobiographical Memory Storage in the Brain” Hypothesis

10. If autobiographical memory storage is in the brain, one would lose all such memories at death.

- However, there is mounting evidence that many people can recall their previous lives. See “Evidence for Rebirth”: Even if just one of the thousands of such accounts is true, then the theory of “memory storage in the brain” fails.
- There is more evidence from the out-of-body experiences (OBE) and near-death-experiences (NDE.) Scientists and physicians have studied numerous cases in each category. How do those experiences result without a physical brain? See, “Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Manōmaya Kāya.”
- According to Buddha Dhamma, those who cultivate abhiññā powers can recall autobiographical memories (nāmagotta) with high-precision. They can recall events from previous lives as well. The level of accuracy and how far back in previous lives depend on the practitioner. The Buddha could remember as far back as he wished. It is the same as with HSAM, but those with abhiññā powers can see memory records (nāmagotta) of past lives.

Finally, several years ago, I wrote the following post, which has some additional information: “Recent Evidence for Unbroken Memory Records (HSAM)” It has a video on Jill Price, the person to be identified to have HSAM: ... ords-hsam/


1. ... i-2019.pdf

2. ... t-2018.pdf

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Rupa and Rupakkhandha, Nāma and Nāmagotta

Rupa and rupakkhandha, together with nāma and nāmagotta, help describe two parts of our world: rupa loka and nāma loka. Rupa (forms) are in the rupa loka (material world), and rupakkhandha includes mental images of ALL rupa that we have ever experienced (but not directly preserved.) The four nāma aggregates are preserved in the nāma loka (immaterial or mental world) as nāmagotta.

Critical Differences Between Rupa Loka and Nama Loka

1. We are quite familiar with the rupa loka or the material world. It has people, animals, trees, Sun, Moon, stars, etc. One distinct feature of the rupa loka is that EVERYTHING has a finite lifetime, i.e., no permanent existence. Each “thing” comes into existence, exists for a finite time, and then destroyed. No exceptions.

- We experience the rupa loka using the five physical sense faculties. We see “things” with our eyes, hear sounds via vibrations in the air, smell things when tiny particles enter our noses, taste things when they touch our tongues, and feel the touch sensation when things touch our skins.
- Each physical contact involves an interaction of a sensory faculty with external “things” or “rupa” or “forms.” The result is a mental image of a rupa that arises in mind. The collection of all possible such MENTAL IMAGES is the rupakkhandha. Thus, rupa and rupakkhandha are two different things.

2. Furthermore, nāma loka is our “main world.” With that mental image of a rupa, four types of “mental attributes” or “nāma” arise in mind: vedana, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Records of only those four “nāma” entities are preserved in nāma loka as nāmagotta. When we recall such nāmagotta, we can re-create the corresponding rupa in our minds.

- We experience the nāma loka with the mind, the sixth sense faculty.
- One unique aspect of nāma loka is that all our thoughts will leave a PERMANENT record (nāmagotta) in the nāma loka.
- Thus, even though rupa in the rupa loka decay and die, nāmagotta in nāma loka never die, as stated in the “Najīrati Sutta (SN 1.76)” which states, “rūpaṃ jīrati maccānaṃ, nāmagottaṃ na jīrati.”
- Until a Buddha explains, humans don’t even think much about the nāma loka or the mental world. It is also called the viññāṇa dhātu.

“Seeing” Is In a Thought (Cakkhu Viññāṇa)

3. Let us take a simple example to illustrate this point. Suppose you are looking at an apple on your desk. An apple is a physical object.

- You can see the apple if there is light in the room. When you look at it, light bounces off the apple and enters your eyes. The brain processes that apple’s image and passes it over to cakkhu pasāda rupa in the gandhabba. The cakkhu pasāda rupa makes contact with hadaya vatthu and transfers that image to the hadaya vatthu, the “seat of the mind,” as we discussed. See, “Gandhabba in a Human Body – an Analogy.”
- What we stated above appears in Pāli as, “Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjāti cakkhu viññāṇaṃ.” That just means cakkhu viññāṇa (or seeing) arises when a rupa makes contact with the cakkhu (short for cakkhu pasāda rupa.) Here, paticca means cakkhu and rupa “getting together” or “making contact.”

4. Thus, “seeing” is a cakkhu viññāṇa (a thought.) We see that apple when a cakkhu viññāṇa arises in our mind. This is a fundamental fact, but it is good to make it clear. When we see that apple, a thought arises in mind saying, “it is an apple.”

- The apple that you saw is NOT the same as the apple itself. It is just an image of the apple captured by your eyes. “Seeing” happens in your mind.
- Every time you see an object, that “image” goes into the “rupa aggregate” or “rupakkhandha.” However, that rupakkhandha is NOT preserved. Only when you recall memory is that you “regenerate” that “mental image” in your mind. We will discuss that mechanism in upcoming posts.
- There in no record of rupakkhandha (aggregate of forms) in the rupa loka! Rupa and rupakkhandha are different entities.

That Holds for the Other Sense Faculties – The Origin of Nāmagotta

5. In the same way, we hear a sound with thought and recall a memory with thought. All six sense faculties work the same way.

- As soon as a thought arises in mind, the critical point is that it is transmitted out to the nāma loka where a record of that will stay forever. This may sound astonishing, but that can be shown to be correct. How else would those people with HSAM be able to recall their memories with such precision? See the post, “Autobiographical Memory – Preserved in Nāma Loka.” Some children can recall their past life and those with abhiññā powers can recall many past lives in great detail.
- We will discuss the details of the “memory preservation” process in the future. But it turns out that it is not the rupakkhandha that is preserved, but the other four aggregates: vedana, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. The four mental aggregates are preserved as a memory record or nāmagotta.
- In fact, that is how the Buddha recalled how he received “niyata vivarana” from Buddha Deepankara, who lived many billions of years ago by recalling those ‘memory records” are nāmagotta.

Each Person Has His/Her Nāmagotta Preserved

6. Each event that we experience has a rupa, vedana, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa associated with it. For example, when we see an apple, the associated rupa is the MENTAL IMAGE of the apple (which becomes part of rupakkhandha.)

- That event also has a vedana associated with it, i.e., we know that we saw that apple. The associated saññā is the recognition of the object as an apple. Then we may generate saṅkhāra about it, for example, may be to decide to eat it (as a vaci saṅkhāra.) Then the viññāṇa encompasses all those AND any associated plan (to eat it.) All five of those automatically added to the corresponding AGGREGATES (COLLECTIONS), i.e., rupakkhandha, vedanakkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññāṇakkhandha.
- And the four mental components get added to his/her OWN nāmagotta.
- Thus it is critical to see that each person’s five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) are THEIR OWN. One’s pañcakkhandha is one’s whole world! One has experienced all of it.
- To emphasize, only the four mental components are preserved in the nāma loka. The rupa loka has only “material things,” and thus, rupakkhandha is NOT preserved. The rupa component (the associated mental image) is “re-generated” only when one recalls that past event. We will discuss that recalling process later.

Memory Recall – Each Person Has His/Her Nāmagotta

7. Pick the name of a friend that you have not seen for many years. How long does it take to recall his/her face? Almost instantly.

- That is the same way those people with HSAM recall their past. I urge everyone to re-read the post, “Autobiographical Memory – Preserved in Nāma Loka.”
- That post gives an idea of how precisely one’s experiences are preserved in the nāma loka. I must emphasize that one’s experiences are the same as one’s thoughts that arose in mind at THAT TIME.
- When someone recalls a past event, one RE-LIVES that experience, it is not so vivid for those who do not have HSAM. But the fact that over 50 people have such vivid and detailed “re-living” of past experiences means that those detailed records have been kept somewhere.

8. As we discussed in that post, recalled memories are very similar to digital records preserved in video form. For example, in #5 of that post, Bob Petrella recalled past events as accurately as video recording playback. In #6, we saw how Becky “re-lives” her past experiences as a child.

- As we discussed in that post, habitual memories (like riding a bike) remain “stored” in the brain. However, it would be unimaginable to assume that detailed autobiographical memories (what happened on a past arbitrarily-picked day several years ago) can be “stored” in the brain.
- The brain is NOT a digital computer. It is essential to think and grasp this key idea.
- Now, let us look into another aspect of nāma loka.

“Seeing” Something Can Lead to a Lot of Mental Activity

9. “Seeing” itself is a mental activity, as we saw above in #3 and #4. But if the object that was seen is either attractive or repulsive, that can lead to more mental activity.

- For example, suppose you want to buy a car, and you went to a showroom and saw a car you liked. Then until you buy that car, your mind will be pre-occupied with the car. You will spend some time thinking about various aspects, say, whether you want to go to other showrooms to try to get a better price, how to pay for it, etc.
- All those are “mental activities” that goes on in your mind. Billions of thoughts run through your mind pondering such issues. Those are “vaci saṅkhāra (vitakka/vicāra)” that arise in your mind. See, “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra” posted on Nov 03, 2018 (p.43) and "Vitakka, Vicāra, Savitakka, Savicāra, and Avitakka, Avicāra" posted on March 8, 2019 (p.71)
- You may spend hours thinking about the car. That whole time, you are in the nāma (or mano) loka. You may not even be aware of what is going on around you in the rupa loka. If you are deeply engrossed in your thoughts, you may not even hear someone addressing you or a nearby clock striking a chime at the top of the hour.

We Live In Both Worlds (Rupa Loka and Nama Loka)

10. every time we experience something in the rupa loka, we INVARIABLY need to “check back” in nāma loka to identify what we experienced. It is critical to understand this point.

- When we see a person, we would not know who it is UNLESS we have some experience with him/her. The mind is VERY FAST. It goes back to records (nāmagotta) and recalled previous events of seeing and interacting with that person. We are not even aware that such a process happens.
- However, some people with brain damage cannot recognize people because of their inability to recall nāmagotta.
- Here is the account of Clive Wearing that we discussed in the post, “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory.”

- As we see in the video, he cannot remember someone he talked to several minutes ago. Both his “transmitter” and “receiver'” (interacting with the nāma loka) were damaged. He cannot recall any memory. So, he is unable to “match” what he is experiencing now with his past experiences.
- The account of Clive Wearing helps explain the difference between rupa and rupakkhandha (and also between nāma and nāmagotta.) He can interact with the rupa loka but cannot access his memories (nāmagotta) in the nāma loka. Therefore, he is unable to “make sense” of the rupa that he experiences.
- It is a good idea to review the following post as well: “The Amazing Mind – Critical Role of Nāmagotta (Memories).” It is at, but I will post it here in a couple of days.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote: Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:24 pm Savitakka/savicara are "good thoughts" (to be taken in or "āna"), including nekkhamma (moving away from sense pleasures) and avyapada (compassionate) thoughts.

I think I may have addressed this in the post: "Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra", Nov 03, 2018 (p.43)
savitakka, is it really a positive, good thought?

look at this translation, wrote: ‘A sinful being is reindividualised, a sinless one is not.’
“Sakileso, mahārāja, paṭisandahati, nikkileso na paṭisandahatī”ti.
sa is affirming. Savitakka means yes it is vitakka or in a personal way like sakileso is sinful, so it is 'with vitakka'.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

sa is affirming. Savitakka means yes it is vitakka or in a personal way like sakileso is sinful, so it is 'with vitakka'.
Are you saying that "savitakka" means "with vitakka"?
- That is absolutely wrong.

However, the meaning of vitakka needs to be understood in the context used.
- It is like the word "smell." We normally say "something smells" to indicate a bad smell. But there we should really say, "something smells bad" to indicate a bad smell.

In a similar way, vitakka is a generic word, it could be good or bad, in general. But in many contexts, it is used to mean "bad vitakka" just like the use of the word "smell".
- But savitakka unambiguously means "good vitakka" or "samma sankappa" as explained in the post, "Vitakka, Vicāra, Savitakka, Savicāra, and Avitakka, Avicāra" on March 8, 2019 (p.71):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1050. See #2 through #4 there.
- Also see #8 there.

Furthermore, as explained starting with #9 of that post, one gets to the first jhana by CULTIVATING savitakka/savicara.
- Then, as one gets to higher jhana, one totally removes any remaining (bad) vitakka/vicara. Removal of bad vitakka/vicara is indicated by avitakka/avicara, as explained in #12 there.

It is a good idea to read that whole post carefully: "Vitakka, Vicāra, Savitakka, Savicāra, and Avitakka, Avicāra" on March 8, 2019 (p.71):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1050.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:47 pm
sa is affirming. Savitakka means yes it is vitakka or in a personal way like sakileso is sinful, so it is 'with vitakka'.
Are you saying that "savitakka" means "with vitakka"?
- That is absolutely wrong.

However, the meaning of vitakka needs to be understood in the context used.
- It is like the word "smell." We normally say "something smells" to indicate a bad smell. But there we should really say, "something smells bad" to indicate a bad smell.

In a similar way, vitakka is a generic word, it could be good or bad, in general. But in many contexts, it is used to mean "bad vitakka" just like the use of the word "smell".
- But savitakka unambiguously means "good vitakka" or "samma sankappa" as explained in the post, "Vitakka, Vicāra, Savitakka, Savicāra, and Avitakka, Avicāra" on March 8, 2019 (p.71):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1050. See #2 through #4 there.
- Also see #8 there.

Furthermore, as explained starting with #9 of that post, one gets to the first jhana by CULTIVATING savitakka/savicara.
- Then, as one gets to higher jhana, one totally removes any remaining (bad) vitakka/vicara. Removal of bad vitakka/vicara is indicated by avitakka/avicara, as explained in #12 there.

It is a good idea to read that whole post carefully: "Vitakka, Vicāra, Savitakka, Savicāra, and Avitakka, Avicāra" on March 8, 2019 (p.71):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=1050.
the things you describe there might be ok in your theme, but care to look what real jhana could* be about: wrote: The greedy, the hateful, the delusional, and the conceited.Sarāgo, sadoso, samoho, samāno—
good greed, savittaka is good thought? I don't think so. You don't explain how you got sa to be turning vitakka into good thought. wrote: PTS Pali-English dictionary The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary

Ūhana,(nt.) [fr.ūhanati?] reasoning,consideration,examination Miln.32 (“comprehension” trsl.; as characteristic of manasikāra); Vism.142 = DhsA.114 (“prescinding” trsl.; as characteristic of vitakka).(Page 159)
comprehension.. savitakka = being reasonable. Even tho it is only in milindapañha. But you can see where i came, as sarāgo =greedy so savitakka= being reasonable

*could - because i'm looking for explanation, not things what won't change my mind.

2nd note, did you derive good from the word samma and attached it to savitakka? i dare there is some sort of kindergarten logic and then later it made look complicated by full page of text instead of words actually mean something.

i wanted to say the problem wit the savitakka is different than yours jhana descriptions how you fit savittaka and vitakka into it.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Response to a Sensory Stimulus – Role of Gati/Anusaya

Response to a sensory stimulus is instantaneous with emotions arising automatically. There is NO time lag. That automatic initial response depends on one’s gati (character/habits.) Gati, in turn, depends on one’s anusaya (hidden cravings/defilements.) By the way, the "t" in gati is pronounced like "th" sound in Thailand.

Response to a Sensory Stimulus Comes from the Mind

1. It is not the eyes that see, it is not the ears that hear. It is the mind that sees, hears, tastes, etc. We discussed that in “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis” and “Gandhabba in a Human Body – an Analogy.” It is important to refresh memory on what we discussed in previous posts since we are getting into deeper aspects.

- Let us review that process with a “seeing event.” When eyes capture the image of an object, the brain analyzes that signal and passes over to cakkhu pasāda in the gandhabba. Then the cakkhu pasāda transfers it to the hadaya vatthu (seat of mind) and that is when we experience that particular “seeing event.” That sensory process starts with a rupa coming to contact with the mind. Phassa is the Pali word for that contact.
- Upon receiving that “signal” a citta (loosely translated as a thought) arises with the “seeing sensation.” That is cakkhu viññāna.
- But cakkhu viññāna is much more than taking a picture with a camera. Simultaneously with seeing that image, a set of mental factors arise in the mind. The mind recognizes (saññā) the object and generates some initial “actions.” That involves recalling past experiences with the “manasikāracetasikā and incorporating various other cetasikā like joy (piti) or hate (dosa.)
- In a “hearing event,” one hears a sound when the ears capture a sadda rupa (a sound wave) and that signal makes contact with the mind in a similar process.
- The other three physical senses work the same way. They involve gandha rupa (fragrant molecules entering the nose), rasa rupa (food particles touching the tongue), and phoṭṭhabba rupa (solid objects touching the skin.)

The Sixth Sensory Stimulus Is Dhammā (Memories/Kamma Vipāka)

2. In addition to the five physical sense inputs, there is a sixth sense input DIRECTLY to the mind. Suppose you are in a sound-proof and totally dark isolated room by yourself. Is the only sensation you have the touch of your feet with the floor? No. You can be thinking about anything that you wish. You can recall memories AND THEN think about them. Recalling memories is part of dhammā making contact with the mind (“manañca paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjāti mano viññāṇaṃ”.)

- Dhammā rupa (memories/kamma vipāka) make contact with the hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind) without the help of a pasāda rupa.
- We discussed that process in the last several posts in “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach.” In particular, we discussed that memory preservation and recall involve a transmitter and a receiver in the brain. See, “Autobiographical Memory – Preserved in Nāma Loka,” and “Rupa and Rupakkhandha, Nāma and Nāmagotta.”
- Now, let us take an example to understand some more details of the response to a sensory stimulus. Let us consider a visual input as an example.

Recognition (Saññā) of an object (Ārammana) happens fast

3. 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.

4. 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 much more complicated than just recording “a picture” in a camera.
- 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.”

Within That Split Second, a Complex Process Takes Place

5. 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 register in his mind.

- 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 the response to a sensory stimulus in minute detail. We will discuss only the critical basic features here.

Four Features of a Seeing Event (Cakkhu Viññāna)

6. The “seeing event” has four essential steps:

- First, the rupa in question (rupa rupa, sadda rupa, gandha rupa, rasa rupa, phoṭṭhabba rupa, or a dhamma rupa) comes into contact with the MIND. The initial contact of the external rupa with the mind involves the phassa cetasikā.
- The “event” registers in the mind and one gets into an emotional state (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, which is called sukha, dukha, and upekkha in Pāli.) That is vedanā.
- One recognizes the object, and that is called saññā.
- Fourthly, based on vedanā and saññā, one MAY also generate other mental factors (cetasikā) such as anger, joy. It is the cetanā cetasikā that “incorporates” such mental attributes to the citta.
- A few more cetasikā play key roles in the above processes. Let us briefly address those.

Other Essential Cetasikā Contributing to the Above Process

7. First, it is the jivitindriya cetasikā that keeps the seat of the mind (hadaya vatthu) alive. Then there is ekaggatā cetasikā that keeps the citta focused on ONE sensory input at a time. They are both essential cetasikā.

- The manasikāra cetasikā plays an equally critical role. It RECALLS previous related experiences that “match” or are relevant to the current sensory experience. For example, A in the above example recognizes X as a friend only because A’s mind “scanned through past experiences” and recognized X as a friend. Thus, without the manasikāra cetasikā, the saññā cetasikā could not have identified X.
- Based on that recognition, more cetasikā like joy (piti) can arise, as did in A. On the other hand, paṭigha anusaya in B led to thoughts of anger in B. Of course, C would have different kinds of anusaya too, but none was TRIGGERED by seeing X since X was a total stranger.
- Note: If A or B was an Arahant, that Arahant would also identify X, but no feeling of joy or anger would arise since an Arahant would not have any gati/anusaya left.

Manasikāra and Cetanā – Two Critical Cetasikā That Automatically Trigger Gati/Anusaya

8. The “cetanācetasikā carries out the complex process of incorporating other cetasikā and putting together that citta in response to a sensory stimulus.

- The generic name saṅkhāra represents any combination of such “extra cetasikā“.
- The net result of the sensing process is viññāna. In this example, it is a cakkhu viññāna.
- The four steps in #6 happen in that sequence, but no one but a Buddha can “see” such a fast process.
- All this happens within a billionth of a second DURING the arising of that cakkhu viññāna.

Importance of Recalling Past Experiences

9. To recognize X, one must first recall any possible past interactions with X. It turned out that A and B did have past experiences (interactions) with X, but C did not. The mansikara cetasikā does that in a billionth of a second!

- We discussed how certain areas in the brain (the “receiver”) get that information from the nama loka. See, “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory,” “Memory Recall for Gandhabba in a Human Body,” “Autobiographical Memory – Preserved in Nāma Loka,” and “Rupa and Rupakkhandha, Nāma and Nāmagotta.”
- It is necessary to understand the material in those posts to understand the critical points that I am trying to make in this post. One’s gati/anusaya resides with one’s mental body or gandhabba. That gandhabba is trapped inside the physical body. Unless it can recall past events with the help of the brain, the gandhabba is unable to recognize people. If one cannot identify someone as a friend or foe, feelings of love or anger cannot arise. That is the simplest way to put it.
- There are two special cases where the above point becomes clear. One is that a newborn baby appears to have no “defilements.” The other is a case where critical parts of the brain are damaged. Let us briefly discuss them.

Newborn Baby Has no Hidden Defilements (Anusaya)?

10. It seems that a newborn (or even a year-old) baby has no defilements. That is only because of the following two facts: (1) the baby’s brain has not developed yet, and, (2) the baby has not formed that many relationships yet (other than with the parents.) It has no “sense of self” or “sakkāya.”

- In the beginning of the “Mahā­māluk­ya Sutta (MN 64)“, the Buddha points out this fact that sakkāya diṭṭhi cannot arise in a new-born baby. That is exactly because of what we discussed above. There is no way to trigger the hidden anusaya in that baby.
- To quote the above translation: “For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘identity,’ so how could identity view (sakkāya diṭṭhi) arise in him?

Brain-Damaged People Still Have Anusaya/Gati – They Just Cannot be “Triggered”

11. A person with extensive brain damage is like a newborn baby. The brain is unable to recall memories in response to a sensory stimulus.

- The unfortunate saga of Clive Wearing illustrates the importance of the ability to recall memories. If you have forgotten, you may want to watch the video on Clive Wearing, who lost his memories due to brain damage. The video is at # 10 of “Rupa and Rupakkhandha, Nāma and Nāmagotta.”
- As we see there, Clive just “lives in the present moment.” He cannot think about the past or future (thinking about the future REQUIRES past experiences.) Every person is a total stranger to him (except his wife, but even then he forgets about her too if she is not there with him.)
- Suppose Clive had an arch enemy, Z. Suppose that the enmity was so bad that before the brain damage Clive would get mad even thinking about Z.
- But Z would be a total stranger to Clive after the brain damage. What happens if Clive now goes to a restaurant and Z is sitting at an adjacent table? Since Clive cannot recognize Z (as his enemy,) he would not become angry. Even if Z comes to Clive’s table and say something nasty, Clive would not get angry. Instead, Clive will be puzzled as to why Z is shouting at him.
- Does that mean Clive’s gati and anusaya have disappeared? Of course not. The gandhabba inside would still have the same gati and anusaya that Clive had before the brain damage. It is just that the gandhabba does not recognize Z as an enemy because it is UNABLE to “match” Z as his arch-enemy.
- Thus, understanding the concept of the gandhabba (and how it interacts with the external with the help of the brain) helps clarify many complex issues that otherwise cannot be explained.
- The following #12 through #14 are technical points.

Seven “Universal” Cetasikā

12. ANY citta will ALWAYS have seven cetasikā. A citta would not arise without them.

- Thus, we see that the seven “universal” cetasikā are, phassa, vedanā, saññā, cetanā, manasikāra, jivitindriya, and ekaggatā. Those seven are “universal cetasikā” that arise in ANY citta.
- Other types of cetasikā MAY arise based on one’s gati/anusaya AND the ārammana.

Viññāna Is the Overall Sensory Experience in Response to a Sensory Stimulus

13. Viññāna is the overall sense experience encompassing all those seven cetasikā PLUS all other cetasikā (included in saṅkhāra.)

- But viññāna may also include “future expectations” IF one’s mind attaches to that ārammana. See, “Vinnana – Consciousness Together With Future Expectations” on Dec 21, 2018 (p. 55):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&start=810
- We can safely say that viññāna 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.

Nothing Faster in the World Than the Arising of a Citta

14. 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.”

15. It is essential to understand the concepts of gati and anusaya.
- I have discussed them in various posts here including "The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas)" Oct 25, 2018 (p.43),
Post on habits (Pali word “gati”, but gati is more that habits) on August 18, 2018 (p. 22), and "How Habits are Formed and Broken – A Scientific View",  Nov 28, 2018 (p. 50). More can be found at by entering "gati anusaya" in the search box on the top right.
- Posts in this subsection at “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach” started on Aug 02, 2020 (p. 84):viewtopic.php?p=573863#p573863
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Ārammaṇa Plays a Critical Role in a Sensory Event

Ārammaṇa means the focus of the mind at a given moment. It plays an equally important role as gati/anusaya in response to a sensory stimulus. For example, when you look at someone, that person is the ārammaṇa. When you hear a sound, that sound is the ārammaṇa.

The Role of Gati (Character/Habits) and Anusaya (Latent Defilements)

1. To get started, we need to review what we discussed in the previous post, “Response to a Sensory Stimulus – Role of Gati/Anusaya.” In that post, we discussed the sequence of events that happens within a split second of sensory input. There we used the following example.

Suppose three people A, B, C, are sitting in a small coffee shop. They are all facing the door, and a middle-aged male X walks in. Suppose that person X is a close friend of A, worst enemy of B, and that C does not know X. 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 darkens.
- 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.
- X is the ārammaṇa for A, B, and C in the above case.

2. We made the following critical observations.

- With the help of the manasikāra cetasika, the minds of A, B, and C recalled past events relevant to X within a split-second. Thus, they instantly identified X as friend, enemy, and neutral, respectively.
- Those “good” memories in A trigger rāga anusaya in A and A becomes happy. However, B recalls his “bad memories” with X, which triggers paṭigha anusaya. Of course, C may have various types of anusaya, but X did not trigger any of those since C has had no prior interactions with X (and since X looked like any average person.)

Even Without Prior Specific Interactions, an Ārammaṇa Can Trigger Defiled Thoughts

3. Now, let us consider a different scenario with a different person Y entering the coffee shop. Let us assume that Y is B’s girlfriend, who is quite attractive. Suppose A is not in good terms with Y and that C is a young male who has never seen Y. Now, the ārammaṇa for A, B, and C would be quite different (Y is an attractive female while X was an average middle-aged male.)

- Now, we see that the moods of A and B will reverse. A will be instantaneously unhappy to see Y, and B will be happy to Y.
Regarding C, the situation could be very different too. If Y appears attractive to him, C may instantaneously form a lustful state of mind.
- Even though C had never seen Y before, C got interested and formed lustful feelings about Y. It was NOT a memory of Y that triggered the interest in C. It was his own gati/anusaya to be attracted to a beautiful woman. Of course, he has had interactions with many OTHER women, and those memories were matched in a split-second!

Dependence on the “Thought Object” (Ārammaṇa)

4. Now, we see why a given person does not have a permanently set good or bad mindset. That is related to the fact that there are no fixed gati/anusaya either. The above two examples, A, B, and C, generated very different types of overall mindsets upon seeing X and Y.

- What kind of mindset arises depends on the gati/anusaya of the person AND the sense object (ārammaṇa.)
- The two different ārammaṇa in #1 and #3 triggered two very different gati/anusaya in all three people A, B, and C.

Two Analogies for Anusaya and Ārammaṇa

5. One can get a good idea of the concepts of anusaya and ārammaṇa with the following analogy. Anusaya is like gunpowder. An ārammaṇa like a flame. The gunpowder can stay dormant for a long time, but the gunpowder will ignite if one brings a flame to it.

- For an anariya yogi who had avoided sense attractions for long times, kāma rāga anusaya can be like wet gunpowder. A little flame may not ignite it. But if a flame of sufficient heat can ignite such well-hidden anusaya too. There are accounts in the Tipiṭaka where the sight of an attractive woman (strong ārammaṇa) brought lustful thoughts to anariya yogis and removed their iddhi powers. On the other hand, kāma rāga anusaya in an Arahant cannot be “triggered” by ANY ārammaṇa. Here, the potency of gunpowder has been removed.
- The tendency to get angry is due to paṭigha anusaya. Those with strong paṭigha anusaya can get angry with the slightest provocation or with even a weak ārammaṇa.

6. In another analogy, anusaya is like some mud settled down at the bottom of a glass. The water in the glass looks clean.

- However, that mud will come up if one uses a straw to disturb the water. Now the water would not look clean anymore. Here stirring with a straw is like disturbing a “settled mind” with a strong ārammaṇa.
- In an Arahant, there is no “mud” or any type of anusaya. Thus, “the water in the glass will be clear” no matter how hard one tries to stir it.
- That “mud” was cleansed not in a physical process, but just with wisdom, i.e., just by understanding the real nature of this world (Four Noble Truths/Tilakkhana/Paṭicca Samuppāda.) We will get to that in future posts in this series in a systematic way.
- A Buddha comes to the world to world to teach “how to cleanse the mind by controlling it” (“Sacitta pariyo dapanaṃ.”) See, “Sabba Pāpassa Akaranaṃ….“: ... %e1%b9%83/
- More details on anusaya at “Āsava, Anusaya, and Gati (Gathi).” I will post it here in a few days.

An Average Human Will Have Both Good and Bad Anusaya (and Gati)

7. 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 is “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 to firmly grasp these ideas. That is real vipassanā meditation! The word vipassanā means “special and clear vision” of the true nature of the world.
- One needs to understand how the mind works to make progress on the Path. Only a Buddha can DISCOVER and EXPLAIN the critical role of the MIND.
- Once we understand the fundamentals, it would be easy to analyze ANY given situation. That is why it is worthwhile to spend time and really grasp what we have discussed so far.

Key Points on Gati and Anusaya

8. As we have discussed, anusaya are “latent” or “hidden” tendencies. Even though normally referred to as “latent defilements,” they could be “hidden morals,” too.

- When “bad anusaya” are triggered, one displays bad gati (character/habits). On the other hand, “hidden morals” can be triggered, bringing good gati to the forefront.
- For example, someone could be labeled a hardened criminal because he is mostly engaged in bad deeds with “bad gati" in full display. But good morals in him could be awakened by seeing a child/older person in distress, and he may help them as needed.
- There is no “absolutely good” or “absolutely bad” person other than an Arahant. Any other person would have both good and bad anusaya hidden at various degrees. An Anāgāmi, for example, would have very little “bad anusaya” (and thus “bad gati”) left.

The Role of the Ārammaṇa Can Come in Different Ways

9. Our discussion in #3 shows that the ārammaṇa in question could be something that one had never SPECIFICALLY encountered before. Young men are generally attracted to young women, and vice versa.

- If an ārammaṇa matches one’s gati/anusaya, one will attach to it.
- Suppose someone offers Z a fruit that Z had never seen or tasted. Just by seeing the fruit, Z may not be interested in it unless it looked similar to a fruit he had eaten before.
- However, Z eats it and realizes that he really likes that TASTE. Then Z “falls in love” with that fruit. He would want to eat it in the future whenever he gets a chance.
- That taste in the fruit is a “kāma guṇa.” Guṇa means a “quality” or “a characteristic.” Most people tend to associate the word “kāma” with “sensuality.” However, “kāma” could be anything that is “enticing” or “makes one happy.” We will discuss that in detail in the future.

A Summary of Hadaya Vatthu, Physical Body, Brain, Rupa Loka, and Nāma Loka

10. Let me summarize our discussion so far in this series of posts, “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach.” Life encompasses interplay among the following entities.

- The gandhabba (with the hadaya vatthu and five pasāda rupa) is the thinking entity.
- However, it is trapped inside the physical body and cannot access the external world consisting of two parts. (1) The rupa loka with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. (2) The nāma loka with memories and kamma bija.
- The gandhabba accesses those sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches in rupa loka with the help of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the body. Here, the brain plays a critical role.
- It accesses memories and kamma bija in the nāma loka with the help of a transmitter and receiver in the brain. The brain also processes all those signals from outside and passes them to the gandhabba.
- The gandhabba decides what to do in response to such sensory inputs. The brain implements those commends from the gandhabba by moving body parts (for speech and bodily actions.)

Rupa Loka and Nāma Loka – Two Parts of Our World

11. We have a “mental world (nāma loka)” as well as a “material world (rupa loka).” (1) The “material world” is the same for all of us. (2) But each person creates his/her own “mental world” based on that “material world.”

- A mind experiences both those worlds. It experiences the material world with the help of the five physical senses. The mind experiences the mental world on its own.
- “Things” in the mental world (memories or nāmagotta) come to mind directly (without a corresponding pasāda rupa.) However, the “transmitter” and the “receiver” in the brain play critical roles in that process. They come to the mind as dhammā, which includes our memories and also expectations for the future. We will discuss that latter part (expectations) in the future.
- On the other hand, the five physical senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) help the mind experience those things in the material world.

Nāma Loka is Very Different from the Rupa Loka

12. Nāma loka has no spatial boundaries. That is why we cannot ask, “where are the memories stored”? We ask that wrong question based on our ingrained perceptions of the rupa loka.

- In rupa loka, everything has spatial locations. A tree in the front yard is so many feet away from the house. The great wall is in China, and the Eifel Tower is in Paris, France. To see the Eifel Tower one needs to go to Paris.
- In contrast, our memories do not have spatial locations. We can access memories from ANYWHERE. Whether one is in China or France, one can recall memories. When Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, he was able to recall memories.
- However, both the receiver and transmitter in the brain must be in good condition for the memory to work properly. We discussed the unfortunate cases of Clive Wearing and a few others in recent posts. They were unable to recall parts or all of their memories.
- Our memories and our kamma bija (that can bring vipāka in the future) are also in nāma loka. A given kamma bija (no matter whether created many lives ago) can bring back vipāka ANYWHERE. It does not matter whether one is in China or France. When conditions become right, a kamma bija can bring vipāka.
- We will discuss that in more detail in the next post.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Following is the post that I promised in the last post. We will get back to the discussion on Nāma Loka in the next post.

The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Āsava)

The Law of Attraction

1. The saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,” is true, and we can see that all around us.

- We can put people into various categories: sportsmen/sportswomen, thieves, politicians, murderers, churchgoers, environmentalists, liberals, conservatives, etc.
- In a school, kids tend to get into different groups: those who play sports, like partying, nerds, geeks, etc.
- Of course, there may be some overlaps, but we can clearly see people tend to socialize with those who have common interests, likings, etc.

Those With Similar Character/Habits (Gati) Tend To Stay Together

2. This is a universal principle. A basic rule in chemistry is that “like molecules” stay together.

- We all know that oil and water do not mix. Those two molecules have very different properties (analogous to gati in people.) On the other hand, water molecules stay together happily since they all have the same properties. Same with oil.
- In people, there are “good gati” as well as “bad gati.”
- Just as with water and oil, those with similar gati tend to “stick together.” This is why it essential to stay away from those with “bad gati” and to make an effort to associate with those with “good gati.”

3. Buddha Dhamma describes the laws of nature. So it is not surprising that the law of attraction comes naturally out of Dhamma. There are three keywords in Dhamma that are relevant. (1) Habits/character (gati with the “t” pronounced “th,” like in “three” or in Thailand), (2) cravings (āsavā,) and (3) Hidden cravings (anusaya.) See “Habits and Goals, and Character (Gati).”

- One’s gati are closely related to one’s hidden cravings (anusaya.) Such gati or anusaya “come to the surface” as cravings (āsava) when triggered by sensory input (ārammana.) For example, an alcoholic does not crave drinking all the time. That “drunkard gati” remains hidden as anusaya until he sees an alcohol bottle or is invited to a drink by a friend.
- Some of these habits we take from life-to-life, see, “Saṃsāric Habits, Character (Gati) and Cravings (Āsava).”
- However, it is possible to change even those deeply-ingrained bad gati. The key is to realize the bad consequences of “bad gati” and cultivate “good gati.”

Paṭicca Samuppāda Explains the Law of Attraction

4. The law of attraction can be explained with Paṭicca Samuppāda, the principle of cause and effect in Dhamma. See, “Paṭicca Samuppāda – Introduction.”

- “Pati + iccha” means associate or bind with something one likes. “sama + uppāda” means what results (uppāda) from that is something similar (sama) in kind. That association leads to an outcome of the same kind.
- If a child hangs out willingly and enthusiastically with others who like to work hard and enjoy getting good grades, they will continue on that path to success. The more a child willingly hangs out with a criminal gang, his mind becomes more attuned to criminal behavior and becomes a criminal capable of doing atrocious crimes.
- Thus, in Buddha Dhamma, it says, “gati (character) attracts a similar gati.” We will see this developed into profound meaning.

Environment Plays a Key Role in Changing Gati

5. However, Dhamma says this law of attraction does not need to be fatalistic, i.e., one with a set of bad habits/cravings does not have to go down a slippery slope. One CAN change those habits/cravings GRADUALLY and thus change one’s character (gati).

- However, a child is not capable of doing this on his/her own. That is why it is the parents’ responsibility to direct the child:
- Parents can make a HUGE contribution in setting up good habits/cravings in a child starting from conception. The fetus felts the love and cares the parent feel towards each other. That is as important, perhaps more important than the food consumed by the mother. A child born into an environment of abuse or violence may develop life-long problems.
- As the child grows, the child’s behavior and habits are influenced HUGELY by the parents, friends, and the school environment. It is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to guide the child.

6. When one becomes an adult, one has full control of one’s life (in a mundane sense). Even if the child years were not good, and even if one has acquired a set of bad habits (or even saṃsāric habits that have molded one’s character in fundamental ways), it is POSSIBLE change them.

- One can use the same Paṭicca Samuppāda principle to change direction.
- All one needs to do is change the “pati+ichcha” part, i.e., change one’s likings or habits. Then “sama+uppāda” will happen automatically. That is nature’s law. See, “Paṭicca Samuppāda.”

One Needs to See the Consequences of Bad Gati

7. First, though, one needs to convince one’s own mind that the current path will lead to a bad destiny. That is getting rid of avijjā in the “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” step in Paṭicca Samuppāda. One needs to contemplate the bad consequences of staying on the same wrong path. AND one also needs to contemplate the benefits of cultivating good habits.

- For example, a smoker cannot just make a New Year resolution and stop smoking (a few can, but most cannot). Instead, it is better first to look at all the medical evidence out there.
- There is strong evidence that one could die early and may be burdened in old age with lung problems if one continues smoking. One could talk to someone who has given up smoking and listen to that person’s “success story” or think about not seeing the annoyance of those around when one lights a cigarette, etc.

Cultivating Good Gati

8. When one acquires “good habits” (initially slowly and with effort), one is attracted to people, settings, workplaces, environments that further nurture and grow those habits, which in turn change one’s character. Thus, the process becomes self-feeding once started.

- This is the law of attraction embedded in Paṭicca Samuppāda: “pati+ichcha,” leading to “sama+uppāda.” Thus it is critical to developing a liking (chanda) and desire (citta) for what one wants to accomplish, and to critically analyze the situation (vīmaṃsā), and make an effort (viriya); see, “The Four Bases of Mental Power (Satara Iddhipada).”
- When one embraces certain ways and activities (good or bad), those become habits. In Sinhala, it is said that “නිතර කරන දෙය ගති වෙනවා.” When one keeps doing this repeatedly and possibly over numerous rebirths, they get deeply embedded as deep-seated cravings (āsavā). Those gati (character) also become “bhava” as well. Whatever that is liked becomes one’s existence (bhava) or reality (in Sinhala, “තිබෙන බව”).
- When one has a certain character (gati), it becomes easy to get into the corresponding “state” or existence; this is one meaning of bhava. For example, one with a “drinking habit” is easy to be “born” in that state, i.e., just the sight of a bar may cause that person to get drunk. This is the concept extended in Buddha Dhamma. It is easy to be “born” with those characteristics in the new birth (uppatti bhava) or even in the present life (pavutti bhava). This a bit deeper concept discussed in the Paṭicca samuppāda section. See, for example, “Akusala-Mula Paṭicca Samuppāda.”

Need to Have Patience

9. The problem many people run into is that they would like to change quickly, which does not normally happen. Initial progress could be slow. However, when one gets traction, the process speeds up. It is like trying to reverse the direction of a moving car. One needs to stop going in the wrong direction first. Even when one starts the car facing the right direction, it takes a little while to accelerate and ramp up the speed. See “Habits, Goals, and Character (Gati)” and the links there. Let us consider two examples:

- If one wants to be a successful businessman, then one should try to “build up” habits that business people have: knowledge of the particular business, learning relevant skills, hard work, etc. THEN the law of attraction starts working and will pull one to others with similar interests and environments or conditions automatically.
- If a high-school kid wants to go to college, then he/she should make an effort to get into that mindset. Spending more time deciding what kinds of subjects to study and then get “immersed” in it. The parent and teachers can make a big difference by encouraging and guiding in the correct path.
- If someone wants to attain “nirāmisa sukha” (see, “Three Kinds of Happiness – What is Niramisa Sukha?“), one needs to spend some time and first learn the true Dhamma. As one learns, one gets motivated to learn more because one will start feeling the character’s change (gati).

Managing Gati is the First Step to Nibbāna

10. Finally, the law of attraction works in the saṃsāric rebirth process too.

- Many are reborn to the same families, same geographic locations, etc. (within the same “bhava.” See, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“).
- At the moment of death, one’s mind automatically grasps a “matching birth” according to one’s kamma vipāka, and also one’s habits and tendencies. One who has lived an immoral life is likely to get a similar outcome in the next life. Someone who “lives like an animal” is likely to be born an animal. One who lives like a “Deva” (a being devoid of hate) or a “Brahma” (a being devoid of greed and hate) is likely to reborn a Deva, Brahma.
- Thus by cultivating good habits and getting rid of bad habits, one CAN change the direction of one’s current life (character) AND future lives too.
- The best way to do this is to be mindful all the time. See the bad consequences of bad actions and bad habits, avoid them; see the good consequences of good actions and good habits, and embrace them. At the fundamental level, this is the basis of Ānāpānasati and Satipaṭṭhāna Bhavanā (taking in what is good and getting rid of what is bad.) See, “9. Key to Ānapānasati – How to Change Habits and Character (Gati).”

11. Currently, several books are available on the law of attraction and how one can use certain procedures to attain goals, build relationships, etc. The Buddha described those and more 2500 years ago.
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