Power of the Human Mind – Introduction

Revised August 27, 2018

1. Most people know about Buddha Gotama as a very intelligent and compassionate human being. In “Dhamma and Science – Introduction“, I pointed out the similarities and differences between a scientist and a Buddha. Here I want to discuss in detail the incomprehensible complexity of a human mind, and how a Buddha achieves the peak performance of that complex entity.

  • As I pointed out in “Gōdel’s Incompleteness Theorem“, a normal human mind works within the sense sphere of a normal human and thus inherently incapable of providing a complete theory about our world; but the mind of a Buddha can transcend our sensory experience and see the whole of existence.
  • Here I point out, in a systematic way in a series of posts, the progression of the human mind to higher levels achieved by purifying the mind (not by merely learning), and why a Buddha is at the very pinnacle. At the end of this series you will see why no other human being, no matter how intelligent, can even remotely approach the mind of a Buddha.

2. In the “Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“, we discussed the 31 realms of existence as laid out by the Buddha.

  • Out of these, the human realm is at the fifth level (and our knowledge base is limited to our sensory experience within it, and Gōdel’s Incompleteness Theorem applies to any theory derived within it). There are four realms below the human realm, AND 26 realms above.
  • Out of the 31 realms, we can see only the human realm and the animal realm (which is one of the four lower realms or the apāyā). But we can access the thoughts enjoyed by the beings in the higher realms, AND we can access the transcendental (lōkuttara) cittās too. Please do not put too much significance initially to the number of cittās in each realm, etc. Be patient with me as I need to lay out the “big picture” first.
  • As we proceed systematically in a few posts, you will see various connections to other concepts discussed in other parts on the site, and eventually all fit together. This is why I keep saying that it is a complete and self-consistent world view on a scale unimaginable to a normal (unpurified) human mind.

3. The types of thoughts (cittās) that can be experienced in the whole of existence (31 realms) is 89 (or 121 depending on the scheme); see, “The 89 (or 121) Types of Cittas“. In the three main lōkas (or planes) of kāmalōka, rupalōka, and arupalōka, different types of cittās are of common occurrence. While most of the 89 cittās are possible in all three lōkas, normally a subset of cittās operate mostly in a given realm. 

  • For example, in the kāmalōka, only 54 cittās are mainly experienced. The kāmalōka consists of the lower eleven realms, with sixth through eleventh shells representing the realms of the devas. Beings in these 11 realms have all six sense bases, and in the deva realms the sense pleasures are higher than in the human realm.

4. Out of all 89 types of thoughts, only 12 are immoral or akusala cittās and these are experienced only in kāmalōka; see, “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipaka Citta”.

  • In the higher 20 realms belonging to the rupalōka and arupalōka, only jhānic cittās are mostly present, and akusala cittās normally do not arise.
  • So, as one can imagine, the beings in the lower realms entertain more immoral cittās, and with higher frequency too. Human realm is kind of in the middle, with both moral and immoral cittās.
  • Mostly vipāka citta arise in the lowest four realms; they basically “pay for their previous kamma“. It is said that the beings in the lowest realm, niraya (hell) experience basically two immoral cittās based on hate, because of the high degree of suffering there.

5. The human realm is unique in that the human mind can access not only the cittās in the rupa and arupa lōkas, but also the eight types of cittās that transcend the 31 realms. These citta are the four path (magga) cittās for the four levels of Nibbāna (Sōtapanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, Arahant), and the corresponding resultant (phala) citta. Thus all 89 types of citta are possible for a human.

  • Beings in the higher realms can also attain the 8 magga/pahala citta, but do not normally experience the cittā that are typical of the lower realms.
  • Furthermore, the most potent cittās, those with highest javana (impulse) power in “mahā kusala citta“. They are accessible mostly by humans and those in higher realms; see, “Javana of a Citta – Root of Mental Power“. More posts will follow in the future.
  • This is the basis of the power of the human mind. It is possible for a human to attain the mindset of a being in the lowest realm (niraya) and it is possible also to go all the way up to the mindset of a Buddha.

6. The cittās in the rupalōka and arupalōka are easily categorized according to the jhānic states. These are the same jhānic states attained by humans via meditation.

  • A human can attain all eight jhānic states, and the lower four correspond to the rupalōka and the higher four to the arupalōka.
  • By the way, the Buddha never referred to the arupāvacara states as jhānās. Rather they are referred to in the suttās by their names: ākāsānancāyatana, viññānancāyatana, etc.
  • Each jhānic state correspond to three types of citta: wholesome (kusala) citta and the corresponding vipāka (resultant) citta are two; when the same jhānic kusala citta experienced by an Arahant it is called a kriyā (functional) citta, because it does not lead to a vipāka citta.

7. In the 16 realms belong to the rupalōka, where only two physical sense faculties (eye and ear) are active. These beings have very fine (less dense) bodies.

  • In rupalōka 15 types of thoughts (citta) are mostly experienced corresponding to the five jhānic factors: vitakka, vicara, piti, sukha, ekggata; see, “Power of the Human Mind – Anariya or Mundane Jhanas“. These are the lower five jhānic kusala cittās, corresponding five vipāka cittās and five kriyā cittās (the last five are effective only for the Arahants who get into these jhānic states).
  • The highest four realms represent the arupa lōkas, where beings have ultra fine bodies and only the mind faculty; no physical senses. Here there are only 12 types of jhānic cittās mainly present. These are the higher four (fifth through eighth) jhānic kusala citta, corresponding four vipāka citta, and corresponding four kriyā citta (which are effective only for the Arahants who get into these jhānic states, which do not have corresponding vipāka citta).

8. The rupalōka and arupalōka are collectively known as Brahma realms, which comprise the higher 20 realms. In the Brahma realms, beings are mostly devoid of both greed and hate, but they have dormant ignorance (mōha) in their kamma seeds; see, “Saṅkhāra, Kamma, Kamma Bīja, Kamma Vipaka“.  In the deva worlds (which belong to kāmalōka), those beings are mostly devoid of hate-rooted cittās, but have greed-rooted cittās since they enjoy sensual pleasures.

  • It is possible for a human to attain any of those jhānic states via samatha meditation, and one does not have to be a Buddhist to attain those mundane or anariya jhānic states.
  • Those anariya jhānic states are temporary; a yogi in a jhānic state can be “taken out” of the jhāna; see the next post. They may be lost if one does not keep practicing, and the ability to enter such jhānās is lost when one dies, i.e., he/she may not have the ability to get into jhānās in the next life, even if they are born human.
  • However, if one dies while in even an anariya jhānic state, he/she will be born in the corresponding rupalōka or arupalōka. Yet, a being who gets into even the highest arupalōka via anariya jhānās will end up eventually in the four lower realms (apāyā).
  • However, Ariya jhānās are permanent. Once one gets into an Ariya jhāna, it will hold through future lives.

More information with references to suttās at: “Samādhi, Jhāna (Dhyāna), Magga Phala“.

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