Paticca Samuppāda – From Mind to Matter

January 11, 2020

Where is the “Mind-to-Matter” Step in Paticca Samuppāda?

1. Akusala-mula Paticca Samuppāda starts with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” and ends with “bhava paccayā jāti, jāti paccayā jarā, marana,..”

  • The first step involves generating defiled thoughts (manō, vaci, and kāya saṅkhāra) due to avijjā (not being aware of the Four Noble Truths.) In the end, that leads to births of physical bodies (jāti) that will then undergo old age and death.
  • How do thoughts lead to the births of human beings and other living beings?
Javana Citta Create Energy!

2. I laid the foundation for this post in a recent post, “Dhammā, Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Mind – Critical Connections.” Please review that as needed.

  • The critical point is that our thoughts (specifically javana citta) CREATE energy! That may be hard to believe.
  • Even a few hundred years ago, many people thought that the Buddha taught some other things that were “hard to believe.” For example, Buddha taught that there are an uncountable number of planetary systems like our Solar system in the universe. However, before Galileo invented the telescope, people believed that Earth was at the center of the universe! See the “Geocentric model.”
  • Even after reading the previous post mentioned above, many of you may not have caught on to the fact that the mind creates energy. And that is what leads to the “arising of physical bodies” in future existences (rebirths.) You may want to read that post after reading this one, and things will become more clear.
Thoughts Create “Seeds” That Can Give Rise to Physical Bodies

3. In that previous post, we discussed that such minute amounts of energies created by our thoughts are PART OF dhammā (with a long “a” at the end.)

  • Of course, such minute amounts of energy cannot DIRECTLY create massive/dense bodies like ours.
  • When a living being grasps a new existence (bhava), only a “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya” for the new life appears. It is a “mental body” since it is mostly mental with only a trace of matter. Very little kammic energy is enough to create that “mental body.” 
  • This “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya” is the same as a gandhabba or a “patisandhi viññāṇa.” One creates one’s future via one’s saṅkhāra (i.e., the way one THINKS). Paticca Samuppāda describes that process.
  • That is why it is CRITICAL to understand the previous three posts: “Dhammā, Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Mind – Critical Connections,” “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception,” and “Cloning and Gandhabba.”

4. The word “kāya” in Buddha Dhamma means a “collection.” Thus, this “body” that is created by kammic energy consists mostly of the four “mental aggregates.” It  has only a trace of matter (much smaller than an atom in modern science.)

  • However, it has all five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Of course, the “rūpa kāya” is unbelievable small, but the “four mental aggregates are the same as those experienced by a living person with a physical body.
  • That “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya” is the same as gandhabba! However, after the initial formation, gandhabba can “solidify” somewhat by “taking in scents or aroma.” Hence the name “gandhabba” (“gandha” + “abba” or “taking in scents.”)
  • For details on gandhabba, see, “Mental Body – Gandhabba.”
It is Kamma Viññāṇa That Sets Up Energy for a New Existence (Bhava)

5. There are no “rūpa” in PS steps up to “viññāṇa.” As we have discussed, a kamma viññāṇa that arises via “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa” is a type of “rūpa” because it has “energy.” As Einstein showed with his famous equation, E = mc^2, energy is also a manifestation of matter. Again, see “Dhammā, Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Mind – Critical Connections.”

  • Then at the next step, there is “nāmarūpa.” That is where a conventional “rūpa” becomes “live.” That is precisely what happens when a “patisandhi viññāṇa descends to a womb” and makes an inert zygote become alive! That occurs at the “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” step in Uppatti PS.
  • The post “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” explains how a “patisandhi viññāṇa” leads to the creation of a “new human body.”
  • Sexual intercourse only creates the “material basis” for a new life. An egg (from the mother) combines with sperm (from the father) to form a single cell, a zygote. That zygote is inert (a rūpa), just like the egg and the sperm. An existing “mental body” or a gandhabba (nāma with energy) needs to merge with that zygote to form the nāmarūpa or the fetus (with mind and body).
  • Sexual intercourse is not necessary to form the zygote or the “material base” for a new “physical body.” A zygote can be created in a laboratory, but still requires eggs from the mother; see, “Cloning and Gandhabba.”
Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana” in Uppatti Paticca Samuppāda

6. That “live person” or the fetus will grow for nine months to complete the formation of all six sensory faculties. That is the “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana” step in uppatti PS. As we know, “salāyatana” represents the “six sensory faculties” of a living being with a “body and mind.”

  • Therefore, the transition starts with the step “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa,” Then, it goes through the “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” step, before finalizing the formation of a “human with six sensory faculties” at the “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana” step.
  • However, it is essential to understand that a “patisandhi viññāṇa” leading to a rebirth must have been cultivated previously. Such a viññāṇa “builds up” over MANY “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” cycles that take place DURING a life or even over many lives.
Example of an Alcoholic Making an “Animal Bhava

7. Let us consider an example to illustrate how one cultivates a patisandhi viññāṇa suitable for an animal over time. Let us consider an alcoholic/drug addict. I am not talking about a person who takes an occasional drink. Instead, this person has an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

  • As we have discussed in recent posts on the Chachakka Sutta (MN 148), one starts thinking about a certain ārammana (in this case, drinking) when thought about that ārammana comes to mind as a vipāka viññāṇa. In this particular case, it could be seeing an alcohol bottle, hearing about an upcoming party, or just habitually remembering that “it is time to have a drink.”
  • As explained in those posts, one’s mind quickly gets to “taṇhā” (or “getting stuck” in that ārammana.) Thus, a PS process would start at the “taṇhā paccayā upādāna” step. See, “Icchā (Cravings) Lead to Upādāna and to Eventual Suffering.”
  • That is when one starts THINKING about that ārammana that came to the mind. That is the “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” step of a new PS cycle.
Nāmarūpa in “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” Are Just “Visuals”

8. Suppose the alcoholic/drug addict in our example is sitting at his desk at work. Due to his habit, an upcoming party may come to his mind via “manañca paṭicca dhammē ca uppajjati manōviññāṇaṃ.

  • Of course, he will be instantly “stuck in that ārammana,” and the “taṇhā paccayā upādāna” step in PS gets him started on “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.” Thus, he starts thinking about the experience that he is going to have in the upcoming party. Those are vaci saṅkhāra.
  • That leads to the arising of a viññāṇa (anticipation or the expectation of the possible enjoyments) via “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa.” The javana citta in his thoughts start creating energy for that viññāṇa.
  • That involves visualizing “party scenes” at the upcoming party and also his past experiences in similar situations. He will imagine the friends who will be there, what kind of alcohol, food, and other types of entertainment will be there. These are all “nāmarūpa” or visuals that arise in his mind. These nāmarūpa are very much like what we experience in a dream, just visuals.
Some of those Viññāṇa and Nāmarūpa Cultivated Could be Compatible with Animal Mindsets

9. Some of those viññāṇa and nāmarūpa cultivated by the alcoholic/drug addict in our example could be compatible with those of animals. That is a critical point.

  • During some of these parties, alcohol or drug usage could get to extreme levels. Some people may pass out and could be unable to walk. They will be dragging themselves on the floor like animals.
  • Some may be engaging in sexual misconduct. Such bodily actions are more potent than such cultivating vaci saṅkhāra. However, in most cases, it is the cultivation of vaci saṅkhāra (thinking about such activities with vitakka/vicāra) that lead to bodily actions.
  • Both kinds of saṅkhāra lead to the growth of patisandhi viññāṇa suitable to bring about an animal birth in the future (in an Uppatti PS process.)
Nāmarūpa In “Viññāṇa Paccaya Nāmarūpa” Are Two Kinds

10. It is critical to note that the “nāmarūpa” discussed in #8 are different from those in #5.

  • The nāmarūpa in #8 helps build that viññāṇa via the backward step, “nāmarūpa paccayā viññāṇa.” When the alcoholic is making those ‘visualizations,” he is cultivating that viññāṇa. Thus, each is helping grow the other. That often happens in “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” cycles.
  • For example, Ven. Sariputta in the “Naḷa­kalāpī Sutta (SN 12.67)“: Seyyathāpi, āvuso, dve naḷakalāpiyo aññamaññaṃ nissāya tiṭṭheyyuṃ. Evameva kho, āvuso, nāmarū­pa paccayā viññāṇaṃ; viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpaṃ;..” OR “Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with nāmarū­pa as condition, viññāṇa comes to be. With viññāṇa as condition, nāmarūpa comes to be..”
  • On the other hand, the “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” step happens only once in uppatti PS cycles. That involves a special “patisandhi viññāṇa” (gandhabba.) When that patisandhi viññāṇa (or gandhabba) descends to the womb, it merges with the zygote and creates a new “nāmarūpa” or a “live fetus.” See, #5 above and the posts referred to there, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” and “Cloning and Gandhabba.”
It Is Important to Review Related/Past Posts Often

11. Another thing to remember is that even a given PS cycle does not proceed in just one direction. All those steps, as with many others in PS, go backward too.  For example, “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” and “nāmarūpa paccayā viññāṇa” steps may go back and forth strengthening each other in many cases (see #8, #9 above.)

  • I have explained this in several previous posts in this series: “Paticca Samuppāda – Not ‘Self’ or ‘No-Self’” A vital case discussed in “Tanhā Paccayā Upādāna – Critical Step in Paticca Samuppāda.”
  • There is a lot to grasp in this post. Please make sure to read the related posts mentioned above, so that these concepts are well-understood.
  • It is critical to have a good idea about these concepts to see how one makes one’s future rebirths. Furthermore, the type of rebirth CORRESPONDS to the kind of abhi(saṅkhāra) cultivated with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.
  • That is how “mind to matter” transitions take place. And this is why the Buddha said that the mind is at the forefront.
  • All relevant posts at, “Origin of Life.”
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