The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Does Gandhabba Mean “Semen”?

Gandhabba (manomaya kāya), related to paṭisandhi viññāṇa, is a cornerstone concept in Buddhism (Buddha Dhamma.) This essay critiques a recent online discussion with the above title.


1. I wrote this essay after reading an essay by Bhikkhu Sujāto and the ensuing discussion: “Does gandhabba mean “semen”?” ( ... emen/26734) It is truly saddening to read the essay and the follow-up discussion. There are so many problems with this essay. I will address only three glaring issues.

(i) The first mistake is to define a sentient being with just the rupa aggregate (in this case, semen.)
(ii) Trying to make sense of the term “gandhabba” using Vedic literature.
(iii) Not comprehending paṭisandhi viññāṇa (and even the general concept of viññāṇa.)

The essay was written on October 24, 2022, and the mindless discussion (based on “semen” as the “seed of life”) continues as of today, November 7, 2022. We will first look at the three items listed above.

Rupa (or Rupa Aggregate) Alone Cannot Define a Lifestream in Rebirth Process

2. A sentient being (lifestream) is ALWAYS associated with five aggregates of rupa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.

- All five aggregates may not arise at all times for a living being. For example, only a rupa manifests for a being in the asañña realm because no thoughts arise there.
- However, “past components” of all five aggregates are associated with that asañña satta (being.) Five aggregates DEFINE a living being who has been in the rebirth process from a “beginningless beginning.”
- Semen has only the rupa aggregate. Where is the connection to paṭisandhi viññāṇa in semen?

Trying to Explain Buddha Dhamma with Vedic Literature

3. Vedic literature uses the Sanskrit word “gandharva.” The author of the essay that started the discussion, Bhikkhu Sujāto, spends most of his essay quoting the Upanishads.

- That leads to more confusion than clarity. It is like explaining Paṭicca Samuppada in Buddha Dhamma by discussing “Pratītyasamutpāda,” ( ... tp%C4%81da) the Vedic version.
- The Buddha spent much time trying to dispel wrong views like those. So, why even discuss Vedic literature?
- I think I know the answer. The author cannot connect paṭisandhi viññāṇa and gandhabba (manomaya kāya.) Thus, he is trying to incorporate things he has learned about gandharva from the Vedas, trying to make sense!

Does the Author Understand Viññāṇa and Paṭisandhi Viññāṇa?

4. The third point is the following. Bhikkhu Sujāto, as well as most English translators of the Tipiṭaka, first need to understand that Pāli words in the Tipiṭaka can have very different meanings depending on the context. To take just one example, viññāṇa SHOULD NOT be translated as “consciousness” in all the suttās. They are still doing it to this date! See “Distortion of Pāli Keywords in Paṭicca Samuppāda.” ... ha-dhamma/. This was posted a couple of weeks ago here at DW. You can look at the chart I posted in my previous post (Nov. 4, 2022) for a quick review.

- They should first understand the difference between vipāka viññāṇa (one of the six types of consciousness: cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya, mano) and kamma viññāṇa, which is more than “consciousness”!
- Paṭisandhi viññāṇa is a special type of a kamma viññāṇa.
- Now, let us discuss some key concepts in Buddha Dhamma that can shine some light on this issue.

Any Viññāṇa Cannot Exist by Itself Without a Rupa

5. Viññāṇa (including the paṭisandhi viññāṇa in this case) CANNOT arise or be sustained without a rupa.

- Several suttās in SN 22 clearly state “coming and going of (kamma)viññāṇa, its passing away and reappearing, its growth, increase, and maturity” cannot happen in the absence of the other four aggregates (rupa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra). See the “Upaya Sutta (SN 22.53)” ( ... =latin#2.2) I have linked to the specific verse.
- Therefore, a rupa (made of suddhāṭṭhaka) MUST be present to accompany the paṭisandhi viññāṇa, i.e., “a paṭisandhi viññāṇa cannot descend to a womb” without accompanied by a rupa. That is the requirement for a gandhabba!
- Another specific reference is “1.6. Gatikathā” ( ... =latin#4.1) of the Paṭisambhidāmagga, which states, “Paṭisandhikkhaṇe pañcakkhandhā sahajātapaccayā honti,..” or “At the moment of Paṭisandhi all five aggregates (pañcakkhandhā) arise together (sahajāta)..”
- Translating “paṭisandhi viññāṇa descending to a womb” literally as “rebirth-consciousness descending to a womb” is similar to the error of translating viññāṇa as consciousness in all situations, as pointed out in “Distortion of Pāli Keywords in Paṭicca Samuppāda.” One needs to have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of Buddha Dhamma to correctly translate “succinct (uddēsa) verses” in some suttas. See “Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa.”

Gandhabba (Manomaya Kāya) Is Related to Paṭisandhi Viññāṇa

6. Gandhabba (or manomaya kāya) is born when a being’s present existence (bhava) ends, and a new existence is grasped at the cuti-paṭisandhi moment. Cuti means the end of the current existence, and paṭisandhi is grasping another.

- For example, the moment of the end of human existence is the end of a lifetime for that human gandhabba (manomaya kāya) which could be many thousands of years. That gandhabba may be born with many such physical bodies within its lifetime. Between “two consecutive human bodies,” that lifestream is in the gandhabba state, with an invisible “manomaya kāya.”
- A manomaya kāya of a human has seven suddhāṭṭhaka-size rupa: hadaya vatthu, five pasāda rupa, and bhava dasaka. When that human has a physical human body, the gandhabba is inside it. As explained in the “Mahārāhulovāda Sutta (MN 62),” ( ... ript=latin) the physical body itself is lifeless unless a gandhabba is inside; see “Mahārāhulovāda Sutta and Ānāpānasati” posted on Oct 31, 2022 (last week).
- The cuti citta is immediately followed by the paṭisandhi citta that grasps the next existence. Thus, that paṭisandhi citta is the paṭisandhi viññāṇa (viññāṇa arising at the moment which grasps the next existence.)

7. Simultaneous with grasping the new existence (with paṭisandhi viññāṇa), kammic energy creates the manomaya kāya of the next existence. Regardless of the next existence, certain essential constituents are in that manomaya kāya, including a hadaya vatthu, the seat of mind for the next existence. It is “an energized suddhāṭṭhaka.” See #4 of “Manomaya Kāya (Gandhabba) and the Physical Body” ( ... ical-body/) and “Gandhabba – Only in Human and Animal Realms.” ... al-realms/

- For example, if the next existence is an arupāvacara Brahma, its manomaya kāya will have only a hadaya vatthu. That is the only rupa that Brahma would have. A rupāvacara Brahma will have hadaya vatthu and two pasāda rupa (cakkhu and sota), thus enabling it to see and hear. Devās will have seven suddhāṭṭhaka-size rupa, just like humans. But they also have instantaneous births (just like the Brahmās); thus, the term gandhabba is not used for any of those (Brahmās and Devās.)


Click to open the pdf file: Births in Different Realms ... alms-1.jpg

- Animals are more similar to humans, with the arising of an “animal gandhabba” at the paṭisandhi moment. That gandhabba will be born with a physical body by getting into a womb in the case of apes, dogs, etc., or an egg as in the case of chickens.

8. Everything within the Pāli Tipiṭaka is self-consistent. There is no need to resort to numerous ancient literature just because they exist. Many people believe that expanding to Vedic literature will show one’s scholarship. But for those who are interested in learning the actual teachings of the Buddha, those are distractions.

- If people find contradictions within the Tipiṭaka (as many do in discussion forums), it is due to a lack of understanding of basic concepts.
- I laid out the problem in translating viññāṇa as consciousness in the post “Distortion of Pāli Keywords in Paṭicca Samuppāda” posted here on Oct 22, 2022.
- How can anyone explain deeper concepts like gandhabba or many suttās on deep concepts without understanding viññāṇa?

Comparison to Author's Previous Translations

9. Bhikkhu Sujāto starts the essay by quoting a verse in the “Assalāyana Sutta (MN 93)” ... atin#18.61(I have linked to that verse)

Idha mātāpitaro ca sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca paccupaṭṭhito hoti; evaṁ tiṇṇaṁ sannipātā gabbhassa avakkanti hotī’ti.”

His translation: “An embryo is conceived when these three things come together—the mother and father come together, the mother is in the fertile part of her menstrual cycle, and the spirit being reborn is present.”

So, he has translated “gandhabba” as “the spirit being reborn.”

10. The second sutta that he mentioned in his opening essay, “Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta (MN 38)” ... latin#26.2 (I have linked to the same verse as in #9 above)

- His translation is the same as in #9 above.
- Note that there is no explanation of what that “spirit” is!

11. But after discussing the Upanishad‘s description of “gandharva” he has now changed his mind. To quote from the end of the essay (posted on October 24, 2022):

“Thus we should translate something like:
An embryo is conceived when these three things come together—the mother and father come together, the mother is in the fertile part of her menstrual cycle, and the virile spirit is potent.”
- Note that he has now changed his mind about the translations of MN 93 and MN 38 of the Pāli word “gandhabba” from “the spirit being reborn” to “the virile spirit is potent.”
- What made him to change his mind?

12. During the discussion, Bhikkhu Sujāto wrote: “The biggest single problem with the later Buddhist idea that “gandhabba = rebirth consciousness” is that there is then little role for the man.”

- He got a resolution from the Upanishads!
- To quote from that essay: “Rebirth has a cosmic and organic dimension that is absent from Buddhism. The Kausitiki says “the soul is produced from semen”. The atman is a complex and many-facted idea in the Upanishads, but it is crucial to understand that there is an important thread that sees the individual atman as a quasi-physical entity that is passed to the mother through the semen. It goes without saying that the mother is regarded as merely the incubator of the embryo, not as the source of its atman.”


13. To summarize Bhikkhu Sujāto’s essay: The “three things” needed for an embryo to be conceived are – the mother and father come together, the mother is in the fertile part of her menstrual cycle, and semen (virile spirit) from the father!

- He may still believe that paṭisandhi viññāṇa needs to “get in” for the conception (even though he left out paṭisandhi viññāṇa in the essay.) However, that still is not compatible with #5 above. It is a gandhabba that “gets in” or “merges with” the zygote produced by the mother’s egg and father’s sperm; see “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception.“ ... ha-dhamma/
- As discussed in #8 of “Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipiṭaka“ the bhāva dasaka – an indicator of the sex of the baby — also “descends to the womb” at the moment of conception. A gandhabba kāya consists of 7 suddhāṭṭhaka; see #9 of “Gandhabba – Only in Human and Animal Realms.”
- Thus, the correct summary is: The “three things” needed for an embryo to be conceived are – the mother and father come together to produce a zygote, the mother is in the fertile part of her menstrual cycle, and a gandhabba created by paṭisandhi viññāṇa! That gandhabba may have been created by kammic energy (in paṭisandhi viññāṇa) even years ago!

14. To illustrate this critical point, let us consider the following case. Suppose a Deva dies (at the end of Deva bhava) and is reborn a human in New York. That Deva grasps the human bhava while in that Deva realm (far above the Earth) with a paṭisandhi viññāṇa. Is he saying that the paṭisandhi viññāṇa then “descends” to the womb in New York at the moment of death of the Deva?

- No. All five aggregates must arise simultaneously at the moment of paṭisandhi (see #5 above.) A human gandhabba (with rupa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa) shows up in the human realm at the moment that Deva dies (Here, rupa means the hadaya vatthu (seat of mind) and a set of pasāda rupa in the manomaya kāya of gandhabba.) Getting into a womb can happen even years later. Uncountable Gandhabbas are waiting for a womb!
- Conception in New York can occur precisely at that moment of paṭisandhi (unlikely) or much later (usually).
- The problem is not understanding that grasping human bhava happens at the cuti-paṭisandhi moment (with the creation of a gandhabba by kammic energy). In contrast, birth with a human body () starts later when that gandhabba enters a womb. See “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.” ... s-therein/
- For a Tipiṭaka-based discussion on gandhabba with many sutta references, see “Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipiṭaka.“ I will post it here in a few days.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by rajitha7 »

Hello Lal,

Hope things are well. I have a science question if you have some time.

Can you let me know if

Avakasha = Ether

to form a sankata

Taking the formula -> e = mc2

e (Bhuta/Wave) -> vinnana -> mc2 (Dhatu/Particle) (Inside Ether)

in order to make a sankata, the vinnana takes on Bhuta (Wave) thus producing (Dhatu/Particle) ?

is this a possible explaination from a scientific point of veiw?

It's all -> here
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Hello Rajitha,

The "Ether (Aether) theory" was proposed by Newton, who proposed that an unspecified substance (ether) permeates space.
- But, that was shown to be incorrect by the Michelson–Morley experiment (1887).
- Following that, Einstein confirmed the absence of "ether" with his theories on relativity.
- So, modern science has rejected that theory. See "Luminiferous aether"

Your other proposal: "Taking the formula -> e = mc2
e (Bhuta/Wave) -> vinnana -> mc2 (Dhatu/Particle) (Inside Ether)
in order to make a sankata, the vinnana takes on Bhuta (Wave), thus producing (Dhatu/Particle) ?"

That is correct. It is the "kamma vinnana" (not "vipaka vinnana") generated via "avijja paccaya sankhara" and 'sankhara paccaya vinnana" that is the root of "creation of matter". Therefore, it is the mind that is ultimately responsible!
- Suddhatthaka (with the four maha bhutas) are produced in javana citta of "kamma vinnana."
- That is why the Buddha taught "Manōpubbangamā Dhammā.." Further details in ... ma-dhamma/

I opened the following thread for questions for me: "Questions/Comments on the Teachings of Waharaka Thero" viewtopic.php?t=42520
- Please ask any further questions or comments there. You are also still registered at the Pure Dhamma discussion forum. You can ask questions there too.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by rajitha7 »

Lal wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 1:50 pm - But, that was shown to be incorrect by the Michelson–Morley experiment (1887).
So what is Avakasa? Is it just space not in a vacuum?

Thank you
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

The following is the post I promised in the post on "Does Gandhabba Mean 'Semen'?" on Nov 07, 2022. This comprehensive analysis is based solely on the Tipiṭaka. There is no need to discuss Vedic concepts that were rejected by the Buddha. The following analysis may be too technical for some, but it is imperative to compile a comprehensive analysis that can withstand scrutiny and illustrate the self-consistency of the Tipiṭaka.

Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipiṭaka


1. I will present extensive evidence from the Tipiṭaka that the gandhabba state is necessary for human (and animal) bhava. It is not an antarabhava (a state“in-between two bhava“). It is within the same human bhava.

- One’s mental body (gandhabba or manōmaya kāya) controls the physical body.
- Gandhabba will be alive through many successive human births within a human bhava (which can last thousands of years). When a given physical body dies, gandhabba can enter another womb when a matching one becomes available. Rebirth accounts confirm that mechanism. There are multiple births (jāti) within a human existence (bhava.)
- However, the gandhabba concept is different from the idea of a “soul.” A gandhabba (manomaya kāya) will keep changing during its lifetime. Furthermore, it will die at the end of human bhava, and a brand new manōmaya kāya for another existence (Deva, animal, etc.) will take place.

Clear Evidence from Paṭṭhāna

2. Those who believe that paṭisandhi takes place in a womb need to consult the “Paṭṭhānapakaraṇa” a section on Abhidhamma Piṭaka in the Tipiṭaka. ... ript=latin

- Paṭisandhi is the moment of grasping a new bhava, for example, a human bhava. At that moment, a human gandhabba is born.
- That gandhabba gets into a womb later, and that event is okkanti. Human bhava is long, many thousands of years, and that is the lifetime of a human gandhabba. During that time, many okkanti events could lead to rebirths with “physical human bodies.”
- Paṭisandhi takes place with kamma paccaya and okkanti takes place with sahajāta paccaya.
- We know that birth in the human realm (paṭisandhi) is rare. However, once in the human realm, a human gandhabba can be reborn with different “physical bodies” (via many okkanti events.) Otherwise, how can we account for so many rebirth accounts by children?


3. At the Third Buddhist Council, Moggaliputta Tissa Thēro proved that there is no antarābhava in a debate with the Mahāyānists. That correct interpretation is in the Kathavatthu of the Tipiṭaka.

- Most current Thervādins erroneously believe that the gandhabba state is an “antarābhava” state. That is incorrect; see “Antarabhava and Gandhabba” ( ... gandhabba/) and “Cuti-Patisandhi – An Abhidhamma Description.“ ( ... scription/)
- A human gandhabba exists within the human bhava.

4. A critical factor contributing to this erroneous belief that the gandhabba state is an “antarābhava” is the inability to distinguish between bhava and jāti. They erroneously believe that paṭisandhi takes place in the womb. But it is evident in the sutta passages above that it is okkanti (of the gandhabba) that happens, not paṭisandhi.

- A human existence (bhava) could last many thousands of years. Many human births (jāti) can occur during that time; see “Bhava and jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.” ... s-therein/
- In rebirth accounts, there is always a “time gap” (typically several years) between successive human births (jāti). Between those successive lives, that lifestream lives as a gandhabba without a physical body.
- Even during a given human life (jāti), the gandhabba may come out of the physical body under certain conditions, see “Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Manōmaya Kāya.” ... ience-obe/
- The human bhava is hard to attain; see “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm“): ... ble-truth/. However, there can be many births within a given human bhava until the kammic energy for that human bhava runs out. Otherwise, how can one explain all these rebirth accounts, where a human is reborn only a few years after dying in the previous human life?

5. I understand the reluctance of many to discard the deeply embedded idea that gandhabba is a Mahāyāna concept. I used to have that wrong view too. But as I have discussed above, many things will be left unexplained, and many inconsistencies will exist without the concept of gandhabba.

- Most notably, rejecting the idea of a gandhabba (i.e., the existence of a para loka) is a micchā diṭṭhi. Thus one cannot even become a Sotāpanna Anugami with that micchā diṭṭhi; see “Micchā Diṭṭhi, Gandhabba, and Sotāpanna Stage” ( ... nna-stage/) and “Hidden World of the Gandhabba: Netherworld (Para Lōka).” ( ... -paraloka/) So, I urge everyone to sift through the evidence and make informed decisions.
- More evidence is in many other posts on There are two subsections of the gandhabba state: “Mental Body – Gandhabba” and “Gandhabba (Manomaya Kaya).”
- One can also use the “Search” box on the top right to locate all relevant posts by typing “gandhabba.”
- A simple description of human conception is in “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception.” ( ... ha-dhamma/) It could be helpful to read that first.

Three Conditions for Conception per Suttas

6. The Buddha has described how three conditions must be satisfied for a conception to take place. That includes how a gandhabba (nominative case is gandhabbō) descending to the womb. For example, in the “Mahā Tanhāsankhaya Sutta (MN 38)“( ... latin#26.1): “..Tiṇṇaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, sannipātā gabbhas­sā­vakkanti hoti. Idha mātāpitaro ca sannipatitā honti, mātā ca na utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca na paccupaṭṭhito hoti, neva tāva gabbhas­sā­vakkanti hoti. Idha mātāpitaro ca sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca na paccupaṭṭhito hoti, neva tāva gabbhas­sā­vakkanti hoti. Yato ca kho, bhikkhave, mātāpitaro ca sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca paccupaṭṭhito hoti—evaṃ tiṇṇaṃ sannipātā gabbhas­sā­vakkanti hoti. Tamenaṃ, bhikkhave, mātā nava vā dasa vā māse gabbhaṃ kucchinā pariharati mahātā saṃsayena garubhāraṃ..“.

Here is the English translation from the Sutta Central website in the above link (I have slightly modified it): “..Bhikkhus, the descent to the womb takes place through the union of three things. Here, there is the union of the mother and father, but the mother is not in season, and the gandhabba is not present—in this case, no descent of an embryo takes place. Here, there is the union of the mother and father, and the mother is in season, but the gandhabba is not present—in this case, too, no embryo can result. All three following conditions must be met. Union of the mother and father, the mother is in season, and a gandhabba is present. That leads to the formation of an embryo. The mother then carries the embryo in her womb for nine or ten months with much anxiety, as a heavy burden..”.

- Even though the venerable Bhikkhus who manage the Sutta Central website do not believe in the concept of a gandhabba, they have at least correctly translated most of the Pāli verse.
- By the way, the Sutta Central site is a valuable resource. It provides access to not only the Pāli version but also translations into several languages. I encourage everyone to contribute to that website to maintain that valuable database.
- However, one must remember that some critical Pāli terms are mistranslated there. Those include anicca as impermanence and anatta as “no-self.” Furthermore, translating complex Pāli words like viññāna and saṅkhāra as just single words in English can lead to severe problems.

7. In the “Assalāya­na Sutta (MN 93)“ ( ... atin#18.57), there is more evidence that for conception to occur, a gandhabba needs to descend into the mother’s womb at the right time. That needs to happen within a few days of the parents’ union, and it needs to be during the mother’s season.

Here, the Buddha explains to Assalayaṃa how the seer Asita Devala questioned seven brahmanā who had the wrong view that they were heirs to Mahā Brahmā. Here are the questions that seer Asita Devala asked:

Jānanti pana bhonto—yathā gabbhassa avakkanti hotī’ti? “
- “But do you, sirs, know how there is a conception in the womb?”

Jānāma mayaṃ, bho—yathā gabbhassa avakkanti hoti ‘ti. Jānāma mayaṃ, bho – yathā gabbhassa avakkanti hoti. Idha mātāpitaro ca sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca paccupaṭṭhito hoti; evaṃ tiṇṇaṃ sannipātā gabbhassa avakkanti hotī’ti”.
- ‘We do know, sir, how there is conception. There is coitus of the parents, it is the mother’s season, and a gandhabba is present; it is on the conjunction of these three things that there is conception.’

Jānanti pana bhonto—taggha so gandhabbo khattiyo vā brāhmaṇo vā vesso vā suddo vā’ti?“.
- “But do you, sirs, know whether that gandhabba is a noble, brahman, merchant, or worker?”

Na mayaṃ, bho, jānāma—taggha so gandhabbo khattiyo vā brāhmaṇo vā vesso vā suddo vā’ti“.
- “We do not know, sir, whether that gandhabba is a noble, brahman, merchant, or worker.”

Therefore, the concept of a gandhabba was accepted even by other yōgis in Buddha’s time.

8. In the “Mahā Nidāna Sutta (DN 15)“ ( ... latin#21.1): “..Viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpan’ti iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ, tadānanda, imināpetaṃ pariyāyena veditabbaṃ, yathā viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṃ. Viññāṇañca hi, ānanda, mātukucchismiṃ na okkamissatha, api nu kho nāmarūpaṃ mātukucchismiṃ samuccissathā” ti?No hetaṃ, Bhante.” “Viññāṇañca hi, ānanda, mātukucchismiṃ okkamitvā vokkamissatha, api nu kho nāmarūpaṃ itthattāya abhi­nib­bat­tis­sathā” ti?No hetaṃ, Bhante.”

Translation: “.With consciousness as a condition, there is mentality-materiality (nāmarūpa). How that is so, Ānanda, should be understood in this way: If viññāṇa were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would mentality-materiality (nama rūpa) take shape in the womb?” “Certainly not, venerable sir.” “If the descended viññāṇa were to depart, would mentality-materiality be generated into this present state of being?” “Certainly not, venerable sir.”

- Here, it is clear that by “a viññāṇa descending to the womb,” the Buddha meant the descent of the manōmaya kaya (gandhabba), not the paṭisandhi citta. A paṭisandhi viññāṇa cannot come out (depart) of the womb! In #12 below, I will present evidence that the other four khandhas always accompany viññāna. That includes the rupakkhandha (and a gandhabba has all five khandhas).
- That is clear from the verse at marker 21.6, which says that “viññāṇa” has determined the sex of the baby (“kumārakassa vā kumārikāya vā” or “boy or girl.”) As pointed out in #12 below, a paṭisandhi viññāṇa(or any kamma viññāṇa) cannot exist without a rupa (i.e., at least a suddhāṭṭhaka.) - In this case, the bhāva dasaka (which indicates the sex of the child) also “descends to the womb” together with hadaya vatthu and pasāda rupa in the gandhabba.
- The Pāli word “Okkanti” is often mistranslated as “rebirth.” But it means the “descend” of an already formed manōmaya kaya (gandhabba). Rebirth happens (and a gandhabba is born) within a thought moment, at the cuti-paṭisandhi moment; see “Cuti-Patisandhi – An Abhidhamma Description.“ ... scription/

Further Details from Suttas

9. In the “Kutuhala Sutta (SN 44.9)“ ( ... =latin#6.4), Vacca asked the Buddha, “..Yasmiñca pana, bho gotama, samaye imañca kāyaṃ nikkhipati, satto ca aññataraṃ kāyaṃ anupapanno hoti, imassa pana bhavaṃ gotamo kiṃ upādānasmiṃ paññāpetī”ti? OR “..and, Master Gotama, when a being has given up this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, what food does it consume?”

- The Buddha answered, “..Yasmiṃ kho, Vacha, samaye imañca kāyaṃ nikkhipati, satto ca aññataraṃ kāyaṃ anupapanno hoti, tamahāṃ taṇhūpādānaṃ vadāmi“. OR “..“When, Vaccha, a being has given up this body but has not yet been reborn in another body, I declare that it uses craving as food.”
- Thus, when a gandhabba leaves one physical and is not yet reborn in another body, its life is sustained by taṇhā (craving). That is similar to a rupi Brahma using piti (mental happiness) as food. Both gandhabbā and rupi Brahmās have subtle bodies (smaller than an atom in modern science; only a few suddhāshtaka). However, some gandhabbās can inhale odors for food and become relatively denser.

10. In the “Sangiti Sutta (DN 33)“ ( ... n#1.11.175), it is described how a gandhabba can enter a womb in four ways: “..Catasso gabbhā­vakkan­tiyo. Idhāvuso, ekacco asampajāno mātukucchiṃ okkāmati, asampajāno mātukucchismiṃ ṭhāti, asampajāno mātukucchimhā nikkhamati, ayaṃ paṭhamā gabbhāvakkanti. Puna caparaṃ, āvuso, idhekacco sampajāno mātukucchiṃ okkāmati, asampajāno mātukucchismiṃ ṭhāti, asampajāno mātukucchimhā nikkhamati, ayaṃ dutiyā gabbhāvakkanti. Puna caparaṃ, āvuso, idhekacco sampajāno mātukucchiṃ okkāmati, sampajāno mātukucchismiṃ ṭhāti, asampajāno mātukucchimhā nikkhamati, ayaṃ tatiyā gabbhāvakkanti. Puna caparaṃ, āvuso, idhekacco sampajāno mātukucchiṃ okkāmati, sampajāno mātukucchismiṃ ṭhāti, sampajāno mātukucchimhā nikkhamati, ayaṃ catutthā gabbhāvakkanti“.

Translation: “…Four ways of entering a womb. Herein, bhikkhus, one unknowingly descends into the mother’s womb, abides there unknowing, and departs thence unknowing. That is the first class of conception. Another descends deliberately but abides and departs unknowingly. Another descends and abides deliberately but departs unknowingly. Lastly, another descends, abides, and departs knowingly“.

- That is okkanti (descending of the gandhabba) into the womb (gabba), as described in the Maha Tanhasankhaya Sutta discussed above.
- Almost the same description is in the “Sam­pasā­da­nīya Sutta (DN 28)“ ( ... ript=latin). Another relevant sutta is “Titthāyatana Sutta (AN 3.61).” ... ript=latin

11. It is a Bodhisattva in the last birth that “.. descends, abides and departs the womb knowingly”, the fourth way of entering a womb, mentioned above.

- In the “Mahāpadāna Sutta (DN 14)“ ( ... tin#1.17.1): “..Atha kho, bhikkhave, vipassī bodhisatto tusitā kāyā cavitvā sato sampajāno mātukucchiṃ okkami. Ayamettha dhammatā“.
- Translated: “…Now Vipassī bodhisattva, bhikkhus, left the Tusita realm and descended into his mother’s womb mindful and knowingly. That is a law of nature.”
- At the cuti-paṭisandhi moment in the Tusita realm, the deva died, and a human gandhabba was born, who entered the mother’s womb on Earth.
- That sutta describes in detail the last seven Buddhas, including Buddha Gotama, who have appeared in our cakkāvāla within the past 31 mahā kappa (great eons). English translation of the Sutta at Sutta Central provides a helpful summary in a table. ... ript=latin
- However, in this sutta, gabbhā­vakkan­tiyo and okkami are mistranslated at Sutta Central.

Patisandhi Viññāna Same as Gandhabba

12. In the “Bija Sutta (SN 22.54)“ ( ... =latin#3.2), it is clear that viññāna cannot exist or “travel” without the other four aggregates, including the rupakkhandha: “..Yo, bhikkhave, evaṃ vadeyya: ‘ahamaññatra rūpā aññatra vedanāya aññatra saññāya aññatra saṅkhārehi viññāṇassa āgatiṃ vā gatiṃ vā cutiṃ vā upapattiṃ vā vuddhiṃ vā virūḷhiṃ vā vepullaṃ vā paññāpessāmī’ti, netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjāti“.

Bhikkhus, I say that it is impossible for viññāṇa to exist, to grow, and to move at rebirth in the absence of form, feeling, perception, and saṅkhāra.”

- Therefore, descending of a paṭisandhi viññāna to a womb MUST be accompanied by all five khandas, which is the kammaja kāya of the gandhabba. Viññāna can never exist without a rūpa; even the Brahmās in arupa realms have hadaya vatthu, a suddhāshtaka made of four mahā bhuta.
- Another specific reference is “1.6. Gatikathā” ( ... =latin#4.1) of the Paṭisambhidāmagga, which states, “Paṭisandhikkhaṇe pañcakkhandhā sahajātapaccayā honti,..” or “At the moment of Paṭisandhi all five aggregates (pañcakkhandhā) arise together (sahajāta)..” There is a detailed description of paṭisandhi in that link from markers 4.1 through 4.9.

Antarāparinibbayi State and Gandhabba

13. The first seven samyōjana include kāma rāga, rūpa rāga, and arūpa rāga. In the absence of those three samyōjana, one cannot be reborn in any of the 31 realms in the kāma, rūpa, and arūpa lōka. For a discussion on samyōjana, see “Dasa Samyōjana – Bonds in Rebirth Process.” ... h-process/

- When a person dies, the gandhabba comes out of the dead body. If that person had removed the first seven samyōjana by the time he died, that gandhabba could not grasp a bhava in any of the 31 realms.
- However, since the last three samyōjana of māna, uddacca, and avijjā are still there, that person will not be able to attain Parinibbāna either. In other words, gandhabba cannot die either.
- “That person” will remain in the gandhabba state until his kammic energy for the human bhava runs out. That is called the “Anatarāpainibbiyāni” state.
- That is discussed in the “Samyojana Sutta (AN 4:131)“ ( ... =latin#7.1): “..Katamassa, bhikkhave, puggalassa orambhāgiyāni saṃyojanāni pahīnāni, upapat­ti­paṭi­lābhi­yāni saṃyojanāni pahīnāni, bhava­paṭi­lābhi­yāni saṃyojanāni appahīnāni? Antarā­pari­nib­bā­yissa”.
- The first five samyojanā are called orambhāgiyā saṃyojanā. Rūpa rāga and arūpa rāga are collectively called upapat­ti­paṭi­lābhi­yā saṃyojanā, and māna, uddacca, avijjā are collectively called bhava­paṭi­lābhi­yā samyōjana.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Preservation of the Buddha Dhamma

Tipiṭaka – The Pāli Canon

1. After the passing away of the Buddha, his teachings were handed down verbally from one generation to the next over three to four hundred years. Preservation in the written form took place 2000 years ago.

- Tipiṭaka was composed into a form suitable for easy verbal transmission, in many cases in SUMMARY form. See, “Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa.” ( ... tiniddesa/) That is why it survived almost entirely in content over this long period.
- It was written down in Matale, Sri Lanka, at the turn of the first century, 2000 years ago. See “Welcome to Aluvihāra Rock Cave Temple” ( for information about where the Tipiṭaka writing took place.
- The other earliest written Buddhist documents are from Gandhāra in modern northwestern Pakistan; see “The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhāra” by Richard Salomon (2018.) However, those do not provide a complete version of the Tipiṭaka; see p. 83 of the book.
- All other documents in Chinese, Tibetan, etc., date later and are derived from the Pāli Tipiṭaka.

Initial Oral Transmission

2. The discourses of the Buddha were said to have been delivered in the Māgadhi language. The written form was called Pāli. But Pāli does not have its script, so it was written down with Sinhala script.

- That provides a straightforward way of sorting out the Mahāyāna literature, written in Sanskrit and never written in Pāli. Mahāyānic philosophers wrote all the Sanskrit suttā in Sanskrit.
- Around the turn of the first millennium, translations of the Tipiṭaka to Chinese and Tibetan also took place. The original manuscripts in Pāli can be expected to contain most of the original discourses delivered by the Buddha.

3. Today, it is hard to fathom (especially for Westerners) that such accuracy would be possible in verbally transmitted material.

- However, we need to understand the background traditions and the monks’ determination over thousands of years that helped preserve most of the original teachings.
- Even today, some people have memorized large sections of the Tipiṭaka, especially in Myanmar (formerly Burma). In Myanmar, there are special examinations to test memorization. See “TIpitakadhara Sayadaws of Myanmar ( Burma ) in Five Decades.” ( Also, see “Memorizing the Tipiṭaka.” ... -in-burma/
- During oral transmission, groups of bhikkhus memorized (overlapping) sections of the Tipiṭaka. Then during a Sangāyanā (Buddhist Council), they all got together and compared each other versions to make sure they were all compatible.

It Took Three Councils to Finalize the Tipiṭaka

4. A significant reason for the assembly of the First Buddhist Council within three months of the Buddha’s Parinibbāna — around 480 BCE — was to organize the vast material.

- Within the next two hundred years, two more Councils were held to recite and verify the teachings and to finalize the Tipiṭaka in three broad categories (“ti” + “Piṭaka” or “three baskets”). The second was held about a century after the first one.
- The third was held in 250 BC at Pataliputra under the patronage of King Asoka. The “three baskets” were completed at this Council with the finalization of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka; see #15 below.
- This completed Tipiṭaka was written down in 29 BCE at the Fourth Buddhist Council in Matale, Sri Lanka. This was the last Council attended ONLY by Arahants. Thus, we can be assured of its authenticity. Since Pāli does not have its script, it was written in the Sinhala language.

Authenticity of the Tipiṭaka

5. Another critical point is hidden in the history of the Tipiṭaka. Even up to the 20th century, the whole Tipiṭaka was written on specially prepared ōla (palm) leaves. They typically deteriorate over 100 years or so and need to be rewritten. Even though that was a very labor-intensive process (about 60 large volumes in the modern printed version of the Tipiṭaka), it served the following essential purpose.

- Sinhala language (both spoken and written) changed over the past 2000 years. The need to re-write it every 100 or so years made sure to take account of the changes in the Sinhala script. Of course, the Pāli language has not changed.
- The following video gives an idea about the preparation process and the tools used to write:

- European Civil Servants saved existing Pali manuscripts of the Tipiṭaka in the 1800s. See “Misinterpretation of Anicca and Anatta by Early European Scholars.” ( ... -scholars/) The original documents on Palm leaves are still kept at the British Museum:

Most Suttās Are Condensed Versions of the Discourses

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

- The Buddha delivered most of his discourses in the Māghadhi (māghadhi = “maga” + “adhi” or Noble path) language. Tipiṭaka was written in Pāli with Sinhala script. Pāli is a version of Māghadhi suitable for writing down oral discourses in a summary form suitable for transmission.
- Each Pāli word is packed with a lot of information, and thus commentaries (called “Attha Kathā”) were written to expound on the meaning of critical Pāli words and to explain the key phrases in the suttās.

Importance of the Commentaries

7. Pāli suttās are not supposed to be translated word-by-word. see, “Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa.” ( ... tiniddesa/) The Tipiṭaka was meant to be used with the commentaries. Commentaries compiled by Arahants at the time of the Buddha are still there with the Tipiṭaka: Patisambhidamagga, Petakopadesa, and Nettippakarana. Venerable Mahinda started compiling Sinhala Commentaries 200 years later.

- Sadly, those Sinhala commentaries were burned during the Anuradhapura era; see “Incorrect Theravada Interpretations – Historical Timeline.” ... -timeline/
- Fortunately, the three original commentaries prepared by the foremost disciples of the Buddha (Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Kaccayaṃa, etc.) during the Buddha’s time were included in the Tipiṭaka (in the Khuddhaka Nikāya) and thus survived. The current revival of pure Dhamma by Waharaka Thero in Sri Lanka was partially due to his perusal of these three documents (Patisambhidamagga, Petakopadesa, and Nettippakarana).

8. With the loss of most of the commentaries and the non-prominence of the surviving three commentaries mentioned above, people started translating the Tipiṭaka word by word. This insane practice continues to date: “Elephant in the Room” – Direct Translation of the Tipiṭaka.” ( ... -tipitaka/) The problem was compounded by the increasing usage of the Sanskrit language beginning around the first century CE.

- For example, “anicca” was translated first to Sanskrit as “anitya,” and then the same Sanskrit word “anitya” was ADOPTED as the Sinhala translation for anicca. Similarly, “anatta” was translated to Sanskrit as “anāthma” and again was adopted as the Sinhala word for “anatta.” This has prevented millions of people from attaining Nibbāna all these years; see “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Wrong Interpretations.” ... ha-anatta/
- Another good example is the translation of Paṭicca samuppāda to Sanskrit as Pratītyasamutpāda; see “Paṭicca Samuppāda – “Pati+ichcha” +” Sama+uppäda” ( ... roduction/) and the Wikipedia article, “Pratītyasamutpāda.” ... tp%C4%81da
- It is NOT POSSIBLE to translate some critical Pāli words to Sanskrit, English, or any other language without losing their true meaning. In many cases, I prefer to keep the original words (e.g., anicca, anatta, taṇhā) and explain their meanings.

Buddha Prohibited Translation of the Tipiṭaka to Sanskrit

9. The Buddha foresaw this and warned not to TRANSLATE the Tipiṭaka to Sanskrit. There were two Brahmins by the names of Yameḷa and Kekuṭa who were experts on the Vedic Texts; they became bhikkhus and asked the Buddha whether they should translate the Pāli suttā to Sanskrit.

- The Buddha admonished them that Sanskrit was a language with musical overtones developed by the high-minded Brahmins. Thus, it was impossible to convey the true meanings of Maghadhi (Pāli) words in Sanskrit; see Chulavagga 5.33. ( He admonished them not to translate his teachings to Sanskrit.
- In the Sutta Central English translation, the Pāli word for Sanskrit (chandasa) is mistranslated as “metrical”; see “15. Minor matters (Khuddaka).” ( ... tin#33.1.1) The relevant Pāli text starts as “Tena kho pana samayena yameḷakekuṭā nāma…”.

10. One grave problem today is that many people try to translate a given sutta word by word to other languages. Thus the Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta that we mentioned above is translated into a few pages.

- For a comprehensive translation of that sutta: “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.” ... ana-sutta/
- That is why most of the existing translations are inadequate at best and erroneous in most cases; see “Sutta Interpretation – Uddēsa, Niddēsa, Paṭiniddēsa.”

Buddhaghosa’s Commentaries

11. Finally, just before the burning of the Sinhala commentaries, Buddhaghosa translated and edited those commentaries back to Pāli in his Visuddhimagga and other books.

- Even though he had made many errors (like including kasina meditation and substituting the ānāpanasati bhāvanā with “breath meditation”), he had used the words anicca and anatta in the Pāli version of the Visuddhimagga; see, “Buddhaghōsa and Visuddhimagga – Historical Background” ( ... ackground/) and “Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga – A Focused Analysis.” ... -analysis/
- Thus, the incorrect translations of the words “anicca” (as “impermanence”) and “anatta” (as “no-self”) may have happened more recently; see “Misinterpretation of Anicca and Anatta by Early European Scholars.” ... -scholars/
- Now, let us systematically review the timeline of the Tipiṭaka.

Timeline – First Buddhist Council

12. That first Buddhist council was held three months after the Parinibbāna at Rājagaha, the capital of Māgadha.

- Shortly after the Buddha passed away, Ven. Mahakassapa, the de facto head of the Saṅgha, selected five hundred monks, all Arahants, to meet and compile an authoritative version of the teachings.

13. The Cullavagga, one of the books of the Pāli Vinaya Piṭaka, gives an account of how the authorized texts were compiled at the First Buddhist Council:

- Based on Venerable Upāli’s recitation of Vinaya, the Vinaya Piṭaka, disciplinary matters were compiled.
- Venerable Ananda then recited “the Dhamma” or the Sutta Piṭaka, i.e., the discourses, and based on this recitation, the Sutta Piṭaka, the Compilation of Discourses, was compiled (Venerable Ananda was supposed to have an amazing memory and had memorized all the suttas preached by the Buddha).
- The Abhidhamma was rehearsed by all the Arahants present at the Council. Although they recited parts of the Abhidhamma at these earlier Buddhist Councils, it was not until the Third Council that it became finalized to its present form as the third and final Piṭaka of the Canon.

Finalization of Tipiṭaka at the Third Council

14. The Moggaliputta-Tissa Thero compiled the proceedings of the Third Council in the Kathavatthu, which became part of the Tipiṭaka (Three Baskets). During the Third Council, Arahants compiled the final version of the Tipiṭaka (as available today). It finalized the Abhidhamma Piṭaka and added several books on the Khuddhaka Nikāya and the Kathavatthu.

The composition of the Tipiṭaka is as follows:

(i). The Vinaya Piṭaka is composed of five books: Major Offenses (Prajika Pāli), Minor Offenses (Pacittiya Pāli), Greater Section (Mahavagga Pāli), Smaller Section (Culavagga Pāli), and Epitome of the Vinaya (Parivara Pāli).

(ii). The Sutta Piṭaka consists of five nikāyas: Digha Nikāya (Collection of Long Discourses), Majjhima Nikāya (Collection of Middle-Length Courses), Samutta Nikāya (Collection of Kindred Sayings), Anguttara Nikāya (Collection of Discourses arranged by a number), and Khuddaka Nikāya (Smaller Collection).

(iii). The Abhidhamma Piṭaka consists of the following categories: Dhamma Saṅghani (Classification of Dharmas), Vibhanga (The Book of Divisions), Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy), Puggala Pannatthi (Description of Individuals), Dhatukatha (Discussion regarding Elements), Yamaka (The Book of the Pairs), and Patthana (The Book of Relations). Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa COMPILED Kathavatthu at the Third Buddhist Council,

- That collection is the Tipiṭaka (Three Baskets) or the Pāli Canon that exists today.

Abhidhamma Piṭaka Finalized at the Third Council

15. The work on the Abhidhamma Piṭaka started during the time of the Buddha by Ven. Sariputta was not finalized until the Third Council. The Buddha only taught the basic framework to Ven. Sariputta. It was completed over roughly 250 years by the lineage of bhikkhus, starting with Ven. Sariputta. Of course, Ven. Sariputta was one of the two chief disciples of the Buddha: While Ven. Moggallana excelled in supernatural powers, Ven. Sariputta excelled in Dhamma. He was only second to the Buddha in Dhamma knowledge.

- The minute details on the structure of a citta vithi (a series of citta) of 17 thought moments, with each citta lasting sub-billionth of a second, can be seen only by a Buddha. The Buddha described only the underlying principles to Ven. Sariputta. Then Ven. Sariputta and his group of bhikkhus (and their subsequent lineage) completed the monumental task of categorizing the Abhidhamma, starting with the fundamental entities.
- Bhikkhu Bodhi describes the origins of Abhidhamma in his book, “Comprehensive_Manual_of_Abhidhamma,” (2000) ( ... dhamma.pdf); see pp. 9-11.
- As I mentioned, compiling Abhidhamma Piṭaka (after the Buddha described it in summary form to Ven. Sariputta) was not a trivial task. That is why it took 250 years to finalize that work. Anyone with even a little knowledge of Abhidhamma would realize that it must be the work of a Buddha. See the “Abhidhamma” section at
- The Abhidhamma Piṭaka is fully consistent with the Sutta Piṭaka. I would be happy to discuss any perceived inconsistencies.
- However, it is not necessary to learn Abhidhamma to attain magga phala. It is an additional tool for those who like to get into details. It is truly a joyful experience to “see” how phenomena can be explained at a deeper level.

Writing Down the Tipiṭaka at the Fourth Council

16. This enlarged Canon, completed at the Third Council, was committed to writing in Sri Lanka in the first century BCE (29 BCE) at the Aluvihara Monastery at the Fourth Buddhist Council. The material in Pāli was written down in the Sinhala language (Pāli does not have its script).

- Bhikkhus wrote on palm leaves with styluses, a pointed steel dagger-like instrument, which scratched the letters into the soft leaves. Ink made from berries was rubbed over the whole page and gently removed so that only the indentations retained the color. It is said that Tipiṭaka was also written down on gold leaves as well. These could be entombed inside stupās; see the Wikipedia article “Stupa“

Translation of the Tipiṭaka to Other Languages

17. It is to be noted that Theravada Buddhism was brought to Burma and Thailand from Sri Lanka in the first century CE. Over the next two centuries, it diffused into adjoining countries of Laos and Cambodia and survived in its purity in those countries as well to the present day. (In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s massacred most monks, and the Buddha Dhamma is virtually extinct).

- However, the Chinese/Tibetan versions of the Tipiṭaka seem to have come from India. The Tibetan version seems to have undergone many revisions/additions and, in some cases, is far removed from the original teachings.
- While the bhikkhus (with the aid of most of the kings) in Sri Lanka took pride and honor in keeping the teachings intact, Buddhism underwent many changes in India, China, Japan, and Tibet. It then finally disappeared altogether from India around 1200 CE.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

When I stopped posting back in April 2022, I was in the middle of a series of posts explaining "Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda." It is a version of Paṭicca Samuppāda that takes place during day-to-day activities.
- The first post on that series, "Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda – Bhava and Jāti Within a Lifetime," was on Mar 14, 2022 (p. 102). The last post was "Five Aggregates – Experiences of Each Sentient Being" on Apr 25, 2022 (p. 103).
- A few more posts remain in that series, starting with the following.

Pañcupādānakkhandha – Attachment to One’s Experiences

Even though pañcakkhandha includes many categories — including one’s all past experiences — we only attach to pañcakkhandha arising at the present moment, i.e., pañcupādānakkhandha.

We Attach to Pañcakkhandha That Arise at the Present Moment

1. Attachment to pañcakkhandha DOES NOT mean attachment to ALL OF accumulated pañcakkhandha.

- It just means attachment to the five aggregates that arise AT THAT MOMENT. That is a CRITICAL point to understand.
We discussed that at the start of this series in “Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda – Bhava and Jāti Within a Lifetime.“
Idappaccayā” comes from “ida” + “paccayā,” meaning “based on the conditions at this moment.”
- Let us discuss that carefully and systematically since it is a CRITICAL issue. Many say, “attachment to khandhas” with the idea of “attachment to ALL khandhas that define me.”
- We attach to “khandhas” that arise at the PRESENT MOMENT. There must be a “trigger” to be attached. Suppose you see, hear, taste, smell, touch, or think about something that you like/dislike or are unsure of. You may attach (taṇhā) or “get stuck with it” via greed/anger/uncertainty.
- Take a minute to contemplate that.

Arising of Pañcakkhandha Triggered by an Ārammaṇa

2. The trigger to “get attached to something” is an ārammaṇa. Let us think about what “triggers” an alcoholic (or even a casual drinker) to “have a drink.”

- A common trigger is if someone offers a drink. Even a casual drinker may accept the offer.
For an alcoholic, the idea of “having a drink” may come to mind as a kamma vipāka. They would have built up an “expectation” (kamma viññāṇa) to “have a drink at a certain time.”
- Regardless of how the idea of “having a drink” comes to the mind, that is accompanied by a “visual of a drink” (added to rupakkhandha), and the relevant mental aspects (vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa) associated with previous experiences of “having a drink” come to the mind. The latter “mental parts” are added to the vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññāṇakkhandha. That is how the pañcakkhandha is added with an ārammaṇa, as we discussed in recent posts in detail.

How Do Pancakkhandha Become Pañcupādānakkhandha?

3. Now, an alcoholic will become “joyful,” and he will proceed to either accept the offer or make a drink for himself, depending on the two situations above. In other words, now pañcakkhandha has AUTOMATICALLY become pañcupādānakkhandha!

- But if the person doe not like to drink alcohol, such a “joyful mindset” will not take place in him, EVEN IF a drink is offered.
- Thus, for such an individual, pañcakkhandha would arise when someone offered a drink, i.e., rupa, vedanā. saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa ABOUT an alcoholic beverage will come to their mind. However, because he does not have gati to crave “alcoholic drinks,” it WILL NOT become pañcupādānakkhandha!
- That is the difference between pañcakkhandha and pañcupādānakkhandha!
- Just reading these words will not be enough to make progress. One must think through these concepts.

Samphassa-jā-Vedanā Arise Due to Gati

4. To put it another way, the alcoholic will automatically generate pañcupādānakkhandha, which will have “samphassa-jā-vedanā” in his vedanākkhandha.

- On the other hand, the other person (who does not like alcohol) WILL NOT have “samphassa-jā-vedanā” in his vedanākkhandha.
It is critical to understand what is meant by “samphassa-jā-vedanā.” See “Search Results for: samphassa vedanā.”

5. It is mainly the vedanā (that arises with pañcakkhandha) leading to the attachment. If it is sukha vedanā, one attaches with greed, and a dukkha vedanā leads to attachment with anger. A neutral vedanā ("adukkha asukha" or "adukkhamasukha") could also lead to attachment via ignorance (one does not understand the proper response to an ārammaṇa.)

- Following are examples. Eating tasty food gets one attached to it; they will try to figure out how to taste it again. Seeing an enemy succeeding in life, some people will try to get involved and put obstacles in their way. Seeing shadowy figures at night may cause anxiety.
- Let us analyze the example in the post, “Aggregate of Forms – Collection of ‘Mental Impressions’ of Forms,” to get more clarity.

Example With Many Ārammaṇa

6. Sometimes, many ārammaṇa run through our minds within minutes. In such cases, only one may lead to pañcupādānakkhandha even though all of them contribute to pañcakkhandha.

- We started in that post (in #3) with the following example. Suppose you are having a meal with a friend. We analyzed how many citta vithi run through your mind within a few minutes due to different ārammaṇa. To keep the discussion simple, let us bypass the citta vithi analysis.
- Your friend is talking, and you are listening. That is an ārammaṇa coming through sotadvāra or the ears. You see him too, and that ārammaṇa comes through cakkhudvāra (eyes). You taste the food (with jivhādvāra or tongue).
- The point relevant to the present discussion is that you see your friend’s face and have a specific “mindset” associated with that rupa. That mindset depends on both him and what he is talking about. We cannot break those mental aspects into two separate parts, one for just seeing his face and another for what he is talking about.

7. For example, suppose he started by saying that he had not seen you for several days and how glad he was to see you. The feelings that arise in you would be loving/sympathetic. Then he switched the subject to talk about a common enemy of the two of you, and the mental aspects that arise at that moment are more likely to be those of anger toward that other person.

- Thus, within a few minutes, your mental aggregates will change.
- Now you are eating your food at the same time. If the food tastes good, there will be “good feelings” about the food.
In a situation like that, what type of mental aspects become DOMINANT will depend on the RELATIVE STRENGTHS of the three ārammaṇa in that example.

We Attach Only to Certain Parts of Pañcakkhandha Arising at the Present Moment

8. If you become agitated about the “common enemy” the friend is talking about, that will primarily affect your mindset. You may even forget that you are eating. You may even stop eating and start talking about a bad incident with that person.

- Therefore, three types of mental aspects may arise within minutes. All those are part of pañcakkhandha that occur within those few minutes.
- However, you focused on that “common enemy” in this case. That became “pañcupādānakkhandha” at that time. Your mind did not “attach/focus” on your friend or the meal. It got “trapped/stuck” on only one ārammaṇa about the common enemy.
- That is a straightforward example of how pañcakkhandha arises and how a part of that pañcakkhandha can turn into pañcupādānakkhandha.

Attaching to Part of Pañcakkhandha Based on Gati

9. When an ārammaṇa comes to mind, that leads to accumulating the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha.)

- Even though pañcakkhandha includes ALL of one’s experiences in the past, we attach ONLY to pañcakkhandha that arise at that moment.
- However, whether one attaches to pañcakkhandha arising is influenced by one’s past experiences (a past component of pañcakkhandha) via one’s gati.
- The situation would have been different if you did not have the gati to become upset about the person your friend was talking about. You may try calming the friend down instead of encouraging him to criticize that person.

Gati Form Over Long Times Due to One’s Cumulative Experiences

10. It is necessary to get a good idea about the role of one’s gati. The Pali word “gati” (pronounced “gathi”) can loosely one’s character, which also defines one’s habits.

- You may want to read “The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Āsava)” ( ... gs-asavas/) and the posts referred to there.
‘”Good gati” lead to rebirths in the “good realms,” and “bad gati” read to rebirths in the “bad realms.” When one comprehends the Four Noble Truths/Paṭicca Samuppāda/Tilakkhana, one realizes that the goal is not JUST to develop “good gati” but to eventually “see” the fruitlessness of such efforts. An Arahant has removed all gati.
- However, one MUST remove the “bad gati” first. Then with wisdom, one will see how to remove all gati GRADUALLY. See “9. Key to Ānapānasati – How to Change Habits and Character (Gati).” ... cter-gati/

One Attaches Automatically According to One’s Gati

11. Whether one gets attached to a given ārammaṇa (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, thought) depends on TWO things. One is the ārammaṇa itself, and the second is that person’s “gati” (character/habits.)

- Each person has a unique set of ārammaṇa that lead to attachment. No two people will attach to the same types of ārammaṇa.
- Furthermore, as one’s gati change, that set will also change. Also, the ārammaṇa itself can change too. For example, X may dislike Y because of a particular characteristic, but if Y gives up that, X may start liking Y.
- Thus, what matters is one’s gati at the present moment when one is experiencing a certain ārammaṇa. That is the critical principle in Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda.

Kamma Viññāṇa Form When We Attach

12. Upon getting attached to an ārammaṇa, we make expectations. Those are kamma viññāṇa.

- Suppose a friend tells you he tasted a nice meal at a restaurant. You are impressed by his description and decide to taste that meal. That expectation of enjoying that meal is a jivhā viññāṇa.
- The conversation you had with the friend is a part of pañcakkhandha. You may have talked about other things; they are all part of pañcakkhandha. - But only part of that pañcakkhandha became a pañcupādānakkhandha and generated a kamma viññāṇa, a future expectation to do something. It usually is an expectation based on greed, anger, or ignorance.
- That expectation generated a kammic energy that is in that jivhā viññāṇa. It is in the kamma bhava (in viññāṇa dhatu) and can “come back to your mind” and remind you that you need to act on it. So, even a few days later, you will suddenly remember that conversation with your friend and may get the urge to taste that meal. You may call the restaurant and make a reservation.


13. I have tried to connect different concepts that we discussed in this new series on Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda with other concepts like kamma viññāṇa and gati that we have discussed many times before.

- Buddha Dhamma is fully self-consistent. The more you learn, the more faith you will have. But it requires an effort to review those concepts and make necessary connections or see the relationships among them.
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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Noble Truth of Suffering- Pañcupādānakkhandhā Dukkhā

The verse “saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā” in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11) says that attachment to pañcakkhandha (i.e., pañcupādānakkhandhā) is the root cause of suffering.

Noble Truth of Suffering

1. The Noble Truth of suffering explains the ROOT CAUSE of suffering.

- It is expressed succinctly in the “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11)” ( ... ript=latin) as “saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā” OR “In brief, the cause of suffering is attachment to one’s sensory experiences.”
- In the previous post, we discussed why pañcupādānakkhandhā MEANS “attachment to sensory experiences.” See the previous post, “Pañcupādānakkhandha – Attachment to One’s Experiences.”
- That post resulted from previous posts in the current subsection, “Paṭicca Samuppāda During a Lifetime.” If you are unable to see why pañcupādānakkhandhā means “attachment to sensory experiences,” please review all previous posts.
- That is the First Noble Truth. Thus, it is critical to understand it.

What You Do at the Present Moment Is What Counts

2. If you attach to an ārammaṇa at the present moment, TWO THINGS can happen.

(i) You “pull that ārammaṇa in.” The Pali word for that is “upādāna.” I have often explained that “upādāna” means " keeping something close in mind.” That is how one “grasps” a new existence at the end of the current existence. That is the mechanism of grasping a new existence in Uppatti (or Upapatti) Paṭicca Samuppāda.
(ii) When you grasp that “state of mind,” you start “living in that mindset.” Thus, you start thinking, speaking, and acting based on that ārammaṇa. That leads to kamma formation during life, i.e., via Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda.

- In other words, attachment to an ārammaṇa can play essential roles in Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda (i above) and Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda (ii above.)
- I discussed that in detail in: “Change of Mindset Due to an Ārammaṇa” a few posts back. Some people may not have understood that post at that time. It is a good idea to review that post in any case. Let me briefly summarize the two cases. You may want to read that post for details.

Change of Mindset Due to an Ārammaṇa

3. A mind is usually in the “natural bhavaṇga state” it received at the beginning of its existence (bhava.)

- However, when a strong ārammaṇa comes to mind, the mind switches over to a state compatible with that ārammaṇa. Depending on the strength of the ārammaṇa, that “temporary bhavaṇga state” could be there for a short time or many days.
- Getting into a “temporary bhavaṇga state” is the same as getting into a “temporary bhava.“
- For example, if you eat a tasty meal, you may have that “satisfied mindset” for a couple of hours. If you had a nice dinner at a restaurant and talked to someone later that day, you may recommend the meal to that person.
- However, some ārammaṇa can lead to a “changed mindset” for longer and also lead to harmful consequences. If an alcoholic who has been “sober” for several weeks is induced to take a drink, he/she could go back to the “alcoholic mindset” that may linger for a long time. If a husband catches his wife in bed with another man, that may get him to the mindset of a killer. He could be “born” in that mindset and may carry out the killing. When he returns to his senses (i.e., to the “natural bhavaṇga state”), the damage is done!

Born in a “Temporary Existence” via an Ārammaṇa

4. Let us think about the “sad state of mind” that arises upon hearing about a parent's death. One could be in that “sad existence” for many weeks. That “sad mindset” will affect one’s thoughts, speech, and actions during that time. One will not feel like going to a party or a movie.

- In the terminology of Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda, we can understand how one got “temporarily born” in a “sad state of mind” upon hearing that sad news. Those are “temporary bhava and temporary jāti” in Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- I have explained that in detail in an earlier post in the current series: “Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda – Bhava and Jāti Within a Lifetime.”
- These concepts are very much interrelated. If you can “latch on” somewhere, you can pursue that and fully understand Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- The Buddha advised Ven. Ananda to learn how life evolves moment-to-moment based on the causes and conditions AT any given moment. See, “Mahānidāna Sutta (DN 15).” ... ript=latin

Key Points of Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda

5. An Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda always starts with an ārammaṇa (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, memory recall) that comes to the mind as a vipāka viññāṇa. I have discussed this in different sections of the website and only will give some of the links below. I discussed it extensively in the “Origin of Life” series, starting with the post “Chachakka Sutta – Six Types of Vipāka Viññāna.” ... a-vinnana/

- In the example above, it is the hearing of the death of a parent is a sota viññāṇa that comes in via the sotadvāra (“ear door.”) The Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda process starts with “salāyatana paccayā phasso” where “salāyatana” is the “sota āyatana.” That can lead to contact or “phassa,” which is “samphassa” or “contact with one’s defilements.”
- That leads to the next several steps “samphassa paccayā samphassa-jā-vedanā“, “samphassa-jā-vedanā paccayā taṇhā,” “taṇhā paccayā upādāna,” “upādāna paccayā bhava,” “bhava paccayā jāti.”
- See “Difference between Phassa and Samphassa.” ... samphassa/

6. Thus, upon hearing the sad news, one will “temporarily get into a sad bhava” and be “born in that sad existence for a while.” That is a “temporary birth” lasting as long as “temporary bhavaṇga” lasts. It could last for many weeks, depending on the person.

- In this case, the ārammaṇa of the “sad news” may not lead to kamma accumulation.
- But there are cases where one will be temporarily born in a “greedy state” or an “angry state.” That can contribute to (i) generating kammic energy that can lead to rebirths in “bad realms” and (ii) “grasping a new bhava at the “cuti-patisandhi” moment in Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda. Let us discuss an example.

Implications for Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda (Grasping a New Bhava)

7. This is essentially the same as what happens in Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda described above, i.e., you “grasp that ārammaṇa” and “get into that mindset or the temporary bhavaṇga state.”

- But if that happens in the last citta vithi for the current existence, then that “temporary bhava” BECOMES the next existence (bhava.)
- For example, if the ārammaṇa brought in at the last citta vithi makes one angry, one will grasp an existence matching that “angry state mind.” Of course, the actual realm in the apāyās will be determined by “how angry one becomes.” If the angry mindset can kill a human, that may lead to grasping an existence in the niraya (similar to hell in Christianity.) If it is less, the next existence could be that of a vicious animal like a tiger.

8. Let us summarize the two PS cases of the result of grasping an ārammaṇa:

- Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda: That ārammaṇa is a special ārammaṇa brought in by kammic energy. It comes in with the last citta vithi arising based on the strongest kamma one has done up to that point. It could be from the current life or a previous life.
- Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda: These ārammaṇa arise due to daily sensory experiences. If one gets attached to one, that could lead to the accumulation of new kamma (kammic energies.)

Cetanā Sutta (SN 12.38) – Role of an Ārammaṇa

9. If we attach to an ārammaṇa with greed, anger, and ignorance, that is when “all the troubles start.” The sequences of events are as follows:

- An ārammaṇa brings in an external rupa. That rupa comes in as a rupakkhandha, i.e., it is the result of many citta vithi, each bringing in just a fraction of that sight, sound, etc.
- That gives rise to the four mental khandhas (aggregates) of vedanākkhandha, saññākkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha, and viññāṇakkhandha.
- Thus, all five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) arise with an ārammaṇa. If the mind attaches to that particular pañcakkhandha, each khandha becomes a upādānakkhandha. In particular, viññāṇakkhandha becomes viññānupādānakkhandha, and the viññāṇa there is a kamma viññāṇa (it has an expectation.)
- Thus, pañcakkhandha becomes pañcupādānakkhandha.
- That leads to either accumulating more kamma (via a temporary existence) or grasping a new existence.

10. The “Cetanā Sutta (SN 12.38)” ( ... ript=latin) summarizes what we discussed above. Of course, that English translation does not explain anything and can be misleading.

Bhikkhus, if you pursue an ārammaṇa by thinking how good it is, and make plans accordingly, then a kamma viññāṇa (future expectation) is established. (“Yañca, bhikkhave, ceteti yañca pakappeti yañca anuseti, ārammaṇametaṁ hoti viññāṇassa ṭhitiyā.)

When you keep your mind on that ārammaṇa, that (kamma)viññāṇa becomes established. (Ārammaṇe sati patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa hoti.)

When that (kamma)viññāṇa (expectation) is established and grows, there is rebirth into a new state of existence in the future. (Tasmiṁ patiṭṭhite viññāṇe virūḷhe āyatiṁ punabbhavābhinibbatti hoti.)

When there is rebirth into a new state of existence in the future, future rebirth, old age, and death come to be, as do sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. (Āyatiṁ punabbhavābhinibbattiyā sati āyatiṁ jāti jarāmaraṇaṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.)

That is how this entire mass of suffering originates. (Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.)

- That summary includes both the Idappaccayātā and Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- These suttas REQUIRE detailed explanations. Word-by-word translations are useless and can be misleading. Incorrect translation of words can magnify problems!
- In particular, just translating viññāṇa there as “consciousness” is a grave error. But those translators do not understand that viññāṇa can have different meanings depending on the context. Here it is a “kamma viññāṇa.”


9. It is critically important to understand the concept of ārammaṇa and the TWO main consequences of an ārammaṇa.

- Ārammaṇa is simply a sensory input that grabs your attention. It can come through one of the five physical senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body touch) or the sixth one, the mind (memory recall.)
- If you attach to the ārammaṇa that comes in with the last citta vithi in the current existence, and if your mind willingly grasps the corresponding mindset, you will be born in a new existence corresponding to that mindset. Note that it is NOT a conscious decision. At that moment, you are capturing a new existence automatically according to your gati. That happens in Uppatti Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- If attachment to an ārammaṇa happens during daily life and gets one into a “temporary existence,” one will start accumulating kamma accordingly. Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda describes this process.
- The Buddha defined “sakkāya” to be pañcupādānakkhandhā. See "Cūḷavedalla Sutta (MN 44)." ... =latin#2.1
- “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi is the wrong view that sakkāya or pañcupādānakkhandhā leads to sukha (happiness). When one understands Paṭicca Samuppāda and realizes that pañcupādānakkhandhā leads to suffering, one would get rid of Sakkāya Diṭṭhi and becomes a Sotapanna.
- We will discuss that in the next post.
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