August 29, 2020; revised August 30, 2020
Kammic energy leads to consciousness in all living beings. In this post, I am not going to refer to a specific type of consciousness (like cakkhu viññāṇa or mano viññāṇa) but just the ability to generate any types of viññāṇa in any of the 31 realms. Let us first recap our discussion so far in the new section, “Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach,”
Kammic Energy Leads to Consciousness
1. In this new section, we discuss Buddha Dhamma using a novel approach. One critical point is that the essence of ANY living being is a set of “sensing faculties” created by kammic energy.
- As we remember from the previous few posts, the main difficulty with the scientific community’s current efforts is identifying how feelings (consciousness) can arise in the brain made of inert matter. As some philosophers have pointed out, consciousness is NOT derived from matter. See, “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”
- In simple terms, the Buddha said that there is a set of elementary units of matter with the ability to facilitate CONSCIOUSNESS. See “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis.”
- Those are the hadaya vatthu (seat of mind) and a set of five pasāda rupa (cakkhu, sota, ghāna, jivhā, kāya). These are UNIQUE bits of matter with the ABILITY to EXPERIENCE things in the world. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of comprehending the uniqueness of these six entities.
- Kammic energy leads to consciousness because kammic energy alone can create those six entities.
Why Life Cannot Be Created in a Laboratory
2. Those six “sensing faculties” (unimaginably small) can ONLY be created by kammic energy. That kammic energy is produced in THOUGHTS (specifically javana citta.) We will discuss this in detail in the future.
- That is why it will NEVER be possible to CREATE life (a conscious living being) in a laboratory. Consciousness does not arise in a chemical process or by increasing the processing power of computer chips.
- Kammic energy leads to consciousness, and our minds create kammic energy. Thus, we create our own future lives!
Seeds (Kamma Bija) for New Existences
3. It is kammic energy that produces seeds (kamma bija) that give rise to a new set of “sensing units” for future existences.
- “Good seeds” generated by good kamma (puñña abhisaṅkhāra) can give rise to good rebirths (in human and higher realms.) Births in the highest four Brahma realms are due to āneñja abhisaṅkhāra, a special kind of “good abhisaṅkhāra.”
- Bad rebirths (in the four lowest realms or apāyā) arise due to “bad seeds” generated by immoral kamma (apuñña abhisaṅkhāra)
- However, a seed cannot germinate and give rise to life if one has lost the craving for doing the corresponding kamma. Thus, one attains Nibbāna by cultivating paññā (wisdom) and getting rid of attachment to worldly things (taṇhā.) We will discuss that later, but it has been discussed in other sections.
- First, let us discuss different types of kamma bija with some examples.
Good Seeds and Bad Seeds
4. Person X likes to enjoy sensory pleasures to the extent that he/she is willing to do any immoral deed to enjoy them. If X kills a human, that mindest is very powerful and creates a kamma bija that can lead to rebirth in hell. If X kills an animal that generates a “smaller kamma bija,” but if X keeps killing animals regularly, that kamma bija will get stronger and, at some point, will be strong enough to lead to rebirth in hell.
- There is a person Y who engages in good deeds. That person enjoys feeding those in need (bhikkhus, poor people, animals, etc.) He/she would instinctively help those who fall into hard times and is able to forgive foolish actions by others. Such a person builds up strong good kamma bija to give rise to rebirths in human and higher realms.
- Then there is person Z who has understood the drawbacks of sensory pleasures. He/she has a natural tendency to cultivate jhāna by minimizing engaging in sensory pleasures and dasa akusala in general. The first four jhāna fall under puñña abhisaṅkhāra and can lead to rebirths in the 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms. The higher jhāna fall under āneñja abhisaṅkhāra and can lead to births in the 4 arupāvacara Brahma realms.
- Those are a few examples of the types of abhisaṅkhāra (or kamma) that keep us bound to the rebirth process. They ALL fall under “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” in the akusala-mula Paṭicca Samuppāda process. In the detailed explanation of that step, those saṅkhāra are described as “apuñña abhisaṅkhāra, puñña abhisaṅkhāra, and āneñja abhisaṅkhāra.” See, #11 through #13 in “Kamma, Saṅkhāra, and Abhisaṅkhāra – What Is “Intention”?.”
- Our own kammic energy leads to consciousness (in future lives.) That consciousness may arise in any of the 31 realms.
The essence of a Living Being – The “Primary Sensory Units”
5. “Awareness” happens at hadaya vatthu, the seat of the mind. “Seeing” happens at the hadaya vatthu with the help of cakkhu pasāda rupa. Similarly, “hearing” happens at the hadaya vatthu with the help of sota pasāda rupa. The other three physical senses work the same way with ghāna, jivhā, and kāya pasāda rupa.
- In addition, hadaya vatthu can recall past memories.
- Based on those six types of external signals, thoughts arise in the hadaya vatthu.
- That happens in EVERY living-being. Every living being has a maximum of six of those “sensory units.”
Living Beings in Most Realms Have Only “Primary Sensory Units”
6. In the post, “Mind and Matter – Buddhist Analysis,” we noted that living beings in 20 of the 31 realms in this world have only such sensory units and nothing else (no physical bodies.)
- The 16 rupāvacara Brahma realms have hadaya vatthu and two pasāda rupa.
- The 4 arupāvacara Brahma realms have only the hadaya vatthu.
- They all have just a “mental body” and no “solid body” like ours. But our gandhabba is similar to them.
Dense Bodies In Kāma Loka
7. The situation is the 11 realms of kāma loka is more complex. That complexity is necessary to accommodate “close sensory contacts” of smell, taste, and body touch. Such contacts are not possible for the mental body (gandhabba); see, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept.”
- A gandhabba needs to get into a womb and make a physical body to experience “close sensory contacts” of taste, smell, and touch. That process is described in “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception.”
- However, it is not the dense body that FEELS or EXPERIENCES those sensory contacts. Sensory experience happens ONLY at hadaya vatthu with the help of the corresponding pasāda rupa.
- Depending on the type of the “physical body,” there are different mechanisms to transfer the information generated in the “physical body” to the corresponding pasāda rupa and then to the hadaya vatthu (seat of the mind.)
- However, if the “mental body” (gandhabba) comes out of a human’s physical body, it can see and hear without having eyes and ears. There are many verified accounts of such Out-of-Body Experiences. See, “Mental Body (Gandhabba) – Personal Accounts” and “Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Manōmaya Kāya.”
- Also, see the Wikipedia articles, “Out-of-body experience” and “Near-death experience.”
Our Dense Physical Bodies are Just “Shells”
8. Out dense physical bodies weighing tens of kg (or hundreds of pounds) DO NOT sense ANYTHING.
- The crucial mental body (gandhabba) with the six “sensing units” is “trapped” inside the physical body. That allows it to experience the three additional senses of smell, taste, and touch. However, it also forces the gandhabba to experience “seeing” and “hearing” with physical eyes and ears.
- Therefore, a gandhabba trapped inside a physical body cannot sense ANYTHING without the aid of the five physical senses AND the brain.
- The (physical) sensory faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) can be considered mechanical instruments to capture external signals. For example, eyes are like two cameras taking pictures.
- It is the brain that analyzes the sensory signals captured by those five “sensing equipment.” But the brain does not EXPERIENCE anything either. It breaks down those signals to a level that can be received by the five pasāda rupa. Then each pasāda rupa transfers that information to the hadaya vatthu. That is when we EXPERIENCE such a signal.
- Therefore, the brain is just a very fancy computer. Of course, the design of the brain is also by kammic energy, as is the design for all body parts. That “design” or the “blueprint” is in the gandhabba. We will discuss those details in the “Buddhist model” in a future post.
Complexity In the Kāma Loka
9. The simplest in the kāma loka are the 6 Deva realms. Devas are born with “full physical bodies.” Such “bodies” are like ours but much more subtle. We can’t see Devas either.
- On the other hand, we know a lot about how our physical bodies and brains work, thanks to many scientists’ efforts over the past hundred years or so. Animal bodies work pretty much the same way.
- However, scientists have the wrong idea that such experiences are FELT in the brain, and it is the brain that generates our thoughts. Some scientists and philosophers are beginning to realize that, as we discussed to some extent in “Theories of Our World – Scientific Overview.”
10. I am going through this slowly because it is critically important to understand the basic structure of “our world.”
- “Our world” is much more complex than what we can directly experience. We can only “see” two realms: the human and animal realms.
- That “wider world view” can be seen ONLY by a Buddha with a highly-purified mind. It covers 31 realms in total.
- Kammic energy leads to consciousness (or life) in all those realms.
- It is necessary to understand how births occur in each realm. As we discussed above, the root causes are the types of kamma we commit based on how we think, speak, and take actions based mainly on vaci and kāya saṅkhāra. We do not have DIRECT control over mano saṅkhāra. They arise automatically due to our gati (character/habits.) But we CAN control vaci and kāya saṅkhāra and thereby control our gati. See, “Gati (Habits/Character) Determine Births – Saṃsappanīya Sutta.”
- We have discussed those aspects in other sections. But we will go through some of them as needed here. I will also refer to other sections since it is not possible to cover everything in one section.