Ghandhabba, Jati, Vinnana (Consciousness)

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    • #37382
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Dear Lal,

      Of late, I have immersed myself in the scientific aspects of what is known of consciousnesses from the physical standpoint of neurophysiology. Of course, science will never be ale to explain, let alone understand, the intricate cause of consciousness. Certain scientists, such as Hammerhoff and Penrose, Childers, and others, continue to theorize that some hidden element of consciousness can be discovered in the physiology of the brain. Their explanations seem to be getting closer to philosophy than science in some cases. However, all this scientific research does produce many good questions. I cannot help but be in awe that the answers to many of their questions are discussed in the Suttas.

      I am convinced that Buddha clearly understood all the aspects of consciousness. I believe that the information contained in the Suttas is relevant to the efforts of modern science. In February 2022 an article was published in Nature containing the first line:

      “Understanding

        how consciousness arises from neural activity

      remains one of the biggest challenges for neuroscience.”

      This statement, I believe, defines the entire problem with a purely scientific approach to consciousness. Science, perhaps does not understand (yet), that consciousness is conditional for each human being. It may be a bit naive to think that science would ever consider (avijja) what the Buddha taught in this regard. I have yet to discover any viable paper or research, other than yours, that applies the teachings of the Buddha to the current questions arising from modern scientific research about consciousness.

      In studying the following list of topics on your site, I find that I am experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed. I am attempting to create for myself a logical cycle of kamma > rebirth > ghandhabba > jati > bhava > manomaya kaya > consiousness…and the rest. Imagine a graphical representation of the cycle of an average rebirth including all of the elements of the process as represented in the Suttas. My goal is to understand the intricate cycle of HOW and WHY consciousness links the WAY it does in a human being according to the Buddha Dhamma.

      The Question: How would you represent, in a list form, e.g. Step 1, Step 2…(imagine dominoes) of the operation of an average human life cycle (including the linking up of consciousness)? Where does the process begin? I know that there is no beginning to rebirth, but does the cycle begin again at death (cuti patisandhi) or a combination of death and the activation of a gandhabba? I wish to begin at the starting point of a single cycle of rebirth and create a sort of, for lack of a better phrase, time-line. At death, what triggers the rebirth process? Kamma, Gandhabba, Cuti Patisandhi??? I think, from what I have studies thus far, that the rebirth process begins with a combination of these things, but in what order, if any? Is the order specific to or determined by kamma?

      I hope this question is not too confusing and you are able to discern what it is that I am asking. A kalpa of thank yous…

      1. Paticca Samuppada
      2. Manomaya kaya
      3. Cuti-patisandhi
      4. Gandhabba (especially)
      5. Bhava
      6. Jati (especially)
      7. Gati
      8. Vatthu dasaka, kāya dasaka, & bhava dasaka
      9. Hadaya vatthu

      …and

      1. Citta and Cetasika – How Viññāṇa (Consciousness) Arises
      2. Gati to Bhava to Jāti – Ours to Control
      3. Ghost in the Machine – Synonym for the Manomaya Kaya?
      4. Gandhabba (Manomaya Kāya)- Introduction
      5. Jāti – Different Types of Births
      6. Kammic Energy Leads to Consciousness
      7. Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda – Bhava and Jāti
        Within a Lifetime

      In metta,
      Dipo

      Consciousness

    • #37389
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      I am also reading the section titled: “Consciousness – A Dhamma Perspective” In a sense, human beings are like a giant double-slit experiment. The observer is the interrupter. The observer is the mental body as well as the physical body. Perhaps there is no Rabbit Hole, just the imaginary concept of a Rabbit Hole. Nothing is down the hole. Everything between the human and the object and or subject, is changeable based on one’s intentions leading to a particular result. I may be way over my head, but this is me rambling with contemplation.
      Dipo

    • #37391
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Dipo,

      You wrote: “In February 2022 an article was published in Nature containing the first line:

      “Understanding how consciousness arises from neural activity
      remains one of the biggest challenges for neuroscience.”

      My Comments:

      1. That would be THE challenge IF one is working on the HYPOTHESIS, that consciousness MUST arise in the brain.
      – There is ABSOULTELY NO EVIDENCE for this HYPOTHESIS.

      2. However, Buddha Dhamma is BASED ON the HYPOTHESIS that consciousness can arise ONLY in a hadaya vatthu created by kammic energy. As we know, hadaya vatthu is the key element in a gandhabba.
      – As I have explained, in Buddha Dhamma, the brain plays a role, but consciousness DOES NOT arise in the brain.
      – That is CONFIRMED by rebirth accounts by children all over the world. In recent years, EVEN MORE STRONG evidence has emerged from accounts of Nead-Death Experiences (NDE):
      Near-Death Experiences (NDE): Brain Is Not the Mind
      – These accounts show that, (i) there can be consciousness without a brain (NDE accounts), and (ii) consciousness can propagate through different lives (rebirth accounts) while the brain is limited to just one life.

      3. Thus, one HYPOTHESIS from #1 and #2 above must be incorrect.
      – There is no way for both to be true.

      I would like to hear your thoughts.

    • #37393
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Hello Lal,

      I agree with your assessment. My reason for quoting the Nature article was to highlight my viewpoint that IF science continues with the posited hypothesis: “Understanding how consciousness arises from neural activity remains one of the biggest challenges for neuroscience,” they may be relegated to a dog chasing its own tail. They will never find the answer. However, perhaps I was not very clear (I have that habit). My focus was really on the question:

      “How would you represent, in a list form, e.g. Step 1, Step 2…(imagine dominoes) of the operation of an average human life cycle (including the linking up of consciousness)? Where does the process begin? I know that there is no beginning to rebirth, but does the cycle begin again at death (cuti patisandhi) or a combination of death and the activation of a gandhabba? I wish to begin at the starting point of a single cycle of rebirth and create a sort of, for lack of a better phrase, time-line. At death, what triggers the rebirth process? Kamma, Gandhabba, Cuti Patisandhi??? I think, from what I have studies thus far, that the rebirth process begins with a combination of these things, but in what order, if any? Is the order specific to or determined by kamma?”

      In your reply, you stated: “…consciousness can arise ONLY in a hadaya vatthu created by kammic energy. As we know, hadaya vatthu is the key element in a gandhabba.”

      So, to simplify:

      1. Hadaya vatthu (mind door): This is a concatenated Pali word. I noticed that the meaning of “hadaya” is “heart” in the Sutta Central dictionary.

      “Hadaya: 1 The substance of the heart Mil.281; Dhs-a.140 2 “heart-basis,” the heart as basis of mind, sensorium commune Tikp.17, Tikp.26, Tikp.53 sq., Tikp.62, Tikp.256; Vism.447; Snp-a.228; Dhs-a.257, Dhs-a.264; the heart as seat of thought and feeling, esp. of strong emotion, which shows itself in the action of the heart SN.i.199.”

      2. Vatthu: a site ; ground ; field ; plot ; object ; a thing ; a substance ; a story. basis, foundation, seat, (objective) substratum, substance, element Ja.i.146. -kamma “act concerning sites,” i.e. preparing the ground for building DN.i.12.

      Am I to understand then that kamma is the substratum from which the hadaya vatthu is created? Existing kammic elements (as in vatthu-kamma) then refine the gandhabba element?

      So, in the process of rebirth (the causal moment of rebirth) would you say that Step 1 is the creation of consciousness via vatthu-kamma, thus energizing a gandhabba?

      In that sequence (if correct) what would you consider Step 2 to be? (I redirect you back to my original question as to purpose of intent.)

      Your site is indispensable to me. However, I do feel like a bird following breadcrumbs from here to there and back again. Perhaps there is no other method than this. However, might I be so bold to suggest a post/section titled: Consciousness & Rebirth: How it Happens? which would be a step by step explanation beginning say from the moment that cuti patisandhi is generated.

      Also, just as a suggestion, when you write a post, it would be immensely helpful to put a brief, concise definition of the Pali word. For example:

      “Gandhabba Is the Essential “Seed” for the Physical Human Body

      1. A human-being is born at the cuti-paṭisandhi moment first with just the “mental body.” That is the manomaya kāya or a gandhabba. Once that gandhabba “descends” to a womb, the physical body starts growing.

      The alternate might be:

      Gandhabba Is the Essential “Seed” for the Physical Human Body

      1. A human-being is born at the cuti-paṭisandhi (joining a new life at the end of the old) moment first with just the “mental body.” That is the manomaya kāya or a gandhabba (mental body). Once that gandhabba “descends” to a womb, the physical body starts growing.

      In metta,
      Dipo

    • #37396
      Lal
      Keymaster

      The key issue is how a hadaya vatthu arises for a given existence. It is explained in Paticca Samuppada (PS):

      1. A hadaya vatthu for a future existence arises due to a specific kammic energy created in this life or previous lives. Let us take my hadaya vatthu.

      2. When I die, my gandhabba (with hadaya vatthu) will come out of my physical body. Then it will wait in that gandhabba state until pulled into a matching womb, and I will be reborn to have a different human body. That process will continue until the lifetime of my hadaya vatthu is exhausted.

      3. At that point, the last citta vithi from this hadaya vatthu will run, which will be focused on an arammana corresponding to the STRONGEST kamma from my past.
      – Suppose I had killed another human being. That arammana would give rise to an existence in an apaya (one of the four lowest realms). But my mind WILL NOT grasp that bhava (existence) IF I have attained a magga phala. If I did not have a magga phala, then the mind would AUTOMATICALLY grasp that existence. That is the “upadana paccaya bhava” step in Uppatti PS.

      4. I would have killed that human either in this life or a previous life (of course, this is just an example) via (abhi)sankhara that arose due to avijja: “avijja paccaya sankhara” in PS.

      5. Of course, I would have done that ONLY IF there was a strong arammana that induced strong greed or anger (with avijja) at that time.
      – That is why I have explained that the PS cycle does not start at “avijja paccaya sankhara.” One starts acting with avijja ONLY IF one gets attached to an arammana.
      – I have tried to explain that in the recent series of posts: “Paṭicca Samuppāda During a Lifetime.”
      – That description is for Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda. But the sequence of events is the same for grasping an “uppatti bhava” or a brand new existence in another realm. Idappaccayātā Paṭicca Samuppāda explains “temporary bhava” grasped during a lifetime.

      6. The bottom line is that brand new hadaya vatthu can ONLY be created by kammic energy.
      – An Arahant’s mind would not grasp any existence (bhava) within the 31 realms. Thus, in Arahant’s last citta vithi, the Uppatti PS STOPS at the “upadana paccaya bhava” step. Thus, the next two steps (“bhava paccaya jati” and ‘jati paccaya jara, marana, soka, ..”) would not arise either. That is the end of suffering in the rebirth process.

    • #37397
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Acchariyo! Anumodati

      So, then if I understand you correctly, in the case of Angulimala, his previous life strong arammana, which negatively influenced his kamma, became washed away by the fact that he was able to overcome very strong avijja, thus awakening to the truth about the nature of his own reality. Therefore, his last citta vithi, stemming from his previous hadaya vatthu was active. This was the cause of his arammana, which corresponded to the STRONGEST kamma from his past actions. He was attached to that strong arammana. Therefore, his previous kammic imprint (kammic energy) was the cause of his hadaya vatthu. Given Angulimala’s awakening (realization) this would negate this hadaya vatthu when the new gandhabba finds its way to a new life.

      Previous to Angulimala’s birth, as Angulimala, his last cuti patisandhi combined with a series of domino-like events, influenced by his negative kammic imprint, thus defining his hadaya vatthu, which grasped at that “mindset,” so that when a gandhabba became active for his life as Angulimala, he was born as a murderer. Is this assessment fairly close?

      Dipo

    • #37405
      Lal
      Keymaster

      “So, then if I understand you correctly, in the case of Angulimala, his previous life strong arammana, which negatively influenced his kamma, became washed away by the fact that he was able to overcome very strong avijja, ..”

      I don’t think that makes any sense. You are not taking the time to read and understand what I write.

    • #37406
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. I will review what you wrote again, as-well-as a review of PS. My understanding of certain things is somewhat basic. However, digging for the true meaning on the Buddha’s teachings is a privilege, and at my age, I have not the time to waste. I am not content with mere recitation or knowing a little bit about the Buddha Dhamma. I am content risking being honest despite causing myself to appear to be stupid to others at times. If I appear to be stupid to others who is it that holds the hot coal? Those emotions are anathema to me, and have no meaning.

      The most wonderful thing that I have learned from the Buddha Dhamma is to see the world as it really is, and how very deeply this world is drowning in delusion. How much gratitude I feel secretly for the privilege of even having access to the Buddha Dhamma; the opportunity, and the fact that it makes sense. I suppose that there is a kammic reason that somehow the Buddha Dhamma seems familiar to me and makes sense once I contemplate and reflect on the purpose and connection behind the teaching. ඔබ මා සමඟ ඉවසීමට ස්තූතියි

      Dipo

    • #37407
      cubibobi
      Participant

      I have been reading the current series of post, the latest of which being:

      Pañcupādānakkhandha – Attachment to One’s Experiences

      Thank you very much for these posts, especially when it so happened that I was reviewing the “old” section on pañcakkhandha:

      The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha)

      In this forum, Lal said:
      2. When I die, my gandhabba (with hadaya vatthu) will come out of my physical body. Then it will wait in that gandhabba state until pulled into a matching womb, and I will be reborn to have a different human body.

      This is from the view point of the “building blocks” level of abhidhamma. In the transition, what actually arises is still pañcakkhandha, or perhaps pañcupādānakkhandha, correct?

      Also, from #4 of the latest post mentioned above:

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

      Along with vedanākkhandha, other khandā may be “contaminated” as well?

      There is abhisaṅkhāra in saṅkhārakkhandha, kamma viññāṇa in viññāṇakkhandha, and (I guess) avijja in saññākkhandha?

      Dipobhasadhamma, you kept asking about a “starting point”. It’s hard to know what you meant exactly, but in the context of pañcakkhandha, especially with the latest post, that “starting point” may be taken to be an ārammaṇa. An ārammaṇa triggers pañcakkhandha, and most likely in an average being, pañcupādānakkhandha.

      This triggering works both in a current life and from one life to the next. In the latter case the ārammaṇa is called a nimitta I believe.

      And even from the “building blocks” abhidhamma point of view, we can still view an ārammaṇa as a “starting point” of some sort. My understanding of the “data flow” of mental processes is:

      An ārammaṇa makes contact with a sense organ, say the physical eyes.
      The sense organ sends signals to the brain, via the nervous system.
      The brain sends signals to the manomaya kaya (gandhabba), via another system (the “ray” system I believe).
      The ghandabba processes the signals from the brain and sends back instructions — vaci sankhara, kaya sankhara.

      Best,
      Lang

    • #37408
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Dearest Lang,
      Thank you for the explanation. I do not know all of the Pali terms you are using, so I will have to look them up. With regard to my asking about a starting point, the elementary nature of my question may be getting lost amidst an intellectual mental block. Basically, let’s assume that a persons last thought is both the end and the starting point (citta vithi) and cuti patisandhi.

      What comes next? I understand that there is a whole series of things that will effect the forming of the next life. If I understand correctly, the “series of things” is influenced by and generated from a person’s kammic profile (kammic energy) and the level/intensity/condition (?) of the existent arammana. At death, according to Lal, the gandhabba, which is attached to or accompanied by a person’s hadaya vathu, leaves the old body, and awaits a “matching” womb. This cycle continues until a person’s hadaya vathu is exhausted.

      According to the definition at Sutta Central, I agree that “arammana” is the starting point. But, is arammana a condition, a state, a cause? From the definition, it seems that arammana is more like a type of fuel or catalyst. Is arammana a constituent element of one’s kammic profile?

      So, the gandhabba with its attached hadaya vathu is waiting in the wings. A matching womb comes available. Then, according to Lal: <b>”At that point, the last citta vithi from this hadaya vatthu will run, which will be focused on an arammana corresponding to the STRONGEST kamma from my past.”</b>

      Does it appear that this enfeebled brain is beginning to understand the concepts?

      With metta,
      Dipo

      New Concise Pali English Dictionary
      ārammaṇa: neuter basis, starting point (for producing or initiating activity), footing; basis of meditation; object, object of consideration, sense-object

      PTS Pali English Dictionary

      Ārammaṇa: neuter primary meaning “foundation”, from this applied in the following: senses: support, help, footing, expedient, anything to be depended upon as a means of achieving what is desired, i.e. basis of operation, chance Snp verse 1069 (= ālambana, nissaya, upanissaya Cnd.132); Pv.4:1 (yaṁ kiñc’ ārammaṇaṁ katvā) ārammaṇaṁ labhati (+ otāraṁ labhati) to get the chance SN.ii.268; SN.iv.185; condition, ground, cause, means esp. a cause of desire or clinging to life, pl. -ā causes of rebirth (interpreted by taṇhā at Mnd.429), lust Snp verse 474 (= paccayā Snp-a.410), Snp verse 945 (= Mnd.429); Kp-a.23; Dhp-a.i.288 (sappāy˚); Pv-a.279

    • #37409
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I appreciate your effort, Dipo. Thank you, Lang, for providing valuable input.

      It is just that I have been somewhat frustrated with another discussion forum recently. I have been trying to explain certain problems with the current status of Buddha Dhamma. Most texts in English are quite wrong. But even the moderators at that forum seem to be incapable of seeing the obvious problems in English translations. See “Distortion of Pāli Keywords in Paṭicca Samuppāda.”

      Anyway, I will think about how to clarify certain concepts relevant to the present discussion in more detail and provide links to some more relevant posts.
      – Dipo: In the meantime, please read up on the posts that I referred to earlier and the ones that Lang mentioned. We appreciate your efforts and will do our best to help. As you realized, it is important to understand some basic concepts that have been misinterpreted for so long. It is not your fault.

    • #37411
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Dear Lal,

      Thank you Lal. I hope that you are able to gain some headway in the other forum. What did the Buddha do when faced with someone whose apparent ignorance was solid as granite? It is my belief that all of the mistranslations, misinterpretations and warping of the Buddha Dhamma in our present Age, are due in part to humankind’s seeming love affair with individuality. Many Westerners seek to develop their own concept of what the Buddha taught, and at times with righteous indignation. Westerner’s believe they need labels for everything, including the Buddha Dhamma. This is the reason that Westerner’s gravitate toward labeling what the Buddha taught religion. Perhaps this is a sign that we are approaching the 500 years when the Dhamma will disappear until Maitraya is born. I hesitate to say this out loud, but the various Mahayana branches have not done the Buddha Dhamma any favors.

      I have been reading feverishly, but as you know, deep concentration and meditation is necessary to make connections with regard to understanding the Dhamma…the big picture. Again, thank you Lal and Lang. I appreciate the help.

    • #37412
      cubibobi
      Participant

      Dipo,

      “But, is arammana a condition, a state, a cause? … Is arammana a constituent element of one’s kammic profile?”

      Is it necessary to dissect the concept to this level? It may not be helpful, and you may get lost in over intellectualizing things.

      Numerous ārammaṇa come during waking hours. I was reading your post before writing this, so your post was an ārammaṇa for me at that time. Before that, I was reading a work email, so that work email was an ārammaṇa, etc., etc.

      Do we need to get any deeper than this?

      The crucial point is whether an ārammaṇa triggers defilements in the mind — such as lobha, dosa, moha. If it does then we strive to stop those defilements and cultivate the opposite qualities. That is meditation (bhavana), and is a different subject.

      “Basically, let’s assume that a persons last thought is both the end and the starting point (citta vithi) and cuti patisandhi.

      What comes next?”

      Lal explained that, and it does sound like you got it, although it also seems like you are trying to dive a bit deeper than necessary.

      Manomaya kaya (also called gandhabba for humans and animals) = hadaya vatthu + pasada rūpā.

      citta vithis flow in the manomaya kaya.

      The last citta vithi of one life is followed by the first citta vithi of the next life. If the next life is in a different realm then it is a new set of hadaya vatthu + pasada rūpā.

      If it is still in the same human bhava, then the same set of hadaya vatthu + pasada rūpā exits the dead body, and will be pulled into a womb in the future. In the mean time, citta vithis are still flowing.

      In the abhidhamma section, Lal described gandhabba and citta vithis in details, including the name of each citta in a citta vithi.

      Abhidhamma

      If that’s the level of details you are after then check that out.

      Best,
      Lang

    • #37414
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I was going to suggest some posts for Dipo to read on the terms in Paticca Samuppada (sankhara, vinnana, etc.). Then I saw that Lang has commented on your questions about arammana. So, let me comment a bit more on that first. I will suggest those posts on the other Pali words tomorrow.

      Dipo quoted:

      “New Concise Pali English Dictionary
      ārammaṇa: neuter basis, starting point (for producing or initiating activity), footing; basis of meditation; object, object of consideration, sense-object

      PTS Pali English Dictionary

      Ārammaṇa: neuter primary meaning “foundation”, from this applied in the following: senses: support, help, footing, expedient, anything to be depended upon as a means of achieving what is desired, i.e. basis of operation, chance Snp verse 1069 (= ālambana, nissaya, upanissaya Cnd.132); Pv.4:1 (yaṁ kiñc’ ārammaṇaṁ katvā) ārammaṇaṁ labhati (+ otāraṁ labhati) to get the chance SN.ii.268; SN.iv.185; condition, ground, cause, means esp. a cause of desire or clinging to life, pl. -ā causes of rebirth (interpreted by taṇhā at Mnd.429), lust Snp verse 474 (= paccayā Snp-a.410), Snp verse 945 (= Mnd.429); Kp-a.23; Dhp-a.i.288 (sappāy˚); Pv-a.279

      ***

      This is a good example of the problem we are facing today. Those dictionaries were written by the early European scholars who tried their best to interpret the vast Pali literature they came across in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries in the early 1800s.
      – At that time, Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) was in a very bad state as I described in “Elephant in the Room” – Direct Translation of the Tipiṭaka.”
      – Those European scholars learned Pali (and Sanskrit) from the locals. As I mentioned, there were no bhikkhus or any other scholars with good knowledge of Buddha Dhamma or Pali.
      – Thus, SOME of the explanations in the dictionaries that you quote are not quite correct. For example, they translate “vinnana” as “consciousness.” But “vinnana” can have different meanings depending on the context. I will give you some posts to read tomorrow.
      P.S. It was Waharaka Thero (my late teacher) who provided correct interpretations of those words. How can we know that they are the correct interpretations? They lead to self-consistency within the Tipitaka. There are many inconsistencies with other interpretations/translations, as I pointed out in MANY posts, including the above-mentioned post. Also see, “Parinibbāna of Waharaka Thēro.”

      Arammana is another word that is not translated correctly. As I try to emphasize, it is better to learn the Pali word’s meaning and use it rather than trying to translate it. Many Pali words CAN NOT be translated as single English words: Anicca, anatta, sankhara, vinnana…etc.
      Arammana 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.)
      – The best way to find relevant posts on a word(s) is to use the “Search box’ labeled “Enter Keyword” on the top right. I did that, and here is the result for “arammana”:
      Search Results for: arammana
      – The very first post is a good one to start. Scan through others also and get a feel for it. Feel free to ask questions if not clear.

    • #37422
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Thank you Lal, Lang and Cubibobi. I am beginning to obtain some clarity on this subject. Reading many current books and papers on the topic of consciousness from Roger Penrose (“Shadows of the Mind”), Colin McGinn (“The Mysterious Flame”), Llinas & Chruchland (“The Mind-Brain Continuum”), Christof Koch, Avi Loeb, David Chalmers, and Anil Seth, et al. I am left with the impression that science and philosophy is dancing around some of the same questions posited by people such as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, and yet are no closer to obtaining any answers.

      Although I do not have a complete grasp of the Buddha Dhamma regarding the elements and mechanics of consciousness and rebirth (yet), I instinctively feel that the answers to questions about consciousness were already well known by the Buddha. Now, whether or not science and philosophy are prepared to consider the Buddha Dhamma on this subject is another story altogether.

      My query into this topic does not stem from a position of intellectualism or a desire to feed some intellectual need. Rather, my interest stems from curiosity on one level, and a sense of awe on another. That I have lived these many years (67) and not known that the answers to the problems of human existence were right under my nose is sobering to say the least. Having come as far as I have in my study of the Buddha Dhamma I can express with conviction that there is no turning back. Considering the present topic at hand, I feel like I am standing on a precipice of understanding. In one sense it is exhilarating, and stuffed with energy and determination. In another sense, I feel that there exists yet another, more sobering level, which is that of responsibility to act according to what I am learning. Seeing the world, and indeed, my own life, as it actually is: The truth about the nature of reality, is nothing less than a marvel.

      So, thank you all for your generous input.

      Now, with regard to something Lal has written about many times,

      “This is a good example of the problem we are facing today. Those dictionaries were written by the early European scholars who tried their best to interpret the vast Pali literature they came across in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries in the early 1800s.”

      This is very similar to the case of ancient hieroglyphs, demotic and cuneiform that were first decoded and translated one-hundred years ago. But, I must ask what sources do you rely on for deciphering the true meaning of the Pali language? Is there a more up to date source (perhaps TamilCube) other than the Pali Text Society’s renderings? Also, is the case the same for learning Pali from the many sources available? At present I use TamilCube, PTS and Sutta Central. Are there better sources? Also, if I teach myself Pali how confident can I be that what I am learning is correct or that the sources for learning render correct translation?

      I have written many papers focusing on everyday issues using the Buddha Dhamma to explain the solutions. In most of these papers I try and circle the reader toward the Four Noble Truths. However, with regard to the correctness of my references of Buddha Dhamma, I am on my own. Not for egotistical reasons I write out of a sense of Dhamma-driven compulsion. I have a feeling that Lal may know what I am talking about. For example, I wrote a paper titled: “Why Am I Who I Am?” (ResearchGate)* that has become quite popular around the world. There is scarcely a country where this paper has not reached. However, in my efforts to write about the Buddha Dhamma as it applies to questions about the problems of human existence, I do so with a sense of hesitation because I worry about how correct my references are in terms of the correct meaning of the Pali words. I give it my best, whatever my best is at this moment in time.

      Lal’s Forum is invaluable to me. It is evident that he has a strong conviction for preserving the Dhamma as was spoken by the Buddha. So, should anyone care to read this article and provide me with feedback, particularly if there are any instances where I may have, unintentionally and grossly misrepresented the Buddha Dhamma.

      Again, thank you all for your kind dana.

      Dipo

      * Alternate sites:
      Internet ArchiveWhy Am I Who I Am?
      Academia: Why Am I Who I Am?

    • #37423
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Dipo,

      In my opinion, reading the works of Roger Penrose, etc., in the present day to Aristotle, Plato and Socrates will not clarify the origin of consciousness. The bottom line is that consciousness CAN NOT arise from inert matter. But, of course, each person is entitled to whatever they want to do.

      Dipo asked: “But, I must ask what sources do you rely on for deciphering the true meaning of the Pali language?”

      1. The question should be, “But, I must ask what sources you rely on to learn Buddha Dhamma?”
      – Learning Buddha Dhamma cannot be equated to learning Pali. One can be an expert in the Pali language and be totally ignorant of the teachings of the Buddha. Tipitaka suttas are in summary form. They MUST BE explained in detail. That is why the current word-by-word translations are mostly useless. Not only are they useless, but they lead to confusion. I have referred to one post that I wrote on that, but I regularly point out more examples in my posts.
      – As I explained, I learned Buddha Dhamma from Waharaka Thero. I learned the Pali language on my own. It does help a lot that the Sinhala language is very similar to Pali.
      – At some point, it would be very beneficial to learn Pali. Once one has a basic understanding of Buddha Dhamma, it is easier to learn Pali.

      2. Learning the Pali language and learning Buddha Dhamma are two different things.
      – If one needs to learn Buddha Dhamma from the Tipitaka, then one needs to learn Pali.
      – However, even if one is an absolute scholar of the Pali language that DOES NOT mean he/she will have a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma by reading the Tipitaka. One MUST learn the basics of Buddha Dhamma from the Buddha himself or a true disciple of the Buddha who has attained a magga phala.
      – Think about it this way: Suppose there is a person who has excellent knowledge of English and German languages. If he is not a scientist, will he be able to translate a science textbook from English to German?
      – That is the current situation in translating Tipitaka Pali suttas to English. Most of the translators have no understanding of Buddha Dhamma. They translate Tipitaka texts word-by-word (using unreliable dictionaries). That only leads to confusion. That is apparent in any online discussion group like Dhamma Wheel or Discuss & Discover.

      3. One NEEDS TO be able to learn Buddha Dhamma from a Noble Person who has UNDERSTOOD Buddha Dhamma to some level.
      – Of course, the critical issue is determining whether a given translator has such qualifications.
      The only way to sort out good teachers from bad ones is to check whether their teachings are self-consistent AND always compatible with the Tipitaka.
      – The latter measure cannot be used until one learns the Pali language. But anyone should be able to see the inconsistencies WITHIN most of the English translations. I have given many examples.
      – I always encourage anyone to point out any inconsistencies within my website. There could be (and have been) minor errors, and I have been able to fix them.

      4. So it is good to have some knowledge of Pali. If one has a good knowledge of Pali, one would be able to check for the inconsistencies with the Tipitaka on one’s own.
      – I have already stated that translations at Sutta Central and also Pali Text Society (PTS) have many inaccuracies. TamilCube does not have Pali resources, to my knowledge. It has Sanskrit, but the Buddha prohibited using the Sanskrit language to convey Buddha Dhamma. That is because Sanskrit has some words like anitya and anatma that many people equate with anicca and anatta (they sound similar but have very different meanings).
      – A Pali dictionary that I use is “Concise Pali-English Dictionary“. This also has some errors.

      5. Now, let me give some posts on a few Pali keywords to look up if you are interested:
      – Tanha: “Kāma Tanhā, Bhava Tanhā, Vibhava Tanhā
      – Sanna: “Saññā – What It Really Means
      – Sankhara: “Saṅkhāra – What It Really Means
      – Please feel free to ask questions.

    • #37424
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Dear Lal,

      Your comment:

      “In my opinion, reading the works of Roger Penrose, etc., in the present day to Aristotle, Plato and Socrates will not clarify the origin of consciousness. The bottom line is that consciousness CAN NOT arise from inert matter. But, of course, each person is entitled to whatever they want to do.”

      I am reading these merely to obtain a correct view of what these scientists are saying. When reading their works I can see where the Buddha Dhamma applies. For example, the following was offered by Colin McGinn (professor of philosophy at Rutgers University) in his book titled “The Mysterious Flame.”

      Consciousness and the question of self are intimately related. the self also has a hidden nature, an unknown essence. We ask, under what conditions the self continues to exist. The deeper question is how a bunch of cells can become a self anyway. The fact that there is no scientific criteria for the appearance of selves. We don’t know enough about what makes a self exist. We can know that we exist all right, but we cannot grasp our intrinsic nature. I suggest that our ignorance here is an ignorance of a hidden architecture of the self. Something about the hidden structure of the self determines its unity and identity, but we do not grasp this hidden structure, which is why we cannot answer questions about unity and identity with any reliability. If the existence of the self is so knowable then its nature must also be knowable. The fact is that we have no good theory about mental causation, no model for how reasoning leads to choice. Mental causation is mysterious. We simply have no general theoretical grasp of how mental states cause behavior. Once we let go of the craving to explain, we can accept the reality of something that we cannot theoretically comprehend. But, mental causation remains secretive and opaque.

      As I am sure you may experience the same idea, when I read these things, I realize two things: 1) How close some of these scientists and philosophers get, but are totally in the dark. 2) That the things that they state, represent the essence of what is being told to the general public. My only purpose for reading such things is to understand, from an analytical standpoint, what the world is being told in comparison to what the Buddha Dhamma states. Using this knowledge, I will be able to compose a paper that addresses both sides of the issue of consciousness for the purpose of revealing just how lost science and philosophy are with regard to this subject.

      Your comment #1: That was a good clarification, thank you. I wish that there was a Bhante such as Waharaka Thero near me. I live in a Dhamma desert. The closest monastery to me is several hundred miles away. My physical health prevents me from doing many things. I was born with a genetic spinal disorder known as Anykylosing Spondylitis. According to the initial questions asked for someone seeking Patimokkha regarding health, i.e. Do you have leprosy? Do you have boils? Do you have eczema? Do you have tuberculosis? Do you have epilepsy? My condition requires that I have constant medical attention and many medications. Part of becoming a Theravada monk requires you to give up all possessions which includes money and any non-essential hygiene equipment or medical supplies such as creams or ointments. That is not possible for me to do.

      However, my condition is of no consequence with regard to how I conduct my life as a follower of the Buddha. I fully intend on being a bhikkhu, even if I am not at a monastery or have a Master/preceptor to bring me through the complete set of vows. I conduct my life at present as close to a monk as is possible. I follow the Vinaya rules as much as I am able. I still have to handle money and attend to money-affairs. However, I have given away most of my belongings and live quite frugally.

      There are many examples in the Sutta of so-called lay-persons who achieved even Arahanthood. Then there is the existence of a paccekabuddha (ariya-puggala who has realized Nibbana without having heard the Buddha’s doctrine from others.) I do not flatter myself that I am either, but my intention is that I am able to continue to learn and live the Buddha Dhamma until this life-cycle is finished. Writing helps me to learn because I have to do a lot of research. Since the Buddha Dhamma has made such an impression and caused me to change my life, I feel compelled to write about it. Perhaps the reason why I was given the name Anacaryiako was relevant. I have yet to fulfill the true meaning of my first name Dipobhasadhamma, since I can hardly be called a lamp that illuminates the Dhamma, at least not yet.

      Thank you for the reference to the Pali dictionary that you use. I did not know of it. Also, I have been using TamilCube’s Pali Dictionary to compare to PTS and Sutta Central. And, thank you for the Post references. I did download your posts in book format as well. But I have started a catalog arranged by subject matter on an external hard drive. I am in the process of creating an Index of subjects for myself as easy reference. I know that it would be a tremendous amount of work, but you might consider compiling your own Pali Dictionary.

      Thank you for your generosity and response. I have much reading to do.

      With metta,
      Dipo

    • #37426
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello Dipo,

      1. Yes. I also did quite a bit of that many years ago. I still try to keep up with it just to see their progress. They have not made any progress since then.

      – Colin McGinn, Thomas Nagel, and David Chalmers are philosophers who have realized that consciousness cannot arise in the brain. Chalmers famously coined the term “hard problem in consciousness” (how can matter give rise to mental phenomena).

      2. There is a trace of matter that DOES give rise to consciousness, and that is the hadaya vatthu that I mentioned above. That unimaginably small “seat of the mind” (much smaller than an atom in modern science) is created by kammic energy.
      – What they call Artificial Intelligence (AI) is just fancy computer programs. As someone said, it is AI without the “I” (intelligence). They can get things done faster, but there will NEVER be a “conscious robot.” For example, how can the feeling of pain or joy arise in a machine? That is the “hard problem of consciousness.”
      – That hadaya vatthu also has a finite lifetime. But before it dies, enough kammic energy to generate many more such hadaya vatthu (corresponding to different realms) are created by javana citta that arise in hadaya vatthu. Those can be called “kamma bija” or seeds for future hadaya vatthu
      – In the last citta vithi of a hadaya vatthu, one of those kamma seeds is grasped and becomes “active,” and the lifestream continues. Only an Arahant would not grasp any kamma seed. That is how the rebirth process comes to an end.
      – That is a very brief description. Abhidhamma describes that in great detail.

      3. The problem is that none of those philosophers know that such a description exists. Even if someone told them, I don’t know whether they will be receptive to spending time learning Abhidhamma.
      – Abhidhamma is the ultimate theory of the mind.

      4. However, one can attain Nibbana without learning Abhidhamma. If the basic concepts of the Four Noble Truths/Paticca Samuppada/Tilakkhana are understood, one can become a Sotapanna and then make further progress. Those three approaches get one to the same understanding.

      Finally, I am sorry to hear about your medical condition. You seem to be coping well. I, too, live a simple life.

    • #37441
      Dipobhasadhamma
      Participant

      Dear Lal,

      Thank you for the reply. It was quite informative e.g. with hadaya vathu. So, I believe I am beginning to formulate a big picture. Let me know if I am close to clear understanding. My sequence may be incorrect.

      Kammic energy, which properties (conditions) are determined individually by one’s actions both past and present, is the linking energy determining the future rebirth. Kammic properties are influenced, in part by strong arammana, either positive or negative, but if I am correct, the arammana is similar to intent in concept; it is therefore the trigger for a cause which produces an effect.

      The body dies:
      1. Cuti Patisandhi takes place.
      2. The gandhabba leaves the dead body. (Little confused here: If hadaya-vithu is the key element of gandhabba, does this mean that the hadaya vithu of the dead person transfers to the new life as a part of the gandhabba?) You instruction: “A hadaya vatthu for a future existence arises due to a specific kammic energy created in this life and previous lives.”
      3. Kammic energy, in the form of kamma bija, produces the hadaya vithu? (This step may be misplaced and or misunderstood.)
      4. The hadaya vathu and the gandhabba from the dead person lie in wait for a matching womb(?). (I am not sure if this is the correct perspective.)
      5. The last citta vithi of the person’s death will be the first of the new body. (Citta Vithi remains, for lack of a better description, active, alive (?) in a similar way as a computer’s motherboard battery keeps the clock alive. Your instruction: “…the last citta vithi from this hadaya vatthu will run, which will be focused on an arammana corresponding to the
      STRONGEST kamma from my past.”

      Not sure if I am close. But, here is where I encounter fog. Which attribute seeks the new womb? Is it the gandhabba or the kamma bija? OR is the kamma bija an element of the gandhabba or the other way around. I suppose I am having difficulty placing these various elements of the death and rebirth process in sequence. I imagine that some of the elements are not necessarily sequential, but may be concurrent. Still, I am having a bit of difficulty putting then in order. I am not sure you can see how I am trying to put the process into some kind of order. If I could, I think it would make more sense to me. I do not think that I have a very abstract way of thinking. I have very strong creative tendencies, painting, drawing, music, cooking, designing, writing, gardening, etc.

      (If you are interested, I posted several of my artwork images on my Facebook Profile.)
      Dipobhasadhamma’s Artwork

      With metta,
      Dipo

    • #37447
      Lal
      Keymaster

      The picture is still not right.

      Let me summarize some general rules.

      1. Devas in the six realms and various Brahmas in 20 realms have things differently. They don’t have separate gandhabbas. They die with the same “body” that they are born with, i.e., there is one birth (jati) within that existence (bhava).

      2. Humans and animals share a different mechanism. They can be born (jati) with dense physical bodies many times during that existence (bhava).

      3. The rest of the realms are in the apayas, and can have either #1 or #2.

      Let us focus on the mechanism for human/animal realms. That is what you are trying to model.

      4. As an example, suppose a Deva exhausts the life in that realm and is born a human. When Deva disappears from the Deva realm, a human gandhabba appears in the human realm (at that moment).

      5. That gandhabba may have a lifetime of many thousands of years. The lifetime of the human realm (human existence) is not fixed, unlike some Deva and Brahma realms.
      – On the other hand, the lifetime of a physical human body is around 100 years.
      So, there can be many births with physical bodies for that human gandhabba.
      – That is to say: there are multiple births (jati) for a given human/animal existence (bhava).
      – There is only one birth (jati) for a Brahma/Deva existence (bhava).
      – This point needs to be understood.

      6. So, in the example of #4: Suppose the human gandhabba has a lifetime of 10,000 years.
      – After born a human gandhabba, it may not be pulled into a womb for many years. Once getting into a womb, a baby will be born and that is a human birth (jati).
      Let me emphasize: Human gandhabba defines that human existence. It is the same gandhabba that will be born with different human PHYSICAL BODIES many times within that long time.

      7. Therefore, when that first human physical body dies (let us say after 100 years), that gandhabba still has many more years to live. So, it will come out of that dead physical body and wait until pulled into another womb.
      – That process will continue until the lifetime of that “human gandhabba” is exhausted after 10,000 years.

      8. At that time (i.e., after 10,000 years), the “human gandhabba” will die. If it is inside a physical human body, then of course, that physical body will die too.
      – That is when it will “grasp a new existence (bhava),” i.e., the cuti-patisandhi moment in the last citta vithi happens at that time.
      – So, it could get into another existence (bhava) at that time.

      9. There are a few exceptions to the above steps for a human gandhabba (#6 through #8):
      – That human MAY commit an “anantariya (or anantarika) kamma” while in a physical human body (like us now). There are “good anantariya kamma” like attaining a magga phala or attaining a jhana. There are “bad anantariya kamma” like killing a parent or killing an Arahant.
      – In either case, the physical human body can “bear” that new state arising due to the anantariya kamma. However, as soon as that physical body dies, the gandhabba state will die too, i.e., even if more time (of the 10,000-year lifetime) is left, that gandhabba will die and switch over to an existence dictated by the anantariya kamma.
      – For example, if that human had attained the Anagami stage of magga phala, a Brahma in a realm appropriate for that Anagami stage will be born. If that human had attained a jhana, a Brahma in an appropriate Brahma realm would be born. If that human had killed a parent, then existence in an apaya would be grasped.

      Let us make sure to get these “fundamentals” right. Please refer to the bullet number(s) and ask questions if not clear.

      P.S. I don’t have Facebook or other social accounts (other than the puredhamma Twitter account: @puredhamma1). If you have a pdf of the article “Why Am I Who I Am?” please post it here or send it to me: [email protected]. Otherwise, please don’t worry about it. Thanks.

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